Sunday, 2/27/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/02/26" plug="sunday-22711" puzz="Reagle" anchor="mr"]12:54 (Jeffrey)/8:39 (Amy)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/02/26" plug="sunday-22711" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]8:09[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/02/26" plug="sunday-22711" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]7:53[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/02/26" plug="sunday-22711" puzz="BG" anchor="bg"]16:52 (Sam)/6:35 (Amy)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/02/26" plug="sunday-22711" puzz="WaPo" anchor="wp"]8:19[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/02/26" plug="sunday-22711" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]14:56 (Sam)/3:07 (Amy)[/time_hdr]


Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword, “V-2″

NY Times crossword answers 2/27/11 0227

Does “V-2″ mean anything? Are there two-cylinder V-2 engines? My gearhead child tells me that some motorcycles have them. That’s beside the point for this theme, which is two-word phrases with V.V. initials. Themes like this are find, but once you understand what the theme is, the “aha” action is over and there’s really no inherent entertainment value in the theme. The entertainment lies in the standard “read clues, fill in answers” process rather than in any wordplay or jokes.

Now, the grid is noteworthy for two things:

  1. It’s got left-right symmetry rather than rotational symmetry, with two vast V’s made out of black squares in the center.
  2. The vertex of each V envelops an unchecked letter, which is a flagrant violation of the usual crossword rule against “unches.” But in both cases, the stand-alone letter is a V, so it’s got a thematic justification of sorts.

The V-2 phrases are as follows:

  • 27a. VIETNAM VETS
  • 73a. Actor VINCE VAUGHN
  • 107a. VESTAL VIRGINS. Are you like me? Does this phrase invariably call to mind Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”? Go have a look-see-listen. Nutty late-’60s London video, overwrought lyrics, curvy mustache that is again in style for the hipster.
  • 4d. VICE VERSA
  • 16d. VINCA VINE, clued as a [Plant with purple flowers]. I always think of vines as climbing, but I suppose the vinca (a.k.a. periwinkle) in my front yard qualifies as a “trailing” vine. How long before the first mid-spring blooms emerge? Too long, I fear. (Uh, I have never heard the term “vinca vine” and I don’t think I like it.)
  • 59d. The VILLAGE VOICE. Sure, they do some decent journalism, but who can forgive them for running Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword and then cancelling the puzzle?
  • 63d. Tricky clue for VARICOSE VEIN made me think of submarines: [Vessel seen just below the surface?].

I’ll bet Jane Fonda’s daughter Vanessa Vadim is disappointed not to make the cut here. And kids’ singer/songwriter Laurie Berkner’s classic “Victor Vito” is pouting in the corner with op-artist Victor Vasarely and movie Victor Victoria.

Lots of nice fill in this puzzle, no? I liked HUMVEES, LOVED ONES, SARCASM, RUNNERS-UP, TIDED OVER, STAND-INS (far from the only phrase with IN, though)  THE FED, and the word FATUOUS. The grid’s heavy on the 7′s, 8′s, and 9′s, which is a good thing, especially when the fill’s solid.

I had four mystery answers today:

  • 13a. CHIVIED is clued [Annoyed with persistent petty attacks]. Dictionary tells me that chivy (short I sound)/chivvy/chevy means to “tell someone repeatedly to do something.”
  • 22a. The [1994 Red Hot Chili Peppers album] is called OUT IN L.A. “A compilation of rare tracks,” Wikipedia tells me, and not a studio album. No wonder I didn’t know it.
  • 91a. [Aircraft control surface] is ELEVON? A whatchamacallit involved in ELEVation? It’s the “movable part of the trailing edge of a delta wing,” if you’re curious.
  • 1d. Aleph, beth, gimel…I’m out. The [Eighth Hebrew letter] is HETH.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “Up and Down” – Sam Donaldson’s review

