Sunday, July 31, 2016

CS 22:18 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley tk (pannonica) 


LAT 5:21 (Andy) 


NYT 8:53 (Ben) 


WaPo 11:23 (Jenni) 


Ruth Bloomfield Margolin’s New York Times crossword, “Make That a Double” — Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 31 16, "Make That a Double"

NY Times crossword solution, 7 31 16, “Make That a Double”

The theme answers—five Acrosses and four Downs that each contain two IT rebus squares, plus a KEEP {IT} TOGETHER revealer at the bottom, tie together with the “Make That a Double” title. There’s SW{IT}CH POS{IT}IONS, CRED{IT} OR DEB{IT}, IN{IT}IATION R{IT}E, L{IT}TLE WH{IT}E LIE, PATERN{IT}Y SU}IT, {IT}SY B{IT}SY SPIDER, F{IT}B{IT}S, N{IT}W{IT}S, and SECUR{IT}Y DEPOS{IT} are the rebus theme set. I like that each one that’s longer than 7 letters has its ITs in separate words. (Maybe the 7s are just random crossing fill for the long themers, but they do fit the theme concept.)

I was impressed not to find any extraneous non-rebused ITs in the grid … until 82d: ERI TU reared its head. It’s clunky fill anyway, so the inelegance wasn’t worth any payoff.

Favorite clue: the pedantic 90d. [“I wish I ___ [sic] homeward bound”: Paul Simon], WAS.

Chesty and carbonated and Q clues:

  • 69a. [Chest organs], THYMUSES (one chest has but one thymus) / 56d. [Something hard to get off your chest?], TATTOO.
  • 6d. [Carbonated drink], POP / 15d. [Carbonated drink], ALE / 23d. [Carbonated drink], SODA.
  • 71a. [Q neighbors], RST / 74a. [Q neighbor], TAB / 78a. [Q preceder, in song], SUSIE.

The fill overall felt a tad dry to me, and the rebus theme, once figured out, leaves the fun of wordplay behind. I like a Sunday theme that has pops of fresh mental challenge to work out as you progress through the puzzle. 3.4 stars from me.

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

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 07.31.16

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 07.31.16

Good morning, everybody! It’s my last day on this trip to Montréal, and I’m totally going to miss the great people and sites. Oh, and I’m also going to miss the comments from native French speakers directed to me saying that they think I speak good French…and have nailed their accent! Definitely a good feeling to hear that!

Speaking of good feelings, that’s definitely what I was feeling when solving today’s Sunday Challenge, brought to us by Mr. Brad Wilber. I always get to learn something new when doing a puzzle of Brad’s, especially one done for later in the weekend, and CELESTA definitely goes down as something I’ve learned for the first time today (1D: [“Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” keyboard instrument]). Also in that area of the grid was AVENUE Q, and that immediately made me think of the time last spring when I stayed in the house of Brian Cimmet (co-founder of Lollapuzzoola) at the same time he was putting together a Syracuse Stage production of Avenue Q (2D: [Broadway hit with salty-tongued puppet characters]). Oh, you need proof this happened? Well, the following day after I arrived in Syracuse, I walked around the Syracuse University campus and some of Brian’s students were promoting the play at the student center, and I happened to take a picture with “Lucy the Slut…”


Though I’m learning French with each and every passing day, knowing my Spanish made AQUILA (close to “aguila”) a pretty easy get for me (30A: [Constellation whose name means “eagle”]). Pretty slick clue to SISTER ACT, a movie that I always caught when channel surfing and feel like I’ve watched about 5-6 times (6A: [Movie with Whoopi Goldberg in black and white]). Got hung up towards the end of my solve when I thought “Octavio” seemed like the right name to put in, but OTTAVIO wouldn’t have anything of it (37D: [Tenor role in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”]). There’s the opera I was expecting…and the opera information that I knew I needed the crossings to completely figure out. I’m no Oscars expert, but I’m pretty sure The Artist was the lone holdout in terms of the clue to RATED R (32D: [Like 10 of the last 11 Best Picture Oscar winners]). Looking up………yes, that’s indeed the case. Fun solve all around, and even more so because of what’s detailed in the next graph…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GOLDEN SET (60A: [It contains exactly 24 point, all won by the same tennis player]) – The second I saw Brad’s accompanying note to this puzzle in the email, I already had an entry correct before even opening the grid! (Thank you, Brad!) In the third round of Wimbledon in 2012, Yaroslava Shvedova won all 24 points in the first set in her match against Sara Errani, pulling off what is called a GOLDEN SET. In other words, Shvedova won all of her three of her service games at love (did not drop a point while serving) while also breaking Errani’s three service games at love. Shvedova, who was a wild card entry into that tournament, won the match against the tenth-seeded Errani 6-0, 6-4.

Have a great rest of your Sunday, everybody!

Take care!


