Thursday, 1/27/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/26" plug="thursday-12711" puzz="Fireball" anchor="fb"]7:22*[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/26" plug="thursday-12711" puzz="BEQ" anchor="bq"]4:10[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/26" plug="thursday-12711" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]3:59[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/26" plug="thursday-12711" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]3:01[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/26" plug="thursday-12711" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]untimed[/time_hdr]

Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers 1/27/11 0127

I should have known whose name would be in the byline tonight, because this morning I awoke from a dream he was in. We were in the offices where I worked in the ’90s, and Patrick was about to get laid off from his corner-office job but would return to his more lucrative career as a hotshot prosecutor. Also? The role of Patrick Blindauer was played by Michael CERA (37d: [Michael of "Superbad"]). I am dead serious.

It took me a little thinking to unravel the theme. At first I thought DIRTY CHOKE was some sort of pun on “artichoke,” and I think I speak for all of us when I say that the real theme is so much better than vegetable puns. Four two-word phrases in which the second word starts with J see that J turned into a CH:

  • 17a. “Dirty joke” becomes a DIRTY CHOKE in wrestling.
  • 34a. [Standard tobacco wad?] clues ORTHODOX CHEW, which made me laugh.
  • 43a. To [Woo President Arthur?] is to COURT CHESTER.
  • 63a. The [Fat fool?] was tough for me to figure out because I had EER at 65d ([Contraction that sounds like a conjunction], though it sounds more like the preposition “ere”) instead of the correct OER. So I had BREAD-something before BROAD CHUMP emerged.

It’s a surprisingly nontricky theme for a Thursday, I thought, but I see some drawn-out solving times on the applet. So what did you in, if you struggled with this one?

Highlights:

  • 5a. [Rice with three rings] is JERRY Rice with three Super Bowl rings.
  • 20a. STREAKY, [Like poorly cleaned glasses]. My bane. My kryptonite.
  • 71a. To MEOW is to [Copy cats]. Love the clue!
  • 1d. If you’re in the [Thick] of something, you’re in its MIDST. Rather “Saturday Stumperish” clue.
  • 7d. The Greek letter RHO is a [Euripides character?], as in “a letter in the word Euripides.”
  • 39d. ROUSSEAU, ["The Sleeping Gypsy" painter] was a gimme. That was my favorite painting when I was a kid leafing through my mom’s art history book.

Tough bits:

  • 24a. I’ve seen solfege, but perhaps not SOLFA, the [Musical syllable singing system].
  • 48a. Carpet [Piles] are NAPS.
  • 68a. ESTO from Missouri’s motto? Oy.
  • 35d. [Tickle Me Elmo manufacturer] is TYCO? All right, then.

Peter Collins’ Fireball crossword, “Talking Back”

Fireball 3 answers

Really? I thought the title of that song was “Revolution No. 9,” so I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to put at the end of 40a. So the song is just “REVOLUTION 9“? Huh. The crossing didn’t help at all, because [Misogynistic] and ANTI-FEMI{NINE} are not synonymous in my book. Part of the way misogynists hate women is to expect them to all hew to the “femininity” mandate. I had ANTI-WOMAN first, and I can’t say I encounter the word anti-feminine much at all. That’s a blot on the puzzle.

The asterisk by my solving time is because after 7:22 had elapsed, I used Across Lite’s “reveal letter” function to give me the 9/{NINE} and the missing letter in square 59. Forgot about the OAR in that movie. Spent too much time with RERUN in lieu of RERAN, vaguely asking myself if FUR could be a murder weapon. I feel certain that I have never heard the backwards phrase spelled out in 56a: TURN ME ON DEAD MAN? That doesn’t ring a bell at all. Which song purportedly had “Paul is dead” backwards?

It wasn’t too hard to figure out WHITE / ALBUM and THE BEATLES and NUMBER NINE, but the rest of the theme eluded me. I’m guessing I am not alone in this. Hey, have you all seen the Saturday Night Live sketch in which John and Paul are working at a chicken fast food joint? One calls out “Number nine? Number nine? Number nine?” and when no customer comes to the counter, he continues, “Number ten?”

