Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tuesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 31, 2018

My time: 7:03.  I may be a bit rusty.


It's Tuesday, and this puzzle by David Woolf might initially give you trouble.  Ha!  That's a joke, son.  "Indication of more to come" is DOT DOT DOT, and the themed answers contain this in their proper form, because all three start with three initials.   W.E.B. DUBOIS, J.R.R. TOLKIEN, F.A.O. SCHWARZ are the people in question.

Clever!  I liked it.

As a whole I thought the puzzle was somewhat hard for a Tuesday, with unusual words like JIBE, BOSH, DAUB, LOOPY, NEO-NOIR, JAZZ HOP, ERSATZ ("like Splenda vis-à-vis sugar"), and EMBOSS.

"Black Sea port, to natives" is ODESA.  This is a terrible clue and answer, because the natives don't in fact spell Odessa like that.  Ukrainians spell it Оде́са.  Very poor show, David Woolf.  Interestingly, in Russian it's spelled with two /s/ characters, Оде́сса.

"Molten tar, e.g." is OOZE?  That's not the best clue either. 

"Dog unlikely to have a solid coat" is worded in such a way as to imply they're looking for a breed, but actually the answer is a typical name, SPOT.

ANYA Seton was an author of historical novels, active from the 1940s to the '70s.

I wasn't totally sure what a "doubleheader" was but I guess it's two games in a day because of a previous RAINOUT.

Did you know PANTONE has a "color of the year" award?  This year it's 18-3838 Ultra Violet.  This is apparently "a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade" that "communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future."  All that from a pale purple!

Apparently "dolce" is an adverb, because it's a clue for SWEETLY.

The U in UHF is ULTRA, as in ULTRA High Frequency.

The SINE function has come up a few times in the crossword, but here it's said to be "associated with oscillation," as in a SINE wave.  I'm over my head here.

I don't recognize the name of actor TYE Sheridan, but I saw him as a young Cyclops in X-Men Apocalypse, and he starred in Ready Player One.

Lift up the ski slopes T-BAR last appeared on May 1

Olympian Apolo Anton OHNO was an answer on April 20

I remembered the UNICORN was the creature on Scot;and's coat of arms from the mammoth slog that was December 24's solve.

WHO DAT guy who didn't solve today's puzzle quickly?  Me dat!  SO SORRY.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 30, 2018

My time: 5:29.


I'm back from vacation in sunny Florida, and back to blogging about crossed words!  I did do a couple of the puzzles last week, but as part of the general relaxation and unplugging, I didn't write about them.

Today's theme is baseball terms!  The capper clue is "narrow escape," for CLOSE CALL.  The starred themed answers' last words are all baseball calls.  STATE FAIR, SPACED OUT, PARTY FOUL ("spilling a drink or eating all the guacamole"), GUM BALL, HOTEL SAFE, and AIRSTRIKE are the starred answers.  Good game, Gary Cee.  Good game.

I thought this was tough for a Monday.  For example, SPIFF UP ("add some style to") seems a little abstruse for the easiest day.

I hoped "better than" EVER was going to be "Better Than" EZRA.

Japanese beer brand KIRIN was founded in 1885 as the Japanese Brewing Company.  They claim they are the world's only "first-press beer," because it is made with the first press of the wort.  The can has an image of a kirin on it, the mythological horned, hooved animal, called qilin in Chinese.  Which is also the word for giraffe.

Never heard of children's author and cartoonist ROS Asquith.  She has a lot of children's books and series.

Junior SEAU has a name that makes me think he's a misprint.  His birth name is Tiaina Baul Seau Jr.  He played for the Chargers, Dolphins, and Patriots.  He was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He was elected posthumously to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.  He shot himself in the chest at the age of 43, sadly.

The New York Rangers are an NHL TEAM.  So are the Philadelphia Flyers.

I was not quite sure about OLLA, a wide-mouthed earthenware pot.

ELO and their song "Rockaria!" were an answer on December 29, 2017.

Nonstick cookware T-FAL appeared on May 15.

We learned that ETON was founded by Henry VI on July 16.

Clever clue: "It lets things slide" is LUBE.

I'm back in the saddle!  With a... less than stellar score on my return.  My shame shall INSPIRE me to do better tomorrow, OAR fail trying!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 20, 2018

My time: 16:07.


Robyn Weintraub gives us this challenging themeless with a lot of fresh fun fill, like BARBIE DOLL ("Dreamhouse resident"), LIVING WAGE ("it gets you what you need" --- I took a stab at *LIVING WELL at first), NOSE-TO-TAIL ("like cooking that goes whole hog?"), ROLLER RINK ("place to spin your wheels") and others.

The challenge factor is upped here by the plethora of deliberately vague clues.  EGG HUNT is "activity for a basket holder," SPAM is just "food portmanteau," and SEA TURTLES is "creatures that divers sometimes swim with."

The Secretary of State after Edmund Muskie (our fishiest Secretary of State, under Carter) was Alexander HAIG, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, under Reagan.

A SABRA is a term for a Jew born is Israel.  The term alludes to a tenacious, thorny desert plant with a thick skin that conceals a sweet, softer interior. The cactus is compared to Israeli Jews, who are supposedly tough on the outside, but delicate and sweet on the inside.  I wonder if those cacti pass laws saying no other plants in Israel have rights?

I'm not sure RURAL means the same thing as "not built up."

DONA is the feminine form of dom, which is Portuguese is a title of nobility.

We last saw "hydroxyl-bearing compound" ENOL on September 24, 2017.

Oregon-based running shoe company AVIA last appeared on July 11 (and before that, also on September 24).

Clever clues: "He's nothing special" is AVERAGE JOE (I had *AVERAGE GUY at first).  "Stole, maybe" is FUR.  "What can get batters out?" is SPATULAS, ha, tricky!  "Chad's place" is BALLOT.  "Warning from one holding an iron" is FORE, ha, tricked you again!  "One who's happy about acquiring a few extra pounds" is BRIT, which I knew right off.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 19, 2018

My time: 12:48.


Well, this puzzle by Mike Knobler is something a bit different.  It's very clever bit of trickery.  Several themed answers, denoted by stars, are in SECRET CODE.  A hint to how to use the code is in "cry from behind a counter" --- NEXT, PLEASE.  This means you are to enter the next letter for each letter in the themed answers.  So any a in the answer is entered as a B, all bs becomes Cs, and so on. 

So we end up with, for example, "Crafts site" really being Etsy but entered as FUTZ.  "Firework that doesn't work" is dud, entered as EVE.  "Resistance units" is ohms, which becomes PINT.  "Military vehicles" are tanks, which appears in the puzzle as U-BOLT. The answer that finally made the penny drop for me is IBM, code for Shakespearean prince Hal.

