Thursday, 10/21/10

Fireball 6:26
NYT 4:38
LAT 5:09 (Jeffrey)/3:40 (Amy)
CS untimed
Tausig I forgot – between 4 and 44 minutes (Jeffrey)
BEQ 5:58

Dan Naddor’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 5Hah! Crazy. The 2×2 block of black squares in the middle stands in for the word BLOCK (48d) in the eight answers that butt up against it. I knew that WRITER’S by itself made no sense for 7d, that WRITER’S BLOCK made perfect sense, but when the crossings worked out OK, I moved on to the rest of the puzzle. But then the 38a clue vexed me. [Temporary lapse of memory]? How can that be just plain MENTAL? Aha! It’s a MENTAL block. The AUCTION block, an ENGINE block, block PARTIES, a block DIAGRAM, blockBUSTERS, and block LETTERS round out the theme. I like this theme a lot. Just the right amount of head-scratching confusion before the light dawns, and a genuinely surprising incorporation of the black squares into the theme.

By the way, HAH CRAZY was in an old Games magazine puzzle, clued as a [Cry of scorn]. Let the record show that I am not using it as a cry of scorn here, but rather as a whoop of surprise and appreciation. (Also? As crossword fill, TASM. and IOLE and MENO—none of which was a gimme—are all superior to HAH CRAZY.)

Hang on a second. I just this moment noticed that the grid isn’t symmetrical. Yes, the placement of 6-letter answers opposite 7-letter ones should have clued me in earlier. And yes, the fact that an even-numbered chunk of squares can’t be centered within an odd-numbered row or column should also have occurred to me. The deviation from the standard rules didn’t bother me in the slightest while solving.

My favorite fill includes tasty PIE CRUSTS (who am I kidding? I don’t care for most pie crusts), a 1920s POLE SITTER, MR AND MRS, and a MIGRAINE (22d: [What screaming may exacerbate]).

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 30″

Region capture 4Ooh, this one’s a couple notches tougher than other recent Fireball themelesses, isn’t it? Or maybe I’m just off-kilter this evening. Or maybe it’s just that I assumed the [1967 Triple Crown winner] was a race horse and not CARL YASTRZEMSKI.

Did you read Siddhartha for class in high school as I did? If so, then you knew 18a was BUDDHA and you wondered why HESSE wasn’t clued as author Hermann Hesse rather than a German region.

The toughest clues/answers were legion. I was working back and forth with the crossings an awful lot here. SPACELAB, HABANERA, AGLETS with a vague clue, Lorraine BRACCO with a memoir clue (and I didn’t know she’d written a memoir), F TROOP (never watched the show), enlarged-prostate med FLOMAX, pope ADRIAN IV, mathematical NEGATIVE, unknown-to-me trivia for ABBA, an operatic ENZO…yes, I had to work at this one.

The Fargo clue wasn’t too hard. My ex-boyfriend lived across the border from CASS County. He dumped me in 1988, and then I picked up this rebound guy. I’ve been married to the rebound guy since 1991. Apparently I still haven’t recovered from that break-up, because I’m not moving on from the rebound guy.

Favorite fill: The ECDYSIASTS/TCHOTCHKES pair. For the 12d clue, [Ones whose business is taking off?], I was thinking of airlines and gave up on the answer. When I returned to that corner, I had something like *CD**IAS*S and the answer fairly shouted itself at me then.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review

Theme: π

Theme answers:

  • 18A. [Pie flop?] – CHERRY BOMB
  • 23A. [Pie taste-test site?] – CHOCOLATE LAB
  • 39A. [Pie to-do?] – MUD FLAP. Who doesn’t like a yummy mud pie?
  • 50A. [Pie charts?] – APPLE RECORDS. Owned by the Beatles.
  • 60A. [Pie patter?] – MINCE WORDS

Nice how all the answers start with types of pies and are legitimate phrases on their own, but clued in a different  way. (That made sense to me. Feel free to explain it better.)

Other stuff:

Some neat fill, with only one notable exception.

