Friday, January 19, 2018

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 5:07 (Gareth) 


NYT 6:00 (Amy) 


David Kahn’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 19 18, no 0119

Solved the whole puzzle without being aware that there was a hint/note. So the hint is “The completed puzzle conceals the name of a famous composer, along with something that might help you listen to him. Who and what are they?” That big H made of black squares in the middle of the grid completes the center row and column by connecting two pairs of 4s to make 9-letter answers: BEET and OVEN give BEEThOVEN, and EARP and ONES yield EARPhONES. I really do prefer my Friday puzzles to be themeless, with a focus on providing the best fill and interesting clues. The theme here constrains things such that we end up with the super-uncommon (but in the dictionary) word BORESOME. We all wanted TIRESOME here and you know it. *gavel gavel*

One more thing: When your theme gimmick includes ONES, you ought to steer clear of fill like ALL-IN-ONE PRINTER and ONE TO TEN. (See also: ISN’T right above NOT A LOT.) Grids are certainly more elegant without such repetitions.

Seven more things:

  • 12d. [1966 Pulitzer-winning Edward Albee play, with “A”], DELICATE BALANCE. 15-letter entries with a [… with “The”] or [… with “A”] tacked on, irk me. There’s probably a workable clue for the phrase outside of the play’s title.
  • Obligatory cute panda picture

    35a. [Healthful juice source], BEET. *chug chug chug* Actually, beet juice’s calories are mostly from sugar. That’s pretty unhealthy for a lot of folks.

  • 16a. [Hardin-Simmons University setting], ABILENE. Never heard of it. It’s a small school with Division III sports.
  • 23a. [Shipload], TON. That … would be a pretty empty ship with a single ton of cargo.
  • 45d. [Beguilers], TEASES. Would you give me a f*cking break with this word being clued as a damned noun? Try the verb! You will like it! Keep sex and sexism out of the clue and not a single person will be pissed off at you. (Has the NYT crossword learned nothing from the entire #MeToo/Time’s Up movement?)
  • 47a. [___ Lan (giant panda born at the 17-Across zoo)], MEI. He was assigned female at birth, but is male.
  • 44a. [Virtual connection?], EDATE. People don’t actually use that term, do they?

2.75 stars from me. BORESOME alone pulled the puzzle’s score down a good chunk.

Victor Fleming and the LifeQuest of Arkansas Puzzle Class’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Terrific Crossword” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 1/19/18 • “Terrific Crossword” • Fleming, LifeQuest of Arkansas Puzzle Class • solution

Simple theme idea, commendably executed. 18d [Bigrams on display in this puzzle’s five longest answers] CCS. Specifically, the doubled Cs link the ends of the theme phrases’ first words with the starts of the second words. Let’s see what we can find:

  • 17a. [Ride furnisher in a 1968 Steppenwolf hit] MAGIC CARPET.
  • 24a. [Place that might have pools and courts, familiarly] REC CENTER. Recreation, obv.
  • 33a. [Nashville, to many] MUSIC CITY (, USA).
  • 44a. [Inverse trig function] ARC COSINE. Everybody loves inverse trigonometry functions in crosswords, right?
  • 51a. [“Rosemary’s Baby” circle (spoiler alert!)] SATANIC CULT. Wasn’t their incantatory refrain UVEA AVEENO ERA? (Row 2)

See? See? Not too shabby.

  • 19a [ __ chi (exercise regimen)] TAI. Seems trivializing, reductive, superficial. It’s principally a philosophy of being and movement.
  • 37a [Cylinder on a rural skyline] SILO. Preposition choice: “on” vs “in”. Go!
  • How about 11d [“No more procrastinating!”] GET AT IT; “at” vs “on”. Go!
  • 43a [Dweller on the Caspian Sea] MEDE. Whoa, where’d that one come from? Some spackle for that triple seven-stack. See also 7d [Flying up front?] AER-. Ouch.
  • 48a [One sharing the top spot, for short] CO-CHAMP. Stuck with CO-CHAIR for quite a while.
  • 50a [Brian of glam rock] ENO. Went with MAY first. ENO is more typically clued in association with other genres besides his time with Roxy Music, D Bowie, et al.
  • 59a [Pollen is produced in them] SACS. Not a fan of this clue. Seems simultaneously too specific and slightly inaccurate. Many better was to clue this simple word.
  • 4d [Puts a coat on, so to speak] PAINTS. Cute.
  • 10d [Lord’s Prayer starter, in Lourdes] NOTRE, 13d [Authority figure at une école] MAÎTRE.
  • 16a [NOW cause defeated in 1982] ERA. Yeah, thanks for reminding us here in 2018.
  • 33d [Stick in a book] MATCH. Hmm, hadn’t had cause to reflect on this previously, but seems to me that a match stick is in a box, whereas a matchbook contains cardboardy lengths that are just called matches.
  • 36d [“Masked” scavenger] RACCOON (~cc~). Sometime scavenger. Opportunistic omnivore. Yes, I’m going to nitpick casual anti-animal slurs great and small when I see them.
  • 2d [Images representing gamers] AVATARS. Here are some Cardcaptor Sakura (CCS) avatars.
  • 38d [California county containing Ojai and Thousand Oaks] VENTURA. Heh, slipping in crosswordy OJAI.
  • 47d [Floor cleaner, casually] VAC, 49d [Karaoke equipment, briefly]  MICS. Oh hi, CCs!

Solid but relatively unexciting crossword.

Debbie Ellerin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

I found this theme a lot more transparent than most Fridays. Spotted it at HAND(EYE) and confirmed with NAKED(EYE). I was prepared to believe HAWK sans (EYE), but once I got to NAKED that penny dropped too. In short, all the edge answers need an EYE added to answer their clues.

