Thursday, May 10, 2018

BEQ tk (Ben) 


LAT 4:42 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:12 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball’s a contest this week—look for Laura’s write-up after the submission deadline on Sunday.

Caitlin Reid’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I finished the puzzle, found the typo, and had to look at it for a minute to fully understand the theme. It was worth the effort (well, it wasn’t a lot of effort, but still). It wasn’t obvious because I’d filled in two of the theme answers from crossings and didn’t look at them closely.

There are four answers that don’t make sense – or so it seems.

  • 7d [Abandoned while there still might have been hope] is LEFT FOR.
  • 33a [“Break a leg!”] is KNOCK EM.
  • 35a [In any condition, as an outlaw] is OR ALIVE.
  • 40d [Certain absentee parent] is a BEAT DAD. This one gave me the “aha!” moment.

We also have a revealer: 51a [Bull’s-eye … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme] is DEAD CENTER. The theme answers (highlighted in my grid) all touch the center square (which is not Paul Lynde. Kids, ask your parents). If we put DEAD in the CENTER, we get LEFT FOR DEAD, KNOCK ‘EM DEADDEAD OR ALIVE, and DEADBEAT DAD. Very nice! This is Caitlin Reid’s debut puzzle. Welcome, Caitlin! I look forward to seeing more of your work.

We have lots of three-letter answers because of the constraints of the grid. They’re not obscure, at least; just kind of tired, and the theme more than makes up for NTHVEEENS, and ETA.

A few other things:

  • I wasn’t sure if 1a [Very sore] was physical soreness. Nope. It’s IRATE.
  • 8d [PBS Kids’ cartoon aardvark] is ARTHUR, who dates from Emma’s childhood. I couldn’t tell he was an aadvark from the TV show. See what I mean?







  • 23a [Street clearer] is a SIREN. If only. Some days I want a bullhorn so I can yell at the people who don’t pull over for an ambulance or police car siren.
  • 44d [Views from sea or land] are SCAPES. Alternate clue: Edible garlic flower.
  • 45d [Half of a Spanish union] is SENORA. I thought it was something geographic at first. I do not think that was accidental.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there’s a rifleman’s CREED, part of basic training for the US Marine Corps. It appears the creed has evolved over the years. I found this version from 2001:

This is my rifle.  There are many like it, but this one is mine.  It is my life.  I must master it as I must master my life.  Without me my rifle is useless.  Without my rifle, I am useless.        I must fire my rifle true.  I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me.  I must shoot him before he shoots me.  I will.  My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make.  We know that it is the hits that count.  We will hit.

      My rifle is human, even as I am human, because it is my life.  Thus, I will learn it as a brother.  I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel.  I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready.  We will become part of each other.

      Before God I swear this creed.  My rifle and I are the defenders of my country.  We are the masters of our enemy.  We are the saviors of my life.

      So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy.

Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Splitsville” — Jim’s review

The theme eluded me for quite some time. Even though I’m accustomed to seeing this type of thing from editor Mike Shenk (Alice Long is one of his pseudonyms; see Monday’s discussion in the comments for more on pseudonyms), it caught me off guard.

But it works perfectly with the puzzle’s title, so I was pleased when I finally grokked what was going on. Each theme answer is a word or phrase whose beginning or end is a world capital city. This city is separated from the rest of the entry by a block and is clued simply as [Capital city of wherever].

WSJ – Thu, 5.10.18 – “Splitsville” by Alice Long (Mike Shenk)

  • 20a [Old antisepticMERCUROCH / ROME where ROME is the [Capital city of Europe] at 22a.
  • 26a [Capital city of EuropePARIS / H PRIESTS where the latter entry is 28a [Flock leaders].
  • 41a [Yellow fever transmitterTIGER MOS / QUITO where QUITO is the [Capital city of South America] at 42a.
  • 46a [Capital city of Europe] BERN / IE SANDERS where the latter entry is 48a [Longest-serving independent in congressional history].

Very nice entries, though I wasn’t familiar with TIGER MOSQUITO and wasn’t 100% on my spelling of MERCUROCHROME. But it was all gettable with crossings. My one gripe is the imbalance in world cities: three from Europe and one from South America. QUITO makes for a nice entry, but I wish it could be balanced out with something other than three European capitals. However, maybe this is just the best possible set to be found.

Moving to the fill, HIP HOPPER (8d, [Rap fan])  is…interesting. It doesn’t exactly ring authentic to my ear, but I’m not the best judge. To me it sounds simplistic and childish.

On the other hand, I consider myself one of the true BACONIANS. There’s nothing that can’t be made better with a little bit of that salty slice from heaven: sandwiches, eggs, ice cream…what? That’s not what it means? *Checks the clue* Oh, [Some authorship doubters] refers to those who believe some (many? most? all?) Shakespearean plays were written by philosopher Sir Francis Bacon. The theory is that his credibility as a thinker and writer of serious subjects would be damaged if it became known that he wrote plays for the (gasp!) public. (I will let you in on a little secret. All the puzzles you’ve solved that were credited to a certain “Patrick Berry” were in fact written by little ol’ me. Don’t tell anyone.)

