Thursday, 4/15/10

NYT 4:36 (40 seconds to find my typo!)
LAT untimed (PuzzleGirl)
CS untimed (Janie)
Tausig 9:19 (Jeffrey)
Fireball 8:26 (Jeffrey)

Happy Tax Day, and Happy Birthday to Ellen Ripstein!

Edited to add: Jeffrey and perhaps another member of Team Fiend will finish the Thursday write-up for me. Family duties call me elsewhere in the morning. Thanks, Team!


Brendan Emmett Quigley and Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 7The Boston Boys have teamed up to make a puzzle that kinda has a Boston accent: words that end with the [ər] sound drop the R. Like this:

  • 17A. Tiger Woods becomes TAIGA WOODS, or [Areas in northern forests?]. The WOODS part is redundant, as a taiga is a forest.
  • 23A. Minor league turns into MYNAH LEAGUE, or [Chatty bird alliance?]. Yogi Berra was in the mynahs, wasn’t he?
  • 35A. Experimental error is transformed into EXPERIMENTAL ERA, a [Time when laboratories came into vogue?]. ERA is sometimes pronounced more like “ear-uh” than “air-uh,” so this one hinges on having the intended pronunciation in mind.
  • 47A. A [Witch's hamper?] is a WICCA (wicker) BASKET.
  • 56A. Batman’s Wayne Manor turns into WAYNE MANNA, or [Heavenly food for the Duke?], John Wayne.

I was done in by an adjacent-key typo—I had EBENT crossing an ABOCET (the [Wading bird with an upcurved bill] is an AVOCET). Dagnabbit! So close to being under the 4-minute mark on a Thursday.

Stuff I want to mention:

  • Weird old pop culture! 21A: JONES is clued as [Amos of "Amos 'n' Andy"]. Must’ve killed Brendan not to go with [David Bowie's original surname]. 55A is [R&B singer Shuggie ___] OTIS, most active in the ’70s. These were 100% work-the-crossings names for me. And then there’s 13D: HALSEY—[Title admiral in a Paul and Linda McCartney hit]. I don’t know this song at all, but my husband can sing it.
  • 52A. There is an error in this clue. OPRAH was not [Co-producer of the film "Precious"]. She was [Co-producer of the film "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"].
  • 65A. NEWT is clued as a [Lizardlike creature]. I dunno about likening lizards and salamanders/newts. Sure, they’re shaped more or less the same, but reptiles ≠ amphibians. Now, 21D: [Beetle's cousin?] is taxonomically ironclad—the JETTA is also a Volkswagen.
  • 2D is TRANSFIX, or [Fascinate]. Great word.
  • 3D. The UNION REP is [One who labors for labor's sake?]. Solid clue, yes, but with that initial U, I couldn’t help thinking of a UTERUS.
  • 6D. [Nut with a cupule] is an ACORN. The cupola- or cup-shaped cap is called a cupule. Did you know? I didn’t know.
  • 38D. “RIGHT NOW!” has four consonants in a row. The clue wasn’t obvious: ["No, I meant tomorrow…duh!"]. Rejoinder to “Do you want me to…do it today?”
  • Ex-USSR geography in two places: 39D: ARAL is clued as [Kazakh/Uzbek ___ Sea], and 31A: KIEV is the Ukraine [Capital on the Dnieper].
  • Physics trivia! I bet Joon wrote this clue—46D: ATOM, [Unit proposed by Leucippus].


Updated Thursday morning:

Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Length-Wise”—Janie’s review

A puzzle built on words that are units of measure? Not the sexiest sounding idea, but in Tyler’s hands the concept proves to be plenty lively, strengthened as it is by solid theme phrases and cluing, and a well-filled grid to boot. So, each “unit of measure” (or of “length,” if you will) is the last word in a phrase where its meaning is entirely different, having nothing to do with linear measurement. This gives us:

  • 17A. OUT OF ONE’S LEAGUE [More than three miles away?]. Great base-phrase (and the title of a recent movie that, if not brilliant, is proving itself to be quite popular…). I’d forgotten that a league is equal to 3.0 statute miles (4.8 kilometers). And it took a visit to Wiki to tell me that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea does not refer to an ocean depth of some 60,000 miles, but to the distance traveled in Captain Nemo’s submarine, Nautilus.
  • 28A. PARKING METER [Unit of measure in a garage?]. Roughly 39.37 inches… Did you know the first parking meters were used in Oklahoma City? Starting in 1935? News to me. Here’s a little backgrounder.
  • 47A. SCOTLAND YARD [36 inches in Aberdeen?]. Concise. Nice.
  • 63A. HAS THE UPPER HAND [Measures a horse from its head?]. This particular clue/fill combo confuses me. How about you? Yes, it’s a terrific base phrase, and yes, a horse is measured in hands (which are equivalent to 4 inches). But…is this upper hand as opposed to lower hand? Maybe I’m being too literal here, but because a horse is measured from its withers to its hooves, “measuring…from its head” doesn’t happen–and seems a long way to go to make it (try to) work for the fill.

