Sunday, 1/31/10

BG 9:15
NYT 8:16
LAT 7:36
Reagle untimed
CS 2:40

Bonus puzzle: This month’s Bard Bulletin crossword by Caleb Madison, who just celebrated his 17th birthday. You can solve “Rapper’s Delight” online or in Across Lite. Don’t worry—you need no familiarity with rap to solve the puzzle.

Tony Orbach and Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword, “Keep an Eye on It!”

Region capture 1Keep an “eye” on things by adding an “I” to the end of a word in the phrases in this fun theme. There aren’t all that many familiar words that end with “I,” so there’s a freshness here that many other add-a-letter themes lack.

  • 23A. THE WIZARD OF IDI is the [Sorcerer behind Amin's rise to power?]. The Wizard of Id is that bad comic strip.
  • 33A. TAXI EVASION is [Dodging midtown traffic?].
  • 41A. I love this one. “YOU CAN CALL ME ALI,” playing on the Paul Simon song “You Can Call Me Al,” is clued as a [1964 Cassius Clay announcement?].
  • 57A. [Average karate instructor?] is a COMMON SENSEI.
  • 66A. ["Yummy! Here comes your tuna sashimi!"?] clues “OPEN WIDE AND SAY AHI.” Do you announce the name of the food you’re eating? I do not. The final I crosses SUSHI, an [Offering at some bars].
  • 76A. Hah! Love this one, too. JEDI CLAMPETT is the [Lightsaber-wielding hilbilly of TV?].
  • 91A. Just how famous is Ramsey Lewis? He seems out of place here. [Invitation to cocktails with pianist Ramsey?] clues MARTINI AND LEWIS. Why not stick with Rat Packer Jerry Lewis, partnering with Dean Martin(i)’s martini? Or use Lewis and Clark, with Lewis ditching Clark in favor of booze. And furthermore: If you’re inviting someone for cocktails, you probably wouldn’t use the singular MARTINI when the plural has more bonhomie.
  • 100A. [Rotisserie on a Hawaiian porch?] is LANAI TURNER. Excellent repurposing of Lana Turner.
  • 118A. This one’s my third favorite entry: “ARE WE THERE, YETI?” is a [Cranky question on the Himalayan trail?]. Perfect.

What else is here? This stuff:

  • 1A. [Ol' Blue Eyes], Frank SINATRA, kicks things off at 1-Across. It can definitely set the stage for the overall solving experience, that first answer. When you get it quickly and it’s a lively entry, the puzzle is asking you to like it from the get-go.
  • 53A. I wasn’t sure where the clue was going. [Something under a tired eye, maybe] is a POUCH. Aww.
  • 55A. [Calls of port?] are nautical AYS. “Ay” and “aye” are the same thing. I kinda wanted something in the “land, ho”/”yo ho ho”/”ahoy” vein.
  • 61A. [The Jackson 5 had five] AFROS. I learned a lot about afro maintenance (nightly braiding? I never knew) from a friend on Friday.
  • 95A. [Film character known for her buns] is Princess LEIA. Hah! Great clue. Hair buns, not cinnamon buns or a derriere. (See also JEDI CLAMPETT.)
  • 122A. PAROLE is an [Out for someone on the inside], in prison.
  • 126A. [Showy streakers] are not colorfully painted naked people but METEORS.
  • 3D. ["The Seven Joys of Mary," e.g.] is a NOEL or Christmas song. Wow, never heard of that one. I hope one of the joys involves turtle doves or lords a-leaping.
  • 8D. “BAD GIRLS”! The [Donna Summer #1 hit] is a colorful answer, but somehow I can’t hear the song in my head at all. “Last Dance,” “MacArthur Park,” “She Works Hard for the Money”…”Hot Stuff”! Gotta love “Hot Stuff.” (Any of these songs earworming inside your head now?)
  • 13D. I think TRINI is a [Certain Caribbean, for short] as a curtailment of Trinidadian, but I’m not so familiar with that usage.
  • 14D. GENEVA is the [Home of the Palace of Nations]. I kinda wanted this to be EPCOT but it wouldn’t fit.
  • 29D. [___ meat] clues DELI. I had DEAD meat at first.
  • 66D. ONDIT splits into two words, ON DIT, French for “one says.” It’s clued as a [Bit of gossip].
  • 70D. [Got in illicitly] is HACKED, as in getting into a computer system.
  • 89D. SLUGFEST is a challenging sports contest, such as in boxing or baseball, says one dictionary. A fight marked by the exchange of heavy blows, says another. The clue is [High-scoring baseball game], a usage I wasn’t familiar with.
  • 100D. LISPS are [Features of Castilian speech], which is the Spanish spoken in Spain.
  • How are your eyes? 117D: [It may have redeye] clues a PIC or photo. 67D: [One who may have red eyes] is a DOPER. And STYES may be [Sights on sore eyes?]. I feel the need for Visine now.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “Matchups”

