Sunday, August 21, 2016

CS 10:05 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 9:07 (Jenni) 


NYT 8:42 (Amy) 


WaPo 8:34 (Jenni) 


Kathy Matheson & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword, “Wonder-Ful”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 21 16, "Wonder-Ful!"

NY Times crossword solution, 8 21 16, “Wonder-Ful!”

The NATIONAL PARK SERVICE is 80a. [Federal agency established on August 25, 1916], so it marks its centennial next week. Two parks appear in the grid: Centered YELLOWSTONE is up north in Wyoming (envision the grid as the western half of the United States), with OLD FAITHFUL spurting upwards in circled/shaded squares. YOSEMITE is further west and south in California, and HALF DOME juts out of it in a half-dome shape. DENALI is a mountain peak in the grid’s far northwest/Alaska corner. ARCHES National Park arches in the Utah zone, and the GRAND CANYON carves out space down south in Arizona. Nice visualization of some of the parks and natural landmarks out west! U.S. MAP is even in the grid, but clued as 89a. [Election night graphic, for short]; that’s fine, since the crossword’s map doesn’t go even as far east as the Badlands.

My son and some ginormous trees at Sequoia National Park, 8/16/16

My son and some ginormous trees at Sequoia National Park, 8/16/16

Ten more things:

  • 16a. [Ring around a classical column], ANNULET. Inferrable annul- root, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this exact word. Not great fill with the AUS and SEI crossings, but the triply checked DENALI letters limit the constructor’s options here.
  • 17d. [Wire message], TELEX. At the publishing job I started in 1989, there was a telex printer. I think it got about one message a year.
  • 49d. [Like the name Nguyen in Vietnam], COMMON. Love the clue!
  • 48d. [Indoor plants popular in waiting rooms], LADY PALMS. I had to piece this together via crossings. I’m usually good with the plant and tree clues, but I’ve not encountered this term before.
  • 23a. [Passionate kiss], LIP LOCK. Great answer. See also: HOLY COW, “BE STRONG,” VEGAN DIET and PALEO cross-referenced to it, the MET GALA, and RESPLENDENT.
  • 55d. [Feature of the Six Million Dollar Man], BIONIC EYE. The Bionic Woman had a bionic ear rather than eye. Man, I would kill for a bionic ear. Also looking forward to the development of the bionic kidney.
  • 33d. [Dog created by Jim Davis], ODIE. I had the first three letters in place and was about to fill in ODIN before I read the clue. In a tournament situation, that sort of thing is deadly. Check your crossings, read your clues!
  • 102a. [Subatomic particle named for the weak force], W BOSON. You don’t see many crossword answers with the WB**** pattern.
  • 116a. [Light and breezy entertainment, informally], MIND CANDY. Huh? I may have heard “brain candy,” but MIND CANDY doesn’t ring a bell.
  • 14d. [Henry W. ___, Union major general during the Civil War], SLOCUM. Didn’t know this name, either.

Four stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Thanks, Captain Obvious! Part II”—Jenni’s write-up

I have learned to look for the puzzle notes to make sure I don’t miss a meta, and this puzzle has a note. More on that later.

Captain Obvious has returned! I love Captain Obvious. He cracks me up. I think the theme is, well, obvious.

  • 23a [ “___, that info will be unfamiliar”] = BEFORE YOU KNOW IT

    Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 7.06.52 PM

    WP 8/21 puzzle, solution grid

  • 40a [ “___, everything we tried previously didn’t work”] = IF ALL ELSE FAILS
  • 48a [ “___, and you’ll have edited the essay I sent you”] = MARK MY WORDS
  • 68a [ “___, which you can see with that graffiti”] = THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL
  • 98a [ “___, there are fingers just like with that opposite body part”] = ON THE OTHER HAND
  • 117a [ “___, and we can have a conversation about Satan”] = SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

I solved the puzzle, and then looked at the note, wondering what the meta was. This is what I found: ” NOTE: Captain Obvious first appeared in the Post Magazine puzzle on March 6. He’s back for a sequel, obviously.” Cute. Very cute. I liked Captain Obvious on his first visit and I like him again.

A few other things:

  • I don’t play SPORCLE (10d) as often as Amy does, but I enjoy it. Nice to see it here.
  • I’m not happy with the clue for 13d, PETA. Sure, [Vivisection-fighting grp.] is accurate, if quaint. It also ignores PETA’s execrable habit of using women as objects in the advertising. Not cool.
  • 37d [Magazine insert?] is AMMO. Oh, *that* kind of magazine.
  • Sports references: AWAY TEAM, ESPN, Wade BOGGS, [0, at Wembley Stadium] for NIL and [Olympian’s weapon] for EPEE. Did I miss any?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that DEON Wilson existed. OK, then.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Coaching Logic” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 8/21/16 • "Coaching Logic • Cox, Rathvon • solution

CRooked • 8/21/16 • “Coaching Logic • Cox, Rathvon • solution

It’s a quotey-thing!

