Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LAT 3:12 (Amy) 
NYT 2:51 (Amy) 
Jonesin' 3:22 (Amy) 
CS 9:13 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 20 14, no. 0520

NY Times crossword solution, 5 20 14, no. 0520

Straightforward early-week theme, with a word hidden within the theme answers:

  • 17a. [Informal eateries with Mexican fare], TACO STANDS.
  • 23a. [Blue-turfed home for Boise State football], BRONCO STADIUM. Too bad that isn’t the name of anywhere an NFL team has played—Boise State is much less a household name than the Denver Broncos.
  • 35a. [Beef cuts named for a New York restaurateur], DELMONICO STEAKS.
  • 49a. [Service site with a star], TEXACO STATION.
  • 59a. [Unexpected expense ... or a feature of 17-, 23-, 35- and 49-Across?], HIDDEN COST. CO at the end of word 1, ST at the start of word 2.

No humor in that theme, just a letter pattern. I’m still high on last Sunday when more than one puzzle had an entertaining theme.

Highlights:

  • montremes38d. [Short playerwise, as in hockey], A MAN DOWN. Also a term in soccer, not just when the other hockey team is on a power play. See also: ON ICE (36d. [Cooling, as champagne]), which is where the Chicago Blackhawks play. And A LOSS (50d. [Thrown for ___]), such as the one the L.A. Kings suffered Sunday at the hands of the Hawks. The teams’ next DUST-UP (12d. [Minor melee]) is AT HOME  (13d. [Opposite of away]) for the Hawks. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Rangers face the HABs (59d. Montreal Canadien, familiarly]). The OTTAWA Senators did not make the playoffs. I suspect Peter Collins is a hockey fan. The HIDDEN COST of hockey is missing teeth.
  • 3d. [Platypus feature], DUCKBILL. Have you ever seen baby platypuses?

A bit of Scowl-o-Meter action as I peruse the fill—you’ve got your AMAS and OTOE, ILE and CES, your opposing ATs in the corners (AT HOME and AT-BATS).

3.5 stars. Largely a solid puzzle.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle, “Fusion Cuisine”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation 5/20

Crossword Nation 5/20

As is my wont on occasion, I solved this puzzle without looking first at its title. And what a good time I was rewarded with. By the time I finished, I’d concluded that the title would have the word “mash-ups” in it. Well. Close (sorta..), but definitely no cigar. The real point I want to make about my experience, though, is that this puzzle exemplified what it feels like for a puzzle to be entertaining and ALIVE [Vivacious]. This one goes the distance in my book—which may differ from yours—but for my money, the theme, its execution, the non-theme fill, the cluing are all top-notch. Not to mention the actual “laugh-out-loud” moments, particularly where that theme fill is concerned.

A lot of fusion cuisine is uber-trendy–”Pacific rim,” say; some more “down home,” like Tex-Mex. Most of it is really tasty, and a great way to experience a culinary cultural-crossover. Liz’s imaginative themers are strictly for those with the most adventurous palates. Each is essentially a portmanteau, blending the last syllable of a food from one ethnicity with the first syllable (or sound) of a food from another. For your consideration, then, today’s menu:

  • 17A. GUMBORSCHT [Cajun version of a Russian soup?]. Considering that gum borscht sounds particularly unappealing, I think I’ll pass on this one. Then again, if it’s beet-flavored gum….. But in all seriousness, one could probably do worse than to have borscht with gumbo seasonings and ingredients mixed in. Or vice-versa.
  • 28A. TEMPURAVIOLI [Japanese version of an Italian pasta dish?]. Again—not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Stranger things than ravioli get the tempura treatment (battered and deep-fried) all the time!
  • 48A. CHALUPAD THAI [Mexican version of an Asian noodle dish?]. If the thin and crusty chalupa can hold the pad thai noodles and fixin’s, who am I to say nay?
  • 64A. MOO SHUMMUS [Chinese version of a Middle Eastern dip?]. This one gave me the biggest laugh (with gumborscht running a close second). And again—still not out of the realm of possibility. You simply smear some hummus on that pancake before adding the moo shu pork or chicken or veggies et voilà! A star is born! After all, if folks enjoy “fusion potables” like Jell-O SHOTS, why not?

