Sunday, January 18, 2015

NYT 8:39 (Amy) 
Reagle 7:35 (Amy) 
LAT 22:15 (Gareth, paper) 
Hex/Hook 10:51 (pannonica) 
WaPo 14:51 (Sam) 
CS 22:49 (Ade) 

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword, “Changelings”

NY Times crossword solution, 1 18 15 "Changelings"

NY Times crossword solution, 1 18 15 “Changelings”

Joe’s second puzzle in nine days, this one’s got a word-ladder sentence theme. Each themer contains words that change one letter in each step:

  • 27a. [Gigantic sled hauls firewood quite a bit], HUGE LUGE LUGS LOGS LOTS. With a luge technically being a light toboggan for one or two people, well, I guess you could certainly make a giant one that accommodates a lot of logs.
  • 34a. [Domestic worker claimed shifting beach engulfed basin], MAID SAID SAND SANK SINK.
  • 60a. [Friends who have never been to the beach don’t walk by the girl so often], PALE PALS PASS LASS LESS.
  • 67a. [Children show their affection for model Kate above all others], KIDS KISS MISS MOSS MOST.
  • 92a. [Boisterous oaf confused the previous set of actors], LOUD LOUT LOST LAST CAST.
  • 100a. [Mr. Chamberlain intends to top off his gas tank], WILT WILL FILL FULL FUEL. This one doesn’t work for me. “Fill full fuel”? You don’t fill the fuel, you fill the fuel tank.

The inclusion of six 20-letter theme answers locks down a lot of the grid, with about 50 Down answers crossing two of the themers. Felt like there was a lot of crosswordese/repeater type stuff—DEANE crossing ENOS, SAENS and DSCS, SNERT and ILONA, OLIN/OLIO, that ilk. Now, LOUIS CK (88d. [Comedian who said “Every day starts, my eyes open and I reload the program of misery”]) was a nice surprise to find in the grid, but there wasn’t a whole lot else that made my eyes light up.

I’m also wondering why on earth 111a: TEASE was clued as [Coquette]. You can tease hair. You can tease someone by kidding around. Why toss the gendered clue in there?? Merriam-Webster includes this TEASE noun definition: “a person who teases other people; especially : a person who seems to be sexually interested in someone but who is not serious about having sexual relations.” Note that it says “a person.” Coquette, on the other hand, is specifically female. (There is a rarely used male equivalent, coquet. Not sure I’ve ever seen that one used.) And while we’re on the subject, many thanks to the regular reader and commenter who wrote that I’ve shown them they can be more observant about women’s issues (as with casting the stink eye on rape culture’s very own cartoon skunk, Pepe Le Pew). It means a lot to me.

3.4 stars from me. How’d you like the puzzle?

Mike Nothnagel’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 250”–Sam Donaldson’s review

The Post Puzzler No. 250 (solution)

The Post Puzzler No. 250 (solution)

There is a lot to admire in this week’s 70/27 Post Puzzler from Mike Nothnagel. Nothnagel is synonymous with quality freestyle puzzles. Can we make it an adjective? A great freestyle can be “Nothnagelly.” Say it aloud–it’s catchy.

Though they may not have overt themes, freestyle puzzles often contain subtle connections. I found four in this puzzle:

  • It helps to know your constructor. Mike is a co-author of “Math for the Professional Kitchen.” So the culinary bent to this puzzle comes naturally. We have IRON CHEF AMERICA, the [Food Network show featuring the Chairman], a yummy SCONE, the [Item served with clotted cream], a PEEL, the [Negroni garnish, for one], and a RICER, the [Tool used to prepare potatoes]. We can even include the clue for SPILT, [Tumbled out of a tumbler?]. Heck, maybe even EYE CANDY, clued as [People’s Sexiest Man Alive, e.g.]. Well okay, maybe not that last one.
  • There’s also a PG-13 vibe here, with a SWINGER, the [Participant in a key party], Bob SAGET, the [Author of “Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian”], SNOT (though clued as an [Insolent kid]), and Anais NIN, the [Writer who referred to her simultaneous marriages as a “bicoastal trapeze”]. Good stuff, but luckily I don’t solve with my nine year-old.
  • So many great multiple-word entries, like GO STEADY ([Be part of an exclusive deal?]), ADMIT IT ([Confessional order]), DO IT NOW ([“Get a move on!”]), and NICE ONE ([“Way to go!”]).
  • And then there were the clues that required very careful parsing. [Experienced feedback?], for instance, reads like a verb-noun tandem. But only when you see it as an adjective-noun team do you understand that it refers to the feedback given from one who has experienced something already: I HAVE. Brilliant! [Lava might be put on it] falls into this camp too, though admittedly I figured out early on that “Lava” referred to the soap brand, since one wouldn’t dream of placing magma on something. So SOAP DISH didn’t take too long to suss out.

