Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jonesin' 4:07 (Amy) 
NYT 3:28 (Amy) 
LAT 3:04 (Amy) 
CS 5:49 (Dave) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

David Woolf’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 3 25 14, no. 0325

NYT crossword solution, 3 25 14, no. 0325

I like this zippy theme:

  • 17a, 57. [With 57-Across, a die-hard’s statement], IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL / THE FAT LADY SINGS. (Rare NYT puzzle typo! The puzzle file had a capital I in “WIth.” Right letter, wrong case.)
  • 27a. [Hit that proves 17-/57-Across], WALK-OFF HOMER. I only learned what this term meant a few months ago—it’s a home run that wins the game, so that the team can walk off the field triumphant.
  • 45a. [Shot that proves 17-/57-Across], BUZZER BEATER. In basketball, a last-second shot that wins the game.

I could see the theme being tough for folks who assiduously avoid picking up any sports slang at all, but for everyone else it should be fun.

I am super-sleepy! But my husband went out without his keys! And he won’t be back for a couple hours so I can’t go to sleep any time soon! So I’m going to sleepy-blog all the puzzles and you can’t stop me.

Likes: ZAFTIG and FLOOZY (both highly gendered words, mind you), SHISH KEBAB (are you like me? do you fill in K*B*B and wait for the crossings to tell you what transliteration we’re using this time?_, RICHARD III, SCRUFF, MANOLO Blahnik, CHEX cereals.

Dislikes: The O words bug me tonight: OREM OREO OLEG OBIE OCHRE. Plus SSR, pro RATA and pro TEM.

Four stars.

Dave Sarpola’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 3 25 14

LA Times crossword solution, 3 25 14

Sleepy puzzle blogging, round 2! I could not for the life of me see the theme, despite having read part of the revealer clue. Chips!

  • 17a. [Place for a Hold ’em game], POKER ROOM. Poker chips are found there.
  • 11d. [Officer Frank Poncherello portrayer of ’70s-’80s TV], ERIK ESTRADA. CHiPs, TV show of my t(w)een years.
  • 24d. [Slogan seen on computer stickers], INTEL INSIDE. Intel makes semiconductor chips.
  • 62a. [Nabisco cookies … and what you might cry upon solving this puzzle’s three other longest answers?], CHIPS AHOY.

What a rip-off! You can’t very well have a whole chips theme with no salty, crunchy snack foods. We are forced to nosh on actual chips as a substitute. And maybe some homemade chocolate chip cookies too, so much better than Nabisco store-bought cookies.

But seriously, the theme gets points for its fresh angle and zippy entries.

Three more things:

  • 28a. [Feels poorly], AILS, sits atop POOR. Don’t care for that.
  • 1a. [Ancient Egyptian pictograph, e.g.], GLYPH. Tricky without the hiero- part, no?
  • 39a. [Located in that place, in legalese], THEREAT. We also considered THERETO and THEREIN, other key 7-letter legalese adverbs.

Four stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Something Themes Wrong”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 3 25 14 "Something Themes Wrong"

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 3 25 14 “Something Themes Wrong”

Pun theme this week, generating some appalling concepts for theme restaurants:

  • 20a. [Unappealing theme restaurant based on a hit CGI movie?], DESPICABLE MEAT. Have not seen Despicable Me or the sequel yet.
  • 37a. [Unappealing theme restaurant devoted to Hans Christian Andersen?], THE UGLY DUMPLING. Instead of duckling. We would also have accepted THE LUMPY DUCKLING.
  • 57a. [Unappealing theme restaurant devoted to Irving Berlin?], PUDDING ON A RITZ cracker. Instead of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” That doesn’t sound half bad, actually. Not a solid restaurant concept, though.

Three things:

  • 2d. [Urban partner on TV?], LOPEZ. Someone explain this to me. Karl Urban? Mario Lopez? What are we talking about here?
  • Likes: PIPPA, IN DENIAL, SUGAR RAY, “TEN HUT!,” NILLA Wafers (now, those would be good dipped in pudding. better than the Ritz crackers for sure), HOT POT.
  • 36d. Doctors Without Borders, e.g.], NGO. Nongovernmental organization. Do you all know that? It’s only very slowly working its way into crosswords, but I feel like there’s a good bit of overlap between the crossword and NPR cohorts, and NGOs get plenty of attention (and are called by that term) on public radio. Time for the entry to become a regular in crosswords, or premature?

Silly theme, but/and fun. Four stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

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

The “board” in question here is a chessboard, and these are folks whose last names are a player on said board:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 03/25/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 03/25/14

  • [“Tapestry” singer-songwriter who’s a board member?] clued CAROLE KINGIt’s not too late for another tribute to a great artist from my adolescence.
  • [Fictional detective who’s a board member?] was ELLERY QUEEN
  • [“Caddyshack” actor who’s a board member?] clued TED KNIGHT – I associate him more with the Mary Tyler Moore Show, where he played anchorman Ted Baxter, paramour of Sue Ann Nivens.
  • [Famed ballroom dancer who’s a board member?] clued IRENE CASTLE
  • [Rat Pack guy who’s a board member?] was JOEY BISHOP – wasn’t Frank Sinatra the Chairman of the Board in which Joey was a member?

Tight theme, though it’s too bad there aren’t any PAWNs out there. (Goldie Hawn comes close!) Interesting fill abounds–my FAVEs include SHAMPOO beside EUROPOP and the whole AIRTIME, SLEUTHS and PETTING ZOO triumvirate. Nice to see a clue for STENO that didn’t mention its anagram of NOTES; seems like that variation has appeared a lot lately in my daily puzzles. Finally, timely shout-out to Oscar winner Jared LETO of Dallas Buyers Club. I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s definitely on my short list to rent when it’s available.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle, “Minor Details”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 3/25

Crossword Nation 3/25

Once again, Liz has given us a puzzle in which a single word, uncovered in the reveal, can precede the final word in each of the other theme phrases. And once again, I was clueless during the solve, so that it took the reveal to point me in the right direction. Well—that’s not entirely accurate. I’d decided to forgo a careful reading of that clue so that I might figure out the game on my own. Took me a couple of minutes after solving to do so, but <aha!> then the light went on. I never get TIRED OF that feeling—and I suspect I’m not alone… Here’s something else I’m sure none of us ever gets tired of: really peppy and fresh theme fill (and clues). By any standard, today’s puzzle gives us some of the best of both.

  • 17A. WIND-UP TOY [Waddling penguin or chattering teeth]. The clip associated with the first link is short ‘n’ sweet, with some Scott Joplin music to keep things spirited; the second (silly as it is…) has clearly been made by someone with far too much time on his/her hands.
  • 23A. TONY SOPRANO [TV mobster who asked: “What use is an unloaded gun?”]. While I have always been more than aware of The Sopranos, I’m gonna bet I’m one of the few who has never seen an episode. Ah, well—never too late to binge watch (which is how I eventually caught up with some three or four seasons of The Wire)!
  • 36A. GUTLESS WONDER [Coward]. Now is that great fill or what?
  • 47A. TALENT SCOUT [Star witness?]. Terrific clue here.
  • 58A. ABOUT A BOY [2014 NBC comedy starring David Walton…and a hint to the puzzle theme which is ___]. Well, that’s one long fitb (fill-in-the-blank) for starters, but I s’pose there’s some artistic license allowed with the reveal. As I said, though, it took me a while to see the theme, because it wasn’t happening as I was solving; nor was I getting any help from the title. But then… but then… the light dawned, and just look at the zingy results when said boy meets “last word”: boy toy, boy soprano, boy wonder and boy scout. Boy-oh-boy—this is good stuff! Oh—and the tie-in with the title? Well, a boy is a male who has not reached his majority (age 18)—which makes him a minor. (“Details, details!”)

Liz continues to entertain us with solid, well-clued fill throughout the remainder of the puzzle, too. On my list of faves:

  • PROCREATE with its Bible-referencing clue [Be fruitful and multiply]. That’d be Genesis 1:28.
  • And moving from the sacred to the profane, ya gotta love the way [Type of tape or kitten] clues SEX. My dear. Between boy toys, sex kittens and sex tapes, this is not yer grandma’s Crossword Nation! Still ‘n’ all, I do like the way these items (including procreate) GO TOGETHER (though not exactly in the complementary “macaroni and cheese” way suggested by that fill’s clue).
  • smokerSMOKE with its not-so-easy to parse clue [Have one’s head in the clouds?]. So, no, this isn’t about daydreaming.
  • There’s another sneaky pairing in EATS and [Quits the fast track?]. Here we’re not looking at someone who’s abandoned the daily grind to go live in Bali, but someone who stops fasting to enjoy some food. Like maybe a hot dog ON A BUN, some WONTON soup or some LEMONY pound cake. (Uh, please pass the PEPTO…)
  • RAN AROUND gets the cryptic-like double definition with [Cheated on one’s spouse with a marathoner?]. Cute.
  • LOLA [___ Bunny (Looney Tunes character)] was entirely new to me. How about you? Seems she was created as a romantic interest for Bugs. Also as a merchandising counterpart to him. Long live the American way!
  • OMIGOD!,” “I’M AFRAID SO” and “ONWARD!,” give us a fine complement of colloquial expressions and more than do their share to keep the puzzle lively.

The only combo that feels a bit ODD, is [Obvious punch line?] and SCAR. The question mark tells us that this probably won’t have anything to do with a stand-up comic’s routine, but do people usually get scars from taking punches? Bruises, yes. That I can see. Serious bruises. But aren’t scars more typically the result of cuts? inflicted by, oh, knives? or from making contact with something abrasive (like the sidewalk)? or metallic (like brass knuckles)? Someone more well-versed in the “manly art of self-defense” will have to clue me in!

And that, folks, is a wrap. Except to say wow, that’s one reluctant spring we’ve got here. Hope things’re more moderate in your part of the world—and: solve on!

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28 Responses to Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  1. pannonica says:

    Ditto on K–B–B strategy (NYT). As for NGO, once we get that ensconced, then QUANGO isn’t far behind (Jonesin’).

    • ArtLvr says:

      QUANGO (less commonly QANGO) — In both Republic of Ireland and the UK, a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation. I first saw this featured in one of John Malcolm’s great art-history mysteries.

  2. Ethan says:

    Loved the NYT theme, although two nitpicks:

    1) a walk-off homer or buzzer beater could easily happen with the score tied, therefore no sudden reversal of fortune as implied by 17/57-Across
    2) Doesn’t sound natural to me to say “until” in 17-57 Across… I want to shorten it to ’til

    Those are pretty extreme nitpicks, though. Great puzzle overall, and beautifully filled. None of the entries in Amy’s Parade O’ Bad Fill were all that bad, IMO.

    By the way, originally “walk-off” referred to the losing team having to walk off in shame, not the winning team walking off in triumph. When the game ends in an out, the losing team is already mostly in the dugout.

  3. ZAFTIG must have been intentionally themed. Right? RIGHT?!

  4. HH says:

    “2d. [Urban partner on TV?], LOPEZ. Someone explain this to me. Karl Urban? Mario Lopez? What are we talking about here?”

    Not Karl and Mario, but Keith and Jennifer — as of now they’re both judges on “American Idol”.

  5. hirschho says:

    Does anyone have a link to a site to download Across Lite for Windows 8.1? Were there any problems? Thanks.


  6. Gareth says:

    Loved, loved the LAT and its revealer. A real WITOT!!

  7. Ethan says:

    When was Ted Baxter ever the paramour of Sue Ann Nivens? I consider myself a MTM buff (I have all the DVDs) and I don’t remember Ted and Sue Ann ever getting together. Ted was happily married for most of the time that Sue Ann was a regular.

  8. golfballman says:

    CA. Calif. Cal. but not Cali for an abbrev. of California. Why won’t Will do his job and edit?

    Other wise nice puzzle. Hope hubby got in okay.

    • David (the constructor) says:

      Cali is not an abbreviation. It’s a shorthand, like calling Arizona “Zona.” Note that I have no idea if people do that to Arizona. But as a native Californian, I can say that people most definitely do say Cali.

  9. Brucenm says:

    Very much liked both the NYT and the LAT. Congrats to David and Dave. Endorsing and expanding on David’s point re Cali — it’s more than just shorthand. It is commonplace for Cool Dudes to refer to “going to Cali” in reverential terms, treating it as a Mecca, or a Promised Land. (OK, maybe those are cool dudes from my generation, hence no longer cool dudes; but criticizing anyone for this usage is way off base. Especially if the base if the late lamented Ft. Ord, one of my many residences in my Army Brat childhood.)

    Believe it or not, there is even a restaurant in the Moscow outpost of Gold’s Gym, in the Sokol neighborhood, called “Cali”, drawing on the same usage. It even had expat Cali Dude bartenders; at least it did a decade ago. My love of Moscow and Russia has become sadly bittersweet as a result of the political developments of the last few years.

  10. Zulema says:

    Cali should have easily been clued as in Colombia, with a variety of available and fitting clues. And not only does no one say or write Cali for California, but Frisco happens to be in Texas!! I agree that UNTIL was untrue to the quote, and I wonder if any of that quote should have had attribution. And I also wondered how I had never heard the BUZZER business in baseball? Didn’t think basketball because I know nothing about it.

    • Papa John says:

      Since we’re judging from personal aneccdotes, let me add that I have never heard the nickname “Cali”, and I lived from San Fransico to San Diego and points in between, over the course of two decades. To my ears ears, it sounds wimpy.

      Will someone do one of those Google word frequency searchs for “Cali”? I’d gladly do it but I don’t know how.

    • David R says:

      Cali in Columbia is ironically also a shortened version of its real name which is Santiago de Cali. If you Google Cali you will find a pretty fair balance of both locations with Urban Dictionary calling it an annoying name for California which is the one thing I agree with.

    • john farmer says:

      Californians on parade here at the Fiend. I had made a similar comment at Wordplay. CALI is a city in Colombia but hardly a locally approved name for the state on the Left Coast (à la Frisco). I have heard “Cali” used as shorthand a few times — but not by people who live in California.

      • David (the constructor) says:

        Precisely. Neither is used much by locals. Which makes the clue and answer appropriate for one another.

        • HH says:

          Consider that the puzzle is published in NYC, where it’s written in the bylaws that, to live here, we must take every opportunity to offend Californians.

  11. sbmanion says:

    There is a slight disconnect between the FAT LADY and the BUZZER BEATER or WALK OFF HOMER.

    When I think of the FAT LADY, I think of a team that is losing by a seemingly insurmountable margin or a team is behind 3-0 or 3-1 in a best of seven series. The team that is way behind will encourage itself with the FAT LADY comment. A team could win such a game with a last second shot or a walk-off homer, but the expression would have first come up when the team was way behind, not when the last second heroics take place.

    My favorite basketball comeback was the one initiated by Reggie Miller against the Knicks in the mid-90s. The Pacers were losing by six with less than 20 seconds to go when Reggie made a 3-point shot. He then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and dribbled out beyond the 3-point line and drained another. Still later, after a Knicks miss, Miller made what turned out to be two winning free throws, promptly followed by a Knicks game ending flub.
    The FAT LADY had to cancel her aria that day.


  12. Mona says:

    Re the Tuesday L.A. Times crossword: since Aeneas (59a) was the answer for Trojan War hero, I would have liked to see the clue for Agape (68a) be something related to “Greek for a type of love,” instead of ‘open-mouthed.”

    • Brucenm says:

      Mona, I seem to remember that I once got yelled at many years ago, for making the same suggestion. Obscure, not mainstream, doesn’t have a good rhythm; you can’t dance to it, etc.

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