Sunday, 7/1/12

NYT 7:51 
Reagle 8:54 
LAT 11:39 (Jeffrey–paper) 
Hex/Hook 12:47 (pannonica) 
WaPo Doug – untimed with one dumb error 
CS 32:15 (Sam, paper) 

Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword, “Yankee Doodle Dandies”

NYT crossword answers, 7 1 12 "Yankee Doodle Dandies"

There’s really not much to say about this crossword, is there? It’s a trivia theme, gathering six famous people who were BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and thus have a birthday coming up on Wednesday. CALVIN COOLIDGE, MALIA OBAMA, NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, GEORGE STEINBRENNER, ANN LANDERS (as well as her twin, Abigail Van Buren), and [Literary critic who was 65-Across (1905)], LIONEL TRILLING. I have a favorite Trilling and that is Calvin Trillin, whose last name actually isn’t the same at all. Lionel is the outlier in this theme, as someone whose name you don’t pick up by going to school and reading the newspaper. Malia is about to turn 14 and is much less accomplished than the late Trilling, but she has way more Google hits.

I don’t recall any clues or answers that were particularly noteworthy. ENDURABLE MOTONEURON DETRAIN DOADEAL ENROOTS? Meh. Don’t recall noticing anything truly grievous, either. This means I really haven’t got much to talk about today.

2.9 stars. Three stars would be entirely passable, but I’d like to be a little more engaged by a puzzle in order to go with 3+ stars.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Sunday crossword, “Comic Opera” — pannonica’s review

Hex/Hook • 7/1/12 • "Comic Opera" • Cox, Rathvon • solution

comic opera (noun): opera of a humorous character with a happy ending and usually some spoken dialogue (1762)

comic opera (adjective): not to be taken seriously <a comic–opera regime> (1906)

145 years? Wow. Anyway, the theme here is puns involving the titles of operas, for  the most part namedropping the composer in each clue. Whether puns are humorous or comic is beyond the purview of this write-up, therefore we shall assume that they are indeed funny. Capisci?

  • 23a. [Not booing a Bizet opera?] CARMEN COURTESY (common…). Great start, an opera that just about everyone recognizes and a strong pun.
  • 34a. [Emotional Massenet role?] STORMY WERTHER (…weather). Based on Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther).
  • 41a. [Gounod’s comic routine?] WHO’S ON FAUST (…First). Sounds as if it could be a bedroom farce. Speaking of which…
  • 63a. [Emma Thompson does Verdi?] ERNANI MCPHEE (Nanny…). The original phrase is the title of a 2005 film written by and starring Ms Thompson, one which I’ve never heard of, based on a series of children’s books by Christianna Brand, which and whom I’ve also never heard of. There was a sequel made in 2010, released as Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (UK) and Nanny McPhee Returns (US). I have an idea of why it was renamed for this country, but it’s just a theory. Oh, and I’ve never heard of that movie either. Obviously.
  • 68a. [Baroque opera snacks?] ORFEO COOKIES (Oreo…). Gluck! Gluck, gluck, gluck! Stirring stuff, with the “Dance of the Furies” and “Dance of the Blessed Spirits.” This themer, unlike all the others, is more of a visual pun than a phonetic one.
  • 88a. [Benefit for Verdi’s audience?] HEARING AIDA (…aid). There’s that Verdi guy again.
  • 95a. [Beethoven runner-up?] SECOND FIDELIO (…fiddle). >twiddle, twiddle<
  • 110a. [Retro version of Massenet?] OLD SCHOOL THAÏS (…ties). Not sure if the original is supposed to be “old school ties” or “old-school ties,” or whether said ties are metaphorical connections or items of haberdashery. The clue suggests a hyphenated “old-school,” but that isn’t relevant to the original construction. Oh, and that’s two by ol’ Jules.

Not comice operas.

Wonder if Peter Pears ever appeared in any productions of the above, because then they could have been called “comice operas.” Yes, I went there.

Anyway, despite this octet not being exhaustingly consistent, I enjoyed the results and the theme. Plus, there is a lot of other material in the puzzle to like.

