Tuesday, 5/18/10

Jonesin’ 4:55
NYT 3:22
LAT 3:22
CS 4:52 (Evad)/3:33 (Amy)

I’ve been cheating on crosswords with jigsaw puzzles in the last couple weeks. What do you think—is it time for a jigsaw puzzle blog? No?

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

Region capture 9Our theme today is MIXED RESULTS, an [Unclear outcome, or what can be found literally in (the other theme entries)]. The anagrammed RESULTS are split across words:

  • 20A. [Thief in a western] is a HORSE RUSTLER. My husband and I both thought of cattle rustling first.
  • 29A. [Some metal frames] are STEEL TRUSSES. (Snooze.)
  • 47A. [Parliamentary procedure guide, familiarly] clues ROBERT’S RULES of Order. Does this have the broad familiarity you expect in something helping to anchor a Tuesday puzzle?

Eh, not crazy about this incarnation of the anagram theme. The concept of “a word can be anagrammed into other chunks of letters that don’t make a word” is less fun than “a word or phrase can be anagrammed into other words.” SERUSTL and ELTRUSS aren’t interesting anagrams.

I loved (though suspect plenty of solvers born after the MTM heyday did not care for) these two: 40D: LOU GRANT/[TV boss of Mary Richards] and 22D: LARS/[TV husband of Phyllis].

Eight more clues:

  • 1A. [You might fix one yourself at a bar] is a great clue for SALAD. Can I drink it?
  • 41A. Oh, dear. STEVE is clued with ["All About ___," 2009 Sandra Bullock bomb]. I still haven’t watched that. Nor have I acquired a pair of red boots to match the crossword constructor character.
  • 64A. ECASH is clued as [PayPal money, e.g.]. Hey! I have a PayPal blog donations link in the sidebar to the right. I like to extricate the ECASH from my PayPal account and turn it into non-E cash in my bank account.
  • 9D. [Pesto ingredients] include PINE NUTS. Yum! I need to buy some pasta to go with the lemon pesto in the fridge.
  • 10D. I don’t quite get how OVER means [In the strike zone]. As in “over the plate”? A baseball can be over the plate but out of the strike zone if it’s too high or too low.
  • 38D. [A bouncer might break one up] clues a BAR FIGHT. I had BAR BRAWL at first. Either one makes for a great entry.
  • 43D. STAX was a [Record label for Booker T. & the M.G.'s]. Whichever snack food company brought out the Pringles knockoffs called Stax is apparently not paying the NYT for product placement in the crossword.
  • 54D. [Super Bowl XXV MVP ___ Anderson] is named OTTIS. If you are an aficionado of athletes whose first names are spelled in surprising ways, check out the “Shawn” Sporcle quiz. I got 4/11. Sports fiend Tyler Hinman got 6/11.

There’s a lot of lackluster short and medium fill in this grid. We’ve got partials and fragments (AM I, GO A, CUL, -IAN, -GON), abbreviations (ESQ, ACS, STA, STL, TDS, MTN, OCT, SEMS, SYS), French (PEU, RUES, SANTE), and boring entries (ERE, ERES, ESTER, ESSES, SLOE, N-TEST). Forty-eight theme squares feels like a small enough number to avoid this fill, doesn’t it?

Timothy Meaker’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 10Timothy LEARY is the 66a: [Timothy who preached the message found in this puzzle's theme]. That message is “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” and those word pairs are found at the beginning of longer phrases:

  • 20a. To [Provide some room illumination] is to TURN ON THE LIGHT. Feels like a random verb + noun situation rather than a zippy,in-the-language unit.
  • 37a. [TV promo exhortation] clues TUNE IN TONIGHT. I feel “tune in next week” is something that would be said at the end of  a show, but that no TV promo says “tune in tonight.” The local news people might go with “tonight at 10, while the network promos might just say “8, 7 Central.” Yes? No?
  • 53a. [Disappear from the radar, so to speak] clues DROP OUT OF SIGHT. What you drop out of is school, but you can always drop off the face of the earth, go into hiding, or go off the grid.

Fill I liked:

  • 11d. [Express disdain for] clues POOH-POOH.
  • 31d. To FEND OFF is to [Keep away].
  • 21d. [Quiet period at day care] is NAP TIME.

Interesting word I’d never encountered before: MOON DOG is a 41a: [Bright spot on a lunar halo]. You can read a little about that here.

