Sunday, April 10, 2016

CS 16:11 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley 13:25 (Jenni) 


LAT 5:35 (Andy) 


NYT 9:21 (Amy) 


WaPo 12:36 (Jenni) 


Randolph Ross’s New York Times crossword, “Something in the Water”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 10 16, "Something in the Water"

NY Times crossword solution, 4 10 16, “Something in the Water”

The theme is boats on (or, in one case, under) various bodies of water. Each vessel is positioned in the grid alongside its body of water:

  • 23a. [Where a 28-Across was often submerged in W.W. II], ATLANTIC OCEAN. 28a is U-BOAT.
  • 43a. [Where you might tour the Grand Canyon in a 38-Across], COLORADO RIVER. 38a is RAFT.
  • 50a. [Where an Italian tourist might ride in a 47-Across], GRAND CANAL. 47a, GONDOLA. No idea why it doesn’t say “tourist in Venice.” How many Italian tourists go to Venice? And “Italian” is too broad if the clue means “tourist in Italy.”
  • 79a. [Where a 73-Across sails loaded with fuel], ARABIAN SEA. 73a, OIL TANKER.
  • 85a. [Place for an 81-Across to catch seafood], CHESAPEAKE BAY. 81a, TRAWLER.
  • 105a. [What a 101-Across travels for some urban commuters], NEW YORK HARBOR. 101a, FERRY.

The bodies of water are mostly chosen from a large list of possibilities—there are a lot of places a FERRY or OIL TANKER sails, but the letter counts had to fit the grid’s theme symmetry.

Toughest crossing: 111a. [James Joyce short story in “Dubliners”] meets 87d. [“Little piggy” holders]. THE DEAD is a more famous story but didn’t fit the crossings. I prefer the BOOTIES spelling, but crosswords too often have BOOTEES so I tried that with EVELENE first. Turned out to be EVELINE with BOOTIES.

Five more things:

  • 52d. [Metal grates for grilling], GRIDIRONS. Not sure why the markedly more familiar football-field angle isn’t used here. I’ve never grilled on a gridiron.
  • 102d. [Sant’ Gria brand], YAGO. Say what??
  • 42d. [Makeshift beds], PALLETS. The rough wood things in warehouses? I’ll pass.
  • Favorite fill: JANET RENO, BALALAIKA, the CHEER UP LATRINE combo (I want to patent that). And GNEISS is always nice.
  • Least favorite fill: HAVE A GO, OAT BAR (which duplicates the etymology of BARRE in this grid), HICS, the SERIO-/SINO- prefix one-two punch, OBE, NAE, UNDAM, IGA, OLEOS.

3.25 stars from me.

Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Squad”—Andy’s review

Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel's LAT Puzzle, "," 04.10.16

Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s LAT Puzzle, “Squad,” 04.10.16

The title of this one, “Squad,” should actually be parsed as “S-quad,” as instructed in the clue for 104d, ESSES [Twisty turns … and the “quad” in each of this puzzle’s eight longest answers]. So basically the theme is eight phrases that contain exactly four ESSES. None of them is plural, which is a nice bonus.


  • 22a, FIRST CLASS STAMP [“Forever” purchase]. Did you hear that the USPS is lowering the price of stamps?
  • 46a, CLOSED SESSION [Government meeting for delicate subjects]. 
  • 55a, NO FUSS NO MUSS [Simple to use, in adspeak]. “No muss no fuss” Googles way better than “No fuss no muss.” I really wanted the former, which is why I had the funny-sounding but nonsensical BERF in the grid where BERM should have been.
  • 80a, BUSINESS RISK [Corporate uncertainty]. Risky business has business risk.
  • 89a, CASE DISMISSED [Judge’s decree]. As a law dude, I enjoyed this answer.
  • 115a, CHRISTMAS SEASON [It has a November kickoff]. Clever clue. Not much misdirection to be found in most LAT Sundays, but I always welcome it when it’s there.
  • 14d, JUST AS I SUSPECTED [“Aha!”]. My favorite theme answer.
  • 35d, CUSTER’S LAST STAND [Great Sioux War of 1876 event].

It seems like there ought to have been tons of possible theme answers for this, though obviously the shorter the entry, the fewer choices there are. Not a very exciting theme, and probably not too difficult to execute, but all the same it’s solidly done, as I’ve come to expect from Don and C.C.

There’s some nice stuff in the rest of the grid, like EASY MARK, “I SURE DO,” USS IOWA, WURSTS (with the unusually cheeky clue [Lousy sausages?]), RISOTTO, SOME SAY, TABASCO, DRY HEAT, and REST DAY. Really don’t like the look of TITLIST in the grid, mostly because I’m used to the golf brand spelled “Titleist,” but that sure is how that word is spelled. Junk factor is super-low, really only NORGE stood out to me, though there are the occasional necessary glue entries like AHN and ARE SO.

