Sunday, February 14, 2016

CS 15:58 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 6:10 (Andy) 


NYT 8:13 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed (Amy) 


Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword, “All You Need”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 14 16 "All You Need"

NY Times crossword solution, 2 14 16 “All You Need”

What was that dreadful “All I Need” song? From that soap actor? Jack Wagner, yes. I’m sorry the puzzle’s title made me think of that. “All You Need,” per the Beatles, is love, and Mary Lou celebrates 31a: VALENTINE’S DAY with a rebus theme. Aptly, each {LOVE} rebus retains its meaning—there’s no “golden p{love}r” or whatnot. (Although in {LOVE} SET, that’s a LOVE of a different derivation, the French “egg” zero.) There are two unchecked squares in this right/left symmetry grid with a heart in the middle—each contains the {LOVE} rebus.

The theme aspects I didn’t care for were in the cluing. I don’t like this [Romantic date] clue for VALENTINE’S DAY, as “date” seems inapt. (February 14th is a date, and a restaurant outing is a date.) Maybe something like [Romantic observance in February]? Also, 86d is the generic {LOVE} SONGS, and yet 61a and 75a include “song” in their clues. “Tune” would have circumvented the issue if “hit” doesn’t apply to those recordings.

The theme answers are a nice batch, though I didn’t know all the song titles. LOVE ME DO, BE MY LOVE, CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT, IS THIS LOVE, LOVE LETTER, LOVE TAKES TIMES, and TO SIR WITH LOVE are the Acrosses, all clued as songs or an album. The Downs are a more diverse set: entomological LOVEBUG, tennis LOVE SET, generic IN LOVE and ART LOVERS, the movie LOVE ACTUALLY (have not seen it, still!), and generic LOVE TRIANGLE, LOVE SONGS, and LOVE NESTS.

Five more things:

  • 21a. [Musical lead-in to -smith], AERO. I … don’t think I’ve ever seen this approach to cluing AERO. Almost feels like it should be a BuzzFeed clue. (BuzzFeed puzzle editor Caleb Madison did once take a selfie with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. I thought Caleb was posing with his aunt. Big floppy hat. Dude looked like a lady.)
  • 121a. [Where there may be openings in the medical field?], ERS. I had ORS first, because nearly all trips to the operating room entail some “openings” whereas many emergency room patients don’t get sliced open beyond a needle-stick.
  • 40d. [Kirk Douglas, Robert Wagner and Gregory Peck, for Frank Sinatra], EULOGISTS. Great approach to cluing what could have been an awkward plural answer. Plus: trivia!
  • 53d. [What’s the point of marking things?], FELT TIP. Kind of a weird question-mark clue, but kind of fun too.
  • 117a. [Hindu honorific], SRI. This clue, or a fill-in-the-blank [___ Lanka]? Always pretty boring in a crossword. Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead Saturday, and there’s talk that a key federal appeals court judge named Sri Srinavasan is a leading candidate to be nominated to the Supreme Court. With our current ELENA, SONIA, and ALITO, he has the potential to be a cruciverbal all-star.

Lots of rough fill in this grid, what with the nine rebus squares locking things down in much of the grid. Just eyeballing the Acrosses, I’m frowning at BARIC, OGEE, ILIA, ERTES, HOR, ONE LIRA, GTE, and EDO.

3.9 stars from me. Happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate—and Happy Random Sunday That’s Followed by Presidents Day to all of you!

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “A Little Much” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 2/14/16 • "A Little Much" • Cox, Rathvon • solution

CRooked • 2/14/16 • “A Little Much” • Cox, Rathvon • solution

43-across seems to encapsulate the oxymoronic nature of the theme: [“Festina __” (“make haste slowly”)] LENTE. Here are the precisely crafted, sometimes precarious, two-word phrases:

  • 23a. [Public park you don’t see often?] RARE COMMON.
  • 27a. [Tennis tournament that’s hard to call?] CLOSE OPEN.
  • 28a. [Bigger loser at Vegas?] WORSE BETTER. Will address this one after the list.
  • 46a. [Exhibition of pelts?] HIDE SHOW.
  • 48a. [Strongbox teetering on a shelf?] INSECURE SAFE.
  • 61a. [Cheater’s poker hand?] CROOKED STRAIGHT.
  • 78a. [Hospital employee who’s a slob?] MESSY ORDERLY.
  • moreoreless82a. [What people tired of “Utopia” want?] LESS MORE.
  • 98a. [Psychiatrist who’s really great?] SWELL SHRINK.
  • 102a. [Gluteus of the Year award winner?] TOP BOTTOM.
  • 109a. [Leading man in a play by Noel?] COWARD HERO. Could’ve used the non-gendered ‘protagonist’ in the clue. Also, he affected a superfluous diaeresis, which doesn’t appear in the .pdf either.

A couple of these (46a, 109a) are appositional in their opposition, which is kind of neat. Back to 28-across: better as a variant of bettor; despite the recent prescription for the use of the -er suffix for all occupational nouns derived from verbs (e.g., vender, jailer) I’m resistant to adopting it, especially in instances where it’s orthographically indistinguishable from a comparative adjective (e.g., better, lesser).

Oh, and 27-across requires a pronunciation change to work.

Despite these dings, or snipes, I liked theme quite a lot.

  • Cute way to open the proceedings at 1-across: [Prefix on cross] MOTO-.
  • Some éclat in the cluing: 45a [Skye cap] TAM, 59d [Medium power?] ESP – I liked those two best.
  • Fooled me: 76a [Slate, for short] was not the ubiquitous E-MAG but SKED.
  • 94a [“The Wall” writer] SARTRE. 105d [Algerian port] ORAN. So where’s Camus?
  • 31a [Drops in a box] MAILS, 101d [Drops from above] RAIN.
  • 67d [Italian’s “Enough”] BASTA, which is what I first tried for a similar clue in today’s NYT, referencing Spanish. (It turned out to be NO MÁS.)
  • 75d [Middle of some months] IDES. All months; doesn’t have to be the 15th.

Fun puzzle.

Jake Braun’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Cherish the Thought”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 2.14.16, "Cherish the Thought," by Jake Braun

LAT Puzzle 2.14.16, “Cherish the Thought,” by Jake Braun

I solved Mary Lou Guizzo’s NYT puzzle right before solving this one, so I couldn’t help but laugh when I opened this grid. Looks like we have a Valentine’s Day showdown!

Full points to Mary Lou’s grid: her heart-shape is flawless, while this one’s a little lopsided and has a chunky hole in the middle. The themes are fairly different, though; while Mary Lou’s puzzle was a LOVE rebus, this one has long entries whose first words are terms of endearment:

  • 24a, TOOTSIE ROLL [*120-year-old candy]. They often taste 120 years old, too.
  • 95a, SUGAR DADDY [*Ingénue’s benefactor]. A surprisingly risque topic for the LAT crossword! Certainly the relationship need not be male-female, as “ingénue” implies.
  • 98a, ANGEL FALLS [*Venezuelan wonder].
  • 115a, HONEY BADGER [*Weasel relative]. 
  • 3d, SWEETHEART DEAL [*Offer that can’t be refused]. I understand that they’re going for a reference here, but plenty of people have refused sweetheart deals.
  • 16d, BABE IN THE WOODS [*Innocent].

I have to say, if someone called me a few of those, we would not be Valentines.

On top of those six theme answers, there’s a bit of a mini-theme going on within the (figurative and literal) heart of the grid:

  • 60a, VALENTINE [Today’s honoree, nicknames for whom begin the answers to starred clues]
  • 25d, I LUV U [Informal message for one’s 60-Across]
  • 33a/35a, BE/MY [With 35- and 60-Across, request for today]. Aw, Jake, you shouldn’t have!

Altogether, that’s a decent amount of theme. I wasn’t a big fan of the unchecked U in I LUV U, though it wasn’t ambiguous.

The fill suffered AT TIMES from the ambitious theme. The lowlight for me was NOOP [Slangy refusal], which I’ve neither seen nor heard before. There’s stuff like A SON and A RIP and AN EGG (whose clue contains the word “hen” and then HENS appears elsewhere in the grid), SAPORS, RUER, and the whole section of the heart with ILA/ACNED/YENNING/EDA/INA. But there was also stuff like BARRACUDA and HEAT WAVE crossing STAR WARS. Definitely an UP AND DOWN solving experience.

