Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jonesin' 5:02 
NYT 3:35 
LAT 3:03 

Peter Broda’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 4 16 13 #0416

Despite the corners full of 7s, this grid ends up with a word count of 78. Looks like a Thursday grid but isn’t.

Peter—who has been known to comment here as “Bananarchy”—has more puzzles at his website. His style skews younger, which makes sense because he is young enough to have had a puzzle selected for the “20 Under 30” collection. Fill we might expect to see in the indie and alt-weekly puzzles pops up here. To wit: RED BULL, SEX SHOP, NEXT-GEN, and HELLA (which means [Very, slangily] in the patois of the Bay Area people). I IMAGINE that Will Shortz will hear from disgruntled solvers who feel that HELLA isn’t a word and a brand name like RED BULL isn’t worthy crossword fill, but I like what Peter’s done here.

The theme—did you think I’d forgotten?—is GO BELLY UP, which ties to four activities that when you do them, your back faces down and your belly faces up. The CRAB WALK, BACKSTROKE, LIMBO DANCE, and the HIGH JUMP. Terrific theme, with a lively phrase used to tie together four things in an unexpected way. A+ theme.

I liked seeing 13d: [Onetime catchphrase for athlete Jackson], BO KNOWS. Bo Jackson was one of the athletes at the Michelle Obama “Let’s Move” launch that was one of my kid’s recent school field trips. These days, I don’t think kids know “Bo knows” unless their parents make a point (as I did) of telling them.

Boo to plural DRACOS, 17a. [“Harry Potter” antagonist and namesakes]. C’mon, Broda, tell the truth. You still can’t believe Will accepted a grid with DRACOS in it, right? The theme was so crisp and fresh, what choice did he have?

I wonder if the constructor deliberately included [Common dog name] REX while also cluing ISH as [Suffix with fiend]. Playing to the critics?

Favorite bit: 27d, 33d. [With 33-Across, ixnay or amscray], PIG LATIN. Neat that ixnay and amscray share a certain dismissiveness.

4.25 stars. Keep ’em coming, Peter.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA TImes crossword answers, 4 16 13

Busy busy day, short short post.

Theme: Vowel-sound progression, long A to long E to long I to long O to long U (OO). TURNED PALE, LEMON PEEL, SLUSH PILE, TOTEM POLE, KIDDIE POOL.

Grid: Similar to the NYT, with open corners but a standard word count (76).

Fill: Good but not great. Liked HOT PINK and RAVIOLI the best. Surprised to see ADELE clued as [Fred’s dancing sister], given the number of decades (at least eight!) that have passed since her heyday and the wild popularity of the British singer Adele.

Three stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Freestylin'”

Jonesin’ crossword answers, 4 16 13 “Freestylin'”

Themeless Jonesin’ this week. Eighteen long (9-11 letters) answers is a lot, and then there’s the center section with a 5×7 block of open space. I like ESAI MORALES and TOMMY CHONG, GOOGLE MAPS and SADDLE BAGS, CREAM CHEESE frosting, EARL GREY TEA, HANG A LOUIE, ON THE BEACH, and GOT AROUND TO, but not all of the long answers were as good. RED DRESSES is a tad on the side of just being color + noun, plural DIPLOMACIES looks odd, and if [Willie Mays’ first wife] is our most famous MARGHERITE, then the name is tough to clue and not great in a crossword (though a Stumperesque name etymology clue could save it).
Fave clues:

  • 22a. [Celeb who tweeted about hemp oil for cancer treatment], TOMMY CHONG. Trust a marijuana fan to be pro-hemp.
  • 33a. [Acronym that triggered protest blackouts in 2012], SOPA. Internet blackouts, websites going voluntarily dark, not electrical blackouts.
  • 43a. [System where A = 4], LEET. See also: w00t, n00b, or leet spelled as 1337.

Did not know 8d. [Rapcore band ___ pe], HED. Newspaperpeople use “hed” for headline, no? Also did not know 24d. [MxPx vocalist Mike] HERRERA.

3.33 stars.

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28 Responses to Tuesday, April 16, 2013

  1. bananarchy says:

    Is is weird that I’m the first commenter?

    Anyway, this was actually one of the first puzzles I ever made, and, having largely forgotten about it, I cringed a little when I re-encountered DRACOS. I remember thinking it was sub-par fill even then, and I would never use it now, no matter how tricky the corner. As amazed as I am that Will accepted it, I’m more amazed that I even managed to come up with dreck like that as potential fill, let alone acceptable fill (it’s not even in my wordlist…). Thanks for being kind about it though…

    Oh, and there’s actually a trifecta of cruciblogger namedroppage in there, although DEB was the only one that was intentional (my original clue was [NYT crossword blogger Amlen] or something). Also, my original clue for ISH was also my favourite, and is somewhat related to fiends: [Hash tag?]

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words Amy!

    • Ethan says:

      Did you consider cluing DRACOS as “Harsh authoritarians” or something similar? I don’t have database access anymore, but I feel like I’ve seen plural SOLONS clued as “Judicious lawmakers” or something like that. DRACO is kind of the opposite of SOLON if I remember my Athenian history.

