Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NYT 3:44 (Amy) 
Jonesin' 3:06 (Amy) 
LAT 2:47 (Amy) 
CS 24:41 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 21 14, no. 1021

NY Times crossword solution, 10 21 14, no. 1021

Contest Puzzle Week Crossword #2! The theme has three 15s, which is a good bit less thematic density than we expect from Patrick. There is something else in there, something that plays a part in Saturday’s meta. Hmm, 20+ proper nouns … maybe there’s something to that, and maybe the names are just there to facilitate the inclusion of whatever sneaky contest business Patrick is up to.

Not wild about this sort of theme, where the theme answers are all awkward phrases that wouldn’t ordinarily pass muster as crossword entries, but can define various meanings of the same word:

  • 20a. [TIME], MARATHONER’S STAT. Oh! My husband’s time, in case you missed it a week ago, was 3:18:53 in the Chicago Marathon. He might run the Boston Marathon in 2016 (2015 filled up weeks before the Chicago race). He runs, I do crosswords. We don’t compete with each other. We each pursue our own awesomeness.

Five more things:

  • 3d. [Seasonal traveler], MIGRATOR. Uncommon form of the word.
  • 14a. [Actress Donovan of “Clueless”], ELISA. I can’t help thinking that the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay type of ELISA is better-known.
  • 45d. [What Apple’s Project Purple became], IPHONE. “Project Purple”? Not ringing a bell.
  • 8d. [They’re doomed … doomed!], GONERS. Playful clue. Sticks out. Part of the meta or just random whimsy?
  • 32a. [“Much ___ About Nothing”], ADO / 49a. [“Much ___ About Nothing” (“The Simpsons” episode)], APU. Nice pairing.

3.25 stars from me for the puzzle proper. We’ll see how it feeds into the contest this weekend.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 177), “A Touch of Sass”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 177, 10/21

Crossword Nation 177, 10/21

Going through a rough patch at work? Need to express yourself to a higher up in no uncertain terms? Or, as we see today, in slyly couched terms? Have I got a puzzle for you! “A Touch of Sass” may be heard in each of the familiar retorts now re-purposed as profession-specific—and therefore profession-punny—retorts, each with its own way of saying “TALK TO THE HAND!” [Employee’s rant, to the coarse-as-an-emery-board manicurist?], e.g.

  • 20A. “FORGET ABOUT IT!” [Employee’s rant, to the absent-minded memory expert?]. Very funny idea here. (Well, in all four themers actually).
  • 32A. “IN YOUR DREAMS!” [Employee’s rant, to the nightmarish Freudian analyst?]
  • 41A. “GET OFF MY BACK!” [Employee’s rant, to the nagging chiropractor?]. I think this is a particularly strong, clear combo.
  • 58A. “DON’T TREAD ON ME!” [Employee’s rant, to the back-stabbing tire salesman?]. Thank you, American founding fathers!

We meet up with a little more sass/attitude in the BETRAY [Throw under the bus] and DISSED [Talked trash to] pairings. But not to worry. Liz’s “sass” has more than a touch of class, and the ERA OF [___ Good Feelings] asserts itself as well. So if you’d DIE FOR [Crave] something sweet right about now, look no further than the SW quadrant and start with a section of the BIT-O-[___ Honey (chewy candy)]. Notice how that’s [Perched upon] ATOP the side-by-side-by-side apple STRUDELS, DONUT and FLAN. And you can wash it all down with some 7-Up, the UNCOLA (okay—you can have an OREO, too…). Both Bit-o-Honey and the descriptor for Uncola stir up associations with specific vintage advertising: the former to a jingle heard a lot in the ’50s and ’60s (couldn’t find any audio—sorry); the latter to the voice and presence of that late, great renaissance man, Geoffrey Holder. Nobody did it better!

The unfood in today’s puzz? The clue sez [Makes applesauce?], but the fill tells us FIBS. So no winesaps or granny smiths here, but a tad more sass. The OED, tells us this is North American slang for “nonsense; insincere flattery; lies.” Their citation from John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samara: “‘I just didn’t want to spoil your evening, that’s all.’ ‘Applesauce,’ said Irma.” Other clues that kept things peppy: [Jaguar in a garage] for CAR (and if it’s CAT, call the Humane Society or your local zoo—fast!); [Bear’s warning?] for “SELL!” (so that’s a stockmarket bear [and if it’s not…]); and the no-dough [Big bucks?] for ELKS. Hmm. More than a bit-o-fauna running through those examples.

