Thursday, 6/7/12

Fireball 7:44 
NYT 6:15 
LAT 6:27 (Neville) 
CS 5:30 (Sam) 
BEQ untimed (Matt) 
Tausig untimed 

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 6 7 12 0607

Alrighty, I’ve spent the last three hours catching up with an old friend who’s staying over, but I need to get the blog post up! Would you believe we were discussing the very topic of 31a/37a? Seriously. Babies get these wet wipes, and once the kid outgrows diapers, American parents say “Here’s some dry paper, kid, clean yourself up.” It’s crazy. My proposed ECOLAW is to have rooftop cisterns to gather rainwater to supply bidets in every household. By the way, [Chem. assay] is a hilarious clue for ANAL., and I’ve never seen the word ECOLAW.

Speaking of words I’ve never seen before, there’s that [Sorghum variety], DURRA. Are you kidding me? I was thinking LETS GO for 52a rather than LETS UP, and 45d was also throwing me off. Questioned 62a: ROOMERS because maybe 45d needed to end in OFF? Nope, it’s GO POOF, which I might like better if it had a better neighbor to the west.

Likes: OFF THE CLOCK, BIG NAME, and the general concept of I BEFORE / E EXCEPT / AFTER C. But I don’t quite get what the theme is doing with the circled squares. The I BEFORE clue says the “rule” isn’t always followed, so the circled squares yield eight words with EI or IE in varying degrees of connection to the “rule”? Some of those words violate the rule’s second part (“unless sounded as ‘A’ as in neighbor and weigh”)—THEIR, WEIRD. Some obey the C part (CEILING). Some violate the first part (ANCIENT ROME). Some obey the not-applied-to-C part (LIEN, NIECE). It feels like a mishmash of applications of the “I before E” business that, truly, is not so helpful when it comes to spelling quizzes. I tried like hell to come up with spelling mnemonics for my kid back when he struggled with those weekly spelling quizzes, and it just wasn’t possible. English is too crazy.

Dislikes: EX-MATE, heavy pluralizing of sports and art terms (PROAMS, GOLF TOURNAMENTS, NHL TEAMS, STEENS), that weird-looking chess abbreviation KNT. Plus OPTO-. And IGN., is the ignition really an engine part? Because I turn the key in an entirely different compartment of the car. (Cue Martin’s explanation of how the IGN clue is valid, without disputing the ugliness of the answer…)

Time for bed. But first, roo-roo! No, wait. But first, the star rating. I’ll go with 2.75. Was thinking 2.66, but that ANAL HYGIENE focused right on the middle of the grid elevates the rating, frankly. It’s fresh and unexpected!

Updated Thursday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Car Tunes” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 7

Well, for being weak in both cars and music, I can’t complain about my solving time for this crossword. It’s safe to see this theme is outside my wheelhouse–hit songs with cars in their titles:

  • 20-Across: HOT ROD LINCOLN is the [1972 hit for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen]. That’s the perfect name for an early ’70′s band, no?
  • 36-Across: LITTLE HONDA is the [1964 hit for the Hondells]. It was a total rip-off of Little Mazda by the Mazdells.
  • 44-Across: Finally, a song I know! MERCEDES BOY is the [1988 hit for Pebbles]. (“Do you want to ride in my Mercedes, boy?”) It was her first hit single after breaking up with Bamm-Bamm on the heels of this other hit.
  • 60-Across: CADILLAC RANCH is the [1992 hit for Chris LeDoux]. It’s a song about a particularly classy salad dressing.

What’s that? Not enough music for you? How about BARRY Manilow, CCR (the ["Bad Moon Rising" band, familiarly], SHA NA NA, and PERRY COMO for bonus entries? Heck, there’s even RAG RUG. “R-A-G-G, R-U-G-G, Rag Rug!”

Let’s face it, Jeffrey would be the ideal Fiend-ster to blog this puzzle (though WordPress might balk at the number of YouTube links).

Favorite entry = I DON’T KNOW, the [Answer a teacher doesn't want to hear]. (As a teacher, though, I must protest. I would much rather hear about it when a student isn’t following what we’re doing.) Favorite clue = [It may hang by the neck] for a JOWL.

