Wednesday, November 19, 2014

AV Club 6:32 (Amy)  
NYT 4:21 (Amy) 
LAT 4:01 (Gareth) 
CS 8:44 (Ade) 

Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 19 14, no. 1119

NY Times crossword solution, 11 19 14, no. 1119

The theme is THERE’S NO TWO / WAYS ABOUT IT, and each of the other theme entries has NO appearing in TWO WAYS, wrapped ABOUT the rest of the letters. We get NORA EPHRON, NONPRESCRIPTION, and NOMINATION.

The ol’ Scowl-o-Meter was triggered by ERSE, ESSEN, OATER, ALERO, SURER and WAXER, PRIE, HOI, ESO, SNO, REA, UKASE, and no-longer-fresh pop-culture names ELYSE and MAURA.

I did like the KOMODO dragon, OKLAHOMA, and the newsiness of CALIPH clued as [Self-proclaimed leader of ISIS, e.g.] (though I can’t say I’ve heard anyone referred to as a caliph in the news–just mentions of “the caliphate” that the Islamic State people hope to establish).

The theme’s idiomatic two-part revealer is cute, though it would have been good to have this theme in a venue that includes puzzle titles. “No Two Ways About It” as a title, four NO…ON entries, smoother fill, boom. Three stars from me.

Francis Heaney’s American Values Club crossword, “Charge!”

AV Club crossword solution, 11 19 14 "Charge!"

AV Club crossword solution, 11 19 14 “Charge!”

Francis has toyed with chemistry in at least one memorable puzzle before (the one where chemical symbols and atomic numbers appeared in a two-way rebus), so it wasn’t a huge stretch to discover that “Charge!” means to ionize some atoms. And that’s exactly what happens in the rebus squares—ATOM in the Across direction gets ionized, with ION being used in the Down crossing. I filled in ION in my grid because 3 letters display much more prettily than the 4 of ATOM.

  • 17a. [Spaghetti sauce ingredients, perhaps], ROM{A TOM}ATOES crosses 4d. [Flag that would’ve needed a redesign if Scotland had voted for independence], UN{ION} JACK.
  • 25a. [Actress whose Oscar win was rumored to be caused by Jack Palance drunkenly misreading Vanessa Redgrave’s name (not true; see Snopes)], MARIS{A TOM}EI crosses 11d. [Recently discontinued diet cola, maybe because it was carcinogenic, maybe not, who knows], PEPS{I ON}E.
  • 35a. [Pest whose larvae feed on tubers], POT{ATO M}OTH crosses 32d. [Moon of Saturn named for a Titaness], D{ION}E. Not sure I knew there was such a thing as a potato moth. Tomato hornworm is as close as I get.
  • 48a. [Baseball simulation brand that paved the way for modern fantasy sports], STR{AT-O-M}ATIC crosses 40d. [Battered thing that might have made you cry when you cut it], ON{ION} RING. The 40d clue seems like it could also be horrifying, referencing violence, but Francis and Ben are good allies who surely would not go there.
  • 57a. [Book full of inside information?], GRAY’S AN{ATOM}Y crosses 38d. [Swimmer who won five gold medals in Seoul], MATT B{ION}DI.

If I hadn’t done at least one other Francis-does-chemistry crossword, I suspect this puzzle would have been much harder to unravel. Neat concept, well executed.

Five more things:

  • 2d. [Singers like Bryan Ferry and Michael Bublé], CROONERS. I had the initial C in place first. Is it bad that I filled in CASTRATI?
  • 16a. [How very few like their nuts?], KNEED. However! This is an incredibly useful self-defense tactic, and self defense instructor Susan Schorn explains how one can defend against a male attacker with judiciously placed testicle blows. The efficacy is illustrated with numerous MMA clips in which men are rendered entirely helpless by KNEED or kicked nuts. Handy info!
  • 34a. [Compass dir. that’s almost a music festival], SSW. South by Southwest, or SXSW, is a huge festival in Austin.
  • 40a. [“Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” e.g. (sorry to break it to you)], OLDIES. No!!
  • 41d. [Hit 1996 single that is the world’s catchiest song, according to Dutch researchers], WANNABE. I can’t say I actually know the song, and I’m okay with that.

4.25 stars from me.

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Secret Admirers”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.19.14: "Secret Admirers"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.19.14: “Secret Admirers”

It’s time to climb up that hump and descend down safely towards the end of the week! Hope everybody is doing well, especially those in the Buffalo area, where, even in my four years living in the Central New York area and experiencing my share of lake effect snow, I did not experience the type of lake effect snow that has occurred in the Buffalo area. Hope everyone up there is safe, and for those in the area reading this blog while dealing with all of the white stuff in the process, you’re a real trouper!!

Today’s crossword puzzle, served up to us today by Mr. Doug Peterson, includes four theme answers in which the word “fan” is embedded within the entries. The reveal, FAN, is also included in the grid (63D: [Devotee found hiding in the four longest theme entries]).

