Friday, June 13, 2014

NYT 4:49 (Amy) 
LAT No time (Gareth) 
CS 25:56 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 13 14, no. 0613

NY Times crossword solution, 6 13 14, no. 0613

David brings us a little new(ish) music and some old(ish) music:

  • 17a. 1974 #1 hit written by Bob Marley], “I SHOT THE SHERIFF.” This is the old(ish) song.
  • 51a. Rapper with the 2009 hit “Kiss Me Thru the Phone”], SOULJA BOY TELL ‘EM. Isn’t he mostly known as Soulja Boy now? And aren’t a lot of aging solvers muttering to themselves about this entry? Rap in crosswords makes some people lose their minds.

Favorite clues and fill:

  • 15a. [It often has chips], CHOCOLATE COOKIE. Who doesn’t like that?
  • 20a/24a. ADRIEN / BRODY.
  • 30a. [Conditioning apparatus], SKINNER BOX. Train your rats.
  • 37a. [Extremely long string], GOOGOLPLEX. The number is written with a long string of zeroes. Essentially: 1,000,000,000,IBID,000.
  • 42a. [Word menu option?], ROGET. Roget’s Thesaurus offers a rich menu of options for synonyms for a word.
  • 58a. [World of DC Comics], KRYPTON.
  • 5d. [Assorted], MÖTLEY. I just like this word.
  • 13d. [It can kick back], RIFLE. I knew he didn’t mean “kick back and relax.”
  • 20d. [Feminist with the 1984 book “Gender Gap”], ABZUG. You can put all the feminist authors in my crossword. I don’t mind at all.
  • 22d. [Dial-O-Matic maker], RONCO. Here’s a Dial-o-Matic commercial that seems to say K-Tel is selling it. Maybe K-Tel was a middleman between Ronco and the consumer?
  • 27d. [Topper of der Tannenbaum], ENGEL. Who else wanted STERN?
  • 50d. [Stooge syllable], NYUK. Most familiar in triplicate.

So lots of goodies, but there’s also erstwhile MCI, plural AHS and NAHS both, SNAX which I am not convinced is actually [Munchies, in ads] (what ads are using “snax”?), OESTE, EDO, X’D OUT, and RETAR. Mostly I enjoyed solving the puzzle, and there were enough good things to ease me past the blah bits.

3.9 stars.

Gareth Bain’s LATimes crossword – Gareth’s summary

lat140613Hi! Yep I wrote the puzzle and now I’m blogging it. I tried finding a replacement, but it was suggested I blog it myself. I know this enrages some of you. I’m sorry. I’m also sorry if this puzzle has given you formication.

I think this one started at PED to PEDANTXING. I learnt of PEDXING signs from US crosswords, fairly early on as I recall – a very odd abbreviation. Here we just use a pictogram. Adding trigrams tends be a good deal more tricky than only one or two letters… Thus, I hope you’ll be a tad forgiving of the two rules being bent in the theme today. The first is the use of plural COWPEAS to build a “wacky” phrase. The second, less known(?) one is that, in 3 cases, the word having ANT added changes pronunciation – PEAS to PEASANT, G.I. to GIANT and PAGE to PAGEANT. Did this you jar you and affect your amusement?

The last part of the theme to be added was THEM. I struggled in vain to come up with a direct and clever revealer. This is a bit more indirect, but I guess it works. Anyway, the answers are:

  • [Roadside sign for sticklers?], PEDANT XING
  • [Lower-class bovine?], COW PEASANT
  • [“Tarzan” character at an Imax?], GIANT JANE.
  • [Coat waterproofing application?], FUR SEALANT

My mother struggles mightily with American crosswords. It isn’t so much the American-ese, but the themes and understanding clues. I bring this up because she started solving an early version, and despite having solved several other such puzzles, battled with the concept of a theme with made up answers; I do help her by warning when themes feature letter addition. Still, she tried jamming PEDESTRIANS in where PEDANTXING is. That’s another thing she does – when stymied, writes in answers that don’t fit the clues, and often don’t even match the clues’ parts of speech. I’m writing this in the hope that someone else here has had similar mental blocks and overcame them, so that you can explain to me how to guide my mother!

I do like to include a few really snazzy long non-theme entries. Despite only 53 theme squares there’s nothing I’m really excited to have included. On the other hand, the only answer I really wish wasn’t there is ISAN: I abhor partials, but a central 9 sometimes requires a sacrifice or two. Answers like ALEE, OPAH or STE? Don’t bother me as a solver or a constructor, unless a corner is saturated with them.

