Wednesday, 10/24/12

NYT 3:41 
LAT untimed (Doug) 
Onion untimed 
CS 6:11 (Sam) 

If you’re looking for the answers to the Sunday NYT contest, I posted those Tuesday evening after the puzzle deadline had passed.

Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 10 24 12 1024

Well, that’s annoying. The NYT’s Java (or my Java?) quit on me as soon as I clicked “Done,” and now I have a blank space instead of my solution. Open puzzle in Black Ink, reveal solution, take screen capture of less attractive solution grid. Grr.

Ian’s theme is 37a: ”G LOSS,” or [Some makeup ... or a hint to 17-, 26-, 43- and 58-Across]. Each of the other theme answers is made by lopping off a G from the start of a familiar phrase.

  • 17a. [Actor Norris, after gaining weight?], ROUND CHUCK. Ground chuck is meat. At first I was thinking that “chuck round” was a cut of meat and that the theme answers flip-flopped.
  • 26a. [What a tosspot fantasizes the clouds would do?], RAIN ALCOHOL. “Tosspot”!
  • 43a. [Thieves at an all-night dance bash?], RAVE ROBBERS.
  • 58a. [Someone responding to a party R.S.V.P.?], HOST WRITER.

Mildly inconsistent in that the first three change GR- words while the last goes with GH-.

Highlights: Nelson MANDELA, RADAR GUNS, REDHEAD, FRAT ROW, BIG TOE (although the clue sounds weird to me—[Part that may be pinched]??), and PAYPHONES. The fill’s pretty smooth, although I could do without AGUE, AGRA, ISERE, and ENOW.

I know that 2d: [Now, in Nogales] is AHORA from advertisements. “Llame ahora” = “call now.” I do not know the Spanish for “operators are standing by.”

If you ask me, this puzzle sits perfectly in the Wednesday difficulty slot. There’s less troublesome fill than the Tuesday puzzle had, which keeps the puzzle accessible to more solvers; and it was neither too easy nor harder than I expected. 3.75 stars.

Gareth Bain’s LA Times crossword – Doug’s review

Gareth Bain’s LA Times solution 10/24/12

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here, filling in for Gareth, who constructed today’s puzzle. By my count, this is Gareth’s 40th LA Times puzzle. Wow! (OK, I didn’t really count, but I bet I’m close.)

Fortunately the theme is easy to explain, because my explanations get convoluted at times. We’ve got six theme phrases that contain three A’s and no other vowels, plus a helpful hint at 60-Across.

  • 17a. [*"Ditto!"] - BACK AT YA.
  • 19a. [*1955 Communist defense treaty] - WARSAW PACT.
  • 37a. [*"I can answer your questions"] - ASK AWAY.
  • 58a. [*Momentarily forget] - DRAW A BLANK.
  • 10d. [*"Wheel of Fortune" host] - PAT SAJAK.
  • 36d. [*Space cadet's home?] - LA-LA LAND.
  • 60a. [Like the best bonds, and a hint to the answers to starred clues] - AAA RATED.

This type of gimmick has the potential to be a “meh” theme, but Gareth saved it from meh-itude by doing two things: 1) Coming up with cool theme answers and 2) Cramming lots of them into the grid. Blerrie good job! I liked all the theme answers, though I wish a few of the clues (["Wheel of Fortune" host], e.g.) had been more challenging. Let’s see what else we can find.

