Wednesday, 9/7/11

Onion 4:34 
LAT 3:39 
NYT 3:26 
CS 5:29 (Sam) 

If you were in the habit of using the “[Today]” link at Will Johnston’s Puzzle Pointers page to download the .puz file of the New York Times crossword, you’ve surely noticed that the link is gone. The NYT changed its file-naming conventions so the way Will had it configured doesn’t work anymore. He suggests Crossword Fiend’s “Today’s Puzzles” download page as an alternative. Team Fiend’s V.P. of I.T., Evad, just updated the code so that our NYT link will give you tomorrow’s puzzle the night before, when the Times releases the new puzzle online. Evad’s also added a link for the six-weeks-in-arrears Boston Globe puzzle.

Mind you, I still visit Puzzle Pointers nearly every weekend to fetch some Sunday puzzles on Saturday. Such a handy page! He’s got the Post Puzzlers weeks in advance via the calendar page, you know. Good stuff.

Jim Hilger’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 7 11 0907

Look! My latest Macintosh software update brought me a bolder font inside the NYT applet. My eyes thank whatever Java noodlings are responsible for this.

Today’s theme is phrases that follow FOLLOW, but the FOLLOW has been lopped off and appears elsewhere in the grid. The clues for the FOLLOW-less phrases and words give no hint that anything is amiss. THE BOUNCING BALL, ORDERS, THE LEADER, THAT CAR, ONE’S HEART (we would also have accepted ONE’S BLISS), and IN ONE’S FOOTSTEPS are the FOLLOWers. Do you like the faint surrealism of things not following FOLLOW as they should?

Top five:

  • 11d. CHARADES. Not sure why the clue is [Game with many “points”]. Because…people point at…something? Regardless, I like the answer.
  • 43a. Nice clue for Scrabbly JAGUAR: [Figure of many a Mayan deity].
  • 12a. [Lifeline’s location] is in the PALM of your hand, if you give any credence to palm reading. Raise your hand if you thought of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? lifelines first.
  • 8d. PRINCE! The musician and [Singer whose “name” was once a symbol] when his record label asserted rights to his name. Not that the fill or clue are so special—I just like Prince’s music, particularly the early ’80s stuff.
  • 56d. ZING! That’s to [Throw a barb at] someone verbally.

Not wild about: (1) Plural APRILS. (2) OSSIA. Say what?? This [Direction to an alternative musical passage] has a few priors in the Cruciverb database, all in the LAT, clued as “easier version, in music (scores).” I am more familiar with OSTIA, a Roman port that gets a lot more play in crosswords. Do you musical types all know OSSIA?

3.5 stars.

Michael Sharp’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 9 7 11

Michael’s theme answers change -ALE spellings into sound-alike -AIL spellings:

  • 17a. [Bills and catalogues?] clues TYPICAL MAIL. Mine seems to be more solicitations for donations. I don’t feel like I receive any less mail than I used to, but I definitely send less now that none of my regular bills are paid by sending a check in the mail. Post Office, we hardly knew ye. (“Typical male” feels like the least familiar of the base phrases in this theme.)
  • 29a. [Monk’s unusual appendage?] is the super-creepy answer, THE FRIAR’S TAIL. (“The Friar’s Tale” is from Chaucer, right up Prof. Sharp’s alley.)
  • 48a. [Where a kid’s shovel may be found?] is right BEYOND THE PAIL.
  • 61a. [Traditional December spin around the harbor?] might be a YEAR-END SAIL. This…would be very cold in Chicago.

In addition to the Chaucer riff in the theme, there are other autobiographical references to the constructor. He has a 20a: PH.D. He roots for 53a: the Boston Red SOX, the [Yanks’ rival]. He loves The Simpsons, home of 19a: APU, [“The Simpsons” character who graduated first in his class of seven million at the Calcutta Institute of Technology]. And NNE‘s clue, 54a: [Binghamton-to-Utica dir.], includes the town where he teaches English.

