Friday, 6/15/12

NYT 7:42 
Tausig untimed 
LAT 3:35 
CS 8:31 (Sam) 
WSJ (Friday) 12:15 (pannonica) 

Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 6 15 12 0615

For real? This is a 64-worder? Because it plays a lot more like a 70-worder, with enough fresh, fun answers that I didn’t guess (even with that handful of clunky little answers) that this puzzle fits into the “low word count” category. Each corner has a trio of 9- or 10-letter answers, and there’s a decent amount of flow into each quadrant. Now, that flow may get you into a quadrant, but you won’t necessarily make it to the end that easily. I got confuzzled by 30d: [They're usually found on the margins]. Turned out to be INSET MAPS, but I wasn’t sure about five of the crossings. AEREO or AERIO? WHAPS or WHAMS? IOLA or IOLE? CLOP, is it CLOP?, because I’m not seeing a 30d yet. And 56a: [Big name in salad dressing], KEN’S?!? I buy the salad dressing for my household and that’s not ringing a bell. Just looked at the Ken’s website, and apparently I need to travel to outside the city to Walmart or to grocery chains that don’t exist near me in order to find their balsamic vinaigrette. Bah.

Let’s put down the salad dressing and move on. Likes! I love that top stack of SCARECROWS, TOLEDO OHIO, and I WANT MY MTV. The worst of the crossings is the “pick a partial or crosswordese clue” A LATE, while COMBO MEAL and OHM’S LAW ([I - V/R]) crackle. CALLING IN for a mental health day and SNOWCONES crossing CLOWN clued as a [Coulrophobe's bugaboo] (how can you not love that clue? I mean, assuming you’ve ever seen the word coulrophobia before and remembered its meaning) and restaurateur WOLFGANG [Puck, for one], another nice corner. The old-school name for a tomato, a LOVE APPLE, ushers us into the Florida sector with a POP-UP VIDEO (clued as a modern-day annoyance rather than the old VH1 annotated music video concept) and CHILLAXING. The latter word, clued as [Taking a load off], just means chilling out, vegging, taking it easy (not the unlading sort of “taking a load off”). The New Oxford American Dictionary people do list this word. “ORIGIN: early 21st century: blend of chill and relax.” I use the word myself.

I liked the THREE-HOLE punch and Dionne WARWICK (because I came of age living on Warwick Street) in my Corner of Salad Dressing Doom.

Uh, this TACO PIE? 37d: [Zesty casserole with a crust]? Don’t send me your recipes.

The entries that fall into the “compromises to facilitate a 64-worder” category include, perhaps, AEREO, MAGEE, IOLA, KEN’S, A LATE, SOV, and REDID, and none of these is truly grievous. So I’ll go with 4.33 stars.

P.S. Is it just me or is this a Saturday puzzle slated on a Friday?

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Political Insiders”

Ink Well crossword solution, 6 14 12 "Political Insiders"

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, those pesky secretly funded PACs have been insinuating their tentacles everywhere. Not just throughout the democratic process, but also putting a stranglehold on the Ink Well crossword. Why, this puzzle alone has four PACs behaving as “Political Insiders”:

  • 17a. [Gossip about Benedict XVI?], PAPACY DIRT. What do you hear? Got anything juicy?
  • 28a. [Vacation spot far, far from Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde?], ISLE OF PAC-MAN. You know the adjectival form of Pac-Man, right? Pac-Manx.
  • 42a. [Venomous snake preparing for vacation?], PACKING COBRA. If the cobra is organized like me, she prints out a packing list before each trip to make sure she doesn’t forget anything. Having trouble thinking of what a snake would need to take on vacation, though. Extra mice in case the kids get hungry en route?
  • 56a. [Video game state where your character does a lot of spitting and grazing?], ALPACA MODE. Hoo-boy, things get woolly when you play in alpaca mode.

Good corners with those stacks of 9-letter answers, all six of them excellent fill and with solid crossings (MAIER, 38a: ]Infamous baseball fan Jeffrey], is the iffiest crosser).

Did not know 6a: [Potent weed, slangily], KINE. The word nerd in me hopes that a smaller portion of KINE is called “cow.”

29d. [Addition to my family on 5/31/12] clues SON, referring to Ben’s new baby boy. Congrats to the new parents! They shall sleep again around 2014.

44d. [Museum of Sex subject] clues ORGASM, that’s straightforward enough. But 1d: [Certain 44-Down locale] lands smack dab in the middle of controversy by proclaiming the G-SPOT. There are those who say it doesn’t exist, and those who say the first group just doesn’t know where to look.

Four stars.

