Thursday, July 30, 2015

NYT  timeless (PuzzleGirl) 
Fireball  17:25 (Derek) 
LAT  4:53 (Gareth) 
CS  10:01 (Ade) 
BEQ  6:31 (Ben) 

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword

NYT Solution 07.30.15Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here with your Thursday NYT. You’ll be seeing me on Thursdays for the next several weeks. Let’s just make the best of it, shall we?

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I haven’t been solving much, so I’m a little rusty. And that means this was a struggle. In the end, though, I really felt like I had accomplished something. You guys probably breezed right through it, but I’m not going to let that bother me.

So, the theme is “Little Women”! Awesome! When I got down to the reveal (45D: Creator of the characters added in 17-, 28-, 44- and 57-Across), I had the A, but I had SAP instead of SOT for [61A: Rummy], so I thought the creator was going to be AL CAPP. I’m all, “So he’s adding LI’L ABNER, DAISY MAE and SADIE HAWKINS into familiar phrases? Well, that should be interesting.” But, no. The creator is Louisa May ALCOTT and the characters added are the four March sisters. Like so:

  • 17A: Hardy brown spice? [TOUGH NUTMEG]
  • 28A: Company that will get you a second spouse? [BIGAMY BUSINESS]
  • 44A: Extremely tacky production of a Shakespeare play? [MACBETH ‘N’ CHEESE]
  • 57A: Country instrument played by a migrant? [TRAVEL BANJO]

So, I struggled pretty much all over the place. Luckily, there were a few gimmes here and there. I knew [10D: TV news host Melissa HARRIS-Perry] right off the bat. Also [43A: Lexington’s RUPP Arena]. And PABST [48D: “The way beer was meant to be” sloganeer, once]. Those made me feel smart. The toughest part of the puzzle for me was the northwest corner. Admit it, you wanted [3D: Downright homely] to be BUTT UGLY, didn’t you? Same!

I didn’t love LANATE [37D: Woolly] or JAM-UPS [7D: Printing problems], but they were redeemed by GUESS NOT [38D: “Looks like I was wrong”]. I had to laugh at USABLE [18D: Worth keeping]. I’m reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and, I tell you what. Usability is not the standard in this particular de-cluttering program. No, the only things worth keeping are those things that bring you joy. As you can imagine, 16-year-old PuzzleSon is thrilled that the family is going through this process. (Him: “It all brings me joy, Mom! Every single thing in my room!” Me: “No, you need to physically hold each one of your bobble-heads and really let it speak to you before you decide.” Him: “MOM!”)

Would love to hear your take on the puzzle. See you in the comments.

Victor Barocas’s Fireball crossword, “Origami” – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 9.55.44 PMSubstituting for Amy on this week’s Fireball crossword, which incidentally happens to be the last one until September 2, according to my email. The puzzle is entitled “Origami,” suggesting some cruel gimmick in store. It did not disappoint. The theme answers all had a word that stands for a type of paper actually “folded” in the grid over itself. Hopefully you can see in the grid image what is going on. The words double back over themselves, and the opposing down answers use both letters in their answer words. The theme answers are:

  • 19A [Plan B, as for a negotiator] FALL BACK POSITION
  • 28A [Plastic surgeon’s concern] SCAR TISSUE
  • 40A [Cause for alarm] CARBON MONOXIDE
  • 52A [“Coming soon”] UNDER CONSTRUCTION
  • 66A [What the Twenty-second Amendment defines for the office of the president] TERM LIMIT
  • 78A [Origami (and a hint to this puzzle’s theme)] PAPER FOLDING

So the puns involve the phrases POSITION paper, TISSUE paper, CARBON paper, CONSTRUCTION paper, and TERM paper. I am not familiar with POSITION paper, but I’m sure its used in legal or political matters to state your position on a topic. (I just looked it up, and I assumed correctly!) Since I was unfamiliar with the term, that upper middle section fell last for me. My time was slow, but that was mainly because of having to fill in multiple letters in several squares, which is clunky in Across Lite for Mac. A typical challenging, tough Fireball puzzle, and a nice way to go into its short hiatus. 4.5 stars.

