Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tuesday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 27, 2018

My time: 4:57, breaking the old record by thirty seconds!


This puzzle, by Ross Trudeau, celebrates some famous thinkers and dreamers: LANGSTON HUGHES, SIGMUND FREUD, SALVADOR DALI, and EVERY BROTHERS.  The theme, of course, is dreams, or rather works with "dream" in the title: "All I Have To Do Is Dream," The Interpretation of Dreams, "Montage of a Dream Deferred," and that surrealist standard, Dali's Dream Caused By the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening.

A couple bits of fill suffer from Crossword Constructor's Unused Plurals Malady: AWS (like "listen to all those aws coming from the baby's room"?), and SOYS (like "these beans are soys"?)

About the only place I got stuck was on "ingredient in Worcestershire sauce," which is TAMARIND.  I could have sworn this word has come up before,  but not according to my search.  Anyway, a TAMARIND is a tree that produces pod-like fruit, which is edible and used in Asian cuisine.

SVEN, the reindeer in Frozen, came up on January 18.

And that's it!  I had no other trouble with this one.  I finished it with BRIO.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 26, 2018

My time: 4:21.


I did not get to Sunday's puzzle.

In today's puzzle, Andrea Carla Michaels and Mark Diehl teamed up to hide the old SAW "still waters run deep" in the first word of four unrelated phrases: STILL KICKING, WATERS DOWN, RUN ERRANDS, and DEEP THOUGHTS.  That's deep.

Not in my wheelhouse department: ORLON, a trademark for a "drip-dry fabric" synthesized by DuPont.  It is no longer in production.

To my great surprise, there really was nothing else that gave me any trouble.

There were also no clever clues.  This was one of those dictionary definition puzzles.  (The clue for PLUS, for example, was "+".)   It did have some less than common fill, though: I liked LEG UP, OR WORSE, GREW UP ON, and AIR KISS.

Well, that's the end of this rather bland post.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 22, 2018

My time: 26:04, which is slower than average.


Zhouqin Burnikel has solvers REVERSING COURSE, as the three themed answers are written in the puzzle backward.  The first one is LANOITAN ATSUGUA [Augusta National], "home of the Masters" (not the PGA Championship, held in August).  I kept wanting to put Atlanta in there.  The second backward answer is ARBEGLA-ERP [pre-algebra], and SREZITEPPA.  There's no reason for or common bond of these three particular answers, so while the theme is confusing, it's not very clever or interesting.

There were pretty abstruse, sly clues on this one.  For example, "request to be connected on social media" for ADD ME, "didn't get bought" for SAT, "nonmonetary donation" for ORGAN, and "didn't feel like moving, maybe" for ACHED.

"Divide into 120° sections, say" is TRISECT.  That's because every regular shape is 360°.  I didn't quite get that at first.

I have not heard of Minnesota senator AMY Klobuchar.  She is my kind of people.

Alfred ADLER was an Austrian psychotherapist who founded the school of individual psychology.  His work on the inferiority complex, a term he coined, is considered to be a major stepping stone in understanding personality development.

"Low ones are best, in brief" is ERAS.  That is, Earned Run Averages.  This is a baseball stat derived by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine.  Wiki?
During the dead-ball era of the 1900s and 1910s, an ERA below 2.00 (two earned runs allowed per nine innings) was considered good. In the late 1920s and through the 1930s, when conditions of the game changed in a way that strongly favored hitters, a good ERA was below 4.00.  In the 1960s, sub-2.00 ERAs returned, as other influences such as ballparks with different dimensions were introduced. Today, an ERA under 4.00 is again considered good.
Did you know the NRA produces a magazine called American Hunter?  I didn't, nor do I care.  The blood of children is on their filthy dollars.

URI, the University of Rhode Island, appeared February 8.

Clever clues: "They're often caught and passed around" is COLDS.  "Producer of inflation" is AIR.  "Having hands, in a way" is ANALOG. "Match maker?" is EROS.

Whew!  This was a tough one.  All those hard to parse clues.  I was way off my time TARGET.  Well, BYE.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 21, 2018

My time: 8:52, not bad!


