Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NYT 3:11 
Tausig untimed 
LAT 4:27 (Gareth) 

Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 4 10 13, #0410

To fit in a fifth sixth famous movie quote, Julian adds another row in the middle. Here’s the theme:

  • 11a. [Movie org. that created a top-100 list from which all of this puzzle’s quotes come], AFI. American Film Institute.
  • 17a. [Memorable movie line spoken by … Jack Nicholson], HERE’S JOHNNY. In The Shining. See also: “You can’t handle the truth.”
  • 22a. [… Haley Joel Osment], I SEE DEAD PEOPLE. In The Sixth Sense. This line was just riffed on in the Jonesin’ puzzle yesterday. You know how often the kid saw dead people, right? Can you say “all the time” in his spooky whisper? I can.
  • 37a. [… Renée Zellweger], YOU HAD ME AT “HELLO.” In Jerry Maguire.
  • 40a. [… Marlon Brando], STELLA. HEY, STELLA! In A Streetcar Named Desire.
  • 46a. [… Greta Garbo], I WANT TO BE ALONE. I couldn’t tell you the movie title without Googling this. Anyone else leave the W blank, not sure if it was going to be a V?
  • 58a. [… Debra Winger (heard but not seen)], E.T., PHONE HOME. In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. I forgot who did the voice of E.T.

This seems like a John Farmer theme. John! Julian stole a nifty movie trivia theme right out from under you. It makes for a fun Tuesday Wednesday puzzle, doesn’t it? So many Tuesdays are snoozy, and this one crackles with movie fun. (Because it’s a Wednesday.)

Five things:

  • 14a. [Item in a squirrel’s hoard], ACORN. Did you know that this week is Squirrel Week 2013 at the Washington Post? Me, I don’t trust those varmints. You chew through my screen door to poop in my dining room, and I won’t trust you, either.
  • 27a. [Aromatherapist’s supply], OIL. I don’t know about aromatherapy, but I will say that peppermint essential oil makes for a decent topical headache remedy.
  • 3d. [Hammerfest’s locale: Abbr.], NOR. Whuh? The Hammerfest in Norway is a municipality with fewer than 10,000 people or the 7,100-person town within it. The Hammerfest in Wales is a heavy metal music festival. Will Shortz, I am sure, regrets any confusion.
  • 49d. [Baked, so to speak], ON POT. Do people say that, “on pot”? Or do they say baked/high/stoned/etc.?
  • 54d. [Milo of “The Verdict”], O’SHEA. He died last week.

Four stars from me. The puzzle does have a bit of an introduction to random crosswordese-type words: Consider MOA, ROANS, DAVIT, and AAR. But the movie quotes were entertaining and distracted me from any unshiny bits.

Peter A. Collins’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review

“LA Times crossword solution, 10 04 13”

Peter Collins gives us a solid, dense early-week theme. I spotted it after the circles of the first answer PIANOSONATA revealed a PITA. From then on I knew each circle was going to have a kind of bread RAISESCAIN has RAISIN; COFFEEURN, CORN; FREELUNCH, FRENCH; and WHEREITSAT, WHEAT. It could be considered inconsistent that RAISIN and FRENCH breads are a subset of WHEAT, but that’s petty and all the theme answers are fun so who cares?! Although it seems obvious now, I hadn’t sussed that a revealer would be BREAKSBREAD until I got to it… Not every place this puzzle is publishes runs circles, I imagine the theme was a little more subtle without them!

As I said, this puzzle has a dense theme, like many of Peter Collins’ puzzles do. I think with some of his NYT puzzles there have been suggestions of this theme density leading to overly subpar fill. Today’s fill is solid, not too much splash (that’s elsewhere). There’s the sustained objection to IRANI, which has precedent sadly, and not much else in the negative column.

In the miscellaneous colum, I liked the clue for FLORA, [Apt name for a woman with a green thumb?]; it’s a common enough clueing trope: lawyer/SUE, woodsman/HUGH etc. but I hadn’t seen that one before! Also like the [,man] at the end of WHEREITSAT‘s clue, as it tied it to the “Like a Rolling Stone” era. Probably not of interest to anyone else, but I learned ESSO from crosswords and always assumed it never existed in South Africa, but I saw a sticker on an old toolbox… Those stations apparently became Zenexes and Engens in the 80’s… [He bested Alexander in 1804] was my mystery clue of the day. Apparently it refers to this.

