Sunday, January 13, 2019

LAT 15:02 (Jenni) 


NYT 9:26 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed (Jim Q) 


Andy Kravis’s New York Times crossword, “Parlor Tricks”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 13 19, “Parlor Tricks”

Andy’s theme is things you might order in an ice cream parlor, if that parlor was big on multiple meanings of things.

  • 23a. [At the ice cream parlor, the grand marshal ordered a …] PARADE FLOAT. An ice cream float is edible, a parade float is not.
  • 39a. [The confirmed bachelor ordered a …] SINGLE MALT. That’s whiskey rather than ice cream. I have never once had a real malted ice cream thing, other than the junky things from the ice cream truck.
  • 42a. [The crossing guard ordered a …] TRAFFIC CONE. Tangerine sherbet, I assume.
  • 67a. [The amateur singer ordered a …] KARAOKE BAR. Chocolate shell, please.
  • 70a. [The dental hygienist ordered a …] SUCTION CUP. Hygienists have the suction tube thingy, and they polish your teeth with a prophylaxis cup, but I don’t think SUCTION CUP actually pertains to dental hygienists’ work one bit. Can you think of another 7-letter word that precedes CUP that would better lend itself to this theme? MEASURING CUP would work for a tailor, but that’s 2 letters too long for this slot, and the theme has no 12s.
  • 92a. [The Apollo Theater usher ordered a …] HARLEM SHAKE. Viral dance crazes should all be accompanied by milkshakes.
  • 97a. [The pastry chef ordered a …] BAKING SODA. Drink up!
  • 115a. [And the homebody ordered an …] INSIDE SCOOP. Chocolate, please.

With the exception of 70a, I like this theme a lot. It must’ve been fun to put together a list of candidate phrases. I assume the research involved a few visits to ice cream parlors, too.

Alrighty, there were two answers in this puzzle that I had to piece together with crossings: 101a. [Ocular socket], EYEPIT, and 125a. [Vaporize], AERIFY. Now, in my medical editing past, I worked on an ophthalmology book … and EYEPIT is not a term I have ever seen. Also not sure if AERIFY gets much use in the world. Merriam-Webster tells me EYEPIT dates back to the 13th century, but who’s been using it since then? And AERIFY’s EWA crossing probably vexed a number of solvers.

Highlights: WHOLE HOG, HARD ROCK HOTEL, FAITH HILL, BOATLIFT (but I know the term as a big undertaking to ferry people across a body of water, as in the Mariel boatlift from Cuba in 1980, and not at all as a 4d. [Marina apparatus]), WAGE HIKE, EMOTICON, DEA AGENTS, TRAIN SET, LATIN AMERICAN, KISS OFF, and—last but absolutely not least—CIS-WOMEN. This blog is affirmatively supportive of our transgender friends, so don’t complain if you somehow didn’t know the term CIS-WOMEN, or [Females whose gender identities match their gender assignments at birth]. I normally frown at use of “females” to refer to humans, but it might be hard to clue this otherwise. “Female people” is just weird.

Four stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Play Time” – Jim Q’s writeup

Here’s one puzzle that you certainly can’t call “tone deaf.” This week’s theme is all about musical instruments.

THEME: Common phrases/names clued wackily to be reimagined as instruments: (every theme clue answer begins with the phrase “Musical instrument played by…”)

  • 22A [Musical instrument played by a buddy of Fred Flintstone?] BARNEY FIFE.

    WaPo crossword solution * 1 13 19 * “Play Time” * Birnholz

  • 24A [… a Congressperson?] HOUSE ORGAN.
  • 38A [… a camera operator?] TAPE RECORDER. The recorder. There’s an instrument I can do without.
  • 47A [… a computer user?] QWERTY KEYBOARD.
  • 68A [… a fan of “My Little Pony”?] UNICORN HORN.
  • 88A [… a toaster?] CHAMPAGNE FLUTE. Anyone know the punchline to the joke “How do you get two flute players to play in tune together?”
  • 96A [… a suitor?] LOVE TRIANGLE.
  • 117A [… a scuba specialist?] DIVING BELL.
  • 120A [… a member of the American Kennel Club?] DOG WHISTLE.