A fine puzzle, though I certainly didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed C.C.’s offering at the ACPT. Which, by the way, was a blast! It was great to see so many cruciverbalists and Fiend regulars there, though of course our fearless leader Amy was missed dearly. I finished a personal best 11th! The puzzles were great, so if you haven’t solved them yet, do that.

Until next time!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Ish Ka Babble” – Jenni’s write-up

Maybe it’s just me, because this one also seemed harder than the usual Crooked Crosswords fare. I don’t think I would have been able to suss the theme without the title. “Ish Ka Babble” – all the theme entries have “ish” inserted in a way that turns a recognizable name or phrase into nonsense. We like nonsense.Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.18.46 AM

  • Wise father? – JUDICIOUS PRIEST. Judas Priest
  • Divider on a mover’s cart? – DOLLY PARTITION. Dolly Parton. That’s where I realized what was going on.
  • Unkempt omelets? – DISHEVELED EGGS. Deviled eggs. My favorite entry.
  • Amazing breakfast pastry? – GREAT DANISH. Great Dane. Good doggy.
  • Abysmal oversight? – BAD OMISSION. Bad omen.
  • Kleenex? – TISSUE COMPANY. Two’s company.
  • Funeral director’s seasons? – MORTICIANS SALT. Morton’s salt. When it rains, it pours.
  • Love goddess among cracks? VENUS IN FISSURES. If I follow the pattern, this is Venus in Furs. I’ve never heard of Venus in Furs. BEQ always gives us some obscure (to me) band in his puzzles and this time it’s a theme entry. Google tells me that Venus in Furs is a current band,. It’s also the name of a band in a movie called “Velvet Goldmine” that was in itself based on the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop. According to Wikipedia, “{t}he band name “Venus in Furs” is taken from a song by Lou Reed’s early band, The Velvet Underground, which itself was taken from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch‘s novel by the same name, which appeared on their first album.” That’s a whole lot of recursive referencing. My guess is that the best known of these is the Lou Reed song and that’s what Brendan was going for, but that’s just a guess.

I like this theme; I had to say the themers out loud in order to figure them out (especially “Venus in Furs” because obscure.) It was just enough detective work to make it a more satisfying solve.

Other things:

  • We’ve already established that I don’t know video games. Mario has a dinosaur? And its name is YOSHI?
  • A “fitted wedge” (19D) is a not a shoe, it’s a TENON.
  • “Drink with Adam and Eve” at 38A is a reference to diner lingo for eggs – the answer is JOE, which is the coffee with the eggs. Disheveled eggs. Hee. Told you that was my favorite answer.
  • The J in JOE crosses JAVA at 38D and BEQ avoids a cross-reference by cluing the down as “Web coding language.”
  • SHEA is the “kind of butter” at 74 D. We used that every week at drum class (djmebe hand drumming. Very fun.)
  • Is it a dupe if NEON shows up as an answer and we have “The Neon Bible” author as a clue? Felt dupe-ish to me and I tried to avoid putting NEON in for 87A until I absolutely had to.

What I did not know before doing this crossword puzzle: See above about “Venus in Furs” and Mario’s dinosaur.

Fun puzzle. If you’re not subscribing to the Crooked Crosswords, you’re missing out.

Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, “Venus in Furs”.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Themeless #1” – Jenni’s write-up

I spent 20 or 30 seconds searching for the typo. This is the first themeless of Evan’s tenure at the Washington Post. I know that because he called it “Themeless #1.” It was definitely harder than the themed puzzles he’s been running. That’s a feature, not a bug, as far as I’m concerned; I wonder what normal people will think.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 9.26.32 PMThere’s so much I like in this puzzle that I hardly know where to start.

  • A FISH CALLED WANDA, clued with its tagline – Heist film involving “murder, lust, greed, revenge and seafood.” [sic – the clue didn’t include the Oxford comma, Amy] Oh, do I love that movie. I think it may be time to watch it again.
  • “Major scale figure?” is not a musical clue. The answer is FAHRENHEIT.
  • Unlike JFK, Evan knows a Berliner is a type of JELLY DONUT. Are “donut” and “doughnut” equally correct, or is one a variant? Don’t ask me. I call them soufganiyot.
  • “Editorial listing” is not the masthead but rather ERRATA – not lists of editors but things editors list.
  • I didn’t even look at the clue for 107A – I had the last six letters filled in from crossings – ATBASS – and slammed in ALL ABOUT THAT BASS. Turns out the clue is “2014 No 1 hit with the lyric ‘I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll’.” I like that song. I like Meghan Trainor. I just do.
  • “Hardwood feature” at 37A is not a feature of hardwood but a feature movie about basketball played on hardwood – SPACE JAM. Took me a while to figure out what that was even after I had it from crossings.
  • “Earthling who grew up near Venus?” is the amazing SERENA, one of the best athletes ever.

