Wednesday, 2/22/12

NYT untimed 
Onion 4:04 (joon—paper) 
LAT 3:46 (Jeffrey -paper) 
Celebrity 2:57 (Jeffrey -paper) 
CS 6:55 (Sam) 

Karen Young Bonin’s New York Times crossword—Janie’s review

Greetings, Fiend fans! Pinch-hitting here on Hump Day and feeling my blogging skills are a tad rusty, but I suspect this’ll all play out just fine. Our puzzle today comes from a constructor with a nice track record with the NYT, having made a bit of a splash in the ’90s and the early part of the ’00s. We last heard from Karen in ’10, with a clever letter-swap Sunday—and now today with a puzzle packed with puns. Medieval-tournament puns at that. Now I’m pretty much someone who never met a pun she didn’t like. If that’s not you, this puzzle may not float your boat so much. Me? I’m fine.

While I don’t think the puns deliver equally (and by “deliver” I’m talking about the groan-factor), there’re some mighty nice ones.  To wit:  KNIGHTS GOING [End of some medieval tournament action?].  If you need to be walked through, this is a play on “Nice going!”  Next up:  CONTACT LANCES [Weapons that hit in a medieval tournament?].  For any myopic solvers out there, think “contact lenses”…  This one actually slowed me down some, as I’d entered GUNK where GUCK lives.  Guck?  Yep.  The dictionary tells me it’s been with us since 1949.

This next one is the weakest of the lot (for my money…): LISTS WE FORGET [Really boring medieval tournaments?].  This aims to parody “lest we forget,” but because I was unfamiliar with the word lists as “fields of competition,” I was scratchin’ my head some on this one.  “Tilts,” yes; “lists,” no.  But then—saving the best for last—then we get JOUST KIDDING [Joking around at a medieval tournament?].  If you’re having trouble understanding this one, try substituting the word at 53-Down: JEST.  No, no.  “Just kidding!”  Always good to leave ’em laughing, and that one seals the deal.

While this is a 76-word puzzle, it has a high number of blocks—42.  As a result (besides the theme fill, of course) there’s not a lot of long fill in the grid, but with DELOREAN and SLIPSHOD, I’m not complainin’ deeply.  Anyone else try to make SLAPDASH work for the latter?

We get some old-school fill with BESOM and the WWII ENOLA / ST. LÔ combo; and I found the cross-referenced cluing of ETCH and DORÉ somewhat awkward. I’m not sure how much fun there is to be had by turning […60-Across] into […60-Acrossing] just to tie the two together. Yes, it has to be clued this way grammatically. Just seems like a long way to go. And I could be alone in this!

Other things I liked? The STOOGE [Patsy] at 32-Down, as I suspect that he’s the one who SANG [Told all to the cops]. Also cluing DAIS as [Stand taken by a debater]. Me? I went right to ANTI. Oops. In a puzzle with puns, enjoyed the punny [Biblical fellow who was dis-tressed?] for SAMSON. And what medieval tournament would be complete without a sleek STEED or two? Knights going indeed!

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review

Theme: When You Wish upon A Star

Theme answers:

Well, clearly I can’t hide it anymore. Yes, it is true. Gareth Bain is my secret identity. As mild mannered Jeffrey, I came up with Canadian postal codes and Disney songs as possible puzzles themes, but only under my Constructor-Man persona of Gareth Bain was I capable of actually producing publishable grids. Look for my favorite Montreal Expo players puzzle coming up as the next “Gareth Bain” crossword.

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Wednesday Feb 22 2012

More proof this is my puzzle:

  • 1A. [’50s-’60s Bronx Bombers nickname, with “The”] – MICK. Baseball reference.
  • 14A. [Like the team before @, on schedules] – AWAY. Baseball reference.
  • 43A. [Wed. vis-à-vis Thu.] – YEST. I apologize for this one.
  • 68A. [“__ chic!”] – TRES. Montreal speak.
  • 3D. [’20s White House nickname] – CAL Original clue was [Nickname of the first pitching coach of the Montreal Expos, Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish]
  • 8D. [Bilingual Canadian city] – OTTAWA
  • 9D. [John who explored the Canadian Arctic] – RAE
  • 34D. [Disney frame] – CEL
  • 38D. [__ Khan: “The Jungle Book” tiger] – SHERE. More Disney.
  • 53D. [Tables-on-the-street restaurants] – CAFES. Like you find in Montreal.

