Sunday, 7/3/11

NYT 9:50ish 
Reagle 6:43 
BG 8:14 (pannonica) 
LAT 8:38 
CS 16:20 (Sam) 
WaPo 4:27 

Pete Muller’s New York Times crossword, “My Treat”

NYT crossword solution, 7 3 11 "My Treat"

Back in March, ACPT-goers enjoyed Pete Muller’s egg cream–themed crossword, and now he’s got an ICE CREAM SODA puzzle. It’s got assorted ingredients (SELTZER WATER, TWO SCOOPS of ice cream, FLAVORED SYRUP, maybe some CHOCOLATE, and or course the EGG SACS) and related ice cream drinks (COKE FLOAT, plural BROWN COWS), plus a TALL GLASS, a FLEXIBLE STRAW, and a LONG SPOON. The extra oomph comes from playing a connect-the-dots game with the circled letters, but you know what? Unless you want to futz around with painting software, the online or Across Lite solver is just not gonna get the full effect without printing it out. Luckily, we can just move on to peeking at Pat Merrell’s illustration to see that you’re supposed to end up with a glass, drink, ice cream scoops floating atop, straw, and spoon.

Now, I’m tired, so I don’t give a hoot that I have a typo somewhere in my grid. If you see something that looks wrong, congratulations to you!

So, like many people who want to do a crossword without outside assistance, I didn’t look at the Notepad till I was done. Technology fail! Notepad’s too long for the applet. “Will fo” what?

I was a good third of the way through this puzzle before I filled in an answer that I liked. I started with SETA, OATS, REATA, EAR OF, GNARLGESTE, LENI, and ALL OR. Oof! I had hopes that the longer fill would pack some punch, but MRI SCAN (that just sounds wrong—”CAT scan,” “CT scan,” “PET scan,” but just “MRI”), RULE ONE (huh?), SCALABLE, OVENWARE, and MADRONES did not wow me. Granted, the need to plunk certain letters in certain spots constrains the fill, but it doesn’t make for much fun when solving the crossword.

2.5 stars. This wasn’t my cup of tea (or ice cream soda).

Postscript: Gareth shared his attempt at connecting the dots much the way I would have done it. We are no threat to Pat Merrell’s illustration career!

Interpretive illustration @Gareth Bain

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “Spondulix” — pannonica’s review

Boston Globe crossword 7/3/11 "Spondulix" answers 70311

First things first. Spondulix (or spondulicks) is a 19th Century slang term for money. The Online Etymology Dictionary elucidates thus: “1856, Amer. Eng. slang, ‘money, cash,’ of unknown origin, said to be from Gk. spondylikos, from spondylos, a seashell used as currency (the Greek word means lit. ‘vertebra’). Used by Mark Twain and O. Henry and adopted into British English, where it survives despite having died in Amer. Eng.”

Sooo, we get a bunch of oddly-clued theme entries incorporating slang terms (or synonyms) for money (or dollars). There doesn’t seem to be a rigorous rationale to the wordplay; instead it feels like a British crossword or one of Mel Taub’s sui generis “Puns & Anagrams” puzzles.

  • 26a. [Money roll?] SCRATCH PAD.
  • 28a. [A little short of money?] LIGHT GREEN.
  • 54a. [Fiscal felonies?] CAPITAL CRIMES.
  • 61a. [Money material?] CASHMERE.
  • 79a. [Money man in the making?] DOUGHBOY.
  • 89a. [Charitable gifts of money?] TENDER MERCIES.
  • 112a. [Easy money?] QUICK BREAD.
  • 116a. [Financial committees?] BUCKBOARDS.

Only eight themers (2×13 letters, 4×10 ltrs, 2× 8 ltrs) totaling 82 squares in a 21×21 grid with 364 white squares; that’s less than 25% theme material, which seems a little sub-snuff. As a partial counterweight, there is a giant $ incorporated into the grid pattern, much like Matt Jones’ Jonesin’ puzzle of 23 June, which has a similar theme (it included slangy terms for “dollar”: buck, bill, bone, and clam). Not-quite theme entries: 24a [Eight bits] A DOLLAR, 59a [Airline seating class] ECONOMY, 52a [Gershwin’s savings acocunt?] IRA, 35d [Money, musically] DOREMI.

The rest of the fill is very smooth and the puzzle was pretty much a breeze to solve, but it wasn’t so easy that it felt like a mechanical exercise to write (type) the answers into the grid.

