Wednesday, November 5, 2014

AV Club 4:23 (Amy)  
NYT 3:22 (Amy) 
LAT untimed (Doug) 
CS 11:04 (Ade) 

Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 5 14, no. 1105

NY Times crossword solution, 11 5 14, no. 1105

Gareth’s got a two-fer today, with both the NYT and LAT bylines. Congrats, buddy!

The boppy, light, fresh NYT theme is six songs with nonsensical titles:

  • 17a. [1964 hit for Manfred Mann], DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY. Very catchy. Have a listen (and enjoy watching the singer shaking his maracas).
  • 26a. [1968 song from the Beatles’ “White Album”], OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA. Wasn’t released as a single in the US until 8 years later, and didn’t crack the top 40.
  • 37a. [1965 hit for the Dixie Cups], IKO IKO. A New Orleans classic.
  • 39a. [1954 hit for the Chords] SH-BOOM. Here’s the song.
  • 46a. [1994 hit for the Crash Test Dummies], MMM MMM MMM MMM. One-hit wonder, yeah?
  • 60a. [1973 song by the Rolling Stones subtitled “Heartbreaker”], DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO. Here’s a live performance at MSG from 2003. It’s not ringing a bell for me at all.

I suspect that more recent pop songs have included plenty of nonsense words in their titles, but Gareth is an old soul musically, despite being in his 20s. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the average age of these songs is 44 years. If you want to know about American labor protest songs of the mid-20th century, Gareth knows far more about those than I do.

Answers I’m pleasantly surprised to see in a newspaper puzzle:

  • 6d. [Bollywood star Aishwarya ___], RAI. She first came to my notice when Roger Ebert described her as “not only the first but also the second most beautiful woman in the world.” Damn, I miss Roger’s writing and reviews. The previous NYT clues for RAI are dreadful. An Italian TV channel, a trumped-up name for a Thor Heyerdahl boat (he had Ra and Ra II)? Dreck.
  • 18d. [Modern acronym meaning “carpe diem”], YOLO. “You only live once,” abbreviated thus in Drake’s 2011 hit “The Motto.” Made its NYT debut in a Joel Fagliano puzzle this fall.

I like RED HAIR, MOROSE, AM RADIO, and CIALIS. Actually, that’s a lie—I don’t really like AM radio and Cialis, but they’re solid as crossword fill. Less pleased with HOR, OATER, ISMS, LAO, -IDE, ONT, OTT, DEO, and SIM (unless you clue it via, say, Sim City).

I wonder if the constructor’s original clue for 13d. STYX was a reference to the ’80s band rather than [River ferried by Charon].

3.75 stars from me.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 11/5/2014

LA Times crossword solution, 11/5/2014

Happy Double Gareth Day! So how about a baseball reference Gareth’s probably never heard: “Let’s play two!” A nice Wednesdayish theme in the LA Times: breakfast food, Caesar-style.

  • 20a. [*”The Sound of Music” heroine], MARIA VON TRAPP. When I was a kid, this movie seemed to be on TV every couple of months. I watched it in bits and pieces, but there are probably a few scenes I missed.
  • 33a. [*Common Italian restaurant feature], PIZZA OVEN. Love it.
  • 44a. [*Completely in vain], TO NO AVAIL. Not the most exciting entry, but your options are limited when you’re looking for an OAV string.
  • 44a. [Breakfast serving, and a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters], SCRAMBLED EGGS. Note the anagrammed OVAs in the theme entries. Clever. I like that Gareth didn’t simply scramble EGGs (BONDAGE GEAR?) but kicked the theme up a notch.

Gareth gave us a theme-heavy grid in today’s NY Times. (Cool puzzle, BTW.) Not as much theme in his LA Times puzzle, so he was able to fit in plenty of fun long Downs: BAR MITZVAH, BALAAM’S ASS, POSTDOC, THE MASK. Good stuff.

  • JoelRobinson5d. [“Miniver Cheevy” poet Edwin Arlington __], ROBINSON. If I was asked to make a list of famous Robinsons, this guy wouldn’t be on it. That’s not a knock on the clue. But poets are waaay outside of my wheel house. Maybe I’ll remember this guy when he shows up in a Famous Robinsons Sporcle quiz.
  • 67a. [Hockey great Phil, familiarly], ESPO. / 11d. [Nadal of tennis, familiarly], RAFA. Good old ESPO has been a grid staple for years, and RAFA‘s the new kid in crossword town. It’s fun to see him in the grid, but you’ll get sick of him soon enough. Just like those stupid ACAI berries.
  • 57d. [Sausage serving], LINK. This crosses SCRAMBLED EGGS. Now I’m hungry. And all I’ve got is a bowlful of Kit Kats left over from Halloween. Score!

