Sunday, 4/25/10

LAT 8:54
NYT 8:05
Reagle untimed
BG untimed, and actually unsolved
WaPo Puzzler 7:33 (.puz file here—newish themeless puzzle)
CS 3:20

Elizabeth Gorski’s New York Times crossword, “Monumental Achievement”

Region capture 1Here’s another in the long series of Gorski 21×21 puzzles with a visual aspect. This time, the “monumental achievement” is the Great Pyramids of Egypt, only without specific reference thereto. PYRAMID is spelled out in the circled letters, and connecting the dots from P to D traces a view of two planes of a pyramid. The theme entries have the word “pyramid” left out of their clues, but all pertain to non-Egyptian pyramids:

  • 23A. [ ] is a pyramid CHEERLEADING FORMATION.
  • 37A. The mystery [ ] is also an IMAGE ON A DOLLAR BILL.
  • 55A. [ ] is also a YOGA POSE. Is that the one where your hands are on the floor and your knees rest on your elbows?
  • 66A. In the middle is THE LOUVRE, a Paris attraction that features a [ ].
  • 78A. I was waiting for GAME SHOW, but instead got a CARD GAME called [ ]. I haven’t heard of it.
  • 89A. This references 66A without mentioning it. [ ] that was the creation of an architect born 4/26/1917 is GLASS DESIGN BY I.M. PEI. Aha! That’s why Egypt’s famed pyramids are left out. The focus is on birthday-boy Pei and his glass pyramid in Paris.
  • 109A. We close out the theme with geometry. [ ] is also a THREE-DIMENSIONAL SHAPE.

I saw some cute clues I appreciated while solving, but I don’t recall where they were. I am not at all in the mood to blog right now. Long day of family birthday party action! Am ready for nap. No disrespect intended for Liz’s puzzle, but my [Sitting areas, slangily?] (my GLUTES) are calling out for heavy-duty sofa lounging now.

Discussion topic: What’s your favorite three-dimensional solid?

Mike Shenk’s Washington Post “Post Puzzler No. 3″

Region capture 2Still not in the mood for blogging, but there’s another birthday party tomorrow so I can’t save all these puzzles for Sunday morning.

I had an incorrect square and made the obvious fix when Across Lite highlighted the square. For 33A: [Preproduction job], I had COSTING, figuring that COSTING or pricing the materials was part of manufacturing. But it’s the CASTING that’s done before TV or movie production begins. 31D: [Arizona governor Brewer] has been in the news, but I’d missed mentions of her name and guessed it was JON rather than JAN.

Favorite and/or toughest clues:

  • 57A. [Escapee in a 1997 Spielberg sequel] isn’t a person but a T. REX. I had TRE* and ran through the alphabet all the way to X.
  • 16A. [Summer hit] is the Donna Summer hit “ON THE RADIO.”
  • 25A. [URL feature] is the SLASH, as seen twice in http://www.crosswordfiend.com.
  • 37A. Ah, digital privilege. [Count on both hands?] is TEN fingers—but that doesn’t hold true if you’re born with polydactyly or missing some fingers.
  • 38A. [Genial nature] is BONHOMIE. I’m listing this one because it’s such a lovely word.
  • 47A. ["Up, get you out of this place" speaker] is LOT. From the Bible? Quote isn’t familiar to me.
  • 50A. [It may come to light] clues a MOTH. It’s lepidoptera day! PAPILLON, the French word for “butterfly,” is the [Nickname of prison escapee Henri Charriere] (2D).
  • 7D. [Perfect game dozen] are STRIKES in bowling. Tomorrow’s party is at a bowling alley, but I can guarantee you none of the kids will bowl 12 strikes in a game, not even with the bumpers keeping their balls out of the gutter.
  • 35D. [Merit inclusion?] is the NICOTINE in Merit brand cigarettes. It’s smokes day! The [Joe Cool trademark] is SHADES. Oh, wait. Joe Cool is Snoopy’s alter ego, right? Different from Joe Camel? My bad.
  • 36D. [Pay for poor performance, in a way] is about payback, not paychecks: GET THE AX.
  • 38D. I didn’t know BOTTEGA means [Master artist's workshop]. So Bottega Veneta is making claims there.
  • 46D. IRENE is the [1919 musical featuring the song "Alice Blue Gown"]. This may be slightly familiar to me from past crosswords. It might also be completely unfamiliar.

