Friday, November 21, 2014

NYT 4:36 (Amy) 
LAT 5:27 (Gareth) 
CS 11:30 (Ade) 
CHE 4:53 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) tk (pannonica) 

Kevin Christian’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 20 14, no. 1120

NY Times crossword solution, 11 20 14, no. 1120

There are one or two fun answers in each quadrant:

  • 1a. Having a big itch], JONESING.
  • 15a. Sideways look?], EMOTICON.
  • 57a. Farmers’ market frequenter, maybe], LOCAVORE.
  • 12d. Call from the rear?], BUTT-DIAL.
  • 34d. “Come again?”], “HOW’S THAT?”
  • 36d. “Go for it!”], “LET ‘ER RIP!”

Did not know: 34a. [Home of minor-league baseball’s Brewers], HELENA. Montana has AAA baseball? Nope. Below AAA, AA, and A, you get the Advanced Rookie league. Had no idea how far down the rabbit hole baseball went.

Seven more things:

  • 44d. [State bordering Poland], SAXONY. The Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions final today had a whole category of foreign states, but Germany was represented there by Hessen. Which is usually called Hesse here.
  • 1d. [Close-fitting, sleeveless jacket], JERKIN. If you wondered, “Does anyone sell jerkins these days?”—the answer is yes. Including Members Only vests, reflector safety vests, and obscene things with the word jerkin’ on them.
  • 59a. [Novelist Shreve and others], ANITAS. Boo on the plural first name. 31a. FAYS escapes the plural-first-name trap with the clue [Elves, in poetry], but it’s entirely unnecessary to cross relatively unfamililar FAYS with the dull FEN. Replace that F with a B, D, H, J, M, or P, and you’ve got yourself an arguably much better answer pair. It’s possible the constructor was aiming for a pangram, and that is why many of us find pangrams entirely pointless. Compromises in the fill need a darn good reason.
  • 44a. [Org. of sisters], SOR. Frat, frat, frat … sor? Uncommon abbreviation.
  • Lots of proper nouns in this puzzle. Twenty of them? That’s enough to vex many solvers.
  • 25d. [Source of the delicacy tomalley], LOBSTER. It’s a digestive gland, the liver/pancreas. Sometimes toxic. Yum? You can have my share. Go ahead. I don’t mind.
  • 60a. [Hoosier], INDIANAN. Per Wikipedia, “Although most Americans typically adopt a derivative of the state name (either ‘Indianan’ or ‘Indianian’), these derivatives are not in official use or proper within Indiana.”

3 1/3  stars from me.


Ed Sessa’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Seismic Shake-Ups” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 11/21/14 • "Seismic Shake-Ups" • Sessa • solution

CHE • 11/21/14 • “Seismic Shake-Ups” • Sessa • solution

… in other words, earthquakes. Each of the four theme answers contains the letters of E-A-R-T-H, conveniently circled, in sequence but rearranged. In other, other words, they’re (11d) MIX-UPS [Muddles], and, hey, earth is sometimes synonymous with mud, but I digress.

  • 20a. [Misanthropic Muppet] OSCAR THE GROUCH.
  • 33a. [Words after “Huh?,” perhaps] I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I’d have clued it with “La, la, la” as the quote.
  • 43a. [Atone] SQUARE THINGS.
  • 57a. [They help plants manufacture ATP] LIGHT REACTIONS. That’s adenosine triphosphate. Currently experiencing traumatic flashbacks to the Krebs Cycle. Thanks, Sessa.

Four unique arrangements of the five letters, always spanning two words: good variation. Not even a repetition of “the”.


©2011 Alex Ho

Also on the topic of variation, the ballast fill comprises a nice mix of vocabulary, from science to pop culture, foreign words to in-the-language content, from literature to the quotidian—or should I say mundane?

  • Even though they aren’t particularly impressive fill, I like the pairing of INFINITE / EGRESSES in the lower right.
  • 15a [Goal of many a pool shot] CAROM. I wouldn’t say that that’s the goal, more of a means to an end. Even for a safety play.
  • Favorite clue: 51a [Org. concerned with caps and crowns] ADA, the American Dental Association.
  • Not thrilled with the symmetrical partials, albeit literary, of “How now! A RAT? and “HAD I Not Seen the Sun”
  • 25a [Vietnamese noodle soup] PHỜ. Nothing amazing here, just acknowledging that I’d really enjoy a bowl of it right now, what with the chilly temperatures.
  • 46d [Pepperdine University locale] MALIBU. How very, very CHE.
  • 1d [Grimm ending?] EMS. Have you heard about Jack Zipes’ new English translation of the grislier and more macabre first edition of the brothers’ folktales?