Nothing much to make me frown in the fill. A partial here and an abbreviation there, but the smiley stuff drowned it out. Nice work. Peterson out.

Aimee Lucido’s American Values Club crossword, “Command Lines”

AV Club crossword solution, 11 5 14 "Command Lines"

AV Club crossword solution, 11 5 14 “Command Lines”

A classic AV Club theme, with content that we’ll likely never see in daily newspaper crosswords. Familiar and sometimes crude phrases double as commands given to dogs, as the phrases include common dog names:

  • 17a. [“Take the plane down, boy!”], “LAND, ROVER!”
  • 22a. [“Get out on the court, boy!”], “BALL, BUSTER!”
  • 40a. [“It’s becoming painfully obvious to everyone; just love whoever you want, boy!”], “OUT, DAMNED SPOT!” But DEB (56d. [One coming out]) should’ve been clued without “out.”
  • 55a. [“Install that tile, girl!”], “LAY, LADY, LAY!”
  • 63a. [“You seem tense; go get laid, boy!”], “FUCK, BUDDY!”

This theme amuses me extra because my sister has dogs named Lady and Buddy. Even without that little fillip, though, I like the theme and its embrace of contemporary slang.

Seven more things:

  • 9a. [“We’re out of ketchup. Thanks, ___!”], OBAMA. That’s a meme sort of thing, people tacking on a “Thanks, Obama!” after mentioning something, anything, unfortunate. “This grid is filled with crosswordese. Thanks, Obama.”
  • 15a. [Pandora rival], RDIO. Dn’t knw tht msic srvice.
  • 32a. [Chaz Bono’s ex Jennifer], ELIA. Didn’t know the name but it’s nice to see something fresher than an 1800s essayist’s nom de plume or a great film director whose heyday was 50-65 years ago.
  • 48a. [Hold oneself back from coming], EDGE. Sexual slang.
  • 59a. [It may be cubed or crushed], ICE is duped by the clue for 13d: ALS, [Ice bucket challenge target: Abbr.].
  • 72a. [French hat favored by hipsters], BERET. Wait, the current hipsters are sporting berets now? They’ve moved on from fedoras? Is this about lady hipsters? Is this a historical clue?
  • CRONUT, ALTOIDS, “BEER ME,” and Inigo MONTOYA are delightful fill. ERSE, six abbrevs, two partials, less so.

4.25 stars from me. The theme was so much fun—actual physical smiles and eyebrow raises from theme answers are all too rare.

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Insect-aside”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.05.14: "Insect-aside"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.05.14: “Insect-aside”

Welcome to Hump Day, everyone!!

In today’s puzzle, brought to us today by Ms. Gail Grabowski, we have to identify the “fly in the ointment,” specifically, figure out the insect that’s attached to the end of the theme answers that end up altering common terms. Those entries are clued as puns, creating the creative theme answers.

  • SISSY BARFLY: (17A: [Tavern regular who orders girly drinks?]) – Read the theme, and knew “barfly” had to be the tail end of the answer. From “sissy bar.”
  • GREAT SEALANT: (27A: [“That caulking worked wonders!”?]) – From “Great Seal.”
  • YELLOW SEABEE: (44A: [Naval engineer who’s far from fearless?]) – From “Yellow Sea.”
  • STOCK UPTICK: (59A: [Slight increase in cattle prices?]) – From “stock up.”

It might be hard to believe, but about a month ago, out of curiosity’s sake, I looked up the cast of Gunsmoke. On a lark.  And thank goodness I still have a few of those names in mind, because that made AMANDA not as hard to get as it would have been if I didn’t look up the cast earlier (6D: [Blake of “Gunsmoke”]). I’m not much for NASCAR races (and the recent spate of post-race fights), but definitely I am up for INDY races, especially during the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend (32D: [Annual Memorial Day event since 1911]). I think that SPARTACUS might be the next movie I tell my brother to get on NetFlix, as just typing in the answer made me curious about the film (11D: [1960 historical epic starring Kirk Douglas]). And, of course, if players carrying the football cross the GOAL LINES (34D: [End zone boundaries]), they end up hitting PAYDIRT, right (5D: [The mother lode])?.  More on those players scoring during our game RECAP at 11 (1A: [Sports news staple]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: REDBIRD (24A: [Scarlet tanager, e.g.]) – A short, straightforward “sports…smarter” moment, as REDBIRD, in sports vernacular, is an alternate nickname for any of the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball players. As a matter-of-fact- the official mascot of the Cardinals is an anthropomorphic bird called Fredbird the Redbird. Isn’t he cute? Somewhat? A little? Maybe? Ummm…..


