Sunday, November 29, 2015

NYT 9:18 (Amy) 


LAT 8:18 (Jenni) 


Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 


CS approx. 23 mins (Ade) 


(Reagle, original write-up from 29 Nov 2009)

Alex Vratsanos’s New York Times crossword, “Four-Letter Words”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 29 15 "Four-Letter Words"

NY Times crossword solution, 11 29 15 “Four-Letter Words”

Typically, I do not at all care for themes where the theme answers are the sort of phrases that would normally appear in the clues. Most such themes have short clues that would normally be the sort of entries signaled by clues, so the usual order is reversed but the whole thing bores me. This riff on that concept–including the shorter “clue words” as the 4-letter words in the grid’s corners and combining them in various permutations to clue the long theme entries–works much better, in my book. An extra layer of puzzling to work out as you proceed through the grid. I don’t usually try to fill in the bottom of the grid before I’ve naturally worked my way down, but had to change my approach here. Didn’t work back and forth between the 4-letter clue halves and the theme entries–mostly used the crossings to fill in the themers–but it comes together well enough.

OVER + HEAD = an EXPENSE TYPE, adding the first and second 4-letter words together. The theme layout is incredibly orderly, cycling through OVER + the third and then fourth 4s (LONG and SHOT), then HEAD cycles through the words that come after it (HEAD + LONG and HEAD + SHOT), and then finally LONG pairs with SHOT for NOT A GOOD BET. This sequencing is better than having the words paired in a haphazard fashion.

In the 1-Across corner, at first I scowled a bit at the OJAI/JOVI crossing, But EVE’S BAYOU–which introduced child actress Jurnee Smollett (her brother, Jussie Smollett, is one of the stars of Empire) and RICE-A-RONI’s full name (for a change) redeemed the puzzle and made me more favorably disposed to what followed. I also like EUPHORIA (who doesn’t?), SANITIZER (don’t call me a germophobe just because I need to kill germs!), CHILI DOG, and OPEN BAR.

There was some fill I didn’t care for–ETUI, say, and IRONERS and SMEE.

Question for our house physicians: What do you think of cluing 39d: IMAGER as [Radiologist, e.g.]? I’ve had plenty of diagnostic imaging done, but I can’t recall any time that the radiologist performed the imaging, as opposed to reading the images later. Radiologic technicians, sonographers–those are your IMAGERs, no? Or the machines themselves?

Never heard of Bobby LAYNE or these odd little PEARLFISH that live inside (!) oysters  (though Wikipedia mentions clams, not oysters). Please note that the pearlfish may also inhabit the anal pore of a sea cucumber, and if that isn’t insult enough to the sea cucumber, they may also eat the cuke’s gonads. The nerve!

3.8  stars from me.

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

CRooked • 11/29/15 • "Jazz Mix" • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 11/29/15 • “Jazz Mix” • Cox, Rathvon • hex/hook, bg • solution

Well here’s a happy little theme for me. Puns riffing off the names of jazz personages.

  • 27a. [Game for a swinging musician?] BASIE BALL (baseball). Count Basie. Reminiscent of Garrett Morris’ Chico Escuela.
  • 29a. [Jazzman’s seasonal tune?] DJANGO BELLS (“Jingle Bells”). Django Reinhardt.
  • 45a. [Tatum breaking new ground?] MODERN ART {no spelling change}. Art Tatum.
  • 47a. [Bird getting meddlesome?] NOSY PARKER {no spelling change}. Charlie Parker, aka ‘Yardbird” aka ‘Bird’.
  • 61a. [Trumpeter’s sped up career?] FOUR-MINUTE MILES {no spelling change}. Miles Davis.
  • 80a. [Item in a jazz singer’s golf bag?] BILLIE CLUB (billy club). Billie Holiday.
  • 82a. [Mania for a jazz singer?] ELLA FEVER (yellow fever). Ella Fitzgerald.
  • 94a. [Bebopper’s juju?] DIZZY SPELLS {no spelling change}. Dizzy Gillespie.
  • 99a. [Item in a bandleader’s golf bag?] CAB DRIVER {no spelling change}. Cab Calloway. Another golf pun?

Nota BENE (101d): I’ve listed the most prominent and likely jazz people. Hence no DJANGO Bates, Ron MILES, William PARKER, et ALIA (6d).

1a [Mingus’s instrument] BASS, 14a [Jazz jargon] JIVE, 24a [Brothers who sang “Glow Worm”] MILLS (they performed in both jazz and pop idioms), 74a [Jazz leads] SOLOS, 92a [Jazzy drum] CONGA, 80d [Harry Lillis Cosby, Jr.] BING (he sometimes performed in a jazz idiom, but for the bulk of his career was mostly advised not to). 10a [Coal porter] TRAM; not jazzy per se, but Cole Porter’s compositions were definitely part of the so-called American Songbook, fodder for much of jazz standards. 52a [Musical tapper?] TOE. In jazz, an AXE is more likely to be a saxophone than a [Guitar, slangily] (91a).

