Thursday, July 17, 2014

NYT 5:20 (Amy) 
LAT 3:26 (Gareth) 
BEQ 8:09 (Matt) 
CS 11:33 (Ade) 

We’ll talk about the Fireball puzzle Sunday night or Monday, in the Monday post. Contest puzzle! And I’ve griped that the Fireball metas are often too easy, but this one … the first 10 minutes of meta pondering got me nowhere and I don’t have a clue how to proceed at this point.

Alan Arbesfeld’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 17 14, no. 0717

NY Times crossword solution, 7 17 14, no. 0717

Compound words that end with “back” have the “back” lopped off and the front runs backwards to replace it:

  • 17a. [Singer in the sea, literally], PMUHWHALE. That’s a humpback whale.
  • 27a. [Plan B, literally], LLAFPOSITION. A fallback position.
  • 42a. [Gridiron maneuver, literally], RETRAUQSNEAK. Quarterback sneak.
  • 57a. [Little kid’s lift, literally], YGGIPRIDE. Yggi pride! No, piggyback ride.

I like the theme, and the crisp assortment of phrases selected. The “backed” word is always the first one in a two-word phrase, so there’s solid thematic consistency.

Seven more things:

  • 20a. [“Smack”], HEROIN. Whoa. I was not expecting that answer.
  • Do you  know how often 23a. ATT is clued as an abbreviation for “attorney”? According to the Cruciverb database, about 60% of the time. It’s [Long-distance inits.], missing the ampersand, here because right below ATT is 26a. [Fiction’s Atticus Finch, e.g.: Abbr.], ATTY. That ATTY clue is quite nice, though.
  • 33a. [Some intellectual property, for short], TMS, trademarks.
  • 46a. [Comprehensive, in edspeak], EL-HI. Meh. I used the “search inside this book” tool at the Amazon page for Edspeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, Jargon, and you know what? It came up blank for EL-HI. If a 245-page glossary of educational jargon doesn’t include this term, maybe it deserves to be purged from constructors’ digital or mental word lists.
  • 7d. [Indicator of stress], ALL CAPS. I AM PRETTY UPSET RIGHT NOW. It works!
  • 13d. [Fisherman’s bane and hockey player’s boon], EMPTY NETS. Not to be confused with an empty nest. But hey! Why on earth is ONE clued as ON “E,” 10d. [In dire need of gas, say], when that E means “empty” and there are only two answers between 10d and 13d?
  • 43d. [Bush successor], QUAYLE. I forgot about that guy.

3.75 stars from me.

Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Check Your Privilege” — Matt’s review

Today Brendan tells the solver (or himself? Or I guess it would be white male solvers only? Not sure) to “check your privilege,” and five squares in the grid take WHITE across and MAN down:

9-A [Guitarist with a 2014 #1 album “Lazaretto”] = JACK (WHITE), crossing [Tropical devil ray] = (MAN)TA.

20-A [Event to get rid of unwanted goods] = (WHITE) ELEPHANT SALE, crossing [Basketball star turned so-called diplomat] = Dennis ROD(MAN). North Korea’s favorite ball player.

38-A [Become pale] = TURN (WHITE) AS A SHEET, crossing [Fact checker’s well-worn book] = ALMANAC

51-A [Admits defeat] = WAVES THE (WHITE) FLAG, crossing [Native American poet/author Alexie] = SHER(MAN). Who is also a BEQ fan, as evidenced by a testimonial on Brendan’s website.

64-A [Harmless stories] = (WHITE) LIES, crossing [The Eternal City resident] = RO(MAN).

The solution graphic is provided by the author himself. I spent a minute trying to figure out who the guy in the grid is, but Brendan tells me it’s just some random dudebro.


***Could not get a toehold on this grid at first; felt like solving a Blindauer where nothing is as it seems. Had BARS for 1-A [Sudoku constraints] when it was ROWS; Had HAUL for [Booty] at 5-A when it was TAIL; Had REBAR for 4-D [Reinforcement material] when it was STEEL. Finally found a solid entry point with [Farsi-speaking nation] for IRAN at 7-D.

