Tuesday, 11/15/11

Jonesin' 3:29 
NYT 3:25 
LAT  4:04 (Neville) 
CS 4:25 (Sam) 

Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 11 15 11 1115

Gareth’s theme is FISHERMEN, and each of the four full names in the grid ends with a fish. You’ve got ZEBULON PIKE of Pike’s Peak fame. Actor ALDO RAY of crossword fame. Singer LANCE BASS of I-want-to-be-an-astronaut fame. And JULIAN BREAM of, apparently, [Classical guitarist with four Grammys] fame. My guitar-playing husband has not heard of Mr. Bream. (He also doesn’t know Aldo Ray, but that just means he hasn’t done enough crossword puzzles.) I guess Bream is more famous than Walter Trout, Shusha Guppy, Furuichi Koi, and soap actress Lynn Herring (whom I have heard of).

Anyway, pike, ray, bass, and bream are all kinds of fish. I know bream mostly from crosswords, believe it or not.

I burned my eyeballs this afternoon solving 16 crosswords (for work! I swear!) on a monitor that’s not my beloved iMac. It may also have left me a tad uninterested in thinking about crosswords tonight. Let’s see…what have we got here? Nobody much fishes from PT BOATS. Rather more crosswordese bits than I’d have liked to see—you’ve got your OGEE and AGUE, TET and LOA, SSS and TASS. Two of those would’ve been plenty. Don’t much like KART without a GO- before it (and I’ll bet Gareth clued this with reference to Mario Kart, a Nintendo racing spinoff of the Super Mario franchise). Although some would call it a blight, I kind of like the three guys with the same basic name in the southeast corner of the puzzle. JUAN, Lil JON, and YANNI are all essentially named “John.” The contrast between Yanni and Lil Jon is pretty sweet, too.

3.5 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “There Goes the Bride”

Jonesin' crossword answers: "There Goes the Bride" 11 15 11

“Here comes the bride, all dressed in white…—hey, where’d she go? She was just here a minute ago.” Matt’s inspiration for this puzzle is, of course, news last week(ish) that Kim Kardashian is divorcing Kris Humphries after just 72 days. The media rights to televise the wedding sold for so many millions of bucks that she raked in about $10,000 per hour of marriage. If you’re married, find out how many Kardashians (a unit of time equal to 72 days) your union has lasted with the Kardashian Calculator. My sweetie and are have passed the 100-Kardashian mark already.

Besides KIM KARDASHIAN, the theme also includes BRITNEY SPEARS, whose shortest marriage endured for over two (but less than three) days, and CARMEN ELECTRA, whose state of matrimony with Dennis Rodman lasted 9 days. All three relationships were 3d: DOOMED.

The sparse theme content leaves wiggle room for those two 5×6 corner sections and a bunch of 7- to 9-letter answers. Well, ten of them. I’m partial to the ZIT CREAM (19d: [Spot-removing agent]) and RIDICULE.

3.75 stars.

Pam Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 11 15 11

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 11 15 11

  • 20a. [On-the-go morning snack] – BREAKFAST BAR
  • 37a. [Cash for a sandwich] – LUNCH MONEY
  • 43a. [Waiter's handout] – DINNER MENU
  • 57a. [Familiarly, nutritious trio found twice in this puzzle] -THREE SQUARES

And in three of the corners, we see square MEALs. That’s a cute way to bring some life into a basic theme. Since the three standard meals are clued obviously, the theme itself wasn’t much of a surprise.

I understand the need to have short entries in the corners of this puzzle to facilitate easy of construction around the MEALs – particularly the ‘meh’ SAM’L. But some of the entries in this puzzle seem uninspired. We have both ARS and ARTES – how is this not a repeater? I thought we’d have CAPE instead of the Spanish CAPA, but I guess matador is both English and Spanish. RENTE, a French finance term, isn’t stunning, either. ALAR - ick.

Now let’s see about the stunning non-theme entries. ONE CLAM, though somewhat arbitrary, is pretty neat.  I hate to say it, but no fill entry in this puzzle really jumps out at me as astounding. It is just a Tuesday… but I’d like to have some more fun outside of the theme. There was a cute mini-theme with both Frances GUMM [Judy Garland's birth name] and TOTO.

How about the clues? [Story spanning decades] – SAGA. I was thinking more along the lines of a soap opera at first. Fans and detractors alike might not have wanted ALASKAN immediately for [Sarah Palin, notably]. (Is she still in the news? Why?) And that’s about it for me. It’s a Tuesday puzzle – nothing too special,  but the visual element still perks it up for me. 3.8 scoops of ice cream for dessert.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Ending Will Bug You” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, November 15

Here’s a theme that will make you all bug-eyed. Each of the four theme entries is a phrase ending with a word that can precede “bug:”

  • 17-Across: The [First choice] is the PICK OF THE LITTER, and a litter bug is a polluter. If you had the pick of the litterbugs, you’d almost have to choose the one who tosses the least amount of garbage, right?
  • 27-Across: The [Mother's Day presentation] is BREAKFAST IN BED, and a bed bug is a Dracula-like parasite that wants to suck your blood. In fact, “blood” would be the most likely breakfast in a bed bug. (Sorry, but the gag requires that we wander into the Land of Repulsion.)
  • 45-Across: CHARIOTS OF FIRE is the [1981 film that won four Oscars], including Best Picture, and a fire bug is an arsonist. The chariots of fire bugs are probably Pontiac Firebirds painted fire engine red. Fire! Fire! Fire!
  • 56-Across: You’re once, twice, THREE TIMES A LADY. So says the [Chart-topper by The Commodores]. I think we all know a ladybug, but what would be three times a ladybug? A horsefly?

