Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NYT 4:10 (Amy) 
Tausig untimed (Amy) 
LAT 4:25 (Gareth) 
CS 15:42 (Ade) 

Kurt Mueller’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 7 14, no. 0507

NY Times crossword solution, 5 7 14, no. 0507

I like this theme but found myself wishing that there were four themers instead of five to let the fill breathe some more. Here are the theme entries:

  • 17a. [Ed McMahon intro words], “HERE’S JOHNNY!” On the old Tonight Show.
  • 24a. [Lawrence Welk intro words], “A ONE AND A TWO…” From the Lawrence Welk Show, which, incomprehensibly, the Milwaukee public television channel still airs (the show ended 32 years ago).
  • 39a. [Chevy Chase intro words], “LIVE FROM NEW YORK …” From Saturday Night Live.
  • 51a. [Jackie Gleason intro words], “AND AWAY WE GO!” From … I don’t know what show.
  • 63a. [Possible title for this puzzle], “IT’S SHOW TIME!”

This pop-culture theme skews old/classic. McMahon’s gig ended in 1992, Welk’s in 1982, Chase’s in 1976, and Gleason’s in the ’50s. A 21-year-old solver could well have never seen any of these classic TV intros. Heck, a 30-year-old too, as small children don’t usually stay up for Tonight.

Six things:

  • 33a. [Will ___, “The Realistic Joneses” playwright], ENO. I got this one because Entertainment Weekly occasionally features stage shows, and they reviewed this ENO play. Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, and Marisa Tomei are in it.
  • 70a. [Settings of Delacroix and Ingres paintings], HAREMS. Worked the crossings for this answer.
  • 3d. [Score just before winning a game, say], FORTY-LOVE. I don’t know why tennis isn’t mentioned in this clue. Not a fan of the arbitrariness of the score here. Are FORTY-THIRTY and FORTY-FIFTEEN also fair game?
  • 7d. [Small salmon: Var.], COHOE. Really? Maybe with one fewer theme answer, we could have been spared this.
  • 61d. [French CD holder], ETUI. Okay, fine, it’s cute to clue crosswordese ETUI with what the word’s used to mean in modern French. But maybe not in a puzzle that also has ENTRE, OUI, and ARLES jacking up the French content.
  • 47d. [Words to live by], MANTRA. I filled in MOTTOS. Mantras are more a repeated set of words than a recommended way to behave. And them OMS is clued as 34d. [Yoga chants]. No cross-reference to MANTRA?

Fill I would rather not have encountered in this crowded puzzle includes SOT, CHA, LIRR, MONY, EELER, ALS, SUER, ETO, COHOE, the dreaded EMAG, ERN, and ETUI. Too much meh to be offset by the good stuff, like MARRY ME.

Oh, man. FORTY-LOVE and LOOSE LIPS with MARRY ME? Tell me this isn’t a veiled wedding proposal puzzle with POOP in it.

2.75 stars.

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “That’s the Ticket!”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.07.14: "That's the Ticket!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.07.14: “That’s the Ticket!”

Hello once again everybody!

Here’s another Bob Klahn toughie, but this one was much nicer to me than the past few offerings from Mr. Klahn. (Thank you, Bob!) In it, the three theme answers going across all start with a word (or words) that can precede the word “ticket.” Where’s Eddie Money when you need him? And can he make it three tickets to paradise instead of two?

  • HOT AIR BALLOON: (20A: [Phileas Fogg floater])– From “hot ticket.”
  • ONE WAY OR ANOTHER: (31A: [Action film star who moonlights at Churchill Downs?])– Now wondering what ever happened to that ex of Debbie’s. From “one-way ticket.”
  • SEASON TO TASTE: (57A: [Recipe directive])– From “season ticket.”

