Friday, February 26, 2016

CS 8:04 (Ade) 


LAT 6:12 (Gareth) 


NYT 6:32 (Amy) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


BuzzFeed 7:22 (Derek) 


Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 26 16, no 0226

NY Times crossword solution, 2 26 16, no 0226

I know I’m tired, but my solving time is distinctly Saturdayish. Did this puzzle play hard for you folks, too, or is it just me?

Lots of tangy fill here: CAPE FEAR, a NEW TOY, VAMOOSED, SANDRA OH (and that surname is not at all a duplication of “OH, DEAR ME“), CAVE BATS (which, I don’t know if that’s an actual zoological term, but I kinda want to call certain people cave bats now), POMPOUS ASS (ditto), and a skeptical “SURE YOU ARE.”

Here are a few reasons the puzzle played like a Saturday:

  • 15a. [Fragile fabric made from certain plant fibers], ALOE LACE. Nothing I’ve ever heard of.
  • The paired “nullius” Latin legalese bits, RES and JURIS. (And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also NISI.)
  • 36d. [2/2, to Toscanini], CUT TIME. Not a term I know.
  • 21d. [Yellow-flowered plant producing a sticky resin], GUMWEED. I’m usually pretty good at plant clues. Never heard of this.

I admire the grid’s diagonal swath in the center with entries of 7+ letters. There are some clunky bits holding this 66-worder together—EMP, SMA, plural TA-TAS and BAHS, EEO, and YERS. There’s no reliance on affixes to lengthen words, though—no RE– or –ERS tacked on and drying things out. (Wait! SUBARID. Prefix and really quite dry!)

Four more things:

  • 26a. [Kennedy and Bush 41, but no other U.S. presidents], GEMINIS. I flailed with MARINES based on the ***IN** at first. Leos have done well lately, but no Aries has been president since Jefferson.
  • 41a. [“Mr. ___” (Styx hit)], ROBOTO. ’80s music for the win! If you didn’t watch season 1 of Mr. Robot, you should watch those 10 mind-bending episodes before season 2 starts in a few months. (The show has nothing to do with Styx, and is way cooler.)
  • 42a. [Blow hole?], NOSTRIL. Whoa. Really? The orifice through which people snort cocaine, or blow? I’m rather surprised to see this clue in the Gray Lady’s crossword.
  • 30d. [Forgo a night out], SIT AT HOME. This phrase doesn’t quite feel “in the language.” SIT HOME would be better, no?

Four stars from me.

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Cardio Workout”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.26.16: "Cardio Workout"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.26.16: “Cardio Workout”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, allows us to have a heart-to-heart…to heart-to-heart! Each of theme entries contains one word that also deals with that little valentine inside of your body.

  • TICKER TAPE (17A: [Passé displayer of stock prices])
  • PLATFORM PUMP (27A: [Shoe to help a woman stand tall])
  • BUZZER BEATER (43A: [Last-second dunk])
  • HEART THROB (57A: [Matinee idol, say])

It’s definitely a coincidence, but RHEA, after not coming across it in a grid for a long while, has popped up pretty frequently over the past couple of weeks in different puzzles I’ve solved, especially on here (18D: [The Americas’ largest bird]). Interesting enough that we had another bird, ROOSTER, intersecting rhea, making this grid one for the birds (24A: [Farm alarm]). Some of the longer fill was decent, though not spectacular. Just noticed the rhyme time that occurred in the Northeast with CONE (16A: [Receiver of a scoop]) and a HONE stacked together (19A: [Sharpen]). Nothing much more to add, other than to say this is another solid offering from Ms. Lempel today.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GRIZZLIES (33A: [Rocket’s rivals])  –I’m a sure a good number got what was going on here, but, in case you didn’t, just know that the Rockets referenced in the clue are the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the entry references the Memphis GRIZZLES, another NBA team. Before residing in Graceland, the Grizzlies’ franchise started out in Vancouver, as it was founded in 1995 as part of the league’s expansion into Canada. Coincidentally, the Grizzlies’ last home game in Vancouver before their move occurred on April 14, 2001…against the Houston Rockets.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


David Steinberg’s BuzzFeed crossword, “The That’s So 2012 Themeless”—Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.15.36 PMThis may be one of my last BuzzFeed reviews, as the puzzle is discontinuing soon, and if this is the final one, this is a good puzzle to go out on! Another masterpiece by young David Steinberg, which is not surprising since most every puzzle of his I have solved is high quality. This puzzle is probably a little edgy for NYT, so this is the perfect venue for this one. The theme denotes there are a lot of references that were quite valid 4 years ago; perhaps that is when the puzzle was first made? Perhaps a NYT rejection revamped for here? Perhaps. It’s a good thing this puzzle got published somewhere, since it is a great one! 4.7 stars from me!

