Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CS 5:00 (Ade) 


Jonesin' 10:48 (Derek) 


LAT 3:28 (Derek) 


NYT 3:11 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 


Sam Buchbinder’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 4 16, no 1004

NY Times crossword solution, 10 4 16, no 1004

Well, this one fell a lot faster than Monday’s did … but I’m probably an outlier because I’m particularly good with names and pop culture. This puzzle’s got more than 20 proper nouns! That is far more than usual, and it typically engenders complaints from the “I wasn’t looking for a trivia quiz” crowd. Names like OTERI, IONE, and BOWE are out of the public eye these days, and unusual spellings like KACEY and GENO will challenge the not-great-with-names solvers.

The theme is a simple one:

  • 17a. [Overboard, to a sailor], IN THE DRINK.
  • 23a. [Data storage devices], MEMORY CHIPS.
  • 38a. [Punch in the mouth, slangily], KNUCKLE SANDWICH.
  • 47a. [Bright sort], SMART COOKIE.
  • 60a. [Backpack containers where you can find the ends of 17-, 23-, 38- and 47-Across], LUNCH BOXES.

What?! Two kinds of junk food (plus that drink is probably mostly sugar), and no fruit? And none of the stuff that parents might put in a cool bento box.

Five more things:

  • 64a. [Dance move added to the O.E.D. in 2015], TWERK. All the lexicographers’ parties had so much twerking going on, they had to add it.
  • 4d. [___ scale (measure of hardness), MOHS. No apostrophe. Named after Friedrich Mohs. Not to be confused with Frederic Mohs, namesake of Mohs surgery (used by dermatologists).
  • 28d. [Street vendors selling Mexican food], TACO TRUCKS. People! If you want to stave off the appearance of a taco truck on every corner, be sure to vote for Trump next month. If you would like to have more taco trucks, vote for Clinton.
  • 50d. [Eyes: Lat.], OCULI. This is one of those words that really has no business being in a Monday or Tuesday puzzle. Or a Wednesday puzzle, for that matter.
  • 46d. [Ah, me], SIGH. Sorry, constructor and/or editor, but sticking “ah, me” in a clue does nothing to legitimize that phrase as a crossword entry. I will still grouse about AHME every time, because it’s terrible and we don’t say that. You can, however, sing “Ah, Leah.”

3.5 stars from me.

Chuck Deodene’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Awesome!” — Jim’s review

OSs are changed to AWs with a commensurate pronunciation change: that snaky S sound at the end of the last word is softened to a dozy Z.

WSJ - Tue, 10.4.16 - "Awesome!" by Chuck Deodene

WSJ – Tue, 10.4.16 – “Awesome!” by Chuck Deodene

  • 60a [Cavities, chipped teeth, etc.?] DENTAL FLAWS. Dental floss. That makes sense.
  • 28a [What insults to Dixie may stick in?] SOUTHERN CRAWS. Southern Cross. Awkwardly phrased clue, but not without humor.
  • 45a [Corporate attorney’s areas of expertise?] PROFIT AND LAWS. Profit and loss. Utterly without humor and the clue works just as well for the original phrase as the made-up one.
  • 60a [What food disappears into at Madrid eateries?] SPANISH MAWS. Spanish moss. Another awkward clue, and do you ever use MAW when mouth would suffice?

This one didn’t work for me, mainly because of the awkward cluing and the title. The title hints that the letters AW are involved, as they are, but doesn’t capture the pronunciation change. I found myself wondering, “Why -OSS words? Why the change in pronunciation?” But I didn’t find any raison d’puzzle. And there just wasn’t anything very funny or entertaining about the chosen entries, except maybe SOUTHERN CRAWS.