***Well you’ve got to appreciate WILL SHORTZ at 3-D, amirite?

***Other good fill: POLKA (“Weird Al” is having a great week; I assume you’ve seen this), SLEEPS LATE, E-BOOK, IF NOT.

4.00 stars.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LAT 140717

LAT 140717

I wonder how many more theme answers satisfy *ET *ET? That is what the revealer, ETTU is pointing us to. There are only three theme answers: [Protection from a bowler], CRICKET HELMET, [Mozart and Brahms each wrote a notable one], CLARINET QUINTET and [“Deny thy father and refuse thy name” speaker], JULIET CAPULET. CRICKETHELMETS were only introduced in the late 1970’s, before that batsmen face balls coming at their heads at up to 150km/h without such luxuries! My classical ignorance made me look questioningly at CLARINET QUINTET, but it seems to be a well established classical trope looking at google. JULIETCAPULET is strongly clued!

With only three themers, Zhouqin designed a grid with nice flow and managed to include some other top answers: JUSTLISTED, TRADERJOES and ALOHATOWER were particularly great and there were plenty more that were nice too! It is odd that SELA wasn’t connected to WARD.

4 stars

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Last Resort”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.17.14: "Last Resort"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.17.14: “Last Resort”

Hello everyone, and I hope all of you are having/have had a pretty good Wednesday so far!

The 2014 FIFA World Cup, which took place in Brazil, ended last Sunday, and I’m still going through withdrawal symptoms. At the very least, I can think about Brazil a little bit more, due to this puzzle authored by Mr. Patrick Jordan. In it, common terms and/or proper nouns are altered by adding the letters “RIO” to the end of the term, creating some puns with a Samba flavor.

  • YO-YO MARIO: (17A: [Foolish Nintendo plumber?]) – From Yo-Yo Ma. Tied for the strongest pun of the four in the grid.
  • SANTA ROSARIO: (25A: [Actress Dawson at a Christmas costume party?]) – From Santa Rosa.  Here’s the other co-winner, in my opinion. Can we actually get Rosario Dawson to dress up as Santa one day?!  Can anyone get on that?
  • SUITS TO A TRIO: (43A: [Customizes music for Rush or Nirvana?]) – From “suits to a T.” If I clued this, the trios I would have used were De La Soul and Salt ‘n’ Pepa.
  • WET BARRIO: (58A: [Spanish-speaking area after a rainstorm?]) – From “wet bar.”

I’m going to start this blog off by starting with the ones, across and down, as that was the last part I got to finish. I haven’t listened to a lot of Garrison Keillor, so LAKE was a stab in the dark at the end (1A: [Garrrison Keillor’s Wobegon, e.g.]), and I also haven’t heard the term LAYER used in the context it was used for today’s puzzle in a long while (1D: [Productive hen]). Rest of the grid wasn’t too bad, especially since once you knew to fill in RIO at the end of the theme answers, it made life a little easier. Using SHOOK, the past tense for 007’s preferred drink preparation was slick (9D: [Prepared James Bond’s martini correctly]), especially given the fact that I initially answered going down, and typed in SHAKEN. Definitely not dealing with genius-level intellect with this blogger/solver.

Is it weird that I love (and I mean, love) the AROMA of coffee, yet don’t drink coffee at all (26D: [Coffeemaker output])? If there is any person that hasn’t had a sip of coffee since the beginning of college, raise your hand. (*Hand raised.*) I don’t know how I made it through college and/or life without having any drop of coffee. Tried it when my dad made coffee regularly before working the night shift at his job, and thought it was a cool thing to drink when I was real young and wanted to feel like an adult. Once I actually became an adult, I steered away from coffee altogether for some reason. But I still love the aroma. Not only do we have AROMA in the grid, we also have ODOR, something left in the coffee drinker’s breath that I’m not so hot about (39A: [Pepé Le Pew’s problem]). Weakest part of the grid was HAMMIEST, as it makes me think of a person who’s won a ham-eating contest (56A: [Least likely to win a Tony, perhaps]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BERRY (49D: [Hollywood’s Halle])– As most of you might know, Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry has had a few high-profile relationships, but her first of those that many in the celebrity gossip world took notice of was her marriage to then-Atlanta Braves slugging outfielder David Justice. They were married from 1993 to 1997. Describing her feelings not long after their separation, Berry stated that she was so depressed that she considered taking her own life. Well, then…good thing she didn’t make good on that word, huh?

