Friday, 2/10/12

NYT 5:29 
LAT 4:12 
CS 4:31 (Sam) 
CHE 4:14 (pannonica) 
Celebrity untimed 
WSJ (Friday) 8:49 

Barry Silk and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 2 10 12 0210

So, when Brad teams up with Doug Peterson to make a Newsday puzzle, their byline is “Lars G. Doubleday” (an anagram of Douglas and Bradley). I want to make a portmanteau name for Barry and Brad. Brady Swilberk?

I had SPLIT instead of ALLOT at 22d, which made it really hard to tease out that POTHOLE (good lord, are there a lot of potholes every winter in Chicago). And the place to put your weather strip—I had *SPOT and could only think of G-SPOT. The T-SLOT sounds markedly less fun.

Highlights:

  • That I guessed ALEGAR off the L in old crosswordese HELOT. (My husband’s watching Spartacus: Vengeance and boy, is it over-the-top bloody. But Spartacus takes place in Rome, not Sparta, so a gladiatorial slave is no [Spartan toiler].) Alegar is basically vinegar made from ale instead of vino, as I understand it.
  • The Scrabbly JACQUARD LOOM. Plus DE RIGUEUR (can you ever spell that right the first time you try?), PARAMOUR, CHALKS UP, LOANER CAR,  SPHINX-LIKE.
  • The MAGIC BEANS from “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Not only did they grow like crazy, but the resulting beans didn’t cause gas. Magic!

Words that could have been clued in more transgressive ways include BLUNTS (the verb [Makes less edgy] won out over [Big marijuana joints made by emptying the tobacco from the cigarillos called Blunts]—and yes, I know that fake clue gives away the answer) and TRAMPS ([Walks heavily], the verb, rather than the noun). Good call on both counts.

Lots of fill lands in the “meh” class. There’s ACELA MOTA REN ADE STYES AAR TKO PFC ERAT, just looking at the downs.

My other “but this looks so right” wrong answer was 19d: [N.L. Central city]. Starts with C? Why, that’s my own CHI-town! Except that it’s CINcinnati. Boy, that GINKGO (does anyone not spell that as GINGKO first every time?) was hard to find when the crossings were giving me GH*K*O.

3.75 stars.

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 2 10 12 Lim

Julian’s theme is things that aren’t wearable clued as if they are accessories, based on their last parts:

  • 17a. [Fight fan's accessory?], BOXING RING.
  • 25a. [Preacher's accessory?], BIBLE BELT. Giant buckle on that.
  • 36a. [Conductor's accessory?], RAILROAD TIE. I was thinking symphony conductor, not train conductor.
  • 48a. [Donald Trump accessory?], FIRING PIN.
  • 58a. [Vampire's accessory?], NIGHT WATCH.

All right, but no great shakes.

A couple other accessories make an appearance in the fill—there’s a Special Forces BERET and the mysterious 1d: [Bonnets for Colonial Williamsburg reenactors], MOBCAPS. The dictionary tells me that the MOB part derives from mab, meaning slut or prostitute. The English language has been tough on women, I tell you.

While I like to see answers like MCRIB, DWEEB, VORTEX, TUPAC, and NEXT DOOR, I was surprised to run into both ERN (8d. [Cliff nester]) and ERSE (19a. [Skye writing]).

3.25 stars.

Frank Longo’s Celebrity crossword, “Sports Fan Friday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 2 10 12 Longo "Sports Fan Friday"

Last year, an NBA star went to court to change his name to one that promoted world peace:

  • 40a. RON ARTEST is the [Pre-2011 name of 1-/30-/54-Across: 2 wds.].
  • 1a/30a/54a. [With 30- and 54-Across, NBA star since 1999 who changed his name in 2011] clues METTA WORLD PEACE. No  ”3 wds.” tag here since each of the answer spaces contains a single word.
  • 9a. [NBA ___-Star (title for 1-/30-/54-Across in 2004] clues DEFENSIVE.
  • 21a. WALTER fills in the blank in [J. ___ Kennedy Citizenship Award (prize won by 1-/30-/54-Across in 2001)].
  • 38a. The PACERS are the [Team that 1-/30-/54-Across played for from 2002 to 2006].

