Sunday, January 15, 2017

CS 14:25 (Ade) 


Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 5:51 (Andy) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


WaPo 10:16 (Erin) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “You Had One Job!”  – Erin’s writeup

Washington Post Sunday crossword solution, 1/15/17

Since Jenni’s been blogging the Wednesday NYT for me the past five months, and since my five-month-old isn’t sleeping long enough for me to reliably return to a weeknight spot, I am taking over the Washington Post review from her. It feels good to be a regular at Team Fiend again! This week it looks like Evan needs to find a new staff, because they keep blundering simple tasks, resulting in the literal interpretation of several idioms:

  • 23a. [“I told you to fight back, but you ___”] COULDN’T RESIST.
  • 34a. [“I told you to escort the inmates to their cells, but you ___”] TOOK NO PRISONERS.
  • 51a. [“I told you to spray insecticide, but you ___”] WOULDN’T HURT A FLY.
  • 69a. [“I told you to divulge information, but you ___”] WENT WITHOUT SAYING.
  • 86a. [“I told you to save money, but you ___”] SPARED NO EXPENSE.
  • 101a. [“I told you to receive a message, but you ___”] DIDN’T GET THE MEMO.
  • 118a. [“I told you to chip in a little bit of change, but you ___”] GAVE NO QUARTER.

Simple, playful, and lots of room for fill:

Princess Tiana!

  • 45a. [Censor’s concerns] CUSS WORDS. If I’ve seen this in a grid before, I don’t remember.
  • 71d. [Disney princess of New Orleans] TIANA. My daughter had a wonderful time meeting Tiana last month. She spent a lot of time with her, then let the rest of us get in for some photos.
  • 27a. [Drone station] HIVE. Clever clue.
  • MEL OTT (as two entries) and Bobby ORR in the same puzzle. Not a huge fan of both being here, but I’ve seen them enough in grids that I know which is which now.
  • My other favorite misdirecting clues: [Popular game] for DEER, [Olympics-style poker?] for EPEE, and [Tower by the shore?] for TUGBOAT.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword, “Grammar Lesson”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 15 17 “Grammar Lesson”

Cute theme—grammar terms defined as if they have nothing to do with grammar.

  • 24a. [Utopia?], FUTURE PERFECT.
  • 31a. [Piece still under consideration for a magazine?], INDEFINITE ARTICLE.
  • 50a. [“Village” newspaper that’s namby-pamby?], PASSIVE VOICE. Well, actually! Joe Levy, the brother of Team Fiend’s own Jenni, is the editor of the Village Voice. And the Voice has recently published a few pieces by my friend Jenn Pozner, an incisive media critic.
  • 66a. [Santa’s nieces and nephews?], RELATIVE CLAUSES. A pronunciation change here, but it doesn’t bother me.
  • 89a. [Like shoppers worrying about getting the right gift?], PRESENT TENSE.
  • 103a. [Jailhouse?], SENTENCE STRUCTURE.
  • 113a. [The Prada that one really wants?], OBJECTIVE CASE. My objective today turned out to be a Kate Spade wallet.

I like that the 7-part theme leaves breathing room for the fill, which is pretty solid throughout. The colorful long fill includes DIAMOND JIM, ATHEISTS, CORAZON Aquino, PROP PLANES, and SOFT TACO … and then there’s the mini-theme with IN BAD TASTE and ANN COULTER occupying symmetrical spots in the grid.

