Sunday, August 11, 2013

NYT 11:27 (Gareth) 
LAT 9:06 (Jeffrey) 
Reagle 13:46 (Sam) 
Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 
WaPo untimed (Janie) 
CS 10:05 (across two sittings) (Dave) 

Announcement: With much of Team Fiend at Lollapuzzoola, there may be a few delays in puzzle postings today. We’ll see how it goes. — pann {Well, I’m here – Jeffrey}

Robert W. Harris’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “Mock Time” – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Sunday Aug 11 2013

I’m back!
Important announcement – The big winner of yesterday’s Lollapuzzoolla was Al Sanders! No headphone tossing required! As I am competing in the Solve-At-Home Division, please no spoilers in the comments. Just email them directly to me.
Theme: “ar” sound changed to “ah” for your enjoyment.
Theme answers:
22A. [Drill presses, lathes and the like?] – SHOP OBJECTS (sharp objects)
24A. [Ways a fish avoids capture?] – COD TRICKS (card tricks)
41A. [Cop’s dog-days domain?] – HOTBEAT (heartbeat)
43A. [Queue at a rest room, to a tot?] – POTTYLINE (party line)
67A. [Time for promoting awareness about electrical hazards?] – SHOCK WEEK (shark week)
93A. [Promo for a prominent baby doctor’s book?] – SPOCK PLUG (spark plug)
95A. [Deity’s online forum comment?] – GOD POST (guard post)
115A. [Aid in moving an army bed?] – COT WHEELS (cart wheels)
117A. [Late-afternoon marina observations?] – DOCK SHADOWS (dark shadows)
Other stuff:
47A. [“__ Was a Rollin’ Stone“: Temptations hit] – PAPA
54A. [One going on and on] – PRATTLER. Is that a word. I don’t think it is a word. What kind of word is that? Are there folks who go on and on and on? Do we call them prattlers? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Prattler? Come on. That’s ridiculous. Ridiculous, I say.
15D. [Woven linen tape] – INKLE
32D. [Streisand classic] – PEOPLE
94D. [Kosher deli buy] – KNISH. I never understand why words have that silent “K.”

Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword, “Added Satisfaction” – Gareth’s review

NY Times
Aug 11/13
“Added Satisfaction”

I seem to be blogging this puzzle… OK, then. First up, the title. Several people object to revealing answers in dailies because they make the theme too obvious. On Sunday though, there’s a big ol’ hint to start with that you don’t even need to puzzle out. Today’s title is “Added Satisfaction”, a lively phrase from advertising; after reading it, I was almost sure that today we were going to add “ah”. I got to the first theme answer at 26a and sure enough: AFTERALLAH. So I had my big a-ha moment right at the front of the puzzle.

Thereafter, the fun was trying to figure out how each answer would incorporate an “ah”. This is not the most obvious digram, and I’m quite impressed that Mr. Schoenholz found enough answers for a Sunday. It is fair to note that, as Sundays go it’s fairly sparse with 7 theme entries and 83 theme squares. Let’s take a look at the individual theme answers now:

  • 26a, [Where most things rank in importance to a Muslim?], AFTERALLAH. You know, innocuous as this is, I still foresee Will getting letters…
  • 42a, [Webster’s directive to the overly formal?], JUSTSAYNOAH. I like this one, a theme answer that speaks to me!
  • 62a, [Equipment list for a hashish-smoking fisherman?], HOOKAHLINEANDSINKER
  • 86a, [Departed from Manama, maybe?], LEFTBAHRAIN. Left brain is a nice phrase to work from, and the BRAIN to BAHRAIN switch was a pleasant surprise!
  • 102a, [Niece’s polite interruption?], AUNTIEAHEM. Another spoken answer, this one is kinda quirky; try imagining someone say “Auntie, ahem.”
  • 25d, [Welcome look from a Bedouin?], SAHARASMILE, based on Hall and Oates’ “Sara Smile.”
  • 52d, [What many Bay Area skiers do on winter weekends?], HEADTOTAHOE

I often find Sundays have far more cringe moments than daily puzzles, but not today. This is enabled by the modest theme. The low theme letter count has also allowed Mr. Schoenholz to drop all kinds of long goodness into his puzzle. My highlights reel includes ENCHILADA, STUDPOKER, LARKSPURS, ONTHEEDGE (song interlude #1), FIRESALES, STARDUST, JOECAMEL, HOTDATES, ENOLAGAY (song interlude #2), THEBEAST and PANZER. An interesting small stack was FLEA over the related POUND over the related OUNCE. Of course, FLEA and OUNCE don’t go together!

