Thursday, May 5, 2016

CS 7:29 (Ade) 


Fireball 7:26 (Jenni) 


LAT 5:21 (Gareth) 


NYT 7:03 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


BEQ untimed (Ben) 


Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword – Jenni’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.56.58 PM

Fireball crossword solution, 5 5 16, “Exit Stage Left”

This Fireball is in my wheelhouse. I’ve worked full-time in hospice and palliative medicine for the past seven years. Some people might think this theme is depressing. I feel right at home.

It’s an extra-long (15×17) grid that may have been inspired by the recent exits of several icons of the stage. The themers are:

  • 17a[What may result when a computer system is attacked with numerous unnecessary tasks] = DENIAL OF SERVICE
  • 26a [2003 comedy with the tagline “Feel the love”] = ANGER MANAGEMENT
  • 40a [Potential concessions, e.g.] = BARGAINING CHIPS
  • 55a [Translucent dishware given away in the 1930s to lure in customers] = DEPRESSION GLASS
  • 68a [Third book in Anthony Powell’s 12-novel cycle “A Dance to the Music of Time”, with “The”] = ACCEPTANCE WORLD

And the revealer down at 76a:

  • [Exit that may result in the five stages of grief seen on the left in the long answers of this puzzle] = DEATH

The five stages are, of course, DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, DEPRESSION, and ACCEPTANCE. I’m glad that Peter said they may occur, not that they will occur. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross did pioneering work in the psychology of grief, which is a universal human experience. She gave us a vocabulary to discuss grief and loss outside of religion and opened a conversation that continues to this day. Her work, unfortunately, has been widely and wildly misunderstood and misapplied. Grief is a universal experience, not a uniform experience; each of us will walk through it differently and express it in our own way. And death isn’t a single loss; it is a series and collection of losses which will land at different times. When my father died, I lost my father and my mentor and a colleague and my daughter’s grandfather and my mother’s husband. Those are all different losses; I have come to accept some and not others.

For other perspectives on grief, I recommend Madeleine L’Engle’s “Two-Part Invention“, C S Lewis’ “A Grief Observed“, and Ken Doka’s work on disenfranchised grief. Dr. Doka has a new book, “Grief is a Journey“, that I’ve found very helpful.  And everyone should read Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal.

OK. Back to the crossword. Other things I noticed:

  • The crossing of 6a and 7d stumped me for a long time. [Collect a sample from, in a way] at 6a had to be SWAB because STAB didn’t make any sense. That means [Saint with famous parents] at 7D has to be WEST. Saint West? Saint of the lost? No, the younger child of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. OK, I think I’m glad I didn’t know that.
  • Thank you, Peter, for recognizing that the term FAIR SEX is only used by “geezers” (10d.) I’ve usually seen it as FAIRER SEX, when I’ve seen it at all, which is not often. 
  • Math clues! [30 degrees, for 1/2] at 11d (ARCSINE) and [One-fifth of DLV] at 59a (CXI.)  Got both from crossings. I can do math just fine; I solve crosswords faster.
  • [Expensive cat toy in many online videos] at 48a is IPAD. Are there really videos of cats playing with iPads?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that QUOTA is Latin for “how large.”

I’ll close by answering my own question about cats and iPads. My goodness.

David Poole’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 5 16, no 0505

NY Times crossword solution, 5 5 16, no 0505

The solo black squares in this grid—the ones that don’t touch another block, not even diagonally—all replace the word ACE because, I guess, somehow single black squares represent some kind of ace? The Across and Down answers that abut the ACE blocks are completed by including that ACE. I’ve circled the letters that are adjacent to each ACE. We’ve got aceTATE used in cels and some sour aceRBITY in the northwest corner. In the northeast, there’s AMAZING GRace crossing the double-ended CRETaceOUS. Below that, there’s VERSace and LIBERace. And in the final quadrant, the ace IN THE HOLE revealer is clued 52a. [Hidden advantage that this puzzle employs four times?], and its ace crosses ADJaceNT TO.

Nice twist on the rebus concept, though the square aces are kinda throwing me.

Favorite fill: BLACK SHEEP, RIPLEY’S (man, I was a sucker for the comics-page version and the paperback books from the library), JULES VERNE, “TO LIFE,” and Rebecca DEMORNAY.

There’s some weather happening in here. Below ICELAND, there’s SLEETS and DROPLETS, and to the right of it, there’s the BREEZIER NEAR GALE. I can’t be sure it’s not also raining BLOOD here.

