Wednesday, April 1, 2015

AV Club 5:32 (Amy) 
NYT 3:55 (Amy) 
LAT 3:57 (Gareth) 
CS 8:54 (Ade) 
Fireball 7:41 (Amy) 

Peter Gordon’s Fireball contest crossword, “Thinking Caps”

Fireball contest crossword, 3/26/15 "Thinking Caps"

Fireball contest crossword, 3/26/15 “Thinking Caps”

The meta instructions are: “What thing associated with the ringing of a bell is hinted at by this puzzle?”

There are some long Acrosses that include surnames: SUTTON FOSTER, ARROWSMITH, (maybe EB WHITE,) COXSWAINED, and ABOUT SCHMIDT.

Various bell-ringing occasions include school start and dismissal, opening and closing of the NYSE trading floor, Christmas caroling, doorbells …

“Thinking Caps” makes me think Peter has the nascent baseball season on his mind, but I don’t associate bell ringing with baseball. And doing a Google search of sutton (or foster) smith, cox, schmidt got me nowhere. Or did it? A manager named Cox was recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and his first name, BOBBY, happens to cross COX. I checked for a DON Sutton on Wikipedia and got another HOFer. Oh! OZZIE Smith, I know that name. MIKE Schmidt. I don’t think the 7-letter EBWHITE is part of the theme, as Eliot White gets me nowhere (although I would pay good money to watch a player named Beanbags White play pretty much anything). So the theme is definitely about Baseball HOFers, but I have no idea what the bell has to do with any of it. Well! That feels strikingly dissatisfying.

Fast forward from last week to Tuesday evening, when the answer was sent out. “Hidden in the grid are the names of four Baseball Hall of Famers: DON SUTTON, OZZIE SMITH, BOBBY COX, and MIKE SCHMIDT. Sutton pitched for 23 years, including 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing his career with a record of 324–256. His Hall of Fame plaque has him wearing a Dodgers cap, so it says “LA” on it. Smith played shortstop for 19 seasons, 15 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a 15-time All-Star and won 13 Gold Gloves. His Hall of Fame plaque has him wearing a Cardinals cap, so it says “STL” on it. Cox was the manager of the Atlanta Braves for 25 of his 29 years as a manager. He led the Braves to a first-place finish 14 times in a span of 15 years from 1991 to 2005. His overall managerial record was 2,504–2,001. His Hall of Fame plaque has him wearing a Braves cap, so it says “A” on it. Schmidt played his entire 18-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies, mostly at third base. He hit 548 home runs and was the National League MVP three times. His Hall of Fame plaque has him wearing a Phillies cap, so it says “P” on it. Put together the letters from the caps in order to get the answer to the puzzle: LAST LAP.” Just 21 people submitted the right answer.

Holy crap, that meta is so far out of my wheelhouse, I shouldn’t have even done the puzzle. I don’t think in terms of “the letters that appear on a baseball cap are key things” and I have no idea what LAST LAP involves a bell ringing. This is about car racing? Pfft. Whatevs.

Sharon Delorme’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 1 15, no 0401

NY Times crossword solution, 4 1 15, no 0401

Fun theme, and it just confused me for the first part of my solve so I was properly tricked by the clues. A merry PRANKSTER (62a. [Speaker of the clues for 18-, 24-, 38- and 51-Across]) ties everything together for April Fools Day:

  • 18a. [“Put ‘er there, pal!”], JOY BUZZER. Shake hands, receive small shock.
  • 24a. [“Here, have a drink”], DRIBBLE GLASS. Liquid cascades onto you.
  • 38a. [“Smell my corsage”], SQUIRTING FLOWER. “My eye!”
  • 51a. [“Happy birthday! Make a wish and blow”], TRICK CANDLES. The candle flames shall reignite themselves endlessly.

I enjoyed the theme a good bit more than the overall fill, which did have the good GAG ORDER, LOVE/HATE relationship, and COBWEB but otherwise ranged from ordinary to clunky stuff and/or crosswordese (ABOO, OEN-, REQS, OR TO, ON UP, NEBR, A-ONE, ADZ, ESAU).

How many of you have read 1a. [1925 Pulitzer Prize winner for Edna Ferber], SO BIG? Anyone?

3.75 stars from me. The cute and timely theme makes up for much of the clunkier fill.

