Tuesday, 11/6/12

NYT 3:22 
LAT 3:05 
Jonesin' untimed 
CS untimed (Sam) 

Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 11 6 12 1106

The nonconsecutive circled squares hide Tuesday’s major-party running mates, incumbents OBAMA in GOD BLESS AMERICA and BIDEN in BEHIND THE SCENES as well as Republican challengers RIGHT ON THE MONEY/ROMNEY and …PRESBYTERIANISM/RYAN. Those four 15-letter answers are tenuously connected to the U.S. presidency and political campaigns, leaving a little taste of “Wait, what? Why?” in my mouth. (It tastes like marjoram, if you must know.) More to the point, 65a anagrams to “I’m Britney Spears,” which is probably Erik’s real motivation for making this puzzle.

You know what I like about today’s constructor? That his last name hides the crosswordese word AGAR. What I do not like about him is that the whippersnapper is solving puzzles faster than me now. V. irritating, that.

The good, the bad, and the ugly:

  • Goodies include the lovely MS. PAC-MAN, quaintly slangy RHUBARBS, HEADS UP, and MR. SMITH Goes to Washington (quasi-thematic).
  • The bad and the ugly share a category and include partials A BELL and I’M AT, plus a bunch of lackluster 3s (ONS, ALS, SHA, ENL, ET AL.)

My Chicago language got in the way at 62d. That [Pop's Brothers ___], *IBB? I decided that the Mr Pibb sodapop now had a Brothers PIBB family of soft drinks. Uh, that’s pop music, and the GIBBs of the Bee Gees (and their little brother Andy). The Bee Gees sang “TRAGEDY,” and it really is a tragedy that Barry, the eldest, has lost all three of his younger brothers, isn’t it?

3.5 stars, elevated by the 7s and 8s in the fill.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Nose for Gnus”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, November 6

Today’s mailbag question is from Ara in South Bend, Indiana: Did you ever write a blog post of about 450 words, only to lose it all when you went to save it and something went wrong? Yep, Ara, I have. It happened just now. And no, I don’t feel like re-writing the mini-essay on why a pinwheel arrangement of theme entries worked so nicely on this particular puzzle. Take my word for it–it was good. The basic thesis was this: when you have four theme entries of eight to ten letters in length, the pinwheel arrangement is great for keeping the theme entries apart from each other, thus facilitating great fill.

I only have the patience to re-list the theme entries. The theme involved four 10-letter entries ending with a homonym for “gnu.” The analysis included some witty observations based on the fact that three of the four entries referenced politicians, and on Election Day no less. It was pure gold. The theme answers are: PARK AVENUE, TIPPECANOE, JOHN SUNUNU, and SPIRO AGNEW.

Favorite entry = IN A FUNK, the sensation of [Feeling down] to which I now relate. Favorite clue = [Like a virgin?] for VESTAL. Stupid internet connection.

Neville Fogarty’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 11 6 12

Hey! It’s not an Election Day theme, and that’s fine with me. I voted two weeks ago and I’m beyond ready for the election to be over.

The 65a theme revealer is FLAG, [Flier on a pole, and at the ends of 18-, 25-, 45- and 57-Across]. COLORS, BANNER, STANDARD, and JACK can all mean “flag.” Until I reached 65a, I was also eyeballing WISH LIST, OIL BARON, SIT ‘N SPIN, and MUG SHOTS—all lively entries in their own rights, but not part of the theme. Here are the themers:

  • 18a. [Real attitude underlying a facade], TRUE COLORS
  • 25a. [The Hulk's alter ego], BRUCE BANNER
  • 45a. [Song covered by Michael Bublé, say], POP STANDARD. I had OLD STANDARD first.
  • 57a. [Aunt Jemima competitor], HUNGRY JACK. People! Try real maple syrup. You might not love it at first if you’re accustomed to the big brands of corn syrup + artificial flavors, but it will grow on you.

