Sunday, 6/5/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/04" plug="sunday-6511" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]8:30/10:47[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/04" plug="sunday-6511" puzz="Reagle" anchor="mr"]7:20[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/04" plug="sunday-6511" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]8:54[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/04" plug="sunday-6511" puzz="BG" anchor="bg"]9:53 (pannonica)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/04" plug="sunday-6511" puzz="WaPo" anchor="wp"]6:15[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/04" plug="sunday-6511" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]untimed (Sam)[/time_hdr]

The crossword world congratulates China’s Li Na on her French Open championship today! Not only does she offer a fresher way to clue LINA than [Director Wertmüller], but she’ll let us get a really short full name in the grid. U NU, step off. We will keep LI NA now.

Yaakov Bendavid’s New York Times crossword, “Cagey Answers”

NYT crossword solution 6 5 11, "Cagey Answers"

The theme answers are “cagey” in that a K replaces a G in various phrases, which are then clued by way of the new word:

  • 24a. ONE THINK AT A TIME. Yes, think can be used as a noun.
  • 30a. KINK OF THE ROAD riffs on that classic hobo country song.
  • 51a. Not sure why, but LADY SINKS THE BLUES is my favorite. Maybe because “the blues” of music turns into the Blues of the NHL?
  • 67a. THIS MAY STINK A LITTLE. You know what? I bet there are people who give injections whose accents do make “sting” sound like “stink.” Could this be the germ of the theme?
  • 85a. Whoa, a second hockey theme clue during the Stanley Cup finals? Team Fiend member Jeffrey’s pulling hard for the Vancouver Canucks to win, and the Boston Bruins don’t seem to be fighting that too hard. Wayne Gretzky’s nickname is The Great One. Husband has never heard him called THE LORD OF THE RINKS but if anyone could hold the title, he could. (Husband points out that Lord Stanley, eponym of the Cup, could take the label too.)
  • 103a. BIG BANK THEORY. Uh, nothing to say on this.
  • 116a. A WINK AND A PRAYER is a [Singles bar pickup strategy?] in evangelical circles, right?

Well, the theme’s not terribly tight as the base phrases have nothing in common and the resulting phrases don’t fit any category other than “G becomes K.” Semi-amusing. It helps that the letter K is innately funny. (So is P.)

I lost over two minutes rooting out a couple bad squares. I went with SHOATS instead of STOATS at 6d, mixing up my beasties and not checking the crossing because HOWARD looked eminently plausible. Alas, [Facing] demands TOWARD, not HOWARD. Then there was a straight-up typo: DRET meets ONE THINK ET A TIME. DRAT, indeed! After an afternoon in the hot sun and the chilly thunderstorm, I was almost tired enough to just post an answer grid with mistakes in it.

Highlights:

  • ASTHMATIC with its four-consonant pile-up, HIAWATHA, SPY NOVEL (started with SPY MOVIE, of course), EDITED OUT (my hobby!). And RODAN! We don’t see much of this Godzilla nemesis.

Lowlights:

  • Lots of short fill that’s “meh”—your ADE URN A DIP ABRA ESSO ISE SASK IDEM DESE stuff. And LINN! [Philatelist George, founder of the largest snzzzzzzzzzzz]? Never heard of him, no matter how long the clue gets. Now, a clue like [Missouri town where Amy's erstwhile employer had a warehouse full of medical books], that would’ve been a gimme. And tell me the truth: Would that clue have stymied you any more than the Philatelist George one did?

