Saturday, 6/26/10

NYT 5:55 (joon—across lite*)
LAT (untimed—PG)
CS untimed
ND 21:23 (Jeffrey – paper)
WSJ 7:37 (joon—paper)

yep, me again. i have no idea how many other bloggers you’ll be treated to tonight/tomorrow, but it’s at least three, i think.

Robert H. Wolfe’s New York Times crossword—joon’s review

nyt100626i’m used to seeing this constructor’s name in the LA times, where he always does saturdays, and he always has three 15s that are spoken expressions. well, different paper, but the rest is the same today. the three answers in question, all of which i liked:

  • {Rat smeller’s words} are “SOMETHING’S FISHY.” i’m just glad SMELLER wasn’t in the grid. or even RAT SMELLER.
  • speaking of rats, {Warning to a pest} is “DON’T DO THAT AGAIN.” okay, you wouldn’t say this to an actual rat.
  • {“Seriously?”} is “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” this is my favorite of the three, i think.

that was the big highlight, although there’s some other stuff i really liked, e.g. TEMP AGENCY and TAKE TEN. then there’s the stuff i didn’t like, which can be roughly divided into: unfamiliar names, phrases that don’t sound like actual complete expressions, and awkward stuff. behind door #1:

  • {Gary who invented the Pet Rock} is a non-roald DAHL. the problem i had was that the crossing letter at the A could have been either OVERCAME or OVERCoME, because the clue {Beat} is ambiguous about tense. i guessed wrong (hence the * in my solving time) and in retrospect i probably should have caught it, because DAHL is at least the name of somebody else, while i’ve never heard of a DOHL. but is it really fair that we have to know this guy’s name in the first place? isn’t the whole point of fads that they come and go and the less said about them afterwards, the better? does anybody remember who invented the hula hoop, furby, trapper keeper, or sarah palin? incidentally, getting the L of DAHL was no walk in the park either, because {Roll} was far from the most helpful clue for PEAL, and even the A of PEAL could plausibly have been another vowel, because the crossing {Prefix with -valent} could plausibly have been OCTI- or maybe even OCTO-. hard to tell with these non-words.
  • {Big name in college guides} is … FISKE? who’s that? i haven’t looked at a college guide in 15 years, i admit, so i’m not very qualified to tell you if this is famous.
  • {Columbia Pictures co-founder} is somebody COHN. after my embarrassing failure to identify ringo yesterday, i’m going to go ahead and look this up. um, okay, it’s apparently somebody named harry COHN. i’m not really glad i know that now.
  • {Baltimore neighborhood that includes Marble Hill} is UPTON. baltimore neighborhood, really? is baltimore such a culturally iconic city that new york times solvers are supposed to know its neighborhoods? (sorry janie.)
  • {St. Philip of Rome} is philip NERI. i knew this. do non-hagiographers know this guy? never seen him in a grid before, but looking at those letters, i’m a little surprised at that.

door #2:

  • {Folks may cry after it’s shot} clues TEAR GAS GUN. TEAR GAS, sure. and i’m entirely willing to believe it’s shot out of a gun of some sort. but it still feels like a stuck-together phrase rather than one with some cohesion. like WATER BALLOON FLINGER or something. and i have to say, the clue wasn’t very deceptive or entertaining to me. but it does remind me of the old joke: what’s the difference between a viola and an onion? (sorry, liz.)
  • {Way to look back?} is IN ANGER. ouch, that’s a seven-letter partial and there’s no real way around it.
  • {Winter sports arenas} are apparently ICE PALACES. the phrase googles up okay, but i’ve never seen these two words stuck together.

door #3 probably bothered me the most, because this is a freestyle grid and the fill has to carry the day. but here we’ve got two partials, AS A and AS I (the duplication isn’t helping matters); a whopping four prefixes and suffixes (OVO-, OCTA-, ANTI-, and -ERY); a very awkward crosswordese plural (ANISES); and some old-school crosswordese (ADIT, ALOW). there’s also the usual assortment of abbreviations, but those were pretty overlookable (EEO, CHI, NCO, ABA).

enough grousing from me. i want to point out a couple of clues i really enjoyed: {Doesn’t go swimmingly?} for WADES and {A hook may give it a hook} for the NOSE which might be bent by a boxer’s punch.

how did everybody else like this one?

