Friday, August 4, 2017

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 6:15 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:08 (Amy) 


Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 4 17, no 0804

A little harder than other recent Fridays, no? The clues were not yielding to me as quickly as I’d hoped.

Notes on the fill: “I HAD NO IDEA,” quite good. GIG ECONOMY, fabulous entry. AMERICAN PHARAOH, I hate horse racing, so brutal. EXOPLANETS, nicely sciency. The SEX PISTOLS, cool. AIRBNB, crisp but I hate that the brand name is styled as a word, Airbnb. (Capitalize your B, N, and B, people! “Airbnb” is not pronounceable.) “SAY HEY KID,” solid. KEFIR, seen more often in the dairy section than in crosswords, I know what it is but have never tried it. BIG A, LOPER, O.D. ON, RDAS, REOS, IS SO … all meh.

Five more things:

  • 16a. [___ number], CELL. I went with CALL. (Shoutout to Laura Librarian!)
  • 40a. [Quaint evening reading material], LATE EDITION. Is there any city that still offers a print LATE EDITION newspaper? I am just old enough to remember morning and evening newspapers from when I was little.
  • 48a. [Autocrat known as “the Liberator”], TSAR ALEXANDER II. Raise your hand if you HAD NO IDEA where this clue was taking you.
  • 62a. [White Cloud competitor], SCOTT. Toilet paper! Yes, Damon TPed this puzzle.
  • 31d. [“The Daily Show” correspondent Chieng], RONNY. Didn’t recognize the name, so I looked him up. He’s a comedian from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Hampshire, and he also got his own show on Australian TV that’s coming to Comedy Central soon. Here’s a Daily Show clip.

Four stars from me. Thoughts?

David Alfred Bywaters’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Left Untreated” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 8/4/17 • “Left Untreated” • Bywaters • solution

  • 17a. [Certain no-show at reveille?] ILL SERGEANT (drill sergeant).
  • 29a. [Doyenne of health-care advocacy?] AMA QUEEN (drama queen). Interesting entry, considering the theme.
  • 34a. [Getting multiple tattoos in a sitting?] BINGE INKING (binge drinking).
  • 38a. [Orchard picking done with military precision?] LEMON OPS (lemon drops).
  • 53a. [Tool for making belts in the Cotton Belt?] SOUTHERN AWL (Southern drawl).

Yet the grid isn’t completely devoid of DRs, as evidenced by 25a [Actress Hall of “Days of Our Lives”] DIERDRE.

  • 47a [Procrastinator’s refrain] MAÑANA, but in crosswords we’re conditioned to think of refrains as being along the lines of TRA-LA-LA so it’s fun to mispronounce the answer accordingly. See also 41d [“No spoilers! I’m covering my ears!”] LA LA LA.
  • 22d [Adjective applicable to only a few owl species] DIURNAL. Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) is one that immediately occurred to me.
  • 27a [Rhyme for “scuzza me” in “That’s Amore”] NAPOLI. That’s … awful.
  • 14a [Emphasize, perhaps] RESAY, 31a [Watchword] MANTRA.
  • 2d [State capital built around Last Chance Gulch] HELENA. New trivia to me.
  • 11d. [Metaphoric golf slang for a buried lie in a bunker]  FRIED EGG. Also new to me.
  • 39d [Gloria Steinem or Neil Armstrong, by birth] OHIOAN. Ditto.
  • 45d [Second-deepest U.S. lake] TAHOE. I knew this! And Crater Lake is the deepest.
  • 48a [Where __ (hipster’s place)] IT’S AT.

(That was 1996, folks. 21 years ago.)

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The theme was a lot more transparent than you’d expect for a Friday. Once I got FORHEAVENSSOCKS, I filled in the ends of the other themers, though I guessed wrong with STOCKS not SHOCKS. OCKS changes to AKES; results are clued “wackily”. THEGREATLOCKS, FROSTEDFLOCKS (generic of Frosties, I think there is one other brand available here), and CHOCOLATESHOCKS

On the other hand, several parts of the grid were quite thorny for me. The bottom-middle, I hadn’t heard of TED.RALL (I checked, it’s not TE DRALL), and the DERMA and MPS clues also stimied me (the latter, I didn’t read so well, as I had crossword staple RPS). I imagine DORMERS will buffalo a few too, though they’re actually sheep! Other tough bits include FESTOON clued as a noun, [Void] / ABOLISH and PERIO, clued as a “procedure” and I’m still not sure what that is, although I imagine it is periodontological…

My favourite moment was “Paramecium” in the clue for CILIA. Of the often-mentioned-in-high-school Protists (paraphyletic term, I know), Paramecium gets a lot less press than AM(O)EBA; a reference to EUGLENA would make my month…

3.5 Stars

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17 Responses to Friday, August 4, 2017

  1. Brad says:

    Please note there will be no CHE on August 18 (The Almanac Issue). The next puzzle after today’s will be September 1, when it resumes weekly status.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Two different experiences: The top seemed impossible, the bottom felt easy. But looking at it after the fact, it’s a lovely puzzle filled with excellent entries. I didn’t know GIG ECONOMY as an expression, and totally guessed the “Gig” part. Went back and read up on it. I always like it when a puzzle leads me there.
    Not sure about the AIRBNB clue, the term “marketplace” seems misleading. It’s clearly not the old meaning of marketplace, and neither is it denoting a whole arena or sphere of economic activity. I would see “short term home rentals” as a type of marketplace, but a specific company, e.g. AIRBNB, is just a component of that marketplace.
    By contrast, I liked the chicken, fish but not turkey clue!