Clues of note:

  • 40a. [Blades of Panama] RUBÉN.
  • 48a. [Stat for swingers] RBI.
  • 75a. [Like a feeble crone} ANILE: of or resembling a doddering old woman; especially: senile. (Latin anilis, from anus old woman;
    first known use: 1652) —
  • 101a. [Gag reflex?] LAUGH.
  • Snow Leopard (Guy Coheleach, 1972) • modified by pannonica (2011)

    103d. [Snow leopard] OUNCE. The scientific name is Uncia uncia. Some of you who are typographically inclined may notice a resemblance to “uncial.” It’s coincidental, but there is some etymological entwinement. According to, the feline ounce/uncia comes from “Middle English unce lynx, from Middle French, alteration (by misdivision, as if l’once the ounce) of lonce, probably from Old Italian lonza, from Middle Greek lynk-, lynx, from Greek.” First known use: 1774. The calligraphic uncial is “a handwriting used especially in Greek and Latin manuscripts of the fourth to the eighth centuries a.d. and made with somewhat rounded separated majuscules but having cursive forms for some letters.” It derives from “Late Latin unciales (litterae) uncial (letters), from Latin, plural of uncialis weighing an ounce, from uncia twelfth part, ounce — more at ounce.” First known use: 1775.

  • 106d. [Swift brute] YAHOO. As in Jonathan Swift.

Hey Puzzle, here’s a few stars… »toss« …go buy yourself a nice time!

Updated Sunday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy crossword answers, 7 3 11 Bob Klahn

I got off to an okay start on this 70/28 freestyle from the Zen Master of Clever Clues, but then got severely bogged down at a few crossings.  The result was a very slow time, even by my comparatively low standards.  That’s a little frustrating, because I had conquered the triple-nines fairly easily and thus felt a fleeting sense of confidence.  Still, despite the frustration, there’s a lot here to admire:

  • Just a few days ago I was sucked into thinking the clue [National rival] was asking for the name of another rental car company, only to find out it was FOREIGN STATE.  So naturally I had no idea that [Dollar alternative] was asking for the name of another rental car company, this time ALAMO.  Sigh.
  • I really liked [Joint tenant?] as a clue for FELON. It’s bar exam time across the country, so budding lawyers who took some time off from cramming to solve this puzzle might think this clue was used precisely to make them feel guilty about taking a break.  The bar exam does things like that to your psyche.
  • I suppose it says something about me that I plunked down IDIOT with absolutely no hesitation upon seeing the clue [Every driver but you?].  In hindsight, I’m not sure why I was so confident–I’m just glad it worked out.
  • I thought [“Foiled again!” competitor] was looking for an opposite exclamation, like I DID IT, or something similar.  Instead, the clue wants to know a name for a competitor who might exclaim “Foiled again!”  That would be the losing EPEEIST, a word we all use in everyday conversation.
  • Unknown crossing #1: the intersection of [Hoover’s Secretary of State], STIMSON, with TOSHIRO, clued as [Mifune of “Yojimbo”].  “Yojimbo” tells the story of a wandering nomad who travels great distances calling out for his pal, Jim.
  • Unknown crossing #2, 3, and 4: three letters comprising [“The Velveteen Rabbit” author Margery] WILLIAMS.  Both of the Is and the first L were hard for me to suss out, as I’m not familiar with [“Exile in Guyville” singer Liz] PHAIR, the [“Watch on the Rhine” Best Actor Oscar winner], PAUL LUKAS, or the word PINNATE, meaning [Featherlike].  I blame the public school system, as it certainly can’t be my fault.

Other great items included DEEP-SIXES (which we just saw in a Doug Peterson puzzle this past week), MOOSEJAW, Saskatchewan, and my favorite clue, [They hang around waterfalls] for MISTS. So while I got clobbered, I enjoyed the beatdown and will be back for another.  Maybe I’ll go solve the LAT puzzle and hope for better luck there–hopefully I’ll be on that constructor’s wavelength!

Patrick Berry’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 65”

Washington Post Puzzler No. 65 crossword answers, 7 3 11

There’s not a false move in this whole puzzle. Which is not to say there’s no trickery in the clues—there’s a little of that. The fill is smooth and smart and it’s got some fun stuff:

  • 24a. If it’s SO BAD, IT’S GOOD, it is [Awfully entertaining?]. Not sure I’ve ever seen this answer in a crossword before, but I’ve definitely said the words.
  • 8d. GONE FISHIN’ is cute, but I had no idea it was the title of a [1997 film co-scripted by J.J. Abrams]. When you follow this answer with 9d: SHUCKS, or [“Dadgummit!”], it is appropriate to take out your whittlin’ knife.
  • 12d. [Completely unloaded?] clues COLD SOBER, which is often intensified with the word “stone.”
  • 30d. [Woody Allen’s mother-in-law] is, of coruse, MIA FARROW. This one made me laugh and then read it to my husband.
  • 35d. THE RIVER is a classic [1980 double album by Bruce Springsteen].
  • 44d. [Pole position?] isn’t about auto racing, it’s about the ARCTIC.

