Tuesday, 4/24/12

NYT 4:14 
LAT 5:09 (Neville) 
Jonesin' untimed 
CS 4:44 (Sam) 
Celebrity tba 

Special secret birthday greetings to Crossword Fiend webmaster extraordinaire Evad, occasional guest blogger PuzzleGirl, and constructor Byron Walden. [edited to add: and perhaps most importantly, our to-be-53rd POTUS, Amy's son Ben.]

Adam Perl’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 4 24 12 0424

You know what the hardest part of this theme was? Not 1a and 10a, not the snaking letters across the middle of the grid, not 17a, not 62a. It was piecing together the name in 54a. MIKAEL BLOMKVIST? Why isn’t it Blomquist, anyway? Never read any of the books, haven’t seen the Swedish movie(s?), haven’t seen the American movie. No particular interest in any of it, but at least it’s been such an inescapable pop culture phenomenon that most of the theme was easy for me anyway. STIEG Larsson, The GIRL / WITH / THE DRAGON TATTOO, LISBETH SALANDER–those bits were gimmes. It was just the dude’s name I was blanking on and the Swedish spelling I wasn’t 100% on.

The hardest part of the non-theme puzzle? 42a and some of its crossings. I had the [Silicon Valley city] as LOS GATOS instead of LOS ALTOS (does California also have a city named “The Cats”?), which meant the [1906 Massenet opera based on Greek myth] looked like GR*ANE and [Dance movement] was GAIDE. Wha…? ALTOS takes us to ARIANE the opera and GLIDE the movement.

Favorite clue, 22a: [One taking a gander?] for GOOSE.

The fill was okay, though I’d be fine with never again seeing N TESTS. 3.5 stars.

Michael Dewey’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 4 24 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 4 24 12

Let’s see what the DEAL is in today’s LA Times puzzle.

  • 3d. [Injury-prone area for pitchers] – ROTATOR CUFF
  • 18a. [Florida Keys, e.g.] – ISLAND CHAIN
  • 28a. [Meat ingredient in many stuffing recipes] – PORK SAUSAGE… and now I want sausage.
  • 61a. [Elusive evolutionary connection, or the elusive feature of the ends of 18-Across and 3- and 28-Down] – MISSING LINK

I kind of wish there were actual missing links from this puzzle, but this puzzle works great as it as. As someone who’s lost cuff links, this puzzle speaks to me on a deep level any way. I just noticed that the Florida Keys make up a chain… a key chain. Did someone name it this way on purpose? And how did I not notice it earlier?

[Bandleader KayKYSER is a new name for me – it’s exciting to learn a new name from an early-week puzzle. Of course, I do know ["24" superagent Jack] BAUER. A bit of a generation gap there. Remember when YAHOO was a [Popular email provider]? It’s all about Gmail these days, it seems. (Don’t tell my mom – she’s still on AOL.)

I don’t recognize Michael Dewey’s name, but he’s sure got a knack for putting in some cute fill all over the puzzle. LET IT BE, BLOOPER, OOZING, IPHONE, I’M FREE, LEFT JAB, CHINTZY, CYCLOPS, TREKKIE. Usually, when I do a one-line rundown, it’s because there’s a lot of trash in a grid. This time, though, it’s because there’s just not enough time to look at each cool entry one at a time. My favorite clue in the bunch was [One who can do a perfect Vulcan salute].

My final answer in this puzzle was the [Tyrolean refrain], YODEL. Tyrol is a state in western Austria; had I known this, the puzzle might’ve gone a bit quicker. BE ALL also got an uncharacteristically tricky [What really matters] – not the kind of hard clue I expect at one down on a Tuesday. I love a surprise like that! More from you, please, Mr. Dewey!

Updated Tuesday morning:

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, April 24

You can’t ask for a theme that’s more basic, easy, or simple than this one. That’s because the four theme entries begin with a word that’s synonymous with “elementary:”

  • 20-Across: BASIC TRAINING is the [Boot camp regimen].
  • 31-Across: EASY STREET is the [Address where you can live the life of Riley]. Growing up, a local radio station aired replays of the old “Life of Riley” show (with the friendly undertaker, “Digger” O’Dell) on Saturday nights, followed by re-broadcasts of “The Shadow.” Yep, there was a time when Saturday nights were fun.
  • 41-Across: SIMPLE FOLK are [Rubes].
  • 53-Across: PRIMARY COLORS is the [Roman à clef about Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign]. Wait, John Travolta’s character was based on Bill Clinton? Really? (Bazinga.)

There wasn’t much to slow me down. I had BARGE IN ON then BARGE ON IN before getting BARGE INTO as the answer to [Enter without invitation]. And after seeing the clue [Paris subway system] I did spend a few seconds wondering, “What’s French for ‘metro?’” before finally seeing that it was, well, METRO.

I didn’t know that SINGAPORE is the [Country that forbids the importation of nontherapeutic chewing gum]. That’s the kind of clue that so wacky it’s adorable. LAB COAT, the [Stereotypical apparel for a medical researcher], was also cool.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Let’s Go Sigh-Seeing”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 4 24 12 "Let's Go Sigh-Seeing"

Enjoy the natural scenery, and don’t forget to leave those extra letters at home. They just get in the way of the scenic view at these tourist attractions:

  • 20a. DESIGNATED RIVER, ["Come run the rapids at this specially assigned locale!"]
  • 31a. CURIOUS GORGE, ["Come see the view, for all you nosy types!"]
  • 38a. FROSTED LAKES, ["Come see how everything crystallizes during the winter!"]
  • 48a. HASTA LA VISTA BAY, ["Come to the sheltered spot you can't wait to get away from!"]

