Friday, June 12, 2015

NYT 4:34 (Amy) 
LAT 7:46, 1 error (Gareth) 
CS 19:53 (Ade) 
CHE untimed (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 10:27 (pannonica) 

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 12 15, no 0612

NY Times crossword solution, 6 12 15, no 0612

Hello! I am strikingly unmotivated about blogging this evening. Ergo, straight to lists!


Clue/answer duplication, of a sort: 44a. [Words before stating plan B], IF NOT meets 51d. [Medicare option], PART B. Two P*** B entities is weird.

Favorite clue: 11d. [Invasive plant], SPY. Not a botanical thing at all.

Did not know: 56d. [“The Sound” of music], GETZ. So, Stan Getz’s nickname is/was “The Sound”? News to me.

Gratuitous hurting-of-animals clue: 47a. [One with a brand name?], STEER.

Least crosswordable phrase: 19a. SAVE NOW.

Most hardcore crosswordese: 45d. [Emulate an esne], TOIL. Really, “esne”? If you try to keep it out of the grid, it’s hardly any less bothersome in a clue.

Least solver-friendly pile-up: SILAS crossing ISERE and DELIBES.

Stalest entry: EELER. Runner-up: ORT. Honorable mention: NEE ENERO ISERE ALTA ULNA and a singular TOG ([Coat, in old slang]).

3.33 stars from me.

Annemarie Brethauer’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Major Literary Voice” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 6/12/15 • "Major Literary Voice" • Brethauer • solution

CHE • 6/12/15 • “Major Literary Voice” • Brethauer • solution

Once again, the CHE plays  to its niche. 58-across has a [Nobelist who was born 100 years ago this week] SAUL BELLOW, 10 June 1915 to be precise. I’ve seen interviews, and rather than being nominally stentorian he was soft-spoken. But a “major literary voice” nonetheless. Heck, he’s the only nobelist—er, novelist—to win the National Book Award for Fiction three times.

For the other theme answers, we get a smattering of some of his works:

  • 17a. [Protagonist unveiled by 58 Across in 1953] AUGIE MARCH. In The Adventures of Augie March. Marginally duplicated by 59d [Mo. in which the Perseid meteor shower is observed] AUG.
  • 23a. [Novel in diary form by 53 Across] DANGLING MAN. His début, in 1944. Who is this Dan Glingman and what does he want?
  • 35a. [Book that garnered 58 Across the Pulitzer Prize] HUMBOLDT’S GIFT.
  • 48a. [Failed actor-tale by 58-Across] SEIZE THE DAY.

Some other recognizable titles are Henderson the Rain King, Herzog, More Die of Heartbreak, and his final book, 2000’s Ravelstein.

Stacked with the first and last themers are CLEARANCES and 62a [Succotash morsel] BUTTER BEAN—I thought it was lima beans. Perhaps the bean variety offers more flexibility than I suspected. So I suffered a little. Pleased also to report that I was ignorant of 12d CAREALOT, the [Home of Bedtime Bear and Funshine Bear] and presumably inspired by Camelot.

Less common fill: 1a [Whipped cream, in Vienna] SCHLAG (see also 7d [Skinny specimen] SCRAG), 57a [River in Somerset and Devon] CULM, and 50d [Remove by dissolving] ELUTE.

Italianate crossing of 56a and 56d: [Big part of the skyline in Catania] ETNA, [Ferry destination from Piombino, Italy] ELBA.

Too many abbrevs. for my liking, including EEC, AMT, SBA, DSCS, CFOS.

Biggest misstep of my solve: 47d [Gives rise to] SPARKS prior to SPAWNS.

Good puzzle, but a tad dry. That’s typical of such fact-recounting themes.

Alan Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Prime Time” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/12/15 • "Prime Time" • Fri • Arbesfeld • solution

WSJ • 6/12/15 • “Prime Time” • Fri • Arbesfeld • solution

Regarding timeliness, this one can sort of be triangulated (biangulated?) by a couple of moments from crosswords reviewed here in the past few days. Take yesterday’s LAT revealer and incorporate the clue/answer for 34-down in Matt Jones’ Jonesin’ offering on Tuesday.

TO WIT ( … … oh wait, that was in the CHE (32d), the theme entries comprise the sequence of the first 9 prime numbers.