The puzzle also has a NAME or two worthy of a shout out. Talkin’ about you, [“Get Shorty” author…] ELMORE […Leonard]; and [“Word Freak” author…] STEFAN […Fatsis] (a terrific read for Scrabble-lovers and/or even vaguely competitive wordies); and you, the seriously multi-talented, multiple award-winning [Actress Julie…] DELPY […, star and co-writer of “Before Midnight”].

panama-hat-teddy-rooseveltWe get more specific, image-making and/or recollection-evoking fill-and-clues by way of TOO FAR [Not within walking distance, say], RAY-BAN [Big name in sunglasses], POP-UP AD [Annoying online flasher] (cute clue), FEUDAL [Of serfs and lords], FELT SAD [Was blue], CINDER [Fire sign?] (because neither ARIES nor LEO nor SAGITTARIUS would fit), Bach’s CANTATAS and T.R.’s PANAMA hat.

And there’s some internal glue to be found with two different clue-fill pairings. The first is [Clown around] and JEST in connection with EEEE and a clown’s [Extra-wide shoe designation]; the second [Like polyester leisure suits, today] and RETRO, and ORLON which, like polyester, is another [Wrinkle-resistant fabric]. Some fine ol’ retro polyester and orlon men’s wear here. Halloween’s comin’. This just might inspire you!

Finally, to go out on a high note (so to speak), lest you thought all Bach cantatas were serious, sacred compositions, enjoy a movement from his “Coffee Cantata,” about a plucky young woman who loves her cuppa joe and has to figure out how to keep it in her life, despite her apparent promise to forgo it. In this light-hearted aria (#9 on the playlist), “Lieschen thanks her father for offering to find her a husband, and vows to give up coffee if she can have a lover instead (Wikipedia).”

C.C. Burnikel and Steve Marron’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 10 21 14

LA Times crossword solution, 10 21 14

I saw what the theme was spelling out but wasn’t expecting the final theme answer:

  • 17a. [Scout’s motto], BE PREPARED.
  • 36a. [Actress who is Dakota’s sister], ELLE FANNING.
  • 43a. [Japanese ritual including an iron pot], TEA CEREMONY.
  • “Be Elle tea” suggests a BLT, but 66a. [Holders of the sandwich homophonically described by the first words of 17-, 36- and 43-Across], TOOTHPICKS?? It’s an unusual revealer, a total left turn.

I downloaded the Jonesin’ and LAT puzzles this morning and though I chose to start with the LAT, once I began solving I forgot it wasn’t the Jonesin’ and marveled at how easy the clues were, wondering if perhaps I had become uncommonly brilliant. Nope, they’re just easy Tuesday LAT clues, that’s all.

Bonuses: Stacked pairs of 10-letter Downs for the heck of it, bringing the 40-year-old HELLO KITTY, LAKE GENEVA, TAKE A STAND, and TRIAL OFFER. All lovely fill, not a single overly affixed REASSESSED among them.

MAZES on a restaurant kids’ place mat was a great 1-Across. Fun word, uncommon letter in it, super-easy way to break into the puzzle. Perfect sort of thing for an easy crossword.

Three more things:

  • 50a. [Bela’s “Son of Frankenstein” role], YGOR. Perhaps the toughest answer in the puzzle, given the odd spelling. Straightforward crossings for all four letters, though.
  • Crossword Country towns abound! ELKO and ENID are probably places that a great many Americans have never heard of outside of crosswords. 19a. [Nevada city on the Humboldt River] and 44d. [Oklahoma city], respectively.
  • 46d. [Tulsa-to-Topeka direction], NORTH?!? This might be the first time I’ve seen a “place-to-place direction” clue that doesn’t have an answer in the ENE, ESE, SSE, SSW, NNW, NNE, WNW, WSW vein. I like to be surprised in easy puzzles.