Have a great day, everyone, and I’ll see you on Thursday!

Take care!


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Wednesday, November 5, 2014

  1. Martin says:

    Is it just me, or was most of the NYT puzzle just nonsense?

    Seriously though, I think the Crash Test Dummies had at least a couple of other hits. Possibly the best known being “The Superman Song”:


  2. ethan says:

    SIM (as clued) crossing SHBOOM was terrible. I had to guess letters for that S. There is no reason I can see to clue it as anything other than the game(s).

    EDIT: Amy is there some way to add in notification when someone replies to your comment? It would be nice to get an email….

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The reason, Ethan, is clear: More of the 80-year-old solvers will know Alastair SIM (which I tried spelling as SYM, never remember that one) than Sim City.

      I don’t know the answer to that question, Ethan. Our comments are a WordPress plug-in and I don’t know if we can customize that sort of feature.

      • Lois says:

        It’s true that it’s a tough crossing, but I’m not yet quite 80 and I love Alastair Sim. I have heard of Sim City, so it would be OK, but possibly also just as unfair a crossing.

        I did like the puzzle today.

  3. Papa John says:


    How did the memorial perfomance go?

  4. Brucenm says:

    PJ –thanks for asking. I played reasonably well, with a couple minor but annoying finger f*** ups, (the technical musical term), which I’m sure bothered me more than anyone else. But I got extravagant praise and appreciation afterwards, including from Barbara’s sister who said she was so moved by the slow movement, she started tearing up at the end.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Bruce, is any of your playing available on the web?

      Those are two very-pleasant sonatas. One doesn’t hear the 7th often enough.


      • Brucenm says:

        No, but I appreciate your interest. Last year, I played two big pieces — the Beeth. Eroica Variations, and the Schubert A Major Posthumous Sonata — at a party at a private residence of a painter friend of mine. It was videotaped, (with my knowledge and consent), and there was some talk about publicizing it on the web, but it didn’t come about.

  5. Papa John says:

    >>> reasonably well <<<

    Well, alright, then. I'm happy to hear that the audience thought better of it. That has to be a tough gig.

  6. huda says:

    NYT: It was an interesting solving experience, from thinking “this is hopeless, exactly the kind of stuff I suck at”, to zipping through the bottom half with a big smile on my face. Totally won me over. I think the idea is fun and a great change of pace.

  7. mitchs says:

    Anyone get the AV Club puzzle yet?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It just arrived a couple minutes ago. I was waiting too!

    • Brucenm says:

      Funny you should ask. Came in just as I was reading your post. By Aimee, purportedly 2 * difficulty; will probably be about 4 3/4 * difficulty for me.

    • AVClub says:

      Sorry for the delay. Normally it goes out Tuesday night, but this week’s AV puzzle is actively going out to subscribers now. If anybody doesn’t have theirs by day’s end, please email Any future delays will be announced here, in advance of Wednesday morning.

  8. lemonade714 says:

    Congratulations Gareth on another double; the contrasting puzzles show your range as a constructor..

  9. Harry says:

    In the LAT 65-across, the clue was “handled bags,” which is past tense. The answer was “Totes,” present tense. Hmmmmm.

  10. sbmanion says:

    Several years ago, I attended a graduation party for one the students I tutored. I was one of two non-Indians in attendance. Everyone had black hair, including one17 year old girl who looked like Aishwarya. I mentioned this to the host and his brother. I was mortified to learn that the brother was the young beauty’s father. fortunately, he found my comment funny rather than creepy.


  11. Elise says:

    Ade, If you rent Spartacus, here’s a fun fact: There’s a baths scene with Olivier and Tony Curtis. It was cut from the original release as too suggestive. When the clip was restored, the sound quality was poor, so Anthony Hopkins voiced the Olivier parts (since Olivier was dead by then).

    • ArtLvr says:

      Family anecdote re Laurence Olivier: in 1926 my Aunt Margaret was a classmate and close friend of his at the Central School of Speech & Drama, now a college of the University of London. She used to cook him spaghetti! Years later, they had a private reunion when he came to Chicago on tour… and my mother, who’d also acted in her youth and had attended the play with my aunt, wasn’t included in the visit backstage. She sometimes mentioned her regret at never having met him.

Comments are closed.