Thursday, April 7, 2016

CS 7:18 (Ade) 


Fireball 7:15+20 theme (Jenni) 


LAT 4:04 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:20 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


This Thursday’s BEQ puzzle is a sample of the Marching Bands he produces on a bi-weekly basis. Year two for those is starting up now – if you like the sampler, sign up now to get 26 more delivered to your email inbox.

Toby Orloff’s Fireball crossword, “Organ Transplants”—Jenni and David’s write-up

OK, it’s been quite a day. Is it only Wednesday? I won’t recite my litany of grievances, since it’s not Festivus. This is all by way of explaining why I stared at this for so long before sussing the theme, and why this post is so short. David and I finally figured it out together, so I’m giving him credit in the write-up.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 9.53.22 PM

Fireball crossword solution, 4 7 16 “Organ Transplants”

You can tell the theme answers because they make no sense:

  • Fullfills a graduation requirement at some colleges? = TAKES THE PE
  • “L.A. Law, e.g.? = DEY VEHICLE
  • Apology directed at a magician’s prop? = SORRY TO HAT
  • Restorative after being fleeced? = SHEAR TONIC
  • Tweezers, for example? = SLIVER TOOL
  • Mud in a political ad, say? = SLUNG WORDS

Organs. OK. I can see the sHEARTonic, sLIVERtool, and sLUNGwords in the bottom three themers. There are no organs in the top three, at least not any I learned about in medical school. So “organ transplants” must mean that something gets moved, right? This is where I got completely stuck and David rescued me. He found

  • Takes the pLUNGe
  • DeLIVERy vehicle
  • Sorry to HEAR That

Ah. Finally. And worth waiting for – the wacky answers are funny, the aha! moment is gratifying and it all hangs together very well. It’s also nice that when the “organs” are removed from, we’re left with actual words: sonic, stool and swords.

Our esteemed and generous (and danged good-looking) host offers walking, talking, solving, and blogging evidence of the value of organ transplants and the amazing benefits of altruism. Be an organ donor.

A few more things:

  • I stared at 1D for a while before I remembered there were two Roberts on Simpson’s defense team, and the other one was Robert SHAPIRO.
  • I know very little about college sports but I’ve done enough crosswords to know that the UTEs play in the Pac-12, and I also know the Pac-12 used to be the Pac-10.
  • In the answer key, Peter felt he had to explain where CHEVY appears in the song “American Pie.” These young folks have no respect for the classics. Why, in my day, you didn’t dare set foot out of high school without being able to recite every dang word of that song. Get offa my lawn.
  • What, exactly, is pitch and PUTT?

What I didn’t know before doing this crossword: How to spell TLAXCALA. Or even that it existed. I still couldn’t tell you how it’s pronounced.

I really liked this puzzle. Thanks to Peter and Toby!

John Lieb’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 7 16, no 0407

NY Times crossword solution, 4 7 16, no 0407

PAUL RYAN wasn’t working with 1-Across’s crossings, and SARAH PALIN was the most prominent alternative for [Onetime debater with Joe Biden]. All that remained was figuring out where the rebus square was—turned out to be SARAH {PAL}IN crossing {PAL}ATIAL, with five other {PAL} rebuses in mostly asymmetrical locations. There’s OPAL/PALOMINO, SEPAL/PALLS, NEPAL/PALED, the zippy FACEPALM crossing APPALACHIA, and a RAP ALBUM crossing the director of Scarface, Brian DE{PAL}MA. That last answer is great since the rationale for rebusizing PAL is the classic Scarface line, SAY HELLO TO MY / LITTLE FRIEND. (Here’s a clip of the line—don’t watch it if you don’t like bloody gun violence.)

Solid rebus theme, in a grid with a mix of terrific fill and crosswordese. I really like “OH, SNAP,” OVER EASY, Matisse’s LA DANSE, BEER TENT, and SAM SMITH, but good gravy—ANENT crossing ILENE, Latin ALAE, and LEHI, I could do with0ut. I feel like it’s been years since I saw ALAE and ANENT in a grid.

Three more things:

  • 19a. [You might leave them in stitches, for short], ERS. I’ve had stitches from the dermatologist’s office twice this year! I really hate stitches. (Granted, surgical staples are even more annoying.)
  • 55a. [Captain’s logs?], RAFT. As in a raft made out of logs lashed together.
  • 69a. [Knocked out, as an audience], SLAYED. The most current pop-culture use of slay is in Beyoncé’s “Formation.”
  • 7d. [“The Adventures of ___” (Ogden Nash poem)], ISABEL. Needed all the crossings for this one, had never heard of it. It’s cute!
  • 24d. [They may be conceived around Halloween], LEOS. Gross! Don’t tell me when my parents were doing it.

