Wednesday, March 7, 2018

AV Club 8:09 (Ben) 


LAT 2:56 (Joon) 


NYT 4:15 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Natan Last, Andy Kravis & the JASA Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 7 18, no 0307

The theme revealer is 57a. [Driving test challenge … or a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters], PARALLEL PARKING, and the circled letters within medium to long answers spell various car makes, “parked” parallel to one another in the grid. There are an AUDI and FORD within CLAUDIUS and UP FOR DISCUSSION; MINI and OPEL in DOMINI and IT’S HOPELESS; and SMART and HONDA in CHRIS MARTIN and SHONDA. Cute. Not sure from a gridding standpoint whether it was truly necessary to make the grid 16 squares tall, but the open chunks would have been less spacious.

I love “DON’T EVEN” and “OH MY LORD” most of all in this puzzle. When your open corners have PSIS and OTOE crossing CAPOS, when you’ve dropped an IRED into the grid … those are things I might say.

Least familiar name in the grid: 41d. [Mother of Perseus], DANAE. Or maybe it’s the preservative BHT.

That [Dutch export], the TULIP, is my favorite flower. Anyone know where the cut tulips sold in the U.S. are produced? Are they domestic, Dutch, or other? Cursory Googling didn’t give me the answer.

How’d you like the puzzle? 3.6 stars from me.

Craig Stowe’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Course Additions” — Jim’s review

No way! WAY!

WSJ – Wed, 3.7.18 – “Course Additions” by Craig Stowe

  • 17a [Track for truck races?] PICK-UP SPEEDWAY. Pick up speed.
  • 30a [Canal in Vatican City?] HOLY WATERWAY. Holy water.
  • 39a [Elaborate interstate?] FANCY FREEWAY. Fancy free.
  • 58a [Really short transit line?] FOOTLONG SUBWAY. Footlong sub.

If you ask any patron of a Subway sandwich restaurant what “sub” is short for, how many do you think are going to say “submarine”? I almost dinged that last entry for being a real thing, but it’s not of course, and so the entry is valid.

Still, there’s one thing I would have liked to see in the list of entries. One is for boats, one is for trains, and two are for cars (or trucks). It would have been nice if we could have had four different modes of transportation (to include planes, perhaps). This could’ve been done by replacing the first one with UNEARNED RUNWAY or MIDNIGHT RUNWAY, perhaps.

I do like the choice to put the 14-letter entries in the 3rd and 13th rows; that’s not something you see every day. It’s made possible by the addition of blocks in the NE and SW corners. We end up with stacks of 8-letter entries in those corners making the grid feel almost themeless, and meanwhile, the theme entries get more space between them, allowing for fewer constraints in the center of the grid.

Still, there’s some unsavory fill in there like IS OUT, singular ALGA, and plural NOONS crossing unsightly GO I with its unsympathetically Shakespearean clue [“To her ___, a jolly thriving wooer”: “Richard III”]. Yikes. If you have to have GO I in your grid, help your solvers get past it with a clue like [“…for the grace of God ___”]. That way, we can move on to the better stuff more quickly.

And there’s some good stuff here like YUK IT UP and ANTIGONE (which, to me,  always looked like some as-seen-on-TV product: “Buy new Anti-Gone today!”). Honorary mentions for BEDTIME, ALL WET, SLINKY, INCUBATE, and INNUENDO.

How ’bout that cluing? Either I was on the wrong wavelength, or it was just tough today. I especially struggled in the NW with RAJAS [Bilaspur bigwigs], SAKS [Barneys rival], and JOCKEY [Person who might raise a crop] (good clue, but some nifty misdirection). Elsewhere I struggled with [It might serve a story] for GIRDER (still not sure how it “serves” a story), [Nonflowering plant] for ALGA, [Saint Bernard, e.g.] for MONK, and [When to retire] for BED TIME. I had ___ AGE because 28a [Get by asking] looked like BEG (it was BUM).

Speaking of wrong answers, I also had DEMONIZE for [Vilify] instead of TEAR DOWN and MUNDO for [Watteau’s world] instead of MONDE (don’t ask me why). The upshot was that this felt more like a Thursday WSJ puzzle than a Wednesday.

But it all still worked. I struggled unhappily with some of the cluing, but maybe that was just me. Despite a few hiccups here and there, the puzzle is solid.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword—joon’s write-up

Los Angeles Times crossword solution 03.07.18

hello everyone, joon here. the theme is given at 61d, FOOT: {Body part whose parts are aptly found at the bottom of this puzzle’s four longest answers}. what are those longest answers?

