Tuesday, March 29, 2016

CS 7:21 (Ade) 


Jonesin' 4:19 (Derek) 


LAT 4:54 (Derek) 


NYT 4:12 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 


Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 29 16, no 0329

NY Times crossword solution, 3 29 16, no 0329

Golf is the name of the game here. 59a. [18 holes, often] clues GOLF COURSE. 17a. [What red markers may indicate on 59-Acrosses] clues LADIES’ TEES, and that seems sort of tangential (yes, it relates to golf, but it has zero specific link to the bulk of the theme, no?). The center has 38a. [Some links holes … with a hint to the circled letters], DOGLEGS, and the circled squares spell out a quartet of 6-letter dog breeds (SETTER, POODLE, BEAGLE, COLLIE), with the dog names each taking a dogleg in the grid. 55a. [Scored, as on a 59-Across] clues CARDED, but then its symmetrical partner ON A PAR is ungolfily clued as 20a. [Even (with)]. Not keen on a phrase with PAR in it that doesn’t specifically relate to golf here.

If you Google ladies’ tees with golf or -golf, it turns out there are about twice as many hits for women’s T-shirts as for ladies’ tees on the golf course.

Five more things:

  • 44a. [Big export of Saudi Arabia and Norway], OIL. Neat touch that this follows RIYADH and OSLO, the Saudi and Norwegian capitals.
  • 62a. [Suffix with disk], ETTE. Hah! Even at microcenter.com, you apparently cannot buy anything called a diskette, nor even a floppy disk. I’m guessing that solvers under 25 (30? 35?) have never even seen anything in the diskette family.
  • 3d. [“Act quickly! This offer will end very soon!”], TODAY ONLY. Feels contrived.
  • 4d. [Supporting stalks], STIPES. This is the sort of crosswordese you might expect to find (and dread seeing) in a puzzle with 24 triple-checked squares. And on a Tuesday! Really now.
  • 46d. [Gas brand with an arrow in its logo], SUNOCO. You’re excused if you didn’t know this, as Sunoco has stations in 26 states (basically all east of Illinois, plus Texas).

3.6 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 252), “Tat’s Entertainment!”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 3/29 (No. 252)

Crossword Nation 3/29 (No. 252)

Today we get a straightforward kind of theme nicely tied in to that punny title. The “tat” here, reminding us of the song (from The Bandwagon) and playing on the word “that,” unifies the four themers—all three-word phrases with a repeated pattern of opening letters (namely T-A-T). What makes or breaks this solid if sorta stolid theme is the quality of those themers, and here this puzz excels. Not only is each one lively and strong in its own right, each one is drawn from “the lively arts” of music, film and TV—so literally, “Tat’s Entertainment!”

  • 17A. “TOSSIN’ AND TURNIN'” [1961 hit single that might keep you up at night?]. A big ol’ hit for Bobby Lewis back in the day.
  • 25A. “TIME AFTER TIME” [1984 Cyndi Lauper hit that was covered by Miles Davis]. Wow. Didn’t know that Miles covered this. Majorly cool.
  • 47A. THE AWFUL TRUTH [Classic screwball comedy with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant]. A gem from 1937.
  • 62A. “THREE ACT TRAGEDY” [Agatha Christie mystery adapted for PBS’s “Masterpiece Mystery”]. Also new to me, but then again I’m not exactly a Poirot aficionado.

MoMA EamesA good bit of the remaining fill and clues AMP UP this peppy theme set, so here’s the shout-out to PEA SHOOTER [Brat’s weapon] (which, despite the sharp sting a target may feel, seems positively benign in the age of laser pointers that bring down planes), that classic EAMES CHAIR [Seat in MoMA’s collection], SHUT-EYE, MR. RIGHT [Dream guy] (see SHUT-EYE…), SODA POP, and “I’M HOT!,clued not in connection with Tinder or Grindr or Match.com but as a response to [“Please turn off the heat!”]. Also liked [Radio-active type] for CB-ER (who’s active on his/her CB-radio and not shot-through with alpha, beta or gamma rays…) and [Looks like a creep?] for LEERS, where the creep is doing the inappropriate/unwanted looking. I also enjoyed the way [Tragic king] LEAR found his way across the first “E” of LEER.

Was thrown for a bit by seeing IRES as the fill for [Vexes]. I’d entered IRKS, because I associate IRE with anger and vexing with IRKing… Anyone else?

And, erm… “tat’s” all, folks! Will be at ACPT this weekend and hope to see you there, too. Regardless, enjoy these early days of spring and keep solving!

Maxine Cantor’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Quirks for Clerks” — Jim’s review

Good day! Today’s puzzle comes with a byline we’ve seen only once before. With a bit of digging, I’ve found out editor Mike Shenk’s National Puzzlers’ League handle is “Manx”, and this byline anagrams to “Manx Creation”.

