Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NYT 2:59 (Amy) 
Tausig untimed (Amy) 
LAT 2:51 (Gareth) 
CS 6:17 (Dave) 

Jean O’Conor’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 13 13, no. 1113

This is a terrible recipe! It would be helpful if the clues gave you the amounts to use.

  • 17a. [Recipe instruction #1], MINCE GARLIC. Use a whole head of garlic, I say.
  • 22a. [Recipe instruction #2], GRATE PARMESAN. A quarter teaspoon should suffice.
  • 33a. [Recipe instruction #3], CHOP BASIL LEAVES. Just chop em’ in half, no need to use a food processor to grind the basil up. Use two full bushes’ worth of leaves. DO NOT USE ANY STEMS. ONLY LEAVES.
  • 45a. [Recipe instruction #4], CRUSH PINE NUTS. Take a cup of pine nuts, put them on the floor, and grind them under the heel of your shoe. A sturdy loafer is best.
  • 53a. [Recipe instruction #5], ADD OLIVE OIL. Just drizzle a little on top and it’ll be perfect.
  • 61a. [What you get when you blend the results of this puzzle’s recipe instructions], PESTO.

You might also want some salt and pepper. I’m lazy so I buy my pesto in a jar instead of making it from scratch. Also, my basil bush is frozen now.

See what I mean? Recipes need quantities or they can go dreadfully haywire. Also, though most pesto recipes these days call for a food processor, hand chopping is also done.

Five more things:

  • 25a. [Owners of an infamous cow]. O’LEARYS. Plural? Yes. Apparently Mrs. O’Leary lived with her husband and their son, and while the Chicago Fire apparently started in their barn, she wasn’t in there drunkenly milking a cow and ignoring fire, she was in bed.
  • 38a. [Tarzan creator’s monogram], ERB. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Not a particularly famous monogram. Did you know Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan in movies back in the ’30s or ’40s) went to high school in Chicago?
  • 57a. [Painter Mondrian], PIET. That’s a good Piet, yes, but my favorite Piet is Piet Hein, the mathematician who created the Soma Cube. If only it had gone viral back in its day; then SOMA, PIET, and HEIN might all be entirely reasonable and common crossword fill.
  • 3d. [Squarish TV toon], SPONGEBOB. I love SpongeBob. I don’t understand what some people have against the show. C’mon, Mrs. Puff’s Boating School, and the boats … travel on the sea floor … with wheels? The fish have arms and legs? What’s not to love? It messes with what’s believable in a delightful way.
  • 7d. [Van Cleef of “High Noon”], LEE. He’s this guy and not, as is commonly thought, the mascot of the Van Cleef & Arpels jewelers. (That last link’s to a museum exhibition featuring the jewelry designs, in California. Oh! I want the bejeweled ballerina.)

Not crazy about, say, OBE, ERB, LAHR, ENVIRO-, ESTH, and ALCAN. Also, it’s been pointed out that the RADII clue, 46d. [Pizza cuts, essentially], is off base. Would you make, say, five RADII cuts in a pizza? Or would you cut a bunch of diameters intersecting, as they must, in the center? True, the borders of a pizza slice are RADII, but the cuts that made the slices are generally not. And of course, in Chicago, you can cut your pizza into squares and have much more reasonably sized pieces of pizza (and can opt to minimize or maximize your consumption of crispy crust edges, which are, of course, arcs).

Three stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “A Cherry on Top” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Today we have four phrases that begin with a word that can follow CHERRY, notably in the Down position (so that the implied “cherry” is on top…Patrick is visual this way!):

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

  • [Survivalist’s structure] clued BOMB SHELTER – I think a cherry bomb is a type of firework, but I wonder if Patrick had this in mind?
  • [“Faster!”] was PICK UP THE PACE – to “cherry pick” is to be somewhat random in your selection process–one of these, one of those type of thing. I think a “cherry picker” is what they call the crane that electrical repairmen (and women) use to get to the top of poles or trees.
  • [Jazz singer and pianist who sang “Figure Eight” on “Schoolhouse Rock” (1924-2009)] clued BLOSSOM DEARIE – no fair trying to hide an obscure name behind a song we all know and love. Here it is! Cherry blossoms are all the rage in my past hometown of Washington, DC in the spring.
  • [Pipe dream] was PIE IN THE SKY – we all know what a cherry pie is.

