Wednesday, September 10, 2014

AV Club 4:20 (Amy) 
NYT 3:23 (Amy) 
LAT 4:44 (Gareth) 
CS 14:38 (Ade) 

Jim Peredo’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 10 14, no 0910

NY Times crossword solution, 9 10 14, no 0910

This theme is similar to that of Tuesday’s Gorski Crossword Nation puzzle—words at one end of four phrases join together to spell another familiar phrase.

  • 21a. [“What’s goin’ on?”], “HOW YOU BEEN?”
  • 32a. [“Let’s shake!”], “PUT ‘ER THERE!”
  • 42a. [“Don’t worry, I’m O.K.”], “NO HARM DONE.”
  • 54a. [“Hand it over!”], “GIVE ME THAT!”
  • 69a. [Where you might see the message formed by the last words in 21-, 32-, 42- and 54-Across], T-SHIRT. “Been there, done that.” The message is surely spoken and written far more often than it is spotted on a t-shirt, but whatever. Theme needed a revealer of some sort.

Clue I could do without: 30a. [Coquettish sorts], TEASES. So many other ways to clue that word!

Five more things:

  • 46a. [Scoundrel], BAD LOT. Say what? It’s in the unabridged dictionary, didn’t make the cut for the shorter tome. I’ve heard “the best of a bad lot” more; that has a different connotation. The “scoundrel” term seems to be maybe more an 1800s and/or British thing?
  • You know what comes after JAI? A LIE. No joke. 56a and 59a.
  • 2d. [Wear a puss], POUT. I am not familiar with the “pouty face” sense of “puss,” just the whole face.
  • 6d. [Like all World Series games, now], NIGHT. That’s NIGHT as an adjective, as in “The Cubs have about 40 night games a year at home.”
  • 7d. [Tecumseh’s tribe], SHAWNEE. Formerly a nation stretching from South Carolina to Illinois.

The 11-letter Downs, UNABASHEDLY and OCEAN BREEZE, are longer than all the theme answers. I think it’s natural to try to connect the longest answers to the theme, which can result in a little perplexity.

The fill’s mostly solid (SMEE and ATRA, eh), 3.75 stars from me.

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

lat140910[Slogan for TV channel TBS, and a hint to the first word of 17-, 25-, 39- and 51-Across], VERYFUNNY is a somewhat tenuous connection to “first words of theme phrases can complete FUNNY ___”, which is today’s theme. Three solid themers plus a more splashy central 15 make up the set:

  • [Par, for stock], FACEVALUE
  • [Delicate tableware], BONECHINA
  • [Same old same old], BUSINESSASUSUAL
  • [Special effects scene in a summer blockbuster, say], MONEYSHOT

Of the longer answers, 3d is [“The Godfather” hatchet man], LUCABRASI an answer usually seen in part. [Formal “Uh-uh!”], SURELYNOT is its partner; that area also has the more heralded, but less seen than many of its peers [Vienna’s river], DANUBE as well as surprisingly not yet crossword-regulars [Online crafts store], ETSY and [Part of a SoHo address], NYNY. UNICEF and CRISCO are also nice choices as far as middle-range answers go. [Web designers] for SPIDERS was a clever misdirect and my favourite clue.

Unknowns for me were [University of Alabama head coach Nick], SABAN – as if US sportsmen were hard enough, coaches I have no chance with! And then there was [“A League of Their Own” infielder __ Hooch], MARLA – a character from a film about American sports… Is this character memorable?

3.5 Stars

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Lendl to the Finals”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washingon Post crossword solution, 09.10.14: "Lendl to the Finals"

CrosSynergy/Washingon Post crossword solution, 09.10.14: “Lendl to the Finals”

Welcome to Hump Day, everyone!

With the U.S. Open tennis tournament just ending, it was very interesting to see the title of today’s puzzle, and I immediately thought that the theme was a literal interpretation of what you would have to do in the grid. Thankfully enough, that was the case, as each of the theme answers “lend and L” (Lend-l) to the end of nouns/phrases. Although this isn’t part of the “sports…smarter” moment, the title is so interesting given the fact that in his career, tennis gret Ivan Lendl made it to 19 Grand Slam finals and had a stretch of eight consecutive years in which he made the U.S. Open final.