Jake Braun’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Art Nouveau”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 7.31.16, "Art Nouveau," by Jake Braun

LAT Puzzle 7.31.16, “Art Nouveau,” by Jake Braun

Where once there was no ART, there is now ART. The themers all have the word ART hung with care inside them. Thou ART artful now! Themers:

  • 23a, MIND BARTENDING [Prefer not to serve the drinks?]. Mind-bending.
  • 39a, MARTINI SKIRT [Apt wear when drinking gin cocktails?]. Miniskirt. One of the two theme answers that are identical to a 2002 NYT puzzle by Nelson Hardy with the same theme. If there’s a statute of limitations on avoiding such similarities, it’s certainly run by now, but two identical themers is hard to overlook, even with a theme like this one that’s fairly restrictive. This kind of duplication can usually be avoided through due diligence.
  • 43a, RESTART ROOM [Special area for booting up again?]. Restroom.
  • 82a, BEACH TARTAN [Garb for the Scottish seaside?]. Beach tan. Is “beach tan” a phrase? My vote is no.
  • 99a, APPLE PARTIES [iPad owners’ gatherings?]. Apple pies.
  • 119a, DIRTY OLD MARTEN [Lewd weasel relative?]. Dirty old men.
  • 16d, ANIMATION CARTEL [Group that controls film cartoons?]. Animation cel. “Animation” is often, but I guess not always, implied by “cel.” This is the second themer that was also in the 2002 NYT puzzle.
  • 47d, CARTON TEMPLATES [Patterns for moving supplies?]. Contemplates.

It’s an okay theme. Some of the themers are fine, and some are clunkers. Here’s the thing that really nags at me about this puzzle, though. Both this puzzle and the 2002 NYT have 7 themers each, 2 of which are identical, and four of the other five sharing the +ART word (in the 2002 puzzle, we had CARTON QUEST instead of CARTON TEMPLATES; FENDER BARTENDER instead of MIND BARTENDING; TARTAN LINE instead of BEACH TARTAN; and MUD PARTIES instead of APPLE PARTIES). Like I said above, it’s a restrictive theme, which means it’s likely that good constructors thinking independently of each other would come up with most of the same “best” candidates. It’s my opinion, though, that if you know about the original puzzle and can’t tread some new ground with the same concept, it’s best not to do puzzle #2.

There’s a bit of good ballast fill in here, notably NU JAZZ in the top row. I also liked EPHRON, SIBILANT, AMBIEN, NBA TV, and PAPYRI. Only a few entries stood out as less than ideal: AFTON, I BE, -EROO.

PARTing is such sweet sorrow… Until next time!

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Appending Letters” – Jenni’s writeup

Very quickly because this is late, I’m in an airport, and I’m blogging from my iPad…

Today we take well-known phrases and change the ending to match the name of an app. The new, somwhat wacky, phrase is appropriately clued.

  • image23a [Sightless music-streaming app?] = BLIND SPOTIFY (blind spot)
  • 29a [“I see now. You mean that app that doesn’t let you see the picture for very long?] = OH SNAPCHAT (oh, snap)
  • 38a [App for making a reservation at a Nice restaurant, say?] = FRENCH OPEN TABLE (French Open)
  • 60a [Show appreciation for a video-sharing app?] = THANK YOUTUBE (thank you)
  • 71a [Longing for a networking app?] = MISSING LINKED-IN (missing link)
  • 85a [Dangerous purchasing app?] = HAZARD PAYPAL (hazard pay)
  • 105a [Completely drain a movie-ticketing app?] = EXHAUST FANDANGO (exhaust fan)
  • 112a [Look over a mobile-payment app?] = EYE LEVEL UP (eye level)
  • 124a [Video-streaming app with no available videos?] = EMPTY NETFLIX (empty net)

I’d like it better if the cluing were more consistent – sometimes they’re new apps (38a) and sometimes they’re actions related to the app (112a)

What I didn’t know before I did this crossword: never heard of “Level up.”

Off to the gate!

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10 Responses to Sunday, July 31, 2016

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    Thought NYT was OK. Can’t imagine Scottish solvers will be pleased by the cluing of STUARTS, though.

    • Norm says:

      Why not? James I of England was a Stuart, as were the next four or five, so the Stuarts are one of many English royal families. In fact, I believe the current royals are technically Stuarts as well, although you have to jump sideways (cousins) at one point.

      • Christopher Smith says:

        The Stuart reign over Scotland predates England by a few hundred years & both the Tudor reign & the Commonweath era represented a repudiation of sorts for the Stuarts. The history is more benign after the Restoration, as you note, but I’d hesitate to walk into a pub in, say, Glasgow & refer to the Stuarts as “English.”

        • Norm says:

          I doubt you’d get nearly as much grief as opposed to walking in wearing a Rangers jersey. :)

  2. JohnH says:

    I’d mixed feelings. I like rebus puzzles, so the theme worked for me. Still, I just wasn’t getting a hold on the fill at all. For once, I guessed the theme with almost nothing filled in, really just from the ORD in CREDIT OR DEBIT, and used the long entries for footholds.

    Not sure why. There are plenty of things I’d never expect to know, like women’s b-ball, home of the Cyclones, Actor Bremmer, romance writing awards, Soledad, and more. NER especially seemed needlessly obscure, and I’m Jewish. COLD COCK was new to me, too (where I first tried “conk”). There was also the arch tone of many a clue, which ought to work but maybe just wasn’t my sense of humor. “Something to get off your chest” could stand for almost anything. I’ve got a running beef as well with clues like “Beat it,” where “it” is the sense of the entry. Finally, I’d never place the THYMUS in one’s chest. It’s at the base of the neck, no?

  3. Karen says:

    Some of the theme clues Andy talks about were different from some of theme clues in the LAT print edition.

  4. Greg says:

    Decent, but a surprise to see in the same puzzle both the (as Amy put it) pedantic “sic” for the Homeward Bound lyric and the nasty “ice tea,” clued with no hint as to its still non- standard usage.

Comments are closed.