I have noticed Rich Norris often adds a number of explicitly American clues to my puzzles. Today, for instance, CASCADE has been changed from referring to waterfalls to a brand I’ve never heard of…

It’d be terribly gauche of me to rate my own puzzle, but I’m anticipating it’ll end up plateauing somewhere between 2.5 and 2.75 stars.

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “In the Beginning” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/13/14 • Fri • Ross • solution

WSJ • 6/13/14 • Fri • Ross • solution

Literally. And twice.

  • 23a. [Cause of a world crisis] INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT.
  • 30a. [Seed money] INITIAL INVESTMENT.
  • 47a. [Broken ribs and the like] INTERNAL INJURIES.
  • 64a. [Birthplace of David Letterman] INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA.
  • 88a. [Issue for the Occupy Wall Street movement] INCOME INEQUALITY.
  • 100a. [Stock trader’s advantage] INSIDE INFORMATION.
  • 112a. [Fraud fighter] INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR.

Seven sizable and solid theme entries, with a good variety of root words. Yes, a substantial proportion with similar in- prefixes, a smaller contingent with inter-, and some others, but it all seems fine to me. Three, perhaps four, of the seven are explicitly financial in nature—or, as I mis-answered for 60d [Not secret] OVERT (correctly, KNOWN)—and appropriate to the venue.

Individual incidentals:

  • Inevitable infringements (incidental? insignificant?] 6d [Accommodating place] INN, 1a [Spent a lazy day] SLEPT IN, but not 67d [Cross letters] INRI (Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum).
  • New clues for: ERNO, 72a [Conductor Dohnanyi], not Rubik. LENA, 42d [Headley of “Game of Thrones”], not Horne, or even Dunham. Contrastingly, old clue for 84d GUMMO: [Milton Marx’s vaudeville name], rather than Harmony Korine’s 1997 film (set in XENIA, Ohio, by the way).
  • Pairings I enjoyed: 70d [Depths of despair] NADIRS alongside 71d [Rugged ridges] ARÊTES. 60a [First name in Notre Dame football] KNUTE Rockne, sitting atop themer INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA—South Bend is roughly 140 mi (225 km) due north of Indianapolis.
  • 46a [“This is boring!”]. Very tickled by the implied vocalized “SNORE!” Possibly my favorite fill because of that spin.
  • Scurrying through the puzzle, seeing a clue like 2d [Word with head, bread, red or dead] carries the portent of having to stop and think abstractly too much—all those words that need to be connected! And they rhyme, so distracting! Please don’t misunderstand—it’s a great and clever clue for LINE, especially since the relationship is consistent (LINE always follows the given words, though three are compound words and one remains two words). It’s just that it overwhelms if one is solving in a certain style.
  • Conversely, 5d [Some sculptures] TORSI is awkward and overused in crosswords, and the clue is almost always the same or nearly the same. Bleah.
  • 33d [Bad news from a “Shark Tank” shark] I’M OUT. Am guessing this is some sort of poker television show, even though it sounds related to the British Dragon’s Lair entrepreneur program(me). Funny, I think typically of card sharps, not card sharks. Loan sharks, pool sharks, yes, but not card sharks. To the Ngrams! … Well, I stand corrected.
  • 97d [Deceptive doings] FAKERY. Sort of thinking of Amy Winehouse’s “Me and Mr Jones” now. NSFP(rudes)
  • Which sort of segues into 66d [Lady Gaga song “You __”] AND I. Perhaps ANDI OSHO will hit the big time soon?
  • Last, 34d [Nation formerly called Pleasant Island] NAURU. See also, 114d [Coral island] CAY.

Oh wait, that can’t be last. I just have to end with 52d [Irrational number] SURD. Whence absurd, and I’m a fan.

Strong puzzle.

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Day of Thunder”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.13.14: "Day of Thunder"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.13.14: “Day of Thunder”

Hello there, and a happy World Cup Friday to you all!

There are a few people out there that are in tune to puzzles offered up by the near incomparable Mr. Bob Klahn, and bless your heart if you are routinely in his wavelength. You guys are amazing, and I really mean it!

NOT THIS GUY, however! This puzzle kicked my (fairly sizable) butt!! Finished it, I did, but look at the time to see how much this grid put me in a sleeper hold before I awoke just in time before being counted out. The theme is fairly simple, as hidden in the three theme answers in the word THOR (59D: [God with a weekday named after him who can be found in this puzzle’s three grid-spanning entries]). So that was simple, but the cluing was just too much for me much of the time. But hey, it’s a Friday, so you have to expect some venom in at least one puzzle on this day (if you do multiple crossword puzzles).

