Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fireball 6:12 (Amy) 
NYT 5:50 (Amy) 
LAT 4:50 (Gareth) 
CS 7:44 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:21 (Ben) 

Peter A. Collins’s Fireball crossword, “In HD”

Fireball crossword solution, 5 28 15 "In HD"

Fireball crossword solution, 5 28 15 “In HD”

Is there a reason that this grid is 17×13? Usually we see oddball grid sizes when the central answer has an even number of letters or when the theme answers mandate more space. Perhaps the fill was too ugly in a 15×15 but better when the five theme answers were spread further apart?

The theme is familiar phrases with an H and a D added (in order but not adjacent to each other) to one of the words:

  • 14a. [Ones who give long, deep, and wide embraces?], THREE-D HUGGERS. (Tree huggers.) Not wild about leaning on the crossword convention of spelling out the number in 3-D.
  • 18a. [Classic vegetable?], VINTAGE CHARD. (Vintage car.)
  • 33a. [Quarterback Gabriel had a bite?], ROMAN NOSHED. (Roman nose.) No idea if he’s Gabriel Roman or Roman Gabriel.
  • 50a. [Weather sound achieved by pounding on the low keys?] PIANO THUNDER. (Piano tuner.)
  • 55a. [Canoeist’s challenge on the Cheese River?], CHEDDAR RAPIDS. (Cedar Rapids.)

Not sure if there’s another layer to the theme that I’m not seeing.

Favorite clues:

  • 36d. [Crane part], HOGAN. Bob Crane of Hogan’s Heroes. Was trying to figure out if we were talking construction cranes or birds here.
  • 8d. [Go into business?], UPGRADE. As in changing your airline seat from coach to business class.
  • 58d. [Sales pitch?], PIE. Another sneaky veiled initial capital letter—Soupy Sales was known in the ’70s(ish) for throwing pies and doing other slapsticky stuff.

Didn’t like seeing AS TO and IS TO in relatively close proximity, or EEE, RIMIER, D AND D with its ampersand spelled out, or EX-ENEMY. ASHMEN was a surprise to find in the grid as well—where is that term used for trash collectors? I gather that PULL-INS is a British term from the clue, [Cafés for lorry drivers]; never seen that one before.

I did faintly remember 49a. [___ Chino (fictional rapper in a 2008 comedy)], ALPA, but not what movie it was. It’s Tropic Thunder, and it sure would have made sense to include the movie title in the clue, but THUNDER’s in the theme already. The actor, Brandon T. Jackson, wouldn’t have been much help in the clue, as he’s not yet a household name.

3.75 stars from me.

Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 28 15, no 0528

NY Times crossword solution, 5 28 15, no 0528

When I was working the top half of this puzzle, the theme appeared to be “two words anagrammed together into an actual phrase” and I was underwhelmed. The middle of the grid reveals that more is afoot, however: 33a. [With 34-Across, 50-50 chance … or a hint to answering six equations in this puzzle], EVEN ODDS. That suggested that the words’ letters might occupy the even and odd spots in the theme answers, and the elegant final themer confirms that: 54a. [Duke’s ride + slowly = this puzzle’s theme], ALTERNATION. That’s Duke Ellington’s A TRAIN interspersed with the musical term LENTO to spell ALTERNATION. Here is the rest of the theme:

  • 16a. [Hits hard + famed spokescow = some Bach compositions], CELLO SUITES. CLOUTS and ELSIE.
  • 20a. [Rends + word of regret = commuter’s purchase], RAIL PASS. RIPS and ALAS.
  • 22a. [Cloak + Egyptian deity = some spooks], CIA SPIES. CAPE and ISIS.
  • 48a. [Rear + floral rings = colorful birds], BLUE TITS. BUTT and LEIS.
  • 50a. [Relief org. + stagger = soup kitchen offering], FREE MEAL. FEMA and REEL.

