Wednesday, 8/24/11

NYT 5:50 (pannonica) 
LAT 5:38 (Jeffrey – paper) 
CS 6:45 (Sam) 
Onion 6:37 (Jeffrey – paper) 
Special early BEQ 10:02 (pannonica) 

Technical addendum from Amy, who indeed felt yesterday’s earthquake in Toronto but figured the CN Tower just sways sometimes when you’re standing on the glass floor looking down): If you’ve been having trouble accessing the NYT crossword .puz online, the standard link that points to each day’s file has changed. The new URL format runs like so:

http://select.nytimes.com/premium/xword/2011/08/24/Aug2411.puz

(You still need a subscription, I presume.)

Kelsey Blakley’s New York Times crossword – pannonica’s review

NYT crossword 8/24/11 • answers • 08 24 11

Five theme entries, each a common phrase that has been altered by affixing a single vowel—A, E, I, O, U, in sequence—to the beginning.

  • 17a. [Physical therapist's assignment?] ATROPHY CASE (trophy case). As might be found in a den, basement, or school hallway.
  • 24a. [Blackened seafood?] EBONY FISH (bony fish). Hmm, the smooth cluing engenders a perhaps transgressive connotation.
  • 36a. [Castaway's day in court?] ISLANDER TRIAL (slander trial). The original phrase seems a little—as Amy often says—“roll-your-own,” but I’m not well-versed in Law.
  • 49a. [Lure for Popeye's sweetie?] OLIVE BAIT (live bait). Come to think of it, Swee’Pea is somewhat vermicular.
  • 59a. [Choosing between pounds and kilos?] UNIT PICKING (nit picking). Surprise! My favorite of the bunch, perhaps because I’m inclined to nitpick.

Enjoyed the theme, and cottoning on to it relatively quickly allowed me to plunk in those initial vowels as an aid to solving. I appreciated that the altered, ‘wacky’ phrases have natural sounding clues.

A couple of missteps early on slowed me down:

  • CLAP, rather than PEAL, of thunder led me to guess that [Gossip, to an Aussie] was YABBLE instead of YABBER; Australian slang is invariably silly sounding to my ears. YABBLE seemed equally plausible.
  • [It may come in a blanket]. Three letters, ending in G? PIG, of course. Fell for this one hook, line and sinker. BeFOGged the center of the grid for a bit. Part of the fallout from this had me speculating that a [Kind of arrest] was CITIZEN(s) rather than CARDIAC.

Smooth fill, varied if not technically Scrabbly. Low CAP Quotient™. Corners include long vertical stacks: X-RAY LABS (which sounds a little forced), full-name MATA HARI, AIRBASES; ALEUTIAN instead of the more crossword-common ALEUT (not referenced to [Eskimo PIE]), LEAN ON MEORANGES.

Other observations:

  • How refreshing to see MAUNA in a grid! It appears so often in clues as [Mauna __ ], which leads to _ _A, either Loa or Kea; the latter receives the honor of appearing in a clue today.
  • WANTON is contranymal, which was a recent theme at A.Word.A.Day. Among other things, it can mean [Maliciously done] or “lively, playful.”
  • D.C. CAB is odd-looking but a fun 80% consonant entry. DCCAB. Looks like a messed-up rhyme scheme. Perhaps it makes a nice melody?

Michael Daems’ Los Angeles Times Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review

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LA Times crossword Aug 24 2011

Is this a debut? Congratulations, Michael, if it is!

Theme: FA…CE phrases

Theme answers:

  • 20A. [*Miss] – FAIL TO NOTICE
  • 28A. [*Simulated living room feature] – FAUX FIREPLACE. I have a gas fireplace in the living room that works on a thermostat. Does that qualify? The flames are real.
  • 45A. [*Feature of many Bee Gees songs] – FALSETTO VOICE.
  • 51A. [Headline that would shock the Internet community (or put another way, hint to the divided word in each of the answers to starred clues)] – FACEBOOK ENDS or FACE BOOKENDS. Internet community sounds odd. It means the same as “the entire world except for my in-laws”.

