Wednesday, July 16, 2014

AV Club 4:56 (Amy) 
NYT 3:22 (Amy) 
LAT 2:55 (Gareth) 
CS 11:15 (Ade) 

Daniel Raymon’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 16 14, no. 0716

NY Times crossword solution, 7 16 14, no. 0716

Dani serves up a geometry lesson, and uses circled squares in an entirely fresh way:

  • 21a. [Like the figure formed by the three circled letters in the upper left], SCALENE. The T, R, I triangle, with sides of three different lengths.
  • 36a. [Like the figure formed by the three circled letters in the upper right], ISOSCELES. The A, N, G triangle. Two legs of equal length, a third leg that marches to the beat of a different drummer.
  • 55a. [Like the figure formed by the three circled letters at the bottom], EQUILATERAL. The L, E, S triangle, all three sides equal.

Together, the three triangles spell out TRIANGLES. The grid’s got left-right symmetry, which is fitting for triangles since the crossword’s traditional 180° symmetry doesn’t align with any triangle.

Five more things:

  • 11d. [Nesting area for wading birds], HERONRY?? For real? This is a real word, but not a common one. It crosses the plural crosswordese name ARIS (19a. [“Exodus” hero and others]), the German word OST (23a. [East of Germany?]), and the English river TYNE (35a. [Newcastle’s river]). I predict ample Googling in this section.
  • 1d. [Belgian seaport], ANTWERP. Guess what Antwerp means. The city is not actually located on the seashore; it’s connected to the sea via an estuary.
  • 28a. [Highlights show], RECAP. I had the *ECA* in place and almost filled in PECAN without looking at the clue. Was disappointed it wasn’t PECAN—which then showed up at 53d.
  • Three partials (OH TO, OF A, A TEN) felt like one or two too many.
  • 4d. [Football’s Roethlisberger], BEN. Yuck. Way too many rape allegations against him for a lot of us to not find it unpleasant to see him in the puzzle.

While I liked ROSEANNE, CERAMICS, TAMALES, ANTWERP, AMERICA, TRISTAN, and ROMNEY as fill, overall the fill felt a tad constrained by the 7-dense layout and the meticulously placed circled letters. 3.75 stars from me.

Robert E. Lee Morris’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140716

LA Times 140716

This puzzle is built around a solid, idiomatic revealer: GARDENVARIETY. This leads one to a garden variety “words that follow” theme: each theme answers’ first word can fit “___ garden”. The four theme answers chosen make a nice set: always important in the case of such a theme. We have:

  • [Green Day’s “American Idiot,” e.g.], ROCKOPERA. Here you go… Rock gardens are common here in this water-scarce land.
  • [NASCAR winner’s celebration], VICTORYLAP. It took me a while to recall what a “victory garden” is… They’re don’t crop up much in everyday conversation these days!
  • [1995 Stephen King novel], ROSEMADDER
  • [Spare tire], BEERBELLY. The only one that is not precisely a garden, at least not these days.

The fill mostly played safe, but given a 5-part theme that’s understandable, sensible in fact. HONEYBEE, PONYUP and TANKTOP are about the zippiest. HONEYBEE, SHOOT, KALE and PEA could possibly be seen as a thematic bonus of sorts, almost certainly coincidental though! I personally liked seeing AVOCET. Although it is, as stated, a shorebird, these shores include inland ones. I didn’t see one on my lunch-break trip to a nearby pan, only its cousin the STILT (here masquerading as a clown’s prop!) On the other hand, there’s very little of the contrived answers seen in today’s NYT, just the odd bit of ordinary crossword-ese. Finally, when did Mary-Kate Olsen become a “fashionista”, I missed that…

3.5 stars

Brendan Quigley’s American Values Club crossword, “Screwed In”

AV Club crossword  solution, 7 16 14 "Screwed In"

AV Club crossword solution, 7 16 14 “Screwed In”

It wasn’t till I’d filled in all five theme answers that I figured out what the theme was. It’s to “screw in” an “F U” and change the gist of each phrase:

  • 17a. [Dull knife?], FUTILE CUTTER. “Tile cutter” isn’t a term I run into much so it didn’t scream “FU + familiar phrase.”
  • 23a. [Vehicle that can sleep nearly a dozen college students?], TEN-FUTON TRUCK. “Ten-ton truck” also isn’t on my radar. I did some Googling and this doesn’t seem to be a super-common cargo capacity for trucks, but the phrase is in a Smiths song I don’t know.
  • 39a. [Result from getting otolaryngological advice at a deli?], EARFUL OF SANDWICH. This is the one that finally tipped me off, as “Earl of Sandwich” is the preeminent “__ of Sandwich” phrase we have. Listen, people: Don’t put sandwiches in your ear canal.
  • 48a. [Eau de coop?], CHICKEN PARFUM. Mmm! Chicken parm(igiana) is our base phrase here.
  • 61a. [Sulking member of the first unit?], NO-FUN STARTER.

How many other words form a new word if you add an FU to it? There’s TO … and you guys can think up some others.

Five things:

  • 40d. [1969 Philip K. Dick novel about the nature of reality], UBIK. Never heard of it, so it wasn’t helping me put together those two theme answers. I also don’t know 31d. [Wilco guitarist Nels], CLINE, right next to UBIK. Patsy, I know.
  • 22a. [Nile Rodgers band I can’t believe aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet], CHIC. Brendan has English in-laws, hence “aren’t” rather than the standard American “isn’t” for the collective noun “band.”
  • 31a. [Cream shredder?] CLAPTON. Non-dairy, full Eric.
  • 43a. [“Very much so …”], BIG TIME. Great colloquial answer. Also clueable as the Peter Gabriel song.
  • 28d. [Annual song contest organizer], EUROVISION. How many Eurovision winners go on to become famous in the US? Checking … I count two in 59 years, Celine Dion and ABBA. Katrina and the Waves won Eurovision a decade after they hit it big. Time will tell if the bearded Conchita Wurst will become a star here.