Aimee Lucido’s American Values Club crossword, “Going Both Ways”

AV Club crossword solution, 4 1 15 "Going Both Ways"

AV Club crossword solution, 4 1 15 “Going Both Ways”

A multitude of words form phrases or compounds when “up” and “down” are added after them. Aimee plays with five such words in this 17×16 grid:

  • 3d. [Analysis of the end of a relationship?], KAERB BREAK. That’s a breakup breakdown.
  • 41d. [Vomiting competition?], WORHT THROW. Throw-up throwdown.
  • 31d. [Service at a hotel where the party never stops?], NRUT TURN. Turn up turn-down. Complimentary chocolate a plus.
  • 10d. [Huge photoshopping success?], HCUOT TOUCH. Touch-up touchdown.
  • 44d. [Botched attempt to fasten something to the ground?], SCREW WERCS. A screw-down screw-up. Note that this is the only one where the down precedes the up. Would have been ideal to have a 3/2 split or all five the same way, but certainly this isn’t a theme killer.

Yet again, Ben’s posted difficulty level is way out of alignment with my solving time. 5:34 on a 15×15 AV would seem like maybe a 4/5, but on a bigger puzzle, I’m thinking 3. Although yeah, the backwards stuff was tricky to cotton on to.

Highlights in the fill include DROP TROU, SPOUTING nonsense, WET NURSE as an old-school [Formula alternative], PINOCHLE (not SKAT, FARO, or ECARTE), SIOUX, and WEBINAR.

Cute clues:

  • 17a. [Jacobs of purses and murses], MARC. Murses!
  • 63a. [Sinatra tune that is extraordinarily popular in Asian karaoke], MY WAY. In the Philippines, people have been literally murdered for figuratively murdering that song.
  • 70a. [Hem, say, but not haw], SEW.
  • 1d. [Verb that’s come to mean “check if a restaurant is any good”], YELP.

Did not know: 51d. [Accor offerings], ROOMS. Accor??

Worst bits: There are lots of 3s in this grid and some are blah (hello, STE and UTE), but overall the fill didn’t stand out to me in a any negative way.

4.5 stars.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “SRO”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.01.15: "SRO"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.01.15: “SRO”

Hello everyone, and hope you’re enjoying your April Fools’ Day so far. I would try to come up with some clever ruse right now, but the creative part of my brain isn’t firing right now at all.

In today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, each of the four theme answers are multiple-word entries in which each of the first words are synonyms of each other, meaning to cram.

  • STUFFED OLIVES (20A: [Bartender’s supply])
  • LOADED QUESTION (24A: [Interviewer’s ambush])
  • FULL SPEED AHEAD (41A: [“Go!”])
  • PACKED A WALLOP (46A: [Punched hard, say])

Not too sure too many people would have been on to LOVE U without the crossings (24A: [Jay-Z hit “I Just Wanna _____”]). Is it possible that Tatum standing on top of Ryan’s shoulders still wouldn’t make them taller than Shaquille O’NEAL (25D: [Tatum or Ryan])? This time, we get the first name of RENEE, instead of the last name that was part of a recent puzzle that a lot of us might have done this past weekend (56A: [Actress Zellweger]). In four years, we will see LIII, I believe, painted on a football field as Super Bowl 53 will be taking place (14A: [Ovid’s 53]). Seeing RACK reminds me that it’s been way, way too long since I’ve played pool, and I need to amend that really soon (5A: [Poolroom accessory]). Am sure people would be a little uneasy seeing that entry, as well as STER (37A: [Suffix with pun or trick]), but it was a fun grid to complete.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LEA (38A: [Grazing ground]) – Former Major League Baseball player Charlie LEA (1956-2011) was a starting pitcher in the 1980s, most known for his time with the Montréal Expos. On May 10, 1981, Lea became the second Expo in franchise history to throw a no-hitter, as he no-hit the San Francisco Giants in a 4-0 win. Lea also started and won the All-Star Game for the National League in 1984.

Have a great day, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150401

LA Times

Haha! Today’s APRILFOOL puzzle includes three phrases one might say on revealing an April Fool joke: IMKIDDING, MADEYOULOOK, and THEJOKESONYOU. The circles form an April Fool prank of sorts, revealed in the 4th answer: THEREISNONE (the circles mean nothing). Cute.

