Friday, 9/14/12

NYT 5:45 
LAT 5:53 (Gareth) 
CS 5:32 (Sam) 
CHE tru:ant? 
WSJ (Friday) 11:18 (pannonica) 

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 14 12 0914

I liked a bunch of the clues and long answers here, but I’m having trouble getting past the crossing that marked the last square I filled in. 39a: ORMER, [Alternative name for abalone], and 26d: INTERLINER, [One making a coat warmer, say]? Both entries making their crossword debut (both are NYT debuts and neither appears in the Cruciverb database). These aren’t the sort of words that are enriching me, I don’t think. They’re kinda ugly.

Top clues, favorite fill:

  • 1a. [Colorado state song composer], JOHN DENVER. I don’t usually think of him as a “composer.” He was more of a human Muppet.
  • 23a. [Coke user's activity], SMELTING. Steel mills, not cocaine action.
  • 34a. [Players who made a historic touchdown in 1964], BEATLES. Not football players, not astronauts or pilots. No relation to 44a: [Come together], which clues GEL rather than BEATLES EXHORTATION.
  • 36a. GET MARRIED. ELOPE appears in approximately 200 times as many crosswords.
  • 51a. COCONUT OIL has become a trendy cooking fat. Uh, [Natural hair conditioner]? I hadn’t heard.
  • 58a. PAUL REVERE is a solid answ—oh! Look at that! There’s a theme. PAUL REVERE is opposite JOHN DENVER, and the other corner answers are GEORGETOWN ([Guyanese capital]) and Johnny Cash’s RING OF FIRE ([What "burns, burns, burns" in a hit country song]). John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Sneaky, Mr. Collins, very sneaky.
  • 11d. CUTS IN LINE, v. rude. Unless you saved a place in line for me.
  • 12d. I am a huge fan of the ORGAN DONOR concept (those of you who have type O blood, keep hydrating those kidneys!), but the clue feels off to me. [Notice on a driver's license] doesn’t quite match up.
  • 24d. Love the word MOTLEY. Should use it in crossword reviews more often.

In the motley “meh” category are IT GO, plural NTS (what, so MSDOSES and IOS5S and WINDOWS7S would be kosher?), the APPLE CORES clue [Delicious leftovers] (yum, tasty carpels, pips, and stems!), two male ALMAS, LER (looking so lost without OOX, TEP, and NON), and OPA. I’m also not convinced that the LOST BALLOT clue is quite right: [Its discovery may result in a recount]. Wouldn’t you just add 1 to the count for each selected candidate, rather than recounting all the ballots?

4.5 stars for an apparently themeless puzzle with five theme answers, with a 1-star deduction for the ORMER/INTERLINER offense. 3.5ish stars.

Updated Friday morning:

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, September 14

Hmm, today’s installment of Name That Puzzle will be interesting to say the least, since going into this write-up I have no idea about the puzzle’s theme. It appears there are four theme entries:

  • 20-Across: A [Rebus, e.g.] is a PICTURE PUZZLE.
  • 27-Across: To [Imitate a lonely coyote] is to BAY AT THE MOON.
  • 43-Across: [Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, for one] refers to a POWER FORWARD, or, as it’s known in basketball circles, “the four.”
  • 51-Across: To [Attempt to invade] is to STORM THE GATES.

I’m reasonably sure the theme relates to the first word in each theme entry. If it was the last word, surely there are less cumbersome entries ending in MOON and GATES. But entries starting with BAY and STORM are rarer. So what do PICTURE, BAY, POWER, and STORM have in common? That’s the tricky part. Let me think about this.

Ooh, hold on. Windows! (I got that from BAY). There’s a picture window, a bay window, modern cars will have at least one power window, and a storm window. So the puzzle’s title will probably contain “window.” I like Window Treatments. I thought of Windows to the Soul, but that connotes some connection to eyes or, at the very least, a soul. And that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Windows Upgrade also seemed a bit too cute. So I’m sticking with Window Treatments.

Well, it’s actually “Window Boxes.” I’m guessing the “boxes” is a reference to the squares in a crossword grid. Is it something else?

The fill was fine, highlighted by SIMPLY RED, HOW’S THAT, STEPS OUT, NO RUSH, and VITAL SIGN. The clues were neither clunky nor sparkly, so it’s a serviceable puzzle for a carefree solving experience.

Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

First off, from Wednesday, thanks to all those on both blogs who had kind words about my puzzle. And my apologies to those who didn’t.