  • 3d [Septet in an idiom] SEAS. But no such qualifier for 5a [Creator of errors] HASTE, which I feel requires it more.
  • 20a [Avuncular raconteur] REMUS; 67d [20-Across, for one] UNCLE. 33d [Role for Gielgud at 90] LEAR; 11d [A daughter of 33-Down] REGAN.
  • 53a [Starry ram] ARIES; 65a [May baby, maybe] TAURUS.
  • 77a [Biology beginner] EXO-. But I had ECO-, which is not as good an answer for the clue (as well as not being correct); this was my final correction before getting the green light from the solving app.
  • 89a [Did some cleaning] DUSTED; 92d [Untainted] CLEAN.
  • 94d [Robotic rock band] DEVO. Because KRAFTWERK wouldn’t fit.
  • Long non-theme answers: SANITARY, TOLL GATES, PISTACHIO, CAST IRON.
  • Finally, 19a [Medleys] OLIOS. Kind of like a jazz mix.

Good puzzle, but not super-exciting.

Okay, I simply can’t leave it with the only linked music—especially for this theme—as the Gypsy Hombres, and a Christmas song to boot! It isn’t even December yet.

Some justice needs be applied.

Bob Klahn’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 11.29.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 11.29.15

Good day, everyone, and hope you’re enjoying your last Sunday before December.

Can’t stay too long as I’m doing more reporting on location (Landover, MD), but just wanted to say that today’s Klahn special was definitely easy on the solver. (Well, at least I’m directing that comment to those who are used to solving Klahn puzzles.) Personally, the best answer for me was the first one I entered, SAM THE SHAM (1A: [“Wooly Bully” singer]). Knew that in a heartbeat, and initially wanted to type in “The Pharaohs.” But was definitely on that, especially since the song is on regular rotation on the iPod. The two across entries immediately below it were gettable, ALOHA STATE (15A: [Nickname established in 1959]) and ROBERT E LEE (17A: [Steamboat of song]), with SARI breaking those open for me (1D: [Sad-sounding attire]). Actually, my favorite entry was PIRATE SHIP, especially with the clue given referencing the ship that Blackbeard was on (12D: [Queen Anne’s Revenge, for one]). Only real hangup for me was UP-BOW, as I’m not up on my strings as I should be (25D: [V, to concertmasters]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOOTH (34A: [“Sic semper tyrannis” shouter])– Today’s entries were real short on answers that I could give a sports tinge, so I’ll just give a quick shoutout to former NBA player Calvin BOOTH, a forward/center who played his collegiate ball at Penn State (graduated in 1999) and then played 11 seasons in The Association. He was drafted in the second round of the 1999 Draft by the Washington Wizards.

See you all on Monday!

Take care!


Gary Schlapfer and C.C. Burnikel’s Sunday LA Times crossword, “Man to Man” — Jenni’s write-up

I love it when my morning Email from Google Calendar says “There are no events scheduled for you today”. That means a leisurely Sunday with coffee and puzzles – and today a bonus of leftover pumpkin-maple-orange cinnamon buns. Yum.

Gary Schlapfer and C.C. Burnikel's LAT puzzle, "Man to Man," 11.29.15

Gary Schlapfer and C.C. Burnikel’s LAT puzzle, “Man to Man,” 11.29.15

There’s nothing tricky about this puzzle. The theme entries kind of snuck up on me. Each one is a word or phrase in which the word “man” can be substituted for the second part.

SUPERPAC—->SUPERMAN (a definite improvement)
IRONHORSE—->IRONMAN (Lou Gehrig to Robert Downey, Jr. From strength to strength.)

Both the originals and the substitutions are in the language. Satisfying.

A few random notes:

  • “Healthy bar creations” at 1A is SALADS. Not all salad-bar salads are healthy. I can load mine down with croutons and bacon bits and yummy dressing. And then I laugh.
  • My first answer for 15D, “dating scene returnee”, was DIVORCE, which I figured was the male version of “divorcée”. Turned out to be WIDOWER.
  • Don’t ask me how I knew that a HODAD is a “surfer wannabe”, but I did.
  • There was an olden-days feel to this puzzle with Lillian GISH and INKA-dinka-doo and Buck Rogers and his RAYGUN; modern flair showed up with SNARF.
  • When I saw “Pandora’s inventory”, I first thought of music and then of beads before I filled in ILLS.
  • I learned something! “Cheroot” and “curry” entered the English language from the TAMIL tongue.

