Thursday, January 1, 2015

NYT 4:50 (Amy) 
LAT 5:45 (Gareth) 
CS 8:28 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:33 (Ben!) 

Happy New Year to those who celebrate it!

Jill Denny and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 1 1 15, no. 0101

NY Times crossword solution, 1 1 15, no. 0101

Neat golf theme here. Finishing a hole two under par is an impressive eagle, one under par is a birdie, and one over par (sad trombone) is a bogey. Is there a limit on the bogey count? I suspect I could nail an octuple bogey. Anyway! In the puzzle, “eagle,” “bogey,” and “birdie” are replaced in familiar phrases by the number ONE or TWO placed above or below the letters PAR in an adjacent answer:

  • 17a. [Neil Armstrong declaration], THE TWO HAS LANDED, with TWO under PAR telling us it’s “The Eagle has landed.”
  • 26a. [What a parent might warn a child to watch out for], THE ONE MAN. The bogeyman. (Note to co-constructor co-parents Jill and Jeff: Don’t tell your child that there are monsters! Good lord, do you ever want the kid to go to sleep? No bogeyman, nobody in the closet, not a single beast under the bed.)
  • 42a. [1961 Tony winner for Best Musical], BYE BYE ONE. Bye Bye Birdie, in which “Birdie” is a man, which is something I learned only in the last year or so.
  • 53a. [Average … or a literal hint to 17-, 26- and 42-Across], PAR FOR THE COURSE. Solid reveal.
  • 53d. [Org. that’s most likely to appreciate this puzzle?], PGA. A bonus theme word.

The three PAR chunks appear in CAR PARTS, POOL PARTY, and WATER PARK, a solid set.

Five clues:

  • 1a. [Person close to 100?], A STUDENT. 100 grade average, not 100 years of age.
  • 41a. [Ho Chi Minh City festival], TET. Happy New Year! Although Tết falls on February 19 this year.
  • 61a. [Game for which it’s helpful to have hands-on experience?], PEEKABOO.
  • 1d. [House work?], ACT. Okay, I don’t get this one. Is “house” synonymous with “theater” here? Ohhh … I think I get it now. The House of Representatives occasionally passes things called acts.
  • 27d. [Real imp], HOLY TERROR. My favorite answer in this puzzle.

4.25 stars from me.

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.01.15: "Roman Holiday"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.01.15: “Roman Holiday”

¡Feliz Ano Nuevo! Definitely want to wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year as we’re now in 2015. And to kick off the New Year, we have a subtle reminder of what year it is in our grid today, presented to us by Mr. Doug Peterson, who might have a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena dedicated to him. In the puzzle, common phrases and/or proper nouns are altered to create puns by putting a Roman numeral at the front of each theme. It just so happens that if you put those letters together, they spell out MMXV, or the Roman numeral for the year that we’re currently in now (71A: [2015, or what can be found leading off this puzzle’s longest answers]).

  • MARCH ENEMIES(20A: [Foes who do battle every spring?]) – From “arch enemies.”
  • MICE SKATING(35A: [Mickey and Minnie doing figure eights, say?]) – From “ice skating.” I’m actually having images of actual mice wearing teeny tiny ice skates and scurrying across an ice surface. I’m sorry if I just made you have that image as well.
  • X-RAY CHARLES(44A: [Check a British prince for cavities?]) – From “Ray Charles.”
  • VROOM SERVICE(55A: [Pit stop activity?]) – From “room service.”

