Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hex/Quigley untimed (Jenni) 


LAT 8:13 (Amy) 


NYT 9:09 (Amy) 


WaPo 16:02 (Laura) 


Alex Bajcz’s New York Times crossword, “Preposition Proposition”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 15 18, “Preposition Proposition”

Quick recap since I’m on my way out to dinner. Theme takes three-word phrases with a preposition in the middle, glues that preposition to the first with a hyphen, and clues the reinterpreted phrase accordingly:

  • 23a. [Wagers for a gym exercise?], PULL-UP STAKES. Instead of pulling up stakes, you’re placing stakes on pull-ups.
  • 33a. [Bad thing to see under a truck’s hood?], PICK-UP STEAM. It’s probably the radiator.
  • 48a. [Unrecruited athlete’s bottleful?], WALK-ON WATER.
  • 64a. [Timely entrance?], DEAD-ON ARRIVAL.
  • 82a. [Understudy’s delivery?], STAND-IN LINE.
  • 97a. [Scam alert?], PUT-ON NOTICE.
  • 112a. [Fight clubs?], RUN-IN CIRCLES. The first rule of run-in circles …
  • 37d. [Soundtrack for a brawl?], SET-TO MUSIC. Ideally, there wouldn’t also be non-theme 10-letter Downs in the puzzle.
  • 44d. [Compositions often chosen for encores?], GO-TO PIECES. I like this one best.

The theme is maybe a tad dry, but I liked it. The fill felt pretty crisp, too. I liked SHAKE-UP (no real reason not to include prepositions elsewhere in the puzzle, right?), ESCALADE, LOOSE TEA, KNAPSACKS, CLINICIAN, and SALT MINE, and the Scowl-o-Meter only went off for 12d. [Vertical, to a sailor], APEAK.

4.25 stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Silver Screen Spoonerisms” – Laura’s writeup

WaPo - 4.15.18 - Birnholz - Solution

WaPo – 4.15.18 – Birnholz – Solution

[Glowing halo covering for German teachings?]: AURA, in for LEHREN. More spoonerisms! Would’ve been a trip to have solved this last Sunday, alongside [Baseball ruse from actor Matthew?] Bat-Trick Perry’s triple-spooner extravaganza. Maybe that’s too many spoons for most people, but I could spoon for hours. Anyway, we get Hollywood actors this time, and there are some funny ones, like so:

  • [23a: Actress Burnett, after taking a spill?]: FALLEN CAROL {Colin Farrell}
  • [25a: Blunt command for a cartoon explorer to gain information?]: DORA LEARN {Laura Dern}
  • [40a: Spin-class nickname for actress Kate or Rooney?]: CYCLE MARA {Michael Cera}
  • [51a: Indecent mandible site?]: LEWD JAW {Jude Law}. Major LOL on this one, and hands-down favorite of the bunch.
  • [55a: Golf rental for angels?]: HEAVEN CART {Kevin Hart}
  • [68a: Late Fox News host Alan, when he was in a Hispanolian nation?]: HAITI COLMES {Katie Holmes}
  • [79a: Hirsute, as a member of an old Total Fitness club would be?]: BALLY HAIRY {Halle Berry}
  • [84a: Pale friend of Tarzan?]: WAN JANE {John Wayne}
  • [97a: Part of an honored British woman’s inheritance?]: DAMES GENE {James Dean}
  • [112a: Creamy cheese on the lam?]: LOOSE BRIE {Bruce Lee}
  • [114a: Path left by a burrowing rodent?]: GOPHER TRACE {Topher Grace}. Second favorite, and particularly elegant (as elegant as possible for a GOPHER) because the spellings don’t change — although that does make it inconsistent with the others.

And … whew. Eleven, count ’em, eleven themers. Took a lot of energy just to type them up. There are a few more cinematic nuggets in the fill, what with [75d: “The Karate Kid” actress]: {Elisabeth} SHUE, [99d: Garfield who played Spider-Man]: ANDREW, and [50a: “Singin’ in the Rain” co-director Stanley]: DONEN.