  • 14A. [His epitaph reads "And the beat goes on"] – Sonny BONO
  • 15A. [Faulkner femme fatale Varner] – EULA.  6D. ["Whazzat?"] – HUH?  56D. ["Get real!"] – C’MON! Alternate clues: [4 random letters]; [Anagram of ALUE]; [Sorry, but no real word fits here; please ignore and use the crossings to complete]
  • 17A. [TV role for Bamboo Harvester] – MR. ED. A horse, of course.
  • 22A. [Travelers' burdens] – VALISES. Put some wheels on it, and become unburdened.
  • 32A. [Luther's lang.] – GER. I thought Lex Luthor spoke English.
  • 36A. [Numbers game] – SUDOKU. Actually, Sudoku is a logic game that has nothing to do with numbers. Use shapes, letters, symbols…same game. Oh wait, maybe it is a game that makes you numb.
  • 42A. [One in distress?] – DAMSEL. Nell, for one.
  • 46A. [Apartment manager, familiarly] – SUPE. Which villain always called Superman this? Terra-Man? Mr Mxyzptlk? Toyman?
  • 48A. [Curling setting] – ICE. You laugh at curling, but admit it, you were all entranced watching it during the Olympics.
  • 64A. [Days of Hanukkah, e.g.] – OCTET. 8 Crazy Nights.
  • 66A. [First name in Olympics gymnastics] – OLGA Korbut. 1972. I remember. I’m old.
  • 68A. [Eyewear, in ads] – SPEX. Only in ads for XRAY SPEX.
  • 69A. [Raid target] – PEST
  • 1D. [High-tech debut of 1981] – IBM PC. Did anyone have _BMPC and have their head explode from lack of vowels?
  • 2D. [Grammy winner Jones] – NORAH
  • 3D. [Bridge opening] – ONE NO TRUMP. Nice to have the whole phrase after too many ONE NO’s.
  • 5D. [1980s-'90s slugger Fielder] – CECIL. Blue Jays and Tigers, mostly.
  • 8D. [Longtime ice cream cake brand] – CARVEL. I remember wacky TV commercials.
  • 9D. [Clapton title woman] – LAYLA. Fast or slow?
  • 19D. ["Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-__": Irish lullaby] – RAL.
  • 21D. [Hardly distinguished] – NO-NAME. Like EULA, for one.
  • 24D. [Nostalgic song title word] – AULD
  • 29D. [Tunnel entrance of sorts] – GOPHER HOLE. Awesome fill.
  • 57D. [Guy who "wore a diamond," in the song "Copacabana"] – RICO. Closing number at Barry Manilow’s Las Vegas show I saw. And it was not a numb-er. Was RICO’s last name SUAVE? And now that I’ve put that in your head, my job here is done.

Updated Thursday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “One for All”—Janie’s review

Now this is one sweet follow-up to yesterday’s puzzle. Remember? That was “All for One.” Bruce takes the same substitution gimmick and gives us the other side of the coin, starting with “-all”-word base-phrases and converting them to “-one”-word phrases. Not only does he work from the same word-pool that Randy used, the guys have shared the same grid as well. CrosSynergy constructors are uniquely poised to collaborate this way and the results are dee-lightful! It plays out today this way, as:

20A. ball handlingBONE HANDLING [Prowess of an orthopedic surgeon?].

37A. call on the carpetCONE ON THE CARPET [Result of an ice cream mishap?]. I think this is the strongest of the lot, base-phrase and clue/fill combo. From The Maven’s Word of the Day, we learn that the 19th-century base phrase “stems from the fact that people in positions of authority tend to have carpets or rugs in their offices, and subservient people tend to work in places with bare floors. Being ‘on the carpet,’ then, would mean literally that you’re seeing the boss or another superior, and contextually the expression refers to seeing the boss for purposes of punishment.” Perhaps as a result of “an ice cream mishap”…

55A. stall for timeSTONE FOR TIME [Director Oliver supporting news magazine?]. Hmm. The theme phrase feels more than a tad forced, but given the overall challenge, I gotta give this a thumbs-up.

And to fully complement yesterday’s puzzle, once again, we’ve a puzzle loaded with lively non-theme fill. Today’s eights? GO BACK ON [Fail to keep, as a promise] and the not-necessarily-culinary [Cooks up] for CONCOCTS.

Those triple 6-columns yield up the fine likes of AIR-BED [Sack when camping, maybe] (yesterday we had hot air, which gives me thoughts of a hot air-bed…), STOOGE [Curly or Moe] and HOBNOB [Mingle]; SHINER [Haymaker's result], which may have been picked up, it’s SEEMLY [Appropriate] to surmise, in a [Kerfuffle] or TUMULT.

