Friday, 5/18/12

NYT 5:29 
LAT untimed 
CS 5:40 (Sam) 
WSJ (Friday) 12:29 (pannonica) 

Allan Parrish’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 5 18 12 0518

Hey! Did you notice the mini-theme? I totally missed the great one in this week’s Fireball puzzle by Peter Gordon (did you ever notice that GIUSEPPE VERDI and MEAN JOE GREENE have essentially the same names in Italian and English?) but I made up for it by catching the anagrams at the end of the three longest entries: OFFENSIVE REMARK, COSMO KRAMER, and PERMANENT MARKER. (Loved the clue for the last of the three: [Bad tool for a toddler to find].) Now, I think “mini-theme” is defined as two long answers that are somehow related in an otherwise themeless puzzle, so this trio is a 150% mini-theme.

Solving highlights:

  • 15a. OMERTA clued as a [Code that’s dangerous to break].
  • The tableau suggested by the STRANGER/PIERCED/YONKERS corner.
  • 37d. MRS. PAUL, second only to Mrs. Dash in the supermarket Mrs. category.
  • 5a. “MMM BOP,” the [1997 #1 hit with a nonsense title]. Became obvious with the B and P in place once I realized the year didn’t say 2007.
  • 19a. REN with a “You eediot!” clue. (Italics mine. For proper emphasis.)
  • Two fresh clues relating to corporate entities: 10d: PARENT is clued as [Adidas vis-a-vis Reebok], and 49d: PETCO is the [Retail giant with the mascots Red Ruff and Blue Mews].

Crosswordese on parade: Archaic ANENT ([Apropos of]) and chemical ENOL ([Organic compound]).

The Roman numeral is a Roman numeral, but at least solvers can get MMII as [When the Salt Lake City Olympics took place]. No “year of the pope” clue here. SASE, UIE, and OTERI aren’t great fill but they’re not big offenders. Overall, it’s a pretty clean 68-word grid.

Question: How on earth does … oh, okay, I get it now. 39a: [Wish] clues PLEASE because the two words can fit into the phrase “if you wish / if you please.” I don’t know that “please” is really serving as a proper verb in that phrase. I guess it is. But I think this clue/answer combo is going to have a lot of people scratching their heads.

Liked the puzzle okay, didn’t love it. 3.5 stars.

Donna Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 18 12

I think I understand the theme but that there’s a major inconsistency at 25a. Yes? No? I’d love to know if I’m missing something obvious. Four of the five theme answers, or maybe all five, are made by changing a word in a familiar phrase to a sound-alike (or sound-similar) word that’s a shortened name for a dog breed:

  • 17a. CHOW BELLA, [Blue-tongued dog in the canine version of the “Twilight” series?]. Playing on the Italian “ciao, bella!” (basically “bye, lovely”).
  • 25a. MATZO ROTTIE, [Powerful dog that loves a Passover staple?]. Is this one playing on Maserati or some quasi-familiar “matzo ___” term I’ve never heard? By the by, I have only barely heard of “Rottie” as shorthand for Rottweiler, or maybe not heard it at all.
  • 37a. LAB DANCES, [Rumbas for retrievers?]. Lap dances. Dogs love lap dances, especially if they can stick their noses in people’s crotches. More of a pronunciation change here than with CHOW, PEKE, and POM.
  • 51a. SNEAKS A PEKE, [Engages in toy dog smuggling?]. Sneaks a peek.
  • 61a. POM READER, [Scholarly little Spitz?]. Plays on “palm reader.” I didn’t know spitzes were Pomeranians.

I remain perplexed by 25a. Donna’s themes are usually rock-solid so I figure I’m missing something here.


  • 9d. PORPOISE, [Mammal whose name derives from the Latin words for “pig” and “fish”]. Pork + Pisces = dolphin fun.
  • 64a. KREWE, [Mardi Gras parade group]. Sometimes I’m a sucker for nutty spellings.
  • 57a. RHINO, [Nepal rumbler]. Figured the answer would be a volcano, not a large mammal! The Indian rhinoceros, specifically. I didn’t know Nepal had lowlands as well as Himalayan mountains.
  • SHIATSU and SANFORD & Son (not Sanford, FL) are also nice.

