Friday, August 29, 2014

NYT 4:39 (Amy) 
LAT 5:15 (Gareth) 
CS 15:02 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Daniel Raymon’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 29 14, no. 0829

NY Times crossword solution, 8 29 14, no. 0829

It’s a little surprising that I finished Dani’s themeless in about the same amount of time I expect a Friday NYT to take me, given that it included some names I’d never seen before:

  • 25a. [Soprano Grist], RERI. No idea how Reri Grist pronounced her first name, but she had an interesting life. Born in 1932, African-American, distinguished opera career largely in the cultural capitals of Europe. RERI crosses ICE-T, whom I hope you’re all familiar with. Grist’s last US performance was in 2007, so I’ll bet you opera buff(a)s know her.
  • 11d. [Football Hall-of-Famer Tunnell], EMLEN. The Welsh name Emlyn is more familiar to me, and this EMLEN crossed proper names LEBEAU and NEVIS. Tunnell played for the Giants and Packers before I was born.
  • 43d. [Political theorist Carl], SCHMITT. Of all the Schmitts in Wikipedia, I suspect astronaut and moon-walker Harrison Schmitt is more broadly familiar than Carl. Hang on, this guy was called the “crown jurist of the Third Reich”? Gross. And Hitler was in a clue yesterday. I don’t like this week’s Nazi vibe in the NYT puzzles. And to think people complained about Anne Frank being used in a theme clue on Sunday. Oh, Sunday. Back when we were innocent. Sunday’s looking pretty good now, isn’t it? … As a palate cleanser, please enjoy the old SNL fake ad for Schmitts Gay beer (beefcake alert).

I had previously seen 40d. [“South Pacific” girl], LIAT, which is fortunate since she crosses three proper names (but those should all be gettable letters). More than 20 proper names in the whole grid—I predict any number of apoplexies among those solvers who don’t stash names in their heads.

Highlights in the fill:

  • The top stack with CROWD-SOURCE, HONOR SYSTEM, and IN A NUTSHELL. (RON ELY, ONAGER, S-STAR, and EMLEN are the price of admission to this lovely stack.)
  • Three full names from the arts: ED HARRIS, NED ROREM, MARIA CALLAS.
  • 39d. [Neighbor of Georgia], CHECHNYA. Not a sovereign nation, but it’s fun to spell.
  • 24d. [Notable lifelong bachelor in U.S. history], BUCHANAN. I like the trivia reminder in the clue and the lack of Pat Buchanan as well.
  • 22d. [Played like Bird or Trane], BEBOPPED.
  • 14d. [Response to an insult], “EXCUSE ME?”
  • 67a. [Words following an understatement], AND THEN SOME.

I like the clue for CELL: 10d. [Word with wall or tower]. Anyone else thinking of prisons now?

3.5 stars.

Frank Virzi’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140829

LA Times

Stealth theme! This puzzle played as a Wednesday difficulty themeless until the end for me. It uses a gimmick I’ve mostly seen done by BEQ: LEMONADE is rendered as 6 2×3 LEM/ADE blocks. It will really only appreciated after the solve for most of us I’m sure! There’s a lot to admire after the fact actually, especially the way both elements of the revealer are thematically incorporated.

There’s a sexist trap at 48d which I fell for! [Girls] must be LAdiES right? Nope its LASSES. I also went for NEwborn before NEONATE for [Nursery arrival] and ELtoro before ELMERS (is the former a company?). PLUMPER is also a noun in modern usage, but I’d be careful googling that if I were you. The [Self-titled 1991 debut album] ALANIS by Morisette was when she was marketed as a Tiffany-style teenybopper. When her more alternative Jagged Little Pill came out, her earlier work was played down!

3.5 Stars

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Childhood Rocks”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.29.14: "Childhood Rocks"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.29.14: “Childhood Rocks”

TGIF everyone!  Hope you’re enjoying the (unofficial) last Friday of the summer.