Other notes:

  • 37a. [Org. concerned with water quality], EPA / 118a. [Part of a postal address for a G.M. plant], FLINT, MI. I fervently hope that the people of Flint, who are closing in on a mind-boggling three years with horribly contaminated water, get clean drinking water very soon. Am terrified that an anti-environment EPA head will undo whatever progress has been made so far.
  • 121a. [Thomas of the N.B.A.], ISIAH. This is the retired Hall of Famer, and not the current player who spells his first name Isaiah. If you didn’t know they are both out there as NBA names, now you do.
  • 15a. [Apple product], CIDER. You were wondering when that device was announced, weren’t you?
  • 75a. [Uber-owned company that makes self-driving trucks], OTTO. This one’s new to me, but I imagine we’ll be seeing it in plenty of crosswords. Heck, I expect I’ll edit this entity into a Daily Celebrity Crossword clue for OTTO soon enough.
  • 102a. [Specimen, for example: Abbr.], SYN. SYN. isn’t synonymous with specimenrather, specimen and example are synonyms. Tricksy!
  • 5d. [When tripled, symbol of evil], SIX. Just so you know, my license plate number does include the 666 sequence.
  • 43d. [Insect that spends its larval stage inside a fruit], FIG WASP. It’s possible that you’ve eaten dead wasps broken down inside figs.
  • 81d. [“That deep, blue, bottomless soul,” per Melville], OCEAN. That man knew how to put a sentence together, lemme tell you.

4.2 stars from me.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Say Cheese!”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 1.15.17, “Say Cheese!”, by Ed Sessa

Quick review this week. Themers are puns that use the name of a type of cheese:

  • 23a, BRIE ARRANGEMENTS [Cheese tray displays?]. Prearrangements?
  • 45a, TILSIT LIKE IT IS [Real cheese?]. Tells it like it is.
  • 69a, FETA IN ONE’S CAP [Cheesehead’s accessory?]. Feather in one’s cap.
  • 97a, ROQUEFORT FILES [Cheese graters?]. Rockford Files.
  • 123a, LOCH NESS MUENSTER [Highland cheese?]. Loch Ness Monster.
  • 16d, GARDEN OF EDAM [Cheese-growing plot?]. Garden of Eden.
  • 63d, CHEDDAR BOXES [Cheese factory supplies?]. Chatterboxes. (It took me roughly 10 full minutes to figure this one out.)

I really liked this theme. Pun themes can miss by a mile, but I thought pretty much all of these puns were funny. TILSIT LIKE IT IS and ROQUEFORT FILES were my two favorites.

Nothing in the fill stood out to me as outlandish. THE BABE, DEEP FRY, CARLOAD, BUM STEER, and YOU AND I were nice. I think NORSK, DRAC, and FIXE were my three least favorite entries, but those are pretty good to be at the bottom of the list.

Until next week!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Get to the Chopper” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 1/15/17 • “Get to the Chopper” • Quigley • bg • solution

The ‘chopper’ of the title is the AX inserted into phrases. The title itself doesn’t make much sense regarding the mechanics of the theme, but I guess the lure of a winking reference to a notorious meme was too much to resist.

  • 21a. [State of constant worry?] NO RELAXATION (… relation).
  • 36a. [Mom and Dad get the plane to the gate?] FAMILY TAXIES (… ties).
  • 50a. [Stationery resembling linen?] FLAXY PAPER (fly …).
  • 72a. [Giving kooks Brazilians?\ WAXING NUTS (wing …).
  • 87a. [Fabric of interest to the 65 Down?] TAXABLE CLOTH (table …). Boo on mixing theme and ballast clues.
  • 106a. [Self-cutting grass and just-add-water topiary, to name two?] GARDEN HOAXES (… hoes). Cute, mixing crossword staple HOE with the AX theme.
  • 3d. [Charmed old Englishman?] FORTUNATE SAXON (… son).
  • 46d. [Exciting finishes near the equator?] WARMER CLIMAXES (… climes). Fittingly, the final themer.

