Tuesday, 5/11/10

Jonesin’ 3:45
NYT 3:26
LAT 3:01
CS untimed

So, my mom’s got her first home computer now, an iMac. This here blog is bookmarked and she’s been reading it for a couple days. Hi, Mom!

Keith Talon’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 17What an unusual theme. I like it. There’s a MARTINI in the middle (37A: [Cocktail called "the elixir of quietude" by 4-Down], 4D being E.B. WHITE, ["The Elements of Style" updater] who picked up where Strunk left off). Four MARTINI orders are clued with the famous people (real and fictional) for whom those orders are apt:

  • 20A. ON THE ROCKS is [Tiger and Elin Woods's 37-Across order?]. Ohhh, too soon.
  • 53A. [Paula Abdul's 37-Across order?] is STRAIGHT UP, which is the title of a Paula Abdul song. I couldn’t tell you what it sounds like.
  • 11D. We get literary with this one. [O. Henry's 37-Across order?] is WITH A TWIST, a twist of irony.
  • 29D. [Popeye's 37-Across order?] involves green produce, but it’s not spinach, it’s EXTRA OLIVE, as in Olive Oyl. Do people order “extra olive”? What’s standard olive and how much more do you get with extra olive?

A few highlights in the fill:

  • 27A. [It might start "E FP TOZ LPED"] made absolutely no sense to me. EYE TEST! Of course.
  • 32A. Great clue for FOOL: [One pitied by Mr. T]. I dread the day when Mr. T loses his relevance and familiarity. Do 20-year-olds know who Mr. T is?
  • 44A. I could picture the [Figure of Greek myth with a statue at Rockefeller Center] from the 30 Rock opening sequence, but needed the crossings to tell me it’s ATLAS. D’oh!
  • 65A. Oh, FREDO, Fredo. [The hapless Corleone] from The Godfather.
  • 43D. The MOSH PIT is a [Frenzied place at a rock club].
  • 45D. TIVOED, the verb, means [Recorded for later viewing].

Updated Tuesday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Flee-Bitten”—Janie’s review

Who of us hasn’t longed for the ability to hit the magic button and be transported to–well, “anywhere but here”? Patrick speaks to that fantasy in his three-part, grid-spanning quip. His [Computer operator's lament] breaks out thusly:

  • 17A. [...Part 1] I KEEP HITTING THE
  • 37A. [Part 2] ESCAPE KEY BUT I AM
  • 57A. [Part 3] STILL HERE AT WORK.

Oh, for the IT guy or gal who could fix that problem! But somehow, the more we beseech, the more s/he STAYS AWAY [Maintains one's distance]. Why should it be such a problem to [Kick back] and RELAX? Whether it’s to go fly a KITE [Toy with a tail] of perhaps to don SCUBAS [Outfits for frogmen] (and -women…) or use a SKI or two [Piece of biathlon gear] or simply to stretch out on the PATIO [Spot for a chaise, perhaps]–downtime (however you take it) is a beautiful thing and its mental-health benefits are not to be taken lightly. At the very least, it’s sometimes helpful if one NAPS [Grabs a few winks] every now and then to rejuvenate oneself.

What else does Patrick give us today by way of non-theme fill? There are those inviting ENTRYWAYS [They allow access] and perhaps an allusion to the “Itsy-Bitsy Teensy-Weensy Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” with SKIMPIEST [Providing the least coverage]. Because of the one-syllable/two-sound alliteration, I also like the way WITT sits atop WAITE in the grid ([1980s skating champ Katarina] and [Ralph of "The Waltons"]). And [Trap up a trunk] is one terrific clue for TREE. “Trap” here is a verb and not a noun. Good one!

