Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NYT 4:03 (Amy) 
Tausig untimed (Amy) 
LAT untimed (Doug) 
CS 8:04 (Ade) 

Michael Dewey’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 16 14, no. 0416

NY Times crossword solution, 4 16 14, no. 0416

Who doesn’t love a 102nd-anniversary commemorative puzzle? I was ready for this one because my son had just mentioned the anniversary this afternoon:

  • 20a. [Post-christening event], MAIDEN VOYAGE. I was thinking of baby christenings.
  • 28a. [What scientists use to predict the rates of chemical reactions], COLLISION THEORY. This was a difficult one for me.
  • 49a. [Small part that's visible], TIP OF THE ICEBERG.
  • 58a. [Headline of April 16, 1912], TITANIC SINKS.

I’m now picturing kitchen sinks that are absolutely ginormous. Just me?

I had a heck of a time getting started on anything in the northwest corner of this grid. 1a [Bound] could be TIED (past tense of “bind”) or LEAP as well as the correct answer, JUMP. 14a [___ cry], I had “HUE AND cry” and”WAR cry” in my head instead of “A FAR cry.” Wasn’t sure who our 17a [Nirvana seeker] was (YOGI). The Downs weren’t any friendlier to me.

Surprised to see some hardcore bits of crosswordese here. ATLI! Tyler Hinman and I once named a bar trivia team after this [Mythical king of the Huns]. Pretty sure we intimidated the other teams on the strength of ATLI alone. EDO, [Tokyo's former name], is also showing up in blessedly fewer crosswords these days.

Loved seeing 9d [Winnie-the-Pooh catchphrase] “OH, BOTHER” in the puzzle. Did not love its symmetrical partner REFINERY because of that jerky little refinery in Whiting, Indiana, that spilled some oil in Lake Michigan (source of my family’s drinking water!) a few weeks ago. Not a big spill, luckily.

3.66 stars from me.

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Doug’s review

Gareth Bain's 4/16/14 LA Times grid

Gareth Bain’s 4/16/14 LA Times grid

Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. Surprise! Gareth’s got another puzzle in LA Times. Sometimes I cheat and jump down to check for a revealer entry, but I decided to solve this one from top to bottom. Let’s see how it went.

  • 17a. [*Tyke's dinnertime perch] - BOOSTER SEAT. Hmmm. After this one, I was thinking maybe the theme was types of rockets.
  • 25a. [*Unfair deception] - CHEAP TRICK. This one didn’t shed any light on the theme for me. And I got a song stuck in my head, so that was distracting.
  • 37a. [*Insignificant amount] - DROP IN THE BUCKET. Got it! They’re all types of shots.
  • 48a. [*Numero uno] – HEAD HONCHO.
  • 59a. [Try, or a hint to the first words of the answers to the starred clues] - GIVE IT A SHOT.

So we’ve got a booster shot (ouch!), a cheap shot (ouch! again), a drop shot (tennis thing), and a head shot (smile!). That’s a nice variety of shots. I’m not quite sure how to connect the GIVE IT A SHOT revealer to the entries. I suppose we could say each theme entry is “giving” the theme a SHOT. That’ll work.

  • 16a. [Title heartbreaker in a Three Dog Night song] - ELI. I don’t recall the lyrics to “Eli’s Comin’,” but I bet Gareth does. He knows his music. And I appreciate a fresh clue for tired old ELI.
  • Starflight25a. [*Unfair deception] - CHEAP TRICK. I’d be willing to bet that Gareth clued this entry with a reference to the band. I can tell you exactly where I first heard Cheap Trick. On this awesome K-Tel album, Starflight. I listened to this record a bajillion times. The highlights for ten-year old me were Abba, Cheap Trick, David Naughton, and of course Suzi Quatro aka Leather Tuscadero from Happy Days. I also liked to play Robert John’s supremely sappy “Sad Eyes” on 45 RPM and pretend it was a Chipmunks song.
  • 55a/59a/68a - HOOF IT / GIVE IT A SHOT / NOT IT. That’s a lot of ITs down there at the bottom of the grid. But  you know what? I didn’t notice them when I was solving. I only saw the similarities when I went back and looked at the puzzle, wondering “What am I going to write about?” The IT trio is inelegant, but not fatal. I’d deduct a fraction of a star if I was into that sort of thing.
  • 35d. ["Don't tell me, don't tell me!"] - I KNOW THIS. I love this entry. Gareth has earned back his fraction of a star plus interest!
  • 61d. [Doc who administers a pet scan?] - VET / 66a. [Kevin of "Cry Freedom"] - KLINE. A couple of constructor-related clues/entries. I like to see that personal touch.

