Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hex/Quigley untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 7:21 (Amy) 


NYT untimed (Jenni) 


WaPo 8:49 (Erin) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Fair Game” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo 7/2/17 solution

It’s the time of year when many head to summer fairs and boardwalks, so this week we have a reimagining of “___ the ___” idioms into wacky carnival games!

  • 22a. [“Ladies and gentlemen! Step right up and try your hand at ___, a game where you punt a pail as far as you can!”] KICK THE BUCKET
  • 34a. [“… ___. You’ll have a blast chomping down on this piece of ammo!”] BITE THE BULLET
  • 43a. [“… ___. It’s our most dangerous game, and this fierce fish is ready to strike. Only our most acrobatic contestants will survive!”] JUMP THE SHARK (I giggled out loud at this one.)
  • 63a. {“… ___. It’s open season on zephyrs, so fire away!”] SHOOT THE BREEZE (Giggled here too.)
  • 72a. [“… ___. Hide this cutting tool as far down as you can, and you may get a prize!”] BURY THE HATCHET
  • 95a. [“… ___. Do you like to prepare rice products for dinner? In this game, you might prepare Anne Rice products for dinner!”] COOK THE BOOKS
  • 101a. [“… ___. It’s easy to play: Just tip over cans of chili ingredients and let gravity do its thing!”] SPILL THE BEANS
  • 117a. [“… ___. Never has moving dining room furniture been this fun!”] TURN THE TABLES

Other musings:

  • Nice to see some less common fill this week: RUTABAGA, SEAGAL, JUNIPER, and some of the answers mentioned below, for example.
  • 86a. [Android-based program that debuted in 2016] WESTWORLD. Love the misdirect from the TV show towards the operating system here.
  • 80d. [Singles clubs?] BATS. Nice!
  • 89d. [Squirt, e.g.] SODA. Squirt was developed in Phoenix and I’m guessing is still somewhat regional, as I’ve heard of it but don’t remember ever seeing it. Here is a picture, so anyone who is curious about the grapefruit concoction can see it without having to search Google for it.
  • 49d. [Popular game involving walks and catches] POKEMON GO. Another nice clue.

Until next week!

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

This is one of my favorite Sunday puzzles ever. I suspect that the majority of Sunday solvers will not see it that way, since one of the reasons I like it is that it’s way more challenging than most Sunday puzzles. It’s also smooth as silk and packed with really interesting information. A tour de force. Bravo, Patrick!

I apologize for the grid. The .puz file I opened had black squares where the shaded ones appear on paper, which made it useless for my purposes. I had to fiddle with the printer to get a grid that would allow me to make visible marks on the shaded squares. The rest of the grid is, thus, lighter than usual. Do not adjust your set.

The Beatles ouevre supplies our theme, with five six songs scattered around the grid, and we’ll get “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle” out of the way early – I didn’t know many of the facts Patrick uses for clues.

  • NYT 7/2 solution grid (my apologies)

    22a [“With the Beatles” song written by Smokey Robinson]  is YOU REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME. I didn’t know the Beatles recorded this.

  • 30d [“Hey Jude” song that mentions every day of the week but Saturday] is LADY MADONNA. I guess I knew that – I know the words to the song. I’d never thought about it. This is why Patrick makes awesome puzzles and I solve them.
  • 35d [“A Hard Day’s Night” song that Lennon called McCartney’s “first ‘Yesterday’ “] is apparently AND I LOVE HER.
  • 40d [“With the Beatles” song playing in the E.R. when Lennon died] was ALL MY LOVING. So sad.
  • 116a [“Revolver” song that Paul McCartney described as “an ode to pot”] is GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE.
  • EDITED TO ADD: I missed 48d [“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” song whose title is followed by “where the rain gets in”] which is FIXING A HOLE. Know the song, didn’t realize that was the title. My apologies.

