Thursday, 11/4/10

Tausig 7:32 (Jeffrey)
NYT 5:04
Fireball 5:01
BEQ 4:06
LAT 3:47 (Jeffrey)
CS untimed (Janie)

Mike Nothnagel’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 5If you’ve got a {HOLE} PUNCH handy, go ahead and print this puzzle out and punch it full of holes. Nine holes, to be exact. (And a golf course’s NINE  {HOLE}S are in the grid at 63a.) So Mike’s put 18 HOLE rebus answers into this puzzle, and each and every time HOLE means “hole,” so you really could just punch out the holes. There’s no instance of, say, W{HOLE} or C{HOLE}STEROL. Excellent concept and execution.

The HOLEs are all at least somewhat familiar: {HOLE} PUNCH/{HOLE} CARD, POT{HOLE}S/PIN{HOLE}S, AIR{HOLE}/POST {HOLE}, LOOP{HOLE}/FOX{HOLE}, KNEE{HOLE}/EAR{HOLE}, {HOLE} IN ONE/RAT{HOLE}, violin F {HOLE}S/ARM{HOLE},SPY {HOLE}/SINK{HOLE}, and NINE {HOLE}S/EYE{HOLE}S. Holey cow!

While I am not besotted with ACTS NAIVE as an entry, nor NTS, I love the DIANA ROSS and the SUPREMES combo, the OPAQUE/QUIZ crossing, and the overall smoothness of the fill despite the inclusion of 18 theme answers and nine HOLEs. Good stuff, Mike.

Francis Heaney and Patrick Blindauer’s Fireball crossword, “Swap Meet”

Region capture 4In “Swap Meet,” two words that meet in a familiar phrase (or word) swap places and meet up again in another phrase. Each word pair occupies neighboring entries in the grid. PACK RAT flips to RAT PACK, and ARMSTRONG to STRONG-ARM. OWNERSHIP is solid, but SHIP OWNER feels arbitrary. FAST BREAK and BREAKFAST are good. TRACKSIDE is a word I wasn’t familiar with, but it’s legit; it flips to SIDETRACK, both a verb and a lovely gay bar near me (Evad took me there the last time he was in town). A dreary WORKHOUSE swaps with the equally dreary HOUSEWORK (this is no criticism of the entries, mind you). Falstaff’s friend PRINCE HAL reverses to [Noted Broadway producer] HAL PRINCE. PINHEAD is fun and flips to a bowling lane’s HEAD PIN, which is not a term I’ve heard.

Cool theme. The eight pairs of words occupy 68 squares and account for almost half of the Across entries, which makes it a big theme but not so bloated that you end up with lousy fill. In fact, the fill’s dang smooth. Take a SNOOZE over YONDER. I’ll put you ON REPORT if you start a RACE RIOT, TWEETY Bird. ICE RINKS get a tricky clue, [Site of camel executions]—as in a figure skater successfully performing the Hamill camel.

Well played, Messrs. Heaney and Blindauer.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Moving Around”—Jeffrey’s review

Tausig nov 4 10

Theme:  Take a phrase ___ing  ____ and flip the parts around the “ing.”

Theme answers:

  • 18A. [Removing stems and seeds?] – STONING STEP (stepping stone)
  • 28A. [Steam whistle?] – BOARDING SOUND (sounding board)
  • 46A. [Vegas?] – STRIPPING LAND (landing strip)
  • 60A. [Cruel blogger's device for disciplining employees?] – POSTING WHIP (whipping post)

Other stuff:

