Saturday, 4/3/10

NYT 7:00 (joon—across lite)
LAT 2:45 (joon—across lite)
CS untimed (Janie)
Newsday 11:15 (Jeffrey – paper) – now updated
WSJ “Rows Garden” (Jeffrey – solved but not blogged. Just ask questions in the comments if you need help.)

Message from Jeffrey: A wind storm and power failure has delayed my official debut so joon will be your interregnum blogger. See you soon!

Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

thanks jeffrey. nice use of “interregnum.” always good to use that word when you get the chance. apparently they’re having winds of “60 to 80 km/h” in the greater victoria area, and gusting to 110 km/h over howe sound. i don’t know where that is, and i had to do some mental math to figure out how fast that is. but that’s why jeffrey’s debut as the crossword fiend will be delayed.

anyway, i really liked this puzzle. good solid fill, some nice scrabbly letters, and a ton of great clues. the highlights:

  • {Apparently floored}, or SLACK-JAWED, is a terrific way to start the puzzle right at 1a. nice to work in a surprising KJ sequence. and any reminder of cletus from the simpsons is a welcome one.
  • {Baby’s mind, e.g.} is a TABULA RASA. this was the first answer i put in the grid… except that i put BLANK SLATE, which means the same thing but has only one letter in the correct place. it didn’t last long. TABULA RASA is also the name of the episode of buffy following the last good episode (season 6, ep 8, if you care).
  • {Clean rags?} clues EDIT, as in second-rate newspapers. EDIT seems to be one of those words that inspires people to write clever clues, like ATM and ELOPE.
  • {Nut’s offspring} is the egyptian god OSIRIS, son of the earth god geb (or seb) and sky goddess nut. wonderful clue!
  • {Crush}, the verb, means ANNIHILATE. this is a perfectly ordinary english word with an IH sequence in the middle. that’s not easy to come by.
  • {It might have red herrings}? this clue isn’t as tricky as it looks; it’s just a CRIME NOVEL. i had CRIME SCENE, which is a much worse answer. a novelist is much more likely to plant deliberately misleading information than an actual criminal.
  • {“Sic et Non” theologian} is pierre ABELARD. this was the second thing i put in the grid, and it allowed me to erase BLANK SLATE. sic et non is basically a laundry list of yes/no propositions. i guess it’s historically significant, but it’s not the most thrilling read, let me tell you. maybe that’s why he was fooling around with heloise.
  • {Copper bracelet?} is a CUFF, where “copper” is slang for police officer. nice clue, but the ? made it fairly transparent.
  • {Places where stands have been made} is a really nice clue for ARENAS. i guess the NBA’s gilbert ARENAS is more famous than ever, but not for the right reasons.
  • {The Bible’s “cunning hunter”} is good old ESAU. you can’t hide from me! although watch out for NIMROD, who was “a mighty hunter in the eyes of the lord” according to genesis. unclear how he earned such an undesirable eponym.
  • {Vacationing very briefly} is DAY-TRIPPING. nice answer. i am weekend-tripping over at the in-laws. happy triduum, everyone.
  • {Go from aluminum to alumina, say}? what’s the word for “take off -um and tack on -a”? answer: OXIDIZE.
  • {It’s under a canine’s coat} is just DENTINE. these “canine = tooth” clues aren’t fooling anybody, are they? anyway, i did okay on the parts of a tooth sporcle quiz. at least i had never heard of the two that i didn’t get.
  • {Show featuring the scheming Dr. Zachary Smith} is LOST IN SPACE. never seen it, nor did i subject myself to the movie remake. i’m guessing this zachary smith guy isn’t the main character, because he’s named will robinson, right?
  • {One with a long neck and a rounded body} could go so many ways, couldn’t it? i was thinking bottles, not physiques, but it’s a LUTE. getting the U here was tough.
  • {Japanese for “large hill”} is OSAKA. this is the kind of clue where i just ignore it until i have a couple of crosses. once i had O___A, OSAKA was a natural guess. maybe i should have guessed it anyway, as it’s by far the most common five-letter japanese place name in crosswords.
  • {Put to rest} is QUASHED, a great word. it crossed QUIETING at the Q, clued as {Putting to rest}. i didn’t get a lot of joy out of the dupe clue here, and QUIETING isn’t nearly as fun to say.
  • {Avant-garde} is NEW WAVE, with the crazy WW sequence in the middle. looks great in the grid.