I enjoyed figuring this all out, but I do think that the clue to SECRET CODE is misleading.  It reads as "what the answers to the six starred clues follow..."  I don't think it's useful or common to say they follow a code.  I would have liked to see the clue say something like "how the six starred clues are entered."

So, onto the fill.  Sauce for falafels is TAHINI, a dip made from toasted ground hulled sesame.

I needed a little help to remember "Chunnel train" EUROSTAR, which links London with Amsterdam, Avignon, Brussels, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Paris and Rotterdam.

We've all heard of the band STYX, but they've never been a fixture on my turntable, so I didn't recognize them from the songs "Lady" and "Babe."  Is this "Adult Oriented Rock"?  It's very... smooth.  And inoffensive.  And cheesy.

The first NFL player to be featured on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" was...  Y.A. TITTLE!  Never heard of him.  He was a quarterback for the 49ers, Giants, and Colts in the 1950s and '60s.  He appeared on the cover in 1954.  A pioneer in sports, Tittle was part of the 49ers' famed Million Dollar Backfield and is credited with having coined "alley-oop" as a sports term. He is also famous for a photograph in which he is bloodied and kneeling down in the end zone after a tackle by a defender left him helmetless.  Fun bonus fact: The Y.A. stands for Yelberton Abraham.

ICE-T was the rapper with the 1999 album The Seventh Deadly Sin.  It is 74 minutes long.  Good lord!

"First, second, or third person" is UMP.  What the hell does that mean??

Clever clues: "Vessel that's 1% full?" is YACHT.  "Something said to smell sweet" is SUCCESS.  "Short, for one" is MARTIN.  "Prepare to drive" is TEE UP.

This was a fun puzzle!  It's nice when not everything is laid out at first and you know something's wrong but have to figure out what and where.  I did ABOUT as well as I could considered, but ISLE try to go even faster!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 18, 2018

My time: 10:55.


David Steinberg dug deep to bring us this puzzle, a rebus where each shaded square represents a FOSSIL (cutely intersected with DIG SITE).  In these shaded squares are two letters, and read from left to right, top to bottom, they spell out TY/RAN/NN/OS/AU/RU/S R/EX.

So, there's that.

This was a hard puzzle for a Wednesday, and not only because of the rebus theme.  I was held up right at the outset by "big name in French perfumes," which is CO[TY].  I've never heard of this apparent conglomerate, which owns makeup, hair coloring, and nail beauty products as well as fragrances.  It's named after François COTY, an early 20th-century French perfumer and... fascist organizer and vicious anti-Semite?  SHEESH!  (This word is clued as "enough already!" which to me isn't quite parallel enough.)

I was never a Ringhead, so I didn't know that ORCS are wolf riders in The Lord of the Rings.  These wolves are called Wargs.  Send out your Warg-riders!

"Workout-obsessed sorts" gave me a bit of trouble.  I've heard of gym rats but not GYM BU[NN]IES.  By the time I was filling out this part of the grid, I knew two letters had to go in one square but couldn't figure it out.  *GYM BU[DD]IES?  That didn't seem right.

I was also hampered by "suddenly attack," for which I put *LAY IN even though that's not quite right.  It's FLY AT.

We've all heard of Willie MAYS for sure, but I didn't know he made "The Catch" in the 1954 World Series.  Apparently he caught a ball that might have been a homer in other fields, but the Polo Grounds where this game took place was longer than other ballparks.

Apparently Southend-on-Sea is in ESS[EX].

"Locale of a 12/7/41 attack" is OAHU, which I guessed fairly easily but didn't know for sure.

I don't see how most Americans are supposed to know or make a reasonable guess as to what school "The Cavalier Daily" is the paper for.  It's at the UVA, or University of Virginia, and is Virginia's oldest collegiate daily.

The BART stops at SFO, which I recognized from its appearance on December 21, 2017.

I put SLR in this time without hesitation!

Streaming giant I HEART [RA]DIO appeared on September 9, 2017.

ENOKIS were explained on November 15, 2017.  Here they're clued as "mushrooms in miso soup."

Clever clues: "Movie villain with a red eye" is a great clue for HAL.  "When said three times, good name for a crew fraternity?" is pretty belabored and wordy, but still kind of amusing for RHO.  "+ and = share one" is a good way to clue KEY.  "Burned, in a way" is ON CD.  "Baby bump" is OWIE.  "Feeling in the long run?" is ACHE.  "Source of inside info?" is MRI.

SHEESH and HOO BOY!  This was hard for me.  And while the theme didn't exactly wow me, I like tackling a rebus.  It's not a SHOWY puzzle today, but then I'm not too CHO[OS]Y.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tuesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 17, 2018

My time: 4:21, beating the old record by twenty seconds!


Amanda Chung and Karl "We Are the Knights Who Say" Ni looked up in the sky and were inspired to bring us these FLYING / COLORS.  The themed answers not only start with colors, but all fly: RED BARON, GOLDEN SNITCH, GREEN LANTERN, and BLUEBIRD.

I knew the sports names today! Jeremy LIN and ALTHEA Gibson are famous enough even for me.

Even if you haven't heard of the WEBBYS, you might guess that "annual internet awards" are called that.

One thing that I didn't know at first: American Eagle clothing line AERIE.  It seems to be mostly bras and undies.

"Accident investigation org." NTSB appeared on June 21.

I'm getting used to the dreadful et ALII, and T-TOP has appeared enough that it's no longer new to me.

Clever clue: "Diamond judge" is UMPIRE.

Well, today's puzzle was super easy for me.  If you're old, like me, you remember PDAs, the pre-smartphone gadgets.  If you're a nerd, like me, you know ENID Blyton.  This puzzle was a MERE bagatelle.  I did better than NOT BAD.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 16, 2018

My time: 5:27.


Erik Agard confidently constructed this puzzle, which riffs off the animated film COCO to feature four themed answers that start with co- and co-.  These are COUNTRY CODE, COUNTERFEIT COIN, COMPLETE CONTROL ("what a micromanager would like to have") and COME CORRECT.

Apparently Australia has a national gemstone, and it's OPAL.  Known to indigenous people as the fire of the desert, it is supposedly a symbol of Australia's arid interior.  In indigenous stories, a rainbow created the colors of the opal when it touched the earth. 

"Latest dope" is POOP.  Ha!  Poop.

New to me is Indian yogurt dish RAITA.  It is made with dahi (yogurt, often referred to as curd) together with raw or cooked vegetables and seasoned with coriander or other spices.

Also totally new to me is R&B singer NE-YO, known for his singles "So Sick," "Closer," and "Miss Independent."  I'm old.

Boys' school ETON College is well-known, but it's clued today as "near Windsor."  Interestingly, it was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor." 

The Fast Life Yungstaz song "SWAG Surfin'" was referenced on April 9.

This solve took longer than I would have liked.  I'll TRI harder next time.  I'M OUT!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 15, 2018

My time: 26:01.