3.8 stars from me. Would be 4, if not for ANENT and ALAE.

Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “International Agreement” — Jim’s review

Editor Mike Shenk brings us today’s puzzle (Alice Long being one of his pseudonyms, an alias of “Collegian”, his Penn State newspaper). He’s added “yes” in different languages to various phrases thus making new wackified versions.

WSJ - Thu, 04.07.16 - "International Agreement" by Alice Long (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Thu, 04.07.16 – “International Agreement” by Alice Long (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Earnings from the “Rhythm Nation” album, in Germany?] JANET PROFIT
  • 25a [Airship waved down for a ride, in Japan?] HAILED ZEPPELIN
  • 43a [Frogs that might be princes, in Russia?] DATABLE HOPPERS
  • 57a [“Rock” in “solid as a rock,” in Spain?] SIMILE STONE

As is often the case on Thursdays, I had difficulty gaining a foothold with the theme. I couldn’t remember whose album “Rhythm Nation” was. Eventually I sussed out the second answer based on its clue, but I didn’t see how Japan fit with HAILED ZEPPELIN. If anything, it should be German, right? Finally I spotted the LED ZEPPELIN in there and the separate HAI, which of course means “yes” in Japanese.

This led me to putting in the “yeses” in the other themers and eventually the rest of the theme answers.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find a whole lot of laugh-out-loud humor in the new answers, which is something I’m always hopeful for. DATABLE HOPPERS is pretty good, but the rest didn’t do much for me. Obviously, what one person finds funny…

Our dog Penny was originally named FRECKLES

Penny the dog, originally known as FRECKLES

The rest of the grid is solid, as you’d expect. Favorite fill is 39d GEPPETTO [Woodcarver of fiction] and especially 4d FRECKLES [Howdy Doody trademark]. Our dog, Penny, was originally named FRECKLES when we got her from the shelter.

Other top fill includes AFTERIMAGE, ID BRACELET, and BUTTER UP.

Favorite clues: 53d [Area between the shoulders] for ROAD41d [One whose task may be a tall order] for BARISTA, and 27d [Gift unlikely to be regifted] for ID BRACELET.

Sticking points:

  • 20a. I had __TC___S for the clue [Clamors]. I put in CATCALLS. This really messed up the NW corner for me.
  • The TAW / THE WIZ / ZION / TOUTER string. None of those crossings was coming to me. TOUTER is just unfortunate fill and having never seen any of the Matrix films, ZION was unknown to me with its clue [Refuge of the humans in the “Matrix” movies]. I had THE_I_ for [Tony-winning musical with an all-black cast], but was getting nowhere. Eventually I saw TOUTER which led to ZION and my “duh” moment for THE WIZ.

A fine puzzle overall, but didn’t give me a lot of spark.

As it’s the end of my puzzle-blogging week, I feel like easin’ on down the road. See you next week.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Clear Thinking” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.07.16: "Clear Thinking"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.07.16: “Clear Thinking”

I know they say time flies while having fun, but has it really been two years since I’ve started blogging at Fiend?!?! Well, Apr. 7, 2016 marks exactly two years since my first blog on here, and it’s been an absolute thrill to be part of this community. Here’s to another year of fun, enlightenment and humor…and maybe a little snark here and there!

One day after a grid in which the all of the theme entries were downs and focused on the top portion of them entry, today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, includes all downs as theme answers, but focuses on the bottom portion of each theme. The reveal, GLASS BOTTOM, tells you all you need to know about it (26D: [Feature of some tour boats, and of the answers at 3-, 8-, and 24-Down]).

  • GOOD LOOKING (3D: [Attractive])
  • VANITY PLATE (8D: [Customized item for an expressive driver])
  • TEAR-STAINED (24D: [Like a sad letter after being read, maybe])

