Friday, July 17, 2015

NYT 4:28 (Amy) 
LAT 6:24 (Gareth) 
CS 8:18 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 17 15, no 0717

NY Times crossword solution, 7 17 15, no 0717

True story: I tried to remember the Simpsons episode that involved 55a. [Goddess of wisdom, to Homer], ATHENE. Whoops, not that Homer.

Solid 66-worder here. Did not care to see SAGOS, ANITRA, and ESTOPS in the northeast corner, and the adjacent I’M IT/CAN IT duplication was not welcome, but overall, lots of fun stuff.

Eight things:

  • 16a. [Person having one too many?], BIGAMIST. I already had TEDTalks’ BIG IDEAS in the grid and fretted that we were getting a BIG dupe, but no.
  • 18a. [1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme film], TIMECOP. I saw that one. Did not see his other compound-word movies, Bloodsport and Kickboxer. Kicktime! Bloodcop! Copboxer!
  • 29a. [1990s sitcom set in New York], MAD ABOUT YOU. Somewhat dated reference now, but man, I probably watched every episode back in the day.
  • 34a. [Daydreaming type], WALTER MITTY. Solid. Was trying to think of a generic term, like wool-gatherer.
  • 14d. [Money source since 2009], KICKSTARTER. I have been waiting months for some promised books I backed on Kickstarter. This sort of thing is not uncommon in the crowd-funding world.
  • 16d. [“Reason” that doesn’t explain anything], BECAUSE I CAN. You know what answer I’d love to see in a puzzle? BECAUSE REASONS.
  • 30d. [Measure of volume], BEL. Sound volume, not space volume. Not sure that anyone actually uses the BEL. The decibel is far, far more common.
  • 51d. [Subj. of the opening scene in “Ghostbusters”], ESP. With the Zener cards. I wonder if that scene will be reprised in the upcoming remake starring Melissa McCarthy.

3.9 stars from me.

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “All In”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.16.15: "Find Employment"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.16.15: “Find Employment”

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Friday! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, could also be titled, “All in the Family,” as in, each of the five theme entries puns in which the letters “ALL” are added to common phrases and terms. 

  • BALLAD LANDS (17A: [Regions where Sinatra and Bennett are popular?]) – From “badlands.”
  • BALLOON DOCKS (23A: [Places where zeppelins are secured?]) – From “boondocks”
  • PASSING SHALLOTS (39: [Handing over some edible bulbs at the dinner table?]) – From “passing shots.”
  • TWIST TALLIES (50A: [Inventories of a Chubby Checker hit?]) – From “twist ties.”
  • SAFE BALLETS (62A: [Dance companies where nobody gets injured?]) – From “safe bets.”

Pretty cute theme, and to have five theme entries in the grid was extra fun. CRAT was easy to spot, but, one of these days, that answer should be an homage to Mickey Mouse (2D: [Pluto chaser?]). Although, now thinking about it, a cartoon dog was, in some episodes, owned by a cartoon mouse. Interesting, to say the least! How many people remember what the letters TNN stood for before its transition to being the channel for the macho man (11A: [Spike’s former name])? I’m pretty sure it stood for The Nashville Network, as it did a lot of country music-themed television. Although maybe unintentional, the intersection of TRENCH COAT (11D: [Stereotypical garment for a detective]) and GOTH was pretty slick, with a black trench coat being the garment of choice for people who want to pull off the goth look (30D: [Style with dark clothes and heavy eyeliner]). Although he’s not the subject of the “sports…smarter” moment, many congrats to NOVAK for defending his Wimbledon title that he won last year, defeating Roger Federer in the men’s final last week (12D: [Tennis star Djokovic]). And just like he did after his first Wimbledon title in 2011, Novak decided to eat some of the Wimbledon grass after he won the title. (This picture is from 2011.)