Lots of trivia clues in this puzzle (2D, 24D, 40D, 46D, for example]. I do like trivia clues in my crossword.
Updated Sunday morning:

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “By Design”

Region capture 3You know how “2×4″ is pronounced “two-by-four”? In this puzzle, each X stands in for the word BY in one direction, but is an X in the crossing. For example, 24A: [Smart remark?] is “MISSED IT X THAT MUCH, and 123A: [One way to miss] is X A MILE. I dunno, this theme didn’t excite me.

I solved the puzzle last night on paper and circled a few clues for discussion:

  • 4A. [Early producer of penicillin] is the drug company SQUIBB, which eventually became part of Bristol Myers Squibb, if I recall correctly. Needed every crossing for this one.
  • 52A. [Chef's spice] clues SAGE. I use “herb” rather than “spice” for the seasonings that are leaf-based, like sage.
  • 80A. [Blooey opener] looks so weird. It’s KER, as in “kerblooey.” Also on deck for KER clueing: “kerplunk.” Though really, one prefers not to have KER in the grid at all.
  • 106A. [Land-or-sea vehicle] clues AQUACAR. Does such a thing exist? Where  might I buy one?
  • 110A. Drew a blank on [Prost of Formula One racing]. Husband said, “Alain. A-L-A-I-N.” Thanks, hon!
  • 4D. [Browne of belt fame] is SAM. Who is Sam Browne? Karate belt? Stylist belts to hold up pants? Heavyweight Champion of the World belt? Onward to Wikipedia! “Sam Browne belt”  is the name for that diagonal belt across the torso worn in certain uniforms.  Never heard of the term before.
  • 37D. [It might start "1-800": abbr.] clues the woeful abbreviation PH. NO.
  • 53A. As far as partials go, you can’t get better than this. ["Get ___!" (comment to neckers)], A ROOM. Made me laugh.
  • 68D. Really? MANTAN? That seems…obscure. [Actor Moreland of Charlie Chan films].

Mark Bickham’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “Missing”

Region capture 4It took me far too long to figure out what the theme is: There’s an ING missing from each phrase, changing the meaning. After understanding the theme, I remained underwhelmed by it, as the theme entries were short on humor. If you’re going to concoct phrases, they or their clues should include plenty of cleverness. I was also a bit put off by what felt like a lot of partials.

Still, 13 theme entries is a lot, and most of them intersect two other theme entries. I also loved seeing SUCCUBI (8D: [She-demons]) and KALAHARI (118A: [Bostwana desert]) in the grid.

Here’s the theme:

  • 23A: [Admiral's tryst?] (FLEET[ing] ROMANCE).
  • 37A: [Water cooler gossip?] (BREAK[ing] NEWS).
  • 40A: [Knockoff of an Intel product?] (BARGAIN[ing] CHIP).
  • 68A: [Site of a surprise?] (START[ing] POSITION).
  • 99A: [Issue for the media?] (PRESS[ing] MATTER).
  • 101A: [Where insects learn to use their wings?] (FLY[ing] SCHOOL).
  • 121A: [Museum featuring bamboo art?] (SHOOT[ing] GALLERY).
  • 3D: [Golf tournament commentary?] (OPEN[ing] REMARKS).
  • 14D: [Voice teacher?] (PITCH[ing] COACH).
  • 28D: [Creek footage?] (STREAM[ing] VIDEO).
  • 52D: [Units for timing a track event?] (MEET[ing] MINUTES).
  • 72D: [First-quarter shipments?] (MARCH[ing] ORDERS).
  • 75D: [Angry lineman?] (CROSS[ing] GUARD).