3.75 stars for this 16×15 puzzle.

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Lightheaded”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.16.14: "Lightheaded"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.16.14: “Lightheaded”

Hello everyone, and happy hump day! How are you doing today?

There are many times when I am lightheaded, not because I’m dizzy but because of my absentmindedness and acting as if there’s nothing of substance in between my ears. But today’s puzzle, authored by Ms. Gail Grabowski, deals with words that are synonyms to the word “light,” and appear in the first word of each of the four theme answers.

  • SKINNY DIPPER: (20A: [Swimmer in the raw]) – I can boast that I’ve never gone skinny dipping before, although there are two very obvious reasons I haven’t done it: I don’t have a very good skinny dipping body, and I have never learned how to swim. Sorry, I’m only going into the shallow part of the pool.
  • LEAN SEASON: (32A: [Period of decreased income at ski resorts, e.g.])
  • SLIGHT EDGE: (42A: [Bit of an advantage])
  • THIN DISGUISE: (52A: [Weak semblance])

The first question that I had when starting this blog for today is which person does not like their CHILI hot (48D: [Some like it hot])? I definitely like my chili hot, although I can go up and down the temperature scale and still enjoy the chili bowl just as much. But if you’re not an AVID FAN of hot chili, I won’t hold it against you…at least not yet (9D: [Bleacher fixture]). There was a sort of a family reunion in the grid, with both NIECE (24D: [Hallmark birthday card section]) and AUNTS present (50D: [Family tree members]). Yes, LIONEL refers to the singer in this puzzle (28A: [“Say You, Say Me” singer Richie]), but I’m glad to report that, when helping to clean my parents’ house the other day, we came across our Lionel train car/track box that was bought when I was about five years old. I’m soooo excited to put that back together and get it up and running again. I’ll be an over 30-year-old big kid – and I mean big, being 6’4″ and all – as I sit on the floor playing with my Lionel train set…and I’m going to love every minute of it!!

I had initially typed in SPACESHIP instead of STARSHIP, using the actual term instead of the chiefly science fiction word for it (39D: The Enterprise, e.g.]). This, in turn, has now made me wonder which piece of music involving the word “Starship” is my favorite: Jefferson Starship, Starship, or the song You Are My Starship by Norman Connors. I, personally, prefer the last of the three. “You aarrrrreee…my starship! Come take me up toniiiiight!! And don’t be late…and don’t you come, too soooooooonnnn!” Yes, I’m in a singing mood.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PLANK (67A: [Broad board])– Any lefties out there reading this blog? Sweet! Then here’s a little blurb about one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history. Eddie PLANK pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics at the very beginning of the 20th century (1901-1914), and also pitched for the St. Louis Terriers and the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles). Plank, a left-handed pitcher, was the first southpaw to win 200 games and also the first lefty to win 300 games in Major League history. His 326 career wins currently rank 13th all-time and third all-time among left-handed pitchers (Warren Spahn’s 363 wins and Steve Carlton’s 329 wins rank ahead of Plank’s 326).

Thanks so much, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!!

Take care!


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12 Responses to Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: A nice change, with a visual design.

    In the clue “Highlights show”, why is highlights plural while the answer, RECAP, is singular? Is recap being used as a noun? If so, shouldn’t it be “Show highlights”?

    HERONRY definitely got me. I live on the Huron River… get thee to a huronry.

  2. Evan says:

    There are actually four partials — A TAB is the fourth one, right at 1-Across. Yuck.

    And this is odd: you’re getting way more ratings on all puzzles than I would normally expect this early on. Are there one or two angry solvers out there rate-bombing your site?

    • Evad says:

      Amy neglected to bump up the ratings widget to the current week, so raters are combining their ratings with last Wednesday’s. I’ll try to separate the two sets out.

  3. Gareth says:

    Beautiful, original theme! Marred somewhat by so much contrived fill: 4 partials, RST (which I amazed is still tolerated by editors…) plus strangle plurals and -er answers. HERONRY is a pretty common word around these parts. I can remember many letters to the local paper in the past about inconvenient heronries, e.g. BTW, I wonder if ROMNEY was originally cross-referenced to both RAM and EWE?

  4. Toby says:

    NYT: Hooray for an original theme cleverly executed!
    [Begin math nerd nitpick]
    Assuming the grid squares are true squares, the equilateral triangle LES is actually a second isosceles triangle. The length of side ES is 6. But the Pythagorean Theorem tells us the length of sides LE and ES is sqrt ((6*6) + (3*3)), which is 6.708…
    [End of math nerd nitpick]

    • Phil says:

      Feel free to put the actual vertices of the triangles somewhere other than the exact center of the square. Doing so relieves your concerns, and you can sleep well tonight.

  5. Linda says:

    Seems as if “Screwed up” or “Screwed” would be more idiomatic than “Screwed in” for this crossword title since either one is more of a synonym for “fu.”

  6. Papa John says:

    Yeah, but I think the idea is F-U is “Screwed In” the words. That’s the way BEQ rolls — slightly off. I can live with his pop/hip hop entries but I always gringe at his not-quite-right clues and, yes, at his off-color forays.

  7. JohnV says:

    GASHUFFING? Really? Is that a thing?

  8. Linda says:

    Papa John: “Cringe” if you must, but I just looked up “gringe” to see if it is a real word–it is, but you probably didn’t mean that.

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