I’ll give this one four stars. What you expect from an early week puzzle!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Triple Features”

Ink Well crossword solution, 4 10 13 “Triple Features”

Ben bundles three movie trilogies in each theme answer:

  • 17a, 34a. [With 34-Across, petulant dynast of Rebecca Black’s empire?], FRIDAY GODFATHER / PROBLEM CHILD. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the Problem Child movies, and I’ve seen either two or all three of the Friday and Godfather films.
  • 37a, 50a. [With 50-Across, renegades working for a network of backpacking lodges?], HOSTEL MATRIX BAD BOYS. Zero Hostel, two Matrix, zero Bad Boys.
  • 57a. [Weapon recovered from a preserved body at Area 51?], ALIEN MUMMY BLADE. A couple Alien movies, no Mummy, inattentive viewing of the Blade movies while my husband watched them on TV.
  • 27a. [Each of the titles in this puzzle’s theme answers, e.g.], TRILOGY.

This might be Ben’s most numerological puzzle to date. Three triads of trilogies? I think that totals 27. Or, with the puzzle’s title, 81.

Nine more things:

  • 36a. [Leader who was born in Burma and who died in Myanmar], U NU. Leave it to Ben to be hip to Southeast Asia.
  • 49a. [Game that required the Zapper], DUCK HUNT. No idea.
  • 66a. [“I can have this?”], FOR ME? Said in the presence of unexpected chocolate.
  • 3d. [Twice, Chinese dissident artist Ai’s given name], WEI. Kind of a cheat as entries go. Ai Weiwei, or 艾未未.
  • 8d. [One may help you clean up your junk], BIDET. Not junk of the hoarding variety.
  • 28d. [Tech school for crossword champ Tyler Hinman], RPI. I enjoyed this video in which Tyler races a guy named Alex on a BEQ “Themeless Monday,” but Tyler’s computer has been instructed to backwardsify the cursor movement so that he has to enter the answers backwards. You know exactly how this ends, right?
  • 38d. [Musician who’s probably going to end up in your grid when you’ve got 33 3-letter words], ONO. Mm-hmm.
  • 58d. [Org. where Dallas is in the East and St. Louis is in the West, for some reason], NFC. My kid thought it was strange that Dallas was East and Houston was South, and then I blew his mind with the STL/DAL thing.
  • 59d. [Remark while on grass?], MOO. What? You thought this was a drug thing? No.

Four stars. I like the nestedness of the three-three-three theme, as well as the range of movies included.

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27 Responses to Wednesday, April 10, 2013

  1. john farmer says:

    That’s a lot of theme, even with the extra row, and certainly a puzzle up my alley (thievery, though, is overstating it). Excellent work, Julian. A good selection of movie lines, and the clue on the E.T. quote was a surprise (if I ever knew it I can’t remember).

    The Garbo line is from “Grand Hotel,” a classic from the early ’30s, and famously the line became more associated with the actress than just her character. In the words of Ray Davies:

    Don’t step on Greta Garbo as you walk down the Boulevard
    She looks so weak and fragile that’s why she tried to be so hard
    But they turned her into a princess
    And they sat her on a throne
    But she turned her back on stardom
    Because she wanted to be alone

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Hammerfest Norway is an incredibly beautiful, spectacular island town, far north of the Arctic Circle, and a major tourist draw during midnight sun season (which lasts quite a while that far north.) Perhaps the northernmost tourist locale in the world. Some heavy metal festival in Wales I haven’t the foggiest idea about. Amy, I hope you won’t take this amiss, and I don’t mean it in an unkind, obnoxious way, but I often wonder who gets to determine what one is and is not expected to know. One is “not expected to know” the Egadi Islands. OK. Furthermore, someone’s delicate sensibilities may be hurt if they get the impression that they *are* expected to know them. Well, I’ve never been there, (though I have to Hammerfest), but they are perfectly familiar and I know their reputation as attractive, out of the way Mediterranean islands where one can spend some pleasant, unstressed time. When I think about all the stuff that I apparently *am* expected to know, but don’t, it’s almost as if one is being chided both for *not* knowing the things one is expected to know AND for *knowing* the things one is not expected to know. Of course I don’t mean that literally and hope it comes across a bit whimsically; it’s just my continual frustration at how wildly out of sync I am with the crossword puzzle world.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Bruce, I didn’t know either Hammerfest! I found them both via a Google search. I don’t think we’re expected to know either one.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Amy, I’m sorry if I misinterpreted you, and I fear my remarks may have come across as ill-tempered towards you, despite my attempts to dispel that, and if so, I apologize.

        The idea of an established “canon” in various arenas of human enterprise is an interesting one, from Harold Bloom’s notorious “cultural canon” or “Western canon” on down. To call Prof. Bloom’s writings pompous and pretentious is a bit like calling the Grand Canyon a big hole in the ground, yet to me, there is still something satisfying and reassuring about the substance he offers.