Joel Fagliano’s LA Times crossword—PuzzleGirl’s review

grid lat 10 06 26Pretty good challenge today (for the LAT)! I had to chip away at sections of this grid and, in the end, I even had a mistake. And you know the only reason I admit that is to make y’all feel better if you had trouble too! For some reason I thought PINKETT sounded just fine for 33A (Gettysburg general (PICKETT)). And even though I couldn’t make sense of NTS (34D: Tender abbr. (CTS.)) I let it stand. I thought NTS might be an abbreviation for notes or National Treasury … something. I rationalized it is what I’m saying.

The last letter I entered into the grid was the V at the cross of VAUNT and VIGILS (43A: Crow / 43D: Watches). I originally had a T there, thinking “taunting” was close enough to “crowing.” Obviously, VAUNT is better. I mean, even aside from the fact that it’s, ya know … right. With the T there, I thought I was looking for a brand of wristwatches. GAP was a gimme (51A: Old Navy is one of its brands), so I knew it wasn’t Timex. Figured it must be some high-end watch that’s not in my universe. But I felt uneasy enough about that T to go back and suss it out. (Unlike that stupid N I had up in “Pinkett.”)

Non-sports-minded people probably a little trouble with this one, as there seemed to be a mini sports theme running through the grid:

  • 44A: Five-time Fiesta Bowl champs, for short (ASU).
  • 48A: Six-time U.S. Open winner (EVERT).
  • 8D: Two __: hockey advantage (ON ONE).
  • 24D: Major college football’s winningest coach (PATERNO).
  • 32D: Amer. Airlines Center player (MAV).
  • 56D: Football Hall of Famer Dawson (LEN).

The only one of those I balked at was the hockey one. Everything I know about hockey (which isn’t much) I learned from crosswords. So I guessed Two “to one” here, thinking that was kinda lame. And it was! Because it was wrong.

I also enjoyed the two humorous quotes:

  • 37A: “I intend to live __. So far, so good”: Steven Wright (FOREVER).
  • 7D: “Knowing all the facts,” according to Woody Allen (PARANOIA).

I remember so clearly the first time I saw Steven Wright on TV. I remember him saying he was going to make a life-size map of the United States and it would say “one mile = one mile.” Ha!

Updated Saturday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Spaced Out”—Janie’s review

Not entirely sure about how the title works today? Take a look at your finished grid and circle the embedded “OUT” in each of the three longest horizontal answers. Now notice how Bob has (symmetrically) spaced the word OUT in the grid. It lies directly center in the grid-spanning 37A; at 20A, the final “T” aligns with the “O” four lines below it; and at 55A, the initial “O” is four lines below the center’s final “T.” Kinda cool, huh? And look at the fine phrases Bob’s used:

  • 20A. MIZZOU TIGERS [Big 12 team, informally]. Love how the rhyming AMAZE and BAIZE pass through those double “Z”s, too.
  • 37A. I NEED YOU TONIGHT [1999 Backstreet Boys hit].
  • 55A. ROAD TO UTOPIA [1946 Hope/Crosby film]. A buddy movie about a map to a gold mine in Alaska, what really strikes me here is the film’s title—given the year of the picture’s release. Somehow I imagine that in the aftermath of World War II, just about all Americans thought they were on the that very “road”…

Playing off the title of the puzzle, Bob gives us a little “outer space” action with NASA [Out-of-this-world organization], NEBULA [Possible outcome of a supernova explosion] and ORBS [Heavenly balls]—not be confused with the [Big name in soft balls], NERF

On the subject of “soft things,” I hadn’t realized that KIT can refer to the young of any fur-bearing mammal, so it’s totally appropriate that today it’s clued as [Beaver baby]. In the animal world, a kit is also a kind of fox and another word for kitten.

While you might have thought that [Hog wild] might be related to something porcine, in fact, the correct fill is RABID. We do get a nice combo of wordplay action and four-legged sorts with [Places for inks or oinks] for PENS, and then Old MacDonald’s farm itself is summoned up with “E-I-E-I-O” [End of a rustic refrain].