Before getting to any nitty-gritty about the puzzle, please take a minute to enjoy this:

I understand it’s a parody, but it does raise the question “Who truly enjoys the sound of a recorder?”

Anyway, this puzzle was another one that was right over the plate. I didn’t chuckle at any of the theme answers, but they weren’t scowl inducing either. Well… I think calling a WHISTLE a musical instrument is a tiny stretch. Was it referring to a slide whistle? I had one of those in a Fischer Price kit when I was a kid. I recall being very, very good at it.

Some inconsistency with whether or not the first word changes meaning (like HOUSE ORGAN vs. UNICORN HORN), but overall, a light and playful diversion.


  • 53D [Like 2019] ODD. Here’s to hoping that ODD in this context is the opposite of EVEN.
  • 57D [Talk Like a Pirate Day sound] ARR! Already looking forward to September 19 this year.
  • 58D [“Amelie” actress Audrey] TAUTOU. Never saw it (somehow missed the Broadway adaptation too) and needed every crossing. Evan carefully avoided Naticks in this section with some clever cluing (Looking at you, DEEDEE!)
  • 105A [Word in the opening of the Gettysburg Address] AGO. I had AND. That word came before AGO and I stopped the thought process there.
  • 18D [Non-venomous snake] BOA. If someone brings a comfort pet aboard your next flight, and it’s a BOA, rest assured it’s not venomous.
  • 66D [“Show me your cards”] crossing 86A [“You win this round”] I CALL / I LOSE. Sounds like me playing poker for sure.
  • 90D [“Gotta Man” rapper] EVE. I assumed EVO because it looks more like a rap star name, and convinced myself PORIDOT was correct. Quickly changed to an E and Mr. Happy Pencil made an appearance.

3.25 Stars from me!

***Update: Just solved NYT… Same church, different pew!***

John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword, “Beta Blockers” – Jenni’s write-up

Still in NYC, headed out for Day 2 of shopping with Emma, so this will be brief. It’s not actually that hard – it took me 15 minutes because my daughter only wants to talk to me when I’m doing something else.

The theme is “familiar phrases that start with B with the B removed.” Some of the answers are pretty funny. Here’s the grid.

LAT 1/13, solution grid

Have fun!

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24 Responses to Sunday, January 13, 2019

  1. Ethan says:

    A milestone that should not be overlooked: this is the first time EID has appeared in the NYT in the Shortz era, and it is the first time it has ever appeared in the NYT clued as a holiday on the Islamic calendar. It’s sort of shocking that it’s taken so long for a holiday celebrated by over a billion people, with obvious crossword-friendly letters, to make its debut.

    • Huda says:

      I agree that it felt unusual to see EID, and I wondered what solvers would think of it.
      EID just means a celebration- the one after Ramadan is 3 days and the one at the end of the lunar year is 4 days long.
      We never got presents. We got new clothes for the Eid and they were meant to be a little fancy. And a big feast– lots of great food. And all the adults dropped by to see relatives and wish them joy, and they gave a little pocket money to the kids– like 50 cents or a dollar. We’d gather that money and use it to pay for rides on carousels and other types of rides that would get set up on the streets for the occasion. It felt very exciting and festive, with all the neighborhood kids out on the streets.
      But a big part of it was also thinking about people who were less fortunate. My maternal grandmother was kurdish, and many Kurds were poor but proud. Most never got to eat meat all year round. They lived in a particular neighborhood of Damascus, so the night before the Eid, my grandmother would go pay brief visits to a couple of dozen families in the Kurdish Quarter and leave food by the doorway on the way in. I accompanied her at times, and she always went inside, chatted with the family and remembered the names of their children, “broke bread” or had some tea with them and excused herself, so we could go on to the next house. It really changed the meaning of the Eid for me to be part of this sharing.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Thank you for sharing your remembrances, Huda. You’re educating us non-Eid-celebrants in ways we’ll remember, with your personal details.

