Thursday, January 19, 2017

BEQ 9:17 (Ben) 


CS tk (Ade) 


Fireball 7:11 (Jenni) 


LAT 4:13 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:22 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Victor Barocas and Andy Kravis’s Fireball crossword, “Curses!”—Jenni’s write-up

FB puzzle 1/19, solution grid

Today’s theme answers feel a little bit like Tom Swifties. It’s just a feeling – they’re not actually Tom Swifties. They are lots of fun. Each one is a two-word phrase in which the first word is clued as a cuss word; the clues sound exasperated.

  • 17a “Our baseball team would have won if the pitcher had gotten one more ___!” = FREAKING OUT.
  • 11d “Those mosquitoes would have left us alone if we had remembered our ___!” = BLASTED OFF.
  • 27d [“Passengers would have such a better view on a flight if the cockpit weren’t in the ___!”] = BLOODY NOSE. A Britishism. Is “bloody” still a serious curse word across the pond?
  • 58a [“Bill Clinton would have had a hairball-free Oval Office if it hadn’t been for that ___!”] = DARNED SOCKS. I dropped “cat” in at the end of this, which bollixed me up for a bit.

This is an original theme, well-executed, and each entry made me giggle. It’s been a dreary day, and this puzzle made it better. Thanks, guys.

A few other things:

  • 9d [Term of address in a parental scolding] is YOUNG LADY. Raise your hand if you’re hearing that in your father’s voice in your head. Just me?
  • 13d [Paintball players’ mementos] are WELTS. Could someone explain to me how that’s enjoyable?
  • 39a [Bagel and a schmear, perhaps] seems like more than a NOSH to me. In my family, a NOSH is less substantial – some radishes, maybe, or a bissel herring.
  • I was able to fill in two entries in this puzzle because of things I’ve learned from my husband over the years: a [“Righty tighty, lefty loosey” item] is a SCREW and [Supergroup that went through a long breakup?] is PANGAEA. The latter was a supercontinent that broke up approximately 200 million years ago to give us the seven continents we now have. Before PANGAEA, there was Rodinia. I’ll take plate tectonics for $500.00, Alex.

Hmm, what shall I pick for “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle?” I have lots of choices today. I could ask Steve Manion to explain what a BLIND bet is in poker. I could explore the film Locke, which apparently takes place almost entirely inside a BMW. I think I’ll give a shoutout to Ade with sports will make you smarter: I did not know that PELE won the World Cup at 17.

Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 19 17, no 0119

The theme is 36a. [Liability for a political candidate … as depicted four times in this puzzle?], CHECKERED PAST. The four little checkerboards in the grid have four seemingly unchecked white squares—but each set of four spells out PAST clockwise. Clever! My only dispute with the theme is that November 8, 2016 put the lie to the clue. You’d think a checkered past was a political liability, but …

The grid has left/right symmetry, which I didn’t notice till I added my solution grid to this post. I focus more on what’s in the white squares than on where the black squares are.

Eight more things:

  • 13a. [Top secrets?], TOUPEES. We would also have accepted WEAVES.
  • 15a. [Plant with fragrant leaves], TEA TREE. My husband bought a tube of toothpaste that contains tea tree oil, which is aggressively fragrant! Pass.
  • 30a. [George who sang “I Want Your 7-Down”], MICHAEL. Imagine if there were a pop hit that included a clue number in the title.
  • 48a. [Ring], TOLL. As in a bell tolling or ringing. Until I realized that PAST circled the middle of each checkerboard, I was drawing a blank on how to complete *OLL.
  • 2d. [Awful], HORRIFIC. That word comes to mind a lot lately.
  • 4d. [Economic benchmark, briefly], CPI. Consumer Price Index, yes?
  • 52d. [Source of the Amazon], PERU. I never really thought about where the Amazon began. Apparently the source of the White Nile remains unclear. How on earth can that be??
  • 44d. [“The most unexpected of all things that happen to a man,” per Leon Trotsky], OLD AGE. Ha! Today, I had a doctor confirm my birthdate but he added 10 years. That was unexpected … but if I were 10 years older, I have to admit I’d look damn good for that age.