Further, the clues were uncharacteristically hard for a Tuesday:

  • 47d [Bronchodilators treat it] is ASTHMA‘s clue. Sure, this is discernible for anyone able to parse the word, but still, it’s Tuesday.
  • 51a [Instruments with sympathetic strings] clues SITARS. Apparently, sympathetic strings is a real phrase.
  • 64a [Hessian camera brand] represents LEICA.
  • 66a [Champlain, to Champlain] is LAC. To me, this implies that in 1609 when Samuel de Champlain encountered what is today Lake Champlain, it was already called Lake Champlain.
  • And 1a [Focus on the road, say] for CAR is a really good clue, but that’s some late-week trickery and nary a question mark to be seen.

And then there’s MOMBASA [Kenya’s main port] and DUDA [Lucas of the Mets]. Those are the kinds of clues and entries that turn newcomers off of crosswords.

I did really love BELLY RUB and ADAM’S APPLE. READY, SET, GO is good as well, but the clue [Dash intro] made want ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, GO, or the British version READY, STEADY, GO.

In the end, this was a pretty straightforward pronunciation-change theme (from -OSS to -AWS), but the cluing was not on a par with that level of difficulty, and a more apt title would’ve served the puzzle better. The fill was really just fine (except for DUDA) but the theme choices just didn’t do much for me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 279), “Ladies First”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 10/4 (No. 279)

Crossword Nation 10/4 (No. 279)

I think you’ll all be pleased to know: no SCREED today. What we’ve got here is a tight construction with a well-executed theme, strong non-theme fill, and strong cluing all around. Each of the four 10-letter themers (two across, two down) is the first and last name of a woman. So, yes, “ladies first.” But what the title doesn’t tell us is that the first name of each of ’em is a variation of a name pronounced like the word “alley.” So, “Hello” to:

16A. ALY RAISMAN [Gymnast who won gold at the London and Rio Olympics],

10D. ALI MACGRAW [“The Getaway” star and author of “Moving Pictures”],

28D. ALLIE GRANT [Lisa Shay portrayer on ABC’s “Suburgatory”] and

60A. ALLY SHEEDY [“The Breakfast Club” star].



But wait—there’s more! There’s also filmdom’s Jessica ALBA and Lena OLIN, gold-medal Olympian KERRI Walsh Jennings, the “enchanted” ELLA and a soul-shattering Stanley-Kowalski-cry of “STELLA!” I’m also gonna add the nickname BARB (even though it’s been clued today in the sense of [Impolite remark]), New Jersey’s CAPE MAY (even though, yeah, it was named for Dutch captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey…) and [BRYN Mawr], because it’s a highly esteemed college for women and has been since 1885. Wow. That was a good year for women’s education. My alma mater, Goucher College, was founded then, too.

But wait—that’s not all! With all those dames, there’s still room for gender balance—which we get with [Rapper Riff RAFF], actor Jimmy SMITS, TV’s Norm ABRAM (though the typical TV IDOL he ain’t…), the Greek god JOVE, composer Édouard LALO, architect EERO Saarinen, seasoned [Politico Trent LOTT] and tyro politico DONALD Trump. A [Steady boyfriend] is a BEAU, who may or may not partake of a CLARO every now and then. As for ESCORTS or [Hired dates]—well, I guess they could find a place on either list. Ditto VICAR [Parish leader] these days.

And for being terrific fill and/or clues in general, let me not fail to mention specifically:



    Yup. That’s a large bill all right…

  • [Private dining room?] and MESS HALL, since the mess hall is where army privates take many of their meals…;
  • [Northern ends?] and ENS, because the word “northern” begins and ends with the letter “EN”;
  • PELICAN [Large-billed bird] and CORGI [Welsh barker], because they’re each such cool examples of their species; and
  • [Potential syrup] for SAP, because it got me to thinking about the maple-syrup-production process, which typically begins in late March.

And with that sweet thought, folks, I leave you for today. Keep solving and keep comin’ back!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “nnnnn” – Derek’s write-up

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-6-58-28-pmA themeless from Matt this week, and it is a toughie! Worthy of a Saturday puzzle venue! I wonder how his normal solvers will handle this one, as I struggled a bit? That isn’t meant to come across as cocky, but I am only comparing my time here with my usual Jonesin’ time of right around 6 or 7 minutes. Maybe I am struggling a bit since I am now back among the workforce! Keep an eye out for my Facebook posts as I update my employee situation!

