Sunday, May 31, 2015

NYT untimed (Dave) 
LAT 8:18 (Gareth) 
Reagle 10:31 (Sam) 
Hex/Hook 9:22 (Gareth) 
CS 20:39 (Ade) 

Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword, “Making Projections”

Hello, friends! I am at a bar in DC with the Indie 500 crew plus Matt Gaffney, Joon Pahk, and Peter Gordon, typing on my phone. Haven’t done the puzzle yet, but wanted to get the post up so you folks could start chatting about it anyway.

This one stuck out like a SORE THUMB.

This one stuck out like a SORE THUMB.

If you didn’t order the Indie 500 puzzles to solve at home, by gum, you owe it to yourself to visit to request the puzzles. They are insanely good and you will love them. $10, six great crosswords. Do it.

Evad here, posting the solution to the left. Did you find this one SUH-WEET or TAMER than that? Share your comments below.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “Trinonyms 2”–Sam Donaldson’s review

Trinonyms 2 (solution)

Trinonyms 2 (solution)

The note accompanying this week’s puzzle says “There’s an unusual subset of words and phrases whose parts have the same meaning as the whole, such as ‘taxi,’ ‘cab’ and ‘taxicab,’ which are all used interchangeably. I call them ‘trinonyms.’ My first puzzle about them appeared nine years ago. Here’s the sequel.” I don’t recall solving the original Trinonyms, so I have no idea if the sequel holds up to the original. I liked it just fine. Most of the theme entries were easy to suss out and that helped me navigate through the grid somewhat painlessly.

The clue for each theme entry took the form of [A = B = AB], with a parenthetical following the formula providing a clue to the answer. Here are the ten theme entries:

  • CHASING, AFTER, and CHASING AFTER all answer to the clue, [Pursuing]. The instructions suggested the theme entries would be limited to compound words, but apparently that’s not the case.
  • A FINAL, an EXAM, and a FINAL EXAM are all a [Student’s concern].
  • Each of a STAND-UP, a COMIC, and a STAND-UP COMIC is a [Performer].
  • The answer to [Doubter’s query] could be LIKE WHAT?, FOR INSTANCE?, and LIKE WHAT, FOR INSTANCE?.
  • Hmm. So I get that a [Theater event] could be a PREVIEW or a SNEAK PREVIEW, but just a “SNEAK?” I cannot recall ever seeing the word used that way. Do any of you refer to them as sneaks?
  • BARE, NAKED, and BARE-NAKED all reference the extreme form of undress, but [Streaking, e.g.] doesn’t seem to fit all that well as the clue. [Undressed] feels less awkward to me.
  • The [Government setting] in America is WASHINGTON, D.C., or WASHINGTON, D.C.
  • My favorite of the group is this: DIDDLY, SQUAT, and DIDDLY-SQUAT. To me, each means [Nothing]. But the clue says they each mean [Anything at all]. Perhaps the expression is “it don’t mean diddly,” in which case Merl’s clue is more appropriate.
  • A popular [Toy] might be called a CHOO CHOO, a TRAIN, or a CHOO-CHOO TRAIN.
  • NEWBORN, BABY, and NEWBORN BABY all describe a [Recent arrival].

I like that the three Down theme entries intersect two or three other theme entries. That visual connection between the theme entries is pretty darn elegant. I also liked the long Downs of FLAT-NOSE PLIERS (the [Household grippers]) and TOUCHDOWN DANCE (the [End zone celebration]). The ONE-ARM / BANDIT was also a nice touch, though conventional crossword custom would have placed the reference to the slot machine in the clue for ONE-ARM and not the clue for BANDIT.

Before we get to this week’s countdown of the five hardest entries in the grid, I must pause to note that last week’s number 1 entry, HOREB, is back again this week (and with the same clue, [Biblical peak])! Thanks to last week’s countdown, though, I confidently plunked down the answer with just the H in place. It pays to pay attention! Okay, here’s this week’s list–wonder which one we will see next week?:

  • 5. The [“Moses” author Sholem] is ASCH, the second most famous person in crosswords with that sound for a surname.
  • 4. Aha! [Okinawa’s capital] is NAHA.
  • 3. The [Classic Jules Dassin heist film of 1955] is RIFIFI. I like how the clue assumes I know Jules Dassin from Adam.
  • 2. While solving I never did make sense of the clue for AMR, [Airline’s parent-co. name, formerly]. There’s a lot going on in that clue! What airline? Does “formerly” modify “name” (so I’m supposed to think of a company’s old name) or “parent-co.” (so I’m supposed to know a company that no longer exists)? Why is “parent-co.” hyphenated? Thanks to our friends at Wikipedia, I now know that AMR “was a commercial aviation business and airline holding company based in Fort Worth, Texas, which was the parent company of American Airlines, American Eagle Airlines, AmericanConnection and Executive Airlines.” Now that makes sense.
  • 1. A QUOIN is a [Cornerstone]. Wikipedia tells me quoins “exist in some cases to provide actual strength for a wall made with inferior stone or rubble and in other cases to make a feature of a corner, creating an impression of permanence and strength, and reinforcing the onlooker’s sense of a structure’s presence.” So you can’t easily flip a quoin.

Favorite entry = IT’S GOOD, the [Field goal remark]. Favorite clue = [Free, as a bra] for UNHOOK. I like the image of newly-freed bras running in an open field.

Jason Mueller’s LA Times crossword, “Ms.” – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150531

LA Times

Your LA Times Sunday-size themes are usually simple concepts, but open-ended enough to have enough theme answers for a Sunday. Here it’s “Ms.” and all the long across answers are females with the initials M.S. There is some inelegant duplication in the first names: MAGGIE is short for MARGARET, and MARY and MARIA are basically the same name. MERYL and MURIEL may possibly be cognates as well. The famous ladies? There are 3 actresses: MERYLSTREEP, MARINASIRTIS and MOLLYSHANNON (my only unknown); 2 authors: MARYSHELLEY and MURIELSPARK; a sportsman: MARIASHARAPOVA (currently defending her French Open); MARTHASTEWART, a cookery-author-cum-TV-personality-cum-felon; an activist nurse, MARGARETSANGER; and lastly, the fictional animated baby MAGGIESIMPSON.

It’s hard to sum up the rest of such a large grid. Together with the mostly straightforward theme, this played very easy, mostly very basic and smooth. A big Tuesday, if you will.


  • [Duped in a good way?], CCED. Clue misdirection, though fairly transparent.
  • [They have Red Velvet and Watermelon varieties], OREOS. Not here they don’t! But an interesting angle, nonetheless.
  • [Zira and Cornelius, in a 1968 film], APES. Another interesting angle for a frequent crossword answer.
  • [__ mater], PIA. A meninx.
  • [Nod], DROWSE follows MAGGIE – song.
  • [Hercules bicycle model], ROADEO. News to me.
  • [Billings-to-Helena dir.], WNW. Not the most common crossword dir.!
  • [“Crossword Clues ‘M,’ __”], ALEX. Jeopardy! Clue was mystifying while solving. Is “M” a popular letter choice for that category?
  • [Moroccan city of one million], FES that mostly has a “Z”.
  • [Hammer used to test reflexes], PLEXOR. I keep forgetting that my consult room doesn’t have one! Note for Monday! It isn’t something you use every day… I anticipate the “P” will be the most frequent source of grid errors today.
  • [Italian source of the melody for “It’s Now or Never”], OSOLEMIO. Just one Cornetto!
  • [Like pie?], EASY. Anyone who has tried making pies would beg to differ!
  • [Charlton Heston once led it: Abbr.], NRA. Much like Mandela/ANC, Heston lives on in clues for NRA long after other people have replaced him!
  • [Scholarship founder], RHODES. His legacy is under dispute here at the moment…
  • [Ryan and Bushnell], NOLANS. Bushnell makes binocs in my world.

3 Stars. Gareth

Crooked Crossword “Animated Films” by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon – Gareth’s summary



Boy, this theme was a mess, on so many levels. The title is “Animated Films” – and clue one refers to Daffy Duck, with another referring to Porky pig – but the rest lose that angle completely. All the puns involve shoehorning an animal (Kingdom Animalia) into film titles – four mammals, three birds, a bony fish, and a mollusc. The biggest problem is, of course, DUCKTRACY (Dick Tracy) is a real alter-ego of Daffy Duck. This may be accidental, a slip-up in fact-checking; if it’s intentional though, it’s even weirder, because none of the other theme entries are real things – they’re daffy, er wacky-style answers.