I enjoyed the theme entries as well as the additional visual aspect. Too bad one of my FAVE actresses, Cherry Jones, didn’t make the cut, but I understand it would be hard to find a phrase that starts with JONES. Other nice entries included POP-TART, MANBAG, IDEALISM, PEDANT and [His questions are answers], Alex TREBEK. I’m not a big fan of the “takeout” entries like ATE IN, EAT OUT, etc., but I just put ATENO in a puzzle I’ve submitted (clued as “___ ‘clock scholar”), so I’m hardly one to speak.

Mary Lou Guizzo’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Gareth’s review

LA Times crossword solution, 11 13 13

A very basic theme from Ms. Guizzo – the six theme answers beginning with different metals. The final revealing phrase, METALHEAD, is zippy and (as far as I can tell) new to crosswords. The six entries themselves are interesting as answers – which is IMO more important than a clever theme concept in easy puzzles. It would be ideal that the metals in these phrases are used in non-metallic ways. The puzzle sort of succeeds here, as although they’re all ultimately derived from the metals they’re used in a more-or-less figurative sense on each occasion. The answers are:

  • [Ford Model T, colloquially], TIN LIZZIE. Initially spelt it LIZZY but found I had one too many squares!
  • [Speed demon], LEADFOOT.
  • [Mature male gorilla], SILVERBACK.
  • [One only in it for the money], GOLD DIGGER.
  • [Japanese cooking show], IRON CHEF. I know the name, but have never watched it. Didn’t know it was Japanese


  • [Tucked-in part of a dress shirt], HEM. Eh, who bothers… Probably the person whose TIE is a [Match for a pocket handkerchief].
  • [Siesta taker], DOZER. I don’t understand. Dozer as short for bulldozer would be a far, far better cluing angle, IMO.
  • [Schemer Charles], PONZI. Didn’t know his first name, but schemer was a big tip-off!
  • [It may drop down or pop up], MENU. Like the clue!
  • [Tribal land, informally, with “the”], REZ. News to me, but then I haven’t had much occasion to refer to Indian tribal land in a casual setting.
  • [Somerset Maugham novel, with “The”], RAZOR’S EDGE. Eyebrow! Have only read his short stories…
  • [Massage deeply], ROLF. This must be used a lot, but I’ve never encountered outside of a dictionary or a crossword. Singer Harris sends his regards.

Straight-over-the-plate easy puzzle. 3 stars.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “The Big Case”

Chicago Reader / Ink Well crossword solution, “The Big Case” 11 13 13

The name of the game is hidden world capitals:

  • 17a. [Two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback]. ELI MANNING. Lima, Peru.
  • 30a. [Highest place where trees grow, on a mountain], TIMBERLINE. Berlin, Germany.
  • 36a. [Feature shared by “iPhones” and “ObamaCare,” and what can be found in 17-, 30-, 43-, and 59-Across], INTERNAL CAPITAL. Not a term I’m familiar with—”camelcase” is also used for this. Also, I mostly see it styled as “Obamacare” (in major newspapers, for example).
  • 43a. [Modern gaming machines], VIDEO SLOTS. Oslo, Norway.
  • 59a. [Gawk], RUBBERNECK. Bern (or Berne), Switzerland.

Five more things:

  • 4a. [Guy de Maupassant novel published in English as “The History of a Scoundrel”], BEL AMI. I am no more familiar with the English version than the French one.
  • 53a. [Reuters rival, for short], AFP. Not familiar with this either. Agence France-Presse?
  • 1d. [Twitter friends, casually], TWEEPS. I have neglected mine for months.
  • 8d. [QB Donovan dissed by Rush Limbaugh a year before taking his team to the Super Bowl], MCNABB. If you claim that a quarterback is highly overrated, you might want to focus on one who doesn’t have the skills to reach the Super Bowl. Just saying.
  • 47d. [Directorial phrase], “…AND CUT!” I like this. Not sure I’ve seen the entry in a crossword before.

