Sunday, September 20, 2015

NYT 8:30 (Amy) 
LAT 4:49 (Andy) 
Hex/Hook 10:10 (pannonica) 
CS 26:50 (Ade) 

Two Sunday-friendly announcements I’m reposting from Saturday of last weekend:

Merl Reagle’s wife, Marie Haley, is hosting a memorial for Merl on Sunday, September 27, 5-8 pm. The gathering will be at the University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center, 9th floor, and all are invited. If you’re not able to make it to Tampa, Will Shortz and Wordplay filmmakers Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley will be arranging a lovely tribute to Merl at the 2016 ACPT.

Hayley Gold, creator of the Across and Down NYT crossword webcomic, is changing her posting schedule. It’s still once a week, but on Sundays regardless of which day’s puzzle is featured. The new schedule launched last Sunday at 6 pm Eastern. Hayley welcomes feedback ( and encourages you to subscribe (it’s free) to get exclusive teasers and whatnot. You can also “like” the Across and Down Facebook page.

Jason Mueller and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword, “Put A Lid On It!”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 20 15, "Put a Lid on It!"

NY Times crossword solution, 9 20 15, “Put a Lid on It!”

The theme is hats and the famous people who wore them, but instead of flatly putting the hat in each person’s clue, Jason and Jeff have placed the hats in the grid atop their respective people. FEDORA is on INDIANA JONES; CALAMITY JANE wears a STETSON; CHE GUEVARA has his iconic BERET; CHARLES DEGAULLE wore his French military KEPI (and that hat’s name is something I learned from crosswords and rarely ever see elsewhere); Oliver Hardy’s buddy STAN LAUREL wore a BOWLER (but so did Ollie); BUSTER KEATON, who did silent films like Lauren and Hardy did, had a PORKPIE; and CHEF BOYARDEE (real surname Boiardi) wore his kitchen TOQUE.

The fill’s mostly pretty good, though I looked askance at old-school crosswordese ANILS, REATA, LETT, and OSIER and wanted to cover them both with a hat (along with BEDIM). Top fill: RED CROSS, EMOJI, “WHAT A GUY!,” DEEP ROOTS, AFRIKANER, and BON MOT.

Five more things:

  • 93d. [Angström or Celsius], ANDERS. This is also the first name of one of the stars and characters of Comedy Central’s Workaholics, a couple seasons of which passed the time for me and my husband during our surgical recovery. Highly recommended—if you find stoner idiots amusing.
  • 1d. [Otto who worked on the Manhattan Project], FRISCH. The name was a little familiar, but I needed four letters in place before I could put it together.
  • 66d. [Wes of PBS’s “History Detectives”], COWAN. Never heard of him, nor the program. I have, however, heard of PBS. *brushes dirt off shoulders*
  • 51a. [Shoplift, in slang], BOOST. Liked the clue.
  • 91d. [Actor John of “Full House”], STAMOS. He plays a grandpa on a new sitcom this fall.

3.9 stars from me. How’d you like it?

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Amen”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 9.20.15, "Amen," by C.C. Burnikel

LAT Puzzle 9.20.15, “Amen,” by C.C. Burnikel

This is a nice, simple theme: Famous men whose names contain only consonants and As (thus, “A men”). Themers:

  • 22a, FRANZ KAFKA [Novelist whose works were banned in his native land from 1968-’69].
  • 24a, ANWAR SADAT [Time’s 1977 Man of the Year]. Sadat was the President of Egypt until he was assassinated in 1981.
  • 40a, PAT SAJAK [TV host who was an Army DJ in Vietnam]. Now you know!
  • 59a, JACK BLACK [Voice of the title character in “Kung Fu Panda”].
  • 79a, CARL SAGAN [Neil deGrasse Tyson mentor]. For your daily dose of Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, watch this video.
  • 101a, ALAN ALDA [“The Aviator” Oscar nominee]. What kind of “A men” puzzle would it be without Alan Alda?
  • 118a, GRAHAM NASH [Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee]. Once as a member of The Hollies, and once as the N in CSNY.
  • 121a, FRANK CAPRA [Three-time Oscar-winning director]. Capra won three Best Director Oscars for It Happened One NightMr. Deeds Goes to Town, and You Can’t Take It With You. Only Capra, John Ford (with 4), and William Wyler (with 3) have won more than two Best Director Oscars so far. A handful of living directors–Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Miloš Forman, and Ang Lee–have two.
  • 39d, BART STARR [The Packers retired his #15 in 1973]. Starr was the MVP of Super Bowls I and II.
  • 54d, MAX PLANCK [Quantum theory pioneer].

