Wednesday, 6/6/12

NYT 4:00 
LAT 5:03 (Jeffrey-paper) 
CS 5:00 (Sam) 
Onion tba 

Gary Cee’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 6 12 0606

Pardon me. V. distracted by WTTW’s pledge-drive programming, Chicago’s Loop: A New Walking Tour. Lived in the area my whole life, and there’s still so much to learn about Chicago architecture. (If you’re in town in the warmer months, don’t miss the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Chicago River tour.) The puzzle’s just sitting here patiently waiting for me to return my attention to it.

Okay. Five long answers include a 1a/65a FLIP SIDE, as in a hidden EDIS lurking in their midst. (If only “hidden flip side” were a thing, the theme would make a little more sense.) Puerto Rico is called the ENCHANTED ISLAND. LYME DISEASE is Connecticut’s most famous infection with a tick vector. THEATRE DISTRICT with a limey spelling gets a [London’s West End, e.g.] clue to justify the -re spelling. [Record collector’s curio] is a PICTURE DISC, and that is the theme’s second reference to records after the FLIP SIDE clue. Last, there’s a JEDI STARFIGHTER. Now, I’m no Star Wars nerd, so I checked Wookieepedia to see if “Jedi Starfighter” is a thing. I’m not convinced that it is, but I will take the word of Star Wars nerds on the matter. Pretty sure there are at least a couple of you out there in crosswordland. The theme answers, at least, are fresh phrases rarely ever encountered in crossword grids, so thumbs up for that.

I like FILLMORE thanks to The Brady Bunch (“F, F, F-I-L! L, L, L-M-O! O, O, O-R-E! Fillmore Junior High!”) and ROSWELL thanks to the aliens, but the trusty Scowl-o-Meter went “whoo00OP, whoo00OP” a few times here. Prefix IONO-. Names/places IBA, OREL, LONI, POHL, ATRI, ERLE, ARA (a constellation is sort of a “place”). Partial AN I. Abbrevs HIST, INCL and ENCL, LSTS, ETAS, PCPS (of the plural abbreviations in this puzzle, this one’s the worst—it sounds terrible and perhaps ought to have been clued as “primary care providers,” which is more natural to pluralize than phencyclidine’s), STAC. The Disney ride piratical song is indeed “YO HO” but that’s a mighty ugly-looking entry. What’s more, some of these answers cross others listed here.

Three stars.

Janie Smulyan’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Wed June 6 2012

Theme: Mamma Mia! Dancing with the Crosswords

Janie is, of course, well known for her long run blogging the CrosSynergy puzzles on this site, using the pseudonym Sam Donaldson.
Theme answers:

  • 31A. [Garment for a French 51-Across] – CAN CAN SKIRT
  • 33A. [Cheerleader’s accessory] – POM POM
  • 38A. [Shoes for a Latin American 51-Across] – CHA CHA HEELS
  • 28D. [Doll’s word] – MAMA

Oh, sorry, that’s not the theme theme.

Theme answers:

Other stuff:

  • 7A. [Basic ballroom dance] – TWO STEP. Sneaky almost theme answer.
  • 17A. [Silky-coated dogs] – BORZOIS. Never heard of them. Looking it up – BORZOIS are silky-coated dogs.
  • 50A. [’60s-’70s TV Guide critic] – AMORY. Never heard of him/her. Looking it up – Cleveland AMORY, animal rights activist. I bet he had heard of BORZOIS.
  • 36D. [Inc. tax rate, e.g.] – PCT. Well, you just knew Janie/Sam would sneak in an income tax reference.

You can dance / You can jive / Having the time of your life / See that girl / Watch that scene / Diggin’ the DANCING QUEEN

Garage door update: Working again. Fixed itself. Very weird.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “I Missed You” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 6

I list my solving times here like most of the other Fiend correspondents, but I don’t actually track my solving times to discern trends over time. I do it mostly to fit in with the “diary” gimmick and to provide comfort to mortal solvers that there are those of us who make goofs, fall into traps, have to play guess-a-letter–and many times all of that happens in the course of the same puzzle. I mention it now only because I don’t remember ever posting a solving time before that ended right on the minute mark. (I’m assuming my solving software didn’t decide to stop at the five-minute mark for a rest.) One would think there’s a 1-in-60 chance of that happening, but in this case that exact second has proven elusive in the past.