30d. [1993 Best Mexican-American Album Grammy winner] clues SELENA. Disney Channel star and pop/dance singer Selena Gomez may well have eclipsed the late Selena in fame, and I can’t wait for crossword clues to catch up. Gomez has had three gold-record albums and three platinum-record singles, and she is a current celebrity. Is that not enough to break the Selena clue hegemony? (Wikipedia tells us Gomez’s parents named her after the late Tejano singer, so you could even include both singers in a clue.)

For 5a: [Stare open-mouthed], I filled in GA*E and waited for the crossing to tell me whether it was GAPE or GAZE. Then 7d: [Chopin work] turned out to be WALTZ, not ETUDE, so I made 5a GAWK. But then the mysterious 8d: [“Phaedo” philosopher] looked like KLATO, so I changed it to PLATO and asked myself, “Is GAWP really a word??” And indeed it is. Not sure I knew that.

Three stars, or maybe more if MATZO ROTTIE is indeed consistent with the other theme answers.

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Foreign Exchange” — pannonica’s review

WSJ • 5/18/12 • "Foreign Exchange" • Fri • Ross • solution

The “exchange” of the title doesn’t refer to the (108a) EURO [Coin that debuted in 2002], nor to the (50a) [Old Italian bread] LIRE, so no need to set your GPS for the nearest Thomas Cook. No, for the purposes of this theme, the second word of each alliterative original two-word phrase has been swapped out for a homophone. Each leading word is the adjectival form of a place name.

  • 23a. [Complaint from Clouseau?] FRENCH WHINE (wine).
  • 28a. [Jidda Jedi?] ARABIAN KNIGHTS (nights, as in (Tales from) the Thousand and One).
  • 46a. [Share in a Basel business?] SWISS STAKE (steak). nb: Swiss steak does not look like Minute Steak™ with holes in it.
  • 61a. [West End walkways?] BRITISH AISLES (Isles). This one’s a bit weird, because the original phrase describes the place itself.
  • 76a. [Old lady in Luxor?] EGYPTIAN MOMMY (mummy). I know that “old man” is nickname for one’s father (or, sometimes, husband), but I’m not familiar with the use of “old lady” for mother, although I have seen it used for wife. Truth is, I don’t care for either version in any metaphorical context.
  • 94a. [Shanghai shirt?] CHINESE TEE (tea). I have very rarely encountered that term, unless one is talking (economically?) about all the tea in China. Mostly it’s more specific, by type (e.g., black, white, green) or variety (e.g., lapsang souchong, oolong, pu-erh).
  • 107a. [Roomer south of the Rio Grande?] MEXICAN BOARDER (border). Similar to, but not quite as blatant as 61a; I guess you can say this one’s on the edge.
  • 118a. [Agreement in the Antilles?] CARIBBEAN SÍ (sea).
  • 42d. [Maker of Colosseum calls?] ROMAN UMPIRE (Empire).
  • 36d. [Activity on Qom courses?] PERSIAN GOLF (Gulf).

First, that’s a healthy amount of theme content. Nine entries, 108 squares. Now, I’ve already quibbled with BRITISH AISLES and MEXICAN BOARDER, but there’s some more. Most of the entries are nations, but a few aren’t. The countries of the Arabian Peninsula comprise Arabia; that’s Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, and of course Saudi Arabia, where Jibba is located. The Antilles include the Lesser and Greater Antilles of the Carribean; that’s… actually, that’s too many to name here, so if you’re interested, have a peek at the Wikipedia page. As you will notice, the official languages of the islands comprising the Antilles include French, Portuguese, and English, in addition to Spanish. Last, Persia is no longer an official nation and is nowadays called IRAN, (120a) [Azerbaijan neighbor]. All right, it’s bad enough that there’s a distracting country name in a puzzle with such a theme (see also, NIGER (74a)), but this one steps all over the toes of one of the theme entries; very disconcerting.

So, the theme is loosey-goosey, which isn’t a sin, and can sometimes be worthwhile if the payoff is transcendent, but none of the puns felt particularly fresh or clever, making this puzzle feel every inch (and minute) the 21×21 that it is.

Taking a break from disparagement, there’s quite a lot of fill to like. The longer answers include RUFFIANS, RINGTONE, Daphne DU MAURIER, non-partial RICE-A-RONI, OPEN-TOE, FORGET IT [“No offense taken”], the all-common-letters-but-still-interesting ITINERANT, SKIP A BEAT, and ONE-HORSE [Hardly sprawling]. The cluing has the typical spunk of Shenkovian EDITS (123a).


