Sunday, May 8, 2016

CS 16:55 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley 14:54 (Jenni) 


LAT 11:42 (Jenni) 


NYT 11:35 (Amy) 


WaPo 9:17 (Jenni) 


David Kahn’s New York Times crossword, “Liquid Condensation”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 8 16 "Liquid Condensation"

NY Times crossword solution, 5 8 16 “Liquid Condensation”

Science people: Is the “liquid condensation” title redundant? The theme is a two-way rebus. In the Downs, it’s HHO, or H2O. In the Acrosses, it’s WATER and it’s been inserted into various phrases to create new made-up phrases:

  • 27a. [Advice to captains plagued by pirates?], CHANGE YOUR {WATER}WAYS.
  • 35a. [Direction taken by a large pipe?], WATER MAIN COURSE. Sewer/plumbing, not great fodder for humor.
  • 63a. [Container to keep a canine cool?], DOGGY WATER BAG. What’s a water bag? I know of those CamelBak things used by some hikers and runners, but those are “hands-free hydration systems.”
  • 72a. [Telegrams sent by those in trouble?], HOT WATER WIRES. If any of you have sent or received a telegram in the current century. I’d love to hear about it. (Maybe wires in a bomb that needs to be defused as an alternative clue angle?)
  • 95a. [Conservative’s opinion of the Republican presidential candidates?], GOOD AS GOLDWATER. This ’60s political reference has new currency as people discuss divisive presidential nominees.
  • 108a. [Oceans?], SALTWATER OF THE EARTH.

The theme entries’ wordplay doesn’t bring the funny, but the Down crossings with the HHO rebuses are all rock-solid (though I’m surprised to see RANC{H HO}USES clued as [Home on the range], given that there are a zillion one-story houses called ranch houses that are many miles away from the nearest ranch).

Felt like there was a lot of fusty old fill in the grid, and other not-great stuff. RE MI, -ITIS, NSEC, ORONO, NOB, JAS, E’EN, French suffix (!) -IERE, EERO atop ROAN crossing ST LEO, plural NEALS, OSOS, ASYLA, an Estonian ESTH (this is in none of the dictionaries indexed by—they all have it as an abbreviation for Esther or “Esthonia”), plural REOS, ATRA, OONA (this one was on 11 episodes of Game of Thrones several years ago), partial name DOREN, and plural NAES.

Favorite fill: HIGH-OCTANE and THE HUSTLER.

Three more things:

  • 109d. [Baseball executive Epstein], THEO. First couple years at the Cubs, we had our doubts about him. But now? He’s looking like he knows what he’s doing. If the Cubs sweep the Nats on Sunday (they just beat them the last three days), they’ll have an .800 record. It’s bonkers.
  • 87a. [1982 coming-of-age movie], DINER. Wait. You can “come of age” when you’re already in your early 20s? Feels like more of an act-your-age movie.
  • 51a. [Bibbled], DRANK. Have not seen the clue word before. Judging from, this isn’t a word that your standard (not unabridged) American dictionaries include.

3.2 stars from me. The short fill left me wishing for better, and the theme was short on laughs.

Alan Arbesfeld’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.08.16

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.08.16

Hello there, everybody! And a special hello to all of the women who are reading this who are mothers, as I want to wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day!