Doug Peterson’s themeless CrosSynergy crossword, “Sunday Challenge,” or as I like to call it, “Sunday Unchallenge”

Region capture 5When the weekday CrosSynergy/Washington Post/Houston Chronicle puzzles hit at Tuesday/Wednesday NYT difficulty but do not have the word “challenge” in their titles, is it too much to ask that the “Sunday Challenge” pose more of a challenge? The answer appears to be yes. C’mon, truth in advertising! The Newsday “Saturday Stumper” puzzles have indeed been tough of late, so

The grid is good, filled with fresh and lively words, phrases, and names. It’s just that the clues are designed to help the solvers get the answers, not make them work hard to get the answers.

I wish 1A had been FACEPALM instead of DATE PALM ([Middle Eastern tree]). Do you know the term facepalm? It’s akin to headdesk. Not sure why I haven’t seen jawfloor, but I do like this breed of online written shorthand for visuals.

In brief:

  • 36a. ["Bride & Prejudice"] actress Aishwarya ___] RAI has been called, I learned from Roger Ebert, the world’s most beautiful woman.
  • 37a. ["Please go on!"] clues “VERY INTERESTING.” This does not have enough Rs to be clued as the Arte Johnson line from Laugh-In.
  • 47a. [Felon interested in rock collections] is a JEWEL THIEF.
  • 62a. [Four-time gold medalist in diving] is the awesome Greg LOUGANIS.
  • 12d. [Bike around the block, say] is GO FOR A RIDE.
  • 28d. My favorite answer today is HERKY-JERKY, or [Moving in fits and starts].
  • 44d. [They spread dirt] means gossipers, or YENTAS. Whether YENTAS are helpful in doing garden/farm work, I cannot say.
  • 50d. [Major account] clues a SAGA. A big account of a story, not a major bank account or advertising account.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s 6-week-old Boston Globe crossword, “Change in the Weather”

Region capture 6I skipped solving this puzzle and had Black Ink fill in the grid so I could see the theme. “Change in the weather” is interpreted as “change one letter in a weather forecast to change the meaning.” A few of the altered phrases are clued as if they still have something to do with weather, but others are not. I circled the changed letters and no, I don’t think they spell out anything. BVD KICKERS? Er, no.

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22 Responses to Sunday, 4/25/10

  1. Jeffrey says:

    When I was a kid the bakery had a pastry called a triangle. Very gooey and yummy. It would fall apart as you went through it. So did this puzzle. Very sloggy.

  2. ePeterso2 says:

    The d20. (Least favorite? The d10.)

  3. Gareth says:

    A little less crazy a visual aspect than some Gorski’s but still a fabulous puzzle, and a nice twist on the “definitions for X” theme.

    All I’ve got to add, is that I always looked at those people who got excited about partials like they were completely bats, but… the clue for AMTO! Never knew contemporary worship songs were fair game!! Rock ‘n’ Roll!!!

    Favourite 3D solid: Cones… they hold ice-cream.

  4. TammyB says:

    I enjoyed the Reagle this week because I always like having a second way to figure things out. As soon as I went to fill in “Murder By the book” (huge Columbo fan!) and saw it wouldn’t fit, I knew I was onto something. I’m much better at deducing than I am at remembering words like “roc.” Must access a different part of my aging brain.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    I liked the LAT “Miss ING!”, though I’d have been better off if I’d noticed the title… I was a bit slow but Bamboo SHOOT(ing) GALLERY finally penetrated. Very clever…

    The PI by Merl was good too, in principle, but gave me a headache in that I started to put in the rebus [BY] in each square where it fit the phrase… I forgot how to do a circle in a square in AcrossLite, which would have been helpful.

  6. pezibc says:

    Over on the Rex blog some hard comments to be found. At first I did not at all like the meta/circles aspect of the theme. I did guess and crack the theme early. With PYRAMID confirmed I was able to do a lot of damage. That helped considerably because some of the clueing was a bit out there for my tastes. I just didn’t appreciate the pyramid (at all) until seeing the line drawing over at Wordplay. Wow! I drew the lines in my head, and not being any good at all at spatial visualization just didn’t get it all. After actually following the instructions and putting in the lines – wow.

