Monday, 5/3/10

BEQ 4:48
NYT 3:06
LAT 3:01
CS tba
5/2 NYT diagramless untimed

Susan Gelfand’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 9Things that can be “tied” are the subject of today’s theme:

  • 17A. [A-team] is the FIRST STRING. You can tie a string around something.
  • 26A. A MUSICAL SCORE is a [Composer's work for a film]. In a game, the score can be tied.
  • 47A. [Portuguese, for Brazilians, e.g.] is their MOTHER TONGUE. “Tongue-tied” is a familiar term.
  • 61A. FIT TO BE TIED means [Really steamed…or what the ends of 17-, 26- and 47-Across are?]. The passive construction here is what holds the theme together—you wouldn’t say “I’ll tie my tongue,” but “my tongue was tied” is completely natural-sounding language.

Highlights:

  • 22A. GNARLY means difficult or challenging (it’s this sense I have in mind when I call a crossword “gnarly”), twisted and gnarled, and unattractive and unpleasant. It was [Excellent, in slang] in the ’80s Valley Girl era, I think. Does anyone still use GNARLY to mean “excellent”? I don’t care for the clue but I do like the answer. And right below it is POODLES/[Curly-haired dogs]. Next time I need a team name, I’ll go with Gnarly Poodles.
  • 37A. LORISES are small, [Slow-moving primates] with big, round eyes. Wikipedia tells me this fact: “Female lorises practice infant parking, leaving their young infants behind in nests. Before they do this they bathe their young with their allergenic saliva, which discourages most predators.” If only humans could do this! It would be super convenient.
  • 5D. [Like dragons and centaurs] clues SO AWESOME!! No, wait, that’s too long. The answer is MYTHICAL.
  • 9D. MONGOOSE intersects with LORISES in Small Mammal Zone. [Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, for one] is a pretty badass mongoose when it comes to fighting cobras.
  • 48D. [Barbie doll purchase] clues OUTFIT. Technically, the Barbie doll cannot make any purchases, as it has no assets.
  • 57D. [One who might receive roses at the end of a performance] is a DIVA. Did you know that some people who don’t know any better think that “prima donna” is spelled “pre-Madonna”? That’s got to be somewhere on the scale from humble to diva.

Lowlight:

68A. Give me a break! [Show just a little bit of leg, say] clues TEASE. Either it’s the 1800s or this puzzle is coming from theocratic Iran.
Updated Monday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Self Centered”—Janie’s review

All right. I know I sometimes make things up, but am I imagining it, or was there another CS puzzle within the last year with a similar gimmick, with the word EGO at the center of the theme fill? Whether or not, Martin’s execution of the theme is perfection. He’s got three strong theme-phrases, a grid with lovely open corners and a great cross-section of non-theme fill. Taking it from the top:

  • 19A. TWELVE GOOD MEN [Ralph Ince movie of 1936]. Never heard of it, but it didn’t matter, as the title was eminently gettable from the crosses. Ince was the director of the movie, a British crime film populated with characters with names like “Lady Thora’ and “Hopwood,” “Fortheringay” and “Inspector Pine.” Veddy British all, from the sound of ‘em. (No [Detective Charlie] CHAN in this one…)
  • 36A. STRANGE GOINGS ON [Things that go bump in the night,e.g.]. Great fill and clue.
  • 51A. KISS ME GOODBYE [Sally Field movie of 1982]. Another one I wasn’t familiar with. Sounds like a bit of a clunker, I fear, but the title is just fine in the grid.

And speaking of the grid, it bears looking at, too. I love those triple-stacked sevens in the NE and SW and the stacked six + seven-pair in the SW and SE. Martin’s filled them beautifully, with such goodies as ENTENTE [International understanding], CAPE COD [New England resort area], the humorously-clued PULSARS [Flashers in space], ON A ROPE [Tethered], the punnily-clued FIREMEN [They often go to blazes], and the onomatopoetic RAT-A-TAT [Knocking noise].

While GRAF SPEE [Scuttled WWII ship] and BESOMS [Twiggy brooms] felt like a bit of a throwback to a different crossword puzzle era, there was nothing retro about historic yet ultra-modern (in some ways) ABU DHABI, modestly clued as [Gulf emirate] and STREET CRED [Reputation among home boys]. And while it may not have a long shelf-life as a clue, I liked seeing ["Balloon Boy," for one] for HOAX.

On the question of timeliness, some clues and fill related by concepts of “time” include [Annually] for A YEAR, [No longer] for ONCE and [Prior] for EARLIER. Higher education ties together UNIV [Cambridge or Oxford, briefly] and, on this side of the pond, ‘BAMA [Ole Miss rival].

Oh–I nearly to mention the cagily clued FOOD [It may be fast] and the [Fruity quaff] you may wish to wash it down with: ORANGEADE!

