Thursday, 10/27/11

Fireball 5:35 
NYT 4:29 
LAT 6:21 (Neville) 
CS 5:30 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed 
Tausig tba

Kurt Mueller’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 27 11 1027

I am beat, so this’ll be a short review.

Theme: GHOST rebus with four symmetrically placed GHOSTs, in PALE AS A */* TOWN, GIVE UP THE */MARLEY’S *, * WRITERS/* OF A CHANCE, and HOLY */*BUSTERS. Good stuff. All united by the word HAUNTED in the center of the grid.

Tons of long ghostless fill, including these great entries: BEANIE BABY, WOODY ALLEN beside his fan ROGER EBERT, a LHASA APSO, and colloquial “YES, INDEED.”

On the down side, RADDLE = [Make by interlacing]? Haven’t ever seen that word before, and in all honesty, I know an awful lot of words. We also are stuck with variant spelling EERY, Latin HAEC, crosswordese ALB and APER and NLERS, reasonably obscure geographic names LIPARI and LOD, and incomplete WHEN IHEB., ATH., and AUT-. I’m not convinced that the theme and long fill are worth these trade-offs.

Happy pre-Halloween? The 4-star stuff and the 2-star stuff average out to 3 stars.

Peter Collins’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review (6:21)

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 10 27 11

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 10 27 11

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Peter Collins with this puzzle:

  • 20a/50a. [Pair named in a puppy-love rhyme that ends with the circled letters] – GRADE SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS
  • 39a/41a. [More of the rhyme] – SITTING IN A TREE
  • Circled Squares: K-I-S-S-I-N-G

I know that doesn’t look like much, but remember that there are linked entries.

When you read the answers in that order, it reads right nicely in the meter of the original poem, but it loses the flavor a little with the jumping around. Having K-I-S-S-I-N-G explicitly spelled out and not a single entry was a nice touch. But I do believe the end of this rhyme speaks of a baby carriage – kissing is just a means to that end. Well, part of a means, at least.

“THAT SMARTS!” is a great long entry, but INTERTWINE isn’t as cool. Only now looking back do I realize that PCPS means Primary Care Providers, which didn’t seem obvious to me ([General MDs, to insurers]). And PONIES are [Assateague denizens] – Assateague being an island just off Maryland/Virginia known for its wild horses. Not sure how I feel about CHICHI – it’s a little too chichi for me (61a. [Oh-so-stylish]). And that’s TEN G in the lower right, not “teng” ([1% of a cool mil]).

Can someone explain READ IN as an answer for [Transfer to memory, as data] to me? I thought you wrote things to to memory. Color me confused by this entry.

Lowlights included ELIE, LAI, INT., TOR, AAR and the dreaded ALER. 3.7 from me.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 45”

Fireball 2(37) solution

Good grid design, with space for two or three 10s in each corner plus intersecting 15s in the middle.

Never heard of FIREBALLER, which is a baseball term for a  pitching hotshot. All I could think of for [Club ace] was tennis pros and golf pros. Is baseball over yet for the year? No, not yet? Sigh. (But cute 1-Across for Fireball Crosswords!)

Am torn on the promotion of crosswordese pieces ORONO, PERLE, and MESTA being promoted to marquee status in ORONO, MAINE and PERLE MESTA. I think I’m coming down on the side of “meh.”

Didn’t know those “The Girl Who…” thrillers were called the “Millennium” series, but I’ve read enough Entertainment Weekly coverage of the books and movie adaptations to know how to spell LISBETH SALANDER. That name needs to be in a cryptic with a motherless salamander in the clue.

Bright lights: Gaga’s BAD ROMANCE, still-relevant STAYCATION, goofball PARROTHEAD, and Hermione portrayer EMMA WATSON.

3.918 stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ear-Splitting” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, October 27

Patrick Jordan splits an EAR four times by cramming a bunch of letters between either the E and the A or the A and the R. In better words, each of the four theme entries either starts with E and ends with AR or starts with EA and ends with R:

  • 17-Across: The [Bright planet appearing around sunset] is the EVENING STAR. For some reason this confused me for a while, as I thought I had to come up with the name of a planet, and eleven letters just seemed impossibly long. Not the first time my interpretation of the clue has led me astray.
  • 56-Across: On the other hand, I had no problems at all with EAGER BEAVER, the  [Overly diligent sort]. But is an eager beaver overly diligent? As an alumnus of Oregon State University, I’d like to think an eager Beaver has just the right amount of diligence.
  • 11-Down: A [Station wagon, in Suffolk], is an ESTATE CAR. Older station wagons were certainly large enough to merit the name “estate.”
  • 34-Down: The [Furnishing in many a den] is an EASY CHAIR.

