Tuesday, 9/25/12

NYT untimed 
Jonesin' untimed 
LAT 3:43 (Neville) 
CS 4:15 (Sam) 

Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword

9 25 12 NY Times crossword solution, 0925

I gather that the point of the visual features here is that the gray squares spelling out NESSIE are supposed to evoke the iconic 1934 SURGEON’S PHOTO seen here. But the head has no snout here! Not to mention that although I was a keen consumer of stories about the unexplained when I was a kid, I couldn’t have told you the occupation of the person who supposedly snapped a photograph of the LOCH NESS MONSTER. Surgeon? You don’t say. “Surgeon’s photo” is a rather horrible theme answer.

SquidFire.com’s brilliant cryptozoology t-shirt

CRYPTOZOOLOGY is a terrific theme answer because (a) it’s a cool word and (b) my kid used to wear the coolest t-shirt with a cryptozoology theme. The theme being rounded out with FAKE and REAL does not add much value.

My favorite parts of this puzzle are “I THOUGHT SO,” ZONK, and DOWSE (hey! dowsing is just as scientifically valid as the Loch Ness monster). Always pleased to see an Upton SINCLAIR reference too. I wonder why SINCLAIR isn’t clued as [Gas brand whose logo includes a creature similar to 38-Across].

I want to love a crossword that breaks out of the standard 15×15 block, but this visual gimmick failed to enchant me. 2.9 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Adjusted to Fit Your Screen”

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 9 25 12 “Adjusted to Fit Your Screen”

You know what I did with this puzzle? I printed it out after I solved it, and I showed it to my son. Blew his mind! (And he’s not even into crosswords.) Also showed it to my husband, who also thought Matt’s theme was neat.

You know how TABLETS (39a. [Devices that, when turned, adjust themselves (just like the theme answers)]) like the iPad shift the image from landscape to portrait when you rotate the device? Rotating this completed puzzle lets you read the theme answers RIGHT SIDE UP (17a. [Aligned correctly]):

  • 59a. [Neil Armstrong went on one] clues NOISSIWNOOW. Read it upside down and you get a MOON MISSION.
  • 10d. [“Land sakes alive that’s awesome!”], EOEHMNOEHM. Tilt your head 90° to the right or turn the paper, and you get WOWIE ZOWIE with blocky W’s and zig-zaggy E’s. The H becomes a fat capital I with aggressive crossbars.
  • 29d. [Do the “I am not a crook” thing with the double V-signs, for example?], ZOXHZUHEHE. MIMIC NIXON!

I love, love, LOVE the mind-bending, paper-spinning theme. Patrick Merrell once had a topsy-turvy crossword in Scientific American that hinged on letters that could be read as letters (the same or different) upside down, and this puzzle has a similar brilliance (fewer affected answers, but three angles!).

The rest of this crossword is pretty ordinary—just regular fill with regular clues. Who cares? The theme is awesome! Five stars from me.

Kurt Mueller’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 9 25 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 9 25 12

You made a fool of me
But them broken dreams have got to end:

  • 17a. [31/42-Across in a 1967 Dustin Hoffman film] – MRS. ROBINSON
  • 23a. [31/42-Across in a Ken Kesey novel] – NURSE RATCHED
  • 51a. [31/42-Across in a 1961 Disney animated film] – CRUELLA DE VIL
  • 64a. [31/42-Across in a Shakespeare tragedy] – LADY MACBETH
  • 41a. [Rock gp. known for its symphonic sound] – ELO
  • 31/42a. [A 1975 hit for 41-Across] – EVIL/WOMAN

Well there’s no Delilah and no Medusa, but it’s still a GEM of a puzzle with four truly evil women. (Puppies!) And I just love this song. It’s not everyday I see a people-themed grid where I know who they all are. Could you identify them all from the clues right away? I like how there’s a bit of difference in what the women are known for – seduction, tyranny, cruelty and stains… wait, that last one’s not right.

Isn’t it great to see TAZ right about DE VIL? Please tell me that was planned!

My favorite non-theme entry? Easily it’s DROPS A LINE. Why? Move the spaces around and get DROP SALINE. Maybe ‘saline drop’ would be better, but that’s still really neat subliminal advertising for Visine. But what’s a SAVE-ALL? Is this something they use on Hoarders? I didn’t know [Six-Day War leader MosheDAYAN. Is that really Tuesday material? Smells a little fishy to me, but I’m not sure how I’d fix it. RHOS and OTOS aside, I enjoyed this one.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, September 25

Today’s puzzle features five male celebrities who have surnames beginning with CON-. That’s why I’d bet the farm (if I had one) that the puzzle’s title is Con Men. I’ll go ahead and make that my guess in today’s installment of Name That Puzzle Month just to get it out of the way.

