Wednesday, 8/10/11

Onion 4:01 
NYT 3:17 
LAT 3:14 
CS 6:08 (Sam – paper) 

Liz Gorski’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 8 10 11 0810

Busy day today and busy morning tomorrow, so super-short blogging on this and the next two puzzles (if I can stay awake long enough to get through all three).

Theme is FIVE IRONS, with five theme answers beginning with “__ iron” words: STEAM ROOM, PIG LATIN, SCRAP PAPER, WAFFLE CONE, FLAT SODA. Fair enough.

Don’t like seeing WEEB Ewbank at 1-Across, as I know him only from puzzles—but he coached a New York team so it’s fair game for the NYT.

Dislike the clue for SOMBRERO: [A Mexican might sleep under it]. Too evocative of the pernicious “lazy Mexicans” stereotype and I’m surprised to see it clued this way. Suspect most Mexicans sleep indoors, in beds, not outdoors with a hat over their eyes.

LOVERBOY! “Turn Me Loose”! “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend”! Wait, what? It’s clued as [Beau] rather than the cheeseball ’80s band? Oh.

Don’t think I’ve ever once seen the name BREDA from 60-Across. Wish crosser BURL had been clued as [Small knot of wood] rather than the vaguer [Small knot], given the difficulty of getting BREDA. At least the similarly unknown MINGO (16a: [Iroquoian people]) had more straightforward crossings.

Like MRS. PEEL, BEST OF…, and the admittedly arbitrary THREE P.M.

Three stars.

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LAT crossword answers, 8 10 11

Here’s how the puzzle played out for me: Caught sight of the LARS clue (5a: [Danish director von Trier], filled in crossers LEVIN, ABAB (turned out to be ABAA), and SYL, then boom, the long 7-Down theme revealer RAIN CATS AND DOGS. So the rest of the puzzle went without a hitch since the circled CATs and DOGs had become obvious.

Toughest answer: AZOIC, or 37a: [Geologic age meaning "without life"]. It makes sense but it’s not a word that crops up often.

Best stuff: TO NO AVAIL, NINTENDO GAMEBOY, SNOOP DOGG, lovely OXBOWS, MUZAK, GMAIL, and the Dolly Parton shout-out JOLENE (21a: [1974 Dolly Parton chart-topper]).

Worst stuff: Plural RUDDS; suffix -ORAMA; repeaters AMIN, ENOLA, ALEE, ULEE.

3.75 stars. Neat theme with a vertical orientation and lively entries.

Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword answers, 8 11 11 Byron Walden

I like this puzzle, but it does serve to remind me that I miss the golden era when we’d get one of Byron’s themelesses each month in the NYT plus assorted NY Sun puzzles. (Sigh.)

The theme includes six phrases that start with synonyms for “brainy” and end with body parts. All are clued as [Brainiac's asset?]: BRIGHT EYES (the Conor Oberst band), LEARNED HAND (noted jurist and bearer of truly phenomenal eyebrows), SMART-ASS (have you looked in the mirror lately? are you or are you not a little bit of a smart-ass?), APT PUPIL (creepy movie), SHARP TONGUE (this guy?), and CLEVER DICK (a dictionary-grade phrase I’ve never encountered; is it mostly British?).

Yes, that’s right. DICK is a body part in this Onion puzzle. See also its crosser, PHALLIC (39d: [Cocky?]), and the STD THE CLAP (1d: [Gonorrhea]). Leaving the reproductive system for the digestive, we get EMETICS (12d: [They make people want to throw up]). Also in the Onion vein, DETRAIN gets a double-entendre clue (3d: [Get oneself off in the subway?]).

Great clue for woeful partial ATE NO: 15a: ["Lisa Bonet ___ basil" (lyric from Weird Al's palindromic "Bob")]. Overlong clue (aptly) for RUNS ON: 34d: [Keeps going longer than is technically really necessary and then begins to start to become awkward, as a sentence]. Like the 44d: [Lipton product] mislead; it’s not TEA BAGS but SOUP MIX.

Four and a third stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Suspended Animation” — Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution, August 10

Crossword veterans are used to seeing CEL clued with reference to animation. Today, Peterson plays with the association, telling us in 61-Down that CEL is a [Piece of animation "suspended" in the four longest answers].  That’s “suspended” as in “bridging the two words in each answer.” So it’s a dressed-up version of the hidden word gimmick:

  • 20-Across: The [DC Comics superhero team] is the JUSTICE LEAGUE of America, sometimes referred to simply as the “Justice League.” There was a time in my life when I was into comic book collecting. It always bugged me that the company was “DC Comics,” since loyal fans know that the “DC” stands for “Detective Comics.” So more formally it would be “Detective Comics Comics.” That’s just wrong wrong. But hey, we live in a world of ATM machines and PIN numbers, so I guess I can’t get too riled up.
  • 33-Across: A POLICE LINEUP certainly boasts an [Array of potential perps]. I like how the clue is jazzed up instead of something dull like [Array of suspects]. ”Perps” is such great jargon.
  • 41-Across: Part of an [Aspiring ballerina's training] would be DANCE LESSONS. Speaking of ballerinas, I finally saw Black Swan the other night. Natalie Portman is just awesome.  I don’t care if she did 20%, 50%, 80%, or 100% of the dance moves her character did, she acted the tar out of that role.
  • 57-Across: A [Prenup preparer, perhaps] is an alliterative label for a DIVORCE LAWYER. The lawyer in my divorce a few years ago was terrible.  (Edited to add: I represented myself.)

