Tuesday, 10/11/11

Jonesin' 4:01 
NYT 2:46 
LAT 4:49 (Neville) 
CS 6:18 (Sam) 

Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 11 11 1011

This is another of those “theme answers could all clue the same word” themes, with everything tying to [Tumblers]: LOCK DEVICES, CIRCUS ACROBATS, WHISKEY GLASSES, and JACK AND JILL. Meh. The theme doesn’t do much for me. Yes, it’s interesting that tumblers are gymnasts, lock mechanisms, drinking glasses, and (clumsily) people who take a tumble (but who would rarely be called “tumblers”). It’s just rough to encounter a weird, boring phrase like LOCK DEVICES in a crossword.

The ol’ Scowl-o-Meter coughed into action with 14a: OBEYER and crosswordese 2d: ABOU. I have no idea what a KEY CASE is and would’ve thought that it would keep the keys from being jingly. “Hang on a sec here, I gotta just pull out my KEY CASE so I can work on those LOCK DEVICES.” Three plural sports abbreviations (RBS, DHS, TDS), join other abbrevs (AIG, OED, UCLA, SYS), foreign words (ECCE, ALPE), a Roman numeral (DCC), and a partial (I LIE) to alienate me.


2.75 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Change of Address”

Jonesin' crossword answers, 10 13 11 "Change of Address"

Really neat theme this week. Matt takes a city/state abbreviation combo and inserts a letter to turn the state into a new 3-letter entity. For a nice touch, the added letters are all vowels, always inserted before the state abbrev, and each is used once:

  • 18a. [Actress Thurman, after joining the “More Than a Feeling” band?] = BOSTON UMA.
  • 20a. [Abe, after being demoted to the dollar bill?] = LINCOLN ONE.
  • 34a. [Divine guidance from an “Entourage” agent?] = PROVIDENCE ARI.
  • 50a. [Explorer Walter’s new company?] = RALEIGH INC.
  • 53a. [Bonham Carter’s personal ambulance staff?] = HELENA EMT.

Now, five theme entries that are partly stacked together (as in the first 4 letters of 18a parked above the last 4 of 20a) might quash a constructor’s ability to fill the grid with good stuff, but Matt managed to bar the crap and include such goodies as ROAD RAGE, GREW INTO, MR. MIYAGI, BACARDI (which sort of echoes the Spanish of JAVIER Bardem), and “GRAB HIM!” FMS and EES are pretty junky, but nothing was triggering the Scowl-o-Meter while I was solving.

If you were a fan of 51d: AEON [“___ Flux” (MTV cartoon)] and the other MTV “Liquid Television” animated shorts are now online! We’re gonna watch the Celebrity Deathmatch with Beavis and Butthead later.

My rating? See 11d.

Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution 10 11 11

Los Angeles Times crossword solution 10 11 11

Another Don and C.C. puzzle! I feel like I get more puzzles by them than any other constructor (or constructor pair), and I’m happy to! Let’s take a moment to stop, look and listen to what’s in store today:

  • 17a. [Visit the local watering hole] – STOP IN FOR A DRINK
  • 38a. [“Let’s try a different approach”] –LOOK AT IT THIS WAY”
  • 59a. [“Pay attention”] – “LISTEN CAREFULLY”

And coming down the center:

  • 62a. [What one does after observing the reminders that start 17-, 38- and 59-Across] – CROSSES THE TRACK

I like that this unifying entry CROSSES the other theme entries, and I’m also a fan of all three of the horizontal entries. However, I expected STREET or ROAD instead of TRACK. Is this supposed to be a railroad safety bit instead? In general: look both ways! Also, it would be cool if there were a “this is something you say” clue for 17a, just like for 38a and 59a, but that’s not a big issue.

  • 41a. [Ship with rich cargo] – ARGOSY. I’ve not heard this word before! I guess a Tuesday crossword can teach you new vocabulary.
  • 67a. [It may follow You online] – TUBE. You know, YouTube. It’s kind of cute. And if you’ve not been watching Joon Pahk on Jeopardy!, you can catch up on YouTube. Do it.
  • 6d. [Belgium-based imaging company] – AGFA. This was a get-it-across entry for me., and I was not at all sure that this was right.
  • 8d. [Parade honorees] – HEROES. I still have Columbus Day on my mind, and though I didn’t go to a Columbus Day parade, I wanted this clue to reference him. US mail service resumes today.
  • 11d. [Successfully stage a coup] – SEIZE POWER. By and far my favorite non-theme entry in this puzzle.
  • 31d. [Teens conflict: Abbr.] – WWI (that’s World War I). Did you think this was going to be something like teenage girl catfights?  I did.

