Tuesday, 12/27/11

Jonesin' untimed 
NYT 2:55 
LAT 5:01 (Neville) 
CS 6:19 (Sam) 

Crossword Fiend commenter Bananarchy, a.k.a. Peter Broda, has a new puzzle blog called Cross Nerd. He’s constructing crosswords over there, both themed and mini-themeless (11×11? 11×13? Why not?), all in the Onion A.V. Club vein (i.e., be prepared for salty language). The emphasis is on freshness of fill rather than impressiveness of grid design (which is generally a philosophy I approve of). (Was that too many parenthetical remarks?)

John Dunn’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 12 27 11 #1227

WATERCOLORS are lovely, aren’t they? The word serves as a unifying principle for this theme, which features five bodies of water that pair a color with a term for a body of water: the mythical BLACK LAGOON, the RED RIVER, GREEN BAY, the YELLOW SEA, and “BLUE BAYOU.” Golden Pond narrowly misses out on qualifying for inclusion. There are probably a handful of colors that fit “__ Lake” but I can’t think of a famous one.

I like that only YELLOW SEA is clued as a factual geographic body of water—the other four give you a fake place, a movie, a song, and a city.

I haven’t got much to say, good or bad, about the rest of the fill. Hey, it’s Tuesday! You’re not likely to find much to remark on, unless there are things to complain about. Overall rating, 3.5 stars.


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Worst of 2011”

Jonesin' crossword solution: "The Worst of 2011"

I always enjoy Matt’s year-end roundup of laughable tripe:

  • 17a. [Adam Sandler cringefest that topped many “Worst Movie of 2011” lists] is JACK AND JILL.
  • 25a. [HP tablet released in July 2011, then discontinued six weeks later (then revived later in the year!)] is the TOUCHPAD.
  • 34a. [Metacritic’s lowest-rated Fall 2011 TV show] was CHARLIE’S ANGELS. The series was canceled quickly.
  • 43a. [His “Seeking Major Tom” made Pitchfork’s “Worst Album Covers of 2011” list] clues WILLIAM SHATNER. Totally missed this one. He released an album this year?
  • 49a. [Doomed Netflix offshoot on CNET’s “20 Worst-Named Tech Products”] is QWIKSTER. Boy, Netflix had a rough few months there. Raise rates! Split into two companies! Name one of them Qwikster! Retract everything except the rate increase!
  • 63a. [Tackle box item turned hair accessory that was one of Yahoo!’s “Worst Trends of 2011”] is a FEATHER LURE. Wait, what? This really happened? I don’t think the trend reached Chicago. Plus, this is bogus. If any sort of fishing lure is going to make it big as a fashion accessory, it’s gotta be the brightly colored rubber worm. Feathers are boring. They don’t jiggle.

Overall rating, 3.5 stars.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times Crossword Puzzle Solutions 12 27 11

Los Angeles Times Crossword Puzzle Solutions 12 27 11

As some people are already travelling home after Christmas, it’s appropriate to have a theme that flies the friendly skies.
  • 4d. [Bogeyman deterrent, so it’s said] – NIGHT LIGHT
  • 8d. [Organization leader, in slang] – BIG ENCHILADA
  • 21d. [Unobstructed progress] – CLEAR SAILING
  • 32d. [Chatterbox’s outputBLUE STREAK
  • 26d. [Airport handlers, and in a way, what the first words of 4-, 8-, 21- and 32-Down are– SKYCAPS

This is pretty cute – I like it when we have a good excuse for vertical theme entries. Nothing BRUTAL in this Tuesday puzzle. Let’s take a look at some compound bullets.

  • 22a. [Unintended radio broadcast silence] DEAD AIR. An awkward moment, to be sure.
  • 55a. [High-tech business– DOT-COM. We’re due another bursting bubble, aren’t we? (I shouldn’t say that!)
  • 57a. [Kook– ODDBALL. Also, one of eight on a billiard table.