Kudos and plaudits for Sam Ezersky and Byron Walden, who in this puzzle clue several phrases as if they were complimentary phrases.  For example, "compliment to a lawmaker?" is OUTSTANDING BILLS.  "Compliment to a lecturer?" is SWEET TALK.  My favorite is "compliment to a vegetable gardener?" which is SMASHING PUMPKINS.  And "compliment to a charity organizer?" is SOLID FOUNDATION.

A couple of these puns didn't come to me easily because I didn't recognize the original phrases.  "Compliment to a composer?" is RADICAL MOVEMENT, which actually refers to a neophyte progressive political party in France.  "Compliment to a taxonomist?" is STELLAR CLASSIFICATION, which is a system for grading stars.   Most stars are currently classified under the Morgan-Keenan (MK) system using the letters O, B, A, F, G, K, and M, a sequence from the hottest (O type) to the coolest (M type).

In addition to this funny but sometimes tricky theme, the fill was a real bear today.  Just lots and lots of unknown material to me.  (And that's in addition to the groan-worthy stuff like "worlds external to the mind" --- NON-EGOS.  Seriously?)

Why should I know that Garth Brooks sung "THE DANCE" on Jay Leno's last "Tonight Show?" Who cares?  Why is that worth remembering?

I watched "The Flintstones" as a kid, but I'd forgotten the name of Fred's boss, MR. SLATE.

I haven't watched "Downton Abbey," so Lesley NICOL is a new name to me.  She played Mrs. Patmore.  She's been on a lot of British TV but not much else.  (I was held up for a little by this one.  The crossing clue is PRICED to sell, but I had *PRIMED to sell, which is also a phrase.  That left me with the name Lesley *NIMOL, which didn't look right, but hey, it's a name.)

"Cornbread variety named for where it's baked" had me trying to think of geographical places.  Wrong!  It's ASHCAKE, baked in hot ashes.

I'm a Thin Man fan, so I know the dog ASTA, but I didn't know he was played by a dog named Skippy.  He was a big star in his time.  He earned $250 per week at a time when most dogs were being paid about $3.50 per day.  He didn't just do the Thin Man films.  In 1937, he appeared in The Awful Truth, where he was the subject of a custody dispute between Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.

Hungarian author and 2002 Nobel winner in Literature IMRE Kertész is a household name, surely!  A survivor of Auschwitz, he lived in Germany and wrote about the Holocaust.

"Gettysburg general" is a very broad and bland clue for George MEADE, the Old Snapping Turtle who defeated Lee at that battle.

I wasn't sure about JARTS at first, but there it is.  A portmanteau of javelin darts, they have in fact been banned in the US and Canada.

Is "why, you little..." really equivalent to "SON OF A---"?  They seem to have very different implications to me.

Did you know NIGER is a major exporter of uranium?  Me neither.

Monument Avenue is a street in Richmond, Virginia, lined with statues of Confederate generals.  This trophy room of traitors hosts many quaint customs, such as the annual spring Monument Avenue 10-K race, and when the anti-American hicks in the Sons of Confederate Veterans gather along Monument Avenue dressed in absurd period military costumes and yearn for the days of slavery and privilege.  Also there is a statue of Arthur ASHE, the tennis great and Richmond native.

I'm tired of clues about what key various pieces are in.  So what if Mozart's "Odense" is in A MINOR?  Who cares?

"Alternative to Parmesan" is ASIAGO, a hard cow's milk cheese.  Asiago has a protected designation of origin, which means that the only "authentic" Asiago is produced around the alpine area of the Asiago Plateau, in the regions of Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.

Another sports guy I've never heard of is Chuck NOLL, a football coach who took the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl and won four times.

Being only familiar with the Robin Williams and Nathan Lane film version, I didn't know that LA CAGE aux Folles is set in Saint-Tropez, a village on the French coast of the Mediterranean.  I probably should have gotten this one sooner, though.

Speaking of French geography, the Quai d'Orsay is found on the left bank of the SEINE.

Yet another fact that surely every American schoolkid knows: in The Three Musketeers, D'Artagnan is from the city of TARBES!  Now seriously, how is that a reasonable clue?  Interesting trivia: the name is supposedly derived from an Ethiopian queen who founded the town after wandering dejectedly because she had been turned down romantically by Moses.

Never heard of actress GABY Hoffman, who plays Ali Pfefferman on "Transparent" and Caroline Sackler on "Girl," both of which I've never seen.

OLY is supposedly hipster-short for Olympia, a brand of beer that used to be made in Tumwater, Washington, but now is made by faceless corporate giant MillerCoors.

Today in the wide world of words, we learn that a PASTICCIO means a musical work composed of bits from other musical works.  It also means, and the musical meaning is derived from this original meaning, a dish of ground beef with noodles.

Again in the "why should we care" department: Whitney Houston's record label was ARISTA.

Apparently in New England a milkshake is called a FRAPPE?  It's pronounced "frap."  In Rhode Island a shake seems to be called a... cabinet?  That's interesting.

Actress Tess Harper I know, but author Tess Gerritsen is a new one to me.  They're both TESSES.

I'm not much of a classical music buff, so I thought I recognized the aria "Ave Maria," but the famous one is from Charles Gounod.  The clue in this puzzle refers to an aria of the same name in Verdi's OTELLO.

Tiny bone OSSICLE appeared on June 8.

On May 13, we learned that Trinidad is the southernmost of the Lesser Antilles; today we are told that BARBADOS is the easternmost!

MALALA Yousafzai was featured in the theme of June 26.

Clever clues: "Lucky strike?" is OIL (and not *ORE like I wanted it to be).  "John, Paul, or George, but not Ringo" is SAINT.  "Water cooler?" is BRIG.  "Long lines?" is EPIC POEM (which also sounds like it could be one of today's themes). "It may be checkered" is PAST.

Well, that was AWFUL.  I'm looking forward to Monday.  And SO TO bed.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 14, 2018

My time: 24:23.


Kameron Austin Collins thought up this pinwheel themeless that I found to be a real challenge.  Several obscure items and some very vague cluing combined to get me one of my slowest times in a while.

Some of the vague clues include "very busy" for ORNATE and "greasers' loves" for HOT RODS.  Also, "picks" here is a noun and refers to BETS, while "pick" is GO FOR.  One of the most devious examples of vaguery is "minds" for TENDS, as in minds the bar.  "Decline" in this puzzle doesn't mean to go down but to SEND REGRETS.  "Material" here is not stuff but an adjective, as in GERMANE.  And "wrap up" doesn't mean end but ENCASE, like Christo does.

If you only know Ebert with *SISKEL, you forgot his immediate successor, ROEPER.

Here's something I didn't know and don't care about: Banana Republic is owned by THE GAP.

"Either of two extremes in an orbit" is APSIS.  It can refer to the nearest or most distant point of an orbit.  I did not know this word.

