Friday, 3/19/10

BEQ 4:54
NYT 4:06
CHE 4:02
LAT 3:29
Something Different (Trip Payne) 11:18 (get it at Triple Play Puzzles)
CS untimed

For the Wall Street Journal crossword, look for Jeffrey’s Diary of a Crossword Fiend post Friday morning.

Trip Payne’s crazy crossword, “Something Different #3″

Region capture 7Each month, Trip adds another crossword of some sort to his website, Triple Play Puzzles. This is the third “Something Different” creation on Trip’s site; all are 21×21 goofball puzzles with sprawling, wide-open grids filled with nutty answers. One of the older puzzles includes URANUS WARBLER (clued as [Songbird from a distant planet]—see? Eminently gettable!)  and FIFI I MIND (["Gigi and Marie don't bother me, but ___"]), for example. And that grid at the left is from this week’s puzzle. How it hankers to be filled!

I won’t spoil the answers for the new puzzle, or talk about the clues and answers that amused me the most. If you need help with the puzzle, the Across Lite file is unlocked and you can also view the solution on Trip’s site. But do the puzzle! It’s fun. It will also be good training for the upcoming Fireball crossword guest-constructed by Trip, another “Something Different” puzzle. If you’re a long-time Sun crossword solver, you may remember this format as the “Wacky Weekend Warrior” released around April Fool’s Day.

Trip Payne’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 9Oh, look. I pre-blogged Trip’s kooky puzzle and the CHE puzzle and left space for the NYT write-up here, and it’s another Trip byline. Either this themeless is on the easy end of the Friday scale or I was on his wavelength after doing his other puzzle earlier this evening.

Favorite clues and answers:

  • 15A. A [Person with a shaky story?] is a HULA DANCER shaking her hips to relate a story.
  • 20A. Track-and-field star Jackie Joyner married Bob KERSEE, a [Joyner joiner?], and became Jacke Joyner-Kersee.
  • 25A. NOSE JOBS? [They change people's profiles] quite literally.
  • 40A. I didn’t know this French phrase. [Coup de ___ (sudden impulse: Fr.)] clues TETE. A blow of the head = sudden impulse? I’ll buy that.
  • 47A. [Person from Moscow] is an IDAHOAN. Not that Moscow.
  • 51A. PACK RATS is a great answer. [They hold on to things], you know.
  • 3D. [What the fortunate reach] is OLD AGE. Indeed.
  • 4D. To [Complain loudly] is to RAISE A STINK. I’ll bet you a dollar that Trip didn’t submit the puzzle with that “stink” duplication in the 66A clue, [Be a stinker]/REEK.
  • 26A. My favorite entry here is “JUST THE SAME…”—[Despite everything].
  • 37A. The [Spanish seaport] of ALICANTE has a pretty name, doesn’t it? I suspect I recognize the name solely from crosswords.
  • 49D. [A in physics?] stands for an AMPERE. See also 54A: FERMI, a [Physicist with a unit of distance named after him]. Oh, and 19A: ETAS, or [Viscosity symbols], and 16A: RADS, or radiation [Dosage units].

Have any of you ever read any essays written by Charles Lamb under the pen name ELIA? I haven’t. He’s clued here s ["The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers" writer] and no, that didn’t ring a bell.

Todd McClary’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Source (Make That “Course”) Catalog”

Region capture 8As the title suggests with the source/course combo, the theme involves anagrams and college courses:

  • 17A. SHINGLE LIT scrambles English into shingle. ["Should that say 'English,' or will we really be reading nothing but roofing manuals in ___?"]
  • 28A. ["Should that say 'American,' or will we really be studying the past by watching widescreen '60s films in ___?"] CINERAMA HISTORY?
  • 47A. ["Should that say 'Forensic,' or will we really be practicing criminology on trees in ___?"] CONIFERS SCIENCE?
  • 64A. ["Should that say 'Art,' or will we really be practicing psychology on rodents in ___?"] RAT THERAPY?

I like the angle of anagramming a key word in each theme entry rather than an entire phrase. The academic slant fits in perfectly with the puzzle’s venue, too.

Highlights from the rest of the puzzle:

  • 14A. The [Trendy antioxidant berry] is the ACAI. I’ve read the pronunciation but have forgotten it. Ah, here it is. Açaí, with a soft C.
  • 36A. I like clues like this: BANTU is a [Language-group name meaning "people"].
  • 51A. [Weaving course?] isn’t an art class, it’s the curving SLALOM course.
  • 70A. The ELBOW is the official H1N1-savvy person’s [Recommended place to cough].
  • 7D. [Poker pair?] does not clue ACES. Nope, it’s AWLS, a pair of which could indeed do a lot of poking.
  • 13D. An APIARY is a [House of wax?], beeswax in particular.


