Thursday, 12/27/12

NYT 4:18 
LAT 3:10 
AV Club 5:43 
CS 5:04 (Sam) 
BEQ 4:40 

Please give a hearty round of applause to Jeffrey, who did a real mitzvah and filled in for me over the last few days. I was in Wisconsin in a house that was nearly in caveman times. No cable TV, no internet, no landline phone. It’s hard to blog crosswords via iPhone, you know.

Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 12 27 12, #1227

Cute theme, making us break words into their component letter chunks to make sense of everything:

  • 17a. [SON] is HALF NELSON, as NELSON’s two halves are NEL and SON.
  • 26a. PIECE OF WRITING is [TIN].
  • 42a. [LIP] is PARTIAL ECLIPSE. Hey, did any of you get to see Jupiter in conjunction with the moon Tuesday around dinner time? It was partly cloudy in Wisconsin and I did not see any warty planet sprouting from the top of the moon as the EarthSky blog had promised, but perhaps that bright starrish item further above the moon was actually Jupiter.
  • 55a. [FIN] clues SEMIFINALS.

So two of the three-letter clues are exact halves, the HALF and SEMI ones, and the other two are the looser PIECE OF and PARTIAL three-sevenths.

I wonder if this puzzle was constructed within the last several months, or if PSY, [Rapper behind the 2012 “Gangnam Style” YouTube sensation], was originally clued as, I dunno, part of the Psy.D. degree or something. Every time I pronounce “Gangnam Style” in the way you hear people say it on NPR, my kid corrects me. “Mom, it’s ‘gungum style.'”

Fave fill: PSHAW, AVENUE Q and SPAMALOT (hang on…KISMET is also a musical. Are there other stealth musicals in this puzzle?), SAARINEN instead of EERO, SQUEEGEE, HARDCORE clued as [Dedicated], BOOYA, in-the-language PLAY FOR. Underwhelmed by AMARE clued as a Latin word (because Amar’e Stoudemire right below Junior SEAU would be too much of a sports pile-up for non-sports fans), IVOR, ORLY (which, frankly, I would like better clued as text shorthand for “oh, really?”), EX-ALLY, and OMSK.

3.5 stars.

Updated Thursday morning afternoon (not Sam’s fault):

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Air Intake”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, December 27

Take four expressions, each starting with a word that rhymes with tar. Change the vowel sound of the first word so that it rhymes with tear simply by adding a silent E, then clue the resulting whimsical phrases accordingly. Poof! You’ve got a puzzle like today’s offering from Tony Orbach. Check out his theme entries:

  • 17-Across: A “car dealer” becomes a CARE DEALER, like a [Nurse or doctor?].
  • 28-Across: Something that is “far-fetched” becomes FARE-FETCHED, like the [Cabbie’s notation after a pick-up?]. 
  • 47-Across: Good old-fashioned “bar-hopping” changes to the more risque BARE HOPPING, perhaps the term for [Three-legged racing at a nudist colony?]. For some reason, Inner Beavis thinks of something else upon seeing “three-legged” and “nudist colony” together. 
  • 64-Across: A “star gazer” becomes a STARE GAZER, like a [Person trying not to blink in a certain contest?].

Lots of terrific Down entries, like DARTH VADER, TOP SECRET, DAWNS ON, TEE OFF, PENTAX, END UP, UNLV, and the charming ADELE. I managed to solve the puzzle without reading the clue to 26-Down, so I was a little irked with the answer, RE-STING. How arbitrary!, I decried to no one within listening range. Good thing I read the clue before writing this review, because the answer to [Kicking back] is RESTING. Oh. Right. Carry on, then. These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.

Favorite entry = HALF A DOZEN, clued simply as [Six]. Favorite clue = [Knight fight], as it served as the clue for both TILT and JOUST

Updated Thursday afternoon:
Hmm, it’s afternoon and I have three crosswords to blog? Short shrift for everything!

C.C. Burnikel and Dennis Ryall’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 12 27 12

At first I thought the INSIDE JOBS theme was connected to the ORDER and EFFORT at the end of two theme entries. OPERA means “labor, work,” and DETAIL-ORIENTED is also job-oriented. But the theme is much nicer than that muddle—there are professions embedded within four theme answers. COP in COMIC OPERA, ACTOR in the never-saw-that-term-before NO CONTACT ORDER, CHEF in the zippy LAST-DITCH EFFORT, and TAILOR in DETAIL-ORIENTED.

Not much excitement in the fill—ODIE OBES PTERO ELS OTT ESAU SLO EROSE ADELA ESTEE TSAR STN? Meh. But I do like FEED ME (Little Shop of Horrors), the Coneheads from FRANCE, [Two-piece piece] for BRA, and [Type type] for FONT.

