Friday, April 17, 2015

NYT 5:48 (Amy) 
LAT tk (Gareth) 
CS 11:17 (Ade) 
CHE untimed (six-ish minutes?) (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 12:33 (pannonica) 

Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 17 15, no. 0417

NY Times crossword solution, 4 17 15, no. 0417

This one played a little harder than the usual Friday themeless, no?

Mary Lou’s grid is anchored by a matrix of six 15s:

  • 17a. [Similar], OF THE SAME STRIPE.
  • 53a. [Very close], ON INTIMATE TERMS.
  • 3d. [Something that’s brilliant], A STROKE OF GENIUS.
  • 5d. [Longtime food product with a mascot in a cowboy hat], HOSTESS TWINKIES. Hang on. Twinkies … have a mascot? And it wears a cowboy hat? This isn’t feeling remotely familiar!
  • 9d. [Cry at a White House press conference], MISTER PRESIDENT. If Hillary Clinton wins next year, would they shout “Madam President”?
  • 11d. [Senator who wrote “A Fighting Chance,” 2014], ELIZABETH WARREN. A lot of progressives want her to run for the Madam President job.

These 15s range from solid to lively. They’re surrounded by some good stuff—CLEAN SWEEP, TARZAN, SNOWDEN, NO FUN, Jimmy CHOO (no fair complaining about this one if you don’t complain about all the sports- and car-related stuff that perfuses crosswords), and WAHOO—but also some blah entries. OCULI, CERT., SUR-, awkward END IN, crosswordese town BARI, RETAG, things of that stripe.

Five more things:

  • 14a. [Gift on el día de los enamorados], ROSA. Is that Valentine’s Day or a separate occasion?
  • 20a. [Charge leader?], SUR-. Cluing SUR as a prefix is blah, but this clue is a clever one so I forgive the trespass.
  • 60a/51a. [With 51-Across, early adopter of the A.D. dating method], SAINT / BEDE. I always think his full name is Adam Bede. I blame Mary Ann Evans.
  • 13d. [Follower of four or six, but not five], TEEN. Another good clue. Technically this answer is a suffix here, but I like how it’s used.
  • 25d. [Rounded-up figure?], STEER. I hope you were thinking mathy thoughts here.

3.75 stars from me. Solid first published themeless from this constructor.

Jacob Stulberg’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Double Booked” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 4/17/15 • "Double Booked" • Stulberg • solution

CHE • 4/17/15 • “Double Booked” • Stulberg • solution

Wow. Took me a while to fully appreciate this crossword’s theme. Überraschung! It’s a Schrödinger puzzle! I’ll recreate my confusion, walk you through it.

Four theme answers, the last as revealer: 49a [British novelist whose most famous protagonist can be found at the beginning of answers to the starred clues] HENRY FIELDING*.

  • 19a. [*Fast-food freebie] TOMATO KETCHUP. Not necessarily redundant. Sometimes in a packet, never in a PARCEL (30d).
  • 32a. [*Island capital with a statue of Lord Nelson] BRIDGETOWN. That’s Barbados.
  • 40a. [*State park east of New York City] JONES BEACH. Some might say southeast, or ESE, but it’s directly east of where I grew up, so I’ll accept it.

So we have the eponymous Tom Jones, widely considered to be one of the first and greatest prose novels in English, published in the middle 18th century. But, but … what’s BRIDGET doing here? It’s well-known, or at least I hope it’s well known, that BRIDGET Allworthy-Blifil—and not Jenny JONES—turns out to be TOM JONES’ mother. ‘Tom-Bridget Jones’? ‘Tom (and) Bridget Jones’? ‘Tom (or) Bridget Jones’? What’s going on here?

  1. Reëxamine title. “Double Booking”. Hmm. Two novels?
  2. Parse revealer more rigorously. [British novelist whose most famous protagonist can be found at the beginning of answers to the starred clues]. Hmmmm. Am I just assuming that this indicates all must be used simultaneously? Is it something not OVERT (38a)?

Both are British authors. Sneaky elision! The crossing downs are thus 51d [Midcourt sights at Wimbledon] NETS / LETS; 45d [Staple of high-fiber diets] BEAN / BRAN; 43d [Part of a conjugation in Spanish 101] SOY / SON (the two are from the infinitive ser).

