Friday, November 6, 2015

NYT 4:12 (Amy) 


LAT 4:37 (Gareth) 


CS 9:33 (Ade) 


BuzzFeed 18:39 (Jim) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 6 15,  no 1106

NY Times crossword solution, 11 6 15, no 1106

Breezy puzzle if you like the “younger vibe” in crossword fill. Ian’s got a lot of spoken dialogue—THAT SAID, SAME HERE, I’M UP FOR WHATEVER, and NO BIG DEAL—and I like that when it doesn’t feel contrived. (It doesn’t here.) FALSE ALARM is also clued as a spoken phrase.

I also liked the PRILOSEC and SPEEDOS trade names, the ANGRY CURDS row in the grid, TETHERBALL, NEW YEAR’S, FOREIGNER clued as the band and not in reference to WORK VISA, The LEGO MOVIE, and BULWARK.

Did not know: 49a. [Word derived from another that has a related meaning, like “wisdom” from “wise”], PARONYM. I also didn’t watch 24, so 50d. [___ Myers, “24” character], NINA, that was just “random 4-letter name.” Question about CAR BARN/27d. [Bus and trolley shelter]—is that a British thing, or is it solidly American? Chicago has “bus barns.”

I’ll ding the grid for crosswordese ORIEL and YSER. I don’t love TSPS, IRES as a verb, or MR. ED (the show and character were spelled out at Mister Ed), but they didn’t menace my solving experience by actively annoying me.

I like the flexible clue for AMIE, 3d. [French date, often]. It’s not expressing a heteronormative expectation that our AMIE is dating a guy. She could have a girlfriend as well as being a girlfriend.

4.2 stars from me.

Andrew Ries’ BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s write-up

Themeless Friday at BuzzFeed! Today’s offering comes from Andrew Ries whose first initial and last name combine serendipitously into ARIES. (Wonder what his sign is.) And quite coincidentally, that’s the url for his own puzzle website ( If you like today’s BuzzFeed crossword, have a look at at today’s CHE puzzle (below) and Andrew’s website.

BuzzFeed - Fri, Nov 6, 2015 - Andrew Ries

BuzzFeed – Fri, Nov 6, 2015 – Andrew Ries

We have two marquee entries in the center of the grid: 27A‘s SUN’S OUT GUNS OUT is clued as [Motto on a muscle shirt] and 45A‘s VAMPIRE WEEKEND [“Contra” band]. I love the shirt motto though I’d never heard it before. Very colorful and evocative though I expect anyone who wears one must be extraordinarily self-centered.

[“Contra” band] is a great clue for the indie rockers whose second album is called “Contra.” I didn’t know the album (I’d barely heard of the band) before this puzzle, but I have since bought it and am enjoying listening to it. Fun and breezy tunes with Ezra Koenig’s warbling falsettos. The album was nominated for the Best Alternative Music Album Grammy for 2010. Its follow-up, “Modern Vampires in the City,” did win that Grammy in 2014 and is currently #6 on Pitchfork Media’s 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far.

Anyone else think Ezra Koenig looks like a young Justin Trudeau?

Anyone else think Ezra Koenig looks like a
younger Justin Trudeau?

Vertically in the center we have the odd but awesome pairing of UKULELE at 29D (a gimme for me with the clue [Instrument for Israel Kamakawiwo’ole]) and BAGPIPE at 20D (with the tough clue [Drone holder]). Would love to hear a UKULELE / BAGPIPE duet! Oh, wait!  I found one!

Beyond the center we have ULTIMATUMS at 28D [Dramatic negotiation enders] and BABY LOTION at 11D with the uncharacteristically staid clue [Johnson & Johnson product] (though maybe that’s not as staid as I think it is *snicker*).

The NW and SE corners have some nice entries with CHEAT DAY at 1A and OUTSHINE at 14A as well as FOR REALS, FREE RIDE, and TEXAS TEA at 61A, 64A, and 66A.

