Thursday, 12/23/10

NYT 4:28
LAT 4:48 (Jeffrey)
Tausig 10:48 (Jeffrey)
CS untimed
BEQ 3:55

Oliver Hill and Eliza Bagg’s New York Times crossword

12/23/10 NY Times crossword answers

12/23/10 NY Times crossword answers 1223

The theme clue correctly includes the word “reputedly” rather than attributing the theme concept to George Bernard Shaw without reservation. Lexicographer Ben Zimmer (who now writes the “On Language” column for the NYT) is a master at “antedating”—the art of ferreting out the earliest recorded use of a word or phrase. A couple years ago, he tackled this GHOTI/Shaw business and concluded that an 1855 letter documenting the GHOTI play on spelling preceded GBS (who was born in 1856). Be sure to click through to that blog post—Ben also provides similar respellings from 1845.

With that out of the way—I was captivated by this GHOTI the first time I saw it as a kid. I found it as entertaining as giving people misleading spelling cues: “Z as in zeitgeist, E as in long-I either, K as in knight….” You could conceivably pronounce 30d: GHOTI as ["Fish"] if you used THE GH FROM ENOUGH, THE O FROM WOMEN, and THE TI FROM NATION.

Highlights in the fill, mainly in the clues:

  • 4a. The HOMER clue is lovely: [Originator of the phrase "rosy-fingered dawn"]. Anyone know the original Greek form of that phrase?
  • 29a. This clue stymied me until, finally, it didn’t: [They're usually white or brown] refers to EGGS. I know someone whose backyard chickens occasionally lay blue eggs.
  • 52a. [Lion's home] isn’t DEN-something, it’s DETROIT, home of the Detroit Lions football team. I was duped by the clue.
  • 1d. [Panama and Suez], 6 letters? Oh, that’s a snap: CANALS. Except when the answer turns out to be ISTHMI. I like a good plausible-wrong-answer trap.
  • 11d. BOUTIQUE! Great entry. Anyone else now contemplating a country portmanteau theme with DJIBOUTIQUE?
  • 13d. Great clue for ASH: [Memento from an old flame?].
  • 35d. AMHERST College, good fill.
  • 43d. I like “FERRET out” as a verb. We need more small-mammal verbs! Doggin’ it, tomcatting around, badgering…why don’t we vole, mink, or stoat?

Lowlights:

  • Well, I’m not wild about weird plurals (IDAS), a surfeit of abbreviations (QED, ETD, REG, KOS, TERR, MGR), partials (SEE NO), prefixes (OSTEO, NEO), crosswordese (FIEF, AGAR), a Roman numeral (MDI), the awkwardly inflected TEHEED and ZONER, and the tic-tac-toe OOO.

Good to see another debut from a female constructor! Oliver’s a student so I’ll bet Eliza is too. I like fresh blood coming into crosswords. The more teens and 20-somethings who get into crosswords—both solving them and making them—the brighter the future of crosswords is.

John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

LAT Dec 23 10

12/23/10 LA Times crossword answers

Theme:  Seasonal Puns

Theme answers:

  • 20A. [Seasonal cheeses?] – SUMMER BRIES. Two groans.
  • 59A. [Seasonal seasoning?] – WINTER THYME. Two groans.
  • 11D. [Seasonal smoked salmon?] – SPRING LOX. Two groans.
  • 35D. [Seasonal costume?] – FALL GUISE. Three groans.

One-line review for those in a hurry:  Lampkin is everywhere lately, this time with a whole year of puns.

Other stuff:

Look who stayed up for the lunar eclipse!

Look who stayed up for the lunar eclipse!