  • 4A. ["___ Griffin's Crosswords"] – MERV. Both MERV and the show have sadly left us.
  • 16A. [Halloween yard props] – NOOSES. Too late. No more Halloween references until next October, please.
  • 20A. [Clinton group in the 1970s] – P FUNK/21D. [Sheets used in sushi] – NORI. The “N” crossing was unknown to me. I even tried C and was relieved to find it was wrong. The reference is to George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic. Before he became president.
  • 24A. [Huge reference: Abbr.] – OED. Obese Eaters Directory.
  • 26A. [Ohio city where Clark Gable lived] – AKRON. Do we have to know where every actor once lived now?
  • 38A. ["Take On Me" band playing their final shows this December] – A-HA. They had another hit called…um…wait…hmm…
  • 40A. [Yank's currency: Abbr.] – USD. The Canadian dollar (CAD) is worth $0.9911 U.S. dollars (USD) as I type this. You should start using loonies.
  • 49A. [Title in the name of some crappy margarita joints] – SENOR/50A. [Words of confession] – I AM. I am certain I could not tell the difference between a crappy and a nice margarita joint.
  • 56A. [Subject of many a 59-Down photo] – LOHAN/ 63A. [Subject of many a 59-Down photo] – ASS/59D. [Apt to be viewed with a finger on the ESC key, say] – NSFW. Like the pictures in this video.
  • 65A. ["Livin' la Vida ___"] – LOCA
  • 67A. [What a flirter might give a flirtee] – THE EYE. So can you get away with a word (flirtee) in a clue that you can’t put in the grid? What’s the rule? Joon? Amy? Sam? Bueller? Ben?
  • 68A. [White's genre] – SOUL
  • 5D. [Ammonia inhalant carrier] – EMT. Among other stuff, I’m guessing.
  • 6D. [An emcee may ask a crowd to raise it] – ROOF. You can fiddle up there.
  • 7D. [Expensive for being used, perhaps] – VINTAGE. At what point does my old junk become vintage?
  • 10D. [Johnny Cash's daughter] – ROSANNE
  • 19D. [Reactions to spiders] – ICKS. Icky answer.
  • 25D. [Gets started without hesitation] – DIVES IN
  • 27D. ["Il barbiere di Siviglia" composer] – ROSSINI. This sounds just like the “Rabbit of Seville”. Anyone know which came first? And do you create the clues first or the grid?
  • 28D. [Key for the theme song to "Ghostbusters": Abbr.] – B MAJ. Do constructors have a list of all keys and related songs? Do you call someone? Who you gonna call?
  • 32D. [Tony Micelli portrayer on "Who's the Boss?"] – DANZA. Tony sings “Umbrella” on the ukelele.
  • 36D. [Nu metal band whose name is written with a backwards "R"] – KORN
  • 39D. ["___ now!" ("Seinfeld" exclamation)] – SERENITY
  • 43D. ["I guess everyone wins today!"] – IT’S A TIE! Um, haven’t you heard about overtime?
  • 45D. [Red Muppet] – ELMO
  • 47D. [Extremely basic game] – PONG. I loved PONG.
  • 48D. [Tabloid flame] – GAL PAL. We are close to NSFW land again.
  • 52D. [Yellow bear since 1926] – POOH
  • 58D. [Region with heavy monsoons] – ASIA. Also a region with every other possible kind of weather.

Allan E. Parrish’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LAt nov 4 2010Theme: Under ____ and Key

Theme answers:

  • 20A. [See 50-Down] – CERTAIN WINNER
  • 32A. [See 50-Down] – HAIR CLUSTER
  • 39A. [See 50-Down] – CANAL DEVICE
  • 48A. [See 50-Down] – WRESTLING HOLD
  • 50D. [Clue for 20-, 32-, 39- and 48-Across] – LOCK

Looks like a Jeopardy category, where all the questions are “What is a lock, Alex?”

Other stuff: The fill is pretty solid, overall.

