Wednesday, February 6, 2013

NYT 2:58 
Tausig untimed 
LAT 5:28 (Gareth) 
CS 4:47 (Sam) 

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 6 13, #0206

Again, a Wednesday puzzle that’s easier than Tuesday’s. What-what?

And did you have trouble getting the NYT puzzle page to show you Wednesday’s puzzle? I did, for at least 11 minutes, at which point I visited the Diary of a Crossword Fiend “Today’s Puzzles” page and downloaded the puzzle just fine. The puzzle file is there, hiding inside the NYT’s servers; it’s just not being presented on time on the web. Had a 3- or 4-minute delay yesterday, I think. Huh.

The Wednesday theme is BROKEN PROMISE (57a. [Result of not following through (of which there are four examples in this puzzle's grid)]), and the circled letters in four places spell out PROMISE in a zig-zag, to the left and to the right, up and down. This means that the rest of the fill is entirely themeless, yes? I don’t know why the broken PROMISEs take the form that they do. They’re not broken at all—they’re just not in a straight line.

Least accessible fill:

  • 10a. [Michigan college or its town], ALMA. I once worked with a woman who went there. Not a big school.
  • 24a. ["The Wiz" director], LUMET. Of all the things I remember Sidney Lumet for, The Wiz is not one of them. I remember the movie/musical, but not who directed it.
  • 40a. [Fiancée of Napoleon], DESIREE. Raise your hand if you know this from crosswords. Okay, now stomp your foot if you know it from reading history. *hand raised, foot still*
  • 49a. [Napoleonic marshal Michel], NEY. Don’t recall seeing the first name Michel in a NEY clue before. Napoleon! He’s all over this puzzle. He probably broke some promises.
  • 27d. ["The Pied Piper of Hamelin" river], WESER.
  • 39d. [1954-77 defense grp.], SEATO. This has been big in crosswords since … probably around 1954. Has abated a bit since 1977.

The puzzle tried to alienate me right away. First, it’s calling me BIG AMY, and then it sticks two partials into that corner (A SHIP, GET NO), with another (A-ROPE) just below.

LARRY BIRD is terrific, and I like RAKISH, Jim THORPE, ANOMIE, SENIOR PROJECT, and the BB GUN that’ll shoot your eye out. I could do without cross-referenced O SOLE  and MIO (and tell me [classic Neapolitan tune] didn’t make you think of Napoleon again), SRI, AMB, SAO, GORME, and IONA.

Three stars. Those PROMISEs aren’t broken!

Updated Wednesday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Short Range”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, February 6

66-Across (down there in the southeast corner) tells us that A TO B is a [Phrase indicating slight progress, and a hint to this puzzle's theme]. That’s because the four theme entries all start with A and end with B. But the progress from A to B is hardly slight–each time we have to add 12 or 13 letters between the two ends! See for yourself:

  • 20-Across: One who is [Far from attentive] may be ASLEEP ON THE JOB. At first I wanted ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL, but (a) that didn’t fit and (b) I obviously hadn’t caught on to the theme yet.
  • 25-Across: ALASKAN KING CRAB is the ["Deadliest Catch" catch]. At least that one I could plunk down right away. I’ve never seen the show, though I am familiar with the premise.
  • 45-Across: One who is [Completely harmless] is AS GENTLE AS A LAMB. Having been raised in the country, I know that not every lamb is as advertised.
  • 50-Across: The ["To sleep, perchance to dream" follower] is AY, THERE’S THE RUB. {Joke redacted because it may well pan out to be a fun crossword theme! It’s always nice when inspiration strikes!}

I took a couple of missteps, first by having ERECT for [Standing upright] instead of ON END. That led me to VETERANS as the [Seasoned pros], but that nagging V at the end of 5-Across just had to be wrong. Sure enough, once I got that HOOPLA was the [Major publicity], I realized the pros were OLD HANDS. My other problem entry was KEPT MUM, clued as [Didn't say a word]. I got the KEPT part easily enough, but I kept wanting KEPT QUIET or KEPT SILENT, neither of which would fit, of course. Fortunately, the crossings for MUM were easy enough that I didn’t stew over this one for very long.

Okay, tell me I’m not alone here: the clue is [Natural gas, e.g.] and the answer is four letters long and starts with F. Somebody else had to be thinking of a word rhyming with “chart,” right? Someone? Anyone? Please?

Favorite entry = I OBJECT, the [Words from an interrupting attorney]. Favorite clue = [Candidate for People's Sexiest Man Alive] for HUNK. DONALDSON didn’t fit.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Switching Sides”

Ben Tausig Ink Well crossword solution, “Switching Sides” 2 6 13

The L(eft) and R(ight) letters in the first word in each theme answer have been switched, and put in proper left-to-right order:

  • 20a. [Reality show about Botoxed Shakespearean actresses?], LEAR HOUSEWIVES.Real Housewives of __.
  • 35a. [Hand model's appeal?], LURE OF THUMB. Rule of thumb.
  • 44a. [Cargo headed to a dragon's factory?], LAIR FREIGHT. Rail freight.
  • 55a. [Dentist?], MOLAR AUTHORITY. Moral authority. This one’s my favorite themer.