      • DOCTOR’S FEEL: (17A: [Part of a physical exam?]) – From “doctor’s fee.”
      • SARGASSO SEAL: (27A: [Danger to spawning eels?]) – From “Sargasso Sea.”
      • PRICKLY PEARL: (44A: [Uncomfortable bit of jewelry?]) – From “prickly pear.”
      • RODEO DRIVEL: (60A: [Nonsense spouted on the cowboy circuit?]) – From Rodeo Drive. If you have no problem with the pronunciation change from rodeo to Rodeo (ro-DAY-o), then this clue/entry is great.

Again, it didn’t hurt that I knew all of the answers to the themes had to end with an “L,” so once I got the first theme (which happened to be “prickly pearl”), I just placed an L at the ends of each theme entry. In talking about the rest of the grid, I have to start with how much I loved the cluing for GRAVY (28D: [Unexpected bonus]). Also never occurred to me that Presidential elections tend to happen on LEAP YEARS, but that’s just because I never made that correlation before (11D: [When US Presidents are almost always elected]). I was always too busy making the correlation between the result of the last home game the Washington pro football team played immediately before the presidential election and the results of said election.  As it went for many years, if Washington won the home game immediately preceding the Presidential election, the incumbent party held office, but if Washington lost that game, the incumbent party lost.  That trend was bucked in 2012, though.  If you have no idea what I just said, just click here.  Oh, and did anyone get the clue to ARFS (7D: [Sounds from Sandy])? Is Sandy a common dog’s name? An abbreviation of a dog breed? Wasn’t sure about that, but I know that if I ever get a dog, I’ll remember this clue and put “Sandy” in consideration for the dog’s name. Overall, there was a lot to SAVOR in this grid today (42A: [Enjoy fully]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DISCO (54A: [1970 music genre or where to dance to it]) – One of the most infamous days in sports fandom came on July 12, 1979 on the South Side of Chicago. That night, in the sports world, is also known as “Disco Demolition Night,” as a promotion during a baseball doubleheader in Comiskey Park ended up going haywire. Between games of a doubleheader, a crate of disco records was blown up on the field, which then sparked many fans to run onto the field and extend the shenanigans/celebrate wildly the “death of disco.” The explosion, as well as the fans running onto the field, damaged the field so much and caused so much of a disruption that the Chicago White Sox, the home team, had to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader. Definitely an elaborate way to say “Disco Sucks,” huh?

Thank you all for your time and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Brendan Quigley’s American Values Club crossword, “Fools Around”

AV Club crossword solution, 9 10 14 "Fools Around"

AV Club crossword solution, 9 10 14 “Fools Around”

Now, if JERK weren’t one of the circled words here, “Circle Jerks” could have been the title of the puzzle. Four synonyms for “fool” are wrapped around the grid, starting at the right side and continuing on the left.

  • OTHERNESS and HEIDI have an IDIOT circling back.
  • R. KELLY and ONDAATJE cover JERK. Kudos on the R. Kelly clue, 22a. [King of R&B but also, it should be mentioned, sexual assault].
  • WITCHES and tha SHIZNIT bring us a NITWIT.
  • There’s a STOOGE in OGEE ARCH (meh) and PRESTO.
  • Rajon RONDO and PERRY COMO embody your MORON.

It took me a minute to figure out the theme after I finished filling in the puzzle. Yep, that’s solid.

Question: Does this pairing constitute a clue/fill duplication? 52d. [Shit-tons], A LOT / 40a. [So, so dope, with “tha”], SHIZNIT.

Five more things:

  • 34a. [Planes may bisect them], CLOUDS. Not geometry!
  • 44a. [:, in an analogy], IS TO. Am I the only one seeing an emoticon in the clue?
  • 7d. [Drape with decorations], FESTOON. I need to find more uses for this word.
  • 9d. [Team building?], ARENA. Great clue.
  • 45d. [Green parts of garlic plants (perfect for pesto!)], SCAPES. Went with SHOOTS first. All told, I think I’d rather stick with the basil.

Four stars from me.

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19 Responses to Wednesday, September 10, 2014

  1. Martin says:

    Well hey, the NYT made me smile. Couldn’t figure out the theme until the very end. Just about right for a Wednesday IMO,

    (And yeah… BADLOT is a bit old-fashioned. But I’ve certainly read it and seen it used in some older movies)


  2. HH says:

    “69a. [Where you might see the message formed by the last words in 21-, 32-, 42- and 54-Across], T-SHIRT.”

    But really, is there a message you wouldn’t see on a T-shirt?

