Friday, June 5, 2015

NYT 5:08 (Amy) 
LAT 9:57 (Gareth) 
CS 10:28 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 5 15, no 0605

NY Times crossword solution, 6 5 15, no 0605

I didn’t love this puzzle, but that could be the phlegm talking. Am in the midst of a walloping by a cold virus. Quick post before an early bedtime!

Favorite entries: MENTOS, ALL FOR IT, “I DECLARE!,” TBILISI, REJIGGER (a word I like to use), EVEN ODDS, SNARKY, SAD TO SAY, JACKASS, OLD MAID card game, MURSE (used to be a gendered term for a male nurse; it’s much better as a term for a man-bag or man’s purse), “OH, GOD, NO,” TAGALOG, SPLENDA (which is a good entry but a dreadful substance I cannot abide), and EARBUDS. That’s a lot of good stuff.

Weird things: JOCK JAMS? Zero recollection of that. Blah IDEATE, ORLE, KEA, DONATOR, JAI ALAI, ERE I, TEENTSY. ARREAR clued as a singular noun. ASK IN crossing USHER IN.

Did not know FAKE PUNT was a thing (60a. [Certain trick football play]).

3.8 stars overall. Good night, folks!

Theresa Schmidt’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mmmm!” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/5/15 • "Mmmm!" • Fri • Schmidt • solution

WSJ • 6/5/15 • “Mmmm!” • Fri • Schmidt • solution

I don’t recognize the constructor’s name and the most superficial of internet searching yielded no confirmation of other puzzles, so I’ve no idea if this is a début or merely the début of yet another pseudonym for editor Mike Shenk. For what it’s worth, the name anagrams to among (many) other things, thematic shreds and rad hemstitches.

Theme mechanics work this way, a familiar phrase is altered by the prefixation of an m; in all instances the spelling of the affected word is changed. Another title could be Embark! but admittedly a half-formed pun is a truly sorry item, a broken umbrella in the gutter of wordplay.

  • 23a. [Makeup pencil that’s never at rest?] MOTION LINER (ocean liner).
  • 25a. [Giant’s height, perhaps?] MILE OF MAN (Isle of Man).
  • 38a. [Means of halting a runaway carriage?] MARE BREAKS (air brakes).
  • 53a. [Tryst?] MEETING FOR TWO (eating …).
  • 75a. [News stories filed by hand?]  MANUAL REPORTS (annual …).
  • 91a. [Hazard while parking a yacht?} MARINA ROCK (arena …). Not to be confused with “yacht rock“.
  • 107a. [Site of a relay run by spouses?] MATE TRACK (eight-track). Crossing 102d [It might have four legs] RACE, deftly avoiding duplication.
  • 109a. [Card inserted into a computer?] MEMORY BOARD (emery …).

Not a revolutionary theme, of course, but executed more than competently. For gender distribution (a frequent concern of Fiend discussions), we’re nicely balanced with a male Brobdingnagian, a female equine, a set of undisclosed married partners, and an abstract duo.

  • 74d [North Carolina flag feature] STAR. —”North Carolina? That’s kind of random.” … 103a [South Carolina flag feature] PALMETTO. —“Ohhhhh, I get it now.”
  • 68a [Skating rink jump] AXEL, 115a [Skate park jump] OLLIE. 54d/57d [Big fan] NUT, ZEALOT.
  • Marginally dupe-y answers for 26d [Catholic group featured in “TheDa Vinci Code”] OPUS DEI and 87a [Creator, in Cremona] DIO. See also 4d [Big hit] TRIPLE and 82d [Ambitious bet at Belmont] TRIFECTA (timely clue, incidentally).
  • Was going to claim that 85a [Certainly not locked] for AJAR was not so certain, contemplating, for instance, one of those chain devices on doors, but then I reasoned that’s would more accurately be described as secured, not locked. A lock implies a key. However, picture a a door, say a shed door, with a looped chain and padlock—that could very feasibly provide enough slack for ajarment. Sure, that’s a stretch, but ‘certainly’ is a stringent word.
  • 48a [Lie at the United Nations] TRYGVE. Wow, that looked strange in the grid. “Trygve is a given name for males used throughout Scandinavia, but is perhaps most common in Norway. Trygve is derived from the Old Norse tryggr, meaning “true, trustworthy”, cognate with Old English treowe, Old High German triuwe. Gothic has triggws “πιστός”. – Wikipedia. Tyrgve Lie was the first elected UN Secretary-General, succeeded by DAG Hammerskjöld and U THANT.
  • Sage_Derby_P01031120a [2002 Salma Hayek film] FRIDA. The New-York Botanical Garden currently has a multifaceted Kahlo show. Can’t get through to their official website this morning, so I’ll link to this review at artnet.
  • 42d [Wise guys] SAGES. Had some sage derby cheese last week. It was like eating pieces of the metaphorical moon. See also 3d [Spanakopita ingredient] FETA and 89d [Pungent cheese] ASIAGO.
  • 15d [Decathlete Johnson] RAFER. The only Rafer I’m aware of is Rafer Guzman.
  • 72d [Bix Beiderbecke standard] IN A MIST. A piano solo recording, though his primary instrument was the cornet and he most often played in mid-size COMBOS (95d).