I was at a severe disadvantage, as my experience with Bridget Jones’s Diary—that late 20th century novel—is intentionally minimal. Ditto the film adaptation and the sequels. STRANGE (5d), I thought to myself, that I’d never noticed—or had brought to my attention—the nominal similarities of authors and protagonists. Is this common knowledge, or novel insight on Stulberg’s part? More thoughts: Is the picaresque Bridget Jones in part homage to Tom? Is Helen Fielding a pseudonym? Wait, didn’t I once learn that the Bridget Jones’s Diary was in essence a contemporization of Pride and Prejudice, a different canonical British novel? All very discombobulating.

For the record, Helen Fielding is not a pseudonym and BJD is indeed a retelling of Jane Austen’s P&P. Bridgetown was renamed from the Town of Saint Michael in 1824; George Washington slept there (in 1751, just after Tom Jones).

Other stuff:

  • Long down answers are so-so. PARTY LINES, GREASE GUNS.
  • 18a [One of 22 at Alcatraz] ACRE. There’s an unusual clue.
  • 38d [Division signs] OBELI. That’s this: ÷, in plural. Same etymology as obelisk, and I assume the origin of Obelix from the Asterix comics. See also, 54a [Theaters of ancient Greece] ODEA.
  • 10d [“Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” cartoonist Weiner] ZACH. Did not know this, but am vaguely aware of the webcomic.
  • opistognathidae22d [Headwear for an 18th-century housemaid] MOBCAP. {nb: Does not appear in the text of The History of Tom Jones, a foundling.}
  • 40d [Burrowing marine species] JAWFISH, which I confused with the Gnathostomata, the jawed fishes. Turns out it’s these folks: the family Opistognathidae. Forgot about them.
  • 58d [Poland China‘s home] STY. Developed in Miami, Ohio, of course.
  • LESSEE (44a) … what else? 1d [Titular “big debut” maker in a Steely Dan hit] PEG. It’s your favorite foreign movie. More music: 10a [End of an Elgar waltz?] ZED, 55a [Type of rock or film] INDIE, 63a [Much choir repertoire] HYMNS, 21d [Ritter who sang “I Dreamed of a Hill-Billy Heaven”] TEX, 31d [Something played in major-league stadiums] ANTHEM, 35d [“Calcium Night-Light” composer Charles] IVES.

Fine, fun crossword.


Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Crossbreeds” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/17/15 • "Crossbreeds" • Fri • Stuart, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 4/17/15 • “Crossbreeds” • Fri • Stuart, Shenk • solution

One-across subtly indicates the puzzle’s theme: [Changes, as district lines] REDRAWS. The relevant answers feature two words whose letters overlap, and that precise overlap spells the name of an animal. The clues reference all three components.

  • 23a. [Feline’s twin-hulled boats from an Arabian port?] MUSCATAMARAN (muscat | cat | catamaran).
  • 41a. [Burro’s fitting together of navigational instruments?] COMPASSEMBLY.
  • 58a. [Rodent’s appraisal of a blue stater?] DEMOCRATING.
  • 75a. [Lagomorph’s rooms for women co-owned by others?] TIMESHAREMS.
  • 95a. [Simian’s mountain peaks in a scenic painting?] LANDSCAPEXES.
  • 114a. [Burrowing animal’s microscopic bit of party dip?] GUACAMOLECULE.
  • 17d. [Flying mammal’s loungewear for gymnasts?[ ACROBATHROBE.
  • 60d. [Bovine’s fear of the Kremlin?] MOSCOWARDICE.

Hybrid vigor. Mammals, one and all!

More {41a}s in 8a BASSI, 71A MASS, 50d ASSAM. Another {58a} in 8d BRATS. Other in-grid (non-human) mammals: 18d RHINOS, 27a PETS (in part). 123a [Hides from wild animals] are PELTS, which his how the overlying 120a [America’s first multimillionaire] John Jacob ASTOR made his fortune. Leather from 96d CORDOBA, Andalusia is called cordovan; I’ve no idea if that was an option for the interiors of the [Chrysler touted by Ricardo Montalban].

