Sunday, 3/21/10

NYT 9:28
Reagle 9:00
LAT 7:16
BG 6:38
CS 3:07

Ah, spring! When the crocuses begin to bloom just in time to be blanketed with snow.

Updated to add: Don’t miss Liz Gorski’s discourse on “The Myth of Crosswordese”.

Adam Fromm’s New York Times crossword, “Them’s the Breaks”

It took me a good long while to realize what the theme entries were doing: The word breaks are stealing the S from the second part and attaching it to the first part to change the meaning completely, making the first word into a verb. Interesting layout, with five Acrosses and four Downs, two of which are attached to the central Across answer. Here are the theme entries:

  • 23A. [Goes from walk to trot and trot to gallop?] clues DOUBLES PACES. I wanted something like “changes paces” at first, as I’d skipped the 1-Across corner and started with 9D: [S-curve]/OGEE. Yes, that’s right—OGEE was my entrée into the grid. Double-spacing is what you do on a manuscript.
  • 38A. [Teaches a ceramics class?] is TRAINS POTTERS. I started out with POTTERY at the end there, so that slowed me down too. Train spotters have too much time on their hands. They should take up crosswords instead.
  • 69A. POLICES TAKEOUTS is clued with [Monitors food orders to go?]. Police stakeouts are a staple of cop buddy movies.
  • 100A. [Illuminates a Halloween display?] turns light switches into LIGHTS WITCHES.
  • 122A. [Puts hats on display?] clues SHOWS TOPPERS (show-stoppers).
  • 16D. TURNS TILES is clued [Prepares to play Scrabble?]. (Turnstiles.)
  • 38D. [Closely follows secret banking information?] clues TAILS PINS, which is as good a way as any to interpret PINS. (Tailspins.)
  • 57D. This one’s kinda icky. OILS PILLS is clued [Makes drugs easier to swallow?], and the idea of swallowing oily pills is gross. (Oil spills.)
  • 74D. LANDS CAPES is clued [Manages to grab some bullfighting attire?]. (Landscapes.)

I made the wrong choice for 79D: [Strokes] should be PETS but I had PATS, paying no mind to the resulting IDLA crossing (83A: IDLE, [Potentially going into screen saver mode], a great clue). It took about a minute to scan the grid for that error after I clicked “done!” You know, the applet’s question mark on the “done!” button is insulting when you happen to have a mistake.

Clues and fill that caught my eye:

  • 11A. [Seven-card melds] are CANASTAS? I’ve never played canasta and didn’t know that plural existed.
  • 48A. MAUI is [Where Haiku is]. I suspected the answer would be an obscure 4-letter Japanese city, but no.
  • 51A. I still like WYSIWIG (“what you see is what you get”). It’s a [Word-processing acronym].
  • 68A. WOOLSEY demanded lots of crossing letters before he peeped out. He’s the [James who was CIA director under Clinton]. “Admiral Woolsey” sounds right to me, but I may be thinking of Admiral Halsey.
  • 82A. Peter TORK, [The blond Monkee], attended Carleton College but did not graduate. He was one of two Peter Thorkelsons in his class. The other one roomed with my friend David’s dad.
  • 119A. JAPAN WAX is an [Ingredient in furniture polishes], and it took me forever to complete that answer and the crossing SONG MIXER (81D: [Recording engineer, sometimes]). I considered the very wrong SONG MINER.
  • 6D. [Santa's traditional home, to some] is LAPLAND. Maybe 2010 will be the year my kid gives up his belief in a higher toy-giver.
  • 11D. CATTLEMEN are [Ones promoting brand awareness?]. Ouch.
  • 36D. [45-degree wedge] clues OCTILE. That would be one clunky shim. (Another eight answer: OCTET is 70D: [Maids a-milking in a Christmas song, e.g.].)
  • 42D. I love SUSS OUT, or [Solve, in British slang].
  • 46D. LSAT is clued [It includes a sect. of logic games]. When I took the GRE, it still included a logic puzzle section. That was awesome! It was easier than the logic problems I did in the Dell puzzle magazines when I was a kid.
  • 52D. [Common place for a pull] stumped me for the longest time. I was pleasantly surprised when a GROIN emerged here.
  • 55D. I don’t remember the title KOOKOO at all. It’s the [Gold-certified debut album of Debbie Harry] of Blondie fame.
  • 114D. [Only man to win both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar] clues SHAW. Wait, what about Al Gore? An Inconvenient Truth Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize…sounds good to me. And he’s got a 4-letter name, too.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “It’s That Time of Year Again”

