Tuesday, 4/17/12

NYT 3:27 
Jonesin' untimed 
LAT 3:31 (Neville) 
CS 5:23 (Sam) 
Celebrity untimed 

* Check back later for reviews.

Milo Beckman’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 4 17 12 0417

Did you avoid clicking on the notepad in the electronic versions of this puzzle, or avert your eyes from that paragraph in the print or PDF versions? It really is not that hard to figure out, if you ask me. YOU ARE HERE on a map, USE OTHER DOOR on a sign, I’M WITH STUPID on a t-shirt, and THIS SIDE UP on a box are all accompanied by an arrow, and the circled letters spell out (and trace the shape of) an ARROW.

The highlight of the theme isn’t the arrow gimmick—it’s the inclusion of the answer I’M WITH STUPID. Has anyone ever lined up a whole bunch of people wearing those shirts? And is there collusion in the marketplace? Are the shirts’ arrows always pointing the same way, or could you fight back against your “friend’s” lefty arrow by wearing a righty? If you have worn one of these shirts after the age of 16, I bet…you are not reading this blog.

Second highlight: TOMORROW is clued as the [Day when procrastination ends, supposedly] (italics mine). Sometimes it will supposedly end today, but first I just need to check one thing, and I should start a load of laundry while I’m thinking about it, and I could use a little snack.
I can’t believe how challenging the pair of [Pair of __] clues were. PANTS and SOCKS? Hey! I wear those.

CHIP AWAY and AHOY remind me to warn you: Don’t keep a box of Tagalong Girl Scout cookies open for too long without finishing them. The innards lose their crunch.

On the down side, French EN AMI and Latin URBS seem a hair much for a Tuesday puzzle, and we see RAN AT far more in crosswords than in the rest of life.

Three stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Who’s in Charge Here?”

You know that feeling you get when you finish a puzzle and you understand the theme just fine, but you’ve never heard of half the theme entries? I had that feeling here:

  • 20a. STAGE DIRECTOR, [Big shot overseeing metamorphoses?]. Understood!
  • 27a. CHIEF BENDER, [Big shot in the flexible straw industry?]. I think Matt G told me that Chief Bender was a baseball player. Never saw the name in my life before this puzzle.
  • 46a. OPENING LEAD, [Big shot in charge of locksmiths?]. (a) I don’t think of a “lead” as a boss so much as a star, and (b) OPENING LEAD meant nothing to me. I think Matt G told me this one’s a bridge term.
  • 53a. HEAD OF LETTUCE, [Big shot in the salad factory?]. Understood! But “salad factory” frightens me. Another Dole bagged salad salmonella recall reminds us that we should make salad in our kitchens from a HEAD OF LETTUCE rather than buying bagged greens (and if we’re lazy and buy the pre-washed lettuce, we should still wash it again anyway).

Speaking of making salad, there’s more food and cooking in here:

  • 3d. POTATO CAKE, [Arby’s side item]. Is this like a McDonald’s hash brown, a potato pancake, multi-tiered tater confection, or what?
  • 4d. LUIGI, [He wears green and eats mushrooms]. He can have my share of mushrooms.
  • 6a. JAVA, [Coffeehouse drink]. Luigi can have my coffee too.
  • 36a. ACAI, [Big berry]. Still haven’t tried the berry, its juice, or any of the products made with it.
  • 59d. PBJ, [Sandwich with the crusts cut off]. My kid’s OK with crusts.
  • 35d. OVEN-READY, [Heat ‘n’ eat] / 42a. NUKED, [Stuck in the microwave].
  • 34a. ECCO [___ Domani wine]. Luigi, hands off.
  • 28d. ICING, [Cupcake topper]. Really, it’s frosting. Mostly buttercream. Icing is thinner stuff entirely, and I think it’s time crosswords stopped lying to us about this.

2.75 stars because I find half the theme to be needlessly obscure. Feel free to rate it higher yourself if you find me to be needlessly ill-informed.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 4 17 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 4 17 12

Five full-fledged theme entries in Tuesday puzzle (plus a tiny connector) – who could ask for anything more? Let’s get the BALL rolling.

