Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fireball 5:54 (Amy) 
NYT 5:27 (Amy) 
LAT 5:03 (Gareth) 
CS 15:01 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:17 (Matt) 

Kacey Walker and David Quarfoot’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 12 4 14, no 1204

NY Times crossword solution, 12 4 14, no 1204

SCRABBLE‘s the name of the game here, the 7a. [Game with its own dictionary]. [63a. What the three possible answers to each of 26-, 36- and 44-Across are, leading to 27 possible solutions to this puzzle] are ANAGRAMS. Those three 7-letter entries have three anagram possibilities, and the the Downs crossing them work with multiple letters:

  • 26a. [Play in 7-Across with the rack DEIORRW] can be WORRIED, WORDIER, or ROWDIER. The crossings are 26d. [Complain loudly], RAIL or WAIL; 28d. [Plant that’s not cultivated], REED or WEED; 23d. [Transportation lines: Abbr.], RRS or RDS; and 21d. [Plant protrusion], BUD or BUR.
  • 36a. [Play in 7-Across with the rack DDEEIRS] clues DESIRED, RESIDED, and DERIDES. 36d. [Some deer], DOES or ROES; 38d. [Morning ___], SUN or RUN; 29d. [___ station], AID or AIR; and 25d. [What one might attach to a vehicle after a snowstorm], SKID or SKIS. 
  • 44a. [Play in 7-Across with the rack ADEGNRS] is GARDENS, DANGERS, or GANDERS. 44d. [Tip of Greenland?], letter DEE or GEE; 46d. [Something a lawyer might once have called on?], NOTARY or ROTARY (though there is nothing specifically lawyerly about calling on an old rotary phone); 42d. [Suffix with block], -AGE or -ADE; and 33d. [Black ___], BEAR or BEAN.

That’s nifty, no?

Seven more things:

  • 16a. [Showed one’s support, in a way], HOORAYED. I’ve never seen this as a verb, I don’t think. The dictionary says it exists.
  • 20a. [Like the rightmost elements], NOBLE. Gases, not political factions.
  • 31a. [One with all the answers?], SIRI. Eh. I could do without Siri, personally.
  • 52a. [“Clear now?”], “SEE IT?” Feels a little iffy to me.
  • 56a. [Governor who said “I don’t think there’s anybody in America who would necessarily think my personality is best suited to being number two”], CHRISTIE. I believe there are plenty of people who strongly associate him with number two.
  • 7d. [Something settled long ago?], SHALE. Geologically speaking.
  • 14d. [Car that famously debuted on “E Day”], EDSEL. If it’s so famous, how come I’ve never heard of this “E Day”?

4.25 stars from me.

Andrew Ries’s Fireball crossword, “Make a Buck”

Fireball crossword solution, 12 4 14 "Make a Buck"

Fireball crossword solution, 12 4 14 “Make a Buck”

In “shave and a haircut, two bits,” that “two bits” amounts to 25¢. Andrew makes a buck here by having pairs of {BIT} rebuses in the Down answers combine to make a {QUARTER} going Across:

  • 20a. [Sorbonne setting], LATIN {QUARTER}. QUARTER occupies two squares, which have 11d: NOR{BIT} and 12d: TID{BIT}‘s {BIT} rebuses.
  • 25a. [So-called “world’s fastest athlete”] is the AMERICAN {QUARTER}HORSE. The BITs cross a VW RAB{BIT} and everyone’s favorite [Book of the Apocrypha], TO{BIT}
  • 48a. [Opening snap takers], STARTING {QUARTER}BACKS. AM{BIT} and CU{BIT}S are the crossings.
  • 54a. [They lack flags], {QUARTER} NOTES crossing {BIT}TER and {BIT}ERS.

Solid, and a fresh play on the two-way rebus gimmick.

