Friday, January 9, 2015

NYT 5:58 (Amy) 
LAT 12:42 – paper (Gareth) 
CS 9:10 (Ade) 
CHE untimed (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 12:44 (pannonica) 

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 1 9 15, no. 0109

NY Times crossword solution, 1 9 15, no. 0109

Lots of fill you don’t often encounter in crosswords here: Among my favorites:

  • 1a. [Refuse on the surface], FLOTSAM. A favorite word of mine. Much better than jetsam.
  • 8a. [The Great Pyramid was his tomb], CHEOPS.
  • 29a. [Resin-yielding tree whose name comes from the Bible], BALM OF GILEAD. Had no idea that was a tree.
  • 31a. [1978 arcade classic from Japan], SPACE INVADERS.
  • 33a. [Inaugural addresses?], STARTER HOMES. What a great clue.
  • 45a. [Famous Manhattan deli], ZABAR’S. The place whose beloved lobster salad turned out to contain no lobster at all (but plenty of crawfish). First heard of it on a ’90s business trip to New York.
  • 7d. [2012 film adaptation of “Snow White”], MIRROR, MIRROR.
  • 31d. [Thread in a series], STORY ARC.

What’s this PANIC BAR (32d. [Emergency exit feature])? I was picturing airplace emergency exits, but maybe this is about buses.

I like the central four-pointed star of open space anchoring this pinwheel grid. The assorted 5s crossing the 12/13/12 stacks aren’t anything special, but the clunkiest fill in that zone is RAHAL and GELEE, and I don’t have a problem with either.

Raise your hand if you filled in SUITS first instead of card GAMES for 30d. [Hearts and spades, e.g.]. *hand raised*

4.25 stars from me.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.09.15: "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.09.15: “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”

Hello again, and a happy Friday to you all! Just like yesterday, we have more rearranging of letters as part of our theme, as Mr. Randall J. Hartman’s grid contains theme answers in which the first five letters are D-R-E-A-M, but are rearranged in each of the entries. I’m definitely dreaming for some warmth, as I’m about to head out into the bitter cold right now to begin the day.

  • ED MARINARO (17A: [“Hill Street Blues” star]) – Also, the runner-up in the 1971 Heisman Trophy voting for college football player of the year while a running back at Cornell.
  • RED MAPLE (26A: [State tree of Rhode Island])
  • DEMARCATION LINE (40A: [Temporary geopolitical border])
  • MADE ROOM (52A: [Moved over, say])
  • ARMED GUARD (66A: [Brink’s employee, perhaps]) – No lie, I saw a guy a couple of days ago try to cross the street when he didn’t have the light and almost got wiped out by a Brink’s armored van. Honestly, he made it by about two feet! Why am I telling you this story? Umm, I don’t know.

Another 11-Down takes the cake for best fill in a grid for me today, with the entry for this puzzle being SHEEPSKIN (11D: [Diploma]). I’m torn whether my favorite Stallone role is either Rocky or RAMBO (44A: [Role played by Stallone in four movies]). Probably leaning towards Rocky, but the first Rambo movie, First Blood, is probably my favorite Stallone movie.  It definitely isn’t Judge Dredd, that’s for sure! I don’t think I’ve ever heard any piece of MUZAK that’s made me want to “get down,” like the (funny) clue suggests (52D: [What might make you get down while you go down?]). Bobbed my head a couple of times to muzak? Sure. So is GIGLI going to surpass Ishtar for Hollywood bomb that appears most in crossword grids (21A: [2003 Ben Affleck film])? That’s twice in about a three-day span that Gigli has appeared. Don’t think I’ve ever seen A-OKAY spelled like that before, so that had me scratching my head a little (37A: [Jim-dandy]). I’m hoping you got the gist with ARENA, with “Kings” referring to the Sacramento Kings of the NBA and “Heat” referring to the Miami Heat, also of the NBA (53D: [Where Kings can beat the Heat?]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ERIC (25D: [Running back Dickerson who holds the NFL’s single-season rushing record]) – In the 1984 NFL season, Los Angeles Rams running back ERIC Dickerson set the record for most rushing yards in the season when he ran for 2,105 yards, shattering the old record of O.J. Simpson in 1973, who at that time was the first running back to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season (2,003). Dickerson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

Have a great day and weekend, everyone!  Talk to you on Saturday!

