Friday, October 20, 2017

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 6:04 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:14 (Amy) 


Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 20 17, no 1020

I’m generally on the right wavelength for Peter’s themelesses, and I zipped through all of this except the northwest quadrant. Likes: “BA-DA-BING,” EPISODE I, ARMS DEAL, GUY FAWKES MASK, BYE WEEK, HODA KOTB, BODY-SURF, MENORAHS, and ICLOUD.

Five things, because I’m sleepy and headachy:

  • 38a. [Dated women?], FAIR SEX. Eh. Meh.
  • 41a. [Buck ___, first African-American coach in Major League Baseball], O’NEIL. I first learned of this legend of the Negro leagues from Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary. And now? He’s the only person I remember from all those hours of programming. He was a delight.
  • 53a. [Rocker Gramm of Foreigner], LOU. Who? I … never realized that Foreigner contained individuals with names. Have never heard anything about them. (Wikipedia tells me they’re a “British-American band.” News to me!)
  • 56a. [“Today” co-host beginning in 2007], HODA KOTB. She cohosts the fourth hour of Today with Kathie Lee Gifford. For work last spring, I actually skimmed memoirs by both of them! I learned that Hoda’s got an impressive background in war reporting, and Kathie Lee is funny. The ratings for that hour have plunged since Megyn Kelly moved into the hour before Kathie Lee and Hoda. Oh, NBC, what have you done?
  • 29d. [User-editable internet pages], WIKIS. I hadn’t realized the NYT switched over to lowercase internet for its style. Apparently this is old news. Luckily, I don’t work for a newspaper and can freely disregard Associated Press style mandates and all the spill-over in other papers’ style guides. (At work, I still use Internet, but might’ve been using unhyphenated email before the Times made that change.)

So don’t whine that you don’t care about the Today show. Some day, this knowledge may pay!

Four stars from me.

Ned White’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Rime Scheme” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 10/20/17 • “Rime Scheme” • White • solution

You open up the .puz file. You see a 15×16 grid. You see a few circled squares along the midline. (You see left–right symmetry.) You see the first clue—1-across—with a slew of cross-references. You don’t even read the clue beyond noting that the first word is ‘Source’ and registering that it’s a very long clue. You begin to resent having to blog this crossword.

You look at the title. You immediately think of the poet Robert Frost, and as the answers in that upper-left section begin to fall, you see that indeed FROST is this linchpin answer.

You arrive at 24-across [“Good fences make good neighbors” poem] and you know for certain that it’s Frost’s “Mending Wall” but the entry only allows four letters. You see that nearby string of three circled letters and reason that they’re probably related, but you don’t immediately know the answer to the containing entry, 24a [Gummed holder in a stamp album]. So you move on.

You hit 9-across and it cross-references back to 1-across, and you scream a silent scream.

Working that upper-right area, you’re getting some but not all of the answers, and that pesky theme-related 9a is not looking like anything you know in relation to FROST, not even after actually reading the clue: [Source of 24, 44 and 64 Across … or, with 9 Across, factor in pothole formation that’s a hint at the visual irregularities of those three entries]. Pothole formation? Frost? Again you feel resentment.

More letters are entered in the grid. Is 9d [Timid chuckle syllable] TEE or HEE? 12d [Competitor of Spalding and Wilson] … DUNLOP is too long. SCHLESINGER is way too long.

—”Could it… could it start with a V…?”
—”Is FROST HEAVE a thing? A thing that has to do with potholes?”
—”Never heard of it, but it sounds vaguely. remotely, possible.”
—”No, that’s too weird. Wouldn’t been a crossword.”

19a [“Silas Marner’ foundling] ya you’ve forgotten that and none of the letters so far are jogging your memory.

26-across: [–]. You know this is Across Lite/XWord’s version of a blank clue. You realize it’s part of the theme. A soft gurgle rises in your throat.

You work the grid some more. You get 26a to be WALL. You have MEND | WALL and hence the three circled letters will indeed be ING,(it turns out the answer is HINGE, which makes sense) completing the title. You assess those circled letters contextually, adjacent to both the antecedent and subsequent parts, but raised one row. You question again whether FROST HEAVE is a thing.

You continue solving, dyspeptically. (20a [Sound from a water cooler] GLUG.)

  • 44a/42a/47a. [“Possessing what we were still unpossessed by” poem] / [Buyer of Netscape] AOL / [–] = THE GIFT O UTRIGHT.
  • 64a/61a/66a. [“Yet knowing how way leads on to way” poem] / [Dr. treating laryngitis] ENT / [–] = THE ROAD N OT TAKEN.

You finish the puzzle. You question the worth of this particular crossword and its theme. You resent having to blog it—you’re suffering already in the throes of a rhinovirus—but you feel the obligation. You perform the merest wisp of due diligence by searching Google for “frost heave” and are displeased that it has as many as 193,000 results. VOIT.

You also check to see if there’s a song called “White Frost”. There is, but it’s quite terrible, and not in a good way. You can’t justify inflict it on the blog readers.

You resolve to write about it, but instead of doing the normal things like presenting the theme and then discussing it and various other aspects of the crossword, the grid, the clues, you decide to be snarky, though with a halfhearted attempt at 28d TACT—that is, with the annoying conceit of distancing yourself from the disparaging assessments by presenting your write-up in the second-person present tense. And a run-on sentence or two. Some fragments. But everyone knows how you feel, of course. So you feel a little guilt.

But really, you aren’t IN THE MOOD at all (50a) and you just want to be finished.