Nancy Salomon’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 10Three theme entries take up space in four places, as one is extra long. They’re all things someone might say as a [Warm welcome for an old friend], but I’ve only heard two of the three:

  • 17a, 59a. The first phrase is the long two-parter. [With 59-Across, warm welcome for an old friend] clues “LOOK WHO THE / WIND BLEW IN.” “Look who the cat dragged in” is much more familiar to me, as is “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” which doesn’t split up into workable pieces for a 15×15 puzzle unless you go with a three-way 8/9/8 split.
  • 27a. [Warm welcome for an old friend] is “HELLO, STRANGER.”
  • 43a. [Warm welcome for an old friend] is “LONG TIME, NO SEE.”

The fill had an ’80s-’90s crosswords vibe, with [Puppeteer Bil] BAIRD atop ["Golden Boy" dramatist Clifford] ODETS; the SEGO [Lily with bell-shaped flowers]; KAYOS, or [Levels in the ring]; LUNT, [Fontanne's stage partner]; [Veronica of "Hill Street Blues"] HAMEL. Not to mention [Mr. T's TV gang], The A-TEAM—there’s a movie remake in the works that will give A-TEAM new currency.

I like the longer Down answers, such as the hyphenated EYE-POPPING MUST-READ PUT-DOWNS and a GARAGE SALE.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Hold Everything”

Region capture 11This one’s a Time Out New York rerun with an EDDIE IZZARD quote: “I like my coffee / like I like my/ women: / In a plastic cup.” Izzard is a gem. I like to say that I like my chocolate like I like my men: Dark and a little bitter.

Brendan Quigley’s second Sunday puzzle in the New York Times, “Diagramless”

I solved this one mostly in the car on Saturday, and finished up at home on Sunday when I remembered the puzzle wasn’t done yet. When the puzzle was all filled in, I didn’t have a clue what the theme was—because if you know me, you know that Broadway musicals are outside my wheelhouse. The eight theme entries begin with the one-word titles of well-known Broadway shows: GREASE GUN, CHICAGO HOPE, NINE STORIES, GYPSY MOTH, TOMMY GIRL, WICKED GAME, RENT STRIKE, and HAIR METAL. Terrific batch of theme entries there.

When I was working my way down through the grid, at one point I had -GEISTS with 6 spaces to the left of it and assumed POLTERGEISTS would have to go there. Alas, it needed only an A, for AGEISTS. Now I’m wondering if anyone reads the word POLTERGEIST and wonders what sort of bias poltergeism is. Who is against the polterges?

I didn’t like the clue for SHRUNK. [Like some clothes that came out of a too-hot dryer] really wants to be SHRUNKEN. SHRUNK works great as a past participle, but less so as an adjective.

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10 Responses to Monday, 5/3/10

  1. Alex says:

    Thanks to Elissa Grossman’s tireless campaigning and Will Shortz’s graciousness, this is “California Constructors Week” at the NYT. The timer at the tourney was screwed up for this particular puzzle, but we think Jordan Chodorow did it in under two minutes, which is obscene.

  2. joon says:

    i dunno if i’d call it obscene, but it’s definitely impressive. yikes! we need to see jordan at the next ACPT, but i’m glad i snuck in and stole a ROY without having to compete against him.

  3. pezibc says:

    The theme doesn’t work at all for me, and I liked the puzzle just fine. If I have to buy into the frayed thread holding this theme together, then not so much.

    Oh – Barbie’s got assets. Does she pay for any of her outfits?

    I liked TEASE. Whether short-shorts or full length dress, I’m interested in the tantalizing couple of inches beyond what is shown.

    Nice to see RAVEL; Bolero in the background now. Andre Rieu. Aaah. Thank you. Next on the playlist; Miroirs.

  4. seahedges says:

    Square 61 crosses the FIT of OUTFIT with the FIT of FIT TO BE TIED. I’d have thought that crossing would have given Will a fit.

    -sea

  5. David H says:

    can someone please explain the theme of the CS puzzle to me? If you erase 66-A from the NYT, does the whole puzzle become unraveled?

    just asking

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    SEA! I was just talking about you here on the blog. In the syndicated Sunday LA Times puzzle, 20A was a 5-letter [Italian town NW of Venice].

  7. Jeffrey says:

    The un-Mondayish LORISES threw a lot of people at the LA Tournament.

  8. Martin says:

    Janie: you may be thinking of Gail’s CS puzzle that ran on March 18 of this year entitled “So Self-Centered”. It featured “ME ME” contained in the theme answers (although, not all in the exact centers of the theme answers).

    David H. : today’s CS puzzle has three theme answers that literally have “EGO” (“Self”) centered in the exact middle of the theme answers: “TWELV-EGO-ODMEN”/
    “STRANG-EGO-INGSON”/”KISSM-EGO-ODBYE”.

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

  9. Zeitgeist says:

    Down with zeitges and polterges too!

  10. David H says:

    Martin –
    thanks! I was looking right at it and didn’t see it. I got thrown by the “Kiss Me Goodbye” with the “Me” in the middle – then I saw the “Twelve Good MEn” and thought, “That can’t be right” …but never came out of that mindset.

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