Friday, May 25, 2018

CHE 7:05 (Laura) 


LAT 3:45 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:01 (Amy) 


Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 25 2018, no 0525

I don’t get it. NUCLEAR FOOTBALL is the only 15, and the grid, with left/right symmetry, has what sort of looks like a football goalpost made out of black squares. But the NUCLEAR FOOTBALL doesn’t get thrown through goalposts. There are a couple football-related clues (KNEELS clued as a noun, ugh, and D-LINE) but I wouldn’t call that a mini-theme. Also lousy timing for a puzzle that evokes the NFL.

There are a few entries that irked me. “I’M STUCK” feels a bit contrived, AD UNITS is dully unfamiliar, and “AH, BLISS” is not all that common a remark.

I do like the contemporary “HATES ON” (as in “Amy was really hating on AD UNITS”), VROOMED, a fireworks (or candy) STARBURST, “LET’S ROLL,” THE VOICE, classic HOT ROCKS (absolutely part of my collegiate listening), abhorrent PINE SCENT, a FAIR SHAKE, and the literariness of an ANTINOVEL (I took a college class on plays and antiplays—Ionesco’s Rhinoceros was among our readings).

Five more things:

  • 5d. [World Cup cheer], USA. This is clearly a reference to the US Women’s National Team, because the Men’s squad doesn’t always qualify for the tournament. Save the clue for 2019, the next time the Women’s World Cup takes place. Anyone cheering “U.S.A.!” at he 2018 Men’s World Cup will get funny looks.
  • 2d. [Simple fighting style], MANO A MANO. Hand to hand, not man to man, despite the common misconception. I bet most of you know that.
  • 4d. [Rocker nicknamed “The Motor City Madman”], TED NUGENT. Eww. Of all the pop-culture 9s you could include, he is right down there near the bottom of my list.
  • 33d. [Man’s nickname that sounds like two letters], ARTIE. Except I pronounce the name Artie with one of those flattened-out T’s that could practically be a D, and not the way I’d pronounce ar and tee separately. My go-to ARTIE is Rip Torn’s character on The Larry Sanders Show, but that’s not super-current.
  • 44d. [Spanish omelet ingredient], HUEVO. Going out for brunch tomorrow. I think I’ll order a one-egg omelet.

3.25 stars from me.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Ancestry.con” — Laura’s review

CHE - 5.25.18 - Wechsler - Solution

CHE – 5.25.18 – Wechsler – Solution

Before I blog this, let’s establish that anatomically modern humans emerged from primate ancestors through the process of evolution by natural selection, ok? If you’re a creationist, this puzzle may not make sense to you. For our theme, four ancestors of modern humans get an update, like so:

  • [16a: Somewhat aimless archaic human?]: MEANDERTHAL. Neanderthals went extinct about 40,000 years ago, and intermixed genetically with modern humans, according to some evidence.
  • [29a: Archaic human with refined tastes in beef?]: CRO MIGNON. Cro-Magnon Man were Homo sapiens who lived in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic, contemporaneous to Neanderthals. Did you read the Paleolithic romance novel series, The Clan of the Cave Bear, by popular crossword entry Jean M. AUEL? It’s a highly fictionalized imagining of Cro-Magnon culture.
  • [41a: Archaic human who foreshadowed the Three Stooges?]: POKING MAN. Fossil specimens of Peking Man, a subspecies of Homo erectus, were discovered near Beijing in the 1920s.
  • [58a: Archaic human who was voted into leadership?]: HOMO ELECTUS. Homo erectus lived during the Pleistocene Era.

Fill that didn’t let me forget that this puzzle was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

  • [36a: Expressionist Chaim ___, known for distorted portraiture]: SOUTINE. We’ve also got [55a: “Harlequin’s Carnival” painter]: Joan MIRÓ and the PRADO, [3d: Where Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” is on view].
  • [61a: Dagger-shaped editing mark]: OBELUS. Is this a dagger I see before me? †
  • [4d: It’s complete from A to Z]: PANGRAM. This puzzle isn’t one — it’s missing some of what constructors call “Scrabbly” letters: F, Q, X, and Z. My favorite pangram is
    “Watch Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek’s fun TV quiz game.”
  • [1a: Cartoonist who created the Shmoo]: Al CAPP and [21a: Donald, to Dewey]: UNCA round out the old-timey comics category.

