Thursday, 12/30/10

NYT 5:33
LAT 6:33 (Jeffrey)
CS untimed
Tausig untimed
BEQ 5:27

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

12/30/10 NY Times crossword answers

12/30/10 NY Times crossword answers 1230

All righty, so the Thursday twist this week is that the theme entries span multiple word spaces, crossing black squares; each of the three chunks that make up a theme answer can pass as a stand-alone crossword entry. So 12a, [One in on the founding of a company], is a CHAR/TER M/EMBER. At 20a (and your clue numbers may differ if the print and electronic versions of the puzzle aren’t identical), a [Production site chief] is a PLAN/T-MAN/AGER. (Interjection #1: Nobody is delighted to see AGER in a crossword. Who uses that word? Hardly anyone.) At 27a, [One getting a bouquet?] is a WIN/E TAS/TER. (Interjection #2: Good lord, TER? Really?) 37a gives us a smooth OPERA/TIN/G ROOM. 43a is the ’50s song “EAR/TH AN/GEL.” 50a goes three-word but without splitting where the black squares are: FOR T/HE RE/CORD. The final theme triad is 59a: NO TRE/SPAS/SING.

Interesting gimmick, though the puzzle overall suffers from the blight of iffy fill:

  • We tolerate SLO a lot. Would anyone be sad if we never saw SLO or SNO in a puzzle again? I think not. Constructors would grieve their loss in a tight corner, though.
  • OUSE and ARNO hit us up with two 4-letter European rivers.
  • I don’t recall seeing the abbreviation FISC (for “fiscal”) in crosswords much, and it’s not a welcome addition.
  • ELVER, meaning a young eel, is one of those words known mainly to crossworders and perhaps marine biologists.
  • EMPT is clued as the end of [Pre-___], and that relies on hyphenating the double E. Guess what? A great many of us (some of us being dictionaries) just spell it “preempt.” People can figure out it’s got two syllables. EMPT is ugly fill of the highest order. The E and P are locked in by theme entries but if that’s what your theme pushes you to—EMPL. and ESPY and ESPO won’t work—maybe it’s time to reconsider the theme layout?
  • ENOL, crosswordese Samoan capital APIA, plural OHS and NTS—these are all MEHS.

On the plus side:

  • 23a. STEVIE [Wonder of note]. Remember poet Stevie Smith? Mr. Wonder gets all the STEVIE clues.
  • 47a. Didn’t know OOLONG was [Chinese for "black dragon"]. I wanted this line to be another theme entry. FISCOO LONG!
  • 7d. I love PECANS. But what a horrible clue! [Certain pie toppers] suggests that there are pecan pies that merely have pecans on top, and not all the way through. What’s that? You say that’s the standard pecan pie? Horrors! Roasty, toasty pecans are so good, you should always double the nut quantity in the pecan pie recipe so the PECANS can be [Certain pie fillers] instead.
  • 15d. MONOTONY. You know how that goes.

Kelsey Blakley’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

LAt Dec 30 10Theme:  Morphing Cities. The last two (or three, or one) letters of a city name, identified by its state, are the first two (or three, or one) letters of the next city name, identified by its state. Thank you, see you next time!

Theme answers:

  • 20A. [Iowa/Arizona/Maryland tri-city area?] – AMESANNAPOLIS – AMES/MESA/ANNAPOLIS
  • 32A. [Washington/Georgia/ New Hampshire tri-city area?] – TACOMACONCORD – TACOMA/MACON/CONCORD
  • 40A. [South Dakota/Nevada/ Virginia tri-city area?] – PIERRENORFOLK – PIERRE/RENO/NORFOLK
  • 55A. [California/Alaska/ Tennessee tri-city area?] – FRESNOMEMPHIS – FRESNO/NOME/MEMPHIS

One-line review for those in a hurry:  Neat idea spoiled by inconsistency of the number of overlapping letters.

