Tuesday, 7/13/10

NYT 3:50
Jonesin’ 3:15
LAT 3:14
CS untimed

Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 2Peter’s theme is to spotlight phrases that can be edited down to spell their opposites, using letters in order but spaced out:

  • 17a. [Nice through and through…or not] clues EVERY BIT AN ANGEL, with EVIL in circled squares within. I question how familiarly “in the language” this phrase is. I Googled it and got only 1,800 hits. For comparison, “blizzard in Hawaii” gets 2,400.
  • 27a. [Really digs…or not] clues HAS THE HOTS FOR, hiding HATES. Great phrase!
  • 48a. BEST is hiding in ABSOLUTE WORST, or [Most wretched…or not].
  • 63a. [Speaks with brutal honesty…or not] clues TELLS IT LIKE IT IS, with LIES inside.

The theme would be a touch more elegant if all four entries were hiding negative things, or if it were two and two. EVIL, HATES, LIES…and then the BEST? The dissonance is jarring.

I don’t know what 11d: [Certain vigilante] is NIGHT RIDER. Is this a comic book thing? Someone from literature? Or from real life?

29d was the most mystifying clue for me. I was reading [Defect] as a noun, and that made no sense with an answer beginning SEEKA. Oh! The verb! To [Defect] is to SEEK ASYLUM.

Not sure how many people say TWO TO for 34a: [Fifty-eight past the hour]. The second T crosses 31d: OTARU, a [Japanese seaport] that 99% of non-crosswording Americans have never heard of. And TWO TO’s second O crosses 32d: TOBIT, or [Book of the Apocrypha]. Ooh. Ouch. The other zones of the grid are all okay, but this one kinda hurts.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Waiting to Inhale”

Region capture 1The office building problem of stale air—RECYCLED AIR, not fresh—is used to inspire some “recycling,” or anagramming, of AIR. Those letters are scrambled into their other five permutations, which appear at the end of longer words:

  • 17a. TURKISH LIRA is [Currency in Istanbul].
  • 24a. [2003 Tom Cruise film set in Japan] is THE LAST SAMURAI.
  • 30a. UNFAMILIAR means [Strange].
  • 46a. Another three-word answer, GO ON SAFARI, is clued as [Take a tour of the Serengeti].
  • 51a. [1982 Julie Andrews gender-bender] is VICTOR/VICTORIA.

Favorite bits:

  • 1a. [He gives canned responses] refers to OSCAR the Grouch.
  • 1d. [Prefix for -pus or -mom] is OCTO-.
  • 23d. LUIS [Guzman of "Traffic"] is terrific.
  • 30d. [For checkers, it's black and white] clues a UPC bar code.. No relation to the game of checkers—great clue!
  • 51d. [She used to turn, but now taps] is about VANNA White, who no longer spins plastic rectangles on TV. In a recession, it’s amazing her job hasn’t been automated, isn’t it?

Mystery answer of the day:

  • 67d. DAO [___ De Jing (classic Chinese text)] looks mystifying, but I think this is just the Tao Te Ching in a different transliteration from Chinese.


Updated Tuesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “It Comes to Mind”—Janie’s review

I’m not entirely sure how to connect the theme fill (things that may enter one’s mind) to the title today—do I use the whole phrase or only the last word? Two phrases work in their entirety, two less so. There’s some inconsistency with the cluing, too. The two “whole phrase” examples are clued in direct connection to the theme; the other two aren’t. A little more polishing here and I think the puzzle would have benefited (and my solving experience would have been more than SO-SO [Only average]), but even as is, we get a “heady” sort of solve with:

  • 20A. BRIGHT IDEA [Start of an invention]. Am I imagining it, or was there a TV sitcom character who’d always say (in a withering way), “You and your bright ideas…”? Or was it “big ideas”…? I’m thinkin’ (what’s now) classic fare like The Honeymooners or The Life of Riley. Anyone with a bright idea out there? This, btw, is one of the examples of a theme phrase that works as a whole.
  • 10D. JUST A DREAM [Grammy-nominated song by Carrie Underwood]. This one kinda works with the entire phrase—but not as cleanly as the first example and there’s no sign of the theme in the clue here.
  • 29D. MAIN MEMORY [Data storage area]. Ditto the preceding observations.
  • 57A. FOOL NOTION [Harebrained concept]. The opposite of that bright idea. I really like the way these two bookend the theme and only wish the other two made as natural a match to the fill and cluing.