My first impression upon starting the puzzle:  Look at the elegant grid, with the zig-zagging staircases cutting through the middle!  (Pausing like this at the beginning to admire the pretty, pretty picture is one reason why I’m not an especially fast solver.) Indeed, the staircases are an apt depiction of this puzzle’s theme:  Cox and Rathvon offer four way to go up and four ways to go down, and those ways are depicted visually in the grid.  The theme entries on the left side of the grid are all clued [Way to go...uphill] and are written upside-down into the grid so that they appear to “go uphill”:

  • 4-Down reads TEPRAC CIGAM, but that’s because it’s a MAGIC CARPET “going up” in the grid.  Teprac Cigam would be a great name for a preppy rapper.  Word.
  • 9-Down is ALODNOG, or GONDOLA.  The reference here is to the gondolas that ferry you up mountains, not the boats that navigate through the shopping mall at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.  Boats aren’t so practical for going uphill.
  • 45-Down is RALUCINUF, or a FUNICULAR.  Okay, I’ll confess: that’s new to me.  Wikipedia says that a funicular “is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope; the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalance each other.”  (Side note: you gotta love Wikipedia–what exactly makes a vehicle “tram-like” but not quite a tram?)  Anyway, that’s a funicular to the right.  The funicular turned out to be a more popular form of incline than its predecessor, the bore-icular.
  • 77-Down is TFILRIAHC, or CHAIRLIFT.  I’ve got nothing here, so insert your own chairlift-related joke.

Likewise, the theme entries on the right side of the grid are all clued [Way to go...downhill] and are written in conventional top-to-bottom form:

  • 15-Down is SNOWBOARD.  If you do it right, it’s a fast way to go down.  If you do it like I do, with constant falls, it takes a tad longer.
  • 47-Down is SCHUSSING.  I think that word was invented by SOTS (clued here as [Dipsomaniacs]).  “Esh-coosh me, offisher, but I was minding my own business, just schussing along, and this Mish-ter Pine Tree just jumped right out in…he came right out and…he planted himshelf right in my way.”
  • 71-Down is GIANT SLALOM, which was the first thing I thought of when I saw the zig-zagging pattern in the grid.
  • 88-Down is SKI JUMP. Whenever I think of a ski jump, I think of the poor guy in the old “Wide World of Sports” opening.  Am I alone in this?

Hmm.  Seven of the eight theme entries clearly have a wintry vibe.  But then there’s “magic carpet.”  I’m guessing maybe “magic carpet” is another name for a T-bar or something mountain-sport related, because it sure sticks out like a sore thumb otherwise.

I like how the “up” entries are all on the left and the “down” entries are on the right, but it would have been fun for them to alternate up, down, up, down from left to right–it would simulate the winter sports enthusiast who repeatedly goes up and down the mountain.  But that’s easier said than done, I suppose.

I liked the theme, but the smooooth fill and some of the clues really made this offering shine.  I immediately like any puzzle that makes reference to one of my favorite TV shows, so ["The Big Bang Theory" guys] is a great clue for NERDS.  Note that the winter theme is extended with ICE CAP, the British Columbian BUGABOOS (a granite mountain range, thank you very much), BOBSLED (clued as the ["Cool Runnings" vehicle]), and the BIATHLON.  Go figure, this BG puzzle has lots of Boston references.  There’s David ORTIZ, [Bosox #34], [Where "Cheers" was set] as the clue for IN A BAR (yes, I tried BOSTON first), and [Beantown] as the clue for THE HUB (yes, I tried BOSTON first).  Couple this cool stuff with the artistic grid and you have a great puzzle.

By my standards, this was a quick solve. Were it not for the Michigan section of the grid, I would have shaved another two or three minutes off my time. The aforementioned BUGABOOS were, well, a bugaboo for me.  As a native of the Pacific Northwest, COHO, the [Silver salmon], was a gimme.   But its crossings were not.  Well, okay, IMAC, the [Apple desktop], was easy.  But I can never seem to remember the [Big wheel], NABOB.  And as mentioned above, I kept BOSTON as the answer to [Beantown] for far too long.  And since I only know OMAHA as a city and a tribe (and not as the name of the [1935 Triple Crown horse]), that region consumed a lot of time.  Oh, it didn’t help that I kept wanting to assign a letter grade as the answer to [Freshman's grade] (you know, like C-PLUS or something) when all the grid wanted was NINTH. {Head slap} D’oh!

