Wednesday, January 14, 2015

AV Club 5:27 (Amy)  
NYT 3:45 (Amy) 
LAT 8:10 (paper) (Gareth) 
CS 33:48 (Ade) 

Caleb Emmons’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 1 14 15, no. 0114

NY Times crossword solution, 1 14 15, no. 0114

Five words or wordish entities that double as Roman numerals are treated as if they’re the numbers here:

  • 17a. [1,009th juice drink?], LEMONADE MIX.
  • 39a. [Four prescriptions?], IV DRUGS.
  • 61a. [40 concert souvenirs?], XL TEE SHIRTS. I feel like T-shirt is markedly more common; perhaps one of you Google Ngram nerds (that is a term of admiration) will look that up and prove me right or wrong.
  • 11d. [501st royal daughter?], PRINCESS DI.
  • 30d. [30 consumer reviews?], XXX RATINGS.

In a cruciverbal world of Roman numeral abuse—your RRNs (random Roman numerals), your YOTPs (year of the pope clues), your woeful Roman numerals wedged in because they help the constructor fill a corner and not because they add cleverness to a puzzle—it’s good to have a purposeful application. Cute theme.

Five more things:

  • 28a. [At the limit, as a credit card], MAXED OUT. Good fill, bad in real life.
  • 33a. [Band with the 1987 6x platinum album “Kick”], INXS. One might also render the clue as [Band with the MCMLXXXVII VIx platinum album “Kick”].
  • Food! There’s a BIG MAC (good entry, not so good intake), CHINESE takeout, SQUASH (clued as the sport), POTATO, corn dog ON A STICK, and LOX. You can use that LEMONADE to wash it all down.
  • 45d. [Bold alternative?], ITALICS. Great typography clue.
  • I figured 1a. [Box-office dud] had to be FLOP, which made 1d. [Island served by both AirAsia and Qantas airlines] plausibly FIJI, and 2d. [Wilson of “Starsky & Hutch”] into LUKE. And then nothing else worked around there, and I realized it was BOMB crossing BALI and LUKE’s brother OWEN. I knew Luke wasn’t in that movie, dammit!

Fill I wasn’t enamored of includes ALCOA, ERG, UTE, ETTE, and HEXA-, but there was no Scowl-o-Meter action while I was solving the puzzle. Four stars from me.

Kameron Austin Collins’s American Values Club crossword, “Themeless #1”

AV Club crossword solution, 1 14 15 "Themeless #1"

AV Club crossword solution, 1 14 15 “Themeless #1”

All that keeps this 72-worder from being an NYT-grade themeless puzzle is ORAL SEX (17a. [It may be protected by a tiny dam]). And it’s so apt that 17a is crossed by a SKOR BAR, which is also sex for the mouth. Mmm, I love crunchy toffee.

Usually I am bored by puzzles with this sort of grid, filled with dull 7-letter words that play well with others, grid-wise. But Kameron (who also has an NYT themeless in the pipeline, and—spoiler alert—I know it’s a juicy one because he ran a version or two by me before submission) nails the 1-Across quadrant with SAT PREP/KUWAITI/ORAL SEX crossing a SKOR BAR and PIXIE CUT. (We’ll not speak of AUREOLE other than to be glad TIE RODS is the only other 7 of its flat ilk.)

Also lively: MR. TOAD and MRS. CLAUS in the same column. IRV GOTTI goes to NINEVEH, modernity meets antiquity. IZZATSO and a MOOCHER, feels old school. RED CLOUD hanging with AL ROSEN.

Top clues:

  • 8a. [Finish the beef?], MEDIATE.
  • 18a. [Addressed one’s followers, in a way], TWEETED.
  • 30a. [Forest part?], IDI.
  • 55a. [Cowboy’s option for bringing down a runner?], RIATA. Appreciate the allusion to the Dallas Cowboys, out of the playoffs owing to karma.
  • 62a. [“The Book of Mormon” song that’s an ode to a city], ORLANDO. 
  • 36d. [Pole woman], MRS. CLAUS.

Did not care for singular SCAD, double-E EEW (I’m an EWW woman).

I like themeless puzzles done well, and I would be pleased to see more themelesses in the AVX mix. Kameron’s style mixes well with the prevailing AVX vibe, and I give this puppy 4.25 stars.

Harald Hornung’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review


I assume given the clues Americans don’t say BLINKING, BLOOMING or FLIPPING. Curious. Not familiar with the term FLIPPINGHOUSES. Apparently it means buying then immediately reselling houses for profit. That phrase is then not the same as the other two. Those two are present participle adjective + noun. FLIPPINGHOUSES is a verb phrase. Probably too subtle to be terribly important, but consider it noted. The other two answers are BLINKINGLIGHTS (initially wondered if BLINKINGLIGHTS was a non-US phrase itself) and BLOOMINGFLOWERS.

A 3-part 14, 15, 14 theme is as close to a blank pallette in a themed puzzle as you can get. The overall feel seems mostly solid, if not overly exciting given the low theme count. AWAG, OSS and IAMA stick out given their position in less than open areas.

Is 1A [Monday night football regular until 1983] universally recognisable? Because that guy – crossing OREL, SAMI & EBAN – could be sticky. I know [Nordic language] SAMI, the preferred self-referring term for most LAPPs, but can see it needing crossers for some. I learnt OREL & EBAN from crosswords, despite the latter being South African by birth.

My write-overs are there for all to see. Blogging after solving in AL, I often forget my write-overs – now I can’t! I had usEd for [Shot up], GREW; in hindsight, for the clue to work for USED it needs a [say] and also Rich is usually less than keen on drug references. My other was DRinkS for DRAFTS as [Round components] – a clearly laid trap if ever I saw one!