There’s a note on the puzzle that says “When this puzzle is done, read the letters along the shaded path to get another example of the theme.” When I read that, I figured there would be letters in all the shaded squares.  Turns out only 10 of the squares are filled in. The gimmick is not initially predictable, which increases the difficulty – and the fun.

  • 2d [Link studied at] is BLOODLINE. The  is in the shaded square; LINE is also 34d, clued as [What TSA PreCheck helps people avoid].
  • 23d [Most watchful] is ALERTEST, which is not great fill but is completely forgiven in the service of this theme. The  is in the shade and TEST is also 46d [TRY OUT].
  • 65a [“The Time Machine” race] is the old crossword standby ELOI, which gives us the I. No overlap into anything else because there are other shaded squares beyond.
  • 78a [Harrison’s successor] is CLEVELAND, which gives us the V for the theme answer. 79a is [African antelope], our old friend the ELAND.
  • 85a [Its state quarter has a lighthouse] is MAINE for the E.
  • 62a [Garden party?] is ADAM. I initially filled in ANT. Nope.
  • 11d [1968 movie based on “Flowers for Algernon”] is CHARLY for the Y.
  • 14d [Blue] is MELANCHOLY, which gives us the  for the theme and 50d is [Sacrosanct], HOLY.
  • 68a [Delany or Carvey] is DANA for the A.
  • 83d [Old movie theater lead-ins] is NEWSREELS, with the completing the theme answer and 115d [Congers and morays], or EELS.

Put it all together and you get DRIVE MY CAR.

Phew. All that and I’ve just explained the theme. If you have comments about the fill, add them below.

I leave you with this classic. 53 years ago:

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Top This” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 7/2/17 • “Top This” • Quigley • bg • solution

Once is hat-pun-stance, twice is … oh, I’ve got nothing for the rest of the quote.

  • 23a. [Hat served with Wonder?] BREAD AND BOATER (… butter).
  • 33a. [Hats as different from a derby as can be?] BOWLER OPPOSITES (polar …).
  • 39a. [“This hat doesn’t cost much”?] TOQUE IS CHEAP (talk …).
  • 67a. [Northerners with Scottish hats?] TAM YANKEES (damn …). This one specifies the type of hat more than other themers.
  • 72a. [Scrooge’s hat?] BAH HOMBURG (… humbug).
  • 97a. [Problem for a Shriner standing under a nest?] EGG ON ONE’S FEZ (… face). Specificity on this one too. Plus a more elaborate image.
  • 102a. [Choir with two hats?] CAP BERET SINGERS (cabaret …). This specimen has a double dose.
  • 119a. [Hat with only a top?] BOTTOMLESS PITH (… pit). And this one is almost meta in that pith without the following helmet isn’t really enough to name the thing.

So. Some of these puns are fun, but I detected too many inconsistencies in presentation for the theme to work for me.

  • 50a [Chaperons, often] ADULTS. Less common variant spelling of chaperone, for no discernible reason.
  • 74d [100th of a zloty] GROSZ.
  • Had trouble with 93d [Ship’s ward] SICK BAY, as I was thinking of a person rather than a place. In fact, that southwest corner was the most difficult of the grid for me to solve, ALBEIT (16d) not too tough.
  • 21a [Horned zoo animal] RHINO. Why reference zoos here, as opposed to something more intrinsic, or relating to their natural distributions?
  • 30a [Snorkler spots] REEFS, 92a [Lagoon rings] ATOLLS. Some more pairings and triads are to be found, but I’ll spare you.
  • 52d [28 Down star] ALDA (28d is Bridge of SPIES); 114a [Orange dwarf] K-STAR.
  • Herewith the non-theme punned clues with question marks: 1d [Vine yard?] ARBOR, 66d [Forward thinker?] ORACLE, 86d [Development zones?] UTERI, 103d [Get the word out?] ERASE, 106d [Meshed up?] NETTY (really??). Not quite in this category: 123d [Cat’s dog] PAW (no question mark), 58a [Logical conclusion?] ELL (more a literalism than a pun).
  • I feel 117a [Region’s local flora and fauna] clues biota rather than BIOTAS. The more awkward [Regions’ local flora and fauna] would be more accurate, no?
  • 75a [Belgian river] YSER; 3d [River of Grenoble] ISÈRE.