  • I liked how the vertical SARASOTA SAILs down the center to the similar sounding SAPSAGO.
  • Also sibilant are the symmetrical acrosses REPOSSESSED and ESSAY TEST.
  • Names! People’s names! We got ’em! Billy JOEL, IGORS Stravinksy and Sikorsky, THEO Huxtable, AHMAD Rashad, DU MAURIER, Chrissie HYNDE, the RENOS Janet and Jesse (no Jean?), ALFS Kjellin and Landon, TERI Hatcher, LOIS Lane, DEBI Mazar, YVES Montand, Captain AHAB (factette*: surname is Thacklewaite), and crossword mainstay ERMA Bombeck.
  • Some unusual words in the grid: ATMAN [Hindu soul], RAREE [Carnival peep show], PESACH [Seder time], SAPSAGO [Hard cheese flavored with clover], LEMNOS [Site of Hephaestus’s forge] (factette: Vulcan, the Roman analogue, had his forge at Etna).
  • Could do without either (18a) LED IN or (65a) SET IN, or both.
  • A sampling of clue highlights:
    • 79a [Hefty item] BAG.
    • 26d [Something inspired] AIR.
    • 73d [Hole in one’s shoe] EYELET.
    • 41a [Piehole] TRAP.
    • 58a. [Gambler’s giveaway] TELL.
  • Favorite clue, for intangible reasons: 19a [Clear __ (not clear at all)] AS MUD. I know, it’s a fill-in-the-blank partial, but I’m partial to it. What can I say?

Average puzzle, overall.

*not intended to be a true factette.

Public Service Announcement: I’ve just discovered a “feature” in Across Lite. Even if a puzzle is not constructed as a rebus puzzle, any letter can be substituted with a numeral that begins with that letter. That’s to say, anywhere O appears in a grid, it can be replaced with a 1. And so on:

• E = 8
• F = 4 or 5
• N = 9
• O = 1
• S = 6 or 7
• T = 2 or 3
• Z = 0

Perhaps constructors were already aware of this, but it was definitely a happenstance novelty for me.

Updated Friday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Double Occupancy” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, May 18

According to 69-Across, ROOM is an [Interior space, and what can follow each part of 17-, 28-, 46-, and 60-Across]. Those entries are all two-word terms, and sure enough, each word in those entries is a type of room. After a while it’s like a game of Clue: Bruce Venzke did it with a pencil in one of eight ROOMs. Here are the theme entries:

  • 17-Across: The [Wellesley structure] is a WOMEN’S DORMITORY. The co-ed dorm there proved to be a waste of money. A-a-a-anyway, that one has a “women’s room” and a “dormitory room.” Isn’t the latter almost universally known just as a “dorm room?” They’re smart and everything at Wellesley, but even there I’d consider betting a major organ that students refer to them as “dorm rooms.”
  • 28-Across: The [Peer panel in action] is a SITTING JURY, a synthesis of “sitting room” and “jury room.” Did you ever notice how a jury sits but the witness stands? (No, I’m not especially proud of that one. Thanks for asking.) I like how this one changes the meaning of “sitting.” I wish the others did something similar to this too.
  • 46-Across: The [Industrial Revolution power source] is a STEAM ENGINE. That’s your basic “steam room” and “engine room” coming together.
  • 60-Across: A [Postgame Q and A, for example] is a PRESS CONFERENCE, which here consists of a “press room” and a “conference room.”

My Spanish classes back in the day were of mucho value today, as there’s both AHORA (“now”) and TIA (“aunt”). For Polynesian flair, there’s both LEI and LANAIS, and for our gratuitous dose of French, there’s ICI (“here”). I suppose some will balk at crossing partials (TEA OR crossing ONE AT), made even more noticeable by the partial clue given to the abutting EAST L.A. ([“Born in ___” (Cheech Marin film)].

Favorite entry: ZAPS, or [Shoots, science fiction style]. Favorite clue: [Spare setting?] for a bowling alley’s LANE.

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28 Responses to Friday, 5/18/12

  1. pannonica says:

    LAT: Maserati is it. Just that. Rottie is indeed a common shortening of the breed name. Matzo is generally pronounced with a terminal schwa rather than a long o.

    And, all pomeranians are spitzes, but not all spitzes are pomeranians. You know how that goes.

  2. Cmm says:

    NYT: theme could also follow: an OFFENSIVE REMARK was made by COSMO KRAMER (Michael Richards) which left a PERMANENT MARKer on his career (or am I overstating the obvious?)