Ori Brian and Zachary Spitz team up to dispatch this rebus puzzle, which celebrates the humble P.O. BOX.  Fourteen squares are PO boxes; that is, they contain the letters PO, together, in the box --- as in [PO]LLUTE, S[PO]RTS RE[PO]RTER, [PO]LITICAL, [PO]M[PO]M, even when the sharing is totally at odds with the original word structure, as in HO[P O]N [PO]P or U[P O]NE.

Did you know Amy Winehouse was an ALTO?  Me neither.  This page calls her a contralto, similar to but lower than an alto.

I had long forgotten, if I even knew, Obama's stepfather LOLO Soetoro, but that's a great name.  He died too young, at 52, just like his wife, Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

"Game fish that can breathe air" is TARPON.  According to Wiki, "these fish are obligate air breathers, and if they are not allowed to access the surface, they will die."  I had no idea there were any fish like that.

"LA LA Means I Love You" was a 1968 hit by the Delfonics.  I could produce the first word of the title given the others, but I had no idea who the band was.  They are also famous for the song "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)."

I didn't remember immediately that merinos are sheep, but once it clicked, obviously their mothers are EWES.

Actress NIA Long of Alfie (2004) appeared November 9, 2017, with a different credit to her resume.

I think the person who has appeared most in crosswords since I've started this blog is NAS.  This time the clue is his song "Street Dreams."

I knew all the sports questions this time!  Slammin' Sammy SOSA and the Miracle METS are famous enough even for me.

Clever clues: "Underworld boss?" is SATAN.  "It may be at the end of one's rope" is NOOSE.

Well, this was a fun one.  And SOTO bed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 20, 2018

My time: 10:27, slower than average.


Joel Fagliano pays tribute to LEXICOGRAPHERS in this puzzle.  Three entries are clued as if from a dictionary because these phrases can also be read as describing a dictionary entry:

"Adj. Under the influence of a drug" is HIGH DEFINITION, that is, the definition of high.  Get it?  "Adv. Across a barrier or intervening space is OVER-EXPLAINED, or rather, "over," explained.  And "N. Spirit, animation" is MEANING OF LIFE.

"Classic Langston Hughes poem" is I, TOO, as in I, too, sing America.

2016 Best Picture nominee LA LA LAND stars Emma Stone, which fact came up on January 22.

UTAH appears a lot in crossword puzzles.  This time it's as home to Zion National Park.

I got stuck on LIVE-blogging, even though I'm quite familiar with the term.  I tried *LIFE blogging and even *LINK blogging.  My brain's not in high gear tonight.

GIN UP for "enliven" isn't an expression I use a lot.

John Wayne played J.D. CAHILL in the 1973 western Cahill U.S. Marshal.  Somehow I dredged that name up with only a few letters of crossfill.

I didn't know what FS1 is, so I couldn't come up with ESPN as its competitor.  It's Fox Sports 1, a sports channel for conservatives who like sports.

NOVA lox appeared on January 17.

NIA Vardalos appeared November 7, 2017.

Clever clues: "Makes the rounds?' is BARTENDS.   "Battle of the bulges?" is SUMO.

And that's the end of that.  It seems to have taken AGES even though there were only a few new answers for me.  BLAH.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 19, 2018

My time: 6:11.


For the Presidents' Day HOLIDAY, Bruce Haight gives us sort-of anagrams of presidents' names, plus one letter, for some reason!  I really don't understand the point of it at all.  Why the extra letter?  The new word formed doesn't have any relationship to the president.  For example, "Garfield + U = beach V.I.P." is LIFEGUARD.  "Fillmore + V = movie buff" is FILM LOVER.  But why, though?  "Harding + P = squeezable exercise tool" is HAND GRIP.  What's the point?  Frankly, I bet a lot of people are confused.  AND SO AM I ("Madison + A")!

I know the RHINE is a German river, but being a geography numbskull, I could not have told you that Cologne is on it.  Do you know what else is on the RHINE?  Worms, Strasbourg, and Basel.  This is an interesting blog post about visiting Vater Rhein.

The National Mall is the SCENE of many a presidential inauguration.  The recent one, by the Russian-backed moron Trump, had a far smaller crowd than the one for the intelligent, thoughtful president Obama.  MARLA could tell you about various small things Trump has.

A lot of familiar faces in this puzzle:

Dickens' Little NELL, from The Old Curiosity Shop, appeared September 19, 2017.