Updated Friday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Rock Group”—Janie’s review

Neither geology nor music comes to unify today’s theme. Rather, the first word of each of the four theme phrases is one that can follow the word “rock,” for a little bit of “Before and After” action, as in:

  • 17A. (Rock) SALT SHAKER [Item on a diner table]. Or any dining table, no? Rock salt is table salt; and it’s also the stuff that the sanitation department spreads on the roads when a snow storm is predicted. Helps to keep the white stuff from freezing up, creating ICE [Word after pack or black].
  • 10D. (Rock) BOTTOM ROUND [Beef cut]. Rock bottom is as low as you can get/be/dig. In that last case, that’d even be beneath the MIRE [Slimy mud]…
  • 24D. (Rock) GARDEN PARTY [Summertime social]. A garden party in a rock garden could be a very elegant affair, too.
  • 55A. (Rock) CANDY APPLE [Carnival treat on a stick]. Two rather sugary confections, those. Did you ever make your own rock candy? Seems to me this was “homework” in elementary school. It was an easy way for us KIDS to learn about crystal formation and the sweet results served to ELATE us. (This was the kind of learning-by-doing that made dentists around town positively GIDDY!)

Patrick’s pangram also includes such pleasing fill as PEN NAMES [Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, et al.], REVAMPED [Modernized], FORGIVEN [No longer resented], and QUASARS [Starlike objects].

And if there’s no “rock group” here per se, there is ["Diamonds & Rust" singer Joan] BAEZ and Gladys Knight’s PIPS ["Midnight Train to Georgia" backup group].

Seems there’s a little “time off” mini-theme today. You could CAMP [Spend a weekend in the woods], perhaps do some hiking–and take comfort in the thought that the [Second half of a mountaineer's trip] is the DESCENT. Or perhaps you’d prefer the beach, in which case it might be nice to trade that pup-tent for a CABANA [Seashore structure], have a lovely [Piña ___] COLADA–or even just a COKE [Popularly pop, familiarly]. Or you may choose to LOLL [Hang out in a hammock] right there in your own backyard. When you’re AWAKE [Done dozing], guess what? You can nod right off again. It’s your time off!

Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 10Seven theme entries? Whoa. Or rather, sieben theme entries, as they involve German puns. Here they are:

  • 17A. [German version of GQ?] clues HERR STYLE, playing on hairstyle.
  • 18A. [Section reserved for a German composer?] is BACH’S SEATS (back seat).
  • 23A. [Car parked next to a German sedan?] clues an AUDI NEIGHBOR (“Howdy, neighbor!”).
  • 35A. [Germans living in the fast lane?] are AUTOBAHN SOCIETY. This one took a few minutes to make sense: the Audubon Society.
  • 43A. [Give a German philosopher the third degree?] clues QUESTION MARX (question marks).
  • 52A. [Former German chancellor's coffee sweetener?] clues LUMP OF KOHL (lump of coal). Now, this one I don’t care for. There’s nothing to indicate that it’s a lump of sugar. “Kohl’s lump” would be a tumor.
  • 59A. [Causes for alarm in the West German capital?] clues BONN FIRES (bonfires). Hang on—there’s no such thing as West Germany anymore.

As you might expect in a puzzle with so much thematic material, the non-theme fill is mostly undistinguished. The 8s in the corners are solid, but A-RONI, -ATOR, HES, and PHS are typical of the rest.

There are a couple more German words in the fill. 19D: ["Sprechen ___ Deutsch?"] is missing its SIE, and 4D: MACH is a [Speed ratio] named after Austrian physicist Ernst Mach.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Child Support”

Region capture 11The theme’s a quote from comedian Mike Birbiglia” I DIDN’T REALIZE / HOW GOOD I WAS WITH / COMPUTERS UNTIL I / MET / MY PARENTS. The grid has left-right symmetry to accommodate the quip. My mom will be setting up her Mac soon, and if she’s anything like my father-in-law, we’ll be getting a lot of frantic calls for help for the next decade or so.

