Friday, January 22, 2016

CS 5:36 (Ade) 


LAT 4:29 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:26 (Amy) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


BuzzFeed 12:33 (Jim) 


Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 22 16, no 0122

NY Times crossword solution, 1 22 16, no 0122

Hey! There’s some cool stuff in this puzzle. And Paula’s themelesses often take a different angle on the grid—it’s sort of a flower with a matrix of 13- and 15-letter answers holding all the 7s together. I liked the puzzle a good bit more than I usually like freestyles that are packed with 7s.


I liked having NANETTE clued as [Fashion designer Lepore], but was surprised that BETSEY was [Great-aunt in “David Copperfield”] rather than designer Johnson. Johnson is my go-to BETSEY-with-an-E—one of my Facebook friends has a slew of bodacious Betsey outfits.

Is it just me, or did this puzzle tip over like a Tuesday puzzle? Either the cluing was really easy or I channeled Paula’s brainwaves here.

Fill that didn’t win me over (but also didn’t alienate me from liking the puzzle overall): dated KEL, ITO, antiquated ONE-O-CAT (which I daresay many of us know mainly from crosswords, particularly from ugly partials like ONEO or OCAT—at least the whole game name shows up here), KTS, E-DATES (I know a ton of people who’ve done online dating and I’ve never heard a one of ’em talk about an “e-date”—but I can’t find a way to change this into ELATES or EMOTES or tasty ELOTES), and TRA. So you do the puzzle, you shout at E-DATES a little, and you move on.

You can’t even be mad at a 6-letter French phrase like A TROIS when you remember the saucy longer phrase it is a part of.

4.1 stars from me. Next time, Paula, I’m hoping for tougher clues so I’ll have to spend more time on your themeless.

Tom McCoy’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Now I Know My ZYXs” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 1/22/16 • "Now I Know My ZYXs" • McCoy • solution

I enjoy a tidy theme, and this is one. Seven instances of trigrams in contralphabetic sequence. The first and last are themselves only three letters in length, and are initialisms, The other five locate their triplets across words. All are helpfully circled.

  • 1a. [Sch. for Mountaineers] WVU. West Virginia University.
  • 19a. [Excitement fueled by rising mercury] SPRING FEVER.
  • 24a. [Major Melanesian language] FIJI HINDI. I was unaware of Hindi’s presence there, let alone that it was a distinct sublanguage.
  • 39a. [Measurable bits of brainpower] IQ POINTS.
  • 54a. [Holder inside a lunchbox] ZIPLOC BAG. Genericized trademark.
  • 61a. [It enables listening to plays in the car] SPORTS RADIO.
  • 72a. [Jan. honoree] MLK. Ending on an anniversary note.

See? Tidy. Oh! Forgot to mention that the grid is more expansive than typical, at 16×15.

  • 41a/41d, [Cookout discard] COB, COBB salad. Unsure if there’s a common etymology.
  • 8a [“I’m giving up the past tense for __”] LEND. Unfamiliar with this joke, my inclination was the unpunny NOW.
  • 55d [Out of the mainstream, say] INDIE. Sundance Film Festival is going on now.
  • Similarly, I mistook 60a [Oater portent] NOOSE as NO-ONE.

And with that, I must skedaddle. Promised to help someone move house.

Mary Lou Guizzo’s BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s review

Nice themeless grid today from Mary Lou. It’s got all of your BuzzFeed favorites: Modern pop culture figures (ROBERT PATTINSON and KANYE), new-fangled terminology (NOMOPHOBIA [Fear of not having a cell]), obligatory Harry Potter reference (RON at 21A), and of course your scatological humor (ENEMA [Cleaning the basement, medically]).

Other great long entries: MUD WRESTLER, INTEL OPERATIONS, EYE ROLLING, SITTING DUCK, all arranged in sort of a pinwheel formation.

Lots of good mid-range stuff, too. I like EARBONES, RATED E, BITE ME, TRENTA (which was absent from Gorski’s Starbucks cup size theme earlier this week in the WSJ), AKIRA, TARGET, ALBINO, IN SEASON, POISON, SCORSESE, and LEGUME. I really like SITTING DUCK sitting on top of IN SEASON. Reminded me of Bugs Bunny.

Never heard of NOMOPHOBIA so that gave me trouble. The M was the last letter to fall. The clue for SAME [My response whenever someone brags about something] still doesn’t make much sense to me. Do any of you suffer NOMOPHOBIA?

