Tuesday, 1/24/12

NYT 2:38 
Jonesin' untimed 
LAT 3:03 (Neville) 
CS 5:01 (Sam) 

Alex Boisvert’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 1 24 12 #0124

Our Tuesday NYT theme is a vowel progression one, with D*E filling its gap with A, E, I, O, U, and also Y The D*E word jumps around from middle to end to beginning, with each location represented twice so that the inconsistency has a consistency. In order to fit the six phrases into the grid, Alex stretched it to 16 squares wide instead of the usual 15.

DANIEL DAE KIM needs to be in another puzzle with Daniel Day-Lewis, doesn’t he? TWEEDLEDEE is pleased to be rid of Tweedledum today. Who doesn’t enjoy DIE-CAST CARS? MEET JOHN DOE is an old movie I know nothing about (but I bet there’s some amnesia involved). DUE PROCESS is a cornerstone of the American justice system, and the wearing of TIE-DYE SHIRTS is not sufficient cause to issue a search warrant.

I like the theme okay, but I’d be happier if TWEEDLEDEE were two words. In any event, it’s far more accomplished and logical than that vowel progression theme last August.

You know what’s nice? When you come at a 4-letter entry from the end and you have **UI, and you start to run the dreadful possibilities—ETUI, PTUI, PFUI—but it turns out to be MAUI.

I like the ICE-T clue, ["Cop Killer" singer who went on to play a cop on TV]. Speaking of musicians, nice shout-out to the Big Man at 65a: SAX is clued as the [Instrument for Clarence Clemons].

53d: ORTHO is clued as [Straight: Prefix]. I feel like switching from “hetero” to “ortho” for my sexual preference. Who’s with me? And what’s the opposite of “ortho”?

Fairly standard Tuesdayish content throughout, so not much else to report on here. Four stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Puh-leeze!”

Jonesin' crossword solution, "Puh-leeze!" 1 24 12

Just as you add an unstressed vowel (schwa) to “please” to make “puh-leeze,” you schwa up the joint to make each theme entry:

  • 17a. [Make those clumsy fools earn their living?] = WORK YOUR GALOOTS (glutes)
  • 31a. [Redundantly named undergarment?] = SUPPORTS BRA (sports)
  • 40a. [Hug in the shower?] = WATER CARESS (watercress)
  • 56a. [Practice for being forced into something?] = DURESS REHEARSAL (dress)

Any theme that manages to work in the word GALOOTS and the concepts of glutes and shower hugs is a winner, don’t you think?

Highlights:

  • 6a. COFFEE BAR, [Place to get a mocha and a paper]
  • 16a. PRICELINE, Captain Kirk’s travel website
  • 3d. DIRT NAP, [What the dead take, in a macabre phrase]. Yikes! I did not know this macabre phrase.
  • 32d. OH, WOW, ["I was not expecting it to be that good"]

Did you notice that 18 non-theme answers are 7 letters or longer? You get the goodies of a themeless puzzle plus a phonetic theme. Four stars from me.

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solution, 1 24 12

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solution, 1 24 12

I’m solving this puzzle in the middle of the day, but it seems I should’ve waited up for a late night challenge.

  • 17a. [*Artsy-sounding microbrew] – CRAFT BEER
  • 25a. [*Brains, informally] - GRAY MATTER
  • 47a. [*Officially restricted yet widely known information] – OPEN SECRET
  • 10d. [*Many "South Park" jokes] - TOILET HUMOR
  • 25d. [*Classic Greek ruse] – TROJAN HORSE
  • 64a. [*When night owls thrive, or where the last words of the starred answers can go] – AFTER DARK

There’s an asterisk in (at least the .puz version of) this puzzle’s meta-theme clue, but I don’t think it should be there. I’m not familiar with the phrase “dark dark.” We’ll call that a typo. I like you-can-add-a-word-before-or-after themes when there’s a nice entry that ties it all together (not just DARK sitting by its lonesome, say), so I enjoyed this one.

With six long theme entries, what else is there room for? I like ID CARD a lot, and though HAJJI looks nice with its double Js, I prefer the variant HADJI just because it’s the name of one of the characters on Jonny Quest (remember that show?). The long verticals – JEERED AT and EXPORTER don’t do anything for me, though the latter pairs nicely with EMBARGO. Favorite clue: [It's held underwater] for BREATH. Other than that, this puzzle seemed pretty standard – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Gem Dandy” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution, January 24

My challenge this week is to see if I can figure out the puzzle’s theme and the constructor without reading the title and byline until after I’m finished solving. Yesterday I nailed the theme and got the right constructor, but I only gave myself a half-point because I guessed two names.

