Friday, April 18, 2014

NYT 5:44 (Amy) 
LAT 4:55 (Gareth) 
CS 8:21 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) 11:49 (pannonica) 
CHE 5:16 (pannonica) 

James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 18 14, no 0418

NY Times crossword solution, 4 18 14, no 0418

1-Across? I’m thinking no. No, ["Definitely, dawg!"] should not clue “FO SHIZZLE,” as that is largely extinct slang. I can’t decide if it is any worse than, says, NERTS. Is 50 years outdated better or worse than 10 years outdated? The former seems quaint while the latter just clangs against the ear. Would someone please poll Snoop Dogg/Snoop Lion on the issue?

Trickiest clue: 18a [Moving supply], LITHE. That’s “moving in a supple fashion,” not “a supply that is emotionally moving or that is for a household move.”

Least familiar clue word: Squiffy in 60d: [It can make you squiffy], ALE. British for “slightly drunk.” I like this word!

Likes:

  • 17a. STANDING O. I want to rhyme this with Mandingo.
  • 58a. [Musician who co-founded Nutopia], ONO. I plugged in ENO. I don’t have a clue what Nutopia is but appreciate a fresh ONO clue. (New + utopia.)
  • 60a. ALAN ARKIN, full name.
  • 63a. [Something awful], LIKE CRAZY. The clue’s more adverbial, less of a noun phrase.
  • 12d. NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT. When this is one of your marquee answers, does it cast aspersions on the puzzle?

Wasn’t so pleased with the AT dupes in EATS AT and the crossing duo STAY AT and RUN AT. Was not aware that “wan” could be a verb, not just an adjective; not every dictionary mentions it. WANS is not a great answer, even if its [Pales] clue is direct.

There’s a bit more in the TOR ULE INDO THRO APIA LTYR vein than in the “hey, I like that!” vein. 3.33 stars from me.

Peter Koetters’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140418

LA Times
140418

This puzzle is certainly ambitious! OLIVERTWIST is a perfect revealing answer, suggesting the anagramming of OLIVER. Of course OLIVER doesn’t anagram to anything, or at least any other single words. So, Mr. Koetters went for the next best approach, dividing them across words. With such long letter strings, one problem is that you often end up with bland and/or tortured theme answers. I really like this set though, especially CODLIVEROIL and ILOVEROCKNROLL. SAVILEROWSUITS is creative! It could be deemed arbitrary but I think it flies. In full the theme answers are:

  • 17a, [Fish-derived supplement], CODLIVEROIL
  • 24a, [Prince Charles' closetful], SAVILEROWSUITS.
  • 37a, [Leaving the jurisdiction, perhaps], PAROLEVIOLATION
  • 48a, [1982 Joan Jett & the Blackhearts hit], ILOVEROCKNROLL. The original Arrows version.
  • 59a, [Literary orphan ... and what 17-, 24-, 37- and 48-Across each contains?], OLIVERTWIST

Another problem faced when using long letter strings, is that your phrases are long, usually longer than the preferred 9-11 letters of crossword puzzle theme answers. Here we have 11/14/15/14/11 for a grid-busting 65 theme squares! So you are going to notice some cracks, but I think the difficulties were contained rather well in the main.

I liked TRICOLORS (needs a ‘u’) and STIRWELL among the longer answers. [Like one expected to deliver?], MESSIANIC is appropriate for today! There were even some highlights in the 6 and under department. KOSOVO is also nice with its unusual spelling. [Tool that's not for crosscuts], RIPSAW has a clue that means nothing to this DIY illiterate! [Site of the Alaska Purchase transfer ceremony] SITKA is another fun-looking answer in the grid; by population, it shouldn’t be crossworthy, but it has great historical significance, as touched upon by the clue [Site of the Alaska Purchase transfer ceremony]. I didn’t know BULOVA , I have never understood the appeal of ornamental watches, but it seems like a fun addition to the grid!

Of the compromises; [Appomattox bicentennial year], MMLXV is certainly a bold gambit! I mean, it’s hopefully contrived, but is so gonzo you almost don’t mind! RNAS is always awkw. and OFWAR is too. But really given everything that’s going on here I’m more than willing to look past these.

4.25 Stars. Impressive Construction!
Gareth

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Celebrity Sides”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.18.14: "Celebrity Sides"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.18.14: “Celebrity Sides”

It’s Friday, y’all!