stuff i didn’t necessarily like, but i liked that i knew it and it helped me crack the puzzle:

  • {Chief Powhatan’s son-in-law} was john ROLFE. my friend joel’s dad is named powhatan. that’s pretty cool.
  • {Freud’s “Totem ___ Tabu”} is good old UND. “totem ___ taboo” would be AND, i guess.
  • {Any member of the Safavid dynasty} is a SHAH. everyone knows their persian royal houses, right?
  • {Christian apologist who wrote “The Four Loves”} is clive staples LEWIS. i don’t actually know that work, but you had me at “christian apologist.” wait, actually, i do know that work. for some reason i read it as “the four loaves” while i was solving the puzzle.
  • {Last name of twin gymnasts in the 2004 Olympics}? i didn’t think i knew this, but there it is in the back of my brain: paul and morgan HAMM.
  • {Last, to Luigi} is ULTIMO. not the most useful italian word to know, but it’s vaguely cognate-ish.
  • {Record producer Ertegun in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame} is AHMET. why do i know this name? it must be from a previous puzzle. my first instinct is to blame BEQ, but i think i actually saw this in a new york sun puzzle. ah, i remember now: his full name was a theme answer in a puzzle with units of measure, because it contains METER.

stuff i did not know:

  • {When “you’re gonna want me for your girl,” in a 1963 hit} is ONE FINE DAY. 47-year old pop music is so not my forte.
  • {Longtime “The Price Is Right” model Parkinson} is DIAN. primatologist fossey wants her clue back.
  • {Transfuses} = ENDUES? i mean, that looks like a word, i guess, but it certainly isn’t one that i know. i wanted IMBUES.
  • {Half of a popular 1960s singing duo} is JAN. who was the other half, cindy? or greg? it was alice, wasn’t it?
  • {Bistro seen in “Manhattan”} is ELAINE’S. this is one way of getting around the awkwardness of cluing a plural name, but it makes for a tough clue.

that’s all for me tonight. how did this puzzle treat you?

Updated Saturday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Heave-Ho”—Janie’s review

Here’s a classic case of saving the best for last–speaking of this week’s best theme idea and execution. Randy has laced his puzzle with four well-known phrases minus their first two letters: H and O, or “HO.” In other words, he has given the “heave” to “ho”–with results that are fresh as can be and far from TRITE. The phrases in the grid almost sound as if they could stand on their own, and that’s all to the good.

  • 17A. [Tough love feature?] is the USE OF CORRECTION. This comes from house of correction, or jail, or where an offender may end up if that “tough love” approach doesn’t work out so well…
  • 25A. [Aerie error?] is a NEST MISTAKE. You know, when the eagle flies to the wrong domicile. He’s a bird-brain and it’s an honest mistake. (Nice clue, too, no?)
  • 43A. The actor’s nightmare, [Forgetting lines in a play?] is a STAGE CRISIS. This, in fact, while potentially embarrassing, is far less dire than a hostage crisis.
  • 55A. [Garden-variety tackle?] is not referring to a football maneuver, but says that our angler has an OK LINE AND SINKER. Its origins are in the fishing term hook, line and sinker. This is the stretchiest of the “after” phrases, but I still give it a “pass.”

I liked this one literally from [Square one], the GIT-GO. Interesting that Randy didn’t OPT [Make a decision] for get-go. “Elsa” would have worked where ILSA lives, and “get-go” some 3,080,000 Google hits to the 56,700 for git-go. Fwiw… I can’t even put this in the CONS column, since I like the unexpectedness of the variation. And besides, the puzzle’s PROS far outweigh it.