Fine crossword.

Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Corporate Insiders”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.05.15: "Corporate Insiders"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.05.15: “Corporate Insiders”

Happy Friday, everybody! What are your plans for the weekend? Well, we go into the weekend of puzzles with a fun puzzle on this Friday from Mr. Jeff Chen. Not as tough as his usual puzzles on here, his puzzle today features four theme answers in which the letters CEO span across the two words in the answer.

  • SPACE OUT (19A: [Daydream])
  • POLICE OFFICER (25A: [One on a beat, perhaps])
  • PEACE OFFERING (41A: [Olive branch])
  • ONCE OVER (49A: [Quick look]) – The number of words used combined to clue the four theme answers today? Just 10.

After doing this grid, looks like I need to head to Second Ave. Deli, one of the finer KOSHER DELI establishments in New York City (10D: [Eatery under rabbinical supervision]). The entry made think about what happened on the eve of the ACPT last year, when I randomly ran into elite crossword constructor Andrea Carla Michaels on a street corner in Manhattan. She then walked me over to Second Ave. Deli, where she had just finished eating lunch with Tony Orbach, one of the regular constructors on here. Somewhat random story, I know. Back to the grid, and ‘kosher deli’ intersected with another food item, OMELETS (24A: [Cousins of frittatas]). By the way, I’ve seen the word ‘frittata’ more in the past month than I have in my lifetime. Honestly! I don’t know if too many people here have ever bought VIVA paper towel rolls, but I know that was a favorite of my parents for many years (50D: [Brawny rival]). Man, I almost forgot about MULAN amidst all of the Disney movies that have come out in my lifetime (40A: [Animated Disney film set in China]). I’m pretty sure that the last Disney animated movie that I watched from beginning to end was The Little Mermaid, and that was during an auditorium assembly session while in elementary school. Yes, that happened.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HANS (23A: [Storyteller Andersen]) – In auto racing, a Head and Neck Support device, HANS device for short, is a safety instrument in cars used to reduce the whiplash action that could happen to a driver if involved in a crash and reduce the event of a head or neck injury. In the late 1990s, drivers initially balked at the idea of a HANS device, claiming that it may actually do more harm than good when in a crash. That sentiment changed at the turn of the century, when four drivers in a 14-month span, including NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, died of skull fractures that occurred while being involved in a crash on the track. Many racing circuits now mandate HANS devices for drivers.

Have a good weekend, everybody! See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150605

LA Times

WORTHATRY is a great revealer – a colloquial, spoken-word phrase repurposed to explain the theme, which is simply +TRY. Adding a trigram does normally give solvers more of helping hand that shorter additions. If you can find where the TRY is, you get yourselves some letters even before you’ve cracked the answer!

The 16-letter [Efficient wall decor for a steel vault?], MAGNETICTAPESTRY is cute as a repurposed answer, but a bit of a cheat in that it uses a plural form. I have not been above using that cheat myself, so I can’t complain too much! The central [Eclair big enough to share?], PASTRYDEDEUX was my fave theme answer. [Superhero preparing to cook dinner?], FLASHINTHEPANTRY uses a lively base-phrase to build from. The weakest of the set as an image is [Scene when stores open on Black Friday?], ENTRYDASH but there’s not a lot you can do when building from a six letter phrase! In the circumstances that is more than elegant enough! I wanted EN(TRY)MASS first, which more or less works, just not with the crossers!

Like yesterday, this puzzle has an awkward-length middle answer. You really want at least four wacky answers in a theme like this, and with a long revealer, that means either finding a 15 or a scenario like this. Unlike yesterday’s long pairs, this one goes for two utahs (+1 square)! The four corners themselves are all quite big and crunchy.

