Wednesday, 11/2/11

Onion 4:27 
LAT 3:38 
NYT 3:22 
CS 6:06 (Sam) 

Barry Franklin and Sara Kaplan’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 11 2 11 1102

Hey, look! It’s friends of the blog Karma Sartre and Sara, making their joint debut in the New York Times. Congratulations to you both.

I felt a little slow because I didn’t understand the theme at first, but then it dawned on me. 37a: SPLIT INFINITIVE is used to clue four other answers, each of which is an infinitive that means “to split.” You’ve got the Kardashianesque TO DIVORCE, your split-town TO PULL UP STAKES, your split-it-halfway GO FIFTY/FIFTY, and your split-…I don’t know what both splits and shatters… TO SHATTER.

Now, 37a is clued as a [Grammatical infelicity], but really, it isn’t. The real grammar experts will assure you that it’s kosher to split an infinitive in English.

Lively fill includes the RIGATONI ALLIGATOR and the SHARKSKIN TRIFECTA. Aren’t those great? The rest of the fill is fairly ordinary, with some of the yuckier 3s (SIL, ERI, INF) inapparent to me while solving because their crossings were easy enough that I never even saw those clues. I did see the clue for OOOH, though, and I don’t like it when answers add extra vowels to length a sound.

3.75 stars.
Updated Wednesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Such a Tease” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword Solution, November 2

Our theme features five two-word entries where the first word can also be a synonym for “tease.” No, seriously. I’m not pulling your leg. See for yourself:

  • 17-Across: A KID BROTHER is a [Younger sibling] that my brother and sister both had but which I did not.
  • 35-Across: The [Soft toy] is a RAG DOLL. R-A-G-G, D-O-L-L. Rag doll! Click here if that means nothing to you.
  • 54-Across: The [“No Country for Old Men” actor] is JOSH BROLIN. I’m given to understand that he won this role by the flip of a coin.
  • 11-Down: Something that is RIB-TICKLING is [Very amusing], though I think actually tickling an exposed rib would cause more discomfort than joy, both to the tickler and the ticklee.
  • 24-Down: I didn’t know that the guy who would RIDE SHOTGUN was the one who would [Guard the strongbox, in westerns]. That little knowledge nugget makes this my favorite clue and answer.

I liked the assortment of brand names, everything from AMANA and AJAX to CLOROX and CONAGRA. There was even ELLA Moss, a brand I know nothing about. And any puzzle with a reference to a Seattle MARINER is fine by me. With the exception of ON A ROLL, clued as [Hot, in Vegas] and not as [Where to spread some butter], the longer fill was kinda dull. ARRANGER doesn’t exactly sparkle, you know?

Interesting to see ARM crossing ARMIES–if they weren’t so close together I probably wouldn’t have noticed the duplicate three-letter sequence. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course (ARM crossing ARMPIT or FOREARM would be a problem), but it does stand out. The best clue, by far, was [Takes back the lead?] for ERASES (it helps to read “lead” as rhyming with “bed” and “red”).

For reasons I can’t explain, I read the clue [Chophouse choices] as [Cathouse choices]. And yet the answer, LOINS, seemed to work just fine.

David Cromer’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 11 2 11

Quick review this morning— The theme has four 15-letter answers with sound-alike clues:

  • 17a. [Sachs] = GOLDMAN’S PARTNER.
  • 27a. [Sacks] = FIRES FROM THE JOB. The “the” part is fairly arbitrary, but ONE’S and A don’t fit the theme’s grid constraints.
  • 48a. [Saks] = NEW YORK RETAILER. With stores nationwide.
  • 64a. [Sax] = WOODWIND IN A BAND. Or playing solo, or in an orchestra.

I did this puzzle last night when I was too sleepy to blog it, so it’s not fresh in my mind now. Let’s take a look at several clues:

  • 37a. [“Awakenings” actress] is Anne MEARA, comedy partner and spouse of Jerry Stiller, mother of Ben Stiller, solver of the New York Times crossword.
  • 8d. [Plaster of Paris component] is GYPSUM, a soft mineral on the Mohs scale. (My kid was just quizzing me on the Mohs on Monday. I’m foggiest on the ones in the middle.)
  • 10d. [Daytime fare] is a MATINEE. I was thinking of TV programs rather than theater performances or movies.
  • 50d. [Ancient Egyptian temple complex] is KARNAK. Is that roughly the same name as Johnny Carson’s seer character?
  • 29d. [Took in again] clues RESAW. No. No, no, no. You see it again, you don’t “re-see” it. And you can’t resaw a piece of wood where you’ve already cut it. Wonder if the constructor tried like hell to make this RENEW but the surrounding fill just wouldn’t work out.

3.25 stars.

Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, 11 2 11 Tyler Hinman

Nice theme. Tyler took four familiar phrases and stuck an “i” before the second word to make an unholy Apple mutant:

  • 17a. [Where to store depressing material online?] is in the DARK iCLOUD. I forgot the iCloud existed for a while there.
  • 27a. [Tablet for a single guy?] is a BACHELOR iPAD.
  • 42a. [Buggy music player?] is LOONEY iTUNES. This one doesn’t quite hang together for me. Buggy ≠ loon(e)y.
  • 55a. [Music player holding songs about busting out of prison?] clues ESCAPE iPOD. I don’t have a prison-break playlist. Do you have songs to recommend?

Favorite answer: 9d: MAD PROPS, or [Respect, yo]. Also good: ELBOW ROOM, “HEY THERE,” THE UNIT/GLUTEUS sandwich, and “ZIP IT.” Not sure TTYL has been in crosswords before; this [Quick goodbye?] is short for “talk to you later.” I’m grateful it’s not “t2yl.”

Four stars.

