Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NYT 3:35 (Amy) 
Jonesin' 3:20 (Amy) 
LAT 3:05 (Amy) 
CS 5:39 (Dave) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Mike Doran’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 12 13, no. 1112

This is a puzzle for all the Double Divas:

  • 17a. [1960s dissident], DRAFT DODGER. Iffy timing, what with Monday being Veterans Day.
  • 23a. [1987 movie with the hit “Hungry Eyes”], DIRTY DANCING. What song is that? “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” is the song I associate with the movie.
  • 37a. [Smash-hit entertainment?], DEMOLITION DERBY.
  • 48a. [Fast-food chain with an orange and pink logo], DUNKIN DONUTS.
  • 58a. [Jump-rope style], DOUBLE DUTCH.
  • 67a. [Lacking depth … or like 17-, 23-, 37-, 48- and 58-Across?], IN 2-D. I don’t love the revealer but certainly it is better than TWOD would be.

Terrific set of D.D. theme answers, no? Nothing off-key in the grab bag of D.D. phrases.

I was less enthused by the fill. While HERMIT CRAB and NAMED NAMES are always welcome, plural RADARS, wildly unfamiliar ROTA (53a. [Series of golf courses that host the British Open]), IRAE, TUTEES, ADEN, APORT, and SAS left me cold. I would have included APOGEE in that list, but then the science NERDs would condemn me.

3.33 stars from me. I liked all five long themers, but I might’ve liked the rest of the fill better with only four of them.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “You Had To Be There”

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 11 12 13 “You Had To Be There”

Wow, those two wide-open corners sure are cut off from the rest of the grid. The clues for the 15s that offer the only way in and out of those sections are reasonable, though.

Four theme answers have a hidden YOU in them:

  • 17a. [Keep a distance], STAY OUT OF THE WAY.
  • 28a. [With just us, not anyone else], BY OURSELVES.
  • 42a. [Malt liquor amount], FORTY OUNCES.
  • 51a. [The right way (for things)], AS THEY OUGHT TO BE.

Simple, solid. Not much to say about the theme.

In the fill, I liked some of the 7s (TUSSLES, EPITOME, E-READER, NEW WAVE), plus CYRANO.

Five more things:

  • 43d. [Open an achievement, e.g.], UNLOCK. Video gaming terminology, used slangily in real life.
  • 4d. [Eye problems], STYES. Thanks to SAY YES off to the right of this one, I keep seeing it as ST. YES, the patron saint of daily affirmations. (Thanks to pannonica for completing “patron saint of …” for me.)
  • 26a. [Not one’s best effort, in a sports metaphor], B GAME. Great answer.
  • 40d. [“Coppelia” composer], DELIBES. That guy should be in cryptic crosswords, partnered with a RATE (or ERAT, or a muddled TEAR).
  • Crosswordese zone: ATTAR, ENA, OEO, OREM, STYES. Meh.

3.5 stars.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 11 12 13

Another hidden-word theme today, but different words each time:

  • 21a. [Playskool’s Rocktivity products, e.g.], MUSICAL TOYS. Possibly contrived, as phrases go?
  • 26a. [Clinic helper], LAB ASSISTANT.
  • 43a. [Decree that spells things out], WRITTEN ORDER. Boring phrase.
  • 50a. [One’s toughest critics, often, and, literally, three different words hidden in 21-, 26- and 43-Across], INNER VOICES.

What?? What is this nonsense, Sessa? You couldn’t come up with a valid phrase with a hidden SOPRANO in it? (Just kidding.)

