Thursday, February 26, 2015

NYT 5:27 (Amy) 
LAT 10:49 (Gareth, paper) 
CS 10:32 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:48 (Ben) 

Dave Sullivan’s Fireball puzzle is a contest crossword, with answers due by Sunday evening. Watch for a write-up of the puzzle Sunday night or Monday.

Caleb Emmons’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 26 15, no. 0226

NY Times crossword solution, 2 26 15, no. 0226

Phrases ending with “half ___” have those ends represented by the first half of the final word:

  • 17a. [Coin first minted in 1964], KENNEDY DOL. That’s the Kennedy half-dollar.
  • 54a. [Signaling remembrance, in a way], FLYING AT MA. At half mast. Only on ships, if you want to be a stickler. Half staff is for land-based flagpoles.
  • 10d. [Acting rashly], GOING OFF COC. Half-cocked.
  • 24d. [Occasion for a much-hyped performance], SUPER BOWL TI. Halftime.

That works. Solid conceit, executed well.

Ten things:

  • 31a. [Crazy place?], FUNNY FARM. At least some dictionaries label the term “offensive.” I know someone who’s in a hospital psych unit right now and it sure is no laughing matter.
  • 36a. [Tabloid nickname of the ’80s], JACKO. And also the ’90s and beyond, no?
  • 38a. [Company with a lot of bean counters?], STARBUCKS. Good answer.
  • 43a. [Eponymous Soviet minister of foreign affairs], MOLOTOV. “What are you drinking, Vyacheslav?”
  • 48a. [Soap star Deborah], ADAIR. Never heard of her, as she wasn’t on the ABC soaps I watched back in the day.
  • 60a. [Six crayons in a Crayola 64 box], REDS. Not sure if this clue is cute or loathsome.
  • 3d. [Southern city that calls itself “America’s First Settlement” (1559)], PENSACOLA. Geo-trivia I didn’t know.
  • 26d. [___ mundi], ANNO. “Year of the world”?
  • 13d. [Tried to catch some fish], EELED. By “some,” they mean “some very specific types of fish, unlike the finned fish typically sought by anglers.
  • Lots of pop culture names in the grid. Works for me.

Could’ve done without: ESS, LEO I, FUNNY FARM, ADAIR, EELED, dated ELYSE.

Four stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Here’s the Kicker” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 11.25.11 PM

I don’t know about you, but I’ve really been enjoying the latest run of BEQ Thursday puzzles.  This week’s is no exception – even though I have rudimentary knowledge of major sports players, I found a lot to like in this week’s puzzle.

From the title of the puzzle, “Here’s the Kicker”, it was a pretty easy guess that each set of circled letters would reveal a SOCCER STAR (58A).  Luckily, Brendan picked ones I (mostly) knew and others I could figure out from their accompanying across/down clues:

  • 18A: TIMES SIGNS (“Product Symbols” – I kept trying to make this TRADEMARKS with no luck)
  • 23A: GRAPE LEAVES (“Stuffed Middle Eastern restaurant appetizers”)
  • 36A: SHAM MARRIAGES (“People enter into them for green cards, sometimes”)
  • 51AMONEY MARKETS  (“Mutual fund vehicle”)

Elsewhere in the puzzle, there was a lot to love in the clues and fill.  54A‘s SNOCAP managed to trick me longer than it should have (I kept trying to make KERNEL work for “Movigoer’s morsel”), and the answer I kept trying to make work for 37D‘s “Apres-shoveling treat”, HOT TODDY (instead of the correct HOT COCOA) probably speaks more to how I treat myself after dealing with all the snow we’ve received in Boston.

The indie music nerd in me was happy to see Haim get a shoutout in 13D‘s clue for SISTERS, since that album was one of my favorite finds last year.  9D’s “Target path?” was a clever bit of wordplay to get AISLE, and 17A‘s “Flavor in some decadent cheesecakes” was an equally refreshing clue for the all-too-common OREO (side note: I make a really tasty Oreo Cheesecake cookie.  The recipe for those is here.  You have been warned.)

