Friday, 4/20/12

NYT 4:49 
LAT 4:24 
CS 8:07 (Sam) 
CHE 4:30 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 13:20 (pannonica) 
Celebrity untimed 

Mike Nothnagel’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 4 20 12 0420

The applet fizzled out on me once I clicked “Done!” and never registered my time, plus it ate my solution so I’m posting the one from XWord Info (thanks, JimH).

My solving time would have been a little faster had I noticed my early typo in SODA JERKS—was trying to think of a [Soul mate] beginning with LI but that was KINDRED SPIRIT. Yes, there are no soda jerls. I know.

Love, love love LIKE HERDING CATS. Colorful, fun phrase. “I KNOW IT IS!” is colloquial speech. There’s a GLOSSY TEAM PHOTO, KILLS TIME, STUD POKER, and DIAL TONES (which is a term that a baby born today might not even understand) (when said baby is older, duh).

Never heard of 9d: SLOANE [__ Crosley, author of the 2008 best seller "I Was Told There'd Be Cake"], know Chris SNEE only from crosswords, didn’t know 60d: LUN ["__ Yu" (collection also known as "The Analects of Confucius")]. Nothing overtly scowl-worthy, though.

Favorite clue: 52a: [Allocation of some pork spending?] for LOIN.

Attractive pinwheel of a grid. Four stars.

Martu DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 4 20 12

This puzzle pretends that its theme clues are about baseball, but they’re not:

  • 17a. TUNING FORK, [Starting pitcher?]. Wait, is a thing used to establish the right pitch a “pitcher” in any sense of the word? Seems a bit of a stretch.
  • 23a. BOWLING ALLEY, [Strike zone?]. Solid.
  • 39a. HIGHWAY REST AREA, [Short stop?]. See, your visit to the rest area is a short stop, but the rest area itself is not a short stop.
  • 48a. LIBERAL SLATE, [Left field?]. “Liberal slate” just doesn’t feel in-the-language to me. I Googled it and the first hits weren’t spotlighting the term, or they were talking about liberal Slate.com editors, or they were about slate roofers in Liberal, Oregon.
  • 61a. PANCAKE MIX, [Batter?]. I demur. Pancake mix is the dry stuff. Pancake batter is the wet stuff you get when you add eggs, oil, or whatever to the mix.

You see that? I groused about 80% of the theme. Add into the mix fill like AGUE (the [Flu symptom] that I desperately hoped was ACHE), CREEL, abbreviations (AFL FAO IND ATL FDR NYSE PPM IRR), and OUTWEARS (a word that dates back 450 years but who uses it?) and you know what happens? More grousing.

Higher rating if the theme were more polished. 2.75 stars.

Updated Friday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Jamming with Bob Marley” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Solution to CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, April 20

If I knew Bob Marley songs, I think I could have shaved nearly three minutes off my solving time. Alas, Bob knows as many of my songs as I know of his, so I was in for a workout here. The four theme entries are all well-known Marley songs (I’m sure), but I only know the first one:

  • 17-Across: I SHOT THE SHERIFF is the [Bob Marley tune released in 1973].
  • 25-Across: REDEMPTION SONG is the [Bob Marley tune released in 1980].
  • 45-Across: BUFFALO SOLDIER is the [Bob Marley tune released in 1983].
  • 60-Across: COULD YOU BE LOVED (or is it COULD YOU, BELOVED?) is the [Bob Marley tune released in 1980].

I’ve learned over the past 12.5 months of blogging the CS puzzle that Patrick’s puzzles almost always have some extra layer to them that I sometimes miss (the Seven & Seven puzzle comes readily to mind). I think I’ve got this one: a Bob Marley tribute puzzle runs on 4/20. Dude!

Though I’m not yet a Marley fan, there was plenty in the puzzle to keep me entertained. BOX TOPS, KEISTER, ICE FLOE, OFF-HOURS and ON TV were my favorite morsels. There were some terrific clues too, like [Parting words?] for OBITS and [Become breathless?] for EXHALE.

It was a little strange to see UNO and UNA in the same grid, and some of the shorter fill was a bit clunkier than what we come to expect from a Blindauer puzzle (SLR, SEL, ETS, ISR, OCHS)–though I loved DMZ, the [Border-dispute area (abbr.)]. But I don’t mean to harsh your mellow.

Peter Gordon’s Celebrity crossword, “Sports Fan Friday”

Celebrity crossword solution, 4 20 12 "Sports Fan Friday" Gordon

Did you know Peter Gordon was a Celebrity constructor? ‘Tis true. I think this is his first to be published here, but you’ll see his Celeb byline (and his super-smooth grids) again.

