Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NYT 3:31 (Amy) 
Tausig untimed (Amy) 
LAT 5:06 (Gareth) 
CS 4:49 (Dave) 

Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 23 13, no. 1023

Fun theme! Familiar board/party games double up:

  • 17a. [Tornado monitors?], TWISTER CHECKERS.
  • 29a. [What the only detective on a case has?], CLUE MONOPOLY.
  • 48a. [What a remorseful Iago might have said?], “SORRY, OTHELLO.”
  • 62a. [Doubleheader … or what 17-, 29- and 48-Across are?], BACK-TO-BACK GAMES. I’m not sure if this is a contrived phrase or if sports people use the phrase.

I might have liked the theme even more if the revealer had been swapped out in favor of a fourth game pair. Any suggestions of other 15-letter combos?


  • 3d. [High-pitched group with a 1958 #1 hit, with “the”], CHIPMUNKS. Would be helpful to provide the title of said 1958 hit, no?
  • 6d. [Rush-hour subway rider, metaphorically], SARDINE. It’s because commuters are often packed in oil.
  • 46d. [Half a police interrogation team, maybe] GOOD COP.
  • 35d. [“Lost in Yonkers” playwright], NEIL SIMON.

I’ve got a grammar question about one clue: 10a. [Uttered, as a farewell], BADE. Not sure about this one. Is it the farewell that’s being bid, or the person who’s being bid farewell?

Four stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Floor Leaders” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Five types of floors end four theme entries in today’s CrosSynergy puzzle:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 10/23/13

  • [NCAA hoops tournament, familiarly] was THE BIG DANCE – I like the mental image of basketball players asking each other out to a dance; a “dance floor” is where it would happen.
  • [Falls behind in a footrace] clued LOSES GROUND – as anyone who has travelled to Europe knows, the first floor is NOT the ground floor. The ground floor is either “floor zero” (and floors below that are negative!) or it is rez-de-chaussée in French-speaking countries (abbreviated as R.C.). Pretty confusing–I hit 1 in elevators too many times on our recent trip when I wanted the ground floor.
  • [Insignificant amount] was A DROP IN THE OCEAN – “ocean floor.”
  • Something I’d rather not think about, a [Nag’s destination] was a GLUE FACTORY – are there such things anymore? A “factory floor” is where things are manufactured, and I’m using “things” in the very technical sense of the word.
  • [Peer-to-peer music swapping, e.g.] clued FILE TRADING – a “trading floor” is where traders in the stock market work. So much of that is now computerized, I wonder how many traders actually talk with one another on a physical floor?

Interesting theme and pretty dense grid with five entries. My FAVE goes to the clue [Pass out at the table] for DEAL. Nice misdirection there. E-BONDs are a bit obscure ([WWII investment option]), but since I believe these were the common savings bonds we were all given as children when we were in school, I’ll give it a pass (or maybe those were EE bonds now that I think about it). My UNFAVE goes to dictator Mobotu SESE Seko, who has the distinction of being installed by the US and then proceeding to amass an incredible fortune at the expense of the citizens of his country of Zaire. He’s also known for multiple human rights violations there. Keep him away from our puzzles, please!

C. C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times

Colour themes are a well-worn theme trope. I’m going to wager that numerous “shades of red” puzzles have been done in the past. It’s possible this particular theme has been done too; however it was fresh to me, and unexpected! I saw the red part early and confess I rolled my eyes a bit. Then I got to REDCROSS (8-letters, which is why the puzzle is 16×15) and was impressed at the creative spin this puzzle has! Two pairs of answers intersect at parts that are shades of red. It’s worth noting that one each of the down answers and the across answers are at the front / back of the word; an unusual touch, but also a bit of refreshing variation facilitated by the revealer. (Normally it would be too confusing and make the theme too difficult to spot.)

Ok, the theme answers:

  • 21a, [*Small fruit first cultivated in Oregon], BING CHERRY. I briefly considered that a “phrases beginning with search engines” theme at this point.
  • 41a, [Humanitarian symbol, and a hint to what happens where the answers to starred clues intersect], RED CROSS
  • 58a, [*Vin Scully will be its 2014 Grand Marshal], ROSE PARADE. I have no idea who Mr./Mrs. Scully is, and only a vague idea of what the Rose Parade is. It’s in California? Yes!
  • 12a, [*Chain named for a Stones hit], RUBY TUESDAY. Classic song!
  • 24a, [*”Clue” suspect], MISS SCARLET.

Generally this slightly larger grid played quite lively, with an offbeat feel due to the unusual arrangement of theme answers. Personal favourites included DOTELL, TRIVIA, INTROUBLE, LASCALA, ITSADEAL, MISHMASH, IMDEAD, CHARIOT, HOTOVEN (initially I considered it a “red car” answer, but then I realised that it’s used in those extremely pedantic cooking instructions!), LASIK, CHARADES, and TOPEKA. That’s quite a list, nê? Similar to Amy’s objection above, I wasn’t overly pleased to encounter murderous dictator PAPADOC Duvalier, but on balance a most entertaining smorgasbord of answers!

4.3 stars

Ben Tausig/Taussig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “My Bad”

Ink Well / Chicago Reader crossword solution, “My Bad” 10 23 13

This week’s theme is about mispelled words (sic).

