Friday, October 24, 2014

NYT 5:11 (Amy) 
LAT 5:02 (Gareth) 
CS 11:36 (Ade) 
CHE untimed (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 24 14, no. 1024

NY Times crossword solution, 10 24 14, no. 1024

Hey! Day 5 of 6 in crossword contest week, and I’m glad I wasn’t robbed of a solid themeless solving experience. I mean, sure, there’s a thematic angle in here somewhere relating to the contest, but I don’t know where it is and I’m not going to fret about it till the Saturday puzzle comes out. I hear some people have already submitted their contest answers. “Starbuck”!

Lots of good fill in this 72-worder: RED CARPET, X-RATED, SYFY, T.S. ELIOT, theater TROUPES like the one Patrick Blindauer performed in this month, UZO Aduba of Orange Is the New Black (see her Funny or Die video), LET IT GO (betcha $5 Patrick clued this as the Frozen hit), GIN JOINTS, PEONY crossing AZALEA in floral corner, “IT’S A BLAST,” ORG CHART, ADAM BEDE, SPIDEY-sense, PAMPLONA, WONTON, and GANJA.

How do you feel about 8d. [People with signs at airports, e.g.], MEETERS? Airport greeters out-Googles airport meeters, but many of those airport meeters hits are specifically about “meeters and greeters” so I reckon it’s solid. Gotta put that on my bucket list—to head down to baggage claim and see someone holding a sign with my name on it and ready to escort me to my limousine.

Solid fill, fairly standard Friday-level cluing, no visible compromises made on behalf of whatever the meta is. Four stars.

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Strip Tease”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.24.14: "Strip Tease"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.24.14: “Strip Tease”

TGIF, everybody!  Hope you all will have a great Friday today.

The end of the week provides a very tasty puzzle from Ms. Lynn Lempel.  There are five theme entries, and each theme is a multiple-word entry in which the first part(s) of the entry can precede the word “strip.” 

  • COMIC RELIEF: (17A: [Drama’s tension reducer])
  • FILM SPEED: (23A: [Indicator of light sensitivity, to a photographer]) – As a person with a little bit of a photo background, this was an amazing clue to see, and even more amazing to answer this without any crossings.
  • SUNSET PROVISION: (40A: [Clause that states a law’s expiration date]) – Now for this clue, I needed a few crossings to suss this one out.
  • DRAG QUEEN: (53A: [“Kinky Boots” or “The Birdcage” role]) – How many times have I seen a billboard or advertisement of “Kinky Boots” while walking around in New York City?  Umm, let’s say a few times!
  • *NEW YORK METS: (63A: [Team with which Yogi Berra and Willie Mays both ended their playing careers]) – *See “Sports…smarter” moment of the day.

Some of the entries that stood out for me today included KOSOVO (32A: [Balkan country that declared its independence in 2008]), PIGHEADED (37A: [Utterly obstinate]) and MADELINE (3D: [Small French cake immortalized by Proust]).  It was frustrating that BRENDA didn’t come to me quickly, though I had the image of her and the comic strip in my mind throughout (14A: [Reporter Starr in the funnies]).  Umm, and how did I not know and/or remember that there was an OPERA dedicated to Jerry Springer (51D: [One about Jerry Springer debuted in 2003])??  I’m sure I heard of it then, but it totally was out of my mind until today!  I’m trying to resist from looking it up on YouTube now, but I have a feeling that resistance will be futile.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NEW YORK METS (63A: [Team with which Yogi Berra and Willie Mays both ended their playing careers]) – What do Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Yogi Berra all have in common, outside of being Hall-of-Fame Baseball players?  All of them started AND ended their playing careers in the same city, but with different franchises. Ruth (Boston Red Sox-Boston Braves), Aaron (Milwaukee Braves-Milwaukee Brewers), Mays (New York Giants-New York Mets) and Berra (New York Yankees-New York Mets) all pulled off this sporting peculiarity.

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

Take care!


Bruce Haight’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 141024

LA Times 141024

The puns today belong to that odd subgenre where, for the phrases to make sense, they have to live in a sort of twilight zone between the new and the old phrase. They’re quite common in kids jokes, but less so in crosswords. For example, in MAGNUMDOPUS, DOPUS is not to my knowledge a meaningful word for an idiot, in Latin or English, but it implies DOPE and still I think works and is funny. It’s odd. I guess it’s because DOGLATIN is a thing. If you didn’t get the theme, the letters DMTDS are added to well-known Latin phrases (given that Latin phrases are slowly retreating from our lexicons as Latin is no longer taught in schools and is less omnipresent in academia.) Wackiness is a bit of an elusive butterfly in crosswords, but I found these delightful, even though, as discussed previously, if you try to dissect the answers, they actually kind of fall flat. Anyhoo, we have:

  • [Latin for “big idiot”?], MAGNUMDOPUS
  • [Latin for “holding a grudge for a long, long time”?], MADINFINITUM
  • [Latin for “fighting over parking spots is not allowed”?], NOLOTCONTENDERE
  • [Latin for “cheating on one’s timecard”?], TEMPUSFUDGIT. Maybe Patrick Blindauer and Will Shortz have sneakily hidden part of the meta in the LA Times! Who knows!
  • [Latin for “fish trading”?], SQUIDPROQUO. Well, someone dropped the ball big time in the clue here. SQUID and “fish” are so very, very far apart taxonomically. May as well clue SNAIL as “Type of reptile”.

