Wednesday, 8/4/10

Onion 4:15
NYT 3:32
LAT 3:23
CS untimed

Liz Gorski’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 10Look at that—a Wednesday puzzle that’s actually published on a Wednesday! It’s an anagram theme in which five one-word anagrams of STONE appear within two-word phrases. There is a certain TURN TO STONE, one might say. This is a nice change from those themes in which a word is anagrammed into mangled chunks of letters that have to span a couple words to mean anything. The tumbled gemstones are as follows:

  • 17a. MENTAL NOTES are [Unwritten reminders].
  • 23a. SETON HALL University’s team is/are [The Pirates of the NCAA].
  • 29a. “THE ONSET” is a poem I’ve never heard of, a [Robert Frost poem about a snowfall]. You can read it here.
  • 43a. A STENO PAD is clued [It may have a spiral binding].
  • 50a. I got stuck on [Oranges, reds and golds] because ***L TONES was shouting COOL TONES at me, and those are definitely warm colors. They are also FALL COLORS.

Highlights:

  • Besides the two 11s paralleling two of the theme entries, there are also four 9s, pairs of them crossing those stacked 11s. Fancy!
  • 14a. [Gorged, gorged and gorged some more, informally] clues ATE UP A STORM. Can one “fast up a storm,” or “nibble up a storm”? Not crazy about having EAT in the same puzzle, but there it is at 42d.
  • 33d. PEPPERONI is an [Alternative to mushroom or sausage]. Make my WEDGY pizza cheese, please.
  • 46d. [Czech currency] is the Czech crown, or KORUNA. I probably have some KORUNA stashed away from my ’97 trip to Prague.

Lowlights:

  • 64a. ONE SENTENCE feels might arbitrary. Sure, [Many a Twitter message] is just that, but…no.
  • Unexciting fill includes 23d: SNEE/[Dagger in "The Mikado"], WSW (though it’s surprising in that it’s got two Ws instead of the more usual two Es of ENE/ESE), prefix CHRONO- and suffix -ZOA (shouldn’t Time-Life be called Chronozoa?), plural abbrevs STDS (though it’s definitely “in the language” with the “sexually transmitted diseases” meaning) and PMS (though that’s definitely “in the language” if you’re talking premenstrual syndrome), and old-school OATER.

Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Region capture 9Summertime and the livin’ is easy. If you don’t cover yourself up like Ron Howard, you might get a TAN—65d: [Many people get one in the summer (and so do this puzzle's theme entries)]. A surprising assortment of words and phrases pick up an extraneous TAN:

  • 18a. “Dem Bums” turn into TANDEM BUMS, or [Seats on a bicycle built for two?].
  • 32a, 36a. […parts of a Scottish drag queen's outfit?] are TARTANS AND FEATHERS. (“Tars and feathers.”)
  • 43a. Some “goyim” expand into a [Question from a computerless chat addict?], “GOT ANY IM?”
  • 49a. [Something that keeps young gardeners entertained?] is a BOTANY TOY. (“Boy toy.”)
  • 58a. The triceps muscle splits in two with [Some instructional (adult-only) vinyl releases from Sting?], TANTRIC EPS.

Cool grid, with a dozen 7- and 8-letter answers outside the theme. I’d talk more about the fill, but ended up talking to my mother just after I finished the puzzle so the puzzle largely dropped out of my head.

Daniel Finan’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 11This constructor offers another slant on the anagram theme. He concocts phrases that fit the “[6-letter word] IN [anagram of that 6-letter word]” mold and clues them fittingly:

  • 20a. [Male goose during hunting season?] is a GANDER IN DANGER.
  • 25a. John MADDEN IN DEMAND would be  a [Sought-after former football announcer?]
  • 46a. [Fencing implement at the shop?] clues RAPIER IN REPAIR. Now, the other three “in ___” bits sound quite familiar, but I would say something was “in for repair.”
  • 51a. [Biblical guy who refused to believe the writing on the wall?] is DANIEL IN DENIAL. I would have gone with some non-biblical Daniel, but that’s just me.

Women in the puzzle:

  • 34a. FEM. is clued as [Like waitresses: Abbr.].
  • 40a. Here’s TRACI [Bingham of “Baywatch”].
  • 9d. JOAN JETT is your famous [Singer with the Blackhearts]. Who’s more badass: Joan Jett or Chrissie Hynde?
  • 11d. [Fr. miss] is MLLE.
  • 25d. [Jason's wife] is MEDEA. This refers, of course, to Jason of the Friday the 13th movies.
  • 29d. [Rush Limbaugh ex __ Fitzgerald] is about as famous a MARTA as you’re going to get. I went to high school with a Marta who did not marry Rush.


