Sunday, 10/21/12

NYT 11:23 
Reagle 7:08 
LAT 6:15 
Hex/Hook 10:12 (pannonica) 
WaPo untimed (Doug) 
CS 11:03 (Sam) 

Caleb Rasmussen’s New York Times crossword, “Bypassing Security”

It’s a contest!

The full notepad info doesn’t fit into the applet’s space for it. From the Premium Crosswords main page comes the full text:

“This puzzle’s grid represents a sealed vault and its well-guarded surroundings. After completing the crossword, start in the upper-left corner and find a safe path to an important item. Then determine where to use this item to access the vault and its contents.

To enter the contest, identify the following 10 things: a) the name of the “important item,” b) where to use it, c) seven hazards to avoid, and d) the contents of the vault. Each of these things is named by a single word.

When you have found the 10 words, send them in an e-mail to: Twenty-five correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Oct. 23, will receive copies of “The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzles 2013 Weekly Planner Calendar” (Andrews McMeel). Only one entry per person, please.

The answer grid will appear next week. The winners’ names will appear in the issue of Nov. 4.”

So this is pretty much the extent of today’s NYT blog post. Will Shortz asked the bloggers not to post the solution grid or discuss the contest answers. Please don’t give away any of the contest answers in your comments, folks. Yes, the prizes are nominal, but it’s still good to make everyone play fair.

I finished the crossword but it took a while of pondering and brainstorming (in tandem with pannonica, mostly, and with Rex Parker–and you know, the rules don’t say anything about collaborating) to find my way to the answer. Meta puzzles are not my forte, and when it comes to fully grokking the theme/contest answers here, this isn’t a super easy puzzle. I would equate it to a Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest week 3-4 puzzle.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Sunday crossword, “U Too” — pannonica’s review

Hex/Hook • 10/21/12 • “U Too” • Cox, Rathvon • 10 21 12 • solution

Oftentimes we see the famous spyplane rendered in crossword grids as “U-TWO” so I suppose it may be with a wink and a nod that the title of this puzzle is rendered as it is. Anyway, in this 21×21 offering, appearing (on-line, anyway) on 10/21, the 21st letter is inserted into 10 phrases, and the wacky results are clued.

  • 27a. [Colony for some kin?] A(U)NT FARM.
  • 29a. [Oafish valets?] PARKING LO(U)TS.
  • 35a. [Breakfast etiquette concerns?] DOS AND DON(U)TS.
  • 50a. [Bards who are humdingers?] BEA(U)T POETS.
  • 57a. [Race for poor folks?] THE PA(U)PER CHASE.
  • 67a. [Drake’s boat to India?] THE GOLDEN HIND(U).
  • 77a. [Underwear store?] PANTYHO(U)SE.
  • 89a. [Well-liked shade-givers?] POP(U)LAR TREES.
  • 94a. [Bogus contraptions?] FA(U)X MACHINES.
  • 99a. [“Fore!”?] TEE SHO(U)T.

·The U was uprooted·
(from “The Z was Zapped,” Chris Van Allsburg, 1987)

Vague or strange cluing. 26a [Fork’s place] ROAD, 46a [Sorbet flavor] LIME, 18d [Alien replicators?] PODS, 28d [Printout choices] FONTS. Hm, it felt as if there more as I was solving, but perhaps not.

Some knockout material in the long down category. SUCKER PUNCHSTEAM ENGINEHATBANDS (but see also 111a [Hat material] FELT), and STAGE SET (→).

Unusual words: 36d [Herb like spinach] ORACH, 66d [Praying figure] ORANT, 25a [Old Rome port] OSTIA, with marginals such as 65a [Linking verb] COPULA, 58d [Young fowl] POULT, 44a [Emits a burp] ERUCTS, and 35d [Resign or withdraw] DEMIT. Then a soupçon of crosswordese, including HODS, OLEO, ALOU, et al.

An oldie but a brilliantie. (NSFW audio content)

Did not care for the parallel partials of A TALE and A RULE, especially as a symmetrical pair (56a & 73a). Proofreading nit: misplaced left quote in 72d [ __ “Gold” (Fonda film)] ULEE’S.