14d: [Make a queen, e.g.] clues ENTHRONE. Throne! That reminds me. You know how some people jocularly call a toilet “the throne”? If you are in the market for a new toilet, for the love of all that is good, don’t buy a Kohler Wellworth elongated toilet. I’ve had one since January and that thing is hexed. Do you like a reliable flush? Then this is not the commode for you {/public service announcement}

Three stars.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “English-Spanish”

Merl Reagle crossword answers, 6 5 11 "English-Spanish"

An enjoyable pseudo-Spanglish theme, changing a Spanish word (or name) into an English word and cluing the resulting mongrel phrase with humor:

  • 23a. [Remark from someone who's always sponging off you?] turns Muchas gracías! into MOOCHES GRACIAS. The grammar doesn’t quite make sense in the answer, does it?
  • 34a. [Comment from someone who doesn't understand Japanese theater?] is NOH COMPRENDO. No comprendo means “I don’t understand,” but when you change the negation to a Japanese theater term, shouldn’t the clue reflect comprehension rather than the lack thereof?
  • 43a. [Country known for its amusement parks?] would be roller COASTER RICA (Costa Rica).
  • 56a. For [Biography subtitled, "A Dog's Life"?], Ay, chihuahua! becomes I, CHIHUAHUA. We see Tina Turner’s autobiography I, Tina in crosswords a lot, so this felt like a riff on that. Inside joke, crossword style.
  • 69a. [Guitarist whose concerts are extremely well-attended?] clues CARLOADS SANTANA. Uh, don’t even poorly attended concerts probably have plenty of people who drove together in a carload?
  • 88a. This is more of a Merlesque pun. ["May God smile on your media conglomerate"?] clues VIACOM DIOS, playing on Vaya con Dios.
  • 95a. [Dish created by a "Honeymooners" star?] is Art CARNEY ASADA. Now, I’m thinking that this riff on carne asada should evoke cannibalism, the barbecuing of Art Carney.
  • 102a. [Holiday song that scares dogs?] is FLEAS (Feliz) NAVIDAD.
  • 121a. When your theme has a clue like ["Goodbye and good riddance!"], you gotta place it at the end. Merl’s superb at putting kickers at the end of his themes. The answer’s also the funniest in the puzzle: HOSTILE LA VISTA (hasta la vista). Granted, the phrase loses its rhetorical oomph when the verb hasta goes away (…that is a verb, right?), but HOSTILE LA VISTA is so suitably Terminatorish that it still works.

Never heard of:

  • 10d. [Medicinal Asian mushroom] = REISHI. Is that good for dandruff? Because that’s what 95d: COAL TAR ([Medicinal-shampoo ingredient]) is for.
  • 83d. [Classic whodunit, "The List of ___ Messenger"] clues ADRIAN. I know Rocky’s “Yo, Adrian” much better.

Oh, Adrian!

  • 48d. [Old cry of surprise] = “OHO!”
  • 51d. ["That can't be good"] = “UH-OH!”
  • 90d. [Surprised reply] = “OH, HI!”

Old sports trivia:

  • 13d. [Pop Warner coached him] clues Jim THORPE. Did you learn about part-Indian athletic superstar Jim Thorpe back in grade school like I did? Gold medals in the Olympic pentathlon and decathlon, plus he played American football (which is what Pop Warner coached), basketball, and baseball professionally.

Four stars. The fill isn’t too special, but the theme amused me.

Updated Sunday morning:

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe Crossword, “Easy Recipe” — pannonica’s review

Boston Globe puzzle • 6 5 11 • answers

Question: What kind of baking recipe is so simple that it can be incorporated into a crossword puzzle in a half-dozen or so entries?

Answer: This one. DUMP cake. 23a. [With 77-Across's third word, what this recipe makes]

Disclosure: I’m an avid baker but this is the sort of recipe I steer clear of. I make just about everything from scratch—bread, pies, cakes, etc.) and appreciate a little more process. Heck, even cobblers, grunts and slumps need a little more effort than this. My favorite “no-work” dessert is a clafouti, which has the additional advantages of being relatively unknown, exotic-sounding, fairly impressive and delicious.

