Tuesday, May 28, 2013

LAT 3:11 
NYT 3:09 
Jonesin' 4:24 
CS 12:17 (!) (Dave) 

Dan Feyer’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 28 13, no. 0528

This is Dan’s third published NYT crossword. Don’t miss Dan’s behind-the-scenes blog post about the puzzle’s development. Not only can Dan solve crosswords in his sleep, he can also come up with theme ideas then. This one is add-GE-and-clue-accordingly:

  • 17a. Garbage scow that docked with Mir?], SPACE BARGE.
  • 20a. Swapping out Sheen for Rose?], CHARLIE CHANGE. A move for the better, surely.
  • 35a. Boy Scout’s reward for karate expertise?], BREAKING BADGE.
  • 54a. Caveman’s injury after discovering fire?], ORIGINAL SINGE.
  • 59a. Feeling when one’s voodoo doll is poked?], EVIL TWINGE. Nice one!


  • 32a. [“What Do You Do With ___ in English?” (“Avenue Q” song)], A B.A. My dad had that exact question, or perhaps “What kind of job can you get with an English degree?” The answer is go into publishing, editing, writing, that sort of thing. DUH!
  • The part MAORI singer KIRI Te Kanawa gives us a nifty answer combo, no?
  • TOP GUN, BREWSKI, pretty GARDENIA, I BLEW IT, the HEPCAT/ZOOT suit combo—also fill I appreciated.
  • 51d. [Like a schlimazel], INEPT. Who doesn’t love Yiddish, I ask you?

ORACULAR doesn’t feel particularly Tuesdayish, and the sheer number of proper nouns (about 20) might make this puzzle a mite more challenging than the usual Tuesday puzzle. How’d it treat you?

3.75 stars.

Steve Blais’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 28 13

I like the theme here, though it would’ve been fun to do without a revealer answer—maybe get actor EDWARD FURLONG into the game. 60a: [From afar, and how 18-, 29-, 37- and 46-Across literally end] clues AT A DISTANCE, and that doesn’t quite jell grammatically, does it? The other four theme answers end with units of distance:

  • 18a. [Eschew punishment, in an old saw], SPARE THE ROD. One rod is 5 1/2 yards.
  • 29a. [Really puzzling], HARD TO FATHOM. One fathom equals 6 feet.
  • 37a. [“Toy Story” space ranger], BUZZ LIGHTYEAR. One light year is almost 6 trillion miles.
  • 46a. [Athletics group for kids], PEE WEE LEAGUE. One league is about 3 miles.

In the fill, AY CARAMBA is fun, although perhaps a bit dated. (Bart stopped saying that, didn’t he? It went the way of “eat my shorts” and “cowabunga”?) Much of the other fill, however, definitely moved the needle on the Scowl-o-Meter. APACE isn’t terrible, but it comes right after AROAR. Then there’s ERN, ESTER, EEN, severed OOM and PAH, ENTO, CEN, OPE, A TO, and A LAW.

Three stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “That’s a Switch!” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Ouch! This puzzle took me to the cleaners with lots of gnarly clues and difficult crossings. But first to Bob Klahn’s tribute to the Reverend Spooner:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 05/28/13

  • [Crowd’s crumb?] alliteratively (see below) clues LOUSE OF THE HORDE (“House of the Lord”)
  • [Fame fancier’s family?] alliteratively (see below) clues CLAN OF THE MOTH (“Man of the Cloth”) After this one, I wondered (1) would they all have alliterative clues (yes), (2) were they all religious references (no) and (3) were they all in the “x OF THE y” form (yes, thank goodness to help get toeholds in other sections!)
  • [Combo’s cabbie?] is HACK OF THE BAND (“Back of the Hand”) there aren’t any religious allegories about someone slapping someone is there?
  • [Milliner’s mall unit] is MART OF THE HATTER (“Heart of the Matter”) probably my favorite of the bunch.

