Day 2 of the ACPT. At the end of day 1, looks like Dan Feyer’s in the lead, Anne Erdmann’s in second, and Francis Heaney has the tiebreaker over Tyler Hinman for the third spot in the finals. For up to date results, check here.
Brenden Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword, “Chick Lit”
And, my tough weekend continues. Lots more stuff I didn’t know, including a couple of theme answers.
No trickery this week. The theme: novels with birds in their titles.
The theme entries:
- 23a. [Chick lit book #1 (1992)] THE PELICAN BRIEF
- 33a. [Chick lit book #2, with "The" (1843)] UGLY DUCKLING
- 39a. [Chick lit book #3 (1965)] THE STERILE CUCKOO
- 59a. [Chick lit book #4 (1974)] SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR
- 69a. [Chick lit book #5 (1960)] TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
- 87a. [Chick lit book #6 (1930)] THE MALTESE FALCON
- 95a. [Chick lit book #7 (1985)] LONESOME DOVE
- 109a. [Chick lit book #8 (1967)] WHERE EAGLES DARE
It’s a little awkward to leave out the article from The Ugly Duckling and no others, but that’s what the symmetry requirements do for you. I’ve never heard of the Cuckoo or the Eagles, which is surely my fault, but they still seemed a bit off with the mega-famous Mockingbird and Falcon, for example.
I’m sure y’all aren’t interested in a list of what else I’d never heard of, but I will say that hard sections included:
- The SW corner, especially with LARCH, a [Conifer with durable wood] and the non-composer RAVEL. And I’ve even been to ConAgra!
- The SE corner, with a theme book I’d never heard of, an old NBC saying I’d never heard of, and [Spread, as rumors], BRUITED, which I’ve never heard of. I’m sure I have heard of ESPNEWS, but it feels like it’s missing a letter so it was hard to suss out.
- Got lucky in the NE, where I guessed that [Italy's longest river] is THE PO after blogging about it just yesterday.
- Everything around THE STERILE CUCKOO. I eventually guessed the bird, but Sterile wasn’t one of the first 100 or so adjectives I thought of.
- The CONDOR area. Knew the book, but not OWEN D. Young, the French, the SUV, or which poet it was.
- OUIDA. GINO Franco. And like 30 more things.
So a toughish Sunday puzzle, but for me more from stuff I didn’t know than from tough, fun clues.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review
Greetings from the lobby of the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, host to the 34th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. With one more puzzle to go, your Group A leaders are: Dan Feyer, Anne Erdmann, Francis Heaney and Tyler Hinman. Finalists will be announced at noon. But on to today’s “Sunday Challenge” by constructor Tony Orbach (whom I had the pleasure of sitting next to during yesterday morning’s puzzles, so he knows what’s coming!). I really enjoyed this themeless, full of lots of interesting entries, and only a Q and W short a pangram. (I’m glad Tony didn’t opt to sacrifice the fill to shoehorn those letters in there just for the sake of showing off all 26 letters.) Here were my favorite bits:
- If I see JETSAM can its partner FLOTSAM be far behind? Answers.com tells me that jetsam is intentionally jettisoned from a boat to make it lighter, whereas flotsam is the remains of a boat wreckage.
- Enjoyed the clue [Parlor set?] for PERM. The “parlor” here is of the “beauty” variety.
- EASY-CARE reminds me of the Easy-Bake oven. Crème brûlée anyone?
- I remember DON HO playing the ukelele not the organ, but I bet I’m thinking of Tiny Tim. Did you know Don had 10 children with two wives and one significant-other?
- Loved the idiomatic SAME OLD. I tend to say it twice for emphasis.
- [Penetrating Kent feature] are Clark’s XRAY EYES. Don’t they only work though when he’s in his Superman suit?
- So has American IDOL officially become a [Seacrest vehicle] instead of a [Cowell vehicle] now? We’re beginning to get hooked again, as it gets down to the final 10. You really need Tivo though to skip through all the gratituitous advertising that takes away from the performances. My money’s on rocker Casey Abrams this year; I love his quirkiness and fearless risk-taking on stage.
- The only LOVERBOY song I know is Working for the Weekend. Definitely a big early ’80s hit.
- [Panhandle state] had me thinking OKLAHOMA, but I guess Sarah Palin would think of ALASKA first.
- HOF clue for AMY: [Tan that might be scanned on the beach]. The only Amy more famous than Amy Tan is our intelligent and gracious blog hostess.