Region capture 2What do you do with a match? You LIGHT (67-Across) it. And so you LIGHT each theme clue, adding the word “light” to the end of each clue to complete it. For example, [First *] is the CRACK OF DAWN, [Red *] is a CHILDREN’S GAME (though we called it Red Light, Green Light), and [Lime*] is a Charlie CHAPLIN FILM. This is one of those flip-flop themes, where the clues (with their “light”s) feel more like crossword answers and the answers sound more like crossword clues.

I resorted to the Across Lite “reveal current letter” option to get the last letter. 43A: [Voltaire's family name] ARO*ET meets 39D: [Teller of Ice-Age tales] A*EL. I tried every consonant in that crossing, to no avail. “Do Manny and Sid in the Ice Age cartoons have a friend named ABEL?” Turned out to be a U, the haven’t-seen-it-before (or if I have, I certainly forgot it) AROUET crossing Jean AUEL of Clan of the Cave Bear fame. The AUEL clue would have been super-obvious for me if only it had mentioned Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Kindergarten Crime Spree (Part 2)”

Region capture 17This puzzle continues the theme Merl began last week, recounting a detective story (with a kindergarten setting) in the theme clues and answers. In a Cruciverb-L posting, Merl suggested that we solve this one on paper rather than in an interactive online format. The reason becomes apparent near the end: The final theme answer has one square for which any of three letters is correct, but Across Lite and Merl’s online option can’t define three correct answers for one square. The story ends at 113A with “And that’s when the FINGER-P*INTING began.” The clue for the crossing answer, 116D, is [Start of a crime novel by Sue Grafton, whose titles are particularly apt for this puzzle. (This clue has three possible answers. See 113-Across.)]. A IS, O IS, and R IS all work, with FINGER-PAINTING, FINGER-POINTING, and FINGERPRINTING having kindergarten or detective-story connotations. It’s a clever way to make good use of all those Grafton “* Is for ___” titles that so often pop up as partial answers in crosswords.

I’m waiting for Merl’s explanation of why this two-part crossword took him two years to make. The story will appear at Merl’s blog this weekend.

Assorted clues:

  • 60A, 40D. 40D’s clue says [See 60 Across], and 60A says [Golf great]. The golf great is SNEAD, and the Snead is named SAM.
  • 62A. ["Convoy" star's first name] is KRIS, Kris Kristofferson.
  • 101A. The bird called the MOA is an [Extinct 12-footer]. Twelve feet tall! That is much too big for a bird. It’s kind of freaking me out.
  • 111A. [Last two words in the title of an epic 1962 Western] are WAS WON: How the West Was Won.
  • 2D. [Embark on ___ career] clues two words, A SOLO. Asolo is also a town in Italy, home to crossworder S.E. Anderson.
  • 7D. [Wolf's home?] is CNN—Wolf Blitzer, that is.
  • 10D. [Flying wedge sound] is the HONK from a “V” formation of geese.
  • 14D. OPEN ORDER is a [Market action that remains in effect until filled or cancelled].
  • 20D. [Nobel decliner ___ Tho] is LE DUC Tho.
  • 50D. ADAK? [It's an Aleutian] island. The clue kinda sounds like “it’s an illusion.”
  • 53D. IN IT [___ to win it] duplicates the “it,” but is more fun than a clue for the abbrevation of “initial.” Madge’s line “You’re soaking ___” would have worked better.
  • 76D. [Glenn Miller milieu] is a DANCE HALL. The one-word dancehall is a style of music from Jamaica that spun off from reggae.
  • 96D. Love the word GADFLY. It’s [One who may bug you].

