Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fireball 5:22 
NYT 4:13 
AV Club 4:26 
LAT 7:30 (Gareth) 
BEQ 4:09(Matt) 
CS 5:59 (Dave) 

James Tuttle’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 6 13, no. 0606

I like the theme, which has a self-referential revealer that I actually didn’t see coming (though I should’ve). 66a: [Quarrel … or a feature of five answers in this puzzle] clues FALLING OUT, and only the O fits into the Across answer. The full word OUT is “falling” in each case, turning 90° down.

  • 16a. [Explain in detail], SPELL OUT.
  • 19a. [Begin a journey], STRIKE OUT. This phrase has other meanings—baseball, crossing out text. Isn’t it weird that it has at least three distinct meanings?
  • 25a. [Discovers], FERRETS OUT. Arbitrary inclusion of the S here—the word length fits in the grid.
  • 65a. [Relax], CHILL OUT.

It would’ve been neat if none of the Downs crossing the theme answers used OUT as a separate word. ROUT, TOUT, and SCOUT are solid but then I’M OUT and SEE OUT give us more OUT action. Not that I noticed this while solving. And I was also not put out by the repetition of OUT in those two Downs and the five theme answers.


Likes: ESCAPISM to EL DORADO, GOO-GOO eyes, PAPER BAG, the POTATO clue 50d: [Food named six times in a children’s number rhyme], the ESPYS clue 40d: [Awards show named for a TV network] (because it made me think, “Emmys were named after some M.E. network? What on earth could that have been?”).

Dislikes: Oy, ERNE again, two days in a row? ESE meets ECASH. ALAI, ELON.

Question: Are you personally more familiar with LANDAU in its 18a: [Horse-drawn vehicle] sense or with actor Martin LANDAU? Because I’m with Martin all the way; I loved his Oscar-winning turn as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. Apparently the carriage still gets used by Queen Elizabeth, but here in America, we are really not landau people.

3.9 stars.

Julian Lim’s Fireball crossword, “Taking 5”

Fireball crossword, “Taking 5” 6 6 13

Some folks loathe vowelless crosswords—just can’t get their heads to work that way. I wonder if those people are any more open to the vowelless gambit when only six of a puzzle’s answers are vowelless and the rest operate normally? Me, I was a tad disappointed to have vowelless theme answers but standard fill everywhere else—I do enjoy the mind-bending challenge of Frank Longo’s vowelless creations.

  • 15a. [Anticommunist film of 1968], THGRNBRTS. The Green Berets. Is that what that’s about?
  • 19a. [Wind of 8–12 mph], GNTLBRZ. Gentle breeze, on the Beaufort scale.
  • 24a. [Aromatic alcoholic drink], CRMDMNTH. Creamed month. No, wait. Crème de menthe.
  • 47a. [Sanitation truck], STRTSWPR. Street sweeper.
  • 55a. [Common DVD bonus], DLTDSCN. Dilated scan? No, deleted scene.
  • 62a. [Unthinking kick], KNJRKRFLX. Knee-jerk reflex. My, that’s Scrabbly.

I don’t see any particular unifying factor that ties these six things together. Do you?

I have never said, “AH, BLISS” (22d. [Cry of utmost satisfaction]), but it seems more plausible to me than that AH ME that keeps showing up in non-Gordonian crosswords.

Hmm, not much else to comment on here. Four stars.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times

Was it just me or was this puzzle a uniformly tough puzzle? I struggled throughout without ever really grinding to a complete halt. I like the puzzle’s theme a lot. Initially, we were confronted with several answers with the clue [Double]. Normally this signifies you have to come up with different shades of meaning for said clue; but today, they’re all the same meaning. The answers are different colourful ways of expressing that meaning. To wit:

  • 67a, DEADRINGER. I used the song “Dead Ringer for Love” in my changed clue for CHER yesterday… At least I get to link to it now!

The theme answers are stacked, which can make for awkward fill, but it can also relieve pressure in the middle when there are five theme answers. Near the top stack are CAYCE and GOODEN that I haven’t heard of. It looks like GOODEN was a choice rather than forced, however. The bottom has DMD; I can’t be the only one who reflexively put in DDS (My copy of “Clue Database” has them at 146:2 in favour of DDS!) This puzzle also has a central 12 (its a 16×15), which either means helper squares or very long downs. Wechsler has opted for 2×11 downs: SLOWLEARNER and IDIDNTFITIN. I’m not sure what to say about those two as a pair!

Time for some listing… First off some hard answers:

  • [What putting one’s pen down in Final Jeopardy! usually means], IMDONE. I wanted NOVOTE???
  • [Key econ. indicator],CPI. Consumer Price Index – I wanted G[D/N]P
  • [Food writer James], BEARD
  • [__ Sports Bureau, baseball’s official statistician], ELIAS. Not an Elias I’ve encountered before…
  • [Short basket], TIPIN. More US sports. I’ve heard of a TAPIN in golf but not this.
  • [“That wasn’t the group for me”],IDIDNTFITIN. Tough to parse for me!

