Wednesday, March 22, 2017

AV Club 5:05 (Ben) 


LAT 3:36 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:49 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Jeffrey Wechsler’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

Jeffrey gets literal and Latinate with us today.

Three theme answers:

NYT 3/22, solution grid

  • 21a [Kid’s transport, literally] is CYCLECYCLECYCLE, or three cycles, or a tricycle.
  • 39a [Graph section, literally] is RANTRANTRANTRANT, which is four rants, and that’s either the President on Twitter, or it’s a quadrant.
  • 60a [Military headquarters, literally] is GONGONGONGONGON, which is five “gons” or a pentagon.

I like this theme. It’s fun and amusing and very straightforward; I don’t remember seeing anything like it before (doesn’t mean there wasn’t something like it, just that I don’t remember it). I’m not sure what makes this a Wednesday puzzle instead of a Monday or Tuesday, but that’s OK. I enjoyed it.

A few other things:

  • 2d [Cold War threat] is RED CHINA. I tried to make it RED SCARE and that didn’t work. Isn’t China still red?
  • 4d [Big brand of kitchen knives] is CUTCO, which I know because several of my friends put themselves through school selling them.
  • Crossing playwrights, different eras, with ODETS and ENSLER.
  • 45a [Secret application, perhaps] makes good use of that stealth upper-case letter at the beginning of the clue. The answer is AEROSOL because we’re talking about Secret brand deodorant.
  • 47a [Nonmeat choices at a deli counter] isn’t cheeses, which left me a bit blank. The answer is PASTAS, and that’s not quite right to my ear. The deli counter at our supermarket has only meats and cheese; the PASTAS and pasta salads are across the way at the prepared foods counter. The Rye Ridge Deli of my childhood served pasta, but it wasn’t displayed at the counter. I suppose I’m being picky, but I’m from New York and we take deli seriously.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that LIU had campuses in Brooklyn and Brookville. It was nice to see that clued without reference to Lucy.

I leave you with the Secret commercial I remember from childhood. And I wonder why I’m in therapy.

Lynn Lempel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Solve in Ink” — Jim’s review

I don’t recall coming across Lynn’s byline here in the WSJ before, but I was glad to see it. You know you’re in for a smooth and breezy grid when her name graces a puzzle.

This is no exception. At first it looks like a simple Add-a-K theme, but it’s tighter than that. “INs” are changed to “INKs” in each of our theme answers (hence the title). Simple, yes, but humor wins the day, and the modifications are effective.

WSJ – Wed, 3.22.17 – “Solve in Ink” by Lynn Lempel

  • 17a [Song from a one-named singer with three Grammys?PINK NUMBER. PIN number. Yes, the N in PIN stands for Number, but fess up, we’ve all said the phrase at some point or other. Pink’s real name is Alecia Beth Moore.
  • 26a [Informant in the pool?] SWIM FINK. Swim fin. No wonder I can never win at Marco Polo!
  • 41a [When flirting is inappropriate?] NO-WINK SITUATION. No-win situation. Can we still nudge…or play footsie?
  • 51a [Clickable reference to some Yucatan natives?] MAYA LINK. Maya Lin. Clever and cute. (Speaking of LINK, have you started playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild yet? It’s pretty incredible and is currently #8 on the Best Video Games of All Time list.)
  • 65a [Lizard’s coffee additive?] SKINK CREAM. Skin cream. This is the one that won me over. I love skinks! So much so that I wouldn’t be AVERSE to watching a SKINK FLICK.

Fill-wise, there’s plenty of good stuff to go around, both long and short: PUNCH BOWL, BIATHLETE, GERBIL, HABITATWALTER, SIESTA, and even KNISH, “HIT IT!” and AMIGA [Commodore computer introduced in 1985]. Way back in 1986 when I was pondering what to do with my summer job money, it was between a Mac and an AMIGA. I chose Mac. *wink*

Very little to moan about unless you want to go after the partial IS A or acronym HHS.

One clue of note: 10d [“Infinity” neckwear]. SCARF. I’d never heard the term but was able to make an educated guess thanks to my wife’s occasional use of scarves.

On the whole, not an original theme to this puzzle, but it’s executed professionally. A clean grid and humor go a long way to make this one a winner.

Aimee Lucido’s AVCX crossword, “Multiple Interpretations” — Ben’s Review

Hey, it’s ACPT week!  I’ll be at the competition for my fifth time, attempting to do better than I did last year and (hopefully) score one of those sweet, sweet Class D trophies.  Today’s AVCX felt like a nice little warm-up puzzle, with some straightforward themers that reflect the “Multiple Interpretations” title:

  • 20A:Countless people shaking hands after the game, win or lose? — EXTREME SPORTS
  • 34A:Scores of baby goats? — CRAZY KIDS
  • 45A:Ample April effective rate? — STUPID TAX
  • 55A:More levels than anyone can keep track of? — UNTOLD STORIES

Maybe I’m missing the forest for the trees, but I think that’s it in terms of this week’s theme?  Just some standard double definitions?  Pretty clean fill, even with lots of three-letter answers; it’s nice to see a new clue for LOGAN other than my local airport here in Boston, and I always welcome the chance to post some LCD Soundsystem.

Some other fill I liked this week: OTTO the Syracuse Orange (my bracket was broken before I started it), IGLOO coolers, EL SOL, SKYY Vodka (which I totally couldn’t afford in my student days), TRIX (the only cereal they reverse card you for at the store), and some Pollock-esque SPATTERS in the lower right.

See you at the tournament, hopefully!  Say hi!

3.75/5 stars.

Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

TRIPLEPLAY is an offbeat, and possibly unnecessary, revealer to the puzzle. Each of five phrases begins with a word consisting of three of the same vowel alone; this is paired with a vowel progression. So: BANANAPEEL, SEVEREDAMAGE, ROCOCOART (the ART part feels like padding for the sake of theme, if defensible), and CUMULUSCLOUD.

A couple triple helping of long downs keep the fun going, despite the constricted grid: full name ALICEMUNRO, soon to be played THEMASTERS and SHUTEYE. There is also a Moby Dick mini-theme with CAPN/AHAB and PELEG.

3.5 Stars

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28 Responses to Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  1. Andy says:

    Did anyone else have NINER [Figure of the underground economy]/NSEC [Brief period in nuclear physics: Abbr.] today instead of MINER/MSEC? Any thoughts on whether that might constitute an alternative solution to the puzzle? I concede that MINER is the best answer for the across clue, but plenty of NINERs were MINERs.

    • Andy says:

      In case it’s not clear, these are the NINERs I mean:

    • Scott says:

      I did as well!

    • MattF says:

      Me too. I’m a physicist and I can tell you that MSEC is, at best, misleading. Here’s a Wikipedia list of isotope half-lives, which spans 54(!) orders of magnitude:

    • Sheik Yerbouti says:

      I had the same “error.” NINER/NSEC still seems like a reasonable answer to me.

    • Cyrano says:


    • Lise says:

      At first I thought MINER was fair, because the clue referenced below the ground; at least, that’s how I interpreted it. Then I thought about the song (Clementine) and the miners-forty-niners, so NINERS seems eminently plausible. And I agree that a MSEC is an incredibly long time in nuclear physics, as well as electronics. An amazing amount of things can happen in a millisecond.

      So I think that the cross fails, or at least ought to have different clues.

      I knew ENSLER from my days as a bookseller. Never heard of CUTCO, though. So the NYT was a mixed bag for me.

    • Mark McClain says:

      Never saw the Forty-niners referred to as “Niners”, unlike the SF PROS who hopefully have nothing to do with the underground economy.

      • Papa John says:

        That’s my take on NINERS, too. Furthermore, most Forty-niners panned for gold.

        The clue for 10D is “Brief period…”, not briefest or briefer. By any0ne’s standards, nuclear physicist or not, a millisecond is definitely brief. Is there nothing in physics that can measured in milliseconds? How about eye blinks?

        I’m not buying any of this argument.

        • David L says:

          Of course there are things in physics that are measured in milliseconds. Or millions of years, for that matter. But the clue referenced nuclear physics, and the timescale for typical nuclear reactions is 10^-20 seconds, give or take an order of magnitude or two. So a millisecond is a very long time.

          And there’s nothing in nuclear physics, as far as I’m aware, that has a characteristic timescale measured in milliseconds. The bottom line is that there’s nothing about nuclear physics that says “milliseconds.” It’s a gratuitous and inaccurate reference.

  2. Yes, Andy … and for completeness, I also consider PINER/PSEC … assuming that the former might be creating pine coffins for burial underground.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Clever theme, but the fill was laborious in many places. Too many intersecting names and the the above cross with various alternatives.
    I think of ERROR TERM as a variable. Not sure that ERROR on its own can be defined as a variable… Maybe I’m in error here…

  4. David L says:

    As others have said, the clue for MSEC was not good. In nuclear physics, a millisecond is a long time. I also didn’t care for ANOMIE as “severe malaise.” For one thing, malaise usually means a medical condition, and there’s nothing in the clue to indicate it’s being used metaphorically to describe a societal condition. For another, ‘severe malaise’ almost qualifies as an oxymoron, in that malaise is characterized by a set of vague and ill-defined symptoms.

    It was nice to see some good scientific terminology and cute cluing in Monday’s puzzle, but today’s is a reminder of how clueless the NYT puzzle generally is on anything science-related.

  5. Joe Pancake says:

    NYT: An alternative clue for 60-A could be “Opening line of a theme song that will get stuck in your head and drive you crazy if you have a four-year-old son who frequently watches a badly translated show about a cartoon dinosaur.”

    Gon, Gon, Gon, Gon, Gon, …

  6. Scott says:

    NYT. I forgot to mention…nice pattern with the oversized grid. Theme entries were 15 (3×5), 16 (4×4), and 15 (5×3) letters long.

  7. Francis says:

    The AVCX theme is slang words that mean “a lot of” (as “multiple” does, less slangily).

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Jenni said the NYT constructor was getting Latinate with us. TRI- is both Latin and Greek, while QUAD- is Latin and PENTA- is Greek. So there’s actually a 50/50 balance of Latin and Greek prefixing here, which is much better than having two Latins and one Greek.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      True. I should have said “classical.” My bad.

    • Tim in NYC says:

      I was thinking the logic is that we say triangle, quadrangle and pentagon. I’ve never heard anyone say quinquangle, although the word is in the OED (“rare”). Weird-sounding and hard to pronounce.

  9. Lise says:

    AVCX: I had to look up Squad GOALS afterward, and I only sort of get it. I’ve never heard anyone say it.

    The puzzle was fun, though, and I like the clues that reference the constructor and the ones that not only reference but also elaborate on another clue/answer (like the MAINE/IOWA cross-reference).

  10. lemonade714 says:

    NYT- I enjoyed the creativity of a fresh, early week theme. It fascinates me that in an oversized puzzle, the debate is about M-SEC vs. N-SEC. How about WINER/ W-SEC?

  11. Norm says:

    Gareth, You left out BIKINI TOP from the LA Times themers. A nice novel use of vowel progression. And I thought TRIPLE PLAY was great reveal since it is THAT time of year. At last!

Comments are closed.