Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NYT 6:45* (pannonica) 
Tausig untimed (Amy) 
LAT 5:15 (Gareth) 
CS 5:33 (Dave) 

Peter A. Collins’ New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 1/1/14 • Mon • Collins • 1 1 14 • solution

NYT • 1/1/14 • Mon • Collins • 1 1 14 • solution

Oh look, it’s me. It seems there’s some outrageous outage in Chicago—or something—and Amy is unable to timely blog, so I get to ring in the new year hereabout.

As you can see by the accompanying (be thankful you didn’t see the three incremental misspellings of ‘accompanying’) ‘solution’ grid, something went awry in my solve. Aside from dysrebusia for the nexus entry, there was an Issue at 31-across, and by association 24-down. We’ll discuss those anon.

The gimmicky bit in this non-theme crossword is, naturally, in the central across spot. 37a [New Year’s greeting] HAPPY 2014. The numerical crosses are:

  • 27d [1971 #1 hit for Carole King] IT’S 2 (Too) LATE.
  • 39d [Classic Stephen Foster song] 0 (Oh) SUSANNA.
  • 24d [Achieved through difficulty] HARD 1 (won).
  • 32d [“Try!”] GO 4 (for) IT.

Call me crazy, but … okay! stop that. don’t call me crazy, y’hear? — Anyway. I kind of like the wild, debauched inconsistency of the crossing words: none of them are correlates of the numerals, which is a kind of anti-consistency consistency, come to think of it.

As alluded to earlier, I had an error at 31a [Far sides of ranges], which is a decidedly oblique clue for TARGETS, and for which I imbibedly (did I mention this gig was unexpected?) answered with TANGETS, which seemed a fine spelling of TANGENTS to This Solver under These Circumstances. The vertical HAND 1 seemed … plausible for … something, too. At the time.

jbc1972What else did I notice?

  • 53a [People of Rwanda and Burundi] WATUTSI. Isn’t that a var.?
  • Kicked myself for waiting so long to look at the longish 22d when there were few crossings, as it was a gimme. [Capital spanning the Danube] BUDAPEST, where one might spend a long weekend, possibly sampling Egri Bikavér or Tokaj.
  • NEATEN and HOARSEN?!? (63a & 11d)
  • 6d [Sample the hooch] TAKE A NIP. Had SIP first, of course.
  • 17a [Tree with extra-large acorns] BUR OAK. What? I can’t hear you, I have an extra-large WHATTHEHELL in my ear.
  • Was relieved to confirm that 65a [The White Stripes’ genre] was simply ROCK and not PUNK, which would be WRONG.
  • Liked the chewy corners, all four of them. Even the one with BUR OAK.
  • 19a [NASA component: Abbr.] NATL. I experience an unpleasant metallic taste in my mouth when I see a clue with an acronym or abbreviation asking for an expanded abbreviation as an answer. Ptui!
  • 1a [Frank’s partner in the funnies] ERNEST. Ya, I don’t know what that is, or who they may be. Happy One-across!

Bottom line: very much liked the themey bit, was mildly discombobulated by the bulk of the crossword. Welcome.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 14 01 01

LA Times 14 01 01

Whew! IMSOGLAD we got this puzzle and not a silly holiday puzzle! I don’t know about you, but I thought today featured an extremely clever gimmick: four pairs of S’s have a SILENTS (silent s) running both ways. It reminds me of another puzzle, I think it was a NY Sun / Fireball that did the same, but with an “é”. It would have been more elegant to have no other voiced S’s elsewhere in the grid, but the pay-off probably wasn’t worth the compromises to the grid that would result: S’s are very useful to glue a crossword together! The answers are:

  • 17a, [*Sargent Shriver was its first director], PEACECORPS
  • 36, 45a, [ Iowa’s most populous city], DES/MOINES. Very nice touch having an example with two silent s’s!
  • 37a, [Many Greta Garbo films, and what you’ll find at the intersections of four pairs of answers to starred clues], SILENTS
  • 60a, [*Aptly named New York region], LONGISLAND
  • 8d, [*Rank below earl], VISCOUNT. I have been pronouncing this in the same way as “discount” for my entire life. This puzzle, corroborated by dictionaries, informs me that I am wrong. Feel free to snigger all you want.
  • 10d, [*Driving hazard], ROADDEBRIS. I also didn’t know this was a thing, but apparently it is. I would’ve just called it “debris,” or “debris on the road.”
  • 26d, [*Theater guide], AISLELIGHT
  • 47d, [*We, to Monet], NOUS. I’m pretty sure the everyday English word for common sense has a voiced “S” though.

A big theme! In common with most “big themes” the rest of the puzzle is mostly just there, trying to be as inoffensive as possible. When the big theme is clever and fun like this one though, it works wonderfully!

[Lauderdale neighbor] is a neat way to avoid a FITB clue. 55a, NUTBAR is a [Crunchy snack] as well as a crunchy answer! I’m willing to bet that the second letter of 64a, [Sicilian resort], ENNA will be a T on many people’s grids; it’s an old trap, but a dangerous one!

4.33 Stars

Updated New Year’s Day morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “New Year’s Babies” – Dave Sullivan’s review

We start the new year with four personalities (known, at least to me, in widely varying degrees) who were born on 1/1:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 1/1/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 1/1/14

  • [Spanish-American bandleader once married to Abbe Lane born on 1/1/1900] was XAVIER CUGAT. The only Xavier I am familiar with; but I thought his last name was spelled COUGAT like the animal. Though he’s a bit obscure and passé, how can you not like a theme entry that begins with X?
  • [Patriot in the American Revolution known for a midnight ride born on 1/1/1735] clued PAUL REVERE. Was this the one born in Boston or Britain? ;)
  • [“The Catcher in the Rye” author born on 1/1/1919] was J.D. SALINGER. J.D. = Jerome David.
  • [Mini-Me portrayer in the Austin Powers movies born on 1/1/1969] clued VERNE TROYER. Though I know the character, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this actor’s name.

I’m 45 today!

À la my comments of yesterday, I’m not a big fan of theme entries that are related by trivia alone, I guess I’m a sucker for wordplay instead. Verne is definitely the outlier in this group, followed closely by Xavier who would be 114 today if he were still alive. It’s hard to believe the constructor didn’t intentionally put in the crossing JEROME for J.D. SALINGER, but he was clued to [“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” composer Kern] instead. Some nice mid-length fill here: ENVIOUS, LOVINGLY, HOT DATE and UNSWAYED are all good. The Scowl-O-Meter did register an uptick with I SEE A, ETDS, TADAS and the uncommon LGE, which I’ve never seen on a tag for an article of clothing.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Bring in the New Year”

Chicago Reader / Ink Well crossword solution, 1 1 14 "Bring in the New Year"

Chicago Reader / Ink Well crossword solution, 1 1 14 “Bring in the New Year”

Roman numeral years are inserted into familiar phrases to make plausibly clueable goofy phrases:

  • 17a. [“Sleepless in Seattle II: We Need to Get to the Hospital Now”? (Happy New Year to baby Hildegard of Bingen!)] EMERGENCY ROM-COM. That’s MC, or 1100, inserted into “emergency room.” Hildegard was born in 1098.
  • 25a. [Thanksgiving? (Happy New Year to President-elect George W. Bush!)], FAT TUMMIES DAY. Fat Tuesday + MMI, or 2001, when Dubya was about to be inaugurated. Also? “Fat Tummies Day” is a terrific theme answer.
  • 44a. [Sequel to a 2013 3D film in which Manny Pacquiao spars in space? (Happy New Year to adolescent Jesus!)], GRAVITY BOXING. XI is the year 11, when Jesus was a tween. (Have the words “when Jesus was a tween” ever been writ?) I had to Google to confirm that “gravity bong” is a thing. (It is.)
  • 57a. [Off-the-cuff riffs about old-timey clothes-cleaning devices? (Happy New Year to Emperor Justinian I!)]. WASHBOARD AD-LIBS. DLI is 551, and Justinian the Great was the Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. It is not known whether he had washboard abs, as we lack a shirtless image.

Highlights in the fill include DR. RUTH, MASALA, GANJA, KNEE-HIGH, WOE IS ME, X-FILES, and MAGPIE (like many of us, magpies are attracted to shiny things).

Favorite clues:

  • 5a. [Load separate from colors], WHITES. It would be darkly funny if a laundromat had a dedicated Whites Only machine in which it was fine to use tons of bleach, wouldn’t it? (Too soon? I am not condoning Jim Crow, just laundry sorting.)
  • 35d. [Up the ying ___] YANG.
  • 6d. [Like one who has to manage a large staff?], HUNG. Your lewd clue of the week.
  • 39d. [Appeared positively postcoital], GLOWED. [Appeared negatively postcoital] would clue GLOWERED.
  • 54d. [Its Egyptian name simply means “river”], NILE. Trivia!
  • 58d. [Cry for Argentina, perhaps], OLE. Futbol!

Weak spots: ADIA parked at 1-Across, although at least it’s been updated with an Avril Lavigne citation; RBH (Rutherford B. Hayes’ initials); crosswordese aria ERI TU; var. DJIN.

Four stars.

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21 Responses to Wednesday, January 1, 2014

  1. Gareth says:

    Wow, went through the identical thoughts while solving ROCK! I’d worked up a nice amount of indignation about it too…

  2. Brucenm says:

    For years, I read the expression as a “power outrage,” and that’s still what I call them. Also an “uninformed police officer.”

    Happy New Year to All.

    • HH says:

      I wholly agree with the latter. Every time a newscaster says “Police are seeking your help to catch this criminal” I think, how inept are you at your job if you seek assistance from the untrained? “We can’t catch this guy, maybe somebody who’s never been to the Academy can catch him for us.”

    • pannonica says:

      Twolfold ditto, and it’s a long history as that’s a common locution seen in mystery and espionage books. I credit it to an inherent and unreconstructed anti-authoritarianism (and you’ll never convince me otherwise).

  3. Papa John says:

    I’ll be on the road for a few days and decided to try doing Xwords on my daughter’s IPad. I used the NYT app and I thought it was insane. I don’t how some of you do it on a regular basis. Still, I’m not able to do other puzzles with the NYT app, so, my question is, are there other apps available that will handle puzzles on IPad (or Kindle)? Would someone be so kind as to provide a link where I can download one?

    Happy New Year.

    • Papa John says:

      I’m sorry. I’m still a bit groggy from last night’s celebrations. What I meant to ask was for a recommendation for a crossword app for IPad. I know there are many to choose from, but which is the best?

      • Davis says:

        For my all-purpose crosswording needs, I’m a fan of “Crosswords” by Stand Alone.

        Also, definitely pick up the Puzzazz app if you’re at all into other types of puzzles.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I like CRUX from Rumination Software, Papa John. (Happy new year!)

  4. ArtLvr says:

    I’d have been Happier with the New Year’s puzzle in the NYT if it had accepted my rebus answers, but the numbers on my Mac weren’t conforming somehow! Also, defining 23A SHERRY as an after-dinner wine jarred a bit — I remember it as offered before a meal only.

  5. sbmanion says:

    I was definitely not on the right wavelength for this one. It solved like a Friday for me. Looking back, it doesn’t appear to be that difficult, but I had great difficulty in the NW and did not see the numbers until the last possible moment.


  6. Art Shapiro says:

    And AcrossLite rejected the numbers in favor of — the numbers.



  7. Doug says:

    Gareth, no sniggering here. I’m with you on VISCOUNT. I always assumed it rhymed with “discount” too.

    • ArtLvr says:

      You guys just aren’t into Royals — As recently as 2011 that the headlines were “Viscount Linley, Son Of Princess Margaret, Reported As Royal Blackmail Target”

    • pannonica says:

      Harlem Nocturne,” The Viscounts (1959). Reached #52 on the pop chart; re-released in 1966, going to #39.

      The original was written by Earle Hagen in 1939.

      My favorite version is by Les Misérables Brass Band (1990).

      (Familiarity with the song is probably why I knew the correct pronunciation.)

      nb: there was also a British pop group called The Viscounts, formed in the same year as the US band (1958).

  8. OSXpert says:

    I was thinking that putting bill NYE in the center of the grid was another subtle New Years themer.

  9. Alex says:

    I think C.C. has a particular style because looking over her puzzle I thought “this looks like a C.C. theme!” and sure enough … great work as always.

  10. gg12345 says:

    Concerning Ben Tausig’s Bring in the New Year puzzle…. No one commented on “old-style emo expression”. I now officially feel like the oldest xword solver in the universe. I learned “emo” style from xwords in the last year, and now it’s “old-style”?? Whimper whimper

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