Sunday, 3/4/12

NYT 9-ish with a typo 
Reagle 8:26 
LAT (untimed—Doug) 
Hex/Hook 13:53 (pannonica) 
WaPo 9:26 (Jeffrey – paper) 
CS 6:20 (Sam) 
Celebrity untimed 
NYT Second Sunday untimed 

David Kahn’s New York Times crossword, “Love Story”

NYT crossword solution, 3 4 12 "Love Story" (WITH TYPO!)

All right, there’s a typo somewhere in my puzzle. Grid’s too big for me to want to spend my time looking for an errant square or two. Ah, well. I’m sure one of you will spot it quickly.

The theme’s a story told in dialogue:

  • 23a. Actually, the first part isn’t dialogue. An old woman is SIPPING ON A GLASS OF WINE and says,
  • 78a. Husband says, “DO YOU REALLY MEAN THAT, or…”
  • 109a. She replies, “IT’S ME TALKING TO THE WINE.”

Alcohol addiction! Always good for a joke, eh? The theme didn’t do much for me.

The fill’s got some longer answers in it, but aside from MR. BEAN and MO’NIQUE (who should absolutely co-star in a movie) they weren’t particularly resonant for me. Lots of sports content–like the bowling ball’s THUMB HOLE, boxing’s FAST COUNT, a BASE HIT. Hard to get too excited about a THUMB HOLE.

Illin’ update! ILL is in this puzzle at 7a, clued as [Sublime, in hip-hop slang]. Is it time for another foofaraw about whether Will Shortz uses the term in the prevailing way or not? Would it have been so hard to just go with [Under the weather] and skirt the subject entirely?

Oh! Just spotted the typo. I love ED WOOD but typed it as EW WOOD crossing WUTY. WUTY is not a word. 38:05 on the applet; 9 minutes to solve the puzzle and 29 minutes to blog the puzzle until I found the typo.

Three stars.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Sounds Familiar”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, "Sounds Familiar" 3 4 12

I didn’t read the notepad until after I finished the puzzle. Merl writes, “NOTE: This is a slightly modified version of Puzzle No. 3 from last year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which is held annually in Brooklyn, N.Y. The next one is Mar. 16-18. If you’re coming, bring your wits and a nice fat coat.” Huh. I was at last year’s ACPT and I finished all the puzzles, and yet this theme didn’t ring a bell at all. I’m sure others remember it better than I do.

The theme is (near-) homophone puns:

  • 20a. [Good place to get a tummy tuck?] = NAVEL HOSPITAL. (Naval.)
  • 28a. [Comment at an Oscar Mayer Halloween party?] = THE WURST IS BEHIND US. (Worst.)
  • 43a. [Daily tally (seemingly) from inquisitive kids?] = FIFTY THOUSAND WHATS. (Watts.) Except the incessant question kids pepper people with is “Why?” and not “What?” Also, I’m definitely a “wutt” pronouncer when it comes to what so it doesn’t sound like watt (wah-t) to me.
  • 54a. [VW Rabbit?] = MEIN HARE. (Herr.)
  • 57a. [Just some guy I know who smells a little?] = PETE MOSS. (Peat.) But moss isn’t smelly. Peat might be, but that word has vanished in the theme answer.
  • 67a. [What our constantly yelling buddy sounded like by the time the game was over?] = THE HOARSE WHISPERER. (Horse.) This one is terrific, because anyone with laryngitis is, in fact, whispering hoarsely.
  • 83a. [What Mattel’s new Junior Mint does?] = IT MAKES LITTLE CENTS. (Sense.) Took me forever to grasp this. This “Junior Mint” is a toy mint that mints coins and has nothing to do with Junior Mints candy.
  • 95a. [Book with many pregnant pauses?] = THE COMMA SUTRA. (Kama.) Cute.

Now, the puns are solid, but they’re a total mixed bag, aren’t they? I don’t see anything that unites them aside from the exact homophone aspect (with one exception).

Seven more clues:

  • 75a. [Welsh woofer] is CORGI, the dog.
  • 77a. [How some eras end?] is with the suffix –ZOIC, as in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras.
  • 91a. [“My response was,” commonly] clues I GO. As in “He goes, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ So I go, ‘I don’t know. What are you doing?'”
  • 1d. [Related on the father’s side] clues that old crosswordese word, AGNATE. Your maternal relatives are your enate kin. Haven’t run into either term in genealogy.
  • 5d. [Sound of a passing roller coaster] might be WHOOSH. Usually there’s more of a clatter, rattle, screech, and roar, isn’t there?
  • 18d. [Where David slew Goliath] is ELAH. In the valley thereof?
  • 63d. SWAZI is [One of South Africa’s official languages].