I don’t love all of the fill here, but it didn’t make me grouchy while solving. Four stars from me.

Ian Livengood’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Political Coverage” — Jim’s review

Ian Livengood is one of my favorite constructors because he consistently delivers fun, well-crafted puzzles. This one’s no exception.  In truth, it’s just a list theme, but it’s timely  and interesting and expertly constructed.

65a is [Oval Office honcho], aka POTUS, and 38d then has us finding the [65-Across ID employed by the Secret Service, and what each starred answer is], i.e. CODE NAME. In other words, we’re looking for the Secret Service CODE NAME of various recent presidents.

Early on, I suspected the numbers in the brackets were hinting at presidents, what with the puzzle title and the event occurring tomorrow. Once it was revealed that I was correct and that we were looking for CODE NAMEs, I thought, “What a great idea for a puzzle. Why didn’t I think of it?” I was genuinely looking forward to finding the answers and trying to guess which presidents they went to and why? Were you able to figure them all out? Here they are with the presidents they belong to and my guess at why.

WSJ – Thu, 1.19.17 – “Political Coverage” by Ian Livengood

  • 18a {*Bill Walton, in the 1970s [43]} TRAILBLAZER. George W Bush. Reason: Known for clearing brush at his Crawford, TX, ranch, I guess. (Bill Walton played hoops for the Portland Trail Blazers from ’74-’79.)
  • 23a {*Ski slope bump [45]} MOGUL. Trump. Reason: Obvious. (For a list of funny alternatives originating in the twittersphere, see this link. My favorites: “Comrade” and “POUTS”.)
  • 36a {*Chew toy material [40]} RAWHIDE. Reagan. Reason: Appeared in numerous westerns.
  • 56a {*”Slumdog Millionaire” studio [37]} SEARCHLIGHT. Nixon. Reason: No idea, but for a president who engaged in a cover-up, this one’s ironic.
  • 3d {*1979 Styx hit [44]} RENEGADE. Obama. Reason: Apparently, he got to pick his from a list of names beginning with R.

AS A BONUS, we get one First Lady thrown in with the boys. 41a reads {Her 38-Down was “Springtime”}. This turns out to be MAMIE Eisenhower.

Interestingly, MOGUL doesn’t have a symmetrical partner in the grid and neither does POTUS, yet they’re both five letters long. Either Ian really wanted to keep the MOGUL/RENEGADE crossing (obviously, POTUS can’t cross CODE NAME at the correct letter), or else he just wasn’t getting good enough fill when he put MOGUL where INCAS is at 4a.

For completion’s sake, here are the other presidents, going back to Eisenhower:

  • Bill Clinton – Eagle (Hillary – Evergreen (maybe she’s jealous?))
  • George H.W. Bush – Timberwolf
  • Jimmy Carter – Deacon
  • Gerald Ford – Passkey
  • LBJ – Volunteer
  • JFK – Lancer
  • Eisenhower – Scorecard or Providence

If you want still more, here is the Wikipedia page. And here is a Time listicle of “11 Great  Secret Service Code Names” from 2012.

And that’s as much as I want to think about tomorrow’s activities. Moving on…

Despite all the theme material, we get nice entries like PRESS BOX, AS A BONUS, AMAZONS, ANAHEIM, and MINORED. And yet, there really isn’t anything scowl-worthy, except maybe ANAG. This is a very clean grid!

But being Thursday, clues are tricky. So I have a few more than usual clues of note:

  • 1a {John Landis Mason’s creation}. JAR. This one stymied me even after I got it. Then it clicked. Mason jars.
  • 11d {Any of nine won by Madonna}. RAZZIE. Per Wikipedia, this makes her the actress with the most Razzies ever. She’s won for her (lack of) acting chops and (questionable) songwriting ability.
  • 22a {On the ___ (carousing)}. RAZZLE. I’m cool with {___-Dazzle}, but I’ve never heard of the given clue. Sounds old timey. Yup, Google Ngram Viewer says it peaked around 1932.
  • 17a {Fawn, e.g.}. TAN. Colors. New to me. Never heard of fawn as a color.
  • 46a {Sibelius, e.g.}. FINN. No way I’d’ve gotten this. Jean Sibelius is a composer whom I don’t know. Kathleen Sebelius is Obama’s former HHS secretary whom I do know (of) but is not Finnish.
  • 47d {Milky Way component}. NOUGAT. Lovely clue. Time for a candy break.

