Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AV Club 5:19 (Amy)  
NYT 3:51 (Amy) 
LAT 3:20 (Gareth) 
CS 12:11 (Ade) 

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 22 14, no. 1022

NY Times crossword solution, 10 22 14, no. 1022

Day three of the contest puzzles, and thus far I have no idea what will feed into the meta. Clearly there is room for extra stuff in the grid, with the theme again not taking up that much real estate.

The black squares make a sort of jack-o’-lantern face.

  • 17a. [Words to a baby], PEEKABOO, I SEE YOU.
  • 32a, 33a. [With 33-Across, meeting with someone in person], FACE TIME.
  • 59a. [007 film of 1981], FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

All I can think of now, unfortunately, is the Billy Idol song “Eyes Without a Face.” Now, why YouTube chose to show me a Pampers ad before watching an atmospheric ’80s video featuring sneer and guyliner, I can’t say.

In the middle row, UNCURL and SCROLL go together well, don’t they?

Whatever meta business is in this puzzle, it had better be good to make up for AGIN ILER ARTE AFTA ECLAT. Fancy to have CARL ORFF‘s full name, though, and LANCELOT, KUNG FU, and GO “PFFT.” And the chemistry trio of OXYGEN, DIOXIDE, and OZONE are interesting, though the OX- bit is duplicated.

61d. [Ambient music composer Brian] ENO recently shared his recommended reading list of 20 books he deems essential for sustaining civilization. Dude includes The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe, which I have to think is largely useless for the billions of people who live in the rest of the world.

Random 3.66 stars, not knowing where this is all going.

Brendan Quigley’s American Values Club crossword, “As Above, So Below”

AV Club  crossword solution, 10 22 14 "As Above, So Below"

AV Club crossword solution, 10 22 14 “As Above, So Below”

Three phrases get an AS snuck into their midst, and the phrases below them get a SO wedged in, changing the meanings entirely:

  • 11a. [Protein-rich alternative to the patch?], TOBACCO CASHEW. “Tobacco chew” doesn’t feel in-the-language to me but then I am an inveterate tobacco avoider so what do I know? Not sure how a “tobacco cashew” would be formed botanically.
  • 15a. [Dance of the woodlouse?], ISOPOD SHUFFLE. Little roly-poly bugs/pill bugs (other names for the woodlouse) are isopods, but so are the giant isopods that live in the sea. Please do familiarize yourself with them! They can reach 2.5 feet in length.
  • 35a. [Dog in need of shampooing?], GREASY HOUND.
  • 39a. [Drove a Phillips-head into a bowl of borscht?], SCREWED SOUP. Now, you can stick a screwdriver into soup, but soup just doesn’t have the consistency to be screwed.
  • 61a. [Palestinian-Genevan alliance?], HAMAS AND SWISS.
  • 65a. [Skiing surface slapped on?], CURSORY POWDER. Mmm, curry powder.

The title has philosophical/theological meanings that were unknown to me. Irrelevant to the theme format, though. I was disappointed to see that only the last AS/SO pair were placed directly above and below. Would rather have had all three pairs staggered than two staggered, one precise.

13×18 is an unusual grid size. I’m so appreciative of the AV Club and Fireball puzzles for allowing odd sizes so that theme ideas that aren’t suitable for a 15×15 approach can still see the light of day.

Five things:

  • 27a. [It’s hard work], MOIL. Most of us tried TOIL first, right? Hardly anyone uses MOIL.
  • 67a. [Q: How many ___ agents does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Please remove your pants.], TSA. Hah!
  • 22d. [Intuitively reasonable but rarely actually used name for an online publication], EMAG. If you have to include a dreadful e-word, own its dreadfulness.
  • 34d. [The sperm stops here, briefly], IUD. No, incorrect. IUDs let sperm swim on by, unlike barrier methods such as the diaphragm or condom. IUDs just make the uterus inhospitable to any fertilized eggs that may drop by.
  • 40d. [Bone linked to the anconeus muscle], ULNA. Whoa, an ULNA clue I haven’t seen before! With a muscle I didn’t know existed.

3.85 stars from me.