    Gotta say I prefer Mrs Butterworth to both ladies Dash and Paul, but I do love some waffles…

    Liked the puzzle, but I agree with the WISH/PLEASE issue. BTW anyone think Cheri O’Teri will be more known for her crossword usage than her acting career, a la Bobby Orr?
    (I’m only 29, never remembered him playing…All Boston hockey fans can direct their hate mail this way)

  3. Gareth says:

    “Many a bugger” – That clue floored me! Just not something I expect, but in a good way I guess. I’d argue that while a PERMANENTMARKER is a bad tool for a toddler to find, there are worse: chainsaws, say.

    Loved the LAT theme concept! The short-forms for dog breeds shtick made me smile! Rottie is commonly used among vets here, but whether that’s relevant or not I don’t know. While I’m here, is MINPIN a legit nickname in the US? GSD?

    Am I the only one who struggled mightily in the bottom-left? I wanted StEAlSAPEKE, and of the four names two were somewhat familiar: CARNAC and SANFORD (US knock-off version of Stepford right?) while another two were wholly alien: CSONKA and KREWE. I finished off trying a C then a K.

  4. klew archer says:

    Took a long time to put in the ‘P’ at the cross of ROMP and PLEASE since neither definition sat right with me.

    Hated MATZO ROTTIE at first, but now am singing it to the tune of “Paparazzi.”

  5. pannonica says:

    Cmm: (1) I’m not much of a sports fan and he was also before my time, but even I know that Bobby ORR is a bona-fide ice hockey legend, one of the all-time greats, regardless of his place in the crossword pantheon. Baseball’s MEL OTT is farther back in time and probably not quite as highly-ranked among all-time players of his sport, but still a genuinely famous name.

    (2) While certainly of lesser relative stature (in all ways), SNL ALUM CHERI OTERI spells her name without an apostrophe (though Wikipedia informs me that her birth name is Cheryl O’Teari).

    Gareth: Yes on min-pin and GSD. “Steptoe” (obviously just a conflated lapse on your part, much as the other day I merged Erie Sal and “My Gal Sal”).

  6. D F says:

    Help stamp out UIE in our lifetime.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Cmm: Oh, no. Not Mrs. Butterworth! She’s a fraud. Real maple syrup contains only maple syrup, whereas she has: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Molasses, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Natural and Artifical Flavor (Caramel Color, Corn Syrup), Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Mono and Diglycerides.

  8. pannonica says:

    Ya, boo on that! Maple all the way.

    Besides, I hear Mrs B makes time with Fra Angelico.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Mrs. Butterworth and Fr’angelico (both violating their vows, her marriage vows and his friar vows) had a baby, born of the unholy commingling of high-fructose corn syrup and hazelnut liqueur:

  10. Daniel Myers says:

    Like Gareth, “Many a bugger” took me quite aback for a few moments as well. – “Surely, Mr. Shortz hasn’t become THAT risqué!” – Ah, but then I recalled what country I’ve been living in for some time now. In the end, it rather added to the fun of the puzzle!

  11. Martin says:

    I so wanted it to be TOP.

  12. Gareth says:

    Sugar is sugar. It has +-17kJ/g energy and little other nutrients whether its pure maple syrup or not. You should only care if you’re pre(diabetic) what form sugar is in really. I’m not scared of preservatives either. I haven’t eaten one yet that turns me green or makes my fingers turn into cauliflowers.

    @Pannonica: Are we even then?

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Only noticed the anagram theme as I was finishing the puzzle, but loved it. Many great clues including the aforementioned little bugger. Didn’t like 5a, but that’s just me. Is a “marker” a *tool*? I’m sure there are dictionary defs. broad enough to encompass it, but borderline, I’d say. Is a pencil a tool? I noticed the Michael Richards mini-biography too, and have to assume it was intentional.

    Amy, in VT it is a crime to serve something other than pure maple syrup mislabeled or misdescribed as such. Not a crime to serve it, but to misrespresent it.

  14. Daniel Myers says:

    Oh, and as far as PLEASE/wish: “As you please”/”As you wish” is how I explained it to myself. Still, more than a bit unwieldy and opaque, even for a Friday.

  15. Martin says:

    “Do as you please” and “do as you wish” are not only synonymous, but it makes sense that they are. “As you please” is a rewording of “if it pleases you,” or “if you want to.” It’s Fridayish, but I don’t think it’s beyond the pale.

