Thursday, 6/2/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/01" plug="thursday-6211" puzz="Fireball" anchor="fb"]13:00[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/01" plug="thursday-6211" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]4:59[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/01" plug="thursday-6211" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]5:06 (Neville)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/01" plug="thursday-6211" puzz="BEQ" anchor="bq"]4:47 (MG)/3:13 (ALR)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/01" plug="thursday-6211" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]untimed (Sam)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/01" plug="thursday-6211" puzz="Tausig" anchor="bt"]untimed[/time_hdr]


Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution 6 2 11 0602

I’m not quite sure I have a complete grasp of the theme here. 26d/28d spells out BORDER STATES, and the borders of the puzzle grid are filled with the names of states: NEW YORK, FLORIDA, ALABAMA, ALASKA, MONTANA, GEORGIA, WYOMING, and NEVADA. They aren’t all U.S. border states and they don’t all border one another. So…they’re just states forming the border of this puzzle, right?

I like the corner interlock between state names and I like how the grid looks like a themeless, with all those 7-letter answers criss-crossing in the corners. (Technically, the word count is two words too high to be an NYT themeless.)

Weirdest word: 38d, ISOLATO, a [Person who's out of step with society]. I haven’t made this word’s acquaintance before. It’s probably been hiding in a closet with the other unfamiliar words.

Most literary fill: It’s a tie! We’ve got James Joyce’s Stephen DEDALUS, the JOAD family created by that WRITER named Steinbeck, and Lolita’s real name (DOLORES). Avid readers get a leg up in this puzzle.

Least savory fill: FARO, DAP with a fishing clue (but with a fist-bump clue, I’d love it), variant AEON, OTOS, CML, NISEI, SARG. Kinda crosswordesish, those.

Sweetest fill: WHOOPED, EPHEDRA, “NOW, NOW,” SAM NUNN from 60a, and the literary DEDALUS and DOLORES.

Favorite clue: 33a: TONTO is the [TV character who said "Him a beauty. Like mountain with snow - silver-white"]. Johnny Depp will be playing Tonto in an upcoming Lone Ranger movie remake reimagining. (Armie Hammer of The Social Network will be the Lone Ranger but Tonto will be the real star of the story.)

Four stars.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Six-Part Harmony”

Fireball 2:20

Love this rebus theme, though it sure took a helluva long time to figure it out. Six squares contain the harmonious YIN/YANG symbol, with the YIN filling in the word one way and YANG the other. Until I wrestled my way through the square 42 crossing, I couldn’t figure out what was being rebused in R{YAN G}OSLING‘s name. Thank you, Rangoon’s other spelling, {YANG}ON, and thank you, common word L{YIN}G! You cracked the code for me. I kinda wish I’d done the puzzle on paper so I could draw in yin/yang symbols. I will put them right here instead: ☯☯☯☯☯☯. There. I feel better now.

Best stuff: CHIA OBAMA, BENVOLIO, the TV-trivia clue for CANDICE (Hal Linden:Barney Miller :: Candice Bergen:Murphy Brown), and themers RYAN GOSLING, PYONG{YANG}, NORTH KOREA, and FR{YIN}G PAN. The theme and the good stuff got me to look past the odd NOOSERS.

4.5 stars.

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Ed presents us with three long entries that begin with the mixed up letters of US states – we’re calling it ALTERED STATES after the Paddy Chayefsky novel I’m not familiar with. He won Oscars for the screenplays of Marty, The Hospital and Network, so I’ll say that Paddy knew what he was doing based on my familiarity with two of those films.  Let’s look at what Ed made of Paddy’s work:

  • 20a. [Words of regret] – “HAD I ONLY KNOWN…” (IDAHO). This sort of feels like a phrase that needs something else with it, hence the dot-dot-dot. I’m okay with it.
  • 32a. [Samaritan's assurance] – “I MEAN NO HARM” (MAINE). Now this one feels like something an alien would say upon landing on Earth and realizing some of us speak English. I don’t like how the anagram break fits right with the word break, unlike in the other two entries.
  • 43a. [Classic kids' wagons] – RADIO FLYERS (FLORIDA). Easily my favorite theme entry – long state, definitely a fun entry and I don’t feel like deducting a fraction of a point for being plural. I will note that this is the only entry that isn’t a phrase.