Region capture 2What time of year is it? It’s SPRING, and that’s what is in each of 13 rebus squares. Yeah, I’m not going to list all 26 answers that contain SPRING. But notice that Merl has assembled a group of theme entries of paired lengths and placed them in symmetrical places in the grid. The 13 crossings that also contain SPRING are just a bonus on top of the baker’s dozen of rebused theme answers.

Here are the theme entries:

  • 20A. HOT {SPRING}S is an [Arkansas city].
  • 25A. BRUCE {SPRING}STEEN is the ["Cover Me" composer].
  • 27A. This was the first rebus answer I hit, and I needed all the crossings. ["December Bride" star] clues {SPRING} BYINGTON. Who??
  • 32A. {SPRING} WATER is a [Natural drink].
  • 37A. [Comes up, idea-wise] clues {SPRING}S TO MIND.
  • 54A. COLORADO {SPRING}S is the [Air Force Academy city].
  • 69A. [Optimistic Pope quote] is from Alexander Pope, not a pontiff. “HOPE {SPRING}S ETERNAL.”
  • 89A. NO {SPRING} CHICKEN is clued [Getting up there, perhaps].
  • 102A. JERRY {SPRING}ER is the [Cincinnati mayor-turned-TV host].
  • 106A. A [May gala] is a {SPRING} DANCE.
  • 113A. Whoa. “JELLO ON {SPRING}S” is Jack [Lemmon's description of Monroe's walk in "Some Like It Hot"]. Somehow, I suspect Merl has been waiting for years to put JELLO ON SPRINGS into a puzzle.
  • 119A. DUSTY {SPRING}FIELD is clued as the ["I Only Want To Be With You" singer].
  • 124A. [Asian appetizer] clues {SPRING} ROLL.

The {SPRING}s are all over the place—at the beginning, as part of SPRINGS at the end, and smack-dab in the middle of the phrase. A lively assortment to usher in the season, no?

Just a couple other notes today:

  • 63D. [Lyndon's VP] uses the “VP” part to signal the answer’s abbreviated form, but wouldn’t it make more sense to use “LBJ” as the signal for HHH’s initials? HHH is Hubert H. Humphrey, which is one of my all-time favorite mellifluous names.
  • Two unfamiliar names struck me. 65A: ["The Third Man" zitherist Karas] is named ANTON, and 91A: [Country star Hall] clues TOM T.

Henry Hook’s Boston Globe crossword, “Jane Reaction” (in Across Lite)

Region capture 3Henry’s theme is famous Janes and their careers: a movie Fonda acted in (ON GOLDEN POND), a pop band Wiedlin played in (THE GO-GOS), a social service institution founded by Addams (HULL HOUSE), Russell’s commercial endorsement (PLAYTEX BRAS), TV shows starring Wyatt, Curtin, and Wyman (FATHER KNOWS BEST, KATE AND ALLIE, FALCON CREST), Goodall’s scientific focus (CHIMPANZEES), a king wed by Seymour (HENRY VIII), and a film Campion directed (THE PIANO).

I like a theme that focuses on women’s achievements—we see far more puzzles centered on men.

Henry, is the C made out of black squares in the grid pertinent?