I also didn't know that DELTA is used as a "symbol of change in math."  For example, if the variable "x" stands for the movement of an object, then "Δx" means "the change in movement."

Pope LEO I, Saint, and called the Great, was a fifth-century pope.  He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452 and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy.  He is also well-known for his eponymous Tome, a letter to Constantinople asserting that Christ has two natures.

Another new concept to me is the New York City CABARET CARD, a fascist permit required to work as an entertainer in nightclubs serving alcohol. The demeaning and arbitrary system was rescinded in 1967, due in large part to a scandal over Lord Buckley's card being seized and Frank Sinatra refusing to apply for a card or perform in New York.

Mrs. 'ARRIS Goes to Paris is a novel by Paul Gallico.  It's about the adventures of a London charwoman; it was made into a movie and followed by three sequels.  He also wrote The Poseidon Adventure.  And yet, Wikipedia notes that The Snow Goose is Gallico's "only real success."

What may follow Indiana or Illinois is DOT / EDU.

The Zapotec civilization flourished in the valley of OAXACA.  The Zapotec left archaeological evidence at the ancient city of Monte Albán in the form of buildings, ball courts, magnificent tombs and grave goods including finely worked gold jewelry.

OTC referring to stocks appeared on June 15.

Clever clues: "Ban from argument" is DISBAR.  "Its business is booming" is TNT.  "Piano trio?" is PEDALS.  "Like the best streams?" is IN HD.  "Bad things to blow" is BIG LEADS.  "Things drawn by eccentric people" is STARES, ha!

OH BABY, this was a tough puzzle, but overall I'm happy with my time, which is still lower than my all-time average.   I liked the long answers like KEMO SABE, CANDYCOAT, GAMETES, MORAL CENTER, AMATORY, and STROBE LIGHT.  A very well executed and admirably challenging Saturday!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 13, 2018

My time: 8:54, beating the old record by five big seconds!


Trenton Charlson may have got us under pressure with this puzzle that celebrates rock band ZZ TOP.  Running across the top of the puzzle are three themed answers that have double-Z: RAZZ (with the frustratingly, delightfully vague clue "ride"), PIZZA ("trattoria offering"), and FIZZ.

That's the end of the theme.  Pretty simple and to the point, just like that trio of reductive, derivative old rock-bluesmen.

I like the juxtaposition of ZOOMS OUT and ZEROES IN.

New to me: OBEAH, a spiritual and healing system (or "sorcery," as the puzzle defines it) originating in the West Indies.  Wiki: "Sometimes spelled Obi, Obeah, Obeya, or Obia, it is similar to other Afro-American religions such as Palo, Haitian Vodou, and Santería, in that it includes communication with ancestors and spirits and healing rituals. Nevertheless, it differs from religions like Vodou and Santeria in that there is no explicit canon of gods or deities that is worshiped, and the practice is generally an individual action rather than part of a collective ceremony or offering."

Note "amorphous mass" is GLOB, not *BLOB.

"Film speed letters" is ISO.  This is the current International Standard for measuring the speed of color negative film, first published in 1979, and overseen by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO in the original French, as it is headquartered in Geneva).

A KETCH is a two-masted boat, rigged fore and aft, similar to a yawl.

Salvador DALI is a household name, but have you seen his painting The Burning Giraffe?  I haven't.

Oscar Wilde is a household name, but have you read his poem "The Garden of EROS?"  I haven't.

A ZOETROPE is a sort of bowl-shaped device with slits placed uniformly around the sides, and a series of pictures depicting an action inside the bowl.  When the bowl spins, if you look through the slits the picture seems to move.  The name is composed from the Greek root words ζωή zoe, "life" and τρόπος tropos, "turning."

Did you know Vivaldi's "Spring" is a concerto in E MAJOR?  That means nothing to me, although I do love Four Seasons.

Fashion maven Geoffrey BEENE appeared on February 4.

Martial art KENDO appeared on May 2.  Here it is clued as literally meaning "sword way."  My infantile knowledge of Chinese helped me here, although it's obviously Japanese.

Bit of hardware T-NUT also appeared on May 2, then clued as "fastener with a flange."

The monetary unit krona and its 1/100th piece ORE appeared on another record-breaking Friday, May 11.

Founder of Stoicism ZENO of Citium appeared on January 17.

Clever clues: "What old records and happy-go-lucky people may do" is SKIP, ha!  "Pink, for one" is POP DIVA.  "Tiny brain?" is WHIZ KID.  "Roosevelt predecessor?" is DELANO.

And that's it for my fastest Friday ever!  So far.  But then, I'm getting AHEAD OF myself.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 12, 2018

My time: 17:43.


Let's all give Joe DiPietro a hand for this puzzle that doesn't leave us hanging.  I don't know if there's a word for puzzles that play with the grid, where instead of a rebus, which is lots of letters in one square, the answers are found outside of their place in the grid.  Maybe let's call puzzles like this outies.   Anyhoo, this one is an outie.

Playing off of the phrase HANDS DOWN ("easily"), four other phrases in the Across section have part of their answer, a part that can be combined with the word hand, hanging Down.

Par exemple.  "Clear of trees" reads as DEFOST, but crossed at the F is FORENSICS, making the answer actually DEF/ORE/ST, with forehand being the theme connection.  Then there's "Desperate Housewives" co-star EVA LORIA, actually meant to be read as EVA L/ONG/ORIA, with longhand as the theme connection.

DiPietro shows a sure hand with TREAS/URE/MAP, but I didn't much care for ENVI/RON/S ("surrounding area"), because iron hand doesn't sound very common to me.  Ruled with an iron fist, yes.  Ruled with an iron hand, not so much?

And now the fill!  There's some HELLA modern fill here, like GO ALONG, KEY IN ("record, as data"), AFRO-ASIAN ("like a sizable proportion of Caribbeans, ethnically"), TEENY, EPIC ("awesome, dude"), and my favorite, EL CHEAPOS.

"Smack dab" is SPANG, as in SPANG in the middle of something.

I have not heard a Hawaiian shirt called an ALOHA shirt before.

One of Jim Croce's lesser-known hits is "I GOT A NAME," from 1973, from the album of the same name.

Brian ENO appears in crosswords a lot, of course.  Today he's clued as composer of his 2012 album Lux, of which the tracks are "Lux 1," "Lux 2," "Lux 3," and "Lux 4."

Poet Conrad AIKEN, whose name I recalled to my own surprise, led a tragic and interesting life.  Here's a cheery number he did called "Ballad."

"Bump, in poker-speak" is RAISE.

For a flask in a lab, I put *MEYER flask, but that was a false memory on my part; I was incompletely recalling an Erlenmeyer flask.  It turns out to be DEWAR flask.  This is an insulating container invented by Sir James Dewar in 1892, consisting of two flasks, placed one within the other and joined at the neck.

Apparently in baseball a WIN  is credited to a pitcher.  Not the whole game, surely?

