Thursday, 5/3/12

Fireball 10:39 
NYT untimed 
LAT 5:30 (Neville) 
CS 4:56 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed (Matt) 
Tausig tba —review in Friday post

Neville Fogarty’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 3 12 0503

Congrats to Fiend teammate Neville on what I believe is his NYT debut. Funky puzzle, too! Good spellers will have struggled with the theme entries, as those six words are misspelled:

  • 17a. [Study of trees?], family trees, should be genealogy, but it’s usually pronounced GENEOLOGY. Someone at the Marbles Chicago Crossword Tournament insisted to me that 17a was spelled correctly, and that this delayed his glomming onto the theme.
  • 22a. [Tenacity], PERSEVERENCE. Correct spelling, perseverance. We would also have accepted PERSERVERANCE with an extra R.
  • 50a. [Survey staple], QUESTIONAIRE. Should have two N’s, unlike bajillionaire.
  • 60a. The revealer! [Like the six longest answers in this puzzle], MISPELLED with one S.
  • 10d. [Long time], MILLENIUM. Should have two N’s. The ill-named Mazda Millenia didn’t help people out here.
  • 31d. [Event], OCCASSION. One S. On the other hand, the other big OCC- word, occurrence, gets a double R.

I solved this puzzle last Thursday, when Will prepared the PDFs for the Marbles crossword tournaments (not to mention the weekend’s other three tournaments). I was all set to email him and say “Stop the presses! 18d is ASE, the enzyme ending, not the sugar ending!” but he had warned us that things would look crazy and wrong during the solve. Once I had the intersecting misspellings in the northeast corner, I changed my GENEALOGY and got the OSE.

It’s not the first time a misspelling theme has been used, I’m told (and recall only hazily), but I’m an excellent speller and such themes amuse me.

Mystery people: 19a, [Dana of "MacGyver"], ELCAR. This is the old TV show, I presume? At first I was thinking it was MacGruber. No idea who Mr. or Ms. Elcar is. Also didn’t know that the 21a: [Henry who founded Cadillac] was Henry LELAND. Much more familiar with Leland Standford and L.A. Law‘s Leland McKenzie.

Could have done without SMEE, ELCAR, IRANI, SAENS, and three collegiate abbreviations.

Overall rating, 3.75 stars.

This was the finals puzzle at six tournaments last weekend. I was only there to witness the Chicago finals. Joshua Kreitzer was the champ, conquering Neville’s puzzle in 8:55. Marty Howard was close behind, at 9:25. And Alison Howard (Marty’s daughter!) finished at 13:02 with one or two boo-boos.

Boy, you wouldn’t believe how many typos I’ve caught myself making in this write-up. I hope I made it through without any misspellings.

Joon Pahk’s Fireball crossword, “Next in Line”

Fireball 3(18) solution

I had wrestled Patrick Blindauer’s May puzzle to the ground before I approached Joon’s Fireball, and you know what? Joon’s puzzle is a bit of a killer and yet it took a fraction (a sixth?) of the time Patrick’s took me.

Joon’s gimmick is that THE NUMBERS FOR THE DOWN CLUES HAVE BEEN SHIFTED UP ONE PLACE, meaning that until you fill in the broad swath of Across instructions, the Acrosses work but the Downs don’t fit the crossings. I was faintly catching onto the gimmick before I saw the instructions, but I pieced together DOWN CLUES and that helped.

Initially, when I knew that the [Movie set in Bodega Bay, California] was THE BIRDS, I tried filling it in from the 3-letter 4d down through the answer below. Didn’t work so well. When the gimmick fell, though, it was just a matter of plowing through the clues. And I think the clues tended to be a good bit easier than the usual Fireball clues–do you agree?

Favorite clues and answers:

  • 15a. Jessye [Norman conquest?], ARIA.
  • 33a. The FIVE-O! Did you know that the old TV show was Hawaii Five-O while the new one is Hawaii Five-0 with a zero instead of capital O? I’m unclear on the Danno/Dano situation, though.
  • 37a. GOUT, [Ailment that Benjamin Franklin suffered from]. Oh! And in the pre-NSAIDs, pre-steroids era. He must have been miserable when stricken.
  • 62a. TRIX, [It's not rabbit food].

Mystery clue: 43d: [Rackett relative] for 42d: OBOE. Wha…?

Four stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “On the Flip Side” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, May 3

This is one of those themes I wish I had thought of, but I take comfort in knowing that Patrick Blindauer pulled it off better than I could have myself. The theme involves six common expressions ending in either HEADS or TAILS. The clues to each expression, however, indicate that we’re supposed to focus “on the flip side.” That’s because the HEADS and TAILS get swapped in the grid. Check it out:

  • 18-Across: The clue is [They may be ridden, on the flip side].
    “They may be ridden” refers to COAT TAILS, so “on the flip side” it’s COAT HEADS.
  • 24-Across: HEADS OF STATE, the [Government bigwigs], become TAILS OF STATE on the flip side. When heads of state chase tails of state, scandal’s a brewin’.
  • 32-Across: [Dunces, on the flip side] aren’t BLOCKHEADS but instead BLOCKTAILS.
  • 44-Across: The [Commonly tucked wardrobe parts] would be SHIRT TAILS, but on the flip side they’re SHIRT HEADS.
  • 50-Across: The TALKING HEADS are the ["Burning Down the House" band], but here they are the TALKING TAILS.
  • 62-Across: [Fits together compactly, on the flip side] is not DOVETAILS, but DOVEHEADS.