Any grid that mentions Looney Tunes gets an extra boost in ranking in my book, and we have two such references, TAZ (5D: [Whirling Warner Brothers toon, casually]) and AMIGOS, with the latter referring to the cartoon in its clue (10D: [Bugs and Daffy, to Speedy]). Well, it might be officially spring, but with the cold weather that’s still gripping the East Coast now, it feels like we’re still in the midst of FLU season (41A: [Common cause for sick days]). One of these days, it’s going to feel like spring here. I think. Interesting little trivia nugget that I didn’t know was included in the clue for EMMYS (28D: [Don Knotts won five as Barney Fife]). Despite that, I’ll always know Don Knotts as Mr. Furley from Three’s Company. This might sound a little weird, but one of the things I look forward to the most about once a month is, when getting a hair cut, smelling the TALC that my barber applies after finishing cutting my hair (23A: [It may be sprinkled after a shower]). I’m pretty sure that I loved that smell when I first got a haircut at a barber shop three decades ago, and I just associate that smell from when I first liked it as a child. Yes, I’m weird, I know. Let’s just move on!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARMADA (16A: [Fighting fleet]) – Challenging the collective dominance of Americans in men’s tennis in the 1990s, the group of young, talented Spanish players to emerge at that time (e.g. Sergi Bruguera, Carlos Moya, Alex Corretja, Albert Costa) became known as the Spanish ARMADA, a play on the 16th century Spanish naval fleet. Later on, players like Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal came along to make Spain the center of the tennis universe, as the country made seven appearances in the Davis Cup Finals in a span of 13 years, winning five of them (2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011). Bruguera, Moya and Nadal all have won major singles titles, while Corretja, Ferrer and Ferrero all reached finals of a major in singles.

TGIF tomorrow! See you then, and have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times 160407

LA Times 160407

I got to this puzzle’s revealer before seeing any theme answers… somehow. I just kind of spidered down to the bottom-left, and there we go – British PMS, four of them. Immediate thoughts were – that’s a perfect category theme! How have I not seen it before? Why didn’t think of it!? Followed by, how is he going to use BLAIR, BLAIRWITCH maybe? And so it was. The others have more options: (John) MAJORLEAGUE, (Gordon) BROWNSUGAR and (David) CAMERONDIAZ. Thatcher and Callaghan would have been pretty much impossible to build on, so I assume that was why four was the cut-off.

Not a lot going on outside of the theme. A bit more quaint entries than ideal: ALBS, ECUS, OLLA, ABYSMS – the closest it comes to letting its hair down is those MOHAWKS at 29d…

4 Stars for the fun theme.

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33 Responses to Thursday, April 7, 2016

  1. SEMINOLE SAM says:


    • Jenni Levy says:

      You know we can hear you without the caps lock on, right?

    • Keith says:

      I agree, there is no reason in the world to require more than one letter per square. I know some solvers think that they are the greatest thing, but I still prefer the traditional crossword structure.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Superlative Thursday puzzle for all the reasons Amy gave and more. I like the added feature of reasoning out where the pals should be. I suppose {Father’s dictate} could be Pa decree.

    But Amy, are you telling me delicately that my parents had sex?? I’d rather keep some illusions. I guess that’s what every generation thinks.

  3. Armagh says:

    Strange. Second time this week a BEQ puzzle had a 1-star rating before the puzzle was posted on his website. Somebody have it in for the guy?

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      I was going to put it more strongly. Who’s the bozo (politest word I could think of) who gives BEQ puzzles one star before they are even posted. A certain amount of trust and respect is essential, even when one ends up sharply criticizing a puzzle (as I do sometimes.)

  4. ArtLvr says:

    NYT was amusing — I especially liked TAKES THE P.E., as it was also required when I was in college, and everyone also had to be able to swim.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. from O’Nasheous: One Man Bandit, or Ode to an Odious Don

    Donald had his ego trip
    But then it tripped him up:
    Now he’s finally lost his grip
    And landed belly-up.

  6. Joe Pancake says:


    I think the standard rebus puzzle is getting really played out. I found it more monotonous than fun to hunt down all the PALs. An interesting twist would have been to use different “friends”: BRO, BUD, CHUM, HOMES, DOG, etc.

    As it was, it just felt a bit stale, which isn’t necessarily the fault of the constructor, as he probably made it more than a year ago, and had I solved it then I might have felt differently. It just seems like we’ve seen a lot of straightforward rebus puzzles of late.

  7. PJ Ward says:

    BEQ – I didn’t solve Marching Bands for a couple of years. Then I solved one in good faith and found out I love these things. I’ve gotten better at working backwards part of the time. Today he gives us a back to back reversed anagram pair which, when flipped, are part of a nice row.

    As for the one star early rating, ignore it. Someone who does that wants attention. Don’t give it to ’em.

  8. RENEGADE says:

    I put beq in the same category as bob klahn–nasty puzzles, undoable by most amateurs When I see them I don’t bother to waste the ink to print them

    • Bencoe says:

      Quit being so amateur then.

