Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NYT 3:47 
LAT 4:45 (Gareth) 
Tausig untimed 
CS 6:05 (Dave) 

Todd Gross’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 12 13, no. 0612

I’m a little confused by today’s theme.

  • 4d. [Single scoop], COOKIES AND CREAM. That’s one ice cream flavor.
  • 7d. [Double scoop], VANILLA/MINT CHIP. That’s two ice cream flavors.
  • 10d. [Triple scoop], LIME/LEMON/ORANGE. That’s … one scoop of rainbow sherbet with an odd assortment of flavors? Usually you get orange and either lime or lemon plus a red raspberry. Not too many ice cream parlors offer these three individual, non-rainbow flavors of sherbet or sorbet. Baskin-Robbins, for example, has orange sherbet and a bunch of different swirly combos to provide your RDA of artificial colors.

So I’m not sure the theme works well conceptually. It’s hard to get three different standard flavors with short enough names that all three fit into a 15-letter space. I also was thrown for a loop by COCO CHANEL crossing the chocolate COOKIES and making me think the theme would be delicious cocoa and chocolate words.

I do admire the three full names—besides Chanel, we also have singers KATE SMITH (32a. [Singer who said "Thanks for listenin'"]) and JOHN DENVER (56a. ["Annie's Song" singer]).

Not your usual clue for GENE: 28d. [Pulitzer-winning journalist Weingarten]. Gene won his Pulitzer for a Washington Post article in which violinist Joshua Bell busked in a Metro station. If you missed that in 2007, you must read it now. Gene is also on Twitter, where his avatar is a pile of poo.

Most perplexing clue: 22d. [They may be measured by the pound], for DOGS. Dogs on a scale at the dog pound, not hot dogs being assessed to see how many pounds they weigh. Hot dogs, of course, are sold by length.

Second most perplexing clue: 6a. [Spot on a small screen], for TV AD. We all wanted BLIP, right?

Tough southwest corner for the folks who don’t recall names. H.H. MUNRO and the Italian SETTE (7) cross rapper NATE Dogg, RITA [Moreno of "West Side Story"], and [Utah Valley University city] OREM.

Three stars.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “From the Old Country” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Four theme animals whose name includes a demonym of a country that no longer exists:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 06/12/13

  • [Dog breed that has a distinctive dorsal feature] is a RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK – Dog doc Gareth can probably enlighten us about this canine that comes from the region now known as Zimbabwe.
  • [Ovine with curly black hair prized by furriers] is a PERSIAN LAMB – also known as the “karakul,” it comes from an area that is now part of the country of Uzbekistan.
  • [Exotic reptile wreaking havoc in the Florida Everglades] clues the deadly BURMESE PYTHON – Burma is now known as Myanmar by the ruling junta there.
  • [Lady's feline tormentors in "Lady and the Tramp"] clues SIAMESE CATS – Siam is known officially as Thailand, unless you are watching The King and I.

Ah, I remember the old country of Persia….

Pretty interesting and tight theme, so thumbs up for that. Some nice longer entries such as LINE ITEM ([Type of veto]), SAID NO TO ([Refused]), BEATRICE ([First cousin of Prince William]) and the terrific TENERIFE ([Largest of the Canary Islands], but I’d have to say my FAVE entry was to see ["Henry and June" author], ANAIS NIN‘s full name in the grid. My Waterloo, though, was the crossing of the ACAI berry with the ABACO Islands group from the Bahamas. I played with that C for a while–trying J and G first, before I got Mr. Happy Pencil. Tough crossing for new solvers and even some old ones like me!

Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

LA Times
130612

The one struggle I have with Jack McInturff is that the proper nouns he knows and the ones I know seldom match each other. We’re three generations apart so that makes sense. It does mean that when the theme is proper names, I’m going to struggle. I solved this one in fairly average time, but I quickly decided to rely heavily on the downs!

