Thursday, March 7, 2013

NYT 4:10 
Fireball tk 
LAT 4:22 (Jeffrey – paper) 
CS 4:34 (Sam) 
BEQ 12:40 (Matt) 
AV Club 12:31 (Gareth) 

Usually the Fireball puzzle arrives during the day on Wednesday. This week, it didn’t. Thursday’s a travel day, so I don’t know if/when I will get to the puzzle if/when it is sent. I appreciate your forbearance.

Jim Page’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 3 7 13 #0307

Quick review, because I need to pack for my ACPT trip. The theme is HOT CORNER, or 35a: [Third base, in baseball lingo … or a hint for answering eight other clues in this puzzle]. The eight answers around the grid’s perimeter, extending to the corners, should all be preceded by the word HOT in order to work with their clues. I like how it works for the answers that begin in the corners (POTATO, POCKETS, RODDER, TAMALE), but find it offputting that the other ones’ unseen HOTs are loitering in the black squares in the middle of the puzzle’s edges. I want HOT to be in the corners, rather than just sort of relating to each answer that touches a corner. But to me, the puzzle looks like it has PEPPER HOT, TICKET HOT, DOGGED HOT, and MUSTARD HOT. Is it just me or did that bug you too?

The fill’s got some ugliness to it as well: KER-, both E-CASH and E-ZINE, ENSTEEL, REE, OLAS, ALAI, A CAT, IRAE, TERNS, MOR, TAL, A TEN O’, ECT-, and a bunch of 4-letter names out of the Crosswordesetown phone book: ENID, SKIL, TINO, IGER, ELAM, SULU, and GERE. (Okay, I like the last two.) It’s highly entertaining that the central Down answer is 20d: SLIVOVITZ, [Plum brandy]. Isn’t that a great word?

Issues with how the theme is executed, concerns with a lot of the fill—2.5 stars from me.

Joel D. Lafargue’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Happy Thursday, everybody!

Today is deja vu day.

1A. [Theme] – MOTIF

Ways to define three names in non-name ways.

MOTIF answers:

  • 17A. [See 60-Across] – MALE CAT OR TURKEY (Tom)
  • 26A. [See 60-Across] – SLANG FOR A SLEUTH (Dick)
  • 46A. [See 60-Across] – BOTHER ENDLESSLY (Harry)
  • 60A. [Trio suggested by the answers to 17-, 26- and 46-Across] – TOM DICK AND HARRY

As a budding constructor, I find the hardest part is to come up with a new theme. All the good ideas seem to have been done. Without intending to, you can end up duplicating a previously published puzzle. That happened today.

From Tuesday, September 9, 2008:

Over to you, Amy of the past:

The theme is pointed to by the first theme entry, TOM, DICK, AND HARRY, or [Anybody…and the missing clues for 30-, 48- and 63-Across]. 30-Across is a tom, or a MALE TURKEY. 48-Across is a dick, or PRIVATE EYE. Harry, my favorite, means to ANNOY CONSTANTLY. I should use the word harry more often.

To be fair, the fill is improved in today’s version. No ZEBU to be found.

Winter motif:

    • 22A. [Winter airs] – NOELS
    • 51A. [Smudge on Santa’s suit] – ASH
    • 52A. [Snowman’s accessory] – SCARF
    • 57A. [Summer shade] – TAN
    • 4D. [Hard water?] – ICE

Muppet Madness:

  • 36A. [Miss Piggy, to Miss Piggy] – MOI
  • 50A. [“… to market, to buy __ pig …”] – A FAT

Are you calling MOI a fat pig?! Hiii-yaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!


  • 24D. [Story-telling song] – BALLAD
  • 53D. [Club where “music and passion were always the fashion,” in song] – COPA. Definitely a story-telling song, so I guess Copacabana is a BALLAD.

Got a plane to catch, so I’ll stop there. Looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend in Brooklyn!

R.I.P. Stompin’ Tom Connors:

Sudbury Saturday Night

Bud The Spud

Updated Thursday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Out in Front”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, March 7

Was Doug looking for some alone time when he wrote this puzzle? According to 50-Down, BEAT IT is both a term meaning [“Get lost!,” and a hint to the beginnings of the three longest entries]. Sure enough, the first four or five letters of each of these answers forms another synonym for “Get lost!” As we’re being encouraged to move along, let’s get straight to the theme entries:

  • 25-Across: SCRAMBLED EGGS, [Bacon’s partner, at times] starts with SCRAM. One who failed to do so, apparently, BLED EGGS, which can’t be comfortable.
  • 36-Across: SHOOT FROM THE HIP, meaning to [Speak without thinking], starts with SHOO. I’d like it better if it started with Elizabeth Shue, but what can you do?
  • 52-Across: SCATTERGORIES is the highly underrated [Party game for creative list makers]. Only now do I realize it starts with SCAT. Eww! Someone needs to curb their party games.

