Tuesday, 5/3/11

NYT 3:19 


Jonesin' 3:12 


CS 10:14 (Sam) 




3:56 (Neville)/2:55 (Amy)

Good news! If you’re one of the millions who missed out on the Crosswords LA tournament yesterday (congrats to winner Jordan Chodorow and runners-up Eric LeVasseur and Eric Maddy), you can still do the event’s puzzles. I test-solved them and liked the whole batch, especially Tyler Hinman’s über-tricky one. And you know what? You get five tournament crosswords and three bonus puzzles, all for the low, low price of $5, which goes to charity (Reading to Kids). Visit Alex Boisvert’s site for the PayPal link.

Kevan Choset’s New York Times crossword

5/3/11 NYT crossword solution 0503

I confess I didn’t see the theme-revealer clue while solving this puzzle and had no idea what the theme was. None! Ah, okay, I see now—71a: MAN can be affixed to the first part of each theme entry to make a superhero. Like so:

  • 18a. SUPER BOWL XX gets you Superman. I know someone who’s not at all a comic book fan, and she’s terribly upset that Superman just relinquished his U.S. citizenship. Me, I’m more bothered that those dang Roman numerals are in there, as if I pay the slightest attention to which numbered Bowl is in which year.
  • 24a. AQUAMARINE, a pretty stone, and Aquaman, a superhero of no import to me.
  • 38a. Oddly struggled to get to BAT AROUND. Batman! Some of The Dark Knight was filmed in my neighborhood, so I’m partial to Batman, but only until the next episode is released. They’re not filming it here! Losers.
  • 53a. Ya know, [Long-legged sea animal seen along the Atlantic Coast] didn’t scream SPIDER CRAB to me. Poor Spider-Man, now the butt of jokes over the Broadway travesty.
  • 61a. The IRON CURTAIN gives you Iron Man. If that’s supposed to be one word or hyphenated, you know what? I don’t feel like spell-checking all these superheroes. Iron and Aqua are definitely in the second tier after the Super, Bat, and Spider-hyphen men.

Five highlights:

  • 27a. [Vermont but not New Hampshire, e.g.?] clues IAMB. Boy, that IAMB-meets-BVD section slowed me down. Poetry and underwear? That reminds me of the dancing go-go boy in red underpants (50d: HEINIE!) whom I saw yesterday in a bar window. 6:15 on Sunday night! When I told my husband, he totally topped my story. He’d been passed by a bicyclist in drag, wearing a short miniskirt in the, uh, Scottish style. I think sumer is icumen in.
  • 2d. Love the word BRUSQUE. It looks like it should mean something grander than [Short] or curt.
  • 25d. MANANA, the [Procrastinator’s mantra]. “Later” and “tomorrow,” those work in any language. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do that editing assignment?
  • 48d. Great clue for ROBESON: [Actor/singer/athlete/activist Paul]. Kind of a Renaissance man, which was not easy work for a black man in 20th-century America.
  • 47d. The Canadians voted today. Possibly the election results will make it into the American media, but they do have other preoccupations at the moment. Canada has a national anthem known to NHL, MLB, and NBA fans, “O CANADA.” The title doubles as [Song words followed by “Terre de nos aieux”], the last word of which should absolutely be made legitimate in English-language Scrabble.

Four stars.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review

5/3/11 LA Times crossword solution

Look at this grid – now back to me – now back at the grid – now back to me. Doesn’t it look like something strange? Long vertical answers, 44(!) black squares, and circles all over the place? Something’s definitely up here. Look down – back up. Three of the circles in the puzzle I downloaded weren’t in the right spot – I’ve moved them in the picture to reflect their proper positions in 60-Down, not 59-Down. So, let’s see what madness Jeff Chen’s cooked up today:

  • 34d. [Little one hopping across today’s puzzle] – ROO. I don’t know if this is a generic roo or A.A. Milne’s Roo, but either way, I cheated and put ROO in all of the circles immediately.
  • 51d. [Sing like Bing] Crosby – CROON.
  • 30d. [2007 Iraq War strategy] – TROOP SURGE. {Insert topical remark about Osama bin Laden here}
  • 6d. [In whatever way possible] – BY HOOK OR BY CROOK. The etymology of this phrase is highly debated, so you can draw your own conclusion.
  • 9d. [Stereotypical deal-making site] – SMOKE-FILLED ROOM. I wanted this to be Craigslist.
  • 10d. [Was angry to the max] – HIT THE ROOF. Why is this past tense? Just to trick me into thinking there’s an -ED in there?
  • 60d. [Cheer] – ROOT. Meh.

