Tuesday, 12/7/10

Jonesin’ 3:31
NYT 3:18
LAT 3:51 (Jeffrey)
CS 4:29 (Evad)

If you haven’t seen the NYT video of David Kwong constructing a crossword and doing a magic trick at the same time, scroll down to the next post.

Andrea Carla Michaels and Kent Clayton’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 4We’re heading into the home stretch of the NFL season and Monday Night Football is on TV now, so Andrea and Kent’s theme is a timely one: Four theme entries could be described as FOOTBALL MATCH-UPs, as each one pairs players from two NFL teams and turns them into a phrase. You’ve got your (Kansas City) CHIEF (Houston) TEXAN, clued as the [Governor in Austin?] without any reference to secession. A New York Giant is converted into an adjective in GIANT (Buffalo) BILL. A JET PACKER combines players from New York and Green Bay, and L.A. St. Louis butts heads with San Diego for RAM CHARGER. I like the theme. Do you like having the explanatory FOOTBALL MATCH-UP in there? I kinda think I’d like the theme better if that had been left out, though that might make it a Wednesday puzzle rather than an easy Tuesday. Then again, it took me as long as a Wednesday puzzle, so maybe I’m just blowing hot air here.

Oh! According to urlai.com‘s automated analysis, this blog reads like it’s written by a woman who’s happy…and is in the 66-to-100 age group. In order to make that more accurate, I’m afraid I’ll have to start skewing my phrasing so that I come off as younger. Ergo:

This theme is sick!

(That means “very good.”)

I kept filling things in wrong. I put OMAN next to Kuwait instead of IRAQ. And them OMAN showed up later! (Andrea would call that a malapop.) I turned ["Black gold"] into “Spanish gold” and filled in ORO instead of OIL. And I don’t know what happened to the cursor when I tried to enter QUEEG, but Walt Disney ended up having some involvement with UNIMATION. I let the K in Galifianakis lure me to the ZACK spelling, which had to be ZACH in order to do the HULA. Gah!

Mark Bickham’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s Review

LAT Tues Dec 7 2010Theme: What’s Up, Doc?  68A. [Critter that can follow the ends of this puzzle's five longest answers] – BUNNY

Theme answers:

  • 18A. [Procter & Gamble laundry product] – IVORY SNOW
  • 27A. [Keep America Beautiful concerns] – LITTER BUGS
  • 35A. [New England storm] – NOR EASTER. Neither Christmas NOR EASTER do I celebrate.
  • 49A. [Space particles] – COSMIC DUST. What is cuter than a DUST BUNNY?
  • 59A. [Beach Boys album with bees and flowers on the cover] – WILD HONEY

One-line review for those in a hurry:  Nice hopped-up execution of a cute cotton-tailed theme.

Other stuff:

  • 14A. [Speed skater __ Anton Ohno] – APOLO/15A. [Get-up-and-go] – OOMPH. O, what a line!!
  • 17A. [What cats and bats do] – RHYME. So do hats and rats. Where else do you get this level of insight?
  • 21A. ["The loneliest number," in a song] – ONE
  • 55A. [9-Down adviser] – CPA/9D. [30-day mo.] – APR. Only a CPA can advise you about the months of the year.
  • 6D. [Destination in a two-part route] – POINT B. Your GPS may want something a little more specific.
  • 7D. ["Many-splendored thing" of song] – LOVE
  • 13D. [Like anarchy] – LAWLESS. Lucy Anarchy starred in Xena, Synonym Princess.
  • 39D. [Lake Superior natives] – OJIBWAS. Shania is an Ojibwa word which means “on my way.” Eilleen is an Ojibwa word meaning “stuck in Timmons, Ontario.”
  • 50D. [Villainous literary alter ego] – MR HYDE
  • 53D. [Little laugh] – TEHEE/57D. [Golfer's pocketful] – TEES. Making fun of a golfer’s pocketful:  TEES TEASE. TEHEE.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Put It There”—Evad’s review

cs127 Pretty easy CS today, with four phrases that follow the {body part} IN THE {location} model. (And, no, “pain” is not a body part, although the other side of that phrase is.) Once you recognize the pattern, you can slap those middle two words in the long across entries when you see one of those five letters from a crossing entry.

  • “Flighty in a way” is to have one’s HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
  • “Initial introduction” is to put one’s FOOT IN THE DOOR
  • “Evidence of stealing” is a HAND IN THE TILL. As we move to a cashless society, tills will become anachronistic.
  • Finally, “Temporary avoidance of disaster” is a FINGER IN THE DIKE. For some reason, I think of a thumb in particular as the finger of choice for this work; let me check the Legend of Hans Brinker, from whence I believe this reference originates. Seems the reference to “his chubby little finger” is ambiguous.

My preference would have been to have the entries sorted from head-to-toe,
so to speak, although FINGER and HAND would be a toss-up from that perspective. I did enjoy the ZEST of the zed-action with ZIGZAGS, Paula ZAHN (where is she now that she left CNN? The picture at right is of her playing the cello in Carnegie Hall in 1992.) and ZYDECO. Other entries of interest:

  • An unusual abbreviation for S. DAKOTA. It’s either SDAK in my book or the whole darn thing. FT. MEADE is a similar entry, but at least there is no common abbreviation for “Meade.”
  • Never have been to Japan, but NARITA Airport is now forever etched into my crossword memory banks due to its friendly alternating consonant-vowel pattern.
  • “Not give ___” leads us to A FIG, but isn’t that fig usually flying?
  • “Bellow in a bookstore” doesn’t lead to calls to “Shhhhh!” but instead to Nobel laureate SAUL.
  • Always prefer to see full names over just last names; no stranger to crosswords YOKO ONO joins us today with both her first and last names. I wonder if she is getting any of the royalties from Apple now that iTunes offers Beatles tunes?