  • GREAT HORNED OWL: (20A: [Provincial bird of Alberta])
  • LIGHT-HORSE HARRY: (39A: [Henry Lee III, familiarly]) – So R E LEE’s pops gets some love in a crossword puzzle.  Like father, like son!
  • HIGH EARTH ORBIT: (54A: [Most weather satellites have one]) – Of course I knew that!! Umm…maybe.

After finishing, the first four or five words that came out of my mouth were SKYEY, skyey, skyey, and skyey (33D: [Azure]). That answer summed up my solving experience in a nutshell. Never heard of the term, the clue didn’t help too much and seeing it in the grid after typing it in fully made me think it was a wrong answer. But again, SKYEY? That licked me something fierce.

Some of the tough cluing was really slick, including the clues for STACKS (30A: [Arranges unfairly, or fairly well]) and TRIAL (4D: [Matlock matter]). As an elementary school kid, I watched way too much Matlock and not enough of the TV shows a preteen should have been watching. Being an old soul helped out immensely when knowing THE EAGLES fairly easily (35D: [Rockers who reunited to release “Hell Freezes Over”]). But all in all, this was such a tough nut to crack, and regardless of it for cracked, it happened! Now off to dip my head into cold water.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CORK (19A: [Port five miles from the Blarney Stone])– No dipping my head in water yet, because I have to do the “sports…smarter” moment. I’ll use CORK, as the substance (and not the name of the port) is used, by some baseball players, to illegally tamper with a baseball bat, loading the substance inside the bat to make it lighter and supposedly speed up their swing when hitting the baseball (which, in turn, should make the ball go farther). Probably the most popular athlete when it comes to being a crossword puzzle entry, Sammy Sosa, was caught using a corked bat during a game in 2003. Sometimes, it’s not cork that’s used to load up wooden bats, as former New York Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles had super balls shoot out of his bat in a game in Detroit in 1974 after it broke. Here’s video of Sosa’s bat breaking in 2003, exposing the hidden cork.

Thank you so much, and now for that cold shower!! Have a great weekend!

Take care!


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51 Responses to Friday, June 13, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    It is not so much that I knew it, because I really didn’t. I had SOULJA BOY immediately and did not know the ending. But the Soulja Boy dance tune has almost a googolplex of hits on YouTube.

    I just recently saw The Pianist and also had to wait for some crossings before I remembered Adrien Brody.

    Top and SW were easy for me. The SE and especially the Center West were tough.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      And I wanted ADRIEN/BRODY to be either Holly Hunter or Harvey Keitel.

      • Kameron says:

        That was my first thought, too, Amy. I’ll still never forgive Bill Clinton for hating that movie.

    • Bencoe says:

      I didn’t know the “TELLEM” part either. But I enjoyed filling in the entry because I was thinking about all the people who are going to really hate it. I have a certain schadenfreude for the people who hate all rap references.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Bencoe, I had the same experience! All the heads exploding at once, it’s a comical thing.

        • Bencoe says:

          Rap music is scary and threatens my sense of security! Those young whippersnappers racing up my street with the bass music turned up shakes my windows….

          • HH says:

            “All the heads exploding at once, it’s a comical thing.”

            That’s what’s missing from the ACPT — exploding heads!

  2. Tuning Spork says:

    I had DOT for JOT and tried COULD A BOY TELL ‘EM, which gave me ROCAS. SOULD A BOY TELL ‘EM? WOULD A BOY TELL ‘EM?

    Spent about 10 minutes messing around there and at another crossing (thought COAL GAS was COAL TAR for a while) until I finally got it all.

    Other than that, the puzzle was loads of fun.

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    More or less a quiz in a box, the west being an absolute nest. Has this week, or the last few, been a bad run for the NYT? I can’t seem to remember a good puzzle in a while.

    • Avg Solver says:

      Too easy WSJ once you see the theme which becomes evident rather quickly.

    • Gareth says:

      To paraphrase your comment, yes the crossword was indeed a crossword or “quiz in a box”. What were you expecting?