Thank you everyone, and we’ll see you on Friday!

Take care!


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15 Responses to Thursday, July 17, 2014

  1. Jeffrey K says:

    ON “E” is likely an attempt to avoid a duplicate with ONE C.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      So really, the grid needed some rework. ONE-C is pretty terrible (obscure + outdated) anyway, and I can’t believe I forgot to point that out.

      • CY Hollander says:

        I actually liked ONE-C: yes, it’s obscure, but the connection with the much better-known (and crossword-popular) ONE-A makes it very inferrable and it’s an interesting bit of trivia.

        • bonekrusher says:

          Great puzzle. I liked the “ON E” clue as it was a refreshing change from the usual ways to clue “ONE.”

          Also, really loved “ONE C” because I reflexively filled in “ONE A” and then spent lots of mental energy trying to figure out if SAHOOB or some other variant might be a nickname for a teacher.

          I’m frequently surprised at the low ratings that crosswords with a “trick” (rebus or otherwise) get on this site.

          • Lois says:

            I didn’t find that the puzzle had low ratings. It received almost fours stars on average, which I think is pretty good. The theme was swell, but I didn’t enjoy it because the puzzle was way too hard for me, with too many really tough clues. There was no way in for me to get close to perceiving the theme. The fact that one of the theme answers was related to football made things worse. That’s no knock on the puzzle, but I couldn’t enjoy it. Maybe the very few who rated it low reacted the same way.

            I believe HH had a similar puzzle several months ago, which I was able to figure out by and large.

  2. CY Hollander says:

    Getting stuck on “reverse” made it hard for me to get “back”. (I did eventually get there.)

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: I really liked the theme posthoc. But the solving experience was not fun for me until I tumbled to said theme. For a while I thought that EMPTY NETS was a hint of some sort, some inversion of NEST given that I had consonant strings that were not looking right. Once I realized what the trick was, it went more smoothly enough. But ATT on top of ATTY, two ONEs, and a bunch of abbreviations all suggest to me that the theme took a toll on the rest of the puzzle.

    • CY Hollander says:

      ATT on top of ATTY, two ONEs, and a bunch of abbreviations all suggest to me that the theme took a toll on the rest of the puzzle.

      It’s hard to see why a theme that involves changing the order of letters in words that appear in a few entries should take a toll on the rest of the puzzle. What makes “PMUH” any harder to deal with than “HUMP”, for instance?

      • joon says:

        i don’t think it’s the theme that’s to blame; it’s the relatively open 74-word grid with those big 3×9 corners. and i rather liked those corners!

        that said, the NW corner (where ONE C crosses plural abbr SOPHS and prefix NEURO, with no mitigating goodness) isn’t anywhere near those corners, so it probably deserved a cleaner fill.

  4. Alex says:

    BEQ- so good.

  5. lemonade714 says:

    I for one found the NYT tedious and innovative without being witty or entertaining. Add to that the fill like ATT ATTY ONE C and the infuriating ELHI, it is no wonder the NYT is no longer the the gold standard o puzzles.

  6. Martin says:

    “Elhi” is in the MW11C. Lots of good words didn’t make the cut to appear in the abridged desk dictionary, but “elhi” did.

    Here are a couple hundred thousand real citations of ELHI publishing. One book that doesn’t list it is somehow more definitive?

    I don’t get the hating on this word. There are a lot of words in the dictionary I don’t like. I don’t use them. But I don’t demand other people not use them.

    • Amy L says:

      THANK YOU, Martin!!! I have always thought of ElHi as the most crosswordese of all crosswordese fill. I really appreciate seeing it in a sentence! I think connecting it with publishing must be the key. I didn’t like the word because I didn’t think it was ever actually used. Now I see that it is, it won’t grate so much.

  7. JohnV says:

    I believe C.C. has done better.

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