I find such themes typically a) fairly repetitive, and b) liable to induce worse than normal fill. That said, we get a cute, fresh revealer in SIDEEYE and longer answers like KATYPERRY, CHEESEDIP and MADMEN. I also think the puzzle was filled with a lot more care than I’ve seen with some of this type of theme.


  • [Wolverine rival], BUCK(EYE). Presume this is university sports. I was focusing on the X-men angle.
  • [Jodie Foster title role], NELL. Google sez it’s a 1994 that box officed $106 million. I still haven’t heard of it, FWIW.
  • [E alternative?], SNAIL. Clunk. Was thinking drugs, but this is trying to cutely refer to MAIL.
  • [Arctic trout], CHAR. A very obscure noun to use when there is a common enough verb. Quirky choice!
  • [French epic hero], ROLAND. Also a warrior from the Land of the Midnight Sun…
  • [Skin-and-bones sort], SCRAG. Crossing GOOD(EYE) was my last square.

3.75 Stars

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21 Responses to Friday, January 19, 2018

  1. Dr Fancypants says:

    I met my wife through online dating, so I feel somewhat qualified to say that no, no one calls it an EDATE.

    • Huda says:

      Is there an example of a word in the language that refers to anything done online by sticking an E at the start?

      • Brian says:

        Email, e-reader, esports?

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Esports? What is that—online video gaming, or something else? I haven’t seen the word enough to have any idea what it is.

          • Basically yes, but it’s competitive video gaming, with tournaments and everything. I used it in a puzzle last year.

          • Brian says:

            Yeah, I think the term is mostly used for professional video game playing. There are different leagues and you can bet on them at sportsbooks. I imagine it’ll start showing up in crosswords soon, probably not too often because it’s seven letters long. IMO it’s a totally legit entry, and a couple steps above e-card, e-vite, etc.

          • Steve Manion. says:

            Six or seven years ago, my son was a Rank 1 Rogue in World of Warcraft and got to play in a 12 team tournament with $50,000 prize money. The tournament was streamed to 17,000 clearly juvenile males and had two color commentators. My son’s team finished ninth and only three or four teams cashed.

            I just checked online to see how much the prize money has increased over the years and the results are truly astronomical. There is currently one called Dota 2 with a prize pool of $24,600,000.


      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Email, e-file your tax return, those e-cards my in-laws like to send, the ebooks on your Kindle, e-commerce (which I think is more commonly used than etail, which crosswords would have you believe is a regular word that people use). I wouldn’t cry foul if these ones popped up in a crossword, but e-cash and e-date and e-note and a zillion others I’ve seen in puzzles are such hapless excuses for fill.

        • Matt M. says:

          Does anybody have a link to an e-mag article that categorizes all of these terms?

          • huda says:

            haha, you’re all right, of course. I did ask it in an extreme way… but the list is not as long as crossworldom makes it seem…

  2. David says:

    NYT: Awful. DNF, and even with plenty of outside help, it was still DNF.

    • Zulema says:

      Me too, DNF and also even with help. Too many clues with question marks and others simply weirdly clued.

  3. Amy F says:

    No mention of “desert” being used in a clue (Gobi desert) and as an answer? It feels pretty glaring to me.

  4. Lise says:

    In 1998 the Word of the Year from the American Dialectic Society was “e-“, as in EDATE. Remembering this, helped me get EDATE from having filled in only ED___ where I was trying to have the ED as a syllable of its own, and SNAIL from “E alternative”. Although not technically a word, it seems to be in our vocabulary to stay.

  5. Mark Simpson says:

    A few qualms. Teases is a totally legitimate noun. Don’t need to find something to get upset about in every puzzle. Beet juice is quite healthy. Caloric intake should not be extraordinary, but counting calories is not going to serve your body well if you are not getting the proper nutritional intake within those calories. Yes it has sugar, but the way the body processes the sugar from a beet is far different from that found in, say, a Pepsi. It is misleading to conflate the two. Lastly Mei Lan wasn’t “assigned female” at birth. He was misidentified as a female and soon after found to be male.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “Teases” is generally used in a sexist way (as shorthand for cock-teases), and it’s dumb to choose that meaning for a clue when various verb senses exist (teasing as in kidding around with someone, teasing your hair).

      The “assigned female” bit was a joke.

  6. Burak says:

    I wanted to give the NYT 0 star, but that wasn’t an option so I had to give it 1 star.

    Made up words (EDATE, PALEDRY etc.), indecipherable clues, lazy fill, weak theme that’s not even a theme, obscure references… This is easily the worse puzzle of the year. I can’t fathom a worse one to come.

  7. GG says:

    Pannonica, If masked omnivores used your back stairs on a regular basis as their loo, you might resort to slurs to describe them!

  8. jim hale says:

    I concur with the mob on this one, tedious and annoying for many of the reasons stated. ??????

  9. Noam D. Elkies says:

    CHE: nothing about crossing 11D: GET A TIT with 21A: A BREAST? ;-)

    44A:ARC_COSINE — in the CHE, sure; and nice to see the full name rather than COS etc.
    For the 7-letter word stacked with that, “co-chair” doesn’t fit the clue for 48A:CO-CHAMP because it’s not “short” for anything. (Closer match than COCHLEA, though.) Yes, a pity that 36D:RACCOON contains a doubly non-thematic CC (“doubly” because it’s within a single word). For that matter, it would have been nice to have no other doubles at all (AVEENO, ESS, SSN, MESS) . . . Maybe that kind of thing will be covered in the second semester of the LifeQuest of Arkansas Puzzle Class.

    Thanks for the Brandenburg 5 link; I didn’t know or remember that the cadenza had an earlier version. (I still prefer the extended one that I learned.) I suppose I’ll leave it to others to comment on the 5D clue (Proverbs 27:2 and all that)! :-)


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