Thursday, June 18, 2015

NYT 4:16 (Amy) 
LAT 4:11 (Gareth) 
CS 10:46 (Ade) 
BEQ 7:57 (Ben) 

The Fireball crossword is a contest puzzle. Write-up to come Sunday night or Monday. Somebody remind me then, will you?

Jason Flinn’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 18 15, no 0618

NY Times crossword solution, 6 18 15, no 0618

This is a two-pronged riff on those themes where the sorts of phrases that normally would only pass muster as clues become entries, and straightforward things that could be answers are shunted over to the clues.

  • 17a. [The Olympics or Andes Mints], MOUNTAIN TOPONYM. A toponym is “a place name derived from a topographical feature.” The Olympics and Andes Mints are not place names, they’re things named after places that are mountains.
  • 23a. [White and lighted], BLACK ANTONYMS.
  • 39a. [Deadly or human], MORTAL SYNONYM. Okay, I’m not loving the flip-flopping between “and” plurals and “or” singular answers.
  • 51a. [Wall Street and Madison Avenue], NEW YORK METONYMS. Actually, those aren’t metonyms that stand in for New York City. One stands in for the finance business and one stands in for the advertisting business. Wait, does NEW YORK METONYMS mean “metonyms for ‘New York'” or “metonyms for industries that involve streets that happen to be in NYC”?

A friend points out an angle I had not noticed: the theme answers are -ONYM added to familiar phrases, sort of. Mountain top, sure. Black ant, I think that’s just the ant I think of as the default ant. Mortal syn, well, that’s not a thing when you spell it that way. New York Met, singular feels awkward to me. Or it’s plural New York Mets and ONYM is inserted rather than added to the end? (Please, let us not discuss baseball in the comments again today.) So, kind of a weird concept for a theme, +ONYM(S).

Fair amount of tough fill here:

  • 1d. [Arctic residents], SAMI. Also known as Lapps, but the people themselves prefer Sami.
  • 23d. [European carp], BREAM.
  • People with unusual spellings of names: ERICH Segal, ALEK Wek.
  • 25d. [It may hold the solution], AMPULE.



  • 28d. [It “refreshes naturally,” in old ads], SALEM. I didn’t see that coming—cigarette slogan when geography and history offer the more usual clue approaches. Nothing more natural than a nicotine buzz?

3.5 stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Hitching a Ride” — Ben’s Review

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.02.22 AMIt took me a second to get what was going on with the theme entries in this week’s BEQ Thursday puzzle, but once I did, this one totally got a smile out of me.  It’s all about Uber these days, and they’ve even staked out a spot in four common phrases to make entries in this week’s puzzle:

  • 17A: Math problem from Pythagorus? —OLD CUBE ROOT
  • 28A: Intersection where you can buy potatoes? — TUBER JUNCTION
  • 48A: “Sorry, I dropped Gustave on the floor”? — FLAUBERT BROKE
  • 62A: Bruins who do crude paintings? — DAUBER BEARS

Of the selection, I think 48A’s my favorite (and a nice find!).  Other nice clues/answers include 11D‘s “Place where kids can meet kids” (PETTING ZOO) and its partner at 30D, BEER-FUELED.  It was nice to see MGMT make an appearance at 58A, even if it’s for the overrated “Electric Feel”:

Overall, not too much to complain about, fill-wise.  This was a nice smooth solve.  Nicely done, Brendan!

3.75/5 stars

Robert E. Lee Morris ‘s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150618

LA Times

I’m guessing the extra layer of unmixed nuts: CASHEW, PECAN and ALMOND, was an editorial intervention. I know Rich Norris is often concerned that more subtle themes will confuse too many solvers. So just being told there are MIXEDNUTS and having to puzzle them out wordsearch-style would leave to many dots for solvers to connect. Oh, well now we don’t have to think, the theme is handed to us on a plate. So: N(EWSCHA)NNEL conceals a CASHEW, S(PACEN)EEDLE a PECAN, and T(OMLAND)RY an ALMOND.