JeffreyI generally found the cluing tougher than most Fridays, even after understanding the theme. Difficult to put a finger on specifically tough clues though, but let’s see… Nope mostly I can’t see why I battled so much. [Cell component] for a CAMERA in a cellphone is tricky, but the rest of that corner is not. [60s Moore role] was opaque, as I focused on Roger not Mary. [Farm houses], PIGBARNS sounds weird to my ears, but it isn’t wrong. [Rue family tree], CITRUS required several crossings. But on the whole, not nearly as hard in retrospect as it felt at the time! And there are no complete unknowns here either!

Best answers: PALJOEY, YEGODS.

3.25 Stars

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18 Responses to Friday, June 5, 2015

  1. huda says:

    It’s Groundhog Day here on the Fiend. Sometimes it shows the puzzles from last Friday, and sometimes it shows the June 5 NYT puzzle but all the ratings from last Friday. Or maybe it’s my crazy computer?

    I guess if you’re going to be trapped in a never ending loop, it’s lucky to have a Patrick Berry puzzle.

    • pannonica says:

      Date coding corrected, but I’ll leave it to Dave to determine if there were miscast votes.

  2. Ethan says:

    I don’t see the problem with JAI ALAI if the whole phrase is there. It’s not like the overused partial ALAI.

  3. Matt says:

    Didn’t know MURSE– my fashionista cred just went down the drain. But I liked the various unusual entries– a good thing, IMO.

  4. Mark says:

    Breezy, with a few toughies, but overall fairly easy Friday IMO. Was surprised to see two ___ IN entries, esp. since they crossed and nearly mean the same thing (USHER IN and ASK IN). I try to never leave those in. Also the odd DONATOR (don’t we say DONOR?).

  5. Martin says:

    Theresa Schmidt also anagrams to “The Credit’s Sham.”

  6. Derek Allen says:

    I remember JOCK JAMS too well. CDs with music generally played in stadiums and arenas. Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” was a staple at sporting events back then, and it appears on there. It’s a silly song, but instantly recognizable.

    • Howard Barkin says:

      Seconded, most pro sports venues at that time pretty much played it as a staple. Some dance mixes even got some radio airplay, scarily. It was a 90’s thing.

  7. Gareth says:

    Huh? There are 6 ratings of 1.5 or less today for the LAT. Now yesterday I could (sort of) understand: 1 theme answer is made-up, 1 cross was very close to unfair. Today, I can’t see any obvious reasons, other than it was a little harder than most Fridays (even allowing for it being 16×15). I don’t think being more difficult is a defensible reason for a low rating, unless you reason more difficult by way of being unfair in some way. I’m also skeptical of the 2 5’s (but less so, I can understand if you just really liked the theme answers!). If you are doing it just to overcompensate for the low ratings, that’s not really helpful.

    Probably the better solution is to regard the ratings as a mere curiosity and not get so worked up about them!

    • lemonade714 says:

      Gareth, I agree that rating for 1.5 or less is obviously some form of a hate move as the puzzle was fine. If it was from someone who just hated the LAT, so be it. If it is from a NYT lover who denigrates all others, so be it. Puzzles are games and I had fun.

      BUT it is really shameful to rate a puzzle as complete stinker and not post a single reason why.

      Not sure who Jeffrey has ticked off but….

    • Avg Solvr says:

      FLASH IN THE PANTRY was worth it for me. Not sure who takes a rating seriously when it’s obviously incongruous but never underestimate hate. :)

    • Gary R says:


      For what it’s worth, here’s my take on the LAT:

      The theme is just “okay.” FLASH IN THE PANTRY was clever. MAGNETIC TAPESTRY was pretty good, although magnetic tape is a little outdated. As for ENTRY DASH, for most people outside of the printing business, I would think that en-dash exists only in crossword puzzles.

      By my count, there are 22 three-letter answers and 11 of them are abbreviations, including two books of the Bible (if books of the Bible are good crossword material, how come they almost never show up except as abbreviations?) and “NYS” – does this really exist in the wild, or just in the minds of New York City residents? The only one of these 22 that was at all clever was 10-D.

      Apart from the themers, the other two long entries are STAMP TAX and PIG BARNS. Neither of these seems particularly interesting to me, nor particularly in-the-language.

      So, while I agree that the 1.5 and lower ratings seem out of line, I also don’t understand why anyone would give this a rating higher than 3 either. The 2.7 or so that it has now seems pretty fair to me.

  8. PJ Ward says:

    LAT – I got distracted by 6d. The clue and answer seem cognate. Didn’t sit well with me.

  9. Harry says:

    Gareth, what was the part Mary Moore played. Didn’t recognize the answer.

  10. Harry says:

    Never mind. I just figured it out…Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show. Doh!!!

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