Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NYT 3:48 
Tausig untimed 
LAT 3:56 (Gareth) 
CS 5:03 (Sam) 

David Kahn’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 3 27 13 #0327

This is one of those puzzles that riffs on crosswordese. Who the heck cares that Elisha Otis was a pioneer in elevator technology? Who pays attention to elevator brand names other than crossworders who have been seeing OTIS clues for eons? Here, David Kahn aptly runs OTIS up and down inside four theme answers (in the circled squares, which phone/tablet app solvers are probably missing) and summarizes the elevator business:

  • 3d. ROTISSERIES, [Cookers for chickens and franks].
  • 34d. DEPOSITOR, [Bank customer, at times]. If only OVIPOSITOR fit the theme, lengthwise. I find it a much more entertaining word.
  • 7d. HAS IT ONE’S OWN WAY, [Ignores others' advice]. Alas, we didn’t make it through this puzzle without a ONE’Sie entry.
  • 9d. HOT ISSUES, [Stocks in great demand]. Not up on my stock-market parlance.
  • 25d. UPS AND DOWNS, [Vicissitudes of life, as for the inventor named in the circled squares?]. I love the word vicissitudes.

Hey! I had a crosswordese dinner today. Went to a Chinese buffet in OCALA and had a morsel of General TSO’s chicken. I also had a lychee, and it was spelled that way rather than the crossword spelling of LITCHI. And I inspected a loquat tree this afternoon, but loquat is hardly crosswordese.

Speaking of crosswordese, this puzzle has LIANES (been a while since we’ve seen these [Jungle vines] in either the LIANA or LIANE spelling, no?) , AN I, ONERS, AXER (have you ever used that form of the word?), and TOR. Oh, and EBEN, [Irving Bacheller's "___ Holden"]. It was a best-seller … in 1900.

Top fill: BAR CAR, UNDERTOW EARWAX (a lovely row there, no?), and BORA BORA (better vacation spot than Tora Bora).

Favorite clue: [What you may call it?] for NOUN. Sounds like a more formal “whatchamacallit.”

3.25 stars.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “This Just In”

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword answers, “This Just In” 3 27 13

Read the puzzle’s title as “‘TH’ is just in” and you’ve got the theme concept: Just insert a TH into a familiar phrase and you’ll get something new.

  • 18a. [Doomsday weapon operated by George Michael?], BLUTH RAY. Blu-ray disc, George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera’s Arrested Development character, not the Wham! singer.)
  • 23a. [Ancient Greek author's gig?], MYTH GENERATION. The Who’s “My Generation” meets Greek mythology.
  • 38a. ["Arrrr, keep your electroshock weapon away from this here chicken broth!"], DON’T TASE ME BROTH. Viral “don’t tase me, bro” video meets pirate-speak.
  • 49a. [Part of the year marking everything being okay?], NO PROBLEM MONTH. Jamaican “no problem, mon.” My wish for all of you: That April is NO PROBLEM MONTH when it comes to your health, your job, and your personal life.
  • 55a. [Interplanetary graffiti artist's action?], EARTH TAG. An animal biologist’s ear tag meets a giant intergalactic can of spray paint.

Slang I just learned from this puzzle: That MOOLAH can be called [Scrilla].

Favorite clues:

  • 30a. [Doing much more than cqtm], LOL. “Chuckling quietly to myself,” I presume.
  • 32a. [Feel blue or see red], IDIOM.
  • 45a. [Protested during the national anthem], SAT.
  • 54a. [Genre most white people hated until "Saturday Night Fever"], DISCO.
  • 2d. [Word that might fix a spastic diaphragm], BOO. Hiccups involve spasm of the diaphragm.
  • 5d. [Columnist Dan who coined "santorum"], SAVAGE. If you don’t already know, don’t Google it. Trust me on this.
  • 26d. [James gang?], HEAT. LeBron James, the Miami Heat.

3.9 stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hall Monitor”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, March 27

I like the subtle theme in today’s puzzle. The five theme entries all have a “Hall” somewhere in their clues:

  • 17-Across: SOLID GOLD is the [TV show hosted by Arsenio Hall in 1988]. I have only a vague memory of the Arsenio version of Solid Gold. I was much more into the version hosted by Marilyn McCoo.
  • 40-Across: A.A. MILNE of Winnie the Pooh fame is the [Author of "Toad of Toad Hall"]. It’s apparently a stage play. I bet it’s a wild ride.
  • 64-Across: SARA SMILE is the [First top 10 hit for Hall and Oates]. Watch out, boy–she’ll chew you up.
  • 11-Down: ERNIE BILKO is better known to TV watchers of a certain age as Sgt. Bilko. [His commanding officer was Colonel Hall]
  • 30-Down: The BOWERY BOYS is the [Group that included Huntz Hall]. Lest you think of the Bowery Boys as a boy band, Wikipedia explains that they were “a nativist, anti-Catholic, and Anti-Irish Dead Rabbit gang based north of the Five Points district of New York City in the mid-19th century. … It was said that the gang was so popular during its time that many of the lesser gangs of the Bowery followed it in its various fights with the Dead Rabbits.” Fighting dead rabbits hardly seems sporting.

