Thursday, March 17, 2016

BEQ 8:03 (Ben) 


CS tk (Ade) 


Fireball untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 5:40 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:42 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


David Woolf’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 17 16, no 0317

NY Times crossword solution, 3 17 16, no 0317

At first I thought the theme was bending EVEs and then when I saw the EVENs, I figured it was “breaking even.” But no, it goes one step further, with answers containing EVENT turning in the grid:

  • 17a. [Like many disasters, in hindsight], PREVE/NTABLE. The NTABLE portion is shared with OPEN TABLE (surprised it’s not clued as the restaurant-reservation booking site rather than a generic unfilled table).
  • 10d. [Hearst monthly], SEVEN/TEEN, sharing space with CANTEEN.
  • 37d. [Repeated title role for Jim Carrey], ACE V/ENTURA. VENTURA County, Freeway, etc.
  • 59a. [Unforeseen development … or a feature seen four times in this puzzle’s answers?], TURN OF EVE/NTS, crossing AGENTS. Anyone else start to fill in AGENTS and then erase it because of the abbreviated “F.B.I.” in the clue?

The theme/gimmick works pretty smoothly, no?

Three more things:

  • 4d. [Constituent part of Russia bordering Mongolia], TUVA. I thought this was really hard until I remembered that whole “Tuvan throat singers” deal.
  • 15a. [Home invasion, in police shorthand], B AND E. (Breaking and entering.) Probably “B&E,” though, right? The spelled-out ampersand bugs me.

3.9 stars from me.

Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Chances Are” — Jim’s review

Change a letter time! Our revealer is in two parts starting at 55a. [With 62-Across, “in all likelihood…” (and a hint to the puzzle theme)] FIVE WILL / GET YOU TEN. The next step is to realize that we’re changing Roman numeral Vs to Xs. Ergo, we have these themers:

WSJ - Thu, 03.17.16 - "Chances Are" by Harold Jones

WSJ – Thu, 03.17.16 – “Chances Are” by Harold Jones

  • 17a [Pair connected by een juk] DUTCH OXEN. Instead of dutch oven. Had no idea what an een juk is. Before I grokked the theme, I had NUNCHUCKS in here because the letter pattern fit with what I had in the grid, and because it seemed plausible. Also, why no ? on this clue?
  • 21a [Furniture polishes from spray cans?] AIR WAXES. Air waves. This was part of a difficult corner and once I got the WAXES part, I wanted to put SEX at the beginning. But I guess SEX WAVES aren’t really a thing (that I know about).
  • 33a [Pluck exhibited by mimes?] SILENT MOXIE. Silent movie. My favorite entry. This must be a valuable trait to anyone brave enough to face up to the ridicule mimes often receive.
  • 42a [The need to relay impulses?] AXON CALLING. From “Avon calling“, part of the slogan of the venerable cosmetics company that hawked their wares door-to-door. Two days ago, Avon announced it is moving to the UK, all but abandoning its roots in the US.

So with the two-part revealer that’s a lot of theme material. Further, changing Vs to Xs ups the challenge for our constructor, but it’s handled well. The least favorite X-entry (43d‘s XIII) is redeemed by a cute clue which also serves as a hint to the theme [Nvmber that’s vnlvcky?]. A bizarre clue at first glance, but it makes total sense.

Overall this was a challenging puzzle with clues that seemed more Saturdayish to me, such as:

  • 63d [Whitesmith’s stock] for TIN
  • 66A [Capital indicator] for STAR
  • 40d [Spot for a chamois] for ALP

A whitesmith is another word for a tinsmith, “Capital” is referring to a capital on a map, and a chamois is a goat/antelope critter of Europe which lends its name to our car-washing towels.

RAMI Malek

Further, that NE corner brutalized me. Didn’t know 9a [Money, in British slang] was BRASS (despite me living in the UK). Didn’t know 16a [Nickname of Hall of Famer Hornsby, with “the”] was RAJAH. Didn’t know 22d [Malek of “Mr. Robot”] was RAMI. That’s not a show we get over here, although I do recognize Mr. Malek. There were other tough clues in that corner as well, so it was obviously the last to fall for me, but I managed it in the end.

Favorite entries: 5d ATOM ANT and 47d MAENAD. Back in high school, I wrote a parody of Greek mythology in a noir-ish 1930s gangster setting. I don’t remember the whole silly plot, but one of the characters was MAE NAD.

That’s it from me for this week. Good puzzle, with a solid theme and crunchy clues.

