Tuesday, 8/3/10

NYT 3:52
Jonesin’ 3:39
LAT 3:20
CS untimed

Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 7You can guess my favorite clue/answer combo here, can’t you? It’s right up top at 4a: [One who's devilishly devoted?] is a FIEND, as in…Crossword Fiend. Love it!

The theme is described as THINGS THAT SWING, and there are four of them here:

  • 17a. BASEBALL BATTERS? [They're up].
  • 31a. [Some Wall Street Journal charts] clues STOCK PRICES. But those aren’t the prices themselves, they’re graphs or tables of the prices. Yes? No?
  • 35a. I am seldom among the UNDECIDED VOTERS. [They're waiting to be persuaded], you know. Just learned today that my alderman is not running for reelection despite having had a lock on her seat since 1987. I am decidedly undecided as to which of the candidates (four so far, and the election’s not until 2011) to support.
  • 43a. [Western entrances] that swing are SALOON DOORS. When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle’s house had awesome saloon doors to the kitchen. What kid doesn’t love those?

Is it just me, or is this a Wednesday-difficulty puzzle showing up a day early? I’m undercaffeinated today, so it could be me. Would you believe me if I told you I had a headache?

Highlights:

  • 14a. TENNESSEE is an [Orange Monopoly avenue].
  • 50a. My mom planted the ["Sweet" bloomer] sweet ALYSSUM in our garden when I was a kid. Loved it at the time, but find the scent too cloying now. (I also turned against hyacinths, and lilacs’ status is threatened.)
  • 8d. DEBUNK is clued with [Attack, as false science]. I love a good debunking.
  • 24d. I like the clue [Turned up] because it led me completely astray. I thought it meant “became visible,” as when your misplaced keys turn up, or maybe had to do with upturned noses. If you turn up the volume, it gets LOUD.
  • 36d. [NPR host Conan] is NEAL Conan of All Things Considered. He and Merl Reagle do the color commentary during the A and B finals at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Amiable guy. Did you know he’s married to Liane Hansen, who has Will Shortz on her NPR show each Sunday morning?

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Damage Is Done”

Region capture 6The four longest Across answers end with words for kinds of damage:

  • 17a. [Injury from Fluffy, perhaps] is a CAT SCRATCH.
  • 36a. [Pop-Tarts flavor released in the 2000s] is CHOCOLATE CHIP. Did you know those Nestlé semisweet chocolate morsels bastards have put out a shaker can filled with mini-morsels? Now you can shake chocolate chips onto anything as easily as shaking a little parmesan or salt. Progress!
  • 44a. [1961 album showing Sinatra straightening his tie] is called RING-A-DING-DING! That’s two bits of damage there.
  • 65a. [Two-Face's alter ego, in the "Batman" series] is HARVEY DENT.

You know what? I almost welcome the first little scratch, chip, ding, or dent in my new car. Once there’s a little something, I can live without fear of The First Scratch. You know it’s just a matter of time.

Matt has provided four more long answers that aren’t part of the theme, just for kicks. There’s 21a: YEAR-ROUND, [During every season]; 55a: “THAT’S THAT,” ["I've got nothing else to say"]; 11d: AMOUNT PAID, [Invoice phrase], and 29d: SOUR GRAPES, [Rationalizing from the inept]. Well-played, Jones.


Updated Tuesday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Here Ye”—Janie’s review

Lynn’s puzzle today utilizes one of my favorite gimmicks—adding letters to a well-known phrase to create a new one. The letters today? Look YE to the title and take pleasure in:

  • 17A. BAYER GRAPH [Pictorial results of an aspirin study?]. This one’s a groaner—though I do imagine the finance folks at Bayer have used more than their share of bar graphs in making their presentations before sales reps and stock holders.
  • 27A. DOUBLE LAYETTES [What new moms of twins need?]. On some says, probably those double lattes, too…
  • 43A. OF MICE AND YEMEN [Book about Mickey clones in the Middle East?]. Oh, but I love this one. Am wondering if this was the entry that triggered the theme as a whole. Steinbeck’s work began as novella and has been adapted as a play, a screen play (he did the work on both of these) and an opera (by Carlisle Floyd, which was written after Steinbeck’s death. (Oh, and with reference to the Middle East, the puzzle also yields ARAB [Palestinian, probably] and -ITE [Suffix for Canaan or Israel].)
  • 57A. “BYE-BYE GUNS!” [Taunt to the NRA?]. Ooh, look—a double header—and one cheeky way to round out this most successful theme set. This “taunt” ties in nicely, too, with [Goading words from a challenger], “I DARE YOU!”

