Sunday, 6/12/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/11" plug="sunday-61211" puzz="Reagle" anchor="mr"]8:26[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/11" plug="sunday-61211" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]8:10[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/11" plug="sunday-61211" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]7:17[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/11" plug="sunday-61211" puzz="BG" anchor="bg"]11:27 (pannonica)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/11" plug="sunday-61211" puzz="WaPo" anchor="wp"]5:49*[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/11" plug="sunday-61211" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]untimed (Sam)[/time_hdr]

C.W. Stewart’s New York Times crossword, “Pullet”

NYT crossword solution, 6/12/11 "Pullet"

What do you do with each theme entry in this puzzle? You pull it (“pullet”), ergo the title:

  • 23a. SALT WATER TAFFY
  • 38a. RELIEF PITCHER—would’ve thought the starter gets pulled, not the relief pitcher, though I’ve seen games where the relief pitcher stinks and is soon replaced
  • 64a. PUPPET STRINGS
  • 93a. PRACTICAL JOKE—not a physical “pulling” involved here, unlike the other theme answers
  • 114a. LITTLE RED WAGON—love that answer
  • 3d. ALL-NIGHTER—okay, this one doesn’t involve tugging, either
  • 51d. ONE’S LEG—I don’t like this as a regular entry, as [Something to stand on], but it works in the context of the “pull” theme
  • 75d. GUN TRIGGER

I do like a little more wordplay action to wrestle with in a big Sunday puzzle. This theme pretty much has a single “aha” moment, when you figure out that they’re all things you might pull. And the octet of theme answers aren’t exhaustive—other things that can be pulled include a fast one, a muscle, teeth, a sled, hair, the tug of war rope, and a recalled product.

SOURPUSS looks great in the grid at 104a and I like the childish plaint “I WANNA” at 20d, but overall the fill and clues felt resolutely ordinary today. Stodgy bits like SENTA, RARA, OGEE, EMEER, and ESNE pull the puzzle further in the “meh” direction. And 8d: HER’N, [Not his'n]? Not sure I’ve seen that one in a crossword before.

Three stars.

Updated Sunday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

This 70/38 freestyle’s key feature is the intersection of triple-stacked 15′s in the grid’s midsection.  Running across the grid are BOGART AND BACALL, [Electricity pioneer] ALESSANDRO VOLTA, and PERSONAL OPINION.  From top to bottom there’s OPENED AN ACCOUNT, OSCAR AND LUCINDA, and a ROCK AND ROLL STAR.  As a group these entries are fine, but I found other entries like the [Slight sin] PECCADILLO, GREAT AUNTS, and TALIA SHIRE more interesting.

To accommodate the intersecting 15s, the grid sections off into four discrete islands.  Each corner can be accessed through but a single white square, so one effectively solves five miniature puzzles to complete the grid.  I prefer a little more openness in freestyle puzzles, but that’s entirely a matter of personal taste.

Let’s wrap it up with four items of note in the puzzle:

  • 17-Across: The [Noted communist buried in Highgate Cemetery] is Harpo MARX.  Honk if you got that without any crossings!
  • 21-Across: I know the [Drain cleaner, at times] as a plumber’s “snake,” not a SNAKER.  Is this a reference to one using a snake?  If so, ugh.
  • 34-Down: [John Boehner trademark] means nothing to me, but I had a funny feeling and guessed TAN, the right answer. Was George Hamilton unavailable?
  • 32-Down: The [Prot. sect] is BAP.  If that makes no sense, let me break it down: there are certain protesters known for their sudden tendencies toward violence.  Some are heard to say, “If you don’t shut yer yap, I’ll bap ya.” (Not to be confused with BOP, the recreational activity of choice in a Cyndi Lauper song that appears at 35-Down.) They came to be known simply as “The Bap.”