Winston Emmons’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

I feel somewhat ambivalent about today’s theme. I like the basic concept here: take one word in a phrase and anagram it to create a new, wacky phrase. I especially enjoyed the opening entry, which was probably the seed – GAMEOFHORNETS (THRONES). It is perhaps not the best design to use up your best theme answer first though. On the down side, after hornets we have GNAT (TANG), MITE (TIME) and FLEAS (FALSE). Three insects, one arachnid, though all are arthropods. Not good to have three answers with a closer commonality and a fourth outlier. I also feel the revealer was a let down, and possibly not necessary (although this is a more convoluted theme than we often see in the LA Times, so possibly it is). PESTS is vague, and I’m not sure HORNETS are pests in the same (agricultural) sense as the other three.

Things I didn’t know:

  • [Actress Gilbert of “The Big Bang Theory”], SARA was in things after Roseanne…
  • What the heck a [Binky] was – PACIFIER. As in dummy?

2.75 Stars

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31 Responses to Friday, May 25, 2018

  1. Dook says:

    Easiest Friday ever!

  2. PJ Ward says:

    KNEELS as a football noun is off to me, as well. I don’t recall hearing it used as one.

  3. David L says:

    Done in by my lack of Spanish! Is it HUEVO or HUEVA? Not sure, but when I got BCCED I plunked in DADA for “pop”, went with HUEVA, but couldn’t decide between AHBLISS and OHBLISS and couldn’t untangle that corner.

    Apart from that, pretty easy! I agree that KNEELS doesn’t work. The QB takes a knee, but no one calls the play ‘a kneel.’

    • Burak says:

      The technical term for that play is a “QB kneel,” so I think “it doesn’t work” is an unnecessarily strong statement (although I wouldn’t object to having issues with it).

      • David L says:

        Interesting — although the references I found on a brief search all called the play a QB kneel, not kneel alone. Can’t say I’ve heard it in the wild, tho.

        • john farmer says:

          Quarterback kneel has its own 2,300-word page at Wikipedia. You can find kneel with and without QB preceding it.

          2,300 words — about one of the most boring plays in all of sports! TMI. That’s longer than the page on the U.S. women’s soccer team (not inc. tables). This country’s obsession with football is out of control.

      • Steve Manion says:

        This conversation reminds me of a couple of my rants from the old forum. The answers were GOLF GREEN and HOME BASE. The word GOLF is utterly superfluous when referencing a golf green and the word BASE when referring to home PLATE is just plain wrong despite both dictionary and rules of baseball support.

        I am wondering if QB KNEEL is used because it is put into a special category (kind of like a walk in baseball not counting as an at bat) that doesn’t hurt the QB’s or team’s stats as to total yards or yards per carry. I do not know if this has any merit or not.

        I thought the SW corner was tough in an otherwise easy puzzle. I used to go a to a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix every Monday morning with a bunch of poker players who were in the produce business. We almost all ordered HUEVOS RANCHEROS every week. My first thought for the answer for Spanish Omelet was PAPAS.


    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      “hueva”(s) exists too, but means fish eggs, a.k.a. roe. (Both from Latin OVA, which is easier to hear than to see.) My parents told of confusing that with “huevos” in a restaurant in Spain and thus getting something quite different from the omelet they expected . . .

      —NDE (whose given name is hidden in 2D:MANO A MANO)

      P.S. It must be useful for a constructor to have a nine-letter entry like FAIR_SHA?E that can be clued for either R or K.

  4. Burak says:

    I had two slight issues with the NYT: One, it was almost too easy and two, some of the fill was questionable.