I’m assuming 21a, CREEP [One who gives you chills] isn’t thematic, and I’m hoping it doesn’t become thematic for anyone else today. Happy Valentine’s!

Until next time!

Jeff Chen’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 02.14.16

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 02.14.16

Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all! I’m not sure I have enough love to give to reach each and every member of the Fiend community for being such great people and fans of crosswords and wanting to come on here and share your passion, but I’ll try my best to let you all know individually that you are much appreciated!

My apologies I have been MIA the past few days (and I’ll double back and get to those grids after I finish this blog), but definitely am happy to be back for Mr. Jeff Chen’s offering today! Lots of 15s (four of them), so I was definitely a fan, and all of them went down without too much of a hassle. Very slow start in the Northwest, so hopped to the Northeast and first filled in SHARI to start the road to grid completion (8D: [Lewis with 12 Emmys]). That, however, mistakenly made me fill in “Hopi” instead of ZUNI right after, and I wasn’t able to untangle that until the very last clue I got to complete the puzzle (22A: [Pueblo tribe of New Mexico]). Some of the answers I really loved in the grid were of the short variety, including CORK (and the way it was clued) (19A: [It might be removed in celebration]) and the famous big screen bully, BIFF (46A: [“Back to the Future” antagonist]). Probably the best part of the grid was the intersection of full names in the Northeast, with ANN LEE (28A: [Founder of the American Shakers]) and ERIC IDLE (11D: [Portrayer of Brave Sir Robin]). If you don’t have Monty Python skits running through your mind right now, then there’s something wrong with you!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GIPP (23A: [Notre Dame football legend George]) – “Win just one for the Gipper!” The universally famous line used by legendary football head coach Knute Rockne in a speech to rally his team to a victory over an undefeated Army team in 1928 is in reference to George GIPP, one of the first football players to be named an All-American at Notre Dame. Gipp. Gipp, who played quarterback and halfback (among other positions) died from a strep throat infection in December of 1920. Yes, the speech Rockne made, in which he referenced Gipp’s request from his death bed to win one for him, wasn’t made by Rockne until eight years later, when Notre Dame upset Army. As many of you may know, Ronald Reagan – who played the role of George Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American, used the “win one for the Gipper” line during his presidency, and eventually, one of Reagan’s nicknames was, “The Gipper.”

Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Take care!


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Try A Little Tenderness”—Amy’s write-up

Washington Post crossword solution, 2 14 16, "Try A Little Tenderness"

Washington Post crossword solution, 2 14 16, “Try A Little Tenderness”

I didn’t actually solve this puzzle—after a long day of lounging about with my sweetie, then working, and now watching The Walking Dead (OMG! WTF?), once I saw that it was a rebus puzzle (like today’s NYT), my heart wasn’t in it. (Valentine’s Day 21×21 rebus theme, one to a customer!) So I revealed the rest of the solution, and here it is.

There’s a {KISS} rebus, with the rebus squares in eight symmetrically located spots. The rebus answers include the somewhat contrived KISS FAN, solid KISS ME KATE, good GOODBYE KISS, the song THIS KISS, juicy verb phrase KISS UP TO, ’70s pop-cult KISS MY GRITS, moist FRENCH KISS, the Klimt painting THE KISS, a gross WET KISS, nasal ESKIMO KISS, tender FIRST KISS, rude KISS AND TELL, unfamiliar song KISSING YOU, [Flirtatious expression] KISS MY FACE that I’d like better if it were clued as the toiletries brand, hopefully consensual STEALS A KISS, and sporty KISS-CAM.

The central answer is 66a. [Offering on Valentine’s Day, and in this puzzle], BOX OF CHOCOLATES. Wait, somebody’s giving a box with a measly eight Hershey’s KISSes, a wholly inferior chocolate? (Don’t believe me? Google up what the Europeans say about Hershey’s processing with butyric acid and the lingering taste of vomit, and it might ruin the brand for you forever.)