I’ll wrap this short summary up by saying this. While the puzzle isn’t one of those multi-layered Sunday masterpieces – it is deftly executed, with interesting theme answers and a grid that held my intention with many fun answers. 3.75 Stars.


Updated Sunday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Dave Sullivan’s review

I began this one last night after a long day of puzzles at Lollapuzzoola 6, and had to put it down with a few incomplete squares in the top right, missing 2 of the 11 (!) 15-letter grid-spanners in today’s “Sunday Challenge”:

CrosSynergy crossword solution – 08/11/13

  • I think my favorite of the bunch was the first at 1-Across: [Big name in feminism] clues MS. GLORIA STEINEM – one of the dinner topics last night among Amy Reynaldo, Janie Smulyan and myself was the dearth of women constructors among the most published constructors in the major venues. Though I doubt Ms. Steinem ever constructed a puzzle, she makes a great entry at the top of a grid. I even enjoyed the “Ms.” part which betokens the feminist movement.
  • The next two are the ones I left incomplete last night (which probably implies I was either tired or they are not familiar phrases to me): [At every stage] for ALL ALONG THE LINE and [Least accessible parts] for DEEPEST RECESSES. In the light of day this morning, I figured them out rather easily, but I still kind of feel they are iffy phrases–particularly the former which I would substitute “way” for “line.” It didn’t help I was thinking of Rene Russell instead of Rosalind (abbreviated as ROS) and had REN instead.
  • The middle two “emerged” (CAME OUT INTO THE OPEN) rather quickly for me, the other being SAT FOR A PORTRAIT, though I fought against substituting “picture” for “portrait” in the last one–not many sit for portraits these days.
  • The first of the bottom three, [Willis Tower location] for CHICAGO, ILLINOIS reminded me that just last night as Amy and I were walking back to our respective hotels after dinner I asked her what the new name of the Sears Tower was. True story! I think of Anaheim before CALIFORNIA as the site of the ANGELS baseball team, was this their name before they moved? And finally, something I hope no one did yesterday at the tournament if they didn’t do well, was to [Have a good one?] or SHED BITTER TEARS. Not sure I understand what’s “good” about that, but I do know one can have a “good cry” and maybe that’s what the clue is getting at.
  • Rounding out the 11 in the middle we have IN THE LAST RESORT (I wanted that to begin with “at” instead of “in”), AGREE UP TO A POINT and my second favorite, STEAMBOAT WILLIE, although I don’t remember it being a Disney parody, per se, but the first to feature Mickey Mouse.

An admirable technical feat, but I’m left a bit unsatisfied with a mixed bag of 15’s and some odd short crossers like the aforementioned ROS, NISI, ENER, HE A, AS AN, SCR, HLN (Headline News, I think?), I AT and LIER. Is it worth the compromise? Enquiring minds want to know in the comments. Back home today…see you tomorrow morning!

Todd McClary’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 175″—Janie’s review

8/11 WaPo solution

8/11 WaPo solution

What a generous cruciverbal FEAST (a non-bedding-related [King-size spread]) Todd has prepared for us today. This 68/25-er is dense with longer fill that’s fresh and evocative and that makes for a highly satisfying solve. Look at all the good stuff that he’s packed in for us:

UNION SUIT, DVD BURNER, RED ALERT, DIET SODA (to wash down that POST-GAME ONION DIP, no doubt), WIDE-ANGLE, EMANUEL AX, and (before saying, “That TAKES CARE OF that,”) my fave, not the Earl of, but “SIR” SANDWICH, that [Military response style in which the first and last words are the same]. Whence, “SIR! Yes, SIR!”


What men of distinction wear beneath their Calvins?

But wait— there’s more! (“OY, VEY!” How could I have forgotten?!) I love the natural history vibe/tie-in of SAVANNAH and—with its reference to naturalist Robert John Lechmere Guppy)—TRINIDAD. Given the climate in either place, one could easily become SUN-BAKED there—so, lest I have to NAG AT you: drink lotso water! Save the BEER (or does one drink sake with this?) for the TACO RICE [Japanese-Mexican fusion dish]. BEER, I think…(which also goes nicely with a BRAT or two). Makes for a savory combo, and if not LAVISH in scope, filling all the same. So be careful not to OVERDO it.

