Sunday, January 24, 2016

CS 17:50 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 5:15 (Andy) 


NYT 9:30 (Amy) 


Francis Heaney and Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword, “Initial Turn”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 24 16 "Initial Turn"

NY Times crossword solution, 1 24 16 “Initial Turn”

Francis and Brendan are both part of the American Values Club crossword team. Here, they’ve teamed up for a 21×21 puzzle with a Merl-sized theme of 12 entries (having 7-letter theme answers among a large theme set is so classically Reaglesque, no?). Each one is a familiar phrase that starts with a 3-letter word, but the second and third letters are swapped. This turns the first word into a three-letter initialism. The resulting goofy phrases are clued accordingly:

  • 23a. [Two things on Ronald Reagan’s mind?], SDI AND NANCY. Movie about Sid Vicious, Sid and Nancy, becomes the Strategic Defense Initiative and Nancy Reagan. Great clue for this.
  • 30a. [“We’ll tell you what soda we’re serving later”?], TBA COLA. Meh. Who calls Tab “Tab Cola”? (Answer: nobody.) And “cola TBA” sounds more natural to me for post-letter-swap phrase.
  • 32a. [Brute working on the Human Genome Project?], DNA SAVAGE. Play on Seattle’s sex columnist and It Gets Better activist, Dan Savage.
  • 48a. [Soggy computer brain?], CPU OF NOODLES. Cup of Noodles brand instant soup.
  • 50a. [H&R Block employee’s biceps?], CPA GUNS. Play on cap guns. I don’t like the clue, though. I do like biceps = GUNS rather than weapons = GUNS, yes. But I think H&R Block’s tax preparers include rather few CPAs. Most licensed tax preparers aren’t accountants. CrossCan, can you back me up?
  • 65a. [Origami BlackBerry, e.g.?], PDA OF PAPER. Not sure how many more years people will remember what “PDAs” were. My husband was just asking me today. I think of the Palm Treo and assorted devices that could keep your calendar and contacts, but weren’t phones and had no apps. Outmoded technology.
  • 68a. [Amusing baseball scoring play?], RBI TICKLER. I think of a “tickler” more as a reminder than something amusing.
  • 91a. [Drink in an old Pontiac?], GTO MILK. I don’t think I would know of the GTO were it not for crosswords, but I appreciate a play on “Got milk?”
  • 93a. [“An A/C measure? Are you kidding me?”?], “BTU?? SERIOUSLY??” Yes. When I see BTU(S) in yet another crossword, that’s about my reaction.
  • 104a. [Sign in a restaurant that doesn’t serve white bread?], BYO WONDER. Ha! Love it. Also, I regret to inform you that Wonder Bread has a Twitter account that fancies itself to be a hoot.
  • 108a. [Chef who explains in detail how sausages are made?], TMI COOK. Ha! Apple CEO Tim Cook becomes a cook who grosses you out with meat-grinder tales.
  • 117a. [Financial aid plan for a school in Provo?], BYU ON CREDIT.

Tight theme.

Favorite fill: Well, with 12 themers occupying 11 rows in this puzzle, there’s not so much free space for great fill. I like ENUNCIATE, CHIPPER, CALL SHEET, and TABLEHOPS. I would have liked seeing CLARICE, but it was just in the Friday NYT, the same character.

I’m not sure about 47a. [Rhein rejection], NIENie means “never.” Is this “rejection” as in someone shouting “Never!”? I feel like [Rhein rejection] should be NEIN, “no.” I looked up the German word for “shouts” and Googled schreit nie, but that turned out to be “never cries” rather than “shouts ‘never’.” Do we have any native German speakers who can weigh in? Do people shout Nie! to assertively reject a suggestion?

Five more things:

  • 60a. [Theodore who directed “St. Vincent,” 2014], MELFI. I have scarcely heard of him, or the movie. Googling … Okay, Melfi has a very short Wikipedia page, but St. Vincent starred Bill Murray and did pretty well for a film festival debut movie. (I bet the fictional therapist from The Sopranos, Dr. Melfi, is more familiar to most of us.)
  • 69d. [Pals 4 life], BFFS. Okay, is the “4” there to avoid the implicit dupe of “for” and “forever”? Or to try to catch the BuzzFeed puzzle vibe?
  • 89a. [Narrow-minded views], MYOPIAS. Can … can this word really take a plural?
  • 94d. [Shares on Tumblr, say], REPOSTS. I filled in REBLOGS because that’s the Tumblr terminology—you share somebody else’s content on your page, you “reblog” it. I haven’t got a good reference for REPOSTS, other than putting a notice back up on a bulletin board or something.
  • 127a. [Not an original], RETREAD. Wait. Isn’t “not an original” an adjectival sort of phrase? And isn’t RETREAD a noun (or, less commonly, a verb)? I’m missing the clue/answer interchangeability here.

3.85 stars from me. I enjoyed the theme, but the rest of the grid didn’t hold much fun for me.

