Friday, 10/7/11

NYT untimed 
LAT 4:42 
CS 5:41 (Sam) 
CHE 5:58 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 7:45 

Shoot! I wasted my time blogging the puzzle that was in the applet, only to find out that it was supposed to have been replaced at the last minute with another puzzle. Hang on. Let me blog the Across Lite version of the puzzle that will apparently run in the New York Times tomorrow.

Kevin Der’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 10 7 11 1007

So it’s a STEVE JOBS tribute puzzle that was rushed into print. I love Apple products and think Jobs was the bee’s knees, but I’m still peeved that (a) a tribute puzzle is bumping a themeless, (b) it was all done too fast for the applet to receive the new puzzle, and (c) I wasted my stinkin’ time blogging the wrong puzzle. So I approached this puzzle in a foul mood. Then the Across Lite timer didn’t start either, so I can’t even tell you “Huh, this really should have just run next Monday/Wednesday/whenever.” I suspect it took a Wednesday/Thursday amount of time, but who knows?

The theme clues tend to be a little vague, but anyone who’s read a couple articles about Steve Jobs’ career in the last 27 hours should have been able to get IPOD, PIXAR, MACINTOSH, THINK DIFFERENT, CREATIVE GENIUS, APPLE, and NEXT. I would have liked to see the iPad or iPhone instead of the iPod, as I think their long-term impact will outweigh that of the iPod. And iTunes! Also key. But leaving LISA out is just fine, and nobody needs an answer like IIE in a crossword, ever.

And yes, the central answer nails my response: SNITS, [Huffs]? I am in them.

Never heard of 59d: JON Nakamatsu, and when it comes to Ulan-UDE, one always wishes the constructor had thought different. But with eight theme answers in the grid and a P*F** space to fill, 25a didn’t have much choice about starting with a U.

I’m feeling like a chump for solving and blogging the wrong puzzle. Grr. Sorry, Kevin. I wish your puzzle had just bided its time for a couple days so it would get a proper welcome. It’s not as if everyone was going to forget about Steve Jobs—I bet many newspapers will devote space in their Sunday issues to talking about his legacy.

Pete Muller’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 10 7 11

Speed-blogging begins…now!

Theme: G-FORCE (64a. [It’s zero in free-fall—and, put another way, a hint to how the four longest puzzle answers were formed]) is parsed as “G for CE,” and the theme entries are made by replacing CE with G.

  • 20a. [Boast à la Donald Trump?] = BRAG FOR IMPACT.
  • 26a. [“Our overly fussy friend has a point”?] = THE PRIG IS RIGHT. I like that.
  • 43a. Joplin piece about modern weaponry?] = NUCLEAR ARMS RAG. Anachronistic impossibility!
  • 50a. Delay from an 18th-century English ruler?] = QUEEN ANNE’S LAG.

72-word grid includes some nice longer stuff, such as MAJESTIC, TRANS AM, and TERI GARR. SQUAT meaning “nothing,” FIJI, and literary BECKET are good too. Downsides include ENNA OLA ATMO ATIE AEC.

3.75 stars.

Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Capital Restructuring”

WSJ crossword answers, 10 7 11 "Capital Restructuring"

Speed-blogging, part 2!

Theme: State capitals are anagrammed into oddball things and clued accordingly. A plus: all the theme answers are nouns.

  • 23a. [MONTPELIER erects a shrine to Vulcan] = IRON TEMPLE.
  • 25a. [MONTGOMERY celebrates a single scene from a slasher film] = GORY MOMENT.
  • 44a. [BATON ROUGE prepares an unusual pork cut] = BOAR TONGUE.
  • 59a. [INDIANAPOLIS manufactures parquet-style instruments] = INLAID PIANOS.
  • 69a. [OKLAHOMA CITY suffers a disaster in a fishing contest] = HOOK CALAMITY.
  • 81a. [CARSON CITY produces boxes for shipping frozen goods] = ICY CARTONS.
  • 103a. [LITTLE ROCK offers a bundle for raffle organizers] = TICKET ROLL.
  • 107a. [CHARLESTON honors a graduate of an online college] = NET SCHOLAR.

