Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jonesin' 3:52 
NYT 3:10 
LAT 3:03 
CS 9:00 (Sam) 

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 1 15 13 0115

Ah-choo! Yes, my odd little cough has morphed into a cold. And my internet keeps going on the fritz, so I think it has that flu that’s going around. Which is to say: Let’s get this show on the road and, uh, put it to bed quickly.

Theme: Fishing! It’s an interesting double-pronged theme. There is a FISH hidden within THE PAPER CHASE (perch), DIRECT ROUTES (trout), LAB ASSISTANT (bass), and CAUGHT UNAWARE (tuna). And to catch the fish, you’ll need four short Across answers: BAIT, HOOK, ROD, and REEL. I didn’t notice anything fishy until I reached 65-Across—did you?

At first I thought the later theme answers embodied THE PAPER CHASE because DIRECT ROUTES ends with ROUTES, which can follow/chase “paper” (paper routes), but no.

FATNESS is, in fact, a dictionary-grade inflected answer, but it’s not a word I see much. I Googled it and you know what I found? “The Hungry Games, starring Fatness Evercream” as a pun on The Hunger Games and the implausibly named Katniss Everdeen. Ha! I think it’s cute.

44d. [Women’s tennis champ Medina], ANABEL? Who? Ah, she has won doubles at the French Open.

Love the word WHELP but would not miss OAS, PATEN, AUER, NSEC, and PLINTH if they departed. (I know what you’re saying: What would you call a column base, missy, if we took PLINTH away? I would probably call it “the base of a column.”)

3.5 stars.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 1 15 13

I think it’s been a long time since one of Gareth’s LAT puzzles landed on my blogging day.

I wonder if Gareth has published more crosswords in American newspapers than anybody else in Africa—or perhaps even the whole Old World. Martin Ashwood-Smith is probably the Canadian leader, no?

Theme: BARBERSHOP QUARTET gets riffed on as a foursome of barbershop items rather than just four dudes singing a cappella in a characteristic manner. The items at the start of MUG SHOT, POLE SITTER, CLIPPER SHIP, and CHAIRPERSON are found in a barbershop context that strays from the original phrases’ meanings. I suppose POLE SITTER could have been swapped out for RAZOR CLAMS or RAZORBACKS, but I’d rather lose the mug than the barber pole. But then, MUG SHOT is a great answer in its own right.

Did it throw anyone that there are eight 7-letter Across answers in the fill (plus four longer Downs) despite there being two 7-letter theme answers? I was fine with it.

42a. [Female political refugee], EMIGREE—that’s not a word we see often. Not much need for it, I don’t think.

Likes: OLD-TIMERS, STRETCHER with so many consonants, the kimono clues for the intersecting ROBE and OBI. Also noted the autobiographical bits: ARUMS are [South African lilies], BOER is a [Dutch South African] (but I think Gareth’s not a Boer), and ANAT. is a [Vet sch. course].

3.5 stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Inflation”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, January 15

Here’s one of the rare cases where reading the puzzle’s title at the start ending up throwing me for a loop. I thought we were in for a letter insertion theme where common terms would get IN added to them. But instead the theme entries are common terms ending with a word that can also be something you inflate. That, um, took the air out of my sails. Throw in a higher than average number of errors and you get today’s slow solving time.

Let’s get to the theme entries:

  • 17-Across: GEORGE RAFT is an [Old-time gangster movie actor] that is unfamiliar to me. But hey, he doesn’t know me either. (A raft can be an inflatable boat.)
  • 26-Across: A SPEECH BALLOON (you can inflate a balloon) is a [Comic book convention]. That’s a terrific clue, and sure enough I kept wanting an answer that was a synonym for Comic-Con. (One inflates a balloon, of course.)
  • 46-Across: The HOUSING BUBBLE is [One cause of the financial crisis of 2008]. (Do you inflate a bubble? Or do you just make one through the act of inflation? Maybe the theme isn’t as tight as I originally thought.)
  • 61-Across: A LIVING DOLL is a [Wonderful girl]. (This sheltered boy knows nothing on this particular topic, but apparently there are dolls out there you can inflate, though the purpose behind doing so escapes me.) 

As I mentioned, I made a lot of errors in this puzzle. I had WARM instead of WASH for [Prepare for dinner], TO LET instead of UNLET for [Still on the market for rent], STING and SMASH instead of SMART for [Hurt], TIED instead of EVEN for [Knotted up], ICON instead of LOGO for [Apple’s apple, e.g.], GIVE UP instead of GIVE IN for [Yield], and GIG instead of SET for [Band performance]. Most embarrassingly, though, I went with SPENDS for [Flips] instead of UPENDS.