There are assorted shorter answers that tie in to Artest/World Peace. He was an ALL-Star (9a) in 2004. His college team, St. JOHN’S University (37d), lost to OHIO State in 1999 during March Madness, allowing OSU to advance to the Final Four. World Peace’s LAKER (9d) teammates include PAU Gasol (29a), KOBE Bryant (6d), and, from 2009 to 2011, Lamar ODOM (35a). He gets a lot of steals PER game (44a).

You know where I get a lot of my familiarity with sports names? From crosswords. Although PAU Gasol’s first name is perfect for crosswords (two thirds vowels!), he hardly ever shows up. I’m not sure why that is.

Updated Friday morning:

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, February 10

Did all the Billys in this puzzle get your goat and make you gruff? Relax, it wasn’t that baaaad. Let’s troll through the puzzle and collect the theme entries:

  • 17-Across: OCEAN SPRAY is a [Fruit juice company], and Billy Ocean is the 1980′s singer who liked to lure women into his vehicle. Isn’t a spray of salty water in your face just about the least appealing metaphor for what is supposed to be a refreshing beverage? Sure, it beats Fan-Flung Manure brand chocolate milk, but that may be about it.
  • 61-Across: I know that my [Go-to-meeting clothes] are my SUNDAY BEST, but who’s this Billy Sunday? Never heard of him/her. Hold on, let me check. Okay, I’m back. Wikipedia says he was “an American athlete who, after being a popular outfielder in baseball’s National League during the 1880s, became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century.” An apt surname, then.
  • 10-Down: IDOL WORSHIP is both a [Violation of the second of the Ten Commandments] and what rocker Billy Idol receives from fans. I’ve always liked this song of his, even though some insist it’s euphemism for something else.
  • 25-Down: A CRYSTAL BALL is a [Psychic's prop], and Billy Crystal is the once-and-future host of the Academy Awards. I’m probably the only person looking forward to his hosting the Oscars, but still I would have preferred Eddie Murphy.

This might have been a darned-if-you-do-and-darned-if-you-don’t theme. I started to think I would have left Billy Sunday on the cutting room floor, but if the puzzle had only three theme entries I’d probably be carping about the lack of theme density. So I guess this is the right call.  It’s not a bad thing that I got to learn about someone I had never heard of before, and certainly SUNDAY BEST is a great entry.

Anyone else try MUSK OXES as the answer to [Tundra herd]? Of course it’s MUSK OXEN, a term that’s fun to write in a grid and even more fun to say aloud. There was MAMA CASS, the ["Dream a Little Dream of Me" singer], and CHEROKEE, the [Jeep SUV], to enliven things, but after that it’s mostly a parade of standard (though perfectly acceptable) fill. Of course, Inner Beavis loved the intersection of PROBE and ERECTOR. Heh heh heh.

Elizabeth Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “My Funny Valentine”

WSJ crossword solution, 2 10 12 "My Funny Valentine"

Terrific visual concept here: Liz interprets “My Funny Valentine” as a heart-shaped valentine made out of laughs, the HA rebus squares. I’m glad that Black Ink (a Mac-only solving program—ever since I upgraded to the Lion OS, I can’t stand using Across Lite on my iMac) didn’t recognize my HAs as correct, because now I have appropriately colored (red!) marks highlighting the rebus squares.

Did you notice that the grid has right/left symmetry rather than the standard rotational crossword symmetry? It makes sense when the visual part has left/right symmetry.

I will dock Liz a smidgen for 40d: [Turkish bigwig], 3 spaces, that’s AGA. It was only when trying to make sense out of SAM for 52a: [Complete fake] that I realized it was S{HA}M and AG{HA}, the 4-letter variant that isn’t even listed in one of my dictionaries (but I HAve seen it in plenty of crosswords).

The rebus popped out for me at 7d: [Kittenish Kitt], which clues EARTHA but there were only 5 squares. Working the crossings, I ended up with EART{HA}, reread the puzzle’s title, and figured it would be all HA rebuses. It took longer to suss out the visual pattern, the heart you get if you play connect-the-dots with the HAs.

Valentine’s Day-themed fill includes ROMANCER, SWEETIE, and LOVE. Didn’t love all of the fill, but (a) it’s a cute holiday puzzle and (b) I gotta run now. Four stars.