  • 1A. [Home of Brigham Young University] – PROVO, Utah.
  • 6A. [__ Mahal] – TAJ
  • 15A. [Ambient music pioneer] – ENO
  • 16A. [Swindler with a scheme named for him] – PONZI. You’ve made it in swindler-land when they name scheme after you. Like Paula Phish.
  • 17A. [Hemlock, for one] – EVERGREEN. Bonus LOCK! Planned?
  • 19A. [Grain disease] – ERGOT. Does hemlock get ERGOT?
  • 23A. [Battery, bond or baseball club designation] – AAA. Three B’s describing 3 A’s. A favourite in ABABA.
  • 27A. [Libel and slander disputes are part of it] – CIVIL LAW
  • 38A. [Old-fashioned get-together] – BEE. More B’s.
  • 43A. ["Beanz meanz Heinz," e.g.] – AD SLOGAN. Not a good slogan, but a slogan it is.
  • 56A. ["The Dick Van Dyke Show" regular] – ROSE MARIE
  • 1D. [Minute segment of a min.] – PSEC. You can put any letter before the SEC and this would work. Like those Grafton novels.
  • 3D. [Upper, in Ulm] – OBER. I wanted Uber.
  • 4D. [Spinal column component] – VERTEBRA. Literally, green bra.
  • 8D. ["Help Me" vocalist Mitchell] – JONI. Canadian content!
  • 10D. [Maker of EverPure shampoo] – L’OREAL
  • 11D. [Former Caltech sr., perhaps] – ENGR. Why sr.? Don’t they have to go to all of the years?
  • 13D. [Little thing to pick] – NIT. Not around here.
  • 24D. [Ancient queendom] – SHEBA. Is the kingdom called HEBA?
  • 30D. [It started as Standard Oil of Indiana] – AMOCO
  • 41D. [Ridd's love, in a Blackmore romance] – DOONE. Who knew Ridd? Had you read the book?
  • 42D. [They're hard to figure out] – ENIGMAS. If you don’t like ENIGMAS, you are at the wrong blog. Move along.
  • 51D. ["Deal __ Deal"] – OR NO. Howie Mandel. More Canadian content.
  • 53D. [Bygone Tunisian rulers] – DEYS. Was Susan Dey a descendent? Is partridge a Tunisian word? Why am I asking so many questions in this post?


Updated Thursday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “After Glow”—Janie’s review

This is one of those puzzles that has a GLEAM [Sparkle] to it no matter how you look at it. Even that gleam is a bit of a bonus, complementing a puzzle that specializes in words that are associated with the title’s “glow.” We get a little tricky misdirection with the title, however, as these are not words that follow glow—nor are they necessarily synonymous with the word. They are, though, all in the same family. Tony has not only given us four phrases that end with a glow-associated word, but each of these phrases is also the name of a popular song. And oh, yeah—not only is the fill (theme and non-) nice and scrabbly, but the puzzle is a pangram, too. I think you’ll be all smiles to spend some time with:

  • 17A. GOOD DAY SUNSHINE [1966 Beatles song]. One happy-making tune, with a bonus tie-in of EAST and the clue that reminds us that if it’s the sun’s glow you’re looking for, that’s where you should be facing: [Toward sunrise].
  • 30A.RING OF FIRE [1963 Johnny Cash song]. You’ll hear nothing about the fire‘s glow in the lyrics, but that’s one thing they tend to do.
  • 48A. HEARTLIGHT [1982 Neil Diamond song]. Well, how about that. Did you know the movie E.T. (and the title character’s glowing heartlight) that inspired Diamond, Carol Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach to write this one? Cool.
  • 63A. JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH [1968 Rolling Stones song]. I have to work a bit to make the connection here, but then I think about the glow in the night sky lightning will create when it flashes behind a cloud. Heat lightning. Yeah. That works. “AND HOW!” ["You betcha!"].

What else works? Well, how about the menu of a MARTINI [Dry or dirty drink] and some OLIVES [Antipasto morsels], then some SEAFOOD [Ceviche, e.g.], followed by a TIN ROOF Sundae? (I know, tin roof is clued as [Basic protection from the elements], but have you ever had the ice cream??) Speaking of E.T., how about the double fantasy crossing of X-FILES and XENA—with the X-MEN in close proximity. Nice, too, the way X-Men peels off of the end of KLEENEX [Dispenser brand] and how that clue does double-duty for PEZ.

Hawai’i, with its AQUA [Sea blue] waters gets a double mention today thanks to “ALOHA,” cunningly clued as [Hilo, HI "hi"] and OAHU [Diamond Head locale]. In case you were IN A JAM [Stuck] wondering, Hilo’s on Hawai’i (a/k/a “The Big Island”—it’s the largest); Oahu (“The Gathering Place”) is the third largest in the chain.

