Wednesday, 6/1/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/31" plug="wednesday-6111" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]3:37[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/31" plug="wednesday-6111" puzz="Onion" anchor="av"]3:35[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/31" plug="wednesday-6111" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]2:53[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/05/31" plug="wednesday-6111" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]5:54 (Sam)[/time_hdr]

Elizabeth Gorski’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution 6 1 11 0601

Theme: Five phrases have OOO (32d) initials, all with “of” in the middle:

  • 14a. Yay! A past-tense clue for OIL OF OLAY—["Love the skin you're in" sloganeer, once]. The company switched to just plain Olay to avoid scaring off oleophobes.
  • 19a. Never heard of the ORDER OF OMEGA. [Undergrads' Greek leadership society]? If you say so.
  • 35a. Don’t think I’ve heard Warren Buffett (too many double letters—I just typed his name as Warrenn Buffeett) called the ORACLE OF OMAHA, but I bet that’s a lot more familiar among NYT readers than ORDER OF OMEGA.
  • 54a. OATH OF OFFICE, totally familiar.
  • 60a. MY ANTONIA fits the blank if you haven’t figured out that you need an OOO phrase here. Never heard of the Cather novel ONE OF OURS, despite its Pulitzer status. (English majors, represent!)

One old-school crosswordese creature appears today—ORIEL, the [Bay window]. O-word action also includes OLIOS, OBOE, OLAV, OPERA, ODESSA, and the [Vermont ski resort] OKEMO. I cried foul when OKEMO appeared in an airline magazine puzzle some years back, but you know what? I’ve seen it a few times since and I knew it each time.

Mystery abbrev: DFCS are [R.A.F. awards] at 33d. I’m gonna hazard a guess that it’s short for Distinguished Flying Crosses. Yes, indeed. The U.S. awards the same medal.

Most questionably crossword-worthy phrase: 5d, IN ARABIC.

Musician Liz Gorski spotlighted some of her fellow women in music: MARNI is [Soprano Nixon] but I don’t know the name. There’s also ALICIA [Keys of music] and I FALL ["__ to Pieces" (Patsy Cline hit)].

3.9 stars.

Donna Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers 6 1 11

Today’s theme is paunches and they begin each theme entry:

  • 17a. [Abdominoplasty, familiarly] is a TUMMY TUCK.
  • 23a. [Pepto-Bismol target] is a STOMACHACHE.
  • 36a. If you’re [Bourgeois], you’re probably MIDDLE CLASS.
  • 49a. Eww, gross. BELLY BUTTON is clued as a [Lint receptacle?].
  • 59a. [Easy A (or where to learn about this puzzle's theme?)] clues GUT COURSE.

Now, the paunches are sometimes used as abdomens here and sometimes not. I paid no mind to that discrepancy while solving.

Highlights in the fill include GOULASH, SANSKRIT, HOMEROOM, AD-LIBS, and MALICE crossing SPLEEN (which I wanted to be CHOLER).

Favorite clues, all so much more interesting than the usual clues:

  • 56a. [Enjoys surreptitiously, as a smoke] clues SNEAKS.
  • 63a. AZUL, or blue, is the [Fifth color of el espectro]. Is it rojo, naranja, amarillo, verde, azul?
  • 5d. [Hawaii's "main islands," e.g.] make up an OCTET.

Fun puzzle. 4.3 stars.

Brendan Quigley’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword answers 6 1 11

All right, this is a pretty smooth puzzle. Six theme answers are MULES (17a) transporting DRUGS (66a) in the circled squares:

  • 18. MUSIC RACK has got CRACK.
  • 24a. An ANTIHEROINE has HEROIN.
  • 34a. Glam-era David Bowie sported a FEATHER BOA, with HERB in it. (See also 3d: [Got going again, as a joint] = RELIT. Nice save, Brendan—giving a blah word a druggy clue to echo the druggy theme works.)
  • 44a. OXY is short for Oxycontin/oxycodone, and it’s in SOX-YANKEES.
  • 53a. METH lurks in the verb phrase CAME THROUGH.
  • 64a. The GIRLS’ DORM is where you’ll find LSD.

