Friday, April 29, 2016

CHE untimed (Jenni) 


CS 8:23 (Ade) 


LAT 9:39 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:23 (Amy) 


Andrew Kingsley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 29 16, no 0429

NY Times crossword solution, 4 29 16, no 0429

Nice 70-worder, and I think this is the constructor’s debut.

Highlights in the fill include JET BLACK (100 times better than the EBON that shows up in too many crosswords), a GOOD TIME, HAMSTER WHEEL, PASSIONFRUIT, THE RAVEN ([72 of its 108 lines end in “-ore” sounds]—does that include bore, snore, s’more, and boar?), an EASY READ, ICY STARES, VALUE MENU, SLAM POETRY, “AIN’T IT?”, JIGSAWS (standing in for the more technically correct jigsaw puzzles, but who doesn’t just say “jigsaw”?), the antiquated LATIN LOVER (Wikipedia describes it as “passionate and attractive male of Latin or Romance European origin and phenotype”), and VIRUS SCAN.

Never heard of TERCET, 56a. [Sonnet-ending unit]. This is half of the more familiar sestet.


“Whimsy” pieces in the vintage Birds of the Tropics print jigsaw.

Three more things:

  • 26a. [Old radio dummy], SNERD. I think Edgar Bergen’s ventriloquism puppet Charlie McCarthy is markedly more familiar than Mortimer SNERD, but SNERD gets all the crossword love. Somebody put CHARLIEMCCARTHY in as a 15, will ya?
  • 7d. [Fitting gifts for puzzle enthusiasts?], JIGSAWS. Karma Sartre tipped me off to Liberty Puzzles, a Colorado company that handcrafts its wooden jigsaw puzzles in Boulder. It’s hard not to be disappointed by cardboard jigsaws after you’ve done Liberty’s puzzles, full of pieces shaped like people, animals, flowers, and swirly shapes. Here’s the one I’m working on (again) now.
  • 43d. [Product of natural outdoor steeping], SUN TEA. I misread the clue as “sleeping” and was confused about the SUN’s involvement.

OREL, SNO, TSE, and ETERNE added nothing to my enjoyment of the puzzle. Maybe if SNO had been clued as SNO-Caps instead of SNO Balls …

Four stars from me.

Don Gagliardi & Zhoquin Burnikel’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Aces” – Jenni’s write-up

CHE crossword solution, 4 29 16 "Aces"

CHE crossword solution, 4 29 16 “Aces”

There was a glitch in the .puz file that made this one harder than it should have been. I managed to solve it correctly and was very confused. I understood the theme; an ace on the golf course is a hole in one, and each theme entry has a “hole” rebus in the middle of the word “one”. “Hole” fits with the down answer. So we have

  • TIE O(HOLE)NE ON crossing (HOLE) CARD
  • IN ON(HOLE)E EAR crossing LOOP (HOLE)

I assumed that IN ONE EAR and LOOPHOLE were revealers, because in my version of the puzzle all the other theme answers and the crossing (HOLE) answers were clued as No Clue; I was initially look for an “ear” rebus. No dice. Once I realized that the rebus was HOLE I went back in and figured out all the theme answers; I wasn’t sure if this was a software quirk and the clues were supposed to be blank, or if No Clue meant something I didn’t understand – maybe some connection to the board game? Finally I downloaded the PDF file from the CHE website and discovered that there should be actual clues for each answer. So “TIE ONE ON” is appropriately clued as “Get sloshed” and “(HOLE) CARD” as “Hidden asset.” This makes SO much more sense.

It’s a really nifty puzzle; the theme is tight and consistent and very straightforward when you have the clues. I’m pretty impressed with myself for solving it with an unintentional handicap and I kinda wish I’d remember to turn on the timer.