I can’t tell you how many times my friends and I back in high school would say, “Do you smell what The ROCK is cooking?,” the catchphrase of one of the most famous (fake) wrestlers of all time (21D: [Wrestler/actor Dwyane “The ____” Johnson]). So, unless my memory is failing me, I just saw a new way to clue REBA in a crossword grid (58D: [“____: Duets” (2007 country album)]). I wonder if ENIGMA was a subtle shoutout to one of Batman’s arch enemies, The Riddler, a.k.a. E. (Edward) Nigma (22D: [Puzzler]). Our theme is Roman numerals, yet we have the Spanish word for numerals/numbers, NUMERO, also present (33D: [Uno, dos or tres]). I can remember my mother not moving a muscle and being transfixed to the television any time the WINANS were on television, as my mom was a lover of their gospel music (31A: [Grammy-winning gospel singer CeCe]). Loved the fill of YO HO HO, as the pirate theme is going to continue in our next segment…well, in a way (23A: [Pirate song phrase])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LSD (2D: [Psychedelic initials]) – The first “sports…smarter” moment of 2015 is a real trip! On June 12, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter in San Diego against the Padres. Obviously, that’s a noteworthy achievement in itself, but what made this game even more “memorable” is the fact that Ellis pitched that no-hitter while high on LSD. According to Ellis, he had partied all night previous day in Los Angeles, had been dropping acid during that day, then took it the next morning when he woke up, and finally rushed to San Diego to be on time to make his start. He was wild all game, as he walked eight and hit a batter, but he allowed no hits in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 victory. When asked by a reporter after the game if he saw the final out made, Ellis produced one of the most memorable sports quotes ever: “Did I see it? You should have seen it the way I saw it.”

Tomorrow won’t feel like a Friday, but I’ll definitely see you then!

Take care!


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword “2014 in Review” — Ben’s review

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 12.44.59 AM

Hi everyone! I’m Ben, and (as Matt mentioned last week) I’m going to be taking over the BEQ Thursday Beat here at Fiend. I’m a huge puzzle fan, and I’ve done some blogging elsewhere on the net (which you can find info about on the Fiend Team page), but it’s great to get a chance to do something in both realms for once. I’m especially excited to be covering Brendan’s Thursday puzzles, even if he has completely sunk my ACPT ranking for two years running.

The calendar may have turned to 2015 at midnight, but Brendan’s getting one last look at 2014 in with this week’s puzzle, aptly titled “2014 in Review”. It took me waaaaay too long to figure out what was going on with this week’s theme clues:

20A: All of country singer Tammy’s money? – WYNETTE FORTUNE
(about $900 million, according to a quick Google search – not too bad, but nothing that rang a bell for 2014)
25A: Reason why a boy king didn’t have to pay to sign up for the contest? – TUT WON ENTRY FEE
(still nothing, theme-wise – two-tone?  Still not getting anything clueful)
42A: Motto of many an improv comedy troupe? – WE’RE OFTEN NUTTY
(As someone who’s seen and performed their fair share of improv performances, if the improv performers you’re about to see have this as their motto, do not see that show.)

That finally cracked it – these are all anagrams of TWENTY FOURTEEN!  That left only one theme clue:

48A: Like a 140-character joke that no one favorited, probably? – FUNNY TO TWEETER
(this includes most of the jokes I currently make on Twitter.)

Some other thoughts on this puzzle:

  • 57A: Yogurt-and-cucumber side dish – RAITA. Had I not just had Indian food with friends over the holidays, this may not have been right on my mind.
  • 4D: Faucet – WATERTAP. I’m enough of an anglophile to have filled this in without help, but it felt odd the entire time I was writing it in.
  • 7D: Maker of the $6800 84 MPG car (I’ll believe it when I see it) – ELIO.  I got this one entirely from the across clues, but still needed to Google it to believe it.  I join Brendan’s skepticism that this is an actual thing that will be on the roads.

I fully enjoyed this puzzle, despite my own blindness to the theme until 3/4 of the way through, and it was a great start to blogging BEQ’s puzzles this year.  I’m giving it a 4/5.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times  150101

LA Times

The highlight of the theme is the beautiful revealing answer: The rest of the puzzle theme contains six synonyms for yukking it up: GIGGLE, GUFFAW, BURSTOUTLAUGHING, CHORTLE, CRACKUP and TITTER. CUSS is not thematic I assume. I find straight synonym collections somewhat bland, personally (yes, I’m a hypocrite, as I’ve made a few of that theme type in my time). We also get a smiley face, which is somewhat thematic, but a) You can smile without making a noise, and b) most left-right symmetry puzzles look like faces.