The puns themselves, as I hinted at previously, were rather clumsy too. I see this all the time outside of crosswords, so it seems to be an accepted thing, but many of them simply involve forcing the animal into a longer name. What you get doesn’t form any logical lexical construct, but a “franken-portmanteau:” LLAMADEUS (Amadeus) and COWSABLANCA (Casablanca) are the two most obvious examples. THEPIGLEBOARSKI actually worked for me because of the PIG part – it’s as though the name’s being altered Flintstone-style. The rest are: GONEGORILLA (Gone Girl), CITIZENCRANE (Citizen Cane. Also marshes? I assume that’s an American crane thing, because ours are denizens of dry grassland!), THEKARATESQUID (The Karate Kid), MEETTHEPARROTS (Meet the Parents) and THECODFATHER (The Godfather, possibly the most cliched fish and chippie name of all time!).

So yeah, theme was a chore for me. It was quite dense too, and, while the fill is professionally done, there wasn’t that much distracting me from the theme… [Nobel-winning physicist Rosalyn], YALOW was new to me. Scientists post-1950 are not generally as well-known as their earlier counterparts. It’s a curious phenomenon. How many non-Peace/Literature Nobelists from the last 10 years can you name? So yeah, unknown to me, but nice to have her get some airtime. On the other hand, cats UPATREE are not stuck, merely keeping to themselves. How many cat skeletons have you seen in trees or below them? That’s just a PSA. We get the calls from concerned people wanting to rescue the cats every day!

2 Stars

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.31.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.31.15

Hello there, everyone! Hope all are doing well, and, for those of you who attended the first annual Indie 500 crossword tournament, held in Washington D.C., I hope you all had a great time and come back with some great stories. Oh, and my deepest apologies for not being able to be around the past couple of days, as I’ve been following around the women’s soccer team while in the New York City area for the past few days. But here we are today, right?!

Today’s grid was brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, and the first thought after finishing the grid was whether I had ever used the word MISADD before (28D: [Mess up the math]). Don’t think I have, but I definitely had flown on a PAN AMERICAN flight before, back when I was about five years old (37D: [Big name in airlines, once]). I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen the entry of ‘PAN AM” in a grid before also, now that I think about it. No earworms developed in this grid, but I definitely had to think about Coming to America with the entry to AKEEM (2D: [Prince _____, Eddie Murphy film role]). It’s probably his best movie role, in my opinion. Unless you’re an Axel Foley (Beverly Hills Cop series) or Billy Ray Valentine (Trading Places) fan. Wasn’t really tied down too long, relatively speaking, with the long entries, even with the trickiest one for me, MAHARISHI (15A: [Hindu teacher of mysticism]). Still have to brush up on my Hindu gods and mystics, but glad that that one didn’t bog me down too much.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PAAVO (32A: [_____ Nurmi (Finnish track star)])– In recent vintage, the nickname “Flying Finn” was attached to two-time Formula One driving champion Mika Hakkinen. But the original Flying Finn was long distance legend PAAVO Nurmi, who won nine Olympic gold medals in track, spanning the 1920 (Antwerp), 1924 (Paris) and 1928 (Amsterdam) Olympic Games.

See you all in the new week, and thank you so much for your time….and your patience!

Take care!


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Sunday, May 31, 2015

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: This kind of puzzle often DEFEATS those of us who use the app because it really can’t be rendered AS IS. It’s especially embarrassing when you check the TIMER &, when all is said & done, seems hardly worth the OBOL.

  2. jim hale says:

    Meh… kind of cheesy gimmick with uninteresting fill.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I’m a pushover, may be, but I liked this one. It went fast and I chuckled at the final revelation. I really also appreciate the fact that people are experimenting with different tricks for Sundays. It was getting pretty stale there for a while.

    I also liked the sleep, waves mini theme. Many good long answers: OLD FAITHFUL, DROPDOWN MENU, VAMPIRE BAT…

    I think a missed opportunity may have been to make the projecting ones all geographic in nature. We already have MOUNT MCKINLEY, OLD FAITHFUL, an OCEAN TRENCH, SUNSHINE STATE. I know, it would probably have greatly increased the garbage in the fill.

  4. Derek Allen says:

    I thought the NYT was really good. Probably would have been more fun on actual pencil and paper, but its too late now. SUHWEET was easily my favorite entry. For those that track such stuff, I wonder if that has ever appeared in a NYT before.