Although I’ve said before that I prefer wordplay puzzles avec revealers, this puzzle’s, ELMER [Toon who inspired this puzzle's four long puns]. The weird phrasing I think is to get around the fact TEMPERATURE is not TEMPEWATURE, but I’m not sure. Otherwise, a tight, consistently applied theme. Four r to w sound changes, each in the first word, and with the resulting word respelled in all 4 cases. I feel like a lot more imagination goes into sound changes than letter changes somehow, though that may just be me. The puns are little on the mundane side, though on the other hand that means none are strained and result in weird phrasings. I did like WOMBTEMPERATURE. Wombs (or the removal thereof) are a large part of my world. Unlike testes, they’re the same temperature as the rest of the body more or less.

The fill in this puzzle is SUPERB, [Top-notch]. Nothing more than the odd ordinary bit of crossword-ese plus the long answers SCHUBERT and APRESSKI. Being a philistine, I needed lots of crossings for SCHUBERT and had to suss it out based on word pattern rather than ["Trout Quintet" Composer]!

Here’s an example of why differences in culture/vocabulary are mostly quite easy for me at 1A. We call JELLO JELLY. But I can still remember owning an alphabet book that had J is for Jell-O. Your culture has its tendrils everywhere! And no, I don’t know why I can still remember that book.

An olio of other answers:

  • ONTAP‘s clue [Ready to be drawn] was brilliant and new to me, although the database suggests I’ve seen it before. It’s easier to amuse people who don’t remember things from previous crosswords! The clue [Needle dropper] for PINE also stymied me, although its “surface” meaning is not too clear.
  • LUXURY crosses TONY. Coincidence or an elegant touch?
  • GHEE was actually my favourite answer in the puzzle. The riches of Indian cuisine don’t turn up in puzzles enough for me. I don’t know about in the States but here it’s 5X the price of ordinary butter (which is already pricy) and I wouldn’t know how to use it myself, but in the right hands it does wonders.
  • The clue for CIS ["___ for Cookie": "Sesame Street" song] seems like an awkward and convoluted approach to CIS; why not the chemical word/prefix?
  • Lastly, are there people who memorize the Latin mottoes of States like [___ quam videri: North Carolina motto]? How would you do on a Sporcle quiz? Is there even a Sporcle quiz? Why did I even doubt it? Of course there is: http://www.sporcle.com/games/dianeflaherty/state_mottos. Good luck! (I got 6, you’ll all beat that at least, I hope!)

David J. Lieb’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Little Class” — pannonica’s review

WSJ • 9/14/12 • “A Little Class” • Fri • Lieb • 9 14 12 • solution

118a [Some films, or, academically, what's hidden in the seven starred entries] SHORT SUBJECTS.

The schedule of classes:

  • 23a. [*Perpendicular] AT RIGHT ANGLES (trigonometry).
  • 33a. [*End an affair] CALL IT QUITS (literature).
  • 42a. [*"The Book of Mormon" and others] MUSICAL COMEDIES (calculus).
  • 62a. [*Player of Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter films] EMMA THOMPSON (mathematics). Ya, that clue helped me not at all, but it’s the only one that’s explicitly “academic.”
  • 73a. [*German capital, formerly] DEUTSCHE MARKS (chemistry).
  • 92a. [*Romantic motto] LOVE CONQUERS ALL (economics).
  • 101a. [*Singer with reggae's Melody Makers] ZIGGY MARLEY (gymnastics, sort of, or possibly the more general and locational gymnasium).

Good mix of names and phrases. Excellent that all of the hidden words span two containing words. These abbreviated classes would best be described as high school offerings. Sure, there’s a little inconsistency with both the encompassing MATH as well as the specific TRIG and CALC appearing, along with the very general LIT and GYM; the theme execution would have been superior if all the hidden classes were essentially at the same level. On a related note, it’s always preferable if theme-type answers are excluded from the ballast fill, so 55a [Green area: Abbr.] ECOL. (ecology) is a distracting presence.

Some very nice longer fill in JUICIEST, QUEEN MAB. Less Scrabbly but still welcome are ALMANACS, COME ABOARD, ALLEGATION, and PASSES BY. Slightly shorter but nifty are APHASIAS [Language impairments], EYESHOT [Range of vision], UMBRIAN [From Assisi, for example].