- DADDY-O sounds very ’60s to my ear. Anyone used it in the last 40-50 years?
- Interesting story here about GUSTAV Mahler’s tenth and unfinished symphony.
- When you hear “Excellent!” do you think first of Mr. Burns or Wayne and Garth (from Wayne’s World)? The Simpsons is the more recent and comes to mind first for me.
- Interesting too to see SEX used as a verb, [Tell the difference in the field].
- Another great clue for ORION, [Belted one out there?]. Yeah, really out there!
- Any puzzle with both ELECTRA and LADY GAGA has got to appeal to a wide range of solvers!
Some other random notes:
- [Someone who can really dig it?] is an ORE MINER. I get about 250k Google hits for that phrase, but most of them are the longer IRON ORE variety. Seems like this was a bit of stretch to make the other entries fit.
- Not sure how I understand the “piece” part of the clue [Apple piece?] for iTunes. Apps aren’t “pieces” of a computer in my world. The later use of the same clue does work for CORE, though.
- TEN-IN-ONE seems a bit arbitrary for what a Swiss Army knife can do.
- SEISMIC for [Earth-shaking] was poorly-timed. So sad to see the devastation of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.
- Are you familiar with the work of Richard SERRA? Here’s his Vortex:
- So who says a PICCOLO is fancier than a fife? Is there an international standard for the fanciness of instruments?
- If the [Chinese dynasty] ain’t MING I’m outta luck, having to rely on all the crossers. I find that almost all of them end in NG, though, so that does help a bit.
Ed Sessa’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “New B-ginnings”
The theme entries add a B to the eginning of base phrases. Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis.
- 24a. The [Result of a cock's crow?] might be a BROOD AWAKENING. I’d go with “brewed”. I need some coffee right now.
- 38a. [Bungling for Dummies," e.g.?] is a BONER’S MANUAL. Heh, he said “manual”!
- 59a. [Shindig for Swahili VIPs?] is a BWANA DANCE. I guess a native of a land where they speak Swahili can be a Swahili, I’ve just never heard it used that way. This works as well as SIRS DANCE would for a shindig for English VIPs, however well that is.
- 83a. [Bedbugs on the Orient Express?] are BERTH WORMS.
- 97a. [Bird with a tan?] is maybe a BROWNED ROBIN. First, you sauté the garlic…
- 119a. [Hibernation luxuries?] are BEAR MATTRESSES. They’re especially luxurious when they’re just right.
And, bonus down entries!
- 3d. ["$#%^*& geckos!"?] clues BLEEPING LIZARDS. If a lizard can jump, it can swear. And if it can swear, then Standards and Practices can do its thing.
- 47d. [Prize for an inn's best guest?] is maybe for the BOARDER OF THE DAY.
Consistently solid base phrases, decently funny results, nice grid shape isolating the downs, this was fun.
Things I liked:
- 26a. Learning that THE BLOB was [...originally entitled "The Molten Meteor"].
- 62a. Learning that URI is the [Sch. whose mascot is Rhody the Ram].
- 112a. That [Ancient three-sided harps] I’d never heard of are TRIGONS, an inferrable name.
- 52d. RAMEN. I love ramen. So do lots of others.
- 53d. CASSATT is an [Artist known for her mother-and-child works]. I am familiar with her. SethG is learning! SethG is alive! Need input!
- Solving a Sunday-sized grid without a single wince.
There’s other good stuff, which you can feel free to talk about in the comments. If I mention everything, I’ll never finish (and write about) all of these puzzles…. Very nice work.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Smorgasbord”
He can finally clear some of his old ideas off the desk, today we’ve got a little bit of everything Reagle.
- 20a. [Auditioners for "Lassie"? (spoonerism)] are COLLIE MODELS, which you get if you switch the first sounds of mollycoddles.
- 22a. A [Youngster who drinks too much chocolate milk? (homophone)] is an Ovaltine OVALTEEN.
- 36a. [Dog-and-cat store to be very, very leery of? (one-letter addition)] is a PET SOUPERMARKET. Pet Supermarket is apparently a Tampa-based chain (or an I think separate British chain), and Merl Reagle is a Tampa-based constructor.
- 49a. PASTY CLINE is a [Singer who needs to get out in the sun more? (adjacent-letter swap)].