All in all, lots of great variety to the fill (and plenty of new cluing for the parts that were less fresh).  Here’s hoping BEQ keeps on this streak even longer!

4/5 stars

Mike Buckley’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review


LA TImes

I found this concept interesting, but slightly wonky – on two counts. Firstly, not only do the three things have FALSESTARTS, but their entirety is FALSE. Secondly, a FORGEDCHECK and a COUNTERFEITNOTE are very similar examples of false things. What else could have gone there? FAKEDORGASM? No, nevermind. I didn’t say that. ARTIFICIALGRASS? Is artificial close enough to false though? Any better ideas? Anyway: a FORGEDCHECK is fraudulent; a TRUMPEDUPCHARGE is fabricated; and a COUNTERFEITNOTE is fake.

The theme itself isn’t that difficult, but the grid design and clueing was enough to ratchet it up to typical Thursday fare. I ended with a guess at 2d/30a. I guessed correctly, but an A didn’t look wholly implausible. Double checking, I now see why. LEONORa does seem to be the more used rendering of the “Fidelio” woman, at least in crosswords.

Now for some reason this is a 29/72. As I said this grid design does push the difficulty up a bit. Apart from that I don’t see much benefit. It is well-managed, but the overall effect was of more medium-length answers, but for the most part not particularly interesting ones. POOBAH is fun, and EPHESUS appealed to the ancient geography nerd in me. The shorter fill was still better than yesterday despite a much steeper filling curve! ANOUT is the one outlier in that regard.

Not a lot more to remark on.
2.5 Stars

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Escape Plans”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.26.15: "Escape Plans"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.26.15: “Escape Plans”

Good day, everybody, and I hope all is well with you! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is all about breaking out of the slammer…by actually, literally, breaking up slammer! In other words, five of the theme answers also happen to “break up” words that are synonyms to jail, with the sixth theme answer, JAIL BREAKS, being the reveal (63A: [Con jobs? (and a hint to 17-, 26-, 33-, 41-, and 53-Across)]).

  • CLINT BLACK (17A: [“A Better Man” country singer]) – Jail “broken”: CLINK.
  • PIANO KEY (26A: [One of 88 on a Steinway]) – Jail “broken”: POKEY. So if Gumby’s horse committed was arrested for a crime, Pokey would spend time in the pokey, huh?
  • PETE FOUNTAIN (33A: [Famed Dixieland clarinetist]) – Jail “broken”: PEN.
  • PRETTY POISON (41A: [1968 Anthony Perkins psychological thriller]) – Jail “broken”: PRISON.
  • STALE AIR (53A: [Result of poor ventilation]) – Jail “broken”: STIR. I think I heard this term a couple of times on British television, maybe.

This was a puzzle in which I didn’t notice the theme until about a minute after the puzzle was done, even after filling in the reveal. Was looking to see what was “broken,” but looked in the middle of the entries and didn’t bother to look at the extremes to start. As for more observations in the grid: would you hold it against me that I am in no way familiar with a CLARK BAR (11D: [Butterfinger rival])? I’m pretty sure I know my brand name candy bars past and present, but this has/had seemed to elude my consciousness. Even when I had “—RKBAR,” I was like, “(What) bar?” Power to some famous women in the grid, with LENA OLIN (38D: [“Enemies, A Love Story” actress]), THARP (7D: [Choreographer Twyla]) and Ms. Erica Kane herself, LUCCI (8D: [Susan of “All My Children”]). And as for earworm alerts, you won’t get any better than listening to WYNTON creating sweet melodies on his trumpet (70A: [Jazz trumpeter Marsalis]). As a matter-of-fact, he easily could have been our “sports…smarter” subject today, as he played the National Anthem before the start of Super Bowl XX in New Orleans in January of 1986. But our sports subject of the day is…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KILLER (2D: [“Totally awesome!”]) – One of my favorite all-time hockey players, Hockey Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour played as a center in the National Hockey League for 20 seasons, most notably for the Calgary Flames and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gilmour’s nickname during his playing days was KILLER, because he wasn’t afraid to bang his body around on the ice despite being only 5-foot-10. In 1989, he helped lead the Flames to the Stanley Cup, scoring 22 points in 22 playoff games for the eventual champions. “Killer” was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.