“AHA!” (with the dramatic clue ["So that's your game!"]) and EDEN (the more direct [Ideal place]) have appeared in the last two days, but GRANDEUR [Magnificence] and GLOWERED [Looked angrily (at)] haven’t and they are beauties. Ditto the almost onomatopoetic SLOSHES [Splashes (around)].

While I don’t like being caught in one–let alone two–Tyler has given us an [Obscuring cloud] pair, for SMOG and HAZE (cough! cough!). He’s also done some product placement for Steve Jobs, plugging (and crossing in the grid) both a [Certain Apple product], the IMAC, with [Certain Apple products], those iPod NANOs. Can’t be too long until we see iPad, now can it?

I like the casual, conversational, time-oriented IN A FEW [Shortly, slangily] and “NO RUSH” ["Whenever you can do it is fine"]. I confess I was surprised to see “AMEN” for ["I know that's right"]. Again, feels like a longish way to go, but, yeah–it works.

[NFL linebacker Junior] SEAU is someone I know only through the crosswords. His is a name I (try to) store with Major League ballplayer Ron Cey… They both show up, and you have it on my, um, say-so…


Nancy Salomon’s Los Angeles Times puzzle – PuzzleGirl’s review

grid lat 4-15-10

Good morning, everyone. PuzzleGirl here with your Tax Day LA Times puzzle. Theme answers all end with a word associated with tax documents and the reveal reminds us of what we should already have done with those documents.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Doing what’s just not done (IN BAD FORM).
  • 29A: You can’t go back from it (POINT OF NO RETURN).
  • 49A: Early (AHEAD OF SCHEDULE).
  • 65A: Subbing, and taxpayer’s responsibility vis-à-vis the ends of 17-, 29- and 49-Across (FILLING IN).

This puzzle really flowed for me, which I think makes it a little easier than I like my Thursday to be, but man I get tired of hearing myself say that about the LAT puzzle. I know what a [41D: Thug] is, but I’m not sure what PLUG UGLY has to do with it. It doesn’t even sound like the right part of speech to me. And is it possible that I’ve actually never heard of the [69A: Former VOA overseer] USIA? Or is it simply one of those things that’s not in my brain any more because it’s too crowded? (That’s how I prefer to think of it rather than, you know, I’m getting old.) (BTW, USIA is the United States Information Agency, which used to oversee the Voice of America (which I have heard of).)

But now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I will say that I love the clue for HI MOM [9A: Greeting often requiring lip-reading]. Also FOR FUN and DID NOT are fresh (in more ways than one) and unexpected grid entries [52D: On a lark / 54D: Terse childish denial]. There was a bit of crosswordese here and there, but it felt more helpful than overwhelming to me today for some reason. Good stuff.


Ben Tausig’s “The Inevitable Conclusion” – Jeffrey’s review

Tausig Apr 15 10OMG, it’s another puzzle about TAX. Since I’m the Tax Man, this was a slam dunk, except for a taxing corner. Time for a lesson in Canadian taxes. [Where did everybody go?]

Theme answers:

67A. [Word that may follow either word in 17-, 20-, 37-, 53-, and 58-Across] – TAX

17A. [Retailer's holiday season fear] – FLAT SALES. A flat tax is usually considered regressive, as it doesn’t take into account increased ability to pay as income rises. Alberta has a flat 10% personal income tax rate. Effective July 1, 2010, British Columbia and Ontario are converting their provincial sales taxes into a combined tax with the Canadian federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) , into a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Combined rate will be 12% in BC, 13% in Ontario.
20A. [Not just a fruit basket or something] – PERSONAL GIFT. Personal income tax is the usual phrase. A gift tax can be used to prevent reducing your personal tax rate by giving money to a spouse. These are also called attribution rules.
37A. [Label on prison clothing, perhaps] – STATE PROPERTY. No state taxes here, but plenty of provincial taxes. Property taxes are usually based on the market value of real property, multiplied by a mill rate.
53A. [Punishment used most often, worldwide, by China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S.] – DEATH PENALTY. You are deemed to sell all your property on death, which can create an effective death tax on the deemed capital gain. A penalty tax is paid when you high-stick your opponent. (Just checking if you are still reading. Checking, get it?)
58A. [Terrible secret, perhaps] – HIDDEN SIN. Provincial sales taxes can be hidden in many items, including tobacco and liquor. Tobacco and liquor taxes are sin taxes.
1A. [WTF go-with] – OMG. Oh My God,What the f— is he talking about?
11D. [Thing pushed during a crisis, so to speak] – PANIC BUTTON. It is April 15, Americans. Have you filed your return yet?
4A. [Section two] – PART B. Many tax forms have a PART B.