That’s 62 theme squares, kids, and yet you don’t see any overt compromises in the fill. The ugliest parts (INI, NOP, NIP IT, DOHS, RTES) are well within the bounds of acceptable fill, especially given the dense “theme-age” here. Both of the long Downs have a great, conversational feel to them: NO THANKS and OH PLEASE. I also liked STIFFS, ON CUE, and IT’S ME.

My favorite clues were [Dollars for quarters?] for RENT, [Party favorites?] for the A-LIST, and [Certain hand-to-hand contact] for a CLAP.

Bart Beisner’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 5 3 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 5 3 12

On Tuesday I mentioned that it’s exam season in Kentucky. But more importantly – at least to the general public – it’s Derby season here, too! With the Kentucky Derby only a couple of days away, this puzzle couldn’t be more appropriate.

  • 17a. [Tension-easing activity]ICE BREAKER
  • 23a. [Music to a collector's ears]MINT CONDITION
  • 47a. [New Orleans tourist spot]BOURBON STREET
  • 58a. [Starlet's benefactor, perhaps] – SUGAR DADDY
  • 66a. [Mixer that completes 37-Across] - WATER
  • 37a. [Drink suggested by the starts of 17-, 23-, 47- and 58-Across] – JULEP

If you look around, you’ll find a few “official” recipes for the Kentucky Derby mint julep; I personally think any formula will cut it, provided you’re following this puzzle’s outline.

I don’t recognize Bart Beisner’s name. New constructor? This puzzle’s rounded out enough for me to think it could be Rich using a pseudonym for a topical puzzle. Beyond the theme entries, there’s nothing in the grid that’s just wow. But these clues rock:

  • 1d. [Turn on a griddle] – FLIP. Did you think about turning a dial to heat the griddle up? Me too. This comes later.
  • 5a. [You can count on them] – ABACI. Unlike calculators, they’re dependable without batteries.
  • 13. [Abductee of Paris] – HELEN of Troy. I fell for the geographic bluff here. (heh.)
  • 40d. [They're rolled in Spain] – ARS, as in the letter R. I wanted oats or some sort of cigar. I bet this cluing was meant to pair with 31a. [Partner of ciencias] – ARTES (arts & sciences). Otherwise we’d have two foreign words for art, but instead we get two Spanish entries.

Note that the [IRS Business designation] isn’t “scorp” but S CORP. – that’s where the company is kind enough to pass the taxes along to you, the investor. I hope that one didn’t tax you too much. Next door is still STALK, though – not S talk.

Enjoy the Run for the Roses on Saturday!

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Pending”—Matt Gaffney’s review

“Pending” reads the title of Brendan’s 19×19 puzzle today, and a properly suspicious crossword solver might wonder if it should read “P Ending.” It should, since our hero has replaced the last letter of certain phrases with a P, and hilarity naturally ensues:

  • 21-a. ["I swear by the party of Abraham Lincoln"?] = SO HELP ME GOP
  • 23-a. [Lewd one-liner?] = not a sex quiz but a SEX QUIP
  • 31-a. [Rare time you might hit the horn?] = BLUE MOON BEEP, as opposed to Blue Moon beer
  • 49-a. [Crushing blow from an environmental wacko?] = GREEN THUMP, not a green thumb, you radical!
  • 60-a. [Possible result of a waiter misunderstanding an order for broth with perch?] = BIRDHOUSE IN YOUR SOUP (instead of the They Might Be Giants’ song “Birdhouse in Your Soul”)
  • 71-a. [Everything a recluse owns?] = HERMIT CRAP (my favorite of the set)
  • 89-a. [Take out an insurance policy for your snake?] = COVER ONE’S ASP (this “one’s” thing has gone too far!)
  • 99-a. [Mouthful of saltwater?] = SEA GULP, not seagull. I kept thinking the base phrase ended in “gulf.”
  • 102-a. [Robot with a stinger?] = MACHINE WASP, not wash.

So that’s a good set that fits the title well, and a new-to-me wrinkle on the add-a-letter idea. Five observations:

  1. Nice juxtaposition of ESP TEST and the base phrase SEX QUIZ in the upper-right. Which one would you rather ace?
  2. 18-a is timely since BROWN [Horace Mann's alma mater] students wrote the Tuesday New York Times crossword this week (and the other puzzles by Brown students at the Brown crossword tournament last week will be published in the NYT in the future).
  3. Did not know the etymology of CHORTLE at 56-a. Intriguing.
  4. Star fill: I SAID NO!, LEMON RINDDISCMANI’M SORRYPT BOAT,IF/THENTOP UPMAHALO.
  5. No Kardashian reference for KIM and no Romney reference for MITT. BEQ bucks trends!

Thanks for the puzzle, Brendap!

