Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fireball 12:44 (Amy) 
NYT 6:39 (Amy) 
LAT 8:15 (Gareth) 
CS 8:38 (Ade) 
BEQ 8:21 (Ben) 

David Phillips’ Fireball crossword, “Movin’ On Up”

Fireball crossword solution, 4 30 15 "Movin' On Up"

Fireball crossword solution, 4 30 15 “Movin’ On Up”

Your mileage may vary, but I found this to be horribly uneven in the cluing difficulty, with the southeast corner taking me about as long as the other three fourths of the puzzle. I even resorted to checking my solution (had SIS for SIB, and a dog TREAT for a boxer’s TITLE). That corner, man, it was like the worst of a Newsday Saturday Stumper, a bunch of vaguenesses that intersected.

The theme is “Movin’ On Up,” and four nonsymmetrically slotted answers are phrases that don’t fit into their allotted space—the answer turns upwards at ON and then back to the right. We have 22a: SLEEP ON IT, 32a: CLIP-ON TIE, 46a: ONE-ON-ONE, and 56a: STAY ON TASK. There are other spots in the grid where an answer could make a jog up and over at a black square, but there aren’t more ON phrases here.

Nine clues:

  • 19a. [Ward with specialized degrees?], BURN UNIT. Ouch. Burn humor?
  • 40a. [“Company” man], ROBERT. No idea who this refers to.
  • 45a. [Silk Road locale], ASIA. Wasn’t positive it wouldn’t be modern-day IRAN or IRAQ, so I didn’t fill this in early on.
  • 49a. [Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy, throughout his career], RAIDER. Never heard of him.
  • 53a. [“Spare me the details”], I WON’T ASK. Feels a hair contrived, maybe?
  • 62a. [“Her looks have got no parallel,” according to a Disney song], BELLE. Don’t know my Disney tunes.
  • 3d. [Mark of naïveté?], DIERESIS. I prefer the diaeresis spelling.
  • 24d. [191% of D], CMLV. Roman numeral math doesn’t redeem random Roman numerals for me.
  • 38d. [Having nothing left to lose?], STARKERS. Meaning naked. I don’t typically think of losing in terms of pieces of clothing.

3.5 stars from me. The theme wasn’t as enchanting as I’d hoped, and the (for me) sheer unevenness of the cluing made for an unfun solve.

Herre Schouwerwou’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 30 15, no 0430

NY Times crossword solution, 4 30 15, no 0430

We’ve got five double-pun phrases including a first or last name in each:

  • 19a. [Naked “Parks and Recreation” star?], POEHLER BARE. Polar bear. The show’s over, but will continue in syndication for years to come. Last name.
  • 61a. [Event at Walden Pond?], THOREAU FAIR. Thoroughfare. Last name.
  • 12d. [Clothing line from an Oscar-winning singer?], CHER WEAR. Shareware. First name here.
  • 20d. [Offspring of Beauty?], BELLE HEIR. Bel Air. Fictional first name.
  • 39d. [The Galloping Gourmet in Germany?], HERR KERR. Hair care. Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet of yore, real last name. He actually had another cookbook out in 2007 but I rarely hear anything about him.

Solid, as puns go.

It’s Thursday, so we get a 74-worder with corners stacked with 7-letter answers. The fill is pretty good, though I could do without ESSA, RDA, ROES, RETAR, and var. EMEER.

Four more things:

  • 41d. [Any of about 18 elements on the periodic table], NONMETAL. Huh. According to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, there are 7 elements classed as nonmetals. Maybe the clue is including noble gases and halogens?
  • 1d. [Conductor of note], COPPER. As in the metallic element, a conductor of electricity, and not a maestro you’ve never heard of.
  • 27d. [Wear, and look great doing it], ROCK. As in: I am rocking these pajamas.
  • 51d. [Paige of Broadway and London’s West End], ELAINE. Who?? Not on my radar. I don’t follow musical theater, which she’s been prominent in for five decades.

