Tuesday, August 4, 2015

NYT 2:45 (Andy) 
Jonesin' 5:55 (Derek) 
LAT 3:20 (Derek) 
CS 11:34 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword

NYT Puzzle 08.04.15 by Joel Fagliano

NYT Puzzle 08.04.15 by Joel Fagliano

Andy here again, back on the Tuesday beat. Today, Joel Fagliano reminds us that it’s always five o’clock somewhere:

  • 21a, FIFTH AVENUE [Fashionable shopping area in New York City]. Also a delicious candy bar!
  • 26a, SIX-PACK ABS [Goal of one doing crunches]. #NotAllOnesDoingCrunches. My goal is just to work off all those 5th Avenue bars. 
  • 45a, CASE CLOSED [“End of discussion”]. As in, “Can I have a bite of that 5th Avenue?” “No, case closed.
  • 52a, LIQUOR STORE [Where to purchase the starts of 21-, 26-, and 45-Across]. I hear some liquor stores also sell candy bars…

Mmm… Saks Fifth Avenue…

I have to admit I had no idea what the theme was until the revealer, but this is really nice: a fifth, a six-pack, and a case are all units alcohol is sold in. A well-executed Tuesday theme: lively phrases, tight connection, no-muss-no-fuss.

Let’s have a look at some other interesting stuff in this puzzle, shall we?

  • 3d, SPACEX [Private sector rocket launcher]. SpaceX was founded by PayPal/Tesla Motors guru Elon Musk, and is the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. Also, it’s a nice alternative to SPACED, SPACER, SPACES, SPACEK, and SPACEY.
  • 5d, COMIC-CON [Yearly gathering for superhero fans]. Somewhat timely, since the biggest Comic-Con (in San Diego) was held about a month ago. Supervillain fans also welcome.
  • That poor tauntaun.

    That poor tauntaun.

    In case you were worried there wasn’t enough Nerd Culture in this puzzle, we also get 7d, HOTH [Ice planet in “The Empire Strikes Back”]. 

  • Low word count for a Tuesday (74), aided by a couple of stacks in the NE and SW. Some really nice stuff in there, including 11d, PIANO MAN [1974 hit that begins “It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday”] and 35d, LISTICLE [“21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity,” e.g.].
  • The NYT can get away with having a little NY-centric content, including 49a, TIOGA [New York county bordering Pennsylvania]. Crossings are all totally fair.

Did I forget to mention we also get WET-NAP, NABOB, EROICA, IODINE, and DENNY’S (which, by the way, has a top notch social media team)? Oh, and AMOS clued as [Lee with the 2011 #1 album “Mission Bell”]. This fill is So Fresh, So Clean-ISTS, ANS., and maybe AMICA are the lowlights. That’s really it. The clues are easy but not boring (see, e.g., 1d, LASSOS [Gets in the loop?]). As they say at McDonald’s in Germany, ich liebe es.

Until next time!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Dual Roles” – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 9.07.30 AMThe blurb says “we’re going to name names.” And that is what the theme is: Famous people’s names with one of the names doubled up and clued in a funny way. A bit campy, but I smiled while solving. Here are the theme entries:

  • 19A [Dude who’s extremely chummy?] BUDDY-BUDDY GUY
  • 31A [Make actress Sobieski’s hair stick straight out?] SPIKE LEELEE
  • 40A [Me playing some hand drums?] TOM TOM JONES
  • 50A [Toy train enthusiast?] JIMMY CHOO-CHOO

I like it. Took a minute to grow on me. Puzzle not too hard; I actually finished at 1D [“We’re not sure yet,” on a schedule] TBD. I had TBA! Some of my faves:

    • 16A [It’s called for claims] DIBS – Obviously I had AIBS mistakenly.  If you have children, then you know all about calling “dibs” for the front seat!
    • 26A [“Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” star Jim] NABORS – Also famous for singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the Indy 500 from 1972 up until last year. I also watched Gomer Pyle a lot when I was young.  (I’m not THAT old; it was in syndication!)

    • 3D [Bazooka insert] BUBBLE GUM – I got fooled here; I was thinking some sort of ammunition! What I remember about Bazooka bubble gum, other than the Bazooka Joe comics? It wasn’t very good bubble gum!
    • 7D [Spud of NBA fame] WEBB – Slam dunk champ from 1986, famous mostly because he is all of 5’7″! Here’s a clip:

    • 9D [Reached 65, in some places] SPED – I get the clue, but 65 is almost too slow on a lot of interstates.
    • 33D [They may be written to your schmoopy] LOVE POEMS – I had LOVE NOTES at first.  Is schmoopy a word? ;-)
    • 42D [Green heard in “Family Guy”] SETH – This was tricky also, at first.  But I do remember that he is a regular on that show.  Is his most famous role likely in the Austin Powers movies as Dr. Evil’s son? It is to me!
    • 50D [“The Gong Show” panelist ___ P. Morgan] JAYE – Now THIS clue made me smile! This takes me back to my younger days, as well! This show was insanely silly, and I loved every minute of it! How about more video:

Another fun puzzle! 3.5 stars.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 218), “Special Ops”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 8/4 (No. 218)

Crossword Nation 8/4 (No. 218)

The name’s the same, but the gimmick has changed. Five weeks ago, Liz gave us another puzzle with a “Special Ops” title. It was true then, and it’s true now: “The “special ops” of title does not refer to the military’s special forces, but tips us off to the gimmick in the themers.” Back in June, this was a letter-change theme. Today (August already?!), we get five two-word phrases (all clued in a straight-forward way), the first word of which begins with “O,” the second with “P.” While this doesn’t make for the specialest [sic] of theme sets, it’s quite solid. Just not overly sparkly. It’s a tried and true gimmick that beginning solvers should become acquainted with. And, I venture to say, the remaining fill and clues certainly do their share in keeping things lively. But let me GO TO IT [Begin immediately] with “:ops” first.

  • 17A. ORANGE PEEL [Garnish for a Manhattan]. And maybe a little shout-out to the fabulous Fiend herself a/k/a Orange? Yeah. Works fer me. [If you’re reading is, hope you’re recuperating well and comfortably, Amy!]
  • 25A. OBOE PART [The duck, in Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”]. A most plaintive line of music if ever there was one (at 0:32). And, oh, me of little faith, thinking that OBOE LINE was more “in the language” than OBOE PART. Wrong again, Jane…
  • 37A. OPENING PRAYER [Start of a service].
  • 50A. “OH, PLEASE!” [“Gimme a break!”]. Wonderful in its own right, and the best of the lot.
  • 61A. OLIVIA POPE [She’s “The Fixer” on TV’s “Scandal”]. Haven’t watched. But this is the role for which Kerry Washington has received so many high-profile industry awards and nominations.

So while I’m not IN LOVE with the themers, I like ’em quite a bit—though, even more, I love seeing IN LOVE in my puzz. Especially when it’s clued with [Moonstruck]. Other happy-making puzzle moments came from: the lengthy verticals BELT LOOPS and ROLE PLAYS [Acts out, in therapy]; seeing SALOON clued as a [Cowboy’s hangout] and being reminded that SANKA is a [No-buzz coffee brand]. The name, saith Wiki (citing the OED [where so many entries are DEFS]), derives from the French words sans caféine (“without caffeine”).

FLATLY [In no uncertain terms], I love seeing CHAOS in the puzzle, and contemplating the image produced by [Fall into a chair] for PLOP or the feeling of SALTY sea air on my face, or the sight of Fra Angelico’s HALOED Mary. But my fave clue/fill combos today? Those would be [Napoleon’s rich relative?] for the tasty ECLAIR (and not, say, his great-grandson Oscar II of Sweden…) and the too, too polite (and very funny) [Let the air out?] for BURPED. (When he BURPED at the dinner table, my grandfather was often heard to exclaim, “My shoes’re too tight!”) [Déjà vu all over again? I think I may have mentioned this in some other write-up…]

I don’t think of SCOTCH as a [Tape variety], but as a tape brand. Masking, cellophane, duct. Those are “varieties” in my book; SCOTCH is a variety of whiskey, no? And how long did it take you to realized that the “queen” of [Queen’s subjects] was of the apian sort? Since I wasn’t familiar with [Arctic explorer John RAE], I had some trouble seeing the forest for the BEES. So to speak…

Hope you had a good solve—and will have a good week. Til next time, I leave you with this luscious image of napoleons and their rich relatives:


Give this the “OH-LA-LA!” (Thank you, Mr. Porter and Ms. Burnett… [Cole ‘n Carol, i.e.)

Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT Puzzle 08.04.15 by Greg Johnson

LAT Puzzle 08.04.15 by Greg Johnson

I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the high quality of these LA Times puzzles. This one is no different. The theme is quite neat and clever. It is indicated by the entry at 34A [Motorist’s question … and hint to the ends of 16-. 23-, 46-, and 55-Across] NEED A LIFT. All of the theme entries last words can precede LIFT.

Here they are:

  • 16A [Aid in finding a pitch] TUNING FORK
  • 23A [Foldable outdoor seat] LAWN CHAIR
  • 46A [Hard-to-read expression] POKER FACE
  • 55A [Bubba Gump company vessel] SHRIMP BOAT

We are all familiar with the phrases FORK LIFT, CHAIR LIFT, FACE LIFT, and BOAT LIFT. Nice and clean. Not familiar with this constructor, but the fill is clean, and there is nothing clunky in this grid.  Some notes:

  • 1A [Network celebrating early Hollywood] TCM – I never watch this channel.  I’m only fairly sure I have it!
  • 30A [Eponymous Hicks with an online list] ANGIE – Anybody use Angie’s List?  I know this only from the commercials.
  • 6D [Preferred way to be paid?] IN FULL – Nicely done.  This is an entry not seen much, I would assume.
  • 17D [Aegean island] IOS – A bit tougher than a reference to the iPhone operating system!
  • 21D [Want very badly] ACHE FOR – Nice again.  Great entry.
  • 36D [Like a House representative’s term] TWO-YEAR – One of my favorite entries in the grid.