The one cross that threw me? JAMS [Blockages] and JOWL [Droopy cheek]. I started with DAMS for the former and DOWN for the latter, because I was having trouble getting the sense of the clue. And with the exception of a phrase like “cheek by jowl,” I’m not accustomed to thinking of the word jowl in the singular. Jowls, on the other hand? You betcha.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 18I filled in 3D and 17A early on and wondered what else would be in the LEMON LAW/COMMON COLD theme of “alliterative phrases with MON in the middle.” LEMON LAW, it turns out, is just fill, and the theme is C.C. phrases with C.C. clues:

  • 17a. [Cough cause] is the COMMON COLD.
  • 27a. [Courtside coverage] is COLOR COMMENTARY.
  • 41a. [Captain's concern] is COLLISION COURSE. See also: Staten Island Ferry.
  • 55a. [Contract clone (whose abbreviation hints at this puzzle's theme)] is CARBON COPY, which “cc:” was originally short for. I’ve seen people claim “cc:” means “courtesy copy.” I haven’t used carbon paper since I was a kid. Or the mimeograph machine.

11d: LOLITA is clued as [Nabokov nymphet]. Good lord, can’t the poor girl be clued as a character? Rather than as the untrustworthy sexual predator narrator sees her?

Tight schedule this morning—gotta run.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Just for Kicks”

Region capture 19The theme is lower-extremity puns on familiar games:

  • 17a, 21a. [With 21-across, leggy board game with jumping pieces?] is THIGH-KNEES CHECKERS (Chinese checkers).
  • 26a, 47a, 53a. [With 47- and 53-across, active marble game for your legs?] is HUNGRY / HUNGRY / HIPBONES (Hungry Hungry Hippos). This one sounds lewd. The answer  violates the prohibition on having the same word in the grid in two places, but it’s OK because both HUNGRYs are part of the same answer split into three pieces.
  • 36a. [Leg-based game of questions and answers?] is TIBIAL PURSUIT. Does running count as a tibial pursuit?
  • 58a. [Simple leggy game of three-in-a-row?] is TIC-TAC-TOES. It’s really easy to win if you go first, what with having five toes in a row right off the bat.

I know that 8d: [What "I Got," in a 1998 Master P movie title] constitutes a 9-letter partial, but at least I’ve actually seen I Got THE HOOK UP and find the title catchy so I could piece together the answer. The movie was…mildly diverting.

I had never heard of UNCO, or 16a: [Strange, in Scottish slang]. Dictionary tells me the word has Middle English origins and is an alteration of “uncouth.” As an adjective: unusual or remarkable. As an adverb: very, remarkably. As a noun: stranger. As a plural noun, uncos: news. This is all unco surprising!

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27 Responses to Tuesday, 5/11/10

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Hi Orange’s Mom!
    STRAIGHT UP sounds a lot like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5A3yF0bjLo

  2. Alex says:

    This strikes me as the type of puzzle for which Will provided the clues for the theme entries. Keith? Are you reading? What can you tell us?

  3. Wes says:

    I’m no expert, but 1 is the standard number of olives for a martini. If you ordered it with an EXTRA OLIVE, you’d get 2.

  4. LARRY says:

    Alex – I responded to your query yesterday right after your response to me in Amy’s Monday post, even though she was already into the Tuesday blog. If you want to continue to advise me how to figure Norton out, why don’t you email me directly. Amy has my email address. Thanks.

  5. Gareth says:

    Clever theme… Weird that I can remember how “Straight up” goes from pre-primary school days (is it bad to be exposed to cheesy pop music at a young age?I checked, I was 2 when it came out!)

  6. Fonebill says:

    It must be a generational thing. I have heard of Mr T but I don’t know Avril Lavigne and Sk8er Boi nor have I been to a mosh pit. I used to drink martinis but I always stopped after my second “olive”.

  7. Evad says:

    Hi Amy’s Mom and belated Happy Mothers’ Day!

    Never heard of an eMac…is that the precursor to Mom’s iMac?

  8. Howard Barkin says:

    “Sk8er Boi” was popular in top-40 radio for maybe a month, but it lives on in crossword fill.
    “Straight Up” has not been in the mainstream radio shuffle for… oh man… 20+ years now? Although its shelf life is now significantly longer than the Avril Lavigne thanks to American Idol, come to think of it.