Here’s your TBT for today:

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “You and I” — Ben’s Review

You and I

You and I

Happy Thursday!  Today’s BEQ is a little more straightforward than last Thursday’s, theme-wise.  It’s all about U & I, and I don’t mean that in a Prince song kind of way:

  • 17A: Stipulation by Manhattan’s buyer?– MINUIT CONDITION
  • 22A: Spitting noise aimed at a circus barker? — PTUI BARNUM
  • 32A: Drug that makes you really foolish? — FATUITY ACID
  • 37A: “Your breastplate, Eliot”? — CUIRASS NESS
  • 50A: Retired baseball player Hideki doing downward-facing dog? — YOGA MATSUI
  • 56A: “Why, it must be to this priest to whom I’m speaking!”? — SURELY YOU JESUIT

I love this theme for that last answer alone.  I’m a sucker for dumb puns/wordplay, you guys.

Other clues/fill of note this Thursday:

  • 29A: Tea Party favorite Rand — AYN (my debate-addled brain tried to make this PAUL before realizing there were only three squares in the grid for this one.)
  • 31A: Lit crit 101 poem — ODE (finally a clue that doesn’t mention Keats!)
  • 33D: Twerking part — ASS (This has been this week’s edition of Clues Whose Answer Is Exactly What You Thought It Was)
  • 39D: Poem that goes in circles? — INFERNO (I thought this was super clever.  Nicely clued!)

A lovely theme and nice fill.  4/5

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 93″—Jenni’s write-up


Fireball crossword solution, 3 17 16

Sorry – I forgot to turn on the timer. This one gave me a little bit of trouble, as we shall see.

1A is “Title-determining game, often”. Even non-hoops fans like me have to know it’s March Madness season, so that was the title that sprang to mind. I couldn’t see any way it fit in the grid, though. I had two gimmes in that corner: ELIA at 7D (Marlon’s “On the Waterfront” director) and ARE at 5 D (It might come after you). Nothing else. Moving on…

“Old-time hipster” at 20 A wasn’t BEATNIK. “Data associate” didn’t ring any bells at 27 A. I finally entered BOOB TUBES for “Idiot boxes” at 30 D and started working on the bottom half of the puzzle. It was still slow going two medical gimmes – OSE at 36 for “carbohydrate suffix” and STENTS at 66A for “They may cause thrombosis”. I’m posting this late so it’s possible someone has already registered an objection to the latter clue. “Don’t stents treat thrombosis?” Well, yes. They also provide a nidus for clot to form anew; that risk can be reduced by treating the stent itself with an anti-thrombotic agent and should be followed by the use anti-platelet drugs after stent placement.

Sorry. Occupational hazard. Back to the puzzle:

I never saw The Black Orchid, so had no idea about the actress at 62A. 65A was one of my favorite clues in the puzzle – “Olé Miss?”. The answer, of course, is SENORITA, and that’s when things finally started to break my way, helped along by “2008 political slogan” at 67 – YES WE CAN. Phew. I filled in the SE, then backed into the SW, rotated up to the NE and finally went back to the SW, where “Title-determining game” is CHARADES. Phew. Great clue.

A few more things:

  • Really old movie obscurity: “Four-time co-star of Navarro” – ADOREE. Google tells me they starred in silent movies. That makes The Black Orchid look positively contemporary (INA BALIN is the answer and the film was released in 1958.)
  • More old movies: “Oscar-nominated director of ‘Heaven Can Wait'” is LUBITSCH. I saw the Warren Beatty remake in 1978 and had forgotten that it was a remake.
  • A touch of the French: BRASSERIE, UNE and PAIN (for “French bread”, which I initially filled in as EURO when Peter was being far more literal.)
  • My other favorite clue: “Dagwood-facing dog” for DAISY.
  • I’m not sure why “Rotten egg?” has a question mark. The answer is BAD LOT, which seems fairly straightforward to me.
  • “2016 presidential candidate” at 57A is PATAKI. I forget he was even in the race, back when the Republican clown car was stuffed full.
  • The Peter Gordon ridiculously long clue award goes to “‘The worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,’ according to Churchill.” The answer is DEMOCRACY, as you will all know from your study of history or your obsessive watching of The West Wing.

What I learned from the puzzle: that a CAXIROLA is a Brazilian percussion instrument, and that it was heard during the 2014 World Cup. Apparently its claim to fame is that it’s not nearly as annoying as the vuvuzela.

Jerry Edelstein’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160317

LA Times

The clue for SQUAREROOTS references a documentary by Wordplay co-creator Patrick Creadon. I think that’s a nod to the upcoming ACPT. Otherwise, it’s a pretty obscure way to clue SQUAREROOTS. There are a four 2×2 squares that spell out ROOT in the different configurations. The downside of this theme type is always a lack of showcase entries to focus your puzzle around.

