Friday, March 20, 2015

NYT 6:10 (Amy) 
LAT 10:57 (Gareth, paper) 
CS tk (Ade) 
CHE 4:58 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 11:20 (pannonica) 

Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 3 20 15, no 0320

NY Times crossword solution, 3 20 15, no 0320

Tough for a Friday puzzle, no? I wanted PIRATED at 13a for too long, which derailed me. And 16a BIG YEARS doesn’t feel like a familiar, in-the-language phrase in the plural. [Prime times]? You can have a big year, full of lots of successes, but BIG YEARS sounds off.

Favorite bits:

  • The MICKEY MOUSE/SMARTY-PANTS is a nice collision in the middle. MICKEY MOUSE as an adjective is something I associate with my 8th grade algebra teacher who used the term dripping with disdain.
  • COMEUPPANCE and MISS MANNERS beside those other two, also lovely.

Did not know: 32d. [When repeated, Thor Heyerdahl book], AKU. Really?? I guess it’s better than having RA I foisted on us as the presumed name of the Heyerdahl craft that preceded Ra II, but less familiar than the Kon-Tiki craft/book title.

Five more things:

  • 36a. [Spaghetti western persona], LONER. I guess I don’t watch any spaghetti westerns, because the clue seems oddly over-specific to me.
  • 47a. [Tin alloys], PEWTERS. In the plural? Does that work?
  • 1d. [Reese’s field], EBBETS. Brooklyn Dodgers, right? I wanted this to be a rebus with PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CANDY DELICIOUSNESS.
  • 6d. [Nature’s pacifiers?], TEATS. Slightly … creepy.
  • 7d. [Spinning], AREEL. Regular people say “reeling.” At least its neighbors are ROAR and ON TIPTOE rather than AROAR and ATIPTOE.

What is this, a 66-worder? Good flow throughout the cloverleaf grid. Overall vibe … I’m gonna say 3.8 stars.

Mary Lou Guizzo’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Frame Job” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 3/20/15 • "FRame Job" • Guizzo • solution

CHE • 3/20/15 • “Frame Job” • Guizzo • solution

This was an unusual solving experience in that revealer was exceptionally, immediately, startlingly … revelatory. Uncharacteristically, I’d noticed the title, then the first part of the revealer and in passing made vague assumptions about the theme. But it wasn’t until the grid was completely filled and I revisited 36a [Like some eyeglasses … or  like this puzzle’s grid] HORN-RIMMED—that I actually appreciated what it was all about. The frame—that is, the entries comprising the perimeter of the grid—are words that can each precede horn. It has so little do with eyeglasses! The revealer and the title are both perfect.

  • 1a. [London weather phenomenon, stereotypically] FOG.
  • 4a. [DeSoto or LaSalle, e.g.] CAR.
  • 7a. [Momentous] BIG.
  • Platycerium_bifurcatum10a. [Subwoofer’s output] BASS.
  • 13d. [Burden (with)] SADDLE.
  • 46a. [Ski-report word] POWDER.
  • 64a. [“__ on the G String”] AIR.
  • 63a. [View from Lake Como] ALP.
  • 62a. [Teton Range herd] ELK.
  • 61a. [Protracted] LONG.
  • 43a. [Wing, in 26 Down] FLÜGEL. This was the only notably aberrant answer among the themers. Had the crossword been presented as a meta, undoubtedly this is the answer that would tickle most solvers’ antennae and provide their entry to the secret.
  • 1d. [Language in which “Carmen” is most often sung] FRENCH.

Good assortment of answers. Musical instruments, general sound-producers, animal features, structural features, etc. Some overlap among them because, let’s face it, they are all ultimately related.

Those eight across themers impart a less-than-ideal fractured quality to the grid, but it’s a small price to pay.

  • 20a [Tried to move about unnoticed, as a shamus] GUMSHOED. I’ve not seen or heard it as a verb before, but it seems plausible. Okay, Ngrams substantiates it. Also, shoehorn!
  • 40a [Road Runner sound effect] BEEP-BEEP. There’s a persistent minor controversy whether it’s beep-beep or meep-meep. Also, 4-across!
  • 33a [Discover accidentally] HAPPEN ON, which in this context seems a lot less common than happen upon.
  • 28d [Williams on the “Footloose” soudntrack] DENIECE. Also, a French-derived adjective for referring to your sibling’s daughter.
  • Did not, not care for the crossing of 49a [Quintillionth: Prefix] ATTO- and 49d [The Blue Devils and Demon Deacons play in it: Abbr.] ACC. Nasty. 50a [49d sch.] UNC is inferable if you know Duke—or whatever the other team plays for—or that the A stands for Atlantic. But it doesn’t do itself any favors.
  • Acceptable amount of crosswordese, abbrevs., partials. This things are more or less unavoidable, to some extent.
  • Those paired, stacked 7-letter entries running down in the center look so odd. Thank or blame the 16-column format.
  • 8d ITUNES is an anagram+T of 35a IN USE. Kind of interesting, maybe.
  • 38d [Colombia-Venezuela border river] ORINOCO. And not an Enya to be seen!
  • 44d [Prickly plant that attracts goldfinches] TEASEL. Also spelled teasleteazel, and teazle.