I needed lots of crossings for 11d: [1961 Ricky Nelson chart-topper], “TRAVELIN’ MAN.” I could’ve done without the extra MAN in the partial at 56d, MAN A, but I like that the crossings include LOOK AT ME and RYAN’S [“__ Hope”: ’70s-’80s soap]. Ryan’s Hope! That’s where I learned that the name that sounded like “Shevon” was spelled Siobhan. It’s a shame future generations won’t have the opportunity to learn so much from soap operas when they’re home sick from school.

3.5 stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Who’s Your Daddy?” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution, September 7

Tyler Hinman’s back with a real winner. The last word in four of the five theme entries can precede “daddy,” and the fifth one kicks it up a notch, as both of its words can come before “daddy.” And yet, even with 55 squares of thematic material, the fill’s all kinds of fresh and fun.

Let’s start with the theme entries:

  • 17-Across: The [Type of football league for girls] is POWDER PUFF, and “Puff Daddy” is one of the many aliases for artist-producer Sean John Combs.
  • 27-Across: GRANULATED SUGAR is a [Pastry chef’s ingredient, often], and “sugar daddy” is a term for a rich man who offers money or gifts to a younger person in exchange for companionship. There are sugar mommas, too, of course.
  • 39-Across: To [Pull out all the stops] is to GO BIG. Happily, Hinman included the hint that [(both parts of this fit the theme)], otherwise I’m sure I would have missed that there’s both “GoDaddy,” the internet domain registrar, and “big daddy,” a name for someone of first importance (like “the bull of the woods,” an expression I’ve never understood much). I love that the central entry has twice the thematic content—that’s an elegant touch.
  • 48-Across: To [Be a persistent annoyance] is to STICK IN ONE’S CRAW.  I’m familiar with “crawdad” as another name for crayfish, the crustacean with eyeballs most delicious. But “crawdaddy” is so new to me that I’m not certain of its meaning. I found a Rolling Stone-like music magazine called Crawdaddy, but not much else that would seem to have wide appeal. It’s entirely possible that I’m missing something, though, so if I am please help me out in the comments.
  • 63-Across: I’m not sure what it says about me that I plunked down ICE ICE BABY as the answer to the [Rap song that samples “Under Pressure”], especially since I’m not very musically-inclined. But there it is. I’m wondering if there’s any connection to the subtitle on Hinman’s blog: “If you got a puzzle, yo I’ll solve it.”

The super-long Downs may lack oomph (REVENUES and PICTURES are solid but pretty monochromatic), but there’s much to admire in the shorter fill, including ON FIRE, AT DAWN, The RIFLEMAN, IN TIME, E.F. HUTTON (Shh!), and IN TIME. I should have figured out ALI G, the [Sasha Baron Cohen character with poor grammar], but I had misspelled WEAN with two Es (my blogging license will be revoked any day now), so it took a while to fall. And the initials RPGS (for role-playing games, I assume) were new to me—though I admit I know LARP from watching the last season of Beauty and the Geek.

There are also a number of terrific clues. Five of my favorites: (1) [Part of the HOMES mnemonic] for Lake ERIE (that was how my mother taught me to remember the names of the Great Lakes); (2) the pair of dairy clues, namely [Move off of milk] for WEAN and [It often has milk poured into it] for BOWL; (3) [Part of a spork] for TINE (why base the clue on an ordinary fork when you can instead reference only the single greatest utensil ever?); (4) [Child’s placemat diversion, possibly] for MAZE (talk about an evocative clue for anyone with kids or who used to solve diner placemat puzzles as a kid); and (5) [One who has turned right?] for NEOCON.

Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword answers, 9 7 11 Tyler Hinman

It’s a Tyler two-fer this week with the Onion and today’s CrosSynergy bylines. His Onion theme riffs on those ridiculous SHAKE WEIGHTs, which are not found in respectable gyms, by scrambling four units of weight and hiding them inside longer phrases:

  • 17a. There’s an OUNCE in STONECUTTER, or [Secret society member in an episode of “The Simpsons”]. Not ringing much of a bell. Was there a big initiation dinner Homer and Marge went to?
  • 26a. [Modernism’s predecessor] ART NOUVEAU hides a TON.
  • 35a. [Prepare for an ordeal] plunks an anagrammed POUND inside GIRD UP ONE’S LOINS, but that’s not the phrase. It’s “gird one’s loins.” Are the kids/sportswriters these days (a) using the phrase but (b) inserting that “up” into it?
  • 48a. [Charades, e.g.] is a PARLOR GAME, and metric gets its due with a hidden GRAM.