But back to the crossword:

  • 24a. [What to set the oven at] THREE SEVENTY-FIVE.
  • 36a. [What to 23-Across in a baking dish] CRUSHED PINEAPPLE.
  • 55a. [Next thing to 23-Across in] CHERRY PIE FILLING.
  • Pineapple-Cherry Dump Cake, from Diana's Desserts

  • 77a. [Next thing to 23-Across in]. DRY YELLOW CAKE MIX. As per 23a, for mix to be the third word, ”yellow cake” should either be hyphenated, which doesn’t seem correct, or one word, which is a powder derived from uranium. Remember the Valerie Plame outing? That was the Bush Machine’s retribution for her husband Joe Wilson’s disclosure that there was no yellowcake to be found in Niger. [edit: Bruce S. correctly points out that the target word is cake, not mix. That is indeed the third word here.]
  • 95a. [What to melt and pour over it all] ONE HALF-CUP OF BUTTER.
  • 110a. [What else to sprinkle on top] YOUR CHOICE OF NUTS.
  • 115a. Last, and symmetrical with 22a, [How long to bake-but check sooner] [sic] HOUR. Yes, I’m being extra-nitpicky here. The clue should have an em dash, not a hyphen. I always reproduce the clues verbatim in the write-up.

While I may not be thrilled by the recipe (it isn’t the sort of item likely to be displayed on a dessert CART (104a), it’s quite an accomplishment to have worded the steps such that they occupy consistent and symmetrical letter counts, 6×16 (and 2×4). The cluing is smooth, with a relatively low CAP Quotient™. What I appreciate is that when there is crosswordese, it’s mostly the B-type. That is, rather than being the short fill that fits into odd spaces, it tends to be vocabulary that is familiar to crossword solvers. Some examples:

  • 36d. [Czech writer Karel] = CAPEK (author of the very crosswordese play RUR). Nifty that the seminal robot play author neighbors the deftly clued 37d [Man of Steel portrayer] REEVE.
  • 45a. [Earnest appeal] = ORISON. “Can you hear me now, God?”
  • 55d. [Angler's basket] = CREEL.
  • 79d. [Saw-made notches] = KERFS.

Linked clues that aren’t overtly linked:

  • 70d [Olive measuring 19-19-19] OYL and (90d) [Sailor Man's nemesis] BLUTO. Neither mentions Popeye.
  • 52d [Off. above a midshipman] ENS right next to 91d [Off. above a corporal] SGT. Not a bad way to include two overused abbrevs.
  • 48a [Sci-fi empath] TROI and (123a) [Long siege site] TROY.
  • 18d. [Get-up-and-go] ENERGY crossing 35a [Unit of energy] ERG.
  • 78d [Listed] LEANT crossing (99a) [Inclined] APT.

Clues I liked:

  • 26d. [Sizable Ming] is not a priceless antique vase, but the basketballer YAO.
  • 56d. [Town with a palindromic bakery] YREKA. I didn’t know this one at all, and the clue wasn’t helpful until after I’d answered it. Plus, it’s baking-related and right in the center of the grid!
  • 93d. [Kick back when fired] has nothing to do with “idlers” who’ve lost their jobs, but is a physical RECOIL.

Clues I didn’t like:

  • 73a. [Style Fats Waller used] RAGTIME. He may have grown up with ragtime, but he’s more well known as an exponent of stride piano.
  • 103d. [Chiaroscuro cookie] OREO. I realize that “Oreo” is a trope in crosswords and that there must be some sort of unofficial contest among constructors and editors to find fresh clues for it, but chiaroscuro refers specifically to the interplay of light and shadow, even though it may be represented by black and white. Perhaps the clue was inspired by the next down entry, CIAO?
  • 38d. [Free from a coral] UNPEN. I just think it’s an ugly word.

An absence of long non-theme entries—only two eights and just a handful of sevens—make for an integrated if not particularly exciting grid. Coupled with the mostly straight-ahead clues and few vocabular obscurities (most of which I happened to know) it made for a fluid and swift solve. The reported time is speedy for me on a 21×21 grid, as I’m not a pure touch-typist.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Last Sunday we had a themed puzzle, an unusual Sunday offering from the CrosSynergy Syndicate.  This time, it’s a 74/36 freestyle puzzle (that’s shorthand for saying 74 words and 36 black squares).  The typical freestyle–that’s what the cool kids call a “themeless” puzzle–has no more than 72 words, and, while there is no conventional limit on the number of black squares, the typical freestyle usually sports 32 or fewer black squares.