ACAP and NETA are supremely ugly. FOHN bothers some people as correctly it either has a umlaut or an extra ‘e’. Otherwise very clean despite a high 3-letter count (it is a plus-size grid). I applaud the effort to include interesting long answers given the mostly short theme: HOMESALE, PREMOLAR and KEEPTIME being the big highlights.

Also, [“The Grouchy Ladybug” writer Carle] for ERIC is definitely a later week clue. He’s much more famous for “The Hungry Caterpillar”, but you just have to spot the pattern!

3.5 Stars

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31 Responses to Thursday, January 1, 2015

  1. Gareth says:

    Neat theme, even better was that the rest of the puzzle felt themeless-grade! Very much a parental mini-theme going on! The only sad thing is that the albatross and condor feel left out!

  2. lemonade714 says:

    What a great start to the year, the NYT a great visual game of golf, the LAT a pretty picture a nd Doug P’ s effort a real gem as a subtle date reference puzzle.

    Thank you all for the start of the year

  3. CY Hollander says:

    1d. [House work?], ACT. Okay, I don’t get this one. Is “house” synonymous with “theater” here? Ohhh … I think I get it now. The House of Representatives occasionally passes things called acts.

    You’re probably right, Amy, but I took it the first way, and I think that way works, too, since, as I think you were pointing out, house is synonymous with theater sometimes (as in the expression “to bring down the house”; sense 5, here).

    Happy New Year!

  4. sbmanion says:

    Mon Dieu! A brilliant golf-themed puzzle in the NYT. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    There is no limit on the adjectives that can precede bogey–quadruple being one I am familiar with, especially on a par four where the 8 is usually referred to as a SNOWMAN. A double eagle is an ALBATROSS and some months ago we had a reference to a CONDOR, which I had never heard before and would be a triple eagle.


    • Winnie says:

      So one would have to have a hole in one on a par five to get a condor. Hmmmmmm

      • sbmanion says:

        Arnold Palmer’s wife (who died about 15 years ago) was named Winnie (Winifred). CONDORS are exceedingly rare. There are also a smattering of par 6’s around the world and a few par 7’s. No one has ever made a hole-in-one on a par 6 or par 7. In keeping with the bird theme, we could perhaps coin a phrase: Aepyornis? Moa? Roc?

        There have been a few condors:


        • pannonica says:

          Aepyornis and moa are both flightless, so they don’t match the pattern. The Roc is mythical, but considering the unlikelihood of a player ever realizing such an achievement it’s perhaps appropriate.

          Other candidates should include Argentavis and Pelagornis.

  5. Jim Hale says:

    The One Man? Never heard that expression for the boogie man; googling didn’t seem to pick it up. That made this puzzle a disappointment to me… also not a golf fan.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “The One Man” isn’t supposed to be a real expression, just as nobody’s saying that the astronaut said “The Two has landed” or that “Bye Bye One” is an actual musical.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      Seems like you’re not seeing the gimmick, Jim. The theme phrases only make sense due to the gimmick which Amy’s write-up explains.

  6. PJ says:

    I need some help with 53-d in BEQ. VA and PA are commonwealths. That caused a little hesitation before I wrote in ETAT. Overthinking?

    • Mr. Grumpy says:

      Yes. Their form of state government is a commonwealth but they are indeed states within the meaning of the US Constitution.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      They’re also states, though. It’s not the United States and Commonwealths of America, or the 46 states and 4 commonwealths. You can call yourself a radio all you want, but you’re still a human being—the official names of the states do nothing to change their essential status as states.

      • PJ says:

        Thanks. That makes sense. It just struck me as odd that both states chosen are commonwealths. I believe the likelihood of that happening by chance is about 0.005.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Au contraire! 37 of the 50 states use the same name in French. Two of the 13 with French names are commonwealths … and I don’t recall how to calculate those odds.

