Saturday, 1/2/10

NYT Untimed (PG)
Newsday Untimed (Jeffrey)
LAT 9:53 (Sam)
CS untimed

Happy New Year, everybody! PuzzleGirl here to kick off today’s puzzle discussion. I’m only writing up the NYT today, so I think that means I get to go first. The others (I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure who) will be along shortly. So here we go ….

Robert H. Wolfe’s New York Times crossword

Picture 12I am SO far behind on my puzzles. We had company last weekend then PuzzleHusband and I traveled for a couple days this week and were super, super busy the whole time. I hate doing the puzzles out of order, but figured I was going to have to since I committed to blogging this one. Then I got an email from Orange telling me this puzzle was very difficult, as evidenced by relatively big numbers on the applet, so I decided I would just skip the solving part and go straight to the blogging part. It feels like total cheating but I figure it’s better than emailing Crosscan or joon or someone and asking them to cover for me at the last minute (which I admit I considered because thoughtfulness is not my best thing).

Looks like four separate puzzles to me and for some reason I’m finding it hilarious that it’s all held together with OGEE [Sigmoid architectural feature] and TRAS [Skipping syllables]. I’ll just go ahead and get the clunky stuff out of the way first. Obviously, in a grid like this you’re going to have to make some compromises and sometimes that means the inclusion of “odd jobs.” Today’s odd jobs are ENTERERS [People working with logs?], SEATERS [Those who put you in your place?], and ATTAINER [Goal getter]. I was going to include POLLUTERS but, in addition to having a pretty cool clue — [They’re not green] — this actually seems like a word a person might use in conversation. The other ugly spot was, of course, PROSED [Wrote an essay, say]. I’m sure it’s a perfectly legitimate word or it wouldn’t be in the puzzle, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

In addition to the speed-bumps already mentioned, I saw a couple WTF words that I’m seriously dying to know if any of you have ever heard before. YTTRIA? Oh sure, it’s that oxide. You know, the one used in television tubes. Who doesn’t know that?! And ORACHE? I don’t even understand the clue on that one [Spinachlike potherb]. Once I look past those, though, I do some stuff that’s pretty fun. I mean, who doesn’t like to see a good GASBAG in the puzzle now and then? ESOTERIC is a cool word. What do you guys think of ON RUNNERS for [How most sleds are mounted]? I’m a fan of the prepositional phrase answer, but I’m guessing there are some people who would take the other side of that argument.

And finally … you know what I’ve been saving for last, right? REEFER! With the clue [One getting hit on?]! I just knew that Grey Lady still had some sass in her.

Bob Peoples’s Los Angeles Times Crossword – Sam’s review

LAT 01022010This freestyle offering has a relatively low word count (66 isn’t as low as the 58 from today’s NYT, granted, but it’s still low), but it gets clogged in the center: only two white quares connecting the western half to the eastern half. If you get stuck at either gate, you could be hosed. Fortunately, the clues around each narrow passageway are easy enough to facilitate a smooth solve.

As one would expect, the triple-stacked 10s contain some great entries. The NW features I BELIEVE SO, the [Hedged reply] at 1-Across, with CON ARTISTS and IN THE STARS immediately below. The SE has HAIRPIECES (cleverly clued as [Locks out of a store?]), OLD MINE CUT diamonds, and GLASS DOORS. The old mine cut diamonds were new to me, as my knowledge of jewelry is limited to cuts of cubic zirconia. Other bright spots in the fill included: the SPRUCE GOOSE, the [Flying boat built by Hughes Aircraft]; GABFEST, the [Gathering with much rapping] (anyone else think of freestyle rap competitions at first blush?); and BAR NONE next to ATE IT UP. I was less enthused with ESTEEMING, CIE, and [“Carmina Burana” composer] Carl ORFF directly atop the [Andrews Sisters hit], “BEI Mir Bist Du Schoen.” That’s just ugsome. But overall, the fill is pretty clean and interesting.

