Wednesday, November 30, 2016

AV Club 7:54 (Ben) 


CS 8:08 (Ade) 


LAT 3:45 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:51 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Molly Young’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I like this! Fresh, smooth, enjoyable and appropriate for a mid-week crossword. Fun all around.

The theme clues are products that Apple is not (yet) marketing, and the answers are all i-Puns.

  • screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-12-05-47-am

    NYT 11/30 puzzle, solution grid

    14a [New push-up bra from Apple?] = ILIFT (eye lift).

  • 8d [New sports equipment from Apple?] = IBALL (eyeball).
  • 12d [New colander from Apple?] = ISTRAIN (eye strain). This one is a stretch because a colander isn’t a strain, it’s a strainer.
  • 40d [New tracking device from Apple?] = ISHADOW (eye shadow). Is a shadow really a tracking device? Or a person tracking another person?
  • 52d [New parachute from Apple?] = IDROP (eye drop).
  • 66a [New whip from Apple?] = ILASH (eyelash).

The theme answers are all solid and my issues with two of the clues are minor. I like this a lot.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Rings up?] was not immediately obvious to me. It’s HALOS.
  • Curmudgeon alert! Ambrose BIERCE at 20a.
  • [Having a baby makes one] appears at 25d and 45d, with the answers being MOM  and DAD respectively.
  • Crosswordese does show up at 60a with ARIL; I’m also not happy about PHS at 50a, clued as [Acidity measures].
  • 55a [Kind of talk] is TED. 21st century culture in the puzzle. Nice.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that BOTA is a leather bag for wine. I’ve been doing puzzles for over 40 years and I don’t remember seeing that word before. I also can’t imagine using this newly acquired knowledge outside of crosswords, so it’s crosswordese that I didn’t previously know.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Well-Balanced” — Jim’s review

Zhouqin Burnikel brings her Chinese heritage to bear for our enjoyment today. She’s found four phrases which hide YIN AND YANG (55a, [Chinese philosophical forces, and a hint to what’s hidden in the the starred answers]).

WSJ - Wed, 11.30.16 - "Well-Balanced" by Zhouqin Burnikel

WSJ – Wed, 11.30.16 – “Well-Balanced” by Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 16a [*Chain named for a Bing Crosby film] HOLIDAY INN
  • 24a [*”La La Land” star] RYAN GOSLING
  • 34a [* Combined into a complete system] FULLY INTEGRATED
  • 47a [*1962 #1 hit for Shelley Fabares] JOHNNY ANGEL

Very nice choices for themers. I especially like that the YANGs are both men’s names (since YANG is representative of masculinity). Too bad some women’s names couldn’t be found to represent femininity. (I did find LADY IN WAITING, but it’s less elegant to have your hidden word span only two of the three words.)

However, FULLY INTEGRATED makes the perfect central entry, since YIN AND YANG are both necessary parts to a whole. You can’t have one without the other, so this is a very elegant touch.

Also nice is that the theme entries alternate YIN, YANG, YIN, YANG. As the title says, it’s well-balanced.

As for the rest of the puzzle, Zhouqin fills it with her usual flair. We get YALE BOWL, STALEMATE, NEUTRON, SALMON ROE, and “THAT SAID.” I also like YANNI, “SO BE IT” and “YAY ME!”

Overall, a well-conceived, -constructed, and -executed puzzle.

What say you? YANNI or JOHNNY ANGEL. *flips coin* YANNI it is!

Erin Rhode’s AVCX crossword, “Easy Picks” — Ben’s Review

Easy Picks

Easy Picks

Good morning!  This week’s AV Club puzzle is another entry from Erin Rhode, a 2/5 difficulty entitled “Easy Picks”.  Let’s take a look at what’s going on:

  • 17A: Version of a Microsoft search engine for hipsters? — UNDERGROUND BING
  • 29A: “Casablanca” bar that hasn’t been cleaned in a while? — DIRTY RICKS
  • 49A: Proposal for sending a Gchat, following Robert’s Rules of Order? — MOTION TO IM
  • 61A: What’s easy to realize is missing from this puzzle’s theme answers, and a clue to where one find what’s missing — LOW HANGING FRUIT

LOW HANGING FRUIT refers to the bottom down answers, each of which extends past the grid.  LAMP, ORAL, WII U, and LERON HELM (of The Band, per 40D) give you PLUM (as in UNDERGROUND PLUMBING). MOANFUL, GOBI, HIT ‘EM (Up Style, Blu Cantrell’s only real US hit, 55D), and SNORE give you LIME (for DIRTY LIMERICKS); finally, FLAP, TOP RATE, AUDRA (McDonald, six-time Emmy winner in 58D), LILAC, and STEPH Curry give you PEACH (of MOTION TO IMPEACH).

The theme was cute, although I didn’t fully grasp it until after I had fully solved the puzzle and realized the reason a bunch of my answers weren’t fitting the grid was because they were ALL one letter too long.  For whatever reason, I felt a little underwhelmed by that “aha” moment.

