Thursday, April 17, 2014

NYT untimed (Amy) 
AV Club (contest puzzle) 
LAT 4:48 (Gareth) 
BEQ 6:03 (Matt) 
CS 9:04 (Ade) 

This week’s Fireball comes out on Friday instead of Wednesday.

Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 17 14, no. 0417

NY Times crossword solution, 4 17 14, no. 0417

I like this theme. If you THINK THROUGH (45a/61a, [carefully consider]) the theme answers, you’ll see that each paired theme answer is an “X through THE Y” phrase. [Blew one’s stack] clues 23a: WENT, which is literally passing through 13d: THE ROOF such that 13d looks like THENROOF with WENT’s N piercing it. PAID through THE NOSE, SHOT through THE HEART, and ROSE through THE RANKS round out the theme. Well played.

Just saw Robert Downey, Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes take on Moriarty in a cinematic CHESS GAME. No OUTHOUSES in the movie that I recall; lots of PROWESS. Other good fill: FAST ONE, NO SWEAT, SIMONE de Beauvoir, SPELUNK, I AM SO DEAD, and T.S. ELIOT.

[“Fine and dandy,” in old slang] clues OKE? Well, oke, then. (Or meh.)

My hat’s off to 17a: REX, who blogs the NYT puzzle every single day in this godforsaken time zone. I much prefer fetching the puzzle at 9 p.m. and being done blogging by 10!

Four stars.

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sight See”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.17.14: "Sight See"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.17.14: “Sight See”

Hello all!

Here’s hoping you all got over the hump yesterday without a hitch and can see the weekend on the horizon. Speaking of seeing, what we see in this puzzle by Ms. Lempel is…SEE. Theme answers are two word answers where the end of the first word and beginning of the second word end up forming the word “SEE” in the middle of the entry.

  • MOUSE EARS: (17A: [Iconic Disney symbol])– Always found it strange that one of the most beloved animated characters ever is patterned after one of the most reviled animals on earth. I suppose Randy Roach wouldn’t have caught on with Walt Disney way back when, huh?
  • CLOSE ELECTION: (28A: [Cause of a notable 2000 Supreme Court case])
  • PLEASE EXPLAIN: (47A: [What’s your reasoning?])– I suggest replacing “excuse” with “explain” in the mnemonic to remember the order of operations. So it would read, “Please explain my dear Aunt Sally.” Learn math, and make fun of a fake family member in the process.
  • LOOSE ENDS: (63A: [They’re often tied up])

Actually, some of the fill I really liked were actually of the four-letter variety: CRUX (50A: Essential point) and YO-YO (15A: [Walk the Dog or Around the World toy]) look sweet in the grid, and the cluing for YO-YO made me remember that, a) I used to be good at walking the dog with a yo-yo, and, b) I almost got my brother killed for trying aerial tricks with my yo-yo years and years ago. Also, we have a reference to the most important object on this earth. Of course, I’m talking about DUCT TAPE (22D: [Silvery sealant]).

Didn’t have too much difficulty parsing the fill, although I didn’t deviate too much from my slow and steady pace that I usually am in when solving online (or just solving in general). For those who possess driver’s licenses, how many of you passed your ROAD TEST (6A: [Driver’s license hurdle]) on the first try? Full disclosure: I didn’t, but I’m telling you, the instructor was a complete putz. He put me on a boulevard with heavy traffic near the Flatlands section of Brooklyn. It wasn’t a road test, it was survival. Of course I failed, but then came back and sealed the deal essentially with a drive around a near empty parking lot. Anyone else who FESSES UP (25D: [Admits to wrongdoing]) about any of their road test slip-ups, please let me know about it.

In about five years, the couch potato won’t be in front of a TV SET (57A: [Couch potato’s essential]). He’ll/She’ll be sitting in front of the laptop on Hulu, but still exhibiting couch potato qualities. Maybe the couch potato will have a box of TWINKIES (10A: [Stereotypical junk food]) beside him/her. Had the “——KIES” part, and wanted to plop down cookies, but noticed there was one extra letter. For a zeptosecond, thought I would have to throw in an extra “o” and spell “cookies” the way the Cookie Monster pronounces it.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NOLAN (32D: [Ryan in the Baseball Hall of Fame]). The Ryan Express! One of my favorite pitchers, especially since I caught him pitching for my favorite team back in the 80s, the Houston Astros. (Yes, the Astros are my favorite baseball team, so deal with it!) Few people know/remember that the first major league team Ryan played for in his career was the New York Mets, and that his only World Series appearance/championship came when he was a member of the 1969 Amazin’ Mets. Ryan holds the all-time record for strikeouts by a pitcher, with 5,714. Here’s some perspective on that record: Last season’s strikeout leader in the major leagues, the Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish had 277 of them. If Darvish recorded 277 strikeouts in every season, beginning in his rookie year, he would have to do that for 21 YEARS to break Ryan’s record.

Ok, now to put away my thermal wear and winter jacket after wearing it all day yesterday. Wait, this is April, isn’t it??!?!?

Take care, and have a good Holy Thursday to those who celebrate (and a good Thursday in general to everybody).


Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “What the H?” — Matt’s review

Brendan adds an H to base phrases, and hilarity ensues:


16-A [Rip off costume designer Head?] = COPY EDITH, not “copy edit.”

20-A [Good source of calcium for those that shun the sunlight?] = GOTH MILK. From “Got milk?”

30-A [Devices that encourage laziness?] = SLOTH MACHINES, not “slot machines.”