Kevin McCann’s website calls this a “bookends” theme, and it’s a good illustration of the gimmick. Aspiring constructors, note that half of the theme entries split the EAR between the vowels and half the entries split between the A and the R. Three of one and one of another would be a jarring inconsistency; two of each creates a sense of balance (especially important when working with ears).

The puzzle also illustrates the “pinwheel” placement of theme entries (two Across, two Down) that used to be much more common. Today’s crosswords tend to put all of the theme entries into the Across slots unless there’s a good reason to have them in the Downs. I kinda miss the pinwheel placement myself, but I get that it’s easier for solvers to see (and appreciate?) a theme when they’re all laid out in the easier-to-read Across position.

A companion puzzle could be titled “Inner Ear,” featuring phrases where an EAR is hidden near the middle (LOUNGE AROUND, FALSE ARREST, LANGUAGE ARTS, SURFACE AREA). Look for it soon (assuming it hasn’t been done already!).

Oh, hey, we can’t end with giving props to the nice assortment of rare letters and the neat fill they facilitate: ELIXIR, I QUIT, SQUARE UP, and JUDE LAW are highlights, as are the animated films TOY STORY and CORALINE. My only beef is with [Paltry poker pair] as the clue for TWOS. Nice use of alliteration, but “twos” in poker are almost always called DEUCES or, for those in the know, DUCKS. Don’t ask how I know that.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Leading From Behind”—Matt Gaffney’s review

BEQ 379 answers

In today’s puzzle, “Leading From Behind,” Brendan gives us six famous people whose last names imply leadership:

  • 16a. KERRY KING
  • 18a. JACK LORD
  • 24a. HUGO BOSS
  • 49a. JOHN DEAN
  • 63a. EDITH HEAD

Six observations:

  1. This is, once again, a 15×14 grid. Come on, Brendan — give me a 15×15!
  2. I don’t know my time since Across Lite appears to not have a timer anymore when I open it. You guys, too? Anyway, I’m sure I beat Amy handily as usual though we’ll never know for certain.
  3. NW and SW corners are nice: NSYNCARKINYMCA and ENRON in the former, JULIAON/OFFIF SO and A FEW in the latter.
  4. 54d clue: too soon?
  5. With the smaller grid and six theme entries, we’ve got extremely short fill: nothing longer than six letters, and just four of those. Lively fill from BEQ considering that he doesn’t get his usual three-point shots in (LBJREIKILINDTGINSUORAL-B).
  6. 24d: nice clue.

Thanks for the puzzle, BEQ, and have a boss Thursday, everyone!

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16 Responses to Thursday, 10/27/11

  1. Neville says:

    NYT: LIPARI crossing R.U.R.? That’s nonsense. Nonsense! The play is Czech and an acronym! Fortunately the rest was a breeze, but that was a blind guess. :(

  2. Dave G. says:

    The theme in todays NYT was a huge aid in completing the puzzle. I was able to fill each GHOST answer without any crossings. I found the clues for the theme a little too easy for a Thursday.

    As for READ IN, I can have my program open a file and read the contents into memory. Unfortunately, it is also correct to write data into memory in the context of moving data from one place in memory to another.

  3. Gareth says:

    NYT: In my world a RADDLE is used to mark sheep… Appreciated the long non-theme fill and the clue “Cash in one’s chips” – wasn’t expecting it to go there! There is uffle short fill: AUT and EERY really stink IMO. On finishing, had to find and change cNn to TNT…

  4. Martin says:

    Gareth’s raddle is the cooler word by far. Not related etymologically to the interleaving verb, his “raddle” comes from “red,” since it was originally red ocher that was used to mark sheep.

    Why mark sheep? There are lots of reasons. You might want to indicate which ones have been innoculated already, or which ones are selected for market. There’s even a self-raddling harness that you strap on a ram. It leaves a record of his “ewe-hauls.”

  5. Gareth says:

    Just had my final sheep oral now. They didn’t ask about raddles, though they did ask some people. Our prof nicknamed the one product elephant lipstick. It comes in a glue stick and paints broad red lines on your animals.