          • PJ says:

            My likelihood is based on 50 states, all with French names, of which four are commonwealths, Then it’s a simple hypergeometric density calculation.

          • PJ says:

            Yep. Thirteen with French names, two that are commonwealths. The probability that the two chosen are commonwealths becomes 0.013. Thanks! Still not very likely.

  7. Greg says:

    Perfect Thursday. Clever, consistent theme, pitched at the right level of difficulty, coupled with smooth fill all around.

  8. huda says:

    Happy New Year everyone. Just emerging from the holiday festivities at my house. Lots of house guests PLUS home renovations that did not get completed on time EQUAL total chaos. But everyone had fun and was a great sport.
    Speaking of which, I know next to nothing about golf, but what I knew was enough to enjoy the NYT puzzle. I actually got the theme at some point and it helped me get THE TWO HAS LANDED. Beautifully done!

  9. Zulema says:

    Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

    I assume the repeated ONE refers to ONE over and one under, but this was not specified by anyone. It was the TWO that gave me the theme immediately, though Golf is not in my conscious ken.

    • Lois says:

      Hi, Zulema. Amy explained this. The TWO in 17a is under the PAR in CAR PARTS in 15a for the EAGLE, and the ONEs are over and under PAR in the same way. The explanation is in Amy’s discussion in the second half of the first paragraph and at the bottom of the bullets.

      • Zulema says:

        Thank, you, Lois. I went back and still didn’t see it because I wasn’t paying attention to the placement. My loss.

        • Lois says:

          I didn’t acknowledge that I didn’t figure it out fully myself. I got to the same point you did, and needed Amy’s explanation. Reading Avg Solvr below, who expresses what was going on very well, I realized I should fess up. I had already forgotten, as I’d already made my way through Jeff Chen’s column and incorporated the cool theme already as if I’d always understood it.

  10. ArtLvr says:

    My favorite today was the LAT, complete with smiley-face grid! Happy New Year, all!

    • ArtLvr says:

      p.s. I’m celebrating the acquisition yesterday of a painting of Venice at an auction in Germany by my Chicago-born great-uncle Charles Gifford Dyer! Now I’m catching up on sleep, as I had to make a 4 a.m. call to talk with the auctioneer at 10 a.m. his time. If anyone has a line to another work by Dyer, please let me know? He & wife were ex-pats all their adult lives…

  11. Avg Solvr says:

    Completed the NYT but never saw the visual gimmick. Figured that others would miss it as well and I can see from the comments I reckoned correctly. Part of the problem may be that the hint answer doesn’t clue you to a visual. (I could see from the first theme answer that the gimmick was golf scores.) Another creative construction by Chen and partner that will unfortunately be lost on many people I think.

    Clever construction by BEQ whose title doesn’t help clue you in to what will remain hidden to most people.

    • huda says:

      I agree that the reveal for the NYT may not be explicit enough to make you look for the word PAR over or under the “ONE”. Once you get that this is a golf theme and that PAR is relevant, you can do it virtually. The word “literally” is meant to make the solver look for the visual, but you have to be paying close attention.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        Yeah, but it still seems to me that “literal” isn’t a very good reveal because the gimmick is spatial not literal.

        • Gary R says:

          The AHD’s second definition of “literal” is “word for word; verbatim.” I think that accurately describes the theme answers in today’s puzzle – e.g., in 17-A, we have, literally, “two” under “par.”

          And it is, after all, a Thursday.

          • Avg Solvr says:

            I don’t think your interpretation is correct. The hint only seems to be saying that “par” is literally part of the gimmick not that it’s placement is key as Huda explained if I understand her correctly. Having seen several people wonder about the theme I think my feeling that the reveal is lacking has merit.

  12. pannonica says:

    A belated welcome aboard to Fiendhood, Ben!

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