Wednesday, 5/5/10

BEQ 7:26 and then I gave up on those last squares
Onion 4:28
NYT 4:23
LAT 4:14
CS untimed

Happy arithmetic day! 5 + 5 = 10. My parents got married on 8 x 8 = 64, and I always thought that was cool.

P.S. Caleb Madison constructs a puzzle for the Bard Bulletin, his school publication. You can solve it online here, or download the .puz file at the Crossword Fiend forum.

Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 18Who expects a rebus puzzle on a Wednesday? Not too many people. Maybe it threw me for a loop—I kept hitting various key combinations to try to enter multiple letters in the rebus squares, and all I managed to do was make the applet leaderboard disappear from the page. It was only after I was done with the puzzle that I remembered it was just a + sign (shift-equal). Maybe it was the anniversary wine that messed me up?

The {MY} rebus squares are in no particular place—the two longest Across answers, yes, but then in no apparent order elsewhere. Here are the rebused entries:

  • 1A, 69A. [With 69-Across, 1930s-'50s bandleader] is SAM{MY} / KAYE. Are you kidding me? Who is Sammy Kaye? I know Sammy Davis Jr. and Danny Kaye, but Sammy Kaye? No. My mom is here tonight, since she babysat during the anniversary dinner—and she doesn’t know Sammy Kaye either. At Be More Smarter, Brian was just asking if 1-Across entries deserve the pressure they get to be awesome. Yes, they do. And the SAM{MY}-I’ve-never-heard-of fails this test. At 4D, SAM{MY}’s rebus is shared by {MY}STIC, the [Old Connecticut whaling town]. That Mystic Pizza is not half bad.
  • 17A, 9D. [Japan, to the U.S., once] was a BITTER ENE{MY}. And an AR{MY} MOM is [One with yellow ribbons, perhaps].
  • 29A, 31D. RE{MY} [___ Martin (cognac brand)] offers a switch from Remy the culinary rat in Ratatouille. [Actor Mike] {MY}ERS has been refocusing his career of late, with a specialty in terrible movies.
  • 32A, 32D. {MY}RON was an [Ancient Greek sculptor of athletes]. Where, I ask you, is the ancient sculptor of the nerds of antiquity? Do you think Galen knew that [That you should feed a cold and starve a fever, and others] are {MY}THS?
  • 36A, 5D, 28D. Double rebus action: ["Golly!"] clues {MY}, OH {MY}. Crossing it are AGRONO{MY}, the [Science for farmers], and S{MY}RNA is the [Ancient city that lent its name to a fig]. You know who probably loved Smyrna figs? Sammy Kaye, that’s who. (Never heard of Smyrna figs, though the Asia Minor city and the Atlanta suburb are familiar enough.)
  • 48A. ["Baby Baby" singer, 1991] is A{MY} GRANT.
  • 49D. Crossing 48A is the capstone entry, {MY}SPACE, a [Popular social networking site and this puzzle's theme]. Get it? {MY} is in a space. It would be a cooler theme if it had run a couple years ago, before Facebook eclipsed MySpace.
  • 64A, 50D. “ALL BY {MY}SELF” is the [1976 Eric Carmen hit] that Meg Ryan Nicole Kidman’s self-aggrandizing character sang at her husband’s funeral in 1995′s To Die For. Mind you, she had arranged to have her husband killed. That movie was funny in a dark, dark way. The final {MY} is in TOM{MY}, [With 6-Down, 1994 Olympic gold medalist in downhill skiing].

That’s right: TOMMY MOE and SAMMY KAYE in the grid, with their first and last names split up and clued with cross-references. You know how some people complain about cross-referenced clues? This is why. Neither one really qualifies as a household name anymore, certainly not to take up that much space in the grid. Tommy the rock opera or Tommy Hilfiger, Moe of The Three Stooges or The Simpsons—all more broadly familiar.

I was also not crazy about [Former German president Johannes] RAU or [Pulitzer-winning author Robert ___ Butler]/OLEN. I know both names from crosswords only. They have plenty of company—there are at least 20 proper nouns in the grid, which is on the high side.