Very nifty crossword. Liked it a lot.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150320

LA Times

This theme is more creative and unusual than most LA Times puzzles, where safe is the watchword. SPLITPEA, unusually for a revealer, found in the bottom-left, implies that 5 two-word answers with the pattern “*P P*” share their adjacent P’s. Note that other P’s occur in the puzzle which do not follow that pattern – these are ignored. The 5 are STRI(P)OKER, CAM(P)ENDLETON, PO(P)SYCHOLOGY and KEE(P)OSTED going across, and TRI(P)LANS going down. POPPSYCHOLOGY is a great answer in anyone’s book!

myrforsAnother unusual grid arrangement: long 123437674downs and a central line of 5 “black” squares. Strangest clue angle: [Tough test metaphor], ABEAR. Most unusual uninflected form: [Denounce unmercifully], SCATHE. Three-part phrase mini-theme: GETABITE, HADAKID. Clue most likely to mystify: [Grey area], OLDWEST. That’s Zane.

3.75 Stars

Daniel Landman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fantabulous Edutainment” – pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/20/15 • "Fantabulous Edutainment" • Fri • Landman • solution

WSJ • 3/20/15 • “Fantabulous Edutainment” • Fri • Landman • solution

The title could describe crossword puzzles in general, but here refers to this one’s thematic content. The central revealer explicifies™ it: 66a [Type of word found twice in each of the six longest answers] PORTMANTEAU.

  • 23a. [Advice to one who spends an inordinate amount of time at the office?] CHILLAX, WORKAHOLIC (chill, relax, work, alcohol).
  • 38a. [Site for devotees of crossbreed dogs?] LABRADOODLE BLOG (Labrador, poodle, web, log).
  • 89a [Mechagodzilla, essentially?] GINORMOUS CYBORG (giant/gigantic, enormous, cybernetic, organism). I’m not enough of a Japanese monster maven (kaijuxpert ?) to know if that descriptor is accurate.   … (some time passes) …   Okay, fine. Checked at Wikipedia. It seems that the Millennium/”Kiryu” version of Mechagodzilla (appearing in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS) is a “a true cyborg, being a machine built over organic matter, the DNA-enhanced computer systems the mech sported (and the spirit of the original Godzilla)”. Well then, that settles it.
  • 106a. [Periodical dedicated to a supercouple?] BRANGELINA FANZINE (Brad, Angelina, fan(atic), magazine).
  • 16d. [Synthetic fashion accessory for guys?] PLEATHER MANBAG (plastic leather, man, handbag). “Manbag” seems a bit dodgy—could it be simply manbag, in which case it’d simply be a compound word? Are compound words a subset of portmanteaux?
  • 48d. [Joey and Chandler’s relationship on “Friends”?] SITCOM BROMANCE (situation, comedy, bro(ther), romance).

Level One: portmanteau words. Level Two: phrase mash-ups. Works for me. Didn’t spot any others elsewhere in the puzzle, which is good.

  • RAS4451101_800

    Close enough to periwinkle. Doesn’t the crayon ‘tip’ resemble a dunce cap? No doubt this is marketed as “Sexy Crayon costume”.

    103d [Spice akin to nutmeg] MACE. Very akin, as it’s the same plant. Nutmeg is the seed of Myristica sp., while MACE is the lacy aril that surrounds it. Clue partially dupes 61a [Flesh and blood] KIN.

  • Another duplication: 58a [No longer on deck], which I thought was going to be nautical, is UP TO BAT; 77d [Leading indicator?]
  • 87a [Memory triggers, often] ODORS. Said to be the strongest of the senses in this regard. Something about the relative locations of the primary olfactory complex and the amygdala, if I recall correctly. I’m sure Huda could expound on the subject for us if she cared to. (No obligation, Huda!)
  • Many top-tier clues to choose from, but my favorite is 45a [Champagne pop?] for PÈRE. Runners-up: 51d [Party animals] PIÑATAS, 118a [It might come from Mars] CANDY.
  • 88d [Not the brightest crayon in the box] DIMWIT; 55a [Periwinkle, e.g.] SNAIL.
  • Icky crossing: 29a [2013 tech debut with “the power of lightness”] IPAD AIR, and 15d [W-2 inclusion] FICA. Could reasonably have thought to have been O. (Federal Insurance Contribution Act)
  • jbportrait13d [Looking bad?] OGLING, 52a [Looks bad?] LEERS.
  • 98a [Beggar’s-ticks pod] BUR. Hate that spelling. Factette: genus is Bidens (“two tooth”).

Frabjous crossword.

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27 Responses to Friday, March 20, 2015

  1. Bencoe says:

    In the famous Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, the Fistful of Dollars trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West, the leads are all LONERs. That one was a gimme for me because of the amount of times I watched those movies.

    • Brucenm says:

      Yes indeed. Terrific, entertaining films reminiscent of, (and perhaps even deliberately modeled on), Kurosawa, with the “loner” aspect underscored by Clint Eastwood’s great, iconic portrayal of the “man with no name.”