And there’s a show-biz vibe to this one that I also enjoyed. TRISTAR Pictures is in there—though it came into existence (1982) well after the talented and glamorous (if deeply troubled) Gene TIERNEY made The Ghost and Mrs. Muir for 20th Century-Fox (1947). Did you know she’d been married to Oleg Cassini? Who’da thunk? Then we get EDEN clued in connection with, of all things, the Bock and Harnick gem, The Apple Tree. As musicals go, it’s not a hundred percent perfect, but oh, boy, does it have a fabulous score. And an ambitious premise: three acts, each self-contained, each based on a different piece of short fiction. Act I is based on Mark Twain’s The Diary of Adam and Eve; Act II on Frank Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger”; and Act III on Jules Feiffer’s “Passionella.” As for Act II—well, that one actually makes a fine example of what a [Sword-and-SANDAL…] piece can be when it’s done on stage.

Several stand out clues and clue/fill combos today, too:

  • [Sex education component] for BIRDS. As in this Cole Porter classic…or, in this Porter tribute created by Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence.
  • [Producer of movie remakes?] for the aforementioned DVD BURNER.
  • [Drive through Beverly Hills] for RODEO. Drive is a noun here and not a verb…
  • [Computer plug?] for POP-UP AD. Love this. Caught on the to AD part right away, but had lots of trouble seeing POP-UP. How about you? Then there’s the silly pleasure of simply seeing POPUPAD in the grid. POPU-PAD? Is this a census taker’s notebook?
  • GidgetBook[“Little girl with big ideas” of 1950s fiction]. What a great reminder that before she was a movie star, GIDGET was out there selling books. Lots of ’em.
  • [Lush surroundings?] for BAR. (I’ll drink to that!)
  • [Three of diamonds] for OUTS. Say wha’? That’s baseball diamonds, yes? And then probably my fave:
  • [Good-smelling pet] for BEAGLE. Because that’s a breed known for its keen sense of smell. After a bath I suspect it also smells good, too…

And that, folks, brings me to “ADIOS!” I leave you til next month with the hope that you, too, share my feeling that Todd certainly did ACE IT today!

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “What a Relief!” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 8/11/13 • “What a Relief!” • Cox, Rathvon • solution

This puzzle commemorates the, erm, 96th anniversary of a memorable baseball game, presumably legendary, especially in the Boston region (which is where this crossword originates in print).

  • 23a. [Who was walked by 30-Across on June 23, 1917 ] THE FIRST BATTER.
  • 30a. [Who was 86-Across after 23-Across] BABE RUTH.
  • 39a. [The hosts of the Senators that day in 1917] THE RED SOX.
  • 47a. [Who relieved 30-Across] ERNIE SHORE.
  • 62a. [Bunch retired by 47-Across] TWENTY-SIX MEN.
  • 68a. [47-Across feat, but for 23-Across] A PERFECT GAME.
  • 77a. [Where 30-Across pitched for 39-Across] FENWAY PARK.
  • 86a. [With 97-Across, what 23-Across was] THROWN OUT.
  • 97a. [See 86-Across] STEALING.
  • 104a. [What 30-Across was 86-Across for] PUNCHING THE UMP.

So. Anyone familiar with my write-ups has probably realized that I’m fairly reactionary—acutely unimpressed, at the very least—toward both (seemingly ubiquitous) baseball themes and cross-references among clues. Accordingly it shouldn’t be surprising that this puzzle, save for one very elegant and clever touch, left me underwhelmed.

To summarize the narrative: one midsummer day in Boston, THE RED SOX hosted the Senators. Starting pitcher BABE RUTH walked THE FIRST BATTER. Apparently less than satisfied with the fourth-ball call, he was THROWN OUT of the game for expressing said dissatisfaction in the form of PUNCHING THE UMP. Another starting pitcher, ERNIE SHORE, came in to relieve Ruth and he preceded to retire the next TWENTY-SIX batters. (At some point in that first inning, that lone base runner was THROWN OUT; that is, tagged with the ball while STEALING a base and being called “out.”) Until the 1990s this was considered to be A PERFECT GAME.

That twofold use of “THROWN OUT” is really good, but not good enough on its own to counterbalance my lack of enthusiasm for the overall theme. However, further tipping the scale toward personal likability is the plethora of baseball tie-ins throughout the fill and clues:

  • The symmetrical first and last acrosses. 1a [Sound of a hit] THWACK / 118a [Try to hit] SWAT AT; Babe Ruth was of course nicknamed the Sultan of Swat.
  • 19a [“__ on the Diamond” (Tim Conway short)] DORF. 20a [Relieve] EASE; “relieve,” get it? 35a [Low-scoring tie] ONE-ONE. 113a [Pitch alterant] SPIT. 115a [Player for DC’s old Senators, to fans] NAT; deliberate theme nod, since the current team there is called the Nationals.
  • 1d [Touch with a ball] TAG. 3d [Calling for a tarp] WET. 10d [In an unsafe place] OFF BASE. 25d [Jersey part] SLEEVE. 51d [The Mets’ __ Field] CITI. 65d [Standout player] STAR.