Fave clues today include the alliterative:

  • [Killer coiler]/BOA
  • [Ketchikan canoe]/KAYAK (with alliterative fill, too!)
  • [Fleshy fruit]/MELON
  • [Fleeting flash]/GLINT (which you may see as part of that [Shiv shove]/STAB. Owwww!!)
  • [Rolling rocker?]/STONE (think “Mick Jagger” or “Keith Richards”…)

and the rhymey:

  • [Rummy yummy]/BABA
  • [It may flank a frank]/ROLL
  • [Ring king with a sting]/ALI
  • [Quick da-dum on the drum]/FLAM. This was a new word to me and I kept resisting it, thinking it should be FLAP. Nupe.

There are a bunch of sequential clues with repeater words (I trust you can suss ’em out) and here and now I voice my appreciation not only for the savvy SIDEWALK [superintendent (onlooker)], but even the twee WUV [It may precede “woo” on a valentine]. Awwww. Is it February yet?

Barry C. Silk’s Newsday “Saturday Stumper” – Jeffrey’s review

ND June 26 2010

Barry C. Silk’s Saturday Stumper was challenging but not quite a stumper for me. The 70 word themeless puzzle is highlighted by two 15’s crossings in the center:

[33A Dinosaur hunter, by definition] – CRYPTOZOOLOGIST. I tried to fit in PALEOTOLOGIST, but it wouldn’t fit and likely isn’t even a word. Like that should matter. ..

[8D Radial measurement] -POLAR COORDINATE.

Missteps for me:

[20A A student’s pride] – GPS for GPA?! “Why, he never gets lost going across campus. He’s so proud of that GPS.”
[25A 1099 datum: Abbr.] – INT for SSN. I don’t know American tax form numbers. Sam would know.
[55A Lose it] – GO APE fits. ERUPT is the actual answer.
[56A It’s often draining] – BATH WATER. I tried MUCK WATER?!
[29D Film with the line ”So help me Me”] – OH GOD. Pretty Woman came to mind for some reason. What is the phrase I’m thinking from that movie? Something with you you, perhaps? Anyone?

A few others:
[1A Contents of some music boxes] – AUDIO TAPE. Tape came before digital, kids.
[28A Chk. Alternative] – CHG. Check or charge. They came before debit cards, kids.
[29A Beagle ”born” in 1978] – ODIE of “Garfield”. He came after Snoopy, grandpa.
[41A Repeated phrase in ”Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”] – I SAY
[6D Western prop] – TEN GALLON HAT. Got this quickly which opened things nicely.
[24D Triple medalist at the Vancouver Olympics] – OHNO. Oh yes.

Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal variety puzzle, “Seven Sages” – joon’s review

this is another cool variety grid from patrick berry. the quote from h.h. munro running around the edge of the wheel reads: “A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.” sage enough.

this was a fairly comfortable solve for me, starting with NEW DEAL and ROUTINE at 1 & 2, interlocking at the NE. i ran into a couple of trouble spots at 10, 22, 23, 32, and 36, but the “crosses” helped. best clue: {Act of setting one’s name in a font?} is BAPTISM. our daughter will be baptized at some point this summer, although she already has a name.

my answers, in case you want to check against them:

  6. IACOCCA (i always need the acrostic to remind me which C gets doubled)
  10. WAR ROOM (“gentlemen, you can’t fight in here!)
  17. PLUTOED (reminds me of a great john farmer sunday NYT from two years ago)
  29. ATE CROW
  32. LOW-RISE
  34. BAD WORD

so it was an easy solve, but very enjoyable. how’d you all find it?

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17 Responses to Saturday, 6/26/10

  1. Martin says:

    Hi Joon,

    I don’t fully agree that IN ANGER is a partial, as it’s able to stand alone as an adverbial phrase.


  2. OVERCOME/DOHL here too. SOMETHING STINKS for 17A made the NE a mess. Had SEANCE at one point for 9A and TAKE TEA for 20A. FISKE and COHN were new to me. Other than the NE, a fun puzzle.

  3. Rick Narad says:

    For some reason, I assumed that a warning to a pest would involve “a pain” and missed the argon. The corners filled in but the middle had me stuck for a while

  4. John Farmer says:

    I agree on a couple of the names. Don’t know if I ever knew DAHL or if there’s any reason to know UPTON. I thought the names were inferable, though, and it is Saturday.

