Tuesday, September 22, 2015

NYT 3:32 (Amy) 
Jonesin' 6:50 (Derek) 
LAT 3:09 (Derek) 
CS 11:15 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 
WSJ tk (Sam?) 

Victor Barocas and Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 22 15, no 0922

NY Times crossword solution, 9 22 15, no 0922

The theme is summed up by 65a: WIZARD OF AAHS, and the other three theme answers are professions whose practitioners may elicit an “aah” or three from people:

  • 18a. [Fireworks expert], PYROTECHNIST. Had no idea that was a word. Pyrotechnics, sure.
  • 29a. [Head and neck physician], OTOLARYNGOLOGIST. Aka an ear, nose, and throat doc (or, since there’s no -rhino-, an ear and throat doc).
  • 51a. [Hard rubber, maybe], MASSAGE THERAPIST.

That works, though the ending of 18a may well have slowed down solvers besides me.

A little surprising to see ITERS and TARE in a Tuesday grid. Those feel like old-school crosswordese to me (though the rarer TRET is definitely worse than TARE—and both of those words reside in the same synapses in my head).

Three more things:

  • 12d. [“Angels & Demons” group whose name is Latin for “enlightened”], ILLUMINATI. My favorite place for deep-dish pizza is Lou Malnati’s, which sounds like a front for the Illuminati.
  • 31d. [Affords opportunities], OPENS DOORS. Nice phrase.
  • 40d. [Stuff caught in a filter], SPAM. Yes! If you dump a bunch of cans of Spam into the swimming pool, the filter will probably get clogged.

I am beat, people. Over and out, 3.75 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Up With People” – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.36.12 PMI am going to date myself – I remember when the Super Bowl halftime show was Up With People performing! According to Wikipedia, they performed four times between 1976 and 1986 at Super Bowl halftimes. I am more than a little surprised that they still actually exist!

Anyway, this week’s Jonesin’ has famous people with the letters UP added between their first and last names, then a punny clue to boot.  Here they are:

  • 17A [Overcharge for a cigar?] MARK UP CUBAN
  • 58A [Program that just notifies you without blocking?] POP-UP WARNER
  • 10D [Hoist one player in a chess game?] JACK UP BLACK
  • 25D [Carnival announcer that surfaces from the water?] BOB UP BARKER

Not bad! I smiled. Puzzle has 76 words, so the fill shouldn’t be to ugly, and it isn’t. Nothing really stands out to me except for two entries:

    • 64A [“Strange Condition” sinder Pete] YORN – Who? Oh, him! I’ve heard of Fetty WAP and NWA, though!

  • 44D [Full-voiced] OROTUND – Let’s learn a new word, shall we? Crossing YORN made this a little tougher, but not too tough.

As usual, another entertaining Jonesin’ puzzle. 3.8 stars. My favorite part, though, I think was the reminiscing about Up With People!

Frank Virzi’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.40.39 PMAnother constructor I am not too familiar with, but another nice Tuesday puzzle nonetheless. The theme is not too complicated, but it took me a minute to figure out what was meant at 62-Across.  Here are the theme answers:

  • 17A [Six-time ’30s-’40s N.L. home run champ] MEL OTT
  • 25A [Donny’s ’70s TV co-host] MARIE OSMOND
  • 39A [Sense of duty, per one’s personal ethics] MORAL OBLIGATION
  • 49A [It’s often “burned” during exam week] MIDNIGHT OIL
  • 62A [Record label founded in Detroit … and, when divided into three words, where to find the answers to starred clues?] MOTOWN, or M-O TOWN.

So the theme answers all are two-word phrases with the initials M.O. Nothing overly fancy, but the wordplay of the word MOTOWN is actually kind of clever and leads to a nice payoff near the end of the puzzle. I didn’t notice the MO initials while solving; maybe I was solving too fast!

