Wednesday, 11/14/12

NYT 3:55 
LAT 4:10 (Gareth) 
AV Club 4:40 
CS 4:20 (dude!) (Sam) 

NYT “play against the clock” applet fans: Have you found yourself getting bounced back to the main puzzle page every time you click the link for the applet? I tried it in three different browsers and got bounced every time. Deb Amlen was kind enough to suggest that I try this link—http://select.nytimes.com/premium/xword/pzzl/timed.html—and hey, it worked!

However: I need to express my shock at how poorly the NY Times has released this “redesign.” My husband works on the QA testing team for the NYSE. Do you know what would happen if they released something before it was ready and it didn’t work right? They’d be on the hook for compensating their customers for potentially millions of dollars, and they’d lose the listing business they depend on. Memo to the New York Times: Your paying customers are not a volunteer QA squad who will help you find the bugs. They are the people who pay your salaries so that you can provide the service you’ve agreed to provide. Don’t jerk us around. Also: In some browsers, it’s taking 30 to 45 seconds for your puzzle page to load. I get the KenKen button right away and sit here like a chump with dial-up access waiting for the crossword links to appear. You people need to fix that. I’m embarrassed for you, NY Times. It’s not helping matters that I received a press release touting the brave new redesign this afternoon, before the site’s problems have actually been fixed. People have been sharing links and shortcuts and tips just to get access to the things we were told would still be there. You want a PDF of the puzzle, like we had before? I don’t know where you get that. Jon Delfin was telling somebody else how to get the PDF on Facebook, because he managed to figure it out, but I don’t remember what he said. And another thing: I bet thousands of puzzle subscribers have the old puzzle page bookmarked. Why doesn’t that page redirect to the new page?? People! Don’t make us work like chumps to get the same simple things we are still paying you to provide.

Announcements!

  • The AV Club puzzle is no longer the Onion puzzle. It’s now the American Values Club crossword. If you’re interested in continuing to receive the puzzle, visit the Kickstarter funding page to subscribe. And watch the video on that page! I didn’t watch it until just now, and it’s delightful. Glad that the AV Club team has gotten enough backing to continue the puzzle for at least a year. Power to the people!
  • Pete Muller is running a theme construction contest over at his Muller Monthly Music Meta site. Check it out.


Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 14 12, 1114

Really a neat theme. Why, the puzzle may even have been worth the wait! (The wait being the 10 minutes and countless page loads I went through before I actually managed to get the applet to load.) You know how y is the Spanish equivalent of 67a: AND? Joe’s taken a bunch of “A and B” phrases and Spanglished them up with a Y in place of each “and.” A hook-and-ladder fire truck becomes a HOOKY LADDER, for skipping out of school. POINTY SHOOT goes from point-and-shoot camera to sharp greenery. PARTY PARCEL, FAIRY SQUARE (I want to go to there), PROSY CONS, and HARDY FAST round out the theme.

In the fill, I like PIZZA, CAR TRIP, WHOOPEE, and all those APPLIQUEs my mom sewed onto my clothes when I was a kid. (Who remembers the mid-’70s patch craze? We even patched things without holes in ‘em, just because patches were so cool.)

Kind of weird to have both LYRIST and LUTISTS in the grid. I confess that I can barely keep the two instruments straight. Lyre has ancient Greek cred, lutes are more Middle Ages, and a luthier makes guitars because there’s much less of a market for lutes now. The lyre’s more of a curvy zither and the lute’s a pear-shaped guitarish thing, yes?

Wonder if anyone got snagged by the UNSER/SNERT crossing or the COREA/EEK crossing. With the latter, I’d have clued EEK as anything but part of a proper name.

3.5 stars.

Dan Schoenholz’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

LA Times crossword solution, 11 14 12

The nicknames of America’s “big 3″ sports teams are a richly mined vein of theme ideas in cross-world. I don’t remember seeing this particular variant before. The nickname part of 4 NFL teams is anagrammed and clued in a way that no longer references the NFL. There’s a veneer of a second layer in that all of them are clued to reference businesses (using the term loosely), although it feels a little forced. The original teams are the Rams, Bears, Lions and Jets.

Not a lot to say fill-wise. There is RAPSTAR clued as [Andre 3000, for one]. He’s one half of the duo Outkast – the other being Big Boi – who’ve been around nearly 20 years. I’d consider this song to be their zenith. FWIW, yes I do think both stage names are rather dumb. There’s also PEDIGREE clued as a [Dog's breeding history]. I don’t know about in America, but here it feels like nearly half our dogs are pure-breds. They don’t take their papers with when they’re lost/abandoned, of course. Work in an SPCA for a while and you start looking on the idea of breeding pets for profit in a whole ‘nother light… Sorry for the unsolicited PSA.