Tons of good and obscure in this 4.1 star challenger: Here is a sampling:

  • 1A [Versifier, archaically] RIMER – As in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, no doubt?
  • 15A [Florida lizard] ANOLE – This I just don’t see a lot. Maybe because it’s extremely obscure!
  • 20A [Officially approved, as a campus] ACCREDITED – This word just didn’t come to me quickly at all. I’ll blame it on a recent dearth of exercise!
  • 51A [Tidwell’s agent, in a 1996 film] MAGUIRE – As in Jerry Maguire, which I cannot believe is TWENTY YEARS OLD!! May have to go back and enjoy this classic!
  • 52A [“Purple drank” component] CODEINE – Purple drank is evidently cough syrup with codeine mixed with Sprite and some sort of candy. Learned a lot a month or two ago listening to The Herd with Colin Cowherd radio show. He knew absolutely nothing about it, but his phone lines lit up with callers willing to inform him of why people use the stuff!
  • 2D [Company that burns down at the end of “Office Space”] INITECH – Not familiar with this at all; another obscurity in the tough upper left corner. Another movie I will have to go back and watch again!
  • 30D [Strong position until 2014] CO-ANCHOR – I had to look this up, but my hunch was right: Cecily Strong was a co-anchor for Weekend Update on SNL.
  • 33D [Friend’s address in Acapulco] MI AMIGO! – Why not MIAMI GO! ;-)
  • 40D [Part of a late-night noise complaint, maybe] IT’S ONE! – Favorite entry of the puzzle! Only one NYT, from 1989, clued as part of the famous song Take Me Out to the Ballgame. (“For it’s one, two, three strikes …”)
  • 44D [Longtime NHL left wing Bob] ERREY – I am a fairly casual hockey fan, and I don’t know this fella. On two Stanley Cup winning teams with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I get long-winded when I enjoy the puzzle! Have a great week!

Sam Buchbinder’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-1-25-26-pmI couldn’t figure out the theme on this one immediately; I thought the entries at 33A and 41A had something to do with it! I even asked my wife what was going on! The truth is, the gimmick is not that complicated at all: the words LEFT, RIGHT, UP and DOWN appear in four theme entries just where they should: extreme left, extreme right, … you get the idea. Here are the phrases used:

  • 20A [“Bro, I thought you were gonna help”] LEFT ME HANGIN’
  • 49A [Follow the ethical path] DO WHAT’S RIGHT
  • 10D [Moving around] UP AND ABOUT
  • 30D [“You’re talking too loud”] TONE IT DOWN

Very nice! I don’t know what I was so confused about! Pretty good effort for a Tuesday. 4.1 stars!

A few comments:

  • 28A [Socializing with the queen, maybe] AT TEA – Maybe one day, … as if!
  • 31A [Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er ___”] BOI – Isn’t the rapper from Outkast Big BOI as well?
  • 43A [“… __ saw Elba”] ERE I – Awkward partial, but popular enough.
  • 5D [Made fluffy, as pillows] PLUMPED – I always “fluff” my pillows; I never PLUMP!
  • 9D [Spunk] MOXIE – Ever had Moxie soda? It’s not great. Must be a New England thing!
  • 33D [__-ski] APRÉS  – I think this takes an accent! I would just head straight to the “after-ski” and that way you don’t have to freeze to death out there!

That’s it for today. I’m working now!! Until this weekend!

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Rap Sessions” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.04.16: "Rap Sessions"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.04.16: “Rap Sessions”

Hello there, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, packs a wallop. Three wallops, actually. The three theme entries all start with words that happen to be synonyms in the context of fighting and pugilism.