Just look at some of the lively fill and cluing with items like:

  • BREWSKI [Suds]
  • POTUS [DC VIP] or President of the United States. Didn’t our POTUS share a brewski or two with Henry Louis Gates, Sgt. James Crowley and Joe Biden last summer? Why, yes, he did.
  • THONG [Skimpy beachwear].
  • SHOCKS [Bowls over] Sometimes a piece of “skimpy beachwear” has this effect and sometimes it elicits an EAGER [Champing at the bit] “NEATO” [“Groovy!”], especially from admiring STUDS [He-men], perhaps. Sometimes it elicits TSKS [Sounds of disapproval] (probably from the folks who wish they could carry it off….)

If we don’t get an array of CITIZENS [Nationals], we do get BRITISH for [Leeds lads], and an international feel with CALI [Colombian city] and TABRIZ. And there’s also “da car” RACE [Dakar Rally, for one], an auto race which has been held in Europe, Africa and South America. Since “most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks and erg,” it’s not likely the drivers will be seeing (or using, I suppose) anything as conventional as a local OFF-RAMP [Interstate exit]…

Mike Nothnagel’s LA Times crossword

(back to joon.) this is mike’s LAT debut, a fact which i knew because he google buzzed earlier this week, looking for somebody to pick up a few hard copies of the paper. i had forgotten by the time i opened up the puzzle this morning, so i was pleasantly surprised to see his byline, because mike’s puzzles are so uniformly excellent. and today was no exception. the only thing i didn’t like about it was that it didn’t really put up a fight. mike is an excellent clue writer, but almost all of the clues today were entirely straightforward, enabling me to sprint through the puzzle in my fastest saturday time since that brief period last summer when they were all incredibly easy.

highlights from the fill:

  • {Chat with someone on the way out?} is an EXIT INTERVIEW. one of the few clues with some trickery, both for the context of the clue and the fact “chat” wants to be a verb here.
  • {Dreamer’s activity} is WISHFUL THINKING. a really nice pair of answers crossing in the middle, but this clue (like so many others) was so straightforward that it wasn’t hard to put in all fifteen letters here.
  • {Part of a kid’s lunch from home} is a JUICE BOX. nice scrabbly phrase here, part of the very scrabbly northwest. i bet this is the first entry mike put in the grid, but i wonder if he didn’t clue it in reference to the astros’ home park. (see also {Contests on the road}, AWAY GAMES.)
  • {Cart’s wheel attachment} is an AXLE TREE. AXLE came pretty easily here. TREE, not so much.
  • {Home to FDR’s presidential library} is HYDE PARK. cool answer, and i don’t think it would have been a gimme, but for the fact that i had HYDEP___ in place by the time i saw it.
  • {“Nope, the other thing”} is “WRONG ONE.” love this one.
  • {Pew extension} is a KNEELER, and a {Church rite site} is an ALTAR RAIL. neither one of these is tough, but spending a half-dozen hours in church this weekend probably made these even quicker to spring to mind.
  • {Like many a residential system} is SEPTIC. now this one took some working of the crossings. i don’t think you can hide the unpleasant subject matter of the answer just by making the clue incredibly vague. we’re going to see it all in the end anyway, right?

that’s all from me. jeffrey, who’s recovered power from his wind storm, will be back with the newsday and WSJ saturday puzzles.

Anna Stiga’s Newsday Saturday Stumper

Jeffrey again. Power is back but so is the wind and a bed is being delivered this morning so here’s a 

Link to PDF solution  and we’ll chat later.  Perhaps we’ll talk about the second Wall Street journal puzzle. Perhaps not. Expect change, people!

Ok, wind has eased, bed not arriving for a couple of hours. Here we go. 

