Friday, 5/28/10

Triple Play TC #7 5:53 (click for .puz file or .pdf)
NYT 5:18
BEQ 4:58
LAT 3:48
CHE tba—puzzle not posted yet
CS 6:24 – one error (Evad)

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

So, this puzzle’s “twist” is that the grid isn’t symmetrical—one of the little blRegion capture 12ack-square triangles is flipped, and somehow this represents an OPTICAL ILLUSION (17A: [Thing that may appear to be symmetrical but isn't…like this puzzle's grid]). The asymmetry doesn’t add much oomph to the affair, and it’s surprising to see that even without symmetry, we still have fill like INDORSE (16A: [Support: Var.]) and plural ARLENES (33A: [TV's Francis and others]).

Notes on the puzzle contents:

  • 20A. TEMA is a [Melodic subject, in music]. Is the word Italian? It Googles up terribly. Furniture store, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, city in Ghana—these all come up prominently in a Google search for tema. The word’s not in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
  • 26A. DAN [Blocker of 1960s TV] played Hoss on Bonanza, my mother tells me. I wonder if he used to party with the Arlenes of eld, Francis and Golonka. Speaking of people’s names, we have ARLENES, DAN, the FEY ALEXEI MOTT row (Lucretia MOTT, a 30A: [19th-century women's rights advocate], rocks), NOAM Chomsky, POPE LEO (2D: [One of 13 religious leaders]), and NATALIE (23D: [Merchant selling records]—terrific clue for pop singer Natalie Merchant). Place names in this puzzle include the ARNO, which flows through PISA, and Mt. KILAUEA (8D: [World's most active volcano]).
  • 37A. EPSILON is a [Symbol of electromotive force]. Yeah, I worked the crossings for that one.
  • 44A. INURNED is clued as [Buried]. As you’d expect, the word means to bury something (usually ashes) in an urn.
  • 56A. Someone explain to me how the clue [Considered financially] fits the answer, DOLLARS AND CENTS.
  • 61A. This is basketball: A SET SHOT is an [Alternative to a jumper].
  • 3D. A STUDY IN SCARLET is a great entry. This [Seminal mystery of 1887] features Sherlock Holmes.
  • 6D. Usually ERAT is clued as part of quod erat demonstrandum, but here it’s ["Hoc ___ in votis": Horace]. Latin translation, please?
  • 12D. FRIED ONION RINGS rings false. I don’t eat ‘em, but does anyone call ‘em “fried”? Aren’t they just billed as onion rings, and you assume they’ve been deep-fried? (Clue is [Burger accompaniment].)
  • 30D. The MERL is a [European black thrush]. The royal variant, of course, is the Merl Reagle.
  • 41D. [Occasions to close up shop] are SIESTAS. I think it’s time for a blog siesta here.

David Poole’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 10Made-up phrases beginning with the vowels in order (A, E, I, O, U) are created by omitting the H sound from familiar phrases and changing the spelling of what’s left to create a real word. I can’t say I remember seeing a theme like this before, so points for originality. Here are the theme entries:

  • 20a. [Works in Satan's Museum?] are ART OF DARKNESS, playing on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
  • 27a. EVAN CAN WAIT is clued with ["Tell Senator Bayh to take a number"?]. Heaven Can Wait is a Warren Beatty movie.
  • 38a. [Egotism?] clues “I” ESTEEM, based on high esteem.
  • 47a. [Resistance quashers?] might be OHM WRECKERS. “Home wrecker,” of course, is a term applied to married men who opt to cheat on their wives.
  • 55a. [Evidence of a love-hate relationship?] is the odd combination of UGHS AND KISSES. Hugs and kisses have no truck with hate.

Highlights:

  • 36a. [One objecting to a called strike] is a SCAB if the strike was called by a union leader rather than a baseball umpire.
  • 45a. No way! OKRA is a [Cousin of hibiscus]? I had no idea. They’re both in the mallow family, Malvaceae. Good to see a surprising clue for OKRA instead of the same old, same old.
  • 3d. Interesting clue for FANATICISM: [Santayana defines it as "redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim"].
  • 24d. I prefer the “pooh-bah” spelling, but still like POO-BAH, or [Authority]. I believe it was Mr. Cunningham’s fraternal order on Happy Days that introduced my generation to the term “Grand Pooh-Bah.”
  • 49d. One memorable [Carol Burnett persona] is her character EUNICE. I prefer Mrs. Wiggins.

