Thursday, 11/17/11

Fireball 10:19 
BEQ 5:32 (Amy) 
NYT 4:41 
LAT 5:40 (Neville) 
CS 5:58 (Sam) 
Tausig 5:47 (pannonica) 

Pat Merrell’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 11 17 11 1117

Short post. Long headache (unrelated to crossword).

Clever riff on the anagram theme. Pat takes five phrases relating to anagramming and anagrams them in the clue. The middle answer is not suitably a “lexical chunk,” so it gets clued as an anagrammed title for the puzzle. The other four work just fine without that hedge. Took me way too long to figure out what was going on. (Meaning more than a minute. I like to catch onto anagrams faster than that!)

Wanted WALLEYE to appear in Tuesday’s fish-people puzzle so it’s nice to see it today. AMY does, in fact, mean “beloved” or “loved.” So does the name David (hello, Evad!). Always felt like my name had the best meaning. “Strength of the spear” or “bitter,” meh. Bee prefix API– isn’t great fill, but it figures into the word apitoxin, which figured into two different things I saw on TV this week, both times involving murder by apitoxin injection. [Something lost in the wash?] clues not SOCK but ODOR. People of earth! If the laundry process isn’t making your clothes and towels smell fresh and clean enough, ditch your liquid detergent and try a powder. You will not be sorry. Liquid laundry soap is a tool of the devil. That clue for GNATS mentions that a swarm of them is called a cloud. Boy howdy, ain’t that the truth! Several years back, giant clouds of gnats beset Chicago and vexed the crowds at a Cubs game. You’d walk across the street, swatting and brushing, and end up with dozens of dead bugs staining your shirt. So gross.

Four stars.

Matt Gaffney’s Fireball crossword, “Shortchanging”

Fireball answers

So I saw that my first mystery/rebus square included Joe MONTANA’s last name and the word MOUNTAIN. Was this a Spanish/English combo rebus? But then I hit the GOOGLE {STREET} VIEW crossing…YOU’RE A {PAL}? What Spanish word for “street” means “pal” in English? Finally the abbreviation approach hit me: MT for the state of Montana or a mountain, ST for street or saint. The other rebus squares yielded PT for {PINT}-SIZE and {PART}-TIME WORKER and FL for ONE {FLUID} MOTION and {FLORIDA} KEYS. V. nice theme, Matt.

Puzzle felt like it was taking forever: One part 17×17 size, one part rebutic confusion, one part overall toughness in cluing.

Aren’t puzzles 2 and 5 at the ACPT 17x17s? This would have made for a delicious puzzle 5. Tricky but ultimately fair, with a lovely payoff when you figure out the gambit. See that answer in the middle? It’s one of those random add-an-ER answers that aren’t so hot, but SCOWLER is what I was not while solving this puzzle. This one’s maybe a hair under the 5-star mark, but it’s a thin hair.

Gary Cee’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 11 17 11

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 11 17 11

I’m sure there will be some people that this puzzle simply RUBS THE WRONG WAY, but I’m a fan. Each theme entry contains the word RUBS… going the wrong way. Check it out:

  • 17a. [Pirates’ home] – PITTSBURGH
  • 26a. [Group working on tips?] – NEWS BUREAU
  • 48a. [Jersey Shore city popularized by Springsteen] – ASBURY PARK
  • 59a. [Trudeau comic] –DOONESBURY

Nice theme entries with a long, uncommon pattern in this Thursday puzzle – nice selection, Gary.

I love the two selections for length down entries: SO FAR, SO GOOD and NON SEQUITUR – wasn’t Joon Pahk great in the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions last week? Crossing French with FINI and ADIEU – how come these weren’t clued more similarly? Some clues:

  • [Not blue or brown, perhaps] – HAZEL. Didn’t know where this was going until I nabbed the Z. The green-eyed monsters out there are feeling a little jealous since they were left out of this puzzle.
  • [Standard partner] – POOR’S. If you didn’t cotton on, this is Standard and Poor’s, the company in charge of the S&P 500 stock index.
  • [Company with a spokesduck] is always AFLAC. Why is this perennially clued this way? Is spokesduck that cute?

