Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NYT 5:37 (pannonica, with bandaged fingertips) 
LAT 4:12 (Gareth) 
Tausig untimed 

Clive Probert’s New York Times crossword

NYT • 4/23/13 • Wed • 4 23 • solution

No revealer for this one, but it’s fairly easy to INFER (20a) what connects the relevant fill.

  • 18a. [Some cruise ships, informally] LOVE BOATS.
  • 23a. [Start of a song with the cry “Yo-ho-ho”] FIFTEEN MEN on a dead man’s chest.
  • 34a. [Ken Olin series about baby boomers] THIRTYSOMETHING.
  • 50a. [One who hoped things would pan out?] FORTY-NINER. Cute clue.
  • 57a. [“You lose!”] GAME’S OVER.

Together, they form the sequence of scoring in tennis. More specifically, a game (rather than a set or match) of tennis. The grid lacks the crossword staples AD IN and AD OUT, nor does DEUCE appear. Those last two are both five letters long and could make a nice bonus pair, perhaps running vertically, but that would uncomfortably leave AD IN out in the cold, not to mention disrupt the sequence. So all in all, it’s better as presented.

Low CAP Quotient™ (though a few too many abbrevs. for my liking) and a well-integrated grid makes for a smooth solve. Here’s a bit more in the way of run-down (in the write-up):

  • Trickiest crossing, and the last square I filled in: 30a [Russian city, host of the 2014 –Winter Olympics SOHI, 31d [Astronomical red giant] –STAR. Missing letter was C.
  • Least expected but pleasantly surprising clue (for this correspondent): 1d [Spotted rodent] PACA.
  • Very large 3×4 el-blocks are a bit distracting.
  • A bit relatedly, I liked the double-eights running vertically in the southwest and northeast (HERITAGE, IRISHMEN, TÉA LEONI, the appropriately archaic (as per the clue) ATTEND ON) but felt a bit unjustifiably disappointed by the black square in each section preventing triple-stacks.
  • Spiffy SAHL/DAHL meetup in the southeast, which complements the letter pattern of the less flashy PACA/PACT in the northwest.
  • 20a ALLO ALLO is also the name of a vintage Brit-com set in occupied WWII France, though it had leading apostrophes. Does the French phrase have them too?
  • Information I never knew: 52d [Belgian city sometimes mispronounced as “wipers”] YPRES. Really? Do people think the Y is a V? Or at least easily replaced by one? Edit (some minutes later): never mind, I was getting a bit German there, I guess.
  • 26d [China’s __ Xiaoping] DENG.
  • Oh! I got caught up—and subsequently entangled—in the Greek and Roman mythologies thinking about 47d [Sister (and occasional rival) of Venus] SERENA, specifically Selene. This I suppose counts as bonus tennis content.

Good puzzle with a few entries that seem beyond a typical Wednesday crossword, specifically PACA, ELENI, SOCHI/C-STAR

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Caginess”

Ink Well crossword solution, 4 24 13 “Caginess”

Read that “Caginess” title as “K-G-ness” because each theme entry began life with a K that Ben has changed to a G:

  • 17a. [Collaborative website for Lady Gaga and RuPaul?], WIGIPEDIA. You could probably also toss Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj into this clue. (Except, of course, that MINAJ is at 31a.)
  • 24a. [Emulate an angry chimp?], SLAM DUNG.
  • 35a. [Kid’s lunch food tainted by kickbacks and cronyism?], GRAFT MACARONI. I like to pretend I’m on The Sopranos and call macaroni “magarone.” What? If manicotti is “manigot,” I think it works.
  • 48a. [Growth on the entrance to an abandoned castle?], GATE MOSS.
  • 57a. [Hustler content?], BANG SHOTS.

Did not know 21a. [Leftist writer Ali], TARIQ. Read about Tariq Ali here. Also did not know 46d. [Greek sea goddess], THETIS. Not one of my top 5 Greek goddesses.


  • 40a. [Nickname for infielder Ernie Banks, who stayed with one team for eighteen years], MR. CUB. Here’s his statue near the Wrigley Field box office.
  • 51a. [Astronomer Brahe who wore a fake nose], TYCHO. Yes! A metal nose. Because he lost his flesh one.
  • 3d. [“Let’s do it!”], I’M GAME.
  • 4d. [Parker, part of the time], SPIDER-MAN. Yes. When I’m having trouble getting into a parking spot, I sling a web to lift my car up and gently put it down between two other cars.
  • ICE QUEEN, HOBBY SHOP, RENT-A-COP, KEISTER, SMARM, and ST. JAMES Place are also nice fill.

Four stars.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

“LA Times crossword solution, 24 04 13”

Another anagram-type puzzle today from Ed Sessa. I played a lot of CRAZYEIGHTS as a kid, but never drew the connection to UNO until much later. Anyway, CRAZY = anagram here, but EIGHT doesn’t anagram to anything meaningful I hear you say! Ah, Dr. Sessa has cunningly found a way around this problem by spreading the letters across two words. Here are the theme answers with the part that anagrams to EIGHT in red:

  • [Michael Jackson memorabilia], WHITE GLOVES
  • [Line-drawing tool], STRAIGHT EDGE. I think that’s American-ese for a ruler.
  • [Conversational skill], THE GIFT OF GAB

The best long non-theme answers for me were [“Don’t sweat it”] NOBIGDEAL and [Night-night clothes?] JAMMIES. TIMEWARPS is interesting, I think of the singular dance before phenomena that I assume has been mentioned in sci-fi (PlotkinD? Some help?). There’s not a lot of dreck and the clueing was pretty spot-on, although [Cold War concerns] felt a bit, I dunno, awkward?

