Friday, June 14, 2013

NYT 4:38 
LAT 4:56 (Gareth) 
CS 5:48 (Dave) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

The Chronicle of Higher Education is off this week. Those academics, always slacking off in the summer.

Oh, and Happy Flag Day, everyone.

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 14 13, no. 0614

Have we ever seen stacked 15s from Patrick Berry before? I’m not sure we have. These particular 15s are pretty darned good:

  • 16a. [His death prompted Georges Pompidou to say “France is a widow”], CHARLES DE GAULLE.
  • 19a. [Show stopper], COMMERCIAL BREAK.
  • 45a. [Words after “Oh well”], YOU CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL. I would have cried if this were ONE CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL.
  • 48a. [Loaded roll], EVERYTHING BAGEL. As 1d says, YECCH. I like a plainer bagel. No onions. No salt chunks. No seeds.

Elsewhere in this 68-worder, I’m partial to VENEZUELA, CALAMARI as crossword fill (YECCH as food), “WHAT’S THAT?,” NORMA RAE, and the SACRED GANGES.

When LENIN in is the puzzle, it’s odd to see “Red Terror” in another clue. PHAR LAP was the [Celebrated racehorse nicknamed “The Red Terror”], whereas LENIN is merely presented as [Survivor of two 1918 assassination attempts]. He would have liked the nickname, no?

I’m not finding much in this puzzle I’m compelled to remark on, for good or ill. It’s just sort of there, without any “Wow!” or “Ugh” moments. 3.75 stars.

Updated Friday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Department of Ed” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Some might say that constructor Patrick Blindauer lives in the past after solving today’s CrosSynergy puzzle, and I’d say they were right. He adds the suffix -ed to four common phrases:

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

  • [Cut back a trio of something?] clues PARED THREE – “par three” holes are your shortest ones on professional golf courses.
  • [Afraid of combat?] is BATTLE SCARED – hmmm, the more common phrase here I think is “battle-scarred” (already in the past tense), but I suppose you can have a “battle scar” as well.
  • [Prerecorded some ballerinas?] clues TAPED DANCERS – ballerinas require a lot of tape on their feet to be en pointe so much.
  • [Like a ghostly-looking superhero?] clues WHITE CAPED – a “white cap” is a strong ocean wave with foam on the top. Speaking of superheros, does the new Superman: Man of Steel come out today? I was a big fan of Henry Cavill from his role as Henry VIII’s confidante Charles Brandon on The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Myers.

Cute theme, consistently applied. And, as typical for this member of the pantheon of crossword constructors, the fill has lots of interesting entries as well, including the Newhart actor TOM POSTON, the Jewish and consonant-rich SHTETLS and my FAVE [Starting place for many puzzlers], which was ONE ACROSS. (I tried to start there, but didn’t see HEFT for [Weight] until I got some of the crossing entries. I also enjoyed the clue [Hitch, slip, and granny] which are all types of KNOTS. I was less happy to see the partial ABOO (as in [“Peek-___, I see you!”]. That’s one I’d rather stayed hidden.

Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times

Marti DuGuay-Carpenter is our regular Friday MESSIAH delivering us from the blahs with clever wordplay. Today, she offers us a homophone theme, where a silent “B” is added to familiar phrases. We have:

  • 18a, [Like a door with three people squeezing through it together?], JAMBPACKED. Cute visual!
  • 33a, [Where to find wool?], ONTHELAMB
  • 45a, [Out-of-control carpenter’s tool?], WILDPLUMB. Of all the carpenter’s tools, the PLUMB is probably the least scary if it were to go out of control…
  • 63a, [Title for Shakespeare?], IAMBLEGEND. Martis saved the best for last! How brilliant is that answer!?

What else do we have? Well, first off, did anyone else titter at 1a, [Go like heck]? Such a minced crossword clue! Hmm, I think should start listing

  • 10a, [Lose on purpose], DIET. Without a “?” this was a tough clue! Clever too!
  • 22a, [End of a conductor’s shout], ABOARD. “All aboard!” Bus conductor. Another clever one!
  • 24A, [Alice’s restaurant], DINER. Doesn’t refer to the massacree by Arlo Guthrie but Mel’s Diner where sitcom Alice worked.
  • 66a, [Chanteur Jacques], BREL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen “chanteur” before: chanteuse is far more familiar…
  • 28d, [LPGA golfer Yani Tseng’s homeland], TAIWAN. If you don’t pay attention to women’s golf or sports headlines take note. I think this is Rich Norris’ subtle way have of dropping a name that’s bound to become a crossword regular… She’s only 24 and already has five LPGA majors!
  • 46d, [Suit in a circus], LEOTARD. Named for monsieur Leotard. That’s him on the right there…
  • 55d, [Isn’t expanded?], ISNOT. Strange clue: most of the answer appears in it!

