Friday, July 10, 2015

NYT 4:42 (Amy) 
LAT 7:04 (Gareth) 
CS 10:55 (Ade) 
CHE 5:05 (pannonica) 
Blindauer 8:03 (Matt) 
WSJ (Friday) 14:00 (pannonica) 

Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 10 15, no 0710

NY Times crossword solution, 7 10 15, no 0710

BEER O’CLOCK! Yes, that is 15a. [When it’s acceptable to start downing brews]. Funnest thing in the whole puzzle, and it was the first long answer I filled in. You can have COKE or CHAI if you don’t drink beer.

Other answers I got a kick out of: CHARM CITY and its local ballpark, ORIOLE PARK; LION’S SHARE; old-school BUGGY WHIP crossing POCKET WATCH; and DANA CARVEY.

On the blah or “eww” side, we have N-TESTS, ARILS, AARE, GROH, SPEER (shudder), RAVI, ELEC, ABRA, -IEST, ACRO-, BRIC-, and SCORNER. Too many of those for my taste in this 72-worder.

Four more things:

  • 22d. [Laparoscopy technology], FIBER OPTICS. Big fan of laparoscopy.
  • 2d. [Bikini feature], REEF. As in the capital-B Bikini Atoll.
  • 1a. [Tycoon with the middle name Socrates], ARI ONASSIS. Died 40 years ago. I was counting letters and hoping GEORGE SOROS would fit.
  • About 15 proper nouns, brand names, or titles in this grid mean the folks who often struggle with name clues probably grumbled here.

Five stars for BEER O’CLOCK, about three stars for the rest of it. 3.5 stars overall?


Patrick Blindauer’s July website Crossword — “Classified Dads” — Matt’s review


Late on my review of the July Blindauer here, thanks to the holiday weekend and its subsequent aftereffects. But we’re all here now, so let’s begin.

Father’s Day tribute (also a little late!) from Patrick today, with five PA/PA-s in the grid, Crushword-style.

20-A [Madonna’s 4th #1 hit] = (PA)(PA) DON’T PREACH. Good song.
38-A [Separate and stay that way] = KEE(P A)(PA)RT. Good entry.
54-A [“Deliver” was their third album, with “The”] = MAMAS & THE (PA)(PA)S. Note the Hookian ampersand in there.

And then there are, also Hookian, two unclued two-letter entries of (PA)(PA) at 23-A and 53-A. And all of these work on the downs as well, of course, the crossings being ARE(PA), TAM(PA), PEN (PA)L, SOS (PA)D, AU (PA)IR, SE(PA)L, S(PA)SMS, A(PA)TOW, (PA)Y IN and (PA)ULO.

Not shocked in a Blindauer when the words don’t fit, and 2-D is where it started here: what could a four-letter [Florida resort port] be? TAMPA!

And then this happened early in my solve, where faced with (PA)(PA)DO???????? I started to fill in the letters of former Haitian leader PAPA DOC DUVALIER. It didn’t fit, so I bothered to look at the clue and had the facepalm moment.


Lots of tricky clues in this one: [Foreign tender] for AU PAIR is excellent, as are [Code name?] for MORSE and [Game for shapeshifters?] for TETRIS.

11-D brought up a funny memory: [MacGyver’s initials, or a dietary abbr.] = RDA, for actor Richard Dean Anderson. So one of the years I worked at a summer camp in Maryland, it emerged during staff training week that two different counselors, from different states and completely unknown to each other, preferred to be called “MacGyver.” They were both Mr. Fixit types, and each insisted on the nickname, so there was a brief rivalry as to who would indeed be known as that summer’s MacGyver. Thankfully, neither got their wish.

That bottom-right corner is highly elegant, no? SILENT K, NYUK, SKEW/KNOW cross at the W, PAY IN. Very good.

4.00 stars. And I promise to review the August Blindauer before the 10th!

Mark Bickham’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150710

LA Times 150710

Abbreviated blogpost. The theme is packed to the gills! Four long answers that are legal terms repurposed wacky-style: SUMMARYJUDGMENT, LEGALCOUNSEL, COUNTERCLAIM & MOTIONTODISMISS. HEARINGTHINGS ties it all together. It would be great if this was a title instead of a central answer, but the LAT doesn’t do titles.