Updated Wednesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Three of a Kind”—Janie’s review

Full disclosure: it wasn’t until I completed this puzzle that I caught on to the theme. As it turns out, each of the three theme phrases begins with a homophone (a repeated sound), but there I was looking for three-peat letters—because the first two theme phrases have ‘em. Oh, Jane… Wrong… Anyway, here’s Randy’s sound-alike grouping:

  • 17A. ANTI-FREEZE [Engine protection in winter]. (With three Es…)
  • 39A. ANTE-PENULTIMATE [Like X in the alphabet]. What a great word, plain and simple. Ultimate = the last (Z). Penultimate = the next to last (Y). Ante-penultimate = before the next to last (X). How old were you before you understood that “penultimate” was not the superlative form it’s sometimes mistaken for?… (This word, too, has three Es.)
  • 59A. AUNTIE MAME [Rosalind Russell role]. This classy and classic comedienne received both Tony and Oscar nominations for her portrayal of the iconic aunt everyone wanted to call their own. I suppose some folks in the New England might pronounce this relative as “Ohntie,” but here in the mid-Atlantic region (and elsewhere), we’re goin’ with “Antie”—to reinforce that “three of a kind.” (Only two Es here…)

Bonus fill: TRIO [The Dixie Chicks, e.g.].

There’s another “three of a kind” that today’s puzzle gives us (though certainly Randy couldn’t have known). Yes, for the third day in a row, ERAS is in the grid. In case you didn’t learn on Monday that these are [Prominent periods], or yesterday that they’re [Noteworthy stretches of time], maybe today’s [Historical times] will clear things up for you once and for all…

On the far happier-making side, Randy has included some glorious 10-letter fill. DAY-DREAMED [Went away for a while, as in class], USED-CAR LOT [Where lemons should be avoided] (in new-car lots, too—if at all possible…) and “HOT DIGGITY” [1956 Perry Como song] are terrific. Haven’t thought of “Hot Diggity” in aaaages. So incongruous seeing this YouTube clip. Never was one so cool singing about emotions that are s’posed to be running so hot. And chaste! A perfect ’50s snapshot of its type. Not hard to imagine the words “YES, DEAR” [Spousal response] being uttered very shortly into this pairing.

LYCRA [Stretchy stuff] is a fabric I try to avoid. I also try to avoid men whose clothing is adorned shoulder-to-ankle with SEQUINS [Suit sparklers]. I mean, it may have worked for Elvis, but this? No, thank you!

But yes, thank you for sixes TEA BAG [It holds leaves], RESCUE [Firefighter's feat] and SULTAN [Dubai VIP]. (Btw, 538 miles away— about the distance between Buffalo and Chicago—is where you’ll find the puzzle’s other Middle-Easterner, that SAUDI [Riyadh resident].) And that, dear READER, BRINGS things to a close for today.

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10 Responses to Wednesday, 8/4/10

  1. NYT: I would love to see Prague now and spend some KORUNA. I visited as a college student in 1987, two years before the Velvet Revolution took place. It was a beautiful city even under the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence and it must be fantastic now. I could do without the “Fred and Ginger Building,” though…aesthetically, I’m too much the architectural conformist.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    How about those 6 A’s in the 6th row of the AV puzzle?

  3. Howard B says:

    Whoops, I threw down YDS for the football stat instead of TDS, ending up with the even less famous (because it doesn’t exist) Frost poem “The Onsey”. It took me a minute to find that little typo, even more surprising that it actually was a theme answer. Had to search my grid three times over to ferret it out.
    ATE UP A STORM messed me up a bit at the start. Never heard that phrase before.

    Prague looks fascinating. On the to-do list someday.

  4. Karen says:

    I’ll go with Joan Jett as the most badass rocker woman. And MARTA to me is the Atlanta public transportation, although the Brazilian soccer star Marta’s star is rising.

    I’m going to have to read that Frost poem again in January.

  5. janie says:

    with the heat and humidity creepin’ back up again, that frost poem was a lovely respite. the man sure could write, so thx for the link! refreshing fill in a wonderful wednesday puzzle –

    ;-)

  6. Gareth says:

    Headed on into Thursday for me, but that’s just cos I kept looking for a rebus that wasn’t there! Delightful gridding! 2X long nines crossing a non-theme 11(!) and another theme 11 and only one clunker!! Like how the 11 is completely gratuitous – could’ve made a block @ 2,5 without affecting the grid’s eligibility. So glad 50A was FALLTONES and not FALLTINTS (approaching the word from the opposite direction to you!) which I stubbornly insisted on!

    Elsewhere really loved JOANJETT as an entry.

  7. Anne E says:

    You mean PRAGUU, right Howard? :-) Sorry, couldn’t resist, says IAMAN IDIOT!

    I tried THEWOODS first for that entry, despite the fact that I know perfectly well that it’s actually “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”… which didn’t fit.

  8. Howard B says:

    @notan idiot: Youu know, youu just miswrite onee little vowel in view of a whole lottaa people and it comes back too haunt youu ::)).

  9. SethG says:

    I have some KORUNA stashed away from my July trip to Prague. (It is indeed fantastic.) I stood directly across the street from the building for a few minutes before I even noticed it was there.

  10. Steve says:

    Funny, on the CS I first put in THIRD FROM THE END instead of ANTEPENULTIMATE. Neat coincidence.

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