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: Clue I could do without: right off the bat at 1-across. [Missing links] APE MEN. That’s a concept that hasn’t had valid agency in a century-and-a-half. Unless someone stole your breakfast sausages, don’t talk to me about missing links, at least not without quotation marks dripping sarcasm or irony.

  4. Terry says:

    Lets get rid of NYT 13D and similar terms in the xword.

  5. Beth says:

    NYT: Clue I could do without: at 13-down. [Washington pro team, informally] SKINS. Even informally, it’s offensive.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Thanks, Terry and Beth. I was similarly irked to see that, but forgot to mention it in my post. When the Washington Post editorial page now declines to use the team name, there’s no need to introduce it in a crossword where there are so many other cluing options. I don’t want to see REDSKINS in the grid, either.

      • janie says:

        >I don’t want to see REDSKINS in the grid, either.

        no, not as a team name or a way of classifying a race of humans, but how about as a way of identifying certain fruits and vegetables? certainly that would be legit, no? [Feature of some potatoes], e.g. seems to me that context is everything.


        • pannonica says:

          In this case it was gratuitous. Could have referenced “shirts and skins” as playground teams, or the PGA’s Skins Game, or in reference to mobile phones and laptops, or even certain computer programs.

          • janie says:

            >In this case it was gratuitous.

            understood — non-issue! talking about future cluing, should the not-necessarily-egregious RED SKINS be in the grid.


  6. 7d5a9b1 says:

    As to the LA Times puzzle: it’s unsolvable by anyone with the good taste to avoid the Godfather series. Such a person is left with LUCABR_SI (“The Godfather” hatchet man) crossed with UN_ (A, in Assisi). The latter may, with equal probability, be either UNA or UNO. This, I think, is a serious flaw. If we must have obscure pop culture references, we should be given fair crossings.

  7. lemonade714 says:

    The idea that a reference to a Godfather movie is an “obscure pop culture reference” is the same complaint I see all the time about Simpsons references or Star Wars . While these are clearly from pop culture, they are hardly obscure, and the idea that someone solving crossword puzzles can justify insulating the major successes in modern pop culture would also require we eliminate all old opera, paintings and literature. If one wants to be a solver one should embrace a broad range of topics, especially those which appear regularly. The gratuitous comment, “good taste to avoid” is fatuous, for to express an opinion on something one has ‘avoided’ indicates the foolishness of the suggestion.

    • bananarchy says:

      Hear, hear.

      Add hip-hop to the list of supposed obscurities as well. Dre did his most seminal work 20 or so years ago, has been a fixture of pop culture since the late ’80s, and has released a number of albums that went multi-platinum … yet there are still solvers that bristle at being expected to know his name because he’s just another obscure rapper.

    • Gareth says:

      It’s a common error – solver solipsism – what I know is common knowledge, what I don’t is obscure. We all do it. Most of us are very careful to guard against it. Note that although I listed the two sports answers as unknowns, I was careful not to frame that unknownness universally.

    • 7d5a9b1 says:

      I apologize for the gratuitous dismissal of the Godfather movies series: it is certainly no less worthy of inclusion in a crossword than “old opera, painting and literature.” My point, however, was that the crossings for proper names ought not to be entirely random: “una” or “uno” for the Italian indefinite article. And to that point I adhere.

  8. John from Chicago says:

    As Amy knows, there is a neighborhood in Chicago referred to as OLD TOWN. It runs several blocks long, mainly along Wells Street from Division north to North Ave. When I was just starting law school, that stretch was pretty run down. It started to revive itself about then.

    A classmate was a bartender at a newly opened saloon called Chances R. An article in the Tribune (1991) notes that Chances R (occupied today by O`Brien`s Restaurant). The old saloon and hamburger joint was said to have started the Wells Street revival when it opened back in the early `60s. Customers were encouraged to toss their peanut shells on the floor. The restaurant`s name reflected the uncertainty of the location. “Chances are we could go broke,“ the owners reportedly said among themselves. But Chances R was so successful that they opened branches in New Town, Hyde Park, Skokie and in the River Oaks shopping center.

    Today OLD TOWN is filled with restaurants and shops and a couple of small museums.

  9. Linda says:

    Re: Chances R: That would make a nice answer to a clue like “Hit for Johnny” or something like that in a puzzle with song titles. One of these days, I gotta start constructing (in my spare time).

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