Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NYT 2:55 (Andy) 
Jonesin' 5:57 (Derek) 
LAT 5:27 (Derek) 
CS 9:28 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Bill Thompson’s New York Times crossword

NYT Puzzle 08.18.15 by Bill Thompson

NYT Puzzle 08.18.15 by Bill Thompson

It’s me, Andy, on the Tuesday puzzle once again. Quick review this week. The theme of this one was revealed at 59a, MIDDLE EAST [World hot spot … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues]. Each of the five theme answers has the word EAST directly in its center:

  • 17a, GONE ASTRAY [*Left the flock].
  • 23a, STAGE A STRIKE [*Walk out]. 
  • 37a, YEASTY [Like baking dough]. 
  • 39a, FEASTS [Sumptuous spreads]. A friend of mine was trying to think of words that rhymed with “presumptuous” the other day, and “sumptuous” was the only thing I could think of (even though they share pretty much the whole word, so I’m not sure whether you can really call it a rhyme). We came up with some near rhymes like “voluptuous,” but nothing else truly satisfying.
  • 48a, ADELE ASTAIRE [Half of a brother/sister dance duo]. Clearly the seed entry. Or at least clearly the best entry, whether or not it was the seed.

Fine theme for a Tuesday. I think I like the addition of YEASTY and FEASTS as bonus theme material. I didn’t love ESTE being in the grid (36a, [Villa d’___]) since it’s Spanish for east, but the way it’s clued I’m not sure if it has any etymological relation to “east.” FREI is an unfortunate consequence of the puzzle’s theme density, and there’s probably no situation in which I’d be okay with ALETA crossing SAYEST in one of my grids, but otherwise there wasn’t too much fill I didn’t like. I would’ve preferred PASTIME to HAS TIME, which could work if you change HEARD to PEARS

I had no idea 3d, WANG, was a computer company, much less the [First computer company to run an ad during the Super Bowl]. So I learned something today! I liked the clue for 21a, SHE [“___ Bangs” (Ricky Martin hit)]. Also liked the clue for 44a, PAT [Word that, spelled backward, can be a clue for itself]. It took me back to Y2K in the best possible way. Anyone else remember William Hung’s version of that song on American Idol? Hard to believe that was half my lifetime ago.

I’m a big golf fan and a big literature fan, but I can see how the crossing of DORAL and URIS in the SW corner could trip some Tuesday solvers up. Lots of Scrabbly letters in this one, but had the constructor not insisted on having a Z in that corner, it could easily have been refilled to a Tuesday difficulty (I was able to replace ALUMS/DORAL/ELIZA with ADLIB/DEUCE/ELVES in about 2 minutes. As long as you’re fine with the brand names LUVS and ICEE in your grid, it’s equally good fill, and there are fewer tricky crossings).

That’s all I’ve got. Until next time!

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 6.06.22 AMMatt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Free Kee” – Derek’s write-up

Themeless for this week’s Jonesin’ Crossword. Wide open as well, as I count 66 words. And stellar entries to boot. Not surprising from a talented constructor. Some notable entries:

  • 17A [Comedian who once stated “I’m the luckiest unlucky person”] TIG NOTARO – I am not familiar with this comic, but she has one of her stand-up routines on Netflix, which evidently deals with her cancer diagnosis. Looks pretty funny, and I’m sure that is what the clue is alluding to.
  • 22A [Pre-calculator calculator] SLIDE RULE – I have never used one of these. Not THAT old…
  • 47A [Jodie Foster thriller with locked doors] PANIC ROOM -I think I have seen this, but I don’t remember. Gettable with the locked door reference.
  • 57A [Cartoonish cry while standing on a chair] EEK! A MOUSE! – My favorite entry in the puzzle. Awesome!
  • 9D [Lingual bone that’s not attached to any other bone] HYOID – Seems as if this bone is mentioned a lot in murder mysteries; if it’s broken, it may indicate strangulation, I believe.
  • 11D [Tentative offer] IF YOU WANNA – Obviously not grammatically correct, but this is spoken by most everybody at some time. I like it.
  • 21D [Simpsons character that all member of metal band Okilly Dokilly look like] NEDCheck this out and you’ll see they do!
  • 45D [Maternally related] ENATE – Only annoying crosswordese-ish entry. But at least it’s not obscure; just a word I know purely from crosswords.
  • 55D [End of the holidays?] MAS – As in X-MAS. A clever way to clue this. Well done.

