Friday, October 23, 2015

NYT 4:21 (Amy) 


LAT 4:37 (Gareth) 


CS tk (Ade) 


BuzzFeed 12:40 (Jim) 


Evan Birnholz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 23 15, no 1023

NY Times crossword solution, 10 23 15, no 1023

Lots of colorful fill in today’s puzzle from Evan Birnholz (who makes both themed and themeless crosswords at his Devil Cross site—the latest one a mega-sized themeless!). My favorites: COW TIPPING, FANTASY FOOTBALL, SUZY Q, PLAYBOY MAGAZINE with a Jimmy Carter interview clue, SWEET SPOTS, tasty ROLOS (I was so close to buying some today), DANCE CRAZE, F-BOMB, GROUPONS, and HAAGEN-DAZS (which I spelled right on the first try). You could add some BARQ’S to your ice cream for a root beer float, or just have the SUNDAES instead. SO MUCH SUGAR IN THIS PUZZLE. (And I used all caps because today is International All Caps Day.) Sweet spots, indeed. At least five answers that are problematic for diabetics. Five other notes:

  • 14d. [New Orleans N.B.A. team, informally], PELS. What? People call the Pelicans “the Pels” for short? That’s terrible. Can’t they trade names with the Utah team already? The New Orleans Jazz, the Utah Honey Bees. There, sorted.
  • 11d I’M BACK plus 39a STEP BACK? That’s too much BACK. I see from Wordplay that Evan originally had EMBARK at 11d, which gets rid of that dupe, but at the cost of including an NBA player who retired 18 years ago. Not Hall of Fame caliber, I don’t think? Meh.
  • 31a. [“Democracy in fashion,” per Giorgio Armani], JEANS. Great clue! So, too, is the clue for SPACE: 23a. [“The breath of art,” per Frank Lloyd Wright].
  • 20a. [One-named singer who was a muse for Andy Warhol], NICO. If you never bought the Velvet Underground and Nico album, you can listen to it here on YouTube. Nico sang lead vocals on “Femme Fatale,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror.” Banana cover art by Warhol.
  • 30a. [Looking at it a long time might make your head hurt], OP ART. I tried to fit CROSSWORD in here but it wouldn’t work.

Okay! I’m sleepy. Good night, and 4.25 stars from me.

Finn Vigeland’s BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s write-up

Another Friday, another wild themeless offered by Caleb at BuzzFeed. This one comes from Finn Vigeland and, while it’s not quite the tour de force that Paolo Pasco gave us last week (honestly, I’ll be comparing a lot of themelesses to that one for a long time), it’s still very good.

BuzzFeed - Fri, Oct 23, 2015

BuzzFeed – Fri, Oct 23, 2015

Check out that center with its staggered 11s of SWIPES RIGHT, SLEPT AROUND, and KEY AND PEELE. Modern, in-the-language, and smooth. (Nearly) all the verticals passing through the center are winners like LIL’ KIM, I’LL STAY, AIR DOCK, GO PRO (with it’s provocative clue), and I even like BRANG. It’s not until you get to JITNEY where I have to call foul. A regional bus line? Ouch. And the crossings on the J and Y were not obvious. So that was tough for me, but I got it in the end. Also, D-LISTERS is a bit roll-your-owny, but it works. It looks as though Finn has subscribed to the Patrick Berry method for making a themeless: build a strong, but wide-open center then work on each corner separately. I think I like the SW corner best with GAY SCENE, ORDER OUT, and SKI PANTS (which my brain wanted to parse SKIP ANTS). DINGOS and LADY DI are great crossers, but ACCRA, CREON, and A NUT are unfortunate side effects. The other corners are similarly solid but suffering from a couple of iffy entries. In the NW, H-TEST is holding it back, but everything else up there is nice. In the NE, BHT and IN OT are icky, but I like MAN BUN (though not MAN-BUNs; I mean, they’re nice and all, just not my thing…). And in the SE, FREE OF is legit I guess, but it’s just not as good as BAD SEX (I mean, what is, really?). SLY FOX is great, but couldn’t it have been SPY FOX, the secret agent star of the Humongous Entertainment kid computer games? It would have changed SIL to SIP—way better. Oh well, missed opportunities.

The cluing is much less wordy today than it was last week. I wonder if that’s a conscious effort by Caleb in response to some criticism. I’m sure it’s a fine line to walk—being personable without over-selling it. Still, another great themeless BuzzFeed puzzle. 4.25 stars from me. Oh, if you haven’t seen the Obama anger translator bit from this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, here’s a clip of this now-classic bit!

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 151023

LA Times

This is a rather basic theme (no weak pun intended), especially for a Friday. Four phrases begin with army ranks used in other senses. The only slight twist, is that the ranks are abbreviated in the grid. The phrases are kind of blah: GENKNOWLEDGE, PVTENTERPRISE, CPLPUNISHMENT and MAJDISCOVERY.

1A, [Locale of TV’s Krusty Krab restaurant] was strange. It wants to be Bikini Bottom, but actually it’s the generic SEABED.

I find the clue [Presumed threats to letter carriers] interesting. It’s such a well-worn media trope. I immediately think of Blondie, but it appears all-over. And yet, how common is it really? [Daily threats to vets] is a very accurate irl clue; especially when dealing with toy poms and landsharks, aka min pins!

Are you buying the clue / answer pair [“… according to my abilities”], ASICAN, because I am sceptical!

