Tuesday, 2/14/12

Jonesin' 3:56 
NYT 3:36 
LAT 3:28 (Neville) 
CS 4:58 (Sam) 
Celebrity untimed 

Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 2 14 12 0214

I can’t say I’d been waiting to see the crosswordese/Latin conjugation “Amo, amas, amat” featured in a theme, but here it is. SANTA MONICA, ALABAMA SLAMMERS (pluralized to make it a 15), and SERTA MATTRESSES (pluralized and maybe no more “in the language” than HOOVER VACUUMS or OSTER BLENDERS) are hiding 64a: AMO, AMASAMAT where the words meet. If you’re a fan of crosswordese repurposed for a grander crossword role, this theme’s for you. 39a and 42a give you the LATIN LOVER who would be conjugating the Latin verb “to love,” though one wonders why he or she doesn’t just stick with the first person.

The clue for 64a, [Classical trio found inside 18-, 28- and 49-Across], had me skimming the theme answers for hidden composers, but there was no BACH in evidence.

I wonder how much of the fill has Latin roots. In the upper right corner, OVID/DECI-/ERAT jumps out at me.

The TROJANS (47d: [Paris and Hector, e.g.] make me think of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and the “pocket full of horses.” Other good fill includes “SPARE ME,” NINE P.M. bedtime, “DARN IT,” and “PSHAW.”

I’m surprised we don’t see REESE clued more often as actress Witherspoon, who has received a number of awards including the Oscar and has been in hit movies. What’s with all these NYT Terminator clues referencing a character named Kyle Reese? I have no idea who that’s supposed to be, and I saw the movie. Say what? Michael Biehn’s character had a name we’re supposed to recall? Huh. And Pee Wee Reese retired from baseball in the 1950s. Such guy things, and they’re hogging up the REESE clues.

Three stars.

Bruce Venzke’s Celebrity crossword, “TV Tuesday”

Celebrity crossword answers, 2 14 12 "TV Tuesday" Venzke

Simple theme, though not everyone knows the names of the people who create reality TV shows.

  • 18a. [Host of 32-Across: 2 wds.] is DONALD TRUMP. Still waiting for him to figure out that the precariously engineered comb-over isn’t fooling anyone or making him look handsome.
  • 32a. THE APPRENTICE has been an [NBC reality show since 2004: 2 wds.].
  • 44a. [Creator of 32-Across: 2 wds.] is MARK BURNETT. He’s most famous for creating Survivor.

Wait! What’s MARC, ["Ugly Betty" character St. James], doing in the same puzzle as a guy named MARK? Just noticed that. Is that a tough crossing MARC’s C appearing in ACER, [Maker of Aspire and Extensa computers]? Man, I remember the crosswords of yore (1970s-’80s) in which ACER was clued as the genus for maple trees.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “TRAS-Mutation” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, February 14

How many words can you make with the letters T, R, A, and S? This puzzle gives us four, each becoming the first word of a longer entry:

  • 20-Across: [College knowledge] is an interesting clue for ARTS AND SCIENCES. I know the term as a synonym for the liberal arts branch of a university, not as a term standing for the cumulative university academic experience. Am I reading the clue incorrectly?
  • 34-Across: He was the [Titled Vasilyevich, 1533 to 1584], but you may know him better as the TSAR IVAN. By definition, I suppose, this entry is terrible.
  • 45-Across: One description for a [Dirty, messy place] is a RAT’S NEST. The other, according to my students, is “my office.”
  • 55-Across: STAR TREK: VOYAGER is the [TV series set in the 24th century]. I didn’t care for it too much at the time, but now I wish it had been little more famous. Some of the characters would make great crossword fill: KES, TUVOK, and NEELIX could all be helpful, but I’m afraid they might be just a little too obscure. All I really remember from the show is Seven of Nine, played by the as-talented-as-she-is-beautiful Jeri Ryan. She turns 44 eight days from now, so let’s be the first to wish her Happy Birthday! Why were all the talented people born in February of 1968?

Throw an H and E into the mix and you’d have an apt puzzle for Valentines Day. But I kind of like how this puzzle eschews the obvious theme choice for today and sticks with something a little more traditional. The closest we get to a V-D reference is KISSERS, the [Mugs] near the grid’s equator.

I thought even more highly of the fill–SWAN DIVE, STEP ON IT, X AND Y, USE UP, BLEW IT, and SNARF are all terrific. My favorite clue was [Part of 1/3] for SLASH.

Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 2 14 12

Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle solutions, 2 14 12

Woo! Who knew you could do so much with just one vowel sound?

  • 20a. [Dismiss an occult doll-making practice?] - POOH-POOH VOODOO
  • 32a. ["What's that chocolate beverage you're drinking, Yogi?" answer] – “YOO-HOO, BOO-BOO”
  • 42a. [Model train expert?] - CHOO-CHOO GURU
  • 56a. [Frilly Hawaiian dress?] – FROU-FROU MUUMUU

A little bit of Romeo and Juliet in this puzzle in the clues for ACT I and CAPULET. We’ve got names in the upper-left with EVA PERON and NAPOLEON. An episode of “Chopped” I watched over the weekend informed me that making a Napoleon, a [Layered pastry] is just Dessert Making 101. Could Mike Nothnagel confirm this? It still looked pretty tricky to me/

Look at all of the two-word phrases in this puzzle: IN TOUCH, SINGS TO, FILL-INS, LOG ONTOOLE OLE and WE LOST. That’s an awful lot of two-parters, and I think they look nice in the grid. On the other hand… OROS, OTOS, EBRO, HOCH, NEET, E’EN, and more; these I’m not a fan of. This doesn’t seem like a good trade-off to me.