    Didn’t know OBOL, but I do now! Actually appears in 11C.

    Wish I would have taken the offer to blog it, but I’m still in DC myself. Maybe next time!

  5. David L says:

    I got the NYT trick when I figured out that the beginning of 15D, ADIOA, wasn’t looking very promising.

    EKEBY is terrible (no doubt it can be found somewhere on the intertubes, but I don’t care)

    If you want to tie to your shoelaces, then KNEELing (31D) is not a good way to begin, I would think, unless you are a contortionist.

    Joe Biden (DEL) is in the news today, poor guy. He has endured a whole lot more heartbreak than most of us.

  6. PJ Ward says:

    LAT – Enjoyed it. I noticed MARGARET/MAGGIE and MARY/MARIA but they didn’t bother me so much because the roster of females is such a good one. I liked almost all of the longer downs, with OSOLEMIO being the outlier. JEM and MAGGIESIMPSON are an interesting pair.

    Congrats to joon for his showing at the Indie500. Amy did very well also, finishing third. Apologies to others I’ve missed. The final standings can be seen here…

    • Gareth says:

      What could anyone possibly have against OSOLEMIO???

      • PJ Ward says:

        It has never been in my space musically and it shows up in a lot of places. It seems to be a steady subject of partial phrase clues. It’s not a passionate dislike.

        I liked other long downs better. REVEREND, STOPOVER, ASITWERE, and FEARLESS.

  7. Chris says:

    Had trouble parsing the message in the NYT, mostly because I wanted an extra O at the end of 81D. This is what I get for assuming symmetrical theme entries, I guess.

  8. Jenni Levy says:

    I wasn’t happy when I saw the note about “an apt phrase”. I thought there would be a message spelled out around the perimeter of the puzzle. Not my kind of thing. I got the gimmick simultaneously with ADIOANTENNA and SUNSHINESTAT and then I perked up. I particularly liked the appropriate geographical locations of OUNTMCKINLEY and the aforementioned SUNSHINESTAT.

    I started the puzzle in the paper in pen, abandoned that when I thought I’d messed up a long answer, finished on my iPad and then went back to fill in the outlying letters and find the message. I have learned, once again, that sometimes my first impressions are mistaken. I enjoyed this puzzle more than most recent Sundays. Some of the fill was a bit harder to fall than usual for me, but that may be fatigue – went to bed very late after a long, enjoyable college reunion day yesterday. All in all, a great Sunday.

  9. 3bags says:

    NYT meh.

  10. Jason Mueller says:

    So today was my LA Times debut; it seems to be going over okay. But could you please change the post title and tag; it’s Mueller, not Muller. Thanks.

    • Gareth says:

      How is Müller different to Mueller exactly? I thought the latter was used for when the former couldn’t be rendered by the particular typeset?

      • Jason Mueller says:

        I’m not sure how Müller and Mueller differ exactly; I’ve seen German soccer star Thomas Müller/Mueller spelled both ways. I’m guessing Müller is German and Mueller is American.

  11. ahimsa says:

    I enjoyed the NYT. I agree with Huda that it’s nice to see new ideas for Sunday puzzles.

    However, like Chris said above, I thought I must be missing a letter at the end of RANCHER in order to make the symmetry work with (S)HARKFIN (by the way, a very good image for something sticking out but very hard for me — needed all the crosses!). Anyway, I eventually figured it out!

    I also liked the LAT. Gareth mentioned PLEXOR as a tough entry. I agree but my problem was the last letter, not the first.

    I recognize the character, Troi, but I do not remember the actress name at all (I’m very bad with actor/actress names). So I looked at PLEXO- for a long time wondering what the last letter was. I almost went with N instead of R.

    Somehow I had no problem with DPT for the vaccination letters. Go figure.

  12. John Haber says:

    I, too, added an O to RANCHER (although reluctantly) for symmetry, since the rest was symmetrical after all. I also tried looking for a clockwise move along diagonals from the top-central letter within the diagram (an H). Between that and my not having the right associations with sharks and bats, I’ll have to admit I never really got the theme, and the fill was “meh” for me, too (and EKE BY isn’t right for my ear either). So not too fond of this one. Still, I enjoyed finding a greater challenge than usual.

Comments are closed.