Well, there you go – seven ROO-filled entries. I like that there’s a definitive pattern in the grid and it’s carried out consistently. I don’t mind ROO in the middle, but the other short-entries aren’t as satisfying. Four great long theme entries + a visual is a winner in my book, though.

Some bullets, then it’s off to bed:

  • 14a. [Hooters’ hangout] – OWLERY. This was by far the most disappointing entry for me, but the path it led me down still made me chuckle. Great way to make a fine word better via an evocative clue.
  • 25a. [Donkey’s bray] – HEE-HAW. Rhymes with see-saw and mee-maw. There’s your next theme, Jeff!
  • 51a. [Washington based warehouse club] – COSTCO, aka the one that fit.
  • 67a. [“Check that out!”] – OH, LOOK! An OWLERY!
  • I’m tired of these Cockney clues: 24d. [Aloe…] VERA! Who’s Vera, and why are we saying ‘aloe to her?
  • ODIUM is a cool word from the Latin for [Hatred].
  • You say “En garde!” at the start of repartee, and “TOUCHE” to signal [Acknowledgement of a witty rejoinder].
  • YO HO HO! Pirates!

Arr, I’ll be seein’ ya Thursday, mateys!

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Net Gains” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Klahn adds N-E-T to the end of one word in four two-word phrases to get wacky new phrases that are clued accordingly:

  • 17-Across: To [Pitch a popular red?] is to TOSS THE CABERNET, from the Highland Games tradition of “caber tossing,” in which participants compete to see who can heave a 20-foot, 175-pound wooden pole the farthest (furthest? ferthest?). I’ll let the picture below say it all.
  • 27-Across: Sergeant [Friday in the funnies?] would be a DRAGNET STRIP (from “drag strip”). Sergeant Joe Friday was the character played by Jack Webb on the “Dragnet” TV series. For those not old enough to remember, here’s an excerpt (sort of).
  • 48-Across: [Amusing the Muses?] is NONET KIDDING (from “no kidding”). The Muses were an acrobatic act from the early 1930s famous for working with no net. They only messed up once, in their final performance.
  • 63-Across: The [14-liner from a pain in the neck?] is SONNET OF DRACULA (from “Son of Dracula”). That’s gold, Jerry. Gold! Our crack Crossword Fiend research staff has uncovered a real sonnet about Dracula, entitled, appropriately, “My Dracula Sonnet.” As for whether it’s any good, you make the call. If you’re not up for clicking the link, here’s an excerpt: “With your fangs as sharp as thorns, you strike out, / Your cloak billowing like a bat’s black wings, / Fear grips my heart and I let loose a shout, / I scream in shock, ‘What are these painful things?!'” (Um, they’re called sonnets.)

If that pole is on the way down, this will not end well.

The other theme entries are solid, but the first one strikes me as the weak link here. It’s the only one that has the N-E-T at the end of the last word instead of the end of the first word. And “toss the caber” doesn’t feel like a very familiar phrase.

There’s some superb cluing in this crossword. It’s like this Klahn fellow knows what he’s doing when it comes to clues:

  • I like how [Beat around the bush] almost has a double meaning for the answer, HEDGE.
  • I fell for the [Jam or pickle] trap. Yes, I was thinking food, when I should have been thinking of problematic situations, like a jam, a pickle, or a SCRAPE.
  • [It’s dull, it’s said] is a clue that’s almost as good as the answer, DISHWATER.
  • The clue [Score about 75] is fine, but the answer is terrific: GET A C.
  • For some reason, I wanted TV SHOW for [“Yesterday,” “Today,” or “Tomorrow”], but the answer was SONG. I know “Yesterday” from The Beatles, and “Tomorrow” from the musical, “Annie.” But “Today?” Wikipedia says that there’s a song by that name from Gary Allan, Jefferson Airplane, Melanie B, Poe, and The Smashing Pumpkins. I’m guessing no two of them are the same.

My slow time is entirely a function of my ignorance, best demonstrated by [Four-time Hugo winner Frederik] POHL, EPPES as the [“Numb3rs” family name], [“The Fugitive” portrayer David] JANSSEN, and [“Journey Into Fear” author Eric] AMBLER. I’m used to slower times on Klahn puzzles, but this one felt like it went more slowly than it should have. Anyone else have a “slower than usual for a Klahn” solving time today?