A couple of favorite clues: 70d [Express your inner child?] DROOL; 79a [Reading, for Wilde] GAOL, so what if it’s a chestnut? Ditto for fill: 11d [Crepuscular] DUSKY (this is often fuscus or obscura in species names); LAXITY.

Average puzzle, in sum.

Alan Arbesfeld’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Alphabetical Pairings”

Sunday LA Times crossword solution, 10 21 12 “Alphabetical Pairings”

I’ve seen this sort of theme before, where there are 13 answers with initials progressing through the alphabet from A.B. to Y.Z.:

  • 23a. [Catherine of Aragon’s successor, marriagewise], ANNE BOLEYN.
  • 24a. [High-volume pesticide deliverer], CROP DUSTER.
  • 34a. [“Cimarron” novelist], EDNA FERBER.
  • 41a. [Best Picture of 1932], GRAND HOTEL.
  • 55a. [Lively folk dances], IRISH JIGS.
  • 58a. [Citrusy pie flavor], KEY LIME. Yum.
  • 67a. [Attempts to smooth ruffled feathers], MAKES NICE.
  • 74a. [Crankcase components], OIL PANS.
  • 77a. [Page-turner], QUICK READ. I’m reading Alison Bechdel’s new(ish) graphic memoir, Are You My Mother? If you have had a conflicted relationship with your mother, or if you read Fun Home, Bechdel’s earlier book about her dad, it’s a must read. If neither of those applies to you, you must first read Fun Home and then move on to Are You My Mother? Don’t think that just because the pages look like comics that the books aren’t utterly deep and moving (though they do move quickly).
  • 86a. [Cardiologist’s exam], STRESS TEST.
  • 92a. [Burkina Faso, once], UPPER VOLTA. Over there, BFF means “Burkina Faso forever.”
  • 113a. [Procedures for detecting carpal fractures], WRIST X-RAYS. Not much of a “thing,” really, but there aren’t a ton of W.X. phrases to choose from. In his 8/29/10 NYT puzzle, Derek Bowman used WINTER X-GAMES. (Bowman’s puzzle had the same Q.R. answer but all the rest were different from Arbesfeld’s. Bowman’s tended to be a little zippier, while Arbesfeld hews more classic, with Boleyn, Ferber, and a 1932 Best Picture.)
  • 115a. [Restricted parking area, in some cases], YELLOW ZONE. Wha…?

Quick solve, I thought. In Black Ink solving software, the middle of the byline was lopped off (“LA Times, Sun, Oct 21, 2012 – “Alphabetical Pairings” – Alan Arbesfeld / Ed. Rich Norris & Joyce Nichols Lewis is rather long), meaning I solved with no idea what the title was beyond the first “A.” I figured out the theme part way through, though, which helped speed up the rest of the theme answers.

Least familiar entries:

  • 46d. [Jazz trumpeter Ziggy] ELMAN.
  • 10a. [Collectible game system], ATARI. Not sure what makes it “collectible.”
  • 48a. [Fronton balls], PELOTAS. Know your jai alai terminology! This fast-moving sport popular in South Florida involves pelotas (balls) being caught and thrown by cestas (wicker baskets) on a three-walled fronton (court).
  • 104a. [Gold compound], AURATE. I tried AURITE first. Haven’t memorized which chemical endings have which uses.
  • 119a. [Swedish actress Persson], ESSY. Who??
  • 96d. [Anchor cable opening], HAWSE. Crosswords are prone to having nautical terminology. Tough having AURATE and ESSY crossing this one.
  • 45d. [Subarctic forest], TAIGA. A word I learned in childhood … from crosswords. Not so nice having ELMAN and TAIGA beside each other, though hopefully the crossings made quick work of both.

3.25 stars.

Updated Sunday morning:

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

CS solution, October 21

I like this 68/26 grid a lot–it leaves very little room for shortcuts, so getting it all to work must have been a chore. Ray Hamel makes it look pretty effortless, though. While the really juicy entries might be limited to CREATURE COMFORT, LIQUID SOAP, RAISE A FUSS, and CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM, the rest is pretty darn solid. The junk is limited to EELER, the [Fisherman in the Sargasso Sea], SETAE, OF ARC, and BEAT A, while everything else is serviceable and smooth. So it’s four awesome entries, four yucky ones, and 61 solid ones. That works for me.

