Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NYT 3:44 
Jonesin' 3:32 
LAT 2:44 
CS 4:57 (Sam) 

Mike Buckley’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 3 19 13 #0319

Didn’t we just see Mike Buckley’s NYT byline a few days ago? (Yes, last Thursday.) His theme today centers on “PARTY ON,” 40a: [Repeated "Wayne's World" cry ... or a hint to each half of 17-, 26-, 51- and 63-Across]. Both halves of those four answers can precede PARTY:

  • 17a. [Kind of mint], AFTER-DINNER. After-party after a play, dinner party.
  • 26a. [Chicken coop], HENHOUSE. Hen party (bleh), house party.
  • 51a. [Traditional Chinese beverage], GREEN TEA. The Green Party in politics, the Tea Party in U.S. history.
  • 63a. [Multiple-company building, to Brits], OFFICE BLOCK. Not a term I knew. But office party, don’t drink too much or you’ll embarrass yourself in front of your coworkers, and block party, don’t drink too much or you’ll embarrass yourself in front of your neighbors.

Kid ‘n Play!

Mystery item: 28a. [It's known as the Ship With the Mighty Stinger, U.S.S. WASP. Never heard of it.

Canadian geographical abbreviation quiz of the day: 25d. [It's above Alta. and Sask.], NWT. Not sure I’ve really seen the Northwest Territories abbreviated before.

The dictionary tells me that lissome is essentially a contraction of LITHESOME, 3d; [Like ballerinas]. LITHESOME is markedly less familiar to me. To you, too?

I don’t know about 49a: [Baked dessert with a little crunch], NUT CAKE. This is a thing? I don’t know this thing. I like nuts and I like cake, but this sounds like a combination of “nutso” and “fruitcake.”

This puzzle felt more like a Wednesday to me, thanks to fill like USSWASP and NUTCAKE and LITHESOME. And Monday’s theme also hit Wednesday-plus with its revealer. Every day is Wednesday! 3.33 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “You’ll Bounce Back”

Jonesin’ crossword answers, 3 19 13 “You’ll Bounce Back”

Nifty theme—though it took me a while to suss it out. Each theme answer has to “bounce back,” or double back on itself. Read it all the way across and then keep reading back to the left to finish the answer:

  • 17a. [Gets the final part of the collection], COMPLETESA. Completes a set.
  • 35a. [Trite sentiment on a postcard], WISHYOUWEREH. Wish you were here.
  • 42a. [Makes efforts to attend prom, say], TRIESTGETAD. Tries to get a date.
  • 62a. [The west side of Mexico], COSTAPACIF. Costa Pacifica.

Note the consistency of the bounce-back portion adding 3 letters to the phrase each time. Note, too, the bonus theme answer: 68a. [Chart of constellations], SKYMAP. That’s secretly “sky map Amy,” of course.

Highlights:

  • 28a. [Cracker with seven holes], RITZ. Seven? I did not know that. If this ever comes up in a trivia quiz, I will be ready for it.
  • 2d. ["Dukes of Hazzard" mechanic], COOTER. I’ll be visiting cooter country for spring break.
  • 18d. [Season opener?], PRE. We are in baseball’s preseason now.
  • 35d. [Golden brew], WHEAT BEER. Not a fan of the brew, but it looks good in a crossword puzzle.
  • 44d. [Genre for King Sunny Ade and Femi Kuti], AFROPOP.
  • 47d. [Awesome facial hair], STACHE. Short for mustache. Pretty sure that, in general, men are more besotted with mustaches than women are.

Mystery word: 6d. [___ Cat (pet food brand)], ATTA. As in “attaboy” and “attagirl”? That’s what I was guessing, because the crossing wasn’t helping me much—4a: [Ranks on the reggae charts], SHABBA. For your listening pleasure, here is Shabba Ranks’ “Ting-a-Ling.” Okay, I couldn’t listen to the whole thing.

I’m not finding much to talk about in the puzzle, but the theme takes a cool turn. 3.75 stars.

Pancho Harrison’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 3 19 13

The theme’s incredibly simple but I like the answers Pancho found to fit the “two words/parts of words, each with a double-O” theme:

  • 17a. [Play some b-ball], SHOOT HOOPS.
  • 25a. [Tinted feature of some cars], MOONROOF. What’s the difference between a sunroof and a moonroof?
  • 37a. [Infallible, as a scheme], FOOLPROOF. [Infallible, as a pope] would probably get you a different answer.
  • 51a. ["The Hustler" setting], POOLROOM. I prefer “pool hall” but that doesn’t fit the theme.
  • 62a. [Cereal with a spokestoucan], FROOT LOOPS.

It’s been awhile since I was prompted to give my medical editor’s grouse about an EEG clue. 20a: [Brain scan letters]? No! It’s not a scan. Medical scans involve taking pictures of what’s inside the body. The EEG is merely a tracing of electrical signals from the brain. No innards pix.

Highlights:

  • 32a. ["OMG, stop with the details already!"], “TMI.” The clue’s fun.
  • 57a. ["Like, obviously!"], “NO DUH.” Slangy good times.
  • 69a. [649,739 to 1 against being dealt a royal flush, e.g.], ODDS. I’m not checking the math.
  • 6d. ["What hump?" lab assistant], IGOR. Another fun clue.
  • 10d. [Bionic Woman, for one], CYBORG. I checked the dictionary and I guess anyone with bionic/mechanical body parts built in fits the definition. Removable prostheses presumably do not give one full cyborg status.

