Thursday, 7/14/11

NYT 4:25 
Fireball 6:04 
LAT 6:19 (NLF) 
CS 9:10 (Sam–paper) 
Tausig 5:57(pannonica) 
BEQ 7:04 (MG) 

Oh! Did you look at T Campbell’s post last Saturday? I hadn’t, not until Matt Jones shared T’s webcomic on Facebook. The entire comic’s laid out like a crossword grid, and the answers in the small crossword that’s included are to be found in the corresponding spot of the comic grid. And! There’s a character named Amy who looks an awful lot like me, plus other crossword folks including Will Shortz, Brendan Quigley, Pat Merrell, Mike Shenk, Matt Gaffney, Tyler Hinman, Dan Feyer, Trip Payne, and Merl Reagle. Fun!

Brendan Quigley & Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 7 14 11 0714

Cute! Mind your P’S AND Q’S, which are to be found to the right and left of the black squares along the diagonal in the middle. The fill is remarkably smooth considering the constraint of having 17 answers ending with P (not counting the extraneous final P’s located elsewhere in the grid) and another 17 beginning with Q. It’s still just a 74-word grid, with space for 32 answers that are 6 to 9 letters long.

Highlights:

  • That BAD RAP, musical RECITALS (my cousin Heather is having a harp recital Saturday in my part of the city but I can’t go), SADISTS clued gently as [Crossword editors, some say], old-school PAPIST (can’t remember which book I picked up that word from—probably Leon Uris’s Trinity), PANACHE, slangy ‘TUDE, ACAI berries, PARQUET floor, typographical DROP CAP, and CROQUET.

There’s quite a bit of SPORTS stuff here, but nothing beyond my ken—TAPE UP, SPAR, the TROP, the ESPYS, not so bad.

4.5 stars. Crisp (QUISP!) and a good ride. Y’all work together well, Brendan and Ian.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “At the Cannibal’s Luncheon”

FB 7/14 answers

Have you ever noticed how many phrases combine body parts with food terms? Apparently Peter has: His theme serves up COLD FEET, TONGUE IN CHEEK (that one’s two variety meats and body parts in one—I have even been at a schmancy restaurant that served a Tongue in Cheek appetizer with beef cheek), KNUCKLE SANDWICH, BUTTER FINGERS, and EYE CANDY. Don’t they make eye candy? Of course they do. Squishy Gummy Eyeballs.

Nothing much leaps out and wows me in this grid. Stacked 8s are nice, but when one of the 8s is DNIESTER

Could’ve kicked myself for blanking on 8d, the [2011 John C. Reilly film]. I was trying to think of the movie he was in last year, rather than the one I just read a synopsis of earlier this evening. TERRI is about a high school teacher or guidance counselor (Reilly) who takes misfit kids under his wing, including a boy named Terri (yes, with an I).

3.75 stars.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

LA Times crossword answers, 7 14 11

LA Times crossword answers, 7 14 11

Prepare for a close encounter of the three letter kind – [You can find] a UFO [in the four longest puzzle answers, even if you don't believe].

  • 19a. [Continental alliance's intl. strategy] is E.U. FOREIGN POLICY - half of me says, “Well that looks arbitrary,” while the other half says, “Look at the cool initialism at the front!” All of me agrees that the beginning of this entry looks like EUROPEAN – I was off to a slow start.
  • 25a. [Treat thicker than the original] is a DOUBLE STUF OREO, but I prefer the originals. The entry is nice and creamy, though
  • 43a. [Toyota RAV4 competitor] is a SUBARU FORESTER - this product placement at least gives equal time to another brand.
  • 57a. [Complaint after a reluctant act] - “YOU FORCED MY HAND”, which is a nicely in-the-language phrase to end the set.

This hidden word theme is made better by the inclusion of an F, but the best part is the use of current phrases. I like a themed puzzle like this where the long entries could stand in a themeless puzzle.

As I mentioned, slow start in the NW corner. The longer, fun entries had clues that gave me the most trouble, like “SO TRUE”, “NO, REALLY” and GO EASY ON. The BARFLY/BLOTTO combo is a nice touch.

