Thursday, August 15, 2013

AV Club 4:14 
NYT 4:11 
LAT 5:23 (Gareth) 
BEQ 8:08 (Matt) 
CS 5:16 (Dave) 

Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 15 13, no. 0815

This puzzle’s got left/right symmetry to accommodate the 11/13/15/13 theme. Nifty theme! The circled letters are pronounced the same as words:

  • 19a. [What the circled letter in this answer represents, homophonically], SEA OF CORTEZ. The “C” of Cortez.
  • 22a. [What the circled letter in this answer represents, homophonically], EYE OF THE TIGER. Obligatory link to ’80s Survivor music video here.
  • 42a. [What the circled letter in this answer represents, homophonically], BEE IN ONE’S BONNET. I started with YOUR bonnet instead of ONE’S because of They Might Be Giants’ “Birdhouse in Your Soul” (music video #2!). I didn’t get out to the TMBG show in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park last Saturday, but there was a Lollapuzzoola contingent who went together.
  • 47a. [What the circled letters in this answer represent, homophonically], SEE YOU IN COURT. A two-fer.

Highlights in the fill include PATSY CLINE (“Crazy,” video #3), Seals & CROFTS (video #4, “Summer Breeze”), ACAI BERRY, TORTES to MUNCH on, REHNQUIST.

I could see solvers struggling in the bottom middle, where Bobby MCGEE, ELGIN Baylor, and Taylor DAYNE cross UCLA, IGGY, and NEIN. And where SEQ ([Et ___ (footnote abbr.)]) crosses OEO ([Antipoverty agcy. created under L.B.J.]).

45a. [Relief might follow it] clues BAS. Anyone else have *AS and ponder whether GAS worked with the clue?

Four stars.

Sam Donaldson’s AV Club crossword, “Battery Change”

AV Club crossword solution, 8 15 13 “Battery Change,” Samuel A. Donaldson

This is the first (I think) of the American Values Club crosswords by a guest constructor. Sam’s theme has a battery of questions:

  • 20a. [Toss-up question?], HEADS OR TAILS? When the coin is tossed up.
  • 23a, 53a. [With 53-Across, loaded question?], HAVEN’T YOU / HAD ENOUGH? Question to a person who’s loaded (on liquor, not with money).
  • 38a. [Burning question?], WHERE’S THE FIRE?
  • 56a. [Leading question?], WHO’S IN CHARGE? Was this theme inspired by AL HAIG (22d. [Ron Reagan cabinet member with “control” issues])?

You will have noted that “leading question” and the other clue phrases are all standard phrases that include the word “question.”

What else I liked:

  • 1a. [It might inhibit concealment], GUN LAW. Well, not so much anymore.
  • 42a. [Short reply to “Hey baby, what’s your sign?”], LEO. It’s true.
  • 8d. [Get too old for foster care, perhaps], AGE OUT. There is an 18-year-old living at my sister’s house since he aged out, essentially. He wasn’t in foster care, but when he turned 18 his guardian no longer had a legal obligation.
  • 30d. [73, usually], ONE OVER PAR.
  • 44d. [Social networking “I can’t believe it”], SMH. “Shaking my head.”
  • 46d. [Shit in front of the kids?], “OH, CRUD.”
  • 50d. [Screech Powers, famously], DWEEB. Who doesn’t love a Saved by the Bell reference?

Four stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy crossword, “Rhyming Services” – Dave Sullivan’s review

First Tony Orbach puzzle I’ve reviewed since catching up with him at the recent Lollapuzzola – a very nice man and clever constructor as well. What more could you ask from someone? Anyway, today he offers us four rhyming theme phrases which end with a type of “service” (after yesterday’s “Service Station” puzzle, I’m wondering if this is “service” week at CS?):

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 08/15/13

  • [Person who watches your kittens?] is a LITTER SITTER – we’re heading to Boston for an overnight tonight and are in need of one of these…anyone available on short notice?
  • [Person who keeps an eye on your notebook?] clues a BINDER MINDER – Anyone under the age of 30 who owns a laptop is probably thinking why is a notebook called a binder. Le sigh.
  • [Person who looks after your pager?] is a BEEPER KEEPER – again, this skews a bit old as I imagine beepers have gone the way of binders.
  • A [Person who takes care of your body work?] is a FENDER TENDER – too bad there wasn’t enough room for the triple play of “fender bender tender.”

I enjoyed finding all these synonyms for someone who looks after things, but then thought it was a bit simple to complete the phrases given that the first word had to rhyme with it. I was a bit surprised to see that CD-ROMs are considered “antiquated”–after seeing binders and beepers not clued this way, this made me feel old in an ODDER way. My FAVE entry was the colorful PUFFIN, many of which I have been lucky to see when traveling north into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Less happy about the variant of FEZES, and was afraid Tony added that to complete a pangram, but see that other letters are missing from the alphabet, so I wonder why it was necessary.

