Tuesday, 10/4/11

Jonesin' 4:42 
NYT 2:24 
LAT 4:26 (Neville) 
CS 6:04 (Sam) 

Dan Feyer’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 10 4 11

Dan Feyer! Congratulations on entering the ranks of NYT crossword constructors—and thanks for making it an easy puzzle so that people could try to pretend they’re as fast as you. (Dang it, I missed the 90-second mark by…uh…a number of seconds.)

Since the puzzle was super-Monday-easy level, I didn’t really look closely at it while solving. Enough to know that the circled letters were anagrams of PIN, but not closely enough to see that really, the pins are just being juggled hither and thither, eight of them spinning through the grid. After finishing the puzzle and heading to a search engine, I learned that JUGGLING PINS are the same as juggling clubs—JUGGLING PINS isn’t a term I’d seen before. There’s a CLOWN in the bottom center of the grid, and he or she is the one keeping all those PINs in the air. Sweet visual.

Now, there are very few traditional theme entries here. It’s really just JUGGLING PIN and CLOWN with the whirling PINs, right? So the fill’s pretty smooth, except where the three-way checking required to accommodate a diagonal word constrains things and we see N DAK/OISE, ERN, NNE, and ITA. And Marvin KALB is one of those names that isn’t encountered much anymore, but all the words crossing that name are pretty obvious.

Highlights include the lovely long answers NIPS IN THE BUD, DOM PERIGNON, CRESSIDA, and ENTERTAINED (which ties to Dan’s day job as a musician, no?).

3.75 stars. Cute puzzle.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Aftermath”

Jonesin' crossword solution, "Aftermath" 10/5/11

60a: [Announcement/event of September 2011, or what happened to the theme answers] is the R.E.M. BREAK-UP, and the other four theme entries have scrambled an REM in their midst:

  • 17a. “Remain calm” turns into EM RAIN CALM, or [Dorothy’s aunt’s precipitation is surprisingly mild?]. Oof. The phrase lacks a verb, and nobody anywhere would ever describe rain by appending a person’s name without so much as an apostrophe-S.
  • 25a. [The guy who always dyes eggs in springtime?] turns “remastering” into MR. EASTERING, foisting a verb on us where none exists. Again, oof.
  • 39a. [Fictional spy who’s really a giant department store founder?] clues BOURNE SUPER MACY, playing on The Bourne Supremacy. This one doesn’t parse right for me, either.
  • 50a. [Command for this flan-like dessert to jump in my mouth already?] is C’MERE, BRULEE, building on “creme brulee.” No, no, no. Brulée is an adjective. The noun part of the dessert is the creme. (Pardon the inconsistent accenting. I am in no müd for that.)

Okay! So we’ve established that I have some reservations (“sore meservations!”) about the theme. How about the rest of the puzzle? Well, DRAG RACES, CAL RIPKEN, BAD DREAMS, OPIUM DEN, and Alan SMITHEE are all fun. (Not together! Do not take opium, have nightmares, and then try drag racing against athletes and pseudonymous directors. It can only end badly.)

Have never encountered MERCUROUS (3d. [Full of a liquid metal]) and filled in MERCURIAL, wondering why it wasn’t clued as a non-chemistry adjective. Oh. Now I see. Partials ACE OF and A CAB intersect, and A-BOO and A TIE sit elsewhere. Never heard of 47a: ORV, [Hot Topic founder ___ Madden], but I think Hot Topic is a tween/teen girls’ clothing store. I have heard of CYCAD but wouldn’t have known to define it as 50d: [Seed plant (DC CAY anagram)]—they’re tropical trees/plants that look like palm trees.

2.75 stars.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution 10 4 11

Los Angeles Times crossword solution 10 4 11

It’s a HARRY HOUDINI [Stage name of Ehrich Weiss] tribute puzzle! Houdini died on Halloween 1926—this could’ve been an 85th-anniversary-of-death puzzle had it waited a few weeks. Could you escape the trickery?

  • 20a. [Understand how things are done] – KNOW THE ROPES
  • 36a. [Places to see links] – FRENCH CUFFS
  • 42a. [Simple floral garlands] – DAISY CHAINS

Each theme entry ends with something that Houdini might be bound by in one of his daring escapes. I like how each item isn’t referenced exactly how it would appear in one of Houdini’s acts. I didn’t like the crossing of T-BONED [Broadsided] (as in a car crash) and SABU [“Elephant boy” actor] (who?) – mostly because I couldn’t easily guess a B. Guess I’ll need to commit Sabu to memory.

Subliminal messaging!

  • There’s a little NUN RAP in the musical Sister Act (go see it!) [Taker of vows] + [Def Jam genre]
  • This sounds like a terrible dish: TOE PESTO [Place for a ring] + [Pasta topper]

BLEW IT and the popular DNA LAB strike me as the most fun non-thematic content in this grid. Other than that, it’s a standard Tuesday grid – nothing mind-blowing, but nothing offensive, either. 4 stars from me.

(And be sure to watch our own reigning champion Joon “joon pahk” Pahk tonight on Jeopardy!)

