Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NYT 4:03 
LAT 4:15 (Gareth) 
Tausig untimed 
CS 6:37 (Dave) 

Vic Fleming and Bonnie Gentry’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 25 13, no. 0925

It’s late, I am tired from staying out late playing with a 3-month-old baby, and I’m going to speed-blog this puzzle.

Theme is this: 58d. LINE is a [Word that can follow each part of the answers to the six starred clues]. Those answers are HOT WATER, HARD TIME, BOTTOMLAND (which I’d never heard of before), AIR SUPPLY (aw, why wasn’t this clued as the sappy “All Out of Love” ’80s band?), BUS SERVICE (service line … that’s for tennis? Had to think about that one for a while), and DATE BREAD (that’s a thing?). Theme works all right, but it did not particularly entertain me.

Was stumped for a while by the clue 38a. [Hated to death, say?], for ANAGRAM. I always appreciate one of these anagram example clues.

The Scowl-o-Meter was triggered a few times:

  • 18a. [Prepare, as leftovers], RECOOK. No, that would be reheating or rewarming. The cooking process only happens once.
  • 54a. [Made illicit], TABOOED. The verb form is listed in the dictionary, but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered it in the wild.
  • JAI alai, plural ETHANS

Surprised (not unpleasantly) to see TEJANO in the grid (50d. [Selena’s music style]) rather than in a clue for the late SELENA.

Three stars.

Updated Wednesday Morning:

Mangesh ‘Mumbaikar’ Ghogre’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review

LA Times

Hmm, I don’t remember seeing nicknames in by-lines before (except CC)… If you’re confused, Mumbaikar is the demonym for Mumbai, and Mangesh is of course from Mumbai.

His puzzle is most unusual: it has left-right symmetry and is 14×16. Why? His theme answers are 10, 14, 12, and 12 letters long. These don’t pair up, hence the symmetry; this ordinarily requires odd theme-answer lengths, but not if your grid has an even number of columns. Clear? No? You have one more burning question don’t you. Why not just use different theme answers? Well, I’m guessing there weren’t a whole lot of options. Plus, this set are very lively and fun, and in the end that probably counts for more than rigorous adherence to crossword traditions…

(Actually, I tried coming up with a more conventional set of theme answers and it wasn’t too hard: CABINCRUISER, CALLCENTER [hah], WALTDISNEY, COREBUSINESS. So the reason seems to be down to whimsy: keeping all the theme answers as men’s full names. I’m all for whimsy though!)

Ok, moving on. The revealing answer is fresh (somewhat modern, and not found in the clue database I checked anyway) and punchy too. As the clue fore COREBUSINESS explains, there are three abbreviations, commonly seen after business names, to be found in the other three long answers. LTD (Limited) is in WALT DISNEY; INC (Incorporated) is in CALVIN COOLIDGE; and LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) is in RUSSELL CROWE. Except for LTD, these aren’t used in South Africa (I don’t know about India…) so I was trying to figure out if they’re mutually exclusive and/or form a complete set, but I’ve just found myself more confused; so some entrepeneurial commenter is going to have to help us out!

There’s lots to admire outside of the theme in Mangesh’s grid: in the corners we have GREWOLD, ALGERIA, VERYODD, RUBICUND, the contemporary USBPORTS and WOODSHED. The bottom-centre has IDUNNO, SOBEIT, ENIGMA and NOSEIN (I’m not familiar with that term personally, but it looks like a choice bit of fill, although I clung to NOcoIN for a goodly time!). I also liked seeing the plural MINIMA, but not everyone is as fond of technical terms! It’s opposite side features the linked IPAD and SIRI (with a more helpfully explanatory clue than the last time we saw her!) It’s also nice to see CGI getting more crossword traction. Also, the only slightly weak answers on my list are EUR and TRA. Thumbs for adhering to rigorous standards of fill!

Finally, two clues I’d like to mention. GREY was clued as [Overcast, in London] but we’d have also accepted [Like Mumbai skies, in monsoon season]. Secondly, I’m not too big a fan of [Garden pest] for ANT – [House pest] sure; but I think most people want ants in their gardens? Because they’re a vital part of a healthy eco-system…

To conclude, an interesting, off-beat puzzle with fun fill: 4 stars.


