Friday, June 28, 2013

NYT 6:13 
LAT 8:14 (Gareth) 
CS 6:17 (Dave) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 


Ian Livengood and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 28 13, no 0628

What is this, ten of the maximally Scrabbly X/Q/Z letters? All righty, then.

Top eight answers and clues:

  • 15a. [Bygone sportscaster with a statue outside Wrigley Field], HARRY CARAY. The Chicago Blackhawks took the Stanley Cup to Harry Caray’s restaurant in Rosemont before sunrise, after their plane got in from Boston.
  • 22a. [Overzealous promgoer's choice, maybe], TAILS. As in a tuxedo with a long coat.
  • 25a. [Noted press conference rhymer], ALI. If only President Obama spun rhymes in his White House press conferences. Or if Bush had done so. Or if John Boehner would only speak in rhymes.
  • 36a. [O, more formally], WINFREY.
  • 49a. [Business that may be a zoning target], SEX SHOP. 
  • 9d. [Pitch producer], LARYNX.
  • 32d. [Ices], BUMPS OFF.
  • 34d. [Intern's duty, maybe], XEROXING. Shhh, nobody tell the people at Xerox that we’re okay with verbing their trademark. Do you think they Google to find trademark violations?
  • 54d. [Dial unit], BAR. Soap.

Comments on a few more things:

  • 19a. [Not so apple-cheeked], ASHIER. Still waiting for a crossword somewhere, sometime, to use the standard African-American sense of ashiness (skin rendered paler from dryness, remediable via moisturizer). The dictionaries don’t seem to have caught up, but outside of crosswords, I never hear “ashy” used in the dictionary’s listed ways (ashen for “afflicted with a marked pallor,” sure; ashy, no).
  • 57a. [Unlikely pageant winners], PLAIN JANES. Please tell me: What is the male equivalent of this term?
  • 2d. [Base for Blackbeard], NASSAU. Presumably the Bahamian port rather than the Long Island county.
  • 4d. [Train track parts], I-RAILS. Or, as I call them (provided these are what they sound like), just plain rails.
  • 5d. [Actors Talbot and Waggoner], LYLES. Plural oddball name, oy! Waggoner was on the Carol Burnett Show in the early seasons and I have no idea what Talbot is known for.
  • 41d. [Close again, as a change purse], RESNAP. Isn’t that just snapping it shut again?
  • 55d. ["Encore!," to a diva], BIS. Here’s the dictionary entry, and here’s a mention in the Wikipedia article on claques.

3.75 stars from me.

Victor Barocas’ Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review

Los Angeles Times
130628

The central concept here is amazing: Jane AusTEN has ten letters, By wEIGHT has eight letters, mezzaNINE has nine letters. Each of them is also a pretty spiffy answer in its own right! The one negative I have for this theme is the wordy explanation: EACHOFTHEM/ENDSWITH/ITSLENGTH. At first I couldn’t figure out why this was necessary, but of course if your theme answers are 8/9/10 they need symmetrical pairs… Or at least the 8 and 10 letter answers do. I still feel its inelegant, but at least I know there’s a reason behind it…

Stop! Bullet-time:

  • 14a, [Irish pop group family name], CORR. Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve seen their name in a crossword before. They just about owned the airwaves circa 1999.
  • 15a, [How most fly], COACH. Got what this clue was getting at but couldn’t get it without all the crosses, because I forgot the American word. This is called “economy” here.
  • 27a, [Skye writing], ERSE. I don’t think I’ve seen this punny clue before! I approve, although I note it is a reprint…
  • 41a, [___ Cakesters], OREO. This appears to be some sort of oreo variant…
  • 48a, [Not now?], DATED. Wunnerful clue! So economical! “Now” as in “in fashion.”
  • 4d, [Period marked by copper use], BRONZEAGE. Great answer! As is its symmetrical counterpart 34d, [Movement that fought stereotypes], WOMENSLIB.
  • 24d, [Ship with two zebras on it], ARK. Note the carefully chosen unclean zebra. “Clean” animals were taken in by sevens per Gen 7:3.
  • On the other hand 32d, [Shylock, e.g.], JEW is pretty much a stereotype. To be fair, it was written quite a while ago…
  • 48d, [Schools where boards may be used to measure ability], DOJOS. Another wonderful clue, although much wordier than the previous one. The boards here are being karate chopped.

Novel, interesting theme, but with the afore-stated reservations. The rest of the puzzle was plenty lively too so 4-stars from me!

Gareth out.

