John Farmer’s New York Times crossword
Good gravy, I could not type properly to save my life tonight. And then there were a couple clues where I just went full bore wrong (but with feasible answers). 12d: [Marmalade fruit], well, obviously that’s an ORANGE. Except when it’s QUINCE. And I paid no mind to the TV network in the clue for 17a and filled in JIMMY FALLON before seeing how the theme worked.* And 66a: [Pouilly-__ (wine)], I don’t always remember how to spell that. FOUSSE? No, FUISSE. Hmph! Three misfires is kind of a lot for a Tuesday puzzle.
So. The theme. It’s, uh, four names from pop culture and each person has the same double letter in their first and last name. Is there more to it than that? Do the letters have additional significance?
- 17a. JIMMY KIMMEL. One from TV.
- 29a. EDDIE VEDDER. One from music. I used to say my son had Eddie Vedder hair but you know what? My kid’s hair is awesomer and curlier.
- 44a. ANNIE LENNOX. Music name #2. Glad to see her in the puzzle about a month after her musical partner Dave Stewart was in Tyler Hinman and Jeremy Horwitz’s baseball pitcher/musician “same name” puzzle because she’s far awesomer than Dave Stewart. A legend.
- 57a. I very nearly put BELLY BUTTON in for this one. BETTY HUTTON? The name is only faintly familiar to me. I don’t think she’s at a Tuesday-crossword level of household naminess. Now, constructor John Farmer is a huge movie buff (check out his movie crossword site), so I’m sure she’s eminently familiar to him.
Fellow crossword blogger Michael Sharp emailed me, asking if there’s more to the theme than just the double letters. Fellow crossword blogger Angela Halsted reported that fellow crossword blogger Doug Peterson also wondered if he was missing something. If you were wondering the same thing, you’re in good company.
Lively fill includes NAME-DROP, KEISTER, NINJAS, the SUPERB ODDBALL, and RIPOSTES.
Three stars. I’ll stop here because it’s getting late and there are other puzzles awaiting.
Dan Schoenholz’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
I’d be lying if I said this puzzle wasn’t a little blocky, but lest I get too cocky, let’s look at the theme answers, which all rhyme:
- 20a. [Built like George on “Seinfeld”] – SHORT AND STOCKY. This seems more like a potshot at Jason Alexander to me. Is this as in the language as either “short and sweet” or “short and stout?” Doesn’t matter – neither fits the theme.
- 33a. [Three-term New York governor] – GEORGE PATAKI. I thought his name was pronounced like it ended with “tacky.”
- 43a. [Sport played on [SKATE]s] – ROLLER HOCKEY. And once again, TONSIL HOCKEY does not appear in the LAT.
- 59a. [Coors Field player] – COLORADO ROCKIE. Baseball!
We don’t see rhyming themes very much anymore. I once heard that in order to get a rhyme puzzle published, you’ve got to have interesting theme entries, a complex rhyme (2 syllables, strange sounds), and you need to nearly exhaust potential theme material. Though there’s still room for CHICKEN TERIYAKI, I think Dan’s tackled all of these stipulations nicely.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to say for the fill here. PRUSSIA and LEBANON are nicely placed opposite each other. There’s cute stuff like YORKIE and SUCH AS (which always makes me think of Miss Teen South Carolina), but I don’t see anything that sparkly here – just another puzzle. Lowlights for a Tuesday: DICTA, A ROW, WYE and -URE. Nothing terribly ugly in this puzzle, but I just couldn’t get into this one. Three and a quarter stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Numb & Number”
This week we’ve got an oddball pop-culture trivia theme featuring fake numbers that have been on TV or in song:
- 17a. [“I mean, isn’t she worth, like, a ___ dollars?” (line from the pilot of “Will & Grace”)] clues GAZILLION. Love the number, but don’t know this reference.
- 21a. [French Stewart’s response when asked to “write a number” in an SNL “Celebrity Jeopardy!” skit] is THREEVE. I just saw that skit about a week ago! Here it is on Hulu.
- 36a. [With 38-across, number of geese it took to supply feathers for “Grandma’s Feather Bed”] clues FORTY-LEVEN. No idea what this is all about. Googling…John Denver on The Muppet Show. Video!
- 56a. [Number of trombones in an Urbie Green title] is UMPTEEN. I have no idea who Urbie Green is. Googling…sort of a Pied Piper of trombones in the ’70s, apparently. You can get the Umpteen Trombones CD used for the low, low price of $150.
