Friday, September 13, 2013

NYT 3:45 
LAT 9:00 (Gareth) 
CS 9:40 (Dave) 
CHE 5:59 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 11:37 (pannonica) 

Are you people following Million Second Quiz? Team Fiend’s Andy Kravis is doing us all proud as the guy in the #1 spot on Winners’ Row. His fans even have a special Twitter hashtag for him: #GingerGenius. One sample: “Not sure about the million second quiz thing or whatever, but gingers are my weakness. #marriagematerial #gingergenius”

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 13 13, no 0913

Easy themeless, no? And a beautiful swath of open space in the middle of the grid.

I watched Million Second Quiz on the DVR after going to Open House at my kid’s school, and then showed my husband the finals of MasterChef UK: The Professionals, and next thing you know it’s an hour and a half beyond puzzle launch and I haven’t blogged yet. So I’ll be brief.

Surprised to see LETT and TASS in the grid. Both are so resolutely “meh.”


  • 35a. [Like each word from this clue], FOUR-LETTER. Damn. That one’s nice.
  • 14a. [Reading light for an audiobook?], LASER BEAM. For an audiobook that’s on CD.
  • 29a. RUMOR HAS IT this is a nice entry.
  • If you simply must have STET in your puzzle, why not cross it with STETSONS?
  • 13d. [Shakespearean stage direction], EXEUNT. Exeunt omnes. Y’all get the heck out of here.
  • 15d. [Depression creator], METEORITE. Whereas the banking industry creates recessions.
  • The body parts party: IRON LUNG, GLUTEI, CARPI, SCLERA.

Four stars.

Updated Friday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “It’s Up for Sale” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Although I’m not usually beset with bouts of triskaidekaphobia, the infelicitous confluence of a Bob Klahn puzzle on Friday the 13th did give me a bit of pause. Today, he offers us three theme phrases that feature the word SALE reading from bottom to top of the grid:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 09/13/13

  • [Verbal whipping] was a TONGUE LASHING – great phrase.
  • [One who “never said no,” in a traditional Scottish folk song] was BONNIE WEE LASSIE – hmmm…I wouldn’t advise this as a course of action for adults.
  • [Da Vinci painting once cut into to enlarge a doorway] clued THE LAST SUPPER – you tried The Mona Lisa first, didn’t you?

I enjoyed the theme idea, but wish that middle entry was a bit more common, as Scottish folk songs are far from my ken. As typical with puzzles from the atelier of this constructor, I struggled with many of the clues and finally made some progress beginning in the NUN / URN / EISNER / RIDDLE middle section and built out from there. I particularly enjoy linked clues (I don’t mean cross-referenced, btw), such as [Caterer’s coffeemaker] for URN almost next to [Coffeemaker sound] for DRIP, although my coffeemaker’s primary sound is that of the beeps it emits when it finishes. Other FAVEs were OWN GOAL, ESPRIT, I’LL SAY! and NO MATTER. I confused KASHA with the cereal brand, but I learned today it’s a grain (think buckwheat) that is used in knishes. Don’t walk under any ladders today!!

Alan Olschwang’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Art Centers” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 9/13/13 • “Art Centers” • Olschwang • solution

A very knowing puzzle, this one. Tongue in cheek with a wink and a nod, legs up with a book and a drink. So yes, I kind of love it.

Some of crossworddom’s favorite visual artists come out to play on more expansive canvases, appearing hidden-word style in longer entries.

  • 18a. [Wrinkle remover of a sort] STEAM IRON. Joan MIRÓ, Spanish (Catalan), 1893–1983.
  • 23a. [Having a ragged border, as paper] DECKLE-EDGED. Paul KLEE, Swiss, 1879–1940. Erose, even!
  • 37a. [How biscuits may be prepared] SOUTHERN STYLE. Max ERNST, German, 1891–1976. Not sure what Southern style biscuits entail.
  • 51a. [Like Madeline in “The Fall of the House of Usher”] BURIED ALIVE. Salvador DALÍ, Spanish, 1904–1989. Poe, surprise!
  • 57a. [Certain placebo] SUGAR PILL. Jean (Hans) ARP, German-French (Alsatian), 1886–1966.

A real rogues gallery, at least in context. It just so happens that all five are—well, were—men, but that isn’t exactly surprising. Until recently (and still, in a residual way), the arts have been dominated by privilege and masculinity. Look, this was a local radio story just this morning: “What’s Hot in the Fall Art Season? White Men”  And speaking of which, there’s 24d [All-male drama form] KABUKI, which I would have been tempted to clue [Hackneyed term for political theatrics].

All the themers consist of two words, and the artist’s crossword-friendly surname spans the two words. Contrary to a strictly literal interpretation, they aren’t precisely in the center of the entries, but neither do they reach either terminus, so it’s good.

