Wednesday, February 8, 2017

AV Club 8:17 (Ben) 


CS 7:29 (Ade) 


LAT 3:33 (Gareth) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Ned White’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 8 17, no 0208

The theme revealer is 55a. [Opening at the post office … or, when read as three words, a hint to the answers to the starred clues], LETTER DROP. (Not sure I’ve seen that term before. Mail slot, maybe?) Read the answer as “let -TER drop” to explain the theme, as the other four theme answers are made by chopping -TER off of phrases of varying familiarity.

  • 16a. [*Great Plains plaints?], PRAIRIE OYS. What’s a prairie oyster? It’s an absolutely repellent cocktail containing a whole raw egg. Thumbs down on pluralizing the interjection OY.
  • 24a. [*”Get Silverstein on the phone now!”], GIMME SHEL. “Gimme Shelter.”
  • 29a. [*Command like “Let me be direct: Get lost!”?], STRAIGHT SHOO. Straight shooter.
  • 38a. [*Cramps from posing too long?], PORTRAIT PAIN. Is “portrait painter” a solid enough term to base wordplay on?
  • 46a. [*Teach Dick and Jane’s dog new tricks?], TRAIN SPOT. Trainspotter is a British term.

Not a big fan of this theme.

What else have we got?

  • 1a. [Bottom topper?], TALC. Don’t load up your bits with talc, people. Try corn starch powder instead.
  • 26a. [Caterpillar’s Illinois home], PEORIA. Not for long! Caterpillar’s moving its headquarters to the Chicago area because business travel in and out of Peoria is a pain in the butt.
  • 52a. [Like refrigerators, at times], RAIDED. What? No. Clue this as a dang past-tense, active-voice verb.
  • 6d. [Watts of “The Impossible”], NAOMI. Just saw that movie (about a family’s surviving the Indian Ocean tsunami) last week—it’s well made.
  • 7d. [Bottomless pit], ABYSM. I assume pretty much everyone filled in ABYSS and had to change it when that final S didn’t fit the crossing.
  • 12d. [TV’s “Remington ___”], STEELE. That show ended 30 (!) years ago. 39d. [Former Dodge], OMNI? The car went out of production 27 years ago. It smells musty in here.
  • 48d. [Hall’s partner in pop], OATES. The other Oates, Joyce Carol Oates, has a new novel out.

2.8 stars from me. Delighted by CHIMERA but little else.

Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Binge-Watching” — Jim’s review

I love the gimmick in this one. We haven’t gotten off the couch since the Super Bowl, and we’re binge-watching back-to-back episodes of certain TV shows. But maybe we’re math nerds, and we only watch shows with numbers in the title. (Numb3rs need not apply.)

WSJ – Wed, 2.8.17 – “Binge-Watching” by Samuel A. Donaldson

  • 17a [Back-to-back episodes of a Dick Van Patten dramedy?SIXTEEN IS ENOUGH. Eight is Enough. I would think sixteen would be too much.
  • 22a [Back-to-back episodes of a Neve Campbell series?] PARTY OF TEN. Party of Five. Or pickup line “Party often?”
  • 40a [Back-to-back episodes of a Jon Cryer sitcom?] FIVE MEN. Two and Half Men. Ha! This one got me. I had gotten the conceit from the previous entries, and I didn’t recognize the actor’s name immediately. Once I did think of the show’s title, it took me just that extra half-second to realize I needed to do the math. Fun a-ha moment.
  • 52a [Back-to-back episodes of an ABC News program?] FORTY/FORTY. 20/20. Another fun entry.
  • 58a [Back-to-back episodes of an HBO drama?] TWELVE FEET UNDER. Six Feet Under.

Show about novocaine addiction on a Philadelphia basketball team?

As an extra point of elegance, all of the shows are ones where the number is typically spelled out as a word (as opposed to those with numerals, as in 2 Broke Girls), with the exception of 20/20. But it was a fun entry, so it gets a pass.

Can you think of other shows that fit this category (preferably where the number is spelled out)? Hawaii Five-O makes an interesting case. Would it be Hawaii Ten-O or Hawaii One-O-O?

Beyond the theme we have quite a comedy of ERers: CREEPER, CAPPER, CASPER, RASSLER, SPOONER (there’s your FIVE MEN right there). Oops, and TWEEZER, too.

ST TROPEZ I like, EFOR not so much (though I admit to using it in one of my own grids). I thought the PCS / CHIA crossing was overly tough; anyone get stuck there?