I don’t love the theme, as it doesn’t quite hang together for me. Feels a little forced. But I do like the extreme liveliness of the original phrases–designated driver, Curious George, Frosted Flakes, and “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Five more clues:

  • 34a. MAACO, “Uh-oh, better get…” company]. For scratched cars in need of paint?
  • 60a. DOLAN, [HBO founder Charles]. Is he really the most famous Dolan we’ve got? I can’t say anybody’s coming to mind.
  • 4d. RAVIOLI, [Pillows on a plate]. Delicious pillows.
  • 38d. FORTEAN, [___ Times (UK mag taglined "The World of Strange Phenomena")]. Not on my reading list.
  • 39d. RUTA, [Frequent early "Hollywood Squares" panelist Lee]. Ruta Lee, not Lee Ruta. Nowhere near as famous as Rula Lenska in my book. Or Ruta Baga.

I don’t know that anyone has ever actually used 43d: FEARER as a word. “Don’t be a fearer of the Reaper!” Love OH HELL, YES’M, and I CAN Has Cheezburger.

3.25 stars.

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17 Responses to Tuesday, 4/24/12

  1. john farmer says:

    Yes, California has a place named Los Gatos. We also have a Los Banos, but don’t confuse that with los baños — we have lots of them too.

  2. Jared says:

    I made the same mistake(s) you did on the NYT. difference is, I couldn’t fix it. Luckily Nicole came to the rescue.

  3. Martin says:

    I was in both Los Gatos and Los Banos today. Elaine and I spent the weekend in LA visiting with our son, and had a great time. The route from San Jose to LA takes you by Los Banos and we live by Los Gatos. Baths and cats. What more can you ask for?

  4. Martin says:

    BTW, we still have mountain lions, the “cats” of Los Gatos. We have way more deer, so I always vote for the cougars. They don’t eat landscaping.

    When we first moved to this area the deer were cute. After they grazed a couple of hundred bucks worth of newly planted shrubs down to the ground like their salad bar, they became cockroaches with hooves. And there they stayed.

  5. Gareth says:

    Haven’t paid much attention to any of what the NYT references, though miraculously still got both names with a few crossings. I too had LOSGATOS. I know it mostly from this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00jCtvC8Zc8 (a protest song from the 1940s against the maltreatment of illegal immigrants from Mexico)

    LAT had a solidly-made theme, and, I agree with Neville, tons o’ great fill answers: all present and accounted for! Is there a Rob Zombie album called LETITBE/OOZING? The juxtaposition of those two answers tickled me. The Gonow is also a Chinese car brand. The wave of Chinese cars that has hit here hasn’t reached the US yet, right?

  6. ArtLvr says:

    Talk about missing link — I can’t get the Jonesin in your list of today’s puzzles. Ephraim gives a Thursday link, but not Monday. Help?

  7. pannonica says:

    ArtLvr: The “Thursday” offering should be the one you want. Jonesin’ puzzles are consistently posted early and Amy blogs them on Tuesdays to equalize the weekly distribution.

    edit: Oh, it looks as if the 26 April puzzle hasn’t been posted yet, which explains that “broken” link. Patience?

  8. ArtLvr says:

    I did find the Jonesin via Google Groups, thanks, pannonica… Sorry I bothered, in a way, as I was sure the 57A Crawford person starting with C was a Cindy and it (he or she?) turned out to be spelled CHACE. Guessed right on the FORTEAN – RUTA – HEART crosses and the long theme answers, but mostly wasn’t amused… clues too twisty or unknown, like a TILA.

  9. Howard B says:

    The QV in BLOMQVIST seems to be a Swedish spelling/pronunciation.
    There was a tough Fireball puzzle last year, including the name of the New York Rangers goalie smack in the center – HENRIK LUNDQVIST. Ja, Swedish.

    Hockey name knowledge was a benefit with the name there, as I have not (yet) read the books, somehow. I’ll get to them right after I complete the Harry Potter series (estimated time, 2031), I suppose.

  10. Aaron Brandes says:

    I think that the vote only one per puzzle is probably a good thing overall. I only discovered it recently when I attempted to split a vote with 3 and 4 stars to get a 3.5 star rating.
    Do other folks want a more fine grained voting option?
    What about a scale of 1 to 10 stars if implementing half stars is technically challenging.

    I went for LOS GATOS too, with the same consequences.

  11. larry says:

    The creators of x-word puzzles seem to use “a-test” and “n-test” as synonyms. As I recall, they were always referred to as “a-tests” in the 40s and not as “n-tests” or “h-tests” until the 50s, when the bombs became thermonuclear.

  12. PA says:

    Thanks for Los Altos. I also had gatos!

  13. Mike D. says:

    I don’t get why the words THEDRAGONTATTOO were in circles. The words together comprise 15 letters, so why couldn’t this have simply been an entry that spanned the middle of the grid? Am I missing some kind of visual element to this puzzle? Are they supposed to be dragon’s teeth or something else? Just curious if anyone else was wondering the same thing….

  14. Tuning Spork says:

    @Mike D. The circles represent the shape of the tattoo.

    Dragon tattoo

    Shouldn’t it have been represented vertically in the grid, though?

  15. ArtLvr says:

    I don’t mind a sinuous dragon image crossing the grid horizontally rather than vertically, but I did have the same complaint as Larry — the cluing of the 1940′s bomb testing should refer only to A-TEST answers. Editors please note!

  16. jefe says:

    Small error in the Celebrity – There shouldn’t be an “Is” in the 4A clue.

  17. john farmer says:

    Yes, on H-tests for the ’50s, but N-tests and A-tests are more or less synonymous, dating from the ’40s. Trinity (nuclear test): “Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. This test was conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945…”

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