Tuesday, 7/3/12

NYT 3:31 
LAT 2:58 (Neville) 
Blindauer 21:00 (Matt) 
CS 6:12 (Sam) 
Jonesin' untimed 

We’re about a month off from Lollapuzzoola 5! Saturday, August 4, in the Upper East Side of the Manhattan Island. Optional Pizza Social after the crossword tournament concludes. Visit bemoresmarter.com for details.

Heads up! Matt Gaffney’s review of Patrick Blindauer’s July puzzle will appear below. If you didn’t get a chance to download the puzzle yet, here’s the PDF link.

Announcement #3! Late addition! Pete Muller’s Monthly Music Meta contest puzzle for July is now up here. It’s a fun one.

Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 3 12 0703

Fun theme: Add -STER to the end of a word found in a familiar phrase to warp its meaning.

  • 17a. [Cheer to an interstate trucker?], GO, TEAMSTER! Go, team, go! Plenty of Teamsters (the majority, I’d wager) are not interstate truckers. In fact, many don’t drive trucks at all. Would like the clue better if it said just “trucker” or “union truck driver.”
  • 28a. [One who peruses the dictionary?], WEBSTER BROWSER. Love this one! Who among us has not browsed the dictionary and made serendipitous discoveries?
  • 45a. [Newsman Anderson with a theology degree?], MINISTER COOPER. Nice play on the Mini Cooper supercompact car. The deliciously handsome Anderson Cooper is topical this week, having officially come out to complete strangers on Monday. (He was already out to people who know him.)
  • 59a. [One who’s very good at rocking the cradle?], YO-YO MASTER. This one is brilliant. You get the “rock the cradle” double meaning (literal vs. yo-yo trick) plus a play on Yo-Yo Ma.

Highlights in the fill: ALTAR BOY, LET IT BE, TAPESTRY, SPYWARE, HACIENDA. The HERETIC clue amuses me: [Galileo, to some]. As if we’re going to be fair and balanced here; “Some say he’s a scientific genius. To others, he’s a heretic to be shunned. Watch Dateline tomorrow for surprising new information about Galileo that will change the way you think about him.”

I could always do without EDO in the fill, but didn’t really encounter anything that made me scowl while doing this puzzle. 4.25 stars.

Patrick Blindauer’s July blog puzzle — Matt’s review

Patrick Blindauer is a cruciverbal cubist lately, dicing two of his recent crosswords up and then rearranging the results like a puzzle-making Picasso. In May’s “Dirty Double Crossword” he sliced the across clues off one and the down clues off the other of an identically-gridded pair of puzzles; in July’s “Quarter Master” he’s swapped the NW and SE and NE and SW quadrants of a standard 17×17 crossword with each other, with similarly beguiling results.

Here’s what the puzzle grid looked like unsolved:

not your everyday crossword grid

Whoa, that’s a lot of grid infractions — two-letter words, unchecked letters, 53 black squares (OK, it’s a 17×17 grid, but still), un-numbered entries…and the small matter of all four grid quadrants being totally cut off from each other. In short, it looks like the TV Guide crossword after you’ve licked a toad’s head in the Arizona desert.

But wait: here’s what it looks like when you put it back together (sorry for lousy Paint skills today, but you get the idea):

now it looks completely normal

See the trick? It’s not really a 17×17 puzzle, it’s a 16×16; the intersecting axes of black squares are actually the outer edges of the grid. The theme entries spell out the explanation: THE ANSWERS GO OVER / THE EDGE OF THE GRID / BUT COME BACK AGAIN / FROM THE OTHER SIDE.

Nice gimmick, eh? This isn’t the first time crossword answers have disappeared from one edge of a crossword only to reappear on the other, but Patrick’s new twist on this is the complete swap of the grid’s four quadrants, which is aesthetically pleasing and also wryly humorous.

As for the puzzle itself, as a crossword: I liked EGG TOSS, FIRE LANE, DUE DATES, GAS LEAKS, LOVE TAP, SBARRO, GREECE and TOUCHE. YOU SEE how much better fill a crossword has with lots of 6-, 7- and 8-letter entries?

