Sunday, 3/20/11

NYT 27:56 (SethG) 


CS  9:19 (Evad) 


LAT 15:04 (SethG) 


Reagle 13:49 (SethG) 


BG 22:27 (SethG) 


WaPo 15:26 (SethG) 


Day 2 of the ACPT. At the end of day 1, looks like Dan Feyer’s in the lead, Anne Erdmann’s in second, and Francis Heaney has the tiebreaker over Tyler Hinman for the third spot in the finals. For up to date results, check here.

Brenden Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword, “Chick Lit”

3/20/11 NYT crossword solution

And, my tough weekend continues. Lots more stuff I didn’t know, including a couple of theme answers.

No trickery this week. The theme: novels with birds in their titles.

The theme entries:

  • 23a. [Chick lit book #1 (1992)] THE PELICAN BRIEF
  • 33a. [Chick lit book #2, with “The” (1843)] UGLY DUCKLING
  • 39a. [Chick lit book #3 (1965)] THE STERILE CUCKOO
  • 59a. [Chick lit book #4 (1974)] SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR
  • 69a. [Chick lit book #5 (1960)] TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
  • 87a. [Chick lit book #6 (1930)] THE MALTESE FALCON
  • 95a. [Chick lit book #7 (1985)] LONESOME DOVE
  • 109a. [Chick lit book #8 (1967)] WHERE EAGLES DARE

It’s a little awkward to leave out the article from The Ugly Duckling and no others, but that’s what the symmetry requirements do for you. I’ve never heard of the Cuckoo or the Eagles, which is surely my fault, but they still seemed a bit off with the mega-famous Mockingbird and Falcon, for example.

I’m sure y’all aren’t interested in a list of what else I’d never heard of, but I will say that hard sections included:

  • The SW corner, especially with LARCH, a [Conifer with durable wood] and the non-composer RAVEL. And I’ve even been to ConAgra!
  • The SE corner, with a theme book I’d never heard of, an old NBC saying I’d never heard of, and [Spread, as rumors], BRUITED, which I’ve never heard of. I’m sure I have heard of ESPNEWS, but it feels like it’s missing a letter so it was hard to suss out.
  • Got lucky in the NE, where I guessed that [Italy’s longest river] is THE PO after blogging about it just yesterday.
  • Everything around THE STERILE CUCKOO. I eventually guessed the bird, but Sterile wasn’t one of the first 100 or so adjectives I thought of.
  • The CONDOR area. Knew the book, but not OWEN D. Young, the French, the SUV, or which poet it was.
  • OUIDA. GINO Franco. And like 30 more things.

So a toughish Sunday puzzle, but for me more from stuff I didn’t know than from tough, fun clues.

Updated Sunday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

3/20/11 CrosSynergy crossword solution

Greetings from the lobby of the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, host to the 34th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. With one more puzzle to go, your Group A leaders are: Dan Feyer, Anne Erdmann, Francis Heaney and Tyler Hinman. Finalists will be announced at noon. But on to today’s “Sunday Challenge” by constructor Tony Orbach (whom I had the pleasure of sitting next to during yesterday morning’s puzzles, so he knows what’s coming!). I really enjoyed this themeless, full of lots of interesting entries, and only a Q and W short a pangram. (I’m glad Tony didn’t opt to sacrifice the fill to shoehorn those letters in there just for the sake of showing off all 26 letters.) Here were my favorite bits:

  • If I see JETSAM can its partner FLOTSAM be far behind? tells me that jetsam is intentionally jettisoned from a boat to make it lighter, whereas flotsam is the remains of a boat wreckage.
  • Enjoyed the clue [Parlor set?] for PERM. The “parlor” here is of the “beauty” variety.
  • EASY-CARE reminds me of the Easy-Bake oven. Crème brûlée anyone?
  • I remember DON HO playing the ukelele not the organ, but I bet I’m thinking of Tiny Tim. Did you know Don had 10 children with two wives and one significant-other?
  • Loved the idiomatic SAME OLD. I tend to say it twice for emphasis.
  • [Penetrating Kent feature] are Clark’s XRAY EYES. Don’t they only work though when he’s in his Superman suit?
  • So has American IDOL officially become a [Seacrest vehicle] instead of a [Cowell vehicle] now? We’re beginning to get hooked again, as it gets down to the final 10. You really need Tivo though to skip through all the gratituitous advertising that takes away from the performances. My money’s on rocker Casey Abrams this year; I love his quirkiness and fearless risk-taking on stage.
  • The only LOVERBOY song I know is Working for the Weekend. Definitely a big early ’80s hit.
  • [Panhandle state] had me thinking OKLAHOMA, but I guess Sarah Palin would think of ALASKA first.
  • HOF clue for AMY: [Tan that might be scanned on the beach]. The only Amy more famous than Amy Tan is our intelligent and gracious blog hostess.
  • DADDY-O sounds very ’60s to my ear. Anyone used it in the last 40-50 years?
  • Interesting story here about GUSTAV Mahler’s tenth and unfinished symphony.
  • When you hear “Excellent!” do you think first of Mr. Burns or Wayne and Garth (from Wayne’s World)? The Simpsons is the more recent and comes to mind first for me.
  • Interesting too to see SEX used as a verb, [Tell the difference in the field].
  • Another great clue for ORION, [Belted one out there?]. Yeah, really out there!
  • Any puzzle with both ELECTRA and LADY GAGA has got to appeal to a wide range of solvers!

