Friday, September 20, 2013

NYT 4:06 
LAT 8:42 (Gareth) 
CS 7:11 (Dave) 
CHE untimed (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

He did it. Andy Kravis won $2.6 million on Million Second Quiz Thursday evening. Very well done, indeed!

Mangesh Ghogre and Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 20 13, no. 0920

Congrats to Mumbai’s own Mangesh Ghogre on his NYT puzzle debut! (You’ll see his byline again in the WSJ and LAT within the week.) I think India is further away from the US than Gareth Bain’s home country of South Africa, no?

The puzzle struck me as pretty easy—I was fielding my husband’s queries about what was on TV while I was solving, so this might’ve been another sub-4 solve without the distractions.

There’s some splendor in this grid:

  • 15a. [Expressed slight surprise], RAISED AN EYEBROW. Has there ever been a better eyebrow raiser than John Belushi?
  • 17a. ["But really ..."], ALL KIDDING ASIDE.
  • 48a. [What a board may be against], HOSTILE TAKEOVER.
  • 12d. [Three-time Haitian president], ARISTIDE. I like this one because of the “pirate riddles for sophisticates”I read at McSweeney’s today. “Q: Whom did the pirate vote for in the Haitian election? A: ARRRistide.”
  • 13d. [Super-wonderful], TO DIE FOR.
  • 16d. [Warriors with supposed powers of invisibility and shapeshifting], NINJAS. Ninjas!
And I like these clues best:
  • 23d. ["Your mama wears army boots" and such], SNAPS, in a colloquial sense.
  • 35a. [Works at a museum, say], BUSTS. Works = works of art, not works = does a job.

I raise an eyebrow at TER, which remains lame fill. What good is an [Rx specification] that doctors and pharmacists don’t actually use? And I could do without the roll-your-own wordness of HEAVER and LEERERS. Who uses either word?

No idea what 46d. ["Captain Video" figures, for short] refers to. ETS, as in aliens? Apparently Captain Video and His Video Rangers was a 1949-55 TV show.

3.75 stars for this 68-worder with a pretty grid.

Updated Friday morning

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times
130920

Are inverted clue/answer puzzles now a regular weekly feature at the LA Times? This puzzle is one of the better of the genre though, with consecutive spanning answers answering to [A], [AA], [AAA], and [AAAA]. I especially admire the succinct TWELVESTEPGROUP for [AA]. On the other hand, I’m in two minds about VERYTHINBATTERY. On the one mind (I was going to say hand, but that’d be a mixed metaphor), this puzzle is a lot more impressive with four answers, and really what other AAAA’s are there? Why I don’t find AAAA as a battery elegant is that A, AA, and AAA are all batteries; also, all are, at the very least, thin. For completeness’ [A] is HIGHLETTERGRADE and [AAA] is USMOTORISTSCLUB.

My favourite moment in the puzzle was [Moving line on the ground, maybe] for ANTS. Such a beautiful, evocative clue for a common crossword answer! Surprisingly given four spanners, there are quite a few medium-length phrases in this puzzle – the somewhat modern BIGLOVE, HIDEOUT, WEHADTO (which sounds a bit contrived), IMINAWE (which doesn’t – beautiful answer that!), IBETYOU (see previous), ALLHERE, STOPBY and ROBROY – an impressive list that! I kind of like SUBARID too, but I enjoy seeing scientific terminology a good side more than most solvers, so the jury’s out on that one!

Of course with a dense grid and interesting longer answers there have to be some compromises. Today Jeffrey went the abbr. route: EMI, the EMT/ESTD/MTS cluster, BIOG/GPS, OBS, MSN, NAV, and BCE ([Pre-A.D.] is a terrible clue IMO – A.D. and B.C. or C.E. and B.C.E.: don’t mix the two sets up just because it’s convenient!). That many abbreviations, especially when they appeared in noticeable pockets, did impact my solving experience, a bit.

In sum, an interesting theme idea, and, I think, a net positive in terms of the fill experience. I’m calling it 3.75 stars!

