Thursday, May 14, 2015

NYT 5:41 (Amy) 
Fireball 6:45 (Amy) 
LAT 5:19 (Gareth) 
CS 9:34 (Ade) 
BEQ 5:53 (Ben) 

Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 14 15, no 0514

NY Times crossword solution, 5 14 15, no 0514

30a. [With 37-Across, lose it … or what 12 answers in this puzzle appear to do] clues BURST OUT / LAUGHING, and wherever a HA is indicated, it’s banished outside the grid. The burst-out entries include 1a haLFMAST, 16a YOU BETCha, 23a haNGER, 46a BERTha, 56a haIRY LEGS, 59a WAUKESha, 5d haSSLE, 11d haVE WE MET, 13d haLCYON, 36d APOCRYPha, 44d TABITha, and 49d YAMAha. All those HA entries are parked in symmetrical spots, an elegant and ambitious touch considering that 12 answers are involved (plus the two-part revealer).

I would expect lots of clunky fill given the presence of 14 theme entries, but really, the biggest scowl I had was for 17a. [Co-star of “Grown Ups,” 2010], SANDLER—and that’s good fill. Shame what sort of material Sandler chooses to make, isn’t it?

Seven more things:

  • 28a. [Almost spilling over], ABRIM. Least favorite answer word here. V-TEN with a spelled-out number is a close second.
  • 42a. [“Heaven forbid!”], “GOD, NO!” Fresh fill.
  • 49a. [Shostakovich symphony “Babi ___”], YAR. It memorializes a dreadful massacre of Soviet Jews during German occupation.
  • 59a. [Wisconsin city near Lake Michigan], WAUKESHA. Okay, so technically you could say that a suburb 20 miles from the lake is “near” the lake. But by Milwaukee-area standards, Waukesha is among the suburbs furthest from Lake Michigan, so it’s a weird clue. (Milwaukeeishly speaking.)
  • 3d. [Unit of work], MAN-YEAR. I had MAN-HOUR and nothing else was working out there. V. confusing.
  • 15d. [Paintings outside the mainstream, per Jean Dubuffet], ART BRUT. Not a term I recall learning, but it makes sense.
  • 34d. [Scramble], MAD DASH. Love this entry.

4.25 stars. It was neither too hard nor too easy to figure out the outward-bound HA gimmick, and there was some interesting fill (and a lot less junk than I’d expect with that amount of theme material).

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 84”

Fireball crossword solution, 5 14 15 "Themeless 84"

Fireball crossword solution, 5 14 15 “Themeless 84”

Lots of tough clues and tough answers in this one. Here are some that befuddled me for at least a time:

  • 6a. [Former “MythBusters” cast member Byron], KARI. They let three subsidiary people go at the same time, and mostly we only ever heard their first names.
  • 16a. [Deli roll], HERO. I thought a hero was a sub sandwich. It’s also just a bread roll?
  • 20a. [Character in many Woody Woodpecker shorts], BUZZ BUZZARD. Inferrable with some letters, but not a big-name toon.
  • 44a. [Its center is 5’8″ above and 7’9¼” away from the oche], BULL’S-EYE. No idea what the oche is. Dictionary says it’s British, also spelled hockey, means the line you stand behind when playing darts. Man, I hope oche shows up in trivia sometime.
  • 53a. [Jazz clarinetist with the autobiography “Really the Blues”], MEZZ MEZZROW. Who?? Not an inferrable name. The last name is uncommon and the first name/nickname isn’t one anyone else is using, to my knowledge.
  • 34d. [Benjamin Moore paint color similar to Pale Sea Mist], SESAME. Golden/tan or pale blue/green?
  • 45d. [Insulation measure], U VALUE. I’ve never bought any insulation. Didn’t know the term.

Someone was just mentioning OLIVE LOAF the other day. And here it is in the puzzle! I have never tried olive loaf and never will.

