Thursday, 3/10/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/09" plug="thursday-31011" puzz="Fireball" anchor="fb"] 6:43[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/09" plug="thursday-31011" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]4:31[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/09" plug="thursday-31011" puzz="BEQ" anchor="bq"]4:29 (Amy)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/09" plug="thursday-31011" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]5:54 (Neville)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/09" plug="thursday-31011" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"] untimed[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/09" plug="thursday-31011" puzz="Tausig" anchor="bt"]untimed[/time_hdr]

Matt Ginsberg’s New York Times crossword

3/10/11 NY Times crossword answers

When I filled in POLISH for 31d: [*Shine] and had a handful of letters near the ends of 16a and 36a, I thought about the sort of word oddities that have inspired Matt Ginsberg to make previous crosswords and said “Aha, —— PRONOUNCED / DIFFERENTLY,” because there’s long-O Polish as well as polish. Indeed, the theme includes four words with starred clues that are WORDS PRONOUNCED / DIFFERENTLY / WHEN CAPITALIZED:

  • 1a. [Poet's performance] is a READING, small-R reading. With a capital R, I think Reading is pronounced “redding.” (Not as in Reading Is Fundamental—as in Reading, Pennsylvania.)
  • 65a. [*Like Seattle vis-a-vis Phoenix] clues RAINIER, as in “more rainy.” You know what’s near Seattle? Mount Rainier.
  • 22d. If it’s [Not fixed] into place, it’s MOBILE. Now, that adjective has three pronunciations of its second syllable’s main vowel, my dictionary tells me, and one of ‘em is the long-E sound found in Mobile, Alabama. But “MO-bull” and “mo-bile” are more common for the adjective than “mo-beel” (which is the pronunciation for the noun mobile, as in a moving sculpture).
  • 31d. [*Shine] = POLISH, as discussed above.

Although MOBILE isn’t 100% unimpeachable, it still works, and I do like this theme.

Highlights:

  • 14a. I misremembered the [Country with which the U.S. goes to war in "Wag the Dog"] as a made-up land rather than real ALBANIA. Great clue, though.
  • 27a. REDONDO! This [__ Beach, Calif.] town has been in the news this week on account of a die-off of millions of anchovies and sardines. How pretty the harbor looks when the surface is glistening silver!
  • 62a, 63a. The puzzle is talking to me. “LAST ONE!” Liar! There are three more Across answers to come. But that’s OK. “I MANAGE.”
  • 1d. RAW BAR, great fill, but nowhere I want to eat.
  • 36d. I do like names in the puzzle, but I won’t think less of you if [William who played Uncle Charley on "My Three Sons"] wasn’t a gimme for you. And I won’t blame you if you think I’m nuts for putting DEMAREST on my highlights list.
  • 39d. PAD THAI, great fill.
  • 44d. BANZAI, ditto. You don’t see a ton of longish answers that end with -AI, you know,

Lowlights:

  • 45d. ARIEGE, some [French department in the Pyrenees]? Ouch. Never heard of it. I tried AMIENS thanks to the A, I, and E, but no dice.
  • 29d. OLEA is clued as [Pharmaceutical oils]. The cognates (oil, oleo, oleaginous) are clear enough, but I don’t recall ever running into this word before.
  • 33d. I’m OK with the EMU at 9d, but the ERN is more crosswordesey.
  • 50d. The clue’s lively, but seeing the partial IS I in the grid isn’t.
  • 60d. Anyone know LAI ([Medieval French love poem]) from literature/language studies and not from crosswords?

Pamela Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review

3/10/11 LA Times crossword solution

 

SWITCHBLADE is the [Street weapon, and a hint to the circled letters in 17-, 23- and 48-Across] that Pamela’s used as theme fodder today. BLADE gets SWITCHed up in the three remaining theme entries:

  • 17a. A [Negotiation obstacle] is a DEAL BREAKER. “No deal, Howie!” Too much Deal or No Deal this week?
  • 23a. [Recovery sites] are HOSPITAL BEDS. That’s probably the best possible wThisay to clue this.
  • 48a. [Most agree] that the NATIONAL DEBT [should be reduced], but I for one think we should spend, baby, spend! I can’t stress enough how much I’m kidding here.