Some other random notes:

  • [Someone who can really dig it?] is an ORE MINER. I get about 250k Google hits for that phrase, but most of them are the longer IRON ORE variety. Seems like this was a bit of stretch to make the other entries fit.
  • Not sure how I understand the “piece” part of the clue [Apple piece?] for iTunes. Apps aren’t “pieces” of a computer in my world. The later use of the same clue does work for CORE, though.
  • TEN-IN-ONE seems a bit arbitrary for what a Swiss Army knife can do.
  • SEISMIC for [Earth-shaking] was poorly-timed. So sad to see the devastation of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.
  • Are you familiar with the work of Richard SERRA? Here’s his Vortex:
  • So who says a PICCOLO is fancier than a fife? Is there an international standard for the fanciness of instruments?
  • If the [Chinese dynasty] ain’t MING I’m outta luck, having to rely on all the crossers. I find that almost all of them end in NG, though, so that does help a bit.

Ed Sessa’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “New B-ginnings”

Sunday LA Times crossword answers 3/20/11

The theme entries add a B to the eginning of base phrases. Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis.

  • 24a. The [Result of a cock’s crow?] might be a BROOD AWAKENING. I’d go with “brewed”. I need some coffee right now.
  • 38a. [Bungling for Dummies,” e.g.?] is a BONER’S MANUAL. Heh, he said “manual”!
  • 59a. [Shindig for Swahili VIPs?] is a BWANA DANCE. I guess a native of a land where they speak Swahili can be a Swahili, I’ve just never heard it used that way. This works as well as SIRS DANCE would for a shindig for English VIPs, however well that is.
  • 83a. [Bedbugs on the Orient Express?] are BERTH WORMS.
  • 97a. [Bird with a tan?] is maybe a BROWNED ROBIN. First, you sauté the garlic…
  • 119a. [Hibernation luxuries?] are BEAR MATTRESSES. They’re especially luxurious when they’re just right.

And, bonus down entries!

  • 3d. [“$#%^*& geckos!”?] clues BLEEPING LIZARDS. If a lizard can jump, it can swear. And if it can swear, then Standards and Practices can do its thing.
  • 47d. [Prize for an inn’s best guest?] is maybe for the BOARDER OF THE DAY.

Consistently solid base phrases, decently funny results, nice grid shape isolating the downs, this was fun.

Things I liked:

  • 26a. Learning that THE BLOB was […originally entitled “The Molten Meteor”].
  • 62a. Learning that URI is the [Sch. whose mascot is Rhody the Ram].
  • 112a. That [Ancient three-sided harps] I’d never heard of are TRIGONS, an inferrable name.
  • 52d. RAMEN. I love ramen. So do lots of others.
  • 53d. CASSATT is an [Artist known for her mother-and-child works]. I am familiar with her. SethG is learning! SethG is alive! Need input!
  • Solving a Sunday-sized grid without a single wince.

There’s other good stuff, which you can feel free to talk about in the comments. If I mention everything, I’ll never finish (and write about) all of these puzzles…. Very nice work.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Smorgasbord”

PI Mar 20 11

He can finally clear some of his old ideas off the desk, today we’ve got a little bit of everything Reagle.

