Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fireball 6:00 (Amy) 
NYT 4:02 (Amy) 
LAT 5:31 (Gareth) 
CS 11:02 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:34 (Ben) 

David Poole’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 25 15, no 0625

NY Times crossword solution, 6 25 15, no 0625

It’s Thursday, time for a rebus puzzle. In my house, PB is peanut butter (… or Patrick Berry … or Patrick Blindauer), but here it’s Pb, the chemical symbol for lead: 61a. [Legendary guitarist … or a hint to eight answers in this puzzle] clues LEADBELLY, and the “belly” section of four crossing pairs of answers is a square with PB in it. We get POP BOTTLES (not “soda,” yay!) crossing TOP BID, UPBEAT with LIP BALMS, APBS with DEEP BLUE, and RASPBERRY with CUPBOARD. Solid rebus concept and execution.

Five more things:

  • Toughest geographical crossing: 24d. [The “high heel” of Italy’s “boot”], APULIA, meets 28a. [Capital of Majorca], PALMA at the P. I’ve seen Palma way more than Apulia, but Palma’s tough because Majorca’s not a country and Palma’s not a national capital. At least Bolivia’s judicial capital, SUCRE, doesn’t cross any other proper nouns.
  • 49d. [Like M, L or XL, but not S], ROMAN. I see what the clue’s doing, but I don’t think ROMAN is sufficient. Those are Roman numerals. The alphabet the Romans used absolutely included S.
  • 44a. [One of the I’s of ISIS], IRAQ. There was some discussion (much of it negative) about the inclusion of ISIS at 1-Across in last Sunday’s NYT. The naysayers probably would have appreciated an IRAQ clue that didn’t give ISIS another mention. What say you?
  • As often happens when the theme restricts a lot of the fill, the Scowl-o-Meter kicked into gear. ASTA (at 1-Across!), ECARTE, SUCRE, ODEONS, OBE, BELG, CRESC, APULIA, ETTES (plural suffix!).

3.5 stars from me.

Jacob Stulberg’s Fireball crossword, “Timberline”

Fireball crossword solution, 6 25 15 "Timberline"

Fireball crossword solution, 6 25 15 “Timberline”

Okay, there’s something I’m not grasping in this theme. 20-, 33-, and 43-Across are all trees with at least one O in their name. The Down crossings for the O’s need to be seen as a slash: AND/OR, YES/NO, C/O, N/A. Peter’s solution grid shows O’s or 0’s or circles with a slash through them; I don’t know how to make those show up in my grid. Then there’s the theme revealer: 56a. [1965 song (or what 20-, 33-, and 43-Across become in this puzzle?)], NORWEGIAN WOOD. No idea what that means. Wait, is it just that the Norwegian language includes ø? Because it also includes a plain O with no slash. If the theme is about ø, then I’m not finding that satisfactory at all. It’s not as if “white øak” is a Norwegian name for the tree. This is not hitting the whimsy spot in my brain.

Four more things:

  • 57d. [“God of Carnage” playwright Yasmina], REZA. That’s solid, but I’m a little surprised writer and TV pundit REZA Aslan wasn’t the subject of the clue.
  • 36d. [Hate-filled, in a way], POISON PEN. Only when used to modify something written. A hate-filled person isn’t a poison pen person, but they might write a poison pen letter.
  • 60d. [Stat that goes down when you hit a sac fly], OBP? On-base percentage? Not the sort of baseball stat that comes readily to mind for non-avid baseball fans. Or avid nonfans.
  • 34d. [Flamingo habitats?], LAWNS. Timely, as the creator of the plastic lawn flamingo died quite recently.

