Tuesday, 3/29/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/28" plug="tuesday-32911" puzz="Jonesin'" anchor="jn"]4:25[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/28" plug="tuesday-32911" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]3:36[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/28" plug="tuesday-32911" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]3:04 (Neville)/2:42 (Amy)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/03/28" plug="tuesday-32911" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"] 6:32 (Evad)[/time_hdr]

People of the world! Fans of the CrosSynergy crossword! There’s a new game afoot. Antony Lewis, the developer of Crossword Compiler, has also created a crossword Puzzle Solver application. It’s a free download and works for both Windows and Mac OS X. Puzzle Solver can be used much like Across Lite, but it can open multiple puzzle formats. CrosSynergy is transitioning to a new system, and Across Lite won’t open the new CrosSynergy file format. Puzzle Solver will, though. I am super-persnickety about puzzle-solving interfaces, and I find Puzzle Solver to work exactly how I expect it to—the active square jumps over already filled squares, return/tab jumps you to the next entry, using arrow keys to switch directions puts you in the square you expect to be in. There are a couple rough spots (fewer layouts for printing, no print-black-squares-in-gray option, the timer is different) but in general Puzzle Solver is an enormously promising alternative to other crossword solving programs.

Check the Island of Lost Puzzles Tuesday morning for a .jpz download of the CrosSynergy puzzle.

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

3/29 NYT crossword solution 0329 (from XWord Info)

Whoa! Elizabeth Taylor died last week and I completely forgot to speculate on when the tribute puzzle to this legend would appear. Who had Tuesday (just six days after her passing) in the cruciverbal pool? Anyone?

The theme feels a tad uneven to me, though, beginning with TAYLOR up top and ELIZABETH parked down below. The movies included in the tribute are CLEOPATRA, THE SANDPIPER (which I’ve never heard of, and my movie-buff friends did not suggest it to me when I confessed to never having seen Taylor in anything besides General Hospital so I don’t know that it should make the short list of Top Taylor Flicks), BUTTERFIELD 8 (with numeral!), and Suddenly, Last SUMMER. Apparently her National Velvet character was named VELVET, and Taylor was married 8 TIMES (nice connection with Butterfield 8‘s number!). Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and A Place in the Sun were all cited by my friends as good Taylor films to watch, but did not get a slot in the crossword.

My browser crashed shortly after I finished the puzzle, so my grid image tonight is borrowed from Jim Horne’s XWord Info. Thanks, Jim! I didn’t want to spend two minutes reentering my answers in the applet.

Did you all know that a [Multicellular animal] is called a METAZOAN (37d)? Me, neither.

I filled the bottom corner via the Downs. (Eww, USENO/TARES isn’t pretty.) So I never noticed ONE-ONE (65a: [Tied in a best-of-three series]). I can’t decide if I like that answer or not. In any case, wasn’t just a day ago that I said I’d learned my lesson about checking the crossings? Yeah, I lied. In an easy puzzle, I’m gonna skip that step.

Those immoral Democrats in the current administration! 40d: [Fed. agencies may issue them] clues STDS. I believe it’s the Department of Health and Human Services that dispenses the STDS. (That is a joke. The abbreviation is for standards, not sexually transmitted diseases.)

Joon Pahk and Andrea Carla Michaels’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

3/29 LA Times crossword answers (in Puzzle Solver!)

Wow – we’ve got a couple of crossword gurus teaming up on this one, and boy does it show! There are seven theme answers – seven! – in this Tuesday puzzle. [Some sculpted abs] are SIX PACKS, as well as [the starts of (the other theme entries) altogether]. This is the closest I’ve come to having that sort of a SIX PACK in a long time!

 

  • 17a. [Completely dark] is JET BLACK, not to be confused with JetBlue. The JET PACK implied by the theme is still a work in development, though.
  • 21a. A [Getting-to-know-you party activity] is an ICEBREAKER. ICE PACKs are significantly less fun.
  • 26a. [Dirty fighting?] is MUD WRESTLING. What is MUD PACK? Wikipedia, knower of all things, suggests a collection of clay-based Batman villains. Is it a spa treatment instead? These are things I know relatively little about, but I like the clue and entry.
  • 39a. [Wearisome routine] is a RAT RACE. Yes, I know who the RAT PACK is. Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and all of them, right?
  • 47a. ["Wow, she's good looking!" sounds] are WOLF WHISTLES – your sexist/plural theme entry of the day. At this point, not sure of the theme, I thought WOLF and RAT were the key. Suddenly I wanted CAT CALLS to be a right answer as well, and put it at 47a as well. WOLF PACK is… a pack of wolves.
  • 58a. ["Funny Girl" leading role] is Barbra Streisand’s performance of FANNY BRICE. FANNY PACK is the big winner among theme entries for me today. (Editor’s note: Aw, no “pack of fannies,” Neville?)

