Showing posts with label Brendan Emmett Quigley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brendan Emmett Quigley. Show all posts

Mar 12, 2010

Friday March 12, 2010 Brendan Emmett Quigley

Theme: Yiddishisms - Letter strings SCH are added to common phrases to make them sound Yiddish.

19A: Low-quality trumpets and trombones?: SCHLOCK HORNS. Schlock means cheap; trashy. Idiom: Lock horns. The Lockhorns are one of my favorite comics.

35A: "How many fools do we have here?"?: "ONE SCHLUMP OR TWO?". In your tea, "one lump or two?" A Schlump is a dull, colorless person.

50A: Grades in standup comedy class?: SCHTICK MARKS. Tick Marks are like inventory and checking off an item as you count it. Schtick (there are various spellings) is characteristic attribute, talent, or trait that is helpful in securing recognition or attention.

Argyle here. And a Brendan Emmett Quigley puzzle. I'm speechless.

Theme entries are pretty light for a Friday - our Add/Delete/Replace a letter/letters puzzle day. It allows for plenty of non-theme long fill. The triple stacked of 9s in the upper right and lower left corners and the two 11s Downs should delight many.


1A: Pilot producer: HONDA. A crossover SUV from the Japanese auto maker.

6A: Deep-sixed: TOSSED OUT. Word origin of deep six: only from the 1940s, originally nautical slang, "to throw overboard", perhaps a reference to the usual grave depth of six feet but the ocean being much deeper. Paraphrased from Online Etymology Dictionary.

15A: "Are we __?": Sondheim lyric: A PAIR. A bit of "Send in the Clowns", a song by Stephen Sondheim from the 1973 musical "A Little Night Music". (Wikipedia)

16A: They make lots of contacts: OPTICIAN. Contact lenses.

17A: Old Renault: LE CAR. A troubled American Motor Corp. teemed with French auto maker to import the compact,
Le Car. It was said, if a Le Car wasn't rusty, it hadn't left France yet.

18A: Lucille Ball was one, slangily: CARROT-TOP. Someone with red hair.

21A: Greek liqueur: OUZO. Greece's most popular drink, is an anise-flavored spirit.

22A: Con lead-in: NEO. Neo-con, shortened version of neoconservative.

23A: Metric wts.: KGs. One kilogram approximately is equal to 2.2 pounds.

26A: Letters on old rubles: CCCP. As found on their old coins, Cyrillic Russian initialism СССР for Союз Советских Социалистических. We knew them as USSR.

28A: Slight push: NUDGE.

31A: Squire: GENT. An English country gentleman, esp. the chief landed proprietor in a district. Or the man with the biggest spread (33A: Spread unit: ACRE.) as we might say here in the states.

32A: Sound from the bleachers: "RAH!". Or "BOO!" from the other side.

34A: Man with a mission: FRIAR. A member of a religious order, esp. the mendicant orders of Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, and Augustinians. These orders often established missions.

39A: "Christina's World" painter: WYETH. American artist Andrew Wyeth's
Christina's World

40A: Criticize: CARP.

41A: [snicker]: HEH.

42A: Drooping part of a Concorde: NOSE. The SST had a distinctive "droop snoot" lowering nose section for visibility on approach.

43A: Cheri who portrayed a "Morning Latte" co-host on "SNL": OTERI.
With Will Ferrel.

45A: Hard-earned degs.: PHD. Doctorates

46A: Bring action against: SUE.

47A: VII x LXXIII: DXI. 7x73=511

48A: Happy Meal choice: COLA.

55A: Ingredient in green salsa: TOMATILLO. The tomatillo or husk-tomato is a plant cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala.

58A: "Giant Brain" unveiled in 1946: ENIAC. Early computer.

59A: Wading, perhaps: ANKLE DEEP. Unless you step over a drop-off, then you're swimming.

60A: "Soon It's __ Rain": "The Fantasticks" song: GONNA. The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical. Check out the Wikipedia entry for the story line, It's to complex to put here.

61A: Messy places: RAT'S NEST. What mom used to call my hair if it got too long. Alas, both my mom and my hair are both gone now.

62A: Second of the five stages of grief: ANGER. The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the five stages of grief, are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance


1D: Dutch artist Frans: HALS. Frans Hals (1580 – 1666) was a Dutch Golden Age painter especially famous for portraiture.
Young Man with a Skull

2D: 12-member cartel: OPEC.

3D: Tortilla chip topping: NACHO CHEESE.

