Friday, March 16, 2018

CHE untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 6:32 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:13 (Amy) 


Big announcement! Crossworder Nate Cardin has assembled a fund-raiser puzzle pack called Queer Qrosswords. Donate $10 or more to an LGBTQ+ charity, forward your receipt to Nate, and you’ll get a PDF packet of 22 brand-new crosswords by LGBTQ+ constructors. The roster includes all-stars like Trip Payne, David Quarfoot, and Tracy Bennett along with newer puzzlemakers like Jenna LaFleur, Claire Muscat, and Becca Greenstein. The Queer Qrosswords site includes links to nearly 50 orgs you might donate to, though you’re free to choose another LGBTQ-focused charity that’s near and dear to your heart.

Nate was kind enough to send me the entire puzzle pack when I asked for a couple sample puzzles. I just did the themeless by Quarfoot (how I’ve missed his puzzles!) and themed puzzles by LaFleur & Finn Vigeland, Bennett & Cardin, and Greenstein & Sam Trabucco—a lively batch of crosswords, sprinkled with clues, answers, and themes that embrace the gamut of queer life. Along with 17 themed puzzles, there are 5 themelesses (). I look forward to solving them all! (And of course I will follow up with a donation—probably to Center on Halsted, which does so much good right here in Chicago.)

Congrats to all involved in creating and test-solving Queer Qrosswords, including Team Fiend’s own Dave Sullivan and Andy Kravis. Kudos to Nate for actively seeking out women to contribute puzzles; the bylines come a lot closer to gender parity than the newspaper crossword venues do.—Amy

Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 16 18, no 0316

Robyn’s byline is one I look forward to seeing on themeless puzzles, and this 70-worder didn’t disappoint. Not much in the way of “wow, never thought I’d see that in a crossword” entries, but still lively. FRESHENS UP, puzzle lover SONDHEIM, FLOORS IT, MACINTOSH, the LIVING DEAD, CLASS CLOWN, “IN ANY EVENT,” VEGETARIAN, KING ARTHUR, and SOUND BITES all appealed.

Five things:

  • 44a. [Largest moon of Pluto], CHARON. Dang, I needed so many of the crossings to get this one. Why are we still being quizzed on Pluto as if it were a legit planet?
  • 33a. [Restaurant cook on TV’s “2 Broke Girls”], OLEG. We saw the beginning of one episode in syndication and couldn’t bear to keep watching. In addition to the racially obtuse characterization of the diner’s Asian owner, there was the way the waitress protagonists talked smack about a table of customers (they were nerds! *faints*) who were about six feet away. I can suspend disbelief for plenty of sitcoms but servers who are that blatantly rude get written up on Yelp and probably get fired, in addition to earning no tips from the customers they slag on.
  • 43a. [Three-ingredient sandwich], BLT. Technically, it’s at least five. Bread (which itself contains a bunch of ingredients), bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
  • 4d. [Where you might hear someone say “Duck!”], POND. We would also have accepted HARBOR or LAKE. Last weekend, I might have seen some red-breasted mergansers in a Lake Michigan harbor. Huge birding hotspot over there. (Still have never seen a SMEW, TEAL, or ERNE.)
  • 26d. [Menu heading], VEGETARIAN. I filled in VEGETABLES first. Anyone else? I feel like I see vegetarian items mingling within the general menu sections, with a little “V” or something to convey meatlessness. Granted, vegetables are probably listed under Sides rather than Vegetables.

Filler words like ETD URSA ESTE are pretty dull, but they’re used sparingly here so I can abide it.

3.9 stars from me. How’d it treat you?

Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The theme concept is very clever, though the revealer is a little generic – TURNABOUT . Four two part sports answers can make other real phrases when their parts are re-arranged. The re-arranged words are in the grid, but the clues match the original.

Sport 1, handegg – [Prepares to pass the football], DROPSBACK. Sport 2, [Baseball position], SHORTSTOP. #3, [Strokes in tennis], OVERHEADS. #4, FASTBREAK is a [Basketball strategy].

Curiously specific clue of the day – [Amino acid used in protein biosynthesis] for ALANINE. All the twenty standard amino acids (plus another two) are used in protein biosynthesis so that’s hardly needed in the clue. I guess there are actually more non-proteinogenic amino acids, but they’re not ones you’ll likely come across.

Factually incorrect clue of the day – [Picadilly Circus statue], EROS. Nope, the statue is canonically of Anteros, his brother.

Most hilarious mistake I made… [Derby VIPs], dOnKEYS not JOCKEYS. Um, I rationalised that it was some sort of jocular slang that they must use…

Ugliest fille zone: SCABBED clued as a verb, with BORGE, odd prefix AGRO, and DIDOS as [Pranks]. OK then.

2.75 Stars

Victor Barocas’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Broadway Intermissions” — Jenni’s review

Quickly, because I’m late for work:

I REALLY liked this theme. Thanks, Victor and Brad! We have Broadway show titles with an “intermission” between the two words of each title.