Well, that’s a great theme with a nice summary entry there at the end. With all of that theme work going in, there’s little room for long fill, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be quality fill:

  • 1d. [Low-paying position] – MCJOB. I think the key descriptor missing here is “dead-end.”
  • Go look 11d. up in your FUNK and Wagnall’s!
  • 32d. [Continue] – not GOON but GO ON. This messes with my head every time I write it in!
  • 54a. [Fat cat] – NABOB. That’s just a fun word to say. Just like BLOOP.

But every rose has its thorns…

  • 13d. [1980-81 Iranian president Bani-___], whom I’ve never heard of – SADR. Fortunately, I remembered that Sadr City is a suburb of Baghdad, so I assumed it was right.
  • 42d. [First lady's home?] – EDEN. This is very cute the first time you see it or if you don’t do crosswords all the time, but for many of us, it’s just a freebie. From ACM, early-week puzzle designer extraordinaire, I’ll take it.

See you on Thursday! BLOOP.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Passed Master”—Evad’s review

3/29/11 CrosSynergy crossword solution

Today’s CrosSynergy puzzle comes from constructor Tyler Hinman, fresh off his second-place showing at this year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tourney. Well done, Tyler! The title gives a pretty good clue of what to expect—words that end in -ST are reinterpreted as past tense verbs, changing that suffix to -SSED. Let’s take a peek, shall we?

  • The phrase “going bust” becomes [Leaving right after getting a kiss?] or GOING BUSSED. Rather tortured one there, mi amigo. Not sure cluing it in terms of Greyhound would make any more surface sense.
  • A “houseguest” gets the way-back treatment and becomes [Hugh Laurie show given in response to a trivia question?] or HOUSE GUESSED. I think this one works much better than the first one.
  • The fizzy soda, Sierra Mist, becomes [GMC truck pined for after being sold?] or SIERRA MISSED. Too bad American Idol season 4 top 10 contestant Jessica Sierra wasn’t more famous or the clue could reference a person instead of a vehicle.
  • We move a bit into Onion territory when “self trust” becomes [Tied up without assistance] or SELF TRUSSED. I know Houdini could get out of shackles on his own, but could he also put himself into them?

A rather uneven theme for me, let’s see if the fill brings me back into the fan camp:

  • So do you know how to do an OLLIE? Here’s an instructional video if you’d like to try it at home.
  • I enjoyed seeing ALL and the prefix OMNI- next to each other.
  • The mid-length entries of BIOTECH, ME TIME, POKE FUN AT, TINA FEY, C BATTERY, ARE YOU OK? and SKI JUMP were all nice.
  • So have you heard of the SITAR-featuring album Rubber Soul? It was The Beatles’ sixth studio album. George played the sitar.
  • Have you read James Hurst’s The Scarlet IBIS? Looks interesting.
  • Did I struggle with clumsy cow owner Mrs. O’LEARY! I tried to shoehorn O’MALLEY and O’HARA in there at first. I blame it on the vast quantities of green beer I drank on St. Paddy’s Day.
  • QUIRE ([Two dozen sheets]) is new to me. Are we talking paper or linens? Speaking of linens, [They may be fashioned from bedsheets] are TOGAS.

Evad out for now, thanks for your indulgence reading my commentaries and trying to decipher my handwriting! See you in the comments!