Great for a medium-level Thursday teaser – 4.2 stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “All Ears” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, November 17

I solved this puzzle before 6:30 am, before my first cup of coffee. I say that because I’m reasonably sure that, had I been sufficiently caffeinated, I would have shaved a minute off my solving time. The theme appears to be straightforward enough, as we have four theme entries containing the E-A-R-S letter sequence. Listen up! We’re about to plow through the theme entries:

  • 17-Across: THIS YEAR’S KISSES is a [Benny Goodman hit of 1937]. That’s, um, before my time, so I don’t think I’ve ever heard it. I guess everything got rationed during The Great Depression.
  • 24-Across: The DEVIL WEARS PRADA is a [Meryl Streep film], and a great one at that.
  • 44-Across: DRESS REHEARSALS are more like pre-opening run-throughs than [Pre-opening activities], though there is nothing wrong about the clue as written.
  • 57-Across: HORTON HEARS A WHO is a [Dr. Seuss title]. And he hears with…wait for it…EARS!

Okay, I’m mid-way through the first cup of life support coffee, so I think I can cover some of the notable entries and clues through a series of random observations. Let’s rock!

  • There are many ways to clue POOP. I’m glad Martin chose [Ship’s palindromic deck]. I’m sure it was better than clue number two.
  • I liked [Pet peeve?] as the clue for FLEA. That was the best clue of the puzzle, I thought. The best non-theme fill was PARDON ME.
  • When we see a three-letter answer starting with E clued as [Geologist’s period], we know it’s either ERA or EON. Martin lets us use both answers, for the plural form EONS also appears in the puzzle, and it’s even clued as [Geologist’s periods] for good measure.
  • DEBAR can be clued as [Shut out] or [Ugly word used as crossword fill in desperation]. There’s only 72 entries in the grid, though–low enough to be a freestyle puzzle in most publications–so sometimes you gotta tolerate a blemish or two to get the lower word count.
  • ERENOW we used words like ERENOW. Here it’s clued as [Previously, old-style].

First cup down. Off to the second cup and the start of the day.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Synth You Asked”—Matt Gaffney’s review

BEQ 385 solution

Synth you asked, I’ll tell you I don’t know much about synthesizers.  But Brendan does, and today’s puzzle features four puns on famous synth brands:

  • 19a. [Play your vintage synth?] is TOUCH A KORG. Playing on “touch a cord,” but I think it’s really “touch a nerve” or “strike a chord,” innit?
  • 23a. [Sarah Palin’s memoir about vintage synths?] is GOING MOOG. The book title is Going Rogue.  Haven’t read it.
  • 38a. [Vintage synth after being tossed overboard?] is ROLAND IN THE DEEP, riffing off the hit Adele song “Rolling in the Deep.”
  • 56/62a. [1981 film about a vintage synth-hunting archaeologist?] is RAIDERS OF / THE LOST ARP.

Good puns, which I was able to enjoy despite not having heard of a Korg or Arp. Five observations:

  1. From three-point range:  LIKE HELL (excellent), BAR SCENE (excellent), I CONCEDE (excellent). Two-pointers: I DO TOOFONZIELONDONAFRICA and NIMROD.
  2. At 29a, I didn’t know Shaq O’Neal was called “The Big Baryshnikov.” Fun clue.
  3. Puzzle took me 8:05. I finally beat 19-d!  I’m certain of it.
  4. All four corners have nice fill, but the bottom right stands out.
  5. 24d. [Squadoosh] is a great word for NADA.  What’s the etymology?  My guess is Italian.  Yup!

Thanks for the puzzle, Brendan!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Roger” — pannonica’s review

Tausig crossword • 11/18/11 • "Roger" • solution

Knowing the (12d) RACY proclivities of the Ink Well puzzles, one might prematurely leap to a conclusion about the theme of a puzzle with this title, but one would be mistaken, going off half-cocked.