Cute, admirable, but still not enough. Still on this side of the fence.

Box score:

  • Weird 1980s vibe, with K-CARCagney & Lacey‘s Sharon GLESS, that Tim Conway DORF character, the [Musical biopic] LA BAMBA,  True, just a few, but they seem sharply dated. Despite the historical significance of that cop show.
  • REEDIT crossing REKNIT, BAH! (94a/88d, 96d)
  • 91a [Harvard grad] CANTAB, which is short of Cantabrigian, which is based on the Latin form of Cambridge (home of Harvard). Precious, no?
  • Three technically correct clues that felt off to me:
    • 17d [Acme] VERTEX. In my mind, an acme unequivocally entails ALTItude (78d), whereas a VERTEX doesn’t necessarily, and is primarily a geometrical point that’s a termination or intersection. The dictionary, however, disagrees and two of the three senses (1 and 3) involve “top.”
    • 84d [“Hold the rocks”] ICELESS. The quotes in the clue (and the lack of a qualifier such as “, say”) make it seem as if the answer is, in a parallel fashion, something that would also be spoken. I simply can’t imagine someone ordering a drink “iceless.”
    • 103a [Like sulfur’s smell] EGGY. More like the other way around, wouldn’t you say? A (rotten) egg smells sulfuric.
  • Is the Francophone crossing of ICI and CIEL fair? Are those words common and/or inferable enough? Hm, “fair”, CLAIRBEL AIR (5d, 64a).
  • 83a [Pumping platform]. Knew this had nothing to do with shoes, but couldn’t figure out what it meant. OIL RIG.
  • Low CAP Quotient™. Just a relative few clunkers.
  • 87d [Priam’s wife] HECUBA. cf., Gertrude.
  • First had AMASSES for STASHES at 27d [Hoards].

Despite its plusses, this puzzle still fell short for me. Average or just below.

Merl Reagle’s weekly crossword, “Experimental Humor”- Sam Donaldson’s review

Merl Reagle’s “Experimental Humor” crossword solution

Merl honors tonight’s widely-anticipated return of Breaking Bad with seven opuns related to chemistry. Some are elemental, and others are sure to provoke a humorous reaction.

  • A [Good place to buy lab containers?] is BEAKER STREET. Did you get that this is a pun on “Baker Street?” Nice work, Sherlock.
  • To [Volunteer the use of a lab tool?] is to MAKE A FUNNEL OFFER, a variant on “make a final offer.”
  • The [Incident involving a missing lab vessel?] is a MORTAR MYSTERY, which I’m guessing is a play on “murder mystery.”
  • [What one liquid said to the other liquid?] is I’LL BE BACK IN A FLASK, not “I’ll be back in a flash.”
  • The [Structural stress on a lab vessel?] isn’t “battle fatigue” but BOTTLE FATIGUE.
  • This one’s my favorite: [Where the dangerous virus was?] clues IN A GLASS BY ITSELF. Clues are really important in puzzles with punny themes.
  • Did you know that THE TUBE FAIRY is [Where very young chemists think lab equipment comes from?]. And yet they’re trusted with Bunsen burners.

I didn’t know OISEAUX, the [Birds, to Bardot], and I struggled with CLU Gallagher even though I have a feeling I’ve seen this in crosswords before. The fill reveals some compromises (hello, I HATE, OF ALL, SRTA, and ASE), but it also has some entries that only Merl can get away with (AN ITEM, AA LARGE) and was an overall entertaining solve. And anything honors Breaking Bad is aces in my book.

Favorite entry = BOO-HOO, clued as [“Poor baby!”]. Favorite clue = [Green machines?] for ATMS.

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22 Responses to Sunday, August 11, 2013

  1. Jeffrey K says:

    CS: 11 15-letter answers, including a triple stack crossing the other eight?!!!! And not a “ONES” to be seen. Martin for the win!

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: The theme was Middle Eastern- Biblical. There was ALLAH, SAHARA, BAHRAIN, NOAH, a HOOKAH, and echoing the theme, a CAMEL. AHEM, not sure how TAHOE fit in there…

    Agree with your assessment, Gareth. Well executed puzzle which made for a fun solve.

