Friday, July 18, 2014

NYT 6:01 (Amy) 
LAT 6:01 (Gareth) 
CS 10:15 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 
CHE 5:29 (Amy) 

Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 18 14, no. 0718

NY Times crossword solution, 7 18 14, no. 0718

Imagine my surprise at 1a. ["Know what I'm sayin'?," in hip-hop slang]. “YA HEARD” didn’t ring a bell (though it Googles up well enough, with website names, an Urban Dictionary definition, and T-shirts). I really wanted this answer to be “NAH MEAN?” My son says “nobody says that” about both phrases.

The other colloquial speech answers are 8a. ["Yep, alas"], “‘FRAID SO,” and 28d. ["All right already!"], ”I GET IT, OKAY?” There are those solvers who disdain such entries, but I like them as long as they’re natural and not stilted.

Did not know: 16a. [1998 N.F.L. M.V.P. Davis], TERRELL. Had to work the crossings, which were not yielding to me so swiftly. 8d. [U.S. fraud watchdog], FTC, I wanted FCC. 9d. [Breadth], REACH, I tried WIDTH and GIRTH. 10d. [___ Arena (past Kings home)], ARCO, one of those things I piece together in crosswords but have no other exposure to. 13d. [Scuzz], SLEAZEBALL, love the answer but it didn’t come to me right away. 14d. [Motherland], OLD SOD, huh—I always thought this was specifically referring to Ireland but apparently the term is more generic than that.

Other fill I liked includes OPEN BAR, GELCAPS, CACKLED, SCRUNCH, RUSSIAN MOB, BED-HOP, TEAM SPORTS, THE REBELS, Costa Rica’s SAN JOSÉ, I, ASIMOV, ST. PETER, RAP GROUPS, RODEO DRIVE, DR. SEUSS, ASTRONAUT, and DELTA HOUSE. Didn’t love AZO, ISLA, ETD, OON, OSH, or AMO and AMAT (duplication alert!). But those were not a steep price to pay for all the good stuff. 4.25 stars from me.

Updated Friday morning:

Andy Kravis and Joon Pahk’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Hung Up on Phonics”

Chronicle of Higher Education crossword solution, 7 18 14 "Hung Up on Phonics"

Chronicle of Higher Education crossword solution, 7 18 14 “Hung Up on Phonics”

It’s “Hung Up on Phonics” rather than “Hooked on Phonics” because we’ve got phonic puns relating to artists whose work is hung up in museums.

  • 17a. [Memo about museum staff putting mistletoe around Frans's "Laughing Cavalier"?], DECK THE HALS. “Deck the Halls.”
  • 24a. [Winged carrier of Paul's "Twittering Machine"?], KLEE PIGEON. Clay pigeon.
  • 34a. [Keith's tribute to Coca-Cola ads?], RED HARING. Red herring.
  • 49a. [Part of Juan's Cubist jungle scene?], GRIS MONKEY. Grease monkey. Had no idea it wasn’t pronounced “gree,” as if it were French. Have not seen Spanish Gris elsewhere.
  • 56a. [Don't make it to a retrospective of Franz's German Expressionist works?], MISS THE MARC. Never heard of Franz Marc. Here’s the Google image page. One part Chagall, one part Matisse, one part Picasso, one part Kandinsky.

Solid pun theme, probably a little too erudite for the New York Times puzzle.

Did not know: 47a. [Smetana symphonic suite whose title is Czech for "My Homeland"], MA VLAST.

Other artistic/musical/literary bits include the opera FIDELIO, the James Joyce story THE DEAD, Georges ENESCO, and Chekhov’s IVANOV.

Five excellent clues:

  • 22d. [Like Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard"], AGING.
  • 52a. [A bun may cover it], NAPE.
  • 55a. [Orb in an orbit], EYE.
  • 6d. ["___ Been to the Mountaintop" (MLK speech)], I’VE.
  • 12d. [Perilous journalistic post], WAR ZONE. Sheesh, no kidding.

