Friday, March 18, 2016

NYT untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 7:35 (Gareth) 


CS 8:16 (Ade) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


Michael Wiesenberg’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 3/18/16 • Fri • Wiesenberg • no 0318 • solution

NYT • 3/18/16 • Fri • Wiesenberg • no 0318 • solution

I’m not into cruciverbal actuary  but this one feels and looks like it has a low word count. Even so, it never comes across as claustrophobic or strained.

The marquee feature is that offset 14-13-14 stack in the center: 31a [“Hotel Impossible” airer] TRAVEL CHANNEL, 34a [P.M. who won the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize] LESTER PEARSON, 35a [Miraculous solutions] SILVER BULLETS. Would have been fun if I could claim to have known precisely none of these, but the last one is too commonplace, even if I spent some moments wondering how to pluralize deus ex machina. Transfixing those is another 13-letter entry: 15d [Office drones] PENCIL PUSHERS.

  • Luthiery! 16a [Big name in guitars] IBANEZ, 39a [Guitar-making wood] ASH, 43d [Guitar-making wood] ALDER.
  • Belligerence! 49a [ __ war] HOLY, 50a [Like some warfare] AERIAL, 8a [Subject to an air attack] STRAFE, 7d [Give a dynamite finish?] RAZE, 3d [Big mushroom producer, in brief] N-TEST. 4d [“___ war”: F.D.R.] I HATE.
  • Toeholds imparted via crossword familiarity: 22a [Banff wildlife] ELK – even as the clue was novel, the answer was nevertheless readily apparent. 26a [Fictional race of the distant future] ELOI. 23a First name in cosmetics] ESTÉE, 44d [Ones preparing Easter eggs] DYERS.
  • Prepositional phrases! 14a [Well-known, now[ ON THE MAP, 34d [Be in store] LIE AHEAD, 55a [Fret about] STEW OVER. Related is 12d [Dropped like a jaw] FELL OPEN.
  • Reflexive clue: 29d [Denoting the style in one might consider this clue to be written] VERBOSE.
  • 27a [Picasso masterpiece with a French title] LA VIE. In the Cleveland Museum of Art. No guitar present. Seems to me that quite a lot of his works have French titles, non?

Tight puzzle with very little junk. Maybe a bit on the easy side for a Friday?

Ed Sessa’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Tournament Puzzle” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 3/18/16 • "Tournament Puzzle" • Sessa • solution

CHE • 3/18/16 • “Tournament Puzzle” • Sessa • solution

Fairly straightforward, as far as themes go. Rearranged letter string, revealed via 53a [Annual sporting event suggested by the circled letters] MARCH MADNESS, which ostensibly refers to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s basketball championship contest. “Madness” signifies the scrambling, in the manner of cryptic cluing conventions.

Those five letters are seeded within the central areas of three other long across entries.

  • 19a. [The Senate, vis-à-vis the House] UPPER CHAMBER.
  • 31a. [Base for some pie crusts] GRAHAM CRACKER.
  • 38a. [Stipulation of some service calls] MINIMUM CHARGE.

All are very solid phrases.

And just for kicks, look over the grid I found a Saint Patrick’s Day SHAMROCK stepping down (with one diagonal) from the first S in 26a ISMS to the K in 44a KOBE [Port associated with prime beef], which was not as I was no doubt intentionally lead to believe a fortified wine.

  • 56d [Pac-12 rival of a Sun Devil or a Bruin] UTE. In the slate of 64 teams, for all I know.
  • 1d [Writer who advised “Live to the point of tears”] CAMUS, 31d [“The Balcony Playwright” Jean] GENET.
  • Substantial corners, stacked nines in the northeast and southwest. 15a [Homer’s “wine-dark” expanse] AEGEAN SEA, the de-portmanteau’d SPAM ROBOT (18a), URBAN AREA (56a), and the slyly clued 60a [Hands off] TRANSFERS.
  • 41d [“Fernando” foursome] ABBA crossing 48a [Line at the shearing shed?] BAA BAA naturally puts me in mind of Iceland’s Dr Gunni (and his friends) and the mildly dubious children’s album ABBABABB! I may be in the minority, though, as the embedded video below has at the time of this writing a grand total of 1 view.
  • Much like the unhyphenated clue for 60a (above), there’s 37a [Comrade in arms[ for ALLY.
  • Another notable clue, probably my favorite in the puzzle: 23d [Place for a spat] ANKLE.
  • 1a [Staph bacteria, morphologically] COCCI. A coccus is a spherical bacterium; the full generic name of the organism in question is Staphylococcus.
  • 30d [Big maker of riding mowers] SCAG, unknown to me, and I’d confidently plopped in TORO.
  • 42d [Birthplace of Kate and Pippa Middleton] READING; 57d [Basics of education, briefly] RRR. Whew.

Solid, mild crossword, despite the nominal theme. Very sane.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LAT t160318


It’s Friday, which is frequently “letter addition theme” day at the LAT. Today’s interest is that the bigram is the challenging “ZZ”. We have JAYWALKS to JAZZYWALKS, DI(ZZ)YPROJECTS (Rube Goldberg courtesy P. Merrell , CHIPANDDA(ZZ)LE and SEMPERFI(ZZ).

All those ZZ’s are bound to place challenges on the fill. ANEARFUL is rescued through a cunningly placed GOT. SFFAN rides the tightrope between fresh and arbitrary; the letter pattern also relieves a whole heap of grid stress in that area!