No star rating from me, nor a look at the non-theme content, since I didn’t actually do the puzzle. Enjoy your chocolates!

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17 Responses to Sunday, February 14, 2016

  1. JohnH says:

    So far, this has been the worst of all possible puzzles. A theme I got even before I began entering anything (well, doh), followed by a surfeit of pop trivia that seems certain to keep me from getting anywhere close to the end.

    • JohnH says:

      This morning I owe the puzzle an apology. It went smoothly today, when I finally set to it, without a need for references, for all the song titles and other matters (like Nickelodeon and basketball Hank). I don’t objevt to “Romantic date,” which I took as a pun. I do wonder if anyone outside of crosswords says REUNE.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I didn’t think it was that bad, and the song titles became pretty obvious even when you don’t know them, but I was hoping to — love — this puzzle more than I did. Did anyone notice, and hesitate, as I did, over the “one lira” worth a third of a dollar? It has to be the Turkish lira. I didn’t realize it was worth as much as a third of a dollar, but it’s worth a lot more than the Italian lira, which has been replaced by the Euro anyhow, so that must be it.

    I didn’t think that the clue {perplexity} for “enigma” worked, but I’m too tired to go into it.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Also — I note the death of Justice Scalia, and will observe the principle of not speaking ill of the dead.

  3. Evad says:

    I happily plopped in the 21-letter DONT GO BREAKING MY HEART for the Elton John tune, cleverly thinking it “broke” the heart depicted by the central black squares.

    Definitely worth a listen on this romantic date.

  4. roger says:

    how about “Saintly massacre date” for 31A?

  5. Gary R says:

    Enjoyed the NYT. Even though the theme was fairly obvious, as JohnH noted, above, I thought the fill was fairly lively. The puzzle held my interest sufficiently that I finished the whole thing – something I haven’t bothered with for the past few Sundays. Seemed to hit my sweet spot, as the musical and movie entries were all at least somewhat familiar to me (a rare event).

    I thought it was odd to have the single rebus square at 61-A/48-D that broke the east-west symmetry. Is there some significance to this that I missed (“shot through the heart?”)? Before I recognized the Elton John song, I spent a while trying to get a rebus square into 45-D.

  6. Michael says:

    From a constructing point of view, it must have been uber exciting for Mary Lou to discover IN LOVE and TOUGH LOVE as both the I and the T were cemented in place by the long themers (not to mention ART LOVERS). While these may have been a lucky find, the intersecting pairs/quads of themers in the bottom section clearly required a lot of brute trial and error, persistence and imagination. Brava to Mary Lou for succeeding at creating such a beautiful interlock around a pre-set black square pattern.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Yes this was beautifully constructed. Theme songs spanned the last half-century so no real generational slant. I struggled with the fill but mostly due to my own shortcomings. A pleasure to solve.

  7. LA Steve says:

    Agree with Gary R about the asymmetrical rebus in the Elton John song – I thought it was jarring.

    And the ONE LIRA clue? I thought clues were not meant to be tied to a particular date or time period. What happens if someone does the puzzle next year and there’s four lira to the dollar? Strange.

  8. Karen says:

    LAT: Has anyone ever seen “It’s a son” on a birth announcement?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Not once.

      • Andy says:

        I meant to comment specifically on that when I brought up A SON as subpar fill, but the thought escaped me. Most of the successful clues for that fill in the past have been something akin to [“He’s like ___ to me”].

  9. Harry says:

    Correction on Andy’s review of today’s LAT review. The correct title was “Cherish the Thought.”

    • Andy says:

      My bad: That’s a product of copy-pasting and editing last week’s information for convenience. I got the title right in the caption underneath the puzzle, and have edited the headline of the review. Thanks for the heads-up.

  10. Bob says:

    LAT again filled with contrived abbreviations, obscure allusions, hyperbolic buffoonery, outdated slang, and cutesyness – but certainly NOT a test of word knowledge. When, oh when will they ever get back to REAL crossWORDS????? Puzzles should NEVER test your ability to let the internet do your thinking for you.

  11. Evan says:

    {KISS}Y FACE, not {KISS} MY FACE — no toiletries involved in the former.

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