Thursday, August 28, 2014

NYT 4:32 (Amy) 
LAT 6:13 (Gareth) 
BEQ 7:35 (Matt) 
CS 8:44 (Ade) 

Ned White’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 28 14, no. 0828

NY Times crossword solution, 8 28 14, no. 0828

The revealer is split into two halves. 21d. [With 40-Down, how rain falls … or a literal description of the answers to the four themed clues], DOWN and WARD. Rain falls downward and the four long theme answers are all Down entries that could be clued [Ward]:

  • 3d. [21-/40-Down to a doctor], PATIENT AREA. In hospitals, specifically.
  • 10d. [21-/40-Down on 1950s-’60s TV], BEAVER’S DAD.
  • 24d. [21-/40-Down in Hollywood], ACTRESS SELA.
  • 28d. [21-/40-Down to a penologist], PRISON WING. “Prison wing” is, like the other theme entries, the sort of phrase that normally qualifies only for a clue. This is one of those clue/answer inversion themes, with a Down angle. Also, “penologist” is a kinda funny word.


I had any number of Scowl-o-Meter moments in this puzzle. NO TASTE, IN A TRAP, and BRA SALE felt a hair contrived. ISN’T IT (35a. [Query for clarification]) doesn’t quite stand on its own. I really wanted 19a. [Bust ___ (laugh hard)] to be A GUT, not A RIB; I don’t hear people saying the latter. RECUE and RETITLE is perhaps one RE- too many; “retitle” is a wholly legitimate word people use but RECUE feels mighty strange. Some of the short fill was also blah.

I need to mark off a few points for the 8d clue. [Nearly perfect] is certainly not an A-MINUS. An A+ is perfect. A 99 is nearly perfect and it’s a high A. A 95 is pushing it on the “nearly” front, but still a solid A. You need to get down to maybe a 92 before you call it an A–, and you’ve still got all the sub-100% A grades between perfect and A–. A-MINUS is “nearly perfect” only if you’re trying to snow your parents.

As for 2d. [Golden, in Guadalajara], I’d love to hear from Zulema or another native speaker of Spanish. Does DE ORO hit the mark? Google Translate gives me dorado and áureo and oro for “golden,” and DE ORO yields “gold,” as in moneda de oro, “gold coin.” Nobody talks about golden jewelry or golden ingots, right?

3.25 stars from me. I generally don’t much relish puzzles with clue/answer inversion themes.

Bernice Gordon’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140828

LA Times

Four definitions of [PITCH] as answers. You probably got the theme at the first answer and confirmed by looking at the grid. [PITCH] is a TONALFREQUENCY, COVERINGONAROAD, AGGRESSIVESPIEL and THROWTOABATTER. All discrete meanings, but I didn’t find this particularly exciting.

The problem (see also yesterday) with a bulky theme like this is that if the theme doesn’t excite there isn’t a whole lot more to it! The two blocked-off 4×4 areas have Scrabbly letters thrown in, because what else are you going to do there. In the rest of the English-speaking world EFTS are no longer [Immature salamanders] but [Modern payments]; has this usage not really caught on Stateside? Because I expect it to appear more in crosswords. Nice to see [Hall of Fame golfer Middlecoff who had a DDS degree], CARY is still remembered – he’s the 10th winningest golfer in PGA history! [Covert maritime org.], ONI is an old answer I’m less fond of, and its cross with VARIG may well trip many up!

2 Stars (reluctantly)

Bbrendan Quigley’s Webbsite puzzle, “BBs” — Matt’s review


Add a couple of BB’s to familiar phrases, and see what happens:

16-A [LSD with Babe Ruth’s face on it?] = BAMBINO ACID, from “amino acid.” Good one.

22-A [Duck who serves as a hitman?] = WEBBED WHACKER, from “weed whacker.” Ha! Probably not too quick on the getaway, but who’s going to suspect a duck?

35-A [Debris touched by Midas?] = THE GOLDEN RUBBLE, from “the golden rule.” I got this one with just THE?????????B??, which felt empowering.

49-A [Fishing corks made of pasta?] = SPAGHETTI BOBS, from “Spaghetti-O’s.”

59-A [What Elmer Fudd said after getting the thing he’s always wanted?] = WABBIT FOR ME, from “wait for me.” Good one.

So these are a cut above. Highlights:

***At 14-D I hade TIME for [Life partner?] instead of the correct LIMB, which gave me TAMBADA for the [Brazilian fad dance of the ’90s]. But when everything fell apart at WEBBED WHACKER I saw what had happened.

***I thought the clue was wrong at 44-A, but it’s not: [Swiss city on the Aare] is the answer for BERN, which is the German spelling of Switzerland’s capital city. I assumed that e-less “Aar” was therefore the German spelling of its river and “Aare” the French, but no: amusingly, the German spelling of the river (Aare) has the extra E, while the French spelling of the city takes the extra E (Berne). Counterintuitive. Also, I have crossed this river (in a train over a bridge, not in a boat).

*** [Sugar substitute?] for HON, [Punch lines?] for OOFS, and the aforementioned [Life partner?] for LIMB are all excellent.

4.10 stars.

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Inside Straight”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.28.14: "Inside Straight"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.28.14: “Inside Straight”

Hello once again!  So close to the end of the week…we can all just taste it!