Top clues:

  • 5a. [2008 installment of a cutting-edge franchise?], SAW V. There’s gruesome sawing in those movies.
  • 14a. [Third name in humor], I DON’T KNOW. Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know is on third.
  • 35a. [Bloat called him “newcomer of orange and white” in a ceremony on Mount Wannahockaloogie], NEMO. Looking forward to the Finding Nemo sequel?
  • 42a. [Word after time and before machine], SLOT. I saw “time” and “machine” and I thought “hot tub.”
  • 10d. [Minnesota town with a Stratford Street], AVON. This small town is “part of the St. Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area” and thus something Andrew might know about. (He lives in St. Cloud.) Google Maps tells me this Avon also has three Spunk Lakes of the Upper, Middle, and Lower varieties. You needn’t know any Minnesota towns, though—Stratford-on-Avon is your hint.
  • 26d. [He took a bath and didn’t live to tell about it], MARAT. Who knows about this guy from history? I think most of us know him from being immortalized in that painting.
  • 41d. [Elbow-to-dactylion measures], CUBITS. Your dactylion is the tip of your middle finger.
  • 65d. [Cat’s paw?], TOM. That’s a paw as in a pa as in a dad, as in a generic male cat, a tomcat.

4.2 stars from me.

Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Is There A Doctor in the House?” — Matt’s review


If you’re a “Doctor Who” fan, then you’re going to love this one. If, like me, you’ve never seen an episode, then it’s not going to make much sense, since the answers are puns based on that show:

16-A/60-A: [With 60-Across, forget about those aliens who go “Exterminate! Exterminate!”?] = NEVERMIND / THE DALEKS. Base phrase is “Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.”

23/38-A: [With 38-Across, police box-looking device alongside a rabbit?] = THE TARDIS / AND THE HARE. From “The Tortoise and the Hare.” I still don’t believe that a tortoise defeated a hare in a race, even if the hare took a nap.

48-A: [What’s needed to understand a telepathic race?] = not a “food processor” but an OOD PROCESSOR.

So a love-it-or-don’t-get-it theme, based on your TV habits.

Other things:

***Nice NW and SW corners. OOMPH, MANGO, HERB, LIVY, GEEK and SKYCAM, and in those two little areas.

***ELAND is clued as [African antelope that makes clicking noises with its knees]. Wild. I wonder if there’s a YouTube video of this? There is, but the clicking is a little hard to hear.

***Nice clue for RIN at 22-A: [“Oysters ___ Season”]. Because you’re only supposed to eat oysters in months with an R in them.

Oysters R in Season, Felix's

***[Cheech of pot humor] is MARIN, though he could also have used 2014 U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic of Croatia. How about that palindromic surname, too? Monica Seles and Marin Cilic are now the two palindromic Grand Slam winners. Although in her native langauge of Hungarian her name is not a palindrome (“Szeles”) and not in Serbian, either (“Селеш”). Only in English!

No star rating from me, since the theme is so knowledge specific. But I did dig the puzzle overall.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times  141204

LA Times

Thanks a million to Amy for filling in at short notice!

Per the theme revealer – ONENAME, [Feature shared by the women vocalists concealed in 17-, 29-, 45- and 59-Across] – there are four hidden vocalists. I count five. Given the 5th woman’s position, it looks like it may be deliberate, but I’m not sure; she’s certainly not in the same fame bracket as the other four (outside of crosswordland, at least). See if you can find her! Anyway, I like the theme concept: a rich and fun vein to tap, one-named singers! Artists left on the cutting-room floor include Sia, Madonna, Odetta, Melanie, Eve, Nico, Fergie, Aaliyah, Tiffany, and Jewel. The reasons for some of these not being chosen is notability; for others it’s impracticality, and many both.

The four we get are Cherilyn Sarkisian is in [Oft-pickled fish], ATLANTICHERRING. Adele Adkins is found in [Educational stage], GRADELEVEL – is that a real phrase? I could infer it from the clue – even if it is, blah! But I guess include Adele was more or less a requirement themewise. [Keep out], DENYACCESS hides Enya Brennan and [Comes to terms], NEGOTIATESADEAL conceals Sade Adu (possibly a better Adu angle than Freddie!). The theme entries are a little forced in general, but given the theme concept I’m willing to be a bit more forgiving.

More slightly questionable phrases are found in the long downs: AMILEAHEAD and NOTINVOGUE are phrases that someone might use, but I’m not entirely sure they pass the “in-the-language” test. I do acknowledge that Mr Wechsler is straining for new and peppy fill here. Also in the long downs, is more female vocal action with DOILOVEYOU – a 60’s song I’ve never heard of. Baby I Love You (also Ronettes), yes but not this one – it reached the stratospheric heights of Billboard #34. I’d say that my 60’s music knowledge is more than most people of my age (much older parents and lots of time spent digging through their 7 singles / LPs / 78s), but it’s still retrospective, and I’m always finding more stuff I don’t know!