A few very minor nits:

  • I thought EYE ROLLING could have had a more BuzzFeedy smartassy clue rather than just [“Oh brother” response]. (BTW, doesn’t that clue mean a response to someone who says “Oh brother”? Shouldn’t it be [“Oh brother” accompanier]?)
  • Plural of elk is usually elk but according to a few dictionaries I looked at, it can be ELKS.
  • ABS (44A) are covered by potbellies? ABS are abdominal muscles, sure, but aren’t they part and parcel of said potbelly? They might be covered by fat but that’s not the same thing. Is it?
  • I like the link between SIN (49A) and POISON (61A) with their respective clues [Apple bite, for Eve] and [Apple bite, for Snow White], but I don’t think it quite works. The act of biting was certainly the SIN for Eve, but the bite wasn’t POISON for Snow White. You could argue the apple was POISON for her, but not the bite itself.
  • I felt the clue for TESTER [Best job in an ice cream company] would more accurately define a TASTER. You taste ice cream more than you test it.
  • The clue for 54D DAS is [___ Racist (“All Brown Everything” rap group]. Shouldn’t that be “All Tan Everything”?

Of interest to those who have had issues with BuzzFeed’s raunchiness in the past: I solved a pre-release version of the puzzle, and found that a couple clues were sanitized for your solving pleasure. ENEMA had previously been clued as [Ejaculation in the butt]. I like the new clue [Cleaning the basement, medically]; it’s funnier. Also, IS NOT had been clued as [Classic response to “Your butt is stinky!!!”] but I think this is more to do with the fact that “Your butt is stinky!!!” isn’t really a classic insult requiring a classic response. Also note that SPEWS has a very tame clue [Ejects], even in the pre-release.

Alan DerKazarian’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

lat160122GIMMESHELTER is an excellent revealer. It’s clued as a “classic” because it’s an album track and thus never charted and was not a “hit”. The ends of four other phrases are forms of rude accommodation: SHED, SHACK, HUT, TENT. They’re found in HANDPOLISHED, TALENTLESSHACK (the odd man out), OPENANDSHUT and CRIMINALINTENT.

A 12-letter revealer, plus 14’s and a 13 is a grid design nightmare! MINNEAPOLIS and CASTINSTONE must span three theme answers! ONIN/INHASTE/ANOD/POOHS is one strained corner! I don’t buy TENACRE as an answer…

Fun clues… MINNEAPOLIS refers to […Lynx], [“Camptown Races”…] angle in DOODAH.

Gareth, leaving you with a 60’s classic:

3.5 Stars

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Peace, Man”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.22.15: "Peace, Man"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.22.15: “Peace, Man”

Hey, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying your Friday and preparing for the storm called Jonas that’s ready to cause some havoc along the Eastern seaboard. Just a quick recap for today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman. In it, there’s no war – as in, each of the theme entries are common phrases that have been altered by excising the letters “WAR” from them.

  • SEARCH RANT (17A: [“I know my Fourth Amendment rights!”?]) – Search warrant.
  • PRISON DEN (28A: [Man cave at Shawshank?]) – Prison warden.
  • DEVOUT COD (43A: [God-fearing food fish?]) – Devout coward.
  • ACADEMY ADS (57A: [West Point commercials?]) – Academy Awards.

After a few close calls this week, finally broke the six-minute barrier today with this puzzle, so that just made my week! That, and the answer right in the middle of the grid, PRINCE, makes me want to go to the 80s channel on one of the stations on TuneIn Radio and play some throwback music for the rest of the day (28D: [“Purple Rain” singer]). Best fill of the grid was seeing the full name of IVAN PAVLOV going down (3D: [Conditioned reflex researcher]). Can’t stay too long, so bidding adieu now…but not before something sports related.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OTTO (16A: [“Daisy Kenyon” director Preminger]) – OTTO the Orange is the mascot of Syracuse University athletics, and is the greatest mascot of all time. Period. If you don’t think so, then you’re wrong! Case closed!


Have a great weekend!

Take care!


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Friday, January 22, 2016

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: I agree Amy, fun puzzle and on the easy side for Friday. I plunked down GLUTEN FREE PASTA with nary a crossing thanks to a family, including my 5 year old grandson, who has to eat GF. BTW, best GF pasta is handmade by RP’s.
    There were little echoes in the puzzle– a kitchen echo, with Pasta, Potato Peelers, (Swee Pea), Lard and Striper; there was Sic, Sit On, and Sinks In that seem all action related; the decorative baroque stuff, etc.. I like it when a puzzle does that. The constructor’s free associations prime yours and it creates a sense of ease and flow.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I too liked the puzzle very much and thought it was smooth and not difficult. Since people so often suggest clues which would be meaningless and imponderable to me, I will say that I would have loved to see the clue {Cellist Schween} for 1a, but that’s just me. She recently became the cellist of the Juilliard String Quartet, probably the most distinguished and best known string quartet in the country. Before that she lived in my area and taught at UMass, a mile from my house, so I heard her a lot and got to know her. I l had already formed the opinion that she was “too good” to be at UMass, unless she was really wedded to the area, and unfortunately, I turned out to be right.