Other stuff:

  • 1A. [Squish] – MASH. S*Q*U*I*S*H was one of the greatest TV shows ever.
  • 5A. [Flintstone word] – DABBA. Always follows Yabba and precedes Doo.
  • 14A. [Pick of the litter?] – ALPO. Darn Iams has left doubt in this type of clue.
  • 15A. [Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie __"] – AMOUR
  • 18A. [Red and yellow but not green] – WARM COLORS. AMOUR gets its U but COLOURS doesn’t. Sigh.
  • 22A. [Sing like Slim Clark] – YODEL
  • 27A. ["__ Town Too": 1981 hit] – HER
  • 29A. [The Concord Sage's monogram] – RWE. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Concord as in one of the theme answers.
  • 46A. [Alberta natives] – CREES. Calgarians wouldn’t fit.
  • 51A. [Neapolitan song starter] – O SOLE Mio. Translated, it means vanilla chocolate and strawberry.
  • 58A. [Soldier who has completed most of his tour of duty] – SHORT TIMER. Height-challenged sports official?
  • 65A. [Broadway matchmaker] – YENTE
  • 2D. [2007 Enterprise acquisition] – ALAMO. Why would a starship take over a besieged fort?
  • 8D. [Crash course vehicle?] – BUMPER CAR. We need more BUMPER CARs in puzzles. There, I’ve said it. Admit it, you were thinking the same thing.
  • 19D. ["The Daily Planet" reporter] – OLSEN. Jimmy of signal watch fame.
  • 28D. [Lover boy] – ROMEO.
  • 33D. [Anabaptist denomination] – MENNONITE. A priest, a rabbi, anabaptist walk into a bar…
  • 35D. [Time to bundle up] – COLD SPELL. I’m looking at you, East Coast.
  • 42D. [Blue Moon of '60s-'70s baseball] – ODOM. I’ve heard of him so don’t whine. He appears in puzzles once in a…
  • 52D. ["Whoopee!"] – OH BOY! “Darn it!” is an opposite clue of the same phrase.
  • 53D. [Vers __: free verse] – LIBRE. How long was Vers in jail?
  • 56D. [Layover] – STAY. Sorry, gotta go.


Updated Thursday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Street Signs”—Janie’s review

In today’s puzzle, Martin takes the combined letters “S” and “T,” the abbreviation for “street,” and affixes them to the beginning of three familiar 13-letter phrases. This yields three, new 15-letter phrases of the fanciful variety which happen to be:

  • 20A. STASH WEDNESDAYS [Good times to hide things?]. Hah! Funny idea here—though when I’ve got company coming, this can turn into stash (insert appropriate days of the week here)…
  • 39A. STAIR COMPRESSOR [Flight shortener?]. At first I thought this would have to do with aviation. I fear I’m an easy mark for “flight”-clue misdirection. Not easy to make air compressor lively crossword puzzle fodder; I think Martin’s found a fine solution.
  • 52A. STAGE OF AQUARIUS [Platform for a zodiac sign?]. ” OOH!” [Exclamation of wonder], this one’s lovely. Conjures up a strong (humorous) image and a terrific, era-defining song as well.

There isn’t lots of longer fill in the grid, which is packed instead with 4- and 5-letter items. Still we are treated to the cleverly clued [They stick around the office] for POST-ITS and the benign sounding [It may be guided] for the more hawkish MISSILE.

Martin also keeps things lively with several examples of paired fill; some is intentional, some looks to be random. You be the judge:

[Fuse, in a way] clues both UNITE and WELD.

[Cancel out] does double duty for ERASE and UN-DO.

[Fountain choice] clues COLA, but my first fill there was SODA. SODA did put in an appearance, however, clued as [Mixer at the bar].

There’s a pair for duffers by way of TEE [Links prop] and ["]TIN [Cup" (1996 Kevin Costner movie)].