A few more things:

  • 1A is “Reform Club wagerer of fiction.” The Reform Club is the establishment within which Phileas FOGG wagers that he can go “Around the World in 80 Days.” Nice detail.
  • I just watched an episode of Antiques Roadshow last night, so I was primed for 38D, “Collections including pamphlets and posters” – EPHEMERA.
  • The Economist apparently has a full-page weekly OBITUARY. Good on them.
  • “Event with hand-holding” at 24D is not about helicopter parents, but rather mediums – it’s a SEANCE

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Ecuador used to have a currency called the SUCRE.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160429

LA Times

Today’s theme is a little offbeat. You start with a two-word cereal. Then you take a letter from the second word and create a “wacky” cereal. The cereals are, broadly speaking, familiar to me even though a lot of US cereals aren’t sold here (Nestle recently introduced Cheerios, though I haven’t partaken…)


  • [Knockoff cereal?], FROSTEDF(L)AKES.
  • [Cold cereal?], PUFFED(R)ICE.
  • [Recalled cereal?], FROOT(L)OOPS.
  • [Prohibited cereal?], RAISINB(R)AN.
  • [Mystery cereal?], SHREDDEDWH(E)AT.


  • [Freshwater flatworms], PLANARIA. I’m happy to have some platyhelminths in my puzzle, but your mileage may very…
  • [Swift’s medium], AIR. The bird, not the author. I think Chimney swifts are about your most widespread species. Here we get Little, Whiterumped, Alpine and African Black, with Common and African Palm Swift more scarce.
  • [Charged wheels], TESLAS. This clue gave me no end of trouble for some reason. I stared at TE?LAS for about the last two minutes of the puzzle!
  • [“Ex’s & Oh’s” singer King], ELLE. US #10, but she may be heading down the path of a one-hit wonder… Though the nature of modern music makes it harder to completely disappear from view.
  • [Disorganized], INCHOATE. Friday vocab word!
  • [Brand that’s swirled, not swallowed], LAVORIS. Mystery answer! Those letters could’ve been anything! Tried to force LISTERINE in here, but no dice.<
  • [Edible thistle], ARTICHOKE. Trivia!
  • Offer to a potential seeker], ILLHIDE. Quirky, but I’ll take it!
  • [Rizzoli of “Rizzoli & Isles”: Abbr.], DET. I’ve watched that show a couple of times; it seems like it’s one of those that, despite being set in a large city (Boston in this case), every case relates personally to the protagonists…

The theme wasn’t really my bag, though there’s nothing wrong with how it was executed. I still enjoyed the puzzle, especially the way the big corners played out.

Donna S Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ode to the Light Brigade” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.29.16: "Ode to the Light Brigade"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.29.16: “Ode to the Light Brigade”

“Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh…charge!” Hello there, everyone! Hope your Friday is going great today. Today’s grid, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, are all different definitions to the same word, the word being “charge.”

  • JURY INSTRUCTION (17A: [Charge])
  • VISA TRANSACTION (38A: [Charge])
  • ELECTRICAL BOOST (61A: [Charge])

Can you blame me for initially putting in “wig” instead of RUG (39D: [Comb-over alternative])? Seeing SISTER reminds me that I have no sister, and I, being the last of three sons, was the last chance my parents had in having a girl (31D: [Convent resident]). Sorry mom and dad. Recently, there was an article out as to why it seems like TAYE Diggs follows everyone on Twitter, including yours truly (4D: [Diggs of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”]). I honestly thought that Taye, a fellow Syracuse alum, followed my work, liked it, and decided that he had to follow me and my happenings in cyberspace. Even after knowing that, I’m still clinging to the fact that he’s seen, and loves, A Lot of Sports Talk, as well as my commentary on Twitter. Allow me be delusional, just for a little bit!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LEA (29D: [Pasture]) – The 193rd no-hitter thrown in Major League history was thrown by the late Montreal Expos pitcher Charlie LEA, one of the few French-born players in Major League history. Rather than speak about the no-hitter, here’s the video of the last out against the San Francisco Giants.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Take care!


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12 Responses to Friday, April 29, 2016

  1. Andy says:

    EASE and EASY READ in the same puzzle was a big TABOO for me.

