Wednesday, July 2, 2014

NYT 3:22 (Amy) 
AV Club 5:07 (Amy) 
LAT 3:53(Gareth) 
CS 13:33 (Ade) 

Jeff Chen and Dick Shlakman’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 2 14, no. 0702

NY Times crossword solution, 7 2 14, no. 0702

Playful homophone theme, where three sound-alike words are strung together in “As B Cs” format, making plausible sentences:

  • 28a. [SOUTH AFRICANS ARE UNEXCITED BY SWINE], BOARS BORE BOERS. Gareth may not pronounce BOERS the same as the other words, but the dictionary I checked does include a pronunciation that matches perfectly.

I enjoyed working through the theme. Wordplay! Consistent formatting is another plus.

Five more things:

  • 7d. [Tailgaters’ activities, for short], BBQS. Turns out that the meaning of “barbecue” is culturally specific, and unless those tailgaters started very early in the morning to smoke their meat, they’re merely having a cookout. If you invite a Southerner over for a BBQ and you’re just grilling burgers and hot dogs, she’s probably going to be very disappointed.
  • 32a. [Big name in fancy chocolates], LINDT. I approve wholeheartedly. If your travels to Europe ever offer a stop at the Zurich airport, you could do worse than to swing by the boutique selling Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate and pick up a gigantic bar of fine chocolate.
  • 40a. [“Pics ___ didn’t happen” (“Where’s the proof?!”)], OR IT. Nobody really loves partials (unless they crave them as likely to be easy fill-ins) but the clue sells this one.
  • 43d. [Singer with the 1994 hit “Bump n’ Grind”], R. KELLY. Essential reading on R. Kelly, right here. Not a good man.
  • 6d. [Lena of “Havana”], OLIN. If only she would get a juicy part in a successful, big-budget movie so that we could all clue OLIN with reference to something many of us actually saw.

Top fill: BAD RAP, ABANDON SHIP, NO PROB. Blah fill: TSAR meets URSA, ELBA meets OLIN, ODIE and ELD.

Duplication zone: UPKEEP and KEPT are too closely related for comfort. I’m not bothered by [China’s Sun ___-sen], YAT and SUNS.

Question: Why is ELBA still clued as the [Isle of exile] so often when Idris ELBA is working so much in Hollywood? He’s won a Golden Globe, been nominated for Emmy awards, been on a hit sitcom, and portrayed Nelson Mandela.

Four stars.

Tracy Bennett’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140702

LA Times

Tracy gives us a very creative theme today: phrases that end in words that are also short forms of common first names are re-imagined as apt bynames tied to potential occupations. The clues all use “username”; I’m not sure what’s up with that bit!

The spanner [Apt username for Catherine, the handywoman?], DOITYOURSELFKIT is brilliant! And maybe the seed? I enjoyed all of them! The rest are: [Apt username for John, the labor organizer?], UNIONJACK; [Apt username for Margaret, the geometry teacher?], SQUAREPEG; [Apt username for Dorothy, the Oktoberfest accordionist?], POLKADOT (I didn’t know Dot was short for Dorothy!); and [Apt username for William, the rural worker?], FARMBILL.

Despite the lack of longer non-theme answers, Tracy managed to squeeze in several phrases into the medium-length answers: MYDEAR/YESNO/SATBY/NOHOW/OHGOSH. This helps to make the puzzle sparkle!

Other remarks:

  • [Protestant denom.], METH. Is far more awkward than the drug, but avoids mentioning the drug.
  • [Equanimity], APLOMB. Both fun words to say!
  • [Actress Gaye of “Ali”], NONA is a tough name for a secluded section! I suspect it was a deliberate choice on Tracy’s part. I looked her up… She’s Marvin’s daughter!

4 stars

Tyler Hinman’s American Values Club crossword, “Online Connections”

AV Club crossword solution, 7 2 14 "Online Connections"

AV Club crossword solution, 7 2 14 “Online Connections”

More later—my new desk is being delivered in 10 minutes and … there is still lots of stuff on the old one. Like this computer. Short form: Theme makes puns that involve the names of dating/hookup websites.

