Sunday, May 25, 2014

NYT 8:01 (Amy) 
LAT 6:54 (Amy) 
Reagle 7:53 (Amy) 
Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 
WaPo 10:15 (Gareth) 
CS 33:48 (Ade) 

Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword, “Change of Program”

NYT crossword answers, 5 25 14 "Change of Program"

NYT crossword answers, 5 25 14 “Change of Program”

The name of the game is puns on TV show titles, with one word swapped out for a homophone:

  • 23a. [Stoners’ memoirs?], DAZE OF OUR LIVES. Days.
  • 28a. [Leverage in divorce negotiations?], THE EX FILES. X-Files.
  • 46a. [Dumbstruck duo?], THE AWED COUPLE. I checked two dictionaries and both concur with me: “Odd” has an “ah” vowel and “awed” has an “aw” sound. They do not sound the same. (Just like “cot” and “caught” are different, per both of these dictionaries. Yes, I know there are regions where people pronounce them the same. Pretty sure those people are all simply wrong.)
  • 62a. [Tale of metropolitan religious diversity?], SECTS AND THE CITY. Sex.
  • 85a. [Grant Wood portrayal?], AMERICAN IDYLL. Idol. See also: 115a ERIC IDLE.
  • 99a. [Having trouble slowing down?], BRAKING BAD. Breaking.
  • 110a. [Cobbler’s heirloom?], AWL IN THE FAMILY. All.
  • 15d. [Double takes?], TWIN PEEKS. Peaks.
  • 76d. [Tight spot in South Florida?], MIAMI VISE. Vice. This one pains me because of how often I see “in a vice grip” and feel like Incredible Spelling Hulk cast into a rage.

Solid theme except for that Odd/AWED mismatch.

Three more things, in brief:

  • 84d. [Relatives of turtles], PRALINES. Pecans in a butter/cream matrix = pralines, pecans in a butter/cream matrix (of the caramel type) topped with chocolate = turtles. No reptiles here, just sweets.
  • 9d. [Legal hearing], OYER. Been a while since I’ve seen this one in a crossword and I can’t say I missed it.
  • 45d. [“The Rapture of Canaan” author Reynolds], SHERI. Never heard of it, or her. 1997 novel chosen for the Oprah Book Club, apparently. Strange to have Cheri-with-a-C OTERI right there at 60d.
  • 36d. [Stylist’s goop], GELEE. This is rather uncommon, if you’re talking about hair gel. If you Google the term, the first hits are for dessert recipes. If you look hard enough, you can find a handful of “gelée” hair gels in English.

Didn’t admire the fill, didn’t hate the fill. 3.33 stars from me.

The Post Puzzler No. 216 by Karen M. Tracey – Gareth’s review

The Post Puzzler No. 216

The Post Puzzler No. 216

It’s a Karen M. Tracey puzzle. That means there will be lots of ZQJXK action. Here, they’re found in JOHNSCALZI and SUZEORMAN, two full names one of which I’d never heard of, and the other only from crosswords. SUZE is crossed by SZECHWAN cuisine. There’s also ORTIZ/ZIPIT and EXCLUSIVE/EXULTED. There weren’t that many weak answers, TRI/OMNI/INSP/ISP is probably a touch too much for one corner, but all of those are common enough abbrs./prefixes.

I did struggle with some of the names today, however. Possibly, that’s just a cultural frame of reference issue. In particular I finished in the top-right, where I was stymied until I finally dredged up RAISINETS. LECREUSET is just letters to me and [Gimbel] wasn’t useful for me to get to SAKS. Elsewhere, PEACHPIT as clued was meaningless to me: probably if you were female and born in the 60’s/70’s, it was a slam dunk though.

I liked the clecho of [Effort, in Arabic] and [Submission, in Arabic] for JIHAD and ISLAM. HONDURAS as the country with the highest murder rate in the world was surprising to me. The UN stats I’ve seen said Colombia then South Africa (with USA @ 9 or 10). That seems to be about ten years out of date.

No real wow answers for me, but pretty solid with interesting clues: 3.5 Stars

Bob Klahn’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrossSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.25.14

CrossSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.25.14

Hello there, and a happy Sunday to you all. It’s a great Sunday for me so far, since I’m up in the morning and watching the French Open! Waking up to tennis being played across the pond = paradise!