We will call it 3.9 stars. Themeless, but not overly challenging, but a fun solve all the same. Can’t wait for next week’s Jonesin’!

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 3.06.44 PMAnother puzzle by one of my new favorite constructors, C.C. Burnikel.  Not too complicated of a theme, fun to solve, a thematic payoff near the end, and quality fill throughout.  What more could you ask for? The them is explained by 47D [Unpaid debts … or, read differently, what both parts of the answers to starred clues have?] ARREARS, or AR REARS. Each starred clue is a two word phrase with both words ending in AR.  Nice payoff because you have no idea what the theme is until you get to this point, and assuming you solved in a basically north to south fashion, you wouldn’t get to this clue until well into the puzzle.  The rest of the starred entries:

  • 17A [Arctic carnivore] POLAR BEAR
  • 31A [1969 #1 hit used in a cereal promotion] SUGAR SUGAR
  • 48A [Pureéd fruit drink] PEAR NECTAR
  • 66A [Period between consecutive spring equinoxes] SOLAR YEAR
  • 11D [Gelation made from algae] AGAR AGAR
  • 40D [“Well said!”] HEAR HEAR

Again, very well done. As mentioned, fill is pristine. A few comments:

  • 21A [Shout from a knocker] IT’S ME – Is this correct grammar? I remember from elementary days that when answering the phone, it is correct to say, “This is HE” not “This is HIM.” Would correct grammar dictate “It is I?” Does it really matter?? Because we all say what the entry uses!!
  • 55A [Spicy lentil stew] DAL – Evidently this is Indian. Never heard of it. Until now. Time to visit an Indian restaurant!
  • 60A [“Well, shucks!”] OH, GEE! – Nicely done.
  • 8D [“I got it!”] EUREKA – Seemingly a twin clue to 60-Across as they are both exclamations. Similar with 3D [“As if!”] I’LL BET. Much more fun than clueing the city in California.
  • 9D [Bases loaded opportunity] GRAND SLAM – With Serena Williams going for the calendar Grand Slam in tennis, and Jordan Spieth nearly winning it in tennis, there may be a sports related way to clue this soon. I remember back in the late 80s that Steffi GRAF was often clued as [1988 Grand Slam winner].
  • 36D [Brief broadcast clip] SOUND BITE – Or put another way, brief way to end one’s career if it’s a bad one!
  • 52D [Trinidad and ___] TOBAGO – This seems like it isn’t in crosswords that often, given its vowel-consonant alternation. Someplace I’d like to visit!

Another stellar Tuesday puzzle.  3.6 stars this time.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 220), “The Ayes Have It”—Janie’s review

CrosswordNation 8/18 (No. 220)

CrosswordNation 8/18 (No. 220)

Oh, boy. I hope all of you enjoyed this solve as much as I did. It’s a superb “change of sound” puzzle, in which well-known base-phrases with (short “i”) “-ĭp” words become sometimes-high-concept, funny, not-entirely-impossible phrases with (long “i” [sounds like “aye”]) “-īp” words. Puzzles that make me laugh out loud will never be BANAL. Five themers (including one grid-spanner), all with question-marked clues designed to point you SPOT ON in the right (mis)direction.

  • 16A. [Letter holders in a printing shop?] TYPE JARS. Tip jars. Groan. And quaint, right? The way it wuz. (Take a look at the etymology of “linotype”—sweet.)
  • 23A. [The official paper towel of the United States Senate?] MAJORITY WIPE. Majority Whip. High-concept and funny and I like it. A lot.
  • 38A. [Substitute for a glitzy ad campaign?] HYPE REPLACEMENT. Hip replacement. I suspect most of us would prefer to say “aye” to the altered phrase over the base-phrase any day!
  • 50A. [Square dance number about a video chat invitation for singer Rawls?] “SKYPE TO MY LOU.” “Skip-to-My-Lou.” Perfection. It’s right up-to-date, it’s punny-funny, it’s right up my alley.
  • 62A. [Film stagehand’s beef?] KEY GRIPE. Key grip. Wait. “Where’s the beef?”…

All of this lively theme fill (and cluing) is well-met with the remaining fill, and especially with the unexpected, sometimes quite-challenging cluing. We get two strong 10s, that (fabulous) FRAGILE EGO and the more sobering reminder of troop DEPLOYMENT. (This latter word is one we might hear in a report from [“World New Tonight” anchor David] MUIR, another right-up-to-date combo.) That’s it for long fill, but it’s hardly the end of what keeps this puzzle so very interesting.