This was a very chunky puzzle (in a good way) with a lot of juicy long answers and clever cluing. Unlike the other grids of the (very) recent past from Klahn, this one I was locked in to from the beginning. The key to everything for me happened to be someone I see very regularly on NBC, AZIZ (17A: [Comedian ____ Ansari of “Parks and Recreation”]). Those Z’s really opened things up, and BAZAAR went from a stab in the dark to a sure thing to fill in (4D: [Haggler’s heaven]). Absolutely loved the entry for TWOFERS (49A: [Double deals?]). Actually looked up to see if twofer was actually a word, even though I should have known it was by the lack of a red squiggly line appearing underneath the word as I typed this review on Microsoft Word.

As I said, the long answers were a lot of fun, especially the downs. Rare you see ABEL TASMAN in its entirety in the grid (30D: [Dutch explorer who lent his name to a sea and an island]). Knew from the bat that seeing “Puma” was going to refer to footwear, so TENNIS SHOE was an easy one, despite the somewhat sneaky clue (11D: [Puma, perhaps]). My dad bought me a pair of Pumas when I was real young and I thought they were the most awesome pair of sneaks, until I discovered almost every boy in elementary school was wearing Nikes. Going home and asking dad for $90-$120 Nike sneakers didn’t go over so well back at the house. Also liked NEW MONEY (43D: [What parvenus possess]). I BRIEFLY experienced being a parvenu when winning a sports trivia game show more than a decade ago, but those days are LONG GONE now. Working hard for my money, and wouldn’t have it any other way…well, except if 5, 13, 18, 25 and 33 all come up in tonight’s drawing!!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KINGS (19A: [Checkers double-decker])– Before I continue, I have to, just this once, shout out “KING ME,” as I loved doing that when that occurred while playing checkers. Anyways, last week saw only the fourth comeback from a 3-0 series deficit in National Hockey League history as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks four games to three in their best-of-seven Western Conference first round series. The three other teams to pull off that feat on the ice, you ask? Well, here you go: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers.

The weather’s been absolutely great the past few days here in New York: high 60s, warm breezes and very comfortable. Hope that’s the same where you are. See you all on Thursday!

Take care!


Ben Tausig’s Chicago Reader/Ink Well crossword, “Dirty Laundry”

Ink Well / Chicago Reader crossword solution, 5 7 14, "Dirty Laundry"

Ink Well / Chicago Reader crossword solution, 5 7 14, “Dirty Laundry”

The five starred theme answers all end with brands of laundry detergent:

  • 18a. [*Disreputable period in baseball history], STEROID ERA. This is my mother-in-law’s brand of choice.
  • 24a. [*Dangerous phenomenon at the shore], RIPTIDE. Tide Powder, all the way. Try it. You’ll never go back to liquid.
  • 36a. [*Nihilistically titled Metallica debut album], KILL ‘EM ALL. 
  • 52a. [*Use Google narcissistically], EGO-SURF.
  • 58a. [*Hostile response at a stadium], BRONX CHEER.

It’s a simple theme, and certainly one that’s been done before. The “words that are also bar soap brands” theme has probably been done even more times. I only found a few prior laundry detergent themes via Cruciverb (1998 Newsday Sunday by Fred Piscop, 2006 LAT daily, 2003 NY Sun… okay, I’m tired of looking), so it’s not as if the laundry soap theme pops up every year in every venue. And Ben freshens his load with the modernity of STEROID ERA and EGO-SURF, plus some 1983 pop culture.

Highlights in the fill include BURQINI, GROUPON, MARRY UP, POOHBAH, LOU REED, and LIL KIM.

Four more things:

  • 43a. [Defunct boy band with “Summer Girls”], LFO. Who?? I hope that’s short for Lachmann Furner Overdrive.
  • 41d. [Critter used in composting], RED WORM. This is a specific worm? Dictionary tells me it’s the standard red earthworm. I’ve never heard it called RED WORM before.
  • 16a. [Driverless racer, casually], RC CAR. Short for remote-control(led) car. My kid used to be semi-obsessed with RC cars.
  • 50a. [Not as it should be], ODD. What an … odd clue.

The corners filled with 7s are solidly built, with the worst crossings being LFO and ONE-A but the rest not causing me any agita.

