Thursday, 8/18/11

NYT 6:50 
LAT 5:59 (Neville) 
CS 6:47 (Sam) 
Tausig 6:16 (pannonica) 
BEQ 20:58 (Matt) 

Kevan Choset’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 8 18 11 0818

This 16×15 puzzle reminds me a bit of a Trip Payne puzzle from 5 years ago, in which he featured people whose initials were academic degrees. Kevan goes another route and wedges SIX DEGREES into rebus squares. There’s a Bachelor of Fine Arts in CA{BFA}RE and A{B FA}B (took me forever to figure out how the obvious 5-letter answer might fit into 3 squares) and a Master of Arts in ICE{MA}KER and {MA}INE. The Master of Business Administration makes a splash in Efrem ZI{MBA}LIST and SLA{MBA}NG. The Doctor of Medicine practices is C{MD}R (meh) and E{M D}ASHES (the online clue for the latter is [Parentheses alternatives] but the print edition will have something like [———], Wordplay’s Deb Amlen reports.) The Doctor of Law plies her trade in {J.D.} SALINGER and V-{J D}AY. I sure didn’t know you could call a [Tuba] a {BA}SS HORN but there it is, representing my personal favorite, the Bachelor of Arts, with Ulan {BA}TOR.

Anyone else vexed that SLEEKIT wouldn’t work at 47a? Burns’s mouse is a BEASTIE. (And sleekit is an adjective: “WEE, sleekit, cow’rin’, tim’rous beastie.”)

I like the gimmick and the challenge it posed. Love THE HOBBIT, DOG STAR, and SCRAWLS in the fill. And I always like seeing the word ISOPOD, because it gives me an opportunity to exhort you to look at the cute little pill bug/roly-poly’s cousin, the giant isopod. Less fond of the AGENA/ENLAI/ASLAN ilk.

Overall gestalt rating, 3.75 stars.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “That’s Not All” — pannonica’s review

Ink Well • 8/19/11 • "That's Not All" answers

But wait! What is it then? It was ALL, but now it’s AUL.

  • 17a. [Skipped objects in ancient France?] GAUL STONES (gall stones). Ducks and drakes, as it’s known in the UK, has many interesting and colorful names in different languages. In French, however, it’s rather mundanely called ricochets.
  • 23a. [Where a certain Sith lord goes to eat at Cinnabon and Sbarro?] MAUL FOOD COURT (mall food court). Wow, that clue is a mouthful! And the original phrase seems a tad belabored, if somewhat alliterative. Are food courts commonly found anywhere else but malls?
  • 53a. [Crate digger’s score] HAUL OF RECORDS (Hall of Records). Here, crate digger refers to vinyl archaeologists, whether they’re esoteric turntablists or hopeless nostalgics.
  • 63a. [McCartney’s limo?] PAUL BEARER (pallbearer). A little obliquely ghoulish, perhaps? Then again, he “died” over 40 years ago.

Cute theme, really liked the “Gaul” and “haul” entries. Would have preferred not to see ALL in the grid, unrelated to the theme but echoing the title at 4d [More than a lot]. Some non-mainstream (read: not-ready-for-the-New-York-Times) fill and cluing:

  • 45a [Enjoy coke, say?] USE.
  • 57a [Drug that keeps you going?] EX-LAX.
  • 34d [It keeps balls safe on the field] JOCK STRAP.
  • and, depending on how sensitive one is, 44d [Mixed, in antiquated census parlance) MULATTO, and 63d [Angel dust] PCP (phencyclidine).

Other observations:

  • Double duty clue for 31d & 65d [Animated star of a 2011 blockbuster]: SMURF and APE (Caesar, from Rise of the Planet of the Apes).
  • Sneaky 1-Across clue [Leaves undressed, perhaps] SALAD. That’ll put you off balance.
  • Have never heard of 27a [1777 battle site near Philadelphia] PAOLI but, yes, it has a named battle and the dub-dub-dub informs me that it’s currently associated with a place called Malvern.
  • Mini fashion theme?
    • [Fashion faux pas] DON’T.
    • [It goes with pretty much any color] DENIM.
    • [Gp. authorized to look through people’s clothing] TSA.
    • Tangentially, the sunglasses in 49a and the tattoos in 52a.
  • 5d [Spying device] DISGUISE. “Device” seems a little off, because I tend to associate the word with things mechanical or electronic. 7d [Firearm safety mechanism] GUN LOCK seems a bit strange to me, somewhere between safety (lock) and gun safe, but I am functionally gun-illiterate… Aha, the mighty Googlehuelpa informs me that a gun lock is something else altogether. Criticism rescinded.
  • The twee MEECES appears in a puzzle for the second time in a week. PGAS [The __ of Europe (international links org.)] is something I would be happy never to see again in a puzzle. As for old-guard crosswordese, we have INGA (Swenson), EFT (in fact a whole central row of less-than-savory: EFT-EMT-GIF-OXO), Al CAPP, and others (but not ET AL.).
  • SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and AREA (51) alongside each other at 60d & 61d.
  • Both [Torrent} and SPATE are good, lively words (68a).