While all of that is nice, I had the feeling that there was too much reliance on short, crutchy stuff like DIS, ETAT, ASTER crossing ASTERN, IPO / LBO /AMO, OER, ACL, REI, PFFT, and what looks to be future crosswordese: CAIT. A themeless should have vast swaths of open white space and loads of interesting fill (see today’s NYT by Ian Livengood, for example). This one just didn’t quite make it. I got DEX thanks to my 7-year-old currently binge-watching all the old Pokémon shows on Netflix, but that’s not great fill, either.

So, some good stuff, but a bit too much reliance and lousy fill. 3.8 stars.

Let’s close it out with Iz’s famous song.

Andrew Ries’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “U. Can Have It Both Ways” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 11/06/15 • "U. Can Have It Both Ways" • Ries • solution

CHE • 11/06/15 • “U. Can Have It Both Ways” • Ries • solution

Another theme in the Chronicle’s sweet spot. Team/student representatives of colleges and universities paired with carefully chosen descriptors to create superficial oxymorons.

  • 17a. [Surprise! Harvey Mudd student found with a date!] ACCOMPANIED STAG.
  • 28a. [Surprise! Tennessee student found with a stipend check!] PAID VOLUNTEER.
  • 49a. [Surprise! Michigan State student found living the high life!] LAVISH SPARTAN.
  • 64a. [Surprise! Ole Miss student found dressed like everyone else!] CONFORMING REBEL.

Clever and entertaining theme. Harvey Mudd College strikes me as an institution with less—but still sufficient—recognizability than the others. Preceding 64-across with 60a [Ole Miss rival] BAMA may be deft, but I’m not dissuaded in my distaste for theme peas being touched by ballast mashed potatoes and gravy. nb: 56a [Old __ Bucket (Purdue–Indiana football prize] OAKEN does not impinge the same way, as it doesn’t reiterate a key element of a theme clue. Perhaps 23a NAG should have been clued so as not to evoke the University of Wisconsin [Badger]?

Speaking of which, how about IDAHO [State with a panhandle] and YUKON [Whitehorse’s territory] laid symmetrically in the center? That’s spiffy.

  • More Higher Education flavor: 26d [Org. opposed to school vouchers] NEA, 16a [College town bordering Bangor] ORONO, 62d [Lead-in to data or physics] META-, 50d [Stereotypical name for lab assistants] IGOR – okay, maybe not that one. … and probably not 14a [First circle on nine in Dante] LIMBO, either.
  • c_sogge_jhuTrickiness right at the get-go: 1a [Presidential loser in ’96, ’00, and ’08] BRYAN. That’s William Jennings BRYAN, at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Further tricks that I fell for: 9a [Salmon also known as “silvers”] COHOS – despite the plural in the alternative name, I resolutely interpreted salmon as singular. 25a [Wound] INJURY – noun, not a verb; only by seeing the curious SOGGE at 13d was I able to uncover the solving error. At least for once I wasn’t fooled by the stalwart [Flight units] STEPS at 71a; it was probably the use of ‘unit’ rather than a more deceptive or ambiguous word, such as ‘parts’. On the other hand, I guilelessly filled in DAMP for 7d [Clammy], neglecting to realize that DANK also works. At 29d I thought [Jim-dandy] might also be a rustic epithet and filled in PONE rather than A-ONE.
  • 55a [Suffix with harlequin] -ADE. Now that’s some highfalutin cluin’.
  • 43a [Immaculate] PURE, 52a [Not immaculate, maybe] RAGTAG. Interesting that ‘parity’ appears in the clue immediately following PURE; is it intended to be a subliminal hint via ‘purity’?
  • Long downs are [What Keystone Kops are often seen in] HOT PURSUIT and [Purchase made with mad money, say] INDULGENCE.

    nb: Not Keystone Cops

Very solid crossword puzzle.

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Prime Time”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.06.15: "Prime Time"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.06.15: “Prime Time”

Good morning and a happy Friday to you, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, takes us to math class, as each of the four theme answers are all 15-letter entries that start with numbers, which all happen to be the first four prime numbers in order. Not bad. Wouldn’t it have been something, however, if one of the entries was “SIXTY-SEVEN CHEVY”?