Lots of proper nouns, no? CBGB, ENO, KARL, LFO, LISTON, SEAN, HOMER, GROUPON, LIL KIM, KIA, EARL, SEGA, EURAIL, LCD Soundsystem, and LOU REED makes 15, which makes trouble for the name-averse but works fine for those of us who collect names in our heads.

Four stars.

John Dunn’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LAT • 5/7/14 • Wed • Dunn • solution

LAT • 5/7/14 • Wed • Dunn • solution

I’ve vaguely picked up the brand name MEOWMIX from exposure to American popular culture. It’s a clever revealer for “answers that hold anagrams of MEOW spanning two of their words”. John Dunn has come up with a very nice collection of such words. We have:

    • [Chinese noodle dish], CHICKENCHOWMEIN. Spanner!
    • [1995 Shania Twain album], THEWOMANINME. Took a while to remember this. It went 12x platinum, and yet had no mainstream hit singles, according to Billboard. Off-topic diatribe: I’ve never found out exactly how the Hot 100 is calculated, but it should be based only on sales, and isn’t. Airplay is also involved, which brings bias because AFAIK only some stations are counted and all it takes is for these to play a song no-one likes to death one week and boom! Hit single. The UK Singles is believable – it’s only sales and you actually see a diverse range of genres because of this.
    • [Greeter of new homeowners], WELCOMEWAGON. Are these still existent?
    • [Will Schuester portrayer on “Glee”], MATTHEWMORRISON. Don’t know this actor. Still, a nice spanning answer! Sure plenty of people >do< know their TV idols, just not me.

Other answers:

    • [Longtime AFL president Gompers], SAMUEL. Not a SAMUEL I know. I anticipated some unusual name…
    • [Was tricked by a worm?], BIT. Strange clue. I assume this is referring to the worm in the apple trope, but those worms are plant parasites and really don’t want to bit… Now if the clue is referring to pearly pork, it makes sense with the “?”, but I somehow doubt it is.
    • [Like The Who’s Tommy], DEAF. Also dumb, blind. But he plays a mean pinball, I’m told.
    • [Certain Afrikaner], BOER. Another odd clue. In Afrikaans, boer = farmer, but most Afrikaners who identify as Boere consider it as a synonym for all Afrikaners. Some do consider it to be a specific subset with a distinct cultural heritage, so it isn’t wrong, just conditionally right.

4 Stars – Very nice selection of theme answers being the main highlight.

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21 Responses to Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  1. Bencoe says:

    To be fair, they continued using “LIVE FROM NEW YORK” after Chevy left, and as far as I know have used it in every episode since.
    I would have liked to see something more current than the Welk and Gleason entries, but I bet a lot of people are nostalgic about those shows. I’ve seen Welk on PBS, and I don’t get it.
    I also wondered if it was a secret wedding proposal puzzle with MARRYME.

    • Bencoe says:

      Also, AMOR crossing that seemingly arbitrary LOVE. Are RAY, TRENT, or JOHNNY getting proposed to?

  2. ArtLvr says:

    My guess re the Welk reruns on PBS is that they satisfy both the older audience and the budget constraints worsened by cutbacks in federal funding. Their classical music station, which I listen to all night, is one of the few remaining anywhere in the country and I dread the day they say they can’t afford it any more.

  3. sps says:

    FWIW, my babysitter used to let me stay up to watch Jackie Gleason’s variety show in the mid to late-60’s. Mrs. Czerski loved Jackie Gleason and the glitz of Miami Beach—I remember a night-time shot shot over glittering water that began the show. I think “And away we go” may come from that rather than the 1950’s “The Honeymooners”–it was a gimme for me. I had the same reaction as Amy to MANTRA over MOTTOS.

  4. Tuning Spork says:

    Wasn’t “A-one an’ a-two” how Welk started a song, rather than a catch phrase said at the top of the show itself? Seems out of place.

