Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fireball 5:40 (contest puzzle) 
AV Club 3:47 
NYT 3:34 
LAT 4:24 (Gareth) 6:06 (Jeffrey – paper) 
CS 5:16 (Sam) 
BEQ 9:40 (Matt) 

Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 3 21 13 #0321

Judging by my solving time, we’ve returned to our regular schedule of Wednesday puzzles every day but Wednesday. The 74-word grid is a bit more open than the usual Wednesday, but the theme is free of Thursday trickery. Each theme answer ends with an anagram of the letters EFIRS”

  • 17a. [Undecorated type?], SANS SERIF.
  • 24a. [Subjects of some park sign warnings], FOREST FIRES.
  • 34a. [Some homeowner transactions when interest rates fall, informally], MORTGAGE REFIS.
  • 51a. [Certain lap dog], BICHON FRISE. A neighbor has one of these. Cute little soft thing.
  • 59a. [Wok dishes], STIR FRIES.

Highlights in the fill: “OH, HELL” crossing HIGH-FIVE, NINTENDO, TENOR SAX, CHAT ROOM.

Favorite clues:

  • 5a. [Handoff that isn’t], FAKE. Sports noun.
  • 47a. [Highball?], LOB.
  • 3d. [Company whose name roughly means “leave luck to heaven”], NINTENDO.
  • 12d. [Like LeBron James vis-à-vis Kobe Bryant], TALLER. See also 49d: [Kobe ___] BEEF.
  • 18d. [Jewel box?]/42d. [Jewel boxes]. SAFE, CD CASES.
  • 47d. [A wolf has a strong one], LIBIDO. Wolf needs a cold shower.
  • 48d. [Underworld boss?], OSIRIS. Egyptian mythology.

Solid theme, sparkly fill, fun clues? 4.33 stars.

Byron Walden’s AV Club crossword, “Segar Genesis”

AV Club crossword, 3 21 13 “Segar Genesis”

Hardcore crossworders and animation fans know that Elzie “E.C.” Segar is the cartoonist behind Popeye the Sailor Man (Segar drew the “Thimble Theatre” comic strip; the animated shorts and films were adapted from the strip). In this 16×15 puzzle, Byron brings us all the main characters (except for little Swee’Pea) at the start of each theme answer:

  • 19a. [“When you’re here, you’re family” chain, until 2012], OLIVE GARDEN. Olive Oyl, Popeye’s beloved.
  • 25a. [Rameau opera about mythological twins], CASTOR ET POLLUX. Castor Oyl is Olive’s brother (who hardly figured into the cartoons I remember watching). At first I ignored the “Segar Genesis” title and thought the theme was going to be oils.
  • 39a. [Self-description of fictional diarist Greg Heffley], WIMPY KID. Wimpy’s the one who would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.
  • 54a. [“Animal House” character who asks “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”], BLUTO BLUTARSKY. Played by John Belushi. Awesome entry! (And clue!) Bluto was the horrible romantic rival for Olive Oyl’s affections, and by “romantic rival” I mean “embodiment of rape culture.” He really didn’t give a rat’s ass about Olive’s wishes, am I right?
  • 63a. [Oscar-winning detective role for Gene Hackman], POPEYE DOYLE.

Highlights in the fill include GO CO-OP, Gwen STEFANI, “LET IT GO,” PAT BOONE, CAR BUFF, DIRECTV, and INDEX FUND. Favorite clues:

  • 37a. [“West and wewaxation at wast!” speaker], Elmer FUDD. More classic cartoon action.
  • 26d. [R.E.M. member?], RAPID eye movement.
  • 48d. [Brand name seen on outdoor dishes], DIRECTV. Not plastic dinner plates.

How long will we continue seeing J.Lo clues (30d. [J.Lo’s show]) for American IDOL? She was a judge for two of the 12 seasons but I dunno, I think it has ceased being “J.Lo’s show.”

