Sunday, May 15, 2016

CS 22:27 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 4:54 (Andy) 


NYT 8:25 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed (?) (Jenni) 


Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Exhibit A”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 15 16, "Exhibit A"

NY Times crossword solution, 5 15 16, “Exhibit A”

Take words that start with an A (mostly), or maybe with a schwa sound, and convert that into the indefinite article A so that you are exhibiting the A:

  • 23a. [Repeatedly cried “Land ho!” with no land in sight, maybe?], AGGRAVATED A SALT. (Assault.) I’m reading Moby Dick, but the people perched up high are looking for whales rather than land.
  • 28a. [Fighting off drowsiness?], RESISTING A REST. (Arrest.) Me, most nights.
  • 46a. [“Conger eel? Au contraire!”], THAT’S A MORAY. (Amore.) Ha!
  • 50a. [Stuck to the corkboard?], UNDER A TACK. (Attack.)
  • 65a. [Whirlybird whose paint job is flaking off?], A PATCHY HELICOPTER. (Apache.)
  • 85a. [Adversary who shows up at romantic dinners?], A RIVAL DATE. (Arrival.)
  • 87a. [“Finally, I can buy that house!”], A LOAN AT LAST. (Alone.)
  • 107a. [What Carrie needed after the prom?], CHANGE OF A DRESS. (Address.)
  • 114a. [“Major shopping centers aren’t among the prizes!”], YOU CAN’T WIN A MALL. (‘Em all.)

That last one is the only one where the “A + word” thing isn’t formed by breaking up a word that starts with A. The original and theme phrases all sound alike to my mind’s ear, though, so the theme feels pretty consistent.

Fill’s smooth, of course. TESTEE is really blah, but that’s all that jumped out at me.

Five clues:

  • 113a. [Maker of Caplio cameras], RICOH. Never heard of the Caplio brand.
  • 37a. [“Peanuts” girl], EUDORA. What?? Really? Not ringing a bell. I do remember a ’90s email program, and of course Eudora Welty.
  • 31a. [One of the “cities of the plain”], SODOM. I was thinking OMAHA.
  • 11d. [Poet who wrote “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am”], PLATH. It’s a lovely clue, but apparently the editors either didn’t notice the 32a crossing, HEART, or didn’t care about the duplication.
  • 64d. [It often contains “lies”], EPITAPH. As in “Here lies ….”

4.25 stars from me.

Melissa Brown and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Secret Retreat”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 05.15.16, "Secret Retreat," by Melissa Brown and C.C. Burnikel

LAT Puzzle 05.15.16, “Secret Retreat,” by Melissa Brown and C.C. Burnikel

Each of this puzzle’s theme answers includes a “secret retreat”–namely, the letters SPA, as explained at 125d [Retreat hidden in nine puzzle answers]):

  • 23a, LET’S PARTY [“Time for a shindig!”].
  • 25a, THOMAS PAINE [“Common Sense” pamphleteer].
  • 37a, CAT’S PAJAMAS [Remarkable thing, in old slang].
  • 54a, SPORTS PAGE [Where to get the score].
  • 71a, CAESARS PALACE [Resort with a Forum Tower].
  • 89a, SNAIL’S PACE [Very slow motion].
  • 105a, BASS PALE ALE [Brewery product since 1777]. 
  • 120a, LITMUS PAPER [Acid test substance].
  • 123a, PRESS PASS [Reporter’s entrée].

All the themers have the S on one side and the PA on the other, which is nice. Not a lot to say about this one. Fill was clean and interesting: BUT ALSO, PANDA CAM, ART CINEMA, GRIST MILL, BALSA TREE, CAESARS PALACE, NICE TRY, CANDY MAN, and AT IT AGAIN all felt new and looked good in the grid. Fun clue for 67a, ABSENTIA [Some might vote in it]. Hard not to parse SNAIL’S PACE as SNAIL SPACE, isn’t it?

Really fun stuff. Not an overly exciting theme, but still one of my favorite LAT Sundays in a long time. Until next time!

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “The Word is Out” – Jenni’s writeup

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 7.50.10 PM

WP crossword 5/15, solution

It took me a long time to figure out the theme in this one. It’s all cross-referenced, and I generally don’t like cross-references. This time, though, Evan makes it worth our while to look from one place to another in the grid.

Half the theme entries are identified with an asterisk. They’re perfectly normal phrases that don’t seem to match the clues.