  16. ArtLvr says:

    Drat the LAT’s SW corner! I didn’t know CSONKA, thus was stuck with Karnac and Crewe, rather than Carnac and Krewe. As for RAREE, that wasn’t so rare in older puzzles! And a big boo for the much-hyped FaceBook IPO, a major yawn after all! Very amusing. TGIF

  17. Daniel Myers says:

    @Martin-Sorry, was napping. “If it pleases you” is not even, strictly speaking, grammatically correct. It should be in the subjunctive mood and read “if it please you”.

  18. Daniel Myers says:

    So, to elaborate: The two phrases “if it pleases (sic) you” and “if you want to” contain not only a solecism but they don’t even pass the substitution test. The first is in the 3rd person singular the second in the second singular.

  19. Martin says:


    I don’t think I agree with your parsing. “If it were to please you, then …” is subjunctive. The sense is that we really don’t know if you would be pleased.

    “Do it if it pleases you” is conditional, but not subjunctive, because we know that you will do it if you want to. This is a different mood than “if it please the court,” which is subjuctive because we don’t have a clue what the court is thinking.

    Do you disagree that one can say “do as you please” or “do as you wish” or “do as you want”?

  20. Daniel Myers says:


    Quite well put, Martin. No, I don’t disagree with anything in your above post. My quarrel was with those two phrases in your previous post. Superb clarity in the post above though. No disagreement at all. :-)

  21. Martin says:

    v., pleased, pleas·ing, pleas·es.

    To give enjoyment, pleasure, or satisfaction to; make glad or contented.
    To be the will or desire of: May it please the court to admit this firearm as evidence.


    To give satisfaction or pleasure; be agreeable: waiters who try hard to please.
    To have the will or desire; wish: Do as you please. Sit down, if you please.


    If it is your desire or pleasure; if you please. Used in polite requests: Please stand back. Pay attention, please.
    Yes. Used in polite affirmative replies to offers: May I help you? Please.

  22. Daniel Myers says:

    And one more, if it please the blog:

    Please-noun-Scottish, rare

    Pleasing, pleasure

    1550 Freiris of Berwick 428 in Dunbar’s Poems 299 “Bot all thair sport, quhen thay wer maist at eiss, Vnto our deme it was bot littel pleiss”

    Source: Unabridged OED


  23. John Haber says:

    I totally missed the mini-theme, and it salvages the puzzle for me. Otherwise, a nice challenge, but not great. I refused to enter PLEASE even with the first for crossings. (Would “plea to” be an idiom? Guess not.) But it’s in the dictionary, so can’t complain. I guess I had most gripes with the SE, with COLIN, SARA, and OLEG. And while I’m sure we can find a Rodin TORSO, he’s the last sculptor I’d associate with them, rather than full-length figures.

  24. ArtLvr says:

    Martin, Daniel Myers — My favorite courtship scene in modern literature: Lord Peter Wimsey asking Harriet Vane to marry him for what he promises is the last time, after five years of devoted pursuit, in “Gaudy Night”: “Placet, domina?” And she responds “Placet”. She’s finally realized, on their return visit to academe at Oxford, that she can have both life of the heart and of the intellect, with him. (“Domina” being a rank of high academic achievement.)

  25. Martin says:

    “Gaudy Night” … great book!

    Incidentally, for those interested, Sayers often used the crosswordese word TEC.


  26. Daniel Myers says:

    ArtLvr, Martin—-Here, for your general over-edification, is the OED’s exhaustive take on that phraseology, under “placet”:

    “The word is part of the form used in the old Universities when a question is put to a vote” ‘Placetne vobis, domini doctores? placetne vobis magistri? (Does it please you, Doctors, does it please you Masters?); the answer being “Placet” or ‘Non Placet’. The declaration of the vote after a count is in the form, ‘Majori parti placet’, or ‘non placet’, as the case may be. etc.”

    Good old whimsical Wimsey. The -ne enclitic ending is due to the Latin interrogative, which demands it. So, to be nitpicky, Wimsey should have beseeched Ms. Vane thusly, “Placetne, domina?” But I, for one, give him a pass. A love-besotted fellow is all too apt to drop his interrogative enclitics. ;-)

  27. Zulema says:

    Daniel and Martin,

    Thank you for a most pleasing interlude. “Placitus” indeed.

  28. ArtLvr says:

    Daniel — I’m quite sure the -ne is there in Sayers’ text, I just couldn’t find my copy to see if it was hyphenated or not! Delighted to have the details of the formal vote in the old Universities!

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