Saturday, 9/11/10

NYT 6:27
Newsday 6:07
LAT 4:36
CS untimed (Janie)/3:44 (Amy)

Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 6There are more than a dozen splashy entries in this puzzle, along with plenty of tricky clues. First up, The Highlights According to Me:

  • 1a. THE BAD SEED is the [1956 film that earned an Oscar nomination for 11-year-old Patty McCormack]. I kinda thought it was a late ’60s movie. Never have seen it.
  • 15a. I love the word VELOCIPEDE, a [Victorian conveyance] that was an early type of bicycle.
  • 17a. Ah, 20th century history: The SUEZ CRISIS was a war [Campaign setting for Moshe Dayan].
  • 28a. [A catnap may not provide it], so you still need a good night’s sleep to get your R.E.M. SLEEP.
  • 37a. PFLUG is just a great-looking name. Not a household name these days, no, but you want to say it out loud, don’t you? [“Candid Camera” co-host Jo Ann] has a name that’s one letter off from PFLAG.
  • 45a. UP IN ARMS means [Strongly protesting].
  • 47a. Hah! [Whitewater navigator?] is Kenneth STARR.
  • 60a. My favorite answer in this puzzle is REBOUND GUY, [One often picked up after a split]. I’ve been with my rebound guy since 1988. Maybe one of these years/decades, I’ll finally be healed enough to move on.
  • 64a. Second favorite answer: UNSUNG HERO is a [Person not credited for a save]. What’s better than a baseball clue? A clue that looks like it’s about baseball but isn’t.
  • 12d. Can you believe ICELANDIC isn’t clued with reference to that volcano, Eyjafjallajokull? Instead we get [Like the Great Geysir]. (Volcano action is limited to 66a: MT. ST. HELENS, [High point of 1980 news].)
  • 30d. If you’re EAGER to do something, you’re [Itching] for it. No relation to the [Sneeze triggers], TICKLES. Between the itching and sneezing, who’s reaching for some Benadryl?
  • 35d. [Struggling with middle management?] clues OBESE.
  • 38d. FBI AGENT‘s a good entry, clued as [One on a big case].
  • 43d. Literary J.M. SYNGE is a [Playwright who co-founded the Abbey Theatre]. This…was not a  gimme for me.

Tougher stuff:

  • 23a. TEAKS are [Trees in the mint family]. I knew mint was related to other herbs, but hardwood trees? Huh.
  • 35a. [The Warta’s outlet] didn’t RING A BELL ([Trigger familiarity]). The Warta River feeds into the ODER.
  • 39a. Ah! [Ancient humor] clues BILE, not something comedic. Black bile = melancholy and yellow bile = choler.
  • 41a. Latin? Ow. UBI [“___ maior, minor cessat”]. It means “Where there is the major, the minor is neglected.”
  • 3d. Boo! Hiss! ELENA is clued as a [Classmate of Felicity on “Felicity”]. The series ran from 1998 to 2002.
  • 9d. [Paste container?] is the EDIT MENU that contains the copy, cut, and paste menu commands.
  • 13d. A karate GREEN BELT is clued as [What may encircle a rising chopper?], meaning a karate chopper and not a helicopter.
  • 45d. URB is the [L.A.-based music magazine]. That B was my last square, as the [Boho-chic accessory] was eluding me. Yes, HOBO BAG and URB make a lot more sense than HOBO RAG and URR.
  • 57d. Tough spelling for HUNH, or [“What the…?”].

I’m seeing crazy applet times, so I’m wondering if the main trouble spots centered on my list of “tougher stuff” or if I’ve overlooked some particularly gnarly bits.