Elizabeth G. Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Make Room for Daddy” — pannonica’s review

WSJ • 6/15/12 • "Make Room for Daddy" • Fri • Gorski • solution

Seemingly in honor of Ben Tausig’s new-found (newly-attained?) paternity (see Tausig 29d, above), the theme entries of this puzzle consist of a base phrase welcoming a PA into their midst, and the unusual results are then clued.

  • 23a. [Saffron-flavored dish dedicated to the Queen of Jazz?] (PA)ELLA FITZGERALD.
  • 40a. [Pay-per-view option for can-do subscribers?] CA(PA)BLE TELEVISION. At this point I thought the theme was more impressive, in that the inserted PAs would be advancing two letters with each subsequent entry…
  • 58a. [Five-star entree of angel-hair pasta?] HEAVENLY RE(PA)ST. …but alas, not so.
  • 66a. [Tasteful viewing fare for sommeliers?] THE (PA)LATE SHOW. Say “ahh.”
  • 81a. [Freedom-seeking jailbird's worst nightmare?] (PA)ROLE REVERSAL. Pardon me!
  • 96a. [Persistent girlfriend, in tabloid headlines?] UNMITIGATED GAL(PA)L.
  • 118a. [Soap opera set in a body-treatment business?] DAYS(PA) OF OUR LIVES. Nifty plural-to-singular action.

A rather entertaining bunch, considering the forced nature of such a theme’s mechanics. Sizable, too (17s, 16s, 14s, and 13, to equal107 squares). I appreciate how the PA locations are varied: at the beginnings of words, in the middle of words, between words, and pretty much throughout the lengths of the themers. The only obvious spot missing a PA is the very end of one of the phrases, and that’s nigh-impossible; the only words or phrases of any length that end that way are a few taxonomic binomials, phi beta kappa, and some Incan words, and none of them make any sense without the PA.

More coincidence with other puzzles appearing today, including another CLOP at 85a (An Echo of Hooves*?) 67d POP-UP AD (vs. POP-UP VIDEO), and perhaps some others, but I’m starting to fade and am feeling out of SYNC (110a).

Longfill roundup: fun HIPPIE CHIC and HOT MUSTARD and not-all-that-lengthy SPLOTCH, good SKI LODGE, SLEUTHS (Hammer and Spade), and SPRAY-ON, okay ALKALIS and IN DROVES. DRAMEDY (cross-referenced with GLEE) is way cooler than WAY COOL.

Moderate (but not quite low enough for my liking) CAP Quotient™, frequent playful and/or tricky cluing, and good theme add up to an above-average puzzle.

Oh. With I–LA– in place for 77d [It's Arabic for "submission"] I almost completed it as IN-LAW, not ISLAM. Yep, time to call it quits.
_____

*June Tabor, born in Warwick, England. Coincidence!

Updated Friday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Parental Consent” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 15

Any misgivings I had about solving a crossword with a quote theme were allayed when I saw the quote came from Bill Cosby, one of my favorite comedians. As Bill Cosby jokes go, this one is middle of the road (though it does have the benefit of breaking symmetrically): WE ARE THE / ONLY / ANIMALS / THAT LET / OUR KIDS / COME / BACK HOME.

I like the quadruple-stacked 6s in two corners. That arrangement in the northeast corner, UNTOLD, NORWAY, SVELTE, and TEASER, is especially lovely. (And hey, the other stack has POOPED, which makes it an automatic winner too.)

Not surprisingly, there were a number of fun clues here. My favorites:

  • [It may have a black eye] for PEA.
  • [Well-armed deep-sea denizens] for OCTOPI.
  • [Course that shows what you're made of, briefly] for ANAT.
  • [Take in take-out] for EAT.
  • [Due for a change?] for WET.

HARRIDAN, the [Shrew], was new to me, but I don’t get out very much. It may well be I have known a number of harridans over the years but just never knew it.

Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 6 15 12

The theme takes phrases in which the first word ends with -SS and the second word starts with S- and deletes that last S:

  • 17a. [A pint to drown your sorrows?], DISTRESS ALE. I’m not sure what “distress sale” sale means. To the dictionary! “A sale of goods or assets at reduced prices to raise much-needed funds.”
  • 27a. [Great diner food?], FIRST-CLASS EATS. “First-class seats” are the ones with more elbow room and knee space on an airplane.
  • 44a. [Filmed scenes from a Triple Crown event?], PREAKNESS TAKES. The Preakness Stakes is/are a horse race.
  • 59a. [What a hamster wheel requires?], ENDLESS PACE. Is “endless space” actually an in-the-language phrase? It’s not ringing a bell.

