Friday, April 12, 2013

NYT 4:48 
LAT 4:48 (Gareth) [no really] 
CHE 5:45 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 10:36 (pannonica) 

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 4 12 13 #0412

By the proper-noun count, this 66-worder is a tad heavy on names. The names did not vex me—how about you? I was particularly pleased by the local-interest symmetrical pairing of EBERT (19a. [Late critic featured on the Hollywood Walk of Fame], and honored in a tribute at the Chicago Theatre tonight) and FERMI (44a. [Element #100 is named for him], as is the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, which hosted the tornado/severe weather seminar I attended last week—if you want an accessible introduction to particle physics, check out this engaging short documentary that played on the screen before the tornado seminar—and yes, I noticed that they probably overrepresented the female scientists there and dramatically underrepresented the scientists with foreign accents).

Most surprising clue: 1a. [Entree meant to be eaten with the fingers, according to its creator], CAESAR SALAD. With raw egg in the dressing? Seriously?

Favorite clue: 15a. [Key chain], ARCHIPELAGO. A chain of islands; keys are small islands.

Clue that answers the question, “What ore do you get if you drop one letter from Miller Lite?”: 16a. [Millerite, e.g.], ORE.

31a. [Big 1970s-'80s band with a geographical name], 6 letters … is it KANSAS? No, it’s BOSTON, of “More Than a Feeling” fame. 7 letters would have been CHICAGO or ALABAMA.

Dupe that Will Shortz honestly doesn’t care about (it’s okay if you care and it’s okay if you don’t): 32a. [Art of television] crosses ART FORMS. The Art of TV is Art CARNEY.

Most likely to appear in the bottom row or rightmost column: 14d. [Victorian-era furnishings], SETTEES. Meh.

32d. [Tool] clues CAT’S-PAW because that means “person who’s used by another, typically to carry out an unpleasant or dangerous task.” Understandable if you tried to make it some sort of SAW.

Not much in the way of “ooh, terrific entry,” but also precious little in the way of “ooh, don’t like that.” Smooth fill, lots of flow in the grid. Four stars.

Victor Barocas’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Split Personalities” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 4/12/13 • “Split Personalities” • Barocas • solution

The somewhat hackneyed title belies the innovative theme at work in this grid, or so I’m ALLEGING. On that note, that eight-letter entry and its partner are the longest words in the grid; it’s almost as if the theme is speaking to the solver: WHERE AM I?

Well, it’s introduced right there in 1-across, parenthetically. In that row and four others, the name of a famous person has been artfully sliced into three smaller yet legitimate words, which comprise the entirety of that row.

  • 1a/6a/9a. [Opera __ (or the start of an Old West showman's split personality)] / [High return] / [Feeling poorly] : BUFFA / LOB / ILLBuffalo Bill.
  • 23a/26a/27a. [Campaigner's contest (or the start of a 1930s movie actor's split personality)] / [Student of Seneca] / [Come down] : WAR / NERO /LANDWarner Oland ( Johan Verner Ölund)
  • 37a/38a/39a. [Trading center (or the start of a lifestyle arbiter's split personality)] / [Cause of many an error] / [Bump on the toad] : MART / HASTE / WARTMartha Stewart. If one reads 39a in HASTE, they’ll presumably see “toad” as “road.” A knowing “speed trap.”
  • 46a/47a/48a. [Clipped (or the start of an Air Force general's split personality)] / ["Lord of the Flies" setting] / ["The Marry Month of __" (O. Henry story)] : CURT / ISLE / MAYCurtis LeMay.
  • 62a/63a/64a. [Water-bowl user (or the start of a film and TV actor's split personality)] / [Bit of work] / [Five-star reviews] : PET / ERG / RAVES, Peter Graves.