The Sea of AZOV is an arm of the Black Sea.  To the south it is linked by the narrow (about 4 km or 2.5 mi) Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea, and it is sometimes regarded as a northern extension of the Black Sea rather than an arm.

Salmon variety NOVA last appeared on February 20.

Clever clues: "Rack sites" is OVENS, whereas "sight on a rack" is HAT.  "Self starter?" is ESS.  "Capital of Colombia" is PESO.

NOT much new here, but that outie theme slowed me down.  I'd SAY that this was a fun puzzle.  I love the discovery of wordplay like this that's literally outside the box.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 11, 2018

My time: 6:44.


Good morning!  Michael Hawkins tries to wake up our brains with this puzzle that celebrates the SNOOZE BUTTON.  Three clued phrases have a double meaning, one of which is what happens after you hit that snooze.  "Incommunicado period" is RADIO SILENCE; "Debbie Downer" is a BUZZKILL; and "express one's opinion in no uncertain terms" is SOUND OFF.

I'll get to the rest of the fill in after just five more minutes.  Zzzz...

That's better.  I like the NEW TAKE on some older words: GHOSTED is clued as "suddenly stopped communicating with, and BOUNCE is defined as "leave, slangily."

Somewhere from the crevices of my memory I dredged up that ST. LOUIS is nicknamed "Gateway to the West," but it hasn't been featured on the blog before.  Obviously, the Gateway Arch has something to do with the epithet.  It used to be called "Mound City."  These people say Kansas City was the first Gateway to the West, and ST. LOUIS "stole" the title.

I guess I wasn't paying attention in 1995, because I didn't remember the memorable Hurricane OPAL.  It was a Category 4 storm that hit the Gulf Coast.  The name was retired in 1996.  I was in Oregon at the time so I guess it wasn't on my radar.

Know your capitals: the capital of Tasmania is HOBART.  This talisman will attract a ho, Bart.

I'm pretty sure I've seen the Spanish OYE (Here! Look here! Hey! Ho!) in a puzzle before, but I didn't blog it.

We all know an EMU is a bird, but did you know that also spells out the initials of Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti?  Now you do.

Paul KLEE has been featured before, but not for his painting Fish Magic.

Oregon shoe company AVIA appeared on September 24, 2017.

Iowa's COE College appeared on December 24, 2017.

Clever clues: "Tube traveler" is OVUM.  "Six for dinner?" is WORD LENGTH.

I thought this was unusually easy for a Wednesday. Either I'm getting better at this, or the puzzles MUSSED be getting simpler!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 10, 2018

My time: 6:44.


Today, Alex Eaton-Salners bets that we can't deal with his crazy puns.  Riffing off the beloved (?) 1980s sitcom "FULL HOUSE," he arranges three themed answers that contain, as that poker hand does, three of one letter and two of another, in a row.  GRASS SEED has, for example, three Ss and two Es.  "Do my eyes deceive me?" is WELL LOOKY THERE! which has three Ls and two Os.  Finally, there's everyone's favorite "hearty breakfast" THREE EGG OMELET.

The Agua FRIA National Monument in Arizona is a desert region around the river of the same name.  The national monument also contains ancient sites, old mines and varied animal life

In my opinion, the words SERAPHIC, INSTILLS ("inculcates"), ASSAIL, ENTRE nous, and EXCORIATED, while not so terribly abstruse on their own, all together make up for a rather challenging word cloud for a Tuesday.

"Nonkosher deli offering" is... HAM SALAD.  That was not my first guess.  Or my next five guesses.  I'm surprised that this is a real thing.

ARTUR Rubinstein, the concert pianist, appeared on June 10.

Clever clues: "Org. from which many are drafted" is NCAA.  "Longtime members of the bar?" is SOTS.  "Throws on the floor?" is AREA RUGS.  "Lip or cheek" is SASS.  "Lots of fluff?" is EFFS --- as in, the word fluff is made up primarily of Fs, so lots of the word is EFFS. 

An easy-breezy Tuesday with a very clever theme.  I thought it was very well done, and enjoyed the aha moment when it came together.  Well, I'll be on my WEIGH now.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 9, 2018

My time: 4:28.


John Lampkin has us exercising our brain cells while working our belly muscles laughing at silly puns.  "Arm exercise at a dairy farm?" is CHEESE CURLS.  "Shoulder exercise at a cutlery store?" is FORK LIFTS.  "Wrist exercise at a candy store?" is PEPPERMINT TWISTS.  "Chest exercise at a vintner's?" is WINE PRESS.  And, as the genuinely amusing capper asks, what good are all these different exercises?  DIDDLY SQUAT!

A reamer is a TOOL used in metalworking to enlarge a hole.

For "clip, as a coupon" I put *CUT OUT but that cost me some time, as it's DETACH.  I call foul on that.  They don't mean the same thing. If you DETACH something, it's perforated; you don't cut it out.  Not a great clue.

"One of four for a grand slam" is RBI.  And here I was thinking about tennis.  I didn't even know baseball used that term.

TRURO, Massachusetts, is a resort town on Cape Cod. Over half of the land area of the town is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, and administered by the U.S. National Park Service.

Lots of geography today.  The RHÔNE River runs from the Alps, through Lake Geneva in the west, down through France and into the Mediterranean Sea.

Waikiki Beach came up as an answer on June 18, and today it's part of a clue for its location, O'AHU.

I remembered that KONA is a famous coffee growing region in Hawaii, from its appearance on March 24.

The wetlands plant SEDGE came up on September 16, 2017.

Clever clue: "Good lookers?" is EYES.

Well DAM, this was a funny puzzle.  I DO not mind silly puns in my easy Monday themes.   

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 8, 2018

My time: 22:15.


Bruce Haight forged this Sunday puzzle that features word chains of "person, place, and thing," as the title indicates.  It's a simple theme, but silly and delightful.  The first themed clue is "Singer / City / Home Feature" and the answer is AL GREEN BAY WINDOWS.  "Socialite / Resort / Store" is PARIS HILTON HEAD SHOP --- whoops, that one's not for the kiddies I guess.

"Political commentator / Geographical area / Fitness routine" is OLIVER NORTH POLE DANCE.  Huh.  I guess today's puzzle is a little blue. Anyway, there are a couple of others.  My favorite is MAE WEST BANK HEIST.  Something about all those monosyllables just tickles me.

I'm not especially fond of clues that expect you to spell onomatopoeia "correctly," whatever that is.  A heavy hit is WHUMP?  Not *WHOMP?  Whoomp!  There it is.

For "princess with superpowers" I put *LEIA but it's XENA.  Well played, Haight.  But the day will be mine!

When you do a leg press, your target is your QUAD, or quadriceps femoris, a group of muscles around the thigh.