    The name Isère was first recorded under the form Isara, which means “the impetuous one, the swift one.” Not originally a Celtic word, it was very likely assimilated by the Celts in ancient times. This word is related to the Indo-European *isərós, meaning “impetuous, quick, vigorous,” which is similar to the Sanskrit isiráh with the same definition. It was probably based on the reconstructed Indo-European root *eis(ə) (and not *is), which incidentally has not been found in the Celtic languages of the British Isles.
    The word Isara figures in the etymology of many other river names, from ancient Gaul and its neighboring lands. Examples of this are the Isar River in Germany, the small Franco-Belgian Yser River, or even the ancient name of the Oise River, Isara (the French adjective isarien still exists in the language and continues to describe anything related to the Oise). In non-Celtic countries, we find the Isarco, a river in Northern Italy, the Éisra and Istrà in Lithuania, and the Jizera in the Czech Republic.

Alan Olschwang’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Up the River”—Amy’s write-up

LA Times crossword solution, 7 2 17, “Up the River”

Whoops, forgot to blog this on Sunday. On the plus side, I did take a nice, long walk on a beautiful afternoon! Anyway: The theme is eight long Down answers in which the circled letters spell the names of rivers going upwards (hence the puzzle title). The now-obscure REGINALD DENNY hides West Africa’s NIGER. ALIGNMENT has the GILA of the Southwestern U.S., and the now-obscure LASH LARUE hides the Russian URAL. CELINE DION is as broadly familiar as Africa’s NILE, and the best part of this theme. “I’M IN HEAVEN” (a lyric?? not even a title??) hides Russia’s NEVA; MOONRAKER, Italy’s ARNO; BOSSA NOVA, England’s AVON; and FIT LIKE A GLOVE, Eastern Europe’s VOLGA.

So much of the fill in this puzzle is pretty dire. A veritable explosion of crosswordese. The toughest crossings, I bet, were where AGENA’s E crossed the first letter of EMENDS (how many solvers were betting on the more common AMENDS, and having no idea that the [Gemini rocket stage] was AGENA rather than AGANA?) and where ERGS and NARA ([Ancient Japanese capital]) crossed RAVI and SACHEM ([Algonquian chief]). At least answers like INGLE, ELGAR, OBEAH, EPODE, IRED, TSETSE, TEUTON, EOLITHS, ERGOT, and MISTI weren’t crossing other answers of that type.

2.25 stars from me. I like geography-based themes, but this one would have played better if the rivers were a more cohesive and familiar set.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Sunday, July 2, 2017

  1. Martin says:

    Squirt is easy to find in New York and in California. I first tasted it from a vending machine at the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. The machine served it in a cup with ice! On a hot summer day, it was a real hit.

    • Tony says:

      They have Squirt in the vending machine at the US Postal Service main office in Sunnyvale, CA. Sometimes I get one after returning after finishing my route on a particularly hot day.

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: “65a [“The Time Machine” race] is the old crossword standby ELOI, which gives us the I. No overlap into anything else because there are other shaded squares beyond.”

    Crossed by 44d George TAKEI.

    Similarly, 68a DANA has 49d EDINA / 62a ADAM with 24d ORGANISM / 85a MAINE and 37d BROADSIDE / 11d CHARLY gets 36a ABBACY.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Right, thanks. What I meant is that it didn’t continue into another word, but I didn’t make that clear.

      • pannonica says:

        Figured it was something like that, but felt I may as well spell it out for the community.

