Thursday, April 23, 2015

NYT 4:02 (Amy) 
LAT 5:00 (Gareth) 
CS 22:18 (Ade) 
BEQ 8:54 (Ben) 

Fireball’s a contest puzzle this week. Deadline Sunday evening.

David Steinberg and Bruce Leban’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 23 15, no 0423

NY Times crossword solution, 4 23 15, no 0423

A 60-letter quip theme fills today’s puzzle without any Thursday trickery: YOU CAN’T TELL PUNS / TO KLEPTOMANIACS / BECAUSE THEY TAKE / THINGS LITERALLY. Cute. I may have heard that before. It’s unusual to see a quip theme that breaks down into uniform chunks and doesn’t leave you with awkward chunks like TO KLEPTOMANIACS BECAUSE THEY. Not generally a quote/quip theme aficionado, but as far as those things go, this one’s presented well. Six more things:

  • 35a. [“Die Lorelei” poet], Heinrich HEINE. I never remember which 5-letter German poet I need, Heine or Rilke.
  • 52a. [Setting for many old films], TCM. The Turner Classic Movies cable channel.
  • 3d. [Highest Hawaiian peak], MAUNA KEA. Nice not to have Mauna ___ as usual. Did you fill in MAUNA **A and wait for the crossings?
  • 26d. [Couturier], MODISTE. French fashion word, or Italian? French, and dated.
  • 35d. [1980 hit with the lyric “That sweet little boy who caught my eye”], “HE’S SO SHY.” Pointer Sisters; video here.
  • 45d. [Tessellating artist], ESCHER. Who else?

NEAP! Oy. Liked seeing SLAMMER/CELLMATE, ZANTAC, and SYNERGY. A surprising four stars from me for a quip puzzle. Plenty of hardish vocabulary (MODISTE, MORNAY, YUAN, HEINE, etc.), suitable for a Thursday puzzle.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Going Up?” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 11.49.13 PM After last week’s stellar showing from Brendan, this week’s was a frustrating but fun solve.  It’s another week where I was able to figure out the theme/gimmick relatively quickly, but got stuck on all the surrounding fill.  As the title suggests, all the down entries with circled letters all include ways of, well, going heading towards the top of the puzzle:

  • 3D: The Dalai Lama yours truly rounded up? — TIBETAN I RUSTLED (URINATE)
  • 6D: Less-than-spectacular vehicle? — SUBPAR CAR (CRAP)
  • 9D: Really awesome PDA? — BOSS IPHONE (PISS)
  • 11D: Act out the chorus of Weezer’s “The Sweater Song”? — UNRAVEL KNITTING (TINKLE)
  • 29D: Spur a horse on? — WHIP MUDDER (DUMP)
  • 36D: Make sure star pitcher has dinner? — GET ACE FED (DEFECATE – nice find, Brendan!)

Your personal enjoyment of the puzzle may vary on your tolerance for toilet humor, but I thought this was great.  Where I got stuck was on all of the other fill besides the theme entries.  It was really easy to place shorter clues like 18A‘s BEN Gibbard (although I can’t place my finger on why his name was right at the forefront of my brain) and 66A‘s Banana cream PIE, but entries like 8D’s LONG U and 62A’s B-GIRL tripped me up longer than they should have.  I also got stuck by thinking that VICE was the “Alternative reporting magazine” the puzzle was looking for at 55A, but that’s just a difference in what “alternative” reporting means these days, I think. Overall, this was a great puzzle, even if I mostly tripped over my own feet on some of the fill. 4/5 stars

Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150423

LA Times

My first thought for the “Radioactive” band was The Firm. That should suggest my musical orientation. IMAGINE/DRAGONS recently released their second album and with it a playlist on the SongPop game I play. A lot of people grumbled that they’d never heard of them then, so we may be in for the same grumbles here. The song “Radioactive” is 9x platinum, and even with the currently buoyant singles market, that’s quite a high number – 1 in 30 Americans (nearly) legally >own< that track alone. The theme features answers ending in words that one might think of when imagining a dragon: a TAIL, WINGS, SCALES and FIRE. This dragon is obviously Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. Otherwise, TEETH would’ve been a final answer…

So, theme answers:

  • [*Skedaddling], TURNINGTAIL
  • [*Food often served with ranch dip], BUFFALOWINGS
  • [*Weigh, with “at”], TIPTHESCALES
  • [*Real ordeal], TRIALBYFIRE

It always feels like Julian Lim is particularly adept at squeezing great fill into his puzzles: WHALINGON, quasi-thematic IAMLEGEND, EMAILHOAX and LAYPEOPLE make up a fine foursome of long downs. SPACEK/ALKALI/CANDO/KINDOF/MILDEW are also nice in the medium-length category. I wonder if bottom-right ROOSTS is also intended as a bonus theme answer? Or even SCREAMS?