A sampling (also including stuff less likely to be liked):

  • Longer fill such as TERRAPIN [Diamondback with a shell], unpartialled MAL DE MER and HOLY SEE, EMPANADA, MANICOTTI, MARMOSETS, and the apt SPLENDID.
  • Mini-farm theme on the left-hand side: 50a [Group in a coop] HENS, 44d [Cattle-fattening facility] FEED LOT, 82a [Porker pad] STY.
  • 75d [Two times penta-?] DECA-. Why a question mark? On the topic of numeric prefixes, TRICE sounds like thrice (although it is wholly unconnected etymologically), but TRI- is in the grid, at 112-down [Cycle starter?], question mark justified.
  • Bonus fill‼ 93a [“Works,” literally] OPERA. Alas, its symmetrical partner is unrelated to the theme: 39a GLOSS [Sheen]. I would have appreciated a fill-in-the-blank (don’t look at me like that) here; an opera GLASS is “a small low-power binocular without prisms.” The crossing vertical could be changed from TOSS to the erstwhile (but mildly crosswordese) Soviet news agency TASS (Телеграфное агентство Советского Союза); I believe those minor compromises would be reasonable.
  • Speaking of FITBs, for 74d [ ___ Shuffle] I so wanted LIDO, when it was IPOD, quotation marks be damned.
  • 62d [Peer of Shadrach] ABEDNEGO was a complete mystery to me. In fact, I thought it was to do with Dutch or Danish or Norwegian, but it turned out not to be a “Peter” Peer and simply the vernacular peer, “equal.” It turns out this guy is a minor figure in the Bibble, cohort also of Meshach. Full story here.
  • More religious ignorance, as 52d BANNS was also a revelation. It’s clued as [Hitching notice] and the dictionary (Merriam-Webster, which I’ve consulted for all definitions today) speaketh thusly: “public announcement especially in church of a proposed marriage (plural of bann, from Middle English bane, ban proclamation … First Known Use: 14th century).” Interestingly, it appears only in the plural. The crossing of BANNS and 58a [French king Hugh] CAPET was totally unknown to me, but I guessed correctly the first time, with an A. The last square I filled in.
  • Ludwig van appears in the puzzle again, with reference to his symphonic EROICA (117a).
  • Not a duplication per se, but I was nonetheless fazed by 34d [Aspersions] SLURS echoing the proximate 19d [According to] AS PER.
  • Found the odd and awkward 9d [ ___ squared (circle area)] PIR (pi r, π r) to be charming.
  • Completely misread 45d [Spanish appies] TAPAS as “apples.” I suspect that was an intentional ruse. Appie is (someone else’s not my) lingo for “appetizer.”
  • 76a VELDT! How can you not like veldt? Neither sleek nor svelte, yet utterly wonderful.

Above-average puzzle.

John Lieb’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “When Worlds Collide” – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Sunday July 1 2012

Theme: Take phrases with the word “World” in them and replace “World” with another word (shown in red below) that fits the clue but is otherwise unrelated. (If there is more to this please tell me in the comments.) (Thanks to Andrew: 2 halves to the themers; first half is a phrase that ends with WORLD and second half is phrase that starts with WORLD; hence the title. So DEAD TO THE WORLD meets WORLD ATLAS and so on.)

Theme answers:

  • 24A. [View from much of the Oregon coast?] – WATER WITHOUT END. Oregon is on the Pacific ocean.
  • 36A. [What Ceylon, Siam and Upper Volta are nowadays?] – DEAD TO THE ATLAS. These are now known as (going by memory) Sri Lanka, Thailand and South Carolina.
  • 51A. [List of The Duke’s films?] – WAYNE’S HISTORY. Canada Day shout out to Johnny Wayne.
  • 68A. [Double eagle in a PGA event?] – SHOT HEARD ROUND THE TOUR. A double eagle is a rare golf shot where two birds are hit by one ball.
  • 89A. [Battleship game setting?] – SEA OF WARCRAFT. B-10.
  • 101A. [Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, at the time?] – BRAVE NEW RECORD. Aaron was an Atlanta Brave, at the time.
  • 119A. [Pneumatic tube in a drive-thru?] – WONDER OF THE BANK. No idea. Did Stevie Wonder play a pneumatic tube?

The randomness of the new phrases seems odd to me. (Wrong as noted above. Much less random and odd.)

Other stuff:

  • 28A. [Country singer who was an 8-year-old “Star Search” contestant] – RIMES.
  • 45A. [Comic Amsterdam] – MOREY. Buddy on the Dick Van Dyke Show. Currently showing on MeTV.
  • 46A. [Board-certified talk show host] – DROZ. Ludwig Von Droz.
  • 58A. [2002 Streisand album] – DUETS
  • 60A. [“Bohemian Rhapsody” addressee] – MAMA
  • 66A. [Carp cousins] – DACES. New to me. It appears Mr Carp married Ms. Dace so the Carp family and the Dace family are now related.
  • 96A. [“Fun, Fun, Fun” car] – T-BIRD
  • 106A. [Character in “Scooby-Doo”?] – HYPHEN. Who can forget Velma T-Bird?
  • 127A. [Battle of Thermopylae victor, 480 B.C.] – XERXES. Also known as the Battle of the X’s.
  • 14D. [The 1973 Mets’ “Ya Gotta Believe!,” e.g.] – SLOGAN. The Mets finished only 3 1/2 games ahead of the 4th place Expos. Quiz: Which one of these was not a member of the ’73 Expos: John Boccabella, Boots Day, Gary Carter?
  • 44D. [Runner down under?] – STYX
  • 95D. [Movie props?] – OSCAR NOD. Best clue.
  • 115D. [Jazzy Horne] – LENA
  • 122D. [Plunk preceder] – KER. I always love KER, although it really is a lousy word.
  • 124A. [“Later, dude”] – I’M GONE (But check me out at Rex Parker Does the New York Times Crossword today)

