Tuesday, 7/5/11

Jonesin' 3:49 
NYT 3:22 
LAT 3:57 (NLF) 
CS 7:49 (Sam) 

Andrea Carla Michaels and Johanna Fenimore’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 7 5 11 0705

The byline’s got a misspelling in the NYT’s applet—I hope the print edition gets it right! It’d be a shame for Johanna’s debut (congrats!) to be sullied by a name mixup. Andrea and Johanna’s theme involves adding an O to the end of key words in various phrases:

  • 17a. FULL SPEEDO AHEAD is clued as [Warning about a chubby guy in some skimpy swimwear?]. Even on the heels of the Anthony Weiner imbroglio, a “full Speedo” doesn’t get interpreted as one with a sizeable man-bulge?
  • 26a. Not so sure about DIRTY ROTTEN EGGO. “Dirty rotten scoundrel,” yes. “Rotten egg,” yes. When I grew up, it was strictly “Last one in is a rotten egg!”—no uncleanness suggested.
  • 45a. I know “snowball in hell,” but I don’t get how SNOWBALL IN HELLO is an [Icy winter greeting?]. How does one get a snowball into a “hello”?
  • NO LEGO TO STAND ON? That’s not the [Result of cleaning up some building toys?]. Anyone with a Lego fan in the house knows that “no Lego to step on and thus spur a barrage of cursing” is the happy result of cleaning up the Legos on the floor.

The fill’s pretty smooth and Tuesday-friendly for a puzzle with 60 theme squares. There is that Greek mythology name to slow people down, though—IXION is clued [Zeus bound him to an eternally revolving wheel]. I know some of you filled that one in swiftly, but the rest of us waited for all the crossings. And he’s right next to St. Denis, spelled DENYS here (but DENIS was my first attempt).

Favorite answers: BLOOPERS, WALNUTS, GOGOL, TEAMWORK, KRAKOW, and KNOX.

3.75 stars.

Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

LA Times crossword answers, 7 5 11

LA Times crossword answers, 7 5 11

Happy day after Independence Day! Mr. Christian (sorry – had to go for the Night Ranger rhyme) gives us a pretty straight theme that takes up a lot of space in the grid:

  • 9a. [*Jake LaMotta, e.g.] is a BOXER, and a fighter by his trade
  • 17a. [*Mexican neighbor of New Mexico] is CHIHUAHUA
  • 24a. [*Skiers' patron] is SAINT BERNARD
  • 41a. [*Like Hammett's falcon] is MALTESE – it’s the stuff that dreams are made of
  • 43a. [*Piece of advice] is POINTER. It looks like you’re trying to write a letter…
  • 54a. [*Labrador was added to its provincial name in 2001] - NEWFOUNDLAND, a clue for our Canadian friends
  • 67a. [*Beijing dialect] - PEKINGESE, one for our Chinese friends, too

Quick! What do these seven answers have in common?

  • 58d. [Steadfast belief (and parent of each answer to a starred clue?)] - DOGMA / DOG MA (groan)

Bone-us round (another groan):

  • 51a. [Brand for a 58-Down] - ALPO
  • 73a. [Greetings from the answers to starred clues] - BARKS

And that is exactly 1/8 of the puzzle. There are 80 entries here – two more than the usual limit. Was it worth it? I think I’d rather lose the extra related entries and have more fun, non-thematic content in the puzzle. You know, like PLAN BOOZING and IRON ON. (Homework: use those in the same sentence.) Why is [Philly's signature sandwich] a HOAGIE and not a Philly cheesesteak? I guess a PCS is a sort of a hoagie. Looks like I have former mayor Ed Rendell to blame – he made it the official sandwich. You could’ve done better, Ed. [Agricultural cubists?] for BALERS made me chuckle. It’s nice to see a ? clue that’s just out there every now and then.

