Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hex/Quigley 17:35 (Laura) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 10:32 (Amy) 


WaPo 11:45 (Erin) 


Ruth Bloomfield Margolin’s New York Times crossword, “Rush Hour Headaches”—Amy’s write-up

    NY Times crossword solution, 6 10 18, “Rush Hour Headaches”

Gotta make this quick, as there’s a party to go to. The theme is familiar phrases getting one word changed to a homophone, and the resulting phrases are clued with reference to rush hour hassles.

  • 23a. [Lane restricted to allow motorcades through?], CHUTE FOR THE STARS. Shoot. Not sure a road lane can be considered a “chute.”
  • 36a. [Pressing and shoving me as I enter the subway?], CRAMPING MY STILE. Style. This one doesn’t really make sense. How is a subway turnstile “cramped”?
  • 55a. [Highway obstructed by accidents, detours and construction?], ROUTE OF ALL EVIL. Root. This one’s excellent.
  • 82a. [Took public transportation while one’s wheels were at the shop?], BUSSED YOUR BUTT. Bust. One also might take the bus because parking would be a nightmare when one goes to that party tonight.
  • 98a. [“This tollbooth line will make me late!”?], I NEED TO LOSE WAIT. Weight. Grammatically stilted.
  • 116a. [Split an Uber?], PAY YOUR FARE SHARE. Fair. This one’s pretty good, too.
  • 15d. [Get to Grand Central right at 5:00?], MAKE THE TEEM. Team. Yeah, no. You can’t make teem into a noun.
  • 66d. [“I’m scared by the speed you’re going in this traffic!”?], GIMME A BRAKE. Break. Eh.

Quick notes:

  • Two ñ’s are presented with regular N’s: 28a. [___ colada], PINA and 21a. [“Cien ___ de Soledad” (Gabriel García Márquez novel)], ANOS. The latter one translates to One Hundred Anuses of Solitude. On Twitter, AV Club Crossword editor Ben Tausig said that venue doesn’t let N stand in for Ñ (unless you had, say, PIÑA crossing AÑOS and each had an enye).
  • In the fill, I like GREEN BERET and ARMY MOM, Priyanka CHOPRA, GRINDSTONE, RABBIT HOLE, and ROSE RED. Overall, though, the ol’ Scowl-o-Meter went off a lot. NEER MOUE ASAMI OBLA AUST RESOD … and partial I OR and prefix FILI-. Oof! There’s more where that came from.

3.2 stars from me. Enjoy your Saturday night if you are reading this before Sunday!

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Trade Publications” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo solution, 6/10/18

Phrases containing the titles of magazines swap their first words:

  • 23a./25a. [*Bugs while he’s in outer space?] STAR BUNNY / [*Philandering flounder, say?] PLAYBOY FISH. Original phrases are STARFISH and PLAYBOY BUNNY, the magazines are Star and Playboy.
  • 45a./48a. [*Hero who can travel back to the past?] TIME GIRL / [*”Being attractive and charismatic is terrible”?] GLAMOUR SUCKS
  • 69a./72a. [*Extremely so-so?] OK AS HELL / [*Angry love god?] MAD CUPID
  • 92a./95a. [*Cash carried by some branch?] MONEY ON A LIMB / [*Command to director Marshall to get lost?] OUT, PENNY
  • 117a./121a. [*Cooling one’s own body, in a way?] SELF-FANNING / [*Hubris shown by “Kill Bill” assassin Driver?] ELLE PRIDE

Other things:

Photo of diatoms. Credit: Carolina Biological Supply Company /

  • 11d. [D.C. collegian] HOYA. Derived from the Greek hoios, meaning “what a” or “such a.” A friend of mine was a Georgetown alum and followed several of their sports teams, was well known in the stands at their games, always cheered them on. Georgetown sports were such a big part of his life that after he died by suicide almost three years ago, his funeral began with a rousing cry of “Hoya! Saxa!” I couldn’t help by think of him after reading this clue, especially after the recent celebrity suicides in the news. Please consider checking in on friends who have dropped off the radar recently, even if they seem to be always smiling or cheering you on or traveling the world.
  • 73d. [Tiny bit of algae] DIATOM. Pretty little bits of phytoplankton.
  • 51d. [Energy company based in New York City] CON EDISON. Tesla was better. Don’t @ me.
  • 116a. [Instrument for which Mr. Lies in “Angels in America” said, “If the duck was a songbird it would sing like this”] OBOE. This brought back a vague memory of learning about Peter and the Wolf in elementary school, and how each character was represented by a particular instrument. The only one I remember now is the duck, played by the oboe.

Until next time.

Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon’s CRooked Crossword, “Downsizing”—Laura’s review

CRooked - 6.10.18 - Cox & Rathvon - Solution

CRooked – 6.10.18 – Cox & Rathvon – Solution

Base phrases are “downsized” to the effect that words for a smaller version of the usual thing are substituted, like so:

  • [24a: Microdistilled hooch?]: MOLEHILL DEW mountain
  • [41a: Zone where tornadoes fizzle
    out?]: ZEPHYR ALLEY. (Surely you’ve heard of famous Italian director Franco Zephyralley!) typhoon
  • [59a: Small suburb of Las Vegas?]: PECCADILLO VILLAGE. This one transforms both words in the base phrase, downsizing sin city.
  • [79a: Trumpeter who didn’t get far?]: INCHES DAVIS Miles
  • [98a: Get just a mite teary?]: CRY ME A CREEK river Is it poor form to have a letter from the entry also in the clue?
  • [3a: Shortened annual race?]: THE BOSTON SPRINT marathon
  • [43a: Elvis’s mansion, downsized?]: GRACELAND LEAN-TO mansion Also here, the word in the base phrase is in the clue, though I’ve heard it callled both GRACELAND MANSION and simply GRACELAND.

And we’ve got some bonus theme-fill in the corners, with [1a: Downsized drive?]: PUTT, [1d: Downsized ocean?: POOL, [109a: Downsized anthem?]: NOTE, and [96d: Downsized season?]: GAME.

I’m not crazy about this kind of theme; I’d like to see more consistency in the transformations of the base phrases — for that reason alone it took me a while to grok. But it works fine and the results are amusing.

Here’s a cover of one of my favorite Gram Parsons songs, “Peccadillo Village,” by Steve Earle and Gillian Welch:

Pawel Fludzinski’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Seebees”—Jenni’s write-up

LA Times crossword solution, 6 10 18, “Seabees”

We have a very simple theme that I didn’t enjoy all that much: names or two-word phrases that start with C B.

  • 3d [Team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl in its 50-year existence] is the CINCINNATI BENGALS.
  • 13d [It’s seen on carousels] is CHECKED BAGGAGE.
  • 24a [Subject of an 1857 Elizabeth Gaskell biography] is CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
  • 37d [Amateur sport since 1893] is COLLEGE BASKETBALL. {cynical comment about how “amateur” Division 1 NCAA basketball really is redacted}
  • 40a [Organization that really counts] is the CENSUS BUREAU.
  • 51d [Perp processing area] is CENTRAL BOOKING.
  • 57a [Tribute group] is a COVER BAND.
  • 78a [Microbrewery choice] is a CRAFT BEER
  • 96a [Bletchley Park analysts] were CODE BREAKERS.
  • 109a [Ghee, e.g.] is CLARIFIED BUTTER.

