Sabtu, 31 Juli 2010

SATURDAY, July 31, 2010 Timothy L. Meaker

Theme: None

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that y'all had trouble with this one. It was hard, right?? I sort of picked and poked my way through most of it and then only had the northeast corner left but it wasn't budging. I set it down for a while — played a little sporcle, read some blogs — and when I went back to it everything fell right into place. That's so cool how that happens.

The biggest problem I had in the northeast is that I assumed 5A: Census bureau, essentially was some kind of COUNTER (I had the TER in place). Makes sense, right? That only left three letters up front though, and MAN COUNTER seemed a little … off. Also, with the ORS in place I wanted FLEXORS for a while instead of TENSORS (7D: Stretching muscles). I was flailing around in the dark is what I'm saying.

Overall, I'd say there's nothing super sparkly about this grid, except maybe SCHOOLMARM, WIND TUNNEL, and MOJO (53A: Old-time educator / 18A: Aerodynamics research tool / 58A: Mystical amulet), and it includes an awful lot of three-letter "words," but nothing jumped out at me as blatantly horrible and when it was all said and done I felt like I'd had an actual workout. And that's a good thing!

Several people tripped me up today. Most of whom I'd never heard of.
  • 15A: Artist Bonheur (ROSA). Ringing vague, vague bells.
  • 17A: Harpsichordist Kipnis (IGOR). Or maybe those aren't bells, maybe it's a harpsichord. (Seriously? Harpsichordist?)
  • 44A: "Samson Agonistes" dramatist (MILTON). Obviously, I've heard of Milton, but the work title didn't do anything for me.
  • 49A: Actress Van Devere (TRISH). No bells (or harpsichords) none.
  • 51A: Beaumont, Texas, university (LAMAR). Again, back in the cobwebs somewhere.
  • 44D: "Animal magnetism" coiner (MESMER). Never heard of him, but now that I've read a little about him that seems awfully weird.
  • 22A: Servers with wheels (TEA WAGONS). Of course, I wanted this to be CARHOPS.
  • 41A: Hands and feet (MEASURES). Great clue. Reminded me of The Beekeeper's Apprentice (great book!), which I just finished. The characters in that book often talk about weight in terms of "stones."
  • 46A: White Sands and others (TEST SITES). I first entered MONUMENTS, which maybe doesn't make any sense to a lot of you — I used to live very near White Sands and was surprised to learn that it is, in fact, a "monument." Obviously not the kind of monument that word generally evokes for me. Or maybe you all knew that already.
  • 59A: Where to find waiters (TRAIN DEPOT). Another great clue.
  • 2D: Subject of Joshua Kendall's "The Man Who Made Lists" (ROGET). I haven't heard of this book (is it a book? ... yep) but with a couple crosses in place, the answer became clear.
  • 11D: Judgment for insufficient evidence (NONSUIT). I thought this was going to be something in Latin.
  • 40D: Elvis sighting, e.g. (FACTOID). I recently read something about how the word FACTOID doesn't mean what people usually think it means. That is, it means (basically) "unverified fact" and not "little fact." (I like what this site has to say about the confusion.)
  • 48D: Man of letters? (SAJAK). Did anyone else try SUPER here? Whenever I see a question-mark clue with the word "letters" in it, I assume the answer is going to be something about renting (letting).
  • 53D: Houston in NYC, et al. (STS.). Another great clue. And one of my favorite streets in New York. Not that I've ever spent any time there, but I love how it's pronounced.
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Everything Else — 1A: Not clear-cut (GRAY); 16A: Sight from Sydney Harbour (OPERA HOUSE); 19A: Cares for (TENDS); 21A: Beginnings (SEEDS); 25A: Co. whose largest hub is at O'Hare (UAL); 28A: Shooting sound (REPORT); 29A: Items in a nautical table (TIDES); 31A: Pub employees (BARMAIDS); 34A: Show-off (HOT DOG); 35A: Land in un lac (ILE); 36A: Lo-__ graphics (RES); 37A: Vigor (PEP); 38A: Suffix with string (-ENT); 39A: Took off (DOFFED); 43A: Wind threat (SHEAR); 45A: Indirect route (ARC); 60A: Replacement for those left out (ET AL.); 61A: Weathers the struggle (SOLDIERS ON); 62A: Rink fake (DEKE); 1D: Abrasive bits (GRIT); 3D: In unison (AS ONE); 4D: Spar part (YARDARM); 5D: Stock page name (DOW); 6D: Bee: Pref. (API-); 8D: Hot-blooded (ARDENT); 9D: "Gremlins" actress (CATES); 10D: Former Israeli prime minister Olmert (EHUD); 12D: Napa vessel (TUN); 13D: Capt.'s heading (ESE); 14D: Family mem. (REL.); 20D: Oath taker (SWEARER); 23D: On foot, in France (À PIED); 24D: Jupiter and Mars (GODS); 26D: Scary snake (ADDER); 27D: Freetown currency (LEONE); 29D: Nursery purchase (TOPSOIL); 30D: York and Snorkel: Abbr. (SGTS.); 31D: Orders (BIDS); 32D: Welcoming word (ALOHA); 33D: Direct (REFER); 34D: Qualifying races (HEATS); 37D: Bombard (PELT); 41D: Accidents (MISHAPS); 42D: Not tractable (UNTAMED); 46D: Symbol of equivalence, in math (TILDE); 47D: Fake feelings (EMOTE); 50D: Noodle __: old product name (RONI); 52D: Part (ROLE); 54D: Zagreb's land, to the IOC (CRO); 55D: Holbrook of "Evening Shade" (HAL); 56D: Eeyore pal (ROO); 57D: K2, for one: Abbr. (MTN.).