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Not What You Think”

Jonesin' crossword solution "Not What You Think"

Dis- is a prefix expressing negation or absence. In this theme, DIS is tacked onto the beginning of familiar phrases, turning the first word into an entirely different one:

  • 18a. [What lexicographers do most of the time?] is DISCUSS WORDS, some of which are cuss words. And to hear the hubbub lately, all the OED’s lexicographers have been doing is going to hell in a handbasket and speeding the demise of the English language.
  • 30a. [Laser pointer used by that jerk in the audience?] clues DISTRACTOR BEAM. I don’t know that I’d spell “thing that distracts” as DISTRACTOR rather than distracter. Is there a rule for the -or/-er choice?
  • 38a. [Turn a digit into a zero with your bare hands?] clues DISFIGURE EIGHT. This is my favorite theme entry. Would you disfigure an 8 by ripping it into two 0′s, folding it in half, or breaking the center bond?
  • 51a. [Friends that share in your tacky guilty pleasures?] might be your DISTASTE BUDS. Hmm, I don’t think so. Your tacky guilty pleasures are to your taste. Who is the judgmental party here, labeling the guilty pleasures as distasteful things?

Highlights:

  • 15a. MR. BLUE! I tried MR. PINK first. No idea who is who in Reservoir Dogs.
  • 16a. It takes something like 40 gallons of MAPLE SAP to make a single gallon of maple syrup. My cousin Kip tapped a bunch of maples in his yard and at the university campus where he works, and boiled the sap down to make a variety of syrups. My mom and son visited for a syrup tasting. Did you know that silver and Norway maples work too, not just sugar maples? I need to get over to Kip’s for some syrup myself!
  • 47a. SMEGMA is my all-time favorite word for something gross.
  • 56a. TELEPORT—cool answer, great clue! [Get there in no time?] works. Man, I wish I could teleport.
  • 5d. MISS USA, also lively fill.
  • 31d. CYGNET is such a pretty word, isn’t it? It’s the anti-smegma.

Lowlights:

  • 36a. YAU [___-Man Chan ("Survivor: Fiji" participant)]? Really? Let’s Google him. Oh! Never heard of him, but now I love him! Skinny guy in his 50s, outwitted his rivals with his knowledge of physics.
  • 37a. [Godsmack lead vocalist Sully ___] ERNA? Really? Not interested enough to Google him/her. Not to be confused with IRNA Phillips, the soap opera writer recently seen in another crossword. Yeesh.
  • 8d. [Made some suds] clues BREWED BEER. Uh, not a lexical chunk. “Baked bread.” “Stirred soup.” “Ate a sandwich.” “Did a puzzle.” Not crossword-worthy phrases.
  • 22d. [Estonia, in Estonian (hidden in BEE STING)] clues EESTI. Who doesn’t appreciate a Merl Reagle–style clue that helps you get an obscure answer?

 

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28 Responses to Tuesday, 3/29/11

  1. janie says:

    as i recall, the sandpiper was probably most famous for the song “the shadow of your smile.” a visit to imdb confirms that the song did win the oscar that year (and a grammy in ’66).

    ;-)

  2. Plot says:

    Not too familiar with the movies of the late Miss Taylor (or is it Mrs. Taylor; it’s hard to keep track), so this was probably more difficult for me than it was for others. I knew METAZOANS, so that opened up the southwest nicely, but I struggled in the southeast because I filled in SUPPER (“Suddenly, Last Supper” is a movie, but it stars Troy McClure, not Elizabeth Taylor).

    7 horizontal theme entries in the LAT, each one spanning at least half the grid. No questionable fill. This made for a highly enjoyable solve (albeit a very easy one; I think this was my fastest time for a Tuesday). Excellent collaboration, Joon and Andrea.

  3. Tuning Spork says:

    I’ve downloaded the crossword solver program, but I’m not finding a way to open the CrosSynergy puzzle with it from the Washington Post archives. HA-A-A-LP!!

    Oh, and I always thought “The Sandpiper” was one of her most famous movies as it was often shown on TV back in the day. Got the theme in about 15 seconds when I noticed what looked to be VELVET crossing TAYLOR in the northwest. Every theme entry was an immediate gimme. Whoosh!

  4. john farmer says:

    I can’t say I see the advantage of Puzzle Solver over Across Lite. AL is highly customizable. PS, it appears, is not. That was a quick test drive, so I may be missing something, but that’s my first impression.

    Apparently the NYT puzzle was in rotation, just a coincidence. In any case, it was good to see Elizabeth Taylor get her day. In crosswords, there are constraints on what movies fit. My fave movies of hers are A Place in the Sun, Virginia Woolf, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But she was very good in many others. The Cleopatra thing was such a monstrosity, it’s too bad that that’s what many people know her for. A talented actress, a legendary movie star, and a great humanitarian.

