Sunday, September 28, 2014

NYT 7:40 (Amy) 
Reagle 7:35 (1 error) (Amy) 
LAT 6:18 (Amy) 
Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 
WaPo 7:07 (Gareth) 
CS Approx. 22 minutes, on paper (Ade) 

Todd Gross’s New York Times crossword, “Four By Four!”

NY Times crossword solution, 9 28 14 "Four by Four"

NY Times crossword solution, 9 28 14 “Four by Four”

Simple enough theme: Phrases that contain four 4-letter words (none of them obscene).

  • 23a. [1975 Tony-nominated play about an extended affair], SAME TIME NEXT YEAR. Also a movie with Alan Alda.
  • 46a. [The Crossroads of the West], SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH.
  • 92a. [Warm way to welcome someone], WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN.
  • 119a. [Common slogan for a music radio station], LESS TALK, MORE ROCK. Haven’t heard that one. “More music,” sure.
  • 16d. [“Don’t be ashamed”], HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH. The “up” is optional.
  • 36d. [Reagan’s challenge to Gorbachev], TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.

Grasping the theme did help me put the theme answers together. No inherent humor or wordplay going on, though, so the puzzle played a little dry.

Fave fill:

  • 70d. [Bum], NO-GOODNIK.
  • 80a. [Historic figure with a reputation at stake?], JOAN OF ARC. Too soon?
  • 128a. [Unpredictable one], WILD CARD.
  • 125a. [“CSI: Miami” actress], EVA LARUE. The show was canceled, sure, but I still say she’s more broadly familiar these days than western actor of yore, Lash Larue, who seems to be the NYT puzzle’s go-to LARUE.

Five more clues:

  • 21a. Small thing to burn], CALORIE. Set it on fire!
  • 77a. Writer painted by Velàzquez], AESOP. And how did he know what Aesop looked like?
  • 105d. Oscar-winning actor whose name is Italian for “fishes”], PESCI. Don’t you think of him when you see the seafood section of the menu at an Italian restaurant?
  • 80d. Classic movie shot on Martha’s Vineyard], JAWS. Film trivia! (Unrelated here to 10d: MAXILLA and 85d: TEETH.)
  • 26a. [Rehnquist’s successor on the high bench], SCALIA. Anyone else try SOUTER off the S? (ELENA Kagan is also here, at 104d.)

Crosswordese on the march: IMARETS, EERO, SERIN. Really not much in the way of crosswordese, which can be surprising in a 21×21 grid.

3.75 stars.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “September Story”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 9 28 14 "September Story"

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 9 28 14 “September Story”

As the notepad explanation says, “The old Roman calendar had only 10 months and began in March, until January and February were added in front. This is why September, which means 7, used to be the 7th month but is now the 9th. (Obviously, it doesn’t take much to inspire me to make a puzzle.)” The theme entries are various words and phrases that contain SEVEN or NINE. There’s no Seven of Nine, though.

  • 23a. [Recycling device in which you insert cans and get back money], REVERSE VENDING MACHINE. Didn’t know that was a thing. Regional, perhaps?
  • 26a. [Incisor neighbors], CANINE TEETH.
  • 44a. [Author of “I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed”], JESSE VENTURA.
  • 55a. [Tonic-water ingredient], QUININE.
  • 65a. [Tonight], THIS EVENING.
  • 75a. [Cockamamie], ASININE.
  • 83a. [Pays back, in a way], GETS EVEN WITH.
  • 103a. [What “September” has], NINE LETTERS.
  • 107a. [What “September” has], SEVEN DIFFERENT LETTERS.

Not much “Wow, neat!” to that, is there?

Seven or nine more things:

  • 18a. [Ottoman ruler nicknamed “The Lion”], ALI PASHA. His last name was Aslan, which may explain where C.S. Lewis got his lion’s name.
  • 21a. [Birds that grab bats], ORIOLES. The Baltimore Orioles baseball team, that is.
  • 59a. [No-goodnik], CUR. Also a bum.
  • 90a. [Madonna in “A League of Their Own”], MAE / 90d. [Fighting spirit], METTLE. Didn’t know the character, guessed FAE and FETTLE.
  • 7d. [Voice of Marge Simpson, Julie ___ (born on 9/7)], KAVNER. Nine! Seven!
  • 45d. [Cat’s whisker], VIBRISSA. Tough vocabulary at the R crossing with 61a. [Living on river banks], RIPARIAN.
  • 8d. [Little prayers?], MANTISES. Hey! Would you like to see a parasitic worm emerging from a mantis? It’s impressive.

3.5 stars from me. Not a whole lot of excitement here, though there are some interesting longer entries in the fill.

Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 09.28.14

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 09.28.14

Good morning, everybody!!

I hope you’re all doing well, and also hope you also had a fun time doing Mr. Tony Orbach’s challenge. A very smooth grid and a very fun experience solving. Certainly can say that I DID OK with this one (37A: [Made a decent showing]). A few weeks ago, I did a “sports…smarter” moment on SATCHEL PAIGE and his many memorable quotes, and I encourage you to look up a few of them because they’re really good, almost in the Yogi Berra class (50A: [Major League Baseball’s oldest rookie ever]). Continuing with the sports theme a little, loved the clue to CANVAS, as it’s referring to boxing and wrestling events instead of jewelry (17A: [Ring material]). The two real long down answers were really strong, with AMAZON RIVER (23A: [“Anaconda” setting]) and RANT AND RAVE, something that I don’t do a lot at all (3D: [Spew venom]). Wasn’t necessarily fooled in terms of which part of the map to think about when looking at the clue to GEORGIA, and got that one completely filled in after just having the “E” in place (23A: [Plains place]). To wrap up, I actually took a picture of The Burghers of Calais by RODIN from my time I spent in London, but it was 10 years and (at least) two hard drives ago, so I’m going to have to do some serious work to try and find that photo album right now (29D: [French sculptor with a famous piece on the Thames]). Having a digital camera and keeping your photos isn’t a sure thing when dealing with computers. Or maybe it is, and I’m just a klutz!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TOON (34A: [Any of the Animaniacs])– With this being a football Sunday, as well as being a huge New York Jets fan, it’s the perfect time for me to remember one of the first star New York Jets players who I rooted for when growing up, former wide receiver Al TOON. Toon was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (1986-88), as well as a three-time All-Pro selection who still holds the Jets single-season record for receptions in a season, with 93 catches back in the 1988 season. Toon’s career was cut short by concussions, as he suffered at least nine of them during his eight-year career. (Yikes!) He retired from the game in 1992. His son, Nick, is currently a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints.

Another week of crosswords in the books! Thank you so much for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Dana Olsen’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Ah, Me!”

LA Times Sunday crossword solution, 9 28 14 "Ah, Me"

LA Times Sunday crossword solution, 9 28 14 “Ah, Me”

Terrible title but an easy crossword. The theme is spoken phrases that can be clued with “[word] me”:

  • 23a. [“Trust me”], TAKE MY WORD FOR IT.
  • 39a. [“On me”], THIS IS MY TREAT.
  • 71a. [“Help me”], HOW ABOUT A HAND?
  • 100a. [“Tell me”], WHAT’S THE STORY?
  • 118a. [“Search me”], I HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE.
  • 16d. [“Let me”], I’LL BE GLAD TO DO THAT. This one reads a little awkwardly.
  • 33d. [“Kiss me”], PLANT ONE RIGHT HERE.

Don’t recognize the constructor’s name. A debut, perhaps?

Likes: QUEEN BEE, the immortal and well-spelled KRYSTLE, CORN PONE, SNITCH, S’MORES.

Three more things:

  • 26a. [Latvians, e.g.], BALTS. Along with Lithuanians and Estonians, people of the Baltic region.
  • 49a. [Bad news from home?], “YER OUT!” Cute clue.
  • Crosswordese-starting-with-E on parade: ELOI, ERNS, ESSE, EWER.

The quicker a puzzle goes, the less I have to say about it. 3.5 stars from me.

“The Post Puzzler No. 234” by Mike Nothnagel – Gareth’s review

The Post Puzzler No. 234

The Post Puzzler No. 234

Easy themeless, but fun. It speaks to us: IMEASY, YOUBET & ITSALIE! ISUPPOSESO. It has full names – the crossing JERIRYAN (I put her down without crosses! Go me!) & KEVINKLINE. It has answers with a fresh feel: PRESSONE, NEXTDAY & WIIMOTE. There were a few tricky bits for me too: PASTIS was unknown for me and required all the crossers. Michael ANSARA rings only the faintest bell and likewise needed those crossers I have no idea what [Steal the old MANS bindle] is! [Sticks for breaking] is a subtly difficult clue and my favourite of the puzzle.

snap3.5 Stars

Henry Hook’s CRooked crossword, “Disastrous” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 9/28/14 • "Disastrous" • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 9/28/14 • “Disastrous” • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

I think we’re being trolled here.