  • 1A. [Ptolemaic constellation that is now divided into Carina (the keel), Puppis (the poop deck) and Vela (the sails)] – ARGO. I’m pooped just reading this clue.
  • 10A. [Exxon forerunner] – ESSO. Not here. Canada is an Exxon-free country.
  • 15A. [Grade leader?] – CENTI. We call it Celsius.
  • 23A. [Place purveying potent pints] – INN. Too bad the answer doesn’t start with “P.”
  • 25A. [Miller's salesman] – LOMAN. Willy. I think he died.
  • 30A. [Fried chicken piece] – NUGGET. Ah, the unknown part of a chicken.
  • 40A. [Fuming] – IN A HUFF. Never ask someone if they are IN A HUFF. Don’t ask how I know.
  • 42A. [Sitcom planet] – ORK. Nanu, nanu!
  • 43A. [Pooped] – ALL IN. Turning into a poop puzzle.
  • 45A. [Con __: briskly, on scores] – MOTO. No idea, missed the T, looks obvious in retrospect.
  • 64A. ["__ under pressure": guts, to Hemingway] – GRACE
  • 67A. [Retirement plans, informally] – ROTHS
  • 68A. [New kids' block since 1958] – LEGO
  • 70A. ["Cats" poet] – ELIOT
  • 3D. [Kind of ray emitted by a supernova] – GAMMA. It will give you superpowers.
  • 5D. [Venomous arachnid] – SCORPION. You never see “friendly arachnid.” Except maybe Charlotte.
  • 29D. [Seasonal rooftop noises?] – HO HO’S. It looks like a theme answer, but it’s not! Psych!
  • 34D. [One-time pal of Baker and Charlie?] – ABLE. Ousted by Alpha?
  • 37D. [Pianist Laredo] – RUTH. No idea, missed the T, looks obvious in retrospect. A better clue would have been [My mother’s name].
  • 44D. ["At Seventeen" singer Janis] – IAN
  • 54D. [Tippecanoe's partner, in an 1840 campaign] – TYLER. Harrison. Were they the ones who wanted to take over Canada? If so, boo!
  • 57D. [Saint with a fire] – ELMO

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Eh? Eh?” – Jeffrey’s review

Bt Dec 23 10

Theme:  Ben comes to Canada.

One-line review for those in a hurry: How’s it going, eh? Like, this is what happens when a hoser like Ben Tausig talks Canadian-like, eh? Where’s my Molson’s?  Whadda you mean this is more than one line? You think I can’t count to one? One! See? You hoser! Let’s play our Christmas song, eh? Beer!

Theme answers:

  • 17A. [Sites for fly-fishing sausage parties?] – MALE BROOKS (Mel Brooks). 15-Oy!-10!
  • 25A. [Stack of cash in a bondsman's office?] – BAIL TOWER (Belltower)
  • 38A/49A. [Shout from a millennialist Benjamin Moore?] – REPAINT FOR THE END IS NEAR (repent for the end is near)
  • 58A. [Lingerie shop motto?] – LACE IS MORE (less is more)

Other stuff:

  • 1A. [Home of the metal band Acrassicauda] – IRAQ. I messed up the NW real bad.
  • 5A. [Things on a cat's penis] – BARBS. Really?
  • 10A. [Tiara-wearing man who's not entirely comfortable with homosexuality] – POPE.
  • 14A. [Defender of NAMBLA] – ACLU. The what? Ew! Google it yourself.
  • 15A. [Mims' "This is Why ___"] – I’M HOT
  • 16A. [Sex column topic] – ANAL.
  • 22A. [Former Homeland Security honcho Tom] – RIDGE. I put DELAY. Is he someone? How are we way up north supposed to know? Eh?
  • 31A. [Personals ad abbr.] – NSA. I am the wrong person to blog this puzzle.  Quick, a Disney clip to cleanse us!
  • 48A. [The ___ War (1932 Australian military/wildlife control effort)] – EMU. Did the EMUs win?
  • 51A. [Like Elvis, later on] – OBESE
  • 65A. [Buxom Betty] – BOOP
  • 1D. [Final words of a Cartesian statement] – I AM
  • 7D. ["The Mary Tyler Moore Show" spinoff] – RHODA. Also Lou Grant, Phyllis and Garfield the Cat. (Quick quiz – explain the connection in that last one. Free 2011 subscription to Crossword Fiend for the first correct answer in the comments.)
  • 10D. [He played Kesuke Miyagi] – PAT MORITA. Arnold! Ayyyyyy!! Ehhhhhhhh!!!
  • 11D. [Words before a round of rock, paper, scissors] – ONE, TWO, THREE. Strangely cool entry.
  • 24D. [Small-time restaurant crime] – DINE AND DASH. That doesn’t sound very nice.
  • 26D. ["Time ___ the essence"] – IS OF. I am blogging as fast as I can.
  • 32D. [City for a great bowl of pho] – SAIGON
  • 40D. [What Kraftwerk appeared as, in concert] – ROBOTS
  • 62D. [Post-tryst brand] – EPT. European Poker Tour. Make up your own joke, eh?


Updated Thursday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Addition”—Janie’s review

This is one title that couldn’t be more literal if it tried. What are we asked to do today? Add “ITION” to the ends of three familiar phrases. This gives us three new phrases of the whimsical sort—that are clued in a fittingly whimsical way as well.