The theme:

  • 20a. [Auditioners for “Lassie”? (spoonerism)] are COLLIE MODELS, which you get if you switch the first sounds of mollycoddles.
  • 22a. A [Youngster who drinks too much chocolate milk? (homophone)] is an Ovaltine OVALTEEN.
  • 36a. [Dog-and-cat store to be very, very leery of? (one-letter addition)] is a PET SOUPERMARKET. Pet Supermarket is apparently a Tampa-based chain (or an I think separate British chain), and Merl Reagle is a Tampa-based constructor.
  • 49a. PASTY CLINE is a [Singer who needs to get out in the sun more? (adjacent-letter swap)].
  • 67a. [Wino’s blood type? (straight pun)] clues PROOF POSITIVE. I’m envisioning a whole wino-themed punzle. The proof is positive, in the pudding, read, living, bulleted, and more.
  • 82a. WE’RE WITH AL is a [Comment from Capone’s men? (letter drop)].
  • 97a. POT PAL COMPUTERS is the [Name of Cheech and Chong’s favorite PC store? (word reversal)], where they buy laptop sretupmoc.
  • 113a. OSLO BUCO is the Norwegian [Dish that always gets the same reaction — “Hey, this meat is cold”? (one-letter change)]. Maybe braised reindeer shanks?
  • 116a. Finally, PEPTO ABYSMAL has got to be the [World’s least effective indigestion reliever? (respelled pun)].

Henry Hook’s Boston Globe crossword, “Cussword Puzzle”

3/20/11 Boston Globe crossword solution

You know who can be an ornery cuss sometimes? That Henry Hook fella, that’s who. The theme re-imagines G-rated oaths as if they were precursors or reactions to related situations. Or something like that. Sort of.

  • 30a. [“Oh, blast!”] is what you might say when you realize that THAT GRENADE WAS A DUD.
  • 38a. When it occurs to you that NOBODY PEELED THE CORN and you get confused about person, tense, grammatical number, and the like, you might think [“Oh, shucks!”].
  • 58a. [“Oh, rats!”] says the health inspector. “WE NEED A TRAP,” realizes the restaurant owner.
  • 60a. “NO MORE CHOCOLATE,”says the chocolatier. [“Oh, fudge!”], says the not-so-disappointed candy shop customer.
  • 63a. When FIDO RAN AWAY, Tarzan realized [“Oh, doggone!”].
  • 78a. “THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SOCK,” said Henry Hook. [“Oh, darn!”], replied Liza Hook.
  • 90a. [“Oh, nuts!”], says the Firestone employee who remembered what he was looking for in the stockroom. “I HAVE TO CHANGE A TIRE.” And then, before dining at the manor, he has to change attire.

I had lots of missteps solving this. Toughest part was right in the upper left corner, where I eventually had to guess that [Staminate] meant MALE. SMACK wasn’t coming to me for [Directly], and I’d never heard of Remember WENN so the [Radio station in a 1990s AMC series] could have been anything. Amy and I both went to school in NFLD, and that school was not St. John’s.

Patrick Berry’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 50”

Washington Post Puzzler No. 50 crossword answers

Ten clues:

  • 17a. [People walk all over them] clues FLOOR TILES. I just published 24 old poems I wrote years ago. My least favorite of all, by far:
    Tear up the old floor tiles,
    all ten rows.
    Then replace them with a pattern
    by Penrose.
    Happy Pi Day!
  • 43a. The [Group that includes ERNIE, Fast Eddie and Buckets] is the KEEBLER ELVES. This I did not know. According to the Wikipedia, the others are Fryer Tuck, Zoot, J.J., Ma, Elmer, Sam, Roger, Doc, Zack, Flo, Leonardo, Elwood, Professor, Edison, Larry, and Art.
  • 52a. It took me way too long to remember that [“The year,” in Hebrew] is HASHANA. I studied Hebrew for about 12 years. Rosh Hashana is kinda famous. The very first crossword blog entry I ever wrote was called “Jewish theory for crossword solvers”. Yet today, I filled in the HA and waited for some crosses. Go me.
  • 58a. MAISONETTE is not a restaurant, it’s a [Duplex apartment].
  • 59a. EGGS […break for the morning meal]. Or sometimes, for an afternoon or evening meal. I like eggs. I did not need to wait for the crosses.
  • 14d. One who [Does something wrongSINS. And sometimes, one who SINS has done something right. It’s fun to be bad.
  • 27d. [Desideratum] is a NEED, not LEES. So [Tongue-lashing] is not <something> OWL after all.
  • 30d. A world that is [Not at all cooperative] is DOG EAT DOG, and Norm’s wearing Milk Bone underwear.
  • 34d. SUB-TENS are only [Bitter-cold temperatures] if you don’t live in, say, Minnesota. Sometimes that’s spring. Hey, it’s spring now (and it’s in the 40s and raining here). Happy spring! Between the vernal equinox, the biggest super perigee moon in 18 years, AT&T buying T-Mobile, and the ACPT, this is quite a big weekend.
  • 56d. [Film whose star was 2004’s Best Actor] is RAY. The last clue on my last puzzle of the weekend. Congrats to everyone who competed at (or judged at, or wrote puzzles for, or has heard of) ACPT, and thanks for having me! We’ll be back to the regular rotation tomorrow.
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22 Responses to Sunday, 3/20/11

