Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jonesin' 3:55 (Amy) 
NYT 3:42 (Amy) 
LAT 3:11 (Amy) 
CS 11:18 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Gary Cee’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 16 14, no. 0916

NY Times crossword solution, 9 16 14, no. 0916

52a. [How a motormouth talks … or what 20-, 29- and 43-Across literally have in common] clues ON AND ON AND ON, and those other three answers each cONtain the bigram ON three times:

  • 20a. [1990s R&B group with a repetitive-sounding name], TONY TONI TONE.
  • 29a. [City midway between Detroit and Toronto], LONDON, ONTARIO.
  • 43a. [June to September, in India], MONSOON SEASON.

Simple theme, not stale. I like the revealer.

I’m fine with AARON, RAYON, and a few other entries including random ONs, but could have done without RAINS ON having a nonthematic stand-alone ON.

Five more things:

  • My crosswordese category includes ERLE, ELEMI, and ALAI.
  • Didn’t know the WAH [___ pedal (guitar accessory)] at 26a.
  • 42a. [Ophthalmologist’s concern], RETINA. Sending out good thoughts to a reader who’s due for surgery to repair a detached RETINA. This is the surgery where the recovery period is two weeks of keeping your eyes aimed at the ground. It seems like the sort of position that makes solving crosswords entirely uncomfortable! Heal up, J.H.
  • 38d. [Ingredients in pesto], PINE NUTS. Had some last week in my sage/brown butter sauce for squash ravioli. Num!
  • 9d. [“Oh, what the heck?”], “WHY NOT?” My favorite inedible answer here.

I won’t go ON and ON about the puzzle and bore you. 3.66 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle, “In-Group”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 9/16

Crossword Nation 9/16

So we’re two weeks into the season and already it’s been a rough year for the NFL, today’s “in” group. Happily, there’s no negative PR in the puzzle, just a good, solid use of a gimmick that has the letter group “N-F-L” bridging (“in”) each of the two-word phrases of the theme fill. While the reveal at 64A., NFL CENTERS, might lead you to believe otherwise, with one exception, the letters do not appear in the mathematical center of the phrases. But that shouldn’t prevent the solver from savoring a well- rounded, winningly-clued theme set.

  • 17A. SKIN FLICKS [“Dirty” work, for some actors]. “‘Dirty’ work”? Hey—I thought they were making “art movies”…
  • pepper
    OPEN FLAME in an urban kitchen…
  • 24A. OPEN FLAME [You can roast peppers over one]. I have a gas range, and always see this instruction in cook books, yet have never had the courage to try it. But I sure do love this particular clue/fill combo. It’s active, it’s visual, it creates a scenario. And look: NFL right there in the center. Nice one!
  • 40A. CORRECTION FLUID [Wite-Out, basically]. Okay, not the zippiest fill, but this one gets grid-spanner props!
  • 51A. PAN FLUTES [Wind instruments named for a Greek god]. Lovely. And they’re not just for folk or Andean or New Age music either
  • 64A. NFL CENTERS [Gridiron players who make “snap” judgments…or a hint to the puzzle theme]. Like the “gridiron” in the grid and the punny, peppy “‘snap’ judgments” in the cluing.

I don’t have to THINK HARD, either, about the puzzle’s other long-word/-phrase assets—PROOF READ, FINAL SALE and GUILTLESS. And notice how proof read gets the clever clue treatment by way of [Check for character flaws?]. So that’s “character” as in “letter” and not “personality trait.”

Other crafty clue/fill combos come to us by way of [Tireless winter vehicle] for SLED and (my fave today) [Went belly up in the aquarium business?] for TANKED. In the first case, you may have thought “tireless” was being used as a word synonymous with “unflagging” or “persistent” and would then have misled yourself into entering something like PLOW. But no-o-o. It’s “tireless” as in being blade-propelled and not as in not using torus-shaped rubber cushions. In the second, we get a cryptic-like, double-definition clue. To go “belly up” is to tank; and one of the largest selling items in an aquarium supply business would be the fish tank.