This is the second puzzle in the last week or so with KAL-EL, and it’s the second time I’ve waited for the crossings to tell me if Superman was Kal-El or Jor-El.

Lots of tough spots here. FASTRAK is unknown to me. Slow to dawn on me: REA, CREMA, OTTO, REESE (she played June Carter Cash), AL RITZ (which I learned from another crossword; oh, joy, ’30s-’40s pop culture trivia), and KIEL.

Could’ve done without the mention of “boobs” in the OGLE clue crossing the ADULT/porn section in a video store. What is this, the misogyny subtheme? ADULT needed a better clue.

Dan Naddor and Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution 1/27/11

This puzzle was one of Dan Naddor’s works in progress when he passed away about a year ago. Editor Rich Norris had approved the theme, but Dan didn’t have a chance to complete the puzzle. So Doug Peterson came on board to fill the grid and write the clues, and this team effort is the result. (There are a few more solo Naddors in the queue still.)

The theme is veiled resentment:

  • 45d. A GRUDGE is a [Feeling of resentment associated with the last words of the starred answers]. Can you honestly say there is no one or nothing you hold a grudge against? Just a little bit?
  • 17a. The GRIZZLY BEAR is a [*Yellowstone Park beast]. In each of the theme phrases, the final word is a noun that doubles as a verb that is often paired with “grudge,” as in “bear a grudge.”
  • 28a. [*Fort McHenry defended it in 1814] clues BALTIMORE HARBOR. This is not the sort of trivia I have at my command, but I don’t harbor a grudge against learning American history.
  • 43a. A REGISTERED NURSE is a [*Medical professional]. I would rather nurse a beer than a grudge, but I feel like an idiot when I nurse a Diet Coke. Why is that?
  • 55a. [*Feature of many customer service calls] is MUSIC ON HOLD. Phrase feels a little awkward to me. Wrestling fiend PuzzleGirl could tell us all the wrestling hold names that might’ve worked here, but I don’t know any.

Highlights:

  • 51a. [Seasonal pharmacy offering] is a FLU SHOT. I got a flu shot in September. I’ve had a cold since then, but nothing bad.
  • 3d. [Forensic test site] clues CRIME LAB, which I suspect is much more “in the language” than the DNA LAB that keeps popping up in crosswords.
  • 4d. I don’t watch TMZ ON TV, but boy, what a fresh entry that is. It’s a [Celebrity gossip show].
  • 37d. [Inexpensively] clues FOR A SONG. Isn’t that a terrific entry? I like it.
  • 42d. [Sam Spade, e.g., slangily] is a GUMSHOE.

A few more clues:

  • 40a. [Curly smacker] is MOE of the Three Stooges. That Moe was so abusive. He really needed therapy.
  • 9d. HEALTH FOOD is clued as a [Nutritionist's recommendation]. Not necessarily. Depending on your medical status, you may be warned away from many of the healthiest (fine, fine, pedants: “most healthful”) foods. True story!
  • 25d. ["We get letters" '50s-'60s TV singer/host] clues Perry COMO. I had no idea that phrase had a Perry Como connection.
  • 29d. [Group that goes through the motions?] is a MIME TROUPE. I’ve been leery of mimes ever since I saw The Aristocrats.


Updated Thursday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Playground Set”—Janie’s review

This puzzle has minimal theme fill (only 37 squares; typically, the minimum is 36…), but it’s a strong theme-set—which is always an asset. The three theme phrases all begin with a word that names a piece of apparatus you’d find on a playground (see title…)–and each begins with “S” to boot. There’s a see-saw, a swing and a slide. Here’re the non-playground- based phrases they appear in:

  • 20A. SEE-SAW BATTLES [Close contests]. These are not restricted to military battles as the term may be used to describe contests in sports or in the context of politics. Speaking of the latter, see-saw battles are pretty much de rigeur when trying to secure
  • 31A. SWING VOTERS [Target of many election ads]. The person who finally wins this constituency en route to a rout may then treat him- or herself to a celebration—a parade, perhaps, with a marching band with, if not 76, at least one
  • 48A. SLIDE TROMBONE [Brass band instrument].