I think Ed used what he could for this theme to a fair amount of success – I’m still not quite enamored with it (but that might take an anagram of NORTH CAROLINA). What other states will this work for? ["Everything you love about coffee"] – SANKA SLOGAN. [Like Sarah Palin, so they say] – GONE ROGUE. Meh, those are weak sauce. Do better in the comments, please!

EPOS kept me from a Happy Pencil for more than a few seconds – I had EPIC. It’s not DCIN but DCON and not SECE but SESE. I’ll take those in a late-week puzzle, especially since I could find my error, but I don’t have to like it.

Fault! 63a. [Nailed the test] – ACED IT crosses TEST. Try the clue again on a second service – this isn’t an ACE if I’m the ref.

Big thumbs up for EL CHEAPO, EXPEDIA (dot com!), SNOW JOBCOOL CAT (who might be wearing AVIATORS, depending on the decade) and 14a. [Pre-deal demand] for ANTE UP. These entries make up for a lot of my earlier misgivings; the TEST issue notwithstanding, I can give this puzzle a solid four stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Letterheads” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Today’s puzzle spotlights eight men known initially to many by their first two initials:

  • 17-Across: [J. Bailey's partner in show business] is P.T. BARNUM.  Their partnership was a real circus.
  • 28-Across: The [Author known for using lowercase letters in his poems] is E.E. CUMMINGS. Some may claim that I should have used the lower-case version of his name (“e.e. cummings”), but Wikipedia tells it differently:  “Cummings himself used both the lowercase and capitalized versions.  According to his widow, he did not (as reported in the preface of one book) have his name legally changed to ‘e e cummings’.  On the contrary, he wrote to his French translator that he preferred the capitalized version (“may it not be tricksy”).  One Cummings scholar believes that on the rare occasions that Cummings signed his name in all lowercase, he may have intended it as a gesture of humility, not as an indication that it was the preferred orthography for others to use.”
  • 38-Across: [Dr. Moreau's creator] is H.G. WELLS. He also created a time machine that sparked a war of the worlds.
  • 40-Across: ["The Waste Land" poet] is T.S. ELIOT, and not T.S. Garp.  I didn’t know this, but by the time I hit this entry I was well aware of the theme, so I only needed a couple of crossings to be sure.
  • 46-Across:  ["The Catcher in the Rye" author] is J.D. SALINGER.  Though his initials suggest otherwise, Mr. Salinger did not have a law degree.
  • 61-Across: W.C. FIELDS is the ["Start every day off with a smile and get it over with" speaker].  My favorite line of his is “Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”  But that would make for an awfully long clue.
  • 7-Down: The [Creator of Pooh's corner] is A.A. MILNE.  I was in third grade when Milne would have reached the age of 95, so to celebrate our teacher had us make our favorite Pooh characters out of construction paper.  To this day I’m still amazed that I was the only one in the class of 30 who made Eeyore.
  • 43-Down: [Narnia's creator], to anyone who has followed Hollywood box office receipts the past few years, is a gimme for C.S. LEWIS.

I really like how the four 7-letter theme entries meet in the center of the grid.  And even more impressively, each of the two Down theme entries intersects with two other theme entries!  That’s just awesome.  Don’t try this at home, kids.

And despite all this intersecting themage, the fill is remarkably smooth.  CLUB SODA, NO PETS, I’M FREE, and IDEAL MATE are the most interesting of the bunch.  Some may balk at the number of abbreviations (RCPT, QTRS, SSR, ANAT, NNE, HSN, CNN, ISP, FAA, SSGT), but for a puzzle dedicated to initials, abbreviations seem rather apt.

Two items completely new to me: (1) a NEWEL is a [Staircase element] (it’s the central pole that supports the handrail); and (2) JESSYE Norman is an American prima donna.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Bee Season”—Matt Gaffney’s review

The Scripps National Spelling Bee final round is today, and Brendan has written a theme using four contestant requests we’ll hear repeatedly:

  • 18a. “CAN YOU REPEAT THAT?”
  • 28a. “DEFINITION, PLEASE.”
  • 45a. “LANGUAGE OF ORIGIN?”
  • 58a. “USE IT IN A SENTENCE.”