Solid. Four stars.


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17 Responses to Wednesday, April 24, 2013

  1. Mike Hawkins says:

    I do like the clue for it, but wouldn’t FORTYNINER be better as FORTYWINKS to avoid non-theme numbers within the theme answer?

    • Evad says:

      For a similar reason, I’d prefer GAME NIGHT over GAME’S OVER, since the entire phrase refers to the end of a game and there’s that nasty possessive there.

      Happy Birthday to the xword quartet of PuzzleGirl, Byron Walden, Amy’s son Ben and me! :)

      • huda says:

        Yeah, GAME NIGHT sounds like a better choice. And good point re avoiding an irrelevant number!

        Happy Birthday to all! My brothers’ is tomorrow. Seems like a fertile week.

      • pannonica says:

        Not a possessive, Evad, but a contraction that in its entirety caps the theme quite well. The downside is the pluralled LOVE BOATS.

        Good point about NINER.

        • Evad says:

          True, but why have one entry be considered in total unless it’s clued as a revealer?

          • pannonica says:

            (1) Must it be clued explicitly as a revealer?
            (2) “Game” is not like the others anyway, it isn’t a score you’d see.

            Just throwing those out there.

          • Evad says:

            I think the traditional sequence is love, 15, 30, 40, game, so that’s where I was coming from.

            Anyway, it’s really fine either way you interpret that last entry!

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Somehow, it felt scattered, but I can’t put my finger on it. I appreciate a Hooker but may be a bit more of a thematic atmosphere would have been good beyond the Venus/SERENA connection? There were a ton of people and locations in this puzzle, may be another tennis reference would have created a bit of an ambiance.

    The clue for YPRES was baffling, but I get it in retrospect. Cute. That SOCHI/ CSTAR intersection was a total mystery to me.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Ypres was, of course, the site of several important WWI battles, and it was notoriously pronounced “wipers” by American GI’s. I’m led to believe that the Flemish-Dutch pronunciation actually has a vowel sound close to the English ‘eye’ (and is spelled differently in Flemish), but I don’t know that for a fact.

    Sochi is a major Black Sea resort for former Communist party oligarchs, and modern rich Muscovites. I never made it there, (not rich enough, I guess), but I am told that it is an endless, sprawling resort megalopolis along the water, with huge ultra expensive modern hotels, coexisting with ticky tack establishments, analogous to the French Riviera, Cote d’Azur. (My line about the Cote d’Azur is “I remember it when it was the sort of place one went to to escape from the sort of place it is now.) I spent a wonderful couple months at a summer camp in the (then) sleepy little village of Hyeres, near Toulon, at age 9, in the 50’s, which is bascially how and where I became fluent in French, since there were no English language crutches. Fond memories.

  4. Gareth says:

    PACA was a nice gimme at 1D to start things off… Waiting for someone to drop VISCACHA into a themeless: I’m ready for you! Don’t understand GAMESOVER. Only ever heard and seen GAMEOVER. And since when does GAMES come after 40 anyway? Otherwise, it had nice theme answer and some nice longer answers…

  5. Victor Barocas says:

    So, the NYT felt like a re-run, so I looked it up, and a very similar theme (LOVETRIANGLE, FIFTEENMILES, THIRTYSOMETHING, FORTYTHIEVES, GAMESETMATCH) on 4/18/2011. This raises the question of statute of limitations on reusing a theme. I would like the guideline to be “If I remember it, it’s too soon,” but that’s a bit vague. Two years doesn’t seem like that long, but it is over 700 puzzles ago, and if you asked me to write 700 puzzles, I would surely repeat something, and theme types repeat all the time. So, I would be interested to read what people think about the question of when is too soon to re-use a theme.

    Best to all,
    – VB

    • huda says:

      It sounded familiar to me too. For some people, who do numerous puzzles a day, it’s probably thousands of puzzles ago. So, the question may be how long a theme sticks in memory. But I think the other question is how distinctive it is. There are genres (e.g. add a letter, or vowel progression), there are broad themes (e.g. baseball or yiddish words) where there is still quite a bit of leeway, and then there are highly circumscribed themes. This one is not about tennis in general, but about scoring in tennis, and there is no other distinctive dimension to the theme, so I would say the overlap is too high to repeat so soon. May be no repetition should be allowed for, say, 4-5 years?

  6. cyberdiva says:

    Gareth, I think we’re to understand “the game is over,” or GAME’S OVER

  7. Jenni says:

    Ugh. Ugh. That SOCHI/C-STAR crossing – ugh. Nothing in the puzzle was good enough to redeem that.

    I don’t think I’m unusually cranky, but this has not been a good week for puzzles.

  8. Jeff Chen says:

    SLAM DUNG! Almost did a spittake, hilarious.

  9. derek says:

    Please advise as to why the Washington Post crossword is no longer solved here???

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