The hint for the puzzle is in the title. CLs are replaced by QUs. (Subsequent vowels are changed as needed.)

WSJ - Tue, 03.29.16 - "Quirks for Clerks" by Maxine Cantor (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Tue, 03.29.16 – “Quirks for Clerks” by Maxine Cantor (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Kangaroo on campus?] QUAD HOPPER. Clod hopper.
  • 25a [Cutter for a cutup?] QUIPPER SHIP. Clipper ship.
  • 49a [VW exceeding the speed limit?] QUICK BEETLE. Click beetle.
  • 62a [Chimney worker at Buckingham Palace?] QUEEN SWEEP. Clean sweep.

Simple, sound-changing theme, but expertly handled. The Qs will satisfy all the scrabble-hungry solvers and they are each impressively absorbed into the puzzle. No IQS or QEDS here! No, instead we’re treated to PIQUE, CHEQUES (British spelling with the clue [Bank of England drafts]), DUBUQUE (which I’m guessing doesn’t get a lot of crossword love), and QUITO. Very, very nice!

“Portrait of Madame X” by John SARGENT

The puzzle didn’t have an auspicious start at 1a with PSST followed by 5a SSTS, but that was about as bad as it got. Oh, that southern section with UPCS, ETTE, and ESE isn’t great, but it’s all just gluey stuff holding things together.

I like the worldly feel throughout the puzzle with ITALY, QUITO, MAINE, IOWA, and especially in the southeast, ARABIA, TOSCA, and TAPAS.

Nice long Downs include DEADHEADS (10d, [“Touch of Grey” fans]), SARGENT (8d, [“Portrait of Madame X” painter]), and AMHERST (41d, [Massachusetts college]).

INABILITY at 32d isn’t very exciting though. With only one crossing themer holding it in place, I wonder if it could have been swapped out for something more interesting. Probably not, though, without compromising that whole SW section.

Solid puzzle, as usual, with some crunchy wordplay to scratch that particular itch.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “I Fold” – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 8.56.45 PMI will admit: this theme did not make sense to me immediately. I thought it was odd that three of the four long across entries had the initials P.P., while the fourth had the initials K.P. And what did that have to do with the title, “I Fold?” But after a gentle nudge, and a heaping serving of “Doh!” the theme became crystal clear: each theme entry simply hides the letters MAP in the middle! Maybe I was overthinking it! Here are the theme entries:

  • 18A [Sleepover of sorts] PAJAMA PARTY
  • 33A [Fashion designer and daughter of a noted painter] PALOMA PICASSO
  • 42A [Study involving charged particles and fluids] PLASMA PHYSICS
  • 62A [Radiohead title followed by the lyric “Arrest this man”] KARMA POLICE

So it wasn’t too complicated after all! Perhaps due to Matt’s genius I was looking for something far more sinister! Puzzle still garners a 3.8 star rating due to a somewhat lively fill as well as the well camouflaged theme (at least to me!).

Some examples of the lively fill:

  • 1A [Progressive spokesperson] FLO – This was meant to be tricky, but I love these commercials!
  • 22A [Former Boston Symphony director Seiji] OZAWA – He just recently received Kennedy Center Honors (I believe, if I am not mistaken, he got his instead of the Eagles, who were still reeling over Glen Frey’s death). I do not attend symphonies that often, although I do enjoy classical music. I will never forget how he was portrayed several times by the camera as being one with the music, his whole body contorting to the melodies. I was very much impressed by this talents.
  • 56A [Hawaiian actor Jason who’s set to play Aquaman] MOMOA – I know him from Game of Thrones, which I desperately need to catch up on in the next couple of weeks! And yes, as an avid comic book reader as a youngster, I am anxiously awaiting the Justice League movies!!
  • 66A [___ a high note (finish well)] END ON – A nice partial, not to common in crosswords, but very common in everyday English. xwordinfo.com has 10 occurrences during the Shortz era in the NYT. Not many for 20+ years! Interestingly, a common clue for this entry was something like [Not broadside]. Does anyone say something is “end on?”
  • 8D [“Cold Mountain” hero W.P. ___] INMAN – This is a bit obscure. OK, a lot obscure. But the crossings are all easy!
  • 11D [Office fixture?] WORKAHOLIC – A great long theme-crossing entry.
  • 30D [Props for driving instructors] CLIPBOARDS – Another great long theme-crossing entry. Also, an alternative clue could be [Props for UPS supervisors]! (Perhaps only my fellow co-workers would get that joke!)
  • 31D [“V.I.A.G.R.a 4 FR33!”, perhaps] SPAM – A great clue! I was dreading re-typing it, but the key here is sometimes spammers type like this to avoid anti-spam software! Favorite clue of the puzzle.
  • 47D [One of a making-out couple] NECKER – This seems like a slight reach, but I figured it out rather easily, so no major quibbles!

