Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CS 6:49 (Ade) 


Jonesin' 5:22 (Derek) 


LAT 4:08 (Derek) 


NYT 3:10 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 


Hey, first-time attendees at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! A great way to meet friendly people right off the bat is to go to the Friday-evening Cru dinner. (If you’re reading this, you count as part of the Cru[civerbalism] community and are officially invited.) The dinner’s right at the Stamford Marriott, so no worries about finding your way around Stamford upon arrival. Click here for more info about the dinner and how to reserve a spot.

Gordon Johnson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 15 16, no 0315

NY Times crossword solution, 3 15 16, no 0315

This puzzle went faster than the Monday puzzle, despite the theme being harder to see all the parts of, what with pieces going both Across and Down and the two revealer-type answers on opposite sides of the grid. It’s basic chemistry:

  • 20a. [Elements’ various forms], STATES OF MATTER.
  • 52a. [Three main 20-Across … with examples included in 38-Across and 11- and 26-Down], SOLID, LIQUID, GAS.
  • 38a. [Places to do figure eights], ICE SKATING RINKS. Your solid water.
  • 11d. [Large containers often found atop buildings], WATER TANKS. Your liquid.
  • 26d. [Some Mississippi River traffic], STEAMBOATS. Your gaseous form of water.

If the grid has to have REBOIL in it, you’d like to see it not crossing the ICE theme answer. Boiling’s all about water and steam, man.

EBULLIENT and MACADAMIA are lovely entries.

Three more things:

  • 16a. [As a friend, in France], EN AMI. I wonder how often French people actually use this phrase.
  • 64a. [Like much chili], ZESTY. Zesty is not a word I would use to describe chili.
  • 56d. [Show one’s nerdy side, with “out”], GEEK. I like this verb cluing angle.

3.66 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “South by What” – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0098If I get the connection, this puzzle is a nod to the current SXSW, or South by Southwest conferences in Austin, Texas, going on even as we write! The theme entries all have a common phrase with the initial letters “SW” removed. Here they are:

  • 20A [Cut cards with your stomach muscles?] AB THE DECK (Swab the deck)
  • 34A [Right-angled pipes used for gay parade floats?] ELLS WITH PRIDE (Swells with pride)
  • 39A [Nose, bottom of your foot, that spot you can’t reach on your back, e.g.?] ITCH POSITIONS (Switch positions)
  • 57A [Sleeveless garment it’s OK to spill food on?] EATER VEST (Sweater vest)

Kudos for the timeliness of the theme! And lots of interesting and lively fill to boot! Let’s call this one 4.5 stars! Some favorites:

  • 15A [Efficient movements] PARKOUR – This is that jumping around in what looks like a skate park. I’ve never heard it described as “efficient,” but I suppose that describes it quite well!
  • 17A [Share, sometimes] RETWEET – I am not a big Twitter user, so I didn’t think of this immediately. Nice clue!
  • 64A [Zappa with the given name Ian] DWEEZIL – And his sister I believe was Moon Unit!
  • 21D [“___ n’est pas une pipe”: Magritte] CECI – I thought it might be C’EST, but that would be poor French grammar, I think! You have seen this work of art before:magritte
  • 27D [Former “Tonight Show” announcer Hall] EDD – Crossword famous he is!
  • 35D [Rapper ___ Fiasco] LUPE – Soon to be crossword famous perhaps?

Awesome puzzle by Matt this week! Until next week’s Jonesin’!

John R. O’Brien’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0099The upper left of this puzzle stymied me for a bit; but then the puzzle fell rather easily in just over 4 minutes. Are we Stamford ready? Maybe!

This theme I actually figured out before I got to the end. It is explained by the entry at 62-Across:

  • 17A [Latter-day Beau Brummell] METROSEXUAL
  • 27A [Eponymous ’80s fiscal policy] REAGANOMICS
  • 46A [Crossbred guide dog] LABRADOODLE
  • 62A [17-, 27- or 46-Across] PORTMANTEAU

I figured these might be “portmanteau” words, and I was right! Although the aforementioned upper left corner confused me momentarily, the puzzle has smooth fill, even unremarkable, and what crosswordese/trivia that is contained are terms a moderately skilled solver should know. A nice relaxing Tuesday challenge; 3.6 stars today.

Just a couple of notes:

  • 1A [Transparent] LIMPID – I was thinking OPAQUE at first, but that wasn’t working!
  • 3D [Utah’s “Industry,” for one] MOTTO – I had no idea what was meant here. Great clue!
  • 33D [Arizona town where the Earps and Clantons fought] TOMBSTONE – An easy answer for a long entry. I need to look up the movie by this name!

