Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NYT 4:41 (Amy) 
AV Club 4:14 (Amy) 
LAT 9:00 (Gareth, paper) 
CS 10:11 (Ade) 

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 3 11 15, no. 0311

NY Times crossword solution, 3 11 15, no. 0311

Neat theme: The RED CROSS is represented by being crossed by something else that’s red—a ROSE—and there are four more red crosses in the puzzle. RARE MEAT crosses MARS, the Red Planet; NAIL POLISH (often but certainly not always red) crosses a RADISH; CHILI crosses a BRICK; and a STRAWBERRY intersects MERLOT. Perfect symmetry for the theme answers, which I assume are circled just to make the thematic RED CROSS angle more visible.

Seven things:

  • 1a. [Ladylike], WOMANISH. Note! Not exactly synonymous. WOMANISH connotes “eww, this is like something a woman would do” as if anything a woman does is inferior to what a man does. Don’t call your grandmother WOMANISH if you know what’s good for you.
  • 30d. [One who’s beyond belief?], ATHEIST. Love this clue.
  • 12d. [Purse item], NAIL POLISH. I suppose there are people who routinely carry nail polish in their purse, but I’m not sure I know any of them. If that glass bottle should happen to break inside your bag, everything in there is trashed.
  • 35a. [“___ is to console those who are broken by life”: Van Gogh], ART. Deep.
  • 43a. [It goes from Carndonagh to Skibbereen], EIRE. I was guessing this would be some obscure Irish river rather than Ireland itself. Am fond of Ireland and have Irish ancestry, but I’ve never seen either of these place names before. Less than 5,000 in the two towns combined, though they do have familiar Irish name endings.
  • 17a. [Something that’s just not done at the dinner table?], RARE MEAT. Underdone rather than taboo. Wonder how many people filled in BELCHING here.
  • 14d. [“Tom,” entirely, in Morse code], DAHS. When it comes to your Morse code DITS and DAHS in crosswords, I have only MEHS in response.

I liked finding PROSPERO and “BUT WHY?” in the grid, but was less enthused about OPA-LOCKA, ESSO, SKAT, and the aforementioned DAHS. Mostly smooth fill despite the high theme-entry count. 4.2 stars from me.

Francis Heaney’s AV Club crossword, “Remixed Singers”

AV Club crossword solution, 3 11 15 "Remixed Singers"

AV Club crossword solution, 3 11 15 “Remixed Singers”

I solved the whole puzzle without having any idea what the theme was, and still it was a quicker solve for me than the Wednesday NYT. With Francis’s byline and the 4/5 difficulty billing, I was expecting to need 6+ minutes to solve. Pieced together the theme afterwards: One-word performer’s name is anagrammed and appears before the name of one of their hit songs.

  • 20a. [Princes and princesses of a certain age?], OLDER ROYALS. Lorde.
  • 27a. [Dealt with a Sisyphean yard chore?], RAKED FOREVER. I gather Drake has a “Forever.”
  • 46a. [James Bond, at his most chivalrous?], SPY GENTLEMAN. I gather Psy followed up “Gangnam Style” with “Gentleman.”
  • 56a. [Try to wake up an Oz robot?], SHAKE TIK TOK. Tik-Tok is from L. Frank Baum’s books, not the Wizard of Oz movie; I presume I was not the only one to put in TIN MAN here. “TiK ToK” is a Ke$ha song; note that after leaving rehab a year or two ago, she dropped the $ and started going by Kesha.

This theme’s not for those who don’t follow contemporary pop at all. The oldest songs in this theme are from 2009. The TIKTOK one is where I cracked the theme, as the song is far better known than the Oz robot. The other three song titles are ordinary words, so less suggestive of “Hey! That’s a song title.”

Five things:

  • This is my car a few days after the Super Bowl snowstorm, after the plow came through.

    This is my car a few days after the Super Bowl snowstorm, after the plow came through.

    32d. [Follows the advice of Saul Goodman’s license plate], LAWYERS UP. Call Saul, or Jimmy McGill. I’ve only gotten two episodes into Better Call Saul and though I only saw the pilot ep of Breaking Bad, I took to it instantly. Watch it!