3.75 stars.

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39 Responses to Wednesday, November 13, 2013

  1. Sarah says:

    NYT: Unique theme, or has this been done before?

  2. Bencoe says:

    I took some cooking lessons in Tuscany once…ok, I know that sounds pretty hoity-toity. Anyway, I was chopping basil and leaving out the stems. The cook yelled at me, “That’s where the best flavor is!” So now I always use them. A good method for chopping basil– wash it and put it in a plastic cup or bowl. Then go to town on it with a pair of scissors. Quicker and cleaner than a food processor.
    Lee Van Cleef was “The Bad” in one of my favorite movies, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

  3. Amy L says:

    I gave the NYT 5 stars. Anything having to do with food, I love. I wish more puzzles had these ingredients. And thanks, Bencoe, for the basil cutting tip. I’ll try it.

  4. Tom H says:

    Nice to see Ben T. take a snarky swipe at conservatives( Limbaugh) and later in the grid mention “haters”. Was he ironic on purpose? Maybe his puzzles should come with a liberals only warning. Only constructor I can think who is so political in their puzzles. It’s getting old.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      That hardly qualifies as a “snarky swipe” against Limbaugh. He uttered a sports opinion that was (a) broadly considered racist (and got him fired) and (b) quickly proven wrong. Where is the anti-conservative content here?

      Similarly, the HATERS clue is entirely benign. [They’re gonna do what they do so just turn your head away and hold your palm out] does not say anything at all about who these HATERS would be. “Haters gonna hate” is a common enough phrase in popular parlance, and . It’s not about bigots;’s top definition of hater is “A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person. ” And besides, bigots are not a protected class in America, so if the clue were about bigots, I don’t see who could be offended.

      You may be overly sensitive to imagined slights, because these two clues/answers aren’t politicized.

      • Bencoe says:

        Perhaps the reason this person thinks that insulting one thing Limbaugh said is the same as insulting all of conservatism is that conservatives hang blindly on every one of the man’s words.
        There’s some snark!

        • Tom H says:

          Bencoe, perhaps a clue along the lines of ” winning QB of Super Bowl (whatever)” but Ben can’t miss a chance to take a shot at the Right. If they went the other way perhaps you would notice.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Who the hell would get that right? Only hardcore football fans. But McNabb is best remembered by non-fans because of the whole Limbaugh fiasco. I’ve never gotten the idea that Ben Tausig aims his puzzles at hardcore sports fans (compare, say, Peter Gordon, who includes far more baseball-familiar-only-to-hardcore-fans than I’d like to see).

            I was not aware that Rush Limbaugh was a valid stand-in for the entire Right. Aren’t there millions of conservatives who decry his commentary?

          • Bencoe says:

            There aren’t only two ways in American politics, Tom! That kind of absolutist, black-and-white you’re either with us or against us thinking is exactly what Rush Limbaugh has made his career on. It is politics as a cult religion, where faith in one’s leaders (even if they are hypocritical junkies who constantly get their facts wrong) and adherence to the standard dogma are more important than critical thinking and correct information. It’s why you, as a believer, consider an actual quote of what Limbaugh said to be an attack on your own personal values. People like Limbaugh deserve far more snark than they have gotten, as Henry posts below…they have built a media empire on much worse.
            Apologies for ranting, but a valid, if trivial, point is being misconstrued as some sort of propaganda against Limbaugh…when Limbaugh himself is the master of propaganda!

      • Tom H says:

        Amy, Ben is one author who consistantly injects snarky political comments in puzzles. If you don’t see it , you’re being willfuly blind.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I don’t dispute that, but your two examples today are entirely off base. You weaken your argument by citing examples that don’t actually do what you say they do.

        • HH says:

          “Ben is one author who consistantly injects snarky political comments in puzzles. ”

          One of all too few.

        • bananarchy says:

          I fail to see the problem.

          • Tom H says:

            Let me know when there is a puzzle with clues mocking Hillary, Bill or heaven forbid Obama, or anyone on the left. I guess the “other side” isn’t welcome in puzzle-dom.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Tom, if you have the skills in editing and constructing, there is nothing stopping you from making an indie crossword brand that is more GOP-friendly. You might well find an enthusiastic audience.

            Just read a blog post criticizing Dan Savage from a queer-feminist perspective, and I’m not sure I know anybody who doesn’t roll their eyes at Bill Maher at least some of the time. Plenty of lefties are critical of Obama, but you might not appreciate their reasons (for example, wishing that he’d pursued nationalized health care instead of a plan focused on for-profit insurers).

  5. Pauer says:

    Catch the connection between today’s CS and yesterday’s? ;)

  6. Huda says:

    Amy, I too love PIET Hein. My favorite scientific quote comes from him: “Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by fighting back.” I’ve got the bruises to prove it.

    • Chaitanya says:

      Piet Hein was a wonderful poet in addition to being a scientist..

      He has really some delightful grooks (short witty poems)… A couple of my favorites…

      Love is like
      a pineapple,
      sweet and


      Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
      and you’re hampered by not having any,
      the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
      is simply by spinning a penny.
      No — not so that chance shall decide the affair
      while you’re passively standing there moping;
      but the moment the penny is up in the air,
      you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

  7. Mary Lou Guizzo says:

    Thanks for the nice write-up Gareth! My original clue for DOZER was “Bull ending”, HEM was “Put in stitches” and MENU was “It’s full of options”. For me, it’s a learning process with great mentoring from both Nancy Salomon and Jeff Chen. I was also lucky to get in on the beta testing of the Crossfire software which has been a great tool. This blog has been a great resource as well. And my local crossword puzzling friends’ feedback invaluable. Thanks to all.

  8. Steven R. Stahl says:

    Amy Reynaldo wrote:

    Aren’t there millions of conservatives who decry his commentary?

    There aren’t millions of conservatives who go on the record decrying Limbaugh’s commentary. Remaining silent about the commentary doesn’t oppose it, much less refute it.


  9. Harry says:

    One more from the LAT. “Razor’s Edge” is sort of metallic, isn’t it? Kind of an “almost-theme” clue.

  10. *David* says:

    I just did a crossword puzzle that had Adolph Hitler in the grid. Everyone comes with their own perceptions of things and when you get into the alt-puzzles those will shine through more then others. I look at it as an education of how people think.

    • bananarchy says:

      Yes, absolutely. I enjoy indie puzzles (especially the self-published and self-edited ones) because they allow for personal expression as well as puzzlement. Whether or not the constructor is being overtly political or explicitly expressing an opinion or whatever, their own voice and worldview comes through in the clues and choice of entries. Unless, of course, they’re stealing clues and relying solely on other peoples’ wordlists :)

    • HH says:

      I hope you spelled Adolf properly.

  11. sbmanion says:

    I don’t know if he had any definitions more famous than this one, but there is dictionary support for snarkiness. Samuel Johnson defined OATS as a grain that was used in England to feed horses and in Scotland to feed the people.


  12. Mona says:

    Liked the Wednesday L.A. Times puzzle well enough and actually got the 11d clue of Somerset Maughem novel, since I saw the movie in September. Watch the 1946 movie “The Razor’s Edge” if you don’t read the 1944 novel. Good movie, with Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Anne Baxter, John Payne.

    • Zulema says:

      Terrific movie! Terrific Anne Baxter!

    • Bencoe says:

      Sorry for post four…but I love Somerset Maugham! I was literally just telling my wife about the merits of The Moon and Sixpence, which is a thinly veiled account of Maugham’s friendship with Paul Gauguin. And Gareth…if you haven’t read his novels, let me be the first to recommend Of Human Bondage, which is one of my favorite novels ever written.

  13. AaronB says:

    to pick a nit – when you cherry pick you are going for the best or most desirable things in a set, not a random subset. On the other hand machine known as a cherry picker just gives you the elevation to get something you can’t reach from lower down.
    I liked the literal “on topness” of the cherries

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