Less exciting fill: IN DC and I IN (that’s three INs including the revealer), DERR, AVERS, NEWEL, IS OUR, ASANAS, AHL, TERNS, plural EEKS, and outdated TNN.

Three more things:

  • 61d. [Showy basket], JAM. The clue confused me, as I was picturing a basket bedecked with ribbons and flowers rather than someone JAMming a ball through the basketball ring.
  • 9a. [Where to find the Capitol and the Library of Cong.], IN DC. You know what else is in Washington? The Indie 500 crossword tournament, on Saturday, June 4. I’ve booked my travel! The debut Indie last year was a fabulous event, and I’m not just saying that because I came home with bling. (There were also delicious miniature pies.)
  • 45a. [’01 album that knocked the Beatles’ “1” off the #1 spot], J.LO. It would be churlish to ding this clue for duplicating 66a: ONES. I like all the 1’s in the clue!

3.75 stars from me.

Alice Long’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Breaking Ranks” — Jim’s review

Today’s byline is one of editor Mike Shenk’s well-known pseudonyms, being an acronym for The “Collegian”, the school newspaper at Penn State University.

He gives us a military theme in which common phrases start or end (or both!) with an abbreviation for a military rank. That rank is “broken” out, i.e. separated by a block, from the main part of the entry.

WSJ - Thu, 5.5.16 - "Breaking Ranks" by Alice Long (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Thu, 5.5.16 – “Breaking Ranks” by Alice Long (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a/19a [Element used in cryonics]/[Mil. rank] LIQUID NITRO/GEN
  • 36a/37a/40a [Mil. rank]/[Ham hocks side dish]/[Mil. rank] COL/LARD GRE/ENS. Nice find!
  • 58a/59a [Mil. rank]/[Ticket number] ADM/ISSION PRICE

That’s a lot of brass! We get one general (O-10, I’m assuming 4-star here), one admiral (O-10, Navy equivalent to a general), one colonel (O-6), and lastly, one lowly ensign (O-1). Sadly, no love for the hard-working non-coms who are the real backbone of the military. But then, good luck finding a phrase that starts or ends with SGT, CPO, PFC, or CPL.

This theme seemed pretty straightforward to me and not because I’ve been in and around the military my whole life. I guess I’m getting used to the way Mike Shenk’s mind works.

breaking ranksThe title indicates that military ranks would be broken up somehow. My first thought was that he would have phrases that break up a single rank, such as in ENGINE DESIGN. But when I encountered the first clued [Mil. rank] at 19a, I saw it was just an abbreviation and that it was directly following a long, probably themed, answer. I checked the corresponding entry at 58a, and yup, it was clued the same way. Then I found the other two in the middle.

Knowing that he’s run puzzles in the past that break up similarly, I sussed out correctly that these were going to be phrases beginning or ending with an abbreviation for a rank. Then it was just a matter of finding out which ones.

I made steady progress through the grid despite some proper names I didn’t know. 9d is GARDINER [Jake of the Toronto Maple Leafs], 33d is ELAINE MAY [“Primary Colors” screenwriter], and 43a is GIDE [“The Immoralist” author] (that’s French author Andre Gide).

I also didn’t know SKI PARTY (46a, [1965 Frankie Avalon film]). Of course, I know of the Beach Blanket films, but I never knew they took to the slopes. (Tag line: “It’s where the He’s meet the She’s on skis and there’s only one way to get warm!” Wow. The plot sounds truly awful. One bright spot, though: at the end, one character swims off into the ocean from California in search of a fictional woman who is supposedly “somewhere near Guam”. I’m from Guam so this got a chuckle from me.)

Back to our grid. There’s a nautical theme perhaps inspired by ADMiral ISSIONPRICE. 1a is WATER, followed by VOLGA. We also get vowel-heavy AEGEAN SEA, WADE, and DEEP END. Oh, and some RAIN FALL at 5d.

A few final notes:

A DOOZY of a car—the STUTZ Bearcat

  • 26a. [Hunt with an Oscar] is LINDA (not HELEN as I first put). LINDA Hunt won for her portrayal of a photographer (and man) in The Year of Living Dangerously. Helen Hunt won for As Good as It Gets.
  • 63a. I love STUTZ [Bearcat maker] crossing 50d DOOZY [Humdinger] at the Z.
  • 41a. Did not know there were only ten geological ERAS. They are, in order, Eoarchean, Paleoarchean, Mesoarchean, Neoarchean, Paleoproterozoic, Mesoproterozoic, Neoproterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, and lastly, our very own Cenozoic.