Hello once again, and hope you all have some good things already planned for the weekend. If your plans don’t involve having delectable meals at a diner or restaurant, Mr. Arbesfeld’s puzzle might make you reconsider. His foodie grid plays on the names of celebrities by tacking on to them at the end to form a traditional side dish. Yummy, if I say so myself…

  • TANA FRENCH FRIES: (17A: [“Faithful Place” novelist’s side?])- Of all the different types of ways to have fries (curly, seasoned, sweet potato, etc.), my personal favorite is curry fries. Tried it on a whim at a bar about five years ago, and now I’m hooked. How do you like your fries?
  • NATALIE COLESLAW: (37A: [“Unforgettable” singer’s side])- It’s rare that you can enjoy the remake of a particular song equally as much as the original (and its original singer). “Unforgettable” would fall into the category, with Nat King Cole AND Natalie Cole.
  • KEVIN BACON STRIP: (58A: [“Footloose” actor’s side?])- You know all those memes/T-shirts out there that state that everything is better with bacon? As a life-long bacon abstainer, I’m not buying it. Sorry.

Mr. Arbesfeld really wants to make us hungry, not only with the food references but the very slick entry of BON APPÉTIT (3D: [Cook’s Illustrated competitor]). And just in case the food didn’t agree with you, make sure you have your ANTACIDS close by (38D: [Stomach soothers]). Or maybe you want to get your food by DELIVERY (21A: [Shipment]). There’s food everywhere!

Because of all the trouble Jon Arbuckle has to go through with his cat, it’s not out of the question that he would write an ODE (30A: [Praise, but not prose]) to ODIE (11D: [“Garfield” canine]). I remember when the comic strip became the Saturday morning cartoon, “Garfield and Friends.” in the early 90s. It actually was really funny! Much better than any remake/iteration of the comic strip on other platforms since. This grid has three 15-letter entries, but a 15×15 wouldn’t accommodate “Alcoholics Anonymous,” nor would any crossword grid accommodate “AA,” so AL-ANON it is (20A: [Family support group]). PR MAN (24: [Madison Ave. worker, perhaps]) knocks out the usual “ad man” answer for that clue, and OLEN (44D: [Pulitzer-winning author Robert ____ Butler]) just made Lena Olin upset with his appearance in the grid. JULES VERNE as a whole is a rare appearance, but a welcomed sight (27D: [Captain Nemo creator]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ERIE PA (57: [Part of a postal address for Gannon Univ.])- Erie is known for its minor league sports teams, including the Erie SeaWolves, a Detroit Tigers (baseball) affiliate, and the Erie Otters, a junior ice hockey team. Probably the most famous athlete from Erie, Pa. is Bruce Baumgartner, one of the best American (and international) freestyle wrestlers in history. He won the gold medal in the super heavyweight class (130 kg) in both the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Now can I get some props from PuzzleGirl for mentioning wrestling in this space????

Have a good Friday (on Good Friday) and an amazing weekend, everyone!

AOK

Joon Pahk and Doug Peterson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Party Lines” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 4/18/14 • "Party Lines" • Pahk, Peterson • solution

CHE • 4/18/14 • “Party Lines” • Pahk, Peterson • solution

Well this was a fun little soufflé. Phrases invoked in the service of puns based on political parties, with an international tang.

  • 17a. [Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad on the high seas?] BA’ATH SALTS. Also playing on the hoary crossword roustabout, “salt” for sailor. Iraq and Syria.
  • 26a. [Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore in pancake makeup?] POWDERED WHIGS. Of course, the Whigs once wore powdered periwigs, but judging from the assortment of portraits I encountered, that time had passed by the time these two United States presidents had their day in the sun. The Whig party originated elsewhere, but the US was used in the clue because 58-across precluded that other nation’s appearance here.
  • 43a. ["Shh! I want to hear what Benjamin Netanyahu has to say!"] LIKUD’S TALKING (Look Who’s Talking). Israel.
  • 58a. [Margaret Thatcher supporter in Scotland Yard?] POLICE TORY (Police Story, of television and film notoriety). Bit of a weak scenario or alibi in the clue, but a good, elisive pun. United Kingdom.

519LJt6pm7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Fine theme, entertaining puns—especially the last two.

A couple of medium-length acrosses overlapping themers: Elvis COSTELLO and RUDENESS. Down-eights are LESS THAN with a minimal clue [<] and thankfully no Bret Easton Ellis fill-in-the-blank, and the obsolescent [Trade-show giveaway, perhaps] MOUSE PAD. Still among the downs, we see political operative Silvio BERLUSCONI (Forza Italiana / The People of Freedom) and WORD LADDER, clued as [Way to change lead into gold in three steps?]. If you care, it can be done thusly: LEAD → LOAD → GOAD → GOLD. Or, in two steps, Pb → Pu  → Au.

This-is-a-CHE-puzzle clues: 1d [Duchess of __ (Goya portrait subject)] ALBA; not actress Jessica. 40a ["Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" character Land] NED; not neighbor Flanders of The Simpsons, nor actor Beatty.

Practically zero junk among all the fill. Solid cluing with a bit of liveliness. Above average crossword.

Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Spring Loaded” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/18/14 • "Spring Loaded" • Fri • Jones • solution

WSJ • 4/18/14 • “Spring Loaded” • Fri • Jones • solution

Little bitty revealer at 121-across: [Easter bunny's spring, found in this puzzle's nine longest answers] HOP. Hidden, kind of like an Easter egg? Note also the double-entendre of spring, seasonal and saltatory.

  • 23a. [Wearers of pallia] ARCHBISHOPS.
  • 29a. [Favorable judgment] HIGH OPINION.
  • 43a. [One who can't wait to see what's in store?] SHOPAHOLIC. Cute clue.
  • 49a. [Joint expert] ORTHOPEDIST.
  • 63a. [Promising investments] GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES. How very WSJ.
  • 84a. [Donkey-riding squire] SANCHO PANZA.
  • 86a. [Profiler's subject] PSYCHOPATH.
  • 104a. [Ranger Russet, for example] IDAHO POTATO.
  • 112a. [Its champion is awarded the Claret Jug] BRITISH OPEN.

Four one-word answers, five of two-words; good distribution. I appreciate the way the HOP consistently spans the gap for the latter sort.

Incidentals: 22a [Bunny's kin] HARE. 115a [A couple of bucks, say] DEER; rabbits are also called does and bucks, but the young are kits, not fawns. 108d [Easter lead-in] LENT.

Desultory observations:

  • Mis-fill of the lower right corner. 107a [According to], 107d [Pinnacle]. Prior to À LA and APEX, I went with PER and PEAK, then À LA and ACME. Last section filled correctly, also needed adjustment: for 59-down [Was a glutton] had the lame ATE A LOT rather than the also lame ATE A TON; as a result, 83a [Hawaiian roll ingredient] was LUNA and 92a [Distant, quaintly] was YOT. The proper answers are of course TUNA and YON.
  • Non-Arthurian clue for BEA: 27a [Big Band singer Wain], whom I’ve never heard of.
  • 40a ["… __ player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage…": Macbeth] A POOR. That’s life.
  • 57a [Ruler's domain?] FOOT, 51d [Ruler's roosts] THRONES / 13a [Gentle pace] TROT, 39d [Gentle pace] JOG.
  • Crossing Iberian artists: 106a ["The Bridge at Argenteuil" painter] Claude MONET, 106d ["Dog Barking at the Moon" painter] Joan MIRÓ.
  • 102d [Result of bad service] NO TIP. That’s harsh. For absolutely atrocious service, perhaps.

As usual, a good mix of interesting fill and clues, cleverness and interesting trivia. But also a share of flimsy partials, crosswordese, and so on. Still, a good but overall kind of slight puzzle.

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10 Responses to Friday, April 18, 2014

  1. Bencoe says:

    Four phrases ending in “at” seems like too many for one puzzle.

  2. sbmanion says:

    I wonder if the entire phrase would be considered obscene. Fo shizzle, my _izzle. Word to Honkies: Don’t ever begin an inner city rhyme with a word that begins with “n.”

    Much easier for me than the puzzles of the past few weeks.

    Steve

  3. Boston Bob says:

    I lived 61 years without ever once encountering “Fo shizzle.” Wish it had been longer.

  4. Brucenm says:

    I’m of two minds about this puzzle. 1a, to me, is the sort of annoying entry, which some constructors revel in, whose principal purpose seems to be to say “Look how much cooler and more ingroupy I am than you are.” Yet much about the puzzle was lively, different, quirky and interestingly clued.

  5. Brucenm says:

    Loved the LAT and J & D’s CHE. (How ingroupy is that?) Re the latter, is anyone troubled by the fact the 3 of the 4 theme entries are identical (or almost so) in sound to the underlying phrase, whereas 43a (which I liked), is a looser sound pun?

    • joon says:

      thanks for the kind words for our puzzle, bruce (and the nice writeup, pannonica). 17a is also a looser sound pun; ba’ath is pronounced with two syllables, as far as i can tell—and it’s also a different vowel sound from our short a in “bath”. so hopefully 43a didn’t feel like the odd one out.

  6. Clay says:

    Interesting puzzles today – there are times when a crossword completely leaves me in a daze and the NYT was that today. I just couldn’t get a toehold anywhere – had to rely on external sources a lot. Looking back at it – it seems to be a nice crossword, just so far outside my knowledge base.

    As for the LAT, I absolutely killed that one – so after the NYT fiasco, I felt a lot better. I liked the theme a lot and I agree that the theme answers were not dull or contrived.

    My favorite part of crosswords, you can shake your head at one, and then have one that hits your sweet spot.

  7. Zulema says:

    I agree with Steve Manion about 1A. It joins a few other entries in previous puzzles that the editor(s) seem to be tone deaf to. And I just figured out the “name dropper” in the 24A clue is not at a party but likely writing a footnote. Duh!

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