I enjoyed the anagram action. Good fill overall. One mystery answer for me: 79d. [“Rigoletto” aria] is CARO NOME. That means “dearest name.”

Four stars.

Patrick Berry’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “A Capital Meal” — pannonica’s review

CHE crossword 10/7/11 "A Capital Meal" Berry answers

Extremely straightforward theme in this laterally symmetrical puzzle. Comestibles whose names begin with world capitals, loosely described as parts of a meal:

  • 18a. [Vegetable course in a capital meal?] LIMA BEANS (Peru).
  • 26a. [Second vegetable course in a capital meal?] BRUSSELS SPROUTS (Belgium).
  • 49a. [Meat course in a capital meal?] VIENNA SAUSAGE (Austria).
  • 53a. [Spice used to flavor a capital meal?] CAYENNE PEPPER (French Guiana).

I’m assuming the constraints of theme necessitated the unusual symmetry; there just aren’t that many items that fit the bill. I drew up a short list of ‘capitalized’ dishes. Both BEEF WELLINGTON (14) and CHICKEN KIEV (11) are no good because the city follows the food. JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE (18) is too long; besides, there are already two vegetable ‘courses’ in the puzzle. A MOSCOW MULE (10) is a drink, not really a part of the meal for most (although I prefer to have a cocktail course). ROME APPLES (10) and MUSCAT GRAPES (12) might be considered desserts, but neither of their letter lengths don’t work with LIMA BEANS (9), the one themer that prevents a rotationally symmetrical grid.

So, only four theme entries, one an impressive 15-letter spanner, one a paltry nine letters, and a gorgeous stack of two 13-letter fills. Three ‘courses’ and one condiment. It all makes for a vertiginous solving experience, but one far from nauseating.


  • Some nice medium-length fill in the ballast, including PRESS BOX, OBELISK, the interesting RYKRISP and [“Law & Order detective Lennie __ ] BRISCOE (not to be confused with film protagonist Donnie BRASCO or the FRISCO Kid).
  • French! Phrases TROMPE l’oeil and C’est AUTRE chose, not to mention Denis DIDEROT (whose birthday is 5 October).
  • Winner for most crosswordesesque entry is ERIS [Ancient Olympic Games site].
  • My least favorite aspect of the puzzle was the pyramid of ugly little three-letter fill FEB, ABE | ORK, LID | XER smack dab in the center, all the more glaring for its location. In very few instances is something at the center of a composition the least noticeable part.

Updated Friday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “I C You” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution October 7

C D six theme entries in this crossword? “M N O theme entries,” you say.  “O S A R,” I reply. Indeed, today’s crossword has six two-word expressions with the initials I.C.:

  • 17-Across: The IVORY COAST is the [Mali neighbor]. I’m 99.44% sure there’s a joke there somewhere, but I can’t find it.
  • 28-Across: IRON CHEF is the [Japanese cooking show] where competing chefs have one hour to make multiple dishes featuring a secret ingredient revealed immediately before the clock starts.
  • 43-Across: Speaking of secret ingredients, I’d like to be one of the judges when ICE CREAM, the [Frozen treat], is the secret ingredient. Knowing my luck, I’d be on the panel when the secret ingredient was something gross, like olives or cauliflower. Blecch.
  • 57-Across: INDIAN CLUB is a new term to my vocabulary. I have seen this [Juggling item] before, but I would have called it “bowling pin.”
  • 10-Down: The INNER CIRCLE is one name for a group of [Close advisors]. It’s also the name of an episode of “The Office” late last season (when Will Ferrell assumed the managerial helm from Steve Carell).  Check it out.
  • 25-Down: IRISH COFFEE is the [Whiskey-enhanced drink]. So is JACK AND COKE, though that’s not entirely consistent with the theme.

A puzzle with eight of these would be most impressive, right Dan Feyer?

