Sunday, December 6, 2015

NYT 9:55 (Amy) 


LAT 6:51 (Andy) 


Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 


CS 18:56 (Ade) 


(Reagle, original write-up from 6 Dec 2009)

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “With Drawl”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 6 15 "With Drawl"

NY Times crossword solution, 12 6 15 “With Drawl”

Thanks to Matt Gaffney for filling in for me last night.

Don’t miss Matthew Kassel’s Observer article about Patrick Berry.

Patrick lives in Georgia and surely is exposed to more drawls than I am, but not all of these drawl-based pronunciation theme answers work for me. Here they all are:

  • 24a. [How you might classify a blade, a gas tank cap or a starter handle?], JUST ONE MOWER THING. “More” drawled out into two-syllable “mower.”
  • 27a. [Reason to stay only at Hiltons or Marriotts?], FEAR OF HYATTS. Wait. Don’t people with a Southern drawl pronounce the long I sound as more of an “ah” sound? Turning “fear of heights” into “fear of hahts”?
  • 45a. [Mob that disturbs the peace in new and interesting ways?], CREATIVE RIOTERS. Again, long I in “writers” would skew more towards “rotters,” no? Another issue here: “creative writing” is a much better base phrase than “creative writers.”
  • 61a. [Attractive blacksmith at a stable?], PRETTY SHOER. Sure.
  • 75a. [Municipal leaders who work the late shift?], NIGHT MAYORS. Nightmares. Although the drawled I in NIGHT would make it “naht mayors” if all syllables got drawled out. Instead, it’s one syllable that changes, and it’s not always found at the end of its phrase.
  • 91a. [Troy, in the “Iliad”?], PRIAM REAL ESTATE. “Prime” to PRIAM works better for me, maybe because I’m hearing PRIAM drawled too. “Prah-am.”
  • 109a. [Smallest possible aspirin dose?], BAYER MINIMUM. Bare.
  • 113a. [Normandy’s coat of arms, basically?], DOUBLE YELLOW LIONS. Lines, another long I play. Whoa, did any of you know what Normandy’s coat of arms looked like? I guess “double yellow lines” is in the language of The Rules of the Road, but it’s not a phrase I see much.

The partial stacking of the top and bottom pairs of themers is pretty.

Five more things:

  • 4d. [Front-wheel-drive coupling, for short], CV JOINT. I have no idea what this is, and worked the crossings for it.
  • 65a. [Food service giant based in Houston], SYSCO. Sometimes used as a pejorative, as in “The only Italian restaurant in our town is Sysco Italian.”
  • Top fill: POLE VAULT, EVANSTON, GOLDENEYE, SEE ‘N SAY (you know you want to watch a 2-minute YouTube with all the See ‘n Say farm animal sounds—or this video of a messed-up See ‘n Say).
  • 74d. [Unchecked growth], RAMPANCY. Not sure I’ve seen this form of the word before.
  • 56d. [Missouri’s original capital], ST. CHARLES. You don’t say. I didn’t know there was a St. Charles, Missouri. No love for the first magenta Monopoly property, St. Charles Place?

3.8 stars from me. The use of “drawl” to describe the vowel changes threw me off, and the theme answers didn’t really amuse me at all.

Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Second Shift”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 12.6.15 "Second Shift," by Gail Grabowski

LAT Puzzle 12.6.15 “Second Shift,” by Gail Grabowski

Always a pleasure to see Gail’s byline. A very simple theme this week (one that I’m sure I’ve seen before, but am unable to place when/where): Switch the second and third letters of a word to make a completely different phrase. Hilarity ensues, somewhat legitimately:

  • 23a, SLAT SHAKER [Gust that rattles the blinds?]. Salt shaker.
  • 25a, CRONY JOKES [Humor among buddies?]. Corny jokes.
  • 44a, TRAINING BAR [Where mixologists learn the ropes?]. Training bra.
  • 55a, STOCK PLIÉ [Commonplace ballet technique?]. Stockpile.
  • 76a, WRAP SPEED [Holiday season store statistic?]. Warp speed.
  • 84a, HIDDEN FLIES [Buzzers that can’t be seen?]. Hidden files.
  • 108a, COMMON CLOD [Ordinary dolt?]. Common cold.
  • 110a, WOOD CRAVER [Termite?]. Wood carver. I love when puns like these can work with one-word clues.
  • 37d, BLOT CUTTERS [Tools for removing reputation stains?]. Bolt cutters. This was the only theme entry that didn’t really land for me, humorwise.
  • 40d, CRAB COUNTER [Complaint department?]. Carb counter.