4D: Slow online connection: DIAL UP. I could never go back to dial-up.

5D: Pollo partner: ARROZ. Arroz con Pollo ("rice with chicken" in Spanish).

6D: Clock sound: TOCK. Hands up for tick first.

7D: Hawaiian food fish: OPAH. (also known colloquially as moonfish, sunfish, kingfish, redfin ocean pan, and Jerusalem haddock)

8D: Undiluted: STRONG.

9D: "Yes __!": SIRREE.

10D: Cut-rate, in company names: ECONO. Like drive your Econo Car rental to your Econo Lodge for the night.

11D: A Morse "I" requires two: DITS. The sound Morse code, DIT DAH, but written out as dots and dashes.

12D: Nosebag bit: OAT. Having a little

13D: Game with a discard pile: UNO.

14D: 1/48 cup: Abbr.: TSP.. Teaspoon.

20D: Large sea snail: CONCH. The shell you see them blowing in the movies.

23D: "The Radiant Baby" pop artist: KEITH HARING. Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) was an artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s.(Wikipedia)
His Most Famous Icon

24D: Ate like a mouse: GNAWED.

25D: Brand owned by Pabst: STROH'S. Beer. Pabst is Brenda's favorite brand.

26D: Ceremonial headgear: CROWNS.

27D: Favor asker's opening: "CAN YOU".

29D: Google hit datum: URL. Internet address letters.

30D: Score before ad in: DEUCE. Tennis talk.

31D: "I'm mad!": "GRR!".

33D: Dresden "D'oh!": "ACH!". I wonder which Homer says on German TV.

34D: Clotheshorse: FOP. —Synonyms- dandy, coxcomb, popinjay, peacock, swell, dude. Mostly English terms, hey what?

36D: Abbr. in Québec place names: STE (Sainte). Québec is the French-speaking (and thinking) province of Canada.

37D: Make a dent in: MAR. Like a car's finish.

38D: Puncture: PRICK.

43D: Durable leather: OX-HIDE.

44D: Best-seller list entries: TITLES.

45D: Expect: PLAN ON.

47D: Plane that competed with Lockheed's L-1011: DC-TEN.

49D: Last in a series: OMEGA. Greek alphabet series.

50D: Baseball's Maglie and Bando: SALS.

51D: "Sorry if __ you down": I LET. And
ON A (56D: __ trial basis). Easy fill-in partials.

52D: Police: COPS.

53D: Rosebud's owner, in film: KANE. Don't anybody tell what Rosebud was; make 'em watch "Citizen Kane".

54D: War memento: SCAR.

55D: Old salt: TAR. Both slang for sailors.

57D: NASDAQ, e.g.: MKT.. Stock market.

Answer grid.


Dec 23, 2009

Interview with Brendan Emmett Quigley

Those who solve NYT & the Onion puzzles regularly are probably very familiar with Brendan Emmett Quigley and his cool contemporary puzzle style.

Since August 1996, Brendan has had 124 puzzles published by NY Times alone. His works have also appeared in LA Times, NY Sun, Newsday, The Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, etc. He also authored over thirty different books. In his website, Brendan offers very topical and off-beat puzzles every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

In my previous interviews, Dan Feyer, Rex Parker and Merl Reagle all mentioned Brendan as one of their favorite constructors. Hope you enjoy these few glimpses into the mind of a very talented and successful crossword constructor.

To many LAT-only solvers, this is our first encounter with you since the TMS switch last March. What is your background and how did you get into crossword construction?

Back when I was in college, I had a really shitty summer job: I photocopied cases for a law firm. In the summer leading up to my senior year, there was a new policy implemented that forbade us from listening to the radio while we did this shitty job. Since I needed something to distract myself somehow, I turned to the New York Times crossword. I'd never solved one before, but in those three months of dutifully doing them every day, I got hooked. When I went back to school (UNH), I decided to try my hand at making them. Through dumb luck, the first one I made, I sold to the New York Times. And I've been selling them to, well, just about everybody in those 13 years since.

As a professional puzzle constructor, what is a typical day like for you? And what are common misconceptions people have about you?

After I kiss my wife Liz goodbye (she's a psychologist), I make the back-breaking eight step commute to my office in our condo. After doing all the daily puzzles and reading all the crossword blogs, (as well as some news sites, sports sites, music sites, etc.), I'll tackle whatever puzzle needs to be done that day, whether it's one for my blog, a one-off for a client, or for the regular syndicates I sell to. Of course, the muse hardly ever speaks to me at in morning. So it's usually more web-surfing. Researching ideas. IM-ing. etc. I almost always get my groove going only well into the afternoon, and it is without fail that I'm really firing on all cylinders when Liz comes home from work.