Favorite bit of visual imagery: the HAWK at 5d. swooping in on a CHICK. Very cool.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sounds Fishy to Me” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword December 27

It’s a short post today for a variety of reasons, so let’s get to it. The theme entries are names of fish that have been clued as though they were nouns completely unrelated to the sea:

  • 20-Across: The LARGEMOUTH BASS is clued as [Voluble ‘NSYNC member Lance?]. Lance Bass was one of the singers in ‘NSYNC.
  • 31-Across: The SPOTTED RAY is de-fish-ified into [Actor Romano suffering from the measles?] If Ray Romano had the measles, he might well be referred to as “spotted ray.” Would that also mean he looked green around the gills?
  • 40-Across: The COMMON CARP is clued as [“You left the seat up,” e.g.?]. I didn’t know that there was a “common” carp–is there an uncommon one too?
  • 51-Across: The FLATHEAD MULLET becomes a [Haircut that’s a cross between a Marine’s and Billy Ray Cyrus’s?]. Mullets are easy to recognize in the water–they’re all business up front and a party in the back.

The theme is cute enough, but I was more impressed with the fill. The long Downs were helpful in sussing out the theme entries (my favorites were ETHAN ALLEN and METROPOLIS). Bonus points for having METROPOLIS cross LOIS Lane, [Clark’s crush] (as in Clark Kent, not William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame).

[Gamer’s console that debuted in 2001] was an interesting clue for XBOX, largely because I had no idea that the Xbox has been around that long. I just got my first Xbox two days ago–and that’s my first ever gaming system. I knew I was behind the times, but not that far behind. [Canoe alternative] made no sense to me as a clue for BRUT–turns out Canoe is a well-known cologne brand, like Brut. But the clue that seemed to give me the most trouble was [Give the axe to] for CASHIER. I had forgotten that “cashier” can also be a verb meaning to dismiss someone from official duties. Since most grocery store checkout clerks are not usually in positions of authority, I don’t think one would cashier a cashier in the ordinary course. But you could cashier a manager (though a cashier would not do the cashiering, of course).

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12 Responses to Tuesday, 12/27/11

  1. Thomas says:

    Not crazy about Radar Sound / Ping

  2. Bananarchy says:

    Thanks for the shout out, Amy! Hope y’all can pop on over to the site and say hi

  3. Gareth says:

    NY theme was so elegantly executed!

  4. HH says:

    “Not crazy about Radar Sound / Ping”

    Better would’ve been “Delivery-room machine sound”

  5. Annon says:

    Constructive (not constructing) criticism re: the Cross Nerd site. I will never know if it is any good or not because trying to read teen-diary font in white on a black background was something that my eyes could handle for all of 10 seconds. Sorry.

  6. Jamie says:

    @bananarchy: I did a few of your puzzles and enjoyed them, thank you. Always glad to meet a new constructor with an Oniony-edge. I agree with Annon above, though. The white-on-black presentation is tough. I speak as someone who is Older-Than-Amy™.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I start seeing spots when there’s white text on a black background. I literally become unable to read the text. If you’re on a Mac, there’s a quick trick that reverses all the colors on your screen. White text on a black background turns into black type on white (though slightly hazy), and all the other colors look like photo negatives. It’s control-option-command-8. Mac users with eyes like mine, memorize that keyboard shortcut! (Here’s your mnemonic: The 8 looks like a pair of eyes, and you need to use every tool-from-the-bottom-keyboard-row at your disposal to fix the eyes.)

    In Windows, the process is naturally more complicated and varies depending on the operating system:


  8. Jamie says:

    @Orange: Tried this in Windows but gave up. I have this crazy notion that if the kid wants me to visit his blog, he should make it legible all by himself. Thanks, though, for promoting youngish constructors.

  9. Bananarchy says:

    Sorry to offend the eyes, but I’m glad you let me know. Things have now been inverted for your viewing ease. The white-on-black was a gamble, but I liked the way it looked. The people have spoken, however. Hope I didn’t scare you all away for good!

  10. Jamie says:

    @bananafella: Huge improvement. Will return each Tuesday.

  11. John Haber says:

    Never mind Windows. I wish I could magically reverse black and white in print, what with the redesign of the Sunday magazine’s opening editorial (although it’s disappeared for the last couple of weeks).

  12. Annon says:

    Site looks much better Banarchy. I’ll keep doing the puzzles, too.

Comments are closed.