  • 22a [Sushi fish] HAMACHI. You might know it as yellowtail.
  • 49a [Bananarama singer Fahey] SIOBHAN. We need to find some better, possibly newer, SIOBHÁNS, stat. Also, Wikipedia lists these alternative spellings: Siobhán include: Siobhan, Siobhain, Siobhann, Siobhin, Siobhon, Siobahn, Shivon, Siavon, Siovhan, Shivaune, Shivaun, Shavon, Sioban, Siobain, Shivonne, Shvaugn, Shivaughn, Shivaughne, Shievonne, Shavaughn, Shavaughne, Shavaughan, Shavaugn, Shavaugne, Shavaun, Shavaune, Sheavaughn, Shevaun, Shevawn, Shavone, Shavonne, Shevonne, Chevonne, Chevone, Chivonne, Chevon and Shivan, and Chivoun and Ciobhinne. The typical ‘Anglicized’ version is apparently Judith, which is of course Hebrew.
  • Roughly the usual amount (not listed here) of clues given the WSJ financial/business SPIN. (80d [Doctor’s rotation?])
  • Other notable clues: 34d [One in a pier group] PILING, 13d [Refrains from singing] CHORUSES, 89a [Orion’s capital] OMEGA, 29d [Area between the shoulders] ROAD.

Solid crossword.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Maid to Order”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.17.15: "Maid to Order"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.17.15: “Maid to Order”

Happy Friday, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, involves five theme answers in which the first word of each answer could also precede the word “maid.”

  • NURSE BETTY (17A: [2000 Renée Zellweger film]) – I thought I was pretty familiar with Renée’s movies, but this didn’t come to me quickly at all.
  • BAR MITZVAH (26A: [Coming-of-age event])
  • HOTEL CALIFORNIA (37A: [1977 chart-topper by The Eagles])
  • RUBBER SOUL (54A: [Beatles album that features “Michelle”])
  • MINUTE HAND (62A: [One of Mickey’s arms on a Mickey Mouse watch])

Again, can’t stay too long, but one point and one suggestion. The point being that I had never heard of the word POOP used in that sense before, and was the last answer to…umm, drop (15A: [Skinny]). The suggestion is this: If you haven’t read it, here’s an amazing review of the 2015 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, appearing on the data-driven journalism web site FiveThirtyEight and written by Oliver Roeder, who couldn’t have depicted the tournament and the men and women (and machine) who made the magic happen any better! Somehow, I appear in this article as well, albeit very briefly. That fact makes me feel weird, as being mentioned in the same story with the crossword puzzle illuminati of the world could be considered blasphemy on any other day and occasion. But give it a read, and believe me, you won’t be disappointed.  

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ALONZO (10D: [NBA Hall of Famer Mourning]) – Although he went to my rival school (Georgetown), I guess I’ll give former NBA player ALONZO Mourning some props. Though best known for being a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a force in the middle for the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat, but, in 2003, maybe the most memorable moment in ‘Zo’s career (and life) happened in 2003, when he initially had to retire from the game because of a life-threatening kidney disease. Jason Cooper, a relative whom he had not seen in 25 years, was tested for compatibility and proved to be a matched. Not too long after, Cooper donated his left kidney to Mourning, allowing Alonzo to continue his NBA career and continue living a healthy life. In 2006, Mourning as a member of the Miami Heat team that won the NBA title.

Have a good weekend, everybody! See you tomorrow!

Take care!


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37 Responses to Friday, April 17, 2015

  1. Martin says:

    Aw c’mon Amy… points off for BARI in a Friday puzzle?


    • Martin says:

      I guess a “crosswordese town” is one you’ve never been to. In the case of Bari, you really should try to fix that, Amy. The Adriatic coast in Apulia is incredible. The food is among the best in the world. Pugliese pastas, breads, seafood and calzoni are among the best in Italy, which means the best in the world. They grow some of the best vegetables in Europe, as well.

      Bari is southern Italy’s “second city,” after Napoli. That practically makes it your sister city. It’s the capital of the southern Adriatic region and its metropolitan area has over a million inhabitants. Quite a “town.”

