Sunday, April 3, 2016

CS 8-9ish (Evad) 


Hex/Quigley 9:04 (Jenni) 


LAT 13:16 (Gareth) 


NYT 9:14 (Amy) 


WaPo 9:11 (Jenni) 


Check out the ACPT rankings! Steely Dan Feyer has a 4-minute (!) lead over Joon Pahk, Howard Barkin, and David Plotkin. This means that this trio will be scrambling to edge one another out on puzzle 7 Sunday morning, trying not to be left out of the finals. And if any of them have an error and drop 150 points, there’s room for a fast Al Sanders, Francis Heaney, Anne Ellison, or Stella Zawistowski to climb up with a fast 7. Some people pay attention to which teams have to win or lose in which division in order for whoever to make the playoffs—the ACPT is my statistics-and-probability sport.

Fiendster Andy is in 12th, Doug’s in 14th, Derek’s in 59th, and Sam’s in 78th. Sportscaster Ade is skipping the NCAA basketball tournament to compete at ACPT this weekend. (Priorities!) Neville, Angela/PuzzleGirl, Jeffrey/Crosscan, Erin, and Ben are also competing, and Janie is judging.

I’m doing the online version from home. Why, it’s so relaxing! No travel hassles, no sleep deprivation, no ballroom full of noises and your neighbor’s vigorous erasing jostling your table. I’m in first after puzzle 6, but could easily see Jeffrey Harris (the MGWCC meta-walloping legend) swooping in 3+ minutes faster than me on puzzle 7. He has tremendous solving speed.

Natan Last’s New York Times crossword, “Jumping To Conclusions”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 3 16 "Jumping to Conclusions"

NY Times crossword solution, 4 3 16 “Jumping to Conclusions”

Fun theme! 23a. [With 113-Across, heard but disregarded … or a hint to interpreting the Across answers with circled letters] clues IN ONE EAR AND / OUT THE OTHER. There are six long Acrosses each with a single circled square, and those squares contain the rebus EAR. Not only that, but you need to “jump” (as the title suggests) from ONE EAR to anOTHER in order to reach the “conclusions” of those theme answers. The six jumping/swapping themers are in pairs (1/2, 3/4, 5/6).

  • 31a. [Common query from one about to leave the house], WHER{E AR}IGHT TO KNOW / 46a. [Indignant reply when someone withholds information], I HAV{E A R}E MY KEYS. Jump at the EAR rebus squares, and you get “Where are my keys?” and “I have a right to know.”
  • 55a. [“Come on … be daring”], TAK{E A R}IVER / 77a. [“Oh, boo-hoo!”], CRY M{E A R}ISK. “Take a risk” (which feels a little bit contrived to me), “Cry me a river.”
  • 86a. [“Would you consider this suggestion?”], CAN I MAK{E A R}OUND / 100a. [Comment to the not-yet-convinced], YOU’LL COM{E AR}EQUEST. “Can I make a request?” and “You’ll come around.”

So all six are spoken phrases, and the EAR rebus is split across two or three words in each theme phrase. And every EAR rebus is part of a longer word in the Down crossings—never does it actually mean an ear. Elegant consistency. Also cool: This interpretation of the phrase “jumping to conclusions.” Perfect title for the puzzle. I wonder if the title concept came first, or the EAR action.

Highlights in the fill include ALONE TIME, “IT’S COOL,” “WASN’T ME,” the ORANGEMEN of yore (more for the ORANGE part than the MEN), TIRE SWING, “HANG TIGHT,” the song “I’M ON A BOAT,”  VLADIMIR with a Godot clue rather than a Putin one, “HEY YA,” BENT ON clued as [Unlikely to be talked out of] (fresher than anyone named Benton), LATKES, a SUMMER HIT, and INBOX ZERO. I kinda like the CAMINO/CIMINO duo, too.

I always hate SDAK in a puzzle, but overall the fill was smooth (plus, all those highlights!). And I dug the theme. 4.5 stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Crossing State Lines” – Jenni’s write-up

Well, my time is ominous. I attribute that to a mid-puzzle crisis involving a schoolmate of Emma’s and a dress code violation. Also to general poutiness from missing ACPT. Hope all of you are having fun!

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.00.59 PM

Washington Post Sunday crossword solution, 4 3 16

Here at home, Evan has given us another silky-smooth Sunday solve. We’re “Crossing State Lines” with a group of people who have states for names.