Short entry today. Until the weekend challenges!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 250), “Castro Convertible”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 3/15 (No. 250)

Crossword Nation 3/15 (No. 250)

This was one of those puzzles whose title I covered up before solving, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was seeing anagrams among the themers. Six-letter anagrams at that—and no revealer (I’m pleased to say… because that ups the overall challenge). Neither, though, did I notice an anagram opportunity that Liz might’ve missed. So what would the title be? Of course, when I finally saw it, not only did the light go on, but it gave me a really good laugh. The now-defunct furniture line known as “Castro Convertibles” produced sleep sofas and cocktail tables (that could be raised to dining table height) and other “convertible” styles of furniture (vintage tv spots here). So we get a lotta bang-for-buck where wordplay is concerned, not only with the letters C-A-S-T-R-O, but with “convertible” being code for “anagram.” Four (beautifully) wide-ranging themers (including two grid-spanners), straightforward cluing, all anagrams occurring at the beginning of the fill. And here’s how it plays out:

  • 17A. CASTOR AND POLLUX [Heavenly twins]. Well, actually this is kinda not so straightforward cluing. “Heavenly” here tells us to look to the night sky, for the constellation bearing the name “Gemini” and representing the pair, who belong both to Greek and Roman mythology . It’s not characterizing the guys or their looks or their behavior…
  • 27A. ASTROCYTE [Star-shaped glial cell]. Say wha’? But go back to yer Latin and Greek roots and you’ll see this type of brain cell is exactly as described: astro for star (Latin), cyte for cell (New Latin by way of Greek…).
  • 27A. COSTA RICA [Panama neighbor]. Yep.
  • 57A. ASCOT RACE COURSE [Track that hosts the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes]. Also the track where Eliza Doolittle, in her first public outing in polite society, exhorted Dover (the horse she’d wagered on) to “move your bloomin’ arse!” Oops.

Solving this puzzle was a pleasure, not only because of the smart theme fill, but because so much of the remaining fill was so strong and/or triggered strong associations. While I’ve only been to Italy once, it made a lasting impression on me. So BISCOTTI and GIOTTO? Thanks for the memories! Oh, and Italy is home to the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world.

We get some more mythology by way of the ORACLE at Delphi; and we also get ISADORA Duncan, who based much of her iconic choreography on the ancient Greek Tanagra figures (or figurines…). (Now I’m not saying it’s ideal fill, but in a puzzle with so many allusions to the classical world, it’s not inappropriate that we get some Roman numeral arithmetic… [C x VII] = DCC and even a [Latin I word] AMAT.) Moving from classical history to classical music, hello to [Bach’s “Coffee CANTATA”].

From our more modern ERA, we get ECO-CARS (which should have highly fuel-efficient MPG figures), fast food purveyor ARBY’S and long-time meat processing company ARMOUR, [Supreme Court Justice Stephen BREYER], and [World Trade Center Memorial architect Michael] ARAD. Did you know that name? I was completely unfamiliar with it, it shames me to say. I’ve visited the site and couldn’t have been more moved/impressed if I tried.


SEX TOY? Isn’t that modern ERA? Oh, folks. As long as there’s been SEX, there’ve been SEX TOYs. Here’re some highlights in the history, but fair warning: this will not be in sync with everyone’s comfort level and it’s probably NSFW.

DEBUGS, CRISIS, REPUTE, ACCEDES, OUT ATE (especially in the context of a pie-eating contest), FLOUT—more examples of good fill. Ditto the spoken words of someone in a hurry, “I’M LATE,” and the consoling words “DON’T CRY.” From the animal world, the vivid and specific clues [Spiny lizard] and [Whip-tailed swimmer] for IGUANA and STING RAY respectively, add weight to their presence in the grid. (But because I’m not in love with repeaters [no matter how far apart in meaning], I was a tad let down by seeing UV RAY in there, too…)

Enjoyed the two question-marked clues: [Not in stitches?] for BARE and [Stone figure?] for CARAT. The former plays on the use of the word “stitch”—someone who makes you laugh a lot keeps you “in stitches”; but then there’s the other use—when not having a stitch on means being unclad. The “stone figure” in the latter refers to the weight of a gem stone and not to a figure sculpted in marble.