And there’s a sweet “dessert” bonus fill as well, by way of the THICK and GOOEY reflecting-pair in the far SW and NE. The former is clued to describe something [Like a rich milkshake], the latter [Like freshly-made S'mores]. To which I say, “YUMMY!”

tattooAdditionally, I say, “Bravi!” to WEB APPS and STAMMER, IN SEASON and FIVE SPOT, TATTOOS and PANAMAS—and their clues. Looking at two of them, from the woman who is a skilled cross-stitcher, we get the non-cross-stitch-referencing but likewise needle-based [Art made with pinpoint accuracy?] for tattoos; and then [Wide-brimmed hats] for Panamas. Now, that’s exactly what they are, of course, but this was one of those combos that brought back memories of how I’d learned the word. Anyone else know/remember the 1959 novelty song “Pink Shoe Laces”? It was sung by a 13-year-old Dodie Stevens (neé Geraldine Pasquale…) and written, as I learned only when I created this post, by an 18-year-old Micki Grant. She of Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope and Your Arms Too Short to Box with God fame. Among many others. Most surprising lyrics in that silly song? The somewhat prescient, “Now Dooley had a feelin’ we were goin’ to war…” (we were in Vietnam at the time, though not engaged in war itself), and the kinda morbid “Now one day Dooley started feelin’ sick, And he decided that he better make his will out quick…” Ah, well, let us not forget this Dooley is the same guy who takes his gal “deep-sea fishin’ in a submarine.” “HUH?”

Did any of the clue/fill combos make you go, “Huh?” I confess I had a couple of did-not-really-knows (but was able to infer) by way of [Love of art objects] and VIRTU, and [Milwaukee Symphony conductor EDO de Waart]. Then there were the tricky wordplay combos: [Fathoms] for GRASPS, where “fathoms” is a verb and not a noun for certain nautical measures; [Cash back?] for -IER and [Quarter back?] for -MASTER. We’ve got compound wordplay in action with these two “back” combos. While neither is directly about receiving change in a transaction, the former is money-related, referring to the person who handles money; the latter, which sounds like it might be money-related is actually tied into a military position. Oh—and that Fitzgerald at 50A. is Scott, not Ella, making the correct fill there The Last TYCOON. Ella did cut a version of “At Last,” but that’s another story!

And with that: cheers, all—and hope you had as much fun with this one as much as I did!

"Ooh-ooh, Ooh, Ooh..."

“Ooh-ooh, Ooh, Ooh…”

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “E-Puzzle”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.20.14: "E-Puzzle"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.20.14: “E-Puzzle”

Good morning everyone!

After completing today’s puzzle by Ms. Lynn Lempel, I definitely came away feeling that this grid was WHERE IT’S AT (28D: [The “in” place]). In this puzzle, common phrases are given an entirely different meaning by adding an “E” somewhere within the entry.

  • EGO GETTER: (17A: [One overcoming low self-esteem]) – Go-getter.
  • LAWS OF EMOTION: (26A: [“Don’t cry,” “Control your anger,” etc.?]) – Laws of Motion. For every emotion there’s an equal and opposite emotion.
  • ESTATE CAPITAL: (47A: [Revenue for Biltmore or Downtown Abbey]) – State capital.
  • HEAT EVENT: (62A: [Big game in Miami?]) – Heat vent. There’s a big Heat event tonight, as the Miami Heat are playing in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. That’s professional basketball I’m talking about, for those who aren’t in the loop.

There was a whole lot of FINESSE in this puzzle for sure (57A: [Skillful maneuvering]), and what made this puzzle so good for me are some of the fun and lively non-theme answers – and some of the cluing. Best answer, by far, is ME FIRST (20A: [Please, please, I wanna start”]), with WHERE IT’S AT a close second. You don’t see or hear SEA GOD too much, or if at all, but I think it looks good in a grid (33A: [Poseidon, for one]). The plural of “sty” threw me for a little loop, but PIG STIES ended up being not too much of a problem (9D: [Many teenagers’ rooms, jokingly]). But I did initially fill in, for some reason, BED STIES instead, which made the northeast a hard to get through until I identified the mistake. Only real questionable spot of the grid is having both IFS (37A: [Hypotheticals]) and IF EVER (50D: [Should it happen that]) in the same grid. Not too much of a problem since I ended up not noticing it immediately and having so much fun with the solving.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PADRE (9A: [Former title for Pope Francis)- From the “strange, but true” department: no San Diego Padre pitcher has ever thrown a no-hitter since the team’s inception in 1969, thus making the San Diego Padres the only current franchise in Major League Baseball never to have a pitcher(s) throw a no-hitter. At this time two years ago, there was a second team on that dubious list, the New York Mets, but Johan Santana hurled a no-no for the Mets against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1, 2012.

