Friday, January 25, 2013

NYT 6:22 
LAT 3:44 (Gareth) 
CS 4:41 (Sam) 
CHE untimed (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 1 25 13, 0125

Lots of number action in the Friday puzzle:

  1. 10d. [Number of tears?], SAD SONG. As in “a musical number.”
  2. 31a. [+2], DOUBLE BOGEY.
  3. 13a. [A really good offer, say], THREE FOR ONE. Have you ever actually seen such a deal?
  4. 24d. [Mid 13th-century pope], URBAN IV.
  5. 6d. [Say 1 + 1 = 3, say], ERR.

Seemed tougher than a Friday puzzle, no? I finished in a Saturdayish length of time. Not a ton of gimmes for me although, strangely, my first answer in the grid was ORIOLES, 3d. [Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson]. Thanks go to Brendan Quigley for that baseball-puzzle-book proofreading gig a few years back.

—Augghhh. Back after spending a half hour tending to my kid and cleaning up the dramatic throw-up that juuust didn’t quite wait until the toilet lid was opened. I hate to give short shrift to a puzzle, especially a decent themeless, but I’m done for the night. Back to cleanup and kidtending.

3.5 stars for this 70-worder that didn’t quite manage to hit the Themeless Joy Centers in my brain.

Updated Friday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Let’s Go to the Movies”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, January 25

Today’s puzzle is a tribute to emphatically punctuated film titles. The grid features six movies with exclamation points in their titles (as hinted at by the clues accompanying the theme entries):

  • 17-Across: The [1965 Hayley Mills film title!] is THAT DARN CAT! It’s about a jazz artist that irks most of the principal characters.
  • 26-Across: The [1980 Leslie Nielsen film title!] is AIRPLANE! And don’t call me Shirley.
  • 33-Across: The [1969 Barbra Streisand film title!] is HELLO, DOLLY!
  • 44-Across: The [1952 Marlon Brando film title!] is VIVA ZAPATA! And yet my first thought was STELLA!
  • 50-Across: The [2008 Meryl Streep film title!] is MAMMA MIA! That’s-a a spicy meat-a-ball!   
  • 60-Across: The [1996 Jack Nicholson film title!] is MARS ATTACKS! Spoiler alert: Earth wins. (At least I think that’s how it ends.)

Today’s puzzle is brought to you by the preposition UP. We have BLEW UP, MIX UP, SET-UPS and UP IN arms. A nit-picking purist would balk at the duplication triplication here, but I tend to cut repated prepositions a lot of slack. I’d rather have repeated prepositions if they add some spice to the fill, and BLEW UP, SET-UPS and MIX UP are all terrific. 

Fill junkies like me have a lot to love here. There’s TO DIE FOR, AD FEES, FELLA, DUE IN, RAN AFTER, and ZIP IT on top of the nice UPs identified above. Oh, and we should not forget the fine ASSES at the, er, bottom. Yes, TUE, DAH, and AERIE seem a bit out of place in one of Doug’s puzzles, but the puzzle has a liveliness to it that more than justifies the occasional Crosswordese. Did anyone else like seeing both ORC and ORK in the grid? Okay, it’s apparent I don’t get out much. 

Favorite entry = I’LL SAY, clued here as [“You’re tellin’ me!”]. Favorite clue = [“I’m cuckoo for ___ Puffs!”] for COCOA. Yay, Sonny!

Kurt Krauss’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

I’m feeling ambivalent towards today’s theme: pun’s that require one word of two phrases to metamorphose into synonyms for “yell.” Yells are inherently lively, which is one point in the puzzle’s favour. Also, the answers are quite evocative. You can definitely quite easily imagine a PONZISCREAM or a SLEEPYHOLLER or a BOOSTERSHOUT for instance! That said, some of the changes required to reach the answers are quite big, which makes things feel a bit loose. Especially as I pronounce SHEIKH “shake”. Am I strange in doing so?

Sorry for being such a SOURPUSS today, I feel like I should like every theme a lot, and wish I could, but that’s how personal preference goes… Mr. Krauss did use the fact that there are only 46 squares (albeit in the tricky 11/12/12/11 formation) to his advantage. Not only with SOURPUSS, but also CLASSACT, RAMPARTS, COCKER (I didn’t know that cocker spaniels hunted cocks!) and MRMOOSE (who I’ve not heard of, but he does sound fun!). Amy would castigate me if I didn’t mention that the clue, [Polite denial], for NOMAAM never gets an army clue. which is mystifying to me too.

