Wednesday, May 20, 2015

NYT 4:38 (Amy) 
AV Club 9:11 (Amy) 
LAT 4:55 (Gareth) 
CS 11:19 (Ade) 

Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 20 15, no 0520

NY Times crossword solution, 5 20 15, no 0520

I really like this theme—the theme answers look like a 4-letter word repeated three times. Like the war movie Tora! Tora! Tora! Only the 12 letters actually split into words of different lengths:

  • 20a. [In relation to someone’s travel document?], VIS-A-VIS A VISA.
  • 33a. [“Grampa Simpson, describe a Genesis figure”?], ABE, LABEL ABEL.
  • 41a. [Jockey who’s jeered by me?], RIDER I DERIDE. This one doesn’t have a “RIDE” portion, while the other three all end with the 4-letter chunk standing as a word. I was initially parsing this as RI DERIDE RIDE.
  • 57a. [Detective catches sight of bakery wares?], P.I. ESPIES PIES.

Fresh theme, kinda fun to read out loud.

With a fairly ordinary 48 theme squares and a word count of 78, I’m not quite sure why the fill felt as clunky as it did. You know what? I think it was the TV volume my family was using while I was solving. Most vexatious. Because looking at the grid, I see IRAE and STENOS as the only ones that really bring on a scowl.

Five more things:

  • 23a. [Holiday not widely observed by Quakers], EASTER. Did not know that. I wonder why the Quakers aren’t Eastery.
  • 31a. [Many a MundoFox watcher], LATINO. Had no idea there was a MundoFox channel.
  • 51a. [Cap named for a Robert Burns hero], TAM. Had no idea that Burns’ “Tam o’ Shanter” referred to a person. (And no, he’s not from a place or forebear named Shanter.)
  • 5d. [With 11-Down, barking rodent], PRAIRIE / DOG. They bark? That’s why they’re called prairie dogs? Huh. I am learning a lot from this puzzle.
  • 53d. [Wood used in matchmaking], ASPEN. I never knew wooden matches had any particular tree preference. (Aspen wood is less likely to burn fast. Well, that makes sense.) I also have never seen the word matchmaking used other than to refer to hooking two people up romantically.

Four stars from me.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Star Search”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.20.15: "Star Search"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.20.15: “Star Search”

Welcome to Hump Day, everyone! I’m currently half-asleep since I spent the night and into the early morning watching a multiple overtime hockey game. (Not that I needed anything to add to my insomnia.) Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by a star of crossword-puzzle constructing, Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, has multiple-word theme answers that have the letters “star” spanning two of the words.

  • GANGSTA RAP (17A: [Ice Cube genre]) – I know all of you are in-the-closet gangsta rap fans! Two out of three people reading this column own N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton album, right?!?!?!
  • SALES TARGETS (25A: [Some business goals])
  • RESIST ARREST (46A: [Not come quietly, e.g.])
  • CANVAS TARP (60A: [Makeshift tent, maybe])

Man, I had a rough time in initially putting in answers that, when looking back at it, didn’t make too much sense. Don’t know why “Ken” got stuck in my head instead of NAN when trying to complete the duo, especially when seeing that clue a good number of times before (61A: [Twin of Bert Bobbsey]). Also, I originally had the “S” in 39D and put in “son-in-law” until I was able to untangle and then figure out STEPDADS (39D: [Acquired kin]). We have a little bit of a late 1970s history lesson going on with both SHAH (32A: [1979 exile]) and IRAN appearing in the grid (10A: [1979 hostage locale]). I think SOPHIA is the first non-Bea Arthur clue relating to The Golden Girls that I’ve seen in a while (9D: [Estelle’s role on “The Golden Girls”]). Always have associated TINE with a point on a fork but not on an animal, so I got to learn something today as well (30D: [Antler feature]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ENGLISH (4D: [London language]) – One of the great pure scorers of the 1980s, former NBA player Alex ENGLISH is best known for being the spearhead of the high-scoring Denver Nuggets teams under then head coach Doug Moe. In 1983, the eight-time All Star led the NBA in scoring by averaging 28.4 points per game. His career high in points per game came in the 1986 season, when he averaged 29.8 per game. English was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Michael Dewey’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times  150520

LA Times

I >think< this is a little more elegant than your typical “word that can follow a part of the theme phrases” theme. That’s because all the “X SHOTs” make specifically basketball shots. A bank shot from MEMORYBANK, a set shot from TELEVISIONSET, a hook shot from GRAPPLINGHOOK, and a jump shot from BUNGEEJUMP. I don’t follow basketball (aka you score, I score, let’s call the whole thing off), but I think those are all names of shots in the sport.

A fairly restrained theme, and consequently a mostly in control grid with interesting longer answers. I just picked up two CD’s of Gary Moore so LEADGUITAR is linking to him. The other longer downs of POCKETVETO, OAKLAND and OPENBAR make a good set.

There are few clunkers to be seen, but IAIM is a particularly absurd partial and the outlier in the grid! It may be a bonus theme answer, but I doubt that very much. Oh, there’s also contrived plural name SEANS.