    • Norm says:

      Oh, not fair to put BEQ in the same category as Klahn. Used to hate Klahn puzzles; I guess I’ve gotten inured to the point that I can tolerate them, although I seldom find them very enjoyable. BEQ puzzles range from the somewhat annoying (a personal judgment when he puts in more film & song references of recent years than I’m willing to tolerate) to grand. The band puzzles are an interesting twist. I don’t enjoy them enough that I would be willing to pay to subject myself to them on a regular basis (AV Club & Matt Gaffney are enough to meet the masochist side of my persona, thank you very much), but I don’t mind trying when he tosses one out there for free. It’s really just a different type of solving by crosses — i.e., overlaps — and I expect that having to solve backwards part of them adds to the anti-dementia value.

  9. rock says:

    I’ve been enjoying the crosswords, although for some reason I can’t get the Saturday stumper from Stan lately, or any of his weekday ones , something about Java. Today’s CS was great and reminded me how much I miss Trading Spaces. You know what else I miss? BOB KLAHN!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Bob Klahn’s clues are so awesome.

      Rock, try using the Firefox browser for the Newsday Java applet (updating Java as needed). I did the ACPT online tournament and had good luck with its similar Java applet on Firefox. People had trouble with Chrome.

      • Alan says:

        Favorite Klahn clue ever (from last year):

        “Jetski?” Answer: MIG!

        I miss Bob. Every day I check out the puzzle and I want it to be his. Fourth name I ever knew in crosswords besides Eugene Maleska, Will Shortz, and Henry Hook was Bob Klahn.

      • rock says:

        Thanks! got it!

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Add me to the Klahn enthusiasts. Not being an insider in this biz: do we know why his puzzles have been extremely sporadic of late?


  10. golfballman says:

    Okay, it’s about time to retire Gareth as a reviewer of the LAT. I understand he lives 1/2 a world away, but having to wait until the next day to read his review sucks.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I don’t typically send Fiend readers away from the site, but the complaints are tiresome and there is another blog dedicated to the LAT puzzle. You can also access the puzzle online to check the solution in multiple ways. If you really cared that much, you would figure out what you need to do to check the solution instead of whinging at us. Gareth and this site don’t owe you anything on your preferred schedule.

      • Jim Peredo says:

        Like! Not least of all for your use of the word “whinging”. Oh, and can we get Likes on his site?

      • Bencoe says:

        Yes! I really, really, really don’t understand the complaints by people who say that Gareth is too slow in posting his reviews. Make your own blog, then, whiners!

      • Lorraine says:

        well, to be fair, you really should just offer to refund his mon– oh, wait…

        and I, too, love your use of “whinging.” I wish more people in the US used the word so i could toss it around without sounding like a toff. : )

      • Argyle says:

        Even sooner than our blog is Bill’s. another blog dedicated to the LAT puzzle

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Not to worry, Argyle—Golfballman here doesn’t need any help with the solutions! He said so in a comment on Friday’s post. So why he feels the need to bitch and moan about Gareth’s schedule, I cannot say.

  11. Christopher Krosche says:

    I like that PATS and INTEL cross SPIESON in the NYT

  12. ahimsa says:

    I managed to solve 4 puzzles today – NYT, LAT, WSJ and CS – and I enjoyed them all!

    The WSJ puzzle was the hardest for me – some tough/clever clues. I saw the theme at 25 Across but it was still a challenge. I managed to finally figure out the whole thing without cheating. I enjoyed it a lot more than the reviewer.

    I’m always amazed at all these clever ideas for puzzles.

  13. bob says:

    In LAT, ‘Hot” = EROTIC???? That’s a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ong stretch … and a negative connotation.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I guess Bob’s never seen something that’s hot and erotic—and he thinks those are negative connotations. Shame, that.

  14. Lois says:

    Re the NYT, I want to speak in favor of rebuses, as I see here that several people don’t like them. I loved that part of the puzzle. I loved less the fact that I never saw this Scarface and forgot it existed, and confidently put in “[Howard] Hawks” as the director. It took me a long time to come up with “De (Pal)ma.” But that was a cute angle too. I was less happy with the LSU + LEHI crossing and some other such fill. I guess the difficulty of constructing a rebus leads to fill like that, and in return tough fill makes it hard to solve a rebus. It must have taken me two hours to complete the puzzle. New discovery: 55a RAFT. George RAFT was in the 1932 Scarface! I have trouble with these “Easter egg” secret gifts.

    • Lois says:

      Just found that Jeff Chen uses the “Easter egg” phrase today at XWord Info for the “pals” in the puzzle.

      He also explains 38d, PATS, for those who are the exact opposite of Steve Manion, like me. Tom Brady’s bunch. And Jim Horne says that it’s the first time that the whole name Sarah Palin has been in a puzzle!

      My computer was being repaired, so I’m even later than usual with my remarks. I can’t get over RAFT!

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