As the center-spanning revealer suggests, it’s something else altogether. 34a [What one must have to solve this puzzle’s theme answers] A MOMENT OF CLARITY. “Huh,” you may question, but then you might say, “ohh… I see,” for each of the themers receives an injection of the letters I-C to create a silly phrase, which is then clued.

  • 17a. [Point of discussion at Otis Spunkmeyer headquarters?MUFFIN TOPIC.
  • 19a. [Romantic outing comprised of sprinting and screaming?MANICDATE. Kudos for the ‘preferred and better’ usage of comprised. I do wonder if the original is mandate or man-date.
  • 26a. [Source of sexual dysfunction?] BEDPANIC. This is natural enough to be in the language.
  • 41a. [Object used for Halloween pranking?] ANTIC EGG. Eh, my least favorite.
  • 52a. [Historical period when no one seems to mean what they say?] IRONIC AGE. In which people were buried in sarcas–, sar–, sarcasticophagi, oh never mind.
  • 54a. [Off-limits to country folk?] RUSTICPROOF. Definitely the most PC way to clue this, for whatever that’s worth.

Middling theme, serviceable. Points for avoiding the crosswordy staples I SEE and I-CEE in the ballast fill, but a demerit for RELIC at 37-down.


  • Meme unfamiliar to me, but I appreciate the linked sequential fill at 29d and 30d: “I ATE your Halloween candy”  and the children’s reaction, CRY.
  • Lovely long fill: LAUNDROMAT, NOISEMAKER, though the associated three-stacks in the corners suffer a bit: CAL, RDA, ULU; KAN, EVA, REM. Scratch that, they suffer a lot.
  • Even though I studied biology and was familiar with the answer, I feel 53d [AP biology subj.] RRNA is unfair for a general crossword. It’s rRNA, ribosomal ribonucleic acid. It’s enough for people to know DNA, RNA and m(essenger)RNA. There are also tRNA, tmRNA, and srpRNA.
  • ETCS, plural?! (27d) Ecch!
  • Trickiest clue: 48d [Base 1000?] for TEN AM. Army base, military time.
  • 232d [Henry James biographer Leon] EDEL. Who?

OK puzzle.

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47 Responses to Thursday, 11/17/11

  1. Peter Cook says:

    MA/S playing even faster and looser than usual…today’s Post.
    ‘Take out’ = dele…
    ‘Low life’ = ameba…proof that the English language has gone to the texters, who couldn’t spell in the first place. Just because it is used by illiterates doesn’t make the continued incorrect use or spelling of a word acceptable… unless one is lazy, and not very intelligent. Will would not let this puzzled puzzler into the club.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Recently I noted I was over-anagrammed — then here comes another, even tougher. I was working on the clue Rear Garden, saw the start of the answer as REAR and said no, can’t be! But it was… 1A wanted to be Wards off, before FENDS, etc. Finally started to see the light(er) with ZIPPO! Once I got going it wasn’t impossible but took ages. And yes, this gave me a slight headache, but I have to congratulate Pat Merrell on the cleverness!

  3. Tuning Spork says:

    AMY does, in fact, mean “beloved” or “loved.” So does the name David (hello, Evad!).

    Should we start calling you Yma in homage to the crossword staple and your evident fiendishness?

  4. Martin says:

    Peter Cook wrote:

    MA/S playing even faster and looser than usual…today’s Post.
    ‘Take out’ = dele…
    ‘Low life’ = ameba

    What’s fast and loose about using perfectly good words that are in the dictionary? Moreover, both of these words are in CrosSynergy’s standard reference (Random House 2nd)… which was published in the early 1980s, over a decade before text-speak came about.

    I’m not sure what you mean exactly by: “Will would not let this puzzled puzzler into the club”. But if you are referring to Will Shortz, you might be interested in knowing that he has used DELE 63 times, and AMEBA 40 times over his tenure as puzzle editor.

    I’d be happy to suggest a new dictionary of reference to my co-editors at CrosSynergy. How about the 1755 edition of Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language”?


