Thursday, 6/14/12

Fireball 5:13 
NYT 4:56 
LAT 2:56(!) (Neville) 
CS 4:55 (Sam) 
BEQ 6:57 (Matt) 
Tausig tba —see Friday 6/15 post

Tracy Gray’s New York Times crossword

NYTimes crossword solution, 6 14 12 0614

Happy Flag Day! What we have here is a twisty Thursday puzzle that has nothing whatsoever to do with Flag Day. I like the gimmick, enough to make me look past a little blah fill—especially because there are also some nice longish answers lighting up the fill.

The theme is RIGHT ON RED, a [Legal maneuver … with a hint to answering seven clues in this puzzle]. Now, the clue is misleading, I think, because there are localities where you can’t turn right on red as the default, right? The “legal maneuver” wording made me think of courtroom antics rather than driving through intersections.
Anyway, each of those seven answers starts in the Down direction and makes a turn to the right side of the grid (technically making a left turn to do so) where the letter trio RED land in the answer:

  • 1d. SNARE DRUM looking like SNAR crossing The Shining‘s REDRUM.
  • 8d. CLAIRE DANES looking like CLAIR and an unclued REDANES.
  • 28d. FIRED UP, FIR and REDUP.
  • 31d. IN SHREDS, the bizarre INSHR crossing REDS.
  • 48d. FILM CREDIT, [Actor’s screen recognition] as well as screen recognition for selected people appearing in a documentary. Would I have an IMDb credit if I hadn’t had this here crossword blog as a means to help promote Wordplay? Probably not. I would also not have gotten to write a book for St. Martin’s Press. Yay for Diary of a Crossword Fiend!
  • 55d. CHEERED ON. Yay for Diary of a Crossword Fiend!
  • 41d. RIGHT ON RED explains the gimmick while itself embodying the trick. What do you call that? A meta entry that folds in on itself like a, uh, singularity in the universe? (Family was watching something on TV tonight about physics and the universe and singularities. I wasn’t really paying attention. Probably using the word completely wrong.)

Loved seeing KATYDIDS and metaphorical DEAD WOOD in the grid. Fresh and lively, rarely ever seen in crossword grids. I also liked seeing PREGNANT clued as [Full of life?], particularly because I approached the answer with ***GNANT in place and typed in STAGNANT, thinking the clue quite odd and wondering if the “life” in question was mosquito larvae in stagnant water. Less excited about NOE, I AIM, and ELOI. First I scowled as I filled in MIRY, then I realized it was a homophone for one of my doctors’ names, and then right above the Y was the beginning of the [Siberian native] TATAR, which is the surname of another of my docs! (She is not a native of Siberia.) So for entirely idiosyncratic reasons, I wound up liking MIRY and TATAR despite neither being the sort of crossword fill that makes solvers say “Yay!” or OLE OLE.

Four stars.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 52”

Giant Nuclear Fireball 3(24) solution

When inserting the solution picture into this post, I said, “Ohhh!” (This is a cousin of 59a: AHA, [Clicking sound?].)I had just been admiring how JOHN GRAY, although partnered in the bottom row with SLIEST, did not contain any of the bottom-rowiest letters in SLIEST. And then! I realized that JOHN GRAY was also the English equivalent of artist JUAN GRIS in the opposite corner. Nice mini-theme! “SPEAK OF THE DEVIL,” you might say to one of them. “I was just talking about [other guy’s name] this morning.”

Now I’ve forgotten anything else I might have planned to say about the puzzle. Knew that the reason [Candy land?] is CANADA is because John Candy was Canadian before looking at Peter’s answer sheet (which I glanced at just to see if Peter said “Hey, did everyone notice the 1a/66a combo?,” but the didn’t).


Misfires: I put in a SELF-EXAM at 46a, [Check for lumps, maybe]. Have never, ever heard it called SELF-TEST. SELF-TEST is the practice test you administer to yourself when studying for an academic exam, no?