Famed opera house in Milan LA SCALA appeared November 25, 2017.

Pontiac GTOS appeared October 9, 2017.

The Ford MERC appeared October 28, 2017.

I had very little trouble with the fill of this puzzle, but the perplexing and apparently pointless theme held me back.  I DIG the attempt at some kind of nod to the presidents on this day, but this was not well executed.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 18, 2017

My time: 22:52, not too shabby!


Elizabeth Long gives us a puzzle that's a real NAME DROPPER.  That is, several Across entries are phrases with names hidden inside, but the name part is "dropped," becoming a Down clue.  The letters left in the original phrase are clued in the Across literally to make a joke, while the Down part is clued as "with XX Across," and then a straightforward clue for the entire phrase.

For example.  "Is able to translate what was heard on the wall?" is SPEAKS FLY.  But hanging off the F is FRANK, and the Down clue reads, "with 30 Across, is blunt," and that makes SPEAKS F/RANK/LY.  "Mattress tester's compensation?" is SLUMBER PAY.  But hanging off the A is ART, and the Down clue for that is "with 55 Across, big sleepover," and that's SLUMBER PA/RT/Y. 

Last one.  "Dress code requirement for the Puritans?" is PRIM COLORS, ha ha.  Hanging off the M is MARY, and the clue for that is "with 77 Across, red, blue and yellow," which are of course PRIM/ARY/ COLORS.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 15, 2018

My time: 18:25, which isn't great but is better than my average so I'll take it.


Today, Peter Gordon takes us bird-watching in Hollywood.  Five themed answers are Oscar-nominated or -winning roles whose last names are birds!  It's a bit abstruse for a theme, but it has the benefit of making the other answers guessable once you cotton on.  I figured it out when I realized a role from To Kill a Mockingbird was a FINCH and knew Jodie Foster's role as CLARICE STARLING.

Mary Badham was nominated for her role as SCOUT FINCH.  That's pretty much her only role, actually; a few movies in the 1960s and then one in 2005 make up the rest of her filmography.  Jon Voight won an Academy Award for his role as LUKE MARTIN in the 1978 Vietnam drama Coming Home.  Martin was paralyzed in the war and falls in love with Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda), whose husband is fighting in Vietnam.  And I had totally forgotten that Janey Leigh's character in Psycho was named MARION CRANE.

"Undergoes" is HAS.  Undergoes a procedure, has a procedure.  Okay.

LEO is apparently a "fire sign," along with Aries and Sagittarius.  Astrology is so stupid.

"Prefix with stationary" is GEO-.  Geostationary means an object as the same orbital velocity as Earth so that it looks fixed in the sky.

I've heard of Nicki MINAJ, but could not have told you that she had a double album called The Pinkprint.

Santa ANITA is a place name in California.  I assume I'm supposed to think of the horse racing track

Also, "put a ring on" is ENHALO.  That is RIDIC.

ERTÉ is the nom d'art of Romain de Tirtoff, taken from his initials, like Hergé.  According to Wikipedia, "he was a diversely talented 20th-century artist and designer who flourished in an array of fields, including fashion, jewellery, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theatre, and opera, and interior decor."  According to the puzzle, he was "famous for his serigraphs."

Did you know BOND PAPER is just high quality paper?  Me neither.

For "critic, at times" I put *HATER but it's RATER.

"Symbol of gentle innocence" is not *LAMBY but BAMBI.

The capital of Côte d'Ivoire (or as the Times calls it, Ivory Coast) is Yamoussoukro, but its economic capital and largest city is ABIDJAN.

"Golfer who you might think plays best on windy days?" is TOM KITE, which --- sort of irritatingly --- also belong to the bird theme, but not the Oscar-winning actor part.

I haven't heard of the cold medicine brand TRIAMINIC.

Old gossip RONA Barrett last appeared December 9, 2017.

Clever clues: "Checkout lines?" is UPC.  "Bag man?" is UMP.  "Canine coats" is ENAMELS.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday's New York times puzzle solved: February 14, 2018

Today's time: 10:39.


Mary Lou Guizzo loves us enough to give us this heart-shaped puzzle, with three timely theme answers: HEARTSTRINGS, CUPID'S ARROWS ("they lead to love at first sight"), and SAINT VALENTINE.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 12, 2018

My time: 6:04, not great.


