Friday, June 6, 2014

NYT 5:15 (Amy) 
LAT 6:57 (Gareth) 
CS 13:44 (Ade) 
CHE 6:18 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Kameron Austin Collins’ New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 6 14, no. 0606

NY Times crossword solution, 6 6 14, no. 0606

Add another to the ranks of under-30 constructors who lard a themeless grid with all sorts of juicy fill. Princeton grad student Collins gives us these sparkly bits:

  • 13a. [Indie rock band whose "The Suburbs" was the Grammys' 2010 Album of the Year], ARCADE FIRE.
  • 16a. [British author of the so-called "London Trilogy"], MARTIN AMIS.
  • 30a. [Language originally known as Mocha], JAVASCRIPT. I don’t like coffee. There, I said it.
  • 36a. [Tochises], HEINIES. You might be surprised to see just how many English transliterations of the Yiddish clue word there are. (See also: 63a ASS.)
  • 41a. [Exotic annual off-road race], DAKAR RALLY. Despite the name, the rally is not always in Africa (Dakar’s the capital of Senegal). This year’s winning car was … a Mini.
  • 52a. [Become dazedly inattentive], ZONE OUT. Mmm … what?
  • 57a. [Writer, director and co-star of the Madea films], TYLER PERRY.
  • 62a. [Belief in human supremacy], SPECIESISM. Come on now. We all know the rats and cockroaches will outlive us all.
  • 3d. [Rugby formation], SCRUM. Scrum!
  • 4d. [Subject of Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke"], KATRINA.
  • 9d. [Gaga contemporary], KESHA. She is no longer using the $ in place of the S.
  • 10d. [Notable Senate testifier of 1991], ANITA HILL.
  • 30d. [South African leader beginning in 2009], JACOB ZUMA. Gareth, tell us about Zuma.
  • 31d. [Reanimation after apparent death], ANABIOSIS. Never seen this word before, but I like it.

My last square was the P in SPITAL (15d. [Old-fashioned shelter along a highway]). Wha…? It’s an archaic word for a hospital, particularly one for contagious people, as well as for a wayside shelter. 17a. [Feature of a Norman Rockwell self-portrait] was not screaming PIPE to me but we don’t have a lot of other *IPE nouns to choose from.

Also did not know NARUTO (26a. [Popular Japanese manga seen on the Cartoon Network]).

LEY, R IS, IF A, OPE, and REE didn’t make me fond of the puzzle, but they didn’t need to since so much other fill had already won me over.

4.25 stars from me.

Seth Geltman and Jeff Chen’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Circum-Specked” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 6/6/14 • "Circum-Specked" • Geltman, Chen • solution

CHE • 6/6/14 • “Circum-Specked” • Geltman, Chen • solution

And so the Brad Wilber era begins in the land of CHE; belated kudos to Jeffrey Harris for his strong tenure of editorship.

Okay. A 15×16 grid, more or less dictated by the need for the 14-letter revealer upon which the endeavor is predicated.

15-down. [Random scrambling of particles in suspension … or a hint to answering the starred clues] BROWNIAN MOTION. PHYSICS! (7a) – Yep, the CHE is pretty much the only major-ish venue where this sort of theme could get play. Wikipedia, predictably, has a solid introduction to the concept. Oh, to spell it out—the other four theme answers are rearrangements of the eight constituent letters/particles, B-R-O-W-N-I-A-N. That is, they are in motion.

  • 15a. [*Mid-procedure command from Frankenstein to Igor?] BRAIN, NOW.
  • 28a. [*One who will drink you under the stable?] BARN WINO.
  • 50a. [*Boy Wonder after a long day fighting crime?] WAN ROBIN.
  • 69a. [*Cry upon learning your door prize is a muffin basket?] I WON BRAN!

Definitely a cart-before-the-horse theme. Do any of the wacky, new phrases transcend contextual novelty? In my opinion, no, though the clue for 28-across makes a game attempt with a witty pun.

As if by way of apology—for the dubious theme, for the relative skimpiness of the active answers (32 squares), and for the grid’s deviation from ‘standard’ proportions—some robust features have been incorporated into the grid.

Each of those across theme answers is conspicuously stacked with other mid-length entries; the first and last are sandwiched between another aligned eighter and a seven-letter word, while the center two are paired with eights offset by a single square. The cohorts of the upper grid (PHYSICS, RED PANDA, GIGAWATT) are more impressive than their nether partners (INSEAMS, DONATE TO, TEETERED).

Meanwhile the other corners—the northwest and southeast—are heavy-duty blocks: 6 × 4 monsters, with appendages.

What else?

