Sunday, January 11, 2015

NYT 9:15 (Amy) 
Reagle 8:06 (Amy) 
LAT 6:05 (Andy) 
Hex/Hook 11:07 (pannonica) 
WaPo 13:08 (Sam) 
CS untimed (Ade) 

Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “Triple Play”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 1 11 15, "Triple Play"

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 1 11 15, “Triple Play”

Super-quick write-up, as I’m out the door for pizza and a movie in 15, and I want to get the post up so you can comment on this puzzle or the NYT (which will be blogged several hours later than usual).

The theme is 3: a bunch of phrases that include the number 3 or the word “three” have a “3” in the grid. I count 14 Acrosses and 15 Down answers with 3s in them, too many to list. 3OO,OOO,OOO and MR. 3OOO swap zeroes out and use the letter O.

Having 29 theme answers with quasi-rebus squares is a lot, though many of the themers are short, and there’s some rough fill as a result (e.g., 2d: PI R from the geometry formula for a circle was an early groaner; didn’t know 11d. [Abbr. on motor oil], SAE112d. [Govt. org. concerned with infrastructure], DPW must stand for Department of Public Works, which I think is a local and not a federal thing though most govt. org. clues are for federal agencies).

Didn’t know SWANSDOWN was a thing (1d. [Fabric used in baby clothes]).

Had 3 SQUARE MEALS instead of 3 SQUARES A DAY at 108a; I bet I’m not alone in that.

3.3333333333333333333333333333 stars from me.

Trip Payne’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 249”–Sam Donaldson’s review

The Post Puzzler No. 249 (solution)

The Post Puzzler No. 249 (solution)

This week Trip Payne serves up a 70/29 freestyle packed with class and sass. I found the north easy–dare I say too easy. So easy that I thought, “hoo boy, something wicked will be waiting in the south.” The self-fulfilling prophecy worked, as more than two-thirds of my solving time was spent moving the cursor throughout the lower hemisphere.

So let’s start with the friendly upper section. I couldn’t fill in the northeast corner fast enough, what with Tea LEONI, the [“Madam Secretary” star] kicking things off and giving me all I needed for the UTEP MINERS, ON A TEAR ([Bingeing]), and the ROYAL WE ([George I’s I]). I paused momentarily on the [Fictional paleontologist], as all I had was *LLER. Fortunately, I knew HOSER was the [Insult popularized on “SCTV” ] and that my native OREGON has the flag that is different on each side. Add in a lucky guess that ONASSIS was the answer to [He had a yacht named Christina] and pretty soon I had unearthed ROSS GELLER from “Friends” as the paleontologist. The rest of the north seemed to fall just as fast.

The grampus: an orca wannabe

The grampus: an orca wannabe

Then came the south. I’ve never heard of the GRAMPUS, the [Blunt-nosed dolphin] pictured to the right. If Grandpa Munster had a child with the McDonald’s mascot Grimace, I suppose it would be a grampus. Come to think of it, the grampus in the picture sorta does look like Al Lewis and Grimace.

Back to the puzzle. As a child of a certain age in the 1980s, I know LEE IACOCCA, of course, but couldn’t remember that he was the [“Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” author]. I kept wanting an answer like ANN COULTER. But enough about people who resemble the grampus.

I knew not that a ROSE was an [Enchanted item in “Beauty and the Beast”], perhaps as I am one of three people on the planet who has not seen the film. Nor did I know that MCA was the stage name for the [Member of the Beastie Boys who died in 2012]. Nor did I know that AMERICA is the [“Tonight” follower in “West Side Story”]. Nor did I know that Jackie GLEASON was a [“Requiem for a Heavyweight” actor]. Nor did I know to whom the names refer to in the clue for ALTO ([Baker or Carpenter, e.g.]). Nor that there’s an actor named NAT Wolff who appeared in “The Fault in Our Stars.” Yeah, that unfortunate accumulation of ignorance made for slow going.

And! I was certain to the point of being to willing to bet more than a de minimis amount that the answer to [Post production] was going to be a cereal and not a NEWSPAPER. The south had me so discombobulated that I even had A PLEASURE as the answer to [Relaxing, maybe] (it was AT LEISURE). Like Trip would ever use that answer, or editor Peter Gordon would ever allow it! Actually, I’m mildly surprised that AS A was used (or clued as a partial, i.e., [___ result]). I had END in there and felt good about it for a long time.