Did you notice that there are only two 3-letter answers in this 66-word grid? That’s not easy to pull off.

Five more clues:

  • 14a. [Second-biggest city in Venezuela ] = MARACAIBO
  • 39a. [“A dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world,” according to George Santayana] = ARTIST
  • 51a. [Ananias, for one] = DAMASCENE, meaning “person from Damascus”
  • 10d. [Typical Monteverdi composition] = MADRIGAL
  • 26d. [Amtrak train from New York to Montreal] = ADIRONDACK. I like the geographic poeticism inherent in many of the names of Amtrak routes. Three that pass through Chicago are the Hiawatha (to Milwaukee), City of New Orleans, and California Zephyr.

4.5 stars.

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

Merl Reagle crossword answers, 7 3 11 "General Search"

Easy crossword, with a tougher word search puzzle embedded in it. The Notepad says there are 14 Civil War generals hidden in the Across answers. I found 13 likely suspects, and then I turned to Wikipedia for help. You know what? There are about 150 generals from just the Union side in just the first three letters of the alphabet. I’m not looking at a couple thousand names to find the 14th hidden general! If you’re a Civil War buff, you can tell us if Tonstir or Norlace was a general.

I have said this before when writing about other puzzles, and I will keep saying it as long as constructors and editors keep using this clue: AN EEG IS NOT A SCAN. IT IS A RECORDING OF BRAIN ACTIVITY, NOT A SCANNED PICTURE OF WHAT IS INSIDE THE SKULL. Thus, a clue like 67d: [Brain scan, briefly] will chap my hide every single time.

There’s a lupine sub-theme lurking in here:

  • 45d. [Orb in werewolf films] is the MOON.
  • 78a. [Keitel in “Pulp Fiction”] is MR. WOLF. When you’ve got a brain scan all over the car interior, he’s just the one to supervise the cleanup.
  • 103d. U-BOATS are [Wolf pack units].

Favorite fill and clues:

  • 84a. [Suffer] clues PAY DEARLY.
  • 96a. [Cinderella’s horses, before] were mere MICE.
  • 98d. Hey, look, it’s crossword lingo. A CROSSER is a [Down word, perhaps].

3.5 stars. For me, the word search was more a matter of “Does that sound like a surname that would have been around in 1860s America?” No idea who Longstreet, Pickett, and Hooker are.

Sam Donaldson’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Say Again”?

Syndicated LA Times crossword answers, 7 3 11 "Say Again?"

Ooh, I like a good heteronym theme. Heteronyms are words that are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and meanings. The theme answers look perfectly ordinary in the grid, but they’re clued as if the heteronym has invaded a familiar phrase:

  • 23a. [Understudy’s crime?] = LEAD POISONING.
  • 33a. [Short ovation?]= MINUTE HAND
  • 49a. [Instrument with colored bands?] = STRIPED BASS
  • 68a. [Compliment on a skillful asphalt job?] = GOOD EVENING
  • 84a. [Anesthetist’s error?] = WRONG NUMBER
  • 101a. [Fight among forest females?] = DOES BATTLE
  • 117a. [Clean kielbasa?] = POLISH SAUSAGE
  • 16d. [Telescope?] = METEOR SHOWER
  • 64d. [Jeans feature after a barbed wire encounter?] = TRAIL OF TEARS

Remember the Droid phone ads that said the device was a “bucket of does”? They meant “a bucket of the opposite of can’t do,” but it sure looked like we should expect to see a herd of female deer in a giant pail.


Favorite clues:

  • 108d. [See-thru wear?] = SPECS
  • 44d. [Blowout on the court] = MASSACRE. Is this about Djokovic vs. Nadal?
  • 50d. [Diamond wearer in “Copacabana”] = RICO

4.25 stars.

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32 Responses to Sunday, 7/3/11

  1. Jan (danjan) says:

    Very cute – I’m just a bit miffed that I had DARN crossing the West Coast Evergreens (MADRONES?!), rather than DAMN, which I guess makes more sense with ___ straight, but darnit, it took a while to figure out that’s where my error was.
    Amy – I found your typo, though – 14D is ESOTERY, crossing YSL, the DKNY competitor (I’m not so sure these lines compete directly).