I like seeing BOTTOM clued as [Inning division], and the general liveliness contributed by EMOTES and RED INK. N-TESTS, those [Banned blasts], tie in with NUKE, even though the clue for that today is [Zap in a microwave]; to [Zap with a beam] is to LASE. (Yesterday we saw zaps in the grid, clued as “blasts with a ray gun.” For my money, this is a clever and welcome way to marry the puzzles further. Both also include ASHE, clued today as [Late tennis star Arthur] and yesterday with reference to the stadium that bears his name.) Note, too, the way nuke sits next to the rhyming UKE [Strings at a luau, for short].

Fave clue? That’d have to be [Cheep digs?] for NEST—a home for birds, though not for [Celtics legend] Larry BIRD.

DINGO, HARPO, TOXIC, AVANT and the classy EVERT all add to the peppy fill.

This is not the first time CS has published thematically-linked puzzles. I hope other solvers find ‘em as pleasing as I do. Thanks, Bruce and Randy, for the enjoyable collaboration here!

Updated again:

Ben Tausig’s “Copy Edits” crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Theme:  It’s all fake

Theme answers:tausig oct 21 10 b

  • 17A. [Ersatz hip-hop slang?] – FAUX SHIZZLE (fo shizzle)
  • 28A. [Ersatz honeymoon destination?] – NIAGARA FALSE (Niagara Falls)
  • 46A. [Ersatz part under the hood?] – RADIATOR HOAX (radiator hose)
  • 60A. [Ersatz edam?] – FRAUD CHEESE (fried cheese)

I needed to convene an emergency meeting of the Fiend Clue Decoder Society to determine the “real” phrases for 17 and 60 across. Fo Shizzle is apparently something those wacky kids say today, fer sure, verily. Fried cheese is also a thing, although I have never heard that used as a phrase by itself. Gentle readers will explain, fo shizzle.

My soon to be ex-car pulled a radiator hoax on me not long ago. And I have been to Niagara Falls – True!

Other stuff:

  • 11A. [MTV employees] – VJ’S. Do they still have VJ’s? Do they still play videos? Or music of any kind? I’m too old to know.
  • 14A. ["The Little Mermaid" villain] – URSULA
  • 16A. [Stout arctic bird] – AUK. Please name an unstout arctic bird.
  • 19A. [1970s Ugandan president Amin] – IDI. Didn’t really need 1970s. Or president. Or Ugandan. Or Amin.
  • 20A. [Thurman who was a Golden Globe nominee for both "Kill Bill" movies] – UMA. UMA, IDI. IDI, UMA.
  • 22A. ["Hooray for my WoW character!"] – W00T!! The kids text this, fo shizzle.
  • 34A. [The "J" in "J.S."] – JOHANN. Bach. I am also a J.S. but JEFFREY refused to fit.
  • 37A. [Chewer's receptacle] – SPITTOON. Chewers now use the bottom of movie seats.
  • 41A. [Threat in some sermons] – HELLFIRE.
  • 44A. [Active peak in Eur.] – MT ETNA. A hellfire in its own way.
  • 53A. [blip.tv thing] – VLOG. Huh? Video blogging? Hey, Amy! Picture it. Diary of A Crossword Fiend – Live!
  • 56A. ["First, ____ harm"] – DO NO. The Google motto. Or the Hippocratic oath. I get them mixed up.
  • 64A. [Some people like their espresso poured over it] – ICE. Weirdoes.
  • 65A. [[Wrong answer]] – BZZT! [[[[Brackets in brackets alert. ]]]]
  • 67A. [New reader's final lesson, perhaps] – XYZ
  • 1D. ["Gossip Girl" dad] – RUFUS. Played by Chaka Khan.
  • 2D. [Used car sales event suffix] – ORAMA. If the president doesn’t get re-elected he can open a used car lot.  Come to the OBAMA-ORAMA!  Yes We Camry!
  • 7D. [Burns series] – JAZZ. Ken Burns, who has also been seen discussing the Montreal Expos and crosswords. My kind of guy.
  • 12D. [Modern martial art] – JUDO. How modern? Is that like the “New Testament” – only 2000 years old. A baby, fo shizzle.
  • 18D. ["That's cool, brah"] – I DIG. This is old. Groovy old.
  • 24D. [How a hurt arm may be kept] – IN A SLING.
  • 26D. [Former Vietnam leader Bao ___] – DAI. Vietnamese leaders have saved many a puzzle.
  • 44D. [Mr. Peanut piece] – MONOCLE. This clue seems dirty, somehow.
  • 52D. [S.H. ___ & Co. (early five-and-dime store)] – KRESS. Did Kress become Kresge which became K-Mart? You know, like Mr. Wal of Wal-Mart.
  • 61D. [Wu-Tang member] – RZA. I understand nothing about this clue. Fo shizzle.
  • 62D. [Christmas meat] – HAM. Being Jewish, I understand nothing about this clue. Does it come with fried cheese?

