Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NYT 2:48 
Tausig untimed 
LAT untimed (Gareth) 
CS 4:29 (Sam) 

Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 1 30 13, #0130

Oh! Here it is. I found it. That Monday puzzle we’ve been looking for all week. I found this puzzle to be markedly easier than both of the two that preceded it.

Will’s theme duplicates a “*O” syllable at the end of a word/phrase, thereby turning it into something entirely different:

  • 17a. [Coming on to a patient, perhaps?], DOCTOR NO-NO. There’s a demerit of .1 star for spelling out Dr. No this way. It’s the MISTER ED offense.
  • 21a. [Deny membership to skater Starbuck?], BAN JOJO. JoJo Starbuck was mostly before my time. I might’ve opted for the famed Dog-Faced Boy.
  • 36a. [Dictator’s directive at a dance club?], LET MY PEOPLE GO-GO. Wait. What kind of dictator just wants people to have a good time dancing? This is a tyranny I could get on board with. What will his next demand be—DO THE MAMBO?
  • 55a. [Bad-mouth designer Chanel?], DIS COCO. I know Coco is long gone now, but yes. The fit of Julianne Moore’s Chanel gown at the SAG Awards was … saggy.
  • 59a. [“Strive for medium quality on this one”?], MAKE IT SO-SO. Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek spinoff character (don’t expect me to know which people were on which latter-day Trek series) was fond of saying “Make it so.”

Rather Scrabbly fill overall, with QUADS and JINX up at the top. Other fill I liked: WON BIG, RATED PG, BLADE II, WHO AM I, HIJAB.

The puzzle contains two towns I’d probably never had heard of were it not for crosswords: 46d. [City of northern Spain], OVIEDO, and 53a. [New York site of Mark Twain’s grave], ELMIRA. Would you believe my son has a classmate named Elmira? She is more familiar to me than the New York city of 29,000. (She’s a huge Belieber.)

Let us count the names in this puzzle, shall we? I think there may be a surfeit. EFRON LILA ELLA GOGOL AVA LAHR ELMIRA EMIL EUROPA ABEL COLE MAE OJAI GARR OVIEDO LETHE. Sixteen, and SAL gets a crosswordese/chemistry [__ ammoniac] clue and just barely escapes from this list. NACRE and EMAG are words I pretty much never encounter outside of crosswords. We’ll ding the rating for this paragraph, too.

3.56 stars.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Change-oops”

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword solution, 1 30 13 “Change-oops”

How did Ben change it up here? He took phrases with the short U sound of “up” and converted that to a long U sound:

  • 17a. [YouTube compilation showing Skywalker’s coolest moments?], BEST OF LUKE.
  • 25a. [Historically low prices on snout meat, say?], HOT DOG BOON.
  • 34a. [1976 Neil Young-Stephen Stills single, and a phonetic hint to this puzzle], LONG MAY YOU RUN. “Long may the ‘U’ sound run,” in other words.
  • 49a. [Server in the cafeteria of Mordor?], DOOM WAITER.
  • 57a. [Civil liberties movement for mafia thugs?] GOON RIGHTS.

Highlights include the tawdry GOT OFF; W00T clued as [Word often spelled with two numbers in the middle] plus SEVEN clued as [Movie title often spelled with a number in the middle] (Se7en); [Bald, all-American sort] cluing EAGLE (and echoing Homer Simpson in the next clue); pannonica’s beloved TKS, or [“To come” marks, in editing]; EGOSURF.

Four stars. Nothing scowly here.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Filling the BL”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, January 30

It’s a vowel progression theme featuring five 15-letter theme entries (and 40 black squares to make it work). Each theme entry begins with letter sequence B?L, with a different vowel in place of the question mark each time. Necessarily, the vowels appears in alphabetical order from top to bottom :

  • 17-Across: The [Camden Yards sight] is a BALTIMORE ORIOLE. This 15 may be second only to A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE in terms of recent (over-) use.
  • 22-Across: A [Statistician’s presentation] nearly always features a BELL-SHAPED CURVE.
  • 37-Across: The [Chart from a music newsweekly] is the BILLBOARD TOP TEN. Great entry, though I believe it’s now the “Hot 100.”
  • 47-Across: One who [Suddenly dashes to an exit] is one who BOLTS FOR THE DOOR. Another solid entry.
  • 56-Across: I don’t think I’ve ever heard this, but supposedly the [Earliest runs of newspapers] are called BULLDOG EDITIONS. One would think they would be roosters or other “early birds.” Every bulldog I know is not exactly a morning dog.

Any grid with 75 theme squares will have some sub-par fill. This one, though, is ably constructed. The only eyesores are ACR, ELIEL, SSA, and, I think for most American solvers, OBOTE. You can’t expect so few compromises in a grid so thematically DENSE (clued in the puzzle as [Thick in a couple of ways] but meant here only as a compliment). There are even some treats in the grid, like AB FAB, KAL-EL, LA-Z-Boy recliners, and a splash of PERRIER down the middle. I may not be the biggest fan of vowel progression themes, but I very much admire this grid.

Favorite entry = KOKO, the [Gorilla who learned sign language]. Favorite clue = [“___?” (Miss Piggy’s question)] for MOI.

