Thursday, July 2, 2015

NYT 5:03 (Amy) 
Fireball 4:31 (Amy) 
LAT 5:25 (Gareth) 
CS 13:19 (Ade) 
BEQ 6:44 (Ben) 

Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 2 15, no 0702

NY Times crossword solution, 7 2 15, no 0702

I finished the whole puzzle without understanding the theme, but eventually the penny dropped. INVISIBLE INK is 67a. [What six of this puzzle’s clues have been written with?] because the single-letter theme clues should really be 4-letter words consisting of those initial letters + “ink”:

  • 18a. [K], ECCENTRICITY. Kink.
  • 30a. [W], SPLIT SECOND. Quick as a wink.
  • 38a. [P], MEDIUM RARE. A local burger-centric restaurant offers “pink or not pink” doneness options.
  • 53a. [F], STOOL PIGEON. This one tipped me off to the theme—trying to think of how F related to STOOL PIGEON, I thought of “fink.”
  • 12d. [S], FOUNDER. This is the verb, foundering and sinking, and not the noun, one who establishes something.
  • 45d. [L], CONNECT. Link.

Simple, yet evasive. Good Thursday theme. To accommodate the 10-letter themer in the center, the grid’s 16 squares wide.

Five more things:

  • 13d. [Classic Nintendo game similar to Tetris], DR. MARIO. Never heard of it; neither has my husband, who is more of a gamer than I am.
  • 59a. [Opposite of drop out], ENROL. I kind of wish every constructor who uses word lists to help fill grids would delete this entry from their lists. This is America! It’s ENROLL, with two L’s, in this country.
  • 7d. [Containing element #77], IRIDIC. Containing iridium? Not an adjective I’ve ever seen. Ridic!
  • 3d. [Needs for many digital cameras], AA CELLS. Not sure I know anyone who wouldn’t just say “double-A batteries.”
  • 2d. [Affliction with many folk remedies], HICCUPS. Deb Amlen told me to take a spoonful of sugar, and she’s right. It often works.

There are a few words here that I have seldom encountered outside of crosswords: PLEB, ORISON, LIANA, LEA, and ETYMA.

3.75 stars from me.

Jim Hilger’s Fireball crossword, “The Last Shall Be First”

Fireball crossword solution, 7 2 15 "The Last Shall Be First"

Fireball crossword solution, 7 2 15 “The Last Shall Be First”

The title phrase explains how the theme answers are formed: The last word of a familiar phrase moves up to be the first word.

  • 3d. [Apply to Harvard?], TRY THE OLD COLLEGE. The old college try.
  • 5d. [Have a symbolic American dessert delivered?], ORDER IN APPLE PIE. In apple-pie order.
  • 15d. [Delivers checks to restaurant patrons?], BEARS THE BAD NEWS. The Bad News Bears.
  • 10d. [Outperform in a tree-eating contest?], BITE MORE BARK THAN. More bark than bite.

Not sure why the theme answers are vertical. Two of the themers have 16 letters, but 16 squares wide is certainly workable (see today’s NYT). The theme works well, though. Overall the puzzle felt a bit easier than most Fireballs—no difficult-to-uncover trick here.

Three more things:

  • 41a. [Cover to protect from the heat?], ABET. Cops’ heat, not an oven—I was tempted by oven MITT save for that question mark.
  • 43d. [Lodger dislodger], EVICTOR. Have not seen this form of the word before, I don’t think. A landlord or a county sheriff might evict you, but their job doesn’t get called EVICTOR. It’s making me think of those horrible E- entries. Who won your online trivia contest? The e-victor.
  • 41d. [Big band bandleader Lyman], ABE. Never heard of him. This is the price you pay for Peter Gordon’s preference for brand-new clues.

Most of the fill is ordinary stuff. Not “whoa, so smooth,” not “ooh, sparkly!,” but also not “ugh, terrible.” Four stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Mic Drop” — Ben’s Review

micdropHopefully this week’s BEQ isn’t as divisive as last week’s seemed.  This week’s twist should have been easily figured out by the title, but it took me a little bit to realize that there were two sets of clues affected by what was going on, gaining the extra MIC dropped by the clue above it:

  • 14A: Flatfish owned by comedian Bill? — COS(MIC)RAY
  • 26A: Tiny organism in the tub? — BATH (MIC)ROBE
  • 29A: Indie actor Michael’s weed? — CERA(MIC) POT
  • 34A: Stance of a controversial argument? — POLE(MIC) POSITION 
  • 47A: Crucial part of the Earth’s layers? — (MIC)KEY MANTLE
  • 52A: Mining areas that are a real laugh? — CO(MIC)AL PITS

COSRAY felt kind of sketchy as an answer, even with what was going on, but the rest felt fine.  There were a few other questionable non-theme entries running around the grid, too: TLALOC (36A, Aztec god of rains), IT PRO (43A, tech support guru, which I expected to be IT GUY), and CKONE (41D, Fragrant competitor of Tommy).