Excellent puzzle, Neville. BANGKOK, LET IT BE, and BIEBER join those four great 8s as fill I liked. Could do without SNERD, NAES, and ONE-L, but there was so much good stuff in this grid, the “meh” bits were scarcely noticeable while I was solving. 4.25 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Rated R (for Relocation)”

The letter R is relocated in four movie titles, changing the plot entirely. Sometimes a word space is added:

  • 17a. [Tunnel effect created by blowing air through a line of empty-headed participants?], EAR WIND ROW. Was Rear Window.
  • 31a. [Solo's attempt at an orchard?], THE HAN GROVE. Was The Hangover.
  • 44a. [Guy who complains there are too many trees in the woods?], FOREST GRUMP. Was Forrest Gump. I gotta tell you, the revised version sounds more solid.
  • 58a. [Idiot who drove his car into two feet of mud?], MORON STUCK. Was Moonstruck.

Faves: QUALMS, NEROLI [Oil from orange blossoms], BIG GULP, BO DUKE, ZONKER, and RICE-A-RONI. V. good stuff!

Didn’t know:

  • Never heard of 64a: [Actor Hakeem ___-Kazim of "24"], KAE, but I wish him great success in show biz on account of that 3-letter name word with 2 vowels.
  • 34d. [Type of pricing], BASE POINT. No idea what that’s about.

3.5 stars.

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17 Responses to Tuesday, 11/6/12

  1. janie says:

    right! erik was rookie of the year, finished second in the junior division and third in the b division at this year’s acpt. and quite an impressive constructing debut to boot! congrats, erik — and here’s to many more!

    ;-)

  2. Ethan says:

    When I saw that there were four long acrosses with circles in them, I got hopeful that the N.Y. Times was being cool and letting Gary Johnson and Jill Stein in on the fun, but I guess the crossword powers-that-be are no better than that vile debate commission.

  3. Bobby says:

    You wrote

    “plus a bunch of lackluster 3s (ONS, ALS, SHA, ENL, ET AL.)”

    but for the record ET AL is a 4 not a 3.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The ET AL was there to indicate that there were more blah 3s—and how could I lowercase ET AL when it’s in this puzzle? I thank you for your fine counting, however.

  4. Matt says:

    Hadn’t realized before that the two pairs of candidates– Obama/Biden Romney/Ryan– make a weakly rhyming couplet.

  5. Huda says:

    For two days straight, I haven’t been able to download the puzzle from the NY Times site with Acrosslite, at least not in the evening. What’s with that?

    Liked this puzzle especially because there was so much non-theme material that echoed the theme– the DEMs the TEA party, MR. SMITH and the excellent reveal- SECRET BALLOT. GAG seemed to belong somehow… The first theme answer I got was RIGHT ON THE MONEY, which is fabulous. I expected the others to be directional somehow… BEHIND came next and I thought I’d see LEFT and FRONT… a bit of a letdown.
    I liked that GOD BLESS AMERICA contains OBAMA in the right order and without any redundancy of the letters in his name. Not true for the other theme answers.
    Overall, a very good election puzzle!

  6. Christopher Jablonski says:

    I had to stop this puzzle halfway through. I’m simply disgusted with the sheer obvious liberal bias of Welfare Shortz and the New York Pravda. That said, the first half was pretty well constructed.

  7. Martin says:

    This week’s Onion/AV is posted. Sadly it’s the last:

    Dear Friends,
    It is with a heavy heart that I announce the cancelation of the Onion A.V. Club xword by the newspaper that carried it. The Onion notified us of this development last week. The final Onion puzzle is attached.
    On behalf of all the AV Club constructors, past and present, I want to thank you for your support and enthusiasm over the course of six incomparable years
    Ben

    Also, the Inkwell puzzle only comes in .pdf form this week.

  8. Gareth says:

    Brilliant NYT! Puzzle works on so many levels, it’s got quite some density to it, and there are Easter eggs! And some fabulous non-theme fill too; still a bit puzzled how there’s room for it!

    Nice LAT following up PVs synonym theme with another! Always impressed when someone can find a group like this where the words differ widely from their original meanings!

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