Amy adds: Not me, Sam. About 4:05, which is not bad for a Klahn. That EPPES name is frightfully unfamiliar, though.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Have a Nice Solve”

Jonesin' 5/3/11 crossword answers "Have a Nice Solve"

Every so often, Matt kicks it freestyle with a themeless Jonesin’ puzzle. He skews goofball this time, making a smiley-face grid and keeping the clues at a smiley-face level. A themeless that’s easier than Matt’s standard mid-range difficulty for themed puzzles? Oy! I like a meaty challenge in a themeless, not a Tuesday/Wednesdayish stroll. I did enjoy the sparkling fill that rings the entire grid, though.

Craziest answers:

  • 12a. SEA GOOSEBERRY?? [It sounds like a fruit, but it’s really a jellyfish]?? Say what? Here are some photos.
  • 2d. ROG is clued as [Krivoy ___ (Ukrainian city)]. How would you spell the shortened nickname for a guy named Roger? Is that “Rog”?
  • 41d. [Multiplayer card game with elements of solitaire] is NERTZ. Never heard of it.


  • 53a. STREET-LEGAL means [Allowed on public roads, unlike most ATVs].
  • 54a. [It uses a rake and sand] clues a ZEN GARDEN. Well, technically, the garden just sits there, and it is the gardener who uses the rake and sand to craft a soothing setting.
  • 6d. [Teen movie franchise whose box set is titled “The Full Reveal”] is AMERICAN PIE.
  • 11d. CRACKER BARREL is a [Restaurant chain of “Old Country Stores”]. I don’t go there.
  • 12d. [Patricia Arquette, to Courteney Cox] was her SISTER-IN-LAW. Does the title stick after a divorce?
  • 13d. [He don’t like rackin’ frackin’ varmints] clues YOSEMITE SAM. Now I’m thinking of keeping the vocal rhythm of “Yosemite” but finding an “Antisemite Sam.” (Not Donaldson!)

Four stars.

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23 Responses to Tuesday, 5/3/11

  1. joon says:

    SUPER BOWL XX is perhaps best known as the last (and only) time the bears won the super bowl, 46-3 over the patriots. i think the patriots finished the first half with something like -7 yards of total offense.

    didn’t somebody (dan naddor?) do this puzzle in the LAT about two years ago? yes, it seems so. dan and mike naddor (who’s that?), seven theme answers. whoa. no wonder it won an oryx. (oryx! now that’s nostalgia.)

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Amy, thanks for posting the pointer to converting CS puzzles, but it turns out that I don’t have the right Java to allow it to work… Where can I go to download that? Arrg.

    Kevan’s NYT today was okay and quick except for the tricky IAMB clue crossed with Hanes clue for BVD, but I finally figured those out. The latter used to be just MAN stuff, but now I guess they can be women’s apparel too. Or is Hanes making men’s briefs?

  3. Plot says:

    Good puzzle, but then, I’m always partial to comicbook/superhero themes. Bonus points for separating the Marvel characters from the DC characters.

    The LAT file that I downloaded also had circles in the wrong place. Elon is a gimme at this point, so it didn’t cost me any time. Still, I found myself trying to figure out how ELO tied into a theme about hopping kangaroos (“Don’t Bring Me Down”, perhaps)?

  4. ArtLvr says:

    “OLE!” as you miss the the last bounce and end upside down?

  5. Matt says:

    Yeah, the BVD meets IAMB intersection stopped me for a while– particularly because I had an error lurking elsewhere– DEERE/DEARE for that fatal shipwreck. Bit of a toughie for a Tuesday, I think.

  6. HH says:

    “…Hanes clue for BVD …. The latter used to be just MAN stuff, but now I guess they can be women’s apparel too. Or is Hanes making men’s briefs?”

    Or are men wearing women’s undies? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

  7. Karen says:

    “HIT THE ROOF. Why is this past tense? ” Isn’t it pretty much always a past tense phrase? And if it were third person, then Jane hits the roof, which wouldn’t fit.

    The superheroes theme seemed a bit random. Marvel vs DC, Superfriends minus Wonderwoman, big hit movies vs in development ones (Aquaman in 2013!). Not that I noticed the theme at all while solving it.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Yes, Henry. Like I was saying in my post, when a man is wearing a miniskirt, women’s clothes, a pair of undies can go a long way. Going commando is best for pants and longer kilts.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    And Karen, plain old present-tense HIT THE ROOF is perfectly suitable. What do you do when you find out your kid borrowed the car and sent it over the cliff? Hit the roof. I, you, we, and they hit the roof. Only the third-person singular hitS the roof.