There’s lots of lively non-theme fill as well in the grid. It’s August and still a time for an INSECT BITE [Mosquito bestowal] or two—also some [Frosty summer treats] ICES. ON PARADE [Marching, probably], SERENE [Placid] and DABBLE [Participate casually (in)] spruce things up, as does a clue like [Mass producer?] for POPE. My faves though: the placement of OPEN-MINDED [Receptive to new possibilities] right beside IDEALS [Notions of perfection]. Notions of imperfection can be seen in SNAFU [Bureaucratic bungle].

An IDLER is a [Slugabed], and (more’s the pity) probably not someone inclined to enjoy either a RUMBA [Cuban dance] or a VALSE [Lively ballroom dance, French-style]—let alone the products of those two pre-Columbian civilizations that get shout-outs today: MAYA [Builder of Chichen Itza] and INCA [Builder of Machu Picchu].

Gary Whitehead’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 8We’re accustomed to seeing a single short answer in the bottom row that unifies the theme entries. This puzzle expands that to two words in the bottom row: 64a/65a TRACK / BETS are clued […what the starts of 20-, 36- and 53-Across are], and WIN, PLACE, and SHOW can be extracted from longer words in those three entries.

  • 20a. [Cellarmaster's vessel] is a WINE DECANTER.
  • 36a. [Response to sugar pills, perhaps] is the PLACEBO EFFECT.
  • 53a. [It might have a massage setting] clues a SHOWER NOZZLE.

Five more clues:

  • Anyone else go straight for SORE LOSER at 10d ([Bad sport]) instead of POOR LOSER? SORE LOSER is a better answer, more idiomatic, but hey, it doesn’t work with the crossings.
  • I’ve learned of EGBERT, 9d: [__ Sousé, W.C. Fields's "The Bank Dick" role], from crosswords. You like the fake Frenching of the word “souse” to make that surname? W.C.’s characters were pretty much always soused.
  • 30d. [Wealthy Londoners] are NOBS. The word is originally Scots, knab, and is of unknown origin, so don’t hurt your brain trying to figure out what NOB is short for.
  • 33a. With *IF**D in place for [Like many wallets], I feared the constructor lived in a crime-ridden world in which many wallets are LIFTED. Luckily, they’re just BIFOLD.
  • 7d. [Medieval Spanish chest] is an ARCA. Arca is also the NYSE’s electronic trading platform.
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23 Responses to Tuesday, 8/3/10

  1. joon says:

    i definitely also had the sense that i’d slept until wednesday. what a hard puzzle! never heard of ALYSSUM, “sweet” or otherwise. and the cluing was an odd mix of easy and hard. i really, really didn’t like the STOCK PRICES clue for the reason you mentioned.

  2. NYT felt very much Wednesday level, though if this comprises the new meaning of Tuesday I’ll take it. Paula’s puzzles have given me some trouble the last 4-5 times out.

    I saw LUNA at 20-across and thought of Luna Lovegood, a rather important character in the latter Harry Potter books. I’ve also seen SNAPE as an answer a couple times. Not solving all the puzzles Amy does, I’m curious how often any of you see someone from the series other than Harry, Hermione and Ron appear as clues or answers in puzzles.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Cheer up joon. One day you’ll be as fast as me.

  4. Martin says:

    I mentioned a while back that the puzzles I host on my server (Jonesin’, Inkwell and Onion/AV) are being downloaded at exponentially rising rates. The Jonesin’ puzzle, for instance, was downloaded by 9,000 unique IP addresses last week, up from 1,500 three weeks before! The Tausigs are even more popular.

    Looking more closely at my server log, I see that the explosion is Droid hits. It looks like everybody is doing these puzzles on Droid phones. Since this is the premier blog site for these puzzles, some of you have got to be here. Anybody care to delurk and comment? The numbers have me astounded.

  5. Anne E says:

    Wednesday time for me also!