Notice how Doug placed the 13s on lines 5 and 11 of the grid. Usually one would see 13s on lines 4 and 12. I’m thinking that by bringing the 13s closer to the center, Doug was able to have the revealer, BEAT IT, intersect a theme entry. (It also gave him more room for some of the better fill in the grid, like KOBE BEEF, the [Pricey steakhouse selection], QANTAS, the [Airline with a kangaroo in its logo], ASTHMA, and TUNGSTEN.) He could have made the revealer an Across entry, but by having it as a Down entry in the southeast corner, the surprise is pushed back closer to the end of the clues.

Other fun fill included SEE IN, RATED R, ST. JOSEPH, OIL SPILL, and BRASSY (an adjective we need to hear more often).

Favorite entry = OBLIQUE, an [Indirect] muscle I have only obliquely exercised the past few months. Favorite clue = [No-brainer?] for IDIOT.

Tyler Hinman’s AV Club crossword, “Beach Cycle”

AV Club xword 3 6 13 TH

First up, a confession. I don’t have a subscription to the AV Club crosswords. They’re wonderful puzzles, I just don’t solve that many puzzles these days and I wasn’t getting to the AV Club/Onion and many others regularly enough for there to be a point in subscribing… Due to an ACPT-induced staff crisis, I’ve been asked to pinch-blog the crossword. Ben Tausig graciously sent me a copy to blog from! Thanks Ben!

Very tough puzzle! My average Saturday time this year is 12:20, and this took me 12:31. It’s hard for me to put my finger on exactly why that is, unfamiliarity with long answers, some tough names, a few x-reffed clues, I dunno… Guess it adds up!

The theme is awesome, Tyler! Perfectly tight set of four answers! So elegant! I had to stare for a few seconds post-solve to understand. The four long across answers end in PALE, TAN, BURNED, PEELING. My body skips the two in the middle and exists only in a PALE/PEELING cycle! Sucks to be a redhead ;)

  • 17a, [Be really offensive], GOBEYONDTHEPALE. I can’t believe I didn’t get this until quite a few crosses! Nice four-word answer!
  • 27a, [Hoppy mixture], BLACKANDTAN
  • 44a, [In need of aftershave], RAZORBURNED. I’m not sure what this is. I’ve only been shaving less than a year. I don’t own aftershave. Help!
  • 59a. [Cosmetic process used to smoothe], CHEMICALPEELING. Again. Lessee…

I think I’ll take a linear stroll down the clues and highlight as I go…

    • 1a, [Kid-lit elephant], BABAR. Started with a gimme, but it went downhill for me from there.
    • 21a, [Scoped body part], KNEE. Tough clue! Arthroscopy not perving.
    • 23a, [Locale in some “Far Side” cartoons], ISLE. I love Far Side cartoons. Nevertheless a very broad clue. I can think of Far Side cartoons set on isles, the famously subtle one with the shipwrecked mariner pointing out the entire isle was in the intertidal zone comes to mind (I’m not sure how to go about googling it!), but is it really iconically Far Side? I’d say Hagar the Horrible is proportionately more isle-prone!
    • 31a, [Electric switch], RELAY. Please tell me I wasn’t the only one to start with ONOFF!
    • 40a, [It’s given at third 46-Down], ORAL and 46d, BASE. Tough x-rated x-ref. Needed all the crosses!
    • 41a, [___ cleft (space in the brain)], SYNAPTIC. Clue had me racking my brain for something much larger… like the foramen magnum or the subarachnoid or something…
    • 43a, [Hole in those nasty anti-smoking images], STOMA. I’m not familiar with American anti-smoking images. The wording in this clue is very Tausig-esque!
    • 47a, [No Limit Records founder], MASTERP. I know the name (I think? Jam Master J is “running interference”) but I can’t say I recognize anything in his discography! The P is for Percy, which is a very gangster name.
    • 1d, [Grocery stores freebies], BAGS. Here in South Africa, we are now charged +- 3 cents US a bag by law in an effort to curb pollution… (That’s what the government told us, so it must be true)
    • 8d, [Score perfectly, as a dive], RATEATEN. Alternative clue: [Rodent consumed].
    • 11d, [Site unlikely to be used in conjunction with], JDATE. Wikipedia sez it’s aimed at Jewish singles. Ah.
    • 27d, [Ritual in the “South Park” episode “Ike’s Wee Wee”], BRIS. More Jewish content! Extra-effort clueing FTW!