Highlights: THEATRICS, “On Top of OLD SMOKEY,” JOVIAL.

Weird plural of the day: 25A is MONISMS, or [Views that reality is a unitary whole]. How many MONISMS can you have? I will take three, please.
Updated Wednesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Tagging”—Janie’s review

Hmmm. Had a very mixed experience with this one. Did it SEND me [Excite, in slang]? No. I think that’s because I was only so-so in my response to the theme-fill. I found myself more enthusiastic with much of the non-theme fill. There’s some good stuff within and some cluing, too, that made me sit up; though there were those examples that made me wish Bruce had been less straight-ahead and a little more playful.

So–all four of the theme phrases are clued identically: [TAG]. And the guilty parties are:

  • 17A. OFT REPEATED LINE. While the line that gets repeated most often from Clint Eastwood’s Sudden Impact is “Go ahead. Make my day,” the studio’s version of the movie’s tagline is “Two killers are at large. One of them is Dirty Harry.”
  • 26A. PRICE STICKER. Kept thinking this was going to be some kind of TICKET, but what in the world is a PRICES TICKET?…
  • 48A. LICENSE PLATE.
  • 61A. KIDS’ CHASING GAME. “You’re ‘it’!” When it’s played at recess, the words “ARE SO!” [Possible playground retort] may also be heard.

Loved the appearance of (and Ks in) ASKANCE [Suspicious way to look] and SKEETER [Marsh pest, slangily] and KAYO [Ring term]. DEAD AIR [Radio silence], DREAMT [Fantasized], SLEIGHT [ ___ of hand (magic)] and BLESSED [Fortunate in life] also make for good fill. [Queen of mystery] is not AGATHA today, but ELLERY.

I wish VULTURE [Large bird of prey] had been clued in connection to its [Home with height?], the AERIE; and HAM [CB buff] as a sandwich meat, which woulda made a tasty companion to that [Marble __ ] RYE [(bread)]. But I’ll settle instead for that sequential meteorological pair: [Certain weather indicator] VANE and [El __ ] NIÑO [(weather factor)].

Because of the play on words, enjoyed [Court sneaks] for NIKES, and took particular pleasure in the [Bud's bud]/LOU combo, where “Bud” is Bud Abbott and Lou is Lou Costello. But because of the memories it evoked of the show in its heyday, my fave clue/fill combo would have to be [Type of "College Bowl" question], which is TOSS UP. If you’re entirely unfamiliar with the reference, or just need a refresher, do take a look at this Youtube clip. Proud to say that in 1969, my alma mater, Goucher College, became the first women’s college in the show’s history to take the championship.

Alan Olschwang’s Los Angeles Times crossword

I did this puzzle Tuesday night, too, and like the NYT crossword, it made me grumbly. To put things in perspective, I can rely on Tyler Hinman’s Twitter feed to tell me about puzzles I would like even less. Why, Sunday’s Universal crossword had [Punjabi policeman's club] = LATHI. “4/30 Universal: CORSLETS crossing CERE at the C. YLEM and EDDO are other winners in the fill.” So do keep in mind that when I complain about any of the puzzles I blog, even the very worst of them is patently better than many a Universal or USA Today crossword.

Region capture 17THEME: “Trash Compactor”—Four two-word phrases begin with words that double as verbs that mean “compact” or “squish.”

Oy, I did not care for this puzzle. The theme was OK (though one theme entry is the sort of thing you only know if you’re a baseball fan, and I tell you, millions of crossword fans are not also baseball fans), but there was a lot of fill that’s hostile to crossword newbies. I’ll get to that in a minute. What I liked about the theme is that it’s got two Qs, and there’s the added elegance of all four “squish” words being used in non-verb, non-squishing contexts.