40-A [Peer group that’s not impressed by anything?] = MEH GENERATION, from “Me Generation.”

54-A [Explosive bits of Japanese theater?] = NOH NUKES, from “no nukes.”

59-A [Language that’s “big” in Middle Earth?] = FAT ELVIS, not “Fat Elvis.”

So that works, and there are six of them, which is nice.


***Tough to work fill magic with six theme entries, but the NE and SW corners are nice (HO-HUMS is the only weakish entry, but worth it for JENGA, APACHE, THAI, GEEK, A-HOLE and JOHANN. Speaking of Pachelbel, this is one of the funniest things on the internet:

***The central across entry is TAL, clued as [Chess master of the ’60s]. This is complete rantbait for me, which I won’t rise to. OK, I will. Calling Mikhail Tal a “chess master” is like calling Michael Phelps a “good swimmer.” He was world champion! And he was a top player in the world until his untimely death in 1992. Random Tal tale: at the Reykjavik World Cup tournament in 1988, Tal was to face reigning world champ Garry Kasparov in a critical late round. Instead of getting a good night’s rest, he did his typical thing of playing blitz chess, drinking and smoking all night, not sleeping at all. He had to be helped to the board, reeking of booze and cigs and with no sleep…and easily drew the greatest player of all time. BEQ, you woulda loved this guy.

***Amusing same-clue duo at 66-A and 2-D, where [Lost kite’s location, at times] clues both TREE and ROOF. Both also eat frisbees.


3.95 stars.

Stu Ockman’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140417

LA Times

I couldn’t pick HAROLDRAMIS out of a line-up! The name itself is only sort of familiar; I assume because it was in the news marking his death. I saw GHOSTBUSTERS and GROUNDHOGDAY when I was very small and remember very little of them. I’ve never seen ANIMALHOUSE or SCTV. The film names were all familiar though and emerged via crossings. EGON I know as one of the guns in half-life, modelled on the vacuum-thingy in GHOSTBUSTERS.

SCOOBYDOO, with its [“Ruh-roh!” pooch] clue made me smile! HOWGOESIT is its also lively pairing. ITSHOT, GETIN, CANIT continue the exclamatory sub-theme. IPECAC brings more vomit to daily crosswords, after a generic EMETIC in a recent NYT! A mixture of salt and washing powder in water seems pretty effective in dogs in an emergency!

Again with the lack of attention to detail in the small corners. I wouldn’t mind the odd ORA or APO that much in the middle of a difficult to fill section, but there really is very little excuse in a 4×3 corner!

Make up your own rating, because I don’t feel qualified to evaluate the puzzle, given its theme.


Francis Heaney’s American Values Club crossword, “Flight Path”

It’s a contest puzzle I didn’t even look at till 10:30 Thursday night. The contest deadline is Thursday at midnight? Yikes. It looks like a byzantine challenge! Just printing it out now.

— Back 10 minutes later, crossword grid filled in, drawing a complete blank on what I’d have to do to crack the meta. I imagine it’s terribly clever.

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11 Responses to Thursday, April 17, 2014

  1. c flaster says:

    Loved whole puzzle especially 29 down.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    The NYT was fun, though it took more than a moment to remember the Hardy Hog…

  3. Ethan says:

    I question the spelling on AYESHA. Classically, the name of Muhammad’s wife has a glottal stop in the middle. Usually you see it written as A’isha. Modern forms of the name might be pronounced Ayesha due to lenition of the glottal stop, but then the clue really shouldn’t be “wife of Muhammad.”

  4. Papa John says:

    So, is there a reason for the Christian face with the manic grin, floppy ears and bow tie that’s depicted in the NYT grid?

  5. dividable says:

    Impressive consistency in the NYT theme–all four verbs are past tense and one syllable (and four letters long).

  6. Gary R says:

    Enjoyed the NYT. I thought the theme was interesting and pretty well executed, and like a lot of the longer fill. I finished with an error though, at the AYESHA/OKE crossing. I’ve never heard of OKE, and while I think I’ve seen A’isha, I don’t know that I’ve seen this spelling. My first guess at the crossing was an “i.”

    Does anyone know how OKE is pronounced? Does it rhyme with oak?

  7. Gareth says:

    I’m appreciating this puzzle the more I step back from it. Initially, like John, I was thrown by the face; especially when the nose theme answer appeared… The theme is well conceived and tightly executed. I assume the weird-ass symmetry is to fit the unusual theme! Strangest clue for me was [Hardy hog breed] – when I got there I saw “five letter pig breed” and immediately thought of DUROC. But I hesitated to put it in because I don’t know that I’ve heard it championed over other breeds for its hardiness! I’ve seen AYESHA far more than I have AISHA! If Arabic names were so cut and dried as far as transliteration, Gaddafi wouldn’t have so many spellings! IAMSODEAD was hilarious!

  8. Avg Solvr says:

    GOTHMILK for the win in BEQ.

  9. HH says:

    “Always found it strange that one of the most beloved animated characters ever is patterned after one of the most reviled animals on earth. I suppose Randy Roach wouldn’t have caught on with Walt Disney way back when, huh?”

    My computer came with a mouse. I had to supply my own roaches.

  10. Makfan says:

    The AV Meta requires that you connect letters and hollow through the black spaces to get from the upper left to the lower right. The clues tell us that the phrase is 7-1-6-6-2-7 letter words and there are 8 letters in the hollowed out part. I came up with DIGGinG A secRET TuNNEL TO FreEDOM. The lower case letters hollow out black squares. Not in time for the contest, unfortunately.

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