      It’s a short ferry hop to Corfu or Dubrovnik, each worth a detour. Or you can be even more adventuresome and take another ferry to Tirana, Albania. Visit Bari and you’ll love its appearance in puzzles ever after. Two birds with one stone.

      • CY Hollander says:

        For what it’s worth, there are plenty of cities that I’ve heard of without having been to, but until I did this morning’s puzzle, Bari was not one of them. I’m with Amy on this one.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Thanks, CY. There are thousands of lovely towns in the world, but if the bulk of Americans, even the bulk of those who venture to solve crosswords, don’t know them outside of crosswords, then they’re not great fill.

          TOMAH, Wisconsin is on the highway from Chicago to Minnesota. Alternating consonants and vowels don’t make it notable enough—but it’s likely more NYT solvers have passed through Tomah than Bari, no?

          • Alex B. says:

            We need to formalize the definition of “crosswordese” so we don’t have to keep arguing over it ad nauseam. I liked what Slate/Matt Gaffney did with the “Shortz Factor”, comparing how many times a name appeared more often in the NYT crossword as in the newspaper. Maybe we can do something similar with the raw data from Google N-grams.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        The Martins love to [X]-shame me. Dig clams at neap tide! Visit Bari! Don’t be such a provincial loser! It grows tiresome.

        • Phil says:

          C’mon Amy, the Wiki article on Bari clearly states that it has an airport which connects to several European cities. Not just a couple, but several. Surely a city which has an airport tht connects to several cities is fair game, no?

          • CY Hollander says:

            So… a good chunk of these cities, then? Graz, Austria? Ganja, Azerbaijan? Goin (or Metz), France? Poprad, Slovakia? I’m sorry if I’m revealing myself as a provincial, but I’ve never heard of any of these cities.

          • Phil says:

            Cy – Try reading what I wrote aloud, infusing everything I have in caps with as much sarcasm as you can muster. You’ll then see I agree with you.

          • CY Hollander says:

            Oh. Sorry. Sarcasm is notoriously hard to detect over text-only channels.

        • Martin says:

          Another reason Bari isn’t like Tomah.

          But I’d hope you’d see this as more of a dialog of opinions than clam-shaming. You get to say why Bari is insignificant and I would think I get to say why I disagree. I’m truly sorry that you feel it’s personal. I’m just talking about the words. I always respect you.

          • Bencoe says:

            When it comes to obscurity in crossword entries, there is only one real factor for me–is it interesting to learn about? You can make a case for anything being interesting, as it’s subjective, but for me there’s a definite difference. In BARI’s case, I have to admit that I’m glad to be cured of my ignorance. I thought I knew all the cities of real size in Italy, although I know the least about the South. Sounds like a nice place. I also want to learn more about Ganja, Azerbaijan now.

          • CY Hollander says:

            For me the main question is how accessible it is to an average member of the target audience. Between the two entries that cross it, he should to be able to pin down the letter of any square, else he won’t be able to solve the puzzle. So proper nouns that are likely to be unknown to many of your solvers should be crossed with something that they are more likely to know.

            In this case, BARI’s B intersected the venerable Bede, who is probably better known (to English-speakers) than Bari, I’d think, but could still be problematic for some.

          • Sarah says:

            Maybe BARI is very significant. Perhaps it is one of the most significant places in the entire world.

            However, the clue “Port of Italy” provides little to no significance. It’s a port in Italy, so what? Who gives a damn?

            Crosswords should have relevance and not irrelevance. Even obscure answers can try to provide some of that.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        I’d think obscure means that which most of a population hasn’t heard of and I’d be surprised if BARI doesn’t fit into that category among NYT crossword solvers. Just because someone knows about something–apparently oh so much about it–doesn’t mean it’s not obscure.

        • Bencoe says:

          I just don’t have a problem with obscurity per se. I don’t care if everyone isn’t able to solve the puzzle–I don’t even care if I’m not able to solve the puzzle. As long as there is something of value in the experience. But I’m not an editor or constructor. I just like the challenge.