Five things:

  • 25a. [Old British coin], GUINEA. We also have the guinea fowl and a whopping three countries: Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea. I’d love a [Word in the names of three African countries] clue.
  • 7d. [Netanyahu of Israel, familiarly], BIBI. Scroll to the May 25, 1998 Dave Letterman Top 10 List for the list of the top ways to mispronounce “Bibi Netanyahu.” My favorite is Betty Needs A Yoo-Hoo.
  • 9d. [“Huh?”], “SAY AGAIN?” Hmm. “Say what?” and “Come again?” feel more common to me.
  • 11d. [B in chemistry], BORON. Freshman year of college, I got a carbon in chemistry.
  • 37d. [Heartrending], GRIEVOUS. Great word, that. As in “APER is grievous fill, isn’t it?”

3.5 stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Tom Terrific” – Dave Sullivan’s review

I remember when fellow Fiend Sam Donaldson blogged these puzzles he would try to guess who the constructor was. (Must’ve been hard to open the puzzles without revealing both the title and constructor.) Anyway, I might’ve actually guessed today’s was from Tony Orbach, as I’ve noticed his predilection for themes that play off of people’s names. Not that he’s the only one in the biz that does this, nor are all his themes like that, but at least it’s a trend worth noticing if you’re playing Sam’s Name Game.

Today, Tony takes four famous Toms and uses their last names to begin common phrases:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 11/12/13

  • [Actor Tom’s pleasure craft?] clued CRUISE SHIP – I imagine Tom Cruise has many such craft awaiting him around the globe.
  • [Former House Majority Leader Tom’s filibuster?] was DELAY TACTICSTom DeLay recently defended the Republican effort which led to the government shutdown. I guess those might rightly be considered “delay tactics.”
  • A perhaps less well-known Tom, [Golfer Tom’s war?] was KITE FIGHTING – my father was a big golf fan, so I do remember seeing Tom Kite out on the links. Kite fighting involves razor blades attached to kites which are used to attack other kites in the the sky. Sounds dangerous if one of those comes down on its owner!
  • [Singer Tom’s run-in with the law?] clued PETTY CRIMETom Petty (with The Heartbreakers?) is probably best known for this. Rather appropriate title to follow kite fighting.

Decent theme, well executed. Tony’s grids tend to be a bit more Scrabbly than others, so I enjoyed the J of JUTS, JACKO, JETSETTING and JAMB, as well as the Z action in DANCE CRAZE, ORZO, QUIZ and ZAPS. Got a good laugh out of the clue [“Why am I not surprised?”] for TYPICAL, which rang very true to my ear. Hard to RAIL AT much in this one; TALI for [Anklebones] is a bit obscure, and has any doctor with a stethoscope ever heard a heart go PIT-A-PAT?

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle, “Check Your Calendar!”—Janie’s review

11:12 cn

Crossword Nation solution

“Happy dance.” Quite literally, it’s a dance that conveys happiness. Sometimes it looks like this; sometimes like this; or even like this. Sometimes, though, no gif is needed and you can simply (and happily) just imagine what it looks like. And/or wish “Candid Camera” were around to capture the moment… That’s what happened for me when Liz disclosed that on realizing that today’s Crossword Nation puzzle would, in fact, be published on this exact DATE [Today’s ___ (puzzle theme)], with its consecutive numerals, she “danced a math-geeky crossword jig.” Got that image in your head? Now witness the succinct and mathy way Liz channeled her enthusiasm into today’s puzzle:

11/12/13. This is a run of numbers that’s definitely up to taking the cruciverbal limelight. Sweet, no?
So we get a very tight theme and theme set today. Plus, as I see it, a couple of mini-themes as well. Hungry? You can enjoy a TUNA SALAD hero with a LEMONADE chaser. Pick yours up at the KWIK-E-Mart.