Thus concludes another regular WSJ puzzling week. Until next time!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Under Cards” — Ben’s Review

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Under Cards

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  This Thursday’s BEQ is equal parts clever and frustrating.  I’ll explain why in a sec, but for now let’s start with all 12 (!) theme clues and their associated revealer:

  • 1A: Like some mobile phone arrangements — POSTPA(ID)
  • 7A: Does nothing — (ID)LES
  • 13A: Very bold — INTREP(ID)
  • 14A: Indifferent comment — (I D)ON’T CARE
  • 16A: Iconic 1970 Black Sabbath album and single — PARANO(ID)
  • 17A: First woman to direct a film noir, “The Hitch-Hiker” — (ID)A LUPINO
  • 60A: Plaed between, as decorative bathroom tiles — INTERLA(ID)
  • 62A: “Forgive my rambling thoughts” — (I D)IGRESS
  • 64A: Unlikely to change — ROCK SOL(ID)
  • 65A: Dreamer — (ID)EALIST
  • 67A: Serious-minded — STA(ID)
  • 68A: Many potato farmers — (ID)AHOANS
  • 38A: Feature of many a superhero, and an alternate title for this puzzle — SECRET IDENTITY

As it turns out, their are a few secret IDs that need to be placed in two of the grid’s black sections for the fill to make sense.  16A/17A cracked this open for me – I knew the Black Sabbath song was PARANOID and that IDA LUPINO was the director (which I knew since she’s also one of the only people to appear in AND direct an episode of The Twilight Zone), but neither was quite fitting in the grid.  I was expecting playing cards to somehow play into this from the title (and having today’s NYT on the brain), but quickly realized it was ID cards.  The rest fell into place.

And now the frustrating part.  With all this theme fill (which is pretty good), some of the non-theme fill/cluing felt unusually hard – I forgot to time myself while solving, but it definitely took longer than normal to decipher some of the clues this week.  Other clue notes this week:

  • 19A: Civil rights lawyer Guinier — LANI (this felt a little obscure, but some Googling reveals it’s shown up in crosswords before)
  • 43A: B-52s superfan  — SOT (I was thinking new wave, not cocktails, so this one tripped me up completely while I tried to think of what the B-52s fandom would be called)
  • 10D: Like Kanye West — VAIN (If this had been created in time for the Met Ball his weekend, CREEPY or EERIE could have been used – those contacts!)

    10D - This jean jacket cost more than my rent, more than likely.

    10D – This bedazzled jean jacket cost more than my rent, ya’ll.

  • 33D: Boy band whose name starts with a star — NSYNC (nicely timed for the annual resurgence of the “It’s gonna be May” meme)
  • 46D: Italian soccer league that Juventus has won five years running now — SERIE A (that last trigram of vowels trips the “something is wrong with my answers” section of my brain)
  • 57D: Princess with shapely buns — LEIA (May the Fourth have been with you yesterday.)
  • 63D: “Why!? Why!? Why!?” — GAH (I may have uttered both the clue and its answer as part of solving the puzzle this morning)

The non-theme fill on this one was a bit of a letdown, but I liked what was going on otherwise.

3/5 stars.

Martin Ashwood Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sharing the Lead” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.04.16: "Sharing the Lead"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.04.16: “Sharing the Lead”

Hello, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, could have also been titled “Don’t Get the Lead Out.” In each of the first three theme entries, the word “LEAD” spans multiple words within the answer. The fourth theme entry, DENSENESS, acts as the reveal (66A: [Quality of the theme word hidden in this crossword]).

