Thursday, February 5, 2015

NYT 3:08 (Amy) 
LAT 8:39 (Gareth, paper) 
CS 13:54 (Ade) 
BEQ 8:22 (Ben) 
Fireball 10:43 (Matt) 

Mike Buckley’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 5 15, no. 0205

NY Times crossword solution, 2 5 15, no. 0205

Okay, this one should have been the Tuesday puzzle and the Tuesday puzzle should have run on Thursday. This puzzle was way easier than both the Tuesday and Wednesday NYTs!

The theme is 15-letter songs, otherwise unrelated, that fit together in an interlocking matrix:

  • 17a. [Sheena Easton hit from a Bond film], FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. Saw her performing this song on the main stage at a neighborhood street fair a couple summers ago. Is it weird that the Northalsted Market Days main stage is in the 7-Eleven parking lot? In its defense, the fair does draw 300,000 people.
  • 37a. [1958 hit by Jackie Wilson], LONELY TEARDROPS.
  • 57a. [1964 #1 hit with a motorcycle crash sound], LEADER OF THE PACK.
  • 4d. [1953 hit for Julius La Rosa], ANYWHERE I WANDER.
  • 7d. [R. Kelly hit from “Space Jam”], I BELIEVE I CAN FLY. Eww, R. Kelly. Not a good man.
  • 10d. [Depeche Mode’s first U.S. hit, 1985], PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. This and 17a are the only songs here that I really know at all. I like my ’80s tunes, yo.

That’s it—just  six song titles that interlock. No further thematic connections, no wordplay. A bit of a let-down, especially on a Thursday when I hope to be challenged more than this. (“More Than This”! More ’80s music, by Roxy Music.)

The folks who prefer not to have too many names in a puzzle may have had a conniption here. I count 20+ people, places, and brand names. This accounts for my Tuesday-grade solving speed—I know names. OTIS and KESEY crossing ICEE and SKYY, okay by me. Probably grumbleogenic for many others.

Five more things:

  • 62a. [Elvis, to Spanish fans], EL REY. Really? Guess so. “El Rey del rock and roll.”
  • 45d. [Online provider of popular study guides and lesson plans], ENOTES. For real? Didn’t know of eNotes. Do I tell my high-school kid?
  • 40a. [Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-___], SISI. You may think the entry is bad because that blank space is affixed to el- rather than being a stand-alone word, but he is called Sisi in the media.
  • 34d. [Guiding lights], LODESTARS. Anyone else have POLESTARS first?
  • 26d. [Movie pizzeria where Radio Raheem ate], SAL’S. Remind me to watch Do the Right Thing, somebody. I’ve never seen it.

3.25 stars from me.

Erik Agard and Amy Reynaldo’s Fireball Crosswords — “Hush, Little Baby” — Matt’s review


The aphorism that children should be SEEN AND NOT HEARD is the basis for this amusing theme. That entry spans the center of the grid, clued as [In the Across answers, what the circled letters should be], and the circled letters indeed spell CHILDREN from top-to-bottom.

What ties that all together? The eight letters are all silent on their acrosses:

9-A [Ukase issuer] = (C)ZAR. Derived from “Caesar.”
13-[Pinky, e.g.] = G(H)OST. Tough clue. From ????T I entered DIGIT, but we’re talking about the Pac-Man ghost here.
20-A [Enterprise officer?] = BUS(I)NESSMAN. You know what the Latvian word for “business” is? Bizness.
27-A [Countries are often in them] = TA(L)KS.
47-A [Free spirit?] = (D)JINN.
53-A [Cleveland Indians pitcher Marc whose nickname is “Scrabble”] = (R)ZEPCZYNSKI. Whoa, I’ve seen eye exam charts with more vowels than that. 40 points in Scrabble, if I’m counting right.
65-A [Carried] = BORN(E).
66-A [Describe] = LIM(N). [Describe crossword writer Julian] would be LIMN LIM.

Snappy theme, with a perfect 15-letter reveal across the center, good title, symmetrically-placed themers, and challenging clues. A completely professional operation.


***The Dakotas section of the grid was the last to fall and added almost two minutes to my solving time. I had ??KI for [___ bar] and put in SAKI. Didn’t seem possible that that could be wrong, but it was TIKI. The evil [Crack in the wall, maybe] for STASH didn’t help; I had AKON and AXON for sure, but ??XI? clued as [Manic ___ dream girl (stock character of movies)] was a mystery. My possibles were TOXIC and MOXIE, but turns out it was PIXIE.