Some of my faves:

  • 1A [Viral video meme where normal people start going crazy when the beat drops] HARLEM SHAKE – Was this really 4 years ago??
  • 15A [2008 French Open winner] ANA IVANOVIC – She hasn’t played as well in recent years (she is currently ranked #16 in the WTA rankings), but she could be a model if she wasn’t a gifted athlete! She even appeared in the SI Swimsuit issue a couple of years ago.ivanovic
  • 32A [Ancient Greek port city restored by Alexander the Great] SMYRNA – …or, a city in Georgia!
  • 46A [546-year-old cartoon character voiced by Jonathan Winters] PAPA SMURF – I guess I didn’t realize he was that old!
  • 63A [Last name in experimental music and many crosswords that’s one letter away from another last name in experimental music and many crosswords] ENO – The other word is, of course, EMO. Great clue, and it fits the long clue BuzzFeed format!
  • 64A [Ambitious Kickstarter target] STRETCH GOAL – Was this timely in 2012? Probably! I know some of the best puzzle suites I have ever done have been purchased through this site. Trip, when is your next one???!!!
  • 2D [Dangers to gardens?] ANAGRAM – I always get tripped up by these anagram clues!
  • 3D [Like 17-Across, 66-Across, and 14-Down] RAUNCHY – The answers referenced here are SAUSAGE-FESTBOOTY SHORTS, and SEX TAPE. As stated, a little racy for the NYT!
  • 5D & 6D [Youngest (Oldest) Gabor sister (they were like the midcentury Kardashians)] EVA and MAGDA – Great clue(s)! Bonus points for them being adjacent in the grid!
  • 11D [___-1 (“Ghostbusters” vehicle)] ECTO – Anxiously awaiting the new Ghostbusters reboot with female leads this time!
  • 33D [Hannah’s erratic on-again, off-again “Girls” boyfriend] ADAM – Played by the same named Adam Driver, who is now mega-famous by appearing the the newest Star Wars movie!
  • 39D [Controversial Red Bull ingredient] TAURINE – I have drank these in the past; now I just try to get more sleep! I use only in emergencies!!
  • 55D [Dog who probably peed on the Yellow Brice Road] TOTO – Probably my favorite clue, in typical BuzzFeed snarky mode!

Great puzzle, David! Perhaps we will bump into each other at Stamford!

James Sajdak’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160226

LA Times

Today’s puzzle features a sound change. Two-word Phrases whose second words end in a terminal ən have that changed to iŋ. That’s quite open-ended as changes go; it could easily be a Sunday, I think, so quality control is imperative. I enjoyed most of the answers, especially for the changes from original to new word. The exception is EGYPTIANRUIN. That is not a phrase. Surely that’s a puzzle-breaking flaw right there… Am I missing something?

Today’s set is:

  • [Québec quiche, e.g.?], CANADIANBAKING (bacon)
  • [Saying “It wasn’t me” when, in fact, it was?], COWARDLYING (lion)
  • [“Wish we had built a bigger pyramid,” e.g.?], EGYPTIANRUING (ruin???)
  • [Greeting from a faithful friend?], WELCOMEWAGGING (wagon). Beautiful.

Other stuff:

  • [Tesoro de la Sierra Madre], ORO. Are tesoro and oro related to each other? Because the fact ORO is in TESORO put me off the answer for a while…
  • [It can be cured], HAM. Gosh but I clung to HAY here… It seemed so right!
  • [Stretcher, to Huck Finn], LIE. Fun clue!
  • [Legendary Australian outlaw], NEDKELLY. Whose get rate in Learnedleague was a mere 34%. I was expecting 85+… Surely?
  • [Like petroglyphs], INTAGLIOED. Fun word. I think it means more or less etched and then filled with ink?

I liked most of the puzzle; however that third entry seems fundamentally flawed. Pending an explanation, I am abstaining rating this puzzle.
Gareth, leaving you with this song, that name checks UTA Hagen:

Todd McClary’s Chronicle of Higher of Education crossword, “Found in Translation” — παννονικα’σ write-up

CHE • 2/26/16 • "Found in Translation" • McClary • solution

CHE • 2/26/16 • “Found in Translation” • McClary • solution

A quintessential Chronicle theme, and splendidly realized.

  • 20a. [It was unearthed by a French soldier in July 1799] ROSETTA STONE.
  • 28a. [Top feature of the 20 Across] HIEROGLYPHICS, of the Egyptian variety.
  • 45a. [Middle feature of the 20 Across] DEMOTIC SCRIPT, also Egyptian.
  • 51a. [Bottom feature of the 20 Across] ANCIENT GREEK.

All three elements, in correct top-to-bottom order, it doesn’t get any better than that in a factual theme.