A couple of “did not knows” and then we’ll call it a wrap. Completely new to me, actress EVIE Thompson of The Call which, IMDB reminds me, is probably better known as a Halle Berry movie. Ms. Thompson can currently be seen in the far more critically acclaimed Boyhood. And then there was singer NONA Hendryx, whose name I knew, but not that she co-founded Labelle (with Patti LaBelle and Sarah Dash). And… she’s also a cousin of Jimi Hendrix. So there!

Hope you’ll have a great week, and until next time, I’ll use the [Texter’s “So long”] to say “C YA!”

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pun Pun Platter”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.16.14: "Pun Pun Platter"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.16.14: “Pun Pun Platter”

Good morning everyone! It’s a rainy and gloomy Tuesday here weather-wise, but today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is far from gloom and doom. Each of the five theme answers are common terms or proper nouns in which the first two words/letters/syllables are exactly the same. In the grid, however, those first two words are replaced by homonyms, creating some serious pun action.

  • I, I CAPTAIN: (17A: [Words from an egotistical first mate?])
  • SI SI SABATHIA: (24A: [Jorge Posada’s agreement with his star pitcher?]) – There was a time that CC Sabathia was thought to be the pitcher with the next and/or last realistic chance of being a 300-game winner in MLB. Injuries have slowed his path to immortality big time. Will any pitcher ever win 300 games again in Major League Baseball?
  • BUY BUY BLACKBIRD: (39A: [McCartney plugging a song off the White Album?])
  • BAH BAH AU RHUM : (53A: [Bad review of a rich cake?]) – Number of times I’ve tried a Baba cake? Zero. Number of times I’ve had to fill in “Baba” in a crossword? Countless.
  • OH OH SEVEN: (65A: [Excited cry at the craps table?]) – I don’t think I’ve ever heard the famous British agent ever be referred to “oh-oh-seven” and always as “double-oh seven.” Maybe I missed it in one of the books or movies.

For a long time while I was a kid, I definitely would have been described as a “Wheel Watcher,” and PAT SAJAK was a big part of my television life back then (9D: [“Wheel” man]). This grid sure got me jealous in terms of my upcoming vacation/staycation, because I won’t be going to either LANAI (12D: [Island west of Maui]), ARUBA (54D: [Caribbean cruise stop]) or BALI (70A: [Exotic vacation spot]). I do want to go to Italy one day, so maybe one of my vacation spots in the future will lead me to TURIN (63A: [City on the Po]). All in all, I appreciate the heavy geography in the grid very much. Not so appreciative of the partial PULL A, but, as I’ve said before, I don’t pull my hair out on not-so-great partials as other people might (9A: [______ fast one]). To sign off, there are buses and shuttles in Brooklyn to take people to the one IKEA in the borough, and, even though I’ve never been inside one one of those buses to go there, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bus more crowded than the ones I see pass by on the way to the store (15A: [Big furniture retailer]). My question is, what happens when the shoppers who come back from buying any and all of their products on their wish list for the day have to shoehorn into the bus coming back home together, bags/boxes and all? Holy claustrophobia, Batman!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CREE (37D: [Algonquian Indian)]) – Former National League Hockey All-Star Jonathan Cheechoo, a full-blodded CREE from Moose Factory, Ontario, led the league in goals scored in the 2005-06 season (56) as a member of the San Jose Sharks, thus winning the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer.  Cheechoo never hit the heights that he attained during that career year in 2006 in the NHL and now currently plays for Belarusian team HC Dinamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, the premier hockey league in Europe.

See you all on Hump Day, and thank you so much for your time!

Take care!


Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 9 16 14

LA Times crossword solution, 9 16 14

Here’s another Tuesday puzzle with a revealer that’s also a song title (this one more famous than the NYT’s), but clued as a regular phrase. 41a. [Regain, and hint to a hidden letter arrangement in 20- and 59-Across and 11- and 35-Down] clues GET BACK, and GET backwards, or TEG, is embedded within each theme answer:

  • 20a. [Hockey player’s blade cover], SKATE GUARD.
  • 59a. [Meticulous, as premium service], WHITE-GLOVE.
  • 11d. [Roofing color], SLATE GRAY.
  • 35d. [Rather nice], QUITE GOOD.