The most challenging part of this was finding all the theme answers to do the writeup. I will acknowledge the nice variety of theme answer lengths and the number of theme answers that cross each other. Solving it wasn’t all that much fun, though. I prefer wordplay themes.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Scrabble accessories] is RACKS, not TILES. Good thing I know my Barry Manilow music, so 1d [Bad guy in the song “Copacabana”] was a gimme and saved me from the 1a error (he’s RICO).
  • 29a [Better, to a rapper] is ILLER. Still?
  • We’ve got IN E  and IS I crossing each other. Ick.
  • I found the juxtaposition of SERA (evening on Etna) and CERA (Michael of “Arrested Development”) amusing. And no, I’m not commenting on that Gd-awful “Arrested Development” interview that circulated last week.
  • 102d [Banter] is JIVE. Really? I think of JIVE more like bluster or braggadocio or flat-out lying than “banter.”

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Elizabeth Gaskell wrote a biography of CHARLOTTE BRONTE.

And why should I be the only one with the earworm?

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23 Responses to Sunday, June 10, 2018

  1. Ethan says:

    If we can trust Google Translate (an admittedly dicey proposition), the word for “years” in Galician is, in fact, “anos” not “años.” S0 if the NYT hadn’t tried to get cute with the Marquez clue and just said, “Years, in Spain” it would have been accurate.

  2. David T. says:

    WaPo: Another winner from Evan. Much, much better than 69 Across (clue or answer).

  3. JohnH says:

    NYT has used the Spanish ANO or ANOS as fill before (and received criticism for an inadvertant pun), so count me as used to it.

    The theme was punning, which of course means your mileage may vary. I’m with the consensus here that it worked badly, especially CHUTE (hardly a lane rather than a drop) and STILE. (Who in NYC has ever called a turnstile a stile?) I didn’t care for most of the names, maybe especially one Amy liked, CHOPRA.

    But I truly hated SOHO as filled with many galleries. I do understand that Shortz edits for non-natives and even seems to take pride in including topics like cars and golf that make New Yorkers feel unfamiliar. But honestly, there haven’t been more than a couple of galleries in Soho in almost 25 years, when an esteemed and the very first Soho gallery joined the move to Chelsea (which has itself now lost a dozen galleries to further downtown). New Yorkers generally have come to dislike the area for its pricey stores and tourist shopping crowds, while those who follow galleries, like me, have long since moved on.

  4. Michael Tong says:

    I don’t read / care about magazines so I didn’t enjoy the WaPo on a visceral level, although it was far more pleasant to solve than the NYT as usual and the magazines are very recognizable. I think it is objectively very good but it is missing an inherent interest from my end.

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: CHUTE in French means a fall. Parachute etymology: Protecting against a fall.
    We have a laundry chute, one of my favorite features that I have protected fiercely through any and all remodeling to our house over the years- straight down two floors. I can’t think of a usage of chute in English that means a road or a lane, so it really bothered me.

    I liked ROUTE OF ALL EVIL– I know I will now think of it while in traffic… I understand that your milage will vary with puns, but maybe a criterion could be: will you ever think of it again and smile?

    • Beth says:

      My friend who has cattle has several cattle chutes on his property to help him handle his cattle.

      • Huda says:

        Yes, thanks for pointing it out, Beth. I agree that a secondary meaning is specifically related to narrow passageway (often with an incline) for cattle. But to my knowledge, the term is not used for humans. Maybe it’s meant to be an analogy, but then it would have been good for the clue to make reference to animals or herds…

        • JohnH says:

          Then, too, that meaning of CHUTE doesn’t even appear in either MW11C or RHUD. It would need a very different cluing to point to it.

        • Papa John says:

          I refer to the ribboned passageways in banks and movie houses, etc., as “people chutes”.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      That particular pun was fine. But 1-for-8 isn’t.

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: GAROTTE is truly unfortunate considering the two highly visible recent suicides. The number of suicides is staggering and the behavior is contagious.

    I am part of a large collaboration trying to understand more about the underlying biological and psychiatric factors leading to suicide, and hoping to developing better predictors to enable its prevention. It’s especially important to mitigate the terrible emotional pain that leads to suicide. I never wanted to succeed more at anything else.

    • Papa John says:

      “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.”