To boot, no San Diego Padre has ever hit for the cycle in franchise history, either (a single, double, triple and home run by the same player in the same game). Only the Florida/Miami Marlins join the Padres on that list. Hmmmm. All of this sounds like an enterprise story I should work on for my own web site!

Here’s hoping there’s just as much liveliness and fun for Wednesday’s offering as there was today. Thanks for your time and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!

AOK

Jeff Chen's Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 20 14

LA Times crossword solution, 5 20 14

Here’s the rare theme that both mandates a pangram and encourages humming:

  • 20a. ["Twinkle, twinkle, little star"], ABCDEFG.
  • 28a. ["How I wonder what you are"], HIJKLMNOP. Note that LMNOP squishes into just three syllables in “Twinkle.”
  • 36a. ["Up above the ..."], QRS.
  • 41a. ["... world so high"], TUV.
  • 44a. ["Like a diamond in the sky"], WXY AND Z.
  • 58a. [Ditty sharing a melody with "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"], THE ALPHABET SONG.

Usually a word like JINX is stuffed into an isolated corner of a grid to introduce some uncommon letters into a puzzle. Here, it necessarily connects two swaths of the alphabet.

Five more things:

  • The fill is quite good. When the only entry that made me frown even a little is I BEG YOU (wondering if it was excellent or lame), I’m a happy camper.
  • 34d. [Frozen fruit-juice treats], OTTER POPS. They don’t sell those around these parts much, even though they’re manufactured in Chicagoland. This is Fla-Vor-Ice territory. (“Ingredients: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, contains 2% or less of the following: Apple and Pear Juice from Concentrate, Citric Acid, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (preservatives), Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1.” Yum?)
  • 66a. [Gumption], MOXIE. This is a wonderful word.
  • 17a. ["Hamlet" woman at whose grave Gertrude says "Sweets to the sweet"], OPHELIA. Nice literary clue.
  • 40d. [200-lap race, briefly], INDY. So each lap is 2.5 miles? That is a big oval. The Indy 500 is this Sunday, people.

4.5 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Make It Rain”

Jonesin' crossword answers, "Make It Rain" 5 20 14

Jonesin’ crossword answers, “Make It Rain” 5 20 14

In this puzzle, the raindrops keep falling:

  • 3d. [Reason cosmetology is a no-go?], BEAUTY SCHOOL OUT. “Beauty School Dropout” is a song from Grease, and the DROP has fallen down like rain.
  • 5d. [Where sand and plastic shovels go?], IN THE BUCKET. “Drop in the bucket.”
  • 24d. [The two things tires do best?], STOP AND ROLL. Yep, those are things tires do. “Stop, drop, and roll.”
  • 11d. [Party in New York City?], TIMES SQUARE BALL. New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square.
  • 64a. [Where everything from the theme answers collects], PUDDLE. Hey, Matt: Have you ever listened to any Ralph’s World songs with your kids? I always did like “Puddle of Mud,” which you can listen to here.

Once you get out of the rain, you can get busy doing all sorts of other things: STUDY HARD. SHARE A BED. STAY PUT. WHEEDLE. DRUGS.

Three more things:

  • 36d. [Horse-drawn vehicles, despite their name], DOGCARTS. Not familiar with these. There was a box under the seat for “sportsmen’s” dogs.
  • 25d. ["Harold and ___"], MAUDE. Made me want to see a Harold and Maude Go to White Castle” sequel.
  • 12d. [Get better in barrels, AGE? I make time to do that every year.

Four stars. I liked the way the theme worked, and the fill did not alienate me.

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9 Responses to Tuesday, May 20, 2014

  1. tom says:

    platypi? 8^)

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Hats off to Jeff Chen for the great Alphabet Song puzzle! How did he figure out the grid symmetry with vertical axis down the center, etc.? And I enjoyed the unfamiliar Otterpops along with short flight Hop and the New Year’s Eve popper, Cork. At the end I couldn’t remember if Spacek was Cissy or Sissy, but guessed right!

  3. ENABLER says:

    Obvious, but still bearing mention, the clues and entries of the LAT are consistent as far as the meter of the song goes. And of course, I would never expect a Chicago denizen to mention the Islanders!!!

    ARTISTS
    JEANARP
    was nice too.

  4. Gareth says:

    Jeff’s puzzle was fantastic!

Comments are closed.