Sunday, 6/20/10

Reagle 9:44 (sooo tired)
NYT 8:45
LAT 8:15
BG 7:42
CS 15:37 (Evad)/4:02 (Amy)
WaPo Post Puzzler tba—Oh, no! My post on this vanished! I forgot to publish it! Um, it took me 7:something, and I loved the puzzle! Frank Longo’s themeless puzzles are so great. The fill! The clues! The delightful AHA moments all over! One of my favorite themelesses of 2010.

Happy Father’s Day to the papas out there!

Todd Gross and Ashish Vengsarkar’s New York Times crossword, “Publishing Trade”

Region capture 18The publishing trade gets reinterpreted as published book titles in which two letters are traded to change a key word into something altogether different:

  • 23a. {“Carson’s Successful Safari”? [Dalton Trumbo]} clues JOHNNY GOT HIS GNU (Gun).
  • 32a. {“Big Pile of Dirt”? [Charles Frazier]} is CLOD MOUNTAIN (Cold). Cute.
  • 58a. {“Battle Backstabber”? [Sun Tzu]} is THE RAT OF WAR (Art). Well done.
  • 70a. {“Secretive Student Monitor”? [John le Carré]} is A PREFECT SPY (perfect). The “student monitor” sense of PREFECT is labeled “chiefly British” in some dictionaries.
  • 97a. {“Endless Streams”? [David Foster Wallace]} clues INFINITE JETS (Jest).
  • 108a. {“Football Team Leaves L.A.”? [Ernest Hemingway]} is A FAREWELL TO RAMS (Arms). Nice.
  • 16d. {“Renaissance College Girl”? [Dan Brown]} clues THE DA VINCI COED (Code). Oh, how I loathe “coed” as a noun. Retro sexism.
  • 48d. {“Head Secretary”? [William Golding]} clues LORD OF THE FILES (Flies).

The theme’s all right. Didn’t blow me away, and from my perspective Dalton Trumbo isn’t quite at the same level of fame as the other writers (though his name sounds terrific).

Because it’s on the late side, just 10 more clues:

20a. {“Ale” for the underaged} is CANADA DRY ginger ale.

46a. The {British coin discontinued in 1984} is the HALFPENNY. I wonder what its purchasing power was compared to a U.S. penny’s purchasing power today.

50a. Ah, good one. {Have no input?} clues FAST, as in having no food intake.

69a. {Caustic soda, to a chemist} is NAOH. Or, really, NaOH.

78a. Really? Did I know this? ATTILA is a {Verdi opera}?

92a. {Letter of indictment?} is the SILENT C in that word.

2d. ASONIA is {Tone deafness}. With this and SANSEI ({Grandchild of Japanese immigrants}) crossing ANIS ({Spanish liqueur}), yow. Trouble spot?

24d. YVONNE is the first name of {Batgirl player Craig}. I don’t  know about you, but I’m pretty certain I’ve never, ever, heard of her.

38d. I knew this, but needed the crossings to dislodge it from my head. The {Company whose logo contains its name crossing itself} is BAYER. Can you make a word square with BAYER crossing itself at the Y?

50d. This just plain looks wrong. {Lean, as meat} clues FATLESS. This is, in fact, a dictionary-grade word, but it’s so weird-looking.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “The Origins of Fatherhood”

Region capture 19Friday’s Wall Street Journal puzzle by Liz Gorski had phrases whose words started with PA. Merl’s puzzle focuses on POP, with P, O, and P being the initials of the three words in each theme answer. Merl being Merl, there are 10 theme entries and eight of ‘em are stacked (overlapping by at least 3 letters) with other ones. We’ve got a POSITION OF POWER and the is-that-really-a-unit-of-meaning PIECE OF PROPERTY at the top. Next up are PLASTER OF PARIS and the game show options PASS OR PLAY. A professorial PUBLISH OR PERISH and a dry cleaner’s PLANT ON PREMISES are both smooth. POT OF PASTE sounds just plain weird and I wonder if anyone is still using paste, because my son has been using glue for school projects since the get-go. PAPER OR PLASTIC, perfectly in-the-language. POSTOP PROCEDURE is the odd man out because (a) “postoperative” is a single word amd (b) I’m having trouble summoning up an image here. What PROCEDURES are done POSTOP, or after surgery? The last theme answer, PICK OUT PRESENTS, isn’t quite in-the-language and crap! I should have done this puzzle earlier and picked out a nice gift with my son.

Updated Sunday morning:

Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

cs620 Hi folks, and Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there. I attribute a lot of my interest in puzzles to my father’s analytical mind. (He was a lawyer.) He was also mad for all kinds of sports, and though I haven’t embraced them with his passion, any interest I have in them has rubbed off from him.