All in all, a smooth Sunday solve without much crosswordese. 4 stars from me.

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15 Responses to Sunday, November 29, 2015

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    For a while this puzzle seemed OVER my HEAD. Luckily I got a handle on it before LONG. Otherwise my nerves would be SHOT.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    Excellent Klahn Sunday Challenge today. Very fast and smooth. Bob took it easy with his definitions this time. Well worth your time – 4.5 stars from me.

    • Norm says:

      Eh. He wasn’t as annoying as usual, but “long way for a runner”? No. I have one in a very short HALL. “Bombard[]” is not a word I would associate with TP-ing. You loft the rolls up to unroll; you do not not pelt or attack. And, why is TWO CENTS an “unwelcome opinion”? It’s usually a politely offered one: If I could offer my two cents worth. Well, that’s my two cents worth, and if it’s unwelcome, so be it. This was not the worst Klahn ever [God knows that there have plenty in the running for that title], but it was still annoying in his inimitable fashion.

  3. Steve Price says:

    re: “Never heard of Bobby LAYNE:”

    [from “Top Ten Spooky Sports Curses”]
    Quarterback Bobby Layne led the Detroit Lions to three NFL Championships (1952,1953,1957). Despite this, the Lions, thinking he was past his prime, traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958. As Layne left, he reportedly declared that Detroit would not win for 50 years. Over those 50 years, the Lions have had the worst winning percentage of any NFL team and had a single post-season victory (1991). On the 50th anniversary of the trade, the curse went out with a bang as the Lions became the first NFL team to go 0-16.

  4. sbmanion says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle and the theme. I wasn’t crazy about NOT A GOOD BET for longshot. NOT LIKELY or NOT A GOOD CHANCE would be more accurate. A longshot could be a very good bet if the chances of winning were greater than the odds. Bettors constantly look for opportunities that for whatever reason have long odds that the bettor thinks should be lower.


  5. Gary R says:

    Enjoyed the NYT. Clever theme, I thought, and pretty good fill. It’s the first Sunday I’ve bothered to finish in several weeks – they often just seem tedious.

    I’m not any kind of authority, but I agree with Amy on IMAGER. I had “reader” for a long time, which slowed things down in that area of the puzzle. I was also thrown off by the spelling of CAPEESH – don’t think I’ve seen it spelled that way before.

    Steve, I see your point on LONG SHOT, but I interpreted the answer in more general (non-gambling) terms – like “I wouldn’t bet on it,” so it worked okay for me.

  6. Jenni Levy says:

    As one of the resident docs, although decades away from actually being a resident, I agree with Amy. IMAGER was one of the last words to fall because I kept wanting it to be something else. IMAGER is sort of a roll-your-own, anyway.

  7. pannonica says:

    An IMAGER is a thing, not a person. Not that a word can’t apply to both things and people, you understand.

  8. I agree with the IMAGER assessments. I was thinking XRAYER for a while, which wasn’t great either. Generally the radiology techs / sonographers perform the imaging, with big exceptions being ER physicians doing focused ultrasound for trauma patients, orthopedic surgeons in some settings like the ER, and OB-GYNs performing some ultrasounds in the office. I’m sure there are other instances, but by and large the techs get the pictures and the radiologist interprets them.

  9. Michael says:

    Like the clue for CLOT a few months ago, the clue for IMAGER is an another example of a medical clue miscue. I have yet to meet a radiologist who would leave his/her basement dungeon for more than three and a half seconds, let alone do the imaging him/herself. What matters most, though, is no patients were harmed during the clue writing process. :)

  10. Bob says:

    One LAT def bothered me -not because it is incorrect but that it SHOULD be:Ritalin target= ADHD. Over the last decade studies have warned against the use of this drug on ADHD children for two reasons: a miriad of side affects and the over use of it for the wide spectrum of ADHD children. I speak as a parent of an ADHD child (now grown).

  11. Argyle says:

    Gary Schlapfer and C.C. Burnikel’s LAT puzzle, “Man to Man,” two men. Man can follow both parts of the theme entries.

  12. Shawn P says:

    LAT: I agree with Argyle that both words can lead “man” as in CHAIRman, DOORman, etc. For me, SKIS crossing SKI PATROL at the K kind of bummed me out, especially since SKIS was an early fill for me and I figured that there was no way that they would cross SKI with SKIS.

  13. Vic says:

    Easy fix, looks like, on the SKI dupe. Change ATMS to either ATOP or ATIP.

  14. RAD says:

    Agree both halves get MAN added on. How ironic that Gloria STEINEM featured in such a manly puzzle. WIDOWER was a little depressing, but another masculine entry. Thought ROSE TEA disconcerting with AXL Rose clue.

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