Wednesday, 11/30/11

Onion 4:30 
NYT 3:52 
LAT 3:31 
CS 5:36 (Sam) 

Rolf Hamburger’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 11 30 11 1130

First off, Rolf Hamburger is an awesome name.

The theme is “add a ONE”:

  • 18a. The Mod Squad turns into a MOONED SQUAD. Who doesn’t like buttock humor?
  • 23a. “My word!” becomes a MONEY WORD, or “word that appears on U.S. money.” Meh.
  • 40a. A humble stagecoach becomes STONE AGE COACH, splitting one word into two. I rather like that, [Athletic trainer for Neanderthals]. The people who follow the “paleo” diet and exercise regimen should absolutely work with Stone Age coaches.
  • 54a. The erstwhile L.A. Rams yield to L.A. RAMONES. Would like this better if (1) the Ramones weren’t so tied to NYC and (2) if the Rams hadn’t been a St. Louis team for so long now. St. Louis Ramones!
  • 60a. Gin rummy, solid. GONE IN RUMMY, I can’t remember the clue for. [Entered pie-eyed?]?? No, that doesn’t work for me.

Favorite clue: 52a: DYES are [Items in many lists of ingredients]. It’s terrible and true. I’m thinking of dropping Diet Coke entirely for Zevia cola and root beer, sweetened with natural noncaloric stevia and containing none of the artificial crap. The Zevia folks sell black cherry and grape sodapop and it’s clear. If there’s a Whole Foods near you and you want to avoid aspartame and sugar (but are a soda junkie), check it out. Zevia kindly adds caffeine where it belongs.

2.5 stars, mainly because the theme didn’t quite jell.

Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, 11 30 11 Byron Walden

By the numbers: Six theme answers, some of them stacked together. 16×15 grid, wider than standard. Numbers in all the theme clues. Rating, 3.5 stars.

The theme’s about celebrities whose marriages to other celebs didn’t last long:

  • 17a. LISA MARIE PRESLEY was [Mrs. Nicolas Cage, for 108 days]. Wasn’t it just that Nic was a big Elvis fan?
  • 20a. DREW BARRYMORE was [Mrs. Tom Green, for 163 days]. I forgot he existed.
  • 34a. DENNIS RODMAN was [Mr. Carmen Electra, for 9 days]. Hey, it was more than a week! There may have been people wagering that the marriage wouldn’t even last that long.
  • 41a. KENNY CHESNEY was [Mr. Renee Zellweger, for 225 days].
  • 52a. KIM KARDASHIAN was [Mrs. Kris Humphries, for 72 days].
  • 59a. 1920s screen idol RUDOLPH VALENTINO was [Mr. Jean Acker, for 6 hours]. Six hours! Never heard of Jean Acker, so I looked up the story: “Actress Jean Acker … was involved with actress Grace Darmond and Alla Nazimova. Acker got involved with Valentino in part to remove herself from the lesbian love triangle, quickly regretted the marriage, and locked Valentino out of their room on their wedding night. The couple separated soon after, the marriage never consummated.”

Big ups for the theme execution (including the gender parity) and for the slangy vibe in the fill. 39a: [How Salt-n-Pepa want you to push it] is REAL GOOD. Instead of 45a: STA being clued as an abbreviation for “station,” it’s a [Suffix with gang]. We’ve also got 64a: AIN’T ["___ no thang"].

Frowny faces and brain short-outs for the things I didn’t know or didn’t like:

  • 47a. [Novice bookkeeper, typically] clues NON-C.P.A. Um, is that thing? I’m thinking it ain’t no thang at all.
  • 49a. [Some notebooks] are I.B.M.’S? Really? Only if they predate 2005, when IBM sold its computer business to Lenovo. IBM is still a company, yes, but it’s hard to make it a plural.
  • 63a. [Crosshairs user, e.g.] is an AIMER who aims. When’s the last time you were an “aimer”?
  • 11d. [2006 T.I. film] is ATL. Missed hearing about this one completely.
  • 34d. DRY SPILLS are things? These [Accidents dealt with by whisk brooms] aren’t just adjective + noun?
  • 42d. [Beer, in British slang] is NECK OIL, apparently. Ick. That is one unsavory phrase.
  • 60d. [Former Jerusalem mayor ___ Lupolianski] is named URI. I am not up on my mayors outside of Chicago, New York, L.A., and sometimes D.C.