Michael Black charges us to do this puzzle whose theme is CARDHOLDER ("one with credit").  Hidden within three themed answers are three famous credit cards.

In the Priscilla Presley memoir ELVIS AND ME (surely she should have called it The King and I?) there's VISA, state capital OAXACA MEXICO holds AMEX, and we discover the credit card DISCOVER in "many a 1970s remix" DISCO VERSION.

"Sow, as seeds" is PLANT?  That's iffy, in my book.

Michelle WIE is a professional golfer who turned professional just before her 16th birthday.  I could barely get myself to school at that age.

John RITTER was in the movie Problem Child, perhaps not one of his finest roles.  According to IMDB, "A young boy is just short of a monster. He is adopted by a loving man and his wacky wife. The laughs keep coming as the boy pushes them to the limits."  Do they, though?  Do they really keep coming?

Neil SEDAKA sang and cowrote the 1975 song "Laughter in the Rain."

Stan GETZ was a jazz tenor saxophonist , nicknamed "The Sound" for his warm tone.

One of the first organized women's rights and suffragette organizers was Elizabeth CADY Stanton, who presented a Declaration of Sentiments in 1848.

"Big PAPI" is the nickname of David Ortiz, a longtime designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox.

The DAVIS CUP is the premier international team event in men's tennis.

The 7 Faces of Dr. LAO is a 1964 film starring Tony Randall.  Plot: A mysterious circus comes to a western town bearing wonders and characters that entertain the inhabitants and teach valuable lessons.  So... not a horror film, then?

I'm amazed to learn that there was 1994 hit called "Here Comes the Hotstepper," by Jamaican reggae artists INI Kamoze.  This was covered on December 30, 2017, and it still seems to me like a fact from another dimension.

I think this was fairly difficult for a Monday. Some of those clues were a real PANE.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 11, 2018

My time: 34:07, slower than average.


This puzzle, by Matt Ginsberg, is titled Paronomasia, which is a rhetoric device that means using words that sound the same but have different meaning to use a pun.  In other words, they're oronyms, a word that was featured in the February 6 puzzle.

Here is a partial list of the many, many paronomasiac answers: "Raised some vegetables?" is GROUPIES [grew peas].  "Opposite of a strong boil?" is DULCIMER [dull simmer].  "Decrease in the number of people named Gerald?" is GERIATRICIAN [Gerry attrition].  "Narrow passages for killer whales?" is ORCHESTRATES [orca straits].  "Belts for a Chinese leader?" is MOUSETRAPS [Mao straps].

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Saturday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 10, 2018

My time: 15:41, edging out the old record by about half a minute!


I failed to finish Friday due to a busy schedule and my inability to know the things they were asking.

Today's themeless by Finn Vigeland has some really modern, fresh fill, three of which stretch west to east: LIN-MANUAL MIRANDA, IN ALL PROBABILITY, and ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.  There's also the rarely seen SOLO CUP, AS IF TO SAY and WHAT A TRIP.

I didn't know "Serial" podcast host Sarah KOENIG.  At first I had the idea that it was PRI's Sarah *VOWELL, author and a contributing editor to "This American Life."  Then through crossfill I had *HOENIG, and still couldn't figure it out (which cost me some time).  Finally, I realized that the crossfill "your point being..." is OK, SO? and not OH, SO? which gave me the right answer.  Koenig is a producer of "This American Life."  So I guess my initial guess wasn't too far off!

I read Tender is the Night in tenth grade, about a thousand years ago now.  I remembered Dick Diver (who wouldn't?) but not NICOLE Diver, his wife.  I should reread that novel.

For "painter's undercoat" I put *PRIMER but it turned out to be SEALER.

I had a hard time remembering the Tex-Mex chili pepper ANCHO.  Fun fact: an ANCHO is a dried ripe Poblano pepper.  Also, ancho means "wide" in Spanish.  Why?  Do they get wider when you dry them?

THESSALY is a region in Greece, both ancient and modern.  The northern tier of Thessaly is defined by the Olympus range that includes Mount Olympus, close to the Macedonian border.

We all know the font FUTURA, but did we know that its German designer, Paul Renner, based it upon the Bauhaus design philosophy?  No, we didn't.  Fun fact: Futura was the first typeface on the moon; it's on the commemorative plaque left there in 1969.