  • 11d. [Like androids that follow the Three Laws of Robotics], ASIMOVIAN. Asimovian is a word?
  • 12d. [Song version such as “Forget You” (better known as “Fuck You”)], RADIO EDIT. Good entry.
  • 25a. [Like new-age remedies, to the skeptical], WOO-WOO. I like this one too. Please add homeopathy to my woo-woo list.
  • 1d. [Snowplows may bury them], AUTOS. Indeed.

We seldom see the crosswordese rivers (YSER is here) in the AVX. We get ETA all the time in all the puzzles, but this is the friendliest ETA clue there is: 43a. [“What’s your ___?” (“When can I expect you?”)]. I like it.

Four stars.

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Flying the Coop”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.11.15: "Flying the Coop"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.11.15: “Flying the Coop”

Good day, everyone! Short and quick review for today, as my March Madness begins today (will be in three different states in the next week for work). Today’s offering, from Mr. Bruce Venzke, uses common phrases and relates them to breaking out of the slammer with its clues. Let’s make a break for it, shall we?

  • WE ARE BUSTING OUT (20A: [Prison-break leader’s call to cohorts])
  • THE COAST IS CLEAR (38A: [Leader’s next encouragement to cohorts])
  • HEAD FOR THE HILLS (53A: [Leader’s final exhortation to cohorts])

Liked the intersection of SOMBER (5D: [Quite serious]) and MOPE, though I now feel a little bad that I like an intersection that’s all about feeling down (18A: [Sulk]). BROWS is definitely correct as it’s clued (plurally), but what about those who have a unibrow (1D: [Facial features])? Not making fun of those who have connecting eyebrows at all, trust me. Where is ZAHN these days (63A: [Newswoman Paula])? At last check, I think she was hosting a show on Investigation Discovery. Oh, and is OH OH really what it says in its clue (15A: [Cry of concern])?? As an utterance an elementary school student would make when raising his/her hand when knowing an answer, I definitely could see. As a cry of “satisfaction,” I can definitely see that as well (um, sorry for the visual/audio I just gave you). As a cry of concern? Well, I guess so. ‘Uh oh’ is definitely more of a cry of concern, at least in my mind.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RFK (29A: [___ Stadium (home of D.C. United]) – Not only is RFK the home of DC United, it was the initial home of the Washington Nationals before moving to Nationals Park, and the home of the Washington pro football team from 1961-1996.

Once again, a short and sweet post turns out to be the length of what I usually post! But, trust me, I’ll be limited in the next 2-3 weeks with hopping around different basketball arenas. Hope you stay patient with me!

See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Thomas Takaro’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times 150311

LA Times

Even without the mysterious classical music jargon, it’s quite obvious what the theme is doing: WHOLE, HALF, QUARTER, EIGHTH. I didn’t like how 1A opens with “See 67A”. So WHOLE, HALF, QUARTER, and EIGHTH go with NOTE at 67A. They also make a defined theme, one context out of many of which is NOTEs. It’s also weird that 1A tells you to go to 67A, but 67A says nothing about 1A – broken link! Apart from EIGHTHAMENDMENT, which seems a tad desperate, as amendment goes with all of the low ordinals, the answers themselves are all good. WHOLEWHEATBREAD, HALFMARATHON, and QUARTERHORSE complete the series.

Stuff and nonsense:

  • MOONCATANTIQUES2194 Red_roses_for_me[Mandela’s org.], ANC. As a work colleague remarked to me recently, it’s painful they way Mandela’s contemporaries’ contributions have been marginalised. For the entirety of the fight against apartheid, the ANC was led by Messrs. Lutuli and Tambo.
  • [Rats, gnats and brats], PESTS. Great use of bathos!
  • [Goldman’s son-in-law and partner], SACHS. Nice extra info clue!
  • [Coastal bird of prey], ERNE. It’s been said before: this is not a word people use when referring to a White-tailed Sea-eagle. It’s obsolete. Lough Erne however is still called Lough Erne. It’s a lot bigger than Loch Ness, but lacks even a suggestion of a monster.
  • [Woman in a “Paint Your Wagon” song], ELISA. Fancy naming someone for the enzyme-linked immunosorbency assay!
  • [Repeat symbol, in scores], DALSEGNO. All crosses. I assume I wasn’t alone here. It fits the flavour of the revealer though. It’s followed by [“Be Silent”, in music], TACET.
  • [South Carolina’s ___ Beach], MYRTLE. You know, I only read Carolina now going through the clues. I read “California” at the time – hence MUSCLE.

