Thursday, May 21, 2015

NYT 5:41 (Amy) 
LAT 7:00 (Gareth) 
CS 10:34 (Ade) 
BEQ 7:03 (Ben) 

Fireball’s a contest puzzle this week. Write-up to come after the holiday weekend.

Peter A. Collins’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 21 15, no 0521

NY Times crossword solution, 5 21 15, no 0521

The theme here is sort of explained by 52a. [Elevated expectations … or what this puzzle’s maker did to five answers in this puzzle?], RAISED THE BAR. Longer words or phrases that begin with BAR– have those three letters RAISED into the row above, parked on top of what should be letters 4-6 of the answer. However! Those answers above that start with BAR–? They don’t have their BARs raised, and the portion that comes after BAR doesn’t stand alone (NSTORM is not a valid entry). The BARs aren’t raised, they’re used in two answers. So the puzzle has an internal contradiction and it irks me.

Here are the theme answers:

  • 16a. [Scarlatti’s style], (bar)OQUE.
  • 20a. [Metaphor for fun], (bar)REL OF MONKEYS.
  • 36a. [Shoreline protector], (bar)RIER REEF.
  • 42a. [Perpetual 10-year old of TV], (bar)T SIMPSON.
  • 64a. [Line of Mattel dolls], (bar)BIES.

The themers are a solid set of phrases, but I’d like them all better with their first letters firmly affixed.

Six more things:

  • 18a. [Capricorn, Taurus or Virgo], EARTH SIGN. Have you heard that Mercury is in retrograde again? (Fresh fill here, and where MRS. DASH sits.)
  • 27a. [Looks inside a building], DECORS. I didn’t like this not-really-a-verb trick in the clue given a couple of the crossings. 27d. [One offering a 7-Down] is a DEBTEE? Really? Not sure I’ve encountered that word before, not even in crosswords. And 29d. [Geophysicist’s activity] is CORING, but I thought they also might be BORING holes into rock. (CORING is also far more familiar as what you might do to apples, so I don’t know why we get the geophysics angle.)
  • 47a. [Exclamation that’s made up of two shorter exclamations], AHOY. Etymology is ah! + hoy!, and I hadn’t known that.
  • 51a. [Part of a “wheel” hand in poker], ACE. I have never heard of a wheel hand in poker.
  • 5d. [A place of prominence], THE FORE. No, no, no. That definite article is part of a phrase but just feels wrong as part of a crossword answer here. “Come to the fore,” maybe, but not THE FORE without a verb but with that THE.
  • 8d. [Word with horse or meat], DARK. Raise your hand if you filled in DEAD first.

Today’s crosswordese roundup includes BRAE, ELIE, REO, SOLI, PARAS, and ERTE.

3.25 stars from me. Too much awkward fill and what I see as an inherent flaw in the theme’s execution.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Mismanagement”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.21.15: "Mismanagement"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.21.15: “Mismanagement”

Good morning, everyone! Can’t stay too long today, as I have to attend a media session later in the day, but here to quickly talk about today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross. In it, four theme answers that happen to be common phrases/proper nouns are altered by adding the letters “MIS” in it, creating puns.

  • FIRE MISCHIEF (20A: [Arson?]) – From “fire chief.”
  • DOUBLE MISTAKE (34A: [Error that’s twice as egregious?]) – From “double take.”
  • MISHANDLE BARS (43A: [Do a bad job running taverns?]) – From “handle bars.”
  • MISJUDGE JUDY (58A: [Give Garland an undeserved review?]) – From “Judge Judy.”

I’m pretty sure this is the first time that I’ve seen EMERALD ISLE used as fill in a grid instead of being part of a clue about Ireland/Erin/Eire/Erse (3D: [Ireland’s nickname]). We have a couple of music-related trivia in close proximity with MACON (5A: [City in Georgia where Little Richard was born]) and YAYA’S, the latter being the album that I believe was recorded when performing at Madison Square Garden (18A: [“Get Yer ____ Out!” (Rolling Stones album)]). Oops, there’s more music minutiae with BJORN, which I originally put in as Bjork (54D: [Benny’s ABBA buddy]). Now I’m imagining ABBA and Bjork joining forces for a song collaboration. Is that a good thing?!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OMAHA (8D: [1935 Triple Crown winner]) – Jim Fitzsimmons is the only trainer to have two of his horses win the Triple Crown, with the second coming when he was the trainer of OMAHA in 1935. The first horse that Fitzsimmons guided to the Triple Crown was Omaha’s sire, Gallant Fox, back in 1930.

TGIF tomorrow! Have a great rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


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

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 11.36.24 PMThis week’s BEQ was nice.  I’m not sure it was my favorite he’s created this year, but it was constructed well.  I knew some squares were likely to need multiple letters as I did my first pass through the across clues, but it took me longer than it should have to figure out exactly what multi-letter pattern it was.  The title should have been a giveaway – “singer” tends to lead to RAT in most crosswords, and this shouldn’t have been any different.  That said, there’s a lot of RATs in this puzzle:

  • 14A: Thin pliable stems of a palm used to make furniture — RATTAN
  • 20A: John Kerry was one in 2004 — DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE
  • 25A: One of the Greek muses — ERATO
  • 28A: Somewhat run-down — RATTY
  • 35A: Air force? — RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
  • 49A: Do a DJ’s job — SCRATCH
  • 60A: Room service provider? — INTERIOR DECORATOR
  • 61A: Baby shower gift — RATTLE
  • 62A: Put in a box — CRATE UP
  • 1D: Like “American Sniper” or “Fifty Shades of Grey” — R-RATED
  • 5D: Sugar Ray lead singer Mark — MCGRATH
  • 12D: Put up with — TOLERATE
  • 28D: 9:30, etc. — RATIO
  • 33D: Talk foolishly about something — PRATE
  • 39D: 1970 movie about World War II — TORA TORA TORA
  • 45D: “Fly ____” (Arsenal’s sponsorship message0 — EMIRATES
  • 48D: Distrubutes — PRORATES

This puzzle was a veritable RAT’s nest (I make no apologies for that pun) and felt more like an NYT theme puzzle than a standard BEQ, but that may have just been the us of multiple letters in one square.  28D may have been my favorite amongst the many, many clues – it’s a clever twist on what I was expecting.  Also nice to see in the puzzle was another ENO.  This time it’s Jim, the drummer from the band Spoon, rather than the oft-seen Brian.

A few nitpick-y things since this was otherwise a nice puzzle, especially given the number of special squares.  I didn’t particularly love the more obscure Cam’ron reference in 65A (although I did keep trying to figure out if he had done some kind of cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya” in vain rather than the correct HEY MA), but that may just be the way my music taste tends to lean.  I also didn’t love ART LAB at 47D, although I just think of art class as art class.  Again, overall a reasonably good puzzle.

3.25/5 stars

Peter A. Collins’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review


LA Times

The puzzle does what it says in the revealer, ANTEUP. Five down answers feature the volcano ETNA. VIETNAMESE is an outlier as the ETNA doesn’t split word parts; WETNAPS is also a single (compound) word. It should be noted that concealing the same four-letter string in a number of answers limits the possibilities a tad. Anyway, we have:

  • [Cold war fleet], SOVIETNAVY
  • [Prepare for a bath], GETNAKED
  • [Wings eaters’ aids], WETNAPS
  • [Honey and Boo Boo, e.g.], PETNAMES. Clever clue, even if it evokes a Honey Boo Boo.
  • [Austroasiatic language], VIETNAMESE

Quite a low block count is used, with lots of diagonals. TWERKING is a modern entry, again a nice answer, even though what it evokes is decidedly not.

Interesting to get two four-letter abbreviations, PTSD and FTLB. Both are solid entries though. Here the word bosbevok is often favoured over PTSD. One change in the quieter area that seems obvious to me, would be to replace USE at 16A with IRE. One contrived partial gone! Am I missing something?

There were some excellent clues: The PETNAMES one; [Turn to the right, say?], TIGHTEN; it took me far too long to remember this! And also [Matthew Fox or Peter Coyote], ACTOR.

Other stuff:

  • I can’t see OPRAH now without thinking of this.
  • [Hockey Hall of Famer Cam], NEELY. He sounds like an alien from Star Trek!
  • [Peak in an Eastwood film], EIGER. Google tells me there is a film called “The Eiger Sanction”. There you go. Now that’s a film poster!

3.5 Stars

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10 Responses to Thursday, May 21, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I liked it quite a bit. I understand Amy’s objection but I automatically thought as I was solving that sometimes you raise the bar and sometimes you don’t. The clue to the revealer is accurate in its specificity. So, I thought it was a nice change of pace from a rebus.

    But I was thinking like Amy in other ways: DEAD Meat/Horse and BORING Geophysicists…

    • David L says:

      I liked it too — and I honestly don’t understand Amy’s objection. In five answers, the BARs are indeed raised. And then the BARs, in their raised position, form part of five more answers. What’s the issue?

  2. Martin from C. says:

    NY Times:

    I enjoyed how DECORS touched both ERODED and ERASED and also had a sample removed (CORING). The word right after DECORS? BARE.

    If you are tired of the quick brown fox, you could try one of these:
    “Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.”
    “Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex.”
    “Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim.”

  3. dr. fancypants says:

    I’ve been an attorney for several years. I work at a law firm that has a lot of paralegals, and I work closely with them. Guess how many times I’ve ever heard anyone refer to them as PARAS? (Hint: It’s the same number of times I’ve seen DEBTEE in the contracts I draft and review, many of which actually involve debt in some form.)

  4. sbmanion says:

    A wheel in poker is A-2-3-4-5. In hi-lo poker, it is the best possible low hand. It is also a straight, which usually is the best high hand. A “steel wheel” is A-2-3-4-5 all of the same suit, a dream hand for hi-lo players.

    Fun puzzle.


  5. Jenni Levy says:

    I’m not a geophysicist and I don’t play one on TV but I am married to a geologist who has dabbled in geophysics (the subject of his undergrad thesis). Geophysicists (often referred to as “geowhizicists”) obtain and study cores, sometimes very deep cores, to learn more about the physics of the earth. “Coring” is not the same as “boring”. I’ve been married long enough that it was a gimme for me.

  6. lemonade714 says:

    It is fascinating to me how often the NYT and LAT are done by the same person.
    Which PAC did you like better?

  7. Harry says:

    Loved today’s LAT! The clues were great and it was not filled with the usual “To Maurice” or other foreign language clues that we see too often. I tip my hat to Mr. Collins!!

  8. Gene says:

    i think 47A is made up of AH and OY. Both are exclamations in their own right.

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