Not sure I knew ACIDY was a word (10a. [Sour, as a stomach]), but it is. RANEE, -INE, ACUTER, RETIE, EL ORO, OLEO, ENOLS, and EXS, I could do without (unless they really bail me out when I’m constructing a puzzle).

Bonus points for the clever theme angle, the zippiness of the theme entries, and the more interesting bits of long fill. 4 stars.

Peter Collins’ Fireball crossword, “Family Dynamic”

No answer grid this week, and minimal puzzle chat, as it’s a contest puzzle. I figured out the meta easily, which I was not expecting given the difficulty of past Fireball contest crosswords and given my poor track record with Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest (I can usually muster up an answer for weeks 1 and 2, and after that all bets are off). Delightful puzzle, though. A fun 17×17 with lively fill and clues. 4.5 stars.

Alex Bajcz’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

“LA Times crossword solution, 21 03 13”

The young man whose full-name would go along towards achieving a pangram if he were only a little famouser is back: Alex Bajcz. What has he got for us today? A typical hide-the-letters-across-two-words theme, elevated by a great revealer: UNDERCOVERCOP. Only the 3 theme answers today, but with the revealer makes it a 4×13, which is a tough arrangement to pull off – it really makes placing your black squares tricky! The answers are

    • [Hot sauce ingredient], TABASCOPEPPER. Fun answer!
    • [Vox populi], PUBLICOPINION
    • [Genre artist of mid-18th-century Europe], ROCOCOPAINTER. Always liked the sound of the word ROCOCO

The 13’s necessitate a lot of longer down answers. VERTEBRA and CHABLIS are colorful one-word answers. HARPOONGUN has a bit of a breakfast-test issue for me (but probably not many other people). LIQUOREDUP is a great UP answer, and also a great way to add a Q! And we also get LETSPLAY as a spoken word exhortation. Lots of fun to be had in the downs!

Lets go stream of consciousness: the early sequence of PAIR/HOTS/FRESH felt like it was trying to tell us a story. [Auth. of many snarky blog comments] is a nice angle for ANON. Hope to get a few today, they’re always entertaining. It was only from crosswords that I learned that the [British blame game?] CLUEDO isn’t known that way universally. I think I also found out then that LUDO (CLUEDO is a pun on that game’s name) isn’t universally known either. [“House,” in Inuit] is probably your best angle for IGLU – it’s a rare variant in English, but as the clue suggests is the standard Inuit spelling (I think?) [Suckling spot] for TEAT is surprisingly frank – HH would approve. Lastly I know [Covent Garden architect Jones] INIGO mostly thanks to Eddie Izzard, although I can’t find a clip for you. He’s quite a big name in architectural history though…

What say you? 3 1/2?


Alex Bajcz’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Theme:“COP” hidden across the two words of the theme anwers.

  • 20A. [Hot sauce ingredient] – TABASCO PEPPER
  • 43A. [Genre artist of mid-18th-century Europe] – ROCOCO PAINTER
  • 27A. [Vox populi] – PUBLIC OPINION
  • 49A. [Stinger? (and what’s literally found in 20-, 27- and 43-Across)] – UNDERCOVER COP

Standard hidden word puzzle with revealer. Nothing too exciting, almost nothing objectionable.

ON and ON:

  • 16A. [Auth. of many snarky blog comments] – ANON
  • 31A. [Off __: sporadically] – AND ON
  • 9D. [Plead in court, say] – RESPOND
  • 10D. [Whaling weapon] – HARPOON GUN
  • 11D. [Bowler’s target] – ONE PIN

Weird short names:

  • 23A. [Beret-sporting revolutionary] – CHE
  • 32A. [NBAer who tweeted “I’m about to retire” in 2011] – SHAQ
  • 61A. [Woody’s son] – ARLO
  • 21D. [“The Nazarene” author Sholem] – ASCH
  • 22D. [Belgian prime minister Di Rupo] – ELIO
  • 46D. [Covent Garden architect Jones] – INIGO

Who Knew?