Okay, that’s enough for now. Back Sunday with the CrossSynergy puzzle!

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Near-Miss Oscar Nominees”—Jeffrey’s review

Theme: Punny take-offs of today’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture

Theme answers:

  • 23A. [Unnominated film featuring Inspector Clouseau?] – THE SOCIAL NITWIT (The Social Network).
  • 29A. [Unnominated film (part of a series) about the making of "War and Peace"?] – TOLSTOY 3 (Toy Story 3). Toy Story 3 is my favorite among the nominees that I’ve seen. OK, it’s the only one I’ve seen but I loved it. “We Belong Together”
  • 31A./49A [Unnominated film about a CPA's family?] – THE KIDS ARE ALL WRITE-OFFS (The Kids Are All Right). Yay, accounting humour!
  • 57A. [Unnominated film about an average week in Seattle?] – 127 SHOWERS (127 Hours). This week was very unaverage with lots of snow. Have you dug out yet, Sam? “If I Rise”
  • 69A. [Unnominated film with a fuzzy subject?] – THE KING’S PEACH (The King’s Speech)
  • 80A. [Unnominated film with a corny plot?] – THE FRITTER (The Fighter)
  • 91A. [Unnominated film about a guy who dreams of getting cable?] – RECEPTION (Inception)
  • 104A. [Unnominated film about the recipe that got Hans Christian Andersen arrested?] – BLACKENED SWAN (Black Swan). Not sure I understand the arrested part.
  • 111A. [Unnominated film about a Southern diner with really tiny portions?] – TWO GRITS (True Grit)
  • 119A. [Unnominated film about the cold, hard life of a horn player?] – WINTER’S TROMBONE (Winter’s Bone)
  • Given the constraints of 10 films of varying letter length, and two with numbers in the title, an excellent selection of movies I’d rather see. Reagle rocks again.

    Today’s music choices are all Oscar winners or nominees for Best Original  Song.

    Other stuff:

    There was a constructor named Reagle
    As famous as Snoopy the beagle,
    The words he would spin
    You’d groan, but you’d grin
    Then wish that his puns were illegal.

    • 13D. [Fairy tale monster] – BEASTIE
    • 17D. [Intro to Stooges or Musketeers] – THE 3. He had to do it. “3 Coins In the Fountain”
    • 40D. [Assuming it will happen at all] – I-FEVER. Sick over Apple products.
    • 42D. [Hole-___ (green coup)] – IN1.  “A Whole New World”
    • 43D. [Gas that plants absorb, briefly] – CO2. “Two Hearts”
    • 44D. [Bond, James Bond] – OO7. For Your Eyes Only”
    • 48D. [Knows somebody, e.g.] – HAS A NIN. Have you got your nin?
    • 59D. [Faux pas] – MISSTEP. I wanted mistake but that was a mistake.
    • 66D. [Colin Firth, for one] – ACTOR. A nominee today.
    • 70D. [Continue] – KEEP ON. “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”
    • 79D. [Start of a game] – JAI/81D. ["Bali ___"] – HAI. Ai-yai-yai!
    • 82D. [Make very happy] – ELATE. Send a belated Tweet – E-LATE
    • 89D. [Wassail ingredient, often] – HO TALE. Alternate title for Pretty Woman?
    • 103D. ["___ an accident!"] – IT WAS. “Accidentally in Love”
    • 106D. [Longtime DJ Casey] – KASEM. Also voice of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo. Enjoy the show. Until next time, keep  on punnin’!