The 11-letter revealer creates a design problem. All four theme corners are forced to be big stacks, on top of holding the locked in theme squares. This leads to compromises, the worst of them in the top-left; that isn’t where you want bad answers, as it definitely sets the tone. Coming up to crossing ATOE/ANERA partials with MOONLETS in the same area isn’t that kind of tone…

[Emergency room concern], TRAUMA. How many TRiage’s were there? Raise hands!
[Long-legged wader], STORK. A lot of our species are independent of water, but there are definitely STORKs that are waders…

3 Stars

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18 Responses to Thursday, March 17, 2016

  1. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I’m sorry — but the theme seems to me inconsistent, or at least misdescribed. The only entry where the ‘eve’ turns is ‘Ace Ventura’. The other thematic eves don’t turn. The rest of the entry turns, but eve doesn’t. I thought that where a puzzle contained a revealer, it was supposed to play fair. Like a murder mystery which begins “It was a dark and stormy night”, where the solution to the mystery involves the fact that it was actually bright and clear. It didn’t help that I don’t understand ‘con’ clued as {Minus}. I also wondered if having Eva Peron was at least distracting, if not a flaw.

    It didn’t help that I started with ‘Tula’, which is also a Russian oblast, instead of ‘Tuva’ though I do know about the throat singers, and even heard a tape of an American who had mastered it. Definitely ‘eerie.’

    • Gary R says:

      Bruce – I think you went with Amy’s first impression on the theme, which focused on “EVE.” The actual theme, consistent with the revealer, is that “EVENT” turns in each of the theme answers.

    • Papa John says:

      You might want to go back and read what Amy wrote. She, too, began with EVE, but eventually ended up with EVENT, as in 59a TURN OF EVENTS, with the -NTS going down inside 53d AGE[NTS].

      Is it possible that you and I know the same American who mastered the art of throat singing? I knew a guy, in the ’70s, who did just that.

    • Lois says:

      Re CON in the NYT puzzle: it crept into my grid without my noticing. But I think I know what it means. It’s a negative, such as in pros and CONS.

  2. Dave S. says:

    I don’t mind entries like BANDE any more, since it seems like a crossword convention with entries like QANDA, RANDR, BANDB, etc. becoming so common.

    • Joe Pancake says:

      Just because it’s a convention, doesn’t mean it’s a *good* convention though.

      Personally, I hate the spelled out ampersand. It’s one of my biggest crossword pet peeves. If a phrase is pretty much always written with an ‘&’ you can’t just change it to an ‘and’. Well, apparently you can, but you shouldn’t be able to. I’d be happy to see a total moratorium on such entries.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        See also: AONE, TWOD, UTWO, etc.

        • ahimsa says:

          I honestly thought A-ONE was spelled out somewhere – on the sauce label (I never buy it), in the dictionary (slang?), or somewhere. Nope!
          Welp, I guess doing crosswords has clearly warped my vocabulary. :-)

  3. Rose says:

    I am stumped by 55 Down in Thurs, Mar 17th puzzle, what does UMAMI mean?


    • Norm says:

      Umami is one of the five tastes, along with sweet, sour, etc.

    • sbmanion says:

      My 13-year-old daughter (whose mother was born in Macau) is a big fan of all Asian foods. She and her 12-year-old brother were literally talking about Asian foods yesterday and were describing some of them as “savory.” My daughter then said that the Asian word for savory is umami. She knows more than I do.


      • Norm says:

        They usually do. Nice story. So “savory taste” meant exactly that; not just an adjective. Thanks.

  4. CC says:

    Enjoyed the BEQ. The Fireball, to me at least, seems way harder than usual.

  5. ahimsa says:

    I enjoyed the LAT puzzle but there was a cross in the upper right corner that was my undoing. If MAZ had been clued as an occasional panelist on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” (comedian Maz Jobrani) instead of a sports nickname then I might have gotten it.

  6. PJ Ward says:

    LAT – The revealer meant little to me. I was on to the square root theme pretty quickly. It seems to me Ive seen a few square root themes the past few years. Almost always as the letters ROOT arranged in a 2×2 grid. Or maybe those themes stay with me more than others. Either way it wasn’t my favorite.

  7. Lois says:

    About Renee ADOREE in the Fireball puzzle: my husband and I saw her last year in The Big Parade, by King Vidor, opposite John Gilbert. It is considered a classic and has a high rating on IMDb.

  8. CoffeeLover says:

    I did not like the dupe in the NYT at 14A oneUP and 1D popsUP. In fact, between that and not knowing tUva for certain, I was held up there in my first go round.

    But I suppose it didn’t bother any one else enough to comment.

    I know I am a whole day behind, but that’s life sometimes.

Comments are closed.