Thursday, May 11, 2017

BEQ 9:08 (Ben) 


Fireball 4:53 (Jenni) 


LAT 3:17 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:40 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

The time is correct for filling in the puzzle. It took me a while longer to figure out the theme.

All the long theme answers are cross-referenced to another clue, with no other information given. Luckily, they’re all gettable from crossings. The connection between the long answers and the cross-referenced shorter answers eluded me for some time.

NYT 5/11, solution grid

  • 20a [See 8-Down] is VEGETABLE GARDEN. 8d [Comfortably inviting … or, phonetically, a clue for 20-Across?] is HOMEY. That connects to vegetable garden….how? Hmm.
  • 29a [See 27-Down] is MODEL AIRPLANE. 27d [Somber … or, phonetically, a clue for 29-Across?] is GLOOMY. So the long answers didn’t appear to have anything to do with each other. I was still lost as to the connections.
  • 58a [See 50-Down] is LOST OPPORTUNITY, and 50d [Commodious … or, phonetically, a clue for 58-Across?] is ROOMY. This is where the light finally dawned for me, and it was the last area I filled in. If a LOST OPPORTUNITY could talk, it might say RUE ME. Aha!

So looking back at the other two, the MODEL AIRPLANE might say GLUE ME and the VEGETABLE GARDEN might say HOE ME. It’s very Alice-in-Wonderland.

I really like this theme. It required a fair amount of thought even though it wasn’t hard to solve. I don’t remember seeing anything like it before, and it’s the kind of wordplay I really enjoy. Lots of fun. Thanks, Tim and Will!

A few other things:

  • 18a [Biblical wife of Elimelech] is better known as Ruth’s mother-in-law of “whither thou goest” fame. She was NAOMI.
  • 26a [Test done in pre-op] is EKG. They forgot to add “most often unnecessarily.”
  • 37a [Subject studied at Hogwarts] is SORCERY. Did they actually have a class in SORCERY? The Harry Potter Wiki doesn’t list it, but it’s all sorcery of one kind or another. I keep waiting for Accio coffee to work. No dice.
  • 35d [Dead reckoning?] is a very clever clue for ESTATE TAX.
  • I also liked 49d [Leading man?] for ALPHA, although I entered ACTOR at first, ignoring the question mark.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Raskolnikov’s SONYA is spelled with a Y.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 106”  – Jenni’s writeup

I think that’s a personal best for a FB themeless. It just all fell into place clockwise, bing bang boom.

Things I noticed:

FB solution grid

  • 1a [Hub of Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines] is KATHMANDU. I filled in the first three letters and the last one, because I never remember where the H goes. I also used Google to confirm that Yeti Airlines actually exists. Unlike the Yeti itself.
  • 12d [Cloverleaf triangles] was not obvious until I filled in some of the crossings. The answer is YIELD SIGNS, of course.
  • 7d [Portmanteaus, e.g.] are not luggage, but NEOLOGISMS. As you probably know, portamanteau words are created from two other words combined together. “Podcast” is a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast.”
  • 42a [One-piece beachwear] is MONOKINIS. A monokini is distinguished from a standard one-piece suit (a maillot) because from the back it looks like a two-piece. I did not know this until I had a fashion-forward daughter.
  • 63a [Apt name for a cardiologist] was obvious but I was initially stumped. I forgot that HARTE can take an E on the end.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that TREEBEARD is the oldest of the Ents.

Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Over-Under” — Jim’s review

ALEX (14a) is back with a tricky bit of construction.

The revealer at 59a urges us to find the answer to this poser: [How life is like the ocean, or a hint to entering the starred answers]. Answer: IT GOES UP AND DOWN. Not only is that the answer, but we have to take it literally. Each theme answer is a phrase with two ITs. The first one goes up, the second one goes down.

WSJ – Thu, 5.11.17 – “Over-Under” by Alex Eaton-Salners

  • 17a [*The Taj Mahal, for oneWORLD HER(IT)AGE S(IT)E. This makes for an impressive grid-spanner
  • 27a [*Acerbic humor] B(IT)ING W(IT)
  • 37a [*Swing both ways] SW(IT)CH H(IT)
  • 46a [*Artistic toy that glows in the dark] L(IT)E BR(IT)E. Fun entry. We played with one of these a lot when we were kids.

It took me quite a while to suss out exactly what was going on, even though this is pretty much what I expected after looking at the title. Nicely conceived and executed.

And looking at my color-coded grid, the amount of constraints on the grid is quite high. So it’s mildly surprising that Alex still fit in some fun non-theme entries like DATE NIGHT, ABALONE, ICELAND, and LASER GUNS. This last one’s clue [Speed trap devices] gave me pause though. Have police mostly moved on from radar guns to laser guns?