  • The longer downs in that northwest corner might prove vexing for some solvers, though the crossing fill is friendly enough. But this too comes at a price. UNRIG? The possibly esoteric bit of leaf anatomy, MIDRIB? What about [Cartoonist who created Popeye] EC SEGAR? I suspect that’ll be tough for some, especially with those two initials. It isn’t as if he’s a universally known illustrator, such as NC WYETH.
  • Points of clue contention: 2d [Well-meaning shooter of myth] EROS; uhm, no, he was downright mischievous most of the time. 62a ["Step right up …" carnival figure] BARKER; that’s a term professionals view disparagingly and if you use it they’ll know your an easy mark. The preferred term is talker.
  • Befittingly erudite quote clue: 42a ["The Man in the __" (passage in a 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech] ARENA. See also 36d, possibly 68a.
  • 34d [Joe's foe in an ’08 debate] SARAH (nice rhymes, by the way) sets up the 45a misdirect, [Gore challenger?] TORERO.
  • 9d [Puppy protest] YIP / 39a [Kisser] YAP, but I had LIP at first.
  • Favorite clue: 16a [Parts of some makeshift percussion instruments] GOURDS, even though proponents of the shekere, the güiro, the berimbau, the ipu heke and others might raise the proverbial eyebrow at the ‘makeshift’ stipulation.

Strange, off-kilter crossword.

Frank Virzi’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140606

LA Times
140606

Hmm, I guess it’s fancy to have your revealer intersect your three theme answers. As RISINGTIDES suggests, they are 3 vertical answers containing EDIT. The EDITs are all wholly contained within a single word in each answer. CREDITLINES/MANAGINGEDITORS/EXPEDITIONS is not exactly a spangly set of theme answers.

The puzzle is themeless legal, as it has 72 words. Without really interesting theme answers, one hopes for the non-themers to pick-up the slack: ANNAPOLIS, PILSNER, DANDELION, and WESTIE are nice, but not exactly “wow” answers. The short stuff mostly wasn’t that bothersome… SYST and ASSYR seem like particularly ugly abbrs. but they’re in the dict.

A bit bland, (a lot like my write-ups)
2.5 Stars
Gareth

Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Little R&R” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/6/14 • Fri • "A Little R&R" • Gale, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 6/6/14 • Fri • “A Little R&R” • Gale, Shenk • solution

Everyone wants to get a little rest and relaxation in on the weekend, right? Drop a couple of Rs into a word or phrase, see what entertaining havoc it creates.

  • 23a. [Hostile attempts to acquire competing products?] BRAND RAIDS (Band-Aids).
  • 25a. [Stream that's part of the set for a madcap play?] FARCE BROOK (facebook).
  • 38a. [Agreement between Charlotte Bronte and her publisher?] EYRE CONTRACT (eye contact).
  • 43a. [Newsreels about bird-callers?] CHIRP SHORTS (chip shots).
  • 59a. [Monument to a meathead?] MORON SHRINE (moonshine).
  • 75a. [Highway pileup that's attractively arranged?] PRETTY CRASH (petty cash).
  • 86a. [Lipizzaner in the larder?] PANTRY HORSE (panty hose).
  • 89a. [Tool used by a mason to fix a fissure?] BREACH TROWEL (beach towel).
  • 107a. [Curling and hockey?] RINK SPORTS (ink spots).
  • 110a. [Hag in Valhalla?] NORSE CRONE (nose cone).

Simple-to-understand theme, well-executed. Note that none of the originals contain any Rs, so the additions are the sole appearances in the resulting wackadoodle fill. And you know what, they aren’t too wackadoodle anyway. Deftly limned by the clues.

Where are my damn notes? Oh, here.

