Wednesday, July 3, 2013

NYT 3:46 
Tausig untimed 
LAT 4:18 (Gareth) 
CS 5:49 (Dave) 

Pamela Klawitter’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 3 13, no. 0703

The theme is the CORNER STORE, and the circled squares bending around the corners of the grid contain words that can precede “store.” You’ve got RETAIL, DIME, GENERAL, and CHAIN. Cute enough concept, although I would be more pleased with the execution if those corner answers didn’t entail partials A DIM and CHA and I-never-use-that AGLARE.

Highlights in the fill include B’NAI B’RITH, BOLSHOI, and DIAL TONE. Most surprising 8: 36d. [British poet laureate Duffy], CAROL ANN. I suppose some of you have heard of her, but I am out of poetry circles and treaded slowly through the whole name, working the crossings.

The ol’ Scowl-o-Meter went off tonight with ENNA ([City known as the Navel of Sicily]), ENSILES ([Preserves on a farm]), ÉCLAT ([Grand display]), AH SO ([Facetious "I see"]), IN ESSE ([Actually existing]), -ANE ([Hydrocarbon suffix]), ULT ([Final: Abbr.]), TSE ([J. Alfred Prufrock creator's monogram]), Y SHAPE ([What a slingshot or wishbone has]), and -ATOR ([Suffix with origin or comment]), as well as the partials A DIM, A BAT, AS I, IT OR, and IS NOT. I would advise constructors who find five partials in their puzzle to back up and reconsider their grid design. The same goes double for crosswordese; one or two can be overlooked by most solvers but I find that more than three or four crusty answers really do lessen my enjoyment of a puzzle.

2.5 stars from me. The quality of the fill is paramount and this puzzle’s fill wasn’t doing it for me.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Copperheads” – Dave Sullivan’s review

No Snakes In The Grid today, but four theme entries where the atomic symbol for copper (CU) is prepended:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword puzzle – 07/03/13

  • [SpongeBob SquarePants?] is a CUBED FELLOW. I generally see “bedfellows” in the plural and preceded by “strange.” Are there any other ilk of them? Are there such people as “happy bedfellows”? I hope so.
  • We next get a bit classical music riffing off Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” with [Round of antibiotics?] or CURING CYCLE. My “invented phrase meter” moved into the “tortured” area.
  • Perhaps the seed phrase is [Favorite of flight attendants?] which clues the cute CUTEST PILOT. Must be the uniform.
  • Finally, [Large collectible?] clues CURIO GRANDE. Another not-so-hot invented phrase, at least according to the imaginary meter in my brain.

CUTEST PILOT is really the only decent phrase of this bunch, imho, and probably not enough rationale to build a puzzle around. We do have some nice fill with PAN-STYLE ([Variety of pizza]), GO LONG ([Run downfield for a pass], it could also be seen as advice to a bond trader in a declining interest rate market) and my FAVE of [Show off] for FLAUNT. I’m less a fan of alphabet strings, so I’ll have to award my UNFAVE to [N followers] for OPQ. They should’ve followed N out the door.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review

LA Times
130703

Interesting theme: The four theme entries begin with one-letter parts that spell out the spelled-out VILLAGEPEOPLE anthem YMCA. I’ll link to one of their other, less played-to-death, songs if that’s ok? OK. So; we have:

  • [What makes a man a man], YCHROMOSOME. A great answer and a great clue too!
  • [1988 Tony-winning play inspired by a Puccini work], MBUTTERFLY. Another strong theme answer
  • [Disco-era group known for the starts of 18-, 20-, 54- and 57-Across], VILLAGEPEOPLE
  • [Duracell R14's], CBATTERIES
  • [First of a planned 26-book mystery series], AISFORALIBI. Feels a bit of a cheap end, considering there’s one for each letter of the alphabet. On the other hand, I’m willing to bet Zhouqin didn’t have a whole lot of options with this quite restrictive theme and so it’s a necessary answer and more than balanced by the first two which were great!