  • 23a. [“Both of you are to blame”] IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO. Without the first word, the name of a popular song written in 1952.
  • 33a. [Rubber’s reward] THREE WISHES. Seems less a standalone phrase, despite not being an arbitrary construction, than the other themers.
  • 37a. [Quaint emporium] FIVE AND DIME.
  • 53a. [1964 thriller with a Rod Serling screenplay] SEVEN DAYS IN MAY.
  • 66a. [Bankruptcy protection] CHAPTER ELEVEN.
  • 86a. [“Houston, we’ve had a problem” mission] APOLLO THIRTEEN. As well as the name of a film recounting the events. See also 64d [Spacewalks, in NASA lingo] EVAS (extravehicular activity).
  • 98a. [Song performed on the first episode of “Saturday Night Live”] AT SEVENTEEN. Cross-referenced by 13d [Janis who sang 98-Across] IAN. I remain steadfast in my opposition to theme–non-theme miscibility.
  • 101a. [1980 Steely Dan song] HEY NINETEEN. Two songs in a row. “That’s ’Retha Franklin, Queen of Soul …” (not to be confused with 34d [James with the nickname Miss Peaches] ETTA).
  • 115a. [“Scram!” in early 1900s slang] TWENTY-THREE SKIDOO.

Spiffy theme, elegantly achieved. I would, however, be surprised if it hadn’t been done before, as it’s an elemental concept.

Two abbrevs. in the upper left (conventionally, the ‘first’) solving block were a transient turnoff. 1d TRIB, 3d ASTR.

The grid is buttressed by some pretty good vertical entries: PTA MEETING / I TOLD YOU SO, JACKHAMMER / IRRITATION.

For those solvers who curl their lips at proper names, fodder can be found in film director Alan J PAKULA, singer TERESA Brewer, SHIRLEY Jones as SHIRLEY Partridge, critic Kenneth TYNAN, the fictional Gordon GEKKO, actor Robert ILER, US Senator Tom UDALL, baseball player Phil NIEKRO, actress LEAH Remini, et al.

Found the clue for 22a [Grand Canyon inspiration] AWE to be strange, but upon further consideration decided it was a-ok, albeit slightly counterintuitive.

The cluing is good, but not as remarkably clever, entertaining, or elucidating as WSJ crosswords so often are.

Above average puzzle.

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Aah, It’s Utah!”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.12.15: "Aah, It's Utah!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.12.15: “Aah, It’s Utah!”

 “Guess who’s back…back again…Klahn is back…tell a friend!” (Belted out in my best Eminem voice.)

Hello there, crossword lovers! Hope you all have an amazing weekend in store. And before we go further, let’s welcome back Mr. Bob Klahn back into the fold! We were definitely sorry when we heard that Bob had an accident during the Yuletide season this past December that put him out of commission for a few months. Glad to hear from him the other day in the comments section that he’s on the mend and will be back with a crossword soon, and today marks his return to the regular rotation. In terms of crossword-solving enjoyment, I know some of you are thrilled to once again take on the challenge of one of Bob’s puzzles, while others are getting ready to bang your head against the wall after about 10 minutes of trying. But I’m sure all of us are in agreement that it’s great to have Bob back with us! Welcome back, Mr. Klahn, and continue to feel better!!

Oh, yes, there’s the issue of talking about your latest grid that I have to take care of now! No problem! Today’s offering has come straight from the Beehive State, as the four theme answers are puns in which nouns/phrases are altered by replacing the letter A in the answer with the letters UT, which happens to be the postal code for the state of Utah.

  • GUTTED COMMUNITY (17A: [Fire-ravaged neighborhood?]) – From “gated community.”
  • GROUNDHOG DUTY (29A: [Predicting the end of winter?]) – From “Groundhog Day.”
  • PUTIN RELIEVER (45A: [Medvedev from 2008 to 2012?]) – “From “pain reliever.”
  • SWITCHED-ON BUTCH (58A: [High-energy “Our Gang” bully?]) – From “Switched-On Bach.” The answer that allowed me to catch on to the theme. Oh, and “Switched-On Bach” is before my time and I’m not too familiar with it, so I hope some people can chime in about where they were/what they thought when that album (song?) came out!!

