Tuesday, 3/30/10

Jonesin’ 4:21
LAT 3:31
NYT 3:30
CS untimed

Elizabeth Gorski’s New York Times crossword

Picture 2I had no idea what the theme was when I finished filling in the puzzle, but there was a great “aha” moment when it clicked. Why is 9A: FIVE-O clued as [Cops, in slang...or a hint to this puzzle's theme]? Because the five theme entries have different spellings of the “O” sound:

  • 17A. AU COURANT means [Up-to-date]. Like its partner in the opposite corner, AU COURANT is stacked with a non-theme answer of equal length, which makes the theme less immediately obvious.
  • 23A. For [Brut or Paco Rabanne], I tried to squeeze EAU DE TOILETTE in but ran out of room. It’s EAU DE COLOGNE.
  • 41A. “OH, TO BE IN ENGLAND…” That’s the [Browning opening line preceding "Now that April's there"]. I leave it to my more poetry-savvy commenters to explain whether this is Robert Browning (my guess) or Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
  • 52A. To OWE BACK TAXES is to [Be indebted to the I.R.S.]. The IRS owed me a $6 refund, thank you very much.
  • 65A. O PIONEERS! is the [Willa Cather novel] with the same “Is that really necessary?” punctuation as Jeopardy!

How many of us know FIVE-O only by way of the old TV show Hawaii Five-O, and how many are hep to the slang in its own right? I learned of the slang via crosswords, I believe. Story of my life, people.

Favorite clues, favorite answers:

  • 14A. WHIPPED UP is clued as [Made quickly, as a meal]. Great entry. Three Ps? You can’t beat that.
  • 70A. I like the cheesiness of the term BUDDY LIST. This [Computer setup to facilitate instant messaging] is strictly an AOL/AIM term, is it not?
  • 6D. The most eminent IDA is [Civil rights advocate ___ B. Wells].
  • 7D. [Light from above] is a noun, not a verb—the SUN.
  • 9D. FAR-FLUNG [Widespread] looks weird in the grid before it’s all filled in. I hope somebody somewhere made up the word FARFLING (a form of “to farfle,” of course) because GIV sounded as likely as GUV (“guv’nor,” an [Informal British term of address]) to them.
  • 42D. BABA WAWA! That was a classic [Gilda Radner character] on SNL. I preferred Lisa Loopner, Rosanne Rosannadanna, and Emily Litella over the long run, but Baba Wawa is timeless because I think of that characterization about a quarter of the times I see Barbara Walters.
  • 53D. Cool clue for WELSH: [Like the name "Bryn Mawr"]. Which of you went to college there?
  • 60D. [Prince, e.g.] clues HEIR because Prince is the musical HEIR to Jimi Hendrix, obviously.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Freefillin”

Picture 1Once again, Matt explores themeless territory with a weird-looking grid. Those snaking 10-square black pieces? The 4×4 corners? It ain’t pretty, but it does give us quadruple stacks of 10-letter answers crossing pairs of 10-letter Down answers which then cross single 10-letter Across answers. Overall, that’s 14 10s and for the hell of it, four 9s. I wonder if Brendan Emmett Quigley wants to take a stab at filling this grid.

Highlights:

  • 26D. Who doesn’t love a crunchy WAFFLE CONE? I used to sniff at paying extra for a waffle cone but I finally caved in. I want the waffle cone.
  • 49A. When I was a kid, I loved the ICE CAPADES. It may have taken me until today to figure out that the [Skating show]‘s name is a play on “escapades.” That…is not so clever. There is no such thing as capades.
  • 29A. [From Sumatra or Timor, old-style] clues EAST INDIAN, as in pertaining to the East Indies, vs. the West Indies in the Caribbean, which are nowhere near India. Mind you, the East Indies aren’t exactly next door to India either. Columbus, what were you thinking?
  • 12D. [They may include lyrics] is the clue for LINER NOTES. The waning of record albums and the concomitant waxing of tapes and then CDs has gutted the art of liner notes and dammit, I want to see the official lyrics as presented by the recording artist if I buy some music. You rely on the Internet for song lyrics and bad things happen. My kid’s class was singing “in the cream of the fight” as part of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” in second grade because that’s what the teacher printed off the Internet. “The cream of the fight”? The teacher didn’t have a problem with that. (Sigh.)
  • 33D. NEWCASTLE is the [English city known for coal and beer]. Is there a Newcastle Black Coal Ale to go along with Newcastle Brown Ale?
  • 45D. SATYR is clued as [Mythical horn-dog]. Mm-hmm, that’ll work.
  • 54D. I don’t know this song, but the ZERO clue is cute: [Number in the Cookie Monster song "They Not Take That Away From Me"].