Favorite clues:

  • 9d. EVERYBODY is indeed [Word before "knows," "hurts," and "dance now," in various song titles]. All delightful songs, and an entertaining clue.
  • 53d. [Iconic cry for Captain Kirk] is “KHAN!” We would also have accepted KHA-A-A-AN.

David Poole’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 11 30 11

Short post—tired tonight, busy day tomorrow.

Hey, if you solve the puzzle on latimes.com and you have constructive criticism about the new applet the L.A. Times is using, leave it in a comment and I’ll pass it along. (I reckon you’re stuck with the ad.)

The theme is MONKEY / IN THE / MIDDLE, and there are four long theme entries with an APE in the middle:

  • 18a. [Early Mary Tyler Moore role] = LAURA PETRIE.
  • 54a. [She played Carla Tortelli on "Cheers"] = RHEA PERLMAN.
  • 3d. [She played Nicole Chapman on "Fame"] = NIA PEEPLES. By far, the least famous woman in this theme.
  • 28d. [1996 Madonna role] = EVITA PERON.

One fictional TV character, two actresses, and a real person clued as a movie character? Odd. Presumably the names are ale female because those are the names most likely to end in an A. Big trouble on the science-nerd front: Monkeys are smaller primates and apes are bigger primates, and the two are not, strictly speaking, synonymous. (Perhaps pannonica will fill us in on the taxonomical details.)

Five clues:

  • 4d. [Trivia game that involves bluffing] is MALARKY. Never heard of the game but love the word MALARK(e)Y and all its synonyms (scroll down here for a list of delicious synonyms).
  • 49d. It is time for CRTS, old [PC monitors], to vanish from crosswords. The Wikipedia entry for the cathode ray tube even has a section labeled “Demise.” Sure, they’re still selling CRT monitors in the developing world, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a TV or monitor for sale in the U.S. that isn’t a flat-screen.
  • 44a. ["Les Girls" actress Elg] is named TAINA. I know this only from crosswords, and that only rarely. Not a quality crossword entry.
  • 59a. [2009 Ruben Studdard album] is LOVE IS. I tried LOVING and then LOVERS.
  • 7d. [Fashion designer Michael] KORS… Is he still famous? Apparently yes. He’s a judge on Project Runway (never watched it) and Michelle Obama has worn his creations.

2.75 stars, downgraded for the APE/MONKEY discrepancy and some blah (ETON! NAES!) or clunky (TAINA!) fill.

Updated Wednesday morning:

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, November 30

Something’s Coming, and it’s not just a Dance at the Gym. It’s an homage to all the songs from the [Musical] WEST SIDE STORY that have one-word titles. (The puzzle’s title is a mash-up of two such songs.) 57-Across tells us that other one-word titles from West Side Story are [found at the start of the the three theme entries]. (Wait, isn’t WEST SIDE STORY a theme entry too? Or are “revealers” not really theme entries? I’m getting confused!) Here are the “the three theme entries:”

  • 20-Across: AMERICA ONLINE is the [Internet service provider that started in 1991]. I was a CompuServe guy in the early nineties, myself.
  • 37-Across: A COOL BREEZE is [Relief on a hot day]. Boy oh boy!
  • 43-Across: MARIA BELLO is the ["Prime Suspect" star]. Ah, Maria. I’ll never stop saying Maria.

Given that I’ve never seen West Side Story (blasphemy?), I Feel Pretty proud of my solving time. Even for someone as musically ignorant as me, there’s lots to like in this puzzle. We have JANITORS in a TETE-A-TETE over in the northeast, and there’s the EARTHWORM down in the southwest. I’m not entirely sure TAE-BO is still a [Popular exercise program]. Hasn’t P90X wrested away whatever hold tae-bo had as the exercise program du jour? My favorite clues were the consecutive clues at 12- and 13-Down: [Paindromic explosive] for T.N.T., and [Palindromic cheer] for YAY–I guess it doesn’t take much to amuse me.

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21 Responses to Wednesday, 11/30/11

  1. Tuning Spork says:

    A monkey is not an ape. I think I can prove that in any court.