As I said: there are a lot of challenging clues today. Here are some that made my list:

  • dakota[Longtime Dakota resident] for ONO. Yoko. So, no, this clue had nothing to do with the territory west of Minnesota and everything to do with the historic building on the NW corner of Central Park West and 72nd Street.
  • [Puccini’s “MADAMA Butterfly”]. Well, yes. But that final “A” came only with the crossing “A” of JANE. There is precedent for my confusion.
  • [Flying Clouds in a garage] for REO. Very valuable automobiles, last manufactured in the 1930s (in case you were wondering why the model name wasn’t exactly ringin’ a bell…).
  • [“Lazarus Laughed” author] for Eugene O’NEILL. Omg. And I was a theatre major (with a minor in American Studies). Why hadn’t I heard of it? Maybe because: “It is a long theo-philosophical meditation with more than a hundred actors making up a masked chorus. In theatrical format, Lazarus Laughed appears to be a Greek tragedy. But the underlying message is similar to the mystery plays from the Middle Ages.” (Wiki) Sounds like fun, no? No… And, with a cast that size, not exactly the most economical play to produce either…
  • [Long Island village once known as Hempstead Harbor] for ROSLYN. How did that play for those of you who don’t call the middle-Atlantic states your home?
  • [Taunt] for GIBE AT. Seems like it’s making a tiny comeback, but this is a phrase whose usage looks to have peaked in the mid-1920s. Not at all sayin’ it isn’t fair game, just sayin’ it’s not the first (or second) response that springs to mind. That initial “G” was slow in comin’, too, because NIGEL [Pelican in “Finding Nemo”] wasn’t really a happening thing…
  • [Frozen pizza brand] for AMY’S. I’m familiar with Amy’s oh-so-healthy and oh-so-delicious line of frozen foods—but didn’t realize it included pizza (and does it ever!). Now if the clue had read [Whose blog site is this anyway?]…

Ms. Allred in almost all red.

Then, there are three other happy-making clue pairings that deserve a shout out. Of the question-marked variety, I particularly liked [Leave in mid-sentence?] for ESCAPE and [Stick in one’s mouth?] for GUM. In the first instance, we’re not talking about tuning out or walking away mid-speech, but more like what occurred in upstate New York back in June of this year; in the second, “stick” is a noun and not a verb. Of the “color-coded” variety (and I use the term loosely), we get [Gloria Allred‘s org.] for ABA and [Blue material] for PORNO (so we’re not talkin’ fabric here…). And finally, of the “opposites attract” variety, hello [Put in the microwave] for WARM and [Put in the fridge] for COOL. Cool.

And that, folks is a wrap for me today. To my great delight (and with my very real thanks), I’m pleased to say that Puzzle Girl will be covering for me next week, when I’ll be off in the land of no cell phone service and not-to-be-banked-on wifi, north of ESTES Park, near/nearish Rustic, CO, enjoying the Rockies. Play nice, y’all—and see you in two weeks! ;-)

Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “G-men”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.18.15: "G-men"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.18.15: “G-men”

Good morning, crossword lovers! Hope all is great with you. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, is not about the James Cagney movie nor the New York Giants football team. (Interesting nugget; The New York Giants football team was founded in 1925, 10 years before the movie G Men was released!) But, it does involve G-men, as in fictional and real-fife figures (two aside) whose first and last names start with the seventh letter of the alphabet.

  • GORDON GEKKO (17A: [“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” role])
  • GEORGE GERVIN (28A: [Basketball star nicknamed “The Iceman”])
  • GILBERT GRAPE (44A: [Johnny Depp title role])
  • GUNTER GRASS (59A: [Literature Nobelist of 1999])
George "The Iceman" Gervin on the left, a certain CrosSynergy blogger on the right. From 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend.

George “The Iceman” Gervin on the left, a certain CrosSynergy daily blogger on the right. From 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend at Long Island University in Brooklyn.