      • HH says:

        No, Trivial Pursuit is a quiz in a box.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I would be interested in knowing if Avg Solver ever uses a crossword dictionary to look things up. Because names and other current pop culture bits are not going to be look-uppable in a dictionary. They’re Googleable, but not so dictionarized.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      This week’s Monday NYT and last week’s Thursday and Saturday puzzles all garnered average ratings over 4 stars. You might want to have your memory checked if you’re unable to remember back that far. (But yeah, it would be nice to have a broadly beloved knockout NYT soon.)

      • AVg Solvr says:

        If someone averages over 2 puzzles a day he’s supposed to have a clear memory of the quality of those he completed a week, or 20 something puzzles ago, especially when none are standouts? I still remember Jeff Chen’s A Cut Above and that’s been how long? (Puzzle of the year and maybe decade BTW.) Go Jeff Chen! Go Jeff Chen! :) And no, I don’t use a crossword dictionary and don’t Google unless I’ve admitted defeat or run into a natick.

        I suppose Gareth was away the day several people here explained the difference between wordplay, common vocabulary and trivia. Maybe someone can direct him to it. It’d be beneficial to his constructing skills no doubt.

        • Bencoe says:

          Were you here when we explained that crosswords are a mix of wordplay, vocabulary, and trivia? I probably should stop responding to your trolling, I guess.
          GOOAAAAAAAAL! Go Netherlands!

          • AVg Solvr says:

            You no doubt remember that day because it was you who was specifically schooled on the matter. And as you’ve evidently forgotten it’s also a question of proportion.

            Good Day Sir. :)

  4. Gareth says:

    Both musical answers were 15 letter gimmes and made the puzzle play way easier than yesterday’s! However my favourite answers were the two beautifully clued science answers: SKINNERBOX & GOOGOLPLEX! The ONESIE clue was masterful too!

    • Matt says:

      I was at the other extreme, where the popcult was unknown and the science answers were (almost) fill-ins. Much harder my way, I think.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Pretty sure Gareth filled the science ones in swiftly as well. He is a man of science.

  5. Let us observe a moment of silence for a crossword staple .

  6. Brucenm says:

    I’ve been frozen out of the LAT and WaPo again for the last few days. I get to the screen where the puzzle is supposed to appear, and nothing happens; the blank screen just sits there. This happens chronically, but usually corrects itself mysteriously; but has gone on longer than usual this time. Anyone else having this problem?

    • twangster says:

      I’ve been unable to use AcrossLite to do the LATimes puzzle for several months, despite following various instructions. Possibly it’s because my computer won’t let an ad play. But I can access the puzzle using the format the website provides by doing this:

      -Go to this page:
      -Click “all games”
      -Click “daily crossword”
      -Click “play now”

      Good luck.

  7. lemonade 714 says:

    I am very happy to read your blog of your own puzzle Gareth as it allows us a view of your creative process. I also enjoy reading the reaction to the editing. One of my favorite parts of what Jeff has done at wordinfo are the constructor comments. It is easy for a blogger to pick apart a puzzle, but more fun to understand where it came from. I especially like your view because your frame of reference in life is so different, yet your puzzles always entertain.

  8. Martin says:

    I think we should all review our own puzzles. Cut out the middleman (or woman) I say!

    -MAS (who’s joking)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Would you like to guest-blog your next NYT?

    • john farmer says:

      I think making the puzzle is enough work. Let someone else do the rest. Hats off to Gareth for doing double-duty (though he’s much too modest on the rating).

  9. Tuning Spork says:

    Today, for instance, CASCADE has been changed from referring to waterfalls to a brand I’ve never heard of…

    My issue with Rich’s clue is that it’s [Dishwasher brand].
    CASCADE is a brand of detergent used in dishwashers.
    Detergent is, arguably, a “dish washer” (though, not when left to it’s own devices), but not a “dishwasher”.

  10. Gareth: Yikes! Mothers can’t be guided! Just take her out to lunch somewhere really nice and tell her she is right. Show her how to use the constructor software, too! She probably just wants to be in on how its done. ((*_*))

  11. Dook says:

    Can someone explain “mademan” and “odoul”?

    • Papa John says:

      MADE_MAN, as in the Mafia.

      I’m assuming Lefty ODOUL was baseballer who played left field.

      • john farmer says:

        O’Doul was an old-timer who played for all three NY teams (Yanks, Giants, Dodgers), among others. Like his onetime teammate Babe Ruth, he converted from pitching to the outfield. He won a couple of batting titles in the NL. Contrary to Wikipedia, he was not inducted into the HOF in 2002 (alert the authorities!); as it says elsewhere on his page, he has the highest lifetime batting average (.349) of any eligible player not in the Hall.

