Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT tk (Gareth) 


NYT  (untimed) (Jim Q) 


WaPo 11:33 (Erin) 


Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword, “Having Nothing On”—Jim Q’s write-up

New York Times solution, 4/9/17

Love me a Byron Walden puzzle… but this is not at the top of my favorites of his. I feel like I’m missing something. The title “Having Nothing On” with -OON added to common phrases doesn’t really evoke much excitement. In fact, I confess that I’m not quite sure how the title relates to the theme… but I’m a couple of beverages deep as I’m about to go see “Groundhog Day: The Musical,” so perhaps I’m not on my A Game.

Theme Answers:

28a. [The ladies-only Western-themed bar I own?] MY GAL SALOON. It’s right across from Byron Walden Pond.

30a. [Inspector Clouseau or Borat?] MOVIE BUFFOON. I’d venture to say that “Borat” satirically labelled Americans as buffoons more so than that particular title character.

39a. [Decoration in a deli case?] SAUSAGE FESTOON. This made me giggle. Then again I was a fan of OPIE (111-across of Opie and Anthony) in my early twenties. I’ve grown out of that phase. But hey… Still willing to giggle. That being said, I don’t think Opie has the same longevity as other shock jocks.

57a. [Product of a stable comic strip artists?] HORSE DRAWN CARTOON. Put this in when I realized CARRIAGEOON wasn’t gonna fit.

65a. [Scaled-down woodwind?] SMALL MOUTH BASSOON. This was the first themer I figured out. And it’s an adorable visual.

85a. [Audibly upset Belgian francophone?] WAILING WALLOON. Please excuse my ignorance as I look up the definition of “walloon”: (n.)  a member of a people who speak a French dialect and live in southern and eastern Belgium and neighboring parts of France.

97a. [Satirical depiction of the story of Noah?] FLOOD LAMPOON.

100a. [Most important mounted cavalryman?] MAIN DRAGOON. Not overly familiar with the term “Dragoon” either.

28d: [Something seen at Frankenstein’s birthday party?] MONSTERS BALLOON. Not only is this the funniest of the answers, but it (impressively) manages to bisect all of the other theme answers. That’s no small feat of construction.

This was pretty tough for me, and the realization that MONSTERS BALLOON cut through all themers wasn’t fully realized or appreciated until- well- just now. Instead I was caught up on some hard-to-swallow fill.

I’m just starting to get a friend of mine into crosswords, and she solved this with me. It’s kind of a turn-off to tell someone “That’s a word you’ll come to learn if you keep solving…” over and over and over. SUPE, ERTE, ADAIR, AGAR, ASTR, ECRU, ODEON, ACTA, ARGOS, IMAMS, UPDO, ARON, CDT just to name a few. And then there’s tough-to-infer entries that I can’t even say I’m used to seeing such as ULA, INDA, KENDO, SPLEENY, AEREO, and VACUA (which sounds like a cleaning machine invented by a certain legendary vampire).

Heck, I bicycled through BEREA, Kentucky last summer on a cross country tour (the first populous town after a week of struggling through rural Appalachia), and I still couldn’t parse that easily.

So imagine you’re new at solving crosswords, and you have someone coaching you through it and justifying fill like this, and the payoff is -OON at the end of entries. Is that person likely to appreciate the impressive layout of MONSTERS BALLOON? I’ve surveyed one person… and the answer is “no.”

Still, it wasn’t without some highlights:

23d. [Quick series of social media posts] TWEET STORM. Hmm… I can’t think of anybody who is foolish enough to start a TWEET STORM and risk the chance of looking a bit silly and juvenile. Can you?

62d. [Apt to go Democratic] BLUE LEANING. Nicely juxtaposed with TWEET STORM.

61d. [2004 Scarlett Johansson film adapted from “Lady Windermere’s Fan”] A GOOD WOMAN. Part of me can’t help but think this is also juxtaposed with TWEET STORM. Yes. I realize I’m looking a bit too deep.

22a. [Home for Bilbo Baggins] HOBBIT HOLE. Had HOBBIT TREE. I’ve neither seen nor read any of The Hobbit series (or Star Wars for that matter)- and I’m fully aware that I may be ostracized from Crossworld for such a bold confession. But I feel like I’ve gotten the gist of both movie/book series from solving.

Fill left me wanting. Two wrong squares for me on LARUSSA / AEREO cross (thought it was
LARUSSO) and VACUA / ACTA cross (assumed it was ACTS).  3.6 stars from me on the theme layout. 2.4 stars for fill. Nonetheless, continued respect for Walden.

**Groundhog Day is pretty damn good by the way. Trumps the movie imho. Great theater in NY currently, but don’t overlook this one if you’re in the area!