20A. [Gathering of Elvis impersonators?] KING COALITION. King Coal is the title of an Upton Sinclair novel, and it’s said that King Coal : the mining industry :: The Jungle (also Sinclair) : the meat-packing industry. King coalitions happen all the time it seems. Hollywood included one in Honeymoon in Las Vegas—tagline: “A comedy about one bride, two grooms, and 34 flying Elvises.”

38A. [Request to watch a Hugh Laurie show?] HOUSE PETITION. Now in its seventh season, on network and cable. While I don’t consider myself a fan of the show, I’ve managed to get hooked by it more than once (the cable re-runs). Not a lot of variation in the dynamic from episode to episode. Ah, well, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, eh?

57A. [Ms. magazine competitor?] MISTER EDITION. The utter silliness of this one makes me laugh. Could be there’s a feature story on Wilbur….

There isn’t lots of long fill today, but the symmetrically placed BRONX ZOO [Tell-all baseball book about the Yankees, with "The"] and “OH, COME ON!” ["Give me a break!"] are mighty fine specimens. And structurally speaking, I do like those triple 6-columns NW and SE.

Names. We get a lotta names: Al PACINO [Don Corleone portrayer] (a/k/a Don Michael Corleone), [Author John] DOS [Passos], [Satirist Mort] SAHL, HANK [Country singer Williams], IDA [Actress Lupino], TOMEI [Marisa of "What Women Want"] (and more recently of the kinda-kinky Cyrus…), ETHAN [Allen of the Green Mountain Boys], and ELIA ["On the Waterfront" director Kazan].

Once again we have kind of a pile up of repeat fill. A three-peat, in fact, all from yesterday by way of “I DIG,” ALEE and ET AL. Fortunately they all come with new clues.

Had more fun with some of the other clues, and count among my faves the tricky (literal) “letter” pair—[Start to snow?] and [Capital of Zimbabwe?] for ESS and ZEE. Then, because you can take the girl outta Baw’mer, but you can’t take the Baw’mer outta the girl, I of course had great fondness for [Pimlico advice] and [Camden Yards player] for TIP and ORIOLE. Pimlico, by way of reminder, is the Baltimore racetrack where the Preakness Stakes (the second “jewel” in the Triple Crown) is run.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Merry Christmas”

Region capture 32The theme is “gifts under the tree,” and the long theme answers include common holiday gifts that appear below a type of tree in the grid. Mind you, there are no FIRs or SPRUCEs involved.

For TOY SPANIEL, TOY is topped by an OAK. MAPLE sits mostly atop the SWEATER in SWEATER GIRL. OFF THE BOOKS places those new BOOKS under a PINE. The book ENDER’S GAME has an ELDER atop the GAME. Themes like this usually take a while to notice. I think they’re wickedly tough to pull off, which is why we don’t see a ton of stacked themes.

SQUEEGEE is a great answer, isn’t it? I’m less enamored of the overall fill, with the thematic constraints pushing for plenty of ugly 3s and 4s: RGS, INT, AHH, EINE, ETUI, ELLO, ASA, AVIA, ECOL, ETS, EVAC, SDI, HRE, DER, and the bonus ugly 5, RUERS.

With the initial E in place for 36a: [Holder of combs, perfumes, etc.], do you know what my first thought was? U.S. Attorney General ERIC Holder. In my head, the capital-H Holder has quickly moved from “thing that holds something” to Eric. And no, I don’t know how my head was justifying the combs and perfumes part.

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16 Responses to Thursday, 12/23/10

  1. LARRY says:

    I too remembered GHOTI from childhood, but was trying to fit “AS IN” into the answers til I figured it out.

  2. Tuning Spork says:

    I know that I’m at least two days behind in my puzzling, but I buy my Mars Bars at Stop & Shop.

    And they are NOT the same as Snickers Almold Bars.

    Having had both, I prefer the Snickers Almind Bar to Mars Bar.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy6uLfermPU
    Carry on now…

  3. Howard B says:

    I remembered the ‘GHOTI’ wordplay, but the rest of this puzzle seriously kicked me around. Hard. The long answers were odd enough to require some crossings, and the crossing clues were odd enough to result in a game of drunken pin-the-tail-on-the-crossword. That top-left area, with the designer’s name, the SET clue, ISTHMI, MELISSA, etc. just floored me. Nothing horribly difficult individually, but as a whole, something about this puzzle just felt harder than an average Friday. I can’t quite explain why.
    Well done, and interesting: a little bit of an old-school crossword style vibe to it, and yet plenty of fresh clues and style at the same time.

