Thursday, June 12, 2014

AV Club 4:51 (Amy) 
Fireball 4:50 (Amy) 
NYT 3:59 (Amy) 
LAT 5:14 (Gareth) 
BEQ 7:12 (Matt) 
CS 13:17 (Ade) 

Mark Feldman’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 6 12 14, no. 0612

NYT crossword solution, 6 12 14, no. 0612

So there I was, working my way through this puzzle, feeling like it was Thursday night, enjoying the puzzle and admiring much of the fill, a solid themeless puzzle, and then I get down to the bottom and what the hey? 54a. [100% … or words that can precede 17-, 18-, 30- and 51-Across], a theme revealer? I liked 17-, 18-, 30- and 51-Across as plain fill, and here there are, shown to be theme answers? That makes me appreciate the puzzle all the more! Here’s the theme, phrases that can follow THE WHOLE:

  • 17a. [Long, involved story, in slang], MEGILLAH. Yes, “the whole megillah” is much more in the language than MEGILLAH is by itself. I was kinda digging MEGILLAH anyway.
  • 18a. [Business, informally], BALL OF WAX. Also better with “the whole.”
  • 30a. [Competition in marksmanship], SHOOTING MATCH. Seemed a tad dry, maybe, but better as part of “the whole shooting match.”
  • 51a. [Queso-topped dish], ENCHILADA. “The whole enchilada” works, but of course so does solo ENCHILADA. The places I eat generally drown the enchilada with mole sauce or another type of sauce, with maybe just a light sprinkling of cheese.

Favorite clues and fill:

  • 23a. [Suddenly stops working, with “up”], SEIZES. Better than [Grabs], for sure.
  • 38a. [Email attachment attachment?], VIRUS.
  • 40a. [Modern term for “Roman fever”], MALARIA. I’m thinking Rome doesn’t get a lot of malaria these days.
  • 57a. [Mark Twain’s boyhood home], HANNIBAL. Also the elephant-in-Alps guy, and a TV show about Hannibal Lecter. Apparently the show’s fans are called Fannibals, which I learned today via a Sporcle quiz.
  • 61a. [Like Santa Claus], SPRY. Dammit, I had S**Y and was all set to fill in SEXY. (What? You don’t find Santa sexy? But look at all the beefcake and cheesecake clad in Santa costumes.)
  • 12d. [Bone whose name is Latin for “pin”], FIBULA. Bony etymology!
  • 19d. [“Well-bred insolence,” per Aristotle], WIT. Who doesn’t appreciate well-bred insolence?
  • 29d. [It has four bases], DNA. From memory: Guanine, thymine, uracil, and adenosine? Not quite. DNA has guanine, thymine, adenine, and cytosine (I portmanteaued the latter two). RNA swaps out the thymine for uracil.
  • 32d. [2013 Pawel Pawlikowski film set in post-W.W. II Poland], IDA. It was just released in the US a month ago, so this is very current high pop culture.
  • 36d. [What a hygrometer measures], HUMIDITY. In case you’re wondering, the Greek root hugros means “wet,” while hydro- comes from the Greek hudor, “water,” and humid derives from the Latin humere, “be moist.”
  • 51d. [Company whose name is derived from a passage in Hosea], EL AL. Okay, past clues have told us it means “skyward” in Hebrew, but not that it’s from the bible.


Crosswordese on parade: ENOL, SERACS, EDO (but this time clued as a [River bordering Tokyo]) rather than the Japanese capital of yore.

4.25 stars. I enjoyed this puzzle.

Francis Heaney’s American Values Club crossword, “Come On Down!”

AV Club crossword solution, 6 12 14 "Come On Down!"

AV Club crossword solution, 6 12 14 “Come On Down!”

The Price Is Right has been on TV weekday mornings since 1972, but I fear that the current generation of youth have not gotten hooked on the show during sick days and days off school like we all did in my day. Back in my day, we didn’t have that newfangled Nickelodeon or Disney Channel to lure our eyeballs, no, sir. Anyone have children who like this game show? Anyone under the age of 30 a fan of the show?