3 1/2 stars from me – the 80-word count frustrates me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Better Living Through Chemistry”

Jonesin' crossword solution, "Better Living Through Chemistry"

The title suggests that the -IUM words in the theme answers are chemicals, but that’s only the case in maybe 1.5 of 4 entries:

  • 17a. [Result of The Hulk's first press conference?] is a PODIUM CAST. (Meaning angry Hulk throw podium across room. Hulk smash.) This one adds -IUM to “podcast,” but of course a podium is not found on the periodic table.
  • 58a. “Bar bets” become BARIUM BETS, or ["Let's see who can prepare for their colonoscopy first," et al.?].
  • 11d. [Nightspot where you can't be too big or too small?] is CLUB MEDIUM (“Club Med”). Again, not a chemical.
  • 29d. [Drug that's only smoked in pictures?] turns “photo op” into PHOTO OPIUM. Opium may or may not qualify as a chemical.

Freshest stuff in the grid:

  • 25a. In Microsoft Word, TAHOMA is a [Font close to Verdana]. Close in appearance or just close alphabetically?
  • 44a. [Jon running for president] is Mr. HUNTSMAN. If he ends up being forgotten in a couple years but Matt’s republishing his puzzles in book form, this can easily be reclued as that dude in “Little Red Riding Hood.”
  • 51a. ARIANNA is the [Huffington behind the Huffington Post].
  • 34d. Vocabulary word! SATURNINE means [Gloomy].

Six more clues:

  • 40a. [Come out on top] clues DO THE BEST. Sounds a hair awkward as a stand-alone phrase, no?
  • 42a. [Yours and mine, in the sticks] clues OUR’N. I’m more familiar with “his’n.”
  • 49a. [Indie rock band ___ Riot] clues RARA. Indie rock bands ≠ my forte.
  • 65a. SAVOY is a [French section of the Alps], apparently.
  • 1d. ["Rent" star Anthony] RAPP isn’t all that famous, is he?
  • 41d. [Early baseball Hall-of-Famer ___ Rixey] clues EPPA. What were his parents thinking? And what about the parents of two little boys who were in the newspaper the other day—Kayl and Kaimyn? Baby-name spelling has gotten out of hand.

3.5 stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It Has a Ring to It” – Sam Donaldson’s review

66-Across reveals the theme with its clue, [Communications device described by the first words of the puzzle's four longest answers].  The answer is PHONE, and sure enough, each of the four longest entries starts with a word that represents a type of telephone:.

  • 17-Across: To [Toil long and hard] is to WORK ONE’S HEAD OFF.  Um, the version of the expression I know has one working his or her ass off, not his or her head.  I can see the benefit of losing some of my ass, but I’m not so sure I want to work so hard that I lose my head.  (As for the connection to the theme, many of us have a “work phone.”)
  • 26-Across: Another name for a [Traveling advertisement] is a MOBILE BILLBOARD, and a “mobile phone” is an early version of the cell phone.  Oh, and speaking of cell phones…
  • 43-Across: …the [Activity of some cloning labs] is CELL DUPLICATION. When I Google “cell duplication” (in quotation marks), it fetches about 30,100 results (in 0.21 seconds–a tad slow for my tastes).  When I Google “cell replication” instead, it yields about 544,000 results (in an even slower 0.28 seconds).  When I narrow the search to find those expressions in relation to cloning, “replication” beats “duplication” by an even wider margin.  This highly unscientific approach, which took me 45.4 seconds total, tells me CELL REPLICATION would have been the better answer.  But I’m not a cloner, and neither is my double.  Can any lurking cloners offer their two cents in the comments?
  • 58-Across: [Second mortgages, generally] are HOME EQUITY LOANS, and obviously many of us have “home phones.”

The grid has 60 theme squares (four 15-letter entries), a high number for a themed puzzle.  That often forces compromises in the fill, as more fixed squares means fewer choices for crossing entries.  Yet this grid looks pretty effortless–a nice accomplishment.  The only clunky entries were LEK, the [Currency unit of Albania], and everybody’s favorite [Suffix with pay], OLA. Everything else is quite solid.  Sure, there may not be many stellar entries (HAD A GO and LAST LAP were the only real standouts), but I’m happy enough with a smooth grid devoid of bad stuff.