Updated Friday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Photo Finish” – Dave Sullivan’s review

I first thought from the title that constructor Patrick Blindauer would be tacking the letters PIC onto common phrases (maybe with an entry like [What visionaries discuss?] for LOOK FORWARD TOPIC), but instead has a much better idea as he adds the individual letters of PHOTO, one a a time, to five phrases:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 06/27/13

  • A [Sand dune?] is a BEACH BUMP
  • [Where dirty Cardinals get clean?] clues BASEBALL BATH – Orioles and Blue Jays, as well.
  • a [Vegetalbe that stays close to the ground?] is a LOW TARO – yay, no comments today about missing a short middle-of-the-grid theme entry. It helped that there was a question mark in the clue and I knew there had to be five theme entries today. Discussion topic: describe the relative taste differences of poi, taro and yucca. Are they all considered tubers?
  • [Rotten kid who helps prepare babysitters?] clues TRAINING BRAT
  • And finally, [Muppet from the Netherlands?] clues DUTCH ELMO – do Dutch puppets giggle differently than their American counterparts when tickled?

Cute theme, although it might be a bit tighter if the base phrases all had something in common. Nevertheless it was a professional effort with that many theme phrases packed in as well as having six overlapping letters in the upper and lower pairs. I learned that [Jon's brother in "Garfield"] was named DOC BOY; it looks like he’s a farmer, not a doctor in the picture to the left. My FAVE entry was [Austrian botanist Gregor] or MENDEL, a man who knew his peas and queues. LIZARD ([Skink, for one]) I also enjoyed, both for the word “skink” and the zed action in the entry itself. I was less excited by my UNFAVE entry of ILL, as an opportunity was missed to clue it more contemporarily as [Awesome] instead of the ho-hum [Hardly healthy].

Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sounds of the Fourth” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/28/13 • “Sounds of the Fourth” • Fri • Nancy Cole Stuart • solution

64-across: [Sounds heard during fireworks shows, and in this puzzle's longest answers] OOHS AND AAHS. Accordingly, the other theme answers consist of two-word phrases which differ phonetically as described—the first has an \ˈü\ sound, the second an \ˈä\. Spelling is altered as necessary.

  • 23a. [Remedy for someone who's dazed?] STUPOR STOPPER.
  • 34a. [Metal used for making barrel rings?] COOPER COPPER. Hm, the first two themers rhyme with each other. Also, barrel rings sound like a kind of rustic bar food.
  • 42a. [Food fish that's been cheated?] SCREWED SCROD.
  • 54a. [Place for storing monetary gains?] LUCRE LOCKER.
  • 76a. [Bird that prepares sauerkraut-filled sandwiches?] REUBEN ROBIN.
  • 86a. [Phantom jet piloted by a child of the 1950s?] BOOMER BOMBER. Is a phantom a bomber? Did not know this. The theme answer somewhat evokes fireworks.
  • 95a. [Wide-eyed look at a page of search results?] GOOGLE GOGGLE, which is a name the company prudently didn’t choose for their ballyhooed new product.
  • 110a. [List of members on the barnyard crowing team?] ROOSTER ROSTER. More avifauna.

Bog rose (Arethusa bulbosa).
©David McAdoo.

Wasn’t initially thrilled with this theme, but in the marination process between solve and write-up, its quirkiness has grown on me. Certainly, the phrases are ludicrous, but I appreciate the array of spelling variations (including the anomalous monosyllabic pair in 42a), the inspired take on the revealer phrase (obviously the theme originated there), and the timeliness of the puzzle (better to be early than late—the fourth is six days hence, just a day before the next WSJ 21×21.

  • HAWAIIANS, STEAM HEAT, TITULAR, LACE-UPS. Liked these.
  • 35d [Win in a pencil-and-paper game] OOO. This has the semblance of intruding on the theme, so I’d rather it wasn’t in the grid.
  • Toughest clue to parse: 11d [Words after somebody moves] I SECOND.
  • Favorite clue: [Blue prints] EROTICA. Nifty, too, that it lies under 21a [Au ___ (naked)] NATUREL.
  • A gathering of dislikes: NTS (note to self), NEED I, EMP., A TO, EN PEU, HEWER, GOERS, UTIL.
  • In discussing the NYT Amy mentioned having not noticed CORR in a puzzle ere now, and here it is again, on the same day, in a different crossword. (34d)
  • 4d [Bit of booze] NIP, 9d [Bit of booze] SIP. 24d [New car of 1905] REO, 96d [New car of 1957] EDSEL. 68d [Rusty on the diamond] STAUB, 111d [Mel of Cooperstown] OTT; wait, what? (nb: Rusty STAUB has been inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame, the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, but not the premier institution in upstate New York. Nevertheless, it seems to me the OTT clue could have been worded to create another parallel pair. Also, “Cooperstown” partially duplicates the COOPER of themer 34-across.)

Good puzzle, cute.

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14 Responses to Friday, June 28, 2013

  1. sbmanion says:

    I would say that the male equivalent of PLAIN JANE is AVERAGE JOE. This reflects that men are largely attracted to looks while women want the man to be outstanding.

