Friday, October 17, 2014

NYT 4:45 (Amy) 
LAT 7:02 (Gareth) 
CS 8:32 (Ade) 
CHE 10:13 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 4:37 (pannonica) 

Michael Ashley’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 17 14, no. 1017

NY Times crossword solution, 10 17 14, no. 1017

My favorite answers in this puzzle were these ones:

  • 1a. [Something running on a cell], MOBILE APP.
  • 17a. [Been exposed to an awful lot], SEEN IT ALL.
  • 57a. [“V for Vendetta” writer], ALAN MOORE. Comics writer.
  • 12d. [2007 satirical best seller], I AM AMERICA. And so can you. (Stephen Colbert.)
  • 28d. [Only Hispanic performer with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony], RITA MORENO. The EGOT!
  • 39d. [Easy street’s location?], FAT CITY. Old-timey noirish vibe to this slang.

My least favorite were the ONE(s) ones and a few others:

  • 15a. [Starting to succeed], ON ONE’S WAY crossing 2d. [Prime draft pick], ONE-A. Duplication alert!
  • 41d. [Town at the tip of Italy’s “heel”], OTRANTO. Population 5,531! And yet it shows up in a good number of themelesses because of its letters.
  • 32d. [Player motivator], RAH. When’s the last time you heard anyone cheer “rah”?
  • 7d. [Like many dogs’ tails], AWAG. “Wagging” is so, so much more common.

So, SOLO SHOTS is a baseball term? [One-run homers]? Okay, then. Not familiar to me. Soon the World Series will be over and we’ll have six months without baseball!

Not much else in this puzzle is calling out to me, on either the raves or pans side. 3.5 stars from me.

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.17.14: "Tree-mendous"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.17.14: “Tree-mendous”

Welcome to Friday, everybody!

Not only does a tree grow in Brooklyn, but there are trees growing from the theme entries here in today’s puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke.  Each of the four theme answers are common and/or proper nouns, in which the first few letters of the first word make up the names of types of trees. 

  • PINEAPPLE CHUNKS: (17A: [Chopped-up fruit from Hawaii])
  • ASHTON KUTCHER: (27A: [“That ’70s Show” star]) – Never watched an entire episode of That ’70s Show, but I know that one of the bad guys from the first RoboCop plays a no-nonsense father in the show.
  • OAKLAND RAIDER: (47A: [California pro football player]) – Allegedly, an Oakland Raider plays “professional” football. Are the Raiders ever going to be good again?
  • ALDERMANIC TERMS: (63A: [Local politicians’ periods in office])

I just recently went out to a friend’s birthday celebration in Manhattan, and one of the guys in attendance, who was complimenting every lady that walked past him by the way, started to wax poetic about the legs of one of the ladies who was with us.  So I ended up saying to him, and saying out loud, “If you really want to compliment her legs, you should call them GAMS,” which immediately led to two things: 1) laughter from the people that have heard the word “gams” before and appreciated me saying that, and 2) bewilderment from about four of the younger people in our circle who had never heard of that word before (5A: [Legs, in old slang]). Nothing like feeling really old, huh?!  I’m also old enough to vividly remember Ed KOCH being the mayor of the city I live in now (35A: [New York mayor turned judge]). I think I’ve bought three or four packs of playing cards in my life, and I’m pretty sure that each of the decks (at least the last couple of times I’ve bought them) has been a playing deck made by HOYLE (16A: [Games rules expert Edmond]).  So in the past couple of weeks on CS/WaPo, there’s been an entry of U CAL and now an entry of UCLAN (31D: [Golden St. collegian]).  I think we might have to retire the University of California school system  school abbreviations for a little while.  UCLA is fine, but that last N?  Hmmmmm.  I don’t know!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KANE (3D: [Xanadu’s owner]) – Not many people hockey players can say that they scored the game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final.  Even fewer can say that they scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime.  I’m pretty sure that Patrick Kane scored the only Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal in which barely any person in the arena actually saw the puck actually go into the net.  The No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Kane won the Stanley Cup for Chicago with his Game 6 overtime goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. Kane also helped lead the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2013 as well, but he’s most remembered for scoring the winner in 2010, a goal which almost no one saw go in since it got stuck at the bottom of the net once it entered the cage, causing the puck to disappear from sight and also causing mass uncertainty from everyone in the building, including from the broadcasters.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rock Festival” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/17/14 • "Rock Festival" • Fri • Ross • solution

