Thursday, March 24, 2016

BEQ 8:03 (Ben) 


CS 8:24 (Ade) 


LAT 4:36 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:32 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball’s a contest puzzle this week.

David Liben-Nowell and Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 24 16, no 0324

NY Times crossword solution, 3 24 16, no 0324

The theme has a key clue that’s missing from the .puz version of the puzzle: “In the print version of this puzzle, there is a special additional clue (under the heading ‘AROUND’) whose answer begins in the circled square. The clue is ‘Self-descriptive statement about a 16-Across.'” So what’s labeled as 24-Across, 49-Across, 24-Down, and 31-Down in my grid is a loop that starts in the circled square to read CIRCULAR REASONING MAKES NO SENSE BECAUSE … and then you continue with “circular reasoning makes no sense,” and so on. There’s also 16a. [Flaw in an argument], LOGICAL FALLACY, and 64a. [Reach a conclusion by assuming one’s conclusion is true], BEG THE QUESTION.

Odd grid size—14×16.

Three more things:

  • 8a. [Medium size in a lingerie shop], C-CUP. No. No, no, no. C is two or three steps from the smallest cup size, whereas there are at least 10 larger cup sizes. Furthermore, C-CUP needed a different clue when SIZE is in the grid at 61d.
  • 19a. [Modern form of customer support], LIVE CHAT. I love the live chat option, hate the phone option.
  • 34a. [“The Washington Post March” figure], SOUSA / 35a. [The Washington Post April figure], NAT? I don’t like that 35a clue at all. Tries too hard to tie it to 34a. Pretty sure the Post writes about the Nats from spring training in March right up till October (or beyond, with trades).

EFT AGR EEC ESTD AGER UKE etc., in the debit column for me.

3.75 stars here.

Melina Merchant’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Local Color” — Jim’s review

It’s Thursday and that usually means a higher level of difficulty or trickery in the WSJ puzzle.

But not today. This one’s pretty straightforward.

Our constructor is Melina Merchant, which I believe is another Mike Shenk pseudonym. I’ve gotten it to anagram to “Michael remnant” which, if that’s what it stands for, might mean he uses this pseudonym for leftover puzzle themes. I don’t really know what that means, but your guess is as good as mine.

On to the puzzle! The theme is revealed at 63d: [Pre-Easter purchase found in the four longest Across answers].

WSJ - Thu, 03.24.16 - "Local Color" by Melina Merchant (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Thu, 03.24.16 – “Local Color” by Melina Merchant (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [1956 children’s book followed by the sequel “Savage Sam”] OLD YELLER. Don’t hate me for not ever having seen the movie.
  • 35a [Youngest Hogwarts students eligible to try out for Quidditch] SECOND YEARS. Unless your name is Potter, apparently.
  • 41a [Bowler’s twists] BODY ENGLISH. I love this phrase!
  • 62a [Easter basket treats] CANDY EGGS. Appropriate final entry to this theme.

The answer is of course, DYE. By the end, my grid was filled with DYE.

Sorry, not that kind of DIE.

For a Tuesday puzzle, this is a fine theme. But we’ve come to expect more crunch on Thursdays, so I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I realize that it’s topical and this is the last regular puzzle before the Easter holiday, so that explains its placement today, but I’ll be honest in that I was hoping for more.

The solve was mostly smooth—not as much trickery as a normal Thursday—except in the extreme NE where I was stuck for the longest time. 9-, 16-, and 19a all had difficult clues [Trying to avert a strike, perhaps], [Eponym of counties in eight states], and [Waterloo native] for AT BAT, BOONE, and IOWAN respectively. I love the AT BAT clue, but it was tough to suss out.

SYNDROME from “The Incredibles”

Favorite fill: TOOLSHED at 10d with a great clue [Building that might hold a few planes], OPEN-TOED, WAIT HERE, and SYNDROME at 38d, though the latter’s clue is still rather opaque to me ([Group of signs]). I wish it was clued as [“The Incredibles” villain]. There’s a lot of good shorter fill too, like SHE BOP, EUROPA, HOT PAD, DRY OFF, MISTER (clued as [Greenhouse device]), TEAR UP, PARDON, and TOLEDO.

I’m not sure about 21a END ALL, clued as [Ultimate object]. I usually only see it with its partner BE ALL.

I love the clue for 51a TYPO: [There’s one in this club]. But can a purposefully-introduced error really be called a TYPO?

Things I didn’t know:

  • 64a [Busby adornment] is a PLUME. Didn’t know busby the hat. I only remembered Busby Berkeley the director.
  • 42d [Prima ballerinas] is ETOILES. My French is not so good beyond oui, non, and s’il vous plait.

Conclusion: a fine puzzle with good fill, but just not what we’ve come to expect on a Thursday.

Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “County Fare”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.24.16: "County Fare"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.24.16: “County Fare”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol, would have been more apt if it was released on St. Patrick’s Day instead of the week after. But it’s still a fun grid, with each of the theme answers being phrases in which the last word also happens to be the name of a county in Ireland (or Northern Ireland).