TGIF is almost here!  Have a great day, ladies and gents!

Take care!


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

17 Responses to Thursday, February 26, 2015

  1. Zulema says:

    “Solid, executed well”? There’s no accounting for tastes. I could just repeat what I posted yesterday, not that I expect much from a Thursday. Tomorrow is another day, to steal a cliché.

  2. SEMINOLE SAM says:


  3. EB says:

    Agree re FUNNYFARM; maybe it’s just because I work in the field and am sensitive to it, but almost all NYT references to mental illness rub me the wrong way. Seems like a lot of ‘LOCO,’ ‘BATTY,’ etc. (Of course I’m too lazy to actually look them up).

  4. Howard B says:

    This one killed me, half because I was unfamiliar with the phrase at 10-D, and it was the first theme I uncovered; so I could not for the life of me figure out what the heck I was looking at. Nice theme idea, nice execution, and I have no reason to criticize at all – but this one just didn’t hit the sweet spot for me.
    Then again, not everyone likes cilantro either. Certainly doesn’t make it bad (please don’t go on a tangent on that – it’s just one of my horrible metaphors).

  5. Papa John says:

    May I just say this: Enough, already, with the metas and having to wait a week for the answers. I had to get that off my chest.

  6. Papa John says:

    It’s interesting to see the transformation of FUNNYFARM from a euphemism to an insult. So many words around psychology have taken that path.

    Are they still called insane asylums? I think the one at Camarillo, in California, is called a State Mental Hospital. Wikipedia tells me that some are called “psychiatric institutes/hospitals”. At times, they were officially called “madhouses” or “lunatic asylums”. The first mental institute in Virginia was called the “Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds”. I suspect that “insane” will soon become offensive.

    Remember the “moron, imbecile, idiot chart”? It still works for me to help sort out the loonies on Fox news…talk about a FUNNYFARM!

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      …and “bedlam” was originally “Bethlem Royal Hospital, London hospital first to specialise in the mentally ill and origin of the word ‘bedlam’ describing chaos or madness” .


      • pannonica says:

        (The Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem. “Bethlehem”, from Middle English Bedlem, from … Hebrew Bethlehem)

        What I did not know: the present-day West Bank town is called Bayt Lahm.

  7. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Yes, “Anno Mundi” = “year of the world”, reckoning by the Biblical genealogy to modern times. So we’re now in the year 5776 of the Jewish calendar = 5776 Anno Mundi.

    And it’s Vyacheslav Mikhailovich to you. (Insert superannuated joke about Mazel Tov cocktails at a bar/t mitzvah.)


    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      Correction: we’re in still in the palindromic year 5775 Anno Mundi; the square year 5776 won’t start till Rosh Ha-Shanah in mid-September.

  8. dbs says:

    Ade—I’ve been missing the solutions to the Washington Post crossword. When will they return?

    • Hey there dbs,

      Sorry for the late post, but I just posted the solution and review of today’s puzzle. At least that’s what I think you were looking for, unless you’re talking about the move to a subscription model on the Washington Post website for the puzzles (no longer supporting .jpz downloads). Amy addressed that on Tuesday’s post, and goes into more detail.

      Might have overthought this and you might be just referring to today’s grid! (I tend to overthink things a little…ok, maybe more than a little.)

      I hope I answered your question sufficiently, dbs!

  9. Avg Solvr says:

    Liked the video. Good to see one up here.

Comments are closed.