A little bonus answer, probably unintentional (but who knows?), at 77a: (RAFA) NADAL [Rival of Djokovic]. Plenty of theme content (10 theme answers). I thought of a few other names that work for the theme constraint, but certainly nothing I would rather have seen in this puzzle. C.C. did a really nice job of choosing very famous people from a variety of professions. Plus, the cluing was refreshingly current and/or interesting. Like most of C.C.’s puzzles, this felt very accessible.

One thing I’d never seen in a puzzle before: 102d, ALTRIA [Philip Morris parent company]. In all the puzzle databases I have access to, I could only find one previous occurrence of ALTRIA, in this Inkwell puzzle from 2012 where (at least here on Crossword Fiend) it went completely unremarked upon. You’d think with its crossword-friendly letters and it being kind of a huge deal, it would show up in crosswords more often. Even now, I can hear the clickety-clack of constructors typing it into their word lists.

Some other good stuff: fun cluing at 5d, DEADPANS [Delivers à la Steven Wright], and a solid misdirection at 90d, RED WINES [Cabs, e.g.], KON-TIKI, KAYAKS, JANGLE, CRAWDAD, PICASA, STUBHUB, SBARRO, FACTOID, CAJOLED, HANDS-ON, “GOT IT,” “SO SUE ME.” There’s a bit of crosswordese hanging around, stuff like HOD, EEKS plural, BRAC, ENATE. On the whole, though, more good stuff than not, especially given the theme density. A fun, breezy solve.

Until next week!

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Capitalism” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 9/20/15 • "Capitalism" • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg •solution

CRooked • 9/20/15 • “Capitalism” • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg •solution

Tidy if typical crossword theme: puns involving world capitals.

  • 27a. [Year-round home in Jordan?] AMMAN FOR ALL SEASONS (“A Man …”).
  • 45a. [Meat-eating giant of Albania?] TIRANASAURUS (Tyranno-…).
  • 54a. [Philippine fakery?] MANILA FUDGE (vanilla …).
  • 74a. [Fear of being in Ghana?] ACCRAPHOBIA (acro-…).
  • 82a. [Egyptian specialist?] CAIROPROCTOR (chiro-…).
  • 96a. [Some Sudanese?] KHARTOUM CHARACTERS (cartoon …).
  • 34d. [Cheer in Zimbabwe?] HIP HIP HARARE (… hooray or hurrah).
  • 39d. [Turk?] ANKARA PERSON (anchor …).

A likable bunch, these. Limited to Africa and Asia, and with one exception, western Asia. Another thematic exception is the single entry that puts the punned element at the end rather than the beginning.

  • 47d [Genus of bad skeeters] AEDES. I wonder if ‘mosquito’ was avoided because Quito is another world capital (Ecuador).
  • 65d. [Sticky-toed lizard] GECKO. I don’t entirely agree with the use of “sticky” here, but I understand why it was used.
  • 70d [Lemur-like primate] POTTO; fair enough. 95a [Cuisine with curry] THAI.