I connected together an impressive run of wrong answers in the top-left: MUSTI was NOTME; UTILE was OFUSE; ASH for ELM; TRI was MIS. That obscured the SUMMARY of SUMMARYJUDGMENT.

Given the constraints of the theme this is very neatly filled indeed. Nothing flash, but with that much theme I wouldn’t expect it.

3.75 Stars

John Lampkin’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Going for the Jockular” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 7/10/15 • "Going for the Jockular" • Lampkin • solution

CHE • 7/10/15 • “Going for the Jockular” • Lampkin • solution

Unusually, I noticed the title before beginning to solve. And, reader, I trembled. It spoke of excruciating punnery, a quality of mirthiness overstrained.

But I’m relieved to announce that my fears were unfounded. By virtue of design, focus, and consistency it succeeds admirably.

  • 17a. [Where the Agile Agronomists play football?] CEREAL BOWL.
  • 27a. [Where the Geometry Giants play baseball?] PARALLEL PARK.
  • 45a. [Where the Electricians Extraordinaire play basketball?] CIRCUIT COURT.
  • 60a. [Where the Fighting Physicists play soccer?] FORCE FIELD.

All four use common phrases, and play on alternative meanings of words that are also types of venues for athletic events. In a similar vein, four different sports are invoked, appropriately linked to typical stadiums. Additionally, the fabricated teams are given alliterative names, putting a nice bow on the whole venture.

beforenightfallsFour long downs augment the grid: 11d [Suspect chicanery] SMELL A RAT, 12d [Operatic assignment in which a female plays a male] PANTS ROLE (I’m certain editor Brad Wilber is aware that TROUSER ROLE is the much more common locution), 32d [Casino cry] LET IT RIDE, 33d [Native] INTRINSIC. The grid also involves four seven-letter entries crosshairing the center square: STONILY, SCARRED, RENTALS, and PITFALL.

  • Puzzle opens with a tricky clue at one-across: [Brightness measurer] IQ TEST. Made it a touch more difficult to get an early footing. Especially as the Q crossed with the slightly unexpected 2d [Form a line] QUEUE (even though the clue is spot-on).
  • Least favorite fill: 20a [Reviewer of tax returns: Abbr.] AUD; the symmetrically placed 58a [Fluor- or brom- suffix] -IDE is not much better. (See also 61d [Ending with subject or object] -IVE.)
  • Enjoyed the crossing of the diametrically opposed STIR and IDLED, both with quaint vocabulary in the clues: [Brouhaha] and [Lollygagged].
  • 63a [“Some __ born great”: “Twelfth Night”] ARE. Read by Malvolio. The more expanded quote is “If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” You know you know it.
  • Wasn’t familiar with 55a [“Journey to __” (former “Sesame Street” segment)] ERNIE, but I like the rhyme. As I did the tautogram in the clue for 24d SPOT [Pooch in the pages of a primer].

Very good crossword.

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Reading List” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/10/15 • "Reading List" • Fri • solution

WSJ • 7/10/15 • “Reading List” • Fri • solution

Hesitant as to how successfully I can distill the theme while characterizing it faithfully. Just going to go ahead, list the themers, and pursue analysis on the fly.

  • 24a. [“The Wolf of Wall Street”?] BROKERAGE ACCOUNT.
  • 32a. [“Equus”?] HORSE PLAY.
  • 53a. [“Lust for Life”?] STONE WORK.
  • 63a. [1869 Inaugural Address?] GRANT WRITING.
  • 79a. [Sir Alec’s memoir?] GUINNESS BOOK.
  • 88a. [“Jaws”?] FISH STORY.
  • 108a. [Joe Klein essay?] TIME PIECE.
  • 120a. [Memoir by singer Whitney?] HOUSTON CHRONICLE.
  • 3d. [Recollections from women celebrating diamond anniversaries?] OLD WIVES’ TALES.
  • 60d. [“Christine”?] AUTO BIOGRAPHY.

So. Words and phrases reimagined—sort of—as being specific kinds of written composition. But five of the ten clues are simply titles. A different grouping of five of the ten answers are eponymous. Three of the ten convert single compound words into two constituents. Some of the answers (e.g., BOOK, BIOGRAPHY) in the original senses are not removed at all from those portrayed in the reinterpreted versions, while others do, to varying degrees (e.g., PLAY, PIECE).