With so many alliterative clues in this one, I began to lose a bit of patience, even though it’s a master stroke. Spice in puzzle cluing is a treat, but only when used in moderation and not when it calls so much attention to itself. I did enjoy the paired clues, for instance the crossing JOE and JAVA shared just one clue at 23-Across: [Beanery brew] (alliteration alert!) But my FAVE pairing were [Main squeeze] for BEAU and [Main squeeze’s squeeze] for HUG. My UNFAVE entry was the [Sudoku’s cross-sum relative] or KAKURO – something I’ve never heard of.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Quiet People”

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 5 28 13 “The Quiet People”

If you add a “sh” sound to the beginning of some words, you turn them into people’s names. Here, Matt changes the first word of three phrases (adjusting the spelling as needed) and clues the resulting oddball phrase:

  • 17a. [Quiet person with a Scottish accent?], SHARON BURR. Sh + Aaron Burr, Scottish burr, random Sharon.
  • 40a. [Quiet person who oversees new family additions?], SHIRLEY ADOPTERS. Sh + early adopters. This one is jarring because let’s say you had someone named Shirley who was in charge of adoptions—would you call her Shirley Adopter or Adopters? That final S isn’t working for me.
  • 64a. [Quiet person who moderates debates?], SHAWN TOPIC. Sh + on topic. I find this one jarring too, as I pronounce on as “ahn” and not “awn.” (Dictionary lists both pronunciations.)


  • Favorite clue: 54a. [Secret place?], ARMPIT. Secret antiperspirant.
  • Did not know: 24d. [Liqueur from the Basque country], IZARRA.
  • Freshest fill: 12d. [Site with the slogan “Film. Biz. Fans.”], INDIEWIRE.
  • Random German word: 10d. [Color in Cologne], GRAU. It means gray. How many of you get tricked by Cologne sounding more French than German? The Germans call the city Köln.

I like the southwest’s triple stack of 9s (AS YOU WERE, THE X-FILES, PIANO DUET), but not its lesser crossings AT PAR, ELUL, and ESTE. Not overly enthused about the bulk of the fill, actually. And the theme doesn’t quite win me over, so I’m calling it 2.75 stars.

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58 Responses to Tuesday, May 28, 2013

  1. Sarah says:

    Exact opposite. Found the theme unimaginative, the fill disgusting (at least 8 Naticks) and the “GOOD” clue referencing EGBDF is nothing short of wrong.

    EGBDF represents the letters of the staff – many mnemonics have been made to help memorize it. The most common ones do include the word “GOOD”, but there are thousands out there that don’t, including “Elephants Go Bouncing Down Freeways”, which I have heard more than once. None have been officially designated as being correct, so the clue is inaccurate.

    Did we really run out of good clues for “GOOD”?

    Easily the worst Tuesday to date.

    • Sarah says:

      Appears the Good clue wasn’t written by the constructor. *Good* to know!

    • Dan F says:

      hey, I’ll defend the clue anyway!
      There’s more than one possible answer to some clues. GARDENIA isn’t the only “fragrant white flower”, and GOOD isn’t the only “G” in that mnemonic. (You’d have to agree that “Every Good Boy Does Fine” is the best known one…?) Sorry you were so disturbed by the vocabulary in the puzzle! (and too many proper names, I freely admit)

      • Sarah says:

        Never heard “Every Good Boy Does Fine” before actually.

        I guess the problem I find with it lies in that the answer could literally be anything (any 4-letter word starting with G), and the answer is not completely mainstream. Perhaps not fatal, but I’m sure a better clue could have been found. (:

      • Gareth says:

        Never heard fine. I know it as “deserves fudge?”

        Now if I’d just scrolled down a bit more…

      • Martin says:

        I feel bad for the poor spaces. FACE is so quietly elegant that there are no alternatives. Those boisterous lines get all the attention, the praise, the favor, the fudge. The spaces just watch.

  2. ktd says:

    I will leave comments to other solvers on how the puzzle treated them–I will just say that this puzzle was a treat to solve!

  3. Martin says:

    “… the fill disgusting (at least 8 Naticks) and the “GOOD” clue referencing EGBDF is nothing short of wrong”

    Either the puzzle was “disgusting”, or maybe the puzzle was too hard for you (at least for today)?

    It may come as a surprise, but my fist reaction, after finishing Dan’s puzzle was: “Bravo!”


    • Sarah says:

      Disgusting or too hard? Well, let’s see…MAORI/ARP/ARRID, SOONYI/ZOOT/YUL, HAI/TSAR, ABA/ROBB, DOR/ERGO, STYE/ERNST/SEAVER, ECKO/THICKE, ANWAR/ANIMA..nope, disgusting.