Three stars.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Accidents Will Happen”

BEQ 12/27/12 answers

Congrats to Brendan on his 500th website puzzle and his 200th website themeless on Monday! ‘Tis the season to support your favorite semiweekly puzzle venue—be sure to visit BEQ Headquarters and make a donation if you can spare a few bucks. $10 of support will get you a plus-sized themeless, too. I’m always a sucker for that.

Theme is T-bone collisions. The circled squares have a BUS hitting a UTE (SUV would be better, but that letter sequence is hard to come by in longer words/phrases), a CAB hitting a RIG, and a VAN hitting a CAR. At first I thought the last one was an oddly laid-out CARAVAN, which is a camper/RV in Brit-speak, but BUST UTE wasn’t working that way.

The three long Acrosses are terrific, and DVD BURNER is good too. I wanted TEEN SLANG for YOLO and swag instead of TEENSPEAK, though. Would you believe my 12-year-old learned YOLO from his 6th-grade teacher last year? And that his teachers use “ghetto” as an adjective?

3.5 stars.

Francis Heaney’s AV Club crossword, “In with the New (Wave)”

AV Club 12 27 crossword

The American Values Club puzzle ushers in the New Year with hidden New Wave bands, sneaking WHAM, DEVO, INXS, YAZ, and XTC into various contrived phrases. I like “JA, RUDE VOLE!” because it sounds likes jawohl with RUDE stuck inside. COURT JEW HAMSTER is patently ridiculous, and made me think small rodents would play a role in each theme answer, but no. SUBWAY SEXT CRIES, LATIN MINX SASSES, and Uncle VANYAZILLA … Wait, I just realized rather belatedly that the theme answers are, in fact, made by inserting the band names inside familiar phrases. Just saw the vanilla in VANYAZILLA. I blame jawohl for distracting me from Ja Rule. Court jester, duh. Subway series, Catholic, Latin masses … gotcha. If you were blogging your third crossword in an hour, I guarantee you that you could miss a step too.

Likes: CROSTINI, BEER ME (have a 12-pack of New Glarus Spotted Cow ale in the house now that I have been to Wisconsin again!), BUNKUM, DOUCHE, generic CROAT clued with “her” rather than “his.”

Four stars.

P.S. Francis clued ORLY as [Airport, nail polish brand, or lolcat exclamation]. Now, that is what I’m talking about. The NYT’s [Aéroport d’___] is missing two thirds of the fun.

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9 Responses to Thursday, 12/27/12

  1. sbmanion says:

    I love any kind of puzzle that relates however remotely to Wacky Wordies. I thought this was an exceptional puzzle. In general, I much prefer this kind of wordplay to puzzles in which letters within an entry are circled. I rarely solve the puzzle within a puzzle unless I have to as is the case today.

    I wonder if the puzzle was submitted before or after Junior Seau’s sad suicide and whether such events matter to Will in deciding whether to accept a puzzle or permit an entry. The frequency of letter-friendly monsters like Idi and especially Sese would certainly indicate that expedience trumps all, but I wonder if honoring someone who has done something heinous or unsettling (especially if it is recent) might deter Will.


    • HH says:

      Perhaps not. The 8/3/03 puzzle had the clue “Noted cave-dweller, informally”, answer OSAMA.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’ve been wondering if Mario LANZA is going to be persona non grata after Newtown. Not that he appears so often—10 Cruciverb hits in 15 years.

  2. Jenni says:

    Loved the theme of the NYT. Didn’t so much like SCI as “college dept”. I’ve never known a college with a Department of Science. Departments are biology, chemistry, physics, etc, which usually exist within the School of Arts and Sciences, if it’s a large enough institution to be subdivided (in which case it’s properly a university, not a college).

    I’m sure someone can produce one example, but that won’t satisfy me. Nor does it ruin the puzzle overall, which I really enjoyed, but…

  3. Sparky says:

    Thanks Amy on “gungum” style. Good suggestion re Jeffrey. Well done, Jeffrey, enjoyed your comments.

  4. Peter Piper says:

    See I waited until it finally came up. No rant about TBA. Happy?

  5. J. T. Williams says:

    No comment on what I presume was a typo in the BEQ? Either 26-A was supposed to be “Monkey’s uncle?” or I’m not quite getting the connection. If it is a typo, it’s a particularly bad one, as I thought Uncle Abe for “Money’s uncle,” which really screwed me up on the down. Although now that I type that, Abe is not the three letter famous American Uncle is he? And here I was thinking this was a really clever clue for a common entry!

  6. joecab says:

    For “30A Bust” in the NYT I had R A _ _ in the grid so I filled in RACK :/

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