Wednesday, February 17, 2016

NYT 4:58 (Erin) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


LAT 3:57 (Gareth) 


CS 10:21 (Ade) 


AV Club 7:23 (Ben) 


BuzzFeed 6:43 (Amy) 


Kyle Mahowald’s New York Times crossword—Erin’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 11 17, no 0217

NY Times crossword solution, 2 11 17, no 0217

Hope you’re toasty warm while solving this crossword full of COLD WEATHER PUNS:

  • 20a. [Informant trapped after an icy storm?] EDWARD SNOWED IN (Snowden)
  • 26a. [Actress with an icy stare?] JODIE FROSTER (Foster)
  • 44a. [Pitcher of ice?] CURT CHILLING (Schilling)
  • 52a. [Next Republican nominee after Dwight D. Ice in Shower left office?] BARRY COLD WATER (Goldwater)

Overall there are four cute puns (five, including Dwight D. Ice in Shower, which would have been a great addition if it weren’t too long). There is no consistency in how the puns are formed — there’s a spelling change, letter addition, and two consonant/digraph changes — but I like them all. JODIE FROSTER was actually used before in a 1999 NYT with a celebrity “add a letter to form a pun” theme, but it works here, and I think a repeat themer almost 17 years later can be forgiven. EDWARD SNOWED IN has to be my favorite of the bunch.

Fill highlights for me are KOALA (I’m a sucker for a cute animal in a grid), TWIX (same for candy), NEW IN TOWN, and ON A WHIMPHRYGIA was gettable with crossings but would not have popped into my head otherwise. Only two cringeworthy entries for me this time around. First, ACER as [One scoring on a serve], or “one who aces” (yes, it logically follows that one who aces would be an acer, but I cannot find an article or dictionary defining it this way). Second, the Old Testament abbreviation EXOD, or any biblical book abbreviation really, but EXOD is super clunky.

Overall, a theme that brought some smiles, and smooth fill in the majority of places. 3.4 stars, and a picture of a baby koala.

Photo by ysaleth

Photo by ysaleth


Ben Tausig’s AVCX crossword, “Apple Turnover” — Ben’s Review

Apple Turnover

Apple Turnover

It’s back to business as usual with the AV Club puzzle after last week’s fantastic themeless.  At 2.5/5 in difficulty, it’s also a nice, easy puzzle after last week’s 4.5/5 stumper.  This week’s theme entries are a nice salute to what I still need to do on my iPad:

  • 17A: Icons that caused a schism under Pope Bowser X?  — HOLY WARIOS
  • 24A: Three mushrooms to every one slice, et al.? — PIZZA RATIOS
  • 38A/42A: What one might say, Schwarzenegger-style, before drinking a bottle of Ex-Lax? — ADIOS / BLOCK
  • 52A: “The guy who sang ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ wants to join us” — COOLIO’S DOWN
  • 63A: Periodic installations for iPhone users, and what this puzzle’s theme answers receive — IOS UPDATES

A cute theme that fell into place pretty quickly from a solving standpoint.  There’s lots of other great cluing and fill in the puzzle:

  • 32A: Recent TV platform for Bernie Sanders — SNL (I watched the episode he cameoed on and yet still put down PBS in the puzzle as though it’s only been debates)
  • 47A: Big name in early synth keyboards — MOOG
  • 48A: Reid of the Sharknado franchise — TARA (congrats, Tara!  You’re now no longer just the star of the reality TV show ‘Taradise’!)
  • 27D: Cereal that contains none of the first word’s homonym — FROOT LOOPS
  • 35D: This is what it sounds like when doves cry — COO (Just a straight-up Prince lyric?  I love it.  Well done, Mr. Tausig.)
  • 53D: “___ Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969 Bond film) — ON HER (I love this Bond movie because Diana Rigg is the bond girl, but I would have loved it even more if Sean Connery was in it instead of George Lazenby)

Solid fill (without too many over-used entries) and a fun theme made for a quick, enjoyable solve.  Nicely done, AV Club!

4/5 Stars

Doug Peterson and Angela Olson Halsted’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Taking Its Toll” — Jim’s review

Angels are getting their wings in today’s puzzle with words that can precede BELL. 26D reveals all: [Popular 1970s attire, and a hint to the answers to the starred clues] is of course BELL BOTTOMS. The *’d entries are all vertical and their last, or BOTTOM, words can all precede BELL.