Other stuff I liked: scientists NIKOLA Tesla and Enrico FERMI, frozen Italian dessert TORTONI, TURTLE clued biologically as [Shelled ectotherm], that RON ARTEST is now named Metta World Peace, HORNED yaks.

[104a: “To wrap up…”]: IN SUM, here is [14a: “Take on Me” band]: A-HA from [1a: Birthplace of King Harald V’s son Haakon]: OSLO covered by Lake Street Dive from Boston, on the A.V. Club (the Onion‘s spin-off entertainment site, not the indie crossword) Undercover series:

Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Mirror Images”—Amy’s write-up

LA Times crossword solution, 4 15 18, “Mirror Images”

The theme answers are two-word phrases where the first word’s last three letters are the reverse of the second word’s first three letters (and those six letters are circled). That … is pretty dry.

  • 22a. [Coastal casino center], ATLANTIC CITY.
  • 33a. [Current route], ELECTRIC CIRCUIT.
  • 47a. [Chinese and Vietnamese], TONAL LANGUAGES.
  • 67a. [Hotel evaluation system], STAR RATINGS. Not sure why “hotel” is specified here. It’s not as if star ratings are inherently hotel-related.
  • 90a. [Three-dimensional arrangement of atoms inside a diamond, say], CRYSTAL LATTICE.
  • 106a. [Article seen daily], NEWSPAPER REPORT.
  • 120a. [Website evaluation tool], USER RESEARCH.

All seven are noun phrases, but I don’t see any other commonality across the theme entries. The clues are dry and factual, and it feels a little weird to have “evaluation” pop up in two theme clues.

The Scowl-o-Meter skittered to life and nearly overheated up top with the AMAH MOTETS EERO RIA TEC spread, and with other dusty fill sprinkled throughout the grid. I know some solvers feel like crosswordese answers are familiar old friends, but I feel they’ve overstayed their welcome by a decade or two. (Listen, EERO, take that PSEUD with you when you go.)

Five more things:

  • 56a. [Some decision makers], TOSSES. As in coin tosses. Dang, I tried to get BOSSES to work here, but it just wasn’t working with prefix INTRA-.
  • 93a. [Acidity-correcting fertilizer], MARL. I needed the crossings for all four letters here. I suspect MARL is far more familiar to most of us as the knit fabrics made from multicolored yarn, like this sweater at Target, or socks, or T-shirts, or …
  • 4d. [Typewriter roller], PLATEN. How old do you have to be to know this word from personal experience with typewriters?
  • 10d. [Follies], IDIOCIES. The dictionary is fine with this plural. After all, how many different sorts of idiocy can you name? At least a dozen, right?
  • 19d. [Longtime TV broadcaster of 87-Across games], KCAL. 87a is LAKER. So I gather KCAL is a local TV station in Southern California? Never heard of it. The kcal as a unit of measure, though, I do know.

2.75 stars from me. I’d have liked more zip to the theme and crisper fill overall.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked Crossword, “Talk to the Animals”—Jenni’s recap

This was just the sort of silly fun to amuse me on a gray, chilly day when I’ve had to go back to a sweater, slacks, and kneesocks after two glorious days of shorts and sandals. Sigh.

The title has it sort of backwards. All the theme entries feature animals talking back to us and thus altering common phrases into wackiness.

  • 24a [Loud horse whisperers?] are NEIGH SAYERS. I’m old enough that this made me think of Mr. Ed.
  • 32a [Amorous, as cows?] is IN THE MOO. This was the first theme entry I encountered as I solved and I thought it might be a rebus ending with some version of MOOED. Nope. That’s an idea, though.
  • 30a [Adios, in Goatspeak?] is GOOD BAA. Did I ever tell you all about the time we found a goat on our front lawn? And we don’t live near Dave.
  • 44d [Standard in cat opera?] is O SOLE MEOW.
  • 47d [Hangouts for pigs?] are OINK SPOTS. Oinka-doinka-doo.
  • 52a [Canine litter?] is ARFSPRING, referring to the offspring of dogs, not a bathroom for cats.
  • 62a [Ovine bard?] is BLEAT POET. This is my favorite.
  • 71a [Efficiency among hens?] is CLUCKWORK.
  • 82a [Where frogs go to chat?] is the CROAKROOM. No tips allowed, or so I’ve been toad.
  • 99a [Where owls train?] is HOOT CAMP.
  • 104a [Laugh like Daffy Duck?] is QUACK UP.
  • 110a [Crows’ controversy?] is a CAWS CELEBRE.