  1. ArtLvr says:

    Funny, even though the birds kept coming I was still looking for a female connection too, in the back of my mind. GALPALS, EWE and UTERI were the closest femme things, along with EAR HOOPS and ANN Rule, but I didn’t let that stop me… UIES is always a wait and see, in case it may be Ueys, and I didn’t know GINO Franco but did recall GNC, so that was my last fill. I think my favorite clue was Church overhead for HALOS. Best long non-theme word: EXCULPATE! It makes me think of ruing a beheading after the fact, like mea culpa, but he’s already lost his pate.

  2. Grape Ape says:

    I read The Sterile Cuckoo when I was nineteen because I thought it was a book everybody read and was a classic or something. That’s what happens when you’re raised by wolves. Turns out nobody else read it. They made a movie of it with Liza Minelli. It’s about a guy who meets a quirky (i.e., annoying) girl and they meet cute and I think maybe she dies for no reason and he’s sad, or maybe I’m thinking of “Love Story.” Nichols was only 25 when it was published, and I was planning on being a famous young writer myself, so I did what I usually did back then and immediately wrote a book just like it but sort of in a non-union Mexican equivalent way. I also wrote non-union Mexican equivalents of Dubliners, Gatsby, Horseman Pass By and half-dozen of The Moviegoer. Couldn’t get enough of The Moviegoer. Every time I read it I wrote one myself. I got hung up in the NE despite having every other letter. FInally got the OATER crossword joke and that propelled me to my shabby victory.

  3. pannonica says:

    Kudos for BEQ getting the number of condor-days correct [NYT 59a]. When filmed (Redford, Dunaway, von Sydow), the action was compressed into three days and for a time reprints featured the “new” title, although the plot and copyright title were unaltered. Both James Grady’s book and the film are recommended for fans of bookish techie-types succeeding in deep, treacherous waters. Of course, how many bookish techie-types look like Robert Redford in his prime? *sigh*

    Counterbalancing nit: [NYT 14d] Hugh Hefner’s characteristic vesture is that of a ruby-and-black smoking jacket, which could conceivably be described as a robe, but certainly not a bathrobe.

    Seth G: Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare was a Major Motion Picture with Clint Eastwood and Richard Attenborough (or was it Richard Burton?) in the leads.

    ArtLvr: I know what you mean about [NYT 33d], except that I privately do not approve of the “uies” spelling and always resent it when it turns out to be the required fill.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    pannonica: thanks! HEF, however, was definitely doing public interviews in a bathrobe in the last year or so — until he recently married again at age 101 or whatever, appearing with bouncing baby bride on one of the last Larry King shows. A hoot!

  5. Matt says:

    A good somewhat-tough-for-Sunday puzzle. Got hung up at the end at a few crossings that were obscure (for me): the ‘N’ where GINO meets GNC, the ‘F’ where a UFO says FIE, and the ‘R’ where the STROS go PRE-production.

  6. Anoa Bob says:

    I enjoyed Tony Orbach’s Cross Synergy offering. Lots of scrabbly fill with clever clueing. One entry was a bit of a clanger for me, 19D RESEAT, that was clued “Make an adjustment, as to a spark plug”. I’ve adjusted more than a few spark plugs over the decades and the only thing that can be adjusted is the width of the gap between the electrode tips. So the answer that came to mind was REGAP. RESEAT doesn’t make sense to me here. I’m going to guess that Mr. Orbach is not a gear head.

  7. sandirhodes says:

    Well, I suppose if it were mis-threaded, you’d have to reseat it, but I agree with you.

  8. John Haber says:

    I thought it was tough for a Sunday, but BEQ is always tough for me, as his range of proper nouns is always remote from mine. The theme itself was necessarily tough. Compared to punning a title to work in a bird, say, a more common approach to theming, you get the aid of a literal title but not the one-two punch of a perhaps remembered title plus the pun.