Big corners are forced by the central 13. These feature a BIKEPATH, but are otherwise fairly bland. Also, they both feature a real extreme-desperation answer: random rhyme scheme AABA and random Roman numeral CCI. I am waiting for [Petrarchan sonnet rhyme scheme, perhaps] for ABBAABBACDCDEE.

Not a much more in the puzzle evoked a strong reaction either way: I liked the YIPS clueing angle.

3.5 Stars. Amusing theme, with an April the first twist.

P.S., I’d disappoint Pannonica if I didn’t like to this song.

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18 Responses to Wednesday, April 1, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Never knew there was such a thing as JOY BUZZER, so it really confused me, because I thought the theme was some kind of verbal gag. And the clue made no sense. The theme cluing becomes helpful and interesting once you tumble to what’s going on.

    I used to love April Fool as a kid and would think up all kinds of little white lies to see how convincing I could make them. I wonder what that says about me… I like the French name, Poisson D’Avril– we actually used to make little paper fish and stick them on people’s backs.
    The tradition is thought to have started in France, when they changed the calendar year from April 1 to January 1.

    • David L says:

      Huda, I was once at a science conference in Italy on April 1, one of the organizers of which was a well known French guy. His daughter, who must have been about 6 at the time, was also there, and she went around putting paper fish on people’s backs. So there were all these bigshot scientists wandering around decorated with paper fish, a couple of whom didn’t catch on for quite some time… I and the other lowly postdocs kept our mouths shut, of course.

  2. Travis H. says:

    When solving the Fireball, I managed not to spot the ‘t’ on the Cardinals cap at first, so I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what LA SLAP was and what it had to do with bells…

  3. Papa John says:

    What a day! Unless Amy is including the time she spent on trying to parse the meta of the FB, I beat her time by a whopping 3 minutes. Not only that, I finished today’s NYT in less than 2 minutes! Eat my dust, Amy!

    What a day! What a day!

  4. Richard says:

    Peter Gordon’s new Newsflash Kickstarter still has a way to go. Folks should sign up!

  5. Martin says:

    I’d love to say that I deliberately wrote a non-April Fools Washington Post crossword… to protest against the crass commercialism of this most holy of days. But, the sad truth is that I plain forgot

  6. dave glasser says:

    Fireball: It’s funny, I figured “caps” -> “baseball caps” immediately, but couldn’t get anywhere trying to figure out who the people referenced by the theme clues were. I thought maybe the surnames were a red herring (didn’t see the first names) and was trying to go with SuttonFoster => SF Giants, Arrowsmith => A’s or one of a few others, etc.

  7. Martin says:

    The Fireball Puzzle solution also works eerily well if you substitute all of the C-Division Pakistani cricket teams (in the Geater Lahore area, of course).


  8. Margaret says:

    I usually try to keep my comments positive (or at least constructive) but I’m sorry to say I hated the LAT today. The “haha, it doesn’t mean anything!” joke is so childish. I have higher expectations than that. And while I was able to fill in OONA for Charlie’s 4th wife without a second thought (as an experienced solver/old person), I think a new solver would find this clue and answer extremely off-putting. Sorry to be so negative.

  9. Jeffrey K says:

    Let the record show that the Montreal Expos were referenced in this blog by someone other than me. Thanks Ade!

  10. Gareth says:

    I thought the way the NYT theme was presented was excellent. The only downside was the concentrated pockets of ickiness alluded to by Amy.

  11. Martin says:

    “Pockets of ickiness”? Good grief Gareth you’re talking about crosswords here, and not parts of festering zombie corpses. At, least… I think you’re talking out crosswords (?).


  12. Jenni Levy says:

    I probably don’t really want to know this…I got 65A in the AVC puzzle from crossings and don’t understand the clue. I know what metonymy is…don’t see the connection. As I said, I suspect I don’t want to, and yet…it’s bothering me.

  13. Lois says:

    Re NYT and timeliness of the So Big clue – No, it’s not timely, but it appealed to me. I’m not SO BIG a reader, but it was made into a movie at least three times, says IMDb, and I did see the Barbara Stanwyck one. She’s my favorite actress.

    Good puzzle for April Fool’s Day. The theme answers were pretty unusual.

  14. Matt M. says:

    I disagree re: the LAT puzzle — I thought it was a clever and fun theme with an entertaining (anti-)payoff.

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