Patrick certainly has his own style of crossword, doesn’t he? If you gave me 5 Blindauers, 5 BEQs, 5 Liz Gorskis and 5 Merl Reagles I bet I’d go 18/20 or better on who wrote what. I love how the internet has allowed more excellent constructors to develop and showcase their personal crossword skills and styles.

May it continue — or should I say August it continues, since that’s when I’ll see you back here to find out what clever trick Patrick has come up with next.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 7 3 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 7 3 12

Hot darn this was a fun puzzle. Great work, Gareth!

  • 20a. [Cultivated area with sloped sides] SUNKEN GARDEN
  • 28a. [Planet size calculation] – SURFACE AREA
  • 44a. [Birkenstock fastener] – SANDAL STRAP
  • 52a. [Summer getaway that characteristically has the three components hidden at the beginnings of 20-, 28- and 44-Across] – BEACH HOLIDAY

That’s a cute – and quite timely – theme. There’s a nice bonus with THONG in the corner. It’s clued as [Skimpy swimwear], but you can think of it as a sandal, if you must.

I love the stack in the northwest corner of MTWTF atop AEIOU. It makes for a neat little dichotomy, don’t you think?

Let’s stop beating around the bush. There are four great vertical entries in this puzzle:

  • FUTURAMA, which I thought might’ve been too esoteric for the LA Times, but was pleased to see
  • JACKIE CHAN, and yes, Karate Kid 2 comes out next year
  • ROCKABILLY, which gets the clue [Hybrid ’50s musical genre] even though the first song that came to my mind was 1981’s “Rock this Town”

What’s this? No Q? You could’ve had a pangram, Gareth! Oh well. Shout out to Jeff Chen’s puzzle from yesterday with VERA at 34a., that’s a nice editorial decision from Rich Norris.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Romney Present” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, July 3

In honor of this year’s Republican nominee for President, today’s puzzle inserts the letter sequence M-I-T-T into three common terms so as to make three wacky new ones:

  • 17-Across: “Up and coming” becomes UP AND COMMITTING, [Like a busy criminal after arising from bed?].
  • 36-Across: Have you heard of a “reed organ?” If so, you’re better than me. Let’s turn to Wikipedia for an explanation: “A reed organ, also called a parlor (or parlour) organ, pump organ, cabinet organ, cottage organ, is an organ that generates its sounds using free metal reeds. Smaller, cheaper and more portable than pipe organs, reed organs were widely used in smaller churches and in private homes in the 19th century, but their volume and tonal range are limited.” Inner Beavis wishes “pump organ” was the more common term. Anyway, the reed organ here becomes a REMITTED ORGAN, a [Keyboard instrument sent as payment?]
  • 59-Across: The “Y chromosome” becomes the MITTY CHROMOSOME, the [Genetic component of fantasizer Walter?]. I have a soft spot for puzzles that riff on Y CHROMOSOME.

Good thing the fairness doctrine doesn’t apply to crosswords, because it would be significantly harder to make a puzzle with a B-A-R-A-C-K letter sequence.

Surprisingly (okay, maybe not so much), you’ll find every letter of the alphabet in this grid. Unlike other pangrammatic grids that feel forced, this one has FINESSE (literally!). Highlights include QUARK, V-SIX, I MEAN IT, SEAQUAKE, TOP DOGS, and HOOKAH, the [Boston escort], er, [Wonderland caterpillar’s pipe].

Favorite entry = AUTO ZONE, the [NAPA competitor]. Favorite clue = [Hogwarts lesson] for a magic SPELL.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “British Invasion”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 7 3 12 "British Invasion"

Nice title for a puzzle in which the letters “UK” invade each theme answer:

  • 16a. [Writing assignment that, through complete luck, got an A?], FLUKY PAPER.
  • 19a. [Did away with Homer’s neighbor for good?], NUKED FLANDERS.
  • 34a. [Band of John Wayne-loving computer programmers?], DUKE CODER RING.
  • 52a. Completely fooled one of the Beverly Hillbillies?], JUKED CLAMPETT. Not familiar with this “juke” verb sense. Dictionary shows it meaning “zigzag,” and you might zigzag to elude someone. Related to “completely fooled”?
  • 58a. Bumper sticker slogan for Stooges fans?], I HEART “NYUK.” Saved the best for last.