Some odd points:

  • 27a. [Swahili for "freedom"] – “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take UHURU!” (Star Trek/Braveheart crossover)
  • 6a. [Tarboosh : Arabic :: ___ : Turkish] – FEZ, not AGA
  • 38a. [Covered in goo] – GUNKY, not GUNGY

3.9 crop circles out of five from me. (And no abductions, thank goodness!)
Updated Thursday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Food Fight” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword solution, 7 14 11

I was so pleased with my paper solving time on yesterday’s puzzle that I decided to go the paper route again for today’s puzzle (well, it also has to do with the fact that I’m solving this at a coffee shop 2,200 miles from home, but that’s another story).  BIG mistake, as I crashed and burned with a solving time that resembles a hard Thursday instead of the steady Monday-Tuesday fare we see in the themed CrosSynergy puzzles constructed by anyone not named Klahn.

The theme is straightforward enough, though I’ve never heard of one of the expressions.  The three 15-letter theme entries are expressions in the form of verbed ONE’S food item:

  • 17-Across: One who has [Subdued somebody] has apparently SETTLED ONE’S HASH.  This is the one that’s entirely new to me and to the person I just asked right now as I was typing this paragraph.  Is it common outside of the Pacfic Northwest and the South?
  • 36-Across: One who has [Ruined somebody] has COOKED ONE’S GOOSE.  This one I have heard, and as theme entries go it’s terrific.
  • 55-Across: One who has [ Insulted somebody] has BUSTED ONE’S CHOPS.  This is the only theme entry that seems to me to have the “food fight” connotation.  The busting of chops sounds like a conflict, but the cooking of goose and the settling of hash seem to lack any inherent conflict, at least to my ear.

Portions of the grid fell rapidly enough, and I really liked KNEECAPS and Snoopy’s SOPWITH Camel.  But the whole southeast corner was my undoing.  I couldn’t make heads or tails out of [Friend's address], wondering more than once whether it was a reference to the television show that was missing quotation marks.  Eventually, I figured it had to refer to something else, but darned if I could figure out what that was.  My problems were compunded with the crossing [Charles Coles' nickname].  When you don’t know Charles Coles, the nickname is even harder to suss out.  Apparently his nickname was HONI (though RONI looked just as good to me), making the [Friend's address] THEE instead of a TREE.  That section just slayed me.  So between this corner and having no earthly clue about the first theme entry, I was doomed.  Oh well.  Better luck tomorrow, I hope.

Oh, and one final note:  Happy Birthday to my mother, who would have turned 86 today (and who would have come charging at me for revealing that).  She died a little over three years ago, just before my first ever ACPT.  Her death was not sudden or unexpected, so we had our chance to be together in her last days.  On the last day I saw her, I was solving the Sunday NYT at her bedside in preparation for the tournament.  She wasn’t especially coherent or talkative that day, but she knew what I was doing and she was wishing me good luck.  A son knows these things.  Anyway, I think she would be happy to know of the great community of friends I have found in the past three years through crosswording.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “The Little Things” — pannonica’s review

Tausig Ink Well "The Little Things" 71511 answers

–ling (noun suffix): 2: young, small or inferior one <duckling> (m-w.com)

Three long theme entries of fourteen and thirteen letters, each modifying an original two-word phrase by adding the suffix –ling to the first word and cluing the result.

  • 20a. [Show on which small birds vied in singing contests?] STARLING SEARCH. For those solvers too young or too old to have seen it in its heyday, the Ed McMahon Star Search was a 1980s precursor to American Idol. The clue gets it right by using the past tense ‘vied.’
  • 35a. [Delivery vehicle for Chinese restaurants?] DUMPLING TRUCK. This one was cute, but I think it would have been better for the clue to describe it as part of the gourmet food truck trend of the past few years.
  • 53a. [Cash in Moses's basket?] FOUNDLING MONEY.

All three of the themers were gratifying bits of wordplay, the images not overly outlandish. It doesn’t bother me at all that the –ling word created didn’t always have a different root than the original.