  3. Chukkagirl says:

    On the iPad app there were no gray squares, which didn’t exactly help find the theme answer. And the newspaper note was buried under the info tab which I never thought to look at until the notes here, so that wasn’t very cool either. What annoyed me were the double crossings of the invisible letters in some cases and not others, and also the lack of anywhere to put them on the iPad version. Not a lot of fun IMO, not for difficulty perse, but for purely mechanical reasons.

  4. Spheniscidae Jones says:

    I wonder how the NYT played if you didn’t know the tunes. Loved the creativity.

  5. Lise says:

    The NYT was a clever feat of construction. Great from beginning to end. Thanks for the memories, too.

  6. Dook says:

    The inconsistency of the theme answers – sometimes running into the next answer, sometimes not – was confusing and made it less fun. The Beatles “facts” seem questionable to me. I’m a pretty big fan. Never heard “And I Love Her” called the “first” Yesterday. By whom?? Not really sure that “Hey Jude” is an accepted name for the album on which Lady Madonna appears. The GTGYIML quote – really? And no mention of Paul’s birthday, which I assume is the reason for today’s theme. Two stars.

    • pauer says:

      Your mileage may vary.

    • Martin says:

      Never heard “And I Love Her” called the “first” Yesterday. By whom??

      Uh, the clue is, [“A Hard Day’s Night” song that Lennon called McCartney’s “first ‘Yesterday'”]. It was in a 1980 interview, btw.

    • Lois says:

      The “Got to Get You into My Life” tidbit is one of those odd items that Jenni refers to in her review. I was startled by it too, but

      I’m also interested in the question of the album Hey Jude, containing “Lady Madonna.” The cover will probably look familiar to you, but the name doesn’t appear on the front and I didn’t remember it either. According to Wikipedia (if you look up the Hey Jude album), it was originally called The Beatles Again, but I don’t know at what stage the title change took place. Here’s another link:

      • Lois says:

        OK, I checked the original LP containing “Hey Jude.” There is no title on either the front or the back of the album (“Hey Jude” is listed on the back as the first song). The label on the record has the title The Beatles Again. Apparently, the title has changed at least for newer formats, according to Wikipedia and the other link I gave above.

  7. JohnH says:

    I didn’t find the unpredictability of the theme entries to make it fun. I just thought it made things way, way too easy on the setter, who in, what, maybe 80 gray squares could have found a handful for just about anything. (I did at first expect them all to be used.) The songs were a pleasant exercise in nostalgia, but I expected more.

    I also found it a hard one, with some puzzlingly loose clues, like those for PLEA (not terribly particular to the Red Cross), LALALA (huh? I expected “louder”), and PLATEAU (again, huh?). ALI and LIST maybe a bit better. That south-central area was my last to fall, mostly lucky guesses not recognizing HALF PIPE either. The whole feels like a real wasted opportunity for Beatles fans (and probably a head scratcher for those younger, especially the Smokey Robinson song).

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Well, the younger folk who might be scratching their heads over the Smokey Robinson song probably knew “half-pipe,” so there’s that. The Smokey Robinson song is a classic.

    • pannonica says:

      That would entail a very different intent for the phrase “I can’t hear you”.

    • pannonica says:

      Oh—the clue for PLATEAU [The highest form of flattery?] is very strained and, to my mind, not good. Think topography, where a plateau is an elevated flat expanse. Although I suppose it could also reference a graph. Still, meh.

      • Papa John says:

        Way too many “strained” clues and awkward fills for my liking. Solving with Across Lite added another difficulty to a puzzle already replete with them. Did I keep notes of the letters that disappeared in the black squares? No, I did not.

        Is there a significance to the meandering black squares, other than to represent a very difficult road to navigate?

        The fills like BLOO[D]LINE didn’t follow the convention of the last part of a split word (LINE) not having its own clue, which threw me for a loop. I don’t think that makes any sense. Is it “Link studied at” (itself an awkward clue) or is it “What T.S.A. Precheck helps people avoid”? (BTW, there’s still a line in Precheck. The avoidance is a longer line.)