There had been some thought at Celebrity crosswords headquarters about a “4/20, dude!” theme (as Sam alludes to above, somehow 420 became a “thing” among the pot-smoking community, with 4:20 in the afternoon and April 20 somehow being singled out) of athletes famously known to have gotten high (I’m looking at you, Michael Phelps). But Peter plays it clean with a centennial tribute theme:

  • 18a. FENWAY PARK, [Baseball stadium that opened 100 years ago today: 2 wds.]
  • 25a. RED SOX NATION, [Home team fans at 18-Across, collectively: 3 wds.]
  • 32a. GREEN MONSTER, [Nickname of the left-field wall at 18-Across: 2 wds.]
  • 39a. BOSTON, MASS., [Locale of 18-Across, familiarly: 2 wds.]

Lively set of theme answers, not overly reliant on Things That Only Hardcore Sports Fans Might Know, and not a single baseball player’s name in the theme. Two thumbs up! And I don’t care much for baseball.

Peter has the cruciverbal skills to include a quartet of 8-letter answers outside the friendly confines of the theme without getting mired in horrible fill in any section. Highlights in the fill include BABY BOOM, KIT KAT, and JC PENNEY. My favorite clue brightens up NEON: [___ carrot (fluorescent Crayola color)].

David Poole’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “To Be or Not to Be” — pannonica’s review

CHE • "4/20/12 • "To Be or Not to Be" • Poole • solution

We’ve seen this sort of theme before—dropping a letter from some base phrases and adding it to others—but here it’s fittingly given a literary twist and is executed magnificently, to boot. The two themers in the top half of the grid lose a B and the two on the bottom gain one. It isn’t quite a TRADE (37a, occupying the center across spot), but it is an exchange of sorts.  As a subtle but impressive touch, there are no other Bs anywhere else in the grid.

  • 17a. [Novel about a surrogate mother?] MADAME (B)OVARY.
  • 23a. [Novel about Cinderella's coach?] THE PRINCESS (B)RIDE.
  • 48a. [Novel about acquiring Quidditch equipment?] A BROOM OF ONE’S OWN.
  • 61a. [Novel about a biblical serpent?] BEAST OF EDEN.

Flaubert, Goldman, Woolf, and Steinbeck. Not a bad coterie, with Goldman’s The Princess Bride being a relatively modern classic. I liked the theme and its execution so much that I overlook the invocation of JK Rowling’s subliterate scribblings.

The ballast fill doesn’t stretch for length, and the result is that—while there are no awesome standouts—the overall feel is very solid and interesting.

Some more literary content exhibited in Shakespeare’s LAERTES, CF Kane’s ROSEBUD, SENECA, with evocations in the clues of Robert Burns (SCOT), Joseph Haydn (EVE), Jules Verne (an exotic clue for NED). A good mix of highbrow and lowbrow.

Examples of the fun cluing throughout are: [Tank top?] for GAS CAP, [Driver's aid] TEE, [Thing with many heads] DRUM SET, [It's part of the service] TEACUP, the decision to clue EXPOSÉ rather than EXPOSE. 20a [Had a cow?] for CALVED doesn’t need the question mark, as far as I’m concerned.

A very enjoyable solving experience.

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Act Like a Major Leaguer” — pannonica’s review

WSJ • 4/20/12 • "Act Like a Major Leaguer" • Ross • solution

A baseball-themed puzzle! Made more palatable for this solver in that the idea is familiar metaphors derived from the pastime rather than the thing itself. Such metaphors—especially in business—are so pervasive that they have legitimate currency in places where there is no tradition of or even familiarity with baseball, like the UK.

  • 24a. [Wrap up the deal like a major leaguer] BRING IN A CLOSER.
  • 32a. [Ask a tough question like a major leaguer] THROW A CURVE. But I tried to make PLAY HARDBALL fit. Perhaps “tricky” instead of “tough” in the clue?
  • 54a. [Get depressed … ] GO INTO A SLUMP.
  • 88a. [Date … ] PLAY THE FIELD.
  • 108d. [Fail to follow through … ] DROP THE BALL.
  • 119a. [Be persuasive … ] MAKE A GOOD PITCH. Not sure if pitch here derives from the baseball term, or preceded it.
  • 3d. [Take responsibility … ] STEP UP TO THE PLATE. But I wanted MOUND, for some reason. Gave a sort of seventh-inning stretch to my solve time.
  • 6d. [Try unsuccessfully … ] SWING AND MISS.
  • 41d. [Be thorough … ] TOUCH ALL THE BASES.
  • 66d. [Do everything perfectly … ] BAT A THOUSAND.

Annnnnd… extra innings: OREL Hershiser, Willie MAYS, Bobby DOERR, BEFOUL.