Lighthearted, funny, and a nice start to the day.

A few other things:

  • We start off with 1a [Parisian’s bread]. I entered PAIN immediately and then wondered if they were looking for EURO. Nope. Phew. More French at 70d with [Nice to be?], which is ETRE.
  • Presidents! 11d [19th POTUS] is HAYES and 58d [President James K.] is POLK. Bonus political content: 14d [Election losers] are ALSO RANS.
  • I initially thought 69d [Mate of Yogi] was going to be BooBoo, and as a good Yankee fan, I should be ashamed of myself. The answer is MICK (as in Mantle and Berra).
  • 89d [Mets field name] is CITI. If you’re not paying attention, the Mets lost yesterday for only the second time this season. With Syndergaard pitching today, they have a good chance to start another winning streak.
  • 85d [Waxy passage] is EAR CANAL. Eeeuw.

Very little movie or TV trivia in this one, so I don’t have anything for “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle.” Either I’m getting smarter, or crosswords are getting easier.

I will leave you with this, inspired by 72d [Priest of the East] written, of course, by Ogden Nash.

The one-l lama,
 He's a priest.
 The two-l llama,
 He's a beast.
 And I will bet
 A silk pajama
 There isn't any
 Three-l lllama.*
 *The author's attention has been called to a type of conflagration known
  as a three-alarmer. Pooh.
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38 Responses to Sunday, April 15, 2018

  1. David Steere says:

    WASHINGTON POST PUZZLE: If Evan or anyone has an idea of what’s been wrong with opening the Sunday Washington Post puzzle, please let me know. For several months, the puzzle page is all black when viewed on Firefox Quantum. It still is. Tonight Microsoft Edge also showed the puzzle page with a big black mask and no puzzle listings. After struggling quite a while, I finally got Internet Explorer to show the page without the black masking rectangle. Any explanation would be much appreciated.

    • I don’t know why that’s happened, but I can pass along your comments to the product management team. For what it’s worth I’ve never had problems accessing it on Google Chrome.

      • David Steere says:

        Thanks, Evan. Google Chrome is the one browser I don’t use (and don’t really care to). Something has changed, however, since the three other browsers are all having trouble with the Sunday puzzle page. Last night, either Edge or IE had an “oops” message in the middle of the black masking rectangle. Very, very strange. Thanks for your continued great work.

  2. Lise says:

    NYT: I liked that both of the down theme answers were music-related, a nice sub-theme there. Themes that require me to re-parse a phrase are very enjoyable, as they twist my brain a bit. Favorite fill: TONNEAU, LOOSE TEA, SALT MINE, KNAPSACKS. Oh, and HORTON. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.

    • huda says:

      Yes! HORTON hatching the egg was a favorite of my daughter’s when she was little. And mine too. We loved the surprise ending:

      ” ‘My goodness! My gracious!’ they shouted. ‘MY WORD!
      It’s something brand new!

      • Lise says:

        You know that by heart now, don’t you? ;-)

        • Huda says:

          Yup, that one a quite a few others :)

          • artlvr says:

            Ted Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, was my dad’s best friend at Dartmouth, & was best man at his first wedding.
            When I was a child he used to stop by our home in Oak Park, Ill. and draw a sketch for each of us kids.
            My favorite was a variation of a cat without hat and was titled “An Hypothetical Lion”.

