Tuesday, 6/19/12

NYT 3:35 
LAT 4:09 (Neville) 
CS 5:48 (Sam) 
Jonesin' tba 

Steve Riley’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 19 12 0619

I’m guessing this constructor is the same as the Steven Riley spotted in previous bylines. Mr. Riley, if you click your name in the post tag at the end of this post, you won’t get anything related to Steven-with-an-N’s puzzles.

Anyhoo: The theme is “words and phrases whose only vowel is O.” The upshot of that is that you get many of the tried-and-true O-dense words from crosswordese. OMOO! OBOL! ORDO! ORLOP! ORONO! OTTOS and OTHO! Yoko ONO! Prefix OPTO! Spanish OSO OTRO ORO OCHOS! General TSO’S chicken! Pontiac GTOS! British military (?) decorations DSOS! And the spelled-out, only-in-crosswords TWO-D! It’s too moch. And on Toosday? While the O’s-only theme will help the attentive solver muddle through tough crossings, I don’t know that the payoff will be deemed worth the 34d: SLOG.

I do like OLD SCHOOL and SNOOP DOGG, KOMODO and SCHMOS, but overall my solving experience entailed groans when I hit another of the words in the previous paragraph. No CROSSWORD, though?

I counted 69 O’s (hey-o!) in this puzzle, which blows the previous O record out of the water and tells me this is the first major-venue crossword that achieved the all-O’s trick.

Didn’t know 4d: [Jesse who pitched a major-league record 1,252 games], OROSCO. I want that S to be a Z. Between his unusual spelling, the double literary hit of OMOO and HOT’L, and the Spanish-meets-French crossing of OTRO and NORD, I could see a ton of newer solvers giving up after getting stuck in the first corner.

Also didn’t know 33a: [“The Pearl of ___ Island” (Harriet Beecher Stowe novel)], ORR’S. Apparently Orr’s Island is in Maine, just like ORONO! Did you know Orono has a population of 10,000? It’s considerably smaller than Natick, MA, and Orono’s townies are outnumbered by the University of Maine students.

2.75 stars. The O’s may make a record, but they didn’t in and of themselves enhance my solving experience.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 6 19 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 6 19 12

Vertical theme mode engaged – prepare for crosswording.

  • 3d. [Start of a nursery rhyme] JACK AND JILL
  • 5d. [Start of a nursery rhyme] –LONDON BRIDGE
  • 22d. [Start of a nursery rhyme] – HUMPTY DUMPTY
  • 26d. [End of a nursery rhyme, or the fate of this puzzle’s other three long answers] – ALL FALL DOWN

What a great theme idea! It’s nice and tight – these are all first lines that meet the same fate. They’re all well-known lines, too. The visual element of these down entries is just the cherry on top. A-1 work from Ed Sessa right here.

The fill? It’s top notch, too. My favorite line here is the fifth row from the top: X-FACTOR and QUASARS. It’s not just the Scrabbly letters – I like how the clue for the former, [Nebulous quality], makes you think of nebulae, and the leap to the latter entry is a mere hop.

ADJS., (the sort of USUAL crud that can get DUMPed into puzzles) gets a cute clue: [Grumpy and dopey, but not doc: Abbr.]. To me, that’s the sign of a great constructor, editor or (in this case) both.

Let’s chat about 64-Across. SATYR is clued as [Goat-legged deity]. Satyrs are mythical creatures, to be sure, but I’ve not heard them referred to as deities. I found some sources online, though (like M-W) that do refer to them as deities. You make the call – are they truly deities? And what are the consequences of this in your daily life? (Unless you’re a classicist or reading Percy Jackson, they’re probably minimal.)

Some onomatopoetic entries to round out today’s post:

  • 4a. [Muddle through mud] – SLOSH
  • 28d. [Apply, as a pie to the face] – SMUSH
  • 34a. [Softly hit hit] – BLOOP, a word that I’ve said before that I love, and I still do. Say it with me now: BLOOP!

Updated Tuesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “O, the Places You’ll Go” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 19

If you ever get the chance to see a Cirque du Soleil show, by all means take advantage. Their productions are equal parts artistry, suspense, comedy, and weirdness. The performers are amazing athletes that make some of the most impossibly conceived feats look exquisitely easy. I have seen four or five different productions in a number of cities, and I always leave feeling in awe.

I’m reminded of Cirque du Soleil because today’s puzzle features “O,” and that’s the name of the permanent Cirque show at The Bellagio in Las Vegas (it’s mainly a water show, so “O” is a play on “eau,” a word that is both French and Crosswordese for “water”). All three of the puzzle’s theme entries are clued simply as [O]:

  • 17-Across: [O] describes a PHOTO FINISH because “O” is the finishing letter in “PHOTO.”
  • 37-Across: [O] is the sixth letter in “BEETHOVEN,” so it can fairly be called BEETHOVEN’S SIXTH.
  • 56-Across: [O] is the third of five letters in “STORM,” so it is a STORM CENTER.

I dig this kind of theme, simple yet INSPIRED ([Like many a masterpiece]). The grid has some nice fill too, like CBS NEWS, LOSE IT, SENT AWAY, and UVULA.

Newer solvers may have struggled with EDDA, the [Old Icelandic literary work], or OKAPI, the [Animal with zebra-striped legs]. I too struggled with ORGANZA, the [Gown material]. Where do you get this stuff, Alderzaan?

I had SC- in place when I got to the clue, [“Amscray!”]. I just knew the answer couldn’t be SCRAM, but that didn’t stop me from trying it anyway. (Yep, the answer was SCOOT.)

