Thursday, 4/1/10

NYT 9:40
Fireball 9:27 (available via fireballcrosswords.com)
LAT untimed
Tausig tba
CS untimed

Lee Glickstein‘s New York Times crossword

Picture 8Whoa. What we have here is a standard themed puzzle, with four theme entries and a word count of 74. Here are the explanatory theme answers:

  • 17A. [Like the clues in all the words in this puzzle] means REARRANGED. You have to switch the words “words” and “clues” in order to read this clue correctly.
  • 53A. The same clue also signals OUT OF ORDER.
  • 11D. And MOVED AROUND.
  • 25D. Or FLIP-FLOPPED.

Indeed, every clue has words that have been rearranged, disordered, moved, or flip-flopped. In order to make sense out of them, you have to mentally sort the words into a new sequence and sometimes change the punctuation. For example:

  • 1A. [Talks little] clues CHATS, which in plural noun form means “little talks.”
  • 6A. [Short chest, for muscles] clues PECS, which are “chest muscles, for short.”
  • 20A. [As a grasshopper prepares] clues MIXES. My best guess for the original clue is “prepares, as a grasshopper.” You MIX cocktails like a grasshopper.
  • 39A. [Of kind society] clues CAFÉ, as in “café society.” A dreaded “kind of ___” clue—café society is a “kind of society” but a café is not.
  • 44A. LAPELS are “places for small American flags,” or [Places small American flags for].
  • 60A. This one has a more significant punctuation change (the sort of punctuation action cryptic crossword fans are used to). [Brief blowup, in "Big"] is an N-TEST, or a “big blowup, in brief.”
  • 1D. [Revival of a cause, briefly] is CPR, or “cause of a revival, briefly.”
  • 6D. [Show part of a game] clues the PANEL that is “part of a game show.”
  • 7D. [With spurs on] clues EGGS, or “spurs, with ‘on.’”
  • 28D. [Secret thieves of slang] clues CANTS, which I think means the original clue is “secret slang of thieves.”
  • 36D. [Drivers of love] clues that “love of drivers,” the OPEN ROAD.
  • 49D. DOORS are “opportunities, so to speak,” or [Opportunities to speak so].
  • 51A. [Does partner for] clues the STAG that’s a “partner for does,” plural of “doe.”

Some of these clues were really tough to reorder in a way that made sense. The puzzle’s gimmick is so tricky and convoluted because it’s April Fool’s Day. Now, when April 1 falls on a Monday or Tuesday, Will Shortz doesn’t want to be too mean to crossword beginners. But hooray for a Thursday April 1! The twistiest day of the crossword week is well-suited to the holiday.

Did you love this puzzle, or did it drive you nuts? I really enjoyed the oddball challenge. Lee, do you want to tell us a little about the development of this crossword?


Updated Thursday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Tomfoolery”—Janie’s review

To honor the day, Randy has been foolin’ around with the name “Tom.” Each of his four “before and after” theme phrases begins with the full name of a well-known “Tom” and ends with a word the name-in-full can describe. That final word can also be paired with the last name to reveal another stand-alone phrase. The combos are particularly lively and smile-making. The terrific “Tom” phrases are:

  • 20A. [Money in a rock star's pocket?] = TOM PETTY CASH, or Tom Petty + petty cash. Petty cash, whether it’s coin or paper, has its origins in the [Place where change is being made?], or the U.S.MINT. (I like the tricky way that clue is worded!)
  • 27A. [The New England Patriots?] = TOM BRADY BUNCH, or Tom Brady + The Brady Bunch.
  • 42A. [Quote from "Top Gun," e.g.?] = TOM CRUISE LINE, or Tom Cruise + cruise line.
  • 52A. [Original print of an old oater?] = TOM MIX MASTER, or Tom Mix + Mixmaster. I love all of the theme fill, but this is my fave. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a brother who, as a little boy, wanted to be either a cowboy or a doctor when he grew up (he chose the latter) and a mother whose Mixmaster sat out on the kitchen counter and who used it (sometimes on a daily basis), that this colorful, retro combo (and concept) both delighted and resonated strongly for me.

I wasn’t keen for seeing that there were three words in today’s puzzle that had already appeared this week (in one case for the third day running…), but there’s a lot of fresh fill as well. The re-treads are XMAS, ASSISTS and RHEA. The brighter spots include GALAXY [Collection of stars], “THEY SAY…” [Start of an unattributed rumor], BIBLICAL [Like some seminary studies] and ESTEEM [Think highly of].

I also like the “cross of the heavies” where TEAMSTER [Follower of Jimmy Hoffa] meets PIRATES [Jack Sparrow's crew]; and even though they’re not clued in a way that ties them together, I like how GAMERS sits above AVATAR. (But, really, can an Avatar video game for die-hard gamers and fans of the movie be far behind?) Notice, too, how ETS [Space visitors, briefly] cuts through them both. Finally, there’s a nice sequence of cluing where [A real mess] is followed by [Sticky stuff], for PIG PEN and TAR. Yuck.

Solving this puzzle was not necessarily an [Easy victory], but it was definitely a ROMP!