Ten solid theme answers in this one, which means there’s not going to be a lot of long fill elsewhere in the grid. There is the nice LONE WOLF crossing STAR WARS, but that’s about it. “NICE TAN” made me chuckle, as it’s one of those things it’s really hard to imagine someone saying earnestly. “TASTE IT” [Mom’s mealtime encouragement] also sounds strange to me — “try it” has to be widely preferred, right? (Also, why not Dad?)

With this much theme, there’s bound to be a couple of iffy patches, but there really wasn’t any thing too bad in this one: maybe the partial I REST on top of CIR, or NCO stacked on ST. LO. I’ll never get used to Tom SNEVA‘s name, and that crossing with NAVI is probably going to stump a lot of solvers. ABBA and AABA. I admit that I forgot REGIS hosted “America’s Got Talent” for a season.

Fun stuff, and well suited to the Sunday LAT. Until next time!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “With Style” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 12/6/15 • "With Style" • Quigley, hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 12/6/15 • “With Style” • Quigley, hex/hook, bg • solution

The title’s relevant interpretation is something like, “with an infusion of art”. That is, more literally, add the three letters A-R-T to phrases for wackified results.

  • 24a. [Page size chosen to impress one’s peers?] STATUS QUARTO (status quo).
  • 31a. [Pour drinks mid-street?] BARTEND IN THE ROAD (bend in the road).
  • 45a. [Features of a hieroglyphic pop-up book?] FOLD-OUT CARTOUCHES (fold-out couches). 
  • 65a. [One gin drink after another?] MARTINI SERIES (miniseries).
  • 78a. [Coffee-flavored fruit pastry?] JAVA APPLE TART (Java applet).
  • 96a. [High times in the henhouse?] CHICKEN POT PARTIES (chicken pot pies).
  • 108a. [“QB Wilson, begin again!”] RUSSELL, START OVER (Russell Stover).
  • 122a. [Get composer Bela out of jail?] SPRING BARTÓK (spring break).

cartoucheryA common theme type, and with entertaining answers. It does demonstrate how theme answers can easily and arbitrarily be malleated via pluralization to fit the lengths dictated by the grid. For better or worse, lo! like a double-edged sword forged in the smithies of … you know, I’m going to abandon that ludicrous metaphor right now. Hey look over there, a cheesy cartouche!

  • Those stacked eights in the upper left and lower right corners are quite nifty: COLONIAL, ALOPECIA, RIVETERS | BETATRON, LAUREATE, EDGAR LEE Masters.
  • In one of the other corners, more than a little surprised not to see a var. qualifier for 129a [Really small] TEENTSY. I mean, just look at the minuscule showing it has in an Ngram comparison.
  • Gratuitous dupe: 34d [Au courant] HOT, 114d [Like hot YouTube clips] VIRAL. Less conspicuous is 62a [Gospel author] ST MARK and 93d [Political blog founded by Markos Moulitsas] DAILY KOS (nice full-name entry, incidentally).
  • 50a [Strand at a crime scene] RNA. Factual clue, but the image it presents—at least to me—is ridiculous. Detective carefully holding up a single strand of the stuff with a pencil, as if it were a length of fiber. Or even a suited-up tech with forceps, but doing the same thing. Maybe it’s intentionally ridiculous.
  • Recondite stuff: 74d “Heidi” author] SPYRI, 79d [Needle-shaped] ACEROSE, 17d [Historic Quebec city] SOREL.
  • 98d [“The __ Club” of ‘70s–‘80s TV] PTL. Don’t know why this invariably makes me think of Johnny Rotten’s band PIL.
  • 109d [Place to get shellacked] SPA. Manicures, nails.
  • So many people outside of my ken. 2d [‘60s–‘70s Twins star Tony] OLIVA, 107d [Journalist Tumulty] KAREN, 110d [TV actrees Hyland] KAREN. Okay, only three (plus Johanna SPYRI, née Heusser). But I really didn’t know them.
  • Favorite clues: 58a [Pay to play, e.g.] RHYME, 105a [Specialized product] BIKE.
  • Dense aitchy exclamation spot: 76d {[Gulp!]} UH-OH crossed by 83a [“Now that’s clear”] AHA, which is followed by 87a [“Well, why not?”] OH SURE. Then a little way over and down, 120a [“That’s the ticket!”] YEAH.