Theme entries:

  • 18a. [Mule or burro] is a PACK ANIMAL.
  • 26a. [Where to see racquets] is a SQUASH COURT.
  • 48a. [Daring diamond device] is SQUEEZE BUNT. I had SQUEEZE PLAY, because what the heck is a SQUEEZE BUNT? It’s nothing I know about. And I know “device” alliterates, but is it the best word choice here?
  • 63a. [Impromptu jazz performance] is a JAM SESSION.
  • What I didn’t like:
  • The middle, where CORFU sits beside ORALE. One’s a [Greek vacation isle] and the other’s a [Papal vestment].
  • 37a. [Put on, as cargo] clues LADED. Who ever talks about lading?
  • 51a. ["Turandot" slave girl] clues LIU. Usually we get Charlie’s Angels actress Lucy Liu or Long Island University. I’ve been doing crosswords for decades and the only opera I’ve ever attended is Turandot, and I still needed all the crossings for this one.
  • 34d: [In other words, to Brutus] is ID EST, which we see as “i.e.” often enough. This is fine Latin, quite accessible. 59a: [And the following, in a bibliog.] clues ET SEQ. Et sick!
  • 66a. ["Rent-__": Reynolds/Minnelli film] clues the partial A COP. The movie was undistinguished and it has likely been forgotten by most of the people who ever knew it existed—unless they do crosswords, in which case they get reminded a couple times a year.
  • 4d. AM/FM RADIO is a terrific entry, but I’m not sure why it’s clued as [Feature of a new car]. I took a Ford Fusion Hybrid for a test drive a week ago, and the AM/FM radio was but a small part of the sound system. Six-disc CD player! Twelve speakers! Optional iPod/MP3 player hookup! I am just old enough to remember when the cheap-ass cars came with only an AM radio, and FM was the fancy option, before having a tape player became the fancy option.
  • 9d. [Trapper] clues SNARER. Quick, tell me a sentence in which you have used the word SNARER. And “What? SNARER?!? Is that even a word?” doesn’t count.
  • 27d. The QUOIT, a [Ring used in a horseshoelike game], is a word I encounter in only two places: crosswords and Scrabble. Oh, do I love it in Scrabble. Not so much in crosswords.
  • 40d. [Store, as fodder] clues ENSILE, which is in the running for the title of Dullest Word Found in Crosswords. I dunno—is it worse than ENISLE?
  • 64d. The [Marshal at Waterloo] is named NEY. Sure, Napoleon is a much bigger deal, but NEY hogs all the crossword glory.

Enough kvetching from me. I’ll bet you guys can mention some things you liked in this puzzle. Take it away!

Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 19Well, if it isn’t my favorite 25d: [Young ___] TURK crossword constructor, Tyler Hinman. What he lacks in solving skills, he makes up in constructing skills. Wait, that doesn’t work.

The intricate theme hinges on the WORK/LIFE BALANCE, and the other theme answers are balanced between “work ___” and “life ___” terms, with the words in the blanks combining into natural, in-the-language phrases:

  • 17a. LOAD TIMES? [They're long with dial-up connections]. Workload, lifetimes.
  • 31a. [Schubert's "Winterreise," e.g.] is a SONG CYCLE. Work song, life cycle.
  • 46a. [Something torn out from a catalog] might be an ORDER FORM. I can’t remember the last time I mailed in an order form. Online ordering all the way, baby. Work order, mutated life form.
  • 63a. PARTY LINE is a [Shared phone service of old], and my grandparents had that when I was a kid. Work party…that’s what, an after-hours outing with your colleagues? Lifelines are good for rescues and palm readers.

Highlights:

  • 27a. [Someone speeding past you on the highway, you might say] is a damn MANIAC. Mind you, anyone going too slow for you (51d: [Slow movers]/SNAILS) is equally pesky, and likely to be calling you a MANIAC.
  • 45a. I like this clue, [You see C:\> in it]. I had no idea it was DOS. I was trying to tease out the emoticon meaning. (See also 11d: [It often includes a colon] for EMOTICON.)
  • 61a. ["Very nice!"] clues “I LIKE,” which is no longer a partial, an incomplete statement. I’m also partial (!) to “do not want” as a complete utterance.
  • 66a. [Stumble for Singh] confuzzled me. It’s golfer Vijay Singh Tyler had in mind, and a BOGEY, over par.
  • 4d. Interesting way to clue BED, as [Lettuce formation]. As in “served on a bed of lettuce.”
  • 18d. [Grad's dangler] is a UVULA. Dang, that’s too short. It’s the TASSEL on a mortarboard cap.
  • 41d. Great entry and apt clue. LOW-KEY is [Like a night in, say].