My time was a little long on this one because of frequent missteps. For example, at 42a [Storm’s place, in metaphor], with the first few letters in place, it was obviously the old tempest in a TEA— something; I went with TEAPOT, which made 40d [Sushi choice] TO––, which I naturally completed as TORO … but in actuality it was TEACUP, TU––, and the more generic TUNA. There was at least one other similar hold-up, but I can’t recreate it. Perhaps it was at 46a [Garland worn on the head] with –––DEM, and which I wanted to be the inaccurate DIADEM (this logically would have had to precede my personal TEAPOT/CUP controversy) and which was in fact ANADEM.

Spanish (Catalan), 1874–1945

Figure vs ground:

  • 10d, 50a [Dunderhead] TWIT, ASS.
  • 2d [100% wrong] ALL WET, which is a great phrase which doesn’t see enough action these days.
  • 64a [Chain founded by Ingvar Kamprad] IKEA. It’s an acronym, beginning with his initials and completed by Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up) and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland).
  • 30a [Boot-camp command], with ATE––– in place, I could only think of something like, A-TEN-HUP but it was the familiar AT EASE. Obviously I’m not ARMY (36a) material.
  • 35d [Exist] ARE, 61a [Didn’t exist] WASN’T.
  • Spiffy crossing in the southeast, EVINCE and EDUCE.
  • 37d [Steinway & __ (piano manufacturer)] SONS. The venerable family business was recently sold to a hedge fund for over half a billion dollars. Recommended: Note by Note: the making of Steinway L1037 (2007).
  • Unfamiliar to me: 45d [Accept a bad situation, informally] LUMP IT. Would have easily believed LIMP IT.
  • 54d [It may be manicured] YARD, not LAWN. Why are they never pedicured?

 Perversely entertaining crossword.

Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times

OK, I really don’t what’s up with all the clue/answer reversal themes we’ve been having in the last few months. As I’ve already said, I’m no fan of the genre in general terms. This one has five definitions of [Legs]. Of those two are rather too similar to co-exist, in my book: RELAYRACESTAGES and VOYAGEPARTS. ZZTOPCLASSIC is the big highlight, and was a nice a-ha moment when it finally emerged: it was rather mystifying initially. The other two [Legs] answers are CRABMORSELS and STAYINGPOWER.

We got some real doozies in parts of the grid: the BABUSHKA (link to the brilliant Kate Bush song, that inexplicably wasn’t a hit in the US)/SHIHTZU/TOPAZ/EQUIP is superlatively filled. TOOTOO, REDCROSS, and MEGRYAN (whose name was embarrassingly hard to parse) are also great answers!

On the other hand, I don’t really understand the need for another X in the bottom-left – a random Roman numeral is the type of answer I’d want to avoid as far as humanly possible, so to find it a relatively quiet corner, albeit one with ZZT as its top row, was awkward to say the least.


  • 66a, [Dairy farmer’s fistful] is a defensible, if mostly obsolete clue for>
    TEAT. [Subsistence dairy farmer’s fistful] is maybe better; most even small dairy farmers have milking machines and only milk manually if the cow has mastitis or something of that sort.
  • 3d, [Where the Tigris meets the Euphrates], IRAQ: because SHATT-AL-ARAB wouldn’t fit.
  • 5d, [Only Canadian MLB team], TOR. One for Jeffrey!
  • 6d, [Martini’s partner], ROSSI. HENRY has the same number of letters!
  • 8d, [Cosmetics counter array], COLOGNES. COMPACTS has the same number of letters! I actually had that for a goodly time!
  • 23d, [Kraft coffee brand], YUBAN. New to me, and not sold here. Seems to be a good answer though!
  • 34d, [Rise in the West], MESA. Beautiful clue!
  • 46d, [Reagan’s role in “Knute Rockne, All American”], GIPP. New to me too. Not sure I have the desire to go and find out what it’s all about though…

Outside of the theme, this was a very well-made puzzle; I know it isn’t exactly this puzzle’s fault, but I feel I’ve reached saturation point with definition puzzles. 2.5 Stars.


N. Venkatasubramanyan and B.E. Quigley’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Miss the Start” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/13/13 • “Miss the Start” • Fri • Venkatasubramanyan, Quigley • solution

Back on 17 January of this year, Amy was decrying the reduced font size in the .pdf printout of a daily (15×15) NYT crossword:

You know what is noticeable in the PDF? Just how tiny the constructor’s byline is. Smaller type than the clues! And given that we have never had a puzzle with a byline as long as, say, “By Brendan Emmett Quigley and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan,” the layout really does have ample space for a larger byline font.

I wonder if this puzzle’s collaboration was inspired by that very statement. The Across Lite version initialized the constructors’ first names, but the .pdf version reproduces them in all their protracted glory. Despite the acreage afforded by the 21×21 grid (and a brief title), it still required two lines:

Oh wait—down in the comments BEQ strongly implied that there was already such a puzzle (this one?) in the pipeline, or the works, or lying around somewhere.