Yeah, I guess I’m done writing. Fun crossword.

(Featuring the astonishing construction, “What AM I’M gonna do?”)

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

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 12.06.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 12.06.15

Good day, everyone. Before anything else, let’s wish today’s constructor, Mr. Tony Orbach, a very happy birthday today!!

Second of all, let’s talk about Tony’s fine grid today, which includes some great longer fill, with one of them allowing me to tear through this grid the second I inputted it without any crossings. (Obviously, since I haven’t mentioned it, it must be sports related and will be mentioned later on in this blog.) Oh, and from the “I was just talking about it” department, hello CASSANDRA (29D: [Ignored prophet of Troy]). Was reading an article the other day that talked about Apollo and giving Cassandra the gift of prophecy but, eventually, the curse of having no one believing her. Also read about Icarus, too, and I’m wondering if, of the two, I would rather be a prophet that no one believes or have wings but have them melt because of flying too close to the sun. I’m sure Sisyphus is reading this and saying, “Try pushing a boulder up a mountain for ever and ever!”

I honestly thought there was an error in the grid, as I believed that WIP was not the correct spelling as part of the whip cream product (25A: [Reddi-___]). Thought the “h” was in the spelling, but I guess I haven’t seen the iconic red-and-white can spray can in a while. I have heard of doping up, but not DOPE OUT before, as that must be dated terminology (22A: [Suss, in slang]). Would talk a whole lot more about the grid, including a story of how I met a a couple who are LOCAVORES on a plane about six years ago, but I have to save it, for now, as I have to do the whole reporting thing from a football game now (13D: [Farm-to-table advocates]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LEON SPINKS (17A: [One of a pair of brothers who held world heavyweight championships]) – Slam dunk for me, and the first answer filled in. In 1978, Leon Spinks upset Muhammad Ali to become the heavyweight champion of the world. In 1985, his younger brother, Michael Spinks, defeated Larry Holmes to win the IBF Heavyweight Championship. I just read a recent story of Leon, as well as his amazing wife, as Leon has been suffering from the effects of brain trauma and other ailments that have occurred as as a result of his boxing career. Here’s the link, and it’s a pretty good (yet heartbreaking) read…

See you tomorrow!


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20 Responses to Sunday, December 6, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: The theme grew on me the further I solved because I know someone form Alabama who sounds just like that. I think it’s pretty regional, but there’s an exaggerated version of a southern accent that this really renders…
    The accent business is interesting to me. I was just in Kuwait where there is a mix of people who speak Arabic from different backgrounds. Some I could understand perfectly and others were almost a complete mystery. And it’s not by country, either. It’s regional within countries, even within some tiny ones. Makes having a formal version of the language very helpful.
    I was surprised when I came to the US to realize what a range there was. I had expected the American accent to be more homogenous, with the country being relatively newer, and having more interregional movement.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Huda, many years ago, in a poolroom in NYC, the person I was shooting with told me he was taking truck driving lessons, and among other things, was learning how to pocket. It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about.

      On another occasion, I was renting a car in Huntsville, Alabama. The young lady behind the counter asked me if I was getting awakened right. I didn’t know if this was some strange come-on, or whether she was offering me an alarm clock, or what. I finally figured out that she had said “a weekend rate.” And we haven’t even gotten to Louisiana yet.

      Incidentally, isn’t is “Genovese?”

      • Huda says:

        I’m glad to hear that it sometimes throws others for a loop. When I got here and met my husband-to-be’s southern family, they must have thought I was rather dim. They were very sweet to me anyhow:)

        And they tried to teach me how to say “olive oil” with the “right accent”. I still can’t come anywhere near a southern “awl”

  2. Martin says:

    CV joint is short for constant-velocity joint. It solves a problem with independent suspension: insuring the driven wheels don’t change speed as the angle between their axles and the driving shaft changes. It’s a tricky problem with an ingenious solution.