Other stuff:

  • [Critters who worshiped C-3PO as a god], EWOKS.. Perfect way to open the puzzle!
  • [Penicillin precursor], SULFA. I still use potentiated sulphonamides on a daily basis. Cheap, effective(-ish).
  • [Steam table fuel], STERNO. I’ve personally never heard of this outside of crosswords, but it seems more than legit as an answer.
  • [Owl, at times], HOOTER. No idea why you’d go with such a contrived clue when you can just use [Traffic jam sound] or similar. Ugh.
  • [“See ya!”], IMOUTAHERE. What!? Since when is it ever spelled with one ‘t’. In quotes, in googles 658,000 to 11,600,00 for two t’s. So it exists, I guess.
  • [Vinyl spinners], LPS. You put down DJS first, didn’t you!
  • [Extinct Mauritian birds, DODOS. Apparently a lot of people think these are from New Zealand for some reason?!

Beautiful theme, with a few awkward bits. 4.25 Stars

Byron Walden’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Military Duds” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 10/24/14 • "Military Duds" • Walden • solution

CHE • 10/24/14 • “Military Duds” • Walden • solution

This crossword provides us with some niche (see 27d) trivia. Eponymous haberdashery relating to the CHARGE OF THE | LIGHT BRIGADE44a/54a [ … action referred to in the clues for 20, 27 and 35 Across].

  • 20a. [Item of clothing named for the site of a disastrous British military action of 10/25/1854] BALACLAVA CAP. Seems superfluous to include cap, but the tyranny of symmetry is not to be defied.
  • 27a. [Item of clothing named for the commander in chief who ordered the action of 10/25/14] RAGLAN SHIRT. Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan. The garment itself dates back some forty years previous, when he lost his right arm during the Battle of Waterloo.
  • 35a. [Item of clothing named for the major general who led the action of 10/25/14] CARDIGAN SWEATER. Lieutenant General James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan. “It is modelled after the knitted wool waistcoat that British officers supposedly wore during the war. The legend of the event and the fame that Brudenell achieved after the war led to the rise of the garment’s popularity.” (Wikipedia, citing in part the wonderfully titled The Homicidal Earl: The Life of Lord Cardigan.)

We get duds as clothing, and also as the ill-fated (for the British) action during the Crimean War. Makes me think of muffti [sic]. I like the theme—for which the Chronicle of Higher Education is likely the only viable outlet, and for that I’m glad—but wonder if it was perhaps too much content for the grid. There is a surfeit of subpar fill: IT TO, GO HOG, A-STARS, PIBB, EVIE, ENE, TPED, and more, including a host of crosswordese classics.

  • Fun long non-theme answers: DO BATTLE and IN CRISIS (which seem to provide theme commentary, as do the CLODS (63a) of earth kicked up by the horses), BRAIN STEM and the full-location APIA, SAMOA (crossing AFFOGATO by the way!).


    Couldn’t find any images of TAMARINS dressed in military uniform.

  • Favorite clue: 11d [Kite or turtle lead-in] BOX. Most circumlocutory clue: 38d [Comet co-discoverer who shares his name with a father-and-son acting pair] ALAN HALE, bopp!
  • 25d [“Here __ the lesson”] ENDETH. Language from the Book of Common Prayer.
  • 56d [It offers radio programming in eight aboriginal languages] CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but I was thinking it might be an uncommon clue for ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
  • For CHRIS and TOM (56a, 13d), did we really need two politician clues? Connecticut senator Dodd and Bush administration “Homeland Security” guy Ridge?

Good puzzle, interesting and enlightening  theme, but dragged down by a relative abundance of lesser fill.

Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “United Nations Day” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/24/14 • "United Nations Day" • Fri • Gale, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 10/24/14 • “United Nations Day” • Fri • Gale, Shenk • solution

The title essentially explains it all. Well, except how it relates to the crossword, beyond the date. But that aspect should be readily evident to nearly all solvers—insert the bigram UN into familiar phrases for novel results.