  5. Howard B says:

    Peter, that is really extremely harsh. Look up your references and acceptable variant spellings before throwing a constructor and/or editor under the bus, please.
    The OE/E spelling variant is a common transition in English. (I actually find it surprising that the OE has held out in ‘amoeba’ for this long). DELE is an acceptable editorial term, albeit maybe used to often with its sister STET in puzzles due to their common letters.
    They are not texter-speak / illiterate (I’ll refrain from commenting on this choice of words).

    Besides, how often does one text ‘amoeba’?
    Example: “OMGZ! thrz an ameba n my mcrscp! lol!” Now that one would be a sign of the apocalypse, I might agree.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    LLOL at Howard’s txt! (LLOL = literally laughing out loud.)

    I am unfamiliar with your “OMGZ” variant but am fond of the similar “ZOMG.”

  7. pannonica says:

    To echo Martin’s sentiment, while AMEBA may not be as esthetically [sic] pleasing to some of us as amoeba (or amœba), but it’s completely legit(imate), as is dele(te). Ligatures have been dying a slow death for a long time, as any linguistic archӕologist could tell thou. Personally, I cling to them as much as possible.

    On a related note, I was surprised to learn that ERENOW exists as a compound word; my eye stumbled as I read Sam’s review, but an array of dictionaries back him up.

  8. pannonica says:

    I mean, it isn’t as if it’s “amuck.”

  9. John Haber says:

    Very nice theme indeed and good fill except for maybe a couple more rappers (although at least it’s one puzzle without DRE again).

  10. Howard B says:

    Flo Rida cracks me up as a stage name though, I have to admit that I like that one.

  11. Tuning Spork says:

    Πιστευω οτι θα πρεπει υα αυακοιυωυουυ στα λατιυικα, πως επιστημονες και θεολογοι επραςε για αιωυες. Ευυοω, πως λλαιως μπορουμε υα περιμεουμε υα επικοιυωυει με καθε αλλο αποτελεσματ ικα?

    (That took more time than it was worth.)

  12. Martin says:

    Howling in the wind at ameba seems as good a stand for a pedant as any — but, dele? That’s not a “misspelling” or abbreviation. It’s a word. It’s a verb, and it’s been used since the 17th century. (It’s the imperative of the Latin delere.) So MAS needs to find an even older dictionary.

  13. Papa John says:

    I was surprised by Amy’s plug for powder detergents. When I took over our household duties, I investigated various laundry soaps and discovered that Consumer Digest rated Tide liquid as the overall best, far out-ranking all comers.

    pannonica: Would you please elaborate on your avatar? (Is that what the small pictures accompanying the posts are called?) I can’t quite make it out.

    I’ve never quite got the hankering for amagrams, per se, but I did like the continuity in the theme in today’s NYT.

    According to the Urban Dictionary, OMGZ means: “1. omgz A spin of “oh my god” or “oh my gosh” with a z on the end, mostly used by illiterate chicks who type only netspeak and sticky caps.”

  14. Daniel Myers says:

    Pannonica: “Tell THOU”, not tell THEE? I must be missing something amusing about ye olde solecism (nominative in lieu of accusative) here in your otherwise amusing comment, but it eludes I.

    Tuning Spork: What sort of Greek is that? It’s not ancient, which I know; modern or phonetic transliteration perhaps? I can’t make sense of it anyway. That double lambda at the beginning of λλαιως is bizarre, but I’m sure it’s simply some odd twist I have yet to twig.

    Hm, or is all this just having some fun w/ Peter Cook’s procrustean pose?

  15. Martin says:

    Papa John,

    I won’t comment on pannonica’s avatar directly again, since I recall the last time I did, it was considered a bit presumptuous, or something. No major offense was taken, but I sensed that messing with the mysterium was not to be undertaken lightly.

    However, this is a good opportunity to try out Google image search. It’s a useful resource for discovering the origin of any image. (I had never used it on this particular image, but I just confirmed it worked.)