Lastly, I wonder if I’m alone in clinging to SPACEy over SPACEK?

4.25 Stars

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “School Ties”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.24.15: "School Ties"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.24.15: “School Ties”

Hello hello everyone! We’re nearing the end of the week, which means students at schools across the world are getting a little antsy about getting out of school and enjoying the weekend. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bob Klahn, is all about school; four theme answers in which the first word in each of the themes could also precede the word “school.”

  • FLIGHT RISK (17A: [One might bail if bailed]) – Actually thought to fill this in right off the bat when reading the clue…lucky me.
  • CHARM BRACELET (29A: [Bangled band])
  • BOARDING PARTY (47A: [Coast Guard team])
  • HIGH GROUND (63A: [Superior position])

Random observation: four theme answers, yet only 12 words combined in the clues to the four theme answers. After seeing it a few times in previous crosswords, I’m now trained to think OONA anytime I see a Game of Thrones clue with the accompanying entry being four letters (34A: [She’s Talisa on “Game of Thrones”]). Still haven’t seen the show yet, but, judging from my Facebook timeline, I think the season premiere to its latest season just passed a couple of weeks back. If it wasn’t for the clue to PAAR, which I got pretty easily (49D: [Late-night pioneer from Canton, Ohio]), I probably would have been at sea still with the clue for SWISS (50D: [Canton natives]). It made sense once I got a couple of the letters filled in, but wish it came to my mind sooner. Speaking of entries that I would have had absolutely no shot without crossings, how about NAIAD (52A: [Fountain nymph])? Yowza! I will say that I had fun seeing (and filling out) INAMORATA, as I now have to use that word more often, even if I have to force it in conversations/broadcasts where it’s not really called for (35A: [Flame]). As for the clue that might have been difficult that I absolutely got from the second I finished reading the clue, that would be OTIS (10A: [2012 Grammy winner that samples “Try a little tenderness”]). Not only have I heard Otis Redding a boatload of times because of my dad playing oldies music growing up (and knowing the sample in question), but that song is a pretty much a staple in every single sports arena during pregame warmups!  Honestly, when I go to cover a sports game, and I arrive at the arena about a couple of hours before a game while the players are stretching, that song always happens to come on through the PA. For those not familiar with the song, here it is…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SOCK (69A: [Darned thing]) – American tennis player Jack SOCK is currently ranked No. 35 in men’s singles on the ATP World Tour. Just last week, Sock, 22, won his first senior tour-level men’s singles title, winning the 2015 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships title in Houston. Last summer, Sock teamed with Canadian Vasek Pospisil to make a surprise run to the Wimbledon men’s doubles final, and once there, they defeated one of the best doubles teams of all time, the Bryan Brothers (Bob and Mike Bryan) in the final to win the title.

It’s TGIF tomorrow!  Have a good rest of your day today!

Take care!


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19 Responses to Thursday, April 23, 2015

  1. Dave says:

    I rated the NYT highly because I like bad puns.

    I think I coined this pun:

    “I used to be a drill press operator, but it was just a bit boring”

    Nyuk, nyuk.

    • steve smith says:

      Speaking of puns, I thought I’d out-punnned my 84 year old mother the other day when she told me that her doctor’s name was Colavita and I asked, “Is she oily?” My mom replied, without skipping a beat, “Well, she’s never late.”


  2. steveo says:

    Nope, I put in loA and had to backtrack :)

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    Not a bad NYT but TMI which includes clues of course.

  4. Martin says:

    Far be it from me to point out NEAP again in a recent NYT grid

    • Martin says:

      Actually, Amy pointed it out first.

