Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NYT 3:46 (Amy) 
Jonesin' 5:02 (Derek) 
LAT 3:32 (Derek) 
CS 14:50 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Jules Markey’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 23 15, no 0623

NY Times crossword solution, 6 23 15, no 0623

This theme is two-pronged: One part fact collection and one part word ladder. One of the HOPE AND CROSBY “Road to __” movies was Road to Bali, and there’s a ROAD-to-BALI word ladder in the top and bottom rows: ROAD TOAD TOLD BOLD BALD BALI. The rest of the theme has costar DOROTHY LAMOUR, SONG AND DANCE MEN (the fellas’ “occupations” in the movie, though that plural in the clue feels inapt; you could say “fireman” is an occupation but not that “firemen” are occupations), and the not-really-a-genre BROMANTIC COMEDY.

The theme doesn’t resonate much for me, but I imagine Hope/Crosby/Lamour fans were pleased by it.

The fill is rough in patches. UTNE, APER, ORONO, ANIS, ANIL, EDDA, DEB, MMCCC, ALINED—there’s a fair amount of hardcore crosswordese in that list. And then there’s YODER! In a Tuesday puzzle! 29d. [Wisconsin v. ___ (landmark 1972 Supreme Court case on religious freedom)]? There is one truly landmark early-’70s Supreme Court case, and that is Roe v. Wade. The Yoder decision, Wikipedia tells me, was that the state couldn’t make Amish kids go to school past the 8th grade. Now, [Common Amish surname] would actually have been an easier clue for me. When you lay out your theme answers to force a Y***R crossing, you could go for YASIR or the partial YES OR and … that’s about it. Cruciverb has both of those, a single YOKER (no), and zero YODERs. [Wise green Jedi, as pronounced by a Brit when the following word starts with a vowel].

Top fill: “COME ON!,” COP CAR, and CAPRIS. I am wearing capris right now.

3.4 stars from me.

imageMatt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “A Bit of Foolery” – Derek’s write-up

Nice puzzle.  The theme, although not complicated, took me a while to latch onto.  There are three theme entries; all of them are phrases with the letters TOM added to the beginning, clued by the word “foolery” in the title, which is seldom used alone (it actually IS a word!) but seen more in the word “tomfoolery.”  It would be interesting to know the origin of both the words “fool” and “tomfool.” Is a tomfool a really special kind of idiot?  The theme entries:

  • 22A [ NFL’s Patriots?] TOM BRADY BUNCH
  • 37A [Garbage bags for an action star?] TOM CRUISE LINERS – I always chuckle when I see a box labeled “can liners” instead of “trash bags.” It’s like people even need to be PC towards inanimate objects!
  • 49A [Digit for a bizarre MTV host?] TOM GREEN THUMB

Very nicely done.  Contained, at least for me, a satisfying a-ha moment, although it doesn’t take much to surprise me at 6:15am! The fill on this puzzle is pristine; I found nothing annoying.  I take that back:  I didn’t like 54D [89 years from now, in the credits] MMCIV. It was too early to do math in my head…

Other notes:

  • 27A [“Chandelier” singer] SIA – She seems elusive (weird?), but her songs are pretty good.
  • 41A [Inflationary figure, for short] PSI – There was a nice Patriots joke that could have been clued here…!
  • 64A [“Card Players Quarreling” artist Jan] STEEN – I do NOT know art like I should.  This is the painting:Card Players Quarreling Jan Steen
  • 4D [French pen, or LG smartphone] STYLO – Didn’t know this.  I’m an iPhone disciple.  I tried the Samsung Galaxy S5, and it was a disaster, at least for me.
  • 30D [Turning into a hockey rink, e. g.] ICING OVER – Very nice.

Sometimes I am sharper solving first thing in the morning, as was the case today, but in other cases my solving times are dictated by what medium I am solving on.  This one, as indicated by the faint yellow tint, was solved on my iPad with the Crosswords app.  Yes, the one that costs $10!  Other times I use pencil and paper, the NYT app, Across Lite on a computer, Crossword Solver, etc.  Computer solving slightly quicker, iPad solving not bad, but I mistype a lot. What is your solving tool of choice?

3.5 stars for this puzzle.  Very well done.

LAT 062315David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Another nice puzzle from the LA Times.  I’m enjoying these the more I do them!  Time constraints prevented me from solving them regularly before, but that won’t happen anymore.  I will prioritize these.