Not much in the fill that captivated me. Liked BUG OFF, but the four-Z marquee entries were more like olive loaf to me. 3.66 stars.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “The Other Way Around” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.46.44 PM

Last week’s BEQ wasn’t a favorite, but this week’s is a step back in the correct direction. From the title of the puzzle, it was clear some wordplay would be involved, but this was a nice twist on reversing letters. Rather than switching individual characters, it’s all about reversing the order of syllables in one word to get a new phrase:

  • 18A: Optimistic business goal? — ROSY GROWTH
  • 23A: Gut reaction in a ship’s hospital? — SICK BAY INSTINCT
  • 38A: Guided trip through state assistance? — WELFARE TOUR
  • 53A: Any of nine characters that appear underneath a picture of a leaping stag? — JOHN DEERE LETTER
  • 60A: Carbs eaten before a martial arts workout program? — TAE BO PASTA

There are some nice finds here. JOHN DEERE LETTER gave me the “aha” I needed to crack exactly what was going on, and I think it’s between SICK BAY INSTINCT and TAE BO PASTA for my favorite amongst the theme entries. Other fill I liked this week: another appearance by the HAIM sisters (57A), TWEED (66A), learning what a EUONYM was (6D), and the use of I/O ERROR (25D) as a “result of a bad drive”.

Elsewhere in the puzzle, it felt like there was a lot of fill that was either over or underclued. I still have no idea how a TREY (1A) is a “basket from downtown” (but feel free to educate me in the comments), and I would have loved to see another ELO song referenced for their clue at 32A (“Telephone Line”? “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”?). These are pretty minor offenses, though. BEQ’s on the right track with this one, but it could have been a little better.

3.5/5 stars

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Getting Closer”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.14.15: "Getting Closer"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.14.15: “Getting Closer”

Good morning, everyone! Before I start, just giving you a heads-up that you’ll like the “sports…smarter” moment today, I promise! But today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, has a slick theme. In it, each of the five theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the first words in each, sequentially, are used as a degree of proximity in guessing games.

  • COLD REMEDY (17A: [Help for a common winter woe])
  • COOL DUDE (27A: [Socially savvy guy])
  • WARM COLOR (36A: [Red or yellow])
  • HOT PANTS (50A: [Short shorts]) – Tell me about the time in your life when you went through your “hot pants” phase, ladies!
  • BOILING HOT (60A: [Apoplectic])

The last entry I got to end the grid was E-READER, and, because I couldn’t make out the hyphenated nature to the answer, I was totally confused when trying to fill out the entry and feel confident about it (12D: [High-volume device?]). Having that intersect with KERN was a slight spot of bother as well because I couldn’t come up with his name as quickly as I should have (16A: [Jerome in the Songwriters Hall of Fame]). I only remember CHOBANI as the brand that Whole Foods didn’t want in its stores because of the complaints the milk came from cows that were fed those GMOs (40D: [Dannon Oikos rival]). There was a lot of geography in the grid, with the likes of BERMUDA (11D: [British territory in the Atlantic]), AMMAN (37D: [Jordan’s most populous city]), OAHU (58A: [Island home of the USS Arizona Memorial]) and ANTWERP, a city I definitely wish to go to sometime soon (26D: [Large port city of northern Belgium]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STRODE (48D: [Walked with vigor]) – For movie buffs out there, I’m almost certain you remember the scene from Spartacus, where Spartacus’s (Kirk Douglas) life is spared in a fight to the death with the black male wielding a trident and net. The person who played the compassionate slave with the trident was Woody STRODE, who, while as a collegian at UCLA, played running back on the football team and was a football teammate of both Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and Kenny Washington, the first African-American to sign a pro football contract with a National Football League team post-World War II. Strode soon followed Washington as one of the first African-Americans post-WWII to play in the NFL. Here’s that scene from Spartacus. Oh, and Crassus sucks!

It’s TGIF tomorrow! Have yourself a great rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


Kevin Christian’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150514

LA Times

Definition themes need to really do something interesting to work. Working crossers to figure out how the arbitrary phrase is parsed when you already know the sense of the answer is not a fun kind of puzzle. Here, an attempt is made at playfulness, with the theme clues running the alphabet from [Ban] to [Bun]. What you get is either utterly boring: LEGALLYPROHIBIT, TRASHRECEPTACLE and BREADFORAHOTDOG (I maintain bread and buns are entirely separate baked goods, but Americans seem to use these words slightly differently.) or culturally isolating. I know who ACDCSINGERSCOTT is, but a lot won’t, even though AC/DC have sold an awful lot of records. I didn’t know that [Ben] was the SEQUELTOWILLARD but now I do (the film, not its more lastingly memorable theme-song.)