    Pottos use chemical cues extensively to communicate. They leave urine trails and secretions from glands under the tail on branches to mark territory and communicate information on their reproductive state. They use a toxic or noxious glandular secretion to deter predators. Pottos have a distinct odor that some observers have called ‘curry-like.’ They have several vocalizations, the most common being a female contact call to young that sounds like ‘psic.'”

    novioletbulawayoPSIC – now there’s some serious potential crosswordese. (sourceacron)

  • Mis-fill: 88a [Fresh arrivals] NEW NAMES prior to NEONATES.
  • 110a [Actress Davis] VIOLA, not BETTE nor GEENA; all three are now crossword mainstays.
  • 30d [Roman Hades] ORCUS. Disputable. ORCUS and Pluto (who is the direct correlate of Hades) are not always the same being. Refer to WikipediaTheoi, and Myth Index to get started. Hades may also be rendered Aides, which is distinct but tantalizingly close to the Greek-derived Aedes (47d).
  • 78d [Nickname of 41-Down] FATHA; aha! that explains why the other clue didn’t include that helpful epithet, [Jazzman Hines] EARL.

Solid theme, relatively clean fill, mostly matter-of-fact cluing (a notable departure is 77a [Joan of art] for MIRÓ).


Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 09.20.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 09.20.15

Good day, everyone! I hope you’re doing great and enjoying another splendid Sunday weather-wise!

So today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, was actually a tale of two puzzle-solving experiences; the lightning-quick speed I did the bottom of the grid, and the almost eternal slog doing the top of the grid. I guess we can start at the top, where getting SCPA to start didn’t really help in building any sort of momentum up there (1D: [Shelter org.]). A couple of minutes later, LIRA was in the grid, but the across answers weren’t clicking still (2D: [Currency that featured portraits of Bellini and Caravaggio]). So it was off to the bottom of the grid, and that’s where I finally got a foothold, especially getting (and remembering) SEELEY off of one episode of Bones that I had seen in the past (59A: [______ Booth (David Boreanaz’s character on “Bones”]). I think I only watched it because of the ads that showed the love interest between the two main characters. PAPA JOHN (55A: [Big cheese in the pizza biz]) was also a gimme as well as MME CURIE, as the abbreviation didn’t give me any trouble (58A: [Two-time Nobelist, formally]). Honestly, it really was the Northeast grid that killed me, and only when I correctly guessed CRITERIA where everything finally fell into place (17A: [Gauges]). I’m glad that a PIXIE CUT isn’t as much of a risky haircut these days, given that it’s much more in style than it has ever been (15A: [Daring do]). At least that’s in my opinion. Oh, and to boot: NEBUCHADNEZZARS (35A: [Copious amounts of bubbly])!!!  Enough said.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOBO (47A: [Western wolf])– Who’s the best New Mexico LOBO athlete ever? Could it be Danny Granger, current Detroit Piston and one-time NBA All-Star with the Indiana Pacers? Could it be former fullback and 1961NFL Rookie of the Year Don Perkins? It’s probably Brian Urlacher, the long-time Chicago Bears linebacker who’s probably going to end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the next 5-10 years. For those who might be partial to five-time NBA champion and five-time All-NBA first-team defender Michael Cooper, I’m sorry.

See you tomorrow, and have yourself a great rest of your Sunday!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Sunday, September 20, 2015

  1. pannonica says:

    NYT: Located vertically near the grid’s center is TOPS, not explicitly referencing the theme. As all the clues included the descriptor ‘topper” I found this duplication a bit irksome.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I really liked it, both the theme and the execution. And for me, it was the right level of difficulty– I’d look at something and think: No idea, and then it would unfold and sometimes bring a little chuckle. The fill did not feel like a slog, nothing felt odd or awkward. Very well done!

    PS. KEPI has such a distinctive shape and is so iconic of the French military of that era. At least where I grew up, the term was used often and has always been familiar, like BERET. I guess a very similar shape was used in the Civil War. Did they have a special name?

    • pannonica says:

      Either kepi or McClellan cap, whose namesake was a Union commander.

      addendum: After a bit more research, the forage cap was also commonly used.

  3. PTF says:

    LAT “Amen” puzzle (9/20/15): I was confounded by several “gimme” answers that wouldn’t fit into their slots, until I realized that the wrong puzzle grid was printed with the clues!

  4. Bencoe says:

    My favorite Anders quote, after trying psilocybin mushrooms for the first time: “Do you eat these a lot? Cause they’re gross. They taste like I imagine Rumpelstiltskin would taste.”
    Also, remember “Anders ” has a hard “An.”