      • Mark says:

        Each cross you reference is either an outright gimme or easily inferred. And “disgusting” is a word best reserved for…well, things that are actually disgusting, rather than a relatively easy and well constructed NYT crossword puzzle.

        • Sarah says:

          It’s not easily inferred…none of it is…the only one you could even infer is “A BA”….the rest could literally be everything.

          I’m not opposed to second-rate actors/authors/television shows being mentioned in crosswords…but you need *FAIR CROSSINGS*

          • RK says:

            I support Sarah in her right to feel the way she does and to vent.

          • Karen says:

            And the square I couldn’t get was the ROBB/ABA crossing; I thought ‘what could you do with an A in English?’ and then in Sesame Street style spelling out apple, airplane, et alia.
            Different strokes for different solvers.

          • Neville says:

            Karen, if you’re referencing that Gary Coleman (of TV’s “Diff’rent Strokes”) is a character in “Avenue Q” and that Alan Thicke wrote the theme song to “Diff’rent Strokes,” then you have won the day. The whole day!

        • loren smith says:

          Sarah – the only cross you cited that made me pause was ROBB/ABA – the rest went in with no thought and very easily! I enjoyed this one!

      • Bencoe says:

        There are many words there any crossword solver should know. Maori, c’mon. Arp and Ernst, ever been to a museum? Tsar, important history no matter how you spell it. Ergo people use in conversation. Stye is a common medical condition. Anwar Sadat is important history. Yul Brynner and zoot suits are famous enough, that even though they’re before my time, I’ve heard them a hundred times over. Anima is an important concept, too.

      • Gary R says:


        I don’t know how old you are or how well-educated, how widely-traveled, or how well-read. I’m in my 50’s, reasonably well-educated and have traveled probably more than the average bear (and I’ve been doing NYT crosswords, at least occasionally, for 7 or 8 years).

        The only answers that were unfamiliar to me were 7D (KIRI) and 32A (A B.A.) – the former probably a gap in my education and the latter inferable (with a smile – I was not an English major). ORACULAR is a form I haven’t seen before, but I was pretty sure what root I was working from. ERNST Max I think I know mainly from working crosswords. The rest are words/names I’ve encountered and recall from everyday life.

        The reason I work the Times crosswords is to challenge myself – sometimes it’s my memory, sometimes my knowledge, sometimes my ability to think creatively (the ? clues).

        This puzzle was certainly not disgusting. Probably harder than the average Tuesday NYT, but not out of bounds.

  4. Huda says:

    I started off thinking it was going to be a variation on the Vowel-NGE motif, as I had INGE and ANGE. Then realized that was wrong and really enjoyed the moment of discovering the theme. Favorite entries were ORIGINAL SINGE and EVIL TWINGE. I like them in combination with each other, both for the atmosphere they evoke and for rhyming– a poetic hell.

    I appreciated the puzzle in spite of the fact that it had too many proper nouns for me… I should really commit SOONYI to memory, although something about that story makes me want to forget it. SEAVER and THICKE are a blast from the past. But the musical and cultural overtones were entertaining and apt.

    May be this would have been run on a Wednesday? My Quick & Dirty Index puts it on the challenging side, but this index is based on the number of early returns and this can be distorted on a holiday…

  5. Martin says:

    “Disgusting or too hard? Well, let’s see…MAORI… nope, disgusting.”

    MAORI? Well OK then.



  6. Richard Caldwell (Retired_Chemist) says:

    Pretty much on target for Tuesday. Maybe a little on the hard side with the proper nouns, but none were particularly obscure, excepting SEAVER possibly. Biggest embarrassment: staring at 38D and trying to figure out what 6 letter word V-8 Juice was an example of. DUH – now THAT was disgusting. Nothing about the puzzle was.

  7. andrea carla michaels says:

    “GE brings all good things to life!”

    What a wonderful puzzle!!!!
    Tho the THiCKE SEAVER thing will give folks fits…I mean I wrote a
    spec script for them and I didn’t even remember their name!!!!

    CHARLIECHANGE!!!!! Oh, I guess that’s the whole puzzle… SPACEBARGE
    to get us started.