Five freshies:

  • 10d. [Warning on video games with lots of gore], RATED M. My son is still not allowed to play the M games. T’s the limit.
  • 3d. [Seeker’s cry to the hider], FOUND YOU. Well, only if the seeker is successful and the hiders haven’t all left the neighborhood to be cruel.
  • 43d. [Selena’s music genre], TEJANO. Hey, look! The late Selena made it into a clue, instead of being in the grid clued as the late Tejano singer played by J-Lo in a TV biopic. Did you know: Selena Gomez was named after the one-named Selena, before the latter’s death?
  • 47d. SIT ‘N [___ Spin (classic toy)]! Along with the Slip ‘N Slide, the best “S. ‘n S.” toy from my childhood. The toy company ruined the Sit ‘N Spin, though. I bought one for my son when he was a tot, and that thing played loud music. Isn’t the appeal the endless spinning, not a lights ‘n music show?
  • 55d. [Fighting word that means “hand,” not “person”], MANO. “Mano a mano” is not “man to man.”

3.5 stars.


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42 Responses to Tuesday, 7/3/12

  1. Huda says:

    I really like the vibe of this puzzle, even though I think it’s misplaced, as it felt more like a well constructed Monday. Agree with Amy re the YO-YO MASTER clue. Even though I love Anderson COOPER, I felt for some reason that that theme answer was the least consistent with the rest.

    I did not look at the constructor before solving but as I went along I guessed it was a woman. May be it’s the way TRY ON, BLAZER, DORA, etc.. are clued.

    PS. How did I already know about Anderson Cooper? Still, I appreciated the link and really like what he said. He is so thoughtful. One of my favorite journalists, all good looks aside.

  2. Tuning Spork says:

    I deducted one star from BP2’s monthly puzzle because he, apparently, didn’t think ahead to invert parts 1 & 2 and parts 3 & 4 of the revealer quote before filling the grid so that the revealer quote would present itself in correct order.

    Maybe it’s a minor quibble. But I suspect that PB2, having completed his work, looked upon what he had done (and had neglected to do) and, summarily, smacked his forhead in self-disgust.

    4.37 stars.

    EDIT: To illustrate the point, here is the grid in it’s unquartered, 16×16 form: PB2712grid

    I think we all know what the seed entries were, and in what order they should have appeared in the posted puzzle. :-P

    EDIT: “But, Spork,” I can already hear someone (me) say, “It was a chopped up grid. That’s why the quote had to appear the way it did.” I disagree.

    But, then again, this is why I shy away from debates over politics, religion and crossword puzzles.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Tuning Spork, I’m not understanding the criticism. The revealer quotes are labeled 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the chopped-up grid, and appear in correct syntactical order in the not-chopped-up grid.

  4. Tuning Spork says:

    Matt, my criticism is that the revealer quotes should have appeared, in order, as 1, 2 ,3 ,4 rather than 3, 4, 1, 2. Since Pat, obviously, seeded the revealers, he could have build the puzzle around a chopped-up quote rather than the straight forward grid. It would have legitimized the adding of the extra dimention.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    But then they wouldn’t have been in order in the straightforward grid, correct? So it was a matter of choosing which grid would have the revealers in 1,2,3,4 order and you prefer the other way, do I have it right? (Sorry for being a little thick here, it’s late and this is semi-confusing anyway)

    I see your point but I prefer the way Patrick did it; I think it’s sort of funny that, as with May’s puzzle, all he really did was take a normal crossword and chop it up and re-present it. So simple, except not.

  6. Tuning Spork says:

    I’ll give supreme chops to PB2 for coming up with this variant of the overlap. But I think it could’ve been more majestic had the quote been intact, and unbroken, within the broken grid. That’s the reason that I deducted 0.63 stars.