Trip Payne’s “Themeless Challenger #7,” from Triple Play Puzzles

Region capture 11Trip’s latest offering is a 17×17 themeless puzzle of roughly Friday NYT difficulty. There was one answer that felt a leetle bit like an entry from Trip’s wacky ”Something Different” crosswords—19a: SIX-SYLLABLE, clued as [Like existentialism]. Everything else felt solid, ranging from the Saturdayesque REDAN (28a. [V-shaped defense]) to the super-fresh. Here are my favorite answers and clues:

  • 17a. [Having no good alternatives] clues OVER A BARREL.
  • 46a. [Long curve on a face] is a UNIBROW. Ha!
  • 53a. [Toy in a can] is PLAY-DOH. Yes, that’s a can, albeit not a metal one. See also 55a: [Can], for a usually porcelain (and not metal) TOILET.
  • 80a. [They can have hundreds of tentacles] refers, luckily, not to any sort of squid or octopus or jellyfish that would then inhabit our nightmares. Nope, just a friendly li’l group of SEA ANEMONES. But now I’m thinking of jellyfish. Dammit!
  • 82a. [Ingredient in Chef's Surprise, perhaps] clues MYSTERY MEAT. *shudder*
  • 1d. BOSOM is an adjective in “bosom buddies,” so [Intimate] is an apt but tricky clue.
  • 27d. ENOS, the Dukes of Hazzard spinoff, is a [Show that aired at the same time as "Eight Is Enough" and "Real People"]. So that explains why I never watched Enos. I was watching the other shows in its time slot.
  • 32d. ETON gets a shiny, new clue: [Alma mater of Prime Minister David Cameron]. He’s been PM for what, maybe two weeks?

Updated Friday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Famous Figures”—Evad’s review

cs528 Mr. Orbach (known on this blog as Amy’s muse on a Sunday NYT masterpiece from last year) gives us 4 “famous figures” whose initials are FF:

  • FEDERICO FELLINI – very familiar to me as I recently saw the movie version of the B’way play Nine starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Fergie, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench and Marion Cotillard. Quite the star-studded cast.
  • FRÉDÉRIC FEKKAI – are you feckin’ kidding me? The crosser between the I in FEKKAI and IOWAN (I had B, thinking a BOWMAN could be considered a “Hawkeye,” forgetting the college sports reference) was my downfall in today’s puzzle. We’re supposed to know who cut Hillary’s hair at one time? (Likely now she goes to the salon in Foggy Bottom.) I see here he has his own line of salon products.
  • FRANZ FERDINAND – back to familiar territory, though pre-WW I archdukes are hardly my specialty.
  • FRANCISCO FRANCO – a name from history again, but this a bit more recent, ruling Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975. I saw Picasso’s Guernica on a recent trip to Spain and it is a very moving reaction to the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War of 1937 that brought Franco to power. (It’s also ginormous at 11×25 ft.)

So any other “Famous Figures” not make the cut? The late FARRAH FAWCETT springs to mind. How about FREDERICK FORSYTH or FANNIE FARMER? Comment below with your favorite FF personalities.

Other bits ‘n’ pieces:

  • Gotta love a “gritty” entry like SPUNK in the middle of your grid; unfortunate that it lies just above AIDS, but happily the latter is clued as “Gives a boost.”
  • SIZE NINE (“On the large size, as in women’s shoes”) seems a bit arbitrary to me, what do you think?
  • “’30s dance that was all the rage” was the LINDY. I see here that Charles Lindbergy earned the nickname “Lucky Lindy” years before his trans-Atlantic flight, surviving two leaps from his mail delivery plane.