  • TILE ADHESIVE (19A: [It sticks around the bathroom])
  • LIFESTYLE ADVICE (38A: [What some counselors provide])
  • CABLE ADAPTER (52A: [TV hookup, at times])

Knew this grid was going to be a meaty one given all of the longish entries in the Northwest and Southeast, and was pretty pleased with most of that fill, especially TAKE SHAPE (1A: [Become a reality]). Seeing YOO definitely reminds me that I’ve gone way, WAY too long in not having chocolate milk (39A: [___-hoo (chocolate drink]). In today’s “to spell out T (tee) or not to spell out T,” the former won out, with DO TO A TEE (40D: [Execute exactly]). I actually recently learned that the classic shoot-em-up video game CONTRA, though dealing with having to eliminate aliens, owes its name to the actual Contras involved in the actual political controversy from yesteryear (34A: [Iran-______ Affair]). Well, time to head out for lunch in Manhattan, but we’ll see if I can come across a CELEB (65A: [One of Us?]) being driven in an A CLASS (26A: [Mercedes-Benz category]). Going to head to the same place where I struck up a conversation with a Victoria’s Secret model a couple of years back while waiting for a sandwich.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARENA (63A: [Gladiator’s realm]) – Former United States Men’s National Team soccer coach Bruce ARENA is currently the head coach/manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS), the highest-level soccer league in the United States. Before his professional coaching career, Arena, who was a standout goalkeeper at Cornell, won five national championships as head coach of the University of Virginia. At the professional level, he’s won five MLS Cups, the most recent coming in 2014 with Los Angeles. At the international level, he coached the U.S. team to one of its best performances ever at a World Cup, leading the Stars and Stripes to the quarters at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.

TGIF tomorrow! Hope you have a great rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


Jennifer Nutt’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times  160505

LA Times

ALLCAPS is an excellent revealer. The rest of the theme plays out in typical fashion. Each of the four pinwheel answers (plus two long extra horizontal answers) has a first part that is satisfied by “___ cap” – ice cap, night cap, bottle cap, shower cap, kneecap and sky cap. I didn’t recognize “sky cap”, but after looking it up, I think it has been in other puzzles. I’ve never encountered anyone performing the linked-to description at an airport ever.

The theme answers are:

  • [Tension-easing activity], ICEBREAKER
  • [It supposedly keeps the monster inside the closet], NIGHTLIGHT
  • [Jam site], BOTTLENECK
  • [Baby blanket, perhaps], SHOWERGIFT
  • [Kilt companions], KNEESOCKS
  • [High jumps], SKYDIVING

Bits and bobs:

  • [2012 title judge played by Karl Urban], DREDD. They made the comic into another film??
  • [Groom with a bill], PREEN. Totally fooled by this, despite the fact groom (n.) with a bill made little surface sense!
  • [Jaguar creator], ATARI. Atari Jaguar was a not too successful game console.

3.5 Stars

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38 Responses to Thursday, May 5, 2016

  1. e.a. says:

    loved your fireball review, jenni!

    • huda says:

      I agree, Jenni, and thanks for the pointers re books on grief.
      I also agree with your comments about the experience being complex and different for different people. And one of the things that bothers me is that people jump to diagnose depression when someone is grieving. I don’t feel the two should be conflated. I will check out these books.
      And my hat’s off to you and all people who work in palliative medicine– a hugely needed and very humane aspect of medicine.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Jenni, I also loved your review, and Huda, I cannot tell you how much I agree with your objection to conflating sadness with pathological depression. I’ve been harping about that for years — at least since Michele died. The book I recommend most is CS Lewis’s “A Grief Observed” — interesting inasmuch as he and I have very different theological views. Among many other things, he likened the experience of grief to fear. But quote I remember most vividly is something like “There is much boredom in grief.” When Michele died that resonated with me, and I almost felt guilty about it. I found Lewis’s essay amazingly reassuring.

    • aries says:

      I loved the review too. I thought the most clever part of the puzzle was the title; this is a case that I’d have preferred that as an in-grid revealer.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        Thanks! I was a bit worried about going off on a tangent, so I’m relieved that it landed well.

        Huda, yes. In the US, at least, we have a cultural expectation that people will “get over” a loss in a ridiculously short amount of time and we tend to pathologize it when they don’t. I expect the acute manifestations of grief to last at least six months and I’m not surprised if they persist for a year. A friend of mine thinks there’s something biological about this, since so many cultures have mourning rituals that last for a year. We’ve gotten away from that in the modern world, unfortunately.