—Okay! Desk is sorted, work has been done. The theme answers are as follows:

  • 17a. [Dating site for very active gay men?], DAILY GRINDR. The daily grind meets Grindr, an app that facilitates hookups among men in proximity to one another.
  • 27a. [Dating site for lonely demons and zombies?], MONSTER MATCH. “Monster Mash” meets dating website
  • 42a. [Dating site for people looking to get to second base?], PETTING ZOOSK. Petting zoo meets … I don’t know what Zoosk is. “Behavioral matchmaking”? Whatever.
  • 55a. [Dating site after the bar?], LEGAL TINDER. Legal tender meets Tinder, which I think is somewhat akin to Grindr. You choose people, I learned from a Buzzfeed listicle or something, based solely on appearance and possibly proximity, not on written profile information.

Tyler fit in plenty of longer fill, including “DON’T DELAY,” CLAMBAKE, VIBRATORS (11d. [Robotic members of congress entering a recess?], clever), G-STRING, VIDALIA onions, a mythical GRYPHON, “MERCY ME,” and OMNIVORA. Smart fill, sometimes saucy. I also like “MM-HMM.”

20a. [REI rival] clues EMS. I assume EMS is a brand of sports/outdoors gear? Yes, Eastern Mountain Sports. Not a brand I know—they have no stores outside the East, though presumably they have nationwide web customers.

Four stars from me.

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Old MacDonald’s Rejects”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.02.14: "Old MacDonald's Rejects"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.02.14: “Old MacDonald’s Rejects”

Hello everyone, and hope you’re having a good Wednesday so far.

While Amy is in the middle of installing her new plaything (desk) so she can place her other playthings on top of it, I’ll just slide in and talk quickly about Ms. Sarah Keller’s puzzle today, which are phrases that include the names of animals.

  • BLACK SHEEP: (17A: [Undesirable family member])
  • DIRTY DOG: (27A: [Scoundrel]) – Initially typed in DIRTY RAT…seemed right at the time!
  • TROJAN HORSE: (32A: [Destructive computer virus]) – Computer viruses just flat out suck!!
  • DEAD DUCK: (41A: [Goner])
  • COLD TURKEY: (54A: [In an abrupt manner]) – This is what I’m going to have, literally, for lunch: cold turkey (slices).

I used to be scared when I watched THE ABYSS a couple of times when I was a kid (10D: [1989 James Cameron underwater thriller]), but then realized how much of a scaredy cat I was when I watched it again just a few years back. We have some gods and goddesses going at it in this grid, with THOR (10A: [Adventurer Heyerdahl]) on top of HERA (16A: [Juno’s Greek counterpart]). Not sure how Zeus would feel about that union, although he had other lovers, so he probably doesn’t feel UNEASE at the prospect of Hera running around (37A: [Discomfort]). Here’s hoping you foodies out there don’t run me out of town for this, but I’ve never officially ordered a CREPE in my life (20A: [Brunch serving]). Sure, I’ve ordered pancakes before and some of them may have ended up so thin that they would be considered a crepe, but never have officially ordered one before. Maybe that’ll change soon. If it wasn’t for the crossings, RYAS would have been trouble for me…again (61A: [Scandinavian rugs]). Not sure how I feel about the partial A BEND, though the answer was fairly an easy one to get (25A: [V.S. Naipaul’s “______ in the River”])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LSU (30A: [Baton Rouge sch.])– What do ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich, Y.A. Tittle, Shaquille O’Neal, and Lolo Jones all have in common? They all were were athletic stars that attend Louisiana State University. Maravich is probably the greatest collegiate player the school has ever produced, as he is still Division I’s all-time leading scorer with 3,667 points (averaged an amazing 44.2 points per game in his college career), and Shaq is probably the most popular athlete the school has produced, with a lot of his off-court endeavors (though he wasn’t too shabby playing basketball, either).

