Friday, May 31, 2013

NYT 3:47 
LAT 5:11 (Gareth) 
CS 6:14 (Dave) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

The CHE puzzle returns 6/7; the publication runs biweekly in the summer. The lack of a puzzle this week didn’t stop some yob from assigning it a 1-star rating before I deleted the ratings link. Some people!

Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 31 13, no. 0531

My brain is depleted. I think I watched too much of the Scripps spelling bee today. Good thing this puzzle was so easy for a themeless. I had to spend maybe 20-25 seconds looking for a typo (duh, it’s GAME OVER, not GAME EVER) and still finished in under 4 minutes. Certainly not par for the Friday NYT course.

Favorite fill: GAME OVER, DIVING BELL and AQUALUNG, MARIACHI, EVEN KEEL (though it really wants to follow “on an,” doesn’t it?), ON THE QT, EARL GREY.

Most mysterious clue: 34d. [Shout repeated at a basketball game], TWO. We’ve been discussing this elsewhere, and nobody has any idea what this is supposed to be. Who says that? Why do they say it? What does it mean? Is it a Northern thing?

Worst fill: The partials ON IT and SON-IN- are as bad as it gets. Really smooth fill, and it’s not even 72 words, it’s 68.

Four stars. Time for bed.

Updated Friday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Women of Note” – Dave Sullivan’s review

OK, folks, I’m going to need some help with this one. All I see are four women singers (the “of note” in the title referring to a musical note):

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 05/31/13

  • [Woman of note #1] clues ELLA FITZGERALD – Queen of Jazz and of clues for the common crossword entry SCAT
  • [Woman of note #2] clues WHITNEY HOUSTON – the arc of her career is the stuff of a Greek tragedy
  • [Woman of note #3] is KAREN CARPENTER – another tormented soul who died of severe anorexia, as I recall
  • [Woman of note #4] is ARETHA FRANKLIN – the Queen of Soul, who is happily still among us

It’s hard for me to believe that the entire theme is just four female singers whose names are 14 letters. I played with the idea that the last names of each singer are shared by other famous (“of note”) people in the world of literature–F. Scott Fitzgerald for Ella, for instance. Or statesmen, with Ben Franklin and Aretha and Sam Houston for Whitney. Something like that should be hinted at in the clues though, and I kept expecting to find some short revealing entry as I solved. Twasn’t to be, so discerning solvers, please clue me in!

Funny to see the word BROODS again, this time clued in its verbal form, [Sulks]. But my FAVE was to see one of my favorite childhood authors E.B. WHITE in the grid. REOIL ([Add more lubricant to] sounds a bit contrived, so that’s my UNFAVE entry today. So long to the merry month of May!

Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

Los Angeles Times
130531

Sjoe! Took a lot of staring post-solve to find the HIDDENCAMERAS in veteran collaborators Galgiardo and Burnikel’s puzzle. Each of the other three answers has the name of a company that makes cameras concealed within it. I’d put all three theme answers at a themeless-seed-word quality, which is what really impressed me with this puzzle! It’s hard to come up with answers concealing long strings of letters so this is no mean feat! Notwithstanding my inability to see the theme, I still found it strange to have a straight theme on Friday after a wordplay theme on a Thursday. Strange, but not bad. I like it when things are unpredictable! The theme answers are:

  • 19a, ITGROWSONYOU, ["This will get better, I promise"]. Colloquial spoken-language phrase! Nice!
  • 31a, ICANONLYIMAGINE, ["That's surreal!"]. Also, a popular Christian Rock song.
  • 39a, RIBONUCLEICACID, [Substance usually abbreviated]. Vague clue! Letter pattern soon made the answer obvious though: RNA!

Similar arrangement of theme answers to yesterday: rows 4, 7, 9, and 12. Today’s grid, however, is a themeless-stand 72-word arrangement. A risky conceit, but I think DonCC pulled it off nicely! There are some nice longer answers: HULAHOOP, NITROGEN, and EBONIES (which are tinkled less than ivories for some reason?) plus a passel of sixes!

There are also some personal touches from expat CC: her native CHINA ISRED. There’s more red in the form of MARS (the supposed red planet) and in the same corner another (dwarf) planet PLUTO. There’s a third (!) mini-theme in the top-right corner: BRONZE and TAN share the clue [Shade at the beach]. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ENO. His oeuvre was thoroughly (well reasonably thoroughly, his work with David Bowie was left out, I think?) covered in the comments earlier this week. I hope that means today’s clue was a gimme for everybody!

Fun theme answers and an expertly filled grid! A top-notch puzzle! 4.25 stars!

untimed

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

WSJ • 5/31/13 • “Automated” • Fri • Jones • solution

Base phrases have the letters C-A-R appended to their front ends, literally having an “auto” mated to their bodies. I might have titled this one “Autonomic Fixation,” but that’s neither here nor there.