I’m sure many young ones are dreading the end of the summer, as it’s back to school time yet again.  Well, there are many, many children that love school as well, so we hope they have a great beginning to their new school year (as well as the ones that aren’t so fond of school).  But, in time, those children grow up to be adults, and soon they’ll ask themselves, “What happened to all the fun I used to have when I was a kid doing so many cool things?”  Today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, is a quote from the author of Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson, and it deals with what happened to yours truly when I ended up growing up, as I’ve become such a bore and don’t know what’s “hip” these days.

  • IT  SEEMS LIKE ONCE PEOPLE GROW UP THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S COOL: ([17A: Start of a quote by Bill Watterson…continued at 37-, 43-, and 63-Across]) 

I think it would be real nice to start off Friday with a laugh, so here’s a video featuring one of our entries, fictional character and pilot Roger Murdock (ABDUL (9A: [NBA legend Kareem _____-Jabbar]), performing in one of the more memorable scenes of the timeless movie hit, Airplane!

Never heard of the quote before that comprised the theme, but definitely knew the cartoonist Watterson.  It’s always tough for me, and maybe a few others, to see a theme in a grid that’s a quote you’ve never heard of.  Even tougher to handle is when the breaks come in a disjointed manner, and in this case, it would have been easier if the words “GROW” and “UP” were in the same entry instead of having to be broken up for symmetric purposes.  Other than that, a pretty smooth solve.  Best entry of the day for me was HANGDOG (44D: [Very sad-looking), as the word definitely isn’t sad-looking when seeing it in the grid.  Following closely in terms of favorite entries is DEAD AIR, as I’ve definitely produced some of that when I’ve been on the radio in the past and have been at a loss for words (41A: [Radio silence]).  There really wasn’t any bad fill at all, even though I know OHM has graduated into crosswordese (5D: [Resistance unit]).  OK, now I see one entry that I’m not too “rah-rah” about, and ironically, it’s NY, NY (49A: [Part of a Fifth Ave. address]).  I’m a born and raised NYC kid (well, Brooklyn), but something about that entry looks weird.  Have never seen that abbreviation before outside of crosswords before, and it seems kind of forced.  Again, though, a nice solve to end the work week!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BALE (71A: [Wrapped package of hay]) – Welsh soccer player Gareth Bale is an attacking midfielder who currently plays for world soccer giant Real Madrid.  Bale has the distinction of being the most expensive player, according to transfer fees paid to acquire his services, in the history of international soccer.  In 2013, Real Madrid paid English Premier League soccer team Tottenham somewhere between $12o million to $131 million to acquire Bale.  At the end of his first season at Real Madrid, Bale scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in extra time of last May’s UEFA Champions League Final, the premier soccer club team tournament in the world, as Real defeated their city rivals Atlético de Madrid and won its 10th UEFA Champions League title.

If you’re going to go to a friend’s place to start the weekend festivities, make sure to BYOB (25A: [Part of an invitation to a drinker (abbr.)])!  See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Division of Labor” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/29/14 • "Division of Labor" • Fri • Harrison • solution

WSJ • 8/29/14 • “Division of Labor” • Fri • Harrison • solution

Simple theme concept – take an in-the-language phrase and reimagine it as pertaining to various occupations, three per entry.

  • 22a. [Like dapper politicos, the Olympic skater and the sculptor ___ ] CUT A FINE FIGURE.
  • 34a. [Like off-key singers, the bad salesman and the struggling reliever had ___ ] PITCH PROBLEMS.
  • 52a. [Like divas, the playwright and the landscape painter ___ ] MADE A SCENE.
  • 65a. [Like good waiters, the genial tennis pro and the kindly pastor offered ___ ] SERVICE WITH A SMILE.
  • 84a. [Like wide receivers, the philosopher and the scuba diver ___ ] WILL GO DEEP.
  • 96a. [Like allied CEOS, the arthroscopic surgeon and the warden had ___ ] JOINT VENTURES.
  • 113a. [Like hockey forwards, the bakery worker and the airport worker were ___ ] CALLED FOR ICING.

The execution is strengthened by keeping the format of the clues consistent, “Like x, the y and the z …” Three of these answer phrases are nouns, four include verbs; that’s balanced variety. Cute theme, very competently and cleverly realized.

Once again, my Friday is very hectic and I won’t be able to give this crossword a lengthy write-up. My apologies to editor Mike Shenk & co.!