    SO glad you got in ZOOT and it was ORACULAR not ORACLING which I
    feared for a second…

    ANIMA, very sophisticated…so smart…you HEPCAT!!!!!
    So proud to even know you!

  8. Evad says:

    Excellent theme, STEELY Dan. :)

    • Jeff Chen says:

      First DAVID STEINBERG, now STEELY, I love it! I’m going to work in SUPREME EMPEROR and THE PHILOSOPHER KING in my next one.

      Referring to myself of course. If that wasn’t obvious you shall pay dearly.

      • Dan F says:

        I submitted the clue [___ Dan]… Obviously the only way to clue THE PHILOSOPHER KING is [Jeff Chen, ___].

  9. Gareth says:

    NYT: “publishing, editing, writing that sort of thing”… Or, like my brother, become a computer programmer??? Simple enough puzzle idea, but the entries were really fun and the stacking looks so effortless!

    Liked the LAT theme a lot, nice oddball choice of units, BUZZLIGHTYEAR is just a b-yootiful answer! Double stacked nines were a cool touch, although I agree it was a bit rough around the edges…

  10. Martin says:

    The first NYT crossword editor Margaret Farrar was reputed to have said to some complaining solvers:

    “Tell me the stuff you don’t know, and I’ll try not to use it in crosswords.”


  11. mitchs says:

    I don’t usually a) rate puzzles here or b) smile while solving, but I smiled several times before giving this disgusting puzzle 5 stars.

  12. Howard B says:

    I respect the right to like and dislike as you see fit. Just remember that fair is not always equal to “What I know”. Natick is specially reserved for crossings that a vast majority of solvers should not be expected to know. And when commenting, reserve the harshest descriptions for your other blogs. It’s just a puzzle, not some Human Rights court case for crying out loud. The puzzle wasn’t disgusting. Someone simply didn’t like it. That’s OK. That is all :).

  13. Mark M says:

    Wow. I doubt people will read down to this comment given the abnormal number for a Tuesday. But, usual Tuesday time for me and thought this was a nice puzzle. Stunned by the comment(s). I can usually sniff out a puzzle that will lead to controversy and did not think this came close to that level.

    Dan – Don’t let this deter your puzzle construction. I look forward to the next one.

  14. Matt J. says:

    Anything on my puzzle yet? I wanna be lambasted, too! [j/k]

    • Jeff Chen says:

      Your name is too Matt-ish. Also, Jones, really? Found the J unimaginative, the ON disgusting, and the ES nothing short of wrong. Easily the worst name to date.

  15. Bencoe says:

    Thought I was a little slow on the NYT today, but it appears others had a way harder time than I did. I thought everything was completely appropriate for a Tuesday! Not too hard, not too easy. Since when does a NYT puzzle have to be easy and mainstream, anyway?
    Didn’t think there was too much pop culture, but I’ve been solving the book “word.” lately, which is all about pop culture and contemporary lingo. Recommended for those of you who like that sort of thing.

  16. Howard B says:

    I learned the treble staff mnemonic as the “good” version, later followed by the “deserves fudge” version. Musically they seemed common, dont know how far beyond that scope they are familiar.

    • Dave C says:

      This was a gimme for me because I recalled the Moody Blues album “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”. Forgot all bout fudge, which I only remembered after coming to the blog today.

  17. Zulema says:

    Poor Sarah! Used the wrong adjective! Hello, Sarah. I didn’t like it either, but not for the same reason. The only mnemonic I have known for ages is HOMES, and I learned the rainbow’s from crosswords. I could answer everything but the names; THICKE, SEAVER (the wrong one), ECKO.

    I do have a couple of tiny nits. “Schlimazel” does not mean INEPT, you were thinking of “Schlemiel.” Schlimazel is a luckless person. Its the schlemiel who spills his soup on the schlimazel’s pants. Remember that as a mnemonic. The other nit is that I remember ZOOT suits in the early 50’s in California, and they were not worn by “hepcats.” To explain further would not be PC any more.

  18. Zulema says:

    Tried to correct the semicolon typo but it wouldn’t let me. Might be my computer which is definitely acting up.