Of all of the Klahn crosswords that I have completed (or attempted to complete), this was the most I was on the level with Bob’s wavelength. It helped that I got a couple of the longer non-themed answers out of the way immediately, specifically NUTMEG STATE (3D: [Connecticut nickname]). Though not a native of CT, I’ve known its state nickname for years! The northwest portion of the grid was opened up after that, and then I was well and truly on my way to having a good time of it today. Was stuck a little bit when I came across the clue to FLOYD, as I was sure that it was either Bonnie or Clyde, even though I came to find out pretty quickly that both their last names, Parker and Barrow, are six letters and wouldn’t fit (39A: [1934’s Public Enemy #1]). If I remember correctly a show I watched eons ago, I think Bonnie & Clyde and Pretty Boy Floyd were killed in the same year, within a few months of each other. Working my way to the right side of the grid, my skills of identifying long non-themed answers came through again when plopping down TURN TRAITOR after just getting one letter (26D: [Go over to the other side]). Again, it helped being on Bob’s wavelength today, which isn’t usually the case. Some of you might have thought this was a fairer (easier?) crossword from Bob. Honestly, at the end of the grid, there wasn’t one answer that I put down in which I said, “I have no idea what that is” or “I have no idea who he/she is!” I liked the grid, especially since I finished it while the sun was still up!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KERR (63A: [Brynner’s “The King and I” costar]) – This is probably the most timely “sports…smarter” entry I’ll ever have. If you’re following the NBA Finals currently going on between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, you will have seen Steve KERR many times, as he’s currently the head coach of the Warriors, the team with the league’s best regular-season NBA record this season (67-15). Before becoming a head coach for the first time before this season, Kerr was best known for his uncanny long-distance shooting as a player, as he’s the NBA’s all-time leader in career three-point percentage among players with at least 2,000 attempts (45.4 percent). He won five NBA championships as a player: three with the Chicago Bulls (1996-1998) and two with the San Antonio Spurs (1999, 2003). Kerr was born in Lebanon, as his father, Malcolm, was a university professor at the American University of Beirut and also at UCLA. In 1984, Malcolm was murdered in Beirut by Shia Islamic jihadists during the Lebanese Civil War, as the murderers later admitted responsibility.

Before leaving, I want to send my condolences, through the crossword community, to the families of Thomas Gazzola and Leslie Billig, two beloved people in the crossword community who passed away earlier this week. Some of you reading may have known one or the other, or both. Though I never was able to meet them, I am beyond saddened by hearing the news. On behalf of all of us, I want to thank both Thomas and Leslie for being amazing human beings, and for making our lives better with their presence on this Earth.

I wish you all a good Friday, and a good weekend.

Take care!


Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150612

LA Times

ADIN is a sometimes-used tennis term (though not so much in pro tennis) beloved in crosswords, because it’s better than ADIT. Here’s it’s repurposed to mean “+AD”, and the familiar wacky phrases trope results. The unmodified set today make a particularly toothsome group: MEOWMIX, TIREROTATION, SHOWBUSINESS and JAZZAGE. These become:

  • [Sheep and cows grazing together?], MEADOWMIX. Meadow is also a large animal feed brand here.
  • [Taking turns ranting?], TIRADEROTATION. Crossword blogging, some days.
  • [Spy industry?], SHADOWBUSINESS.
  • [Monk’s “The piano ain’t got no wrong notes,” e.g?], JAZZADAGE. I assume Thelonious said that?. Choon for the day! If you’re like me, you’ll try and sing along and fail because of the quirky syncopation!

Some nice mini-thematic action going on today: ALPO is atop ME(AD)OWMIX; SPARTA is parallel to ATHENA; we have two [Pork cut]s: HAM and SPARERIB.

indexTough names: [“MacGyver” actor Dana], ELCAR; [Lash of Westerns], LARUE; [Big Sur retreat], ESALEN – My error was ESALET/TSA; [Actress Rooney __], MARA – I honestly thought she was Mara Rooney based on previous crosswords!

Query: [Tot’s glassful], WAWA. I thought WAWA was urine? Not up on my toddler-ese!

3.5 Stars

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24 Responses to Friday, June 12, 2015

  1. huda says:

    SLEAZE BALL was awesome.
    But I did not get the clue for YEAS (still don’t) and crossing BELAY did not help.

    • Gary R says:


      In a meeting, a motion is made and seconded, discussed and voted on. The motion is “carried” if the YEAS outnumber the nays.

      • Huda says:

        Gary R, thank you! It’s amazing that it did not occur to me. I deal with motions on a regular basis…

  2. jim hale says:

    For me the south east part of the puzzle had too many blockers. Obscure stuff I will never have an interest in predicated on people names of no interest.

    • steveo says:

      DELIBES, SORENTO, ISERE pretty much killed me on this one.