Are you wondering what other units of weight might have made Tyler’s list of candidates? There’s the English stone, but we’ve got STONECUTTER so that’s out. And a kilogram—it’s derived from GRAM, but I’d love to see what phrase might have a scrambled KILOGRAM inside it. There are also grains and carats, but they’re not so commonly used.

Five clues:

  • 20a. [Leave in the dust] is a great clue for SMOKE. Slangy, colloquial.
  • 47a. [Bradley Cooper title role in a Bullock bomb] is STEVE, in All About Steve. Pretty sure his people wouldn’t let him take a part in such a bad movie now.
  • 10d. AIR BUBBLES are [Results of a misapplied screen protector]. Tyler, have you been looking at my Droid?
  • 25d. [John who married Shirley Temple] clues AGAR. Who??
  • 33d. [“Google” doesn’t have one] clues SOFT G. The word Google has two hard G’s.

I love the appearance here of SHAKE WEIGHT, but the theme’s of variable solidity. The fill and clues feel a notch or two below Tyler’s usual level of excellence and entertainment. Three stars.

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19 Responses to Wednesday, 9/7/11

  1. joon says:

    OSSIA was a complete mystery to me. but here it is in my harvard concise dictionary of music:

    Ossia [It., or]. Indication for an alternate version, usually one that is easier to execute.

  2. Shteyman says:

    Knew OSSIA right away from playing a lot of Rachmaninoff (he wrote a famous one for his 3rd piano concerto, mvt. 1 –

    As for the puzzle, I wasn’t a big fan of the theme, to be honest, especially since the 2 out of 5 answers used the dreaded “ONE’S.” I would’ve liked to see YOUR DREAM in place of ONE’S HEART, but that’s just a matter of taste.

  3. Rex says:

    OSSIA is a real outlier. Rest of the grid seemed quite solid.

    Re: LAT. Not surprisingly, MANA was my (very) least favorite thing in the grid. The duplication of MAN from “TRAVELIN’ MAN” is the least of its problems. Also, a FRIAR is not a “Monk.” Not not not. I know this, in part, because the Monk’s Tale and the Friar’s Tale are separate tales (I wrote my Ph.D., in part, on both of them). So, yeah, that FRIAR’S TAIL clue was not mine. But my APU clue made it through, and I got my current home town in the clues, so I’m mostly pleased.


  4. Rex says:

    P.S. original clue for TYPICAL MAIL referred to Tina Turner. Without the connection to her #2 hit song “Typical Male,” the theme answer does feel a little less … grounded.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    Agreed that OSSIA if once known was quite forgotten, but I think I’ll know it next time. At least there was balance in the NYT without too much repetition, in that the top half has two (follow) THE phrases and the bottom half has two (follow) ONE’S, with (follow) THAT in the middle. All THE or all ONE’S would have been tedious. Yes, APRILS plural is icky, but the rest was okay… As for the AV, I finished with just one toss-up at crossing names of Avatar people and a Corey person, and had to guess the role name over the Corey as well. Pfui.

    I enjoyed Rex/Michael’s LAT most of the three tonight, never mind distinctions between Monk and FRIAR! I actually SAILed through it — except for wanting 48A to start with BEHIND rather than BEYOND, since I could picture the H in BEhiND fitting with a NIHILIST where the NAYSAYER ended up! Nice job… congratulations!

  6. Jim Horne says:

    If I might be allowed a plug for another website, XWord Info also has a page that makes it easy to download files. There are a few, in fact. has links to PDF and Across Lite versions of every daily and Sunday puzzle in the past two weeks, as well as the most recent Variety puzzle and the solution to the previous Variety. It automatically updates whenever NYT changes their URL schemas.

    If you want to go back further in time, there’s the Calendar page of Across Lite files. Perhaps my favorite page in XWord Info is this page of Across Lite files sorted by constructor.

