Tuesday, 8/16/11

Jonesin' 4:54 
NYT 3:25 
LAT 4:12 (Neville) 
CS 5:58 (Sam) 

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 8 16 11 0816

Okay, so the theme entries are four fairly lively phrases with hidden bits of “textese” that people use in instant messaging, e-mail, and text messaging venues. There’s OTOH (on the other hand), IMHO (in my humble opinion), ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing), and TTYL (talk to you l8r). These are fine, but unifying them with 57a: HIDDEN TEXT seems a hair off to me. To you too, or just to me?

The fill skews old, with Anita EKBERG, James ARNESS, F-TROOP, Mr. MOTO, The Sound of Music‘s A DEER, “The Girl from IPANEMA,” “MY EYE,The FlintstonesDINO—wait, what decade is this? Is The Brady Bunch even on yet? It’s my birthday, and yet suddenly I feel about 20 years too young for this puzzle. (Yes, I know XM RADIO is lurking here too. But isn’t that a smidgen outdated too? I think the only U.S. satellite radio option is the merged Sirius XM, that there’s no separate XM RADIO anymore.)

Three stars.

Alex Boisvert’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword answers 08 16 11

Los Angeles Times crossword answers 08 16 11

Wowie-wow! A theme that Marky Mark would approve of. Five entries where the the second word is the same as the first, only the ending long e sound has been removed. Bonus points: the long e sound is spelled differently each time.

  • 17a. [Meet used in place of a puck?] – HOCKEY HOCK
  • 11d. [Intimidator on the bovine playground?] – BULLY BULL
  • 35d. [Short-term Arizona State employee?] – TEMPE TEMP
  • 39a. [Surcharge for a cab ride?] – TAXI TAX
  • 61a. [Davy Jones at an abbey?] – MONKEE MONK

An easy ?-theme for a Tuesday. At first I was thrown thinking animals would always be involved, but that was easy to get past. I know that Alex would never use MONKEE for MONKEY if it would break the theme.

I love the lower right corner of this puzzle – AQUAMAN, COMPAQ and TRAC II all in one section? YIKES! (I’m a sucker for a well-used Q.) ALSO-RAN, ASK ME and GO-KARTS are nice touches, too. I like TOMTOM, too, but maybe that’s because my TomTom tells me how to get around town. (Yes, I’ve successfully moved to Kentucky!)

  • Quibble: I don’t like HAWG. I get it, but I don’t like it. HOG? sure. DAWG for DOG? Maybe. Perhaps I just don’t run with the right crowd to get this.
  • Kudos for a RE- entry that is actually used as a RE- word: REFRY, as opposed to something like REUNHAT.

Four stars. (Happy belated birthday, Amy!)

Updated Tuesday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Where’s Charley?” — Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, August 16

I suppose the alternate title for this puzzle, Up with Chuck!, might be resting comfortably on the editing room floor. Today we honor four artists—two cartoonists and two musicians, and all men, curiously—who all share the same first name though each is known by a slightly different take on it:

  • 20-Across: The [“Peanuts” cartoonist] is CHARLES SCHULZ.  I highly recommend the David Michaelis biography, Schulz and Peanuts. It’s long, but fascinating. You’ll never read Peanuts through the same lens again.
  • 31-Across: The [“Maybellene” singer] is CHUCK BERRY. You may also know him from such hit singles as Roll Over Beethoven and Johnnie B. Goode.
  • 41-Across: CHAS. ADDAMS is [The New Yorker cartoonist] that fits this theme. Some say his cartoons were creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky. Me, I’d describe them as neat, sweet, and petite. One of his classics appears below. In case you can’t read the caption, it says, “Death ray, fiddlesticks! Why, it doesn’t even slow them up.”
  • 53-Across: The [Jazz legend nicknamed “Bird”] is CHARLIE PARKER. I’m not familiar with his work, but I do recall that Clint Eastwood directed the movie about Parker’s life, Bird, and that Idi Amin portrayed Parker. Or maybe it was Forest Whitaker.

A Chas. Addams classic

The grid has some really zippy fill, most notably NICE JOB, I DO SO, CRAZY IDEA, and UNDER-COOK. Newer solvers might have struggled with some common items of crossword fill:

  • The [Lab gel], AGAR, “can be used as a laxative, a vegetarian gelatin substitute, a thickener for soups, in jellies, ice cream and other desserts, as a clarifying agent in brewing, and for sizing paper and fabrics.” If you suddenly lost your appetite, I get it.
  • I took four years of Spanish, so OJOS, the [Spanish eyes] was a gimme for me. If you didn’t take Spanish, there’s an easy trick to remember it: picture the J as a nose and the surrounding Os as eyes. Even in lower-case, ojo looks like a face.
  • A [Hindu princess] is a RANI, so many of them are RANIS. (Oh, and the [wrap for a rani] is a SARI.)
  • The [Country Crock product] is OLEO. Not to be confused with OREO or OLIO (or OJO, for that matter).
  • The [Pelvic bone] is ILIUM. Any anatomical part that’s 60% vowels is bound to pop up in crossword grids from time to time. So be on the lookout for RADII and ULNAE too.
  • [Rope fiber] is SISAL. It just is. I finally had to remember it as “SISAL and Ebert give it two thumbs up.”
  • When it’s five letters, the [Eagle’s abode] is an AERIE (80% vowels!). When it’s twelve letters, it’s PHILADELPHIA.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “To Be Announced”