  • 2d/3d/94a ["Doggone it!] DARN, DRAT, NUTS.
  • Mis-fills: 28a [Overtax] STRESS before STRAIN; 78a [Sickeningly sweet] CUTESY-PIE then CUTESY-POO; 27a [Star called "the heart of the scorpion"] ANTIBES (don’t say it!), properly ANTARES; 42d [Air] TONE ere TUNE (never mind 31a [Muscle firmness] TONE.)
  • 59d [River's end] MOUTH. Which leads to 45d [Capital on the Red River] HANOI, and 84d [Capital on the Chao Phraya River] BANGKOK. (See also themer 25a)
  • Backing up a bit, we arrive at 18d [Albert or George] LAKE, a clever clue with the same construction as 4d [Paul or Alexander] SENATOR (i.e., Rand, Lamar). Do not see also George Albert or Paul Alexander.
  • Minor ickiness: 64a ["… __ saw Elba"] ERE I; 79a [Britney Spears song "__ Slave 4 U"] I’M A; 82a [IRS check: Abbr.] AUD; 48a [Pres. Cristina Kirchner's nation] ARG.
  • Little duplication: 15a [Can opener?] BAIL, and 78d [Subject to downsizing] CAN. Fun clue for the former, return to 15d [Cutting staff?] BARBERS for the latter.
  • On the subject of redundancy, Row 20 is a bit ruttish, with INTO | IN AWE | ENTER. (The unrelated TRON completes the span, though the premise of the movie is that a human programmer enters ”cyber reality.” )
  • (Whew, no shared etymology for the crossing COVES and COVEN, near the center.)
  • Some favorite clues: 66d [Member of a select crowd?] VOTER; 76d [Blue blood vessel] YACHT (more than a few, incidentally, which are named “R & R”); and of course, dead-center and spot-on, [What are you looking at?] CLUES.
  • 41d [Ice-cube-in-a-glass sound] CLINK. Oh yes, I definitely prefer CLINK to a TINKLE in that regard.
  • 16d [Singer Blacc] ALOE. Fresh clue for perennial crossword fill, though I’d never heard of this person.
  • 19a [Like some class models] BARE. Technically correct, but the usual adjective in this context is NUDE. I might clue BARE as [Like Lady Godiva, famously] which has an allusive dimension of riding bareback.
  • One last nifty pairing: 57d [Put up] ERECT, 95a [Crane constructions] NESTS.

Very solid, enjoyable puzzle.

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.06.14: "Krypton Kin"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.06.14: “Krypton Kin”

Happy Friday everybody!

This puzzle, by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is definitely a gas. Each of the first three theme answers are phrases with types of gases hidden in the answer, with the fourth theme, INERT GASES (62A: [Nonreactive elements, and what are hidden in the answers to 17-, 26, and 47-Across]) as the reveal.

  • TOO FAR GONE: (17A: [Beyond the point of no return) Love this answer, though it does remind me now that I probably use this phrase a little too much in regular conversation! (Hidden element: Argon.)
  • COLORADO NINE: (26A: [The Rockies, notably]) – That’s a pretty tough clue for someone that’s not in tune with their sports and needs to rely on crosses to suss this one out. (Hidden element: Radon.)
  • GOES ONE ON ONE: (44A: [Drives to the basket, perhaps]) – Another sports toughie, but, in my opinion, not as tough as the “Rockies” clue since I don’t think you can think of this clue in any other context other than sports, specifically basketball. (Hidden element: Neon.)

Speaking of sports clues, one of the best entries happens to come with a sports clue, RINGSIDE (39D: [Great seats at a boxing match]). Having sat ringside for boxing matches before (and actually helping to set up a boxing ring in our high school gymnasium for the Golden Gloves years back), I can attest to the fact that it’s one of the best seats you can ever have in sports…well, if you can stand watching two grown men trying to knock each other’s heads off. Thank goodness for the down clues in the top middle of the grid, or UMEKI (5A: [Miyoshi _____, Best Supporting Actress winner for "Sayonara"]) and NEGEV (15A: [Region in southern Israel]) would have been lost causes! With this puzzle HEAVY with sports clues, I kind of knew that CITI was the answer needed in one particular clue (35A: [____ Field]), but the number of answers that could be put in for the clue are almost endless. But once a couple of letters were in place, then it was a pretty easy one to fill in.

One of the things I need to do this summer is catch up on the many, MANY good shows that I’m missing out on because of me not being a subscriber to HBO, Showtime, Netflix, etc., and now I’ll know one of the characters to look out for when I’m watching these shows: ARNOLD (18D: ["Boardwalk Empire" gangster Rothstein]). And this summer, I’m sure to continue my dieting, but it won’t be on the ATKINS plan, however (28D: [Big name in diets]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SHAG (32D: [Chase down, as fly balls])- There’s many definitions to the word SHAG, especially one that Austin Powers wouldn’t mind sharing with you with glee, but am not sure how this word was used to describe running down batted fly balls in baseball, usually in a non-competitive, leisurely manner. But pitfalls have happened during what should be a leisurely game of catch, and as recently as 2012, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, one of the best pitchers ever in Major League Baseball, tore his ACL when shagging a fly ball during batting practice before a game in Kansas City. Thankfully for Yankees fans, he recovered and had a very successful season in 2013, his last season in the majors.

Thank you for your time and your patience, and will see you on Saturday! Take care!

AOK

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19 Responses to Friday, June 6, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    Very hard for me. The P in Spital was also my last letter. I put in DAKAR TO____ and couldn’t think of a three letter city in Africa.

    I just mentioned to someone that the the last three times I was in a Starbucks I ordered a CHAI TEA, but that didn’t help me in seeing that answer for quite a while.