- 61a. [“Imaginary” number in a game show skit on the BBC’s “That Mitchell and Webb Look”] clues SHINTY-SIX. Never heard of this BBC show, either.
If the pop-culture references were more accessible, this would be a cooler theme. The way it plays out (if you don’t know the references either) is basically “work the crossings until you have something vaguely number-like and go with it.”
Highlights: DOZED OFF, Russian combo ANDROPOV and NIJINSKY (though apparently Nijinsky was of Polish descent), ROCKETRY (cool since I watched the space shuttle Endeavour launching this morning on TV), casual “I’M THERE,” HOSTESS snack “cakes” (just had a faux Twinkie from a local bakery—made from actual baking ingredients and not chemicals, with more of an almondy flavor than a lemony one, v. interesting), and a Springer SPANIEL (the dog I grew up with).
I would think that REPOUR (47d. [Fix a bartending mistake]) was a lousy, contrived answer, but I’ve had enough times where a bar drink is off and the bartender pours a new one that I suspect the word does work. I Googled to see if the word had decent Google support and what I saw was very, very sad:
Did you mean: rapport
How do you spell “repour” – such as “He has excellent repour with …6 answers – Dec 30, 2008
It sounds phonetically like “re-pour” – how do you spell “He has … You probably mean rapport– as in he has an excellent connection and means …
answers.yahoo.com › … › Words & Wordplay – Cached – SimilarHow to spell repore? – Sep 14, 2006
What is the correct spelling of repor? As in, someone has good … – Aug 29, 2006
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Song Titles” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle features three songs with titles in their titles:
- 20-Across: MR. BOJANGLES is the [1971 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit]. When I accessed this video on YouTube, the first “suggested” video on the right edge of the screen was “The Deadly Brown Recluse Spider of Death.” I guess we know now how the dog in the song up and died (he up and died).
- 39-Across: The [2003 Kelly Clarkson hit] is MISS INDEPENDENT. Ms. Clarkson is an idol to many Americans.
- 58-Across: The [1968 Simon & Garfunkel hit] is MRS. ROBINSON. Coo coo ca choo, I think that woman’s trying to seduce me.
Some might scoff at only three theme entries and 37 theme squares, but there aren’t many other possible theme entries. Wouldn’t most solvers balk at Aqua’s “Doctor Jones” or Neil Diamond’s “Reverend Blue Jeans?” (Yes, that’s a joke.) So it’s not like there’s a plethora of viable theme entries that got left on the cutting room floor.
There’s some knotty fill here, especially for a puzzle with such a straightforward theme. I’m guessing these clues and entries will give folks the most trouble:
- The [Jury type] is PETIT. A petit jury is what most of us think of as a regular jury–it’s the group of 12 peers that renders verdicts in civil and criminal cases. They’re smaller than grand juries, those used to issue indictments in criminal trials.
- The [Censor’s target] is an OATH. You know, because you swear an oath, and censors don’t like swearing. (Yes, that too is a joke.)
- To [Arrive] is to GET IN. Well, in this puzzle anyway. To my ear, [Secure admission] would be a more accurate clue. But according to the Cruciverb database, [Arrive] has been used as the clue for GET IN on seven prior occasions. So obviously I’m wrong.
- The [Brown ermines] aren’t, as I thought, STOLES. Instead, they’re STOATS. As you can see from the one on the right, they’re very cuddly.
- A KETCH is a [Yawl lookalike]. Yawl wanna go outside and play ketch? I suppose this would be a good clue if, um, I knew what the heck a “yawl” was. I asked my friend, Wikipedia, who explained it thusly: “A yawl (from Dutch Jol) is a two-masted sailing craft similar to a sloop or cutter but with an additional mast (mizzenmast or mizzen mast) located well aft of the main mast, often right on the transom, specifically aft of the rudderpost. A vessel with the mizzenmast located forward of the rudderpost is called a ketch.” Oh, yes, just like a sloop but with a mizzenmast right of the transom and aft of the rudderpost. Of course. How silly of me.
- [Medicinal fluids] are SERA (not SERI, as I tried). Que sera sera.
- The legal expression is IPSE Dixit. As indicated in the clue, it means “assertion without proof.” It should not be confused with IPSE Doodle, which means “oh, did you just slip and fall?”
