Wednesday, 3/14/12

NYT 4:22 
LAT 3:34 (Jeffrey -paper) 
CS 4:22 (Sam) 
Onion untimed 
Celebrity untimed 

Dave Sarpola’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 3 14 12 0314

Boy, I had a hard time parsing the revealer answer at the bottom of the grid. I had Magnum, P.I. on the mind and saw it as P.I. DAY instead of PI (the Greek letter) DAY. I also had decided that HUNG JURY and Singin’ John ASHCROFT were theme answers, but no. THREE-TOED, POINT SPREAD (which made me think longingly of the apricot/goat cheese spread in my fridge), ONE-MAN SHOWS, FOUR SCORE = 3.14, roughly. And Wednesday is March (3) 14th, so there you have it. None of the math nerds in my Facebook feeds jumped the gun on this with advance notice that Pi Day was upon us, so the theme took me by surprise (even though it’s not the first Pi Day theme we’ve seen, right?).

Favorite clue: NESS is a [Lake of cryptozoological interest] to people who think the Loch Ness monster is real. Favorite clue/answer combo: MONARCHS, [Kansas City ___, Negro Leagues team with Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks]. Favorite answer: PSYCH UP, which has some odd letter combos.

Good puzzle. Felt like a Thursday to me, but that could be the medication talking. Four stars.

Steve Blais’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Wed Mar 14 2012

Theme: S-U-I-T hidden across three otherwise unrelated theme answers

Theme answers:

  • 20A. [Standard of comparison] – MEASURING STICK
  • 31A. [Like some kitchen cabinets] – CUSTOM BUILT
  • 40A. [Govt. workers concerned with returns] – IRS AUDITORS. Shout out to my American colleagues.
  • 53A. [It includes a vest ... and what can be found in each set of circles in the long answers] – THREE- PIECE SUIT

Not much of a theme. You will forget it by tomorrow. It doesn’t help that each theme answer has extra S, U, I and/or T’s.

Other stuff:

  • 1A. [Diamond-studded tooth caps, e.g.] – BLING. Not your typical 1-Across clue.
  • 6A. ["High Voltage" band] – AC/DC
  • 25A. [Saved to watch later] – TIVOED. So this is a verb now?
  • 36A. [__ close to schedule] – ONOR. Why not use ['Igh card in bridge] – ‘ONOR? After all, we’ve got:
  • 37A. ['Enry's 'ouse] – ‘OME. I have previously noted my dislike for this.
  • 5D. ["I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it" speaker] – GROUCHO
  • 11D. [13th/14th-century globetrotter] – MARCO POLO. He was know as “Meadowlark“.
  • 12D. [One whose workplace is all abuzz] – BEEKEEPER. Ulee by name.

**½ stars.

Frank Longo’s Celebrity crossword, “Wayback Wednesday”

Celebrity crossword answers, 3 14 12 "Wayback Wednesday" Longo

Remember the little old guy chomping on a cigar? Four long answers and assorted bonus answers pay tribute to him:

  • 18a. GEORGE BURNS, [Star of vaudeville, radio, TV, and film who celebrated his 100th birthday in 1996: 2 wds.]
  • 28a. EIGHTEEN, ["I Wish I Was ___ Again" (1980 hit country song for 18-Across)]
  • 35a. SUNSHINE, ["The ___Boys" (1975 Oscar film for 18-Across)]
  • 42a. GRACIE ALLEN, [Wife and longtime comedy partner of 18-Across: 2 wds.]. “Say good night, Gracie.”
  • 15a. “OH, GOD,” [1977 comedy film with two sequels, starring 18-Across as the Almighty: 2 wds.]
  • 37a. KID, ["Just You and Me, ___" (1979 comedy film starring 18-Across and Brooke Shields)]
  • 54a. CIGAR, [18-Across was often seen smoking one]
  • 36d. HEARTS, ["Sgt. Pepper's Lonely ___ Club Band" (1978 musical film in which 18-Across played Mr. Kite)]
  • 49d. HOW, ["___ to Live to Be 100 - Or More" (1983 book by 18-Across)]

Now that is a lot of thematic material for a puzzle this size.

There’s some mystery meat in this puzzle, 9d: RIB STEAK, [Flavorful beef cut marbled with fat: 2 wds.]. I confess I have never heard of rib steak. It’s a real thing, yes, but beef and I have had a lengthy estrangement.

How’d the puzzle treat you? Are you old enough to have watched George Burns in the movie theater?

Updated Wednesday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Going Dutch” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, March 14

Today’s puzzle features four entries ending with words that can follow “Dutch:”

  • 17-Across: The ["Hogan's Heroes" character who insisted, "I know nothing!"] is SERGEANT SCHULTZ. For those curious, Dutch Schultz was, according to Wikipedia, “a New York City-area Jewish American gangster of the 1920s and 1930s who made his fortune in organized crime-related activities such as bootlegging alcohol and the numbers racket. Weakened by two tax evasions trials led by prosecutor Thomas Dewey, Schultz’s rackets were threatened by fellow mobster Lucky Luciano. In an effort to avert his conviction, Schultz asked The Commission for permission to kill Dewey, which they declined. Concerned that Schultz would act without their blessing, they ordered his assassination in 1935.” That’s what happens when you ask for permission.
  • 27-Across: A [Beggin' Strips morsel, e.g.] is one kind of DOGGIE TREAT (“Dutch treat”). My dog prefers pig’s ears and the occasional lick off my plate when I’m done.
  • 48-Across: A TOASTER OVEN is a [Countertop appliance good for reheating pizza]. And a “Dutch oven” is something you make by eating pinto beans or black beans and then sleeping with the sheets tucked under the bed, forming a lethal air pocket. (Growing up, that’s actually what I thought “Dutch oven” meant–I didn’t know there was a real piece of cookware by that name.)
  • 65-Across: The [Action series featuring Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin] was THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., as in the “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.” Now, what about this “Dutch uncle” thing?  I’ve never heard of it, but Wikipedia says it’s “a term for a person who issues frank, harsh, and severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage, or admonish someone. Thus, a ‘Dutch uncle’ is a person who is rather the reverse of what is normally thought of as avuncular or uncle-like (which would be indulgent and permissive).” I think most of us crossword bloggers are more avuncular in our reviews. But more importantly, is there such a thing as a Dutch aunt? If opposites attract, is she by definition nicer and more tolerant? Or is she just as harsh?

