Friday, 8/27/10

NYT 5:44
LAT 3:32
CS untimed

Corey Rubin’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 13So, it’s…a themeless puzzle…in which two of the entries are 30 letters long, split into stacked 15s. I can work with that. It’s a kinda fun twist on the usual Friday format. Here are the incredible 30s:

  • 14a, 17a. [With 17-Across, encouragement for a trailing team] is “IT‘S NOT OVER UNTIL / THE FAT LADY SINGS.”
  • 57a, 60a. [With 60-Across, risky "Jeopardy!" declaration] is “LET’S MAKE IT A TRUE / DAILY DOUBLE, ALEX.”

And now, here’s the Intersection of First Names of People I’ve Never Heard of section:

  • 24a. [Actress Chandler and others] clues ESTEES. We all know Estee Lauder. Who on earth is Estee Chandler? She’s not a big star by any stretch of the imagination—she doesn’t even have a Wikipedia bio. Given that the crossing was another name I didn’t know, I half-wondered if 24a was ESMEES.
  • 25d. TONI [Lydman of the N.H.L.]? If you go to Wikipedia and type in Toni, the top suspects are Morrison, Braxton, Collette, Elias (?), Basil, and Kukoc. So, hockey fans, is Mr. Lydman crossword-worthy?

Other things I didn’t know, but that were gettable via the clues:

  • 9a. BEEBE, [Deep-sea exploration pioneer]. I went to high school with a kid named Dan Beebe. Any relation?
  • 2d. ATHOL is a [Massachusetts city called Tool Town]. This is because the town has the highest per capita quantity of people you could consider tools. No, it’s because there’s a tool manufacturer there. Writer Athol Fugard is far more familiar to me than this town of 11,000.
  • 48d. EARLE is clued as [1960s Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Wheeler].
  • 50d. I’ve heard of Alan ALDA, of course, but [1985 Oscars co-host with Fonda and Williams]?? That seems weird.
  • 58d. MYA is the [R&B singer with the hit "It's All About Me"].
  • 59d. TLC is the [R&B group with the hit "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg"].

Points of interest:

  • 18a. Medical terminology! TONUS is [Normal muscle tension].
  • 20a. Fresh clue for DADA: [It originated at Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire in the 1910s].
  • 35a. [A.A.A. listings] aren’t ROUTES, they’re B AND B’S. That AND wants desperately to be an ampersand.
  • 36a. Ooh, nice. AT SIGNS are [Parts of e-mail addresses].
  • 61a. My vote for trickiest clue: [Out with the junk, say] clues AT SEA. A junk, of course, is a kind of ship.
  • 6d. I like BOLSTERS because you switch its first two consonants and you get LOBSTERS. The clue is the idiomatic [Gives a shot in the arm].
  • 8d. Another tricky clue: [Lots are in lots] means lots of SEDANS are in parking lots or car dealers’ lots.
  • 10d. Ah, pop culture I know: ENID is the [Often-referenced but never-seen wife on "Scrubs"], married to the head doc.
  • 12d. [Stars' city, informally] is Dallas, the BIG D, home of the Dallas Stars NHL team.
  • 27d. IN HOSPITAL is clued [Like many laid-up Brits].
  • 33d, 35d. [Java setting] is ASIA (home of this Indonesian island), while [Java, e.g.] is a coffee BREW.
  • 43d. [Types a little to the left] clues PINKOS. The opposite, of course, is italics.
  • 56d. Is this the debut of SEXT in a daily newspaper crossword? [Send explicit come-ons by cell phone] is the clue. I thought sexting mostly involved the transmission of nude photos. Yes? No? Perhaps one of you who partakes in sexting can shed some light. Don’t be shy.

Updated Friday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “LOL”—Janie’s review

LOL, as I’m going to guess most of this audience knows, is text-speak for “laugh(ing) out loud.” Now while Ray’s puzzle has its amusing moments (like the excellent [Hails from Rocky Balboa] for “YO”S), he uses this initialism primarily to tip us off to the puzzle’s gimmick: the initial letters of the three words of each of the three theme phrases will follow the L___ O___ L___ pattern. Comme ça:

  • 20A. [Give a slap on the wrist] LET OFF LIGHTLY. No need for corporal punishment, thank you very much.
  • 37A. [Take punishment to heart] LEARN ONE’S LESSON. A good idea. Even (or maybe especially) if one has been let off lightly.
  • 51A. [Basket contents, perhaps] LOAD OF LAUNDRY.

Interesting how none of the theme fill really suggests a reason for LOL… For that, you might want to look to a grid combo like the symmetrically placed HALF MOON and STREAKER [Nude runner] (though I suppose where streakers are concerned, that’s more likely to be a full moon…).

I enjoyed the snarky feel of SNIPED [Made cutting remarks] and AGLARE [Staring fiercely]. They make for a nice contrast to SOFTIE [One with a big heart].