Jumat, 30 Juli 2010

FRIDAY, July 30, 2010Ron and Nancy Byron

Theme: Brrrrrr! — Familiar phrases that start with a B are changed to start with BR, creating new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Short-lived agitation? (BRIEF STEW). [beef stew]
  • 24A: Government security for the blind? (BRAILLE BOND). [bail bond]
  • 34A: Places to buy orthopedic products? (BRACE STATIONS). [base station]
  • 50A: Reserved section for an eight-time stolen base champ? (BROCK'S SEATS). [box seats]
  • 56A: Place with thugs in tents? (BRUTE CAMP). [boot camp]
Tough one again today. I'm liking that we have to work a little harder on this puzzle than we're used to. It reminds me of the good old days. This theme really kept me hopping today. It took me a while to figure it out and even after puzzling out the first theme answer to the point where I understood what was going on, I had to really think to get the rest of the theme answers. I was very happy to see that every theme answer required a change in spelling from the base phrase to the resulting phrase. It seems like we've been seeing inconsistencies with that lately and I really didn't feel like ranting about that today. Let's get right to it:

  • 16A: Qatar University city (DOHA). I recently learned how to pronounce "Qatar" and it isn't what I expected. (From what I understand it's pronounced a lot like "cutter" except the stress on each syllable is pretty much equal.)
  • 17A: Cold (ALGID). The data base indicates that this word has been used in the major puzzles six times since 1999. Frankly, I don't think that's a good enough reason to keep using it.
  • 22A: Una y __ vez: time and time again (OTRA). Spanish!
  • 26A: Rahm Emanuel's talent agent brother (ARI). I actually went to the same college as Ari Emanuel (and his roommate Peter Berg) for one year but don't remember Ari at all. Which seems impossible knowing what we know about him today.
  • 31A: "I'll have a grande decaf triple vanilla 2% __, please" (LATTE). Starbucks humor!
  • 39A: Toast opening, across the pond (ERES). I do not know what this means.
  • 41A: Stand-up guys? (NO-SHOWS). I like the trickiness of this clue. Guys who make a date with you but "stand you up" can be referred to as NO-SHOWS.
  • 46A: "Buy __ drink?": bar come-on (ME A). I'd like to see this one combined with 31A as a "coffee bar come-on": "Buy me a grande decaf triple vanilla 2% latte ... sailor?"
  • 55A: American Society of Magazine Editors annual awards (ELLIES). No idea.
  • 61A: "Hooked on Classics" record co. (K-TEL). And by "classics" they mean songs I grew up to. ::sigh::
  • 1D: Actor who was a 1932 swimming gold medalist (CRABBE). I'm sure I've heard of Buster CRABBE before, but I needed every cross today. CRABBE played Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers. Cool.
  • 2D: Former Texas team (OILERS). This is how long it's been since I've followed pro football. Me: "The Houston Oilers aren't a team any more?"
  • 4D: "Who's there?" answer (IT IS I). Nobody says this. We all know that. But it's going to keep appearing in puzzles so we should probably just try to get past it.
  • 5D: Lincoln rival (CADILLAC). Random free association video comin' right up!