3.5 Stars. If you’re not Youtubed out, here’s another song, with a male vocalist, to break the pattern!

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s a Shoe-In!”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.04.14: "It's a Shoe-In!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.04.14: “It’s a Shoe-In!”

Hello once again, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us today by Mr. Bob Klahn, makes sure that the shoe, indeed, fits! Each of the theme answers are multiple-word terms in which a type of shoe is hidden within the terms. In a somewhat unrelated note, there aren’t too many things worse than wearing shoes that are tight-fitting. (I’m wearing these size 14 sneakers right now that look great, but I really should be wearing size 15s. Such is life.)

  • DECAF LATTE: (17A: [“Grande nonfat” Starbucks order]) – The only thing I’ve ordered from Starbucks in my life is hot chocolate, when I’ve had to stop in at a Starbucks to use their WiFi, but felt bacd for not buying anything while inside.
  • SYMBOLIC LOGIC: (25A: [Formal system used is statement analysis])
  • BURNS AND ALLEN: (47A: [Comedy team whose TV show ended with a “Goodnight”])
  • THE ELLIPSE: (61A: [President’s Park South, informally])

Love the trivia aspect of Klahn’s puzzles, and now I’ll always have the bit about ISAAC in my mind when encountering people with that name (15A: [Biblical name meaning “laughter”]). Accidentally typed in “cara” instead of CARO to start, as I really need to stop mixing up my Spanish and my Italian knowledge (1A: [Beloved, in Bologna]). Years ago, I went online to those sites where you can get your BMI measured when you type in your measurements, and I remember one of them telling me that I, essentially, needed to go to the hospital ASAP for what I typed in, even though I had just undergone a physical about a week prior  and was deemed fit (32A: [Obesity measure (abbr.)]). Loved seeing the whole name of SANDRA OH in the grid (37D: [She’s Stephanie in “Sideways”]), and because she also played the role of Rita, the assistant to super sports agent Arliss Michaels (Robert Wuhl) on the HBO show Arli$$, she almost was the subject of our “sports…smarter” moment.  But the winner for today is…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KORDA (35A: [“Jungle Book” director Zoltan])– Former Czech tennis player Petr KORDA made two grand slam finals in the 1990s, winning the 1998 Australian Open. Later on in 1998, Korda tested positive for steroids and was eventually banned 12 months from the game in 1999. One of Korda’s daughters, Jessica, is currently a professional golfer on the LPGA Tour.

See you all on Friday!

Take care!


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26 Responses to Thursday, December 4, 2014

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Very clever construction! During the solve, when one of the alternative words popped up, I went with it and the rest flowed from there, so I’m not sure how much the nifty construction affected my solving experience. I was impressed after the fact.

    And this is definitely beyond the (very limited) ability of Across Lite to handle any complexity. It was unhappy with GANDERS and wanted DANGERS… And even weirder, the version that gives the happy pencil is RORDIER in lieu or WORDIER… or ROWDIER!!! Just plain RRONG.

  2. Avg Solvr says:

    Didn’t like the puzzle very much but the anagrams are impressive. NYT did a very good job with those upon completion.

  3. pauer says:

    Pretty stunning, I thought. Congrats to Kacey and David!

  4. Papa John says:

    Today’s NYT is not my cup of tea – too much puzzling for the gimmick and not very challenging fill. Has anyone, using Across Lite, figured out the rationale for the order of the letters in the rebus squares? This became the most challenging aspect of the puzzle and I don’t think it’s even intended to be a part of it.

    • ArtLvr says:

      Agreed — the misdirection of the AcrossLite response was a pain… Love the comment above about a certain governor being associated with number two: uproarious!

  5. CY Hollander says:

    I enjoyed the NYT today: this is the sort of tricky puzzle that I do the Thursdays for. The fill may not have been uniformly difficult, but it was challenging enough for me, especially in the middle: it took me a shockingly long time to get TASING and TEEN, even once I had all the other letters. Worse, when I see a singer with the letter pattern _N_A, I always think ENYA (though she’s not Canadian), and forget about Paul ANKA, for “One with the answers?”, with the pattern S_R_, I was sure it was SURE (and a good clue too, I thought), and with the E of SuRe, the S_eD that you attach to your vehicle looked like a sled. That cluster of misapprehensions made that section take me quite a while, but I like a challenge and I liked the theme, so 4.5 stars from me.