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Jan, when I got the “you are incorrect, doofus” message, I tried changing DAMN to DARN, but that didn’t work. Mildly surprised (though not unpleasantly so) to see ANAL and DAMN in an NYT puzzle.

  3. Jan (danjan) says:

    Indeed – and at Sunday morning breakfast, too!

  4. pannonica says:

    nyt ANAL bg ANILE (see etymology).

  5. John E says:

    So when did olives start going well with ice cream treats? Or is someone mixing ice cream with martinis? tsk tsk!! (re: Patrick Merrell’s visual)

  6. pannonica says:

    Notepad: When this puzzle is done, the circles will contain five different letters of the alphabet. Connect each set of circles containing the same letter, without crossing your line, to make a simple closed shape. The resulting five closed shapes together will form a picture of a 117-Across. The five letters can be arranged to name a good place to get a 117-Across.

  7. pannonica says:

    “So when did olives start going well with ice cream treats? Or is someone mixing ice cream with martinis? tsk tsk!! (re: Patrick Merrell’s visual)”—John E

    I have no idea, but those two items are the typical garnishes for the twin titans of the cocktail world, the Manhattan and the Martini (although I prefer my martinis with a twist—that’s lemon).

  8. joon says:

    this is my least favorite “draw on your grid when you’re done” puzzle ever, because the instructions don’t have a unique solution. not even close. ugh. i can connect the three Ds, the three Is, and the four Ns just fine to form “simple closed shape”s. but the Es and Rs = epic fail. the shape i wanted to make with the Rs looked like a smokestack.

    basically, this was essentially the same puzzle as the ACPT puzzle 2 (which i also disliked), except with much worse fill and an additional gimmick that didn’t work at all. i can’t remember a sunday puzzle i’ve liked less in the last three years.

  9. JanglerNPL says:

    Agreed with the overall assessment of the puzzle, but (just curious) what’s wrong with OATS?

  10. Duke says:

    I read the note, looked at 117 across and immediately saw ice cream soda. The rest filled in quickly. Two issues: never heard the name “coke float” All our floats have root beer. And since when does one say “okras”. I only know okra as the plural.

  11. pannonica says:

    Duke: Never heard of “coke float” either; I suspect it hails from those parts of the country where “coke” is interchangeable with soda—or at least cola—rather than being a shortened form of Coca-Cola, i.e. the real thing. “Root beer float” is the item I’m familiar with.

  12. ArtLvr says:

    This LAT will be at least semi-memorable (for me, for a while) because it took so long to connect the 45D , clue “First O, say” with the TIC of tic-tac-toe. Why “say”, rather than a question mark? To misdirect toward “O, say”, first words of the national anthem? Grrr.

    The one I most enjoyed today was the Cox-Rathvon creation of cash-equivalents, including the title — which rang a distant bell at the outset.

  13. sbmanion says:

    Coke float is something I routinely heard in Buffalo. Haven’t heard it much in Phoenix.

    I rarely if ever do the puzzle within a puzzle–circled letters, in general, do not appeal to me and connect the dots even less so.

    I was surprised to see DA_N with M seeming logical to my ear and R the more likely NYT entry. I just did not know whether RI_JA crossing S_BA was O or A.


  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Jangler, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with OATS, but it’s nothing that stands out as interesting.

  15. Papa John says:

    I had no problem with COKE FLOAT (one can also have a 7UP float or Dr Pepper float, or any other kind of soda, depending on one’s tastes), although I believe root beer is the more usual ingredient. I was stymied by the main theme entry, ICE CREAM SODA — new to my ears, although it makes perfect sense. A float is the combination of any soda and ice cream. I’m not sure how to mix in the chocolate. Does the joda jerk add chocolate syrup to a float? What flavor of ice cream and what kind of soda is used? Any combo of chocolate and soda doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

  16. pannonica says:

    re: Reagle. Uhm, is LEE in the bottom right too easy, too short, cheating? Seems the right location to distribute all fourteen fairly evenly.

  17. Pat Merrell says:

    I prefer Gareth’s drawing. It looks like a turkey. And it fits an alternate anagram of the letters: IN RED.

  18. Meem says:

    Best of day honors go to Sam and Merl.

  19. Deb Amlen says:

    @Gareth: Oh my goodness, I am STILL laughing about that one. Way to go, and kudos to you for putting it out there!

  20. Louise Manz says:

    Ms. Reynaldo:

    In Merl Reagle’s crossword puzzle today (Philadelphia Inquirer), the 14th general is ‘Bee’ (106 Down).