  • 18a. [*Hangman drawing] – STICK FIGURE (roller hockey)
  • 24a. [*Layered lunch] – CLUB SANDWICH (golf)
  • 40a. [*Actor’s prompt] – CUE CARD (billiards)
  • 51a. [*Colleague of Wyatt Earp] – BAT MASTERSON (cricket, in honor of our South African constructor)
  • 61a. [*Feature of Fulton’s Clermont] – PADDLE WHEEL (table tennis)
  • 57d. [*Object that may be struck by the starts of the answers to the starred clues] – BALL

Great puzzle by Gareth today. Nice phrases – theme and otherwise. Look at this: COP A PLEA, MEDIUM RARE. Look at the slang: FELLER, CHEAPO, MOOLA. And there’s POOP. Okay, perhaps that’s not in the same category.

Sure, SWE. isn’t that nice, but as I’ve had “Does Your Mother Know” stuck in my head since yesterday, I’m partial to the clue [ABBA’s home country: Abbr.]. No love for ETUIS, though.

How did we have HAM and EMOTE crossing each other without a cross-referenced clue? Maybe because Gareth likes us? Seems plausible enough. I can’t help but think DORY would’ve looked better next to NEMO. Rigging that might’ve been worth a TRY.

OKEY-dokey, that’s enough of a RANT from me.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “No Explanation Necessary” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Solution to CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, April 17

Given the puzzle’s title, I feel a little sheepish about explaining and commenting on the theme. But here goes: the four longest Across entries form a Yiddish proverb: IF YOU DON’T WANT / TO DO SOMETHING, / ONE EXCUSE IS AS / GOOD AS ANOTHER. It follows, then, that if you aren’t doing something, it doesn’t really matter why. Is the lesson here that if someone asks me why I didn’t do something, my reply should be, “It doesn’t really matter why?” If so, I’m guessing the divorce rate among the Yiddish is a bit higher than average.

When I first glanced at the completed grid, I thought the central 7, TOASTED, might have been part of the proverb. It wasn’t, of course, as it had its own clue: [Performed a wedding emcee’s function, perhaps]. But the more I think about it, the more I like IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DO SOMETHING TOASTED, ONE EXCUSE IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER. Side note: Is there such a thing as a “wedding emcee?” There’s the ceremonial officiant, whether a religious figure or local official. But the officiant usually doesn’t offer a toast at the wedding–that comes at the reception, where the toast comes from the best man, the maid/matron of honor, or perhaps the parents of the bride or groom.

At times my fingers couldn’t type as fast as I could solve, but there were some sticking points. TAXCO is a [Mexican silverwork center]? Sure, I’ll take your word for it. (But I like that something TAX-related found its way into the grid on the federal tax filing deadline day.) I know I’ve seen ILONA [Massey of old movies] two or three times in crosswords past, but I still had trouble remembering her name. And it didn’t help that I kept wanting CUNY as the [Big Apple sch.] over CCNY.

Fortunately, working through many past puzzles paid off in the southeast corner. Newer solvers should get to know Roger REES from “Cheers” (he played Kirstie Alley’s temporary love interest, Robin Colcord), ERTE, the [Harper’s Bazaar illustrator], and the vintage REOS. You’ll see them all again from time to time (especially ERTE and REOS). Other bits you’ll want to tuck away for later use include SERA, SASE, IDE, GAR, ENIAC, ILIE Nastase, MITRE (and its American cousin, MITER), and author BRET Harte (in the view of many, the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be).

I liked a lot of the non-theme entries, especially DRAW ME, SAID NO TO, CRUNCHY, and THE BEE GEES. So while the concentration of Crosswordese was a bit too strong for my tastes, I feel that they served their most useful purpose: allowing for livelier longer entries.

Doug Peterson’s Celebrity crossword, “TV Tuesday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 4 17 12 "TV Tuesday" Peterson

My family watched the first few episodes of today’s Celeb puzzle topic but then we lost interest (we had room in our hearts for only one genre TV show related to fairy tales, and it’s the darker Grimm). I hope it does well, though.