A few notes:

  • 16A [Robert Pattinson film based on a Guy de Maupassant novel whose title means “handsome friend”] BEL AMI – Seems to have a decent cast, but not great reviews. Pattinson doesn’t seem to be in too many flicks; too busy making rancid Twilight movies, I suppose!
  • 48A [Stringed instrument of the Middle East] OUD – Ouch. Couldn’t the U be changed to something else? OED and IED? At least IUD was a gimme!
  • 1D [Comedy programme that debuted in 1992, briefly] AB FAB – As in Absolutely Fabulous, a funny Brit-com I used to watch. Nice clue in the spelling of programme!
  • 3D [UConn basketball head coach Kevin] OLLIE – I got this one immediately. He has actually won a national title, and yet the women’s coach there is probably much more famous! (Gene Auriemma is the women’s coach.) This was the case for years at Tennessee as well when Pat Summitt was winning like crazy.
  • 8D [Funk] HIPNESS – When I figured this out, it unlocked the section with POSITION in it. I actually had to write out PO_IT_ON to figure it out!
  • 10D [Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi expat] DESI – Is this referring to Desi Arnaz?
  • 15D [Italian sports apparel brand founded by Leonardo Servadio] ELLESSE – This line was more visible years ago when Chris Evert wore their clothing line. (I watch a LOT of tennis, always have!) Here’s a shot of her and Hana Mandlikova both wearing the brand:Chris Evert
  • 29D [John L. Lewis was its first pres.] CIO – I was thinking CSA at first! Evidently this fellow was a prominent early labor leader. Learned something new!

Again, great puzzle. Lots of fun to solve. I have subscribed to Fireball all but a couple of years they have been around. Some of the best puzzles made. Highly recommended from yours truly!

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

LA Times 150730

LA Times 150730

I initially thought the theme was going to be motivational, what with FEELUPTOIT followed by TRYSTOPPINGME. Only the latter is thematic though, with it be one of three answers with TRYST spanning two of their words. The others are ENTRYSTATUS and COUNTRYSTAR, and this is tied together by SECRETMEETING. Entries two and three are fairly mundane, but it is a feat to conceal the same five-letter word string three times.

The grid has an unusual structure, partly explained by the 13-letter revealer, which is placed, unusually, in the middle of its row. The best of the long answers for me would be SAVEASEAT, DEEPTHROAT and POLYMER.

The grid feels like it takes strain in places: NOR/ENA and RIBO in one stack. Plural surnames like NYES are contrived and should be only used in utter desperation. On the other hand the top stack with the 10 balancing atop the first theme answer is well-managed.

Closing remarks:

    • I don’t know it is about it, but the clue in [Beatle George’s Indian friend], RAVI feels awkward.
    • [Grass plot around a sundial, in “Jabberwocky”], WABE is a word that is difficult to use outside of the classic poem!
    • [X-rated stuff], SMUT. Video.

2.75 Stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “King’s Cross” — Ben’s Review

KingsCrossThis week’s BEQ Thursday cracked easy. X marks the spot! Specifically, X marks the spot in 6 places where a K used to be – creating the King’s cross the title suggests:

  • 17A: Empathetic Zebu? — FEELING OX
  • 21A: Street sign on a safari? — LION XING
  • 32A: Socal city, except even more laid back? — LOS ANGELES LAXER
  • 40A: Hussy’s stroke? — THAT TOUCH OF MINX
  • 53A: What all the Jurassic Park movies do? — STAR TREX
  • 60A: Cite the “Communist Manifesto”? — QUOTE MARX

I was too busy noticing the Xes to realize they were replacing the same letter until I started working on this week’s writeup. From a music standpoint, it’s hard to find too many “X” bands (There’s The xx, but that’s literally it for the X section of my iTunes except for some solo work by a member of the group, Jamie xx). Luckily, BEQ used the other one that came to mind for me, 29A‘s XTC, which means I get to play some Dukes of Stratosphear, their side project.

The fill on this week’s puzzle is nice – everything flowed smoothly once I figured there was an unusual number of Xes in the puzzle, although there aren’t too many clues that stick out too much. There was a lot of tripping over my own feet – it’s ROSIN, not resin, that violinists use (19A), and a “still life vessel” is just as likely to be a EWER as a vase (49A). The only David Allen _____ I’m familiar with is Grier, so I was stumped by the country singer with the last name of COE at 38A without the downs, although my similar lack of not knowing there’s such a thing as an EYECUP (25D, “ocular washing device”) delayed things further.

Overall, a nice puzzle with some interesting twists.

3.75/5 stars

Todd McClary’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Queue Tips”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.30.15: "Queue Tips"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.30.15: “Queue Tips”

Good evening, people. In Chicago for Big Ten College Football Media Days, so most of my day was spent sitting at a table waiting for college athletes and coaches to walk towards my setup on “radio row” so I can interview them. Fun times, indeed!

Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Todd McClary, takes common phrases and/or proper nouns and adds the letters “LINE” at the end of the term, creating some pin-filled zaniness.