Anyone else have the [Hammer of baseball] as ROSEN first? Apparently that’s the >Hebrew< Hammer. My bad. And I was so happy to “know” a baseball answer.

[What a piece of work is a ___!”: Hamlet, MAN. Or, nearly, Hair!

Simple theme, but solidly made puzzle: 3.5 Stars
Gareth, leaving you with one of those songs that was hugely successful but usually features prominently in worst song of all time lists… Because.

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22 Responses to Friday, October 23, 2015

  1. Evan says:

    Thanks, Amy. Those two BACKs made me grumble a bit, though I understand that Craig EHLO at 11A might not have been the most familiar NBA player ever. He’s just one letter off the actress Jennifer EHLE, though, and he did guard Michael Jordan when Jordan hit “The Shot” in 1989. One of Michael’s top three shots of all time, no question.

  2. Mac says:

    De facto and De jure opposites?? Hardly. Not even close.

  3. David L says:

    The BACK dupe was a clunker, but otherwise a nice puzzle. I had trouble with BARQS and SUZYQ — the first I know only from crosswords, the second I don’t know at all.

    When I saw the clue “acts like a ham” I plunked in EMOTES and was already composing the complaint I wanted to write at this lame, trite clue for a lame, trite word — and then it turned out to be RADIOS. Nicely done!

  4. Xwordluvr says:

    OMG what an effin great puzz. “F-bomb!” Yesssss! And “fantasy football” and “LA Rams” and “sweet spots” to hit baseballs on and “LPGA” (one for the ladies!) and “end” like in football and “in O.T.” and superbowl party “dip” and “Pels” (love those “Pels”!). I pity all the olds who never drop an “F-bombs,” or do any “twerking,” (ick!) or watch Grey’s Anatomy, or use “Groupons”, or sip coffee in an Internet “café,” or hear “Dido,” or read Harry Potter—not! I laugh at those “wusses”! And I consult lexicographers about “usages” just like I consult meteorologists about weathers! When I meet people head on I hit them directly! So this was the puzz for me. If it had only had Ehlo who is like my fav Cav, and Soze, my Mom’s fav Kevin Spacey role, it woulda been totally awesome!

  5. Papa John says:

    What a wonderful Bob Klahn in the CS for today — not too hot, not too cold — just right!

    I’m not able to get the CHE, again, this week — “Page not found.”. I cleaned the cache in both Outlook and Firefox, but no luck. I think I had a work-around, last week, but I’ve forgotten how I did it.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Try looking at the comments from last Friday’s post, where you were given advice on what to try.

      • Brad says:

        Glad to do private e-mails whenever, John. I’m now privy to both and No CHE today because of a theme issue — those don’t produce the Review section that houses the puzzle.

        • Brad says:

          As long as you can get to site again, remember that others with problems like yours (opening the link gives you text/html) say they have gotten Across Lite to work by saving the puzzle and providing a file name AND the .puz extension themselves.

    • Gary R says:


      Since you liked the CS a lot, could you explain the theme? I managed to solve the puzzle, but can’t suss out what’s going on with the long acrosses. Given the title, I was looking for something involving Greek letters – but I’m not seeing it.


    • claudia says:

      Good anagrams, once I saw one of them. I was amazed at how long it took me to finally fall into “A relative” = THE, especially since I teach noun markers!! Nice work, Bob Klahn.

  6. Papa John says:

    Thanks. Of course, that was the day of the great transgender debate, so I had to wade through 55 posts, only to discover that it was different issue. I was getting the text format for the puzzle. This time I get “Page not found.” Arghh..!

    I’ve gotta run, right now. I’ll get back to this later today.

  7. Gareth says:

    Lots of great answers today Evan! Brad & I beat you to publication with DANCECRAZE by a few weeks. [Pulls face]

    • Gareth says:

      14d could’ve been [___ Fishing Owl (Kruger National Park birding special] – at least that would’ve made it a gimme for me. ;)

    • Evan says:

      Thanks. I remember seeing DANCE CRAZE in that puzzle and biting my lip just a bit. Not a big; now I’m wondering if there are five more puzzles in the NYT’s queue with F-BOMB in it.

  8. Kman23 says:

    Two suggestions for the NYT:

    MAGI and PILS (Pilsner, for short)
    IMBARK (alternate spelling) and SPARE

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Almost no dictionaries, according to, include IMBARK as a variant; if I saw that in a crossword, I would lambaste it. I like MAGI and PILS better than MAGE and PELS, but we’d need a pilsner-free clue so as not to give away the whole answer. [Czech-style beer from Lagunitas] could work … but anyone who’s never seen PILS as a short form of Pilsner could cry foul.

      • Kman23 says:

        True on the IMBARK front…not sure what is considered worse, having duplicate words in the puzzle or maybe IMBARK with (var.) in the clue? I guess either way it is asking for trouble.

      • Sam says:

        Haha MAGS/PSLS is also possible, too bad it’s not BuzzFeed.

  9. janie says:

    >…but couldn’t it have been SPY FOX, the secret agent star… Oh well, missed opportunities.

    ah — but then there’d have been the KGB SPY dupe (and i choose not to look BACK to the dupe in evan’s puzz…).

    there may be many fine puzzles out there today, but, so far, have only solved buzzfeed and the nyt. loved both. congrats, fellas (constructors and editors)!


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