  • 15a. ONCE UPON A TIME, [ABC fantasy TV series set in Storybrooke, Maine: 4 wds.]
  • 25a. SNOW WHITE, [15-Across schoolteacher’s fairy tale counterpart: 2 wds.]. Played by Ginnifer Goodwin.
  • 34a. EVIL QUEEN, [15-Across mayor’s fairy tale counterpart: 2 wds.]. Not an actress I knew (Lana Parrilla).
  • 47a. JIMINY CRICKET, [15-Across therapist’s fairy tale counterpart: 2 wds.]. This character hadn’t been introduced yet when I stopped watching.

Highlights in the fill include UNION DUES crossing NUDIST (I wonder if Doug tried making these UNION SUIT and its opposite, NUDITY), AMBULANCE (we don’t get too many of these 9-letter answers in the 13×13 Celeb grids), and the unforced Scrabbliness of ZITI and the crossings of 34a’s Q and 47a’s J and K.



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17 Responses to Tuesday, 4/17/12

  1. John E says:

    If this was someone’s first NYT, they would be hooked. Not hard at all, but a lot of fun.

    When I was a kid, I had a shirt that on both the front and back said “See Other Side”. The guys thought it was dumb, but the girls loved to spin me around in circles (which of course I didn’t mind at all). Good times…..

  2. Jared says:

    Advice: Keep not trying acai products. I can think of fewer things more unpalatable than the acai smoothie I ordered once.

  3. Old Geezer says:

    Potato cakes from Arby’s were originally called Tri-taters. They were introduced with the Tater Tot, and both are made with the same stuff (leftover pieces of wannabe fries), but the cakes are shaped like a regular right-triangle [isocoles]. They are heavy and greasy (and decadent, as well, especially doused in horsey sauce!).

    Good grief. I eat that stuff???

  4. Gareth says:

    Someone needs to make underpants that say “I’m with stupid” with an arrow pointing up… Actually somebody probably has!

  5. pannonica says:

    Long ago I thought of making a t-shirt with the arrow pointing downward. For guys, obviously.

    This must have been made, by now.

  6. HH says:

    Or, for a guy out with his wife/girlfriend, an arrow that says “She’s With Stupid”.

  7. JanglerNPL says:

    My very first published puzzle had the theme of today’s LAT, minus the BALL entry. STICK SHIFT/PADDLE BOAT/BATMOBILE/CLUB SODAS/CUE CARD…only one entry the same between them. It also had IBI clued as {Ubi fumus, ___ ignis (where there’s smoke, there’s fire)}, for which I am ever ashamed.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Sam, the wedding MC might be the best man or the DJ. There’s plenty of advice on the internet for wedding MCs (as I learned when researching a clue for MCS). In Chicagoland, it was (and may still be) popular for the MC to introduce the arriving members of the wedding party as if they were members of the Chicago Bulls entering the United Center, complete with the Bulls’ music and dramatic lighting (smoke machine optional).

  9. Gareth says:

    @Jeffrey: Where was that?

  10. KarmaSartre says:

    I’m with arrow.

  11. joon says:

    strangely polarizing ratings on today’s NYT. nothing like kevin’s sunday puzzle, of course, but i can’t see why this one would have been marked down by anyone. to me it’s a near-perfect tuesday puzzle. the theme works great, with all four answers really sharp (and of course I’M WITH STUPID ftw). the fill was pretty good (EN AMI and URBS, sure, but that’s hardly a death knell) and the cluing was unusually interesting, i thought. what am i missing?

  12. ArtLvr says:

    I’m with joon — thought the NYT a very good Tuesday! And I liked Gareth’s LAT — smiled at the POOP, and my only hitch was trying cheesy before CHEAPO!

  13. JanglerNPL says:

    @Gareth: the New York Times.

  14. Jeff Chen says:

    IM WITH STUPID and STICK FIGURE! Fun diversions today.

    I agree with Joon that the NYT is very good (although USE OTHER DOOR took me about a full minute to figure out). I was left wondering, however, why the arrow was pointing NE rather than up or to one side. Nit picky, but that’s why I didn’t give it a five.

    Off to the intertubes to see if I can’t buy some “I’M WITH STUPID” underpants.


  15. Jeffrey says:

    Nothing to add. I just wanted to keep the Jeffrey streak going. Three in a row!

  16. jefe says:

    Quibble with the Celebrity – MEGA Man is a Capcom franchise, not a Nintendo franchise.

Comments are closed.