Evad out.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Dead Heads”

Region capture 13The theme is TOP KILL, the timely oil catastrophe phrase we’ve all just learned. The four long theme entries (two 15s, two 16s) run vertically and have a killing method at the top: POISON PEN LETTERS, SHOOT FROM THE HIP, KNIFE IN THE WATER, and DROWN ONE’S SORROWS.

I find myself having nothing much to say about this puzzle. No real complaints, no unusually tough spots, not a ton of glitter in the fill. Favorite clue/answer combo: 1a: [The man's vehicle] is a COP CAR.

Gotta head out soon for the fourth-grade show at school—my son the giraffe will do jazz hands.

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18 Responses to Friday, 5/28/10

  1. joon says:

    i would have been unable to resist cluing FEY and LEMON together. i wonder if joe did and will changed it? the M in LEMON was actually my last square; i spent 30 seconds staring at LEHON because i was thinking about NOAH webster, not NOAM chomsky (or elkies). i guess webster was a lexicographer, not a linguist. how old is linguistics, anyway?

    my son’s day care class has been doing a curriculum “unit” on the ocean for a couple of weeks. one of the books they’ve got has SEA ANEMONES, and the teacher who reads aloud to the kids keeps pronouncing it “anna moans.” she’s such a sweetie that i haven’t the heart to correct it.

  2. ePeterso2 says:

    TEMA = theme, perhaps?

  3. Plot says:

    This is probably one of the first times I finished a friday LAT slower than the NYT. For weekend puzzles, I’ve picked up a bad habit of assuming that if a clue implies a plural answer, then that answer will not end in an S. Thus, it took me a while to get IESTEEM and ANS, since I was so sure that the plural (a foreign language plural, no less) would end in a vowel.

    Stanley Cup finals start this weekend, so I’ve been anticipating some hockey stuff in upcoming puzzles. But, I was still caught flatfooted by Trip’s misdirection with the MAPLELEAF clue. The crossword equivalent of a deke, I suppose.

  4. Hoc erat in votis < => that was in my prayers.

  5. Tuning Spork says:

    According to Wiktionary, TEMA means “theme” in Catalan, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene and Spanish.

    All of them are derived from the Latin “thema”. I guess there was an outbreak of H-dropping during Medieval times and, since English garnered most of it’s Latin during the Renaissance, we’re the oddballs who kept the H while dropping that pesky second syllable.

    It’s also a word in Swahili — the verb “to slash”.

  6. Zulema says:

    Horace, Satires 2, in a turn of the 19th century translation:

    “This was among my prayers, a moderate plot of ground–not near so large as what I’ve got–a garden, too; and near my roof, a source of water running freshly on its course……etc.”

    FINANCIALLY CONSIDERED as “In dollars and cents it comes to…” If the clue had read “After in” it would have been too easy.

  7. ArtLvr says:

    Loved Krozel’s NYT, though I started off with The Woman in White at 3D! This gave me NOAM, so it wasn’t totally hopeless. Buffaloed at 40A gave me Stumped — I liked that one, but it had to go…

    So I entered ARNO and PISA, and then TEMA, CHELA and ALEXEI. The rest of the non-English contined to save me: ANDANTE, ESTADOS, PEUT-être, STRASSE, EN MASSE, ERAT, RIGA! It was a hoot, even the ATRA instead of Haft or Hilt! As for KILAUEA, I knew the answer but couldn’t have spelled it without the crosses.

    I understand Zulema’s preference for “in” with DOLLARS AND CENTS, but my mind just leaped to (it all boils down to ___). Or tacking on a tacky (___-wise)! Grammar-wise that stinks, of course…

  8. Jan says:

    Frederic Fekkai???? That was my downfall too. That has to be the worst clue/answer ever! I like challenges, but this one was ridiculous!

  9. I really wanted “Francis and others” to refer to the talking mule (who, I discovered after looking it up upon finishing, appeared only in movies, not on TV – so it goes) with an answer like EQUINES (I had the final NES first) or some similar technical term (after I got LEADS, I even pondered for a moment “could MULINES be a word meaning ‘mule-related,’ following ‘murines’ for mice?”). Oh, well…

  10. Rob says:

    For completeness’ sake, I guess… I don’t think we’ll be seeing a CHE puzzle today.