    I cheated and found a website with a shorter list than Wikipedia that included all of the generals cited in the puzzle.

    Louise Manz

  21. Eric Maddy says:

    re Reagle: Lee seems to be right. The seven generals in the North (of the grid) are Union generals, starting with Grant; seems reasonable that the seven in the South would be Confederate generals, and end with Lee.

  22. David says:

    Terrible NYT. Of you are going to put in a picture, there should only be one way to connect the circles. Blaah. One star

  23. Gareth says:

    let it be clear, I actually really enjoyed this puzzle, I just, like many others it seems, battled in the connect the dots part!

  24. John Haber says:

    I didn’t care for the theme either. I could see that the only way I could keep the five objects separate, especially since lines for one might go through and obscure circled letters, was to put away my thick black pen and pull out a set of colored pencils. It felt like homework, not to mention grade-school homework. Especially since I knew anyway that it was sure to be something like a straw in glass, I figured it just wasn’t worth it, when I could come here to see.

    Otherwise, a mix of very easy and dubious fill, I think. That clue for DO I was both implausible and gross. ESOTERY, MADRONES, SIDERITE, and RULE ONE weren’t my thing either, and I’m among those for whom COKE FLOAT is foreign and OKRAS in the plural isn’t convincing. I’ll also add VOICING as new to me and DR LAO as not ringing a bell, and the two uses of “artist” for singer are defensible but not exactly inspiring. SUA and KAUAI seemed most plausible, but it wasn’t my favorite crossing either.

  25. john farmer says:

    Re use of “artist” for singer, it’s a definite trend. In my travels last week I picked up a copy of “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” It’s from Rolling Stone, so don’t expect to find Rembrandt, van Gogh, and Picasso. VH1 did the same thing last year.

    I wonder if Beyoncé (#53 on the VH1 list) measures up to Santayana’s definition of artist.

  26. Pete M says:

    For all you that enjoyed the puzzle – thanks!

    And thanks a lot Patrick for the great drawing…much appreciated

    Thanks also to Gareth for the alternate drawing…I did struggle with the appropriate instruction on how to connect the dots to get a unique answer…but I guess it was part of the puzzle to figure it out.

    The construction was pretty hard – originally I was going to use A…Z ala Liz Gorski to draw the soda but couldn’t get a satisfactory single line drawing. Then I thought of the multiple shapes idea. There was enough flexibility in exactly how to draw the soda and where to place the blocks to make it work. But there were a lot of discarded ice cream sodas in the process. Too bad they were all on paper.

    For those of you that thought the drawing caused too many compromises on the fill or was too much of a pain (and it seems there were a bunch of you) – sorry! I hope you like my next puzzle more.

  27. merlbaby says:

    pannonica and eric are right — LEE is the 14th general, hidden in the last across answer, to balance GRANT, who’s hidden in the first across answer. and i already wrote amy to say that i’ll try to remember about EEG in the future! –MR

  28. joon says:

    pete, thanks for your comment. i strongly suspect i’ll like your next puzzle. (i’m hoping it’s not another drink recipe.)

    i guess i’m too late to chime in on the LEE thing, but … yeah, it’s LEE. the “rules” do state that they’re all in across answers, so it’s not BEE. and since nobody has yet mentioned this, i’ll note that all of the general-containing answers are symmetrically located. as for who some of these guys were, i’m a little rusty on my civil war history, but they were all familiar to me. PICKETT is eponymous of pickett’s charge, which resulted in a confederate disaster at gettysburg. LONGSTREET was lee’s second-in-command at that battle (and, i think, for much of the war). HOOKER is famous for one great quote: before the battle of chancellorsville, he said, “my plans are perfect. may god have mercy on general lee, for i shall have none.” unfortunately, then he went and got his ass kicked by lee despite an overwhelming numerical advantage. there’s a rumor that hooker is also an eponym, but that seems to be false. anyway, i really dug this puzzle. thanks, merl!

    short shrift to the other puzzles today, but like others, i thought sam’s puzzle was terrific, and SO BAD IT’S GOOD is maybe my favorite entry of the year. ten thumbs up.

  29. HH says:

    Shouldn’t the clue for 8-Down have said “They’re crunched”?

  30. Willo says:

    The 14th Union general is Lee @ 133 across.

  31. Steven harper says:

    How could you forget general LEE?

  32. Oldmike says:

    Puzzle is two weeks behind here in eastern canada, enjoyed the comments.
    Is 130A a hidden slur at puzzle whizzes?

Comments are closed.