      • bananarchy says:

        My original clue was actually [Harry Potter’s nemesis and a harsh lawmaker of old] or something like that. Like Henry was saying below, I took the “2 good examples” approach rather than the “…and namesakes” approach. However, I do think “2 good examples” implies “2 good and related examples” such as [Cruciverbalists Berry and Blindauer] as opposed to [Spongebob’s starfish friend and actor Stewart] for PATRICKS, so I think Will was wise to change it.

  2. Martin says:

    OK, who would not think RED BULL (“It gives you wings”) is crosswordworthy? It’s been one of the most widely hyped products over the last few years. You’d have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of it.


    • pannonica says:

      No question about that, but I do feel that HELLA would have benefitted from a regional qualifier (I had thought it was West Coast/California but Amy mentions that it’s much more localized than that).

      Was unaware of the exercise thing CRAB WALK, and of course the high jump wasn’t “belly up” until Dick Fosbury came along in the late 1960s.

      • Daniel Myers says:

        In re HELLA – Only one of the citations for it in the OED – in its adverbial form as “Very” – is from California (Orange County). The first citation is from Toronto! But then, I am – or was – completely unfamiliar with the term. Perhaps it is more prevalent in the “Bay Area,” but it’s by no means exclusive to it.

        Alack, that DRACOS can’t be Latinate dragons! But the correct plural would be dracones.

    • Gareth says:

      The people who would clue OREO as “Mountain (suffix)”?

  3. HH says:

    Just asking, re 17-Across … Rather than a clue ending […and namesakes] or […et al.], would anyone prefer a clue starting [Belonging to…]?

    • bananarchy says:

      Any time a name+s presents itself as a fill option, I always do a quick check (with fingers crossed) to see if it works as an in-the-language possessive (as in “NATHANS hotdogs” or “VERNS pizza”), and if it doesn’t I’ll most often discard it or fall back on the […and namesakes] approach. To be honest, though, as a solver I wouldn’t really care which approach were used; the meat of the clue is the same. The constructor in me has been indoctrinated to believe that stuff like that is terrible fill, but I’ll usually just fill it in and move on when solving.

      • HH says:

        Rather than […and namesakes/…and others/…et al.] I would hope there were two good examples.
        My only exception that I recall was years ago, when stacked theme answers forced me to come up with a 5-letter combination ending with XS. Due to other constraints, I eventually had to use [Belonging to Mr. Trebek], with apparently no complaints.

        • Lois says:

          That situation is a little different, because “Alex” would require an “es” for a plural, and the possessive is needed. Another difference is that with “Alex” the plural is far more readily conceived of, and that aspect of it would not require a possessive. This time, it’s the unusual name that would make the possessive preferable.

          • HH says:

            My point was, that’s the only time I used a possessive (because I had to). But I’m wondering why we don’t see them more often, as alternatives to plurals.

  4. Gareth says:

    Such a wonderfully clever theme! Plus edgy fill!

  5. Evad says:

    In total agreement with the praise for this one. Excellent theme and fresh fill. Bo Knows a good puzzle when he sees it!

    I remember an ancient thread on this blog about HELLA–I sorta remember Martin H. and Dan F. defending it, but this east-coaster had nevva heard of it.

  6. Martin says:

    “I remember an ancient thread on this blog about HELLA–I sorta remember Martin H. and Dan F. defending it, but this east-coaster had nevva heard of it.”

    In one of my CrosSynergy puzzles, I think.


  7. Angela Osborne says:

    7 down – ICOSA – what does that mean? Can’t find it in the dictionary.

  8. Martin says:

    I see “Team Canada” has made three appearances in the NYT over the last week.

    Congrats on your debut, Peter :)

    The invasion has begun ;)


  9. Martin says:

    Yes, Vancouver Island… in Victoria. Same place as Jeffrey.

    Steve Blais (Ontario) had last Tuesday’s NYT.


    • bananarchy says:

      Oh nice, and another debut too. Congrats to Steve on that.

      Now we just need a good Canadian crossword publisher. There are of course a handful of novelty “Canadian Crossword” books, but I think most papers here just license content from Universal Features or NYT or whatever. Think of how much easier Qs would be to work into a grid with all those extra Us in COLOUR, HONOUR, etc…

      • Gareth says:

        No! I’ve made puzzles with Commonwealth spelling. Those extra u’s are extremely unhelpful! I seem to remember clues like “Seattle stench” appearing because damnit ODOR is holding up half the grid!

        • bananarchy says:

          The Q thing was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I’ll take your word for it. I suppose you’d lose a lot of vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant (or @#@# for all you onelookers out there) endings if you needed to have the -OUR in there.

          I was also thinking it would be nice to be able to drop Canadian pop culture, politics, sports, etc. in a grid, but by the same token if you also couldn’t use American names you’d be no better off.

          Don’t mind me though, I’m just bitter because I have to know what AFL means but couldn’t get away with dropping WHL in a grid.

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Has anyone heard from wij? He’s a distance rnnner; lives in Boston (I think) and has run the Marathon (I think).

  11. Matt J. says:

    Re RED DRESSES: I thought it may be on a par with “black dress” or “little black dress”, as in fashion magazines giving advice on how to pull off wearing a red dress, etc.

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