Updated Sunday morning:

John Lampkin’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “The Clothier’s Apprentice”

Region capture 4The theme involves common phrases reinterpreted as if they have to do with tailoring. Here are the theme entries:

  • 23A: [Poor prep technique earned the apprentice the nickname __] TURKEY BASTER. Basting is sewing two pieces of fabric together loosely so they can more easily be sewn together permanently.
  • 34A: [He thought NASA sewed astronauts' uniforms with the __] SPACE NEEDLE. The Space Needle is that odd-looking landmark in Seattle.
  • 48A: [Mixing up orders from a cop and a priest, he __] COLLARED THE WRONG MAN. Cops “collar” or arrest people, and priests wear clerical collars.
  • 65A: [He designed a shirt, but wound up with a vest because he __] LOST THE THREAD. As in “lost the thread of a conversation.”
  • 82A: [Jogging, he forgot about the pin cushion in his pocket and __] GOT A STITCH IN HIS SIDE. Wait, a needle in the pin cushion came out and worked its way through the apprentice’s flesh with a thread? That’s the premise here? Ouch. You can read about stitches in your side here.
  • 100A: [He thought inferior fabric came from __] WORSTED WOOL. This fabric takes its name from the village of Worstead and not from the past tense of the verb “to worst.”
  • 113A: [Upon reviewing the apprentice's work, the boss said, "Truly you are a __"] TAILOR’S DUMMY. That’s a mannequin of sorts, right? Maybe a stuffed one covered with cloth?

Assorted two-word and compound answers and their clues:

  • 26D: [Source of a draft?] of beer is an ALE KEG.
  • 25A: CIA AGENT is a [Langley operative]. When I see clues like this, I pause and ponder whether I need the FBI or the CIA.
  • 74A: ]Response to a ring] of the phone or the doorbell is “I’LL GET IT.”
  • 111A: [Varied assortment] is an olio or MIXED BAG.
  • 116A: Your [Brief confession] is “I DID”? Meh.
  • 8D: [Geezer's invectives] are CUSS WORDS, but you know what? So are mine.
  • 12D: I am not a fan of  ROCOCO ART. [Fragonard's paintings exemplify it].
  • 38D: [Stag] clues ALL-MALE, as in a stag party.
  • 78D: [Bygone delivery vehicle] clues MILK WAGON. Boy, did I need a lot of crossings to see what sort of WAGON this was.

I wonder if NORN is used as a name for baby girls in Scandinavia. Are there a bunch of Norn Jensens and Norn Lundqvists out there? (35D: [Norse goddess of fate].)

Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword, “Sunday Challenge”

Region capture 5Super-smooth triple-stacks today, with some clunky little crossers and a bunch of easy-peasy clues. 3:07?!? I think I’ve done a couple of themelesses faster than that, but nearly every other themeless has been tougher than this.

The 15s:

  • 1A. IMPOSSIBLE DREAM is clued with [It's out of reach].
  • 16A. [Completed the job] clues TIED UP LOOSE ENDS.
  • 17A. TRADITIONAL IRAS are [Roth alternatives].
  • 61A. TENNESSEE AVENUE is packed with common letters like T, E, N, and S, so it plays well with others in a crossword grid. The Monopoly clue is [Neighbor of St. James Place].
  • 65A. The HBO [Miniseries starring Al Pacino] and Emma Thompson and Meryl Streep is ANGELS IN AMERICA. Brilliance and virtuosity all around.
  • 66A. The STARS AND STRIPES flag is [Old Glory].

Other clues:

  • 21A. An EXCERPT is a [Book jacket bit, often]. I kinda wanted this to be a BIO or BLURB but hey, I’ll take a 7-letter answer with an X any day.
  • 43A. [Brand for slicing, but not dicing] is an X-ACTO knife, for crafts and not kitchen work.
  • 44A. [Sigmatism] takes its name from the Greek letter sigma, or S. It’s a LISP.
  • 47A. Joe NAMATH is the [Jet who was a giant?]. Played for the N.Y. Jets, not the Giants, but was a giant in the NFL.
  • 56A. [Thrice daily, on an Rx] is TID, short for the Latin ter in die. Yay! It’s an actual prescription abbreviation doctors use. Sometimes crosswords pretend that doctors spell out TER but…they really don’t.
  • 2D, 10D. Spanish! “MIRA!” ["Look!" in Leon] signals that you need a Spanish word meaning “Look!” [That, in Toluca] is ESA.
  • 6D. SPT. is short for seaport, or [Harbor city (abbr.)].
  • 14D. ADAS are [The Countess of Lovelace and others]. Ada Lovelace was a very early pioneer in computing.
  • 26D. Ouch. [Noble's title, abroad (var.)] clues AMEER.
  • 30D. [Ashley's sister, in "Gone With the Wind"] is named INDIA. Really?
  • 32D. LYMPH is a [Fluid rich in white blood cells].
  • 50D. “IT’S IN” is clued as a [Tennis commentator's shout]. Hmm.
  • 52D. I wanted [Fillers of head space?] to be sinuses or brains, but they’re IDEAS.
  • 60D. Henry LUCE was the [Publisher known as "Father Time"].
  • 64D. Partial entry E AS is the worst answer in the grid, but it’s gettable enough. [___ in elephant].
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18 Responses to Sunday, 3/21/10