Jonesin' crossword answers, "To Be Announced" 8 16 11

Each theme answer has TBA hidden in it, but the phrases are strange contrivances. The consistency is that each time, TBA is split across two words, T/BA style, but there are always other words in the phrase that don’t touch the TBA. I dunno—this just didn’t do anything for me:

(edit: p here, at AR’s request, to point out that the letters T-B-A have been inserted into cogent original phrases)

  • 17a. [Frequent activity for haberdashers?] = HOLDING HAT BANDS. What, milliners are too old-school for this clue? (holding hands)
  • 23a. [Avenue in Oakland?] = generic EAST BAY STREET. (Easy Street)
  • 37a. [Why Haim didn’t want to party one night in the 1980s?] = COREY FELT BAD, MAN. (Corey Feldman)
  • 48a. [Request from the most relaxing talk radio host ever?] = “CALL IN, SIT BACK.” (call in sick)
  • 58a. [Designed for shooting gross globs?] = BUILT TO SPITBALL. Wait, the TBAs aren’t all split across two words, as SPITBALL is one word. Never mind what I said about consistency. (Built to Spill)

The theme covers 71 squares, but that’s 71 squares that fail to entertain me. The thematic density also pushes Matt to include fill like MODI ([Kal Penn, born Kalpen ___ (hidden in COMMODITIES)]), KAN, CMAS, DERMA-, -ISE, -ICAL, plural TALCS, partial I’D BE, never-heard-of-her CILLA ([British singer/actress Black]), and the crossing names-your-grandparents-probably-know of AUDIE ([WWII hero Murphy]) and [Firefighter Red ___] ADAIR. So the theme needed to do the heavy lifting to make solvers willing to swallow CILLA KAN TALCS, and I don’t think it did.

Two stars. (pending reconsideration?)

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20 Responses to Tuesday, 8/16/11

  1. John E says:

    So why didn’t Mr Steinberg use LMFAO or FUBAR? I mean, it’s not swearing if it’s an acronym, is it?

    Happy birthday, Amy – hope it’s a great one!

  2. Dave G. says:

    txt is a good topic, but I h8ed the 3 consecutive TV trivii in the SE.

    My favorite txt is when I SMS my kids that it’s time to come home and they write back: K

    I L c u all l8r.

    :) Bday Amy.

  3. seahedges says:

    No texter, I understood only one of the four circled secrets, tho the puz was no prob.
    Happy b-day 2 u, dear Amy.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Typo in the write-up of the LAT — 17A clue starts with Meat, not Meet — as in a ham hock, I suppose. There’s a drink called Hock too — but it’s harder to picture that here. Not so thrilled with either the NYT or the LAT today, except for some amusing fill here and there, but maybe I’m in damp spirits because of a flooded basement! Apologies, all.

  5. HH says:

    “Kudos for a RE- entry that is actually used as a RE- word: REFRY,….”

    What’s the deal with refried beans? Can’t they fry them right the first time?

  6. pannonica says:

    HH: It’s a misnomer, of course.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    Not sure what the problem is with the Jonesin’ puzzle, Amy? Inserting letters into standard phrases to get nonsense phrases is a standard crossword convention, as you know, so why is it suddenly a convention worthy of criticism?

    There are other words that don’t touch the TBA, true, but this is true of many or most other puzzles using this trick, so again I’m at a loss why this is suddenly frowned upon. I’ve never in my life heard that every word in a theme entry in an add-letters theme had to touch the added letters.

  8. pannonica says:

    Matt Gaffney: See edit (simultaneous to your comment).

  9. Matt Gaffney says:

    OK thanks pannonica, but what’s with the idea that every word in an add-letters theme entry must use one of the added letters? This is completely new to me.

  10. Matt Gaffney says:

    Incidentally, Matt J. told me that Amy herself was the inspiration for this theme (since she uses TBA on the blog when a puzzle’s post is forthcoming).

  11. pannonica says:

    If Amy saw no apparent rationale for the theme entries, then wondering why they contained so much “superfluous” content would be natural, no?

  12. pannonica says:

    “…Matt J. told me that Amy herself was the inspiration for this theme…”

    Ah, the cruel stab of irony.

  13. Matt Gaffney says:

    Aha moment — pannonica I see your point now. All criticism of Amy’s post withdrawn.

    I consider her infallible so when she overlooks something I’m left bewildered and temporarily unable to make sense of my surroundings. But we’re good now.

  14. Gareth says:

    I’ve seen the NYT before, didn’t Neville do it somewhere? OTOH, they’re all 4 letters, and all used to make interesting themers so the theme was well executed!

    Thought the LAT’s non-theme stuff was especially fun today!

  15. Gareth says:

    Although it can’t be ’cause he’d have said something by now!

  16. Amy Reynaldo says:

    The cruel stba of irony.

    For what it’s worth, have never, ever heard of Built to Spill and would have downgraded the theme for that even if I had understood what the theme entries were doing.

  17. joon says:

    the only reason BUILT TO SPILL rang a bell for me was that it was the title of a BEQ puzzle last year. i can only assume it’s a band name.

  18. Built to Spill is indeed a band, and they’re a damn good one at that. Best thing to come out of Idaho since, what, potatoes?

  19. Aaron Brandes says:

    Help! Am I already of my grandparents generation?

    Audi Murphy fought in WWII (as did my father), but I remember Red Adair fighting oil well fires and blowouts in the 1970’s.

  20. Martin says:

    Audie Murphy also had a movie career.


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