This is a sort of thing you hear or read about often, but for me it never sticks: the amount of each gas in the universe, or in Earth's atmosphere, or whatever.  The third-most abundant gas in the atmosphere is ARGON, after Nitrogen and Oxygen, and then Neon and Helium.  You can remember this by using the clever mnemonic: in the air, Nine Oxen Are Near Heat.  (In the universe, it's Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen, Neon.)

"Longtime 'Inside the NBA' analyst" is O'NEAL, as in Shaq.  Along with fellow ballers Charles Barkley and Kenny "the Jet" Smith!

I've heard of "Speed-the-Plow," but needed help that the author is David MAMET.  It's a satire of the movie business, just like one of my favorites, State And Main.

Not being a Potterhead, I did not know what Professor Trelawney is an example of.  Apparently she's a SEER.  I see 'er in the movie, don't I.

Meryl Streep played KAY Graham in the movie The Post.  Katherine Graham, first female publisher of a major American newspaper, was a real person, possibly less steely and saintly than Streep's portrayal.

I'm sure this isn't news to the ladies, but an UPDO is a hair style --- "many a pageant coif."  And UPDO to you, too, sir!

Never heard of YAKOV Perelman, Russian author of popular science books.  He is best known for his 1913 book Physics For Entertainment.

I could have sworn I've showcased this answer before, but I-BARS are girders.  Mostly called I-beams and not bars, they are also known as H-beam, w-beam, universal beam, rolled steel joist, or double-T beam.

It's hard to believe that EMO RAP is a thing, but whatever.  You do you, man.

In actual music, TUTTI is a notation meaning "all together."

The Godfather is one of the great cinematic masterpieces of all time, but I can't recall every character and what happened to them.  MOE Greene was a casino owner in Las Vegas and when he pushed against the Corleones coming into his territory, he was shot in the eye during a massage.  Whoops, spoiler!  It sure was a memorable scene, though.  As soon as I saw the last name, I remembered him.

BERYL appeared on May 13 as "emerald or aquamarine," exactly like today.

OLGA, the eldest sister in the play "Three Sisters," appeared on April 24.

The famed yearly Royal Regatta has been held in HENLEY-on-Thames since 1836, as shown way, way back on October 22, 2017.

Clever clues: "Make a good point?" is SCORE.  "Dog tag?" is FIDO.  "Some singles" is EXES.  "Primary concern" is VOTE.  "Take a few pointers?" is DOGNAP, ha!  "Try this!" is CASE.  "Flying Solo" is HAN, of course.  "Cubist of note?" is RUBIK.  "High wind" is OBOE.

G-MAN, this was really fun!  Love the word chains and WHATNOT.  ABSOLUT genius.  Well, TTYL, MATE.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 7, 2018

My time: 13:47.


Ryan McCarty constructed this ultra-modern Saturday themeless.  Some of the new fresh fill includes BUSTA Rhymes, the questionably spelled WACKY TOBACKY ("Mary Jane"), THAT'S SO NOT OK, Zayn MALIK of One Direction, and most surprisingly DANK MEME, which I'm proud to say I knew, having gotten into Reddit in the last year. 

Even some of the highbrow fill is clued in a modern way.  The Marquis de LAFAYETTE is defined as "close friend of Hamilton, in 'Hamilton'."  TALK TO ME is clued as "I wanna hear everything."

I had a little trouble with similarities and wannabes.  For "loud, as a radio" I put *ABLAST but it's ABLARE, which, duh, that's much more reasonable!  For "repeatedly hit" I put *BATTER but it's BEAT ON.  "Sorrowful cries" could have been *OYS but it's AYS.

Did you know the MAYAS used a base-20 numerical system?  Me neither.  The numerals consisted of only three symbols: zero, represented as a shell shape; one, a dot; and five, a bar. Thus, addition and subtraction was a relatively simple matter of adding up dots and bars.

American Olympic gold-winning gymnast ALY Raisman's first name gave me trouble.  I considered *OLE and *OLY.  She was a member and captain of both the 2012 "Fierce Five" and 2016 "Final Five" U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics which won their respective team competitions.   She won an individual gold medals in the 2012 games.  More recently she was in the news for bravely confronting former Olympic team physician, Larry Nassar, for his sexual assault.

Anaias NIN has featured in this blog before, for her works Winter of Artifice and Little Birds.  Today it's for her book Children of the Albatross.

Never heard of ABU-Bakr, longtime adviser to Muhammad (dbuh).  LITTLE KNOWN FACT: his full name is bū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq ‘Abdallāh bin Abī Quḥāfah.  His nickname was The Truthful One and he ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate 632-634, following Muhammad's death.

In the Bible, the BENJAMITE tribe included the clan that gave rise to King Saul.

The alliterative animated Ferocious Flea is new to me, but I recognized immediately that he must be a foe of ATOM ANT, which I used to watch when I was a kid.  I'm old.

We just had a WNBA star in the puzzle and here's another --- the fabulously named ELENA Delle Donne, a 6'5" small forward on the Washington Mystics.

APHERESIS is a function of language wherein the start of a word is lost over time through use.  For example, the snake "adder" used to be called a nadder.  Ha ha!  Nadder.  It also means the removal of blood plasma from the blood.

PHENOLS are chemical compounds, acids similar to alcohols but forming stronger hydrogen bonds.  "Phenol" is also a name for carbolic acid, a simple phenol.  Why are they found in "hospital smell?"  Phenol may have been the first surgical antiseptic. In 1865 the British surgeon Joseph Lister used phenol as an antiseptic to sterilize his operating field.

Did you know Alicia Keys had a 2007 #1 album called AS I AM?  Me neither.  I'm not a Keyhole, as her most devoted fans call themselves.

"Alley-oop starter" is LOB.  This is a basketball term, not a tennis one, as I assumed, in which one player throws near the basket and a second player catches and dunks it.

Here is the text for the Tennyson poem "You Ask me, Why, THO' Ill At Ease."

Goya's repeated subject is MAJA, a woman from the lower classes of Spain who dressed in elaborate outfits, as explained on November 13, 2017.

Clever clues: "Complete coverage?" is SKIN.  "What closes on Sundays?" is AMEN.  "One waiting for the captain?" is MESS BOY.  "Performs some light surgery?" is LASES, as in does laser surgery. "Moves at a crawl?" is SWIMS.

This was a great Saturday.  Challenging and fun.  I enjoyed ITT.  PHO sure!  Groan.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 6, 2018

My time: 12:29.


Robyn Weintraub put this one together.  There isn't a theme, but there are two answers that go across the entire length of the grid.  In the middle, from left to right is MEET IN THE MIDDLE and crossing it on the way down is RACE TO THE BOTTOM ("competition that hurts everyone").

I also liked the grid fill SCATTERSHOT ("lacking focus"), JUST KIDDING, UMPTEENTH ("sizable ordinal"), and SWEET TALK.

I've heard of the Canadian author Alice MUNRO, who won the Nobel Prize in 2013.  She is best known for her short stories.  Here is a list of ten of her best.