ATRA YAYA ESS AREEL LOMA and AES don’t do anything for me … although I do find the portion of I-55 named after Adlai E. Stevenson (which Chicagoans call “the Stevenson”) to be a convenient expressway. It has smelly patches, though, where the sludge is drying.

3.5 stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Excuse Me…”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, March 19

66-Across reveals the theme: BREAK INTO is both [Interrupt (and a hint to 17-, 28-, and 49-Across)]. Specifically those three entries are two-word answers where the first word ends with -IN and the second word starts with TO-. In a sense, then, we are “breaking” INTO by inserting a space between the N and the T.

Now that the theme’s over-explained, let’s look at the theme entries:

  • 17-Across: The [Meeting focus] is the MAIN TOPIC. I dunno, that clues feels a little off. [Paragraph's point] feels more precise to me, as I think of every paragraph having a “main topic.” Meetings have “agenda items,” not “main topics.” Maybe I’m construing “meeting” too narrowly.
  • 28-Across: ALVIN TOFFLER is the ["Future Shock" author]. It will likely come as no present shock to the reader to learn that I had no idea on this one. Fortunately, the all-over interlock pattern of American crosswords helped me get the correct answer.
  • 49-Across: JOIN TOGETHER is a [1972 hit by The Who]. Whatever. If it’s not Pinball Wizard, Magic Bus, or My Generation, it’s foreign to me.

Three things I liked about this puzzle, in list form: (1) seeing both AXL [Rose of Guns N/ Roses] and AXLE, the [Shaft connected to a wheel]; (2) the long Downs BIG TALKER and TEN PACES, both of which give the grid some punch; and (3) being tricked by [Ringed planet] as the clue at 54-Across. Yep, I wrote SATURN. It was URANUS. Pretty sneaky, sis.

Favorite entry = I FEEL FAT, the [Self-conscious remark when putting on a new outfit]. Hell, I make that remark even when I put on an old outfit. Favorite clue = [Scotch, for one] for TAPE.

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21 Responses to Tuesday, March 19, 2013

  1. John E says:

    In Canada, NWT shows up pretty regularly so I don’t have a problem with it.

  2. Richard Caldwell says:

    A cursory scan of several of the Google hits for USS WASP, including the one cited, leaves me wondering where the sobriquet “mighty stinger” came from. Doesn’t seem to be in the ones I found.

  3. Matt says:

    Had to run through the alphabet to get the ‘X’ in XKE. I should have remembered that car model names always include some combination of the letters ‘S’, ‘E’, and ‘X’.

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: I liked it, even though I only tumbled to the fact that the second half was a PARTY preceder… Because AFTER PARTY is only vaguely familiar. And because my brain is addled, having just returned from Italy (love the Italians and their gorgeous design, but they misplaced my suitcase and not for the first time…)

    NUT CAKE is indeed a thing- Martha Stewart has recipes for it, ergo it’s important. Actually, it’s a category of cake. And it sounds like nut case.

    I loved seeing LITHESOME in the puzzle, I still like NEHRU jackets, and I adore the ZAX! I’ve read it to my kids and now read it for my grand kids, acting it out so they’re really laughing. Yet it makes me sad because it describes our congress so perfectly…

  5. Martin says:

    Ah ZAX … dedicated Maleskalites may know that a ZAX is also a slate-cutting tool.

    (makes a great gift for those who already have an ADZE and a FROE)

    -MAS

  6. Gareth says:

    I thought it was seriously impressive to be able to do the “each half” shtick with PARTY! Also enjoyed the LAT theme a lot despite how obvious and simple it is in hindsight!

  7. Doug says:

    I saw the clue for 40-A in the NYT and filled in SCHWING right away. Now that would have been a cool revealer.

    • Jeff Chen says:

      Where’s the “like” button? I’m going to go around the rest of the day saying SCHWING! to everyone I see.

  8. Katie says:

    I didn’t get this one:
    Clue: Something stuck in a rut?
    Answer: Elk

    Thanks for any help!

    • Sam Donaldson says:

      Katie:

      The mating season for elk and other mammals is called the “rut.” So an elk might be “stuck” in a mating season (especially if a male elk butted antlers with another male or against a tree, as male elk are wont to do in mating season).

  9. Lois says:

    One reason that nutcake is less common lately, I think, is that nuts are pretty expensive. But it is a “thing” in New York, at least in traditional Jewish areas. There is also the kind of nutcake, or nut torte, that is hardly crunchy at all. A special nut grinder converts the nuts into a flour, and that flour makes a delicious cake. Those cakes are great for Passover, when most other flours present some sort of kosher-for-Passover problem.

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I hope no one is offended by Ogden Nash, but he did remind us that:

    It’s OK for girls to be lithe and lissome,
    But not so much that you get cut
    If you hug or kissome.

    That’s pretty close, anyhow.

    Also:

    A girl whose cheeks are covered with paint
    Has an advantage with me over one whose ain’t.

    Did I mention that I like Ogden Nash?

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