  • 41A. [British blame game?] – CLUEDO. You may know it as “CLUE”. I do.

Nobody spells in the Arctic:

  • 57A. [“House,” in Inuit] – IGLU. How will you attach that paper? I GLU. You glu? GLU DO.


Updated Thursday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Trite Construction Site”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, March 21

If you knew that today’s constructor, Tony Orbach, works as a construction project manager for residential and commercial projects, you probably would not have been surprised by this crossword’s theme. Tony takes us to the construction site, but no hardhat or safety goggles can protect us from the rhymes that await:

  • 20-Across: The [Uninteresting structural support?] is BORING SHORING, not AS DULL AS IT MAY SEEM BEAM.
  • 36-Across: The [Pedestrian strip of wood?] is a FLAT SLAT. But honestly, shouldn’t most slats be flat?
  • 45-Across: DRAB SLAB is [Dull kitchen counter material?]. 
  • 55-Across: My favorite of the group, appropriately coming at the end, is PROSAIC MOSAIC, the [Run-of-the-mill decorative tile arragement?].

The answer at 38 sums up my feelings about this puzzle. No, not SNORER at 38-Across. I mean SHAZAM! at 38-Down. I really like a lot of the playful fill in this grid. We have a MAGIC SPELL, SMARMY, BELOVED, IFFY, TOE TAG, G-FORCE, MEMOIR, and (appropriate for a construction-based theme) LEGO. I also liked GUILTY, the [Court pronouncement] (even though my first guess based off the crossing U was RULING). The only grimace came from LGE, an unfortunate abbreviation we’ve now seen in two consecutive CS puzzles. Is there a theme brewing here? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Favorite entry = FINGER ROLL, the [Graceful hoop move]. Favorite clue = [Bar order, with “the”] for USUAL. I don’t know, there was just something seedy about that clue that really appealed to me.

Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Chilly Reception” — Matt’s review

Lots of problematic areas in today’s BEQ for this solver. For a long time I had Manute BOL instead of the correct YAO Ming at 17-d [Fourth-tallest NBA player ever], and CROWN/AREA instead of the correct INLAY/INTO in the center-left. Extremely tricky clues like [It can give you a leg up] for LA-Z-BOY slowed me down, too, though eventually I skated in under 10 minutes.

Brendan writes on his blog:

As for today’s puzzle, it has been brought to you by the seemingly never-ending winter of ’13. Spring can’t come soon enough.

He’s channeled his New England weather-rage into a clever puzzle: ICE inserts itself into base phrases, creating wacky new phrases:

16-a [Place that serves $28 pints of ale?] = PRICEY BAR (pry bar)

22-a [Jokes about snake eyes?] = DICE-ROLL HUMOR (droll humor)

34-a [Glass ceilings?] = OFFICE LIMITS (off-limits)

44-a [Masculine legal process?] = JUSTICE FOR MEN (Just for Men, the hair dye product)

53-a [What gets cops high?] = POLICE POT (Pol Pot, the bloodthirsty dictator)

Nice set with some legit LOLs. Other notes:

***I got SNORRI off the ??OR??. Can anyone beat that? No fair if your surname ends in -dottir or -sson.

***[Mancave visitor] = BRO, [Sch. that if it were a country, it would rank 12th all-time in Olympic medals] = USC, [Slammer’s forte] = POETRY, and [Value of the J tile in Croatian Scrabble] = ONE. That’s some nice cluing!

***SBARRO, LA-Z-BOY, A.J. FOYT (can never remember if he’s Foyt or Hoyt), AS EVER, AMP UP and IN PEN. Five long theme entries don’t stop BEQ from filling a grid like it’s going out of style.

It’s the classic BEQ formula: timely, funny, lively. 4.35 stars. This kid is rolling in 2013.

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20 Responses to Thursday, March 21, 2013

  1. Jeff Chen says:


    Thanks a lot, Doug.

  2. Jeff Chen says:

    BTW, 59a started as a revealer, but it got hookered. Man, do I love that term (thanks HH).