Favorite entry = STRATEGO . You know the game, right? [It’s played with bombs and a flag.] Favorite clue = [“Belay that deletion!”] for STET. Interesting clues for common crossword terms are always welcome.

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27 Responses to Tuesday, 6/19/12

  1. Jared says:

    Today’s NYT put me in a bad mood. So bad that I don’t even care enough to find a synonym for “bad” that contains no non-o vowels.

  2. David says:

    @Jared: “Not good” comes to mind. 57-Across works as well.

    Today’s Jonesin is only available in CrosswordSolver, but the googlegroup link doesn’t appear to be working. I thought I’d mention that here with the hopes that someone will either find a working link or post the puzzle in the forum.

  3. John E says:

    Poor works too (look! on roll!!)

    Oh no, got to go….

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    David — sorry about that; the puzzle this week won’t work in AL so I sent out the Crossword Solver version but maybe it didn’t work. Let me try again.

  5. Alex says:

    This is as good a time as any to remind people that the Xword software has the same interface as Across Lite but handles Crossword Solver files perfectly. It’ll work great for the Jonesin’.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    David — sending out a .pdf now to the Jonesin’ Google Group.

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I thought that was enough of a toor de forss that I liked it a lot, even though I don’t really disagree with some of the negatives. Others have raved about ‘E’ only puzzles, and this has to be a lot more impressive. It also unwittingly illustrates what non-native English speakers often grumble about–that there’s no rationality to the pronunciation of vowels in English–c.f. herd, heard, bird, word, curd etc.

  8. Nina says:

    I loved the LAT puzzle. Had more fun than I’ve had in a long time. Lots of smiles, a bit of work – perfect Tuesday. It was especially pleasant after having done today’s NYT, whch was not fun, altho I do admire the construction feat.

  9. Martin says:

    Here is this week’s Jonesin’ as a pdf. Evad, feel free to update the link for this week only.

    I couldn’t get a file from the link to use with Xword Solver. It just generates a Java error for me.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    The Xword software @Alex linked to is, I believe, Windows only. So Mac users who haven’t downloaded Crossword Solver might consider doing so. I often use Crossword Solver for BEQ’s blog puzzles.

  11. Evad says:

    Thanks Martin. I’ve added a PDF link to the Jonesin’ entry on the Today’s Puzzle page for this week.

  12. Howard B says:

    ok to do, most common words, good flow, grown (sort of) fond of.
    hmmmmm…. how to stop?
    Oh, foo. Octothorp #.

  13. Jeffrey says:

    So is June 19 O day?

    today’s puzzle features “O,” – so says Sam, not talking about the NYT. And Neville finishes with BLOOP!

    I guess Gareth was a couple of days early with his LAT “OO” puzzle.


  14. Bruce N. Morton says:

    LOL How’d.

    O toy pooch–(Pom)–go to town now, moon roof down. . .

  15. larry says:

    The nyt pzzl is the first I’ve ever seen with only one vowel.

  16. Martin says:

    This is the mother of all such puzzles:

    It predates the Premium Crosswords archive, so I can’t point you to a doable version.

  17. Ray Hamel says:

    I guess the title of my CS puzzle could have been used for the NYT today as well!

  18. Erik says:

    i think record-setting puzzles should get an automatic +1 in the ratings to offset the inevitably blah solving experience. this wasn’t very fun but the constructor’s effort should be applauded by all.

  19. Todd G says:

    Oh no! I was hoping to do an O-only puzzle someday, seeing as how my name only has O’s for vowels (and yet, neither my first nor last name made it in. Sigh.).

    Actually, I have a couple upcoming puzzles (eventually) where O’s, in one form or another, are a prominent feature. But you’ll probably forget this by the time they’re published.

    -oo- (over and out)

    —Todd Gross

  20. Jeff Chen says:

    I was really hoping for OH GOD as a theme revealer (along with a steamy comment from soon-to-be-newlyweds Sam and Shelly).

    Oh Woll.

  21. pauer says:

    One of my favorite recent uses of O’s was in this Mystery Hunt puz by Scott Handelman: http://www.mit.edu/~puzzle/12/mayan_fair_lady/evil_influence/
    (click Solution in the upper-right to see the multi-layered solution)

  22. Jared says:

    Erik, agreed. That’s why I gave it a 2.

  23. Tuning Spork says:

    So, who’s bloggin’ the Jonesin’?

  24. James Schooler says:

    I always like it when I learn something new from doing a crossword, like “Hmm, I did not know that!” like I did today after solving the Jonesin’. I’m waiting for the blog as well…

  25. Bruce N. Morton says:


    I have no objection to, and take not the slightest offense at your advice to me of last evening–I have had similar thoughts myself. The problem is that some of Brendan’s puzzles are spectacular and phenomenal. There was one a few weeks ago (I’ve forgotten the exact details) that involved bigrams, and which he presented as a competition puzzle, which I thought was one of the best and most genuinely exciting puzzles of the year. I suppose it’s good to go public with that aspect of my reaction as well.

  26. joon says:

    once again late to the party (but finally caught up), and i wanted to say that the jonesin’ and LAT today are among my favorite early-week crosswords in recent memory. that LAT theme is just perfect, and the fill is gorgeous too. the jonesin’ is a creative, delightful romp. two in one day is special.

    the NYT was pretty forgettable, but i’ve enjoyed steve(n) riley’s previous offerings, so i’m going to do him the favor of forgetting this one.

  27. joon says:

    forgot to mention—ORR’S island is the place in maine where my in-laws have a vacation house. i’ve spent many a summer day there! population 752 according to wikipedia, which sounds about right. 98.1% white, which also sounds about right.

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