2.75 Stars

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Inside New Jersey”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.14.15: "Inside New Jersey"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.14.15: “Inside New Jersey”

Hello there, everyone! Hope you’re doing well, and hope you made it out alright with today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Bob Klahn. Foolish me for initially thinking that the theme may actually have to do with the state of New Jersey. In the grid, each of the three theme answers have CALF hidden inside of the answers, referring to the Jersey cow.

  • TROPICAL FISH (20A: [School whose brightest may come home with you]) – School = group of fish. Took a while to stop thinking about an actual school, though who, outside of their parents, would want their brightest student to come home with them? “You’re not my kid!!” (Yes, a little bit of crass humor, I know.)
  • PHYSICAL FITNESS (38A: [Sound quality])
  • RASCAL FLATTS (58A: [“What Hurts the Most” country pop band]) – The clue that bailed me out of jail in this grid, as I’ll explain to you shortly

Obviously, I knew this grid was going to take a (long) while for me to complete, but, being that I’m pretty sound in my African geography/trivia, that helped me get off to a much better than average start for a Klahn puzzle. SUDAN was something you could have gotten just by staying on top of current events (17A: [Africa’s largest country until 7/9/2011]) and BENIN was one I had better get with me being of Nigerian descent and seeing that country next to it on a map hundreds of times (5D: [Nation bordered by Niger and Nigeria]). To be honest, getting SUDAN first made BENIN a cinch with the last “N” in Sudan being in the middle of the Benin entry. Guessed on O’HARE because of the obvious link to Chicago in its clue (14A: [Airport named after the son of Al Capone’s lawyer]). With all of that in place, and the Northwest pretty much all done (outside of the theme answer), I thought this was going to be a relatively smooth sail today.

Umm, nope!! Every other part of the grid was an absolute slog for me, and only when I got to the bottom the grid and saw the final theme clue was when I finally figured out what theme might be…and I was probably about almost 20 minutes in to solving. I am no country music expert, but I was somewhat familiar with the title used for the Rascal Flatts clue. So I went to each crossing to see if I could get one of them filled in confidently to confirm my Rascal Flatts suspicion. It took until the last two crossings, but filling in ASTERN (52D: [Nimitz’s behind]) and WESLEY gave me the last two letters, TS, and Rascal Flatts was a go (53D: [Snipes at the movies]). That also meant that the theme was a go, seeing CALF in the middle of the clue. If only the rest of the puzzle was that “plug-and-play” for me. I liked the entries of NO CHANCE (42D: [“In your dreams”]) and GURGLE (24A: [Go “glub, glub”]). Was stuck believing that the answer that ended up being EWWW wouldn’t have three W’s (10A: “Guh-ross!”]). Alas, it did! To cap off this review, let’s have a delightful earworm, courtesy of Bill Withers and USE ME (55D: [“I’m available”]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RELAX (32A: [Don’t worry, be happy]) – Or should I say “R-E-L-A-X,” and spell it out, which is what Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers – he of the State Farm “Discount Double Check” fame – said/spelled out to fellow Packer fans during a radio show in Milwaukee late in September. Green Bay, at the time, was 1-2. Since his Frankie Goes to Hollywood-like request, the Packers have won 12 of their last 14 games, and are now one win away from heading to the Super Bowl. For those interested, Green Bay and Seattle meet on Sunday for the NFC Championship.

Have a great day, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


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24 Responses to Wednesday, January 14, 2015

  1. DLand says:

    Hands up for FLOP-FIJI-LUKE.

    • Huda says:

      Same here with flop, FijI, then I got INANE correctly, and invented a LeoN…
      And I had IV DRipS.
      Was PRINCESS DI a royal daughter? All the other answers fit the clue even if the Roman numeral is still included.

      • Ethan says:

        FLOP/FIJI seems to be the theme of the day.

        Agreed re: the DI clue. DI wasn’t the daughter of a royal. 501st royal female would’ve been a better clue!

        • PJ says:

          I did not read Diana Spencer as the princess referenced by the clue. I read it as a generic princess that happens to be the 501st.

          • Gary R says:

            I took the theme to be a phrase that matched the clue when you treated certain letters as Roman numerals, but was still a familiar phrase when they’re treated as regular letters.

            Otherwise, I don’t think XXX RATINGS works, either. Triple-X ratings aren’t typically “consumer” reviews. In fact, now that I think of it, a triple-x rating isn’t really a “review” in the usual sense.

          • Lois says:

            I agree with Gary R. The clue defines the part of the answer that isn’t a number, and the roman numeral gives the familiar phrase. A MIX is not a juice drink either.

    • Howard B says:

      Hands way up here.

  2. Mike D. says:

    I’ve been having trouble accessing the LAT puzzle all week from the Cruciverb site. Has anyone else been having this problem?

  3. David S says:

    I loved this puzzle. I, too, had FLOT and FIJI but then quickly figured out LEMONADEMIX and took awhile to get BOMB. I also had IVDRIPS for the longest time.

    As for the American Values puzzle, just a (horrible) FYI: In the most recent Scrabble dictionary (the one that came out last month), EEW and EEEW are both acceptable! Worse yet, EW is not.

  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: “[P]erhaps one of you Google Ngram nerds … will look that up and prove me right or wrong.”

    Here’s a (better) graph (than the one I posted earlier).

    nb: There are a few pre-20th century results, but they apparently are all OCR (optical character recognition, i.e., scanning) artefacts,

  5. JohnV says:

    Got totally hosed by LAT N.W.

  6. Dave S says:

    I finally got around to DNFing the latest CS from Bob Klahn. If anyone reads this and would please take a moment to explain to me how “Barge trailers?” is a clue to “inon” I would appreciate it.

  7. Dave S says:

    Arrgh. Thanks, Amy.

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