Quiz answer: Gary Carter didn’t join the Expos until 1974.

Bob Klahn’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 117” – Doug’s review

Bob Klahn's Washington Post solution 7/1/12, "The Post Puzzler No. 117"

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. Were you surprised when you saw today’s byline? This is Bob Klahn’s debut Post Puzzler, and it’s a doozy. Chock-full of crazy (in a good way) entries and definitions. I had a good time solving this one. Tough puzzle, but well worth the struggle. I hope you stuck it out and didn’t yell I GIVE! (2d. [What’s the answer already?!]).

  • 1a. [What might help you deal with a lousy situation?] – FINE COMB. Yep, lousy as in lice. Ick!
  • 8d. [Unwanted pickup?] – BAD VIBE. I made a goofball mistake on this entry. I had BAD V_ _ _ and for some reason decided that BAD VICE was the right answer. BAD VICE is a horrible entry, and I should have realized it’s not the sort of thing one would find in a Klahn/Gordon puzzle, but I convinced myself it was correct. That gave me CRAC SCRATCH for 26a. [Club DJ’s turntable technique], which I assumed was one of those hip-hoppy misspellings like “Tha Carter” or Eazy-E. So bad vibes for me on that crossing.
  • 17a. [Speak slightingly of] – VILIPEND. Wow, there’s a word I’ve never heard before. I assume it’s related to “vilify.” If you’re interested, here’s a nice little article on vilipend.
  • 38a. [Like the pooch Petey from “Our Gang”] – RING-EYED.
  • 11d. [Member of the 1927 New York Yankees] – RED GRANGE. OK, this one’s just mean! I know the ’27 Yankees (considered by some to be the best baseball team of all-time) pretty darn well. I figured LOU GEHRIG was too obvious. WAITE HOYT? BOB MEUSEL? Nope, it’s football legend RED GRANGE… huh? Aha, there was a professional football team called the New York Yankees that played from 1926-1928. Bob Klahn strikes again!
  • 12d. [February celebration signed into law by Sarah Palin in 2009] – MARMOT DAY. It replaced Groundhog Day as a holiday honoring Alaska’s marmots. That gives me a great idea for a sequel starring Bill Murray.
  • 39a. [Beeline communication?] – WAGGLE DANCE. My favorite entry (even though I don’t like bees). A waggle dance “is a particular figure-eight dance of the honey bee. By performing this dance, successful foragers can share with other members of the colony, information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, to water sources, or to new housing locations.” (Wikipedia)

Other goodies: DOGGO, PIGGYBACK, RAINIER Wolfcastle, and a shout-out to head fiend ORANGE.

One last note. Brad Wilber has posted a new themeless puzzle. You can find his June Themeless at the Island of Lost Puzzles. As usual, you can choose to solve with either Smooth or Crunchy clues, or use a little of each. Enjoy!

Updated Sunday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, July 1

This one lived up to the “Sunday Challenge” billing, that’s for sure. It was a bit like running a marathon. The going as tough. There were times I thought about throwing in the towel. I’m happy to have finished. It was good for me. And I won’t feel like doing something like this again for a quite a while.

I lost a lot of time with AUDIT TRAIL, the [Access history]. My problem was sticking with TOW as the answer to [Hill-climbing gear] (you know, like a ski tow) instead of LOW (as in the automobile gear below Drive). That gave me TRAIT as the last word in the answer to [Access history]. Not surprisingly, I hit a wall going down that path.