Just a few additional items of note:

  • It didn’t help that I had COOT as the [Loonie, e.g.] instead of the obviously correct COIN. Spelling counts, you know.
  • I had TIME instead of TERM for the [Period]. Just thought you should know.
  • I like the intersecting clues for AGENDAS ([Hidden things, sometimes]) and SECRETE ([Hide away]).
  • I expected something like WELL-DONE for [Past medium], but it proved to be ORACLE. Who would have seen that coming? (Get it?)

Favorite entry = CRAPSHOOT (obvs). Favorite clue = the aforementioned [George I’s I] for ROYAL WE.

And just eleven Post Puzzlers remaining. Sigh.

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword, “Personal Statements”

NY Times crossword solution, 1 11 15 "Personal Statements"

NY Times crossword solution, 1 11 15 “Personal Statements”

This theme type isn’t a new one at all, but I feel like the previous ones have been based on phrases rather than proper names (e.g., COLE’S LAW/cole slaw, the initial S sliding over to become a possessive S for the preceding word). Seven famous people whose last names can be broken into S + {a common noun} get clues to match:

  • 23a. [The makeup affected the appearance of all the cast of “Casino,” including ___], SHARON’S TONE.
  • 35a. [After the 1946 World Series, the dugout was filled with the Cardinals and their happy sounds, including ___], ENOS’S LAUGHTER. Evokes the Joker’s graffitoed truck in The Dark Knight, with the phrase “Slaughter is the best medicine” on the side.
  • 51a. [She said that when it comes to ’60s teen idols, all you need to know is one thing: ___], BOBBY’S HER MAN. Bobby Sherman’s last name gets split into three chunks here.
  • 67a. [The bartender poured beers for all the action movie stars, including ___], SYLVESTER’S TALL ONE. Another three-piece surname.
  • 85a. [The members of the Metropolitan Opera were hit with a host of problems, including ___], BEVERLY’S ILLS.
  • 99a. [At Thanksgiving the Indians were impressed with the Pilgrims and their earth-toned platters, especially ___], MYLES’S TAN DISH. Three three-piece surnames, four two-piecers. Decent balance.
  • 116a. [While trading barbs during the filming of “M*A*S*H,” no one was able to match ___], LORETTA’S WIT.

I like the sound changes in a few of the themers, such as Stallone become “‘s tall one.” And I imagine there are solvers who see this theme emerging and groan, “Not this old thing again.” But I usually enjoy these S translocation themes, and I liked this one.

Ten more things:

  • 5d. [Title woman in a Beach Boys hit], RHONDA. That’s an anagram of “hard-on,” you know.
  • 25a. [Guilty ___], AS SIN. Yesterday we were ugly-assin’  in an puzzle, and today we’re guilty-assin’ all over.
  • 46a. [Grade school subj.], ENG.? Not at my son’s school. They had reading and they had writing. I remember having language arts. English class is for high-schoolers, dammit!
  • 61a. [Break up, as concrete], SPALL. Spalling is a real thing, yes, but I’m a little surprised that British actor Timothy Spall didn’t get the clue, given that there are no proper nouns crossing 61a. He won Best Actor at Cannes last year for his portrayal of painter J.M.W. Turner in Mr. Turner, and may well garner an Oscar nom.
  • 71a. [I.M. sent to a construction site?], PEI. Fell for the trick here—it’s I.M., initials of architect I.M. Pei, and not an instant message.
  • 73a. [Co-founder of the Black Panthers], SEALE. The Panthers hadn’t been founded yet when the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery took place, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put in a plug for you to see Selma (which I saw tonight). Not only is the movie well-done and moving, but its director’s name is Ava DuVernay and crossworders could use a fabulous new famous AVA.
  • 90d. [Marshy region], FENLAND. Apparently the Fens of eastern England are often called “the Fenland” but I can’t say I’ve ever seen this form of the word before. Here’s betting that Martin Ashwood-Smith filled this one in with no hesitation.
  • 71d. [___ John’s], PAPA. Regular Fiend commenter Papa John is not the pizza baron.
  • 63d. [City in Los Lobos?], OSLO. Sort of a cryptic crossword angle in this clue.
  • Liked seeing RAP SHEET, COLD WAR, WHOLE MILK, MONOGAMY, and a glass of BUBBLY in the grid.

Four stars from me.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Anagram Teams” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 11/11/14 • "Anagram Teams" • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 11/11/14 • “Anagram Teams” • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg • solution

Imagine if college sports teams were required to be anagrams of the schools’ names. That’s essentially the premise here. Fortunately, things are kept easy and relatively familiar—or at least traditional—by avoiding those newfangled mass-noun names. All the teams here are plurals ending in S, which in turn requires that all the school names contain at least one S.