  • 11D: "No time to talk now" ("GOTTA RUN"). If you've been paying any attention at all, you know I love seeing these kinds of colloquial phrases in the grid.
  • 31D: Small hair piece (LASH). Tried "lock" first. I didn't realize the clue was referring to a really small hair piece.
  • 37D: Unlike filibusters (TERSE). My first thought was "rare." That's really sad. (If you like this comic, check out the artist's website.)
  • 38D: Making out too much lately (IN A SLUMP). I like my clues tricky but there's a line and this one crossed it for me. Just a little bit too much. (For anyone who didn't quite get it, "out" in this clue refers to baseball. A baseball player who makes outs, as opposed to hits, is IN A SLUMP.)
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Everything Else — 1A: Like volcanoes (CONIC); 6A: John follower (ACTS); 10A: IRS workers (AGTS.); 14A: Item of rodeo gear (RIATA); 15A: K follower (-MART); 20A: Blues legend Smith (BESSIE); 23A: Alley prowler (TOM); 27A: Ballpark fig. (EST.); 28A: Flee (LAM); 29A: Whale's blowhole, e.g. (NOSTRIL); 33A: "Earth's Children" series author (AUEL); 40A: Bluebirds, to some (OMENS); 45A: Part of un giorno (ORA); 49A: Ring stat (TKO); 53A: Sushi selection (EEL); 54A: Vintner's prefix (OENO-); 59A: Extreme (ULTRA); 60A: Software test version (BETA); 62A: Spiteful sort (MEANY); 63A: Paradise (EDEN); 64A: '60s-'70s Japanese leader (SATO); 65A: Jimmies (PRIES); 3D: Pesters (NAGS AT); 6D: Dipl. official (AMB.); 7D: Tree pod also called the locust bean (CAROB); 8D: Neptune's largest moon (TRITON); 9D: Canned heat (STERNO); 10D: Some pop-ups (ADS); 12D: Conjectures (THEORIES); 13D: Board producer (SAWMILL); 19D: They don't last (FADS); 21D: Make ecstatic (ELATE); 25D: Initial response team, for short (EMT'S); 30D: New Mexico county or its seat (TAOS); 32D: DDE's command (ETO); 34D: Negotiated (BROKERED); 35D: Steadfast (RESOLUTE); 36D: Wildly (AMOK); 39D: 1976 raid site (ENTEBBE); 42D: Double-reed instrument (OBOE); 43D: Ruins (WRECKS); 44D: Beethoven's "Hammerklavier," e.g. (SONATA); 46D: Tiki cocktail (MAI TAI); 47D: Endless, in poems (ETERNE); 48D: Tests (ASSAYS); 51D: Under-the-sink brand (COMET); 52D: "Oklahoma!" aunt (ELLER); 57D: You might get one at the pool (TAN); 58D: Mahmoud Abbas's gp. (PLO).

Kamis, 29 Juli 2010

THURSDAY, July 29, 2010Doug Peterson and John Doppler Schiff

Theme: Strange Competitions — Familiar two-word types of competitions are clued as if the first word means something else.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Competition for witches? (SPELLING BEE).
  • 27A: Competition for entomologists? (CRICKET MATCH).
  • 43A: Competition for pastors? (STEEPLE CHASE).
  • 58A: Competition for painters? (ROLLER DERBY).
A big thanks to Rex Parker for sitting in for me yesterday. I was, um, well ... I had something personal to do. It wasn't a secret spy mission! What would make you think it was a secret spy mission?! It just some regular old thing that had nothing to do with secrets or spies or missions. Glad we got that settled.

A nice smooth Thursday puzzle this week. It skewed a little more difficult than I was expecting, but that's a good thing. The theme is clever, but I really like the fill on this one. We've got the high-brow EPIGRAM and ALLEGORY (41D: Bon mot / 37D: "The Tortoise and the Hare," for one) in the same grid with "DIBS!" and SORTA (31D: "Mine!" / 49D: To some extent, colloquially), which is fun. And the Scrabbly factor rose dramatically with ZONK OUT, WIDE AWAKE, and X'S and O'S (55A: Nod off, in slang / 33D: Not nodding / 42D: Playbook symbols). Who doesn't love seeing ZONK OUT in the grid? It's awesome!

  • 20A: Churl (PEASANT). I always thought "churl" meant more like "cad" or "rogue." Hmmm … Merriam-Webster online says "churl" is a synonym for "jerk," but the PEASANT definition comes before "rude ill-bred person" in its main entry so okay. Learn something new every day.
  • 23A: Prêt-à-porter monogram (YSL). Yves Saint Laurent.
  • 31A: Churchill __ (DOWNS). I was all proud of myself for knowing this racetrack off the top of my head and then realized it's where the Kentucky Derby is run, so probably everyone else knew it right away too.
  • 35A: "What have we here?!" ("OHO!"). Seems like we're seeing a lot of OHO lately. In fact, I think OHO has over-stayed its welcome at this point.
  • 40A: Bridge turn (BID). This one tricked me. I was thinking like a bridge that goes over water, not bridge the card game.