Other stuff:
14A. [Wilmer Valderrama character] – FEZ/3D. [Wu-Tang member obsessed with chess] – GZA . The little upper left corner killed me, in particular this craZy crossing.
16A. [Singer Ross] – DIANA
19A. [Ki-moon's predecessor] – ANNAN. Think United Nations.
26A. [Form for movers, at the post office] – COA. Change of address. Is this a common US term?
28A. [Female WWII gp.] – WAAC. My mother was a WAAC. Paid for by your tax dollars.
40A. ["New Year's Rockin' Eve" heir apparent Seacrest] – RYAN. Insert lame Dunkleman joke here.
41A. [Great jazz pianist of the mid-20th century] – ART TATUM. As Lucy Van Pelt would say, if he’s so great how come he never had his own bubble gum card?
2D. [Country musician Tillis] – MEL
13D. [Harvard student, e.g.] – CANTAB. WTF? I wish I knew a Harvard professor to explain this one. Oh, wait!
joon: CANTAB = informal version of “cantabridgian,” the demonym used for cambridge (both massachusetts and england).
Thanks, joon. Now what is a demonym?
24D. [French prophet whose predictions are often shoehorned into describing modern events] – NOSTRADAMUS. He knew I was going to blog about this.
30D. [Women's tennis great Black] – CARA. Not great enough for me to know her.
32D. [___ Inn] – DAYS. When Hampton just won’t fit.
39D. [Nomad's tent] – YURT. I love that word. Yurt!
42D. ["Simpsons" server] – MOE
43D. [Anarchy] – BEDLAM. Look out for the Yurts!
60D. [Guitarist James of the supergroup Tinted Windows] – IHA. 64 Across backwards would have been a more believable clue.

Yurt!

Peter Gordon’s “Themeless 12″ Fireball Puzzle – Jeffrey’s review

Fireball Apr 15 10

Ok, my first Fireball review. This may have been my fastest Fireball solve. It features an impression triple stack at the top and bottom of the grid.

Triple Stackers:

Upper slice:
1A. [Hedonism topic] – PLEASURE PARADOX. The paradox of hedonism, also called the pleasure paradox, is the idea in the study of ethics which points out that pleasure and happiness are strange phenomena that do not obey normal principles. First explicitly noted by the philosopher Henry Sigwick in The Methods of Ethics, the paradox of hedonism points out that pleasure cannot be acquired directly, it can only be acquired indirectly. (Wikipedia). There are other links, but I’m not touching any of those.
16A. [Big band standard composed by Frankie Carle] – SUNRISE SERENADE
17A. [College knowledge] – ARTS AND SCIENCES

Lower slice:
60A. [Rarely] – ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
64A. [Setting for the Travers Stakes] – SARATOGA SPRINGS
65A. [Boom follower, maybe] – STARTLE RESPONSE. I had a STARTLE RESPONSE realizing this is alleged to be a proper phrase.

Other stuff:
23A. [Woe, in Yiddish] – VEY. Only seen without Oy ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
24A. [Herb related to oregano] – HYSSOP. Are they cousins?
27A. [Robert's role in "The Natural"] – ROY
35A. [Post production] – GRAPENUTS. Tricky cereal clues!
38A. [Language that gave us the word "kumquat"] – CHINESE. I love to say kumquat. Have a kumquat in your yurt.
40A. [1983 comedy with the tagline "The last word about the first time!"] – LOSIN’ IT. An early Tom Cruise film.
41A. [Creator of Captain Marko Ramius] – TOM CLANCY. From the “Hunt for Red October”.
12D. [___ horribilis] – ANNUS. A year so bad it needs a Latin description
15D. [One side in a football chalk talk] – X’ES. Not my favourite.
25D. [Omphalos type] – OUTIE. Impress all your friends with your navel knowledge.
32D. [In "Othello," it ends with the couplet "Good night, good night: heaven me such uses send, / Not to pick bad from bad, but by bad mend!"] – ACT IV. Brush up your Shakespeare
34D. [Representations] – SIMULACRA. Or baby food for an Egyptian sun god.
49D. ["I Can't Make You Love Me" singer] – RAITT
57D. [Chuck-a-luck game part] – CAGE. I always learn new stuff from Peter.
61D. [D.C. ballplayer] – NAT. Worst clue ever.
63D. ["Idol ___" (Mozart aria)] – MIO. Next week, opera night on American Idol!

I leave with one final thought:
Kumquat yurt.

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16 Responses to Thursday, 4/15/10

  1. pezibc says:

    Also didn’t care for NEWT clue.

    Had UNIONIST briefly.