Like yesterday’s puzzle, we get four spanners. The lack of interesting theme material isn’t helping, but I found much more tough gristly bits here than yesterdays grid. SETTS/ELORO/SOR/UNOS and I guess ELAND (it’s hard for me to perceive how well-known ELANDs are to Americans..) is a disaster. Outside of crosswords, I encounter SETT as a badger’s home far more than the other sense, FWIW. You can probably use at most a couple of entries of that notability in a grid before you lose a lot of solvers’ attention. Sure, some people here have memorised them all and no longer notice. After SETTS, we also get AMAH and KAPP, crossing awkw. LAL.

1.75 Stars. I’m sure I’ll enjoy Mr. Christian’s next offering, but this didn’t work for me at all.

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20 Responses to Thursday, May 14, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Excellent Thursday. Perfectly fun.
    At first, I found it hard get a foothold in the NW because of all the missing HAs. I thought there had to be a rebus, and drifted towards the center, but then that played like a regular puzzle. Which was nice and confusing, until I saw LAUGHING and BERT– and had a HA moment!

    (which happen to be my initials)

  2. sbmanion says:

    Fun Thursday.

    When I was in high school in 1966-67, a friend and I saw Yevgeny Yevtushenko recite his poetry at the University of Buffalo. I forget if he recited it in Russian or English or both. We only knew about it because we were taking Russian I and the teacher told us about it. Poetry is not my strong suit, but I remember being very moved by the power of the great poem, Babi Yar.

    Here is Yevtushenko reciting Babi Yar with music by Shostakovich.


  3. Ethan says:

    When is TOTES going to be clued as “Absolutely!”?? Get with it, NYT!

  4. CY Hollander says:

    NYT: I vehemently object to the clue for 25 Down. On and about are two DIFFERENT things; hence the expression “on OR about”. On is exactly on. About is nearby.

    Things I learned from the crossword today: topknots are stylish. Who knew?!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “What’s your TED Talk on?” = “What’s your TED Talk about?”

      • CY Hollander says:

        Good point, Amy. I guess I got too distracted by “on or about” to think of other ways the prepositions are used. I withdraw my objection.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I went to the gym this morning, and my trainer Martin had his hair in a topknot. I was delighted to let him know how stylish the crosswords say that is.

      • Martin says:

        In the 60’s, I grew my very curly, unruly hair long because long hair. It was full of knots. Some were on the top. What we do for style.

      • Kameron says:

        “Man buns” and top knots are the same thing, right? Distinguished only by the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal et al don’t want to call them top knots?

  5. Michael Cornfield says:

    A “trey” is a three-point basket from beyond the arc, AKA “from downtown.”

  6. Gareth says:

    Excellent NYT theme concept, execution and generally a fun grid. Like Huda, I started out with anagrams. I appreciate the symmetry, as I may have had trouble finishing otherwise.

  7. dr. fancypants says:

    NYT was excellent today.

    Fireball… not so much. Too much of the challenge of the FB puzzle was tied up in the proper nouns. I muddled through just fine, but without the pleasure I’ve come to expect from FB.

  8. Martin from Charlottesville says:

    Reactions to the NY Times CW with disappearing letters: [Wouldn’t give a ‘penny for it.]

    I have not subscribed that long; today was the first time for me that letters were actually removed, not just jammed together as a rebus into one square.

    Come on Friday!

  9. ahimsa says:

    NYT: I liked it, even though I had a really hard time in the lower right (had to run all the vowels to get that E in the WAUKES(HA)/NYE cross). Also, I can never remember whether BERETTA is the gun or the TV show but knew that the chocolate had to be FERRERO.

    Can someone explain the clue for 32 down? (“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo …”)

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