Sunday, March 1, 2015

NYT 8:43 (Amy) 
Reagle 8:13 (Amy) 
LAT 6:25 (Andy) 
Hex/Hook tk (pannonica) 
WaPo untimed (Sam) 
CS 25:33 (Ade) 

Finn Vigeland’s New York Times crossword, “Noted Anniversary”

NY Times crossword solution, 3 1 15 "Noted Anniversary"

NY Times crossword solution, 3 1 15 “Noted Anniversary”

If you watched the Oscars last weekend, it likely did not escape your notice that The Sound of Music (movie version, not stage or TV) is celebrating its 50th anniversary (on March 2). The New York Times crossword division does not have the budget to bring Lady Gaga on board, so instead we have a puzzle by Finn Vigeland, complete with musical-note rebus squares. As the notes rise musically, so too they climb ev’ry mountain within the grid, running DO RE MI FA SOL LA TI DO (I’ve circled them) from corner to corner. The puzzle’s rounded out with trivia basics:

  • 24a. [Setting of 118-Across], SALZBURG, AUSTRIA.
  • 31a. [Star of 118-Across], JULIE ANDREWS.
  • 49a. [Opening lyric of 118-Across], THE HILLS ARE ALIVE. If that isn’t also the title of a horror movie, I’ll be sorely disappointed.
  • 68a. [Duo behind 118-Across], RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN. A perfect 21-letter relevant answer.
  • 91a. [Honor for 118-Across], BEST PICTURE OSCAR.
  • 108a. [Family upon whom 118-Across is based], THE VON TRAPPS. A wee bit of a stretch, making “the Von Trapps” into a crossword-worthy phrase, but you gotta get the family name into this theme somehow.
  • 118a. [Movie that opened on 3/2/1965], THE SOUND OF MUSIC.


I have a few “notes” of my own:

  • 13a. [1958 space monkey], GOR{DO}? Never heard of him. Poor squirrel monkey died owing to mechanical parachute failure. (Enos the chimp was a few years later; he died of dysentery.)
  • 60a. [Important factor in a crossword tournament], {SOL}VING TIME. Likely the first time this phrase has appeared in a crossword.
  • 97a. [Narnia girl], SUSAN. I had the -AN in place and really wanted ASLAN. There’s a Susan in the Narnia stories?
  • 122a. [Superdietary, informally], NO-CAL. Junky entry, that.
  • 7d. [“The culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music,” per Tchaikovsky], MOZART. Nice quote.
  • 28d. [Something a trypanophobe fears], NEEDLE. How did I not know that? The parasite trypanosome gets its name from the Greek for “borer” and “body.” Trepanation is a cognate. It is a darn good thing that I am not a trypanophobe.
  • 75d. [Luzón, por ejemplo], ISLA. I don’t care for this Spanish “por ejemplo” in the clue. The Filipinos booted the Spaniards out and while ISLA is one of the words they use for “island” (Tagalog also has pulo), you know what the Tagalog equivalent of “for example” is? It’s halimbawa. People! Keep your Spanish language hands off the Philippines. They have two official languages—Tagalog and English—and 19 recognized regional languages, none of which is Spanish. Also, in Tagalog, you don’t need that Spanish accent mark on Luzon’s name. #pinaybymarriage
  • 73d. [Little songbirds], TITS / 80d. [Hooters], OWLS. A different clue for OWLS might have been nice.
  • 87d. [Sicilian border?], CRUST. Is this about lava or pizza?
  • 88d. [Flight from danger], HEGIRA. We would also have accepted HEJIRA.
  • 102d. [Hookup in bed?], IV TUBE. When I had just the -UBE in place, things were looking weird. No, no LUBE here. Move along.

The fill is pretty solid considering the rebus theme on top of seven long themers. The occasional NYER or MDXI or ENGR is there, yes, but I didn’t hit the skids anywhere while solving. Four stars overall.

Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Say What?”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 3.1.15, "Say What," by Pam Amick Klawitter

LAT Puzzle 3.1.15, “Say What?,” by Pam Amick Klawitter

This is Pam Amick Klawitter’s second LAT Sunday in the past two months! The humor’s all in the clues for this one: It’s an entertaining twist on common two-word phrases whose last word is some sort of remark:

  • 22a, PASSING COMMENT [“I got a C”]. Probably more breakfast-appropriate than “I farted.”
  • 37a, LIFE SENTENCE [“Edison was born in 1847 and died in 1931]. His obituary might have been a PASSING COMMENT. (Funny enough, though there are dozens of clues for OBIT that include the word “passing,” I can’t find a single clue that uses it in combination with “comment.” Maybe “passing remark” is more in-the-language?).
  • 67a, BANK STATEMENT [“This is my fishing spot–please find your own”]. If the interlocutor in this scenario decided to go down to the docks, they might end up issuing a PIER REVIEW. Haaaaaaa (I slay me).
  • 96a, ORGAN RECITAL [“Heart, liver, kidneys…”]. I fell asleep before they got to “thymus.”
  • 117a, PRIVATE MESSAGE [“I survived boot camp!”]. “I survived boot camp!”, Tom said privately.
  • 16d, SUMMARY JUDGMENT [“That’s the worst synopsis I’ve ever read!”]. I expected this one to be SUMMARY DISMISSAL for some reason, but I like SUMMARY JUDGMENT a lot better.
  • 45d, BURNING QUESTION [“Do you know how to copy this disk?”]. A much more innocuous meaning of “burning” than I’d’ve gone with, but still a lovely clue.

I thought these were all genuinely funny. PASSING COMMENT might not actually be in the language, but it didn’t strike me as strange until I looked up the OBIT clues, so I’m gonna give it a “passing” grade. It’s not flashy or elaborate, but nevertheless a big thumbs-up from me on the theme.

The fill is what you’d expect in a Sunday grid, mostly. IDK was a bright spot for me, and there were a few other things like SANTA FE, LOGJAM, and KNIEVEL that kept my interest. [Bad flareup?] for ARSON was nice, and I always like seeing India ARIE. I didn’t care for ME BE, ECCLES., XTS, AERI, STYRO, CRTS, TACS, EL NINOS plural, and ABR. 

Really nice theme, okay fill: I’m giving this one 3.75 stars. Until next week!

Frank Longo’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 256”–Sam Donaldson’s review

The Post Puzzler No. 256 (solution)

The Post Puzzler No. 256 (solution)

Training for this month’s ACPT continues. I’m solving six puzzles a day in preparation for the Saturday regimen. I continue to pay no attention to my exact solving time. I’m working as quickly as I can, sure, but with a commitment to accuracy over all else.

I have no clue if this will actually affect my overall standing in the tournament. I’m starting to think little things like getting sufficient sleep the night before and going into the ballroom relaxed will matter much more. But since I can’t do anything about those factors now, I’m focusing on what I can do now, and that’s solving puzzles.

I took a break from paper solving to solve this week’s Post Puzzler electronically. I probably should have paper-solved it, but I’ve just done six other puzzles that way, so the change in format was welcome. Since there are only four Post Puzzlers left after this one (sigh), I’m guessing this will be the last Frank Longo freestyle I’ll solve for a while; that is, unless I break down and buy another installment from his great collection of craniumcrushing crosswords. Too bad, too, because this was another fun solve.

The upper-left corner fell very quickly. It helped to know Katarina WITT as the [Olympic skating gold medalist before Yamaguchi] and the HO-HO as the [Swiss Roll look-alike]. Anytime you can get the first two letters of the crossing Downs, you’re on Easier Street.

I continued down the west side, getting LAWN CHAIR as the [Fireworks watcher’s bring-along, often], then the crossing THIRD WHEEL, the [Potential date spoiler]. I then proceeded to the triple-stack in the northeast. The usual strategy there, of course, is to parse the shorter crossings and then use pattern recognition to suss out the long answers. But the short stuff didn’t give me much–maybe LEST as [Out of concern that], COLA as the answer to [Buzz on “The Simpsons”], and KNEW as [Was up on]. Yet that yielded more ending letters than starting letters. Whenever that happens I’m reminded of Merl Reagle’s observation that solving from the end is much harder than from the beginning. In other words, for instance, one is more apt to solve a nine-letter entry with the first two letters in place than the last two letters in place. Preach, Brother Merl.

Luckily, I eventually saw SPELL-CHECK as the answer to [It reveals character flaws] (great clue!). And since that gave me the first letter for seven unknown Downs, things soon got easier in that corner.