  • 27a/54a. [… a baseball coach’s comment] IT COULD JUST AS EASILY | HAVE GONE THE OTHER WAY.
  • 70a/97a. [… speaker and circumstance of the comment] DON ZIMMER ON HIS TEAM’S | RECORD OF FOUR AND FOUR.

I was genuinely amused. There’s an undeniable Berra-esque resonance, and as with the best Yogisms a measure of zany truth lurks within.

  • 72d [Sitcom equine] MR ED, 94a [Stable newborns] FOALS, 60d [Mother wit] HORSE SENSE.
  • 14d [Occupies or binds] TIES UP, 83d [Incubator or moper] BROODER.
  • 63d [Hole-boring tool] TREPAN, 25a [Some skull shapes] DOMES. [editorial note: Decided not to include a demonstrative image here, realizing it might be upsetting for some readers.]
  • 93a [Will be, to Doris Day] SERA.
  • 4d [Run off and hide] ABSCOND—that’s a fun word. 26a [Form into an arch] EMBOW—that’s an archaic-seeming word. 67a [Be a beefer] GRIPE—”beefer” is a word?
  • 65a [Allman Brothers’ “__ a Peach”] EAT A. They were a prufrock band, obviously. Sorry.
  • 59a [What to do with a fitting shoe?] WEAR IT. Hey, if the clue works …

Quote themes aren’t the most mercurial, but a well-constructed crossword like this is a welcome and engaging Sunday distraction.

Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Company’s Coming” – Jenni’s write-up

Good morning! I’m pinch-hitting for Andy today. I usually enjoy Gail Grabowski’s puzzles, and today is no exception. She adds CO to common phrases (the “company” of the title) and clues them accordingly.

  • 23a [Nickel that’s worth big bucks?] = MAJOR COIN (major in)

    Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 11.48.36 AM

    LAT 8/21 crossword, solution grid

  • 25a [Eco-friendly lighthouse?] = GREEN BEACON (green bean)
  • 47a [Rearrangement of suitcase contents?] = SECOND PACKING (send packing)
  • 71a [Ideal takeover?] = DREAM COUP (dream up)
  • 97a [Burlesque stand-up act?] = COMEDIAN STRIP (median strip)
  • 121a [Where fowl spies meet?] = COVERT COOPS (covert ops)
  • 125a [Parka with different sleeve lengths?] = COAT ISSUE (at issue)
  • 41d [Abs trainers?] = TUMMY COACHES (tummy aches)
  • 36d  [Sign of breakfast burning?] = SMOKING BACON (smoking ban)

I could have done without 4d [Environment-friendly carrier] for two reasons. ECOBUS is a roll-your-own; I’ve never heard it or read it anywhere. It also dupes ECO in the clue for 25a, which is a theme answer. And “smoking ban” is somewhat stilted, although I’ve heard it. Those are my only quibbles, which makes this a very good puzzle with a funny, accessible and lively theme.

A few other things:

  • 9d [Aid for dealing with pea soup] stumped me for a while. It’s FOG LAMP. Nice.
  • 32d [Hardy work] fouled me up. I entered TESS. Turns out it’s POEM.
  • 76d [Many a signature] was obvious. It’s SCRAWL. Guilty as charged. Occupational hazard.
  • Am I the only one who thinks of Sophia Petrillo every time I see the [Capital of Sicily,] PALERMO?
  • Swedish shoutouts! [Swedish import] for SAAB at 61d, [“Unböring” furniture chain] for IKEA at 43d and [“The Swedish Nightingale” Jenny] LIND next door at 44d.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Pic Sans Nom is an ALPE.

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

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 08.21.16

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 08.21.16

Hello there, everyone! How are you on this day that the Olympics come to an end?

Today’s Challenge was brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld and it turned out to be my fastest Sunday Challenge solve yet. However, I’m also upset that I couldn’t get under 10 minutes on this one, so now I have a new goal for Sunday Challenges. Well, as you all probably experienced, there was absolutely no hangups in the grid, no matter if you’re a seasoned pro at crossword solving or if you’re more of a NOVICE (42D: [Tyro]). Four 15-letter entries in the grid, and all of those went down pretty quickly and without needing too many crossings at all. I’ve studied both French and Italian, so seeing VRAI (51A: [True, to Thérèse]) and IERI were layups as well (36A: [Yesterday, in Roma]). Though I’m not fan of IS BUT in the grid as fill, the quote referenced in the clue is pretty cool (48A: [“From the sublime to the ridiculous _____ a step” (Napoléon Bonaparte)]). Easy solve, with allows you to get on with the rest of your Sunday plans.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DURHAM (37A: [Duke locale]) – A few of my friends who went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill like to call Duke University “that school from DURHAM.” The head coach of Duke’s men’s basketball team, Mike Krzyzewski, just led the U.S. men’s basketball team to gold in Rio with a 30-point win over Serbia earlier today. USA! USA! USA!