New to me: ["Gloriosky!"], a synonym for EGADS. [Glassware ovens] LEHRS.

Highlights: [Key rings?] ATOLLS, [Mountain mover] for the tired T-BAR. The sequence of WADI and REBA. CYCLO and OCELLI because they were both gimmes for me. And what’s with the kooky repetition of “Queen Eliz.”? 11d [Home of Queen Eliz.] ENG. and 116a [Honor from Queen Eliz.] OBE. Of course they’re both abbrev. signals, but it felt a bit perverse to me. Nevertheless, it was memorable enough to keep company with my “favorites.”

Okay, time to hit the showers!

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19 Responses to Friday, 4/20/12

  1. Jason F says:

    “OMELET” (off O_E___) – me: well, that’s hardly a light breakfast

    d’oh!

  2. donald says:

    Why are some solvers so obsessed with time?

  3. Tuning Spork says:

    @Donald
    Because the clock is there? It’s just makes it a little funner. Sometimes.

  4. Gareth says:

    Why some solvers so obsessed with the fact that other solvers are obsessed with time?

    Clean as a whistle, like Amy (and I’m sure most everyone) loved loved LIKEHERDINGCATS; my fave clue was for TEAMPHOTO though! Oh and I even took out AJIG to fit in OMELET!

  5. HH says:

    Why some solvers so obsessed with the fact that other solvers are so obsessed with the fact that other solvers are so obsessed with time?

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Geez, HH, get a life. You’re always harping on those people. It’s like an obsession with you.

  7. ArtLvr says:

    Well, i liked the LAT themes, especially TUNING FORK and HIGHWAY REST AREA. And maybe the PANCAKE MIX isn’t quite batter without something wet added, but it’s okay with me, and so is LIBERAL SLATE! Very clever, IMO… I found the NYT tougher, entering GOETHE and the OBGYN to start, smiling at KINDRED SPIRITS’ echo of Anne of Green Gables, but eventually got it all. Never heard of HERDING CATS: too fraught, with mine over age 20 and ailing badly.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    What Amy said. Loved it. Like the expression “herding cats.”

    Out of idle curiosity, I seem to remember a poetic ditty with a repeated refrain pronounced:
    “Shake, Mo-leery and Go-eeth.”

    Does that ring a bell with anyone?

    I also liked Victor’s Thurs. LAT a lot, and was baffled by some of the scathing comments.

    Bruce

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @ArtLvr: “Like herding cats” is just an expression to describe something that’s typically frantic and futile. It was rendered visually in a terrific Super Bowl ad a few years back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8

  10. Martin says:

    As with “letter sorting” yesterday, I think programmers had a heads up with “herding cats.” It was a ubiquitous metaphor for managing a software project by the mid-’90s, at least in Silicon Valley.

    There is a citation from the mid-’80s of a Mensa t-shirt with the phrase

    Leading Mensans Is Like Herding Cats …All You Need Is Food

    but that’s a different sense entirely. The current idiom implies chaos — food wouldn’t help! Frantic but perhaps not futile. Software managers are well paid for cat-herding skills, and eventually the job gets done. It’s never pretty, though, and it leaves everyone pretty scratched up.

  11. Martin says:

    As for why some solvers are obsessed with time, I blame the guy who decided to give prizes for solving quickly.

  12. Greg says:

    Herding cats = trying to nail jello to a wall, or, a good memoir written by Trent Lott.

  13. Jeff Chen says:

    Why are some solvers obsessed with lolcats? Oh wait, that’s just me.

    I can has puzzle?

  14. ArtLvr says:

    Interesting to hear the history of “herding cats”. Back in the days when computers needed punched cards fed to them, I remarked to the head of one such university facility on the odd obesity of her all-female staff — She said she hired on that basis deliberately, as those were the applicants least likely to leave to get married immediately after completing training. She was herding her own sort of fat cats, I guess. It was highly unappealing, but I saw her point!

  15. Amy Reynaldo says:

    “Highly unappealing”? Ouch. How insulting to the women hired, both that they were profiled as unmarriageable and that people viewed them negatively because of their size.

  16. Greg says:

    Well if the didn’t hire them they would accused of discrimination so maybe kudos to them. We all perform behavioral profiling every day whether we realize it or not.

  17. Art Shapiro says:

    I SHOT THE SHERIFF?

    Dang, I was trying to make sense of IS HOT THE SHERIFF. Never heard of any of them in the CS.

    Art

  18. JanglerNPL says:

    So is “I KNOW IT DOES!” or “…CAN!” or “…WILL” or “…WON’T”. It’s still really arbitrary.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      When it comes to the dialogue-type entries, Jangler, I know they can be arbitrary and aren’t dictionary-grade, but I think they lend flavor and fun to a puzzle.

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