        The local Islamic institution in my neighborhood marked the end of Ramadan a couple years ago with a music and art festival for everyone in the neighborhood to enjoy, culminating in a delicious buffet feast for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The admission costs were voluntary donations—and the money went not to defray the costs of the event, but rather, to make a sizable donation to the survivors of the then-recent Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

        • Huda says:

          Amy, I really like that story about the celebration in your neighborhood. Its unfortunate that the negative stuff gets so much more play than the positive… People wind up with so many stereotypes, but the more interaction, the more opportunity to break them.

      • Lise says:

        Huda, I really love your posts.

  2. Bruce Haight says:

    I’ve never encountered the term “eyepit” in my ophthalmology training, and since the only other pits in the body that I can think of are the armpit and the pit of your stomach I’m hoping eyepit doesn’t make a big comeback!

    • JohnH says:

      Yes, that one and AERIFY did have me wondering if they were words and slowed me down. I’d agree, too, that the clue for SUCTION CUP could stand improvement.

      • JohnH says:

        I should say, though, that the two definitely are words, to judge by the dictionary, so I’m not complaining.

  3. Christopher Smith says:

    Am I the only one wondering if “confirmed bachelor” means what the NYT puzzle seems to think it means?

    • anon says:

      No, I wondered the same thing. The term originally did refer to its literal meaning, but over the past few decades it’s taken on the euphemistic meaning you allude to.

      Seems like a less specific (and even better, non-gendered) term could have been used in the clue here instead.

  4. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: I didn’t have a problem with SUCTION CUP (mainly because I didn’t stop to think about it, but also) because it’s not the only entry whose clue refers only to the first word of the answer. See also the confirmed bachelor, Apollo Theater usher, and homebody clues. The other four apply to their entire entries (arguably). So while it may be quizzical, at least it’s balanced in a way.

  5. Steve Price says:

    Anyone know the punchline to the joke “How do you get two flute players to play in tune together?”

    If you mean to play in unison…Ask them to play a minor second.

  6. David L says:

    Pretty nice puzzle except for that SE corner where all the junk ended up. I don’t think of APRIORI and ‘theoretical’ as meaning quite the same thing. When I googled a priori, the first definition that came up was a display box that equated it to theoretical, but the M-W definition doesn’t make that connection.

  7. David L says:

    The recorder video is hilarious in a somewhat painful way that brings back memories of 25 12-year-olds trying to play ‘Frere Jacques’ en masse.

    There are some very good recorder players out there. Skillful as Michala Petri is, however, her performance makes me think that a person can listen to only a small serving of recorder music at any one time.

  8. pannonica says:

    NYT: “Can you think of another 7-letter word that precedes CUP that would better lend itself to this theme?”


  9. RunawayPancake says:

    LAT – Minor quibble with 2D “Verbal” being ORAL. Through usage, “verbal” has become synonymous with “oral”. However, “verbal” used to refer to anything relating to or in the form of words whether oral or written. Through the predominant usage of “verbal” to only mean “oral,” we’ve essentially lost a useful word.

  10. Martin says:

    CHE note.

    In addition to the most convenient link to the weekly Chronicle of Higher Education crossword found here on the Today’s Puzzle page, Will Johnston has added calendar pages for these at his site:

    This will create an archive for older puzzles as time goes by. It only begins with the current puzzle, so don’t look for older CHEs there yet.

    Thanks again to Brad Wilber for committing to upload puzzles both to Fiend and my server. In addition to Dave setting things up here, Brad and David Klahn are to be thanked for helping out Will and me.

    I’ll try to remember to repost this note for Friday.

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