Favorite clue: the simple [Tip on a table] for GRATUITY. I’m keen on simplicity.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “So They Say”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 2 14 12 "So They Say"

I skipped reading the clue for the theme revealer at 36a, so I was left looking at all five theme answers and trying to tease out a unifying factor—and it wasn’t working. (Thanks to pannonica for explaining it to me.)

  • 36a. [Motto for the four long across answers] is WHAT COMES AROUND. The other answers have the letters in WHAT bracketing their middles. But wait. “What goes around comes around” is the saying, and “What goes around…” is the shorthand version. Who says “What comes around”?
  • 17a. [The Pequod, for one] is a WHALING BOAT. I had WHALING SHIP at first, but that would need a CRACK THAT WHIP theme revealer.
  • 25a. [Phrase heard close to dinnertime] is WHEN DO WE EAT?
  • 47a. [It can follow "Party people in the house!"] clues WHERE Y’ALL AT? I like this.
  • 57a. [Grape that makes a golden-hued dessert wine] is the WHITE MUSCAT. I didn’t know “white” was part of the grape’s name but oh my word, do I like me some Moscato dessert wine.

Highlights: CHALUPA! BLOOD LUST! THE MASONS! Right there, we’ve got the makings of an action movie. STAYED PUT is also a good answer, but it doesn’t go with my movie treatment.

pannonica also tipped me off to WHAT COMES AROUND’s “round” portion crossing the R in RATT, clued as the ["Round and Round" hair metal band]. Not sure I would have noticed that on my own. In editing a Celebrity puzzle last night, I did knowingly ignore the existence of the word “who” in a theme clue when WHO was also in the grid. Kinda hard to work around that one when the theme clue is a person and they’re clued as someone who did something. Didn’t want to torture the clue into “Singer known for recording blah-blah” shape. So when you see that one next month, you know WHO to blame.

3.25 stars. The theme revealer feels broken to me.

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15 Responses to Tuesday, 2/14/12

  1. janie says:

    aw, i thought this one was durned near an A-PLUS — a sweet ‘n’ smart valentine, what with I DO and HON in the mix. hey — even some safe-sex TROJANS……..

    this one left me w/ a big ol’ SMILE!

    ;-)

  2. ktd says:

    Funny, I had a puzzle rejected recently by Will Shortz on the grounds of “bad fill” including (but not limited to) SOCO, the common shorthand for Southern Comfort, which I had clued as “Alabama Slammer ingredient”. Guess I haven’t quite figured out the boundaries of alcohol-related entries.

  3. Gareth says:

    NYT: I only noticed the extra tie-in LATINLOVER was part of the theme after the fact: I’d say that’s a real masterstroke! Quite a number of lively answers for a 62-word theme too!

    P.S.: I’d much rather see ACER clued as a maple, which is at least real, than a “flawless server”, which is NOT.

  4. pannonica says:

    CS: There are six TRAS permutations in the puzzle. The first and last across answers are TARS and SRTA.

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @ktd: I think the problem there was the unfamiliarity of the SOCO shorthand. I’ve never seen it before and the clue wouldn’t quite explain to me what the answer meant unless I Googled SOCO.

  6. Matt M. says:

    I’m not sure why the first couple of raters dinged the LAT so much … I thought it was a really enjoyable theme that made up for any non-sterling fill.

  7. pannonica says:

    Maybe they were cuckoo?

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Why is {Relative of Wednesday} a clue for “FESTER?” (Karen Tracey puz.)

    Bruce

  9. Jeffrey says:

    Wednesday and Fester are members of the Addams Family.

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Thanks–I know about Fester (Adams) but not Wednesday. Shoulda guessed.

    Bruce

  11. Martin says:

    Amy,

    Sometimes we forget that this is the New York Times crossword. While there is no effective way to prevent non-New Yorkers from solving it, why should it cater to interlopers?

    Pee Wee Reese is a retired baseball player like Abraham Lincoln is a dead lawyer. And the less said about Reese Witherspoon the better.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Martin, you did NOT just compare Abraham Lincoln and some dead baseball player, did you? You know, not everyone cares about baseball and it has no importance at all in many people’s lives. My dad and mom didn’t care for baseball so the only place I’ve ever heard of Pee Wee Reese is in crosswords. Sure had no idea he had any connection to New York.

  13. Martin says:

    Brooklyn Dodger fans have long memories. Ebbets Field, 1955 World Series, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider. None of those ring a bell? Maybe some of the losing team: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto.

    Every one of those Hall of Famers (from a single game!) is crossword-worthy. Sheesh. And no fan of Dem Bums would consider trading Reese for Lincoln.

    Seriously though, there are bound to be domains of knowledge in a NYT puzzle that are lacunae for every solver. But in the world of NY baseball, Pee Wee Reese is a basic. And I just happen to hate Reese Witherspoon with the irrationality of a phobia. Sort of like Ally McBeal to some.

  14. pannonica says:

    I wonder if the original name for those candies was Reese’s Pee-Wees.

  15. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I thought the Dodgers were an L.A. team.

Comments are closed.