Tuesday, 1/31/12

Jonesin' 3:52 
NYT 2:55 
LAT 3:13 (Neville) 
CS 6:41 (Sam) 

Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 1 31 12 #0131

Four lively theme answers end with words that, as verbs, are synonyms:

  • 17a. The DAILY JUMBLE! Tyler Hinman and I used to race on the Jumble on the Chicago Tribune website. I’m pretty sure Tyler entered all the answers and solved the jumble/anagram part in under 10 seconds once. In other Jumble news, @FakeWillShortz did a Jumble riff on the #humblebrag concept the other day.
  • 28a. The IPOD SHUFFLE. Anyone else thinking of “The Curly Shuffle” or “The Super Bowl Shuffle” right about now?
  • 47a. Colorful phrase, a MAD SCRAMBLE.
  • 63a. LEMONADE MIX, feh. I’m off powdered drink mixes these days.

I like the theme all right, and I like the exclusion of a wrap-it-all-up-and-tie-it-with-a-bow explanatory answer.

I’m surprised to see a partial at 1a, and surprised to see fill like ELIA NEVA LONI EPEE in a puzzle by Doug P. Fresh. Plus that RIFLER at 22d! The clue, [Ransacker], is every bit as awkward as that answer. The UNCLASPing at the end of a hug seems a tad weird, too.

3.75 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “In a Roundabout Way”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 1/31/12 "In a Roundabout Way"

We’ve got a 68-word themeless crossword with plenty of fun long answers this week:

  • 14a. “NOM NOM NOM,” what the LOLcats say when they can, in fact, haz cheezburger.
  • 18a. DOBBY, [Harry Potter’s house elf]. Not a long answer, but fun for anyone who’s read/seen the Potter series. (Dobby is the one who looks like Vladimir Putin, which outraged Putin.)
  • 20a. Favorite clue: [To some, a “rat with wings”] is a PIGEON. Mm-hmm.
  • 33a. The Razzie, or GOLDEN RASPBERRY award, is the [Worst Actor winner’s prize]. Hey! There’s a Sporcle quiz for that—all the actors who’ve won that dubious honor. I missed six of them.
  • 52a. LISA MARIE Presley was [Michael’s wife, for a while]. Michael Jackson, of course.
  • 4d. ANWAR SADAT, [Egyptian president of the 1970s]. Hosni Mubarak just didn’t want to stop being president after Sadat.
  • 12d. “TO BE FAIR…” can be a [Devil’s advocate phrase]. To be fair, Newt Gingrich isn’t…you can complete the sentence yourself.
  • 20d. PERT PLUS! We had to stop buying that when we got our second bottle with an “off” chemical smell to it.
  • 24d. [Hogs] is a verb and that’s what BOGARTS means. I learned of the word via this song when I was in Prague in ’97.
  • 29d. “GUESS AGAIN!”

Good stuff. Four stars from me.

Allan E. Parrish’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 1 31 12

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 1 31 12

It’s the old switcheroo at the end of this puzzle’s theme answers. Care to show off your four-letter anagramming prowess?

  • 17a. [Bakery cookware] – MUFFIN PANS. What is the difference between a muffin pan and a cupcake pan?
  • 28a. [Quiet times for baby … and mom] – AFTERNOON NAPS. I’ve only experienced one side of this coin, and I don’t remember it.
  • 44a. [Ability to focus] – ATTENTION SPAN. What?
  • 58a. [Crisp cookie] – GINGER SNAP. Put cookies in the grid and I will like your puzzle. Have you ordered your Girl Scout cookies yet?

Yes, it’s a classic anagram theme with a four-letter word. But it’s exhaustive and well-executed. That’s great for a Tuesday puzzle.

Let’s talk about the EPOXY of this puzzle. I enjoyed the symmetric Scrabbly letters of TEXMEX and ZSA ZSA “Nine Times” Gabor.  The crossing APEX and ACME might’ve had a neater effect had the clues been the same. Unfortunately, I think a lot of this puzzle’s ZEST was LOST through some names that I learned from crosswords – OMOO, YMA Sumac, “Well, Did You EVAH” and No. 4 on the Shortz List, ESAI Morales. (Go check out that link now if you missed Matt Gaffney’s article last week.) Of the long vertical entries, EMPTY NET is by and far my favorite.

Not much more to say here – maybe my attention span is fading!

Updated Tuesday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “In the Beginning” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, January 31

If constructors were paid according to the Scrabble scores of their grids, Lynn Lempel would be making a mint off of this puzzle. Rare letters abound here, and they upstage a theme that, while certainly common enough, still delivers on the entertainment value. The four theme entries are common terms with an IN added at the start, in each case changing the first word enough to yield a new, wacky phrase that is a clued accordingly:

  • 17-Across: Add IN to the front of “stalls for time” and you get INSTALLS FOR TIME, clued as [Does some renovating at a magazine headquarters?]. I suppose that’s a more suitable clue than [Job description for a news magazine’s chief erection officer?].
  • 28-Across: Stick “in” at the front of “come of age” for INCOME OF AGE, a short but effective label for [Social Security?].
  • 44-Across: Make a similar adjustment to “got busted” and there’s INGOT BUSTED, or a possible [Headline about a mishap at Fort Knox?]. I’ve never been terribly fond of the word “ingot,” so this one felt TEPID ([Not hold or cold]).
  • 58-Across: The [Component of a con artist’s insurance scam?] is INJURY SELECTION. For some reason I can’t justify in hindsight, I plunked down INJURY TAMPERING, which had the added drawback of fitting nicely. Boy did that foul up the southeast for the longest time.
  • The theme entries are nice enough, though only INCOME OF AGE struck me as really good. One would think there are lots and lots of possibilities with this theme, so only really good ones should make the cut. Like I said up top, the fill is the star of this show. I thought a third Z had made its way into the solution when I tried IZE as the answer to [Suffix for graph or magnet] (guess who read the first and last words of the clue and little else?), but the suffix was ITE, maybe the only blemish in an otherwise fine grid. Two more appearances by “of” bother me not, as I liked LOTS OF TIME and OUT OF TURN. I didn’t know “LEDA and the Swan” (a Yeats poem, apparently), but it was gettable through crossings.