We have Mr. Alan Arbesfeld at bat for today’s Sunday Challenge, and he brings a whole lot of long fill with this interesting grid. There were eight different 15-letter entries, and pretty much all of them brought some goodness. Well, maybe not FEELING ONE’S OATS, as that was a little bit of a letdown (37A: [Displaying high energy]). Maybe that’s because I hadn’t heard of that phrase before today. Other than that, enjoyed the grid, and the high number of three-letter entries didn’t bother me too much. Started the solving with a gimme for me, which was MACHINA, as the title of that movie has just stuck in my head ever since I saw the trailer for it (1D: [“Ex _______” (2015 film)]). Northwest went down really quick, and after I got NEAREST RELATIVE, then things got moving for me (3D: [Health form information]). Think I’ve seen that clue enough times for RAMON that that ended up being pretty straightforward, as I put that down without thinking of the consequences – if there were going to be any (35A: [Martin Sheen’s real first name]). Probably my favorite clue/entry combo was GREMLIN, as I think I’ve used that word more times to describe those types of situations described in the clue than I care to imagine (60A: [Unseen troublemaker]). Either that’s why I liked it, or because it allowed me to think about the movie Gremlins. There was more “blah” fill than in most of these Sunday Challenges: from feel one’s oats to ARIDEST (13D: [Least interesting]) to OOHER (39D: [Fireworks viewer, usually]), as well as a number of those three-word entries. At least for me, the long fill made up for it, though I’m sure that won’t be everybody’s sentiment.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PRINCETON TIGERS (8D: [Ivy League team whose only loss in 2015 came in the second round of the NCAA Tournament]) – In the 2014-15 season, the PRINCETON TIGERS’ women’s basketball team had one of the greatest seasons in Division I women’s basketball history, going a perfect 30-0 in the regular season and achieving the highest ranking any Ivy League women’s basketball team ever has had in the Associated Press Poll (No. 13). In the NCAA Tournament, Princeton defeated the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay before losing in the second round to top-seeded Maryland in College Park, MD. Now it just so happens that a certain crossword blogger covered Game No. 17 of Princeton’s undefeated regular season in 2015 and interview their leading scorer and star player of that time, Blake Dietrick. Take a look at Amy’s awesome reporting of the game against Penn! Oh…that’s not Amy?

Thank you for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Communication Update” – Jenni’s writeup

LAT Times crossword solution, 5/8

LAT Times crossword solution, 5/8

Today’s LAT brings common phrases into the modern techno-world by adding something to the end.

  • 23a: [Tiny pair of media hosts?] = TWO PEAS IN A PODCAST. Cute.
  • 31a [Security for sailors?] = SAINT ELMOS FIREWALL.
  • 49a: [ Online photo exchange for redheads?] = GINGER SNAPCHAT. I’m not fond of that use of “ginger,” but that’s a personal idiosyncrasy and I can’t hold it against the puzzle.
  • 65ad: [Having returned to the world of public performances?] = BACK IN A FLASHMOB. This isn’t specifically tech-related; a flashmob is made possible by social media but happens in the “real world.”
  • 85a [Emeril’s gateway?] = FOOD WEB BROWSER. The “food web” is what we oldsters learned as the “food chain.”
  • 100a [“Got a film to share?”?] = ANYTHING FOR YOUTUBE
  • 113a [End of a “Great Reuben” tweet?] = CORNED BEEF HASHTAG. Well, there is corned beef in a Reuben but there’s no corned beef hash, so I don’t think this one works.

So two theme answers don’t quite work for me.

Speaking of things that don’t work…over at 80d, we have [Modernize]  as the clue for UPDATE which, as you may notice, is in the title. I suppose this might be part of the theme, although it isn’t the same style as the other theme answers. If so, it’s weird. If not, it’s a duplication. Either way, I don’t like it.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Kind of crazy?] is an odd clue for STIR. It’s like the old MISO as a kind of soup. STIR is not a kind of crazy; it’s a word that sometimes goes before crazy. Not the same thing.
  • [Bartlett cousin] at 21a isn’t related to the book of quotations but to the pear – it’s ANJOU.
  • 59a, [Crepe cousin] = BLINTZE. I have never seen this with an “e” on the end. I would strongly prefer that it be clued as a variant.
  • 97a [Half a kids’ game]  is GO SEEK. Odd sort of partial.

All in all not my favorite puzzle.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that anyone ever spelled blintz with an e on the end.

I leave you with my favorite song from 12a, [Steely Dan album], AJA. The soundtrack of my youth. Here’s “Peg.”

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Workout Study” – Jenni’s writeup

Today Evan makes us think different about common phrases that contain the name of an exercise. We start with 23a [Exercise that strengthens your ability to disembark?] = GANGPLANK. From there, each theme clue follows the pattern:

Washington Post crossword 5/8 solution

Washington Post crossword 5/8 solution

  • 25a […to finish a race?] = HOMESTRETCH.
  • 45a […to steal?] = SHOPLIFT.
  • 47a […to make merlot?] = WINE PRESS.
  • 71a […to eat an orange party snack?] = CHEESE CURL. Yum.
  • 73a […to do things at the last minute?] = TIME CRUNCH. I am not familiar with this behavior. Not at all. No. Nopetynopenope.
  • 93a […to commit a certain party foul?] = DOUBLE DIP. Yuck.
  • 97a […to be loyal?] = SIDEKICK.
  • 119a […to perform trials?] = PRACTICE RUN
  • 123a […to do nothing at all?] = JACK SQUAT

I’m not familiar with JACK SQUAT; I assume SQUAT is a euphemism for the word I see more often in that phrase. All the others are solidly in the language. I didn’t realize until I wrote them all down that the themers are all side-by-side in the grid. Neat feat of construction, and nice fill despite the theme density.