Some more high- and lowlights in the clues. Two clues I’d like to give an A+ to are [World Series game] for POKER (World Series of Poker) and [Sitcom noncom] for BILKO. On the other hand, some clues left me a bit puzzled. I’ve done quite a few (animal) necropsies. I’m pretty sure that if your gallbladder is strictly pear-shaped, then things have gone, well, pear-shaped somewhere. A TAPIR is described as a [Swinelike beast]. I’m not sure which part is supposed to be swine-like, exactly? Lastly, TEARS, [Result of a sad story?] I just don’t get the “?”

Don’t get me wrong about the puzzle. There may be a large amount of verbiage to griping about a few clues, but I enjoyed the puzzle and its approach of smooth rather than ultra-flashy fill.

Francis Heaney’s bonus AV Club teaser/promo crossword, “Hint, Hint”

Francis Heaney bonus AV Club xword

Ben emailed a bonus puzzle to the Kickstarter supporters. The theme entries are part of a list of suggestions for where the AV Club crossword might find a new home: WITH A CLEAN SLATE (at Slate.com), SOMEWHERE IN TIME magazine, by GOING TO THE SALON (extraneous THE, as nobody calls Salon.com “the Salon,” right?), and maybe they should try POSING IN PLAYBOY. I recently read a Playboy article online, strictly for the articles, I swear.

Highlights:

  • 1a. ["Romeo + Juliet" actress, or "Hamlet" characters], DANES. I love this think-of-it-two-ways clue.
  • 9d. [Arizona city whose name is the Spanish equivalent of a Missouri city], SAN LUIS. Never heard of it, but isn’t it nice how the clue takes you right to the answer? Unless you tried to fit Ciudad del Tomas Jefferson in there.
  • 10d. [Acronym shouted while jumping out of a plane], YOLO. You only live once. Meticulous sticklers would have that as YLOO.
  • 11d. ELASTIGIRL! Holly Hunter’s character.
  • 56d. [Abbr. after 1 or 47 or 99 in the 2012 election], PCT. Freshy-fresh clue.

The answer MORNING SEX reminds me of the weekend brunch at a Boystown restaurant called Wood. The brunch is … Morning Wood.

3.5 stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Anything You Want”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, November 14

I lost a little bit of solving time thanks to my anhedonic tendencies. I had THE SKY in place when I got to the clue for 57-Across, [Exhortation for an optimist (and a hint to 17-, 25-, and 44-Across)]. Without hesitating, I finished it with IS FALLING. Hey, it fit. But I guess it’s not exactly the exhortation of an optimist. No, instead the answer was THE SKY’S THE LIMIT. In this case, that’s a reference to the fact that each of the three referenced answers are common terms with a SKY appended to the end. Interestingly, the theme answers appear in descending order of amusement:

  • 17-Across: A “shooting star” becomes SHOOTING STARSKY, a term for [Taking pictures of Paul Michael Glaser?]. Solvers of a certain (lack of) age may not remember Starsky and Hutch, but I’m guessing most in the CS demographic do.
  • 25-Across: A “dog trot” turns into DOG TROTSKY, a term meaning to [Pursue a Bolshevik leader?].
  • 44-Across: Why “pre-plan” for something if you can instead PREP LANSKY, [Get crime boss Meyer ready for trial?]. This one forces a different break–instead of a hyphen between “pre” and “plan,” we get a space between the second P and the L. I’m afraid we have to dock a point for the inconsistency. (On the other hand, at least the answer is consistent in that all of the new -SKY terms reference people: Starsky, Trotsky, and Lansky.)

SKY isn’t the easiest appendage to affix, so props for pulling it off. Still, I might have liked one or two more theme entries in there, or at least another livelier one in place of the last two.

The grid has an interesting layout–we’re treated to some triple 5s alongside 6s on the far sides, but to achive that effect you have to provide only two entrances into the northwest and southeast swaths (note too that there’s only one entrance into the far corners of each of those sections). I prefer multiple inlets and outlets where possible; otherwise I have to hope like heck I know that one crossing letter.

At least the limited access points appear to facilitate smooth fill. The grid’s nicely devoid of junk in the way of arbitrary abbreviations, foreign words, and Crosswordese. And remember, the theme necessarily adds four Ks, and that’s not the easiest consonant with which to work.

Favorite entry = ICHIRO [Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners New York Yankees]. Favorite clue = [Owner of Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm] for SARA LEE. Nobody doesn’t like this clue, right?