I give myself ***½ stars.

John M. Samson’s Celebrity Crossword “Wayback Wednesday” – Jeffrey’s Review

Celebrity crossword solution Feb 22 2012

Theme: 41A. [“My Fair Lady” actress: 2 wds.] – AUDREY HEPBURN


Other theme answers:

  • 18A.[1967 thriller with AUDREY HEPBURN] – WAIT UNTIL DARK
  • 23A.[Recording award won by AUDREY HEPBURN] – GRAMMY
  • 26A.[AUDREY HEPBURN was nominated for five of these awards for her acting] – OSCARS
  • 32A.[Charitable organization for which AUDREY HEPBURN was the Goodwill Ambassador – UNICEF
  • 36A.[Actor Mel once married to AUDREY HEPBURN] – FERRER

Other stuff:

  • 12A.[The ____-Motion” (Grand Funk Railroad #1 song of 1974) –LOCO
  • 31A.[Lee Greenwood tune of 1983] – IOU
  • 8D.[“King of Rock” rappers: Hyph.] – RUN-DMC
  • 23D.[African antelope [anagram of GUN] – NGU
  • 44D.[2009 Beyoncé tune] – HALO

Missing theme answer:

  • Actress who should have got the part for “My Fair Lady” and then beat out AUDREY HEPBURN for the 26A for her role where she sang 53A in the puzzle above – JULIE ANDREWS

*** stars

Tyler Hinman’s Onion AV Club crossword—joon’s review

this is a pretty common theme type, but i don’t remember seeing it in the onion before. there’s nothing inherently oniony about this one, either, but it hangs together pretty well, i think. the theme is LIGHT UP, the central entry that also serves as the clue to these long answers:

  • SCORE BIG ON. tyler’s a sports nut. if you’re not, this one might have had you scratching your head, but it works in this context: “jeremy lin continues to LIGHT UP opposing defenses during his meteoric rise to NBA superstardom.”
  • START A CIGARETTE. unsavory, but yes, it’s definitely one of the meanings of LIGHT UP.

so you have two transitive and two intransitive verb phrases. not bad. i enjoyed the fill and clues, too—tyler’s puzzles are always interestingly clued. these caught my eye:

  • {Amounts, in physics} are QUANTA. yay physics!
  • {Part of the theory of relativity} MASS. more physics, okay, although this clue is rather vague. but maybe for the 99% of solvers who have no knowledge of relativity beyond “E = mc^2”, the clue works just fine.
  • {Overused adjective, these days} is EPIC. okay, but how about FAIL as a noun? is that overused too? wasn’t tyler the one who debuted EPIC FAIL as a NYT crossword entry?
  • {Bay Area geological event} is a TREMOR. they’re plenty common. i lived in the bay area for 4 years and never felt one, though—which is not to say they didn’t happen. every so often somebody would mention to me, “yeah, that was just an earthquake” and i’d be dumbfounded because i didn’t feel it.
  • {Not ignorant about} clues IN ON, a little imprecisely to my ear. or maybe it was intentional misdirection? the clue sort of works but it doesn’t feel right. i would have preferred {Not ignorant of}, as a plan or scheme, rather than ignorant about (a subject).
  • {“Tales of the City” author Armistead} MAUPIN. i have this vague memory from a year or two ago of some very clever wordplay puzzle involving armistead maupin’s name, but i can no longer remember the details. how’s that for high-quality crossword blogging? well, i’m just a temp here anyway.
  • {Surname a 5th grader might snicker at} COX. not me, though. i’m waaay above that.
  • {Apple site notorious for violations?} clues EDEN. i dunno, i thought this one was trying too hard. i appreciate the effort, though. it can’t be that easy to come up with a good new EDEN clue.
  • {Club activity at Princeton} is EATING, much like a {Club activity at Harvard} is FINALS. if the only thing you know about life at harvard comes from watching the social network, let me inform you that our star point guard is now LIGHTING UP the NBA on a regular basis.
  • {State that made same-sex marriage legal in 2009} is IOWA. just in the past week, there’s been news on this front from new jersey, maryland, and california, most of it good. slowly but surely, right?
  • {1985 film with three different endings} is the clue for CLUE. made me smile, just because that movie was so brilliant.
  • {Prepare for a swimsuit shoot} is OIL UP. that’s a new one, i guess. usually the clue for this references greco-roman wrestling.
  • {“The Gashlycrumb ___” (morbid Edward Gorey work)} TINIES. good clue to salvage a pretty iffy entry. i have a soft spot for edward gorey, since he was a theme answer in my first published crossword.
  • {All a robin lays, on a given day} is ONE EGG. what an odd clue. then again, it seems like a fairly arbitrary answer. maybe it would seem more legit as a unit in a cookie recipe? because yum, cookies.
  • {How pinball players play} clues IN TURN, and this one had me stumped for a while. i considered IN TUNE, perhaps because i was thinking of the song “pinball wizard”, and songs are (ideally) played in tune. in fact the whole sector with ONE EGG, ROADEO and IN TURN was a bit of a logjam for me.
  • {Alert to a teammate} is “I’M OPEN”. i like this—colloquial and fresh. also sports. in addition to one theme answer, there are also sports clues for ALI, TAPE, ACE, GIMME, and ATL. (did i mention that tyler loves sports?)
  • {Sign that often got “BUSH” spray painted on it} is STOP. fun clue. i used to see these all the time when i lived in berkeley.
  • {Panty-dropping} clues SEXY. i couldn’t tell whether this clue was supposed to be an adjective (participle) or noun (gerund).

not my favorite theme type, but pretty good overall. 3.8 stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Followers of Washington” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, February 22

As the puzzle’s title suggests, each of the theme entries starts with a word that can also follow “Washington:”

  • 17-Across: The [Batman publisher] is D.C. COMICS. Washington, D.C., of course, is the capital that’s home to the (capitalized) Capitol.
  • 24-Across: A STATE FAIR is a [Rural expo]. As an employee of the University of Washington, I am assuming the reference to “Washington State” is not to our Pac-12 Conference rivals but to the entire political jurisdiction that is Washington State.
  • 35-Across: A [Russet’s relative] is a RED-SKIN POTATO. My sources refer to “red-skinned potatoes,” not “red-skin potatoes.” But a professional American football player playing for the D.C. team is a Washington Redskin, not a Redskinned. Then there’s the whole imbroglio over the use of “Redskins” as a team name. In the end, I probably would have left this answer on the cutting-room floor.
  • 49-Across: A SQUARE PEG is [Part of a bad fit]. I know Washington Square as a shopping mall near the Oregon towns of Beaverton and Tigard. But you probably know it as public park in New York City.
  • 59-Across: A [Ph.D. candidate, e.g.] is a POST-GRAD, and the Washington Post is one of the newspapers publishing this very crossword.

The paired Downs in two corners were a nice touch, and figuring them out quickly helped me gain some ground against the clock. (Do clocks have turf to cede? Never mind, you know what I mean.) I especially liked THE FORCE and OCEAN AIR down there in the southeast, but RECLINER and ONCE MORE in the northwest are also great. To get those nice pairings, we had to tolerate EER up top (some would add ORO y UNO) and HCL, EEE, and CII down below. Once again we face the great philosophical question of whether stacks of sparkly long entries justify crappy crossings. I don’t think this one really tests the principle, as only EER irks me. When it comes to Roman numerals in crosswords, I realize we may have to agree to disagree. I can give you at least VII reasons why I think they’re cool, but I don’t think it would change anyone’s mind.