As I see it, Randy extends the “childhood remembered” feel suggested by the title with classic kid-lit author A.A. MILNE [Pooh penner] and a clue like [It sent Dorothy to Oz] for TWISTER. (First entered CYCLONE and then TORNADO for that one…) Nice, too how those entries are grid opposites. For touchstones of kid-centered movies there’s EMMA (Watson) [She plays Harry's friend Hermione] (Harry as in Potter) and DAMIEN [Main character in "The Omen"]. Well… both are fantasies anyway, right?

Another of this puzzles real assets is its relatively low word count—only 70—and those open NE and SW corners with their quadruple 6-columns. There are half a dozen more sixes as well, and eight eights, yielding such fill/clues as: TODDLE [Start to walk], SPLEEN and the fine/funny [Organ that's vented], BLOOPS [Some accidental singles], the angsty SWEATS IT [Frets about something], “REMIND ME” ["What was it I said?"], and the lovely (and adjacent) SMILED AT [Showed pleasure toward].

GAME SHOW [Employer of Chuck Woolery] ties in nicely to the media-related TV-PG [Family viewing rating] (and shares the former’s initial “G”). Though I rather doubt there are many (network) game shows with PG ratings… While we’re at the TV, there’s also that [Cast at 6 or 11 PM], your local NEWS TEAM. Always appreciate the warning we get these days when there’s footage from a particularly grizzly story that’s about to be aired. Not just the kids who benefit from being steered away from the screen sometimes…

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Contains Real Meat”

BEQ #301 answers

What? Taco Bell’s ground beef mixture contains oats? So it’s less heart-unhealthy than regular ground beef? Maybe that’s a feature, not a bug.

Brendan’s theme entries have real meat hidden in their midsts: STROBE EFFECT, FOURTH AMENDMENT, and the lively HAVE A LOOK-SEE. Let’s see…that’s two more theme squares (39) than the CrosSynergy puzzle, but with a higher overall word count.

Highlights in the fill:

  • BOHEMIAN, SLAM-BANG, and THE MUMMY are all slam-bang. HOMILIES is a homely but pretty word, if you know what I mean.

I read 62a: [Pledge week figure] as being about PBS or NPR pledge drives. What? Fraternity RUSHEE? Oh. Right. That.

49d: [Pronoun that covers everybody] clues HE/SHE. There was a bully in my son’s day camp last summer who called him “He-She” because of his long hair. It makes me sad that some children are being raised to hate, discriminate, and be mean. And to be idiotic about hair! Seriously. The male rock stars and snowboarders with long, curly locks—are they ladylike? Pfft.

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27 Responses to Thursday, 1/27/11

  1. John E says:

    The NYT was a very nice puzzle in my opinion – not a lot of tired fill and good theme entries.

    Is that the real “pblindauer” though that solved this puzzle in 6:03? I would have thought he could have solved this one a bit faster….

  2. Jeffrey says:

    Funny you call STREAKY your kryptonite because I doubt you know that STREAKY was Supergirl’s (Kara Zor-El) cat.

  3. Neville says:

    What threw me off on PBlind’s NYT? NW and SE… could’ve finished under ten, but I didn’t know NAPS, ESTO (Latin? I thought Esto was Spanish!) and the clever MEOW, which I had as APES for a while. AHEM eventually came, slaying the beast.

    In the NW, I had NASTYCHOKE (not sure why though!), which had me stumped. a quick switch to DIRTY fixed this corner, but it took forever for it to dawn on me.

    ORTHODOX CHEW was my first theme answer here – LOL’d. Nice theme made it easy to get footholds everywhere once you know what to look for. Two thumbs up!

