Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jonesin' 3:44 
NYT 3:30 
LAT 2:53 
CS 6:27 (Dave) 

Big thanks to Team Fiend for holding down the fort while I was off carousing on campus! Andy, Gareth, pannonica, and Dave on Friday; Joon, Andy, and Dave on Saturday; and Doug, Gareth, Dave, Matt, and pannonica on Sunday—three cheers for all of you! As for me, I did no crosswords and no blogging between Thursday morning and Monday morning. However, I am not well-rested. Minnesota cleverly scheduled thunderstorms for every night I was there—sometimes two in the same night. And flimsy dorm-room curtains do a lousy job of blocking out lightning. Living like an undergraduate savage, just terrible. Great to be back home, but I haven’t repaid my sleep deficit yet. So bear with me as I yawn through the puzzles from sheer tiredness (not boredom!).—Amy

Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 25 13, no 0625

This 16×15 puzzle is terrific. The theme is simple but filled with lively stuff:

  • 56a. [Popular app ... or a hint to the starts of 18-, 24- and 49-Across], WORDS WITH FRIENDS. This is the Facebook and smartphone app that Alec Baldwin refused to stop playing even though his plane was about to take off. Me, I don’t like the interface. I prefer another Scrabble-type game, Lexulous. Anyway: The other theme answers begin with words that pair with “friends,” so this answer is a perfect description of how the theme operates.
  • 18a. [Being an online creep, in a way], FACEBOOK STALKING. Fresh fill!
  • 24a. [Oscars category], BEST DOCUMENTARY.
  • 49a. [Square root of -1, e.g.], IMAGINARY NUMBER.

Joel shows off with ORBITZ, GO PRO, RESCUE PARTY, SPARE RIBS, COIN A PHRASE, and other long fill. Four more clues:

  • 25d. [Minnesota city SW of Minneapolis so named for its fertile soil], EDEN PRAIRIE. I always wondered if crossword stalwart Edina, which is right next door, was etymologically related to Eden Prairie, but no.
  • 34d. [Nickname of basketball's Allen Iverson], THE ANSWER. I had no idea what the answer was.
  • 39a. [Tito Puente specialty]. THE MAMBO. Arbitrary inclusion of “the” in this answer?
  • 67a. [Folk singer Pete] SEEGER. Met someone the other day whose grandson is named Seeger. Also know someone with a boy named Guthrie, but that kid is not named after a folk singer.

Could do without stuff like COIT IBN ONA PFC SSR RARA, but overall the puzzle won out with the preponderance of zippy longer fill. 4.25 stars.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Old MacDonald’s Refrain” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Unusual theme idea–invent four phrases whose words following the E-I-E-I-O rhyming pattern:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 06/25/13

  • [My mortgage adjustment charge that's late?] clues REFI FEE I OWE – once I filled that one in, I knew this puzzle was going to take some time.
  • ["Those of us near the coast have to hide out"?] is WE BY SEA LIE LOW – aye, be careful ye coastal dwellers…there be monsters out in those stormy depths.
  • An [Extra-large action figure] is a KNEE-HIGH GI JOE – an 18-inch doll is just scary to think about. Moving on.
  • Finally, ["Go steady with me, Mr. Manning"?] is ELI BE MY BEAU – Umm, sorry, he’s already taken, marrying Abby McGrew of Nashville, Tennessee in 2008.

I’m afraid these phrases are a bit too tortured for my liking, but they are fun to say, I’ll give them that. Does anyone actually know what EIEIO stands for? I enjoyed reading here that there are many international translations of this song; I particularly like that the Turkish version substitutes Ali Baba for Old MacDonald. Some nice long fill in this–THREE-PEAT, LOOK AT ME! and HANGTIME are all contemporary and fun. My FAVE award goes to the clever clue for RENEW: [Ask for more Money], where Money is the financial magazine. The clue [Bashful, but not Doc (abbr.)] ran a close second for ADJ. (adjective). I was less happy with BASER ([More contemptible]) in the 1-Across position; not sure I can distinguish levels of baseness myself.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 6 25 13

This puzzle had a sweet vibe, with the PECAN praline, PETIT four, CHERRY PIE, and MR. GOODBAR. It’s the four basic food groups of dessert: chocolate, icing, fruit, and nuts.

The theme is entirely unrelated to that. 57d: TNT is clued [Big bang cause, and an informal hint to 17-, 23-, 47- and 57-Across]. Those four answers have T&T initials, and ‘n’ can stand in for “and.” We’ve got TIME AND TIDE, TATTERED AND TORN (for me, inextricably linked with the Thompson Twins’ 1983 hit, “Hold Me Now”), TRUCK AND TRAILER (never heard that phrasing before—”tractor-trailer” sounds right to me, but my gearhead kid says that “truck and trailer” is completely familiar to him), and TEA AND TOAST (is that a thing?). So the theme did not resonate with me as much as the hits of dessert throughout the grid.

Other good stuff: SEA BREEZE, PAST TENSE, OLD GEEZER.

Could do without: ANODE; plural AHAS, DRATS, and NYETS; IRED.

3.5 stars overall.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “You’re an Animal!”