KOLI battled to close this one out in the top-left. I sort of remembered ZIMA, but clung to lIMP instead of GIMP, making things look off. I then started doubting ACES and considered the grammatically implausible ICES…

Other remarks:

  • [Pebble Beach cry], FORE. I’m sure it’s not only the case, but my impression from the TV is that when you miscue on that course, the ball is heading ocean-wards rather than towards people…
  • [Start to fall?], PRAT. This is never clued as [Anglia asswipe] or similar…
  • [Way to ski], TRAIL. Huh? Anybody? I think it means trailing behind a boat? Wait, this means a ski trail. Yeah, that’s it. I live in the sub-tropics. Give me a break!
  • SAUTES crosses OLEO. I sauteed a mushroom in marg aka oleo last night and it was delish… Wasn’t sure that would work.

3.5 Stars

Aimee Lucido’s American Values Club crossword, “Square Meal”

AV Club crossword solution, 5 20 15 "Square Meal"

AV Club crossword solution, 5 20 15 “Square Meal”

21×21 size, rebus theme with food items in single squares. Our “meal” includes candy (THE CANDY MAN crossing EYE CANDY), milk (GOT MILK/MILK DUD), chicken (CHICKENPOX/CHICKEN RUN), one single pea (PEACOAT/PEACOCK), an apple (CRABAPPLE/APPLEJACK), rice (ANNE RICE and RICE RAT, a term I didn’t know that’s clued with [Swampy rodent]), and bread (RYE BREAD/SODA BREAD, both very literal breads). That’s a terrible menu. Would not order that meal at a restaurant.

The rebus squares in this left/right symmetry grid are plotted in symmetrical places. The eye is drawn to the middle of the grid, where there is a long NOODLE in the midst of CANOODLED. And there are a couple random other bits of food in the puzzle, non-rebus-style—MOCHI and PAPAYA.

Fill I didn’t know includes:

  • 88a. KIRA. Glad I knew the crossing crosswordese, ENIAC, and the heavy metal propensity for *IKKI spellings rather than *ICKI (no recollection of RIKKI Rockett but there’s Nikki Sixx), because [Godly figure in the manga series “Death Note”] took me nowhere.
  • 92a. [Spotify competitor], RDIO.

Fill I liked: HATE MAIL, ILL-BRED, HERMIONE, HIPSTER, the aforementioned CANOODLED.

In general, I do prefer a daily-sized AVX puzzle. I get tired of working on Sunday-sized puzzles. And yes, I recognize that I do most of them in under 10 minutes. But it’s a long 10 minutes, and I’d prefer to spend fewer minutes on random fill. And yes, I recognize that the super speed demons like Dan Feyer would finish this puzzle in 4 minutes and change. (Good gravy, he solved last Sunday’s CRooked puzzle in 3:19? *weeps*) It’s efficient, but what isn’t efficient is the countless hours of puzzle solving that it would take me to gain that sort of speed.

3.75 stars.

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15 Responses to Wednesday, May 20, 2015

  1. EB says:

    Loved this theme–so clever and appropriate difficulty for a Wednesday. I parsed the last theme answer as PIES P.I. ESPIES–but I think yours makes more grammatical sense.

  2. Martin from C. says:

    NYT: Really enjoyed this puzzle and Amy’s comments.

    Re: 32D TALE [Chaucer piece] crosses 40A LEWD [off-color, plus]. On purpose?
    If the clue for 32D had been [Chaucer’s Miller’s _____], I would have
    believed so.

    FWIW, “Martin from C.” is “Martin from Charlottesville.”

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Hey Martin, I’m seeing Beck tonight in C-Ville.

      • Martin from C. says:


        Hope you get a good show. I read about Beck winning a Grammy in Feb. for best album of the year.

        Accuweather predicts that it will be sunny and 75˚ at 7 pm.

  3. David L says:

    I was mystified by a clue in today’s CS: “Site popular with snipers” — EBAY.

    Can someone explain?

    Liked the NYT. I thought at first that having each themer be a repetition of 4 letters made it too easy, but the re-interpretations were so ingenious I didn’t mind. There can’t be many, or perhaps not any, similar phrases that would work like this.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      If you outbid someone at the last second (on purpose so they don’t have a chance to respond with a higher bid), then eBayers say you’ve “sniped” them.

      • Martin says:

        What Matt said! Thanks Matt.

        And while I’m in the spirit of thanking everyone (well, most eve robe

        Matt is indeed correct!

        Hey Ade, I don’t think,I’ve ever learned as much about sports as I have after reading your reviews of our WP puzzles! Keep it it up!


  4. David L says:

    Well, how about that. Now I know to watch out for if I ever visit eBay…

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    The AVCX represents the USDA Food Pyramid, with sugars on top (CANDY), then dairy and meat (MILK, CHICKEN), then fruit and vegetables (PEA, APPLE), and grains on the bottom (RICE, BREAD). Neat.

  6. Matt J. says:

    I _only_ heard about RDIO (92-across, AVCX) yesterday on the regular radio, as one of the NPR underwriting “brought to you by” ads. They pronounced it “Ardio” but had to spell it out. I can see how that name can be confusing. I thought this could be the next “MailKimp” but it’s for real.

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