The clues were fairly easy. Believe me, when I can crack a freestyle in under ten minutes, it has to be on the easy side. I’m guessing speedsters like Amy will clock in around the 2:40 – 3:20 mark on this one. Though maybe too many clues were easy, some were pretty fun. I liked [Image adjusters] for PR FIRMS, since my first and second thought related to camera equipment. [Cold fish, so to speak] is a tricky little clue for ICICLES. I rarely think of a cold, unemotional person as an icicle, but my dictionary does. I even like [They travel a great distance to get here] as a clue for ETS.

The only troublesome spot for me was where the completely-foreign-to-me GAMBADO, the [Long legging attached to a saddle], crosses both MERES, the [Metz mothers] and the [I.Q. test pioneer] Alfred BINET. Anytime I see a 5-letter entry clued with “I.Q.,” I think Mensa, but that clearly would not work. And I could kick myself for sputtering so long on MERES since just yesterday I was considering that word for a freestyle puzzle of my own that’s currently under construction. Me gusta las palabras en espanol, no en frances. Cest la vie.

Updated Saturday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sleep On It”—Janie’s review

If one had to judge from this puzzle’s theme, one might describe our Sarah as the “retiring” type. I mean, she suggests we “sleep on it” and then spells out at 60A what “it” is: MATTRESSES [What the first words of 18-, 23-, 40-, and 51-Across can describe]. But judging from the robust theme-fill, I’d have to say otherwise. It comes on strong with:

  • 18A. TWIN SISTER [Ann Landers, to Abigail Van Buren]. Eppie and Popo. Nothin’ retiring about those gals either.
  • 23A. FULL NELSON [Arm-locking wrestling hold]. In the event you find yourself in one, here’s how ya get out!
  • 40A. QUEEN ANNE BOLEYN [Second wife of Henry VIII]. a/k/a Anne of the Thousand Days. Nothin’ retiring about this one either, though Henry did retire her in a most unbecoming way. In the movie A Man for All Seasons, she was portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave, whose sister makes it into today’s puzzle, crossing Queen Anne Boleyn in LYNNS [Actress Redgrave and football’s Swann].
  • 51A. KING COTTON [Personification of an important Southern crop]. Excellent. You’d have heard this term a lot around the time of the Civil War especially. John Philip Sousa got in the act some thirty years after, delivering the “King Cotton March,” yet another tribute to the crop.

So there ya have it: twin-, full-, queen– and king-sized mattresses. I’m sure that you, like Goldilocks, will find one that’s “just right.”

As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to talk about the lengthening of the days. It started almost two weeks ago. And then today, Sarah dropped EDT [NYC summer clock setting] in the grid. Guess what, folks? Only nine weeks to go! ‘Til then–and definitely after in these parts…–we’ll probably still have ample opportunity to experience HUMID weather [Like a snowy day].

As the winner of an Oscar and a Pulitzer, and a two-time Tony-nominee, surely there must be more that can be noted of William INGE besides his being the playwright of Picnic. This is his second appearance in the puzzle this week and the second use of Picnic in the cluing process…

On the other hand, I definitely enjoyed seeing DELI clued with [Salami hangout?]. Get the picture? Ditto “I FORGOT!” with [“My memory’s shot!”]. A couple of weeks ago I received an email that captured that very sentiment. I was able to find a website or five that had the message I received, and I’d like to share it with you. It’s called “A Beautiful Message about Growing Old,” though when I forwarded it, I changed “Old” to “Older.” No need to add insult to injury.

Now, what were we talking about?…

Anna Stiga (Stan Newman)’s Newsday “Saturday Stumper” Crossword

Link to Solution (pdf)

Jeffrey here. At the special super-top-secret meeting held at Fiend Central to allocate the workload for the holidays, everyone was happy to do any puzzle. Except one. Two Fiends said they “suck” at the Saturday Stumper. Since they were quicker than me, here I am with the task.