Updated Tuesday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Rearrange the Furniture” — Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution October 4

The Queen of Monday Puzzles expands her reign to Tuesdays with this anagram-based puzzle. Lynn Lempel takes five common pieces of furniture (each having two words in its name), anagrams the second word (thus “rearranging” the furniture), and clues the resulting whimsiness (if that’s not a word it should be):

  • 17-Across: The DINNER TABLE becomes the DINNER BLEAT, or a [Mealtime sound from the flock?]. Not a baa-d start, but it didn’t exactly pull the wool over my eyes.
  • 25-Across: The POLE LAMP becomes a POLE PALM, a [Tropical tree in the Arctic?]. “Pole lamp” is not a familiar term to me, but I like the post-anagram theme entry.
  • 34-Across: A RECLINING SOFA is turned into RECLINING OAFS, or [Bumblers taking a snooze?]. I’m happy to see my favorite entry featured prominently in the center.
  • 49-Across: Take a TOY CHEST and turn it into TOY TECHS, giving you [Santa’s nerdy elves?]. It took me too long to figure out the TECHS, probably because I didn’t have a toy chest growing up. I kept my toys all over the floor of my room.
  • 56-Across: One of my favorite pieces of furniture, a ROLLTOP DESK, is morphed into ROLLTOP KEDS, the [New option in sneakers?]. That’s a bad thing to happen to perfectly nice piece of furniture.

The fill is smooth, as we have come to expect from Lempel’s grids (mad props for the triple-stack of vertical 6s in both corners—there’s lots of good stuff there). But I especially enjoyed some of the clues. Having grown up very close to this body of water, [The Willamette River runs through it] was a gimme clue for OREGON, but us native Oregonians may have given thought to cities like CANBY, PORTLAND, and the crossword-friendly EUGENE. I thought [Corp. that stacks up?] was a great clue for IHOP, the International House of Pancakes. And I liked the acknowledgment of Halloween’s full name, [Allhallows __ ] EVE. Oh, and [Handy way to pass the bucks] is a clever clue for an ATM.

COATI, the [Raccoon’s cousin], was a gimme for me only because I spent a long time anguishing over using the word in a Sunday-sized grid I constructed several months ago. I found enough prior uses of the word in crosswords that I talked myself into keeping it, but I felt bad about it and had to take a long shower. At least there was a payoff today from my hours of struggle.

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17 Responses to Tuesday, 10/4/11

  1. janie says:

    a high smile-factor beauty, dan — and smooth as silk. quel debut!!

    take a bow!


  2. Howard B says:

    Nice one, Dan! Glad I stopped to solve tonight :).

  3. Josh says:

    Joon, congrats on the Jeopardy win!!

  4. Dan F says:

    Thanks, Amy and friends! Yeah, juggling clubs is the preferred term, but that wouldn’t make for much of a puzzle…

  5. Plot says:

    Excellent puzzle, Dan. I especially liked how each pin was oriented in a different way (though I admit I did not notice that until I read your blog post).

    I haven’t seen this mentioned yet, but I noticed that Mike Shenk is editing a new weekly ‘Greater New York’ crossword in the WSJ. It’s filled with lots of NYC-related clues and is probably Monday-Tuesday difficulty for locals, Tuesday-Wednesday for non New Yorkers.


  6. Evan says:

    So, I was doing some laundry earlier today when I noticed the TV in my apartment building’s atrium was playing Jeopardy! I was about to head back upstairs when I overheard Alex Trebek mentioning the New York Times crossword puzzle. I turned around and saw Joon on the screen and immediately remembered him from his avatar on this very website. Because I had to move wet laundry back and forth, I was unable to watch the entire episode….but I was pleased to see that Joon was victorious. Well done, Joon, and enjoy your winnings!

    (I also correctly guessed “What is Ft. Sumter” while watching the Final Jeopardy answer, so that gave me a smile as well.)

  7. LARRY says:

    As soon as I saw Joon on Jep’dy, I “knew” he’d win. A life wasted on crosswords has to be good for something!!

  8. john farmer says:

    Congrats to Joon on the J! win. I regret to say I missed it (hope maybe a replay is available somewhere). I will be tuning in tomorrow.

    Congrats to Dan on his venture into constructing. You make it look easy. How about juggling chainsaws on a tightrope? I’d like to see that one next.

  9. Gareth says:

    Monday and Tuesday got swapped again! Strong, original, visual theme: 5 stars. Several crummy answers you noted: 3 star fill. Avg: 4 star puzzle! Congrats on the NYT debut! (We’ve seen a LAT, before right?) [apparently not]

  10. pauer says:

    Way to go, Daniel! Glad to see this finally get printed. Better late than never!

    Here are the links to joon’s first appearance, graciously posted (and edited down) by the marvelous Nancy Shack:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xLZZ3eggA0 Part 1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ghdu5j4LP0g Part 2

  11. Evad says:

    Congrats to both Dan and joon! As I was watching the show last night, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the way joon dispatched his worthy competitors, particularly the champion who was returning after 2 very big wins. Hope his streak continues throughout the week–MUST SEE TV!

  12. Jeff Chen says:

    Congrats on the nice debut, Dan! I usually groan at circles in the grid, but really liked the visual of the clown and his pins up in the air.

    And congrats to Joon too! Very exciting!

  13. ArtLvr says:

    Very ENTERTAINED, Dan — much fun. and good going, joon… keep it up!

  14. Tuning Spork says:

    Congrats to Dan and Joon!

    I threw together a little graphic for Dan’s puzzle:


    Too bad the clown dropped that one @#$% pin.

  15. Dan F says:

    Awesome, Spork! I shared it on Facebook…

  16. Matt J. says:

    Re CMERE BRULEE: I plead the “au jus” defense. If you’re hungry enough, you won’t care if it’s a noun, verb or adjective. You just want it to jump in your mouth. :)

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