The fill had a bit of an older feel to it, with schnozz-OLA, B-SIDE, MERV Griffin, GO FLY A KITE, MANSES, CLARET, and KEWPIE doll all embodying a retro vibe.

Freshest clue: [Brooklyn hoopsters] for the NETS, who just moved from New Jersey. So Brooklyn now has NBA hoopsters as well as a surfeit of hipsters. Can the borough survive?

Surprised to see TILDES, the Spanish accent marks in año and señora, clued as [Math squiggles]. As in “I’ve blogged ~9,000 crosswords.”

I wasn’t crazy about the theme, particularly 59a, and not much in the rest of the puzzle sang to me. Three stars.

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42 Responses to Friday, 6/15/12

  1. joon says:

    i loved this knotty puzzle, but yikes, yes, it’s a saturday.

  2. Alex says:

    Obligatory XKCD reference is obligatory.

    Good to see the dentist back in action. Is it just me or has it been a long time since his last puzzle?

  3. janie says:

    wow. and to me it felt like a perfect friday — meaning i completed it in one sitting; it took me less than 20 minutes (no speed solver i); and so much of the fill gave me lots to smile about.

    go figger!

    ;-)

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Took a while but a fun ride. Would have helped if I could have figured out the ____OHIO city. My mother was from TOLEDO. Doh!

  5. ktd says:

    Took me forever to finish the top left corner–only thing that jumped out was OHM’S LAW (science!!). I kept trying to put VALUE MEAL in for COMBO MEAL. It wasn’t until I cracked COWER (first thought BIRDS, then VERBS) that it all came together

  6. granbaer says:

    Felt like a Saturday to me, too. Really bogged down in the northwest corner also. Have to say that the cluing is original, but is chillaxing a word? And I always thought they were called snocomes, without the w.

  7. T Campbell says:

    “The only obvious spot missing a PA is the very end of one of the phrases, and that’s nigh-impossible; the only words or phrases of any length that end that way are a few taxonomic binomials, phi betta kappa, and some Incan words, and none of them make any sense without the PA.”

    DAYS(PA) is right above this paragraph. Many phrases end in DAYS. There’s also simply S(PA) and G(PA), which could work by pulling a letter off the preceding word (as arguably happens if you think of DAY S(PA) as two words). Then there’s GRAM(PA) and GRAND(PA), as in COMPUTER PRO GRAMPA and MAKE A HUNDRED, GRANDPA.

    Plus POP(PA), which might be a dud with MOM AND POPPA but could get you places with EMO POPPA, EURO POPPA, SODA POPPA or TOOTSIE POPPA, if you’re willing to use a shorter phrase or two.

    I dunno if distributing the (PA) everywhere in the resulting phrases should be a goal or not, but if you want it, there are plenty of ways to get there.

  8. Gareth says:

    I looked at the byline and knew Saturday had come early for me! I’ve never met a Diehl I haven’t had to wrestle to finish! This was confirmed when I found no long across gimmes, though downs did yield valueMEnu, OHMSLAW, LOVEAPPLE and WARrICK. Curious if anyone else paralleled my progress at 6D: VALUEMENU/VALUEMEAL/JUMBOMEAL/COMBOMEAL… [Ktd, I see you!] I resisted 52A and I’m still not convinced, why is your ad-blocker blocking a cheesy 90′s VH1 show? (Still nice symmetry with IWANTMYMTV!) Top-right corner was my bugaboo: I’d finished everywhere else except 2 squares (TA of TACO…) and all I had was LEON/MOTIVE/VINES… Mystery names and tough clues, plus couldn’t dredge up coulrophobe till I had “CL”. Eventually guessed CALLINGIN and CRAFTIER. WOLFGANG appeared on letter pattern – the only Puck I know lives in Pook’s Hill! Otherwise, I echo the sentiments of Amy’s first paragraph!

  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I loved this puzzle, notwithstanding the annoyances (34, 36, 46d; 18a; chillaxing. (SEE–My spell checker doesn’t believe it either.} Kings of Leon?????? I wonder if that’s Kings of Lee-on or Lay-own.

    Delighted at the Anton Webern appearance, and, as the proud new possessor of an IPOD, (which hasn’t kept me up at night yet), I was even moved to put on his Concerto for 9 Instruments, and Symphonie, which I’m sure helped me get through the grid quite efficiently. I think there’s some mysterious affinity between the rigor and precision of his music and that of a well-crafted crossword. I like his music in small doses (which is the way it comes.) As Shaw said about Wagner, “His music is not as bad as it sounds.”