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18 Responses to Thursday, 5/3/12

  1. joon says:

    oh neville, why did you do this to us? you have no idea how painful it was to write in all of those wrong answers!

    on the other hand, i’m not exactly one to talk today, am i?

  2. Jeffrey says:

    For those keeping track, I’m the Fiend guy who hasn’t been published in the New York Times. The fact that I’ve haven’t actually created a crossword is really no excuse.

    Great job, Nevillle!!!

    And joon, no you’re not. The cluing combined with the gimmick was too much for me.

  3. John E says:

    I was hoping 16A would be “FIREE” – I’m just in that kind of mood today.

    Love the Saint-Saens piano concertos – glad that one made it in.

  4. Neville says:

    Oh, Joon. I just wish I were as clever as your are. :)

    Jeffrey, we will get. you. published. (whether you want to be published or not!)

  5. David says:

    I like how Neville’s puzzle serves as a nice contrast to Joon’s puzzle. The former rewards speed solvers: if they don’t check all the crossings, they’re less likely to notice (and get stymied by) the intentional errors. The latter punishes speed solvers: If they don’t check the crossings, it will take more time to figure out that something is amiss with the down clues.

    Neville, were those your clues for 34D/37A? I had NRA/ROUSE at first, and it seemed too clever to be an accidental trap. Same goes for SALERNO/STPS instead of PALERMO/PCBS.

  6. I normally consider myself a pretty good speller but apparently I didn’t even question GENEOLOGY, with the O already in place from OSE. For PERSEVERENCE, I did hesitate on whether to write in an E or an A, and ended up putting in E <_<. When I got all of the crosses for OCCASSION, I finally had a WTF moment, but then I worked my way around to MISPELLED and it all made sense.

  7. jefe says:

    At Marbles Columbia, I figured something was up after QUESTIONAIRE and got MISPELLED soon afterwards. Later, I tried to spell genealogy correctly and found that I could not.

  8. Gareth says:

    OK, I loved the punchline in the NYT! Pity no variation on diarrhoea could’ve been included! I also had both of David’s pratfalls…

  9. curtis says:

    Leland Standford – like the university? ;-)

  10. pauer says:

    Congrats on the debut, Neville. May it be the first of many (with shorter periods stuck in the pipeline)!

  11. john farmer says:

    Interesting choice for a finals puzzle. You can’t get it right unless you get a few wrong. And in my non-tournament solving, I ended up with RUDGE for a while. One wrong too many. Congrats on the nice debut, Neville.

    My experience PB vs. JP: I found the twist in Patrick’s puzzle early, about four words in. Joon’s gimmick took forever, and I finally resorted to a Check / All letters before sorting it out. The PB still was a challenge, at least for this mere mortal, with only half the clues. JP’s was pretty straightforward once I found the right clues. Both were ideas I had not seen before, and I appreciate that. Good puzzles all around.

  12. Squonk says:

    So, in the NYT puzzle, would any letter entered at the crossing of 22 across and 10 down be considered correct? Or at 50 across and 31 down?

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Congrats Neville! Liked it a lot. For one thing it challenged me to ask myself “Let’s see, how *do* you spell that. Genealogy is a well-known trap. How’s this for syncrhonicity–yesterday evening, I attended the CAA lacrosse championship game between UMass and Towson at UMass.

    I do question the clue Merci–de rien. The literal translation of the Spanish “de nada” is not very idiomatic French. (In fact, I’ve never heard it.) The standard response is “Il n’ya pas de quoi.” The “da capo aria” form is correct, but more frequently referred to as “aria da capo”. Enjoyed the puzzle.

    John E: (End Zone Dance Alert!!!)

    I played the Saint-Saens 2nd (g Minor) piano concerto with a student orchestra, supplemented by a good number of professional ringers, at American University, in D.C. while in High School.

    In the interests of trying to keep my mind clear, with respect to important distinctions, I have been told that Dee Snyder, like “Nelly” is male, not female. Is that true? (I’m still getting over Stevie Wonder and Stevie Nicks.) :-)

    Bruce

  14. Neville says:

    THanks for the congratulations, everyone – esp. your tales of synchronicity, Bruce.

    David, the NRA trap was intentional – the PCBS part wasn’t – in fact, PCBS wasn’t in my original submission – I had PG DN in there. I had another trap at SMASH/SHEER, clued as [Nintendo franchise Super ___ Bros.] and [___ Madness], hoping that a solver would try MARIO/MARCH, causing serious issues. Maybe that was too cruel? ;)

  15. Meem says:

    Congrats, Neville. Boffo NYT debut. Hope you survived exams and can now make us some more puzzles.

  16. pannonica says:

    Would have been cute if the byline had been Neville Fogerty, although maybe not so much fun for a début.

  17. granbaer says:

    Loved your puzzle, Joon. I knew something was up immediately with the Bodega Bay clue, but it took some missteps before I figured out it was only the down clues that were shifted. Quite an innovative approach. Thank you!
    And Neville’s was revealed early on to me because my other hobby is GENEALOGY! Always have trouble spelling OCCASION and OCCURRENCE also. Fun puzzles.

  18. Tom says:

    Great puzzle.

Comments are closed.