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Making a Change” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo solution, 4/9/17

Change a vowel sound theme here, from long A to a short A:

  • 23a. [Shop that only sells merchandise of martial artist Jackie?] CHAN STORE (chain store)
  • 25a. [Digital article of clothing?] FINGER PANTS (finger paints)
  • 41a. [Donkey that enjoys the nightlife?] ASS OF CLUBS (ace of clubs)
  • 55a. [Enlightened bigmouth, e.g.?] KNOWLEDGE BASS (knowledge base)
  • 65a. [“Those making boaters will keep doing what they do no matter what I do?’] HATTERS GONNA HAT (haters gonna hate)
  • 79a. [Way of saying “Wow!” to a “Shakespeare in Love” Oscar winner?] DAMN JUDI DENCH (Dame Judi Dench)
  • 99a. [Ones doing public relations for a wet blanket?] SNOW FLACKS  (snowflakes)
  • 114a. [One cutting up muffin stuff?] BRAN SURGEON (brain surgeon)
  • 118a. [Command to your feline to give you a smooch?] KISS ME CAT (“Kiss Me, Kate”)

Most of these are pretty clever. ASS OF CLUBS and “DAMN, JUDI DENCH!” elicited full-out laughter from me. Then there’s HATTERS GONNA HAT. Evan used this phrase once before, in a 2015 Something Different puzzle (a type of crossword where a lot of the entries are made up but plausible) on his Devil Cross site. I totally fangirl-flailed over it back then, and I’m still flailing over it now. It’s ridiculous and I love it.

Other stuff:

  • 33a. [Having pointed ends] CUSPED. I had to spend an extra minute finding my error because I had CUSPID.
  • 111a. [French writer France] ANATOLE. Probably should have heard of him before. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921.
  • 46a. [“Between the World and Me” author Ta-Nehisi ___] COATES. Absolutely a book worth reading.

Until next week!

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Get Over It” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 4/9/17 • “Get Over It” • Quigley • bg • solution

Long and longish entries proffer the letter sequence GET and, below each instance, the letters IT.

  • 22a. [Grove plant] ORANGE TREE.
    27a. [Thingies] ITEMS.
  • 24a. [All-out effort] COLLEGE TRY.
    29a. [Gives 10 percent] TITHES. Cute pairing.
  • 47a. [Town collector] GARBAGE TRUCK.
    53a. [Drummer’s drums] KIT.
  • 61a. [“Star Trek” star] GEORGE TAKEI.
    69a. [How cafe may be served] AU LAIT.
  • 75a. [It might be taken overseas] PACKAGE TOUR.
    81a. [Quicker with puns] WITTIER. Debatable.
  • 89a. [It starts after the 45th minute in soccer] STOPPAGE TIME.
    95a. [Lance on the bench] ITO.
  • 116a. [Book you can’t put down] PAGE-TURNER.
    120a. [Condo, e.g.] UNIT.
  • 118a. [Bag ID] LUGGAGE TAG.
    123a. [Writer Calvino] ITALO.

The GETs consistently span two words, the ITs—appearing as they do in shorter entries—inhabit single words. See also 52a [Deuce topper] TREY.

  • 59d [Certain magnolia] SWEETBAY.
  • 55d [Some golf championships, casually (abbr.)] PGAS, wherein PGA stands for … Professional Golfers’ Association. 106d [ grp.] NEA, which stands for … National Endowment for the Arts.
  • 72d [“Darby __ and the Little People” (’59 Disney film)] O’GILL. I think this is the one where Sean Connery sings. Or maybe he doesn’t sing and I’m thinking of Paint Your Wagon, where Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin, among others, sing.
  • 37a [Hades river] LETHE. Did you forget this one? It’s the river of oblivion. Styx: hate, Acheron: sorrow, Phlegethon: fire, Cocytus: lamentation. Cheerful, no? By the way, I recommend Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books.
  • 94a [“Space is the Place” jazzman] SUN RA. But let’s go with something more conventional this Sunday morning:
  • Favorite clue: 5d [Catcher of malaprops?] YOGI.
  • 10d [Massage technique] FOOT RUB. Is that a ‘technique’?
  • 42d [Blu-ray’s granddad] VCR. My first instinct was to ponder if there was a three-letter rendering for LaserDisc.
  • 79a [Painter Franz] KLINE.

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22 Responses to Sunday, April 9, 2017

  1. janie says:

    hey, jim — i read the title of the nyt as “having nothing [0] + o-n” — so each themer gets that additional “-0on.” stretchy, but accurate…

    and… where the musical of groundhog day is concerned (and the movie v. the show), “i second that emotion”!


  2. Chukkagirl says:

    Okay, the crossing of VACUA and ACTA is just cruel. And SPLEENY? Just…no. Pretty fun puzzle otherwise, but I’d agree, some of the fill is still beyond me. Still scratching my head on CDT.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      It’s Central Daylight Time because the Cardinals play in St Louis during daylight savings time. Presuming that we’re talking about the baseball team & not the (college or pro) football teams.

    • MattF says:

      Yeah. SPLEENY should be SPLENETIC. A humourous adjective.

  3. Nene says:

    The zero/letter ‘O’ conversion is generally frowned upon. Surprised to see it so boldly employed in theme title: Having Nothing On.

    • pannonica says:

      Ya, it’s more of a cryptic crossword thing.