Today I got only the theme. It would have been hard to miss, as all of the long Across entries clearly contain the name of a gemstone:

  • 16-Across: First up is the ["Cracklin' Rosie" singer], NEIL DIAMOND. “Sweet Caroline” is probably the most well-known Diamond tune, but I’ve always had a soft spot for “Forever in Blue Jeans.”
  • 26-Across: THE EMERALD CITY is the nickname for Seattle. It’s also the formal name for the [Oz metropolis] whose nickname, oddly enough, is “Seattle.”
  • 42-Across: BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is a [Bacardi brand of gin]. Don’t drink it, but I know about it.
  • 57-Across: The [Restaurant chain founded in 1972] is RUBY TUESDAY. I don’t think I have ever eaten at one, though I am familiar with the franchise. Their location map says the closest one to me is 146 miles away, so now I’m almost positive I’ve never been inside one. Are there any fans of the franchise out there?

My first guess for the constructor was Lynn Lempel, and I stuck with it even though there were warning signs telling me I might be wrong. What made it seem Lempel-lian, you (didn’t) ask? It was mostly the silky smooth fill. I really liked HAND ME DOWN, PAIN KILLER, and SWING SET, and yet there appear to be no compromises made to get those and other good entries to fit together comfortably. SYN, the [Prefix meaning "together"], was the only thing that stood out as being the slightest bit awkward, and since it was buried in the southwest corner, I thought Lynn might be okay with it. Looking back, she might have wanted something else for RE-DYE (clued here as [Try, as a new do hue]). But that’s a tricky corner–the only possible substitute I could find in a few seconds was HAD ME, and a partial wouldn’t necessarily be more attractive than a RE- word. (Not to mention that the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, is probably more obscure than Nellie BLY.)

But I should have sensed something was up with all of the clever clues. Lynn’s puzzles have great clues, too, of course–but this one really smacks of someone who regularly engages in trickery. There was [Bath room fixture?] for a LOO (clever in its own right, but especially since the clue [Bathroom fixtures] is also used for SINKS), [They pass the bucks] for ATMS, [Sty cry] and [Sty guys] for OINK and BOARS, respectively, and [They might be Grecian] for URNS. Then there’s the uber-hipness of ["Sesame Street" character who sang "Hot N Cold" with Katy Perry] as the clue for ELMO (remember the scandal?). This should have tipped me off that it would be someone like Patrick Blindauer. Oh well. I think Patrick won’t mind being mistaken for Lynn Lempel–I, for one, would consider it a great compliment.

While we’re on the subject of Patrick, regular CrosSynergy solvers will appreciate this little “behind-the-scenes” nugget: Patrick was one of the puzzlemakers for this year’s MIT Mystery Hunt. One of his puzzles was this Diagramless crossword. Patrick emailed it to me after the start of the hunt, saying I might enjoy it. It took me a long time (I’m not the best at Diagramless crosswords) but I finally got something that I think was mostly right. Still, I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with the words that were not in the grid. Can you? (Try it out, and if you get stumped like I did, click on the “Solution” link in the top right corner of the puzzle’s page.) Hint: there’s a reason Patrick would think to send me this puzzle, and I’ll tell you that once I saw the solution, I gleefully felt as though I had somehow been a pawn in a much larger game.

Okay, so my total is 2.5 out of 4 possible points so far. Let’s see if I can do better tomorrow!

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31 Responses to Tuesday, 1/24/12

  1. Deb Amlen says:

    I didn’t know you were orthosexual. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  2. pannonica says:

    Idio- ?

  3. Gareth says:

    Both dailies seemed to have cast-iron construction despite the large amount of theme acreage! Nice one!

    Jonesin: Support bra is a real thing so IMO that made up entry is more than iffy. Liked the themeless vibe this puzzle had. Tangled myself hopelessly in the bottom-right: wanted picADOR/OVER something for OBTRUSIVE and RPI!

    @Pannonica: doesn’t that mean private? A private-sexual? I won’t ask if you don’t tell???

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Idio- just means “self” so that’s not the right word. Opposite of ortho- might be dystrophi- ? out of shape, out of line, as in muscular dystrophy! Ugh. Anyway, I wanted a tin-plate before a die-cast, but that wasn’t going to fit, fortunately. Fun to see the “sometimes Y” included, with D maybe the only starting letter possible? And someone please elucidate the SEGA in Genesis in the Jonesin’ puz — or is this a non-Biblical pop group?

  5. pannonica says:

    Okay. Have done a minimum of snooping (I so miss a certain book from my work library) and came upon scoli-, Greek for “crooked” and probably most well known from (spinal) scoliosis. Scolisexuality, anyone?

    ArtLvr: Sega is a videogame company, like Atari or Nintendo. Genesis was one of its consoles.

  6. Jan (danjan) says:

    @Gareth – Knowing that support bra was a real thing tripped me up while solving, so I had a similar reaction.