When I see conventions get flouted, I expect there to be some kind of payoff or some other justification for the departures.  I don’t see it here, though I should be quick to point out that I didn’t notice the unusually high number of entries and black squares until writing this review.  Is the payoff supposed to be the pangram (a grid using all 26 letters)?  Hopefully not, because that never really impresses me.

The grid’s anchored by the 15-letter JACK OF ALL TRADES at the equator.  Then there are two 10-letter Across entries (the awkward DESK COPIER and the heretofore-unheard-of-by-me LANTERN JAW) and two 9-letter Down entries (the far superior GOLF CARTS and AFTER DARK).  After that, it’s a bunch of 6-, 7-, and 8-letter entries stacked to make the more open corners.

I broke into the grid with IPAD, the [April 2010 Apple release], and then I was basically off to the races.  I’m proud to say it took a while to suss out Justin BIEBER as the ["Never Say Never" poster surname], and with the second B in place, I knew the [North Dakota neighbor] was MANITOBA.  I got lucky with TANGO as the [Sierra-uniform connection] because I had just studied up on my NATO phonetic alphabet not long ago.  My favorite clues had a pop culture slant.  I liked [Sheriff Taylor's office had one] for JAIL and [Emulated the Lockhorns] for BICKERED.

The one spot where I got mired was in the answer to [Women's movement goal].  I was sure it was EQUALITY, but the correct answer was EQUAL PAY.  By sticking with EQUALITY for so long, RAI*D as [Fleet] and INT*E for [Lacking meaning] just weren’t working.  Once I tried the correct answer, RAPID and INANE fell quickly and I was done.

Again, the puzzle felt perfectly fine.  But unless someone can explain why it was special enough to have 74 words and 36 black squares, I’ll have to limit my rating to 3 stars.

Doug Peterson’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 61″

Washington Post Puzzler No. 61 crossword solution, 6 5 11

I had heard that the Post Puzzler was adding a new member to the all-star team of constructors. Yay! I always enjoy Doug’s themeless creations in the New York Times, the L.A. Times, and Newsday. He’s got high standards for the liveliness of his fill and he writes a good clue.

Those stacks of long answers, the 8×3 and 10×2 quadrants, are solid. Short crossings that enable stacking of long answers are highly vulnerable to junk fill that sets off the Scowl-o-Meter, but Doug dodged that here.

Highlights:

  • 1a. [Palooka's liability] is a boxer’s GLASS JAW.
  • 9a. [Its scores range from 1 to 5] clues the AP TEST (Advanced Placement Test). Ooh, nice. Much fresher than going with [Most suitable]/APTEST.
  • 18a. [Eponym of the Golden Arm Award] is Johnny UNITAS. “I’ll take Famous People of Lithuanian Descent for $600, Alex.”
  • 23a. [Recall source] is a MENTAL NOTE. Not the sort of recall that takes a defective product off the market.
  • 36a. Whoa, really? Had no idea there was an [Oscar-winning Donald Duck cartoon of 1943] called DER FUEHRER’S FACE. Was this directed by Leni Riefenstahl?
  • 46a. [Portrayers of the protagonists in "The Prince and the Pauper," preferably] is a literary clue for LOOK-ALIKES. Note also the abundant and aggressive alliteration.
  • 55a. iTUNES is a [Program with a Genius feature]. It’s kinda neat. Plug in a favorite song and it’ll generate a playlist of songs that you probably like for similar reasons. I only have a few Genius playlists but I like them.
  • 62a. This 3+5 first+last name stack is cute, EVE ARDEN atop REX STOUT, the [Creator of the detective Tecumseh Fox]. I was hesitant to put in REX STOUT because I always think he’s a fictional detective rather than a writer.
  • 6d. Great clue: [They go through the motions] is talking about JUDGES hearing motions in the courtroom.
  • 23d. A [Con], opposite of a pro, is a MINUS.
  • 26d. SEE YA LATER!
  • 48d. I thought [Base man] was looking for SARGE or LOOIE or something military, but base is the adjective here, describing a cad or KNAVE.