Gareth


Updated Friday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Three Amigos” – Dave Sullivan’s review

A rather wide-open grid featuring 3 puns beginning with a male Spanish first name:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 09/20/13

  • [Bedroom furniture pieces for an amigo?] are JUAN NIGHT STANDS – Juan is a stand-in for “one” here. Rather awkward resulting phrase though–ideally Juan would be a possessive.
  • ["Am I in the way, amigo?"] clues JOSÉ CAN YOU SEE – this one works better in my opinion with José standing in for “Oh say.”
  • [Amigo's adroitness?] was MANUEL DEXTERITY – the Spanish name Manuel takes the place of manual (here, meaning “by hand.”) There’s likely a common etymology among the English “manual,” Spanish “mano” and the Latin “manus.” Another somewhat awkward resulting phrase that seems to be asking for an ‘S after the name.

These puns seem rather stale to me, but I did like the consistency that the Spanish name began each one. In terms of the rest of the puzzle, I’m not sure if I was too distracted watching fellow fiend Andy Kravis take home the millions, but I found this one very difficult. For instance, how common is [Supergirl's secret identity] or LINDA LEE? (I tried LOIS LANE at first). As that was surrounded by the difficult UNDERLIE for [Support], DONE IN for [Pooped] and LA JOLLA for [City near San Diego], I was nearly “done in” as well. I do admire the openness of the grid; it’s just I wasn’t prepared for a puzzle that gave me such a tussle (or is that TOUSLE?) JUBILANT was my FAVE today, and the “roll-yer-own” occupation of ABIDERS for [Patient people] (it didn’t help I was thinking of a doctor’s office!) was my UNFAVE.

Ian Livengood’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Gin Joints” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/20/13 • “Gin Joints” • Fri • Livengood • solution

Folks generally don’t go for a gin chaser, but that’s sort of what’s going on here. The /jin/ sound has been annexed to the ends of words in base phrases, usually altering—often radically—the preëxisting word therein.

  • 21a. [Assent to a sick bay doctor?] AYE, AYE, SURGEON (sir + “gin” = surgeon).
  • 34a. [Distinguished bayou resident?] SPECIAL CAJUN (K + “gin” = cajun). Because I am the nice one, I will spare you my special rewritten rendition of Johnny Rivers’ big hit (“Secret Cajun Man”).
  • 51a. [Fashion trend pioneered by a Roman emperor?] TRAJAN CHIC (très + “gin” = Trajan).
  • 68a. [Like a damsel in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie?] SAVED BY THE BELGIAN (bell + gin = Belgian). No chocolate? I’m more likely to be saved by Belgian chocolate.
  • “La Gin” ?

    89a. [Military unit comprised of Getz, Laurel, Musial and Mikita?] STAN LEGION (Lee + “gin” = legion). Crossword Stans of note, one and all.

  • 103a. [Bit of Morse code from a mechanic?] ENGINE DASHES (en + “gin” = engine). En unchanged. First themer not altering the final word.
  • 119a. [Periodical focused solely on basketball's Baylor?] ELGIN MAGAZINE (Elle + “gin” = Elgin). Pro career 1958–1971. Despite whatever fame he may have achieved, I feel it would have been better and more believable (a highly relative term in context) to imagine an art magazine (think FMR) obsessed with the world-famous Elgin Marbles (aka Parthenon Marbles), still controversially residing in the British Museum. Second themer not altering the final word.

Very much enjoyed the imaginative reworkings of phrases and the variety of spellings invoked—no repeats! I do wish, though, that the last-word pattern could have been maintained through the end, through the last two entries. Nevertheless, it’s a real achievement and well done.

Beyond the theme, there are some great longer entries: NAVY SEALS; the colloquial ROT IN JAIL, COME ON IN, and WANNA BET; EGGPLANT; PRIME RIB; AVIATION.

Further, there is great cluing throughout; a handful of standouts:

  • 12a [Players in the computer industry] CD-ROMS.
  • 19a [Secret place?] ARMPIT, boosted—for once—by a cross reference: 96a [19-Across, to a doctor] AXILLA. All that’s missing is my personal favorite, OXTER. (See also 41a [Speed Stick brand] MENNEN.
  • 95d [Overhang, in a sports bar?] BEER GUT. Though you can be pretty sure if this were a gender-reversed clue (and accompanying answer, probably something different, just an analogue, you understand) there’d be outcry.
  • 104d [Brew necessity, maybe] NEWT. Bit of a stretch, but it’s refreshing. Not the Shakespearean brew, the clue.
  • 107d [It's held in Paris banks] SEINE.
  • 121d [Setting sight] GEM.
  • Callbacks: SÍ, SEÑOR following AYE, AYE, SURGEON in Row 3; 44a [Spread in a diner] MAYO, 112a [Diner order] MELT (not MALT, by the way); 14d [Apt. units] RMS, 45d [Apt. units] ACS; 49d [Ominous time] IDES, 12d [Brutus co-conspirator] CASCA.