  • 29d, [40% of “Two and a Half Men”], ALAN. Don’t watch the show. Can’t be bothered to figure out what the clue means!
  • 45d, [“Don’t Fear the ___”], REAPER. Love the song! Isn’t it more correctly called (Don’t Fear) The Reaper though? Anyway, listen here.
  • 47d, [“Unhealthy Starbucks order”], MOCHA. Define unhealthy. Empty calories? If you have a vitamin/mineral rich diet that is otherwise calorie-deficient then that’d be healthy would it not? There’s no such thing as unhealthy food, only unhealthy diets and portion sizes IMO. I may be [Troll]ing

Whoa! That’s a lot of bullets! Excuse me while I find some gratuitous images to break up the white space a bit… I’ll go with 4.5 stars. Great theme! Lots of pop-culture/trivia type answers, making the puzzle tough, but fun!

Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Check Your Crossings” — Matt’s review

Express review today since I’ve been shoveling snow this afternoon and am having trouble keeping my eyelids open. Brendan pays tribute to this weekend’s ACPT by including nine letters that take an AC going across and a PT going down. So 17-across is J(AC)K KEROU(AC), which crosses GU(PT)A and RA(PT)OR at the AC/PT.

Cute and timely idea, especially tied in with the title. Have fun, those of you who will be in Brooklyn this weekend!

Alan Arbesfeld’s Fireball crossword, “Taking Things Apart”

Fireball 3/7/13

Short writeup, because it’s a day later and there are People, So Many Lovely People, here in the Marriott lounge.

Theme: Deconstruct each phrase by breaking up the words. “FA” CULT Y MEMBERS love the musical note “fa” and joined the YMCA. [Step on a scale following a spot of exercise]. No idea how CULT figures in–oh, wait, that’s “following.”

DI RECTOR’S CUT is [Princess belonging to a church official]. Princess Diana, a rector, and your “cut” is your share of something. Like the first theme answer, it doesn’t quite hang together in a way that makes sense vis-a-vis the clue. In the first one, where is MEMBERS reflected in the clue? These feel sort of like cryptic crossword clues, but missing a piece of the pie.

[Guys top collection of baseball teams] = MEN (guys) T (t-shirt = top) A.L. (American League) BREAKDOWN. Oh, okay, I get it. The clue is a BREAKDOWN of the word MENTAL into several components, and MEMBERS of the word FACULTY are those things in the first clue, and DIRECTORS is CUT into DI and RECTOR’S. Dang, this is not an obvious theme. I saw someone on Facebook asking for a theme explanation, so I know it’s not just me who had trouble here.

PERIOD PIECES, PIECES of PERIOD are P.E. [Gym class…] RIO […locale known for its dancing…] D […almost failing]. And last, we have STRING SECTIONS, sectioned into  ST. [Canonized one…] RIN [… part of a noted German Shepherd…] G […movie rating].

Complex theme, but it works. 4.5 stars for the theme. The fill is a bit “meh” (CDIV, UTWO, AGAPE), which brings the puzzle down to 4 stars.

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28 Responses to Thursday, March 7, 2013

  1. Cindy Lou Who says:

    I have zero problem with the way the theme was done. It’s fabulous.

    I’d expect SLIVOVITZ / IGER to derail the solve for a lot of people. It’s a vowel, but if you don’t specifically know one of the entries, I doubt that guessing an “I” is very likely.

  2. RK says:

    I liked the theme, but to each their own.

    Good luck to all ACPT goers!

  3. cyberdiva says:

    I too liked the theme. What did me in was that I was totally unfamiliar with the word “prename” and went instead for “penname,” even though I wasn’t too happy with that. I also had no idea who drew “Archie.” Thus, the upper-right corner remained incomplete.

    Good luck to everyone participating in the ACPT.

  4. Huda says:


    I see your point Amy. The idea of the theme is clever, but it would have been better to have HOT strictly in the corner. It didn’t bother me during the solve, however, and knowing the theme actually helped me come up with answers. But I did not know the expression== HOT CORNER in baseball, so that made it hard. But my main objection is to some of the fill, and intersections. Maybe just not in my wheelhouse.

    • sbmanion says:

      There is nothing quite like playing the HOT CORNER on a bad team in an open class fast pitch softball league. For several years, I played on the worst team in an outstanding fast pitch league in Niagara Falls, New York. Several of the pitchers were from St. Catherines, Ontario, one of a few unusual hotbeds for great fast pitch pitchers. Another is New Zealand.

      The third baseman in fast pitch typically plays 10 feet in front of third base to protect against bunts. If the pitcher is good, this is not a problem. If the pitcher is bad, the other team’s players can turn on the ball and send some rockets down the line.