There’s a lot of nice fill in this puzzle:

  • 40a. [State capital component, often] – SALES TAX. No, ROTUNDA doesn’t fit – that would be for a state capitol, anyway. This one took me a few letters, but I loved the payoff.
  • 32a. [Holdup note?] – LATE PASS. A punny winner here. In middle school, our choir director wouldn’t accept late passes, yet she always kept us late and would write notes for us. Pot, meet kettle.
  • 8d. [Words of aggression] – TAKE THAT! Said in battle? Maybe. In checkers? Absolutely.
  • 25d. [Bronco or Charger] – AUTO. Now that’s an unexpected answer for me. Makes perfect sense, but my mind said, “Sports? Pass.”

ORE and OAR ran right next to each other in the top center. No referential homophone clue? I’m grateful for it. That’s it from me this week – see you in the ACPT lead-up week. Keep puzzling!

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 37″

Fireball 2:08 answers

Dang, I misspelled KWYJIBO as “KWAJIBO.” How embarrassing! I almost remembered the right spelling of the most cromulent Simpsons-created Scrabble play. This fake insanity is my pick for favorite entry of the day.

So, so much sports in this one. A river clue is for a REGATTA. I’ve never heard of ERIC Crouch. An edible SNOWCONE is so much more familiar than whatever this baseball clue was. Bowling has a ONE PIN. OARED and ARCHERY are sort of athletic. Didn’t recall GANG GREEN until I had at least 6 or 7 letters. Even NIP gets a sports clue. Too much!

I can never see the MINERAL [Apatite, e.g.] without think of moviemaker Judd Apatow.

Is it just me or do both GETS JIGGY WITH IT and YOU DA MAN feel a tad dated?

Love the clue for HEIMLICH—12d: [A 1974 Emergency Medicine article by him included the line "eject the offending bolus like the cork from a champagne bottle"]. Pop!


Updated Thursday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sacrifices Must Be Made”—Janie’s review

Yesterday was the late-appearing Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of a most sacred period on the Christian calendar—a time when many believers forgo certain luxuries in advance of Easter. Donna capitalizes on this idea in her 4-part Q&A-quip.

The Q (which, at first blush, I thought was going to take us into “Que Sera, Sera” territory…):

  • 17A. WHAT WILL I BE
  • 26A. GIVING UP FOR LENT?

(Hmm. What is it Donna is trying to SUGGEST [Hint at]? Aha.)

The A:

  • 44A. ALL OF MY NEW YEAR’S
  • 59A. RESOLUTIONS.

I’m impressed that she held on to ‘em this long!

There isn’t lotsa other showy stuff in this puzzle, but that’s not to say it’s either NEBULOUS [Lacking distinct form] where, say, the tone is concerned or without its verbal charms. “NO, SIR” [Respectful denial]. In fact, there’s some especially strong cluing today. In no particular order, here’s a list of the many things I liked—a lot:

  • [One may hear this from a kitten in distress] clues MEWLING—which is not a sound you’re likely to hear from LEO [Feline zodiac sign]…
  • [Platters, so to speak] for VINYL and [Insincere talk] for JIVE. Jive‘s a great slang word. It can also refer to swing and jazz-band music. The kind that got recorded on vinyl.
  • ["Shaken, not stirred" cocktail] clues MARTINI. For “Bond, James Bond.”
  • Seems appropriate that [Frug's relative] WATUSI abuts the dance-related GYRATES [Spins] in the grid. Never heard of the Watusi? Take a listen to The Orlons (from their vinyl days).
  • You might need to brush up on your MATH [Numbers class?] to remember that 1/3 x 6 = 2, which is handy for confirming that ANNE is the [Name of one-third of Henry VIII's wives]. Half of ‘em were Catherine—and one solitary Jane…
  • And while the dry, chem-lab [Ethanol, in relation to dimethyl ether] clues ISOMER, on the kind of rainy day this one promises to be, dry is one of the attractive features of the fill directly above it, SEDONA [Arizona city known for its energy vortices]. Sounds heavenly.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “This Year for Lent”—Matt Gaffney’s review

Are you giving up anything for Lent? Brendan Quigley’s post-Mardi Gras puzzle envisions what four famous folks would be advised to go without:

20a. Pac-Man would be told to GIVE UP THE GHOST. Which means that he must survive for 40 days on dots, power pellets and the occasional piece of fruit.

30a. Actor Nathan is advised to “FAST, LANE!”