  • {Sunday dinner side dish} ROASTED POTATOES.
  • {Driving} AT THE WHEEL.
  • {Gravy thickener} CORN STARCH.
  • {Summer Olympics event since 1996} BEACH VOLLEYBALL.

it’s nice that all four FOOT parts are four letters long, and they all form only a part of the word in the theme entry itself. slightly inelegant that BALL means BALL in VOLLEYBALL whereas the others are totally unrelated, but i didn’t mind much. the theme was hidden well enough that i really had no idea what the theme was until i got to the FOOT clue.

having the FOOT at the bottom is, i guess, a decent enough reason to have a theme that runs vertically.

the fill was okay. i looked askance at {Culinary student’s assent} YES CHEF, which seems extremely roll-your-own. it was surprising to see WOMEN right next to WAC and have them not be cross-referenced, but i suppose there’s no reason you would have to put in a cross-reference just because one presents itself. there’s already one where PALEO/DIETS are clued together, which is a nice touch.

that’s all i’ve got. 3.5 stars.

Joon Pahk and Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX, “Funny Money” — Ben’s Review

Hey, I know both of the authors of this week’s AVCX puzzle!  They’re okay.  Joon and Brendan have partnered up for “Funny Money”, which is slightly oversized from the standard 15×15 and has a 3.5/5 in difficulty.  Let’s dig into what’s going on:

  • 18A: Inveterate fabricator (Turkey) — PATHOLOGICAL LIAR
  • 23A: 1979 war movie that ends with the line “The horror … the horror!” (South Korea) — APOCALYPSE NOW
  • 43A: Stance on a martial arts movie poster (Mexico) — ACTION POSE
  • 61A: Hot tub feature (Thailand)? —WHIRLPOOL BATH
  • 69A: Bitcoin and Ethereum … or a literal description of this puzzle’s theme — CRYPTOCURRENCIES

Yep, every single one of these clues (minus the revealer) acts as a cryptic-style anagram indicator for a bevy of world currencies – the Turkish RIAL, Korean WON, Mexican PESOs, and Thai BAHT.

I don’t have much in the way of other solving notes this time around – the rest of the fill here felt pretty clean and varied, and the theme itself had a nice AHA after the solve.

4.25/5 stars.

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31 Responses to Wednesday, March 7, 2018

  1. Penguins says:

    I found the NYT mazel tough

    • Papa John says:

      I found it more of a challenge than a typical Wednesday, which is fine with me. I would have rated it a bit higher than Amy did.

    • Norm says:

      The shalala, Chris Martin, and Shona all together and all popular culture knowledge bogged me down

    • Penguins says:

      From Wordplay’s Deb Amlen: “Today’s crossword is brought to us by the J.A.S.A. crossword class, run by the Jewish Association Serving the Aging in New York City.”

      • Sheik Yerbouti says:

        Shalala as song syllables seems pretty questionable to me. All I can think of is Brown Eyed Girl as an example, and even for that it’s a partial. Why not clue it as the former cabinet secretary??

        • Ethan says:

          I always think of the Family Ties theme song.

        • Barry Neal says:

          Check out “Baby It’s You” by The Shirelles (& later covered by The Beatles), and “Let’s Live For Today” by The Grass Roots

  2. Dedie says:

    Don’t tulips come from Holland Michigan?

  3. artlvr says:

    WSJ — ALGAE don’t flower, true… but they do bloom! An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in freshwater or marine water systems, and is recognized by the discoloration in the water from their pigments. Cyanobacteria were mistaken for algae in the past, so cyanobacterial blooms are sometimes also called algal blooms. ;-)

  4. Papa John says:

    There’s a bulb farm in Mossyrock, the next town down the road from Morton, where I live. I’m told between it and the farms north of Seattle, tulip production rivals that of Holland.

  5. Papa John says:

    Liz’s puzzle was lot of fun, what many here would call “lively”.

  6. David L says:

    It would have been a pretty fancy 3″ nail that once had a TENPENNY price. It was 10d for a hundred, according to the Google, or for a “long hundred”, whatever that might have been (no time to google further).

    • Mark says:

      I had the same thought — that must be the (old) Whole Foods Market price. Long hundred is apparently equal to 120.

      What can a banana cost? $10?
      — Job Bluth

  7. Ethan Friedman says:

    You left out TRAC and DYADS in the subpar fill category. Good theme, some good long fill, but too much crosswordese

  8. lemonade714 says:

    Joon, if you watched any of the many cooking shows now on air, the phrase “YES CHEF” is now in the language. LINK as well as a book and pans.

    • joon says:

      fair enough. i don’t, in fact, watch any of the cooking shows. i’m glad to hear it’s an actual thing.

      • Matt Skoczen says:

        I watch cooking shows all the time. It’s not a fair phrase, at all, imo. I think it’s only in-the-language to a minimal of wanna-be TV chefs who want their 15 minutes of fame and the TV cook show viewers (not a large audience) who hear it.. Again, a veteran favored constructor will get away with a lot lot more than other constructors. I’d bet a million dollars if I sent a grid in with that phrase, it would have been rejected hands-down on that phrase alone, not too mention that I would have been further rejected that BALL is a word itself while TOES, HEEL, and ARCH are part of (found in the) other theme words, not as stand alone words. So many of my rejections have been the 3 to 1 ratio is inelegant and not of suitable quality, etc. Crossword construction for me is not the joy it once was because of such nonsense and constructor favoritism.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Is it possible the editor(s) are actually saying no because you’re difficult to work with and accuse them of favoritism in public venues?