SCIS and ARR aside, this was a terrific puzzle.

Favorite entry = CARRY ME, the [Tired child’s plea] . Favorite clue = [Something to fall back on?] for DAYLIGHT SAVINGS. But what are we supposed to fall back on in just 11 weeks, when the Post Puzzler No. 261 doesn’t happen?

Patrick Jordan’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.18.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.18.15

Good morning, CrosSynergists! Hope you all started your day with a good breakfast. About to have some buttermilk pancakes as we speak. Score!

Our Challenge today, provided by Mr. Patrick Jordan, made me think less of pancakes and orange juice this morning and more about another “normal” breakfast order: an EXTRA LARGE PIZZA (51A: [Takeout order that may feed the whole family]). I started pretty slowly in the puzzle, and that happened because I insisted that the answer to the first clue would be “gotcha” instead of BUSTED (1A: [“Caught you red-handed”]). Why did I insist on “gotcha?” Probably because I say that word way too much, mostly when I want to tell someone that I understand what they have just said to me. Anyways, I left the Northwest but still had a tough time getting started with the puzzle. First two answers I filled in were the intersecting entries of HER (40A: [2013 Spike Jonze movie]) and HEMAN (40D: [Many a Stallone character]). Slowly and steadily got into a flow after that, even including getting GALAXIE from just the “X” (34D: [1959-’74 Ford model]). Loved the clue to SEÑOR after first trying to find the relation to the two characters outside of their Looney Tunes ties (36D: [Yosemite Sam, to Speedy Gonzales]). I don’t think those two characters were in the same episode. I now know that there’s more than just the ASTORIA in the Queens section of New York (13A: [Oregon city named after a furrier]).  Definitely the first time I’ve ever seen SEERESS, whether in a crossword or in any other platform (36A: [Foretelling female]). Other than the oddness of seeing seeress, I absolutely would say that Mr. Jordan was DOING A BANG-UP JOB in putting this grid together (16A: [Performing splendidly]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SECONDS (27D: [Shot clock units])– Another reason why Syracuse, New York is an awesome city?  Because the shot clock for basketball was invented there, when the owner of the Syracuse Nationals NBA franchise helped the league to adopt the shot clock, set at 24 SECONDS, in 1954. To this day, the NBA still uses a 24-second shot clock. Interestingly enough, it took men’s college basketball more than 30 years from the time the NBA first implemented a shot clock to fully adopt a shot clock in college, as it was officially introduced by the NCAA in 1985.

Hope you have a good rest of the weekend, everyone!

Take care!


Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Sounds-Like Fun”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 1 18 15 "Sounds-Like Fun"

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 1 18 15 “Sounds-Like Fun”

A straight-up pun theme, with a set of entirely unrelated puns. I think this is one of Merl’s periodic “clearing out the stash of theme entries” puzzles, gathering puns he likes but that never sorted themselves into other thematic sets of puns. That is not a criticism, mind you, just a statement.

  • 25a. [What my fish-frying neighbor calls himself?], THE GODFATHER OF SOLE. James Brown is the Godfather of Soul.
  • 31a. [Parts played and sung by Harry?], CONNICK SECTIONS. Conic sections, in math.
  • 56a. [Beard-darkening product?], MENNEN BLACK. Men in Black.
  • 61a. [Comment heard as an embroidery shop burns down?], GOODBYE, CREWEL WORLD. Cruel.
  • 68a. [“So, Tarzan, where does the king stash his scepter?”], UNDER THRONE. Underthrown. Less fun than the other puns.
  • 86a. [Girl heading out to sell cookies?], BROWNIE IN MOTION. Brownian motion, mathy/sciencey like conic sections. I figure Merl had those two together but never scrounged up enough other nerdy puns to flesh out a full theme.
  • 95a. [“Hey, longshoremen! Keep it down!” for example?], PORT NOISE COMPLAINT. Portnoy’s Complaint.

The central answer at 61a is 18 letters long, so the grid’s 20 squares wide instead of 21. Except for the THRONE one, I liked all the puns. Good ones, not tortured, all clean sound-alikes and not, say, sound changes or letter changes.

