Thursday, February 2, 2017

BEQ 6:06 (Ben) 


CS 9:00 (Ade) 


LAT 4:51C (Gareth) 


NYT 4:07 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball contest this week; write-up on Sunday night.

Alex Eaton-Salners’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 2 17, no 0202

I’m pretty good at typing backwards, so this played like an easyish Thursday puzzle for me. The Across answers are spelled normally, from left to right, at first. After 20a BACK TO FRONT, the Across answers are to be entered into the grid backwards, with the Downs behaving normally. Then you hit 33a FORWARD HO, and the Acrosses go forward again. Until 39a IN REVERSE shows up and you enter Acrosses backwards. And then 50a LEFT TO RIGHT restores the Acrosses to their usual behavior.

The first reversed answer I hit was 24a. [Part of a bomb], ESUF or FUSE. It was so wildly unwordlike, and the crossings so clear, that I put two and two together without much agita.

Five more things:

  • 20a. {How a book in Hebrew is read [watch out now!]}, BACK TO FRONT. Uh, that can’t be right. It’s too Roman-alphabetocentric. A book in Hebrew, I’m guessing, has the front cover to the left of the spine rather than the right, and you’d place it front side up with the spine to the right side instead of the left. Right? So you pick that book up and you read the lines from right to left, but that right side is the front. Am I right?
  • 25a. [Language in which “hello” is “annyeonghaseyo”], NAEROK or KOREAN. Remember the Korean character on Arrested Development, whom the Bluths blithely called Annyong because they mistook his greeting for his name? Obtuse.
  • 61a. [Like some moussed hair], SPIKY. Not sure how much spikiness you’ll get with mousse. Isn’t spiking usually accomplished with hair wax, pomade, hair paste, or a strong gel.
  • 45d. [James Parkinson or Alois Alzheimer], EPONYM. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are named after them.
  • 9a. [Idle laughter source?], ERIC. The clue doesn’t work, because Eric Idle’s first name is not a “laughter source.” But who doesn’t love Eric Idle?

There’s a fair amount of blah fill, but the pushmi-pullyu back-and-forth solving mostly kept my mind off it. Four stars from me.

Peter A. Collins’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Breaking Bad” — Jim’s review

Theme answers do double duty as you re-parse and repeat them to make wacky phrases.

WSJ – Thu, 2.2.17 – “Breaking Bad” by Peter A. Collins

  • 17a [Dish’s-reflection-really-highlights-a-certain-facial-feature state?] CHINAWARE. More specifically, CHIN-AWARE CHINAWARE. Or is it CHINAWARE CHIN-AWARE? I’m not really sure. That’s a really tortured clue to lead things off. Also, is CHINAWARE an actual phrase? I’ve only ever heard of people referring to their nice dishes as “china.”
  • 21a [Really wow an archery fan?] BOWLOVER read as BOWL OVER BOW LOVER. This one works the best I think. It’s easy to parse and makes sense.
  • 26a [Hubcaps and fenders featuring paintings of goldfish?] CARPARTS read as CARP-ARTS CAR PARTS. Not as good as the previous one, but not bad.
  • 49a [Hallway stands’ canned laughter recordings?] HATRACKS read as HAT RACKS’ HA TRACKS. This pushes the limits of plausibility. A hat rack with a laugh track?
  • 56a [Slalom aids forgo bullfight cheering?] SKIPOLES read as SKI POLES SKIP OLES. And this one bursts through and tramples the limits explored by the previous one. This soured me on the whole enterprise.
  • 62a [Headlining boxer’s tirade about Bar Harbor?] MAINEVENT read as MAIN EVENT MAINE VENT. Meh. It’s okay, but not enough to overcome the previous one.

I’m all for wordplay and wackiness, but it has to make sense. 49a and 56a went a little too far for me. Still, an attempt to try something different is always a good thing, so kudos on that front! And some of it really did work well, so I guess I can safely say my feelings are mixed.

And what of the title? “Breaking Bad”? I guess it refers to breaking up the phrase in an incorrect way. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it meant “BREAKING BREA KING.” (Possibly clued as [Waterboarding Los Angeles royalty?].)

As for the fill, I liked SEWER RAT, ONION ROLL, CUP OF JOE (though it sounds more formal than “cup o’ joe”), FAKED IT, and MADONNA. I also like A-LEVEL [Brit’s secondary school exam], though I suspect most people won’t. WEB CAMERA would be good if anyone ever said it; usually it’s shortened to “webcam.” And I’ve never heard of a LAKE POET [Wordsworth, Coleridge or Southey], but as an English Major and someone who lived in England, I suppose I should have, eh?

Didn’t like EERO nor ERIS crossing ANIM and NTSB. I wonder if many people got stuck in that SE corner.

Clues of note:

  • 8d [They come three rows to a package]. OREOS. Of course, this depends on the packaging, but at least this is a new way to clue the old stand-by.
  • 19a [Where you might catch a large-mouthed bass]. OPERA. This clue made me LOL.