  19. Dan F says:

    Thanks for the kind words! and don’t worry, Sarah didn’t ruin my day. I think it’s important that we puzzle “insiders” not ignore feedback from outside the circle. Stridency doesn’t invalidate an opinion. That said, I’m curious to see when she will hate another puzzle as much… hope you come back and let us know!

    Huda: I constructed the puzzle as a Wednesday, so I’m glad it’s playing like one…

    Zulema: I’m with you! The clue I submitted for INEPT was [Like a schlemiel].

    • Huda says:

      Dan, just checked Sanfranman’s report on Rex’s blog, and it was on the challenging side, so that makes you right, and is another data point for my Index (which was originally validated against Sanfranman’s reports).

      I agree about the importance of hearing about outside points of views. I don’t consider myself an insider here, being neither a constructor nor a talented solver, and I try to give accurate feedback in part because I feel that it might be useful for the pros to hear how typical solvers react to various facets of a puzzle.

      Dan, have you read “Thinking, Fast & Slow” ? It’s a terrific book by the Nobelist Daniel Kahneman. He makes that point about people tending to ignore outside evidence. But beyond that, I thought of you and other amazing crossword solvers as I read it… How you must have moved pattern recognition from his so-called System 2 (slow, analytical, albeit lazy) to System 1 (fast, in tune with affects and patterns, albeit capable of bias).

  20. Sarah says:

    I do wish we’d see more stacked 9’s like in today LAT/Jonesin. AY CARAMBA!

  21. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I just emailed commenter Sarah who singled out a slew of words as “disgusting” fill. You know what? If the Monday and Tuesday NYT crosswords are indeed targeted at beginning solvers, they miss the mark wildly a lot of the time. I checked my clue database for the Daily Celebrity Crossword (available in two places: the iPad/iPhone app Daily Celebrity Crossword and the Facebook app Crosswords by PuzzleSocial), and most of the words Sarah listed (MAORI, ARP, ARRID, SOONYI, ZOOT, ROBB, STYE, ERNST, SEAVER, ANWAR, and ANIMA) have not been used even once in a year and a half of DCC puzzles. The other words she mentioned have been used just one to three times each, and we do try to limit such words’ use in the Daily Celebrity Crossoword: YUL, HAI, TSAR, ABA (we clue it as the lawyers’ group, American Bar Association), DOR, ERGO, ECKO, and THICKE. Our overriding focus is on using only familiar vocabulary, to offer crosswords that are always fun and never frustrating.

    Many longtime NYT solvers honestly believe that the Monday and Tuesday NYT puzzles are suitable for beginners, but Sarah is absolutely correct that yesterday’s puzzle included a ton of words and names that simply aren’t in the mainstream American consciousness. It is like pulling teeth to get longtime crossworders to recognize the words they see only in crosswords as words that most people have no reason to know. Working on the Celebrity crossword has sensitized me to just how much junk is considered ordinary, familiar crossword fill. Some people complain when I use the word “crosswordese” to describe their beloved words, but they ought to recognize that those words truly are obscure to most Americans.

    • Bencoe says:

      I agree with you about much crosswordese. But Arrid isn’t exactly arcane, it’s in every grocery store and pharmacy and tons of commercials. Ernst is a great artist, and I’ve seen his paintings around the world. I really do hear people say the word “ergo”. Zoot, Robb, and Seaver I can’t recall ever seeing before, and I think to call something “crosswordese” it has to make regular appearances in puzzles.
      Probably much of the problem is that, like Dan said, this puzzle was written as a Wednesday and instead got published on a Tuesday.

  22. W.R. Stewart says:

    I found Klahn’s puzzle too clever by far, especially for a Tuesday. I also don’t like it when there’s no hint as to abbreviations: a.s.a.p., for example. “Rue” is to feel sorrow *over* in the sense of regret, but not generic sorrow. Are there really *three* tiers to an Oreo, since two of the layers are the same? I’d also say that the BBC (“Beeb”) is a *network*, not a channel; besides, how many Americans know this? We don’t really use “crumb” in the same way we use “crumby/crummy” (“Crowd’s crumb”); when was the last time you called someone a crumb? The “Croatian/Dalmatian” for “Slav” was excessive; most Dalmatians *are* Croatians. I will acknowledge that the “Joe-Java” and “Beau-Hug” were good items.

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