    I’m rarely too critical when comes to crossword’s inherent artistic license. But, when it comes to reality, we must draw the line somewhere
    .

  2. Gareth says:

    Rolf Hamburger? I’m ashamed of myself, but I can’t help sniggering and imagining tender patties! I like this idea and STONEAGECOACH is a really cool changed answer. Kind of feel that there are several more clever final answers than just ONE though. OLEA is a gimme from first year Botany etc., but I don’t consider it an answer I’d like to see anytime soon… So what do these dyes do to you that’s so terrible? This whole natural goood artificial baad bleating is a pet peeve. Though I also avoid Aspartame like the plague, it has a horrible after taste! Always wondered why ELOISE was always a “Plaza moppet” and not an “absurdly melodramatic 60′s song”. Turns out this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHIAZUxlr8g wasn’t a hit Stateside.

  3. Gareth says:

    LAT: Curious. I’ve only known it as PIGGIE in the middle. Guess it’s a US/South Africa thing. Of course a Barbary ape isn’t an ape but a monkey (a macaque)…

  4. ArtLvr says:

    re NYT: My google isn’t working. Is 2D FAEROE a variant? I’d have thought Faroe first, but had APLOMB and (oom-) PAH, which tickled me. I didn’t mind MONEY WORD, but found GONE IN, RUMMY rather rum. Cute theme, though… Ditto with the LAT, even if the ESC-APE crossing EVITA PERON was a tad distracting. The tight construction using clever placement of MONKEY / IN THE / MIDDLE trumps the inexact relation to APE: much fun and worth a bit of monkeying around with real science, IMHO… As to the Onion, the pair stacking of long theme answers was very impressive too, though I had to work harder to get arcana like the ISHTAR career-ender. Cool Wednesday, overall!

  5. cyberdiva says:

    The CS puzzle perplexed me with the clue “‘Prime Suspect’ star.” I went to write in Helen Mirren and was stunned to find that it didn’t fit. When I finally got Maria Bello (mostly from the crossings), I wondered who in the world she is and what does she have to do with “Prime Suspect.” Had to google her to find out that there was an American version. Why would anyone make another version of such a terrific series as the British “Prime Suspect”? Oh well….

  6. Sam Donaldson says:

    @cyberdiva: The same could be said of “Coupling,” though I think the American version of “Till Death Us Do Part” held up well on its own.

  7. Daniel Myers says:

    ARTLVR, if you insist on google’s NOT correcting your spelling and click again on “Faeroe Islands” once the “Faroe islands” results pop up, you’ll get plenty of results. It seems that they were originally spelt “Færoe” with that antiquated dipthong falling by the wayside in most, but not all, spellings. I hope I, sort of, answered your question this time!

    Agreed, cyberdiva. I don’t even want to know about an American rip-off of Prime Suspect. It’s altogether too depressing.

  8. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks again, Dan Myers! When I said my google isn’t working I mean totally, because my iBook browser is said to be too old for recent upgrades. Things keep quitting — the latest was my yahoo/finance page — and I still don’t understand why I can post here but not at Rex’s, etc. Santa is supposed to be looking into a new Mac of some sort… fingers crossed! Any suggestions welcome.

  9. Jeff Chen says:

    Buttock humor, tee hee!

    And I’m supposed to be almost 40. Nuts on that!

    Sam, get thee to a Redbox – West Side Story is a fantastic. And I’m not usually one for musicals.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Nah, “West Side Story” is as silly as any other musical. “Hey, let’s stand on a romantic balcony together, full of yearning. And when the time comes where a long, deep kiss is inevitable, I will turn away and burst into song.” Really? You lost me.

  10. joon says:

    i used to have much the same attitude towards musicals. then it was pointed out to me that absolute verisimilitude is not really a desirable thing in one’s entertainment. for me, a musical is mostly about the music. (people who are into dance often find the choreography to be of interest also; i’m not really one of them, but i do think WSS has very snappy choreography.) in that regard, WSS is a fine musical, because the songs are good. the story is just a romeo & juliet rehash (and even R&J was probably trite before shakespeare did it). so that’s a legitimate strike against it. but dinging it for lack of realism is tantamount to, i dunno, complaining that harry potter or “bohemian rhapsody” or guernica isn’t realistic. sort of misses the point.