I turned then to the southwest, where the only two gimmes were MOVIE MOGUL ([Goldwyn or Mayer, e.g.]) and UTE, the Pac-12 [Rival of a Beaver, Cougar or Duck] (oh my!). When I finally realized that GAY describes [Like most of Logo’s audience] (Logo the television channel), I could see (no pun intended) that GOO-GOO EYES was the answer to [They’re made by the moonstruck]. And from there the rest fell without much ado.

The southeast was the last to fall, primarily because I never knew until now that NEAR could also mean “miserly,” making it an acceptable answer to [Stingy]. Oh, and it didn’t help that I kept wanting BARONY instead of BARONS for the [Peer group]. And here I thought was so clever for seeing through the use of “peer” in the clue.

Other tidbits:

  • Just in case you too were confused with how [Buttermilk, for example] clues STEED, Dale Evans’s horse was named Buttermilk. You’re welcome, solvers under age 60.
  • I TRE Porcellini is, I take it, the Italian version of “The Three Little Pigs.” See for yourself here.
  • Yep, I was flummoxed by the clue, [Stripes on a Fudge Stripes pkg.]. Nope, it was not CHOC. It was the UPC.
  • Is the [14th letter of the Spanish alphabet] really ENE (what you know as “n”)? I thought “ch” and “ll” were also considered letters, making “n” in fact the 16th letter. Curiouser and curiouser.

Favorite entry = SOUTH KOREA, but maybe that’s because I also liked the clue, [Where won may be won]. Favorite clue = [Most popular decade?] for TOP TEN. Honorable mention to [It might produce sound waves] for a YACHT making waves in a sound.

Randolph Ross’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 03.01.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 03.01.15

Ok. Seriously. Enough with the snow!

Good day, everyone, and welcome to March. And, for those in the New York Metropolitan area, we’ve been welcomed to the month that starts spring by… more heavy snow. Well, at the very least, it’s a pretty sight when looking out the window while doing today’s crossword sitting on the couch. Mr. Randolph Ross provides today’s Challenge, and immediately was up to cracking this five 15-letter entries in the puzzle. Actually had a tough time getting into a solving groove with this, and didn’t get my first entry until finding the slam dunk clue for GERE (23D: [Richard of “Chicago”]). Immediately after that, I saw GREY open up for me, then I finally could build on something (23A: [Joel or Jennifer]). And once I got STREET VALUE, just from the ‘r’ in the ‘Grey’ crossing, I knew I was going to be on a little roll after that (18D: [Cost on the corner]). Loved that clue, and was on to it in a split second. The rest of the grid was fun to fill in, even though I stupidly put in North Vietnamese instead of SOUTH VIETNAMESE, making the Southwest tougher to untangle than it should have (53A: [War-torn people of the 1960s]).  Was a fan of all the 15-letter entries, and knew that the Secret Service was the organization in question – just had to add “US” to make US SECRET SERVICE (35A: [Org. created in 1865 to prevent counterfeiting]). Oh, and from the description in the clue, it looks like I won’t PARA-SKI anytime soon (8D: [Go downwind, then downhill]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HATTER (19A: [Madman of fiction])– Short and sweet: a HATTER, among other things, is a collegiate athlete that plays at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Stetson Hatters, huh?! Slick, I guess!

Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone! See you on Monday! 

Take care!


Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “You Can Say That Again”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 3 1 15 "You Can Say That Again"

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 3 1 15 “You Can Say That Again”

Between sleep and reading and working and movies (aka life), I didn’t get a chance to blog this till now. So briefly: Theme hinges on words with two entirely different pronunciations/meanings.

  • 21a. Request for more Novocain?, NUMBER, PLEASE. Numeral vs. “more numb.”
  • 29a. Result of too many orders in the garment district?, THE SEWERS ARE BACKED UP.
  • 41a. Thumbelina?, MINUTE MAID.
  • 46a. What hockey would be like without the speed and the action?, PUTTING ON ICE.
  • 61a. What crossing the Delaware in 1776 must have been?, QUITE A ROW.
  • 68a. What fishing students may take?, BASS NOTES.
  • 84a. “How They Get Graphite Into Pencils”?, THE LEAD STORY.
  • 87a. Sonogram?, BABY SHOWER.
  • 98a. Evidence of my state of mind as I sign my tax return?, TEARS ON THE DOTTED LINE.
  • 112a. Play a violin without rosin, perhaps?, BOW AND SCRAPE.