Last Jonesin’ review before Stamford! In a twist of fate, I am actually rooming with Matt this weekend! Looking forward to seeing all of you guys soon!

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 8.57.25 PMThe constructor of this puzzle, of whom I have had the privilege of reviewing several of her puzzles, is one of the constructors this weekend at the ACPT! Interestingly, in her short paragraph bio, it said she started constructing to LEARN ENGLISH BETTER! That simply amazes me, and the fact that her crosswords seem to be as smooth an effortless as they are is nothing short of awe-inspiring. There are a few constructors for whom English is not their native tongue, and they too have my admiration. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to do some sort of puzzle form in Chinese! I have stated before I am quite anxious to hopefully meet this lady this weekend!

As for the actual puzzle today, we always love circled squares. This time, the circled squares are the ones that make me hungry! They hide food:

  • 17A [Hard-to-please diva] & 19A [Money for the pot] PRIMA DONNA ANTE
  • 23A [Holder of odds and ends] & 25A [“Bless you!” trigger] CATCHALL AH CHOO
  • 36A [Pueblo-dwelling tribe] & 39A [Tart taste] HOPI TANG
  • 53A [Spot to enjoy oysters and clams] & 55A [Way back when] RAW BAR YEARS AGO
  • 62A [Dine together, and a hint to this puzzle’s circles] BREAK BREAD

This theme is clever and innovative, and yet fairly simple. A hallmark of her puzzles. A pleasure to solve. Now if only I can solve her tournament puzzle in under 5 minutes!!

Just a few notes:

  • 21A [TriCLEAN gasoline brand] CITGO – I know there is an iconic Citgo sign in Boston, but around here they are trying to phase out this company, which I believe has something to do with Venezuelan oil, and thus Hugo Chavez. Where these were where I live are now Mobil stations!
  • 34A [Like pages worth bookmarking] DOG-EARED – I would have written [Like pages that were bookmarked]. Something about this clue seems a tad off.
  • 65A [In ___: with all judges] BANC – New one on me. Maybe I should take English lessons from C.C.!
  • 42D [Sign on a new store] NOW OPEN – A great entry. I don’t remember seeing this much before.
  • 46D [Gaunt from exertion] HAGGARD – Or, [Singer Merle]. I’m sure our constructor has not grown up watching The Dukes of Hazzard, which he sang the theme song for!

A solid four stars today. See you all this weekend!

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Follow Instructions” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.29.16: "Follow Instructions"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.29.16: “Follow Instructions”

Hello there, everyone! It’s fun with anagrams today, as our puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, has clues/words in capital letters that happen to be anagrams of part of the resulting theme entry.

  • ALTER EGO (26A: [GEO?])
  • TURN ASIDE (38A: [IDEAS?])
  • TWIST TIE (54A: [ITE?])

Nice touch in the middle of the grid with both MAN (35D: [“The Thin ___”]) and ASTA right next to each other (36D: [Terrier on the silver screen]). I absolutely remember my OSH KOSH overalls that I wore as a kid and that my mother thought was real cute (2D: [Wisconsin city whose name may be seen on children’s clothing]). Looking back at photos of myself in those, they definitely weren’t cute, at least in my mind! Lots of three-letter entries in today’s grid, which I’m not too much of a fan of, especially EAL (67A: [Suffix with arbor or ether]). Initially put in “shock” instead of SHEAF when I first saw the “SH___” appear (32A: [Bundle of wheat]). OK grid, though nothing today to really WOW you (65D: [“Amazing!”]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TAXI (27D: [Target of much urban hailing])  –Most sports fans know that a group of players who are members of a team but aren’t members of the active roster are colloquially known as a “TAXI squad.” Now, where did that term come from? It came from Cleveland, back when legendary head coach Paul Brown coached the Cleveland Browns invented the use of a practice squad, players who practice with a team but don’t play in the actual games. The Browns’ owner back then, Mickey McBride, also owned a taxi company, and he would put the practice squad players on his payroll, even though they didn’t actually drive taxi cabs. Terminology born!

See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!

Take care!


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18 Responses to Tuesday, March 29, 2016

  1. Steve Manion says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle. I have heard the red tees referred to as LADIES’ TEES far more often than I have heard WOMEN’S TEES, but I have heard both.

    Tees determine how long each hole will play with the general rule being the longer the hole, the harder. Kids play from green or yellow tees at most courses that have them. Women play from red tees. Average men play from white tees and skilled men play from blue tees. Championship tees are usually black or gold. Blue tees serve as championship tees at courses that do not have black or gold tees.

    Some courses have as many as six sets of tees of increasing length and difficulty(and each tee of a different color).