    If you right click over the avatar and Save picture as … to your desktop, as say, “image.jpg” you can then go over to and press the Images tab. When at the image search screen, click the little camera icon in the search box. Then upload your image.jpg file. The search will find all the places on the internet where that image appears. It’s very cool. And discreet.

  16. Daniel Myers says:


    Wow, that DOES work! I feel like a techie Neanderthal amongst most of you lot. Truth be known, I don’t even know how one adds an avatar to one’s comments here on Amy’s blog, and I have pottered around a little bit with it.

  17. Tuning Spork says:

    Daniel Myers,

    Don’t know what “sort of Greek” it is, but I typed my paragraph into an English-to-Greek translator and that’s what came up, so I presume it’s modern. I then copy/pasted that paragraph into the Greek-to-English translator to make sure it translated accurately. (With one small tweak, it did.) Then I found a list of html code for the letters and typed away.

    The translation should read:

    “I believe we should all post in Latin, like scientists and theologians did centuries ago. How else can we be sure that we’re communicating effectively?”

  18. Daniel Myers says:

    Tuning Spork,

    Thanks for the translation! Yes, modern and ancient Greek are, um, centuries apart. The verb inflections have evolved etc. etc.. Sometimes, the nouns, such as θεολογοι, are at least decipherable. Fun comment!

  19. Papa John says:

    Thanks, Martin.

    I thought I recognized the image but didn’t place it with Hannah Hock.

    Too bad I missed the first inquiry about pannonica’s avatar. Now you’ve whetted my curiosity.

    I can’t imagine you being considered presumptuous.

  20. pannonica says:

    Daniel Myers: I used thou because I thought it might slip under some people’s radar, visually.

  21. marciem says:

    maybe Peter misconstrued “dele” as a misspelling of “deli” as in take-out food. (yes, my first answer was just that…<<>>) so thought that the dele was an illiterate texter’s spelling of that?

    just sayin’….

    no defense on his criticism of ameba. I much love the amoeba spelling myself (can’t fit the correct letter(s) into an xword) . I doubt texters be they literate or not use amoebae in many of their quickie notes. Unless calling someone a scum-sucking one maybe.

  22. mitchs says:

    Two Gaffneys = good puz week. Oops. Puzzle. Sorry Peter. I swear I can read.

  23. pannonica says:

    DM: You can set one up at

  24. Daniel Myers says:

    pannonica: “some people’s radar(s)” rather like “the people’s radar of China”?—just sayin’ ;-)

  25. Daniel Myers says:

    Thanks, pannonica!

  26. kevin kelly says:

    matt gaffney has two errors in his review of BEQ.
    38 down is Riis and 43 accross is therefore ini.

  27. ArtLvr says:

    Yes, and at the bottom of RIIS it is SUETS, not fat Duets in the BEQ! In Matt’s own puzzle I tried to decide if one would pick up a glacier on Sonar or Radar — egad, it was pick one’s way up a glacier with an ICE AX. I should have sussed that sooner! Mental freeze today…

  28. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Apparently Brendan made late changes to the .puz that didn’t carry over into the .jpz puzzle I solved (and posted as the answer grid). 54a: [Karaoke numbers for those with stagefright, maybe] = DUETS. 38d: [DEA job] = RAID. 43a: [Grackle cousin] = ANI.

  29. Daniel Myers says:

    What do you know—-It works! I now have an avatar, of myself, as of 11/17/2011. Thanks again, pannonica!

  30. Tuning Spork says:

    A photo of your actual self? Is that allowed?

  31. Martin says:

    btw, the ANI clue [Grackle cousin] is true mainly in Crossworld (they’re both black birds). The ani is really a “cuckoo cousin.” Grackles and anis are in different orders, meaning they’re cousins the way mice and men humans are.

    I like [Cuckoo cousin] more, maybe because I have quite a few of them.

  32. ant says:

    DM: you just back-filled your posts with your avatar, so in a sense, you travelled back in time! Your posts dated prior to today will have today’s pic. Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do (Twilight Zone theme – work with me here).