A nice collection of theme answers, with a fairly conservative grid, enlivened by its clues: 3.5 Stars.


Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Making Waves” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/14/13 • “Making Waves” • Fri • Long, Shenk • solution

For a while I was flopping and flapping regarding the theme—of course I’d neglected to look at the title, as usual—but even so I could tell by the prevalence of sublime cluing that this was a Shenk affair, top-to bottom. Wittiness, SLY (12d) misdirections, unexpected trivia, reverberations, his inky fingerprints are all over it.

The theme entries all had gnomic clues, referencing mysterious Groups 1 and 2, which I ignored in favor of working crossings and other fill. Down at Row 21 things potentially became clearer, with 117a [Feature of the members of Group 2] and 119a [Feature of the members of Group 1]. Oh, and look! 62-across, in the center, is a member of both groups. And hey, all the themers in the top half of the grid are in G1 and all those in the bottom half are G2!

So it eventually became apparent that this is a Flag Day puzzle, representing Old Glory, THE AMERICAN FLAG, with its STARS and STRIPES. Group 1 includes HOLLYWOOD, an ARMY GENERAL, a PLANETARIUM SHOW, and the TEXACO SIGN, while a BARBER POLE, YANKEES UNIFORMS, a BENGAL TIGER, and a CANDY CANE comprise Group 2. Not the most stirring of themes for me, but unimpeachably carried out.

 Anthemic notes:

  • 1a/45a [Surrounded by] AMONG/AMID. 94a/74d [Elfin] PETITE/TEENY. 118a/3d [Colo. neighbor] WYO/OKLA (good way to make the best of a bad situation). 4d/97d [Naught] NIL/ZERO. 103d [Place to retire]/111d [Place to retire] BEDS/COT.
  • Clues that fooled me good: 6a [Spot for a shot] BAR, not ARM (but I wonder if BAR is too reminiscent of “Stars and Bars”). 13d [One with evenly spaced teeth] COG, not SAW.
  • Sampling of cleverness: 9a [Internal audit?] CAT SCAN, 93a [They’re often glossed over] LIPS, 11d [Waits in the recording studio] TOM, 43d [Screeching baby] OWLET, referencing screech owls (Megascops sp.), 56d [It may have four legs] RACE, 64d [Safety setting] END ZONE, 73d [Runs while standing still] IDLES.
  • Some nifty facts: 81a [Gasoline-fueled car inventor] BENZ, 65d [Publisher whose Boeing 727 was named Capitalist Tool] FORBES (ha-ha!), 21a [Last film directed by Howard Hawks] RIO LOBO, 5d [Yellowstone’s Lion, Steamboat or Castle] GEYSER.
  • I feel better about 67d SLATY being clued with [Like an overcast sky] rather than the way it was [Dull blue-gray] in a recent Monday(!) NYT.
  • UK! 102d [Pound note, in English slang] ONER, 55a [Folkestone folks] BRITS, 46a [Last name in a Blackmore title] DOONE, 91d [Savile Row threads] FIBRES, 16a [Black Watch topper] TAM.
  • Certainly in a large format grid one is bound to encounter some crosswordese, abbrevs. and partials, but the CAP Quotient™ for this puzzle is admirably low. So …

… in conclusion, this offering is far from the 28a [Said twice, equivalent of “Nothing new”] SAME OLD (, same old).

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21 Responses to Friday, June 14, 2013

  1. Martin says:

    “Have we ever seen stacked 15s from Patrick Berry before?”

    If you mean stacked pairs of 15s, then yes… he’s had two very similar grids in the NYT: one in 2011 and the other in 2012 (as far as a can tell with my very brief search).