There’s also a close kind of crossing (four of the five letters in each are the same) in RANDY and RAN BY at the shared “A.” The former is clued as [Quaid or Travis], the latter as [Zipped past]. Omg—Randy Quaid (and wife Evi) remains on the lam in Canada… “SEZ WHO?” [Words after "Oh yeah?"]. Looks like any number of sources give it their SAY SO [Final approval].

Fave clues today? The multi-level [Cold-blooded killers] for ASPS; and the great-minds-same-gutter affirming [Crossword-solving detective on PBS] for MORSE.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Odd Collections”

Ink Well/Ben Tausig "Odd Collections" crossword answers

Ink Well/Ben Tausig "Odd Collections" crossword answers

Yay for free wireless internet access at the hotel! Boo for how ridiculously slow it is at peak times (i.e., mornings). Will be super-short because I spent all my blogging time waiting for the “edit post” page to load. Grr! On the plus side, it’s 68°F outside this morning, so putting the laptop down and getting on with my day is a grand idea.

The theme is phrases that end with genres of music, redefined as hypothetical titles of compilation albums. PRECIOUS METAL is sweet ballads by the monsters of metal, VOLCANIC ROCK isn’t pumice or basalt, but a collection of Hawaiian tunes. AMISH COUNTRY is surely dramatic music; rumspringa is great fodder for country songs. House music for boarding planes is BOARDING HOUSE; this is the weakest of the four, as situational compilations make much less sense than genre compilations.

Favorite clue: 3d: [Sting operation?] for THE POLICE, which is Sting’s band.

Patrick Blindauer and Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Doctor J”

Picture 10The title joins Dr. J (Julius Erving) with music’s Doctor Hook. The theme entries are all phrases that contain the word “hook” represented by that most hook-like of letters, J. It reads as HOOK in the theme entries and J in the crossing Down answers. Cool twist! I wonder if Henry Hook ever used the J = HOOK trick.

Patrick and Brendan’s theme answers are {J} LINE AND SINKER, BY {J} OR BY CROOK, {J}ED ON PHONICS, PLAY {J}Y, and CAPTAIN {J}.

(Post edited to add Patrick Blindauer to the byline. Always fun when Brendan teams up with another talented constructor!)

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19 Responses to Thursday, 12/30/10

  1. MarkAbe says:

    In the L.A. Times puzzle, the number of overlapping letters in the theme clues may vary, but it’s always one syllable. I used that pattern and they were fairly easy.

  2. Aaron says:

    My least favorite New York Times puzzle in quite some time. Couldn’t figure out the gimmick, and those breaks seemed arbitrary — they didn’t exactly enhance the theme. Left me wondering why certain entries seemed to be unclued, and while I guess part of the “fun” is figuring out that they tie back to the one entry that *was* clued, I simply couldn’t get enough of the fill (it was really sluggish stuff) to help crack in. (I wish I’d known “EARTH ANGEL.”)

    Anyway, happy New Year everybody!

  3. Tuning Spork says:

    Couldn’t figure out what the [-] entries in the N.Y. Times had in common. Took me 30 minutes to finally see the gimmick. Sheesh. (Or, for the shule crowd, oy.) Then the puzzle fell all kaboom-like.

    Re: The L.A. Times
    I see no reason that the number of overlapping letters should be consistent. It’s more challenging if they don’t. But it does include one of my crossword puzzle cluing pet peeves (CPCPP). Jimmy Olsen is a photographer, not a reporter.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    I see the one syllable argument, but it seems like a one letter overlap (MESA/ANNAPOLIS) makes the theme too arbitrary as you have bazillion choices there.

    Jimmy Olsen has been described at times as a “cub reporter”; other times he is a photographer.

  5. Matt says:

    I had an ‘M’ (instead of a ‘T’) at the intersection of ATCO and LETME, which is a pretty obscure error, in my opinion. ATCO? Has that ever appeared before? Also agree that the broken-up versions of the long entries have too many non-words.

  6. John Daviso says:

    Amy, I only know one marine biologist, who happens to be my next-door neighbor, and she never heard of an elver.