I’m calling this puzzle a 3.33. How about you?

PS: Record Friday time for me, FWIW.

Jim Holland’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Wildly Appropriate” — pannonica’s review

CHE • 1/25/13 • “Wildly Appropriate” • Holland • solution

Homophonic punnery, in which the nubbin (consistently the second word in a two-word phrase) is a wild ANIMAL (5d [Cracker shape, maybe], more specifically a mammal in the plural. With bending-over-backward cluing.

  • 18a. [Felines briefly discovered, then lost again; appropriately, they’re called …] MISSING LYNX (links).
  • 28a. [Deer discovered that subsist solely on cacao beans; appropriately, they’re called …] CHOCOLATE MOOSE (mousse). You can tell it’s MOOSE plural because the clue uses “subsist” rather than “subsists.”
  • 45a. [Rabbit relatives discovered that multiply by dividing; appropriately, they’re called …] SPLITTING HARES (hairs). Cute clue. I suppose the title of the paper would be “Binary fission among Leporids.” Actually, it’d probably be something more like, “A novel method of reproduction in non-ochotonid Lagomorphs.” Did you think my analysis of the previous entry was splitting hairs? I felt it was worth it, to illuminate an extra aspect of consistency among the four themers.
  • 60a. [Antelopes discovered that graze only at twilight; appropriately, they’re called …] EVENING GNUS (news). A crossword staple, those gnus.

All right, yes, fine, I’ll do it; that’s one carnivore, two artiodactyls, and one lagomorph. Interesting how the original words in each original phrase are two singular nouns and two plurals, though the transformed answers for all are plurals.

Fairly simple theme, very well executed. Bonus mammal at 32d ERMINE. The longest non-theme answers are a couple of downs at seven letters (SOMEHOW and THRUSTS), so the ballast fill has a bit of a chopped up, insubstantial feel.

Some more:

  • 19d [High-radiation WMDs] N-BOMBS. Makes me think of F-BOMBS but obviously for another taboo word.
  • 36a [Actor Kevin who played Hercules] SORBO. Makes me think a bit of polysorbate, not at all of sorbet.
  • 33d [One coming down from a landing] STAIR. I continue to be consistently fooled by this misdirection clue, in all its variations, including those involving flights.
  • Clever clues: 22a [Something to put a drink on] TAB, not a coaster or MAT. 21d [Oxford ties] LACES, neither school chums as metaphorical ties nor neckties; we’re talking shoes here.
  • Birds, not mammals: EAGLE, GROUSE, LEDA (well, it was Zeus, but whatever). Although none is clued as such. (34d, 47d, 50d)
  • Very low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials). EOE (53a) is the yickiest thing in the grid.

Good puzzle.

Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Metalheads” — pannonica’s review

WSJ • 1/25/12 • “Metalheads” • Fri • Fisher • solution

For this puzzle, the two-letter symbols of elemental metals have been affixed to base phrases, creating new words in the process, and the resultant phrases are clued appropriately.

  • 21a. [Struggling to silence an aluminum clock?] (AL)ARM WRESTLING. Al, aluminum.
  • 31a. [Galosh that’s a reddish gold color?] (AU)BURN RUBBER. Au, gold (aurum).
  • 40a. [Among farm critters, a pig’s nose made of tin?] (SN)OUT OF STOCK. Sn, tin (stannum).
  • 57a. [Tabby’s tee shot made with an iron?] (FE)LINE DRIVE. Fe, iron (ferrum).
  • 68a. [Most adorable flier of a copper plane?] (CU)TEST PILOT. Cu, copper (cuprum).
  • 81a. [Exhausted fish in a titanium can?] (TI)RED HERRING. Ti, titanium.
  • 93a. [Snake going up in flames on a cobalt griddle?] (CO)BRA BURNING. Co, cobalt.
  • 106a. [Public tribute to a former veep on his silver anniversary?] (AG)NEW TESTAMENT. Ag, silver (argentum).