    But, a lot of at worst decent mid-sized entries, almost no 3-letter words, very good long answers and a mini-theme that doesn’t take away from the puzzle’s quality? (Do you all remember the EARPHONES/BEETHOVEN abomination with a giant H in the middle? This is the antithesis of that puzzle)

    Oh, and on top of that, snazzy clues all around. I LOLed at [Get cheeky with?]. [Rice left on a shelf, maybe] was also great.

    This is a very, very solid puzzle. 4.35 stars from me.

  5. Mutman says:

    NYT: I enjoyed the puzzle, and would agree that KNEELS acts better as a verb (executes a time killing play, .e.g.).

    Why the hating on ‘Kill it & Grill it’ author Ted Nugent?? With a big BBQ weekend coming up, I liked the reference.

  6. Richard says:

    USA as a “World Cup cheer” a couple weeks from the first Men’s Cup without the USA in decades is pretty painful.

  7. Papa John says:

    It’s Geek Pride Day. Really…

  8. David says:

    Fun NYT puzzle. It was easier than this week’s Wednesday and Thursday puzzles, which was weird. I wasn’t happy to see Nugent in the puzzle, but it was funny to have him there with football kneels (not a noun, no) and USA. SMUG TED NUGENT HATES ON (nuclear) FOOTBALL KNEELS.

  9. Zulema says:

    All omelets are made with HUEVOS, that’s the nature of an omelet. The clue is probably a joke on the term Spanish but that required a question mark, not so?

  10. janie says:

    relevant not to today’s (fine!) puzzles, but to someone who’s been a long-time, friendly poster here: a focused and insightful new book about the making of hollywood by gary krist that looks/sounds terrific:



    • Penguins says:

      longer links, Janie, longer links!

      oh wow, one of my penguins came back. maybe the other two are on their way.

      • janie says:

        >longer links, Janie, longer links!

        next time!

        but this way, i got your attention…


    • john farmer says:

      That looks like a must read. Thanks for that.

      • janie says:

        you’re more than welcome. and yeah — a must-read for me, too. there’s a book i’ve borrowed from the library ahead of it in my reading queue (w/ a “due date”), but i’ve got it waiting for me on my e-reader!


  11. Noam D. Elkies says:

    The title of the CHE puzzle is Ancestry.coN, see

    (the PDF has .con but still with the usual m changed to n as in MEANDERTHAL)

    • LauraB says:

      Edit made, thanks for catching the typo. Also meant to mention in the review that I was disappointed that the changed letters didn’t add up to anything.

      • Brad says:

        The CHE web site title did read “” until late yesterday. It is “.con” in the puzzle files but easily missed and I probably should have called the web teams attention to it when I sent the final edits. When I asked for a correction on the title in the archives, I capitalized the N for emphasis and they took me literally. Ha!

        • LauraB says:

          Ah! That makes more sense, because I solved and blogged Thursday afternoon, and I grabbed the title from website — so the correction was made after my post (though I should’ve seen it in the .puz file).

  12. Karen says:

    I enjoyed the NYT even though it was darn easy. I confess that Ted Nugent headlined the first concert I attended; I was 14 or 15 at the time. (Def Leppard was the opening band.) I no longer listen to his music and not because I don’t like the guitar riffs.

  13. CC says:

    Re: Binky … if you don’t have infants / young kids, not surprising you don’t know that it’s another word for “pacifier.”

    If you do/did have them and haven’t heard of it, I think it may also be a regional thing. I’m on the West Coast/NW, and I’ve only ever heard “pacifier,” but heard and saw “binky” used extensively in books and on TV shows. (There’s even a whole Sesame Street special about Elmo learning to give up his binky.)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      This Midwesterner only ever heard pacifier, until my son was born and his aunt (a neonatal nurse practitioner) called it a binky.

      Dummy is strictly for the Commonwealth folks.

  14. Penguins says:

    Gareth can be a tough grader

  15. scrivener says:

    That was my fastest Friday NYT ever, and it was a fun solve. I enjoyed all the mid-length and longer answers, including TED NUGENT, whose music I adore (everything else aside).

Comments are closed.