Sunday, 7/29/12

NYT 9:23 
Reagle 6:44 
LAT 10:35 (Jeffrey-paper) 
Hex/Hook 9:55 (pannonica) 
WaPo (Doug) 
CS 8:43 (Sam) 

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Bloomers I’d Like to See”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 7 29 12 "Bloomers I'd Like to See"

I enjoyed this week’s goofy flower theme. Not so wild about the rest of the fill, but all these words that sound like flower names connected with me:

  • 18a. [Favorite flowers of actress Nixon?], CYNTHIAS. Forsythias, perhaps?
  • 20a. [Flowers that photograph well?], FOCUSES. Crocuses, nonflowery ficuses.
  • 21a. [Flowers that people often trip over?], drug PARAPHERNALIA. Not sure what flower this one’s supposed to evoke.
  • 33a. Flowers in a Judy garland?], RUBY SLIPPERS. Lady’s-slippers.
  • 44a. [Flower that elicits a strong reaction?], TARNATION. Carnation.
  • 54a. [Flowers that smell like dirty socks?], GYMNASIUMS. Maybe nasturtiums?
  • 57a. [Favorite flowers of sultans?], CONCUBINES. Columbines.
  • 65a. [Flowers that bloom after a thunderstorm?], LIGHTNING RODS. No idea on the flower here.
  • 76a. [Flower found only in the Rockies?], BULLWINKLE. Periwinkle, with added Rocky & Bullwinkle charm.
  • 81a. [Flower that appeals to the little guy?], HOMUNCULUS. Ranunculus. Homunculus is one of my favorite words.
  • 89a. [Flowers for secretaries?], MEMORANDA. Jacaranda.
  • 96a. [Flowers for developers?], CONDOMINIUMS. Am blanking on a flower that sounds similar. Delphiniums, chrysanthemums?
  • 114a. [Flower related to the stinkweed?], MORNING BREATH. Ha! Morning glory meets baby’s breath.
  • 117a. [Favorite flowers of activist Bloomer?], AMELIAS. Camellias.
  • 119a. [Flower that comes out only at night?], INSOMNIA. No idea.

Fifteen fun (to me) theme entries fill up a good chunk of the grid. The interstitial material is less redolent. ODIC, SENDEE, BAHIA, E MIN, SERAC? All those theme entries keep other long fill out of the puzzle, and we’re left with a slew of shorter blah stuff, partials and whatnot.

Mystery item: 58d. [1969 Guess Who hit], UNDUN.

Favorite clue: 6a. [Great white parts], JAWS. Those white parts are great, aren’t they?

3.5 stars.

Kevin Der’s New York Times crossword, “Debut Promos at the World’s Fair”

NYT crossword solution, 7 29 12

Neat trivia theme that makes a puzzle out of the promotional lures used to whip fairgoers into a frenzy. ["Bring your dogs to our booth" (Philadelphia, 1876)] … hot dogs, not pet dogs, and HEINZ KETCHUP, a Philadelphia concoction. ["Get an inside look at our booth (Buffalo, 1901)]? X-RAY MACHINE! Some used enough leading words, or had time/place connections, and weren’t that hard to figure out. Others were more surprising, such as ["You've gotta get your hands on this" (Knoxville, 1982)] for a TOUCH SCREEN. My, that technology has come a long way in 30 years. Whereas the ketchup has plateaued.

The other technical and culinary marvels introduced at the World’s Fair include the TELEPHONE, TYPEWRITER, “HUMANOID ROBOT” (what??), ICE CREAM CONE, WALL OUTLET, FERRIS WHEEL (Chicago, represent!), ESCALATOR, and IMAX THEATER. But there’s nothing from the ’64 World’s Fair except your memories of Ana Ng, who may or may not have not sat on that bench at the DuPont Pavilion.

Kevin finds space amid the 11 theme answers for a few juicy entries, such as HATE MAIL, OLE MISS, SHARK TALE, and STIR IT UP. There were also a few “Huh?” moments for me:

  • 61d. [Mezzo-soprano in "Don Carlos"], EBOLI. This answer’s usually clued with reference to Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli. The opera clue has surfaced on occasion–in 1994, 1998, and 2009.
  • 100d. [Female counselor], EGERIA. One prior appearance in the NYT, plus two old Merl Reagle puzzles (and Merl supplemented with the “anagram of I AGREE” hint). If you didn’t know this … word? name? whatever it is, don’t worry. I don’t think any less of you.

