Wednesday, July 29, 2015

NYT  timeless (Doug) 
AV Club  5:14 (Ben) 
LAT  3:49 (Gareth) 
CS  8:18 (Ade) 

David J. Lieb’s New York Times crossword

NY Times - 7/29/15 solution

NY Times – 7/29/15 solution

Howdy, crossword fans. Doug here. I’ll be your Wednesday NY Times blogger for a few weeks. I meant to time myself today, but of course I forgot to time myself, because I never time myself. Maybe next week. Stay tuned!

We’re in the heart of baseball season, so of course we get a basketball theme today. In fact, I misread the revealer clue and thought I was looking for a “statistical achievement in baseball.” Maybe I had baseball on the brain because I know Amy loves her some baseball clues and themes.

  • 65a, [Statistical achievement in basketball … or what the answer to each starred clue is], DOUBLE DOUBLE. A double double occurs when a player racks up a double-digit total in two of five statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots. Most double doubles are of the points & rebounds variety. And of course the best variety of Double-Double is sold at In-N-Out Burger.

double-doubleOK, so we have a both-words-can-follow-a-word theme, a type that’s become fairly common. These types of themes live or die on the freshness and fun of the followy phrases. So let’s take a look.

  • 18a, [*It’s divided into four zones in the contiguous U.S. states], STANDARD TIME. Double standard, double time. That’s a nice theme entry, though the clue is a little clunky. “U.S. States”?
  • 27a, [*Coup d’etat, e.g.], TAKEOVER. Double take, double over.
  • 33a, [*Incidental chatter], CROSSTALK. Double cross, double talk. Fun entry.
  • 47a, [*Handouts to theatergoers], PLAYBILLS. Double play, double bills. Double play! I knew this puzzle had something to do with baseball.
  • 53a, [*Make retroactive], BACKDATE. Double back, double date.

spookyThe 8-letter answers aren’t that exciting, but I like the other three. And I appreciate seeing six theme answers and not much dreck in the grid. The worst entry is probably ESTAB or AN OUT, and there are some great entries too: DRAGONS, GOLDEN BOY, SPOOKY.

  • 73a, [Half of the letters in this answer’s row], ESSES. This clue tripped me out, because I knew there were 13 letters in that bottom row. So how are 6.5 of them ESSES? It took me way too long to figure out that this is a 16-wide grid.
  • 66d, [Word repeated in “___ in, ___ out”], DAY. That’s the crossword blogger’s life: write up those puzzles day in, day out. I don’t know how Amy does it. I’m already worn out with my one day a week.
  • 30a, [What a line drive lacks], ARC. Baseball again! That’s gotta be the meta.

Solid Wednesday puzzle. Peterson out.



Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ford Ev’ry Stream”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.28.15: "Ford Ev'ry Stream"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.28.15: “Ford Ev’ry Stream”

Peterson out, Koiki in! Oh, I’m usually the CS/WaPo blogger, anyways. Oops! Anyways, today’s crossword puzzle hits a nerve, in a positive way, because I happen to own and drive a Ford. In the grid, produced by Ms. Donna S. Levin, each of the four theme answers are two-word entries in which the first word is also a Ford model. Here’s a pretty tough bonus theme answer for you all…

Clue: Disney super villain introduced in the first two episodes of “Darkwing Duck.” 

Answer: TAURUS BULBA. (Oh, and I own a 2001 black Ford Taurus.) How many people on here were familiar with The Disney Afternoon in the early 1990s?

  • FIESTA BOWL (18A: [Postseason college football game played in Arizona])
  • FUSION ENGINE (26A: [Reactor for a trip to Mars, perhaps])
  • ESCAPE CLAUSE (47A: [Way out of a contract])
  • FOCUS GROUP (60A: [Market researcher’s feedback providers])

I didn’t read too much of the Garfield comic strips, as compared to the animated cartoon in the early 1990s on CBS, so I’m not 100 percent sure if his appetite for LASAGNA was as ravenous in the strips as it was in the made-for-TV cartoon (46D: [Pasta dish favored by Garfield]). The food references don’t stop there, with RIBEYES (10D: [Steak house offerings]), EGG (36A: [Embarrassing thing to have on one’s face?]) and PALM OIL are also featured today (4D: [Highly saturated vegetable fat]). If any veterans out there want to share an experience or two from their times at VFW HALLS, you definitely can share it here (56A: [Meeting places where former GIs can reminisce about the big one]). Can only imagine all of the interesting stories that are told back and forth to fellow veterans. Oh, and it’s pretty good fill in a crossword, too. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROUX (2D: [Butter-and-flour thickener for sauce]) – Although he never was a highly-ranked tennis player of any real renown, I always remember Lionel ROUX, former tennis player on the ATP Tour. Roux once reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 1998, and once reached a career-high of World No. 48 in 1995. Other than that, he had a nondescript professional career. But I remember you, Lionel Roux! Hope that counts for something!

Keep the well-wishes to Amy coming! Though unrelated to her procedure, I’ll be in Chicago tomorrow and will be blogging from the Windy City for the next three days. It will be good to be back at that toddlin’ town, for sure!

