Wednesday, 12/19/12

NYT 3:09 
LAT 4:22 (Gareth) 
Tausig untimed 
CS 4:00 (Sam) 

Mike Buckley’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 12 19 12

The theme is clued [Start of a thought by British journalist Miles Kington]: KNOWLEDGE IS KNOWING A TOMATO IS A FRUIT. WISDOM IS NOT PUTTING IT IN A FRUIT SALAD. Wow, that’s putting the bar pretty low for wisdow, isn’t it? You could have neither knowledge nor wisdom about tomatoes, and just go with tasting it. Your palate should tell you that the flavor isn’t quite in line with the fruits in fruit salad. Although it must be said that those grape tomatoes are sometimes so sweet and flavorful, I can’t swear they wouldn’t work in a bowl with melon, berries, grapes, and citrus segments. Mmm, tomatoes.

Now, your 7d: [Heart chart, briefly] is an EKG in common parlance. In my medical editing work, though, the electrocardiogram is abbreviated ECG. If you know it as an ECG and you don’t know your Boy Scout terminology, you can certainly be excused for guessing that [Scout pack leader] is ACELA (a fast Amtrak route between NY and DC, isn’t it?) rather than AKELA. Also, I call baloney on “scout” as shorthand for Boy Scouts of America. Girl Scouts are scouts, too.

11d isn’t about math. The [Calculus, familiarly] here is TARTAR, as in tartar-control toothpaste. Calculus is hard! Yes, it is. It’s hardened mineral deposits on your teeth that can be scraped off with sharp metal curettes. The etymology for math and tartar goes back to the same thing—rock-like minerals vs. math done via pebbles on an abacus. Who knew? I should have looked that up 20 years ago.

Not much else to note on either the “yay” or “boo” front. Not terribly excited by the fill overall, and I have heard some form of the quip before so the “aha” moment was a minuscule one. 2.9 stars.

P.S. Bob Klahn had a CrosSynergy puzzle in April 2011 with the same theme, but with a lower word count and tougher cluing throughout.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Colorful Groaners”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, December 19

As the specifications for one crossword outlet state: “THEMES should be fresh and consistently constructed. In general, avoid cliched themes (colors, animals, etc.), although a new approach to an old theme will be considered.” Does this puzzle constitute a “new approach” on a color-based theme? You be the judge:

  • 17-Across: The [Embarrassed fish?] is a RED HERRING. Don’t get too distracted by this.
  • 32-Across: The [Inexperienced stinger?] is a GREEN HORNET. I preferred the Brown Hornet from Fat Albert.
  • 48-Across: The [Frightened Senate staffers?] are YELLOW PAGES. For my money, this was the best of the bunch. 
  • 65-Across: A [Sad arrest?] might be called a BLUE COLLAR.

I guess color puns are a gray area for me in that I wanted to like the theme more than I did. Fortunately, the fill was much better. I loved the eight-letter Acrosses, CLUB SODA and, especially, YOGA MATS. Other goodies included PEDI, EASY A, OH GOSH, Alf LANDON, MUSCLE CARS, AXIOM, and Daffy Duck’s WEBBED feet.

I could have cracked the 4-minute barrier if I had tried LICIT instead of LEGIT as the answer to [Legal]. (To some, the appropriate hashtag for this paragraph would be #humblebrag. But if you note the other solving times around here, it’s more like #eventhelosersgetluckysometime.)

Favorite entry = DELTA, the [Alternative to United]. (Hey, I live in Atlanta. I have to root for the home team, right?) Favorite clue = [Part of a bucket list?] for MOP.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Why Just One Second!”

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword answers, 12 19 12 “Why Just One Second”

Ben inserts a Y into words and phrases to change their meaning, often adding a syllable and/or changing the word breaks.

  • 17a. [Mouse hunter who washes down her meals with a six-pack from home?], B.Y.O.B. CAT. Bobcat.
  • 21a. [“Lick my stilettos, Mr. Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget”?], RYAN DOM ORDER. Random order, Paul Ryan, dom as in dominant/submissive relationships.
  • 37a. [Tom Brady lighting jerseys on fire just to watch them burn?], PYRO QUARTERBACK. Pro QB.
  • 46a. [Uncertain, in Red Square?], NYET POSITIVE. A net positive. We may have to punctuate this answer. “Are you sure you don’t want something to eat?” “Nyet! Positive.”
  • 59a. [Hostile takeover of Jim Beam?], RYE COUP. Recoup.