      • ArtLvr says:

        The Isère isn’t just a river — the Val d’Isère is a major ski area only developed after WW2, when the first cable lift was constructed. Now it is recognized as a regular Winter Olympics venue, etc. Summer skiing on the glacier is a great attraction for tourists too.

    • dr. fancypants says:

      Agreed. I spent 50% of my time on the SE corner, struggling to fill in some proper names that were mostly meaningless. I’ve done enough crosswords that ISERE/YSERE should have come more quickly, but I found the rest of that corner irritating. I always hated the comic BC, so ZOT in particular rubs me the wrong way whenever it makes an appearance (and I can never remember it).

  3. David L says:

    I thought this was very good. The stacked 10-letter answers were great and although some of the 3-letter crossings were a bit iffy they didn’t bother me. Biggest groaner was EELER, with ISERE a close second — it’s a legit river but stale crosswordese.

    SE was slowest for me. I was trying to work out how 30A could be DEWEY, but once I got DESKS the rest came quickly.

  4. Matt says:

    Liked the NYT, lots of crunchy entries, with a few duds. I completely forgot what a ESNE is, leaving only a vague sense that it was a sort of small animal.

  5. Papa John says:

    I thought the NYT wasn’t all that bad. It’s been established, here, that triple sacks usually cause some compromises in the fill. In this case, I’d say they were worth it. Amy lauded the stacks, and rightfully so.

    Here’s the thing, though — I didn’t exactly whip through today’s offering, but I didn’t dawdle, either. It was a smooth, uninterrupted solve, with minimal or no vexations. Am I getting smarter or are the puzzles getting easier?

  6. Norm says:

    An enjoyable Bob Klahn puzzle in the Washington Post! Words I thought I would never utter. I especially liked PUTIN RELIEVER.

  7. Martin says:

    LAT-wise: a hum is not white noise. White noise is “white” because it is random but has all frequencies in equal measure; it sounds like a heavy rainfall. A hum is a single frequency, often a contamination of an audio signal by the AC power frequency, 60 Hz in the US. It sounds like — a hum.

    • Paul says:

      Merriam Webster:
      Full Definition of WHITE NOISE
      a : a heterogeneous mixture of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range — compare pink noise
      b : a constant background noise; especially : one that drowns out other sounds

      A persistent HUM would certainly fit definition B.

      • Martin says:

        Nah, that definition covers those “white noise generators” and tapes that are meant to block obnoxious sounds and help you sleep. A hum is just an obnoxious sound. The clue’s just wrong.

        • Paul says:

          Martin, you have me worrying about your health – have you had a stroke or been smote on the head by a heavy object? You do remember who you are, your raison d’être on the xword blogs – the man who defends every clue that has even the minutest of dictionary support?

          • Martin says:

            You haven’t seen my notes to Will.

          • Martin says:

            Expanding a bit, sometimes dictionary entries are not wrong as much as easily misconstrued. For example, a dictionary might define “ion” as an atom that has become charged by the addition or removal of electrons. For a non-technical reader, that’s a reasonable way to covey the concept. It is not, however, justification for calling an ion “a kind of atom” even though the dictionary implies it is. Ions and atoms are different species.

            The dictionary can justify that a certain word is used in a certain way. That’s different than using it to justify a technical term because of a vague, non-technical, definition.

  8. Gareth says:

    Anyone else have YENTL singing “Baa! Baa! Baa!” before a generic YALIE?

  9. Tracy B says:

    In the NYT, I missed the clue/answer dupe Amy mentioned, but noticed instead the dupish feel of 44a IF NOT with the clue “If so” for 64a. I thought the grid was pretty sweet, all in all.

    The Return of Klahn is awesome.

  10. Mike says:

    Re the WSJ – Does anyone have an issue with the theme prime numbers not being in the same place in each theme. i.e. first word or last word. I ask only because I recently had a construction rejected and that was one of the reasons. Just curious

  11. Art Shapiro says:

    Ade asks about “Switched On Bach”. I’m pretty much a musical purist, but that album was so good that one couldn’t help but like it. I still have it in the large LP cabinet, although I haven’t played it in many years. If you’re ever in Southern California, we can give it a spin.


    • Thank you very much, Art! For some reason, I have Walter Murphy (A Fifth of Beethoven) in my mind, and maybe the album in question sounds little like that. By the way, I usually head to Southern California at least once during the fall/winter, so I might just take you up on that invitation!

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