  • baliganesh2cItaliano! 28a [Chianti, per esempio] VINO, 106a  [Vinegar, in Vemezia] ACETO, 22a [Spelunking site] GROTTO (but of course I’m thinking of Capri’s Grotta Azzurra), 10d [Plaster finish] STUCCO, 98d [Middle of a famous palindrome] I ERE I.
  • Chewy longdowns: 66d [Joseph Merrick epithet] Not sure how the John-for-Joseph substitution took hold, ELEPHANT MAN; 49d [Shoe insert] ODOR EATER™; 43d [Mea culpa] ADMISSION (okay, not so stunning); 15d [Tryst locale] NO-TELL MOTEL.

(Because Don Covay in the mid-70s was not a hot prospect.)

  • Favorite clues: 88d [New release?] PAROLEE; 76d [Toys for Tots, say] TYPO.
  • PAROLEE, and LEGATEE, boo. RENÉE, okay.
  • 32a [City whose main newspaper is the Boomerang] LARAMIE. Hmm.
  • Cute lil’ crossing of IDYL and ODE at 40a/36d.

Very enjoyable crossword.

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25 Responses to Friday, August 29, 2014

  1. Brucenm says:

    Crowd source??????? Is that a real expression? What an awful entry, especially at 1a, and especially when one of my pet peeves is entries of the form [random letter]star.

    • sbmanion says:

      Crowdsourcing and its companion, Crowdfunding, are ways to raise money on the internet. See, for example, the site INDIEGOGO. Someone will say that they need to raise investment money to film a documentary that will expose the seamy underside of crossword blogging. People agree to fund as little as $5.00 or $10.00 toward this necessary and worthwhile project.

      I had to listen to a one hour presentation on crowdfunding for my CLE requirement this year (it was part of a one-price package). The SEC has not gotten dramatically involved yet and people have actually raised very significant sums. Beats the cost of a Reg D offering.


      • john farmer says:

        The seamy underside of crossword blogging?! The shakedowns! The payoffs! The scandals! “Blog for me while I’m on vacation or you’ll lose two stars on your next puzzle!” Yes, the world needs to know.

        Crowdfunding is actually trending as a way to finance movies. A couple of examples: this year’s “Veronica Mars” and Zach Braff’s (ungrammatically titled) “Wish I Was Here.” So far, I believe, it’s been a one-way street. Contributors give money to the filmmakers but don’t get a cut of any profits. The big cautionary tale in the crowdfunding world is the tech firm Oculus VR, developer of the Rift. Contributors ponied up $2 million through Kickstarter but got zip in return when Facebook bought the company for $2 billion. At least they can feel good about making other people rich.

  2. Brucenm says:

    I am continually perplexed that the only “classical” composers who are regularly admitted to the Crossword Club are Thomas Arne and Ned Rorem. Be anyone else, and you will not only be turned away at the door, but if you do manage to sneak in, you will probably be abused and vilified. Can’t editors give them a rest, and award passes to a couple new, deserving recipients, (since we probably don’t want to admit more than a couple of them)?

    • Bencoe says:

      CROWDSOURCE is definitely a real expression, though a relatively (last five to ten years?) new one.
      I suspect ARNE and ROREM are in the crossword club due to their brevity and friendly letters. Likewise sometimes-entries IVES and SATIE. You’d think we’d see a bit more of HAYDN, HANDEL, CAGE, CHOPIN, BRAHMS, MAHLER, and other crossword-friendly guys, though I understand these aren’t quite as easy to put in a grid as ARNE.

      • ArtLvr says:

        LALO does appear in the LAT today, super crossword-friendly, but I confess I’m totally unfamiliar with his opera “Le Roi d’Ys”. The latter will probably be seen in a puzzle itself at some point! Take note?

        • Brucenm says:

          A so-so opera with an Overture well worth listening to. Starts with a descending chromatic motif in the low strings, as I recall — more German Romantic, almost Wagnerian in its orchestration — than French sounding. His Piano Concerto (in F, I think), has its interesting moments, but is ultimately not very successful. His Violin Concerto, called Symphonie Espanole, is tuneful, well-crafted, and utterly charming — clearly his masterpiece.