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Standard Time”

Merl Reagle crossword answers, 6 12 11 "Standard Time"

My son is eagerly awaiting Flag Day on Tuesday, when his class will wear red, white, and blue. Merl honors the FLAG by hiding it in each theme answer:

  • 23a. [There's a major one in Disney's "Bambi"] = CONFLAGRATION.
  • 28a. [It might lead to an ejection] = FLAGRANT FOUL.
  • 39a. [Hi and Lois of the comics] = THE FLAGSTONS.
  • 55a. ["Fried Green Tomatoes"  author] = FANNIE FLAGG.
  • 63a. [Wagnerian soprano, 1895-1962] = KIRSTEN FLAGSTAD. Who?
  • 76a. [Hidden] = CAMOUFLAGED.
  • 90a. [Monk's penance, once] = FLAGELLATION. Between the huge forest fire and the whipping, this puzzle is a little scary.
  • 105a. [Co-founder of Standard Oil and developer of Florida's east coast] = HENRY FLAGLER. Who?
  • 110a. [Beer-filled tankard] = FLAGON OF LAGER. This is a contrived phrase, but Merl included it because it’s got double FLAG action.

Eight clues:

  • 4a. [Broadway Joe] clues the late Broadway producer Joseph PAPP, not Joe Namath. If you Google “Joe Papp,” you mostly get pages about a professional cyclist by that name, but there’s also a biography of the Broadway guy called Joe Papp: An American Life. I hadn’t ever seen him referred to as “Joe” before.
  • 31a. An EEL is an [Octopus eater]? I had no idea.
  • 61a. [Squeak solver] is the sort of crossword solver who emits squeaks and burbles and grunts while doing a puzzle. Or just an OILCAN used to oil a squeaky hinge.
  • 4d. [Willy-nilly] and PELL-MELL make for rhyme time.
  • 38d. Walter [Mitty portrayer] is Danny KAYE.
  • 90d. [Polliwog] clues not TADPOLE but FROGLET.
  • 91d. [Rio de ___] clues not JANEIRO but LA PLATA.
  • 92d. [Seed covering] is a TESTA. Outside of scientific circles, this is practically crosswordese. Used to see this and ARIL a good bit more often than we do now.

3.3 stars. Nothing too exciting or memorable here, and not a lot of thrills or humor to the theme.

Frank Longo’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 62″

Washington Post Puzzler No. 62 crossword answers, 6 12 11

This one had some rough patches. The asterisk beside my solving time is for the wrong square I had the software highlight for me. Really, Frank? EADIE crossing DARBY at the A, with pop culture 42 and 78 years old? I had the plausible DERBY and and the nonsensical EEDIE, but I am hard-pressed to say that EADIE isn’t equally odd-looking.

The 15s are a mixed bag. There are seven of them:

  • 17a. [Oriental rug feature] = INTRICATE DESIGN. Nice, if not especially zippy.
  • 19a. [Dell lineup] = PUZZLE MAGAZINES. Three Zs, plus who among us has never bought a Dell puzzle magazine? I was a regular consumer as a kid.
  • 22a. [Red ink producer] = DEFICIT SPENDING. Topical, and thus livelier than it might’ve been a couple years ago.
  • 34a. [Leaving lines?] = FAREWELL ADDRESS. Nice.
  • 41a. [Examining the books?] = TEXTUAL ANALYSIS. A little blah, with the accounting/auditing mislead in the clue. I had an S in place of the X for a long time, as 24d: FOREX/[International currency market, for short] isn’t in my vernacular. Short for foreign exchange—okay, now I’ll remember that.
  • 47a. [PriceGrabber and Nextag, e.g.] = SHOPPING ENGINES. Snooze. I never click on the Nextag links in my Google results.
  • 56a. [Permanent resident, in Canada] = LANDED IMMIGRANT. Canadian legal terminology??

Hits and misses:

  • 14a. [Kansas City suburb] clues LENEXA, which I would never have heard of if some crossword friends didn’t live there. (Hi, Barry and Beth!)
  • 33a. [Title lady of a 1933 Ethel Merman hit] = EADIE. Grumble.
  • 38a. [Beth follows it] clues the Hebrew letter ALEPH.
  • 57a. [Community in Los Angeles County] is ALTADENA. It is just north of the more famous Pasadena and has about 43,000 residents. And we should know this name why?
  • 3d. [Film in which Insectopia is sought] is ANTZ. I don’t remember that aspect at all, but was pleased to guess right.
  • 4d. [Pharmaceutical company that makes the scar gel Mederma] is MERZ. Hmm, not too well-known as pharma firms go.
  • 5d. [Of a banishment period] clues EXILIC. That’s a word??
  • 27d. [Kim who played Mattie in the original "True Grit"] is Kim DARBY. I don’t think she went on to be Hollywood-famous.
  • 36d. ["The Feeling We Once Had" singer in "The Wiz"] is AUNT EM. She’s Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz.
  • 53d. [Olden ointment] clues NARD, an old crumb of crosswordese. Really? In a grid that also has ASTA, NISEI, GESTS, ENNE, STOL, DEFAT, EGALE, MEA, and AMO? I really expect juicier fill from Frank Longo.