Despite three additional explanatory short themers, there was quite a nice smattering of interesting long fill: ICEWATER (clued as a freebie, clechoing the MIXEDNUTS clue); PETERPAN (with a clever, but tricky clue [Broadway flier]!); SPEARGUN; and LAGRANGE (also, a difficult name, intersecting another: TOMLANDRY, but the ‘N’ is inferrable).

Other stuff:

  • [One of the Pep Boys], MOE. No idea. Apparently advertising symbols of an American chain of shops.
  • [Aptly named Renault], LECAR. Called a Renault 5 here, and most other places.
  • [“Colors of the Wind” singer Williams], VANESSA.] Some bits of pop fluff are too catchy to not link to.

3.5 Stars

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “What’s Brewing?”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.18.15: "What's Brewing?"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.18.15: “What’s Brewing?”

Hello there once again! I thought I had posted this earlier in the day, but, apparently, it didn’t save. My apologies for that!

We definitely had a fun little challenge on our hands today, delivered to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin. In it, each of the four theme answers are puns on common phrases, with a type of alcoholic brew used as a substitute word. The final/bottom two themes could have been tricky for some solvers.

  • ACROSS THE PORTER (17A: [Potential escape route in a brewery?]) – From “across the border.”
  • MRS. STOUTFIRE (27A: [Robin Williams comedy set in a brewery?]) – From “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
  • AT LAGERHEADS (49A: [Having diametrically opposed positions in a brewery?]) – From “at loggerheads.” The last time you used the term “at loggerheads” was…?
  • GÖDEL, ESCHER, BOCK (63A: [Prizewinning Hofstadter book about thought and cognition in a brewery?]) – “From “Gödel, Escher, Bach.” A book with wordplay and puzzles being mentioned in a crossword (sort of). Perfect!

This grid definitely kept me on my toes with some lively and somewhat difficult fill. Was pretty much on to all of it, though CAMPHOR was probably the toughest to get for me (52A: [Redolent moth repellent]). I couldn’t tell you what any of the characters of The Big Bang Theory do for a living fictionally, but ENGR had to make sense, and just put that down almost immediately and hoped it was right…and it was (66A: [Howard Wolowitz of “The Big Bang Theory,” by training (abbr.)]). Also haven’t seen BALZAC in a grid in a long while, but was on to that pretty quickly, too (33A: [French realist who wrote La Comédie humaine]). MOOG seems to be a popular answer in the WaPo puzzles this week, and don’t mind it at all (27A: [Synthesizer biggie]). Again, a tougher than usual solve for me, but very fun.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: A-ROD (35A: [Yank caught up in the Biogenesis scandal]) – As much as you heard about A-ROD in the past few years, you’re going to hear a lot more about him in the next few days, as he is just three hits away from joining the 3,000-hit club.

TGIF tomorrow!! Have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


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17 Responses to Thursday, June 18, 2015

  1. ArtLvr says:

    I found the NYT quite stellar, but only workable from bottom to top! SAMI was my last fill. Anything Seuss rings a bell, as Ted Geisel and my father were best friends from college on. Sadly, a sketch he did for me of “An Hypothetical Lion” is lost — it looked like the Cat in the Hat – without the hat!

  2. CY Hollander says:

    51a. [Wall Street and Madison Avenue], NEW YORK METONYMS. Actually, those aren’t metonyms that stand in for New York City. One stands in for the finance business and one stands in for the advertisting business. Wait, does NEW YORK METONYMS mean “metonyms for ‘New York’” or “metonyms for industries that involve streets that happen to be in NYC”?

    I think it’s more or less the latter, except it’s not just streets that happen to be in New York: New York streets are being used as metonyms for New York industries (would you refer to the London banking industry as “Wall Street”? I wouldn’t) so these are really New York metonyms from beginning to end.

  3. Gareth says:

    Loved the theme – GEEK out! Also, NALA is very firmly entrenched in the popular conscious here at least. I base this on the fact that it remains one of the more common name for female large breed dogs…

  4. Papa John says:

    Today’s puzzle was superb. I noticed the MOUNTAIN TOP in the first theme entry and used that angle for the others, ignoring the –ONYM aspect of it, although it was a crutch for filling in the ends of the other theme entries. I thought MORTAL SYN was rather a nice touch and that half the theme fills were plural and the other half singular was perfectly fine. I’m not sure why an aversion to plurals comes up as often as it does. Sometime the use of a plural ending can be quite tricky.