The grid features stacked 15s at top and bottom, and, as identified above, two of the 15s really shine. To me, though, the highlight is the open swath in the middle. Very often the grids with triple-stacks have mangled midsections required to make the stacks work. I’d much rather have fewer 15s if it can open up the midsection like this.

As you can see from the picture, my trouble spot was at the intersection of ETONIC, the [Bowling shoe company] I have never heard of, and NEST, the [Machine gun placement]. I know “nest,” of course, but not in that context. And it didn’t help I kept reading the clue as [Machine gun replacement], leading me in search of synonyms for AMMO or MAGAZINE. There you have it: I’m neither an expert in firearms nor in reading clues closely.

Other new stuff to me included KEYE, the [Luke of “Kung Fu”], IRNA Phillips, the creator of “Guiding Light,” and EMERALDS as [Minecraft building materials].

Favorite entry = FRITOS, the [Snack used in a pie]. I haven’t had Fritos in about 20 years, but I’m reasonably sure I’ve had more in my lifetime than the average person. Favorite clue = [Poor retirement plans?] for LOTTERIES.

Frank Longo’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 133” – Doug’s review

Frank Longo’s Washington Post solution 10/21/12, “The Post Puzzler No. 133”

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. ZZZQUIL! Sweet entry. Someone (I think it was Ben Tausig…) threw down the Zzzquil gauntlet a while back, wondering who’d be the first constructor to put that entry into a grid. As far as I know, Brendan Emmett Quigley won the Zzzquil Challenge. He used it in a themeless puzzle back in September. But Frank’s upped the ante by plopping it down at 1-Across. Now who’ll be the first to use it in the bottom row?

  • 8a. [One whose entries may be locked] – DIARIST. My first thought was someone on Facebook or Twitter.
  • 29a. [Pulls with a chilling effect?] – COLD BEERS. Kind of a strange clue. Pull can mean to “drink deeply.”
  • 5d. [It’s used when checking out, briefly] – UPC SYMBOL. I was held up for a bit here by trying UPC SYSTEM.
  • 28d. [34-year-long comic strip] – CATHY. 34 years of the same 3 or 4 jokes. Impressive. Great example of eking out your material. See also: Garfield.
  • 52a. [1993 reworking of a 1944 Hitchcock film] – LIFEPOD. Interesting. Never heard of the film, but it’s very figure-out-able from the clue. Looks like one of those DVDs you can pick up for a buck at Big Lots. Speaking of $1 DVDs, a friend and I watched Eyeborgs (2009) recently. It stars Adrian Paul, who played Duncan MacLeod in the Highlander TV series. Highlander was on about 15 years ago, and Adrian Paul doesn’t look a day older in Eyeborgs, which leads me to believe that he really is a Highlander, i.e, immortal.
  • 32d. [Quiet] – REPOSEFUL. Reposeful? After downing a couple shots of Zzzquil, you should have a very reposeful night.
  • 36d. [Old Andorran capital] – PESETAS. I was relieved when this turned out to be about money. I realized I have no idea what Andorra’s capital is. For the record, it’s Andorra la Vella, which translates to “Andorra the Old.” So [Old Andorran capital] would be Andorra la Very Vella I guess.

More cool stuff: SHOW DOG, CUPID’S BOW, TOGA PARTY, and WELL, YES.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “From the Acme Catalog (2)”

Merl Reagle Sunday crossword solution, 10 21 12 “From the Acme Catalog (2)”

Merl made a “From the Acme Catalog” puzzle a couple years ago, and this one’s the sequel. (It was published last weekend in the L.A. Times, this weekend in Merl’s other syndication newspapers.) I pretty much filled in the theme answers via the crossings, since I didn’t want to take the time to futz with the long theme clues in order to read them in their entirety. As a result, the puzzle was sort of a dull slog—I sure hope the rest of you read the entire clue for each theme entry because the fun is in the Acme/Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote/Bugs/Daffy/etc. context.