WSJ • 10/17/14 • “Rock Festival” • Fri • Ross • solution

“[Name of a musical act] AND [noun]” = recontextualized—or retrocontextualized—phrase.

  • 24a. [“Make It With You” band touring with the Ringling Brothers?] BREAD AND CIRCUSES.
  • 33a. [“Manic Monday” band appearing at a jewelry-making show?] BANGLES AND BEADS.
  • 51a. [“Magic Man” band appearing at a Motown revue?] HEART AND SOUL.
  • 61a. [“Rock and Roll All Nite” band at a cosmetics convention?] KISS AND MAKEUP (MAKE UP).
  • 72a. [“Mr. Roboto” band appearing with the “Ruby Tuesday” band?] STYX AND [ROLLING] STONES.
  • 85a. [“Mr. Tambourine Man” band at spelling conventions?] BYRDS AND BEES.
  • 103a. [“Light My Fire” band appearing at Microsoft?] DOORS AND WINDOWS.
  • 114a. [“New Kid in Town” band appearing at a rodeo?] EAGLES AND COWBOYS. Is this football? A somewhat random pairing of two teams (albeit from the same division, I’ll allow)?
  • 3d. [“We Will Rock You” band at the Grand Ole Opry?] QUEEN AND COUNTRY. Spiritual sibling to 51a.
  • 47d. [Ray Charles’s backup singers pair with “Sunshine of Your Love” band?] COOKIES AND CREAM. Spiritual sibling of the other double-bill answer, 72a. Also, I thought they were called the Raylettes, but I suppose they had different incarnations.

That’s a whopping TEN theme answers, all of significant length. An unusual situation of two 13-letter answers in the tenth and twelfth rows. Occasional definite articles in band names are discarded, which is completely understandable and acceptable. I also don’t mind the minor variations (splitting of a word in one answer, homophones in a couple of others. Even so, the puzzle might have been a bit more robust if two or three of the weaker themers were eliminated; more flexibility to avert strained ballast fill (e.g., ASIE, JACK BEBE ALLA LOW, EOE, IN DC).

  • Favorite clues: 71a [Something not free of charge] ION; 126a [Auspex’s readings] OMENS (because I’m a sucker for the few -spex varieties as opposed the many -mancies);
  • Not part of the theme: 59a [Underground band?] ORE; 65d [“Rock and Roll, Hoochie __”] KOO (Rick Derringer); 77d [Winter of rock] EDGAR.
  • 90a [Frank McCourt’s mother] ANGELA. As in Angela’s Ashes. He of crosswordy sequel ’Tis fame.
  • MALE and YANG as a symmetrical pair (45d & 74d).
  • 120a: “proper” (according to me) spelling of UEYS.
  • Duplication: 102d [Neighbor of N.Y. and Minn.] ONT., 52d [Sch. near Washington Square] NYU.
  • Very contemporary clue for UBER at 123a [Controversial ride-sharing app]. nb: The name lacks an umlaut. Another candidate for an up-to-date would have been 44a [Espresso-making need] STEAM.
  • Good longer, non-theme fill: IN ANY CASEPÈRE NOËL, HOT-RODDER; DUODENUM.

Solid, entertaining crossword.

