Thursday, August 13, 2015

NYT 7:20 (Derek) 
LAT 4:31 (Gareth) 
CS 10:42  (Ade) 
BEQ 7:45 (Ben) 

Jim Hilger’s New York Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

imageTrading with Doug Peterson on the Thursday NYT; Doug will be back to blog the Friday puzzle. He said to me earlier that he hoped I would get a fun one, and he was right! The instructions to the puzzle state: “When this puzzle is done, four squares will remain empty. Which ones and why are for you to determine. The grid shows “which ones,” and the “why” is that there are eight answers that all end in “BREAK.” Here are the pertinent clues/answers, with an underscrore where the empty grid square is:

  • 17A [12:05 t0 12:20 p.m., maybe] SHORT L_UNCH (BREAK)
  • 34A [Bit of misfortune] B_AD (BREAK)
  • 36A [A couple weeks off partying in Florida, say] SPR_ING VACATION (BREAK)
  • 58A [Series of ads on TV or radio] COMMER_CIAL (BREAK)
  • 6D [Daring escape] JA_IL (BREAK)
  • 22D [It might include the line “You’re listening to WABC”] STA_TION (BREAK)
  • 23D [Turning point in a tennis match, maybe] SER_VICE (BREAK)
  • 46D [Lover’s hurt] HEA_RT (BREAK)

Pretty clever. Puzzle started off a tad difficult, especially since there is an element of slight fear knowing you’re going to have empty squares! I got the clue from STATION BREAK. I thought at first it was STATION ID, but that didn’t fit. Then the middle answer had to something along the lines of spring “break,” so from there it was just looking for answers that could be a phrase ending in break. Minor quibbles: seemed like an overuse of “say” and “maybe” in some of the thematic clues.  And is “spring break vacation” ever said? I would think most people just say “spring break.” I said my quibbles were minor. Decent fill in this puzzle. I liked OLD BATDC AREA (I think I’ve seen this often recently), SHAVETAILSORVISENNUI (one of my favorite words!), and JINX. Some crosswordese used (AZOAAREAGAR, and DOST to name a few), but not to an annoying degree.  I didn’t know 4D [Sword: Fr.] FER

All in all a fun puzzle, which is what Doug it would be!  4.1 stars, mainly for the fresh idea.  Here’s hoping Doug gets an equally fun puzzle for Friday!

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


I’m going to partially blame my slower time on this week’s puzzle to Lollapuzzoola, as the wide range of creative puzzles at the tournament led to me overthinking what the trick was to this week’s theme answers.  I was looking for answers to be atop one another when I should have considering the title was a hint that I should be looking to change A TO P in the theme answers:

  • 16A: Continuous change of a nothing worker? — PEON FLUX
  • 19A: Cleaned up after a drive-by? — SWEPT BULLETS
  • 35A: Skip the surveillance? — GO WITHOUT SPYING
  • 49A: Bronco tamer who avoided mass layoffs? — BUSTER KEPT ON
  • 55A: The tater to rule them all? — KING SPUD

It was a mixed week for my music references, as I immediately knew that 33A‘s “‘Tiny Bubbles’ entertainer” was DON HO (thanks, that one episode of The Mole!), but couldn’t remember Frank Zappa’s “Burnt WEENY Sandwich” (40A) without a few of the crossing clues.  By the time I got to it in the downs, I had enough crossings to realize that singer 5D was looking for (“He died on ‘The Day the Music Died'”) was VALENS, so it’s a mixed bag all around.

Lollapuzzoola was also on my brain when I hit 44D.  “Low-fare bus” didn’t resolve to BOLT (too few letters), but then I remembered the JITNEY as well and it all made sense.  Similarly the “versatile white bean” at 63A wasn’t going to be a CANNELINI (too many letters this time), so SOY fit the bill.  It was also nice to see Cheri OTERI get a call out in 46D for something other than her work on other frequent crossword filler SNL.  I’ve seen a lot of ALI Larter (known for her work in the “Resident Evil” movies, if 27D is any indication) in puzzles lately – must be something going on in the puzzle hivemind.

This week’s puzzle is a step down from last week’s fantastic puzzle, but it was a fun solve nonetheless.  A solid Thursday from BEQ.

3.5/5 stars

Mark Bickham’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 150813

LA Times

It’s “word that completes” theme time today with Mark Bickham. Today’s word is HOLDING and it completes the second part of 5 theme answers. The revealer; [Type of Tax…], WITHHOLDING; is on the bland side, but HOLDING itself is more interesting in the phrases that it forms. HOLDING court, HOLDING hands, HOLDING pattern, HOLDING cell, and HOLDING back make for a more interesting and idiomatic set than most.

The answers themselves are mostly solid, with two gems – the spoken word BERIGHTBACK and LOOKMANOHANDS. Listed, we have:

  • [“Hang on for a sec”], BERIGHTBACK
  • [It can be white or red], BLOODCELL
  • [Way with words?], SPEECHPATTERN
  • [Cry from a daring biker], LOOKMANOHANDS. I spent two days unconscious and permanently lost the hearing in my right ear in a bike accident at age 8, so that cuts a little close to home…
  • [French Open surface], CLAYCOURT
  • [Type of tax … or how the ends of the other five longest across answers might be seen?], WITHHOLDING

The Batsman's WilleyThe medical subtheme of BLOODCELL continues with two of the punchier non-theme answer: a LABTEST and WEBMD – a mixed blessing of the internet age. Along with 6 themers, Mr. Bickham manages two long downs in SHARONSTONE and BEEFSAUSAGE. DKNY and THEOC are also fun choices among the medium-length fill.