  2. Erik says:

    Isn’t the clue for JIGSAWS a little weird? You don’t need a question mark if JIGSAW just refers to a jigsaw puzzle, since of course a puzzle is an appropriate gift for a puzzle enthusiast. But if it’s supposed to refer to actual jigsaws… well, who gives a jigsaw as a gift?

    • Jim Peredo says:

      I think the question mark is due to the word “fitting”. It’s not being used as a synonym for “appropriate” but instead referring to the act of fitting pieces together.

    • Thomas says:

      It’s a fitting gift because it involves fitting the pieces together.

  3. ktd says:

    NYT: sub-5 minute solve, definitely one of my fastest Friday times. Thumbs up!

  4. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Fun puzzle with lots of lively phrases. A nice debut.

    I had a couple minor nits in the NE. 16a IN REASON [Not excessively] feels off; seems like it should be WITHIN REASON. Similarly, 13d COMER [Star on the horizon?] seems like it should be UP-AND-COMER. I’ve never heard of just a COMER.

    I’m happy to learn about Liberty Puzzles and their wooden jigsaw puzzles. I will have a look at their catalog. We discovered an almost identical company in the UK some years ago, Wentworth Puzzles. I wonder which one came first. Wentworth also has an extensive catalog, but with a British slant. Like you, Amy, it’s turned us into jigsaw snobs.

    As for my favorite entry, THE RAVEN, take your pick: Vincent Price gives a classic rendition, Christopher Lee is silkily ominous, and Christopher Walken brings a touch of mania to the reading. And then of course there’s the Simpsons take which is wonderful, if not only for the first words of the Bart-Raven (I won’t spoil it).

  5. David L says:

    Nice but kinda easy for a Friday.

    I agree with Jim P that INREASON doesn’t sound like a standalone phrase. On the other hand I’ve heard of COMER in the sense of a hot prospect, a star in the making.

    I couldn’t make sense of VIRUSSCAN as a real thing, but I just realized it refers to digital viruses rather than organic ones.

    Four French words in one puzzle. Does that break an informal rule? (But they were all easy ones).

  6. David L says:

    Over at That Other Blog, Rex asks whether the clue for FINLAND (first country in the world with universal suffrage, 1906) is correct. New Zealand is usually given credit (1893), but arguably it wasn’t a country back then. This official account says ” the country’s independence from Britain was gained in many small steps rather than all at once,” which is why they don’t have an official independence day.

    On the other hand, the Finns do have an official independence day, Dec 6, 1917. Before that it was an autonomous principality of Russia — so arguably not a country.

    In short, whether the clue is correct depends on what you take the word “country” to mean, but it seems to me that New Zealand was at least as semi-independent in 1893 as Finland was in 1906, so it’s hard to see why Finland should get the credit for being first.

  7. Brad says:

    The Across Lite version of this week’s CHE puzzle lacks its theme clues, due to a .puz file conversion error. I’ve sent them a restored version and hopefully the web team there will respond quickly. If you want an updated version of the file before they get to it, e-mail Apologies to C.C. and Don, and thanks to Bob Klahn for giving me a heads-up.

    Kudos are in order to those who had a clean solve WITHOUT the theme clues, of course!

    • Brad says:

      And no, leaving the theme clues out was not part of my evil plan — strangely, doing so would have been a tad theme-appropriate this week, but no, not my intention or the constructors’.

      The PDF version available on the Chronicle web site IS fully intact, BTW.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        LOL. I avoided the comment section to make sure I didn’t see any spoilers before I solved the puzzle, and so missed your update and solved the puzzle without the clues. Still a nifty little puzzle, and far less diabolical with the clues intact.

  8. Jeffrey K says:

    Somebody did put CHARLIE MCCARTHY in a 15: Ed Sessa on August 11, 2010. Reviewed by someone named Jeffrey:

    39A. [Wisecracking dummy of old radio] – CHARLIE MCCARTHY. Edgar Bergen had a good gig – ventriloquist on the radio, where no one can see your lips move.

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