Speaking of sports, I had the most difficulty in the NW of Tyler’s themeless (the last 5 minutes of my time), shifting between HIT and RBI before RUN for “Shutout ruiner.” There have been 2 perfect games so far this season (and perhaps even more press about the recent near-perfect one), so I confused a no-hitter with a shutout. (Only runs or RBIs spoil a shutout.) Having that H in there caused me not to see BONUS ROUND (“Game for the winner”). Also, having NINOS for NENES (“Kids, in Córdoba”), the vague clue of “Free” for UNPEN and not knowing of the SHEDD Aquarium led me down my personal road to ruin. (Tyler lived in Chicago recently, so I cry foul on that last clue!)

Other than the NW, the rest fell pretty smoothly; a few items of note:

  • “First of fifty” clues the state of DELAWARE
  • NEVERMIND‘s clue skews more to Tyler’s generation (“Best selling Nirvana album”) than mine (“Emily Litella’s catchphrase”)
  • LAST APRIL (“The previous spring, say”) wasn’t hard to get, but I do wonder if I’m ready to open the floodgates to any LAST/NEXT {insert month/day of week here} in my puzzles. What do you say, puzzle-land?
  • “Two and three, for two” was hard to understand, even when I saw PRIMES fall from the crossers. Is one also a prime number? I guess not. Left out ONE was still invited to the party, though, with an equally mathy clue: “It’s its own square,” i.e., 1×1 is still 1.
  • I tend to forget that Dick CHENEY was Chief of Staff under Ford, before his more recent Desert Storm and Halliburton days. If it weren’t for the receding hairline, I wouldn’t have recognized him in this picture from the mid-70s on Jerry’s left. Bonus points for identifying who is to his right.
  • “The Blackboard Jungle” novelist EVAN HUNTER wrote crime novels under the pseudonym of Ed McBain. His given name was Salvatore Lombino.

Show some appreciation to your dads out there for all they have done for you!

Julian Lim’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Course Humor”

Region capture 20There’s no coarse humor here—just golf course humor. Seven long phrases (one of ‘em 21 letters long) are clued as if they pertain to golf, as each includes a word that also has a specific meaning in golf lingo:

  • 23a. [Golfer's excuse for a bad chip shot?] is IRON DEFICIENCY, as in a shortcoming involving certain golf clubs.
  • 29a. [Golfer's shot into a water hazard?] is a golf STROKE OF MISFORTUNE.
  • 49a. [Golfer's lament about failing to recognize different ball positions?] clues “I CANNOT TELL A LIE.” Ooh, that’s a good one.
  • 65a. [What a golfer who's not playing well doesn't do?] is GET IN THE SWING OF THINGS. Nice to see a 21 stretching across the grid.
  • 84a. [Mind-set for a golfer wary of sand?] is a BUNKER MENTALITY. Great entry, golf or no.
  • 97a. [Golfer's slicing tee shot?] is a DRIVE AROUND THE BEND, which means “drive crazy” if you’re not talking about driving a golf ball crooked.
  • 109a. [Golfer's admission after missing fairways?] is I HAD A ROUGH TIME (in the rough).

The last part of this puzzle to fall was the first part I tried to tackle—the 1-Across corner. So many dead ends there!

  • 1a. BREW PUBS is great, but without crossings, [Some bars] is mighty vague. Sandbars, iron bars, candy bars, chin-up bars, parallel bars…
  • 20a. [Communications collectible] clues RADIO SET. This sounds like a 1950s thing. Plus, when I see “collectible” in a clue, my mind turns directly to CEL.
  • 1d. [Sea cell] clues a shipboard jail cell, the BRIG. I had ALGA on my mind.
  • 5d. [Cast intro?] is trickier than [Cast prefix] would be. It’s POD, as in podcast.
  • 6d. ["___ the force…"] suggests both “MAY the force be with you” and the no-words-lopped-off “USE the force.” I chose wrong. Midichlorians especially weak this morning.
  • 7d. Ouch. An archaic word with no hint of its rarity is clued with [Hoodwink]. This clue BEFOOLed me.

Favorite fill:

  • 29d. “SIR, NO, SIR!” is a [Soldier's barked denial].
  • 82d. [Curacao's chain] is the ANTILLES.
  • 120a. ED NORTON is a [Sitcom sewer worker] from The Honeymooners.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s six-week-old Boston Globe crossword, “Coinage”

The oddball theme is fun: Emily and Henry have coined a 21-letter word, UNVIGINTIGRAMMATIZING, and defined it with three other 21-letter entries: It’s a SESQUIPEDALIANISTICAL / HABIT OF INVENTING WORDS / USING TWENTY-ONE LETTERS. The UN and VIGINTI parts of their coinage mean “one” and “twenty.”

Favorite clue:

  • 68d. [Quarter-deck?] clues SUIT, as in a SUIT of cards that accounts for one fourth of the deck.

Region capture 21Here’s the solution to this marvelous puzzle.

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16 Responses to Sunday, 6/20/10

  1. LARRY says:

    Amy – Re the Sunday NYT puzzle, I wonder if you could put a word in to Mr. Shortz to remind him (vis-a-vis 86A) that “TAMAL” (not “TAMALE”) is the singular form – the plural is “TAMALES”. I know that lots of non-Spanish-speakers make this mistake, but that doesn’t make it right.
    The last answers I got were DIS and DAT, cleverly clued.