Take care!


Timothy Polin’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Showing a Profit” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 1/9/15 • "Showing a Profit" • Polin • solution

CHE • 1/9/15 • “Showing a Profit” • Polin • solution

Letter insertion theme, explained by 70-across, [Good bottom line … or what 18, 23, 41, 52, and 63 Across have realized] NET GAIN. Appropriately, that trigram alters extant phrases in customary crossword-wacky style.

Not only do each of those five entries gain some letters, but the grid itself gains a column, making it 16×15. Call it the plus column?

  • 18a. [Poetry that fuels a government overthrow?] SON(NET)S OF ANARCHY (“Sons of Anarchy”). [Blank verse?] would have been a wonderful clue here, but arguably too oblique. I bet it was under consideration.
  • 23a. [Event at the Oenophile Olympiad?] CABER(NET) TOSS (caber toss). Random synapse firings: Highland Games, highland malt whisky, wine tasting, spit bucket, tosspot. Oh, I also thought of CABERMETRICS before appreciating the nature of the theme. What was the question again?
  • 41a. [Ingredient that makes a quiche Lorraine especially attractive?] MAG(NET)IC MUSHROOM (magic mushroom, aka those containing psylocybin and psylocin). Unclear why quiche Lorraine was specified here, as champignons of any sort aren’t a standard ingredient in it—so what makes it different than any other dish that could hypothetically be improved thusly?
  • 52a. [Tabloid headline about a horrible dye job?] ET TU, BRU(NET)TE? (“Et tu, brute”).

Not a fancy theme, but the varied answers are consistently appealing and entertaining. Three of them span the full length of the wider grid.

  • Some chewy long downs: 3d [Pescetarian choice at a barbecue] TUNA BURGER (had … STEAKS first); 5d [Professional who anticipates shoots?] BOTANIST (odd clue, I don’t feel it works so well); 31s [Some flat markers] FOOTSTONES; 43d [Indefatigable] SEDULOUS (I always appreciate a straight-up clue with precise definitions).
  • 39a [Sweetums] TOOTS. How does the Fiend commentariat feel about this, in light of yesterday’s discussion inspired by BIMBO? Do not see also 38d SUGAR [Tea-trolley bowlful].
  • Tea? Red Rose … 17a [Fairy-tale character who befriends an enchanted bear] ROSE-RED, sister of Snow-White (Rosenrot, Schneeweißchen).
  • 8a [Dzongkha speaker] BHUTANI; 46a [Mountain that straddles the Pakistan-China border] K-TWO – we don’t care for such unnatural, hybrid renderings, you know.
  • Favorite clue: 54d [A as in Angers] UNE. Runner-up: 9d [Unvarnished] HONEST.
(from Perfumes: the guide. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. Viking. 2008)

(from Perfumes: the guide. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. Viking. 2008)

Good, enjoyable puzzle.

Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “It’s All About Me” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 1/9/15 • "It's All about Me" • Fri • Kelly, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 1/9/15 • “It’s All about Me” • Fri • Kelly, Shenk • solution

Couldn’t figure out what the theme was while (lamely, as it turned out) trying to speed solve. Thought I couldn’t spare the time, but as it turned out the overall fill was tricky enough—even aside from my unhelpful typos—that working out the theme would have helped me loosen up those sticky areas more quickly.

So what we have is a phonetic insertion theme, with \ˈmē\ the operative. Spelling changes abound.

  • 23a. [Rose named in honor of a First Lady?] MAMIE FLOWER. (Mayflower). That’s Mamie Eisenhower being referenced. The shared -ower ending could (and did) lead (this) one astray.
  • 25a. [Having been assigned a 1-A (eligible to serve)?] ARMY RATED (R-Rated).
  • 42a. [Device used by the Spanish Armada for locating their enemy?] LIMEY DETECTOR (lie detector).
  • 60a. [“Have a Blustery Birthday!” mailing?] STORMY CARD (store card). I think this is like a store credit card, or a ‘loyalty’ card.
  • 69a. [Source of some muddy footprints?] SLIMY BOOTS (sly boots).
  • 86a. [Sordid sort of snakes?] SEAMY SERPENTS (sea serpents).
  • 108a. [Sidearm that’s a real sourpuss?] GLOOMY GUN (glue gun). Again, without grasping the theme one might think it’s riffing on Gloomy Gus.
  • 110a. [Place with space for countless cadavers?] ROOMY MORGUE (Rue Morgue).
  • 35d. [Group enrolled in Lowell’s Poetry 101?] AMY STUDENTS (A-students).
  • 39a. [Electrical safeguard in a particle physicist’s lab?] FERMI GROUND (firm ground, aka terra firma). Enrico Fermi. (edit: The base phrase is fair ground. See comments below by Brucenm and Claudia.)

