Thursday, October 13, 2016

BEQ 9:22 (Ben) 


CS 9:37 (Ade) 


LAT 3:48 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:20 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball contest puzzle this week, so look for Jenni’s write-up on Sunday night.

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

NY Times crossword solution, 10 13 16, no 1013

NY Times crossword solution, 10 13 16, no 1013

The dynamic duo’s back with another co-constructed puzzle. The theme is two-word phrases in which the second word is a 3-letter word that’s actually contained within the first word, and those 3-letter words are circled. There’s a WHOOPIE PIE, GARBAGE BAG, EARTH ART (the only rather unfamiliar theme answer for me), MADE MAD (feels a little arbitrary), PALE ALE, SHOUT-OUT, AVERAGE AGE, and INSTANT TAN. Fresh theme approach, not an obvious one although it should have been obvious to me (as a puzzler who pays attention to letter patterns)!

The intersecting stacks of 7s in each corner give this a bit of a themeless-grid vibe, though the word count is 76, not 72.

Five more things:

  • 30a. [D.C. pro], NAT. The baseball team, the Washington Nationals, in contention to play the Cubs in the NLCS. (How about those Cubs?!)
  • 69a. [Comic legend], STAN LEE. Raise your hand if you thought the clue was looking for a comedian.
  • 11d. [Emily Dickinson, self-descriptively], NOBODY. Here’s her poem, “I’m Nobody, Who Are You?” Eight dashes and five exclamation points in an eight-line poem? I just can’t.
  • 31d. [Sorrowful state], DOLOR. I like those -or nouns. Rigor, vigor, torpor, turgor, stupor … the humor/humid meanings have largely diverged, though.
  • 41d. [Crane construction?], ORIGAMI. Lovely clue/answer combo.

Four stars from me.

Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Welcoming the First Family” — Jim’s review

No, it’s not a puzzle about the Obamas. Or the Clintons. The Biblical first family has invaded today’s grid.

WSJ - Thu, 10.13.16 - "Welcoming the First Family" by Dan Fisher (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Thu, 10.13.16 – “Welcoming the First Family” by Dan Fisher (Mike Shenk)

  • 17a [Unshakable opponents of King George III?] ADAMANT COLONIES. Ant colonies.
  • 26a [Start of Hillary’s 1953 feat?] COMING TO EVEREST. Coming to rest. The other Hillary was six at the time. I wonder what feat she performed then…riding a bike?
  • 40a [Mediterranean property of Spain that’s part of a conspiracy?] MINORCA IN LEAGUE. Minor league. I like this entry even though you can see my error in the grid. But what an awkward clue. Unfortunately ISLE is at 16a.
  • 49a [Bearer of a “This is the Hindenburg” sticker?] LABELED ZEPPELIN. Led Zeppelin. It’s unfortunate we have the extra L in the first word. Makes it look like we tacked on LABE to the beginning of the phrase. Also, “This is the Hindenburg”? What a strange bumper sticker. Also, also, wouldn’t it be in German?

You can see why I would make that error in 40a. “Major League” seems like a much more common phrase than “minor league,” and Majorca (sometimes spelled Mallorca) is nearly 10 times as big as MINORCA (sometimes spelled Menorca). The crossings weren’t fair either; BODONI [Typeface designer Giambattista] could easily have been BODONA and IMAMAJ is certainly weird, but as a song title [1967 hit for the Spencer Davis Group] — who knows? I had thought my problem was with 31a [1959 album “___ With Elvis”] which I first filled as A NITE.

Still, it’s a fine theme. But there’s no why. Why are we inserting these names into the grid? Provide a whimsical reason and that elevates the theme tremendously. Don’t, and it’s just…there.

Fillwise, I like CAMPSITE, COAL PIT, HEADSETS, and SIRIUS. Not too much to dislike, except, again, BODONI abutting I’M A MAN. I don’t dislike I’M A MAN, but there’s just too much uncertainty in that section.

Clue of note: 60a. [Spotted dick ingredient] is SUET. Spotted dick is a British dessert made with SUET, dried fruit, and often topped with custard. While living in England I…did my best to avoid it because, well, spotted dick.

In England, you could be just 2.5 minutes away from Aunt Bessie's delicious spotted dick. The perfect pairing to your Toad in the Hole.

Visit England and you’re just 2.5 minutes away from Aunt Bessie’s delicious spotted dick. The perfect pairing to your Toad in the Hole. “Just the way you like it!”

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Blue Pictures” — Ben’s Review

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-10-59-54-pmIt’s BEQ Thursay, so let’s take a look at the puzzle.  “Blue Pictures” is a quip quote puzzle, so let’s get the quip out of the way:

  • 17A: Start of a quip by Aziz Ansari — I HAVE NO INTEREST
  • 29A: Quip, part 2 — IN ART 
  • 35A:  Quip, part 3 — LET ME 
  • 40A: Quip, part 4 — CLARIFY 
  • 48A: Quip, part 5 — I HAVE NO INTEREST
  • 60A: End of the quip — IN NON-NUDE IMAGES

I have a few issues with the quip: One, while spoken by Aziz Ansari, it’s a line by his character from Parks & Recreation, Tom Haverford, that’s slightly different in tone from Aziz’ own stand-up comedy.  Two, it’s broken up a little weirdly throughout the grid.  Three, the word IMAGE at 3D seems like a little bit of a duplicate given the end of 60A.