I needed plenty of crossings for 34d: BIAFRA, [Former Nigeria neighbor]. Whoa, 1967-’70 geography and history. I had heard of Biafra, but didn’t know it was a secessionist republic that split off from Nigeria.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Wednesday”

Region capture 20Okay, I confess: I could not figure out the end of 26a: [Creatively-censored 4/28/10 New York Post headline about the foul-mouthed Senate/Wall Street hearings]. I knew it would be something like SACHS OF SH!T, but the SH wasn’t working with the crossings. Should’ve considered more symbols! It’s $#!T. I knew the singer’s name is Ke$ha, but plugged in KESHA. And I drew a blank on the Twitter “Follow Friday” tag, thinking only of the FF part without the hashtag symbol (#ff). D’oh! Cool to include an answer with three symbols replacing letters. I blame the internets for not telling me about that Post headline last week. Internets! You have let me down.

I have never heard of Charles TRENET or RHODES keyboards, but the crossings bailed me out. I had to do something thinking to come up with Diablo Cody’s Oscar-winning screenplay for JUNO, as the J and U were never, ever going to come from those crossings. Good gravy! JON GRUDEN is nobody I’ve ever heard of, and JONI-with-the-Finnish-name is even more so.

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20 Responses to Wednesday, 5/5/10

  1. Red Dog says:

    Sammy Kaye actually fits well in that corner w/ Japan, the bitter enemy of the United States. The reason is that his NBC Radio show was interrupted by the attack on Oahu on Dec 7, 1941. And he wrote the words to a famous song at the time, “Remember Pearl Harbor.”

    The refrain: “Let’s remember Pearl Harbor / As we go to meet the foe /
    Let’s remember Pearl Harbor / As we did the Alamo.” http://bit.ly/bfgo9u

  2. Gareth says:

    I did the usual “start in the top-left section” routine. Thought about a rebus when I couldn’t get 1A from SAM? and again when AGRONOMY wouldn’t fit @ 5D, but dismissed the idea as “it’s Wednesday, so it can’t be.” Carried on and filled in quite a lot considering, till got to 49D – instant aha. Because of that I had CERA @ 31D instead of MYERS until basically the end… bet I’m one of a lot of people though! It also meant I had MEGRYAN where A(MY)GRANT should go… true story. I mean ??GR??? – who else could it be?

    And yeah those sure were two mystery cross-referenced people, but with individually common names – weird.

    In other news, KTD also has a puzzle @ http://www.crosswordfiend.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=422. Haven’t done it yet myself…

  3. cfenter says:

    It pays to be 70+–the old names are the easiest!! Loved the puzzle and saw it right away (warped minds do well on weird puzzles)

  4. ArtLvr says:

    See website, photo at http://www.sammykayeorchestra.com/

    Swing and Sway with SAMMY KAYE ! Still touring, one of most enduring of the “ghost bands” of the Big Band era. It’s led by Roger Thorpe since Kaye passed away, with “boy singer” Ray Lamere (“It Isn’t Fair”) and “girl singer” Karina Calabro — who was also the featured opera singer in the popular film “Pretty Woman” starring Julia Roberts… The original SKO did a film too called “Iceland” back in 1942, about the US Marines in Iceland during WW2. That film stars figure skater Sonja Henie!

    Happy memories — many thanks to Dan Schoenholz.

  5. Evad says:

    I had heard of SAMMY KAYE, but stuck in FORMER ENEMY for BITTER ENEMY, I guess glossing over the “once” part of the Japan clue. (Leading me to wonder for a moment if Marat SAFIN had invented a vaccine…perhaps for tendonitis?) Suspected a rebus from the start with the cognac clue, all I could think of was REMY Martin and confirmed it with the Mike MYERS crossing. “Oh, be-have!” I hear him say from the Austin Powers flicks.

