Friday, 3/18/11

NYT  St Patrick’s Day (SethG)  


CS  untimed 


LAT 7:35 (SethG) 


CHE 7:32 (SethG) 


WSJ 17:40 (SethG) 


Patrick Merrell’s New York Times crossword

3/18/11 NY Times crossword solution 0318

Last year I had trouble with the Friday and Saturday puzzles when I subbed for Amy on ACPT weekend. This year I think I’m a better solver, so I just wanted to at least finish the puzzles when I’m here in front of y’all. So maybe going out for St Patrick’s Day was not such a good idea. I’m tipsy, I’m tired, and I failed. (hic!)

Hey, Patrick’s puzzle, on St. Patrick’s Day! (hic!) Well, the day after, but I “solved” this on St. Patrick’s Day. Which I spent at an Irish bar, listening to bagpipe music. Which I was gonna joke about, but there is actually (hic!) a national bagpipe of Ireland. Who knew?


  • 22a. [Worms cries] is ACHS. I got that, because they had a diet there.
  • 61a. [Was irritated and made some noise about it?] clues SNEEZED. I sneeze a lot, and (hic!) I almost always sneeze in pairs. If not, then 3 or more–I never sneeze a singleton.
  • 2d. [What may be coming after you] is ARE.  I assume as in “so beautiful”, “the sunshine of my life”, or “here”. I had VEE.
  • 6d. SLOW NEWS DAY is the best thing in the puzzle.
  • 22d. [Like something you heard] cluing AURAL is the worst thing in the puzzle. Even worse than buying TIX at the B.O. or OON.
  • 24d. (hic!)
  • 30d. (HEC!)

Okay, I’m (hic!) actually more tired than tipsy, so I’ll wrap it up here.

Updated Friday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sales Talk”—Janie’s review

On the surface of it (and as the clue at 69-Across confirms), this is a pretty straight-forward “synonym” puzzle: [Sales person’s forte, and a synonym for the ends of this puzzle’s three longest entries] SPIEL. But look at how just how lively those three longest entries are:

  • 20A. PITTER-PATTER [Sound of little feet].
  • 39A. LAYS IT ON THE LINE [Speaks completely truthfully]. Hmmm. An interesting inclusion in a theme about salesmanship… Unless you know the guy or gal, it can be difficult to know whether or not to trust an EARNEST [Extremely sincere] salesperson. Nature of the line of work. My dad was a salesman and I’ve done my own time in retail sales, so I know of what I speak.
  • 56A. PERFECT PITCH [Unfailing tone recognition]. Love this term and its usage, in both literal and figurative examples.

Now, if you’re on the receiving end of any too-slick spiel, patter, line or pitch, and find you still can’t resist, please do your best to get a FAIR DEAL—which I see as today’s bonus fill, even if it is clued administratively as [Truman program]. And if the salesperson is a SOURPUSS [Grouchy sort], by all means, run—don’t walk!

Cluing highlights today give us the likes of the non-Guinness-related [Record holder?] for EX-CON; [Grave letters?] for R.I.P. (with its mournful complement BEREAVE [Make grief-stricken]); [They’re occasionally loaded] for BASES (this non-alcohol-related combo is a nice complement to [Speakeasy opponents] for DRYS); [Kind of circus?] for MEDIA; and my fave today, the non-covert-ops-related [Went undercover?] for SLEPT.

With a nod to the armed forces and government we also see:

  • UNIT [Military group]
  • PFC [Cpl’s inferior] and that perpetual private, BEETLE [Bailey of the comics]
  • NAVAL [Like the Annapolis Academy] and PLEBE [Annapolis freshman]
  • NORAD [Canada-United States defense org.], the North American Aerospace Defense Command—those fine folks who, among other responsibilities, track Santa’s sleigh each Christmas.

Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword

3/18/11 LA Times crossword solution

The theme is (48d.) OUTING,  and there are 5 wacky phrases that result from remov the ING ending from wackless base phrases.

  • 17a. [Lodging surplus?] turns baseball’s extra innings into the EXTRA INNS of, uh, Hotel World?
  • 20a. Gianni Versace takes an American creation consisting of a mixture of water, oil, vinegar, black pepper, minced onions, bell peppers, sugar, herbs, and spices and turns it into an ITALIAN DRESS.
  • 37a. One who’s [Misplaced Yogi and Smokey?] has LOST ONE’S BEARS only if Yogi and Smokey were one’s bears to start with. And whoever ONE is, she also has a UNIT of blood (52a.).
  • 58a. A BRITISH SHILL isn’t a plant that grows in the ground, it’s a person who poses as a customer at Sotheby’s in order to decoy others into participating.
  • 62a. SILK STOCK. With SILK in place, I tried to see if STALK would work. Silk Stalkings is a tv show I remember only because of a Tina Fey bit here.