  2. From the NYT:

    I had heard of YVONNE Craig…I’m pretty sure she portrayed Batgirl in the ’60s Batman TV series. And PREFECT as student monitor became evident from its frequent use in the Harry Potter book series.

    And on a practical note, I dumped several bags of mulch on my house’s front landscaping last night but have not yet raked them evenly over the surface…so for a short while longer I have a few CLOD MOUNTAINs to behold out the front window.

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Larry, English dictionaries list the singular as “tamale” but show the Mexican etymology with “tamal.” I’m afraid your battle was lost long ago. One wouldn’t want to talk about “a tamale” in a Mexican restaurant unless one wanted to look dorky, but if one referred to a person as a “hot tamal” one would sound equally dorky.

  4. pauer says:

    HAGEN/GARE was a guess for me, but I guessed right. Fun puzzle, Todd and Ashish!

    And since you asked:
    DEBUT
    ERASE
    BAYER
    USERS
    TERSE

  5. Jeffrey says:

    Yvonne Craig was a gimme.

    http://bit.ly/bUGbCi

  6. Jan (danjan) says:

    Jeffrey – a gimme for me, as well.

  7. But then, who would have just one tamal in a Mexican restaurant? A kudo to Amy anyway for clarifying. (That’s a joke – no flames please. Actually my spell checker flags kudo but not kudos. A kudo for it too.)

  8. Karen says:

    I’m bad at faces but I’ll guess that’s Bob Newhart in with Cheney. Tyler’s puzzle was up there on the difficulty scale for me today.

  9. Howard B says:

    @pauer: I also had the HAGEN / GARE crossing correct. On only the fifth guess, too! :)

  10. The gentleman with President Ford and Mr. Cheney would be none other than Donald Rumsfeld.

  11. John Haber says:

    I got everything, but for me the puzzle was the worst of both worlds. Ideally, I’d have a fill without all the trivia like YVONNE, EMERIL, ALANA, CLASS a, Andrea Bocelli, OXY-10, Ross on “Friends,” HAN, RYA, the odd CORKY rather than “corked,” Gotti, and I’ll just leave it at that. Junk from one end to the other.

    On the other hand, I’d ideally want a theme that dawned on me with a big smile, whereas this theme was obvious at first glance, and I entered theme answers right away without crossings. (Amy, I knew the Dalton Trumbo book but not Charles Frazier. Sorry, don’t read enough best sellers.) I know enough French, so GARE was a gimme. Entered DIS and DAT, but without confidence that it couldn’t be something more natural.

    I actually did have a mistake, with “cal” (calendar) for my spreadsheet and tried to make sense of “bass,” but the alternative isn’t so great either.

  12. anon says:

    amy could you please post the WaPo sol’n grid, if nothing else?

  13. joon says:

    late to the party again, but i just wanted to say how much i liked the WP, CS, and LAT puzzles today. two fantastic freestyles from tyler and frank (the latter with craaazy letter sequences), and julian’s puzzle was naddoresque, which is high praise. some great puns and the grid was wonderfully open with its low word count. once i escaped the NW corner, i blew through it like dan feyer on horse tranquilizers. (seriously, he did it in 4:35. how sick is that?)

    GARE is a french 101 word, but it’s also a word that non-french speakers who have traveled to montreal or paris would probably recognize. i took french in high school, but i would know the word anyway because i’m a big fan of impressionist art, and they were pretty much all captivated by the gare st-lazare. monet’s depictions are particularly breathtaking. no idea who this HAGEN is though.

  14. HH says:

    “TAMAL (not TAMALE) is the singular form – the plural is TAMALES. I know that lots of non-Spanish-speakers make this mistake, but that doesn’t make it right.”

    And if the solving audience were largely Spanish-speaking, you’d have a point.

  15. Jan says:

    (CS) Had the most awful time in the SW, being absolutely certain that “Wilson of Wilson Phillips” was CASSIE, thinking mistakenly of Cass Elliott, also of Mamas and Papas fame, but a generation back. It didn’t help that 4 of the 7 letters matched! Finally tried the “question everything” approach. Maybe next time I’ll try that sooner?

  16. Howard B says:

    Joon – you know, after strugging with GARE, later that day, I’m reading over a travel itinerary and Paris travel guide, and of course Gare Nord is the train station in Paris included in the trip itinerary. I mean, on the same day as the puzzle. Had I done these two things in reverse order, no problem.

    You’ve got to love that – when a name/word you’re not familiar with gives you trouble, and not long afterward, that same term pops up in a show, in conversation, a few pages ahead in that book you’re reading, etc.

    @Jan: I can’t tell you what a time I had trying to pry her name out of my brain. CARRIE? CAMMIE? TAMMIE? “Hoooollld on for one more clue…” Arrrgh! I know the feeling :).

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