  • 33a. [Marsupial sometimes called a bear] – KOALA. Gareth would never make this mistake.
  • 47a. [R&B's __ Hill] – DRU. Here’s a quiz for you. Is Dru Hill the name of a person or the name of a group? I wasn’t sure myself, so I did a little Wikipedia-ing. Group! Obviously, R&B music from the ’90s is not in my wheelhouse. Fun fact: “The quartet made a name for itself by getting jobs at a local fudge factory…where they sang and performed to entertain guests while making fudge.”
  • 54a. [Opposite of neo-] – PALEO. “Paleo” is also the name of a trendy diet in which you only eat stuff that cavemen used to eat. Not sure how that works, but I’m guessing the menu includes lots of Fruity Pebbles.
  • 5d. [Title writer in a John Irving novel] – T.S. GARP. Second quiz of the day. What does the T.S. stand for?
  • 53d. [Extremists, for short] – RADS. Weird clue. Do people say that? I’d stick with the old standby clue [X-ray units], even though rad is a “deprecated unit” according to Wikipedia. Looks like it’s still used in the U.S., along with feet & pounds & degrees Fahrenheit. Good enough for me!
  • 35d. [Dictator Amin] – IDI. I’m going to give Gareth one demerit for IDI. I know IDI & AMIN are useful entries, but I don’t like seeing either of them in a grid.
  • 8d. [Jam thickener] – PECTIN. I got this one right away. My grandmother made jams & jellies every summer, and I remember the boxes of pectin. Man, it seemed like it took days of hard, sweaty work to make a few jars of jam. Once I remarked, “You know, Grandma, they do sell jam at the store…” and got smacked in the head with a wooden spoon.
  • 24d. ["The Addams Family" adjective] – OOKY. Love this entry!

Other entries I liked: SNOW JOB, UPBEAT, ORANGE. The answer to our second quiz is Technical Sergeant. Thanks for playing and see you in a few days.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Naming Rights”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, October 24

Five common terms that start with homophones of celebrity first names ditch their normal starts for the homophones, and hilarity ensues. Here you go:

  • 18-Across: Terry cloth, the wonderful fabric used in comfy bathrobes, becomes TERI CLOTH, [A "Desperate Housewives" actress's sewing material?]. The actress of note is the lovely Teri Hatcher. Note the four consecutive S’s in the clue–it sprung a leak!
  • 23-Across: “Fill dirt” (which, by the way, is really a thing and not just some arbitrary term like I first thought) becomes PHIL DIRT, [A TV psychologist's gossipmongering?] This one’s an homage to Dr. Phil McGraw.
  • 33-Across: Ordinary “brook trout” becomes BROOKE TROUT, [A model/actress's tasty catch]. This one most likely refers to Brooke Shields, though it could be Brooke Burke, or, if one was really loose with definitions, Brooke Hogan or Brooke Bailey.
  • 48-Across: The “gene pool” becomes a JEAN POOL, [An "All in the Family" actress's summer hangout?]. (Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker.) Again with the four S’s!
  • 52-Across: “Patty-cake,” formally defined (!) in my dictionary as “a game in which two participants (as mother and child) clap their hands together to the rhythm of an accompanying nursery rhyme,” becomes PATTI CAKE, [A '50s pop singer's dessert?]. I’m gonna go with Patti Page as the singer referred to in the clue, though I am more familiar with Patti LaBelle, Patti LuPone, and Patti Smith.

Look at those lovely corners! The northwest and southeast corners have triple 5s and triple 6s, and the northeast and southwest corners pair a couple of 7s with an 8. Yeah, that gives us the bulky “Utah” blocks of black squares along the middle sides, but I’ll happily take that for nice open corners like these.

There’s also an abundance of rare letters (no pangram though, as I don’t see an F), and that has the usual effect of adding some pep to the fill. I liked SIGN OVER, WEAR AWAY, I DOUBT IT, some yummy BAGUETTE, SYNERGY, WET BAR, WATERY, and SET SAIL best, though the whole grid is solid. The worst entry in the whole puzzle is either IS A or TRI (and maybe SEER, if you make me pick a third). If that’s as bad as it gets, well then, it’s pretty dang good.

Favorite entry = GUN SHY, one who is [Very wary]. Favorite clue = [Hairline?] for PART.

Caleb Madison’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, 10 24 12

Caleb Madison is the newest member of the A.V. Club crossword team. Huzzah! Caleb does good work.