  5. klew archer says:

    two questions:
    1. Is that picture Mark Tansey’s “Alain-Robbe Grillet Cleansing Every Object In Sight?”

    2.I finally upgraded my Mac OS this weekend and it tells me it can’t run PuzzleSolver without installing some deprecated version of Java. Is there another preferred software now for jpz files or are people just using converters?

  6. Bob says:

    In re:LAT – Why is it more important to have an encyclopedic memory of trivial information than to have handle on the nuances of the English language to solve these puzzles? Inane info takes precedence over knowledge of the power of word meanings? Is Wikipedia our new Roget’s?? A puzzling situation at best, insanity at the worst.

    • lemonade714 says:


      Why is this comment lodged against the LAT? Do names in the NYT not offend? Who is the arbiter of what is trivia? If society embraces a person, a movie, a book should we not be aware? Is word structure and meaning all that is worth learning? Are geography, science and history to be verboten? One man’s gimme can be another’s Natick.

      Please explain.

      • Bob says:

        I can only reply to the LAT puzzles that I’ve done for 40+ years. Certainly Classics, world geography, science need to be part of one’s knowledge base – but puzzles recently have an over-abundance of obeisance to “pop culture” names, slang, heroes – all will be forgotten in several years. Please take our puzzling universe to a higher plain!

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Bob, do you realize you’re wasting your breath? Today’s mainstream newspaper crosswords include plenty of names, and they’re deemed to be part of our cultural literacy. It’s so tiresome to read your weekly complaints that add nothing new to the discourse and that aren’t going to change the puzzles.

          P.S. You meant “higher plane.” Power of words’ meanings and all.

        • Shawn P says:

          “an over-abundance of obeisance to “pop culture” names, slang, heroes – all will be forgotten in several years”. Interesting observation considering that all of the theme answers, with the exception of Jack Black, have been famous for more than 30 years!

  7. Joan Macon says:

    Well, I realize that the grid in my LAT does not match the clues. Which one is wrong? And how will it be sorted out? I miss my usual Sunday puzzle time!

    • Andy says:

      Hi Joan,

      From what I can piece together, some papers that run the Sunday LA Times puzzle printed the incorrect grid with the correct clues yesterday. For those of you who prefer to solve on paper, I’m temporarily making available a printable .pdf of the correct grid and clues from the .puz file that was publicly available yesterday. You can download it at this link:

      I’m going to take this down in roughly 24 hours, but it only seems fair to give regular print solvers a chance to see the correct puzzle.

      • Mike says:

        I tried to download the link to the correct grid for the Sunday 9/20/15 Puzzler but I got error 401 that said “it seems you don’t belong here. How can I get the correct grid? And why didn’t the LA Times acknowledge the wrong grid? Very unprofessional.

  8. mickey says:

    Now that Merl Reagle is gone, you’ve chosen the LAT as your next victim. As I’ve said before, find puzzles that fit your liking, or stop doing them altogether. Are you aware that you’re weekly complaining is a major annoyance to me, and, I suspect to the other people who contribute to these conversations. As Amy said, “it’s so tiresome to read your weekly complaints that add nothing new to the discourse and that aren’t going to change the puzzles.” Stop acting like a baby.

  9. Joan Macon says:

    Andy, thanks so much for your reply. My computer is so old I cannot open your grid, but I do want you to know how much I appreciate your offer. I am an old lady who prefers to do her puzzles in the newspaper, and I suppose I am in the vast minority, but it is something I like to do and you are very thoughtful to try to help me. I appreciate it!

  10. Kellyjam says:

    I consider myself somewhere between an advanced novice and an intermediate minus crossworder. Certainly nowhere near the expertise of the people on this site. I subscribe to the Southampton Press weekly paper which uses the crossword from the prior Sunday in the LAT. I usually peruse it to see if I can solve at least 50% of the puzzle. Many times if it’s in the 10-15 percentile I move on. This one, I am happy to say, fell into the 50% and was a lot of fun. Thank you C.C. Burnikel and RIP Merl Reagle whose puzzles I always have enjoyed.

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