Other stuff:

  • 1A. [Cellar process] – AGING. I misread this as “cellular process” but it still made sense. My upcoming birthday has made me think about AGING.
  • 18A. [He caught Don's 1956 World Series perfect game] – YOGI. Larsen/Berra.
  • 23A. [Tolkien's Elrond, e.g.] – ELF. I put ENT and messed up that section for a long time.
  • 26A. [One way to pace] – FRO. Don’t bother me, I am pacing FRO at the moment. Please wait until I am pacing to.
  • 50A. [Some 12-yd. soccer shots] – PKS. Packages? Place kicks?
  • 56A. [Land of Rama I] – SIAM. I never knew Rama-lama-ding-dong came from The King and I.
  • 62A. [’Enry's greeting] – ’ELLO. ’Eres the thing. I t’ink t’ese are t’e most ’orrible clues in the w’ole of ’umanity.
  • 3D. [Garten of the Food Network] – INA. Who?
  • 5D. [Long-necked mammal] – GIRAFFE. Everyone loves a GIRAFFE. And a llama. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t llove a llama.
  • 6D. [Five-time Grammy winner James] – TAYLOR
  • 7D. [Playing a fifth qtr., say] – I NOT. I-NOT is very PC.
  • 8D. [Kid's building block] – LEGO. Do you know what I’ve never seen?  A LEGO eggo.
  • 9D. [Reinforced, as some dust bags] – TWIN PLY. Is dust bag a euphamism for toilet paper?
  • 11D. [Immigrant test taker's goal] – CITIZENSHIP
  • 12D. [Rocker Cooper] – ALICE. School’s out!
  • 21D. [Pupil's place] – IRIS. School’s in!
  • 25D. [Arbitrary allowance for error] – FUDGE FACTOR. Accountants know more about this than they will ever admit. How do you think we get those balance sheets to balance?
  • 42D. [Diffused through a membrane] – OSMOSED. That’s when you have been turned into a sibling of Donny and Marie.
  • 51D. [Domino's nickname] – FATS. Happy Days! I found my thrill…

Cute idea. Nice execution. No wow factor but not bad at all.

3 stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “I’m Beat!” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution, August 24

After staying up way too late last night watching a movie on my DVR, there couldn’t be a more appropriate crossword for me right now. Hartman finds four two-word entries where the last word can also be a synonym for “become weary:”

  • 20-Across: The [Product pitched by Bibendum] is a MICHELIN TIRE. Bibendum is perhaps better known as The Michelin Man. I just learned that the famous Michelin mascot is one of the world’s oldest trademarks, dating back to 1894. He’s put on some pounds but he still looks pretty young.
  • 35-Across: One ["Rush Hour" star] was CHRIS TUCKER. The other was Jackie Chan. All I remember from the film is Tucker’s great line to a group of bad guys after getting kicked suddenly and hard in the face, “Which one of y’all just kicked me?” I couldn’t find a good clip of it on YouTube, so you’ll have to settle for this clip from the old Arsenio Hall show instead.
  • 42-Across: A [Performance car feature] is DUAL EXHAUST.
  • 59-Across: METAL FATIGUE is [Structural damage caused by cyclic loading]. Not the snazziest entry, perhaps, but it certainly serves the theme.

Lest we get too wiped out, there’s some snappy fill and clues. JINX and PLINK stood out to me, and I also liked ELIJAH Wood, the [Frodo portrayer in "The Lord of the Rings"]. I like the clue for EYELASH, [Narrow margin], and [Flagpole sitting, once] is a fun clue for FAD. Geography buffs will no doubt like OSAKA, ANKARA, and SUMATRA.

Finally, the [Noted Walden Pond resident] is Henry David THOREAU. He’s the cousin of Henry David Ketch.

Francis Heaney’s Onion AV Club Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review

Theme: We’re sinking!