There were a few things I didn’t know in the fill:

  • 28a. [Technology inside Kindles], E INK. Why use a trademarked term like that when OINK crossing PROPS would also work? I buy Kindle e-books, but I read them on an iPad and pay no attention to Kindle technology.
  • 1d. [Intelligentsia], CLERISY. “A distinct class of learned or literary people,” the Oxford dictionary tells me. Never saw the word before.
  • 12d. [Winter serving in a Japanese restaurant], HOT SAKE. It’s served hot sometimes?
  • 7d. [Italian suffix for “small”], ETTA. Wasn’t expecting it to be a word that’s clueable as a famous person’s name.

I don’t usually encounter quite so many unknowns in a Thursday puzzle.

Four more things:

  • 2d. [Mideast V.I.P.s], SULTANS. The list of contemporary sovereign sultanates includes three countries in Southeast Asia, plus Oman.
  • 24d. [Writer Osnos of The New Yorker], EVAN. I was just looking up all the famous people named Evan on Wikipedia while writing a clue for an easy Daily Celebrity Crossword puzzle. “Oh, Osnos! He’s famous,” I thought to myself—until I clicked through and saw why I know him. He’s famous among the clerisy but not broadly familiar.
  • 17d. [No longer available, as a book: Abbr.], OOP. Short for “out of print,” and quite familiar to anyone who’s worked in book publishing. Do Thursday puzzle solvers know the abbreviation too? Not sure how common it is.
  • 57a. [Turkoman, e.g.], RUG. Not a term I knew. Also called Turkmen rugs.

Four stars from me.

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

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.23.31 AMThis week’s BEQ felt like a return to form after a few rougher weeks.   I knew some OMs might be involved with a title like “Chants Encounters”, but that didn’t stop me from fully enjoying this puzzle.  Some nice theme entries and fill made this an extremely pleasurable solve.  It was all about the OMs this week, as they invaded some common phrases:

  • 16A: Fishy line of makeup? — LANCOME BASS
  • 22A: “Big” Star’s Philanthropy? — TOM HANKS GIVING
  • 30A: Bird food that helps you go? — FLOMAX SEED
  • 40A:Any old dude named after McCartney? — RANDOM PAUL
  • 49A: Caesar losing his mind? — ROMAN SCREAMING
  • 61A: Vegan, to an omnivore? — NO MEAT FREAK

Some really nice theme entries this puzzle – I particularly liked LANCOME BASS and NO MEAT FREAK.  Elsewhere in the grid, I like the use of MINORED (14A), FLOSSES (64A), S AND M (3D, “It can keep you tied up for a while”), and MORAL (14D, “End of a story with animals”) throughout the puzzle. I didn’t love PAK (65A) or PSS (66A) towards the bottom of the grid, but overall this was a really smooth solve.

3.5/5 stars

David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

lat150528Quirky theme today: two two part phrases share their middle part, making a new wacky three part phrase. The first phrase is always a pattern. I’ve not heard of Madras Check, but the pattern itself looks familiar. Actually, I looked down and my shirt has that exact pattern! Ha! The “d” in PINSTRIPEDBASS is a bit of an infelicitous crutch. In general though, the theme was appealing and the reiteration of X-pattern (tooth, dot, stripe, check) lent an additional tightness.

Today’s theme consists of:

  • [Digging tool with an abstract pattern?], HOUNDSTOOTHPICK
  • [Mathematical array with a spotted pattern?], POLKADOTMATRIX. Nice self-reference from mathematician Poole!
  • [Fish with a linear pattern?], PINSTRIPEDBASS.
  • [Volume with a plaid pattern?], MADRASCHECKBOOK.

120046 rechThe top-right of this grid is really wonky for me: AAMCO/AMIE/MCCL/CAPT is decidedly less elegant than the rest of the grid. It’s caused by the tricky “HPICK” letter pattern in the theme answer. The grid is only 74 words, and moving the block below the T up one would have alleviated the filling constraints, at the expense of a less flowing grid with more short answers. A bit of experimentation has also shown there are other options for filling that corner even with the same grid – needless to say they have compromises too, and personal taste goes along way to deciding which the best compromise is!