For the second consecutive week, we have a Sunday special from Mr. Bob Klahn, and again, felt more at ease with the tough cluing, so the experience was fairly smooth (albeit slow). Where I got my first foothold in the grid has to be credited to my time in Nashville in March, when I first produced a blog for Fiend. While there, a couple of friends and I went to The Hermitage, the now historical landmark that was the home of Andrew Jackson, and during our tour, we saw some cows with a distinct color: black, but with a wide white ring of hair all around the middle of their bodies. One of my friends, who should be a zoologist if she wasn’t a teacher and part-time sports writer, immediately exclaimed, “Look at the Oreo cows!” I had never heard of them before then, and two months later, here I am answering OREOS in a grid in relation to those majestic beasts (23D: [Belted Galloway cows, informally]). From there, getting OPIE was a cinch (23A: [Shock jock Gregg Hughes, on XM Radio]), with Opie & Anthony being such a staple in the New York City talk radio scene for a while before their jump to XM. Again, knowing sports bailed me out of a jam, as I knew immediately that a world record, in terms of distance, that is stated at 70+ feet has to be in the SHOTPUT (22A: [The world record for this is just over 75 feet]). And crossing it is a word that I wish not to remember, especially when I unwittingly watch those DirecTV commercials with the MARIONETTE wife (3D: [It comes with strings attached]). If DirecTV left its “no more ugly wires” campaign with the marionette son that gets its strings caught up in the ceiling fan, I could have stomached that. Hokey, but no problem. The wife, serving drinks in one commercial and dressed in a nightie in a follow-up, just takes it up to a whole new level of creepiness for me! UGH!

Any puzzle gets an extra brownie point from me when including something related to my birth month, September, and seeing the month’s birthstone, SAPPHIRE, was nice (49A: [Modern or traditional 45th anniversary gift]). A couple of answers (and its cluing) that I really liked were stacked on top of each other, with CAREER MOVE (50A: [What a LinkedIn link may lead to]) and OPEN SEASON (53A: [Sadly, election year for all candidates]). The career move entry is made even better with the presence of HEADHUNT (35D: [Recruit, in a way]). A couple of entries/clues that had me lost at sea included ORESTEIA (4D: [Aeschylus opus]) and WEASEL WORD (55A: [“Pop,” for example]). Oresteia definitely was over my head, while after I got the “weasel” part of the answer, I said, “what’s the other part of the answer?” Weasel sound? Weasel fate? I guess the weasel spoke a word when it went “pop.”

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TORRES (11D: [Only US swimmer to compete in five Olympics])– What’s so amazing about 12-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres – outside of competing in the Olympics and winning three Olympic silver medals at age 41 – is that she could have been a seven-time Olympian! Her first Olympic games came in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, and after competing in the 1988 and 1992 events, she sat out both the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games. Torres’ speciality was freestyle swimming, both individually and on relay teams, though she did win a bronze medal in the 2000 Games in Sydney in the 100-meter butterfly.

The sun is shining bright here (and right on my basil and rosemary plants that were donated to me by my old high school science teacher the other day). Enjoy the rest of your day wherever you are, and will see you on here on Memorial Day, which is tomorrow.

Take care!


Henry Hook’s CRooked crossword, “Change Partners” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 5/25/14 • "Change Partners" • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 5/25/14 • “Change Partners” • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

Well. I certainly would have made headway sooner into the fugaciously mystifying theme answers had I looked at the title. The concept is simple but potentially fiendish: base phrases in which one element is in another context part of a famous duo; replace that element with the partner; retain clue for original phrase, but add question mark.

  • 17a. [Bunny house?] RABBIT STARSKY (rabbit hutch, ‘Starsky & Hutch’).
  • 22a. [Officers in charge of provisions?] QUARTERJOHNSON (quartermasters, Masters and Johnson).
  • 61a. [Righteous Brothers hit?] KANDER TIDE (‘Ebb Tide’, Kander and Ebb). This one was tough for me as (1) I’d always thought the musical writing partnership was Cantor and Ebb, (2) though I recognize the title I didn’t know the song was a Righteous Brothers hit. Partly as a consequence, I concentrated on the phrase “time and tide”, not yet realizing that the pairings are exclusively proper names—people, in fact. Also that the swapped element need not be the final one.
  • 64a. [Place to do homework?] STUDY OATES (study hall, Hall and Oates). Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I believe.
  • 109a. [U.K., Ireland, etc.] BRITISH RIZZOLI (British Isles, ‘Rizzoli & Isles’). Had not heard of the television program.
  • 113a. [Multipurpose opener?] SKELETON PEELE (skeleton key, Key and Peele). Vaguely aware of comedy duo, but wasn’t sure if the spelling was Peale or Peele.
  • 32d. [Raconteur?] PENN OF TALES (teller of tales, Penn and Teller). “Teller of tales”, though familiar, feels ever so slightly less substantial than the other base phrases in the puzzle. Penn (Jillette) is the only partner element that isn’t a surname; (Raymond) Teller goes by the one name professionally, but it is his surname. However, that’s how the act is known.
  • 41d. [Drives very fast?] ALLEN RUBBER (burns rubber, Burns and Allen).