This post will be a little different. I’ve turned off the timer, and will take you on my journey as far through the Stumper as I can get. Hopefully, this won’t be the first puzzle in Fiend history to be incomplete.

Here are my entries in order. I’ve omitted the clues for space concerns. Items in red were wrong.

13D.erase DIRTIER/23D.PUNKS/26A.JUL/32A.SANK/29A.HUN(26D.JUNE)/34A.erase DEGREES/
1A.”—OR”/1D.SUCCEED/15A.”UN”/35D.TAKE OFF/35D.erase TAKE OFF/56A.IN AN/
34A.TISSUES/41A.UNION/32D.”MAN”/32D.erase “”MAN”/23A.PETRUCHIO/8D.erase TONSIL/
48A. erase DELE/34A.erase PLAQUES/54A. VIEW/56A. erase IN AN/35D. REVERIE/

Done!! anyone make similar errors?

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27 Responses to Saturday, 1/2/10

  1. PhillySolver says:

    I stopped at 40 minutes realizing I could not finish the last bit of the SE. Fail… but I enjoyed the other 3/4ths of the struggle.

  2. Sam Donaldson says:

    Today’s NYT was brought to you by the letters T, A, and E, and by the number 58. I’m proud that I conquered the SW and NE corners of the NYT in relatively good time. But the NW and SE corners did me in. As 58-worders go, this one feels relatively fresh. That said, I’ll take a 64+-worder with more familiar phrases and knotty clues any day.

    P.S. – I have heard of yttria, but orache makes my pores itch. Believe it or not, that last part rhymes.

  3. Mike says:

    A toughie! That REEFER clue doesn’t quite parse for me. How is reefer “One getting hit on?”

    Reefer the drug isn’t hit on… you take hits of it. And someone who smokes it isn’t getting hit on. Seems like it would have to be “One getting his hit on” to work. Am I alone here?!

  4. sbmanion says:

    SE was the first to fall for me. I knew YTTRIUM (there is also YTTERBIUM) and assumed it was TYROS and not ANTIS. Solved it SE, SW, NW, NE. I put in PEN NAME for CROSS, which I thought was better than the actual answer.

    A tough but steady grind for me.


  5. Karen says:

    And I got the NW and SE bits in good time, but got really hung up on the NE section.

    Yttrium and ytterbium (and erbium and terbium) show up in elemental trivia fairly often, having all been named after the same location. But I did need almost all the crossings.

  6. foodie says:

    For me, the West fell easily and the East remained very spotty until I had to cheat. That YTTRIA/ ORACHE neighborhood was near impossible..

    Thanks Puzzle Gir! I understand how it feels to be super busy and fall behind on the puzzles. Yet you managed to step in when Orange and Rex need you! Most impressive.

  7. tabstop says:

    Yttria was my downfall as well, since I figured the word form would be “yttric oxide” (I skipped chemistry in both HS and college). So I was left with sectors instead of seaters (since oracho/orache both are equally good to me as well). I had to google ESTES to get started in the NE, since all I had was yesman and a succession of incorrect repetitive rebukes (nonono, tsktsk).

  8. larry says:

    I can’t think of anything involving the chemical elements without recalling fondly Tom Lehrer’s PERIODIC TABLE SONG, which can easily be found on YOUTUBE by typing “periodic table”. Yes YTTRIUM is there.

  9. Tuning Spork says:

    Slogged through this virtually google-proof puzzle.

    Had FARADS for FERMIS in the NW for awhile. In the NE I had GASBAG, SLIPPERY and HOLY right away, but had CHAPEL for TEMPLE which made that corner a looong haul.

    Who calls a bus driver a “conductor”? I’m thinking music and trains and it turns about to be BUSLINE. Wha?

