Friday, January 29, 2016

CS 8:36 (Ade) 


LAT 8:39 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:47 (Amy) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


BuzzFeed 9:29 (Derek) 


David Phillips’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 29 16, no 0129

NY Times crossword solution, 1 29 16, no 0129

Quick post, as I got to the puzzle an hour late and have a doctor’s appointment (six-month transplant follow-up!) early tomorrow.


Pretty grid, this 66-worder. I like the giant diagonal swath.

Cute clue: 19a. [Heat meas. that also names a major L.A. TV station], KCAL.

Does GENERAL ZOD figure into contemporary Superman legend, or has he been shunted aside? Have not seen any recent Superman movies or TV shows.

Four stars from me.

Adam Prince’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Across/Down Coordination”—Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 2.46.46 PMMy first thought after finishing this puzzle: There HAS to be a better title out there! The title does give an indication of what is going on, here. There is likely to be some conflicts in across and down squares. And there are. Several, in fact. There are two long across answers that kind of describe what is going on:

  • 20A [Having only axes of width and height] TWO-DIMENSIONAL
  • 54A [Mathematical system suggested by eight squares in this puzzle as well as its central symbol] CARTESIAN PLANE

So the center of the grid has a cross shape, which does resemble a grid where you plotted all of those parabolic arcs in geometry! The squares in conflict have an X in the across answer, and a Y in the corresponding down entry. Very well done. The squares are all in symmetrical locations, the entries are all legit, and the clues are not in long paragraphs like some of the other BuzzFeed puzzles I have encountered!

You will see in the grid image the dreaded red triangle in one of the theme squares. That is because I had the puzzle done, but Across Lite wasn’t giving me a correct solution. So I had to see what they wanted in the squares where the Xs and Ys crossed. It turns out you had to put “X or Y” in each one to get it right! Needless to say, that took me an extra minute or so, pushing my time near ten minutes, whereas it really only took a little over 8. But since the grid is hard to see, and there wasn’t much else to remark on, here are the 16 entries which contained Xs or Ys:

  • 17A [Metered journeys] TAXI RIDES
  • 19A [Word before cups or Chicks] DIXIE
  • 27A [Gen ___] XER
  • 32A [Banished] IN EXILE
  • 38A [Gun show activity] FLEXING – This one is good!
  • 45A [First name in bald supervillainy] LEX – He is NOT bald in the new Batman vs. Superman, at least according to the trailers I have seen!
  • 57A [Mythical creature with accompanying dust] PIXIE
  • 58A [Catch-22 and others] PARADOXES
  • 3D [Rahm Emanuel and Bill de Blasio] MAYORS – Chicago and New York, I believe.
  • 10D [Response to an incorrect guess] TRY AGAIN
  • 27D [Skull and Bondsman, for one] YALIE
  • 29D [On edge] TESTY
  • 31D [Could possibly] MAY
  • 33D [___-hoo] YOO
  • 36D [Traitor] BETRAYER
  • 46D [Drawer often sold in a set of 8 or 64] CRAYON

One more note: Does anyone else confuse Alison BRIE with Brie Larson??

An awesome puzzle. My only gripe is the title! I hope these squares aren’t in the shape of some mathematical equation; if so, I totally missed that!! 4.6 stars for originality and design. See you tomorrow for Stumper reviews and next Friday for another BuzzFeed review!

Mark McClain’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Levitation Trick Part 1” — pannonica’s write-UP

CHE • 1/29/16 • "Levitation Trick Part 1" • McClain • solution

CHE • 1/29/16 • “Levitation Trick Part 1” • McClain • solution

Editor Brad Wilber informs me that there isn’t any nefariously elaborate plan behind the ‘Part 1’ in the title—it’s merely that he coincidentally received (and accepted) two similarly-themed crosswords and has decided to use them both. So look for the invisibly-yoked Part 2 next week!

This version has an insertion mechanism, with the letters U-P added to the interior of existing phrases for wackified ones.

  • 20a. [Unanimous vote on the first course?] SOUP SAY WE ALL (so say we all).
  • 36a. [Crowning architectural feature at a soft-drink bottling plant?] PEPSI CUPOLA (Pepsi cola (Pepsi-Cola until 1961)).
  • 43a. [Percentage of people who sleep on their backs?] SUPINE RATIO (sine ratio). Sort-of jibing with 52d [Guts, oddly] SPINE.
  • 57a. [Frugal types dedicated to clipping and saving?] COUPON HOUNDS (coon hounds).