The Stumper by “Anna Stiga” (Stan Newman) was a nice themeless, not too stumpy and quite solvable. Let’s look at a few clues:

1A. [Awesome] – IMPRESSIVE.  I’d call this puzzle IMPRESSIVE but not awesome, although 1A is telling me  there’s no difference.
15A. [Printing supply] – LASER TONER. A paper solver’s best friend (well inkjet toner actually). I go through lots of black toner.
17A. [While away] – IN ABSENTIA. Strangely appropriate this weekend.
18A. [Father] – SIRE. Passover seder is one of those times I really think about my dad.
21A. [Indianapolis-based org.] – NCAA. Really? Was going for car racing here.
23A. [Spoonerizing toon] – DOC. Heigh-ho! I think DOC is in the red shirt.
42A. [Salad ingredient, perhaps] – MELON BALL. Good answer.
44A. [Element in atomic clocks] – CESIUM. I tried Osnium.
47A. [Test requesters: Abbr.] – DRS. Say why is DOC in a mine instead of practising medicine?
54A. [Notes that are passed around 21 months] – ONES. Huh? Can someone explain?
62A. [City near Presque Isle] – ERIE. Tried to disguise ERIE. Didn’t work on me.
7D. [Audible shock] – SONIC BOOM. I saw the Space Shuttle land once and felt the SONIC BOOM. I was audibly shocked.
13D. [Julia Roberts Oscar role] – PARALEGAL. Erin doesn’t fit! Neither does Brockovich! Help!
27D. [”Some Like It Hot” locale] – MIAMI. I put train.
30D. [Word from the Jamaican for ”bend”] – LIMBO
32D. [What to see at the Pompidou Centre] – MODERN ART. It’s in Paris.
34D. [Gunpowder ingredient] – SALTPETER. Kosher to have this and “Salts” next door in the 28D clue?

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18 Responses to Saturday, 4/3/10

  1. John Reid says:

    I flew easily through three quarters of this one in about 10 minutes, and was running very smoothly until I hit that bottom left corner. A combination of lots of proper nouns that were at least semi-obscure to me (EDIE, HAMM, AHMET), paired with a bunch of intersecting wrong guesses that seemed feasible(EWER/ABORTING/ALLAYED/ARAB/ABDUL/DEAL instead of LUTE/QUIETING/QUASHED/SHAH/AHMET/DENT)
    just killed me.

    After 25 minutes or so of hair pulling, I deleted everything down there and threw in IDIAMIN which I’d wanted earlier but couldn’t cross with anything. Then DENT/AHMET dawned and things started falling into place. What a crushing corner though! I wonder how others found this puzzle overall. The other 75% of the grid seemed pretty easy to me.

  2. Jim calvagna says:

    putting in teasers for sly sorts instead of weasels and hip instead of hep
    gave me criminover (!!!???)
    Finally saw weasels when my answer to “are you awake’ (i am not)
    didn’t make much sense, when I saw it was now then it all fell apart.
    By the way, if you think you are hep, you are probably over 100. I am
    76, and it’s been hip all my life.

  3. John Farmer says:

    Will Robinson is the kid, and you probably know him from the once-popular catchphrase “Danger, Will Robinson,” spoken by the robot. I never did take to the show. The Zachary Smith character was one creepy dude.

    QUIETING reminded me of a radio ad I heard today while driving to a funeral. The product was called QUIETUS. That was very strange. Turns out it was remedy for tinnitus, and the name makes a certain amount of sense — except for anyone who’s ever heard Hamlet’s soliloquy, or seen the film Children of Men. In Shakespeare it means death; in the movie it’s a suicide drug. That ringing in the ears must be very bad for anyone who resorts to Quietus.

    I spent half my time on the puzzle in the NW, even having ABELARD as a gimme. I liked the puzzle, and especially that “Are you awake?” response.

  4. Fonebill says:

    If you were as old as me you might have remembered Jan and Dean and Dead Man’s Curve.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    I had the same experience as John Reid, all went well after I changed Rite to GIRL, until I got to the SW corner. I put in EDIE and DENT, then UND and ASIANS, UNSHADED and SHAH, finally saw the Q words and IDI AMIN, revealing names AHMET and HAMM. Slow, but I was GLAD to have resisted a google.

    joon, I’m especially grateful that you explained the Nut connection to Osiris — wow!