I dunno, this puzzle just didn’t resonate with me. Three stars.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Come Together” — Ben’s Review

ComeTogetherFor as much as I love crosswords that push the boundaries of what can be done with the medium, sometimes it’s really really nice to have a theme that’s straightforward.  Especially if it’s done well, which this week’s BEQ Thursday is.  I’m more than certain I’ve solved crosswords themed around THE BEATLES (65A) before, and possibly even Beatles mashups before, but this still felt fresh and was a fun solve.  It’s all about overlapping song titles in the theme clues:

  • 17A: Despicable golfer Tom? — MEAN MR KITE (“Mean Mr Mustard”/”Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”)
  • 23A: 24 hours spent around Stalingrad? — A DAY IN THE USSR (“A Day in the Life”/”Back in the USSR”)
  • 38A: “We stop serving at ten past”? — FOR NO ONE AFTER 909 (“For No One”/”One After 9 o 9”)
  • 54A: “My coal pit ain’t for sale!”? — CAN’T BUY ME MINE (“Can’t Buy Me Love”/”I Me Mine”)

Lots of other great words and cluing throughout the puzzle.  SIKHS (1A) came up at pub quiz the night before I solved the puzzle, making for an easy (if coincidental) get out of the gate, and I can’t say it’s often that I’ve seen HENTAI (4D), CHEETO (22D), and NINTENDO (39D) in the same puzzle.  Or for that matter, that I’ve seen the phrase “baby batter” (37D) used in the clues for a crossword.  I didn’t love the crossing of ZAX (21A), which feels like a more obscure Seuss work, with TOKAY (6D), an equally hard-to-think-of Hungarian wine, but I’ll let it slide because there was so much of this puzzle I liked.  Great job, Brendan!

4/5 stars

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “This Cost Me an Arm and a Leg! Twice!”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.25.15: "This Cost Me an Arm and a Leg! Twice!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.25.15: “This Cost Me an Arm and a Leg! Twice!”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is a pretty cute theme, with the words “arm” or “leg” excised from common phrases, creating puns that still somewhat make sense, even without taking out those letters. Well, at least for a couple of the entries, the entry makes sense with its corresponding clue with or without removing the arm/leg.

  • FOREIGN ION (17A: [CERN particle?]) – From “foreign legion.”
  • CHINK IN THE OR (28A: [Hosp. surgery center crack?]) – From “chink in the armor.”
  • ARTHURIAN END (49A: [Death on Avalon, some say?]) – From “Arthurian legend.”
  • CAUSE FOR AL (65A: [Global warming?]) – From “cause for alarm.” Good one!

This grid was definitely for the birds, with IBIS (10A: [Cousin of a spoonbill]), TERNS (44A: [Wetlands birds]) and TEALS all appearing in the grid (46A: [Wetlands birds]). Initially typed in ‘terns’ where ‘teals’ ended up being to start. I’ll admit that I’ve had a couple of moments earlier in my life where I ended up saying, “I DID WHAT,” but the scenario outlined in its clue today definitely has not happened to me before (10D: [Question posed after waking up with a lampshade on one’s head]). Umm, maybe. I randomly thought about the rhyming, intersecting entries of ROADIE (15A: [One who helps Coldplay play]) and ODIE, and imagined a “Garfield in Concert” cartoon with Odie as his roadie (7D: [Cartoon canine]). Does any contemporary singer/group sing DOO-WOP (53A: [Music style of the Drifters and the Platters]), as an homage to a BYGONE ERA (11D: [Roaring Twenties, for example])? There are a good number of singers whose styles harken back to a genre that was popular years ago, but I don’t think there’s one going right now that channels doo-wop. That genre would be great to bring back into the national consciousness.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CAPS (57D: [Spending limits]) – The Washington Capitals, CAPS for short, are a National League Hockey team that, two months ago, continued one of the most head-scratching trends of any professional sports team in history. Including this year, the Caps have led in a best-of-seven playoff series by a three-games-to-one count a total of five times in franchise history. Of those five series, how many times did the Caps win that fourth game to win the series. ZERO. In the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Washington opened up a 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers, only to lose the last three games, including in overtime in the deciding Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.

