Thursday, October 10, 2013

AV Club 6:10 
NYT 5:28 
Fireball 5-6 minutes 
LAT 4:52 (Gareth) 
BEQ 7:32 (Matt) 
CS 5:07 (Matt) 

Jeffrey Wechsler’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 10 10 13, no 1010

Nifty idea, solid execution. 36a. [All the time?: Abbr.] clues SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT, and it’s bookended by 3d: DESKTOP CALENDAR and 10d: APPOINTMENT BOOK. There are seven Down rebus answers crossing those abbreviations for the days of the week:

  • 36d. [Revered Chinese figure], {SUN} YAT-SEN. I had the Y from EAZY-E and gambled on a SUN rebus. An all-SUN rebus? Other space orbs? Weather-related terms?
  • 29d. [It may leave a sour taste in your mouth], LE{MON}. The jig is up: days of the week.
  • 6d. [Noël Coward play], EASY VIR{TUE}. Note that rapper EAZY-E is needed to avoid an EASY dupe … although actor Michael EALY crossing an obvious LEE clue would also have been fair. Ealy’s one of the stars of a new TV series with Karl Urban called Almost Human, and would you look at his eyes?
  • 26d. [“Anything else that you require?”], “ARE {WE D}ONE?” First rebus square to split the abbrev across two words.
  • 37d. [Athenian general who wrote “History of the Peloponnesian War”], {THU}CYDIDES. High-end fill there.
  • 38d. [2002 Salma Hayek film or its title role], {FRI}DA.
  • 15d. [Doesn’t leave], REMAIN{S AT}. Sort of a “meh” answer with that tacked-on preposition, but hey, it works.

Eight more things:

  • 13a. [Name that’s one syllable in English, two syllables in Japanese], ABE. Figured it had to end with a silent-in-English E, waited for the crossings.
  • 16a. [“Was ist ___?”], LOS. German for “What’s the matter?” I had DAS (“What is that?”) first.
  • 17a. [Custodial tool], DUST SWEEPER. Not sure what this is. A dust mop?
  • 56a. [Tie one on at dinner, maybe], BIB. We would also have accepted HAVEAGLASSOFWINEOVERSUPPER.
  • 1d. [Show eager anticipation], SALIVATE.
  • 12d. [“The New Yorker” cartoonist Ed], KOREN. Needed every crossing.
  • 27d. [Leader of ancient Troy?], TAU. Tau being the Greek letter T.
  • 40d. [Nonspeaking role on “CSI”], DEAD BODY. Most unsavory.

There’s a mild crosswordese vibe in the fill, but overall the rebus kept me occupied and entertained. 4.25 stars.

Andrew Ries’s Fireball contest crossword, “Drawing Conclusions”

No answer grid or spoilers, as this week’s FB is a contest puzzle. Just a few vagueish remarks instead:

Good puzzle, lively fill (particularly loved 3-Down), fun/interesting clues (favorites are 24a, 34a, 46a, 4d, 6d, especially 7d: [Birther in 2009 headlines?], 38d, 50d). The meta seemed mystifying at first but then it became apparent to me. This makes up for all those Week 3, 4, and 5 MGWCC metas I struggle so mightily with.

4.75 stars. Great job, Andrew!

Jennifer Nutt’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review

LA Times

I liked the extra layer here – not only shades of green, but they’re anagrammed! Five theme answers plus the revealer is a bumper theme, although I can’t help feeling one answer is not the like the others. LATEBLOOMER conceals TEAL, which doesn’t seem to form the pattern “x green” like the others. I can find instances of people using “teal green” on Google, but I feel it’s far from common.

    Today’s six theme answers:

  • [*Slow-to-develop sort], LATE BLOOMER. Teal green; see above
  • [*Precursor to adoption, often], FOSTERCARE. Forest green
  • [*Bargain hunter’s destination], FLEAMARKET. Leaf green
  • [Salad choice, and a literal description of the starts of the answers to starred clues], MIXEDGREENS.
  • [*21st birthday, e.g.], MILESTONE. Lime Green
  • [*Old TV title shown in a heart], ILOVELUCY. Olive Green

I like the theme arrangement Ms. Nutt used, with two pairs of across theme answers as well as a pair of downs. The trade-off is that there isn’t room for big stylish non-theme answers, but instead we have more theme squares!


