Tuesday, 11/13/12

LAT 3:26 
NYT 2:50 
Jonesin' untimed 
CS 4:44 (Sam) 

If you’re having trouble accessing the New York Times’ crossword page tonight, as I am, you can download the .puz file from Crossword Fiend’s “Today’s Puzzles” page.

Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 13 12, 1113

SKYFALL! I just saw that Sunday afternoon, in a nearly sold-out cinema. Have you heard Adele’s theme song for the new Bond movie? It’s old-school. And the movie’s all right. Loved Javier Bardem’s villain.

Today’s crossword theme is SKYFALL, with the word SKY falling in this and six other answers: MUSKY, SKYY VODKA, ARONOFSKY, BUTTINSKY, RISKY MOVE, and PESKY. I like how the theme plays out, subtly but with zip (BUTTINSKY!). MR. OCTOBER, mixed METAPHORS, and The World’s Least Appealing Fragrance, Calvin Klein OBSESSION, lend further style to the puzzle. (I’m not kidding about Obsession, either. That farty cheese my husband was eating? It’s utterly rank, but it didn’t bring an instant headache the way Obsession always did.)

There were a handful of Scowl-o-Meter triggers in addition to that headache trigger. Good gravy, 14a: UMIAK/[ Walrus-skin boat] crossing 3d: LIANA/[Jungle vine]? That’s crosswordese double jeopardy right there. And 50a: LARY/[N.F.L. Hall-of-Famer Yale ___]? Don’t recognize that at all. Not as a famous football player, not as a surname I’ve ever seen. Now, LADY and LACY could cross non-disclosure and non-compete agreements (I’m more familiar with NDA, but NCA came to my mind first), but LAZY wouldn’t work because the Wu-Tang Clan has a GZA and a RZA but no NZA. Also a little negative on that YEP/YESES crossing—dictionary says YEP is a “nonstandard spelling of YES, representing informal pronunciation,” so it’s basically the same word crossing itself.

4.25 stars for the theme and its visual interpretation of a movie title, minus 1 star for the unfortunate bits of fill.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hay There”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, November 13

59-Down tells us that BARN is the [Word that can precede the last word of the four longest entries]. It’s no lie:

  • 18-Across: Something that’s [Frightening] is HAIR-RAISING (“barn raising”). If you have hair, that is; otherwise, I suppose it’s just scalp-raising.
  • 27-Across: To [Jabber on at length] is to TALK UP A STORM (“barnstorm”).
  • 47-Across: SONG AND DANCE (“barn dance”) refers to [Behavior designed to deceive].
  • 60-Across: The [Jet power booster] is an AFTER-BURNER (“barn-burner”).

We’ve seen this gimmick many times, of course, so there’s nothing much to say about the theme. The fill certainly has its highs and lows. On the high side,  there’s BREAK AWAY, TEA CUPDWEEBS, IMBIBE, and KEANU Reeves.

On the low side there’s just SCOURER (smack dab in the grid’s center, alas), ANNI RIATA, NL-ER, ‘ENRY, ICER, TARN, TAIS, OR BE and REE. I would have added OLIO to the list, but that would be a bit hypocritical. You see, when I moved across the country this past summer, I dutifully marked every box according to the room where the stuff would go. Any box containing miscellaneous crap that could go anywhere was marked “OLIO.” Of my 18 boxes, 11 were marked OLIO. (I’m lucky my then-fiance found that endearing rather than worrisome.) So since I in fact used OLIO in a non-crossword context, I have to give it a pass here.

Favorite entry = ARMCHAIRS, the [Spots for "unofficial" quarterbacks?], though I’m unsure why the clue merits the wordplay signal (aka a “question mark”). Favorite clue = [Statutes in Ohio or Iowa, say] for STATE LAWS. Why Ohio and Iowa, you ask? Beats me. It’s so unorthodox, so random, so … weird that I love it.

Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 11 13 12

This is the most skeptical theme I’ve ever seen. ["As if!"] clues AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN; NO WAY, JOSE; DREAM ON; YEAH, RIGHT; and FAT CHANCE OF THAT. The last one sounds a bit off—the OF THAT seems superfluous—but I like the others.

Jeff made space for some excellent longish fill here. MEATHEAD! LIP-SYNCING! RINGTONE clued as [Modern caller ID, perhaps]. WARP FACTOR, PORSCHE.

My three favorite clues:

  • 1a. [College donor, often], ALUM. I missed a year of giving to my alma mater for the first time this year. I was dumbfounded that a school that prides itself on being a progressive institution hired yet another white male as its new president. Has your alma mater also had an unbroken chain of white men in charge?
  • 66a. [Way to be tickled], PINK. Let us not speak of Elmo.
  • 2d. [Film heroine with memorable buns], Princess LEIA.

Uninspired by: ESAU, OR FOE, CLEM, ACR, TEC.

3.75 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Secret Crossword”

Crossword themes that feature a hidden word embedded in each theme phrase are fairly common, but they use 3-letter words far more often than 4s. Here, Matt uses the 4-letter INFO, inspired by the phrase INSIDE INFO.

  • 17a. [UFO tracker's headwear, it's said], TIN-FOIL HAT.
  • 21a. [Shrimp and salmon, it's said], BRAIN FOOD.
  • 33a. [They're full of old growth], VIRGIN FOREST.
  • 43a. [Song title followed by "in all the wrong places"], LOOKIN’ FOR LOVE. From the late ’70s/early ’80s country crossover era, when Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle were top-10 artists.
  • 54a. [Shar-pei's features], SKIN FOLDS.
  • 63a. [Secret the theme answers contain], INSIDE INFO.

Solid theme. Some people deduct points for including phrases in which not every word touches that hidden INFO, but here my favorite theme answers were TIN-FOIL HAT and LOOKIN’ FOR LOVE.

Five more things:

  • 10d. [Song contest with previous winners ABBA and Celine Dion], EUROVISION. I know what you’re thinking—Celine Dion’s Canadian, so what the heck is she doing in the Eurovision contest? She represented Switzerland. Wikipedia doesn’t seem to explain why she represented Switzerland. Is this a Swiss banking scandal?
  • 29d. [Fossilized marine animals], TRILOBITES. My family had a neat trilobite fossil when I was a kid. My sister or I took it in for show and tell one time and—poof!—gone. Somebody stole it. No idea if my dad had bought the fossil or somehow managed to find it in the wild.
  • 24d. [Belarus city not far from the similarly-named capital], PINSK. The capital’s Minsk.
  • 56d. [Forthcoming psych book], DSM-V. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Volume 5. Ooh! Wikipedia tells me that they’re going with “DSM-5″ and dropping the Roman numerals. Attention, Super Bowl: Consider going Arabic as well. I’m glad DSM is going to use Arabic numerals, because “DSMV” makes me think of Prince’s “D.M.S.R.,” and then I start watching Prince concert videos and the day vanishes.
  • 39a. ["Heroes" villain (anagram of L-RAYS)], SYLAR. Hey, I didn’t need the anagram hint. [Zachary Quinto's best role evah] would have gotten me to the answer.

Four stars.

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15 Responses to Tuesday, 11/13/12

  1. Tim Kashuba says:

    Thanx for posting the .puz file. The Times’ page does not seem to want to work for me and my iPad.

  2. Linda B. says:

    Thanks for the links! For some reason, the new page came up great for me this afternoon, but the Tuesday puzzle didn’t want to appear. Hope they get it fixed soon as it does seem like the new format and look will be an improvement.

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: How about LAMY crossing GMA? Do enough people—especially literate crossword people—know of LAMY pens? And GMA (Genetically Modified Animal) is all over contemporary news stories. Or Good Morning America, if you want to be lowbrow and crossword-trite.