Can’t quite put my finger on it—dissective analysis of letter distribution, word lengths, CAP™ Quotient (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials), etc. doesn’t help—but there’s a wide-ranging synergistic satisfaction to the fill in this puzzle. One thing I noticed was that a number of kind-of-familiar answers were clued in novel contexts: SHHH as an [Admonition on a fishing trip] rather than a library or dinner table; ELECTRIC as [Like some cattle fences].  HOTELS cross-referencing USA TODAY as places where that [Famously light paper] is “often the only option” was brilliant, especially since it could have been tritely referenced to 51d [Places to get yourself clean, hang out with all the boys, etc.], YMCA. Speaking of which, have you seen this recent weather graphic from that newspaper?

Some awkwardness:

  • Seeing SHHH and HEHE (a lowlight entry clued as [Sardonic giggle] which I’d have thought could only be “heh-heh”) in succession in the northeast corner.
  • GET ANTSY as [Develop an itch, as it were]; doesn’t feel like enough of a lexical chunk.

Other highlights:

  • Sequential clues for 19d & 21d: [Have chips, e.g.] EAT and [Inedible chip maker] INTEL.
  • 58a [Dress down a bit] is a terse, elegant clue for CHIDE, with the bonus that it isn’t too far away in the grid from 38d [Last article stripped, maybe], THONG.
  • MADE A DENT abutting EGOS. Bruises, anyone?

Solid puzzle, 90th percentile.

nb: trilling (n.): a cyclic crystal twin consisting of three individual crystals. Also known as threeling; trill. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 2003)

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Urge Overkill”—Matt Gaffney’s review

BEQ 349 answers

First, let’s take a quick look at BEQ’s contest crossword from last Thursday: theme answers were BREAKING NEWSSCRATCHING POSTGRAFFITI BRIDGE and RHYMING SLANG.  The first words of the four theme entries comprise the four elements of HIP-HOP, making that musical genre the contest answer.  I entered but did not win.  See here for results from the man himself:

http://www.brendanemmettquigley.com/2011/07/crossword-349-urge-overkill.html

On to today’s puzzle: OK, I’ll be the first to admit that while I’ve heard of Urge Overkill, I couldn’t have told you anything about them.  So that may rate a few extra ticks on the dork-o-meter for me, but it didn’t stop Brendan from putting them (literally) three times in this grid.  The word KILL appears three times concealed in theme answers, with the word URGE directly over it.  BEQ’s done this sort of literal placement a couple of times before, though I can’t recall the exact puzzle(s) at the moment.  The execution is nice: UNSKILLED WORKERI THINK I’LL PASS and HARMON KILLEBREW are all solid or better, and RESURGEDSCOURGES and BURGER hide the keyword without stepping on each other’s etymology.

Fill standout: SOS PAD, ARKANSAS, the SE corner as a whole, US MAILSCIPIO and JAWS.  Cluing was also above average: [Famed Senator of the '50s] for the last theme entry fooled me (missed the capitalized S), and [White room?] for IGLOO took me ten seconds even though I had -GL–.  Took me 7:04 to finish the whole thing, which means it took Amy about 4:40. (Note from Amy: Uh, 5:49, actually.)

Thanks for the puzzle, BEQ, and have a killer Thursday, everyone!

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17 Responses to Thursday, 7/14/11

  1. john farmer says:

    Nice job, guys. An homage, perhaps. And timely: the ESPYs, live backstage.

  2. John E says:

    I was totally impressed by the Q diagonal – very nice work!

  3. Dave G. says:

    My fastest Thursday in a while – Passing Quietly into the night. This one came Pretty Quick. I’ve been on a Personal Quest to improve my Proficiency Quotient.

  4. Matt says:

    Once again, liked both NYT and FB a lot. ‘Macabre’ isn’t your normal crossword discriptor, but the FB qualifies. Eye candy! Yuck! And the NYT was real smooth, considering the constraints.

  5. John Haber says:

    I liked that a lot. I bet others, like me, were rooting for them to complete the diagonals.

    I didn’t know QUISP, but the hard corner for me was the NW owing to TUDE, ACAI, wavering between “you” and HER for the song, CHIN STRAP, the geography, and a few other things. My last square was the cross of CRIP (which I’d forgotten) and TROP, which I just didn’t know.