"ISN'T It Time" is a 1977 hit for the Babys, a British rock group I've never heard of.

They tricked me this time with "Hawaiian souvenir."  It's not *LEI, it's TAN.  You win this time, Weintraub, muttered the PASTY solver.

"Image on the Maine or South Carolina flag" is STATE TREE.  I didn't know that about Maine; its tree is the White Pine.

Another thing I didn't know was that Herbert Hoover, although born in Iowa, was brought up in Newberg, Oregon, and later SALEM, after his mother and father died.  He was raised by his uncle and aunt.

OTOE has appeared, with the same clue about Lewis and Clark, on March 7.

Wood's LOTR costar Sean ASTIN appeared (with his father John!) on November 27, 2017.

Clever clues: "one of two polar opposites" is ICE CAP.  "Ironic reaction to dry humor?" is SPIT TAKE, ha! "Got into a pickle?" is ATE.  "Drs. that see head cases" is ENTS.  "Decrease?" is IRON.

I thought this was a fairly easy Friday.  I enjoyed the border-to-border crossed clues and the several sly entries.  I did not TIRE of this puzzle and OIL try to go faster in the future.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thursday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 5, 2018

My time: 17:17.


Randolph Ross has his eye on us with today's secretive rebus.  Four squares are rebus squares, each holding the name of a three-letter acronymic agency.  So we have DATE O[F BI]RTH crossed with BAY O[F BI]SCAY.  Then there's GARDE[N SA]LE ("spring event at a nursery") crossed with BEA[N SA]LAD, ENUN[CIA]TION crossed with OJ Simpson prosecutor MAR[CIA] CLARK, and MA[DE A] SCENE crossed with ART [DEA]LER.

What do they all have in common?  They can WIRETAP us!  The Fourth of July is over.  Put away the hotdogs and resign yourself to another year of having no privacy or civil liberties.

Did you know ARABIA is the world's largest peninsula?  It's by far the biggest, at 1,250,000 square miles.

Despite having been a Pacific Northwest resident for a good long time, I have not heard of Hells Canyon.  It is a ten-mile wide canyon carved out by the Snake River, located on the border of Oregon and IDAho.

"Low draw" confused the heck out of me.  It means a score that is low in value and tied.  ONE-ALL, for example.  In tennis that's usually called 15-all but I guess you can use one also.

The Oldsmobile ALERO appeared on June 20 as the automaker's last model.  Here it is clued as "successor to the Cutlass."

The BAY OF BISCAY is called the Golfe de Gascogne in French.  Forming the west coast of France, it is what the Loire empties into.

Tennessee Williams' 1948 play "Summer and Smoke" is about three women and how they perceive and deal with matters of the heart and flesh.  ALMA Winemiller, the daughter of a minister, is the main character; she begins the play very modest and asexual and at the end of the play is transformed. 

I don't follow sports, as I mention ad nauseam, so TERESA Weatherspoon, who played in the WNBA for the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks, is unknown to me.  She is apparently one of the all-time greats of her league.

For "poor woodcutter of folklore" I'm sure we all wanted to write Geppetto but it doesn't fit!  It's ALI BABA.  I had no idea he was a woodcutter.

This puzzle had a couple of abstruse words.  "Lumpy" is NODULAR, while "pleasant glance" is GLAD-EYE.  I've never heard that phrase.  And "gene mutation results" is ALLELES.

"Once In Love With AMY" is a song by Frank Loesser.  Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra both sang it.  It originally is from a 1948 Broadway musical called "Where’s Charley?" which is based on an 1892 play, "Charley’s Aunt," by Brandon Thomas.

For "iceberg's cousin," I put *MORAINE right off and considered myself such a clever fellow!  Turns out it's ROMAINE.  I'm too vocabulary-rich for my own good.

Clever clues: "Something good to be under" is BUDGET. "Ain't right?" is ARE.  "This pulls a bit" is REIN, which is quite cryptically clever.  "Chest thumper, for short?" is EMT.  "Corn site" is TOE (and not *EAR or *COB).  "A couple of bucks?" is DEER.  "Be against" is ABUT.

This was a pretty good puzzle, not great but fun.  I always like an unexpected rebus, but I do wish there had been some kind of punchline to this one.  The capper, WIRETAP, didn't relate to the theme answers' placements or anything.  But it was fun and challenging enough.  KENYA give me an AMEN??

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 4, 2018.

My time: 6:27.


Freddie Cheng wishes us a HAPPY FOURTH in this puzzle, which celebrates the fourth item of several sets.

The names of the sets are in brackets after each themed clue.  For example, "Identifications on left-hand pages, traditionally [the Bible]" is EVEN NUMBERS.  because Numbers is the fourth book of the Bible, ha ha.  "Setting for a popular show [dimensions]" is PRIME TIME, time being the fourth dimension.  And so on.

It doesn't really help with the solve, since the clues are already there in full, and the fourths are just extra bits of information totally unnecessary to filling in the answer.  Still, it's a fun and timely theme.

And yet... I think I'd have enjoyed more of a challenge.  I think the clued could be cut and combined, such as in "not odd [the Bible]" and "grade A [dimensions]" so the theme of fourths would actually be needed to fill in the theme clues.  That way when the penny dropped it would really be gratifying.

I had no idea who Renée Fleming is, so I didn't know her performance was an ARIA.

"Letter before Peter in a phonetic alphabet" is OBOE?  Yes, but not the NATO phonetic alphabet.  In the NATO version, it's November, Oscar, Papa.  Nan, OBOE and Peter are in the 1943 Allied alphabet.

Some people use CEDAR wood in closets or just keep a piece of that wood in their closet because it's said to have insect-repelling properties.

I did not know that Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangzhou were all part of a "dense megalopolis" called the PEARL RIVER DELTA (this is a themed clue; Delta is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet).  This megacity is also known as Zhujiang Delta or Zhusanjiao, includes Chaoshan and Fuzhou, and has a combined population of something like 120 million, depending on what you're counting.

Another themed answer is BRUNO MARS (fourth planet), who is clued here as recording the 2017 Album of the Year 24K Magic.  I am not hip to the musics of today.

"Goddess who captured Orion" is EOS, who fell in love with him and took him away to Delos, until Artemis killed him, possibly out of jealousy.

The Times crossword loves tennis players!  Here it's GORAN Ivanišević, Croatian player ranked number 2 in the world in 1994.  He is the only player to have won Wimbledon as a wild card.

"Govt. debt instrument" is T-NOTE.

Indian state known for its tea ASSAM first appeared on October 26, 2017.  And then again on February 2.

Massachusetts' Cape ANN has come up a couple of times, and last appeared on January 7.

UTES has come up a lot, and always clued as "Pac-12 team."

