Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NYT 3:13 
LAT 4:40 (Gareth) 
CS untimed (Sam) 
Tausig untimed 

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 1 23 13, 0123

Three 2-letter words and two 2-letter abbreviations that precede people words are used to clue people whose initials are the same as the 2 letters in question:

  • 19a. [Po boy?], PETER O’TOOLE. Hasn’t been a boy in over 60 years.
  • 29a. [L.A. woman?], LAILA ALI. Strange to have UCLA a few rows above.
  • 35a. [In person?], ISAAC NEWTON. Odd. “In” works as a preposition here, rather than as a word that modifies what comes after it.
  • 42a. [P.R. man?], PAUL RYAN.
  • 52a. [It girl?], IVANKA TRUMP. Technically a woman now.

Interesting idea, but it doesn’t quite cohere for me.

Likes: HEY YA, SOFTIE, POMPOM, AVEENO (the preferred lotion brand chez Fiend, good for sensitive skin), ACID RAIN, LL COOL J, CHOCOLATY, IOWA STATE, APROPOS.

Favorite clues:

  • 46d. [Cell body], INMATE. No science needed.
  • 49d. [One raising a stink?], SKUNK.
  • 3d. Tallest member of a basketball team, often], CENTER.

3.5 stars. The good fill elevates this puzzle.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Take Aim”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, January 23

You’ll find AIM hidden inside each of the four theme entries:

  • 17-Across: The [Fomer US/German auto company] is DAIMLER CHRYSLER.
  • 33-Across: MAIMONIDES is the [Preeminent Jewish Philosopher of medieval times].  I don’t think we’ve met. Good thing I saw the theme or I would have been lost with some of the letters.
  • 40-Across: ANOUK AIMEE is the ["Pret-a-Porter" star]. Don’t know the film (?) but I recall seeing her name in crosswords before, maybe for something like La Dolce Vita.
  • 57-Across: A [Specialty] is, for many, one’s MAIN CLAIM TO FAME. Great entry, but it’s the only theme entry that’s not a proper noun.

With a title like Take Aim I would expect to see a subtraction theme (where AIM would be “taken”) from common terms containing that sequence. But this is not a subtraction theme (so we’re not taking anything out), nor does it seem to matter much what happens to the AIM in each case (so it wouldn’t appear we are taking anything to another location in the grid). I guess we should read the title as “Take AIM, for instance, a three-letter sequence that can be found inside other, longer terms.” But that doesn’t do much for me, really. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’m missing something really cool. That wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to me. See Senior Prom, 1986.

In the “I-Had-No-Idea” Department comes YOB, a [London lout] that suggests the palindromic BOY YOB, [French composer Erik] SATIE, and AMIS as the answer for [Kingsley or Martin]. Are they French pals or something?

Some of the fill pinged Amy’s Scowl-o-Meter, like AT A, ERS, EER, ULE, TECS, DLI, BEERY, EMEER, and MEA jump out now. In smaller doses, all of these might well be fine (well, there’s a special place in hell reserved for ULE–just a few circles up from SER). But the combination of them was noticeable.

Favorite entry = DEADBEATS, the [Freeloaders] in the northwest corner of the grid. Favorite clue = [Quidditch player's need] for BROOM.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Track Conversion”

Ink Well crossword solution, 1 23 13 “Track Conversion,” by Ben Tausig

Take familiar songs and build Hindu-deity puns into the titles, and this is what you get:

  • 17a, 18a. With 18-Across, converted version of a 1975 Pink Floyd song], VISHNU / WERE HERE. (“Wish You Were Here.”)
  • 28a. [Genre for Peter Gabriel's "Shakti Monkey," say], HINDI ROCK. (“Shock the Monkey.”) Hindi is a language and the gods are from the Hindu religion, and the two are not interchangeable. Something like [Genre that might lend itself to the deity puns in this puzzle's theme entries] would provide cover.
  • 49a. [Converted version of 50 Cent's biggest hit], INDRA CLUB. (“In da Club.”)
  • 59a, 37a. [With 37-Across, converted version of an LL Cool J classic], RAMA SAID / KNOCK YOU OUT. (“Mama Said Knock You Out.”)

