Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 14:38 (Jim Q) 


NYT untimed (Jim Q) 


WaPo 11:42 (Erin) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Car Towing” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo 6/4/17 solution

Clever concept in which the word CAR is relocated from the “tow-away zones” (left-sided theme entries) to the “impound lots” of the right-sided ones:

    • 23a. [Climb atop director Brooks? (TOW-AWAY ZONE)] MOUNT MEL. Mount Carmel.
    • 25a. [Kindhearted model Electra? (IMPOUND LOT)] GENTLE CARMEN. Gentlemen.
    • 44a. Tirade about a board game with stones?] PENTE RANT. Carpenter ant.
    • 46a. [Engage in some proofreading one-upmanship?] DRUMPF CARETS. Trumpets.
    • 66a. [Steed stopper state?] REIN NATION. Reincarnation.
    • 68a. [What a revered beetle needs to become clean?] SCARAB BATH. Sabbath.
    • 85a. [Impatient cry to the first female Supreme Court justice when it’s her turn in Monopoly?] ROLL O’CONNOR. Carroll O’Connor.
    • 89a. [Way for a surfer to say “Cool!” to a mythical boy with wings?] RAD ICARUS. Radius.
    • 108a. [Flight that Harry Potter could take with his own personal hippogriff?] MAGIC PET RIDE. Magic carpet ride.
    • 112a. [Alarming show of approval?] SCARY NOD. Synod.

    There are also an IMPALA and a PASSAT in the NE and SW corners.

    Other things:

    • 8d. [Residents carry them] PAGERS. I still have nightmares about pager beeps and hospital monitor alarms ringing. Many physicians use their phones, but pagers are useful for situations in which several people need to be contacted at once.
    • 42d. [Actor-singer Crothers] SCATMAN. Music, film, TV, he did it all. I didn’t realize he was the voice of Hong Kong Phooey and of Meadowlark Lemon in the Harlem Globetrotters cartoon.
    • 117a. [Tea total?] TWO. “Tea for two and two for tea.” Cute!
    • 7d. [45 player?] BALDWIN. A reference to Alec BALDWIN’s recent recurring role on Saturday Night Live. I’m wondering how this was clued in the original Devil Cross version of this puzzle.

Until next week!

Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword, “Advice to Writers”—Jim Q’s write-up

When the byline says Tom McCoy, you’re almost guaranteed a fun solve. I don’t think there’s a puzzle he’s made that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed (excuse the use of contractions if you will, Tom).

NYT Solution Grid, 6/4/17, “Advice to Writers”

Fans of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style will appreciate today’s puzzle. Or maybe they’ll hate it (Ugh- I just wrote a fragment). Every writing tip that’s offered in the theme is broken within the answer itself.

Such as:

23-Across: NEVER GENERALIZE. Never, you say? Never?

33-Across: POOFREAD CARFULY. I’m guessing this was entry easy for Tom to tailor to proper symmetrical length.

49-Across: NO SENTENCE FRAGMENTS. Except for that one, of course. And although I teach this rule to my middle schoolers, it’s a writing tip I refuse to follow. Know the rules. Then break them.

68-Across: PASSIVES MUST BE SHUNNED. By whom? What’s the actual subject of this sentence? Nonetheless, you must shun passives. And maybe use a word less dramatic than shun when giving writing advice. It’s a bit pretentious.

85-Across: DON’T USE CONTRACTIONS. Okay. I won’t.

104-Across: AVOID REDUNDANCY. Finally! Some good advice that the constructor himself seems to take seriously! That is, until you get to…

118-Across: AVOID REDUNDANCY. This has to be the worst dupe I’ve ever seen in a crossword. How did Shortz miss this?

Tom is one of those constructor’s who clearly cares about the rest of the solver experience outside of the theme. The fill is remarkably clean for a 21×21 grid, and the cluing kept it lively.


If I were in a singles bar, this would be my way of saying “Swipe left, ladies.”

86-Down: [Homework lover, maybe] NERD. This might also be clued as One who is completing this crossword puzzle in a bar on a Saturday night (See pic- I’m livin’ large).

119-Across: [Like William Carlos William’s wheelbarrow] RED. I just started teaching my imagery unit to seventh grade yesterday using this poem.

46-Down: [Templeton from “Charlotte’s Web,” e.g.] RAT. Unintentional I’m sure, but I couldn’t help but think this was a nod to E.B. White as one of the contributors to Elements of Style. Anyone else overthink crossword entries from time to time?


97-Across: [Character that goes “waka, waka, waka…”] PAC MAN. Say, huh? I could’ve sworn it was a Sesame Street character. Also, no one plays PAC MAN. It’s MS. PAC MAN that everyone plays. Give the girl her due! *update at bottom of post

58-Down: [___ Day (June event, informally)] DADS. No. No one calls this DAD’S DAY and no one refers to it as an event either. Would’ve preferred a Modern Family clue or something else that hinted at the existence/acceptance of same-sex parents.