  • 23a. [Acme product for unsuspecting rabbits to swallow (comes with magnet), from “Compressed Hare,” 1961], IRON CARROT.
  • 28a. [Acme product intended for recreational use (not for dropping bombs on roadrunners), from “Zipping Along,” 1953], GIANT KITE KIT.
  • 34a. [With 58 Across, Acme weapon that subdues unruly hares in a hurry, from “Hasty Hare,” 1952], STRAITJACKET-EJECTING BAZOOKA.
  • 49a. [Acme product that coyotes shouldn’t be seen using (so to speak), from “War & Pieces,” 1964], INVISIBLE PAINT.
  • 64a. [Acme product that simplifies dating, from “Boston Quackie,” 1957], INSTANT GIRL.
  • 76a. [With 84 Across, Acme product that can top off a sundae or make a dog look rabid, from “Feed the Kitty,” 1952], WHIPPED CREAM DISPENSER.
  • 91a. [Acme vehicle made for those who are a bit “unbalanced” (like coyotes), from “Hot Rod & Reel,” 1959], JET-PROPELLED UNICYCLE.
  • 101a. [Acme weapon that makes you feel like a kid again (literally), from “Mad as a Mars Hare,” 1963], TIME SPACE GUN.
  • 112a. [Acme product that doesn’t require snow (or brains), making it perfect for certain coyotes, from “Lickety Splat,” 1961], ROLLER SKIS.

Did you know that in England, PANTOMIME is not a 79d: [Silent skill]? “Panto” is a traditional broad musical comedy performed for kids around Christmas time. (Wikipedia explains.) My friend’s husband Nigel does panto, and his entertainingly hammy panto friends were in evidence at their wedding.

Do you like having the cartoony ANVIL at 80a, clued as a mere blacksmith’s tool ([It gets hammered])? There’s a classic anvil scene toward the end of this Road Runner cartoon.

I am seeing nothing in this puzzle that calls out to me as must-blog material. I blame family distractions.

3.25 stars.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Sunday, 10/21/12

  1. rex says:

    I had the “wrong” solution at first, which I still insist should count as a RIGHT solution, but whatever. I’ll give the beast what it wants.


  2. HH says:

    “Proofreading nit: misplaced left quote in 72d [ __ “Gold” (Fonda film)] ULEE’S.”

    As I have explained before, this is because the Globe’s style puts all titles (and foreign words) in italics, whereas whoever transcribes the puzzle for you replaces all the italics with quotation marks … and since one can’t tell if a blank is italic, the left quote was misplaced.

    • pannonica says:

      Okay, I’ll just quit pointing those things out, assuming they’re technical/transcribing errors, as it accomplishes less than nothing. Although, technically speaking, it’s still a typographical/proofreading issue.

      • Martin says:


        Bottom line is that the nit needs to be addressed to Nancy Shack, who litzes these puzzles.

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: Interesting to see the spread on the ratings– So far, only 1 “4”, and mostly 5’s or 3’s. I think it all depends on how much of a purist a solver is. I thought this was fun and challenging, and shows a great deal of imagination. Certainly a good change of pace from the typical Sunday fare. If you’re going elaborate, you might as well own it. So, 5 stars from me.

  4. RK says:

    NYT is pretty great, pretty clever….[spoilery hint redacted]

  5. John Haber says:

    Oh, I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but the David in Florence clue isn’t quite right. It should have said something like “in a public square in Florence.”

    • Martin says:

      My suggestion was change “The” to “A.” Since the intent of the clue was clear, it was not worth a “stop the presses” correction, which is a killer on a normal Sunday. Just imagine the chances to screw up on contest day, with the files locked and other regular protocols upended.

      • John Haber says:

        Thanks. There are also other, earlier versions of David in Florence by major sculptors that did so much to jump-start the Renaissance, but I didn’t want to get finicky or scholarly. I just figured that anyone visiting Florence, maybe even without a fat guidebook, and often in search of the you know what, would find the clue wrong.

  6. Nance says:

    NYT lots of fun. Kept me out of trouble for a while!

  7. Aaron says:

    I’ll add that I very much enjoyed putting my yegg-like skills to use in cracking this Sunday’s NYT contest puzzle. Much obliged to all outside-the-box thinking that Matt Gaffney’s weekly puzzles have been drilling into me.

  8. Barb says:

    I solved the puzzle but not contest. What were the answers?

  9. Nance says:

    Unless you’re into this Acme Catalog stuff the puzzle was a drag. Gave up on it & I rarely do that.

  10. Kathy says:

    How did they get “LOCK?”

Comments are closed.