Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NYT 3:30 
LAT 4:44 (Gareth) 
CS 4:28 (Sam) 
Tausig untimed 

Michael David’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 1 16 13, 0116

Cute theme: TRADITIONAL ANNIVERSARY GIFTS are strewn through the puzzle, and they are clued with just the anniversary year in brackets. 1a is WOOD, [5]. 5a is PAPER, [1]. 21a is SILVER, [25]. 31a is TIN, [10]; that’s the anniversary when people give you ancient canned goods. 51a is PEARL, [30]. 70a: GOLD, [50]. 20d actually has [20], CHINA. 24d is the [60]th and DIAMOND. 46d, CRYSTAL, [15]. And last but not least, 52d: RUBY, [40]. They’re not pinned down to symmetrical spots in the grid.

What’s curious is that there are a few obvious nouns in the puzzle that have not been given number clues. Which anniversary years merit STYRENE, OLESTRA, EGGBEATERS, and BRAS?

I figured out the theme when I reached the RUBY/PEARL and from there out, it was pretty straightforward. Not that I have all the gifts memorized by year, but paper, silver, and gold were gimmes.

I don’t know about this 11d: [Dishonest, informally]. Who says ILLEGIT? And does anyone not hear MC Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit” in their head right now?

Not thrilled with fill like APHIS, RILL, ALPE, and EFF. And the CEREBRALLY EGGBEATERS answers just look like they’re theme answers, and they’re definitely longer than thematic GIFTS. Cute to have ONE LOVE balancing the DIAMOND anniversary, though.

3.5 stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

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

CS solution, January 16

Each of the four theme entries has a nobility figure in hiding at the very beginning:

  • 21-Across: To [Neutralize] is to COUNTERACT.
  • 33-Across: The [Institute for Advanced Study locale] is PRINCETON. This was the last entry to fall, which I suppose speaks volumes about me. 
  • 44-Across: One [Kind of special] is an EARLY-BIRD special. Sure enough, the clue fooled me, as I was wondering what kind of answer like SORTA UNIQUE would fit within the grid. 
  • 55-Across: One who [Battled] has DUKED IT OUT. This was the answer that made the theme apparent to me.

All the nobles are part of a larger word, and all appear at the beginning. Nicely done!

As I worked my way through the southern side of the grid, I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if rare letters were being crammed into the grid just to achieve a pangram, that Quixotic quest that seduces many constructors. The Z in the lower left; the Q in the lower right; even that X on the far east. Then there was some of the fill: ETTE, TERR, ALAI, SOC, and EQUI all scream “compromise,” and usually those entries serve to accommodate all the rare letters. But there’s no J to be found. The pangram quest failed, but at least the grid’s Scrabble score got a boost.

I was more impressed with the long Acrosses abutting two theme entries SLEEP OVER and AS WE SPEAK are terrific entries. The long Downs, BOMBSHELLS and EYEWITNESS, are solid. Everything else seems to work fairly well.

Favorite entry = I QUIT, clued as [“You can’t boss me around anymore!”]. Favorite clue = [Crude acronym?] for OPEC. That’s the kind of clue I wish I could come up with more easily.

Jean O’Conor’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

Subtle theme today from Jean O’Conor! No revealer, and I had to stop after finishing to grok the theme. The first words of the long across answers are also verbs used in agriculture: PLOW, SEED, PLANT, TILL and HARVEST. It’s a little muddy to me as aren’t seed (v.) and plant (v.) essentially the same thing, and isn’t ploughing a subset of tilling? It’s still a cute and original theme idea and allows some interesting theme answers:

  • 17a, [Deal with, as a stack of dull paperwork], PLOWTHROUGH. Tried “wade” and “slog” first…
  • 24a, [Investor’s initial support], SEEDCAPITAL. Great entry!
  • 33a, [Create an incriminating trail], PLANTEVIDENCE. Naughty, naughty!
  • 48a, [How long to shop, on a spree?], TILLYOUDROP. A partial, but what other options are there?
  • 55a, [Autumn lunar phenomenon], HARVESTMOON.

Other notes:

  • 21a, [Galsworthy’s “The Forsyte __”], SAGA. I’ve read it, though I’m struggling to recall specifics other than everyone had goofy names like Jolyon!
  • 32a, [Tour de France stage], ETAPE. Didn’t know this… It’s usually clued as a military camp. I get the feeling the Tour de France usage is more in use.
  • 40a, [Simple beds], COTS. In Commonwealth English, beds for babies, though I think you use it somewhat differently…
  • 37d, [Goes kaput], CONKSOUT. Fun phrase!
  • 44d, [He replaced Ken as Barbie’s beau from 2004 to 2006], BLAINE. No idea… Don’t really want to have an idea either.
  • 46d, [They’re often stewed], SOTS. Great clue!

That’s me! Interesting puzzle. A bit uneven, but a theme I haven’t seen so a net plus!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Endings All Over”

Ink Well crossword solution, 1 16 13 “Endings All Over”

Assorted top-level domains seen in URLs are plunked willy-nilly (“all over”) into familiar phrases, morphing the meanings:

  • 20a. [Coin flip to see who gets the first glass of Bordeaux?], CABERNET TOSS. Have you ever seen the caber toss at, say, the Highland Games? “Here, throw this telephone pole.”
  • 30a. [Matching neckwear for a couple of goofy-looking Welsh pups?], TWIN CORGI TIES. The Twin Cities have been ORGed here.
  • 40a. [Helping an old lady cross the street in the middle of a war?], COMBAT MITZVAH. A mitzvah is a good deed, more or less. Bat mitzvahs are rites of passage for Jewish girls aged 12, 13, or 82 or 83.
  • 54a. [Bust of the 43rd president in an alternate universe?], BIZARRO W HEAD. I can’t think of a single .biz site that I use.