  • 24a [“Don’t move; I’ll be right back”] = OVER HERE. I thought we were headed for a rebus based on WAIT RIGHT HERE. Nope. Eventually I found 98a [Phrase that explains 24 Across], and from crossings I realized the answer was THE WAIT IS OVER. If you use WAIT instead of OVER in 24a, you get WAIT HERE, which is pretty close to what I thought it was. And that’s the game: each clue has a cross-reference which explains the substitution. Clever Evan.
  • 38a [Clue, for example] = BOARD UP. That’s not right. That’s not right at all. We have to go to 65a [Phrase that explains 38 Across] which is THE GAME IS UP. This was actually the clue that gave me the theme.
  • 63a [Sci-fi hero for Orson Card] = NEARER. Now we all know that should be ENDER. Sure enough, down at 117a, we have THE END IS NEAR.
  • 77a [In the wings, in the theater] = OFFSET and should clearly be OFFSTAGE. at 40a, we have THE STAGE IS SET.
  • 103a [Motor speedway, eg] = ON TRACK. 74a is THE RACE IS ON, which gives us RACETRACK.
  • 114a [Lose steam] = CAST DOWN. Up at 22a, we have THE DIE IS CAST so LOSE STEAM = DIE DOWN.

I don’t remember seeing this kind of theme before. I really like it. All the asterisked answers and all the explanatory phrases are solidly in the language. It felt a little like a treasure hunt with words and each time I found one, it made me happy. Fun fun fun.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Ingredient in a French dessert] fooled me. I had C as the first letter and confidently put in CREPE. I was almost right. It’s CREME.
  • 32a [Morning fare, perhaps] also threw me – I wanted OMELET and it turns out to be OATMEAL. I’d prefer an omelet, actually.
  • A pair of wizards at 45a and 41d, both clued [Wizard of fiction]. We have GANDALF crossing SNAPE, which I would pay to see.
  • We also have DUMDUMS crossing IDIOTS at 61a and 52d, respectively, both clued as [Dolts].
  • Shoutout to MAE Jemison at 93d, the first Black woman American astronaut. She’s also a doctor.

Excellent theme and solid fill with a minimum of crud. Thanks, Evan.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: That CAESAR SALAD is served with Worcestershire sauce. And I’ve eaten Caesar salad, too.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Lines From a Punfest” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 5/5/16 • "Lines From a Punfest" • Cox, Rathvon • hes, quigley, bg • solution

CRooked • 5/5/16 • “Lines From a Punfest” • Cox, Rathvon • hex, quigley, bg • solution

Pun themes in my opinion always need a caveat, some more than others. So, for the circumspect: set phasers to pun, and for the rash: just barge through the underbrush with you punderbuss. You’re welcome.

  • 24a. [“I took my camera to the cheese shop just to ___”] SHOOT THE BRIES.
  • 38a. [“Two clowns split; there was quite a ___”] CUSTARDY BATTLE.
  • 60a. [“Vultures travel light; they only need ___”] CARRION LUGGAGE.
  • 78a. [“I sold my old vacuum; it was just ___”] COLLECTING DUST.
  • 94a. [With 115 Across, how Picasso portrayed voters?] EYES TO THE RIGHT | NOSE TO THE LEFT.

Kind of a smorgasbord here. The first bunch are presented as fill-in-the-blank quotations, the final two are linked phrases. Some of them relate to food, all but one have humans as the subject, and so on. It’s scattershot, to keep the random weaponry metaphor going (for no good reason).

The biggest impediment during the rather swift solve was 117d [Algonquin wit] FPA. No signal for a monogram (Franklin Pierce Adams). Not a major impediment, just a curious hiccup, and I don’t feel the cross-referencing 75d [117 Down’s last name] ADAMS exonerates.

  • Boston reminders: 50d [Logan runways] TARMAC, 116d [Fenway’s Williams] TED. And just for fun, 1a [Stockpiled] AMASSED.
  • 100a [Lauding verse] ODE, 101a [Lauder of cosmetics] ESTÉE. 105a [Leonine blast] ROAR, 106a [Leon of letters] URIS. 67a [Pressing item] IRON, 68a [Waffling reply] MAYBE.
  • Dupey stuff: 113d [Gridiron gain] YARD, 67a IRON. 87d [Starting drive] TEE SHOT, themer 24-across.
  • Least favorite fill: 72d [Spinner in action] CYCLER, and the even worse 36d [Spaded freshly] REDUG. Wow, I just need to repeat that: spaded. freshly. redug.
  • “Prefix on …” meter, pod = CENTI-, TRI-. Collocation seems odd to my ear, though I’ll note that they’re both down clues (60d, 96d).
  • New vocabulary for me: 34d [Saddle horse for a lady] PALFREY. sayetharchaic : a saddle horse other than a warhorse; especially : a lady’s light easy-gaited horse. Middle English, from Anglo-French palefrei, from Medieval Latin palafredus, from Late Latin paraveredus post-horse for secondary roads, from Greek para- beside, subsidiary + Late Latin veredus post-horse, from a Gaulish word akin to Welsh gorwydd horse; akin to Old Irish réidid he rides — more at para-, ride. First Known Use: 13th century. I mean, obviously.The only other common English word ending in -frey that isn’t a proper noun is comfrey, and its ending has a very different etymology.
  • 91d [Rubber-topped hills?] MOUNDS. Not understanding this one. Oh wait, it’s baseball, isn’t it?

