Tuesday, 8/14/12

NYT 3:11 
Jonesin' untimed 
LAT 3:38 (Neville) 
CS 6:43 (Sam) 

Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 14 12

I really like this theme, except for the INNER CITY theme revealer that fails on two counts. First, each of the theme entries contains a world capital, not just a garden-variety city. Second, two of the five cities (LONDON, HAVANA) aren’t “inner”—they reach to the end of their entries. That said, I do enjoy a good geography theme, and a lively set of phrases and names that contain world capitals is neat. John Gotti the TEFLON DON, cosmonaut YURI GAGARIN (Riga), Jewish wedding staple HAVA NAGILA, ELI MANNING (Lima), and BAKING STONE (Kingston, Jamaica—hey, that’s where Usain Bolt lives) make up a solid set.

Highlights: “TOLD YA” and “THE JIG IS UP” are colloquial speech, which I like to see in the grid. I didn’t know that [Many an illustration in The Economist] was a CARICATURE, but I hear good things about the publication. I also like the PEAS clue, [Food items catapulted with a spoon, maybe], because I was just suggesting elsewhere that multi-purpose cafeteria spoons could be used to catapult peas or pudding.

Could do without these: Crosswordese ONE-A, AWN, NENE. Partials AS I, A SAD, ON OR. The [Skin woe] TINEA—if RINGWORM is too icky for the crossword grid (or the clue list), so is its Latinate name.

3.5 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Hybrid Cars”

Jonesin’ • 8/16/12 • “Hybrid Cars” • solution

Four 15-letter answers make up this week’s “Hybrid Cars” theme. Each is made by mashing up a car make/model and a word/name that starts with the car name’s final 2 or 3 letters:

  • 17a. [Hybrid pickup with really low visibility?], TOYOTA TACOMAGOO. The Toyota Tacoma meets myopic Mr. Magoo. (“Myopic” should mean “movie about a muscle.)
  • 33a. [Hybrid car that floats in the ocean?], CHEVY MALIBUOYED. Chevrolet Malibu, buoyed.
  • 42a. Hybrid car with a really old sound system?], HONDA CIVICTROLA. Honda Civic, Victrola phonograph.
  • 62a. [Hybrid car that runs a few seconds, then stops, then runs again, then stops again…?], FORD FIESTACCATO. Ford Fiesta, staccato. Wow, that would be an annoying car to drive.

Handsome grid, no? I like the stacked 10s in the corners, four fresh answers—the ARCHBISHOP on a RAZOR BLADE trying to AVERAGE OUT those RELAXED FIT jeans.

Three clues of note:

  • 28a. [It may feature a store from a mile away], LOCAL AD. Without any crossings, the clue was inscrutable.
  • 45a. [Land speed record holder], CHEETAH. Shoot, I wanted USAINBOLT. With a USA rebus square, he’d fit here, but he’s Jamaican.
  • 3d. [“Saturn Devouring His Son” painter], GOYA. “Dad! Dad, it’s me! I’m your son! What are y— *crunch*”

Never heard of 53a: “Supermodified” DJ AMON Tobin or 29d: “Stretch Limousine on Fire” folk rocker CATIE Curtis. And you?

3.5 stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Chow Down!” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, August 14

The theme is apparent from the five longest Across entries, but just for good measure, 52-Down and 44-Down combine to tell us that a TABLE / SETTING is an [Apt alternative title for this puzzle]. Each of the five long Across answers is a term beginning with a part of a table setting:

  • 17-Across: The [Sharply creased skirt feature] is a KNIFE-PLEAT. As one who doesn’t own many skirts (okay, none), this term was new to me.
  • 25-Across: One who is FORK-TAILED is said to be [Having the widest end feathers at the outside, as in many birds]. Is the “as in many birds” part really necessary? What else has feathers?
  • 35-Across: The [Wading bird with a long, flat beak] is a SPOONBILL. The second avian clue. Why do I feel like Tippi Hedren all of a sudden?
  • 51-Across: PLATE ARMOR is [What a knight might wear]. Only the ones that want to live, anyway.
  • 60-Across: [“The White Album” song with several references to other Beatles recordings] is GLASS ONION. I didn’t know this, so I took a listen. You can, too.