Donna Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 6 7 12

Los Angeles Times crossword solution, 6 7 12

There’s nothing too shocking in today’s Los Angeles Times puzzle.

  • 16a. [Four-legged comfort animal] - THERAPY DOG. Some university libraries have started checking out dogs to students during exam week. Arf!
  • 23a. [Budget-friendly fast food offering] – VALUE MEAL
  • 37a. [Coming trend] - WAVE OF THE FUTURE
  • 49a. [Locker room laundry item] – JOCK STRAP
  • 60a. [Seismic phenomenon, and where you might find the starts of 16-, 23-, 37- and 49-Across] – AFTERSHOCK

Well executed theme here, yes? There’s a solid connecting entry, and each of the other four entries looks great. Can’t complain about a thing here.

Leave it to Ms. Levin to save the Z for a neat crossing like AD BIZ/ZAGNUT. Would you rather have RAW MEAT or pink slime crossing your VALUE MEAL?

I had a tricky time with [Domingo, et al.], because I foolishly guessed SENORS… and though most of it was correct, it was one letter off of the right answer, TENORS. Oops! I had know idea what a JETSA could be.

[The "merry" part of the "merry game"] is the ALAI in jai alai. That’s a cute way to spice up a meh entry. Jai ho!

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Flip This!”

Fireball 3(23) answers

Simple flapjack theme:

  • 20a. BUTTERMILK SKY, [Indicator of a coming storm, supposedly]. No idea what this means. A Google image search shows me what appear to be altocumulus clouds. Wikipedia says, “Towering altocumulus, known as altocumulus castellanus, frequently signals the development of thunderstorms later in the day, as it shows instability and convection in the middle levels of the troposphere, the area where towering cumulus clouds can turn into cumulonimbus. It is therefore one of three warning clouds often recorded by the aviation industry, the other two being towering cumulus and cumulonimbus.” No mention of “buttermilk sky” there, though.
  • 36a. BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO, [Musician with the album "Waitin' for My Ya Ya"]. Is it possible that he and his band played a gig at my small college somewhere in the neighborhood of 1984-1986? I know for sure that we had Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band. Accordion madness!
  • 54a. PANCAKE MAKEUP, [Face base, or the first word of 20- or 36-Across?].

The official pancakes of this blog and Rex Parker’s blog are the corn cakes that IHOP stopped selling a few years ago. Apparently all one needs to do is add some cornmeal to a regular pancake recipe and boom, corn cakes. Need to get some cornmeal and assign this task to my husband, the household pancake maker.

Did this puzzle last night, so it’s not fresh in my mind now. I see…lots of Scrabbly action. Top fill: SKI BUM, IDRIS ELBA, GOALPOST clued Stumper style as [Upright], KLUTZY, PHOBIC.

Cute clues:

  • 5d. [Pet of Hamlet], SNERT. Hamlet is Hagar the Horrible’s son. Honi is his daughter; she sometimes appears in crosswords too.
  • 42a. [Die after crossing the German/French border?], LES. Die is the definite article for a feminine noun as well as for plurals, so les is the French equivalent for plurals.
  • 55d. [Chinese gooseberry], KIWI fruit. The bird name is a good descriptor for the fruit and it highlights the New Zealand connection, but I kinda wish “Chinese gooseberry” were the grocery store label. The produce section needs more geese.

Didn’t know MYLES, took a gamble on KNOX, didn’t know the erotica writer was an ERIKA. How nice of her to provide an alternative to the lesser-known Erikas crossword constructors have had to lean on until now.

Four stars.

Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “The Hangover” (plus contest wrap-up)—Matt Gaffney’s review

BEQ 5/31 solution

Before we get to today’s (very nice) BEQ, let’s take a quick look at his contest puzzle from last week. Brendan asked us to find the missing member of his puzzle’s theme set, and  the theme was a rebus with six Jekyll-and-Hyde rebus squares. Across and down they took the form of two different playing cards; solution grid at right (stolen from Brendan’s site), but in full they were:

BUR(N IN E)FFIGYST. (SIX)TUS
DRAQ (QUEEN)(ACE)TONE
NEW(S EVEN)TSANDREW (JACK)SON
(FOUR)IERFLYW(EIGHT) BOXER
SPIRI(T WO)RLDTHE (THREE) R’S
MAR(KING)SEA(TEN)

The only missing card is the 5, making that the contest answer. Very nice; see here for Brendan’s writeup.