  • Swordmaster in the Dune series – DUNCAN IDAHO. Never read Dune (yes, you notice a theme among things I’ve never read. I don’t do fantasy or sci-fi, with one exception*.)
  • Fast Eddie’s rival in “The Hustler” – MINNESOTA FATS. This one gave me the theme. I didn’t need the name of the movie. [buffs fingernails on lapel]
  • Oscar nominee for “Sideways” – VIRGINIA MADSEN.
  • “Pelvis With the Distance” painter – GEORGIA O’KEEFFE. I always, always spell her last name wrong. If you’re ever in Santa Fe, check out the O’Keeffe museum. Maybe you’ll get lucky and go on a day when Karen Ralston is giving tours!
  • Brendan Fraser’s role in “The Scout” – STEVEN NEBRASKA. Never heard of this movie.
  • Vicki Lester’s love in “A Star is Born” – NORMAN MAINE. Heard of that one. And I’ve seen both the Judy Garland version and the Barbra Streisand version.

In addition to the full-name Across answers, we have a series of Downs:

  • Fictional idol Hannah MONTANA
  • “Orpheus Descending writer TENNESSEE Williams
  • “Point of Know Return” band KANSAS. I know the song. Children of the ’70s, represent! I have to say, though, that I never knew it was KNOW return. I always thought it was NO return. Go figure.
  • FLORIDA Evans (Esther Rolle’s role on “Good Times”). Also her role on “Maude”, from which “Good Times” was spun off, “Maude” having itself been spun off from “All in the Family”, which also begat “The Jeffersons”.

Nice, solid theme that seems fresh to me (which doesn’t mean it’s new; I have a terrible memory for these things.) The full names give us four fictional characters and two real people; both of the real people are women and all of the fictional characters are men. The single-name answers give us one group, two fictional characters (both women this time) and one real-life man. None of that matters. I just felt like counting.

There are several answers in this puzzle that I’ve seen in other puzzles today. Since I’ve been doing the ACPT puzzles online and I can’t remember if that’s where I saw them, I’ll keep mum about that for now. It’s always amusing when I see a word in a puzzle for the first time in months and then see it again a few hours later.

A few other things:

  • We have OOH LA LA and va VOOM in the same puzzle, although OOH LA LA is clued as “Wow, that’s fancy!” rather than its more sexual meaning.
  • If RICK BARRY hit 90% of his free throws underhand, why doesn’t everyone do that? This is actually part of the current plotline in the comic strip “Gil Thorp”. Seriously.
  • Jordan SPIETH shows up with GOLFS also in the grid. Thanks, Evan, for not cross-referencing those clues. I liked “Does course work?” for GOLFS.
  • I also like the clue for COIN, which is a perfectly ordinary word, and is also “What Two-Face flips.”
  • 127A asks us for a “record feature”, and of course the answer is GROOVE. The medical student currently working with me had not heard of records or phonographs, despite the current vinyl revival. I am old, I am old…and then she said “but what did you do the day after if you stayed up all night on call?” and I felt even older.
  • “Rice products?” at 46A are not “cakes”, but rather BOOKS. Anne, not grain.

Yawn. It’s 10:40. If I were at Stamford, I’d be drinking and/or playing games in the bar. Since I’m not, I’m going to bed. Thanks to Evan for another nice puzzle, and sweet dreams to all.

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” —Dave Sullivan’s write-up

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge - 4/3/16

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge – 4/3/16

Good morning, everyone! Dave Sullivan here pinch hitting for Ade, who is in his own sports competition this weekend, the sport of crossword solving! Some nice longer entries in today’s “Sunday Challenge” from constructor Mr. Bruce Venzke:

  • “IMAGINE THAT!” (4D: [“Well, I’m really surprised!”])
  • ACE REPORTER (25D: [Certain Pulitzer Prize winner, possibly])
  • UP THE GUT (40A: [Running right through midfield, in football slang])
  • SET A LIMIT (3D: Specify the maximum or minimum allowed])

On the other side of the fence, I was less happy to see the [Prohibition-supporting org.] of WCTU (I see here, it stands for the Women’s Chrisitan Temperance Union, and is surprisingly still apparently active), ET AL., TREELET (I’d call this a sapling) LAH, DEE, S. SGT., BSS, NENE, OR BE, ERES and UP A. USER’S FEE seems a bit off as well, as I’m more familiar with the non-possessive version of the term. I did learn that [Electropositive elements] tend to be found on the left side of the periodic table with their tendency to donate electrons in chemical reactions. “Tightrope” singer Janelle MONÁE looks a bit familiar to me, but was not someone that sprang to mind when solving:

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: I can’t help but comment on Villanova’s shellacking of Oklahoma last night, a game I’m sure Ade watched with great interest amidst his ACPT-ing. The Wildcats’ ROMP over fellow number 2 seed Sooners will go down in history books as one of the most lopsided victories in the Final Four as well as one with a team with the highest shooting percentage. (I believe the only higher percentage was another Villanova team from the ’80s.)