Not a scintillating theme, but it functions well enough. Its insubstantiality unfortunately makes the shortcomings more prominent. Most notable to me were the floppy entries: 19a [Like some paintings] ON A WALL, 8d [Off] NOT ON, 18a “I COME in peace”. A less egregious tier would include BOSC PEAR, RESALT, KLEPT-, KWON (103a, 114a, 115a, 44a). And what to make of the unnecessary duplications? 18a I COME followed by 19a I, ROBOT, with the added 82d [“Mr. Robot” creator Esmail] SAM; 6a [Eye candy pictures] PIN-UPS crossing 6d PIX? 68a [Social wingding] SOIRÉE stacked on themer W{AX}ING NUTS? E-READER and the uncommon E-BOAT (110a, 62a)? 32d [Rear end] WAZOO so close to 48d REAR? 75d [Cold War pieces] NUKES equally close to 46a WAR? How about the clues which, at least to me, seemed inaccurate: 34d [Broken in] TAME (vs ~Broken, in a way~), 86a [Sort of strong] HULKY (vs ~Sort of ponderous~), 56a [Without equal] SOLELY (vs ~By itself~)? Note that my alternatives are merely suggestions and not absolutely definitive corrections.

The sheer quantity—I haven’t cited them exhaustively—of these perceived detractions overshadowed whatever real enjoyment I could extract from the crossword. Disinclined to report the highlights, out of enervation and APATHY (40d).

Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 01.15.17

Good day, everybody! Hope you’re all having a good Sunday on the way to a holiday Monday with MLK Day.

We had a very fun Sunday Challenge on our hands today, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, sprinkled with touch of ELEGANCE (15A: [Refinement]). I wasn’t 100 percent sure which letter would go after “agent” in AGENT K, but knew the first five letters were correct (4D: [Brolin’s “Men in Black 3” role]). Also was thrown off because I haven’t seen MIB 3 yet, so was thrown off a bit seeing “Brolin” instead of “Jones” or “Smith.” Yes, I’m (way) behind in my MIB watching. Was fun seeing TELENOVELA in the grid, and was on to that immediately when seeing the clue (3D: [Spanish soap?]). For about a few months while I was in college, I watched telenovelas in my dorm room while taking a Spanish class to see if I could become better at speaking and understanding Spanish. It did work, but then the class ended and I stopped watching the shows, so my Spanish is a bit (a.k.a. very) rusty. As you might know, I’ve been working on my French over the past year or so, so seeing CIEL (34A: [Sky, in Versailles]) and CAHIER turned out to be educational for me (46A: [French notebook]). Also refreshing to see in the grid is the neologism DOXXED, which I’ve only seen used on the Internet but have never heard someone actually say in person (16A: [Made public someone else’s private info]). I don’t think I’m signed up for any subscription service right now due to the fact that I can get it AD FREE (9D: [Like some premium streaming services]). As a matter-of-fact, I think I deleted Pandora from my phone because of the ads played and that I wouldn’t pony up to get my stream ad-free. Yup, I’m a cheapskate.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HEINIE (47D: [Tush]) – Old-time Major League Baseball player HEINIE Manush was one of the top outfielders of the 1920s and 1930s, winning an American League batting title with the Detroit Tigers in 1926 and ending his career with a .330 batting average and 2,524 hits. He also played a role in one of the most memorable moments in MLB history. During the 1934 MLB All-Star Game, New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell, after allowing the first two batters to reach base in the game, struck out five of the greatest hitters of all time – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin – in succession. One of the two players to reach base at the beginning of that game was Heinie, who drew a walk immediately before Babe Ruth stepped to the plate. Just in case you’re wondering, his given first name was Harry. Manush was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veterans Committee.

Thank you once again for the time, and I’ll see you all tomorrow! Have a great rest of your Sunday!

Take care!


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24 Responses to Sunday, January 15, 2017

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Excellent Sunday, IMO. I love the twist in the theme, and like JF’s type of humor.

    • huda says:

      PS. I was glad to see ACA in the puzzle. It can still be clued in the PRESENT TENSE… Sadly, not for long— FUTURE (IM)PERFECT is looming.

  2. xepia says:

    The one self-driving “OTTO” truck I had been aware of before reading Amy’s review today was Uncle Otto’s Truck from Stephen King’s short story (1983), so to me the company’s name choice makes it downright creepy.

  3. Lise says:

    Eww. I am never ever ever eating another fig… At least, not from any of our local fig trees. Although I do love that the woman in the fig wasp video has an aloe plant growing out of a boot.