  3. First word into the NYT was NINTENDO for me. That made me happy. I then tried putting INTERNET next to it at 2D, but that didn’t work out after a couple of crosses.

  4. Gareth says:

    “Solid theme, sparkly fill, fun clues? 4.33 stars.” – What Amy said!

  5. Howard B says:

    Fun ride through the grid today. Enjoyable fill throughout. Nice one, Jeff!

  6. Martin says:

    Ah, CLUEDO brings back memories… that’s the British version of “Clue”… complete with Reverend Green, not Mr. Green.

    I just checked, the game is originally a British game. CLUEDO is only known as Clue in the US and Canada.

    FYI. ;)


  7. Matthew G. says:

    I thought Jeff’s puzzle was easy for a Thursday, but I really liked it. I especially like the non-whack-you-over-the-head revealer of STIR FRIES, which seems to add to the Thursday-ness. I enjoy it when I can’t scan the clue list for { . . . and a clue to blah blah blah and blah Across} but the final theme answer still brings it all together.

  8. sbmanion says:

    Excellent puzzle. I did not realize what the theme was until the very end, possibly because I solved on a screen I was unfamiliar with and still do not know how it popped up.

    For most of the past 15 years, the only “must watch” sports for me were pro football, Tiger Woods and playoffs and individual sport championships. I have now added LeBron to that mix. To be that big and strong and point-guard quick is just unreal. And now the new rumor is that he may go back to Cleveland in 2014 as the NBA “anti-Heat rules” will make it hard for the Heat to hold on to all of their big three and LeBron has a great freindship with Kyrie Irving. It would be an unbelievable full circle if LeBron announces that he will take his talent to South Cleveland.

    As to the four tallest NBA players, I wonder if any of these guys suffer from gigantism or acromegaly or if they are simply tall. I had an employee once who was 7’4″ tall and still growing at age 21. Sadly, he died at 22. In the list of the world’s tallest people ever, only one that I saw as I scrolled down the list lived to be over 60 and almost all died before they were 40.


  9. Jeff Chen says:

    In the LAT I had DOG where PUG was, so I had an unfortunate but amusing error at _ICKOVER.

  10. Peter Piper says:

    Well its thursday and I still can’t find a write up of HH”s sun. puzzle. What gives?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Pannonica was out sick and what do you know? Nobody mentioned the lack of a puzzle review until Thursday! Oy. I was out most of the day Sunday myself.

      • *David* says:

        We have the patience of Job but four days later is the tipping point. An an aside being sick is not an option.

        • pannonica says:

          Kind of figured the demand wasn’t there. I’m on it now; look for a write-up later tonight.

          • pannonica says:

            It’s done and posted. Apologies for putting you folks in a damned-if-you-complain-damned-if-you-don’t bind. Thanks for your patience.

        • Bruce N. Morton says:

          Amy and Pan,

          Do you think that these complaints by Peter and “David” are intended seriously, or tongue-in-cheek? I can’t quite decide. I will relate, without comment, a parable which one of my senior (law firm) partners loved to relate:

          You pick a name and address randomly out of the New York City phone book, and, on the first of the month, you send that person $500. Each successive month, scrupulously on the 1st, you send another $500 check. You haven’t the slightest idea who this person is, and you have no connection with him (her) whatsover, let alone any obligation or duty; you just gratuitously, and for no reason, keep sending the checks on the first of the month. But one month, perhaps years later, the check does not arrive. The person waits one day and another and another. He will soon feel angry, aggrieved, mistreated, maligned, outraged.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    You’d think two LA Times reviews would make up for any late ones.

  12. Lois says:

    I liked Jeff’s NYT puzzle a lot in the end, but it was one of the toughest Thursdays ever for me. I couldn’t even find a place to begin. I started with Rapa Nui, which I don’t even really know. One or two of Will’s test solvers might have been like me, and so he used it for a Thursday. I’m really glad it wasn’t placed earlier in the week.

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