I spent the most time in the southwest corner. With the DU- in place, I had a hunch that DUMA was the answer to [Czar’s parliament]. I knew it wasn’t DULA, and I’d be surprised if actor DULE Hill appeared here. But even with that entry to the corner, I struggled. Most of the blame goes to AQUILA (not me, of course), the [Eagle constellation], though I also played the oh-great-what-foreign-currency-am-I-supposed-to-use-here game for a while with RUBLES, the [Minsk money]. Once I finally sussed out these entries, the rest fell into place nicely.

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56 Responses to Wednesday, 2/22/12

  1. ArtLvr says:

    LISTS, plural, isn’t referring to fields in general but to an arena — to enter the lists means to accept a challenge or compete in a contest, as vying to become a certain political party’s nominee for President. The singular in this context doesn’t exist. Re the NYT puzzle — KNIGHTS GOING, Ms. Bonin!

  2. janie says:

    >LISTS, plural, isn’t referring to fields in general but to an arena — to enter the lists means to accept a challenge or compete in a contest…

    this helps my understanding of the word a bit. fwiw, the m-w dictionary def. (singular): a: an arena for combat (as jousting); b: a field of competition or controversy.

    i went w/ the latter because of the clue, reading “field” not as “playing field” but “type [of competition].” all in all, this kind of confusion only highlights why this particular entry may not have served the puzzle as well as the others (for my solving/blogging experience anyway!).


  3. Matt Ginsberg says:

    Sorry for being somewhat off topic; this is actually in response to a question from last Saturday. As a bunch of people know, I’ve been working on a program called “Dr. Fill” that solves crossword puzzles. Dr.Fill will be participating at the ACPT this year, and I’m getting ever more questions about it. To help answer them, Dr.Fill is now on Twitter (@drfill1), which I’ll use to tweet comments during ACPT itself, and there is a Facebook page alsol:

    Please feel free to like the Facebook page and follow the Twitter

  4. Daniel Myers says:

    The OED weighs in on LISTS: a.) spec. in plural (sometimes construed as sing.) as the equivalent of the like-sounding Old French “lisse” (modern French “lice”): The palisades or other barriers enclosing a space set apart for titlting; hence, a space so enclosed in which tilting-matches or tournaments were held.

    b.) trans. and fig. A place or scene of combat or contest.

    I’m familiar with this term solely through the phrase “enter the lists”, which I use quite frequently in the figurative “b” sense supra.

    “Sometimes in this Fiendish blog, one is compelled to enter the lists with verbal knights and knaves.” :-)

  5. loren smith says:

    My inner Miss Fiddich needs to point out that, like DAIS, a podium is something you stand on. A lectern is the thing with the slanted top that you stand behind. BUT some online dictionaries are starting to allow “podium” for lectern, just as they’re starting to allow “infer” for “imply,” accepting “judgement” with that second “e,” and letting “loan” be a verb.

  6. pannonica says:

    “Knight” can function as both a knave and a participle verbal.

    My biggest complaint about the NYT is the three four-letter, two-word partials (IN NO, IM ON, AS IT); that’s at least one too many.

  7. Daniel Myers says:

    @p- “Knight” as a verbal? Example, s’il vous plaît.

  8. pannonica says:

    Perhaps just a verb? Is there a term for a word that can be a noun or a verb, the way a participle can be a noun or an adjective (or adverb)?

  9. janie says:

    knight as an active or passive verb: king arthur knighted lancelot. lancelot was knighted by king arthur.



  10. Daniel Myers says:

    Yes, just a verb, I should say. No term comes to my mind, immediately at least, for words that are used as both verbs and nouns. The way I was taught grammar, a participle is always an adjective or adverb. When it is used as a noun – Example: “The knighting of Elton John was terribly daft of her majesty.” – it is always termed a gerund.

  11. loren smith says:

    Daniel – can you give me an example of a participle acting as an adjective? Maybe:

    He offered up his resignation kicking and screaming.

  12. Daniel Myers says:

    @loren–Yes, spot on!