Highlights:

  • 36d. [Hot studio session, perhaps], YOGA CLASS. I don’t want to do yoga in a room that’s over 100°.
  • 26a. [Sheen's birth name], ESTEVEZ. Martin and Charlie use Sheen, while Emilio sticks with the Estevez. Wouldn’t Emilio Sheen and Charlie Estevez be more fun?
  • 51a. [Tabloid's scoop], SEX CULT. Oh, my!
  • 8d. Host for Jennings, Craig, Pahk, and Watson, among others], TREBEK. I know Pahk, and have met and corresponded with Jennings and Craig. Watson never responds.
  • 9d. [Bump and grind, e.g.], VERBS.
  • 46d. [Easily forgotten information for a rarely checked account], USER ID.  All the time.
  • 49d. [Starlet of note, for now], IT GIRL.
  • 50d. [Use a line on], CHAT UP.

3.5 stars.

Mark Feldman’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times crossword solution, 1 23 13

Short write-up tonight. Sorry.

Mark Feldman employs a simple formula with quite a number of options today. However, he has also managed to include a massive eight (shorter) theme answers, and has also kept the theme very tight. Witness: all the answers – DOGWATCH, RATPACK, FOXGLOVE, HOGWASH, PIGIRON, MOUSEPAD, COWSLIP and BULLHORN - use the mammal in the first half in a non-animal sense (even if some of the phrases historically referred to the animal in question). That said, I found the duplication of HOG- and PIG- a bit distracting, as well as COW-, BULL- though.

Eight themers places strain on anyone’s grid, but there are few signs of it here. Not too much non-theme colour (but we 8 themers, so, hey swings and roundabouts), but we do have KASHMIR and SELAH (I suspect some will feel the opposite about the latter answer). MCELROY was today’s mystery man, I’m not up on minor (I’m guessing he comes up a bit in the history of the Korean War) American politicians of the mid twentieth century… RWE was a tough, unusual monogram – Ralph Waldo Emerson – though I can’t be the only one to reflexively put in RLS off the R!

I’ll give it 3.8 recurring. Sorry for the short write-up. Cheers all!

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12 Responses to Wednesday, January 23, 2013

  1. Huda says:

    I thought this was fun. I took “boy” and “girl” in the most generic sense of indicating gender, not worrying about age. And In Person could be read as the In Crowd, although I can see that it mostly brings to mind the usual meaning of being present in the flesh.

    What an odd mix of people, ISAAC NEWTON and IVANKA TRUMP in the same theme!

  2. HH says:

    “Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’m missing something really cool.”

    No, you’re just asking too much.

  3. Howard B says:

    Yeha, this was a fun and clever theme. I’m not a believer that every theme has to cohere on multiple levels. This one has the commonality of “common phrases with a 2-letter initial word used as clues, doubling as a famous person’s initials”. That’s plenty for me :). Oh yeah, and fun fill.

  4. Andrew Greene says:

    Once again, the discerning (and slightly insane) solver will notice an appropriate metapuzzle hidden in today’s NYT puzzle.

  5. Jimmy says:

    The fill in the NYT is most certainly NOT good. It is perfect/optimized/wonderful/thrilling and, of course, given Joel’s byline, fresh “to death.” A near-perfect Wednesday puzzle, with only a somewhat wobbly theme keeping it from the promised land. Thanks, Mr. Fagliano

  6. vijay says:

    “In the “I-Had-No-Idea” Department comes … AMIS as the answer for [Kingsley or Martin].”

    Can’t tell if this is a joke, but Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis are famous authors.

  7. Daniel says:

    Histoically, the word is pompon. The “m” ending spelling seems to have recently made its way as an alternate, probably through relentless typo-ing.

    • Matt says:

      It’s true that the original French word has an ‘n’ at the end, but, FWIW, the OED disagrees about ‘pom-pom’ with an ‘m’ at the end being recent. Citations for ‘pom-pom’ as something a cheerleader waves go back to 1920, and citations for pom-pom as a clothing ornament go back to 1878.

  8. Todd G says:

    Is an IN MATE like an In person?

  9. ArtLvr says:

    I enjoyed the LAT’s animal-prefix theme most today, from RATPACK to MOUSEPAD: much fun and well done. Liked the Tausig least, since the deity puns depended on unfamiliar songs. Well, maybe I should have seen VISHNU WERE HERE… As for the NYT puzzle, my reaction was only luke-warm — maybe because of the IVANKA’s reminding me of latest news that the Dumbo Donald wants to take over the NYT publication! Egad.

  10. zroxpct says:

    If I remember correctly, the LL Cool J song in Tausig’s puzzle is “Knock You Out (Mama Said)”. That explains the order of the fill a bit better than the description above. Had “Lama Said” for a while.

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