Take care!


Ben Tausig’s AVCX crossword, “Lead Council” — Ben’s Review


Hi everyone! I’m going to be your substitute AV Club reviewer while Amy’s out for surgery and recovery.

The AV Club is one of my favorite weekly crosswords – there’s enough of a pop-culture bent that I have more of a foothold than I tend to have with the NYT (see also: BEQ’s Thursdays, which I cover here). Plus there’s a bunch of jokes and meta references in the clues, which is right up there with Indie Electro-Pop Groups and Movies Featuring Dystopian Futures As Imagined In The 80s with things I like a lot. Anyways, enough about me, onto this week’s puzzle.

This week Ben Tausig has some advice for us in the form of the four theme entries. As suggested by 37A, these are just any how-tos – they’re PRO TIPS. Accordingly, the answer to each suggestion is a common phrase with PRO added to the front:

  • 20A: TSA agent: “Be extra cautious with restaurant workers” – PROFILE SERVERS
  • 25A: Relationship guru: “Bare more than your soul when you pop the question” – PROPOSE NAKED
  • 45A: Media watchdog: “Rumor has it there’s funny business at a certain celebrity gossip magazine — I would follow up” – PROBE IN TOUCH
  • 52A: Fire safety advocate: “Get out in the streets if you want to show that lighters are safer than the alternative” – PROTEST MATCHES

I think my favorite of the “pro” tips this time around was 25A – I didn’t immediately figure out the phrase until all the corresponding down clues are done, so it legitimately got a chuckle out of me once solved. Similarly, I somehow didn’t get ASSES as an answer for 32A‘s “They may be shaken, but are rarely stirred, at the bar” without the downs. Other entries I liked were 10D (FANVIDS, “Amateur clips synced to major label tracks, say”), 39D (PAN, entirely for the fantastic clue “Omelet-maker’s need, unless you boil your omelets or cooke them in the toaster I suppose”), and 46D‘s OH SNAP (“Ya burnt!).

Overall, this was a nice theme with some nice entries. I may be warming up on reviewing these, but I’m going to be generous and give this one a 4/5.

Ian Livengood’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150729

LA Times

I must be missing something with this theme. The revealer is AIRTIME. For the moment all I can see is that the first parts are all things that travel through the air. A jet (JETMAGAZINE) and a rocket (ROCKETSCIENCE) are aircraft. A cannonball (CANNONBALLRUN) can be shot through the air. A pop-up (POPUPWINDOW) is a baseball shot in which the baseball goes through the air. That seems very vague and loose to me; there must be more to it!

As always, Ian gives us a smorgasbord of good longer non-theme answers: PRINCETON, LADIESMEN, COWTOWN, ALANHALE and LLBEAN. I’ve not heard of Mr. Hale, but he seems culturally notable, plus it’s a full name, which always counts for something.

[Dissatisfied diner’s decision], NOTIP. Can we abolish tips and have waiters just get paid decent salaries like other jobs? I don’t require enticement in the form of a tip to provide service; why can’t pride in work and fear of being fired be enough like for the rest of us? Everyone wins. Waiters get an assured income. Diners don’t have to go through all that social anxiety malarkey. This has been your rant of the day.

[Nursery intruder], WEED. Clue of the day.

The rest of the puzzle was excellent, but I’m not sure about the theme. I will abstain from a rating until I find out what if anything I’ve missed about the theme.


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14 Responses to Wednesday, July 29, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: quick solve but it took a while for the theme to emerge for me. Must be that NOOGIE… my favorite entry in the puzzle.
    Never heard of DOUBLE DOUBLE either in basketball or burgers. I need to get out more…

  2. pannonica says:

    ESTAB – when you attack someone on-line.

    Line drive clue needs an “apparently”.

  3. Norm says:

    AV: I 44D the * in the clue for 62A !

  4. sbmanion says:

    One of the legendary statistical accomplishments belongs to Oscar Robertson, who averaged a triple double for an entire NBA season.I know that David Robinson is one of the few who has had a quadruple double. No one in the NBA has had a quintuple double

  5. David Lieb says:

    Thanks for the nice writeup, Doug. Will and team improved the puzzle quite a bit, but the clue for STANDARD TIME was one of the few where I liked my clue more: “It starts when you fall back.”

    • Evan says:

      In a vacuum I would like that clue more, but that would have also repeated the word “back” from BACKTALK.

      (I realize editors and others have chimed in recently about answer/clue repeats, but even if people don’t normally care about them, I think one from a theme answer would be tougher to ignore.)

    • pannonica says:

      Wynton Marsalis has released six albums under the rubric of Standard Time, but the most recent were in 1999.

  6. Rob says:

    Can someone explain the connection between “gam” and cheesecake?

  7. DJ says:

    Will must have some huge backlog of “words that can follow word” puzzles, because I’ve had two rejected because they supposedly don’t need any more of those types of puzzles.

  8. DJH says:

    I think you’re right, Gareth, that the theme has to do with things that fly through the air…i.e., they all have “air-time.” That didn’t occur to me, though, until I read your analysis. I got hung up on a relationship to “sponsor.”

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