The theme quartet is rather unexciting. All four are split TE/G, so that’s consistent, but mixing it up a little, we could’ve had things like STEGOSAURUS, NEST EGG, EXIT STRATEGY, and MONTEGO BAY. The 7-letter revealer pushes the other four to be shorter than STEGOSAURUS and EXIT STRATEGY, doesn’t it? Might have liked the puzzle better in a venue that uses puzzle titles, where “Get Back” could tie together four longer and perhaps livelier themers.

The fill trended a bit older. SSTS and OLEO, LATKA (Andy Kaufman’s character, ended his run 31 years ago), the 1946 computer ENIAC? There’s also 60d. [Robert of “The Sopranos”], ILER—despite playing Tony’s son, he wasn’t a very important character on the show, and he’s done nothing of note in show biz since the show ended in ’07. ILER isn’t juicy fill.

Three stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Follow the Directions”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 9 16 14 "Follow the Directions"

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 9 16 14 “Follow the Directions”

The theme answers contain the letter chunks EAST, NORTH, WEST, and SOUTH with the embedded words heading in the direction indicated (where the top of the puzzle = north).

  • 17a. [Hidden video game item], EASTER EGG.
  • 66a. [Meme caption with Captain Picard and a Singer machine], MAKE IT SEW, with WEST heading towards the west. Here are some examples of the meme, if you’re curious. This theme answer amused me.
  • 11d. [Company that owns Dirt Devil and Hoover appliances], TECHTRONIC, with NORTH traveling north. Didn’t know the Techtronic name, but the -tronic ending isn’t unusual and neither is the tech- start.
  • 30d. [Response after searching all over the house for the dog, perhaps], HE’S OUT HERE. Contrived phrase, meh.

Seven more things:

  • 16a. [Figure skater Berezhnaya], ELENA. This was a tough crossing with the TECHTRONIC I didn’t know. I wondered if the name was going to be unusual, since there are more famous ELENAs out there. ELANA? ELINA? Never heard of Berezhnaya. I see that she retired after winning Olympic gold in pairs skating in 2002, 6 years after her previous skating partner’s skate had sliced her skull (!).
  • 19a. [The first of Weird Al’s 2014 parodies], TACKY. I only recall the prescriptivist “Word Crimes.”
  • 46a. [Patrick of “Almost Famous”], FUGIT. Fourteen years later, he’s still best known for that first film role. He is, in fact, almost famous. Maybe his profile will grow when Gone Girl comes out this fall? (He plays a detective…but isn’t listed among the first five cast members. So maybe not.)
  • 60a. [Guitarist’s position that also includes D# and F#], B CHORD. I managed the CHORD part okay but needed the crossing for the first letter.
  • 5d. [Run-D.M.C. song that asks “Why ya buggin’?”], MARY, MARY. Don’t know this one at all.
  • 9d. [Food label unit], NET CARB. Wait, in the singular? That looks weird.
  • 63d. [Edwards of the Carolina Panthers], DWAN. All crossings for me here.

I counted almost 30 proper nouns—people, places, brands, and titles of creative works. That is a ton of names! Did that work out okay for you?

56a. [“Hush your mouth”] cluing SSH? Nope. SH or SHH, sure. But the double S bugs me a lot.

3.33 stars from me.

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4 Responses to Tuesday, September 16, 2014

  1. John says:

    I play guitar and I only hear it called a “wah wah” pedal, but who knows?

    “On and on and on” is also a song by Chicago rock band Wilco, though not one of their bests in my opinion.

    • DF says:

      “On and On” was also a big hit for singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop in 1976 — it hit #11 on the Billboard charts.

  2. Huda says:

    Janie, I too like the open flame clue! I grew up watching my mom roasting peppers and eggplants over an open flame. The eggplants are then made into Baba Ghannouj.. The smoky taste makes a huge difference in that dish! Even if you broil, it’s not quite the same.

    NYT: was enjoyable! But I hesitated over WAH. And I Loved the clue for TRANSLUCENT. More food in puzzles, please :)

    • janie says:

      >…Baba Ghannouj.. The smoky taste makes a huge difference in that dish!

      uh-oh. i can see where i might be tempted to face my fears. that sounds *great*!


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