  • [Helpful, if impersonal, voice], SIRI. I can’t believe this is used in any way other than as a brief novelty…
  • We get two [Ming dynasty art source]s.
  • [Date night destinations], ATMS. Surprise answer! Don’t most places take debit cards these days though? Personally, I feel naked without cash in my wallet though…

4 Stars
Leaving you with…

Martin Ashwood Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Old Timers”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.18.16: "Old Timers"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.18.16: “Old Timers”

Good day, everyone! It’s Friday! Woohoo! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is for all the clock lovers out there, with each of the first words of the theme entries all relating to parts of WATCHES (38A: [Keeps an eye on, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]).

  • HANDS IN HOMEWORK (17A: [Is a good student, say])
  • DIALS DOWN (28A: [Reduces])
  • FACES UP TO (47A: [Confronts])
  • STRAPS IN TIGHTLY (62A: [Buckle up, as a race car driver])

Colorful fill today, especially with the paralleling answers of SEACOW (18D: [Manatee, for one]) and SEBERG littering the grid (40D: [“Breathless” star Jean]). The latter was probably the only entry in which I struck a total blank when reading the clue. Nice little unintentional tribute with the BADER entry, with the Supreme Court Justice recently celebrating her 83rd birthday (50A: [Ruth _____ Ginsberg]). Oh, we have the sports league + ER suffix that everyone loooooves to see, as NBAER is the one that made it today (32D: [Buck or Bull, briefly]). Other than that, liked the fill. Wish I could stay longer, but I’m in the middle of March Madness coverage in person. Can I make a March Madness reference in the next graph??

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: UGH (7D: [“Disgusting!”])  –That’s the sound that many people filling out their brackets blurted out when one of the NCAA Tournament favorites, Michigan State, lost in the first round earlier today to Middle Tennessee, ruining the entries of people who picked the Spartans to go far. (By the way, it’s Middle Tennessee State University, but, when referring to their sports programs, they go by Middle Tennessee.) The loss marked the eighth time ever that a No. 15 seed, which MTSU was, knocked off a No. 2 seed, which MSU was. Look at all that crosswordese with the abbreviations of the schools!!

Hope to see you all tomorrow! Another busy day ahead, but I thank you in advance for your patience with me!

Take care!


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13 Responses to Friday, March 18, 2016

  1. Zulema says:

    Loved this themeless Friday. Wonderful fill and a bit on the easy side but I am not complaining. Just read a book that had Banff and the elk in it.

  2. Zulema says:

    Re the CHE puzzle, solved or rather filled it in, but will wait to find out what the circles add up to. Something to do with basketball, I assume?

  3. janie says:

    agree the nyt was excellent — but so bellicose, no? N-TEST, AERIAL warfare, STRAFE, even SPYWARE (part of modern day warfare) and that SIT IN (which conjures up memories of anti-war demonstrations of the ’60s)… as if to acknowledge the battlefield we were playin’ on, at least there was Roosevelt’s “I HATE war.”


  4. ArtLvr says:

    Y’all missed the ongoing war to curtail women’s rights ever since Roe v. Wade. We battle on to preserve our right to choose & prevent curtailment by those who’d rob us of safest means. If I had known I was carrying an infant with no brain, I would have been better off not finding it out after nine months…

  5. David L says:

    This one fell very quickly for me. A Tuesday/Wednesday time.

    Now I will pay tomorrow for bragging today.

  6. Ethan says:

    I *believe* the plural of DEUS EX MACHINA would be DEI EX MACHINIS (unless they’re all from the same machine, in which case DEI EX MACHINA)

  7. Kman23 says:

    For the NYT, wouldn’t IDEALISE and RASE work as well?

    • Howard B says:

      In the NY Times, by default, the American spelling is always used. If a British spelling or usage is intended, there will be something in the clue (“…, in Birmingham” or such) to point in that direction. (This also prevents such things as ZEE / ZED ambiguity).

  8. Barry Franklin says:

    All these puzzles seem so familiar. I think I saw them last year in USA Today.

  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I enjoyed MAS’s cs — BUT — re 5d, a trill is NOT a display of vibrato. The two are unrelated. A trill is a rapid alternation between two adjacent notes (that is, two different tones.) Vibrato is a rapid, slight rise and fall in pitch on one note. The two musical effects are completely different. Vibrato is a technique most often used on string instruments (e.g. violin, cello, viola) and is created by a rapid, rhythmic wrist and arm motion causing the finger on the fingerboard to roll slightly up and down, alternately lengthening and shortening the vibrating string, causing the slight variation in pitch. Other instruments, as well as the human voice, are capable of vibrato but as I said, string instruments are the most important context.

    • Martin says:


      Had I test-solved for Martin, I would have pointed this out. However, clues linking vibrato and trill have been used before. They are justified by common use of “trill” to mean “vibrato.” This is condoned in most dictionaries. As a flutist, I trill with my fingers and create vibrato with my diaphragm, so I know you’re right. It’s just that the messy language isn’t always so precise.

  10. Martin says:

    Actually, I’m a fautist too (seriously), and even though my clue is correct, it is musically incorrect. And I, for one, should have caught that. For example when playing baroque music I always started a trill on the upper note, unlike later music. I apologize for that oversight. And yes, I agee, even as the author of the puzzle, in my “books” it’s not technically correct. Unfortunately, I wrote the puzzle about three months ago, so I can’t give you a reason why I used that clue. Well spotted. Sorry about that!

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

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