Clues of note:

My daughter gettin’ all gradjeeated at ELY Cathedral last June

  • 18a. [Cathedral city of Cambridgeshire]. ELY. I know it’s crosswordese to everyone else, but it isn’t to me. My daughter’s high school graduation was held at ELY cathedral last June. (And yes, I will bring this up every time ELY is clued this way in a puzzle I’m blogging.)
  • 25d. [Plucking need] TWEEZER. That’s like saying, “Bring me a scissor.”
  • 33d. [Amy’s sometime co-host]. TINA. I believe this is referring to Amy Poehler and TINA Fey co-hosting SNL.
  • 46d. [Reverend known for “bird watching”]. SPOONER. That’s going a long way for a clue. I never heard of the good reverend, but his absent-mindedness led to his eponymous “spoonerisms.” I leave it as an exercise for the reader to find the spoonerism in the clue.

Fun puzzle, despite some peculiarities in the grid.

Peg Slay’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

STATIONBREAKS is a peculiarly American idiom, though one I am familiar with it. Here it means that words that satisfy “___ Station” are split across the beginnings and ends of four two-word phrases. Both the entries and the “station” phrases are all a little bland. We have: (FIR)STRAT(E), (SPA)NISHLA(CE), (P)OTTERC(LAY) and (B)LUELOT(US).

The five-part across theme and central 13 led to design challenges in the grid – evidenced in the big corners with starting “helper” square. GLAMROCK is the snazziest entry for sure, and it does cross two themers. MATIN and FRIO are two higher end foreign vocab entries both found at the top.

2.5 Stars

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX crossword, “Billboard Headlines” — Ben’s Review

It’s BEQ’s turn at the AVCX helm, with a fun little puzzle featuring some common phrases turning into urgent headlines featuring your favorite musical acts*:

  • 18A: BREAKING: “Barracuda” band escalates its feud with Deep Purple, launching offensive — HEART ATTACK
  • 24A: LOOK: “Bohemian Rhapsody” band, sales slumping, releases list of belt-tightening measures — QUEEN SACRIFICE
  • 37A: EXCLUSIVE: “Low Rider” band will achieve global harmony forever with new single — WAR TO END ALL WARS
  • 46A: WATCH: “Kiss” artist hypnotizes crowd in never-before-seen footage
  • 55A: CLICK NOW: Arthur Lee’s band confirms that no one in the band can see — LOVE IS BLIND

I thought this was cleverly done, and liked the consistency of the theme phrases – knowing the band’s name was always at the beginning helped me crack a lot of the rest of these with the crossings.  That said, Prince being charming isn’t news – have you seen footage of the man?

A few other quick notes:

  • 10A:Noted Eurovision Song Contest winner — ABBA (Other notable winners: Celine Dion, Lordi.  It’s like BEQ wrote this clue just for me)
  • 16A:Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore’s daughter — COCO (this is such a BEQ clue)
  • 44A:Variety TV show that I was once on, for short (my band the Boston Typewriter Orchestra was voted off the first night) — AGT (That would be America’s Got Talent.  Make America Ready For Typewriter Orchestras Again)

4/5 stars

*musical acts featured not guaranteed to be your specific favorites.  Don’t @ me.

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “All Dressed Up” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.08.17: “All Dressed Up”

Good afternoon, everybody. I hope you’re doing well and, if you’re in the New York City area, I hope you’re enjoying the 60-degree weather! (Enjoy it now, since about six inches of snow is projected for tomorrow.) Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Doug Peterson, involves phrases in which the first word also happens to be, when excluding its “-ed” suffix, an article of clothing.

  • BELTED TIRES (17A: [Durable Goodyear products])
  • COATED ASPIRIN (24A: [Stomach-safe pain reliever])
  • VESTED INTEREST (37A: [Group reaping benefits])
  • VEILED THREATS (47A: [Subtly menacing gestures])
  • SLIPPED DISK (58A: [Painful back problem])

