Wednesday, 10/17/12

NYT 3:55 
LAT 3:19 (Gareth) 
Onion untimed 
CS 6:27 (Sam) 

Peter Koetters’ New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 17 12 1017

It’s math meets vegetables: 1d/55a spells out SQUARE ROOTS, and four root vegetables (SHALLOTS, PARSNIPS, RADISHES, POTATOES, all plurals for consistency) appear in the circled squares. Nice to see four different categories (in my personal taxonomy, anyway) of root veggies: oniony, carroty, weird little red round jobbers, and bulbous tubers.

Among the less familiar material in this puzzle, we have these:

  • 60a. [Italian P.M. nicknamed Divo Giulio], ANDREOTTI. Who?? And what does that nickname mean?? (Male diva?) I hope he’s in prison and this is a veiled UNSHACKLE ANDREOTTI protest crossword.
  • 2d. [Brook], RUNLET. You may not be aware that one definition of run is “small stream or brook.” So perhaps a run and a RUNLET are the same thing, rather than one being a diminutive of the other.
  • 35d. [Larklike songbird], PIPIT.

Lots of names with limited cluing possibilities today. LOEWS, EPPIE, ARA, ISIAH, HAAS, and ELKE are a little less flexible than ELLA.


2.75 stars. I know the extra level of checking required by the SQUARE ROOT answers  constrains the fill mightily, but having the theme material limited to 11 letters plus 32 circled squares doesn’t provide a ton of entertainment value to make up for INE ITES GTE STR, etc.

Steve Blais’ Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

I will be blogging this in between baking chocolate and banana muffins. Please excuse me if my blog post wanders.

LA Times crossword solution, 10 17 12

Very simple theme: the revealer is 61d. [Canine warning that the answers to starred clues have in common, initially], GRR. The starred answers are all two word phrases fitting the pattern GR* R*. That seems pretty wide-open, as themes go. On the other hand, it allowed Mr. Blais to cherry-pick 5 answers for us:

  • 17a. [*One to four inches per day, for bamboo], GROWTHRATE. I like scientific answers my puzzles. Some of you may insist it’s a dry answer, but I really liked it.
  • 28a. [*Noted scythe bearer], GRIMREAPER.
  • 35a. [*1973 Thomas Pynchon novel], GRAVITYSRAINBOW. Had never heard of it ’til BEQ (I think?) either mentioned it or had it in a puzzle. Either way, the weird name stuck and it was a gimme, whereas before that I’d have needed every blerrie cross!
  • 43a. [*Wrestling style that forbids holds below the waist], GRECOROMAN.
  • 59a. [*Pearl Jam genre”], GRUNGEROCK.. My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder

I blew through this in between a Monday and a Tuesday time; I wonder though, if I hadn’t known 35a, I may have come in in a more Wednesday-appropriate pace.


  • 21a. [Toga party costume], BEDSHEET. Better angle than “Klansman’s costume”.
  • 23a. [Take part in a 1920s fad], POLESIT. I don’t have a clue. A pole-sitter is American-ese for someone starting in pole position to me. When in doubt, ask Auntie Wikipedia… OK, how fricking bored do you have to be?? And I thought plankers were peculiar! See, it can be good to have unfamiliar things in puzzles, broaden your mind and all that malarkey.
  • 4d. [No page-turner], YAWNER. People say this? Or is it a roll-your-own?
  • 8d. [For the full nine months], TOTERM. Neat crossing this with GROWTHRATE.
  • 9d. [Garden apparatus], SEEDER. I’ll believe you. Dictionary sez “a machine for sowing seed”; I imagined that. So how’s it different from a seed-drill, then?
  • 10d. [Dad-blasted], GOSHDARN. Fun clue/answer pair.

That’s what I had to say, what do you have to say?

Updated Wednesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Baked Goods” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, October 17

In today’s puzzle, Randy Ross re-imagines four common terms as baked goods:

  • 17-Across: SWEETIE PIES become [Baked goods for lovers?]. 
  • 27-Across: WELFARE ROLLS become [Baked goods for the poor?].
  • 47-Across: SMART COOKIES become [Baked goods for geniuses?].
  • 62-Across: BUNS OF STEEL become [Baked goods for the physically fit?].

I had all but the southeast corner done in just over four minutes, giving me the false hope that I would finish well under the five-minute mark. Little did I know that my own solving Waterloo awaited. I didn’t know DR. HOOK, [Rock’s Medicine Show leader], and all I had was the DR. part, and neither DRE nor TEETH fit the bill. I figured the [Old Dodge model] could have been a NEON just as easily as an OMNI, so that wrong guess slowed me down even further. FUGAL, to my ear, is not a word but a sound effect for sneezing. [Like much of Bach’s music], it completely evaded me. And while I was at it, I tried NIXES instead of KILLS for [Does away with]. If I had solved the print version of this puzzle, all my erasing would have worn holes through the paper.

My funniest mistake, though, was going for RIB as the [Chest protector] instead of BIB. That mistake gave me RUNS OF STEEL, which I somehow convinced myself was correct over BUNS OF STEEL. You see, RUNS gets the fitness element, and STEEL gets the … well, nothing really. Obviously I don’t always think things through before I get swayed. In unrelated news, I’m a registered voter.