***I was just about to ask you all what the clue and answer to 23-Across meant: WERE clued as [Fus, across the English Channel]. But now I realize that it must be French; I’d misread the clue as referring to the Atlantic Ocean.

***28-D is one of the all-time badass-sounding geographical place names. Next time someone asks you where you live, take a deep, imposing breath, look them square in the eyes, and declare: “I live on the Isthmus of KRA.” Then walk away.

4.30 stars.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Applying Pressure” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 11.20.17 PM
After a few weeks where it’s taken me almost the entire puzzle to figure out the theme, it was really nice this week to have a puzzle where from the title I had half an idea what was going to be happening. Unfortunately, some frustrating fill in the middle of the puzzle kept me from really loving this week’s BEQ.

The theme entries this week were all about, as the title suggested, adding pressure (or more specifically, PSI) to some already familiar phrases:

  • 20A: Getaway spot with three points? – ELLIPSIS ISLAND
  • 36A: Hip-hoppers from Dallas? – TEXAS RAP SINGERS
  • 56A: What some cheapskates give in lieu of bills at a strip club? – TIPS IN WHISTLES

All three of these were really nice finds, even if I tend to roll my eyes at hip-hop artists being called “rap singers” (although I can’t say I have a better term).  Also nice was a reference to rockers EX HEX (14A, an easy clue for me, although my guess is that anyone not super-familiar with Pitchfork or other indie rock blogs may have gotten this one from the down clues) and current Best Actor frontrunner EDDIE Redmayne (9D).

Here’s where it gets frustrating, though.  There were a number of entries and clues for this puzzle that felt trickier than they needed to be.  TATA felt like a logical answer for 29A, but the “I’m ghost” portion of the clue (which I’m assuming is a reference to something I’ve missed) led me to think it was too straightforward until I solved the corresponding down clues.  Other entries that ended up bugging me this week were 27A‘s BIRL (Logrolling competition roll), 40A‘s ROAD SODA (which felt clunky as a phrase, but is a real thing, as a quick Urban Dictionary search proved).  Because my music knowledge, while wide-spanning, is not quite as vast as Brendan’s, I also managed to miss both 48A‘s NE-YO (“R&B artist with the 2015 single ‘Coming With You'”)  and 6D‘s WARSZAWA (Really?  The Polish name for Warsaw?  As fill?  Even with a reference to David Bowie’s “Low” in a parenthetical?).  This is one week where I knew what was going on with the theme, but some frustrating fill left me wanting a smoother solve.

3/5 stars

Victor Barocas’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

lat150205The puzzle today has a bare bones revealer: DETECTOR. The theme phrases all end in words that can fit the pattern “___ DETECTOR”. These words are used in the same sense in the theme phrases as they are in the detector phrases. I think that that’s pretty unavoidable here, it should be noted. Of the detectors, I hadn’t heard of a radar detector, which apparently detects speed traps. The phrases, apart from their literal thematic connection, are quite colourful. We have:

  • [“You don’t look a day over 29,” probably], WHITELIE. I should hope not, I’m 28!
  • [Didn’t come to pass], WENTUPINSMOKE
  • [Flooring phrase], PEDALTOTHEMETAL
  • [So as not be noticed], UNDERTHERADAR

The big (57 letter) theme is all-pervasive. Most of the puzzle is built around accommodating said theme, rather than providing additional pizzazz. The result is an impressively clean grid, but without big “wow” moments.

BritesYou can spot where I got stuck in the top-left. SMOCK for FROCK proved hard to give up. This made CARAFE and PIERRE hard to see too.

Other remarks:

    • 14a, [Palm that produces purple berries], ACAI. Berries only in the culinary sense, as they’re drupes botanically.
    • 22d, [Kitchen-dweller of song], DINAH. Is that the “is there anyone finer, in the State of Carolina” Dinah, or another? I can’t be arsed to go digging!
    • 33d, [Prince in “Frozen”], HANS. A movie that it seems was made for crossword constructors!

