Wednesday, 2/15/12

NYT 3:54 
LAT 3:33 (Jeffrey -paper) 
CS 5:54 (Sam) 
Onion untimed 
Celebrity untimed 

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 2 15 12 0215

Okay. I am in no mood to do crosswords, much less write about them. Long day.

Theme is TAKING THE STAIRS winding diagonally down the grid, with two Down answers offering reasons for doing that: BROKEN ELEVATORS in the plural, and NEEDING EXERCISE, which is awkwardly worded.

I can’t help feeling there were approximately 30 names in the puzzle. Let’s count the propers and see: THAIS (clued, once again, as a Massenet opera that is perhaps not really all that famous rather than as those people in Bangkok and environs) OSKAR ERA BERNINI SAN UTE LETO EDDIE ANN ORR PSYCHE ESME ERSE ETON NIRO BEENE ATARI ELI (Wait, who?!? ELI Bobby or Bobby ELI? Never ever heard of him, and there are so many ELIs I do know) ENOS RYDER. Shoot, only 20. (Ahem. Once you hit about 14 names, the puzzle has gone off the rails.)

2.5 stars.

The ELI/TEE crossing (the latter clued as a three-way joint) was a slow spot for me. And I could see a great many solvers out there in Solverland not really knowing BERNINI or BEENE and being stuck on that B.

Patrick Berry’s Celebrity crossword, “Wayback Wednesday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 2 15 12 "Wayback Wednesday" Berry

Do you know your This Is Spinal Tap trivia?

  • 17a. NIGEL TUFNEL, [Lead guitarist of Spinal Tap: 2 wds.]
  • 23a/32a. DAVID ST. / HUBBINS, [Lead singer of Spinal Tap]
  • 35a. DEREK SMALLS, [Bassist of Spinal Tap: 2 wds.]
  • 44a. BREAK [“__ Like the Wind” (1992 Spinal Tap album]

And who was the drummer?

Lots of names in this one—ILSA, LIL Wayne, David MILCH, FESS Parker, Mt. ARARAT, MILEY Cyrus, Ashton KUTCHER, AMY Poehler, IMAN, LILI Taylor, SEAN Penn, PETER Dinklage, RAHM Emanuel, LARA Croft. Thirteen names in the fill plus three theme names occupying four long spaces probably made this puzzle a tough nut to crack for solvers who aren’t pop culture buffs.


Kurt Krauss’ Los Angeles Times Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Wednesday Feb 15 2012

Theme:36A. [They’re not in the in-crowd … and read differently, what each starred answer has two of] – OUTSIDERS/ OUTSIDE “R”s. Each theme answer begins and ends with the letter R.

  • 17A. [*Classic little red wagon] – RADIO FLYER
  • 30A. [*Memorable, as a day] – RED LETTER
  • 48A. [*One seeding clouds] – RAIN MAKER
  • 61A. [*Knee-slapper] – RIB TICKLER
  • 2D. [*Nuclear plant sight] – REACTOR
  • 6D. [*Suitcase lugger’s aid] – ROLLER
  • 12D. [*Rosie’s role] – RIVETER
  • 41D. [*Broke up late, as a meeting] – RAN OVER
  • 46D. [*Short-antlered animal] – ROE DEER
  • 50D. [*One paying a flat fee?] – RENTER

Including the reveal, that’s 11 theme answers, representing 42% of the white squares, including at least 2 squares in every row and column.

Other stuff:

  • 7D. [“Shepherd MoonsGrammy winner] – ENYA
  • 32D. [Busy employee of a paranoid king] – TASTER. Do these still exist? By “these” I mean paranoid kings.
  • 42D. [3-Down’s region] – MIDWEST. Always amused how the area a couple thousand miles east of me is called the MIDWEST.