35a, 42a. Supreme Court justice Sonia (not Sonya) Sotomayor would want to REFRAIN FROM JUDGMENT.

53a. Finally, chess legend Garry Kasparov is advised not to make a QUEEN SACRIFICE. Like move 23 here.

Nice theme, since there are two food items and two behavioral items given up, which seems like about the right proportion for Lenten abstentions. You might argue slight inconsistency since the synonym for “give up” is at the beginning of the first three entries and and the end of the last one, but Merl Reagle would counter: Not one solver in 1,000 will notice that, but they will notice whether the answers are funny. Which they are, so this works.

Fill highlights:

  • KUMQUAT, JIF, RED SUITS, MAIN ISSUE, PETER ARNO, GETS WARM. Notice how Quigley almost never wastes an 8- or 9-letter fill opportunity.

Quibbles: I’d prefer using the directional suffix for ERN (44d). The erne is an obscure enough bird anyway, and without his tail he’s even more so. Also I’m not sure I like LASH AT — “lash out at” is what’s meant here.

Good clues:

  • 17a. [Broadcaster whose CEO resigned yesterday] for NPR. Timely.
  • 59d. {["___ Contestant" ("Jeopardy!" webpage button)] for BE A. Nice.
  • 21d. [21 ___ (Shaquille O'Neal's shoe size)] for EEE. Mediocre entry elevated by clever clue. Good save, and those two 21s look cool side by side.

Thanks for the puzzle, BEQ, and have an above-average Thursday, everyone!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Gentleman’s Jargon”

Ben Tausig Ink Well crossword answer, "Gentleman's Jargon"

We’ve got another pun theme this week, with slangy terms for “fellow” worked into the midst:

  • 18a, 23a. [Sweetener in processed foods geared toward males?] is GUY (high) FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.
  • 34a. [Grocery store option for males with low income?] is DUDE (food) STAMPS.
  • 39a. [Equal exchange among males?] clues QUID PRO BRO (quo). That’s kinda cute.
  • 54a. [Bits of male wordplay?] are MANAGRAMS (anagrams)! I like that. The managram of “Ben Tausig” is BEATING US. He is writing and editing a lot of crosswords, and those puzzles do outwit some solvers because they’re seldom easier than a Thursday NYT puzzle.
  • 60a. [Term for modern portmanteau words that describe male things] is BROCABULARY (vocabulary). Minus 5 points for duplicating the BRO in 39a here. (And minus 5 points for me as a test solver for not noticing that when I first solved the puzzle.) The portmanteau “brocabulary” could certainly be used to describe a woeful collection of words, no?

It’s a 76-word grid, and yet it looks like the word count’s lower thanks to the zillion 7-letter entries. Sixteen of ‘em, stacked in pairs and trios all around the periphery. Looks great like that, doesn’t it?

Highlights:

  • 20a. [No. 2 end] is not about “going number 2,” it’s about a No. 2 pencil with an ERASER.
  • 45a. Fun HORA clue: [Dance with terrified 13-year-olds held aloft by drunken relatives]. The last two weddings I attended gave me my only personal experience with the hora, and nobody rode the chair at either reception.
  • 11d. GROW DIM = [Fade, as prospects].
  • 13d. THE RAMS = ["Greatest Show on Turf" team].
  • 35d. [Dry place for sailors to wash] is ASHORE. This isn’t about bathing at all.
  • 39d. QUIBBLE = [Split hairs].
  • 46d. [Egg manufacturers] are OVARIES. I reckon you’ll find that even hens have ovaries.
  • 51d. [Surname for some 40% of Vietnamese people] is NGUYEN. Phone books probably aren’t too helpful in Hanoi, huh?
  • 61d. [Bacterial issue potentially treatable by drinking cranberry juice: Abbr.] is a UTI, or urinary tract infection. Ladies, that’s real cranberry juice, not cranberry juice cocktail. And remember to go pee after sex, too, to help ward off a UTI.
  • 62d. Fresh approach to cluing LES. Instead of the French article or some not-incredibly-famous man named Les, we get an abbreviation for a [Trendy NYC neighborhood, briefly], the Lower East Side.