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 6 25 13 “You’re an Animal!”

“Blanking animals” is the theme, and all four animals here fit in the category of farm animals.

  • 16a. [Spreadable cheese brand], LAUGHING COW. I blame the French.
  • 27a. [Kid's ride]. ROCKING HORSE.
  • 47a. [Species popular on YouTube], FAINTING GOAT. Is the fainting variety of goat a particular species or subspecies? In this household, we are far more familiar with goats that scream like humans. These goats have gone viral.
  • 61a. [Easy target], SITTING DUCK.

Reasonable, basic, lively theme.

Five more things:

  • 3d. [Horse-drawn vehicle, despite being named for another animal], DOGCART. HORSE is in the theme. Apparently the dogcart was designed with a box below the seat for the dogs to ride in.
  • 34d. [They were once picked up by rabbit ears], TV SIGNALS. In an animal-focused puzzle, you pictured a rabbit being carried by the ears, didn’t you?
  • 46d. [Upright citizen?], STANDER. I had STANDEE. When the answer is sort of clunky, I prefer not to have a question-marked clue making me think it’s going to be fun.
  • 37a. [Hot Topic founder ___ Madden], ORV. I’m guessing the anagram clue for WORF is used to keep solvers from guessing it’s IRV crossing WIRF.
  • 51a. [Brown bag sammy], PB AND J. I prefer “sammich” to “sammy.”

3.5 stars.

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12 Responses to Tuesday, June 25, 2013

  1. Huda says:

    Welcome back Amy. Yes, college life is not for the faint of heart. I thought it was great fun when I was in college, but watching my kids, I decided that colleges take advantage of the resilience of youth. And Team Fiend is remarkable indeed.

    I agree, great NYT puzzle, fresh and contemporary! Good concept, excellent execution.

    Don’t know that App– I need to look into it. Not that I need more distractions.

  2. sbmanion says:

    An unusually original puzzle. Outstanding.

    I first became aware of Allen Iverson when he was in high school. He was involved in a big brawl between blacks and whites in a bowling alley in Virginia. Four blacks and no whites were charged criminally. Iverson was convicted under an anti-mob violence statute designed to prohibit lynching and got 15 years in jail. He spent some months in jail and eventually received clemency from the governor. The bowling alley story was featured in Sports Illustrated. I did not know at the time what a great athlete he would become, but the article made it clear that the locals who prosecuted him knew and wanted to put him in his place. Such stories have always sickened me.

    Iverson had a rough early life and eventually a friend who was I think his mother’s lover entered his life and as Allen’s potential for athletic success began to emerge, this man gave Allen the nickname THE ANSWER, as in Allen is the answer to all our problems. The nickname stuck and Allen agreed to give the man some percentage of any money Allen made from the nickname. Eventually, Nike came out with a shoe called THE ANSWER, but there was a question as to who owned the trademark for that name. The matter was eventually litigated between Iverson and the friend and I do not know how it ended.

    Steve

    • sbmanion says:

      I wrote the above post from memory. I am also not sure if it was Nike or Reebok. The internet is amazing. Here is the article from Sports Illustrated:

      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1138609/

      Steve

      • Huda says:

        Thank you Steve– I had no idea, and would not have learned more were it not for your story. It is sickening indeed. And I was surprised that it happened as recently as 20years ago. For every person lucky enough to overcome such adversity, I wonder how many people, some very talented, are lost forever.

    • Papa John says:

      Your story provoked memories of a picture hanging in a church I once worked at as a janitor, for a summer job. The picture showed a serene and blissful image of a fair-haired, blue-eyed Jesus. The caption beneath it read: “I am The Answer”.

  3. pannonica says:

    Puzzle (NYT) left me cold, can’t say more than that.

    • Papa John says:

      The puzzle didn’t leave me cold, but, I suspect, I had the same reaction you did to the social networking reference – “Huh?”

      I know nothing about Face Book. The only cyber-socializing I do is on this site. Fortunately, there was enough other good fill that I warmed up to. It was a surprisingly challenging, yet not head-banging, puzzle, for a Tuesday.

      • pannonica says:

        No, I’m conversant with social networking sites, so that wasn’t my reaction.

        Not sure why I bothered last night to contribute a non-constructive comment like that.

    • Brucenm says:

      Ditto. I’m afraid I didn’t like NYT (Tues) at all. Figures, since most people seemed to love it. All that facebook, app, picture file etc. stuff is a sure bet to alienate me.

  4. Gareth says:

    Us under-bloggers are just trying vainly to repay the years of faithful insightful blogging debt we’ve incurred to you!

    Words with Friends is inferior in every way to all of the other online Scrabble games: the board is laid out poorly, the application is absurdly bulky, the layout is clunky, and you don’t get stats like with the other games; the only thing it has in its favour is marketing. So from that point of view I wish the puzzle wasn’t made. But I can’t help give it 5 stars dammit! FACEBOOK FRIENDS is great and pairing FACEBOOKSTALKING and WORDSWITHFRIENDS is genius (I bet that was the seed!) And the number of great long down answers is similarly astonishing!

  5. HBH says:

    The CS puzzle was way too gimmicky for my tastes. Did not like the theme.

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