Tuesday, 2/7/12

Jonesin' 3:53 
NYT 3:36 
LAT 3:28 (Neville) 
Celebrity untimed 
CS untimed (Sam) 

Mike Buckley’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 2 7 12 0207

The theme is all VANITY, which can precede the first part of each theme answer:

  • 17a. MIRROR OF THE MIND is not a familiar-sounding phrase to me or my husband. As for vanity mirrors, apparently the term applies to many different sorts of mirrors.
  • 28a. CASEWORKER, that’s solid. Not sure what a vanity case is. Ah, it’s a cosmetic case or toiletry case.
  • 46a. PLATE GLASS connects us to vanity license plates.
  • 60a. FAIR-HAIRED CHILD, Vanity Fair. Your pick as to whether this V.F. is the magazine or the Thackeray novel.

I’m not fully sold on the theme thanks to the mystery phrase at 17a. I bet tons of you think I’m crazy not to recognize the phrase.

I wonder if Mike Buckley is from Baltimore—we’ve got an ORIOLE in one corner and CAMDEN (not clued with reference to Camden Yards).

Fill I like: BOGUS crossing BUM RAP; BUM RAP echoing the structure of a GIRDLE; THIN SKIN, Scrabbly GALAXIES, geographical ESTONIA/HAITI/ALABAMA/TONGA, and the SILENT H at the [Start of every hour?].

Surprised to find XEBEC (57a: [Three-masted sailing ship]) in our Tuesday puzzle. Gadzooks!

3.5 stars.

David Kahn’s Celebrity crossword, “TV Tuesday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 2 7 12 "TV Tuesday" Kahn

You may have heard that Reege finally decided to retire and that Kelly’s had a variety of “guest co-hosts” sitting with her as she hosts what’s now called LIVE! with Kelly. David Kahn’s puzzle pays tribute:

  • 16a. [2001-2011 on-air partner of 21-Across: 2 wds] is KELLY RIPA.
  • 21a. REGIS PHILBIN is your [Recent ABC morning TV retiree: 2 wds.].
  • 35a. [Former job for 21-Across: 3 wds.] is TALK SHOW HOST.
  • 41a. And then there’s KATHIE LEE [Gifford, 1985-2000 on-air partner of 21-Across: 2 wds.]. She’s on the last hour of the Today show with Hoda Kotb. (I don’t know how to pronounce that name.)

Reege’s other claim to fame is 34d: WHO ["___ Wants to Be a Millionaire" (show once emceed by 21-Across)].

Really smooth crossword, no?

Bruce Venzke & Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solution, 2 7 12

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solution, 2 7 12

Let’s hope you don’t end up as a POW – a [Mil. detainee who may reveal only the starts of the answers to the starred clues] – you’ll end up giving the following information:

  • 20a. [*Reason consumers purchase certain brands] – NAME RECOGNITION
  • 28a. [*Bumbling beginner] – RANK AMATEUR
  • 48a. [*Hookups for computer peripherals] – SERIAL PORTS
  • 54a. [*Financial analysts] – NUMBER CRUNCHERS

This puzzle was no ENIGMA, just a straightforward Tuesday puzzle with some interesting theme entries. Never thought I’d see serial ports in a crossword, but there you have it.

I DARE SAY there’s some good stuff in here. Have you still not seen SEMINAR on Broadway? It really is wonderful – check it out if you’re in New York for the ACPT. (I’ll be off seeing The Book of Mormon). It’s nice to see ENOLA GAY back together, as they’re usually separated in the grid, and a war-themed puzzle’s perfect for it. And watch out for a LATE TAG; that’s no good.

This is the most outright clue for STONERS I think I’ve seen in the LA Times – [Habitual pot smokers]. Is there a pro-pot agenda brewing? Of course SOBER [Clearheaded] is there to balance it out.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Triple Play” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, February 7

Each of the three 15-letter theme entries is a bogus phrase consisting of three words, and each of those words can precede the word “play,” making each theme entry a “triple play:”

  • 20-Across: To [Cease acquisition of the film rights to the life of Lamont Cranston?] is to END SHADOW OPTION, or, more properly, “let the option on the rights to produce a movie on The Shadow lapse.” The theme entry features an end play (the concluding stages of a game), a shadow play (the storytelling form in which puppet silhouettes are projected onto an opaque screen), and an option play (an American football tactic whereby a quarterback can choose either to run with the ball or make a lateral pass to a teammate who can then run with it).
  • 41-Across: To [Audition Mr. Ed hopefuls?] is to SCREEN HORSE ROLE, maybe short for either “screen for the role of a horse” or “screen horses for the available role.” That one features a screenplay (or maybe another football tactic, the “screen play”), horseplay (boisterous behavior), and roleplay (an excuse to wear that pizza delivery uniform).
  • 56-Across: To [Prevent actor Tyrone from starring in a movie?] is to SQUEEZE OUT POWER. At last, a theme entry that doesn’t need more words to make sense! It has a squeeze play from baseball (that link is to a news story of a squeeze play I saw in person), “outplay” (part of the Survivor slogan), and a power play (a tactic used in the workplace to gain status or power).

The phrases are just a little too contrived for my liking. Wacky mash-ups are fine, but ideally they have a ring of plausibility to them, as if they could be actual expressions. Only SQUEEZE OUT POWER has that element, I think. The first two sound more like they are spoken by Neanderthals (no offense to any Neanderthals or their descendants), and that’s another strike against them.