Cute. I’ll take it.

  • Astronomy factette: 65a [ __ Berenices (constellation now distinct from neighboring Leo)] COMA. Referring to the hair of Queen Berenice II of Egypt. Wikipedia tells me it’s one of the 88 modern constellations, and also that it was first described distinctly in 16th century. The International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) determination of that class came in 1922. See also 70a [Madrid’s __ Sofia Museum] REINA.
  • Favorite clue, for its weirdness (yet accuracy): 2d [Denial without a subject?] AM NOT.
  • Completely unfamiliar to this Eastcoaster: 34d [City on California’s San Gabriel River] AZUSA. Could also be the end of an international post originating from, say, Flagstaff, no? Crossing is 47a [Capri, to a Capriote] ISOLA. Completely unrelated (save that Cuba is an island) is this upbeat composition by Israel ‘Cachao’ López, which has 80% of the same letters in the same order:

Okay, that’s it. Solid crossword.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160129

LA Times

Another day, another puzzle based on an old film I’ve never heard of. This one is TOUCHOFEVIL. It is interpreted as adding EVIL to three phrases. A tetragram is rather a challenging thing to use in repeated addition – there will only be a few viable options. So it is understandable there are only 3 phrases, and also that they are quite long: ROYALWE is seven letters, but add EVIL to it, and you get an 11-letter phrase, ROYALWEEVIL to pair with the revealer. The others are DEVILISHNETWORK and REVILEDSNAPPERS. It is surprising to see such a direct reference to Satan in a crossword; I suspect that may cross a line for some people. I am glad Mr. Wechsler didn’t resort to adding EVIL to a single letter. That sign of desperation often crops up in more ambitious letter addition puzzles.


  • [Subject of the first picture in Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”], GNOME. I should acquaint myself with this work…
  • [Repeating rhythmic pattern used in Cuban music], CLAVE. If your clue is that specific on a Friday, it’s a difficult answer! My go to Clave is the evil lords in The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, but that hasn’t been made into a film yet, so it’s not a real fantasy classic…
  • Also in that region is [Climate control systs.], HVACS with vaguely clued [Round ornament], CIRCLET also thereabouts. I expect this centre will give conniptions!
  • [Ed Norton catchphrase on “The Honeymooners”], VAVAVAVOOM. I thought that was “And Away We Go”. I’m probably confused.
  • [Household glue brand], DUCO. Not a brand that’s here, to my knowledge.

3 Stars
Gareth, leaving you with…

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “An Agreeable Sort”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.29.16: "An Agreeable Sort"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.29.16: “An Agreeable Sort”

Good day, everybody, and a Happy Friday to you! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, is for all of those people that are steadfast with their convictions, with a quip making up all three parts of the theme. And that quip, which I guess is on a shirt somewhere, is…

  • I AM NOT ARGUING, JUST POINTING OUT WHY YOU’RE WRONG (20A, 37A, and 55A: [T-shirt wisdom, part 1, T-shirt wisdom, part 2 & Final part of the t-shirt wisdom])

Finally a quote-as-theme grid in which I wasn’t trying to fish for parts of the quote and take a guess. Only real slip-up came when I typed in “no way” instead of NO HOW to start on that entry (40A: [Without any chance]). There was a mimi-theme involving late-night hosts, with both JOKES (9A: [Routine parts]) and the alternate spelling of MONOLOG (42A: [Late-night talk show leadoff]). Funny seeing RHEA in the grid today, as that was the entry that first allowed me to see what was going on with Liz Gorski’s New York Times’ rebus puzzle from yesterday (17A: [Flightless bird]). No joke, I initially thought that the reveal entry in the puzzle, which was BALLOON, was going to be “Bro Fest,” with all of the “He” boxes. Yes, I thought of a bunch of guys in a circle at a party instead of the periodic table abbreviation of helium to start. Even I marvel at how my mind works sometimes!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ON TOP (21D: [In the lead]) – Next Sunday may very well be the last game in the illustrious career of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, and he would be looking to go out ON TOP when the Broncos play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Unimaginative, I know. My apologies. I’ll come back with something much stronger for tomorrow!