3.5 stars.

Henry Hook’s Sunday crossword, “Doctor’s Orders” — pannonica’s review

Hex/Hook • 3/4/12 • "Doctor's Orders" • Hook • solution

MEDICATION: Gronathemol®
DOSAGE: qip (×2)
CONTRAINDICATIONS: [undecipherable]

  • 23a. [Be expert?] NO ALL THE ANSWERS. (know…)
  • 52a. [Soldier Field squad?] ZHIVAGO BEARS. (Chicago…)
  • 74a. [Infielder?] FAUST BASEMAN. (first…)
  • 102a. [Seeks compensation in court?] SEUSS FOR DAMAGES. (sues…)
  • 5d. [Puppy owner’s chore?] PEPPER TRAINING. (paper…)
  • 15d. [Cocktail-hour order?] DRE MARTINI. (dry…)
  • 51d. [Bed cover?] QUINN-SIZE SHEET. (queen…)
  • 66d. [Engine parts?] SPOCK PLUGS. (spark…)

Eight phrases, altered to punnily begin with a well-known, titled doctor. We have a mix of real (3, but 2 are pseudonyms) and fictional (5: one from music, one from television, 3 from literature). Men outnumber women seven to one. The clues don’t have wacky alterations in an attempt to define the new phrase; it’s apparently enough that the doctor’s name is inserted. The only nod to the hijinks is the inclusion of a question mark at the end of each.

By far my favorite is ZHIVAGO BEARS, for sheer outrageousness. The others succeed in varying degrees, but none tickle me as much. Beyond that,

  • I felt that “puppy” in the clue for 5d telegraphed the answer too much.
  • I had partially filled in QUILT for 51d before I understood the theme (or even looked at the title).
  • I wonder if the spark plugs are part of an engine. They ignite the engine, but are they part of the engine itself?

The tight construction and relatively robust ballast fill made for a mostly enjoyable solve. The two main things I noticed while solving were the inclusion of some unusual words and names, and some sloppiness with repetition.

  • Unusual words: EUPNEA [Normal breathing], LATEEN [Triangular sail], and to a lesser extent ARRAIGN, BALLADES, and ACHERON.
  • Unusual names: Tony ARMAS crossing IDRIS Elba (that S was my final fill), Guy FIERI, KEM, MAZ Jobrani (know him from NPR’s Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me).
  • Repetitions:
    • 36d [Soap box?] TEEVEE; 107a [Plug-and-play entertainment] TV GAMES; plus, not-so-indirectly, the ungainly-clued and unsightly partial 63d [Product-ad phrase with “as”] SEEN ON.
    • 8d [They stop traffic] BRAKES crossing 27a [Late-braking development] SKID. Two very nice clues and answers somewhat RUINATEd (80d) by their appearance together.
    • Less overtly, but nevertheless undeserving of a pass is BUT NO [“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?’ follower] repeating the pun element of 23-across.
    • Not sure what the consensus would be on 78a [In the midst of] cluing AMONGST, because clues involving the past or present tense often share an -ed or -s with the answer. Seems funny to me, though,

Some things I liked:

  • 2d [Fred’s wife]: plunked in ETHEL, but it was WILMA. Similarly, 58a [Hirsute Addams] completely tricked me, practically forcing me to think of Grizzly Adams, not good old Cousin ITT.
  • The cluing for the consecutive 89a and 91a: [Patriots’ Day time] and [New England Revolution’s org.] for the ho-hum APRIL and MLS.
  • No repetition between 89a (above) and 9d [It precedes “juin”] MAI. That leads us to 18a [“Dix” cubed] MILLE, and thence from French to Italian at 105d [“Mezza dozzina”] SEI.
  • 25a LMNOPQ. If you’re going to have an alphabet sequence, nice to have one stretch beyond three or four letters. Bonus for this run being the one that people tend to push together while reciting the thing (okay, perhaps not the Q, but still…).
  • Hands-down favorite clue: 49d [Bob’s partner] WEAVE. With all the names flying about, this one sucker-punched me.