"Odysseus' rescuer" is INO, yet another new one in my ostensible wheelhouse.  INO is many things in Greek mythology, most famously a queen who is jealous of her husband's first wife's children, Phrixus and Helle, and plots to kill them.  Through a complicated series of events, she is later chased over the cliff into the sea.  However, in terms of Odysseus, INO has become a sea goddess, and she's the one who gives him a magic scarf which prevents him from drowning after Poseidon sinks his ship.

I could not figure out why FLIED was "popped (out)," but I'm guessing it's a baseball thing.

Apparently there's a Temple of ISIS in Pompeii.  It is almost fully intact.

The TATE Modern, a museum in London, came up on November 19, 2017, but here it's the answer to where Rodin's The Kiss is located.  According to their website, "Rodin considered it overly traditional, calling The Kiss ‘a large sculpted knick-knack following the usual formula.’ Harsh!

"Adjective on Tex-Mex menus" is ASADA.  I've seen the word often but never really thought about it.  It means roasted or grilled.  I had also forgotten that this came up on November 26, 2017.  This was not a good day for me and Tex-Mex menu items.

Clever clues: "Player in a baseball stadium" is ORGAN.  "Remote area?" is DEN.  "Letters that come before AA?" is DTS, ha!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thursday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 8, 2018

Today's time: 10:32, beating the old record by over a minute!


Erik Agard, clearly the secret identity of a Norse god condemned to wander Earth, mixes things up a bit with this puzzle that uses anagrams of movie star names for four of the clues.  The hint, or capper, on this theme, is "1987 Robert Townsend satire" HOLLYWOOD / SHUFFLE, a film about a black actor, typecast as a variety of ethnic stereotypes, who dreams of being taken seriously as a respected performer.

The themed clues are "Germany" for MEG RYAN, "steady gig" for TAYE DIGGS, "it's-a me, Mario!" for MARISA TOMEI, and "Ernest Gallo" for ANSEL ELGORT, the star of superb crime film Baby Driver and also the proud owner of a name which also sounds like it's an anagram of something more normal.

Once I figured out the theme, I filled in some of those answers by just plugging in the unused letters from the anagram clues.

Shawwal is the tenth month in the Islamic calendar.  I've never heard of it, but it sounded Islamic so it seemed pretty obvious to try RAMADAN.

"Starships' second #1 hit, after 'We Built This City'" is "SARA," which isn't my cup of tea, thank you.  Eighties histrionics.  Ick.

The URI URL ending is .EDU, because URI means University of Rhode Island.

ELIA Martell is the princess called for in "Game of Thrones."  Never read it or seen it!  I thought it was an actress' name who played her.

You know who won four Cy Young awards?  GREG Maddux!  Never heard of him.  He pitched for the Braves and the Cubs.  His somewhat contradictory nicknames are "Mad Dog" and "The Professor."  Sounds like a pair of rogue private eyes.

ROLEX is one of the many companies with a crown logo.  There are some theories about why there's a crown but Rolex doesn't tell why, if there is an official reason.

The capital of BOTSWANA is Gabarone.  A crossword maven should really memorize all world capitals.  Bots wanna take over, and all you do is Gab-a-roni!

Clever clues: "Feature in 'People'?" is SILENT O.  "Actress Elisabeth who's been on the cover of Rolling Stone, ironically" is MOSS, heh.  "Band not known for music?" is AM RADIO.  "Hair pieces?" is HANKS.

Man, I really did well on this one!  Not sure why, as it was a strange theme and a big handful of stuff I didn't know right off the bat.  But I beat it good, and that's no LYE!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times puzzle solved: Februrary 7, 2018

My time: 14:06, two minutes slower than the average Wednesday.  Boo, me!


Stu "Stockman" Ockman, Dr. Stocktopus to his enemies, wove this web of words around the phrase THE TIES THAT BIND ("shared beliefs").  Four circled-square entries that radiate out diagonally from the center black square, ROPE, CORD, WIRE, and LACE, tie the theme together.

I didn't know the prince in Frozen, so had to guess HANS from crossfill.

I've never heard of Desolation Canyon, a historical landmark on the Green River in UTAH.  It's known for its recreational rafting opportunities.