Fair enough. Can you think of a good one incorporating EDU?

Favorite ingredients:

  • 42d. It’s rolled in Mexico], BURRITO.
  • 46a. Knight’s logo], SWOOSH. I forget the first name of that Knight guy who started Nike. I want to say Bobby or Ted, but those names are taken.
  • 47a. Certain discount], TWO-FER. Great entry.
  • 47d. Popular low-rider model, briefly], T-BIRD. Because it makes me think of War’s “Low Rider.”


Did not know 58a: [Disembodied brain allied with Shredder], KRANG. Is this Ninja Turtles Shredder, or a different Shredder?

3.5 stars.

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27 Responses to Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  1. klew archer says:

    Reminds me of a recent MGWCC .

  2. Evad says:

    Yes I thought of Matt’s recent puzzle as well.

    Can’t duds go MFFT as easily as PFFT?

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    This may be more of my “violin fugue” thinking, which not everyone accepts, but the NYT strikes me as remarkably thematically dense. If I’ve counted correctly there are 77 theme-related squares. 37 black squares in a 225 square grid leaves 188 white squares, so the puzzle is roughly 41% thematic. Of course I’m not a constructor, (at least not a successful one), but this strikes me as an amazing feat, worthy of independent notice and recognition.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    *Anyone* not hear???? I do *not* hear MC Hammer’s 2 legit whatever. I might as well have said “Does anyone *not* hear the C Major violin fugue when they see Joe Krozel’s quint stack?”

    • Gareth says:

      I have no idea either… I was firmly of the belief that Hammer’s only song was “U Can’t Touch This”.

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      If I did hear it I wouldn’t know it (and would probably be none the dumber).

      I see that Andy already beat me to “dri(ed u)p”.

      Yes, I was reminded of that Gaffney meta too.


  5. Zulema says:

    Agree totally with Bruce on both counts. Enjoyable puzzle – amazing construction – second Wednesday in a row that surpassed most Wednesdays.

  6. Christopher Jablonski says:

    I’m neither 2 old nor 2 young 2 not remember that terrible song being played on the radio nonstop.

    Don’t forget the finger gestures that went with it!

  7. Cmm says:

    The video for that horrible song had people from all different walks of life doing a series of hand gestures similar to Uncle Joey’s “cut it out”…….{cringe}

  8. Alex says:

    Can you think of a good one incorporating EDU?

    Adam Rosenfield’s Python script gives a few possibilities, but I can see why Ben passed. EDUCATE BLANCHETT is a letter too long. GET SHORE DUTY is kinda boring. WILL O THE WISED UP makes no sense. WALLY PIPED UP is okay, but I think the base phrase is too obscure.

  9. C says:

    In the LAT, did not know that Ken had been briefly thrown over for Blaine. Did anyone else imagine Ken uttering the line from “Pretty in Pink” – ‘His name is Blaine? That’s the name of a major appliance, that’s not a name!’

  10. John Haber says:

    Quick off-topic note on my problems with Web access here. I’d long bookmarked the forum page. That was convenient to me, because I could immediately see if anything new had posted before moving to this blog. Now, however, I no long have an active link in the orange field (or indeed anywhere else) at top to the blog. I don’t believe I’ve blocked or disabled anything at my end, although of course I could be wrong. Any idea what could have changed within perhaps the last week?

    • Papa John says:

      Yeah, that was the way I used to get here, too. Now I have to type in the URL for the blog.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I haven’t changed anything but perhaps Evad did (he made some other changes to stop 20 spambots a day from registering for forum accounts).

        You could certainly bookmark the blog. It’s even got a link up top to take you to the forum.

      • Evad says:

        I’ll put it back shortly…it was lost when I upgraded the forum to the latest release of phpbb.


  11. Ruth says:

    Aw now, I’d much rather see KRANG clued as “whale carcass after the blubber has been removed.”
    Always a crosswordese fave :D

  12. Jason F says:

    One theme answer in the LAT confused me.

    Shouldn’t it be: Shop ’til you drop?

    Is “shop till you drop” an accepted spelling? Google seems to indicate not. So, is this a pun/wordplay? If it’s a pun, then I would have expected the other theme answers to follow.

    • Bruce S. says:

      I wondered that too Jason. I always thought ’til was the shortened form for until and that till was either turning soil or a cash register. It struck me as a flaw in the puzzle, and then I moved on…

    • pannonica says:

      m-w sez:

      ’til: variant of ¹till 2, ²till

      ¹till: 1 chiefly Scottish: to; 2 or ’til also til: until
      ²till: : until; variants: till or ’til also til

      Don’t ask me what the difference is between ¹till 2 and ²till

  13. Bruce S. says:

    Thanks for the info pannonica.

  14. Michael David says:

    Thanks for the comments!

  15. jefe says:

    Phil Knight was a founder of Nike, and Krang is a TMNT baddie along with Shredder. They were buddy baddies, or maybe baddie buddies.

Comments are closed.