Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jonesin' 4:21 
NYT 3:23 
LAT 3:13 
CS 5:04 (Sam) 

Allan Parrish’s New York Times crossword

Tuesday, 1 8 13 NY Times crossword solution, 0108

Interesting theme: What can you do with a DECK OF CARDS?

  • 20a. [1977 Boz Scaggs hit], LIDO SHUFFLE. This is the “one more for the road” song.
  • 27a. [Source of ground chuck], SHOULDER CUT. That’s a thing? I’ll take a meat-eater’s word for it.
  • 45a. [All-in-one offer], PACKAGE DEAL. V. good.
  • 54a. [Something with which you might do the actions at the ends of 20-, 27- and 45-Across], DECK OF CARDS.

Solid theme, but the puzzle’s got some decidedly non-Tuesday-friendly fill. Italian AMARE, old jazz CLEO, EDMOND (“I used the crossings”) Hoyle, VIREO, SAAR, intersecting Spanish ANO and POR, TATAR, old RKO? Those seem more Wednesday-and-beyond to me.

Fill I liked: HANG OUT AT, ARGENTINA, INSPECTOR, I’LL BET, CHUG.

Troublesome clue: 48a: [Woman with an Afro, maybe], SISTA. Ouch. [Brutha's sib], a pop culture clue like ["Nature of a ___" (Queen Latifah album)], sure. [African-American woman, slangily], that’s basic enough. If you have to target a SISTA’s hair … well, it’s not going to go well. Remember Don Imus and the “nappy-headed hos” outrage? How about Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair? It’s about the social hegemony of weaves and chemical relaxers, vs. naturals (curly and short), dreads, and, a teeny fraction of the time, Afros. Black women with bushier hair are often faced with non-black folks who will reach right out and touch their hair without asking (how often does a stranger or mere acquaintance try to touch your hair? pretty much never, unless you’re black), so hair is a deeply freighted issue. And the term SISTA is also one that is perhaps best wielded by its in-group. It’s not as loaded as the N-word, but the clue’s sort of saying, “Hey, you! Sista with the ‘fro!” and who does that really apply to?

And furthermore! Although two regular nouns generally win out over two proper nouns, actor Jeremy SISTO crossing one of the ORSONs available to crosswords would have skirted the entire issue.

Mystery usage of the day: 1d: [Big New Year's Day events], BOWLS. Who says that? “Gonna watch the bowls all day today!” Bowl games, that’s the usage that sounds natural and familiar to me. Any of you folks refer to the Doritos Extra Hot Like Fire Sugar Bowl and the Meineke Muffler Orange Bowl (I may have these sponsors a little wrong) as “bowls” rather than “bowl games”?

Three stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Team Play”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, January 8

Today’s puzzle re-imagines three 15-letter terms as relating to professional sports teams. It’s easy to do, since each starts with a word that happens to be a name of a professional sports franchise:

  • 17-Across: CELTIC MYTHOLOGY is clued as a [Boston team's tall stories of greatness?]. The achievements of the Boston Celtics are hardly mythical–I wonder if Tony is taking a playful swipe at Boston fans.
  • 41-Across: The [Washington, D.C. team's payroll allotment?] refers to CAPITAL SPENDING by the Washington Capitals, an NHL team that might actually start playing soon.
  • 65-Across: A [New York team's knack for scoring runs?] might be YANKEE INGENUITY, a further tease at the expense of Boston fans.

I like how we get entries featuring three of the four major professional sports in the United States.  The sports theme is echoed in some of the fill. We have ALLEY-OOPS and GIMME FIVE, the [Request for a hand?]. RAMS could have been clued with reference to the St. Louis football team (thus introducing our fourth major sport), but instead we got [Butts into].

Good thing I didn’t need to figure out 52-Down on my own. Since I had all the crossings in place, I never saw DRYAD, the [Wood nymph]. Better to be lucky than good, I suppose. I’m on first-name basis with neither nymphs nor nymphos; I guess I’ve had a somewhat sheltered life. If I’m going to take the Jeopardy! online test tomorrow, maybe I better brush up on them. The nymphs, I mean.

I kinda liked my answer for [One of 24]. With -OUR in place, I went with FOUR. Hey, it’s the second digit in 24, right? I was bummed that the answer proved to be HOUR.

Favorite entry = OUT WEST, the apparent [Opposite of "back east"]. I had FAR WEST at first, but I like this answer much better. Favorite clue = the aforementioned [Request for a hand?] for GIMME FIVE.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 1 8 13

A solo puzzle from Zhouqin this time. The theme is dried fruit:

  • 17a. [Traditional Christmas dessert], PLUM PUDDING.
  • 30a. [Sweet spread], GRAPE JELLY. The intervening CORN NUT is not part of the theme. Nor is 29d: PEAS IN A POD. Though you can get dried peas and corn comes in both fresh and dried (Corn Nuts!) versions, the dried ones aren’t chewy like dried fruit. Are there any chewy dried veggies, or do we only have crunchy dried veggies?
  • 47a. [Fiber-rich cereal], RAISIN BRAN.
  • 60a. [Coffee break treat], PRUNE DANISH.
  • 69a. [Helped with dinner cleanup--or, a hint to the relationship between the starts of 60-/17-Across and 47-/30-Across], DRIED.

