Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NYT 3:48 
Tausig untimed 
LAT 4:40 (Gareth) 
CS 5:38 (Gareth) 

Sam Donaldson’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 16 13, no. 1016

Neat theme—Sam adds HIS or HERS to change familiar phrases and ties it all together with a 15:

  • 17a. [Blow away singer Johnny?], FLOOR MATHIS.
  • 23a. [Boars?], BACON FATHERS.
  • 35a. [Call it quits … with a hint to 17-, 23-, 48- and 56-Across]. THROW IN THE TOWEL. Does anyone actually have towels embroidered with HIS and HERS? I feel that I’ve never seen them in person.
  • 48a. [Sala?], HISPANIC ROOM. Love the riff on “panic room.” (Sala is Spanish for “room.”)
  • 56a. [Toddler raised on chocolate?], HERSHEY BABY. “Hey, baby!” It is, of course, child abuse to raise a toddler on Hershey’s. For Pete’s sake, get some higher-quality chocolate and not that waxy junk.

Top fill: MOO SHU, “I CHOKED,” “BE GOOD,” HORSE SENSE, “OH, MY,” PHREAK (old-school [Telephone system hacker]), and YOU ARE HERE.

Worst crossing: 38d. [Spiders’ nests], NIDI, meets 41a. [First Chinese dynasty], HSIA. I know that NIDI are nests only from crosswords.

I would grouse about the plural first name LEONAS (62a. [Hotelier Helmsley and others]) except that I just passed a Leona’s restaurant location yesterday.

Raise your hand if you remembered seeing 4d. [Volcano on Kyushu] in other crosswords before but misremembered the volcano’s name. *hand raised* I tried ABO before ASO peeked through the clouds.

3.75 stars.

Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review

LA Times

Cute theme by Ms. Klawitter today. Three answers begin with things presumably served at ICECREAMPARLORs (I’m really not too familiar with the establishments)… SPLITDECISIONS (banana splits), SHAKETHINGSUP (milkshakes) and CONEOFSILENCE (ice-cream cones). I hadn’t heard of the last answer, mysteriously clued as [Sitcom security device that often defeated its own purpose]. Apparently this is from the TV show “Get Smart”, I think I may have watched an episode once.

The rest of the puzzle was a tad uneven. There are only four theme answers, but 14/13/13/14 makes it a challenge to create a fillable grid. There were several nice answers, but also a few stinkers. All the answers of six or more letters that aren’t theme answers go down, so it’s no surprise that my highlights real is all downs! LASTLAP and DONEDEAL fall under colourful idiomatic phrases, while FORAGE, BLUISH and SENSEI fall under interesting vocabulary. On the other hand, we have the maximum (2) partials: UPONA and RIODE, plural IANS and the old-school crossword answer ORLE.

Three stars.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Repossession”

Chicago Reader / Ink Well crossword solution, 10 16 13 “Repossession”

The theme takes a phrase with a possessive apostrophe-S in it and adds another S. Not technically adding another layer of possession, as the new S attaches to the possessed thing rather than to the possessor, if that makes sense.

  • 17a. [Princes and princesses?], QUEEN’S SPAWN. From chess to royal families.
  • 30a. [Water vapor from right here in the US of A, dammit?], AMERICA’S STEAM. From sports to jingoistic science. Love the clue.
  • 45a. [Long rant about how the captain was mean, the shanties sucked, and everyone got scurvy?], SAILOR’S SCREED. See also: Moby-Dick.
  • 58a. [Specialty side dish for Norbit?], MURPHY’S SLAW. Norbit! I never think about that Eddie Murphy movie. Anyone see it? Anyone?

Top five clues:

  • 22a. [Purplish green, sometimes], KALE. Green is a noun meaning “salady veggie” rather than the color here.
  • 24a. [Go into private practice?], ENLIST. “Practice” as a private in the army.
  • 49a. [They’re milked for all they’re worth], UDDERS. Literally.
  • 5d. [Half of the duo on the album “You Eediot!”], REN. Ren and Stimpy had an album? I assume it has the “Happy Happy, Joy Joy” song.
  • 32d. [Inedible-pizza magnate Herman and his family], CAINS.

Did not know: 53d. [Early hip-hop group with “Strictly Business”], EPMD.

My FAVE (28d) fill includes LOVEFEST, Tim “the TOOL MAN” Taylor, HAWKISH, and SMIDGENS.

3.75 stars.