19a. [Address insertions, at times] clues ERS. Is it particularly British to say “er” (and also “erm”)? I think Americans use “uh” and “um” far, far more than “er”? I think the British are pretty much saying the same thing as us, but they assume there’s an R that is barely pronounced because they’re DEVIANT that way.

Four stars from me.

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ka-Ching!”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.18.14: "Ka-Ching!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.18.14: “Ka-Ching!”

Hello everyone, and welcome to Friday! Ka-ching!!

Today’s puzzle, offered up by Mr. Raymond Hamel, makes us have to add the letters “KA” to common terms to create some puns with our theme answers. With this, now I’m wondering what letter do I usually use as the first letter to spell out the money-making sound, C or K? I think I’m in the C category instead of K. No matter.

  • KACHINA SET: (17A: [Collection of Hopi dolls?]) – From “China set.”
  • BRONX KAZOO: (64A: [Instrument not played in the New York Philharmonic?]) – From “Bronx Zoo.”  Either a kazoo has to be played during a show at the New York Philharmonic, or an animal at the Bronx Zoo should play a kazoo for show.
  • DUTCH KABOB: (11D: [Lunch on a Netherlands spit?]) – From “Dutch bob.”
  • KAYO ADRIAN: (30D: [What lovable Rocky Balboa would never do?]) – From “Yo, Adrian.” So what would not-so-lovable Rocky Balboa do?

The first thing the completed puzzle made me think about is the movie Rocky III, since there’s a reference to Rocky in one of the clues, as well as MR. T, who played Rocky’s nemesis, Clubber Lang (46D: [Costar of "The A-Team]). By the way, I’m surprised that more boxers hadn’t/haven’t acquired the nickname “Clubber” after watching the movie. It just sounds awesome. Another thing that was awesome was seeing EASY-A in the grid (52D: [Unchallenging course]) along with seeing what one’s report card would look like if a student took all easy classes, AAAA (22D: [Extremely narrow, as a shoe]). I watched enough Dudley Do-Right in my lifetime, but for the life of me, I can’t put NELL into my longterm memory and it always throws me for a little bit of a loop when seeing that clue (36D: [Dudley Do-Right's love]). Best answer for me in the grid was RED TAPE (51A: [Bureaucratic nightmare]), and the one answer that will make me think too much of something that I shouldn’t need to think about is CYAN, as now all I can think about are colors mentioned in ink cartridges for printers (66A: [Blue-green shade]). I’m probably going to say “magenta” out loud at least once before this day is over, I bet.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PABLO (53D: [Two-time baseball All-Star Sandoval])- Pablo Sandoval is the fun-loving, free-swinging starting third baseman for the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Because of his great relationship with the San Francisco fan base, Sandoval, like many other players on the Giants, has acquired a nickname, Kung-Fu Panda. His nickname is such because he, despite sporting a rotund figure, is very spry and athletic for his size. Sandoval has won two World Series titles with the Giants (2010, 2012), and in the 2012 World Series, Sandoval set a record for hitting a home run in each of his first three at-bats during Game 1 of the Fall Classic against the Detroit Tigers. Sandoval, largely because of that performance, ended up winning the 2012 World Series Most Valuable Player award.

On to the weekend!  Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you on Saturday!

Take care!

AOK

Robin Stears’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140718

LA Times
140718

Today’s puzzle’s theme was opaque to me until about 5 seconds post-solve. You need to stare at SWITCHHIT until it becomes SWITCH H/IT – H is changed to IT in four theme answers. It’s a clever concept, but it didn’t really make for great theme answers IMO: [Imp who annoys the webmaster?], SITEDEVIL; [Security group at a protest?], SITINGUARDS; [Quote from "Guerrilla Warfare"?], CITEGUEVARA; [Improved Gemini missile?], BETTERTITAN. The problem with answers like CITEGUEVARA is the second part remains, so the new answer feels basically the same…

Due partly to the central 11, this puzzle has big corners, and Robin has paid a lot of attention to them: SUGARPEA, DIMSUM and LOISLANE are all good up in the top-right, and they come only at the expense of DESAC. The opposite corner is more prosaic: CHATROOM is cutely quaint (I’m sure they still exist…), unlike the ETRUSCANS! OCA gets a high-falutin’ classical music clue, which is probably better than the tuber route! I didn’t know what ROBERTS referred to – apparently there is a 1955 film called “Mister Roberts”.