    • artlvr says:

      Bad experience with AIRBNB in Florida: left the place spotless, but the owner refused to refund the deposit…. No recourse!

  3. Joe Pancake says:

    If anybody is interested in my (very brief) thoughts on this puzzle or my (less brief) thoughts on constructor pay, please visit my blog:

    • David L says:

      That’s an interesting discussion, Joe/Damon. (I preferred your original submission, RSS/RIGA, for the top corner, btw).

      I’ve spent many years in the freelance writing/editing business, and the question of what amounts to good pay sounds very familiar. There are many people who want to be writers, and they are willing to take meager pay (from blogs etc) in order to get their name out there, with the hope that one day they will be able to command more. The model works, kinda, except that one way it works is that a lot of people struggle and give up and find something else to do. Capitalism at its Darwinian best!

      I suppose a similar dynamic is at work in crosswords, and it makes sense that exposure in the NYT is worth more than the dollar amount it pays.

      As for Mr Parker’s suggestion that constructors should stop submitting to the NYT — well, easy for him to say! He has an actual job, and crossword commentary is a hobby.

      Oh, and I liked the puzzle today!

      • Joe Pancake says:

        Yes, David L, these “fair pay” questions certainly aren’t unique to crossword puzzles. A big difference, however, between crossword constructing and writing is that with the latter there is a chance you hit it big and make some serious money. With the former, this is basically nonexistent. It’s (almost) entirely a hobbyist’s field — and maybe that’s part of the problem.

    • lemonade714 says:

      You should be writing political polemics to relieve that side of your creative mind. I am not sure how much that field pays. Thank you.

    • Laura B says:

      Thank you for that post, JP aka DG — crossword constructing is indeed part of the GIG ECONOMY for all but a tiny handful of people.

      Liked your original 1A/1D. Always happy to see themelesses from you; I hope you won’t stop submitting your work.

  4. Steve Manion. says:

    Fairly easy puzzle. I did not know GIG ECONOMY.

    I was shocked (but wrong) to see KEFIR. I will never forget the scene in Lethal Weapon 2 when the South African consulate referred to Danny Glover as a KAFFIR, a supposedly neutral South African term used in this case with dripping racial contempt.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It’s not remotely a “neutral South African term.” It’s the Afrikaans equivalent of the N-word, as I understand it from Gareth. Occasionally it shows up in crosswords (and restaurant menus) as a lime, lime leaf sort of thing, and it startles those solvers who know the South African usage.

      • Steve Manion. says:

        I wonder if KEFIR could appear in a South African puzzle or is it a word that is too close to the racial epithet to pass the breakfast test. Wikipedia lists KAFFIR as originally racially neutral, but in the context of a people who condoned apartheid, neutral is admittedly a suspect description.


        • Ethan says:

          Kaffir is from the Arabic for “infidel, unbeliever”and probably dates back to Arab slave trading activities in Subsaharan Africa so I don’t know how it could have ever been neutral.

          • Gareth says:

            Yes, you will see it in its earlier (equally derogatory) form, if you read a novel by the name of Roots… There it is used by the literate Moslem people in West Africa to deprecate their animist neighbours… Not sure how it got to South Africa, but given other words like “mielie”, probably via Portuguese…

  5. Zulema says:

    I loved the NYT puzzle, mainly I think because the entries covered so many areas of knowledge unrelated to each other. I know that’s the definition of a themeless, but I was struck by how many contexts were touched upon. Enjoyed the doctor-less CHE also, I should add.

  6. David Eisner says:

    Turns out “BENITO MUSSOLINI” and “TSAR ALEXANDER II” both have fifteen letters and end in “I”.

  7. Patti Kouba says:

    Does anyone know how to get the LAT puzzles in the .puz format? Used to get them from Cruciverb, but they haven’t had them in ages.

  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    Gareth hadn’t heard of TEDRALL, but I’m sure the LAT staff has: Rall’s currently suing the LAT for wrongful termination!

    ( )

    This situation makes the grid entry feels a little scandalous to me. The lawsuit dates back to 2015, and I doubt the puzzle’s been in the editors’ queue for that long. Is this situation more common than I imagine?

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