The grid was not only a lot of fun, it also contained a number of references to Africa, specifically the intersecting West African locations as entries, SENEGAL (42D: [It nearly surrounds the Gambia]) and LAGOS, the city my parents were born in (66A: [Nigerian metropolis]). Although many James Bond fans are split on Roger Moore and his performances, I always loved the line that he delivered in Moonraker, when he has another encounter with his longtime enemy: “His name’s JAWS, he kills people.” (13D: [Bond bad guy]). Although, if I remember correctly, at the end of the movie, Jaws actually helps James Bond out after the villain in the movie (Hugo Drax) is thwarted in his attempt to create a super race. Yes, I’m that much of a 007 fan. There’s some great, long non-themed fill, including REAL MCCOY (34D: [It’s not ersatz]) and HIT A SNAG, something I did when I entered in “Gunter Gross” instead of Gunter Grass before fixing it later (39D: [Run into trouble])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HAGLER (6D: [Boxing’s “Marvelous Marvin”]) – Back when boxing was in his recent heyday in the 1980s, Marvelous Marvin HAGLER might have been the best of the best, regardless of weight division. The middleweight was the undisputed world champion for almost seven consecutive years, from 1980 to 1987, and that span is the second-longest span of being undisputed champion at middleweight in the last century. Actually, Marvelous Marvin Hagler is his real name. He legally had his name changed, adding “Marvelous” to the beginning of his name, because he was irked that boxing commentators didn’t call him by his nickname when commentating on fights. If you’re a sports/boxing fan, and you’ve never seen the first round of the 1985 mega-fight between Hagler and Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns, you need to go see it. Now!

See you all tomorrow at the top of the hump for Hump Day!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Tuesday, August 18, 2015

  1. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT crossing of YAWP, WANG and APGAR is not only ridiculous for a Tuesday but for any day of the week IMHO. Put a “c” in that top NW corner, an “m” two boxes over, an “s” in the bottom corner and you have CAMP, COGS, MANE, SPEAR and a much fairer puzzle. I found the puzzle showy so I get why it’s creator didn’t make such easy changes, but Shortz?

    Want to thank all the people chipping in and doing double duty here while Amy is recovering. Your work is appreciated.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      That corner can be reworked many different ways of course. And yeah I know it’s “its.” lol

  2. Quick sports-related note to Derek, who reviewed C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times puzzle. For Jordan Spieth, you mean golf! Tim Croce wrote a puzzle about that, called “A Major Accomplishment” (http://tinyurl.com/accomplishmentpuz) about the first leg of Jordan’s 2015 quest. Shortly after this year’s Wimbledon tournament, Liz Gorski used SERENA_SLAM as the inspiration for one of her “Crossword Nation” puzzles. Of course, to get a traditional calendar-year grand slam, Serena Williams has only the U.S. Open — to be played next month — to go. It would be the first in tennis since Steffi Graf did it in 1988, an Olympic year (so she actually won 5 events, including the Olympic gold).

    • ArtLvr says:

      Re Serena — I happened to catch the match Serena lost recently: Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic upset world number one Serena Williams to reach the Rogers Cup final in Toronto. Bencic, 18, fought back to beat the 21-time Grand Slam champion 3-6 7-5 6-4 – only the second defeat for Williams in 45 matches this year. The American, 33, has won the first three Grand Slams of 2015 and will go for the calendar Grand Slam at the US Open, starting August 31.. “I played like an amateur to be honest,” said Williams. “I felt pretty much in control until I lost the match” Bencic, the youngest player to beat Williams in a completed match since Maria Sharapova in 2004, said victory was “an incredible feeling”. It was awesome to see!

  3. Andy says:

    I’ve been looking back at reviews of/comments on past puzzles that use the word YAWP. I’m shocked so many people don’t like it. Of course you could have TARP/TOGA/RANG in that NW corner if you like APGAR (which I do — most solvers who’ve given birth or plan to, and certainly some who haven’t, should have heard of it), or like Avg Solvr suggests, something like DAMP/MANE/DOGS/SPEAR if you’re not an APGAR fan. It’s an easy change that would take two seconds. (For the record, I don’t mind WANG either, though I’d have clued it as Alexander, the fashion designer.)

    But why not YAWP? (For relevant YAWP usage, see: https://youtu.be/S6xyHna-NuM?t=65) Is the complaint that YAWP is too difficult a word to expect a Tuesday solver to know? That the crossings are unfair? That YAWP, like SAYETH, is a relic? Genuinely curious about this.

    • john farmer says:

      The greatest and best-known YAWP is, of course, the barbaric YAWP.