I spent probably 10% of my solving time just trying to unravel ONONDAGA, the [Iroquois tribe for which Syracuse's county is named]. Having the ON- in place, I made the (racist?) mistake of seeing the word “Iroquois” in the clue and writing down ONEIDAS without even reading the rest of the clue.  But that left me a square short. Too bad, too, because the D nicely fed into DIVORCE LAWYERS, so I was sure I had the right answer but the wrong spelling somehow. Once I found O’TOOLE as the ["Goodbye, Mr. Chips" star Peter], I had ONO- in place and was all kinds of confused. Finally, I just erased the whole column and, hey how about this, read the entire clue. Now I knew it likely wasn’t anything relating to the Oneida Nation, and my willingness to let it go freed me to get the word through crossings. I had to guess with the second “N,” because [Sun Yat-___] could have been anything to me. (It was SEN.)

The only other real trouble spot was in the terrific northwest. That vertical stack of TIP JAR, USA USA, and MENSCH is superb, but to get there I had to know the Italian word for “seven,” SETTE. The clue, however, tricked me.  [VII, in modern Rome] had me sure that the answer was just SEVEN, and not the Italian word for “seven.” Mio errore.

I liked [Bashful, e.g.] as the clue for DWARF, because I fell into the trap of thinking of an adjective synonymous with “shy.”  I like when I get fooled by the capitalization of the first word in a clue. Good thing, because it happens a lot.

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13 Responses to Wednesday, 8/10/11

  1. Martin says:

    Clever Dick certainly is not a “dictionary-grade” phrase in the UK, where it’s a very common expression.

    -MAS

  2. sbmanion says:

    Weeb Ewbank had a barely .500 record as a coach, but is remembered as the winning coach in two of the most famous games in football history. He coached the Baltimore Colts in their legendary 23-17 win over the New York Giants in the 1958 championship game, a game that ushered in the marriage between television and pro football and of course he coached the Joe Namath led Jets in their win in Super Bowl III, the first victory by the AFC team.

    One of the ironies (never proven) of the winning touchdown in the 1958 game was that the owner of the Colts (Carroll Rosenbloom) chose to go for the game-winning touchdown run by Alan Ameche rather than simply kick a field goal, which would have much more assuredly won the game, was that the point spread was 3 and one-half and he had a big bet on the Colts to cover. And of course gambling has played almost as big a part as television in establishing football as our pre-eminent sport.

    Steve

  3. David L says:

    I would just like to point out that the clue for RUNSON in the Onion puzzle, though long and unwieldy, is not in fact a run-on sentence, that would be one with a comma in place of a semicolon or period.

  4. Gareth says:

    CLEVERDICK is perfectly common around these parts too, but so are a lot of other phrases that puzzle Americans!

    Was held up in the NYT by a couple of stubborn missteps: FLATcOke rather than SODA. The former is used commonly enough here – always got that when I was sick and needed electrolytes! But not SODA – guess it’s a US thing. Also iBex for TBAR. Last letter DODGE/SIG intersect was a big “oooh!” moment. BURL/BREDA was indeed a slightly puzzling cross too! I know that TURNMELOOSE song, but never who sang it, thanks! My LOVERBOY kneejerk was Billy Ocean, still 80′s, still cheesy!

    Loved, loved the choice of entries in today’s LAT! Also very cute, visual theme! No idea about when I’m supposed to write OMN in an Rx!

  5. Tuning Spork says:

    BURL/BREDA and EMILE/MINGO were my undoing. A minute or so of playing letter roulette at both crossings simultaneously and I gave up on it. Never heard of Iroquois people being refered to as “Mingo”, and I don’t get that clue for EMILE. Is “Ratatouille” a gangster movie I’ve never heard of with a stoolie named Emile?

    EDIT: Ah, “Ratatouille” is a Disney movie from ’07 apparently about a ratatouille-making rat. I assume his name is Emile and he’s crossed paths with Ed Ames.

  6. John Haber says:

    I knew BREDA (from the painting, not from history), but EMILE / MINGO was just a lucky guess for me. (I knew it was a Disney movie but don’t have kids, so I never get all those cartoon answers, and I’ll try not to complain about their frequency.)

    After the gazillionth ABBA (ugh) and OLE fill, I’m beginning to wonder if bands will start tailoring their names to get free publicity from Will Shortz.

  7. joon says:

    loved byron’s puzzle—five stars. i got over my nostalgia last weekend when i solved his LP4 puzzle. but man, wouldn’t it be great to have a new byron themeless every few weeks?

  8. Jan (danjan) says:

    joon – indeed it would!

  9. sbmanion says:

    The star rat of Ratatouille is Remy. Emile is his fat brother who to put it delicately is gourmand to Remy’s gourmet.

    While there are many fabulous Pixar films, Ratatouille and Toy Story 2 are my favorites.

    Steve

  10. Karen says:

    Gareth, Coke/Soda/Pop are all regional variations on carbonated beverages. I believe that the south uses coke, the coasts use soda, and the midwest calls it pop.

    I was really surprised by Byron’s DICK. (In the puzzle.)

  11. joon says:

    karen, the regional variations are actually much finer and more surprising than just south vs midwest vs coasts. the data at the link seems to be pretty old, but i’m betting it hasn’t changed much.

  12. Jan (danjan) says:

    In other grocery news, I was at the IGA today and noticed the Nabisco rep putting all sorts of Oreos on the shelf. He told me that they introduced a new variety last week, so now there’s a new way to clue our favorite snack. I won’t spoil it here, but constructors take note!

  13. pannonica says:

    Great, so now there are, what?, 39 kinds of “Oreos”?

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