      But it is interesting to note that to remove it, the puzzle would have had to have either been scrapped or totally rearranged. Two 15s constrain the N__P, for which NADP and NEEP are about the only alternatives to NEAP.

      Sometimes we wonder why constructors insist on using words like NEAP without considering that the only other choice is abandoning a grid entirely.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I believe constructors often rejigger their grids to eliminate difficult connections between/across theme answers. If the theme answers are stuck in those places, sometimes a shuffling of the black squares in the diagram will work out the problem. It’s not as if “abandoning the grid entirely” is the only option, Martin.

        And granted, if you’re planning to submit a puzzle to the NYT, there’s no reason to rework a grid to get rid of N**P because that word appears in the NYT puzzle any day of the week. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean Will has a real problem with it.

        • Martin from Charlottesville says:

          I have just started to construct puzzles, using CrossFire. There are several unfinished ones, and one completed 5 x 5 puzzle! I am totally certain that I am making all of the usual beginner’s mistakes, and maybe more.

          Yet my few hours of experience has convinced me that “rejiggering the black squares” is not done either quickly or blithely. Each changed word might mean changes in several other words. If the puzzle is much filled, changing one word affects other words, and those other words affect yet more words. Chaos theory! The butterfly flaps its wings, and the letters all fall down in a heap! And frustration comes not just from struggling to find any words that will fit, but from having to choose from a universe of known candidates, only some of which are “juicy,” as Will puts it, and not all of which can be built upon to make subsequent words. A German proverb: “He who has choice, has torment.”

          My experience with trying to construct puzzles has made me more tolerant of “neap” and the like, and more respectful of the constructors. They have spend hours and hours laboring to present me with a puzzle that costs me a few pennies at most, or, just as often, is free.

  5. David L says:

    I was puzzled by “Bean” = NOB, but some dictionaries support ‘head’ as a definition of NOB. New to me, though.

    But I really don’t understand “Chisel, maybe” = ETCH. Etching is a chemical or photochemical process.

    Also, I wouldn’t have associated Genghis Khan with SIEGE. He was more your ransacking and pillaging type, I would have thought.

    Great to see NEAP again. There should be a CLAM in the puzzle somewhere.

    • PJ Ward says:

      BEQ provided the CLAM.

      • Martin says:

        Yeah, and clams ain’t fish, BEQ.

        • Papa John says:

          Am I missing some nuanced genius in the BEQ puzzle? All I see is more of the typical complaints so often lodged against other puzzles; such as the theme taking up so much territory that the remaining fill is compromised to include such dross /crosswordese as USO, VCR, HQS, NYSE,ENE, IPO, RTE, LSD; RARA, ABLE, CIG, OAF and SEDER. I count ten FIB’s, which are usually considered inferior cluing, and a preponderance of “meh” fill, like TASE, TALC, UH UH, ICON and more. Ignoring the uncouth, scatological aspect of the theme, the themes, themselves – WHIP MUDDER, UNRAVEL KNITTING — are contrived phrases that usually get short shrift from reviewers. (…and what Martin said.)

          By the way, where I come from, shit rolls downhill.

          [HTML tags are a royal pain for lousy typists like me. But, hey, I think I made it work!]

  6. Zulema says:

    Not just finished but enjoyed today’s NYT, as opposed to last week’s when I could have finished but refused. I agree CHISEL and ETCH are not synonymous but the whole thing worked. Didn’t know NOB or PSY but all gettable, and none of them mirror-writing.

  7. David L says:

    In the Klahn puzzle, was SKIPSROPE supposed to be a theme entry — as in ‘skips school’? Problem is that the corresponding across entry, INAMORATA, doesn’t work as a themer, unless Inamo School is a thing.

    [edit] or maybe just ‘in school’?

  8. Jerry says:

    Seems I missed the thread…why such disdain for “neap.” Overall, enjoyed the quote/puzzle.

  9. Alan D. says:

    Just a note on the CS puzzle that “school” can also precede the second word in the theme entries. Thus “school ties.” “School risk” seems a little arbitrary to me, but it does seem like a real thing.

    • Gary R says:

      “School ground” – yup. “School party” – I guess, but hardly “in the language.” “School bracelet” – see previous comment, add greater skepticism. “School risk” – are you serious?

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