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26 Responses to Wednesday, 11/2/11

  1. Gareth says:

    Cute theme! A little offbeat! Battled with the last few letters in the top-left slightly: couldn’t recall VOUS for a while and brain didn’t want to stretch to OOOH (I’m not a fan of that answer either). Last letter was changing ROlEO to RODEO.

    Puzzle made me think of this song: (Ear-worm alert, even if it’s mostly in a foreign language!)

  2. klewge says:

    I actually had ROLEO in that spot for a while

  3. ArtLvr says:

    The SHATTER question is a good one, as it usually means split into many pieces — shatter a bone?

  4. klewge says:

    Almost had TO SHATNER there, because of when Captain Kirk got split into his good and evil sides by a malfunctioning transporter beam during “The Enemy Within”

  5. cyberdiva says:

    Amy, there seems to be a glitch in the link to the NYT puzzle in your opening listing. Both last night and this morning, when I clicked on it, I got just the message “Error 404 – Call Dave!” This morning I realized that your comments were still accessible just by clicking on “Wednesday,” but since I was interested only in your take on the NYT puzzle, I didn’t immediately try that. Since no one else has said anything about this and it’s still a problem this morning, I thought I’d mention it.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Cyberdiva, I’ve always found forced two-digit months/dates to be ugly (who wants to spend nine months of the year starting with a zero?) so Evad wrote all the coding for the jump links with the more condensed dates. I hadn’t realized there would be months when Jan 11-19 and Nov 1-9 fell on the same days of the week! So sorry that that bit of functionality is messed up at the moment. Mea culpa.

  6. janie says:

    kudos (and then some!) to sara and karma sartre — solver-commenters turned constructors — on their nifty and clevernyt debut. solvers at the tourney in westchester took the first crack at it (10/21 [as well as last thurday’s mueller, and this week’s chen and house]).

    so glad these two found each other — and lookin’ forward to more from ’em, too!


    (for more about the constructors and how this puzzle came to be, mosey on over to today’s “wordplay” column!)

  7. Evad says:

    Dave got the call and the links should be working now…

  8. backbiter says:

    L.A Times- 57A: Couples with clubs – Answer: Fred
    I have not the slightest idea what this means. Somebody please explain to this moron just what the hell that is. I thought of Fred Flintsone. Ya know the Stone Age with clubs. Other than that, I cannot figure this out. I’m sure once one of you enlightens me I will do the V-8 headsmack!

  9. Martin says:

    According to the dictionary, “shatter” is a synonym of “split” in “split the air.” It also defines a separate “burst” sense, as in “split the atom,” which sounds pretty shattering to me as well.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Fred Couples is a golfer.

  11. backbiter says:

    Thank you, Jeffrey! I feel so much better now. I never heard of Fred Couples. I was thinking of two people together as a couple in a club.
    Oh well, sports and I do not mix.

  12. Lois says:

    I’m having trouble voting! I loved the NYT puzzle today. I just finished it, and wanted to give it 5 stars. The site says I voted already! I thought maybe I voted for yesterday’s under today’s puzzle, but the site says I voted for yesterday’s already also. I see there was some other trouble with the link earlier. Might there still be some trouble with the rating system?

  13. Evad says:

    Lois, I’ve added a 5-star rating for the NYT for you. Let me know if you still have trouble tomorrow using the rating system.

  14. Noam D. Elkies says:

    S’IL is not too bad when you have VOUS clued the same way. (PLAIT has been clued that way only once of 15 xwordinfo hits; the R of RSVP has yet to appear.)

  15. Gareth says:

    Amy: Jailbreak ACDC. “He made it out… With a bullet in his back”. Rusty Cage by Soundgarden. The Sweet Escape Gwen Stefani and Akon. It’s a start.

    Mad Props is an awesome entry!!!

  16. Gareth says:

    last one: Killer on the Loose. Thin Lizzy.

  17. Jordan says:

    Points off the LAT puzz for also having “Couples’s org.” as a clue in the same puzzle as “Couples with clubs.”

  18. Beth Willenborg says:

    Why points off for two clues with Couples? He’s fun to watch on a golf course and I thought it was fun to find him twice in the puzzle.

  19. Sam Donaldson says:

    I agree with Beth. Duplicate references in clues are entirely fine, and some think they add a certain cohesiveness and/or elegance. It’s only an offense when a major word in an answer is repeated in the clues. Had CLUB or CLUBS appeared in the grid, for instance, then [Couple with clubs] would be a clue in need of revision.

  20. Martin says:


    I agree with your analysis in general, but the repetition also seemed a minor flaw to me in this case. We don’t normally see clues that are striving for misdirection repeat themselves. What would be the point? As satisfying as an aha moment can be, it’s not apt to repeat itself within a single puzzle. Unless the solver has very poor short-term memory.

  21. sandirhodes says:

    Onion: The folks in Iowa have caucuses, not primaries, right?

  22. Tuning Spork says:

    I gotta echo Martin’s point — if only because I have failed at trying to dispute it.

    Repeating a clue is fine, when the clue is used in different ways.

    But using the same Couples diversion twice, in one puzzle, doesn’t come across, to the solver, as doubly clever. It only comes across as singly rude.

    But we may be amenable to a conflicting argument.

  23. Tuning Spork says:

    Sandirhodes, you are correct. A primary election is not the same as a caucus. Appartently we’re the only one’s to have noticed that. I just figured we were letting that one slide. :-D

  24. sandirhodes says:

    Well, I got to thinking about that … they DO try to be the first in the nation to hold anything, right? So that WOULD make them the *primary* voters (as in 1st).

  25. Mike says:


    On the Onion/AV…that’s “buggy” as in Bugs Bunny. And while “Folsom Prison Blues” doesn’t broach breakout, it’s a pretty good prison song. (I’m always late w/comments, but oh well)



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