  • 52A: Bodybuilder's breakfast, maybe (RAW EGGS). Someone mentioned "Caddyshack" the other day and I was trying to think of what other old movies I'd like to see again. Rocky's definitely in there.
  • 61A: Typeface type (ARIAL). Mmmmm, typefaces.
  • 64A: Some are urban (MYTHS). I'm sure you all know about, but here's a link just in case you don't. I can spend hours on that site and I pretty much never leave the "What's New" section.
  • 3D: Hollywood dad or his acting daughter (O'NEAL). I can never remember how Ryan and Tatum spell their last name. I know that it's either (a) the same as Shaq or (b) different than Shaq — but I can never remember which one.
  • 9D: Not a good shot (ONE IN TEN). I was tricked by this one too! I thought the answer would be a word describing someone who can't shoot a gun accurately. I'm going "One … eyed?"
  • 11D: Pre-railroad transport (CONESTOGA). Ah, we meet again, CONESTOGA. In case you're wondering, this is absolutely without a doubt a shout-out to me. And if anyone tells you different, they're lying.
  • 25D: Aspen rooftop sight (SKI RACK). I assume this means car roof? Or do skiers put skis on the rooves (rooves? roofs?) of their houses too? Probably not.
  • 30D: Big bikes (HOGS). Love this nickname for Harleys.
  • 45D: Shrubs with edible nuts (HAZELS). Who knew?
  • 50D: Hexahedral puzzle inventor (RUBIK). Hexahedral? Now you're just showing off.
Overall I'd say this is pretty much what we've come to expect from Doug and it's a very nice debut for John. Good job, guys!

Crosswordese 101: I'm not much of a religious person, so I'm going to quote from Wikipedia on this one: "INRI is an acronym of the Latin inscription IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum), which translates to English as 'Jesus the Nazarene (Galilean), King of the Jews (Judeans).' The Greek equivalent of this phrase … (Iesous ho Nazoraios ho Basileus ton Ioudaion), appears in the New Testament of the Christian Bible in the Gospel of John (19:19)." INRI is typically clued as "crucifix inscription," "Calvary inscription," "initials on a cross," or 18D: Cross letters.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 41A: "First Lady of Song" (ELLA).
  • 57A: She played Bea in "Kill Bill" (UMA).
  • 44D: Poetic preposition (ERE).
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Everything Else — 1A: Cry of feigned innocence (WHO ME?); 6A: Northwest Passage seeker (CABOT); 11A: Spy's eye, briefly (CAM); 14A: Ancient Greek dialect (IONIC); 15A: Sheepish? (OVINE); 16A: Carry a balance (OWE); 19A: "Move it!" ("NOW!"); 21A: Prove pleasing (SIT WELL); 24A: Nest egg segments, briefly (IRA'S); 26A: Not big bites (NIPS); 34A: Brand that may cause brain freeze (ICEE); 36A: Words while anteing (I'M IN); 37A: Brother of Moses (AARON); 39A: Awestruck (AGOG); 42A: Inside information? (X-RAYS); 47A: R&B singer India.__ (ARIE); 48A: __ Sutra (KAMA); 49A: Some H.S. students (SRS.); 60A: With 29-Down, cabbage variety (BOK); 62A: Agree to participate (OPT IN); 63A: __ out: barely manage (EKE); 65A: Vampire's concern (STAKE); 1D: Thin, as smoke (WISPY); 2D: Signs of optimism (HOPES); 4D: Thickness measures (MILS); 5D: Cream puffs (ECLAIRS); 6D: Source of cold comfort? (CONTAC); 7D: Batter's fig. (AVG.); 8D: They hang in seafood restaurants (BIBS); 10D: Links appointment (TEE TIME); 12D: Missing in the mil. (AWOL); 13D: Little cry (MEWL); 22D: New Deal prog. (WPA); 27D: 1980 Turner launch (CNN); 28D: Natural prefix (ECO-); 29D: See 60-Across (CHOY); 32D: Leave out (OMIT); 38D: Sam Adams, maybe (ALE); 39D: "We __ the Champions" (ARE); 46D: Latin love (AMOR); 51D: "Gypsy" composer (STYNE); 52D: Yahoo (RUBE); 53D: Bad way to run (AMOK); 54D: Thin opening (SLIT); 56D: Didn't surrender (KEPT); 59D: "Well, __-di-dah" (LAH).