Good puzzle. Literally, but not figuratively, an earth-shattering theme.

Mark Feldman’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times  141121

LA Times

I supposed I’m expected to like this one based on its beastial theme, but I didn’t. The jump between original and wacky phrase is just too jarring. In essence, each answer’s first consonant changes to make it an animal sound, with spelling adjusted as necessary. Four of these are mammals and one is a bird – that’s like having four basketball teams and one baseball team… So we have:

  • [Where dogs chat?], BARKPLACE. Park Place, not dark.
  • [Where donkeys make noise?], BRAYAREA. GREYAREA, not TRAY or PRAY.
  • [Where horses are treated for laryngitis?], NEIGHCARECENTER. Ignoring the difficulty in connecting to the base phrase, this is quite amusing. DAYCARECENTRE
  • [Where lions practice intimidation?], ROARZONE. WARZONE.
  • [Where birds sing?], TWEETSPOT. SWEETSPOT.

Rest of the grid is pretty solid. ALONSO is always the [King of Naples in “The Tempest”] and never Xavi or Fernando… [Legendary guy traditionally wearing black boots], SANTA sounded a lot more sinister at first. [What mayo might be], SPANISH conveniently lacks any punctuation to give away the misdirection…

2.33 Stars

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “E-tail”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.21.14: "E-tail"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.21.14: “E-tail”

It’s Friday once again!! I hope all is well with you. Today’s grid, authored by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, deserves “an E” for effort, as each of the theme answers are common terms that have been altered, through the way of puns, by adding the letter “E” to the end of those terms.

  • MOVING VANE: (17A: [Indictor of windy weather?]) – From “moving van.”
  • BEER CANE: (24A: [Ambulatory aid after a couple of six-packs?]) – From “beer can.” Not a bad idea for those planning on going on a serious bender before heading out on a Friday night.
  • FIVE-YEAR PLANE: (34A: [Limited edition aircraft?l]) – From “Five-year plan.”
  • BEST MANE: (44A: [Award won by Simba of “The Lion King”?]) – From “best man.” Best theme entry in my mind.
  • DAPPER DANE: (53A: [Victor Borge, say?]) – From “Dapper Dan.” This was a close second in terms of best theme answer in my opinion.

Just for kicks, we should have spelled Schwazenegger’s name “Ahnold” instead of ARNOLD (22D: [First name in California politics]). At the end of one of Arnold’s most popular movies, Conan the Barbarian, I believe there’s an appearance of a Valkyrie, which is from NORSE myth, who saves Conan’s life at one point (47D: [Like Leif Ericson]). I’ll be taking Amtrak a couple of times in the next week or so, and, just once, I want to hear someone lustily shout All ABOARD from the platform instead of hearing an announcement over the loudspeaker (41D: “All ______”]). Maybe I’m asking for too much in trying to harken back to those olden days. I think the number of DIET COLAS I’ve had in my lifetime all put together is somewhere between one and three (10D: [Quaffs for the calorie-conscious]). After losing a lot of weight over the summer, I’ve started to gain some of it back, so I think I might be increasing that number before too long.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ELIAS (4D: [Inventor Howe]) – One of the greatest players in New Jersey Devils hockey history, as well as one of the best Czech players to ever play in the National Hockey League, Patrik ELIAS (pronounced ELL-ee-osh) is a two-time Stanley Cup-winning forward who is the New Jersey Devils’ all-time leader in goals and points. As of Nov. 21, Elias is just five goals shy of 400 career goals and seven points shy of 1,000 career points. (For those who don’t know, points is the combination of goals and assists.)

See you all tomorrow from Harvard Yard! No kidding!

Take care!


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18 Responses to Friday, November 21, 2014

  1. ArtLvr says:

    I really liked seeing the FAYS, a very good choice for a Friday puzzle! I also like “fey”, the adjective: my grandmother was a bit fey, speaking of unexpected events that hadn’t occurred yet but were about to happen…

  2. Brucenm says:

    Today’s NYT provided an amusing Uey on a familiar experience for me. Since I was a very early reader, there are many words that I learned first by reading them, before I had heard them pronounced, e.g. a spaTOOLa (that you flip your pancake with), a PLACE-bo (that you need for a double blind drug test), and when something doesn’t work out, it goes AWE-ree.

    Given my gastronomic pretensions, I know about lobster tamale, but had (evidently) never seen it written. And I have to confess — it’s OK. I’ll eat it, but I certainly don’t go into paroxysms of ecstasy when I get it.

  3. Dook says:

    Why so harsh on the Times? Fun puzzle with just enough degree of difficulty to keep me interested.