Take care!


Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword, “Thin Is In” – Gareth’s write-up


Andy Kravis is MIA as he is taking on the rest of the word nerd herd at the ACPT. He came an impressive 11th. Congratulations to Howard, Dan, David and all of the other competitors, especially the many who blog with me or who leave their remarks down below…

This puzzle has a great title: “Thin Is In”. It took a while to parse this . “Thin Is In” because it loses a “th”. All the other theme answers follow that pattern, though they are not consistent in where they lose their “th” in the word or in which word loses the “th”. The goal here is density rather than strict consistency.

So we have the following: [Bud who’s been fired?], CANNEDBRO(TH); Ok, I know that soup can come in cans, but I didn’t know those words together were a “thing”. [Search online about auditory issues?], GOOGLEEAR(TH); I think that would be an inefficient way to do that. [GEICO gecko’s financial counterpart?], CREDITCARD(TH)EFT; crossword-ese alert! An eft is quite from taxonomically from a gecko, as one is a reptile and one is a juvenile amphibian. [One fastidious about table manners?], (TH)EATERCRITIC. [Editor’s marks in the margin?], LATERAL(TH)INKING. [Displeased reaction to election turnout?], VOTINGBOO(TH). [Streams stocked with elongated fish?], GAR(TH)BROOKS. I like the way this repurposes a name… [Consequence of a heist injury?], (TH)ROBBINGPAIN. [Part of a project to recycle golf accessories?], TEE(TH)GRINDING.

As usual for a Sunday, it is daunting to discuss individual answers. [Radio-active sort?], CBER (active on the radio). [Land on the sea?], REELIN – as in landing a fish. [Parties, to pirates], ANAGRAM – classic anagram clue.


Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Lovers” – Jenni’s write-up

Sorry this is so late. We were in NYC today to see “1776” (which is one of the reasons I wasn’t at Stamford) and we just got home.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 7.42.28 PMOn the heels of our ageusia discussion earlier this week, Hex offer us a cornucopia of names for people who love…all sorts of things. Many of them are better known as the PHOBE rather than the PHILE. You’ll see what I mean.

  • Xenophiles love FOREIGNERS
  • Astrophiles love OUTER SPACE
  • Oenophiles love WINE TASTING. Also wine drinking. Also just wine. Good wine, anyway.
  • Glossophiles love LANGUAGES (literally “tongues” – “glossus” is Latin for “tongue”).
  • Herpetophiles love REPTILES.
  • Audiophiles love HIGH FIDELITY. They don’t let their children touch the knobs, though. Ask me how I know.
  • Amaxophiles love RIDING IN CARS. We’re getting into words Emily and Henry could have made up, for all I know.
  • Teratophiles love MONSTERS. This one I can verify, because I know about teratomas, which are tumors of embryonal tissue that sometimes contain hair and teeth.
  • Sesquipedalophiles love LONG WORDS. If loving words is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
  • Chasmophiles love SMALL PLACES. This one didn’t quite work for me. Wouldn’t claustrophiles love small places and chasmophiles love deep places?
  • Arctophiles love TEDDY BEARS. Am I the only one who put in “polar” instead of “teddy”?
  • Pantophiles love EVERYTHING.

I am a Hexophile. I love their crosswords and their acrostics and I’d probably love their cryptics if I could do cryptics. This is not my favorite of their puzzles; it’s still pretty dang good.

A few more things before David pulls the computer away from me so we can eat dinner:

  • “Sum kind of snake?” is an ADDER. Cute.
  • “Opposite of ‘blanche’ ” had me briefly confused until I noticed the “e” on the end and realized the answer was NOIRE.
  • “Unit of two” is a DUAD, not the more common and familiar DYAD.

Something I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’m going with AMAXOPHILE.

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20 Responses to Sunday, April 3, 2016

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: Need to start by explaining my Michael Strahan comment from yesterday. Just thought it was funny that the puzzle clue didn’t reference his playing career & neither did the factoid. I’d never imagine that people who can do these puzzles in less than 10 minutes don’t know Michael Strahan used to play football.
    Today’s puzzle gave me fits but was terrific with an unusually creative theme. Fill was exceptionally good for a Sunday too.