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27 Responses to Tuesday, 7/5/11

  1. Erik says:

    It’s Independence Day, and I’m trying to think of an anthem that starts “OH SAI…”

  2. joon says:

    yep, both LYS and DENYS get the Y treatment today. well, neither one was hard to write over.

    IXION! GOGOL! i’m a happy guy.

  3. Dave G. says:

    Nice puzzle, but FULL SPEEDO AHEAD made me a little ill. :-p

  4. Gareth says:

    NYT: 3 out of 4 theme winners. Agree SNOWBALLINHELLO makes no sense, and isn’t it really a partial in any case? Knew IXION, but not GOGOL (though retrospectively think I’ve seen it xwords before. Is “gat” really old slang? I encounter intermittently in rap music; admittedly, there are some artists who need all the synonyms for “firearm” they can get!

    LAT: Cute puzzle! Mr. Christian evoked Mutiny on the Bounty rather than Nightranger here… Curious about Malteses. Here Maltese is short for Maltese Poodle, but I am told this is a South African crossbreed than international dog snobs won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. So yours is a terrier right?

  5. Ladel says:

    Full Speedo Ahead is clever fill, and brought a smile, the real issue is I see too much of that in real life, and then it’s not so funny.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I do hope nobody here (puzzle included) is playing the “ha ha, fat people are funny” or “eww, fat people are gross” card. We’re all better than that, right?

  7. pannonica says:

    I believe Andrea and Johanna slipped one past wily ol’ Will. “Chubby” has another, more…ah…speedocentric, sense.

  8. Ladel says:

    Amy

    there is nothing funny about being fat, in fact, it’s a national tragedy.

  9. sbmanion says:

    “Snowball’s chance in hell” is the onlly idiom I am familiar with although there apparently is a song called SNOWBALL IN HELL and I suppose the idiom could be reworked to say “you have as much of a chance as a snowball in hell.”

    Here’s the song:

    http://www.songlyrics.com/they-might-be-giants/snowball-in-hell-lyrics/

    I got a kick out of the lego entry. I have tutored more than 1500 students, but am flummoxed by my 8-year-old son. He struggles in math, but has been able to put together legos designed for 12-year-olds since he was 5.

    Steve

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Boy, Ladel, I hope you don’t tell an individual overweight person that he or she is a national tragedy! Some people are fat and fit, while legendary runner Jim Fixx dropped dead of a heart attack.

  11. joon says:

    in the jonesin’, i was rather flummoxed by TAHOMA, especially crossed by the utterly unknown OMAROSA and an incomprehensible clue for SHOE. i eventually fished the font out of my brain but was undone at the crossing of OMAROSA and RARA. not my favorite jonesin’, especially with the theme kind of all over the place.

  12. HH says:

    Overweight people are a national tragedy.

    Healthy people dying are a national comedy.

  13. Jenni Levy says:

    National tragedy here checking in. Always worth remembering, Ladel, that you are talking about actual people, some of whom do crossword puzzles. Also worth remembering (or perhaps learning) that your response to how I look is your problem, not mine. Amy’s also right about the lack of correlation between weight (or BMI) and health or fitness.

    Didn’t care for either the SNOWBALL or EGGO theme answers, but the SPEEDO and LEGO made up for it. NO LEGO TO STAND ON is one of my favorite recent clever theme answers. Missed the second meaning of chubby but will be chuckling over it for a while – thanks, pannonica.

  14. Ladel says:

    Amy

    The tragedy is not the individual, the tragedy is the rampant obesity in this country, fueled in part by the fast food joints, who in reality are no better than drug dealers, and IMO need to be regulated.

    As you correctly pointed out, body weight is not a definitive indication of health, tho medical people as you know well, tend to rely on statistical evidence as an indication for treatment. The statistics indicate that weight within a certain range for certain body size leads to better health and longer life. I would never cast someone as tragic or inferior if they fell outside the norm.

  15. Jenni Levy says:

    In that case, Ladel, you might want to know that what you said definitely landed on me as “casting someone as tragic or inferior” and that the person in question was, in fact, me.

