Wednesday, August 20, 2014

AV Club 4:31* (Amy) 
NYT 3:08 (Amy) 
LAT 3:35 (Gareth) 
CS 9:18 (Ade) 

Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 20 14, no. 0820

NY Times crossword solution, 8 20 14, no. 0820

Have we had a Wheel of Fortune RSTLNE theme before?

  • 55d. [Like the initial letters of the answers to the six starred clues, on “Wheel of Fortune”] clues FREE, and we’re talking about RSTLNE in the, uh, bonus round or whatever you call it.
  • 17a. [*Fare for those 17 and up], R-RATED MOVIE.
  • 22a. [*Astronomical red giant], S-STAR. I typically grumble at letter + STAR entries, but at least this one has a thematic purpose for appearing in the puzzle.
  • 28a. [*”Invest With Confidence” firm], T. ROWE PRICE.
  • 48a. [*Best-selling novelist who wrote the children’s poetry volume “Father Goose”], L. FRANK BAUM.
  • 54a. [*”It’s Gonna Be Me” group], ‘N SYNC.
  • 60a. [*The Boss’s backup musicians], E STREET BAND.

Ever so mildly off-putting to have another stand-alone letter right there in 1-Across, though it comes at the end of its answer: 1a. [Start to grunt?], HARD G. (Good clue, that.)

Six more things:

  • CLASS ACT, RHAPSODY, and UPSTAGE are particularly welcome entries.
  • 15a. [Plain People], AMISH. I almost jumped at OTOES, KIOWA, or OSAGE, but this is the adjective Plain and not the geographic Plains. Interesting article last month about Chicago’s Union Station as an Amtrak hub for America’s Amish folk.
  • 32a. [Top of a platter], SIDE A. I would love to see this and SIDEB fall off constructors’ word lists, as what’s more “in the language” is A-side and B-side.
  • 53a. [Windblown soil], LOESS. This is a more crosswordese-ish dirt than LOAM.
  • 37d. [First name in mysteries], ERLE. Hey, C.C., you’ve had him in two puzzles this week! I’ve never read him—have you?
  • 27d. Wasabi ___ (bar snack)], PEAS. Good clue, but I’ll pass on the snack.

With a seven-part theme and corner stacks of 6’s, the grid gets a little crowded and we get stuff like SAE, LOESS, TET, ESSES, SIDE A, STES, and ERLE. At least this theme wasn’t packing in entries just to be ambitious—it needed the R, S, T, L, N, E phrases and a revealer.

3.75 stars. Usually crosswords engage with RSTLNE only by including fill like STES and ERLE, but Zhouqin played with the letters in a better way.

Joon Pahk and Caleb Madison’s American Values Club crossword, “Women in Their Element”

AV Club crossword solution, 8 20 14 "Women in Their Element"

AV Club crossword solution, 8 20 14 “Women in Their Element”

I was in on the Facebook brainstorming thread for this theme of puns on famous women’s names using chemical elements, so the theme answers fell more quickly than they otherwise would have—hence the asterisk after my solving time. I believe the project started with Caleb posting RADON CHONG a week or two ago, and here’s the puzzle already.

  • 20a. [“Spring Breakers” star, in her element?], SELENIUM GOMEZ. Selena Gomez.
  • 23a. [“Little Things” R&B musician, in her element?], INDIUM ARIE. India.Arie.
  • 43a. [“Put Your Records On” singer, in her element?], CHLORINE BAILEY RAE. Corinne Bailey Rae.
  • 66a. [“The Color Purple” actress, in her element?], RADON CHONG. Rae Dawn Chong.
  • 68a. [“The Brazilian Bombshell,” in her element?], CARBON MIRANDA. Carmen Miranda.

I love that the theme is all women, and mostly people of color. I also like the nerdery of puns + chemistry.

This 17×15 grid makes room for lots of juicy fill: HAUL ASS, INCUBI, SHARKNADO, PLUTOCRAT, “I’M COOL,” RAINBOWS that are [Displays of pride], AMY ADAMS, a leisurely VEGETATE, TIME SHARE, and “BY GOSH.”

Six more things:

  • 18a. [Polish entry for Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s 55-Down], IDA. 55d is OSCARS.
  • 36a. [Nickname for hockey legend Phil that’s one letter away from a network that might use it], ESPO. I like the letters hint.
  • 71a. [Programming language named after a female computer science pioneer], ADA. Ada Lovelace, a non-pun actual woman of science.
  • 6d. [Mrs. Carmelo Anthony], LALA. Needed the crossings!
  • 10d. [They’re always by your side], ARMS. Well, not when you have your hands up, saying “Don’t shoot.”
  • 57d. [Tug partner], RUB. I don’t get this one. Is it filthy? To the Google! Yes. Yes, it is filthy. This is a gross story.