CHE 3/16, solution grid

  • 17a [2002 Tony nominee for Best Musical] is MAMMA. That’s not right. Next door we have MIAMI VICE, which gives us MAMMA MIA.
  • 25a [1991 Tony nominee for Best Musical] is SAIGON, and this time the addition is at the beginning of the title. Take the last letters of REMISS and you get MISS SAIGON.
  • 39a [2007 Tony nominee for Best Musical] is POPPINS, preceded by PRIMARY, for MARY POPPINS.
  • 52a [2004 Tony winner for Best Musical] is AVENUE, followed by QUIRKY, so that’s AVENUE Q.
  • 65a [2003 Tony winner for Best Musical] is SPRAY, preceded by HIGH CHAIR, for HAIR SPRAY.

Consistent, fun, amusing, and different from anything I’ve seen before. The fill was also good.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that SEMIRAMIS was a queen. How did I not know that?

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16 Responses to Friday, March 16, 2018

  1. Martin says:

    Amy says:

    44a. [Largest moon of Pluto], CHARON. Dang, I needed so many of the crossings to get this one. Why are we still being quizzed on Pluto as if it were a legit planet?

    Martin says:

    Maybe because the Pluto/Charon system was a major news item in July 2016. There are many photographs that can be found on Google now. In my opinion, it’s not that trivial for a Friday NYT crossword.

    Just because Pluto was reclassified (after the discovery of Eris), in no way diminishes its importance. Regardless of nomenclature: it’s still the same object. Is something important because of name only?

    However, your mileage may vary ;)


    • Martin says:

      I think I detected Amy’s tongue planted in her cheek, but the five moons of Pluto are all wonderful allusions to the Underworld. Charon is, of course, the ferryman who takes the departed across the Styx. Nix is his mother. Kerberos is Pluto’s guard dog and Hydra is the monster that watches over the entrance to the Underworld. Her nine heads allude to the former glory days when Pluto was the ninth planet.

      Adding to Charon’s coolness are the Gallifrey Macula and Tardis Chasma. Any astronomical body with features named for “Doctor Who” will always have a special place in my heart.

      • Martin says:

        “I think I detected Amy’s tongue planted in her cheek …”

        Yes, I know. I just thought I’d drop by and grace her comments section with my encyclopedic knowledge of Wikipedia.


      • Ethan Friedman says:

        Today in fun trivia: Kerberos means “spotted” in ancient Greek.

        Yes, the fearsome Lord of the Underworld has a dog named … Spot

  2. Martin says:

    … and the crossword treated my just fine! Good puzzle :)


  3. Steve Manion. says:

    I put in APPETIZERS for menu heading. That held me up for a while in an otherwise easy and fun puzzle.


  4. jim hale says:

    Excellent Friday puzzle.

  5. Lise says:

    I filled in “vegetables” first too. And I liked the comment about the BLT. My husband and I have published a geocache where one can put together a BLT, accumulating the B, L, T, and Mayo to get the coordinates for the final sandwich. The Mayo is the most controversial. Cachers seem to stand firmly on one side or another of mayonnaise on a BLT, in their logs (if they mention it at all). And it has to be the right brand. I had no idea that mayonnaise is so divisive.

    Wonderful puzzle! Thanks, Ms Weintraub. Good start to my day.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Lise, that sounds like a fun multicache/puzzle. What’s your geocaching name? Ours is Team Peredox.

  6. Gareth says:

    Come to Cape Town and visit the famous Strandfontein Water Treatment Plant (no really, it’s Cape Town’s #1 birding spot, and plenty of tour guides take international birders there…) We don’t have smews or ernes (since they’re European), but there are three species of teal found regularly… Cape, Red-billed, and the elusive and stunning Hottentot Teal (one of only two places I’ve seen them, but they’re pretty reliable there!)

  7. Penguins says:

    Colorful and enjoyable NYT. Nice CHE and LAT themes.

  8. Zulema says:

    Love all the comments about today’s NYT and the CHE write-up. The NYT comments were especially educational. Thank you all, and also Ms Weintraub and Will.

  9. CSC says:

    There was an NYT daily puzzle some months back that also played with the theme of Broadway intermissions. Instead, it was phrases whose first and last letters were circled and formed the name of a Broadway show (example: (CA)MOPAN(TS) for CATS), with the uncircled letters identified by the revealer as the “INTERMISSION.”

  10. Jim Peredo says:

    Just wanted to come here and say how much I enjoyed the Puzzle Society’s crossword by Scot Ober and Jeff Chen with its fun and clever theme. You can solve it online here.

    • Norm says:

      It was cute, but the theme answers didn’t match the Brexit pattern since [spoiler alert] they didn’t truncate the country name, and I’m not cutting them slack for the “inspired by” cluing. Meh.

      • Jim Peredo says:

        I agree that they didn’t match the pattern, but the puzzle wouldn’t have worked if they did. At least, it would have been a lot less fun. I found the entries to be fanciful and chuckle-worthy and that trumps accuracy in my book. They were consistent within themselves and that’s what’s important (IMO).

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