Alex Boisvert’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Picture 10For April Fool’s Day, we get a puzzle with nonstandard left/right symmetry and a theme that breaks up in nonstandard ways and reads in nonstandard directions. 1A is the [Start of a thrill-seeker's mantra] and the rest of the theme phrase continues clockwise around the grid’s outer edge: IF YOU AR/E NOT LI/V/ING ON T/HE EDGE /Y/OU A/RE TAK/ING /U/P TOO MU/CH ROOM. Three corner squares are essentially unchecked, but it’s not hard to piece together the sequence of words so that’s not a problem (though it is nonstandard).

I don’t know about 9D. NERDS are [Unlikely class presidents]? Wait, let me see if I have this right. Class president is a popularity contest, while student council president is what leadership- and résumé-minded nerds aspire to?

36A: [Mass reaction, perhaps] is not about church. The answer is HYSTERIA.

The SPACE AGE is 37D: [Era that began in 1957]. My kid doesn’t seem keen on going to Cape Canaveral this week. His cousins left this morning, so now he’s the only kid in the house and he’s bored.

Trip Payne’s Fireball crossword, “Something Different”

Picture 9Trip used to make this sort of puzzle for April Fool’s Day in the New York Sun, where it was called “Wacky Weekend Warrior.” He’s also been making them on his own. If you’re as enchanted by these madcap adventures in crosswording, head to Trip’s “Triple Play Puzzles” site; the “Something Differents” are listed under Variety Grid Puzzles.

In this puzzle type, only a few short answers would be valid in a regular crossword. The rest are concocted phrases with clues that will get you to the answer as soon as you get your mind in the right goofy frame. The loosening of “what makes an acceptable crossword entry” standards makes an insane grid possible. A 50-word grid with 12 blocks would smash the constructorial records if the fill passed NYT-type muster.

Highlights of goofiness:

  • I hope my mentions of Florida manatees this week made ON TOP OF A MANATEE come to you more readily. The clue is [Sea cow rider's place]. Now, technically, nobody seems to call them sea cows here, where about 3,000 West Indian manatees hang out this time of year, but it’s kosher.
  • Show-biz names fill out ISH KABIBBLE-LIKE, ERNEST AS STU, “MR. T! MR. T!,” and WYMANER.
  • 2D is clued [It's not connected with guacamole in any way]. The answer to 2D is ANSWER TO TWO-DOWN. Indeed, it is without avocadosity.
  • The nocturnal bird that isn’t being squeezed is OWL IN GENTLE HAND.

There’s a gentle surrealism to this sort of puzzle, and I always find “Something Different’ to be an entertaining change of pace.

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29 Responses to Thursday, 4/1/10

  1. jmbrow29 says:

    I’m with you on this one Amy. I had a blast rearranging the clues to make some sense out of them. I didn’t understand the grasshopper one until you explained it above. thanks!

    Jonathon

  2. nanpilla says:

    I really enjoyed this. I wouldn’t have thought about it until you brought it up – but Thursday is certainly the best day for April Fool’s Day in the crossword world. It is also my horse’s 21st birthday – going to the barn “with spurs on” with a case of beer to celebrate his coming of age.

  3. Tuning Spork says:

    Loved loved loved it.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I was anything for ready given the hour witching twin of Thursday and April 1.
    Around my head it got quickly, but still over the clues needed to think one by one.

  5. joon says:

    dominate this crossword yoda would.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    This puzzle’s guest editor Yoda was. A vacation day took Will Shortz.

  7. joon says:

    i should add: i loved the puzzle, but i spent over 3 minutes on the last two squares, where PAVE crossed CANTS and PROLE. not knowing either of the last two words made it really, really hard. (well, i know CANT the verb meaning to tilt over, which didn’t help.) eventually i cracked the PAVE clue and figured it might be right, based on similarity of PROLE to PROLETARIAN. shouldn’t PROLE have had some kind of “informally” tag? or is it legiter than that?

  8. Rick Narad says:

    First time through the clues, totally frustrated. After the “aha moment,” a really fun puzzle.

  9. SethG says:

    Can I grade this separately? I loved the gimmick, but found the puzzle just tedious. It was easy to see that unscrambling was needed, but there were several areas where the proper clue arrangement was obvious but the answer still tortured. [Low on the side] has to call for an adjective, right? Question mark or no, I’m not sure how [Drive the top off?] can get to PAVE. (And with PROLE/CANTS? What joon said.) “Love of drivers” is yucky for OPEN ROAD. A RAPIER is a tool?

    I enjoyed figuring out how the clues were supposed to work, I just didn’t enjoy solving those clues.

  10. ArtLvr says:

    I did the Fireball first — thinking that it would be enough just to make a start tonight. Lo and behold, it unraveled happily… very amusing. Then I came to the NYT, found this wasn’t difficult but just gave me a headache. My brains feel scrambled, and I just hope it’s not permanent!

  11. Tuning Spork says:

    Fireball was a ton o’ fun. And only twelve blocks in the whole thing.