    But, as with all indisputable facts, your mileage may vary. :-D

  7. Laura says:

    At last, my useless store of Survivor knowledge pays off! (PB puzzle)

  8. Evad says:

    Would a crustacean enjoying Wimbledon be a TENNIS LOBSTER? :) I think the choice of base phrases in this one really elevated it above most add-a-suffix offerings.

  9. HH says:

    “I could always do without EDO in the fill,…”

    What if the clue was [TV actor ___’Neill]?

  10. pauer says:

    Fun NYT theme – wondered is we’d see a SPINSTER CITY or a HIPSTER REPLACEMENT, but these were great. YOYOMASTER was the seed, I’m guessing.

    Thanks for the write-up on my July puz, Matt. I might have to borrow some of it to use as quotes on the back cover of the book that these might eventually become. And the licking toad comment almost had me spraying coffee all over my laptop. :)

    I see what you mean, T-Spork, and I did consider doing it that way. In the end, I thought it would help the solvers more if I did it my way, so they’re unraveling what I’ve done and mentally rebuilding the grid in their heads. Your way is more like a normal quote puzzle, which would make the solving easier but be less satisfying at the end, I think. Hard to say.

  11. Gareth says:

    Yeah what everyone said re the NYT: very fun theme answers before and after! The wacky really was that!

    @Neville: More topical if you’re in the N. hemisphere…

  12. Brian says:

    Amy — thanks for the shout-out about Lollapuzzoola 5!

    Also, for Patrick Blindauer fans, take note that Patrick is once again the Lollapuzzoola co-host. Imagine what it would be to take all the awesomeness condensed into a Patrick Blindauer crossword puzzle — and expand it to consume an entire room of crosswording activities.

    And feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our tournament. I’m brian@bemoresmarter.com.

  13. Jeffrey says:

    @Neville: “I love the stack in the northwest corner of MTWTF atop AEIOU”.

    Well, that could open an interesting debate at Fiend HQ.

  14. *David* says:

    I saw the MTWTF atop the AEIOU as I started the puzzle and at that point threw it away in disgust with a sneer on my lip and a scowl on my forehead, what rubbish I yelled to the woman of the house, let’s cancel our LAT subscription.

  15. J. T. Williams says:

    Did I miss some kind of announcement or something that Joon’s review of the MGWCC would not be posted today?

  16. Gareth says:

    @JT: I don’t see it in the drafts folder, so I’m guessing has had stuff to do this morning… Guess we’ll just have to be patient.

  17. Matt Gaffney says:

    The answer to MGWCC #213 was THE OLYMPIC GAMES, hinted at by the only five O’s in the puzzle being arranged like the Olympic rings. They’re color-coded too; each ring’s O word is the color of the relevant Olympic ring, as is the crossing word. So Oil is black and so ebOny for the black ring, Odie is yellow and so is a lemOn for the yellow ring, and so on.

    192 right answers, which is really high for a week 5. We’re doing something special on the blog next month so I knew I wouldn’t be able to get this Olympics idea in then, but I liked the idea enough to take the Week 5 toughness credibility hit…

    Anything with OLYMPICS in it is counted as correct (Olympic Games, London Olympics, even Special Olympics).

  18. Paul Coulter says:

    This seemed more like a Week 2. I saw the 5 symmetric Os as I solved, then I looked up the colors and it was confirmed. Matt has to work within large constraints of course, but now he’s used Lemon Yellow and Rose Red in consecutive weeks. Too bad the Olympics aren’t in Paris this year, since the grid shape reminds me of the Eiffel Tower. There’s sort of an (unintentional?) nod to London in tea leaf, which is rhyming slang for thief. From the unusual symmetry and the mention of origami, I initially suspected we might have to fold the finished grid Mad Magazine style. Maybe one for the future, Matt?

  19. Matt Gaffney says:

    Nice idea, Paul but that was done in the NYT Sunday a couple of years ago.

  20. Matthew G. says:

    Interesting. I ruled out Olympics as the meta answer because the word Olympics appeared in a clue. Oh well.