Will Johnston’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy themeless “Sunday Challenge”

Region capture 18Whoa, really? This puzzle whooshed past me in a Monday/Tuesday NYT amount of time. Not everything was easy, but the crossings quickly resolved any uncertainties.

Highlights:

  • 39A. When I had the last 7 or so letters of this one, I wanted the answer to be the toy called a MAGNADOODLE, but then I read the clue and saw that it would be LABRADOODLE, three letters off. It’s a [Crossbred dog with a gentle disposition and hypoallergenic coat].
  • 7D. I love EDDIE IZZARD, both as a comedian and as a crossword answer. The [British comedian who toured a "Dress to Kill" show] is touring again—a friend of mine saw his show about a month ago in Chicago.
  • 30D. SOFT PRETZEL can be a [Salty stadium snack]. I prefer the buttery, sugary, cinnamon alternative.
  • 34A. [Darts from side to side] clues ZIGZAGS.
  • 2D. SEMPER FI (semper fidelis) is the [Marines' motto, briefly].
  • 40D, 41D, 42D. Yum! RICOTTA is [Lasagna cheese], a KNISH is a [Potato turnover], and [Tortilla triangles] are NACHOS.

Tougher clues:

  • 1A. [Red giant with an abundance of carbon] is a C-STAR. With answers like this, I plunk in STAR and wait for the crossing to tell me what kind of star it is—the various star labels are not information that resides in my head. The word “star” is repeated in the clue for 29D: ALGOL, a [Star in Perseus] and the name of my college yearbook.
  • 53A. SLOANE is a [Trendy square in London]. Is there still a “Sloane Ranger” demographic? Yes, there is.
  • 37D. [Field scavengers] are GLEANERS, picking over the harvested fields for any missed grain.
  • 44D. ["Domani" singer Julius] LAROSA’s fame endures…in crossword puzzles.

Matt Skoczen’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Running on Empty”

Region capture 19The theme runs on “empty,” which sounds like “M.T.,” which are the initials of each theme entry. There are nine M.T. phrases in all, including:

  • 23A. [Crisp named for an opera singer]/MELBA TOAST.
  • 25A. [Illusion]/MAGIC TRICK.
  • 36A. [Popular date destination]/MOVIE THEATER.
  • 51A. [1936 Chaplin classic]/MODERN TIMES.
  • 72A. [Frankie Laine chart-topper]/”MULE TRAIN.” I have never heard this song; I know it only from crosswords.
  • 89A. [Painter's aid]/MASKING TAPE. More for a house painter than an artist, I think.
  • 105A. [1979 Nobel Peace Prize recipient]/MOTHER TERESA. (See also 4D: ALBANIA, [NATO member since 4/1/2009].)
  • 120A. [Singer's voice, e.g.]/MEAL TICKET, idiomatically.
  • 123A. [Money-making knack]/MIDAS TOUCH.

I did this puzzle last night and the experience is no longer fresh in my head. Let’s walk through a handful of other clues:

  • 98A. [Con ___: briskly, in music] clues MOTO. I know “con brio” and I know “Mr. Moto,” but “con moto” is utterly unfamiliar to me.
  • 80D. CULOTTES are [Skirtlike trousers]. Culottes, gauchos, and knickers had a brief and unfortunate vogue during my adolescence. I wore the knickers.
  • 24D. [Typical, as a case] clues TEXTBOOK. As in “This is a textbook example of a crossword answer you don’t often see, but which is a completely familiar word.”
  • 56A. [Bankrupt Korean automaker] is DAEWOO. Really? When did it go under?
  • 70A. [New Orleans player] is a SAINT. Good luck to the Saints in next week’s Super Bowl!
  • 76A. [Uses as partial payment] clues TRADES IN, as in trading in your old car to defray the cost of a new one.
  • 81A, 108A. [Dark time for poets] is E’EN and [Blake's daybreaks] are MORNS.
  • 132A. [Nineveh's land: Abbr.] is ASSYR., short for Assyria.
  • 10D. NIM is a [Strategic math game]. It’s explained here.
  • 18D. [It's commonly turned] clues an ANKLE. Ow.
  • 38D. [Shakespearean merchant Antonio et al.] are VENETIANS—The Merchant of Venice.
  • 41D. TARPONS are [Silvery game fish].
  • 83D. Inverness is in Scotland, so [Inverness topper] is a TAM. I could see the crossing between TAM and MOTO being a sticking point for some solvers.
  • 106D. [Descendant of Noah's second son] is a HAMITE. Ham’s brother Shem is who the Semites’ name derives from.
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24 Responses to Sunday, 1/31/10

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Toot, toot! Yeah!Beep, beep! Bad Girls!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ_KbwEVBjU

    TAXI EVASION will get big laughs in my office.

    Also loved Merl’s Part 2, a worthy conclusion.

    Sunday rocks!

  2. LARRY says:

    First, I was in the Navy for several years and spent a lot of time on ships and boats and reading about same and I never saw AYE spelled AY.
    Second, could it be that the Caribbean referred to was TRINI LOPEZ?
    Third, I think I’d better reread Catch 22 because I had no memory of a bomber pilot named ORR.

  3. Zulema says:

    Trini was absolutely weird, unless is does mean Lopez, as Larry said. And I would question a lisp as a Castilian Spanish feature. It’s the pronunciation of C’s and Z’s, but do we call the soft TH sound in English a lisp, as in THROUGH or ETHER? Spanish S is quite strongly palatal. Otherwise I enjoyed this puzzle, unlike last Sunday’s.

  4. Jan (danjan) says:

    I thought it meant someone from Trinidad.

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    When in doubt, look it up: Trini is in the dictionary as a West Indian noun meaning a Trinidadian.

  6. Zulema says:

    I know people from Trinidad here and have been there, though not recently, and they never refer to themselves as Trinis.

  7. Elaine in Arkansas says:

    LISPS was a gimme. When someone substitutes /th/ for /s/ or /z/ it is a lisp; when the /th/ is already IN the word, it’s not a lisp, obviously. Castilian Spanish was regarded as more elegant and refined by my Cuban Spanish teacher, who insisted on this pronunciation. Some people, however, consider it foppish and ridiculous. Any Spaniards out there who are able to chime in and help uth out?

    Enjoyed the puzzle very much—not many quibbles, though I find I did finish with an error– AWS/WOWZA instead of AYS– and I was mystified by the Calls of port. AYES, aye; AYS, nay. Why not have ADS cross [yowze]-DOWZA?

    I never even saw TRINI as I was on a roll with Acrosses….

  8. miguel says:

    The cuisine of Trinidad and Tabago is definitely called Trini. Peleau Chicken, Accras and Cassava Pone being well-loved examples.

    Etui Brutus!

  9. Elaine in Arkansas says:

    From Rex’s blog, one comment from VaBeach:

    There’s actually a word, in Spanish, for the Castillian lisp — ceceo. Growing up in Puerto Rico, I remember the giggles at school assembly when visitors from the “madre-land” were invited to speak.

    Always nice to learn some trivia!

  10. davidH says:

    Well, “Trini Lopez”, by definition, is a certain “Trini” in two ways then – a certain man named Trini, and a certain Trinidadian. I thought that Luca spelled his name with a “Z” and was completely confused by “Come Zta?”. I loved this puzzle. I find the added I’s very entertaining.