    I’m generally not a fan of Will Shortz’ practice of revealing the theme in a clue—I’d rather he left the solver the challenge of finding it—but in this case it was probably necessary to clue us in to the existence of three anagrams for each of the theme clues, since otherwise you could easily have stopped at two.

    46 Down in particular seems to have suffered from having to do double cluing duty: Amy’s already pointed out that the “lawyer” part doesn’t have much application to ROTARY, and, on the other hand, don’t lawyers still have occasion to call on NOTARIES?

    • ArtLvr says:

      Google reveals “Attorney Rotary (@AttorneyRotary) on Twitter. State of the art legal database that matches consumers to highly qualified attorneys…”

  6. cyberdiva says:

    I loved today’s NYT puzzle! Part of the fun was figuring out the 3 possibilities for each set of seven letters and what changes they create, but I also enjoyed much of the rest of the clueing. One thing still perplexes me–SKID as an answer for “What one might attach to a vehicle after a snowstorm.” Is a SKID a thing like a sled? I think of it only as the act of skidding. I suppose I could look it up, but…. Anyway, I gave this puzzle a 5, something I rarely do.

  7. Zulema says:

    The NYT really made for a fine solve, but I no longer use AcrossLite. I print the puzzle and using AcrossLite interferes with printing, though others have not experienced this, I understand. I realize it must have been quite a construction feat, but I saw the possibilities without following them up. Lazy solver, indeed.

  8. Gareth says:

    I don’t have a lot to say about it, but I do want to applaud the conception and execution of today’s NYT. Really great puzzle! Between this and Tuesdays it has been one of the better NYT weeks in recent memory…

  9. Roy Leban says:

    For those curious, I posted a long comment over on Rex’s site which explains what happened with the Thursday NYT and why every app except Puzzazz got it wrong.

    • ahimsa says:

      Roy, thanks for the pointer (to Rex’s blog) and for the explanation.

      I’ve been saving up to get an iPad so I can start using Puzzazz.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I love Puzzazz…I’d love it even more if it talked to my Bluetooth keyboard…

  10. Norm says:

    Today’s BEQ busted my dislike meter.

    • sandirhodes says:

      … and BEQ smiled to himself, basking in the inner glow of satisfaction.

      • Norm says:


        • says:

          Well, okay. Now I did the puzzle. What exactly tripped your meter?

          Last time I watched the show, Tom somebody or other played the Doctor, like in the 70s. “Day of the Daleks” sticks in my head. I guess he was one of the favorites. Well, I guess they all were, maybe.

          Sigh. Now I’m reminded of The Goodies. I LOVED that show! Can’t remember a thing about it though!

          • Norm says:

            Have never watched the show, so the theme answers were puns on words I had no way of knowing in the first place. Not fun — and uber-Naticky in places as a result. ;)

          • Martin says:

            Tom Baker, who’s 80 now, played the Fourth Doctor from 1974-1981. You might remember his companion Romana. (There were actually two Romanas, a brunette and a blonde.) Romana II (the blonde) was played by Lalla Ward, aka The Honourable Sarah Ward (her father was a Viscount).

            Anyway Tom Baker and Lalla were married for a time. They divorced and now she’s married to Richard Dawkins. They were introduced by Douglas Adams.

            I can do this all day.

    • Martin says:

      Remember the Got Milk? commercial with the Aaron Burr collector who couldn’t pronounce “Aaron Burr” to win the contest because his mouth was full of peanut butter? Well my house looks like his, only it’s Doctor Who stuff. Small stuff (toys), medium stuff (puzzles and more toys), big stuff (pinball machine, Dalek models), a room lined with shelves filled with Doctor Who books and magazines, in ten languages including Japanese and Turkish.

      This one went pretty fast.

  11. says:

    OK, I give.

    CS 10A:
    “Halfway between ten and ten, if you only count to twelve”

    I don’t get it.

  12. Michael says:

    Incredible feat of construction! I myself have been sitting on a Schrodinger theme idea for several years. Today’s puzzle may just put that theme away for several more.

  13. ahimsa says:

    I meant to post earlier that I really enjoyed the New York Times today. I’m not great at Scrabble and have hardly ever played it. But you don’t have to be a Scrabble player to love this puzzle.

  14. bonekrusher says:

    how did today’s NYT not get a unanimous 5-star rating? freakin’ brilliant!

Comments are closed.