  21. ant says:

    Re: MGWCC

    Ugh! I thought it might be the Olympics, but completely discounted that answer, since it appears in the clues (at 29D). And the word RING is in the grid twice. I thought there must be something more going on, especially in week 5, but I just couldn’t find it.

    I was also chasing all of those double letter entries (12 in all)…

  22. Matt Gaffney says:

    That was an oversight on my part (the STRUG clue). Oof, sorry for the hassle ant and Matthew G….neither I nor any test-solver noticed it. Did you guys see the 5 color-coded rings and still reject Olympics because of the clue, or did you not notice the rings?

  23. I *almost* ruled out the Olympics after seeing the STRUG clue but decided it was a more worthwhile guess than anything else I could come up with. My first correctly guessed answer where I didn’t grok it!

    I went with the Olympics based purely on the RINGS in the long across, that it is an “event”, and that the Special Olympics are a thing. Totally missed the 5 O’s and the colors.

  24. ant says:

    I saw the “Os” but thought the answer was possibly a specific event in the games, like the opening ceremonies or a sport. I even thought the double letters meant something, and tried anagramming them. I also considered your recent marriage (congrats, btw) as a possible answer, but “wedding” is used at 17A.

  25. Wayne says:

    I don’t have much patience for the people who whine about the meta. But this week I’m that guy! I got OLYMPICS right away. But then, like @Paul, I figured that that was way too easy for week 5. And more to the point, the individual Olympic competitions are called “events”! No way that was a coincidence; Matt must be asking for a specific event. So I spent all weekend scouring the list of Olympic events, winter and summer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_sports).

    Out of ideas, I spent this morning looking at column 1 (CAP, FLIES, PAT); as the grid suggested (“STARING AT WESTS”).

    Out of time, I submitted “SHOT PUT”, because I figured that the mirror symmetry was there for a reason, and the black squares at the bottom looked vaguely parabolic.

    I suppose I could have over-thought this more than I did. I just can’t imagine how :-)

  26. Bananarchy says:

    Wow, I saw the Os but didn’t notice the colours. I’m awestruck. Looking forward to next month’s special event, Matt!

  27. Pj says:

    Where’s Joon and his blog? I sent in Lighting the torch at the Olympics Opening Ceremony after seeing thr five colored rings, but knew Matt wouldn’t use Olympics in the puzzle if that was the answer, would he? Anyway, the grid looked like the torch, especially with oil in the middle. A bit too much thinking about this fifth week puzzle.

  28. Matt Gaffney says:

    Ugh, Wayne — that comment makes me almost physically ill. I stupidly did not notice “Olympic” in the STRUG clue, and then I didn’t consider that “event” might point people to look for a specific Olympic event, especially since it’s a Week 5 and spotting the colored rings alone was on the easy side. I’m cringing at how much time people may have spent on that wild goose chase…oof. This might ruin my 4th of July.

  29. Bananarchy says:

    Matt, it pains me to see you beat yourself up over a wonderful puzzle (in a free and consistently spectacular series). The only reason an oversight like this seems like such a big deal is because the quality of the metas is consistently so high. Didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all.

    Regarding the MTWTF / AEIOU stack: I actually love stuff like that. Context is everything, though, since neither of those entries are fantastic (yet far from horrible) on their own, especially if they seem like a crutch for the constructor. However, a clearly intentional stack like that at 1-Across gives a puzzle a little panache, IMO, especially when all of the crossings are solid. Reminds me of an old Quarfoot themeless that had MMMMGOOD over AAAMEMBER. Classy.

  30. J. T. Williams says:

    I’m with Pj on lighting the torch, which I considered for a very long time for the same reasons. But I couldn’t find what I like to call the “Gaffney click” for the torch, and when I finally noticed that the color connection went down too (I got the across one pretty quick), I decided that oil was being used for black, not fuel.

  31. Wayne says:

    @Matt: Set that bar any higher and the FAA will be paying you a visit. Wild geese or not, the time we put in on MGWCC #213 this weekend was time well (and enjoyably) spent.