  3. JohnH says:

    TONNEAU is actually a new one to me, as is ESCALADE. (As usual, a New Yorker without a car.) I liked the theme, because, yeah, it took a little extra thought to reparse the phrases. I’m sure a dumb quibble, but I’d have said that, if you can make it into an AP class, you’ve a good chance of getting an A.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      TONNEAU sounds like what my mother would call a “rumble seat“ & what my father would call a “mother in law.”

    • jim hale says:

      Ditto, never heard of either of those words and not sure they’ll stick, I haven’t really thought about cars ever since I bought my pickup 18 years ago. I’ve seen them on pickups, didn’t know what they were called, but was never tempted to buy one. Easier to throw a bike or dirt-bike into the bed without an obstruction.

    • Norm says:

      I’ve known tonneau covers for years — from Dad’s early MGs in the 50s and his Austin Healy in the 60s through my own MGA and MGBs, but I never knew that tonneau was a separate word for the little jump seats behind the driver/passenger seat. Fascinating.

  4. David and Heather says:

    NYT had NOONERS clues as errands. Those would be fun ‘errands’ for most of us. My wife and I will start penciling in some of those errands.

    Fun puzzle, tho not worth 4.25-stars.

  5. Ralph Cramden says:

    LA Times going downhill lately. Today was a new low.

  6. huda says:

    NYT: I think it’s a great Sunday puzzle. It’s playful without being so silly as to be annoying. This combination seems to be hard to achieve in Sunday puzzles.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Oh my. I just noticed an easy 1-letter grid fix that would have removed that GO OK (which looks exactly like the racial slur in the grid): AREN’T crossing ROOK instead of AGENT and GOOK. No idea why editors and constructors don’t look harder at ways to remove entries like GOOK from grids. I mean, some of us certainly do. But not all.

    • Alex Bajcz says:

      FWIW, I sure wish I had noticed this fix. If I could issue a “patch” to today’s puzzle, this would absolutely be it. Bummer I didn’t give this part of my fill more attention… :/.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I would advise all constructors to ALWAYS be on the lookout for entries like that and find a way to get rid of them. Some years back, there was a HEIL in another NYT grid, and Merl Reagle spotted an obvious quick fix. ALWAYS, ALWAYS strive to avoid entries that may offend or appall solvers. If someone filled in GO OK strictly through the crossings and didn’t even see the clue, all they’re going to see is a racial slur in the grid.

    • DH says:

      Is that really a thing? GOOK is also a “sloppy, wet, or viscous substance”. Do we really need to be that cautious to not use words because they look like something we don’t intend, or because some ignorant people use them as slurs? I think we need to take more ownership of our language, instead of the other way around.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        And if it’s Asians and Asian-Americans (and their allies) who are taking ownership of the language, they’re probably not going to embrace GOOK where “gunk” and “goop” work without the same risk of hurting people. If you insist on taking ownership of the word GOOK, well, good luck to you. Because you’re going to piss off a lot of people, and for what purpose? Why would you even want to use the word?

        • DH says:

          Well, I’m not really speaking of this word specifically – but the fact is that “GO OK” is not “GOOK”. Also, the pronunciation of the word that means “gunk” is entirely different, and I use it all the time, as in, “Ew – what is this “guck” ?

          There are many, many people in my life who have spit out the word “Jew” at me, intending to insult me. Others have used the word as intended – as a reference to “A Jewish Person”. I have enough ownership of the language to not allow myself to be offended by the term itself, only by the context and the intent of the person using it. And if the intent is to try to insult me, well, that speaks more to the ignorance of the person using it than it does to the word itself.

          On the other hand, I do acknowledge that there are people who let themselves be offended by the word regardless of its intent. Does this mean we need to rename some of our houseplants?

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            When GOOK is applied to a person, though, it is never a neutral descriptor. Your analogy doesn’t quite work. Bigots use “Jew” as an epithet while Jewish folks use it neutrally, but I don’t think you’ll find any Asians or their allies who take ownership of “gook.” If there were a way to clue the 4-letter K word as something other than a slur (Google tells me it’s also a diminutive of the name Enrique), mightn’t you still find it jarring to encounter it in your crossword puzzle?