  11. janie says:

    on the subject of musicals and puzzles — i had the privilege of being in a regional production of (wss-lyricist) stephen sondheim’s a little night music that featured none other than TAINA elg as mme. armfeldt. what a treat to work with her! yep — there really is such a person!

    ;-)

  12. Anoa Bob says:

    Re CS: Amy, this is the second time recently that “West Side Story” has been a puzzle theme. How many other musicals have that distinction? The original stage musical was an adaptation of WS’s “Romeo and Juliet” (which I guess could be described as being as silly as any other Shakespeare play).

    The film version won ten, yep that’s right, ten Academy Awards for 1961, including Best Picture. Music was by Leonard Bernstein, who also did an album “Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story’”. The lyrics were by Stephen Sondheim, his debut. It was choreographed by Jerome Robbins. To write this off as being “as silly as any other musical” is to invite being seen as a philistine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

  13. *David* says:

    If you want to see a Jump the Shark moment watch the musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy which I had the true misfortune to watch most of. It may be the single most painful piece of television put onto primetime TV in recent memory.

  14. Daniel Myers says:

    Hmmmmm—I don’t know. I’m probably the only person on the planet not to have seen WSS, BUT there does seem to me to be a profound difference between the two statements:

    “Blah, I find WSS utterly lacking in verisimilitude!”

    and

    “Blah, I find Guernica utterly lacking in verisimilitude!”

    I suppose it has to do with the gravitas inherent in the subject of the painting. Does ANYBODY really take WSS as a serious statement on star-crossed love?

  15. pannonica says:

    (controversy:) Both Harry Potter and “Bohemian Rhapsody” are deplorable pastiches, whereas Guernica is original, truer than truth, and art (a term I never use lightly). West Side Story is a musical, a pretty good one at that, if you like that sort of thing. I appreciate musical theater—much as I do the Beats—for all the better things they’ve inspired, including parody.

    Primates: I would have thought it was common knowledge by now, same as the notion of humans and dinosaurs coexisting, that monkeys and apes are different. They are not, even loosely speaking, synonymous. It hasn’t anything to do with size (but that works for mice/rats and somewhat for rabbits/hares), but rather evolutionary history, anatomy, and so on. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as saying apes have tails and monkeys do. While no apes possess external tails, there are some monkeys that are tailless, such as the misleadingly named “Barbary ape,” a macaque from North Africa (and southern Spain). Among the primates that are neither monkey nor ape (prosimians and tarsiers), there are some that lack tails (e.g., lorises, agwantibo).

    One distinction between apes and all other primates is that they are capable of brachiation: locomotion by swinging their arms from hand to hand, underneath a branch or something similar. Think about that the next time you come across “monkey bars.”

  16. Daniel Myers says:

    On the “controversy” side, thanks for making the distinction clearer, pannonica. There are indeed two different sorts of lack of verisimilitude. One to which you can fairly say “blah,” dismissing it as trite and silly. The other – as you point out – transcends the notion of “true to life” as Guernica and, say, El Greco’s Toledo, both of which leave one in too much awe to say much of anything.

  17. pannonica says:

    “Art is the lie that tells the truth.” – Pablo Picasso

  18. Dan Mar says:

    I’m sometimes puzzled (no pun intended) by what Will accepts for theme puzzles. Adding “one” is somewhat clever, but what’s the “theme”? The word “one” is an answer, granted, but it’s not like “add a one” or “one plus” or something like that. It’s just the word “one” added to some familiar phrases, but what’s the point?

    Not trying to be too critical (or maybe I am) just trying to understand as an aspiring constructor what floats our editor’s boat

  19. pannonica says:

    Recent news re: AV theme: “Bangladesh bride disowns her ‘dowry demanding’ husband: A top human rights group in Bangladesh has praised a bride who disowned her husband within minutes of their wedding because he demanded a dowry.”

  20. HH says:

    “I’m sometimes puzzled (no pun intended) by what Will accepts for theme puzzles. Adding “one” is somewhat clever, but what’s the “theme”? The word “one” is an answer, granted, but it’s not like “add a one” or “one plus” or something like that. It’s just the word “one” added to some familiar phrases, but what’s the point?”

    @Dan Mar — the point is not to have a huge blank space on the puzzle page.

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