  • 23a. [Stand for a set of hieroglyphic amulets?] (CAR)TOUCHES BASE. Kind of awkward to open the proceedings with a word that I suspect many may not be familiar with, in plural form no less.
  • 34a. ["O frabjous day!" and the like] (CAR)ROLL CALL.
  • 43a. ["Find the Seed" in a rye bread bakery?] (CAR)AWAY GAME. The seed? As in, only one? Among all the loaves?Okay, wait, perhaps it’s like a French drop. Yes, I can see that.
  • 61a. [Muddy footprints, warn patches, cat hair, etc.?] (CAR)PET PEEVES.
  • 73a. [Small streams in a California coast city?] (CAR)MEL BROOKS.
  • 88a. [Job for the Vampire Lounge's doorman?] (CAR)DING BATS. Exceptionally goofy. Dingbats has been separated here. (See also 79a [Evening wingding] SOIRÉE.
  • 97a. [Bunches in the hold?] is not a risqué wrestling move, but (CAR)GO BANANAS.
  • 110a. [Rug cleaner in a bright red shade?] (CAR)MINE SWEEPER. Minesweeper separated here.

 

Cartomancy?

Cohesive theme, literally again, though it shows some wear and tear by the end. A possible downside with a theme like this—or upside, depending on the puzzle’s difficulty and the solver’s proclivities—is that once the mechanism is grasped, a bunch of “free” squares are given away.

The grid lacks long non-theme entries, which should result in fewer compromises toward junky fill as a nearly unavoidable counterbalance. I solved this puzzle late last night while rather sleepy (or at least distracted), and don’t recall whether this was the case. Hours later, this morning, I’ll say it was neither remarkable nor unremarkable (echoes of “neither here nor there”).

Bits:

  • 11d [Attorney's org.] ABA (see also, 60a [Bar code] LAW; 119a [Tried to pass the bar?] LIMBOED), 16d ["I __ Rock"] AM A (see also 66a [Second in a classic Latin trio] AMAS), 65a [Tuskegee U. setting] ALA.
  • Favorite clue: 107a [Some fundraising targets] ALUMNI.
  • 82d [Chewy rings] CALAMARI. If they’re overcooked, sure. Besides, the arms and tentacles are best.
  • 88d [Like party hats and megaphones] CONICAL. Why did I write in COMICAL? Megaphones aren’t particularly funny.
  • Least favorite answer: 95d [Start of a Poe title] THE PIT.
  • 91d, 39a [Tar] SAILOR, SEA DOG.

Average puzzle.

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29 Responses to Friday, May 31, 2013

  1. KarmaSartre says:

    Two beers.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: Seemed very smooth. Although seeing Amy and others do this in less than 4 minutes still amazes me.

    The clue for AM I WRONG threw me… but in retrospect it seems fine…

    I have a question in addition to Amy’s re that TWO. Is the shout “repeated” at a baseball game: TWO, or is it TWO & TWO?
    Of course, I have no clue. Beer sounds good– Two and two, even better…

    • ArtLvr says:

      I agree with Huda on the NYT, no way four minutes for me! I had the NE corner early, then had to come back at the end of the day. Loved 53a — Hood’s support — when I finally got it, MERRY MEN. Also 16a, Start of a court display, EXHIBIT A, and THE CAN for 55a Stir. Clever cluing!

  3. Jim Horne says:

    It’s not TWO TWO, it’s TUTU, and it’s not basketball, it’s ballet. The NYT regrets the error. Mistakes like this are going to slip through now and then.

    • Jeff Chen says:

      I’m not sure why people stared at me when I yelled “Tutu!” at the Nutcracker. People are weird.

  4. Bencoe says:

    I watch basketball and go to games all the time and have never heard TWO chanted, but here’s what I think…
    The opposing team hits a shot from somewhere right on the 3 point line. They either give them the 3 points or debate the play, so you shout, “TWO, TWO!” Hoping the enemy gets the fewer points.

  5. Gareth says:

    I found it mostly easy, but I ended up being only slightly faster than normal; I struggled in the top-left: I was duped by the clue for EXHIBITA, didn’t know WEISS (the fantasy author yes) and was leery of AGENDA, MAXOUT and IMHURT. I took them out and put them back a few times. A clean puzzle with fun answers. I don’t know what more anyone could want in a puzzle…

  6. JanglerNPL says:

    FWIW, the next Chronicle puzzle will appear on June 7, and then every two weeks after that until the summer schedule is over.

  7. RK says:

    Repeating two may be when a coach is telling his team during play to take a two-pointer not a three?

    Liked THONGS and MERRYMEN.

  8. Howard B says:

    The only answers that kept me from my regular Friday times were the mystifying TWO (even watching basketball, I still have no idea about this one), and SLUSH, which was simply a knowledge gap as I hadn’t heard that meaning before. Pretty smooth puzzle.

  9. pannonica says:

    LAT:

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ENO. His oeuvre was thoroughly (well reasonably thoroughly, his work with David Bowie was left out, I think?) covered in the comments earlier this week.