I don’t know when Americans “celebrate” Father’s Day, but today’s theme is “male actors who have played a title role in a film or TV series with the word ‘Father’ in it”. The answer BESTDAD goes through three of the five answers. We have:

  • 18a, ["Father of the Bride" co-star], STEVEMARTIN. I know the title as an early ’50s film whose actors I don’t know. I know of STEVEMARTIN as an actor who is about as funny as an anatomically-shaped vegetable. Apparently the film was remade in 1991.
  • 26a, ["Father Dowling Mysteries" star], TOMBOSLEY. Late ’80s/early ’90s TV show I’ve heard of but never watched. Apparentlty a TOMBOSLEY was the star, like the clue says.
  • 34a, ["Father Knows Best" star], ROBERTYOUNG. Know this show by title, but know nothing about it. Apparently, it started on radio in 1949, switched to US TV in 1954 and ended in 1960. Oh, and it starred someone called ROBERT YOUNG!
  • 41a, ["Father Goose" co-star], CARYGRANT. I know that name! Never heard of “Father Goose” though. Apparently it was his second to last role and was made in 1964, and it won an Oscar.
  • 55a, ["Father Murphy" star], MERLINOLSEN. Never heard of the show. Dimly heard of the actor, but could tell you nothing about him prior to looking him up.

So yes, I relied a lot on the crossing answers for most of the above. I appreciate that there weren’t too many proper names in the downs, and those that there were (DENIRO, OHENRY, CABOTS, ALGORE, ERNESTO and ASTA), were very well-known (or, in the case of ASTA, well-memorized from other crosswords!).

Other answers to comment on:

  • 14a, [Pewter with 80% tin], LEY. Didn’t know that answer! I’m quite familiar with LEY lines though, thanks to a phase of interest in the paranormal as a tween.
  • 46a, [Freud's "The ___ and the Id"], EGO. Always sounds like the title of a Hugh Cook book, except neither noun begins with W.
  • 50a, [Brouhaha], RHUBARB. A very old meaning of the word! I had a lecturer who used to yell “Rhubarb, rhubarb!” if he asked a question and got a chorus of indistinct answers from the class.
  • 11d, [Like a Greek siren], ENTICING. I don’t see the point of Greek in that clue.
  • 36d, [Pirate's cry], YAR seems oddly devoid of G’s and H’s to me. While I’m here: Why are pirates called pirates? I don’t know, but they arrgh.
  • 51, [Sheep's sound], BLAT. I’m sorry, there’s something wrong with your sheep if it goes BLAT. It has dictionary support, but I’ve never heard of it. In my world sheep bleat or go baa.

I’m abstaining from a vote today. This puzzle was so far out of my cultural frame of reference I may as well have been blogging from the moon. FWIW, “Father” shows I have watched include “Father Dear Father” and “Father Ted”. I actually don’t think I could name actors from either, except Ardal O’Hanlan (?) in the latter.

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Full Titles”

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword solution, 6 12 13, “Full Titles”

Various song titles with first names in them are expanded to include last names:

  • 17a. [Velvet Underground ode to an ironic English novelist?], SWEET JANE AUSTEN.
  • 25a. [Michael Jackson song dedicated to a prickly conservative/droning actor?], BEN STEIN. “Ben” was about a rat.
  • 28a. [Eminem song about a Marvel Comics magnate?], STAN LEE.
  • 36a, 48a. [With 48-Across, Ramones song about how the author of "Blubber" doesn't give a fuck?], JUDY BLUME IS A PUNK. (Not to be confused with “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” which is the only “[blank] Is a Punk __” song I’m familiar with.)
  • 51a. [With 59-Across, old Marvelettes tune about the resilience of the 42nd president?], DON’T MESS WITH BILL CLINTON. Don’t know “Don’t Mess with Bill.”

Not the easiest theme for me, but overall the puzzle wasn’t too challenging.