            • DH says:

              I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree here. The word “Frog” is often used as a racial slur against people of French origin, but I will continue to use it when referring to certain amphibians or even something in my throat when I am experiencing hoarseness. I think that when someone’s defenses are worn away it is perfectly OK to say they have a “chink in their armor”, and I will continue to purchase “Spic & Span” cleaning products, and put “kraut” on my hot dogs. Are you equally offended if someone uses a clue like “TAKE”, with the answer “SLANT”? That’s a very offensive term for Asians – and it’s the actual word itself, not a misread of two completely separate words. Does the fact that it is clued the way it is salvage the word, or should we refrain from its use altogether? There are many, many words in the English language that can be used as racial, gender, or ethnic slurs that, when used that way, are highly offensive – but I put more stock in context and understanding than I do spelling.

              I would never use these words in such a way as to hurt or offend anyone, but I do acknowledge that some people do. Words are wonderful things, and language develops multiple colorful shades of meaning. The down side of that is that there are some who choose to invent new and different ways to offend others, and there are some who are so sensitive as to refuse to accept the innocent use of a word, and will hold the speaker out as a racist or bigot despite explanations and pleas to the contrary. If I refuse to stand up for the accurate, legitimate, and non-offensive meanings of the words I use, what emerge are single-meaning words that are no longer “allowed”, and the bigots and racists win.

              Nor do I think that my choice of these words carries more weight than the opinion of someone who says “this offends me”, but tolerance works both ways. I think it is to our mutual benefit as a human race to understand that words can have various meanings, some offensive and some not, and if we truly want to get along we need to understand each other – not define others by our own definition of the words others use regardless of their intent or context.

              In 1999, David Howard, an aide to the Mayor of Washington DC was forced to resign for using the word “Niggardly”, even though there is no etymological similarity to the similar-sounding racial epithet, and despite the fact that Howard was using the word as defined with no malicious intent. In fact, after the incident, Julian Bond, the then-chairman of the NAACP said, “You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding. David Howard should not have quit. Mayor Williams should bring him back—and order dictionaries issued to all staff who need them.”

            • Amy Reynaldo says:

              “Frog” is not a racial slur and the French are not a disenfranchised group. There’s no equivalency there, DH. And you didn’t address my question about the 4-letter anti-Semitic K word, which could plausibly be clued in an inoffensive way. I’m not Jewish but I’d find it jarring and unpleasant to see that letter string in a crossword.

              Also, GO OK is just a sad little crossword answer anyway. Would we be cool with GO POORLY, too? No. These are not lexical chunks unto themselves. GO QUIETLY is a thing, GO OK is not.

            • Jenni Levy says:

              “Niggardly” is not the offensive slur. It’s not the same word. GO OK as placed in a grid, is *the exact same word* and, unlike “frog” it has no other meaning. In a sentence with the space, it would be different.

              I do take ownership of “our” language, and in doing so I endeavor not to insult people if I can avoid it. I usually can avoid it. You’ve used more energy trying to explain why you prefer not to worry about other people’s feelings than you would have checking your own language. It’s always interesting to me how consideration seems to fall as such a burden on some people.

              (and, Amy, “frog” is actually a slur – most French people I know don’t like it at all. They’re still not a disenfranchised class, but I wouldn’t clue it that way in a puzzle)

            • Amy Reynaldo says:

              Jenni: Didn’t intend to say that “frog” isn’t a slur, just that it is not a racial slur. French isn’t a race.


      • “Do we really need to be that cautious to not use words because they look like something we don’t intend, or because some ignorant people use them as slurs?”

        Yes. The cost to looking out for those words is nothing. Why not do that, when at minimum, ignoring those concerns and using those words anyway might needlessly offend others?

        If you had ?AGGOT in a grid and the clue were [Bundle of sticks], the word isn’t salvaged just because it can be clued differently.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Exactly, Evan.

