Thursday, 11/15/12

NYT 4:15 
LAT 3:52 
Tausig tba 
CS 6:26 (Sam) 
BEQ 5:50 (Matt) 

Andrew Reynolds’ New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 15 12, 1115

Theme: An untimely ARBOR Day, which is about TREES. There are spaced-out circled squares spelling FOREST, and the rest of the theme is six tree names hidden “in appropriate places” in the grid. Oh, joy. Word search/picture drawing time. ELM in DELMONICO. OAK in SOAKED UP. FIG in INFIGHTING. PEAR in REAPPEARS. ASH in IN A FLASH. DATE in CANDIDATES. Each tree intersects one of the circled letters.

I always think it feels cheap to use fruit as tree names in word puzzles. Around these parts, we mostly have crab apple trees, but no fig, date, or pear trees. I think my grandparents might’ve had a small pear tree back in the day, but fig trees/shrubs and date palms are definitely not hardy Midwestern plants.

Likes: MAURITANIA (don’t you love it that there’s another country that starts with the same first 6 letters? Mauritius is a lot smaller), “YES, DEAR,” the BIG SKY Conference, PEABO Bryson, and UMAMI (not so much the taste as the word).

Dislikes: ARDUA, ELENI, A LAMB. Plus those figs and dates! I hear they are delicious, but I haven’t really given them a try. They don’t really work at all from a locavore standpoint if you live in Chicago.

3.25 stars.

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 11 15 12

Hey! Tasty theme. I saw which way it was heading with the first and third theme entries filled in. Spud time!

  • 17a. [Negotiator's assets], BARGAINING CHIPS. Crunch!
  • 25a. [Utterly squashed], FLAT AS A PANCAKE. Why choose between applesauce and sour cream? I take both.
  • 45a. [Easily identifiable teams, in casual games], SHIRTS AND SKINS.
  • 58a. [1885 Van Gogh painting (whose subjects may have appreciated the ends of 17-, 25- and 45-Across)], THE POTATO EATERS. Not The Potatoe Aters, but that E right after POTATO screams Quayle, doesn’t it?

Ooh, a theme about a starchy tuber often made into junk food turns classy in the end, with Van Gogh.

Five things:

  • 25d. For [Club with the motto "To Make the Best Better"], did anyone else want the answer to be MENSA? It’s FOUR-H, which of course styles itself as “4-H” rather than spelling out FOUR.
  • 11d. [Author of "The Sandman" graphic novels], NEIL GAIMAN. Have not read him, but know the name.
  • 38d. [Named for a prez, Philly public square also known as Love Park], JFK PLAZA. Okay, that’s interesting and Scrabbly, but it would have been better to choose a different airport code for the 31d: ETDS clue. [JFK listings]? No, no, no.
  • 5d. [Pacific-12 Conference member], UTAH UTES. Whoa. We’ve had UTE or UTES probably hundreds of times, but I don’t remember ever seeing UTAH UTES in the grid.
  • 41d. [Master card?], TRUMP. As in trump card. No Donald, thankfully.

Liked seeing BIJOU, ROCK ON, INIGO Montoya (“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”), HOOCH, and ZZ TOP in the grid. And ALL IN! It’s clued as [Fully committed], though, and not the title of Broadwell’s biography of Petraeus. 24d: [Subway addition?] is a fun clue for MAYO.

Tough crossings, potentially: 50a: [USS Missouri nickname], BIG MO, crossing 50d: [USAF stealth plane], B-TWO, at the B. 49a: [Really quiet, in music], PPP, crossing 47d: [WWI German vice admiral], SPEE.

Four stars.

Updated Thursday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “How Does Your Garden Grow?”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, November 15

As Dick Clark would say on The $100,000 Pyramid, “describe these things you find in a garden.” But just for kicks, make them the last words in other expressions that use those words in a different context. With those instructions, you might get a list that looks like this:

  • 16-Across: The [iPhone accessories] are WIRELESS EAR BUDS. You’ll see below that all of the other theme entries are only two words long, so this one stands out for its inconsistency. On the other hand, it’s a nice, modern entry. Yin and yang.
  • 26-Across: The [Radical results?] are SQUARE ROOTS. Unlike the straightforward clues to the other theme entries, this one involves wordplay. So it stands out for its inconsistency. On the other hand, it’s a cute clue. Yin and yang.
  • 41-Across: The [Sailors' requests] are SHORE LEAVES. Good entry; no inconsistencies. High fives all around!
  • 53-Across: The [Open rankings] are TOURNAMENT SEEDS.

I wonder if Randy got an extra nickel for every time he worked either “Salon” or an alcohol reference into the puzzle. There’s [Salon creation] for a COIF, [Salon, e.g.] for an E-ZINE, SMASHED, WINE RED, ZIN, ASTI, and a CASK. I have no problems with this; brother’s gotta make some green. But it wasn’t exactly subtle.

Some mysteries for me included EATS COLD (an expression that doesn’t feel very natural to my ear), WANLY (a term that’s not at the tip of my tongue), ATL (short for Atlantic and devilishly close to ALA, my first guess for [It borders Fla.]), and ODOURS (clued as [Bath scents?]). Look at you with the British spelling for “odors.” Way to cover up a smelly entry!