    • Papa John says:

      That was the way I understood your Michael Strahan comment, but you should know that I had no idea who he is until after I looked him up. Then, again, I don’t speed solve.

    • Steve Manion says:

      I am chuckling at the sports comment. For years on the old forum, I railed at the lack of respect for the idiom of sports. It has improved dramatically in the past few years with golf being the only sport with the occasional lapse.

      However, the idea that athletes are anything other than obscure remains standard among the otherwise brilliant and well-rounded solvers. Most know the great tennis players and some baseball players, but who could possibly know the missing letter in LE_RON JAMES?

      It took me quite a while to get the theme today.


      • Bencoe says:

        Hey, I love basketball!
        Congrats and good luck and good wishes to all at the ACPT. Dan is killing it this year, but I’d like to see David make it to the top 3 for the first time. Nice job!

      • Papa John says:

        Steve, your post has me baffled.

        I would very much like to be included with the”brilliant and well-rounded solvers”, but I don’t consider sports figures to be “obscure”, per se. If they make headlines for some reason other than their athletic careers, I might run across them, otherwise, no. Their names are simply unknown to me. It’s the same for any proper name from any category — either you know it or you don’t.

        Your cries of “Foul!” concerning sport clues are very familiar to me but I remember them to be more about the validity of the clue/fill, rather than a “lack of respect for the idiom of sports”. That has me baffled, too. Are you saying that I was displaying that lack of respect?

        • Steve Manion says:

          My comment had nothing to do with you, Papa John. As to the idiom of sports, some of the clue/fill entries that got me upset at the time included HOME BASE instead of HOME PLATE (with a rationalization by many that it is acceptable because home plate is a base—clearly anyone using such an expression would be wrong from a baseball idiom perspective) and GOLF GREEN for GREEN (it would be very strained and completely unnecessary to ever use the adjective or appositive noun in front of green except in some tortured scenario).

          As to sports personalities, there are millions and millions of football fans who would instantly recognize even average football players and well over one hundred million who would instantly recognize hall of famers like Michael Strahan.

          I know art pretty well and music not very well at all except for R&B, but the number who would recognize artists other than a very few is most likely numbered in the thousands, not the millions–but IMHO criticism because something is obscure in a culturally correct arena is unacceptable to the crossword zeitgeist.


          • Papa John says:

            “My comment had nothing to do with you, Papa John.” Cool.

            I recall your complaints about HOME BASE and GOLF GREEN, now that you mention them. I just didn’t think of those terms as “idioms”, but defined as “characteristic modes of expressions” from a specific genre,I guess they are.

            I’m sorry, Steve, but I’m just not following your discourse, today. I’m not sure what you’re saying in the last two paragraphs in your last post. Do you feel someone has suggested that sport figures are obscure? Are you saying sports fill is actually more befitting crossword play than Fine Art or music?

          • Steve Manion says:

            I am saying that sports figures are not obscure, but there are periodic expressions (even from our beloved Amy) to the effect that the less sports in puzzles, the better.

            I would not particularly want to have puzzles filled with sports, card games, etc., but I am hypersensitive about what I perceive to a lack of respect for sports.


  2. PJ Ward says:

    WaPo – The meta asks for a state that should be in the puzzle, but isn’t. We’ve got eleven states with ten of them (five pairs) crossing each other. The crossing pairs abut each other (Florida,Georgia), (Kansas,Nebraska), etc. The outlier is Maine, which doesn’t have a state crossing it in the grid. Maine has only one state abutting it – New Hampshire.

    Minor, minor ding for MONTANA reaching MADSEN in the (VA,TN) crossing.

    • David L says:

      Thanks — I didn’t see that at all. I was trying to come up with other plausible entries in the form of names including a state. George WASHINGTON. Gary INDIANA. There may be others.

    • Evan says:

      MONTANA crosses MADSEN in the entry, yes, but it doesn’t cross VIRGINIA, which was my primary concern.

  3. Papa John says:

    Today’s NYT was ‘way out of my wheelhouse, with so many pop references and unfamiliar proper names.

    The theme was lost on me for far too long. Is there some spacial wormhole between the rebus squares hinted at that I missed or did everyone have to suss it out with brute force, as it were? Is there a pattern to “jumping to conclusions” that alludes me? Is it simply lower left to upper right?

    Some clues seemed stretched, too — Johnny Hart panels are BCS? Is INBOX ZERO really a “goal” for anyone? Wouldn’t one SNUB a person by not inviting them in the first place, as opposed to “disinviting” them?