Other goodies: CAJOLE, RAINDROP, QUAKER. Lowlights: REMAN and the crossing of proper names CORCORAN (4d, [Barbara on “Shark Tank”]) and RICO (14a, [Rodriguez of “Modern Family”]).

Fave clues:

  • 33a [Ostrich, e.g.]. BIPED. Nice. I guess you can clue just about all birds this way as well.
  • 36a [Drew on the TV screen]. CAREY. This didn’t fool me for a second, but I still like it.
  • 44a [Tough]. GOON. I like “Tough” used as a noun here.
  • 45a [Insult, in slang]. I had BUST at first (as in “bust one’s chops”), but BURN is better, especially since it’s followed by BERNIE SANDERS. Feel it!
  • 37a [Shower unit]. RAINDROP. That’s good misdirection, but I already had most of the crossings, so I was able to fill it in with little delay.
  • 39d [I, e.g.: Abbr.]. PRON. This stymied me for a long time. I simply could not see it. I needed every single crossing to realize it wanted the abbreviation for “pronoun.”
  • 45d [Hit’s back]. B-SIDE. Note the apostrophe.

Fun theme, good fill, creative cluing. Win-win-win!

Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times
18 05 10

What a perfect piece of idiomatic symmetry this little theme is: from ENTRYLEVEL up the CORPORATELADDER to EXECUTIVEOFFICE then down a GOLDENPARACHUTE to RETIREMENT.

This puzzle is mostly about the theme; you have to grit your teeth at DISPUTERS, which crosses three entries, but otherwise the rest is clean enough.

4 Stars

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9 Responses to Thursday, May 10, 2018

  1. Michael Tong says:

    Enjoyed the nyt puzzle. Dropped down “or alive” without knowing the theme, but a little suspicious. Knowing to look for “dead” in the revealer made things pretty easy. Lost a lot of time on a wrong cross at ONTHEMONEY/ONABET — I had the slightly worse sounding INTHEMONEY/INABET!

  2. Dr. Fancypants says:

    The NYT puzzle seemed really easy. I ended up with a personal record Thursday time (something more like my Tuesday time).

  3. Scott says:

    I really liked the NYT.

  4. Ethan Friedman says:

    That’s a nice debut. Congrats Caitlin!

  5. Shawn P says:

    I always found it odd that Patrick Berry anagrams to “Really Jim”. I learned something today.

    • john farmer says:

      Some say the author of Patrick Berry’s puzzles is Patrick Berry. Some say Jim. Others (who remain nameless) say the true author is Francis Bacon. Perhaps we should have a debate.

      About the question of who wrote Shakespeare’s plays: the Baconians were more popular a century or two ago, not so much anymore. Now you hear more from the Oxfordians — i.e., supporters of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. They make some persuasive arguments, though the theory has a few kinks in it. Another theory comes from the Shakespeareans, who claim the author of Shakespeare’s plays was a man named William Shakespeare, the actor from Stratford-upon-Avon. That theory has plenty of problems itself, and if proven true would be the most boring outcome of all. Maybe the true author is Patrick Berry, the Bard of Athens, Georgia. We never have seen William and Patrick in the same room at the same time.

  6. Burak says:

    NYT was good, but it just didn’t click for me. The theme was nice, and it opened everything up for me once I figured it out. That aha moment is always nice, but I’d have rather had something that lingered. Also N/NE region were a drag. AFTRA, ARTHUR and AATEAM were not the friendliest entries for this non-native speaker (that’s on me though). And I had never heard of the BLAHS before, and I had a hesitant BLUES there for the longest time.

    Overall, a solid debut for sure. But the GLINT wasn’t enough for me on a Thursday. 3.15 stars.

  7. Norm says:

    NYT was a cute puzzle, but too easy [for a Thursday] from KNOCK ‘EM onwards.

    I really, really liked WSJ. Did no one else spend their childhood painted in mercurochrome? Am I the only 60-something year old who was constantly scraped and bleeding? Dang. The stuff stung as much as iodine lotion. I don’t think we knew about Neosporin and the like for years after that.

  8. Cmm says:

    I’ve noticed the LAT doesn’t get much attention here (which is fine), and I know this is late… but I just got to this puzzle.

    The theme is really neat, but otherwise the fill is rough.

    Not knowing the currency of Peru had me thinking SHINS or KNEES for the “wedge-shaped bones.” Which made ALLELE really hard to get. Being born in 1983 makes it improbable for me to know REEVE acted in “Deathtrap” (however the fact the Michael Caine is the lead of the film makes me want to watch it). I’m not suggesting that puzzles should be tailored to people of my generation… blah blah… but

    Forced crosswordese like ORIEL, DENEB, YSER, OLLA, DELFT made this a very difficult puzzle for me.

    I did, however, absolutely love 1D: “Top 40 title for Metallica or U2” – ONE (released in ‘89 and ‘91 respectively)

    Sorry for the rant, just wanted some more feedback on this puzzle than I read.

Comments are closed.