All right, back to the Olympics. Those boats aren’t going to row themselves, you know. 3.5 stars.

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Dog Days of Summer” – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times Sunday Jul 29 2012 crossword solution

Theme: Heated Answers

Theme answers:

  • 23A. [Cozy sensations] – WARM FUZZIES
  • 33A. [Turkey site] – ROASTING PAN
  • 49A. [One may be set in a race] – BLISTERING PACE
  • 91A. [Stock held by a fence] – HOT MERCHANDISE
  • 105A. [Place for future cookies] – BAKING SHEET
  • 121A. [Mae West attribute] – SULTRY VOICE
  • 3D. [Crucial topic] – BURNING ISSUE
  • 66D. [Critical threshold] – BOILING POINT

So adjective meaning hot followed by noun in a phrase with a non-temperature related meaning. Nothing wrong with that, but you won’t remember the puzzle tomorrow.

Other stuff:

  • 15D. ["Lido Shuffle" singer Boz] – SCAGGS
  • 17D. [Welcoming sight?] – OPEN ARMS
  • 41D. [Ancient adder] – ABACUS. I own an ABACUS. So when the zombie apocalypse arrives, I will still be able to do math!
  • 42D. [Baseball div.] – NL EAST. Home of the Montreal Expos.
  • 77D. [Island band The __ Men] – BAHA. You wouldn’t! I would because I am…
  • 88D. [Outrageously wicked] – DIABOLIC
  • 101D. [Niagara Falls prov.] – ONT. Canada. We have universal health care and the good falls.
  • 109D. [Austrian singer Lenya] – LOTTE
  • 120D. [Itinerary word] – VIA
  • 122D. [Intl. broadcasting initials] – VOA
  • 124D. [It's not really a word] – VUA

That’s all I got.

Mike Shenk’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 121″ – Doug’s review

Mike Shenk's Washington Post solution 7/29/12, "The Post Puzzler No. 121"

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. Many thanks to Neville and Joon for filling in for me the past couple of weeks.

I’ve got a mild case of food poisoning this weekend, so this is going be short & sweet.

  • 28a. [You can make arrangements for them] - VASES. I originally put ROSES here. So close, yet so wrong.
  • 25a. [One could give you a check] - MOVE. I was going to say that I didn’t understand this clue, but I think I just figured it out. Chess, right? This clue, along with my ROSES entry, made this section of the puzzle a real brain-breaker.

Other goodies: DOMAIN NAME, BELA BARTOK, PASADENA, MYANMAR . OK, I’m going back to bed. Hope you enjoyed the puzzle.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Sunday crossword, “Not John Smith” — pannonica’s review

Hex/Hook • 7/29/12 • "Not John Smith" • Cox, Rathvon • solution

The four long theme answers comprise a pair of superficially incongruous bits of knowledge.

  • 26a & 46a. [First Internet factoid…] THE MOST COMMON NAME | IN THE WORLD IS MOHAMMED.
  • 78a & 102a. [Second Internet factoid…] THE MOST COMMON SURNAME | IN THE WORLD IS CHANG.

Taken together, they of course prompt the question, how many Mohammed Changs are there in the world? The variation I heard when I was young involved Mohammed and Smith; I suppose that was before China became important again to Americans.

On the one hand I like the syntactical symmetry of the two “factoids”—which is made possible by MOHAMMED being three letters longer than CHANG and SURNAME having the same relationship to NAME—but on the other hand it makes for a lot of duplication between them. Presumably the tallies include all transliterated spellings of the two names (Mohammad, Muhammad, Muhammed, Mohamed, Mohamad, et al., and Ch’ang, Zhang, Soeng, Seong, Sheung, Cheung, Chong, Tong, Tsong, et al.). The US Census bureau, at least, treats name variations as separate entities, although they can be synonymized for analytic purposes. The point is that it’s all a bit fuzzy. Perhaps this is why they’re introduced as factoids (= having the semblance of fact, as per my rigorous definition) derived from the Internet (which is not always the most reliable or authoritative source).

Also, my initial misreading was that they were the first two pervasive facts to appear on the internet, as little sense as that makes.