We have a highly unusual grid: 38 blocks, 74 words; but with 4 helper squares. The top and bottom pairs of theme answers overlap by six squares too… This often forces immediate fill compromises, but if achieved means less pressure elsewhere in the grid. The only answer in the vicinity of those two stacks that’s awkward is PAYTO: very impressive! The top-right and bottom-left are wide-open, with 8/8/6 downs, the 8′s crossed by two theme answers apiece. Those answers are somewhat interesting too: TROPICAL, HOMECARE and VAGARIES, ICANTSEE. Other interesting answers included LAGUNA (more familiar with the racetrack LAGUNA Seca that I assume is nearby) and STPETER.

Not too much else to say. There weren’t too many frowny answers, and the theme was interesting: 3.5 stars?

Gareth

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Nothing Major”

Ben Tausig: Ink Well crossword solution, 7 3 13 “Nothing Major”

If a business isn’t part of a big corporation, it’s nothing major. It might just be a MA-AND-PA OPERATION. That 16-letter phrase is used here as the rationale for adding MA and PA to a handful of phrases:

  • 18a. [Junior members of a lodge?], MASONIC YOUTH. Nice! I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard a Sonic Youth song, but I know the band was fairly seminal for a lot of discerning music fans.
  • 25a. [Manager of oral hygienists of ill repute?], DENTAL MADAM. This reminds me of Jennifer Aniston as the dentist in Horrible Bosses. Also? Your daily newspaper crossword editors are never going to be keen on a theme answer that plays on “dental dam.” Even though that sheet of latex is absolutely used in plenty of dental procedures, its safer sex application has probably ruined it for the daily puzzle.
  • 51a. [Arthur Sulzberger, e.g.?], PAPER PERSON. New York Times bigwig.
  • 62a. [Try to trademark your new invention?], PITCH A PATENT.

Highlights in the fill: EMOTICON, TAP WATER, CAMP DAVID, OUR SAVIOR, RIHANNA, SAPPHO.

Toughest fill:

  • 39d. [SeaWorld orca name], NAMU.
  • 38d. [River to the Rhone], SAONE. One of our Crosswordese Rivers of Europe. It’s 298 miles long.
  • 11d. [Ancient Irish alphabet], OGHAM. Here it is. Not to be confused with Occam’s razor or the O’odham people of Arizona and Mexico.
  • 9d. [Grocery store sticker letters], PLU. Did you know it’s short for “price look-up“? I sure didn’t. So what’s SKU? That’s a stock-keeping unit code. I have learned so much today.

3.75 stars.

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35 Responses to Wednesday, July 3, 2013

  1. Andy says:

    Don’t forget HONI and WIN IT. Not big on the plural FLUS either (does anyone ever say that?), or the only-acceptable-in-partial-form HERE’S.

    • HH says:

      “…the only-acceptable-in-partial-form HERE’S.”

      Although those of us of a certain age (or older) might’ve used a clue like [Word often elongated by Ed McMahon].

  2. Martin says:

    What’s the problem with ÉCLAT?

    -MAS

    • Papa John says:

      Ah, that would be Amy. It was included in her long list of words that set off her “Scowl-o-Meter”.

      FWIW, I used éclat quite often in my art history courses. It’s a fancy word used to describe fancy stuff. I’m not sure why Amy poo-pooed it.

      • Papa John says:

        Wow! How did my reply to the éclat thread get moved to this spot? What happend to the question, “Who said anything about éclat?”

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          The commenter who had asked that question asked for his comment to be deleted because it wasn’t a question that actually needed asking. So now you look like a crazy person, Papa John. That’s okay. We still like you.

  3. Karen says:

    “The quality of the fill is paramount…”

    You state that as if it’s axiomatically true. You do realize it’s an opinion, right Amy? And not one universally held.