    I found this puzzle to be pretty easy except for the SW, which was a bear.

    Steve

  2. Martin says:

    Steve, IMO “average joe” simply means the average man on the street… nothing positive or negative. Whereas, PLAIN JANE definitely refers to a woman’s looks. It’s certainly not a compliment. As for the male equivalent, I can’t think of one.

    Re the rest of the puzzle… 4 stars from me. I especially liked the lower left corner.

    -MAS

    • sbmanion says:

      Martin,

      I am not going to go crazy trying to prove that Plain Jane and Average Joe are equivalent and as noted, there is a looks element to Plain Jane that one does not associate with Average Joe.

      But to me plain is not ugly; it is average, no big deal and there is support for that from this universally respected, admired and always correct source:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plain_Jane

      I also think that Joe Six Pack comes closer than Average Joe to your sense of the nothing special everyman. Average Joe and Joe Blow are closer to plain for me.

      Steve

  3. Bencoe says:

    PLAIN JANE is obviously a very old-fashioned term which has no place in today’s society. Except maybe for the fact that people are just as superficial as ever.

  4. SEXSHOP over STDS was a fun combination, though STDS was clued using the EPA.

  5. Gareth says:

    A tale of two puzzles, I was half way through in about two minutes: AXEL/APED/XOXO led to that whole section (noting that their seemed to be an X subtheme) then HORSEOPERA/BIS/SANE/BANJO got that whole section. North of the diagonal was much harder! I had to slowly tease out the top corner via ASHIER/ARCHIE not knowing HARRYCARAY, IRAILS or LYLES. Bottom-left was my Waterloo. twoSTEP, airTAX, takeSOUT, SEXSHOP, wine something to numb the Gondoliers and eeC was just a morass to unravel!

    @Amy: There is local bird called the Ashy Tit. Someone should tell it about moisturiser…

    • Gareth says:

      Also, I had a lot of fun with all those X answers: 4 stars!

    • Brucenm says:

      It’s use tax and box step — which sort of reinforces my agreement with you that the corner is not very intuitive. I’ve never heard the expression “use tax” though I guess it’s somewhat analogous to the famous European VAT (though not exactly the same thing.)

      • sbmanion says:

        Use tax is essentially the same thing as sales tax except that it arises where there is a disparity between the sales tax in the purchaser’s home state and the sales tax in the state where the item is purchased.

        An Arizona resident buys an item in Florida for use in Arizona. Say, for example, that the Arizona sales tax is 8% and the Florida sales tax is 3%. Arizona will charge the Arizona resident 8% for use of the purchased item in Arizona and the purchaser will receive a credit toward this tax of the 3% tax he paid to Florida at the time of purchase.

        I suspect that use tax obligations are honored in the breach.

        Steve

  6. Brucenm says:

    Excellent puzzle. I had the same experience as Gareth with a diagonal from S Cal to northern Maine — below and to the right of the diag smooth, to the left and above, especially the great Northwest, rocky, though I do know Harry Caray. I even knew Lorena Ochoa. It does appear now, though, that most of the best female golfers are Asian, and the best male golfers European.

    1. Bad- looking Dude?? — But point taken; you’re right.

    2. Is Oprah known simply as ‘O’? That takes the pretentiousness of being identified by one’s first name a step further.

    3. I had the same thought about “xeroxing.” I started with “detoxing” which, in retrospect, I think is pretty funny.

    • ArtLvr says:

      Lummox might be even more disparaging than Plain Jane — getting in the idea of both stupid and clumsy?

      • Bencoe says:

        I looked up “slang words for ugly guys (and ‘men’)” and I think it is telling that:
        1. I didn’t get any real results which were limited to men, except the word “Barney”, which I’ve never heard used that way.
        2. Even though I specified male in my search, I still got more results for slang terms for ugly females.
        3. I also got more results for slang terms for men who PICK UP or DATE ugly women.

  7. Huda says:

    Same experience as Gareth with that diagonal swath. I needed my husband to complete the —-OPERA and for HARRY CARAY.

    I entered HEEL in lieu of STYX which of course was nonsense because this was where he was NOT dipped. But having noticed the exuberance of X’s, STYX eventually emerged.

    And I love Amy’s offhand social commentaries. There is, to my mind, more of a dismissive connotation about Plain Janes than Average Joes, although I can see Steve’s interesting point about what is differentially valued between the genders.

    A concept that is better developed by the French than here is the idea of “Belle Laide” which, though judgmental, shows that attractiveness can defy conventions of beauty. I’ve always thought this notion was the reason why French women seem to own their looks no matter what they are.

    • Brucenm says:

      Or as I know it “Jolie Laide”, applied prototypically to Jeanne Moreau, who certainly was not laide.

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