  13. pannonica says:

    In my weak defense, I was just making a pun, pulling together a few aspects of the puzzles and reviews.

  14. Daniel Myers says:

    As an adverb: “Fighting mad, he offered up his resignation.” Modifies and intensifies adjective “mad,” ergo, an adverb.

  15. Daniel Myers says:

    Oh, no need to apologise at all, p. I was actually hoping that you’d found some recondite use of “knight” of which I was unaware. And I love this geeky grammar type of confab which you initiated. Thanks!

  16. Sam Donaldson says:

    Janie’s reviews always leave me in a better mood. I hope she’ll be back more often.

  17. janie says:

    aw shucks, sam. ;-) unlikely to be a regular contributor any time soon again, but nice to pitch in when needed (and available…). woulda posted a bit sooner last night but for the fact that my log-in apparently expired sometime as i was writing the post and i lost, oh, about a quarter of what i’d written. all’s well that ends well and was able to reconstruct, but grrr. hate it when that happens!!


  18. loren smith says:

    Janie – “aw shucks” is what I wanted for OH STOP yesterday but it just didn’t fit!

    Pannonica and Daniel. Let’s coin a term for a word that can swing all different ways. Maybe omni-orth? trilex? multimorpheme?

    Nothing like “geeky grammar type confab! ”

    My grammar ’tis of thee
    Sweet incongruity,
    Of thee I sing
    I love each mood and tense
    Each freak of accidence
    Protect me from my common sense
    Grammar my king!

  19. Daniel Myers says:

    Still LOL, loren, even as I type. I am even now searching for p’s elusive word. It’s rather like hunting a snark. I’m sure something like it must exist! As far as a neologism goes, perhaps “ambimorph.”??

  20. loren smith says:

    How ’bout metrolexical. I know, I know – an adjective posing as a noun, but that’s the whole point, right?

  21. Daniel Myers says:

    No, actually, what we want is the word for a word that, whilst spelt the same as a root, can and does function both as a verb and a noun upon conjugation and declension. The closest I know of is a “substantive,” but that word is really quite off the mark and is just another way of meaning a verbal, very far from what p originally queried about.

  22. HH says:

    A word that doubles as a noun and a verb … I’d call it a nerb.

  23. Daniel Myers says:

    I give up, for the time. It’s such an obvious and common phenomenon, in all languages of which I have knowledge, that perhaps the professional linguists simply haven’t bothered with inventing a special name for it other than “sharing a common root.” Professional linguists????

  24. Jeff Chen says:

    Yay Janie! Fun write-up.

    P.S. COX, hee hee.

  25. Daniel Myers says:

    Nerb it is, HH. Thanks!

  26. loren smith says:

    Nerb is terrific!! But what about words that can be used as nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives?


  27. pannonica says:


  28. loren smith says:

    Polylexa is good! How ’bout mightymot or multimot? Polypalabre?

  29. Tuning Spork says:

    Polynym? Lexamorph? Chameleophone?

  30. Daniel Myers says:

    Ah, thanks for pointing me in the right direction, p! The word is LEXEME. According to the OED, “a meaningful form without an assigned grammatical role; an item of vocabulary.” In the citations, this example is given: “The orthographic word “cut” represents three different inflexional forms (i.e., three different grammatical words) of the lexeme “cut”.” 1968 from Introduction to The Theory of Linguistics. In other words, cut as a noun, adjective and verb.

  31. Daniel Myers says:

    Wipes brow.

  32. pannonica says:

    Thank you, DM!

  33. Daniel Myers says:

    You’re so welcome, p!

  34. pannonica says:

    So much for pantonym.

  35. Daniel Myers says:

    I was partial to Spork’s Chameleophone, myself.:-)

  36. pannonica says:

    “Finally, the readability of every description depends on the presence of a ‘pantonyme,’ that is, the object described, in conjunction with a suitable nomenclature and a readable predicate according to its terms and its relation to the ‘pantonyme’ and nomenclature.” – A tradition of subversion: the prose poem in English from Wilde to Ashbery, by Margueritte S. Murphy (p. 144)


  37. Daniel Myers says:

    A tradition of subversion indeed! As Byron said of Coleridge, “I wish he would explain his explanation.” Or in this case, she.:-)

  38. loren smith says:

    Chameleophone is terrific!