    All in all, it was a very hard puzzle for me.

    Steve

  2. john farmer says:

    The puzzle had me at ARCADE FIRE and though there were a few things I hadn’t heard of before, I really enjoyed the solve. Seeing ACS was amusing while watching the Heat lose to the heat in AC-less San Antonio.

    Not sure I’d agree with what Wikipedia calls the “best-known” novels of MARTIN AMIS, but a trivial thought about the clue at 16A. Does the use of “so-called” negate the need for the quotation marks or does a trilogy name need them anyway? (Yes: trivial!)

    So, Steve, California Chrome tomorrow?

  3. Martin says:

    Congrats on your first NYT puzzle Kameron. An interesting mix of words in which I found the top half much more difficult than the bottom. Also, I’m ashamed to say that it took me a while to get KATRINA. All round, a pretty hard Friday puzzle IMO. 1-Down was nasty! ;)

    Now, a change of subject (if you’ll permit me), but we have a very interesting and notorious crossword anniversary being commemorated at this site:

    http://www.chem.umn.edu/groups/baranygp/puzzles/covertoperations/

    Without giving too much away, there is a clever crossword that honours one of the few times we know of that a crossword constructor had a serious run-in with the so called intelligence community. The puzzle and the write up will explain all.

    -MAS

    • pannonica says:

      That enjoyable crossword was far from a Mickey Mouse exercise. Can’t figure out the secret meaning of having the Across Lite timer start at 35 minutes, though. Favorite clue: 59-across.

  4. Matt says:

    Upper right quad stumped me– had to look up ANITAHILL. Got the rest, ‘tho it was quite knotty.

  5. Gareth says:

    I voted ANC in 2009, but I won’t do so again until he leaves! Constitutionally he must do so in 2019. Surprised they didn’t go with the four wives angle, as I thought that was his claim to fame internationally. Really appreciated all the great, fresh entries this grid was studded with! Don’t know MARTINAMIS’ London trilogy, only Edward Rutherford’s London, which is one novel, but is Micheneresque and may as well have been 3! I was surprised to meet MHP at the end because I didn’t believe SPITAL and FIVEK could be right. I twigged afterward that it was FIVE K!

  6. sbmanion says:

    I am hoping for the triple crown in spite of the fact that Spectacular Bid, Big Brown, and Alysheba were three great racehorses among the 12 recent horses who lost the Belmont after winning the first two.

    I am putting California Chrome on top and boxing Tonalist, Ride on Curlin and Wicked Strong for second and third. They will probably be the four chalks with California Chrome going off at 2-5 (bet 5 to win 2).

    Steve

  7. Victor Barocas says:

    NYT was a struggle from start to finish, which is exactly what it should be. Only SPITAL felt forced. Everywhere I turned, it felt like I needed all but one or two letters before I could get things, but it never felt unfair. Reminds me a bit of some of Joon’s puzzles in that regard. One of my favorite Fridays in a while.

    • Very inspiring obituary of the father of Jeff Chen’s co-constructor on the ingenious Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle. I can only speculate on how Sydney inspired Seth, in physics as well as in the cruciverbal arts. Albert Einstein published an explanation of Brownian motion in 1905, same year as he reported on his theory of special relativity.

  8. Brucenm says:

    The wsj is one of the most amazing themes I have ever seen.

  9. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT was a quiz in a box. Doesn’t Mr. Shortz have better puzzles to publish?

  10. ahimsa says:

    NYT: I liked it. I filled in ANITA HILL off the L in LAS so that area was not too bad in spite of not knowing SPITAL. But like many themeless it was still a bit too hard for me. I had to reveal NARUTO before I could finish the middle section.

    The phrase CHAI TEA always sounds so odd to me. The Starbucks person who named that drink must be from the “Department of Redundancy Department.” Masala chai would have made sense. But chai already means tea.

    I also enjoyed the CS and LAT. I’m not sure I’ll get to any other crosswords but thanks for the link, MAS!

  11. Martin says:

    The last time I checked a crossword was essentially a “quiz in a box”. Maybe we should ask Will for circular or oblong-shaped grids in future?

    -MAS

  12. Ari says:

    I’m utterly confused why pickup line? is RAMS. I had written RAMP as in line to pick up a freeway (grasping at straws?) but figured the overseas agitation had to be STURM. On a dictionary search, a ram is a type of ship, which would work with line, but pickup? Says it is a warship used for ramming enemy vessels. Help?

  13. Ari says:

    Oh sheesh. Now I feel silly. Oddly enough, about a year ago I worked on a Ram commercial. We weren’t allowed to call it dodge ram because the two had been split. Thanks!

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