Liked the theme more than the fill, which seemed to have rather more partials than usual (OR THE, NOT WAR, A PAR, NORTH TO, A TREE, MY ACT, TO ERR, etc.) along with bits like Varnish resin, ELEMI. Five things:

  • 94d. Nitwit, in Italian, IDIOTA. Not basic everyone-knows-these-few-Italian-words vocab, but a clear cognate.
  • 112d. Music deg., B.S.M. Really? A “bachelor of science in music” degree? Not sure that is really a thing.
  • 67d. Purple-dye city, TYRE. Purple dye? This is Phoenician trivia I was lacking.
  • 10d. Song of 1850, “Santa ___, LUCIA. An … ancient Neapolitan song? Unknown to me.
  • 30d. Maugham’s Thompson, SADIE. Also unknown to me.

Four stars for the theme, 2.5 for the fill; call it 3.25 overall.

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16 Responses to Sunday, March 1, 2015

  1. Dave says:

    I had a typo in the Sunday Times. The “typo” makes as much sense as the right answer. I had FLAP and TAPE instead of FLAK and TAKE…

    Oh well.

    • klew archer says:

      Came to post that I put exactly the some letter in that square.

    • Matt says:

      Mee too. That little block was the last to fall.

      Good puzzle overall. I was impressed when I discovered that the notes were in order along the diagonal.

    • Gary R says:

      TAKE and TAPE seem pretty interchangeable to me. I think FLAK is a better fit for the clue than FLAP. If you get too much FLAK from someone, it might lead to a FLAP, but I don’t think “Complaints” are necessarily a FLAP.

  2. Adam Nicolle says:

    Congratulations to Finn in getting into the Indie 500! He’s a great constructor.

  3. bob says:

    Beware the ides of March, Merl. Sunday was your nadir! Sophomoric at best.

  4. tammyb says:

    Re Reagle: I scratched my head over that Music degree too, but perhaps he meant “Bachelor of Sacred Music” degree, which is an actual BSM offered at Bible colleges, not Bachelor of Science, Music (which so far as I can tell doesn’t exist.)

    • Elise says:

      I think Bachelor of Science in Music used to exist. I had no trouble with that because I think it was my dad’s degree back in the 50s. B.S. was the degree for a lot of things, no matter your major, and we joked about it. Better than B.M., I guess! :-)

  5. mickey says:

    This regards last week’s NYT puzzle “flip flops” since my newspaper is a week behind,
    I just got the puzzle on 3/1/15.

    Anyway, clue #53A…”Point at the ceiling?” Technically, stalactites hang from the ceiling and point to the ground, while stalagmites are anchored on the ground and point to the ceiling. Ergo, the answer is incorrect. Does anyone remember “Up go the mites and down go the ‘tights'” as a way to keep them straight? My dad told me that over 50 years

    • pannonica says:

      The clue can only be cogently interpreted as the “point” that is at the ceiling. To treat the “at” as indicative (and “point” as a verb) rather than locational would require a verb as the answer.

      Growing up (so to speak) my mnemonic was that stalagmites originate from the ground and stalactites from the ceiling.

  6. mickey says:

    I strongly disagree. My un-cogent interpretation tells me that stalagmites and stalactites both come to a “point” at their respective “ends,” and therefore a stalagmite would “point at the ceiling,” Additionally, it makes perfect sense. Just because an answer fits the puzzle doesn’t make it correct. If, as in your interpretation, “point at the ceiling” means the spot where a stalactite would begin to form is an extreme stretch. It’s entirely possible, and probable, that the puzzle constructor made a mistake. Maybe he forgot his mnemonic. ‘ve discovered many mistakes in both clues and answers over the years.

    • pannonica says:

      No, not the point where the structure would begin to form, but where the entire thing is located. Stalagmites are ground-based formations and stalactites are ceiling-based structures (at least we agree on this).

      It seems that you’re processing [Point at the ceiling(?)] to mean “the object that points toward the ceiling”, which, simply stated, is not what it says. Another possibility is that you’re reading it as a verb phrase, “point{ing} at the ceiling,” or similar conjugation. That also cannot be interpreted to indicate the structure, the thing, that is a stalagmite.

      Just because your desired answer doesn’t fit the puzzle doesn’t mean the clue is incorrect.

  7. Bencoe says:

    I’ve found that when someone claims to have found a “mistake” in the NYT crossword, it’s usually because they are being far too literal-minded.

Comments are closed.