Jerome Gunderson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review


[Species of falcon also called an American kestrel] is just poor on many counts. SPARROWHAWKs are any of several hawks of genus Accipiter. It seems that some Americans do erroneously call the American Kestrel a sparrowhawk. Why reinforce that? It’s like clueing BEAR referring to KOALAs… Back to the main topic: it’s an oddball theme. WARANDPEACE are represented by “types” of DOVE (TURTLEDOVE) and HAWK. The theme is padded out by including LEOTOLSTOY, the author of WARANDPEACE.

The theme is sparse, and the fill is mostly pretty conservative. [Knight crew?] had me very puzzled: THEPIPS was not what I was expecting! The other big splashy answer was [Post-workout relaxation spot], STEAMBATH. Like I said pretty conservative, but pretty darn clean as well: WIRER/SRS is about it when it comes to the dicey stuff!

One more clueing issue: [Snoop’s former “surname”], DOGG – not sure that it’s really that former…

3.5 Stars

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Button Down”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.22.14: "Button Down"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.22.14: “Button Down”

Welcome to Hump Day everybody!

We have a clever little theme with today’s grid, which was brought to us by Ms. Sarah Keller.  Each of the three answers are two-word answers in which the first word can precede the word “button.”  Also, the themes are going down in the grid, making the title of the grid all the more slick.

  • SEARCH PARTY: (3D: [Posse, e.g.]) – Deciding if I should guess how many times I’m going to click on a search button today during work.
  • CAMPAIGN PROMISE: (7D: [It may be broken after Election Day]) – The new broken campaign promise season starts in 13 days then!
  • BELLY DANCER: (26D: [Sinuous Mideast entertainer])

It’s been a long while since I’ve come across SPOOR, either in a grid or in real life in general (59A: [Animal track]). Some shout outs to musicians are in the grid, with FOSSE (1A: [“All That Jazz” director Bob]) and EFREM (10D: [Violinist Zimbalist]). First typed in “aisle” instead of ADULT once I had the “A” and “L” in place, so that cost me some time (64A: [Movie ticket category]).  For every time I see EDAM in a grid, I have to keep a running count of how many times I’ve seen the word without ever tasting the cheese (48A: [Wax-coated cheese]).  I don’t know the official count, but let’s just start the count at 65.  So the next time I see EDAM, I’ll mention that I’ve seen the word EDAM 66 more times than the number of times that I’ve eaten the cheese. Am I one of the few people who have never touched, let alone owned, an IPAD (38D: [Apple touch screen tablet])?  I’m still shopping for a new or refurbished iPod – yes, iPod, not an iPad or an iPhone – for the one that I lost a year ago when I accidentally left it on a Greyhound bus.  Le sigh!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KARRAS (46A: [Alex of “Webster”]) – It’s something that Alex KARRAS is remembered almost more for his career off the football field than on the field, because he was a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions and a member of the 1960s NFL All-Decade team. Not only did he play the dad in “Webster,” but he also played the hulking goon Mongo in the movie Blazing Saddles, the character who knocked out the horse with one punch. Karras, despite his NFL success, was suspended for the 1963 NFL season, along with future NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung, for placing bets on NFL games while playing in the league.

Have a great day, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Take care!


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18 Responses to Wednesday, October 22, 2014

  1. pannonica says:

    Surely your fingers strayed, Amy, and you intended to mention George Franju’s classic horror film Les Yeux sans Visage (1960) rather than Idol’s dreckful pap?

  2. huda says:

    Greetings from London… I’m time shifted and zoned out, but I liked this puzzle waay more than others do (as reflected by ratings). The funny face and the two long theme answers alone are worth the price of admission. And I liked the nerdy Oxygen, Dioxide and Ozone combo. I don’t love all the proper nouns but I ignore myself about this issue. And that clue for SPINACH was educational!

  3. David L says:

    You’re more likely to find a Finn in a fjord than a positron in an atom, but still, that’s a pretty bizarre clue.