Miscellanea:

    • [First name in fashion], COCO then OLEG. Ooh, clecho!
    • [Olympic hawk], ARES. Nice subtle clueing.
    • [Ghoulish], MACABRE. I’d have thought Americans would spell it MACABER?
    • [Neck tissue], TONSIL. Neck doesn’t seem precisely correct, or necessary. Just go with [throat tissue]?
    • [Satya Nadella of Microsoft, e.g.], CEO. Nice factual clue. Not as well-known as Allen/Gates.
    • [It was originally named Brad’s Drink], PEPSI. Brad does not sound like someone from the 19th century!
    • [Gabrielle’s friend], XENA. I had AMIE there and not at 11D.
    • [Hotel freebie], SOAP. I’m pretty sure they factor these things into the price somehow.

Interesting theme concept.
3.25 Stars

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Shuffle and Cut the Cards”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.28.15: "Shuffle and Cut the Cards"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.28.15: “Shuffle and Cut the Cards”

Hello everyone! Hope your Thursday is going well so far! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, takes us to the poker table for a game a cards, and the four theme answers have the letters C-A-R-D-S embedded and appearing consecutively in the entry, though in a different order each time.

  • GRAD SCHOOLS (17A: [Training ground for prof wannabes])
  • NASCAR DRIVER (27A: [Competitor in the Sprint Cup Series])
  • HARD SCIENCES (48A: [Physics and biology])
  • RADAR SCREEN (63A: [Focus of an air traffic controller])

Another smooth fill again from Ms. Lempel, and seamlessly created a grid with a real tricky theme and was able to find very solid answers that did the trick. Liked the multiple-word entries of TO NO AVAIL (11D: [Fruitless]) and DOOR PRIZE (35D: [Attendee’s lucky bonus]). We’re getting ready to head into the summer, so seeing a RERUN in television is going to get pretty frequent (30D: [Stale TV fare]). Regarding yesterday, when I attended the U.S. Women’s National (soccer) Team’s Media Day, I didn’t think there was a player who possesses a crossword-worthy name just yet, but I did talk with one of the players, Lauren Holiday (née Cheney), who’s married to current NBA player Jrue Holiday…and yes, his first name is spelled like that, and it’s pronounced “Drew.” So where did both Lauren and Jrue play their college athletics?  UCLA, of course (34D: [Campus near Beverly Hills, briefly]). Here’s a small sample of that interview, with Lauren mentioning who, at least at one point, is the better shooter on the basketball court between she and her NBA-playing husband…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: O’HARA (15A: [Mitchell’s riches-to-rags heroine]) – There are a few people with the surname that have done some notable things in sports, but I’ll focus on Shaun O’HARA, current football TV analyst on the NFL Network. As a player, O’Hara was a center, mostly for the New York Giants, and he appeared in three consecutive Pro Bowls (2008-2010). O’Hara won a Super Bowl as well, winning Super Bowl XLII with the Giants against the New England Patriots in 2008 (the first time the Giants defeated New England in a four-year span, not the second time, in 2012) .

TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!

Ade

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23 Responses to Thursday, May 28, 2015

  1. Robert says:

    How is “Anonymous name in court cases” = ROE? I was stuck on DOE as the anonymous court name. I would think ROE would be “Famous name in court case”.

    Can anyone explain?

    • Martin from C. says:

      Roe vs. Wade is an example of a “Jane Roe” usage. Jane Doe is also OK.

      The Wikipedia “John Doe” article has a history of the usage of anonymous legal names, anonymous legal names in other countries, and other tidbits. I did not know, for example, that having the actual name “John Doe” is likely to cause you to have trouble at airport security.

  2. Stan Newman says:

    Evan Osnos is the son of Peter Osnos, who hired me and was my boss (Publisher of Times Books) when I ran puzzle publishing at Random House. Peter had been London bureau chief for the Washington Post, and seemingly knew everyone in the journalism biz. On the occasions when he took me to lunch, he introduced me to such notables as Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker. On the latter occasion, seated a few tables away from us was JFK Jr. and his then-future wife.
    And, in a nice bit of historical “puzzle symmetry,” I got Peter to write a letter to the Editor of the NYT in 1993, lobbying for the hiring of one William F. Shortz as their new crossword editor.

