Tuesday, 3/27/12

NYT  untimed (Doug) 
LAT 3:53 (Neville) 
CS 5:51 (Sam) 
Jonesin' untimed 
Celebrity untimed 

Todd McClary’s New York Times crossword – Doug’s review

Todd McClary's NY Times solution - 3/27/12

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. Amy’s taking a well-deserved night off, so you’re stuck with me.

My first time blogging the NY Times in ages, and I get a Todd McClary puzzle. Nice! Todd’s known for his clever themes, and today’s is a doozy. The long entry at 62-Across is the key: [Gather wealth by exploitation … as hinted at by this puzzle’s circled squares?] – FEATHER ONE’S NEST.

As you can see in my handy solution grid, Todd’s included three birds (ROBIN, LOON, HERON) who have indeed been feathering their nests. And in each case, the feathers are clued in a way that doesn’t suggest a nest:

  • 20a. [Smoke column] – PLUME.
  • 45a. [Depressed] – DOWN.
  • 67a. [Declaration of independence signer?] – QUILL.

My favorite part of the whole thing might be that HERON is actually part of FEATHER ONE’S NEST. That’s an elegant touch.

While I’m on the subject of Todd’s cleverness, I should point out that he periodically posts “Unthemely” puzzles on his blog, The Autofill Project. High-quality themeless puzzles with loads of fresh vocabulary. Check them out.

Some cool stuff in the rest of the puzzle too.

  • 36a. [Disc-shaped vacuum cleaner from iRobot] – ROOMBA. Now that’s a fresh entry.
  • 57a. [La Salle of “ER”] – ERIQ. Has he been in any shows besides ER? Let’s see…Wikipedia tells me that he plays the psychiatrist E-Mo in A Gifted Man. E-Mo? This guy’s good at getting into crossword grids.
  • 66a. [It may be used with a plunger] – TNT. Great clue.
  • 68a. [Online memo] – E-NOTE. Not my favorite entry. It’s there to facilitate the inclusion of the flashy XANAX, but E-NOTE doesn’t show up much outside of crosswords.
  • 1d. [Measure for a batter? Abbr.] – TSP. Cake batter, e.g. Another great clue. I appreciate constructors & editors who put extra effort into cluing old crossword standbys.
  • 33d. [Privately] – ON THE QT. Love this entry. The phrase reminds me of Danny DeVito’s character’s catchphrase from one of my favorite movies, L.A. Confidential: “Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.”
  • 56d. [“We’re Not ___ Take It” (“Tommy” Tune)] – GONNA. I remember the remake by Twisted Sister. I’ll spare you by not posting the video.

Is that it? I think we’re done. See you in the comments.

Gary Steinmehl’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 3 27 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 3 27 12

Some sad news accompanies the byline in the Across Lite version of this puzzle. Gary Steinmehl, writer of hundreds of puzzles across various venues, passed away at the end of January. You can read a detailed obituary here. Let’s have a brief moment of silence for Gary before getting to today’s puzzle.





  • 20a. [The smile on an email happy face] – PARENTHESIS
  • 37a. [Barrier-breaking noise] – SONIC BOOM
  • 56a. [Exalted group leader, facetiously] – GRAND POOBAH
  • 65a. [Encouraging cry, such as the one formed by the ends of 20-, 37- and 56-Across] – CHEER

A basic Tuesday theme – no complaints here. I’m glad CHEER was in the grid, as I’m not sure I would’ve seen the common bond without it. I’d have liked to see RAH RAH to start it out (begorrah? menorah?), but that might’ve been too much for keeping symmetry and order. I still like it.

Hey, who expected ANTARES and TENACE crossing in a Tuesday? What’s more, the word tenace is made up of two card ranks. That’s pretty neat. Having the clue as [Bridge holding such as ace-queen] maybe wasn’t the best choice with ace hiding in the answer? It gets the job done.