41-Across: [Got up there] AGED. Just today, someone asked me how old I was. I told him I was 36. His response: “I’m 50… so we’re not that far apart.” Sigh. Truth hurts.

67-Across: [Home to Ithaca, Athens, and Olympia]. I foolishly wrote in ULM– which makes zero sense- but the lack of abbreviation in the clue kept me from immediately writing U.S.A. Interested to hear if others think the clue should’ve suggested an abbreviation, or if U.S.A. is common enough that it’s unnecessary.

Every themer in this was clever and fun to uncover, and with solid fill, it’s hard for me to rate this as anything below 4.5 stars.

Great work, Tom!

*I was wrong on many accounts in my criticism of the waka, waka, waka… clue.

1) It’s a “Muppets” character, not “Sesame Street.”

2) He only says “Waka” twice.

3) Google autofills Pac-Man when you type in “waka” thrice… and Google always wins.

Please excuse my ignorance.

Jim Holland’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Product Expansion”—Jim Q’s write-up

Jim Holland’s puzzle today reimagines several company products if they were to “expand” (add on) to what they were already known for.

Theme Answers:

LAT Solution Grid, 6/4/17 “Product Expansion”

22-Across: HONDA ACCORDIONS [Automaker’s expansion into music?]. I wonder if they would change the sound of the car horn too while they were at it. It’d be hard to take a vehicle blaring polka seriously.

45-Across: HERSHEY BARBELLS [Candy company’s expansion into exercise equipment].

72-Across: DIXIE CUPCAKES [Drink container company’s expansion into bakery products?]. When I think Dixie Cups, I think of mediocre ice cream served with an awful miniature tongue depressor. Haven’t had one of those since I was perhaps eight years old, but the memory is distinct.

95-Across: TIFFANY LAMPREYS [Jewelry company’s expansion into fishing for delicacies?] Is lamprey a delicacy? This seems like a niche market for expansion! According to Wikipedia: On 4 March 1953, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation pie was made by the Royal Air Force using lampreys. That sounds like the worst pie ever. I’ll take apple.

122-Across: CLOROX BLEACHERS [Cleaning products company’s expansion into arena seating?]. Hope the spectators are wearing white pants.

14-Down: BIC PENDANTS [Writing implement company’s expansion into jewelry]. They’re probably taking advantage of the market since Tiffany foolishly decided to go into the lamprey business.

71-Down: SOS PADLOCKS [Kitchen supplies company’s expansion into security?] Is S.O.S. a company? According to its own webpage, it’s from the makers of Clorox. So this one seems like an outlier- perhaps even a semi-dupe.

The theme was fun enough- nothing too fresh, nothing too stale. Fine Sunday fare.

Nothing too noteworthy in the fill or its clues either. AGORA, IPANA, OCTO, ITAL, DORO, GTE, INOR, ELIA, SRA, ILE, and NEO all came to the party as they often do.

The only thing that I got hung up on for a bit was 35-Down PALMYRA [Ancient Syrian trade center]. My geography and knowledge of Social Studies is embarrassingly awful. I was hoping crosswords would fix this for me, but it hasn’t happened yet. Throughout grade school, my older sister had the same teachers as I… and she would file away all of her homework and tests  before storing them in the attic. Then two years later, I would open those files, memorize the test answers, and ace it. This only worked for Social Studies, because they’re the only teachers who never changed their curriculum or their test questions.

So in other words, I blame them.

Anyway when I saw  _ EA _ ENDS, my gut reaction was to fill in DEAD ENDS without reading the clue. That didn’t help my PALMYRA situation.

Puzzle did the job.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “You Can’t Do That in a Crossword!” — panNOnica’s write-up

CRooked • 6/4/17 • “You Ca’t Do That in a Crossword!” • Quigley • bg • solution

A collection of clichéd admonishments.

  • 23a. [“You can’t …”] HANDLE THE TRUTH.
  • 38a. [“You can’t …”] KEEP A GOOD WOMAN DOWN.
  • 54a. [“You can’t …”] FIX STUPID.
  • 56a/73a. [“You can’t …”] JUDGE A BOOK | BY ITS COVER.
  • 76a. [“You can’t …”] HURRY LOVE. See also 42d [“The Things We ___ Love”] DO FOR.
  • 87a. [“You can’t …”] GET BLOOD FROM A STONE.
  • 107a. [“You can’t …”] HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.


Must keep this brief.

  • New word to me, or possibly one long since forgotten: 11d [Extracted with a solvent]  ELUTED.
  • Didn’t understand 24d [Kayak purchase] TRIP until just now, recalling that it’s a travel website, and realizing the clue contains a masked capital. Still don’t understand 50d [Country “home,” maybe] IPOD.

I can’t … linger.

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21 Responses to Sunday, June 4, 2017

  1. GlennP says:

    Apologies for asking this again but I didn’t see any responses yesterday. I’ve used the Crosswords Android app for years to download, with the appropriate subscription and user name/password, the New York Times crossword. Suddenly, yesterday, that stopped working. I get an “error downloading puzzle” message.