Now, with seven theme answers, no stacking of themers, I might’ve expected somewhat zippier fill. I liked BIG-CITY, Sears CRAFTSMAN, TALISMANS (there’s no duplication with the -man portion there—the Greek/Arabic roots are unrelated to the -man root), and COHABIT (which I solved when I had the last four letters and figured it was a blah three-word phrase, do something A BIT. Just COH A BIT, you might find you like it. Haven’t you ever cohed?). Most of the rest of the fill was in the ordinary to blah (ERTE, LRON) range. No ugly trouble spots with bad crossings or anything, though, so a fairly smooth solve.

3.75 stars from me.

Henry Hook’s CRooked crossword, “Across Word Puzzle” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 1/18/15 • "Across Word Puzzle" • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 1/18/15 • “Across Word Puzzle” • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

The title plays on one of the meanings of the prefix trans-, ‘across’. Other major senses are ‘beyond’ and ‘so as to change (in form or position)’. Said prefix is added to extant phrases so as to change their form, taking them beyond their original meanings.

  • 26a. [“Mayday!”?] RESCUE TRANSMISSION (rescue mission).
  • 30a. [Loan officer?’] TRANSACTION FIGURE (action figure).
  • 51a. [Felines on the move?] TRANSFERAL CATS (feral cats).
  • 62a. [Old kings carriage?] COLE TRANSPORTER (Cole Porter).
  • 74a. [Subway spokesmodel?] THE TRANSIT GIRL (the “It” Girl, i.e., crossword favorite Clara Bow, though it now has a more general application. nb: this is not an appropriate gender-neutral construction.)
  • 94a. [Change “underpants” to ““sous-vetements””?] TRANSLATE BLOOMERS (late bloomers).
  • 98a. [Well-camouflaged snare?] THE TRANSPARENT TRAP (The Parent Trap).

feral_rouecheI like the results for most of these themers, so I call it a success. The first and last pairs of entries have significant overlap. What’s the proper way to calculate it? 14/21 = 67%, or (14+14)/(18+17)=80%? Either way, it’s significant, right?

Brief notes:

  • 73a [Tattered and torn] RATTY, 92d [Run-down] SEEDY.
  • 28d [Highlander] SCOT, but unrelated cluing for 76d GAEL [Actor __ Garcia Bernal].
  • Fill that looks very weird indeed: ORSOIM, SUELYON. (13d [“__ told”] OR SO I’M, 92a [“Lolita” star] SUE LYON.)
  • 37d [Cartoonist Lee] STAN. I believe this is incorrect. He’s a comic book writer and editor, which I don’t think is synonymous with cartoonist. Wikipedia tells me he was co-creator (with artist Jack Kirby) in 1963 of the X-MEN (46a [Storm, Rogue, et al.], though those two (female) characters first appeared later, in 1975 and 1981 respectively). X-MEN crosses 46d [Case for Mulder and Scully] X-FILE; see also 114a [Boomers’ babies] XERS.
  • Favorite clues: 34a [Baby-shower gift] CAR SEAT; and I guess 33d [What you will?] ESTATE, in light of the presence of 101d [Part of BTAIM] AS IT (be that as it may). Least fill, by a wide margin: 62d [Inhabitant (abbr.) CITizen.

Good crossword, about average, but not transcendent.

something strange?

something strange?

Meryl Jackson’s LA Times crossword, “Chlorination” — Gareth’s summary

LA Times 180115

LA Times

Chlorination – once you read the title, you know the theme is “add Cl”, right? Then it’s just a case of puzzling out the answers themselves. The best were CLIMAXTHEATER (would’ve had a different clue in the AV Club) & the two Cl CLINCHBYCLINCH – an echo from Julian Lim’s ADDTWOCENTS puzzle earlier this week. In full, we have TOEACHHISCLOWN, CLAIMTOPLEASE, INDIACLINK, CLOVERHAUL, CLIMAXTHEATER, CLINCHBYCLINCH, CLEVERGREEN & CLICKFACTOR (does that work without a ten?)

At the end of a 21x puzzle, all the clues and answers tend to blur for me. I know I battled with LALANNE (tried PALANCE) and that the crossing of MAUD and DYAN gave pause. Are ALPO & IAMS rivals in the States? Here one (ALPO) is cheap dog food the other is expensive cat food (I think they have a dog food range in the States though…) [Lab regulation?], LEASHLAW was a cute clue that I can remember.

3 Stars

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23 Responses to Sunday, January 18, 2015

  1. JohnV says:

    Loved the Times puzzle. Thought the South, LOUISCK spot was a bit off but the rest was fun and pretty easy. Looks like Joe has Sunday under his belt.