Have a great rest of your Sunday, everybody!

Take care!


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15 Responses to Sunday, August 21, 2016

  1. jim hale says:

    Liked this puzzle a lot. As a frequent visitor of our national parks it’s good to be reminded that they’re out there. Kind of a nit but I didn’t like the answer to “high powered guns” yielding “uzi”. The uzi comes in 9mm (mostly) or 45 caliber, neither is really considered “high powered”.

  2. huda says:

    Yeah, great puzzle. Smooth, went down easily, had a nice visual element, and felt very timely to me at the end of a road trip.
    Every time we do one of these, I am impressed again by how beautiful and bountiful this country is–the parks, the prairies, the farm lands, the mountains, the oceans. When my parents were alive and would come to visit, they made me look at it with new eyes. My father would often say: God loves this country.
    This evening, as we were making our way from Illinois to Michigan, just near Lake Michigan, there was a full double rainbow. I mean the whole arc, repeated. RESPLENDENT!

  3. Martin says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle. I’m always a sucker for the Chen “trademark” L-R symmetry grids (that’s not to ignore the new constructor).

    That symmetry had a bit of a mini-heyday in the earlier days of NYT Sundays when they first started shortly after WWII. I always found the varient symmetry quite interesting, and I’m glad to see it making a solid comeback.

    I found the puzzle mostly medium, with the occasional tough area for me, especially living in Canada. Unfortunately, one of the big payoffs for the solver… the rather clever gimmick of OLD FAITHFUL entered backwards I had seen before in an earlier puzzle. So I caught on a bit faster than was perhaps originally intended. Oh “well” if you’ll forgive the awful pun… clever gimmick dupes do happen. I just wish I had the imagination to think if it regardless! :)


  4. JohnH says:

    I’d mixed feelings from the start, as with the last puzzle using circled letters (for features of an early video game), because of their arbitrary placement without symmetry. It feels too easy on the creators, even though this one has a lot of additional theme material that makes me realize, if still not on a gut level, that they’re doing their job.

    I suppose I was also a bit put off at the further symmetry breaking in departing from the theme with HOME LOAN and in the overlap of DOME with, well, DOME. Maybe I’d have preferred, too, if the slot for MIND CANDY (unfamiliar to me as well, so glad to hear it’s suspect) had been a theme entry.

    There was maybe a little more than its fair share of trivia, like Oprah’s BFF and the whole NE block with a general crossing a hobbit character, plus at least two slang expressions I didn’t know. Google isn’t giving me much verification for cluing PAP as a diet either. (It’s no doubt entirely my fault that I didn’t know ARCHES as a park rather than a park feature.) Still, overall fun to see the park story emerging so well.

  5. Hup hup says:

    How do the raters come up with an average of 3.61? You are using a 5 point scale, right? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything close to a 5. ( I admit that over ten years I haven’t read every post, but I seldom see anything above a 4.)
    Today you lauded it and yet others must have been way below your 4 to reach the average. I wonder what is their justification? I don’t know what else the constructors could do to get a 5.

    • Norm says:

      They need to be entertaining, challenging, and clever — all at the same time. I don’t know about others, but I am sparing with 5s. Evan got one the other week for a puzzle that I thought was brilliant. Not everyone agreed.

      • Michael says:

        If “challenging” is a must, then by your criteria an early-week puzzle will never attain a five-star rating.

        • Norm says:

          That’s true. A Monday puzzle may be “perfect” for what it is, but I don’t see giving it a 5. Do you think that’s unfair?

  6. allan says:

    @huda I hope you stopped and took pictures! What a magnificent sight that must have been. My rainbow moment happened last summer. I was driving from Missoula, MT to Yellowstone. I had a horrible flight into Missoula due to missing my connecting flight from Denver, and had to spend the night at Denver International. I got about an hours sleep, and was miserably tired. About an hour outside of Yellowstone, on a drizzly afternoon, I looked to my left, and there was this full (single) arc rainbow. I stopped, took it in, took some of the best pics I ever took, and drove on. That experience totally changed my mood and made me feel that my night of misery was all worthwhile.

    • Huda says:

      @allan, yes, we did stop and took photos. They look great but still don’t render the full feeling of being there. And I agree it is mood altering, in the best of ways…

  7. Jeff says:

    Duh, I was looking at the wrong clue. My pen obscured the clue number in the grid.

  8. roger says:

    just a question: what is the sunday entertainment value of a puzzle like this when almost all the circled theme answers are known as facts and can be deduced before even filling them in? otherwise, just a good themeless friday puzzle.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’ll agree it was a rather dry solve. It was the elegance of the map placement of the parks and landmarks that impressed me, but there wasn’t much wit or whimsy to the puzzle.

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