I like how four theme entries cross at the “C” that starts the second word, and it’s impressive that 58 squares are devoted to theme entries (usually the theme entries consume around 40–45 squares). Usually, heavy “themeage” portends some seriously compromised fill, but happily such was not the case here. (Okay, SHOAT and TOR are a little Crosswordese-ey, but they’re used toward a good end.) Indeed, some rare letters are sprinkled throughout the grid to add an extra kick. The BRONX cheer, AXONS, and ST. KITTS are all pretty cool. Though it contains no rare letters, I also liked SCRAT, the [Prehistoric squirrel in “Ice Age”].

I like that the TOYOTAS were kept far away from the traffic PILE-UPS, and thoughts of the cruise ship BUFFET are making me hungry. My favorite clue was [Baby bird?] for STORK, with an honorable mention to [Turned off], since it fooled me into thinking of synonyms for “repulsed” instead of simply UNLIT.

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22 Responses to Friday, 10/7/11

  1. AV says:

    Something’s wrong – I just came here to comment on Kevin G. Der’s puzzle and pay homage to a great visionary!

  2. Ellen R. says:

    Last-minute replacement apparently didn’t get to the Java applet. Hold Amy’s thought until next week or so. :0

  3. AV says:

    So we need a new blogpost Amy! :-)

    edited to add:

    In case Amy’s retired for the night, here goes my feeble attempt at blogging:

    The nerve! He is so fast, we can’t keep up with him (Kevin, not Steve).

    I really did think differently about making a creative puzzle about the genius, had all my theme entries laid out ipad-imac-pixar-apple-macintosh-stevejobs-itunes-icloud-thinkdifferent-walterisaacson, and many others, trying to figure out which ones would make the grid.

    Decided to take a break to solve the Friday puzzle, only to find I have been snookered! Like I said, these youngsters, too fast for us old fogies!

    So, great puzzle, 4 stars, nah, make that 5 stars (1 star for the speed or the prescience or the preparation).

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it.

    So much for having time to get to the LAT or the WSJ tonight. And I have plans in the morning, so those will just have to wait. Grr!

  5. ktd says:

    As of 10:15 pm Central Time the NYT applet has a Patrick Berry puzzle

  6. Nice Patrick Berry puzzle in the applet. I dunno, I find it amazing the amount of facebook posting lamenting Jobs’ passing. Being the owner of exactly zero of Jobs’ products, I found it a little out of the ordinary. Smart guy, sure, but a special NYT tribute puzzle that bumps a Berry themeless? Nothing wrong with Kevin’s puzzle, but it would have been just fine next Wednesday.

  7. Sam Donaldson says:

    My solving time for the Jobs tribute puzzle was right at my Wednesday level. Agreed that this could have run next week, but I do admire the speedy turnaround time, and Kevin’s grid did not at all look like it was prepared so quickly. It has an impressive amount of theme density, I think.

    And I now know there’s a Patrick Berry freestyle in the near future…yum!

  8. Aaron says:

    Yeah, Wednesday/Thursday sounds about right. Bummer to see this on a Friday, since I’ve been recording all my times each day, and this one’s going to make it look like I made some serious improvements on my Friday average.

  9. Travis says:

    I really doubt this was really put together in a day. Which means someone thought ‘Hey, here’s a famous person who is really sick and will probably die in the next year. Let’s do a tribute puzzle so we can run it as soon as he dies!” If so, that strikes me as very morbid and in poor taste.

  10. Lee Glickstein says:

    Steve Jobs died and preempted my themeless fun. I know he was a famous man but what did he ever do for me?


    Someone can put an elegant one like this together in a few hours. I don’t like to think puzzles are stockpiled like obits. We’d have to have guessing games about who might have tributes in the can.

  11. JoelF says:


    To create, clue, fact-check, and type-set a puzzle in one day is just amazing. My hat’s off to Kevin and Will. As much as I love a Patrick Berry friday, the constructing and editing skill put into this one just blows me away.

  12. Carol says:

    As a change of subject, I’d like to congratulate Joon on his progress on Jeopardy!! Way to go!!