A few other notes on this one:

  • 20A: Buster Brown’s pet — TIGE (this felt obscure and slightly off)
  • 46A’s ENVOI (Final stanza in a poem) and 33D’s Olympic swimmer Anthony ERVIN was a heck of a Natick in the middle of the puzzle
  • 4D: Chocolate or soap brand name — DOVE BAR (this felt slightly redundant)

2.75/5 stars.  A so-so quip and some issues with fill kept me from fully enjoying this one.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Making a Comeback” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.13.16: "Making a Comeback"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.13.16: “Making a Comeback”

Good day, everyone! Sorry for being MIA yesterday, and apologies in advance for not being able to stay long today as well – busy, busy last couple of days in the sports journalism world. Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, features multiple-word theme entries in which the letters “echo” span across two words. The final theme entry, ECHO LOCATION, acts as the reveal (52A: [Bat’s navigation process, or, when read as two words, feature within the answers to 20-, 28-, and 45-Across]).

  • FEMALE CHORUS (20A: [Singers in Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” e.g.])
  • MULTIPLE CHOICE (28A: [Test format])
  • WHITE CHOCOLATE (45A: [Coating on some Lindt truffles])

So we had one entry which had a Roman numeral, JAMES I (5D: [Only son of Mary, Queen of Scots]), and that made me immediately put in Roman numerals for the clue to ACT ONE, which momentarily proved to be disastrous (26D: [When King Lear disowns Cordelia]). That was rectified quickly. Didn’t really see what was going on with the theme entries until reaching the final theme entry/reveal. Only other hang-up was then I put in “bofo” even though I know that spelling should be “boffo.” Eventually, BOFF had to be the answer, though I’m not sure if that really is right (1D: [Hit, to showbiz insiders]). Just looked up “boff” right now and there’s a different meaning than what’s implied in the clue…a VERY DIFFERENT MEANING! I’ll just leave it at that!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OWES (65A: [Isn’t yet square with]) – Had to be creative today with the lack of options, but found a good one. Former college basketball star Ray OWES played as a forward at the University of Arizona from 1991-95. In his senior year of 1994-95, Owes was a First Team All-Pac 10 selection as he helped the Wildcats reach the Final Four. Fellow Pac-10 team UCLA ended up winning the national championship, which cost me a Top 3 finish – and prize money – in St. Rita Elementary School’s March Madness poll since I had Arkansas, the team UCLA defeated in the title game, winning it all. It’s been 21 years, but I think I’m finally over that now. Maybe.

TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!

Take care!


Doug Peterson and Patti Varol’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s two cents

LA Times 161013

LA Times

We have a “phrase-chain” type theme, where 3 circus-related phrases have beginnings tacked onto them that normally connect to only the first part of those phrases. The results are clued wacky style: (ONION(RING)MASTER) and especially (DANDE(LION)TAMER) are excellent and produce amusing imagery. (INSIDE(PITCH)MAN) is a little flatter, but rounds out the set.

With only 3 themers, the grid is squeaky clean (ARAN being the most out there answer, I guess, though the sweaters give it crossworthiness). This still requires discipline. The grid is also peppered with some interesting flavour like ROOMBA and SANTAHAT.

4 Stars

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13 Responses to Thursday, October 13, 2016

  1. Martin says:

    Very original theme. Clever too!


  2. Paul Coulter says:

    I loved the NYT, especially the circles’ symmetry (if slightly pushed toward the right.) It was a very fresh and well executed theme. I have no problems with MADEMAD as a legitimate phrase, but I believe EARTHART is more commonly known as Land Art.

  3. Wayward says:

    Would some one please inform the constructor’s union that the T-Top was a Corvette option from 1968-1982. Yes, the last time you could order one from the factory was 34 years ago. Insipid clue/answer needs to be retired.

    • pauer says:

      You think there’s a union?! If only there were, we might retain the copyright and get royalties and be entitled to all the other things that come with most creative writing.

      But to your point: yes, the entry TTOP makes a puzzle feel quite dated. If only there were some source of puzzles with no crosswordese … I can think of two.

  4. Lise says:

    I loved the NYT theme, despite not being sure what a WHOOPIE PIE is. Not a Central Virginia thing, I guess. And I know that Emily Dickinson is really popular, but I think I’m the only person on the planet who is not a fan. On the plus side, she could be quite evocative and she did use the word “microscope” in a poem. Kudos to that. But the majority of her poems have exactly the same rhythm and can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose Of Texas, and what’s with all those dashes?
    Anyway. Loved BODONI because, fonts. And STAN LEE, ORIGAMI and MARACAS. Thanks for a fun puzzle!

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Come to eastern PA! We are whoopee pie central!

      • Lise says:

        Thanks, Jenni! I looked them up and we have them – here they are called moon pies. Apparently they go with RC Cola. So I will look for that combo in a future crossword.
        I like the term “whoopee pie” better.

  5. David L says:

    Nice puzzle although I made several missteps that slowed me down. LYSOL before DYSON and IBN before BIN (are they just different transliterations of the same Arabic word? Huda?)

    But the biggest obstacle was putting in PEDANT crossing IDLE, which also fits with COP and THUNDER — but then 57D had to be TENTH. Took me a while to untangle that.

  6. Papa John says:

    Will someone please explain the quip in the BEQ?

    • Ben Smith says:

      Aziz’ character on Parks and Rec, Tom Haverford, is a bit of a boor (particularly towards the start of the series before they toned down the cringe humor stylings of The Office and figured out their own comedic voice that’s a lot more supportive). Anyways, back on topic with the quip:

      “I have no interest in art. Let me clarify — I have no interest in non-nude images.”

      Tom is only interested in art when it contains nudity.

  7. Bob says:


    3d is I MADE not IMAGE, as in “Have I MADE myself clear?” (apparently not) – error on the solution page as well.

    Likewise 20a (washday choice) is TIDE, not TIGE(!).

Comments are closed.