I suspect there will be some hues and cries at the number of unusual proper names in the grid, but I feel the crossings make them fair. Jeremy RENNER, Mitch ALBOM, RAFA(el) Nadal, abbrev. OBAD(iah), Brent SPINER, James SWOOPIN, Nicki MINAJ, Idris ELBA,  ”My Friend IRMA,”and perhaps even GENA Rowlands, Clare DANES, TIM ROTH, Tito PUENTE, and Milo O’SHEA.

Other botanicals:

  • 87a [Conducting problem] TIN EAR. I’d say a disqualifier more than a mere problem, but of course that ruins the clue’s misdirection.
  • 1d [Maker of the Deep Sweep Power Brush]. With OR––– in, I thought for sure it was vacuum manufacturer ORECK, but it was dental care company ORAL-B.
  • 88d [JFK, before 1963] IDLEWILD, which could have been, but wisely wasn’t, clued as a cross-reference to 2d [2003 #1 hit for Outkast] (“HEY YA!“).

George Barany and Alex Vratsanos’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Great Dane” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 9/20/13 • “Great Dane” • Barany, Vratsanos • solution

Now this is a geeky puzzle, perhaps a little reminiscent of that 21×21 orrery-style crossword (which I can’t seem to locate) from a couple of years ago. Here we have demonstrated the BOHR MODEL | OF THE ATOM (21a [With 53 Across, groundbreaking physical theory that celebrates its 53 Down in 2013], which does indeed have a CENTENNIAL this year. Finishing out the orthogonal theme material is 31d [Like the orbits in Sommerfeld's modification to the 21 Across/53 Across] ELLIPTICAL. Just in case you care or were wondering, that’s Niels Bohr (Danish) and Arnold Sommerfeld (German).

Further, via circles (regular ellipses) the BOHR MODEL is represented graphically in the grid with a NUCLEUS huddled in the center and an ELECTRON “orbiting” the perimeter at regular intervals. Once again, in case you care or were wondering, that makes this either hydrogen (ATNO 1) or a hydrogen-like atom. Is there one with six nucleons?

Annoying, isn’t it? At least it’s small.


There’s a rather coquinopelvic sensibility to the crossword, and that extends even to the title—which doesn’t stick all that well—but you can’t blame the constructors for trying to fit what they could into the puzzle, all the while adhering to conventions of symmetry and so forth. Blame Van der Waals, I guess. Anyway, it’s a bit of a LULU(S) and I certainly won’t begrudge it.

Atomizations, random bits:

  • Favorite clue: 8d [Russian nickname for Alexander] SASHA. Why? Because it’s nice to see one without reference to Miss OBAMA (62a), not that I have anything against her. It still irks me to see it as a female name, though, and that’s the second reason I appreciated this clue. Second-favorite clue, weirdly is 33a [Prefix with -science] OMNI. Third-favorite: 51d [Local listings] STOPS.
  • Seeing 23a ELON and 44a HUSK relatively close to each other and sequentially aligned practically screams “ELON MUSK” of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX fame. Not to be confused with muskmelon, by the way. Conversely, as I’ve made abundantly clear I don’t particularly care for cross-reference clues. (23a [North Carolina college], 44a [Corn cover])
  • 5d & 52a. AID, ABET. See above.
  • Trivia! 17a [His vice president was from a different party] ADAMS. John Adams (POTUS NO 2) was a Federalist while his opponent-cum-veep Thomas Jefferson was on the Democratic-Republican ticket.
  • Cards! TAROT, FARO, OMBRE.

Good if slightly scattered crossword. On the other hand, an atom isn’t as neat and tidy as the Bohr model suggests.

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26 Responses to Friday, September 20, 2013

  1. Sarah says:

    Lot of -s, -er and -ed words.