        As Amy so often says, sometimes a theme puts such a constraint on the fill that it can detract from the solve. I found this one to have too many “puzzlingly loose clues” because of that.

        • ahimsa says:

          “Is there a significance to the meandering black squares”

          Yes. Puzzle title = The Long and Winding Road = Beatles song

          This black/gray “road” was also a fitting place for the DRIVE MY CAR answer to be hidden (another song title).

        • Lois says:

          I enjoyed the puzzle very much on paper, and it was also one of my favorites. However, to me it’s an open question, when so many solve online, whether the Times should be publishing puzzles that only work properly on paper. There is a big difference in this puzzle between the black and gray squares. The gray squares represents the winding road with the song on it, and on which answers running into them have an unknown length to a degree. The black squares are not part of the road, and the answers don’t bleed into them at all.

      • pauer says:

        Agreed. Mine was [Flatten out].

        • Lois says:

          Thank you, Patrick. I’m glad to know that the silly use of “flattery” wasn’t your clue.

  8. Gail says:

    Is anyone else having a problem completing the grid online? I have all the squares filled in, and even if there are mistakes, I would expect to get one of the cutesy pop-ups telling me that there is an error. With this…nada. Help! I don’t want to break my streak over a technicality.

  9. Laura B says:

    Loved it. Though the squares were rather small, I had to count them all — now I know how many squares it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

  10. Dave C says:

    There were 6 themers, not 5…and the one that wasn’t mentioned was the one Beatles song I never heard of, FIXING A HOLE (48-D). Made that small section of the puzzle very difficult – finally pieced it together with help from Patrick’s lyrical hint in the clue.

    Definitely took longer than a normal Sunday, and I liked the payoff!

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I’m sorry! I totally missed that one! It was much harder to find the entries on paper. Will edit the post.

  11. David L says:

    Very clever! There were some tricky spots, though. That section with PREVIN and CPSNOW was baffling at first, and the bit at the bottom with ALI riding on the INKY SKIS was the last piece that I finished.

    It took me a while to figure out where the ‘R’ of DRIVEMYCAR was. NEWS at 83D seemed like a sufficient answer until I saw it continued into NEWSREELS.

  12. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Loved this puzzle, Patrick! Partly because I grew up listening to all these songs and albums, but also because the puzzle was just fun. I liked learning the new facts. I didn’t want my solve to end, so I took my sweet time.

    I solved on the iPad app which didn’t have shaded squares (just more black ones), and I didn’t bother to look at the note. Obviously, when you have a completely bisected grid, there’s going to be something thematic involved with those black squares in the middle. Eventually, I realized some black squares had letters, but didn’t know what order to read them in. Finally, I realized they were a path (or a road) and they should be read thusly. Beacause I was enjoying the grid, I purposely didn’t try to figure out the path answer until I finished the grid. Once I did I felt really rewarded with a song and title that made absolute sense.


  13. arthur118 says:

    Some of us who print out the grids to solve puzzles by traditional means rely on the Across Lite option, which allows the solver to print Sunday puzzles on two pages in order to give aging eyes a chance to read the clues. (PDF doesn’t meet the need).

    Today, when Across Lite didn’t have the gimmick’s gray squares, only impenetrably black ones, (squares that obviously will hold key parts of the answers), trying to solve the puzzle became a futile exercise and the least frustrating option was abandonment.

    One would think Will and his staff would be more considerate.

    • jim hale says:

      Regarding the NYTimes puzzle. The trick was fairly easy to figure out and I knew all the Beatle songs but I found the puzzle annoying, inconsistent and many clues far fetched. Being a snowboarder I don’t consider half pipe to be an extreme sport for instance.

    • Beth says:

      I always print my puzzles with Across Lite and I use the ink saver mode with gray squares so no problem here for Will and his staff to fix.