    Nice smooth puzzle, BTW :)


  2. sbmanion says:

    My first entry was CHARLESDEGAULLE and the top fell very quickly. I am not familiar with the term EVERYTHINGBAGEL. It makes sense. I simply haven’t heard it. Is it a New York term? Anyway, the bottom, while not hard, was definitely harder than the top.

    I just mentioned on the NYT that I have never understood the great romance about Phar Lap. His other nickname was Big Red. I know he was a huge horse from New Zealand who died under mysterious circumstances. His racing career was excellent, but not all world.


    • Martin says:

      Phar Lap, to me anyway, is famous mainly from the movie (entitled not surprisingly “Phar Lap”). I think the movie alone makes Phar Lap reasonably fair game for a crossword entry.


    • Lois says:

      As Amy said, it’s got salt on it, seeds (poppy and sesame – maybe caraway? I don’t think so). Someone online says garlic too. I prefer smoked salmon with a plain bagel, so I can taste it better, but everything bagels are nice with lots of things too, like cream cheese alone.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    So pleased to become acquainted with Phar Lap in the NYT! His name meant Lightning (Sky Flash) which turned out to be wildly prophetic. He had a heart nearly twice the normal size, and like Lenin he escaped at least one assassination attempt… Still an icon of the horse-racing world in New Zealand.
    Many thanks to Patrick Berry for putting him in your puzzle!

  4. Jim Horne says:

    Mr. Berry had a Triple stack in 2011 and another in 2002.

    He’s done most of the usual tricks: see this insanely low block count from 2008. Only six 15x puzzles in NYT history have a lower word count than this one or this one. This puzzle has only one vowel and this one would be a pangram if it only had an E.

    And so on. There’s apparently nothing he can’t do. You can see all his grids here.

  5. Bencoe says:

    Didn’t know Pharlap, but most of the rest played easy for me. Everything bagels are pretty much everywhere now, I think. Not bad with some veggie cream cheese. Good fill in this crossword, too.

  6. Dan says:

    Anyone else know Taylor Dayne from this week’s This American Life? Thanks to this hilarious story from Tig Notaro I was able to get it.

    Stay tuned to the end for a surprise.

  7. Gareth says:

    Not one untoward answer, as always… Clueing made the bottom play like Wednesday/Thursday and the top like a fiendish Saturday… I ground to a halt for about 8 minutes: except for placing and removing GLOATS aand NORMARAE. Eventually I figured out YAWN, which led me to venture YECCH, which then gave a few more answers; then the two fifteens emerged which allowed me to finish the puzzle…

  8. HH says:

    “CALAMARI … (YECCH as food)”

    But ya gotta admit, “calamari” is much more mellifluous than “squid”.

  9. Angela Osborne says:

    When I’m able to breeze through a Friday puzzle I’m either getting smarter or the puzzle is getting easier.
    Got Charles De Gaulle right away, love calamari (I’m Italian), You can’t win ’em all was obvious, I’m also a New Yorker so “everything bagel” was a given. Don’t have any idea what an arbutus is, but guessed “oval”. Didn’t get “Yeggs” at all, but since a yegg is a safe-cracker, I guess it makes sense – but a bit of a stretch.

  10. cyberdiva says:

    At first, I couldn’t believe this was a Friday. I filled in YAWN, and that gave me YECCH, and that gave me CHARLESDEGAULLE and COMERCIALBREAK, and I was off to the races. I’ve had Tuesdays that I found harder at the start. After filling in about 75% of the puzzle in record time, I came to a grinding halt for a while. I’d never heard of PHAR LAP nor TAYLOR DAYNE. Indeed, that name gave me an especially hard time, since I assumed Taylor was the last name and tried to decide between JAYNE and WAYNE. Eventually, I finished, but by then I knew it wasn’t a Tuesday!

    My favorite clue: One with a job opening? (45D: YEGG)

  11. RK says:

    Round of applause for IAMBLEGEND in the LAT!!

    Never heard a bagel referred to as a roll. Evah.

  12. jennifer says:

    Enjoyed Patrick Berry’s Friday puzzle, but am I the only one who was puzzled by the answer of
    “cages” for the clue “Bar rooms?”? What am I not getting? Also, “yegg” was new to me. Anyone have any info regarding its origin? Thanks!

  13. RK says:

    Different WSJ theme and IAMBLEGEND in LAT was funny.

  14. jennifer says:

    I say “Thank you, Bencoe”, as I slap myself on the forehead!

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