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy crossword “Parting Company” – Gareth’s Review

“Parting Company”

I had already seen a post from a Facebook friend saying how unusually easy it was for a Klahn. It was certainly easier than yesterday’s brutally challenging puzzle, but still up a notch from a regular CrosSynergy. The puzzle’s theme had me confused mid-solve. The three theme answers all sounded somewhat similar in meaning:

  • [“Good enough”], THATWORKSFORME
  • [“It’ll be OK”], YOUNEEDNTWORRY
  • And, somewhat less so, [Joe DiMaggio’s “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn,” e.g.], FAMOUSLASTWORDS

Unusually, this CS has not only a title, but also a revealer: TWO, as in TWO’s company. Each answer splits TWO across two words. There is a school of thought that such phrases should then only have two words, but the fact that these are 4, 4, 3 and 3 word phrases just meant extra pizzazz to me. It’s nothing special as a theme concept, but it facilitated fun answers, which is probably more important in this context!

As usual for a Bob Klahn, we have spectacular clues; he’s the best clue-writer in the business in my book, although he has a few rivals! We have a quirky pun in [Poplar spot to ski?] for ASPEN; [Stick that breaks?] CUE, as in used to break the rack at the start of a game of snooker or pool; [One with a stable career?] for GROOM; [Chicken dinner] for FEED; [Front lines?] for ISOBARS; [Zombie’s punch] for RUM – as in the zombie drink. I’d be delighted to find even two clues of that standard in a typical puzzle, and that’s six. Plus there were plenty more good’uns I didn’t list!

So yes, a simple theme, but interesting theme answers and lots of beautiful clues: 4.2 Stars

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26 Responses to Wednesday, October 16, 2013

  1. janie says:

    don’t know who owns ’em, but they’re definitely out there!

    loved sussing out the theme and the central crossing.



  2. Andrew says:

    NYT: I really liked this one. Great re-interpretation of the theme-revealing phrase.

  3. sbmanion says:

    I learned several things today, all triggered by LEONAS. DOWAGER is an SAT word. In medieval England a dowager was the widow who obtained a life estate upon the death of her husband. (So far, so good). I always thought the modern meaning was an imperious woman of power and authority. I use Martha Stewart and Leona Helmsley as examples. Apparently, it means a woman of high social standing and dignity. I thought it was closer to the B word and tell the story of how Leona Helmsley got seven years in prison for paying undocumented workers off the books and Martha Stewart got house arrest for insider trading. I thought that neither would have been sent to prison if they had not been, well, dowagers. As it turns out, my thoughts about Leona were completely wrong. She actually got 16 years (reduced on appeal to about a year and a half) and her crimes were more serious than paying undocumented workers off the books. I have always thought of her husband as the hotelier and she as the office tyrant. Now I am not even sure about that.


    • Papa John says:

      I think Martha actually did time, too.

    • JFC says:

      Leona, the “Queen of Mean,” Helmsley went to prison for federal tax evasion. She was deducting furnishings for hotel use that wound up in her Connecticut home. Harry was much older and out of it during this time and she was running the business. The Feds made an example of her. The Feds like to go after celebrities to intimidate the masses into compliance. There aren’t enough people in the Department of Justice to prosecute everyone who cheats on their taxes. The Helmsley Palace was a wonderful hotel.

      The Feds also made an example of Martha Stewart, charging her with insider trading and lying under oath to the federal authorities. She was not convicted of the insider trading charge but for lying to a federal official under oath. She would have been better off saying nothing. She also went to prison for a much shorter term than Leona but her greater punishment was losing control over her business empire.

      Both cases are examples of criminal greed by wealthy people. And in both instances the word “dumb” applies. Neither needed the money they thought they were saving by their misdeeds.

      This is all from memory so corrections are welcome.

  4. Amy L says:

    Please don’t say bad things about Hershey chocolate–there are Pennsylvanians out here! I think Milton Hershey should be considered a national hero. He developed the first affordable chocolate bar and made it available to everyone. Without him, all those luxury bars wouldn’t exist.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Hey, Amy! Where in PA are you? Checking in from Allentown. Wish I’d gone to med school at Penn State Hershey, where there are apparently bowls of Hershey’s Kisses on every nursing station…

    • Brucenm says:

      You probably know that Emily and Henry live in Hershey. My parents spent the last couple decades of their lives in Reading; — actually Mt. Penn — John Updike territory.

  5. Found this surprisingly difficult for a Wednesday, perhaps, partially due to me not sussing out the form of the theme until I was almost done. I solved it at least 4 minutes slower than my average Wednesday time!