  32. pannonica says:

    Ah. I was wondering why there so many comments for a non-controversial Tuesday post. The chronology of the MGWCC write-up explains it.

    But as long as I’ve mentioned controversies (and apparently I love them), my 2¢ (saved from the RPDTNYTCP site):

    • LAT: MTWTF atop AEIOU = genius.
    • Blindauer: Although I didn’t solve it, I agree with Patrick’s and Matt’s approach; to do otherwise seems schizophrenic (in the proper sense of the word).

  33. Pj says:

    Ditto Bananarchy and Wayne,Matt. I never mind spending time on one of your puzzles; that’s what weekends are for, aren’t they.

  34. Jeff Chen says:

    @Matt Gaffney: I just started doing your puzzles, and love them! I didn’t get the meta this week, but mainly because I’m a moron. I struggled with the word ENTABLATURE and figured the ENHANCEMENT in symmetry must mean something. Addition of EN to different words in the puzzle? ENter Ns to various entries?

    I’m still looking.

    I considered submitting OLYMPICS because of the Strug clue, but totally missed the five rings. Awesome, keep ’em coming, great work!

  35. Matt Gaffney says:

    Bananarchy — I appreciate the comment, but I never accept the “they’re free, so people shouldn’t complain too much” argument since 1) I do get paid for these via the tip jar, puzzle social, the forthcoming (fall 2012) book, and a couple of other ways, and more importantly 2) they may be technically free but solvers invest their time on the puzzles, so oversights like this irk the hell out of me since they damage the constructor-solver trust that a puzzle will be fair, gettable and consistent. I’ll get over it, and there’ve only been maybe 5 MGWCC’s out of 213 where I feel I’ve really screwed up, but this is one of them.

  36. Matt Gaffney says:

    Jeff Chen: great to have you solving! Picked a suboptimal week to start, I’m afraid, but it’ll pick up! I dug your VW puzzle, elegant construction.

  37. joon says:

    hey, sorry everybody about not getting my post up on time, although it looks like the comments thread over there is now plenty busy, too.

    couple thoughts on the non-MGWCC puzzles:

    1. loved the NYT puzzle. YO-YO MASTER is excellent, but the whole theme is elegantly conceived and executed. a very fine puzzle.
    2. i got a chuckle out of MTWTF on AEIOU. and now i’m wondering, if you wanted to go crazy, what could you stick below that to make crazy 3×5 stack? probably best not to think about these things.
    3. why was QUARK clued as a {Hypothetical particle} in the CS? the empirical evidence for quarks is overwhelming. i don’t want to be That Guy whining about scientific illiteracy again, but geez, calling quarks “hypothetical” is like saying that evolution is “just a theory”. if you want to clue AXION as hypothetical, fine. any of various supersymmetric partners (selectron, gluino, whatever), be my guest. HIGGS BOSON? fine, as long as your puzzle comes out before tomorrow. but the good old QUARK, merely “hypothetical”? did not like that.

  38. Martin says:

    What’s wrong with hypothetical or theoretical?

    The problem is not with calling evolution a theory. The problem is not having a clue what that means and equating it with “not true.”

    The Standard Model is a damned good theory, along with evolution.

    Here’s to Higgs!

  39. john farmer says:

    I think Joon’s comment may contain a spoiler for this week’s The Week puzzle. But I was kind of expecting it might have been in last week’s too.

  40. David says:

    Tiny critique about the FUTURAMA clue in the LAT. The show has a sliding timescale, such that its setting is always 1000 years in the future (give or take a year); it’s not permanently stuck in 3000. For example, last week’s episode was about the 3012 presidential election. Calling Futurama a show set in the year 3000 is analogous to calling The Simpsons a show set in the year 1989.

    Don’t worry, the rest of the puzzle was highly enjoyable. I’m just worried people might have thought the answer was one of the numerous other 8-letter animated series set in the 31st century.

  41. Martin says:


    If it helps, think of the FUTURAMA of the entry as Season 1. It’s called “Futurama” and fits the clue. It doesn’t bother you that there is more than one “Polio vaccine pioneer,” right? As long as some example fits the clue, its job is done.

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