  2. Davis says:

    Thought the Times puzzle was okay. I agree that the last themer was a clunker. And the theme answers unraveled far too easily once you figured out what was going on.

    LOUIS CK was a nice piece of fill (the tone of the quote was a dead giveaway if you’re at all familiar with his work, though). I hope we see more of him in puzzles soon.

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    “But only when you see it as an adjective-noun team do you understand that it refers to the feedback given from one who has experienced something already: I HAVE. Brilliant!”

    Yeah, really clever. The Post Puzzler does it again.

    “100a. [Mr. Chamberlain intends to top off his gas tank], WILT WILL FILL FULL FUEL. This one doesn’t work for me. “Fill full fuel”? You don’t fill the fuel, you fill the fuel tank.”

    Cut Wilt a break. He’s very tall, the air gets thin up there, and lack of proper oxygen is known to cause grammar confusion. I liked the ladders.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: made me chuckle. It was pretty easy, which I appreciate once in a while, when I don’t want to spend too much time on the Sunday puzzle. Somehow, it felt more like a game than the pun puzzles, so more fun.

  5. PJ says:

    I enjoyed the word-ladder. I also thought a luge was a small vehicle for hauling wood. The PALE PALS clue/answer made me think of Ipanema. Aaah!

  6. AV says:

    Had to look up etymology of KONG.

    In Hong Kong [Wikipedia]: From an irregular romanization of Cantonese 香港 (Heung1-gong2, “fragrant harbor”)
    As the name Kong in King Kong [babynamespedia!]: The name Kong means sky.

    Despite the above, was a little delayed in filling King ___ , after seeing Hong Kong in a clue.

    Damn you Krozel! (Fun and fast puzzle once you figured out the shtick)

  7. Doug says:

    Please leave us an option to use the old format for Fiend. Thanks.

  8. Gareth says:

    I’ve always wondered, given Merl’s location and taste in puns, whether he’s run into punny author Piers Anthony?

  9. Karen says:

    Not being a math/science person,
    I had no idea about “Brownie in motion” was about and thought “Connick’s sections” referred to “comic sections.” And I wanted “Godfather of sole” to be “Codfather of soul.” Alas…

    • TammyB says:

      I filled in some of the puns without a clue of what they referenced (math/science ones) but I actually filled in “Cod Father of Sole” with glee, patting myself on the back.

      Boy…did that errant “C” ever throw me for a loop because I refused to let it go… ;-)

  10. Norm says:

    Merl’s was at least twice as good as Joel’s. Laugh-out-loud puns versus boring/meaningless word ladders.

  11. Johnm says:

    Reagle..I thought “underthrone” referred to “on the throne”

  12. mickey mcfarland says:

    I just recently began doing the NYT puzzle again. I have been doing Merl Reagle’s Sunday crossword since the early 70’s. My newspaper is the Phila. Inquirer. My problem is that the Inquirer is a week behind with the NYT puzzle. Sunday’s 1/18/15 puzzle was “Personal Statements,” which was dissected on this website last Sunday (the 11th). Have to see if I can get the the Inquirer up to speed so I can enjoy discussing the NYT puzzle at the same time Amy does.

    Anyway, so much for my life story……

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hi, Mickey. The papers that run the NYT Sunday puzzle in syndication aren’t allowed to run it live—they’re always a week behind. And the daily puzzles are more like five weeks behind in syndication!

  13. mickey says:

    Thanks Amy. I didn’t know that. Is there a way I could download the NYT puzzle
    that you do each week? I would prefer not to have to subscribe to the NYT just to get
    the puzzle.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      For $39.95 a year, you can subscribe to the NYT’s premium crosswords service. You can solve the next day’s puzzle beginning at 10 pm Eastern (6 pm on Sat/Sun), either downloading a copy of the puzzle or solving online, and you can download about 20 years’ worth of archived puzzles and become truly obsessive. $40 is more than any of the other online puzzle subscriptions, but it’s a heckuva lot cheaper than getting the newspaper.

  14. David S says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle; along with my (now) fiancée, it took just 15 minutes or so, and we weren’t rushing. The ladder (theme) clues made the puzzle super easy. I wonder if a lot of people set personal best times on this one. The FULL FUEL answer was unfortunate, but the rest were quite solid and fun, and I didn’t mind the occasional crossword-ese because the puzzle was generally so easy. Too easy, perhaps, but it was a nice change.

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