I applaud the ambition here: five theme entries and a 12-letter revealer (59 total theme squares!), coupled with triple-7’s in every corner. Don’t try this at home! That said, I don’t count this among my favorite puzzles. Too much of the fill was either a bit too weak (LPN, LPS, OLA, ETRE, OPER, AES) or just far, far outside my wheelhouse to give me much entertainment (most notably DORAL, DAKTARI, and three of the five theme entries). But that’s just me. I suspect there’s a large solving demographic out there that really enjoyed this one.

Let’s end with today’s installment of Name That Constructor Month. I feel fairly confident that this is a Bruce Venzke puzzle, but I could be reading too much into the clue for POOL, [Snooker’s cousin] (Bruce used to write articles for billiards magazines). The pop culture references here seem consistent with other puzzles from Bruce, too. But we’ve seen me get duped like this before, so I better take all three guesses for insurance. My other two guesses are based on my thinking, “Hmm, I don’t recall seeing this byline in a while.” That seems about as good an approach as any. Thus we have:

1. Bruce Venzke. 2. Sarah Keller. 3. Ray Hamel.

Ding ding ding! That’s two in a row, which means I’m due for a 10-day stretch of complete misses. Perhaps it starts tomorrow!

Name That Constructor Stats After 13 Puzzles: 5 correct first choices (3 points each), 2 correct second choices (2 points each), 1 correct third choice (1 point each); 20 points total so far; new score to beat = 30.5 points.

Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 8 13 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 8 13 12

Aye, what’s going on here? If you haven’t solved this one, go back and do it – it’s a MUST-READ… er, must-solve.

  • 20a. [“Rocky III” theme song that became a #1 hit for Survivor] – EYE OF THE TIGER
  • 31a. [Bart Simpson’s “Good grief!”] – AY CARAMBA
  • 41a. [Robert Graves novel narrated by Nero’s predecessor] – I, CLAUDIUS
  • 53a. [“Roger,” on a ship] – AYE AYE, CAPTAIN

Damn fine puzzle here. “But Neville, 1-Across is a Roman numeral – and a rather arbitrary one at that!” Quit your whining! Yes, it’s a basic square one theme, but it’s well executed with theme entries coming from all different realms. Each begins with a homophone.

But now look at the long fill, and boy is it long! SANTA ANA wins with with the clue [Windy West Coast city?] That’s cute-and-a-half; I could go on IF YOU WANT. No? Well then, WHERE WAS I? Oh that’s right – long stuff like the MAD HATTER. You don’t like that? C’EST LA VIE!

We’ve seen a good theme and good long fill. What about the short stuff? Hm, we’ve got [iPhone message] for TEXT and [World’s largest cosmetics company] for L’OREAL. Those are both winners. [Breezed through] gives ACED, not my original guess of SPED – that’s a tricky one! I didn’t know that May was named after MAIA, the mother of Hermes. Did you? The list of good stuff goes on and on.

Still feel like DCCI ruins it right out the gate? You’re entitled to your opinion. but the rest of this puzzle is simply too good to be brought down by something so insignificant.

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27 Responses to Tuesday, 8/14/12

  1. John E says:

    I love the sunset banner on your web pages. Nice overall redesign. I think the typeface is much better as well.

    Now if I could learn just a little bit about Jewish culture, I would be a much better crossword solver.

  2. Evan says:

    Pretty redesign, but are we abandoning the picture of the fiend? I always liked that logo — devils mixed with puzzles is a match made in….somewhere.

    • Evad says:

      The fiend image is back! As for the times widget, we were thinking it wasn’t getting much use, but that can make a return as well if visitors disagree.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Amy, Congrats to you, and to all who participated, on the redesign. I love it. I understand Lois’ reaction, because I often react negatively to unexpected changes from what I’m accustomed to. But the new format seems very clear, tidy, easy to follow; I like the feng shui — harmonious and balanced; things seem to be in the right place. I like the Orange border and the sunset image, though I wonder about the symbolic implications of the sunset. (Now I’m overanalyzing.) I don’t know what the “times widget” is, so I don’t know whether I should protest its absence or not.

    • sps says:

      Am I wrong? I think the Times widget is where you can post your times on the NYT and LAT puzzles. I use it sometimes (when I remember to post) b/c I like to see how the fastest people do.

      • Evad says:

        Yes, that’s the one. I’ll work on putting it back but y’all have to promise to post your times no matter what they are–the time I posted on last Sunday’s NYT was double the slowest time on the widget at that point. It’s not just for speed demons!

    • Lois says:

      I’m recovering better than I expected, though I don’t like the changes as well as others do.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Would prefer it if all solutions were included here, especially Jonesin’ – that was hard to complete: I had to cheat! INDRA? AKON? etc.