From left to right, they are:

WSJ - Wed, Feb 17, 2016 - "Taking Its Toll" by Doug Peterson and Angela Olsen Halstead

WSJ – Wed, Feb 17, 2016 – “Taking Its Toll” by Doug Peterson and Angela Olson Halsted

  • 3D [*U2 album featuring the Top Ten hit “Mysterious Ways”] ACHTUNG BABY. Baby Bell, as in those companies that resulted after the breakup of “Ma Bell” in the 1980s (and not the cheese. ). As for the U2 album, other hits from this, their second-best-selling album, include “One” and “The Fly”. The album helped redefine the band at a time when they were losing relevance and secured their long-standing future.
  • 24D [*Risky activity at a thrash metal concert] STAGE DIVING. Diving bell. I would have thought SKY DIVING would have more universal appeal in a puzzle, but obviously symmetry has its demands.
  • 7D [*Sales mantra] ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Closing bell. Nice grid-spanning find! I didn’t know this phrase as it’s been many years since I saw Glengarry Glen Ross, but it was the driving force behind Alec Baldwin’s character to get the guys to sell more property.
  • 9D [*It replaced the Cherokee, and was later replaced by the Cherokee] JEEP LIBERTY. Liberty Bell.

Good choices for theme entries, all of them lively and interesting.

There aren’t any long, flashy Across answers, probably because of the need to separate the large amount of theme squares. But the shorter stuff is all good and clued interestingly.

Other notes:

  • I like the connection between British monarchs in the clues for 59A CORGI [Queen Elizabeth’s Willow or Holly] and 11D PUG [Queen Victoria’s Olga or Pedro]. Nice touch.
  • 21A [Demonstrate a chameleonlike quality] seems just as fitting for ADAPT as it is for RE-ADAPT.
  • A couple of interesting factoids worth learning: 9A [Nation constitutionally prohibited from declaring war] is JAPAN and 37A [Car designed by Ferdinand Porsche] is VW BUG.
  • Never heard of the board game CAREERS (45D [Game whose original paths included Farming and Uranium Prospecting]), but it sounds interesting.

Solid puzzle. As usual. Let’s close, appropriately, with the ALWAYS BE CLOSING speech. Take note of new cluing opportunities for AIDA. (Warning: Some language is NSFW.)

Sam Trabucco’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Held in High Regard”

BuzzFeed crossword solution, 2 17 16 "Held in High Regard"

BuzzFeed crossword solution, 2 17 16 “Held in High Regard”

Basic hidden-word theme here: 55a. [Ones smuggling “influential” secrets inside them…like the answers to the starred clues?] clues DRUG MULES. The starred answers have drugs hidden within them:

  • 15a. [* Absolutely, no-turning-back committed], BALLS-DEEP. Such a gross term. The Strong Language blog recently discussed whether the term pertains to sexual penetration or standing balls-deep in water.
  • 22a. [* “Hmmmmmm…”], LET ME THINK.
  • 32a. [* “G’day, first Irish person I’ve met!”], TOP O’ THE MORNIN’.
  • 47a. [* 2014 B.o.B. song and an incredibly apt theme entry for this puzzle], HIGH AS HELL. The title and a theme answer should never share a key word like high. That’s a crossword foul.

This puzzle annoyed me so much, starting right at 1-Across with the utterly ridiculous clue for C-SPOT as a blend of G-spot and C-SPAN: [Word used by a person who’s confused between a channel that broadcasts the proceedings of the U.S. Federal government with the most erogenous area of the vagina]. No. No, no, no. Either clue it straight as dorky slang for a $100 bill, or don’t put the answer in your grid. How many solvers who’ve never heard of the currency slang think the constructor’s just making up terms to fit the grid?

Six other items in the debit column:

  • 14a. [Match with someone who just wants to hurt you :(], BOUT. I really don’t think the frowny emoticon adds any value to the clue.
  • Singular SCAD at 21a? Not good fill. Nobody talks about a scad of anything. It’s scads.
  • 43a. [Rate of how rekt your opponents are getting in MMORPG video games], DPS. I am not the target audience for this puzzle. Deaths per second? No idea. (See also: 16d. [Sneakily and on one’s own, in slang], DOLO. Say what?)
  • 53a. [Off-rd transport whose name HAS to be an exaggeration.], ATV. Why is the period at the end of the clue and not after off-rd?
  • 11d. [The ______ Lesg, an aptlynamed dance move created by the DS Boyz], STANKY. Two typos: it’s Leg, not Lesg, and aptly named is not one word. I’m an editor and cannot give such things a pass.
  • 45d. [Use a deuce to stop a flush?], CLOG. Gross. Can we not evoke giant turds in our crosswords?

On the plus side, I really like the answers PROM DATE, NONEVENT, and SNAPCHAT. And I found SHAWTY and STANKY much more accessible (and fun) than DOLO and DPS.

2.9 stars from me.

Ian Livengood’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Extra! Extra!”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.17.16: "Extra! Extra!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.17.16: “Extra! Extra!”

Good day once again, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Ian Livengood, delivers the paper to your door twice, as each of the first three theme entries are puns – in which the each of the two words in the answer is a generic name of a newspaper publication. The fourth theme entry, DAILY DOUBLE, is the reveal (54A: [“Jeopardy!” feature…and what 17-, 30-, and 37-Across is?]).