Aul finished.

Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle answers

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle answers 8/18/11

Did this leave you nonplussed? Never fear – we’ll put it together!

  • 16a. [Rikishi’s contest] – SUMO MATCH
  • 28a. [City known as the political capital of Africa] – ADDIS ABABA
  • 43a. [Pacific Northwest cedar monuments] – TOTEM POLES
  • 55a. [The three in this grid are a hint to the starts of 16-, 28- and 43-Across] – PLUS SIGNS

It’s pretty simple for a Thursday theme – the first three letters of each theme entries give things that you do with two numbers and a plus sign. There are three big plus signs in the grid, to boot. As a student of mathematics, I think it all adds up.

Most of this puzzle’s Thursday-ness comes from the fill and its cluing – I like a lot of it:

  • 13a. [Translating computer program] could’ve been Babelfish, but it’s just a COMPILER, which takes code from one (programming) language to another.
  • 35a. [Reorganize, and then some]  is SHAKE UP – one of those two-word entries I didn’t see coming.
  • 44d. [Author better known as Saki] clues H(ector) H(ugo) MUNRO, but I’ll be completely honest with you: I couldn’t name a single work by H.H. Munro. I know the Munro name from crosswords, but not the pseudonym. Put this on the list of things I don’t know about names. Do you think the H.H. is a nod to constructor C.C.?
  • 59a. [Billie Holliday’s real first name]  is ELEANORA and more name trivia that I didn’t know.
  • 11d. [Prepare for the hot tub] wasn’t dip a toe – it was DISROBE. Just when I wanted a phrase – oi.
  • 18a. [Vice ___ ]. I spent so long looking at this after the puzzle. It’s VERSA, like vice versa. Latin.

A solid four stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Not Too Sharp” — Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, August 18

One would think a puzzle with the title “Not Too Sharp” would be right in my wheelhouse. But I got off to a slow start in the northwest, and that resulted in a slightly slower solving time. Then again, maybe I was just paying tribute to the puzzle’s theme by deliberately working through it slowly. Yeah, that’s it.

Our theme is four two-word expressions where the second word can also be a synonym for “simpleton:”

  • 20-Across: I’ve never heard of a RASPBERRY FOOL, the [Simple fruit dessert]. But the clue is certainly right: my research says that to make a raspberry fool, one simply folds whole or puréed raspberries into whipped cream.
  • 33-Across: [Truthful information, slangily] is the STRAIGHT DOPE. Gay dope is apparently less truthful sometimes.
  • 40-Across: I’m pretty sure every TAILOR’S DUMMY is a [Mannequin], but I doubt all mannequins are tailor’s dummies. If that’s so, shouldn’t the clue be a little more precise? It’s like using [Animal] as the clue for DOG, right?
  • 54-Across: The [Thanksgiving entree, perhaps] is ROASTED TURKEY. I certainly prefer my turkey roasted instead of deep-fried.

Newer solvers get another immersion lesson in common crossword entries. [Poetic black] is EBON, most five-word references to Alaskan natives or languages (here, [It’s spoken on Bering Island]) will be ALEUT (which rhymes vaguely with “alley-oop”), and JESU completes [“__ , Joy of Man’s Desiring” (Bach piece)].

A grid sporting both MATA and HARI is good, but cluing both words as [Espionage name] yields a much better “mini-aha moment” (Minnehaha?) than the standard cross-referencing gimmick. Other highlights in the grid included AT WORST, LET’S SEE, LOW MASS, and WICKED on the same line as ENDORA, [Tabitha’s TV grandmother] from Bewitched.