3.5 Stars

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bayou Blues”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.05.15: "Bayou Blues"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.05.15: “Bayou Blues”

Hey there, everyone! Sorry this is late, but a hectic travel day has left me just having to post the puzzle, and maybe a little review. Just finished it now, and still don’t really get what the theme is. Probably a joke riffing off of Noah and his Ark and why a certain pair of animals (well, insects) made it onto his boat, and how he could have spared us from the scourge that is the mosquito when loading all of those living creatures. I guess…

  • I’M SORRY THAT NOAH DIDN’T SWAT BOTH OF THOSE MOSQUITOES (17A: [Bayou tour guide’s T-shirt message, part 1]), (39A: [T-shirt message, part 2]), (60A: [End of the T-shirt message])

Was a tougher than usual puzzle for me, being that I never heard of the saying…if it actually is a saying. Loved a lot of the down fill, especially PURSUANT (5D: [Following, with “to”]), FLASH MOB (9D: [Virtually organized crowd]) and SKI JUMPS (40D: [Winter Olympics ramps]). Speaking of ski jumps, I was on top of a ski jump before, and that, more than any time in my life, gave me borderline vertigo! That was scary for me! Originally wrote in “omit” instead of SKIP (1A: [Leave out]), but then, coincidentally, OMITTING was then an answer later on (41D: [Leaving out]). All’s well that ends well, right?!. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BASH (10A: [Spirited shindig]) – In the late 1980s, the Oakland Athletics lineup, consisting of sluggers Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson and Dave Henderson, were known as the BASH Brothers because of their home run hitting prowess. The power-hitting A’s made the World Series in three straight years, winning in 1989 and losing in 1988 and 1990.

TGIF tomorrow!

Take care!


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26 Responses to Thursday, February 5, 2015

  1. Dave says:

    OK, I just got off a plane from California… I had a few drinks. I still thought this puzzle was easy. Oh, and I hate it when there are too many names in puzzles – but, frankly, these weren’t too challenging (other than ARNEL, of which I have never heard).

  2. Mumu says:

    What’s with great 39 down “deal”;see 38 down “ton”
    Arnel, a breeze

    • Evad says:

      A “ton” is a “great deal” of something. I struggled with that as well. My question is how would one use HOSE as “completely con”?

      • Gary R says:

        More familiar to me in the past tense – “He really hosed me over on that deal.”

        • Evad says:

          I guess that wouldn’t be a “great” deal, would it?

          Thanks–I see now “con” is a verb here instead of an adjective (as “against”).

  3. Rick says:

    Ta(l)ks? Just curious, as I pronounce this with the “l”, but then again, I am from the south so it’s more like tawlks :)

    Learned a new word too: LIMN…one for my notebook!

    • Evad says:

      As a northerner, I questioned this a bit as well–it certainly doesn’t rhyme with “tax” to me which one would be left with if one were to remove the (silent?) l.

      That said, I also enjoyed the revealer and how the circles played out. Be interested to “hear” from the constructors which letter(s) of CHILDREN presented the most problem to find as silent in other words.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Erik had most of the theme (the revealer, maybe 7 silent-letter words) when he asked if I wanted to join him in constructing the puzzle. He needed a silent R, and I suggested Krzyzewski. (If you Google lists of words with silent letters, you pretty much come up empty-handed for R.) When we submitted the theme to Peter Gordon, he rejected Coach K, as it’s not as if the K and Z are pronounced clearly there. The whole name is a mangle. Peter came up with the baseball player, and tweaked some of the other silent-letter words. Then Erik ironed out the diagram and did the heavy lifting of filling the grid, and we split the cluing. I think Peter retained many of our clues, but it’s been a few months since we reviewed Peter’s edits (he works well in advance!).

        Note that “busnessman” would also sound different if you spelled it without the I. The silent letter is just one that doesn’t have its sound in a word—it can still affect neighboring vowels and whatnot. Consider every common English word with a silent E at the end—you’d have a short vowel sound instead of a long one without the E.

        • Jim Firenze says:

          Glad you didn’t go with Krzyzewski, since the “R” is not silent, then again, neither is the “L” in talks, so maybe you speak with a foreign accent. ;-)

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            I checked three good dictionaries, and they all list only a single pronunciation for “talk”: tôk (or “tawk”). I think I pronounce the L in walk and talk on occasion, but I wouldn’t say it’s correct or commonly done. (I also pronounce egg as “aig” rather than “eg.”)

          • john farmer says:

            If you say the “l” it is talc, but the “l” is silent in talk.

          • Jim Firenze says:

            Talc? Hehe. Talc has an “ow” sound, while talk has an “aw” sound, as Amy said. Maybe if you’re from the deep, deep south you’d pronounce “talk” like “talc”.

            Of course, people in New England sometimes pronounce “saw” as “sawrl” so maybe I just add the “l” to walk and talk, being from NY. I’ll definitely be listening for it!

            FWIW, if it had been a NYT puzzle, people would be slamming it….

          • john farmer says:

            Yes, the vowel sounds in talk and talc are indeed different. (“I would not have chosen to make this mistake,” he said.)

            I think my point was that there is an l sound in one but not the other.