“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DALTON (18D: [Bond portrayer Timothy]) – Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy DALTON has already become a polarizing figure in the Queen City in his four seasons as a professional. In each of the four seasons he has been in the league, the downtrodden Bengals have made the playoffs, with Dalton being the starting quarterback each season. Unfortunately, the Bengals have lost each of their four playoff games with Dalton under center, as he has thrown only one touchdown and six interceptions in those four games combined. Dalton is a two-time Pro Bowler, but patience is wearing very thin with the fans in Cincinnati. So much so that he’s getting booed by his home fans at a celebrity softball game, one of the preludes to this past Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati.

Have a great Friday, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Doctor Is In” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/17/15 • "The Doctor is In" • Fri • Long, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 7/17/15 • “The Doctor Is In” • Fri • Long, Shenk • solution

This is one of those low-energy, low-impact cookie-cutter themes that I presume veteran constructors jot down in idle moments and pull out every so often—like a readymeal from the freezer to be popped in the nuke-rowave—when they don’t feel like doing serious prep or cooking. It even has an eye-catching, spiffy label, its effortlessly apt punned title.

This is not to say it’s a bad crossword – no, not by any means. Merely that it isn’t exactly a gourmet experience. It’s the sort of thing that Shenk can do in his sleep: run-of-the-mill insertion theme, solid construction, varied cluing.

What’s up is this: each long across answer is augmented by the inclusion of the bigram DR—the abbreviated title of doctor—to create a wacky-style phrase.

  • 23a. [Constitution creator who gets an early start?] MORNING DRAFTER (morning after). That morning constitutional.

    Have I mentioned that I miss Grooveshark (despite its unfairness and illegality)?
  • 34a. [Find an apartment near the Plaza de Espana?] LIVE IN MADRID (live-in maid).
  • 49a. [Possible result of firing at an unmanned flier?] HOLE IN DRONE (hole-in-one).
  • 67a. [Sci-fi setting that curtains for visitors?] PLANET OF THE DRAPES (Planet of the Apes).
  • 84a. [Results of climate change in the Arctic plains?] TUNDRA MELTS (tuna melts).
  • 97a. [Cowpokes, when their herds refuse to budge?] CROSS DROVERS (crossovers).
  • 114a. [Ghostly spirits?] INVISIBLE DRINK (invisible ink).

Two of the seven locate their inclusions somewhere other than at the beginning of a word. They’re the most unexpected and by this virtue the most interesting of the bunch.

Stone Dry Dock, Norfolk, Va. circa 1905

  • My standard rundown of similar and/or allied clues or entries: 28a/101d [Epitomes of innocence] LAMBS/BABES. 101a/108d [Swampy area] BOG/MIRE. 77d [President Erdogan’s capital] ANKARA, 78d [President Essebsi’s capital] TUNIS – interesting way to jazz up standard geography material. 31a [Jazz club units] SETS, 97d [Jazzman’s skill] CHOPS, 1d [Extemporizes] VAMPS.
  • Favorite clues: 91a [Stren with a bow] ISAAC, 95a [Do Child labor?] COOK, 120a [Record holder] SLEEVE. 38d [Lead character] INITIAL, 74d [Ithaka starts with one] IOTA (for the subtle nudge via kappa).
  • Dupe-ISH (59d) between 22a [Top 40 hit for Coolio] TOO HOT and 95d [“West Side Story” song] COOL.
  • 39a [Trapezium, e.g.] BONE.

    Carpal bone of the wrist, located near the base of the the thumb. 46d [Like our thumbs] OPPOSABLE

  • 57a [Tear] RENTMerriam-Webster indicates this is exclusively the past and past participle of rend, whereas tear is a present-tense construction.
  • Word of the day: 121a [Rushes back and forth] DARTLES.