    • Papa John says:

      I fear, Andy, you will not have your curiosity satisfied any further regarding the yawp complaint. Avg Solver has said, “YAWP…is not only ridiculous for a Tuesday but for any day of the week IMHO.” So there you have it – wrong word for the wrong day of the week. Walt Whitman is not a fair source for the early week puzzles; yet no grumbling about JAYZ, ALETA, REESE, ADELE ASTAIRE, ATARI, PACMAN and other low brow/pop culture entries, and none for the other “relics” like GAEA, URIS, AENEID. It gets “curiouser and curiouser”, doesn’t it?

      “’There is no use trying,’ said Alice; ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’”

      • Gary R says:

        “Walt Whitman is not a fair source for the early week puzzles…”

        “Yawp” shows up as a single word in one of Whitman’s poems (admittedly, a very well-known poem), and a question about its appearance is translated as “Walt Whitman is not a fair source for the early week puzzles”?

        Papa John, do you write talking points for presidential candidates on the side?

        • Papa John says:

          “…do you write talking points for presidential candidates on the side?” Sorry, I don’t understand the question.

          It is not my declaration that YAWP is “ridiculous for a Tuesday”. That’s what Avg Solver said and I was merely repeating it.

          That many here seemed to have learned the word from the Robin Williams film, as opposed to its original source, seems to bolster my argument. Erudition has to be redefined.

          • Papa John says:

            Perhaps erudition need not be re-defined as much as it should return to its original meaning. From Wikipedia:

            “The word erudition came into Middle English from Latin. A scholar is erudite (Latin eruditus) when instruction and reading followed by digestion and contemplation have effaced all rudeness (e- (ex-) + rudis), that is to say smoothed away all raw, untrained incivility. Common usage has blurred the distinction from “learned” but the two terms are quite different.”

          • Gary R says:

            …do you write talking points for presidential candidates on the side?” Sorry, I don’t understand the question.

            My question was asking (somewhat sarcastically – sorry, but it’s been a long day) do you make a habit of taking a modest comment about the relative obscurity of a single word like “yawp,” and implying that means “Walt Whitman is not a fair source for the early week puzzles.”

            This sort of hyperbole, it seems to me, is the stock in trade of political candidates and/or their shills – and not the erudite discourse I expect to find on this blog.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      My complaint is the crossing of three answers I think are not well known. Even if I know YAWP I’m still at a loss with APGAR and WANG, a test of trivia. Papa points to other types of trivia entries and has a good general argument if such entries can’t be gotten through outside crosses.

      • Papa John says:

        What is “well known”, which as has been discussed here ad infinitum, depends entirely on what circle one keeps. To a Whitman aficionado, YAWP is as well-known as JAYZ is to a hip hopper. Why it is assumed on this blog and elsewhere that everyone keeps current with pop culture and the latest technology is yet another one of those curiosities. I, personally, did not go to college to learn that OREO cookies were the first product that National Biscuit introduced or that PACMAN has a perfect score of 3,333,360. Learning that bit of trivia did not affect me in the same way or degree that hearing “Leaves of Grass”, for the first time, did.

  4. Gary R says:

    NW corner of the NYT was a mess for me. Having never heard anyone utter the word “yawp,” I stuck with “carp” and then “harp” for far too long. I’ve heard of the APGAR test, but couldn’t recall it, so that added to my woes up there.

    I vaguely recall Wang computers. I tend to associate them more with dedicated word processors than general purpose computers, but I believe they were in that market, too.

    The whole puzzle had sort of an old-timey feel to me.

  5. DooK says:

    NW corner made me check my calendar. Is it REALLY Tuesday?? I’ve never heard the term “sugar pea”. They are sugar snap peas here – and I had a zillion of them in the garden this summer!

    • Papa John says:

      I’m with you regarding SUGAR PEA. A quick online search for “sugar pea” seems to confirm it’s sugar snap peas.

  6. R. McGeddon says:

    I wouldn’t let a Trump chew us,
    For that would be presumptuous.

  7. Maikong says:

    ADE —

    Great picture.

  8. CoffeeLover says:

    Derek, I am THAT old. Had to work hard to convince my Dad that an $80 TI calculator was a good birthday present. He didn’t understand why I didn’t want to stick with my slide rule. Anyway, being oldER helps with some things like WANG in the NYT.

Comments are closed.