Neville Fogarty’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times

A beautiful little visual theme Neville had for us today, yes? The revealer is SPINCYCLE. Each answer contains the letters of SPIN, encircled (probably, not all formats have the circles), between two words in the middle of the entry. As one proceeds down, starting with PINS, the first letter moves to the end of the sequence: PINS to INSP to NSPI to SPIN – rendering a “spin” cycle. All the answers are lively phrases from popular culture; although the first isn’t actually clued as the classic 1978 film. The theme answers in full are as follows:

  • 18a, [Poof], UPINSMOKE
  • 23a, [“Danger, Will Robinson!” sci-fi series], LOSTINSPACE
  • 37a, [“Lincoln” director], STEVENSPIELBERG. Was only dimly aware that he directed it, but then I had little interest in the film.
  • 53a, [Gilbert and Sullivan work subtitled “The Lass That Loved a Sailor”], HMSPINAFORE
  • 59a, [Washing machine phase graphically shown in this puzzle’s circles], SPINCYCLE

Quite a dense theme so the rest of the puzzle is suitably understated. There’s the almost obligatory pair of interesting long downs in ISITSAFE and ELDORADO; thereafter, Neville has focused on giving us good, clean grid. A few crossword-y, but legitimately famous names, like ERBE, UMA and CATE but really this as clean as a puzzle like this could be! I’ve never encountered APBIO before: it seems to be a fresh answer! I assume it’s applied biology, but what it’s applied to I’m not sure. If it gives people a reasonable grasp of their own biochemistry I’m all for it! I saw a White-breasted Cormorant (sometimes called a SHAG outside of South Africa, despite not having a [Layered haircut]).

4 Stars.


Brendan Quigley’s website crossword, “Drug Music” — Matt’s review

Hard to believe Brendan hasn’t done this theme before, considering that it combines two of the three title elements of this book. BEQ inserts recreational drugs into song titles with wacky consequences:

18-a [Really like heroin?] = LOVE SMACK, playing off the B-52’s’s “Love Shack”. You have to be insane to try heroin, for the record. And is there a stranger-looking possessive than “B-52’s’s”? But it’s correct.

24-a [With 40-Across, “That downer sure has feminine qualities”?] = LUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY. From Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”.

37-a [With 43-Across, stuff you’re about to snort off astronaut Collins?] = COKE ON EILEEN. From Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ 1980s standard “Come On, Eileen”.

51-a [Stoned student’s bribe?] = POT FOR TEACHER, riffing off Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”.

62-a [Smuggles heroin?] = RUNS HORSE. A bit odd two have two H references. Also, I don’t know what song this pun plays off; enlighten me in comments, will you?

BEQ-worthy fill:

HOLE PUNCH, RC COLA, PEACHES, AWARENESS and SEE YA. Also dig the 5×5 NW and SE corners. Best clue: [One unlikely to have a cow] for HINDU.

4.00 stars.

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17 Responses to Thursday, August 15, 2013

  1. Jeff Chen says:

    Hey all!

    Starting today will be featuring “Constructor’s Notes” as well as occasionally “Will Shortz’s Notes”. Jim Horne and I hope these features give you some insight into the human side of puzzle construction. Enjoy!


  2. John E says:

    Thought today’s NYT was a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle – I usually don’t get too excited over themes, but this one was inventive (at least for me). The SEQ/OEO crossing got me though (I admit – had to Google it).

  3. pannonica says:

    45a. [Relief might follow it] clues BAS. Anyone else have *AS and ponder whether GAS worked with the clue?

    No, but at 34a [Joe] I had –UD and first filled it BUD instead of MUD.

  4. Mark M says:

    I thought Acai Berries were “trendy” about four years ago?

  5. Gareth says:

    Beautiful, elegant puzzle Jeff! So simple! A real WITOT! Even if I thought I was going to have a space invader theme with that diagram! Now, on to Neville’s puzzle!

  6. Chris Popp says:

    Loved today’s NYT. Did anyone else notice the mini Katy Perry theme? There’s the title of her new single at 52D, and a lyric from the chorus at 22A.

    Thank you, Jeff Chen, for a great puzzle, and thank you, too, for continuing the greatness of XWordInfo. I enjoyed reading the extra notes on today’s puzzle, and I’m looking forward to the future ones.

  7. Byron says:

    What, no PEEINACUP?

  8. marc says:

    Runs horse is a play on Run’s House by Run-D.M.C.

  9. Lou says:

    AP Bio stands for an Advanced Placement Biology class.

    Found the both the NYT and LAT to be enjoyable solving. Thanks Jeff and Neville!

Comments are closed.