  4. John Haber says:

    I got a slightly slow start, distracted by “canals” and not remembering MELISSA, but after a few seconds it went very quickly for me. Can’t say I ever cared for the quote, which seemed to me too clever by half without being all that witty or relevant, but then I feel the same way about Shaw.

    One reason is that German’s actually more phonetic than, say, French, but I always found it too hard for words! And don’t even ask about Latin. Another is that we obviously wouldn’t arbitrarily use GH or TI for those sounds out of context of certain syllables. Another is that reformers are actually working against popular usage rather than rescuing language for common sense and ordinary people. In Chaucer’s time, English was actually pretty phonetic, and you would have pronounced -OUGH like a slightly throaty -UCK sound, more like German. Vowels (as in WOMEN) were also more reliable.

    But people just came to speak in ways that made speech easier, and they also drifted apart regionally. Which is why we don’t accept Chicago as part of the English speaking world as long as it insists that the dictionary distinctions between MERRY and MARY don’t exist!

  5. Kerry says:

    Lorenzo Music? Voiced Carlton and Garfield

  6. Jeffrey says:

    Right Kerry. Lorenzo Music was the voice of Carlton the Doorman on “Rhoda” and Garfield on the animated series. I guarantee you will not be charged for visiting this site at any time during 2011. Congratulations!

  7. Kerry says:

    And there I was all excited. Next time I’ll READ what the prize is.

  8. Jeffrey says:

    Sorry, Kerry. The Christmas bonuses paid by Amy to the Scooby staff used up the prize fund.

  9. Ladel says:

    How do you take your KAWPHY?

  10. Howard B says:

    Ladel, you “pronounced” that word just like my mother does. Wow.
    Primary accent on the AW. (See also “New Yawk”).

  11. Ed Sessa (Ed) says:

    Hi Amy. Re your question about that great descriptor “rosy-fingered dawn”, it appears a lot in the Odyssey and the greek phrase is ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς (the first “square” is actually a Rho and the second an Eta – and the pronunciation is roughly rhodo (pink/rosy) daktulos (finger) long a-os “Eos” (dawn, as in the Goddess of Dawn). So much of our english comes from classical greek (rhododendron, dactyl). It’s a beautiful phrase to be sure.

  12. pannonica says:

    I’m a fan of the wine-dark sea, too.

  13. John Haber says:

    Incidentally, the O in WOMEN came about from, well, pronunciation. The word derives in Old English from wif + man, and then presumably a combination of how people slurred it and how they pronounced vowels (think of a slightly Irish lilt perhaps) got it closer to “women,” and the spelling slowly changed. The pronunciation naturally evolved further as speaking patterns did. Try yourself saying “woe-man” ten times fast without its coming out “wimmin”!

    Of course, if spelling had nothing to do with pronunciation, we’d have a little trouble coping, but if spelling changed with every shift in local accent, we wouldn’t have language. We’d have chaos. And of course the relationship between symbols and how they’re pronounced or what they mean is ultimately arbitrary. That’s a defining concept of language, in fact. Maybe sometimes it goes too far, and I’ve always wondered about the change in English spelling of Chinese names a few decades ago, but I’m definitely not sneering.

  14. pannonica says:

    John Haber: Excellent encapsulation of the vagaries of English!

    As for the transliteration of Chinese language, this refers to the Wade-Giles system (e.g. Peking, Szechwan, Teng Hsiao-peng) being replaced by Pinyin (e.g. Beijing, Sichuan, Deng Xiaoping). I’m by no means an expert in the subject, but from the modest contact I’ve had, it seems that Pinyin is more comprehensive, possibly more consistent, and also more accurate in reflecting the pronunciations. Even so, it’s still an approximation, a situation that isn’t helped by continued misinterpretations of its conventions. For instance, “Beijing” has more of a hard “j” sound, not the overly sibilant version we hear so often—which I guess would be rendered something like “Beizhing”—but in truth it’s probably somewhere between “Beizhing” and “Peking.” Thank goodness there are more English speakers in China than in the United States.

  15. Zulema says:

    Pannonica,

    Wine-dark sea is just sea the color of wine (red wine), οινοψ ποντος, pronounced “οínops pontos” in English. Hope you’ll come back to read this. My comments are always rather late, especially if I have presents to wrap.

  16. pannonica says:

    I’m here, Zulema. Yes, I know it’s simply a color reference. Didn’t intend to imply that I thought it was wine-sodden sea! In fact, that interpretation never occurred to me before. It’s just that it’s a somewhat parallel, and equally evocative, Homeric epithet. Thanks still for the mini-Greek lesson.

    p.s. Not that don’t also like to drink wine.

Comments are closed.