Totally new term department: LENE, a voiceless consonant like b or p.  The term seems to refer mostly to the Greek alphabet.  Greek LENEs include kappa and tau.

I've also never heard of Wagner's 1843 opera "DER Fliegende Holländer," but I have heard of the legend of the Flying Dutchman, the ghost ship that can never reach land.

Did you know the Ringling Brothers Circus started in WIS?  Specifically, Baraboo, Wisconsin. Did you care?  The people of Baraboo did.

"Board runner" for CHAIR totally baffled me.  I kept thinking about furniture, or maybe the running board (a.k.a. nerf bar) on a car.  But it's the person who runs a board, the CHAIRperson.

AMOCO came up on October 14, 2017, but as a BP acquisition.  Today it's described as having "a red, white, blue and black logo."

I'm not old enough to remember the ESSO slogan "Happy Motoring."  But the singing filling station men and singing oil drops make it memorable.  A little something extra in your tank!

I literally could not care less about SHEREE Whitfield of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."

I've heard the name ELI Lilly, but I could not have told you that they are a pharmaceutical company.  It was founded by ELI Lilly in 1876 in Indianapolis.

I had a lot of trouble with the ALTAI mountains, and only knew it started with an A because it was one of the circled letters that spelled out LACE.  The range is located where Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together.  Its name means "gold mountain" in Mongolian.

Apparently Windex is mostly AMMONIA?  Was?  This may no longer be true.

I have seen only a few episodes of "Veep," and so didn't remember the title character's aide, GARY Walsh, played by Tony "Buster" Hale.

Tarzan portrayer Ron ELY appeared on November 27, 2017.

The Greek letters ETA was discussed (in the plural) on January 16, 2018.

Clever clues: "Started to downsize" is DIETED.  "Fun, for one" is RHYME.  "Marriage agreement?" is YES, DEAR.

Whew, that took a while, for SHO. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tuesday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 6, 2018

My time: 8:36.


Bruce Haight gets tricky today. In fact, downright DEVIOUS, read as D.V.-ious, as in the initials.  Five themed answers are two-word phrases that start with D and V: DEATH VALLEY ("lowest point for Americans?"), DARTH VADER, DEMO VERSION, DEEP VOICE, and DODGE VIPER ("American made sports car with a V-10 engine").

How delightfully villainous!

I also enjoyed the conversational fill DAD BODS, I'LL BITE, I HOPE SO, NO CAN DO, and SAY WHEN.

"Yeshiva leader" is RABBI, which I would have put faster if I'd known exactly what yeshiva is.  It's a school for Talmudic study or to become a rabbi.  There is also a Yeshiva University in New York state.

CALLA lily also slowed me up, as I've never heard of it.  It is also known as bog arum, marsh calla, wild calla, squaw claw, and water-arum.  I love names for things.

Did you know PENN is the southernmost of the Ivies?  Did you care?

I was not quite sure if ETNA was an insurance company as well as a mountain, but it is: Aetna, with the ash æ.

DE NOVO, "from the beginning" in Latin, is used in law as well as science.

"Postdebate area" for SPIN room is a good clue.

One of the most troublesome spots of this puzzle to me was CLEMSON, which I did not know had the sports team the Tigers.  Also, CLEMSON is in South Carolina! 

Mel OTT, who appeared December 25, 2017, comes up again as the first NLer to hit 500 home runs.  He hit his 500th dinger in 1945.  Good job, Master Melvin!

EVIE Wilcox is a character in Howard's End.  I'm not sure that's guessable even with half fill except to a very small number of people.

New term to me: ORONYMS, or phrases that sound approximately like, such as "ice cream" and "I scream," or "a name" and "an aim."  A good way to remember this is to think, did you mean this, or that which sounds alike?

The Native American (or "Indian," as the Times puts it, somewhat stodgily) tribe that lived on the plains is OTOE, which appeared August 13, 2017.

I didn't solve it fast, but it was fun.  That's it.  I'm OUT!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 5, 2018

My time: 3:31, a new record by a full minute!


Alan Arbesfeld plays with phases of the MOON in this puzzle.  There's NEW YEAR'S EVE, CRESCENT ROLL, QUARTERBACK, and FULL-TIME JOB.  I like a simple "what do they have in common?" theme.