  3. john farmer says:

    Good points, Bruce. Hammerfest is new to me, but when I see something like that in a puzzle I figure that someone knows it for whatever reason, and though in this case it’s not the most Scandinavian of names it sounded Northern European enough to confirm I had the right answer. It served its purpose. EGADI was in the grid, a somewhat higher threshold; not the kind of fill you try to include (go with EGADS, if it works), but if you do use it you make the crossings clear.

    I don’t expect to know everything in a puzzle. I do think a puzzle ought to be solvable. If there’s something I don’t know I am happy to learn it, and if there’s some value or interest in the new stuff, all the better.

  4. Huda says:

    I did this thing again where I went to rate the NYT and bumped my iPad so it gave it 3 star. I really did want to give it 4 stars. What to do?
    I thought it was a real fun puzzle, a mix of old and new and even the stuff I didn’t know just revealed itself. Didn’t know who called to ET, either…

    But is it on the easy side for a Wednesday? It’s for a Wednesday, right?

  5. Ethan says:

    It is a Wednesday, also there are six movie quotes, not five.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I appreciate your volunteer fact-checking efforts, Ethan. Would you believe I put those both in there as a test for readers? …No?

  6. JohnV says:

    Much preferred Peter Collins’ offering over the Times puz, which I really disliked. (Rant available elsewhere.)

    OT, but is there a way to disable the LAT marking wrong letter in red? Makes it too easy, IMHO.


    • Gareth says:

      Either solve the version available at or choose “Expert” mode (may be called something different but similar depending on which applet you use).

  7. Gareth says:

    What other people said… Nicely constructed, nice selection of quotes. It did feel like a Tuesday not a Wednesday (4:00, but with an extra row). I learned Hammerfest a few days ago from the preshortzian puzzle blog. It was an answer in a Maleska era puzzle. Tough as an answer, but even without knowing it, it does sound Scandinavian. There’s a lot more wiggle-room with clues to include tougher trivia if it’s inferrable.

  8. Matt says:

    Don’t know if it was intentional, but I found the inclusion of WALL-E amusing, considering that the movie has almost no dialog. Kind of an anti-theme entry.

  9. Zulema says:

    Who is Walle, what is he? to paraphrase Shakespeare.

    BRUCE, agree totally, but I stopped worrying about this some time ago. It is not my loss. Many of my friends who used to solve the puzzle in the recently renamed IHT no longer do so, however.

    • Papa John says:

      Wall-e is a charming animated, trash-collecting robot that has perpetual job security because the Earth has become one huge garbage dump. Wall-e falls in love with an equaling charming girl robot, named Eve, who he follows into space and, in so doing, changes the destiny of mankind.

      Which part of Bruce’s lengthy post do you agree with? What’s IHT?

  10. Rob says:

    There does not seem to be a consensus that Winger was the voice of ET or, if ET was voiced by Winger and others, DW voiced that particular line. IMDB isn’t clear on this.

  11. JohnV says:

    Thanks, Gareth.

  12. Crossword Rush says:

    If anyone is interested in cleverly themed, hand constructed American style crosswords, Crossword Rush is now a free app in the Android play store.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I feel … spammed. You can’t just drop an app link in a place like this without specifying who is constructing and editing these puzzles. “American-style crosswords” is nowhere near specific enough for this crowd.

  13. Matt J. says:

    Oddly enough, I also used the AFI Top 100 movie quotes list as a basis for the quotes I used in yesterday’s puzzle.

  14. joon says:

    in the crossword race video, “a guy named alex” is constructor and sometime-fiend-commenter alex boisvert. i found the video to be an entertaining diversion. maybe next week they’ll simultaneously show tyler solving a crossword and alex doing discrete math.

    i really liked both julian’s NYT and pete’s LAT puzzle. (my version did not, in fact, have circles, and i was just fine with that.) hammerfest was new to me, but thanks, bruce, for the extra context. that’s the kind of “why is this worth knowing?” information that you can’t fit into a concise crossword clue.

    ben’s puzzle this week left me scratching my head. never heard of the FRIDAY, PROBLEM CHILD, or HOSTEL trilogies, and i had no idea there was more than one BAD BOYS.

  15. Marian says:

    Where’s the Washington Post puzzle?

  16. If anyone is interested in learning more about Hammerfest, here’s the link to a piece I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago on the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project website—there’s a cool photo too!

  17. Pat says:

    Where is the Washington Post Crossynergy crossword solution? I never see it anymore.

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