  1. duke says:

    The Shaw clue seems wrong to me. Didn’t Gore win both as well? The “groin” clue is fairly close to obscene for the NYT. Let’s have more of that!!

  2. LARRY says:

    I see that Cruciverb is back on line. Any idea when it will bring the LATimes daily puzzle archive up to date? As of now, nothing later than Mar. 15 is linked.

  3. ePeterso2 says:

    Yeah, GORE was my first thought as well. Maybe this puzzle has been sitting in Will’s pile for 9 years like the BEQ Monday did … Gore received the prize in 2007.

    Also, the only thing more surprising than 52D is the last sentence in Amy’s response to 52D. Oh my! :-)

  4. HH says:

    “Henry, is the C made out of black squares in the grid pertinent?”

    No, it was pretty much forced on me by the placement of the interlocking theme answers & the unusability of 2-letter answers.

  5. arthur118 says:

    The Oscar for The Inconvenient Truth was awarded to the director, Davis Guggenheim, not to Al Gore.

  6. Bill Sullivan says:

    Where is everyone getting the LA Times puzzles from? I haven’t been able to access these puzzles for Friday, Saturday and today. Any ideas? Thanks!

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    As opposed to the puzzle he made a while back where the black squares in the middle formed a huge letter H.

  8. LARRY says:

    Does anyone know how to access prior Sunday Bonus puzzles? They have links in the archive for 2009 and prior but none for this year, except for the 3/21 and 3/14 puzzles linked on the home page. Specifically I’m looking for the Split Decisions puzzle from a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for any help.

  9. Jan (danjan) says:

    The LATimes puzzles are available through cruciverb now.

  10. Mike says:

    {Just saw you’ll be posting the Diagramless answer tomorrow.}

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Mike: This evening, actually. Just finished the puzzle.

  12. Rob says:

    I’m still kind of getting into cruciverbalism, so if I’m wrong here, please advise… it’s my understanding that having a part of the answer appear in the clue is non-standard? If so, I wish to officially nitpick Merl Reagle. :) 106D – cluing {SPRING}LIKE as [Like beautiful weather, perhaps?] threw me because I wasn’t looking for the word LIKE in the answer, so that one sat until I worked through the crosses. It’s a nitpick because I know I could never build a puzzle that complex, nor would I try… so I’m asking more to clarify the concept than to specifically call out that puzzle.

    Balancing that with something more positive: I know you don’t cover the Tribune/Bursztyn puzzles here, but today’s was quite a fun bit of handiwork… it’s worth a look… :)

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Rob: Yeah, you’re right. Can you think of a clue for SPRINGLIKE that doesn’t use the word “like”?

  14. Rob says:

    Would it have worked as “Beautiful weather, perhaps?” or “A day in April, often?”

  15. HH says:

    “Can you think of a clue for SPRINGLIKE that doesn’t use the word “like”?”

    How about “Vernal”?

  16. HH says:

    ‘Would it have worked as “Beautiful weather, perhaps?” or “A day in April, often?” ‘

    No — the clue would have to be an adjective.

  17. Rob says:

    I’m getting the sense that this one is the exception that tests the general rule… :)

    Thus why I don’t envy anyone trying to construct a puzzle.

Comments are closed.