Friday, June 17, 2016

CS tk (Ade) 


LAT 6:12 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:31 (Amy) 


It’s an off week for the CHE.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 17 16, no 0617

NY Times crossword solution, 6 17 16, no 0617

Hey! Zhouqin, is this your first published themeless? Good to see you join the ranks of freestyle constructors with this 70-worder.


I can’t say I was really aware there was an ESPN RADIO, so I had to lean on the crossings for the last 5 letters of the [Longtime “Mike & Mike” airer].

Idiom I’ve never heard before: 30a. [Like ___ of corn (really easy)], A CAN. [Open up ___ of worms] would perhaps be too easy for a Friday puzzle … but am I the only one who was mystified by this? Apparently it has baseball usage.

Five more things:

  • 57a. [Halves of twinsets], CARDIGANS. The other halves are simple sweaters, typically short-sleeved, with both halves often a fine-gauge cotton knit.
  • 61a. [One with eye patches], PANDA. Had to get all the way to the bottom of the puzzle for a Chinese grace note!
  • 39d. [Person, e.g.], PRIMATE. I like the broadness of the answer here.
  • 10d. [Actress Polo and others], TERIS. Plural name goes in the debit column.
  • 12d. [Project Gutenberg job], BOOK SCAN. Project Gutenberg uses OCR scanning to digitize old books. I don’t know if they still have a volunteer corps proofing the texts online, but I did a little of that back in the day. The phrase seems contrived as clued, though. Don’t avid readers (which account for a lot of avid Friday crossworders) who eyeball the best-seller lists know of Nielsen’s BookScan, which tracks unit sales of books?

14d. [Home to the Royal Opera House] clues London’s WEST END. I can’t say I know the Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” but I know that Martin Ashwood-Smith is a huge PSB fan, so here’s the song’s video. No idea what it’s about—I can’t make out the lyrics. Enjoy!

3.85 stars from me.

James Sajdak’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160617

LA Times

I think themes like this are more common in the NYT? It’s a kind of rebus, in the general sense, if not the crossword one. Four phrases are stacked as pairs of horizontal answer, in reverse order. All of the phrases are arranged counterintuitively – BOTTOMSUP: THROWS(under)THEBUS, GETS(under)FOOT, LIES(under)FOOT, PLACES(under)ARREST. Elegant little theme, tied together with an excellent revealer…

Speaking of which, I’m sure most of you already have this earworm grating in your minds, but to make sure we’re all in it together…

All four theme pairs are in “big” corners, partly because of the nine letter revealer. This means the fill around the theme is under a lot of strain. Things are held togethe pretty well considering, except perhaps the top left, where EINE/AGHA/LAI/ETTA is quite a stack of convenience!


  • [Shred of evidence?], DNA. Loose, though flavourful clue.
  • [RV Chain], KOA. The poor Hawaiian acacia gets surprisingly little crossword love!
  • [String next to E], FGH. Answer-type that must die! Cute clues only make it grate more!
  • [Former NHL defenseman Krupp], UWE. More familiar with schlock director Boll…
  • [Break on “Downton Abbey”], TAKETEA. My path was ADVERTS/HIGHTEA…

4 Stars

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19 Responses to Friday, June 17, 2016

  1. Martin says:

    First a challenging and ultimately fun solve from CC. And of course always good to see a change from the usual male-dominated NYT Friday/Saturdays! (Says this male!)

    If you’ll forgive me Amy for the brief or not so brief! hi-jack:

    Amy… coincidentally, the Pet Shop Boys are about to play a special 4 night residency at the Royal Opera House (scalped tickets are about $5,000 each at present, I’m serious) Very few non-classical groups ever get this honor. Although the PSB are rapidly gaining the reputation as major classical composers in the UK at present. The show is called “Inner Sanctum”.

    As for the meaning of West End Girls: it has to do with the clashes of the poorer London East End boys (with the “wrong” accents), meeting well-to-do upper class British “girls” out on the town in the exclusive and posh West End of London.

    It’s actually very political and socialist. (The PSB are both gay, left wing, ardent feminists, and very intelligent) As to the crypic reference to “The Finland Station”: it is a suble segue into communist politics:

    The line “from Lake Geneva to the Finland Station,” which refers to the train route taken by Lenin when he was smuggled by the Germans to Russia during the First World War, a pivotal event in the Russian Revolution.

    99% of their music has a surface meaning and a deeper often devastatingly serious one (especially AIDS). For this amongst other reasons, their work even at the lyrical level, is of great interest to any wordsmiths. Unfortunately some people dismiss them for their music genre or confuse them with “bubblegum-pop”.

    Their current single out next week, is based on the baroque composer Henry Purcell’s “Cold Song”. Although it is filmed in Dan Diego and has to to with the recidivism rate of minorities. It is heartbreaking. I challenge anyone not to be moved by this intense video:

    (Climbing off my soapbox… I hope you found my rant/post interesting rather than infuriating) Thanks for your tolerance Amy.