    Jeremy Horwitz and Byron Walden’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “It’s an Honor Just to Be Nominated”

    2/27/11 LA Times crossword solution

    I’m not such a movie trivia buff that I recognized right off the bat that this was a Peter O’Toole theme. (For the record, the crosswordiest movie buffs I know are Jeremy Horwitz, Caleb Madison, and Ray Hamel.) But MY FAVORITE YEAR gave it away. The movie’s built around all the movies for which O’Toole has been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar (never once winning—he’s got an honorary Oscar, but not a competitive one). Cool how the movie titles and a few key words could fit into a symmetrical theme. Here goes:

    • 1a. [*1964] is BECKET, the 1964 film for which O’Toole was nominated for a ’65 Oscar.
    • 7a. [*2006] clues VENUS, one of those movies in which the viewer is not supposed to think it’s creepy that an old man and young woman are eyeballing one another.
    • 28a. [*1968] clues THE LION IN WINTER, with Katharine Hepburn.
    • 43a. [*1972, with "The"] clues RULING CLASS. Okay, so 28a keeps its THE while 43a stores its THE in the clue.
    • 65a. [*1982] gives us MY FAVORITE YEAR. 1982 was not my favorite year.
    • 67a, 71a. [*With 71-Across, 1962] splits LAWRENCE / OF ARABIA into two halves.
    • 72a. [*1969] clues GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS. Anyone else in the mood for chips now?
    • 96a. [*1980] clues THE STUNT MAN, another title that doesn’t lose its THE.
    • 112a. [See 127-Across] sends you elsewhere for a hint that the answer is BEST ACTOR OSCAR.
    • 127a, 128a. Way down in the very last row of the grid, we get PETER / O’TOOLE, [With 128-Across, performer nominated for 112-Across (he didn't win any) in all of the answers to starred clues].

    Timely trivia theme, with the Oscars airing Sunday night. Then again, maybe this puzzle should’ve run right after he lost for Venus a few years ago.

    Tons of good multi-word answers in the fill:

    • 18a. IN RAGS isn’t great, but it’s rescued by the fabulous clue, [Dressed like Cinderella].
    • 25a. [2009-'10 "At the Movies" co-host] is A.O. SCOTT, a.k.a. Tony Scott. I saw his cubicle at the NYT building when Ellen Ripstein gave Janie and me a tour.
    • 33a. Jolly old ST. NICK is a [Yule VIP].
    • 49a. ["Man alive!"] “Well, I’LL BE!” Folksy equivalence in clue and answer.
    • 87a. Does this [Make sense]? It just doesn’t STACK UP, does it?
    • 99a. [Tennis shoe that debuted at Wimbledon in 1966] is K-SWISS.
    • 7d. VFW HALLS are [Facilities for many ex-GIs]. Great entry.
    • 12d. [Toasted] doesn’t clue an -ED word, it clues DRANK TO. I’ll drink to that!
    • 41d. RATHER THAN means [Instead of].
    • 44d. [Remedy for a pain in the neck], quite literally, is a NERVE BLOCK.
    • 88d. [It runs through four Great Lakes] clues the U.S. BORDER.
    • 101d. If a kid [Grew quickly], he really SHOT UP.

    A few favorite clues:

    • Look at this visual pair. 23a: [Concerned with pupils?] clues OCULAR, while 81d: [Light-minded pursuit?] clues OPTICS.
    • 68d. [Chicago Loop's __ Center] clues AON. Aon is the Chicago-based insurance company whose name is affixed to what began as the Standard Oil Building and was long called the Amoco Building. It’s the world’s 27th tallest building.
    • 1d. [Like the most secure passports nowadays] clues BIOMETRIC. Pretty sure my passport lacks any sort of biometric security. No fingerprints, no retinal scans.
    • 32d. An Easter EGG is a [Hunt subject]. Tough clue.
    • 65d. ["Who wants candy?" response] is “ME! ME!
    • 91d. [Either parent in "Heather Has Two Mommies"] is a LESBIAN.

    Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrossSynergy Syndicate Crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

    The people have spoken! Evad’s reign of terror over the Sunday Challenge puzzle has been quelched!  Okay, not really.  Evad’s on vacation in Atsoc Acir, so I’m pulling double duty today.  And given my time on this puzzle, “double duty” is pretty accurate–I spent almost as much time on this 15×15 puzzle as I did on the 21×21 Boston Globe puzzle!  And yet, in retrospect, it wasn’t really that hard.  I just made it more difficult than it was.  I was making great time until hitting the northwest corner, and then the wheels came off.  But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

    This is a lovely 66-word grid. With only 32 black squares (two of them are “cheaters”), there are four wide-open patches in the corner. I’m a sucker for “quad-stacks”: four long entries stacked side-by-side or atop each other. Ashwood-Smith offers a slight variation here, with triple-stacked tens paired with a 15-letter entry that feeds into triple-stacked eights.   Not an easy grid to fill, to say the least.

    The 15s are a little uneven. I loved the [Spat-beginning words], DON’T START WITH ME! But the [American showmen], BARNUM AND BAILEY, doesn’t quite hold my interest.  We know lots about P.T. Barnum, but little about Bailey, except that his grandson Beetle has had a distinguished career in the military.

    The tens themselves are fine, though only CHOPSTICKS, the [Simple piece], seems very fresh.  One way to measure the sparkle of a triple- or quad-stack is to play the Wheel of Fortune Bonus Game.  Simply take out all the letters other than R,S,T,L,N, and E and see if you could guess the entry.  If you can get all or most of the words in the stack, perhaps it has too many common letters and a resulting flatness.  Here, the lower stack would have ?N?ERS??RE, ST?NE?EN?E, and S?N?RESSES.  All of those are pretty gettable, and sure enough, the southeast corner just feels a little flat.  On the other hand, the northwest corner has ????ST???S, RE???RS???, and ELE?T?R?TE.  The last one’s a gimme, but the others put up more of a fight.  Sure enough, CHOPSTICKS atop REPAIR SHOP is a nice opening combo.  And, not surprisingly, the Down entries in this corner are more interesting than those in the southeast.

    My favorite entries included MAMA BEAR and OPEN IT . My favorite clue was ["The Joy of ___" (Gyles Brandreth book about words)]  Yes, I wanted SEX at first (who doesn’t?), but once I read the whole clue I realized it was LEX, as in lexicography.

    I broke into the grid with ["There is ___!"]. My first thought, A GOD, turned out to be right, though at the time I wasn’t especially confident with it. I jumped to the crossing at the “G” (always building off the rarest letter first where I can), and [Reagan's time] was a gimme for the EIGHTIES. That led to SEN, the [Capitol Hill VIP], and I was off and running.  IMPINGE led to VEE, which quickly gave up DIVIDEND and I was into the southeast corner.  SUNDRESSES was the first to fall, which I just knew had to be right because of the E’s and S’s that are popular last letters for the crossings.  Once I had enough to guess BAILEY, his partner was easy to deduce, and I was into the southwest.  Can’t say I was familiar with TENERIFE, the [Largest of the Canary Islands], but the crossings were all very fair.

    Finally I hit the northwest.  All I had for entry points were -LIS for [Acre residents] and -WITH ME, for the fighting words.  The first part of the phrase was eluding me, so I tried focusing on the Acre residents.  All I could think of was Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood, but no Pooh character fit that pattern.  Impeded but not beaten, I started hunting for random entries in that section.  I tried ETHICS for [Guiding principles] (it should have been CREDOS), and that didn’t help matters.  I knew OTIS is the answer to all elevator-related clues, so the C in ETHICS was wrong.  I saw that the [Gift-giver's cry] ended in IT, so first I tried KEEP IT.  Of course, it’s OPEN IT.  I managed to plunk down SITS as the answer to [Uses a tuffet], and that fed ELECTORATE.  Still, the rest took way too long to fall.  Once I tumbled to CREDOS, the rest finally emerged.  The Acre residents are ISRAELIS!  Turns out I was more than a little fooled by [Simple piece] as the clue to CHOPSTICKS, as the S at the end had me thinking the crossing, SPEW, had to be wrong.