Now a classic?

So there are few inconsistencies such as the single-word quartermasters, first versus last word distribution, but there’s no need to be clinical about it here. May as well criticize the first name Penn, or the fictional characters : real persons ratio. Bottom line is that the theme is clever and enjoyable, as is the crossword in toto.

More to like: heavy-duty stacking of the first and last two across themers, flashy long non-theme fill (especially EPHEMERAL, XENOPHOBE, and EXCITING), Scrabbly fill that doesn’t distract unduly (e.g., FAZE, YNEZ, LA PAZ, SQUID, QUESO, QUIRK, KOJAK, CYNIC).

Somewhat obscure are 18d [Sodium-rich mineral] TRONA, 104d [Nonmoving part] STATOR, 116a [Biblical handwriting word] TEKEL, 2d [Maestro Edo de __ ] WAART, 4d [Composer Franz] ABT, possibly 75d [Next-to-last syllable] PENULT, 91a [Director of “Rififi” and “Topkapi”] Jules (né Julius, American) DASSIN, and 27d [Latin lands] TERRAE. But none of these have unfair crossings. Least favorite fill: 105d [Book between Lam. and Dam.] EZEK., and 80d [Toss Across loser] XOO. Cognate duplication with 20d [Santa __ Valley] YNEZ and 71a [Wholly holy one] SAINT; incidentally, TRONA, California is in crossword-friendly INYO county.

11a [Munch depiction] SCREAM; 51a [Peace Prize city] OSLO. 6a [Caliph’s faith] ISLAM; 57a [Center of group activity] MECCA. Favorite clue: 9d [Florentine flower] ARNO.

Fine, entertaining crossword.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “We’ve Got Company”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 5 25 14 "We've Got Company"

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 5 25 14 “We’ve Got Company”

Well, this is disappointing. The theme doesn’t consist of the long answers. The theme, as explained by the notepad hint, is “Each hidden company name reads across, straddles at least two adjacent words, and is five or six letters long. Can you find all 10?” I have always been good at word search puzzles, at spotting words hidden amid chaff, and I’ve gone through every Across row in this puzzle twice and have not found a single company name. YAASSA, ETLID, SMANT? These are not company names, and I couldn’t find anything good in the other rows. AGWOO! ABSEA! MUTOSE! What gives? Did you folks all find each of the 10 company names?

Okay, wait. I was reading “straddles at least two adjacent words” as meaning “straddles two adjacent entries.” Let’s look within the long answers. Hey! There are the hidden answers. I think the notepad entry could have been worded more clearly.

  • 23a. [1960s comedy hour co-host], DICK MARTIN. Kmart.
  • 25a. [Certain music teacher], VOCAL COACH. Alcoa.
  • 33a. [Only solo artist to win back-to-back Record of the Year Grammys], ROBERTA FLACK. Aflac.
  • 41a. [“It’s almost impossible to know …”], “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE.” Canon.
  • 65a. [Horn piece], TRUMPET CONCERTO. Petco.
  • 75a. [Fajita ingredient, often], BONELESS CHICKEN. Schick.
  • 96a. [Get nosed out of first place], SLIP TO NUMBER TWO. Lipton. I raise a dubious eyebrow at the the crossword-worthiness of SLIP TO NUMBER TWO.
  • 106a. [“North by Northwest” screenwriter], ERNEST LEHMAN. Nestle.
  • 118a. [Cow or pig], FARM ANIMAL. Armani.
  • 122a. [Win at last], END UP ON TOP. DuPont.

Favorite clue: 128a. [Jackson Browne’s first name], CLYDE. Pop trivia I didn’t know! Born Clyde Jackson Browne. Could he have ever made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Clyde Browne?