  12. Matt M. says:

    Put me down for loving this one, too. I had a smile the whole time.

  13. Brian says:

    @Joon — wow, you and I had exactly the same final challenge with this puzzle. I’m sure I took ten times longer than you to solve it, but I was also stuck at PAVE/CANTS/PROLE at the end there.

  14. Will Nediger says:

    I think this week’s Fireball is my favourite Something Different ever.

  15. Howard B says:

    Joon, same experience here. Love the puzzle, the concept, and most of the fill except for CANTS, which would be a rather nasty answer if clued straightforwardly. I initially tried for PODS on the crossing, which made the perfectly cromulent word CANDS. Anyway, bravo for the trickery and happy April Fools’ Day!

  16. Jim Finder says:

    NYT: If anyone can explain the clue at 40D, “Part of drain” for EAT INTO, here’s my “arggh!” in advance. Thx.

  17. Martin says:

    “The Planning Commission rejected the farmer’s proprosal because it would drain part of a protected wetland.”

  18. Jan (danjan) says:

    I did the Fireball right before the NYT, and really enjoyed the Fireball, as I have Trip’s other puzzles like it. When I started the NYT, I felt mildly disoriented, but thought that the clues might be backward, so tried entering the answers backwards, too. Fortunately, I didn’t go down that path for too many entries. Grasshopper took me a bit to get, but then I remembered Mom’s grasshopper pie – the Oreo crust/Jell-O/whipped cream version of the drink.

  19. Great to see the range of loved to hated for this one, what I expected. I had this idea for what Martin Herbach calls a “stupid constructor trick” 3-4 years ago and thought it would be just right for an April 1, and Will’s been holding it for quite a while. Those who suffered brain pain from my creation will be happy to know that this workout precisely strengthened the part of your brain that keeps it fit. You’re welcome!

    I got an email this morning from an AARP honcho: “Studies show that activities like crosswords can strengthen the brain and keep it fit. I could actually feel that happening with this puzzle, a real brain challenge, trying to re-sort the words and make sense of the clues, with different little strategies emerging. I will be contacting Mr. Shortz to see if we can reprint this puzzle in our magazine as ‘The Crossword that Staves off Alzheimer’s.’”

  20. Hugh says:

    I really enjoyed both the puzzle and your comment, Lee! Thanks for helping me ward off Alzheimer’s for a few days or weeks.

  21. John Farmer says:

    Lee and Alex,

    Your puzzles rocked! And that’s no joke.

  22. Sam Donaldson says:

    Lee,

    Just wanted to add my thanks for the workout – I loved it from start to finish! (In my case, that was PECS to MIXES.)

  23. Ari says:

    I really liked this puzzle, but got stuck in that same section: PAVE/PROLE/CANTS. I’ve never heard the word CANT used in that sense, but the real issue was that for “Worker routine,” I had put DRONE. I sat for several minutes trying to figure out what word would fit with “Drive the top off?” with the letters “D – V E.” Also, due to DRONE, I had LAPENS as places for small american flags, which just made no sense. Once I finally realized it was LAPELS, PROLE fell in, and the rest was history. I did have to look up CANTS though, to make sure that was right.

  24. Tony Orbach says:

    Nice Job, Lee! My brain did hurt, but in a good way. My first thought was to enter STAHC, which, thankfully, didn’t work for one second. I loved the clues that held together as if they were merely cluing something else entirely – only a few, like [Does partner for], for example, were pure Yoda-speak. Neat!

    Joon, PROLE is marked as “informal” in RH2 but, according to cruciverb database, has been clued with and without that tag roughly an equal number of times. [Working stiff] was a common clue – with the “stiff” part leading to informality. Tough one, even without the jumbling!

  25. cyberdiva says:

    Jim Finder, if you change “Part of drain” to “drain part of,” then it EAT INTO makes sense, as in “All those expensive cars will eat into your savings.”

    I really liked the puzzle.

  26. Eric Maddy says:

    I take issue with 2D in Trip’s puzzle — the answer is connected with guacamole simply by virtue of the inclusion of “guacamole” in the clue…..

  27. John Haber says:

    I loved the theme and the puzzle, although with three reservations. I didn’t know “tornado alley,” I didn’t think the like/as equivalent with mixing a grasshopper was legit, and I wasn’t sure that after rearrangement CANTS could still be plural.

  28. Howard B says:

    Finally got to Trip’s Something Different… oh, was that worth the wait. Thank you.
    I’m mildly disappointed at the lack of avocadosity (thanks Amy), but otherwise loved filling this one in. Mr.T! Mr.T!
    Innovative series of puzzles today, including the LA Times as well. Although the LA puzzle was a distant cousin of the dreaded stepquote, I thought it was done cleverly and elegantly, with a nicely appropriate quip.
    Each puzzle today was a different experience and different challenge to overcome, all fun.

  29. Tuning Spork says:

    Since the Sun archives are no longer available on-line I’d just like to ask Trip, if he’s reading, if 12 blocks, to date, is his personal best for a published Wacky Warrior Different Weekend or Something puzzle. ‘Cuz, if so, he really needs to try harder.

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