The theme works so well, seems so natural, that one might be led to think it just writes itself, but of course that isn’t the case. It takes work and craft to get it just so, even if the raw material is exceptionally conducive.

  • rosettastoneTimely clues: 16a [Third-place finisher at the 2016 Iowa Caucus] RUBIO, 19a [Park planning to unveil a “Frozen”-themed flume ride in 2016] EPCOT, 40a [Setting for the Tungurahua volcano] ANDES.
  • 44a [H on a fraternity paddle] ETA. Also found on, oh, the ROSETTA STONE.
  • Opera! 49a [“The Bartered Bride” composer] SMETANA (Bedřich), 14a [Igor Stravinsky’s “Scorned! Abused! Neglected!,” e.g.] ARIA (The Rake’s Progress). More ARTSY Higher Ed material in the form of literature (Dostoevsky, Mann), painting (Goya), plus history and much more. Not that it’s all stodgy and ivory-towered; there’s room for Fleetwood Mac, Alicia Keyes, the Hunger Games, some comic-strip character whom I’ve never heard of—LIO (one of the weaker bits of fill)—and more.
  • Favorite clue: 36a [Depressing words?] SAY AH. And it’s right in the center.
  • 47d [Alligator cousin] CAIMAN. Once again, I’m probably in the minority in waiting to see if it might be GAVIAL.
  • aji_amarilloMy least-favorite fill, and I freely admit that it’s because it’s newfangled stuff I couldn’t be bothered to be informed about, includes the aforementioned 12d LIO and the afore-alluded-to 31d PANEM. No love for abbrevs. 43d [Bishop’s rte.] DIAG and 30a [Navy noncom] CPO.
  • Conversely, I was fine with 7d [Peppers, in South American cuisine] AJIS. Or, they were fine with me. Back to 40-across?

All right, it’s late in the day and it’s high time for this to be posted. Once again, I really enjoyed this crossword and it epitomizes the CHE both in theme and supporting fill.

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22 Responses to Friday, February 26, 2016

  1. dave glasser says:

    While I had the same initial reaction to NOSTRIL… it is also a hole that you blow out of.

    • pannonica says:

      Less controversially (and more conventionally), a whale’s blowhole is a nostril homologue; a tamer version of the clue could have been [Blowhole, essentially].

  2. Sam Scott says:

    The illicit connotations of NOSTRIL didn’t even occur to me perhaps because my house is beset w sick kids, very much blowing their noses in a family friendly manner.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I never thought I would get through this, but somehow I did; but it took me about three times longer even than the typical weekend puzzle

    The musical term “cut time” was well clued, with the reference to Toscanini, since it is most relevant to a conductor. Suppose a conductor is beating 4 times a measure in the usual pattern — down, left, right, up but wants to tell the orchestra to accelerate, e.g. in a coda (ending), but doesn’t want to wave frantically 4 times a measure. He (she) will change to “cut time” i.e. two arm motions a measure — down, up, down, up — thereby facilitating a much more rapid tempo.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Are there any “Cancer” presidents? I hate the double meaning of my astrological sign, though I have no interest in it and know that it means the crab. People who revel in astrology often suspect me of being a Gemini, but I don’t know what that implies.

      • Gary R says:

        A list I found on line indicates that John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and G.W. Bush were all born under the Cancer sign.

        I’ll leave it to others of a more liberal persuasion to have fun with your double meaning.

        • Lois says:

          I’ll address the other aspect of Bruce’s post, that he feels a bit like a Gemini.

          Very often, a person in a particular sign feels that he or she has the qualities of a neighboring sign. That could be because one’s birthday sign is the Sun sign, and Mercury and Venus can never be that far from the sun. Mercury has to be in the same sign as the sun, or in the sign before, or in the sign after. Venus also has to be relatively near. Therefore, one might have the particular characteristics of the relevant signs. (Obviously, I’m into this.)

          I myself am a Cancer (Sun in Cancer), with Venus in Gemini and Mercury in Leo.

          You can find out everything you need to know at the excellent, free Swiss website at (some items come at a cost, but not the main things).

  4. Matt says:

    Took a while to get a foothold in the NYT, and then slow but steady fill-in. I had EDITOR for TAILOR which, I guess, slowed me down in the NE, but it was mostly either no idea or wrong idea at first, with light dawning slowly.

    • Pete Collins says:

      I confidently plunked down HITMAN for TAILOR.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Ditto on Editor for Tailor.