- 67a. [Wino's blood type? (straight pun)] clues PROOF POSITIVE. I’m envisioning a whole wino-themed punzle. The proof is positive, in the pudding, read, living, bulleted, and more.
- 82a. WE’RE WITH AL is a [Comment from Capone's men? (letter drop)].
- 97a. POT PAL COMPUTERS is the [Name of Cheech and Chong's favorite PC store? (word reversal)], where they buy laptop sretupmoc.
- 113a. OSLO BUCO is the Norwegian [Dish that always gets the same reaction -- "Hey, this meat is cold"? (one-letter change)]. Maybe braised reindeer shanks?
- 116a. Finally, PEPTO ABYSMAL has got to be the [World's least effective indigestion reliever? (respelled pun)].
Henry Hook’s Boston Globe crossword, “Cussword Puzzle”
You know who can be an ornery cuss sometimes? That Henry Hook fella, that’s who. The theme re-imagines G-rated oaths as if they were precursors or reactions to related situations. Or something like that. Sort of.
- 30a. ["Oh, blast!"] is what you might say when you realize that THAT GRENADE WAS A DUD.
- 38a. When it occurs to you that NOBODY PEELED THE CORN and you get confused about person, tense, grammatical number, and the like, you might think ["Oh, shucks!"].
- 58a. ["Oh, rats!"] says the health inspector. “WE NEED A TRAP,” realizes the restaurant owner.
- 60a. “NO MORE CHOCOLATE,”says the chocolatier. ["Oh, fudge!"], says the not-so-disappointed candy shop customer.
- 63a. When FIDO RAN AWAY, Tarzan realized ["Oh, doggone!"].
- 78a. “THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SOCK,” said Henry Hook. ["Oh, darn!"], replied Liza Hook.
- 90a. ["Oh, nuts!"], says the Firestone employee who remembered what he was looking for in the stockroom. “I HAVE TO CHANGE A TIRE.” And then, before dining at the manor, he has to change attire.
I had lots of missteps solving this. Toughest part was right in the upper left corner, where I eventually had to guess that [Staminate] meant MALE. SMACK wasn’t coming to me for [Directly], and I’d never heard of Remember WENN so the [Radio station in a 1990s AMC series] could have been anything. Amy and I both went to school in NFLD, and that school was not St. John’s.
Patrick Berry’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 50″
- 17a. [People walk all over them] clues FLOOR TILES. I just published 24 old poems I wrote years ago. My least favorite of all, by far:
Tear up the old floor tiles,
all ten rows.
Then replace them with a pattern
Happy Pi Day!
- 43a. The [Group that includes ERNIE, Fast Eddie and Buckets] is the KEEBLER ELVES. This I did not know. According to the Wikipedia, the others are Fryer Tuck, Zoot, J.J., Ma, Elmer, Sam, Roger, Doc, Zack, Flo, Leonardo, Elwood, Professor, Edison, Larry, and Art.
- 52a. It took me way too long to remember that ["The year," in Hebrew] is HASHANA. I studied Hebrew for about 12 years. Rosh Hashana is kinda famous. The very first crossword blog entry I ever wrote was called “Jewish theory for crossword solvers”. Yet today, I filled in the HA and waited for some crosses. Go me.
- 58a. MAISONETTE is not a restaurant, it’s a [Duplex apartment].
- 59a. EGGS [...break for the morning meal]. Or sometimes, for an afternoon or evening meal. I like eggs. I did not need to wait for the crosses.
- 14d. One who [Does something wrong] SINS. And sometimes, one who SINS has done something right. It’s fun to be bad.
- 27d. [Desideratum] is a NEED, not LEES. So [Tongue-lashing] is not <something> OWL after all.
- 30d. A world that is [Not at all cooperative] is DOG EAT DOG, and Norm’s wearing Milk Bone underwear.
- 34d. SUB-TENS are only [Bitter-cold temperatures] if you don’t live in, say, Minnesota. Sometimes that’s spring. Hey, it’s spring now (and it’s in the 40s and raining here). Happy spring! Between the vernal equinox, the biggest super perigee moon in 18 years, AT&T buying T-Mobile, and the ACPT, this is quite a big weekend.
- 56d. [Film whose star was 2004's Best Actor] is RAY. The last clue on my last puzzle of the weekend. Congrats to everyone who competed at (or judged at, or wrote puzzles for, or has heard of) ACPT, and thanks for having me! We’ll be back to the regular rotation tomorrow.