Elsewhere in the puzzle, things felt pretty by the books.  I liked BEQ’s clue for LABEL at 8D (Matador or Merge, e.g.), and seeing IGUANODON (11D) in a puzzle was nice.  Overall, this was a nice puzzle to kick off July with.

3.25/5 stars

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “When in Rome”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.02.15: "When in Rome"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.02.15: “When in Rome”

Good day, everyone! So today’s theme, from the grid of Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is one that I got and understood, but still was left at a loss a little while solving. Each of the theme answers are common phrases and/or nouns that are reimagined (and clued) so that consecutive letters inside of the entry, that also happen to be Roman numerals, actually act as that Roman numeral when answering.

  • VIAGRA PILLS (17A: [Six party poopers from India?])
  • RESCUE DIVERS (28A: [Save 504 hospital units?])
  • SMOKED CIGARS (45A: [Cured 101 long-nosed fish?])
  • LIQUID DIETS (58A: [Weight loss plan for 51 pounds?]) – Quid = one pound sterling.

Despite being left a little underwhelmed at the theme, I did like some of the lively down answers, especially DEGENERES (11D: [Funny Ellen]) and ALSATIAN, a term I learned not too long ago when seeing a YouTube clip on different breeds of dogs (10D: [German shepherd]). Although, I’ll have to admit that I had never heard of the term MONOKINIS before (34D: [Some sexy beachwear]). Are those the same as tankinis, the tank top bikini? Going back to the fun downs, haven’t seen/heard LOVE NEST in a long while, so that was fun to see (23D: [Site for a tryst]). So, for today, SIRREE is spelled with two Rs, which used to be the way I spelled it regularly, at least in my mind, before crosswords continually made me spell me with just the one R (5D: [“No ______!”]). Although I was in a laudatory state on some down answers, I couldn’t wax the same poetic for the adjacent entries of QOM (59D: [Iranian holy city]) and URB (60D: [Metro area]). Those definitely made me want to drink a couple of BREWSKIS (25D: [Cold ones]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CLEM (33D: [Skelton character Kadiddlehopper]) – Former University of Minnesota men’s basketball head coach CLEM Haskins took the Golden Gophers to the Final Four back in 1997. Two years later, he resigned from his post after being implicated in a massive academic fraud scandal that was revealed on the eve of the 1999 NCAA Tournament in which a former academic office manager admitted to doing schoolwork for athletes. Haskins was also penalized by the NCAA, as he was essentially blackballed from coaching in the NCAA for seven years. Haskins, as a player, was one of the first black athletes to play basketball at Western Kentucky University, in 1963, and that was considered one of the turning points in the embracing of integration in terms of athletics programs across universities in the South.

TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


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

LA Times 150702

LA Times

The cryptic-style revealer is LEMONTWIST. So the letters LEMON are found across the middles of four other two-word theme answers. LEMON only anagrams in the narrow sense to MELON, so an interpretation like this is necessary. It makes the theme feel rather open-ended though. Still, you get a nice collection of theme answers, and important goal that sometimes gets lost when framing a theme too narrowly. We get [*Serious swearing], SOLEMNOATH; [*Hunt’s rival], DELMONTE; [*Brunch choice], WESTERNOMELET; [*Camera attachment], ZOOMLENS.