I've heard of the composer Thomas ARNE, of "Rule, Britannia" fame, but his isn't a name that springs readily to mind.  Fun fact: he also wrote "A-Hunting We Will Go."

The Way We WERE is a 1973 movie starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.

On November 1, 2017, we were reminded a saxophone has a REED.  Today we have a clarinet as the example.

I've heard of SID CAESAR, but I don't think I would have been able to connect him with "Your Show of Shows."  He starred in it alongside Imogene Coca.

This wasn't the toughest puzzle ever ("pumpkin color"?  ORANGE), but I enjoyed it and I'm proud of my speed.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sunday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 4, 2018

My time: 17:45.  Two seconds too late for the record.  Two seconds!

David Levinson Wilk gives us "Cracking Wise," in which, for some reason, the Y in some answers is meant to be read as VI on the downs, but as Y going across.

There's no capper or explanation in the puzzle as far as I can tell.  I did like some of the unusual, conversational fill: THAT'S HYSTERICAL, I WAS ONLY KIDDING, DRY SENSE OF HUMOR, EVERYBODY'S A COMEDIAN, and YO' MAMA JOKE.

But this leaves "poison ivy" as YNE (vine), "some sneakers" as AYAS (Avias), "concoct" as DEYSE (devise), and so on.  I really did not understand Y at all, but only after staring at it for many minutes, did I realize that a Y is a V on top of an I, or a VI going down.  Ha ha!

So anyway.

"52-story Boston skyscraper, familiarly" is THE PRU, or Prudential Tower.  I guess that explains my question from November 17, 2017.  Bostonians do.

Never heard of Zugspitze, but that's an ALP.  It's the highest peak in Germany, at 9,700 feet over sea level.

The OISE is a river in Belgium and France.  It's 212 miles long.  The French department OISE is named after it.

Geoffrey BEENE was a designer who worked in women's wear, but the company that bears his name makes men's clothes as well.  Beene's clients included Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan, Faye Dunaway and Glenn Close.

"Carrier to Karachi" is PIA, which stands for Pakinstan National Airlines.

I didn't know that the president of Russia had an official DACHA, much less that its name is Novo-Ogaryovo.  Being a dabbler in languages, the DACHA part didn't stymie me, however.

"Terrif!" is FABU!  Who says FABU??  Me, from now on.

Peter NERO is a pianist and pops conductor.  He has worked with a long list of notable musicians including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Andy Williams, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Diane Schuur, Johnny Mathis, Roger Kellaway and Elton John.  His 1974 album Greatest Hits is still on sale, but as a CD-R.  It seems to be out of print.

Mount Narodnaya, a URAL, stands 6,214 feet above sea level.  Its name means "the people's mountain."

I did not know that JFK dedicated O'HARE airport in 1963.  It was named after a WWII fighter pilot, Edward "Butch" O'Hare.

Erin MORAN played the title role on "Joanie Loves Chachi," Joanie Cunningham, Ritchie's baby sister, who falls in love with bad boy Chachi.  Reports suggest her later years were filled with drug and drink abuse, and she died young, 56, of throat cancer.

UTA Hagen pops up again, but unlike the last times, I spelled her name correctly first thing!

And here's SAC fly again!  Like UTA, it also appeared November 27, 2017.

STP and USO, old crossword buddies, also appear.

Clever clues: "Something carried onstage?" is TUNE.  "Night vision?" is DREAM.  "Bad state to be in" is COMA.  "Like some angels and dominoes" is FALLEN.

This was a very easy puzzle for a Sunday!  No time to chat.  Busy.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 2, 2018

My time: 17:37, which is not very good.


This is a pretty tough themeless by Randolph Ross.  It has some nice fill, like WITCH HUNT, BLAME GAME, DAREDEVILS, ANTI-LABOR, DOG SPAS, STALINIST, and even SEXCAPADE ("portmanteau for lovers").

Hey, ESTATE CAR!  I learned that Britishism for station wagon on January 24!  That helped a lot.

And Charlotte AMALIE, capital of the US Virgin islands, came up on October 1, 2017.  Somehow it stuck with me.

"Total" is an amusingly sneaky clue for RUN TO.

"Iraq war danger" could have been *WMD or *RPG but it's IED.