Lots of longer fill adds polish and zing to the grid. Consider I HEAR YA, SCHTICK, DOLEMITE, and EDWARD VII.

Literary studies clue of the day: 32a. [Device used in “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”], ANAPHORA.

Yiddishism of the day: 8d. [Yiddish “weenie”], SCHMOE. Didn’t know the -E spelling was out there as a variant, nor that SCHMO is an alteration of SCHMUCK, which I did know was Yiddish for “penis.”

Most innocuous racy clue: 55d. [Desex, as a pussy], SPAY. Crossword Fiend blogger Gareth desexes plenty of pussies and dogs as an SPCA veterinarian. Important work.

3.5 stars.

Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

I don’t recognize either half of today’s byline… Anyone?

Anyway we have a really imaginative theme: four idioms all begin with a verb associated with riding horses and the idioms are clued “X, cowboy-style”. We have:

  • 17a, [Lay a trip on, cowboy-style?], SADDLEWITHGUILT
  • 27a, [Spur into action, , cowboy-style?], SPURINTOACTION
  • 43a, [Control spending, cowboy-style?], REININTHECOSTS
  • 56a, [Hang in there, cowboy-style?], RIDEOUTTHESTORM

As always, a four spanner (or nearly) grid curtails room for splashy non-theme answers, but that doesn’t mean our authors haven’t made a mighty fine grid, and besides the theme was really neat wasn’t it?


  • 6a, [Black-clad subculturist], GOTH. Are they still extant? There were a few around still in my highschool ca. 2003…
  • 32a, [Decathlon gold medalist Ashton ___],EATON. No idea. I think we’ve covered that my knowledge of decathletes is a little sketchy… The Ashton I know is a female, so I was a bit confused (decathletes are always male AFAIK), though I guess Mr. Kutcher isn’t female… Anyway, he’s the current gold medalist: so kudos for keeping things hip and happening even if I can’t keep up!
  • 34a, [Chest protector], BIB. Clever, succinct clue!
  • 63a, [Swimming contest], MEET. Around these parts they’re called galas.
  • 30d, [More than just desires], OBSESSIONS. Sneaky! That’s desires (n.) not (v.)
  • 31d, [Try to bite, puppy-style], NIPAT. They do do that even when they’re half dead with the parvo and you’re trying to put a drip in them!
  • 42d, [Cut], SCISSOR. Perfectly legit; neveretheless, it made me wince!
  • 52d, [Sphere starter], ATMO. I always put in HEMI. It’s always ATMO. You’d think I’d learn!
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25 Responses to Wednesday, 12/19/12

  1. Jenni says:

    I had the same thought about EKG/ECG, which are used interchangeably. I lean toward EKG so I got it right, but that was just luck. I’d never heard the quip before and still didn’t have much of an “aha” moment. It was more like an “oh, eh” moment.

  2. James says:

    Jane Roe??? Come on.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Gee, I found the NYT quote more amusing than that. I wonder if it’s being subjected to the same overanalysis to which I am also frequently prone.

    Re the CS (I guess it’s the CS — the Alan Arbesfeld Washington Post): I’m not sure Mexicans would appreciate the characterization {Peninsula bordering California} for BAJA, any more than Floridians would appreciate being described as “bordering” the United States. It almost reminds of the time I heard a depressingly stereotypical Ugly American, in Toledo, Spain, saying in a loud voice “I’m from the *real* Toledo — Toledo, Ohio.

  4. Huda says:

    My wisdom is in question– I have a great recipe for a summer salad with fresh peaches and heirloom tomatoes, with a citrus dressing…

    Not to mention a prejudice against quote puzzles…

  5. ArtLvr says:

    The NYT quote hit right away as déjà vu, but I like your image of little stone beads lined up to use for calculating on an abacus. Also little chunks of food lined up on a spit for a KEBAB, which is always a Kabob in my mind, but I don’t know why. And speaking of exotic foods, I hope someone will explain the basis for 21A when we get to the Tausig!

    • Lois says:

      Cathy Allis recently used the “kabob” spelling in a New York Magazine puzzle. I left the vowels out for a while this time.

      • Chaitanya says:

        To add to the list of variations, being a hindi speaker, the first spelling that comes to my mind would be kabab.