Stuff to make the rest look good:

  • 25D. [“Mi casa __ casa”] – ES SU
  • 57D. [Tequila sunrise direction] – ESTE
  • 61D. [Indian rule from 1858 to 1947] – RAJ
  • 62D. [__ de la Cité] – ILE
  • 63D. [Hosp. heart ward] – CCU
  • 64D. [Ring victories, briefly] – KOS

Rather super. Rocking puzzler. **** stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Medicine Ball” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, February 15

Don’t worry, this won’t hurt a bit. Today’s puzzle makes us “take our medicine,” so to speak, in four different ways. Each theme entry ends with a word that is also a common form of medication:

  • 17-Across: A [Container for cultural curios] is a TIME CAPSULE. Most time capsules are much too large to ingest, however, no matter how much water you take with them.
  • 29-Across: An [Electronic graphics gadget] is an ART TABLET. I’ve never used one before, but it sounds like it would be such a pill to master.
  • 43-Across: An ELBOW DROP is a [Professional wrestling maneuver] that tends to get a unique nickname for each wrestler that uses it. The Rock’s version is called “The People’s Elbow,” Abdullah the Butcher’s version was the “Meat Cleaver,” and Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s elbow drop…well, it never had its own name, but it was a thing of beauty. (Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Come for the crosswords, stay for the professional wrestling talk.)
  • 57-Across: The [Final insult] is the PARTING SHOT. We have to end with my least favorite way to receive medicine? Parting shot indeed.

I really liked all the five- and six-letter entries in the grid. They help the grid seem more open than it really is (note only two entry points into each of the northwest and southeast corners). I love any puzzle with GAME SHOW as an answer (clued as [It may feature an isolation booth]), but I also liked JUMP ROPE, ATE AWAY, RIB STEAK, UPHILL, and the college dinner combination of RAMEN and COKE.

I suppose ARISE is a fine answer for [Acknowledge the judge’s entrance], but my ear sure prefers the simpler RISE. Maybe I’m too influenced by hearing bailiffs say “all rise” instead of “all arise.”

Matt Jones’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, 2 15 12 Jones

Instead of an add-a-letter theme, Matt goes with add-the-sound-of-a-two-syllable-word. That makes it rather harder to piece together the theme answers, doesn’t it? Once they’ve all Tebowed, we get this:

  • 19a. [Surplus of pleasure yachts?] clues SPARE PARTY BOATS (spare parts + Tebow).
  • 37a. [Name for a chain of Shirley Temple-themed drinking establishments?] clues PRETTY BOWS ’N’ BARS (prison bars).
  • 53a. [Next to these dog treats, or those over there, or those…?] clues BY ANY MEATY BONES (by any means).
  • 1a. [QB whose name is added phonetically to the middle of the three long entries] is Tim TEBOW.
  • 68a. [Acknowledged a touchdown like 1-Across] clues KNELT. Tebow may be losing his Most Prominent Christian Athlete title now that Jeremy Lin has bounded into Knicks fame as a non-demonstratively devout Christian.

Five more clues:

  • 65a. OAKEN seems like a boring word to clue, but Matt went with [The Old ___ Bucket (Indiana-Purdue trophy, slangily)]. Never heard of it, but it’s cute.
  • 28d. [Stuck-at-home-in-a-snowstorm feeling] is CABIN FEVER.
  • 18a. [Blue W for Word, e.g.] is a fresh clue for an ICON on your screen.
  • 44a. [Paws at the door and whimpers, say] clues WANTS IN. It’s casually in the language, and yet I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it in a crossword.
  • 38d. TETANUS is [What some shots prevent]. Public service announcement! If it’s been more than 10 years since your last tetanus shot, you ought to get another one. Your upper arm will hurt like a mofo for a couple days, but if your tetanus shots are up to date, the next time you have a big cut, the doctor won’t want to stab you with a needle and make you hurt in two places instead of one.

3.75 stars.

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17 Responses to Wednesday, 2/15/12

  1. Art Shapiro says:

    I confidently put in LE CID for the Massenet opera, and was soon put in my place. But THAIS is equally famous. Agreed that all those proper names were tough.


  2. Tuning Spork says:

    At least it wasn’t 30 names, like it could’ve been, with Yma SUMAC, Larry FLINT, Rin Tin TIN, MALA Powers, Amy and Ulysses GRANTS, TABS Hunter et al, RATS Scabies et al, the goddess FLORA, Jimmy Dorsey’s “So RARE” and NBC’s TODAY. At least there’s that. :-D

  3. ArtLvr says:

    Sorry you weren’t in the mood! I liked the NYT’s winding STAIRS and the LAT’s OUTSIDE R’s too. Talk about a long day — I had to catch the PBS re-airing of Downton Abbey at 4 a.m.