        • huda says:

          Jenni, I do think a year is culturally common for a good reason– in part probably biological because we can feel quite different across seasons . But also we have to confront each occasion, anniversary and celebration, one by one throughout the year, and each makes you experience the loss in a slightly different and new way–harking back to your point about the many different perspectives on grief.
          Bruce, while I agree that fear is not a good analogy to grief, all negative experiences that we seek to cope with have one thing in common– recall consolidates them and yet rewrites them slightly differently, at the molecular and cellular level. The best experiments on this were done in PTSD and fear conditioning, where you can show that when a fear is being re-experienced even in the absence of the original trigger, new memory is being formed and if you block protein synthesis, you interfere with that process and weaken the memory. So, as we recall the same event, we really are not replaying it exactly but re-writing it in our brain, and it changes. This is of course both a loss (may be part of what makes it seem boring as it loses vitality) but it is also adaptive. I remember watching a family member with dementia who lost her daughter, and she would lapse into periods of true forgetting. Then she would either be told or somehow remember, and you could tell it really slammed her as hard as the first time. I never saw anything so sad.

        • Papa John says:

          An element of grief that Kübler-Ross omitted from her now-famous list is guilt. My father died when I was fourteen. I carried a guilty feeling from his death for the next sixteen years, until I finally figured out that I held this guilt because I had felt little or no grief for his passing. I didn‘t cry until the funeral service and that was abruptly ended when my uncle, seated in the pew behind me, rapped me on the back of my head and hissed, “There’s a time for that and this isn’t it!” Since then, I have refused to attend funerals.

          You guys got it right – grief and grieving are personal. No one should be berated for how they handle grief.

          • Jenni Levy says:

            Oh, Papa John, that story makes me wince. I’m so sorry. And I agree that no one should be berated for how they handle grief.

            Doka’s work on disenfranchised grief is fascinating. Among other observations, he points out that people who grieve in a way that isn’t socially approved of are at higher risk for complicated grief – men who want to cry and talk, or women who don’t want to cry and talk, will both be disenfranchised, and the isolation adds to the suffering of the grief.

          • Papa John says:

            It’s not so bad. My thirtieth year was an veritable era of enlightenment and I was able to come to terms with the anger, frustration and guilt that I harbored for so long. Trust me, I’m now a well adjusted and fully functioning individual. I thought that was manifest on these pages…no?

          • Jenni Levy says:

            Can’t reply to your other reply. Yes, it’s manifest. I still flinch at the idea of a grown man treating a grieving child like that. You deserved better, even though you’ve thrived despite it.

          • Bencoe says:

            I feel like our society as a whole has a long way to go in coming to terms with the reality of death. Sometimes it reminds me of Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich.
            My mother was a hospice worker and grief counselor as well.

  2. alex says:

    Agreed, excellent Fireball review.

  3. janie says:

    nyt: i rather liked this puzzle, but i posit that (musicologically) “amazing grace” is more a hymn than a spiritual. at best it’s a quasi-spiritual. spirituals are songs that originated with plantation slaves; “amazing grace” was written by a man who’d been involved in the slave trade and who’d come to regret that. the history of the song is rich indeed, but i have to say i agree w/ this wiki article that calls it a hymn that “…has become an emblematic african american spiritual.” fwiw…


    • philr says:

      The duality of Amazing Grace explained.

      • janie says:

        hmmm. this is good as “stories” go, but i’m not convinced. at all.

        i suspect the real truth, though, is that we’ll never know the real truth of exactly who wrote the melody we use today (and when). after writing them, newton’s lyrics were attached to other hymn melodies so it seems highly unlikely that he ever heard the tune we know as “amazing grace” in his lifetime. but i can believe that the melody — independent of the lyrics — may have been adapted from some other spiritual. what can i say? like our national anthem — whose melody was borrowed from a popular british tune — it seems to be another early example of a crossover song…


        • Jenni Levy says:

          I had the same thought!

          • janie says:

            great minds; same gutter.

            and put me in the “ditto” column for your beautiful fireball post.


        • PhilR says:

          I should have been clearer – I really meant to reference only the part about it’s being written in the pentatonic scale, one which predominates in what we’re calling ‘true spirituals’ as differentiated from hymns. Our notion of hymns likely comes from the western tradition, which has a different musical basis. When I listen to Amazing Grace the immediate effect is of a traditional spiritual, not of a hymn I heard in the Episcopal church of my youth.

          You’re right about the rest of the video, it’s likely rewriting history.

  4. Seth says:

    Re the NYT puzzle:
    The black squares are holes. There are aces in the holes.

    • huda says:

      I agree that it’s the intent of the puzzle, and I tumbled to it at some point and then hesitated… Square holes are a real thing but holes usually evoke a circle so you have to push that aside.

      • pauer says:

        Yes, using black circles would’ve made more sense visually, but it would’ve made the puz a lot easier, too. Maybe too easy for a Thursday? To me, it played like a rebus puz that ended up not being one, after all.