A right-over-the-plate Wednesday puzzle. Thanks, Gareth.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “When Harry Met Sally”—Ade’s write-up 

CrossSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.16.14: "When Harry Met Sally"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.16.14: “When Harry Met Sally”

Hello everyone!

My apologies for the late posting, but there’s no way anything was going to stop me from talking about Mr. Hartman’s splendid puzzle effort. It’s almost such a good theme execution that you wished you had thought of it yourself. In it, he creates puns using a word or words (some of them proper nouns) that could end with “Harry” and merged them with a word or words that could begin with “Sally,” and vice versa, evoking the classic movie – and movie title – When Harry Met Sally…

  • DIRTY FIELD: (17A: [Geotechnical engineering?])…DIRTY HARRY/SALLY FIELD.  ”You feeling lucky, Sally?  Well, do you, punk?!?!”
  • GIVE EM HELL RIDE: (26A: [Scary roller coaster?])…GIVE ‘EM HELL HARRY/SALLY RIDE
  • LONG TALL POTTER: (41A: [Lanky ceramist?])…LONG TALL SALLY/HARRY POTTER.  Could this also refer to a 6-foot-5, 188-pound stoner?
  • AXIS STYLES: (54A: [Coordinate system consideration?])…AXIS SALLY/HARRY STYLES.  I saw X, Y, and Z all walking down the runway in the new Betsey Johnson collection during Fashion Week.  Fab-u-less!

First off, I heard of Axis Sally one time, when watching a documentary in eighth grade social studies class, and then never again…until now. Besides going down memory lane, this grid has some nice fill, including GO BLUE (42D: [Michigan cheer]). Mr. Hartman might be, in the words of the late iconic football coach Bo Schembechler,”A Michigan Man.” British rock legends get their due in symmetric fashion with ISLAND GIRL (27D: [1975 chart-topper by Elton John]) and EXPERIENCE (11D: [The Jimi Hendrix ____]). Don’t know about you, but I always imagined/spelled DITSY (35A: [A few fries short of a Happy Meal]) with a “z” (ditzy). Whatever be the case, the cluing for it gave me a laugh. It might be more than just coincidence that AH, ME (23A: [Quaint sigh]) crossed SAY WHEN (5D: [Pourer’s comment]), given many of us want to “say when” when it comes to seeing “ah, me” in another puzzle. And just noticed that both AXIS and ALLY (25D: [Comrade in arms]) are in the grid. A “Michigan Man” and a WWII buff at the same time, maybe?

Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AXEL (16A: [Figure skating jump])- The Axel, just like other figure skating jumps (Lutz, Salchow), is named after the person who first invented the maneuver, which was created in the late 19th century. Although you skate backwards leading up to the jump, right before takeoff, the skater steps forward and elevates into the jump. Executing the triple Axel (which is three and one-half rotations) is now common in men’s figure skating, but extremely rare in women’s figure skating, as most perform double Axels in their programs. Many women don’t possess enough strength and elevation to perform that specific maneuver (triple Axel), but six women have pulled it off in competitions, five in international events. One of the women who achieved the feat? Tonya Harding. Hmmm, what ever happened to her?

Thanks so much for your patience, and I’ll be with you again bright and early tomorrow morning! Take care!

AOK

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Odds and Evens”

Chicago Reader / Ink Well crossword solution, 4 16 14 "Odds and Ends"

Chicago Reader / Ink Well crossword solution, 4 16 14 “Odds and Ends”

Unusual veiled theme here: The theme clues include an “alternately” hint for two words whose letters alternate within the full word/phrase 17a. [Teddy bear's quality or, alternately, cooks vases in oil?] clues FURRINESS or, alternately, F-R-I-E-S and U-R-N-S intertwined. CALLIOPE embodies CLIP and ALOE; REUNION has RUIN ENO; the bird known as the BLUE TIT hides a BUTT LEI, or [... a wreath for the rear?]; TOADLIKE has TALK ODIE; and CHOO-CHOOS has COCO’S HO HO. Weird, right? But it works.

Weirdest thing: 55d. [Defunct oil company with a "76" logo], UNOCAL. I couldn’t have told you the name of the company with the 76 gas stations, but I was recently in an antique shop (one featuring plenty of antiques from the ’70s) that had a fishbowl full of orange styrofoam balls with “76″ on them. If you are an American of a certain vintage, you will remember people driving around with those “76″ balls stuck on their car’s radio antenna. Because what is cooler than showing your gas station brand loyalty to all who pass?

Fave clue: 63a. [Option for those who are anti-Russian and anti-French?], RANCH. Salad dressing, how whimsical you are.

3.75 stars from me.