Moving on,

  • 8-across, the second entry in the grid, is [Resembling a Nile viper] ASPISH, which is a legitimate but uncommon word, and a little disconcerting to see so early on.
  • Just below that is [Humble home] for LEAN-TO, which in my book is a very humble home. Not a bad temporary shelter, though.
  • Back to the northwest, 2d WETHER is one of those words that is only encountered in crosswords and among specialists (farmers and veterinarians, in this case). Nifty pairing of 3d & 4d ARTERY and DRUMBEAT, [Line from the heart] and [ Rhythmic thumping].
  • Still in the same area, I need to compliment the constructors’ navigation of some tricky territory. 5d [Jurassic critters] DINOS and the cross-referenced 8d [5-Down example] ALLOSAUR. The term Jurassic was latterly popularized by Michael Crichton and his Jurassic Park franchise, but as many paleontologists have pointed out, it’s a bit of a misnomer since most of the creatures portrayed therein are of the Cretaceous Period, which followed the Jurassic. This however is not to say that dinosaurs were not present during the Cretaceous—they most certainly were—and Allosaurus was in fact a “critter” of the late Jurassic.
  • The ICE AGE (109a), at least the famous one, the one that can be described in the generic, is much more recent; the clue is even more generic than that, asking only for a [Long cold spell]. I can easily imagine a narrative there in Row 19: TIRADE / ICE AGE / SLOE GIN. The emotional outburst, the calming down, segueing metaphorically and visually to the chilled preparation of a cocktail.
  • 113a ["Color of the Year" company"] is PANTONE, which has long had an undisputed dominance in the design industry, at least as far as color is concerned. The chosen hue for 2012 is Tangerine Tango.
  • 27d [Jazz ensemble]. You know you’ve got cruciverbal toxicity when you see this clue and –O––– and you immediately plunk down NONET instead of COMBO.
  • Speaking of crosswordy familiars, this grid as both common four-letter peaks OSSA and ETNA, at 31a and 63d. Oregon’s Mt. HOOD can go sulk in the corner.
  • The vertical triple-eight stacks in the NE and SW are nice, even if they consist principally of common letters: ONE ALARM / NONSENSE / ASSUAGED, and THE TATES /HEMATITE / ELECTRON.
  • 13d HORNBEAM is a [Birch family member] and is sometimes called ironwood, which would also be pretty good fill.
  • Favorite bit: the symmetrical pair of FLAMENCO dance and CASEMENT window.

The minimal theme allows for a robust and fluid puzzle, which is even more palatable thanks to the solid cluing.

Updated Sunday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, July 29

Here’s a 70/30 freestyle puzzle that was both Monday-easy and Saturday-hard (for me at least). Some of the answers I couldn’t type fast enough, but others needed a lot of crossings before they fell. Let’s start with the easy stuff:

  • As a long-time Barry Manilow fan (no, really), there’s just about no easier clue for a piano ACCOMPANIST than [Barry Manilow, to Bette Midler, in the early 1970s].
  • The [Realtor-hosted event] is an OPEN HOUSE.
  • One who has [Reversed an unfavorable situation] has TURNED THE TABLES.
  • With six letters, the ["Twelve Steps" org.] had to be AL-ANON.

Then there was the harder stuff:

  • I took the last word in [Freebie from a jerk] to mean an ass, an unkind person. I’ve been doing this long enough, you’d think, to catch on more quickly that the “jerk” in question was instead a soda jerk, meaning the answer is a SODA STRAW.
  • I’ll just have to take your word for it that a [High-ranking fellow] is a GRANDEE. Is that two words–a GRAND EE? A GRANDE E?
  • I thought the [Sport played on a dirt court] was spelled BOCCI, not BOCCIE.
  • I’m not proud of this, but I thought the first word in [Narwhal feature] was a place, not an animal. So TUSK took a while to suss out.
  • The only term for ["Holy mackerel!"] starting with a J that I could think of was JIMINY CRICKET. I’m happy I got the JIMINY part right away, but since I thought the answer to [DJs spin them] was LPS, I got stuck with JIMINY L-, and CRICKET didn’t take up all of the remaining squares. Only after I changed LPS to CDS did I finally see JIMINY CHRISTMAS. Loved the answer, though.
  • Does BAD ONE feel a tad arbitrary to anyone else? It’s a logical answer to [Disreputable person], but it just feel as “in the language” as we might normally like.