Bullets, cos I’m behind “schedule”:

  • twistLemonLarge[Eponymous obstetrician Fernand], LAMAZE. Sort of like macrame?
  • [Hip bones], ILIA. That reminds me, got a 14-year old deaf, blind dog with a fractured ilium waiting for us tomorrow. What to do. Hit by owner in car, because it’s blind and deaf and was too slow to get out of the way. Sadly, this happens with surprising frequency…
  • [Managing ed.’s concern], CIRC + QID and URI in a 4×3 section with one entrance. This could (SHOULD) have been redone by the editor and is an example of warped priorities on the part of the constructor. No Q is worth mangling an easy-to-fill section of puzzle! Priorities!
  • [Longtime maker of convertibles], CASTRO was a completely meaningless clue for me. Apparently an American couch-maker. I need to bone up on those!
  • [Solution for contacts], SALINE. Also faecal wet preps, but don’t expect that in a clue soon…

3 Stars

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31 Responses to Thursday, July 2, 2015

  1. Evad says:

    I kind of back-solved into the theme, getting the revealer first and then working back to the theme entries. But it’s rare not to have been able to finish a Thursday puzzle and I got stuck both in the NE and SW corners, in particular ROD in the NE and the NYC/GAT entries in the SW. I felt the cluing was just a bit too vague today.

    • Gail says:

      Agree on all counts. Never did figure out the theme until Amy revealed it. Just had enough letters for each of the theme answers to fill them in with no idea why.

  2. Jim Hale says:

    While this was different, the trick was too difficult to uncover, making the puzzle unenjoyable for the most part,. Add me to the list that didn’t understand it until Amy’s explanation.

  3. PJ Ward says:

    Is BEQ available yet? I don’t see it but it has a rating.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    My habit of often starting at the bottom paid off in the NYT! Light bulb went off early: wow! I still found some of the clues odd, like Buddy for ACE?

  5. Barrywep says:

    Thanks Amy. I also finished the puzzle without getting the theme. Thought I was just slow. Rather than tax my early morning brain I just checked your blog!

  6. CY Hollander says:

    I finished the whole puzzle without understanding the theme

    That’s because you finish puzzles so quickly. A typical Thursday is something like 20 minutes for me, which left ample time for pondering the theme as I solved it. For me, it struck just the right balance between puzzling and understanding. I liked it.

    The rest of the puzzle was fine, normal Thursday strength except for the bottom-left section, which stymied me for a while, same as Evad. Finally broke through there when I remembered the Genus edition of Trivial Pursuit. Neat to make that game the subject of a trivia question for a change.

  7. dook says:

    NYT just too hard. I don’t mind hard, but I want a satisfying pay off. I got none. Didn’t understand the ink till I read it here. And even after getting it, I’d question wink, kink, and probably pink as well. Pink and sink aren’t wrong, they’re just not that right or familiar. I’d argue that kink is correct at all. A kink is not really an eccentricity is it. A kink is a fetish, a cramp or a member of my favorite band. Add to this fill with words I’ve never heard of and will never hear again and I’m not a happy camper.

  8. David L says:

    I didn’t understand the theme until I had almost finished, and I needed it to get CONNECT and fill in the SW corner. Clever puzzle, but I have quibbles with a couple of clues — did the Franks (ancestors of modern Germans, Dutch, and others) really say NEIN? And I don’t see why a LOZENGE should necessarily be hard to swallow. If it’s a big lozenge, yes, if it’s small, then no.

    And when would anyone say DAREME? Doesn’t seem like a natural phrase to me.

  9. Jason F says:

    Count me as one who really liked the concept and puzzle. I appreciate it when the puzzle forces me to figure out the theme to finish; here, I needed the light to go on with “INVISIBLE INK”. The clue on DIMPLE had me stuck for the longest time – great one!

  10. Papa John says:

    The single letter clues were a dead giveaway that I needed more to solve the theme clues, so I headed south to see if there was a revealer. Et voila, there it was. What could INVISIBE INK mean other than INK was somehow dropped or missing? It’s a rather standard crossword device, no? I’m not sure why so many were fooled by it.

    After that, it was smooth sailing, except for a couple of fills that left me perplexed; 61A”Family feud?” GANG WAR and 21A “Buddy” ACE.

  11. Gary R says:

    I really struggled with the NYT, but I thought it was fun. The theme was clever, and once I figured it out (at about the 30-minute mark) it made the rest of the solve considerably smoother. Still, the cluing seemed pretty tough for a Thursday.

    Amy, regarding your comment on the theme – When you’re expert enough to solve a puzzle like this in 5 minutes, where there are six answers that essentially have no clue, I can see where you could finish without seeing the theme. But I assume you didn’t have any trouble understanding the theme after you’d finished and looked at the revealer?

    I’m curious whether anyone here figured out the theme without seeing the revealer first? Seems like that would be near impossible.