Updated (later) Wednesday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Chemical Reaction” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I thought I had reviewed just one other quip puzzle than the quip on that particular day. Well, here’s number three, just a few days hence:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 09/25/13


So the chemical reaction here is O (Oxygen) with Mg (Magnesium) producing OMg, or “Oh My God!” to texters. Now if joon is reading this, I wonder if he can tell us if these two chemicals would really react with each other and create this compound? And if so, what would it be like? As far as quips go, this one was quite good–both “hooked up with” and “I was like” sound very Valley Girl to me. As far as the rest of the puzzle goes, I find Bob’s puzzles the hardest of the CS bunch to begin with, and this one played almost like his super-gnarly “Sunday Challenges,” since the theme entries were not clued other than as parts of the quip. WATUSI for [Early ’60s “tribal” dance] was a fun find; here’s a video of it. The clues for GENERA ([Biology classes]) and TAROT ([Cards worth a fortune?]) also brought a smile to my face.

My FAVEs were the paired (and adjoining) entries: [Rolled food] for SUSHI and [Round food] for PIE as well as [“I’m satisfied”] for AAH next to [“Satisfied?”] for SEE. UNSET for [Not yet scheduled] seems a bit awkward to me, but not so much so that it deserves an UNFAVE award.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “The Good Guys”

Ink Well / Chicago Reader crossword solution, “The Good Guys” 9 25 13

This theme plays out on a couple levels:

  • 18a. [Second U.S. astronaut in space, after Alan Shepard], GUS GRISSOM. He’s a man whose initials are G.G.
  • 22a. [Jazzy composer of the early 20th century], GEORGE GERSHWIN. Ditto.
  • 36a. [Gangster who coined a term on September 26, 1933, when he yelled “Don’t shoot, [67-Across]!”], MACHINE GUN KELLY. Wait, what? We were playing the G.G. game and now there’s an old gangster nickname with a cross-reference in the clue.
  • 50a. [Journalist who published info leaked by Edward Snowden], GLENN GREENWALD. G.G. guy again.
  • 56a. [Pioneering black sportscaster], GREG GUMBEL. Got his big start on the Channel 5 news here in Chicago. We thought of Bryant Gumbel as Greg’s brother, not vice versa.
  • 67a. [See 36-Across], G-MEN. And there you have it, the theme all wrapped up in a bow. You could just have the four G.G. guys and this revealer, but it’s so much more interesting to learn the derivation of “G-men.”

So I liked the theme, which calls on a range of name familiarity from the early 1900s to the late 1900s to 2013, plus etymology.

Five more things:

  • 5a. [Nigerian currency], NAIRA. Not the most familiar word.
  • 47a. [Pirate’s body?], SEA. Body of water, wooden leg optional.
  • 2d. [What some third-wave feminists identify as], PRO-SEX. “Sex-positive” is the more common term, I believe.
  • 6d. [“Much ___ About Nothing” (“Simpsons” episode)], APU. This clue would be insanely hard without the parenthetical.
  • 52d. [Skywalker, e.g.], REBEL. Fresh clue. My son is learning about the Civil War in social studies, and it is quite possible that he is learning more about it than I ever have. They’re watching the History channel’s Gettysburg.

Four stars.

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19 Responses to Wednesday, September 25, 2013

  1. Gareth says:

    Basic theme, but very profesionally executed, with interlocking answers as well as some zip, with DATEBREAD and AIRSUPPLY (I too longed for a pop music clue!) Fill was generally held to a high standard, considering the presence of 6 themers… I liked TABOOED, but then I’ve encountered used as a verb, if infrequently.

  2. Hawkins says:

    I was relieved to find that 15A was not as I first filled it: radarERS. But then that was undone when REheat was actually RECOOK. Good puzzle otherwise.

  3. Gareth says:

    Dave: Yes, they would, but the resulting compound is MgO which ruins the quip…

  4. Martin says:

    Very elegant and smoothly-filled NYT today.