3.75 stars from me. TOOTHPICKS was weird but HELLO KITTY and friends elevated the puzzle.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Hue Know It”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 10 21 14 "Hue Know It"

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 10 21 14 “Hue Know It”

Phrases that include words that are also colors get redefined playfully:

  • 20a. [The color of really short grass on a course?], PUTTING GREEN. Good one.
  • 27a. [The color of burnt hot dogs?], FRANK BLACK. Guy from the Pixies, plus the name of Lance Henriksen’s character on Chris Carter’s Millennium series.
  • 51a. [The color under your eyelids when you’re lost in thought?], DEEP PURPLE. Deep Purple was a ’70s hard rock band. You’ll probably recognize “Smoke on the Water” from the opening sounds.
  • 57a. [With 62-Across, the color of multiple leather-bound volumes?], ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN. This one is so, so perfect for me because (a) I loved Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and (b) my family had the 1972 World Book Encyclopedia with the brown-and-off-white color scheme.


africaThree things:

  • 22a. Continent with the most nations], AFRICA. Have you seen the map illustration that demonstrates just how gigantic that continent is? It makes the people who conflate, say, Namibia or Rwanda with Sierra Leone and Liberia look like absolute fools.
  • 59d. [Prefix with fall], PRAT. Pratfall is a word, but is “prat” properly described as a prefix here? I think this is just a compound word. Butterfly doesn’t have a prefix, right?
  • 3d. [“___: Miami”], CSI. Canceled a couple years ago. Is it in syndicated? In a few months, CSI: Cyber will reach the airwaves.

Fun theme, though the dangling BROWN breaks thematic symmetry. 3.75 stars overall.

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Confining Confines”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.21.14: "Confining Confines"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.21.14: “Confining Confines”

Good morning everyone!

I hope you’re doing well today, and hope you had a pretty good exercise with today’s puzzle, authored by the inimitable Mr. Bob Klahn. The theme is pretty straightforward, as each of the theme answers contain the word “pen” inside of the entries. Getting those theme answers, using the puns used as clues for them, was far from a breeze. The first theme answer, and its clue, still has me at sixes and sevens. I never said I was the sharpest pencil in the box. But hey, I got the answer, and that’s what matters, right??

  • FILE SHAR{PEN}ING: (20A: [Rat-tail restoration?]) – Give me a couple of more minutes, and I’ll figure out this pun, trust me!
  • NO KID {PEN}DING: (33A: [“I’m not pregnant”]) – Sounds like something you’d hear on Maury Povich’s talk show from his guests.
  • S{PEN}T GEORGES: (40A: [Threw dollar bills around?])
  • TURKEYS HO{PE N}OT: (55A: [“Will we be dining on the bird this Thanksgiving?” answer?])

More than any puzzle, the title helped me in figuring out what to do in this grid.  Initially, I thought there would be multiple words that describe confines (e.g. pen, cage, pound) that would be hidden in the different entries.  But it turned out it was just one word that was hidden in each of the entries, with that being PEN. Again, the clues and figuring out the misleads is what cost me so much time, but I did have a pretty good feel of the grid after about 10 minutes.  Once again, my recent viewing of TVD because of my friend made ELENA a slam dunk (14A: [“The Vampire Diaries” protagonist]). Loved the clue to CAIN (16A: [Initial offer?]), and I knew RUST from the off, which made me proud (56A: [“If I rest, I ____”]).  That sounds like what my body does and feels like after sitting for five minutes. I can’t leave without saying that there’s both GOO GOO (31A: [Baby talk]) and GO GO (43D: [____ boots (knee-high ’60s fashion)]) in the grid, which means there has to be a Lady GAGA entry in the grid, right?  Well, maybe another day!  Oh, and it was great to think about James Bond again with the clue to GALORE (53A: [Blackman’s “Goldfinger” role]).  Good thing that you had Blackman in that clue instead of Honor (her first name in real life), or the resulting answer in the grid (her first name in the movie, which I’ll keep to myself) wouldn’t be received too well by too many people in the crossword world, huh?!?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ERAS (63A: [Aces’ are low]) – This might be “Baseball 101,” and my apologies if I’m telling you something that you already know, but, with the World Series getting underway today, just want to let you know how to calculate ERA – since you come across that stat all the time during a baseball game. You take the number of earned runs allowed and divide that number by innings pitched. (If, for example, a pitcher has thrown 32 and 1/3 innings pitched, you input it as 32.3333, and if a pitcher has thrown 184 and 2/3 innings, you input it as 184.666666.) After you get the resulting number, you then multiply it by nine. The resulting number is your ERA.

Thank you so much for your time, and I’ll see you on Wednesday!