    My only take on these three puzzles so far is that they have had a lot of crummy three-letter fill. Generally speaking I can never suss out metas, even if they have a neon sign on them saying ‘this is the meta,’ but I’m hoping there is going to be a payoff at the end of this week…

    • ArtLvr says:

      Google and you’ll find the Norwegian smelter Finnfjordbotn, a producer of ferrosilicon (FeSi) and silica . The smelter is located in Finnfjordbotn in Lenvik, five kilometers from the city Finnsnes. Finnfjord was founded in 1983 after FESIL North went bankrupt in 1982. The company produces approximately 100,000 tons of ferrosilicon a year and is one of Europe’s largest producers of ferrosilicon, which is a prerequisite for the production of steel and various steel products. Finnfjord also supplies silica, a valuable component in modern concrete technology.

  4. Tracy B says:

    I just added GUYLINER to my word list.

    • Gareth says:

      It’s been on mine for ages… Along with MANSCARA. I think BEQ’s already used both though…

      • Tracy B says:

        Did BEQ use it in an edited indie or in a self-published puzzle? Self-published puzzles are especially unfair to compare to edited puzzles (indie or traditional) when it comes to entry novelty, IMO, as anyone can self-publish a great entry the week she thought of it and think happily “I did it first,” while the edited puzzle can take up to a year to see in print. As far as I know none of the indies or selfies are contributing their edgy debut entries to the databases I use to check the originality of my themes and entries. Didn’t PG even ask for Fireball entries to be removed from the Ginsberg database? I do spend time solving indies and selfies, but I don’t have time for all of them every week. I won’t intentionally repeat themes or ideas—no fun, satisfaction or glory in that at all—why even make puzzles if you’re gonna do that? But still, I’m not gonna lose sleep if I happen to repeat something someone did in an indie, after I’ve done my due diligence in checking the standard databases and found nothing. With all the naughty puzzles BEQ has made, odds are one of my naughtier BUST themes is going to resemble something he’s done (probably better) at some point. But I can’t/won’t devote hours going through every archived puzzle at every site worrying about it—I don’t have that kind of time. If it’s in the database constructors use as a resource, then yeah, finding out it’s been done will influence my choice to go with a theme or entry or not.

  5. Molson says:

    One error in my AV Club solve today… COHeN crossing SeLADA. Never heard of SALADA as a tea brand, and figured that SALADA would have been clued as a food rather than a drink, and COHAN is an odd spelling.

    • ArtLvr says:

      re COHAN — Most musical puzzlers are probably familiar with George M. Cohan, the Yankee Doodle Dandy of the American stage who gave his country its greatest song of the first World War.

  6. Gareth says:

    OXYGEN/DIOXIDE is something I’m stunned would be allowed to get as far as publication. It’s not like a common prefix/preposition, which is acceptable….

  7. Margaret says:

    I have an off-topic (non-crossword) question: does anyone here know who is responsible for the syndicated Cryptoquip? Not the Cryptogram, which is usually just a quote, but the CryptoQuip, which is nearly always a fantastically terrible pun. Google has failed me completely and I considered that this group might be more aware than most of a puzzle constructor’s identity.

  8. Brucenm says:

    I have an odd relationship with BEQ puzzles. If you take my ratings for all his puzzles, the result, I’m sure would be bimodal. Many very high and very low ratings. But not only that, I’m often at the opposite end of the consensus here. I’m the outlier on the high end so far today. Recently I came through with 2 stars for a puzzle that gathered mostly 4’s and 5’s. I think it must have been wall to wall rock songs I had never heard of.

    I thought the idea for today’s was great. It’s true that some of the phrases are not entirely idiomatic, and I don’t know what an Ipod Shuffle is as distinguished from a regular Ipod, but I’ve heard the expression, and I’m willing to overlook all this for a clever, creative theme. I was going to make Amy’s point that an IUD is not a physical barrier — (not that I’m an authority on such matters.)

    • Martin says:

      The IUD primarily prevents fertilization. It may also block implantation, but that is not certain. It’s an important distinction in Hobby Lobby type discussions, in which popular misconception is given the weight of fact, because religion.

  9. Dele says:

    Just a couple of minor things:

    In the CS, 9D: HOT POTATO and 35D: BACK FORTY are also theme entries.

    It looks like the current picture of today’s LAT puzzle is last Friday’s grid.

  10. Joan Macon says:

    Hmm. Gareth’s comments match the puzzle in today’s LAT, but the puzzle doesn’t! What happened??????

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