Saturday, 10/23/10

Newsday 8:06
NYT 5:12
LAT 4:39
CS untimed
WSJ Saturday Puzzle 28 minutes, two answers missing—cryptic crossword PDF

Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 12Yep, sure enough—this puzzle strikes me as being of Friday difficulty, and Friday’s felt like Saturday. So much for getting a wickedly hard puzzle today. Or is it? There are certainly clues that don’t readily announce their answers and at least one answer that doesn’t readily announce its spelling. That latter one? 12d: AL ZARQAWI, [Subject of the 2008 book “How to Break a Terrorist”].

My favorite clues and answers:

  • 1a. [Couples’ activity once considered scandalous] is, much to my surprise, WALTZING.
  • 17a. Nutty answer: “NO, NO, NO, NO.” [“You’re doing it all wrong!”] (Would prefer not to have NONE crossing the NOs and NOT.)
  • 18a. I forgot I learned this word from a previous NYT crossword. The [Green goof] on the golf course is a FOOZLE. How many of you who recognized this word know it only from that other FOOZLE puzzle?
  • 23a. SHATNERESQUE is a new word for me, but with just the initial S and the clue, I filled it in. [Like overdramatic spoken-word versions of pop songs]? Yep. Here’s his “Rocket Man.”
  • 32a. [They’re plopped down] could mean only REARS.
  • 43a. TONYA HARDING! She’s the skating [Athlete stripped of a 1994 national title]. Your first thought was steroids and track and field, wasn’t it, and not knee-capping?
  • 51a. Shakespeare, THE BARD.
  • 60a. I don’t really know why WOODSHED is a [Place of discreet punishment]. Aww, I would’ve loved a fill-in-the-blank quote from Cold Comfort Farm: [“I saw something nasty in the ___.”]
  • 22d. Wait, are the Scottish people absolutely bonkers? Why is a UNICORN [Part of Scotland’s coat of arms]?
  • 48d. Did the rest of you devour the “history of the alphabet” bits in the dictionary when you were kids? Can you picture the pictogram of the ox’s head that shaped the letter A? ALEPH is the [Letter resembling an ox’s head]. See for yourself. (And no, I don’t think I remember any of the letters past A!)

What’s this lemon ANGEL PIE? Is it just that I don’t much care for lemon desserts, or is this a fairly obscure pie as pies go?

I presume that this 68-worder is a pangram, given the Scrabbly letters, but don’t wish to check for all 26 letters.

The northwest and southeast corners are mostly cut off from the rest of the grid. Did you have trouble getting in and out of those sections? I had enough shorter gimmes in there to get a good toehold.

My husband was doing another crossword recently and ranted when he had to fill in SOYA. Here, we’ve got the SOYA BEAN as a [Lecithin source]. Do any of you call it a “soya bean,” or are we all in “soybean” territory? I think the “soya” version is generally British, though we see it clued without reference to region in our crosswords.

Bob Peoples’ Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 11I absolutely love the two 11-letter down answers in this puzzle:

  • 11d. [Hardly a Michelin three-star eatery] clues a GREASY SPOON.
  • 23d. To [Catnap] is to CATCH A FEW Z’S.

Aren’t those great? Tons o’ colloquial flavor. OLD-WHAT’S-HIS-NAME (60a. [Reference to a long-forgotten acquaintance]) is good too. The overall vibe is casual and light, not much arcane stuff, not many people’s names to know.

And now, a clue roundup:

  • 8a. Some [Small hounds] are BEAGLES.
  • 15a. [Question at a wine tasting] clues “HOW IS IT?” I’m not sure how I’d clue this, but I’m not fond of this clue.
  • 17a. [“You’ve made your point!”] gives us a five-word answer, “OK, I GET IT ALREADY.”
  • 34a. [One who draws exceptionally well?] is a MEGASTAR. Drawing audiences, not pictures.
  • 50a. SANTÉ is [Health, in Le Havre]. À votre santé!
  • 3d. [Swing both ways] clues SWITCH-HIT, which has both baseball and sexual connotations.
  • 7d. ST. IVES is a [Destination in a poetic riddle], the “As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives” riddle.
  • 49d. INDIA is the [Birthplace of Merle Oberon]. Okay, this one’s pretty arcane unless you’re a fan of 1930s and ’40s movies. (Here’s where John Farmer expresses dismay at my lack of familiarity with the oeuvre of Merle Oberon.)

Updated Saturday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Out with the Old”—Janie’s review

And we close out the week with yet another substitution-themed puzzle. This time, though, it’s a full-word-for-full-word gimmick whose title suggests something we say at New Year’s—and also the merchant in Aladdin’s bazaar who was swapping out “new lamps for old.” Five familiar phrases with the adjective “old” as a descriptor in them are re-conceived with the word “new”—leading to some amusing results (and note that the first two and last two are stacked in the grid—with a 7-letter overlap):

  • 17A. [Where Enya might live?] NEW AGE HOME. