NYT 3:57 (Amy)
Jonesin' 4:18 (Amy)
LAT 2:58 (Gareth)
CS 20:16 (Ade)
Xword Nation untimed (Janie)
Gary Cee’s New York Times crossword
Boy, this NYT blogging thing kinda stinks in the Eastern time zone. I am accustomed to my congenial 9 p.m. solving time in snowy Chicago, but alas (alas!), I am here in warm Florida, wearing capri pants and a tank top and blogging at 10 p.m. My eyes are bleary, but that’s likely from the chlorine and sun. (Kudos to the Chicago Public Schools for scheduling spring break so late! Who knew the mid-April weather in the Midwest would be so heartbreaking?)
Speaking of the time, if you are up in the wee hours (Eastern/Central time) or stay up late (Mountain/Pacific) or just go outside at 9 p.m. (Hawaii), look for that “blood moon” lunar eclipse. I think I’ll be sound asleep then.
Gary Cee’s puzzle has a basebally theme:
17a. [Grounds for impeachment], HIGH TREASON.
24a. [TV show anchored by Bill O’Reilly from 1989 to 1995], INSIDE EDITION. People! If you have never seen that video of O’Reilly wigging out when his teleprompter is kaput, Google “o’reilly we’ll do it live” and prepare to giggle.
39a. [Underhanded attack], LOW BLOW.
51a. [Hundred-to-one odds, say], OUTSIDE CHANCE.
63a. [Batter’s reward after pitches like those described at the starts of 17-, 24-, 39- and 51-Across], BASE ON BALLS. “Pitches like high, inside, low, and outside” is how we’re supposed to parse this revealer clue? Feels clunky. No pitches are described at the starts of LOW BLOW and INSIDE EDITION.
Love seeing DOGGIE BAG in the grid. Less up on RASA RAGA LAHR URIAH ESSEN DADO, which look a little dodgy for the newbie Tuesday solver.
I call foul on the 68a clue, with no hint of outdatedness. Really, ORLON is a [Cashmere alternative]? The fiber isn’t even manufactured anymore, so while it was once an acrylic yarn used to make sweaters, it doesn’t appear to have been one since the ’70s. (Orlon carpet fibers ceased production 24 years ago.) Throw in an “erstwhile” and call it a day.
Only six more months of baseball themes before they take a break for the off-season. (Sigh.) 3.5 stars from me.
Bob Klahn’s CrossSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Emily Postings”—Ade’s write-up
MY. HEAD. HURTS.
There’s a reason I’m not starting out this post with the usual “Hello everybody,” a la Dr. Nick from The Simpsons. Yes,I love challenges with my crosswords, but this was BY FAR the toughest nut to crack yet since doing CS. Mr. Bob Klahn has now caused me to have an aversion to people named Emily for the next few days with this puzzle, inserting “MLE” (or Emily, phonetically) into common terms/names, creating punny chaos.
- DENVER BOOMLET: (20A: [Upsurge in business due to the Broncos?])…from “Denver boot”
- BUM LEGS BUNNY: (33A: [Rabbit with a hitch in his git-along?])…from “Bugs Bunny”
- ARMLET MUSEUM: (41A: [Where to see commemorative bands?])…from “Art museum”
- PORKPIE HAMLET: (54A: [Village famous for its tourtières?])…from “Porkpie hat”
- Reveal: MLE (59A: [“Lady of letters” featured in this puzzle’s four longest entries])
And to think, this puzzle started so swimmingly, getting ECOLI , ELIDES, LOREN and EUGENE right off the bat in the northwest. Knew the first word of the first theme answer had to be Denver, with Broncos capitalized in the clue. Typed Denver in, but left the remaining part of it blank, hoping to hop around and fill in some of the northeast. Only after guessing O’DELL (9D: [Black Star, Bright Dawn” author Scott]) is where I got some sort of idea what was going on…although I was thinking more along the ideas of Denver Omelet than Denver boot, at least after seeing “LET” as the last three letters. So still stuck…
Grid-hopping did me no good in parsing the other themes, and barely could fill any answers below the equator. A big fat DNF was on the horizon, until the breakthrough. Went back to the top, and finally saw the clue that gave me OHIO (8D: [Where to find Cairo and Athens]). Out of college, I lost out on a reporter/anchor job for a cable news station in New York City to a lady that had just graduated from Ohio University, which is located in Athens, Ohio. All the other answers started filling in, and once MEDS seemed right (22D: Diminutive doses?]), I looked at the title again and FINALLY knew what the ^%#$%@ was going on! This was after about 13 minutes.
Strangely enough, the other theme answers weren’t so hard to get since I luckily knew where the “MLE” succession was located in each of the other answers: LLAMA and EGEST (for Bum legs bunny), BEL and TREK (for Armlet museum) and AMIGO (for Porkpie Hamlet) all made it easier to throw down “MLE” and hope my brain could come up with the terms. From then on, things started to go down easier, and that tricky down pairing of PILLED (46D: [Formed fuzzballs]) and GREENE (47D: “Travels with my Aunt” author]) wasn’t able to stop me from finally getting it done. But not without a serious sweat!
The most pleasing part for me in the grid was the numerous references to Looney Tunes, with Bugs, Elmer Fudd and WILE E. Coyote all making appearances in the grid or in the clues. I. LOVE. LOONEY. TUNES. By far the least pleasing was the tough proper nouns, with KELSO joining GREENE and O’DELL. Mixing in botany with COLEUS (2D: [Colorful mint family plant]) and astronomy with CETUS (30D: [Whale in the sky]) also was a hairy situation for me. Oh, and did you know what a tourtière was? If you did, bless you…I sure didn’t.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KEG (63A: [100 pounds of nails])– Another answer that helped me break part of the grid open, and thank goodness for knowledge of football rivalries!! The winner of the annual football game between the University of Louisville and the University of Cincinnati wins the Keg of Nails trophy, with the trophy being an imitation of an actual keg of nails. For my money, that’s the best name of a trophy in any Division I college football rivalry…well, that, and the Iron Skillet (which goes to the winner of the SMU-TCU football game).
Brain is officially fried for the rest of the day. See you tomorrow, and take care!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle, “Inside Story”—Janie’s review
Close but no cigar. No—not the success of the puzzle (which is a real winner in my book), but my success in guessing the gimmick based on the title. “Embedded [“inside”] words for ‘story,'” said I to myself. And the first themer bore that out (specifics later). But instead of each themer’s yielding a different word for “story,” the same one appears each time. But that’s a healthy five times (two 10s, two 13s and one grid-spanner), accounting for 61 letters of theme fill, plus a four-letter reveal, for a final total of 65 letters of theme fill. Not too shabby! And the kind of “story” in question? As revealed at 64A., that’d be TALE. As revealed by way of the theme fill, we get:
- 16A. SMART ALECK [Wisenheimer]. Love both the clue and the fill. Love that we get a tie-in, too, with the LIP [Sassy talk] combo. Because lip is the lingua franca of the smart aleck set!
- 23A. MORTAL ENEMIES [The Joker and Batman, for example].
- 35A. MENTAL EXERCISES [Reciting the alphabet in reverse order, and the like]. That latter category would have to include solving and/or constructing crossword puzzles, no?
- 50A. TOTAL ECLIPSES [Natural sun blockers]. And blockers of moonlight, too. With the event’s beginning at 1:00 a.m. and peak viewing occurring around 3 a.m. , I suspect most folks couldn’t or didn’t fully appreciate last night’s blood moon/total lunar eclipse here in New York. Hope you were able to better experience it in your (non-[Slender violin part]) NECK o’ the woods!
- 62A. FIRST ALERT [Smoke alarm brand].
As much as I enjoyed the theme and the way it was executed, I was even happier with the interconnect between the non-theme fill throughout the puzzle—and the serious entertainment value to be derived from the clues. There isn’t lots of long fill (though what’s there is quite good), so these assets take on even more import. Looking first at the interconnect factor, I’ll add to the example cited above, looking first at the “liquid beverage” row. Here we get JOE [Starbucks buy, slangily], NIP [Tiny taste of vodka] and (more joe…) LATTE [Foamy coffee order]. (I also like the way nip sits above the rhyming lip.) Then, between the ARC DE Triomphe, the BASTILLE, ERIK Satie and STES (those [Fr. cathedral figures]), there’s a whole French mini-theme goin’ on as well. I think it’s even legit to include ÉCLAT, ETUI and YSL (making an appearance with JFK [whose wife, JBK, was a great Francophile]) in the clue for INITS.
Turning our attention to the cluing, first of all we get some witty, smart, non-question-marked wordplay with [Type of brace or bracelet] for ANKLE, [He had the gall to invade Gaul] for ATTILA, (the “Oho, so-that’s-what-she’s-going-for” with) [Victorian middle manager] and CORSET, and [De-tension center] for SPA—all of which I find to be inspired cluing. And among the question-marked clues—which tend to be twistier—there’s more inspiration to be found in:
- [Scratches the surface?] ETCHES. Think about the process…
- [Top brass?] TRUMPETS. No military personnel here.
- [Reduced quantity?] AMT. So “reduced” is telling us that we’re looking for an abbreviation for a word meaning “quantity.”
- [Dinner order?] “EAT!” (Funny. Twist my wrist. Not too hard…)
- And the kinda scary [Horror film cut-ups?] SLASHERS. No funny Mystery Science Theatre 3000 robots here…
Things I didn’t know at all: the kinda functional SERVO [Motor or mechanism starter] and STANA [Actress Katic of TV’s “Castle”]. Although now I’m thinking she may have appeared in another Crossword Nation puzzle and that I made the same observation then… “Déjà vu all over again”—which is yet another observation attributed to [Yogi who said “Never answer an anonymous letter”] BERRA (who I did know!).
So that’s it for today. But hey, where next week is concerned, “DEAL ME IN!” [“I’m ready to play!”]. See ya then.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Ron for Your Lives”
The theme is two famous Rons’ last names combined into a somewhat plausibly clueable phrase. The Rons are both real and fictional:
- 20a. [“What’s that D.C. university, hon?” response (from a director and a former pitcher)?], “HOWARD, DARLING.” Ron Howard I know (well, I don’t know him, but I did run into him at the bike rental place on the beach in Chicago), Ron Darling less so.
- 36a. [Premium-class TV dinner brand (from a fictional boss and an actor)?], SWANSON SILVER. Ron Swanson, the “Parks and Rec” character; didn’t know he was a boss.
- 53a. [Wine that can’t decide what it is (from a stand-up comedian and a fictional newsman)?], WHITE BURGUNDY. Actually, “white Burgundy” is not at all confused, as Burgundy is a place where both white and red grapes are grown for wine, not merely a color. Don’t know this Ron White.
Nice to see STRAVINSKY and DAISY DUKES anchoring the fill–highbrow and low.
Solid fill overall, cluing maybe a little tougher than usual. Let’s call this one … 3.75 stars. I’m off for vacay breakfast now. Ta ta!
Annemarie Brethauer’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The theme concept is of the “members of set x” type. In this case, the relevant answers end in things seen on [Composer’s output, and where to find the last words of 17-, 26-, 40- and 55-Across], SHEETMUSIC. This is very much an early-in-the-week concept, but as an early-week concept, I’d consider this very clever; above averagely interesting certainly! The answers themselves were on the mundane side, but over the plate for an early week puzzle. We have:
- [Yellow sticky brand], POSTITNOTE.
- [Caffeination station], COFFEEBAR. Nice to see it be followed by [Vessel for the Mad Hatter], TEACUP!
- [Crisis phone service], HOTLINE. Also this 80’s South African pop group.
- [Café serving group], WAITSTAFF. That bit of American-ese sounds horrible to my ears. Mind you “waitrons” is used here and if anything is worse!
With a five-part early-week theme, you should probably expect the rest of the puzzle to play safe. Still there were some nuggets to be found:
- [Fast-running bird], OSTRICH (crossing RHEA, clued as the actress)
- [Shed, with “off”], SLOUGH. This word crops a lot in (veterinary) medical contexts! Before university, I thought it rhymed with “cow”, but it rhymes with “cuff”. Slough as in a swamp rhymes with cow!
- [Part of Uncle Sam’s outfit], TOPHAT
- [1960’s White House nickname], LADYBIRD. Going the name route, not the insect one is surprising for an early week puzzle!
- These would be the hardest answers for most newer solvers, I reckon. They were fairly spaced so shouldn’t have led to too major vexation though!
- [2014 Olympics skating analyst Ohno], APOLO
- [18th-century composer Thomas], ARNE
- [Here, to Henri], ICI. Certainly not part of most people’s foreign vocab!
- [Online crafts marketplace], ETSY. Sort of new answer that! One that will enevitably crop up in more and more puzzles! Fun to see now though!
Over the plate early-week puzzle.
Amy, you lucky dog! I’m in Chicago and it snowed last night! Seriously. There’s still snow on the ground but it’s melting because it’s at least sunny (though still cold). I was thinking about you, being here, especially that across the street there’s a place called Illy. I’m going to try their coffee and Not pronounce it the way MAS recommended.
Since I did not know what BASE ON BALLS are (don’t shoot me! I realize it’s un-American), the bottom half took a little more doing than a usual Tuesday.
I still don’t know, but I knew that it was a baseball thing, so wasn’t slowed down.
Janie, great review! I sometimes read the reviews even if I have not done the puzzle and yours made me wish I had actually done it.
I love Liz’s puzzles. Always fun.
thx so much, huda — wonderful to get that kinda feedback! i do the same thing, btw — read reviews of puzzles i haven’t solved — then fantasize about being able to justify the time it would take me to solve all the puzzles i’d *like* to have solved…
and jenni is absolutely right: liz makes solving *fun*.
“No pitches are described at the starts of LOW BLOW and INSIDE EDITION.”
Huh? A pitch can’t be described as low or inside?
“Low pitch” is not the same as “low,” no?
If we know we’re describing a pitch, it certainly is. The word “pitches” is in the clue.
Enjoyed your write-up on the CS puzzle. It certainly was a doozy!!
All right, Amy, if you are in Florida does that mean that the LAT is off limits? I hope you have fun there and will post the LAT before you get sunburned. Have fun!