  • {SANTA FE}LINE (17A: [Provider of a cat’s Christmas presents?])
  • {MONSTERS INC}LINE (29A: [Hillside populated with vampires and werewolves?])
  • {MACHINE MADE}LINE (46A: [Robot version of a children’s lit schoolgirl?])
  • {BUD VASE}LINE (59A: [Anheuser-Busch brand of petroleum jelly])

What an interesting intersection of answers with FUNYUNS (9D: [Ring-shaped snacks from Frito-Lay]) and SEE N’ SAY (33A: [Classic sound-effect toy]). I must not have been concentrating on what the brand name was, because I’ve definitely seen the yellow bag it comes in many times before. Definitely don’t need a reminder of OCHRE and other autumn colors since fall is pretty much right around the corner (35D: [Autumn color]). Usually, I always mark the end of the business end of summer when the US OPEN gets underway in late August (27A: [Tennis tournament in Queens, NY]). Wish I could write more about the grid, but am running on fumes and need to just head to the next graph…and also mention the quarterback who played his collegiate football under one of the head coaches (Urban Meyer) whom I’ve been crossing paths with again and again here at the hotel lobby.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TEBOW (34A: [Quarterback known for kneeling in prayer]) – Heeee’s baaaaaaack! After signing with the Philadelphia Eagles this past April, Tim TEBOW is back in the National Football League as a quarterback, and many believe he will make the team. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner had an up-and-down stay with the Denver Broncos, leading his team to the playoffs -and a playoff victory – after the 2011 season, but was traded to the Jets in the offseason regardless. His Jets’ career was virtually non-existent, and Tebow then joined the ESPN-owned SEC Network in December of 2013. Now, Tebow continues his fight to get back onto an NFL roster.

Have a good evening, and I’ll see you on Friday! TGIF!

Take care!


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

31 Responses to Thursday, July 30, 2015

  1. Gareth says:

    Nice to have a nod to our fearless leader on K-day, but I don’t think she’d want to be associated with either “bigamy” or be called “big amy”…

  2. klew archer says:

    A bit rusty myself. Liked this puzzle fine. Got stuck on the South Central. Wanted to put UTEP in 52down for the longest time. Must…get it together… for a crossword puzzle contest on a Saturday in August.

  3. DOOK says:

    NYT – the theme answers don’t seem consistent. Tough nutmeg – tough nut is a expression of its own (I like the “crack” in the code clue above it). MacBeth n Cheese – Well, Macbeth is name and Mac n Cheese is a name. But MacBethncheese is meaningless. Bigamy business – this one just inserts the name AMY between a phrase “big business” but is meaningless as a whole. Travel ban/jo – this one works pretty much as the first. The fill is full of things that would set off Amy’s scowlometer. I didn’t think this one was pretty. 2 stars.

  4. Huda says:

    PG: That book: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is the most inadvertently hilarious book I’ve ever read. And I’m one who posted about the beauty of orderliness in the last few days. But it still gets under your skin and makes you toss a ton of stuff out. Pretty amazing.

    I too thought AL CAPP at one point and struggled with some of the intersecting unknown names. But wound up liking the concept of the Little Women inserting themselves in strategic spots and transforming their meaning.

  5. David L says:

    This is a good example of why I don’t generally care for BEQ’s puzzles. The theme began with a nice idea but (as DOOK says above) the execution was inconsistent, to say the least. And then there are the BEQ trademarks — crazy number of proper names, a couple of fancy words (MACRON, LANATE) for showing-off purposes, and the dubious JAMUPS.

    Didn’t help that I DNF: I had HEED crossing with VAD, and although I thought VAD was a pretty unlikely name, I also thought, hey, he’s an obscure cartoonist in a BEQ puzzle, so why not?

  6. Zulema says:

    Don’t want to forget Amy today and wish her the best.

  7. Martin says:

    Re the BEQ BEQ (as opposed to the NYT BEQ): what’s a “soft A” in English? I get hard and soft consonants and long and short vowels. I’ve never seen hard or soft vowel. Is it understood to be another way of saying long or short?

    Russian has hard and soft vowels, but they determine whether the preceding consonant is hard or soft. There’s nothing like that in English.

  8. David Levinson Wilk says:

    For years, whenever I’ve had the chance, I’ve turned to this site for the hugely satisfying experience of reading Amy’s brilliant commentary about the New York Times crossword. Though I normally check this site religiously, Amy’s kidney transplant was unknown to me until this morning. I wanted to publicly send — this is my first post here — best wishes for an uneventful surgery and speedy recovery.

    To best illustrate the genius of Amy Reynaldo — there is perhaps no one else who better sees, as she does, the beauty in crosswords and there is perhaps no one else who better understands that perfect beauty demands intelligence — I’ll quote her. In the comments section from the 6/26/2015 post (not the write-up — the comments section!), Amy tackles the appearance of MANSPLAIN as an answer in that day’s NYT puzzle and a clue about “career women” getting a chance to HAVEITALL. On MANSPLAIN, Amy notes that it is “a word that punches up, not down. It’s an important distinction in gendered language, racial terms, humor, and other forms of language.”