As for common misconceptions, I'm taller than people imagined.

What is the highlight of your construction career and what is the best puzzle you've made? Why?

There's been a bunch of highlights, I think. It's kind of tough to pick just one. Well, if we limit it to just this year: My blog took off, I was honored to have a puzzle in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament; I think my book of diagramless crosswords came out fantastic; plus I made puzzles that were referenced on episodes of "Jeopardy!," and "Sunday Night Football" (two different puzzles).

We seem to get a lot of "Word that preceeds/follows ... " style puzzle theme in LA Times. What's your view on this trend and what kind of theme really appeals to you as a solver?

I wrote a controversial post for my blog, "Ten Bullshit Themes." I had that "word that precedes/follows" gimmick at #5. It's not bad in and of itself, it just seems a little half-baked.

What themes work? Stuff we haven't seen before. Innovation. Up to the minute references. Humor.

As a constructor, what makes an non-theme entry spark? The freshness? Scrabbliness? Boldness? I'd like to know your definition and standard of an excellent fill.

Fill should be never before seen stuff. Since a lot of puzzles nowadays are computer assisted, a lot of us puzzlemakers have the same databases. So a lot of the so-called "fresh stuff" (the scrabliness, the up-to-date-stuff) that are in the database tend to keep coming up again and again. Seems like constructors nowadays aren't really that interested in being the first to use certain entries. Well, I don't want to make a blanket statement and say everybody doesn't like to go fresh, but we know who they are.

What's your view on grids with low word/block count or those who really stretch the rules of construction?

Cluing a puzzle is a necessary evil, so if I can get a lower word count I'd much rather go that route. Besides, if you have a more open grid, there's a better chance that you can get those new fresh entries in there.

You are a very creative and prolific constructor, where do you get your inspirations? What kind of books/magazines/websites do you read?


My Inspirations? All the usual places. Day to day life, things I might read, things Liz might say, etc.

I just started Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice." The only magazine I read is "Wired." Websites? ESPN, SI, Pitchfork, Drudge, PopDose, the Gawker media pages, Rex Parker, Crossword Fiend, etc.

What kind of puzzle do you solve every day? And who are your favorite constructors?

Well, I solve the New York and LA Times puzzles every day. I'm also a massive sudoku nut. Lately, I've been turned onto Thomas Snyder's beautiful handmade (!) sudoku puzzles.

As for favorite constructors? The list is enormous. But let me share this. I was chatting with Francis Heaney, who is a top-flight editor as well as puzzlemaker, about Patrick Berry's latest tour-de-force. Except I was being a doofus, and I didn't refer to Patrick by name. Instead I called him "The Crossword Jesus." Francis interpreted that sobriquet as belonging to Frank Longo, who, let's face it is another god among men. So I could easily have been referring to Frank. Then I was thinking about it later, Mike Shenk could stake a claim as "The Crossword Jesus" as well. Maybe we could get some panel discussion sometime of those three guys: "The Three Crossword Jesuses," I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but those guys are all awesome.

What are your planning for 2010 construction-wise? Any special books?

I'm just planning on expanding the blog's empire.

Wednesday December 23, 2009 Brendan Emmett Quigley

Theme: G-CLEF (69A. Staff figure, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 37-, 53- and 59-Across) - The first words of the theme answers - Every Good Boy Does Fine - yield the mnemonic for EGBDF, the notes on the lines of the treble clef.

17A. 1989 Bobby Brown hit: EVERY LITTLE STEP. Have never heard of the song. Bobby Brown is the ex-husband of Whitney Houston.

23A. "Well played!": GOOD GAME

37A. Culture Club lead singer: BOY GEORGE. He seems to be in legal trouble all the time.

53A. Serves a sentence: DOES TIME

59A. Metaphorical search tool: FINE-TOOTHED COMB

Very nice successive order!

Today's constructor Brendan Emmett Quigley is also a musician. He plays for the band Boston Typewriter Orchestra in his spare time. And he tends to sprinkle various music/musician/band references in his puzzles. So, besides the music theme and the two music related theme clues, we also have:

58A. "Watermark" musician: ENYA. I liked her "May It Be".

4D. Singer Grant: AMY

25D. "__ in a Manger": AWAY. Lovely (Celtic Woman).