  11. Paula says:

    Can I get a word in for my generation when “rap” was a knock on the door and hip was what you had below the waist? But you don’t have to know anything about rap to do this puzzle — tho I didn’t remember Orr in Catch 22, or know of Lewis. I took Trini for someone from Trinidad/Trini Lopez b/c either fit the clue. On the whole, better than cut-outs and such.

  12. Carla says:

    Orr was Yossarian’s tentmate in Catch-22. He made their stove and could repair things. As Heller put it, “He had all the skills to keep him in the lower class for the rest of his life.” (or something like that.)

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Zulema, you know much more about such things than I do, but my understanding always was that the reason for the characteristic Castilian pronounciation of ‘s’ sounds was that King Philip I of Spain lisped, and he was imitated not out of mockery, but for fear that pronouncing it differently from him would be taken as mockery. Can’t vouch for this, but it”s what I’ve read and been led to understand, and it would tend to support the clue and answer. I did remember Orr, vaguely.

    Bruce

  14. Rex Parker says:

    re: TRINI, I balked at this too, but the idea that people from that country “never” use the term is just wrong. Flat-out wrong. The group “I love being a TRINI” @ Facebook has 600+ members.

    The CS was ridiculously easy for “Sunday Challenge” — under 4 minutes, and second-fastest CS of the week.

  15. Karen says:

    Can any of our musicologists (or Italian speakers) clarify for me the difference between con MOTO and con molto? Thanks.

    I was surprised in the NYT to see two answers WOW and WOWZA. Then even more surprised to find out both of them were wrong.

  16. Zulema says:

    Rex,

    I did say, or hope I did, the people I know from Trinidad, not all. I know someone who calls himself a Trinitarian. I am very far from Facebook culture and I am not surprised at such titles or ones that may yet develop.

    Bruce,

    I do not know the Philip I story, and it doesn’t make sense to me because the S’s are never lisped, but I do know that children learn what they hear and language evolves. Orthography follows and attempts to depict the sounds. It is not the other way around. Brits speak differently from Americans (standard English) and the main difference is in vowel sounds, but they are not giving themselves airs by doing so.

    An interesting aside, for me, is that when I lived in Spain I spoke in my native Spanish which does not differentiate between S, C, or Z; e.g., my name begins with an S sound, but when I had to use a word I never had before like ZUMO (juice),I pronounced it they way everyone did, because that’s how I heard it.

  17. Will says:

    CON MOTO means “with movement” or “with motion” — a musical notation to indicate to the player to not let the tempo flag

    CON MOLTO is not really a complete phrase; it would require some kind of noun after it, MOLTO means “much” or “a lot”, so CON MOLTO AMORE would mean …

    With much love,

    Will

    P.S. The CS puzzles are meant to be M-T level during the week, and the Sunday Challenge can get a little harder but isn’t supposed to be too tricky. I’m trying to keep the difficulty level adjusted downward, but maybe I overcompensated this week.

  18. John Price says:

    There is a well-known street vendor in midtown Manhattan called the Trini Paki Boys Cart, because the cart’s owner is from Trinidad and her husband is from Pakistan.

  19. Rob says:

    I hadn’t heard MULETRAIN until I found this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNkRcqjbSWU

    And Merl Reagle’s puzzles were really fun. When does the movie version of the theme answers come out? :) Of course, the DVD of the movie would have all three endings as bonus features…

  20. Karen says:

    Many thanks, Will!

  21. ArtLvr says:

    In a Spanish port, could they say AY CARAMBA?

  22. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. It’s late, I know, but in the BG the answer for Bolted is SNARFED??? I never heard of that — “scarfed” for bolted food down, yes, maybe “scooted” for ran away. Snarfed, no!

  23. JohnB says:

    No props for PETAL [Corolla part]?? Not being a gardener, I so kept wanting to make “pedal” fit — but I just couldn’t recall a telecom company named ATD.

  24. old mike says:

    I had problems with the ONDIT and ISOLA. If ONDIT is French for gossip them shouldn’t the clue be in French? “A soucon of gossip” And what is an Isola? If thats also a Spanish word the same should apply. Other than that I found it reasonably easy

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