  16. andrea carla michaels says:

    yikes! fwiw, our original clue was simply “European beach warning?” which makes me laugh, but might have been deemed too risque!
    No mention of chubby in any of its meanings came from this end! ;)
    Pls do not let discussion get too derailed…obviously I would never have made remarks about people’s weight!
    And Amy, thanks for noting that there were 60 theme squares! We went for four 15s and I agree, a bit, on the partiality of needing “chance” in the snowball answer.

  17. Gary says:

    @Amy and @Jenni Levy:

    No, fat people are not funny, nor are they gross (well, some are, but not because they’re fat). The fat guys who choose to wear those tiny little Speedo suits on the other hand, are kinda funny and kinda gross. They may or may not be responsible for their weight, but they are responsible for their choice in swimwear.

  18. Amy Reynaldo says:

    But who are we to say who’s “allowed” to wear a Speedo or a bikini? If someone who weighs 350 lbs is more comfortable in that, it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. The world is too full of people passing judgment on other people’s bodies, whether they’re “too” skinny or “too” fat.

  19. sandirhodes says:

    Bottom line is that the definition of ‘perfect body’ is entirely subjective, and impossible to define. That it IS subjective is what creates discussion. I stopped worrying about it (in myself AND others) a long time ago. Some might call that ‘maturity.’ Whatever.

  20. Gary says:

    @Amy,

    I’m not trying to say who’s “allowed” to wear a Speedo, but since it’s a decision they make, they’ll have to live with the impression they make. What’s “funny” or “gross” is, pretty much by definition, a matter of opinion. I think we’re all best off if we don’t form our opinions of others based on what they don’t have control over, but I don’t see any problem with judging whether someone has made a funny/gross choice of swimwear.

    And, for clarification, 30 years ago, I was 25, 6′ 1″, 180 lbs and fairly muscular. At the time, I would have thought that I’d look kinda funny in one of those tiny Speedos (and maybe kinda gross).

  21. Tuning Spork says:

    the tragedy is the rampant obesity in this country, fueled in part by the fast food joints, who in reality are no better than drug dealers, and IMO need to be regulated.

    IMO, criminalizing the sale of certain foods is way off the mark. Anyone can eat a rich dish on occasion and be perfectly healthy. All things in moderation and all that. It’s the individual’s choice of diet that can cause him/her weight and nutritional issues, not the restaurant.

    It was pretty amusing to see the reaction to “Supersize Me”. So this guy ate nothing but McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner for, like, six months or something, and was shocked that he’d gained weight. No, eating like that is not healthy. But neither is eating nowhere but Grimaldi’s, Nathan’s or Dairy Queen for six months. Should we ban pizza, hot dogs and ice cream just so that some dang fool filmmaker doesn’t get the bright idea to eat nothing but?

  22. Deb Amlen says:

    @HH: That reminds me of one of Redd Foxx’s famous lines, uttered while he was holding a cigarette and a glass of bourbon: “All of those health fanatics are going to feel mighty silly, dying of nothing.”

  23. Tuning Spork says:

    Deb,
    That’s my new favorite quote. Thank you! I’m stealing it next New Year’s Eve. :-D

  24. sandirhodes says:

    The Supersize Me dude did much more than just gain weight. He was showing classic signs of addiction, including cravings, withdrawl and concentration problems … to the point of fearing for his health much more than from a few extra pounds. And I think it was only 30 days, wasn’t it?

  25. Alex says:

    The doctor also said that his liver had essentially turned into foie gras.

  26. Tuning Spork says:

    @sandirhodes

    Fat is natural, and exists for a reason. Fat is the stored energy that our bodies will need when there’s a scarcity of snacks. (Yay for yummy snacks!)

    “Classic signs of addiction”, “cravings”, “withdrawal symptoms”.

    Sandi, are you suggesting that you’d rather have a foolish and distant government tell you what to eat?

    I don’t think you feel that way. And a slice of jalapeno pepper pizza sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I’m buyin’! :-D

  27. John Haber says:

    I was rather hoping it would come out as “no leg to stand Ono” as a strange commentary on the Beatles’ breakup.

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