No, it still seems insufficiently coherent to me.

  • 97a [Villain of 1941] TOJO, 26a [1942 film with a title taken from Walt Whitman] NOW, VOYAGER, 57a [1945 battle site, for short] IWO.
  • Double-E-apalooza! SPEECHES, LEE SHORE, TRALEE, SEE INTO, ELLERBEE, EILEEN, ANISEED, SLEEP, ICEE, GEE, FEED ON, EMCEE. Perhaps this amount isn’t unusual in a 21×21 grid, but it seemed noticeable to me today.
  • Double-shot of the Latinate ligature æ, dead center: 71a [Background computer process] DAEMON, 72a [Ancient marketplaces] AGORAE.
  • Deftly avoided duplications: 87a [Groom’s place] STABLE (themer HORSE PLAY), 52a [Sheeran and Helms] EDS (see 117a [Slanted columns] EDITORIALS).
  • Not only is 96d REHAULS less-than-stellar fill, but the clue [Returns a load] employs a word with the same re- prefix. Blech. Or should I say FEH, or perhaps PAH? (58a/110d [Disgusted utterance])
  • Was fooled by 75a [Canterbury can], thinking LOO or LAV before TIN.
  • 111a [Coll. study] SCI. Seems kind of random. Also, even more science should be taught in elementary and high schools.
  • Favorite clue: [Take a toy that doesn’t belong to you] DOGNAP. Runners-up: 76a [Served well] ACED, 82a [Exemplified model behavior] POSED (see also 105d [Ford with many models] EILEEN.)
  • Less common words: 92d [New Testament author] EPISTLER, 80d [Was revolting] UPROSE, 44a [Obscure knowledge] ESOTERY.

Pretty good grid and cluing overall, but the theme was disappointing.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Split P Soup”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword solution, 07.10.15: "Split P Soup"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword solution, 07.10.15: “Split P Soup”

Happy Friday, everyone! If you’ve started noticing, the difficulty of these crosswords have increased ever so slightly this week (at least in my opinion). Today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross is also a slightly tougher puzzle than usual, though the theme is pretty straightforward; each of the theme answers are two-word entries in which the last letter of the first word and the first letter of the second both start with the letter P.

  • GALLUP POLL (17A: [Report on what the electorate is thinking])
  • SLEEP PHASE (21A: [R.E.M., for example])
  • HIP POCKET (34A: [Place for a flask])
  • SCRAP PAPER (52A: [Extra sheets?])
  • TRUMP PLAZA (57A: [Casino once run by “The Donald”])

What made for the interesting solve experience was those corners, and they all had a lot of meat. The southeast corner was probably the easiest to slay, with SYRIANS (43D: [Many refugees of 2015]) and FREEZER coming into play fairly quickly after getting the theme those answers intersected (42D: [Supermarket section]). The southwest chunk was a little harder for me, even with the sports reference of NO-TRADE (39D: [Kind of contract clause for a pro athlete]). Getting MARSALA took longer than it should, especially given my love for chicken (37D: [Sweet, dark wine]), and EPOCHAL was really good fill as well that ended up taking a little longer than it should (38D: [Historically significant]). The clue to CITICORP is so interesting because, when remembering the time after the 2008 recession, many Mets fans and other cynics referred to Citi Field as “Taxpayer Field” (24D: [Sponsor of the Mets’ home field]). If “Enron” was still the sponsor/name of the field the Houston Astros play in (now called Minute Maid Park), what funny handle/name would you be able to come up with?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOB (32D: [High ball?]) – Last month, I got a chance to speak with Dave LaRoche, former Major League pitcher and current staff member of the minor league’s Brooklyn Cyclones, and also the man known for his sometimes-curveball called “La LOB.” The unorthodox pitch was thrown, by LaRoche, like a pitch in slow-pitch softball – high into the air and towards the plate, yet being harder to hit than it would look. Wanna see???  Of course!! I knew you wanted to…

Have yourself a great start to the weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow. Returning back to NYC tomorrow night!