  13. Evad says:

    Yes, I’m curious joon why you wagered what you did in Final Jeopardy. From what I remember, if the second place finisher wagered zero, she would’ve won, even with her incorrect answer. Glad things worked out for you and hope to see you retire tonight as a 5-time champion!

  14. Gareth says:

    4 23/60 puts it at Tuesday for me, or my fastest Friday ever by nearly 50%, though it feels like cheating to count it! Yup it’s a tribute puzzle, and it paid tribute. Fast constructing! Wish the surrounding clues were toughened up A LOT though!

    Oh wait, I found the Friday NYT difficulty puzzle, it’s here in the LAT! Clever theme revealer! Proper names were far from my knowledge base, I’d met many in previous crosswords put couldn’t recall ’em, plus of other tricksy clues!

  15. Aaron says:

    If I remember last night’s thriller of an episode correctly, Joon (unsure of the category, perhaps?) wagered an amount such that, if he got it wrong, he’d still come out ahead of a fully doubled-up third place. Still, I’d agree that if you’re going to rely on first place getting the question wrong, you might as well wager nothing. In any case, EXCITING!

  16. ArtLvr says:

    Amazing feat by Kevin and many thanks to Will and the team for getting the Steve Jobs salute puzzle out today! Beautiful job, all… definitely worth bumping a Berry for now.

    In the LAT, I loved the GFORCE when Gravity didn’t fit and thought the theme phrases were a hoot. My last fix was FIJI for Fuji (mountain water?) since the cross at SL_T was a no-no!

    Missed joon last night — glad to hear he’s still in the game!

  17. Martin says:

    It’s pretty amazing that the entire Times staff managed a last-minute, stop-the-presses, swap of the printed content. My newspaper, printed in Walnut Creek, California and delivered by actual human to my driveway high above Silicon Valley, had the tribute puzzle because of high-speed computer networks and distributed production techniques that Steve Jobs helped make real.

    Part of that distributed production is the guy in the Netherlands who developed and maintains the applet. Think about that! When I was in college it would have been science fiction that a blogger in Chicago does the New York Times crossword every day using a computer version maintained in real time in Europe. And what’s a blogger?

    And that people get annoyed when a substitution, made mostly successfully about 12 hours before my hard copy of the Times appeared on my driveway in California, didn’t get to the guy in the Netherlands in time.

    Steve should be very happy.

  18. John Haber says:

    I do realize that in journalism timely means “now!!!!” Still, for those who actually read the paper, I suspect it would have seemed a perfectly nice tribute next Wednesday.

    There was maybe some iffy fill, such as UDE and maybe the two songs at top, of which ADIA is already crosswordese. Indeed, as a close follower of art, I can’t tell you how much ERTE’s place in art history is the crossword puzzle. Still, give the sheer number of theme entries, it’s entirely defensible, especially as such a clever rush job.

    IPOD definitely doesn’t bother me, Amy, and I realized I had to wait for a crossing to fill in the vowel. For that matter, it may even be more appropriate than iPad, if you take a look at the company’s sales chart in the Times today and if you consider its dominance as opposed to the huge challenge to the iPhone from Android-driven competitors. Without the iPod, in fact, there’s a strong case to be made that, even with Jobs’s return just in time to the company, it’d be out of business today. But that’s all business news, which I realize is boring!

  19. Harry says:

    Just a technical point on the Pete Muller LAT puzzle. A better theme clue would have been “It’s zero in outer space,” since a free-fall in our atmosphere is subject to a 1-g force acceleration, until you reach terminal velocity, where the coefficient of gravity equals the coefficient of drag.

  20. Martin says:


    As long as you’re being technical, “free fall” properly refers to a body acted on only by gravity. When we talk about a skydiver experiencing “free fall,” it’s not what a physicist would call it. Admitedly the term is commonly used this way, but a technical nit based on a non-technical misuse of a technical term seems self-canceling.

  21. Bit says:

    LONDON BROIL (11) might have worked in a different grid for the entree of the “Capital meal”; I was actually expecting it instead of Vienna sausage, until I saw there were no 11’s…

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