  6. ArtLvr says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed both the NYT and the Fireball … The former went swimmingly until i nearly couldn’t think of the last blank, the H in the HIP-HOP cross. Duh! And I found the 18A PALATE, Sense of taste, especially funny with Peter Gordon’s cannibal feast theme.

  7. joon says:

    sam, the THEE clue refers to the society of friends, i.e. quakers. very common tactic to hide the capital F in a clue for THEE or THOU. tough little corner, as i didn’t know HONI either except as the first word of the order of the garter’s latin motto. but what i really, really did not like about this puzzle was GOOK.

    the BEQ/IL puzzle was terrific. i caught the gimmick quite early, and that helped, but mostly, that’s just a gorgeous grid given the constraints. lovely stuff.

    i don’t know quite what to make of the fireball puzzle. KNUCKLE SANDWICH, BUTTERFINGERS, and EYE CANDY, sure—they combine a body part with a food. but i don’t really understand what COLD FEET or TONGUE IN CHEEK are doing in there. i mean, i guess TONGUE is a food, but it’s also a body part, and that’s nothing unusual either. we often talk about non-cannibalistic meat in terms of body parts (rib, breast, leg, shank, thigh…). not sure.

  8. *David* says:

    I’m not into speed but I enjoy seeing Sam’s times on the CS puzzles which seem to mirror mine within about 30 seconds, other then yesterday. It’s good to see us back in sync, I had the same problem area as he did.

  9. Howard B says:

    Great, great Times puzzle. Just lots of fun throughout.
    Although I’m sometimes not a fan of the Fireball clue style (first-name actor clues and less commercial film trivia, etc.), the theme just hit me right in the dark humor portion of my mind. The ‘eww’ factor of the theme overcame the ‘eww’ factor of the obscure (for me) Hollywood cluing. Nicely done there.

  10. pannonica says:

    joon: GOOK was unfortunate, but its awfulness was compounded by the nearby NIP.

    In the NYT at 38d I could not for the life of me resolve the problem of versal being one letter too short. I’m too embarrassed to admit just how long that held me up.

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    There would have been an easy fix in the CrosSynergy puzzle, too. Change GOOK to GOOP crossing TIPI. Not the zippiest answer, but guaranteed not to offend or jar solvers. If you ask me, constructors should 86 GOOK from their wordlists (just as the cabbage relative RAPE is presumably blocked). If the N-word had an innocuous alternative definition, you’d still never put it in a crossword, would you?

  12. Lois says:

    NYT – I thought at first that the diagonals were not completed, but they are perfect. Each one in the series of black diagonal squares is surrounded by a P and a Q, and the other squares in the diagonal rows of Ps and Qs after the black squares are not relevant.

  13. janie says:

    i dunno. COLDFEET made me laugh. ditto TONGUEINCHEEK. i realize there’s a difference between two-legged and four-legged animals and (usually) edible body parts, but think “pork products” — especially where those FEET and CHEEK items are concerned. more familiar w/ the term ARMCANDY rather than EYECANDY, but i’m not complainin’! ;-)

    and major bravos to ian and beq. that was one nifty puzzle. am wondering how the fill was accomplished. did each constructor work (primarily) with one side of the diagonal? regardless — take a bow, guys!

    ;-)

  14. Harry says:

    FYI, for those that don’t know, the “Crips” and the “Bloods” are two rival South L.A. gangs.

  15. john farmer says:

    So the theme in the Fireball this week is…cannibalism‽‽‽

    Hmm. I suppose that’s a first. I’m not a proponent of the so-called breakfast test, but I know some people like their puzzles to steer clear of anything even mildly icky. I’ve seen objections to words like NAZI, RAPE, SUICIDE, PIMP, to name a few. Yet a puzzle about people eating body parts…and not a peep.

    I guess we’re in new territory now. Maybe we’ll see ENEMA in Merl’s puzzle Sunday.

  16. Meem says:

    I hope not! Merl is much too classy.

  17. sandirhodes says:

    Question: If BEQ offers a link to a puzzle he authored, but it appears at a pay site to which I am not a member, is it ethical for me to download said puzzle?

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