Fred Piscop’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Fare Play”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 01.24.16, "Fare Play," by Fred Piscop

LAT Puzzle 01.24.16, “Fare Play,” by Fred Piscop

Fred Piscop plays with his food this week: the themers are foods of the type “___ed  ___,” clued in a punny way. Themers:

  • 23a, CURED PORK [Fare after successful medical treatment?]. As in, it used to be diseased pork. :(
  • 25a, STEAMED MILK [Angry fare?].
  • 45a, POACHED SALMON [Illegally taken fare?].
  • 86a, GRILLED CHEESE [Fare constantly questioned?].
  • 110a, CREAMED CORN [Soundly defeated fare?].
  • 112a, FRIED RICE [Inebriated fare?]. The rice has been hanging out with the drunken noodles.
  • 37d, CODDLED EGGS [Excessively pampered fare?].
  • 41d, ROASTED NUTS [Fare at the Friars Club?].

A fine theme, well executed, fairly humorous. Not much more you can ask for from a Sunday LAT.

I’m guessing non-lawyers struggled with 66d, PAROL [Given orally, in law]. This word basically only shows up in the parol evidence rule, which is a rule in contract interpretation and not a rule of evidence. Law is confusing.

Other than that, SPRITS [Sail spars], and SCUT [Bunny’s tail], the fill was extremely solid. Really not much to remark about here. The rare attempt at a punny clue sneaks in at 86d, GATEMEN [Entry-level jobs?]. Otherwise, straightforward throughout.

Nothing else from me. Until next time!

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

CRooked • 1/24/16 • "Pocket Change • Cox, Rathvon • solution

CRooked • 1/24/16 • “Pocket Change • Cox, Rathvon • solution

A rebus theme. Ten uncrossed squares—six acrosses and four downs—each contain the tetragram C-E-N-T.

On the one hand, having uncrossed squares seems like an easy way out for the constructors (this is a relative assessment!); on the other hand, it allows for uniformly longer theme entries, as well as symmetrical placement of the rebus squares. On the one hand, the central revealer (along with its asymmetric accessory at 84a [What each uncrossed square is worth] PENNY) at 60a [What this puzzle’s change adds up to?] A DIME is a not very interesting article + noun; on the other hand, there is no ambiguity as to the assumed value (twice as much, arguably, if hypothetical crossings were involved).

  • 19a. [Neighboring corner, in geometry] ADJA{CENT} ANGLE.
  • 20a. [Closest star system to us] ALPHA {CENT}AURI. Hey, look at 3d [Greek hero trained by a centaur] AJAX!
  • 47a. [Copernican belief] HELIO{CENT}RISM.
  • 75a. [Guiltless bystander, say] INNO{CENT} PARTY.
  • 104a. [Not emphasized] UNAC{CENT}UATED.
  • 105a. [Reasons for not doing a thing] DISIN{CENT}IVES.
  • 30d. [Curved pastries] CRES{CENT} ROLLS. Yes, guilty. Forgot my head for a moment and filled in CROISSANTS, which fits, as it has three fewer letters than the correct answer.
  • 35d. [Pest with many legs] HOUSE {CENT}IPEDE. As with spiders, these fleet-footed beasties will eat up insects (but also spiders) in your home, which may mitigate their ‘pest’ status. On the other hand, they’re skittish and gooshy (if you happen to squish them), and I get that that sort of thing upsets some people.
  • 40d. [Army man for Caesar] ROMAN {CENT}URION. See also, 31a [March time] IDES.
  • 51d. [Prenatal procedure] AMNIO{CENT}ESIS.

Good bunch of phrases, some lengthy single words. Some etymological overlap, but that can hardly be avoided.

  • More glaring duplications: 17d [Love personified] EROS, 103a [No points for Nadal] LOVE. 5a [Spare room user] GUEST, 48d [Elbow __ ] ROOM. These and the one involving the themer are easily avoidable. I do appreciate the implied nada/Nadal, though.
  • More Greek (and Roman) mythology: 79d [Slayer of Medusa] PERSEUS, 70d [Moon of Saturn] DIONE, 51a [Trojan hero in Virgil’s epic] AENEAS. Honorable mentions to 69a [Olympian Ohno] APOLO and 90a [Hector] HARASS.
  • 46a [Come-on] LURE. Tried LINE first.
  • 54d [Old-time oath] EGAD, 81d [“Aw, darn!”] HECK.

And a typical assortment of stolid fill, flashy entries, a smattering of crosswordese, some clever clues, and too much baseball (if you ask me). But a good puzzle overall.

Doug Peterson’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.24.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.24.15

Hello there, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe, especially those on the East Coast, having to dig out of the blizzard that did some damage this weekend.

Actually helping to dig out my neighbor’s car at the moment (well, at the moment, I’m typing, but after this, I’ll be back outside), so will have to come back to this a little later in the evening. But, just know that I loved today’s challenge from Mr. Doug Peterson, especially the trivia for PEPSI COLA (30D: [Beverage named for a digestive enzyme]). Oh, and then there’s PELL-MELL, a term I actually used in a baseball broadcast in 2007 and was asked what word I said to describe what was a crazy rundown of a baserunner on the field (10D: [Helter-skelter]). More analysis later on, especially of the clue to GI JOE (1D: [’70s toy with a “Kung Fu Grip”]). The second I saw that, I said, “This is definitely a Doug Peterson puzzle!” OK, back to shoveling!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MOUSE (46D: [It sits on a pad]) – Can’t do too much research now, but I definitely remember Ken “MOUSE” McFadden, a New York City point guard who went to Cleveland State and helped the 14th-seeded Vikings make a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 in 1986, including helping to defeat Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in the first round. If memory serves me correctly, Cleveland State became the first 14-seed to advance to the Sweet 16.