Scottish island IONA has also come up a lot, but today is the first time it's been defined as "Macbeth's burial site."  An inventory of 1549 recorded 48 kings buried there in total, from Kenneth MacAlpin to MacBeth, made famous by Shakespeare, and his victim, Duncan, all made their final journey there, across the sound to Iona, onto the harbor, and up the Street of the Dead to the burial ground.

Clever clues: "Something a bug might produce" is ERROR.  "Handle" is TEND, as in tending to a problem and handling it.  "Small, medium, or large" is ADJ.

I liked this puzzle, with its APT topical theme.  Not too hard, not too easy.  BANG UP JOB, Freddie Cheng.  So say we all, UNA voce.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tuesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 3, 2018

My time: 5:05.


All-American cruciverbalist Christopher Adams brings the patriotism a day early in this Tuesday's puzzle.  Three American League baseball teams are clued to to celebrate the colors of our flag: BOSTON / RED SOX, CHICAGO WHITE SOX, and TORONTO BLUEJAYS.  Hey, Toronto is in Canada, you pinko!  Anyway, baseball is the chosen sport for these colors because it's our NATIONAL PASTIME.

Frankly I find it hard to celebrate America when we have a disgusting uneducated narcissistic nepotistic sexual predator, Russian-backed puppet, and wanna-be dictator installed in the White House, using the Constitution for toilet paper (trial judges? due process? the Emoluments Clause? what are those?).  But onward we go.

"Course in which to determine a curve's slope" is CALC.

I'm surprised Jean ARP hasn't been featured in this blog before, but he's not exactly a new name to me.  Mustache Hat kind of looks like a Pac-Man ghost.

Never heard of PEDRO Martinez, three-time Cy Young winner, a Dominican-American pitcher who played for the Red Sox, among others.

Continuing the baseball theme, "Montreal nine, once" is EXPOS, last seen April 6.  Martinez played for them to great acclaim.

On a Houston Astros cap you will find a STAR.

And still in baseball, the expression RIDE the bench is new to me.

Battery terminal ANODE appeared on May 16, clued then as "what a current flows through."  Remember CLAIM, for "Cathode Leaving, Anode Into Machine."

Actress ISSA RAE appeared on September 11, 2017.  Here she is clued as the costar on HBO's "Insecure."  She is also the show creator and her character's name is Issa Dee.

The answer EARL for "title below marquess" appeared on January 5.  From the bottom up it's baron, viscount, earl, marquess, duke.  Remember this handy mnemonic: Bears voraciously eat mallard ducks.

Clever clues: "Result of going bumper to bumper?" is DENT.  "Fetal position?" is WOMB.

LET'S SEE now... This one WENT pretty quickly.  Not too much new material and a pleasing theme that helps with the solve. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Monday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 2, 2018

My time: 4:16.


Evan Kalish tells us, "Let's just keep this between us" because IT'S A SECRET.  Five themed answers each hide a word that goes with the word secret.  PASTA SHELL has a secret stash.  PEASANT ARMY ("militia of farmers") surrounds secret Santa.  WHAT A GENTLEMAN may also be a secret agentMARKUP LANGUAGE ("it may allow a text document to be displayed on a web page" --- such as HTML) displays a secret plan.  And PRIME NUMBER hides a secret menu.

For "sir's counterpart" I wanted to put *LADY or *DAME but it's MA'AM.

I've heard of Comcast's Xfinity, but not Verizon Fios; they are both ISPs.

Speaking of technology, I'm old enough to remember using computer connection protocol TELNET; are you?

Poi has appeared a couple of times.  On September 29, 2017, we learned it is mashed TARO root.  On November 1, 2017, it was called a Polynesian finger food.

"Today" co-host HODA Kotb last appeared on May 8.

This one was an easy, short and sweet Monday.  I almost did it INN record time.  What a NERD.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 1, 2018

My time: 26:38.


Sam Trabucco mapped out this puzzle, which is about "Driving Around."  That preposition turns out to have a double meaning, as in driving around something else, not just driving about aimlessly.  You can't make sense of it unless you get "it's left on a highway," which is the PASSING LANE.

This indicates that several themed Across answers must be read not linearly, but with a zig over to the top, past the vehicle name found in the original answer.  For example!  "Trying to show no sign of life" reads a PLAYING CARD.  But if you pass the car (reading across the top, which is the left as you read forward), you get PLAYING [DEA]D.  The dea comes from the answer above, NOT A BIG DEAL.

"Began a PC session" reads as LOG CABIN, but if you pass the cab on the left, it's LOG[GED] IN.  The ged part of the answer comes from the cleverly clued STAGE DOOR ("show out?").

"Big character?" is a joke and a theme.  The answer reads as BLOCKBUSTER, but it's really BLOCK [LET]TER.

Last example: "bottle for a beachgoer" reads as STRUCK OIL, but if you pass the truck on the left, you put the answer together: S[UNTAN] OIL.  Untan comes from UNTANGLE, above.

Mostly what took up my time and mental power in this puzzle was the theme.  On to the fill!

Guido RENI was a 17th century Baroque painter.  Some of his best known works are Massacre of the Innocents and Crucifixion of St. Peter.

Not being a Potterhead, I didn't know Lily Potter's maiden name.  It's EVANS.  Why is her middle initial J?

"Relating to gaps" frustrated me.  I instantly knew it was related to the word lacuna, but I couldn't get the form right.  *LACUNIC?  *LACUNAE?  It's LACUNAR.  That wouldn't have been in my top five guesses.

Sam ERVIN was a Democratic senator from North Carolina.  An interesting figure, he championed Jim Crow and segregation laws, and then suddenly switched to being a defender of civil rights.  He also worked to investigate and bring down both Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon.

Does GET LIT really mean "go on a drinking spree"?

A tool for undoing stitches is called a SEAM RIPPER.

Senectitude means OLD AGE.

"Nerd's epithet for the president?" is ANAGRAM.  That is, thepresident is an ANAGRAM for nerdsepithet and vice-versa.

I have never heard the phrase RUN GOOD to mean have a streak of favorable luck.  How ya running?!

Spanish muralist José Maria Sert appeared on April 5.  So "certain Spanish murals" are SERTS.

Did you know that TV drama "THIS Is Us" airs on NBC-TV?  Me neither.

I was told there would be no geography: The capital of Okinawa is NAHA.  It is very southerly, on an archipelago.

The physical exercise HATHA yoga appeared on November 26, 2017.

ANA Navarro appeared on December 17, 2017.

Here's 'Vette option T-TOP again!

Clever clues: "Fair" is EXPO.  "Green surroundings?" is TRAPS.  "Had a leading role?" is USHERED.  "It may bring a tear to one's eye" is DUCT.  "Match makers?" is SETS.

HEY, this was a SRSLY interesting puzzle!  I enjoyed the theme, which baffled me for quite some time.  It was a TIGHT RACE against time, but then there was a terrific a-ha moment when it all clicked.