Thursday, October 30, 2014

NYT 5:40 (Amy) 
Fireball 5:20 (Amy) 
LAT 5:15 (Gareth) 
CS 13:44 (Ade) 
BEQ untimed (Matt) 

Are you one of those solvers who skips the Monday to Wednesday puzzles because they’re too easy and your interest only picks up when a tricky Thursday puzzle rolls around? If you’re not an AV Club crossword subscriber, drop a dollar on Caleb Madison’s “Spirituals” puzzle this week—you won’t regret it! It’s currently got an average rating of 4.64 stars (that’s 20 5-star ratings and eight in the 3- to 4.5-star range).

David Woolf’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 30 14, no. 1030

NY Times crossword solution, 10 30 14, no. 1030

We’ve got a CHIP rebus puzzle today:

  • 16a. [Entertainers with something to get off their chests?], {CHIP}PENDALES DANCERS / 16d. [Tribe of the Upper Midwest], {CHIP}PEWA.
  • 23a. [Wise one?], POTATO {CHIP} / 26d. [Nonhuman singer of a 1958 #1 song], {CHIP}MUNK. Wise is really not a prominent brand of chips in Chicagoland.
  • 29a. [Contribute], {CHIP} IN / 29d. [Fast-food chain named after a spice], {CHIP}OTLE. I don’t know that I call hot peppers “spices,” not unless they’ve been dried and pulverized.
  • 42a. [The Bahamas, e.g.], AR{CHIP}ELAGO / 44d. [They may be made with pitching wedges], {CHIP} SHOTS.
  • 56a. [Treat represented visually by this puzzle’s answer], CHOCOLATE {CHIP} COOKIE / 59d. [Upbeat], {CHIP}PER. Are the {CHIP} rebus squares the visual thing here (and is it a ripoff to have a cookie this big with only five chips visible?), or are the black squares supposed to represent chocolate chips instead of, or in addition to? Unclear to me.

The most important thing about this puzzle is that it provides an opportunity to discuss the best way of making chocolate chip cookies, per NPR and science. Put me solidly in the camp of melted butter, chilled dough, baked at 360°. I want ’em crispy and well-tanned. If you like cakier or chewier cookies, they’ll tell you what ingredient tweaks will get those results.

Now. Back to the puzzle, with six more things:

  • 32a. [John McCain, for one], ARIZONIAN. What? I’ve always seen Arizonan, with just one I. I actually erased the answer I was filling in when I saw that it was one square too long for ARIZONAN.
  • 19a. [Funeral masses], PYRES. Kind of a gross and morbid clue. Funeral masses are Catholic services for the departed, not combustible corpse-burning piles. Tacky play on a very familiar term with a very specific meaning in Catholicism.
  • 37a. [French woman’s name meaning “bringer of victory”], VERONIQUE. My first guess was Nicolette, also thinking of the Greek goddess Nike.
  • 3d. [Major figure in space?], URSA. Ripoff! I wanted Bowie’s TOM.
  • 12d. [Mideast chieftains: Var.], EMEERS. A dreaded “Var.” tag! There are insect parts in this cookie. (See also: 15d. [Qom resident, e.g.], IRANI. I keep waiting for the media to call Iranians IRANIs but they keep hewing to actual usage and avoiding IRANI altogether. Mouse dropping in my cookie!) {Note: My objections have nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with the quality of the crossword fill.}
  • 17d. [Writer John who was an authority on cards], SCARNE. All crossings for me—never heard of the guy.

3.25 stars from me.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 78”

Fireball crossword solution, 10 30 14 "Themeless 78"

Fireball crossword solution, 10 30 14 “Themeless 78”

Briefly, because headache and because bedtime:

Favorite fill includes “MY BOLOGNA,” LAURA BUSH, ST. THERESE, ATOM EGOYAN, eely SARGASSO SEA, ANATHEMA, friendly CAMARADERIE, classical PERICLES, and a HERSHEY BAR that Europeans can’t stand.

Five more:

  • 1a. [Setting of the oldest university in Spain (founded in 1218)], SALAMANCA. Peter couldn’t wait four years for the 800th anniversary to use this entry?
  • 19a. [Business end of a fly swatter], MESH. Everything needs a business end.
  • 42a. [NaNoWriMo follower], DEC. That’s National Novel Writing Month. There’s also NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, as if it is difficult to post to a blog every day for a month.
  • 47a. [1957 film set on Parris Island], THE D.I. Drill instructor. Parris Island, home of Marines boot camp.
  • 22d. [Name of Michael’s penis in the Judy Blume book “Forever …”], RALPH. Now, there’s a fresh RALPH clue.

Four stars, over and out.

Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Wedding Announcement” — Matt’s review


A modern twist on the amusing-hyphenated-surnames-if-these-two-married theme idea: it’s all ladies at these weddings. Namely:

21-A [“May I introduce the lovely couple: actress Melissa Joan and singer Bonnie!”] = HART RAITT. Heart rate.

35-A [“… actress Olivia and writer Joyce Carol!”] = WILDE OATES. Wild oats.

41-A [“… actress Ling and comic Amy!”] = BAI POEHLER. Bi-polar. Good one.

53-A [“… actresses Ashley and Susan!”] = GREENE DEY. Green Day. Do I know who Ashley Greene is? I’ll look her up. She was in the Twilight movies.


*** Mistakes right off the bat: Put in SCAR for [Make a permanent mark] at 1-D, then for C???? clued as [Nepal neighbor] it had to be CHINA. Except the correct answers were ETCH and TIBET. Though the clue is a bit dodgy since Tibet isn’t a sovereign nation and Nepal is, so it’d be like cluing [U.S. neighbor] to the answer ALBERTA.

*** Further mistakes: GOOP instead of GLOP at 53-D for [Unappealing lunch counter serving] and DOMO instead of the correct SUMO for [It’s big in Japan] at 13-D, since I believe the word for big in Japanese is domo, as in “domo arigato” or “major domo.” Let me look and see if that’s correct. Not really — domo is one of those words that has a lot of meanings, one of which is “very much,” while “major domo” comes from Latin.

***I also missed the letter in box 11, where the Across is the unhelpful-to-me [Zooey’s role on “New Girl”] and the down is [Banned lawn game that involved throwing pointed missiles]. Those were ?ESS and ?ARTS, so I put the D in because Lawn Darts and DESS could be a name. But it was JESS and something called JARTS.


4.10 stars.

Jerry Edelstein’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 141030

LA Times

I’ve seen a few “hide European capitals across two words” themes. Today we have CAPITAL/LETTERS – and capitals (not just European) can be anagrammed of the last word of the theme answers: LIMA in EXPRESSMAIL, TUNIS in ARMYUNITS, ROME in SAYNOMORE, and PARIS in WORKINPAIRS. The WORKINPAIRS fad was just starting to creep in to our schools as I was finishing up – nice entry though. There aren’t too many more familiar capitals that lend themselves to anagramming… PUBICLOUSE? TOLLPLAZA? MARTINLANDAU? DETACHEDRETINA? FLYINGSOLO?

Other bits and pieces:

  • MAME can “coax the blues right out of the horn”, and many other feats. A ripe song for clue-writing!
  • MELINA/MARIEL are both odd names, and both actresses – seems like a poor crossing to me, although I guessed correctly.
  • URL = Universal Resource LOCATOR, a dumb abbr. if ever there was one.
  • KOA, why is this always the camping chain and never the acacia species?
  • [Bird that’s probably not wise and certainly not old], OWLET. Clue is wrong – and owlet can be a young owl, but is usual a small species of owl…
  • Two partials today TESTA and TOTWO – but they made pretty big clunk sounds as they were typed into the grid…

3.5 Stars for the theme, but a surprisingly clunky grid. 2.75 Stars.

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hard Cases”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.30.14: "Hard Cases"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.30.14: “Hard Cases”

Hello there, everyone!

Finally just flew (trained it) back into New York from Charlotte, and boy are my arms tired! (Well, they actually aren’t, unless I was flapping my wings inside of an Amtrak.) Well, anyways, back to crossword solving, and in today’s puzzle, authored by Mr. Tony Orbach, we have a fairly straightforward theme with celebrities making up the theme answers, but the clues are puns playing off their last name, which also happens to be a solid material.

  • NATALIE WOOD: (17A: [“Rebel Without a Cause” actress who’s a hard case?])
  • OLIVER STONE: (29A: [“Platoon” director who’s a hard case?])
  • MINNIE PEARL: (48A: [Grand Ole Opry fixture who’s a hard case?])
  • PHILIP GLASS: (64A: [“The Hours” score composer who’s a hard case?])

From the four theme answers, three of them I got without any crosses (the first three), and once NATALIE WOOD was in, then the theme was pretty straightforward. Wasn’t sure if there was going to be any wordplay with the last names, or whether it was going to be straightforward. Everything was smooth until the bottom of the grid, when ESCHER wasn’t coming to me at all (49D: [Dutch engraver known for mind-bending art]) and Julia Child wasn’t immediately popping into my head for STREEP (41D: [Child actress]). Also, thinking that the clue to CRATE was going to end in “s” didn’t help me figure out how to untangle things in that area at all (58A: [Denlike digs for a dog]). By the way, dogs hang out – or are known to hang/have hung out – inside of crates?? Hmmm. Oh, well. Streep finally came to my mind, which put to bed the thought that one of the crossings had to be plural (crate). Other than wrestling that at the bottom, it was a good, smooth solve. I get food worms/pangs just as much as ear worms when solving puzzles, so the chances of me buying glazed donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts BY THE DOZEN in the next couple of days is very high (3D: [Way to buy doughnuts]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TIM (44D: [Tug McGraw’s singing son]) – What I knew about the late Tug McGraw was that he was a former relief pitcher/closer who coined the famous sports phrase “Ya Gotta Believe” during the New York Mets’ magical run in reaching the 1973 World Series and was the rock at the end of ball games for the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies team that won the Series, its first in the city of Philadelphia. What I also knew about Tug, though it took me solving this crossword to remember it again, is that he’s the father of the country music star, Tim McGraw. So consider this as opportunity for myself to learn something (again) while still giving you a couple of sports factoids.

Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you on Friday!

Take care!


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16 Responses to Thursday, October 30, 2014

  1. Brucenm says:

    I enjoyed the chocolate chip puzzle. But it’s one of the many foods I’m trying to eschew rather than chew.

    Amy, I had considered offering the same nit re “chipotle” — that I did not think “chipotle” is a “spice”, any more than “Anaheim” or “poblano.” But then I thought about it. A chipotle [pepper] *is* a ripe jalapeño which has been smoked and dried. So I decided that this sounds pretty much like a spice, (at least once you grind it up), so I guess the clue is OK.

    • pannonica says:

      Agreed. Analogous to paprika, though slightly more expansive.

    • Brucenm says:

      Does anyone consider it a slight nit that a potato chip is an actual chip, whereas the other chips are parts of words? (Well, maybe “chip shot” is on the border.)

      • sbmanion says:


        Please do not say anything remotely bad about CHIP SHOTS. It is a rarity that a golf clue/answer does not cause the golfing fraternity to go apoplectic.

        Fun puzzle today.


  2. Dook says:

    Help! All of a sudden, Across Lite either downloads without the “check” function available (not so important) OR with the “check” function becoming automatic (VERY annoying). This means that when I type in an incorrect letter, an X marks the spot automatically. In the settings, there is a way to turn off this feature, but it doesn’t work. Any ideas???

    • pannonica says:

      Uninstall, reinstall?

      • huda says:

        Yes this is an option in the settings. On my version of Acrosslite, in the bar on top, there is a tool set symbol on the extreme right, with “preferences” written under it. If you pull down that menu, you can turn off “Automatic Solution Checking”.
        Solution Checking is then only available manually under the check symbol (unless it’s blocked as was the case for the last day of the meta puzzle series).

    • Matt says:

      Try either reinstalling or just deleting the preferences (if you can find them). Deleting preferences works because when the program discovers the preferences are missing, it just recreates them with the default settings.

  3. Gary R says:

    I had exactly the same experience as Amy with ARIZONIAN.

    Also, I badly wanted “Dominique” for 37A. The root seemed so perfect that I even stuck with Domonique for a while after filling in OPPOSE, thinking there was an alternate spelling. Had not heard of SCARNE, and AVOCET is only vaguely familiar from doing crosswords, so that section of the puzzle was a struggle for me.

  4. Matt says:

    John SCARNE was pretty famous, back in the ’50s. He was a professional magician and card-manipulator, wrote several books about card games and gambling and was a recognized authority on computing the odds of various casino games. I got my first lessons in probability from his books.

    • sbmanion says:


      I read Scarne’s Complete Guide to Gambling and his Encyclopedia of Card Games when I was 12. I had a great memory then and remember memorizing the rules of virtually every card game, even Klabberjass, which caused much consternation when it appeared in an NYT puzzle a few months ago. I remember him calculating the truly astronomical odds against a bingo coverall in less than 50 numbers. Even less likely than finding Boardwalk in your Big Mac.


  5. Brucenm says:

    Also a great fan of John Scarne in my youth; played belotte, (essentially indistinguishable from klabberjass), incessantly when I lived in France as a child.

    But I’ve never heard of most of those people in the BEQ, which otherwise would have been a more enjoyable puzzle. One crossing, e.g. I went with ‘Bei’ and ‘Jones’; and other places were just as unfathomable.

  6. Avg Solvr says:

    Thought a lot of the cluing in the NYT was very good. Hadn’t done a rebus like this in quite a while so it threw me for a bit. Enjoyable puzzle.

  7. CY Hollander says:

    32a. [John McCain, for one], ARIZONIAN. What? I’ve always seen Arizonan, with just one I. I actually erased the answer I was filling in when I saw that it was one square too long for ARIZONAN.

    Thank you! I was so sure about Arizonan that I decided it must be Arizona A_ and started racking my brain for what the last two letters could mean. In fact, I had almost convinced myself that AS must be some obscure abbreviation for “American Senator” and was about to check the answer when it hit me that I was being a moron and it was ARAZONIAN.

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