On the down side, I wasn’t wild about fill like “WHAT A SNOB” and the E/S/T density of ESSAY TESTS, ESTATE CARS, SESTET, and DESERT ROSE. In a crazy grid like this, though, you have to expect some of that to facilitate the rest of it.


Updated Tuesday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Act Like a Bird”—Janie’s review

“Bird is the word” today as Tony’s theme fill consists of four actors, each of whose whose first names is also a nest-dwelling winged creature. This top-”flight” group is made up of:

  • 20A. RHEA PERLMAN ["Cheers" actress].
  • 27A. MARTIN LANDAU ["Crimes and Misdemeanors" star]. I still think of him in connection with TV’s “Mission: Impossible,” I confess–but his work with Woody Allen (and in Ed Wood) have distinguished him in a long career and a competitive field.
  • 49A. JAY HERNANDEZ ["Hostel" star]. Oh, dear. Have never heard of either. Keith Hernandez, yes… Note: Just send any jibes to my “Under a Rock” address.
  • 60A. ROBIN TUNNEY ["The Mentalist" co-star]. Have heard of the show, but not of Ms. T. (See note above.)

“OHO?!” ["What do we have here?!]. Not only is this puzzle a pangram, but there is a veritable raft of witty and well-crafted clues and/or fill that adds to its lively feel:

  • FUTZ [Tinker needlessly] and also the title of Rochelle Owens’s 1967 Obie-winning play.
  • SMARM [Obsequious flattery], which ties in by way of rhyme, with DISARM [Render harmless].
  • [Mere slip of a skirt] MINI.
  • WAFTS [Travels, as a fragrance]. I first became aware of this word in Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics for “The Lusty Month of May” (from Camelot), when Guenevere sang “Whence this fragrance wafting through the air? What sweet feeling does its scent transmute?”
  • [Do well as a stand-up] KILL (i.e., as a “stand-up” comic) at, say, a ROAST [Joke-filled tribute], and not use the force of your BICEP [Muscle that's a gun, in slang]. New slang. Yay!
  • [Love in La Paz] AMOR. That’s Bolivia, which is a nice geographic complement to [Andean land], PERU. (And back to amor, is that a shout-out to Tony’s better half in ["Martha My ___ ] DEAR”?…)
  • [Bus commuter's expense[ and [Car commuter's expense] give us FARE and TOLL.
  • QB SNEAK [Tricky sounding yardage attempt, briefly].
  • ACCORDION [Popular zydeco instrument].
  • [Sills solo] ARIA pairs well with AIDA [Verdi opera], especially since she sang the title role (among other, more traditional venues) at the University of Utah football field. No kidding.
  • [Super-elite swabbies] NAVY SEALS.
  • [Totally wiped] ZONKED, and
  • [March site for King] SELMA–and not [Site for March King].

We just saw ASSET [Plus] yesterday–so today it’s not one… but with all of the goodies above, I can get over it!

Robert A. Doll’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Picture 3Whoa. The first six Across answers are all 3-letter words or abbreviations. In all, the grid’s got 24 3s, and not many of them are single, non-abbreviated words.

The constructor’s name always makes me think of my Aunt Roberta, whose first name was read aloud as “Robert A.” at her high school graduation. Yes, it was the early ’70s and many boys had long hair too, but really now.

Moving on! The theme is phrases that begin with synonymous words: SNAPPING TURTLES, BREAKING NEWS, CUTTING CLASS, and SEVERING ALL TIES. What I like is that in all four phrases, the “cuting” word isn’t used to mean physically breaking something into two pieces. Good theme consistency. I briefly pondered whether SEVERING ___ was the start of a contrived or a natural phrase, but then SEVERING ALL TIES sprang to mind completely naturally.

My laptop’s screen is smaller than my 20″ monitor at home, so Across Lite clues are smaller. I misread the 8D clue as [Movie girl with "penis"] and thought of The Crying Game‘s Jae. Whoops! It’s PAULINE, the [Movie girl with "perils"] in The Perils of Pauline.

That’s all for me for Tuesday. We may rent a pontoon boot and go look for some manatees in the spring-fed Crystal River they frequent. Who doesn’t love a manatee? Especially because you can move its last letter to the beginning and get “emanate.”

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16 Responses to Tuesday, 3/30/10

  1. John Farmer says:

    Very cool theme. I liked it. Odd thing, though, I didn’t end up with FAR-FLUNG but with FAR ALONG, which seemed close enough for “Widespread,” and it seemed to work for the crossings too (INA for INF, GOV for GUV). Not complaining…just not too often I get tripped up on Tuesday.