Updated Friday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Breaking Free”—Janie’s review

Well, yes—as always, Bob does cut loose some in this puzzle—but what he’s really talking about here is “breaking” up the word “free” so that it bookends the four theme phrases. And he does it with:

  • 20A. FIDDLERS THREE [They were called for after the pipe and bowl]. These would be Old King Cole’s minions. Bob includes one fiddler by name in the puzzle today, but he’s been disguised as [Stout’s stout Wolfe], a/k/a NERO.
  • 34A. FRESH BREEZE [5 on the Beaufort scale (19-24 mph)]. First of all, I love the phrase as fill. But then—am I the only one didn’t recall ever learning aobut the Beaufort scale? Am glad, however, to have made its acquaintance, even this late in my career!
  • 42A. FRED ASTAIRE [“Steps in Time” autobiographer]. Now there’s someone whose ease and grace made dancing look like an effortless breeze. Maybe a 3 on the Beaufort scale…
  • 57A. FRENCH PERFUME [Pepe Le Pew could use some]. Um. Is that really the best idea. How about a good airing out in the fresh breeze first?

Now, was it my imagination or did others of you find this to be an easier-than-usual Klahn solve? I found it to be a smoother-than-usual one as well. There was a certain elegance to the experience of solving it—and something that felt not unlike that fresh breeze... Not that there weren’t “things that make you ‘hmmm’,” mind you. BEKAA anyone? That’s the [Fertile valley of east Lebanon]. Well, all right then. (Now if Bob had gone with Beqaa—well, that woulda made all the difference! Not…)

Bekaa is a good example for another reason. As a complete unknown (hence “exotic” locale) it gives me the opportunity to mention another “exotic” locale: LHASA, clued today as [“The Forbidden City”]. Here’s why it’s called that. (And where exotic languages are concerned, SAFARI reminds us that [It’s “journey” in Swahili].) Additionally, the look of Bekaa in the grid, with that KAA configuration, is second only to the four-vowel run in SEAEEL. Or make that SEA EEL [Sushi selection].

Another “complete unknown” in the cluing department led to a well-worn puzzle entry, and that would be [2007 award for “The Thugs”] for OBIE. New-clues-for-old-fill is a practice I endorse. Helps to keeps things fresh, less predictable. (This is a play by Adam Bock—one terrific playwright, if not a household name. Yet.) Extensive as their film credits are, actors Ian MC KELLEN [Gandalf portrayer in “The Lord of the Rings”] and ED HARRIS [John Glenn portrayer in “The Right Stuff”] also have their share of off-Broadway credits (though the former admittedly has fewer than the latter).

Trickiest clue today was [High diamond?], which was not KING but KITE. Klever. And the, uh, cheekiest? Well, that would have to be [Booty] for, yes, REAR.

Mike Nothnagel’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 7In this 68-worder, there are plenty of cool answers and clues, but also a few relative clunkers.

First up, what I liked best:

  • 24a. The [Monopoly phrase] when you’re passing Jail but not incarcerated is JUST VISITING.
  • 27a. [Clinker in a Glas] is EIS, with Glas und Eis being German for glass and ice.
  • 35a. To EDIT OUT is sometimes to [Censor] and sometimes just to take out errors.
  • 47a. If you ask a tailor to [Take the cuffs off?], he or she will ALTER those pants for you.
  • 54a. [Place to see a pilot light?] means a place to see a pilot alight—a HELIPORT.
  • 56a. SPLEENS are [Blood reservoirs]. Anyone else picturing the “body of water” type of reservoir, but filled with blood?
  • 2d. Gotta love ZOOT SUITS, [Flashy 1940s outfits]. Sadly, you can’t play ZOOT in Scrabble.
  • 25d. The VELVET ROPE is a [Line outside a nightclub]. Great entry. But now I want to switch a couple letters and have a VERVET LOPE, a monkey’s pace.
  • 30d. I thought [Feature of some bluffs] was looking for a geographic feature, but no: it’s a POKER FACE.

A few answers underwhelmed me with word+preposition ennui:

  • 7a. I don’t think FINE FOR really represents a distinct unit of meaning. The last two words in the clue, [Adequately suited to], work better for me as a stand-alone phrase.
  • 16a. [Shared with] clues TOLD TO.
  • 41d. [Call to the attic] clues YELL UP.