    Actually, I did mention that in a comment that day.

    CS:
    • 10d [Comatose, chemically] INERT / 62d [Unconscious state] COMA – What’s up with that?
    • 41d [Singer of the 1984 hit "99 Luftballons"] NENA; would have been better to have clued this referencing the band (same name, like Sade), so as to avoid a perceived overlap with the theme, such as it is.

  10. Richard Rolls says:

    Hi, I’m thinking the “two” shouted at a bball game should be “tre”, which is shouted frequently re the 3 point shot. My college son plays bball, I hear “tre” shouted , have never ever heard ” two” shouted unless I’m ordering beer. :)

  11. sbmanion says:

    I have never heard TWO shouted at a basketball game. I cannot imagine TWO being shouted in professional basketball in connection with foul shots as the pros get either one or two by rule, so shouting won’t help.

    I could imagine yelling TWO in connection with someone at or near the three point line, but the refs now review such shots.

    The only thing that makes sense that might occasion a shout is FLAGRANT-1 or FLAGRANT-2, such as probably should have occurred last night when the Birdman “bumped” Hansborough.

    FLAGRANT-2 results in the immediate ejection of the offender. I can imagine a home crowd yelling TWO, TWO, TWO when an opponent commits a flagrant foul.

    Steve

    • Howard B says:

      I had attended some New Jersey Nets games back in the day, when there were so few fans that just about *anything* said loudly could be heard by fans and players alike. I mean, you could hear the refs talking to the players, and the players laughing on the bench at comments directed to them from the stands. If you couldn’t hear “TWO” shouted there, I doubt it’s that common.
      Now “THREE” for 3-pointers, yes. (Either to encourage the shooter, or to cheer the 3-point shot made).

    • Martin says:

      At resumption of play after a foul, the official is required to signal and verbally announce the number of free throws awarded. Considering the ambient noise, this will always be shouted.

      I have no idea whatsoever if this was what the clue intended, but it will do in a pinch. Note that the clue doesn’t say it’s fans doing the shouting.

  12. sbmanion says:

    On a sidebar, sports nerd that I am, I toggled back and forth between the spelling bee and the basketball game while tutoring a student who was doing a test.

    I tutor a lot of Indian from India students. One of the parents told me that there is a word in an Indian dialect that refers to overloading the brain with too much “knowledge,” a criticism labeled by perhaps jealous parents at those young kids who compete in spelling and geography bees, or perhaps both. I have always thought that the pursuit of excellence is its own reward and prepares you very well for life, but some consider such pursuits as overly obsessive.

    Steve

    • pannonica says:

      What’s the word? Acquire, acquire!

      • sbmanion says:

        I was hoping someone could tell me. I tried various hits on Google, but haven’t found it yet. Many of the top spellers are Tamils. Most of my students are Sikhs.

        Steve

    • Martin says:

      Dementia notwithstanding, my mother could spell “knaidel.”

      • sbmanion says:

        After the basketball game last night, they gave a spelling challenge to Shaq, Charles Barkley and Kenny the Jet Smith, a very funny post game show on TNT hosted by Ernie Johnson.

        Charles and Kenny both spelled it: canadel
        Shaq spelled it kanadel

        When I participated in the spelling bee from 1960-62, the national championship word one year was PRONUNCIATION. It’s a tiny bit different these days.

        Steve

  13. John from Chicago says:

    TWO?

    This could either apply to points or free throws, or both. The word “repeated” does not necessarily mean consecutive. If the word is said more than once during a basketball game, it is repeated. And I can assure eveyone that the word is always repeated at every basketball game, whether in the context of declaring an attempted three point shot worth only two or that a foul was committed in the act of shooting and the fouled player is awarded two shots. The referee tells this to the scoring table for the official scorer. Often the ref will hold up two fingers as he/she(?) is saying it. Whatever the fans might shout is irrelevant.

    Sometimes nerds can overthink things. We had nerds in our fraternity back in my college days who would design our Homecoming floats and they never worked as the tech students intended.

  14. Maura says:

    @Dave: I’m with you. Trying to figure out the notes. Hmmm… Ben FRANKLIN is on a note. Then I reached… John FITZGERALD Kennedy is on a, um, a coin. Maybe it’s what @Pannonica says: Theme just is, such as it is. Sigh.

    • Evad says:

      Yeah, I’m guessing the play on the phrase “of note” is what Patrick was going for. Just wondered why these 4 women and not Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Fiona Apple and Alanis Morrissette?

  15. cyberdiva says:

    JanglerNPL, thanks very much for the info about the summer schedule for the Chronicle puzzles. I enjoy them a lot, and I get frustrated when I expect one and it’s not there (like this week). Now I can check that off my list and move on to other frustrations.

  16. Huda says:

    Wow,” Yob”… I didn’t know that! Even my spellchecker did not know that! But it sounds perfect. Thanks Amy!

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