    On HAVEITALL, which was given the clue “What many career women strive to do,” Amy’s response was this: “’Career women’ is a not-punching-up term that posits woman = one without a career, and a woman who has a career/job requires a qualifying term. Whereas ‘career man’ is hardly a thing at all, because the default is man = man with a job. The default is that men can have it all—job and family—because there’s someone at home holding down the fort so he doesn’t have to do much childcare or housework.”

    I’m in awe of this commentary. It’s clear. It’s smart. It pops. And it’s 100% correct. Few have the words, tone and breadth of knowledge required to write the above. I know I don’t.

    Miss you, Amy. Hope you get good rest.

    (Also: BEQ = GOD)

  9. PuzzleGirl says:

    Dook: I don’t understand your complaint. The theme answers are all familiar phrases (tough nut, big business, mac ‘n’ cheese, travel ban). The Little Women characters’ names (Meg, Amy, Beth, Jo) are added to the phrases to create new wacky phrases. How is that inconsistent? It’s a pretty common theme concept.

    • David L says:

      Dook can speak for him/herself, of course. What I disliked was that TOUGHNUTMEG and TRAVELBANJO are wacky but could refer to plausible things, while BIGAMYBUSINESS and especially MACBETHNCHEESE are wacky but quite implausible.

      • Norm says:

        Isn’t BIGAMYBUSINESS that website that got hacked last week? And, I figured MACBETHNCHEESE would be an signature entree at an Edinburgh eatery. I actually didn;t really like TRAVELBANJO that much, since my grammar nerd wanted TRAVELING but then I’m old enough to remember when Travelin’ Man was a hit.

      • Syntactic Milieu says:

        Tough Nutmeg was the leather jacket wearing bassist for the Spice Girls.

    • Papa John says:

      Why has no one commented on the preponderance of females in the theme answers?

  10. Adam N. says:

    BEQ: X bands:

    the xx
    X Ambassadors

    That’s all I can think of

    • Flinty Steve says:

      Let’s not forget those LA post-punk geniuses, X!

    • Chris says:

      X Japan is the first (and last) band that springs to mind for me.

      (edit, given the above comment: the Japan part of their name comes from a conflict with the aforementioned X, who I guess I could have cited, had I known anything else about them)

  11. Tracy B says:

    I’m thinking of you, Amy! Sending excellent transplant vibes.

  12. McSphere says:

    My only complaint with the NYT BEQ was that I think you can make a case for 61-across to be “SET,” as in one of the possible outs in a game of gin rummy…and since I have never heard the word MACRON, I had no way of knowing it was incorrect. But I thought the theme was nifty and enjoyed the solve overall…

  13. Jenni Levy says:

    I didn’t see anyone respond to Derek’s comment about “desi”, so now I’m thinking maybe he was joking and I didn’t get it…just in case he was serious, “desi” is a term for people from the Indian subcontinent. I don’t know if it’s also used for people who have not emigrated.

    I really liked both the NYT and Fireball. MACBETHNCHEESE was the last to fall for me in the NYT because I don’t think of it as mac ‘n’ cheese; in my head it’s “mac and cheese” or “mac&cheese” so I was trying to make it a rebus, or something. Since LANATE is completely new to me, that was no help. When it finally tumbled, I really felt like I’d done something.

    I was even more proud of myself for figuring out the gimmick to the Fireball – and I totally missed the “types of paper” part until I came here. Great puzzle. One of my recent favorites.

    Thinking of Amy and her husband and family and the rest of the people involved in this amazing process.

    • janie says:

      dittoing *everything* here — from the nyt to the fireball to those amy-and-rene-directed thoughts. bravi to the constructors; wishes for successful recoveries to the reynaldos!


    • Derek Allen says:

      I WAS serious, Jenni; didn’t know DESI was a word. Turns out its in my unabridged dictionary! Thanks for the explanation. I knew Desi Arnaz was Cuban, but still…..!

      • Judith Speer says:

        I had never seen the word either and today it was in both the Fireball and BEQ website puzzle. Who knew?

  14. JohnV says:

    Re LAT thought the 10s at 17 & 57 a were awkward, confusing. Putting a 10 in row 3, on the left looks like a theme slot. Gives the grid a serious ding, in my book.

  15. Jim Hale says:

    Best wishes Amy, for a quick and successful time at the hospital.

    As for the puzzle, never read Little Women so had no help there, but thought the puzzle was entertaining though tough.

Comments are closed.