Actually, the whole STOCK area was tricky. None of the downs came easy (kil. for kilometers in a LT YR, the Valentine’s OOO hugs, the old Honda CRX, KEY), and I couldn’t think of the ROXY theater. This little corner probably took a third of my time.

Some down notes:

  • 1d. TRE is a little past due because it’s the Italian word for three.
  • 6d. DUNLOP is a [Maker of tires and tennis balls], while (43a.) YAMAHA is a [Maker of pianos and bikes]. And more–I actually used a Yamaha tennis racket back in the day. The Gold 90, if you’re keeping score. I loved that racket.
  • 10d. [Met expectations?] is OPERAS because Dan strains his use of “expectations” to make this work.
  • 16d. ASSNS crossing (31a.) STNS is not great, but that’s what happens when you fit in 60 theme squares, including stacked theme entries and a reveal.
  • 23d. With Kxxx in place for [__ Ration], I couldn’t think of what more the answer needed. It’s KEN-L Ration dog food, not army food in WWII.

Hee hee, I made a down pun!

Jim Leeds’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “University Recruiting”

3/18/11 Chronicle of Higher Education solution "University Recruiting"

Collegiate puns. The names of Midwestern universities are punned as purported marketing slogans for their schools. Just in time for day 2 of round 1 of the NCAA tournament!

The 20-14 Golden Eagles of the Big East is SUPER MARQUETTE. Tonight, at 7:27 pm EDT, they will play the 24-7 Musketeers of the Atlantic 10 Conference. That is, HEAVENLY XAVIER. I picked Xavier, because I like Xavier’s X better than Marquette’s Q.

One team not appearing in the tournament is the 7-24 Blue Demons, who finished 1-17 in the Big East. But they’ve been good in the past, so maybe KEEP YOUR EYE ON DEPAUL in the future.

The puns, by the way, are for “market”, “savior”, and “the ball”.

Some other stuff:

  • 13a. No idea how RADIO is a [Depression-era cathedral]. I didn’t look it up because I won’t remember anyway, but I’m sure someone will tell me.
  • 49a. Also don’t know what joins Paradise in Moore’s Paradise and the PERI, but I won’t remember that either.
  • 60a. I do know the Ramones’ I WANNA Be Sedated. Because I know the Ramones, not because of anything I may have implied about myself with last night’s (hic!) NYT write-up.
  • 5d. A hero is a POOR BOY in New Orleans, and a po’ boy in N’awlins.
  • 22d. Salinger wrote For ESMÉ – with Love and Squalor. Which you knew, but I never pass up a chance to link to the story. I love that story.

Michael Sharp’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pimp My Ride”

Wall Street Journal crossword answers 3/18/11 "Pimp My Ride"

I’m off to lunch, and I’ll say more about Michael’s puzzle later. Which won’t be hard, as I’m saying nothing yet. Toodles!

Updated Friday afternoon:

I’m published! Okay, Michael Sharp wrote the puzzle, but when he tweeted in January about needing a 10-letter entry for “carmake (i.e. FORD) + famouslastnamethatsoundslikecarmodel”, I twittered back. And one of my suggestions was KIA SPECTOR. Which is in this puzzle. Which has been published! My most crosswordy suggestions were GMC YOKO ONO and SUZUKI EERO, and I am not surprised he had better options to go with…

Actually, I should say that most of the credit for this puzzle goes to Michael Sharp, but some to Mike Shenk as well. Today’s tweeting reports that most of the non-theme entries between 33a. EMIGRE and 97a. STYES were rewritten, as well as the far NW corner. Oh well, I guess I’ll just refer to the constructor as MS and call it good.