  • 17a. [Name on the label of the world’s most popular soft drink, until the year 1009], COCO-COLA. Wrong year in clue, answer should be COCA-COLA.
  • 24a. [IcyHat, e.g.], TOPCAL ANALGESIC. Should be IcyHot, TOPICAL.
  • 45a. [Genre associated with LDS]. PSYCEDELIC MUSIC. LSD, not the Mormons, and PSYCHEDELIC.
  • 58a. [Programming language created by Bill Gates and Woody Allen in the 1970s], MICROSOOFT BASIC. Paul Allen, not Woody Allen, and MICROSOFT.

I love the LDS/LSD swap, don’t you? It embodies just the right amount of dissonant surprise.

Five more things:

  • 33a. [Letter similar to a German Eszett], BETA. Lo, the many times I have edited a medical paper by an author who had no idea how to get a beta into the manuscript, so they used ß instead of β. The former is equivalent to “ss,” while the latter is a Greek “b.”
  • 4d. [Leader repeatedly praised in the (doctored) Mandarin edition of Bill Clinton’s “My Life”], MAO. Would you rather have 90% of your book available to the Chinese readership, or none? Because 100% is not an option for the Chinese censors.
  • 7d. [Giant play opening, e.g.?], SNAP. The New York Football Giants, as opposed to large people, an adjective, or the San Francisco Baseball Giants. When I test-solved this puzzle, the clue seemed cruel as the Giants had not won a game, but now they have.
  • 23d. [Like Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani], QATARI. He’s quite young.
  • 25d. [Moves very much unlike Jagger, more like sludge], OOZES. Heh. Will Mick ooze when he’s in his 90s?

3.75 stars. I like intentional errors so much more than the inadvertent ones.

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14 Responses to Wednesday, October 23, 2013

  1. Davis says:

    According to the Wiki said 1958 hit was entitled “The Chipmunk Song,” so that obviously couldn’t go into the clue. Though the parenthetical subtitle, “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” would have worked there.

  2. Sean says:

    Meant to rate this NYT puzzle as 4 stars and fat-fingered it as 3 – my apologies.

    BADE is a valid past tense of BID – I bid you farewell today, but I bade you farewell yesterday.

    I enjoyed the puzzle – it was perhaps on the easy side for mid-week, I think, but really clean, and I got a kick out of SORRY OTHELLO in particular.

    • pannonica says:

      BADE is a valid past tense of BID – I bid you farewell today, but I bade you farewell yesterday.

      That isn’t what Amy was questioning. She mused about subject and object of the bidding. Working from the appropriate m-w definition, “to give expression to <bade a tearful farewell>,” it would seem the clue is correct as written.

      • Daniel Myers says:

        Just to round up the grammatical niceties here: In a sentence such as “I bade him farewell.”, “farewell” is the direct object whereas “him” is termed the indirect object…of the past tense verb “bade”, of course.

        This distinction is perhaps clearer in a sentence such as: “I gave them a grammatical lecture. ” “lecture”=DO “them”=IO

  3. Mac says:

    I wouldn’t call back to back games a contrived phrase – it’s a common phrase in the sports world.

    • Howard B says:

      Seconding Mac here. BACK-TO-BACK-GAMES is used very commonly in that arena, for sports that schedule a large number of games. (baseball, basketball and occasionally hockey).
      Luckily football doesn’t schedule these, or there would be some extremely large, sore, angry players to deal with.

    • sbmanion says:

      I agree that back-to-back games is not a contrived phrase in the sports world. I would not use it to describe a double header, however, although double headers are indeed back-to-back games. Double header or twin bill is more appropriate for that situation.

      The back-to-back usage is most common in professional basketball where players frequently have to play games in different cities on consecutive nights. There is much betting data on how a team does on the second night of back-to-back games.

      Back-to-back is also used in the context of a particular achievement by a player: LeBron had a triple double in back-to-back games.

      Excellent puzzle in any event.


  4. Martin says:

    Fun puzzle, I really enjoyed it. My only nit is that it seemed a tad easy for a Wednesday (could be just me, however),


    • Bencoe says:

      No, you’re not alone. My time for this Wednesday puzzle was faster than my Monday and Tuesday times this week, which almost never happens. The theme was easy to catch onto, I think–once I saw CLUEMONOPOLY, it was all over. Whereas the last couple of themes I didn’t even notice until after finishing.

  5. Evan says:

    As another possible 15-letter answer:

    MASTERMIND POKER: Einstein’s incessantly annoying Facebook friend?

  6. Brucenm says:

    Ben T’s creative, fertile mind never ceases to amaze me. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on in today’s but I’ll spot him 20 weird rock bands for original ideas like this. It does strike me that one of the theme entries is slightly out of sync with the others, but probably not in a way that detracts from the puzzle.

  7. Gareth says:

    Seen puzzles using games before, but not this particular twist. Fun! Also enjoyed the rest of the puzzle, unlike yesterday, for the longer answers Amy noted; also even the shorter answers seemed to have some bunch. Lastly, thank you Robyn/Will; I was proud of going so long without knowing the royal baby’s name: should’ve just called him Damian.

  8. Tony says:

    Vin Scully, who will turn 86 near the end of November, has been the lead broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers since 1950, when the team was still in Brooklyn. He became the main broadcaster in 1954.

  9. ahimsa says:

    NYT: My corny theme entry – MYSTERY DATE RISK?

    Does anyone remember that old board game? It was pretty horrible. Here’s a 1960s commercial –

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