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Getting Hotter”

Region capture 3Matt taunts us with the heat that has departed from the Northern Hemisphere: The theme entries progress from frozen ICE into ethereal hot STEAM. It’s not a plain ICE/WATER/STEAM theme, though:

  • 17a. [Hoth, in the "Star Wars" universe] is an ICE PLANET. I’m proud to say that I needed tons of crossings to get this one.
  • 20a. [Item in a famous Dali painting] is a MELTING WATCH. Anyone else try CLOCK first? Couldn’t remember which timepiece it was. Either way, it’s not a lexical chunk, this phrase.
  • 38a. A SLUSH FUND is an [Account that could be abused].
  • 58a. [Plane used for short commuter flights, slangily] is a PUDDLE-JUMPER. Lively fill.
  • 64a. [Sci-fi subgenre featuring Victorian Era technology] is STEAMPUNK. Terrific answer. I don’t really get the appeal of the steampunk aesthetic, though.

I have some reservations about the theme. Ice melts into water, not slush; you need snow to get slush. MELTING is not a phase of water. PUDDLE and water aren’t exactly synonymous, but PUDDLE-JUMPER is fun to say so I’ll overlook that. Unless you’re boiling your former ice, you’re not going to get STEAM—you may have some fog, mist, or invisible water vapor. Though the “Getting Hotter” title doesn’t suggest that the laws of nature and climate rule here, so scratch the last gripe.

A few more clues:

  • 7d. [Three, in Trier] is DREI in German. I forgot Trier was deutsch and thought it was French, so I tried to get TRES to work here. (I also forgot that in French, three is trois.)
  • 9d. RENAL means [Kidney-related]. Yes, indeed! Some of us have an appointment with our nephrologist today. A little medical etymology for you: The hormone adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal glands, which are ad+renal, meaning “next to the kidneys.” The more scientifically accepted name of the hormone is epinephrine, using the Greek roots for “above + the kidneys.” Renal uses the Latin root for kidneys.
  • 40d. [Palindromic Burmese leader] is U NU.
  • 46d. [Finnish rock band with a "heartagram" logo] is HIM. Who?
  • 67d. [Chain dangler] clues a KEY.
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11 Responses to Tuesday, 12/7/10

  1. A sad day for Monday Night Football fans it is, with today’s death of Mr. Turn Out the Lights, “Dandy” Don Meredith.

    Curiosities: Besides being a former Dodge vehicle, a RAM CHARGER pairs two teams formerly based in Los Angeles. And a CHIEF TEXAN could be a doppelganger of sorts, as the Kansas City Chiefs began their existence as the Dallas Texans in 1960. At least three different pro football franchises since 1952 have borne the Texan name, in fact.

    And of course, a GIANT BILL pairs the Giants with a team actually based in New York. :-)

  2. foodie says:

    I know nothing from football, but still thought this was easy and went down very smoothly– and I thought so before seeing the byline!

    Loved STAG PARTY, next to ANIMATION and TABOO (oh oh!)

    What’s amazing is that I made exactly the same mistake as Amy- malapops and all. Minor difference is that it took me 3 times as long- but who’s counting.

  3. joon says:

    any plans to blog the patrick berry special? my favorite puzzle of the day.

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Joon, no. I did the puzzle in that ooky Java applet before Jim posted the .puz file, and I swear it colored my experience with the puzzle. I found it boring, but it’s likely because I was so annoyed with all the type-overs that ensue when the cursor doesn’t jump where I expect it to. As one with the writing of a 66- to 100-year-old woman, I reserve the right to be set in my ways. (But you’re welcome to blog it here if you’re so inclined and have the time.)

  5. joon says:

    ah, okay. well, i won’t push it. just saying i liked the puzzle. it was presented in a funny way, though. the link says “here’s a puzzle about social scientists.” but of course it’s not about that at all. maybe patrick called the puzzle “social scientists” (which would be a very apt title) and the people at the times didn’t get the joke?

  6. Alex says:

    @Amy — FYI, whenever a puzzle is available in that particular applet (Litsoft’s), it’s also available in Across Lite. You just need to know where to look. If you view the source of the applet’s page and search for “.puz” you’ll find this link to a .puz file. Just one of the tricks of the trade.

  7. Meem says:

    Joon: Of course the puzzle was about “social” scientists. Group, force, club, crew, team. And I thought the link was a clever double entendre aimed at “in-the-know” puzzlers. Found the section overall to be so so. How hard was it to intuit “eureka” and work backward from there?

  8. sandirhodes says:

    joon, I liked that puzzle too!

  9. reybo says:

    Can anyone enlighten me why the clue to the answer to Jonesin’ 4 across (WORD) is “I agree with that”

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Reybo, it’s contemporary slang/idiom. You say “The Patriots are the most annoying team in the NFL,” and your buddy who agrees says, “Word.” As in “you have spoken the truth.”

  11. reybo says:

    Thanks! Sometimes it’s a PITA to be 73

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