But the more layered one is tied into those SLEUTHS [Mystery women?] we encounter. Many of whom were created by AGATHA (herself a woman of mystery) [Whodunit master Christie]. Among Dame Agatha‘s mystery women: Jane Marple and Tuppence Beresford. But

Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple

Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple

other non-Agatha mystery women that come to mind would have to include Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, Nora Charles, Kinsey Millhone, Kay Scarpetta, Tess Monaghan, and let us not forget Lisbeth Salander. Among many, many others. Perhaps some were perfumed; perhaps not. Still it’s not perfume that’s at the bottom of that [Great-smelling crime scene investigator?] clue. Here, the correct fill is POLICE DOG, whose sensitive olfactory abilities are a good sleuth’s best friend at times. (Crossword friendly Asta wasn’t a police dog, but he did more than his share of crime scene investigating!) And when, at the end of a good mystery, the police do come in to [Slap the cuffs on] and make the ARREST, that’s when we know that the next phase—those TRIALS [Courtroom events]—are about to begin. Which may make this a good time to re-visit the film version of Dame Agatha‘s Witness for the Prosecution. Nuthin’ like a strong mini-theme (intended or un-) to add richness of the construction and (for the by-roads the clues-and-fill take us down) satisfaction in the solve!

Can’t say that I loved seeing both LEELEE and LEES in the grid, but (relevant to nothing in particular except, perhaps, my desire to close with something positive) I did like both JUT OUT and the scenario-inducing [Ditched the wedding planner, maybe] ELOPED pairing.
So on that high note, I say see you next week. And constructors: start thinking about Saturday December 13th of next year—12/13/14—which (by my reckoning) will be the last time this century we’ll see this kind of sequential run of numerical month, day and year!
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12 Responses to Tuesday, November 12, 2013

  1. Jim Hale says:

    The “2” spoiled an otherwise average puzzle for me. The alliterations were pretty obvious; hated “tutees”. Of course it’s easier being a critic of a puzzle than writing one yourself :)

  2. Art Shapiro says:

    AcrossLite rejected the digit “2”, claiming the correct letter was: the digit “2”. Sigh!

    Nice to see a minor trick in an early-week puzzle.


    • Huda says:

      yes… That was annoying. I tried 2, then TWO as a rebus, II as a rebus, then 2, and none of it worked. I thought may be I was misremembering and tried I and 1. That was a fine waste of time…
      I bet you there are plenty of folks out there who could add greater flexibility to this system…

    • Evad says:

      Same here, I even tried a T thinking AL wanted the first letter of the word TWO. Something about seeing DEE in the fill bothered me, as it wasn’t clued to the puzzle’s theme.

  3. Brucenm says:

    {As previously stated (or ‘see above’) to Benedetto Croce} ( 5, 6)




    sopra notato

  4. David L says:

    ROTA is an odd word for a Tuesday, and even more oddly clued. It’s used in British English to mean what Americans would generally call a roster — e.g. a list of people scheduled to take on some regular duty. So it could be used to refer to a list of golf courses that host the Open in a cyclical fashion, but to clue the word as if it were specific to that context is mighty strange.

    • sbmanion says:

      Hi David, I agree with everything you said with one possible exception. The only context in which I have ever heard the word ROTA was in connection with the British Open. There are nine courses in the British Open Rota, although they are not played in a serialized order. The Old Course at St. Andrews hosts the Open every fifth year and any other course in the rota is subject to the whim of the Royal and Ancient— one of the courses might have its next hosting seven, eight, nine or more years after its current hosting.

      I never did fill in the “2”.


      • David L says:

        Thanks, Steve, that’s interesting. I follow golf with fair-to-moderate interest but hadn’t come across that particular phrase. When I think of ‘rota’ (which isn’t very often) I tend to think of assignments for whose turn it is to bring tea and biscuits to the church social, that kind of thing.

  5. Mike T says:

    Like Jim Hale, I thought the “2” spoiled an otherwise nice Tuesday puzzle.

  6. Jenni Levy says:

    I thought the “2” added a nice twist to an early-week puzzle. Also liked the themers and was waiting for the bra-related revealer. I was relieved that Will had skipped it, and then came here to find Amy was on it…

  7. twangster says:

    LA Times:
    What the fable writer did when his wife caught him cheating:

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