I was less enamored with SAY NAY, especially since its clue, [Reject, with “to”] makes it look more like a six-letter partial. But otherwise this was a solid grid with some nice surprises.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Cryptic Thursday”—Matt Gaffney’s review

BEQ Cryptic "#2 in a series"

BEQ goes British on us today with an awesome cryptic: I got completely hoodwinked a half-dozen times while solving this thing.  Here are three:

  1. 3/4 of the way through I hadn’t seen a hidden word yet, and I think there’s a rule that there has to be at least one.  So I’m looking hard, with just 8 or 9 answers left — and there it is at 2-down, sneakily concealed in one word.
  2. At 4-down, I was sure that “faulty computer code” was BUG, but the lexical chunk was actually “computer code that only some know about.”  Unexpected and cool division of words.
  3. I thought 6-down was going to be AL SMITH based on (2,5), though it turns out he was governor of New York, not the city’s mayor.  Once I got KOCH it was easy.

This puz took me 20:58, which felt like a long time.  I solved an old Cox & Rathvon cryptic in a 1989 GAMES issue a couple of days ago in about 12 minutes, so BEQ’s seemed a bit difficult to me.  And I missed 8-down, where I had VILIFIED instead of CITIFIED (blanked on the name of the new Mets stadium, and I thought VIII stretched out might be the “with no. 8 struck out” part).

Favorite clues, of which there were many: 18-a, 20-a, 17-a, 26-d, and 24-d.  I don’t solve enough cryptics to say whether 18-a is completely original, but if so it’s extremely clever.  As much as I enjoy Brendan’s American crosswords, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these trips across the Pond.

Thanks for the puzzle, Brendan, and have an 11-down Thursday, everyone!

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11 Responses to Thursday, 8/18/11

  1. pannonica says:

    The first themer in the NYT I stumbled onto was JD SALINGER / V-J DAY. Know how many letters separate J and D? Especially if you miscount?* Want to know how much this confused me as I was solving? Are rhetorical questions annoying?

    *Oh sure, J=10 and D=4, and 10-4=6, but that isn’t the way it works.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I blog on the Fiend with Amy who was in Wordplay with Bill Clinton who was in Elvis Lives with Kevin Bacon. three degrees.

  3. AV says:

    Yesterday BAD, today SET, very bad!

    Good puzzle – 4 stars!

  4. Dave G. says:

    I got the theme fairly early with CABFARE and SIX DEGREES so I was on the lookout for degrees in words. I just knew famed violinist starting with Z had to be Zukerman with the degree being an MA – which I hung onto for far too long. Alas, not so. Sometimes getting the theme early is a negative.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    JD SALINGER and VJ DAY finally got me on the right track, but NYT was still a BEASTIE! I had Nina as a memorable ship, two letters fitting okay, which slowed things down…

  6. pannonica says:

    Jeffrey: I once sold a book to Kevin Bacon. In one!

    · Wondering if I should have described the vinyl nostalgics as ‘hopeful’ rather than ‘hopeless.’ It seems either could apply equally well.
    · Thinking Tad Belabored would be a good character name.

    Saki is best known for his short stories, but I can’t say if any one of them stands out. Years ago I burrowed into an anthology, eager to find treasures, but grew tired of its mustiness before long. More evolved is Wodehouse.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    So that means I am down to two.

  8. Matt says:

    I got five of the degrees in a reasonable amount of time, but MD just killed me. I got it eventually, but much later that same day. In any event, an excellent puzzle, IMO.

  9. lexicon fan says:

    Re Inkwell: My first pass through the grid, I used the theme to come up with DARTHMAULMALL. Heh!

  10. Gareth says:

    What a well constructed rebus! Really fun to solve! Also couldn’t figure out how ABFAB was going to fit in 3 squares, though tipped the puzzles hand that there was a rebus of some kind afoot rather early! Not sure that BA and MA in 1 puzzle isn’t cheating though… Didn’t know what a JD was though it’s position in the grid was rather obvious!

  11. John Haber says:

    A truckload of this was obscure to me, from “Dream Catcher” and ASLAN stacked in the SE to the DE NIRO role and bit of French geography crossing the Mexican president and that fact about the DOG STAR in the NE to, especially, the whole NW. I managed to avoid, thankfully, THE HOBBIT so didn’t make the connection, never saw ABFAB (and never hope to see one), and didn’t remember MABEL MERCER for quite some time. Finally, with some guesses around it, I remembered the MAINE to pull it together.

    Let’s just say that I liked the theme but positively hated the fill, with no real pleasure in finishing.

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