Then there were the things I just plain didn’t know. Like [Daphni’s love], CHLOE.  (Chloe Sevigny?) Or that one who [Didn’t straphang] simply SAT. And I struggled to recall SUBROSA, clued here as [Secretly]. With all these gaps and errors, coupled with my inability to see the theme for the longest time, I should be happy I finished the puzzle under ten minutes!

Favorite entry = SHUSH, clued as [“Pipe down!”]. Favorite clue = [Digital communication, for short] for ASL, American Sign Language.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Pass/Fail”

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 1 15 13 “Pass/Fail”

Matt makes sure all the phrases pass by changing their F sounds into P sounds. (Tinkles?)

  • 20a. [Lottery ticket that’s also a coupon?], SCRATCH AND SNIP. Vs. scratch and sniff.
  • 23a. [Person who vilifies ad writers?], COPY ROASTER. Vs. coffee roaster. Now, I am in the camp that pronounces coffee as “caw-fee,” not “coff-ee,” so this one has a vowel sound change as far as I’m concerned.
  • 33a. [The purpose of milk, in the mind of a cat?], IT IS TO LAP. Vs. “it is to laugh.”
  • 51a. [Grabbed the end of Indiana Jones’s weapon?], CAUGHT A WHIP. Vs. caught a whiff (of that crazy casbah jive).
  • 54a. [What your card says when Toronto’s NBA team sends you a present?], FROM THE RAPTORS. Vs. (hanging) from the rafters.

Favorite four:

  • 13a. [“Wonder ___ powers, activate!”], TWIN. Never saw the cartoon this is from but it is part of my lexicon anyway.
  • 10d. [Sherbet variety], RAINBOW. Why use a scientific clue when you can go with frozen desserts?
  • 15d. [“Oh yeah, I forgot there was another one”], “THAT TOO.”
  • 39d. Award bestowed by the Annals of Improbable Research], IGNOBEL.

Didn’t know:

  • 47a. Singer Bachman], TAL.He’s Canadian, eh.
  • 3d. Rotating power tool part], DISC PAD.

I like the grid, with all the 7-letter fill. Theme’s all right, but coffee/COPY lost me. Fill’s pretty good. 3.5 stars.

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18 Responses to Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  1. Matt says:

    I think PLINTH is a perfectly good puzzle word. Six letters and only one vowel! And a very thin vowel, at that!

  2. HH says:

    “FATNESS is, in fact, a dictionary-grade inflected answer, but it’s not a word I see much.”

    I’m a charter member of the President’s Council on Physical Fatness.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I submit this post with some ambivalence and trepidation.

    I wonder if anyone else is as unhappy as I am about the relocation of the “Stamford” tournament to its current home. Informal conversations at the couple tournaments I have attended in Brooklyn suggest that I am not alone in this view. I find the venue massively inconvenient and difficult to find and reach. I find the area to be unattractive, unpleasant, even somewhat menacing. I realize that this may be surprising and irrational, especially inasmuch as I lived for many years on the West Side of Manhattan, and inasmuch as I have friends in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope. Nevertheless, I tend to feel trapped, almost incarcerated in the hotel, for the entire weekend, and I feel relieved when it is time to leave.

    The hotel-related expenses in Brooklyn are astronomical. No doubt prices at Stamford have also risen since we were last there, but I suspect that Brooklyn is twice as expensive as Stamford, especially if you factor in parking fees and/or taxi fares incurred in Brooklyn (not to mention that $20 martini (literally — they snuck in some ultra top-shelf brand on me). I decided to attend a couple years in Brooklyn to give it a chance, and see if my reaction changed or evolved. Unfortunately, it hasn’t. My understanding is that the immediate rationale for the move out of Stamford was that the attendance was more than Stamford could accommodate comfortably. But the statistics appear to show that the last year at Stamford was the high water mark, and that attendance has somewhat dwindled since then. I do not know whether the change in venue was a partial cause of this decline, but I do known that I personally did not attend several times, when I would have attended in Stamford. Usually when you see one mouse, there are others, and presumably the same goes for mice you don’t see.

    I’m not sure what, if any, concrete action I’m suggesting. Nothing as dramatic as an insurrection. But I have noticed with interest the multitude of “petitions” circulated on the Internet over the past couple years, in support of various causes and interests, some of them very specific and particularized. And I am curious to know (a) to what extent others agree with me and (b) whether anyone would be interested in joining with me in some sort of concerted appeal to push for an alternative venue.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I love the Brooklyn location, Bruce. In Stamford, there was scarcely any reason to leave the hotel all weekend. In Brooklyn, there are a zillion good restaurants to walk or take the train to, and Manhattan’s a short subway ride away. It’s also much quicker to hop in a taxi to Brooklyn from LGA than to wait for van service or arrange for a rental car to get to Stamford.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        OK–So be it. I respect that. I realize that not everyone will agree with me. It just happens that Stamford is (was) right in my wheelhouse. I travel up and down I-95 incessantly, and have for years. I’m sure Stamford is as inconvenient for some as Brooklyn is for me

        • JohnV says:

          My take, as a Norwalk, CT resident and MetroNorth commuter to midtown, is that I prefer the Brooklyn locale but not its prices. The immediate area around the BB Marriott is not wonderful, but go a bit south to, say, Boerum Hill/Smith Street or Atlantic Avenue and you’ll have a ball. I like it.