I was just about to write how convenient it was that all these are 15 letters long when I realized that they’re all 16 letters long.  Which I didn’t notice at all in the 4:47 it took me to solve the puzzle.

Good, timely theme — never seen it done before, and these are all natural-sounding renditions of the familiar spelling bee questions.

With four grid-spanning theme entries there isn’t any fill longer than seven letters, denying Brendan his usual shots from three-point range.  But it’s clean and he manages to work a little magic from closer in:  JOURNO, FACE IT, OOMPH, DELHI and SHOO-INS are all good.  Some nice cluing as well: {Stereotypical part of a pirate costume} for PARROT, {Zebus, e.g.} for OXEN (zebus, like a rebus), {American worker?} for PILOT and {What the supervillain reveals to Bond in great detail just before letting him escape} for PLAN were standouts.

4.05 stars is my quantified opinion.  Thanks for the puzzle, BEQ, and have a spell-checked Thursday, everyone!

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Early Dismissal”

Ink Well crossword solution, "Early Dismissal" 6/2/11

This week’s theme adds a short word—”NO”—at the beginning of several phrases. (“No” is a “dismissal” and it’s “early” because it’s placed before the original phrases.) The revealer entries spell out LETTERS OF / REJECTION, which works pretty well because people do spell out “N-O” fairly often. I thought letters of rejection was way less “in the language” than rejection letters, but there is, in fact, a Letters of Rejection website.

The results are solid:

  • 23a. [Has a casual snack, as a cannibal?] turns the Tom Jones song “She’s a Lady” into NOSHES A LADY.
  • 36a. NOMAD MAGAZINE would likely be a [Periodical with 0% home subscription rates?].
  • 51a. A [Little league team?] is a NOVICE SQUAD.

Highlights:

  • 14a. UPS GROUND. I’m a big fan of Brown.
  • 43a. The WHAMMY is the [Dreaded "Press Your Luck" result]. “Big bucks, no whammies!”
  • 2d. SPEEDO is clued as a [Clothing company associated with wet, near-naked bodies].
  • 4d. Even little ol’ ARE gets juiced up thanks to ["What ___ you, nuts?"]. I’m always torn between “What, are you nuts?” and “What are you, nuts?” Where do you hear the comma?
  • 45d. Who doesn’t love the [Animated Scrooge] McDUCK?

Grammatical word I have never once known:

  • 56a. An ADNOUN is an [Adjective used as a person, place, or thing]. As in “the rich.”

Four stars.

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18 Responses to Thursday, 6/2/11

  1. Howard B says:

    I really liked the Fireball puzzle, until the classic Peter crossing of two names – even knowing the theme, I could not resolve that Gosling area, crossing a theme square, since I am not familiar with either personality and so could not find where a theme square might be (especially since the squares are not symmetrical). Those celebrity clues are brutal when you’re not on his wavelength. Theme-wise it’s a winner though.

  2. joon says:

    i did wrestle through all the theme squares, but was defeated by TINTYPE crossing TING (and CANDICE, which i thought might be CANDACE). the trivia clues were over the top in this one, though. {1969 role for Paul}? {Miller contemporary}, really? even the saturday stumper would not have such a vague clue—the answer could literally be anybody who lived at the same time (and, perhaps, worked in the same field) as anybody named miller. the CANDICE clue was particularly vexing to me—another miller who could be anybody, and really, neither hal nor miller has anything to do with cand_ce bergen, so peter’s gone awfully far afield to produce this incredibly oblique clue. i admit, even {“Murphy Brown” Actress Bergen} would have defeated me because i didn’t know the spelling or the crossing word, but the actual clue is just salt in the wounds. there were similarly insane clues for, let’s see, BUTCH, SHE, HOLDEN, DIMAG, GREENE, MANNS, OLGAS, ACNE, and RYAN GOSLING, plus somewhat unknown ROY INNIS and totally unknown JOHNNY ANGEL. it was a good day to know trig and southeast asian geography, but that was not enough. i did appreciate all the YANGs going across and YINs down, and the hint from the title about the number of rebus squares. both of those made it much more tractable. but my hat’s off to anybody who solved this.

  3. jim hale says:

    They’re border states because they are on the exterior border of the puzzle, no other reason. A decent puzzle.