The theme is “add a letter to a familiar phrase to create something with TPIR resonance.” I’ve circled the added letters for clarity (… and to discover that they spell out PPERL, which is not a pricing game, unfortunately):

  • 20a. [Fortuitous point in the Showcase Showdown to land on $1.00, on “The Price Is Right”?], ORIGINAL SPIN. Sin.
  • 28a. [Appalled question from Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right”?], “YOU DON’T SPAY?!?” Say.
  • 37a. [Shirt put on in hopes of being chosen for “The Price Is Right”?], BIDDING WEAR. War. Ideally, you attend the taping with several relatives or friends all wearing the same shirt.
  • 47a. [Greeting to the current host of “The Price Is Right”?], “MORNING, DREW!” Dew.
  • 56a. [Pricing game on “The Price Is Right … I Mean Left”?], COMMIE PLINKO. Highlight of the theme! Because Plinko is everyone’s favorite, “commie pinko” is a delightful phrase, and the additional meaning of “Right” adds another angle.

Five more things, briefly:

  • 3d. [Like Salma Hayek or Mitt Romney’s father George], MEXICAN-BORN. You all knew this trivia, right?
  • 24d. [Fathers-to-be, of a sort], SPERM DONORS. They may or may not have any parental rights and responsibilities.
  • 49d. [Slows down, as the works], GUMS UP. Doesn’t work great in the absence of “the works,” but it is fresh fill.
  • 41a. [Khal ___ (Dothraki chief who wed Daenerys, on “Game of Thrones”)], DROGO. Season 1 GoT gimme. Played by Jason Momoa, who is married to Lisa Bonet.
  • 9d. [The green fairy], ABSINTHE. We would also have accepted SPROUT, the Jolly Green Giant’s sidekick.

4 stars, 4.25 stars, somewhere in there.

Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LAT 140612


The puzzle features BUNKBEDs visualised by four pairs of answers that fit the pattern ___bed or ___ bed. They are SOFAbed/TWIN bed, TRUCKbed/WATER bed, RIVERbed/SPARE bed, FLATbed/TENT bed. They vary between using the same meaning as BUNKBED and having a slightly different meaning.

When you have a theme with lots of short answers, a number of interesting longer answers is imperative in order to hold people’s interest. DOWNPAT/ONPAPER/NATUREBOY (link)/WESTWORLD (unknown to me)/LANCELOT/SACKRACE are a nice collection!. PIANIST is more prosaic, but has an awesome mis-directing clue [Benched player?]! MELOTT‘s clue, [First National Leaguer to hit 500 homers] reminds us of his importance in baseball, even if he is (apparently) quite the forgotten player. We also get a Star Wars two’fer in VADER and YODA.

The crossword functioned as a sprightly, easy themeless with a nice surprise at the end.
4 Stars

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 74”

Fireball crossword answers, 6 12 14 "Themeless 74"

Fireball crossword answers, 6 12 14 “Themeless 74”

I’m off to my son’s 8th grade graduation in an hour and I’m still in pajamas, so quick blog, few complete sentences.

Love the W**KING STI**S pair crossing in the middle!

Appreciated SPORCLE, WOOKIIES, ARMAGNAC and TARRAGON, a bicycle TOE CLIP, BOBOLINK, CHRISSY Snow, SYZYGY, CRENSHAW melon, SMOOCH, POMO (postmodern), SORBET, TAFFETA, and FRITO-LAY. That is a lot of crunchy goodness!

Did not know BRANCA, 14a. [“Shot heard ’round the world” pitcher]. Also learned that 4d. [Its postal codes begin with K, L, M, N, and P: Abbr.] is an ONTario thing.

Smooth and zippy fill, lively clues. 4.5 stars. Peter’s one of our “let the database do the heavy lifting” cosntructors, but either he seeded the grid with a bunch of great stuff up front or his database is a thing of beauty (or both).

Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “G As in Group” — Matt’s review


World Cup starts today, so Brendan kicks it off with a puzzle based on Group G, which consists of the U.S., Germany, Portugal and Ghana. This is pretty group deathy for us, especially when you consider that Ghana has knocked us out of the last two World Cups. In fact I have a $20 bet that we won’t make it out of the group stage, though I’d love to lose that money.

For this theme, Brendan makes a rebus from the four FIFA country codes in Group G:

20-A [Song that knocked “The Long and Winding Road” out of the #1 spot] = THE LOVE YO(U SA)VE. Jackson 5. Probably the only #1 song in history to name-check Alexander Graham Bell. Crossing ARO(USA)L clued as [Stimulation].

26-A [Catchphrase by cartoon character Snagglepuss] = EXIT, STA(GE R)IGHT. Crossing [Dresden-born Abstract artist Richter] = (GER)HARD. Bonus points for (GER)HARD being (Ger)man.

42-A [Crashing account] is sneaky for ACCIDENT RE(POR)T. Crossing [Big name in Japanese beer] for SAP(POR)O.

48-A [Chaotic, like a free-for-all] = ROU(GH A)ND TUMBLE. Crossing [Kandahar residents] for AF(GHA)NIS.

Timely theme, and using the FIFA country codes makes it not arbitrary, so thumbs up.


***DON’T STOP symmetric with BORDELLO. Fitting.

***Lovely SW corner, with BOWIE, B OF A, I WIN, OUIJA and FIJI.

***Most BEQ clue: [Layperson’s house?] for the aforementioned BORDELLO.

4.20 stars.

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Terrific!”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.12.14: "Terrific!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.12.14: “Terrific!”

Hey everyone! I hope you’re having a terrific Thursday so far!

My Thursday is definitely terrific (despite running behind on a story for work), because the World Cup starts today AND because of solving this “terrific” puzzle by Mr. Tony Orbach. In the puzzle, phrases/proper nouns are clued using the meaning of its first word, which is another way of saying “terrific.” I’m surprised that Tony, who I think is a New York Mets fan, somehow didn’t fit “TOM” in as an entry, and clue it “___ Terrific,” nickname for former Mets pitcher Seaver.” So now you have no excuse to not know that answer if you ever come across it in a future grid.

  • GRAND CANYON: (17A: [Terrific chasm?])
  • SUPER NINTENDO: (28A: [Terrific gaming system?])
  • FANTASTIC FOUR: (48A: [Terrific quartet?]) – A lot of people are fans of Johnny the Human Torch or The Thing of Sue with her invisibility, but I always have been a Reed Richards person. Besides, he might have the best nickname of any person, real or fictional: Mr. Fantastic.
  • GREAT DIVIDE: (63A: [Terrific space between?])

Sorry to be quick, but back to work real soon.  So a few quick observations here. Loved (LOVED) the parallel long downs, PORTFOLIOS (30D: [Art students’ carryalls]) and HEAD HONCHO (11D: [Top dog]). OVO is unsightly (32A: [Ab ___ (from the beginning)]), but OVO might be what the front bumper of a VOLVO might read if it were to be involved in a fender bender. Definitely haven’t seen OBJ before in a puzzle, and maybe someone here may clue me in as to when else they might have seen that entry in a grid (56A: [It may be direct or indirect (Abbr.)]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MILE (12D: [____ High Stadium (Old Denver landmark)])– One of the most intimidating places to play a road football game for 40 years because of the altitude and the consistent high quality of play by the home team, Mile High Stadium, longtime home of the Denver Broncos football team, actually opened in 1948 to host a baseball team, the Denver Bears of the Midwest League (minor leagues). And that wasn’t the only time baseball was present at the stadium known almost exclusively for its football, as the expansion Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball played at Mile High Stadium in 1993 (their inaugural season) and in 1994 before moving to their current facility, Coors Field.