There’s a lot of really neat fill here, like TEE UP, LIE LOW, ATE IN, I CALL, J.K. ROWLING, SEEMS TO, PRO-AM, and George WENDT. There’s a healthy array of rare letters to spice things up, with only trifling compromises here and there (hello, AMAS, TASSE crossing ESPOSA, and HYPNO crossing HYPO).

Favorite entry = M AND M, the [Candy with a coat], with honorable mention to PATCO, the air traffic controllers [Union broken by Pres. Reagan] (just because I was happy with myself for remembering it). Favorite clue = [Former center of Los Angeles?] for Shaquille O’NEAL.

Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, 10 17 12 Byron Walden

Time for rhyme! The theme answers fit that model, but without the sort of spelling change you see in time/rhyme. Note that the grid has left/right symmetry rather than rotational.

  • 20a. [Geology 101, dismissively], ROCKS FOR JOCKS. My introductory geology class at Carleton was not a gut course at all. Between that class and a natural history course in the biology department, I was out exploring nature every week that fall. Walking on a bog, checking out rock formations, looking for bugs… good times, good times.
  • 23a. [Fundraising frenzy], DASH FOR CASH.
  • 43a. [Straight back home after working out?], GAY FOR PAY. This phrase was new to me.
  • 46a. [“Sowing the Seeds of Love” duo], TEARS FOR FEARS. What?? “Shout,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and “Head over Heels” are the songs I know. Wikipedia tells me the clue’s song came out in ’89, by which time I was no longer listening to top 40 radio.

Favorite fill: ED WOOD, LOOGIES, MR RIGHT, CALUMET (because it’s not just a [Ceremonial peace pipe], it’s also a place name in the Chicago area—Calumet City, Lake Calumet), GRAY AREAS, RATSO/RIZZO.

Who? 11d: [Actor who played Deputy Cletus Hogg on “The Dukes of Hazzard”], RICK HURST? Doesn’t ring a bell at all.

Favorite clues:

  • 37a. [Some of them are brats], WURSTS.
  • 15a. [When KC gets the most sunshine?], CDT.
  • 28d. [Batteries for seniors?], SATS.

Four stars.

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18 Responses to Wednesday, 10/17/12

  1. In Virginia, “run” is frequently used to describe small streams (e.g., Bull Run).

  2. Huda says:

    You made me hungry! and it sounded tastier than all the ROOT vegetables in the NTY, albeit not as healthy…

    I really liked the literal image of SQUARE ROOTS. As usual, I greatly enjoy it when a puzzle catches an odd meaning or usage– you can imagine a kid asking: why is it called a square root?

    PSEUD… never heard it used as a stand alone. Do people say that? Do you have to be a Pseud to use it?

    I had DEEPSkies before DEEPSPACE… love MALWARE, perfectly malevolent sounding.

  3. Evan says:

    I liked the LAT puzzle just fine, but the clue for TASER is highly questionable. Tasers are not necessarily non-lethal, as both Amnesty International and the U.S. Justice Department have compiled statistics documenting taser-related deaths since 2001 and 1986, respectively.

  4. Ruth says:


  5. Howard B says:

    Did not finish.
    ANDREOTTI / OSU messed me up, as now I see the already doubled T. I interpreted it as ANDRETTI and so did not know either crossing clue, making _SU a total letter guess. O was not on the radar as a letter there, since I didn’t recognize the vowel. Since I still feel the missing vowel is a guess without the college knowledge, I don’t particularly care for that crossing, considering the day of the week.

  6. pannonica says:

    you can imagine a kid asking: why is it called a square root? – Huda

    …which would provide an excellent opportunity to show how math works with geometry, making it tangible, and possibly even expanding to the squares-on-triangle way of visualizing the Pythagorean theorem.

    • Alex says:

      My curiosity is getting the best of me here, Pannonica. How would you do that? (Apologies to all if this hijacks the thread)

      • pannonica says:

        Perhaps I’m conflating things? Math is not my strongest suit. The main thing I was going for is how a square root is related to a square, just “the other way.”

        Anyway, I’ve always liked the way of visualizing the Pythagorean theorem as three squares abutting each other to form a right triangle, and how those squares can be divvied up into unit blocks and counted up. It’s kiddie-level stuff. Here’s a version of it.

      • Alex says:

        Okay, just showing that if N is the area of a square, then sqrt(N) is the length of one of the sides. Got it.

        Still doesn’t explain why it’s called a “root”, of course :)

      • pannonica says:

        Eh. “Root” is getting back to the source? I really wasn’t considering the semantics, for once.

  7. MM says:


    I knew “Gravity’s Rainbow” and you still scorched my time on the LAT! BTW, the link for flag-pole sitting doesn’t work (one too many /’s). Not sure if flag-pole sitting and/or planking is any stranger than these crazy South Africans.

  8. Gareth says:

    Loved, loved the theme! Minus a point for potatoes – they’re highly modified stems believe it or not (Wait… Aren’t shallots too?). Fill was on the meh side, but those circles run through a lot of the grid so I do understand!

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