    And time to retire ATEENAGERINLOVE? This appears to be it’s 11th appearance in crosswords

  2. janie says:

    >Has there ever been a better eyebrow raiser than John Belushi?

    i was always pretty impressed w/ vivien leigh’s ability in that department, as well.

    pretty impressed with mangesh and doug’s puzzle, too, while i’m at it. bravi, guys! looking forward to seeing more — solo ventures or paired!

    ;-)

  3. lemonade714 says:

    So great to see Mangesh and this effort with Doug. Looking forward to the rest.

  4. Gareth says:

    Congrats to the latest member of the intercontinental NYT constructors club (Mangesh is already a member of the equivalent LAT club of course!)! Also the third Asian-born constructor (that I’m aware of anyway) after Zhouqin Burnikel and Singapore’s Julian Lim!

    The HEAVER/LEERER area is a tad ugly, but I’m more ambivalent about ATEENAGERINLOVE – having something of a soft spot for schmaltzy Dion and the Belmonts! Wanted DEADON to be SPOTON first: both are great answers! Interesting having that cross TODIEFOR!

  5. Brucenm says:

    Pretty Easy???????? You gotta be kidding, but I’m impressed. One of the hardest puzzles of the year for me. The whole bottom just sat there, especially the SW which I didn’t think I’d ever get (and I can even hum a few bars of ‘A teenager in Love.’)

    But it was great. Congrats Mangesh. Well, Doug too, but — you know — what else is new. :-)

  6. Huda says:

    Not easy for me either, but I loved the combination of ALL KIDDING ASIDE and RAISED AND EYEBROW! You can see a conversation, right there with one side trying to be convincing and the other expressing doubt.

    No better eyebrow raiser than my grandson. The kid did it as a baby. It’s hilarious to have a baby look at you intently and then raise an eyebrow.

  7. sbmanion says:

    Very easy for me this week. I got all of the long entries very quickly and knew almost all of the trivia except for PENNON, which was new for me. SPOT ON held me up briefly, but all my other guesses proved to be DEAD ON.

    Excellent puzzle.

    Steve

  8. Daniel says:

    NYT was a fun experience today. Loved the long entries (although I’m really tired of A TEENAGER IN LOVE, for which I have no soft spots). Their very colloquialness made them pretty easy to figure out, but they’re no less elegant for that. Wonderful debut!

  9. Martin says:

    The WSJ has it’s own post, sort of. I couldn’t comment on that thread and the tk is still here so there seems to be a bit of reorg in order. I was going to add my favorite clue was the one for NEWT.

  10. jane lewis says:

    congratulations to andy kravis – the winnings should help pay off the student loans.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Andy won $2.6 million on “Million Second Quiz,” and he just graduated from Columbia Law School with sizeable student loan debt. He can repay his loans and have so much left over!

        Or by “Help?” did you mean “Can Andy help me pay off my loans too?”?

  11. Noam D. Elkies says:

    I count seven nucleons, not six. (Or maybe they are quarks and gluons?)

    Yes, the article on hydrogen-like atoms mentions twice-ionized lithium, whose 6- and 7-nucleon isotopes are both stable. (Li-7 is the more common isotope.) There’s also beryllium-7, which has a half-life of 53+ days, and other very short-lived isotopes of boron, beryllium, helium, and hydrogen itself that have an atomic weight of 6 or 7.

    Meanwhile, what’s “coquinopelvic”? I don’t even know how to pronounce the first part (could be either co-keno or cock-wino). Google comes up empty on the word, and tells me “coquino” is Latin for “I cook (as a job)”. Confusus sum.

    NDE

  12. sandirhodes says:

    lol @ pannonica. I saw eight ‘e l e c t r o n’ (s), so I assumed some nobility. Light neon? LOL!

    (or stable nitrogen?)

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      Seven nucleons, not seven protons. The lightest nitrogen isotope has 10 according to Wikipedia’s article on nitrogen isotopes, and even that one has a half-life of a fraction of a zeptosecond.

      • Alex Vratsanos says:

        1 zeptosecond = 10^-21 second (one billionth of one trillionth of a second)

        Thanks, Noam… thank you, pannonica, for your awesome writeup… and thank you to all who saw and/or solved George’s and my puzzle. We worked very hard at it, and I believe it paid off. We hope you’ve enjoyed it!

  13. mitchs says:

    This old fart still can’t see SNAP. Wanted SNARK, thinking that made me way hip.

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