  4. Loren Smith says:

    The word SYNC has been bugging me. “Sync” and “mic” are fine in the present tense, but to inflect them – “syncing,” “miced” just doesn’t work for me! “Mic” is starting to show up as “mike,” but so far no “synk” that I’ve noticed. Wonder why, like “psyched,” we’re not shortening the word after the “h.”

    Liked WANNA. Funny how we can shorten “want to” to WANNA, but not “want two.”

    *I wanna books. just doesn’t work for

    I want two books.

    Of course the same is true of “hafta,” “gotta,” “usedta” . . .

  5. Cyrano says:

    Well Art, I confidently put in MANON, which is more famous than THAIS and LE CID, but got put in my place too. But at least in a few weeks I get to see the opera I wanted in the puzzle in the opera house.

  6. pannonica says:

    Loren Smith: There’s an intermediary state you’re not addressing. The preposition “to” readily takes a schwa sound as speech becomes faster, and it isn’t a great leap from to . Small, “helper” words often become auditory cannon fodder.

    On the other hand, there’s tuppence.

  7. loren smith says:

    panninica – I think there’s more going on here. In the following examples, the particles do get reduced, but in the second examples, they cannot become “hafta” or “wanna.”

    This is all I have to eat. (Until my mom lets me get back in the pool) hafta

    This is all I have to eat. (I have no more because I’m so poor) have to

    This is the man I want to know. (Because he seems interesting) wanna

    This is the man I want to know. (Let’s tell him the big secret) want to

  8. pannonica says:

    The critical aspect in those instances is that the first examples have prepositions that are strongly linked to the preceding verbs—have-to and want-to—and it’s easy to push them closer together. In the second examples the prepositions are part of a separate functional idea and it would be confusing if they became linked. Sorry, I don’t know all the syntactical terms for proper sentence dissection. An associated part of it is that the stress in each case is different:

    • This is ALL I have-to eat.
    • This is all I HAVE to eat.

    • This is the MAN I want-to know.
    • This is the man I WANT to know.

  9. loren smith says:

    I think your instincts are right, but I see it from different angle. In the first two examples, “all” and “man” are more the ultimate direct objects of “eat” and “know,” so “have to” and “want to” can scooch up together. In the second two, “all” and “man” are after all direct objects of “have” and “want,” so no schooching.

  10. pannonica says:

    I think I’ve got it. In each of the second examples, the to is part of an infinitive: (to eat) and (to know). Therefore, it’s disassociated from the preceding word.

  11. HH says:

    There’s not gonna be a quiz on this, is there?

  12. pannonica says:

    It’s gotta happen.

  13. Martin says:

    Thaïs is not performed more often because a soprano up to the role comes along very rarely. I was lucky enough to see Sills do it in San Francisco in 1976. I don’t think any singer since could match that performance. Massenet wrote the part for Sybil Sanderson, the daughter of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, who also happened to be one of the greatest sopranos of the 1890s.

    It’s got a great story: 6th-century severely conservative monk tries to convert Alexandrian prostitute, but falls hopelessly in love. Tragedy ensues. A staging about now would be great.

  14. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks, Martin — I’d like to see a terrific Thaïs too! And I really liked Patrick Jordan’s puzzle with medical delivery methods — lots of lively fill also, from PSEUDO and ERSATZ to PYGMY and LOONIE. What I miss is the AcrossLite format, which would allow saving these without printing them out!

  15. Martin says:

    The blog won’t let me do a link for some reason, but google jpz2puz to find the convertor here. I use it every day.

  16. Pamela says:

    Late in the day, and I skimmed and scanned, but first Masenet opera I threw in was Manon. I quibbled at the plural elevators.

  17. Art Shapiro says:

    ArtLvr: I used to use that Java applet Martin has cited, but have switched to the Xword program. It has a couple of irritating idiosyncrasies, but seems to otherwise do the job well and one gets used to its behavior.


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