    • Jeffrey says:

      Like.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      You’ll be hard-pressed to find advice for writers that says “always include hedging words to weaken your argument.” Thus, many of the “if you ask me” and “in my opinion” hedges get deleted before I publish a post. It’s a blog, not a textbook. (Not that textbooks don’t also reflect the author’s opinion, in terms of what’s included and what’s left out.)

      Can anyone honestly argue that it would have been impossible to get better fill in this puzzle because of the theme? -ATOR isn’t even anywhere near the theme answers.

    • Stan Newman says:

      You’re kidding, right?

      Is it also just an opinion that cockroaches don’t belong in restaurant kitchens?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Well, Stan, some people do honestly believe that a particular grid achievement or an ambitious theme will excuse any and all horrible fill. (This is their opinion and not fact, and yet when people say they love those puzzles that vex me, seldom do they say “Well, this is just my personal opinion, but…”) Furthermore, I imagine that the cockroaches themselves believe fervently that restaurant kitches are exactly where they belong.

    • Sarah says:

      If the fill is bad, you might as well just fill in the grid for me so I can save myself the crappy solve.

      I’d like to defend contrived entries for a moment, though. ITOR or OPQ, are things I think should be in MORE crosswords. If it takes 1-2 less than ideal answers to fill in a crossword with top-notch fill, I think we could all agree that’s worth the reward.

      But in this NYT, like many, there are plenty of questionable entries:

      SADSONG (so HAPPYSONG, SILLYSONG, STUPIDSONG, DEPRESSINGSONG all good too?)
      ENNA
      RYES (I just call it RYE)
      ENSILES
      ECLAT
      TAL
      AHSO
      WAWA
      HONI
      AFB
      BOLSHOI
      INESSE
      CAROLANN
      ATOR
      ANE
      FLUS
      ULT

      • Gareth says:

        And yet half of those I find at least acceptable and some like BOLSHOI and SADSONG are actually great entries (to me). “Sometimes I feel like a sad song” / “Sad songs say so much” etc. etc.

        The only answers of those that I’d put in my list are ENNA, ENSILES (although I’ve personally used/read/heard it many times), AFB, ATOR, maybe ANE (Sue Ane Langdon is somewhat famous though) and FLUS. However, if I spent a bit of time I’d probably add other words that you don’t have on your list: most of those partials Amy mentioned for one. I really hate partials, they seem like cheating; not that I haven’t used them, as sparingly as possible in my own puzzles…

        I don’t see how any person can expect crosswords to magically channel the things each single solver has experienced and only those. If you read the funnies every day as a kid like I did HONI is a gimme. If you didn’t it’s not. If you start excluding everything that any person could possibly not have come across you end up with a mighty thin list of words useable in a crossword

        • Sarah says:

          You don’t have to exclude everything. You just have to make sure you got fair crossings. BOLSHOI/CAROLANN/HONI fails that test outright.

          As well, when the number of unsurmisable answers is more than 5 or so, you run into puzzles that the general public has NO CHANCE of solving.

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: I loved the concept! But the solving experience did not flow. I don’t know the first thing about constructing, but it seemed to me that the constraints would be primarily in the corners. Why does the rest of the fill need compromises?

    Never heard of WAWAs!

    Martin, I think ECLAT is a beautiful word in French, but I’m getting concerned that it’s starting to lose some of its eclat in my mind because of its overuse in puzzles. BTW, on a Saturday may be, Eclat could be clued differently– as a French splinter or shard. That may be especially handy if it needs to be plural– e.g. Aux Eclats d’Amande for pastry that contains slivered almonds. Isn’t cool that brilliance in the form of both “eclat” and “eclair” has penetrated French food?

  5. Martin says:

    Huda, ÉCLAT is also an English word.

    -MAS

    • Huda says:

      Pannonica, that stuff is great! I tried in my youth. It would probably kill me now. If I lived in France, I’d have so much more trouble resisting their pastries.

