Wednesday, June 8, 2016

CS untimed (Ade) 


LAT 6:04 (Gareth) 


NYT 6:17 (Erin) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Today’s AV Club puzzle has a chance to win a cool prize after solving the puzzle. Our writeup will be posted once the deadline for submission has closed.

Sean Dobbin’s New York Times crossword—Erin’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 8 16, no 0608

NY Times crossword solution, 6 8 16, no 0608

We’re back with a punny Wednesday NYT, in which constructor Sean Dobbin incorporates actors’ names into common “___ING ___” phrases:

  • 17a. Military vehicle for actor William? HOLDEN TANK (HOLDIN’ TANK)
  • 24a. Makeup for actor Kevin? BACON POWDER (BAKING POWDER),
  • 36a. Footwear for actor Ted? DANSON SHOES (DANCING SHOES)
  • 47a. Cudgel for actor Christopher? WALKEN STICK (WALKING STICK)
  • 57a. Equipment for actor Michael? LANDON GEAR (LANDING GEAR)

It’s a solid theme with good base phrases. I get a feeling of déjà vu from it, as if I have encountered a similar theme before, but I can’t think of a specific puzzle with the same theme mechanism. It would be nice to have at least one woman in there though, such as (Dolly) PARTON WORDS.

The dearth of women and people of color in the grid is my main gripe with this puzzle, actually. The fill is fantastic: UMPTEEN, CRATERS, SOLACE, A LA MODE…all great stuff. PASHA is new to me but I could figure it out from crossings. Nothing here makes me cringe. But it’s overwhelmingly male, with BUCKO, EHUD Barak, MENS, TONTO, as well as the five theme entries. On the female side, we have cartoon character EDNA Krabappel, ELA, and Carly Fiorina in the clue for CEO (which people would remember from the past several months, but whose time as CEO is looked upon with mixed reviews at best). As for people of color, there really are none, unless one counts Native American stereotype TONTO. It’s frustrating. This is a well-crafted puzzle, but I feel like over half the population was not kept in mind when it was constructed and edited.

Again, this crossword is very well done. I just wish many people could feel better represented in it while solving it.

To end on a happier note, here is the Christopher Walken “More Cowbell” sketch from Saturday Night Live.

David J. Kahn’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Notes From the Chairman” — Jim’s review

Tribute puzzle to Ol’ Blue EYES, aka The Chairman of the Board, aka FRANK SINATRA (which crosses serendipitously in the very center of the grid—nice touch!). Every theme answer is a song title clued as something else.

WSJ - Wed, 6.8.16 - "Notes From the Chairman" by David J. Kahn

WSJ – Wed, 6.8.16 – “Notes From the Chairman” by David J. Kahn

  • 18a [*Rationalizer’s comment] THAT’S LIFE
  • 20a [*Clairol brand since 1965] NICE ‘N’ EASY
  • 53a [*Unconditionally] ALL THE WAY. We would also accept [One way to go].
  • 57a [*What an idealistic person has] HIGH HOPES
  • 3d [*It’s spellbinding] WITCHCRAFT
  • 29d [*Seasonal weather phenomenon] SUMMER WIND

This puzzle is unashamedly aimed at an older audience, older than me anyway, and I’m in my 40s. Without looking any of the songs up, I recognize three of them off the bat (THAT’S LIFE, ALL THE WAY, and HIGH HOPES). But the other three…nope. Somehow I must know WITCHCRAFT, because I got it off the I, but I couldn’t tell you how it goes.

Okay, I’ve looked them all up and I do recognize two more, but not NICE ‘N’ EASY. Don’t know that one at all.

Yet none of his arguably bigger hits are in the grid.  There’s no “My Way,” “Strangers in the Night,” “Theme From New York, New York,” “Chicago,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” or “Come Fly With Me.” Obviously some of those can’t fit at all, but it seems odd to have a tribute puzzle to SINATRA without “My Way” at least, his signature tune (which could be colorfully clued as the partial [“It’s ___ or the highway!”]). There’s enough material for a Saturday-sized puzzle (though I think a weekday-size is plenty big for a tribute puzzle).

So, while I’m not necessarily the biggest SINATRA fan and didn’t relish the idea of coming up with song titles I didn’t know, I’m certainly not opposed to a SINATRA puzzle, and I can admire the grid for its construction.