  • TWO FOR THE SEE SAW (17A: [1962 MacLaine/Mitchum film])
  • THREE MILE ISLAND (29A: [1979 nuclear accident location])
  • FIVE O’CLOCK WORLD (45A: [1966 Vogues hit tune about working])
  • SEVEN DEADLY SINS (57A: [Lust, envy, etc.]) – There was a time I could remember all seven and recite them like nothing. My quickly-eroding memory might not be able to do so right now!

Seeing CORSAGE, and its clue, reminded me that I never went to my high school prom (43D: [Prom night item]). It was tough being a nerd with strict parents who didn’t want me out any later than 10 PM, I tell you!  Maybe, one day, I’ll make up for missing that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Umm, probably not! Was pretty much UNFAZED by all of the clues here, though the solve took a little slower than I first thought after I finished up (4D: [Not worried at all]). I had gotten familiar with the sailing terminology of “tack” when I had worked on a couple of sailing/yachting stories and met with boaters, and that knowledge made ZIGZAGS not too much of a problem at all (22A: [Tacks, at sea]). The four three-letter entries bisecting the grid going across makes for an interesting sight, with none of those answers really standing out. So, on Thanksgiving, the movie Creed is coming out, with Sylvester Stallone reprising the role of Rocky Balboa and training Adonis Creed, the son of the late rival of Rocky, Apollo Creed. So how long before the son (or other descendant) of MR. T‘s character, Clubber Lang, be part of this saga as well (6D: [“Rocky III” actor])? Been hearing some good things about Creed so far, so maybe I’ll give it a look after I’m stuffed with Thanksgiving turkey.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SNOW (55D: [Winter coat]) – Former National Hockey League goaltender Garth SNOW is the current general manager of the New York Islanders. I always remember Snow from his days with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1990s, when he would routinely wear the biggest shoulder pads of any goaltender in the league by far. It was almost as if he was wearing football shoulder pads on top of his hockey shoulder pads. Here’s just one example…

Did Snow stack bricks on top of his shoulders??

Did Snow stack bricks on top of his shoulders??

Thank you all for the time, and have a good weekend!! See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Victor Barocas’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 151106

LA Times 151106

Figured the answer and thus most of the theme out after staring at the first clue for a few seconds. Clues are alphabetical (is this the Commonwealth standard word? ALPHABETIZED sounds weird to me, and it was the last thing I had to change to complete the puzzle!) lists of the letters in the second word of the theme phrases. The first part is one of three synonyms: ARRANGED, ORDERED and SORTED. The revealer further clarifies that the lists of letters are ALPHABETIZED.

Furthermore, the answers, all 16’s, themselves make a top-notch set:

  • [ADEHLNRTUY], SORTEDTHELAUNDRY. Yes this leans slightly down the “green paint” spectrum (which is of course a continuum rather than a Boolean classification), but only slightly.

Good choices in the longer fill too: STAYONHOLD, DAYTRIPPER, BEEFCAKE, SHARIA. BEREAVED though I’m not sure I’d use in a puzzle myself!

Fun fact in the clues: [___ Plantation, site of the world’s largest maze]. How high can pineapples grow??? Olaf clue of the day: [Heavyweight champ between Buster and Riddick], EVANDER. Don’t recognize either name, but with an E in place, it was only going to be that! [Paige of British musical theatre], ELAINE was also a singularly unhelpful clue for me. Any fans of hers? I only saw the ‘theatre’ spelling now – it just looked correct when I was solving!

4.5 Stars

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15 Responses to Friday, November 6, 2015

  1. tom says:

    Car barn is a railroading term for the building in which trollies are stored when they’re not in use.

  2. lemonade714 says:

    I really liked the CHE but cluing with a California college with less than 1000 students when Fairfield University also is the Stage seems unnecessarily obscure. The fill became obvious once PAID VOLUNTEER appeared. Anyway, should we all go learn about HMC?