I love how INNOCENCE sits opposite in the grid from NEGLIGEES. Other highlights include the assembly of AZTEC, NEHRU, HOMIE, ERNIE and TRENT Lott in the southwest, the crossing of OOZE and OUZO, and [Inheritance from one's parents?] as the clue for GENES.

I’m not sure I’ve ever solved a CS puzzle this quickly–a good omen for this weekend’s ACPT. Unless, that is, I’m peaking now and headed for a fall this weekend. I better quit now!

Deb Amlen’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, Amlen 3 14 12

Five theme answers begin with an unseemly and ungainly UN, turning a regular phrase into an unholy bastardized phrase:

  • 17a. UNCLOG DANCE, [Plumber's step?]. Could work for a plumbing user who has just eliminated a constipation problem too.
  • 27a. UNEARTH MOTHER, [Exhume Mrs. Bates?]. My favorite of the theme answers. The “earth mother” concept and Norman Bates’ long-dead mother make a surprising combo.
  • 34a. UNFAIR SEX, [Hookup in which one partner gets most of the pleasure?]. Share, people!
  • 45a. UNSAFE CRACKER, [Ritz with sharp edges?]. We need a 20/20 exposé on this Danger in Your Kitchen.
  • 60a. UNCOOL BEANS, [Nerd's chili contest need?]. Pretty sure no beans are actually cool. Healthful and tasty and filling, yes, but not cool. Anyone know where the phrase “cool beans” came from?

Because this is the Onion puzzle, we have a GONAD (2d. [Ball, as it were]) and a pack of TROJANS (44d. [Some transmission repellents]). We also have two corners full of 7-letter answers, nice to see. I like the clue for 39d: MUSSELS, [Strong-sounding seafood?].

My mystery answers were SOTHO (55a. [African ethnic and language group]) and CARL (49d. [___ Brutananadilewski of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"]).

There are also some crosswordese bits lurking in this grid. AGUE (21a. [Chills and fever]), OENO (58d. [Vintner's prefix]), EDO (24a. [Old name for Tokyo]), and 16a. Japanese vegetable related to ginseng fit into that category for me. 1a: AGLOW is one of those words that I’m not sure exist much in the wild. I would include UDO (16a. [Japanese vegetable related to ginseng]) in the crosswordese category except I’ll bet Deb has bought udo and cooked with it. She loves sushi and she makes her own kimchi, so it seems like udo would be right up her culinary alley.

4.25 stars for the theme – .5 for the crosswordese = 3.75 stars overall.

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11 Responses to Wednesday, 3/14/12

  1. Mary Rose says:

    Liked this one. Piday is big at my kids’ elem school. I always write it Oren for Orem though.

  2. Really enjoyed the NYT, it went down super-smoothly for me. Would have been my fastest Wednesday time if not for stumbling on the GLIB/AIDE/GATES/LION section for too long.

  3. Nina says:

    LAT had no circles at the Chicago Trib site, so I couldn’t get the gimmick till I read Amy’s blog. Best part of the puzzle for me was the Groucho quote.
    Happy PIDAY to all. . .

  4. ArtLvr says:

    I’d never heard of PI DAY, but NYT worked out okay… Chuckled at the LAT’s GROUCHO like Nina. Found Deb Amlen wrote the AV puzzle — edgy! More later, maybe.

  5. Jenni Levy says:

    If it’s the medication for you, it’s the jet lag for me – I stumbled through this in a more Thursday-ish fashion, too.

  6. ArtLvr says:

    Totally agreed on the Donna S Levin write-up! Much fun… Please please tell the techies to quit using red to highlight clues? It makes them completely illegible on my MacBook.

  7. sbmanion says:

    I apologize for interrupting, but if anyone gets an email from me today, do not open it. I awoke to find that someone apparently got into my email account and sent some kind of spam message.

    Sorry

    Steve

  8. *David* says:

    Curse you Sam I solved in 4:40 and it was my fastest CS. I think a sub-four can be in my future.

  9. Gareth says:

    Onion was a pretty obvious word addition theme; however, what made it 5 kinds of awesome were the colourful base phrases, plus that they were changed in amusing, unexpected ways! SOTHO was my favourite non-theme answer: of the 9 major South African baNtu ethnic groups ZULU and XHOSA get all the crossword limelight (with a lone TSWANA from Parker Lewis!). SWAZI, VENDA and PEDI all have good letters!

  10. Deb Amlen says:

    I made Gareth happy! My work is done here.

  11. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Steve, I was going to warn you that you had been hacked. I definitely got it, but no harm done.

    FANTASTIC *****+ Fireball by Double A. If that isn’t a “best of 2012* nominee, I don’t know what is. 17a alone was a classic, and it only got better. See y’all this weekend.

    Bruce

Comments are closed.