Nice patch of white squares in the grid’s midsection, and I’m really digging both the FAT LIP and IN THE BAG over there on the right. The entire fill is super-smooth, and we even get a MILANO, the [Pepperidge Farm sandwich  cookie], for a treat. That’s the second best Milano you could ask for!

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19 Responses to Tuesday, 11/15/11

  1. Jeff M. says:

    Ogee -> Coe -> Cesario = no bueno

    Didn’t really derive much pleasure out of this one…

  2. Erik says:

    I guess SALMON P. CHASE didn’t quite fit the theme.

  3. john farmer says:

    Darn. I don’t get to solve any crosswords for work. Must ask my boss about that tomorrow.

  4. Tuning Spork says:

    Never heard of JULIAN BREAM, LIL JON or the bloke they both cross, Nick HORNBY. So those last two squares took a long game of letter roulette to solve.

    SID BREAM was a talented Pittsburgh Pirate back when they were the Mets’ pennant rivals in the late ’80s. And then there was the multi-talented CHICO SALMON who was with the Orioles when they faced the Mets in the ’69 World Series. KEVIN BASS was with the Astros who faced the Mets in the ’86 NLCS while STEVE TROUT was pitching for the Cubs.

    The Mets have faced alot of fishy ballplayers over the years.

  5. Gareth says:

    My kart clue was: “Boy racer’s vehicle?” It seems that that idiom isn’t known in the US…

  6. ArtLvr says:

    Maybe it’s just the lateness of the hour, but I don’t see why the LAT at 57A says the THREE SQUARES (i.e. MEALs) are “found twice” in the puzzle? Aren’t they emphasized by circle clusters 3 times? Or are we looking for hidden anagrams like the square MALE you can see in the SW corner (first two letters of EMIR plus first two letters of LAZE… Plus 2 MALEs in an L shape twice, once starting with the first M in GUMM, moving west 3 and south 1, plus the other moving north up the 3 central letters of ALAMO and then 1 west. Or am I just over-anagrammed this week? Was anyone amazed at the speed of the anagram solver on Jeopardy the other night? WOW.

  7. pannonica says:

    Julian Bream was the most gimme-est of the themers for me. He’s well-known as a classical guitarist, just a step below the monumental Andrés Segovia, who is so notable because he was the 20th century’s greatest popularizer of the instrument. Bream’s only contemporary of similar stature is John Williams (not that one), with the younger Christopher Parkening somewhere in the mix.

    A particular favorite of mine is Bream’s recording(s) of Spanish composers Enrique Granados and Isaac Albéniz, most especially Granados’ achingly beautiful Valses Poéticos; it’s almost unbelievable* that they were written for piano because they feel so natural on guitar.

    *Until you hear a piano version, by say Alicia de Larrocha, and then that seems perfect too.

  8. pannonica says:

    I’ll add Jackson Pollock, Ken Loach, and Theodore Sturgeon

    In a digressionary vein, there are John dory, Jack Dempsey, and Dolly Varden.

  9. Matt says:

    And, of course, Kilgore Trout.

  10. Tuning Spork says:

    And Sarah Barracuda.

    Okay, that’s a nickname.

  11. Howard B says:

    I know Segovia, but Bream (both the guitarist and the lil’ fishy) were unfamiliar to me. I have seen BREAM in a puzzle but did not remember it. I’m very naive in both areas, it seems. If I hadn’t finally gotten around to reading “High Fidelity” just this year, the cross between BREAM and HORNBY would have been vicious for a Tuesday, requiring an educated consonant guess.

    It’s a lively puzzle, other than that letter. Fun scrabbliness, with Lil’ Jon (because crunk and the Times puzzle are such perfect partners), adding to a nice variety of fill and clues.

  12. pannonica says:

    Tuning Spork: She also isn’t a fisherman. If the puzzle were co-ed, we could speculate about Margaret Whiting and some others.

  13. pannonica says:

    ArtLvr: My interpretation is that the three squares are not each found twice in the puzzle, but rather in two forms. Once as components of the (three) themers, and a second time literally as three meals in square formation. Hence twice.

  14. Jeffrey says:

    Perhaps my worst Tuesday time ever. Too many unknowns to me.

  15. Martin says:

    Pannonica.

    We don’t know that Julian Bream is a fisherman either. I have it confirmed by good authority that the reveal is “Fish — er — men.”

  16. John Haber says:

    My only complaint would be KART without a Go-. While I didn’t know JON, I had enough crossings. For some reason, neither BREAM nor HORNBY were gimmes for me as they should have been, especially with “High Fidelity” and one’s not having a better known living classical guitarist, but once I had a few crossings they came right away. But if the clue had required me to know Sid Bream, I’d have been really annoyed.

  17. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Two great, as yet unmentioned guitarists: John Williams and Elliott Fisk (sp?) The John Williams recording of the huge guitar concerto by the Cuban composer Leo Brauer is pretty much the Horowitz Rach 3 of guitar playing. A extraordinary piece, and extraordinary playing. I may have to dodge missiles thrown by purists, but in my view Segovia has been thoroughly eclipsed by his later colleagues; but musicians owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for what he did for the guitar as a serious instrument.

    Bruce

  18. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Actually there are several (Brouwer guitar concertos). I will have to remind myself which one I am especially blown away by.

    Bruce

  19. pannonica says:

    (I did mention John Williams.)

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