Friday, February 12, 2016

CS tk (Ade) 


LAT 7:43 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:49 (Amy) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


BuzzFeed 8:52 (Derek) 


Brandon Hensley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 12 16, no 0212

NY Times crossword solution, 2 12 16, no 0212

I am yawning nonstop here, but I’ll try to blog as if I’m still sentient.

Did not know: 25a. [Region around a star “just right” for habitable planets], GOLDILOCKS ZONE. Cute science!

Random thoughts:

  • 16a. [Ones who don’t take a seat?], ALSO-RANS. V. excited that a couple GOP candidates dropped out this week and not next week, as I was able to update a Daily Celebrity Crossword clue to reflect the current status! (Crossword editors don’t get a lot of excitement, to be honest. I know you’re surprised.)
  • 9a. [Cetacean’s closest relative], HIPPO. I had no idea. Pannonica, you agree?
  • 20a. [Bombshell], GODDESS. Gross. Please take your male gaze off my crossword puzzle. You couldn’t clue GODDESS with respect to power?? This is bull.
  • I like CRY YOUR EYES OUT, LOCAVORE, LOADED UP, HEAT WAVE, BUZZFEED, DYNASTY, GO CRAZY in the [“Knock yourself out”] sense, PETE ROSE, PILSENER (though I prefer the pilsner spelling), and UHURA.
  • 51d. [Bergen dummy], Mortimer SNERD. You know which dummy ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (Candice’s dad) was best known for? Not Snerd. Charlie McCarthy. I missed one on a quiz because I could only think of Snerd. I blame crosswords.

4.1 stars from me. Good night, folks!

Neville Fogarty and Doug Peterson’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Themeless”—Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 6.28.01 PMA smooth themeless puzzle from this pair of crossword construction titans. If this partnership continues, they will likely need some catchy, cryptic surname! A fine 72-worder, lots of great fill, and typical irreverence in several clues, in fine BuzzFeed fashion! There are a couple of answers I was slightly unfamiliar with, but most of the crossings were helpful. The only problem I had is shown in the grid, where I had GLOBS instead of GLOPS at 31D. There the crossing was NOT helpful, at least to me!

Lots to discuss:

  • 1A [Fictional dragon that’s known to be the product of evolution] CHARIZARD – I wondered what was meant by this, but we are talking Pokémon here! This site explains it all, if you’re like me and have never played the game.
  • 10A [Indian tribe that becomes a restaurant when you move its last letter to the beginning] HOPI – Which becomes IHOP when you follow the instructions! Getting hungry! Also, on an unrelated note, I think I made a Hopi mask years ago in the 2nd grade….
  • 16A [First TV show (of three) to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings] I LOVE LUCY – The other two? I have no idea either. I tried to Google it. My guess would be M*A*S*H and Seinfeld. Or maybe Friends.
  • 20A [Ariana ___ (fake Starbucks order)] GRANDE – See next clue…
  • 41A [Ariana ___ (Starbucks order that’s not only fake, but doesn’t make sense as a pun!)] MOCHA – This is kinda funny … but not really! Different though, I must admit!
  • 23A [Camp accessory] FEATHER BOA – Yes, THAT kind of “camp!”
  • 30A [Rickman who played Professor Snape, who responds to “After all this time?” with “Always”:'(] ALAN – I believe this is a mini-tribute; he died 1/14/16. I remember him best from Die Hard and Galaxy Quest!
  • 47A [Yo La Tengo singer Ira] KAPLAN – The aforementioned crossing clue that didn’t help me much. And I would say I know music fairly well; off to Spotify we go…
  • 55A [Super Bowl ___ (game that will be played in the year 3516, we assume)] MDL – This would be accurate if they didn’t make the decision to stop using Roman numerals!
  • 60A [Regimen that requires early meals?] PALEO DIET – I heard a great quote the other day: ‘If that caveman saw that donut, he would eat it without hesitation!’
  • 37D [“Anti” dropper] RIHANNA – This album is brand new, so if you haven’t heard of it, that is why!
  • 46D [Link from Germany] WURST – Getting hungry again…

Now that I am starving again, I will find some food! 4.6 stars for a stellar themeless!