This week’s theme is a TELEPHONE KEYPAD rebus theme, with four symmetrically placed rebus squares that work differently in the Across and Down directions:

  • 14a: [User-friendly facility?] is a REH{AB C}ENTER. 4d: [Participating in the rat race] clues A{T WO}RK, symbolized by a 2 in the grid. The 1 key has no letters, while the 2 has the ABC trio.
  • 36a: [Alcoholic beverage that comes in Grape and Grape MaXed] clues {FOUR} LOKO. 9d: [Roberts/Grant rom-com set in London] is NOTTIN{G HI}LL. The 4 has GHI.
  • 43a: The New York [Post section with dirt] is PAGE {SIX}. 35d: Erik [Satie work that paved the way for ambient music] is GY{MNO}PEDIES.
  • 68a: [Come in second, say] clues TASTE {DEF}EAT. 62d. [Like "Avatar" or "Hugo"] clues IN {3}D. 3 = DEF.

Highlights in the fill include ADORKABLE (it’s possible that Caleb himself is ADORKABLE—he may be a Manhattan hipster college kid, but he teaches crossword construction to senior citizens and that is definitely nerdy), JURY DUTY, I’M HIT, RED HOT, and EMOTICON. My favorite clue is 25d: [Make an ass out of you and me, in a saying], for ASSUME. Traditional rebusoid action right there, with the ASS + U + ME.

Worst bits: UTES meets ESTES, OREM, ESSO, AN E. Those aren’t beyond the pale, though, and the two-way rebus business locks down  eight entries besides the 15-letter answer down the middle. So I’ll give this one 4.5 stars.

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15 Responses to Wednesday, 10/24/12

  1. Huda says:

    A Livengoodish puzzle! Zippy, peppy, sassy with a touch of LURID and GORE … Fun!

    I enjoyed the theme, tumbled to it relatively early and it helped make this a quicker solve. For a minute I couldn’t think of a name to go with Norris (!), so I put (G)ROUNDswell (!!!). In my defense, I quickly decided that Swell Norris or Norris Swell wasn’t exactly sounding right…

    And hey, another tributary of the Rhone! We need Ardeche next! Check it out, it’s beautiful countryside, with gorges and twists and turns…

  2. pannonica says:

    Appreciated the etymological hint in the clue for EOCENE in the CS: [Epoch that saw the dawn of modern mammals].

  3. Kristi McLean says:

    Loved the answer to card without a number, Joker, in the CS puzzle. My mind went everywhere but to a deck of cards. Credit cards, business cards, gift cards, I even thought of fake ID checks. Clever Lynn Lempel. The” joker” was on me.

  4. Peter Piper says:

    Does anybody know what happened to evil doug or where he went?

  5. pannonica says:

    For the Onion, I had to re-enter the four rebus entries, because Across Lite didn’t care for the trigrams, it would only accept the numerals.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The .puz format is stingy when it comes to rebuses. It wants one answer, not multiple ones. I often have what I feel is a more elegant solution in the rebus squares, and then the puzzle marks those squares as wrong. What’re you gonna do?

  6. Gareth says:

    Loved the revealer in Ian’s puzzle! Also loved the adjective to verb change in RAINALCOHOL… Embarrassed at how many crosses I needed before I got MANDELA! For some reason I thought it was Arafat and the Israeli guy in ’93, but that’s 94 right?

    Thanks Doug for a most droll review… Two notes: To novice constructors/other journeymen – don’t cross 8′s, those 6X6 spaces in the opposite corner are a pain! I found my KOALA clue “Vegetarian tree-hugger” to be amusing… Probably only me.

  7. kc says:

    Anyone care to comment on the 4 down clue and answer on the AV Club xword of 10/24/12? i’m at a loss to make sense of it.

  8. D F says:

    Onion: Homeboy = COZ? Ouch. Seems like MIC/MOP/COZ could have been revised to make this less kludgy.

    Also did understand “Pushes (out)” as a clue for EKES. (I know the phrase “ekes out”; I’ve never understood it to be synonymous with “pushes out”.)

    Liked the theme a lot, though.

  9. Ethan says:

    Dru Hill is named for the Druid Hill neighborhood of Baltimore.

  10. Lurking Deviant says:

    adorkable? really?

  11. Matt M. says:

    Thought the Onion puzzle was just terrific.

  12. Chippy55 says:

    This puzzle was a colossal waste of time, i.e. no enjoyment. A keypad in one direction, but the numeral itself in a different direction. Not good. Please don’t do something like this ev-ah again.

Comments are closed.