    So, contrary to her early pronouncement that this blog would be open to discussion of any topic (Yes, Amy, I do remember you saying that), Amy has now requested no more talk of baseball. Ah, it’s a sad day in Mudville, indeed. On the bright side, she did limit her request to just today, so all you sports aficionados can get back at it tomorrow. I’m far from a sports nut, yet I do find these discussions of the finer points of the game interesting to follow along. Still, you gotta give Amy the respect she deserves.

    Does anybody know what happened to Bruce? He hasn’t posted for long time.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Bruce has been quite ill, unfortunately. I was delighted to see him at ACPT in March (he actually joined Team Fiend for dinner, which was lovely), and I know many of us miss his participation in the discussions here.

      • Papa John says:

        I’m sorry to hear that. I always liked his perspective on things. I hope he recovers, soon. Amy, do keep us posted, please.

  5. Ari says:

    I feel much better about this puzzle now that I’ve read your entry! I initially quite disliked it while solving. I couldn’t remember all of the “onym” words I’d learned in the past. Had to relearn toponym and metonym. Knowing those words while solving would have helped tremendously. What bugged me most about the puzzle was that the first theme words seemed so random! I completely missed Mountain Top, etc. Thanks for making my day better. Now I can actually enjoy today’s NYT.

    • Huda says:

      I never learned any of this, so I was rather stuck for a while but eventually figured it out. Well, of course I knew synonyms and homonyms. How long is the onyms list? Is this it or can everything have its own onym? And is this like a high school English class type of knowledge? I expected my kids to enlighten me about American education but adolescence got in the way.
      So embarrassing… Once an ESL, always an ESL (or ETL, even worse).

      • Huda says:

        Gulp! There’s actually an onym wiki page. And there’s a ton of stuff! Of course I recognize a lot of it, but a lot is a total mystery. I need to go study.

        You realize Amy hires me to make you all feel good about yourselves?

        • Gary R says:


          I’m an EOL (English as an only language), born, raised and educated (or not) in the US. I took a look at the list on the wiki page, and the only ones that are familiar to me are acronym, antonym, eponym, homonym and pseudonym.

          METONYM and TOPONYM were brand new to me. Regarding these two, AHD has somewhat different definitions than Amy’s, which make the clues in the puzzle seem a little better fit.

          For toponym AHD lists “a name derived from a place or region,” which I think works okay for both Olympics and Andes mints.

          For “metonymy” (they describe metonym as a back-formation) they have “A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated.” Would work better for the respective industries Amy mentions, but maybe plausible for New York.

  6. Papa John says:

    Now, that was a BEQ that tasted pretty good. I even liked the F-BOMB, in this case. I’m not a big fan of this theme form, but it worked to my advantage as I had just finished reading about California declaring Uber drivers are employees, not contractors. There’s no way the great state of California will be deprived of its revenue. California once tried to ding me for income I earned in Ohio – greedy bastards!

    Anyway, I join Amy in saying nicely done, Brendan.

    [Question: Why do prominent constructors not, or only rarely, post to crossword blogs?]

  7. sbmanion says:

    Sorry to hear about Bruce. I hope he gets well. I have learned a great deal about music from him.


  8. Huda says:

    I too join in wishing Bruce well. By odd coincidence, I actually emailed Amy earlier today and asked her whether she has any news from him. I was impressed by his decision to go to the tournament and was pleased to hear that he found it very enjoyable.

  9. Joan Macon says:

    Well, Gareth, in the long-ago there were three Pep Boys named Manny, Moe, and Jack, and they figured in lots of commercials for car repair and improvement. They were cartoon-like pictures, not real people (at least on TV commercials). This is the kind of knowledge people of my generation remember; absolutely useless but there it is. Keep up your good work, and I enjoy your puzzles in the LAT.

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