  5. andrea carla michaels says:

    Love following an STD joke! Thanks for the really nice write up, Orange!!!
    @Plot
    Joon made the grid, but I think all theme answer should always be horizontal…
    and all puzzles should be started at the top so there is an actual reveal/punchline…
    But that’s just me!

    As for the La Liz puzzle, how INCREDIBLY cool to have 8 being in a title and her marital stats!!!! Esp with the double marriage to Richard Burton!

  6. Worth seeing: Virginia Woolf; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Taming of the Shrew (seriously); and just for the experience, National Velvet (her debut.) The Sandpiper and Butterfield 8 both seem very dated these days, and Night of the Iguana (is that the title) is morbidly interesting, and I’d include those on a list of iconic Taylor roles. One has to look past the awful Fifties pointy bras, cinched waists, and over-done hair in some of the movies.

    Had to come here to get the theme–d’oh–but it IS 4 a.m., after all.

    BTW, the real RAT PACK was a group of hard-living actors–Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford; the kids you name were the BRAT Pack. I guess you have to be Of a Certain Age to make that a gimme.

  7. ArtLvr says:

    Amy, “People of the World!” was a good opener: I just found a blog for which I suggested a new name, à la Andrea — GRIM, standing for Global Radiation Intensity Mapping. Try it in full on google with Russia added. You’ll find the Global Voices blog bringing to light the 1957 Kyshtym disaster, the first Chernobyl, hidden by Soviet authorities from its own citizens as well the rest of the world with dire consequences indeed, to this day.

    But all that aside, congrats to Andrea and Joon for the fun-packed puzzle!

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Oh! I just figured out that in Puzzle Solver, I can change the font the clues appear in. Any font on my system, and any font size! I’d rather the clues were darker, but the font choices are great to have!

  9. Will says:

    I agree, Amy. Being able to choose the clue font is a great help. You can adjust the size of the clues on screen too. When you print out the puzzle, your font selection is also used, but the font size will depend on the number of clues if you use the “Fit to Page” option that puts all the clues on one page.

    If you really need to set the font size, then just uncheck “Fit to Page” and the puzzle clues will be set at your chosen size, but will run onto more than one page.

    There is also a REBUS button. Press it and then enter any number of letters into a box (not just four).

    I miss the ability to put the diagram in bottom right corner (like at ACPT) that Across Lite has, but I think Puzzle Solver is a good option.

    I also note that Puzzle Solver can open .puz files as well, including ones with circles in them. So it may be possible to use Puzzle Solver as your helper application with your web browser to work with all puzzles you regularly solve. In other words, there may be no need to use a different app for different puzzles.

  10. Dan F says:

    I’m confused… I thought CrosSynergy and Litsoft worked together. Now CS is transitioning to a format that Across Lite can’t open? Is the new iteration of Across Lite dead?

    All well and good to hear about the lovely features of Puzzle Solver, but I’m more interested in what it *can’t* do… like print the grid in the lower right, apparently? That’s kind of an important feature for me personally. ;) Is there a Forum thread where we can go into all this without disturbing the daily puzzle talk?

    Hey, nice puz today, Andrea and Joon! And Tyler!

    P.S. http://crosswords.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/crosswords/daily/cs110329.puz
    Fight the power! :)

  11. joon says:

    NYT would have been a lot harder if i hadn’t read up on taylor recently. as it is, everything went in pretty smoothly except for THE SANDPIPER, which i’ve actually already forgotten. (is that even right? sandpiper? i’m not going to check.) the idea that this puzzle was just sitting around, not made as an obituary tribute, kind of boggles my mind. surely, at least, will plucked it out of the pile and jammed it into the production line as soon as she died? because if it just happened to be scheduled for today, that would be too weird a coincidence.

    i tried puzzle solver and was somewhat discombobulated by the lack of shift-arrow navigation, which i’d become very dependent on in AL. other than that, it looks nice, and it’s still early in development so i hope it will continue to improve. i think it’s a good thing to move beyond the .puz format, which has odd and surprising limitations (e.g. you can’t have a square that’s both circled and rebused). having said that, i was able to get today’s CS in .puz from the wapo site, so i’ll continue to do that for the time being.

    thanks for the LAT writeup, neville. i’m with you on WOLF WHISTLES—our clue was something like {Some sexual harassment}, which is much vaguer but at least conveys the creepiness of the entry. i laughed at your not knowing MUD pack, because i didn’t either! andrea assured me that it’s only because i’m an ignorant male. :) i think a mud pack is the kind of thing you put on your face during a facial, or something… although to me, “facial” as a noun means only one thing: a slam dunk right in a defender’s face. anyone for a game of NBA jam? (yeah, yeah, typical male. :)

  12. john farmer says:

    A lot of theme in the LAT today. Nice work. I’ll be looking forward to your “seven deadly sins” puzzle … or “ten commandments.”