    • Papa John says:

      …hence, the revealer.

    • CY Hollander says:

      Well, I was looking for letter strings that could be appended to the beginnings or ends of all those letters, and even got as far as thinking of sinking and kinkiness before dismissing the latter out of hand as not a very close synonym of eccentricity. Obviously, I was too quick to dismiss that, but I was trying to keep various potential meanings of theme entries in mind and I didn’t know whether I was looking for a string at the beginning or the end or whether my hunch was right at all, and I was trying to do the rest of the crossword at the same time, so it didn’t have my full focus.

      I feel like I may have seen a similar theme before, though I can’t remember for sure. At the very least I’ve seen puzzles where the theme involved some sort of transformation obscuring the clues, so it wasn’t totally foreign to me.

      • Gary R says:

        That strikes me as a pretty good attempt. The only thing I came up with before seeing the revealer was something around chemical symbols for elements – but that clearly wasn’t going anywhere.

  12. huda says:

    NYT: I blame jet lag…

    but ORISON and ETYMA are not my fault.

    • Gary R says:

      Welcome home – or have you traveled beyond Europe?

      ORISON required all the crosses, as did AEOLIAN. I was able to suss out ETYMA with just the T and M – credit pannonica’s posts for that. IRIDIC was inferable, but not a word I’ve ever run into before.

  13. joon says:

    for those of you who did merl’s sunday puzzle this week and thought there was a curious omission, i direct you to glutton for punishment, where erik agard & angela halsted have rectified the situation.

  14. Avg Solvr says:

    Like some others I figured the gimmick after completion. (Misreading the revealer clue initially didn’t help matters.) Clever puzzle but found a lot of the fill much tougher than an average Thursday.

  15. Art Shapiro says:

    On the CS, I was a bit disturbed by the answer RESCUEDIVERS, which seems to have an extraneous “E” with respect to the theme. Have I missed a sublety?

    The NYT seemed clearer to me than, apparently, a lot of folks. But I blew it in one square, having PIMPLE rather than DIMPLE and then being completely unable to make sense of the now-incorrect down cross.


    • Norm says:

      I think it parses as “RESCUE DIV ERS” — i.e., emergency rooms as the “hospital units.”

  16. Norm says:

    NYT was definitely one where it would have helped to look for and solve the revealer. That not being my style, it was a WTF puzzle until the very end. The crosses were friendly enough that each theme answer became apparent even without understanding what one was looking for, and then then all was made clear in the end. I guess I liked it, although it was frustrating.

  17. Gareth says:

    I usually figure out themes post-solve, but today’s NYT theme I got to in under minute… As it happened I spidered down to the bottom and the revealer pretty quickly! Clue for dimple was cute. I like how detox is followed by folk remedies, since detoxing has about as much basis in reality as most folk remedies… Is pleb not used colloquially, a lot like prole??? LAT will be up soonish…

    • pannonica says:

      Neither pleb nor prole have much currency stateside. Probably because we fancy ourselves a classless (read: not rigidly stratified) society, which these days and with rare exceptions is very much not the case.

  18. Harry says:

    It’s about time.

  19. Martin says:


    People say “AA battery,” but they’re technically incorrect. A (galvanic) cell is the unit of chemical electrical generation. It’s generally two metals with a salt between them, and the voltage produced is determined by a fundamental property of the two metals. AAA, AA, C and D cells are cells, not batteries.

    A battery is a package of cells, typically connected internally in series, to produce a higher voltage than the base cell produces. A 12-volt car battery contains six lead-acid cells, each generating about two volts. A rectangular 9-volt battery is a battery, with six 1.5-volt cells inside.

    Some people object to “AA battery” on these technical grounds. I think that’s pedantic and would never correct this common usage. But on the other hand, objecting to the correct terminology is bad too.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      That’s nice, Martin. Please alert all the manufacturers that sell these things and label them as batteries.

  20. Lois says:

    I had mixed feelings about the NYT today. I found the theme far more quickly than usual for a Thursday, and liked it, but found the fill and some of the theme answers too tough, not always the ones others didn’t like.

  21. pannonica says:

    BEQ: Pushing back on the clue for first themer 14a. Although rays are fish that are (dorsoventrally) flattened, the term ‘flatfish’ refers to an entirely different group (in an entirely different Class), which incidentally are laterally flattened.

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