Answers I liked include BOX SCORES, TRAVEL BUG, MISCHA meets INOUYE while in the opposite corner ARTURO meets FREDDY, double Deutsch STURM und SIE, and tasty CREPES.

4.2 stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Change for a Dollar” – Sam Donaldson’s review

The other night I had a dream that I was on Jeopardy! That’s an interesting dream subject, seeing as I have only tried out for the show twice through the online test (regular readers won’t be surprised to know I crashed and burned both times).  In the dream I was having a Cliff Claven-like game with categories right up my alley, like “Taxation,” “1970s TV,” and “Mad Men.” I woke up when I hit a Daily Double.  I don’t remember anything specific from the game, but I remember thinking along the lines of “I didn’t know Alex Trebek had a goatee in real life.  Horns and forked tongue, sure.  But not a goatee.”

I have no idea what the dream means, but I’m sharing it so you can understand why today’s post takes the form of a short Jeopardy! game.  I’ll take “Two-Word Entries That Start With Synonyms for a United States Dollar Bill” for $200, Alex.  The answer is:

  • 17-Across: It’s [Where the Cougars play]. What is WASHINGTON STATECorrect.  Probably a gimme for a former Beaver who now works for the Huskies. Thanks, Alex.  Let’s go with “Sci-Fi Zodiac” for $600.
  • 32-Across: He’s the [Sci-fi hero played by Buster Crabbe]. Who is BUCK ROGERSYes. Whew!  For a second I thought about “Flash Gordon.”  Just pick a category and a dollar amount. Sorry, Alex.  I’ll take “Cleaning Up Kanye” for $800.
  • 48-Across: I ain’t saying she’s a gold-digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke … this, a [Quahog seeker]. What is a CLAM DIGGERThat’s right.  You seem like a Kanye fan. Well, no disrespect, Kanye, but everyone knows Taylor Swift had the best video this year. (crickets chirping)  There’s, um, less than a minute to go. Okay, then, how about “Nouns in the City” for $1,000.
  • 63-Across: This [Dwelling classification] is unmarried and looking for a partner. What is SINGLE OCCUPANCYYes.  We’ll be back after this.

And we’re back.  It’s time to meet out contestants.  Sam, it says here you’re a fan of the long Downs in this puzzle. That’s right, Alex.  It has this edgy, masculine feel with TOMMY GUN, the BIG HOUSE, and TIETACKS, but then there’s ESTROGEN and the gender-neutral NEW DEAL, GO SOLO, and SPLOTCH.  That’s a nice array of interesting terms. 

But they say that clues make the crossword.  Were there some nice clues in this puzzle? Absolutely.  I’ve been hammering Venzke lately for some flat clues, so I must extend kudos when the clues are improved.  I liked [Butterfinger's cry] for OOPS, [Heir-splitting papers?] for WILLS, and [Master of the double take?] for NOAH.  And [Org. whose members often strike] is a fun clue for the PBA, the Professional Bowlers Association.

Okay, back to the game.  Sam, you trail by a considerable amount.  Not that it will help, but you pick first this round. I’ll take “Fill I Didn’t Especially Like Because I Got Stuck” for $400.

  • This [Knife of old] is a few Z’s shy of eliciting a blessing. What is a SNEEYes.  Pick again. Let’s stay with the same category for $800.
  • This [Geo model] is a cheap way of adding a Z into the grid when an S would have been just fine. What is PRIZMCorrect.  Still your turn, Sam. Stinky Vexing Fill for $1,200.
  • This is an uncommon term for [Quench, as thirst].  They say no two are alike. What is SLAKEYou’re on a roll. Just like butter!  Let’s stay with Grody Hard Stuff for $1,600.
  • This means [Hopscotch].  If you don’t like it, the Fonz says you can sit on it! What is POTSYCorrect. No, I mean, “what the heck is POTSY?”  I’ve never heard of it.  No time for that now–just pick again. Okay, let’s close out the category for $2,000.
  • It’s a [Barn door fastener]. What is a HASP? Well done!

Nice run through the category, Sam. Alas, you’re still behind and I’m afraid you finished the game below $0, so you won’t be playing Final Jeopardy! But we hope you enjoy the lifetime supply of fish food. Thanks, Alex.  That was fun.