    Beside Amy’s hated SDAK, there was UVEA, SEEPS, ERRS, ENT, ESS, TOAT, HAR, RDAS, EPA and to many other less-than-desirable fills, even for Sunday fare.

    “Sight seers” cluing EYES was cool but, to me, this puzzle had too many stinko elements and the theme didn’t override them.

  4. JohnH says:

    Very clever theme that took me ages to get. I was closer to Papa John on the fill, not just with proper names but also with idioms like IN-BOX ZERO and EGO-surfing. Perhaps being too old for this one I also wanted something like “hang on a sec” or “hang in there” and “in a sec,” none of which fit. Between all that, a Kanya reference, and the song title coming down, the NW was a killer for me and not so much fun.

  5. JudyB says:

    I prefer a cross “word” puzzle to name that obscure tune (at least to me) or celebrity. Got all the fill but never did get the jumping ??Even the explanation gave me a headache. Granted I don’t solve in less than a nano sec, but I do long for the days when access to Wikepedia is not a requirement to solving the puzzle. Atlas maybe.

  6. Norm says:

    I didn’t think there was an undue amount of pop culture or trivia, etc., in this one, and there was a nice amount of classical stuff too: ADONAI, AGNUS [DEI]. and so forth, so it seemed “fair” (i.e., equally hard) for many generations (definite boomer here). I flat out love this puzzle. Not necessarily while I was solving it, since I was baffled, perplexed, and bewildered for the longest time. The constant refrain in my head was “what the hell am I missing?” Got the “ear” at 76D (thought at one point that the upper circles would be “eye” and so forth until 46D removed that option), but did not see the jump until CRY ME A ___ because, darn it, it had to be RIVER! And then I saw TAKE A RIVER at 55A and the LED (light bulb is so yesterday) went on. Fantastic puzzle.

  7. Karen says:

    The title of my LAT newspaper print version of puzzle is This Is In. Wonder which title is correct!

  8. bob says:

    If Puzzling had awards, LAT’s Sunday entry would win hands down for “Most Inane Theme” Please cut out the silliness and get back to “Clever”!!

    • placematfan says:

      [This short rant is in no way a reflection of a personal feeling towards the individual poster.]

      Re: “Beside Amy’s hated SDAK, there was UVEA, SEEPS, ERRS, ENT, ESS, TOAT, HAR, RDAS, EPA and to many other less-than-desirable fills, even for Sunday fare.”

      I am so so so tempted to start posting daily lists of entries I’m tired of seeing in lists of crosswordese. UVEA, SEEPS, ENT, ESS, TO A T, EPA???!!! Seriously? I am also tempted to defend these entries as viable and maybe even statistically inevitable or something–I want to say, YOU go make five puzzles and don’t use any of these entries and YOU see if you give a *!@!$% about THAT added constraint after you’ve had to deal with all the OTHER constraints that will indubitably be more important to you as you construct… … But I won’t, I wont. I won’t say that. It’s been said. To death. I WILL say, because it can’t be said enough, that:

      1. Fill that is Bad and fill that is Overused do NOT belong in the same crosswordese list. Worlds apart. Come on. Any defense of RDAS and HAR is going to be paradigmatically different from a defense of ESS or SEEPS. Bad fill, Overused fill: sometime lovers perhaps, but they sleep in different beds.

      2. There are a finite number of three-letter entries. Deal.

      I feel like I’m part of an unsung sect of Cruciverbia who is sick of hearing solvers say they are sick of seeing certain entries. Where’s that database?: the one that you have to check before you you post a list of crosswordese, the one that tells you that, yes, HAR is awful fill, go ahead and rant about that, but SEEPS, SEEPS is a different story, okay, and if you include SEEPS in your list of crosswordese then some List of Crosswordese Blogger is going to publicly decry your list of crosswordese. So there.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I have zero problem with SEEPS, ENT (particularly when clued as the medical specialist), ERRS, and EPA. The State of Michigan basically lied to the EPA about what was going on with Flint’s water supply. The EPA is an important agency! And SEEPS and ERRS are just ordinary verbs.

        RDA(S) does kinda suck, though. Find me a bottle of unexpired vitamins with “RDA” on the label. “% Daily Value” has been used for years now. A younger solver may well never have heard of RDA, so it’s really not good fill at all. It’s an outmoded 3-letter abbreviation.

  9. cringeworthy says:

    The clue to 25A vs. the answer to 77D. Ewww.

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