      Eddie Feigner, the great travelling showman of fast pitch, once faced a team of major leaguers. In four innings, only one player hit the ball–Rod Carew hit a foul ball. Imagine facing Nolan Ryan from 46 feet or less (mound distances vary). But if your pitcher is a junk ball pitcher, as the one on my team was, third base is quite scary.

      I did not know PRENAME or ENSTEEL. I did know SLIVOVITZ. I thought the bottom was tough and thought the theme was excellent.


    • pannonica says:

      I see Amy’s point, too, but it didn’t enhackle me while solving. On the other hand, I found much of the fill—especially in the NE and SW—suspect or strange. Most if not all have already been mentioned: ENSTEEL, the unfamiliar PRENAME (though I know its antecedent praenomen), plural EL NINOS (in Spanish it would technically be Los Niños, but I would expect the more long-winded “el Niño events” in everyday speech), Dan—not Yvonne—DECARLO, the wonky UPTREND. And finally MOR for Morocco; I simply had Mauritania on my mind and couldn’t shake it.

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    I’ll never accept TAL as bad fill. If you surveyed 100 chess players who know what they’re talking about, from any country, about 50 of them (including me) would give his name in response to “who is your favorite chess player of all time?” World Champion, but much more than that.

    • klew archer says:

      I agree with Matt. I am a novice player, just really started this year, so I don’t have a favorite, but I certainly know who he is.

    • AV says:

      TAL was one of my first entries in the puzzle. He is among my top few players as well: TAL, then ALEKHINE (although not grid-friendly), CAPABLANCA (if you want to do a letter swap theme), and MORPHY (another letter-swap). Also, waiting for ANAND to appear in a grid!

      • klew archer says:

        Didn’t somebody put his first name, VISWANATHAN, in a grid once? Can’t remember, maybe it was Matt, but I think it was BEQ. Or maybe Peter Gordon in a Fireball.

  6. ktd says:

    I’m making it a goal to play SLIVOVITZ in Scrabble (yes, it’s legal!).

    • HH says:

      Considering that at least 2 of those letters will have to be on the board already (probably IT), and that the set has only 1 Z and only 2 Vs, good luck.

      • ktd says:

        Start with IT or LI on the board, then you need SOIVVZ(T/L). Yes, getting those consonants (or blanks) is the key, but you never know!

  7. Gareth says:

    I’ve done something funny – please don’t try rate the AV as the widget is linked to the NYT at present… Not sure what I’ve done. The hyperlink is also going to the NYT.

  8. Zulema says:

    Neither TAL nor OLAS are crosswordese. My second entry was SLIVOVITZ, my first was ALAI, semi-crosswordese, perhaps.

    • klew archer says:

      Don’t know from OLAS, but TAL has been in the NYT 47 times in the WS era, the vast majority references to the chess champion, along with a handful of TAL Farlows and a few Spanish language usages.

      • Zulema says:

        Crosswordese should be kept for fill not used legitimatelly much in real life. Tal, like for others here, was the champion I learned chess from, now (my chess but not Tal) sadly forgotten. OLAS, like ONDAS, synonyms, are Spanish for “waves,” terms in everyday use.

        • Evad says:

          I was wondering Zulema, in Spain, are those terms used both nautically (surf) and in hand-waving and even in hairstyles?

          • Zulema says:

            Wow! I never thought about it before. Now that I do, OLA is a strong wave of water and one can also use it for a gust of wind, but never for a hairstyle, which is ONDEADO from ONDA. Neither of them can be used for hand-waving. The waltz we know as “Over the Waves” is “Sobre las Olas” but the Strauss waltz is “Ondas del Danubio” and I am not sure of the English for it. I now realize that OLA is a much stronger wave than ONDA. ONDA is also used for “wave-length, radio signals, etc.” And OLA is also used in crime contexts like a “wave of terror.” I hope we are not thoroughly confused by now.

        • Bruce N. Morton says:

          I wondered about “olas”. I know “ondas”, (like the French “ondes”), but not its synonym.

      • pannonica says:

        Just so long as we stay away from TAL Bachman.

  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    As someone who has occasionally posted testy comments about some BEQ puzzles, if this one is not a “Orcas” nominee, and probable winner for puzzle of the year, I can’t imagine what would beat it out. Talk about the good twin! :-) It would have been great even without the word *verklempt*. but with it. . .

  10. jane lewis says:

    it looks like peter is taking the week off – probably saving his strength for the acpt – or the fireball was gobbled up somewhere along the way.

  11. john farmer says:

    You don’t have to go to South Africa to pay for your bags at the grocery store. Same here when we shop next door in Calabasas, and our stores in L.A. are due to go the same way, I believe. Or is that the ban on plastic? Anyway, bring your own bags is the new thing, and it’s spreading.

Comments are closed.