Wednesday, 4/4/12

NYT 4:56 
LAT 3:09 (Jeffrey: paper) 
CS 7:46! (Sam) 
Onion untimed 
Celebrity untimed 

Okay, this time I’m putting up the post before doing any of the puzzles. Y’all can rate the puzzles and comment on the puzzles; I’m in Mountain time where I won’t be back from dinner before the NYT comes out. (Edited to add: But you shouldn’t rate puzzles preemptively! Is the NYT rater someone who did the puzzle at last weekend’s Twin Cities crossword tournament or what?)

If anyone on Team Fiend wants to jump in and blog the NYT (and/or the Onion and/or the Celebrity “Wayback Wednesday” puzzle), please, be my guest!

Zoe Wheeler’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 4 4 12 0404

As someone who grew up with a Z last name, I think it’s perfect that Zoe Wheeler has a secretly Z-centric theme: Five words/phrases that have a Z get respelled into Z-free homophones. Boozehounds (super-colorful base phrase) turns into a verb phrase, BOOS HOUNDS. A fresh sea breeze goes cheesy with SEA BRIES. Penelope Cruz morphs into classical PENELOPE CREWS (and I hope there’s a real person by that name who ego-surfs and finds her name featured in the middle of the Times crossword). The word stargaze is promoted into STAR GAYS, exemplified currently by [Ricky Martin and Neil Patrick Harris?]. The former is heading to Broadway in Evita, you know; and both fellows are papas. Supersize (hello again, Morgan Spurlock) becomes dramatic SUPER SIGHS.

Small ding on the theme for STAR WARS crossing STAR GAYS (but it would be a masterstroke if it were STAR TREK at 27d, thanks to George Takei). Also not sure why 10d is clued as [Bit of makeup]; how is BLUSH a “bit”? As in “Oh, I don’t wear much makeup, just a bit of blush and a tinted lip balm”?

On the plus side, I like the inclusion of six8-letter answers in the fill and 16 6’s. WHIFFS and TWISTS sound good together, and “OH, SURE” is fun.

Four stars.

By the way, don’t give credence to my solving time as evidence that the puzzle is tough. It’s 11 p.m. and this laptop keyboard is uncomfortably high on this table. Plus, I’m at altitude. I haven’t acclimated like Al Sanders yet.

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Wed April 4 2012

Theme: GO WEST YOUNG MAN. The phrase is attributed to Horace Greeley.
Theme answers:
17A. [*Stand to reason] – GO WITHOUT SAYING. [–]
22A. [*Show with Sharks] – WEST SIDE STORY
47A. [*”The Impossible Dream” musical] – MAN OF LA MANCHA
54A. [19th-century American doctrine suggested by the phrase formed by the first words of the answers to starred clues] – MANIFEST DESTINY
1A. [“Survivor” host Probst] – JEFF
36A. [*Immature] – YOUNG AND FOOLISH

It’s all about me. Yes, in 1993, a YOUNG MAN named JEFF went WEST, to achieve fame and fortune in crossword blogging. All this puzzle needs is a Canadian music reference and a shout out to the Expos.

Other stuff:
16A. [“Groundhog Day” director Harold] – RAMIS. He also co-wrote and co-starred in “Ghostbusters”, but you never see that picture referenced in a crossword.
63A. [Canadian singer Murray] – ANNE. Hey!
2D. [Prefix with -thermic] – EXPO. Woo-hoo! (It’s my post, I can add letters if I want to)
22D. [“__ gonna call? Ghostbusters!”] – WHO YA. Ghostbusters co-starred and was co-written by Harold RAMIS, but you never see him mentioned in crosswords.
25D. [Go from blog to blog, say] – SURF. No! Don’t leave! Come back! We might have cake!

I selfishly give this **** stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Change of Temperature” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Solution to CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, April 4

Today marks Day 367 of my covering the CrosSynergy crossword. Yep, I started this daily gig a year ago today. I had hoped for some evidence of improvement in my solving skills to show for this work, and the crossword gods rewarded me with a sub-8:00 time on a Bob Klahn puzzle! I’m worried this will all turn out to be a belated April Fools gag–that it’s really a Lynn Lempel puzzle that ran with the wrong byline. But until that time, I’ll just bask in the self-congratulations.

The “change of temperature” alluded to in the title is the substitution of C (Celsius) for F (Fahrenheit) at the start of the second word in each of four common two-word expressions:

  • 17-Across: The ordinary “landing flap” becomes LANDING CLAP, the [Initial sound of approval after a touchdown?].
  • 28-Across: An “apple fritter” becomes an APPLE CRITTER, or a [Computer worm?].
  • 44-Across: My favorite twist is how “saturated fat” becomes a SATURATED CAT, a [Clawer caught in a cloudburst?]. Crikey, clever cluing, Klahn!
  • 59-Across: “Nobody’s fool” becomes NOBODY’S COOL, the [Exclamation upon entering a room full of nerds?].

There was lots of great (er, MARVY) fill, from SIT ON IT to MOUSETRAP to NAME IT to BANG-UP to SILENCER to MITER BOX. OEUVRE always gives me a mini-fit, as I can never seem to remember its proper spelling. But I still like to see it in puzzles once in a while.

These are a few of my favorite clues: (1) [Big finish in California?] for SUR, (2) The consecutive clues [Not go on] and [Go on and on] for CEASE and YAP, respectively, (3) [Person of intelligence?] for SPY, and (4) [Beer barrel poker] for TAP.

Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, Francis Heaney 4 4 12

Tricky theme to figure out, as it’s a nonstandard sort of rebus–a different set of letters each time that aren’t complete words, and can’t quite be replaced by numerals. ORDINATION, as in “making ordinal numbers,” is the name of the game:

  • 18a. {FIR}ST AID KITS, [They may contain gauze, tweezers, and bandages]
  • 23a. {SECO}ND-GUESSING, [Ignoring the axiom that “hindsight is 20/20”]
  • 46a. {THI}RD EYE BLIND, [“Semi-Charmed Life” band]

So those first words could be viewed as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but in the crossing answers the rebus squares have to contain FIR, SECO, and THI. Nuts, right?


  • Social media on the loose: RETWEETED and MEME.
  • Attitude: 35a. TRIO, [Maroon 5, if two members were crushed by a piano (hey, a guy can dream)]. Also, 53a. DEM, [Radical anti-Amer. socialist, per Rick Santorum].
  • Whimsy: 59a. TEMPE, [Arizona city or a misspelled meat substitute]. (That’s tempeh.)
  • Chattiness: 40a. TRY AS I MAY, [“Despite all my effort…”].
  • Sparkly fill: CRUI{SE CO}NTROL, TREMENDOUS, not-tremendous TIM AND ERIC (with a clue with attitude, again), SAWBONES, WI-{FI R}OUTER.
  • Cheekiness: 41d. SILO, [Phallic structure erected in a field]. Nice use of the word “erected.”

4.25 stars.

David Kahn’s Celebrity crossword, “Wayback Wednesday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 4 4 12 Kahn "Wayback Wednesday"

Those of you who have been shying away from the Celebrity crosswords because you view them as easy pop culture puzzles skewed toward a younger generation than your own, consider “Wayback Wednesday.” The themes on Wednesday tend to hit on ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s nostalgia, so you’ll be less likely to be expected to know a 2012 top-40 song. This week’s “Wayback” focus is that musical based on Romeo and Juliet:

  • 15a. WEST SIDE STORY, [1961 Bernstein/Sondheim musical that won 10 Academy Awards]
  • 22a. MARIA, [“I Feel Pretty” singer in 15-Across (played by Natalie Wood)]
  • 31a. SHARKS AND JETS, [The two gangs in 15-Across]
  • 38a. ANITA, [Bernardo’s girlfriend in 15-Across (played by Rita Moreno)]
  • 50a. LINCOLN CENTER, [Big Apple performing arts locale now on the site where some of 15-Across was filmed]

Additional “Wayback” content is strewn throughout the puzzle: Ed Norton’s SEWER, Muhammad ALI, RHODA Morgenstern, Casey KASEM, the Jetsons’ dog ASTRO, the original 1966 movie ALFIE starring Michael Caine. Zero knowledge of hip-hop or 21st-century action movie stars required.

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10 Responses to Wednesday, 4/4/12

  1. I did do the NYT last week at the TC tourney but I wasn’t the one who rated it; I would have rated it at least a 4, but I’ll wait til it’s published to comment on it.

  2. arthur118 says:

    When trying to submit my rating for Zoe’s Times puzzle, Crossword Fiend’s rating monitor is telling me I already voted. This was definitely a strong 4 and I’m sorry I couldn’t get to add my two cents.

  3. john farmer says:

    Either Amy is back or some Team Fiender who sounds like Amy has stepped in.

    Nicely done theme from Zoe Wheeler. A couple of years ago Zoe became the youngest woman constructor ever at the NYT. Now she’s of legal age so she can get away with a pun on “boozehounds.”

    Technically, those homophones can be called heterographs (same sound, different spelling). That’s consistent through the puzzle. The only inconsistency is that the first themer puns on the first word, the other four on the second, and ideally you’d like to see them all do it one way or the other (or two of one, three of the other). I can’t say I noticed till I was done, and my favorite (BOOS HOUNDS) was the odd man out, so I don’t really have a beef, just a quibble.

    I did have a chuckle with the crossing of MITT and TRON. One, of course, is a computer program that appears in the likeness of a human being. The other is a Disney film from 1982.

    Whenever I see FUN in a puzzle, I think of Arthur Wynne. Ninety-nine years later and still no one has blogged that puzzle. Maybe for its 100th?

  4. sps says:

    @ John Farmer: Right on.

  5. HH says:

    “Small ding on the theme for STAR WARS crossing STAR GAYS (but it would be a masterstroke if it were STAR TREK at 27d, thanks to George Takei).”

    Which, of course, it couldn’t’ve been because of that other R.

  6. Matthew G. says:

    Loved the NYT puzzle today. STAR GAYS was great. I tend to suspect that Neil Patrick Harris will approve.

    I also admire the crossing of I SEE with TWISTS, given that the former is clued with a line from a movie famous for its twist endings.

  7. JaxInL.A. says:

    Not, of course, that I want to make extra work for anyone… But is the there a reason that there’s no mention on this site of Liz Gorski’s twice-weekly Crossword Nation puzzles?

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Jax, the available crosswords are proliferating now that more constructors are taking advantage of web and mobile options for self-publishing, yes, but there are only so many hours in the day for unpaid labors. To add more puzzles, I need more bloggers to write those reviews.

    @HH: Of course STAR TREK would fit. It would just require rejiggering the entire grid layout.

  9. HH says:

    @Amy — Point taken, but I can’t handle much more than one jigger at a time.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @HH: Me either. I’m on medication.

Comments are closed.