Some notes:

  • 1A [Where to find screwdrivers?] BAR TAB – … or in my kitchen….
  • 19A [Square root of IX] III – Nice way to clue III. At least it seems new to me.
  • 44A [___ – wip: dessert topping] REDDI – Ever just squirt this in your mouth … mmmmm … must go have some dessert now …
  • 60A [Apple computer] IMAC – I am a new Mac disciple. Typing this on a Mac now. They’re too expensive, but that’s the only downside!
  • 68A [Daring exploit] GEST – One of a couple of obscure entries in the puzzle. All but one crossing pretty easy, though.
  • 6D [Bruce Wayne’s alter ego] BATMAN – My son LOVES Batman. I’m training him well …
  • 29D [Italian pork sausage] MORTADELLA – Great entry. I love sausage, too.
  • 34D [Ingredient in a black and tan] ALE – This is a light and dark beer drink. Never had one. Not a heavy beer drinker. More into fruity cocktails. (see comment for 1-Across!)
  • 52D [“Be silent,” in music] TACET – The other obscure entry. Doesn’t hurt the solving experience, though, because it’s gettable. I’m not complaining!

So again, a nice Tuesday entry. Let’s say 3.7 starts for this one. Until next Tuesday!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 225), “A River Runs Through It”—Janie’s review

CrosswordNation 9/22/15 (No. 225)

CrosswordNation 9/22/15 (No. 225)

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” Superb theme (see title), superb theme fill (see title), great theme density (70 squares!), intriguing and scrabblicious theme clues, strong remaining fill, evocative and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny cluing elsewhere, too. Okay. See ya!

Wait—you need more? Well, then—lemme get more specific. Today we get four horizontal themers (two grid-spanners), each a city and its country. Each themer has been clued with a piece of information that may have been new to you (most of it was for me, at any rate…). And, passing vertically through this city/country combo is the name of a river that runs through it. Pretty fabulous, no? Take a look:

  • 16A./13D. BUDAPEST, HUNGARY / DANUBE [Sziget Festival city seen from the 13-Down]/[See 16-Across]. Sziget Festival?? (See mention of scrabblicious clues…) Hungary rocks! This may not be “the Waltz King”‘s “Beautiful Blue DANUBE,” but from the looks of things, this rocks, too!
  • 27A./18D. CAIRO, EGYPT / NILE [“City of a Thousand Minarets” seen from the 18-Down]/[See 27-Across]. This was the one clue/fill pair I was actually familiar with and didn’t need to rely on crosses to complete… It’s not the bestest movie ever, but Cairo Time (2009) will give you an eye-opening glimpse into this pre-Arab Spring city and its culture.
  • 43A./41D. PATNA, INDIA / GANGES [Jalan Museum city seen from the 41-Down]/[See 43-Across]. PATNA? Completely new to me. Ditto the Jalan Museum. But love this approach to opening up the world of world culture. (And… see mention of scrabblicious clues.)
  • 57A./54D. BERN, SWITZERLAND / AARE [Zytglogge city seen from the 54-Down]/[See 57-Across]. Yikes. Zytglogge?? (See mention of scrabblicious clues…) A World Heritage Site in the center of the Old City of Bern. Once again, new to me. Not BERN, a crossword puzzle standby. And AARE? Never has a more maligned example of crosswordese received better “product placement”! Brava. (Oh—and nice that SNOW also crosses SWITZERLAND. How apropos.)

So those are our themers, two of which take us to Europe (where those EUROS may be spent), one to Africa, one to Asia (home to the Yellow River valley’s SHANG dynasty). No passports required. Simply an open mind. Works fer me!

And as I’ve said, the remainder of the puzzle works fer me, too. Hard not to like a puzzle filled with the likes of FRAIDY CATS, “BE NICE!,” CARAMELS, GREASE (clued in connection with prepping to bake homemade cookies), and EGGNOGS. Or cluing that ties disparate fill together, like [Hat sticker] and [Sticking point at dinner?] and [Sticky-and-sweet candies] for PIN and TINE and those CARAMELS. VICINITY (especially good in a puzzle with geographic references), UNDETERRED, SINEWED, SIGN IN, IN RANGE, contextualizing ITSELF by reminding us of FDR’s words that we have [“…nothing to fear but fear ___”]—all of these I add to the list of assets today.