    The clue implies that front-wheel drive needs them because the front wheels have to be independently suspended, but modern rear-wheel drive cars use them too.

    Most car owners become aware of them only when the rubber boots that protect them tear, allowing dirt into the joint which destroys it quickly.

  3. Evan says:

    Ah, good ol’ EVANSTON. I went to elementary school there for a brief time. Hand up for having no idea about the CV JOINT.

    So, I hope you’ll forgive the shameless plug — I won’t make a habit of it, I promise — but my first Sunday puzzle for the Washington Post Magazine is now live! It’s called “Heroes Welcome.” Solve, comment, enjoy, whatever you like. Here’s hoping I can carry Merl’s torch well.

    • Martin says:

      Congrats. Any chance of making a .puz file available?

      • Evan says:

        For now, not at the moment — sorry about that. I have discussed the possibility with my editors, however, so maybe it will be available at a later time.

        • Martin says:

          OK. Thanks for trying. If you get past the ip issues and need a place to host them, I’ve got plenty of room on the server that hosts some of the other puzzles on the Today’s Puzzles page here.

    • janie says:

      no need to apologize! thx so much for the link (was easily able to print out the puzz). a *great* way to begin — and will look forward to all that will follow!


    • Norm says:

      That was a cute puzzle, Evan, but maybe a bit too easy. Been a long time since I sailed through a Sunday on the acrosses with little need to check the downs once the theme was clear. Minor nit. Very enjoyable puzzle.

    • Rock says:

      Thanks so much Evan, I haven’t started it yet but I am sure you will do a great job, I enjoy your puzzles and am so happy for you. I do hope Merl’s old ones continue to run on his site.

      I enjoyed Tony O’s Sunday challenge, especially 4 down, yo (I got a giggle from the clue) and now I begin the week of anticipating a Bob K, since it has been a week and his turn should be soon.

      From last week, the Saturday stumper had the clue “creator of met logo, answer Stella, I don’t get it, if someone has time to explain I would appreciate it.

      Again, thanks for all the hard work involved at this site, even when Amy is not feeling well,( I hope you are feeling better)

      Yall have a great day!

    • Evan says:

      Thanks, y’all!

      • Dave S says:

        Evan – just a quick note to let you know that I enjoyed “Heroes Welcome.” I look forward to seeing more of your puzzles in the Washington Post Magazine!

  4. Bencoe says:

    OK. This theme is my wheelhouse. I grew up in Greensboro, N.C. and I still drawl. That said, the idea of a universal “southern accent” is nonsense. Location matters.
    Here’s a story which explains the HYATT from “heights” equivalence:
    When we first moved to NC from Indiana, the teacher kept telling me to “see it.” I had no idea what she was talking about and it quickly became frustrating for both of us, until I realized that “see it” was her accent’s version of “sit.”

  5. Maura D says:

    I was delighted by Heroes Welcome in my Sunday WaPo magazine today, and look forward to more. Am hoping someone will blog about them on this space.

    Amy – I hope you feel better soon.

  6. ArtLvr says:

    I really enjoyed the twists NYT, LAT and BEQ… My mother once confessed she was forced to take a remedial English class on arrival at Smith College (circa 1930) to correct her accent from the Chicago area! And my Aunt Margaret, also a Smithie who’d gone on to study drama in London with fellow student Larry Olivier, never failed to remind me that she was not my Ant Margaret, but my Ahnt. That almost stuck. To this day I like privately checking out faulty pronunciations by well-educated American TV personalities.

  7. Meem says:

    Add me to the list of those who had fun with Evan’s puzzle. Look forward to more and hope they will join the Fiend group.

  8. Bob says:

    There isn’t enough room here to list the inanities of today’s LAT. Suffice it to say that I regret wasting precious Holiday time on drivel such as this. A -10 rating from me.

    • Andy says:

      And yet you solve it every week! The Sunday LAT really doesn’t change much from week to week. Rich Norris likes what he likes. The themes are easy wordplay, the fill contains mostly definitions, synonyms, and wordplay with a smattering of trivia, and there is the occasional necessary obscurity. This is what you will get every week. I don’t know how many different nice ways we, your fellow Fienders, can tell you that if you don’t like this puzzle to solve a different one.

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