I spent a full minute trying to crack the northwest corner. The crossings of ROME, EBAN, and MARAT were brutal for me, even though I know I should remember EBAN as the answer to [Israeli statesman Abba]. The rest fell into place rather quickly. I liked some of the zippy fill, like Warren ZEVON, XENIA, Ohio, WIZARD and BLOWS. My favorite clue was [Speak up?] for PRAY. Sometimes it’s the little things are the biggest highlights.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “I Oh You One”

Jonesin' crossword answers, 2 7 12 "I Oh You One"

Matt “ohs” us big time, inserting an OH into four familiar phrases to change their meaning:

  • 17a. [Cameraman's question about which talk show star to film?] is BUT AT WHAT CO-HOST?
  • 35a. PAU GASOHOL is clued as [Spanish NBA player who explodes in a volatile fuel mix?].
  • 45a. [Menu phrase meaning "you can add pineapple to any item"?] clues ALOHA CARTE.
  • 61a. [Must decide which pitching feat to choose?] clues HAS A NO-HIT TO PICK.

I like it that two of the theme answers split the OH with a hyphen and two don’t. (I wouldn’t like it at all if it were a 3/1 imbalance.)

Nice to see ROBOCOP and BEE BALM in the puzzle (together again!). Not much else to excite me in the fill, and that good-looking middle chunk of white space is made possible by two partials.

3.33 stars.

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16 Responses to Tuesday, 2/7/12

  1. Alison says:

    Mirror of the Mind shows up in famous quotes, such as The face is the mirror of the mind(St. Jerome), or Speech is the mirror of the mind (Seneca).

    I really enjoy your blog.

  2. I was shocked to see STONERS clued as such in the LAT too; in their style sheet on Cruciverb, they specifically mention “blatant drug references” under the topic “Things to Avoid.” http://www.cruciverb.com/index.php?action=ezportal;sa=page;p=71

  3. ArtLvr says:

    NYT vanities – nicely done! LAT theme ditto, with a giggle for the clue “Uncommon, avis-wise.” And thanks for adding the link to the Celeb offering, though the format is annoyingly childish and I won’t bother with it in the future.

  4. Matt says:

    I didn’t get the NYT theme, but ‘vanity mirror’ seems OK to me– I did bathroom renovations last year, and got to learn all about vanitas vanitatum.

  5. Semper Fi says:

    Thought 29D in the CrosSynergy puzzle was inappropriate/disrespectful/glib.

  6. pannonica says:

    You’re offended that a reference was made to the fact that a ship was and is located somewhere? A ship that is now among the very top tourist attractions in the state?

  7. Gareth says:

    Wow! Uniformly Wednesday Tuesday for me! But (quite) fun! Simple enough theme, moderately interesting answers! Some toughies for me: CAMDEN, TOTIE (with an extra T its Afrikaans slang for a penis!), KEIR. Had ERITREA before ESTONIA, and BELCH before REACH. OK, neither you (Amy) or Rex had heard of a vanity case… Weird cos it’s perfectly familiar to me. I was going to accuse Rex of being utterly out of touch with feminine subjects… Now I’m bewildered.

    Cute LAT theme. Well-designed conservative grid, and yet… AGUA and ISUP seem utterly unneccessary and sloppy. @Aries: Me three. I’ve had to remove HOTBOX from a grid before… (There was an additional reason too.) I think the phrasing was key here.

    CS: No clue what was going on til got to the end! I’ve seen this done with just “Three plays” as the clues, this was better, though the answers were still rather inane. Faves: “Cloaca” [snigger], and two you mentioned: Zevon (“Send lawyers guns and money, the shit has hit the fan!”) and “Speak up?”

  8. HH says:

    “Thought 29D in the CrosSynergy puzzle was inappropriate/disrespectful/glib.”

    Damn — Someone was offended by something in a crossword and I had nothing to do with it.

  9. pannonica says:

    Gareth: Speaking of prurient TOTIE variants, “Top Totty Banned from Parliament Bar

  10. Gareth says:

    Here’s tottie in that context in the wild: http://www.blueworld.co.za/blogs/tottie-bmtotywa

  11. Daniel Myers says:

    “Vanity Fair. Your pick as to whether this V.F. is the magazine or the Thackeray novel.”

    Or, you may also pick the allegorical site whence Thackeray took the title for his novel: Vanity Fair in Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

  12. ArtLvr says:

    OH, boy! I just did the Jonesin’ and enjoyed that too.. Funny that the first two theme answers had an OHO and the last two were OHA and OHI. Guess the “Dove bar” was one long COOOO!

  13. Semper Fi says:

    pannonica, I was offended a bit by the shorthand reference to Arizona (it is the USS Arizona) but mainly by the “location” reference to what is a grave. I would be equally offended if some constructor were to clue Arlington National Cemetery as “JFK location” — capische? You don’t have to agree with me. I felt compelled to register my opinion. Regards.

  14. pannonica says:

    Don’t be silly. JFK is in Queens.

    Seriously now, I understand the analogy, but there are thousands upon thousands of people buried at Arlington, and John F. Kennedy (or must I call him President John F. Kennedy?) is not particularly famous for any events that occurred there. On the other hand, though I’m sure the USS Arizona had an illustrious career the world over, it is firmly and permanently associated with Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

    If you’re going to complain about the omission of “USS” (in the service of typical cruciverbal misdirection), then there are many other clues you may take issue with. Additionally, I can think of more than a few US ships that are commonly referred to without that prefix: remember the Maine? How about the Monitor and the Merrimack (later the CSS Virginia)?

    What if it had been something like “Grant’s location”? “Grant” and his “tomb” are decidedly entwined in the public imagination. (It’s located in upper Manhattan, by the way. Some might say it’s a tourist attraction.)

  15. Semper Fi says:

    Grant’s Tomb does not even come close to evoking the same feelings as Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination. The clue just rubbed me the wrong way. Leave it at that.

  16. jefe says:

    I don’t like how the middle two OH-added entries barely change the meaning of the sans-OH originals, while the other two OH additions completely change the original phrases.

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