Five more clues:

  • 38a. [Nickname of 1950s Reds slugger Ted] is KLU, short for Kluszewski. I Googled to find that name, and two of the first hits included different nicknames in quotes: “Big Klu” and “Ted.” Ha!
  • 42a. [Caucasus native] is an OSSET from Ossetia, which is split between Russia and Georgia.
  • 51a. [Fragrant Cloud and Crimson Glory] clues TEA ROSES.
  • 1d. [In-flight announcement nos.] are ALTS, your cruising altitude in a plural abbreviation form. You wanted ETAS, didn’t you?
  • 26d. IS DONE is clued as a 6-letter partial, [Day follower, in “Taps”]. Meh.

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

I have never, ever seen the San Diego Padres baseball team abbreviated as S.D. PADRES. The clue, 40d: [Sponsor of a Sports Business Management MBA], told me nothing other than “maybe it’s sports-related.” Pieced this one together from crossings. Hmph!

I’m no longer in an organized mood. I think it’s the dark, wet skies (positively DREAR, in fact) this morning. So here’s a list of puzzle content, the better and unbetter commingled:

  • 5a. [It follows a section of old Route 66] clues the ROSE PARADE. Who knew? Maybe people who care about the Rose Bowl/Parade.
  • 16a. UNCLE REMUS is a fictional [Big name in storytelling] and a terrific crossword entry.
  • 22a. Tough clue. [Pen, e.g.] clues SHE because a pen is a female swan and a cob is a male one. With three letters, I’ll bet a lot of people tried STY or BIC or CAN here.
  • 32a. The ROAD CREW, [They work on shoulders]. I half considered EPAULETS here.
  • 36a. The 17th Amendment is not one of the hot ones everyone is familiar with. SENATORIAL SEATS are [Positions affected by the 17th Amendment].
  • 56a. [Like a cliffhanger] clues a lively entry, NAIL-BITING.
  • 61a. CASABLANCA is a [Film that ends with “friendship”]. If the movie went on a little longer, I suspect it would have ended with Sam playing it again.
  • 1d. [They’re handled for drivers] is a weird clue for CAR DOORS because passengers also use handles to open car doors. Figured the clue was about golf, but no.
  • 4d. [Table material] is DATA. I edit such tables in my medical editing gig.
  • 20d. [Likely to form bonds] is about chemicals, not people—REACTIVE.
  • 33d. For [Pops], I had **DAS and waited for the crossings to tell me if it was DADAS (yes) or SODAS.
  • 59d. [Island purchase] refers to the little islands of gas pumps at a gas station, so GAS is the answer.
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16 Responses to Saturday, 9/11/10

  1. ktd says:

    I filled the grid clockwise starting from the lower left, finishing in the center with the F of PFLUG/FBI AGENT. I got slowed down by having DEAN for DESI and OLD TIME for OLD LINE for a while, but the rest was just chewing over tricky clues and double checking crosses. I didn’t resort to google or other modes of assistance, and the applet accepted my completed grid on the first try, so I was happy even with the high solving time. A really fun and interesting challenge from Mr. Wilber.

  2. Karen says:

    I was stymied by FBI AGENT but should have figured it out, especially if I had changed my HOBOCAP to a bag; I was never going to get THY plaintive anthem crossing with the playwright.

  3. joon says:

    the NW stymied me. never heard of THE BAD SEED, and VELOCIPEDE was pretty slow in coming. i had to take a WAG at ELENA in order to crack SUEZ CRISIS even with _U_Z_R_SI_ in place. then it all fell within seconds.

    john millington synge wrote the playboy of the western world, which sparked riots during its first run at the abbey. slapping down MT ST HELENS and then JM SYNGE really broke the SE open for me, although i had to work for the last three letters of REBOUND GUY.

    despite my slow solve, i felt like this was one of the easier brad puzzles, because there was only one long movie i’d never heard of. :) pretty great puzzle, though, wasn’t it?