  10. HH says:

    “…when a man is wearing a miniskirt, women’s clothes, a pair of undies can go a long way”

    Do you see this often? (I’m in NYC, so obviously I do.)

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    My husband just did—see my remarks on 27a in the NYT write-up. We live a couple blocks from Boystown.

  12. Jeff Chen says:

    Unfortunate about the misplaced circles – don’t know how that happened! This one was a long process, I give Rich a lot of credit for helping me get somewhere from a pretty iffy first draft, which had five ROOs sort of trudging diagonally down the puzzle amidst a forest of mucky abbreviations and xwdese:


    I didn’t like that second entry at all, especially for M/T, for which I was aiming. The first I was a bit lukewarm on (pun fully intended).

    I wish I could have gotten seven longish theme entries into the final version, but my thinning hair couldn’t withstand too much more pulling.

    Happy mornings, everyone!

  13. Jeffrey says:

    Actually the superheroes are the last parts of the theme answers. BOWL XX MAN, MARINEMAN, AROUNDMAN, CRAB-MAN and CURTAIN_MAN are all part of the Legion of BadlyNamed Heroes.

    I want to see Superman’s birth certificate. I don’t think he was born in the USA. He did die once and got over it, so your friend shouldn’t get too upset.

    Stephen Harper’s Conservatives got a majority government with under 40% of the vote. Discuss.

  14. HH says:

    “I want to see Superman’s birth certificate. I don’t think he was born in the USA.”

    The real reason Superman renounced his US citizenship? Two words — President Trump!

  15. Gareth says:

    NYT: I’ve seen this before. I remember liking it a lot the first time. I can’t begrudge the puzzle the fact that this is time two (or three?) I’ve encountered it. A Dan Naddor, you say, Joon? Didn’t remember that, but I did remember it had theme density! I am curious as to the plural clue for BBL; I see BBLS has appeared in puzzles before too. Also wondering, and I think I’ve asked it before, why SAS is always the airline not the crack troops, which in my world are more famous. And never mind Scrabble, I’m waiting for AIEUX it to appear as a FITB answer in a puzzle now…

    LAT: I don’t get this at all…

    PS, clearly that sing cuccu poem is way more famous than I thought…
    PPS, GOCOMMANDO needs to be in a crossword…

  16. Daniel Myers says:

    I was waiting to see if someone would bring up NYT 1A—Thanks Gareth!—–Can someone please enlighten me as to how BBL can possibly be a plural?

  17. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @DM: First dictionary I checked defines “bbl.” as an abbreviation for “barrels (esp. of oil).”

  18. Amy Reynaldo says:

    And what, “in” and “mg” can’t mean plural “inches” and “milligrams”? They do all the time.

  19. Daniel Myers says:

    True enough, Amy. Thanks for the enlightenment. It just struck me as very odd whilst doing the puzzle, perhaps because I realised that we now have an abbreviated solution (or, as you point out, scads of them) that can now – in accordance with Shortz puzzle protocol – either denote singular or plural, as you will.

    So, if one had a clue such as: LSD units MCG. or MCGS. would be equally correct.

  20. Amy Reynaldo says:

    No, no. SI units—International System of Units/Le Système International d’Unités—don’t take a plural S. Singular and plural of “milligram” will both be “mg.” And lowercase. And forget “MCG.” Plus, micro- gets a mu now instead of “mc”: we use “µg.” When you drop acid, please think of it in µg rather than mcg.

  21. SuperBowlXX says:

    Hi, I’m a blogger at the political website Daily Kos who posts under the username SuperBowlXX. Because I was surprised to see that my username found its way into the puzzle, I decided to commemorate it with a fun, celebratory blog post. You can read it here:


  22. joon says:

    all smiles for me on the jonesin’. ROG was a big mystery and i don’t understand CUTES, but such a cool grid! and isn’t curious how similar DRAGRACED is to DISGRACED?

  23. Daniel Myers says:

    Amy – sorry, I took a nap – everything you say is quite true. But I rather doubt that puzzle constructors are going to adhere to such strictures. And, yes, I always think in μgs though I don’t drop acid anymore. It’s a lingering effect of dropping acid whilst studying Ancient Greek at Uni. Euripides still causes flashbacks.:-)

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