      Martin, I never know at what point of usage a foreign word or expression becomes an English word. Is there a rule? May be if it’s in a particular dictionary?
      Eclat, Elan, Coup de grace?

  6. Alan D. says:

    Does anyone know which newspapers publish the LAT daily puzzle? Can’t find that info anywhere on the web.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I don’t think crossword syndicators generally share their list of clients. I think I just read that Tribune Media Services syndicates the LA Times puzzle to about 1,000 other papers.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        And now I see Lemonade’s list of about 120 papers. Maybe I was off by an order of magnitude?

  7. Lemonade714 says:

    I think this complete

    AL: Anniston Star (Anniston)

    AK:

    AR: Arkansas Democrat Gazette (Little Rock, only on Sundays. NYT & Universal on Weekday)

    AZ: The Arizona Republic

    CA: Bakersfield California; Daily Bulletin (Rancho Cucamonga); The Californian (Salinas, Mon.-Sat.); Redding Record Searchlight; San Francisco Chronicle (Monday – Sunday); The Modesto Bee (Monday to Saturday); The Record (Stockton, CA); The Fresno Bee (Monday-Sunday); San Jose Mercury News (Sports section, Monday-Saturday)

    CO: Colorado Springs Gazette

    CT: Waterbury Republican (Torrington, Sun.); The Hartford Courant; New Haven Register (Monday-Sunday)

    DE: The News Journal

    DC: Washington Post (Tue. to Thur, delivered to MD, DC and VA; Crossynergy puzzles from Monday to Friday).

    FL: Palm Beach Post; Naples Daily News; Sun-Sentinel; St. Petersburg Times (Now Tampa Bay Times); Port Saint Lucie News (Port Saint Lucie); Tampa Tribune (Tampa); Florida Times Union- Jacksonville; The Ledger (Lakeland); Orlando Sentinel; The Stuart News; The Alligator (the student newspaper at university of Florida, the most widely distributed college newspaper); The Englewood Sun; Daytona Beach News-Journal (Monday to Sunday); Napa Valley Register (Monday-Sunday)

    GA: Savannah Morning News; Atlanta Journal/Constitution (Atlanta)

    HI: Honolulu Advertiser

    ID:

    IL: Chicago Tribune; Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, IL)

    IN: Herald-Bulletin (Anderson); The Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, Sunday only)

    IA: Ames Tribune; Iowa State Daily (student paper)

    KS: Topeka Capital-Journal

    KY: Daily News (Bowling Green); Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro);Courier- Journal (Louisville, Ky- Metro and So Indiana)

    LA: Lake Charles American Press; The Times Picayune (New Orleans); The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

    ME: Bangor Daily News

    MD: Baltimore Sun (Monday-Sunday)

    MA: Berkshire Eagle; The Daily Hampshire Gazette (Monday-Friday); Boston Herald (Monday-Sunday)

    MI: Detroit Free Press; The Morning Sun of Mt Pleasant, Michigan; Grand Rapids Press (Monday-Saturday)

    MN: The Minnesota Daily (U of M paper); St. Cloud Times

    MO: News-Leader (Springfield, Monday to Saturday)

    MS:

    MT: Great Falls Tribune (Great Falls)

    NC: The Courier-Tribune (Asheboro, NC); The Daily Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, NC. Monday-Friday); The Winston-Salem Journal

    NE: The Omaha World Herald (Omaha); Lincoln Journal Star of Nebraska

    NV: Review Journal (Las Vegas, Sun. only); Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, Monday to Sunday)

    NH: Concord Monitor Concord

    NJ: Philadelphia Inquirer (South Jersey); The Newark Star Ledger; The Record (Bergen County)

    NM: Santa Fe New Mexican (Mon – Sat); Portales News-Tribune (Portales, Monday-Saturday)