Not much else is jumping out at me. Four stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

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

CS solution, June 14

Saddle up to the open bar in today’s crossword! Each of the five theme entries begins with a kind of cocktail:

  • 17-Across: A GIMLET EYE is a [Watchful gaze]. It’s also a term I’ve never heard before.
  • 24-Across: MANHATTAN BEACH is a [City near Los Angeles]. Interestingly, Los Angeles Beach is a city near Manhattan. (Is this why I stink at geography questions in LearnedLeague?)
  • 41-Across: The [Boxer played on film by Denzel Washington] is HURRICANE CARTER. If they made a movie about my life, I assume Denzel would be cast in the lead role.
  • 52-Across: A STINGER MISSILE is a [Weapon typically used in its surface-to-air form]. “Stinger missile” I have heard before, but not a drink called a “stinger.” The internets say it’s three parts brandy to one part white creme de menthe. That seems, um, strong.
  • 62-Across: The [Fashion magazine for young women] is COSMO GIRL. I haven’t seen this magazine (I’m kinda outside its target demographic), but it seems strange to me that there would be a Cosmo for girls. I would feel the same about Maxim for Boys (redundant title?).

To accompany the drinks, Tony serves up some LEMON TART and perhaps some goodies from the Barefoot CONTESSA. Other highlights in the grid include TWEAK, ITALICIZE, and TEN P.M.

Today begins my great migration to the east coast, so today’s write-up is necessarily short. So long, Seattle, and thanks for all the fish!  (Seriously, the seafood here is fantastic.)

Favorite entry = IRAN-GATE, the [Reagan-era scandal]. Favorite clue = [Parts of combs and cogs] for TEETH.

Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 6 14 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 6 14 12

Whoo! A quick Thursday puzzle for me, so it gets a quick Thursday [Blog update]… er, POST.

  • 1a. [Little barker] TOY
  • 1d. [Couponer’s skill] –THRIFT
  • 10a. [Sedate] – DRUG
  • 13a. [Petraeus’s rank] – GENERAL
  • 38d. [More than needed] – SURPLUS
  • 62a. [Brogue or brogan] – SHOE
  • 46d. [Hole in the wall] – OUTLET
  • 65a. [Favored student] – PET
  • 35a. [Local retailer, and an apt description of eight entries in this puzzle] – CORNER STORE

Simple theme – we’ve seen putting entries in the corners before. Hard to figure this one out without that connecting entry in the middle. When you’ve got short theme answers, you’ve got room to play around in the fill, and play around Don & C.C. do!

I really like the X-crossing at PARADOX/X-ACTO. The X isn’t just thrown in there – these are two good entries with good clues: [“I never tell the truth,” e.g.]/[Precise-sounding blade].

Is it just me, or does TOE TO TOE look really neat? I wonder if there are any other crossworthy words/phrases with the same letter pattern. (Someone write a Perl script?) SIOUAN is also cool; so many vowels in a row!

I can’t believe that TOSSPOT is in this puzzle. I started typing it, but then I said that can’t be it. The clue references the ‘drunkard’ meaning – [Cold porter fan?]. But there’s a slang meaning of this word that you won’t find in M-W… it’s an extension of another meaning of the word toss. (Some would argue that the word doesn’t mean this, but it is another way people use it.) I’ll not be more specific – you know where Urban Dictionary is if you want it. What’s important is that Rich is usually good about keeping words out that have a second definition that’s not so apropos. Looks like this one may have slipped through the… cracks. (Personally, I don’t mind any of this.)

Top clue: [Familiar latecomer] – first name JOHNNY, last name COME-LATELY.

Brendan Quigley’s blog puzzle, “Breast Implants” — Matt’s review

BEQ 6 14 12 solution

I would’ve known who’d written this puzzle without seeing the byline.  Anyone can be vulgar, but only one person can be simultaneously vulgar and elegant — Brendan Emmett Quigley.

Today’s puzzle is titled “Breast Implants,” for which Brendan has inserted the word TIT into five phrases:

17-18a. [Pursuer of a lost Renaissance painter?]  = TITIAN HUNTER.  Google tells me that Ian Hunter is the frontman of the British band Mott the Hoople.  I think I used to know that.

21a. [Wide berth to give someone who’s ejaculating?] = CUM LATITUDE.  Can’t say I’ve ever typed that before, and probably won’t again. (update: I typed it again for this review about 5 minutes after saying I’d never type it again)

34a. [The Hindenburg?] = TITLED ZEPPELIN.

42a. [Competitions for Takeru Kobayashi?] = EAT IT SPORTS.  EA Sports is a big video game maker (I had to Google it), Kobayashi I did not need to Google since I’d seen this:

52-55a. [Steals from the small sizes section?] = TAKES A PETITE.