This puzzle grid has the long theme answers going up and down, but it’s necessary:

  • 4D [“Sugar and spice” tykes] LITTLE GIRLS (with RIGEL appearing upwards in the circled squares)
  • 9D [Altar exchanges] MARRIAGE VOWS (VEGA)
  • 21D [Brunch dish with hollandaise sauce] EGGS BENEDICT (DENEB)
  • 28D [Up-and-comers, and what the circled squares contain] RISING STARS

Clever, neatly done, not to challenging, but still a nice a-ha moment when you figure out what’s in the circled squares.  And as usual, nothing icky at all in the grid. Some observations:

  • 6A [SALT warhead] ICBM – This reminds me of a moment from Wordplay when Bill Clinton sees a clue for this entry and says it’s “either ICBM or MIRV!” Who knows MIRV???
  • 35A [Treat leniently, with “on”] GO SOFT – Much neater than describing rotting or melting food…
  • 43A [Actress North] SHEREE – Most famous people with this name spell it differently.  A Google search revealed she’s probably the most notable, and she isn’t that notable.  An appearance on Playhouse 90, a recent Learned League answer I didn’t know!  I’m sure I’d recognize her if I saw her in action.  When Seinfeld episodes appear on Hulu in a couple of days, I’ll find her episode and watch.  After I find the episode that ends with George screaming, “Say Vandalay! Say Vandalay!!”
  • 45A [With affection] LOVINGLY – Nice. After some questionable recent puzzle entries, this is refreshingly nice!
  • 5D [Like some triangles] SCALENE – Another nice one.
  • 30D [IMer’s “Then again…”] OTOH – Stands for On The Other Hand. Seeing it more and more in puzzles.  How long until it is crosswordese?
  • 46D [Left hanging]  IN LIMBO – Best in the puzzle.  Fooled me for a bit; thought it ended in ED or ING.

Great early week puzzle.  3 stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 212), “International Money-Back Guarantee”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 6/23 (No. 212) Graphic by Gorski

Crossword Nation 6/23 (No. 212) Graphic by Gorski

Wow. What a wonderfully executed theme. You see those circles in the print version of the grid (the colored squares on this page)? Each contains the name of an international monetary unit—spelled backwards and spanning two words in each of the five (terrific) themers, including that central grid-spanner. We’ve seen “hidden money” in puzzles before, but I don’t recall seein’ this particular kind of exchange, so to speak. WATT‘s the big IDEA? Take a look.

  • 17A. [Escaped] BROKE LOOSE, in which the crosswordese-y Albanian LEK gets a fabulous make-over.
  • 23A. [It will help you go places?] TRAVEL BUREAU, wherein lies the (mostly) Russian RUBLE. Nice clue, too.
  • 36A. [1979 hit by Stevie Wonder] “SEND ONE YOUR LOVE,” which becomes a container for the Japanese YEN. While I knew the song when I listened to it, I hadn’t known its title. Which turns out to be—surprisingly, given the era in which it became a hit—gender-neutral. But take a listen (or a look). The title as written is never sung and gender-specific pronouns (both for “her” and for “him”) are heard in the hook.
  • 46A. [Skin reaction to fear or cold] GOOSE PIMPLES, which houses the PESO, Spanish in origin and used in several Spanish-speaking countries. Goose pimples! Love seeing that in the grid.
  • 57A. [Emmy-winning puppeteer who performed with Charlie Horse] SHARI LEWIS, who keeps the similarly multinational LIRA in her name. Great to see the full-name shout-out to the charming Shari Lewis, too. And just in case you somehow missed the hint in the title or what was happening in the the long themers, this little bonus shoulda set you straight:
  • 60A. CASH [It’s “returned” in the circled letters…]. Just to spell it out (and sorry if this is overkill…), “returned”=written backwards…

That is one elegantly-conceived and tightly-wrought theme set, IMHO

What else kept this such a smile-making solve? Let me hit some of the other SALIENT points. That would include longer fill, like solemn SWEARS TO [Solemnly affirms], ROLE-PLAY, the cautionary IN HASTE [Risky way to marry], and the aforementioned SALIENT.

I also liked the yogic tie-in between ZEN [Path to enlightenment] and INNER [Word with peace or city]; and then the tie-in between that inner city and URBAN. All of which lead to a kinda yin-yang VIBE, no?

More tie-ins by way of the [Poetic twilight time] E’EN, NE’ER [At no time, to (poet) Tennyson] and poet [W.H. Auden verse] ODE; and the genre-disparate [OH, YOU Crazy Moon” (Sinatra hit)] and [I’M SO Excited” (Pointer Sisters hit)]. Vive la différence, non? Btw, for those in or visiting NYC (and are so inclined…), the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center has a superb Sinatra exhibit (thru September 4th). It’s free and worth checkin’ out.