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13 Responses to Wednesday, 6/1/11

  1. Agreed on the broader familiarity of ORACLE OF OMAHA. That one opened the middle rapidly for me.

  2. janie says:

    O PIONEERS! will take you down another wrong path……

    ;-)

  3. sps says:

    Added thirty seconds to my time as I hesitated above the “P” for WASP. Anyone else?

  4. Jeffrey says:

    IN ARABIC/FARRAR was a killer crossing for me, because I didn’t realize until reading your post that it wasn’t IN A RABIC. Doh!

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Is there any plausible reason that Venzke’s CS puzzle crosses BETZ with PRIZM? Why, why, why? Obscure last name meets stupid brand-name spelling from the 1990s. Why? There’s another Z in the puzzle already and it’s not a pangram, so I can see no reason not to use BETS/PRISM.

    When you add in SNEE ARLO ABO A-TEST ALOU POTSY APSE AWN BNAI RRS ABOIL EPODE NIM GRO ESAI ENZO TYRO, the Scowl-o-Meter really heats up. I might understand the inclusion of so much blah fill if there were, say, eight theme entries. But there are four.

  6. Howard B says:

    The lower-left on its own took me a full minute to unravel. Nothing I knew or could figure out without a lot of help in there. I did not understand WASP for a while. Lots of tough musical references and names to boot.

    Nice theme though. Just was not on my wavelength at all, it happens. I thought that IN ARABIC was actually a very tricky and cool answer. That threw me for a bit, along with the O PIONEERS trap and FARRAR. (I’m not quite erudite enough for this grid, I suppose). A worthy challenge.

  7. pannonica says:

    Marni Nixon retro-famously dubbed the singing parts in a bunch of movies, including My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and The King and I.

    Was on a weird wavelength this morning, trying to fill in the even less crossword-worthy phrase “by a cleric” for the fatwa clue and then PLO for the CrosSynergy [Org. whose members often strike], even though I think they’ve forsworn their violent ways.

    Clever, entertaining review, Sam!

  8. Jeffrey says:

    It wasn’t BETS/PRISM? Wow.

    Go Canucks!

  9. John E says:

    I found today’s NYT to have a lot of tedious fill for not that ingenious of a theme (which is too bad because Elizabeth Gorski usually creates super puzzles).

    (Go Boston!)

  10. Gareth says:

    NYT: Only heard of two of the five theme entries, and the last one was sneaky: I learnt that Willa Cather wrote O! Pioneers from a previous ECG, and it sure shares a lot of letters and the same length with this one! As Janie says wrong path! Other names out of my wheelhouse made this quite a tough Wednesday to chew through!

  11. joon says:

    i’m a big cather fan (my àntonia is on my short list of favorite novels), but i learned ONE OF OURS from crosswords. it’s one of the only ways to clue the fairly common OURS. (unfortunately, the incorrect tennyson quote {“___ not to reason why…”} is also quite common.) nice theme, though. MEGAFLOPs are also a unit of computing speed, although kind of an outdated one—we’re talking IBM-PC territory.

    loved brendan’s puzzle. 8 theme answers (plus RELIT and even DEALS) and the fill is still totally up to snuff. if you’re going to do a concealed word/circled letters theme, this is how to do it.

  12. Martin says:

    I wouldn’t call a megaFLOPS outdated, just like a gigahertz hasn’t obsoleted the megahertz. Back when I worked for Control Data, our top model always sold for $13 million, regardless of the MFLOPS it benchmarked. The gigaFLOPS was the holy grail but Cray quit, started Cray Research and built the X-MP, the first GFLOPS machine. He got $15 million for it.

    Today the big boys do teraFLOPS. But a TFLOPS is still just a million MFLOPS.

    The Air Force reached half a petaFLOPS with a couple thousand interconnected PlayStation 3 consoles. I kid you not. And the race is on to reach an exaFLOPS.

    A yottaFLOPS is a lotta FLOPS.

    (FLOPS is FLoating-point Operations Per Second.)

  13. pannonica says:

    How about Yours, Mine & ___ (1968 film starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda)?

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