        Fun theme.

  5. Dr. Fancypants says:

    DERR crossing LEGER was a total Natick.

    • Joe Pancake says:

      Agreed. I guessed S first.

      ISOUR crossing ESE was a lesser Natick. “A Mighty Fortress IS OUR God” makes more sense than “A Mighty Fortress IN OUR God,” but the latter is certainly plausible, and to just about everybody, I imagine, ENE is as equally plausible as ESE for an effectively random direction.

      In general, I thought this one had a decent theme idea, but the fill needed some work — like tear-it-all-down-and-start-over work. As is, it was brutal and should not have been published, in my opinion.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Shows the incredible subjectivity of the concept of obscurity. A well-known painter and a well known author. And whatever one’s theological views, the Martin Luther hymn “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is our God”) is an essential item in the cultural canon. The moment at the end of the Mendelssohn Resurrection (5th) Symphony where the full orchestra plays the Mighty Fortress theme fortissimo, is one of the scintillating moments in music history.

        • Lois says:

          I agree with Bruce about the fill. The Bach version of the hymn must have been too famous for Bruce to mention. Although I didn’t find the puzzle all that easy, I wasn’t put off by the fill and was able to enjoy the theme. I’m glad it was published! It was a very pleasant solving experience.

          • Joe Pancake says:

            I should clarify: I think the puzzle should not have been published *as is.* With a cleaner grid, it could have been a good puzzle.

            As to Bruce N. Morton’s point, I think there are decent (albeit imperfect) objective ways to measure obscurity, e.g., Google hits.

        • Bencoe says:

          LEGER, with his great sense of line and big blocks of color, has a distinctive style which is instantly recognizable to anyone who has even seen one of his paintings. Worth learning about if you haven’t. Popularity isn’t always the best measurement of how good an answer is.

  6. arthur118 says:

    LAT clue correction-

    In an otherwise excellent puzzle, the clue for 54A “New Hampshire prep school town” is incorrect and should read “Massachusetts prep school town”.

    • arthur118 says:

      My bad. Should have googled first since there is a prep school in a tiny NH town by the name given as the answer.

  7. Papa John says:

    So let me get this straight – black squares in the NYT are “holes” and black squares in the BEQ are “cards”? Really?!?! In what universe? What indication does the solver have for this twist of convention, other than brute (read brutal) effort needed to get the fill that ultimately reveals that the black squares are part of the puzzle? The dashes given for down clues that jumped the black squares in the NYT were my revealer and, as far as I know, the dashes themselves are a recent departure from convention. [ID]ALUPINO was the give-away for the BEQ. What indication was there that not ALL the black squares in the puzzles were either “hole” or “cards”? While the concept is intriguing, I think it needs more work before it becomes another unconventional solution.

    • Norm says:

      The title was weak, but BEQ explained himself that the best title was his central answer. I don’t think there needs to be an indication which squares are going to “hide” the missing letters, but I agree that “under cards” was very weak. When I think of an under card, I think of the prelim matches in boxing before a major/title fight. ACE was easier for me to figure out than the hidden [secret] ID, since AMAZING G—- could not be anything else. The only question was whether it was a rebus or something else. BEQ’s were nicely placed, and, c’mon, you have to give him credit for stacking three of them. I had most of the sides filled in, as well as the middle, before the penny dropped with IDAHOANS, and then it was pretty easy to finish the grid.

  8. Harry says:

    Loved Jennifer’s LAT puzzle! Great theme, “all caps.” Such as, icecap, kneecap, bottle cap, night cap and shower cap. And there was not a glut of foreign clues.

  9. roger says:

    there are 12 months in a year. how can one (julio) be in the middle?

  10. Matt Skoczen says:

    I didn’t even notice the KNEE and SKY connection to the LAT theme. I was just too busy looking at the Across entries only! Nice–extra special! And, I must really be losing it to miss those Down entries —even with the “longest answers” hint! [head slap]

  11. Lois says:

    Though I didn’t do the Fireball, I liked reading Jenni’s review, and kept her book recommendations.

    One thing, though: According to this geezer who thinks she has seen the phrase many times, I would say it was almost always the FAIR SEX, not the FAIRER SEX. I Googled them, and the former version had 15 million hits, as opposed to 1.4 million for the latter phrase. To be FAIR, that’s a lot, too.

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