See you Saturday!

Take care!


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19 Responses to Friday, January 29, 2016

  1. Martin says:

    Evan Birnholz has prevailed and gotten permission from the folks at the Washington Post to distribute his Sunday Washington Post Magazine crossword in Across Lite format. It’s now included in the Sunday section of Today’s Puzzles here (link at top of this page). Last week’s is available now via that link, and will be for another day or two until this Sunday’s puzzle is posted.

    Thanks, Evan and WaPo!

  2. Zulema says:

    Hope you hear all good things from your doctor. As for the NYT crossword, I thought it was delightful. I think TOY POODLES might require a rather large purse, though teacup poodles would fit better, the purse, not the grid. Always delighted to find doggies in the fill. There were many names I did not know but it all worked out.

  3. sbmanion says:

    I think that a reverse stock split can increase par value, but I am pretty sure it does not have to. In addition, par values are normally incredibly small, say .00001 per share, to avoid high franchise taxes, so that a reverse split rarely would trigger watered stock problems.

    I was involved in several reverse splits whose purpose was to freeze out minority shareholders in going private transactions. If one person owned 840,000 out of a million shares, and he wanted to freeze out the minority shareholders, he could trigger a 200,000 for one reverse split with the proviso that no fractional shares would be issued. The minority shareholders would receive cash for their fractional shares.

    I thought this was a good puzzle. I did not know CELADON, but the rest was about average difficulty for me.


  4. Tracy B says:

    GENE RALZOD seemed like a plausible comic-booky name.

    I haven’t mis-parsed an entry that badly in months!

    • placematfan says:

      That’s awesome.

    • David Phillips says:

      Hands down, you win this puzzle’s Best Mis-Parsing Award! I literally LOL’d.

      Also, @Amy, GENERAL ZOD was the main antagonist of 2013’s “Man of Steel” and will be featured in this year’s “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” His appearance in the latter, based on trailers, looks like it will only serve as a minor plot point, though. =/

  5. Bruce N. Mortone says:

    NYT — I agree with the consensus. Very good, average difficulty. For some reason I had the most trouble with the NW, but as so often happens, in retrospect I don’t know why.

  6. Joe Pancake says:

    NYT: Anybody else put in GENE and immediately think “Gene Hackman” since he played Lex Luthor in the first “Superman” … anybody … anybody?

    This puzzle was fine, but it felt a bit stale to me. It needed more va va voom. I like GENERALZOD and ITISDECIDEDLYSO, but they are both pretty niche. I didn’t like CELADON or PARVALUE.

    • ktd says:

      The more I reflect on this puzzle, the more I agree with the notion that ITISDECIDEDLYSO feels a bit awkward. It’s not really a standalone phrase, and while Magic 8 Balls are a nice piece of pop culture Americana, who really remembers all of the little sayings in there? I would have really liked IT IS DECIDED, which feels a bit more natural (plus it makes me think of “The League”, a pretty funny show that just ended its run).

      No problem with GENERALZOD here, but some of the other propers in the puzzle (LENAPE, DEVRY, BARR) were head-scratchers. I liked learning CELADON.

  7. Derek Allen says:

    General Zod does appear in the new “Batman v. Superman” movie coming out in March. Portrayed by Michael Shannon. So it appears he is still around at least for movie purposes.

  8. David L says:

    I got GENERALZOD fairly quickly but was under the impression he was a Star Wars character. The guy that looks sorta like a walrus. Oh well, a villain of some kind.

    I got the NE-SW axis of the puzzle filled in pretty fast, struggled with the NW, then struggled more with the SE. PARVALUE was a problem — I was convinced it had to be PARPRICE. Not that either phrase actually means anything to me.

    Do people really say SUNTANNING?

  9. Allan says:

    Can anyone explain why the buzzfeed puz required “xory” rather than just the “xy” combo?

  10. Mark McClain says:

    Thanks for the nice comments about “Levitation Trick Part 1” (CHE), panonica. Just a bit of a sidebar, at Brad’s request the themers in this puzzle had to use the added UP in a way that didn’t involve a compound. So, cute ones like TRAIL MIXUP (reason for a backwoods rescue operation) were off limits. The result was, as you opined, wacky.

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