Five more things:

  • 16d. [Key disciple of Buddha], ANANDA. New to me.
  • 43d. [Jersey Shore garment], TUBE TOP. Blurgh.
  • 50d. [Brown bag item], PB AND J. My kid had to take his lunch for a field trip today (to the Holocaust museum in Skokie). He isn’t a fan of sandwiches on regular bread. I bought sub rolls, and he complains that there’s no parmesan topping baked on like at Quiznos, plus he wants his sandwich (to be eaten hours later) to be toasted.
  • 52d. [Hawks], SELLS. Go, Hawks! Beat the Bruins!
  • 36d. [Discontinued brand-name lawn dart, familiarly], JART. Remember Jarts? They were taken off the market because too many kids were getting speared by them. Clearly a bigger danger than guns.

3.5 stars.

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29 Responses to Wednesday, June 12, 2013

  1. Sarah says:

    So I think I finally figured out what the constructor was going for here.

    Basically we got the answer running vertically, like an ice cream cone, with flavours stacked on other flavors, like how they are in an ice cream cone. Not too good when it takes you an hour to figure that out.

    Don’t think the theme works though, Cookies and Cream sounds like it would be suited for 2 flavours (COOKIES, CREAM), you can definitiely get cookie flavoured ice cream.

    Vanilla mint chip to me is just completely ambiguous. 1 flavour? 2 flavours? 3 flavours?

    Like Coco Chanel, but yikes, those other names don’t ring even a little bit of a bell with me.

    On to Thursday for me.

  2. VEDAVYAS VEMURI says:

    Completed the International Herald Tribune crossword this morning (same as above) as I rested in the hotel in Bali – all the scoops were the toughest to get across in the cross word! Kept imagining all the ice creams in this tropical weather and finally got them in the end!

  3. bencoe says:

    I just assumed it was one scoop of cookies and cream, then one scoop each of vanilla and mint chip, then one scoop each of lime, lemon, and orange.
    Found this to be an extremely easy Wednesday. Ripped through it much faster than usual with the only hiccup at Kate Smith, which I needed crosses for.
    Thought it was decent, though. Worst fill for me was HOER, which reminds me of the way Danny Devito pronounces “whore”.

  4. sbmanion says:

    I wonder how many people made the same mistake I did with TACT instead of PACT. TONCE did not look right, but I was so sure TACT was right that I didn’t change it until Mr. Happy Pencil failed to appear.

    Steve

    • Martin says:

      Steve,

      Tact is not my specialty but I think that if it’s your goal, diplomacy is probably not the career for you.

      I was going to add that maybe a dipomat like John Bolton rebuts my first sentence, but then I realized tact was never his goal either.

      • sbmanion says:

        Martin,

        I was watching a Steven Seagal movie as I did the puzzle, so I am hoping I can be excused.

        Steve

  5. Travis says:

    What is ‘MINT CHIP’? Is that like mint chocolate chip with one word randomly dropped?

    • pannonica says:

      Yes. But I have seen it rendered that way. The chocolate is implicit; because nearly any other flavor of chip (e.g., butterscotch, peanut butter, white chocolate) would be—to use another commenter’s erstwhile adjective—disgusting. Cherry chips, which are uncommon, might work all right, and mint chips would probably be overkill.

      • Martin says:

        Not so. Mint chip is green on green. Mint ice cream with chips like bits of the green part of a candy cane. “Peppermint chip” is similar, but usually is pink with chips of the red part of the candy cane. They’re both hard to find.

        My father loved peppermint chip and my son loves mint chip. I’m not a mint lover. Even the chocolate in mint chocolate chip can’t overcome the innate yuckiness of the mint for me.

        • pannonica says:

          Wow, I have a lot of problems with this.

          Mint chip is green on green? Mint chip = mint chocolate chip. Mint ice cream should be white; the green dye is unnecessary and unappealing.

          The green part of a candy cane? Those, too, are inferior. Too much like the barbershop pole with the antiseptic. So you’re saying the chips in that flavor are like hard candy sherds? Most of the search results I see for “mint chip ice cream” have chocolate chips.