      Fantastic Friday by Mr. (or M. [?] ) Huget. I don’t recognize the name. A debut? Original, creative, wide-ranging clues and entries. Average Friday difficulty, I would say. That doesn’t mean I blew it away, but that I did move through it steadily with no major hang-ups. (plunking in ‘ly’ for the last two letters of 10d didn’t help) Only 3 letters of rap. As a Rapa Nui fan, AKU was a gimme. As a recall, Heyerdahl controversially tried to show a connection between the Easter Island sculptures and Incan culture.

      Loved 31, 52, 34, 35, 50, 54, 56a, 10, 11d, and the wonderfully ambiguous 7a. (started with “Amatis” crossing “areel”) Less fond of 16a. Big years? what’s that? and 12d

      Mega congrats to Roland.

      • ArtLvr says:

        Me too, kudos! I surprised myself by finishing — dredging up the LEYDEN jars and so on. SAUNTER was a favorite, and TEATS fit nicely with the info the other day on breastfeeding advantages!

      • Bencoe says:

        My favorite is still The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which is possibly my favorite movie of all time. But I like them all.

      • rpl says:

        Mantle was a perennial star, while Maris had only a few BIG YEARS.

  2. Chris says:

    My Across Lite version says “Just deserts” for 35 across, which is incorrect (should be “desserts”) and led me to believe there was punning afoot. Frustrating.

    • Bencoe says:

      No, that is the original and correct spelling, even though it’s pronounced “desserts”. I thought the same thing at first before reading otherwise.

      • David L says:

        “Just desserts” is when you get pudding as a reward for good behavior.

        I also note the correct (in my mind) cluing of TEAR with “career.” In that sense the word has almost universally been replaced with ‘careen,’ the fundamental meaning of which to upend a boat on dry land so you can scrape barnacles off its hull and suchlike.

      • Chris says:

        Not as smart as I think I am. Thanks

    • David R says:

      From the Grammarist:

      The expression meaning that which is deserved was originally just deserts. The phrase is the last refuge of an obsolete meaning of desert—namely, something that is deserved or merited. But because most modern English speakers are unfamiliar with that old sense of desert, the phrase is often understandably written just desserts.

      Using just desserts is not a serious error, and it is much more common than just deserts in 21st-century texts. Some people still consider it wrong, however. Whether to pay this any heed is for each of us to decide for ourselves.

    • rpl says:

      deserts (archaic for deserves) survives in modern language in the phrase just deserts.
      Source: Wikidictionary

      I believe the spoken emphasis is on the long e in the first syllable.

  3. Howard B says:

    I dunno, I struggled with this one, fought it everywhere, and loved it.
    Great debut, Mr. Huget. Thank you.

  4. sbmanion says:

    I greatly enjoyed the puzzle and found it to be of about average difficulty.

    BIG YEARS, while not what I would call truly idiomatic, is frequently used in the description of time within an athlete’s career. Manion had a few big years in the early 2000’s that allowed him to sign the megabucks contract that the Bills now deeply regret.


    • pannonica says:

      I searched Google for “the big years”, reasoning that might reflect more ‘thingy’ results, which returned ~29,300 hits.

  5. Jeanie says:

    This was the first Friday NY Times I was able to solve in 4 weeks, and then was with mistakes.

  6. Zulema says:

    I very much enjoyed the NYT puzzle and should I mention the CHE that hasn’t been blogged yet? I enjoyed that one greatly also, and wait for Pannonica to tell me if the German word at 43D is familiar to most anglophones. It gave me no problem but I was surprised to find it.

    • Martin says:

      Some might have got it from crossings but then recognized it from flugelhorn. Of course, as clued it uses that dark crossword convention of ignoring umlauts. But the horn prefix in English is umlaut-free.

    • Brucenm says:

      Deine Zauber binden wieder wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt . . .

      • Martin says:

        Dammit. It’s a great earworm, but an earworm nonetheless. I’m on my fortieth lap. I had to fill in the missing lines:
        Deine Zauber binden wieder
        Was die Mode streng geteilt
        Alle Menschen werden Brüder
        Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

        I couldn’t let it go. I feel like Rainman.

  7. Brucenm says:

    I’m not understanding the wsj either, but I don’t want to give it a scathing rating until I figure it out, or have someone explain it to me.

    • Papa John says:

      What’s to figure out? The revealer in the center of the puzzle tells all: ” 66A: “Type of word found twice in each of the six longest answers.” PORTMANTEAU


      • Brucenm says:

        I guess you’re right. There’s nothing to figure out. I kept thinking there must be more to it than that.

  8. Steven R. Stahl says:

    47a. [Tin alloys], PEWTERS. In the plural? Does that work?

    No, it doesn’t. I didn’t see PEWTERS listed in the standard dictionary definitions for PEWTER–for good reason, given the definitions–and the rationale that any noun can be pluralized is a stretch at best.


    • Gary R says:

      As I understand it, pewter is an alloy – mostly tin, with varying quantities of copper, antimony and sometimes other metals. Since the different formulations give rise to different types of pewter, “pewters” seems like a reasonable way to refer to the various formulations collectively.

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