    • Martin says:

      Actually, it’s a convention that’s fair game, but some editors use it more than others. The late, and very missed, Henry Hook, for example, used zero crossing O and one crossing I fairly often. Will Shortz doesn’t employ it as often, but it’s something to be alert for as it can appear at any time.

  4. David L says:

    Not a fan of this one. SPLEENY? DOMINATORS? Plus a lot of names, many of which I didn’t know — ADAIR, MANNY, BAVIER, OPIE (the one from Mayberry, yes, but not this character).

    Also, SUPE is a very NYC thing, I think. I live in a condo and there is no one called a superintendent.

  5. Martin says:

    I hope everything is back to normal with the Today’s Puzzles links. Getting AT&T to fix their screw-up took 15 phone calls to four different groups and almost a week! What a nightmare it’s been.

    I foolishly accepted a “click here” offer to upgrade my U-Verse internet speed. Ninety seconds after opting in, my internet, TV and phone went dead. Tech support said everything looked good on their end and it would be two days before they could get someone out to look into it. They refused to reset my speed back because “it wouldn’t make any difference.”

    Two days later, a tech comes out and tells me I’m too far for that speed and he needs to set me back. When he’s done, my fixed addresses for links like these (“static IPs”) are broken. I needed a new block of static IPs. Then began the real nightmare. I was advised to use the pay support gurus (“TechConnect”) who charged me $50 to tell me my static IPs were broken and that’s not their area. They told me to call regular Tech Support. Four times, I told them I needed a new static IP block and they told me they would reset my modem and before I could explain it wasn’t a modem problem, they reset it and killed the call (which uses the internet they just reset). Each time I’d have to call back and start over with a new agent. In between call three and call four, AT&T reset my line back to the higher speed so I had to schedule another call with the on-site tech to set it back.

    I eventually escalated the call twice (the first “special” tech reset my modem again) and got to the “Escalation Department.” The first agent wanted to reset my modem, but I threatened to do her harm and calmly (at least that’s how I remember it) explained that AT&T broke my static IPs and needed to assign me a new block. She went off to “research” the problem. 24 hours later, another agent called me from the Escalation Department and asked if my problem had been solved to my satisfaction.

    I took a deep breath and explained that my static IPs needed to be refreshed and nobody seemed to understand what that meant. But miraculously, she did! She typed a few things into her computer and — reset my modem. But this time she did a factory refresh, which would be needed if the static IPs were changed.

    She never called back and it took another 24 hours to confirm I had a new block and what that block was, but the nightmare was over. I then had to change the DNS entries that map and other domain names to a new static IP, and that took a little time to propagate through the DNS system so the links would work for everyone.

    I hope this saga explains why things were broken for a while, but I really think it’s behind us. Keeping my fingers crossed, anyway.

    • MattF says:

      Fwiw, I’ve had somewhat better luck getting problems fixed at bricks-and-mortar stores than by talking over the phone to Customer Service. In any event, it’s fundamentally less frustrating– you’re talking to an actual physically real human being who you can get back to if all else fails.

  6. Martin says:

    Links should be back and stable. I explained the saga of the last week in a post, but WordPress called it spam.

  7. Patti says:

    Where’s the LA Times? Too early for answers?

  8. JohnH says:

    To me it was just one bit of junk fill after another, and one of the worst puzzles in memory. On crossings, you omitted EDWARD_ and BEAT or BEST. But the rest was no better.

    • Marycat says:

      Totally agree. SAUSAGEFEST was unfamiliar so hated SAUSAGEFESTOON. CDT should be time for Cardinals home games, not setting. Also hated VACUA/ACTA, TURN TO GOLD (I’ve only ever seen this re: King Midas), SPLEENY, SUPE (should be SUPER), RWY, ENL, ON TOE (NOT a ballet word), and just plain bad cluing for FEUD (rhubarb = argument?), OPIE (with an Aunt Bea clue crossing it!) and NORMA (an opera no one ever heard of). And WALLOON? A Belgian Francophone? Are you kidding me? Absolute dreck. Like the emporer who, HAVING NOTHING ON, proves to be a big built-up fake, this puzzle made me turn my eyes away in embarassment. NYT, shame on you.

  9. artlvr says:

    NYT: I enjoyed this one… BEREA was familiar because my mother employed two girls every summer who were students at Berea College, when we were children. Berea is the only one of America’s top colleges that awards every enrolled student a no-tuition promise. For those who need further help, they have various work programs like the summer postings we offered.

  10. Joan Macon says:

    This is getting monotonous. Where is the LAT????????

  11. PH says:

    Being a believer in the adage “If you can’t say something nice. . .”, I almost didn’t post this. But this NYT puzzle was so inexcusably wrong on so many levels that I had to chime in. My margins were full of “Icks,” “Huhs?,” and “Whos?,” and the weak, unimaginative theme didn’t begin to justify them. I don’t know how something like this gets published ANYWHERE. Most of my nits have been covered in the posts above, so there’s no need to list them, but the bottom line for me is, when a puzzle makes solvers ANGRY repeatedly while solving it, it should not be published. Period.

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