Overall, I like the attempt at inventive wordplay, but some of it missed the mark.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Political Songs” — Ben’s Review

I liked the idea behind this puzzle, even if I didn’t fully love the execution.  A few songs of note get a quick makeover to celebrate various Commanders-in-Chief:

  • 19A: Irving Berlin song about a President sharing his thoughts about a hotel? — PUTIN ON THE RITZ
  • 34A: Fine Young Cannibals song about how a President is annoying? — XI DRIVES ME CRAZY
  • 45A: Beastie Boys song about about causing self-doubt in a President? — SHAKE YOUR TRUMP

I liked this one more once I realized all the song changes weren’t about our president, but I also was trying to make the transformations all one-letter rather than changing a whole word each time.  It’s a quick little theme that may give you a little trouble if you’re not familiar with the songs, but I think only 45A was out of my immediate pop-culture knowledge (and wasn’t too hard to figure out in full once I had a few crossings

A few other quick notes:

  • A new clue for RHEA now that there’s an actress Rhea Seahorn on Better Call Saul!
  • “Code Red and Kickstart soft drinks” are both Mountain DEWS
  • IHOP now has a Philly Cheese Steak Stacker, apparently. *shudder*

3.5/5 stars

Chuck Deodene’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The revealer is a central SEEYA, interpreted as +YA. The most interesting metamorphosis was PAPA to PAPAYA, in PAPAYAJOHNS. The answers were arranged in a pinwheel, which is unusual for a letter addition theme. KENYABURNS, GOYAGETTER, and IRECKONSOYA round out the set.

The pinwheel is one of the least straining of grid designs, for a number of reasons. This meant for a clean grid with snazzy entries like DATENIGHT, GAMEON and DEJAVU.

I can’t say there were any clues which jumped out at me as particularly clever or fiendish. I did have pACECAR before RACECAR.

3.5 Stars

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Backtrack” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.02.17: “Backtrack”

Good afternoon, people! How’s your day? Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, features five theme entries, with the final word in each of the answers also, when standing alone, being able to precede the word “track.”

  • PHOTO ALBUM (17A: [Compendium of Kodak moments])
  • BRIDAL TRAIN (23A: [Maid of honor’s handful, perhaps])
  • ALIEN RACE (36A: [Klingons, Wookiees or Martians])
  • DESERT STORM (51A: [Gulf War code name])
  • PUGET SOUND (60A: [Inlet abutting Seattle])

Got out to a pretty fast start, but slowed down considerably towards the end, as it took a while before PULPIT finally popped in and I figured that clue out (6D: [Jack’s platform?]). Lots of medium-length fill to enjoy in the grid, with HAPLESS, ironically, giving me a chuckle (1D: [Like a schlemiel]). Probably laughed because reading the clue made me think of the theme song to Laverne & Shirley. For a while last year, I really got into watching rally car racing, and got to see a lot of CITROËN cars compete and was curious about those types of ATV rally cars (57A: [French automaker since 1919]). You’re telling me you wouldn’t want to be seen cruising down the street in this one day? I totally would!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KIM (9D: [One of the Kardashian sisters]) – One of the landmark boxing matches in the sports history occurred in Nov. 1982, when Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini took on South Korean boxer Duk-koo KIM in a 15-round lightweight title fight Las Vegas. Sadly, it’s remembered for being such a hard-hitting fight that Kim, who was knocked out in the 14th round, went into a coma minutes after the end of the match and died four days later after it was discovered he had a subdural hematoma in his skull upon arriving at the hospital. After that fight, boxing commissions made sweeping changes concerning boxer safety that remain to this day, including reducing title fights from 15 to 12 rounds, boxing rings featuring four ropes instead of three so boxers don’t fall through the ropes and out of the ring, and much more extensive medical checkups for boxers before fights.

TGIF tomorrow! See you then!

Take care!


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7 Responses to Thursday, February 2, 2017

  1. Jenni Levy says:

    I liked today’s puzzle a lot. You are right about Hebrew books; the front cover is where the back cover would be in an English book. RIGHT TO LEFT doesn’t fit, and at first I thought I was looking for a rebus. Once I got BACK TO FRONT the rest fell into place, and it didn’t bother me very much.

  2. Ethan Friedman says:

    Agreed on 20A, but the puzzle was so much fun I forgive it!

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    There seem to be two strings today, so I’ve migrated my comment over here:

    Alex’s NYT was a pleasure to solve. It had a nice trick and good flow. Of the backwards-written words, SPIV is also a legitimate entry, though not one I’ve seen in an American publication – it’s British slang for a working class schemer. I also enjoyed Peter’s WSJ, which had a well executed and fresh idea. It’s been a very good day so far for crosswords, including the Fireball.

  4. Jacksoon says:

    Never heard of president 11

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