The parts-of-speech breakdown: mostly adjectives, a fair showing of proper nouns, and a couple of regular nouns. The greatest spelling variation is among the proper nouns, the least (zero, actually) is among the adjectives. 

Unfortunately, I’m pressed for time so I’ll have to give this puzzle undeserved short shrift to avoid it being published too late in the day. I’m not nearly the speed-poster (or -solver) that Amy is.

  • Favorite clue: 78a [Gala leftover] APPLE CORE. Sneaky, using the variety name there. Runners-up: 51a [Pen output, with or without its first letter] OINK (ding for duplication in 63a [Free, as stock] UNPEN); 84a [Participant in a pantry raid] ANT; 8d [They’re beyond belief] SKEPTICS. 99d [Lineup ID] HIM. And there are plenty more high-quality, clever clues in the crossword.
  • 104a [Passing notice] OBITUARY. Refreshing to see it unabbreviated in a crossword.
  • Good trivia: 40d [Alnitak, Alninam and Mintaka form his belt] ORION; 81a [First film released on laserdisc] JAWS.
  • 61d [Giant killed by Odin and his brothers] YMIR. Long ago forgotten by me.
  • 79d [Sci-fi stalkers] CREATURES. What a strange choice of clue.
  • 92d [Out of the cooler] SPRUNG crossing 96a [Inmate’s dream] PARDON.

Good puzzle, and now pardon me while I fly from here.

Frank Virzi’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

lat150109You’ve possibly gathered I’ve bought a printer and am doing a bit of paper solving. I’m still experiencing teething problems with said printer, so apologies for the missing horizontal lines in the solved grid.

The puzzle? A basic add a sound theme: IL today. For consistency’s sake, all answers have that sound tagged to the ends of their final word. Spelling changes as necessary. The preceding sounds also change a bit in some cases, which is less than ideal. In general though, the new phrases are strong. We have:

  • DONTMINDIFIDUEL, [“Pardon my sword fight”?]. DOO sound changes to DYOOIL – a Y gets inserted. Still the resulting pun is solid.
  • TENPERCENTAWFUL, [“The good news: mostly A-O. The bad news: ___?”]. The vowel in OFF is more clipped. The clue sounds like a crossword blog template…
  • McQuakLAUNCHINGPADDLE, [Tool for putting a Ping-Pong ball in orbit?]. I tend to call the base phrase a LAUNCHPAD?
  • ALIENLIFEFORMAL, [Big affair for E.T.?]. A bit on the edge of too wacky, but works as a crescendo!

Other remarks:

  • [Averts a knock-out], GETSUP. My last letter, and my write-over: Had lETSUP until STAG corrected it.
  • [All-purpose rides], UTES. All???
  • [Singer Carly ___ Jepson], RAE. She’s persistent! Alternative singing RAE: Lesley Rae Dowling.
  • [Author Yutang], LIN. Our basketballer, however, is getting a break.
  • [Boer village], STAD. The clue is literally wrong, but functionally correct. STAD means CITY. DORP is closer to town/village. BUT, like many US places with “City” in the name, most towns ending in STAD are pretty humble.
  • [“___ No Sunshine”: Bill Withers hit], AINT. Great song! (Don’t worry not taking you to the rap reworking…)

3.5 Stars

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28 Responses to Friday, January 9, 2015

  1. sbmanion says:

    Flotsam was the answer in an SAT sentence completion. There is usually one fairly obscure vocabulary answer that few students will know. Flotsam is floating wreckage. For one million dollars, what is wreckage called that has sunk to the bottom?

    Fun puzzle. Only the NE and SW were easy. The diagonal from the NW to the SE was tough for me. HALF VOLLEYED took me way too long to see.

