Wednesday, April 29, 2015

AV Club 4:47 (Amy) 
NYT 4:00 (Amy) 
LAT 3:52 (Gareth) 
CS tk (Ade) 

Daniel Landman’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 29 15, no 0429

NY Times crossword solution, 4 29 15, no 0429

With the plural foreign interjection ACHS at 1-Across, I feared the worst. But we ended up with a math theme I liked better than yesterday’s. Six squares have letters that can spell words that mark the vertices of various shapes:

  • 20a. [ELK, geometrically, in the finished puzzle], RIGHT TRIANGLE. Not the only right triangle here. ARK and LEG also spell words and are skinny little right triangles. (Do the points have to be given in a certain order? Been a long time since I had geometry.)
  • 28a. [EARL, geometrically], TRAPEZOID.
  • 39a. [ELK, EARL, LEAK or GEAR, geometrically], POLYGON.
  • 48a. [LEAK, geometrically], RECTANGLE.
  • 58a. [GEAR, geometrically], PARALLELOGRAM.
  • 52d. [What each of this puzzle’s circled squares represents], VERTEX. No symmetrical partner in the theme, but I don’t mind it here.

I like how this plays out.

Good fill: SIDE NOTE, BACK PAIN, DOGGONE. Ungood fill: the uncommon SHAHDOM (since when is [Iran, formerly] anything but PERSIA??), B FLAT (I never like the musical terms), LIDA, LIRR, S.DAK., GTE, LEANT, … not loving those.

Two more things:

  • 7d. [Director Riefenstahl], LENI. She worked so well for Hitler, shame how she misused her talent. Would you believe my kid goes to school with a Leni?
  • 1d. [Mixing male and female characteristics, slangily], ANDRO. I have never, ever heard this as shorthand for “androgynous.” It’s entirely missing the -gyn part!

Four stars, mainly for the nifty theme.

Byron Walden’s AV Club crossword, “Mixed Up at Birth”

AV Club crossword solution, 4 29 15 "Mixed Up at Birth"

AV Club crossword solution, 4 29 15 “Mixed Up at Birth”

I’ve long known about this set of apt anagrams, but Byron takes them a step further by pairing each with a two-word phrase made from the same letters:

  • 21a. [Group considering works like “Gouache Ultrasound No. 2” by moms-to-be?], PRENATAL ART PANEL. Note that, entirely unrelatedly though sort of related, PLACENTA swaps the R of PRENATAL/PARENTAL for a C.
  • 36a. [Verizon offering for moms and dads?], PARENTAL RATE PLAN.
  • 49a. [Update about dads who are about to drift off?], PATERNAL NAP ALERT. Okay, NAP ALERT is wildly contrived (and I might start issuing such alerts). ART PANEL is rather contrived as well; RATE PLAN sticks out as the one that’s a real thing.

This 73-worder is 16 squares wide. Fairly wide-open feel to the grid.

Five more things:

  • 13d. [Bottom face of a gemstone], CULET. Holy cow! I just learned this one a couple months ago from a 1973 crossword. It was clued rather unhelpfully as [Facet] there. Not sure it enhances any puzzle other than one in a jeweler’s trade publication.
  • 37d. [“Presto!” alternative], “ALAKAZAM!” Fun.
  • 4d. [Like flatbreads, typically], OVEN-BAKED. Got slowed down here by assuming they were OVERBAKED. What?
  • 23d. [Well-run operation, as it were], TIGHT SHIP. Great entry. So are AP BIOLOGY, GUERNICA, and TED ALLEN.
  • 22d. [Allusive and epic, as writing], TOLSTOYAN. Anyone else want this to end with -ESQUE?

4.25 stars from me.

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150429

LA Times

I think we last had a TONIGHTSHOW crossword around the time CONAN came and went? Anyway, this features 4 out of 6 of the hosts’ first names in non-name contexts at the starts of the theme entries. I appreciate the non-name angle. Only including four out of six is awkward though, but almost certainly unavoidable. Firstly, six entries plus TONIGHTSHOW is an insane amount of content for a daily puzzle. Secondly, neither CONAN nor STEVE can easily get the non-name treatment. If you bend the rules a little there’s STEVEDORE, but that’s not an entry one bends rules for. At least the four chosen are all the J’s and I think more or less cognates. Lastly, you may also be forgiven if you’re wondering when BOB, RAY and ERNIE hosted the TONIGHTSHOW. Those are good entries, but a little confusing as long acrosses in a name-based theme! (There are stars to guide.) Anyway, the theme entries:

  • [*Knave in a black suit], JACKOFCLUBS. Paar
  • [*Griddle-cooked corn bread], JOHNNYCAKE. Carson
  • [*Symbol of nakedness], JAYBIRD. Leno
  • [*Like a well-made lock], JIMMYPROOF. Fallon

gingerI admire the grid design – 6 non-thematic 9’s, but it still feels balanced enough to allow solid fill. Yes, there is that tight little centre, but it was gone quickly enough. I mentioned BOBANDRAY (never heard of ’em, but they seem famous enough) and ERNIEPYLE (wanted GOMER first… a reflex) already, but there were also the pairs in the top-right and bottom-left. I know ARTCARNEY primarily from a line in Mad Magazine about the Flintstones that “Barney / Is No Art Carney”. I get a lot of what old US TV and other pop culture knowledge I have from Mad Magazine! Actually, the whole puzzle has quite an “old US TV” vibe going on. Rounding out the set of 9s, STRIKEOIL and BOHEMIANS are both nice answers. The latter’s clue, [Dvorák and Smetana], made me immediately want to know why CZECH had so many extra blanks! PICASSO and BAKLAVA are a pair of 7’s and both excellent choices.