If you count the FRANK SINATRA crossing as another theme entry, there are a whopping seven full-sized themers in the grid. That’s really impressive, especially given that there are a couple 8-letter fill words (FROWNS AT and ASTERISK) and a handful of 7-letters (STREAKS, SONNETS, MALIGNS, TEE SHOT, ABRAHAM, and ALIENOR).

With all those themers and the long fill, you’d think the rest of the grid would be overstretched. Yes, there are some harder-than-usual proper names: MOHS, HURST, and especially 62a [NBA star ___ Ellis]. My first thought was MOLTA crossing SUMMER WILD which seemed plausible, but I caught myself and changed it to MONTA. But that’s really as bad as it gets. Given the constraints, the grid is remarkably well-filled.

My favorite fill, though, has to be F. Murray ABRAHAM clued as [“Amadeus” Oscar winner]. Nothing more need be said than this:

Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Lets Go” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.08.16: "Lets Go"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.08.16: “Lets Go”

Good day, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol, definitely did not let up in terms of having a good time solving the grid, but it did take me until after I solved the grid to figure out what was going on. In her puzzle, each of the five theme entries is a pun created by dropping the consecutive letters “LET” from a common phrase.

  • PAINTER’S PATE (20A: [Spot for a beret?]) – Painter’s palette.
  • HEROIC COUP (30A: [Daring takeover?]) – Heroic couplet.
  • VA PARKING (38A: [Lot for a November parade?]) – Valet parking.
  • ILLEGAL SUB (50A: [Unlicensed classroom temp?]) – Illegal sublet.
  • RUSSIAN ROUTE (59A: [Way over the Urals?]) – Russian Roulette.

Again, I gained even more of an appreciation for the grid when finally realizing the gimmick. Although far from having a Yiddish background, I definitely catch myself saying OY VEY a whole lot (46A: [Yiddish “Yikes!”]). I haven’t seen BPOE as fill as much as I had seen it when first doing crosswords a decade ago, which tells me that this fill is probably going/has gone the way of the dinosaur (19A: [Letters often seen under antlers]). And it just so happens that I talk about the Elks while I’m in Chicago, where its headquarters is located. Should I make a run to see the building before flying out tomorrow? Hmm, probably not. Maybe next time. If you have a court date coming sometime soon, this grid is for you, with both EN BANC (10D: [Court term that’s French for “on a bench”]) and ALL RISE featuring (43D: [Order in the court]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PEARL (17A: [Gift from an oyster]) – One of the most influential college basketball players in the 1980s passed away a few months ago, as New York City native and Syracuse University basketball legend Dwayne “PEARL” Washington passed away on April 20 due to a malignant tumor in his brain. The flair that the 1985 second team All-American brought to the court while at Syracuse helped plant the Big East Conference in the national sports consciousness and ESPN, which started televising Big East basketball games regularly in the ’80s, as the go-to place for watching the best college basketball in the country. Washington was drafted 13th overall in the 1986 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets.

Thank you once again for your time, and I hope you have a great Wednesday! See you tomorrow!

Take care!


C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160608

LA Times

Brain not functioning too well at the moment. Spent about two minutes trying to unravel the bottom left. Should have looked at the rest of the theme. PTAMEETI?? looked like giberish. PITACHIPS seemed only vaguely plausible. I thought that I must have made some big mistakes. Turns out that, although only one letter is circled, the ones on either side are also thematic. PTA is spelt out in ADOPTAROAD/UPTAKE, SHRIMPTACO/POPTARTS, and PEPTALK/KEEPTABSON.

The theme was dense and had some interesting choices. The grid was well-constructed given the constraints. POPTARTS has a mini-thematic partner in LEGGO. The one wobbly moment was GSA/STEPA. STEPA alone stinks to high heaven…

3.75 Stars
Gareth, who feels obliged to leave you with this!

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17 Responses to Wednesday, June 8, 2016

  1. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Erin, thanks for your remarks on the fairly pervasive underrepresentation of women and people of color in crossword grids. When the constructor is a woman or a person of color, I do often notice more inclusion in the entries and clues, and I appreciate it.

    Ade and I had a three-hour lunch conversation today. He told me that he strives to include women in every A Lot of Sports Talk podcast he does (whether as the interview subject, as in the latest episode featuring Indy 500 driver Lyn St. James, or as his cohost). I’m proud of Ade for his commitment to being inclusive. We need so much more of this in so many arenas.

  2. austin says:

    five themers comprised of white dudes was especially glaring, on this of all nights.