A little more on the down side, the partials and odd phrases (A LAMP, TRA LAS, MORE THAN, ONE I, BUT NO, RETURN OF, LAST UP, SEEN ON, WITH US) were distracting. Others (including MISS ME and A LOT) were not so worrisome. Did I mention 99d [Multiple of CI] CMIX? Damn, I was trying not to.

Overall, still a good puzzle, but might have been edited a bit more scrupulously.

Leonard Williams’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Subtext” – Doug’s review

Leonard Williams's syndicated LA Times solution 3/4/12, "Subtext"

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. This puzzle brought to mind Neville Fogarty’s texting-inspired puzzle from last year. If you don’t remember it, check out the write-up on LA Crossword Confidential. It was a cool puzzle, and I stuck a BATPOLE video into the blog. Awesome. I also mentioned Ghost Rider in that post, which is odd, because I saw Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance last week with a buddy of mine. There were four of us in the theater, which is two more than I expected. I saw none of the 2011 Best Picture nominees, but I paid money to watch Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance on the big screen. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m still 12 years old.

As for today’s texty puzzle, I liked it. It usually bugs me when theme answers are cross-referenced to other theme answers and make me jump all over the grid, but once I caught on, it wasn’t bad.

  • 23a. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 61-Across] – LAUGHING OUT LOUD.
  • 36a. [1993 literature Nobelist] – TONI MORRISON.
  • 61a. [Flight school hurdle] – SOLO LANDING.
  • 73a. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 36-Across] – IN MY OPINION.
  • 97a. [Like opposers of the Roe v. Wade decision] – ANTI-ABORTION.
  • 116a. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 97-Across] – THANKS IN ADVANCE.
  • 17d. [They’re less than grand] – PETTY LARCENIES.
  • 46d. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 17-Down] – TALK TO YOU LATER.

Got any good ones for OMG? FALL FROM GRACE would work. Or TOM GLAVINE for you baseball fans. How about ZOMG? I’m stumped.

  • 32a. [Khloé Kardashian ___] – ODOM. Poor Lamar Odom. This clue reminds us that he’s better known for marrying a Kardashian than for his rapidly declining basketball career.
  • 104a. [Rose of Rock] – AXL. Everyone knows what “Axl Rose” is an anagram for, right? That can’t be an accident.
  • 6d. [College founded by Norwegian immigrants] – SAINT OLAF. I appreciate the shout-out to St. Olaf, where my best friend from high school and his wife went to college.
  • "Csonka!"

  • 19d. [Hall of Fame fullback Larry] – CSONKA. Larry Csonka is one of the great football names of all time. “Csonka” is almost onomatopoeic. Maybe the sound of a wicked stiff-arm to the face. I like that this entry crosses CANTON at 28-Across, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • 108a/108d. [H.S. VIP] – PRIN / [One of yoga’s five vital forces] – PRANA. Ouch! I stared at this crossing for way too long. I didn’t know the yoga term, and I was drawing a huge blank on the ugly abbreviation. I went through the alphabet a couple of times before it hit me. Not a good feeling, especially with the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament right around the corner. And the 101-Down entry ([“The Citadel” author A.J.] – CRONIN) was another killer in that corner. I love ARENA ROCK, so I can sort of forgive the tough stuff.

Updated Sunday morning:

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, March 4

A light and breezy Sunday Challenge workout, this 66/28 freestyle crossword features a triple stack of 7s in the middle sandwiched by some triple-stacked 15s. (I know, triple-stacked 15s in a Martin Ashwood-Smith crossword. Who’d-a thunk it?)

I was surprised not to get the “Congratulations! You solved the puzzle” message when I keyed in my last square, so I spent almost a minute hunting around for the error. Turns out the answer to [“The ___ Game” (Doris Day movie of 1957)] was PAJAMA and not PANAMA, as I had guessed. Hey, the crossing Down gave me NOEL, of which I was so confident I didn’t bother to read the crossing clue. (Hoo boy, that’s a habit I need to break before the upcoming ACPT!) Had I seen [Book after Hosea], I still would have been confused for a while (Sam : the Bible :: Sgt. Schultz : shenanigans in Stalag 13), but at least I would have known that NOEL couldn’t be the right answer (it was JOEL, of course).