  6. Lloyd says:

    Got the rebus immediately – agree with Amy – should have run a couple of years ago. It was probably constructed back then – so the clue should have been updated to “One time” popular social networking site…

  7. Bruce S. says:

    I wasn’t expecting a rebus puzzle today either. It was not bad once I saw that. I believe it was Nicole Kidman in the movie “To Die For”.

  8. joon says:

    i didn’t know SAMMY/KAYE, and i didn’t even see either clue for TOMMY/MOE although i do know who that is. oddly, this turned into a faster-than-usual wednesday solve for me despite the rebus. but i agree that MYSPACE seems incredibly dated already. and MONISMS is maybe the worst plural i’ve ever seen, unmitigated by the fact that this isn’t the first time i’ve seen it. not only does it make just about zero sense to pluralize any -ISM, but this one in particularly really screams to be singular.

  9. joon says:

    okay, it’s weird to carp about tyler’s puzzle because i really liked it, but:

    1) i don’t think that’s what ROOT OUT means. to me (and my dictionary), it means find and destroy, not just find.
    2) i loved the clue for MANIAC, but given SPEEDS in the grid, maybe another wording would have been preferable. {Somebody zipping past you on the highway, you might say}?

    i guess these are both issues with ben, rather than tyler. really nice theme and as usual, the fill is excellent.

  10. Evad says:

    For some reason, I’m thinking when a pig is looking for truffles, it’s considered ROOTING OUT. (The second paragraph here seems to support that sense.) Perhaps if seahedges is still about he can confirm, as I believe he is familiar with the continent’s love affair with the elusive fungus.

  11. John Haber says:

    I like rebuses, but too many proper names this puzzle, especially facing from the start in the NW the two split first/last name entries.

  12. Howard B says:

    Couldn’t finish BEQ’s either, more due to MRROMANCE (a total unguessable unknown to me), and (IBM or ABM?) messing up the the top-left corner completely. Also, the # symbol I assumed was an H, as I don’t Tweet, so no way to decode the cross. The other symbols I could find. Incidentally, AcrossLite does not allow the “! ” symbol anyway, for some odd reason. So final score was 2 wrong letters, and a misguided letter in place of a symbol.

    Sorry BEQ, but this one was rough. Always appreciate the creativity and non-letters in the puzzle (oh, and the Weird Al UHF reference!), but damn. This one was as close to unsolvable as you’ll find, and I’m not a pushover for these.

    The NY Times rebus was a bit fluffier and easier, although way less daring :).

  13. Martin says:

    joon,

    I remember your dictionary.

    My dictionary allows for rooting out the cause of corruption as well as rooting out corruption. I think this covers find as well as find-and-destroy. I think of “rooting out the cause…” as the first step in addressing a problem while “rooting out corruption” is the search and destroy, as with a weed.

    I think of a pig rooting for truffles as a use of the intransitive sense of the verb. A pig roots. If you modify her behavior (only sows are used as hunters) to your benefit, she’s still rooting. In any case, a truffle deserves more respect than to be rooted out.

  14. pezibc says:

    Caleb Madison –

    -2 64D ?LA? simply not gettable for me.

    Liked BBALL, NEEDLED, RETINUE.

    31D very nice because I had NEVER and it took awhile to give it up.

    Thought that the clueing was overly difficult and almost quit early on, but got a couple of wedges into the grid and, with the theme cracked, made steady progress thereafter.

  15. Jan Hunt says:

    Re LAT: Why is “relief provider” PROMO? I don’t understand that one.

  16. joon says:

    bromo, not promo.

  17. Jan Hunt says:

    Oops! :D

    Thanks for explaining!

  18. Jan Hunt says:

    How can I add a photo to my comments?

  19. Evad says:

    Jan, you can go here to sign up for a “gravatar” after supplying your email address.

  20. Bob James says:

    You can hear a RHODES keyboard on the theme from “Taxi”.

Comments are closed.