    All these pages will work even with the NYT is slow publishing their own links on the website. All this is NYT-only, of course.

  7. andrea carla michaels says:

    Both the NYT and LAT had SOP as a “bribe”. Odd!

    I loved Rex’s puzzle! Orange, I think you nailed almost every major point
    (By the way, yes, you point a ton in charades…to your nose if they got the answer right, to the people who are almost right in shouting out things, to parts of your body, etc. Loved that clue!)

    Back to Michael’s puzzle, not only all the sly self-references, PHD, Monks tail, the crazyass-fun APU clue, Binghamton to save a boring NNE, SOX, but I would include the noir-ish sounding CASED the joint, ARREST, ONCEOVER.
    And getting FLO- Rida in there. I think it’s just fine when a puzzle is rife with personal references, that’s how we make it our own!

    And altho he would never intentionally shout out to me in a million years, I will take ACE as damn close to ACME as those were my initials before I became Michaels.

    Loved the theme (Even tho the first answer was arguably weakish, don’t see how you could reference the Tina Turner song when you have to define the mail that is in the grid. TypicalLY male seems more familiar to me…but whatever, loved the theme!)

    I loved NAYSAYER and ENNUI and felt ELICITS was super-sophisticated…
    and the ATL clue was bumped up a notch (like the NNE)

    TRAVELINMAN as a long down was completely fabulous…
    I thought this was great!

  8. Jeffrey says:

    LA Times was excellent. The long downs were nice. And I knew TRAVELIN” MAN.

    CS: REVENUES as Balance Sheet figures is off. Assets, liabilities, and equity are found on a balance sheet. Deferred Revenues are liabilities so that would be ok, but not REVENUES alone. End of Accounting 101 lesson.

  9. Evad says:

    Thanks Amy for clarifying my blog title as V.P. of I.T. Up to this point, I was more commonly (and certainly unofficially) referred to here as the Serene Highness of I.T.

  10. joon says:

    i liked TYPICAL MAIL. “typical male” is very familiar to me as a derisive dismissal of boorish behavior by a man. but it was a fun theme.

    in tyler’s CS, i loved GO BIG—great entry, never seen it in a puzzle before but it very much captures the way i talk. lots of really good cluing too. i’ll defer to jeffrey on balance sheets.

    the onion puzzle was more problematic, in part because i’ve never heard of SHAKE WEIGHT. but my dictionary lists “gird (up) one’s loins”, so that one didn’t bother me. i think i’m more comfortable saying “gird one’s loins” myself, but either form is okay. the odd self-referential clue for TWO made me smile.

    ps—nice to see jim horne stopping in. happy birthday, jim.

  11. Duke says:

    I was also happy to see Prince and unhappy with Aprils. Prince has a great song called “Sometimes It Snows in April”. I was equally unhappy with Gap as a “Longtime mall chain”. It is The Gap, never Gap.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Duke: Sure, The Gap wants it that way. But I think GAP flies. The plural is “Gap stores.” The jeans are “Gap jeans.” And the company’s logo is just GAP.

  13. Todd G says:

    Tyler’s puzzle reminds me of one I sent Will and haven’t heard back about yet.

    The theme is different…but if it ever gets published, I’m guessing you’ll see the similarity as well. Shake, shake, shake, …

    Amy, have you ever had your MILK GO RAncid before? I actually just threw some away the other day…but that’s not important now.

  14. Gareth says:

    i’ll second joon on the typical male putdown. I hear that a lot, figures.

    mana could have Refered to spellcasting energy in rpgs but that’s far less inferrible.

  15. Martin says:

    Joon, if your interested, according to my clue database, SO BIG has occurred 33 times in previous puzzles (notably NYT, NYS, CS, and a few others), usually clued in reference to the Ferber novel.


  16. pannonica says:

    As a by-the-way, Ossian is a figure from Scottish folklore.

  17. Kristin says:

    Stick in one’s craw — that’s a tough on!! You should be making your own crosswords! :-)

  18. reybo says:

    “Baby Daddy?”

  19. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @reybo: As in “father of one’s baby” in contemporary slang.

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