      Geez did I have a lot to untangle on this puzzle, and untangling is one of the things I’m worst at. It’s amazing how often I will erase a whole corner except for the one word which turns out to be incorrect. I started with semi sec for moderately dry, instead of subarid — a word I’ve never heard. It took me a long time to figure out “escape key.” Bribing a guard? Naturally, it didn’t occur to me to think of computers and their keyboards. And I don’t think of keyboards as having north wests, even though puzzles do. And I can never figure out the cute generation names, so I left in Xers, thinking that little kids often like to play with the box as much as the toy inside. I assume “new boy” means an infant. I don’t want to think too pruriently. I never did correct the X.

  5. David L says:

    Tougher than usual. I breezed through the NW and SE, got the SW corner, then ground to a halt. CUTTIME was meaningless to me also, and it didn’t help that I had MABARKER because I didn’t read the clue carefully. But then, as Mr Parker points out, there’s little indication that PABARKER was a real person, at least not with that name. Wiki sez that his real name was George Barker, but there’s no sign he was known as PA. So that seems like a cheat to me.

    I had XERS for a long time, because all this generation naming stuff is confusing, and I’ve never seen YERS anyways.

    Otherwise a tough but mostly fair puzzle. ALOELACE and GUMWEED were new to me, but figure-outable.

  6. sbmanion says:

    I confidently answered all three Latin legalisms even though I did not know any of the specific clues. NISI PRIUS is the court that originally decided the case in U.S. jurisprudence. RES is almost always the right answer when talking about any “thing” in the law. JURIS just seemed logical.

    Notwithstanding a few toeholds, I found the puzzle to be very hard. I have seen both Cape Fear movies, but did not realize that Scorsese directed the DeNiro movie. I had never heard of ALOE LACE or GUMWEED (one word or two?) and I was fooled by several clues especially the one for ESCAPE KEY.

    Definitely a Saturday for me. Well done.


  7. ktd says:

    Buzzfeed: The second last name referred to by the 63A clue is ONO, not EMO.

  8. Gareth says:

    WOW! Hardest NYT of the year!! I was reduced to screaming the clues out loud and swearing… Top right and bottom left weren’t too problematic, but the rest. PABARKER??? GUMWEED??? CUTTIME??? Had EATATHOME and had BETREENUE for a goodly time. Even with SUREYOU couldn’t make head nor tail of that clue. Mysterious phrase (that I somehow guessed?) USERFEES, mysterious nams RONDE and SANDRAOH plus meaningless clues [Demolition cleanup machine] (I still don’t know what that means!) made that the hardest corner, but the top-left with CAVEBATS (wanted to guess that, but couldn’t believe it was an answer…), plus ALOELACE and CAPEFEAR that I only vaguely know is a film, and BOOMED that so wanted had it not far behind.

    Thank you. That was your run-on screed for the day…

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one. I share many of your specific reactions. I guess if something gets demolished the pieces have to be loaded on something and carted off, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. The original Cape Fear, with Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Polly Bergen was a great if harrowing movie, shocking for its time. Bats live in caves so I suppose you could call them cave bats, but it sounds like a roll-your-own expression to me. Perhaps we can get Ade to tell us about the (American) football twins Ronde and Tiki Barber.

      • pannonica says:

        There are some species commonly called ‘cave bats’, but it isn’t a cohesive, monophyletic group. One Australian genus, however, contains a few such species, along with others termed ‘forest bats’.

        Ecologically (that is, non-taxonomically), ‘cave bat’ is also used to describe those species which habitually reside in caves, whether in large colonies or in smaller groups.

  9. Amy L says:

    I can’t believe none of you knew that “Aloe lace is made in Croatia only by Benedictine nuns in the town of Hvar. Thin, white threads are obtained from the core of fresh aloe leaves and woven into a net or other pattern on a cardboard background. The resulting pieces are a symbol of Hvar.” I thought it was common knowledge.

    Gareth: Thanks for the screed. Can I just add MR. ROBOTO??? BOA??? Did Paula Gamache and Will watch RuPaul’s show or just dredge up BOA from Google? Ditto for everything else.

    Amy: Actually, SIT AT HOME sounds much better to me. I would never SIT HOME. Maybe it’s a regionalism.

    • Gareth says:

      BOA yes. I uttered some unspeakable things staring at that clue. ROBOTO was a gimme, though. “Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto” is bored into my skull…

  10. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Nice CHE puzzle and writeup (though at least on this browser there seem to be some stray extra bullets breaking up the bullet list). 31D:PANEM is fitting for the CHE because it suggests both “Pan-America” and the classical Latin “panem et circenses”. Oh, and “παννονιξα” is cute but ξ=xi is an x sound, not the c/k of “Pannonica”, so you probably want Παννονικα with a kappa.


    • pannonica says:

      Ugh. Fixed that formatting for the last time. And you’re absolutely right about my ‘dumb’ straightforward transliteration. This, from someone who prefers to write Herakles to Hercules. Going to adjust that now. Thank you.

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