  • HOLD THE MAYO (17A: [Deli request]) – County Mayo.
  • POOR CLARE (28A: [Nun in a Franciscan order]) – County Clare.
  • WATERSHIP DOWN (35A: [Adventure novel about the destruction of a warren]) – County Down.
  • JOHN KERRY (43A: [Secretary of state after Hillary Clinton]) – County Kerry.
  • POP ONE’S CORK (56A: [Get really, really angry]) – County Cork.

I actually had no firm grasp of what the theme of this was until the final theme entry, knowing for sure Cork was an Irish County, and hearing in passing before about Clare as well. Definitely an interesting THEME for someone whose not all too familiar with the Emerald Isle (15A: [Many crosswords have one]). We have some humor in the grid with both JOCOSE (43D: [Good-humored]) and RADNER (45D: [Funny Gilda]). Probably my favorite entry of the day was T-PAIN, though what he ushered in a few years back in music was, in my opinion regrettable with all that Auto-Tune (34A: [R&B singer known for his use of Auto-Tune]). Who needs actual singing talent when you have Auto-Tune?? Yes, I know Cher had used Auto-Tune before, and I’m sure many of you think she’s a great singer. But the less digitization of your voice, the better in my book!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CBS (42D: [“Blue Bloods” network])  –Since 1982, CBS has broadcasted the college basketball national championship game, but that won’t be the case in two weeks. As part of their deal with Turner Broadcasting to make each and every NCAA Tournament game available in its entirety, TBS gained the rights to air the Saturday national semifinal games, and, for this year’s Final Four, will broadcast the national championship game on Monday, April 4.

TGIF tomorrow! Thank you so much for the time, and I’ll see you then!

Take care!


Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Computer Language” — Ben’s Review

Computer Language

Computer Language

Happy Thursday!  BEQ’s site mentioned that this Thursday’s puzzle was a little rushed given some computer issues.  Dealing with computer issues appears to have affected this week’s theme clues as well:

  • 17A: What a hacker says after performing a successful DDOS on crossword constructor Byron? — WALDEN PWNED
  • 52A: Unbelievable stories you read on the net? — TALES OF WOAH
  • 11D: Dude into floor calisthenics? — PUSH UP BRUH
  • 27D: Greeting usable whenever the TARDIS lands? — ALL TIME HAI

I’m not sure I love the Byron Walden reference in 17A, or WOAH and BRUH getting thrown in as internet speak, but this was a nice challenge that felt at appropriate difficulty for a Thursday.

Other clues/fill of note this Thursday:

  • 58A: Philbin who holds the record for most time in front of a TV camera — REGIS (I did not realize this.  That’s a looooot of camera time.)
  • 4D: Language that gave us the words “haggle” and “berserk” — OLD NORSE (more learning!)
  • 44D: Yacht Rockers with the hit “Africa” — TOTO (Have you seen the music video for “Africa”?  It looks exactly like what you’d expect to see if I told you a group of yacht rockers in the early 80s made a music video for a song called “Africa”.)

This wasn’t too bad for being quickly thrown together!  3.5/5 stars.

See you at the ACPT in a week!

Mel Rosen’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160324

LA Times

The central conceit of this puzzle is very elegant. There are five two part theme phrases; each is made up of two words that double as surnames. The clues include the first names of holders of those surnames, plus their definitions. Comics Rich and Chris in LITTLE/ROCK, Arkansas; actors Billy and Minnie form a generic SUNDAY/DRIVER (great answer!); a baseballer I haven’t heard of (no surprises there) Blue Vida and supreme court justiced John Jay combine to make the bird the BLUEJAY; singers Karen and Adam in CARPENTERANT (Impressive find!); and lastly Eddie Albert, apparently a film and TV actor (I’ve not heard of him), and talkshow host Arsenio Hall in ALBERTHALL.

Excellent theme! Other highlights were VIPPASS and the clue [Campus breeze] for EASYA.

On the other hand, DOILL feels arbitrary (can we have DO any verb now?), as does the specific golf score ONEOVERPAR. Are we expecting SIXTHREE from tennis, THREENIL from soccer and any number of other hypothetical scores now? AREMY is a bottom of the barrel partial. Apparently the clue [“You ___ Destiny”] needs no contextualization? I thought it was the Lionel Richie song from ca. 1992 (no, that’s just My Destiny), but it’s a #7 hit by Paul Anka from 1957. Would it have killed to have that included in the clue?

Obligatory taxonomic note: a LAMPREY may be [Eellike], but it is very far from the true Anguilleformes. In fact, humans are nearer taxonomically to eels than lampreys are…

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18 Responses to Thursday, March 24, 2016

  1. Evan says:

    Anyone else solve on the print version and completely miss seeing that Around clue while solving? I ended up solving that rectangle just from crosses alone; didn’t even figure out where that answer began until I had maybe 95% of it filled in.

