Wednesday, 6/16/10

Onion 4:21
NYT 4:07
LAT 3:34
CS untimed

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 5First things first: I came across 18d: [Midwest air hub] and said “Hey! My husband’s flight just took off from O’HARE!” Then I continued through the puzzle and found 69a: [Closing bell org.]. You know what? The NYSE also has an opening bell, and my husband will be up there for its ringing Wednesday morning. I kid you not. I’m gonna watch him on CNBC.

The theme is semi-concocted phrases that contain two letter+word parts:

  • 20a. [Sporty, powerful auto] clues V-EIGHT T-BIRD. The T-Bird part is great, but I am not a fan of the spelled-out-only-in-crosswords numbers. It’s a V-8 engine, not a V-eight.
  • 26a. I’m not sure anyone would ever use the phrase R-RATED B-MOVIE, but that would be a [Racy, low-budget film].
  • 47a. This clue is ridiculously gendered. V-NECK T-SHIRTS are a staple of my warm-weather wardrobe. The [Undergarments that show a little of the chest]? I’d call those V-neck undershirts, and those are a man thing. Will! Joe! Women wear V-neck T-shirts.
  • 58a. [Messages on an Apple device] might plausibly be referred to as IPHONE E-MAIL, except that people don’t generally label their e-mail with the device on which it was sent or received. I don’t have “Droid e-mail,” I have Gmail on my Droid.

There’s a lot of fill that triggered my Spidey sense. What is this word doing in a Wednesday puzzle? This feeling began right at 1-Across, with MARC [___ Cohn, 1991 Grammy winner for Best New Artist]. He was modestly famous in 1991 but has he not been largely forgotten? Seems like a weird MARC to hog up 1-Across. One category of vexing fill is blah multi-word answers:

  • 5a: [Rent-___] A CAR.
  • 16a: [Slightly ahead], UP ONE. If you shoot hoops with Patti Lupone, is she likely to be up one?
  • 17a: DID NO HARM is clued [Followed the Hippocratic oath, in a way]. “First, do no harm” is completely in the language. DID NO HARM clangs in my ear.
  • 19a. MT. IDA is [Either of two peaks in Greek myth]. Are both peaks called Mt. Ida?
  • 24a. ["It's ___!" ("I give up!")] clue NO USE.
  • 66a. ALL I is part of [Sheryl Crow's "___ Wanna Do"].
  • 68a. ["With a wink and ___"] clues A NOD. Do you hear the undercurrent of grumbling that the A is repeated in the clue and answer?
  • 43d. ["Go ahead" hand gestures] clues OK SIGNS. That term Googles up okay, but it looks awkward to me. I dunno. I think the singular works a lot better than the plural. It’s just one sign, no matter how many people make it, right?

And now, the highlights:

  • 5d. I like the clue [Common car door fixtures, once] for ASHTRAYS. Are you old enough to remember when cars had ashtrays at every seat?
  • 11d. If you take a VOICE VOTE, that’s a [Yea-or-nay event]. Remember: If you’re taking a voice vote, refuse to count people’s votes unless they say “yea” or “nay.” A simple “yes” or “no” should get them evicted from the premises.
  • 33d. [Knucklehead], LAMEBRAIN, dimwit, numskull: pick your poison.
  • 55d. Listen, my cousin’s got a brilliant toddler named ELSIE. She’s no [Bovine in ads]. I will do what I can to encourage her to get famous as soon as possible, as we are decades overdue for a fresh ELSIE clue.

And a few lowlights in the single-word department:

  • 65a. MENE is a [Word on a biblical wall]. I consider this old-school crosswordese. The lowercase “b” reminds me of something from the funny @FakeAPStylebook Twitter feed: “Always capitalize ‘Bible.’ You don’t want to get letters from those people.”
  • 1d. [Early 15th-century year] is MCDVI, or 1406. Achingly pointless.
  • 4d. CONGER! Completes [___ eel]. Moderately crosswordesey. Remember Darva Conger from that early reality show, the one about marrying a millionaire, if memory serves?

Hey, why are SONGS [Fake-book contents] (67a)? I don’t get it.

Pancho Harrison’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 6All righty, today we have a homophone theme that stretches beyond the usual suspects for such themes:

  • 17a. [Songs by German wolves?] are die LIEDER OF THE PACK. I like the cross-language wordplay here, from leader to Lieder. I was wondering if this was supposed to evoke a German “wolf pack” of attack submarines, but when I Googled it…are you sitting down, people? I mistyped it as “wolkpack” and found out plenty of sites have “wolkpack” or “wolk pack.” If you get 2,000 Google hits for something, please consider it likely too horrible to include in a crossword. (Pancho, your entry is fine. I didn’t have enough caffeine today. I’m drifting.)
  • 36a. AIR APPARENT is clued [Obvious melody?].
  • 58a. [Intonations from the monastery locker room?] are CHANTS OF SHOWERS. The chance/chants and leader/Lieder switches are more interesting, if you ask me, than the monosyllabic homophone game (e.g., air, heir, ere).