    For the record, I’ve definitely heard of, and eaten DATE BREAD … yum !


  5. ktd says:

    Last week a couple of us at work were making chemistry puns, but I hadn’t heard the OMG one before. I’ll have to share it. Here’s one that I like:


    Look out, the base is under a salt!

  6. sandirhodes says:

    WP: Sushi is NOT a ‘fish dish.’ It is a RICE dish that often includes fish. Sushi = rice.

  7. ahimsa says:

    I loved the LAT puzzle! I’m all in favor of whimsy. “Shabash” (well done) to Mangesh Ghogre!

    I do agree with @sandirhodes above about the SUSHI clue, though. I’ve eaten several vegan versions, e.g., nori rolls made with sushi rice and various kinds of veggies, no fish needed.

    I also enjoyed the NYT puzzle. I love those kind of clues for ANAGRAM. It reminds me of that great clue “antes up for peanuts.” And I have definitely heard of BOTTOMLAND. It may be more of a southern thing, or a farming thing, but it’s definitely a thing.

    PS. Did anyone else have a typo in the clue for 41 Across, “Gets ready to use, an an appliance” ? Shouldn’t that be as an? (source was the .PUZ file downloaded from NY Times web site)

  8. Papa John says:

    If you go down the highway a piece, there’s an area known locally as big bottomland, supposedly in honor of some of the women from those parts. (Amy – don’t get on my case. I’m merely reporting local folk lore.)

    Bottomland is usually fertile soil which follows a waterway or is regularly flooded. Most often it’s in a valley.

  9. Zulema says:

    As MAS said, smooth and elegant NYT, rare on a Wednesday (I said that).

  10. Art Shapiro says:

    I thought that magnesium and oxygen often end up in a rather impressive conflagration. Always enjoyed playing with magnesium ribbon as a kid.


  11. Brucenm says:

    All right, I’ll bite. [I’m not sure if this is regular curiosity, or “killed the cat” curiosity.] What are the implications and associations in feminist circles of the terms “pro-sex” or “sex positive.” Are the terms associated with a particular sexual preference? I won’t ask any more detailed questions out of fear that even the questions will offend somebody.

  12. Brucenm says:


    Thanks for your response. Interesting websites. I would discuss these issues further with you, but not in a public website — I don’t know you, don’t even know whether you are male or female, though I like and applaud your screen name. I will only mention in passing that, as a Michigan law grad, I have met and briefly spoken with the enigmatic Catherine MacKinnon, and know of her (different) associations with the strange Jeffrey Mousaieff Masson, and the equally strange Andrea Dworkin. There’s an odd pairing.

    Yes, there term “feminism” has so many meanings and usages that it has become almost meaningless. In the most basic sense, any rational, humane person, male or female is a feminist. Feminism is simply half of humanism.

  13. Brucenm says:

    “The term”, not “there term.”

  14. Ben says:


    I wouldn’t say that feminism is so variously defined as to be almost meaningless. There are different positions within feminism that may be at odds, to be sure, but the concept has a lineage that’s generally acknowledged. Moreover, it’s not so innocuous as to be obvious to any rationale person. Feminists have made and continue to make contentious claims, by necessity. What kind of movement would it be if they didn’t? The demands of the suffragists in the early twentieth century (the franchise, access to employment) may seem banal to us today, but that’s only because certain objectives were achieved that now we take for granted.

    The history of feminism is often described in terms of waves, and being “sex-positive” or “pro-sex” was an emergent strand in the so-called third wave of the late twentieth century. This wave was characterized by an emphasis on a primacy of personal choice that would not necessarily preclude decisions glossed by earlier feminists as regressive. Paint your nails, chop your hair off, be sexually conservative or screw all day – the movement away from doctrine suggested that any of these choices were valid. The context of free choice rendered these decisions feminist, not the values of the actions themselves.


  15. Doug says:

    I might be a bit late with this, but Re: Tausig – 60D says South Africa to Egypt direction. I looked at a map (assuming that South Africa means Republic of South Africa) and see a NNE direction.

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