Now, some of the shorter fill falls in the category of “blah fill,” and some of it falls in the “tough clue” zone. Here are some examples of both:

  • 16a. RAH [___ Digga (MC with "Dirty Harriet")] is not a name I knew.
  • 17a. [Carrier to Narita International] is JAL, which is short for Japan Airlines. Another Japanese airline you may see in crosswords is ANA, or All Nippon Airways.
  • 32a. [Chemist's ending] usually clues the old standbys ANE, ENE, and INE. This time it’s the -IUM at the end of a lot of chemical element names. Not sure I’ve seen IUM in a puzzle before.
  • 33a. [Ancient social networking suffix] is a good clue for a blah suffix, -STER. It alludes to Friendster.
  • 36a. ESO is often clued by way of the song “Eso Beso,” but Ben stretched for [Beginner Spanish page 5 pronoun].
  • 70a. SSS is lame fill, but it’s rescued by this clue: [Awful sound to hear while riding in a hot air balloon].
  • 8d. The Physicians’ Drug Reference, or PDR, is a [Drug book for MDs]. I’m tossing a 2000 edition because I don’t need it for my editing any more (drug info is readily available online), it takes up too much space, and it’s outdated. If you don’t have a health care worker, medical transcriptionist, or medical editor/writer in the house, is PDR a complete mystery? I don’t know how broadly it’s known.
  • 24d. [Former German president Johannes] RAU is one of those leaders I know pretty much just from crosswords.
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29 Responses to Thursday, 3/10/11

  1. John E says:

    Re: the NYT, watched enough old reruns to get William DEMAREST right away – Ernie was my type of guy. The SE swallowed me up though – am I the only one unhappy about the NIA / ARIEGE intersection? Nia who?

    Liked the theme on this one – would have liked a few more starred clues but overall a solid concept.

  2. Matt Ginsberg says:

    Oh, no! Will dropped what was — in my opinion — the most important part of this puzzle. There is supposed to be an asterisk in front of the clue for 36-Across. Think about it …

  3. joon says:

    in college i took a medieval culture course in which we read the lais of marie de france. except i think we called them lays (the english spelling), not lais (the french spelling). anyway, this is an awesome puzzle. i was certainly expecting a much tougher gimmick (MG’s byline has that effect on me, and thursday is definitely his natural habitat), but it was very elegant and the fill was terrific. did you notice that this was only a 70-word grid?

    oddity: when looking over my completed grid just now, i saw {Nancy Drew’s aunt} and thought it was A BROAD. now that would raise some eyebrows.

    edit: ha! DIFFERENTLY. then again, that’s also how i say it when it’s not capitalized.

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    The Fireball is pretty spectacular this week…

  5. Tuning Spork says:

    Tricky-yucky with LAI and ARIEGE crossing 63-A.
    I had IM?NA?E for ["Somehow everything gets done"] and all I could see was IM IN AWE.
    Took a bit of mental letter-roulette to see I MANAGE.

    Okay, Matt and Joon, I’m biting. What’s the deal with a capitalized DIFFERENTLY?

  6. Karen says:

    I still pronounce Mobile and (Calder) mobile differently, there is less stress on the first syllable in the capital.

    In the Fireball, 24D was all crossings for me. I don’t think that word is really cromulent. Never heard of BRACCO, still can’t spell PEUGEOT (but not helped by thinking it was a GANG OF TEN on the football field), but much easier than last weeks. And more fun for me.

  7. sps says:

    Fireball was the highlight of the week for me. Excellent puzzle.

  8. Howard B says:

    That’s a great Times theme, Matt. I don’t get the 36-A* yet either. I had no idea on DEMAREST, so needed all crossings, and I kept running into other unknown names strewn about, which served as natural speed bumps (ELOISE, ARIEGE). Needed the theme reveal here, and it was a nice surprise.

    Loved the Fireball, though I can see KWYJIBO as being either rather cruel, or insanely fun (I’m in the latter camp). However, I’m with Karen on BRACCO. That corner, along with not knowing REGATTA and EST, was a real bear for me. I can never keep those Hollywood peoples straight. The attached answer file was a great help after solving – thanks Peter!
    I need to bite the bullet and dig into those US Weekly issues by the coffee table for some pop culture, stat!

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Well, how do you pronounce “differently” and “Differently”? I pronounce them identically, with or without a capital D—and it sounds like “dif-runt-lee” for both big D and little d versions.

    I don’t think the puzzle suffers much from losing that joke. Although it would’ve been fun to have solvers asking their friends how a capitalized “Differently” is pronounced “differently.”