The clue for MOOSE, [Deer fellow?], led me to Wiki again. A moose is a deer? I mean, I knew they were both antlered, but given the differences in their appearances, could this be? Dear me… Live and learn, Jane. Live and learn. And then, the clue for PUG, [Dog named “Wrinkles,” perhaps], led me to Google Images. No explanation required.

Too cute.

Too cute.

As we all know, creating and/or solving a puzzle that seriously strikes our fancy can be a hit-or-MISS experience. Clearly, this was a hit for me. A BOLEYN NEPHEW [Henry Carey to Anne, 2nd wife of Henry VIII] for your thoughts!

Brad Wilber’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Some Pig”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.23.15: "Show Pig"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.23.15: “Some Pig”

Good morning everyone! Not wanting to wait until the weekend to unveil a great crossword to the masses, Mr. Brad Wilber graces us with his presence – and a crossword puzzle – on a Tuesday, producing yet another good challenge. In today’s edition, each of the four theme answers is a play on words, replacing one of the words in each of the phrases with a similar-sounding word that relates to the porcine family or a porcine characteristic. Oh, and each of the clues create a scenario in which a star pig, Wilbur,  goes through different stages of his star-studded life of fame. Honestly, Wilbur is just an attention hog!

  • FAME IS SUCH A BOAR (17A: [“Wilbur, you’ve avoided the limelight since ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ How come?”])
  • SWINE LANGUAGE (26A: [“We heard you went to college. What was your major?”])
  • INDELIBLE OINK (42A: [“Now you’re coming out with a memoir. What’s the title?”])
  • MAYBE A SHOAT FILM (58A: [“Do you think your story would make a good movie?”])

Started off fast in the Northwest, but after that, I had to throttle down and take my sweet time. I’m always on the lookout for a couple of opera clues when seeing Brad’s name on the byline, and, sure enough, he delivers with ORFEO, which, literally, was the last answer filled in today (61A: [“_____ ed Euridice” (Gluck opera)]). It didn’t help that I had ‘foisten’ instead of FOIST ON as one of its crossings for a couple of minutes (41D: [Saddle with]). Part of my slowdown also occurred because I initially put in ‘sou’ instead of ECU and wasn’t able to make that recovery quickly (7D: [Bygone French coin]). Darn you, old French coins!!! Some of the vocabulary was fun, with ASKANCE being the highlight of that (48A: [Suspicious way to look]). It was a good thing I was sure of the down answers in the Northeast because CALX wouldn’t have come to me in a million years (10A: [Post-combustion mineral residue]). I’m officially going to have calx in my mind anytime I think of caulk or need to use caulk. I remember back in the mid 1980s always seeing TAXI after watching New York Mets games when it was on WWOR-Channel 9 in New York, which probably made me the youngest person watching full episodes of Taxi in the city (35A: [Sitcom about a fleet]). Sometimes, they would air it during rain delays as well. And, sometimes, after Mets games on Ch. 9, they would air Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century, which easily made me one of the youngest people to watch (and remember) that show in New York as well. Man, Twiki the robot drove me insane with its “biddy, biddy, biddy” sound before saying something of substance.  OK, I’m going off on a tangent, aren’t I? Well, time for the “sports…smarter” moment, and not a moment too soon…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CHICANE (5D: [Do a snow job on]) – As it pertains to motor racing tracks (and any other road for that matter), a CHICANE is a man-made, shallow, S-shaped curve used to slow down traffic for safety purposes. Although there to slow down drivers and increase safety, on most racing tracks – usually in Formula One and Indy Car – drivers use the chicane to try and pass another driver that’s immediately in front of them.

See you on the top of the hump tomorrow! Have yourself a good day/evening…

Take care!


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28 Responses to Tuesday, June 23, 2015

  1. Martin from C. says:


    I’m not dissing Roe v. Wade, but United States vs. Nixon in 1974 was a landmark case.

    During the Watergate investigation, Nixon was asked for but refused to hand over White House tapes and documents. The case went to the Supreme Court, which denied that Nixon had an “absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances.” Nixon resigned less than three weeks later, on August 9, 1974.

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Nixon

  2. Steve J says:

    Re the NYT: “The fill is rough in patches.” I’d venture to say the patches are the scattered bits where the fill wasn’t rough. This felt like a puzzle where the subtheme was a compendium of crosswordese.

  3. Derek Allen says:

    I am SHOCKED that YODER hasn’t appeared in a NYT before. Here in Elkhart County, IN, it is more practically more common than Smith as a last name! Local joke: did you hear they are getting rid of all the Yoders in Elkhart County? Yeah, they are DE-YODERizing!