Updated Thursday afternoon:

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “The Rent Is Too Damn High”

Region capture 6Jimmy McMillan, the New York gubernatorial candidate representing the new The Rent Is Too Damn High party, was the hit of the recent debate among the would-be governors in New York. Brendan riffs on the party name by moving the RENT too damn high—up one row, to be exact, with the four letters that belong in that row shunted down into the long answer from which RENT was moved up too damn high. Cool crosswordy interpretation of the “too damn high” concept.

The overriding thing I took from this puzzle is a craving for Sara Lee POUND CAKE. The other long Down answers are good, but not as tasty. I have forsaken OFFICE MAX for a nearby Staples store. SELF-SERVE is hard to come by in New Jersey, I understand; good thing Christine O’Donnell is in Delaware, not Joisey, as she is morally opposed to self-service. DRYER LINT is a great answer, but I have yet to find a good use for it other than sending it to the landfill in small portions.

Kinda tough puzzle, no?

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18 Responses to Thursday, 10/21/10

  1. joon says:

    whoa. awesome thursday puzzle by the late great dan naddor. once i realized that 6d was AUCTION(BLOCK), i immediately filled in the other seven theme answers… but was still slow for a thursday because i couldn’t crack the NW, where i had TNT for 1a and didn’t know 3d at all. eventually i thought 1d might be ALUMS and changed TNT to AMP and got it all.

    i, too, was thinking horse-racing for the fireball clue, which is really dumb because a) i know baseball a lot better than horse-racing, and i know full well that 1967 was yaz’s triple crown year, and b) i even know a little horse-racing, and i know full well that there wasn’t a triple crown winner that year. secretariat in ’73 was the first in a long time. gah. maybe i should read the clues and think about them. this was definitely a challenging fireball (especially that NW), but it was almost in my wheelhouse… dropping ADRIAN IV in there with no crosses was kinda fun. coulda done the same for yaz and had a really fast solve. ah well. on the other hand, i was always going to need all the crosses for BRACCO (never heard of her, let alone her memoirs) and the NW was stumper-style hard (short vague clues). and if i hadn’t seen FFFFFFFFFFFFFFF in yesterday’s LAT, F TROOP would have been much slower in coming. overall, great puzzle.

  2. NYT: I solved WRITERS early and was looking for a rebus square, especially given the [Wow] clue in NW not immediately yielding an evident three-letter answer. I raced through 48-down too quickly to appreciate its clue’s significance. To use baseball terminology, this puzzle was an impressive changeup.

    Yastrzemski in 1967 is the most recent winner of baseball’s Triple Crown (batting average, HR, RBI). In horse racing, only 11 horses have won that sport’s version of the Triple Crown, and since 1948 only three have done so, all in the 1970s (Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed).

  3. ajaxfam says:

    Great Thursday NYT puzzle. Liked OUIJA, and I’m always impressed when a Greek letter of more than three letters is used. Thought TASM was a bit of a stretch and BLOCK DIAGRAM wasn’t a real winner for me either. Oh well – very good overall.

  4. Don Byas says:

    NYT:
    I had fun doing this one, but for the supererogatory clue for 48d. BLOCK. After that clue the puzzle didn’t even put up a fight. Chick COREA on piano for a weird White House gig with Dizzy Gillespie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCzRXyZL_hc&feature=related

  5. Sara says:

    Even though I needed a lot of crosses to figure out what Triple Crown we were dealing with, I thought the Fireball was pretty easy, thanks to the gimme clue for BARBRA STREISAND. Babs gave me SPACE LAB and most of the middle and the se. I can’t help wondering if there was originally a trickier clue for 8d – probably would have made the whole thing undoable for me.

  6. Meem says:

    Dan Naddor’s legacy puzzles are wonderful. Clever theme fell for me at auction block. Then filled as quickly as I could move pen on paper. Great non-theme fill: piano hinge/bottom round/migraine/pie crusts/pole sitter. And a bonus discovery of no rotational symmetry!

    Chuckled as I went from Dan’s pie crusts to the five pies of the LAT. One For All was an interesting and easy follow-on to yesterday’s All For One. Thanks, Janie, for the “on the carpet” explanation.