Yes, it’s a 66-worder with seven 15-letter entries, but I don’t know that the trade-off of clunky fill makes the grid worthwhile. Three stars, if that.

Henry Hook’s Boston Globe crossword, “Whaddya Say” — pannonica’s review

Boston Globe puzzle • 6 12 11 • answers "Whaddya Say"

Heteronyms, whaddya gonna do?

This week, we see familiar phrases in which the first word is presumed to be a heteronym, prompting the entire phrase to have a radically different meaning and be clued appropriately. Heteronyms are a subset of homographs (words that are spelled the same) where both the meaning and the pronunciation are different. Got it? Well, it’s easy enough to demonstrate:

  • 16a. [Fleas' golf skill?] PUTTING ON THE DOG.  That’s \ˈpə-tiŋ\ and not \pʊ-tiŋ\ I can just picture the little guys leaping for joy when they sink one under par!
  • 23a. [Reason to sew in the bedroom?] TEARS ON MY PILLOW.  \ˈterz\ not \ˈtirz\   Darn it! And from here on out, I’ll leave you to your own devices regarding the alternate pronunciations.
  • 47a. [Make the wurst look the best?] POLISH SAUSAGE. You know what? I’m not going to say anything here. Nuh-uh.
  • 54a. [Leave bad weather behind?] DESERT STORM. Don’t they consign deserters to the French Foreign Legion? And aren’t they always depicted wandering about the Sahara? Just ignore me and my synapses, ok?
  • 67a. [What Joy Philbin and Mark Consuelos do?] LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY. No sir, I wouldn’t, not for a million dollars, and that’s my final answer.
  • 80a. [Winner in a hot-air-fueled race?] LEAD BALLOON. Uhm. I think the answers start to lose altitude around here.
  • 90a. [Quilt for an Apple bigwig?] JOB’S COMFORTER.
  • 118a. [Some summer vacations?] AUGUST OCCASIONS.
  • 124a. [Turn music-box keys?] WIND INSTRUMENTS. Is a music box an instrument? I guess so, but more in the “device” sense. Gives a novel and kind of off-kilter meaning to “musical instrument.” Ends the theme on somewhat of a high note.

The theme answers, while inconsistent in quality, have a lot to like in terms of quantity and placement. A 21-letter jobby spanning the center? Very nice, so what if the pivotal word is only four letters of it? Two double 15-letter stacks of themers? Get away! These nine entries total 129 squares and comprise over a third of the 365 letters in the grid!

As for the remainder of the fill, I thought it could be stronger, although it may be that the overloaded theme came at the expense of the rest. The highlights first:

  • The corners sport minor double vertical stacks of eight and seven letters. (3d) I TALK TO [“__ Trees”] seems to have a dialogue with [Burns's “tim'rous beastie” ode] TO A MOUSE (85d), and (15d) DRAINAGE could be a commentary on (96d) DURANTE [Hollywood's “Schnoz”].
  • Just a handful of other non-theme entries longer than six letters; of them, I liked (50a) HAND-EYE [ __ coordination] and (46d) SHEKELS.

…and mid- to lowlights:

  • A lot of people. A lot. Anne MEARA, David ASMAN, Willie NELSON, KEANU Reeves, Leon URIS, Pierce BROSNAN, ERIK Satie, SANTHA Rama Rau, IRMA Rombauer, Paula DEEN, Lily TOMLIN, GWEN Verdon, (Ayn and Sally) RANDS, crossword royalty Al OERTER, SHELLYS [Country singer West et al.], William FILENE, TATUM O’Neal, ALANA Stewart, Margaret CHO, Jimmy DURANTE. To these might be added ERIS, SIVA, ELMO, BABAR.
  • Prefixes, partials and abbrevs. from estimable to egregious: MIT, I WIN, MRI, UFW, CUT OF, PTA, TERA-, IGN., TEL., GMA, ISP, APB, UP YOUR, IS AS, ESK., WAC, LLDS, EXP., ATTN, NOS., AUX., CRO-, SSN.
  • Obscuriana, including some geography and latinate words: AGIO [Currency-exchange fee] , MORONI [Capital of Comoros], SION ["The Da Vinci Code" Priory], NYE [Nevada country], T’PAU [“Heart and Soul” band], KNAR [Knot in wood], EVOE [Ancient cry of revelry], AGNI [Lambs, in Latin], UDO [Japanese vegetable].
  • Some run-of-the-mill crosswordese.