    LANKER seems odd to me.


  2. dave glasser says:

    A panic bar is one of these things:

    It was my first answer in the grid! Except that I entered it as CRASHBAR.

    • john farmer says:

      Not to quibble with the puzzle, but PANIC BAR is one way overblown term for what is functionally a door handle. Why do we have to ratchet up everything to DEFCON 1? Does the manufacturer double the price by calling it a “panic bar”? I realize panic bar looks better in a grid than door handle, but really…. Sometime during the Ebola panic of last fall — or was it the lime panic of the spring? — I got the sense that we’re just doomed to live in a permanent state of fear/trembling/OMG-we’re-all-gonna-die panicpanicpanic. Hey, everybody, it’s OK. Really. Just take a deep breath. There…see the door, see the handle…no need to panic.

      (On a not entirely unrelated note, I am not so keen on seeing the awful shooting at Charlie Hebdo labeled a “terrorist attack.” I know it’s a gray area, but I suspect it’s too easy to use the T-word when gunmen have Islamic ties. Terrorism has become less a descriptive word than a political one. Maybe we should take another deep breath before hitting the panic button.)

      • Avg Solvr says:

        “Maybe we should take another deep breath before hitting the panic button.”

        Who’s hitting the panic button?

        • john farmer says:

          I was at a museum yesterday with an exhibit that included scenes of Nazi-occupied Europe. I turn on the news and hear people say things like Paris has never seen an attack as bad as the one on Wednesday. I wouldn’t call it panic. But I think some people are losing perspective.

          At this hour, news reports about panic are mostly concerning France’s Muslim community bracing for the backlash. I hope their fears will prove unwarranted.

      • Papa John says:

        I attended a junior high school called Memorial Jr High. It was named after a tragedy in a school where many children were killed while attempting to escape a fire. Many would have made it out had the doors swung outward but, alas, they did not. As the crowd pushed against the doors, they were not able to be opened inwardly. As a result of that incident, all public buildings now have exterior doors that push out and are equipped with panic bars that will “automatically” allow the doors to open. The name is not a marketing gimmick.

        • john farmer says:

          Point taken. I can see their value. Better design, better engineering can save lives. I still think there may be a better name.

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    Is Zabar’s really a deli, or is a deli a part of it? Isn’t it more an upscale food emporium?

  4. Evad says:

    Went from UNSER to LEHAR before RAHAL. Guess I thought “The Merry Widow” composer raced cars in his youth? Funny what you come up with when you draw on the ambiguous list of “alternating consonant-vowel” famous last names in your memory bank.

  5. lemonade714 says:

    I loved Inaugaral addresses: STARTER HOMES and its echo crossing at the H, Law offices: STATION HOUSES.

    LANKER was ok but somehow LANKIER seems to flow better.

    Not sure why Connie____: was not a sufficient clue, especially since GNMA provides no money for home mortgages.

  6. Jim Peredo says:

    CHE: Fun puzzle, but dang! Was really hoping for MAGNETIC JOHNSON as one of the theme entries. Would’ve made a great addition to my robot parts puzzle I did a while back.

  7. Dook says:

    I think a panic bar is a bar you push on the door of an emergency exit and an alarm will sound when you push it. So, it isn’t merely a door handle. I also question characterizing Zabar’s as a deli. In New York, Zabar’s is not a deli, but it is an institution. Great fun on a Friday.

  8. Papa John says:

    I’m sorry I wasn’t able to post this yesterday, when it was more germane to the discussion.

    I once held an exhibit in Seattle called “The Higgin’s Suite: A masculine view of the emerging goddess”. It was my attempt to sympathize with the feminist movement. The gist of my message asked why it has taken so long for women to rid themselves of the shackles of the dominant patriarchy. I contended that the blame for masculine dominance in society lay as much at the feet of women as it did men. Amy’s example of the imbalance of gender representation in Congress points this out. Since there are more women voters, why are they not more fully represented? It’s certainly in their power to change that. If women were to stand up for their rights, there would be no inequality of pay in the workplace, either. Male workers had to fight for their fair share in the labor force. It’s unlikely current corporate moguls will bend more easily in giving women equal and fair compensation without a struggle. Women will have to fight for it, perahaps even die for it.