    • chris says:

      better to solve it by print and miss the around clue, i think, than to solve online via the NYT app. at least when i solved it, the app was going haywire around those clues. usually i cycle back and forth between across and down clues, but today it cycled through across, down, around, which made me think for awhile that the clues in question were doing a disappearing act. so i gave up on that, filled in the top and bottom, and had enough to see that it was going around in a circle–namely, i could see that half of it was backwards, and i could make out because on the top. honestly thought the circular answer began with because, if only because i didn’t see the shaded square.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Strange. I solved my printed, paper version of the puzzle — (I don’t inflict on myself the huge frustration of trying to solve on the computer) — and my printout had the AROUND clue: 28 {Self-descriptive statement about a 16-Across}. And I got the printout right at the dot of 10 PM. So I don’t know why the Fates shined on me this time. I think this is a puzzle of the year candidate.

      • huda says:

        NYT: I had no idea… I use Across Lite and either I did not notice the circle or it was not there… I probably just missed it. So, I solved avoiding the ? clues and eventually saw that 49 across made no sense and tumbled to the circular construction.
        I thought it was really clever! And I like the NW corner…
        I had no idea there were so many bra sizes, actually. I looked up some charts— complicated stuff! there are cases where C is labeled medium… But there are definitely more nuanced and mathematically based sizing charts. Live and learn.

    • Lois says:

      Late response to Evan: I missed the Around clue also, although I solve on paper and I like to read everything. I don’t know whether missing it hurt me. I enjoyed the puzzle, although it took a while to solve. I think it’s the second time that this has happened to me. I read all the Across clues and all the Down clues, and I don’t realize that there is anything else.

  2. chris says:

    as for c-cup…while i personally try not to use such fill, i can see why it continues to be used. but i wish that the cluing would stop trying to be cute, because inevitably it fails. “bra size”, though bland and not very helpful in figuring out that first letter, at least has the property that it isn’t factually wrong. but that’s just my two cents, and i have no doubt there are many others more qualified to give opinions on this.

    • Lois says:

      I think Chris’s solution is a good one for an unwelcome clue. I didn’t find the clue to be cute at all, but I also don’t think a D cup as per Amy’s remarks would be closer to medium. If the clue is necessary, just make sure the cross on the first letter is easy.

  3. Evad says:

    Very timely that hurler Luis TIANT threw out the first pitch at the recent Cuban exhibition game.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Re LAT, 24d — WS has explained that the actual expression is “To the manner born.”

    Re cs, 10: {God in Latin} for “Deo” — the standard way of referring to a Latin word, absent a special context, is by the nominative singular. “Deo” is dative or ablative. On the other hand, I’m delighted that the ‘operas’ clue for 44d referenced operas by Philip Glass and John Adams.

  5. anon says:

    NYT: Seems like the Around clue should have referenced the BEGS THE QUESTION entry instead.

  6. Gary R says:

    Anyone else finish with an “error” at the crossing of 21-D and 33-A in the NYT? I had the two answers filled in as DAZE and ZIP, but when I finished the puzzle, no Happy Pencil. After going through the grid twice and not spotting any errors, I asked AcrossLite to show me the incorrect letters – it flagged that square and filled in an “L.”

    I downloaded the puzzle shortly after 10 EDT, so maybe this got corrected later.

  7. Daniel says:

    Gary, I had the same experience with the error on 33 and reported it through the app’s feedback option. There goes my official streak.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I wish the review of the BEQ had explained what was actually going on. I get the puns on ‘pond’ ‘bra’ and ‘woe’, but what in the world do Pwned, Bruh and woah mean? Is that obvious to someone who knows and understands computers? If so, please have some consideration and sympathy for those of us who do not. I assume the third letter is an ‘n’, I have no idea what the word Fitbit in the clue means, nor do I know what a DDOS is. BEQ is one of the most brilliant, but sometimes one of the most annoying constructors out there.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Bruce, these are all Googleable things.

    • PJ Ward says:

      I googled PWNED and learned it “is a leetspeak slang term derived from the verb own.”

      Glad I could clear that one up for you, Bruce, (Humor intended if not realized).

    • Steve Manion says:


      When my son was literally one of the best World of Warcraft players (Rank 1), he got to play in a tournament for the top 12 teams in the world with a $50,000 prize pool. It was streamed to 17,000 players, most of whom were clearly juvenile males making sexist remarks about others’ sisters, mothers, etc.

      My son’s team lost in the first round and came in 9th (only the first four made money). Anyway, I watched it, but had no idea what was going on. At the end, my son said that he personally did OK (not great), but that one of his teammates got PWNED. The P is next to the O on the keyboard and was a frequent cause of misspellings of OWNED. OWNED, as I am sure you know, is slang for any situation in which someone completely dominates the other.

      Fun puzzle today.


  9. Daniel says:

    Update: The NYT replied to my feedback on the 33 error and also fixed my streak (I didn’t even ask for this). Kudos to them!

Comments are closed.