  4. Tuning Spork says:

    I didn’t get Mr. Happy Pencil when I’d “finished” and couldn’t for the life me spot an error. I see by your grid that I mistakenly had SEEM SO/ESSO at the SEEM TO/ESTO crossing. Rats.

  5. joon says:

    john e, i bet that is the real pblindauer. most constructors are not speed-solvers, and it’s probably been long enough since pat constructed the puzzle that he didn’t remember much of it other than the theme answers.

    i did not like ANTIFEMI9 either, or the ADULT/OGLE clues, but i thought the puzzle was pretty cool. especially the bombshell at 56a. (obligatory link to “turn me on, dead man”).

  6. Karen says:

    Me too, Tuning Spork. Why isn’t there a sporcle quiz on state mottoes?

  7. john farmer says:

    I had ESSO too (and NASTY… too, for a while). I think ESSO might have avoided one of the Latins (ESTO / ESSE). But a pretty cool puzzle. Thought the sound changes worked well.

    Like the FB today too.

    Found both to be on the tough side for themed puz’s.

  8. andrea carla michaels says:

    almost word for word what Neville said…I had NASTY for far too long bec I had Thick = DENSE, the pipe became ELL and I couldn’t figure out how one stands (VERY first thought was AKIMBO)
    So I had a DNF on a Patrick puzzle!!!!!!!!! KAPOW!
    Loved the theme…

    To be completely honest tho, that bottom section had too many abbreviations/contractions/wobblies for me for it to have been a perfect Blindauer creation: MNBC crossing ENCYC/ NBAER, next to OER/RTE/TBSP, I think he coulda done better down there.

    But loved JACKO, HOHUM, MMM,..and super clever that APES had to become MEOW.

    I JUST realized that SOLFA must be in SOL FA LA TI DO. Oh wait it’s FA SOL LA TI DO. hmmmm.
    Apropos to nothing, lots of H’s and OmAhA had to magically turn into OSAKA for me to even solve as much as I did!

    @Joon
    Have never heard Patrick called Pat, except when he was a woman

  9. rick says:

    NW seemed to get a lot of us. I also haad DENSE, ELL and NASTY. UNITED finally gave it to me.

    I think it was the spelling of yes SIRREE instead of yes SIREE that threw me.

    Liked that DEMI crossed MOOR.

  10. pauer says:

    No, I guess I couldn’ta done better in the South, or I woulda. There are a couple of people who call me Pat, mostly BEQ and my mom. And yes, it took me 6 minutes to solve my own puzzle (submitted last May). Next time I’ll dig out the answer grid first and show you what a *real* cheater can do.

  11. pauer says:

    Sorry, acme, I didn’t mean to snap at you. I’ve have more coffee, and looking back at the grid now it seems that MSNBC/ENCYC were forced because of the placement of the theme entries and the black squares, and I probably wanted to preserve the large, open area in the middle. NBAER is a UOIYM for me (Use Only If You Must), but I did find some options using NGAIO/GAYICON just now (tho BAYAREA was clearly chosen for my friend out there).

  12. Evad says:

    Wow, the FB was a real slog—something I almost gave up on, even realizing the last entry would be spelled backwards. Familiar with the “number nine” thing, and the Beatles’ White Album, but I don’t think I ever knew what it was supposed to sound like played backwards. I actually thought the bottom entry would be some mathematical equation that equalled 9, as I know Peter and Peter to both be math whizzes (hence OCCAM and SEC., for ex.)

  13. ePeterso2 says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the NYT today for all of the reasons already mentioned. Had to DNF – didn’t know the CERA/ESSE/NAPS crossings. ORTHODOX CHEW is an inspired phrase. And, oddly enough, Wiklqpedia says that the cipher system of musical notation developed by Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU was instrumental in the development of the SOL-FA system. Who knew?

  14. Zulema says:

    ESTO=Let it be! So “Let the welfare of the people be the highest law.” Excellent motto, IMO.

