Friday, September 12, 2014

NYT 4:43 (Amy) 
LAT 6:21 (Gareth) 
CS 8:01 (Ade) 
CHE 6:20 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 11:23 (pannonica) 

Michael Wiesenberg’s New York Times crossword

NY TImes crossword solution, 9 12 14, no. 0912

NY TImes crossword solution, 9 12 14, no. 0912

Whoa, yesterday’s puzzle was a killer, and it really put a lot of solvers into a tizzy/meltdown. Comments at the various blogs included a lot of uses of the H-word (that’s “hate”). Those people … would probably not enjoy themselves at ACPT or Lollapuzzoola, because there is always a gnarly beast that defeats a sizeable percentage of the competitors. (For October’s Crosswords LA, we’re trying to keep the hard puzzle at a slightly more workable level of difficulty.)

This puzzle, it’s just a standard Friday themeless, not too hard. Here are the bits I liked most:

  • Genres! 1a. [Queen’s music], STADIUM ROCK—hey, you all need to see this concert video of Queen doing “Another One Bites the Dust” in 1981 (Freddie Mercury sports quite the look, and the song is awesome). Also 37d. [Abba’s music], EUROPOP.
  • 15a. [“Hasta la vista!”], “I’M OUTTA HERE!” Does anyone know why “outta” has a double T? Is it influenced by “gotta”?
  • 17a. [Allows someone to walk, say], TAKES THE RAP. Nice top stack, though the crossings are less tasty.
  • 53a. [Commute, in a way], DRIVE TO WORK. Maybe a hair contrived? But drive to work/take the train/take the bus/bike to work, these are all lexically chunky commuting options. BIKE TO WORK would be a weird crossword entry, though.
  • 14d. [Option for a marinara base], ROMA TOMATO. That’s a pair of OMATs inside RO.
  • 25d. [Checked in with loved ones, say], PHONED HOME. Solid.
  • 36d. [Rival of Captain Morgan], BACARDI. I’m not a rum fan.

Not sure how I feel about 26d. [Exclamation that might be punctuated “??!?”], “HOW ON EARTH??!?” “What on earth…?” feels more familiar. The incompleteness also seems a tad off. Although “What the…?!” is a regular line in this household, and it’s no more complete (but it’s omitting a rude word rather than a verb phrase like “How on earth did they do that?”

Five more things:

  • Nice grid—it’s got a lot of good flow from zone to zone.
  • 21a. [Oxide used in picture tubes], YTTRIA. I know the elements yttrium and ytterbium, but not this oxide. Is picture tube technology firmly on the way out?
  • 28a. [Coddle, e.g.], BE NICE TO. Crossword-worthy phrase, yes or no? I lean no.
  • 32a. [Poet Wilfred ___], OWEN. Did you all read Wilfed Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” in high school? It’s a ghastly poem (intentionally so) about WWI soldiers getting gassed.
  • 23d. [Old bomber], B-TEN. Hey! Maybe the negative Thursday commenters were onto something. Does it feel good to hate? I hate many of these answers with only-in-crosswords spelled-out numerals. … Eh, the hating didn’t do anything for me.

3.75 stars from me. How’d it treat you?


Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “BMW Models”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.12.14: "BMW Models"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.12.14: “BMW Models”

It’s that time again! It’s Friday! Let’s start the weekend off right, shall we?  DO-SI-DO, and away we go (31A: [Square-dance figure])!!

We definitely go into the weekend with a bang, or better yet, with a spin in a Beemer (slang word for the car that’s being hinted at). Today’s puzzle, put together by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, includes three three-word theme answers in which the first letters of the three words are in a B-M-W pattern. Let’s go for a ride, shall we?

  • BLACK MAGIC WOMAN: (20A: [1971 hit by Santana])
  • BARE MINIMUM WAGE: (41A: [$7.25 per hour, for most of the country])
  • BULOVA MEN’S WATCH: (56A: [Luxury timepiece]) – I do not own a Bulova, which means I’m definitely not living in the lap of luxury.