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

Take care!


Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150625

LA Times

I’m close to a hundred percent sure that AEMT anagrams have featured as a crossword theme many times before. That said, METAMORPHIC as a revealer is excellent: META morphs into the other three combinations used. Me though, I prefer progressive or blues rock to metamorphic… [Patient care group], MEDICALTEAM was the pick of the three theme answers; [Political convention announcement], RUNNINGMATE and [Casing filler], SAUSAGEMEAT round out the set.

The grid design is pretty conservative. It eschews the use of longer non-theme answers to spruce the grid up. SORESPOT and STIMULI are the picks of the medium-length answers – as I said, fairly prosaic.


  • 23606_ppl[Video game brother], LUIGI. When playing two-player, did anyone ever WANT to be LUIGI?
  • [“Frasier” role], ROZ. I can never remember if her name takes an ‘S’ or a ‘Z’. I didn’t know the crossing [Aunt in “Nancy”], FRITZI, but a ‘Z’ seemed more plausible.
  • [It’s usually not more than a foot], TAPIN. Great clue! May be a little arcane to those not conversant in golf. When you hit your shot very near to the hole, you may be allowed to assume the next shot would have gone in – a “TAPIN” – to save time.
  • [Slush Puppie maker], ICEE. Had a Slush Puppie (‘ie’??) for the first time in ages, recently at the flicks. It does seem to be crap cooldrink disguised by iciness…
  • [Eighth-century pope], PAULI. What!? Wolfgang is orders of magnitude better known than some random pope!
  • [Ratt or Poison], BAND. Fabulous clue. Awful bands.

Loved the revealer, but mostly a little on the staid side: 3.25 Stars

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

39 Responses to Thursday, June 25, 2015

  1. ArtLvr says:

    Agreed that the FB was confusing, and that SW corner with OBP might as well have been OFP. I opted for the latter, as FREEZE seemed more likely than BREEZE! Øh well.

  2. Evad says:

    Funny, I just read Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and didn’t know the reference to the Beatles’ song. I think I know most Beatles songs by their melodies and lyrics, but not by their titles.

    Does putting a slash through the O of tree names change their nationalities? I wonder if all of these trees actually grow in Norway. Mahogany seems the most unlikely to me.

  3. PJ Ward says:

    FB – I don’t know. I put [OR] as a rebus in 6d to get YES[OR]NO and it seemed to work. Then I put [OR] in place of O in the three trees and AcrossLite didn’t object. But then I was left with AND[OR]OR which was yuck and C[OR]O and N[OR]A which made no sense to me. The title (Timberline) hasn’t helped me, either.

    Also, 47a – NOSUGAR? Maybe I’m distracted by the theme but I don’t recall actively requesting no sugar when ordering coffee. Is it an option when ordering Turkish Coffee?

    I’m expecting a couple of DOH! moments today.

    Also, I’m a big Huddie Ledbetter fan yet the NYT didn’t do it for me today.

  4. JLC says:

    I think the theme revealer in the FB puzzle (NORWEGIAN WOOD) is referencing the slashes as creating the Norwegian Ø symbol by symbolically “chopping” down the tree answers, i.e. turning them into wood/lumber. Hence the title “Timberline”. Maybe a stretch but I like the conceit.

    • Evad says:

      I interpreted the (clever) FB title as the slash being a “line” through the timber of the tree name.

      That’s the great thing about puzzle titles, you can assume the editor and constructor chose it for the same clever reason you come up with, and no one’s the wiser.

  5. huda says:

    NYT: Definitely thought it was going to be about Peanut Butter, so the chemical reveal was a good twist.
    It happens that one of my past trainees is form Majorca, or else PALMA would have never popped up for me…
    The less I hear about ISIS or ASSAD, the better…

  6. pannonica says:

    BEQ: “I can’t say … that I’ve seen the phrase “baby batter” (37D) used in the clues for a crossword.”