Randall J Hartman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Embed of Roses” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 2/12/16 • "Embed of Roses" • Hartman • solution

CHE • 2/12/16 • “Embed of Roses” • Hartman • solution

A Valentine’s gift?

Famous people whose surname is Rose have their first names ’embedded’ into preëxisting words or phrases to create wackified ones. The inserted letters are helpfully pre-circled.

  • 20a. [Hans Gruber portrayer in “Die Hard” starring in a movie set at a sheep ranch?] HERDER RICKMAN (Herman – what kind of phrase is that? Am I missing something?). Alan Rickman, recently deceased. Unrelated to the romantic sheep-herding film Brokeback Mountain.
  • 27a. [Pontiff quizzing cardinals-in-training?] POPE TESTMASTER (postmaster, not poetaster).
  • 44a. [Get acclimated to intelligence work at Langley?] ADJUST IN AGENCY (ad agency).
  • 51a. [Make an error calculating Kobe Bryant’s net pay?] UNDERTAX LAKER (undertaker).

Four themers. Three of them (Derrick, Pete, Justin) are professional athletes, and two of those are young-ish ones completely unfamiliar to me. The fourth then goes ahead and includes a professional athlete in the clue. This all seems wildly imbalanced to me. Also, I would have recognized Charlie Rose, Amber Rose, Anika Rose, even Tokyo Rose (which would have been stretching things a bit) – and some of them could have provided a gender balance, if that had been desired.

Drawing back to a superficial focus, I didn’t find much entertaining here: not the originals nor the modified versions. So, a handful of poorly-cultivated roses?

Don’t know if it was intentional, but I like how the first and last acrosses obliquely suggest the theme: ROBES and NESTS. The former, in addition to evoking enrobement, also replicates ini correct sequence four of the five letters in roses.

  • 18a [Sink or swim, e.g.] VERB, 9d [Desert and swamp, e.g.] HABITAT.
  • 41a [Cab alternative] ZIN, but I went with ZIP first, thinking of Zipcars. Are they still around? …(checks)… Seems so, can’t help but think they’re getting pressure from tehe ever-expanding Uber. See also, 63a [It comes out of a fiasco] VINO.
  • Long downs are 3d [How many deli items are sold] BY THE POUND, 31d [Many Tim Burton characters] ECCENTRICS.
  • Have to like the inclusion of the Mort Walker coinage in the clue: 34a [Speech replaced with a grawlix in the funny papers] OATH.
  • 37a [Nickname for the Vietnam War’s F-105 fighter plane] THUD. Did not know this (but I do know HUEY). I don’t have a copy of The Lexicon of Comicana, so I don;t know how or if Mort Walker classifies >thud!<.
  • 59a [Most populous nation in Caricom] HAITI. Should the clue have reproduced it as CARICOM? That’s the 15-member Caribbean Community, incidentally. (Breakiing news: I’ve been informed that the CHE style guide insists on ‘wordifying’ acronyms thusly; not sure if that includes mere initialisms as well.)
  • 1d [Letter in the Hammett equation] RHO. Organic chemistry, really? Yikes! Ooh, that’s a grawlixin’ for sure: @#$%^?!

Okay puzzle, the theme simply didn’t appeal though.

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

LAT 160212

LAT 160212

YO is today’s bigram addition. The revealer is oblique. You have to know ROCKYBALBOA says YOADRIAN; the ADRIAN part is ignored. I only know this from other crosswords. Like many people, the idea of anything to do with boxing is anathema.

The base phrases and the way they change are of particular interest: MARSROVER is au courant and becomes MA(YO)RSROVER, using ROVER as a sort of common noun. My mother tells me that when age 3 I spent 3 weeks pretending to be a dog, my dog name was Rover, so that cultural trope is well entrenched, even if actual Rovers are no longer that common; I’ve met a few… FORPE(YO)TESSAKE – unusual to see a drugs reference in a theme; FORPETESSAKE is also a good base phrase. (YO)GITRACT: Surprised GITRACT is considered familiar enough, though of course it’s familiar to me. STA(YO)FFDOCTORS: The one word becomes two trick I associate with BEQ…

[Item in a ’60s drug bust], LSDTAB – when did it get banned? Wasn’t it legal for most of the 60’s?
[Centrifuge site], LAB. My consult room has a light mike, a centrifuge, a refractometer, and a glucometer. I work at a welfare so I’m have less toys than some vets… It does feel like we’re, for better or worse, more willing to do tests ourselves!
[Shape, as dough for cloverleaf rolls], BALLUP. Cloverleaf rolls?