Jim Holland’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Title Transfers” — pannonica’s review

CHE crossword • 2/10/12 • "Title Transfers" • Holland • solution

The titles in question are those of novels, and the transfers in question are swaps of two adjacent letters in the last word of each title. Hence

  • 17a. [Novel about a feral child raised in a church?] TARZAN OF THE APSE (…Apes). Edgar Rice Burroguhs. Feral, yes, but with a certain nävete.
  • 27a. [Novel about an imperious recordkeeper?] LORD OF THE FILES (…Flies). William Goldnig.  Watch out for the hanging folders.
  • 49a. [Novel about an artist's college girlfriend?] THE DA VINCI COED (…Coed). Dan Brwon. I believe the official FiendCo stance on “co-ed” is well-established? NAOMI Wolf (43d) would probably raise her hackles.
  • 64a. [Novel about really difficult geometry?] THE KILLER ANGLES (…Angels). Michael Shaara. Beware. They’re acute, but deadly!

Fun theme, generates some chuckles. The ballast fill is smooth and varied, on the fresh side. Longer fill includes PLAYBILL, BEDMAKER, BAZAAR, and …uhm… OREGON.

Some other stuff:

  • Kind of felt that the SUN [Morning riser] lying atop TRIB [Chicago paper, briefly] should have been clued as the other big newspaper in that town. See also 36a [News writer's desire] BYLINE.
  • Also kind of wished 41a [Mother of Castor and Pollux] LEDA and 71a [Fully-grown cygnet] SWAN had been linked as well, since Jupiter (or Zeus) came to LEDA in the form of a SWAN. The offspring, Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces), known collectively as the Dioscuri, were twin sons of different fathers the former from Leda’s husband Tyndareus (or Tyndareos) and the latter from the god. Got that?
  • What’s Higher Education without a little CRIBbing? 25a [Plagiarize]. See also EDIFY, 19d [Offer instruction to].
  • A couple of notable clues: 2d [Fill with bullets] LOAD; the gun, before violence has been done. 72a [Focus of a management course?] ANGER.
  • Row 14: COVE OONA BOONE! COVE OONA BOONE!

All done. Good puzzle, nothing exceptional.

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10 Responses to Friday, 2/10/12

  1. ArtLvr says:

    If you race through a puzzle by Silk and Wilber, then your effort may lead you to see those authors as BIKER SWILL, to slake your thirst… Yes, I was sure I’d spelled GINKGO correctly, CHIMERA and CAROTENE too – but then had a hard time seeing the final gimmicky HARD G! Grrr!

  2. Howard B says:

    Another fine offering today.
    It’s de rigueur that when I encounter a French phrase in the puzzle, that I misspell it at least twice. SPHINX-LIKE was bizarre and oddly random, but I sorta liked that.
    Wonder how many will slip on the vowel at TRAMPS / JACQUARD?

  3. Karen says:

    Lots of missteps in the NYT for me…HUSKYS for AKITAS, VITAMIN A for CAROTENE, OUT for TKO, MONEY for MOOLA. I’m kind of glad my puzzle got erased and I had to start over.

  4. Matt says:

    Nice NYT puzzle– my big problem at the end was the HARDG entry at 8D. You’d think I’d have caught on to that sort of thing by now, but apparently not.

  5. Zulema says:

    What is STAC?

  6. animalheart says:

    Zulema, I think it’s supposed to be the abbreviation for staccato. I had real trouble in the SE. Never heard of JACQUARDLOOM, and the clue for COINOP was beyond the pale, I thought. I needed almost all of the letters before POLITICALDNA jumped out at me. Tough Friday. Am I the only one who thought that maybe YMA Sumac costarred with Tony (Curtis, I assume) in Taras Bulba?

  7. Meem says:

    Sam, maybe this will trigger an AHA:

    Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town.
    Chicago, Chicago, I’ll show you around.
    Bet your bottom dollar you’ll lose the blues in Chicago,
    The town that even Billy Sunday could not shut down . . .

  8. David says:

    I (heart) Elizabeth Gorski puzzles.

    David

  9. ArtLvr says:

    I’m glad I checked back to see the write-up of “My Funny Valentine” by Liz Gorski — a beaut! Super concept, superbly done — from the paired singers EARTHA and ARETHA at the top to ALOHA at the bottom. My (ha)t is doffed again…

  10. maikong says:

    Sam –

    Today age has its advantage – I remember, as a child, hearing about the fiery Billy Sunday and of course, I remember when Nixon gave the Chinese people a pair of musk oxen.

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