    SE was the last to fall. All I had was ANTIS and SITTER for a while until I thought of TYROS, which gave me REPAST, SEATERS and TOOTLE (lucky guess). Then nothing for half-an-hour until I looked up YTTRIA and the entire corner fell in about 20 seconds.

    The SW fell earlier, but took too long because, while having ON RUNNERS correct, I had FOR FUN for IN TUNE (I wasn’t married to it, but couldn’t think of anything better at the time), OPINED for PROSED (yes, it’s a word) which led me to ORPHANS for NORMANS.

    How could a monarch be an orphan? Why, if he ascended to the thrown as a child and his mother was already dead. A child with no living parents being cared for by a host of organized professionals = orphan. Made sense at the time.

    Then I got CUISINES, which is clued as [Mexican and Indian, e.g.]. Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine. Only FRENCH cooking is cuisine. “Cuisine” is the French word for cooking, so when you say you are “having cuisine” it means you are “having French cooking”. The term “Indian cuisine” is a non-sequitor.

  10. Matt says:

    Pretty tough, but within the ‘normal’ Saturday class– took me about the same time as yesterday’s puzzle, fwiw. The grid is indeed a doozy, no three-letter words and only a few fours. I generally found that each quadrant took a few minutes of staring at that big white blank space– and then a -lot- of trial and error– but once I got a foothold, the rest of the quadrant filled in quickly.

    My favorite nuclear physics unit, btw, is the ‘barn’– which is an area of 10 to the minus 28th square meters. A small area, you might think, but as big as the side of a you-know-what in nuclear physics.

  11. Matt says:

    Oh, and here’s Wikipedia on the barn.

  12. janie says:

    se, ne, sw, nw for me (with a return to the se this morning when the Y and O of TYROS came in an “aha” moment). four brain-buster puzzles for the price o’ one. in this economy!

    love PETTISH and GASBAG and YES MAN. love the way just a couple of letters and/or a lightly penciled in word or two (ENLISTEE, anyone?) will make it easier to get some traction and make more definitive inroads.


  13. Howard B says:

    Times was pretty rough today, with lots of crazy obscurity (but interesting to read various definitions once done solving) – WITHERS, ATROPINE, ORACHE? Yeesh!

    The Newsday Stumper started off pretty smoothly with some correct initial guesses and inroads, but with the expected head-scratching clues later on (“It stands for 1″=EENY? If you say so…)

    In the same puzzle, CAMELOPARD has to be the insane word of the day. Considering it partially anchors the top-left of the puzzle, it’s a very interesting but pretty bizarre choice. I’ve read plenty of trivia and interesting animal facts at some point, but have never run across this word, so every single crossing was needed. That corner gave me a healthy workout.

    Coupled with the signature crazy trivia cluing (First name of automaker Tucker, Daisy Duck’s niece, misc. actor trivia), and the Stumper turned out to be a much, much rougher ride. Some nice fill in there, too.

  14. Gareth says:

    Found this puzzle (or indeed 4 puzzles held together by a piece of string) mostly on the easy side. Left side – very easy. Right side – about normal Saturday difficulty, though. Especially in the bottom-left had way more gimmes (MORITA, NORMANS, ATROPINE, READERS) than normal. One of the main skills needed to solve this seemed to be the ability to make up random words ending in “-er” though, which made me somewhat PETTISH (really nice word I didn’t know – so that’s one for the plus column!) I can’t say ultra-low word count themelesses are my favorite in any case, but I’m not expecting every puzzle to be tailored to my tastes!

  15. arthur118 says:

    The Wall Street Journal has published the 2010 New Year puzzle in Saturday’s paper and you can get Alice Long’s offering from the following link by clicking WSJ, 2010, 01:

  16. Jon S. says:

    I didn’t scale the Saturday NYT mountain. Did get a few right away, though, such as SITTERS, SEATERS, and ENTERERS. But knew it was surely a fool’s paradise I’d entered, if I got a few Saturday clues that easily. And I was right.