          Peppermint chip, I think I can agree with you on that one. But it isn’t a commonly seen flavor.

          See, David L? With me you have to know which battles need fighting.

  6. Gareth says:

    Just another reminder that Americans have waaay more flavours of ice-cream the we do…

  7. Gareth says:

    The ridge of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is a harmless genetic deformity that is now bred for. They’re popular here (of course) and most that I’ve met/treated have had pleasant dispositions and seemed to be good family dogs. They’re very prone to a more serious congenital defect: dermoid sinuses. I don’t think it’s been shown that the two conditions are in any way linked, despite occuring in a similar region…

  8. e.a. says:

    is it just me or has STAN(LEY) been popping up in a lot of newsday puzzles lately?

    • Anon says:

      It has popped up a lot recently 3 times.

      But on the plus side, ERA hasn’t shown up in some while now.

  9. pannonica says:

    My jottings from the LAT:

    • 1d [Use for scraching] CLAW AT? At? Use?
    • 38d [Like Mount Everest] HIGHEST, but TALLEST. Chimborazo in Ecuador is “higher.” 62a [Reaches great heights] SOARS.
    • 45d [Saintly Mother] TERESA. In the Fathers puzzle?
    • pannonica says:

      Sure the Everest thing is nitpicky, but that was my reaction.

      • David L says:

        I had to go to Wikipedia to discover that the peak of Chimborazo has the honor of being the point on Earth’s surface that is farthest away from the center of the planet.

        But I’m not sure why you think “highest” rather than “tallest” conveys that specific meaning. One usually speaks of height above sea level, for example. I don’t think the average person — and I am a very average person, I’ll have know — would agree with the distinction you want to make between tall and high.

    • e.a. says:

      a cat ‘claws at’ a scratching post (or, more likely, the nicest available furniture), thus ‘using’ it for scratching

  10. jane lewis says:

    the ’50′s version of father of the bride starred spencer tracy, joan bennett (sp?), and TA-DA- elizabeth taylor (before she got married for the first time).

  11. John from Chicago says:

    Oh, the exasperation of it all….

    Clue: One Scoop – One flavor (Cookies and Cream is one flavor).
    Clue: Two Scoops – Two flavors (each scoop is a different flavor: Vanilla and Mint Chip)
    Clue: Three Scoops – Three flavors (each scoop is a different flavor: Lime and Lemon and orange)

    I thought the clue for DOGS was great. I have no doubt dogs that wind up in a dog pound get measured.

    TACT v. PACT. Many decades ago a Chicago paper ran a series of puzzle contests for prize money where there were usually two words that fit each clue. When they printed the answer they gave the logic behind the correct answer and why the other word wasn’t correct. Sbmanion and Martin’s exchange reminded me of those long ago contests.

    Once again Amy is a trifle stingy with her rating. This deserves a higher than 3 for its originality for SEE NO EVIL next to SNORE, if for no otherreason, but there are a number of excellent entries. I fear Amy is tweeting Rex too much….

    • HH says:

      “When they printed the answer they gave the logic behind the correct answer and why the other word wasn’t correct.”

      Generally the “correct” answer was the one chosen by fewer contestants; the puzzlemakers always had two (or three) plausible explanations prepared.

  12. Huda says:

    NYT: I’m with John, I thought the clues were very clear– cookies and cream is a specific flavor, which we buy it, ironically, in a dairy free ice cream. And the others proceed from there.
    And this puzzle hit the spot in North Africa just as it did for v.v. in Bali. I had walked in the midday heat and came back to crash for a bit and that virtual ice cream totally hit the spot!
    4 stars from me…

  13. jane lewis says:

    you are really making me feel ancient. prior to being on father dowling tom bosley was mr c in happy days and, before he was an actor, merlin olsen was a great nfl player for the l a rams – he was one of the fearsome foursome and is in the pro football hall of fame.

  14. jefe says:

    CS: I think that clue for SINBAD was amazing.

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