  10. Howard B says:

    OK, I get it now. Neat concept. I can see the reason for edit, as it’s not a clear enough “a-ha!” to dawn on enough solvers. I sure didn’t get it for a while, and the pronunciation theme isn’t consistent. It is clever though, but maybe it was too subtle to keep in from an editor’s viewpoint.

  11. Alex says:

    Right — we all pronounce “differently” and “Differently” identically … and we all pronounce them “differently.”
    Never ever thought I’d see KWYJIBO in a crossword.

  12. Jeffrey says:

    “Never ever thought I’d see KWYJIBO in a crossword.”

    Well you didn’t see it in my puzzle. I spelled it differently.

  13. Howard B says:

    You know, I am seeing this a little ‘differently’ now, and it’s starting to grow on me. Sort of a demented little chia pet.

  14. Zulema says:

    As Joon did, I knew LAI from literature and from the same source.

  15. Jan (danjan) says:

    DEMAREST was a gimme for me, but then, I just admitted on national television that I was alive on October 4, 1957.

  16. Daniel Myers says:

    The *Differently catch is very funny to read about in this forum. But, as has been at least hinted by Howard B. amongst others, it’s perhaps a bit too clever-by-half for the puzzle.

    On the other hand, it IS centered in the middle of the puzzle and does reflexively encapsulate the theme nicely.

    I can’t decide!

  17. Howard B says:

    I should have added that this is a *nice theme.

  18. Daniel Myers says:

    LOL—Yes, point taken that it doesn’t quite jibe with the other clues, but does its LOCALITY in the center perhaps atone for this incongruity? It continues to *bug me.

  19. Aaron says:

    I was slow getting going in this puzzle and DEMAREST was my first solid entry. Things moved more quickly after that, once I had POLISH I filled in most of the theme answers.
    Perhaps it reflects my situation as a parent of 3 children ages 10-14 that I considered IM IN AWE as an answer to “Somehow everything gets done,” though I knew the obscure French department was unlikely to end in WE.

  20. Anne E says:

    I also considered IM IN AWE for 63A, and IM AN ACE as well. :-)

  21. Martin says:

    Amy,

    Elaine and I love oysters and there’s no place we’d rather eat than a raw bar. Except for about ten years starting midway into her pregnancy with Alex. She got violently sick at the sight of a raw oyster, and for an entire decade would turn green at the mention of the word. One day, it just disappeared. Last December, we and her sister harvested 14 dozen oysters from Washington’s Hood Canal. We had help eating them, but they didn’t last a week.

    I don’t know what the moral of the story is.

    I think an asterisk on 36-A would have been great.

  22. Matt Gaffney says:

    Forgot to post my time on the BEQ: 8:33.

    Fear me, Reynaldo!

  23. sandirhodes says:

    An old one from the ‘Before Time:’

    What word is pronounced wrong even by the best of scholars?

  24. joon says:

    i’ll correct myself: we definitely used this text for that medieval culture course, which does use the LAI spelling.

    i thought the fireball was terrific, but then, i didn’t notice (let alone bemoan) the abundance of sports clues. head of the charles is a gimme for anybody who’s lived in boston a while—it absolutely takes over the city for one weekend every fall. but KWYJIBO! that was awesome.

  25. Zulema says:

    As source I meant Marie de France, not a specific text.

  26. Aaron says:

    In the BEQ puzzle I read QUEEN SACRIFICE as meaning that Garry should make such a move, and give up his queen.
    BTW I’m guessing that no Lent-observing person posting here is giving up crosswords until Easter.

  27. joon says:

    aaron, i totally would, but it’s terribly inconvenient that the ACPT is during lent, isn’t it? i need to wait for a year when ACPT is early (like last year) but ash wednesday is late (like this year).

  28. Erik says:

    It took me ages to get the ‘differently’ gag. And now I feel like I’ve been incepted.

  29. John Haber says:

    Actually, like Joon with his initial mistaken comment, I rather expected “lay” myself from my no doubt faulty memory. I needed every crossing, too, for DEMAREST so didn’t care for it, but my sticking point was the SE. I think I knew NIA from crosswords, but it was like Tuning Spork making sense of I MANAGE that got me ARIEGE. But done.

    My first thought in looking at the puzzle was that this can’t be any good if it relies on starred entries, when there are just four. But in retrospect it’s a good one, given that the three other theme entries are so long.

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