  9. Sara says:

    We forced my parents to buy a computer (by threatening to buy one for them) over a year ago but they have declined to use it. Hooray for Amy’s mom!

    I loved this puzzle and flew through it. I guess it was all the low-brow pop culture.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Sara: She bought the iMac last fall and it lived in its box at my house until the end of April. Tell your folks the accepted limit for new computer non-use is 8 months, and that they are in arrears.

  11. sps says:

    Howard, you clearly don’t live in a house with three pre- and early teenaged girls. Sk8er Boi lives on…and on.

    Welcome, Amy’s mom. I purchased a MacBook for my mother in law four years ago and I am her main tech support, at least for the questions she thinks are too easy for the geniuses at the Apple store…who she has gotten quite chummy with, possibly for reasons other than their computer prowess. She’s on a first name basis with several of them: “Jason says that if I…”

  12. *David* says:

    Mr. T is timeless and with a new A-Team movie coming out this summer he will be re-discovered by another generation. Paula Abdul is personally immortalized in my only serious car accident when the momentum of my car crashing into the back of the water truck pushed my tape into the player and as the car sat smoking away Cold Hearted Snake started blasting from the speakers.

  13. Pocketrebel says:

    I’m not a drinker, but I really enjoyed that theme. Really clever. And good fill. This was a fun puzzle for me. I still don’t understand how people are as fast as you are though. I couldn’t do it that quickly a second time solving.

  14. Karen says:

    Us kids got my mom an iPhone for her 70th birthday last year. This year for Mother’s Day I got her the new crossword app, which she was downloading when I called her. (She reads this blog too. Hi mom!)

    I got EYE TEST off just the test, remembering Matt Gaffney’s metapuzzle last year that involved the eye chart. I’ve never heard of any of those UNCOs.

  15. Neville says:

    This 21 year old & his 20 year old friends know who Mr T is :)

  16. Howard Barkin says:

    Well, thanks sps, I guess that Avril lives on beyond the limited lifespan of commercial radio :). Funny, was one of those songs that you could not escape on the car radio (except by switching formats), then the next day, POOF! it was gone, apparently never to be heard from again, at least on non-satellite radio and outside of iTunes.

  17. Jan says:

    I’ve signed up for a “gravitar” but my photo isnt showing up. What can I do to fix that?

  18. Evad says:

    Jan, are you using that same email address when you post here?

    If so, it may actually be the monster generation thingy that Amy has installed, once you have one of those assigned to your email, a gravatar won’t work. We could turn that off for a bit and see if your new image comes up.

  19. Becky says:

    No Matt Gaffney today?

  20. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Becky, the contest deadline is Wednesday, so look for Joon’s post tomorrow at 11:00.

  21. Becky says:

    Did you ever post your solve for BEQ’s Georgia on My Mind now that the contest is over.

    And, Amy, Doh!!! You’re right – I forgot about the extra day for Matt’s puzzle. Thanks!

  22. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Becky: Nope. The short version: Puzzle took me a medium amount of time, and the BUCK, BERRY, MILLS, STIPEnd part was pretty easy for me to figure out.

  23. Evad says:

    Amy is too modest; she was mentioned in Brendan’s blog as having one of the more creative responses to the meta: http://crosswordfiend.blogspot.com/2009/04/for-brendan.html

  24. Becky says:

    Never in a million years would I have thought of the REM tie-in. I’m still trying to fill in some of the puzzle.

  25. joon says:

    hi, everybody living in the past. hi, amy’s mom. i’m late to the party (busy day yesterday), but i enjoyed the NYT puzzle even though it took me quite a bit longer than a usual tuesday. took forever to cotton to the theme, and EMAC was a big mystery. as for EYE TEST, remember when stan newman put EFPTOZLPED in a grid? ah, the good old days. or not. but karen, i don’t remember the gaffney meta you’re talking about.

  26. Alex says:

    I think Karen’s talking about one of BEQ’s contests.

  27. joon says:

    ah, okay. i remember that one. thanks, alex.

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