Take care!


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22 Responses to Tuesday, October 21, 2014

  1. huda says:

    DUDE, I liked a lot about this puzzle–
    FRIJOLES is great (has it made many previous appearances?
    DINOSAURS and unWED made me laugh. My daughter got married 10 days ago, and at the reception, she and her new husband read a funny poem about two dinosaurs falling in love. It was perfect.
    Amy– Yay for each partner pursing their own awesomeness!

  2. Linda says:

    Absolutely loved the coffee cantata info! Could hardly put it down long enough to write this!

    • janie says:

      great to hear this, linda — thx for the feedback!


      • Linda says:

        I don’t know–something about the coffeehouse picture on the wiki page for the coffee cantata is tapping into, maybe, a former life. Or not. Maybe someone was clowning around putting that page up.

    • Brucenm says:

      Believe it or not, the year at Juilliard that I double majored in piano and conducting, I conducted a bargain basement performance of the Coffee Cantata, as a kind of final exam in a basic conducting class. A good time was had by all, but I’m not sure how much credit I can take for that.

  3. Bravo, Amy, for pointing out that ELISA could have been clued for one of the workhorse techniques in modern biochemical analysis. I’ve twice used variations on “Immunoassay linked to Rosalyn Yalow’s 1977 Nobel Prize” in puzzles directed at audiences that probably have more of a science background than your typical New York Times solver. RY’s Nobel was all the more notable because (a) at the time, relatively few of the awards were going to women (it’s getting better now, but still a long way to go); and (b) the person who would surely have shared that Prize, Solomon Berson, had died 5 years earlier (there is often what I refer to as a “Siamese Twin” effect, due to the rule that Prizes cannot be award posthumously). As for ELISA as a woman’s name, I’ve met a few examples among the many non-American students encountered in 30+ yeaars at the University of Minnesota; the majority of Shortz-era clues refer to a song title from a 1951 Broadway musical.

    Shifting gears, crossword insiders may be surprised/delighted to see DELPY appear in the answer grid to Liz Gorski’s puzzle. Let’s leave it at that, but if anyone would like additional clarification, please contact me off-blog.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      We are delighted to see DELPY in the “Crossword Nation” puzzle. A well-regarded actress with two (shared) screenplay Oscar nominations? At the core of a well-known 20-year Linklater trilogy of films? An actress who has also directed films about five times? Distinguished and worthy of crosswords. More, please.

      • bananarchy says:

        Yes!! Just watched the Linklater trilogy for the first time over the past week or two. Fantastic performances.

  4. Brucenm says:

    I still think that posts to a previous day don’t get looked at much, but I really would be curious if anyone has any reaction to my post about yesterday’s BEQ in the Monday comments, especially my question about duplications.

  5. Gareth says:

    Here’s hoping that the GONERS clue was a reference to one of the greatest sitcoms of all time! (Nowhere near enough context, but that was the best example I could find quickly of Private Frazier’s “We’re doomed… Doomed!”)

  6. Papa John says:

    I think protocol discourages comments about yesterday’s puzzles, but I gotta ask: What are the numbers in parentheses following some of the clues in BEQ’s puzzle all about?

    • Brucenm says:

      I wondered about that too.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Most likely just an artifact of exporting from the constructing program and having extraneous code added. I’ve seen it happen before and it’s annoying.

        • Papa John says:


          I recall some puzzles where those numbers appeared in every clue. I think they correspond to the number of letters in the fill.

  7. Brucenm says:

    I agree with a point that I think Amy made implicitly: It is almost impossible to assign a rating to this week’s puzzles without knowing where they are going. They seem a bit pointless and random, but obviously, they are not — almost by definition (of a “meta”.)

  8. pannonica says:

    Jonesin’: Had the very same thought about ‘PRAT-as-prefix’.

  9. Jan Hunt says:

    Hi Amy,

    Did you ever comprehend 20A (“Rat-tail restoration”)? It’s the only one we still don;t understand.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hi, Jan. I didn’t do the puzzle, but I Googled rat tail file and learned that a round file is a tool also called a rat-tail file. I don’t know how one would sharpen a file, but I gather that doing so might restore a file’s functionality? Let’s Google that. No, apparently one uses a rat-tail file to sharpen a chain saw blade. You and Ade and I can’t be the only ones with zero awareness of such things!

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