    I hadn’t known of the EAGLES and CUCKOO books, but I’d heard of the first as a movie and actually had seen the second as a movie. (Funny to think of Liza Minelli in that kind of role, before she worked so hard to become camp.) I didn’t know the number of days of condors, but crossings had to take care of it.

    UIEI vs UIEY don’t mean much to me, as a city person without a car (who learned to drive before either was an idiom), as both for me are just crosswordese. Among the many things I didn’t know, OUIDA and the crossing of OWEN and NITRO were perhaps the most obscure. I resisted filling in the latter, thinking that no one in their right mind would pick that name for a car. I kept thinking, what’s its slogan, “Explodes on impact”? The SE with GAL PALS, ALL BE, and ESPNEWS (plus the familiar but by no means easy BRUITED) was by no means common territory to me either. Yo/SUP is still a head scratcher for me, in fact. Is it really ‘S UP and short for “What’s up?”

  9. Evad says:

    Noticed when others were doing today’s CS with Tony watching that the entry was ITUNE not ITUNES, so now I get the “piece” part of his clue. Never heard the singular used for individual songs, though.

    RESEAT didn’t bother me, but I’m certainly no gear head myself.

  10. pannonica says:

    ArtLvr: Ah. I haven’t seen images of him lately, and so claim ignorance, but stand corrected.

    John Haber: Ack! Those spellings both look horrendous to me. I prefer uey[s] to uei[s]. And yes, that’s always been my take on the etiology/etymology of ‘sup.

    Next nit: H²BG 79a: I would posit that it was the “kite-eating tree” and not the KITE itself that was Charlie Brown’s nemesis.

    Incidentally, excellent job, Seth G., in keeping the home fires burning with all these write-ups! Heracles only had 10 (+2) labors‼

  11. Duke says:

    I wasn’t happy with “THE Po” . Why THE?

  12. pannonica says:

    I second Duke’s plaint. The only reason I got it relatively quickly is that the same quirky fill appeared in a puzzle within the last few days.

  13. Erik says:

    THEPO? Did THEDA Bara have a prior engagement? I’m fine with sacrificing fill quality for theme cleverness, but having read one of these books and heard of two more, I wasn’t particularly enchanted with either aspect.

  14. Aaron says:

    I did the puzzles at home on the computer; I’m just wondering if someone can tell me how fast the final puzzle was solved (#8) by the respective winners of the A, B, and C division. (I finished roughly 331st out of 657, so it’s a pride thing for me.)

  15. sandirhodes says:

    WRT “Excellent,” it’s all in the inflection! A nice, deep drawling ‘eeexxxxxcellent’ is Mr. Burns. A chipper happy even ‘EX-cellent’ is Wayne and Garth. But don’t forget Bill and Ted!!!! Be excellent to each other … and party on, Dudes!!

  16. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Aaron, I don’t have exact numbers for you, but I think the C and B division winners finished the puzzle somewhere in maybe the 8 1/2-minute range. In the A division, Dan finished in about 6:30, Tyler in about 9:30, and Anne closer to 15:00. Solving on paper in the audience (without the pressure of the whiteboards and rapt spectators), Trip Payne did the A puzzle in something like 6:15, and reported someone else in the 6 range; took me 7:36.

  17. Howard B says:

    The ‘A’ division puzzle on paper for me was 7:02. Not a snowball’s chance in heck that I would have matched Dan this year on the stage. I’m about a minute or 2 slower on stage than on paper, and often with bizarre errors ;).

    I think the B winner was in the 6 1/2 minute range.

  18. Jan says:

    Enjoyed the LAT. It was just about the perfect level for me, tough enough to be a challenge and easy enough to get through without Googling!

  19. Karen says:

    I did the B puzzle on paper in 9:05, so I agree with Howard B that they did it in 6:30 on stage (I would have finished fourth, I noted).

  20. Aaron says:

    Dang. I actually finished the “C” (albeit online) in 5:55, so if I’m ever able to actually attend in person (and somehow get into the top three), I might actually have a chance. Okay: time to start the Dan Feyer diet: all paper puzzles, all the time! ;)

  21. Howard B says:

    It is insanely different solving up on stage with a clue/grid page in one hand, a marker in the other, and headphones on; it tends to slow down and warp solving times just a little bit. As for the puzzle diet, don’t forget to floss. Hope to see ya there someday!

  22. John Haber says:

    I should have mentioned it myself, but if it’s not too late, I definitely got a bad feeling about THE PO, too. Seeing the T, I immediately guessed the Tiber and immediately saw it wouldn’t work. When I finally got it, I thought they really must have been stuck on making the fill work.

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