    NW was actually the first and easiest for me; SW the last and hardest. I’m not fluent in Spanish, but somehow I’ve seen lots of “Correo Aereo” cards (Posta Aereo in Italian), so that and 28d were the gimmes that got me into the section. And Ken’s is probably my favorite brand of commercial salad dressings. Also loved the LAT. The theme worked for me.

  10. Daniel Myers says:

    Oh, the perils of being overly Shakespearean! 31A! Puck just HAD to be some sort of recondite synonym for fairy or sprite, hockey notwithstanding. Thus, it took me a few extra moments to break into the NE corner. But I do not reprehend. A most pleasing puzzle, forsooth!

  11. Howard B says:

    Felt Saturday-ish. Nice one and loved the MTV/POP-UP VIDEO pairing.
    @Bruce: The DJ’s I’ve heard pronounce Kings of Leon strongly as “Lee-On”, strangely enough. I find them personally to be equally as bad as they sound, but that’s my personal biased opinion; I never did get their style, although they did get me a nice foothold into this puzzle.

  12. AV says:

    T Campbell kinda beat me to it. I was thinking BABY GRANDPA (clued: Benjamin Button, e.g.?)

  13. Anoa Bob says:

    @Bruce N. Morton: “As Shaw said about Wagner, ‘His music is not as bad as it sounds.’” Priceless! I hadn’t heard that one before. Thanks for introducing me to it. Made my morning.

  14. Gareth says:

    Grandpa is a dud, as the “pa” part maintains its “pa” meaning, unlike in all of Liz’s answers…

  15. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Hey, look! Glen Bell’s Taco Bell offers a Beefy Nacho Burrito with “crunchy nacho chips, covered in warm nacho cheese sauce” with beef and sour cream: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/06/dipn-chickn-popeyes-mcdonalds

  16. Martin says:

    A little bit of Mexico.

    BTW, for years Topolabampo has been my favorite Mexican restaurant in the US. People thought I was nuts for eating Mexican in Chicago. Then Rick Bayless became a foodie god. But it’s still a great place.

  17. Martin says:

    “… with “crunchy nacho chips”

    Aha!

    -MAS

  18. Martin says:

    MAS,

    I think that was Amy’s point. :)

  19. Martin says:

    I know… I just couldn’t resist ;)

    -MAS

  20. Martin says:

    Martin,

    This came up yesterday in a discussion of left-turn-on-red (allowed in most US states from one way to one way). From Wikipedia:

    In Canada, left turn on red light from a one-way road into a one-way road is permitted except in some areas of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Left turn on red light from a two-way road into a one-way road is permitted in British Columbia, but only if the driver turns onto the closest lane and yields to pedestrians and cross traffic.

    The obvious question is why that last clause about BC? Is yielding to pedestrians and cross traffic when making a left turn optional in the rest of Canada? Are BC drivers more considerate than the average Canadian, and so BC codifies the reality? Or are BC drivers so crazed that they need explicit laws prohibiting running down pedestrians in every imaginable situation?

  21. M says:

    Re Klahn’s, technically the Cosby observation is not a “quote”. The quote would be: “Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.”

    Also, thumbs down for OCTOPI for a third declension noun plural.

  22. Martin says:

    OCTOPI is not Latin, but neither is “octopus.” (“Octopi” is English and “octopus” is Greek.) The pedantic plural (to quote Fowler) is “octopodes,” which is true to the Greek and third-declension New Latin, if you consider it a Scientific Latin loanword.

    The best English plural is “octopuses.” Having said that, all English dictionaries include the hypercorrective “octopi,” with varying degrees of moaning. OCTOPI is an accepted English word with a weird etymology. And it’s the only inflected form of octopus you’re likely to encounter in a crossword.

  23. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Latin nouns with the masculine nominative singular ending ‘us’ are generally 2nd, not 3rd declension. The 3rd is something of a catch-all, with several different nominative masculine singular forms.

    2.At any rate, the etymology of “octopus” is Greek, not Latin. (“Pus”, a root meaning “foot”, as in “Oedipus.”) If anything, the plural would be “octopodes.”

  24. John Haber says:

    Was a Saturday for me, too, and not an enjoyable one. Tons of proper names, plus cues from fast-food culture, MTV, “chillaxing,” you name it. And the plain obscurity of “Coulrophobe.”

    FWIW, I think of insets as way of avoiding placing something in the margins.

  25. jefe says:

    That bastard Jeffrey Maier. Was a gimme for me, unfortunately.