  6. Sara says:

    Good write-up, Joon.
    About halfway through the puzzle I began regretting that I hadn’t timed myself. Definitely my fastest Saturday ever. Really odd.
    ENDUE is poetic. I’m too lazy to look it up, but I think you’ll find it in Keats.

  7. Jan (danjan) says:

    I got the JAN and Dean reference right away, somehow! Dan and I get this a lot – “oh, Jan and Dan, just like Jan and Dean”. OK, not so much from anyone under 50. But age has its benefits; I know all my LOST IN SPACE characters. I hated that Dr. Smith guy – always up to something no good.

    So, I take a day off from reading the blog, and Orange retires. Thanks, Amy for lots of great analysis and edification. I have benefited a lot from all of it. Crosscan, best wishes for a great run yourself!

  8. janie says:

    {One with a long neck and a rounded body}

    backing up to [bat mitzvah, e.g.], started with RITE, then went to TEEN — and working off of that, entered NOTE (which i thought was terribly clever)… needless to say, GIRL put and end to that.

    for me, the sw was the first to fall, and then the swath moving to the ne corner. that was last night’s work; this morning, the se and finally the nw fell.

    we’ve seen WADED IN before as the fill for [attacked energetically] so i know the dictionary sez it’s so, but (probably to my peril, of course) darned if i’ll ever really be able to equate “wading” with anything done “energetically.”

    ENDUES was new(s) to me, too.

    nice puzzle, guys!


  9. Matt M. says:

    I know you and I disagree (somewhat) about late Buffy, Joon, but you won’t even admit that “Tabula Rasa” is a great episode? It’s so funny!
    I’m annoyed because I had a stupid (and avoidable) mistake, but in general this was a great puzzle.

  10. Bob Blake says:

    Being of a certain age, ONEFINEDAY was my first entry and I crossed it with IAN of “Ian & Sylvia” confidently. SLACKJAWED turned me to “Jan & Dean.” Just a speedbump along the way…

    I echo the experience of slowing to a crawl in the SW corner.

  11. Sam Donaldson says:

    Another ditto for: (1) flying through the NYT until hitting the SW; and (2) loving the clue for I AM NOW. Great puzzle!

    Jeffrey, the weather gods seem displeased with your attempted coup of the Fiend. Glad you have power back – these winds have been crazy.

  12. Stan says:

    Taking the middle ground on Buffy, I’d say that yes “Once More with Feeling” (aka “Buffy, the Musical”) was the high point of that season. But some other episodes were still high-quality.

    Really enjoyed this puzzle, for reasons already mentioned.

  13. Karen says:

    I slowed to a stop at ENDUES, especially since TATI was a guess, and the third one at that..

    Tabula Rasa was a good episode, but Once More with Feeling was just great television.

    My niece is named after Mia HAMM. I had forgotten about the Hamm brothers.

  14. joon says:

    [Notes that are passed around 21 months] – ONES. Huh? Can someone explain?

    the average lifetime for a $1 bill is about that long before it gets too tattered and removed from circulation. i guess. i actually thought it was less.

    [Gunpowder ingredient] – SALTPETER. Kosher to have this and “Salts” next door in the 28D clue?

    kosher saltpeter—what an idea!

  15. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. We just saw Author of “The Gravedigger’s Daughter” — Joyce Carol Oates — and it was timely as she just won the National Book Critics Circle’s Lifetime Achievement Award a few weeks ago…

  16. Jeffrey says:

    That would be why Canada has “loonies” ($1 coins) instead of bills and my excuse for not getting it.

  17. Mike Nothnagel says:

    Hey everyone —

    Thanks, joon, for the nice write-up. I’ve got another themeless in the LAT pipeline, so watch out for that soon.


    p.s. Why isn’t my name in the tags list? :)

  18. Jeffrey says:

    I see your name, Mike. I wish this site came with an owner’s manual.

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