In and of itself, DELIRIOUS is a juicy bonus entry, but it’s been clued as [Top-ten Prince hit] and not in relation to a state of mind. I liked seeing PARK PLACE in the grid, and also enjoyed its Monopoly-board clue, [It has a mortgage of $175]. That was a lotta MOOLAH [Dough] in the early ’30s. Have those mortgage values changed over the years? This Wiki article gives some insight into what has changed—but no mention of mortgages. (Did you know that “Marvin Gardens” was really “Marven Gardens”?)

Another fave in the clue department: ["Packing"] for ARMED. Hmm. Looks like the quotes here function as a question mark. Though he wasn’t an OGRE like [Shrek, for instance], IAGO ["Othello" role] was definitely EVIL, (the well-clued) [Good competition?]. Finally, I liked the “twice-told tale” feel of STORY for [Every picture tells one] and SAGA [Epic tale].

Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 3I’ve never heard of the second theme entry, but still found the theme to be a solid Tuesday creation. Four unrelated things—person, boat, movie/song title, fictional character—end with various Utopias:

  • 17a. ["I Dream of Jeannie" star] is BARBARA EDEN.
  • 28a. The U.S.S. SHANGRI-LA is a [WWII aircraft carrier nicknamed "Tokyo Express"]. That seems an unlikely name for an aircraft carrier, but there you have it.
  • 44a. [1928 #1 song heard in a 1990 Steve Martin film of the same name] clues MY BLUE HEAVEN. Is that the one where he plays a tent preacher and Debra Winger costars? Not at all. It’s a mobster comedy based on the same guy featured in Goodfellas. Never saw it.
  • 58a. SAL PARADISE is the [Narrator in Kerouac's "On the Road"].

Five clues:

  • 38a. COSMO is a [Mag with a "Bachelor of the Year" contest].
  • 48a. AEIOU is a [Sequence with a Y, sometimes].
  • 4d. ["Without a doubt!"] clues “TO BE SURE.” Great entry, to be sure.
  • 34d. IN A BAD WAY means [Really hurting]. Solidly idiomatic; I like it.
  • 50d. An E-LIST is a [Mass-mailing tool]. Meh.
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11 Responses to Tuesday, 7/13/10

  1. sbmanion says:

    I suppose there may be other NIGHT RIDERS, but my first thought was the KKK, which made the clue a little off-putting.

    Steve

  2. davidH says:

    Wasn’t “Night Rider” a TV show about a guy with a super-car back in the 1980′s? I think it’s being (or has been) remade and re-broadcast. Seems to me he was a vigilante.

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    The show was “Knight Rider.” I suspect nobody in Hollywood wants to name a show after white supremacist terrorists.

  4. NinaUWS says:

    Well, Amy, I feel good knowing that you too were momentarily stumped by “defect.” I thought it was a great clue.

  5. John Farmer says:

    You may not get a lot of hits for EVERY BIT AN ANGEL because its greatest popularity as an idiom probably predated the Internet. To my ear, it has a nice retro feel to it. “Blizzard in Hawaii” doesn’t sound very idiomatic (unless you want to start something). In fact, it sounds imaginary (though that wouldn’t rule out its use, I guess, since “colorless green ideas” was in a puzzle recently).

    NIGHT RIDERs seems to be the name for a variety of real and fictional vigilantes, not just the KKK. The title of TV’s “Knight Rider” was a play on “Night Rider.” If the base phrase was so objectionable, then I’d think the name of the show would have been controversial. I don’t remember hearing about it. (And for the record, I don’t see a problem with KKK or Klan in a puzzle anyway.)

    Nice puzzle today. I thought the theme was terrific.

  6. sbmanion says:

    John,

    It wsn’t KKK itself, but the idea that the night riders were vigilantes, which I have always associated with taking “justice” into their own hands:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigilante

    I do think that the phrase is sufficiently generic to circumvent any objection I might have.

    Steve

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Maybe they were invigilantes for injustice?

  8. Ruth says:

    I might say “Two OF” (the hour) but not “Two TO”. Mostly I’d say “almost (the hour)” I think. I’ve had non-Midwestern people argue that OF in that expression (quarter OF twelve for example) is ridiculous, but to me it just seems normal.

  9. Ladel says:

    Nobody I ever met cared when it was two to any hour except me today when I had of instead of the required to. Maybe when your parking meter is about to expire might work, but most folks deal in bigger chucks of minutes. I’m just sayin’

    Ladel

  10. Karen says:

    Amy, I believe the Steve Martin film you are referring to is Leap of Faith, which I heard last weekend is being made into a musical this year.

  11. pannonica says:

    I’ve had more than one experience that was, in retrospect, a GOON SAFARI.

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