The one weak spot is surprisingly the constricted bottom middle: INWAR, IANS, SRTA, INT, TSA ; the only full word to be seen is STASIS!

2.5 Stars
Gareth

Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Catching Some Sun” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/18/14 • "Catching Some Sun" • Fri • Long, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 7/18/14 • “Catching Some Sun” • Fri • Long, Shenk • solution

My retroblogging adventure continues, as I write this on Monday the 21st.

The revealer lurks at the beginning of Row 21: 126a [Shade from the sun that's inserted in this puzzle's theme answers] TAN.

  • 23a. [Kudrow, making a home in Missoula?] MON(TAN)A LISA.
  • 35a. [Snake that's failing utterly?] (TAN)KING COBRA.
  • 49a. [Caning material that's fallen on the floor?] DIRTY RAT(TAN).
  • 69a. [Yellow songbird?] GOLDEN (TAN)AGER. A possible joke about the now-infamous 15-letter (convenient for spanning daily grids) SCARLET TANAGER. However, the GOLDEN TANAGER (Tangara arthus) is also an extant species, which undermines this entry more than somewhat. In case you’re curious, the other bird’s scientific binomial is Piranga olivacea. The specific epithet “(‘… olive-colored …’) was based on a female or immature specimen,” but according to the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, unless there is a really, really good reason the oldest issued name takes precedence, so the latterly proposed P. erythromelas (“red-and-black”) remains no more than a junior synonym. (in part from Wikipedia)
  • 86a. [Dressy shoes worn by highland lasses?] TAR(TAN) HEELS.
  • 105a. [Amazing plant?] BO(TAN)Y WONDER.
  • 117a. [Bonzo in the ballroom?] (TAN)GOING APE.

tangara_arthusAppreciated the mobility of the trigram among the theme answers. The original phrases are all solid, and the post-op ones are no slouches, either.

[Addendum: 17d [Affected folks] POSERS. I don’t care for this spelling for this definition. 1poser : a puzzling or baffling question; 2poser : one who poses, which links to this entry for the verb pose … (transitive verb) 1 a : to set forth or offer for attention or consideration, b : to come to attention as : present, 2 a : to put or set in place, b : to place (as a model) in a studied attitude, (intransitive verb) 1 : to assume a posture or attitude usually for artistic purposes, 2 : to affect an attitude or character usually to deceive or impress. On the other hand, there’s no confusion when it comes to poseur: :  a person who pretends to be what he or she is not :  an affected or insincere person. (all from m-w.com)]

The rest of the grid is populated with smooth fill nearly throughout. Enjoyed the midlength fill including DEAD-TREE, ACID HEAD, DASTARD, HOT TO TROT, BACK NINE, ILL AT EASE, and CELTIC SEA. Cute crossing of the cross-referenced 40d and 45a for the [ … 2005 neo-noir movie] SIN CITY; the long-anticipated sequel will be released later this summer.

Good, varied cluing as well. Easy stuff, tricky stuff, interesting trivia. That sort of mix.

Good crossword.

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14 Responses to Friday, July 18, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    In the late ’70s and early ’80s, I worked on political campaigns for several blacks in Buffalo who were running for judgeships. I remember one of my co-workers mentioning that she had just heard the word “fresh” and indicating that it was destined to become part of urban slang. I think that was a high point for me as far as being in on the ground floor of the latest inner city lingo. I can’t recall ever hearing YA HEARD. I knew Public Enemy was a RAP something, but did not know what. GROUP seems obvious with hindsight.

    The NE (TERRELL, COSTAS, DELTA HOUSE) was very easy, but the rest of the puzzle was tough. For the sports phobic, Terrell Davis was a great running back for Denver, although many think that he benefited greatly from Denver’s offensive line of that era and that any quality back could have achieved similar results. I thought about him a year ago in connection with the NFL’s focus on concussions. Davis suffered from severe migraines and I wondered if there was any connection between migraines and concussions.