Otherwise, it was smooth sailing. I admire how the 15s feed into triple-9s along the sides. That’s a lot of blank real estate! My favorite entries:

  • NO CAN DO, clued as [“Impossible!”], though I might have preferred a reference to this song.
  • OLD SOUL, with the merry clue of [King Cole, for one].
  • NEAT VODKA, clued as [Shot at the bar, maybe] and not as a two-word phrase meaning “Cool, we have the alcohol necessary to make a greyhound!”].
  • Squeezing the triple 7s at the equator with Fred SANFORD and NOODLES.

Basically that whole middle section was cool. ACQUIRING would have made the list but for the fact that the crossing Q entry was Q AS, a partial to complete [___ in queen]. That’s not very pretty. The 15s were standard fare–all perfectly fine entries but none that really excited me. My favorite clue, by the way, was [Secret targets?] for ODORS.

EATS up top, FEASTED in the middle, and SATES down below. It just keeps getting more gluttonous as you go. No wonder there’s an ULCER in there too.

Doug Peterson’s Washington Post “Puzzler #100” – Jeffrey’s Review

Hello. Isn’t it nice to see Doug Peterson finally get another puzzle published? Welcome back, Doug! Well, come along for another day of my explaining parts of a puzzle, mostly inaccurately.

THEME – H + RIR = 44A. [Battle of Salamis craft] – TRIREME

Words of note:

Washington Post Puzzler crossword solution March 4 2012

  • 1A. [“Missing link” sought by physicists] – GOD PARTICLE. More properly called the Higgs boson. For more information, please contact joon.
  • 15A. [Ted Turner successfully defended it in 1977] – AMERICA’S CUP. Yachting and such.
  • 17A. [Much eBay merchandise] – MEMORABILIA. I just got Pentel Twist-erase Click 0.9mm Automatic Pencils through eBay as they are not available in Canada. I expect my ACPT ranking to dramatically improve as a result.
  • 20A. [Gp. twice headed by Ronald Reagan] – SAG. Screen Actors’ Guild.
  • 31A. [Literally, “a blowing out”] – NIRVANA. Famously led by Paul Anka.
  • 35A. [Plays for fast backs] – END RUNS. Football. Or as it is called in Europe: “huh”
  • 40A. [“Little House in the Big Woods” family name] – INGALLS. From the “Big Woods on the Prairie” series.
  • 55A. [What a long and winding road may provide] – SCENIC DRIVE
  • 60A. [Arm of the Atlantic] – LABRADOR SEA. Between Canada and Greenland. Although, what isn’t between Canada and Greenland?
  • 62A. [Villain in “Captain Hareblower“] – YOSEMITE SAM
  • 8D. [Figure in “The Golden Ass”] – ISIS
  • 31D. [Desert flower?] – NILE RIVER. It flows from the desert into the LABRADOR SEA.
  • 39D. [“East of Eden” girl] – ABRA. At the end of the story she turned into a man and became a Flash villain.
  • 48D. [Brand endorsed by Rihanna] – NIVEA
  • 55D. [Stone with a band] – SLY
  • 57D. [First prime after CCCXCVII] – CDI. I wanted CDIX but it didn’t fit. I always forget about CDI.

Lots of good stuff, no real yucky stuff. **** stars.

Mike Nothnagel’s New York Times Second Sunday puzzle, “Diagramless”

getting started on the diagramless

A few years ago, after Tyler Hinman expressed his dismay that I was using the starting square hints for diagramless puzzles, I started making do without the hints. Some people recommend using graph paper and just starting to fill in stuff that you know, leaving enough room on either side to accommodate wherever the grid’s borders turn out to be. Me, I just grab some scratch paper and start jotting down letters until I’ve reached a row that’s 17 squares wide (the standard NYT diagramless width), and then I transfer over what I’ve got and work in the 17×17 grid. There’s duplicated effort, yes, but it hardly takes any time to copy over a few rows.

NYT diagramless crossword solution, 3 4 12 Nothnagel

Mike’s theme is embodied by 73a: STARTING POINT. The long answers with asterisked clues all begin and end with words that can precede “point”: FLASH FREEZING, EXTRA BALL, HIGH-GRADE, DATA ENTRYPENCIL SET, and MATCH GAME. At first, I didn’t realize both words played the POINT game–it helps to read the theme revealer, people. (And by people, I mean me.) Nice find, Mike.

Not much to remark on outside of the septet of theme answers, though I am fond of SMUSH, LUMMOXES, and PORTIA. Four stars.