  7. Zulema says:

    Pezibc is right about some of the clues, not the fills; some clues were a little off, I thought, just to mislead, because not really cute. I don’t understand DIMAG for “Joltin’ Joe,” which I associate with strong caffeine involvement. I am probably way behind the times.

  8. Zulema says:

    Pebzic,

    That came out wrong. I meant to say I agreed about the clues being far out there, but the fills were fine as far as I was concerned, not that you said anything about them. Thought I should clarify.

  9. Evad says:

    Hi Zulema, I’m thinking the clue for Joltin’ Joe was a signal to abbreviate the Yankee Clipper’s last name DIMAGGIO. Not sure I’ve heard him called that, tho.

  10. Meem says:

    The reference is, indeed to Joe Dimaggio. The Joltin’ Joe comes from a song titled “Mrs. Robinson” by Paul Simon (of Simon and Garfunkel) that was heard in the 1967 movie “The Graduate” and later became a #1 chart topper.
    The relevant verse is:
    Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
    Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
    What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
    Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away.”

    And he was often referred to as Dimag in the sporting press.

  11. Joan macon says:

    Here I am, like the White Queen, running as fast as I can to stay in the same place. Someone gave me the blog to find the current LA Times puzzle that’s in the paper (Merl Reagle, “Blueprint for Danger” today) but it doesn’t work for me. Does anyone know where I can find one? Surely I’m not the only person still doing crosswords by pen and paper. Thanks so much for any help!

    To change the subject,upon reading the above note from Meem I would like to say that in the summer of 1951 I went in the subway with my family to Yankee Stadium and saw Joe Dimaggio hit a home run. It was one of the highlights of my life up to then. Now there was a hero!

  12. Stan says:

    The regular dodecahedron is hard to beat.

  13. Meem says:

    Have never successfully put ice cream in a dodecahedron, so must agree with Gareth on cone.

  14. Zulema says:

    Dave,

    Thanks. Not in a million years would I have deduced Di Maggio from Dimag. I have never heard him called that and I didn’t read sports pages then. I do now. But I was sure the clue referred to coffee.

  15. Jeffrey says:

    Joe DiMaggio was a spokesman for Mr Coffee, so you weren’t as far out as you thought. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSuujTUp2QU

  16. Meem says:

    Had forgotten that entirely! Also a winner off the field!

  17. NinaUWS says:

    I came here to find out what that Joltin’ Joe was all about, and I see a tempest in a coffee pot. I knew Dimaggio was Joltin’ Joe, but I also did not see that as a signal to abbreviate. At least I was not alone.

  18. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Boy, I know DIMAG only from crosswords! How common was it in sports-fan parlance during DiMaggio’s playing days?

    I wouldn’t say it’s an abbreviation signaled by Joltin’. I’d say Joltin’ Joe and DiMag are both nicknames.

  19. Tuning Spork says:

    The nickname “Joltin’ Joe” precedes Simon and Garfunkel by about 25 years. Here’s the great Les Brown Orchestra hit of 1941 called “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio”, with lead vocal by Betty Bonney.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRvyFvoDKiA

  20. Meem says:

    Whew! Glad to know somebody is older than I am. Because I actually do know Les Brown and his Band of renown!! Had parents who were radio people.

  21. Richard Nelson says:

    Joan Macon: The puzzle in the LA Times can often be found at http://latcrossword.blogspot.com/.

  22. John Haber says:

    I’ll call it a typical Gorski: visual theme, quick fill, pleasant enough. I filled too fast to think long about the theme, and I didn’t even bother with the drawing until I saw that Amy didn’t post one to save me the obvious step! But fine. I was wondering too why no Egyptians, so thanks for the reminder that it was celebrating I. M. Pei’s birthday.

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