Speaking of very nice, let’s look at Brendan’s blog puzzle for today, entitled “The Hangover.”  Brendan excises HANG from three long theme entries and re-situates it over those entries in a relevant place.  See solution diagram; they are:

BEQ 6/7 answers

  • 20-a [What well-intentioned, but inevitably incompetent people end up doing, often] = MORE HARM T(HANG)OOD
  • 37-a [Event where one might ask, "Is it just me, or is it getting hotter?] = CLIMATE C(HANG)E DEBATE
  • 52-a [1992 #3 hit by Dr. Dre] = NUTHIN’ BUT A G T(HANG)

The three HANG entries are just clued [-], so you can’t help but eventually get the hang of this theme.

Five things, in honor of last week’s BEQ contest answer:

  1. He makes it look easy, doesn’t he? BO PEEPBATH TIMEFARM TEAMSCHLEPWNBA (that whole upper-middle is elegant), STYXCATBOXSNAFU.
  2. I had SHIH TZU instead of SHARPEI at 29-d for a long time. I bet you did, too!
  3. Upper-right is a little knotty, with TEA OR next to OR NOT. But considering the HANG nearby we’ll let it slide.
  4. At 45a I bet I can guess the movies Kevin COSTNER won for: “Dances With Wolves” and “Waterworld.”  Amirite?
  5. I had BONG at 6-across. Intentional misdirect or serendipity? Either way, it worked.

Brendan opened his tip jar this week (as he does every six months), so contemplate chipping in some dough here.  If you tip $10 or more you’ll receive a copy of his new 21×21 freestyle puzzle, which I’m looking forward to solving this evening.  His twice-weekly blog puzzles are a major highlight of the Crucisphere, and the level of quality he maintains every week is ridiculous.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Heads of Planning”

Ink Well crossword solution, 6 7 12 "Heads of Planning"

I very much enjoyed this puzzle. The theme is contraception, so the “Heads of Planning” title refers to family planning methods found at the head of each theme answer:

  • 18a. PILLBOX HAT, [Jackie O specialty].
  • 23a. SHOT GLASS, [Bar vessel that holds 1.5 ounces]. As in the Depo-Provera injection, given quarterly.
  • 35a. RING TONES, [Significant music industry market, nowadays]. As in the NuvaRing vaginal ring.
  • 51a. SPONGEBOB, [Animated Bikini Bottom resident]. This is the nonhormonal barrier method of birth control you may remember from Seinfeld, when the Sponge was temporarily off the market and Elaine had to decide if a man was truly “spongeworthy.” Friend of mine found out the hard way (no toxic shock syndrome, though!) that you don’t want to forget to take the Sponge out after.
  • 57a. PATCH ADAMS, [Doctor played by Robin Williams]. The OrthoEvra patch is worn on the skin and replaced weekly.

See? Crosswords can be pretty educational. I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that the pill (plus condoms, the diaphragm, and the IUD, which did not have phrases that let them fit into this theme) had so many rivals.

Three solid corners of stacked 7s, plus the less polished corner with SOBBERS crossing ALB, ESSE, and BIER. I like the “Why are you snickering? Grow up already!” trio of COMES AT, URETHRA (2d. [Leaking tube?]), and PEACOCK (3d. [Fancy-ass bird?]), plus the freshness of TOTAL B.S. at 13d and the clue for 38d: MOSH PIT, [Site for displaced homoerotic affection, at metal shows].