Theme answers:

  • 17A. [Aerosol cans near open flames, e.g.] – FIRE [WATER] HAZARDS
  • 25A. [You might call one in a crisis] – HOT [WATER] LINE
  • 32A. [Big piece of artillery] – HEAVY [WATER] CANNON
  • 41A. [Where acrophobes prefer to be] – GROUND [WATER] LEVEL
  • 48A. [Back pain sufferer's choice] – HARD [WATER] BED
  • 60A. [Need bailing, or what five entries in this puzzle can do to make two overlapping words or phrases] –TAKE IN “WATER”

I didn’t figure out the theme until the reveal. It is a clever twist on the add-a-word variety.

Other stuff:
5A. [Flasher at a disco?] – STROBE
11A. [Undercover outfit?] – PJS
16A. [Bolt down some nuts?] – EAT. Francis is a genius at fun new clues of the same old words.
27A. [The "Barry Trotter" books, et al.] – PARODIES. Obviously, a “Star Wars” parody.
47A. [Actress who accidentally flashed her breast augmentation scar to paparazzi] – TARA REID. Find your own link. What kind of a place do you think this is?
62A. [Adam Yauch's nom de hip-hop] – MCA. You could have said “three random letters” and it wouldn’t have changed anything for me.
64A. ["Star Trek" villain played by Eric Bana] – NERO. That would be the most recent movie, not any of the other movies, TV shows, video games, action figures…
65A. [Still] – YET/66A. [Still] – AT REST. Lionel Richie: I do love you at rest.
67A. [Unappetizingly pureed food] – GLOP. I tried SLOP.
3D. [Over-50 org.] – AARP. I am eligible for membership in a year and three days. Wait, what?
4D. [Woodstock practice] – FREE LOVE. Find your own link. What kind of a place do you think this is?
7D. [He played Hal in "Green Lantern"] – RYAN. The Hal Jordan version.
11D. [Like a teacher who lets you curse] – PERMISSIVE. I wanted “fired”.
26D. ["Miuzi Weighs a ___" (Public Enemy song)] – TON. Somehow not on my Ipod.
29D. [Headgear for George W. Bush, at times] – RANGERS HAT. He is a big New York Rangers fan.
39D. [Famed bridal gown designer] – VERA WANG. Less famous is Vera Wans (see slop)
42D. [Present an approximation of, on "Cops"] – RE-ENACT. Whatcha gonna do?
43D. [Cop show that claimed "the story you are about to see is true"] – DRAGNET. So more re-enactments?
44D. [Legal drama set in the same city as 43-Down] – LA LAW
61D. [Word often missing an apostrophe] – IT’S.

A fun solve. 4 stars.

Brendan Quigley’s crossword no. 361, “‘Themeless Wednesday’” – pannonica’s review

BEQ #361 (#131 in a series) • 8/24/11 answers

Arriving a day before its DUE DATE (57a) is the second BEQ puzzle of the week.  As Brendan explains in his blog, this isn’t a themeless puzzle at all. It’s a special announcement: IT’S A GIRL! (1a)

One of the HEROINEs (14d) of the 16×15 puzzle is the newest member of the Quigley clan, TABITHA (9a). The other, of course, is mom Liz. Oh, what the heck. Brendan can be an honorary heroine too.

Wish I could say that I solved it in 8:23, to reflect the birth date, but alas. October 2nd has to be somebody’s birthday anyway, right?

In context, so much of the fill can be seen to comment on the new circumstances of the Quigley household. It’s bound to be subjective, so aside from a couple of exceptions below I’ll leave it to you to decide which ones are appropriate. Speaking of context, as this is a BEQ offering it inevitably contains some subversion and raunch, despite the inviolable occasion. I will have the delicacy and/or tact to refrain from identifying them.

Some clues and fill:

  • IO MOTHS. Interesting, and refreshingly odd-looking in the grid.
  • [Topic sentences?] is a gnomic clue that leads to MNEMONICS.
  • O. HENRY is famous for his stories with unexpected denouements, so he could be described as a [Twister?].
  • [Time to take cover, maybe?] TEN PM. Say goodbye to that luxury, mister!
  • A keen lover might make you KEEL OVER.
  • Something satisfying—perhaps the repeated vowels?—about TWEET and SNOOD as symmetrical partners.
  • Lovely to see Lee KRASNER out from the shadow of Jackson Pollack.