A few other things I noticed:

  • Shoutout to Margaret Atwood at 15d – her novel CATS EYE. I heard that there’s a movie of A Handmaid’s Tale in the works. That novel still haunts me, thirty years on.
  • I’d never realized that ROTATOR is a palindrome – 66a, [Palindromic muscle.]
  • Classic musical appearance at 62d [Birdie of “Bye Bye Birdie”] = CONRAD. “We love you Conrad, oh yes we do….”
  • We get the longer spelling of AEONS at 34d, signaled (in my opinion) by the extended clue: [Very, very long periods.]

The theme made me smile, the fill was solid, and overall it’s a nice puzzle.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there was a video game by SEGA called “ToeJam and Earl.” I could have lived the rest of my life without knowing that.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked Crossword, “Twice is Nice” – Jenni’s writeup

Very quick writeup because I have to get ready for a wedding!

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 12.03.04 PM

CRooked crossword 5/8 solution

BEQ gives us straightforward clues and answers without wordplay. Each theme answer has a word repeated.

  • 23a, [“Chip off the old block” comparison] = LIKE FATHER LIKE SON.
  • 39a, [Zone alternative] = ONE TO ONE DEFENSE.
  • 45a, [Constantly] = DAY IN DAY OUT.
  • 70a, [Rutgers’s home] = NEW BRUNSWICK NEW JERSEY. Nice grid-spanner and the one that gave me the theme.
  • 88a, [1985 no 1 Lionel Richie hit] = SAY YOU SAY ME
  • 99a, [Hapharzadly] = CATCH AS CATCH CAN
  • 119a, [Imitation phrase] = MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO.

They’re all solidly in the language. ONE ON ONE DEFENSE doesn’t quite fit the pattern; a forgivable lapse in a solid puzzle.

We have the usual BEQ musical (to me) obscurities

  • 32a [Pop singer Hendryx] = NONA
  • 60a [ ___-J (rockers named for a computer term)] = ALT

Plus a few other things I’d never heard of – CLUEDO and [Shane star Van] HEFLIN, for two. And 27a, [Loft holders] took me a looong time to parse. The answer is EASELS, I suppose because lofts have art pieces that sit on easels. Since the L in EASELS crosses HEFLIN, I was nearly natick’ed.

I stumbled around for a while before I got a foothold and then it fell easily, once I knew what I was looking for in the theme answers.

What I didn’t know before I didn’t this puzzle: that CLUEDO existed.

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22 Responses to Sunday, May 8, 2016

  1. Giovanni P. says:

    Weird, the online version has a different title: “Trapped Moisture”.

    I got a little deja vu with this one, and it turns out Finn Vigeland had a Sunday with a similar conceit in 2013:

    However, the HHO entries are all different, and Finn’s used real base phrases for the WATER while David went the wacky route. Depends on which approach you find more elegant, but I’m not going to gripe too much about repeated themes here.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The title I listed is what’s included on the .puz file.

      • Andy says:

        I suspect the .puz file is the one with the error, since (a) XWordInfo lists “Trapped Moisture” as the title, and (b) Finn’s puzzle with the same theme from 2013 has the very similar title “Condensation.”

  2. Christopher Smith says:

    I thought maybe each HHO in NYT was a different kind of moisture with DOGGY. Ice bag? Some play on “dew” as a homonym? But alas. It just wasn’t very good. Telegrams. Clueing a movie about young adults in the early 1960’s as it did. And how many conservatives think any of this campaign’s GOP field was as good as Goldwater? Seemed like they took something from 10 years ago, swapped in one of Obama’s daughters for “Alleged CIA mole” & voila. The vertical HHO’s were fun, though. Not phrases you’d normally see.