Take care!


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17 Responses to Friday, July 10, 2015

  1. Chris says:

    Fill for the NYT was pretty smooth for me, except in the middle–I had IT IS? instead of the correct I TRY, leading to SPLITS instead of QUARTS, and not knowing ARILS (and not being able to get the BUGGY part of BUGGYWHIP) let to a self-contained sea of red ink there in the center. Otherwise, like I said, pretty smooth; each half fell with little, if any, resistance.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: My first look yielded next to nothing, thanks to all the proper names which usually stump me. But I did remarkably well, just put RAVI and that V triggered DANA CARVEY and the whole diagonal in the middle filled itself like a charm. It’s alway amazing to me how sometimes all it takes is a tiny foothold.
    I had very vaguely heard of BEER O CLOCK, and tried Five then Four (thinking has it crept up?) and then realized it must be BEER. But the Southeast was harder for me, not having a clue where the birthplace of the NFL was and SPEER and GROH not being remotely on my radar screen. And I guess I still have, decades later, my mediterranean habit of a much later dinner, so it took a while for 6 pm to evoke DINNER TIME.
    Overall, I enjoyed solving it and learned a few things along the way.
    And I’m with Amy, FIBER OPTICS are awesome…

  3. huda says:

    Re yesterday’s query about Bruce… I’ve emailed him and have not heard back (he usually responds). I’m concerned. I hope he’s just taking a break and we will hear from him soon.

  4. David L says:

    I often have trouble with Barry Silk’s cluing but this was a breeze — too much so for a Friday. Didn’t know GROH, didn’t care for SCORNER, didn’t understand SLANG (“It may be thrown around at a party”??), but no major holdups.

    Friday feels wrong when the puzzle is too easy. I hope the after-effects don’t bleed into the rest of my day…

  5. Jason F says:

    NYT: Some good stuff in the longer entries today. Sometimes, though, I tend to be bothered by the grid design. In this particular puzzle, the solving path is like following a maze (it’s basically a zig-zag). I prefer it to be a little more open with multiple ways to move between sections when I get stuck.

  6. Judith Speer says:

    Yay, me! A Friday NY Times puzzle with no Google or Ms Checks in less than 30 minutes. Ironically, me, I got SPEER when I filled in Pnin. (I’m old enough to remember Groh.) Oh and
    on the Blindauer website he does not use an ampersand in his PDF answers but uses another rebus square with “and” which makes sense with Sanders as the fast food person. That stumped me.

  7. Zulema says:

    Enjoyed today’s NYT puzzle tremendously, especially after abandoning the Thursday, not what I prefer to spend time on. Curmadgeoness here.

    • huda says:

      I love Curmadgeoness. It sounds powerful and classy. I’m stealing it.

      I’ve always looked forward to being an old woman, so I can be this and other things with no apology. I was right. It’s a lot of fun!

      • Zulema says:

        Huda, thank you, especially for the “old woman.” The point is to be an old woman who can do the Friday puzzle, though the Saturdays sometimes get me.

  8. aries says:

    Blindauer: Was really confused as to the rationale for 23A and 53A, especially because of the lack of a clue for those. I thought I was missing something to the theme; is it just a whimsical touch a la Henry Hook as Matt proposes?

    • Gary R says:

      I assumed that we were supposed to take those two answers as being clued by the title – although I didn’t really understand why it was “Classified” Dads rather than just “Dads.”

      Also thought that there was a little inconsistency in the theme – in the first and last theme entries, the rebus squares replace the word “papa,” but in the middle entry, the rebus squares span two words.

    • Becky56 says:

      Patrick says on his website that this puzzle was his way of announcing his impending fatherhood (sometime in early December). I found it quite appropriate!

  9. Harry says:

    Loved the LAT puzzle! I agree with Gareth’s problems in the top left. I had the same problems.

  10. Bob says:

    LAT theme the most inane in my 50 years of puzzling. Add to it a slew of sophomoric defs and you end up with an indecipherable concoction of arcane words and mundane media names. An insult to anyone’s intelligence. Rating?? Where’s the ZERO?

  11. CY Hollander says:

    NYT: “I KNEW” seems weak to me. Not ‘in-the-language’ the same way as “I know”.

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