Four more clues:

  • 10d. [Chihuahua gal pal] is not a famous chihuahua owner like Paris Hilton, nor the confidante of Ren. It’s AMIGA, the Spanish word for a female friend. Chihuahua is a place in Mexico.
  • 14a. [Wind: Prefix] is ANEMO-, as in an anemometer that measures wind speed. The flower called the anemone gets its name from Greek by way of Latin, with a meaning of “windflower.” Is it true that anemone blossoms open only when the wind blows?
  • 58a. [Kennedy half, e.g.] is a COIN, the half dollar coin with JFK on the front.
  • 37d. TRAPDOOR is a [Hidden way out, maybe]. If you’re going to DROP OUT OF SIGHT, consider using the trapdoor.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Foot for Thought”—Evad’s review

ACPT phenom Tyler Hinman, and fellow RPI alum (I was class of ’82, he more likely ’04 or ’05), brings us today’s CS/WaPo puzzle, “Foot for Thought.”
cs18
I don’t do a lot of thinking about feet, although I do know a few others do, so I was willing to walk a few miles in someone else’s moccasins (or do puzzlers more likely wear SABOTS?) this morning.

When solving from the top, I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out how HAMSTER WHEEL, GAMING CONSOLE, and DECIMAL PLACES had anything in common, much less something related to feet. Thank goodness for the explainer entry at the end with the AHA moment–”They’re found at the ends of this puzzle’s three other longest answers” or PARTS OF SHOES.

Pretty unique theme idea, executed very well. Would’ve been a bit tighter if all of the theme entries added just one letter to the beginning of the shoe part (something like THE LAST SUPPER perhaps?), but that’s a small quibble against a Tuesday puzzle that worked the brain cells a bit more than usual.

Some interesting long fill as well, as one would expect from someone so at ease with words and fresh phrases:

  • “Bask at the beach, say” is GET A TAN
  • I’M FOR IT is clued cleverly as “Statement from a pro?”
  • “Grew up” is CAME OF AGE, which I guess I did in a big way a few weeks ago, turning the big fiddy.

A couple of snags for me–AL HIRT for Herb ALPERT (both trumpeters, interestingly) and unfamiliarity with “innovative” IGOR Sikorsky, who I read designed and flew the first working helicopters.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Not So Full of It, Are We?”

Region capture 11If you’re not full of it but you used to be, the IT has been removed, much like it has in the theme entries, which are based on celebrities who are full of IT:

  • 1a. [Country singer Paisley on a military boat?] clues BRAD PT. PT boats were big in World War II, yes, but “Brad PT” is not how anyone would describe a person who is on one. “Brad on a PT,” perhaps. Brad Pitt has lost IT.
  • 24a. [The value of an Egyptian sun god's bales?] is RA HAY WORTH. Rita Hayworth has lost it.
  • 35a. [Bonaduce running around in a plastic, cone-shaped red hat?] clues DANNY DEVO. Devo has some new headwear these days. Danny DeVito has lost it.
  • 44a. [Mickey Mouse's unsuccessful cousin?] is BONNIE RAT. Bonnie Raitt has lost it.
  • 53a. [Part of a boat named after radio man Paul?] is a Paul HARVEY KEEL. Harvey Keitel has lost it.
  • 73a. [Reply to "Were any people left after Dick and Harry departed?"] clues “TOM WAS.” Tom Waits has lost it.

The theme is largely successful, and the with-it celebrities are all famous enough for this puzzle. It’s a little off balance owing to the non-theme answers that are longer than 1a and 73a (the Acrossses RADAR GUN and “AHOY, MATE,” the Downs BEAT POETS and ZEN GARDEN). On the plus side, all four of those length outliers make for terrific fill.

31d: SYDNEY is clued as [Capital with an opera house]. I call foul. It’s the capital of the state New South Wales, not the capital of Australia, and when we refer to capital cities in other countries, generally we’re talking about national capitals. Mind you, Sydney should be Australia’s capital, just like Chicago should be Illinois’s capital. But it isn’t so.

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14 Responses to Tuesday, 5/18/10

  1. ArtLvr says:

    I think over the strike zone refers to a bomber… military plane, that is. Also might be something like a BP oil-drilling rig on the water’s surface trying to shut off a leak down below? Wish that indeed were over!!!

  2. pezibc says:

    I thought the ‘theme entries’ were great by themselves. The connection to a theme is not even tenuous, IMO. I didn’t get it until you explained it; forgot to look. Liked it better before I knew. Simply a themeless with nice entries for me.