    STEPONIT instead of RIGHTNOW slowed me down. After putting in an 8 letter answer, I require convincing to give it up.

    Lost of nice words here. Liked the block of SWOOSH, TIPTOE, SCRIBE

  2. LARRY says:

    Amy – Of course, you’re right about the full title of the film “Precious”; but just because the one-named author, Sapphire, was able to exact the expanded title as a plug for her book doesn’t mean that everyone goes along with it. I have heard NOBODY refer to the full title with the exception of on-screen critics.

  3. john farmer says:

    I’d guess Amy’s comment about “Precious” was tongue-in-cheek…or should we expect STERNE to be clued as ["The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" author], and DARWIN as ["On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" writer].

    If you want to be a pedant about it, the error in the clue is calling OPRAH a “co-producer.” She was an “executive producer.” No, they’re not the same thing. Mistaking an executive producer for a producer or co-producer would be a serious offense in Hollywood, but it probably doesn’t matter much in the rest of the world.

  4. john farmer says:

    …meant to say, nice puzzle, guys. Boston’s one of those places where people talk funny but they probably think everybody else does (…says the guy from Lawn Guyland). They don’t just drop R’s there. They reuse ‘em. Ask Linder what she thinks about Nevader or Alasker.

  5. Gareth says:

    LOL. Puzzle had me so fooled. With my accent they’re all homophonic, so I was desperately trying to find something else they have in common. Actually couldn’t work out 35A even with it down! as Also couldn’t work ?AYNEMANNER into anything meaningful, that was the last square to go running through the alphabet til WAR jogged my memory of the headline. Do actually like the theme, but especially its irony!

    Was also in the dark about the particular OTIS and JONES, plus Admiral Halsey.

    Anyone else try to figure out how to jam “Cure song” into 16A? Knew it wasn’t but darn it, was hoping…

  6. Evad says:

    I’m sure Brendan or Joon will likely chime in later, but their original clue for Jones (as I found out while scoring BCPT puzzles with Brendan on Sunday) referred to the actress January from “Mad Men.” Not sure if Will thought that was too obscure or easy for a Thursday puzzle.

  7. Howard B says:

    Evad: Maybe too polarizing a clue. An absolute gimme for some, and ungettable/not inferable for others. I would have been in the ‘?’ camp, befitting of your avatar :). I haven’t seen ‘Mad Men’. Not as much of a series watcher as I once was.
    Although JANUARY JONES has been used in puzzles before, pretty sure, so maybe not so bad.

  8. Spencer says:

    Most of us would be delighted with a sub-5 minute Thursday time! :-)

  9. Peter says:

    Thought the NYT was a lot of fun in all facets – clever theme answers, clean and exciting fill, and some really tricky cluing in several places.

    However….

    TAIGA WOODS, MYNA(H)LEAGUE, and this theme were used in a 2002 Richard Silvestri Sunday NYT. Granted, I had never solved that puzzle, but I tend to find it a little offputting when theme answers get used a second time.

    Were the constructors aware of this? Is it kosher for theme answers to repeat even if they’re arrived at independently?

  10. Evad says:

    Thanks for the Fireball writeup, Jeffrey. I suspect 1-Across was a seed entry paid for by a subscriber. I had trouble with the LURIE/TIE crossing–I figured TRE was a likely “Baccarat bet,” sounding foreign as it does. I also punted on the DALY/EDY/LOSIN’ IT area, having HOPE for “Shot in the arm,” instead of the more literal HYPO.

    Enjoyed the long 15s, SARATOGA SPRINGS seems to show up a lot in these kind of grids. Not familiar with STARTLE RESPONSE either–sounds a bit forced to my ear.

  11. ArtLvr says:

    Aside from trying Enthrall at 2D in the NYT, where TRANSFIX fixed things, I had a fast-for-me time too… Loved the theme phrases, especially TAIGA WOODS, and didn’t get hung up on BEQ’s car clues this time (JETTA, ECONO) — while yesterday’s were murder!

  12. Ellen says:

    Thanks for the birthday shout-out!

  13. John Haber says:

    BEQ puzzles for Joon tend to be two days earlier in the week in level than their placement and three days harder for me, so it’s only natural they’d team up. Amos, OTIS, and JENI aside, this wasn’t nearly as awful as it could have been (although I’d have told you “sobe” is a noodle rather than a drink). Let’s just say that I hated the puzzle but know I’m not the center of the universe and think it’s pretty decent anyhow.

  14. Quentinc says:

    On the FB, why is 3D [Wide key] ENTER?

  15. Evad says:

    @Q, Think of a computer keyboard.

  16. Amy Reynaldo says:

    My kid punk’d me with a kumquat the other day. Told me it was sweeter in the middle and handed it over so I could have a bite. Sour! Too sour for a yurt.

Comments are closed.