    Regardless of what color the tee, golfers who want to play the toughest course possible will play “the tips,” which refers to the maximum possible distance a hole can have–the back of the longest tee.

    And regardless of age or sex, players should play from the tee that best fits their skill level. Skilled women frequently play from the white or blue tees and older men occasionally play from red tees. I do not know of any young male (regardless of how bad he plays) who would ever play from a red tee.


  2. Martin says:

    The URL of this page has a typo (match instead of march), which breaks the specific puzzle review links at the top of the page.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I never ceased to be amazed how polarizing BEQ puzzles are generally, and how divergent people’s reactions are to individual entries. To me “pearl clutching” (which I had previously never heard of) is some hyper-modern expression designed principally to say “look how much trendier and cooler I am than you.” And “carpool karaoke” just sounds like — let’s throw two words together and let people figure out what they must mean. I’ve never heard of QR codes, but perhaps I should have. I’m not sure what ‘com’ means for tv alternative. Comedy?

    But I’m also amazed that someone would call out the reference to the New York Cosmos, (which in theory was supposed to be pronounced like the Greek singular noun denoting the universe, not like an English plural.) The original Cosmos were the single most important factor in making soccer a commercially viable and popular sport in the United States. Their roster included three of the greatest and most celebrated players in soccer history, (including the very greatest — the Brazilian Pele), and also the German Franz Beckenbauer, and the Italian Giorgio Chinaglia, all in the downslope stage of their careers, obviously. I attended several games at a couple different venues around NYC. A team with the same name was resurrected just a couple years ago. I’m grateful to BEQ for including them.

    • Evad says:

      Hi Bruce, I didn’t do today’s BEQ, but I believe COM is from .com vs. .tv as the end of a domain name. (The TV domain extension was set up for the small Pacific island of Tuvalu, but has been appropriated by online TV sites like Amazon’s Twitch.tv.)

      QR (“Quick Response”) codes are pretty ubiquitous these days, they look something like a UPC barcode scanned at supermarket registers, but are readable by smartphones to bring someone to a website related to the printed advertisement where the code appears.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The clue was referring to the current minor league soccer club and not the Cosmos of decades past, though. “Defending champion” wouldn’t be used to refer to a defunct team, so …

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        True — I did point out that only the name was the same, but for some reason I wanted to point out the historical importance.

  4. English Maven says:

    WSJ: pet peeve …

    sparing or economical with regard to money or food.
    “he led a remarkably frugal existence”
    synonyms: thrifty, economical, careful, cautious, prudent, provident, sparing.

    It does NOT mean cheap or “to skimp,” although I might accept “skimpy” based on context.

    The Frugal Gourmet (Graham Kerr) was adamant about using the entirety of foods, and wasting as little as possible. THAT’s why he was considered frugal. I could go on …

    • Martin says:

      Graham Kerr was the Galloping Gourmet. Jeff Smith was the Frugal Gourmet, and wound up known for something other than his frugality.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        *ahem* Yes, he sure did.

        • Bruce N. Morton says:

          Yes indeed, and I was in a real quandary with what to do with his cookbooks. I took them off the shelf and hid them away somewhere. Perhaps I should have thrown them out. Now we’re probably confusing English Maven, but perhaps [s]he can figure out what we’re getting at.

          • Martin says:

            I still have mine. They’re not as creepy as the Craig Claiborne cookbook, also still on my shelf, with the fond reminiscence of being seduced by his father.

            Warts and all.

        • English Maven says:

          OK. My brain fart. I do remember Kerr using the word often in his show, though (I’m old). But the point of my rant was the definition of ‘frugal.’

          “People criticize me for enjoying good food when I use the word frugal. Frugal doesn’t mean cheap. It means you don’t waste your money. They haven’t read my books. They don’t know the meaning of the word.” –Jeff Smith

          And just for the sake of full disclosure, there was a settlement but no convictions. Not that *that* matters a whit (I WAS unaware of his situation).

          I also question how his alleged failings have anything to do with or detract from his craft.

    • Glenn says:

      Seconded on this. This seems to be the day of the deliberately misleading/incorrect clues. I got caught on this one.

      Similar questions with Burnikel’s grids usually happen though I didn’t completely lose out on accuracy points today for them. USM answers to what branch of the military, exactly? And this is the first time I’ve heard of BBA in my life, and that’s remarkable since I’ve worked in those fields. The second is better, since at least I could verify that it exists, but it’s archaic enough…

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Mistake in the LAT: 65a, “In Banc” should be En Banc.

  6. Harry says:

    Any time I see C.C. as the creator, I know my work is cut out for me. Great puzzles always!!!

  7. Kal says:

    How in the world did ERIN cross NASSER with such terrible cluing for the down on a Tuesday?

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