  • 23a. [WEST POINT’s lyrical team?] TWIN POETS.
  • 25a. [SACRED HEART’s moony team?] CRATERHEADS. I’m making an editorial decision that that’s a single word; more to follow. Also, that’s a more literal use of ‘moony’ than I was expecting.
  • 34a. [TEXAS LUTHERAN’s hop-happy team?] EXULTANT HARES. Not necessarily loosened up by drinking beer.
  • 51a. [GRAMBLING STATE’s feisty team?] BATTLING GAMERS.
  • 73a. [CLEVELAND STATE’s farm team?] TALENTED CALVES. ‘Farm’ team indeed.
  • 87a. [Team all in a stew for SAINT GREGORY’S?] RAGING OYSTERS. Watch out for the adenoidal bivalves! They woke up on the wrong side of the bed. >rimshot!<  Sorry, just trying to go with the flow here.
  • 102a. [FERRIS STATE’s hot-mouthed team?] FIRETASTERS.
  • 104a. [MINNESOTA’s team of turkeys?] INANE TOMS.
  • 16d. [MACALESTER’s seafood-loving team?] CLAM EATERS. Bivalves again! And also reminiscent of 102a. And while I’m listing, Minnesota at 104a might put one in mind of the professional baseball team the Twins (named for the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul) which in turn hearkens back to 23a.
  • 66d. [SWARTHMORE’s wriggly team?] EARTHWORMS. Best combination of widely-known college and reasonable-sounding team.

Appreciated the uniformity of the theme’s vision and execution.

Recap highlights:

  • “You mean this isn’t the WSJ? moments”: 94a [For face value] AT PAR; 68d [Remove from NYSE] DELIST; 92d [Gilded Age financier Green] HETTY.
  • To go with the OYSTERS and CLAMS, there’s 88d [Pearly layers] NACRES.
  • Not part of the theme: 50d [Philadelphia University] DREXEL; 32d [Game’s first sound] HARD G.
  • Cavalcade of adjectives and adverb ending with a Y: VEINY/GRASSY, MESSY/SNOWY, OAKY/LOONEY, THORNY, AVIDLY, NASTY, NOISY/GLOSSY. Also, there a bunch of y-nouns in-grid.
  • Transcribing typo: 42d [Sistine Chaspel ceiling figure] ADAM.
  • Appreciated seeing the more originalist definition of HACKS. 14a [Techie workarounds]
  • 109a [42-Down’s 78-Down] for a four-letter answer? No one’s going to visit the double cross-reference if they can avoid it by simply filling it in with crosses. Anyway, ENOS is the GRANDSON of ADAM.
  • 33a [P.G. Wodehouse’s Fink-Nottle] GUSSIE. That’s Scottish for a young pig. Not sure where it lies on the chronology continuum from piglet to shoat. In context, however, it’s a nickname for Augustus.
  • Some engagingly clever/punny clues, including: 28a [Baleful place?] BARN, …  …  …, oh, that’s pretty much the only one. Strange. 
  • Least favorite ans.: 83d [Answers, for short] SOLS.

Solid offering, but I won’t be rooting for it as crossword of the month.

Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “D-Activated”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 1.11.15 by Pam Amick Klawitter

LAT Puzzle 1.11.15 by Pam Amick Klawitter

Hi everyone! New year, new me, new puzzle — starting now, I’ll be bringing you reviews of the Sunday LA Times puzzle.

This puzzle, “D-Activated,” takes common phrases and adds a D to one of the words, for comedic effect. Theme entries:

  • 23a, SEVEN YEAR DITCH [Excavation that went on and on?]. From (The) Seven Year Itch, with Marilyn Monroe. This was my favorite theme answer/clue combination.
  • 44a, DRIVER OF NO RETURN [One-way chauffeur?]. From River of No Return, which apparently is another Marilyn Monroe film. It’s not one of the Otto Preminger films I’d heard of.
  • 69a, DART HISTORIAN [Board game expert?]. From “art historian.” I guess darts is a “board game” in the most literal sense. There is a board, and it is a game. Also, I feel like a “dart historian” would be an expert on the projectiles themselves, and a “darts historian” would be the expert on the game.
  • 94a, DANGER MANAGEMENT [Required course for stunt performers?]. Cute answer, I liked it.
  • 117a, ICE HOCKEY DRINK [Stanley Cup filler?]. “Ice” feels unnecessary here, like it was tacked on to make a symmetrical entry.
  • 15d, DAD CAMPAIGN [Effort to get pop elected?]. I think “Pop” has to be capitalized here, don’t you?
  • 68d, LUNAR DROVER [Moon-based cattleman?]. Drover isn’t the commonest of words, so this pun didn’t feel as clever as some of the others.