    • Gareth says:

      Not sure about GMA but I’ve been wondering (in general) about the legitimacy of GMO as an answer…

  4. cyberdiva says:

    Thanks very much for the alternate way to access today’s NYTimes puzzle. I always print out the puzzle using AcrossLite. Today, all the print options on the NYTimes page produced clues in an unreadably small font that I couldn’t enlarge. This was also true on the “Today’s Puzzle” page. However, I finally tried “Download to play with AcrossLite.” Though it said nothing about printing, clicking on that option produced the puzzle in its usual readable form, which I was then able to print out.

    • Daniel Myers says:

      Yes, today’s new format threw a spanner in the works for me as well – until, as you did, I hit download and then printed it. When I went straight to Print, all the clues were missing.

  5. AV says:

    Really enjoyed the NYT today – very topical, well executed. 5 stars! No complaints above UMIAK given how it crosses MUSKY and SKYYVODKA (how great is this entry for a scrabbly Tuesday?!)

  6. Gareth says:

    Really cool the currency of the NYT (even if I have no intention of seeing the film). Also especially enjoyed the choice of entries, plus those other long entries too! LIANA is crossword-ese??? News to me. Congrats to CC and Don, the most prolific of LAT constructors!

    Always like crosswords that talk back so I also really enjoyed the LAT, but not only that, the wide-open grid and the long answers you already listed too!

    • Papa John says:

      I remember when I first joined the NYT Forum, back in the day, there was a discussion about the commercialism of using brand names in the fill. Now, we have the puzzle, like Wendy’s or McD’s, apparently promoting a newly released film. Will a chintzy toy or, perhaps, a promotional ball point, soon be included with the Sunday puzzles? I hope NYT is getting a kickback.

      I’m just saying… I have no opinion, one way or t’other. It’s just an interesting development.

  7. Lemonade714 says:

    I really enjoyed this offering and liked the clues and the unifier being down (falling), now if they had only worked Chicken Little into the puzzle, it would have been perfection. Congratulations on your first NY Times. Meanwhile, YALE LARY is a hall of fame defensive back and one the best punters of all time.
    As far as commercialization of the crossword world, I have always admired the way puzzles have evolved to reflect the modern era while keeping some past memories alive. With the internet, smart phones and interactive tv, crosswords need to recognize what is our culture, even those aspects we might not admire. IMO.

  8. Zulema says:

    HELP!! Now both your file and Will Johnston have the same format as the on-line NYT. Where is the grid??? And at least my computer keeps working when I access the others, but if I go to the NYT website, it freezes. It’s done so repeatedly since last night. HELP!!!

  9. Zulema says:

    OK, I decided to tell it to print from your AcrossLite and it did print the whole puzzle, looking like before, but what if you want to do it on-line? I went back to the NYT website and i simply freezes after the forst listings (KEN KEN, etc.) I have written to crosswords@nytimes.com to tell them of the problem, but not from the link they gave in their e-mail message explaining the whole disaster; excuse me, I meant enhancement. That link gave me a “no such website” response. I am writing here because the Wednesday blog has not been posted yet.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Zulema, the Wednesday post is up now, complete with a critique of the “redesign” launch.

      Yesterday, I tried out the online solving option (the new one, not the preexisting timed applet). It was OK, except that the Delete key did not actually delete my incorrect letters at all—the only way to get rid of an incorrect letter was to type a new one, which is not helpful if you don’t know it. But the “keyboard shortcuts” link told me that Delete would actually work. Mind you, as of yesterday, that link opened in the same page, eliminating the progress I’d made in the puzzle, rather than opening as a pop-up. Tonight, I was able to get the applet to load, but only by using a link from Deb Amlen and not from using the redesigned page’s link.

      Sigh.

  10. J. T. Williams says:

    On the Jonesin’, I had Europe Idol for a while, followed by EuroDisney, before I finally came to EUROVISION. I was really starting to wonder about 26A.

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