Note how in no instance is the division among the three fill words coincident with the actual  division in the person’s name. In other words, the break between first and last names is always subsumed within the middle word. It’s an elegant touch which also has the effect of very effectively disguising the larger answer. A great theme, finely executed, and I’m very partial to it because I’m in the habit of scanning rows and columns for (probably) inadvertent artful meaning, a kind of found poetry.

Another commendable aspect of the theme is that while it obviously entailed a lot of work—coming up with five appropriate personalities that work according to the technical constraint described above, apportioning them symmetrically within the grid, and surrounding them with quality fill—it doesn’t come across as a slog or a burden for the solver. It retains a lively feel. Must have required many TWEAKS on the constructor’s part.

More:

  • Two more eight-letter entries among the downs: [Summer phenomenon] HEAT WAVE and [Britain : ring road :: America : __ ] BELT LINE, which I’ve never heard of. Beltway, yes, beltline, no.
  • Last square to fall: intersection of 23d [Adulatory biographer of Washington] WEEMS, and 28a [Ovid, during his exile] ELEGIST. Was unfamiliar with the former and simply couldn’t ‘see’ the latter.
  • Row 2: ORIENT / LIEN / LIE.
  • 53a [Question after regaining consciousness] WHERE AM I, not “IS BOB SEGER IN TOWN?
  • 10d [Underlined text, perhaps] LINK. The internet! But I didn’t understand the context of the clue until after getting the answer from crossings.

Excellent puzzle.

Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review

“LA Times crossword solution, 12 04 13″

Julian Lim’s last puzzle was way back on Wednesday? Remember Wednesday? Today’s puzzle offers a twist on a familiar (to me, I think I’ve seen it a few times) Monday theme: joints. I got the gist of it quite early, when EENK(KNEE)SLAPPER became apparent, which made for more of a Wednesday-type experience. JOINTRETURN is the revealer and four answers start with joints, which are entered backwards: WOBLE(ELBOW)GREASE, EENKSLAPPER, REDLUOHS(SHOULDER)THELOAD, PIH(HIP)HOPMUSIC. It’s especially apt as its filing season, as I’m sure most of you are aware.

Despite the five theme answers (with two double-stacked), Mr. Lim included quite a few longer downs: MOUNTFUJI is great, so is PETULANT , as well as EOCENE and CWPOST (ok 6 letters isn’t that long). THREEMILE felt a bit arbitrary as clued. Of course THREEMILE is also an island, but that would make it a 9-letter partial?

Not too much more I want to say. A solid four-star puzzle in my book.

Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Deductions” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/12/13 • “Deductions” • Fri • Jones • solution

Timed of course to coincide with the peak of tax season, when last-minute filers submit (and I do mean submit) to the IRS,

The theme answers are simply contrived two-word phrases in which one letter has been dropped from the first (a possessive noun, to emphasize the tax-deduction conceit) to result in the second (practically unavoidably plural).

  • 23a. [Fusible alloys declared on a GI's return?] SOLDIER’S SOLDERS.
  • 43a. [Seaside structures declared on a musician's return?] PIPER’S PIERS.
  • 45a. [Pergolas declared on a cricket player's return?] BOWLER’S BOWERS.
  • 69a. [Cake sections declared on an attorney's return?] LAWYER’S LAYERS.
  • 86a. [Bottles of Evian declared on a bistro worker's return?] WAITER’S WATERS.
  • 89a. [Cemetery purchase declared on an airline worker's return?] PILOT’S PLOTS.
  • 116a. [Lots at intersections declared on an M.E.'s return?] CORONER’S CORNERS.

Perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to crosswords with “meta” aspects, so I was disappointed to discover that the dropped letters (IPLWIIO) have no greater meaning, don’t anagram to anything, et cetera. Combined with the flat, unamusing answers and their inane clues, the theme did very little for me. 