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

LA Times

It’s add a letter string Friday again. Today’s is +HAM, revealed at HAMMEDITUP. Our four candidates today are: The ad phrase GOTMILK, which becomes GOT(HAM)MILK; S(HAM)INGTHEBLUES, which repurposes THEBLUES to refer to baseball; S(HAM)ANKIN – which is hard to parse, as the break in SANK/IN shifts to S-AN/KIN. The best answer is saved for last. It is also a bit more convoluted than a typical add a letter string answer, exhibiting a tmetic type effect I associate with BEQ. In any case the imagery in POPUPTOA(HAM)STER is great!

The design of the puzzle is notable, with big corners adding to the Friday challenge. Also adding to the challenge is the puzzle’s segmented nature (which helps to fill those big corners adequately), which makes it difficult to get help finishing any particular area you may have had trouble with.

3.5 Stars

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25 Responses to Friday, October 20, 2017

  1. salm says:

    Sailing into PR territory until beaching in the SE. If you’ve never heard of her, HODAKOTB is an unlikely string of letters.

    • Dr Fancypants says:

      I can confirm that was my reaction, as someone who didn’t know who she was. I filled in the last square of my grid, convinced I was going to have to revisit that corner, only to have the app tell me I successfully completed the puzzle. Hooray?

    • Ethan says:

      Not so unlikely if you’ve heard of Sayyid Qutb, the anti-Nasserist and Muslim Brotherhood leader.

      • huda says:

        Not that it should matter, or make it more familiar, but just as a note… HODA and I share the same first name, spelled identically in Arabic. The difference in spelling is due to the differences in accents– Egyptian (HODA) vs. pretty much everywhere else (huda).

        KOTB and Qutb (referred to by Ethan): same deal. There are short vowels in Arabic whose pronunciation is more prone to differences in dialect.

        Huda Shaarawi was the first Arab feminist and women named after her are often daughters of families that value women.

        For me, that was the easy part of the puzzle…

        • Lise says:

          This was interesting! I actually wondered when I wrote her name, whether it was related to yours. And what a good reason for the name. Cool!

        • Gareth says:

          Is it a bit like how in South African English, we spell the words “halaal” and “samoosa”, but in American English, they’re a vowel shorter? Our longest-standing Islamic immigrants (or in some cases, slaves) are from Indonesia and the Indian Subcontinent (pre partition) rather than from the Middle East.

    • jim hale says:

      Yep a complete unknown to me and I don’t feel enriched by knowing it now. I also have to take issue with the Guy Fawkes Mask clue and it’s association with the imo cyber idiot group Anonymous.

    • Tim in NYC says:

      A gigantic WTF? bubble popped up over my head.

    • Rick Narad says:

      I had KO_B and couldn’t figure out any letter that work work across since T had to be the down answer. That’s a name I’d never heard of and a letter combination I never expected.

  2. Steve Manion. says:

    I guessed correctly on HODA KOTB, but I was not sure where the space was.
    Hard for me. I thought it was a great puzzle.
    The story of Buck Oneil reinforces for me the continuing overwhelming disgusting hypocrisy of baseball. Oneil failed to make it into the hall of fame because of the one player per year quota for Negro league players. His stats are actually borderline, so the exclusion is justifiable in one sense, but the one player per year quota cannot be justified. I think he did get some kind of career achievement sop.

  3. dook says:

    Didn’t care for NYT at all: Hoda Kotb – no idea. But I would question whether bada bing is defined properly in the clue. Same for ‘bah’. Same for snips. Have a gas isn’t great at all. No idea what a sooner is. Made me grumpy.

    • Ethan says:

      I’m confused, because your user name says “I sort of care about college rivalries” but your “No idea what a Sooner is” comment says otherwise. Even without reference to the college team, tho, Oklahoma is the Sooner State.

  4. Nene says:

    Clues were often clever and had diversity. I love the math (ARCSINE), my favorite comic strip (Andy Capp), and political scandal (Iran-contra). It was worth the challenge. Thx.

  5. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Well I largely enjoyed this CHE offering, and apparently so did the ten readers who have rated it so far: 4.3 as against 3.0 for the LAT and 4.0 for the NYT. Maybe try to solve such puzzles (with cross-references and other gimmicks) on paper rather than in silico. Something there is that doesn’t love a .puz?


  6. Lise says:

    I found both the NYT and the CHE to be delightful. A gas. ;) Ditto the reviews.

  7. Rick Narad says:

    Put me down as liking the CHE but Ned must have been standing behind me since his description matched mine almost completely. I couldn’t get much of a toe hold anywhere. Road(N)ottaken gave me the theme but even that didn’t help much.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I’m surprised so many are unfamiliar with Hoda Kotb, despite her work with NBC News since 1998.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Well, I never heard of her. I watch the NBC Nightly News until the first irritating pharmaceutical commercial comes on, whereupon I turn to some other program. That’s normally at 12 minutes into the broadcast. Perhaps she’s a late-broadcast fixture?

    • David L says:

      Well. I sort of knew the name — enough that the weird spelling didn’t trouble me when it materialized from the crosses — but I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup. I suppose I’ve seen things written about her, but I never watch any of the network shows that she’s on.

      SNIPS for twerps is puzzling to me.

    • janie says:

      and the multiple kathie lee/hoda send-ups on snl… ah, how quickly they forget…


  9. Penguins says:

    Engaging, relatable write-up, pannonica.

  10. Stephen Edward Anderson says:

    Found both NYT & CHE challenging & fun. Though familiar with “Mending Wall” for better than five decades, it was only today that I learned that FROST HEAVE is the mot juste for that meteorological event, that something that doesn’t love a wall.

  11. Gareth says:

    LOU had two (fairly MOR) solo hits as well…

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