    Excellent challenge for me.

    Steve

  2. Davis says:

    I had similarly never heard of ARCO prior to my moving to the West Coast. They’re really common out here–consistently the cheapest place to get gas, but you can only pay with cash or debit card (no credit card).

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: SAVALAS, ASIMOV and AKIHITO discussing the latest shenanigans of the RUSSIAN MOB, especially that BED HOPping SLEAZEBALL NUTCASE in charge, SCRUNCHING their faces in disgust: YA HEARD? FRAID SO…

    How did I live this life without knowing BORAGE? It turns out it’s not nearly as dull looking as the name suggests.

    • Gareth says:

      Growing up, the BORAGE in my mother’s herb garden could almost never flourish because the family dog, Richard, would consume it with gusto… Not sure why, but he was a most singular animal.

  4. CY Hollander says:

    Bottom left of the NYT killed me. Not knowing BORAGE, AKIHITO, SAVALAS, GILA, or who Stubb and Flask were, made it almost impossible for me to finish.

    I say “almost” because maybe a more skilled cruciverbalist in my place could have found his way home with vague memories (I had AKIHITO and SAVeLAS at one point, so perhaps the names were floating around in my subconscious) and educated guesswork . I didn’t. The nail in my coffin was convincing myself that the IOWA was the most plausible guess for a river to the Colorado.

    • Slowpoke Rodriguez says:

      I’m in your boat. I battled my way through at a confident but metered pace until the SW, and I had the advantage of knowing Gila! Akihito and Savalas are the types of vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant names where even if they ring a bell, I’m not confident in any of the middle letters.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        Luckily I knew a guy near the Gila who looked like Savalas, carried around Moby Dick in his backpack which had decals of Akihito and had to constantly use eye baths to rid himself of a recurring stye which he attributed to borage else I’d of been in the same shoes as you guys.

        (Sent from my inamespad)

  5. ArtLvr says:

    re NYT – “Collective noun” is probably not a theme in the usual way, but when you have a TEAM, a MOB and a GROUP, you might tack on the HOUSE (a theater audience on any particular occasion) plus even a morning or evening DRIVE, being the commuters in vehicles who are the listening audience for a radio d.j… Any takers?

  6. Margaret says:

    It took me a loooong time to see the theme in the LAT, glad to know I’m not alone. And Gareth, if you like old B&W movies at all, you should see Mr. Roberts. Unbelievable cast and a wonderful story.

  7. Zulema says:

    First, Huda’s comment very clever. Second, enjoyed solving both the CHE and the NYT. I am still sore at last Friday’s NYT, so the more erudite the better.

  8. ahimsa says:

    NYT: My first thought for 1A was, “Ya feel me?” Which, of course, did not fit. YA HEARD is new to me (or maybe something I heard once and forgot) but I figured it out.

    I did not finish – ended up with EYEwAsH. I knew it was wrong. AHAw looked crazy as a name and SET As repeated the “as” in the clue. Yet I still never figured out EYE BATH. Now I’m off to google Stubbs and Flask to learn something new — I’m guessing they’re from a TV show? I do watch a fair amount, actually, but there are many popular shows that I’ve never even seen.

    CHE: I enjoyed this a lot even though those puns were *very* difficult for me. I know very little about art and generally have no idea how to pronounce the names even when I do. Hmm, so that means KLEE rhymes with clay, sort of? :-)

    • ahimsa says:

      Argh! Stubb and Flask are from Moby Dick!

      This is a book that I have actually read. I even remember enjoying it back in high school. For example, I still remember (not word for word) the quote about real places not being on any map.

      And yet I have no memories of these two characters. Sigh. I guess my brain is getting pretty old. And that’s why I can relate to this poem by Billy Collins – http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/26905

  9. Avg Solvr says:

    “Butter up?” for the win in the WSJ.

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