  13. Jeffrey says:

    A big thank you to Evad for his fun to read posts. Don’t be a stranger!

  14. Meem says:

    Best in Show for the day goes to joon and ACME. Very clever puzzle.

  15. Daniel Myers says:

    My fave Liz Taylor movies are Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and The Night of The Iguana, both, as it chances, based on plays by Tennessee Williams, whose centenary, as it chances, was marked three days ago.

  16. Alex says:

    I set up a forum over at the Crossword Compiler site for suggestions for improvements to Puzzle Solver. That’s probably the appropriate place for such things.

  17. Pete says:

    This puzzle was written about a year-and-a-half ago, and accepted about 15 months ago. It was not intended as an “obituary” puzzle — rather what spawned me to write it was noticing that Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for BUtterfield 8 and had been married 8 times. I thought it would be neat to make a grid with the single digit 8 in it. Why it ran today — you’ll have to ask the editor if it was a coincidence or not.

    Too bad some of her other iconic roles and films couldn’t be included, but as you constructors out there now, sometimes sacrifices have to be made to the God of Symmetry.

    @ Daniel Myers: Elizabeth Taylor was not in The Night of the Iguana, but she spent a lot of time on the set in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, canoodling with Richard Burton. I believe they were both married to others at the time.

    Pete Collins

  18. Daniel Myers says:

    @ Pete–You’re right! Thanks for the correction.

  19. HH says:

    “…you’ll have to ask the editor if it was a coincidence or not.”

    Yeah … just like this one?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1460892/D-Day-crosswords-are-still-a-few-clues-short-of-a-solution.html

  20. Neville says:

    joon – glad I’m not alone on MUD PACK! I’m always up for a game of NBA Jam (typical male response).

  21. Papa John says:

    Dan, are you going to continue to provide us with a .puz link to the CS puzzles? If you can do that, why can’t all our usual puzzle providers, i.e., Amy’s blog, Kevin’s site, Will’s site, et al, do the same?

    Anyone know what I have to do to get the .jpz puzzles to open in Crossword Solver? They now go to my desk top, but I think I have the means to change that — I just don’t know how.

  22. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Papa John, it’ll take some time for the new Washington Post links to be set up for the CrosSynergy .jpz files. Patience! I’m sure Puzzle Pointers will switch to the new links ASAP—Will Johnston is part of the CS team, after all! And we’ll update the link here. Presumably Will J or another CSer will be in touch with Kevin McCann at Cruciverb, too.

    To open the .jpz, open the Crossword Solver program and either click the file-folder icon on the left or go to File/Open Puzzle. I’m gonna poke around and see if I can figure out how to set Solver as the default application for opening a .jpz file I click on…

  23. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Oh! It works now, that clicking a .jpz file launches the Solver app.

  24. Alex says:

    Until they stop providing them, this is a permalink to the current day’s CS .puz file.

  25. sbmanion says:

    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for me–is there a category beyond drop dead gorgeous? She was brilliant in Virginia Woolf, but that one is hard to watch.

    And her birthday is the same as mine: Feb. 27

    Steve

  26. Meem says:

    HH: Thanks for the fascinating link. As for coincidence of timing of today’s puzzle . . . highly suspect. Obviously the editor knew he had an ET tribute puzzle in his Tuesday stack. Voila! Tuesday tribute.

  27. Zulema says:

    Two times FOUR is EIGHT? TETRA doubled is more like it. Would expect Martin to respond but it’s a late comment. I am just catching up with 10 days-worth of puzzles. And I have understood nothing about Crossword Compiler, etc., so far.

  28. Zulema says:

    Oh, and THE SANDPIPER, IIRC, was filmed in Big Sur, which is why I remember it.

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