Brad Wilber’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.15.16

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 05.15.16

“I’m not going to be ignored, DAN (59: [“Fatal Attraction” husband])!!

That’s what I have in mind at the end of finishing today’s Sunday Challenge, brought to us by Mr. Brad Wilber. A whole lot of fun doing the grid, though the Northwest was the area that gave me the most trouble. Clearly was FAZED that I couldn’t get fazed immediately, which would have make some of the across entries up there easier (1D: [Nonplussed]). Also get annoyed when I get tripped up by misleads that refer to sports, and, even though I knew that one of the clues was referring to golf, I kept thinking PGA or LPGA for the entry that ended up being USGA (6D: [Org. handing down rules for clubs]). But, outside of untangling myself there, there’s was so much great fill and didn’t have too much trouble outside of that. Outside of thinking about Fatal Attraction, I’ll be thinking about the voice of Robin Leach after reading the clue for HIGH LIFE (39D: [State of “champagne wishes and caviar dreams”]). Oh, and how diplomatic is our constructor for not only having both LEFTISTS (28A: [Liberals]) and GOP in the grid, but both sharing the same line in the grid (31A: [Pol. affiliation of Teddy Roosevelt])?! Very smooth indeed. Vote Wilber 2016!!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: UCLA (41A: [Where Troy Aikman was a quarterback]) – Most people who are sports fans know that Troy Aikman was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of UCLA, but some forget that he started his collegiate career at the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately for Aikman, the triple-option offense being run at Oklahoma under Barry Switzer wasn’t going to let Troy showcase his talent of throwing the ball too much (or at all).

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

Take care!


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10 Responses to Sunday, May 15, 2016

  1. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Amusing puns. I wonder if anyone else remembers that 46a is an old Johnny Carson joke. — What is the theme song of the Eel Breeders’ Association? That’s a moray.

  2. Martin says:

    Actually, “That’s a moray” is, or was an oft-used crossword clue for EEL. I dunno about its frequently of usage now, though (since I’m not at home near my PC to check).

    Anyway, nice Sunday puz :)


    • ArtLvr says:

      “A randy young guppy from Norway
      Got drawn to a gal on a foray:
      His mother said “Son,
      She’s just not the one.”
      He sighed “But Ma, that’s a moray.”

  3. Michael says:

    I wonder how long this puzzle sat in Will’s “accepted” queue. A very similar theme appeared in a Sunday NYT 5.5 years ago (11/7/10 by Will Nediger) and I find it hard to believe a constructor of PB’s caliber (or anyone with access to the NYT puzzle database, for that matter) would undertake a daunting task of constructing a Sunday puzzle without checking the database for recent theme similarities first. Or maybe I’m just getting old and 5 years feels pretty recent to me. Sigh. Fun and solid theme, though.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: this cracked me up… I usually shrug at puns, but these did seem funny. For some reason, my favorite was “You can’t win a mall”… maybe because some people go shopping as if they do want the whole darn mall.
    I think of Patrick Berry as being an awesome constructor of themeless puzzles, so seeing his sense of humor is an unexpected treat.

  5. jim hale says:

    GEudora wasn’t known to me as I had stopped watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special before she was introduced. All in all an enjoyable Sunday puzzle.

  6. Norm says:

    WaPo was devilish! Finished the damn thing with no idea what was going on and then went back to look at the cross-references, and 63A/117A finally made sense. Then the others did as well. Brilliant. Frustrating as hell, but wonderful. Thanks for a great Sunday morning, Evan.

  7. Thanks, Jenni and Norm.

    I have to admit I was pretty excited about today’s puzzle. I was aiming for tough, but hopefully a good a-ha moment once you see what’s going on. Plus it gave me the chance to go all Indiana Jones on the clue for 96D.

    • marciem says:

      I have to pop in and say thanks… this was the funnest puzzle in a long time, and definitely the funnest one this weekend. And it was tough until the theme became clear… but that took a while for me! After that, a pure treasure hunt, for real treasures IMO.

      And lovely fill too.

      Thanks, Evan!

    • willard says:

      Letting you know that the three star rating I gave you was mistaken. Maybe the webmaster can correct that.

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