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18 Responses to Wednesday, 11/14/12

  1. Zulema says:

    This page hadn’t come up yet, so I wrote two reviews of what was happening to me on the Tuesday blog. I see I am not the only one and appreciate your comments on your experience. You mean everything will appear if I just sit and wait 45 or 50 seconds? But if I give up and want to go back to the NYT main page, I can’t. Right click and say “close” and it’s frozen. Eventually, and I have tried many times, I have to restart the whole computer to get rid of the stuck little aquares at the bottom of my screen that actually obscure what’s there behind them. It is incredibly time wasting. Also it wants me to log in every time, although I am logged in on the main page. Talk about fewer steps! I am livid. I have written to them, no answer.

  2. In this post-LUTIST era, I’m not sure there’s much of a market for this guitar created by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer, either…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp1wHZfZz9s

    …but then, there’s only one Pat Metheny.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    I am out of town so have been solving the puzzle using the IPad Crux app. No problems there.

  4. tjk says:

    ORCA part deux?

    • Daniel Myers says:

      Thanks, Lois, that contradictory meaning ascribed to AUGHT always makes my skin crawl. It’s almost as annoying as having to reboot my computer twice after the screen froze in order to solve today’s puzzle.

  5. LAURENCE N. WALKER says:

    Amy – I tried the url you suggested and got nothing.
    Hope they work it out soon.
    Incididentally I got the .puz version from Will Johnston’s page and printed it out.

  6. Evad says:

    Not sure if folks are still looking for a pdf link of the daily NYT, but that’s available as well on our “Today’s Puzzles” page below the AcrossLite link. Seems to still work after the redesign…I wonder if I should be forwarding my resume to the hiring tech manager there?

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Loved today’s puzzle, and its original, creative theme. Lutes and lyres have different designs. A lute is more like a little harp you hold in the crook of your arm. A lyre is a precursor to a guitar or kithara with strings anchored to a single post in a frame and fanning out from it. The fingerboard, with a tuning peg for each string was the next development. As I understand it, guitar, zither, kithara all have the same etymology. The lyre (and subsequent kithara) produced a bigger sound, and was easier to hold and to play with something approaching virtuosity than the lute. (If I’m remembering this music history at all accurately.)

  8. Christopher Jablonski says:

    Interesting: my crossword app Shortyz pulled in an AV club puzzle by Aimee Lucido today. Anyone else see it? I can tell it’s new because there’s a plug for the subscription model at 1a.

    • Martin says:

      The new AV Club puzzles, formerly the AV Club puzzles, will continue to be posted the old way for a bit, perhaps through November. There’s also a bonus puzzle this week.

  9. Huda says:

    Haha… Now I understand! I thought it was the Italian internet connection that was causing me troubles! The weirdest part is that I used my bookmark to log in and download the Acrosslite NYT, and got a puzzle that I liked and solved in maximum speed. It felt oddly familiar, though, as it should have because it was a Tuesday puzzle from Paula Gamache from 2010 about THINGS THAT SWING! Yet the date of the main NYT page is correct for today, I can get the headlines, etc. but repeatedly get this August 10 puzzle. I had to come to this website to download today’s correct puzzle! How LOOPY is that!

    This is the second major corporation that has released an inadequately ready website… Delta Airlines being the other one– Imagine trying to check in on line, when it’s that kind of buggy.
    Evad, your skills are definitely needed!

  10. Cmm says:

    NYT- loved the theme, hated some of the fill. High point for me (secondarily to the Ah ha! Moment) was the clue for CLAM (28A),
    Little confused how you can confuse a little harp with a little guitar-ish instrument (kind of like a ukulele). Or was that self-deprecating for the sake of comedy?

  11. sandirhodes says:

    Sam: :I’m afraid we have to dock a point for the [hyphen break] inconsistency.

    Actually, I feel that this is more challenging, and therefore not a deduction. However, the inconsistency then becomes multiple with the other themers. But that has to be moderated due to the difficulty of finding other themers with a challenging break.

    Net result? Dock a point!?

    Lol.

  12. TexansBeatBears says:

    Re: LAT 11/14/12 Dan Schoenholz

    Amy, I’m astounded at how much I agree with your assessment of this very clever puzzle. Most notably, a gallbladder’s shape is a “pear”…huh? I live in Houston, TX & our Chronicle uses the same service as the LA Times. My 1st time on this site. Thanks!

    • Gareth says:

      Welcome TexansBeatBears!

      Yes, although in the clues defense it is described that way in several places… It was just my observation that it’s more than a little sketchy!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “TexansBeatBears”? What a terrible username! My 12-year-old Chicago-native son thinks you should change it.

  13. TexansBeatBears says:

    Gareth, please forgive me. I wrongly credited Amy for your spot-on assessment of the LA Times 11/14/12 puzzle. Very sorry.

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