I also like the way the fill for [Latin singer Anthony], MARC, sits above the fill for [Latin I conjugation part], AMAT—as in “Marc J-Lo amat.” “Latin” does double-duty here, first describing an ethnicity, then naming a classical language. Wordplay in the clues is always appreciated!

Also appreciated: the longer fill ARTICULATE, here a verb and not an adjective, meaning [Find words for]; and STAKING OUT [Keeping under surveillance], ordinarily not an occasion for “lol”!

Mike Peluso’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 14The common cold has sapped my will to blog this morning. I didn’t have the same reservations about the theme that PuzzleGirl did, but I was not quite perky enough to notice that -ITY was added to two singulars and two plurals. When I did the puzzle last night, I saw it as “add -ITY or -SITY word endings,” which is ridiculous because -SITY isn’t a word ending. See? I’m impaired by the rhinovirus. So go read PuzzleGirl’s post at L.A. Crossword Confidential, because that’ll make a lot more sense than anything I say.

I liked 2d: ALEXA, but not because it’s the name of Christie Brinkley and [Billy Joel's daughter]. My Twitter friend Alexa Stevenson published her memoir this month, Half Baked. If you like smart, funny writers (she’s been likened to Calvin Trillin), or gripping odysseys through infertility treatment and the world of premature babies, or non-annoying tales of personal growth, buy a copy of Half Baked. (If you like all three of those things, buy two copies and give one to a friend.)

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12 Responses to Friday, 8/27/10

  1. Gareth says:

    OK, the last 2X15 is really cute, but both were complete mysteries to pick around for the longest time. But yes, a fun twist! Jeopardy! is not something that has ever aired here but I’ve picked up stuff from you guys and elsewhere. Very, very confused about 27D – are Americans never INHOSPITAL – huh – are you all Chuck Norris or something??? Last section to fall was top-left – still kicking self that couldn’t get TONUS (my mind: it’s tone – that’s too short. repeat).

  2. joel says:

    Hockey fan here….never heard of Toni Lydman…..obscure even for me

  3. HH says:

    “Very, very confused about 27D – are Americans never INHOSPITAL – huh – are you all Chuck Norris or something???”

    Rtpical, we’re “in THE hospital”.

  4. HH says:

    (Meant to write “Typically” in previous post.
    Memo to self — stay away from computer before coffee kicks in.)

  5. Karen says:

    Or the Americans are hospitalized.

    Lucky guesses on DADA and ENID broke open for me the fat singing lady. I couldn’t get vaccinate out of my mind for the shot in the arm clue. Especially since flu shots are now available at our local pharmacies. Favorite answer–PINKOS

  6. joon says:

    the stacked 30s are incredible. i had a tough time teasing the top one out after i put SPACES in for SEDANS (which seems to fit the clue much better, actually—SEDANS is a pretty arbitrary answer), but i’m deeply impressed by the construction. how does one even think to pick out lively 30-letter answers, let alone put them into the grid in 2×15 stacks? amazing.

  7. Angela says:

    Brits say “In hospital.” i.e. “My husband is in hospital.”

    Americans say: “In the hospital.”

  8. bob stigger says:

    My daughter used to live in Athol, which is a seedy little town. I suggested she take a Magic Marker to the road sign and make it R-ATHOL-E.

  9. Duke says:

    THe entire upper right corner was names with too many more throughout. I liked the 15s, but the dependence on names for the fill took away some of the joy. The Jeopardy answer somehow was the first thing I filled in so the bottom half went quickly. But the top section was slow in coming. I could’ve kicked myself when the 30 letter was so obvious. I got off to a bad start putting in OAHU and OVEN for awhile and had no help at all on the right side. Love EVACUEE!

  10. Jeff S. says:

    Except for MAUI, MITT, INFUSED WITH, and RYNE the entire top third was completely blank for me. I don’t think I’ve had that much white space since the first year I started doing NYTimes puzzles.

  11. Sam Donaldson says:

    Joon’s right: Corey Rubin’s construction is pure genius. Will this get some love come Oryx time, or does its summer release hinder its chances?

  12. John Haber says:

    I had a real slow start, and the obscurity throughout was notable (like, yes, TONI), but I have only myself to blame for not quite finishing. Four spots left small gaps. One was crossing the unfamiliar ATHOL with LOSE, where I was thinking “blitzed” as in drunk and even in football associate it just with a strategy or at worst a sacking rather than a loss, but I could still have guessed it.

    For I SAW crossing IAMS, I didn’t get the joke and hadn’t heard of Pedigree, but it was again guessable, I suppose, as both fills are crosswordese. Finally, while the crossings in the tiny SE corner were all doable, even if SEXT wasn’t quite idiomatic to me (although I’d heard of “sexting” actually), I didn’t know the Jepaordy idiom. (In my childhood, the last time I bothered with the TV show, there weren’t true and untrue daily doubles. And somehow I didn’t make the connection to “Alex.”) Still, it again would not have been hard to guess.

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