On to the matter at hand. Now that I’ve substantially augmented the beginning of this write-up, it seems fair that this puzzle’s theme involves forgoing the starts of entries. Specifically, the first letter of a film title, which lexicographically approximates the situation of arriving at the movie theater too late and missing the beginning of the feature.

  • 23a. [Weigh down the sprinter?] LADE RUNNER (Blade Runner, 1982).
  • 28a. [Part of a weatherman’s job?] RAIN SPOTTING (Trainspotting, 1996).
  • 37a. [Cardiac cords?] LACES IN THE HEART (Places in the Heart, 1984).
  • 58a. [Flatulent fellow?] ONE WITH THE WIND (Gone With the Wind, 1939).
  • 78a. [Time to employ the French pleasure principle?] ID NIGHT IN PARIS (Midnight in Paris, 2011).
  • 97a. [Gay dating service?] HE SOCIAL NETWORK (The Social Network, 2010).
  • 105a. [Penny’s penny?] CENT OF A WOMAN (Scent of a Woman, 1974, remade in 1992). Only themer to retain homphony, somewhat apt, as the plot concerns a blind man.
  • 117a. [Have no shot at a modeling career?] LACK BEAUTY (Black Beauty, 1921, 1933, 1946, 1971, 1978  (tv), 1994). On the other hand, there is this UK modelling agency focussing on atypical aesthetics. And there’s currently a show featuring many of those individuals, by the photographer Matilda Temperley at the London gallery, Cock N Bull.
  • 3d. [Decrepit digit?] OLD FINGER (Goldfinger,1964).
  • 32d. [Yiddish yarn?] OY STORY (Toy Story, 1995).
  • 72d. [Reaction to King Kong?] APE FEAR (Cape Fear, 1962, remade 1991). Only themer to contain another notable film title in the clue.
  • 83d [Animal that may be put out to pasture?] AGING BULL (Raging Bull, 1980).

Cute theme, good mix of entries, some genuinely entertaining. But what truly made the difference for me were the many sparkly, clever clues sprinkled throughout the grid. Some favorites:

  • 40d [Where to get a flying start?] NEST.
  • 79d [Person with no cause for alarm?] INSOMNIAC.
  • 84d [Smart phone?] SHOE, Control agent Maxwell Smart’s phone.
  • 100d [Starbuck’s job] WHALER. Pay attention to apostrophes, people!
  • 107d [Feature presentation?] FACE.
  • 47a [It’s Big in California] SUR. Pay attention to capitalization, folks!
  • 48a [Sign of a thick brogue?] EEEE. A very wide shoe, not a broad accent. Kind of a groaner. See also the similarly grim-but-saved-by-the-clue four-letter 90a [E tailers?] FGHI.
  • 51a [One who comes out of a pool] JUROR.
  • 123a [Quiet companion] PEACE. See also 7d [Today’s music to parent’s ears] DIN, and even 103a [Noise drowned out by vuvuzelas] RAH.
  • 115a [Dealt with a faulty pilot] RELIT.

Other notes:

  • Multiples: 1d, 111a [Sick-looking] PALE,WAN. 125a [Woodworking aids] RASPS, followed by 126a [Woodworking aid] GLUE.
  • More subtly strong clues include: 1a [Drudge] PEON (nouns!), 8d [Attendant] GOER (another noun! SLIER (88a) than if it had been clued [Attendee], 81d [Quite bright] NEON.
  • Uncommon, unusual names: ISERE, ORAN, Thom MAYNE, WEENA, Manny TRILLO, MICAH.
  • Too many partials, quasi-partials and allies for my taste. Including: ARE WE, AN ERA, A MESS, GRIN AT, IT IN A.
  • A good number of well-worded colloquial clues, the kind that are in quotes. Example: 14d [“Copy that”] I GOTCHA, 35d [“Boring!”] LAME.

Pretty good theme effectively bolstered by predominantly strong cluing among the ballast material.

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22 Responses to Friday, September 13, 2013

  1. Martin says:

    No comments yet? OK , I’ll go first,,,

    … this is pretty much a textbook example of what a good wide-open themeless should look like. As usual. PB makes it look easy!

    -Martin Ashwoood-Smith

  2. Martin says:

    … and for my next act, I’ll learn to spell my name!


  3. Gareth says:

    I dunno about easy, I found it uniformly slightly tougher than a typical Friday – not much in the way of obvious gimmes. As always an impressively solid grid, but not a lot that had me excited either. RUMORHASIT made me think of Adele so there’s that, and I like LANOLIN and the pair of anatomy answers (GLUTEI and SCLERA) though I expect to be in the minority with those. [Change places] was a sublime clue!