Of course, there are some sacrifices to be made. I’m looking at XOUTS especially, and OLETA crossing SEE A. My first guess to the clue [Singer Adams with the 1991 song “Get Here”] was BRYAN, but that was way off. I don’t recall ever hearing the name OLETA, but I certainly have heard the song. (See below for the video, and if you’re interested, click through to read some of the youtube comments for an idea of what the song meant to a number of deployed soldiers.)

One entry that really caused me consternation was 43a [Heaps]. I tried TONS then LOTS then A TON and finally A LOT. This entry’s proximity to the theme answer above it made resolving it more difficult than 54d, which ended up being A TON.

But despite a couple of sticky bits in the grid, this was a fun theme executed well. Good puzzle.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Going Underground” — Ben’s Review

I got way too cocky when I had most of the grid filled in on today’s BEQ at 5:00 on the clock, thinking I’d be setting a new record.  Then I realized something funny was up with the bottom and quickly lost that nice head start as I finished it (and the revealer) up:

  • 35A:So-called shadow government that can’t be overthrown, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme— DEEP STATE
  • 37D: Be buddy-buddy (with) — PAL AROUND
  • 38D: Case worker? — INSPECTOR
  • 40D: Creatures that can turn you to stone — BASILISKS
  • 41D: Renée Fleming or Plácido Domingo, e.g. — OPERA STAR
  • 42D: It’s doesn’t quite sound the same — NEAR RHYME
  • 43D: Step from A to B, say, on a scale — HALF-TONE
  • 49D: “Full ___” (Samantha Bee’s show) — FRONTAL
  • 52D: Famous Marquis — DE SADE
  • 53D: Candy that comes in milk chocolate, peanut, and pretzel (among others) — M AND MS
  • 54D: Manager Anderson in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame — SPARKY
  • 57D: Octavia Spencer’s Oscar-winning role in “The Help” — MINNY
  • 59D: Throat dangler — UVULA

This was a fun theme once I realized what was going on (and actually, you know, read the title of the puzzle).  It’s not visible in the screenshot above, but each of the state abbreviations is “deep” below the final gridline of the puzzle.  This was pretty well-executed, fill-wise – this sort of theme often seems rife with common fill but this was nice and fresh, for the most part.

(we’re apparently on an all-Paramore’s new album kick here at BEQ Thursday Review Station)

4/5 stars

Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

I really hope I’m missing something with this theme. It’s a rather arbitrary list of things that stick: EPOXYRESIN, FRIDGEMAGNET, POSTAGESTAMP and CHEWINGGUM all have the quality of stickiness and… Am I missing something? Cos that’s not much of a theme.

The grid design is highly compartmentalised and chunky. It utilises a lot of high value letters, but rarely is it in the aid of interesting answers. There is a small town USA theme going on with TAOS (+-5,000), BARSTOW (+-20,000) and SAGINAW (+-50,000). At least the last provides an earworm.

NCIS is a [CBS maritime drama] sometimes, although they’re adept at only going to sea a few times a season! Curiously, one of the most watched shows of our time, yet it seems to have little “pop culture impact” as it were.


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13 Responses to Thursday, May 11, 2017

  1. Armagh says:

    I see the resident BEQ troll has returned, rating his work with one star before the puzzle is posted. Really?

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Seriously. I liked that puzzle!

    • David L says:

      It too me longer to figure out the trick in the BEQ than for the NYT, and I had to make an educated guess at the full answer to 57D (I think there’s only one plausible solution).

      Also, the clue for 43D seems wrong to me, although one of our resident music theorists may know better.

      • Bruce N Morton says:

        You’re right. A half tone would be from A to B flat;That would normally be called a half step, except that the word “step” had already been used in the clue.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Jenni, it’s funny that you explain a time under 5 min on a Thursday… I guess my synapses were never that fast and they’re not getting any faster…

    I agree that it took a while for the penny to drop. And it did not help that I had some wrong entries– e.g. chigNOn in lieu of TOPKNOT. But it’s a cute concept. NAOMI feels like it echoes the theme…

    Lots of misdirections, e.g. SCAMS…

    Good Thursday work out…

  3. Andrew says:

    Another solid AES puzzle today in the WSJ…that’s becoming a nice trend.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      It is indeed. And this may be the quickest anyone has gone from newbie to three-letter-acronym status.

  4. Ethan Friedman says:

    Loved the NYT. Cute theme, nice fill

  5. Scott says:

    Thanks Jenni. I had to read your post to understand the NYT. Now I realize that I should have figured it out myself. Thanks.

  6. David L says:

    I liked it — but there’s a card game called SPIT? I hesitate to think what it might involve…

  7. Mark says:

    Good NYT and WSJ. I am glad that I “rolled the dice” on solving these — that’s a phrase I just created meaning took a chance. I hope it catches on.

Comments are closed.