Crossword Highlights, Special Video Edition:

  • 5a. I.O.U.S.A., [2008 documentary about American debt]. I always like it when the work of someone I know makes it into the puzzle. Wordplay director Patrick Creadon also made this one, which came out moments before the housing market and economy crashed and Paul Krugman argued that this was exactly the time to take a break from being focused on lowering the national debt. You can watch the movie here.
  • 31a. DUB, [Word before reggae or step]. If you’ve never seen that viral dubstep video featuring Marquese Scott, prepare to have your socks knocked clean off.
  • 55a. RAE, ["Call Me Maybe" singer Carly ___ Jepsen]. At last! A new RAE-named person taking the pop music world by storm! Crossword constructors have needed her ever since Charlotte Rae and Rae Dawn Chong’s ’80s heydays. This 26-year-old has the approval of her fellow Canadian, Justin Bieber. My kid knows a song or two by this Jepsen character, so I figured I’d check her out while I was on YouTube. Here’s “Call Me Maybe,” which made me cackle at the end. Some of you will see the ending coming long before I did, and some of you will be surprised.
  • 62a. [R&B singer Janelle] MONAE. Her 2010 song “Tightrope” (feat. Big Boi) is ultra-catchy and the video is kinda trippy.

4.25 stars.

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44 Responses to Thursday, 6/7/12

  1. larry says:

    Amy – Any idea why the NYT doesn’t put all its puzzles in the Across Lite format but sometimes uses the PDF format? Just wondering. I can live with either, altho the Across Lite format can be set to print with much less toner than PDF.

  2. Gareth says:

    Cottoned to what the rule was almost immediately. The two blocks of four trick is awesome! I think the point is that the rule is unhelpful, and the blocks mean 1 follower and 1 exception across and down per block. It took me forever to be able to spell ANCIENT as a kid… The blocks are asymmetric though, which probably won’t bother too many. 31A is being silly clue-wise, I doubt many who were going to be offended by ANAL are now appeased… Bit of a partialfest, but otherwise inoffensive as far as short answers go. Knew DURRA though misremembered it as SURRA (a disease of horses) first… ANCIENTROME and GOPOOF were great answers! I gave it a four!

    @Larry: Across Lite has technical deficiencies that mean not every puzzle can be replicated in the .PUZ format.

  3. pannonica says:

    Write-up covers most of my gripes about the NYT, but since when does the acronym ASCAP (55d) have only its first letter capitalized? (Double-checked the .pdf version to make sure it wasn’t an Across Lite goof.) Never mind that the answer is yet another unappealing abbrev. in a grid chock full of them, along with those that are also questionable.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Why am I not surprised another inventive Krozel puzzle gets dumped on?

    DURRA isn’t great (although it has appeared before) but GO POOF is not liked because it is next to DURRA? Now that’s a new reason to dislike an entry.

    Plurals and abbreviations are not excessive compared to avg. puzzles.

    Four stars.

  5. pannonica says:

    re: abbrev. quotient. Yes, but some are more unappealing and/or questionable than others.

  6. Martin says:

    OK, I’ll bite: what’s “questionable” here Pannonica. Moreover, what do you mean by “questionable”?

    -MAS

  7. pannonica says:

    Wasn’t dangling any bait.

    • A knight in chess—as per the clue—if abbreved., is usually KT or N, not KNT (which is used for a person with that title).
    • ANAL clued as an abbrev.—necessitating an unlovely clue [Chem. assay]—conveys misplaced prudishness.
    • I just don’t care for AMER. as an abbrev., plus the “Ascap” in the clue is inexplicable.

    And, hey, what’s with that monogram?

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @pannonica, the New York Times follows its own style guidelines for abbreviations. As I recall:

    Abbrevs pronounced letter by letter, like F.B.I.: regular-size caps, periods (not sure if this applies to NAACP, which would look long and ungainly with giant letters and periods sprawling across the column).

    Acronyms pronounced as words, like AIDS: small caps

    But! Acronyms that are 5+ letters long (Ascap, Nascar, Nasdaq) just get spelled like a word to avoid the giant blob of capital letters.

    Poor Will Shortz has to follow Times style in the clues, even when it makes the puzzle look funny to everyone (as in “Ascap” today).

    And now “Ascap” is making me think of 31a again.

    By the way: Forgot to mention that I Googled one answer while solving. “Sorghum varieties” took me to Wikipedia, where DURRA was listed in the second paragraph.

  9. ethan f says:

    @Amy: this excellent post has more on NYT style w/r/t to acronyms etc.: http://topics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/faqs-on-style/

    here’s the relevant bit:
    acronyms. An acronym is a word formed from the first letter (or letters) of each word in a series: NATO from North Atlantic Treaty Organization; radar from radio detection and ranging. (Unless pronounced as a word, an abbreviation is not an acronym.) When an acronym serves as a proper name and exceeds four letters, capitalize only the first letter: Unesco; Unicef.