Had a chuckle seeing ASSASSINS in the grid, as I always remember my high school global studies teacher, when once asked how to spell the word assassinated, said to my fellow student, “ASS,” “ASS,” “inated” (34D: [Professional offers?]). You can’t spell assassins without having a couple of asses around. Also, I was just thinking about an ALLEN wrench a couple of days ago when I thought I had to replace the shower diverter at my place and how to do that myself (13D: [_____ wrench (L-shaped tool)]). I guess ÉPÉEISTS is a change from having to see “epee” once every other day in a crossword (38D: [Masked combatants]). When I first saw that clue (to épéeists), and saw who created the grid, I thought to myself “Will ‘LUCHADORES’ fit?” (Luchadores is the termed used for the mask-wearing wrestlers who originate from Mexico.) Fun grid to do, and the next graph details one of the most entertaining teams I ever got to see in person, back in 2013.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GULF COAST (3D: [Area that’s part of Hurricane Alley]) – One of the most memorable Cinderella runs in NCAA Tournament history came in 2013, when Florida GULF COAST University became the first No. 15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16, defeating No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State in Philadelphia in the first two rounds. What made this team capture the imagination of sports fans everywhere was they style and flair they played with, as the numerous alley-oop dunks they executed during their run earned them the nickname “Dunk City.” Here’s visual evidence, from that NCAA Tournament run, as to why they earned that moniker.

Thank you all for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Take care!


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16 Responses to Wednesday, February 8, 2017

  1. Penguin Jackson says:

    Liked the theme and revealer, thought it well done and clever, but can’t say I enjoyed the puzzle. Could be I expect NYT Wednesdays to be breezes and this one didn’t really cooperate.

  2. Jason Koley says:

    I, too, quite liked the NYT theme. I can’t have been the only one to have ‘abyss’ then see the ‘gimmer shel’ answer and change it to ‘chasm’ thus giving myself unnecessary headaches…also, never heard the term ‘prexy’ before.

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: Prairie oyster is also what the completely different bivalve-free Rocky Mountain oyster may be called in Canada. (16a)

    There’s another OATES (Warren), but he died way back in ’82, pre- Remington STEELE and pre- Dodge OMNI. That’s the year H2O was released. (48d)

  4. Bruce N Morton says:

    “Prexy” is a common breezy abbreviation for “president,” at least in academic circles.

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      So I’ve seen claimed. I’ve been in “academic circles” for 30+ years and don’t recall every running across “prexy” outside crosswords. Maybe my academic circles have the wrong 17D:RADII.


      • Papa John says:

        I’m with you, Norm. Fifteen years in academia and I can’t recall coming across PREXY. Of course, personal experience really doesn’t count, does it? We need one of those Ngrams that pannonica comes up with to get a fair appraisal of a term’s commonality.

        • Nina says:

          Prexy is one of those old-timey words. Like from a 40s movie.

        • pannonica says:

          As per your request, Norm. This one didn’t require any fancy operations. Keep in mind that Ngram searches a corpus of printed material (i.e., physical books, periodicals, and so forth). As Nina suggested, its heyday was the 1940s. But there is a curious minor uptick just before the turn of the new century.

  5. Andrew says:

    A very odd Wednesday from the nyt, felt like swimming against the current. Prexy and abysm were particularly frustrating.

  6. Bruce N Morton says:

    I like Remington Steele, which I enjoyed watching, and Omni much more than all these frantic attempts to be modern and trendy. I have no idea who Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore are, and I don’t think I’ve heard of any of BEQ’s lastest Rock bands he mentions.

    • Ben Smith says:

      I’d hardly call Heart (formed 1973), Queen (1970), War (1969), Prince (first album as a solo artist released 1978), and Love (formed 1965) _modern_ at this point (or even Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore’s band Sonic Youth, which formed in 1981, for that matter). BEQ tends to skew a little indie-r in the puzzles on his own site, but the bands chosen here felt accessible and well-known enough for a wide range of solvers.

  7. Bruce N Morton says:

    Spooner: word botching. This illustrates the frustration non-native English speakers have trying to figure out the sometimes non-existent connection between orthography and pronunciation: e.g. herd, bird, curd, word . . .

  8. Alan D. says:

    Just did tomorrow’s WSJ puzzle and I think people are going to like it!

  9. Bruce N Morton says:

    My humble home town of Amherst MA appears, or shall we say is featured in, BEQ’a themeless Monday #402. It is clued as the place where Dinosaur Jr. was formed. I have trained myself that whenever the is a clue which is weirdly incomprehensible there is probably a Rock group lurking, and this is apparently no exception.

  10. Zulema says:

    I found the NYT a terrible puzzle. The TER may have been dropped but the actual entries were true groaners. Sorry to be so negative. Nothing cute about the resulting word combination.

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