  6. Gareth says:

    Wow the NYT was easy! 2:44 taking 45 seconds (!) off my Wednesday record. I’d have broken my Tuesday record with that too… Rest of the puzzle was Monday and once the first bit of the quote emerged I typed it in its entirety. I’ve seen it in a puzzle before (CS? [- Yes! Well spotted, Amy!]), though I think was amused then.

  7. ArtLvr says:

    The Tausig reviewed above isn’t the same one you get if you click on AcrossLite!

  8. Torbach says:

    Per RH2:

    KABAB, KABOB, KEBAB, KEBOB, CABOB – 4 0f 5 of which I have seen on my many sign-reading/food-hunting pilgrimages through the streets of NYC. Have yet to see the “C-” version but I would pass it by as I think I just prefer the taste of a K.

  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I’m afraid I again have to confess pervasive confusions over what puzzles I am submitting ratings for. I submitted a lowish rating for the puzzle called “Tausig” above. But I thought I was rating the American Values Puzzle, which frankly I thought was pretty weird and didn’t like very much. But apparently the intended puzzle was the “Add a Y” theme which I though was really clever and challenging, and which I would have rated much more highly. Apologies to Ben et al, although this is a good news – bad news post.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      NYT – New York Times

      LAT = Los Angeles Times (except not the Sunday puzzle printed in the LA Times newspaper)

      CS = CrosSynergy syndicated puzzles (themed Mon-Sat, themeless “Sunday Challenge”; in the Washington Post and other outlets; the rotating constructors include Bob Klahn, Will Johnson, Lynn Lempel, Randy Hartman, Randolph Ross, Patrick Blindauer, Tony Orbach, Bruce Venzke, Gail Grabowski, Sarah Keller, and others whose names are not coming to mind at the moment)

      WaPo = themeless Post Puzzler edited by Peter Gordon (constructors include Mike Shenk, Trip Payne, Frank Longo, and two or three others)

      Reagle = Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday puzzle; printed in Los Angeles Times; available online from Washington Post too

      WSJ = Wall Street Journal, Friday 21×21

      Tausig = Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, weekly indie

      AV Club = ex-Onion puzzle, now subscription-based American Values Club xword; edited by Ben Tausig and constructed by rotating team including Ben, Byron Walden, Tyler Hinman, Aimee Lucido, Francis Heaney, and others

      MGWCC = Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest

      Jonesin’ = Matt Jones’s weekly indie puzzle, usually themed but occasionally themeless

      BEQ = twice-weekly crosswords from Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog, “Themeless Monday” and themed Thursday puzzles.

      Hex/Hook = weekly Sunday puzzles that have appeared in the Boston Globe; free online availability may be on the way out

      CHE = Chronicle of Higher Education; weekly puzzles except when the Chronicle skips publishing during academic break periods; edited by Patrick Berry

      Fireball = almost weekly subscription-only puzzles edited by Peter Gordon; constructed by Peter and assorted contributors

      Blindauer = Patrick Blindauer’s monthly website puzzle

      Muller = Pete Muller’s “Muller Monthly Music Meta”

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Thanks Amy. I didn’t mean to put you to that burden, and I apologize. I was mostly feeling a bit embarrassed. Best Holiday wishes to you and all here.

      • Jeffrey says:

        Doug Peterson and Martin Ashwood- Smith to name two more CS constructors.

  10. I was always amused as a teenager when my dentist told me I had calculus in my teeth.

  11. J. T. Williams says:

    I could be wrong, but I think only Webelos groups are known as “packs,” thus the AKELA. Groups of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are “troops,” and I don’t think AKELAs are associated with either.

  12. Mike Buckley says:

    I didn’t know this puzzle’s theme was used before in a crossword – and on top of that, it’s actually a misquote. I have fired my research department.

  13. zroxpct says:

    Tausig’s ” A Soldier in a Blue Dress” solved as “marine” is a stumper. “A soldier in dress blues” makes sense. Capitalization indicates a title. Without capitals solvable. With capitals…anyone?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “Blue Dress” with initial caps appears in the Wikipedia section on the USMC’s uniforms:

      I liked the echo of the Walter Mosley book/Denzel Washington movie, Devil in a Blue Dress. [Soldier in a Blue Dress] is a great mirror to that, but something with initial caps isn’t a title in a crossword clue unless it’s italicized or enclosed in quotation marks.

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