  7. Seattle Sam says:

    Thanks for the comment on sudoku being a logic game. I have yet to figure out, though, why my wife can do the sudoku with letters, but falls apart when they are in the usual numbered form. Talk about deep seated mental blocks!

  8. Howard B says:

    Loved the Times puzzle. Just admired the journey through the grid once I figured out the trick. Great grid design.

    The Fireball was just unsolveable for me today. Again, great fill in there, but the center remained unfilled (I think I had somewhere around 15 blanks unfilled in that center), and would remain so even with unlimited time. Too many names I could not infer (and too many blanks left in Barbra Streisand to figure her out as well). CASS, ENVIRONS, ONESTEP, ADRIAN IV, FTROOP, etc. also ungettable to me since not enough crossings. Could solve any of these with crossings, but not as blanks. Just too obscure for my ken. Shame, because I really like this, now that I see it filled in. I can see that some will find this easy as long as they know a few more trivia nuggets than I :). Such is the way of the Fireball.

  9. Gareth says:

    NYT: Clever gimmick! Mixture of really nice and really curious long fill!

    LAT: You missed one theme answer Jeffrey… GOPHERHOLE… Who doesn’t like a succulent gopher pie? Was 56A a deliberate misdirect: SENSORY is the same number of letters as CRANIAL, guess which one I put in and refused to take out for a while! IMO, the EULA you get and never read when you install software is much more well-known, but it appears to be only to me, as it’s ALWAYS Ms. Varner! (Oh and as always, you crack me up Jeffrey!)

  10. Karen says:

    Put me in the group that enjoyed the NYT also. Is that definition of Pax Romana accurate?

    In the Fireball, I just figured that someone named a racehorse after the baseball player.

  11. janie says:

    fireball did not come easily at all — even with the BARBRA… gimme. saw secretariat this week, so — like others here — had *that* triple crown on the mind (even though i knew that ’67 was not a racing triple-crown year…). while i definitely had trouble catching peter’s wave(length), also appreciated the way (with a little help…) everything finally emerged.

    ;-)

  12. Bruce N. Morton says:

    A phenomenal constructor speaking to us from beyond the grave. I find it a bit eerie.
    I didn’t get “piano hinge” at all, I suppose because I don’t think of a piano as a “cabinet,” though, of course it is, in part, and some people are much concerned with the furniture aspect of their piano. Also because I only gave myself 6 mins. or so before I had to go teach. The theme came easily after “writer’s. . .”

    I am being tormented by a clue and answer from a recent puzzle, which I don’t have in front of me, and which I may remember imperfectly. (Maybe I *blocked* it.) I think it was a recent Sat. Stumper. The clue was something like

    {White monopolist?}

    and the answer was

    ONE.

    Does this ring a bell with anyone? Does anyone understand it?

    Bruce

  13. Jeffrey says:

    Bruce: The one dollar bill in Monopoly is white.

  14. Ladel says:

    @Jeffrey

    I mine this place daily for tasty little info tidbits and even try to contribute a nibble or two. The Monopoly answer was deelish, could not find it anywhere.

    Ladel

  15. John Haber says:

    Clever. I had trouble getting started with fill, so I was grateful that the theme was so easy for me. I basically entered the theme words and worked from them, except for LETTER and DIAGRAM, which came more slowly. As soon as I got WRITER’S, which was early, I had it.

    The other long ones were hard for me, as was MENO mosso, and I didn’t know that’s what a pax ROMANA means, familiar as the phrase looked. The NE was my last too fall. (So many jazz pianists, so little time.) I noticed the asymmetry but somehow didn’t figure out that it’s necessitated by the size of the puzzle until I read Amy.

  16. john farmer says:

    Usually with themelesses I start with a few toeholds and work up to the longer fill. Today’s FB, I had the 15s very early, but still found it to be a hard puzzle. The NE was last for me, till I remembered ECDYSIASTS, which I may have learned from a puzzle in the distant past. Like Sara, I had BABS as a gimme, but I suspect Peter couldn’t resist the “Mother Focker” clue, which may be why she was in the puzzle in the first place. The new clue for OTOOLE (“Plenty ___…”) had a Gordonesque ring to it too.

  17. wobbith says:

    @ Bruce -
    “Piano hinge” is a generic term for any long, thin continuous metal hinge.

  18. joon says:

    the stumper clue was {White Monopoly item}. amy blogged it on saturday, including that clue. i don’t think the clue was particularly supposed to make us think of anything other than the board game, but the fact that DIE is much more obvious (and the same length) was pretty sneaky.

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