Randolph got me this time.  The obvious but wrong answer to "sources of jam, jelly, and juice" is *GRAPES but it's GUAVAS.  Ick, guava juice.

"Taunts" is JIVES?  I put *JIBES and was sure it was right.  I mean, yes, I know JIVE is foolish talk, but I don't think you say, "He taunted the idiot with laughter and jives."  Or, "what a clever jive!"  It's uncountable.  Ugh.

"Author much used by other authors" is PETER ROGET.  I didn't know he was a physician!  Or that his name was Peter.  Also, he lived to the age of 90.

Apparently EL CAPITAN is in Yosemite Park.  It's 7,500 feet.  "For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face. There are many named climbing routes, all of them arduous, including Iron Hawk and Sea of Dreams."

TETRA- the prefix means, of course, four.  In the word TETRAfluoride it just means a compound with four fluorines.

I don't approve of the abbreviation HGT for height.

UNCAS was a real sachem of the Mohegans who lived in the 17th century.  He allied with the English against the Pequots.  In James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, UNCAS is the main character.  They call him the "bounding elk."

KOA stands for Kampgrounds Of America.  That's why their customer is an RV-ER.

I've heard of BUD SELIG!  He was the ninth baseball commissioner.  He's the Commissioner Emeritus. During his tenure, he oversaw a lot of changes to baseball that people who care about baseball care about.

"Subject for Raoul Dufy and Henri Matise" is the SEINE.  Dufy was a French Fauvist.  He is famous for a big fresco called "The Electricity Fairy," commissioned for the Pavillon de la Lumière et de l’Électricité.

ASSAM, a state in northeast India, is known for its tea and its silk.

That's a lot of trouble to document.  I only OPE I do better next time.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thursday's New York Times puzzle solved: February 1, 2018

My time: 12:05, pretty close to my record!


Damon Gulczynski plays with initials in this challenging Thursday.  "At the start" is the pun clue; it's INITIALLY, which is also how you have to read the first two letters of the themed clues (with the rest read normally).

So "Roman of Hollywood" is actually to be read as "R.O. man of Hollywood," and it's RYAN O'NEAL.  "Legal acting in a 1980's prime-time soap opera" is actually "L.E. gal acting," and it's LINDA EVANS, who played Krystle Carrington in "Dynasty."  "Malady of French history" is to be read as M.A. lady," and that's MARIE ANTOINETTE.  Finally, "regent of film criticism" is meant to be read as "R.E. of film criticism," and who could that be but ROGER EBERT?

I'm not sure I've heard ICES to mean "clinches," as in "makes certain."  But here it is, from dictionary.com: "Slang. to settle or seal; make sure of, as by signing a contract: We'll ice the deal tomorrow."

Similarly, I had a hard time thinking of "pretend" as LET ON.  I nearly always use that phrase to mean "reveal, divulge."  But Oxford dictionaries points out the mostly British use: "they all let on they didn't hear me."

Yet another expression I am not too familiar with: LACE into, for castigate.

I've heard of Roger "Rocket" CLEMENS, but I didn't know he was a seven-time Cy Young award winner.  He pitched the third-most strikeouts of all time.

I also know of the operating system UNIX, but I didn't know it was developed at Bell Laboratories.  It was created around 1970, as a sort of rogue project since AT&T decided they didn't want anything to do with operating systems after their 1969 attempt, Multics, didn't go anywhere.  It was created by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, among other Bell colleagues.  "The name Unix stems from a joke one of Thompson’s colleagues made: Because the new operating system supported only one user (Thompson), he saw it as an emasculated version of Multics and dubbed it “Un-multiplexed Information and Computing Service,” or Unics. The name later morphed into Unix."

I enjoyed the AUTO/OTTO cross.

Did you know an the home of an OTTER is called a holt?  Me neither.  It means a wooded hill or corpse, but it also means an animal home, especially for an otter.  This meaning is chiefly British.

On November 13, 2017, I mentioned James AGEE, who won a Pulitzer for his autobiographical novel A Death in the Family, but I failed to note that the award was posthumous.

John ROLFE "of colonial Jamestown," who married Pocahontas, appeared September 9, 2017.

Clever clues: "One joining a union?" is BRIDE. "Digital communication, for short?" is ASL.

Not very much new to me, for a Thursday, but the theme eluded me for quite some time, so no record for me today.