        • AVg Solvr says:

          Yes, that’s all true, but lesser known is that O’Doul was also the Soulja Boy Tell’em of his era who became famous for his Drano tour where he performed in a Skinner Box and often sang duets in Bantu with the likes of Zane Grey, Alton Brown’s Sienese grandmother, a young Bella Abzug (in a Ronco onesie), and a yet to be born Adrien Brody. His biggest hit, The Sheriff is Lame (But I Just Love the Deputy) was the inspiration for Bob Marley’s song of similar name and strangely cited by Khloe Kardashian as the catalyst behind her breakup with Lamar Odom, an early advocate of the Gouda and kefir diet.

          • john farmer says:

            But here’s the question: Did he drink non-alcoholic beer?

            (So is alcoholic the alternative to non-alcoholic? Would you like to have an alcoholic beer, sir? No, thanks, I’m just a social drinker.)

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            John, the thing about alcoholic beer is that you can’t stop at one.

          • Tuning Spork says:

            How ’bout just a recovering alcoholic beer?

          • pannonica says:

            Naw, once it’s spilled, there’s no getting it back.

  12. *David* says:

    Re Gareth-Mom I have noticed that my patience with a puzzle may sometimes flag and I’ll fill in that last group of letters in a way that I never would at the beginning. It just happened on the Agard puzzle with how to spell the center theme fellow’s name. If you have the time and inclination walk away from the puzzle for a bit and come back it does wonders as far as perspective.

    BTW on the non-blogging xword front the Kravis and Fogarty puzzles from last week were the bomb, most enjoyable. Can’t wait for this week.

  13. John Lampkin says:

    Hey Gareth,
    You should have been discussing issues with your aunt, not your mom. What were you thinking?!

  14. Animalheart says:

    Yeah, I had to google the end of Soulja Boy, and if Bencoe wants to use that fact to make assumptions about me in order to feel superior, knock yourself out, kid.

    • Bencoe says:

      ? I said I didn’t know the “TELL EM” part either. I was only referring to people who hate all rap references, not people who don’t know a particular rapper.

  15. animalheart says:

    (And get off my lawn, while you’re at it!)

  16. pannonica says:

    LAT: Had a tough time finishing up the top center. At 7d [Opening word?] I went solidly with TADA, which I feel fits the clue much better than the correct DADA. Consequently, 5-across [They won’t last] became tricky as I hadn’t yet nailed down 5d [Fashion plate] –OP (TOP? some initialed brand/label?). Eventually got FOP and realized FATS needed to be changed to FADS.

  17. ahimsa says:

    Gareth, thanks for the write-up. I really enjoyed your puzzle! I had quite a few chuckles while solving.

    I noticed that one of the themes was based on a plural phrase. So, yeah, a bit less consistent but it did not bother me at all. I was too busy smiling at the image of a COW in a floppy PEASANT blouse. (it’s strange what images come to mind…)

    As for changes in pronunciation, I always saw that as a feature, not a bug! For me, it makes the answers more amusing when adding letters makes them change both sound and meaning. Is there really some puzzle constructing convention that it’s better not to change the pronunciation when doing add a letter(s) themes? I never knew.

    It’s interesting that you mentioned the clue for CASCADE. I live in sight of the CASCADE range (I can see Mount Hood from my house) so that’s what comes to mind for me. I would have liked a waterfall clue. :-)

    And I never mind 1 or 2 partials while solving. I see it as a chance to refer to something interesting – song title, book title, quote, proverb, whatever. I did not know the Vince Lombardi quote used to clue IS AN before your puzzle. So that was a fun little bit of trivia.

    PS. Is there a CHE puzzle today?

    • pannonica says:

      No CHE this week; they’re on their summer schedule. Amy posted the upcoming dates a couple of weeks ago, in a comment.

      For me, (cow) + (peasant) generally = (Chagall). Example: I and the Village (1911) (MoMA)

    • HH says:

      “Is there really some puzzle constructing convention that it’s better not to change the pronunciation when doing add a letter(s) themes? I never knew.”

      The only conventions involve things that normal solvers would care about.

      • pannonica says:

        And fezzes.

      • ahimsa says:

        What’s a “normal solver”? And what sort of things would they care about?

        I have some guesses but I think I’m pretty likely to be wrong. I’m easily confused. :-)

        PS to pannonica, thanks for the schedule info. And I loved the link to the Chagall!

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