    • pannonica says:

      I don’t think that’s a new policy, just an oversight. Solution grid for the Jonesin’ is now up.

  5. bob stigger says:

    Finally, a web site where my not-so-acute vision is adequate to the task. Crisp, clean, readable — two thumbs way up on the redesign. Bob

  6. Huda says:

    Love the spiffed up look of the website. Sunsets always remind me of Lebanon, which has gorgeous ones looking towards the Mediterranean. I went to college there and was lucky enough to have a dorm room with a view. Whenever I could, I would rush back, down a big hill with a ton of stairs, to take in the sunset from my dorm, before trudging back up to the library on the main campus which had too many buildings to see it quite so perfectly.

    While the new lay out is perfect on the laptop, on my iPad when I click on a link the text shrinks to a column on the left with the orange background occupying the rest. One can enlarge the text back to fill the screen, but I’m not sure that feature is intentional?

    The NYT puzzle– I loved it even though it had the flaw that some of the innards were spilling out. But I liked the fact that this was not made up of circles that had to be connected, but rather the entire word was right there in the expression. Once again, it’s a puzzle that says: look at things a little differently! (You remember the Apple ad: Think Different!). A ton of points for that. And of course the great other stuff, even though I can’t tell my GIG from my JIG…
    Four Stars.

  7. arthur118 says:


  8. M says:

    Sam, pillows sometimes have feathers…. Also, many dinosaurs apparently had feathers. In any case, that clue could be improved. Shouldn’t “widest” be “longest”?

  9. Al Sanders says:

    Nice redesign. A lot of us are posting times over at Dan Feyer’s site http://dandoesnotblog.blogspot.com, if you’re looking for an alternative to the times widget.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yes, Dan’s unblog is a great place to post your solving times for all of the day’s puzzles, not just the NYT and LAT. The only negative is that you are pretty much assured of having a slower time than Dan, and your brain may sometimes experience small ruptures as it tries to comprehend that sort of solving speed.

  10. C says:

    Nice redesign, am I missing something but I do not see the puzzle rating buttons, i.e. I can’t rate the puzzle. Could be a browser issue, I am using FF 14.0.1.


    • Sam Donaldson says:

      I had the same issue with Firefox, but I find that if I click on the “Continue reading” link, the ratings links appear in the full post.

      • Evad says:

        Yes, we moved the ratings widget to the full post pages only to help with home page performance.

      • C says:

        Perfect, thanks for alerting me to this. For some reason, I enjoy the act of rating a puzzle and missing out yesterday skewed my day. Small things.

        Thanks again.

  11. Gareth says:

    I’ve got lots of stuff disabled on my browser, so I’m not yet seeing what the redesign is supposed to look like, sure it’s wunnerful though!

    DNF Tuesday! L and V of LEVI. A different clue for Levi and I would have got it… Never heard of him. It may be my first NYT DNF of the year, I’m not sure though. Seen the hidden capital theme before, and specifically the first two European cities, which meant I knew what was going on from the get go! I don’t hold that against the puzzle and it had an interesting spectrum of answers, plus THEJIGISUP is fabulous! Also the clue for PEAS is a beaut! I actually am familiar HAVANAGILA, but only audibly, had never seen it written down before now, and had no idea what the correct consonants were!

    Also liked the answers in the LAT, very nice flourish to end on a double “I” sound! Add 4X great long downs, and I can pretty easily forgive DCCI at 1A! In other words – what Neville said!

  12. Huda says:

    Now it works great on the iPad too!

  13. Jenni Levy says:

    Loved today’s Times and came over specifically to see if Amy referenced her comment about using spoons as pea catapults. I see she did.

    I’d forgotten you were re-designing, so that was a pleasant surprise – it looks great. Nice work, Amy and Evad and the rest of Team Fiend. Inspired me to make a donation – I love this site, even though I usually don’t do the crosswords until evening and thus don’t really participate in the conversation as much as I’d like. Happy to help support what I love.

  14. klew archer says:

    The only thing I have to report on the day is falling into the NONE for NARY trap in the lat

  15. Joan macon says:

    The solution grid for Sunday’s Reagle wasn’t posted; I have checked back yesterday and today and still nothing. Is that going to be part of the new format? The commentary is there, but that’s all. I have to get used to the new format anyhow, but so far I like it!

Comments are closed.