The “you” that is “missing” in this puzzle is the letter U, as Gail takes four common (okay, three common and one uncommon, at least to me) two-word terms and deletes the U that would normally be the third letter in the second word:

  • 20-Across: I didn’t have to be awake very long to learn something new today. “Alabamy Bound” is a ragtime tune. Here‘s a version from crossword great Les Paul. The lyrics, in their entirety, are thus: “I’m Alabamy bound / I’m Alabamy bound / They’ll be no heebie-jeebies hanging ’round / Just gave the meanest ticket man on earth / All I’m worth to put my tootsies in an upper berth / Just hear the choo-choo sound / I know that soon we’re gonna cover ground / And then I’ll holler so the world will know / Here I go.” Well, ditch both the heebie-jeebies and the letter U from the song title and you get ALABAMY BOND, a [Pact between kinfolk from Mobile?].
  • 60-Across: [Knee-high stockings?] are HALF-WAY HOSE, a play on “half-way house.”
  • 11-Down: To [Look after an ape?] is to MONKEY SIT, a variation of the “monkey suit.” Wouldn’t “monkeysit” be a compound word if it really existed? If so, the conversion of a two word expression into a one-word compound is interesting, though inconsistent with the others.
  • 34-Down: With Richard Dawson’s death still fresh on the mind, it was nice to see FAMILY FED, the [Offspring employed as a G-man?] that’s a play on Dawson’s most famous television venture, the game show Family Feud.

That southwest corner housing FAMILY FED has plenty of other gems too, like FELT-TIP, PRUSSIA, NOT HERE (with the terrific clue, [“Let’s talk about this outside.”]), and FERAL. I also liked ALL DONE, NEON GAS, and WAS AT.

Sure, the grid has 78 words and 38 black squares (both typically considered the maximum amounts in quality crosswords), but the grid maintains a rather open feel because it boasts far more 4- and 5-letter answers instead of 3-letter answers.

I never saw this clue while solving, but [Leg attachment?] seems like an awfully hard clue for IRON (if I’m reading it correctly, a “leg iron” is a legcuff–what fastens you to the proverbial ball and chain). It feels a little out of place with the rest of the clues, which made for very smooth sailing. But as I said, I never even saw the clue because I got the letters through crossings. Since this wasn’t a tournament, I didn’t feel compelled to check every crossing entry–if I’m reasonably sure of my answers and the crossings looks like real terms, I rarely take the time to read those clues until I’m writing about the puzzle.

Matt Jones’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword, 6 6 12 Jones

Whoa. I previously solved the PuzzleSocial edition (6/6/12) of this puzzle, and didn’t remember any of the stuff from the upper left corner. 1d, 2d, and 3d were TYPE AB, SABATO, and AMSTEL, which I found much easier than this CON JOB, SAFECO, ATLATL fill (but certainly not, say Monday-easy). ATLATL? A [Spear-throwing tool]? That one’s new to me. Given that I didn’t know if 16a: [Dolphins’ org.] would be NFL or NFC or if 19a: [Single from the Smiths’ “This Charming Man”] would be JEANE or perhaps the French JEUNE—oy. I tried the L and the U, no dice. Tried the L and A, bingo.

Moving along! The theme gets OLD. Literally, each theme answer is made by getting the OLD trigram wedged into it.

  • 21a. GOLDEN XER, [Someone who signs anonymously, but with a fancy pen?]. Gen Xer.
  • 27a. BOLDED MATE, [Partner who stands out in print?]. Bedmate.
  • 33a. EAR DOLDRUMS, [Boredom with music?]. Eardrums. My favorite theme answer.
  • 41a. MOLDING THE MERCILESS, [With 50-Across, seminar for young supervillains?]. Ming the Merciless. My other favorite.
  • 64a. OLD, [Grate, with “get,” or what this puzzle’s theme answers get].

Joon commented about the “impenetrable NW corner.” I don’t know why the TYPE AB, SABATO (Italian day, cognate of Spanish Sabado and “sabbath”), AMSTEL corner wasn’t used for both outlets. I’ll bet Joon and many of you would have had less trouble with those words.

I’ll also bet that at least one or two of you knew what an atlatl is before seeing this puzzle.

Fave fill: Aerosmith’s JOE PERRY, the car radio listener’s refrain “TURN IT UP,” TO EXCESS looking like “toe xcess” to me, PALM OFF, THE WHO, fresh PEETA, ZITHER (we had one when I was a kid, not that it honed my lack of musical ability any). Least liked, besides that ATLATL/JEANE business: ALLYL (29d. [Varnish component that gets its name from the Latin for “garlic”]).

Grade for the PuzzleSocial edition: 3.33 stars. Grade for the version emailed out this week: 2.5 stars on account of apparent mean inscrutability.