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: that title, ROAD TO BALI, has always confused me. Is there a road to an island? At best, it would be a bridge, no? I don’t know enough the movie to guess an answer.

    Can one take any 4 letter word and transform it to pretty much any other one in 5 steps? I just gave myself a little assignment, SAID to BOOK… Quite easy. I never thought about it before.

    My favorite entry was DOROTHY LAMOUR, for totally idiosyncratic reasons. I had an aunt who loved her and emulated her look,– half way around the world. I was a little kid and I’d hear this foreign name spoken with awe, and it seemed so evocative. Totally forgot about her until today.

  5. Papa John says:

    Huda: “Is there a road to an island?”

    I think you may be channeling pannonica and over-analyzing, perhaps just a touch.

    Is there a road to heaven/hell, a road to success/failure, a road to oblivion or a road to understanding? I would say the use of road in the movie titles means more like the events leading to and ending in Rio or Bali or wherever.

    • pannonica says:

      Hey! I was totally fine with that idiomatic interpretation. ~sulking~

      • Papa John says:

        What do you know? Somebody finally got to you and it was me!

        Sulking? After my slight tease? You’ve been getting so much flak, lately, and taking it all in stride, I’m surprised this is the one that got under your skin. No kidding, pannonica, I think you’ve been a great sport. Keep on going on…and on…and on…or, as Huda said, “…deepest.”

  6. Martin says:

    YODER could have easily been YARER (more maneuverable). YARE has been used eight times in the Shortz era and 42 before, but we’ve never had YARER. A different YODER was used once by Maleska (“Writer of ‘White Shadows’ “), making YARER rarer than YODER.

    Do others think YARER would have been a mild improvement, or even worse?

    • pannonica says:

      FWIW, fires have been burning in Alaska’s Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge (YDNWR).

    • Steve J says:

      That’s like having to choose between being punched in the face or being punched in the gut.

  7. David L says:

    YODER wasn’t good — but YARER? C’mon now…

  8. David L says:

    Personally, I was happy to see OTTO described as almost a homonym for AUTO.

  9. Gareth says:

    To me, as Amy commented briefly on, the biggest clunker was still BROMANTICCOMEDY. And that’s a big, long clunk right in the beginning of the puzzle. The central word ladder / ROAD to BALI idea was excellent, but the execution? Not so much. Less would have been more…

  10. Matt J. says:

    Derek/Orange, my puzzle this week also works as a tribute puzzle on two different levels.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Ah, a tribute to your friend Tom Gazzola, taken from us much too soon. Did you share the puzzle with Tom’s family, Matt? (And what’s the second level of the tribute?)

  11. Gareth says:

    I know MIRV (though not precisely what it is, beyond a very big bomb) from the “classic” computer game Scorched Earth. Each player controls a tank and uses velocity and trajectory to launch a varied arsenal at the other tanks, taking turns.

    • Jules says:

      Actually it’s quite the opposite, it’s Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicles which are quite small (14 can fit in one missile warhead) but very largely explosive bombs.

  12. Jules says:

    Thanks to all for the fair critique, this was a very ambitious, in terms of theme density, construction by a very inexperienced constructor. It was the second puzzle of mine accepted for publication, and it shows. Will did clean it up quite a bit, I thank him for that. For me the bottom line is: 1. I’m a better constructor today for the criticism, and I mean this type of criticism not the piling on which occurs on other sites; and 2. I think my Aunt Helen really enjoyed it. Til next time.

  13. seinfeld was here says:

    “And you want to be my latex salesman!”

  14. Martin from C. says:

    Re the NY Times,

    I wrote up a long, labored, defense of BROMANTIC COMEDY, but will only say that Wikipedia has an entry for it as a genre, AND that I really enjoyed the movie “The Road to Bali,” and hope that others will see it and enjoy it also.

    p.s. Youtube has “The Road to Bali” trailers, clips, and even the entire movie.

  15. Cara B says:

    Re: Jonesin’ theme “Tomfoolery.” Here’s your answer!
    “Tomfoolery nowadays simply means ‘nonsense, silly behavior.” But back in medieval times it was considered great sport to watch the antics of insane people in asylums like Bedlam in London. The nicknames ‘Tom o’ Bedlam’ and ‘Tom Fool’ were often ued for male inmates who were the favorites of the audience. Over the centuries the word tomfoolery evolved, eventually acquiring the relatively innocuous meaning it has today.”

    This is from one of my favorite books, The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, by William and Mary Morris. Too bad the word tomfoolery, which sounds so whimsical (!) turns our not to be whimsical at all, but in fact, well, cruel.

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