I liked the theme just fine, and I liked more than half of the theme answers. I feel like there are some gems out there for “add-a-D” that didn’t make it into this puzzle. Off the top of my head: DINNER DEMONS (Those who like to start food fights?)? SINGIN’ IN THE DRAIN (Alternate title for Les Miz?)? REBEL DALLIANCE (Han Solo’s affair?)? There are figuratively infinite possibilities!

But back to the puzzle we’ve got, not the one in my mind. Pretty solid, all told. The theme is consistently inconsistent, which I appreciated: some of the base words’ pronuncations changed (like ANGER –> DANGER; RIVER –> DRIVER), while others’ didn’t (like RINK –> DRINK; ART –> DART); about half the changed words were the first word of the phrase, while the other half or so were the last word of the phrase. The ballast fill is mostly good. PAID IN at 12a sounded weird to me (Coughed up, so to speak). I wanted the partial IT BE for the partial IT GO (“Let ___”). I think the clue was intended to mislead, and I respect it for that.

Some good stuff: “AESOP and Son”, PEN NAMES, IDEOLOGY, TEEN IDOL [Tiger Beat subject] . Some bad stuff besides the aforementioned: UAL, X IS, OON near OONA (pick one [or none!], I say), I REST, ORLE, -CRAT, THOS., CIEL, LIT A, KPS. 

3.25 stars. Until next week!

Bruce Venzke’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.11.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.11.15

Good day, crossword lovers! It’s a full sports day for me, in terms of being on-location (Piscataway, NJ today), so this is going to have to be a real short review. My apologies. Just finished the puzzle in the media room. (Of course, I have my work priorities in order!)

Pretty straightforward grid from our friend, Mr. Bruce Venzke, and it starts off great with the clue for ASPHALT (1A: [Jungle description in a 1950 film noir]). Crazy enough, I initially typed in “regatta” for SEA RACE (30A: [America’s Cup, e.g.]), only for REGATTA to show up later in the grid (37A: [Rowing competition]). I totally knew that the America’s Cup races and the yachts used didn’t involve rowing, but just wasn’t firing on all cylinders just now. The 15-letter entry I liked most was SPARED NO EXPENSE (12D: [Spent whatever was necessary]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SACKS (27D: [Shows the door to])– I think even the non-sports fan knows what SACKS are in the game of football, but where did that term come from to describe the tackling of a quarterback behind the line of scrimmage on a pass play? It came from former L.A. Rams defensive end and Hall of Famer David “Deacon” Jones, who compared tackling the quarterback, as well as beating his protectors, to putting all of them in a burlap back and beating them (sacking them) with a baseball bat. Talk about that for imagery. Sacks were not an official stat in the National Football League until 1982.

Hope you have a good rest of the weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Sunday, January 11, 2015

  1. Jim Hale says:

    The NYT puzzle was a bit too easy for a Sunday accept for the undoable (for me) cross between Original Motown name and Early Mexican (which I think has been in the puzzle before but was not memorable enough to be filed away in my brain).

  2. Martin says:

    Amy says (re FENLAND):

    “Here’s betting that Martin Ashwood-Smith filled this one in with no hesitation”

    Martin says:

    Yep! (and I agree with you about actor Timothy Spall too)

    [Holy crap! I’m agreeing with Amy! Don’t worry… normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.]


  3. Brucenm says:

    Oh Darn!!! Thanks for the enlightenment, Amy. All these years I didn’t know, nor had noticed that, So Help Me Rhonda.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    I.M. PEI clue tickled me too. As for SPALL, I prefer the way it was clued today, vs a person.

    • Brucenm says:

      I also *much* prefer the interesting word to some person. You either have or haven’t heard of the person, (I haven’t), and to my mind, in either case, it’s boring.

    • john farmer says:

      Except when the person is in the news, enjoying a career highlight, and the non-name alternative is hardly a household term. Either way you could have clued SPALL, some people would have needed crossings, but for those who know the actor it would have added a bit of relevance to find him in the puzzle.

      I understand the pushback against an overabundance of names in puzzles, especially when names cross, but I don’t buy the idea that names are always less preferable than other words. As a person, I often enjoy finding people in puzzles.