    I didn’t know Euro-punk ’80s artist ADAM ANT was known for being [Unshakable], though he was always considered a goody two-shoes.

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    14 Responses to Tuesday, 1/31/12

    1. sbmanion says:

      With all the discussion yesterday, I did not see anyone answer joon’s question about NONTROVERSY.

      I have heard the term, but my understanding is different from joon’s, but I am not sure what it means. I think of a nontroversy as an issue like Obama’s birth certificate, or death panels, or a link between autism and vaccines, or a denial of global warming based on misstatements by certain scientists. The issue of Romney’s taxes on the other hand raises a legitimate issue as to what tax rates are appropriate. On this type of issue, however, there are so few people who could credibly explain some of the questions that arise, that it hardly seems worth talking about and as joon points out, we all “know” that he pays at a lower rate.


    2. Bananarchy says:

      Five stars for the Jonesin’ (well, maybe 4.5 or 4.75, but the site forces whole numbers upon me). NOMNOMNOM!!!

    3. Gareth says:

      My favourite clue today was in fact: “It’s bigger than [a] family” in the Jonesin’. In the NYT, we’ve had themers beginning with iTunes and iPod this week… What will Wednesday bring?

    4. ArtLvr says:

      Even not knowing slang like BOGARTS, I was able to complete the Jonesin’ with only a false start on 60A where “Unable to change, ever” led me to try Petrified at first! Agree with Gareth on the “bigger than (a) family” clue…

    5. Bananarchy says:

      @ArtLvr: Yeah, the somewhat casual voice of the “Unable to change, ever” clue had me thinking something less dry than PERMANENT as well. Having watched a bit of Arrested Development recently, I really wanted it to be NEVERNUDE!

    6. Tuning Spork says:

      The issue of Romney’s taxes on the other hand raises a legitimate issue as to what tax rates are appropriate. On this type of issue, however, there are so few people who could credibly explain some of the questions that arise,

      Actually, it’s not very complicated, sb. Romney doesn’t have a job, so his income comes from profits on his investments, i.e. “capital gains”. Taxes on capital gains are lower than on “income” (from wages, salaries, tips) in order to encourage investment.

      Many, if not most, millionaires and billionaires do pay lower taxes on their receipts, as a whole, because most of their receipts are the direct result of successfully spending their money on risk-taking ventures. (Capital gains are kinda like interest on a loan. Sorta.) This helps to make capital available to fledgling enterprises, creating jobs that pay wages and salaries — expanding the tax base — which are then taxed at the regular income rates.

      So, basically, capital gains tax rates are lower than income tax rates in order to discourage millionaires from keeping all their money stuffed in a mattress where it doesn’t do anyone any good.

      Oh, and most of the pundits/pols making hay over Romney’s 13% tax rate know all of this. So, yeah, it’s a NONTROVERSY. ;-)

    7. joon says:

      not to steer the discussion towards politics, steve, but my take on it is that the low tax rate paid by the uber-rich is not a new issue. i don’t really consciously follow current events, but i’ve certainly been peripherally aware of it since obama (and warren buffet) bruited about the idea of closing those loopholes at the time of the debt ceiling fiasco last year. it didn’t happen, obviously, and i totally agree that it’s an actual political issue. but what’s that got to do with romney? he paid his taxes.

      agreed with bananarchy about the jonesin’ today! i can haz fresh fill. NOM NOM NOM.

    8. sbmanion says:

      Tuning Spork,

      My reference was not to the basic issue of capital gains v. ordinary income. Among other ruses, rich people can get around what would be ordinary income for regular people by a tax dodge called the “hedge fund loophole.”


      Another one is to donate appreciated stock as a charitable contribution used to offset ordinary income.

      One thought about Romney was that he was afraid to release his return because of the hedge fund loophole.

      I think that the concept of capital gains v. ordinary income is quite simplistic for the uber-rich. And of course the fact that corporations pay the highest income tax rate in the world, while literally true, is not true in fact because of the many corproate offsets and loopholes. GE had an 57,000 page tax return in 2010 and paid no taxes on $14-Billion profit.



    9. Tuning Spork says:

      Ah. For some reason I’m reminded of what my lawyer friend told me once. “If you declare bankruptcy, all of your creditors line up to get paid. And, since the bankruptcy laws are written by lawyers, guess who gets paid first.”

    10. Jeffrey says:

      Remember when this blog discussed crossword puzzles? Although I’m sure Sam would be as thrilled as me to spend hours discussing tax rates, loopholes and the international taxation of capital gains vs dividends.

      NOM NOM NOM!

    11. Tuning Spork says:

      Okay, Jeffrey. No more talk of taxes. Until my refund arrives. :-D

    12. Matt J. says:

      For the NYT 28a, I’m thinking the Icky Shuffle, or the Truffle Shuffle, at least. :)

    13. pannonica says:

      NYT 59d literally made me rabid because it repeats from yesterday’s theme.

      *not literally

    14. Howard B says:

      People – do the Jonesin puzzle today. ASAP. It’s tasty. :) Nom nom nom!

    Comments are closed.