I’m pleased with my solving time given there was much in this puzzle I didn’t know or had a hard time sussing out (besides those last two theme entries). MEISSEN is [German porcelain], the spelling of Garrison KEILLOR‘s surname violates the “I before E” rule, EX GRATIA can mean [As a favor] (which I guess makes it different from PRO BONO), and I have a hard time remembering U.S. ambassador SUSAN Rice. But otherwise all seemed to fall quickly. Loved LOVE NOTE, and there were other goodies like ASBESTOS, NEVADANS, UNNAMED, SWILL, and Perry Mason’s Paul DRAKE.

Favorite entry = BANSHEE, the [Shrieking spirit]. Favorite clue = [Give a hand to] for DEAL IN.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

“LA Times crossword solution, 27 03 13″

The tried-and-tested way of interpreting DOUBLEDAY would be to come up with two-part compound words where both parts can have DAY tacked on their ends. Zhouqin eschews this crossword cliche, and instead stacks the DOUBLEDAYs into three pairs: ARBOR/GROUNDHOG, FLAG/INAUGURATION, and INDEPENDENCE/LEAP. Plus one for being a crossword maverick! Also, this puzzle is technically proficient – having 3 double stacked themers, even if one of those answers is short, is no mean feat. One weak link, I felt, was LEAP, which doesn’t feel the same as the other days… Granted I can’t think of another four-letter day at the moment, and also it would have to stack right… So that’s probably why it’s there.

The long theme entries were not being the most interesting as of themselves, but CC managed to squeeze in some fine long downs: CUBALIBRE, LENDAHAND, and ODDJOBS (finished with ODDSOBS and had to reconsider!) are particularly fine. I can’t really see any fill blemishes at all, maybe ONEHOP, but I don’t know enough about baseball to know if that’s a real thing or not.

Two clues I’d like to highlight: [Summers in China?] for ABACI – not only does CC get to highlight her Chinese ancestry, but it’s a brilliant misdirection too! I’m not sure if this trap was deliberate or not, but off the G I put in GAME for [Safari sights].

3½ stars! I fine novel puzzle theme and a well-filled grid!

Gareth.

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28 Responses to Wednesday, March 27, 2013

  1. Brendan says:

    Perhaps the NYT puzzle is satire.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: The theme had its own quirky charm, but HAS IT ONE’S OWN WAY hurts my ear. Shouldn’t it be either HAVE IT ONE’S OWN WAY or HAS IT HIS (or HER) OWN WAY? And even if it were grammatical, this specific phrase just can’t handle ONE’S . Can say it, can’t think it… It just hurts…

    • Martin says:

      One, functioning as an impersonal pronoun (as it is here) is third person singular. So the use of “HAS” in this case is correct. According to Wiki:

      “One is a pronoun in the English language. It is a gender-neutral, indefinite pronoun, meaning roughly “a person”. For purposes of verb agreement it is a third-person singular pronoun, although it is sometimes used with first-person reference.”

      However, I agree that the phrase HAS IT ONES OWN WAY, although correct, does sound a little odd.

      -MAS

      • Huda says:

        Thanks Martin, you’re right, of course, and I apologize to the powers that be for doubting their grammatical prowess. When I invert such sentences I can hear that it is indeed third person singular. A moment of insanity driven by acoustic ugliness…

        • sbmanion says:

          My first thought was that it was some kind of imperative, which would call for the infinitive form, although that normally applies to second person commands.

          Latin has the jussive subjunctive that can apply to the third personal singular and might justify have.

        • Deb Amlen says:

          It’s the crossword version of the Burger King slogan.

  3. HH says:

    “Who pays attention to elevator brand names other than crossworders who have been seeing OTIS clues for eons?”

    I kinda do. My local B&N has an elevator manufactured by (according to a sign inside the car) the Schindler company. I keep thinking of it as “Schindler’s Lift”.

    • Gareth says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks of them as “Schindler’s lifts”…

      • HH says:

        Did it occur to you that, whether you call it an “elevator” or a “lift”, you’re right only 50% of the time?

      • pannonica says:

        Another hand up for “Schindler’s Lifts.” When I lived in the Astoria/Long Island City area, I would frequently pass that outfit’s building. It looked like a factory, but was curiously only one storey tall.