Question: Is STAR DESTROYER a reference to a particular fictional universe? I had no idea what “fictional rebels” Evan had in mind; that was one of the last clues I filled in.

Something I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: the dance craze NAE NAE was inspired by the TV show “Martin.” Watch me whip.

Let’s close with a little classic John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Doug Peterson’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 04.10.16

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 04.10.16

Good morning, everyone! How’s your Sunday going so far?

For the second time this week, we have a crossword puzzle from Mr. Doug Peterson, and it definitely was a smooth solve. Probably not as hard of a Sunday grid as some might want, but there’s definitely so much lively fill that you can look past that. Found it appropriate that HAWKGIRL was the first entry in the grid since she goes a long way back in the comics world (1A: [Winged DC Comics character]). The upper left went down pretty quick once HEDY went down, as the across answers intersecting them were beyond gettable after that (1D: [Actress and inventor Lamarr]). All of the ling fill was great, though it’s tough to pick which one stands out from the rest. I guess I can go with PENTATONIC SCALE, since that was the last clue I completed to finish the grid (35A: [Basis for many folk song melodies]). Better yet, let’s go with ICE ICE BABY, since I can put up the Jim Carrey parody of the now home renovator from In Living Color, “White White Baby” (12D: [1990 #1 rap hit that was originally a B-side]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARAMIS (54A: [Duelist of fiction]) – One of the more productive and underrated power hitters of the past quarter century, former Major League third baseman ARAMIS Ramirez recently retired from The Bigs at the end of last season. Starting his career in 1998 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ramirez hit 386 home runs, drove in more than 1,400 runs and was a three-time All-Star selection. In 2012, as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Ramirez led the National League in doubles, with 50.

Have a great rest of your weekend, everyone!

Take care!


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17 Responses to Sunday, April 10, 2016

  1. Martin says:

    Sangria was “discovered” by America at the 1964 New York Worlds Fair, where it was the hit of the Spanish Pavillion (the Fair got very hot). A New York entrepreneur started importing a bottled version from Spain as “Yago Sant’gria.” New Yorkers in the late sixties and seventies were bombarded with ads for the stuff. There were catchy jingles on the radio, billboards and painted apartment buildings everywhere a New Yorker looked or listened. Pepsi-Cola bought the rights and distributed it, along with Stolichnaya Vodka, through the Wines and Spirits division they set up to monetize the “liquid assets” they acquired when they became the first major US product to sell in the Soviet Union. (There was no hard currency to pay for the Pepsi syrup, so they traded for vodka.) Unfortunately, Pepsi never figured out how to sell alcohol, and the division was disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union. But for a while, Yago was a household name in New York.

    It’s still around, but is much more of a niche product now.

    • Matt says:

      Which probably explains why, after passing over the clue (no way I’d know the answer to that!), ‘Yago’ suddenly floated into my head.

      • Bencoe says:

        Gross. But then my best Spanish friend’s favorite drink is red wine mixed with Coca-Cola. I guess in the days before amazing Rioja the Spanish had to adulterate their wine.

  2. PJ Ward says:

    I think of a pallet as a temporary bed. Usually a blanket or quilt on a floor. Hopefully a carpeted floor. As a child I slept on one when we had a lot of family visiting. “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” is a traditional country blues song. Here’s Mississippi John Hurt’s version…

  3. Francis says:

    That is a rough crossing in the NYT. Probably would’ve been better to clue BOOTIES as [Dancers may shake them] or something.

  4. Evan says:

    Thanks, Jenni. I’m hoping this won’t be the last mega-themeless I write for them.

    STAR DESTROYERS were the Empire’s big arrowhead-shaped battleships in “Star Wars.” So, ships targeted by the Rebel Alliance.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Thanks, Evan! I have seen the original three and the latest Star Wars, but I am at best a casual fan, so that one slipped by me. I hope it’s not the last mega-themeless, either.

    • rock says:

      Evan, What a great puzzle! One of the best this year! You, dear sir are a godsend, thanks for laughs and education, especially nae nae from” Martin”!!

  5. austin says:

    A FISH CALLED WANDA has one of the greatest movie lines ever with “You are the vulgarian, you fuck!”

  6. Christopher Smith says:

    Would like to second the point on “Italian tourists,” particularly since many Venetians look upon Italy as a modern construct that doesn’t do justice to their former empire.

  7. Karen says:

    I wish Christmas season waited until November to kick off!

Comments are closed.