  • PUNCHES THE CLOCK (17A: [Checks in at work])
  • STRIKES A BALANCE (37A: [Doesn’t take either extreme])
  • BLOWS THE WHISTLE (61A: [Exposes the corruption])

Some of you might have solved an earlier version, in which APT (27A: [Fit for the job]) appeared twice in the puzzle. Some of you might have solved this puzzle, which doesn’t have that issue and has AMT in the grid (55A: [Invoice fig.]). If you’re in the former, act like it never happened and, as always, show some love to Martin and all of the crossword constructors on here for their amazing work in producing so many grids for your pleasure and enjoyment. It’s definitely not an easy job, although they make it look easy! I certainly appreciate Martin and Co.! If you’re in the latter, then what I just said probably went over your head, which is OK as well.

With that out of the way, I’m somewhat peeved that I wasn’t able to crack the five-minute barrier! Definitely let out a ROAR when looking at my end time (23A: [Bestial bellow]). The intersection of RUBEN (31D: [Blades of song and film]) and REMORAS got me at the very end, and even now, I’m thinking I should have just put the “R” in and moved forward with the grid and not go back to it at the end (28A: [Fish that attach to sharks]). I’ve actually had the pleasure of heading to ANN ARBOR on a couple of occasions, and I definitely loved it as I have a soft spot for college towns and their charm because of the major university in it (3D: [Michigan college town]). There’s a chance that I’ll be there at the end of the fall, if I decide to cover a University of Michigan game. If I head to Michigan Stadium, home of the Wolverines, I’ll be one of 109,000-plus people in the area. Man, that’s a lot of people!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AVRIL (22A: [“Girlfriend” singer Lavigne]) – One-time Super Bowl champion Cliff AVRIL (first syllable pronounced with a long “a”) is currently a defensive end playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Avril started his career with the Detroit Lions in 2008 after being drafted out of Purdue University and, in five of his last seasons in the NFL, has recorded at least eight sacks, including a career-high 11 sacks in 2011.

See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!

Take care!


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23 Responses to Tuesday, October 4, 2016

  1. Jim Hale says:

    To Amy – My guess is most of us don’t want Clinton, Trump or Taco trucks
    I raise my hand as a person not good with pop culture. The cross-fill mitigated my weakness there fortunately.
    Didn’t like memory chips for data storage as normally that refers to disks… although I guess SSD drives now could be classified that way.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Either we can leave politics out of the discussion, or we can dispense with comments like “most of us.” Please don’t assume that we have all bought into the false-equivalency claptrap.

      • Gary R says:

        I agree. I, for one, love my local taco truck. It performs a valuable service in my community. The operator, in my experience, is honest and forthright. On the rare occasion that he messes up my order, he admits his mistake promptly, and makes it right. He has actually created a couple of jobs. He doesn’t promise things he can’t deliver.

        I don’t think he’s ever declared bankruptcy or stiffed his suppliers. I’m pretty sure he’s never sent classified information from an unsecured email server.

        I think it’s rather insulting to lump my taco truck in with our major party presidential candidates.

  2. Bencoe says:

    The only reasonable tacos are Clinton tacos– eat them, they’re pretty good.

  3. JohnH says:

    I didn’t care for the WSJ theme either and certainly not for DUDA. Agreed that the clue for CAR is iffy. AUGER is great but also unusual for early in the week, as is the association of KAYAKS with slaloms. Still, my glitch was elsewhere, in the crossing of a port, a TV daughter, and a mascot. Didn’t care for that at all.

  4. Norm says:

    NYTY: Weak theme. Yawn.
    WSJ: Clever. SOUTHERN CRAWS made me grin, and there was nothing wrong with the others. A very nice Tuesday puzzle. “Focus on the road, say” did not need a question mark.
    CS: A repeated APT in the grid? Is that a mortal sin or just a venial one?

    • Martin says:

      Regarding the APT/APT dupe:

      No excuses: that is a massive mistake on my part. Since this puzzle was written, I can honestly say that I have no idea how this happened. I can only guess it was a last minute change (for some reason) that produced the dupe.