    Loved the NYT.

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT was well constructed & thoroughly enjoyable. My only nit is that DIESEL FUEL was clued as if it were part of the theme.

  5. David L says:

    I liked the WaPo puzzle but I thought “SPARED NO EXPENSE” didn’t quite fit, since the clue refers to how the phrase is used in a literal and straightforward way, whereas in the others there’s a twist in the meaning.

  6. Martin says:

    Clever straightforward theme in today’s NYT. It’s always hard to come up with good themes like this. The difficulty-level seemed pitch-perfect too.

    However, I think I’ll pass on Pannonica’s informational session today… since I do give a fig about figs, and would like to continue eating them from time to time ;)


    • pannonica says:

      The knowledge shouldn’t dissuade you.

    • Lise says:

      pannonica is right; if I’ve been eating bugs all my life, why be dissuaded now? Perhaps they’re even healthful. It was just kind of a shock at first. But I’m over it. Thanks for the information.

      • pannonica says:

        Including insects (selected species) in our diets is demonstrably healthful, and incredibly less stressful on the planet’s ecosystems. But… vertebrate-based proteins are pretty darn yummy, hard to relinquish the habit completely. And no reason to. A more sensible apportionment as part of our intake would go a long way to increasing sustainability.

        • Martin says:

          We’re fine eating invertebrate proteins, as long as they’re from crustaceans. The insect thing is purely cultural.

          Anyone who’d like to sample a truly tasty insect dish should head to the nearest Oaxacan restaurant and order the chapulines. This snack of fried grasshoppers is ubiquitous in Oaxaca and every restaurant with an Oaxacan menu will have them along with the moles. (That means chili, nut and spice sauce, not lawn pests.)

          Chapulines taste somewhat like shrimp, but are served with lime and spices that make the whole dish very tasty. It’s really hard to justify loving shrimp but detesting grasshoppers when they’re just as tasty.

          • pannonica says:

            I’ve had good inago more than once.

            More specifically, they are both arthropod proteins. Other types of invertebrates we eat include molluscs and, less commonly in the West, cnidarians and echinoderms.

          • Martin says:

            You forgot the arachnids. Also, some brachiopods are eaten in parts of Asia. Centipedes are eaten in Thailand so we have to add the Myriapoda (or at least Chilopoda).

            I recognize that, except for the brachiopods, we’re piling on more arthropods but we might as well be explicit.

          • pannonica says:

            I was attempting to be as broad as possible without itemizing unnecessarily. Good call on the brachiopods, though.

  7. Phil says:

    What’s the pronunciation change in RELATIVE CLAUSES?

    • Zef says:

      I was curious about that, too. I pronounce the word “clause” exactly the same as “Claus”. That’s why they made a movie called “The Santa Clause”, because they rhyme. Perhaps Amy pronounces “Claus” in the German style, with a hard S?

      I’ll take this opportunity to plug a book I’ve been reading called “Words on the Move” by John McWhorter. He spends a lot of time discussing regional vowel shifts and other pronunciation differences, and I discovered in the process that I have inherited my parents’ California accents, as demonstrated by my pronunciation of Sean and John as rhyming, whereas he insists they don’t rhyme for him. He keeps mentioning the difference between an “ah” (used in John) and “aw” sound (used in Sean), but there simply isn’t a distinction for me.

  8. Armagh says:

    RE: NYT. Reeks of dust and mildew. The theme could have run 10, 15, or 20 years ago.

  9. Huda says:

    Erin: love the photo with the kids. I’m a sucker for little ones… I have a 4 month old grandson, and hearing him laugh is enough to lift my spirits no matter what else is going in…

  10. Margaret says:

    Andy, thanks for identifying CHEDDARBOXES in the LAT because even ten minutes wasn’t enough for me to figure it out. I thought perhaps it was supposed to be a play on “shadow boxes.” Otherwise I enjoyed the puns. I kind of hated the clue for SLAGS, and I also objected to DRAC as a nickname for Dracula, but those are my only nits to pick.

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