          • Matt Skoczen says:

            No editor has ever said I’m hard to work with, and I have always been invited to send in more submissions by each and every editor I’ve worked with. My time schedule, unfortunately, only allows minimal time for me to do something I like creatively. I rather air my issues publicly than behind editors’ backs (if that’s venting, sorry) because, I do know, from what I’ve been rejected on and what has been printed by certain constructors, feel there is favoritism (or whatever word it might come down to). This happens is all I’m saying and I feel I’m entitled to be annoyed by it…look at all the Hollywood drama and crises coming to light after women have spoken up. Maybe “things” will change here; we’re always asking about the limited number of women in xwords. Let me add–One example: I did a 15×15 on the theme around J&B Scotch. It was denied because I was told expressly the editor would not promote a product in a puzzle. Within months, a much-often published constructor had a puzzle published with DOS EQUIS (the beer) as the reveal. Why was J&B SCOTCH not permissible but DOS EQUIS (beer) was? I’m not trying to start anything. I just don’t like injustice in any way, shape, or form. This is a venue where I like to read and learn about anything from themes to cluing to cute responses and insightful comments. My intention is not to be mean. But I have serious issues at times, and a forum (or blog or whatever this is–I’m not good with computer terms) like this I would hope help me. But, I know that too many seem to be too sensitive and I really wish I could just not write even when I feel wronged because I’m only knocked down for such stuff. If anyone was offended, I guess, once again, I must say “I apologize.”

  9. Martin says:

    Most of the tulips I get for ikebana from the wholesale flower market come from Colombia.

    • Zulema says:

      I thought most of the flowers sold by florists come from Colombia., at least in NY. And while I am here, I’ll make another comment re a NYT entry. My younger grandson, 21 at the time, took and passed his driver’s license test in California last year, I believe in either Alameda or Santa Clara County. He had had difficulties before, and I asked his mother if that had to do with PARALLEL PARKING. She said they don’t even test for PARALLEL PARKING. What?!!

  10. Pat says:

    When I visited the Netherlands I was given the impression that they don’t export Tulips, they export Tulip bulbs which bring in a lot more money than the flowers. Even before the blooms die in the spring, huge machines go through all those brightly colored fields and chop of the heads. Then the bulbs are dug up.

  11. janie says:

    avcx — i believe that should be the turkish LIRA…


  12. Matt Skoczen says:

    RE LAT: Joon: So happy you wrote this! “….the fill was okay. i looked askance at {Culinary student’s assent} YES CHEF, which seems extremely roll-your-own…” This is a stretch to beat all stretches! Again, I will never understand the thinking of an editor, (but, as I’ve noted the specifics before of what I think when it comes to editors/constructors leeways, I won’t rewrite again since it caused an “uproar” of sorts the last time) and all I know is that that puzzle would have been sent back to me to remove the phrase. So, does this mean we can now add YES (or NO) before any job title, and it’ll be acceptable? I think not. (e.g. NOOFFICER, MAYBEBUDDY, YESDOCTOR, etc.)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      See Lemonade’s comment above re: YES CHEF.

      • lemonade714 says:

        Thank you Amy; please read the link I inserted Matt.

        • Matt Skoczen says:

          So one basic phrase in a limited or not all-too-common TV series warrants acceptable crossword fill. I’ll be sure to watch the next stupid Kardashian show or episode or some random TV show on Station “X” that no one sees, gets, or watches, so I can include it in my next grid…just because. I guarantee it will not be acceptable. YESCROSSWORDBLOGGER.

    • scrivener says:

      I’m responding late because I fell behind on puzzles this week. I was annoyed as heck when I typed in YESCHEF, but in my job this past year, I’ve interviewed two executive chefs and one sous chef, and even although the chefs were all very nice and friendly with their staffs, whenever they asked for something, the answer was always “yes, chef.” I was surprised at the deference, which is why I remember it so clearly. I think this is a thing.

  13. NonnieL says:

    The NYT puzzle is VERY similar to the May 12, 2017 WSJ crossword contest by Matt Gaffney, which also included MINI and OPEL, as well as FORD and AUDI, stacked together. Here is the review from this site:

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      It’s somewhat similar, but my contest answer was “Double Parking” while this one’s is PARALLEL PARKING. I think double parking fits better as an image since two cars parked side-by-side like that is what double parking is, while parallel parking is parking them front-to-back along the street. But if you take the meaning literally then of course this way works fine.

      This isn’t a case of copying, if that’s what you are wondering; if you get the double/parallel parking idea then there are only so many automakers to use, and FORD/AUDI have nicely meshing letters as do OPEL and MINI, so their pairings would be natural.

      • NonnieL says:

        I am most definitely NOT accusing anyone of copying. I was just curious. The themes and the execution of these 2 puzzles were SO similar. Reviewers on this site often point out when they see a theme that is similar to one they’ve seen before. As an aspiring constructor, I’m attempting to come up with original themes, and I was wondering how bad it would be if I accidentally repeated a theme that’s been done before.

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