To be sure, there is good fill to be found among the ballast, but a themed puzzle lives and dies on the armature of the theme itself, so the supporting cast of eight- and seven-stacks in the corners,

Reductions:

  • 103a DONE, 104a DUNE, 22a DOONE, 16d DON.
  • Double-duty clues: [Bit of physics] 52a ION, 65a ATOM. [Big brute] 39d APE, 50d OGRE.
  • 93d [Office phone button] LINE ONE. Line one on IRS form 1040 (US Individual Income Tax Return) is a checkbox for “single” as marital status.
  • Possibly favorite clue (can’t recall them all): 76a [Followup on a touchdown] TAXI. Airplanes. Possible runner-up: 89d [Hits bottom?] PADDLES.

Needles to say, the crossword on the whole failed to prick my interest. Average puzzle at best.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Friday, April 12, 2013

  1. Evad says:

    Man, as I was sailing through the top of the Berry ready to give it 5 stars, I hit MANOLETE and SLOPS OVER. And how famous is Brent SPINER? Not a household name in this household anyway.

    • Gareth says:

      He’s basically famous for one role: Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’d say it’s a pretty iconic Sci-Fi character though?

    • Jeff Chen says:

      Funny, that was the first answer I put in. More ST:TNG trivia, please!

  2. Gareth says:

    My first thought for BOSTON was Europe… (More of a 1985 one-hit wonder though…)

  3. Martin says:

    Re SPINER: I agree with Gareth. I’m not a big fan, but I know who Data is and the actor who played him. The hardest part for me was the top left stacks… I was stumped by the 3-letter crosser RPG. I had to look it up to see what the letters stood for. RPG is a debut for the NYT too.

    Nice smooth 66-worder, despite my “hiccups” along the way ;)

    - MAS

    • janie says:

      my solving experience was very close to yours, martin. nw was the last to go, which got filled in right to left… and RPG? rocket-propelled grenade, apparently — though role-playing game (of the therapeutic, and not the video-game) variety is more in my bailiwick…

      loved seeing the shout-out to [Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Feiffer] and also enjoyed the [Goes beyond the pail?] / SLOPSOVER and [Be an angel] / BANKROLL combos.

      ;-)

    • Gareth says:

      I meant to say something about RPG! I’m amazed I don’t see it every week. Useful letters, and way more commonly known than say STEN: goth from the news and from FPS computer games, which love RPG’s! Also Janie’s meaning is very well-known too! (There’s also a programming language, but I’d put it a distant 3rd.)

    • Lois says:

      Yes, I was surprised to be able to complete the puzzle fairly quickly for me, but now I realize I asked my husband for “RPG.” That did it.

  4. sbmanion says:

    I don’t know if i should be embarrassed or not, but I did not know CAT’S PAW. I enjoy learning words and expressions more than anything else.

    I had only four words in my first run through. Then I remembered MANOLETE and it started to fall very quickly after that escept for the SE where it took me forever to see BANKROLL.

    Great puzzle.

    Steve

  5. cyberdiva says:

    I enjoyed both the NYT and the Chronicle puzzles. Though I strongly object to BELTLINE as the US equivalent of ring road, I can’t imagine why two people would give the Chronicle puzzle only two stars. Geez, guys/gals.

    As for the NYTimes, I’m sure I took longer than most of you. I had never heard of Brent SPINER, and in fact that was the last answer I entered. My timing wasn’t helped by my having OVERFLOWS rather than SLOPSOVER for a ridiculously long time. And did they add “Late” at the last minute to “critic featured on the Hollywood Walk of Fame” (19A)? I hesitated for a second to put in EBERT, thinking that his death was too recent, but then I realized that, dead or alive, he’s the only one who fits the clue. R.I.P.

  6. Mary says:

    What happened to the WSJ Friday puzzle solution?

  7. Pat says:

    Thanks for the WSJ, but still no Washington Post!

  8. Maura says:

    Sam: I miss you! I solve the CS (on paper, in the Washington Post, untimed) and wish I could then read and chuckle along with your comments about same. Thanks for a good run. “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”

Comments are closed.