    NY: AM New York; New York Post; Times-Union (Albany); Utica Observer Dispatch; Post Standard (Syracuse); The Daily Freeman (Kingston, Mon-Sat); Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin (Binghamton, NY); Journal News (Rockland-Westchester counties)

    ND: The Forum (Fargo)

    OH: Dayton Daily News (Mon.-Sat.); Louisville Herald Leader, the News Herald (Willoughby); Spring Field News-Sun (Mon.-Sat.); The “Plain Dealer” (Cleveland, OH); Cincinnati Enquirer

    OK: Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise (Bartlesville)

    OR: Mail Tribune (Medford); Bend Bulletin; The Gazette-Times (Corvallis); The Oregonian (Sunday only)

    PA: Reading Eagle (Reading, Monday to Sunday); Beaver Valley Times (Mon.-Friday & Sunday); Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Now experiencing with other puzzles, might not return to LAT.); The Daily Collegian (the daily student run newspaper at Penn State University has it everyday)

    RI: The Providence Journal(Providence)

    SC: The Sun News (Myrtle Beach).

    SD: Argus Leader (Sioux Falls). Rapid City Journal (Monday-Sunday)

    TN:

    TX: Abilene Reporter News (Abilene, Mon.-Sun.); Amarillo Globe-News; Osessa American; Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX); San Angelo Standard Times; Dallas Morning News; The Houston Chronicle; San Angelo Standard Times (Monday to Sunday)

    UT:

    VT: Burlington Free Press

    VA: The Virginia Pilot; Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond)

    WA: Spokesman-Review (Spokane), Peninsula Daily News of Port Angeles

    WV: Daily Athenaeum (Morgantown, campus paper)

    WI: Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Monday to Saturday); The Post Crescent (Appleton); Oshkosh Northwestern; The Reporter (Fond du Lac, WI).

    WY: Wyoming Tribune Eagle (Cheyenne, Monday to Saturday)

    • Jeffrey says:

      It also appears in many Canadian papers.

    • Alan D. says:

      Wow, very thorough. I knew someone here would know. Thanks!

      • Alan D. says:

        Actually, it looks like some of these newspapers listed are running the Universal crossword (e.g., New York Post). BUT many of them are running the LAT. Still very useful.

        • Alan D. says:

          It seems like I’m talking to myself :-)

          I now think that some papers run the LAT puzzle in the print version but the Universal online.

  8. sbmanion says:

    I have never been bothered by crosswordese. I suspect that this is because I only do the NYT unless I hear that another puzzle is exceptional. Some crosswordese is not even crosswordese for me. If a crossword staple is clued cleverly, I would not even think to complain. One of the all-time discussions on the old NYT forum revolved around the letters TUV as an answer. I forget if the clue was simply “8″ or something even more potentially misleading.

    As for today’s, I thought it was a fun puzzle. The only other word I can think of that has _ _ lare is the Dean Martin song VOLARE. I imagine ending a word in V is not easy. Maybe the corner stores could have been rotated to more sparkling effect, but I was quite impressed with the effort. I would have not circled the letters to see if solvers could figure out the theme.

    Far more than crosswordese, I am always stunned when people complain about a vocabulary word. I strive to increase my knowledge of words and am never disappointed when I learn a new one.

    Steve

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I’m not wild about some of the fill in the LA Times puzzle, but I love Zhouqin’s theme! Lots of fun.

  10. Martin says:

    “ECLAT is only used in the NYT ~2-3 times a year now. Be glad you aren’t solving in the 90′s now – it was used a LOT more!”

    Tough decade, those ’90s.

    -MAS

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Truthfully, I have very little interest in solving puzzles from the ’90s and before, even the puzzles from Will Shortz’s first several years post-Maleska. The puzzles of recent years are far more to my liking. Standards evolve.

  11. Brucenm says:

    One of my frequent contrarian observations: My favorite puz. of the day by far was Ray Hamel’s Wapo. No BS; clever theme; unclichéd, interesting content.

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