Last, the final across entry, SORENESS, birthday-suitably reminds me of Steven Wright’s quip: “When I was a baby, I kept a diary. Recently, I was rereading it. It said, ‘Day 1: Still tired from the move. Day 2: Everybody talks to me like I’m an idiot.’”

Congratulations, Liz and Brendan and Tabitha!

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22 Responses to Wednesday, 8/24/11

  1. bob stigger says:

    SLANDER TRIAL does seem a bit arbitrary, but I suspect there aren’t a whole lot of good choices to add an I to and dump in the center of the grid. The only thing that comes to mind is ISLAM DUNK, which isn’t long enough for a centerpiece. Bob

  2. Duke says:

    I had “apiaries” as the home for drones. Slowed me down for a moment.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    re AV — You tried Slop for GLOP, I tried Goop! Loved the Onion gimmick, well done! (Well-water and water-done, after fracking?) Favorite phrase in the LAT: FUDGE FACTOR! I got the whole thing, except the theme of FA and CE bookends… And I liked the NYT too — congrats to Kelsey on the smooth debut! A Y-word as bonus eludes me, but I won’t let that niggle at me…

  4. Matt M. says:

    I know and like the author of the Barry Trotter books and was thrilled to see the shout-out…

  5. Zulema says:

    Couldn’t figure out the FOG but it had to be right. A blanket of FOG.

  6. Gareth says:

    Jeffrey: Even an awkward llama?

  7. AV says:

    @pannonica: October 2 birthdays – Gandhi and me! thanks for the shout-out! :-)

    y theme answer: Yearned Income? Yearning Power?

  8. pannonica says:

    Groucho Marx, too. But he undoubtedly wouldn’t want to be identified as a member of such a club.

    edit: Oh, I thought you discovered the ‘secret’ message.

  9. Jeffrey says:

    Yegg roll

  10. bob stigger says:

    Your Town? Yeast Indies? Yeager Beaver? Yalta Vista?

  11. Karen says:

    LAT 23A should have been HALFELF but that didn’t fit in the grid. /nerd rant

  12. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Misread “vermicular” as “vernacular” at first…

    Hey, I was in Toronto too! Didn’t feel a thing. Was at the Fields Institute, though, not the CN tower.

    Neat idea re DCCAB, but http://www.themefinder.org comes up empty unless you allow those notes in the middle of a phrase, and even then it doesn’t come up with any well-known tunes. (Then again its repertoire isn’t that extensive.) Seems like a missed oppoertunity for the movie’s soundtrack composer/compiler!

  13. E says:

    Uh, in the LA Times puzzle, it’s not I-NOT. It’s “IN OT”–get it?

  14. Matt Gaffney says:

    Noam, you really should travel more. It’s a big world out there and I worry about you and your provincial Cambridge existence.

  15. Jan says:

    In LAT, I had 45A (falsetto voice) and 28A (faux fireplace) before I tackled 20A, so I naturally thought the answer started with “fake”. Took me a long time to fix that one!

    BTW, PK means “penalty kick”.

  16. Aaron Brandes says:

    While solving the BEQ I was thinking I don’t remember ever twisting an OHENRY candy bar.
    Congrats to Brendan and Liz. Welcome Tabitha.

  17. James Schooler says:

    I too congratulate Brendan and Liz upon the arrival of Tabiltha!

  18. Chris MTA says:

    In LAT, PK is a soccer Penalty Kick.

  19. Jeffrey says:

    Thanks for the correction E!

  20. Mike in Arlington says:

    George W. Bush roots for the Texas Rangers (which he used to own), not the New York Rangers.

  21. pannonica says:

    Poor Jeffrey, his jokes are doomed to be misunderstood. I can empathize, but can’t sympathize overmuch, as he brings it upon himself willingly.

  22. Jeffrey says:

    Sigh. I may need a disclaimer than all of my posts include 3 wrong facts in an attempt to be numerous.

Comments are closed.