Despite a little trepidation, I like this puzzle. 4/5.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Location, Location, Location” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, October 11

I’ve seen this theme (or close variations of it, anyway) at least twice before, but I still like it a lot.  Ross takes three common three-word expressions that start with a word meaning “midmost” (thank you, Roget) and have OF as the second word, but then clues the expression with reference to the midmost letters in the third word.  That’s clear as mud, right?  As always, the theme entries will do a better job of explaining the theme:

  • 17-Across: [H] is, quite literally the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, as “H” is the central letter in NOWHERE.
  • 39-Across: [V] is not just a bad sci-fi TV show that stayed on the air much longer than it ever should have, it’s also the CENTER OF GRAVITY (a “V” appears in the very middle of GRAVITY).
  • 62-Across: [KN] is the HEART OF DARKNESS (since DARKNESS has eight letters, the exact middle consists of two letters, not one).

Highlights in the fill include the END CUT of prime rib, The Chicago TRIBUNE, former Solidarity leader Lech WALESA, POSEURS, THE FEDS, and BAC~OS, the [Salad toppings].  A quick Google search on Bac~Os leads to a link that asks the simple question, “Is there bacon in Bac~Os?”  Well, the nutrition label for Bac~Os Bits, available here, says the ingredients are defatted soy flour (yum!), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, “natural and artificial flavor” (are there other kinds?), sugar, caramel color and Red 40.  Oh, and some tocopherol as a preservative.  Hmm.  Perhaps BAC~OS isn’t such a highlight after all.

I’m on the record as being all for partials, but CAT IN the Hat pushes even my tolerance.  It is reminiscent of the great clue for MOOD down at 67-Across: [It may swing from good to bad].  I also liked [It’s heard at the conclusion of May] for the LONG A sound.

Anyone else think of FRAN as [Ollie’s partner] before getting STAN?  I guess that shows what I grew up watching on TV, huh?

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14 Responses to Tuesday, 10/11/11

  1. Jim Horne says:

    There seems to be a problem with the NYT Across Lite file. You can get the Tuesday puzzle from this link: http://www.xwordinfo.com/special/Oct1111.puz

  2. Gareth says:

    NYT: Liked the JACKANDJILL answer. I wonder if the curious theme entry spacing lessened or abetted the junk in the fill?

    LAT: Despite crossing several train tracks in my time, I was never given this advice… I suspect this a personal thing though. I do like that we get three great phrases into the bargain. My second DG/CCB that proved the longest time of the year for its weekday in a row; can’t point anything out as to why except forgetting the word ARGOSY, gAbs for JAWS and BYPAth.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Operation:Lifesaver is a rail safety organization that put out the message “Stop, Look and Listen”.

  4. Mark M says:

    Railroad crossing signage typically advised motorists to “STOP, LOOK, LISTEN” before crossing. Puzzlers must have lived on the other side of the tracks.

    Joon is awesome. Watch him again tonight.

  5. pannonica says:

    re: LAT. Minor but significant movie misquote, akin to Bogart supposedly saying, “Play it again, Sam.” In Cool Hand Luke, Strother Martin says, attempting to regain his composure, “What we’ve got here is … Failure to Communicate.” There is no “a” spoken. Doesn’t affect the fill, WE’VE. (45a)

  6. Anoa Bob says:

    There were several of these pithy safety procedure sayings from yesteryear. The LAT uses one: What do you do before you cross the street? STOP, LOOK and LISTEN. Another was What do you do if your clothes catch on fire? Stop, Drop and Roll. And then along came the parody What do you do in case of nuclear attack? Bend over, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.

    Liked PLASM, ARGOSY and JASMINE. Would have preferred the plural at the end of CROSSES THE TRACK, but with only 32 black squares and a 15-letter reveal crossing three 15-letter theme entries, who can complain?

    Wicca or, here, WICCAN is showing up a lot lately. I suppose I should google and find out what it is.

    I don’t think barbiturates have been used to SEDATE (25A) since the late 60’s. They are still used, but for something way more permanent than sedation.

  7. Jeff Chen says:

    I just watched Cool Hand Luke this weekend! The quote is said both ways – Paul Newman says it with the “a” at the very end of the movie at the church window just before getting shot.

  8. Gareth says:

    Anoa, barbiturates are still used as sedatives in animals here in South Africa, though their more typical uses would be general anaesthesia, seizure control and euthanasia.

  9. Sam Donaldson says:

    Geez, Jeff, where’s the spoiler alert? :) I suppose now you’ll tell me Rosebud is a sled.

  10. Jeff Chen says:

    That’s not the way I remember Citizen Kane – Rosebud is his stuffed animal Bobo. Oh wait…

    BTW, Harry Potter lives.

  11. HH says:

    No, Rosebud is Ritchie Petrie’s middle name.

  12. *David* says:

    You guys are all really old, Rosebud is the Secret Service code name for Sasha Obama.

  13. pannonica says:

    Rosebud is the butler.

    Jeff Chen: I had forgotten about that reiteration, but feel the Strother Martin scene is the more memorable and iconic scene, even if the other constitutes the climax.

  14. klewge says:

    There was a great Cool Hand Luke parody in the early days of SNL in which Bill Murray plays a youth trying to escape from French language camp thereby making the tag line “What we have here is (a) failure to communicate bilingually”

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