  • 23a. [Chess, if Bobby Fischer is your opponent?] THE DAUNTING GAME (The Dating Game). Also, the HAUNTING GAME, as he died in 2007.
  • 33a. [Roman officials in need of directions?] LOST TRIBUNES (lost tribes—should that be capitalized?).
  • 54a. [Destroyer of an ocean inlet?] SOUNDBUSTER (sodbuster).
  • 61a. [Segment of an angling contest] FISHING ROUND (fishing rod). Segment, angle … crossing my geometry wires there.
  • 79a. [Silverware item that can be adjusted musically?] TUNABLE SPOON (tablespoon). But … fork. Oh well.
  • 84a. [Derisive kids?] TAUNTER TOTS (tater tots—is that trademarked?). My favorite themer here.
  • 100a. [Kin of a jumpy jumper?] NERVOUS TUNIC (nervous tic). Second-favorite theme answer, favorite theme clue.
  • 117a. [Favorite things for a newlywed hunter?] BRIDE AND GUN ROOM (bride and groom).

 Solid theme with some nice, unexpected alterations.

  • Serta Crib PadMost evocative clue: 58a [Model for a cuckoo clock weight] PINE CONE. I had to pause for a moment to visualize it. Had I been speed-solving I would have immediately moved on and waited for crossings to facilitate a no-think fill.
  • Lots of lively fill throughout the grid. Entries such as GOULASH, SANTERÍA, ANTIPROTON, ANTENNAE, COUPLETS, RIMSHOT, and so on.
  • 8d/46a [Home, informally] CRIB, PAD. 106d [Perfect Sleeper maker] SERTA.
  • Was fooled by the misdirection in 105a [Carnation’s cousins] and cast about for a flower. PINKS.
  • 13d [Act the siren] TEMPT, followed by 14d [Expression of contempt] SNEERTempt and contempt are unrelated etymologically.

Fun, fine puzzle.

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12 Responses to Friday, October 24, 2014

  1. Martin says:

    Smooth grid, Patrick!


  2. Brucenm says:

    Not being up on my history of the rotary printing press, what does “spidey sense” mean? Something to do with the Spiderman movies?

  3. CY Hollander says:

    Very minor objection to the clue for 12 Down in the NYT: APATHY does not elicit anything, by definition. Some stimulus elicits a reaction, which apathy reduces to a shrug.

    Just a quibble, as I said. Were I the editor, I’d have changed “elicit” to “cause”.

  4. huda says:

    I thought the NYT was great, but the clue to SAUDI seemed off to me. Hajj is not so much the trip to Mecca but the set of rituals that you perform when there. Of course you have to get to Mecca to do it, but the HAJJ itself is not something you shorten. In Arabic, you say: He is gone to HAJJ, so it’s the destination and what you do there and not the process of getting there that is denoted. If you are going to pray, the prayer is not shorter just because the church is nearer. I can see how in English the trip itself is part of the meaning of pilgrimage, and it probably didn’t matter to anyone else, but it definitely threw me.

    I love SPIDEY sense, and think that people need to learn to heed it. There was actually a book written about how we don’t listen enough to our instincts in relation to a sense of threat.

    • CY Hollander says:

      I always thought of the hajj as the pilgrimage itself. That’s what this dictionary says, and it even adds that it comes from the Arabic word for “pilgrimage”. Etymonline says the same. Perhaps in modern Arabic the word has evolved?

      • huda says:

        The meaning has not drifted in Arabic, as far as I know. Classical Arabic actually maintains its meaning pretty consistently over time. I think the connotation that it acquired in European languages focused more on the journey than on the endpoint. So, I understand that the trip itself is part of the pilgrimage in European languages. That is not the primary meaning of Hajj in Arabic. The point is paying your respects to God and honoring the memory of the prophet Mohammed.
        Take a look at the sequence of rites that are expected:
        I happen to be in London staying with a friend from Damascus. I gave her the clue and the answer completely neutrally, and she had exactly the same reaction I did. Hajj is not shortened by proximity, because the rites are set and the trip is just a means to an end.
        It’s an interesting example of how a direct translation is really not necessarily faithful to the original meaning because connotations drift across languages (as opposed to the other hypothesis that it drifted within language).

        I think in general, process as an intrinsically interesting focus is a much more Western idea. The first time I ever heard of it was when I came to the US in my early 20’s– Someone said about his trip to Europe that it was more about the journey than the various endpoints, and it made no sense to me at the time. I thought it was an odd way of thinking…

  5. Martin says:


    Re: your latish comment yesterday about the BEQ. Why do you feel he doesn’t know how to pronounce “Moog”? The theme doesn’t include invariant vowels sounds. Bling vs. blind, for instance. It’s letter substitution only.

    • pannonica says:

      You’re correct. I can only assume that I was so distracted by the Moog discrepancy (after the four previous theme answers) that I missed its confrère.

      However, I didn’t say precisely what you say I said.

Comments are closed.