          My two cents.

          • Jeffrey says:

            I’m sure there is a continent full of people who wished the tournament moved around to other cities like conventions do. Stamford vs. Brooklyn means little when you are travelling across 3 time zones and a border. Seattle anyone?

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Jeffrey, despite having been an Easterner for many years, I too have contemplated the possibility of having the tournament move around among different geographical areas, to spread out the burden of travel, and to introduce more people to different regions. I suppose it would be an insuperable burden for WS and the tournament administrators to make new arrangements every year, though I suppose eventually some venues would begin repeating.

    Amy — how about Chicago?! How about some of the McCormick Center Hotels? Or downtown, or the Michigan Avenue area? Or Evanston? I would go for that.

    Also contrary to what I may have suggested I am not immune to some of the charms of Brooklyn, nor to its restaurant scene, especially heading down Flatbush towards Grand Army Plaza. My oldest, dearest friends live on Plaza Drive East, near the Brooklyn Museum and Grand Army Plaza, and I have been to many places in their neighborhood. Wonderful mid-Eastern restaurants in the Atlantic Avenue area;. lots of ethnic places — Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Yuppie etc. The Stonehouse Wine Bar. DeCoursey’s Bar & Grill. Etc. Etc. So it’s not like Brooklyn is entirely lost on me.

    But. . .nor do I take back what I wrote above.

  5. Sparky says:

    I live in Manhattan and probably would not have gone to Stamford. Not sure, as I came on after the change. Now I am in Florida and have to decide if I can go up. It would be more convenient to stay at the hotel even with the NYC apartment . The prices in Brooklyn left me breathless. I could end up with the cheese sandwich in my pocketbook solution that I use for MD appointments. The location of the hotel is unfortunate, sandwiched in between the courthouse and the college buildings, although it is easy to get to via subway. The Heights is full of great places, including the Esplanade, if only you didn’t have to walk around so much to get there. Sorry to meander so. This has been on my mind for weeks. Thanks @Bruce N. Morton for bringing it up.

  6. Huda says:

    In general, I have no reason to stick my nose in this discussion, since I don’t attend the tournament. But, I wanted to comment on the idea of rotating locales, based on my own experience with scientific societies. One can identify say 3 locales that are congenial to the group, East, West and somewhere in between, and rotate through them. The logistics are a bit more complex than keeping the same one, but they are not insurmountable, and after a cycle, most issues become clear. Some people will go to all the places, others will consider convenience, weather, cost, etc…

  7. Martin says:

    I loved the “autobiographical” substitution of “vet” for “med” school in Gareth’s LAT clue. I’m not as fond of “South African liles” for ARUMS.

    For one thing, it’s a seahorse clue. “Arum lilies” are not lilies, they’re aroids (arum family, not lily family). It’s probably meant to misdirect, since ALOES is the expected fill. Aloes were once placed in the lily family, although they’ve been moved.

    For another thing, there are no arums in South Africa. Genus Arum is native to Eurasia and northern Africa. There are many aroids in South Africa (members of the arum family), but they’re not strictly “arums.” But we then come full circle since Zantedeschia is called “arum lily” as well as “calla lily” (and is native to South Africa) so the clue is justified if you don’t mind the imprecision of a seahorse clue.

    Oh — I really liked the puzzle.

    • Gareth says:

      I was referring to Zantedeschias (you left out pig lily as a synonym). They’re stunning to see out in the veld!

      • Martin says:

        I can imagine. I have quite a few in my garden. They make great ikebana material.

        Of course, the seahorse (or sea anemone) objection is that “arum lily” doesn’t mean that an arum is a kind of lily any more than “pig lily” means a pig is a kind of lily. Would you have clued PIGS the same way?

        BTW, everyone please note that this is an academic discussion. I’m not saying that the clue is wrong. I’m just allergic to sea anemone clues.

  8. Mike Hawkins says:

    Yesterday’s constructor would have been appropriate for today’s NYT. Wonder if Will did that intentionally.

  9. pannonica says:

    Just checking in to see if anyone had yet mentioned the CS 25d [Guinness and others] ALES thing.

    • haari says:

      Indeed, a true Guiness lover would never call it an ale, it is a Guiness Stout! (and really, there are no others like Guiness) I also question 21A [Indigenous Canadian] sounds singular to me which would refer to an Inuk, Inuit is the plural form.

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