          • David R says:

            This is my opinion since it becomes a matter of opinion at a certain point based on your personal experiences and knowledge base. I would like the conversation to move away from one off (possible) Naticks and more into pervasive arcana puzzles.

            This appears to becoming more prevalent among the younger constructors who are trying to carve out a spot in the sun as far as their identity. Those puzzles feel soulless even if you can slog through the fill and feel more like a personal commentary of the constructor then a real effort to entertain the solver.

          • Avg Solvr says:

            Obscure fill, crosswordese, isn’t an issue for me really. Trivia laden puzzles on the other hand….

  2. PJ Ward says:

    Loved the NYT. It did play a little harder for me than usual. But in a good way. Not much junk – OLE, _FA, _AS. I’m more YAHOO as a celebratory shout. WAHOO is a fish to me. Or a UVA student. I didn’t know BEDE could be referenced without VENERABLE.

    • Zulema says:

      I had always also known him as the VENERABLE BEDE, but I suppose he was sainted. And speaking of saints there is a famous Bari saint, St. Nicholas of that city. Just because one has not heard of a place, does that mean it should not be in a puzzle? I could never understand that.

      On the CHE, I knew BRIDGET was TOM’s mother, but never got the real meaning of it, having not read the DIARY. Thank you for the explanation and apologies to Brad for my ignorance of a book I would not be inclined to read.

  3. Animalheart says:

    Outstanding effort from a constructor who is new to me. The only thing I didn’t like was ENDIN. Being Kardashian-illiterate, I thought KROS was conceivable. (Have to say, though, that I agree with the Martins on BARI. Sorry!)

    • Zulema says:

      Ditto on my choice of END ON instead of END IN. Why not KROS, though I should have seen KRIS as a better fill.

    • CY Hollander says:

      I also wanted END ON at first, but between KROS and the (K-ified) actual name CHRIS, the choice should be clear even to the Kardashian-illiterate, I’d say. Something can END IN a draw, tears, disaster, etc., so the entry is legit.

  4. Vic says:

    Twinkie the Kid!

    Had no trouble with that one, due to too many Saturday morning cartoons in my childhood.

  5. pannonica says:

    FACT: All the best pop songs have a BARI sax in the mix.

  6. Martin from Charlottesville says:
    • Bencoe says:

      Thanks for the link. By the by, Mark Goodcliffe (sp?) the cryptic champion has competed in the ACPT. He lost.
      (In reference to the snarky Englishwoman’s comment on the article.)

      • Jeffrey K says:

        Indeed, he did, in 2011. He couldn’t even win second place in the Foreign Division. [Polishes trophy]

  7. ArtLvr says:

    Michigan has a way with naming towns too — my favorites: Vangor and Zilwaukee.

  8. Martin says:

    Amy, disagreeing with your assessment of some fill words (NEAP, BARI, etc) is intended by me to be in the spirit of friendly debate. Zeroing in on one word (such as BARI) simply means I don’t agree with a tiny part of your review.


  9. Kay Ruff says:

    I usually check my answers on this site, however today I could not find the Samuel A. Donaldson puzzle answers from April 17th, ’15. Have you dropped your affiliation with “The Hartford Courant”, ‘The oldest continually published newspaper in America’? Please say it ain’t so!!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The Courant runs the Los Angeles Times puzzle, and Gareth, our trusty LAT blogger for Wednesday through Friday, didn’t get a chance to write this one up today. A temporary forsaking, not a permanent one!

  10. cyberdiva says:

    Belated thanks to Pannonica for the CHE discussion. Until I read it, I was totally mystified about how BRIDGETOWN fit into the puzzle, and I thus failed to see how cleverly constructed the puzzle was.

  11. Joan Macon says:

    I do hope we can get Gareth’s writeup on the LAT, as I have solved the puzzle but don’t get the point of it. Thanks!

    • Gareth says:

      Sorry Sam! And others! My story is boring and involves a power failure, internet failure, amnesia, and a weekend in the bundu. The puzzle involves adding a T sound to lively phrases, changing the sound as necessary, and clueing them wackily.

  12. Joan Macon says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Gareth, I should have seen it for myself. Hope you are feeling better!

Comments are closed.