    • Gareth says:

      Wait, I thought only Neil was gay… (I admit I don’t tend to focus that close on the orientations of pop artists, even though I did a definitive “Out and Proud” playlist for the SongPop once. Can’t recall if they published it…)

  2. Steve Manion says:

    ESPN RADIO was an immediate gimme. Mike Greenberg (metrosexual Northwestern grad) and Mike Golic (former professional football lineman and Notre Dame grad) have an entertaining show that is IMO the best of the ESPN group of radio shows.

    The N was easy for me and the S significantly harder. Fun puzzle.


  3. Martin says:

    Mea culpa, mea culpa maxima:

    “Although it is filmed in Dan Diego…”

    Yes “Dan Diego” … a close friend and relative of “SAN DIEGO”

    Sheesh. Great spelling, MAS :(


  4. Zhouqin Burnikel says:


    This is my first NYT themeless. I’ve had a few with LAT. I continue to struggle with cluing (wish I had what Erik has). The large majority of the clues are Will’s. I used [Nielsen data for publishers] for BOOKSCAN.

    • lemonade714 says:

      C.C. you are too modest; knowing that English is not your first language I continue to be awed by your ability to make a grid that even the curmudgeon Rex Parker labels as clean. Congratulations on your first NYT Friday.

    • Shawn Pichette says:


      You certainly do not appear to struggle with cluing. You are one of only a few constructors with the personality that is distinctive to your puzzles. I can usually tell within the first two or three clues that I am doing a CC puzzle (I am not a constructor and am only a casual solver). Thank you for delivering great fill!

  5. David Halbstein says:

    For you it was ESPN Radio, for me it was Cardigan. Never heard of a twinset – thought it might be some bed thing or even a single kid.

  6. Howard B says:

    Nice job, Zhouqin! Just wanted to add that :).

  7. Martin says:

    A twin set was very common conservative women’s clothing from the 30s to 70s (even today). Often used in the expression “a twin set and pearls”. Usually dull grey colours and again often seen in BBC adaptions of Agatha Christie! And yes they were either matching cardigans, or matching cardigans and dresses. Very stereotypical middle class and upper-middle-class British clothing.


  8. Steve Price says:

    re: a can of corn… from Wikipedia:

    A high, easy-to-catch, fly ball hit to the outfield. The phrase is said to have originated in the nineteenth-century and relates to an old-time grocer’s method of getting canned goods down from a high shelf. Using a stick with a hook on the end, a grocer could tip a can so that it would fall for an easy catch into his apron. One theory for use of corn as the canned good in the phrase is that a can of corn was considered the easiest “catch” as corn was the best selling vegetable in the store and so was heavily stocked on the lowest shelves. Another theory is that the corn refers to the practice in the very early days of baseball of calling the outfield the “corn field”, especially in early amateur baseball where the outfield may have been a farm field.
    Frequently used by Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson. Bob Prince, Pittsburgh Pirates’ announcer, used a variation, ‘A #8 CAN OF GOLDEN BANTAM’.
    Also, a phrase used to refer to something that is not challenging. Informally, can of corn may be used as a phrase to describe mild excitement, personal acknowledgement or recognition of significance.

  9. Nene says:

    I enjoyed the dual mini themes.

    Mobile phones: NOKIA, Siri clue and WINDOWSPHONE.

    Sports: Ottawa Senators of the NHL, Arthur ASHE, TIM TEBOW, and ESPN RADIO.

  10. David L says:

    I found this pretty easy except for the NW. “Mike and Mike” is new to me and I was only dimly aware that there’s such as thing as ESPNRADIO. Also, can ‘utterly’ and STONECOLD be used as the same part of speech? I am utterly outraged by this terrible clue. I am stone cold outraged by this terrible clue. Doesn’t sound right to me…

    I put in ALASKA for the state with the most mountain ranges. Can it really be NEVADA? I drove through Nevada once, and after I came down from the Sierra Nevada it was all extremely flat and extremely boring. Well, not as flat and boring as Kansas, but still.

    • Gary R says:

      Regarding STONE COLD, the usage most familiar to me is in the context of sobriety: STONE COLD sober = utterly sober. So that works for me.

      I had a similar reaction to the mountain range clue. There is a Wikipedia entry for “List of mountain ranges in Nevada” which lists a ridiculous number of ranges in Nevada. Apparently, anyone with a bump in his/her backyard can get it named as a mountain range.

  11. pannonica says:

    NYT: On BOOK SCAN: Though generally in favor of citing the little guy as opposed to corporate behemoths, I feel Google’s Ngram project would be a better referent for this clue.

  12. Ben Smith says:

    Loved today’s puzzle from CC. After getting ESPN and having five blanks left, I assumed ESPN RADIO was probably a thing and was happy to find out I was correct.

    Other stuff I liked: WINDOWS PHONE (I was one of the few who breezed through the appearance of CORTANA at the ACPT since I’ve had it on my NOKIA phone for a few years), ATM INSIDE, BEET SALAD, and AMOEBA.

  13. David and Heather says:

    This one took both of us. I knew the baseball references and she knew the actors and other names. We liked ATM INSIDE, BEET SALAD, and many others, and the cluing was great. I was very surprised by the doubled use of PHONE, once in the clues and once in an answer. Was that a mistake?

    Great puzzle!

  14. Harry says:

    Gareth made one mistake in the LAT review. The correct answer was “lies under oath” instead of lies under foot. Great puzzle!

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