    YTTRIA? Gack.

  17. bruce n. morton says:

    Actually found this one not quite as tough as yesterday. Especially in these “4-in-1” puzzles I’m always interested in others’ reactions to the relative difficulty of the sections. For me the NW was by far the easiest (almost speed writing) and the NE by far the most difficult (lots of blank staring). So I did it counterclockwise from the NW. West was pretty easy, (though I didn’t like “prosed,” and started with “penned”, East very difficult. I’m not remotely a chemist, but Yttrium was always my favorite element.

    I was distressed to learn of the death of Dan Naddor. Though I don’t know him, or much about him, I offer my sincere condolences to his family. He was an absolutely phenomenal, creative, prolific constructor, who had rapidly become one of my favorites, since I discovered the LAT puzzles.


  18. Tuning Spork says:

    I just did the Stumper. Most of it was a great workout, obscure stuff (CAMELOPARD, PRESTON, MAE, e.g.) aside, but which is par for the course. But there’s one clue I just don’t get.

    [Blackout, for instance] = SKIT

    Anybody fathom what the clue means?

  19. janie says:

    hey, tuning spork — think “sketch” for “skit.” this item should also shed some light on this grand tradition!


  20. Crosscan says:

    Everything can be explained by the Muppets! Except why I thought Richard Burton played Dr. Doolittle.

  21. lit.doc says:

    Hi, all, first time here. Just “finished” the Saturday Stumper (which is to say me, check, and google), but it looks like there’s no way to attach posts directly to a particular puzz. Anyhow, I’m still getting calibrated to what’s fair in love, war, and crosswords, but wonder about a few of the clues/answers here.

    11D PREACHER?! How is a Catholic priest anything but Father or a priest? Or did I miss one of Crosby’s movies? OK, 6D IGOR maybe, but isn’t there a lower limit to cluing extremely minor characters? French 101 is long past, but shouldn’t 38A be DORE (of DOREE if fem)? And shouldn’t the clue for 47A COLDS be plural, like the answer?

    Best self-inflicted roadblock of the day: 55A just HAD to be ONE OVER PAR, despite the var. spelling of bogy/bogey/bogie. Good thing I couldn’t find a way to fit TOOTS SHORS into 30A.

    BTW if you haven’t seen Taylor and Burton in Zeffirelli’s “Taming of the Shrew”, you’re missing a gem. Well mounted (so to speak–Zeffirelli’s primarily an opera producer, and it shows to good effect), very funny, despite Shakespeare’s culturally-unsurprising misogyny, and, by all reports, Burton was drunk the entire time.

  22. John Haber says:

    I moved quickly in first the NW then the SW, although I never could decide what to put in STI_ES and SE_TIMES. Maybe an L? The SE took longer, where I too was distracted by ANTIS and the mystery of ORACHE and YTTRIA. I have studied chemistry so know the element but didn’t know the short form for the oxide. Probably used mostly by engineers!

    The NE really took me longer, though. Not sure why, except that BUS LINE is of course deceptive. I started with ASSISTS and PEEVISH, which slowed me up.

  23. janie says:

    hi, lit.doc — didn’t do that puzzle, so can’t really speak to the issues you raise, but just wanted to encourage you to keep comin’ back. new voices are always welcome around these parts!


    (and you’re very welcome, t.s.!)

  24. Crosscan says:

    lit.doc – I think PREACHER is being used as a generic term which emcompasses priest.
    IGOR – Fair point. Anything goes in the Stumper, it seems.
    D’OR is short for DE OR, or “of gold”. This one is ok to me.
    I guess “sneezin'” could be considered plural.
    Thanks for commenting.

  25. MaggieMae says:

    have missed your ‘input’ and solution to the WSJ puzzle for two loooong weeks now!!
    WSJ and Daily Beast are the only two I can find time for!!! however, enjoy reading your input on all……keep up the great posts!! :) Happy New Year!!

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