    I thought that was an awful clue. Even had it had quotation marks or a question mark. Nothing to do with primness or, what would it be, squeamishness? Not only is it biologically inaccurate, but it isn’t even clever or poetic. Perhaps I’m sheltered, but I’m not aware that it has much currency in speech or slang. If it is indeed more prevalent than I believe, I’m frankly not impressed, but suppose I’d mollify my position a tad on its validity as a crossword clue. Take a, erm, wider stance.

    • Papa John says:

      I’m with you. SEMEN and WTF were the last two entries I filled in, mainly because I’m still not geared up for this kind of loutish mental set. This lowbrow stuff adds nothing to my solving pleasure nor does it strike my funny bone. It is what it is – vulgar, juvenile and completely unnecessary. Clever doesn’t even enter into it.

      • Austin says:

        well then for the love of god, whatever you do, do NOT google image search HENTAI

        SEMEN and WTF are downright breakfast table worthy, comparatively speaking.

        • Martin says:

          It’s very odd for a Westerner in Japan to see thick books of hentai for sale at every news stand, and being read by children on trains with no embarrassment by reader or fellow passengers, except for the American tourist.

          I was on a tour a few years ago. About 20 of us and our guide, a twenty-something woman, were waiting for the bullet train in Osaka. Out of curiosity, I flipped through a hentai comic for sale at a kiosk on the platform. It was pretty hardcore. The guide looked over my shoulder and smiled. I have never been as embarrassed in my adult life, although she would have thought that extremely odd.

          You realize that attitudes you “know” to be universal are really highly cultural.

    • David L says:

      I agree. I think BEQ’s inventiveness is often overwhelmed by a sort of adolescent glee in coming up with salaciously “cute” clues.

      This was a DNF for me, because I had DIGIN rather than DIGON (is that really a phrase?) and I didn’t get the two ‘9’s at the end of the answer.

      Also, I’m not sure it’s appropriate to describe SIKHS as a “Punjabi sect.” Sikhism is a distinct religion in its own right, not an offshoot of something else.

      • Martin says:

        “Sect” doesn’t bother me but, as you say, it’s “Sikhism,” not “Sikhs.” Are “Muslims” a religion?

        Speaking of dups, cluing NYC with “city” in the clue is the worst kind for me. I delayed filling in what should have been a gimme because it didn’t seem possible. Yet no mention. This is clearly a very subjective area.

        • pannonica says:

          Good point on the city/NYC clue; didn’t even see that one. But on sect = religion I disagree. Are Presbyterians a sect? Yes.

          • Papa John says:

            I’m with you, again, regards sect.

            And I agree with NYC/city duplication. Most duplications are distracting but few are disastrous.

          • David L says:

            I’m not sure whether you’re disagreeing with me or with Martin… I have no problem calling Presbyterians a sect — they are a subtype of Christianity. But Sikhs aren’t a subtype of anything.

            Most dictionary definitions start off by saying that the primary meaning of sect is a group that has split off from a larger group, although many also acknowledge that the word can be used to denote adherents to any kind of belief. That seems a bit lax to me.

          • Martin says:

            It’s a subtle usage issue. To my mind Jews practice Judaism. Yes, you can use “Jews” to mean “all Jews” and be a synonym for Judaism. But it’s ambiguous at best and slightly demeaning at worst. I prefer to distinguish between a religion, like “Islam,” and its adherents, like”Muslims.”

          • pannonica says:

            Unable to perceive Martin’s subtle difference in usage.

            DavidL: Not disagreeing with you. For this example it’s correct that Sikhism is not a sect; I was commenting more abstractly on Martin’s assertion.

          • pannonica says:

            More on the Judaism analogy. Is that a wise choice? Can Sikh also be conflated as an ethnicity? I realize it’s highly correlated with geographic origin (and with nomina) but I am unfamiliar with that aspect, which it seems your comparison hinges on, Martin.