26D. "Watermelon Man" musician Santamaría: MONGO. Total stranger to me. Wikipedia describes him as an Afro-Cuban Latin jazz percussionist.

35. __ voce: softly: SOTTO. Literally "under" in Italian.

57D. Rapper Snoop __: DOGG

60D. "Discreet Music" composer Brian: ENO

How was your solving experience today? The new words/names, the trickiness of the clues and the D'oh moments all felt like a Friday puzzle to me. Maybe I was just not in the constructor's wavelength.


1. Civil War org.: CSA (Confederate States of America)

4. Multilevel marketing giant: AMWAY. Huge presence in China. AVON too.

9. Political pamphlet: TRACT

14. Witch: HAG

15. Thanksgiving decoration: MAIZE. Indian corn.

16. "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speaker: HENRY (Patrick). I confused him with Ethan Allen.

20. Cunning trick: WILE. Wrote down RUSE first.

22. Suffix with cyan-: IDE. Cyanide. Blue color I presume.

28. Dinar spenders: IRAQIS. IRANIS too. This puzzle is only one letter J away from a pangram.

30. Caterer's container: URN. For Coffee.

32. Military action?: SALUTE. Oh, the greeting. I was picturing the real military action.

33. Stir-fry additive: MSG. Not in my stir-fry.

36. Licensing prerequisite, often: TEST

40. This, to Ricardo: ESTO. Also ESTA.

43. "What the Butler Saw" playwright: ORTON (Joe). No idea. I've never heard of the playwright or the play.

44. Did nothing: SAT

47. Page size with four leaves: QUARTO. New word to me. Makes sense, since quart- is Latin prefix for "four".

50. Words to a backstabber: ET TU. "Et tu, Brute?", Caesar's rebuke to Brutus.

51. Brit. monarch's title: HRH

52. Disentangle: UNKNOT

55. Soreness?: IRE. Without the question mark, the clue will be valid too.

56. Certain candidate's goal, briefly: PHD. Got me.

65. Unanimously: AS ONE

66. Icy look, maybe: GLARE. Tiger Wood's cold glare can be very intimidating.

68. Gas used in arc lamps: XENON. Noble gas. Rooted in "xeno", prefix for "alien"/"foreign".


1. Some baseballers do it all game long: CHEW GUM. Yes indeed.

2. Redeemers: SAVIORS

3. Lasting quite a while: AGELONG

5. Adjusted opening?: MAL. Maladjusted. Nailed it.

6. Game system played with gestures: WII. Nintendo.

7. AIDS-fighting drug: AZT. The name escaped me again.

8. Bigfoot cousin: YETI. The Abominable Snowman.

9. Second Amendment-supporting gp.: THE NRA. And THE ABCS (46. What preschoolers learn). I think one THE is enough for a grid.

10. __ judicata: decided case: RES. Latin for "thing". Res judicata = a thing adjudicated, a decided case.

11. Many an auction piece: ANTIQUE

12. Movie trailer?: CREDITS. The film enders. Very clever clue.

13. Prepare for printing: TYPESET

19. "Family Guy" mom: LOIS. Stumper. I wonder if our Lois knows.

24. Helicopter's predecessor, briefly: GIRO. Or Gyro, right?

29. Der __: Adenauer epithet: ALTE. Konrad Adenauer's nickname. Der Alte is German for "the old man".

37. Delivered: BORN

39. Migratory antelopes: GNUS. Had no idea that they migrate.

40. Big name in credit reports: EQUIFAX. Wikipedia says it's considered one of the three largest American credit agencies along with Experian and TransUnion. Not a familiar name to me at all. Credit/CREDITS duplication, though of different meanings.

41. Dawn follower: SUNRISE. Wanted MORNING.

42. Hired: TAKEN ON. Did the answer come to you immediately?

44. Classic shoe polish brand: SHINOLA. Nope. Have never heard of the brand.

45. Stereotypical toy soldier: ARMY MAN. Not enough blanks for my GI JOE.

48. Hit list: TOP TEN

49. Roman emperor in 69 A.D.: OTHO. The emperor with a short three-month reign. Tripped me again.

54. Private eye, briefly: TEC (Detective)

61. Dr. Mom's forte: TLC

62. "2001" computer: HAL

63. Before, in verse: ERE. Simple palindrome.

64. OED offering: DEF (Definition). I am using Webster's New World College Dictionary. How about you?

Answer grid.