My favorite entry in this grid is HEAVE-HO. I hadn’t heard the term [Bum’s rush] before, but it’s just like walking papers. You’re outta here! The clue [Teen haunts] hardly seems timely for ARCADES. The last time I saw an arcade was on vacation in Ocean City, MD. It was less a teen haunt and more a breeding ground for bacteria. (That didn’t stop me from getting my Skee-ball on, though!) I guess Pac-man Fever’s going into remission these days.

Aimee Lucido’s Celebrity crossword, “TV Tuesday”

Celebrity crossword answers, 3 27 12

Today’s television theme was one of those I had to rely on the crossings to get. A show I’ve never heard of is the topic:

  • 13a. CARTOON, [With 50-Across, cable station that broadcasts 29-Across]
  • 18a. RAINICORN, [Lady ___ (Jake the dog’s girlfriend on 29-Across)]
  • 29a. ADVENTURE TIME, [Animated TV series with Jake the dog and Finn the human: 2 wds.]
  • 39a. ALGEBRAIC, [Finn’s exclamation in 29-Across]
  • 50a. NETWORK, [See 13-Across]

I know Cartoon Network! But that is where my knowledge of this theme ended. My kid doesn’t watch this show, I don’t think. Maybe it’s on Adult Swim after his bedtime? No, it’s rated TV-PG. The animation looks funky. This show should get super-popular! You know why? Because the show’s fictional continent is the “Land of Ooo,” and crossword constructors could use an alternative to [Winning tic-tac-toe line] for cluing OOO.

Thumbs up to Aimee for putting George CLOONEY in the grid. Plus more 7s, including NIBBLES and INFERNO.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Drink Up”

Jonesin' "Drink Up" crossword solution, 3 27 12

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when life gives you Cheech Marin … well, you know what to do.

  • 17a. STORY ARCADE, [Where to play games like Little Red Riding Kombat and Jack and Jill’s Skee-Ball?]
  • 23a. CHEECH MARINADE, [Meat preparation in “Up in Smoke”?]
  • 34a. “IS IT JUST MEADE?,” [Question from viewers if TV’s Robin will get a cohost?]
  • 48a. MENTAL BLOCKADE, [Imaginary cutoff of supplies?]
  • 54a. ABOVE PARADE, [Where cartoon character-shaped balloons fly?]

I like the sounds-like-it’s-almost-a-real-phrase MENTAL BLOCKADE and I’m crazy about that CHEECH MARINADE answer. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Favorite non-theme entry: 46a: B-MOVIE, [Flick where you might see planets held up by fishing line]. Word to the wise: Those are small models of planets. Real planets are notoriously difficult to hook up to fishing line.

Four stars.
Updated Tuesday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Front Burner” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, March 27

Today’s puzzle is so smokin’, I had to wait a few hours for it to cool down before I could post this write-up. (Yeah, let’s say that’s why I’m late with this review.) 65-Down tells us that HOT is [All the rage – and a word that can precede each part of 20-, 39-, and 56-Across]. Sure enough, you could sneak a “HOT” not once but three times into each theme entry:

  • 20-Across: HEADLINE TOPIC (hot head, hotline, hot topic) is [The latest celbrity transgression, say?].
  • 39-Across: WATERBED SPRINGS (hot water, hotbed, hot springs) is a [Hydro-mattress support?].
  • 56-Across: CORNER TUB SEAT (hot corner, hot tub, hot seat) is the [Cozy spot in a spa?] (I could make a case for the spot on a massage table as being cozier, but that’s not the point.) Not familiar with “hot corner?” That’s third base. Not familiar with third base? It’s an ambiguous situation that’s more than kissing but just this shy of, um, well, gee. Scoring?

It’s a little weird that the first two “hot” words in the first two theme entries form a compound word but the first two words remain separate in the third theme entry. That may seem picayune, but I’ve learned it’s the little details like that to which some crossword editors pay close attention.