  • [ … for Caribbean musicians?] APOCALYPSO.
  • 24a. [ … for cats?] ARMAKITTEN.
  • 42a. [ … for pigs?] APORKALYPSE.
  • 50a. [ … for Andean animals?] LLAMAGEDDON.
  • 69a. [ … for word-game fans?] ABOGGLELYPSE.
  • 77a. [ … for perfumers?] AROMAGEDDON.
  • 97a. [ … for stunt flyers?] APOCALOOPS.
  • 99a. [ … for a NASCAR champ?] ARMAGORDON.
  • 35d. [ … for believers in destiny?] KARMAGEDDON.
  • 38d. [ … for kissers?] APUCKERLIPS.

Ten atrocious puns on either apocalypse or armageddon. I will give the theme this: they’re split five and five between the two, and the punning is varied in location (front, back, and middle are all represented). But the puns are horrific™ and with only two variations it’s all quite tedious.

There’s some nastiness among the ballast fill, too, the absolute worst being 31a [Cath. or Prot.] XTIAN. I kid you not. The only reason I was able to get it was because I knew the crossing [Clicking language of Africa] XHOSA. In the same area we have this pile-up: 9d [Chilean desert] ATACAMA; woe unto you if you don’t know it, as some of its crossings are equally recondite: 20a [Country singer Clark] TERRI, 27a [Spore case] ASCUS, and the aforementioned XTIAN. Wow.

Midlength non-theme entries—LIKEWISE, CRINKLED, WORKMATE, RESTORED, GRADUATE, PEAR TREE—are good, but nothing to write home about.

Other unusual fill includes: BIONT, CODON, GLIM, EGDON Heath, and accordionist MYRON Floren.

84-across [Satiric news source] ONION needs a “, with ‘The’ qualifier.

So seriously, what’s going on here. Is it a joke, is it meant to REPEL (81a)? Is Hook being a 106a [Imp] DEMON, is he playing at being the 53d [Underworld boss?] DEVIL

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10 Responses to Sunday, September 28, 2014

  1. Martin says:

    I don’t know why that guy wanted to kill a mantis, which most gardeners take pains to encourage. But any outrage is tempered by the fact that this one was a dead mantis walking, due to it’s infestation with horse hair worms. These parasitoids (which always kill their hosts) get the host insect to commit suicide by drowning, so the adult horse hair worm can live out its adult stage in water. Host behavioral changes are the ultimate weapon in a parasitoid’s arsenal.

  2. Christopher Smith says:

    Nice puzzle, with a solid if not particularly inspired motif. Along with MAXILLA & TEETH, the placement of COWS & TIPS so near each other (you could even say they ABUT) was amusing, at least to me.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Easy but I liked it better than the ratings. I imagine the construction of interlocking theme answers requires some doing. But for me, it’s because I find most Sunday type themes silly and the experience a slog. Here, it felt smooth. Glancing at it after it’s done says it all– no gibberish! The theme sentences were in English and made sense, the cluing was playful in many places, there were little subthemes — I loved JAWS, MAXILLA, TEETH, the justices, DEPRAVE crossing ENCLAVE ( just imagine the goings on in that corner). And any puzzle with NEURO and ACTH in it is cool in my book.

  4. CY Hollander says:

    I liked the NYT today. The theme, if unexciting, was fresh, at least to me, and, as Amy points out, grasping it helps with solving the puzzle, which is one of the things that a good theme should do, IMO. Also as Amy points out, the fill was very smooth for a puzzle this size. The only problem area, IMHO, is IMARETS/MAXILLA/SERIN/TANEY. I did manage to get it right, thanks to vaguely having a sense of “maxilla” and “Taney”, but I can’t see a good way to guess the M or the N for someone who doesn’t know any of the four.

  5. Erik says:

    How is Scalia Rehnquist’s successor (26a.)? They served together on the Supreme Court for a long time and Rehnquist was replaced by Roberts, not Scalia, as Chief Justice.

    • Erik says:

      Oh, I get it. Scalia filled Rehnquist’s spot as Associate Justice when Rehnquist became Chief Justice. Tricky tricky.

  6. janie says:

    i rather enjoyed today’s nyt and was familiar w/ roger taney, who was a marylander (AS AM I). not only is there a taneytown, md., but the part of nw baltimore i grew up in also had (and still has) a taney road — the latter probably named for him, the former not… also, took con law in college, so was familiar w/ r.t.’s name from that perspective.

    but what took some of the crispness out of the fill for me was the repeated OPEN — in WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN and OPEN SHOT.

    ah, well — sometimes this kind of repetition can’t be helped. but i don’t feel like it’s the puzzle’s friend.


  7. HH says:

    “84-across [Satiric news source] ONION needs a “, with ‘The’ qualifier.”

    I hate using [with “The”]. Someday I will clue THE as [Shakespeare play, with “Tempest”].

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