          • Martin says:

            Judaism and Sikhism are religions.

            If you define “ethnicity” to include Jews from as far afield as, say, Morocco and Poland, I would think the much more homogeneous Sikh community would be more so.

          • pannonica says:

            I may have gone too far astray. My earlier comment on this was challenging your equivalence of ‘sect’ and ‘religion’. A sect can also refer to a religious group as well as a denomination.

          • CY Hollander says:

            I don’t think your analogy is quite apt, Martin, because, as David L. points out, sect itself, strictly speaking, refers to “a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith” (; emphasis mine). That is, it refers to the people, rather than the faith, so if you prefer to distinguish between a religion and its adherents, then “Sikhs” rather than “Sikhism” are the Punjabi sect.

            Edit: I see Pannonica was making essentially the same point, albeit less forcefully (“can also” vs. “strictly speaking, does”).

      • Papa John says:

        Is it “adolescent glee” or a calculated effort to stand out from the crowd, much the way stand-up comics did when they began to include foulmouthed jokes in their routines, merely for affect?

      • Papa John says:

        This thread is akimbo! It’s branched off into so many directions it’s become confusing. It began about the propriety of “baby batter” in a crossword puzzle intended for general distribution and split into three of four diverse topics.

        I agree that Sikhs are not a sect for two reasons. The first is what you said about a sect having to be an offshoot of something. The second reason is from what Martin said about Sikhs (Jews) vs Sikhism (Judaism). No matter how you look at it, the clue is incorrect.

    • Bencoe says:

      I’ve only heard the term used once–by Chris Elliott in the very popular (now dated) There’s Something About Mary.

    • hirschho says:

      After reading some of the comments, does anyone else want to say that they thought the “semen” clue was funny?
      A BEQ donor

      • Anyone else says:


        • bananarchy says:


          • PJ Ward says:

            I made a little noise in BEQ’s tip jar and he sent a thank you pack. I’m halfway through the themeless and I’m loving it. It’s a 21×21 grid that reminds me why I love crosswords. As information I’ve run in to no body functions or sex acts and only two bands/performers (one known, one not).

            I’m looking forward to the others.

        • hirschho says:


      • Richard says:

        I liked it. If you want clues that are always perfectly family friendly, there’s always NYT. Indies are where you get creative, funny stuff even if there’s the odd one that [gasping while clutching pearls while fainting onto the fainting couch] mentions the existence of sex.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      Thumbs down on baby batter. And Papa needs to lighten up or dismount IMHO.

  7. PJ Ward says:

    BEQ – I had my trouble with 21a also. But not with 6d – TOKAY is a wonderful wine, but with 18d – RZA (??).

    I wasn’t overly fond of “O” for “0” in “ONE AFTER9O9.” For me it’s either numerals (909) or letters (NINEONINE). And I much prefer the numerals.

  8. CY Hollander says:

    I agree that the APULIA/PALMA crossing was the dodgiest bit of the puzzle. I guessed right there, because both were vaguely familiar to me as place names, but I expect there were people who struck out on that square.

    Good point about S and the ROMAN alphabet, Amy. Come to think of it, we still call that alphabet Roman nowadays (more commonly “Latin”, but “Roman” too), so you don’t even have to go as far back as Rome itself to find ROMAN S’s. So I agree that that clue falls a little short, although the idea was cute.

    • ahimsa says:

      Yes, that P cross was tough. I had some vague memory of PALMA so I got it. I did not know APULIA but I enjoyed learning some geography. It seems that BARI, friend to many crossword constructors, is located there.

      I also think that clue for ROMAN was a bit off. It would have been great clue for ROMAN NUMERAL, though.

      PS. I thought I’d add my two cents on ISIS. Mentions should be restricted to the goddess. Or the 1970s TV show. :-)

  9. dbs says:

    Agree —CS—grid is definitely for the birds

Comments are closed.