  6. Pete says:

    @Martin – So, that raddling harness is tupperware?

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    I didn’t know LISBETH SALANDER in the Fireball and I wound up with BISTETH SALANDER and FIREBOMBER at 1-a. And OMAHA and HIT instead of AMANA and NIB. I thought the Latin title was a Matin, which I think is a kind of prayer.

  8. John Haber says:

    I thought the combination of a good theme and decent long fills excuses a lot. It also went fast for a Thursday for me, perhaps because I could fill in WOODY ALLEN right away and work from there. What slowed me a bit was looking too hard for another rebus entry in the center instead of HAUNTED.

    The only thing that had me wondering if it could be right was LIPARI. But not because RUR was too obscure, as it’s crosswordese enough to have been a gimme. I’m happy to learn a word like RADDLE, indeed a lot happier than to learn most days another TV character or athlete. I’d have sworn that Altoids are mints while CERTS are antacids, but what do I know.

  9. mitchs says:

    Thanks Matt, I don’t feel so bad now about my abject failure in the NE of the Fireball. “Fireballer” checks out all right, but this 57 year old baseball semi-fan can’t remember hearing it – ever. Flamethrower, yes.

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I loved Mike Shenk’s Post Puzzler # 81 from this past Sunday. 5 stars all the way.

    But why is {Red Stripe} a clue for “Eleven”?

    Probably one of those questions I’ll regret asking. I like Red Stripe beer, but not 11 at a time.


  11. C says:

    LAT: @Neville, READIN to memory is valid to describe the process of taken something that is already written (e.g. to disk) and storing a copy in memory, i.e. you read the disk info into memory. Much faster to work with in memory data than data on a disk.

  12. Tuning Spork says:

    Bruce, the 11 ball in pool has the red stripe.

    Ditto on Red Stripe beer.

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Oh Geez. I knew that. I knew I’d regret the question.


  14. Martin says:


    Purists would say that only Venus can be the Evening Star or Morning Star. Because it’s closer to the sun than we are, it can never be seen more than a few hours before sunrise or after sunset. The other bright planets (Mars, Saturn and, especially, Jupiter) can rise and set at any time since their orbits are outside ours. (The other “inferior” planet, Mercury, is so close to the sun from our vantage that you need a very clear horizon and a lot of luck to see it. It’s another Morning or Evening Star, but one that few people ever notice.)

    These days, Jupiter is visible after sunset and is very bright, but because it stays visible into the night, it makes little sense to call it “Evening Star.” “Venus” in the clue would have avoided your confusion, which may be why it wasn’t used.

  15. Martin says:

    Re: BEQ,

    Ginsu is so not “from Japan.”

    Quality Japanese cutlery, made with the same techniques as samurai swords, is so far superior to any other knives that calling them “the best in the world” is actually insulting. They can’t be compared with anything else in the world.

    I was at a sushi bar recently and struck up a conversation with the itamae about knives (my wife wanted to move a couple of seats away from me). Apparently I didn’t embarrass myself (just Elaine) because he went into the back and brought out the most incredible sushi knife I have every seen. The pattern created by the folding of the steel during forging was like beautifully figured wood grain. The handle was ebony, with matching figurations. The fittings were all engraved sterling. The cloth bag that wrapped it was a silken artwork and the wooden case was a masterwork of joinery.

    He said his wife let him spend the $7,000 on the knife only if he promised to not talk of buying a BMW anymore. He knew that I would know that he had stolen the knife at that price.

    That steel, by the way, is incidentally beautiful. The repetitive folding, hammering and reheating that gives the metal the makeup of puff pastry is the secret to a blade that is strong yet sharper than any razor. It takes days, working the steel with a heavy hammer in 120+ degrees, for each blade. A great samurai blade could cleave three men in a single blow. They were traditionally tested on prisoners before being accepted from the swordsmith.

    A good Japanese kitchen knive is made the same way. In addition to being strong, it is sharp enough to shave a giant daikon raddish into a single yards-long paper-thin sheet. (This is the first step in making the shredded radish that accompanies sashimi.) Demonstrating this katsura-muki technique is part of the advancement to handling fish after years of vegetable-only assignments for the apprentice chef. No western knife would be adequate.

    Ginsus are crappy stamped steel, made in Ohio, I think.

  16. Shteyman says:

    Haven’t seen AUT in 12+ years, hope it will stay aut for another 12. Good puzzle otherwise with nice long answers.

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