Other clues that tricked me:

  • I thought SWEDISH should have been the answer to [Like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”], but there weren’t enough squares and, oh yeah, it was wrong. R-RATED was the right answer.
  • I thought ARIA was a decent guess to [“La Sylphide” introduced it], especially since it sat in the second row, and A, R, and I are common second letters in words. Had I known it was a ballet, perhaps, I would have uncovered TUTU a little sooner.
  • I thought the [Talker behind bars] was the TENDER of the bar (I knew it couldn’t be the obvious, like a jailhouse songbird). But no, it’s just a PARROT.
  • I had TELE as the [Phone opening?] but it was supposed to be HOMO. That proved problematic, because TEE seemed like a perfectly correct [Bit of a chuckle]. Turns out it was HEH.
  • Once I finally got PARROT, I figured the [Alternative to shells] had to be just plain old PASTA. But Sam, shells are pasta. PENNE is really the only acceptable answer.

Some of the many great clues here include [Where to find Athens and Cairo] for OHIO, [Your highness? (abbr.)] for ELEV. (short for “elevation”), [Hydroelectricity suppliers?] for electric EELS, and [Won’t give up on a dream?] for SLEEPS LATE.

No clue in the world would have helped with RILL, the [Little flower], or SMEARCASE, or [Cottage cheese, to some]. My dictionary says it’s “any soft cheese suitable for spreading or eating with a spoon, especially a sour cottage cheese.” Apparently it is used chiefly in the midwest. But I’ve never heard of it. An odd name for an odd food, IMO.

Favorite entry = GOOSE CHASE, the [Wild thing]. Favorite clue = [Greek who played with matches?] for EROS, the love god who specialized in match-making.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Parade Route”

Merl Reagle "Parade Route" crossword answers, 7 1 12

So I guess this theme references “Seventy-Six Trombones” from The Music Man, though I really don’t know anything about the song. Also, 76 trombones is a ridiculous number for a single marching band. I’m guessing that the song lists all these other instruments in the grid as being part of the band. Merl’s [Instrument in the band] answers include GONG, CLARINET, EUPHONIUM (only three Across theme answers), TRUMPET, BASSOON, HORNS, TYMPANI, REEDS, and BASS. Really? Does the song use “horns” and “reeds” to subsume entire lists of instruments? The trumpet gets singled out but not the tuba? Clarinet but not oboe?

Also in the theme, the circled letters parading through the grid spell out TROMBONES LED THE BIG PARADE WITH CORNETS CLOSE AT HAND. If you don’t know the song, the circled phrase doesn’t give you a lick of help with the anguished fill in those areas. TROG, [Caveman, slangily (and the name of Joan Crawford’s last film)]. CAT DOC (you mean VET?). REGLE, [En ___ (by the rules, in French)]. CHM, [CEO’S other hat, freq.]; apparently it’s short for chairman but somehow CHM is not something that appears in many crosswords despite crosswords’ affinity for three-letter abbreviations. E NOTE, [Part of a C major]. STEN, [Old British gun], familiar if you know your old crosswordese. SERIATE, [Arranged in sequence] (can you use this word correctly in a sentence?). EGY, [Arab Spring country: abbr.]—no! Really? No. It can’t be. OLIGO CARR STEN EGY does not make for an attractive section of the grid (plus OSO and TALCS in the crossings).

Yes, it is difficult to run such a long song line up, down, forwards, and backwards in a grid and get the Across and Down words to fit. Given my utter lack of delight at a Music Man theme, the many trade-offs required left me scowling and scoffing way too much during my solve. If the song enchants you, you may well have loved how this puzzle played out. But for me, it’s a big 2.5-star “meh.”

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29 Responses to Sunday, 7/1/12

  1. LAT: 2 halves to the themers; first half is a phrase that ends with WORLD and second half is phrase that starts with WORLD; hence the title. So DEAD TO THE WORLD meets WORLD ATLAS and so on.

  2. pannonica says:

    CS: I didn’t think cottage cheese could possibly be more unappealing than it is intrinsically, but learning that SMEARCASE is a name for a variety of it has proven me wrong.

  3. non-Anonymous says:

    Great writeup, Jeffrey! Spot-on parody.

  4. pannonica says:

    Ditto, Jeffrey, and I noticed the domain you used.

  5. Fletcher B. says:

    Two questions about Bob Klahn’s Washington Post crossword: 2D – “What’s the answer already?!”, why is it “I give”? Also, 49A, “boy’s mom” is “Jane” – is “Boy” a well-known literary (or TV/film) character? Thanks!

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I GIVE = “I give up.” Tarzan and Jane’s son is Boy.

  7. David says:

    For the Reagle, the notepad points out an additional layer to the theme. The full lyrics are “76 trombones led the big parade with 110 cornets close at hand”. Merl put the parade in the lower half of the grid so that ‘trombones’ starts at square 76 and ‘cornets’ starts at square 110

  8. Meem says:

    Merl’s puzzle is devilishly clever. The parade starts at square 76 for the song that begins:
    76 trombones led the big parade with 110 cornets close at hand. Note the square in which the “c” in cornets falls. Merl’s special note is spot on.