    To me, these are the more poignant and important aspects of the feminine battle for gender equality. Arguing about name-calling seems trivial in comparison. Change the rule of order and the vocabulary will take care of itself.

    We are all, men and women, victims of human bondage. It is this condition that must be overcome so that none of us see others as something less — neither dickhead nor bimbo.

    • Huda says:

      Papa John,
      I happen to be sending this comment from Beirut, Lebanon. I say this because being here reminds me of growing up in this part of the world and the range of cultural perspectives I’ve experienced—these definitely color my views.
      Your point about women standing up better for themselves makes logical sense. But it ignores some important factors. Foremost among them is how we internalize cultural values about ourselves, whether we are women, minorities or victims of any other hierarchy or stigma. Growing up in the Middle East it was literally not possible to imagine gender equality, much less have what it takes to fight for it. More importantly, such a picture was considered thoroughly unattractive and unfeminine. Those points of view were broadly cultural, which meant women embraced them as much as men, may be more. So, much of the battle is about first retunig these expectations. When Amy and others point to the connotations of certain terms, I believe it’s a way to fight the insidious shadow of theses images that continue to shape both the males and females in our culture.
      I too look forward to the day when all of this will have died a natural death. In the meanwhile, it’s harder to sort cause from effect than it might seem. So, I feel that being thoughtful about subtle implications is one way to fight even our own prejudice against ourselves as well as about each other.

      • Papa John says:

        Dear Huda, and other readers, please do not view my post as an all-inclusive apology for the gender inequality among humans. I fully understand the vast complexity of it and certainly the cultural restraints put upon any social or political progress. These bonds lay deep in the human psyche, which makes the struggle all that more difficult. It will require both individual and societal paradigm shifts, as well as cultural and spiritual enlightenment, before men and women will share equal footing.

        • CY Hollander says:

          If we’re to pay more than lip service to “the vast complexity of it”, it ought to be pointed out that out-of-context statistics go only so far in making a credible case for a thing. Only 20% of congressmen are women? What percentage of candidates are women? There’s a wage gap of X cents when comparing male wages to female wages? Have you controlled for industry, hours worked, years of experience, etc.? 1 out of 5 women is raped in college? What’s your definition of “rape” and where are these statistics coming from?

          And on the other hand, what about the areas where men are the ones discriminated against by society? Whose allegation of assault or abuse is more likely to be believed sans evidence, for example: a man’s or a woman’s?

          I don’t think Amy’s blog is the place to have a debate on this subject; I just think it’s worth noting that not everyone buys into the narrative that Western women are ‘oppressed’ beneath ‘privileged’ Western men.

  9. Jeff says:

    NYT 30d – shouldn’t spades be capitalized if it is being utilized as a proper noun for the name of a game?

    • placematfan says:

      Capitalization accompanies the commercialization (copyrights and trademarks and such) of the name of a game, so uncopyrighted (trademarked?) names of games like hearts, spades, chess, checkers, go, and bridge are uncapitalized, while Yahtzee, Halo, Uno, and Monopoly *are* capitalized.

  10. sandirhodes says:


    forget a header today?

  11. Gareth says:

    12:39 paper no write-overs. After solving Thursday’s puzzle earlier today – 35 minutes, the top-left looks like an ink bomb, and I still didnt finish… If I’m inclined to look more favourably on this offering because of that, so be it. Was unsure of the last square: ZABARS/ARE, but guessed correctly. It looks like PB started with that central cross – all great themeless entries! And then the stuff in the four corners was just gravy. I really was on PB’s wavelength though – plonked BALMOFGILEAD down without crossers and I’m still bothered by how I got that. MIRRORMIRROR was also a kids historical drama that was on in the 90s. It involved a magic time travelling mirror and an improbably plot that tsarevitch had escape Yekaterinburg and was hiding in New Zealand!

  12. Brucenm says:

    Pannonica, re wsj, I think the base phrase for “Fermi Ground” is “fairground”, not “firm ground”. I was also confused by the apparent “Gloomy Gus.” And I didn’t know if “store card” was a real thing, so I was pretty confused throughout.

  13. Claudia says:

    WSJ – I see “fermiground” as fairground. Fermi is pronounced “FAIR me”

  14. Brucenm says:

    moving comment to Saturday

Comments are closed.