Other stuff:

  • [Senate electee], MEMBER. I thought those were SENATORS…
  • [Russia-Manchuria border river], AMUR. The Amur Falcon is a not infrequent visitor to these parts.
  • [Learns], HEARS. HEARSJIMMY?
  • [Subjects of two Goya paintings], MAJAS. Pretty sure it’s one MAJA, two paintings…
  • [One who whistles while he works], REF. Creative clue, but I’m not sure whistle is used as a verb in that context.

3.5 Stars

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12 Responses to Wednesday, April 29, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I like… Must have been a challenge to construct.
    I’m guessing that SHAHDOM is intended to indicate a description of the government style rather than the formal name of the country– so Iran was a Shahdom as opposed to a kingdom or an empire. This is like having a clue that says: (Russia, formerly) and the answer would be Empire (except it’s not as distinctive). I believe there were other Shahdoms in Asia– for example in India under Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal. But the Persian Shah considered himself the Shahenshah, or the Shah of all Shah– like the King of Kings.
    I’m not an expert on any of this, but it’s my understanding from growing up in that general part of the world.

    • Gareth says:

      TSARDOM is of course more specifically descriptive, but less used. I think it parallels SHAHDOM in that regard, though I don’t have anything against either being in a crossword.

  2. Giovanni P. says:

    The bottom center bit killed me on this one. LEANT is a totally new one on me. It is a nifty idea for the theme though, and it is nice the letters in the vertices spell out words. ARK and GEL form two more RIGHT TRIANGLEs.

  3. Ethan Friedman says:

    Amy: it’s worth solving the NYT online in the applet to see how they display the solution.

    It’s very nice (illustrates the shapes in different colors when you click on each word at the top).

    Whoever’s starting running that (Deb?) has gotten really creative and taken advantage of the applet’s power!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Ethan, I asked Deb about that. She didn’t do it, but she didn’t not do it, either, if you get what I mean.

  4. Margaret says:

    I liked the LAT theme though the extra proper names threw me off — I knew that neither Bob nor Ray was a Tonight Show host and couldn’t believe the puzzle had such an error in it… because that one wasn’t a theme answer, duh. Liked the other names as well, particularly ART CARNEY. Dislikes included AMUR and the intersection of SPLOSH and LIRR. The L was the only thing that seemed to make sense for splosh but I’m not familiar with LIRR.

    • Gareth says:

      What did AMUR do wrong other than being unknown to you? Given there are always two statuses for ANY entry – known/not known. A lot of younger people will have no idea who ARTCARNEY is. Should they dislike the entry then? The important thing is to balance the placement of difficult answers for the majority of solvers. I’d say the only time a single entry in isolation is clearly and undeniably bad is when it is contrived (Random Roman Numerals, spelt-out numbers, made-up abbreviations) or obsolete (and also not occurring in say Shakespeare, the Bible or similar.) Not having them cross is part of that! I’d say SPLOSH is pretty inferrable though, as shown by your inferring it!

  5. Gareth says:

    NYT: Really nicely executed, even if I didn’t look at the circles when solving, I just put the shape that fit. Do Americans really not say LEANT??? That’s standard English in these parts.

  6. Kevin says:

    I don’t see the bottom two puzzles on this page… (LAT and CS). The links also go nowhere…?

  7. Martin from Charlottesville says:

    There was recently a conversation about the answer “Lents” and
    now in today’s NY Times puzzle we have a word that I like, “leant,” that
    is a homonym of Lent and that Dictionary.Com says is Chiefly British.

    Since “Lents” sounded odd to some, I wondered if a fiendish crossword
    constructor (I will not name the one I am thinking of, though his
    name rhymes with “Cobb Bonn”) would take things a step further
    and use “leants” in a puzzle. :)

    “Leants” is legitimate as a way to refer to multiple occurrences of “leant” in text,
    e.g. “There were three ‘leants’ in the student’s haiku, but the kindly English
    teacher gave him a ‘B+’ anyway.” Since “leant” is either a simple past tense of
    the verb “lean” or a past participle of it (according to, I don’t think
    that “Inclinations” or the like are valid clues, because they are nouns. I think of
    “leanings” as synonymous with “inclinations,” but not “leants.” Perhaps a
    grammar expert could comment.

    I would not put it past Bob “Cobb Bonn” to use “leants”
    with the kind of cluing that I suggested, e.g. [word that occurs in all the theme answers].
    Some of the theme answers could be “FICKLE ANTS,” “LE ANT SOUPE” etc.
    It would be fun to read the comments if that puzzle were to be reviewed here.

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