    We limit the uppercasing to four letters because longer strings of capitals are distracting and tend to jump off the page.

    ALSO:
    A number of readers have complained after seeing plural abbreviations like M.D.’s and M.R.I.’s in The Times. They say the apostrophe is wrong — that it indicates a possessive and should not be used in a plural like this.

    In fact, style rules at The Times (and some other publications, including the Chicago Manual of Style) do call for using an apostrophe in the plural of abbreviations that include periods. The idea is that a combination of uppercase letters, periods and a lowercase “s” is confusing at first glance, and that the apostrophe helps a reader see that the “s” has been added to make a plural.

    Here’s the relevant portion of The Times’s stylebook entry:

    Use apostrophes for plurals of abbreviations that have capital letters and periods: M.D.’s, C.P.A.’s. Also use apostrophes for plurals formed from single letters: He received A’s and B’s on his report card. Mind your p’s and q’s.

    But do not use apostrophes for plurals of abbreviations without periods, or for plurals formed from figures: TVs, PCs, DVDs; 1990s, 747s, size 7s.

  10. Martin says:

    “And, hey, what’s with that monogram?”

    So the other Martins here don’t take any heat for my posts, or vice-versa ;)

    Yeah, I know my mug shot is up there too, but old habits die hard.

    -MAS

  11. pannonica says:

    ethan f (and Amy): Thanks for all that NYT inf.

    A better style solution is to decrease the font size of pentacronyms and their longer siblings.

    · “Most of Unicef’s work is in the field, with staff in over 190 countries and territories.”
    · “Most of UNICEF’s work is in the field, with staff in over 190 countries and territories.”
    · “Most of UNICEF’s work is in the field, with staff in over 190 countries and territories.”

  12. cyberdiva says:

    Larry, I use the Across Lite version every day (I print out the puzzles and prefer Across Lite), and I don’t recall seeing any NYT puzzle that wasn’t available in that format.

    I really enjoyed today’s NYT puzzle, though I almost gave up at one point because almost no crossings seemed to fit with an answer I was sure of for 23D: ROMANEMPIRE. I didn’t let go of that for the longest time. Sigh. I’ll never learn.

  13. Sue says:

    When my children were struggling with IE spellings, I came up with the following sentence to help them remember some prominent exceptions to the popular “I before E” rule: SEIZE NEITHER of THEIR FOREIGN WEIRDOS LEISURELY. Not politically correct, perhaps, but there you have six very common words, some of which are nicely captured in the puzzle.

  14. Jeffrey says:

    XWordinfo cites 48 appearances of AMER, although this is only the second clued in relation to ascap/Ascap/ASCAP. It has been used by Gorski, Quigley, even Berry.

    ANAL has been clued as ____-retentive twice.

  15. Gareth says:

    THERAPYDOG is my favourite entry of the week so far! Also, shock jock was a nice phrase to build from!

  16. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Thanks for the full scoop, Ethan. OK, I’m ready to follow NYT style on plurals of numbers (already do) and maybe to use the apostrophe for plurals of a single letter (I vary on my usage here).

    @cyberdiva, there have been a few funky puzzles (one? three?) that the Times has released as PDF only thanks to Across Lite’s limits. Crossword Solver (using the .jpz file format) is much more flexible and forgiving, and can clue diagonal answers, leave numbers out of certain squares, etc.—things Across Lite just can’t do. Judging from the Facebook ad I’ve been seeing, the Times is looking to make some improvements to its crossword business—so maybe there will be better accommodation of funky puzzles.

  17. Amy Reynaldo says:

    P.S. Matt Gaffney is a huge chess nut and he never sees the KNT abbreviation either. So my vote is with @pannonica on that one.

  18. The Dude says:

    A more important question:

    Why did the constructor feel satisfied keeping KNT in puzzle?

  19. pannonica says:

    “Acronyms pronounced as words, like AIDS: small caps” – Amy

    Oops, missed that when I first read it, although ethan f’s linked page doesn’t say that and a quick skim of NYT articles on the subject prints them as full-size capital letters.