Any TSKS I have are strictly of the “small potatoes” variety. I’d’ve preferred seeing STUCCOS clued as a verb [Finishes plastering] rather than as a plural noun [Plaster finishes]. And, given that they abut each other in the grid, I’d’ve preferred that TIARA continue the “prom” theme suggested in the STRAP [Spaghetti-thin prom gown feature] combo. So, instead of [Sparkly bridal accessory], [Sparkly prom accessory]. Or not. ;-)

Finally, hurrah for the big “hah!”-inducing, non-Army-/-latrine-related [Bathroom fixture for privates?] BIDET combo. Is Liz a lady or what? A very funny one at that.

And on that high note, I leave you. Have a good week, all—and see ya next time!

"City of a Thousand Minarets" seen from the Nile today

City of a Thousand Minarets” seen from the Nile today

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Lost in Space”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.22.15: "Lost in Space"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.22.15: “Lost in Space”

Good afternoon, everyone! I hope everyone is having a great day today! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, has us looking into the stars and skies above, as each of the five theme entries are multiple-word answers in which the letters NASA span across two of the words (72A: [Space org. that’s literally lost in 17-, 30-, 39-, 46-, and 60-Across]).

  • STUBBORN AS A MULE (17A: [Ornery])
  • TUNA SALAD (30A: [Deli order, perhaps])
  • BOLOGNA SANDWICH (39A: [Easy lunch to prepare])
  • DNA SAMPLE (46A: [Bit of forensic evidence])
  • IN A SAFE LOCATION (60A: [Secure])

First off, I always get a chuckle out of the 15-letter entries that have only one word as a clue. I always expect a long, verbose clue attached to it, and, sometimes, that does happen. But to just see “ornery” and “secure” and see the 15 white boxes that accompany it, I marvel at it. I’m sure I’m the only one who does now that I say this. Anyways, after my amazing trip to Montréal, I downloaded an app so I can learn French, but I haven’t gotten to the names of family members, which definitely would include TANTE (15A: [Oncle’s spouse]). There’s a couple of references to time, with AT NOON (23D: [When both hands are up?]) and A TEN O, which I’m sure enough people on here would cringe at that type of fill (50A: [“…_____ ‘clock scholar”]). Well, in most sports, a ONE-ONE score would come early in a game, unless you’re a fan of soccer, where a good number of entire games have ended 1-1 (35A: [Early tie, perhaps]). Could have said the same for hockey as well, but then the NHL had the knee-jerk reaction to eliminate ties after the lockout that wiped out the 2005 season. I’m fine with whole regular-season games finishing in ties, thank you very much! OK, going on a sports rant here, so I’ll just head to the “sports…smarter” moment, which I’m sure will make you laugh – especially since there’s video accompaniment. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DR HOOK (34D: [“Sexy Eyes” pop group])  – There’s no way I could see DR HOOK without thinking of Slap Shot, and the member of the Syracuse Bulldogs team that started a massive on-ice brawl at center ice with the Hanson Brothers. Oh, and remember, they don’t call him Dr. Hook for nothin’…

See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!

Take care!


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18 Responses to Tuesday, September 22, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Very cute!
    Amy my synapse has TARE but not TRET. Never heard of Tret, just looked it up and I can see why it’s in the same dendritic spine… But we actually use the word TARE in lab. If you’re measuring a drug, you put the little plastic container on the scale, tare it (zero it out) and then weigh. I also use it in my kitchen, out of habit. So to me it’s not crosswordese, it’s my usual geek talk (I often say “bench” for countertop and I label and date my frozen food like lab specimens…) .
    This was one of my fastest Tuesdays and it made me smile…

    • Bencoe says:

      TARE is used by pretty much anyone who sells anything by weight as well. We used to have TARE buttons on the cash registers at the grocery store I managed when I was younger. We sold expensive spices, so a gram could make a big difference.

    • Gareth says:

      Yep, used it extensively in chem lab, and pretty much all business scales have a TARE button. All veterinary scales for weighing patients do…

  2. Al says:

    Today’s WSJ is by Heidi Moretta, which appears to be a new Mike Shenk pseudonym, anagramming to “I am the editor”.

  3. Sarah says:

    New WSJ daily crosswords seem to be very good so far. Yesterday’s theme, in particular, was rather interesting.

  4. Harry says:

    Just another one for the LAT theme. 61D “Stooge with bangs,”…Moe.

  5. makfan says:

    One of my favorite Crossword Nation puzzles ever. Loved the city/country with the river intersecting it. Still good quality fill with all that theme material.

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