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15 Responses to Wednesday, 6/6/12

  1. David says:

    Jedi Starfighter is definitely a thing, though some hardcore Star Wars nerds might pretend that it’s not because it only appeared in the dreaded prequels. Obi-wan piloted one in episode II, so I suspect it was originally clued as a cross-reference with 5D.

    June the sixth be with you :)

  2. Evad says:

    Really enjoyed seeing fellow fiend Janie’s byline in today’s LAT, and a fun offering to boot. Hope there are more in the pipeline!

  3. Gareth says:

    If you know Gary Cee’s a DJ the theme gets an added level of cuteness! Agree there were quite a lot of the mildly irksome short answers, but nothing atrocious. Having two movie franchise pairings was also nice though!

    Janie’s theme is very tight. Impressive! I’d only vaguely heard of entries one and three and CANCANSKIRT not at all, but I can see how this is just my ignorance and nothing wrong with the puzzle. I actually ended with CANCANSHIRT, then looked at SHI and changed it!

  4. Jan says:

    Janie – very cute theme with interesting fill! I don’t have any of those items of dance apparel, but I do have flamenco heels and skirt. Maybe that just qualifies me as a dancing princess.

  5. Howard B says:

    Tricky Times theme answers today.
    And yay! to Jamie for her LA Times offering. Great to see her byline.

  6. *David* says:

    I beat my nemesis Sam on the CS. I also don’t track my time typically since I’m so damn slow compared to the speedsters. On the CS typically our times are ridiculously close so I track it for humor purporses only, I finished this puzzle in 4:57.

  7. Sam Donaldson says:

    I think *David* cheated.

  8. Jeff Chen says:

    Yay Janie! Hope to see more of your stuff in print!

    Amy, what’s wrong with LONI? Man, I had a major crush on her during her WKRP days. And ERLE Stanley Gardner, one of the most famous mystery writers of all time? I can understand the others (I’m a pretty ardent NBA follower and have never heard of IBA).

    We all know Sam is expressing his times in hours and minutes, not minutes and seconds. I best him each and every day.

  9. janie says:

    fiendsters — many thx for the sweet words and warm reception here. one just never takes that kinda thing for granted (and i’ve got the one- and two-star ratings above to prove it!).

    fave post, tho, came from someone on the “l.a. times crossword corner” blog, who wrote: “Ms. S. who is an avid blogger and puzzle commenter under the deceptive “Sam Donaldson” has put together a fun wednesday…”

    “deceptive” ain’t the half of it!

    cheers, all — and again: danke!!


    p.s. and a real tip o’ the hat to rich and patti for the encouragement, direction and editing!

  10. pannonica says:

    If it’s on the internet, it must be true.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Tune in tomorrow, when I reveal pannonica’s true identity.

  12. joon says:

    jeff, hank IBA never coached in the NBA, which is maybe why you’ve never heard of him. he was a college coaching legend at … i want to say oklahoma, but maybe it was oklahoma state. checking, it was indeed OSU (although it was called oklahoma A&M for his first 20+ years there). as for LONI and ERLE, even if they are famous (and i, for one, was not familiar with them pre-crosswords), an unusual first name is just not a good fill entry.

    janie, i didn’t know what to make of your theme since i was familiar with none of the three articles of clothing. perhaps not surprising, given how far both dance and fashion are out of my knowledge base. so i couldn’t tell if they were actual articles or made-up phrases that were somehow appropriate … and i was also distracted by the CHA CHA/CAN CAN thing. lovely fill and cluing, though—unusually lively for a wednesday!

    i guess the onion hasn’t been blogged yet. i’m stunned that i actually finished the puzzle; it seemed designed deliberately to confound. i didn’t get the theme until the very last answer, and then i had to use it to unravel the impenetrable NW corner.

  13. klew archer says:

    I managed to solve the “crunchy” version of the Onion puzzle, despite knowing neither SAFECO nor ATLATL then looked over the shoulder of somebody solving the “smooth” version and was shocked, shocked to see the easier NW corner. I actually was focused on something else over there, JEANE was clued as if it were a single off of an album, when actually it was a single-only B-side. Turns out Ben sent out an earlier version of the puzzle by accident. Can’t be too hard on him about this though, he might not be sleeping too much these days:)

  14. jefe says:

    @Sam – U is the 2nd letter of suit! Also, note the symmetric LANCE and RIFLE ([Cavalry weapon] and [Long weapon], respectively). Had them backwards originally.

  15. Jeff Chen says:

    @Joon: ah, no wonder I’ve never heard of him. A college coach from the early days. Hmm.

    Why is KEIRA any better than LONI? I still think they’re both fine. Anyway, to each his own.

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