  15. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Zulema, I’ll bet you would do well at the current Sporcle quiz (accessed via the Sporcle tab at the top of this page): It’s a sentence about elephants presented in 36 languages, and the challenge is to identify the languages.

  16. Zulema says:

    Amy, thanks for sending me there. I did fine the first 25 but the rest became muddled. And I didn’t expect old languages. And speed isn’t my thing, so I needed to correct typos before the answers were accepted. Didn’t do terribly, I hope.

  17. joon says:

    amy, the BEQ has five theme answers: EMU and LAMB are hiding in 17/58a. and no, i wouldn’t normally associate EMU with meat except that i’ve had to write (and solve) so many damn EMU clues in the last three years that i’ve seen pretty much the entire gamut.

  18. The EMU bit was a sort of “wink-wink” inside joke for the crossword peeps.

  19. Jan (danjan) says:

    EMU meat is very lean, but needs marinade or seasoning. I could probably find it at the supermarket, but I guess it hasn’t really caught on.

  20. Evad says:

    Really enchoyed the PB NYT…”Shortening used in recipes” and “Copy cats” are HOF clues!

    Also enchoying reading about the new-to-me LUPE Fiasco….

  21. cyberdiva says:

    I enjoyed the NYTimes today, even though finally it defeated me. In two places: 1) the NW corner (like many others, I had DENSE, leading to NASTY and ELL, which prevented me from seeing UNITED or MUSE). Sigh. 2) And I stumbled also over NAPS/CERA. Even after I saw Amy’s answers, I couldn’t figure out what NAPS had to do with PILES until she explained it. On the other hand, I got all the major CH entries, and all but the first full answer (since I had NASTY instead of DIRTY). And I loved “Shortening used in recipes” and “Copy cats,” both of which I got pretty quickly (and lost several minutes patting myself on the back).

    Can someone please explain JACKO? I’ve heard of JackieO, but never JACKO. Who/what is that?

  22. John E says:

    Hey cyberdiva, Jacko is Michael Jackson.

    Pauer, I didn’t realize there was such a lag time between submission and publication – makes sense.

    Amy, to answer your original question, the SW slowed me down, I didn’t know ROUSSEAU (more familiar with the author) and I had TUNAFISH for the longest time until I deduced it to be TUNAMELT. Also, I could only think of LESOTHO and SWAZILAND as landlocked African countries (which originally made me think this was one of those multiple-letters-in-a-box puzzles until I got more of the puzzle ironed out).

  23. cyberdiva says:

    Thanks very much, John E! I was never a Michael Jackson fan, but with all the publicity surrounding his death, I’m surprised I never saw Jacko. I guess that’s the down side of reading the NYTimes and the Washington Post. :-)

  24. John Haber says:

    I couldn’t make sense of Jerry Rice, and there were things I didn’t know like CERA, but overall a very easy Thursday for me. Perfectly nice theme.

  25. Jaunty says:

    “The Essentials” is shown on TCM rather than the TMC that mistakenly appears in BEQ’s puzzle. This threw me for a bit of a loop but a great puzzle overall. BEQ finds ways to make even three-letter initialisms like CDR into amusing entries, thanks to flavorful cluing.

  26. John Haber says:

    Oh, it’s too late to complain about earlier in the week, but galleries in lofts wasn’t a good clue Tuesday. Lofts are the abandoned industrial spaces of the 1970s and 1980s that some artists were lucky enough to colonize at the time, a time of fewer artists and art itself a more marginal aspect of popular culture. They weren’t, despite the connotations of a “loft,” on top-floor spaces necessarily. They also were rarely on ground-floor spaces, in old buildings in which the ground floor was often merely the elevator.

    Those spaces are long since gone, and illegal incursions into commercial space is more tightly regulated to preserve jobs. On top of that, galleries really don’t want that kind of space. They want ground floors with walk-in traffic, like any store!

    John

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