    I was relieved (and happy) to conquer the puzzle–finally!–and that’s one of the best feelings for a solver.  So even if the southern region of the grid is a tad bland, color me happy.

    Hmm, I could get used to this CrossSynergy blogging thing.  Maybe I’ll stay here for a while….

    Trip Payne’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 47″

    Washington Post Puzzler No. 47 crossword answers

    This puzzle kicked my butt. It was remarkably low on the “gimmes for Amy” front. The answers sure look familiar, but their clues really got in the way, especially in the northwest. To wit:

    • 1a. I know CLEOPATRA, but [Man-eating plant on "The Addams Family"]?? I had no idea. With the C in place, I even tried COUSIN ITT (what do I know of Cousin Itt’s phylogenetic identification?), which was strikingly unhelpful. Even anti-helpful.
    • 15a. Never heard of the Legion of Doom, so I had no idea [Legion of Doom leader] was Superman’s nemesis LEX LUTHOR.
    • 17a. [Game with a maximum score of 99,990 points] clues ASTEROIDS. Now, how would I know such a thing? This three-stack killed me. I got hopeful with that A and a 9-letter space and tried AIR HOCKEY. Yes, I know it makes no sense at all, when you win with a far smaller point total than that. But I love air hockey and would have liked to see it in a crossword, far more than any video game trivia clue.
    • 58a. The clue [2003 No Doubt hit] could also read [Random phrase] for all I know about No Doubt. They had Gwen Stefani, who went solo and has a LAMB fashion line, and they had some funny-looking guys. Song titles? You got me. The answer is IT’S MY LIFE.
    • 6d. I figured [Benzene ring sextet] was looking for something really specific. Just ATOMS? Okay.
    • 24d. [Todd's co-conspirator] is LOVETT. I have no idea what this refers to. Mary Todd plotted with astronaut Jim Lovett? No, wait, that’s Lovell. Lyle Lovett? Googling…Oh, for crying out loud. Add to Broadway musicals to comic books and video games on the list of Things Decidedly Not in Amy’s Wheelhouse. Sweeney Todd, Mrs. Lovett. I proclaim that the clue is patently unfair in leaving out any hint that it’s about a musical.
    • 39d. Never heard of STRAITS [___ Settlements (former British crown colony)], but at least it’s an English word I could piece together with some crossings.

    Grr.

    Highlights:

    • 22a, 11d. [Coined word?] is the UNUM of a coin’s “E pluribus unum” inscription. [One's original home] is the U.S. MINT where a $1 bill was printed.
    • 23a. Movie trivia I know from reading movie reviews: [It weighs 21 grams, according to the movie "21 Grams"] refers to the SOUL.
    • 35a. [Introduction to Herodotus?] is the Greek letter ETA (H) at the beginning of Herodotus’s name.
    • 36a. Why not clue a Roman numeral with a little Latin arithmetic? [Septem x octo, alternatively] is 7 x 8, or 56, or LVI.
    • 50a. [Touch screen options] comprise the MENU.
    • 55a. I confess I didn’t know what [Absquatulated] meant. It’s defined as a humorous word for “leave abruptly,” as in “Qaddafi will absquatulate if he knows what’s good for him.” It clues RAN.
    • 60a. I thought [Do lines?] would be hairdo lines, or PARTS, but that wouldn’t work with the crossings. It’s not about cocaine, either: WRITE some lines.
    • 62a. [Home to a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery] is SALEM. Witch trials in history, Samantha the witch on Bewitched, it all adds up.
    • 63a. [Time of youthful innocence] means your SALAD DAYS.
    • 8d. [Became uncomfortable, in a way] clues RODE UP, as in when your underwear crawls up your butt.
    • 9d. A gun[Powder room?] is the ARSENAL.
    • 40d. [Scoop, for example] made me think of exclusive news scoops first, rather than a UTENSIL.
    • 52d. A [Hit recipient] is a web SITE.
    This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    22 Responses to Sunday, 2/27/11

    1. Jeffrey says:

      The V at CHIVIED/VINCA VINE was my last letter and a guess, but given the theme, what else could it be? Agree with your take.