I like the smattering of Zs in the fill, but really, Brendan, E-ZINE for one of ‘em? Daily Kos is a political blog and Daily Beast is a news reporting and opinion site. If you have to include E-ZINE (or worse still, E-MAG), at least clue it with a site that calls itself a magazine, like Slate or Salon.  Variant spelling HONIED also hurt. The quote includes MET and yet WAS MET ([Didn't go unfulfilled]) is here too; not a good entry, plus it’s a duplication? The ICER, NENE, and ETUI also grate in combination. Looking forward to “Themeless Monday” after the weekend!

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12 Responses to Friday, 3/19/10

  1. ktd says:

    Fittingly, the day I am working with X-rays, RADS appears in the puzzle.

  2. joon says:

    not a hard friday, but not a particularly easy one either. i had trouble with the NW. what’s up with cluing ACORN as an acronym? and is a person from moscow, idaho called a muscovite?

  3. jimbob says:

    Just FYI, the preferred radiation dosage unit is the gray. I got rads no problem, but they’ve been superseded by grays.

    Also, when I studied fluid mechanics in college and then hemodynamics in med school, viscosity was always rho, which threw me off for a moment. When is eta used?

  4. Gareth says:

    Fittingly, the day I fail a test based mostly on X-Rays, RADs is in the puzzle!

    ACORN/KERSEE and KERSEE/EERO were the last 2 letters in… Actually had NERO because that was the only name that made sense with ?ERO, except I somehow managed to forget our friend EERO! Really, really loved the 2 3X10 horizontal stacks (okay ENUMERATES is a bit blah, not bad or anything but 5 out of 6 are cool.) Favorite entry is actually PACKRATS though, not sure exactly why though.

  5. jimbob says:

    Er, just remembered that rho is DENSITY, not viscosity. D’oh. These things happen at 1:40.

  6. Howard B says:

    THEPAPER / ALICANTE were both mysteries for me, so that corner took a little while to unravel. After a bit, ended up with THEPA?ER and ALICA?TE. The Parer??? Nah… Pacer? Thank goodness for the context clue. I suspect a Newsday Stumper version of this puzzle would not have been so kind ;).

  7. Quentinc says:

    A very smooth, enjoyable puzzle. And it didn’t hurt that it was an easy solve for a Friday. My only hitch was that I was certain Patty Hearst’s alter ego was TANYA, which led me to wonder if spies used CYNICAMERAS (I would, if I were a spy).

  8. John Haber says:

    “The Paper” sounded obvious from the clue’s subject, but I swear I don’t remember it, so that part was a bit hard. At the end, I was dying to come here to find out what Joyner/Kersee is about, since I had no idea. But a good puzzle.

    I’m amazed that Amy hasn’t heard of the essays of Elia. I guess it shows how much has changed in more than one sector. Aside from schools, where intro to lit once meant pretty much Romanticism, ELIA was crosswordese for a lot longer. (Lamb was also famous at one time for Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary. I always laughed at the sound of “lambs’ tails.”) I can’t say I’ve ever finished an essay by Charles Lamb, but I sure got used to it as crossword filler!

  9. joon says:

    john, i assure you that amy is familiar with ELIA as the pen name of charles lamb. i think she was just commenting that the titles of the individual essays of ELIA are unfamiliar. even so, had the clue been {“The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers” essayist} instead of {“The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers” writer}, i bet she would’ve instafilled it.

  10. John Haber says:

    Ah, yes, thanks. You know, though, I don’t like things I find obscure when we seem to have to know it or recognize it (like Joyner), but in a clue like this, it’s pretty obvious we’re not supposed to recognize the title. At some point, it’s just supposed to hit us that, hey, ELIA seems to fit, and, gee, that really does sound like it must be an essay. (If it were fiction, it’d be pretty postmodern judging by its title.)

  11. ePeterso2 says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed Trip’s Something Different #3 puzzle today. I hadn’t seen these before, so this was a very pleasant surprise! I still can’t believe that 9A and 22A were the first entries I made in the grid …

    Along those lines, I was wondering if y’all could help me track down a particular puzzle that I once had but can no longer find. It was in an April edition of Games Magazine several years ago – possibly as early as 2000. I think the puzzle was called “Duh”, and it had clue/answer pairs like so:

    [Like the wind] WINDY
    [Born anew] NEWBORN

    Does anyone know which issue this was in? Better yet, might anyone be able to help me find a copy? Thanks -eP

  12. Alex says:

    Loved loved loved the Trip Payne puzzle. So glad we’re getting another one soon!

    Has the “Big One” hit Cruciverb this time?

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