Solved once; call me in the morning.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150717

LA Times

It’s the week of the Open, golf’s premier event, and today’s puzzle is tied together by NINEHOLES: a [Quick round…]. Nine other short answers fit their clues when HOLE is inserted at their end. It’s a clever conceit, but one that translates into a somewhat repetitive solving experience. To recap there’s: PORT(HOLE), SCREW(HOLE) ??, WORM(HOLE), LOOP(HOLE), BLACK(HOLE), BLOW(HOLE), SINK(HOLE), WATER(HOLE), and PEEP(HOLE). The puzzle’s shape has atypical left-right symmetry to accommodate this theme arrangement.

[“Pure, stripped down” genre, per Tommy Ramone], PUNKROCK is the pick of the non-theme answers, and is nicely clued to boot. What’s the difference between “pure, stripped down” and “boring, one-note” again? (I listen to a lot of punk rock). Another musical clue is [“Terribly strange” age in Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends”]. Refresher! I went the wrong way and put TOOHOT for [Goldilocks complaint] before TOOBIG. Unknowns were well-spaced: [Stadium in St. Pete, with “The”], TROP – I don’t want to know what that’s short for! And [Big name in air conditioning], TRANE.

3.5 Stars

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29 Responses to Friday, July 17, 2015

  1. sbmanion says:

    I had BBL for unit of volume, which held me up for a while. I started very quickly in the NW, but then slowed to a crawl after that. I thought it was fun.

    I thought TED referred to the movie, so you can imagine my first thought after I had BIG in place.


  2. huda says:

    NYT: Yeah, lots of fun stuff. Even UNIFORM made me chuckle as clued. I had to wear a uniform for 12 years, navy with white collar and cuffs (those cuffs were not easy to keep white!). I swore that I would never wear navy again and went without for a couple of decades. But now, I love it.
    I too wanted to stuff Woolgatherer in there…
    Interesting collection of characters and dress styles in the puzzle—the one in UNIFORM was keeping company with the MASKED one, the one in the APE SUIT and the STREAKER, who hopefully grabbed a SERAPE, before hanging out with the KAHUNA, the BIGAMIST, ASNER, MAGELLAN and WALTER MITTY. Quite the party…

    • Jamie says:

      Haha. Those Catholic school uniforms are readily available on Land’s End, and trust me, they come in a suspicious variety of sizes. Don’t ask me how I know this.

  3. JFC says:

    Paolo Pasco is all I need to know this puzzle is good and, even if it isn’t, it should be (but I’ve worked enough to know it is). I love that name as much as Patton loves war. He’s 15 and the future of the NYT XWP!

  4. Zulema says:

    Don’t understand REAL for “e” as opposed to “i.” 15?!

    • Martin from C. says:

      Yeah, I had to get 45A [Like e, but not i] through the crosses.

      The math constant “e” is about 2.71828 and is a REAL number used as the base for natural logarithms. The math term “i” refers to an imaginary number.

      Wikipedia, in the entry for “imaginary number,” claims that zero is both real and imaginary.

    • Syntactic Milieu says:

      Award for worst clue of the year is over.

      • Gary R says:

        Well – maybe if you didn’t make it past 8th grade math. Otherwise, it’s sort of clever.

        • Norm says:

          I would have preferred “Irascible federal judge in Los Angeles often reversed and rebuked by the appellate court” or even “Camino ____” I thought the clue was rather mean. And I was a math major in a former life. A teenager’s revenge? At least the crosses were fair.

      • Jamie says:

        I agree. That clue was just awful, and I have indeed made it well beyond 8th-grade maths.

        • Gary R says:


          I don’t understand – why was it “awful?” It was challenging, but it’s factually correct, and the way the clue was phrased made it entertaining/clever to me.

          It’s one of those clues/answers that requires more than just an understanding of the language and/or pop culture – which I enjoy. And, after all, a Friday.

          • Jamie says:

            It’s something only a math geek would know. I know that math geeks and musicians figure heavily in the constructor world, but to me it is not even remotely accessible or gettable. It’s whargarble to those of us who live outside of those exalted fields.

            When Martin explains the clue and I still don’t even know what he’s talking about, the clue/answer is the problem.