    A more recent 11-letter entry could be Arsenio Hall’s LETS GET BUSY. He had a popular show… about 25 years ago.

  5. AaronB says:

    I think it is a fish that BIT and [Was tricked by a worm]

  6. Brucenm says:

    Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear.

    Atonal music is not “lacking in harmony”, not in any sense or manner. It does lack a tonal center, (at least in theory), and it *is* lacking in traditional diatonic harmonic relationships based upon 5ths and 3rds. I will go so far as to assert that identifying “atonality” with “absence of harmony” is a blunder so extreme as to evince a complete lack of understanding of the nature of music. If there is a source which will support that usage, as no doubt someone will claim, then that source commits that blunder. I suppose someone could try to rescue the clue by saying that it could be interpreted as meaning “lacking in traditional diatonic harmonic relationships,” but you can’t convince me that this is what was intended.

    Yes, the word “atonal” is used in a variety of senses, not always entirely consistent with each other, and is applied to many different forms and varieties of musical language. And indeed, the word “harmony” itself could be the subject of extended analysis. I will restrain myself, (showing great forebearance), from writing an extended article on any of these issues.

    But I invite any one to listen to any of hundreds of pieces which clearly fall under the heading “atonal” — the Berg Violin Concerto, his opera Wozzeck (and many other pieces); the Webern Symphonie and his Piano Variations (and many others); the Schoenberg 2nd String Quartet (and oodles of others) — and to conclude that they “lack harmony.”

    Having said that, I liked the puzzle much better than the consensus, and was amused by the theme.

    • sbmanion says:

      It’s so egregious you would think it was a golf clue :)

      I enjoyed the puzzle. Jackie Gleason was brilliant in Requiem for a Heavyweight.


      • Paqpa John says:

        My fondest recollection of Gleason was in the movie, Gigot, which, I believe was he also wrote. No glib smart-ass in this film. He plays a simple-minded mute who befriends a young girl and her (prostitute?) mother.

        I’m surprised, Steve, that you didn’t mention Gleason’s ability on the pool table. It’s said that he performed his own shots on camera, portraying Minnesota Fats — another excellent example of his virtuoso acting — opposite Paul Newman in The Hustler.

        • Brucenm says:

          He claimed to have run 96 balls at straight.

        • sbmanion says:

          I knew he is said to have played many of his own shots and The Hustler is one of my all-time favorite movies. But I thought he was playing himself in that movie and while I have always thought of him as excellent, I thought that The Hustler belonged to Paul Newman, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie. In Requiem on the other hand, he was extraordinary. Do see it if you haven’t.

          I will say that the climactic scene when the Fat Man says “I quit. I can’t beat you Eddie. (and then to George C. Scott) “You’ve got yourself a pool player” and Scott later says “You owe me money!!” is on a par with Brando and Steiger in the legendary cab scene where Brando claimed that he coulda been a contender.


          • pannonica says:

            It’s better.

            Haven’t read Walter Tevis’ original novel, but I feel Gleason played a character, not merely himself. The latter-day pool player (lout) who called himself Minnesota Fats adopted the name but not the style of Gleason’s indentured gentleman.

            –”Hey! Would you cut out that sun!”

  7. Mona says:

    What’s with the posted L.A. Times puzzle#140501? This isn’t today’s puzzle, although the commentary by Gareth fits.

  8. Davis says:

    I’ve eaten my weight in coho–probably multiple times over–and have managed to never once encounter any reference to a COHOE.

  9. Avg Solvr says:

    Tausig Across Lite malfunction?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Not sure what you mean.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        I get an error page with the Tausig link here and a blank one at his site. I’m using a Mac at the moment and haven’t tried with a PC.

        • Avg Solvr says:

          Okay, I figured things out…I think. :) Been using an iPad, which I’m new at, and another Mac so I’m both learning and forgetting Apple-ese right now.


  10. sandy says:

    Red worms don’t plow through the ground, but instead live in leaf litter on the surface, and are the engines of vermiculture compost bins.

Comments are closed.