Entertaining puzzle all around.  See you next week.

Kurt Krauss’s LA Times crossword – with input from Gareth

LAT • 1/19/17 • Thu • Krauss • solution

The theme is revealed at HIDDENCAMERA, but I kind of wish it was a titled puzzle called “Swallow the Camera”. Anyway, the letters in camera can be found out of order spanning three two-word theme answers: D(REAMCA)TCHER, DAN(CEMARA)THON, and T(RACEMA)TERIAL. I always feel a little underwhelmed, as the theme is so, well, hidden. The theme choices are above average. I didn’t know TRACEMATERIAL, but it Googles well.

Not much more to add. A pox on OOLA, who is fancruft not fill. RIGHTONTIME is not a 1989 dance pop hit, though you’d be forgiven if you thought it was.

3.5 Stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Repeat the Ending” — Ben’s Review

A late night at work and a growing head cold may have hindered when my review went up, but here we are: BEQ’s Thursday puzzle.  This week’s edition is “Repeat the Ending”, and with that in mind, it was easy to figure out what was going on with this puzzle jam-packed with themers:

  • 18A:*Tackle an Internet joke? —
  • 32A:*Ballet gear for an alien? — ET TUTU
  • 47A:*”Hey there, poodle!”? — HI FIFI
  • 63A:*Make a flightless bird happy? — PLEASE DODO
  • 3D:*Provides food for “Africa” rockers? — CATERS TOTO
  • 30D:*Laud actress Neuwirth? — PRAISE BEBE

It’s nice to have a puzzle that CATERS TOTO your particular wheelhouse of dad joke-ish phrases, so PRAISE BEBE for this puzzle.  PLEASE DODO let it be known in the comments if you felt the other way.

Some of the 3-letter fill in the middle section was a little lackluster, but I generally liked the grid.  I’m going to go load myself up with some more theraflu, so I’ll leave you with that for now.

3.75/5 stars

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20 Responses to Thursday, January 19, 2017

  1. Pete M says:

    I thought the whole upper left was horrific. Maybe it’s just me. “Of a piece”?? Wtf is that?

  2. Lise says:

    In the 1980s I had invitation stationery that said “I’m having a RAZZLE” and gave places to enter the date, etc. I think I confused a lot of people who responded with “I’ll be there, but what should I bring to a razzle?”

    I, too, was confused by OFA piece.

  3. Glenn says:

    There seems to be a problem with downloading the .puz version of the WSJ puzzle.

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    “Of a piece” is very familiar to me. My mother used to say it – “it’s all of a piece,” meaning it all lines up or goes together.

  5. pannonica says:

    NYT: Strangely, you might say of me, my first attempt at 2d ––RRIFIC was TERRIFIC. In the competition between pessimism and etymology, pessimism lost.

  6. Noam D. Elkies says:

    “Imagine if there were a pop hit that included a clue number in the title.” — one Google search later I found that Ben Folds wrote a song called “One Down”. I have no idea (and, as usual, no reason to care) whether that counts as a “pop hit”. . .


  7. Zulema says:

    I still don’t know what SEX has to do with this George Michael or Michael George 30 across. But it’s another Thursday puzzle solved for me, used to be a rare occurrence. Guess I’m getting better in my old age.

  8. Phil says:

    “On the Razzle” is a play by Tom Stoppard that was turned into a 1983 movie.

  9. Giovanni Pagano says:

    Wow woah, the saltiness knows no end today, eh kids??? What do you think of it Mr. Smothers?

    (Pretend I have a sock puppet)

    Absolutely disgusting~

    Thanks Mister Smothers! Bye kidsssss!

  10. Norm says:

    Am I the only one who confidently entered FALSIES for TOP SECRETS?

  11. Joan Macon says:

    Well,the LAT comments are today’s, but the grid is yesterday’s. It’s getting to be a real pain having the LAT entries so often wrong. I know it’s not your fault, Amy, who shall we blame?

Comments are closed.