  7. imsdave says:

    @tuningspork and @Jeffrey – having grown up with Superman comics in the early sixties – Jimmy Olsen will always be a cub reporter to me.

    Loved the LAT today, and did not find the theme answers to be inconsistent. Great week at that paper – super puzzles, besting the NYT several times.

  8. Meem says:

    Agree with imsdave about a good week at LAT. Stared way too long at NYT (printed out) before the head-slap moment occurred. Then a race to the finish, slowed for a moment by Scot before Gael. Finished it, but didn’t love it.

  9. Zulema says:

    I thought all the gimmick lovers would like this one (NYT), though it didn’t lend itself to speed-solving. I particularly thought 45D was a great clue for GO EAST. And I found no non-words at all. TER is the Latin ordinal three, as in “third.” That is the other dimension of this puzzle, they are all words. I could have done without ATCO, but it was not a theme word.

  10. john farmer says:

    The LAT is more than just the morphing of three city names. What it does is take two city names and create a third city name in the middle, which spans the first and last. E.g., FRES[NO ME]MPHIS. All the theme answers are consistent in that regard, which is a definite cut above many other themes. Sometimes you might see two similar names (e.g., sports teams) put together to form a different phrase. Or a “hidden” word within a longer answer. But making three cities out of two is really a clever way to do it.

    I got to it late, but I thought yesterday’s LAT was exceptional too.

  11. pannonica says:

    Constructors would grieve their loss in a tight corner, though.”
    The wrong image popped into my brain for a moment there.

    I candy pecans and top my pumpkin pies with them, so I see no problem with the clue, other than that the answer needed a few crossings. Pecans are not limited to their namesake pie.

    The New Yorker style book would of course have that as preëmpt.

  12. Victor Barocas says:

    Gimmick in the NYT didn’t work for me. I never got it and bludgeoned my way through on crosses. It would have been better for me if there had been that one slam dunk (EAR/THAN/GEL would have been it had I known) that I really wanted to make into a longer entry, which might have made me see it more clearly. Such is life.

    I was not bothered by the variability in number of overlapping letters in the LAT puzzle, but I can see how one might be. I thought that WARMCOLORS and COLDSPELL made a nice pair.

    - VB

  13. Daz says:

    Amy writes of today’s NYT: “I don’t recall seeing the abbreviation FISC (for “fiscal”) in crosswords much, and it’s not a welcome addition.”

    Agreed. But in fact FISC is a word in its own right, and imho that would have been a nicer way to clue this fill. (It means a “state or royal treasury” and has been used at least since 1600.)

  14. Ladel says:

    The most important aspect of elvers is to let the little fellars grow up and make it to your local sushi bar. Grilled over rice will do fine thank you.

  15. pannonica says:

    Elvers have left the building.

    (c’mon, someone had to say it!)

  16. sandirhodes says:

    OK, it’s a nit. But it’s been a peeve of mine for a long time. The entire phrase is hardly every seen anymore, and the meaning has been skewed. A representative sentence with proper usage might be something along the lines of:

    “I wasn’t sure if I fooled him, but he took the bait, hook, line, and sinker.” This means that ‘he’ was entirely taken in by my ruse, and not only did he take the bait, he practically ‘jumped into the boat’ by grabbing the hook, line, and sinker as well.

    Too often people have taken the ‘hook, line, and sinker’ part and transformed it into an adverbial phrase describing ‘took,’ rather than using the nouns as they are supposed to be as objects. Then, of all things, it gets used on its own in circumstances where it doesn’t belong (“Did you win it all?” “Hookline&sinker!” Sheesh).

    OK, I know language evolves. But dadgum it, this phrase has a pure origin, and I think it should stay that way!!!

    Time for my meds …

  17. pannonica says:

    I heard Christine O’Donnell say “Lock, Step and Barrel.”

  18. sandirhodes says:

    Actually, the dupe swallows all four items — the bait, the hook, the line, and the sinker.

    :)

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