    That said, it felt smooth, and there was nothing that I shouldn’t have been able to work out.

  6. ethan says:

    nice NYT! cute and fun NIDI / HSIA is inexcusable however. NUDI / HSUA looks equally likely to someone not in on those crossword factoids ….

  7. Brucenm says:

    Enjoyable, ultra-easy Wed. I’ve never had anything so cutesy as His – Hers towels, but I have friends who do, and I’ve seen lots of them.

    It helps that “le nid” is the French word for “nest.”

    I liked Ben’s a lot, notwithstanding several entries of the sort I don’t like, and a particularly annoying crossing at 1a and 5d. But a clever, well-executed theme, (though I think we saw something similar in an NYT a few years ago.)

    I hope the blog of the AV club puzzle tomorrow will explain it. It was both “(a) surprisingly easy to fill in, and (b) totally incomprehensible to me, as to what it means or signifies or what the theme is. I won’t say more, to avoid spoilage.

  8. Sarah says:

    Rated NYT 1 star due to:

    1) Incomplete revealer
    2) Theme did nothing for me
    3) ~25% crosswordese/dupes/obscurities/partials
    4) Some inaccurate/weird cluing

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      1) How is it incomplete? We don’t need to be spoon-fed the “his and hers towels” part.

      4) Such as?

      • Hh says:

        Why do you need a revealer? Are you that dumb?

        • Gareth says:

          Why do your puzzles have titles?

        • JFC says:

          I always thought this Blog was more civil than calling other people dumb. OH MY! Clearly, Sarah is ANNOYED with this puzzle, in part because she thinks the revealer is NO HELP. But that is no excuse for epithets. Calling people dumb SCARES AWAY other potential commenters and this Blog needs more not less of those. Makes me wonder if this isn’t a NIDus. Now, go ahead, HH, and stomp on me like a FLOOR MAT. I DARE you. Or you can BE GOOD. The choice is yours.

          PS. I assume HH stands for HERS and HIS.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            In general, yes, this blog does strive to be a particularly civil outpost of the internet. The commenter “Sarah,” however, is routinely intemperate and provocative.

          • JFC says:

            Intemperate and provocative I get. Dumb leaves me cold. However, not sure Sarah’s comment today was any of those, but merely an expression of an opinion, albeit with no examples cited in support thereof as to points 3 and 4. Don’t get Sarah’s first point. And as to her second, that strikes me as purely subjective and one I could not disagree with more for a Wednesday.

          • Papa John says:

            Calling people names is far below this blog’s standard, but not Hook’s. He can be down-right nasty, when he wants.

            Let’s not blame Sarah for Hook’s rudeness.

      • Sarah says:

        1) I got the theme, but the connection between “His and hers” and “throw in the towel” felt incomplete.

        4) 6D: It either floats or it doesn’t. There’s no ‘may’ float. But this was more of a general thing.

        And since someone asks for it, words I would try to avoid on a Wednesday:
        11A, 21A, 22A, 33A, 40A, 41A, 50A, 51A, 60A, 62A, 63A, 1D, 4D, 25D, 38D, 52D, 53D, 54D,

        • JFC says:

          1) The revealer was a “hint,” not a total give away, so you still needed to link it to the theme answers. In this instance it seems the theme answers were as much of a hint to the revealer as the other way around. His and Hers towels are not usually marked that way (except perhaps in certain hotels), but are usually merely divided or identified as such by their color (blue vs. pink). I think the theme and revealer are quite clever and are likely more appreciated in retrospect than while doing the puzzle.

          4) That is simply not correct. Pumice can either float or sink. It is a volcanic rock with air pockets, formed when gas is whipped through molten volcanic ash. Whether pumice floats is dependent on its density versus the number of air pockets in the particular sample piece.

          Without going through your entire list, admittedly most are crosswordese short fill. NIDI is pretty good stuff and several others are better than the rest. The larger point is that almost every puzzle has bad stuff but it’s easier to overlook it if the theme and longer fill is good and this one is a lot better IMO than you give it credit.

      • lorraine says:

        and 3) such as? I found no obscurities of any kind.

        I do appreciate Sarah’s willingness to at least accede to your request that all 1-star voters state their case(s) in the comments. That then clinches my 5-star vote to (try to) counteract the unfair (to me) 1-star vote.

  9. Alan D. says:

    For anyone looking for another puzzle to do, I thought this week’s Wall Street Journal GNC puzzle was genius.

Comments are closed.