Have a good rest of your weekend, everybody!

Take care!


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18 Responses to Sunday, January 24, 2016

  1. Jeffrey K says:

    Most of the tax preparers at H&R Block completed a course given by the company on income tax. The trainers might include CPA’s.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Definitely whacky… I bet the constructors had a hoot making this stuff up… I’d like to think so, anyhow. DNA SAVAGE! I know people like that.

    Do you know that teNmeN fits where MINYAN sits, and has the appropriate meaning? I didn’t know the word Minyan, but I knew the concept of 10 men being required for certain Jewish rituals.

    Re Amy’s comment on the short Wiki page for Melfi– I never know if there is a clear set of principles. Does Wiki let people write as much as they want? Or do they limit lengths based on the importance of the person/subject matter? Is it more like an assay, that not enough people cared to create a long entry? I recently discovered that my late father has a long Wiki page (in Arabic). I have no idea who did it. It’s so weird because it has all kinds of details, some of which I barely knew myself. The whole Wiki process is pretty fascinating– that the world collaborates, anonymously, to create an encyclopedia of human knowledge.

    • Jenni says:

      The Orthodox movement still requires ten men. The rest of us count women, too. My daughter might prefer that we did not, since she’s completed her bat mitzvah and we now require her to come to services when we need her to make a minyan.

      • huda says:

        That’s great! Your daughter will come to appreciate it :)
        I ‘m actually intrigued by the idea of requiring a certain number of people for certain rituals. It transforms the experience over doing it alone or in smaller numbers. We all know that from, for example, hosting a dinner or a party. Size changes the feeling. I’ve been reading the work of a modern day philosopher who thinks that we operate differently when we are in a “we” mode, and thinking about the neural basis of it.

  3. roger says:

    Never again=Nie Wieder

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    Actually really liked this theme. It may have relied on tired initialism (PDA, GTO) but employed it in an interesting way. Agree that TBA is misplaced & “rib-tickler” is about 70 years out of date. Also NIE is just flat out incorrectly clued. But no love for DUSHKU? Surprised.

  5. klew archer says:

    Knowing Francis and Brendan, they probably were thinking of this for 91a:

    • klew archer says:

      Anyway, really enjoyed what they did with the theme, especially 23a. 47a didn’t bother me, thought of the phrase “Nie im Leben!”

  6. Jenni says:

    I liked today’s NYT better than Amy did – the theme answers all made me giggle, especially SDI AND NANCY and BYO WONDER.

    Why is SMUT the right answer to “Bunny’s tail” in the LAT?

  7. Jeff says:

    In the print edition, the clue for “PHI” was mistakenly left blank. I thought it was some sort of pun, but now I see the online edition has an actual clue for it. Weird.

  8. ggsf says:

    Amy: Re NYT and the H&R Block clue, there is no such thing as a “licensed tax preparer”. IRS tried in recent years to require all preparers to register, test, and meet continuing education requirements. They lost. Anyone can set themselves up as a tax preparer and charge fees with no oversight whatsoever. According to LexisNexis, about 40 percent of paid return preparers are attorneys, CPAs, or enrolled agents… the remaining 60 percent have no professional credential or license at all.
    And as far as the term “accountant”, the AICPA zealously guards that title. In California where I live and work, the state restricts use of that title to CPAs or PAs only (not all states do). It is permissible to use the title if one clarifies thus: “unlicensed accountant”. Imagine how many people would flock to your door for services with that byline!
    Most people do not realize that there are many CPAs who know very little about tax law, code and preparation. I have had clients who are CPAs but do not want to prepare their own tax returns. Ditto about attorneys, who also can prepare tax returns without any further qualifications.
    Enrolled Agents (EA) – a term dreamed up by the IRS in the late 1800s – are to my knowledge the only group that specializes in taxation. You don’t get the EA designation unless you work in taxation.
    Getting off soapbox now. Using the “A” word

  9. TaxGuy says:

    I’ll bet WAY less than 1% of HRB tax preparers are CPAs. I’ll tell you this – as a CPA, I’m pretty well insulted by the clue …

  10. xepia says:

    NYT – not too late, I hope?

    For all I know (native German speaker), NIE translates 100% as “never”, so I’d say NIE! would be as much or as little a rejection as “Never!”.

    There is, however, a colloquial form “nee” of “nein”. It’s used in everyday speech in western and northern Germany and (pronounced more open and commonly spelled “nä”) along parts of the [Rhein], too.

    So I would have loved to see [Rhein rejection], NEE. Or, as klew suggests, NIEIMLEBEN (spot-on, though very emphatic).

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