Have a great day, everybody, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


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15 Responses to Wednesday, July 2, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    Here is a totally pedantic observation, but for some reason it bothered me, which such observations rarely do: why is BOARS BORE BOERS clued passively and not in the same order cluewise as the other two. It could have very easily been clued actively and therefore consistently with the other themed entries: SWINE TIRE SOUTH AFRICANS is one possibility.

    I thought the them was clever and maybe that is why the inconsistency bothered me.


  2. Gareth says:

    NYT: No fair, you headed off my big complaint before I got there! The correct pronunciation rhymes roughly with moor.

  3. Tracy B says:

    Thanks for the nice review, Gareth! I did struggle quite a bit with that descriptor before settling on “username.” Interestingly, none of the other words I tried was “byname,” which isn’t as familiar terminology to me. I’ve noticed people tend to invent web identity names that speak to things that matter to them, and that’s what I was going for with that choice. I have two web personalities. When I’m feeling small I’m “trace element.” When I’m feeling large I’m “TeeRacyRox.”

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: I liked it and found it very easy, which surprised me because I usually get hung up on pronunciation, since I tend to slur the vowels less that is properly American. Idyll and Idol sound more different in my head than is probably the case in an American head. But I thought it was playful and once again drew my attention to linguistic quirks.

    PS. Bruce, I just saw your post from a couple of days ago with some comments to me. Sorry I’ve been out with a bug. Please write off line if you wish (though I have not yet read the book :)

  5. JohnV says:

    Can someone explain the AV theme? I am totally lost.


    • Clay says:

      All are word plays on On Line dating sites – Daily Grindr – Monster Match – Petting Zoosk – Legal Tinder

      • JohnV says:

        Thanks, Clay. I had heard of Match but not the others. Not in my wheelhouse, I’m afraid.

  6. Papa John says:

    Is anybody getting the LAT in .puz format? The link at Kevin’s site has been useles since Monday — for me, anyway. I contacted Kevin but he didn’t respond like he has in the past.

    • Jonesy says:

      i’ve been having the same issues with — bummer because i vastly prefer the .puz to the online applet.

      • Papa John says:

        I’ve tried those online apps and wonder how anyone is able to use them. This is strange. Kevin usually responds to my emails ASAP.

  7. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Yes, fun homonym puzzle; thanks to all.

    I wasn’t bothered too much by BOERS: yes, the original pronunciation is “boor”, but in English we’re not obligated to pronounce Matt Groening’s last name “khrooning” or to rhyme gouda with clam chowda (as in the original Dutch pronunciations, cf. also van Gogh) — nor for that matter to pronounce “oboe” as in Italian O’bweh even though that’s where we got the word from (Italian “oboe” in turn transcribed French “hautbois”, which meanwhile was affected by its own vowel shift).

    Better 33A:A_NOD of approval than AN_O.D. of meth or whatever.

    I for one am glad that 15A:ELBA can be clued without adding to the tiresome parade of names of people so famous that I have no idea who they are. But even solvers who buy into celebrity culture can appreciate today’s choice of clue, recalling a famous palindrome which nicely complements the puzzle’s wordplay theme.


  8. Art Shapiro says:

    Am I the only one who never heard of BISSAU? And the chocolate wasn’t familiar, despite my excess intake of that product, so I guessed that the crossing was a U. Bested by a Wednesday – oh, the ignominy!


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Art, you need to do the Sporcle trivia quiz, Countries of Africa! Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau are the three African countries with “Guinea” in their names.

      • Art Shapiro says:

        Wow – I’m reasonably adept at geography, except perhaps for not being able to tag the New England states and not knowing my Eder from my Oder. But that is one brutal quiz! Anyone who can confidently place Rwanda and Chad, etc., etc. is impressive in my book.


      • ahimsa says:

        Those Sporcle geography quizzes are great! Fun as well as educational.

        One of my problems is that I learned so many of those African countries under different names (e.g., Upper Volta is now Burkina Faso). I have a similar problem with eastern Europe. So these quizzes have helped me learn the new names.

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