    Loved ROBERTS RULES, also MIXED RESULTS. STEEL TRUSSES not so much (not that there is anything wrong with it).

    Really liked ESQ / QUIT IT and NEXUS / SOX, but twenty-three 3s makes a lot of junk pretty much a given.

  3. John Farmer says:

    OVER is baseball. Yes, a pitch could be “over the plate but high” or “over the plate but low,” and those would be balls. But just “over the plate” or “over” would be a strike. That sounds right to me.

    Just 4 of 11 on the Shawn quiz. S???n Podein has quite a name. Figures he once played for the Växjö Lakers hockey team.

  4. David H says:

    When he was in high school my son was a member of the JSA, and they followed “Roberts Rules of Order”. So does the board of the Museum I almost joined – so I was familiar. I was TOTALLY thrown by the SE in the CS puzzle – I missed the “SOLE”, “LACES”, “HEEL” extractions, and thought that Victoria Beckham was the ex-wife of Dave Beckham. Not knowing whether the privileged one would be ELDEST or OLDEST, I was lost. I don’t read the tabloids – was Beckham’s ex a PAIN? A PEST? Is UNC in the Pac-10? Big aha moment after a long stare.

    Likewise lost with LOST – never watched the show, never read about it.

  5. Jimmyb says:

    In the strike zone I believe is a combat term. If you are in a fighter plane and in the strike zone you are above or over the target.

  6. Howard Barkin says:

    OVER is dicey but I have heard it; it’s shorthand for “over the plate”, usually used when the batter doesn’t swing – you’ll hear an announcer say “…over for a called strike three”.

    Got 9/11 on the Shawn quiz, thanks to knowing the bizarro hockey player names, although I did have to guess several times on one of the football players until I invented the correct spelling :). I think one of those hockey names (Mr. Podein) came from his parents being torn equally between two first names, and ultimately deciding to mash the two choices together into a sort of Frankename (or so I heard). Don’t know if it’s true, but still interestingly quirky either way.

  7. David H says:

    Hah – I guess I revealed my ignorance of Pop Culture – I just found out that Victoria Beckham IS married to David Beckham. Who knew?

  8. joon says:

    7/11 on shawns. never heard of the hockey guys or the texans special-teamer, but the others were fun. i should make an antoine quiz if there isn’t one already.

    i guess i like the idea of the NYT theme, but what you end up with in practice is a pretty boring grid full of Rs, Ss, and Ts. and the theme answers themselves weren’t very interesting except for ROBERT’S RULES. anyway it was a slow solve for me but that part didn’t bother me. LOU GRANT okay (i’ve seen enough ASNER clues) but the LARS/phyllis thing means nothing to me.

    i don’t think i understand the LAT theme at all. i know who timothy leary is, and i know he’s always used to clue LSD, but i don’t understand his “preaching” and it doesn’t sound like a phrase i’ve ever heard. still, a very fast solve for me (on paper). so the rhyming ends had nothing to do with the theme?

  9. Jan (danjan) says:

    I think Robert’s Rules of Order is widely known, and fair for a Tuesday. Mostly, people admit to not knowing how to use them. I’ve seen Robert’s Rules used in every group I’ve belonged to, sometimes more stringently than others. (I learned about them when I was recording secretary for an embroidery group, which was surprisingly stringent.) In Connecticut, we have the Town Meeting form of government, so in my town there are many issues that are decided by a show of hands or even voice vote, rather than going to the polls at town expense. These meetings are run by a moderator (sometimes me) who must be familiar with R’s rules.

  10. sps says:

    Joon,

    The phrase most often associated with Leary was “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, matching the first part of each long answer in the LAT.

    sps

  11. Steve Manion says:

    OVER as a single word is definitely an acceptable baseball term for a strike.

    Steve

  12. joon says:

    steve (smith), i got that part. what i don’t understand is what that phrase meant to leary, because it sure as hell doesn’t mean anything to me. but puzzlegirl explained it (in a way) over at LACC, so i’m good now.

  13. Ajaxman says:

    NYT was not a very interesting puzzle – too much standard crossword fill for my liking (ESSES, ESTER, ADELE). And it would be nice if crossword constructors would settle on the plural for AORTA – is it AORTAE or AORTAS? If the former, then the record label would have been ETAX (which would have been a good revenue generator for Amy’s ECASH).

    I did like DORAG – don’t think I’ve seen that in a puzzle yet. Looking forward to Wednesday…..

  14. ArtLvr says:

    The jonesin’ xword was tricky with all those names… glad I got most of IT!

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