Liz Gorski’s Celebrity crossword, “Sunday Funday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 3 4 12 "Sunday Funday" Gorski

The subject of this puzzle outed herself as a New York Times crossword fan a few years ago when her 9-letter last name was in a Sunday puzzle and she got in touch with the Rex Parker blog. As any famous person who likes crosswords knows, the people with long names don’t get nearly as much play as the short-name folks. UMA Thurman, Jessica ALBA–the short, vowel-rich names rule.

Here’s the theme:

  • 15a. CHRISTINA, [With 50-Across, actress who’s a crossword fan]
  • 21a. KELLY BUNDY, [Ditzy character played by 15-Across on “Married… with Children”: 2 wds.]
  • 40a. UP ALL NIGHT, [2011 sitcom starring 15-Across as a new mom: 3 wds.]
  • 48a. Bonus answer: WHO, [“Samantha ___?” (TV series featuring 15-Across as an amnesiac)]
  • 50a. APPLEGATE, [See 15-Across]

There are a couple juicy spots in this crossword. PUGSLEY and a POLAROID! Love ’em. There are also lots of names–Sammy CAHN, Howard Stern’s wife BETH (unknown to me until this crossword), Kathryn ERBE (whose two E’s make her crossword gold), HELGA from the comics page, David HYDE Pierce, Laila ALI (Muhammad Ali’s daughter), Elisabeth SHUE, and TAYE Diggs.


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32 Responses to Sunday, 3/4/12

  1. john farmer says:

    ED WOOD / DUTY. You’re welcome.

    Edit: So now I read the post. As Emily Litella would say…

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I was wondering how many people would leap to searching for the typo before reading to the end of the review. :-)

  3. some other guy says:

    Hey, Amy, your grid has WUTY. Is that really a word? I think the W should be a D. Or is “WUTY free” some sort of ILL hip-hop slang that I just never heard of before?

    (OK. It’s really me. I just didn’t want you to think I was the only one.)

  4. joon says:

    ew, wood! that is the wutiest wood ever.

  5. Tuning Spork says:

    Huh. I was at last year’s ACPT and I finished all the puzzles, and yet this theme didn’t ring a bell at all. I’m sure others remember it better than I do.

    Same here. Didn’t notice that there was a notepad; solved the puzzle; never felt an inkling of deja vu.

    Then again, the only puzzle from last year that I can recall anything about right now is puzzle 5. (Oh, and the BEN/BWI crossing at 1-Across/1-Down on puzzle 7, since that was the last letter I entered in the tournament and was a best guess.)

  6. Ben Zimmer says:

    Yeah, I hear that BEN/BWI crossing tripped up a lot of people. :-|

  7. T Campbell says:

    Is it time for another foofaraw about whether Will Shortz uses the term in the prevailing way or not? Would it have been so hard to just go with [Under the weather] and skirt the subject entirely?

    No, it would’ve been easy, and I guarantee you that’s why Shortz didn’t do it. Honestly, I admire the fact that he didn’t back down.

  8. Martin says:

    LINGUA in the HH (Puzzle Formerly Known as BG) gave me pause until I realized Henry is so erudite that he speaks Latin in Tijuana.

    I really liked the theme. The straight cluing made it harder to catch on. I wish I had tried it without reading the title. That would have been a challenge.

  9. pannonica says:

    Good catch, Martin. Missed that one, should have seen it. LENGUA, of course.

  10. Victor Barocas says:

    I remembered the Reagle puzzle immediately when I hit MEINHARE, because I was the dope who didn’t get it, wrote ISTO for ISSO (yes, I know that it would be ISTOO), and didn’t know “Still ___” was IRISE, so I ended up with MEANHARE, IRATE, and ISTO. At least MEANHARE made the “this answer is so bad it’s funny” list!

    I’m hoping that nothing so interesting will happen to me at this year’s ACPT.

  11. pannonica says:

    “NEAT VODKA, clued as [Shot at the bar, maybe] and not as a two-word phrase meaning “Cool, we have the alcohol necessary to make a greyhound!”].” – Sam

    sigh. Yet another place where vodka has encroached on gin’s rightful place. Also, neat vodka is something almost no one would order at a bar. It’s practically unheard of to pay to drink room-temperature vodka.

    What, there was a puzzle?

  12. Martin says:

    NEAT VODKA: where would people drink room temperature vodka?

    Um … how about Russia?

    Remember, it is mainly in the USA that alcoholic drinks are usually chilled.