  • [Kindle add-ons], APPS. That’s the e-reader that prevents you from using non-proprietary formats isn’t it…
  • [Personal strength], FORTE. I found this clue to be subtly misdirecting me into thinking of words like SINEW. Nice!
  • [George’s songwriting partner], IRA. Those are Gershwins if you were unsure.
  • [“Ring Cycle” goddess], ERDA. She doesn’t appear as often as you’d expect considering her letters!
  • [Pound spenders], SYRIANS. Nice trivia clue. Other countries with pounds are Egypt, Lebanon, South Sudan, Sudan, and the United Kingdom.
  • [Where many tennis winners are hit], ATNET. I hear ATTHENET more, but it’s a legitimate phrasing; I think used more in combinations, as the clue alludes to.
  • [Father of Moses],AMRAM. That’s a pretty third tier Bible figure!
  • [Pumpkin pie spice],NUTMEG. Colourful answer!
  • [Vegas hotel with a Sphinx re-creation], LUXOR. And another!
  • [New Hampshire city], KEENE. Pop 23,000. Is this something American’s know? I see they have a small college. I guess this angle takes pressure off Carolyn Keene though.

Clever theme idea, nice execution barring the aforementioned reservation, and a solid grid with one or two outliers… 3.25 Stars?


Donna J. Levin’s CrosSynergy puzzle, “Frantic Finales” — Matt’s reveiw

Yesterday we added “hill” to the last word of theme entries to get phrases; today we add “mad,” as follows:

17-a [Dress in one’s finest] = PUT ON THE DOG. New one for me.

26-a [Push an upper boundary, slangily] = TAKE IT TO THE MAX

43-a [Apt subtitle of a post-Depression celebratory song] = WE’RE IN THE MONEY

56-a [Movie in which Tom Cruise’s character is told, “You can’t handle the truth”] – A FEW GOOD MEN

These form mad dog, Mad Max, mad money, and “Mad Men.” As with yesterday’s similar theme, this is not earth-shattering but it’s entirely fine. Fill standouts: ADIDAS, BHUTAN, SNARFED, ENIGMA, BOXY and two-vowels-followed-by-five-consonants EIGHTHS.

Top clue: [It puts the “oom” in an oompah] for TUBA.

3.25 stars.

Brendan Quigley’s wesbite puzzle, “Brand Ex” — Matt’s review

Express review today due to extreme time pressure. Brendan adds EX to a word to form a nonsense phrase featuring a brand name:

17-a [Things that tell you when to get busy?] = SEX ROLEXES, from “sex roles.” Not sure why he used “things” instead of “wristwatches” here.

24-a [All the ingredients that go into gasoline?] = TEXACO MIX, from “taco mix.”

35-a [Cereal served with pimientos?] = OLIVE BRAN CHEX, from “olive branch.”

48-a [Very small watch?] = TINY TIMEX, from “Tiny Tim.” Now we see why he didn’t use “wristwatch” or “watch” in 17-a: to avoid a cluing dupe here.

57-a [Drink blue cleaning fluid through a straw?] = SUCK WINDEX, from “suck wind.”

I like it. And he snuck three more X’s into the fill just to show off. 4.20 stars.

Ira Kaplan and Ben Tausig’s American Values Club crossword, “Song Arrangements”

AV Club crossword solution, 10 10 13, Ira Kaplan & Ben Tausig, “Song Arrangements”

As AV Club puzzle subscribers know, the AVers are teaming up with celebrities to make crosswords. The first in this series comes from editor Ben Tausig working in tandem with Ira Kaplan of cult indie band Yo La Tengo. I do not know YLT’s music, but I have certainly seen [Kaplan of Yo La Tengo] clues in plenty of indie crosswords.