    2. joon says:

      yeah, i spent about 3 minutes on that corner. i *think* i’ve seen VINCA before but i needed every letter. CHIVIED/OUT IN LA were not happening for me, and the clues for COSTS, HUPS, and SPANNED were (i thought) tough. the rest of the puzzle was kind of a blur, though.

    3. LARRY says:

      Choked on “CHIVIED” and on “ELEVON”, but otherwise a lot of fun.

    4. arthur118 says:

      With a profusion of vinca around the old homestead, I was surprised to see it presented as VINCAVINE and immediately thought of that old “You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay,” joke, to wit, “You can call me vinca or you can call me vinca minor or you can call me vinca major or you can call me periwinkle but you can’t call me vinca vine.”

      You are right that the “aha” moment doesn’t last beyond the first theme “get” but, fortunately there seemed to be enough clever fill to make the puzzle interesting.

    5. Gareth says:

      Isn’t there also a V2 rocket? Also Didn’t like VINCAVINE much, the rest were killer entries though! Had a dilemma between OLAF and OLAV, but the theme content settled it. Loved all that long-word covered white space too, so many great answers! Hand up for battling in the top-right, because I misspelled it SHIVIES and crossed that with SHOTS. It also doesn’t help if your RHCP album chronology goes Blood Sugar Sex Magik, One Hot Minute…

    6. Todd G says:

      How about this for a chairlift-related joke?

      http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/skier-suffers-exposure

      P.S.: I don’t know why Pete Collins used VINCA VINE instead of VIA VENETO…the latter seems to fill just fine.

    7. Paresis C says:

      40D Assuming it will happen at all – if ever not i-fever
      48D knoes somebody – has an in — nothing to do with nin

    8. Steve D says:

      Re elevon…a flight control surface that combines the functions of the elevator for pitch control and the aileron for roll control.

    9. Meem says:

      The elevon is used on delta-wing planes which are shaped, ta da, like the letter “v.”

    10. pannonica says:

      Ton, elevon, twolve.

    11. sandirhodes says:

      Paresis C: After you’ve read more of Jeffrey’s reviews, you’ll understand his style better.

      “This puzzle kicked my butt.” And you finished in 8:19. LOL! Einstein would be proud.

    12. joon says:

      my butt was kicked much more thoroughly than amy’s by trip’s puzzler, but the damage was limited to the SW corner, where i didn’t know 43a, 47, 56a, 62a, or 38d, and ARIADNE/EPA for PHAEDRA/REM had me pretty thoroughly hosed. took me about 11 minutes to sort it all out, much longer than it took to solve the rest of the puzzle.

    13. HH says:

      “Paresis C: After you’ve read more of Jeffrey’s reviews, you’ll understand his style better.”

      Gotta love people why try to “correct” things that are so obviously meant as jokes!

    14. Evad says:

      sknahT maS!

    15. Amy Reynaldo says:

      And then Paresis C was fine with “HO TALE” being a wassail ingredient in the same Jeffrey write-up.

    16. Jeffrey says:

      It isn’t HO TALE?

    17. HH says:

      Many years back when I was working at Games magazine, one of their earlier “hidden contests” was spelled out in the (otherwise meaningless, in this case) captions on the Eyteball Benders puzzle. We got a letter from a solver who claimed one of the captions didn’t make sense. … apparently the rest of them were okay?

    18. I Before E says:

      Re Post Puzzler: The MINT makes coins not ONES, those are made by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. At least that was the case some time ago when I visited their facilities.

    19. pannonica says:

      TOTI
        E
      HORS
      ESTO

    20. John Haber says:

      Reporting late, fun grid. I too got stymied for quite some time by the NE. (I didn’t know either CHIVIED or VINCA VINE, but knowing the V theme ended up having the actual missing spaces not in their crossings, but with those two, SPANNED, and HUPS, especially as I’d thought of “scanned.”)

      My other tough spot was the Congo river with _LLA, but that I guess was a case of what else could it be, too.

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