Well-executed theme, and interesting non-theme choices.
4 Stars

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31 Responses to Friday, February 12, 2016

  1. Martin says:

    Current cladistics group whales and hippos together in the suborder Whippomorpha. It’s one of the great taxon names of our times, being a portmanteau of “whale” and “hippo.”

    • ktd says:

      No problem getting HIPPO for 9A, but I wonder if “Cetacean’s closest land-dwelling relative would have been more accurate.

      • Martin says:

        That would not have been an improvement, in my opinion. It would have spoiled the impact of the answer somewhat but, more importantly, would have only added redundant information. The only non-land dwelling relatives that are closer to cetaceans than hippos are other cetaceans, so are precluded automatically.

    • pannonica says:

      Martin’s Wikipedia consultations are entirely correctly interpreted this time.

      A rather bizarre and (literally) singular long-extinct relative of both is the huge-jawed, carnivorous Andrewsarchus:

      Somebody needs to do a good reconstructive rendering. This was the best among bad choices, for this purpose anyway.

  2. Evad says:

    Fun romp today in the NYT, although a few too many TEES/TEAS for my taste.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I never realized that “buzzfeed” actually meant something or was something. What is a listicle? — a little list of things? So buzzfeed is a web site which provides lists of things? (My computer balks at even acknowledging the word — it keeps changing it to “buzzed.”

    I liked the puzzle, but got slowed down in the NW. I did like learning that a baby llama is called a cria. Who knew? And who knew we were living in a Goldilocks Zone? Cute. It was easy to get from crossings and makes sense. I knew that others would dislike the choice of clue for “Goddess”, and I too cringed at it.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Nice cameo appearance by Stephen Decatur. As I recall he was also killed in that barbaric institution, the duel. Maybe humanity has actually make some progress in the last couple hundred years. No — strike that!

    • Phil says:

      A listicle is an article that is basically a list, usually something like “10 celebrities who’ve gone to pot.” It is a staple of the net and especially of Buzzfeed.

  4. Ethan says:

    I just thought that was a spectacular NYT. Scrabbl-y, fun cluing, great entries. GOLDILOCKS ZONE was an intstant get. And BUZZFEED in the bottom row was (clearly deliberately) impressive.

  5. anon says:

    NYT: no comment on 59D: Play HOB? I have never heard this phrase before.

    Some brief searching turned up only dictionary references, and then the following NYT usage from 1912.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      I think it is an antiquated expression meaning to screw something up — to make it worse. I’ve never actually heard it used but I’m vaguely familiar with it. I’m amazed that it appeared in a current puzzle where my usual complaint is that entries are so ultramodern that I’ve never heard of them.

    • David L says:

      That struck me as an outlier too. I’ve heard of the expression, but only from old novels, I think. Various dictionaries say it’s connected with hobgoblin, a bad little elf, and some go on to say that ‘hob’ is an old abbreviation for Robert or Robin. But they don’t explain why people with either of those names should be associated with devilry.

  6. ktd says:

    Enjoyed solving this one for the most part. In the NW, I loved the crossing of ODYSSEYS with AENEID (the latter being my favorite of the Trojan War epics). I’ve heard of the GOLDILOCKS ZONE before, but with _ZONE in place I needed the K from ANOUK (crosswordese gimme) to get it. LOCAVORE, DYNASTY, BUZZFEED…check, check, check.

    I have something to say about the “Bombshell” clue for GODDESS as well. I think we would all agree, constructor voice is important. Brandon Hensley notes at Wordplay that he wants to introduce more science into crosswords (something I fully approve of as a scientist), and he draws on his experience as an astrophysicist with impressive results (like GOLDILOCKS ZONE). When I opened the puzzle this morning and saw his byline, though, my first thought was “I remember this guy. He put SEX KITTEN into a puzzle last year”. Answers like that stick with you. So, frankly, finding another male gaze-y entry was not all that surprising.