A few other notes on this puzzle:

  • Fill in the blanks!  DIEM, A SORE, TASE, (India.)ARIE, A TRAP, YAR, IT’S NO, and the aforementioned HIT ‘EM all required you to finish some phrases/names this puzzle.
  • Loved the shout out to the LOUD pants of the Norwegian Curling Team at 1D
  • I did not realize that to be “high on PCP” (as in 29D) is to be DUSTED.  Perhaps I need to go back to D.A.R.E (6D)

3/5 stars

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Double Standards” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.30.16: "Double Standards"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.30.16: “Double Standards”

Good morning, people! How are you? Can you believe that tomorrow starts the final month of 2016? Goodness! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, features five three-word song titles in which the first and the third words are exactly the same.

  • CRY BABY CRY (17A: [1968 Beatles song])
  • ASHES TO ASHES (24A: [1980 David Bowie song])
  • RIDE CAPTAIN RIDE (41A: [1970 Blues Image song])
  • BLACK IS BLACK (52A: [1966 Los Bravos song]) – “I want my baby back!”
  • LAY LADY LAY (65A: [1969 Bob Dylan song])

No joke: I was looking at KAYAK last night for last-second deals for flights to Detroit and Chicago for this weekend (56D: [Travelocity rival]). Has the Bridgegate scandal been used to clue FT LEE before in a crossword (12D: [N.J. town on the Hudson])? I think it has, but I’m not 100 percent sure. (Yes, I know I can look it up, but let me finish this blog first, OK?) Liked the fill of JEDI MASTER, and liked it even more because I was able to fill it in without any crossings when looking at its clue (30D: [Qui-Gon Jinn, notably]) Definitely wasn’t expecting astrology when first seeing the clue for LIBRA today, as I first thought they both might have gone to the same college (4D: [Jimmy Carter or Dwight Eisenhower]). OK, back to looking up flights, though one almost needs to be FILTHY RICH to book some of these tickets at the prices that I’ve been seeing (11D: [Loaded]). My goodness!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BARN (2D: [Hoedown locale]) – One of the oldest arenas currently in use by a Division 1 college basketball team, Williams Arena, affectionately nicknamed “The BARN,” is the basketball home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s and women’s basketball teams. The most unique aspect of the arena, which opened in 1928, is the elevated court, as the basketball court playing surface is raised about two feet from off the ground, creating what looks like a stage on which the players play the game on.

See you all on Thursday!

Take care!


Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 161130

LA Times

Tearing through this, I noticed repeated IN words in each of the second words of the theme. PLAYTHEBACKNINE is a colourful revealer, though ENIN across two words is still pretty mundane. The themers are long, but also pretty uninspiring: GRE(ENIN)VISTMENT, PROV(ENIN)NOCENT and OP(ENIN)VITATION.

Except for the theme, with its four grid spanners (well, two are 14’s), there’s not a lot of action. EVENBET and BEEHIVE are about as dangerous as it gets here.

3 Stars

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13 Responses to Wednesday, November 30, 2016

  1. Evad says:

    Though I realize there’s no thing as an “eyebid,” seeing IBID in the puzzle (Apple app used at Sotheby’s?) seemed infelicitous.

  2. Norm says:

    AVC: Is there any kind of plumbing EXCEPT underground? Puzzle tried way too hard to be clever.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Most of the plumbing in our house is not underground. Only the water main and sewer main are buried.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yes, people are able to have upstairs bathrooms because the plumbing extends upwards. Even in high-rises!

      • Norm says:

        Ha ha. Point taken. Still rings awkward. Above ground pool? Yes. Indoor plumbing? Yes. Above ground plumbing? If you say so. Seems kind of green paint-ish. What’s next? Above ground carpentry? :)

    • Makfan says:

      In some communities in extremely cold areas the plumbing is not in the ground but in structures that can be heated.

  3. Bruce N Morton says:

    Excellent puzzle by Ms. Young. I’m not familiar with her. Is she a debutante? Is eyelift a thing? Face lift, yes. I too wondered if 10a could have been clued something like {My strategy for attempting to win the Apple auction}

    • Jenni Levy says:

      “Eye lift” is definitely a thing. They are sometimes done for cosmetic reasons and sometimes to improve vision if the lids are drooping so much they obscure the top of the visual field.

  4. David L says:

    Cute puzzle but I also thought that IBID was an unfortunate flaw.

    One thing I learned is that HOBOs have purses — and pretty pricey ones, I discovered after googling some examples. It would seem odd to me, if I were a hobo, to spend a couple of hundred bucks on a fancy bag rather than getting a sturdy pair of shoes.

  5. Zulema says:

    IBID was not part of the theme and if you all think it’s a flaw, it probably is, but I didn’t notice it and many other solvers probably didn’t either. The puzzle was very much fun indeed. As for BOTA it’s totally Spanish (meaning Spain) and until I lived there, I never knew the term.

  6. Noam D. Elkies says:

    ienjoyed the NYTimes crossword too. I remember 30A:BOTA from singing this fun song many years ago (lyrics here). Yes, it’s Spanish. I’d guess “bottle” is from a diminutive of something like BOTA, and the dictionary basically corroborates (butticula, diminutive of buttis=cask which is also the source of the Spanish word).


  7. CoffeeLover says:

    My boyfriend and I had a bota in college (seventies) and yes, that is what we called it. They usually have a shoulder strap, and even if you do drop it, it won’t break. We did a lot of outdoor stuff, so it was handy. This was well before boxed wine and aseptic packs.

    On another note regarding the AVXC, did not like seeing “red fruit” in the clue for TOMATO at 26D, and then FRUIT in the reveal.

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