Tuesday, 2/23/10

NYT 3:15
Jonesin’ 3:58
LAT 2:53
CS untimed

The Tipsy Tourney puzzles are up! Here’s the crazy-hard one (in which the theme didn’t much help me to solve) by Janet Siefert Goss and Pete Mitchell, and here’s Barry Haldiman’s easier (but not Mondayish at all) offering.


Joanne Sullivan’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 13Is this a constructing debut for crossword artisan Joanne Sullivan? How could it be, when the theme is so flippin’ cool? At 68A, LANDFORMS are [Geographical features...or what the circled squares in this puzzles represents]. Each of the landforms is represented doubly: In the word spelled out in the circled squares, and in the shape those circled squares map out.

Up at the top left, there’s a PLATEAU with a broad plateau sketched out in rows three and four. In the lower left, CLIME and BIFF embrace a CLIFF with a right angle. Out in the California region there’s a MESA, flat-topped like the PLATEAU but more of a hill size. There’s a VALLEY in the middle. A flat PLAIN sprawls to the left from the heartland. And down in the Southwest, a big MOUNTAIN ends in the foothills of the theme word LANDFORMS. My kid had to assemble and illustrate a dictionary of geographic terms recently so the simplified LANDFORMS here are right up my alley.

The fill has some lovely longer answers that pull double duty by supporting the various landforms. Like ILL AT EASE, which lends five letters to the PLATEAU, and the flat CHAPLAINS. The short fill is less distinguished, but that’s understandable because there are, what, 37 squares that are not double-checked but triple-checked.


Updated Tuesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Genetic Content”—Janie’s review

Last week, Martin Ashwood-Smith’s “DNA Land” made me think we were going to get a puzzle related to this genetic material. But no. This was a puzzle with palindromes. Today, however, there is a very real “DNA” sequence in the puzzle, as is confirmed at 30A [Genetic content found in 17- and 60-Across and 10- and 23-Down]. And those four theme phrases contain the “genetic content” quite handily. See for yourself:

  • 17A. BRAND NAME [Kleenex or Kool-Aid]. No generics here.
  • 10D. SID AND NANCY [Dysfunctional movie couple]. And real-life couple. As in the brand name example, the “DNA sequence” here is also part of an internal palindrome–which is kinda cool.
  • 23D. GOOD-NATURED [Jolly]. Not a likely way to describe Sid and Nancy… To be fair, good-natured? Perhaps on some days. “Jolly”? Not in the movie I saw…
  • 60A. AD NAUSEAM [Over and over and over...]. Effective cluing here.

Not only do we have lively theme fill, the non-theme fill/cluing pulls its weight as well. GODZILLA [Monster Island dweller] is bound to put a crimp into any otherwise BUCOLIC [Pastoral] environment. (Just ask Bambi…) Among other “unwelcome” types, he keeps good company with the OGRE [Grimm villain]. The puzzle also has a “giant,” as in [Giant start?], but this is one of those sneaky clues that’s really telling us to sound out the word “giant” and hear that it begins with a SOFT “G.” BALOO may be ["The Jungle Book" bear], but he falls more into the “non-threatening creatures” category–like the “bear” of the sky, URSA [Major constellation?].

SEXINESS, ONE CENT, BEER NUTS, CODDLE and “WHATEVER” all add to the grid’s strength, and other good fill (or filling, as the case may be): [Carne] ASADA [(Mexican dish)]. No TILDE [Spanish squiggle] in that one, but maybe follow it up with some FLAN [Caramel-topped dessert]. Don’t wait until next ENERO [Month after diciembre] to enjoy. If you can’t get to sunny Mexico for an authentic taste, the restaurants in EL PASO [Site of the Sun Bowl] probably do a more than credible job.

Joy Frank’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 14I shall give this puzzle a title, and that title is “Crossword Fiend.” Each theme entry is a familiar two-word thing ending with a word that can also mean “buff” or “devotee”:

  • 17A. CEILING FAN is clued as a [Devotee of a Sistine Chapel feature?].
  • 24A. [Devotee of green ice cream?] is a PISTACHIO NUT.
  • 44A. [Devotee of thunderstorms?] is a LIGHTNING BUG. If you’re a lightning and weather bug, check out the photography of David Mayhew. How many photographers incorporate storm-chasing into their art form?
  • 54A. [Devotee of a classical language?] clues LATIN LOVER, et al., id est, Q.E.D., exempli gratia, carpe diem.

I suspect this crossword is really quite easy because I multi-tasked while solving it and still stayed under 3 minutes. (I was listening to this week’s post-ACPT edition of Ryan and Brian’s entertaining podcast, “Fill Me In.”) An easy puzzle with a cute and well-executed theme fulfills its destiny. An easy puzzle with a lifeless theme is something that makes me sad. Hooray! This one fulfills its destiny. The fill is plain but smooth, which is better than “showy but compromised by lousy short fill.”