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

“LA Times crossword solution, 1 30 13”

Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michel Gianette mine from a rich vein of crossword themes: US sports team names. They offer us a whimsical twist though: each team is followed by a past tense verb that is apt/ironic to the meaning of the team’s name. Ok, wait, I see now, it’s a bit tighter than that, each verb could be used when the team loses / plays badly, although that isn’t emphasized in the clues. Also, all the teams are American Football teams (I had to check.)

  • The New Orleans SAINTS could be BEDEVILED
  • The New York JETS may be GROUNDED
  • The Indiana COLTS might be LASSOED
  • And the San Diego CHARGERS may find themselves SHOCKED

What else?

  • The two long downs: ONIONSKIN and QUIETTIME are nice
  • 14a IMUS [Longtime Stern rival] refers to Howard
  • 38a CAV [Old West mil. force]. Talk about going to extremes to avoid possible theme confusion. This could simply have been clued as [Cleveland NBAer]. After consulting many, many dictionaries on- and offline I have concluded it must be referring to an abbreviation for cavalry. Either that or Chicken Anaemia Virus! If you have a better suggestion though please pipe up!
  • 62a [Hardly friendly] COLD. Musical interlude #1
  • 2d [Indian nursemaid] AMAH. She doesn’t show up so much these days!
  • 6d [Vagabond] HOBO. Musical interlude #2
  • 8d [X-ray units] RADS. Or, more in use, to me at least, [X-rays, casually.]
  • 24d [Bone: Pref.] OSTE. It has dictionary support, but ick! OSTEO is the prefix, the O is merely dropped in some cases!
  • 46d [Casual wine choices] CHARDS. I get the feeling like American winos have their own lingo. I don’t see words like this and ZINS and CABS bandied about over here!
  • 57d [Sheep together] HERD. All the cool kids call them flocks.

3.25 stars. I’m guessing American sports nuts will enjoy the theme more than myself though!

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13 Responses to Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  1. John E says:

    Agree Amy, there must be a conspiracy at the NYT to throw off our biological clocks by randomly scattering puzzles of varying difficulties this week. Today’s was pretty easy sailing. The GOGOL/GADDED/OVIEDO crossings were somewhat challenging, but I also thought it was well constructed corner fill.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I loved it!! MAKE IT SOSO is my favorite.

    So much fun that reverberated beyond the theme with more O’s than the theme dictated, creating an echo… GOGOL, BOOM, BLOOM, HOAX, DOPE, MAMBO, DECO, OVIEDO…

    And music, dancing, cheeses–such a party atmosphere!

  3. Horace S. Patoot says:

    SO SO turned up on both coasts today.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Favorite puzzle of the day was the LAT, by far. Don’t know a thing about Kurt and Jan-Michel.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    “Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek spinoff character (don’t expect me to know which people were on which latter-day Trek series) was fond of saying “Make it so.””

    That’s almost enough to make me go to another blog.

    Loved this puzzle.

  6. Gareth says:

    Will’s puzzle hit my wacky sweetspot! I’m giving it a 5, lots of nice medium to long answers too. Some mild, what did Rex call it, scrabblef—ing but fine. For this doctor, coming on to a patient is more than just a nono, though! All 3 puzzles this week clocked in at normal Tuesday speed for me: 3:23, 3:19, 3:25. I don’t expect this to continue though. When I think of Elmira I think of the Tiny Toon Adventures character (supposed to be Fudd’s daughter I think?) who terrorised animals through being overly affectionate to them…

    • jefe says:

      “Elmyra Duff is based superficially on her name derivative and mentor, Elmer Fudd; ‘Elmyra’ being a female form of ‘Elmer’ and her last name, ‘Duff’, as ‘Fudd’ pronounced backwards.” -Wikipedia

      I never made that connection!

  7. pannonica says:

    I’ve been through Elmira, NY, but didn’t stop to visit the grave or any attractions. It isn’t far from Corning and the Corning Museum of Glass, which I also haven’t seen but have long wanted to.

  8. Daniel Myers says:

    I suppose the clue to NYT 36A bothers me a bit because it comes across as a bit tasteless. A dictator? It’s a play on Exodus 9:1 where God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh that line – without the extra GO. Perhaps I’m overreacting, but associating the Jews – “MY PEOPLE” – with a dictator (a simple dictate would be fine) brings bad karma to me.

    • Papa John says:

      I, too, frowned at the “dictator” part of that clue, but for a different reason. I can’t make sense of why a dictator would want his people freed. Don’t dictators hold their citizens in political bondage? As you say, Daniel, it was Moses pleading for the release of his people, not the Pharaoh. I’m no good at these dumb puns, anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter.

      Otherwise, I thought this was a pretty good solve. The only stumbling block I encountered was the minor one re 36 Across.

  9. rglynn3 says:

    OK. I admit it. I had to Google Gogol.

  10. john farmer says:

    My fave was LET ME PEOPLE GO-GO, even if it reminded my of a Wham! song. (To Daniel’s point, I hadn’t given much thought to the clue.)

    I think crosswords are seeing something of an observer effect, where measuring something has an effect on what’s being measured. Not too many years no one knew much about xword records, except maybe for low count of black squares. Now there’s a different stat, and the players are Peter Wentz, Will Nediger, and everybody else.

  11. Jenni says:

    LOVED today’s puzzle. 36A didn’t bother me at all and MAKE IT SO-SO was brilliant. I loved the Scrabbliness and didn’t mind the names. And yes, I agree it was the easiest puzzle so far this week but it was loads of fun. A nice break in a busy busy day here.

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