  4. commenter1 says:

    Interesting — JMSYNGE was a gimme for me, as was ELENA (once I realized it couldn’t be JULIE, or TRACY, who married Elena…). Felicity was such a great show.

    But the SW gave me a headache. I was so sure “try your suit on” would be BID, a la bridge.

  5. NYT: Now THIS is a “Puzzle 5” that separates the Top 10 from the rest of the field. Just my opinion how tough said puzzle should be next March, of course…

    I remembered JoAnn PFLUG from some game show…Match Game, perhaps?

  6. LARRY says:

    hobo bag???

  7. Dirk Diggler says:

    Great puzzle, especially the long entries in the NW and SE. Took me well over an hour; probably my longest solve this year. Lost a lot of time with HUNH ( I was sure it was OUCH) , THY, JM SYNGE, SEAMY, AW GEE, and WOO. MOURN — I should have had that sooner.

  8. Gareth says:

    Quite a few gimmes for a Saturday… which was more than made up for by the number of hard entries… The only part of the puzzle that I didn’t encounter problems with was the top-right! Never heard of ACTOUT, JMSYNGE (which you need every cross for!), OLDLINE, FACETOWEL, STARR (in that context), REBOUNDGUY (wanted to be some kind of DATE off the D), HOBOBAG, THEBADSEED, UBI, HEURE, HUHN; LOM and PFLUG are very vaguely familiar, probably from other crosswords. BSS are know as BScS here. Had ???ET for 1D and all I could come up with was BIDET (up-scale hospital!) Ok that’s not all that much, but the rest of the clues were hard – but Saturdays SHOULD be like this!

  9. Matt says:

    Pretty much the ‘paradigm case’ of a Saturday NYT puzzle. Entertaining, solved gradually, never really stuck, satisfying to finish.

  10. Johnathan says:

    I actually was able to solve Klahn’s puzzle, so yes it was easier than usual.

  11. janie says:

    re nyt: nw went in almost on auto-fill, and while the remainder of the puzzle fell less smoothly, for me this was all-in-all a less tortured solve than yesterday’s. completed it in one, not over-long sitting (unlike yesterday when i had to resort to artificial intelligence…) and savored the fill and fill/clue combos.

    sweet puzzle!


  12. Anne E says:

    Another fine puzzle by Brad! I liked my solving time OK, till I saw Feyer’s. :-)

  13. Meem says:

    Began well, but then made hash of SE. UPS before DHL. Really wanted 58A to be bid. And considered understudy before unsung hero. Finally figured it out. Good Saturday puzzle. LAT fell quickly. only doover was extol before exalt.

  14. Mary Rosenberg says:

    According to Welsh physician Einion ap Rhiwallon, circa 1246 the health of the
    human body depended upon the proper balance of the four humors of the body,
    Blood, Phlegm, White Bile and Black Bile.

  15. Tuning Spork says:

    Northeast was the last to fall for me as I had LANES being closed in an emergency and a budget GAP for the longest time. Quite a workout. Last entry was trying the Y instead of A for the J M SYNGE / THY crossing.

  16. John Haber says:

    JM SYNGE wasn’t quite a gimme for me, but only because one doesn’t expect more than a last name, so I wondered if there were another name as well I didn’t know. But that still an easy entry for me. OLD LINE didn’t spring to mind instantly, but very idiomatic here. And HEURE was a gimme for me, and I suspect it is for many who don’t even speak French, to be honest. So my troubles lay elsewhere.

    I, too, had LANES and GAP, which made that hard, and I didn’t recognize REBOUND GUY or HOBO BAG, and had to come here to find out where GREENBELT worked. I imagined, say, either that a surrounding less developed area around a city might contain enough trees for someone to use an ax or might be the defining border for a weather copter reporting on the metropolitan area. While I didn’t know THE BAD SEED and only slowly recognized VELOCIPEDE and SUEZ CRISIS, that was actually my first corner to fall. Overall, easy for me to start and hard to finish, but only fair for a Saturday.

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