  3. Gareth says:

    Your first paragraph was exactly what I was thinking on completely this puzzle! Great long stuff, combined with a bunch of weird names that don’t live anywhere near my wheelhouse.

  4. Boston Bob says:

    It is good to lack Pat Buchanan

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: Raising my hand for apoplexy. That NE corner was impossible. If it weren’t for the clue for LEBEAU (and knowledge of French) I’d be dead. It’s not even the area where the interesting long answers are, but I guess it’s still a consequence.

    • Matt says:

      The NE corner took me as long as the rest of the puzzle. The only relief was ONAGER, which always reminds me of an old friend’s little joke: an ‘onageric estimate’ is a wild-assed guess.

      • Brucenm says:

        You do mean the Great Northwest, right? I screwed it up by having ‘bell’ at 10d; I guess I forgot about cell towers, and figured that if there was a bell tower, maybe there could be a bell wall. Like in an Alpine dairy farm, maybe. :-) Then I had no idea what letter to put before the star. Crowd four be ?? Oh Well.

        I suppose 24d could have been clued as {Notable U.S. Bay} How would that be for a diabolical clue?

        I didn’t know Reri or Liat or Carl Schmidt either, but then I’m used to most puzzles having totally unknown Danzigs, so I take it more in stride

  6. Jason F says:

    If there have to be this many proper names, it’s good to scatter them across many domains as is done in this puzzle: a little Hollywood, some arts, some football, cooking, etc. Personally, I enjoyed seeing CROWD SOURCE in the puzzle.

  7. susanb says:

    Sorry, Amy. This long-time opera buff did not – does not – know and have never heard Reri Grist (25A). I’ll have to track down a recording of her. And I am old enough – unlike you, dear young one – to have seen Emlen Tunnell (11D) play for the NY Giants but haven’t the foggiest memory of him. Foggy memory. Getting old? Nah.

  8. sbmanion says:

    If for nothing else, EMLEN TUNNELL is worthy of being remembered as the first black to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At one time, he had the career record for interceptions. Sadly, like so many pro football players, he died young (age 50). I only saw him play a few times as my TV in Niagara Falls had the Cleveland Browns as our viewing choice, something I never regretted for an instant because I got to see every week the greatest player of all time IMHO, Jim Brown.


    • Brucenm says:

      Yes, I remember him, also Dick Lebeau (who is still coaching, I think.) Greatest of all time? Maybe. Barry Sanders and Herschel Walker weren’t half bad either, and Adrian Peterson may turn out to be close, if he stays healthy.

  9. Ed W says:

    For the past two weeks none of my Android crossword puzzle apps have been able to download the Wall St. Journal puzzle.
    I use Words With Crosses, Shorytz and CW crosswords all of which have previously been able to get this puzzle.
    Has there been a change?
    Any help appreciated.


  10. cyberdiva says:

    For me, RERI Grist was a gimme–one of VERY few in this puzzle. I was fortunate enough to see/hear her twice, both times in Europe, including once at the marvellous Salzburg Festival. This was in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

  11. Greg says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle immensely. The long fill was snappy and colloquial. And I thought the proper names were generally fair. No apologies needed for including Em Tunnell, whose greatest years were with the excellent Giants teams of the late 50s. Hey, it is, after all, the New York Times, so a little home-towning is just fine, in my book.

  12. Larry says:

    I don’t understand why “typo” is the answer for WSJ’s “Toys for Tots” clue. What am I missing?

    Be gentle. I am a casual crossworder.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The T and Y keys are adjacent to each other on the keyboard, so it’s not uncommon to make a typo by hitting one of those keys in lieu of the other one. So you might type “toys” when you meant to type “tots.” (Although in my experience, if your fingers are hitting the wrong key, they’ll do it for the whole word, so it would be tots or yoys.)

  13. john merrick says:

    Late to the party for last weeks WSJ, but Joseph Merrick was the real name of the Elephant Man. It got changed when he started to become an audience attraction

    I should know
    John Merrick

  14. john merrick says:

    Late for a response to the WSJ, but Joseph Merrick was the correct name of the Elephant Man. It got changed when he became an audience attraction

    I should know
    John Merrick (no relation)

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