3.25 Stars

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26 Responses to Wednesday, March 11, 2015

  1. It probably doesn’t make a whit of difference in this case, but the print version of David Steinberg’s New York Times puzzle has shading rather than the circles used in the Across Lite edition that Amy solved. Cute puzzle theme with deft execution, prolonging the enjoyment even after it was clear what was going on.

    • Deb Amlen says:

      Yes, the web version is shaded as well. The reason that Across Lite has circles is because it does not accept shaded squares, so circles are used to highlight them instead. It’s a third party program, so we do not have any control over how the program presents the puzzles.

  2. Ethan says:

    That’s as good fill as you’re going to see in a puzzle like this. I had BUT MOM for a long time instead of BUT WHY. I don’t think I would clued BUT WHY as something a whiny child says, I hear whiny adults say it all the time.

  3. Jeanie says:

    I too expected “mom,” “dad” or “pop” where “why” was.
    I don’t think I’ve even heard of carrying nail polish in one’s purse.
    I’m reading “McCarthy’s Bar” by Pete McCarthy, and Skibbereen comes up a lot.
    I couldn’t get the letter where 56-across and 57-down meet.

  4. Avg Solvr says:

    Good NYT but let me play the nitpicker: Nail polish isn’t always red and chili is mainly brown.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      And chicken chili can be lighter in color, no?

      I did acknowledge that nail Polish is often not red in my first paragraph. The large majority of nail polish available is in all the other colors, though it’s possible that red outsells any other single hue.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        Oops, I missed that you mentioned that about nail polish. Not sure I know what chicken chili really is other than chili with chicken rather than beef and I have seen reddish chili before which I’ve always thought was due to a high tomato content.

        • pannonica says:

          And bricks aren’t always red. All of them are arguable. None of these seem critical to me. We’re talking idioms and mental associations.

    • Gary R says:

      Chili might have worked better if it had been clued as the pepper rather than the dish. Then it would have been more in the vein of nail polish – often, but not always red.

  5. Margaret says:

    The LAT was pretty flat for me. I felt like the theme was both easy and stale, and some of the music answers (like DALSEGNO) were complete unknowns (not helped by the fact that I’m having trouble understanding how THESE is the answer to “what we have here.”) I didn’t love ASSAI/ASSAM or ERNE/AEON/ANC/GDR/RNA/ETTE/ATRIA or MULETEER. All in all, disappointing, sorry to say.

  6. PJ Ward says:

    AVC – I don’t know a thing about contemporary pop yet this was a quick one for me. I guessed that the theme answers were anagrams of first and last names. The clues led me to the correct entry more than usual. I enjoyed it.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Memo to: Francis Heaney, Ben Tausig, and all crossword constructors and editors

    Re: AIWA

    The Aiwa brand name was bought by a Chicago startup that’s launching a Bluetooth speaker business.

  8. golfballman says:

    Amy you know how I hate to nag, but when will the Hex/Hook of March 1st be up?

  9. Gareth says:

    Well WOMANISH could’ve been WOMANISE, but I don’t think that would’ve made many more smiles. In general, a quite impressively filled puzzle, given the nature of the theme!

  10. JohnV says:

    Not a clue on AV. None.

    Loved LAT, Gareth.

  11. Gareth says:

    You may get a post at some point. My normal 300kbps is running at about 5. Posting from phone.

  12. PJ Ward says:

    LAT – Gareth, not sure what you meant about the eighth amendment but all amendments seem pretty important with the Bill of Rights having the added cachet that Jefferson and Madison provide. Protection from cruel and unusual punishment is hardly global. You’re correct in that the first and second amendments consume a solid majority of the oxygen with the fifth taking most of the rest.

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