Ten more things:

  • 9a. [Portmanteau for a piece of eye broccoli], FUGLY. “Eye broccoli” is new to me, but I hate broccoli so that works.
  • 17a. [Popular image manager], INSTAGRAM. I just don’t get the appeal.
  • 23a. [It might get you into more underground stuff], HOE. What was more underground than the bones of Richard III?
  • Fun clue two-fer: 40a. [Influential play for the genre of sci-fi], RUR, and 41a. [Tim Rice musical with absolutely no influence on sci-fi], EVITA.
  • 64a. [Record of dad getting hit in the crotch, perhaps], HOME MOVIE. You’ve seen America’s Funniest (Home) Videos, right? Even just once?
  • 65a. [Hypocritical pejorative when used by millionaire senators born into political families], ELITE. Right?
  • 67a. [Page partner], PLANT. Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin.
  • 10d. [Like the haircut I just got from this old Polish dude that then I had to fix], UNEVEN. So after I test-solved this puzzle, Ben T. posted on Facebook that he was going to get a haircut. I wondered whether this seemingly autobiographical clue was a lie. But no! The old Polish dude made him look like a Dumb and Dumber character, terrible. The hairy-armed Uzbek barber fixed Ben’s head with haircut #2. No more Moe from the Three Stooges.
  • 60d. [Big name in bloodthirsty sixteenth-century empire building], IVAN. So terrible, that Ivan.

3.75 stars.

Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 2 6 13

Fun idea to mine country names for puns. Feels like it could’ve been expanded to a Sunday in fact, depending how you are willing to torture your puns…

Theme entries are:

  • 17a, HUNGARYJACK, [European auto club device?]. No idea on the base phrase, which appears to be a brand in America. I have eaten at Hungry Jack’s though… The Australian equivalent of burger king!
  • 27a, GREECEMONKEY, [Balkan primate?]. Grease monkey.
  • 43a, QATARSTRINGS, [Mideast orchestral group?]. Guitar strings. I had to stare at that one for a while post-solve!
  • 57a, TONGATRUCKS, [South Pacific 18-wheelers?]. Tonka trucks.

Not the greatest 1a ever: MCCC aka the Marylebone Cricket Club Club! Otherwise very little untoward answers but few eye-poppers either. Felt quite essy, though I’m sure it’s no more S-heavy than any other puzzle. STYMIE and MOJO are nice as short answers, and the clue [Buffalo] for the former is clever, although I saw through it! I think I might have mentioned it before, but NAN clued as a Bobbsey signifcantly out-performs Bert appearance-wise. My copy of Matt Ginsburg’s database (which is a bit out of date) gives the tallies as 107 to 4!

3.2 Stars.

P.s. It may be a pangram. I don’t have the desire to confirm this…

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8 Responses to Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  1. Huda says:

    I thought it was clever! To me, if the expectation is that the word is in a straight line, then a word that is spelled across 3 lines breaks the pattern…

    Beyond the Napoleon mini theme, I like the academic mini theme with the SENIOR PROJECT and the LECTURERS , the green science ECOL and ALMA college. I also loved seeing MIMOSA in the puzzle.

    I know Désirée from neither puzzles nor history but from having seen this movie at some point in life:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9sir%C3%A9e_%28film%29

  2. Sparky says:

    I remembered the movie Desiree with Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons. Played like a themeless to me.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks, Huda, for the link to the film Desirée! It will be one to look for…
    Chuckled at the BIG AMY comment too. Did it relate to a broken New Year’s PROMISE?
    I enjoyed Doug’s LAT — very smooth, though it took me an extra few seconds at the end to see the A-B!

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Correction: Doug’s CS puzzle, not LAT!

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I liked the NYT better than the consensus. As an aside, 63a correctly states the key of the piece known as Für Elise, as A minor. I think it was Ben Tausig who accurately delved deeper and offered the clue “{Disputed Beethoven dedicatee}. Beethoven had notoriously awful handwriting. It is now almost certain that the dedicatee was Therese Malfatti, and that B. actually wrote ‘Für Therese.’ So the wrong girl has gotten the credit all these years. :-) Therese Malfatti is not to be confused with Therese Brunsvik, another of B’s many lady friends. (You need a scorecard to keep track.) Brunswick has been proposed as a candidate for the identity of the “Immortal Beloved” (the Unsterbliche Gelibte), one of the most fascinating and enduring of all historical mysteries. Many who have researched the issue thoroughly (I will even count myself among them, having studied many primary and secondary sources, including many letters to known addressees), have concluded that the most likely candidate is Therese’s sister, Josephine Brunsvik. We now can pin down date of the letter to early 1812, and we know a good bit about what Beeth. was doing and who was where at the time. As I say, Ludwig got around.

    Also loved this week’s Tausig although the page plant clue meant absolutely nothing to me.

  6. Maikong says:

    Sam —

    I placed the “u” before I got the “f” so I never entertained the thought!!!!!!

    Maikong

  7. Joan macon says:

    Amy, did you know that besides Bert and Nan there was another set of Bobbsey twins? Flossie and Freddy were younger. I don’t know why I can pull that out of my memory well when I can’t remember something I did yesterday, but there it is.

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