  3. sbmanion says:

    I also thought this was on the easy side in spite of a lack of sports and games clues with the possible exception of SKI BIB. I did not think it would be that easy when I first started, but the NE was very easy and allowed me to see the excellent CAST OF THOUSANDS, which opened the entire N. I usually find it easy when Bruce finds it hard and vice versa, but today we all appear to be on a pleasant wavelength.

    FRACTAL was a learning experience for me. I knew that a fractal was a self-repeating pattern, but did not realize it was an answer to the clue until I had a few letters.

    All and all, an excellent puzzle.


  4. marciem says:

    CHE: “past tense for ____” = lend

    “I’m giving up past tense for____ (lent)”… past tense of lend

    I think that’s it. a stretch maybe?

  5. golfballman says:

    Somebody please tell me what a future attorney’s ordeal is. Is it a PSAT test or LSAT test I wish someone would make up their mind!

    • Lois says:

      golfballman, I don’t know to which puzzle you are referring, but it would have to be LSAT. The PSAT is too general for that clue, as I believe almost all high-schoolers take it who are expecting to go on to college.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Law School Admission Test, L for “law.” Should not be hard to remember! (And here in the LAT puzzle, the crossing is GIMME SHELTER. Surely you didn’t want it to be GIMME SHEPTER?)

        PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT. College-bound kids typically take it a year before they take the SAT.

    • Tony says:

      The full name for the PSAT is PSAT/NMSQT and stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. I remember taking this as a junior in high school. with more and more colleges abandoning the SAT, I wonder what future the PSAT has.

      Any teachers here?

      • sbmanion says:

        I have been tutoring students for the various standardized tests for the past 18 years. The SAT is about to change again in March and it is up in the air as to how it will play out.

        A few months ago, the College Board came out with a new sample PSAT. I happened to be tutoring a student who did very poorly on it and wondered if she shouldn’t be taking the current SAT instead of the new test. She is home-schooled so her SAT is substituted for the PSAT, which as Amy noted, is taken by juniors in the fall of their junior year.

        When I and indeed every other tutor first saw the new test, we could not believe how much harder it was than either the SAT or the PSAT had ever been.

        Apparently. the College Board has listened and it will be ineresting how this whole process plays out.

        When I started tutoring 18 years ago, it was 90% SAT and 10% ACT. Now it is about 65% ACT. One of the consequences was that many if not all elite schools take the ACT on an equal footing with the SAT. As a result, more and more bright students are taking the ACT, which has ratcheted up the scores. This, in turn, makes it harder to differentiate the very bright from the less bright and the SAT, which in my era did separate those groups, no longer does so. I thought that the extremely hard sample PSAT that was put out by the College Board was intended to bring back that differentiation.


        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          My son’s in an honors program at his high school, and 10th graders in this program took the PSAT this fall (and will take it again as juniors). He hasn’t logged in to see his score yet, but I *think* they might be available now. Not sure if he took the PSAT/NMSQT or the PSAT-10.

          Illinois has been requiring all HS students to take the ACT (and the state and/or school districts pay for it). But! The College Board is trying to get in on all of that statewide business, and last month they successfully wooed Illinois to sign a three-year-contract for the SAT rather than the ACT.

  6. Lois says:

    Re the very good NYT puzzle, I didn’t find it as easy as others did, but that’s normal for a Friday. I didn’t find most of the many long answers easy, but all of them were really nice. I had some trouble with the short fill. Most of the trouble was with the names today. I don’t mind this type of clue when I know the answer, so I can’t really object, since the required areas of knowledge were varied today. I saw How to Train Your Dragon, and of course didn’t remember the character or her name, but I suppose her name might be a nod to Astrid Lindgren, so that was a hint. Crosses helped, though not easily, rendering the clue fair. The same was the case with the designer Lepore, whom I had never heard of. I also had trouble with CLARICE Starling, because unlike most other people I have never seen The Silence of the Lambs. I see that Wikipedia says that the American Film Institute has ranked the character sixth on the list of protagonists in American film, so I guess I can’t object to that clue though I didn’t like the crossings. For me, its crossing with A.C. DELCO was too difficult, not to mention the crossing of the latter with KEL. On the other hand, I liked figuring out DER ALTE (Konrad Adenauer) and Chuck COLSON, though those clues must have given most youngsters fits.

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    As I recall Chuck Colson became a born again Christian either in prison, or just after he was sentenced, leading me to wonder whether his conversion was based on conviction.

Comments are closed.