Four stars.

John Lampkin’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “Low and Behold”

LA Times crossword solution, 6 5 11 "Low and Behold"

This is a puzzle in the Merl Reagle vein, with a thematic batch of puns. Here, it’s all about cows:

  • 27a. [Farm vet's reference?] = GRAZE ANATOMY. (Playing on either the Gray’s Anatomy textbook or TV’s Grey’s Anatomy.)
  • 51a. [Milkmaid?] =  THE UDDER WOMAN. (The other woman.)
  • 89a. [Calf's folks] = MA AND PA CATTLE. (Ma and Pa Kettle of old-time movies.)
  • 112a. [Where orphans go while their adoptive moms give milk?] = DOGIE DAY CARE. (Doggie day care.)
  • 14d. [Santa's backup bovines?] = SLEIGH BULLS. (Sleigh bells ring, are you list’nin’?.)
  • 16d. [Expensive cuts?] = HIGH STEAKS. (High stakes.) It always makes me a little sad to see animals and meat equated.
  • 67d. [Bovine hitmen?] = COWS OF DEATH. (Cause of death.) Not cheerful! But the concept of assassin cattle is funny.
  • 73d. [Easy listening in the pasture?] = MOOED MUSIC. (Mood music.)

It’s all right as pun themes go. Not a riotous good time, but not clunky either.

Five clues:

  • 20a. [The Pemaquid Point Light is on its state quarter] clues MAINE. Did you picture the Maine state quarter, too?
  • 54a. [Fish alternative?] clues CUT BAIT. I’m not sure that cut bait is fully “in the language” as a phrase (I don’t fish or use a lot of fishing metaphors, personally) separate from fish or cut bait, but it’s a fresh entry I’ve probably never seen in a crossword before.
  • 86a. [The way we word] sounds a lot like The Way We Were, but it clues SYNTAX. Cool clue.
  • 31d. [Place to press a suit?], as in a lawsuit, is COURT. Don’t bring your ironing board into the courtroom. I could see that getting you held in contempt.
  • 68d. [Rapped with something flat] clues THWACKED. Great word!

Lots of interesting clues in this puzzle. Let’s have five more!

  • 28d. AT ODDS is clued as [Disagreeing like bookies?].
  • 33a. [Perp chaser, with "the"] clues the LAW.
  • 105a. [Like feet of no concern to a podiatrist?] clues IAMBIC. Podiatric poets object to the slander in this clue.
  • 2d. [Sardinian passion] means Italian passion, or love: AMORE.
  • 12d. I thought [Beat in an individual medley] was asking for a drumbeat in a medley of songs, but no. Beat is a past tense verb here, and the individual medley is a swim event: OUTSWAM. And yes, I recognize that “individual medley” doesn’t sound at all like a musical term.

The clues are what made this puzzle fun, if you ask me. Four stars.

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18 Responses to Sunday, 6/5/11

  1. Martin says:

    Sounds like your Kohler has been conspiring with Ron Paul’s.

    There might be something wrong, since all toilets have to pass rigorous testing using standardized synthetic poop. Of the various possibilities discussed, we have now settled on the soybean paste (miso) sausage plus wadded paper.

  2. Erik says:

    The bottom left corner is straight up ugly.

  3. AV says:

    Wow, agree with Erik. That PAMDAWBER- EDNAS – PAGO – GENA square was really hard! Also, why not CLAPTON instead of CLANTON (easy change)? Overall, an interesting idea, but the G in BIG BANK THEORY bothered me as well.