    St. Philip NERI was the parish next to ours many years ago, so it was an early toehold for me. Still, I’d have probably gone with NERO in that spot, leaving ASO, a recent though not very famous Japanese p.m. I did know FISKE somehow. COHN, I think, is a name worth knowing, though I forgot, needing a couple of crossers (I was thinking of Laemmle).

    Among the grousings, no problem imo with ICE PALACES or TEAR GAS GUN. IN ANGER, as Martin said, isn’t a partial, is it? IN ERROR, IN EXILE, IN PRINT … IN ANGER. Works for me.

    I definitely agree about the 15s, the best things in the grid. All good. Only trouble for me was the end of SOMETHING____. I tried ___STINKS, ____’SWRONG. FISHY seems kinda obvious now (and is the name of a sushi place just down the block).

  5. Harry says:

    Funny, Gary DAHL was the first answer I put in. (OK, actually I put in DIAL, but corrected it soon enough) Not sure why it’s in my head, but he was kinda famous back in the day.

    Liked the long fill; not so much on the short fill. I,too, tried SOMETHINGSTINKS, thinking the “smell” in the clue would tip it that way, but I guess FISHY is a smell, too.

  6. Matt says:

    The crossing of DAHL and ROLL was the last letter I filled in, and I wasn’t too confident about it. Also, I had ECO rather than ERY for ‘Green attachment’ at 14D for a while. Otherwise, relatively straightforward & fun puzzle.

  7. Mike says:

    STARR is Ringo Starr of course….

  8. Gareth says:

    “i’m used to seeing this constructor’s name in the LA times, where he always does saturdays” – I usually solve the LA Times, first, but today I started with NYT, forgot, and with the reassurance of a Wolfe byline (ignoring the rest of the title somehow) after 6 minutes said to self “Self, this is a hardish LAT” – went downhill from there! The top so had me! Not sure why ????AGENCY was hard, or SOMETHINGSFISHY for that matter, or TAKETEN either. Maybe I was still suffering from doing it on the back of Friday’s brute that took 32 minutes to complete (and was utterly fab!) I see I went one better than you and made up Gary SOHL though… But I don’t feel bad though. OVERCOME is 100% legit. NOTTOSAY is something but more of an equivocator’s reply than a procrastinors, in hindsight! 5D went EQUI/AMBI then OCTA.

    I thought NERI was Saul’s uncle???

    Also not so keen on TEARGASGUN, but liked WHITEHORSE a lot, more geography makes me more happy!

    Missing the Ghana/USA match, need to get my radio out!!!

  9. Gareth says:

    OK I got my times mixed up!

  10. foodie says:

    Re NYTimes, IN ANGER, I liked it because I thought it referred to the John Osborne Play (Look Back in Anger). I kept thinking it could have been clued more cleverly, though…

    OCTOvalent? I guess it’s from chemistry. It’s Saturday cluing for a common prefix– but again, not the most fun way to do it.

    Joon, I remember who invented Sarah Palin, but she probably doesn’t.

  11. animalheart says:

    I understand Joon’s objections, but I loved the three in-the-language phrases and entries like WHITEHORSE and TEMPAGENCY. Plus, it fell pretty quickly, considering how hard it seemed. One question: I still can’t really get my head around the connection between Roll and PEAL in 19A. Anyone?

  12. joon says:

    gary: roll of thunder/PEAL of thunder, i think.

  13. animalheart says:

    Ahh, yes, of course. Thanks, Joon.

  14. Jan says:

    In the CS, really liked “Hole in the wall gang” for MICE! :)

  15. John Haber says:

    I had all Amy’s reservations (plus WHITE HORSE as an obstacle), but I guess since I finished it reasonably quickly, I can’t complain. Roughly, I moved from W to E, ending in the NE, but a little slow to fill the holes she mentioned and I’d left in the NW. DAHL just sounded more plausible than DOHL, which I’d had first from entering OVERCOME. For COHN I’d started with KAHN, then CAHN, and eventually crossings did it.

  16. joon says:

    john haber, you can tell that i’m not amy from any of the following:

    1. author of the post
    2. “joon’s review” in the NYT writeup heading
    3. my solving time listed before the jump
    4. i don’t capitalize
    5. my comments are nothing like amy’s
    6. she’s shorter and prettier than i am

  17. K. Mistovich says:

    That’s not the same crossword I had today.

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