            Pronunciations change over time. Business, once upon a time, was three syllables, now it’s two. The l in talk and walk has been lost and now the words rhyme with hawk. Words like falcon and falconer haven’t completely lost the l yet, but they’re probably on the way.

            FWIW, if it had been a NYT puzzle, people would be slamming it….

            No need to slam it. It’s a good puzzle. But if you’re suggesting that NYT puzzles are treated differently … don’t get me started.

  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: 62a. [Elvis, to Spanish fans], EL REY. Really? Guess so. “El Rey del rock and roll.”

    But of course the Mexican-American Elvis (since ’77, as it happens) is El Vez.

  5. john farmer says:

    I have to admit I never expected to see journeyman left-hander Marc RZEPCZYNSKI (lifetime 9 wins, 20 losses, 1 save) in a crossword grid. It’s a name even his teammates would have needed every crosser to get. OSI Umenyiora is downright famous in comparison. I assume this means that Amy will never again complain about names in a puzzle. Or baseball. Or sports. Otherwise, congrats on a fine puzzle.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I complain about too many names in a puzzle on behalf of The People. I personally fly through puzzles with lots of names (see write-up of today’s NYT).

  6. Lois says:

    I had fun with today’s NYT. The only song I knew right away was “Leader of the Pack,” which I hated when it was a hit. I’m now Googling the songs one by one, and am enjoying what I’m finding out. What I thought might be the least familiar song to me, “Anywhere I Wander,” (1953) (composed by Frank Loesser), was actually from my very first movie, Hans Christian Andersen (dir. Charles Vidor), which my grandmother took me to when I was two years old and which made me a film fan for life. I adored my 78 of “Thumbelina” and “Wonderful Copenhagen,” and I had no idea that those great songs were written by Loesser until today:

  7. Papa John says:


    “Will Shortz’s Notes:

    “Somehow, over time, Thursday has gotten the reputation of being “trickster” day for the Times crossword. This is when you’re most likely to encounter a rebus, answers that read in unorthodox directions, letters getting entered onto black squares or outside the grid, etc.

    “In truth, though (at least to me), Thursday is just supposed to be harder than Wednesday and easier than Friday. That is all.

    “Today’s puzzle, by Mike Buckley, of North Vancouver, B.C., has about as untricky a theme as you’ll find — three 15-letter song titles Across intersecting three other 15-letter song titles Down. Amazing. How did Mike find this?! All are titles of truly big songs that are familiar to me (although 4D, just barely — that’s a little before my time). The construction is pretty damn clean, too.

    “What makes this a Thursday? Partly it’s the puzzle’s 72-word word count, which is low enough to meet themeless Friday/Saturday standards. And partly it’s that not everyone may know all these titles, in which case they’re not so easy to fill in. Naturally, the cluing level has been pitched to a Thursday level to keep everything in sync.

    “If you like your Thursday themes trickier than this, hang on for future weeks. I’ve got some doozies on the way. But sometimes a Thursday theme can come in a straightforward variety, too.”

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “How did Mike find this?!” Um, he used computers. As he explains in the constructor notes. Those wide-open themeless puzzles are also largely the result of applied computing power—no mystery there.

      The reason solvers associate Thursday puzzles with tricky themes is because Will has been publishing so many tricky themes on Thursdays! And this particular Thursday was not harder than Wednesday’s, it was markedly easier. Played like a Tuesday. 72-word grid, sure, but the fill didn’t feel at all like the stuff we find in a themeless puzzle. No sparkling longer fill aside from the six 15s in the theme.

  8. Andy says:

    Gareth, In the LAT puzzle, Dinah is from “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, where “…someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, someone’s in the kitchen I know-oh-oh-oh…”

  9. pannonica says:

    LAT: 22d, [Kitchen-dweller of song], DINAH. Is that the “is there anyone finer, in the State of Carolina” Dinah, or another? I can’t be arsed to go digging!

    It’s a verse from “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad”:
    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
    Someone’s in the kitchen I know
    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
    Strummin’ on the old banjo!

    Is that a photograph of some dinah-saw that you dug up, Gareth?

    • pannonica says:

      Don’t know why I didn’t see Andy‘s comment, above, before adding mine. Maybe I forgot to refresh the page and let it sit a while before reading.

  10. dave glasser says:

    Fireball: whoops, finished with MINI bar, a not so convincing SMASH in the wall, and the plain wrong ANON. (And ADOM for EDOM.) That, plus the very hard to see COVER A BEAT made this the hardest themed puzzle I’ve done in a while!

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