Might’ve been cute to have FRESH at 1-Across, opposite DRIED. Perhaps the constructor tried it and didn’t like the fill she got with FRESH there? 2d: DELS

I like the crossing of 50d: [Swedish currency]/KRONOR with the latter part of PRUNE DANISH. There’s a Chicago café called Tre Kronor (“three crowns”) and though it’s Swedish, they have Danishes on the menu. A Swedish Danish? Yes. Delicious!

Other likes: NBA STAR, Roger FEDERER, INFERNO. Cute to have E. COLI crossing E-CARD—the two E-C*** options, together again.

Not fond of ENGR, SLUES, TSAR, SROS, HOD.

Three stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Mixology”

Jonesin’ crossword answers, 1 8 13 “Mixology”

You blend two things together and what do you get?

  • 20a. [Chess computer + thick directory?] combines Deep Blue and the Yellow Pages to get DEEP GREEN PAGES.
  • 35a. [Source of wealth + source of mozzarella?] mixes pay dirt and water buffalo for PAY MUD BUFFALO.
  • 51a. [Colorful bubbly + Dallas Mavericks shooting guard?] blends pink champagne and O.J. Mayo for PINK MIMOSA MAYO, which sounds like a really bad idea for a condiment.

I like that Matt found three entirely different sorts of mixes, rather than going with three color blends. This way, he keeps us guessing for longer and there are three mini-puzzles to figure out. The last one was the toughest for me because I’ve only faintly heard of the implausibly named O.J. Mayo.

Favorite clues:

  • 21d. [One of 26 for Stevie Wonder], GRAMMY.
  • 22d. [They can crash], PCS. Yes, indeed.
  • 35d. [Genre for Talking Heads and Killing Joke], POST-PUNK.
  • 46d. [Website to see if your favorite urban legend is really true] SNOPES. The Back to the Future date? It wasn’t last week. It’s in October 2015. You may well see doctored photos purporting to show different dates as the future date the Delorean traveled to, but it’s a sham! Snopes.com said so.

Not running into a ton of zippy clues here, though. In fill, I like DRY RUB, SNOPES, AMPHIBIA, POST-PUNK … that’s about it. 3.5 stars, owing to the theme’s innate puzzliness.

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8 Responses to Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  1. Evad says:

    Quite a coincidence how many letters of HABITUATE fit where HANG OUT AT was.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Belated note of high praise: Just did Julian Lim’s Sunday LAT, and thought it was fantastic. One of the most enjoyable Sunday puzzles for many months. Not just another old gray square.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Although I do agree about the clue for “Lestrade.” I was thinking of something like

    {Object of Holmes’ disdain}.

  4. sbmanion says:

    I found it amusing to see TONGA and TONKA in the same puzzle. I used to play poker with a TONGAN mother and her two sons. They were enormous. The two sons each weighed close to 400 pounds, but believe it or not, they were not morbidly obese, just huge. I have always wondered why people from South Sea islands get so big.

    Amy, I have not really thought about it, but I would have no problem saying “I am watching the bowls today.” In fact, my problem would be if I actually did watch the bowls as they have become so diluted. And just think, Alabama has mostly underclassmen: what a juggernaut.

    I enjoy any puzzle that revolves around cards, so thumbs up for today’s puzzle.

    Steve

  5. Christopher Jablonski says:

    It strikes me there are several potential fixes for the bottom-left corner in the NYT, but I wager the SISTA act is intentionally placed as an effort to maintain a certain level of discourse. But I’m pretty cynical.

  6. Gareth says:

    Don’t know what’s up with the poor ratings this puzzle’s been getting… I had fun. Don’t think I’ve seen this theme before, though it seems an obvious one…

    • Huda says:

      For some reason, the NYT solving experience seemed bumpy to me. The bottom fell very easily, but there were elements in the top that got in my way.. It’s my own ignorance, but the LIDO SHUFFLE is not at the tip of my tongue and the other theme entries were fine but not particularly sparkly. The fill was also somewhat uneven. Nice idea for a theme, though. May be it should have appeared on a Wednesday and the clues for the bottom made a bit tougher?

      I actually liked seeing the word SISTA in the puzzle. It could have been clued musically to go along with the music vibe elsewhere — e.g. a Beverly Knight album (Prodigal Sista) or as Amy suggested, with the Queen Latifa album.

  7. brh says:

    I stopped doing the puzzle to come here to see if that was seriously going to be ‘sista,’ so filled with disbelief was I. Yikes. Did enjoy ‘tonga’/'tonka’ though.

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