Pancho Harrison’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 141017

LA Times

Songs (not sure why songs, just cos, I guess) with vertical arrangement related titles are ordered to suggest said arrangements. I’ve seen this trope done a few times. An interesting collection of oldies, I only knew 3 and a half of them:

  • TIMEINABOTTLE is rendered as A(TIME)BOTTLEYoutube
  • MOONOVERMIAMI becomes MOON(MIAMI). Rings a vague bell; over Bourbon Street more so – Youtube; of the versions I listened to, this was more to my taste
  • ONCEUPONATIME is ONCE(ATIME) in the grid. No idea! Mary Wells sings My Guy and that’s it in my world. Marvin Gaye sings a lot of things… Mostly with Tammi Terrell if he’s dueting… Youtube. Went all the way to #19! Ok then.
  • WINDBENEATHMYWINGS is reordered to be MYWINGS(WIND). Reluctant Youtube.

Best ballast fill: [Neapolitan kin], SPUMONI, [Barbara Gordon’s alter ego], BATGIRL and [Cold one], BREWSKI.

Other remarks:

  • [Lurking locale], BLOG. Hi guys! Why don’t you introduce yourselves!
  • [Ferrari parent company], FIAT. I always tell people my Fiat Panda is a very small Ferrari!
  • [Athens aperetif], OUZO makes it sound genteel!

A nice vintage theme for vintage solvers!
3.75 Stars

Jim Holland’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Lit or Miss?” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 10/17/14 • "Lit or Miss?" • Holland • solution

CHE • 10/17/14 • “Lit or Miss?” • Holland • solution

Writers’ names as puns in terse, negative reviews of their work:

  • 17a. [Reviewer on “Das Kapital”: “Its arguments don’t hold water”] FAILING MARX (marks, Karl Marx).
  • 23a. [Reviewer on “The Road to Wellville”: “I got whiplash from the runaway plot”] RAPID BOYLE (boil, T Coraghessan Boyle).
  • 36a. [Reviewer on “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”: “It gets bogged down in excessive detail”] TECHNICAL FOWLES (fouls,  John Fowles).
  • 53a. [Reviewer on “The Luck of Roaring Camp”: “It needs more humor”] HEAVY HARTE (heart, Bret  Harte).
  • 60a. [Reviewer on “Look Homeward Angel”: It’s overlong and clunky”] BIG BAD WOLFE (wolf, Thomas Wolfe).

Damn, if only I could find a homophone for Bond.

Cute stuff, but I was a bit distracted by the preponderance of names with a silent E—it almost looks like a theme aspect. Fortunately, with the exception of WOLFE, they involve more radical spelling changes to provide distance from the original punned word.

    • 63a [Piece of fiction] LIE.
    • wbatsp193034d [Michael who won a Pulitzer for “The Killer Angels”] SHAARA. Well, he got at least one positive review, then. Not to be confused with astronaut Wally SCHIRRA or historian Simon SCHAMA, chicken SHAWARMA, or Jeff SHAARA (his son).
    • 49d [“With __ at the South Pole” (1930 documentary)] BYRD, preceded by 48d [Emulate 49 Down] AVIATE.
    • 54a [Color of maple syrup] AMBER. Interesting factette via Wikipedia: “The International Maple Syrup Institute has been working on international grading standards so that all producers will use the same grading system. Transition to the new system is expected in the coming years. Beginning in 2014, Vermont has adopted a new grading system replacing the previous five grades from Fancy to Grade C, to four levels of color and flavor intensity. All grades will now be Grade A, to to reflect that there is not a difference in quality, but rather in color and flavor intensity.”
      • Grade A: Golden Color with Delicate Flavor
      • Grade A: Amber Color with Rich Flavor
      • Grade A: Dark Color with Robust Flavor
      • Grade A: Very Dark Color with Strong Flavor
    • Favorite clue: 65d [Pair of spinnerets?] ENS. No spiders involved, alas.

Fun crossword.

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15 Responses to Friday, October 17, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    THIN AS A REED surprised me. I have always used THIN AS A RAIL. And most fashion icons have been tall, elegant brick houses, not wafer thin waifs. For every Kate Moss and Twiggy there are a dozen Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girls.

    Maybe I am just angry because I solved the puzzle very quickly except for the center-east.