  4. pannonica says:

    Hasta is an adverb, roughly meaning “until.” The phrase is idiomatic.

  5. Matt says:

    A nice puzzle, but two nits: Yeah, I can see that LINEARA is LINEARB’s less famous sibling, but it’s kinda obscure for a Sunday. And ITSME/ITISI are both grammatically correct. Personally, I regard ITISI as a hyper-correction.

  6. Jeffrey says:

    The Canucks are looking good right now.

    I agree with husband on LORD OF THE RINKS.

    LINEARA/HAAG was my last letter but I figured YAAkov would go for a double A word.

  7. cyberdiva says:

    Amy, I find it fascinating to see what opposites we are. Aside from the fact that you’re breathtakingly fast and I’m, well, not, very often your gimmes are unknown to me, and the things you’ve never heard of are my (few) gimmes. The philatelist George LINN (NYTimes) was one of my gimmes (I was an enthusiastic stamp collector as a kid), as was The List of ADRIAN Messenger (Reagle).

    BTW, I too object to NOHCOMPRENDO as an appropriate answer in the Reagle puzzle. I’m not wild about CARLOADSSANTANA either. Oh well….

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @pannonica, I meant adverb! I know that in English “until” isn’t a verb. D’oh! In your BG review, I laughed at “but he’s more well known as an exponent of stride piano.” I…have never heard of stride piano.

    Also, @p, I’m printing out that clafouti recipe. Back in the day, there was a neighborhood French/Serbian bakery/cafe that served a nice layered clafouti, but I’ll take a technique-free recipe any day!

  9. Bruce S. says:

    Pannonica,

    Unless I am reading it wrong, they want Cake to be the third word in 77-A to make it a DUMP CAKE recipe in the Boston Globe crossword. I think they have it correct. No hyphen needed.

  10. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks, Amy, for the tip on the “throne”‘ replacement, as it’s a matter much on my mind! Also, Philip MacDonald’s “List of ADRIAN Messenger” is a great classic thriller I often revisit with nostalgia. It was made into a movie too, with many famous stars in incognito cameo roles, like Tony Curtis appearing out of the mist as a gypsy with a gift horse!

    @ArtLvr: I should’ve bought a Toto brand toilet (they’re Japanese). Everyone who spends a bit more to get a Toto is apparently delighted. When I remodel my loo and get rid of the low counter over the toilet tank (which sorely limits my choices in toilets), I’m definitely buying a Toto.

  11. pannonica says:

    Oh Bruce, you’re right! Somewhere in my solving process (for some unremembered reason) my mind inexplicably fixed on the “mix” part and I literally (yes literally) didn’t give it a second thought. Also, I seem to have a problem counting: number of words in “Scrabble” in comments of MGWCC#156 and the many times that I have listed the wrong number of theme entries in a write-up.

    I’m going to leave my little screed in the review, though.

  12. Angela says:

    Easy puzzle. But one puzzling answer. 77 across clue “down time”: fills in to be PANDR. What am I missing?

  13. pannonica says:

    Angela: It’s R and R, rest and relaxation. Or as Elmer Fudd said, “West and welaxation, at wast!”

  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I believe the proper spelling is “wewaxation.”

  15. pannonica says:

    You’re wight. A wapse on my part. Recipwocation for the adverb thing. But not wetwibution.

  16. pannonica says:

    LAT: Bovine hitmen = cows?

    Had Phillip Bimstein’s “Garland Hirschi’s Cows” playing in my mind all throughout the solve. As my CD copy is currently packed up and not easily accessible, I looked for it on-line and found that it’s received a recent boost in popularity due to an NPR spotlight, but for good or ill, no ‘free’ version to link to. My favorite piece from that particular album is “The Door.”

    p.s. Change to “wecipwocation,” above. Fuddspeak can be twicky.

  17. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    Kinely see cow 2.

  18. pannonica says:

    Martin: pfft. See The Innocent Eye Test
    </bravado>

    All right, I concede.

Comments are closed.