For a densely themed crossword, there are not too many casualties: RESEEK is not the most “in the language” “re” word there is. There are also several short abbreviations, but mostly of the common and in the language variety – no foul in my book.

Clue commentary:

  • [Casino conveniences], ATMS. Convenient for whom?
  • [Literary breakdown], GENRES. Simple, elegant clue.
  • Jeans appliqué], IRONON. Bonus points for “appliqué”!

Technically a well put together puzzle.
3.5 Stars

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Double O Seven”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.13.15: "Double O Seven"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.13.15: “Double O Seven”

Hello once again! Hope all is well, and my apologies for the late post. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld has a grand total of seven themes, and each of them are two-word entries in which each of the words start with the letter “O.” Funny enough, I was having a conversation with a TV producer/director and a cameraman from the French sports station RDS, and the producer and I came up with nickname for the cameraman, who was known as someone that was very charming to the ladies. We said he was “James Bond.” 

  • OVAL OFFICE (17A: [It’s part of the West Wing])
  • OPTS OUT (21A: [Chooses not to participate])
  • OLIVE OIL (28A: [Italian dressing ingredient])
  • OSAGE ORANGE (34A: [Fruit of the mulberry family])
  • OLE OLSEN (47A: [“Hellzapoppin'” costar])
  • OLD ONES (53A: [Well-worn witticisms])
  • OPEN ORDERS (58A: [Market authorizations awaiting execution])

This is probably only the second or third time I’ve ever seen POOR BOY spelled out in reference to the sandwich (1D: [New Orleans hero sandwich (var.)]). I’ve had a couple of Po’boy sandwiches and I can’t say that I’ve been blown away. Must have not gotten the sandwich from the right place. Nice to be in Quebec and be greeted with a French expression, ET VOILÀ, in a grid (2D: [Magician’s dramatic cry]). Oh, and if you’re not a sports fan, then you might not know that SAFECO, after last night, is the sight of the latest no-hitter in Major League baseball (5D: [______ Field (Seattle Mariners stadium]). Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners pulled off the trick last night, no-hitting the Baltimore Orioles in a 3-0 win. Iwakuma is the second Japanese pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Major League Baseball, as Hideo Nomo threw two in his career, including one of the most impossible feats in the history of sports: throwing a no-hitter at EXTREMELY hitter-friendly Coors Field, which he did on Sept. 17, 1996. Don’t believe me?…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EATONS (48D: [2012 Olympic decathlon gold medalist and “Goldfinger” actress Shirley]) – Of the two EATONS referenced, I’ll concentrate on Ashton, the American who not only won the decathlon at the 2012 Olympics on London, but, during the Olympic Trials leading up to those games, set the world record for most points in a decathlon, with 9,039. He also holds the world record for most points accumulated in an indoor heptathlon, with 6,645.

It’s TGIV tomorrow!! (Thank goodness it’s vendredi!) See you on Friday!

Take care!


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8 Responses to Thursday, August 13, 2015

  1. Avg Solvr says:

    I think you mean SPR_ING (BREAK) VACATION. Liked the theme.

  2. huda says:

    Never saw the note, so I was flying blind for quite a while and tumble to it at STATION as well, and then HEART soon after.
    Never heard of SHAVETAILS so it took a lot of crosses.
    I too really liked the theme.
    Across Lite forced me to write BREAK in the empty squares before I got the happy pencil…

    • CY Hollander says:

      Never saw the note

      I wish I hadn’t. These tricky themes are much better without the hint. I wish they wouldn’t print them over the puzzle, where they’re hard to miss.

  3. Evad says:

    I read [Beldam] as [Bedlam] and was quite surprised when HAG/SHAVETAILS was correct. (I almost opted for SLAVETAILS since they were rookies.)

    This is one where I wished I hadn’t read the note first, I think the hint gave too much away for a Thursday.

    • Derek Allen says:

      I thought the hint was too much as well. As mentioned, a rebus with BREAK in the square would work, but I think I get the idea of including an actual word “break” in the grid. Still a fun solve.

    • CY Hollander says:

      This is one where I wished I hadn’t read the note first, I think the hint gave too much away for a Thursday.

      100% agree. It’s such a waste of a fresh twist to tell you exactly what it is in advance.

    • Gareth says:

      I never read the notes. It’s easy not to in Across Lite. I like my puzzle themes abstruse…

  4. Howard B says:

    Loved the theme, fill was rather tough; SHAVETAILS, ORVIS and BREDA may be rather different fill, but they just created additional blockages and detours here, instead of enjoyment on discovery. None of them were on my radar, but were not very interesting after working through every crossing of each answer there.
    N.B. – I didn’t read the hint, so that did throw me for a bit – but also added to the enjoyment. It’s nice to have the note available if you want it though.

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