So long, everyone, and see you on Friday!

Take care!


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17 Responses to Thursday, June 12, 2014

  1. John says:

    I am under 30 and have fond sick-day memories of watching Bob on The Price is Right. To be fair though, my under 30 privileges are going to be revoked quite soon.

    There was a good anecdote on This American Life recently about a drugged up contestant on The Price is RIght.

  2. Gary R says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen MEGILLAH in print – always thought it was Magilla (like the gorilla). Also don’t think I’ve ever heard MEGILLAH or BALL OF WAX used *without* “the whole,” so both of those answers came pretty slowly.

    All of the theme phrases were familiar to me, but I’m nearly 60 – I wonder if these will ring any bells for younger solvers. other than “the whole ENCHILADA,” I don’t know the last time I heard anyone use any of these in conversation.

  3. I was very pleased to see a fresh clue for IDA, having seen the film a few weeks ago in Minneapolis, after hearing my friends from the coasts rave about it. One of them wrote this review, which explains what is so amazing about it without giving anything away.

  4. Gareth says:

    NYT: Simple enough theme, but boy was the bottom-left difficult to finish and the top-right difficult to break into! MENTHE, ELITES (brilliant clue, even when the pattern suggested ELITES I refused to accept it!), RESHIP, HANNIBAL, PILL were all sticking points in the bottom-left. The top-right was brutal to get into. It didn’t help that I had lOG not DOG and sos not APB! Never heard of MEGILLAH in my life!!!

    • ArtLvr says:

      Agreed, Gareth –I wanted A-lists before ELITES., and even tried Skeet shooting before SHOOTING MATCH,,, but it was finally cleared up. Also, MALARIA isn’t something one would associate with Rome, but a one-L fellatio was a no-go.

  5. Pat Merrell says:

    Malaria used to be a huge problem in Rome. The rich would leave town for the summer to avoid the mala aria, or bad air, which they thought caused the disease. That all changed around 1600 when Jesuit priests learned of a tree in Peru whose bark contained quinine.

  6. Squonk says:

    I thought I should point out the added elegance in Francis’ AV Club theme: the added letters were always the second letter of the new word.

    • Francis says:

      Thanks for noticing! That didn’t start out as something I was shooting for, but when 4 out of 5 theme entries happened to fall that way, it seemed like the 5th one ought to as well. (The one that got replaced was NEW CAR ASCENT.) All part of the rigorous quality control process we like to provide at the American Values Club.

  7. Dave C says:

    From Francis’ AV Club puzzle, didn’t catch the brilliance of “YOU DON’T SPAY?!?” right away – and then recalled Bob Barker’s PSA signoffs at the end of each show, asking pet owners to have their pets spayed and neutered.

  8. Margaret says:

    Re the LAT, I’ve never heard of a TENT BED until now, learn something new every day. WESTWORLD, on the other hand, made the whole puzzle worthwhile for me — loved Yul sending up his own Magnificent Seven image. And I’m having trouble parsing 70A: shouldn’t it be “rubbernecker” for EYER instead of rubberneck? I only know rubberneck as a verb.

  9. Jon says:

    LAT: 70A clue should be “rubberneckER” if “eyed” is the correct answer.

    • pannonica says:

      Apparently, in some regions ‘rubberneck’ is a/the noun. Don’t ask me why, it’s weird.

  10. ahimsa says:

    NYT: I loved it! I agree that adding “THE WHOLE” in front made those theme answers a lot more fun.

    I think I heard my parents use the phrase “the whole megillah” several times. And I watched Magilla Gorilla cartoons as a kid. But I thought it was just a nonsense word until much later in life when some Jewish friends clued me in. (google megillah and purim)

    LAT was lots of fun, too!

    • ahimsa says:

      I forgot to add that the way I remember the 4 DNA bases, or at least their first letters (which is all I ever seem remember!) is from the movie title, Gattaca.

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