  • SONS OF ANARCHY: (20A: [FX drama about a biker gang])
  • ME MYSELF AND I: (31A: [Yours truly, emphatically]) – If you inputted this answer and DID NOT think immediately about De La Soul’s hit song of the same name, then I don’t know you anymore!!
  • CITY OF ANGELS: (41A: [Nickname for Hollywood’s home])
  • OFF AND RUNNING: (56A: [Making good initial progress])

There was some real fun fill in the grid, as per usual with a Doug Peterson crossword, including TOP DOGS (43D: [Big kahunas]) and LLOYDS (13D: [Insurers of London]). Initially thought of “eerie” instead of ON ICE when reading that particular clue (54D: [Chilling]). For the ladies out there, how many of you ever owned a Betsy Wetsy DOLL (10A: [Betsy Wetsy, e.g.])? Not that my parents would have ever thought of getting me that doll for any reason, but I can’t imagine deriving any fun in making an inanimate object drink water, only for it to eventually “wet itself.” Then again, I’m sure you could say that you couldn’t imagine deriving any fun in taking inanimate object like, say, G.I. Joe action figures, and staging a “faux war” in your living room with the figurines, like I did when I was a kid. To each their own, right?!?!?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GRACE (65A: [Kelly of “Rear Window”]) – Which Major League Baseball player recorded the most base hits in the decade of the 1990s? The answer, which would surprise a lot of baseball fans, is former Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Mark GRACE, who recorded 1,754 hits in the decade, all as a member of the Cubs. Grace also played a key part in the Arizona Diamondbacks winning the 2001 World Series, as he got a lead-off single off of New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning to start the game-winning two-run rally to defeat the Yankees 3-2 in the seventh game of the Fall Classic.

Again, if you’ve never heard De La Soul’s “Me Myself and I” song before, nor have seen the video for it, then press play…now!

Take care, and I’ll see you tomorrow!!


C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times  141119

LA Times

I get that the entry THECLOUD is included to try and be fresh. But as a revealer it clunks, it doesn’t really tie things together. The four answers’ first words can fit the pattern “___ cloud”. And don’t start me on THECLOUD as a concept; it strikes as me something that existed for ages already, and then was suddenly marketed as a new concept. The answers are:

  • [Leave in a huff], STORMOUT
  • [Book keeper?], DUSTJACKET
  • [Book keeper?], MUSHROOMSAUCE/ Mmmm
  • [Deep-fried carnival treat], FUNNELCAKE. Ewww.

Ms. Burnikel deals with aplomb with the considerable grid constraints placed by the theme – an 8 letter revealer forces the big corners of the top-right and bottom-left, and the central 13 isn’t helping things either. It is true that those big corners are connected to the rest of the puzzle by a single square; the puzzle as a whole is quite segmented.

The more important feature is very little iffy stuff (ONOR, AST, ORES), and also the odd nugget of ore. ITOLDYOU and CAMISOLE are my favourite answers. [Dove bars] for ROOSTS is probably the cutest clue.

3.5 Stars

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12 Responses to Wednesday, November 19, 2014

  1. Ethan says:

    Whoa, WTF? Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a legitimate example of a CALIPH because he has a bunch of stolen cash and guns and cut some people’s heads off, may they rest in peace? Um, no. Not. Cool. Even though “self-proclaimed” is in the clue, it’s modifying “leader” and not the answer “CALIPH” itself. So, no. Just wrong, wrong, wrong. The clue should be “Self-proclaimed leader of ISIS, e.g., in his wildest freaking delusions”, or maybe an example of an actual caliph from history.

    • Gary R says:

      Not sure the name of an actual Caliph would be widely-enough know to the NYT audience for a Wednesday puzzle.

      Perhaps “ISIS leader – or so he claims”?

  2. ArtLvr says:

    re Scowling at UKASE, an arbitrary decree, why? You may not use it much, but Merriam-Webster says “English speakers adopted ‘ukase’…in the early 18th century.” One might apply it today in the case of a U.S. Governor who declares an Emergency requiring closing of schools for a month prior to the report of a grand jury!

  3. PJ says:

    AVC – Really enjoyed the theme. Five pairs ranging from the mundane potato moth to the decidedly un-mundane Marisa Tomei. I haven’t thought about Stratomatic in years. Nice. One pushback – an onion ring doesn’t cause me to cry when I cut it. A raw onion might.

    Immediately after solving I felt really good about the fill. 6D was a favorite. 30A was not. Trek is a bike. Star Trek has Klingons. I don’t recall ever hearing it referred to as Trek. Chuckled at scooch. After taking a step back I noticed two directions (one disguised as a language suffix), OXO, HIES, ALE. Is REF crosswordese?

    I guess teepee/tepee depends on how many Es the constructor needs. For fun I googled them. I got 1.7 million hits for teepee and 1.9 million for tepee. Interestingly, to me anyways, tipi got 12.6 million hits.

  4. Molson says:

    Wannabe is not nearly as catchy as MMMbop. Those researchers are wrong.

  5. Linda says:

    Re: American Values Club crossword: My screen doesn’t show the grid, although the analysis (funny and incisive) and comments are there. Would love to see it if it can be transferred to the site. Yes, I know, I could subscribe. But if it is commented on here, couldn’t it be printed here?


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Thanks for the nudge, Linda—I simply forgot to add my solution grid. It’s up now. Also, you should definitely subscribe to the AV Club puzzles—so much more fun to uncover the surprises yourself!

  6. Joan Macon says:

    Amy, guess what? Today’s LAT 61 across had the clue “Fighting college team”. And then I did the NYT for Oct 15 which comes to me 5 weeks late in my newspaper, and there was 11 down; “”Fighting ” Big Ten team. I know these coincidences occur, but it amuses me just the same, and I’m not even an alum of the Illini.

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