The cluing is nothing to write home about, and not much to write a blog post about. Workmanlike, only occasionally playful or clever. But I feel compelled to highlight 104d ["Vidi", to Tweety] prompts I TAW (as in “I taut I taw a puddy tat!”); it’s a bizarre one-step-removed mashup incorporating a crossword trope (the vidi of Caesar’s famous boast) and a rhyme.

Paul Hunsberger’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Wide-Eyed”

LA Times crossword solution, 6/12/11 "WIde-Eyed"

The phrase wide-eyed has two syllables that are the same except for the \w\ at the start of one. A \w\ sound is added to the beginning of a word in each of the theme entries, with spelling adjusted as needed to make the new creation into a real word:

  • 23a. [Sale at the helicopter dealer?] turns “early-bird special” into WHIRLYBIRD SPECIAL. I kinda wish this one had been saved for the end, as it would be a great way to close out the puzzle. Terrific play on words, with colorful before and after versions.
  • 39a. [Breakfast table exposé?] = THE WAFFLE TRUTH (awful).
  • 60a. [Bittersweet title for a waterskier's memoirs?] = WAKES AND PAINS (aches).
  • 84a. [Lacking lingerie?] = OUT OF THIN WEAR (air). Meh. The result here is subpar.
  • 104a. [Sweater under the tree?] = CHRISTMAS WEAVE (Eve). Hang on, nobody calls a sweater a “weave,” and sweaters are not woven, they’re knitted. A shirt is woven. [Hair extensions for the holiday?], anyone?
  • 123a. [Charge against an illegal fly-fishing conspirator?] = WADING AND ABETTING (aiding).
  • 16d. [Comment to an out-of-shape runner who reaches the finish line?] = WHEEZY DOES IT (easy). Yesterday I read an ESPN.com article about athletes pooping their pants in the heat of competition, including marathoners and triathletes as well as football and basketball players. Fascinating look at the physiology of digestion and the iron commitment of high-level athletes!
  • 67d. [Homo sapiens' cleverness?] = THE WILE OF MAN (Isle).

Except for 84a and 104a falling flat, I liked this theme, especially the WHIRLYBIRD SPECIAL. The fill was a letdown, however. IT A GO, ECG meets ETDS, FUL, FENN, CIT, REO, RIATA, KPH, AS I, ALF, and their ilk seemed to be all over the grid, and there were few interesting longer answers in the non-theme fill (though SWING ERA is lovely).

Three stars, a B.

 

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25 Responses to Sunday, 6/12/11

  1. Carole says:

    Do you do Wayne Roberrt Williams Sunday puzzle?

  2. John E says:

    Not too tough for a Sunday, but 7:17? That’s pretty amazing, Amy

  3. jim hale says:

    Agree with the 3 star rating, though I had never heard of basal metabolism, so it was worthwhile doing it just to have learned it’s meaning.

  4. jim hale says:

    Also Salt Water Taffy reminded me of last weekends purchase of the retro candy bonomo’s turkish taffy which I was pleased to find at Cracker Barrel’s. Not a candy eater but it was cool to relive the nostalgia of my youth.

  5. E. Costello says:

    EMEER, ESNE, OGEE and ETAPE all in one puzzle? Not to mention HER’N.

    2 stars.

  6. Gareth says:

    Liked the theme, but really, too many relics of the past in one puzzle!

  7. ArtLvr says:

    Pulling one’s punches, pull off a long shot, pulling rank — the more metaphorical phrases are more fun to conjure up, but C W Stewart presents a pleasantly provocative puzzle! I did wonder if there isn’t a slangier term where CAREENED turned up?