    However, you should reverse the image, so it appears that you are actually looking at what you just posted (and thereby not using your “actual” self).

  33. James Schooler says:

    Re: MG on BEQ: I knew that I had never heard of social reformer Jacob Raid! Thanks Amy for clearing that up…

  34. MD Solver says:

    I do enjoy Pannonica’s reviews of the Tausig puzzles. Aside from a few weeks when no specific overarching judgment was offered, here is a sampling of theme-summarizing words and phrases she’s used for his puzzles in the past ten weeks: “didn’t wow or amuse me,” “not entirely consistent” “fine” “tepid,” and “middling.” Not one positive word about a theme, which takes guts! Your drollness is a pleasure, Pannonica.

    On the other hand, I didn’t understand what was wrong with words like CAL, EVA, and REM in the corners. Aren’t those pretty standard three-letter words/names that are in regular use in the language? Why would they be considered poor fill?

  35. Daniel Myers says:

    @Tuning Spork-LOL-Apparently so. Of course, on a more philosophical level, there may be no “actual self” to photograph. Indeed, I have photographed what philosopher David Hume, inter alia, would call a fiction.

    @ant-I didn’t realise it all works so retrospectively! CREEPY indeed! I wonder if I should have photographed myself w/ my eyes staring upwards, so each post would have me looking “backward,” so to speak, to my last post. It’s all so very back to the future or something.

  36. Martin says:

    Just testing to see if the new avatar thing works.

    It’s alive, it’s alive ;-)


  37. Daniel Myers says:


    How did you manage to escape the “Twilight Zone” effect? Is it due to the fact that you had a previous avatar when posting?

  38. Martin says:

    When I signed up for Gravatar, I used my gmail address (no particular reason). It looks like my previous postings here were on my hotmail account.


  39. Daniel Myers says:

    Ah, I see! What a brave new world Gravatar is, that has such people in’t!

  40. Tuning Spork says:

    Oh, Gravatar! That brings back memories.

    That also explains why I’ve been the Great Gazoo all these years. I set Gazoo as my avatar on some long-forgotten website in, oh, say, ’03(?), and it was my avatar when I first arrived here at the Fiend, and I never sought to change it.

    (Mainly because I tend to post deadpan comments that some people [who shall remain nameless] don’t recognize as being in the humorous vein intended. I like having the smiling Gazoo image as my omnipresent *wink* tag.)

    Crossword puzzles suck!!!!!!!

    (See how that works? :-D )

  41. Martin says:

    A Jetsons character on The Flintstones predated Fonzie jumping the shark by over a decade. The Gazoo never got the credit he deserves, in my opinion.

  42. pannonica says:

    MD Solver: There’s nothing wrong with those three-letter words per se, in and of themselves, et cetera, but when they’re all piled together in the same place—even in the service of superior crossing fill—they in my opinion drag the puzzle down.

  43. Gareth says:

    Really appreciated seeing “See Emily Play” getting some airtime as an EMILY answer!

  44. MDsolver says:

    Pannonica – but if they’re fine in themselves why are they bad together? Don’t nearly all puzzles have a lot of three letter entries?

  45. pannonica says:

    MD Solver: I felt those relatively weak three-letter entries, all together in one place (not merely distributed throughout one puzzle), made for an unsavory compromise in the service of those appealing longer crossing answers.

    There isn’t anything essential that’s wrong with three-letter fill, occasional mundane or corsswordy fill, or three-letter stacks, but all at the same time in the same place constitutes—for me—an unaesthetic, unsatisfactory solving experience.

  46. MDsolver says:

    I suppose I remain unclear about why an entry like CAL, though, is weak. It’s a word/name used often by English speakers, is it not?

  47. Garrett says:

    I loved the Patrick Merrell puzzle. It had me totally flummoxed for a long while until I got EXCITES for 22D [Gets going]. That allowed me to guess ALLMIXEDUP with the letters I had so far. I was looking at the clue, thinking, “What the…?” when it hit me–Oh my gosh–it’s an anagram! Then things went very well. I just enjoyed it a lot.

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