Unlike most people, I did not get caught up in the poker craze that spawned around 2004, when ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker became much more comprehensive and set in primetime for millions to marvel at.  However, I do like a poker game or two when I have the chance to play (which isn’t a lot).  Today’s puzzle, authored by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, has the face cards in a deck of cards, as well as the number 10 (spelled out), hidden in each of the theme answers.  Those cards together make up a straight in the game of poker.

  • COPACETIC: ([17A: Fine and dandy]) 
  • PARKING LOT: ([24A: Attendants domain, perhaps]) 
  • ANTIQUE ENGINE: (34A: [It may be found under the hood of a Model T, say]) – By far my favorite theme, in terms of hiding the face card (queen).
  • JOE JACKSON : ([47A: [“Shoeless” baseball legend])
  • BARTENDER : ([56A: [One providing a tab or a Tab])

Another quick review since I’m covering a meaningless preseason NFL game in New Jersey.  This puzzle far from meaningless, and each of the theme answers were very zippy. AYLA was a tricky one, and an entry I have to store in my memory banks (23A: [“The Clan of the Cave Bear” heroine]).  Of all the different fabrics in puzzles that I’ve seen, think this is the first one in which I’ve had to enter LISLE (19A: [Smooth cotton fabric]). To put a bow on this, the second I put in SEDAKA, one of his other hits, “Laughter in the Rain,” was in my head for a good while (44D: [“Calendar Girl” singer Neil]). Love that song!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JETER (48D: [Derek of the Yankees]) – Have you heard that Derek Jeter is retiring after this season?  You may not have caught that the first 321,285 times that it’s been mentioned on different platforms, but, again, Derek Jeter is retiring from the game of baseball at the end of this season. Ok, that’s sarcasm, but the five-time World Series champion is going to end his career ranking sixth on the all-time hits list, which is insane (currently at 3,443 hits).  The only players that will rank ahead of “The Captain” in the history of the game in hits are Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker.  Talk about being in rarefied air.

See you all on Friday!

Take care!


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10 Responses to Thursday, August 28, 2014

  1. Huda says:

    Interesting that 2 WARDs were spaces and 2 were names. I somehow feel that the meaning is the same for hospital and prison wards, no? Doesn’t mean a locale that’s a division of a bigger space? And in a way, the meaning is the same in downward, upward and toward– a locale.

    I know a family whose last name is DOWNWARD. I should send them this puzzle.

  2. Argyle says:

    LAT. “Modern payments” for EFTS (Electronic Funds Transfers) would need an indication of abbr. form but you are right; it is pretty much unknown over here. At least, I didn’t know it.

    A mention of Bernice Gordon being 100 years old would have been nice.

    • john farmer says:

      Yes, congrats to Bernice, still going strong at 100!

      EFT is how I’ve been paid since the 1980s, I believe. Even the NY Times is paying freelancers by EFT now.

    • Martin says:

      An acronym or initialism (like EFT) does not require an abbreviation signal, per written posts by Will Shortz. He distinguishes between these and “proper” abbreviations, like “Thu.” The difference is that an abbreviation (which usually has a period, unlike the other categories) requires the reader to know what the abbreviation abbreviates and to expand it when speaking (even silently while reading). We never say “thoo” or “tee-aitch-you.” We always say “Thursday.” Those will usually be signaled (although in some late-week puzzles we’ve seen true abbreviations go unsignalled). NASDAQ or IBM will only rarely be signaled, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Other editors have different takes on the matter, but I am not surprised to see more editors adopting NYT clueing styles.

      Stepping back, the theory is that if you have everything on the page you need to pronounce it, it’s a word.

  3. Papa John says:

    Amy, I can’t let this get past without a comment. Yesterday you wrote: “Clues that need tortured defenses are hardly worth the trouble.” Couldn’t the same assertion be applied to your comment about “8d clue: [Nearly perfect] is certainly not an A-MINUS”? You do go on. As you say, it’s hardly worth the trouble, “so why force it”?

    Anyway, to me, A minus is nearly “nearly perfect”.

    • Howard B says:

      You have to loosen the definition here, and not dwell with the numeric equivalents.

      Think of how essays were once graded (standardized testing and rubrics aside, I know. Let’s just go with old-fashioned grammar/format/style/content grading).
      A would be a perfect grade, A- = less than perfect/minor errors, and so on.
      On an older non-numeric grading system, the clue works on the surface. And generally, that’s enough for cruciverbal work.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Papa John, aren’t “tortured defenses of clues” and “wordy critiques of clues” on opposite ends of the spectrum? If wordy critiques are hardly worth the trouble, then the purpose of this blog is entirely called into question and I don’t know why you’re reading it at all.

  4. Martin says:

    The point is that “almost perfect” is a subjective measure, not a standard. When Alex was in High School, an A- for him would be beyond perfect (he was a late bloomer). But one of his friends was taken off the baseball team by his parents for getting a single B+ and not straight As. In fact, a B was known at his school as a “Chinese F.”

  5. CY Hollander says:

    As far as I know, in most A-F grading systems, a perfect grade is an A; there is no A+. In a system like that, it’s reasonable to call A- “almost perfect”, as it is one step down from a perfect grade.

    That an A can cover a sub-100% grade is arguably immaterial when you’re grading on a scale of F-A instead of 0-100. Otherwise, you could make the same argument that 100% is not a perfect grade either, as it encompasses grades of 99.5%.

Comments are closed.