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Just did Fri, Sat & Sunday, & I agree that PB I’s Fri. blew the others out of the water. What an effortless, elegant puzzle. From the ‘ Confession is good for the soul department’–I sometimes get fuzzy on the distinctions between eponym, allonym, agnomen and cognomen.

    Pullet I found lackluster. Yesterday’s was OK, but I tend not to like a long quote as a secondary theme in an otherwise themeless. If you know the quote, it’s too many free letters.

    Bruce

  9. Jan (danjan) says:

    @jim hale: I bought Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy last week, too! Found it while on vacation in the midwest, and we immediately broke into the jingle (O-O-O-Bon-o-mo…) Also discovered Jumbo Jelly Beans at the same dime store – yum – and I’m not that into candy.

  10. Roger says:

    kept looking for the hen connection–why wasn’t the theme “don’t push it”

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Roger: “Don’t Push It” would be a great title for the NYT!

  12. Why is {State of repair} a clue for “shape”? (something is in shape if it’s in a state of repair?)

    Why is {You might shout out with it if you’re a reindeer} a clue for “glee”. (One shouts out with glee, but does a reindeer?)

    Why is {Trojan targets} a clue for “Pcs?” I know a couple meanings for “Trojans” but maybe I’m missing the right one.

    As soon as I send this, I suppose the answers will become clear.

    Bruce

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    This is re Bob Klahn, June 10.

  14. sbmanion says:

    Bruce,

    In order of my certainty:

    Trojan horses are classic viruses that attack computers.

    In Rudolph, didn’t the other reinder laugh and call him names and then, ultimately, shout out with glee?

    In the classic can it take the place of something else sense of crossword answers:

    What kind of state of repair is the damaged item in? What kind of shape is it in?

    Steve

  15. Sam Donaldson says:

    I think Steve’s right on all counts, Bruce.

  16. ktd says:

    Re: Post Puzzler–Got the DARBY/EADIE crossing pretty early. I think I remembered Kim Darby’s name from any number of articles I read about True Grit upon the release of the remake last year (one of the best movies of 2010 IMO). For me the worst crossing was LENEXA/MERZ–that shared E was pure “fill in vowels and see which is right”

  17. bill from nj says:

    Isn’t 32D in the CS Sunday Challange an abbreviation for Baptist or am I just too dense in not getting the joke?

  18. Meem says:

    Bill from NJ: I think Sam once again has tongue stitched in cheek. You are right on with Baptist.

  19. Amy Reynaldo says:

    But you have to ask: How often do you see “Bap.” as the abbreviation rather than “Bapt.”? Seldom ever, in my experience. I prefer Sam’s jocular “I’ll bap ya” protesters explanation.

  20. John Haber says:

    I agree with Amy that it’s a pretty lame theme. Perhaps for me it doesn’t help that I don’t recognize Radio Flyer (or perhaps did when I was young enough to have a wagon) and that “gun trigger” somehow doesn’t sound all that idiomatic a phrase as opposed to just “trigger.” And the clues with the misleading part of speech like “believe in it” are a pet peeve of mine.

  21. pannonica says:

    [Korean dish Bim-bim-__ ] ?

  22. joon says:

    pannonica: yummy, but too many M’s. it’s bi bim bap. fyi, “bap” just means rice (or metonymically, a meal, or just food in general).

  23. pannonica says:

    I knew that! It was just a space-out typo. Thanks for the additional information, always nice to learn something.

  24. sandirhodes says:

    Kim Darby was a childhood crush (never mind she was about a decade older!). First saw her as “Miri,” from the original Star Trek (early 60′s). Never saw True Grit, but occasionally saw her in a tv drama. Then there was Virginia Calderwood in Rich Man, Poor Man (mid-70′s), which she totally nailed. Dunno what happened to her after that (didn’t care, sigh!).

    Sam DID preface his comment with “If that makes no sense…” Protestants were protesters, yeah?

  25. Tom Grubb says:

    Re: the 6/12 Sunday puzzle. The title “PULLET” clued BOTH “young chicken” and “pull-it” for me so everytime I solved one of the theme clues I kept thinking I was missing the “chicken” angle. Not at all, and by the time I got to “Little Red Wagon” I decided the title was way off the mark. A relatively easy Sunday puzzle and not one of my favorites, at all.

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