  4. Wix Simon says:

    Wrist bones are carpals. Carpal is singular. Carpi is the plural of carpus, whatever it is.

    • Gareth says:

      One carpus is all of the carpal bones in one wrist… [Wrist bones] could clue CARPUS satisfactorily. If you have more than one CARPUS you still have [Wrist bones]…

  5. Matt says:

    Fine puzzle, on the easy side for me. Lots of good words, easily outnumbering the few mehs. LAVORIS was certainly a blast from the past, although the Webmind says the secret ingredient in Lavoris is XYLITOL. See

    for more.

    Edited to Add: Zantrate(R) is there too.

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: elegant, spare, beautiful. Each of the 3 stacks (7,8,7) running from NW to SE is a small work of art, and the combination remarkable. I want to be able to write scientific papers the way he creates puzzles– smooth, seemingly easy, not unduly showy and yet rich and rewarding.

    I love the word HULKING…

  7. sbmanion says:

    It took me quite a while to understand why LASER BEAM worked, even though I could see it had to be the answer.

    I have been reading some websites about breaking in a glove. When I was young, I used some kind of motor oil and have read that oils are not good because they get into the pores of the glove. The sites also say that putting a ball in the center of the mitt and tying a string around the glove to hold the ball in is not recommended either. I did that every year as well. The only thing I did do right was to play catch every day, which is the single most recommended approach to breaking it in. I still chuckle at a catcher’s mitt my father gave me (he was a high school baseball coach) that never did break in even after eight years of use. It did have the advantage of being so thick that a Nolan Ryan fastball or a bazooka shell for that matter would not hurt your glove hand while wearing that mitt.

    Does anyone know why Notre Dame and Ohio State played each other in 1935 and 1936, then did not play again until 1995? The game of the century in 1935 was supposed to be an Ohio State rout. Ohio State led 13-0 going into the fourth quarter and Notre Dame scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win the game. It was Ohio State’s only loss that year. The next week Notre Dame lost at home to ———-Northwestern.


  8. Jeffrey says:

    Gareth: “5d, [Only Canadian MLB team], TOR. One for Jeffrey!”

    Yes, because Jeffrey loves being reminded that the other Canadian MLB team is no more.

  9. Brucenm says:

    Liked Ms. Varol’s LAT much better than the consensus. Do we know her? Is this a Day Boo? Congrats, Patti.

    • Jeff Chen says:

      Patti helps Rich with his correspondence to constructors. Plus, apparently a spitfire to boot! I had dinner with Rich and Kim a month ago and they gushed about her awesomeness.

    • Gareth says:

      Um, she’s the assistant editor of the LA Times (may not be an official title). This is, by my count, her 15th puzzle for the LA Times.

      A quick way to find a constructor’s previous puzzles is to either click the link at the end of the blogposts before the comments start that says something like “This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged Alan Olschwang, Bob Klahn, Brendan Emmett Quigley, Narayan Venkatasubramanyan, Patrick Berry, Patti Varol. Bookmark the permalink.” or use the combobox that says “Tags” and select the constructor there.

      • Brucenm says:

        Apologize to her, then, for not knowing her name, but still liked her puzzle.

        • Gareth says:

          With the number of crossword constructors between all venues numbering in the hundreds one can hardly expect to keep track of everybody!

          (Which is why I pointed out the Tags. I confess to having used it a couple of times when encountering a by-line I wasn’t sure if I’d seen or not…)

  10. Brucenm says:

    Has anyone done Ben’s bonus puzzle “Something Different”, modeled somewhat on Trip’s ‘Wacky Weekend Warriors?’ I’ve got most of it, except for a couple holes in the SW, which are frustrating me.

  11. Brucenm says:

    If no one else is going to complain about the intersection of {O’ Loughlin of Hawaii 5-O} and {Michael of Juno} in the wsj, I’ll be happy to shoulder the burden. Echoing what Pannonica said about a BEQ of a couple days ago, that wiped out the same little section for me in SW Texas, (although in that earlier BEQ, I knew the names.)

    • Martin says:

      It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who doesn’t know Michael Cera. He was a star of “Arrested Development,” which had at least cult status for quite some time. “Juno” was not exactly unheard of and his nebish loser persona has been seen in any number of nebish loser movies since, like “Superbad” and the recent “This is the End.”

      Coming of age movies aren’t exactly my thing either (although “Juno” was great), but he’s made enough of them that you have to avoid Letterman/Leno as well as “Arrested Development” and all the movies to not know him.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Given how uncommon the Alix spelling is and how nonexistent Alax, Alox, and Alux are, was there really any doubt how to fill that square, Bruce?

  12. Zulema says:

    Guess, I’ll put my two cents in here. I don’t know Michael Cera but don’t feel sorry for me. I do know Ryne Sandberg and last week’s (was it?) Jeff Kent.

Comments are closed.