      • Brucenm says:

        John, I don’t understand your use of the word “relevance.” ‘Relevance’ is a relational term — relevant to what, in what context, for what purpose? The name of the person is a piece of trivia, (using the term in a non-derisive sense), which one either does or doesn’t know. I have nothing against “trivia” in this non-normative sense. But I don’t see what either alternative, (knowing or not knowing the actor), has to do with “relevance.” (Others here make similar points re “relevance”, using the same terminology, to which I demur for the same reasons.) Those of us who populate this site, are, almost by definition, interested in words, linguistic meaning and usage. So I find the use of an interesting, out-of-the-ordinary word, which I was vaguely, (but only vaguely), familiar with, to be interesting and helpful and enlightening, in a respect which is literally “relevant” to our concerns here, whereas the name of the actor is none of these things.

        • Bencoe says:

          But isn’t the word “SPALL” also something that one either does or doesn’t know?

          • Brucenm says:

            Sure; (although there are degrees of certainty as to the meaning of the word.) But (speaking for myself), I find the reference to the meaning of the word *interesting*, and the identity of the actor less interesting. And I reiterate my point re the concept of “relevance.”

        • john farmer says:

          Hi Bruce,

          “Relevance” in the context of what’s going on in people’s lives today. Timothy Spall’s name has come up in at least a couple of times in conversations I’ve had with film friends in recent weeks. I haven’t seen “Mr. Turner” yet, but plan to soon. Since Spall was named Best Actor by a couple of critics’ groups (Natl. Soc. of Film Critics, N.Y. Film Critics Circle), and at Cannes, he’s been “in the news.” Aside from that, he’s had a notable career, appearing in many movies that are popular (“Harry Potter”) and critically acclaimed (from “Secrets & Lies” to “The King’s Speech”). Just a guess, but I’d say he’s probably more on people’s minds these days than breaking up concrete. That’s obviously not true for everybody, though.

          (Btw, you could make the case there were plenty of names already in the puzzle, with the theme answers and others — and apparently that thinking prevailed — but I’d have gone with the actor’s name in this case.)

  5. roger says:

    At first, I thought it was ROHAN.

  6. Norm says:

    I come seeking enlightenment. If you’re solving the Post Sunday puzzle with their app, how the heck do you insert a “3” (or any other non-letter characters)?

  7. ArtLvr says:

    I really enjoyed Sam D’s picking apart all his false starts in the Post Puzzler, since I had to quit several times and return to it later on. The GRAMPUS came back to me at last… Whew!

  8. hmj says:

    In Reagle’s puzzle, why is “strike 3” oxymoronic??

  9. Martin says:

    Timothy Spall is a superb actor, not only in leads, but in character parts too. If you are unfamiliar with him, he’s worth seeking out. I’ve lost count of the number of films I’ve seen him in. As mentioned, “Secrets and Lies” is a good place to start.


  10. Brucenm says:

    I do see that he has an amazing “filmography”, (if that’s a word), and I’m happy to find out about him. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. And it turns out I’ve seen him, unknowingly, several times (e.g. in *The King’s Speech* which I liked a lot.)

    I am uncertain as to whether I will see “Turner,” even though I love the painter. I have read several writers excoriating the film for portraying him as having continually sexually abused a young servant woman, totally in the absence of evidence, (these writers claim), that any such thing ever happened. Of course I don’t claim to be an authority on Turner’s life. But I have had similar reservations about “fictionalized biographies” where the fiction and the biography merge seamlessly and indiscernibly. In some instances this is merely harmless silliness, (as in all the nonsense presented as fact in movies about Beethoven and his “unsterblichte Gelibte”), but in some instances, such as this one, it is potentially more pernicious and troubling.

  11. mickey mcfarland says:

    Regarding the “oxymoronic” nature of “strike3.” When you strike some thing you hit it.
    That’s why in baseball when they call a “miss” a strike, the word is not being used properly. It means the opposite of “hit.”

    Technically, the umpire should say “miss three!”

    • pannonica says:

      Didn’t do the puzzle, but I see the reasoning. However, I believe it’s (also?) technically a strike against the batter in terms of scorekeeping and statistics. And we know that baseball is all about scorekeeping and statistics.

    • hmj says:

      Using your logic, mickey, “strike 3” is not oxymoronic, it is just an incorrect statement!

  12. mickey mcfarland says:

    To hmj: According to Random House Unabridged dictionary:
    “oxymoron” is defined as “a figure of speech by which a locution produces an
    incongruous, seemingly self contradictory effect, as in ‘cruel kindness’ or ‘to make haste
    slowly.'” If we agree that a “strike” means to “hit,” 99% of the time, and baseball uses
    “strike” to signify a “miss,” then “strike3” is most certainly incongruous and self
    contradictory. You are right, however, that it is an incorrect phrase, but all oxymorons
    are technically incorrect phrases.

Comments are closed.