    • chris says:

      Apparently enough conservatives thought one guy (and his HOTEL) was good enough as GoldHHO to get nominated. I myself though it was interesting he showed up in the clues, as this (very timely) puzzle was just released,and concerns him:

      As for the puzzle, I quite enjoyed the HHO words too. I suspected something was going on, but I only confirmed exactly what when HIGH HOLIDAY didn’t quite work…but JEWIS(HHO)LIDAY did. Took a little while longer to figure out how the WATER played nicely with the crossing answers, but at least I had most of the HHO words filled in pretty quickly after getting the theme, which helped.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    My pdf paper copy has the title Trapped Moisture. I think Liquid Condensation is a much better, more accurate description since the references to water are condensed. I kept looking for words like “dew” or “wet” spelled out, i.e. “trapped” in the answers. I’m not sure whether I would have seen the light more quickly with the Condensation title, but I might have.

    My two favorite movies of all time have recently appeared in crossword puzzles — The Hustler and Doctor Strangelove. Who can forget the classic line in the Hustler “No bar, no pinball machine; this is Ames.” I shot at Ames a few times, and I recognized some of the surly but sad looking hangers on. Ames was actually kind of scary. And Peter Sellars in Strangelove is one of the tour de force acting performances in movie history.

  4. Papa John says:

    I recently read about a celebrity receiving telegrams from other celebs with congratulations for winning some award. I was surprised to hear that telegrams are still available. After Amy’s comment, I decided to do some research. It seems that American Telegram Company delivers wire telegrams and there’s an app called Telegram that “is a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a focus on security and speed”.

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Contrarian again. Hated the LAT (though I upped my rating by 1/2 just to not be too unkind), loved the CS.

  6. Beth says:

    LAT: Actually, corned beef hash is a thing so corned beef hashtag works.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Yes, I like corned beef hash and was going to make the same point that there certainly is such a thing, but I think that what Jenni meant was that there was no hash in a Reuben sandwich. But I don’t think that disqualifies the theme answer since it’s a play on hash and hashtag.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        There is such a thing as corned beef hash. I know that. And there’s corned beef on Reuben sandwich, but there’s no corned beef hash on a Reuben. It’s a stretch.

  7. Thanks, Jenni.

    You’re right — JACK SQUAT is the less rude stand-in, but still fairly common in my experience.

    And you’ll probably learn more about old-school video games than you ever cared to by doing my puzzles. :)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Isn’t “jack squat” a Matt Foleyism from the Chris Farley character? I know that’s where I picked it up!

      • It’s very possible that’s what popularized the phrase. The SNL transcript for the first Matt Foley sketch is the earliest dated Google News reference I can find for it. This slang dictionary suggests it was “1980+” but who knows how reliable that is.

        • Jenni Levy says:

          Well, that would explain why I’ve never heard it before. My SNL references are more likely to be Jane Curtin and Garrett Morris.

          And yes, Evan, you and BEQ seem determined to teach me about video games.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Evan, I once got hooked on a old computer game called Phantasmagoria — the one and only time that I’ve gotten into anything of the sort. Did you ever hear of it?

      • I’ve heard of it, and remember seeing the box at various computer game stores, but never played it. I’ve only now just learned how controversial Phantasmagoria was — my goodness. Weird that the same person who made that game, Roberta Williams, is also responsible for the King’s Quest series, which I did play.

      • pauer says:

        Loved “Phant” as a kid, though it went from nothing-going-on spooky to everything-going-on gruesome very fast. Other childhood favorites include the Infocom games, Maniac Mansion, and Donkey Kong. Good times…

  8. richard levinson says:

    Re LA Times
    “In stir” means in jail, thus “stir crazy,” crazy from being locked up. A type of crazy
    “Flash” is tech — for flash drive. (aka thumb drive)
    Why are supermarket lines “carts?” I don’t get it.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      In a supermarket line, peoples’ carts are lined up waiting to check out.

  9. Elise says:

    Evan: 117 across, Shade. Technically in the art world, to “shade” is to add black. To “tint” is to add white. So a better clue would’ve been “Opposite of shade.” Just a nitpick from an old art student. Loved the puzzle.

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