    The Chronicle website notes that “print issues are published biweekly over the summer. Crossword puzzles will only appear online every other week during this time. (except for once in August due to our publishing break) Weekly puzzles will resume in September.” So that probably means we’ll see the next Chronicle puzzle next Friday.

    A few more FFs that come to mind: someone who’d have been a Bedrock for the theme (FRED FLINTSTONE)… a Tejano favorite (FREDDIE FENDER)… the stripper who took down a Congressman – in more than one way, one suspects :) (FANNE FOXE).

    While this one wouldn’t fit the theme, it is topical on Twitter today (FOLLOW FRIDAY), and I suspect it’s only a matter of time before it either becomes a theme or part of one.

  11. ktd says:

    Despite the mini-proliferation of names, I thought there was a very nice array of vocabulary in today’s Times puzzle. FOISTED is a pretty cool verb that isn’t heard much in speech. CHELA I had to get from crossings, but once it was in there I realized it made intuitive sense. I’m guessing it’s related to the word “chelate” which will be familiar to chemists: a chelator is a compound that can bind metal ions (for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EDTA). If you look at the coordination diagram you can see that the molecule does adopt a very claw-like shape to trap its metal ion. A very nice etymology lesson.

  12. Howard B says:

    In the Times, I agree that DOLLARS AND SENSE was kind of strange, and I couldn’t resolve that to work with the clue, but it did fit the crossings. The other mystery to me (and this is on my end, not the puzzle’s), was DAN for ‘Blocker…’. Did not get that at all, and had a feeling it was a name I just didn’t know. Although I know it’s been in a puzzle before with a more straightforward clue.

    Re: CS – Please, please, I beg you, do not put celebrity hairdressers in the puzzle as theme answers (no offense to the profession). FRANZ FERDINAND could also be clued as the band, though more likely in some puzzles than others. Would have preferred that one, actually, although the former certainly has more historical significance ;).

  13. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks to BEQ for a “medium” puzzle! I got it all except HACKS IT as I thought the BP oil well was getting Top Fill — thus missing the point of his violent ways to Kill.. Oh well. It was still pretty good, except I wouldn’t necessarily look for a Turnover in a PIE DISH!

  14. Mitchs says:

    Thanks much for the link to the Payneful puz – I DNF that SW, though. A little thing like LOU for LEW can create havok.

  15. Jan (danjan) says:

    As I was typing in Frederic Fekkai, I was wondering how much discussion there would be about how fair an entry he makes. I’ve heard the name, had some crossings, and knew the spelling was a bit unexpected, but that’s the extent of it for me.

  16. John Haber says:

    I actually knew TEMA. I liked the puzzle’s gimmick a lot more than Amy, although I know it’s not really what we mean by an optical illusion. (The wording of the clue finessed that, actually, but still….)

    The one that had me really wondering what was going on was Nanny CAM. Where’d anyone see that usage before?

    Also, Amy, you sure you can’t clean up all the forum posts from the golf ads. It’s not just a nuisance but has reached an overwhelming scale.

  17. Amy Reynaldo says:

    John, I don’t keep close tabs on any part of the forum other than the Cru Crossword Forum. I can’t figure out how to get e-mail notifications when users have flagged posts as spam, so unless someone mentions the spam to me, I typically have no idea it’s there. It’s gone now and I’ve banned the user. I’m hoping that either Evad will change a setting so that I do get those notifications, or keen-eyed forum regulars (Dan Chall, I’m looking at you!) will let me know via e-mail, Facebook, the blog, or passenger pigeon. Sorry for the ugliness you’ve endured. Golf ads! Obscene.

    Nanny cams are video cameras people set up at home to spy on the nanny during the day, to see if (s)he’s neglecting the kids.

  18. John Haber says:

    Thanks! I’d just assumed you’d heard about it because after one of the spam posts, someone commented that they’d notified you, but I can easily see how things would have gone astray.

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