And now, six more things:

  • Two plural first name answers were clued with one familiar last name and one entirely unfamiliar one: 97d. [Anderson and Tiffin], PAMELAS. I don’t know Tiffin. Playboy and European exploitation films? Disappointing. 73a. [Actresses Allgood and Gilbert], SARAS. I don’t know Allgood. Died well before I was born. Gilbert and Anderson are much closer to my age.
  • 22a. [Word that appears twice in a governor’s name], CHRIS. Until I had letters from the crossings, this clue mystified me. Chris Christie!
  • 30a. [Basketball great-turned-pitchman], O’NEAL. He also does sports commentary and hosts a funny sports clip show. “Pitchman” sounds so sleazy.
  • 1d. [Camaro or Camry], MODEL. I was trying to figure out how the more specific COUPE or SEDAN could possibly work for those two cars.
  • 6d. [Mattress firm], SERTA. Why don’t we see this clue all the time for the mattress companies? The play on “firm mattress” is fun.
  • 7d. [Skewered Thai appetizer], SATAY. I feel like most of our SATAY clues call it Indonesian, which it also is, but there are a zillion more Thai restaurants than Indonesian restaurants in this country. Cruciverb, mind you, does not back up my supposition. Maybe it’s the indie puzzles that are Indonesianing the SATAY/SATE clues?

3.75 stars. MCCAFE and TANGRAM were nice to see in the grid, but STEN and KENO, et al., counteracted them. Overall, I found there was less fun in the grid and clues than Merl usually provides.

C.C. Burnikel’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “Intel Inside”

LA Times crossword solution, 5 25 14 "Intel Inside"

LA Times crossword solution, 5 25 14 “Intel Inside”

This is far more likable than the typical “3-letter chunk is embedded within unrelated phrases” theme. The title “Intel Inside,” is both a familiar commercial computer-chip slogan and a sort of description of the theme: 123a. NSA is clued as [Intel collector hidden in nine puzzle answers]. That the NSA is lurking inside everything is so apt! Most other embedded words are nowhere near as inherently stealthy and invasive. So the theme’s rationale is apt. Here are the phrases that the NSA has hacked into:
23a. [“When it rains, it pours” brand], MORTON SALT.
29a. [1954 Kurosawa classic], SEVEN SAMURAI.
43a. [Only player to appear in both the Super Bowl and World Series], DEION SANDERS.
52a. [Game with many imitators], SIMON SAYS. I love this clue! (Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post themeless is packed with twisty clues, too.) I was thinking of games that get imitated (consider the Threes app spawning 2048 and countless other imitators) rather than ones played by people imitating.
65a. [Cecilia, to musicians], PATRON SAINT. This may or may not be the Cecilia in the Simon & Garfunkel song.
84a. [Baseball closer’s nightmare], BLOWN SAVE.
91a. [Investment firm founded in 1869], GOLDMAN SACHS.
103a. [Classic sci-fi gesture], VULCAN SALUTE.
113a. [Leafy course], GREEN SALAD.

The theme answers are a good grab bag of things. Familiar corporate names, classic movie, an athlete and a sports term, a childhood game, pop culture, and a couple garden-variety familiar phrases (GREEN SALAD and PATRON SAINT).

In the fill, WHERE’S WALDO, ORSON WELLS, RAN LAPS, SANGRIA, NEATNIK, and NARY A SOUL sparkle. Only RATED A (88d. [Top-notch]) and “prefix” HEMA- irked me. For the latter, hemo- and hemato- are the combining forms for blood terms, not hema-.

4.25 stars. A quick but satisfying solve.

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17 Responses to Sunday, May 25, 2014

  1. Brucenm says:

    Would anyone be able to send me a working link to yesterday’s Stumper? Stan’s Newsday site has decided to crash my computer repeatedly, so I can’t get it. I can get the pdf of *today’s* (Sunday) puzzle, but there is no “calendar” allowing access to a previous day. Thanks.

  2. Brucenm says:

    Now Matt Gaffney’s weekly contest site does the same thing. Is this just me?

  3. sbmanion says:

    I wasn’t going to say anything, because it is not a big deal, but since I have seen several problems arise for people over the past few days, including Bruce today, let me mention mine. I am writing this post through Internet Explorer. I normally use Google Chrome. When I attempt to access Crossword Fiend through Google Chrome, it directs me to the Fiend on May 22. Chrome works for all other websites. I have turned my computer off and on, but that is the limit of my computer repair skills. I can be reached at if anyone knows how to fix this.

    I am torn by clue/answer combos like The Rapture of Canaan Author Reynolds/Sheri. I wonder how many people actually knew that. Certainly it would be a higher percentage of crossword solvers than of the public at large. So long as the answer is gettable, I normally appreciate the entry because it may direct me to a book I should read. On the other hand, it rekindles my ongoing resentment that there are so few sports clues, which for the most part, are known by a far greater percentage of the public than are literary clues and yet the highly vocal objection to such clues by the sports-challenged has had an effect over time on Will and those who create puzzles. Why put in a sports clue that could sink an otherwise worthy puzzle?

    Being from Buffalo with its hard-A accent, Awed and Odd are dramatically different as are All and Awl. I thought the fill was good and the puzzle on the whole was quite good.