  13. pannonica says:

    Oh, those kooky Russians. What do they know about vodka? (slink, slink…)

    It’s true that we chill (or worse, freeze) too many of our drinks, but in many cases—especially with vodka and gin—the flavor is improved with some chilling and ice melt. I can think of only a handful of brands of either I would drink at room temperature.

    Another opinion:

    “On its home turf, vodka is almost always drunk in little chilled shots alongside little plates of this and that (zakuski, as they’re called in Russian). To try this is one of the best illustrations we know of why drinking things the way the people who make them do is always a good policy, as it’s hands down the most delightful way to drink vodka. Though it requires a few rules.”

    (According to “master blender” Börje Karlsson, who’s Swedish, in an American style magazine. He also recommends putting it in a freezer, which I can’t get behind.)

  14. Martin says:

    Little “chilled shots” would still be “neat”, no?


  15. pannonica says:

    “Neat” is room temperature. Chilled, no ice, is “up.” I don’t know what it’s called if you pour from a room-temperature bottle into a chilled shot glass (if that’s what’s indicated).

    I like to pretend shots don’t exist, because they’re for people who want to get drunk, not those who enjoy the taste of liquor.

  16. Martin says:

    As a veteran of many Russian New Years parties (Old New Year’s Eve is January 13), I can affirm that most emigres now freeze their vodka. One guy infuses a gallon of cheap vodka (Popov, usually) with a lot of something (chilis last time) and brings it to the party straight from a day in his freezer. His daughter won’t touch it. She was brought up American and only drinks Gray Goose.

    I like the oily viscosity of freezer-temp vodka. I also like the fact that all vodka tastes the same that way. It saves a lot of money.

    I also keep my gin in the freezer. I like martinis the way that famous American, James Bond, prefers them — very cold. But all that shaking bruises the gin so freezer-temperature gin allows the minimal stirring needed for the perfect drink.

    But in general I agree with MAS that Americans overchill. A sommelier who offers an ice bucket should find another line of work. What part of “cellar temperature” does he not understand?

  17. pannonica says:

    That poseur James Bond prefers his “martinis” with vodka; that was Cold War edginess.

    I disagree completely on freezing gin (and vodka); that viscosity is thoroughly unappealing to me. Bruising gin is a myth, and the small bit of ice melt obtained from shaking (or stirring, if you prefer your cocktail to be uncloudy) helps to feature the flavor, much as a splash of water can open up a whiskey or bourbon.

    Cheap vodka can be greatly improved by filtering it a few times (some say six).

  18. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I meant to post this to today’s (Sunday’s) comments, and inadvertently posted them to yesterday’s. I repost it here, with apologies to anyone who started to wade through the same mire twice. Thanks, Amy for your response:


    Just did yesterday’s (Sat) puzzles. Also delighted to see a Byron, though this was not my very favorite. Again, we’re all over the place. NE was by far the easiest and first for me (16 & 18a, 10, 11m 14d) etc. NW and SW *very* tough, in fact I started worrying about a DNF, until they both suddenly came to me. I liked the clue for 57a. Didn’t associate “ankh” with “key”–I think of it as a cross, but I guess it’s a life symbol or “key” as well. Don’t know Ms. Alexa. I guess the IMAC had an operating system called “Leopard” (?)

    I was less taken with the Stumper than some. The entire lower half was brutal brutal (sic!) for me. Why is “No” a clue for “Elem”? Is No an abbreviation of a chemical element? I can’t think which one. I don’t much like “Semiclassical” as a Gershwin descriptor. The term is almost meaningless, and pointlessly (even inaccurately) disparaging, besides. Of course, I don’t much like the expression “classical music” either, though it’s forced on me. I regard it as a retronym. It used to be just “music”. No one would have ever said of Mozart or Brahms or Schubert that they wrote “classical” music. Don’t know who “Renfro” I thought he was a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. John Newcombe and Tony Roche were perhaps the best tennis doubles team in history, though it’s hard to compare one era against another. I’m not sure an ocarina is so much an ancestor of the flute, as an old instrument which has similar sound production characteristics. But I guess that’s too much of a nit. “Cafe Restaurant” does not sound idiomatic to me. To me it’s like giving someone a birthday gift present, though I suppose you could say that a cafe is a variety of restaurant. Never occurred to me that “White Christmas” was set in an inn, but still, a fresh clue.