And some other answers:

    • [King Arthur’s resting place], AVALON. I’d be remiss not linking to this since we have many Roxy Music fans among the blog readers.

  • [Electronic ballot], EVOTE. Is this a real thing? It’s a new answer as far as I can see… And you know how we don’t have enough e- answers in crosswords!
  • [“Would __ you down?”], ILET
  • [Rah-rah fan], BOOSTER. Strange clue! There are lots of real uses of this, the child seat for example, so why go for something that seems so roll-your-own??? Also, “Little Monsters” won’t fit.
  • Lastly, two fabulous clues: [Rest of the afternoon] and [Manhattan has many high ones].

I bet both have been short-listed for Clue of the Month! The theme for me (and I’m sure most of my fellow
logophiles) was a delight! Mildly compromised fill, but not beyond the pale by any stretch of the imagination. 3.9 stars.


Updated Thursday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Look Sharp” – Dave Sullivan’s review

A truly “cutting edge” puzzle from constructor Alan Arbesfeld today; four theme entries end with a word that can precede the word BLADE:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 06/06/13

  • [“The simplest solution is usually correct” principle] is the upmarket OCCAM’S RAZOR. Obviously, Occam isn’t a current subscriber to Peter Gordon‘s Fireball series.
  • [Device used to create a romantic mood, maybe] isn’t candles, wine or soft music, but a DIMMER SWITCH. A “switchblade” is a button-operated folding knife which may or may not be allowed on planes depending on what day it is.
  • [Snub] clues COLD SHOULDER. Not much you can cut with a shoulder blade, huh?
  • [It may help when putting on some latex] isn’t as salacious as it might sound, but a PAINT ROLLER. Does anyone rollerblade anymore? I used to see them out on boardwalks, but not in many years.

Strong theme idea with some DEVIOUS fill around it. I enjoyed the difficult-to-parse APOLLO ONE ([Ill-fated NASA mission of 1967]) as it looks more like A POL LOONE in the grid. My FAVE entry was the zippy entry ZIP, clued cleverly as [Code word?] for zip code. For my UNFAVE, I’m confused why ME ME was clued as [Attention-grabbing words]. Why not something like the picture to the right? Or maybe the words on that Ryan Gosling meme are the attention-grabbers the constructor had in mind? :)

BEQ’s website puzzle, “What Goes Around” — Matt’s review

Nice little visual theme from Brendan today. WHAT GOES AROUND is the kicker, and just now I’m realizing that that’s 14 letters long so we’re looking at a rectangular grid. I’m always complaining when people do non-square grids but then half the time (assuming they’re just one row/column off, like here) I don’t even notice it while solving.

Anyway, that phrase is taken literally with four 2×2 boxes in the grid containing a circular W-H-A-T. Kewl.


Top 3 clues:

4-d [One who has trouble passing the bar] = ALKIE

12-d [___ Ford High School (Dearborn, MI institution)] = EDSEL, good clue to save a semi-crossword entry

36-d [Passed out in Atlantic City] = DEALT.

4.15 stars.

AV Club crossword, “Seventeen…”

AV Club crossword solution, 6 6 13 “Seventeen”

There is a lot I don’t get here. 71a: [This puzzle’s author, for one] is a CICADA. That ties into 63a: [Every seventeen years, and like my kinfolk’s emergence (at which point we eventually catch up on the news)], SEPTENDECENNIAL.

But does 17a: [Mall mass gathering of recent news], MILLION MAN MARCH connect to the cicada theme just because there are a lot of cicadas on the east coast these days? They’re not men and they don’t march. Does anything else in the puzzle pertain to cicadas? Is there a point beyond the whimsical “What if a cicada made a crossword?” concept?

And is the 25a clue intentionally wrong? [Figure at the center of this century’s “trial of the century”] clues O.J. SIMPSON, but the trial in question took place in 1994. By my count, that’s last century.

I saw a rave about this puzzle on Facebook before I solved it, but the charm escapes me. The contents of the crossword proper are fine, but the … ohhhh, I get it now. The CICADA is 17 years behind on the news. That’s why 1994 is “this century,” and the DOW has an outdated clue. I don’t keep track of the various MILLION-whoevers marches, so I wasn’t thinking of the MILLION MAN MARCH as a singular event that happened in the past. But the gimmick explains the “world wide web” clue for BDSM. I had totally breezed past “Texas governor George W. Bush,” but I did wonder about the DOW clue and why DEMI was clued as [Bruce’s wife].

Is the Chris O’Donnell-wears-NATTY-outfits thing supposed to be 17 years old too?

Four stars.

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20 Responses to Thursday, June 6, 2013

  1. Steve says:

    We used to be landau people, at least when it came to fake convertibles.