The theme plays with prepositions in song titles, pulling them out and taking them as literal instructions for wordplay:

  • 17a. [Relative to 21-Across, Dave Dudley song about trucking], “SIX DAYS on THE ROAD,” 21a. [See 17-Across]. SIX DAYS appears on top of THE ROAD. Dudley was a country singer back in the day; I don’t know this song.
  • 41a. [Title track for a 1978 Cheech & Chong film], SMOUPKE, or “UP in SMOKE.” There was a song? The movie title, certainly, is very familiar.
  • 66a. [Relative to 61-Across, what “you are” in a soaring Bette Midler ballad], “THE WIND Beneath MY WINGS,” 61a. [See 66-Across].
  • 11d. [Relative to 10-Down, Jackson 5 song in which the lyrics explain that it has no lyrics], “HUM Along AND DANCE,” 10d. [See 11-Down]. I had to turn to Google to figure out what preposition was missing from this song.
  • 40d. [Relative to 65-Down, number-one single for The Temptations in 1969], “I CAN’T GET Next to YOU,” 65d. [See 40-Down]. Another song I didn’t know; headed to YouTube and entered temptations i can’t get to discover the preposition.

So this was a tough puzzle for me, given my unfamiliarity with most of these songs. It’s a great theme concept, though.

And now, some more things:

  • 15a. [Either blank in “___, Girl, ___” (Three Times One Minus One song from “Mr. Show”)], EWW. I watched some Mr. Show back in the day, but not all of it. Crossings all the way here.
  • 24a. [Vegetarian Awareness Mo. as well as Eat Country Ham Mo.], OCT. I do not celebrate the latter.
  • 29a. [Feature at the rear of some airplanes], T-TAIL. I don’t keep abreast of aeronautics terminology, but we’ve all seen those jet tails with the T shape. And now I know that’s called a T-tail.
  • 37a. [Lydia Lunch : Teenage Jesus :: Ian McCulloch : ___], ECHO. Huh?? Shorthand for the bands Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Echo & the Bunnymen. I’ve heard of the latter, at least.
  • 49a. [Penn & Teller’s psychic gorilla and namesakes], MOFOS. I have not been keeping up with P&T.
  • 64a. [1997 Gheorghe Muresan/Billy Crystal vehicle], MY GIANT. Uh, yeah, I saw this movie. Formulaic but not absolutely terrible. I will say that I remember Muresan more for his Snickers cologne ad. “Is that cabbage?”
  • 72a. [“___-in’ in the Wind”  (“Simpsons” episode in which Yo La Tengo performed the closing theme)], D’OH. You gotta reference your celebrity constructor’s career somewhere in the puzzle, right?

3.75 stars.

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10 Responses to Thursday, October 10, 2013

  1. Gareth says:

    Hand up for DAS, not knowing what a DUSTSWEEPER is, and battling with KOREN (compounded in my case my deciding he could be a rOsEN). Quirky puzzle with all the rebus squares hiding in the middle! Was surprised 15d wasn’t linked to 40d…

  2. Martin says:

    Re NYT clue for DEAD BODIES:

    Wasn’t there an episode of CSI (or one of the CSIs) where several dead bodies came back to “life” in the morgue, to tell their stories? Or am I thinking of a different show?


  3. Howard B says:

    Clever puzzle. Could not parse the clue for OCD, so I ended up floundering right there in the center.

    Loved the theme, did not care for several of the rather extra-obscure cluing/fill in there (LOS phrase, general, etc). Those took away a little bit from a nice experience (weakness on my part, I know), but well done.

  4. Martin says:

    Thank you HH.

    Clearly Mr. Shortz should resign immediately over such a grievous error.



  5. sbmanion says:

    Wed. and Thur. were back to back Fridays for me. I finally got the theme with Sun Yat Sen. My difficulty was that I early on put in REMAINs and could not see the possibility of REMAIN SAT.


  6. Alan D. says:

    Keene, NH is pretty teeny tiny, even to a New Englander. No reason to know it that I know of. Because of its letters, though, it seems to pop up a lot when constructing a puzzle. For k$v?ne there’s only KEENE and KEANE (as in Bil).

  7. Norm says:

    Are you sure BEQ 24A wasn’t built off “T.A. Comix” rather than “taco mix”? ;)

  8. bonekrusher says:

    I love a good ambiguous clue that leads me the wrong way. In today’s NYT, there were at least 3 that I fell for:

    I thought people wait for DAYS instead of for TIPS
    and I reasoned that the OED instead of OCD were “repetitive initials” since Oxford and English can be kind of redundant.

    Fun puzzle!

  9. RK says:

    NYT Nice theme but felt like Howard B about some of the fill.

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