  2. Jan (danjan) says:

    I had FAR ALONG instead of FAR FLUNG, and the crossings looked plausible (Concerto IN A, GOV instead of GUV) I looked everywhere else for possible alternate crossings, and gave up after several minutes. Thanks, Orange, for solving the mystery for me!

    edited to add: John and I must have been typing our comments at the same time! Great minds think alike, right John?

  3. John Farmer says:

    Jan, I’d guess we won’t be the only two…great minds, that is.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Funny to see another HAIR homophone in this homophonic offering today… Nice one!

  5. Wes says:

    Count me as another who had FAR ALONG. I didn’t think it really worked with the clue, but the crossings seemed fine so there it was.

  6. Gareth says:

    I caused a heap of trouble for myself by putting in WORDS @ 34D and clinging to it desperately. Had decided that OWESACKTAXES was some American argot I wasn’t hep to… Add the mystery name @ 33A and slowness to recall 29D and you have a tough Tuesday custom-made.

    But it was really a clever puzzle. Unusual that the theme is explained all the way @ 9A, but the hard part is understanding the explanation! FIVEO is a word my nephew is inordinately fond of, so I picked it from there reinforced by the Peas’ “Boogie that B.” I think I might’ve contributed to your learning it from crosswords though…

    5 X >HOMOPHONES<- all cool phrases = Tuesday gold! OPIONEERS was one of those: “I’ve never heard of it… Oh wait I have” moments, though I think it was from another crossword?

  7. Evad says:

    Another FAR ALONGer here. I was wondering why GOV wasn’t clued as the URL finisher, but I certainly wouldn’t have caught the IN A/IN F discrepancy.

  8. jmbrow29 says:

    Ahh! Well, count me in as a FARALONGer too! I put it in quickly and didn’t think anything of it. Errors on a Tuesday do no bode well for the rest of the week.

  9. Spencer says:

    Count me in for FARALONG, too. Only the applet kept insisting that I was wrong. :-(

  10. Jan (danjan) says:

    Enjoyed Tony Orbach’s bird puzzle. I wasn’t familiar with the last two names, either. I confidently entered WASHBOARD for the Zydeco instrument!

  11. MM says:

    A small nit: In the Jonesin’ puzzle, I wouldn’t call BAMA Rose Bowl champs (1D). OSU won the Rose Bowl and Bama won the BCS Championship game (which was played at the Rose Bowl, so I guess technically Matt is right, but still).

  12. ktd says:

    I learned that FIVE-O=cops from “The Wire”, the HBO crime drama set in Baltimore. Still needed to finish the puzzle before I got the connection to the other theme answers.

  13. Zulema says:

    I happen to live in the Five-O precinct in NYC and never heard of its being shorthand for the whole Police Department. Definitely not here or great confusion would ensue!

  14. joon says:

    janie, i didn’t know JAY or ROBIN either, so don’t feel bad. on the other hand, i was very impressed by tony’s theme, and the fill and clues made me work harder than usual for a CS. a really nice peppy puzzle!

    the jonesin’ was the usual mix of freestyle hilarity and oddity. i had SHE’S A SNOB for WHAT A SNOB, and when i tried filling in 5-across using the downs from right to left, i was in for quite a surprise (especially as i was still thinking about british spellings, due to HOMOGENISE and ESTATE CARS). anyway, how come nobody else is as creative as matt jones when freestyling?

    liz’s NYT had a great theme and a lot of really nice long fill. i managed to avoid FAR ALONG, and actually, i blew through the whole thing in my fastest-ever tuesday time. when i saw how far i was ahead of al and amy, i thought i might actually catch dan for once… nope. not even close. 1:38! good grief. he’s lucky the FIVE-O didn’t catch him going that fast.

    nobody has mentioned it yet, but the “O” syllables are all stand-alone words in their theme phrases, which is a nice touch.

  15. Matt Gaffney says:

    MM — I caught the BAMA clue (which was mine, not Matt J.’s) only after sending the puzzle out. Had to send a correction to all 50 Jonesin’ papers, but luckily it didn’t get printed in any of them.

    I didn’t correct the Google Group for the reason you mention — they did win the BCS game at the Rose Bowl, so technically the clue is correct (or could be seen as a tricky misdirect, though I admit that wasn’t the original intention!).

  16. cyberdiva says:

    Yet another FARALONGer. Since I do the puzzle on paper, it never occurred to me that it was wrong until I read Orange’s blog. When I “realized” the answer was FARALONG, I thought, “Oh, OK, a disease that has spread to all parts of the body is now both widespread and far along.” A bit morbid for a Tuesday :-).

    And Janie, I too had no knowledge of Jay Hernandez or Robin Tunney. Nor were those the only things I didn’t know, which made today’s CS puzzle more difficult for me than most non-Bob-Klahn CS puzzles. Oh well, I took comfort in the belief that I had sailed throught the NYT puzzle! :-)

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