  • SUN EXAMINER (17A: [Eclipse analyst?])
  • GLOBE STAR (30A: [Standout at a 17th-century London theatre?])
  • POST TIMES (37A: [When Churchill Downs races start?]) – Shoot, you don’t even really need to put the question mark in that clue.

Didn’t get the first theme until the “post times” entry, and worked my way up to fill in the rest. Didn’t help that I put in “debt” instead of LOSS to begin the downs (1D: [What red ink means]). With that, I took a little while to figure out LATEST as well, as I was thinking of a word that actually relates more to rumors and the like (1A: [Gossip, with “the”]). Though I am a pretty TALL person at 6’4″ (23A: [Like many basketball players]), I can’t remember the last time I TRIED ON something at a clothing store before I actually bought it (39D: [Checked for size]). Usually, I do that with shoes, but don’t do that with clothing for some reason. Maybe I have a fear of fitting rooms. (I do remember, however, accidentally being locked inside of those rooms years back. That was bizarre to say the least.) Fun solve!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EVERTON (4D: [Liverpool soccer team])  –”Come on, you Blues!” EVERTON Football Club is a professional soccer team that plays in the top level of English football, the Barclays Premier League. Their main rivals is, obviously, Liverpool Football Club, and one of the most fascinating aspects of those two teams is that their stadiums, Goodison Park (Everton) and Anfield (Liverpool) are less than a mile apart. Talk about a neighborhood rivalry!!

Have fun for the rest of today, and hope to see you all tomorrow!

Take care!


Todd Gross’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160217

LA Times

There are oldish spanning films that seemingly have little in common, at least until you get to the revealer. CROCODILEDUNDEE and INDEPENDENCEDAY were high-grossing, glossy blockbusters; STANDANDDELIVER I’ve never heard of (know the song) – but it had an Oscar nom… What connects them? The always awkward SPELT out THREED. I wonder how many films there are with 3 D’s in the title? Quite a few? Anyway…

For some reason this a themeless-grade 72/32 puzzle…

Best answers: AGESAGO and MANITOBA stacked; oldie ALLINEED, which looks peculiar. JENNER is au courant I guess, if trashy – I’d prefer a reference to Edwards myself.

3 Stars

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19 Responses to Wednesday, February 17, 2016

  1. Jim Hale says:

    Very much enjoyed this puzzle. Quite apt for Wednesday fare.

  2. Mary says:

    Dwight Eisenhower served two presidential terms (1952-1960). In the 1960 presidential election, Democrat John F. Kennedy ran against Republican Richard M. Nixon, who had served as Eisenhower’s vice-president. Barry Goldwater ran as the Republican nominee for president in 1964.

    So how is “Next Republican nominee after Dwight D. Ice in Shower left office” accurate? What am I missing here?

    • Donald Trompe l'oeil says:

      A sense of humor?

      • Mary says:

        That’s funny because one of the reasons I don’t read, much less contribute to, the posts on this blog regularly is that I find that the criticisms of the puzzles all too often to be small-minded, humorless, and painfully slavish to political correctness.

        The clue I commented on simply seems inaccurate; it still does.

    • Gary R says:

      Nixon was the Republican nominee while Eisenhower was still in office, so Goldwater was the first after. Clue/answer threw me at first, too.

      • Joe Pancake says:

        Interesting. I’m sure the awkward (but accurate) clue was chosen to get in the Ice In Shower pun — which I appreciate. I’m a sucker for a bad pun (is there any other kind?), so I enjoyed this puzzle.

  3. Dook says:

    I have the same question. The next Republican nominee after Eisenhower was Nixon. Perhaps the trick here is that Nixon was the nominee BEFORE Eisenhower actually left the office?

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    This week’s purportedly “easy” 2.5 AV Club was much more difficult (pretty much impossible) for me than last week’s 4.5 difficulty, which I got through quite efficiently. I’m not going to go into reasons, which would bore myself, let alone everything else. Everyone already knows my rants, so just look at the clues for 21, 52, 60, 63, 70a and 4 (guess I missed that one :-), 30 and 37d.

    All the underlying phrases before removing “ios” have a meaning. But does “pizza rat” mean anything?

  5. Tony says:

    Anyone else have an issue with the PUZ version of the AV puzzle? Using the Android version of Stand Alone there was white space between 11-D & 35-D, giving me SINAI?COO down and SELF_ across. When I finally used the reveal letter option, it was replaced with a black square.

  6. dave glasser says:

    AVC: did Schwarzenegger famously say Adios somewhere? Hasta La Vista, sure, but I thought that was most of his famed Spanish…

  7. Lois says:

    Natick for me in today’s NYT: Happy Days’ Mrs. C crossing a play of words on Curt Schilling’s name. I know a little baseball now, but not many of the famous names of the past. I guess this is likely to happen in a puzzle filled with names and plays on names, but I was unhappy. I prefer EXOD., which I didn’t get but which had fair crossings. Now that I’ve read Amy’s explanation, I like it, though she didn’t.

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