    Worst puzzle in 40 years???? Well, I guess I’m hardly one to complain about someone expressing a weird opinion or two.

    I’ve bit (bitten) the bullet and registered for the ACPT for the first time in several years. I look forward to seeing people again. Please help me (and I’m serious here–c.f. my post of a couple months ago)–by reminding me who you are the first time I encounter you so I can relearn you.


  19. Martin says:



  20. pannonica says:

    So, would two Martins be Martini?

  21. Martin says:

    Speaking of opinions, pannonica, I don’t get:
    I wonder if the spark plugs are part of an engine. They ignite the engine, but are they part of the engine itself?

    In what way is a spark plug not an engine part? It’s like asking if a fuel injector is part of an engine or just something that atomizes gas for an engine. I’m sure it’s a logical question somehow, but I’m afraid it escapes me.

  22. pannonica says:

    No, I’m sure I was simply far afield. Was thinking of the essential thing. Perhaps confusing motor with engine?

  23. Tuning Spork says:

    Oh, yeah, I meant to chime in with this last night, but I went to bed instead.

    The spark plugs don’t “ignite the engine” (like pulling the chord gets a lawnmower going). They ignite gasoline vapor in order to drive the pistons. …pow!pow!pow!pow!pow!pow!… Each thrust of a piston in caused by a spark plug wreaking havoc in the “flash hazard” zone that is that piston’s chamber and, so, is very much a working part of the engine.

    P.S. Maybe someone remembers this. Wasn’t there a car, years ago, that was so poorly designed that the engine had to be removed in order to change the spark plugs? I have a foggy memory of that being the case.

  24. pannonica says:

    Ooh, I actually knew that. Four-stroke (am now remembering a diagram from ages ago), blah blah blah. Thanks, all!

  25. Martin says:

    Pulling the engine is the easiest way to change the plugs on a lot of cars. Buick Skylarks (we called my mother’s a Skylard) and many SUVs are examples.

    It’s actually the norm on supercars because so much engine is shoehorned into the smallest space. A tuneup on a Mercedes SLR runs in the tens of thousands.

    The good news is that modern cars have longer-lasting plugs. 100,000 miles is a typical replacement interval now. My last car (not in the supercar class, but fast enough to get me into trouble often) had 24 plugs and I was careful to get rid of it before the plug change service came up.

  26. pannonica says:

    Perhaps this will be of interest to some (trying to redeem myself in things automotive):

    11 Low Points in Design & Engineering

  27. Tuning Spork says:

    Thanks, Martin, I had no idea. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a car where I couldn’t change my own spark plugs. Though, nowadays, I just shell out the few bucks and let someone else’s knuckles take the abuse. :-)

  28. Martin says:

    Back to serious matters.

    Gin is most certainly bruised. The British Medical Journal published a study on the greater deactivation of hydrogen peroxide in shaken martinis. For this reason, a shaken martini was judged superior from a health perspective. But the antioxidant power comes at a great cost. The long-chain esters and flavanoids that gin’s botanicals provide are also degraded, changing the flavor profile from the aromatic towards the bitter. This paper confirms that shaking has a greater effect on accelerated oxidation of aromatic compounds in the martini than aeration would.

    But you mention a reason that’s as important for being gentle with the gin: clarity. A cloudy martini? That notion causes so much pain that it has taken me this hour to recover.

    You can do as you wish to vodka, but gin abuse is unbearable.

  29. pannonica says:

    I didn’t know about the chemical reactions. Very interesting. I’ve always stirred mine and will continue to do so. We can both agree that the martini nebulosa is to be avoided.

    And of course the proper garnish is a (lemon) twist. Or perhaps a cucumber slice (for, say, Hendrick’s).

    addendum: Curious that the article references Bond throughout, but does the experiment with gin rather than vodka, his usual quaff. Favorite turn of phrase from the abstract: “The reason for this is not clear…”

  30. Epi-what? says:

    More Hook:

    As all epicures know, stock is not broth, nor is broth stock.

  31. Martin says:

    Epicures maybe, but the rest of us tend to use the words synonymously.

    Technically, the difference you assert is more in use than in makeup. I would call a “stock” a broth that is used as an ingredient. It may be reduced further than if it were to be eaten directly, but not necessarily.

  32. HH says:

    “As all epicures know, stock is not broth, nor is broth stock”

    Hey Epicure — Blame the dictionary compilers, not me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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