 I found the theme to be quite entertaining and its execution very well done. The surrounding fill is strong, with some good medium-length nuggets such as MEERKAT, OVEN MITT, BANKNOTE, TAXIMAN and others. Fun cluing throughout, with playful offerings such as [Professional offers?] for HITMEN, [Freckle’s makeup] MELANIN, [Panhandler?] OVEN MITT, [Them;s fighting words] EN GARDE, and the double-duty [Access controller{s}] for SENTRY and GATEMEN.

Above-average puzzle.

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10 Responses to Friday, January 25, 2013

  1. sbmanion says:

    I thought it was tough in spite of the largest number of sports-related entries in recent memory.

    As a lifelong golf fanatic, I am ashamed of my performance on this one. SEVE is Seve Ballesteros, the great Spanish golfer who died recently, but I have never heard of the SEVE trophy. And even DOUBLE BOGEY took me a while to see.

    The last time a bowling clue appeared, the puzzle correctly called the surface a LANE. Today it is back to the incorrect (dictionaries notwithstanding) ALLEY. I used to be allowed to bowl for free because I represented my bowling alley in tournaments and traveling leagues. If I asked for “an alley,” the manager would not let me bowl until I asked (correctly) for a lane.

    I have never heard of SYNTH.


    • Howard B says:

      The bowling ALLEY collectively has its pins at the end, although I agree with your distinction, (speaking as an ex-casual league bowler who never got his average above 160).
      Although in my area, there were a couple of alleys that were designed with half of the lanes on each side, with the bar, front desk, and vending machines in the center; so that both ends of the alley had pins. But I digress.
      It’s still a (mostly) valid clue, although perhaps a bit more misdirective than intended.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Steve, as a total non-bowler, I don’t even understand the distinction. What is an alley as opposed to a lane? The establishment with a bunch of lanes? Is that the point?

      (except for duck pins, which I like, and consider a much more interesting, strategic game than standard ten pin bowling.)

      • sbmanion says:

        Yes, Bruce. Alley is a synonym for establishment. Lane is the 60′ surface you roll the ball down. We always called the channel on either side of the lane, “the gutter,”and a bad shot might result in a gutter ball. Today it is called the channel.

        I will have to take you with me next time I visit my sister and friends in Buffalo. You can 10-pin in Buffalo and duckpin just over the border in Canada.

      • jefe says:

        Alley: 1) A group of lanes; 2) bowling establishment; 3) playing surface (i.e., a lane). Purists disavow the 3rd definition. I don’t know how common it is for the general public to refer to a single lane as an alley, though.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: Not on my wavelength. And while I usually like tougher puzzles as an opportunity to learn something new– e.g. yesterday’s DESCANT and the interesting discussion that ensued– I’m not sure what it would be today?

    The clue for THREE FOR ONE confused me. When I see a clue with “say”, I think that the answer will be the more general concept and the clue is an example of that concept. So in this case, the clue would be “three for one, say” and the puzzle entry would be : “A really good offer”. This seems backward to me. Do I have it wrong?

  3. Gareth says:

    Very tough Friday indeed! And very US Sporty indeed too! Most persistant wrong answer: TISanE for TISSUE! OF course DiPiet did the double fake with “Giant of legend” for which we’re conditioned to reply: OTT. Only it’s four letters! My combined LAT/NYT time is about normal for a Friday, but the proportions are all wrong!

    • janie says:

      TISANE before TISSUE; and (appropriately, i s’pose) STICKY before TRICKY……

      but a satisfying solve all in all — with that wonderfully weepy SOB/SADSONG meet-up!


  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Funny how people’s perceptions differ. I loved the NYT and found it very straightforward — (I shy away from the word “easy”) — except for — (Janie stole my thunder) — starting with “tisane” instead of “tissue” causing a slight hiccup in the NE. But my time was pretty close to par, if not at it. Also loved Dan Fisher’s wsj.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    My favorites today were the CHE and the WSJ, because I always get a kick out of pseudo-animal combos… from MISSING LYNX to COBRA BURNING. It seems to have been an especially rich week so far along those lines, with the MOUSE PAD and RAT PACK earlier! BTW, I sympathize with Gareth in being bothered by the LAT’s SHEIK turning into a non-rhyming SHRIEK, but hey — it did include an adorable MEERKAT and a neatly clued COCKER, not to mention RAMPARTS!

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