      The Myth of Sisyphus Albert Camus

      Albert mentioned this before the steep rise of juvenile suicides. Is the number actually greater than before or are we more exact in counting?

      When my daughter was in high school, in my rural community of two towns (no larger than 1800 souls), I was aware of no less than twelve attempted suicides, all teenagers. I brought this to the attention of the Superintendent of Schools because I thought he, too, should be aware of this. His immediate response was “I had no idea,” and “What do you expect me to do about it?” My wife brought it up with one of our local doctors. He replied by saying that the real problem for teenagers isn’t suicide but, rather, familial sexual abuse.

      What a world, huh?

      • Huda says:

        The CDC has been tracking pretty actively for the last 20 years and the rate is definitely going up– 45,000 in 2016! Every hour of every day, day or night, at least 5 families in the USA lose someone to suicide. It’s happening as we speak. The attention that celebrity suicides get is a reminder to all of us but it also makes it seem like a rare event. Far from it. I think the opioid epidemic is part of the story along with the rising rate of depression. The question of why…

        • Lise says:

          Huda, thank you for all the work you are doing. I hope that it is possible to make a difference.

    • Ethan Friedman says:

      Just me — that’s a stretch. (A) I’ve followed Bourdain and Spade’s losses (especially the former as I was a great admirer) and I didn’t even know the specific method, so that association (GAROTTE –> their tragic losses) wasn’t made by me.

      B. People commit suicide all the time by shooting themselves, overdosing, etc. I don’t think we should ban PILLS, AMMO, etc. etc. from the puzzle because of this. But, of course, that’s just me.

      All this said — good luck. I can’t imagine a bigger task and I hope you succeed!

  7. Dedie says:

    I live very near Grindstone City in Michigan and seen more of my share of said stones BUT never involving a blacksmith…..and my grandson is an amateur blacksmith….very misleading.d

  8. dh says:

    I had a little issue with “Bada Bing” clued as “The Godfather Catchphrase”. I just recently re-watched the entire franchise of movies, and my reaction to this clue was, “The Godfather? Really?” I had to look it up.

    James Caan used it once in the first movie, sources indicate that he ad-libbed the line; but based on the common definition of a “catchphrase”, I don’t think it really fits. I think as a catchphrase it’s more along the lines of “The Sopranos” or “Goodfellas”.

    “Don’t ever take sides against the family …” Absolutely.
    “An offer he can’t refuse” ? Of course.

    Just a personal reaction.

  9. Richard says:

    That’s a pretty ugly top left of the NYT. I knew I was in for a slog when my first two entries were AS AM I and ACCT.

  10. Jeff says:

    I didn’t like DDR’s clue (NYT 61-across). In English, East Germany was GDR. DDR was the German-language abbreviation. The cluing should have reflected that. I had GDR in there for a long time.

  11. cyberdiva says:

    I had the same objection to NYT 61A as Jeff. And for far too long the same “wrong” answer (GDR).

  12. Ethan Friedman says:

    I was not a fan of this Times puzzle sadly. Way too many nasty crossings.

    FILI / IOLANI (I mean, at least clue FILI as the dwarf from Hobbit, not a thread prefix — I wager many more people have heard of the former?)

    etc. etc.

    Partially made up for by the elegant QATARI / QEII crossing — two good non-U Q words. But still, my least favorite Sunday in a while, alas.

  13. Burak says:

    Just finished the Sunday puzzle. The cluing overall was simply amazing. The theme was very weak, only PAYYOURFARESHARE and GIMMEABRAKE worked for me. ROUTEOFALLEVIL was a cool pun, but the clue was meh. The fill was very rough at certain spots. So basically once I went through all the clues, there was nothing left to enjoy as I struggled to figure out MAKETHE*EE*/ARMY*O*/*OUE, EAR*OB/BU*BA, SNEE*CH-NA*/**IT etc. I really wanted to enjoy this one and I simply couldn’t.

    2.1 stars.

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