  4. Huda says:

    When I first came to the US , I was in Iowa for a while and met this young woman who told me her dad was a farmer who owns elevators. I thought: another example of Americans being a little different. Then someone explained to me that, in those parts, she was referring to grain elevators. I wonder if OTIS ever made those.

  5. Rhea says:

    I did the entire puzzle for 3/27/13 (Burnikel) but couldn’t figure what the AON for “41 across” meant. I thought it was a mistake and perhaps it should be “AOL” so I came online to find out. I still don’t know what it stands for. Aside from that, I enjoyed the puzzle. Thank you.

  6. john farmer says:

    Who the heck cares that Elisha Otis was a pioneer in elevator technology?

    I do, and I should thank old Otis every time I have to pick up my mail on the 18th floor. He invented something that changed the way people live, same as Thomas Edison, Eli Whitney, Samuel Fulton, John Deere, Tim Berners-Lee, the Wright Brothers, and others. Without elevators, no high-rises, and with no high-rises, the modern city doesn’t exist.

    Crosswordese used to mean words that were rarely seen outside of crosswords. I can’t see how that applies to OTIS, whose name I see all the time.

    Nice puzzle, I thought.

    • HH says:

      “Crosswordese used to mean words that were rarely seen outside of crosswords.”

      Still does.

      • john farmer says:

        Please tell that to the bloggers. There seems to be some confusion.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I bet there are an awful lot of people who go through life without reading the brand-name logo on the elevators they ride in, and it’s not as if everyone learns about more than a handful of inventors in school. If OTIS were KOWALEWSKI rather than a 4-letter/half-vowels word, you’d never see it in crosswords with an elevator clue (though Otis Redding and the Jay-Z/Kanye West song are part of American culture).

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Also, John? Language changes. If people are using the word more expansively than it was used in the ’80s, then the meaning has changed. (Just as crosswords have changed, and we don’t have nearly as much absolutely obscure tripe in the grids. We don’t need to use “crosswordese” to refer to ANOA anymore. That’s pretty much a dead issue, at least where the good-quality crosswords this site reviews are concerned. There is other fill that lends zero oomph and appears in crosswords way out of proportion to its use in daily life. We’re going to call that crosswordese now.) You can’t stuff the genie back in the bottle.

          • john farmer says:

            Language changes. If people are using the word more expansively than it was used in the ’80s, then the meaning has changed.

            Then please tell that to Henry. There seems to be some confusion.

            Kidding aside, that word seems to mean different things to different people, and for some people I think it’s just a catch-all for “stuff in puzzles I don’t like.” I don’t find “crosswordese” a very useful word (or, rather, an overused word), so I tend not to use it much myself. (Not to mention, when I type the word I get these red squiggly lines telling me I don’t know to spell.)

            I agree that OTIS is not the most sparkly fill in the world, but calling it crosswordese seems to be questioning its legitimacy. There is better — and much worse — in choice of words, but I would never put it on the not-to-be-used list.

            Likewise, I think an elevator clue is absolutely legit, though it’s been done a lot so a fresher twist is welcome. The Jay-Z/Kanye West song is one way to do it. It was a hit, and recent, so it’s probably going to click with certain solvers.

            But to say that the 2011 song is part of American culture — and the guy who invented the elevator presumably is not — is not, to put it mildly, the way I see it.

  7. dook says:

    I didn’t think the theme justified all that horrible fill. Annoying Wednesday puzzle despite my fondness for elevators and my respect for Mr. Otis. I can’t believe it is snowing AGAIN right now.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    BEQ’s AV puzzle hasn’t been blogged yet, so I have to avoid spoiling comments. Suffice it to say that it is a fantastic puzzle, and that one of the theme entries both amazed me, and has very special significance to me. I don’t think it gives anything away to refer to a theme, since the fact that it is themed is obvious upon inspection of the grid. I won’t say more for now.

  9. pannonica says:

    CS: 39a [Novel] NEW, 70a [Latest word] NEWS.

    Also, I will continue to point out that electric EELS (which aren’t actually eels) are freshwater inhabitants and thus should not be clued as living in the ocean, the sea, or as [Marine shockers]. (68a)

  10. Martin says:

    I don’t think Otis actually invented the elevator. What he did was invent the safety (self- braking) mechanisms that made the modern elevator possible.

    -MAS

  11. Zulema says:

    Just want to support all those who found HAS IT ONE’S OWN WAY grating. We might agree perhaps that ONE’S has become crosswordese. It seems to be overused, at least in Sunday puzzles. And I just want to put in a good word for Staley, whoever he is or was, whose brass plate is on the floor of my elevator.

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