  26. Daniel Myers says:

    Hm, I come back to the board and OCTOPUS is all the rage! To stick my two πόδές in: Whoever the “modern Latinist” is who put OCTOPUS in the third declension is daft, daft, daft! S/he apparently did so for the sole reason that the plural would agree with the Greek. There simply are no “-US” nouns in the Nominative Singular Third Declension in non-”Modern Latin”. It would have to be 2nd or 4th declension. If 4th, the plural of OCTOPUS would be, well, OCTOPUS. Bruce is spot-on!

  27. pannonica says:

    Good ones, T Campbell! I’ll say that I was shutting down and not thinking flexibly enough, but who knows how true that is?

    “Coulrophobia” is not obscure to me. Oh, definitely not. But more by way of m-w’s sense 2:

    –phobia
    1: exaggerated fear of <acrophobia>
    2: intolerance or aversion for <photophobia>

  28. Martin says:

    S/he apparently did so for the sole reason that the plural would agree with the Greek.

    Uh, yes. That was the idea. It’s a damned Greek word, but we need to make it Latin or we can’t talk about its taxonomy. That’s the daft bit. Doing it with the minimum amount of fuss seems elegant.

  29. pannonica says:

    Tausig/Ink Well:

    50a [Like some owls and toads] HORNED. Horned (or horny) toads are lizards, but I suppose it’s arguable that some actual toads might look a little bit horned? And of course those owls’ horns are just tufts, but it is part of their vernacular name. Or am I missing something obvious?

    Phrynosoma cornutum = “horned toad-body.”

  30. Martin says:

    We try to teach people not to call them jellyfish, but they refuse to listen to reason. Same with horned toads. We have some around here, but they seem to be disappearing. All I see normally are fence lizards and skinks.

    Yes, that all there is to it: great horned owls and horned toads are horned.

  31. Daniel Myers says:

    Martin,

    In case it has escaped your attention, I happen to like a bit of fuss now and then.;-) “Fusty, musty, dusty” am I, and I’ll give up being so – for a time – if anyone can name the semi-quasi-pseudo-literary character who is wont to repeat those three adjectives!

    Hint: It’s a mouse.

  32. pannonica says:

    Yes, Martin, but my point is that no one is going to clue a jellyfish as a fish (notwithstanding the repetition). I meant to say that the clue just needed the toad in quotes to be acceptable.

  33. ktd says:

    @Martin: Whoever tells you that you can’t find good Mexican food in Chicago is dead wrong. And it’s not just Rick Bayless: I’ve probably been to 15-20 excellent Mexican restaurants all over the city, many of them little hole-in-the-wall taquerias. Don’t forget the food trucks, too–one of my favorite lunches the past month has been tamales from a truck that parks near my work every few days.

  34. Martin says:

    Daniel,

    Kiki was parrot. You sure there’s a mouse too?

  35. Ari says:

    I really liked today’s NYT. I absolutely agree with Janie. I felt the same way. I completed it in one sitting and some great phrases. I did put in VALUEMEAL and originally had ICANTGETUP as the 80s phrase “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”. Though thinking about it now, probably 90s. Also, I literally thought this last week: “I wonder when chillaxong

  36. Ari says:

    Cont’d… “I wonder when chillaxing is going to make it into a puzzle.”. Accidentally hit publish before. Whoops.

  37. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    I see your point. It’s an implied “kind of” clue. (By convention “Kind of toad” is an acceptable clue for HORNED.) Having the owl in there would make that precision tough. I agree that “toad” would have made the clue more precise. I’m not sure I agree it would have been a better clue that way, which I guess means I think the clue is acceptable as is. I tend to dislike it much more when a clue’s imprecision makes it hard to get the entry. No harm, no foul on a nit that originates in an incorrect common name.

  38. Daniel Myers says:

    Martin,

    LOL-That’ll teach me to spout off quotes from books I haven’t read since my pre-teens. Kiki it is, and a parrot, created by Enid Blyton. Quite right. I don’t know why I rememered it as this mouse by the name of Reepicheep created by Cive Staples L..

  39. pannonica says:

    Ari: You can edit your comments for the first 30 minutes after posting.

  40. Zulema says:

    To add to what Daniel said, the Greek word for Octopus is ΧΤΑΠΟΔΙ. Πουσ or ποδοσ is foot, but I don’t believe there was such an animal or a word for it in Ancient Greece or, for that matter, in Classical Latin. The word as we know it is New Latin and New Latinists created a derivation based on Greek forms.

    Put me down with those who had a hard time in the NW, but I thought many of the entries were spectacular. I was not happy with the clue for SCARECROW – perverse.

  41. pannonica says:

    Linguistics aside, I can’t imagine the ancient Greeks and Romans didn’t know about our (yummy (and intelligent)) cephalopod buddies.

  42. Zulema says:

    They are certainly dense around Greece now.

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