Favorite fill:

  • 11d. IN AND OUT is an entertaining movie starring Kevin Kline as well as a solid way to describe someone who’s [Hard to reach at the office, say].

I am far too sleepy to think about crosswords anymore tonight. See you in the a.m.
Updated Wednesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Shorebird Patrol”—Janie’s review

Oh, man, for a pun lover comme je, I am one happy solver today. Randy has given us four first-class groaners of the avian variety—two at 15 letters, two at 14, for 58 squares of theme fill—and some mighty substantive non-theme fill as well. To begin at the (themed) beginning:

  • 17A. GULL FROM IPANEMA [Brazilian shorebird?]. Jobim may be rolling over in his grave crying but I’m rotfl. Please, if you’ve never heard it, check out “The Boy from…,” a brilliant parody of the brilliant original. It was written by Mary Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim for a revue called The Mad Show (1966) and is sung by Linda Lavin doing her best, breathy Astrud Gilberto.
  • 25A. VICTORIA’S EGRET [Former queen of England's shorebird?]. Much less likely to make her blush, I imagine.
  • 43A. WHEN IS IT MY TERN? [Question about adopting a shorebird?]. Somehow, as that oil spill encroaches on more and more of the Gulf shoreline, I suspect we’ll be seeing more and more tern adoptions as part of the clean-up and restoration operations. Alas.
  • 57A. HERON BROCKOVICH [Environmental activist who protects shorebirds?] Hah! Send ‘er to Louisiana—right now! My first thought here was SERIN B., but HERON is faaaaar better. Not to mention that the serin is a finch and not a shorebird at all.

As for that non-theme fill, I very much like seeing FALLACY [Logician's pitfall], ENIGMA [Stumper], IN STONE [Permanently] (sometimes this is IN BLOOD…); the muscular, masculine feel of HAYMAKER [Knockout punch] and [Place to play poker] for CARD ROOM; and the twinkly AGLITTER [Sparkling] in the grid.

Randy’s “day-job” is as an educational administrator. Somehow that seems appropriate inspiration for two of the “conversational” clue/fill pairs: ["Look] AT ME [when I'm talking to you"] and ["What did you say?"] “HUH?” Déjà vu all over again, anyone?…

Given all the shorebirds today, it seemed especially appropriate to see the [Moved like a crab] SIDLED combo in the grid. Little fiddler crabs are often seen sidling on the beach. I also like the way this one sits beneath gull from… If that crab doesn’t sidle quickly enough he may become some gull‘s dinner.

OED gets clued as [Ref. work featured in "The Professor and the Madman"]. If you’ve never read the book, I commend it to your attention. Ditto The Meaning of Everything. Both are by Simon Winchester and both have the making of the OED as their subject matter. Great fare for wordies!

Fave clue: [It'll make you red in the face] for ROUGE. D’oh. Cute. And fave factoid: [World's largest fragrance maker] COTY. I’d no idea. A lotta “celebrity” fragrances—but apparently it’s true!

Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 7Remember Francis’s “Flag Day” beaut in the Sunday NYT? Francis relished the blog comments (especially the negative ones) about his puzzle. He’s gathered some of the goofier examples and responded to them here. Funny guy.

His Onion theme is SQUARE / DANCES, and four 8-letter dance names appear in clockwise squares in the corner sections. I read the FLAMENCO one and figured out the theme, but then forgot to pay any attention to the circled squares while solving the rest of the puzzle. The other three dance names are the LINDY HOP, THE ROBOT, and the MACARENA. The “the” feels more essential to THE ROBOT. Just plain “Robot” doesn’t sound like a dance. By the way, I blew the mind of some girls in my son’s class by demonstrating how to spin a floppy lower arm like a mechanical device. They declared it to be The Robot.

Lots of names in this puzzle, and I only hit one I didn’t know: AMANDA [Palmer of the Dresden Dolls]. AKIO Morita, IRA Glass, fictional Lisa CUDDY, WES Anderson, the Queen of SHEBA, MACY Gray, José ITURBI, ARAMIS the Musketeer cologne, TWO-FACE, VITA Sackville-West, POL POT, and MALIA Obama? These people should all be assembled in one room. Imagine the conversations.

Highlights:

  • 1a. I like this TRISTE/[Poetically sad] beginning to the puzzle.
  • 69a. IDS are clued as [Cards with unflattering pics, often]. Ain’t that the truth?
  • 3d. Indeed, [Palau, Nauru, and Manhattan] are all ISLANDS. I look forward to Survivor: Manhattan, with contestants confined to Central Park and catching rats for dinner.
  • 8d. Ooh, SKOR BAR. Want. I like crunchy [Toffee candy]. Feel free to bring me some at crossword events. The toffee to beat is Matt Ginsberg’s wife’s almond roca.
  • 11d. “MIND YOU,” ["On the other hand"], I love this answer. Not as much as toffee, but quite a lot.
  • 19d. ICHORS are [Ethereal fluids], the kind that flow in the veins of Greek gods. Petrichor is that characteristic smell when rain hits dry ground.
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19 Responses to Wednesday, 6/16/10

  1. Deb Amlen says:

    Fake-books are books of basic sheet music for people who want to learn to play songs without having to learn the full orchestration. They contain a minimum of easier chords, so essentially you can “fake” playing the song.