  3. sbmanion says:

    In what area do people of color dominate? Answer: sports. The inclusion in crossword puzzles of people from what area draws more criticism than any other? Answer: sports.

    The line of thinking discussed above strikes me as simply wrong.


    • Ben says:


      If by dominate you mean have a lot of jobs and/or produce a great deal of the recognized output in a field, you would want to add (and I’m generally restricting the purview to the US, since that’s where the term “people of color” has most purchase) music, where the charts since becoming de facto desegregated have been disproportionately black and Hispanic. Classical music and jazz are both quite diverse.

      You’d also want to add television and film, and fiction. Certainly political activism. Our president is black. Medicine and STEM fields employ many people of color, and quite a few recognizable public intellectuals among them.

      Although every institution and field has its issues with race, and can strive to do better, it’s actually pretty challenging to think of an area where people of color simply aren’t present.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Big difference between “present” and “present in numbers commensurate with their percentage of the population and not subject to additional hassles and roadblocks that white people don’t face.”

      • sbmanion says:

        I was going to add Classical Music: good. Hip Hop: bad. Not in the sense that the music itself is bad, but with the exception of a few crosswordese artists like Dr. Dre, the presence in a crossword puzzle of a hip hop artist such as Jaheim would be criticized.

        Even well known black athletes are not recognized by a large percentage of the crossword solving public: _____ Durant,
        _____ Paul. In some of the other areas that you describe, the prominent blacks are known by very few and probably even fewer in the crossword universe.

        Many solvers don’t like names at all. To strive to be more inclusive for me is putting a political agenda ahead of the fundamental purpose of a crossword puzzle: enjoyment.


        • e.a. says:

          To strive to be more inclusive for me is putting a political agenda ahead of the fundamental purpose of a crossword puzzle: enjoyment.

          this would make sense if inclusion were just some hollow “PC” buzzword. it’s not. inclusion serves enjoyment – by allowing more people to see themselves, their culture, their world reflected in the puzzle. it’s easy to see inclusion as an obstacle to enjoyment when you’re part of the audience that already has that enjoyment.

          and having five of the five names in your name-based theme be white men most certainly advances a political agenda, however unconsciously. it says: these names are worth knowing. the people who know these names are worth catering to. and, conspicuously, it fails to extend that same consideration to the names not in the theme, and to the groups represented thereby.

          (btw, i’ve never heard of HOLDEN or LANDON, but i have heard of PARTON – nice find, erin.)

  4. Jim Hale says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle and was particularly appreciative of actually knowing the actors/celebs. Nice change-up from yesterday.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    I got a kick out of the Sinatra puzzle!

  6. David Halbstein says:

    I just wondered whether or not Sean Dobbin or Will Shortz have been to Rochester lately. What we have here is a lot of EX Kodak employees. In fact (as a Rochesterian) my first instinct was to answer 48D with “XEROX” (but only because “Bausch and Lomb” didn’t fit).

  7. John says:

    The Perpetually Offended know no bounds.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      And your contingent never fails to take tiresome umbrage at other people expecting a fair shake. How brave of you to obscure your identity in commenting, as well.

  8. Gary R says:

    I like Erin’s Dolly Parton idea, but as for working additional women or persons of color into theme answers, it seems to me that it’s a pretty limited set of names that might work.

    On the other hand, with just a little re-cluing, we could have had a column of women in the middle of the grid, with best-selling author Amy TAN, Edie Falco’s Emmy-winning NURSE Jackie, and Grammy-winning INDIA Arie. (Also gets you an Asian-American and an African-American.)

  9. Sukabu says:

    PSA: Apologies if this is out of place in this forum, but this tip may save someone else’s sanity, as it has mine. For die-hard ink-on-paper solvers without access to a printer and/or paper (it happens): don’t despair, use stylus-on-glass. How to with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil: open the puzzle image in PDF or Across Lite, take screen shot (simultaneous home button plus power button, which sends the image to your photos). Open Notability app, create new note, insert the image (“+” / media / Photo / all photos / (your puzzle image is most recent)). Resize. Choose your ink color & nib size with the pencil icon. Solve in your own handwriting. Ignore the erase option! Pinch/open to enlarge and enter rebus legibly. Take another screen shot to share. Improvise if you have another tablet/stylus. Now you can solve PDF’s on your tablet. You’re welcome.

  10. Dannie says:

    Thanks intended for providing like amazing data.

Comments are closed.