My two favorite entries were YO HO HO and INTIMACY. Because of my affinity for spontaneously uttering the former, I have issues with the latter. I also liked the related PLUS SIGN and TRIMESTER (a plus sign on the home pregnancy test means you’ll soon be tracking trimesters).
George was frequently described as “short and stocky” on Seinfeld.
Rhyming ocky and double letters. This is not shaping up as the greatest puzzle day of 2011.
Is there more to the theme? Probably not, but all theme entries are 11 letters long, all are split as 5,6 and two are men while the other two are women. That’s pretty tight.
Betty Hutton was a real entertainer. I have a few of her recordings (the Capitol material is probably her prime) and have even seen some rare kinescopes from early on, when she was featured with the Vincent Lopez Orchestra. If you want to get an idea of what she was like, see Preston Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), a comedic masterpiece and a miracle in that it made it past the Hayes censors (but not for anything overt or visual).
I like Ray Hamel’s CrosSynergy puzzle today. There’s still a place for the three-piece theme, despite all those early-week NYTs with five to nine theme entries. Sometimes you just want a solid, basic crossword, and this mixed-eras pop song theme fits the bill. Four stars from me.
Also, pousse-café cocktails (not to be confused with (POUILLY-FUISSE wine) are tricky to make and often require a REPOUR by novice bartenders.
Janie hasn’t posted today’s CS in the forum yet.There it is!
Now she has—CS is posted here.
Neville, you are correct. George Pataki’s name does not rhyme with the other theme answers which, to me, makes the theme a nonstarter. I honestly don’t understand how it got through.
It would be TACKY to rhyme that word with PATAKI….he’s an “ocky”!
Maybe cruciverbalists should be called grid jockeys.
fwiw (and it’s not the first time i’ve heard it), )george sez pa-tah-kee.
Is ‘Rockie’ the singular of ‘Rockies’ in this sense? They ARE named after the mountains, right? Which are the ‘Rocky’ mountains, right? Just curous.
sandirhodes: Went to their official website and searched for “Rockie”. Result: Buy Rockie cards! Show your Rockie pride! Eat Rockie dogs at the stadium!
Heh-heh! Looked it up? What a novel concept! I should probably try that next time!
When I was a late teenager, I learned to keep them straight, Betty Hutton, Betty Grable (the one with the famous legs) and Esther Williams, whose legs were just as famous but usually in the water. To me they were a trio in my vocabulary.
Regarding PATAKI, the IPA nonsense on Wikipedia points to an -ocky sound. The Pataki I grew up with with Helga G. Pataki on “Hey Arnold!”, and hers was an -acky sound. Not thrilled, but I’ll take it.
I couldn’t find a source either way for ROCKIE. A single mountain is definitely ROCKY. As I wrote to Orange about this LAT puzzle: Meh.
I wasn’t displeased by the simplicity of the NYT theme – glad the letters were circled to help me get BETTY HUTTON (who? that’s okay – knew the others & she seems to be famous in the day & just out of my ken). The fill was better here than on the LAT.
Looking forward to the other puzzles later today. Just got Gaffney’s meta late last night, so I’m looking forward to that discussion in an hour or so.
LAT:Anyone else have WESTIE before YORKIE? No? OK. Your “tonsil hockey” remark made me SOL (snort out loud).
I hope everyone is aware of John Farmer’s free puzzles on his site. The “Gram Crackers” are pairs of mini-themelesses with fresh long answers and clued at a Friday/Saturday level. Fun snacks!
One other feature of the L.A. Times puzzle: The ocky is spelled four different ways in the four theme answers.
Thanks for pointing that out, MarkAbe! I liked the LA Times puzzle, and some of the criticisms here did not turn out to be correct. Obviously Dan Schoenholz did his research. Enjoyed the musical clues too.
I know I’m very late in offering this comment, but I cracked up when I read Amy’s “BETTY HUTTON? The name is only faintly familiar to me. I don’t think she’s at a Tuesday-crossword level of household naminess.” Betty Hutton was the only one of the four that I knew! Two of the remaining three I’d never even heard of. Oh well….
The NYT puzzle’s names also are 2 syllables in the first and last names, with the same stress on the first syllable of each.
The Mitchell and Webb reference: If you ever search for “Numberwang”, you’ll get the recurring skit. It’s a number-based game show of the absurdist variety (in the same vein as the complex British game shows it’s trying to parody), where the rules are…well…you’ll just have to see it.