Yep, “Con Men” is the title alright. Let’s round up the usual suspects for this lineup:

  • 17-Across: BERT CONVY is the [“Tattletales” and “Super Password” host]. For a guy whose day (night?) job was singing, Convy was a darn good game show host.
  • 24-Across: SEAN CONNERY is the answer for [He played Indiana Jones’s father]. I usually try to forget that installment of the Raiders of the Lost Ark franchise.
  • 37-Across: WILLIAM CONRAD was the [“Jake and the Fatman” actor]. He played the morbidly obese one, though I forget whether that was Jake or the Fatman.
  • 50-Across: MIKE CONNORS is the [“Mannix” star]. I’m not sure how I knew that, as I’ve never seen an episode of this show.
  • 60-Across: TIM CONWAY is [“The Carol Burnett Show” regular]. He had a knack for cracking up his castmates, especially the late Harvey Korman.

If you hate names and pop culture in your crosswords, this wouldn’t be your cup of Ovaltine. (Whoops, sorry–too much pop culture for you there?) I, on the other hand, love this stuff, so I found the puzzle relatively easy. I have yet to post a sub-4:00 solving time despite having this gig for nearly 18 months now, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you 4:15 equals a fast time.

The only two entries I didn’t know right away were ALLAN Pinkerton and BANYAN, the [Fig tree variety with many trunks]. Speaking of Ovaltine, the “banyan” tree reminds me of this.

Lots of interesting entries, like NEW MOON, DOO-WOP, ALLEY WAY, ED TV, and the abutting brand names of AMSTEL and RICOLA. There were some of the usual hiccups in the shorter fill (ARS, SLO, ENE…you get the point), but nothing that would ping our fearless leader’s Scowl-O-Meter. 

We have come to expect interesting trivia in Patrick Jordan puzzles. I liked [Its first video was by the Buggles] for MTV best, though there will similar trivia-based clues for CERTS and ALLAH, among others. (If you want to know what they are, you’ll just have to solve the puzzle. I need to get to work!) 

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16 Responses to Tuesday, 9/25/12

  1. cyberdiva says:

    Just a quick note to say that the Chronicle of Higher Education, which has been MIA for several weeks, now has three more puzzles on its website. The puzzles are dated 9/14, 9/21/ and 9/28. Oh well, better late than never.

  2. RK says:

    Jonesin’ theme is really clever!! It needs to be put into a future NYT puzzle. I wonder if mirrored letters could work.

    Liked CRYPTOZOOLOGY, POCKETCOMB, INTUIT, in NYT and it was fun and breezy.

    • Charles Montpetit says:

      Andrew Zhou, NYT, November 11, 2010

      • Charles Montpetit says:

        Also: NYT, April 1, 2004 (though that one only featured upside-down entries). All three puzzles featured an inverted MOON MISSION. NIXON also made repeat appearances.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Obviously this isn’t going to be the first puzzle where letters are turned on their sides, but tying the idea to tablets and having to turn your screen in four different directions to read the four theme entries is both novel and extremely elegant.

      • I love the ambitiousness of the Jonesin’, but for me MIMIC NIXON is a jarring outlier, as it’s the only wacky phrase among the themers, plus I remember seeing MOON MISSIONS on multiple occasions before. But that being said, I’ll take this over an add-a-letter anyday.

  3. wilsch says:

    This week’s Jonesin’ is the most cleverly themed puzzle that I’ve done in years, and I do 20 ~ 25 puzzles per week.

  4. Margaret says:

    I’d like to defend Mrs. Robinson in the LAT — evil? Really? The others, sure. Pushing your husband to murder people, that’s evil. Skinning puppies, that’s evil. But wanting to have a relationship with a hot young thing? Not evil. Sad, perhaps, and wrong, but not evil. Right? C’mon, who’s with me?

    • pannonica says:

      I am. Had that thought but didn’t comment. Guess you’ve seduced me into seconding.

    • Gareth says:

      Me three! Still, I really love the concept and the others all fit the bill. Still think it’s a great puzzle!

      • Margaret says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the puzzle. In addition to four nice theme answers it had the Evil Woman reveal and a terrific reason to include ELO! And pannonica’s response was everything I’d hoped for.

  5. Gareth says:

    NYT: Appreciated the different theme, though to see Nessie in the crossword grid you have to be the sort that believes in Nessie in the first place!

    P.S. Re the LAT – had the same thoughts on DROP SALINE, Neville!

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