    Now, Dr. Hensley is on record at XWordInfo saying he regrets having submitted the clue for GODDESS (it was one of two clues he sent in, and the editors chose it). He also expressed regret over the use of SEX KITTEN last year. I know the process of constructing and publishing puzzles takes a long time, and I have no way of knowing how long the delay was to get this puzzle into press. I don’t doubt his sincerity when he says he wouldn’t make these choices again, and I hope we’ll see more work soon that validates my belief.

    • bhensley says:

      It has been humbling to realize that to advocate for equity and inclusion in crosswords as well as science, the place to start has been myself. A sincere thank you to you, Amy, and people like you who are willing to stand up to injustice and call it out when you see it.

      Fwiw, both puzzles were constructed at about the same time in summer 2014. Please hold future contributions from me to a high standard– I very much regret that a puzzle intended to promote science ended up carrying with it sexist undertones.

      • Rick says:

        Oh for heaven’s sake, Brandon, you have nothing to apologize for cluing “goddess” as “bombshell.” The clue in no way suggests that you (or I, the solver, who eventually figured out the answer from your clue) share the objectification (I believe that is the word) of women that is suggested by someone who actually uses those words in normal conversation. The wonderful thing about crosswords is that they celebrate the breadth of the English language, much of which is not necessarily positive. I can descry that women are trivialized as “goddesses” and “bombshells” in the real world, and at the same time enjoy a crossword puzzle that requires knowledge that some English speakers use those two words as synonyms. To suggest otherwise is to give in to the the type of PC nonsense that gives ignoramuses such as Donald Trump space to demagogue their way to power.

        • pannonica says:

          ‘descry’, or ‘decry’?

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          So it’s feminists who are to blame for Trump? I couldn’t disagree more.

          • Rick says:

            I didn’t say “feminists” were to blame for Trump. I said that those who spew PC nonsense are (in part) to blame for Trump’s support. You can be a feminist without engaging in the nonsense that “history” should be written as “his/her/story” or without suggesting that the use of a sexist phrase in a crossword puzzle suggests that the author is himself (I don’t add “or herself” for Mr. Henley) sexist.

          • pannonica says:

            The Greek istōr, of course, has nothing to do with the Old English pronoun he. No one sensible would argue that ‘herstory’ nonsense, and to associate it with reasoned complaints of merit is to diminish them unfairly.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Not sure where you pulled this “herstory” line of reasoning from, but it’s got nothing to do with me or this blog. It seems a little angry-man-in-the-’70s-or-’80s.

          • pannonica says:

            Crossword puzzles, especially those in mainstream outlets, have an editorial tone to maintain. Including unnecessarily sexist (or racist, et cetera) clues or entries is tantamount to tacit approval and perpetuation of the status quo, if not outright regressive. This isn’t ‘Art’, designed to challenge sensibilities.

        • bhensley says:

          I think all that’s being suggested is that sexist phrases don’t belong in crossword puzzles (or anywhere else, really), and I agree with that completely. Whatever value the clue had in terms of wordplay is thoroughly negated by the overt sexism and the crossword would have been much better without it.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Thanks, Brandon. I really appreciate your remarks here today.

            When I wrote about the GODDESS clue last night, I didn’t know if it originated with you or the editor. Certainly, the editor has the final say, and certainly, this isn’t the first time I’ve taken issue with sexist language being presented uncritically in the NYT crossword. I’d like to see improvement—and perhaps more women would submit crosswords to the Times if the puzzle’s content didn’t sometimes alienate them.

  7. chris says:

    liked the clue for tees, but audibly groaned when i got to teevee after that. would have been alright if tees had been clued in, say, a golf sense.

  8. bob says:

    LAT: inept and inane – and that’s being kind. Glad it’s trash day so it can go where it belongs. Shame, shame!

  9. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I believe they announced that they’d be going back to roman numerals for Super Bowls again once it isn’t a single letter. I think they just didn’t want to imply this year would be smaller than 2006.

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