Extracurricular activities:

  • 76a [Astronomers' "year zero"] ONE BC. It’s a bit of a mess, isn’t it?
  • Can’t stop thinking about PAPA DOC | ON A ROPE (121a & 20a), don’t think it’s a good thing.
  • 89d & 124a GETTABLE | ANSWERS.
  • 115a [Character] PERSONA. I’m planning on watching Bergman’s Persona in the very near future. Revisiting an earlier answer (APHASIA), I have Diane Ackerman’s One Hundred Names for Love on my extensive To Read shelf.
  • 63d & 64d [Keep from being perfect] and [Perfect] MAR and HONE. 114d & 116d [Make out] and [Made out] ESPY and SAW.
  • 39a ["Head of a Catalan Peasant" painter] is Joan MIRÓ. He created a series of works with that title during 1924 and 1925.
  • Never know if a clue like 102d [Clarification into] for I–E–– is going to be ID EST or I MEAN.
  • Favorite clues: 33a [Threw a line] CUED, 83d [Subject of the 53rd "State Quarter" issued] GUAM, 95d [Out of the mud, perhaps] UNSTUCK.

There’s the bell! Gotta go!

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22 Responses to Friday, 9/14/12

  1. bob marley says:

    was going to hate on the nyt for a major lack of spiciness, but the theme makes up for it. nice. RING OF FIRE for Ringo is awesome. great themeless answer on its own, but getting to fitting ringo in there at the same time is very nice.

  2. Huda says:

    Wow, the BEATLES hidden in an apparent themeless ! Very cool and unexpected!

    DECAPITATE clued as head off! That’s pretty graphic, but I guess that’s what it is!

    INTERLINER– does that really exist as a word, and does it mean what the clue says? INNER LINER or INNER LINING, yes. INTERLINER, not so much.

  3. Michael Hawkins says:

    APPLECORES is also a Beatles reference: The company that the Beatles founded was called APPLE CORPS. Also, the clue refers to Red Delicious apples, which I would argue is at least moderately clever (and therefore not deserving the “meh” tag.)

    PISTOL might be a reference to REVOLVER, but then again that might be stretching it.

    • pannonica says:

      Oh, and look! STU Sutcliffe is hiding backwards in CUTS IN LINE. And the symmetrical pair HEY | GEL is reminiscent of “Hey Jude”…

      I liked the “Delicious” clue too; there’s also a golden delicious variety. Both are ironically among the most bland types.

  4. RK says:

    Never noticed the Beatles names which is a nice touch. Wonder how many will. Then again, I’m usually happy just to complete a puzzle.

  5. Kate says:

    Crossynergy “Window Boxes”

    Didn’t get this one:
    #33: Part of Mayflower’s fleet
    Answer: Van
    Can anyone ‘splain?
    Thanks!

  6. Howard B says:

    Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t notice the ‘theme’, right under my nose! That’s very nice.
    I was going to ask if anyone thought that LOST BALLOT was a somewhat invented phrase (I’ve never encountered it as a stand-alone phrase, any more than LOST TOY, LOST BAG, LOST [object] etc. LOST CAT/DOG is a more solid phrase to me). but seeing this now, it really doesn’t matter so much :).

  7. Daniel Myers says:

    Missed the Beatles theme as well, having possibly to do with BEATLES being one of the last answers I sussed—What does one call this sort of puzzle? Cryptothematic? Fun puzzle, regardless!

    • Huda says:

      I like “cryptothematic”. I was thinking it was subliminal. I wonder if it subconsciously helps in the solution, making the puzzle easier, especially if BEATLES is found earlier rather than later in the process.

      Re INTERLINER, which is still bugging me, INNER LINER would only change NTS to NNS. Is there no acceptable way to clue NNS?

  8. Gareth says:

    Pretty good NYT from Peter Collins! As Amy said “I liked a bunch of the clues and long answers here”. Especially the theme answers, not that I spotted the theme (like everyone)! Surprised ORMER is making its cruciverb.com debut and doubt heavily ORMER is actually making its NYT debut. NYT under WS yes, bet it was a once a week-er in the Maleska era! Was a gimme for me!

  9. dhunter says:

    Really loved today’s NYT, it was fun.

  10. Ruth says:

    Today I definitely liked Sam’s name for the CS better than the given one. Just to let you know some of us are paying attention.

  11. ArtLvr says:

    Good bunch of puzzles today! Especially liked the LAT’s Fuddsy puns – wight on! Also enjoyed the WSJ full of little classes, each spread across two words, but I’d have changed the clue for CUED to “Fed a line”, sotto voce, rather “Threw a line”. Other than that, great fill and clues!

    • Meem says:

      Agreed!

    • pannonica says:

      I highlighted that CUED clue in my write-up as a favorite because I liked the misdirection enabled by the choice of threw, which isn’t so much of a stretch that it impinges its accuracy. In fact, I kind of like the image of a floundering actor that it evokes.

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