Not only does the theme touch on cars, there’s the car-related SHOWROOM also present (9D: [Where to find good-looking models]).  There were good-looking models at Fashion Week here in NYC not too long ago, but that’s a different topic for a different day. There’s a Greek connection in the northwest with BETA (17A: [Software prototype]) and ZETA (3D: [Letter after epsilon]). I might be one of the few people out there that hasn’t watched more than five total minutes of CSI MIAMI, or any of the CSI franchise on CBS (5D: [TV series that featured Horatio Caine]). All the promos seem to indicate it’s good television, but just haven’t turned the dial and gave the show a try, but maybe I will soon.  There were absolutely no trouble spots in the grid, and, compared to most of the grids that I do on here (as well as the NYT and other crosswords), I was a BLUR in terms of putting in answers for this puzzle (36A: [Fuzzy image]).  Oh, and finally, I loved the clue to HOPS, especially as I was described as “having some hops” in high school when I had the ability to dunk a basketball on a regulation 10-foot rim (64D: [Ability to jump high, in slang]).  Haven’t tried dunking a basketball in about a decade, and I’m holding out hope that I haven’t lost some “hops” in my older age and can still throw it down.  Maybe next weekend, before the weather gets colder, I’ll take one of my basketballs to the local park and see if I can still “get up.”  Pray for me that I don’t hurt myself while trying to dunk, ’cause that would be just embarrassing!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MILO (38A: [O’Shea of “The Verdict”]) – Lots of people have heard the famous broadcast call of Henry “Hank” Aaron’s 715th career home run, which broke the all-time home run record as he surpassed Babe Ruth. Well, the person who was behind the mic for the widely-heard call of that event is a man named MILO Hamilton, who broadcasted Major League Baseball games on the radio and television for over 50 years with several different teams. He was inducted into the broadcast wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. Here’s Milo’s famous call of Aaron’s crowning achievement.

I’m going to be in New Jersey for work the next couple of days, but that won’t stop me from delivering the goods to you for the weekend…that’s if “the goods” that I deliver to you are actually good, in your opinion. See you on Saturday!

Take care!


Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

Today’s write-up is under the influence of adcodol. What a drug.

lat140912Mr. Stillman’s puzzle takes phrases from architecture and reimagines them in other contexts. We have: [Blueprint spec … or, allowable hours for hound sounds?], BAYWINDOWS; [Blueprint spec … or, job fit for a king’s silversmith?], CROWNMOLDING; [Blueprint spec … or a ’60s-’70s rock group conceding a poker hand?], FOLDINGDOORS; [Blueprint spec … or an MGM heartthrob’s cousin from the Netherlands?], DUTCHGABLE.

Other stuff:

  • [One-on-one sport], EPEE is a clue for that I haven’t seen, and consequently had me more stumped than most EPEE clues!
  • [Gets ready for lunch, maybe], ZAPS is also a creative angle.
  • It’s lucky I was listening to pop music quite intently (despite being 5 years old) during the short period [Soul singer Adams], OLETA was in the charts…
  • [Berry rich in antioxidants], ACAI. Okay, but I’m highly skeptical that they’ll do much. These are not anti-oxidants that are part of normal physiology are they? The body uses anti-oxidant vitamins (like C and E) and enzymes in a very precise, controlled manner. But when nutrition is simplified to a “good for you” / “bad for you” dichotomy such nuances are rather immaterial.
  • [“State Fair” setting], DESMOINES. Common letters, but nice to see it in full in a crossword!
  • [One who might play under a balcony], SERENADER. I’d have changed that to a D, myself.

3.25 Stars

Kevin Christian’s Chronicle of HIgher Education crossword, “Teem Leaders” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 9/12/14 • "Teem Leaders" • Christian • solution

CHE • 9/12/14 • “Teem Leaders” • Christian • solution

The “Leaders” part of the title is on the tenuous side, but I suppose I can see its justification. Anyway, the main event herein is a bunch of factettes, which may or not be interesting, depending on your tastes and/or proclivities.

  • 17a. [Estimates suggest that there are an average of 100,000 …] HAIRS ON ONE’S HEAD.
  • 26a. [… about 13 trillion …] FISH IN THE SEA.
  • 43a. [… about 10 quintillion …] INSECTS ON EARTH.
  • 57a. [… and about 7 octillion …] ATOMS IN ONE’S BODY.

Let’s see … amount of human items (ONESes duly noted) sandwiching biotic populations: some symmetry there. Good sensibility with the increasing number counts. For scale:

  • 100 000
  • 13 000 000 000 000
  • 10 000 000 000 000 000 000
  • 7 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000

Smaller bits:

  • 6a [Voiced] SAID / 6d [Voiced, in phonetics] SONANT. Such a sonant word, sonant. And this duo is nearby to 1a [Start to hiccup?] AITCH, or as the Brits (or is just the Irish people say, with voiced aspiration, ‘haitch’.
  • Again in the same locale, 4d [Classic cereal now sharing shelf space with Vanilla and Chocolate cousins] beginning with C? Must be CHEERIOS, right? >bzzzt!< it’s CORN CHEX. Over on the other side, it’s matched with [Booster club’s concern, often] SNACK BAR.
  • The other two longish downs are the similarly food oriented DIET COKE (okay, vaguely foodlike) and the unrelated but nevertheless appealing BACKFIRE [Work out badly, in a way], which kind of puts the kielbasa kibosh on a non-nutritious edible quartet.
  • Refreshing to see a return to an older, nonmilitary usage of SCUD [Sail along, as clouds] (25a). 31a [Fig. on a box of animal crackers] NET WT; cute clue.
  • Sharing a Y are 64a [Like quiches and frittatas] EGGY and 45a [Like Grand Marnier liqueur] ORANGY. Here’s a recipe combining both flavors: Eggs Florentine with Orange and Dill Sauce. Haven’t tried it myself, but it seems as if it might be okay. Looking at it, I’d probably substitute the garnish of beefsteak tomatoes with another variety or something else altogether.