This puzzle seems quite lively for a Tuesday.  Great job.  3.7 stars from me!

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Court Songs—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.04.15: "Court Songs"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.04.15: “Court Songs”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, takes us onto the hardwood to shoot some hoops, all while listening to some vintage songs on the iPod. Each of the five theme answers are titles of songs, but clued as puns that relate to basketball teams currently in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

  • THUNDER ROAD (17A: [Bruce Springsteen song about a route to the Oklahoma City arena?]) – NBA Team: Oklahoma City Thunder.
  • STRANGE MAGIC (24A: [ELO song about weird Orlando players?]) – NBA Team: Orlando Magic.
  • HEAT OF THE MOMENT (39A: [Asia song about Miami’s current roster?]) – NBA Team: Miami Heat.
  • WE THREE KINGS (51A: [Christmas carol about a trio of Sacramento players?]) – NBA Team: Sacramento Kings.
  • ALL THAT JAZZ (62A: [“Chicago” song about the whole Utah squad?]) – NBA Team: Utah Jazz.

Gotta admit that there was some pretty tough fill in this grid that I had to really fight through to make sure I got this done. Of those, the adjacent entries of BEING THERE (11D: [1979 movie in which Peter Sellers plays Chance the Gardener, a.k.a. Chauncey Gardiner]) and ISSEI were tough nuts to crack (12D: [Japanese immigrant]). Wasn’t phased too much by the odd letter arrangement that was forming for ‘issei’ when I started to fill in its intersecting entries going across. Actually guessed on the “being” part when starting to fill in that whole answer of ‘Being There.” EOSIN also was a tricky entry, but didn’t have too much trouble with that once I saw EO— appear (52D: [Red dye]). Honestly, I don’t think too many people in sports circles call a team’s substitutes the B-TEAM (6A: [Bench squad]). The term you usually hear for those players is “second string” or “second unit.” I know the Sacramento Kings’ second unit in the early 2000s was so good that they earned the nickname “The Bench Mob.” The only B-Team I really know is the one from The Benny Hill Show…

Benny Hill – The B-Team – 1601 [couchtripper] by couchtripper

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CREASE (47D: [Fold]) – For those who aren’t hockey aficionados, the CREASE is the darkened blue area of the ice around the net where goaltenders reside. In lacrosse, it’s the area encircling the net where goaltenders reside and players on the other team can’t enter until the ball enters first. For a couple of years, the same type of rule applied on hockey, where no attacking player could have his skate inside the crease before the puck entered that area. I can speak for every hockey fan out there that thank goodness that rule no longer exists! (Although, I just saw a video about why the Dallas Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup-winning goal by Brett Hull was indeed a good goal, even though his foot was in the crease and the puck was not when put in the winner. Buffalo Sabres fan probably don’t want me to post that video, so I’ll let those people find it themselves.)

See you on the top of the hump for Wednesday!

Take care!


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8 Responses to Tuesday, August 4, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Yes, good theme, good execution. I’ll drink to that.
    And high nerd quotient, which I approve of in spite of my general ignorance of such matters. My daughter and her husband were just at Gen Con Indy, so I need to be educated in all things nerdy.
    LISTICLE! good to know, for example…
    And Andy, for a second I thought: Are there many bars on 5th Avenue? And why would he choose to frequent them specifically? Oh well… it was late at night and I’d had quite day. That’s my story. I admire a man who loves chocolate.

  2. anon says:

    LAT: “We are all familiar with the phrases FORK LIFT, CHAIR LIFT, FACE LIFT, and BOAT LIFT.”

    Speak for yourself – never heard of a boat lift until seeing it here.

    • janie says:

      boatlift — known famously, in the not so distant past, in transporting refugees from cuba and from vietnam…


  3. golfballman says:

    LAT tried to fit” I’m from the government” in at 21a but it wouldn’t fit.

  4. Adam says:

    I found this BuzzFeed article by Caleb Madison I thought you all would enjoy. It’s about crossword clues by indie constructors:


  5. Gareth says:

    I’ve never been sure what exactly a fifth of alcohol was. Finally looked it up. It’s just a normal 750ml bottle. NYT sure is jam-backed with fun answers today!

    • Martin says:

      A fifth WAS 25.6 US fluid ounces, 1/5 of a US gallon. That is 757 ml. The extent of metrification in the US consisted of the liquor industry jumping at the opportunity to short their customers 7 ml per bottle. The 1.75 liter “half gallon” (versus the real 1.893 liter half gallon) is an even more egregious theft.

      People who, for historical reasons, continue to call 750 ml liquor bottles “fifths” are brainwashed sheeple. Where were the anti-metric forces when we needed them?

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