  20. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    As the article states, four letters or less get all caps; five letters or more get initial caps. AIDS and Nascar.

  21. loren smith says:

    @Amy – my ECOLAW would be to change the back of our toilets. I lived in Japan one summer, and so many toilets had on the top of the tank, where we have our requisite pretty bowl of sea shells, a sink. So you wash your hands in the water that is filling the tank. How smart is that? – saves water AND fills the tank with soapy water! The commodes also had at the flusher thingy the character for “big” and “small,” so that you could do a little flush or a big flush.

  22. *David* says:

    Sam, 5:33, was happy with my time since I didn’t know any of the songs either. Now you know that I am honest or maybe truly deceptive?

  23. pannonica says:

    Martin (non-MAS): Yes, I can read. I was pointing out that what Amy posted (and what I later redundantly suggested) was not in the article, nor evidenced at the NYT.

  24. Jim Horne says:

    Huh. I thought today’s NYT (or according to their guidelines, today’s N.Y.T.) was particularly fun. English is such a fascinatingly bizarre language.

    I seem to enjoy J.K. puzzles more than the bloggers do. Maybe I should start a blog… :)

  25. pannonica says:

    loren smith: Those are available domestically, though I doubt they could be mandated (or even reliably used if they were). http://sinkpositive.com/site/

  26. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    Got it now. I read “small caps” as “all caps.” Sometimes a possible typo self-corrects in the brain.

  27. Martin says:

    @The Dude,

    As pannonical points out, the clue for KNT is arguable but the entry less so. KNT is an accepted abbreviation for “Knight,” the title. It’s not used in the shorthand documentation of chess games, where it’s Kt or N.

    But one can argue that the word is the same, and in the non-technical realm if you can abbreviate one sense of “knight” as “knt” then it should be allowed for other senses. In fact, some dictionaries just give “knt” as an abbreviation for “knight,” regardless of sense.

    I’ll admit it’s an iffy clue, but not an iffy entry.

  28. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I wonder if the NYT has given up on using small caps for things like NATO and AIDS in print. They’re full-size caps on the Web. Anyone have a recent copy of the paper with an article containing a 4-letter acronym?

  29. mitchs says:

    Re FB: “Ole Buttermilk Sky” is an old, pretty famous Hoagy Carmichael tune. That’s the only reason I could fill it right in…never knew what it meant.

  30. Martin says:

    Amy,

    Today’s paper has a number of NATOs and at least one SANA. All full-size caps in the dead-tree edition. All caps but not small caps.

    A quick search of old articles doesn’t turn up small caps. I went back to 1957.

    Also, the actual Manual doesn’t mention them.

  31. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Aw, I’m sad. They had the small caps maybe 5-8 years ago. I like a judicious small-capping.

  32. pannonica says:

    nb: pannonical is not canonical, much as I might like it to be.

  33. Matt says:

    FWIW, ‘buttermilk sky’ is shown here (fig. 12):

    http://docweather.com/2/show/118/

  34. Erik says:

    before i caught onto the NYT theme, i thought the 2 by 2 squares were in fact meant to be circles, or if you will, E-I-E-I O’s.

  35. John Haber says:

    I didn’t like this one. For one thing, the theme meant three entries, not placed symmetrically, not touching the long entries, and leaving the long entries with a cross-reference. (And on top of that it was golf, as ever totally foreign to a New Yorker.) Indeed, I had trouble believing it was a theme at all.

    And yet somehow it got some weird fill. I agree on KNT. And while I’m happy to learn new words (like DURRA), neologisms like ECOLAW just feel like cheats, as did IGN and the Jim Morrison clue and PEDS. I’d instantly entered “Roman empire” as a gimme, so there I can only blame myself, but it didn’t make me more forgiving of the rest of the hunk.

  36. pannonica says:

    BEQ: Not sure, why I know this, but 49d [Joust maker] is Williams, not ATARI.

    Waiting on the Tausig write-up to reveal my picked nit (Martins, stand by).