  39. Jeffrey says:

    Doesn’t anyone want to talk about Disney movie songs?

  40. pannonica says:

    But -phone is the wrong suffix!

    *Though it may be appropriate for Disney songs.

  41. loren smith says:

    Then chameleograph

  42. Gareth says:

    They’re great aren’t they, Jeffery! (Now I’m talking to myself…)

  43. Daniel Myers says:

    True, but it has that RING about it! It sounds like an improvised xylophone or kazoo. Oops, I meant GAZOO, of course.

  44. pannonica says:

    Uh-oh. Didn’t Amy admonish us to behave like ‘nice people’?

  45. Daniel Myers says:

    Useless Etymological factoid: “Nice” comes, ultimately, from the Latin, “to not know, to be ignorant.” But who’s being mean? Are we being the proverbial mice sans chat??

  46. loren smith says:

    I’m at work and don’t have my OED, but I think when it first appeared in the language, didn’t it mean “foolish, stupid, senseless?” I like being nice. Nice is good.

  47. Jeff Chen says:


    I very much enjoyed your puzzle.

    Jeff (Gareth)

  48. Daniel Myers says:

    Agreed, loren, and you must have your OED memorised because when the lexeme “nice” first appeared as an adjective – It was also a noun for a while – in English (1290 or so) those are the exact words the OED uses to define In any event, I apologise if I have not been as nice as possible to everyone here today. It’s been a fuddling afternoon, digging through dictionaries and what not in search of that ever so elusive word.:-) But fun, mind you! And Spork – I hope – knows that I have a fascination with his avatar, which I’d never seen. It’s one of those transatlantic thingees, I suppose. I feel I missed out on the great gazoo as a child. Seriously!

  49. loren smith says:

    I have most of the OED memorized. Right. How doesn one even change an avatar on this site?

  50. pannonica says:

    I was being facetious about behavior.

    loren smith: You can set one up at gravatar. It then follows you around (for certain sites), based on your e-mail address.

  51. Josh Bischof says:

    I thought that the fill in the LA Times puzzle was really lousy.

    The fill in the CS puzzle, however–now that was some good stuff.

  52. Loren Smith says:

    Thanks, P.

  53. Daniel Myers says:

    @p, facetious, toi?!? :-)

    @Loren – Yes it’s quite obvious now from your picture that even at a relatively young age you had large portions of the OED fully memorised.

  54. Tuning Spork says:

    pannonica Says:

    February 22nd, 2012 at 4:01 pm
    But -phone is the wrong suffix!

    Why so, Panonnica? We have the word “homophone” (literally “same voice”) to denote a spoken word. Why can’t “Chameleophone” denote a spoken word, too? All words are voiced (optimally), no?

    @Daniel. Ah, the Great Gazoo. The architypal servant-master of my childhood.

    I can’t agree, though, that you “missed” him while growing up. I believe that His essence was/is present every day, no matter which neighborhood you grew/grow up in. As an adolescent, I’m sure that you knew Him instinctively via his invisible siblings Snark and Sass. ;-)

  55. pannonica says:

    Tuning Spork: The -phone suffix denotes sound. Homophone means “same sound,” as distinguished from homonym, “same name.” The “word” component is tacit.

    If anything, chameleophone would suggest “changeable sound,” which doesn’t describe the phenomenon we’re discussing at all.

    In truth, “chameleon” by etymology alone doesn’t imply mutability, since it derives from French for, roughly, “humble lion” (don’t ask me why). On the other hand, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that words can have meanings based on popular imagination and popular associations.

  56. Noam D. Elkies says:

    The clue for COX is rather on the oniony side. And one doesn’t actually take final exams in Harvard’s final [sic] clubs…

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