    And that MAS grid looks Awesome! I need to get some work done and try to do it, in spite of my rule to limit myself to the NYT ( too slow and yet too prone to getting addicted to games and puzzles).

  3. janie says:

    a 1-star rating for today’s wapo? really? the negatives outweigh the positives that dramatically? please enlighten. thx —


  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    The grid with 11 interlocking 15s is impressive, though I wonder about one pair of cheater/helper squares: at the end of 15D:MES/20A:AIR one can easily make MESS/AIRS (with MESS better than MES), and on the other side 45A:SPA/53D:CCS could be ASTA/ACCS, or even BABA/BCCS if we’re OK with (e-mail Bcc’s and) the variant spelling “A-HAH!”. Or is one of these new words already hiding elsewhere in the grid?

  5. Martin says:

    Noam says:

    “I wonder about one pair of cheater/helper squares: at the end of 15D:MES/20A:AIR one can easily make MESS/AIRS (with MESS better than MES), and on the other side 45A:SPA/53D:CCS could be ASTA/ACCS, or even BABA/BCCS if we’re OK with (e-mail Bcc’s and) the variant spelling “A-HAH”

    I thought about that too. AHAH is just fine, but ACCS and BCCS not so much (although BCCS is the best one, it would probably leave a few solvers scratching their heads). As for ACCS, I asked “The Cru”about this very entry a few months back, and got an almost unanimous thumbs-down. In the end I opted for the cheaters, especially considering that MES, while not English, is well known Spanish.

    Thanks for the feedback :)

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      You’re welcome. FWIW the xwordinfo database (which covers only NYTimes puzzles) has ACCS and BCCS but not AHAH.

    • Gareth says:

      I can’t see what could possibly be wrong with BCC. Almost everybody has sent an email by now.

      • HH says:

        AHAH would be okay if it was “AH AH” and clued something like “I wouldn’t do that if I were you”

  6. Martin says:

    Jeffrey K wrote:

    “CS: 11 15-letter answers, including a triple stack crossing the other eight?!!!! And not a “ONES” to be seen. Martin for the win!”

    Thanks Jeffrey! Somebody finally noticed the lack of “ONES” phrases in the 15s… all that effort was not for nothing.


  7. Papa John says:

    pannonica – I thought you were a bit tough on HEX’s “What a Relief!” I’m not much of a baseball fan but I found the short story that was revealed by the solve to be both entertaining and historically informative. Babe Ruth punching an ump – that’s worth the price of admission. Like you, I’m not at all fond of cross-referencing clues but the amusement I felt as the story unfolded kept me in the game.

    For a big Sunday puzzle, I didn’t find too many clunkers. I do agree with you about EGGY smelling more like sulfur, but, hey, it’s gotta work the other way ’round, too — right?

    • pannonica says:

      Thought I packed the bullpen with enough personal qualifiers, but perhaps not.

      On the bright side, I reread the write-up and corrected two egregious errors, one a typo and the other a formatting fumble.

      • Papa John says:

        Oh, yes, you made it perfectly clear that you were being subjective. My point then would be that, objectively, this was a well-crafted and entertaining puzzle. Your analysis even bears this out, I think. Even with all the many good things you had to say about it, in a most objective way, you end up giving it poor scores, seemingly based on your subjective viewpoint. I’m not saying, one way or t’uther is best. Ya gotta like what ya like.

    • pannonica says:

      On the matter of Egg v. Sulfur, I posit that it’s an asymmetrical relationship of equivalency. Or something like that.

  8. Martin says:

    Noam, the main problem with ACCS (as pointed out to me) is that the more common abbreviation is ACCT(S). ACCS is legit, but not very good fill, IMO. Anyway, you make a reasonable point, I just opted for the cheatered alternative in this case,


  9. Martin says:

    Gareth said:
    I can’t see what could possibly be wrong with BCC. Almost everybody has sent an email by now.

    Nothing, I probably should have used it in retrospect. At the time, I probably felt I had enough abbreviations in the puzzle. Yeah, CCS is an abrev too, but a very common spoken out loud one in medical dramas and elsewhere.

    If and when I reprint this puzzle (Sterling Books etc.)
    I’ll probably remove the cheaters and go with the BCCS option.


  10. Bob Bruesch says:

    In Reagle (Wash. Post) too many “stretched” puns (unfunny), too many multi-word crosses, too many foreign words. Not too much fun.

  11. zazzy says:

    Jeffrey, why do words have that silent “K”, you ask? For use in crossword puzzles, of course!

Comments are closed.