4.5 stars for the theme, 4.25 stars for most of the fill, -1.0 for the RUB clue.

Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140820

LA Times

Today’s theme seems to be partial idioms clued obliquely? Three beginnings, one ending. Am I missing something because that seems like a strangely broad and unsatisfying theme. We have [Proverbial flying companions?], BIRDSOFA FEATHER (FLOCKTOGETHER); [Proverbial pavers?], (THEROADTOHELL ISPAVEDWITH) GOOD INTENTIONS; [Proverbial loser?], HEWHOHESITATES (ISLOST); [Proverbial pyrite?], ALLTHATGLITTERS (ISNOTGOLD).

Four spanning themers makes for a grid with mostly short answers. We do get the pair of STREAKERS/GOBANANAS, which amuses, plus an UNDERDOG and somewhat trendy vocab WONTON.

Other notes:

  • [Sue Grafton’s “__ for Outlaw”], OIS. I really dislike these answers.
  • [Keep __ on: observe], TABS. An idiom used here, but not one I thought Americans used…

Didn’t care for the theme, but the puzzle itself is sound. 2.5 Stars.

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Come Do Kung Fu”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.20.14: "Come Do Kung Fu"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.20.14: “Come Do Kung Fu”

Hello to everybody on this Hump Day!!

Since I’m very susceptible to having earworms creeping inside from time to time, after doing this grid, authored by Mr. Raymond Hamel, the song that ended up embedding in my mind was, obviously, Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting.” (“Everybody was kung-fu fiiiiiiightiiiing!”) In the grid, each of the theme answers start with a word that also can be/is a physical action when performing the art of kung fu. Just in case you were wondering, I did not enter the answers as “fast as lightning.”  Or not as fast as I would have wanted.

  • PUNCH A CLOCK: (17A: Begin work, perhaps]) – I think this will speak to how young I am, although I’m not that young: I’ve never punched a clock once in my life when coming into work. I definitely want to do that one day, even if I do it for someone else at their job.
  • BEAT THE DEVIL: (27A: [1954 Humphrey Bogart movie])
  • KICK THE HABIT: (43A: [Get clean, in a way])
  • STRIKE A POSE: (57A: [Do some modeling])

Don’t know whether to get real scared or buy a lottery ticket knowing that I filled in EPIC VERSE without any crossings (33D: [“Beowulf,” e.g.]). Although I’m less of a PEPSI person and more of a Coca-Cola guy, deciding to cut my soda intake considerably is making me a fan of neither soda giant (1D: [Soft drink choice]). Actually really liked seeing FLAK in the grid, as well as its cluing (31D: [Fighter pilot’s worry]). I know I wasn’t aware of the use of that word and that meaning until about a couple of years ago when seeing something about German aircraft defense around World War II. Oh, and to wrap up, of course YALE is in the grid, and that’s where I’ve made my home for the fast few days on assignment covering tennis (53D: [Lock producer]).  It’s eerie. (I’m surprised EERIE wasn’t an entry in today’s grid.)

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RIP (24A: [Tailor’s problem]) – Richard “Rip” Hamilton is a former All-Star professional basketball player who won championships at the collegiate and NBA levels. He was a two-time Big East Conference Player of the Year at the University of Connecticut (1998, 19999) and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1999 Final Four, in which Connecticut upset top-ranked Duke in the final to win its first national championship. The 6-foot-7 Hamilton was also a three-time NBA All-Star and the leading scorer on the 2004 NBA champion Detroit Pistons team (17.6 points per game). Here’s “Rip” doing an interview this past March (conducted by a hack reporter/Crossword Fiend blogger) about his alma mater making it to this year’s Final Four by winning the Regionals at Madison Square Garden.

See you all on Thursday, everybody!

Take care!


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5 Responses to Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  1. pannonica says:

    I’m fine with SIDE A / SIDE B. Have heard and used them at least as much as A SIDE / B SIDE. Syntactically I think the latter pair take an article, usually definite, and the former pair do without.

  2. lemonade714 says:

    I very much enjoyed C.C.s latest effort and thought the reference to her crossword mentor, Don ‘Hard G’ Gagliardo, was great. I do however agree the Hard G and Side A could be confusing in a theme dependent on single letters.

    Erle wrote so many books it is hard to avoid reading something by him, but he was also a true champion who founded an organization to help the unjustly convicted. It was featured on TV as well as Perry Mason. LINK .

  3. Steve Price says:

    re: 37d. [First name in mysteries], ERLE. Hey, C.C., you’ve had him in two puzzles this week! I’ve never read him—have you?

    Very few people read Erle Stanley Garner these days. We oldies remember him through Perry Mason episodes on TV nostalgia channels.

  4. john farmer says:

    Enjoyed the Rip Hamilton vid, Ade. Nice work!

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