  2. joon says:

    neither of the above; i’ll take soviet physicist lev davidovich as my go-to LANDAU. but both of the others are at least recognizable.

    in the FB, the theme answers each have 5 E’s removed.

    • john farmer says:

      The rest of the FB puzzle is missing E’s too — grid and clues.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Can you tell that’s not the sort of gimmick that catches my fancy?

      • Evad says:

        I thought it nice that E is also the 5th letter of the alphabet. Coincidence? I doubt it.

        Did anyone else have any shudders recalling Patrick Blindauer’s excellent Puzzle 5 (!) from this year’s ACPT? I’m still smarting over PSCPL CHRCH.

        • Brendan McNamara says:

          I actually had reverse shudders. In the ACPT I thought Blindauer’s title was referring to removing Es (as the fifth letter) like in this puzzle rather than one of each vowel. So this puzzle was right up my alley. Although in my AcrossLite, the clue for GNTLBRZ lacked a dash, so I was wondering what sort of wind is 812 mph, and how that would be considered GNTL.

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: I loved the layered experience it offered– first entertaining the working hypothesis: if it’s a Thursday it must be a rebus puzzle.Then the guess that OUT is foreshortened, and hmmm only a rebus in the horizontal?? Then finally the dangling OUT! Very cool!

    The rest of the solve felt smooth, with some fun fill and nothing crazy– a happy interlude!

  4. loren smith says:

    Amy and Joon -(I don’t speak physics.) Here is my go-to LANDAU. And I know him!.

  5. Evad says:

    Didn’t Martin Landau star with his wife Barbara Bain in the sci-fi series Space 99? I’m going completely from memory here, no time to check Wikipedia…

    • HH says:

      Yes (although the full title was “Space: 1999”) , and the TV version of “Mission: Impossible” before that. Apparently they liked TV shows with colons in the titles.

  6. DKelly says:

    ESE at 1 Across should have been clued [Ending to crossword?].

  7. Gareth says:

    I wish people who 1-star an otherwise well-regarded puzzle would stop by and tell us WHY their views diverge so far… (Not that anybody is not entitled to dislike a puzzle that everybody else likes, but I think most of us are interested in the thought processes behind it…)

  8. JohnV says:

    Nice and easy, NYT and LAT. Liked em both. Easy week.

  9. ArtLvr says:

    Gareth, if you own shares of any publicly-traded companies, you may get an email from your broker asking you to evote on ballot measures for their annual stockholders’ meetings… And the only few times I ever listened to sports broadcasts, I kept hearing the names Strawberry and Gooden — but I think it turned out that the former wasn’t always a good’un? Someone got into serious trouble around then, anyway.

  10. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. Edgar Cayce was a psychic consultant who “read” without the sufferer being present, and whose recorded readings were well-substantiated. He often described individual disease conditions he’d never heard of, let alone studied… A true seer.

  11. John from Chicago says:

    Amy, if you would spend more time on the Miracle Mile around the Water Tower, you would see we have lots of carriages in Chicago, and I can assure you that they are a pain to drive around. Whereas this puzzle was a pleasure to do.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Sure, but who on earth calls them landaus? Chicago Horse & Carriage ( calls them “carriages,” vis-a-vis carriages specifically (à-vis_(carriage)).

      • John from Chicago says:


        I don’t call them landaus but in your write-up you used the term carriage and they are definitely carriages waiting on Chestnut and on Pearson. There might even be a landau or two amongst them thar carriages.

        (“Apparently the carriage still gets used by Queen Elizabeth, but here in America, we are really not landau people.”)

      • John from Chicago says:


        I don’t call them landaus but in your write-up you used the term carriage and they are definitely carriages waiting on Chestnut and on Pearson. There might even be a landau or two amongst them thar carriages.

        (“Apparently the carriage still gets used by Queen Elizabeth, but here in America, we are really not landau people.”)

  12. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Knew the LANDAU vehicle. Actor dude means zilch to me, as usual — clue it that way and it might as well say “random proper name that you might have seen somewhere, and otherwise will hopefully look at least plausible”. I’d love to see either the physics Nobelist Lev Landau or the mathematician Edmund Landau, but these days it seems that only the Chronicle of Higher Education still takes that high road.

    • HH says:

      But for most Americans these days, “higher education” means they took their final exams stoned.

  13. joon says:

    other intentionally dated clues from the AVX puzzle include carlos the JACKAL awaiting trial (he was sentenced to life in 1997), MIR (came down in 2001), REM (that “new album” they’re working on came out in 1996), CNBC (grodin’s run ended in 1998), and MICROSOFT (windows 95! they do not make that any more). dated clues were are actually still valid include ALAN greenspan (in the style of crossword clues, he can still be clued as a fed chairman in the present tense), ALI (1996 olympic torch lighter… yep, that’s still him), and RESET (nintendo 64). i thought it was a fun, clever puzzle. a blast from the past, if you will. it also reminded me about this onion piece, which i enjoyed.

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