GNASH and GNAW share that common “G” (as well as that opening “Nuh” sound…) and also make for another pair of related entries, clued respectively as [Grind, as teeth] and [Chew, like a squirrel on a nut]. Another lively pair? Look at the CLUING that brings together INCHES and TIRE: [Losses monitored when on a diet] and the sequential [A spare on might be lost on a diet].

For your viewing pleasure, how about GIGI ["Thank Heaven for Little Girls" musical]. It’s witty and elegant and poignant. If outrageous and earthy and extremely funny is closer to where you live, “IT’S OK.” Tropic Thunder, featuring NOLTE [Nick of...] (and a nearly unrecognizable and spot-on Tom Cruise) may just fill the bill.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “The BEQ Abides”

Region capture 7The theme is THE BIG LEBOWSKI, names/phrases that begin with characters from the movie, the COEN Brothers who wrote/directed it, and an extraneous RUG and JESUS that lack symmetrical partners in the grid.

Before I knew that the beginning of the longest theme answers would have character names, I noticed that DONNYBROOKS would make a great fictional name. In my novel, Donny Brooks is a pacifist because that’s how I roll.

If you’re not a Lebowski/The Dude fan, I fear there’s not much to rave about in this puzzle. DUDE / LOOKS LIKE A LADY has potential for other theme applications, though. RuPaul and Milton Berle? Cinematic Mrs. Doubtfire and Dorothy Michaels? Or men who can be mistaken for women without dressing in drag, like Steven Tyler. (Who else is in his category?)

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7 Responses to Thursday, 11/4/10

  1. joon says:

    i loved mike’s HOLE concept. nice take on the rebus idea, and if i had a hole punch, i’d definitely use it on my paper. the pat/francis fireball was cool, too. HAL PRINCE/PRINCE HAL is an especially delightful find.

    jeffrey, i am afraid to click any of your links, SFW or not. it’s always been the case that you can use iffier words in the clues than the fill. like “iffier”—you could put IFFIER into the grid, but it would be pretty weak fill. FLIRTEE is a little different, i guess, because it’s jocular; i don’t think it’s really a word, but it’s obvious what it means. that’s the kind of thing you can get away with in a fun clue but not as fill, because fill words have to be actual words.

    i loved BEQ’s puzzle, i guess because i loved the movie. there are some more non-theme theme answers: WHITE russian, BOWLing at the holly star lanes, … i think that’s it. RUG cracked me up… it really tied the room together, man.

  2. Angela says:

    I never time myself doing crosswords. I like to sit with a cup of coffee and just have fun without racing through it. But this morning I clicked on the very first cross and got the “hole” thing right away. I literally raced through the puzzle watching the clock because I had an early meeting. Then I got hung up on “Part of a home security syst (39 d) so I skipped it and finished everything else. But I still couldn’t get how that answer was “lien”. To me, a lien is something one doesn’t want to have on one’s home, and we all know better than to buy a home with liens on it, but it’s a big stretch to call a lien part of a security system. Otherwise, a fun puzzle.

  3. It’s home security from the lienholder’s perspective, though perhaps not the resident’s.

  4. Neville says:

    I tried messing around with that HOLE idea myself over the summer. Frankly, I’m glad Mike beat me to it! Lots of theme entries (6 more than I was able to fit in) and nothing that I hate in the fill. Great work as usual for Nothnagel!

  5. *David* says:

    I found that SE corner of the Tausig corner brilliant in a continuation of a lowbrow Thursday type of way. GALPAL could have easily beed added into the mix of connections.

  6. Tony O. says:

    Did anyone else think that BEQ’s NYT puzzle on Tuesday was heading toward a Big Lebowski theme? I had DUDERANCH and WHITERUSSIAN and thought that’s what it was going to be! I love that he went and finished the thought today.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    Spoiler: All my links are actually SFW. Well, Tony Danza playing ukelele singing “Umbrella” is a little scary.

Comments are closed.