Favorite entry = WALKS ON. Favorite clue = ["Last chance to bid..."] for GOING.

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15 Responses to Sunday, 7/29/12

  1. Jeffrey says:

    And no mention of the two World’s Fairs that I attended: Montreal ’67 and Vancouver ’86. Still loved the puzzle.

  2. John E says:

    I got stuck on “Met somebody?” – figured out the opera part quickly but then thought “somebody” would mean a person participating in the opera…so tried “DIVA”, “STAR” – just seems strange that the somebody would refer to an attendee.

  3. Al Sanders says:

    I remember talking to someone in Chicago on an AT&T Picturephone at Hemisfair ’68 in San Antonio. At the time, we were all sure that was going to be the wave of the future.

  4. RK says:

    NYTimes: HeShe is an inclusive pronoun? Really? Needed a touch of help to finish the northeast though spelling refuel as refeul didn’t help.

    Is it considered cheating if you look up a proper name clue/answer? Lol I mean, puzzles become much harder if you’re stuck and proper names abound.

  5. Travis says:

    I was sure 1a was wrong. How do you call a zone that includes Australia, but not Israel/Armenia/Kazakhstan/Azerbaijan/Georgia/Russia “Asia” with a straight face? And yet, FIFA seems to on various parts of its website.

  6. RK says:

    Curoius if anyone does the Puzzler at The Washington Post. That’s a really tough crossword.

  7. seahedges says:

    In French, the composer of “Rhapsodies roumaines” is Georges Enesco. In English, the composer of “Romanian Rhapsodies” is George Enescu. French usage, like British usage, is quite alright if hinted at in the clue. As the “-cu” ending might give rise to snickers at the Sorbonne, the composer wisely altered it to less punworthy “-co,” for his decades-long sojourn in Paris.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enescu

  8. Huda says:

    NYT– Very interesting puzzle! Can I assume that the clues are made up rather than the real promos?

    When I was a kid, there was an annual international fair in Damascus and it was my absolute favorite place to go. Right on the river (which actually had a lot of water back then). One of the things I remember is how BOXY everything was in the Soviet booth compared to the sleekness of American stuff.

    Mark my words, touch screen TVs will be commonplace soon. How do I know? From watching my 2 year old grandson last night. They were playing silly YouTube videos that he likes to dance to on their TV screen, and whenever he wanted something to replay, he touched the specific icon on the screen. Steve Jobs is still alive in the minds of 2 year olds!

    EGERIA sounds like an age-related disorder. Favorite entry in the puzzle: FAKE IT!

  9. Gareth says:

    Yes interesting array of debuts arrayed in the nyt. Didn’t the ferris wheel escape its “moorings” and kill people though? I think i heard that on qi. I only know Marley’s Stir It Up, not Nashes, so that was confusing!

  10. Jan (danjan) says:

    If your HEINZ KETCHUP has plateaued, try adding a couple of drops of black truffle oil to it, and it will reach a whole new level.

  11. I kept trying to fill in wEINer….something (shnitzel wouldn’t fit, and also that came from, shockingly, Vienna) for 59A n the NYT. Finally replaced it with HEINZ KETCHUP after running the alphabet to get RAH.

  12. Martin says:

    “2d WETHER is one of those words that is only encountered in crosswords and among specialists (farmers and veterinarians, in this case)”

    … or anyone who uses the word “bellwether”.

    -MAS

  13. pannonica says:

    Martin: Oh yes, there is that. I might have possibly once kind have known that.

    Incidentally, I really liked the silly “flower” names in the Reagle, and don’t care whether they’re supposed to be related to actual flora. It’s the spirit of the thing, they do sound plausible and feel playful rather than forced, as typical puns often do. That said, I’d wager LIGHTNING RODS is a riff on goldenrod. Like Amy, also not sure about PARAPHERNALIA.

  14. joon says:

    here are some of my own guesses, in increasing order of spectulativeness:

    GYMNASIUMS geraniums
    CONDOMINIUMS chrysanthemums
    INSOMNIA zinnia

  15. Huda says:

    danJan, that seems sacrilegious!

Comments are closed.