  14. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: Love the Beatles. Loathed this puzzle. Almost the entire “path” is empty (just because). The theme clues render straight sometimes, angled others (just because). Plus the app can’t do basic stuff like fully render a puzzle with some gray squares (it’s 2017, by the way). Plus the Hey Jude album is not a real thing. Plus, plus, plus. More of A Hard Day’s Night than a Magical Mystery Tour (the irony of which I can appreciate, at least).

    • pauer says:

      Glad you had strong feelings about it (just because). I’d rather make
      something that people love or hate than something that comes and goes
      without much notice. Too bad about the technical glitches (regardless of the year). Maybe you’ll find the next one more to your liking.

      • Christopher Smith says:

        Obviously most people here loved it. A skewed sample, presumably, but still. It takes a thick skin to provoke reactions. But you have one, clearly. Fair enough.

        • pauer says:

          Sometimes. I’m also a sensitive artist type, so negative reactions (especially with no explanation) tend to sting. I think people are surprised when I defend my work, since most constructors never say a word. For all I know, they don’t even read the reviews or comments, which is probably the smartest way to go, honestly.

    • Lois says:

      As I note above under Dook’s comment, I agree with you about the album initially released as The Beatles Again, one of the original U.S. copies of which I checked today, but the album is now called Hey Jude. I don’t care for that warping of my musical history (not that I really remembered what it was called, though I didn’t remember a Hey Jude album), but a modern, younger constructor has to work with existing sources (Wikipedia and The Beatles Bible). As for the rest, I guess it’s a matter of taste, and it hit the spot for me!

  15. David says:

    Cleveland was also Harrison’s predecessor, in an unprecedented presentation of presidential success.

  16. ahimsa says:

    NYT: I’m not a huge Beatles fan and I still thought this was a fun puzzle.

    I got stuck in that area with PREVIN/IONIZE/CPSNOW. I knew there had to be an R on that part of the “road” somewhere. And I also was not sure about ALLMYL????? (Loving? Lovers?). I finally cheated to get C P SNOW and the rest of it fell into place. But I still enjoyed it.

    LAT: Okay, but not my favorite kind of puzzle. It must have been hard to fit in so many rivers.

    I messed up on NARA/SACHEM crossing. I thought it was NARu, probably influenced by the Japanese cat named Maru. :-) See

  17. Joan Macon says:

    So where is the LAT?

  18. Eric Conrad says:

    NYT: enjoyed the ambition of the theme. Also solved the .puz (using Black Ink), which rendered the road black. I also missed the note (I usually do) but had no problem with that part.

    Found the fill lacking in a few areas: stacked PREVIN/IONIZE/CPSNOW was tough/Natick for me (which is clearly relative).

    4.5 out of 5 for me, mainly for the ambition.

  19. Patti Ryan says:

    Where’s the LA Times?

  20. Norm says:

    Toughest puzzle for a long time for me. Not being a Beatle fan it was impossible with looking up those longest of clues. Boo!

  21. Lois says:

    NYT: Patrick, I loved all aspects of the puzzle. I liked it that I knew the Beatles songs, and I liked the unpredictability of the lengths of the answers to the clues (I did miss “ELAND,” though, which had filled itself in). I also liked Jenni’s review, but “YOU REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME” was my easiest clue! But as far as the average ratings go, although some Beatles fans here did not go for the puzzle (sometimes because of the technical glitches), you can’t expect universal love when not everyone knows Beatles songs! I don’t like some other subjects, so I’m thrilled to have my turn this week.

  22. DJ says:

    I NEVER would have gotten ‘Drive My Car’ had I not read this! This was, for me, a very frustrating puzzle…fun (especially cuz I love everything Beatles) but very difficult at first until you know which words are going to ‘spill over’ into the grey squares. OY!! I SOOOOOOOOOO miss Merl Reagle! His puzzles were my favorites. Fun and just challenging enough to be interesting without driving me crazy. I have 16 or 17 of his puzzle books. Sadly…while I admire the brilliance of all of these Sunday puzzle-makers, I think they sometimes go overboard with the obscurity. There will NEVER be another Merl.

Comments are closed.