    Oh, ok maybe we should. LINK

    • Phil says:

      Only an Easterner would say that Harvey Mudd, one of the Claremont Colleges, is more obscure than Fairfield. Harvey Mudd would be quite well known to the CHE audience.

    • john farmer says:

      Harvey Mudd is in Southern Calif., one of the Claremont Colleges, which includes four other undergraduate schools (Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Scripps) and two graduate schools (Claremont Graduate University, Keck Graduate Institute). They’re all pretty well regarded and probably fairly well known to the CHE readership. (I attended the Drucker School, part of CGU.)

      The Claremont Colleges are not formally affiliated with the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank, though a number of scholars and professors are associated with both.

    • Shawn P says:

      Hailing from the Midwest, but now living on the East Coast, I can say that I have heard of Harvey Mudd and not Fairfield, though both are obscure when it comes to school mascots. I had no idea that either were known as the Stags as I don’t recall either team playing in a bowl game or in either the men’s or women’s NCAA tournament. It seems to throw the elegance off a bit as the other three are well know in that regard. The NE corner of the grid was easy enough to fill and the overall puzzle was fun. Maybe something like SLENDER HUSKY (University of Connecticut or Washington), HUMBLE CAVALIER (Virginia), or maybe HELPFUL BADGER (Wisconsin) would remove the “one of these things is not like the other” vibe that I got. I know that none of these clues is symmetrical to the puzzle, but those are what I came up with off the top of my head.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: terrific puzzle! Easy, breezy, even for an old person, yet interesting and fun. Genius.

    • Evad says:

      I’ll second that emotion. 5 star effort for sure!

    • David L says:

      What did you think of NEURON as ‘cell transmitter’? It seems forced to me, but if it didn’t bother you I am willing to let it go…

      I don’t think CARBARN is a British term at all. Maybe it’s regional. The only time I have come across it is in the name of a condo development in DC on the fringes of Capitol Hill. It used to be, I suppose, a depot for buses or trams or something.

      Good puzzle. On behalf of pedants everywhere, I want to point out that little Miss Muffet was eating curds and whey, not just curds. In either case, yuck. Why would you consume milk that’s turned?

  4. dgkelly says:

    NEURON seems more like a transmitter cell than a cell transmitter to me.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Yup. I looked at that, thought “nah, can’t be”, got some crossings, and shrugged. The clue seems forced.

  5. Gary R says:

    Started the NYT last night when I was tired, and I was really struggling with it. This morning, it was still crunchy, but a nice steady solve – just right for a Friday.

    All of the phrases in the puzzle are ones I use at least occasionally, and I’m nearly 60, so it didn’t seem like a “younger vibe” to me – just nice, in-the-language phrases, well-clued.

    Google’s ngram viewer suggests that CAR BARN was much more popular in the early 1900s when, I suspect, people had not yet settled on “garage” as the place they kept their cars. In recent years, garage is about 1000 times as common. Also, car barn is 4-5 times as common as bus barn, which surprised me.

  6. Art Shapiro says:

    CHE: I really wasn’t familiar with that article of clothing, the HOTPUR SUIT.

    Oh well.

  7. Harry says:

    LAT was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time!! Kudos to Victor!!

  8. Art Shapiro says:

    As nobody commented on Gareth’s unfamiliarity with Buster, Riddick, and Evander:

    Buster Douglas’ knockout of Mike Tyson was one of the most astonishing upsets in the history of boxing. Riddick Bowe was another heavyweight champion, perhaps as boxing was starting its decline. And Evander Holyfield’s ear was the victim of Tyson’s attempt to be a cannibal.

  9. Anon says:

    LAT: Many Americans’ introduction to the existence of Elaine Paige came from the famous 2009 viral Youtube video:

    Simon Cowell (to Susan Boyle): “Who would you like to be as successful as?”
    Susan Boyle: “Elaine Paige, somebody like that.”

    Elaine actually originated the title role in ‘Evita’, and Grizabella in ‘Cats’ (among many roles over a long career) and is hugely famous in the UK.

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