  2. Neville says:

    I get emails from people that say “Sent from my iPhone.” I used to think they were being pretentious, but I think it’s the default.

    A fake book is a song book that just contains a bunch of lead sheets (melody + chords + lyrics) so that a performer can BS a song arrangement on the fly.

    I may have to tune in to CNBC in the AM! Exciting times!

  3. Deb Amlen says:

    Hey, if you stretch one of those eels out straight, have you made a Conger line?

    OK, sorry. I’ll stop now.

  4. foodie says:

    Amy, It took me a minute to figure out what was annoying you about the V NECK T SHIRT cluing. I was thinking- women have chests too.. Then I realized you must mean the undergarment part. I guess I think V Neck T Shirts can be outer garments for both men and women. They can also be undergarments for men and occasionally for women (e.g. skiing undergarments). But I agree that the clue conjures up a male, somehow.

    It could have been a lot worse, though. An A Shirt, often referred to as wife beater Shirt –a truly a hateful name for a garment.

    Is there a special event that your husband is attending at the NYSE? Sounds cool.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    43D’s clue could have been “Thumbs up”, leaving open the plural possibility. And yes, I have a little metal pillbox fitting nicely between the two cup-holes for my van’s ashtray, not square but narrower on one side than on its opposite side, enameled lid and all… Don’t SNIFF!

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Foodie, he and some colleagues who completed a project a few months ago were invited to ring the opening bell.

  7. HH says:

    “IN AND OUT is an entertaining movie starring Kevin Kline…”

    …but maybe not a legit clue, since the movie’s title uses an ampersand.

    On an unrelated note, here’s something solvers should be on the alert for — In her new sitcom, “Hot in Cleveland”, Betty White plays a character named ELKA.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    HH: So, are you opposed to RANDB and MANDMS (ampersand crimes), BTWO and THREED (spelled-out number crimes), MISTER ED (title violation), and the like?

    Funny you should mention Betty White. She and her costars rang the NYSE opening bell yesterday!

  9. ktd says:

    I thought I was solving a Thursday puzzle and had to check the date in the by-line to reassure myself that it was for a Wednesday. DUMDUMS reminded me of the brilliant dark comedy “In Bruges”

  10. ArtLvr says:

    Fave of the day is Francis Heaney’s Onion puzzle, which I managed to finish in spite of more pop culture than I usually can handle… So clever!

  11. bob stigger says:

    My only objection to iPhone e-mail is that it might better be called messages “from”, not “on”, an Apple device. As far as those taglines at the bottom — I particularly dislike the “Sent from my Blackberry” ones. When replying to those, I add the tagline “Sent from my top-secret next-gen iPhone that you won’t be able to buy for a year, loser.”

  12. Ladel says:

    See, it goes like this: always read the clues carefully, that’s why they are called clues.

    So if you put MCDLI for 1-down it works great with 20-across, you get 58 TBird, not super powerful but way sporty and good enough for me.

    So, “early” on I had this error from which there was no recovery.

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Oh, Ladel! On what planet does L EIGHT denote 58? One Roman numeral plus one number word should be such a horrible monstrosity that your brain says “NO! This cannot be. It’s too horrible.”

  14. pannonica says:

    “I coulda had a V-VIII!”

  15. Martin says:

    I’ve seen single-letter examples of this theme in the past (like “VNECK SWEATER”, etc), but never with two per theme entry. Nice work Joe!

    Hey Henry … you’re a godsend with the new info about ELKA. I almost didn’t believe my eyes when I read your comment. I’ve needed a decent clue for ELKA for the last two months!
    -MAS

  16. *David* says:

    I’m really starting to look forward to Heaney Onion puzzles, they suit each other. I give this one kudos since it had so much pop culture but was still a smooth solve without knowing it all.

  17. Karen says:

    Amanda is well known in sf circles for being the partner of author/god Neil Gaiman. Neil is well known in indie circles for being the fiance of the cool artist Amanda Palmer.

    I use the sig “sent from my phone” because it’s 1) a signal that I might be sending a short mail because it’s still hard to type long diatribes on a phone without bionic thumbs and 2) less pretentious without that initial “i” (I hope).

  18. joon says:

    and… caught up, at last. (and only an hour to go until the thursday puzzle comes out!) quirky theme from joe k, but i dug it. DID NO HARM kind of grated, though. i once tried to sneak ATE CAKE into a grid, clued as {Obeyed Marie Antoinette}, but the editor quite rightly nixed it. anyway, i may be the only one who thought this was an easy wednesday. that’s slightly gratifying since i’ve been in something of a speedsolving slump.

    sent from my telegraph

  19. Ladel says:

    Oh Amy!

    Goes to show you how swept away this 66 year old was by the thought of that classic automobile.

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