  6. Gareth says:

    Wednesday here too!

    My mother also has ALYSSUM in her garden, not sure about the SWEET part, but once I changed RATS to NUTS I got that no problem.

    MOONPIE was my “what the” moment.

    Theme reminded me somewhat of THINGSWITHWINGS last year…

  7. janie says:

    ditto the “more of a wednesday feel” sentiment. my first fill for MOON PIE? MALOMAR… (and i was so pleased with myself for dredging up the name…). for those who choose to roll their own (or simply wish to know a little more about ‘em [gareth]), here’s a recipe for the former.

    bon appetit!

    ;-)

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Martin, the Shortyz app for Droid is free and downloads those puzzles plus most of the other non-NYT ones I blog (I see LAT, CS, BG, Philly Inq, WSG, BEQ, Onion, InkWell), plus one puzzle I’d never heard of (Thinks.com). So Droid crossword fans are getting exposed to a ton of quality crosswords their local papers don’t run.

    Me, I don’t do crosswords on my phone. I don’t like it when an interface makes me spend too much time entering individual answers.

  9. Howard B says:

    Tuesday / Wednesday, but not too bad. ALYSSUM floored me, since flowering things are not my strong point. I unfortunately seem to mentally group flora as “colorful pretty things”, but I can’t identify most of them by name, except for hyacinths. Even after I Wiki them or see them for sale at the market, for some reason it’s hard to visualize them, and I seem to forget their names or correct spellings.

    I’d remember the alyssum if one was, perhaps, Little Shop of Horrors-sized and made a sudden swoop for me. Oh well, nice word though.

  10. Matt says:

    Martin– I’d guess your server happens to be the default for downloads by some particular Android crossword app. Welcome to the world of ‘explosive’ growth.

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Martin, is this jacking up your server bills? If so, you should put up a page with a PayPal link so people can make donations to support the venture we all rely on.

  12. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I assume that the Spiro Agnew anagram is the famous “grow a penis” devised by Dick Cavett. (Am I allowed to say ‘penis?)

    I built on that by pointing out that if they ever make a movie entitled “The Spiro Agnew Story,” it will anagram to “Grow a short penis yet?”

    Bruce

  13. Sara says:

    Wednesday for sure, and not even a speedy one at that. Like Janie, went first for Malomar.

  14. Matt J. says:

    Wow, that’s good to know about the downloads, at least. :)

  15. Anne E says:

    @Howard: Now you know how I feel about cars. Their names all sound the same… they all feel the same when I’m in them… they all even look the same to me. Montego/Montero/Alero/Ciera/Fiero/Acura etc etc etc… all exactly the same in my brain, regardless of clue (or even, apparently, # of letters).

    Anne, who was kept out of the 2009 ACPT finals by a car make crossing a stupid error on a Roman numeral!

  16. Martin says:

    Amy,

    No, I’m cool with the downloads so I’ll refer donors-to-be to your orange Donate button. It’s running on a machine that’s always on anyway, so I have no incremental expense. I’ve got plenty of bandwidth and .puz files are small anyway. I’m just impressed that smartphones seem to be bringing a new audience to crosswords.

  17. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    I’ll admit I haven’t been faithfully reading the blog every day. May I ask, what happened to MGWCC #113?

  18. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Bob K, Joon had the post scheduled to publish two hours ago but WordPress didn’t post it until I kicked the tires. Go figure. It’s up now.

  19. janie says:

    oops. MALOMAR is wrong on two counts, since the correct spelling is MALLOMAR… ah, well…

    if you don’t know about this treat, you check it out (its cousins, too) here.

    ;-)

  20. Jeffrey says:

    Whippets (described on janie’s mallomar link above) are the greatest cookies ever.

  21. joon says:

    wordpress didn’t post it because i had saved it as a draft instead of clicking “publish.” that’s because i hadn’t finished the writeup (i’d done the meta but not the fill roundup). anyway, thanks for posting it, amy. and bob, sorry the post was late and incomplete.

    jeffrey—some day, but not today. you crushed me on the LAT too.

  22. Mac says:

    Just to comment on phone downloads – I found that phone access has moved me from one or two crosswords a week to several a day. Now if I could just get faster . .

Comments are closed.