3.9 stars from me. The RETAR/EMEER debits knock it down below a 4-star rating.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Alternate Endings” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.18.23 PM

It’s another fun-but-frustrating solve this week, where getting the gimmick took a while.  As it turns out, I wasn’t getting tripped up by the theme clues this time around – each one had two answers that overlay on top of one another to finish the down clues:

  • 17A: Concluding words about David Ortiz’s team? — THEREFORE/THE RED SOX
  • 39A: “What is the deeeeeeal with Armageddon? Oh great, here comes my postal worker nemesis”? — HELL ON EARTH/HELLO NEWMAN
  • 62A: 3.785 liters of the universal donor type? — ONE GALLON/O NEGATIVE

Even if it felt like I was seeing double on the theme clues, I found a lot to like elsewhere in the fill.  Somehow I don’t think Rita ORA‘s “I Will Never Let You Down” is in heavy rotation in BEQ’s house, but I can’t deny that her last name makes for great fill in 55A.  With such wide-ranging nods to ELTON JOHN (11D), NE-YO (26D) and Tom MORELLO(13D) of Rage Against the Machine, I was slightly surprised that WILCO (16A) didn’t get a similarly musical clue, but the upper-left corner did seem a bit packed with musicians.  41D and 42D‘s combo of Q SCORES and ULULATE was a fun pairing of unusual fill as well.

Elsewhere in the puzzle, a bunch of the little 3- and 4-letter words kept frustrating me since they’re not necessarily the most recognizable terms.  Italian PM Aldo MORO (7D), Dictator Lon NOL (28A) and the constellation ARA (54D, which is apparently ALTAR shaped, after consulting clue 59D) aren’t really in my crossword vocabulary, but they didn’t get too much in the way of an otherwise great puzzle.

3.5/5 stars

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

LA Times 150430

LA Times

I found the precise phrasing of the theme answers difficult to suss. I think that may be why this ran on a Thursday. The theme answers represent three occasions when one might sniff: illness, sadness and smelling something rank. So: IVECAUGHTACOLD, THISISREALLYSAD and WHATSTHATSMELL.

The light theme leaves acres of space left in which Mr. Wechsler can play. He has opted for a design with big corners. Bullets because I’m late:

  • [Bit of plankton], ALGA and [Canis and Felis], GENERA – biological intersection to open!
  • [Shepherd’s ___], PIE. Which mostly goes by cottage pie in these parts.
  • [Some road signals], BLINKERS. Which mostly go by INDICATORS in these parts.
  • [“Alice in Wonderland” (2010) star Wasikowska], MIA. Also one of the most popular names for bitches these days it seems. Along with [Cocker spaniel of film], LADY and ROXY. DANGER probably fourth.
  • [NYC-to-Montauk], LIRR. Three times in two days!
  • [Barnyard meal], SLOP. Not if you’re at all serious about farming. Garbage in, garbage out.
  • [“Dont Pass Me By” songwriter], RINGO. Strange, I thought clues were asking for the surname unless specified? My go to “Don’t Pass Me By” song is by Zimbabwean child-singer David Scobie. At 14 he had voice eerily similar to Neil Diamond!
  • [Food often served seared], SCALLOPS. Never eaten them. I’m no culinary sophisticate.
  • [Classic two-seated roadster], MGS. My brother owned an 81 MGB until he got married and childed. It was nominally a 3 seater, if the third person was a yoga adept.
  • [Barbecue morsel], RIB. Tried COB first. PSA: Corn cobs block a dog’s small intestine rather too effectively.
  • [Ed.’s pile], MSS. Got a whole bunch of correspondence back from Rich Norris tonight! Some good news, some not!

Well-executed minimalist theme! 4.25 Stars. Gareth

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Let Nothing Come Between Us”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.30.15: "Let Nothing Come Between Us"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.30.15: “Let Nothing Come Between Us”

Hey everyone! Hope you all have been enjoying the last day in April. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, has a slick theme: each of the four theme answers are two-word entries in which the final letter of the first word is a “U,” and the first letter of the second word starts with an “S.” 

  • IMPROMPTU SPEECH (17A: [Address that requires quick thinking])
  • TOFU SALAD (25A: [Vegan’s lunch choice, perhaps])
  • FLU SEASON (46A: [Reason for taking a shot])
  • HINDU SCRIPTURES (51A: [Writings like the Bhagavad Gita])

I’m pretty sure that I never owned a TONKA truck as a kid, but totally remember playing with it extensively at my friend’s house (25D: [Mighty Dump Truck toymaker]). Now that I think about it, and given my personality now, why was I so enamored with toy trucks then? I should have been much more of a Hot Wheels, race car guy. The clue to PET SHOP, honestly, made me think of all the amazing Labradors that I’ve come across recently, including Jen Tanner’s lab, who always is one of the superstars of the ACPT every year (34D: [Place for lab supplies]). Two of the entries I liked a lot was the sweet vocabulary of MELANGE (18D: [Hodgepodge]) and FROG PRINCE, which makes me want to read that short story once again (27D: [Royal damsel’s true love in a Brothers Grimm tale]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: O’BRIEN (32A: [Conan seen by night owls]) – Tonight is the NFL Draft, and the draft in 1983 was famous for having six different quarterbacks taken in the first round of the draft, including Ken O’BRIEN, who was taken 24th overall by the New York Jets out of UC-Davis. Although O’Brien was a two-time Pro Bowl (1985, 1991), it just so happens that two of the next four picks in the NFL Draft happened to be players that would make the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and Washington cornerback Darrell Green. If you’re a Jets fan, that nugget shouldn’t surprise you at all!

TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


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20 Responses to Thursday, April 30, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: My favorite part is that the puns rhymed… “The Polar Bear Felt she needed some serious Hair Care before getting on the Thoroughfare to Bel Air”.

    NOBLEGAS fits were NONMETAL sits. I know it’s factually wrong, but I was getting desperate. That’s because I zipped trough swaths of this like a Monday (I don’t typically do much zipping later in the week), but for a while the SE wound up being a whole nother puzzle. I had HOKUs (as in Hokus Pokus) rather than HOKUM, and so off that S I put Sedate to the clue Quiet (as opposed to MUFFLE), TOP tIer in lieu of TOP LINE and so on. Quite a plausible little puzzle was emerging in that corner before it had to be dismantled.

  2. Martin says:

    Yes, Amy, “non-metal” is a pretty loose term and usually includes the halogens and noble gases. The clue had the weasel-word “about,” not to cover 18 vs. 7, but to cover the interesting element astatine (At). It’s exceedingly unstable (astatine means unstable) and rare (there’s less than a gram in the entire planet) so we’ve never seen a sample. It may be like a halogen or it may be metallic. Also, the as-yet-unsynthesized element 118, ununoctium (“one-one-eightium”) may be non-metallic or metallic (non-metallic is the leant from Einstein). So there are between 17 and 19, with 18 a good compromise.

    • bhensley says:

      In astronomy there are only two non-metals: hydrogen and helium.

      • Martin says:

        Yep, astronomers are weird. H is X; He is Y and everything else is Z, also called metallicity. Oxygen and nitrogen are metals.

        • David L says:

          Even more confusingly, there are hints that hydrogen becomes a metal (in the traditional sense) under very high compression, such as in the core of Jupiter.

  3. dave glasser says:

    Fireball: Robert is the central character of Sondheim’s musical Company, though for some reason I think of him as Bobby. (And he is kind of the most boring character in the show.)

  4. Howard B says:

    Turns out THOREAU is/was actually pronounced “thorough” (“rhymes with furrow”) in Concord MA where he lived, although I had always heard it with accent on the second syllable.
    But KERR is pronounced CARE? Heard his name spoken many times, and it was always pronounced ‘CURR’ as in ‘current’. (schwa for the U).
    So naturally I floundered on this puzzle :).

  5. David L says:

    The Galloping Gourmet is a blast from the past. I can’t remember how he pronounced his name, but rhyming it with ‘care’ doesn’t seem impossible. The actress Deborah Kerr rhymed her name with ‘car,’ I think.

    I’ve always pronounced Thoreau with stress on the second syllable, but only because that’s what most other people say. In my case, rhyming it with ‘thorough’ doesn’t help, because I pronounce that word with a second syllable schwa, so not the same as ‘furrow.’

    Finally, what is the deal with BELLEHEIR/Bel Air? Neither google nor wikipedia enlightens me. Is this some Disney thing I don’t know about?

  6. Margaret says:

    How handy I learned LIRR from yesterday’s LAT, since it was in today’s also.

  7. Margaret says:

    Gareth, I just saw your response to my comment from yesterday. As far as AMUR goes, I understand that four-letter rivers need to be in crosswords due to their handy letter patterns, but I’m never going to love them. Sorry. And as far as the crossing of SPLOSH and LIRR goes, I wasn’t saying it wasn’t fair or that I couldn’t infer it, just that I didn’t like it because I didn’t know it (and now I do.) A while ago you wondered if it was worth writing up the LAT because no one commented on it, so I was trying to show that we are interested in those posts by adding my two cents; I didn’t expect to get slapped down.

    • Gareth says:

      That was a slapdown? I was remarking the not knowing any individual answer shouldn’t have a big impact on overall solving experience compared with crossing unknowns or a clump running parallel… If that is a majority experience then it very definitely is a puzzle flaw!

  8. sheera says:

    Loved today’s NYT clues

  9. CY Hollander says:

    I’m surprised that no one here seems to have mentioned that all the theme entries included the sound of AIR with a different spelling each time. I thought that was the main point of the theme. The puns were certainly nothing to write home about.

  10. jefe says:

    SE was evil. I had TICKET for STREET as [Word with price or parking].

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