  37. joon says:

    i normally like joe krozel’s thursday puzzles quite a bit, and his themelesses not so much, because he can come up with innovative, interesting themes (but i’m generally not a fan of the fill in his puzzles). today’s theme … i guess i just didn’t get it. there is a spelling rule, some words that follow the rule, some words that don’t follow the rule … i don’t know. i just feel like i’m missing the punch line.

    better than the CS theme though! 4 bands i’ve neeeeeever heard of, with 4 “hit” songs i’ve neeeeeeever heard of. ugh and double-ugh. am i really that out of touch with popular music, or were these particularly obscure songs?

    FB was kind of a “so what”. as a semi-themeless it wasn’t bad. but 2/3 wildly unfamiliar theme answers … bleagh.

    fortunately, BEQ makes up for everything with a killer puzzle today. i also liked donna’s LAT.

  38. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I cannot restrain intense commentary. I didn’t like the Fireball very much (high BS index), but I must comment on “I didn’t know Myles.” I owe Myles Brand an immense debt of gratitude. He was my colleague as a philosophy graduate student at the University of Rochester in the late 60′s. He was a couple years ahead of me chronologically, light years ahead of me philosophically. I was a mere piano graduate from Juilliard, somehow managing to impersonate a philosophy Ph.D. candidate. He read a couple of my early papers, and was exceedingly complimentary and encouraging. He was very much a mentor to me, and was at least a contributing cause of my deciding that I was not a total impostor, as I feared, but that perhaps I really did belong and should remain in the graduate program.

    I hope I am not speaking out of turn here, but he was also a fixture at our regular Thursday evening beer drinking and philosophy slam get togethers, (along with the poet Anthony Hecht. (The late Anthony Hecht.) In his photographs as President of the University of Indiana, Myles presents this buttoned down, short grey hair, conservative image. But at the time, he had recently been divorced from Wendy, had exuberant, shoulder length, jet black hair, and showed up each week with a different gorgeous young woman (I’m censoring excesses of language here). The only sub- adolescent drinking game I ever indulged in, on one of these occasions, was to drink a jigger of beer a minute, for an hour. (Actually I cheated and poured a lot of foam, so the jiggers were closer to 1 oz. than 1 1/2 oz. So–60 oz in an hour. Too much, but we’re not talking alcohol poisoning here. Who was my comrade in arms and abettor in this enterprise?–You guessed it.

    I exchanged emails with him once, after his diagnosis (pancreatic cancer.) His death affected me more than I would have expected. RIP Myles.

  39. Bruce N. Morton says:

    And, incidentally I liked Joe’s NYT *much* better than the consensus. I thought it was very clever and well-realized, and I am one of those who wonder why his puzzles are so routinely disparaged.

  40. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    This comes up with many games. Williams had the arcade version and Atari had the home version.

  41. pannonica says:

    Ah, okay. But I’d say the arcade game would be the one implied.

    Onward! (Tausig) There is no standard size for a SHOT GLASS, especially in the US (except for those teetotalers in Utah, where it happens to be 1½ ounces). Bruce N. Morton’s reminiscence of Myles Brand coincidentally included mention of a jigger, which is indeed 1½ ounces. The clue should have a qualifier.

  42. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    You’re right in terms of a non-existent NIST shot standard, but if any bar recipe that calls for a “shot,” a 1 1/2 oz. jigger would be the only reasonable interpretation. Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for Ben, who won’t be sleeping for a couple of years, but I’m ok with this one.

  43. Cmm says:

    A “shot” (liquor drank straight) typically depends on the proof of the liquor… 80 proof liquors are are poured as 1 1/4 ounces where 100 proof liquors are 1 ounce… “posi pourers” (a product that pours an amount out of a bottle, then with a couple of ball bearings stops the flow) are 1 1/4 ounces…. But a jigger is 1 1/2 which is used for mixed drinks, typically highballs (two-part cocktails) served in a 10 oz glass (called a highball or Collins glass) filled with ice. Btw “airplane bottles” are 50ml or 1.6 or so ounces… Never understood why even domestic liquor bottles use metric…. Uniformity?

  44. Howard B says:

    With Joon on the Fireball commentary. I had a horrific time with the theme answers and the quantity and knowledge of the niche names in that puzzle. I think it’s because I hold the Fireball to an (exceedingly?) high standard, but I was in quicksand-slogging mode throughout. That said, a rough Fireball is still a comparatively fine puzzle, and this one had a pretty original theme of its type.

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