Best clue to misinterpret: 11D: [Punctuation in play dialogue] is a COLON. I’m imagining a play in which the actors are to use more than their voices to generate sounds.
Updated Tuesday afternoon:

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “It’s a Tough Job”

Matt has two toddlers in the house, so when he builds an anagram theme around CHANGED DIAPERS, he’s not going to take those diapers lightly. The first three theme answers not only end with anagrams of DIAPERS, but their base phrases are other “___ diapers” terms:

  • 20A. [Anguish over a huge credit card bill?] is PLASTIC DESPAIR. “Plastic diapers” is, near as I can tell, another term for “disposable diapers.”
  • 32A. “Dirty diapers” are reworked into DIRTY ASPIRED, or [What perverts did to dream of being more perverted?]. The surface sense of DIRTY ASPIRED is lacking, alas. Maybe you can dirty-dance but I don’t think you can dirty-aspire.
  • 41A. [Textiles elevated to a higher status?] are CLOTH PRAISED. Would read better as PRAISED CLOTH but that disrupts the “cloth diapers” order.
  • 56A. CHANGED DIAPERS is clued with [Did a baby care activity (or this puzzle's theme, literally].

Favorite clue: [It's cheaper by the dozen] for DOUGHNUT. Mmmm, doughnut…who will run to Unkind Donuts for me?

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12 Responses to Tuesday, 2/23/10

  1. joon says:

    this was an amazing theme. crossword artist indeed. great job, joanne!

  2. Sam Donaldson says:

    I agree – what a beautiful NYT puzzle! The theme even helped me during the solve–I think I’d still be wrestling with 52A, 60A, and 61A if I didn’t have help from the MOUNTAIN.

  3. Gareth says:

    Awesome NYT theme! Shows that circles aren’t always a downer!

    Was I the only one who had an incredibly tough time down in the bottom-left? Had GNUS and ANNEXES… Then went for PIUSX and OBESE… Even after correcting those… Didn’t know you get SASES with wedding invitations, but then I don’t think I’ve ever gotten one… Had no idea about the phrase Lackaday or who Champagne Tony was. I’m quite sure it was something of a personal knot though!

  4. LARRY says:

    GARETH -It seems it’s always St. LEO, at least in crossword puzzles.

  5. Matt M. says:

    This is one of my favorite crossword puzzles of all time.

  6. C.W. Stewart says:

    Loved this puzzle! I posted late last night and am not sure it was printed. A little “laggy” from being at the tournament. It was great meeting you Amy and thanks for introducing me to the other female constructors and hosting the breakfast. I met so many, many nice people!

  7. Martin says:

    Great use of the circles, and many interesting, not-often-seen words. Thanks for such a stimulating puzzle! For what it is worth, I saw two juxtapositions that interested me. Starting at 60 across, the next four across clues were “LeoIX alludesto ample lionesses.” The 3 verticals starting at 52 down were even more apropos: “Alas Lema oops.” Tony Lema was a popular professional golfer who had escaped poverty and won the British Open and over 10 other tournaments. He died in a plane crash in 1966.

    (Note from Amy: This is neither Martin Herbach nor Martin Ashwood-Smith, but a third Martin who would receive my thanks for adding a last initial or the number 3 to his user name for future comments.)

  8. Jim Morrison says:

    Hi friends.
    This FREE page might help you solve crosswords or construct them:
    http://www.mylanguagenotebook.com/mlnwordtoolsenglish.aspx

  9. Joanne Sullivan says:

    Amy, thank you so much for your flippin’ cool review, and thanks to everyone else for your very kind compliments. You made my day.

  10. zifmia says:

    Just curious, after coming here for a couple months… as near as I can tell you blog about every single puzzle on your list of “Today’s Puzzles” _except_ Stan Newman’s Newsday puzzle?

    Only wondering since that’s the first puzzle I started solving online after reading Cruciverbalism last year.

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    zifmia, I blog about the Saturday Newsday puzzle, the “Saturday Stumper” that often is gnarlier than the Saturday NYT. The Sunday through Thursday puzzles tend to be a couple notches easier than the other puzzles I do, and I just can’t bring myself to devote the time to such easy puzzles.

  12. Entropy says:

    Congrats on your ACPT finish.
    After reviewing the results I am blown away by the level of the competition on all levels.
    Maybe next year I’ll venture up. Hey, if I finish 700 out of 643 that wouldn’t be so bad.
    I’m still plugging away, after a long business career, I never had the time (or made the time) to do these on a daily basis.
    In a little over a month I can do the LAT in about 15 min. (on paper).
    Your times still impress me every day.
    You go girl !!!

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