  7. Daniel Myers says:

    σκολιό- would indeed be the opposite of όρθό-in Ancient Greek, Pannonica, though, of course, the actual words – not used as English prefixes – have that additional sigma on the end. Plenty of Scoliosexuals around in Ancient Greece anyway. I well remember the raised eyebrows amongst my fellow students when translating Euripides’ Hippolytus.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Clearly we need a Greek prefix meaning “curvy” rather than “crooked.” LGBT people aren’t crooked.

  9. Evad says:

    Interestingly, the common use of “queer” today for homosexual comes from the Latin torquēre, to twist. So if we aren’t crooked, are we twisted?

  10. Zulema says:

    ORTHO and SCOLIO refer to physical attributes. The opposite of ORTHO has been HETERO in the metaphysical realm, as in ORTHODOX and HETERODOX, meaning “correct opinion” and “Incorrect opinion.” That is why I have always seen it as a “conundrum” when HETERO is clued as “straight” in crosswords. “Opinion” is an early meaning of DOXA.

  11. Daniel Myers says:

    @Amy- Easy one, Sigmosexual from, ultimately, this: Σ

  12. J. T. Williams says:

    I don’t mean to hijack another comment thread, but I got behind a couple days on last week’s puzzle so I missed the relevant discussion. I’m going to Morgan Hill this weekend, which will be the first time I’ve ever competed in a crossword tournament, so I’m trying to prepare by doing puzzles on paper this week (hence the disastrous times!) Do any of you pros have advice for us lefthanded solvers? It seems like I lose a lot of time because my arm/hand is covering up the clues when I try to fill in the grid, so I constantly have to find my place over and over, and I can’t read the next clue while I’m writing in the answer to the current one. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

  13. ktd says:

    The ortho- geometry-meets-etymology debate got me thinking that I often come across the word orthogonal, but is there a word orthogon? The OED says that orthogon is a now-obsolete word referring to “a rectangular figure”, but in some older senses it could have meant a right triangle.

  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @J.T. Williams: I asked Silicon Valley Puzzle Fest co-director Emily Shem-Tov about this. Would it help you to have a second copy of each puzzle so you could use the extra one just for reading the clues?

  15. Jeffrey says:

    @JT – I am lefthanded and HATE how they don’t provide grids on the opposite side for us. A second copy never really works for me but it helps some. Otherwise, just practice with a lot of paper puzzles to find a groove.

  16. J. T. Williams says:

    Like Jeffrey said, it would of course help some, but I wasn’t so much asking for accommodations as I was asking about what the normal practice is. At home I’ve been printing on two pages so I have the grid on one and the clues on the other, but then I thought that it’s probably not the best idea to practice using a completely different system than what will be used at the competition. It definitely makes a huge difference when you have to cover up the clues to write!

  17. Daniel Myers says:

    @ktd–My OED’s entry on orthogon is very odd in that the three citations (from 1570-1653) do not use the word “orthogon” but rather the Latin “Orthogonium”—so when has it ever actually been used, one wonders? In any event, the definition given is “A right-angled triangle.”

  18. HH says:

    @JT & Jeffrey — How about solving in a mirror?

  19. Alex says:

    You know, I didn’t realize Tweedledee was only one word. That is a blight on the puzzle. I should have gone with KOOL MOE DEE, which would have been awesome.

    Also: no one pointed out that the six vowels themselves are in symmetric locations in the puzzle, so I’ll do that right here.

  20. Gareth says:

    Another leftie. I always attributed my much longer solving time on paper to just being less used to it though.

  21. Jeffrey says:

    I tried to get a lefties unite movement started to get reverse grids at the ACPT, but one of the former champions (I think it was Jon Delfin) noted that he was a lefty and seemed to manage ok.

  22. *David* says:

    I would join a “lefties unite” group just because of the scissors.

  23. Jeffrey says:

    David: Try Lefty’s.

  24. Jan (danjan) says:

    At the Killingworth tournament, I offered a second copy of the puzzles to the 2 lefties, as they do at the ACPT. Both declined, saying they have adapted to doing it from one page. So, if you’re at a tournament that is modeled after the ACPT, and they don’t offer a second one, it would be reasonable to ask.

  25. Jeff Chen says:

    Couldn’t you lefties just flip the sheet over and then solve right-to-left on top of a light table? Whine, whine, whine.

  26. pannonica says:

    Not one mention of orthography?

  27. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Not to mention its partner, orthoepy.

  28. Daniel Myers says:

    I put it down to a sort of verbal orthoselection.

  29. Tuning Spork says:

    Wow. Jon Delfin reads the clues covered by his left hand? I’d always figured he presumed the answers from the crossings.

  30. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks, pannonica! Videogames aren’t my thing, though we had one of the first Atari things with paddles or something… It just got thrown out the other day, but I wondered afterward if it should have been saved as for future antique museum? Too late! Sic transit minutiae mundi…

  31. Jeffrey says:

    How about a trophy for Top Lefthander?

Comments are closed.