Is there more to talk about here? Probably. But at this point, I’ll leave it to you to add to the discussion. Thanks for reading, have a great week and keep solving!

John Lampkin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “On Speaking Terms” — Jim’s review

A solid grid today from John Lampkin and a playful theme. We’re given five two-word phrases where the second word can be a synonym for speech or tale, though it typically isn’t used that way in these phrases. The phrases are then clued literally with the alternate meaning.

WSJ - Tue, 03.15.16 - "On Speaking Terms" by John Lampkin

WSJ – Tue, 03.15.16 – “On Speaking Terms” by John Lampkin

  • 17a [Arachnologist’s lecture on spiders?] WEB ADDRESS
  • 26a [Choreographer’s comment to the audience on a dance move?] STEP ASIDE
  • 37a [Grandmaster’s narrative about chess strategy?] CHECKING ACCOUNT
  • 51a [Rabbi’s motivational sermon about Yom Kippur traditions?] FAST PITCH
  • 62a [Conductor’s salute praising Dame Nellie?] MELBA TOAST

A nice set, consistently presented. I also like how the first word in each phrase is changed from its original meaning…except in one case. MELBA TOAST is actually named after Dame Nellie Melba who, according to Wikipedia, became very ill in 1897, and this twice-baked toast became a staple of her diet.

I didn’t know Dame Nellie Melba before this puzzle, but have now learned she was a colossal star in her day and was portrayed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in an episode of Downton Abbey, though apparently they got her all wrong.

Perhaps John could have used FRENCH TOAST [Salute to tongue wresting?] instead, but that would have meant replacing WEB ADDRESS as well.

Mary Lynn Rajskub as CHLOE from “24”

Anyhoo, there are some great non-theme entries in the grid, mostly in the Across direction: REST STOP, DEAD AIM, HEAVE HO, SAWHORSE. Those NW and SE corners are quite nice with JARGON, APOLLO, SELFIE, and PLATTE. And I like the shout out to perpetually frowny-faced CHLOE from 24. Cheer up, CHLOE, you’re in a crossword puzzle!

I have to object to GSTAAD (47d [Swiss ski resort]). That has no business in this puzzle. I’m certain something could have been re-arranged to avoid this, perhaps even going as far as changing KEEPS (39d) to KELPS in order to allow a vowel to go where the G is in GSTAAD.

I also have to object to ADIA (29d [1998 Sarah McLachlan hit]). Constructors, retire this already!  You know what the number one song on Billboard’s list for 1998 was? “Too Close” by Next. Yeah, I have no idea how that goes either. ADIA appears on that list at #20. It was an okay song, but has no lasting cachet 18 years later. I’d much rather have #14 in my puzzle, Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”.

Good clues:

  • 7d GUEST [One who puts up with you]. Though I think a ? might be in order there.
  • 27d SUMO [Mawashi wearer’s sport]. Good bit of trivia.
  • 41d NOEL [Coward who was knighted]. A rather obvious masked capital, but clever anyway.

Overall, nice puzzle with good wordplay, fill, and clues. Very satisfying.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Crackpots”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.15.16

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.15.16

Hello there, everyone! Just putting up the puzzle today, as we’re all in the middle of running around for March Madness. In today’s theme, the letters that make up “POT” end up making up the extremities of the theme answers.

  • POWER PLANT (17A: [Source of electricity])
  • POODLE SKIRT (30A: [Sock hop attire])
  • PENALTY SHOT (48A: [It often results in a goal])
  • PRISON RIOT (66A: [Attica uprising])
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4 Responses to Tuesday, March 15, 2016

  1. ArtLvr says:

    Enjoyed the NYT –Lots of bonus fill relating to theme like holders of air and water, LUNG and MOAT, and it’s a pangram too!

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Despite my praise and general approval of yesterday’s BEQ, I wanted to register that I did not like the clue and entry (56d) {Oldster} for ‘fogy.’ That term is derisive, disparaging and sarcastic, more so than, say “curmudgeon,” which is sometimes delivered with an affectionate twinkle, and in my experience “fogy” is used only to refer to men. I have no doubt that that there are similarly unkind terms referring to women, but that hardly justifies turnabout. The clue “oldster” was a blanket reference, not qualified in any way.

    Incidentally, I endorse Amy’s encouragement to the ACPT first-timers to register for the Cru dinner — promptly. There is more demand than room. It is an excellent social and ice-breaking event.

  3. Bloke says:

    Does anyone else have a problem opening the Jonesin’ puzzle?

Comments are closed.