  4. Erik says:

    Until LYNDA MARSHALL (she played Fat Woman in “Africa Express” and Fat Lady in “Alien from L.A.”) makes it big, I can’t think of anything for MARYLAND.

  5. Matt says:

    I remembered ‘isolato’ from Moby Dick, and its use in the novel is the earliest quotation cited in the OED. in fact, ‘isolato’ appears to have been coined by Melville to describe the kind of people you find on a whaling ship…

  6. ArtLvr says:

    I thought NISSEI were first-generation and ISSEI were second… otherwise all was okay. Mentally still reeling a bit after watching the opera Nixon in China on PBS last night, not my cup of tea! Note to crossword constructors — would recommend a puzzle using the title of first opera seria in English, which was by Arne of Rule Britannia fame and was called Artaxerxes! Never mind that the two male leads were scored for castrati, as that was the height of fashion at the time…

  7. Gareth says:

    NYT: Bottom-left of the grid with SICILIA, SAMNUNN and DEDALUS was a brute!! Also, how did ODILE not make your crosswordese list?

  8. Daniel Myers says:

    Yes, Matt, Melville uses the word three times in swift succession:

    “They were nearly all Islanders in the Pequod, Isolatoes too, I call such, not acknowledging the common continent of men, but each Isolato living on a separate continent of his own. Yet now, federated along one keel, what a set these Isolatoes were!”

    Thus, in two sentences, a word passes from Italian to English.

  9. LARRY says:

    ArtLvr: ISSEI, NISSEI, SANSEI, the first three generations derives from the Japanese number system: ICHI, NI, SAN meaning ONE, TWO, THREE.
    Matt – Thanks for the information about ISOLATO. I don’t recall it from my reading of the book 100 years ago.

  10. John Haber says:

    DEDALUS was a gimme for me. I’m allowed to have a certain illusion that some books are just everyone’s reading, given the puzzle convention that everyone watches TV 24/7. For that reason, BEQ puzzles are usually the hardest for me, and this one did make me struggle. You needed crossings, given that the borders could be any state. My hardest was the SW with ISOLATO and SARG. I’d also made the mistake of “zeal” for HEAT, which slowed me up on TONTO trivia and HOT TEA.

  11. Howard B says:

    I think Johnny Angel appeared as a theme answer in an ACPT puzzle a few years back. Otherwise I would have drifted even further out on the Trivia Sea than I already did.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Gareth, I remembered ODILE when I saw a vanity license plate reading ODILE this morning. No lie!

  13. joon says:

    interesting exercise. LYNDA MARSHALL is kind of an amazing find, even if i’ve never heard of her. AIRING VIDEOS (VA) is almost an actual phrase. MN has some intriguing possibilities, like MENTION AS or even just NOMINATES. UT is easily found in legit phrases such as HAUTE COUTURE, but that’s not as impressive. KNEW YORICK, {What Hamlet did?}? okay, that’s lame.

    really neat CS puzz by PB2. it was a quick solve for me, coming so soon after last week’s similar MGWCC, but the theme density and interlocking was très élégant.

  14. Alex says:

    A MAN ON THE MOON? ( = [Kennedy mandate] )
    NANOMATERIALS?
    ERGONOMICS?
    AFRICAN LION?
    CHAIN MIGRATION?

    There’s not much there, is there?

  15. Jeff Potter says:

    I loved the Fireball puzzle and agree it took a while to figure out how to use the rebus. I knew “complemetaryangles” was the answer, but couldn’t get it to fit for a while. Knowing it had to be “RyanGosling” helped too. Of course, for an English teacher film buff the Butch Holden crossing got me started smiling. I just found the puzzle fun, funny, clever, challenging, and everything I subscribe to Fireball for. Look forward to its arrival in my inbox each week. Thanks Peter

  16. Todd G says:

    How about DAVE NAVARRO for the state I currently live in?

  17. John says:

    I liked the fireball, but the yin-yang rebus is a repeat theme from a NYT puzzle from about 7 years ago.

  18. Tuning Spork says:

    Hmm. Fireball was right in my wheelhouse, I guess, as BUTCH, CANDICE, GOODMAN and ROY INNIS (having gotten the theme at COMPLIMENTARY ANGLES) were all gimmes. Fun fun fun.

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