Favorite entry = I AM I SAID, the [Neil Diamond hit]. Favorite clue = [Quick loss scheme] for a FAD DIET 

Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Moving Pictures” — Matt’s review

Brendan has really been kicking it up a notch lately, and I’m not just saying that because of 53-across in Monday’s puzzle. Today’s puzzle is his usual creative stuff: you know those animated GIFs, like the guy who keeps typing on his keyboard until he turns into a bloody pulp? Over and over again, every 10 seconds? Yeah, that one.

Brendan celebrates this art form with a GIF that keeps jumping around in all six possible forms of that trigram:

16-a [Solve, as a puzzle] = FIGURE IT OUT.
21-a [Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, with "The"] = POWERPUFF GIRLS. Now I know.
28-a ['70s teen idol now more known for drug troubles] = LEIF GARRETT. Heartwrenching story I know because I’ve watched the VH1 special on him about five times. The best of the “Behind the Music” series.
40-a [Kwik-E-Mart town] = SPRINGFIELD. Perhaps the first crossword clue in history to use the name “Kwik-E-Mart” for an answer longer than three letters.
47-a ["So what!"] = BIG FRIGGIN’ DEAL. Did you have to erase a few letters like I did?
56-a [Looping on-line image, and hint to this puzzle's theme] = ANIMATED GIF.

So this is a pretty cute idea. The main drawback is that using each of the six possible permutations of G-I-F doesn’t illustrate the key point of an animated GIF, which, as Brendan points out, is that it loops. It’s still a nice idea, but I would’ve given this one an extra half-star if there had been seven theme entries with the first and seventh containing GIF, so we could see the loop.

Quick solve, so very easy (took me 5:50 which means it took Amy about 4:30). In her review of Monday’s puzzle, Amy wrote:

Typically Quigleyan fresh cluing throughout. Note the clues for NSA, [Grp. with a "Cryptokids" section on their website]; FANATICS, [Extended Director's Cut Special Edition Gift Set purchasers]; RETYPES, [Confirms a Captcha]; REDEEMED, [Used, as a Groupon]; ELLIS, [Pitcher Dock who threw a no-hitter on LSD]; and LA-LA land, [Land of the lost?]. Web trivia and terminology, humor, contemporary settings like Groupon, drug sports trivia, a play on a familiar title—these are not the sort of clues you’d find in a Monday NYT crossword. They’re creative and demonstrate that Brendan thinks beyond the obvious dictionary-related sort of clues.

This is also true of today’s puzzle, where every clue looks like Brendan sat down with it for a minute or two at least. Here are a few:

13-a [When Tabitha woke up today] = FOUR AM. I love these clues about Brendan’s shortie. He must be the first/only constructor to chronicle his baby’s development in cruciverbal form.

46-a ["Mr. Howard" to Jesse James, e.g.] = ALIAS. Learned something new & interesting.

23-a [Oft-swapped person] = WIFE. Something you wanna tell us, Brendan?

36-a [You send it via YouSendIt] = FILE.

Good stuff. 4.23 stars.

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10 Responses to Thursday, 11/15/12

  1. janie says:

    and there’s a bonus tree: gum……

    ;-)

    p.s. your comment about fig trees reminded me of this article about fig trees in brooklyn. who’da thunk?!

  2. I couldn’t see the FOREST for the TREES. Or vice versa.

  3. Howard B says:

    Silly me. Never did quite figure out the Times theme either, since I found the tree in STREEP (Thanks for that validation, Bob!), saw the circled FOREST, and never quite recovered. So I solved the rest of it, but failed that challenging word search meta :).

    I think Meryl Streep actually could play a tree and be convincing. She’s impressive.

  4. Kristi McLean says:

    CS puzzle….

    I put in entries for the answer to, Arizona and Texas, to Mexicans clue, “hey” don’t judge me, it fit. I then put the wine holder answer as a case, “hey” don’t judge me, it fit and probably why I put entries instead of estados in the first place. Since I only drink Chard I was stuck on the Cab clue and kept trying to get Van to fit in there and I kept trying to maroon someone on an island…..Again with the red wine…..I guess I really do need to branch out with my wine color selection.

    Enough with the whining. Good job Randolph…….

  5. Gareth says:

    I thought the trees spelling out FOREST layer was extremely elegant!

    Also really loved Lim’s revealing answer! NEILGAIMAN is a cool answer, I’ve read his novel (with Terry Pratchett) Good Omens and really loved the movie of Coraline (based on one of his stories!)

  6. Zulema says:

    GUM right by the forest and a ROSE tree up above. There’s a traditional Christmas carol with a Rose tree blooming in it. All very pleasant images. Figs are delicious, I know of one in Yonkers (a tree).

  7. Alan says:

    Right on about the LAT’s using JFK in a clue and an answer. It was SO easily avoidable (LGA anyone?) that it had to be on purpose. Are they just flaunting the conventions?

  8. ArtLvr says:

    I had a huge pear tree in my back yard as a child, over two stories tall, and we had swings of the rope and plank variety suspended from the lowest branch. Oddly, nothing was ever done with the fruit except for a fall cleanup… Rather wish I had one now!

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