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14 Responses to Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  1. ArtLvr says:

    The NYT was tougher because of the cluing — like “Sun block?” for ECLIPSE… but it was a satisfying solve. Enjoyed Gareth’s LAT too, as I saw the revealer coming. Nice shots, though I wondered if the PET scan clue is accurate in having capitalization, or just in fun?

    • Brucenm says:

      The physicians and scientists here are better equipped to respond than I, but . . . Positron Emission Tomography. I’ve had them. Also CAT scans, and they’d probably give me a DOG scan too, if they could find one.

      The kindergarten version is that a substance which emits gamma (?) rays is introduced into the body; it will be absorbed by the pathological tissue you want to investigate, (I don’t know why), and then the emissions can be scanned or tracked to give a 3-dimensional image. Perhaps someone who *really* knows what they’re talking about can amplify or clarify.

      Winter Wonderland. A couple inches of beautiful, fresh snow this morning in Hadley. I just hope it doesn’t damage the asparagus. :-)

      • David L says:

        In PET, they use a tracer molecule containing a radioactive atom that undergoes fairly rapid (tens of minutes, say) decay that produces a positron.

        The tracer molecule is chosen so that it tends to concentrate, for biochemical reasons, in whatever part of the body you want to look at (the biomolecular part of this is beyond my ken).

        So the tracer builds up in some area of interest, and emits positrons, which rapidly slow down and annihilate with an electron (matter and antimatter…). The annihilation generates a pair of gamma rays with specific energy, emerging in opposite directions. That’s the signature the detector looks for, and it means you can localize the point of emission very precisely. So what a PET scan maps is the concentration of the tracer.

        • Brucenm says:

          That makes sense, and helps me understand further. E.g. the thyroid takes up iodine, so that’s why I-131 therapy works for Thyroid CA, — (as the physicians say, thinking there is something magical about not pronouncing the word.)

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT:“I had a heck of a time getting started on anything in the northwest corner of this grid. 1a [Bound] could be TIED (past tense of “bind”) or LEAP as well as the correct answer, JUMP. 14a [___ cry], I had “HUE AND cry” and”WAR cry” in my head instead of “A FAR cry.” Wasn’t sure who our 17a [Nirvana seeker] was (YOGI). The Downs weren’t any friendlier to me.”

    Specifically 4-down [Kind of instinct], which could just as easily be ANIMAL as well as PRIMAL. As it’s the only lead-in to a very screwy cul-de-sac and those first letters are kind of critical, it’s a horrendous clue choice. As this is only a Wednesday, a much better clue for ––(I)MAL would have been [Kind of of fear].

    • Bencoe says:

      Or scream. Only reason that corner didn’t kill me was JAY, which I found easy. Also didn’t help that I associate yogis with Hinduism and nirvana with Buddhism.

  3. pannonica says:

    LAT: “16a. [Title heartbreaker in a Three Dog Night song] – ELI. I don’t recall the lyrics to “Eli’s Comin’,” but I bet Gareth does. He knows his music. And I appreciate a fresh clue for tired old ELI.”

    One of two hits they had with a Laura Nyro song. The other was “And When I Die.” Their other big song, “One”? That was written and first done by Harry Nilsson. Oh wait, forgot “Joy to the World,” which I’m pretty was someone else’s song … yep, Hoyt Axton.

    • pannonica says:

      Okay, mistake. It was Blood, Sweat and Tears who covered “And When I Die.” But does it really matter?

      Does anybody really know what time it is?

      • Jeffrey K says:

        It is 25 or 6 to 4.

        • ahimsa says:

          And now I have duelling Chicago earworms. Actually, I prefer either of those to “Jeremiah was a bullfrog….”, so thanks!

          I’m late doing puzzles today, and haven’t even done any other puzzle yet, but wanted to post to say that I enjoyed Gareth’s puzzle in the LA Times. Unlike the write-up I didn’t see the theme until the end. Good one!

  4. Martin says:

    I’m not familiar with UNOCAL (in the Ink Well xword), but the orange ball with the 76 was the logo of the “Union 76″ gas stations, which I think were quite common sight in the ’60s and ’70s… especially the little ball decorations that a lot of people put on their car antennas (for some reason).

    -MAS

    • john farmer says:

      The Union 76 stations are still a common sight, at least by me. But the parent company, Unocal, was bought out by Chevron a few years ago.

    • Tim H. says:

      I think the primary function of the antenna balls was that it made it easier to find your car in a crowded lot, unless, hypothetically, everybody had one, but it never came to that.

  5. Joan Macon says:

    Well, Amy, we never got the blog for yesterday’s LAT. I will be driven to check the King of Crosswords, and I really don’t want to.

Comments are closed.