    Is anyone else having similar problems? I’ve sent a message to the NYT support and got a response that could be interpreted as saying that one can only use the NYT apps. I’ve tried the Android version of that and it is so slow and cumbersome to use that it takes most of the fun out of doing the puzzle.

    • Jim Quinlan says:

      Might sound like a dumb question, but is your subscription current? I get that message once a year when I need to re-up.

      • Jim Quinlan says:

        Another thing I think you can do is download the file directly to your phone (rather than to the app itself), then try to open it through your app. I remember I had to do that back in my Android days. It added a few steps to the process, but…

    • David Glasser says:

      I’ve been having on and off trouble for weeks with the (Standalone) Crosswords Android app. I contacted their support and it did get better but not permanently.

      A tip: when it’s messed up, if I go to the NYT site or xwordinfo and click the puz link, I get the choice of opening in Crosswords or Chrome. If I select Crosswords it still fails but if I select Chrome it will download it and then I can add it from file in the app.

      It’s frustrating: the solving UX of this app is by far my favorite of any Android app I’ve tried but the puzzle management has always been weird and flaky. And of course the business model for apps is that I just gave the author a few bucks many years ago, so it feels awkward asking for fixes over and over.

    • Jake Scheele says:

      I had been using Crossword Plus on my Kindle Fire. It stopped working about a week ago. I have had several email discussion with them—up shot of it is that they do not want third party app accessing their holy grail of a puzzle. They want you to use their app, which is a piece of trash. You can get around it by using your browser to download the puzzle, then once on your mobile device you can read it with you usual app. In the case of Kindle, I had to download free File Manager to locate the downloaded file and launch Crossword Plus

  2. I’ve had the same issue with the iPhone version for the past two puzzles. The NYT is no longer on the list of providers you can select to automatically download puzzles, which makes me think the app is no longer supporting the NYT crossword.

    There’s also an error message when I try to get the Across Lite file from XWord Info. Coincidence, or a push to solve on the NYT app by getting rid of the PUZ file?

  3. Christopher Smith says:

    Really enjoyed NYT. Fun theme, well executed. My only quibble is with OVERGO, which doesn’t sound like a real thing. Also should note that I’m 51 & don’t think 36 is anywhere close to the same age.

  4. David L says:

    Yeah, I put in Fozzie for the “waka, waka, waka” character. It’s been a very long time since I played Pacman but I thought it was all beeps and boops.

    OVERGO is terrible — I had OVERDO for a long time and was trying to figure what the heck ADENT was supposed to mean. Eventually I resorted to running the alphabet.

    I liked the WaPo but it took me a while to figure out the theme, mainly because the first one I came to was PENTERANT and I’ve never heard of ‘pente.’ But once I got the rest it was smooth sailing. And cleverly done.

  5. Ken Powell says:

    It’s not one of the puzzles listed, but I really enjoyed BEQ’s diagramless in the NYT today. It had a clever and dense theme. Really nice!

  6. roger says:

    Will someone please explain “passives must be shunned.” I thought “must” would make it active and so the fill doesn’t make sense to me. Thanks.

    • Jim Q says:

      The subject of the sentence appears to be the word “passives” in this sentence rather than the actual subject “you.” That’s how I understand it anyway.

  7. Scot Ober says:

    Using “avoid redundancy” twice is a repetition–not a redundancy. A “necessary requirement” or “combine together” is a redundancy.

  8. GlennP says:

    Thank you to all for your responses and suggestions! It helps a lot to know that others have had problems recently. Thanks especially to David Glasser for his suggested workaround which worked for me just now. Like David, I really like the Crossword interface as a common one for puzzles from various sources. I’ve sent a message to but don’t expect a response on a weekend.

    • GlennP says:

      I did get a response from They report:

      “Unfortunately the New York Times has requested that we remove authenticated access to their puzzles from our apps, and we’re in the process of removing them from our provider lists. While we regret this recent development, we’re currently improving our Crosswords for Android app to improve importing puzzles via the device’s browser, which will allow you import their puzzles into our app.

      If you have any feedback regarding these new restrictions, we suggest contacting the NY Times via Customer Care.”

      Attempting to control their content by tying their app to their content is IMHO much like King Canute attempting to hold back the waves!

  9. Bruce N Morton says:

    BEQ–I wasn’t sure about {Country home} either, but I guess–you can listen to country music on your IPOD. Is that the point?

  10. Nancy says:

    If you’re really a teacher, you should know that it is not necessary to use an apostrophe in “contractors” in your comment. One of my pet peeves as a former teacher is written expression with poor grammar.

    • Lois says:

      I think you mean the NYT puzzle. The contraction joke is a reference to “don’t,” and I guess you meant to type “contractions.” As a retired proofreader, I know how to make mistakes with authority too!

Comments are closed.