  9. Gareth says:

    @Reagle: I have it on good authority that “in the washington post magazine, where they can do color on sunday, the black squares are in blue and the parade route is in red, making it a very appropriate-looking fourth-of-july-weekend puzzle.”

  10. jane lewis says:

    there is a line in the song 76 trombones which says there were a thousand reeds springing up like weeds. the main character in the music man is a scammer – he gets the people in a town excited about forming a boys’ band – to keep the boys out of trouble – takes money from them for the uniforms and then vanishes. of course he falls in love with marian, the librarian – played by shirley jones in the movie – and, eventually, after she tries to expose him as a con man, she falls for him. robert preston is terrific in the movie.

  11. pannonica says:

    Nothing about monorails?

  12. Jim Horne says:

    Look, whadya talk, whadya talk, whadya talk? Big smiles from me doing the Merl Reagle Parade Route. Great fun.

  13. jane lewis says:

    the lead-in to the song “76 trombones” has robert preston, as conman harold hill, describing the unforgettable day when several – i think three, including john philip sousa – all came to his town on the very same day – presumably they each brought their own band.

  14. Jeffrey says:

    Reagle is my favorite of the day.

  15. Martin says:

    The Music Man was the first musical I saw on Broadway. My parents took me to a matinee when I was seven. Needless to say, I’ve got a special place in my heart for it.

    The play won six Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Actor (Robert Preston) and Best Actress (Barbara Cook). “76 trombones led the big parade with 110 cornets close at hand” is an important bit of Americana, to my mind. In addition to the parade route, Merl got every instrument in the song into the fill. Truly magical.

  16. Jan says:

    I’ve been to a football game where the bands of the opposing teams, plus some alums, played “76 Trombones” with 76 trombones lined up at the front of the band. One of the best ones I’ve been to! It was at Notre Dame several years ago, and I think the other band might have been Michigan State; their bands often collaborate.

  17. pannonica says:

    A Mass for Mass Trombones: requiem for 77 trombones, by Wendy Mae Chambers.

  18. Anne says:

    Re – Reagle. What on earth does POSSLQS at 47a mean?

  19. Martin says:


    Person of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. It was a census category for a while that meant “living in sin.” POSSLQ became a thing, pronounced “poss’il-queue.” Some people still prefer it to “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” for its innate gender-equality. The same-sex version, PSSSLQ (pronounced “piss’il-queue”) never caught on for some reason.

  20. Jeff Chen says:


  21. John Farmer says:

    Merl’s “Big Parade” was a big hit here. In case it wasn’t clear already, the parade and its song take place on the Fourth of July. It’s not just some random tune.

  22. Alan H. says:

    Just want to note that Klahn’s CS had NO fill in the blank clues. Not sure I’ve ever seen that before!

  23. Fletcher B. says:

    Thanks, Amy, for answering my questions about the Bob Klahn puzzle. Now that I’ve done the Reagle puzzle, I see that Jane is there too (93D: noted swingers mate).

  24. T Campbell says:

    Nobody else seems to have cited this, but the reason the circled letters take an unusual shape is that Reagle is using not one but two square numbers in the song lyric. The original lyric is


  25. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @T: David mentioned that eight hours ago.

    I am way more impressed with stylistic constructor tricks when I don’t have to wade through fill like EGY that takes my head out of the puzzle.

  26. Argghh. To cook up a spectacular, inventive omelet of a puzzle like today’s Merl requires breaking some egys. I’m weary of the carping about inferior fill in superior puzzles. You know that Merl did everything possible to limit lesser-quality fill. If he took this incessant carping seriously we wouldn’t have today’s breath of fresh air puzzle at all. Given the time and effort they put into their most ambitious creations, what do you think constructors’ reactions are to this kind of tsk tsking?

  27. John Haber says:

    Can’t get a much duller theme than the Sunday NYT. Oh, I take that back. If you go just by the opening crossings of the central entry, plus the length of the answer, it could have been “born in the United States.” Think of how lame that would have been.

  28. Nance says:

    Loved Merl’s puzzle. Thought it was clever and a fun fill. At first I searched thru the “parade route” looking for 2 numbers that would spark an idea, spotted 76, thought of trombones, etc. Thought at first it was only a listing of the instruments. Then realized the route had more significance. Loved it.

  29. Alex says:

    I guess no one does Frank Longo’s KFS Premier puzzle, because someone surely would have pointed out by now that it has the exact same theme as today’s NYT. Wow.

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