    Monet is one of my two favorite painters, but I guessed Manet for the painting. Did not know DIRAC.

    I found myself watching the end of the baseball game instead of the last few minutes of the football game, a rarity for me. Travis Ishikawa is a truly heartwarming story. SOLO SHOT is definitely idiomatic and an excellent answer.


    • Gary R says:

      I agree that “thin as a rail” is more common than “thin as a reed,” but I’ve heard both.

      Although there are certainly some busty models out there, I suspect that you’d find that the typical (female) runway model has a BMI close to the “too thin” end of the scale.

      My concern with 39A is that I would think that the “fashion icons” are the designers, not the models. This answer might better have been clued without the cross-reference.

      • pannonica says:

        Google Ngram for

        thin as a rail ×
        thin as a reed ×
        thin as a rake ×
        thin as a stick ×
        thin as a dime

        I’m surprised “dime” was the least common, but not surprised “rail” was tops.

        • Gary R says:

          “One thin dime” scores about 5x “thin as a dime.”

          • pannonica says:

            “There’s a hole in the ladder
            A fence we can climb
            Mad as a hatter
            You’re thin as a dime
            Go out to the meadow
            The hills are agreen
            Sing me a rainbow
            Steal me a dream”

            – from “Diamonds & Gold” (Tom Waits)

            And of the five, a dime is the only one you can commonly metaphorically stop on.

  2. Avg Solvr says:

    Thanks to the constructors of the WSJ and CHE for the fun and clever theme answers.

  3. Huda says:

    To my mind, a FASHION ICON is neither a designer nor a model, but someone who is well known for other reasons and sets fashion trends, because she is so stylish and distinctive that others want to emulate her. Jackie Kennedy, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Amelia Earhardt are all fashion icons, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes because of this je ne sais quoi that makes their style enviable and iconic. And yes, many of them are THIN AS A REED.

    • Gary R says:


      After thinking about it, I believe you’re right about who is a “fashion icon” – more those who express distinctive fashion in their everyday lives than either the designers or the models.

      Certainly Jackie Kennedy qualifies, probably the Hepburns, probably Princess Diana, maybe Michelle Obama. All of these women are certainly height/weight appropriate, but I’m not sure any of them would be described as “thin as a reed.”

    • sbmanion says:

      I also agree that fashion icons include legendary style setters. My point was that most of the top models who have achieved iconic status–as opposed to the garden variety model who is often thin–are generally spectacular: Linda Evangelista, Giselle Bunchen, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, etc. Kate Moss and Twiggy are the only two I can think of who are thin as a reed.


      • Gary R says:

        If we believe

        Linda Evangelista: 5’9″, 121 lb., BMI 17.9
        Giselle Bundchen: 5’11”, 126 lb., BMI 17.6
        Naomi Campbell: 5’9″, 128 lb., BMI 18.9
        Tyra Banks: 5’10”, 141 lb., BMI 20.2

        The BMI calculator I was using defines “underweight” as a BMI < 18.5 and "normal weight" as 18.5 to 24.9.

        I don't know if these women are "thin as a reed," but they are pretty darned slim.

        • sbmanion says:

          The aptly named Twiggy had a BMI of 15 and Kate Moss 16.

          As to the others, reeds, rails, rakes and dimes do not immediately come to mind.


  4. Art Shapiro says:

    CS: Can someone explain “Shower’s Spot” being THIRD?

    • Gareth says:

      Showing means coming 3rd in horse racing.

    • pannonica says:

      UCLAN? ALDERMANIC? yeesh.

      Also, 22a [Biting bug] GNAT. Really? Not, as far as I know, the ones we commonly call simply “gnats”. Midges, which are closely related, okay. Probably some other closely related families.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        I saw a reference to “gnat” as a biting bug in another puzzle recently – can’t remember which one – and had the same response. Annoying? Yes. Pesky? Absolutely. Biting? Not in our neck of the woods. I don’t know if that’s an entomological or semantic difference.

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