Minimal amounts of junk fill, some fun fill and cluing, slightly dry theme. Still, a solid puzzle.

Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Changing Channels” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/12/14 • "Changing Channels" • Fri • Kelly, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 9/12/14 • “Changing Channels” • Fri • Kelly, Shenk • solution

Simple concept, anagrams of the names of television programming purveyors. The title employs the cryptic cluing trope of an anagram signal. The results are predictably headlinese-awkward, odd, and absurd to varying degrees.

  • 23a. [DISNEY CHANNEL rebranded to cover Beijing banking in Japan?] CHINA LENDS YEN.
  • 38a. [ANIMAL PLANET rebranded as a channel about fasting?] ANTI MEAL PLAN.
  • 47a. [NICKOLODEON rebranded with shows about TV room makeovers?] NICE DEN LOOK.
  • 62a. [USA NETWORK rebranded to cover luxury travel?] SWANK ROUTE.
  • roborabbipack_grande65a. [BBC AMERICA rebranded to cover a Jewish leader in the center of Islam?] MECCA RABBI. Didn’t he fight Yahwehzilla in 1974?
  • 84a. [FOX BUSINESS rebranded to cover Navy budget cut decisions?] NIXES OF SUBS. Could be related to 38-across (cue up Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero”).
  • 91a. [HEADLINE NEWS rebranded to highlight endangered cetaceans?] WHALES IN NEED. Without reading the full clue, I completed the answer as WHALES INDEED. The crossing PADDEMIC looked odd indeed.
  • 109a. [COMEDY CENTRAL rebranded to cover etiquette among humans?] MORTAL DECENCY.

So can we say the theme was executed with mixed results? Oh yes, I daresay we can. Anyway, I just did, and I’m exercising my right to the blog-royal “we”. Speaking of which, one of the trickier clues was the misdirecting 107a [Royal offering] GELATIN; that’s a concealed capital (brand name), folks.

Color Bars:

  • 14d [Egyptian god of the universe] AMEN-RA. Never know if this is going to be Amun-Ra, Amon-Ra, or Amen-Ra. I tend to reserve the last for last choice status, probably because of the superficial overlap with Christianity’s “amen”.
  • 25a [Took part in a spin class] PEDALED; 119a [Door-to-door salesman] PEDDLER.
  • Bits that lit my lights:Oh, 83d (crossing themer 91a) was PANDEMIC. The clue was [“The Last Ship” event], which meant nothing to me.
    • 1d [Extremely small] wasn’t EENSY or TEENY but MICRO! And then, more scienciness with 7d [Representative example] SPECIMEN. Whee!
    • 43d [Typographical runover] WIDOW. That’s when a line or two ending a paragraph spills onto the top of the following page. The correlated phenomenon—when the first lines of a paragraph begin at the bottom of the page—is of course called an ORPHAN. Word processing programs have had a “widow/orphan protect” feature for ages, but I suspect many people are ignorant of it.
  • 98a [Napoleon Solo’s employer] U.N.C.L.E. That’s the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Additional factette: the character (played by Robert Vaughn) influenced the naming of Star Wars’ Han Solo.
  • 118a [Vodka cocktail] COSMO. Would have appreciated a “for short” or “informally” qualifier, à la 82d [Dominated, informally] OWNED.
  • 116a [Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s instrument] UKULELE. Thumbs up for both the full word and not the ubiquitous UKE and the playfulness of including the maestro’s full name.
  • More cute clues: 86a [Wherein the world?] ATLAS, 39a [Item in a Magritte painting (or not)] PIPE, 92d [Lines at the movies?] SCRIPT.

Minimal frass, so-so theme, good puzzle overall.

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3 Responses to Friday, September 12, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    I was surprised to see HARRAH as the gambling pioneer. I knew the name as anyone who gambles would, but my first thought was Bugsy SIEGEL. While Las Vegas really started as a gambling locale to give the Hoover Dam workers something to do, it did not start to become big time until Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lanksy built the Flamingo. BUGSY with Annette Bening as Margaret Hill and Warren Beatty as Bugsy Siegel was a great movie.

    I enjoyed the puzzle and did not find it to be very tough, but I did think that there were quite a few phrases that were more (mundane) lines that you might hear in a conversation rather than idioms of our language.


  2. dave glasser says:

    Would BIKE TO WORK DAY be kosher by you?

  3. Zulema says:

    Such a relief after Thursday!
    Steve, Harrah is particularly connected to Nevada. I know the name as a Californian, not as a gambler.

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