Friday, December 8, 2017

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 5:01 (Gareth) 


NYT 3:40 (Amy) 


Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 8 17, no 1208

I inadvertently left a square blank and it took me maybe 15 seconds to spot it, so my solving time should be even quicker than this crazy-fast-for-me time. The puzzle will be polarizing, with people who dig social media, pop culture, and au courant fill loving it and people who prefer more classical fill finding it quite off-putting. Me, I enjoyed the hell out of Paolo’s crossword. Tons of gimmes, lively fill, crisp clues.

These are a few of my favorite things: PO-PO (which I learned from a 2006 episode of House and have been using ever since), JEAN SHORTS (we would also have accepted JORTS), ESCAPE ROOM (can you believe I’ve never been??), “RADIO GA GA,” BATCAVE, QUAALUDE (banned in the US in 1984, in the news in recent years thanks to Bill Cosby), “KNEW IT!”, NINJA (throwing) STARS, AP CREDIT, THE ELEMENTS, and SUBTWEET (that’s when you tweet about someone without including their Twitter handle, knowing that people who follow you and the other person will know what’s what).

Did not know: 21a. [Tupper of Tupperware fame] was named EARL. Also did not know 31a. [Kim ___-jung, recipient of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize], DAE—but actor Daniel Dae Kim is familiar to me, so DAE is a plausible part of a Korean name.

Four more things:

  • 41a. [Frustrating thing to open], PUZZLE BOX. Tricky constructions, typically crafted from wood, that you have to manipulate in very specific ways in order to open. Perhaps the clue should be [Frustrating thing to try to open], as you’re no longer frustrated once you’ve managed to open it.
  • 46a. [News ___ (media giant)], CORP. This is the company where Rupert Murdoch is CEO. Did you hear that his Bel-Air vineyard/estate was damaged (destroyed?) by the Skirball fire this week? Those California wildfires are something else.
  • 13d. [Sign of availability], TO RENT. No, no. This entry is junk. TO LET might be legit in the UK, but in this country, the signs invariably say FOR RENT.
  • 8d. [Refrain syllables], NA NA NA. As heard in “Hey Jude.”

4.3 contented stars from me. Nice work, Paolo! (Except for 13d.)

Mark McClain’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Why Switch?” — pannonica’s write-across

CHE • 12/8/17 • “Why Switch?” • McClain • solution

Swap out the letter Y for X.

  • 17a. [Candle-factory safety rule?] DON’T GET IN THE WAX (… way).
  • 24a. [Results of a vote on weapon preference by medieval warriors?] THE AXES HAVE IT (… ayes …). The theme itself can be seen as an X-Y axis transposition, though there aren’t any Xs in the original phrases to confirm.
  • 42a [Generic liquor-cabinet item?] BRAND X SNIFTER (brandy …). Only one of the four that entails a change in spacing.
  • 54a. [Couple leaving divorce court?] FRESH PAIR OF EXES (… eyes).

Simple idea, but I feel the clever whimsy of the clues elevates it. Some Ys—but no Xs—appear in the non-theme material.

  • 39a [Zeniths] APICES. Variant plural of apex. Mildly echoes the theme. 51d [Wheel turner] AXLE does so more strongly.
  • 16a [Palette feature] HOLE. Momentarily eluded me. Not exactly the first thing one thinks about, the thumb hole. Or at least far from the first thing I thought of.
  • 36a [“Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies,” e.g.] POEM. By EDNA St Vincent Millay.
  • 50a [Curled-up Angora kitten, e.g.] PUFFBALL. Reasoned this was the noncewordish PURRBALL. Why not clue this as the fungus?
  • 11d [Hollywood family name in an A&E paranormal reality show] LOWE. There are so many levels of me not wanting to know anything more about this.
  • 23d [Pseudonymous Dickens illustrator] PHIZ. Indeed it was adopted to ‘harmonize’ with Dickens’ own pseudonym, Boz. Oh and the guy’s real name was Hablot Knight Browne—what a mouthful.
  • 27d [How fish may be packed] IN OILON ICE, IN ICE. Okay.
  • 47d [Outlying postal rtes.] RFDS. “Rural Free Delivery”.
  • 49d [Co-worker of Alice and Flo at Mel’s Diner] VERA. What a fount of crosswordy names was that show. Plus, VIC Tayback. See also 14a [Natural soother] ALOE.
  • 5d [Department or river in eastern France] AIN. Didn’t know this, thought it was going to be AIX, which is a name component of various localities, but not a river.

Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Things associated with two unrelated famous people with the same name are juxtaposed with AND. That is the theme. Rocky of children’s TV is associated with NATASHA, Rocky of film CREED. Homer poet, poetry; Homer cartoon character MARGE. Spock TV LOGIC; spock author BABIES. Blondie comics DAGWOOD; Blondie music MUSIC.


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11 Responses to Friday, December 8, 2017

  1. David L says:

    Slow but steady for me, finishing in a little more than typical Friday time. The NW corner was the last to fall. SPFS was kind of a random answer for the clue and (as Mr Parker says) there’s nothing about FACTs in general that makes them self-evident.

    I agree that TORENT is pretty bogus. Not used on either side of the Atlantic, as far as I know. I always thought COLEslaw was one word, but google reveals that it shows up as two in quite a few places.

    I still don’t understand what a SUBTWEET is, but then I have never twitted.

    Nice puzzle overall, despite my nitpicky complaints.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Merriam-Webster has coleslaw as one word, and though that’s our primary arbiter for Crosswords With Friends when it comes to what’s hyphenated, capitalized, two words, or one word, it’s too inconvenient to clue SLAW without cole so we overrule MW on that one. Far be it from me to expect the NYT to treat coleslaw as one word when I don’t!

      Also, coleslaw looks like a three-syllable Polish word with a V sound at the end.

  2. Rick Narad says:


    I missed the X-Y switch on this one and thought that it would get a zing since there had been three “exes” in the theme, not a “pair.”

  3. Greg says:

    Pasco’s puzzle was a pleasure, just right for Friday and an effortless pangram, to boot.

    The NW killed my time, because I was led into the wilderness with “other income“ for 4D, instead of “total income.” That worked just fine for 1A (the incorrect “shoo” instead of “scat”) and 15A (the incorrect “heat” instead of “popo”).

    It took me a while to straighten that out.

  4. Gareth says:

    Anyone else have Medea going “I ain’t scared of no popo!” running through their heads?

  5. Steve Manion. says:

    Hard puzzle for me.

    TOTAL INCOME is line 22 of your 1040. Adjusted gross income appears on line 37. Is there any deduction or credit that is specifically related to line 22? Under most reporting situations that I am aware of, line 37 is a far more relevant number.


  6. Norm says:

    NYT was tough but fair. A lot of stuff I did not know, but the crossings let one make an educated guess, and that’s all I ask for.
    LAT was a lot of fun.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Thanks, Norm. The LAT idea came to me at ACPT back in March. This year’s puzzle #5 involved rebus squares filled by DNA, while also switching pieces of the long answers, producing “recombinant DNA!” While struggling through it, I had AND instead of DNA at first, where the base phrase started out BORISANDNATASHA. I thought the mechanism involved something like having two very different possible answers depending on the identity of X. That turned out not to be the case, and I stumbled on the right approach before time expired – good thing, since I’m a retired Biology prof, and I should know my DNA! — but the idea stayed in my mind, and this puzzle is the result. Thus “Two foes of Rocky” produced NATASHAANDCREED, “Two loves of Homer” for POETRYANDMARGE, etc. The choices are very limited for pairs of real/imaginary luminaries identifiable by a single name. For instance, Jane Seymour, Anne Hathaway, or Steve McQueen wouldn’t work because you couldn’t just have Jane, Anne, or Steve in the clue. By the way, there were many nice comments on the LAT Crossword Corner about several of the clever clues, and I’d like to state for the record that most of them were Rich’s.

    • Matthew G. says:

      The NYT was great. I usually have trouble with pop culture clues but these were in my wheelhouse. RADIO GA GA is not something one can lay at the feet of the constructor’s age as it probably came out two decades before he was born, or more. Knew that lyric instantly. To be honest, other than SUBTWEET, not much here that is DERNIER CRI.

      But I agree with Amy re: TO RENT. That just doesn’t work. The only real stain on an otherwise gorgeous, gorgeous puzzle.

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