          People who want to use these words should ask themselves if this is really the hill they want to die on, and why it is that they think their word preferences should carry more weight than the opinions of people who say “This offends me.” It’s so easy to just not be hurtful.

          • Christopher Smith says:

            Think my quarrel with the above is the idea of taking “ownership” of your language. Because it’s a communication device, no one can own it. The most we can do is take stewardship, and part of that involves making adjustments to reasonable sensitivities.

            • DH says:

              Point taken. I think we, collectively, as English speakers would do as you suggest, i.e., take “stewardship” of the language.

              Perhaps my usage is still wrong – but my meaning was that we, as individuals, should take ownership of the words we use and stand by our intended use of them.

            • Jenni Levy says:

              DH: Intent does not equal impact. Whatever your intentions, the impact is hurtful, and by “standing by” your intended use you are doubling down on that hurt and saying quite clearly that you don’t care about other people’s feelings. That’s certainly your right, and now we know that about you.

  8. golfballman says:

    per yesterdays LAT according to my online source nones are the 9th canonical hour. Also avon product Bard?

  9. Norm says:

    NYT Nice puzzle with clever clues. Best was the sly one for ATM.

  10. Richard says:

    I’m just here to second the love for the NYT and for Lake Street Dive.

  11. BarbaraK says:

    Sorry for posting off-topic here, but I was just wondering if there’s a write-up for the Fireball contest that ended this evening.

  12. DH says:

    Jenni – if that’s your takeaway, well, that’s certainly your right too.

    When I was growing up, my sister used to call me names and I would scream and cry. My mother told me that if I didn’t react to her, she would stop. I stopped reacting, and guess what? She stopped.

    When I was in boarding school, other kids used to call me “Kike” and throw pennies at my feet. i laughed it off, and guess what? They stopped. I realized that it was ME that was giving them power, not the words. When they tried to hurt me with them, they only looked stupid. (BTW, Amy – I didn’t respond to your comment about that word before because I didn’t know that’s what you were getting at. I will tell you with all honesty that if that word, clued otherwise, were to appear in a crossword puzzle, I would raise an eyebrow and say, “Hm. I thought that was a made-up word all these years. Who knew?” Same as with all the other examples I listed that have multiple meanings, with one of them being offensive.)

    I don’t want to argue with either of you. I do take care in the words I use, and I don’t “stand by them” if they hurt other people. If you choose to believe otherwise, then that’s your right also. Just curious, though, do you use any of the words I mentioned in my earlier post? What kind of cleaner do you use? Do you remember fondly the earlier Kodak cameras, or have you taken that word out of your vocabulary?

    I wish we lived in a more tolerant world. I think it would be nice if I can say something like, “ugh – after changing the oil in that car I got all this gook all over me”, and that over time, the offensive usage of that word would disappear, and my grandchildren would laugh and say, “Really? people were offended by that? (I do laugh when I see Harpo Marx making his “Gookie” face). In fact, I wish we didn’t have offensive words that were meant to hurt others at all – but one look at “Wikipedia” shows quite a disappointingly long list indeed. Culling through that list, we can find many, many words that we use innocently every day. Do we need to eliminate them from our language because some people use them offensively? Or do we educate ourselves to understand that we are, in general, better than that? The speed with which the haters among us can come up with colorful derogatory meanings for the words we use every day makes me fear that we will be left with no language at all. It’s a slippery er, what? Downhill? Ramp? Slide?

    This whole conversation reminds me of a story about a psychiatrist who shows a patient a series of ink-blot images. At each image, the patient sees something even more sordid and disturbing than the last. When the psychiatrist suggests that the patient might be a little disturbed, the patient says, “Me? They’re YOUR pictures!” We see what we want to see.

    I don’t agree with your point of view, but I understand it and I can respect it. But when you say things like “you don’t care about other people’s feelings. That’s certainly your right, and now we know that about you.”, that is no longer a discussion about words and meaning – it is an ad-hominem remark specifically meant to be insulting – which I will now walk away from. I shall quietly go. Okay?

Comments are closed.