      This is the first time (I can remember) that I have ever made an grid error like this, and I certainly hope it’s the last.

      Usually we are very careful about avoiding any kind of dupes in CrosSynergy Puzzles. This includes making sure that we don’t (if we can help it) use many words in the clues that dupe (even partially) ones in the grids.

      This puzzle was constructed edited about 3 (or so) months ago, so I can only guess at how this error slipped by all of us. But, the only reason I can think of is that it must gave been a last minute change (by me).

      Again my sincere apologies.

      -Martin Ashwood-Smith

    • Martin says:

      Norm: definitely a mortal sin :(


    • Gareth says:

      MAS: You missed an opportunity to use ”Ah Me”.

  5. lemonade714 says:

    I never cease to be amazed at how often a constructor has two puzzles published on the same day, which Sam Buchbinder accomplished today with the LAT and NYT. Both were doable Tuesday efforts. I do not fault a proper name even it is not recent as long as it has been seen often in CW world.

    Congrats Mr. B.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Although that’s quasi-elitist, since new solvers will not necessarily know the names that are overused in crosswords, and it may deter them from continuing with crosswords.

      • Papa John says:

        I’m not sure I agree with the notion that cruciverbalist neophytes aren’t ready for such words as OCULI or have a lack of knowledge in pop culture, high or low brow subjects, history, religion or any other subject that they may come across in crossword puzzles. I’ll admit that I’ve learned a great many words, names and other trivia from puzzles, but that’s not to say I wasn’t equipped with a vast store of knowledge when I began to solve. In a way, it’s rather insulting to suggest that only through solving scores of puzzles will a novice come to learn OCULI. I learned that in ninth grade Latin class, not from doing late-week puzzles. Although I don’t have the pertinent statistics, I would guess that many of the “overused” names encountered in puzzles are names that are within the general knowledge base of high school graduates. Certainly crosswordese, as well as the various ploys, tricks and devices used by contemporary constructors will be become more familiar as one solves more and more puzzles. This is true with acquiring any acumen.

        I’d like to clear up a point of fact. Do all daily puzzle venues adhere to the NYT’s scheme of easy-to-difficult as the week progresses? It would be nice if one of them did just the opposite, so we’d have challenge on Monday and a respite on Saturday.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          You realize that very, very few high schools are offering Latin these days?

          CrosSynergy is roughly the same difficulty level throughout the week. LAT has graduated difficulty but tends to be a notch easier than the NYT (no twisty Thursday themes, e.g.). I think WSJ has graduated difficulty, not sure. Brendan Quigley heard the cry for interesting, hard puzzles early in the week, and thus “Themeless Monday” exists.

          • Jim Peredo says:

            WSJ generally has graduated difficulty Mon-Thu, a Friday contest (i.e. meta), and a Saturday 21x.

  6. Martin says:

    The corrected version of Today’s CS puzzle should be online now.


    -MAS -MAS

  7. JohnV says:

    Thought WSJ was hard as hell.

  8. golfballman says:

    Sure hope Ade gets better soon.

    • Martin says:

      Regarding ANY puzzles being reviewed late:

      I think I can speak for many constuctors here by saying that we are very grateful to be reviewed AT ALL.

      Sorry to sound sarcastic, but we all need to remember that Amy is not running a subscription-only site. Everyone here does this in their spare time. The same applies to Rex and many other blogs.

      I may not always agree with the reviews, but no one can deny that these sites often have lively opinions and discussions.

      (I mean this reply in a friendly tone, BTW)


      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Thank you, Martin!

        Pretty sure Ade has just been busy with work (the NFL is in full swing and MLB playoffs are starting) and not ill. That said, I’m glad Golfballman has learned to make gentler requests for missing write-ups rather than complaining in an entitled fashion. :-)

    • Misty says:

      You can get the CS solution at
      without Ade’s write up if the answers are all you want. The menu has a reveal option that will auto fill the puzzle.

  9. JohnV says:

    Xwordnation did not not know the names duo got killed.

Comments are closed.