          • Gary R says:

            “When Martin explains the clue and I still don’t even know what he’s talking about, the clue/answer is the problem.”

            Oh, now I understand – my mistake.

  5. Zulema says:

    Well, I don’t feel bad that I didn’t understand it. Thank you. It worked out. Very good puzzle, wonderful long entries.

    • Jamie says:

      I agree, despite my quibbles about a certain maths-related clue. I thought is was a very high-quality puzzle and I enjoyed solving it. I gave it a 4.5, which is really my highest ranking. “Just short of mind-blowing superb.”

      I can’t believe a 15-y-o constructed this. Kudos.

  6. CY Hollander says:

    NYT played like a Tuesday-Wednesday for me today, although I did have a slight hiccup in the top right, where I initially had wHiP for CHAP and tArOS for SAGOS (I get my starchy plants confused sometimes).

    Had to get BEL from crosses, but seeing Amy’s explanation, I realize I should have been able to figure that one out.

  7. Papa John says:

    I was out of town, yesterday, so I wasn’t able to response to Jamie’s “odious” question about Nana. Yes, Jamie, people do use this moniker. Our four grandchildren call my wife Nana or Nanny. What do you find odious about it? It’s an endearing term, certainly not hateful or repellent.

    Today’s NYT didn’t do much for me. It’s a solid puzzle, a bit on the easy side for an end-of-week offering, with no stand-out clues. Most of them were pretty straight forward. Amy, dive-bombing the Simpson cartoon rather than classic Greek mythology, is indicative of the direction crossword puzzles have taken. Pop culture trumps high culture, these days, but not in this case. The use of the Hellenic ATHENE, as opposed to ATHENA, was a nice touch.

    • Syntactic Milieu says:

      High culture has been known to cause vertigo and heavy projectile vomiting.

    • Jamie says:

      My question was about why QE2 is listed as nana in the BEQ, when she’s the great-grandmother, not the grandmother.

      Sorry-not-sorry if you found my questioning of the use of the word Nana odious. I honestly thought Nana was a made-up thing. Where I come from, your mother’s mother is typically referred to as grandmother or grandma. Apparently, Nana happens. I wasn’t aware.

      Hey – my oldest sis just became a grandparent for the first time. She is overjoyed. She clearly loves her adorable granddaughter, and in the end, would probably love her if the kid called her by a really bad word. Congrats on your grandkids, and I didn’t mean to deride anybody but Mr. Quigley for an incorrect clue. Unless a great-grandmother can also be called a Nana, in which case I can only say, WTF?

  8. Papa John says:

    On the other hand, the LAT was thoroughly enjoyable. The subtle golf reference was slick. The grid construction was superb. When the top row became suspicious, my usual ploy of leaping ahead to find the revealer was foiled by its grid position. When I did, finally, discover it, I chuckled at the simplicity of the theme and the clever way it was revealed – definitely a hole in one.

  9. David L says:

    Generally a nice puzzle, although IMIT next to CANIT was inelegant, and DIGSIN and ALLIN were a touch repetitious.

    I don’t quite understand NAGGED for “Ate away (at).” Someone can be eaten away (or eaten up) by jealousy, for example, but I don’t see how you can be eaten away by nagging.

    Also, with clues of this sort, is the word in brackets supposed to go with clue or with the answer? Is the idea that ‘nagged at’ is supposed to be equivalent to ‘ate away’? Because that doesn’t work for me.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “I know there’s something I need to do but I can’t remember what it is. It’s nagging at me.” That sort of “eating away at.”

      • David L says:

        Oh, I see. But still, I would say there’s a huge difference in magnitude between ‘nagging at’ and ‘eating away.’ The former is a nuisance, the latter is driving you to run down the street screaming.

    • pannonica says:

      The parenthetical addition is applicable to both clue and answer, demonstrating their parallel equivalence. It’s necessarily included to demonstrate the sense intended.

  10. Joyce says:

    FYI – the CS puzzle posted is the for the day before.

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