  4. Martin says:

    “Why so harsh on the Times? Fun puzzle with just enough degree of difficulty to keep me interested.”

    As the emperor said to Mozart: “Too many notes”


    • Brucenm says:

      And when Joseph II suggested that he take out some notes, Mozart asked “Which ones would you like me to remove?” And of course, Bach received a letter of reprimand from his ecclesiastical superiors for introducing “strange tones” into the chorale.

  5. 7d5a9b1 says:

    I count five clues based on sports teams, three of them (“Heat loss,” “Setting for many Card games,” “Giants’ environs”) seeking to mislead by that tiredest of cluing tricks, a hidden pun on a team’s name. Can’t these please, please stop?

    • Gary R says:

      I enjoyed these clues/answers – though I can see how they might try the patience of a solver without much interest in sports. The Heat and Giants clues have the hidden capital letter, which might be difficult to spot for a non-sports fan.

      Two of the clues leave some uncertainty, even when the solver recognizes that they are sports-related, since Giants and Cards are nicknames for both football and baseball teams, in different cities. Time zone abbreviations rarely make for exciting fill, but I like BAY AREA.

      • 7d5a9b1 says:

        I’m bothered not by the difficulty of such clues; I don’t find them difficult. They have grown far too common to baffle anyone much. Whenever I see “jazz” in a crossword, I now think–not Louis Armstrong, or John Coltrane, or New Orleans, or Harlem, but–“Utah.”

        I’m bothered by the old, old, old joke, which admits of infinite variation, and never gives pleasure. “Card” is a little better than “Heat” or “Giants,” since the wit doesn’t rely an an association already intended in the team name.

        But as to the others, “Jazz” and the like, they don’t provide the sudden recognition that makes puns amusing. No one thinks, delightedly, “Oh, whaddya know, ‘Jazz,’ in addition to being the name of a sports team, is also the name of a musical genre!” The joke was dumb the first time, miserably idiotic the ten-thousandth.

  6. Jason F says:

    After I finished, I was a bit befuddled by the clue for AIRBUS.

    Would “Giant jet” apply equally well to, say, BOEING? (I think of both companies making a range of jets, though).

    There is a dictionary definition of AIRBUS which refers to short-range or medium-range flights. This doesn’t seem to imply size – in fact, I think of long-range flights as the one with giant jets.

    Am I missing something obvious?

    • pannonica says:

      Had a similar feeling. However, [Jet giant] would be a fine clue.

    • Bencoe says:

      The world’s largest passenger jet is made by Airbus, which I thought was what the clue was getting at.

      • pannonica says:

        In that case the answer should be A380, however you’d want to work that into the puzzle. Or the clue should be [Giant jet maker] or something akin to that. The airplane model isn’t interchangeable or completely synonymous with the company.

  7. Zulema says:

    The Pepperdine clue, which was a gimme, took me back some 35 or more years ago, when I attended a conference there. There was a very lovely lunch served, but a lot of us looked with a bit of disappointment at the tall frosted glasses (iced tea) at each place setting.

  8. Zulema says:

    Since I never heard of a KASEM (my loss?), I finally went on line to see if I had forgotten perhaps. I hadn’t and learned a great deal more than I had bargained for, including why he has not been buried. Oh, dear!!

  9. lemonade714 says:

    How does one not ever hear of Casey Kasem, either from American Top 40, or the great out cut of him chastising his producers for giving him an animal death dedication after a lively pop tune, or the flap with his children and his new wife (widow).

    • Zulema says:

      I guess by never turning on to Top 40 or to news sources that tell us about the people involved. I have learned many names from the NYT, but not that one.

  10. sbmanion says:

    The TOMALLEY clue brought back a fond memory. There was a noted seafood restaurant in St. Catherines, Ontario called Marie’s Seafood Restaurant that was famous for lobster. The menu came with instructions that you should eat the tomalley because it was a delicacy. My favorite time there listed the six-pound lobster for two for $29.99. I had it for one as did my wife. Canadian money was at about $.70 at that time. Two weeks later, we went back and the price was $49.99.

    I was surprised at the number of sports clues, which made the puzzle quite easy for me, although I did not know Helena.


  11. ===Dan says:

    I got a chuckle out of that characterization in Wikipedia of “Indianan.” Typical Wikipedian pomposity. I can understand a characterization that it is not in official use, but the idea that it is not “proper in Indiana” is entirely unsupported in the article. Wikipedia has a policy requiring support for any such assertion. (I found a reference to Dan Quayle, in 1987, campaigning to eliminate derogatory definitions of Hoosier from Webster’s New World Dictionary. Another chuckle.)

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