That microscopic nit is the only (very small) blemish on an otherwise fun theme in a grid that has some great stuff. I love LIGHT INTO and ON THE TAKE, both very conversational terms that nicely counter some of the more URBANE entries like The ILIAD, Jane EYRE, and stuff like ERELONG. I thought the clue for the advertising award, CLIO, was terrific: [Award given to the creators of Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man” ad]. Great contemporary reference, even if I hate that particular commercial. My favorite clue, though, was [Bottled spirits] for GENII. You’ve got to rub them the right way.

Stay solving, my friends.

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12 Responses to Tuesday, 3/27/12

  1. RIP “Pops” Steinmehl. I’m currently solving a book of old Sun puzzles on the side and his name pops up frequently. Solid constructor and one that will be missed.

  2. I got Natick’d by the ERIQ/ONTHEQT crossing in the NYT. “On the QT” is just not a phrase that I’m familiar with; I considered ERIc, ERIk, and ERIn, but all of “On the CT”, “On the KT”, and “On the NT” made just as little sense.

  3. cyberdiva says:

    I enjoyed the NYTimes puzzle. Thought it was pretty fresh and pleasantly challenging for a Tuesday. I’d never heard of “Poker legend Ungar” (48A), but STU was nonetheless a gimme for me, since I had come upon his full name as the answer to a clue in another puzzle I had done only an hour or two earlier. What are the odds on that?

  4. Richard says:

    @cyberdiva – The puzzle you reference was the 3/16 one in the CHE, which I also did today. Note that the constructor is the same with both puzzles, which probably increases the odds of this somewhat obscure answer. There was one other overlap between these two puzzles, both involving the role of the VP in the senate. The CHE one had TIE be the answer to when a VP is needed and the one today had VPS as the answer to who breaks ties in the senate.

  5. Nina says:

    Thanks for the obituary, Neville. Sounds like he was a great guy.
    I found the NYT puzzle very challenging for a Tuesday, but finished with some lucky guesses.

  6. Daniel Myers says:

    Just for the, ahem, record, the Twisted Sister song is NOT a “remake” of the classic Who tune: completely different lyrics, chords etc. It just happens to share the same name…unfortunately for admirers of Pete Townshend’s groundbreaking rock opera.

  7. Doug says:

    @Daniel – Just kidding on the remake comment. I wanted to make sure everyone was paying attention. My readers tend to drift off in the middle of my write-ups.

  8. Daniel Myers says:

    @Doug—Quite alright. Your write-up was superb, and the “remake” remark had the effect of sending me off to YouTube to listen to that Who tune for the first time since…Well, quite a while!….And I have no qualms about posting the link to it on this glorious Spring morning:


  9. Bananarchy says:

    Crazy, I just remembered about McClary’s Autofill Project this morning and read over the last few posts before taking a look at the NYT. Quite the project, but it seems to be paying off. Neat theme, too. Disappointed to see PRIMUS get a boring Latin clue, personally, but Will knows what he’s doing.

  10. janie says:

    >It’s a little weird that the first two “hot” words in the first two theme entries form a compound word but the first two words remain separate in the third theme entry.

    see, and as i read/saw the words in the theme fill (okay — with an exception of the very first line), i thought there was also a before-and-after thing goin’ on. to wit: HEADLINE / LINE TOPIC (er, TOPIC LINE…); WATERBED / BED SPRINGS; CORNER TUB / TUB SEAT (yes — these are real things!).

    still — nifty theme no matter how ya parse it — imoo!


  11. ArtLvr says:

    I liked all the themes today – FEATHER ONE’S NEST, SIS-BOOB-BAH, HOT STUFF… but in Tony Orbach’s my teensy quibble would have been the ERE LONG crossing AS LONG. It made one wonder if one or the other weren’t wrong! Led to a small mental blockade… But congrats to all the constructors anyway, very fresh and much fun!

  12. Old Geezer says:

    Actually, I find planet Earth quite easy to hook up to a fishing line. Most often, it is an underwater growth sticking out of the planet that I attach to, although I’m really trying to attach to the fauna that habitate it.

Comments are closed.