Those five range from good to excellent, and there are five of them, so thumbs-up on the theme.

All four of the corners are elegant.  I guess my favorite is the SW, but all four are nice: NVIDIA, NO DISC, fictional PAWNEE, Indiana, SNOOZE, THE WIZ, SCHWA, SESAME, BIGTIME — all good.  And I’m sure Brendan’s wife appreciates her own name intersecting the phrase “cum latitude” at 24-d.

Top 3 clues: [They may create a buzz] for ALES; [Truck’s sound?] for SCHWA, although SCHWA is about the easiest crossword entry to clue cleverly — anything works; and [Baking ingredient] for POT.

4.69 stars, pun intended!  The theme idea is indelicate but the rest of the puzzle is more than delicate.

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15 Responses to Thursday, 6/14/12

  1. pannonica says:

    NYT: Yes. Among other places, it’s illegal to make a right turn on red in New York City, unless posted otherwise.

    Puzzle was all right enough, but more than once I had a feeling that some of the clues were “off.” It’s more likely, however, that I’m “off.”

  2. KarmaSartre says:

    Planned to mention Kubrick but see Amy has it covered.

  3. joon says:

    joe green, john gray… who will he come up with next? i’m voting for jack black.

  4. granbaer says:

    Cute theme, and like Amy, I loved katydids. Pretty easy once I figured out the gimmick. At first had a couple of rebus squares until I filled in right on red. We can turn right on red out here in CA, so I guess you could say it is a legal maneuver.

  5. pannonica says:

    Flag Day + ILLOGIC? Something is vexingly missing.

    To clarify, I think the right-on-red clue needs a qualifier, a “sometimes” or similar.

  6. Gareth says:

    Brava! Original theme! Clever avoidance of potentially unchecked squares! And even fun red phrases! More fun medium-length answers thrown in for good measure as you said: KATYDIDS, TRACHEA, PREGNANT!

    P.S. Don’t try turning right on red in South Africa… You’ll be going straight into oncoming traffic (on account of us driving not driving on the wrong side of the road… ;)

  7. Dook says:

    had trouble with the Times today. Made it more difficult than necessary by filling in red in one space. Ultimately what was not satisfying was the dash in the across clue. Why was there a dash – how is the symbol related to clue or signify some connection with the down clue? A plus sign might have made a bit more sense. I kept trying to think of words that the dash would mean (reduce is one I was trying to work with). But in the end, it meant nothing at all. Disappointing.

  8. pauer says:

    Yes, Dook, this sort of puzzle used to get treated differently, with the clue and the clue number being deleted and the grid renumbered as appropriate. Problem is: the solving program that the NYT uses can’t handle entries without a clue, so a – is used instead. In the past, a PDF-only would be presented, but this tips solvers off (and pisses off people without printers); also, as the online solvers have increased in number there seems to be a desire to present the same puzzle to all. Using a – as a space holder accomplishes that.

  9. Jeffrey says:

    Ever consider using: [this entry has no clue in the paper version] instead of the dash?

  10. janie says:

    and patrick knows of what he speaks! having recently revisited *his* gem of a puzzle (10/7/10), i was better prepared to work with tracy’s beauty!


    p.s. here’s a link to the completed puzzle, but you’ll do better to hit the “across lite” link to get the full effect:

  11. Zulema says:

    Juan Gris is a pseudonym.

  12. Martin says:

    I’m very upset that MAS spoiled one of BEQ’s theme entries today with a comment yesterday. He needs to control his special powers better.

  13. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Is pannonica punning on “vexillological”, or alluding to the Dickinson poem “Flags vex a dying face…”? (And was Emily Dickinson in turn playing on “Flags” = “vexilla”?)

  14. pannonica says:

    Emily who?

    It was the former, but I’ll take the other, as well. Too bad pixilated has a lighthearted connotation for mental imbalance.

  15. John Haber says:

    “Legal” did seem strange for a New York paper. Growing up here, I don’t think I knew one could make a right on red anywhere until I was out of college. But then often I find the culture of the crossword quite remote from New York, perhaps in recognition that crossword solvers are their own community apart from most readers of the Times. (Well, ok, it can get to me, as with golf clues.) I’d also seen the turn theme before. But for all that, I liked it a lot, in part because of how I, too, first thought of legal maneuvering in court.

    On the other hand, the MOCHA / HAI crossing was beyond me in a way I didn’t like at all.

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