  4. Huda says:

    Just in case it helps anyone: In general, whenever I’ve had trouble with this website while the rest of my internet connection was working, it’s been related to cookies.

    I liked the NYT better than Amy. While I was not AWED, I felt that it was clean and the theme was well executed. Some people like their puns to be awful, and these were not. But that actually decreased my annoyance factor and increased my enjoyment.

    There was a wedding vibe (or may be I’m more alert to those because my daughter is getting married this fall).

    Off to scramble some eggs using a trick I learned from Rex Stout (hi Bruce!)– very, very low heat.

    • Brucenm says:

      Absolutely — to paraphrase — to scramble 2 eggs properly takes 40 minutes of slow, continuous motion over very low heat, so that every drop of moisture is just barely, softly solidified. I’m trying to remember which book. Perhaps *The Mother Hunt.*

    • ArtLvr says:

      I agreed with Huda on the puzzle, and also note that I attended a wedding yesterday, standing in as step-mom of the groom which was heartwarming since both his parents are deceased.

  5. Gary R says:

    Amy, I’m curious why you called out the AWED/odd mismatch, but not SECTS/sex? Personally, I didn’t mind either one – thought they were close enough to work. But it seems that if one is bad, so is the other.

    • Papa John says:

      Poets can have near rhyme, so why not near homonym for constructors?

    • pannonica says:

      Don’t pivotal vowel-sound discrepancies ruin a rhyme more than ancillary consonant sounds?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I like pannonica’s theory and will agree that vowels being off-kilter are more jarring than subtle consonant differences. As someone with hearing loss, so many consonants are tricky to distinguish anyway, but vowels are distinct. Distinct, unless somebody with a non-received pronunciation (or a foreign accent) says a word—then the way I expect the word to sound, and the way the speaker’s mouth moves to form the word, go all kablooey.

        • Brucenm says:

          Amy, I would have imagined that Chicago was a place where ‘awed’ and ‘odd’ sounded pretty much the same, but I guess that’s wrong. For example, people trying to parody a Chicago accent, (probably inaccurately), pronounce “sausage” with the first vowel sound somewhere between “boss” and “sass.” (There’s that TV commercial with the Bears fans and Aaron Rogers.) The complexities of regional accent variations fascinate me, perhaps because I’ve lived so many places and tend to pick up the speech patterns of whomever I’m talking to.

          I liked the NYT, and thought the theme entries were straightforward, but clever.

          • ArtLvr says:

            Being from Chicago orginally, I can vouch for accents in those parts which vary tremendously, even in my own family! Do roof and root have thesame vowel sound, etc.? Depends a lot on where we’ve lived since high school days… My mother, who went to Smith as I did, recalled that she’d been required to attend a special class there to “correct” her accent!!!

  6. Don Lloyd says:

    I think the pronunciations of ODD and AWED are certainly close enough to fully qualify as puns. And since there are regions where people pronounce them the same, I wouldn’t declare those regions to be in error – I would declare the dictionaries to be incomplete.

  7. Martin says:

    I don’t understand Amy’s “war on KENO”.

    What I do understand is that it’s not common in her neck of the woods, but it is in other places… such as my neck of the woods, also Vegas, Reno and other gaming meccas.

    So what’s the problem?


  8. Zulema says:

    Beautiful Karen Tracey WaPo. And I did manage not to abandon the NYT this week. Liked it better than most recent ones.

  9. Christopher Smith says:

    Agree with Amy on AWED/ODD. NYT will do an accent-based theme sometimes but this wasn’t one of them. It stands out as different from the others. But the puzzle as a whole was fine.

  10. ahimsa says:

    Reagle: Funny write-up! :-) I had no trouble with the note, actually, but I enjoyed the joke.

    As for the puzzle, MCCAFE was brand new to me. I’m a vegetarian so I don’t ever go to McDonalds. But I had seen ads about their coffee drinks somewhere so I figured it out eventually. And that clue for CHRIS was a good one.

    NYT: You folks will probably laugh but my biggest surprise was the clue for ATM, “Rest stop convenience, for short.” There are ATMs at rest stops?! I don’t think we have those at our Oregon rest stops but maybe I’ve just missed them. My favorite clue was for PRALINES, “Relatives of turtles.”

    Oh, and I’m one of those “wrong” people who pronounce awed and odd just about the same. :-)

    LAT: I liked it even though I saw the hidden “intel inside” (NSA) from the very first theme entry. Cute!

    Happy “Towel Day,” “National Wine Day,” and “Nerd/Geek Pride Day” to all!

Comments are closed.