Theme entries:

  • 23a. HONDA Pilot, you’d be a perfect [Vehicle custom-made for a biblical judge?], Pontius PILATE.
  • 29a. FORD Torus, meet […12-time Olympic swimming medalist] Dara TORRES.
  • 34a. SUBARU Forrester, meet […20th-century British novelist] E.M. FORSTER.
  • 50a. TOYOTA Prius, meet Reince PRIEBUS. I knew Michael “MS” Steele was out, but I did not remember the name of the new RNC chairman. He’s probably the first famous Reince, too, so be prepared for that first name.
  • 61a. VOLKSWAGEN Passat, meet Mary CASSATT, an […American Impressionist] I couldn’t remember.
  • 78a. PORSCHE Cayman, meet […sci-fi/fantasy/comic book author] Neil GAIMAN. Who I, yes, did not remember. This brings us the worst cross of the day, 80d. MAUS, a [Pulitzer-winning graphic novel subtitled “A Survivor’s Tale”]. I guessed right on the M, but I was not confident.
  • 88a. HYUNDAI Azera, meet […Emmy-winning voice actor] Hank AZARIA. Him, I remembered.
  • 98a. KIA Spectra, meet the sometimes Mozart-haired convicted murderer, […legendary record producer], and all around crazy man Phil SPECTOR.
  • 107. Finally, BUICK Riviera, meet […Fox News personality] Geraldo RIVERA.

Lots of other people (and one moon) in here I couldn’t remember the name of either, and I was unfamiliar with some of the car base models. So a tricky solve.

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10 Responses to Friday, 3/18/11

  1. ArtLvr says:

    Wow, Seth — Happy Day-After St. Pat’s! This Patrick Merrell puzzle was harder than any I’ve seen for a while: HARARE crossing NRA a wild guess, and ME-TIME vs My time ditto. I did get a kick out of many of the clues, especially the one leading to KEEL HAULS in lieu of Kicks A__s.

  2. Zulema says:

    FLANS are in CREME? Come from CREME? Huh???

  3. Jeff L says:

    I solved the WSJ in a big U from left to right – loved “Honda Pilate” and was prepared for a five-star experience. As I filled in the grid though, I soon discovered the rest of the theme entries weren’t quite as good as that first one, mainly due to obscurity of car model (Buick Riviera, which hasn’t been around for more than a decade, or whatever the Porsche model was supposed to be) or of “celebrity” name (Cassatt, Gaiman, Priebus? Or Rivera who I only realized after googling was Geraldo Rivera – He’s on Fox News? He’s still on television? Couldn’t have gone with Mariano Rivera instead?) which knocked my enjoyment of the puzzle down a skosh. I’d still say a good 3.5 stars though.

    General question (if anyone’s reading this and not out and about at the ACPT): is it better to place the best theme entry in the S/SE of a puzzle, or does that not make a difference? With more people solving online, I feel like it might matter a little. Online solvers are defaulted into the NW and will try to suss that area out first; on paper, solvers are more likely to dive in by scanning the clues for a gimme. Any opinions on this?

  4. Ladel says:


    flan ingredients are directly proportional to your relationship with your cardiologist.

  5. Martin says:


    4-Down reads “CREME caramel desserts.” Dealing with the plural FLANS makes it a bit awkward.

    French crème caramel and Spanish flan are usually described as substantially the same thing. The Spanish version of flan (without the dulce de leche that you might consider key) is pretty much identical to crème caramel as far as I can tell, but I’m not a big fan of eggy custards so my expertise is limited here.

  6. sandirhodes says:

    The old radios were cathedral-style. Big arching domes with speakers in front. See one here:

  7. Sam Donaldson says:

    “is it better to place the best theme entry in the S/SE of a puzzle, or does that not make a difference?”

    If a particular theme entry is a payoff or “punchline,” then yes, I think it’s slightly more elegant to have that theme entry appear at the bottom of the grid. But that’s just gravy, and gravy is meaningless without good meat and potatoes. The ideal situation is 4 or 5 theme entries that all shine, such that identifying one as the payoff would be akin to Sophie’s choice.

  8. Tuning Spork says:

    All things (meaning letter-count, specifically) being equal, I’d save the best/funniest for last, open with the second best/funniest and put the weakest entry second.

    Wow, this joint is jumping. I guess most regulars are in transit to NYC? See y’all in the morning. :-)

  9. Boatster says:

    Hmmm, FLAKS is incorrect as an answer to “PR practitioner” in the WSJ puzzle. It’s anti-aircraft fire, and is in fact sometimes spelled “flack” — but not the other way ’round… PR folks are flacks.

  10. Rex says:

    Re: WSJ: Funny, I thought PILATE was the *worst* theme answer—pure homophone, not punny enough. Strange. A good 1/4 of the WSJ grid was rewritten by editor. I had trouble solving my own puzzle, frankly. Hockey player x/w wine = ???

    KIA SPECTOR was a life-saver; thanks, Seth. Wish you were here (here being Brooklyn)

    FLAK is correct. Many examples online and in print. Wouldn’t have submitted it as an answer if I hadn’t checked to make sure of this. One example: this book title-

    “Flak” spelling abounds, esp. in contemporary political writing.


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