  3. Stan Newman says:

    P.S. In a nice bit of “puzzle symmetry,” I got Peter to write a letter to his pal, the Editor of the NYT, in 1993, lobbying for the hiring of one William F. Shortz as its new crossword editor.

  4. PJ Ward says:

    NYT – 12d. [Winter serving in a Japanese restaurant], HOT SAKE. It’s served hot sometimes?

    In the days when eating Japanese meant Benihana hot sake *was* sake. I’d describe the taste as warm nail polish remover.

    • Deb Amlen says:

      Channeling Martin here: Hot sake is also served hot to disguise the flavors of lesser grades of sake. The best way to drink sake is to serve it over ice with a very thin slice of cucumber floated on top.

  5. huda says:

    NYT: Liked it a lot. Tumbled to the alternation early on (which surprises me) and it helped me a great deal, including plunking ALTERNATION in the bottom half. I just tumbled to the fact that all the answers are themselves two words which definitely adds to the coolness.

    I’m no member of the CLERISY– That “I” gave me fits, especially that I was trying to make one word out of C-ASPIES.

    Interesting clue for HAITIAN…

  6. nycoburn says:

    I got sidetracked on this theme because I quickly completed RAILPASS [commuter’s purchase] from the crossings. PASS for [word of regret] made sense. Took a while to figure out the error.

  7. just sayin, says:

    NYT: Not often you get to see BUTT and TITS in the same answer, eh?

  8. Erik says:

    I really liked the conceit for the NYT puzzle, but dinged its overall score for using the word “Rear” in a clue and in an answer (42A, 48A). I wouldn’t enter REAR for 42A because it appeared in the clue for 48A, and that slowed my solve by a few of minutes. Annoying blemish on an otherwise excellent puzzle.

  9. Howard B says:

    I’m a fan of Jeff Chen’s puzzles, but I struggled with this NY Times – I think the theme just *felt* like it had to be generated brute force by a computer, instead of the usual creative and/or mechanical processes. Just too odd and diverse a bunch. (and indeed my instinct was correct). There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but I just couldn’t reverse-engineer the theme answers here until after solving. So there just wasn’t that feeling of amazement upon finding each one. Oh, CLERISY and E-INK did me no favors as well.
    Solid construction, and honestly nothing wrong here, but sometimes the daily special on the menu isn’t to your taste, even if the chef is excellent :).

  10. DaveB says:

    I always enjoy Jeff Chen’s puzzles (I remember his yin/yang Sunday from last year as being a highlight) this was no exception. I liked the fresh clues for common entries: 5d. [Good name for an RV inhabitant], STU; 23d. [Key chain?], ISLET and 39a. {Jumper line], HEM

  11. janie says:

    until today, hadn’t known about the spy/spook congruity. then encounter it in both pete’s and jeff’s puzzles. and — both include DDT clued in connection with silent spring; one at 32A, the other at 32D.

    makes me wonder if the constructors and/or their editors were separated at birth…….

    ;-)

  12. OOP says:

    Tedious TMI NYT

  13. OOP says:

    Clever how? The alternated words have no relationship to the full answers,. which made for a great deal of the tedium.

    • Gary R says:

      For a clearer understanding of “tedium,” please see this past Sunday’s puzzle with more 3- and 4- letter answers than you can shake a stick at.

      Today’s offering was fun and clever. The theme was a puzzle within a puzzle and the surrounding fill was pretty darned good.

      • OOP says:

        The only way I could see this puzzle being clever is if Jeff Chen developed the alternating gimmick which I think I’m pretty safe in assuming he didn’t. Even if he did the gimmick is more about engineering than cleverness IMHO. Haven’t done the Sunday puzzle yet but am now looking forward to it. LOL

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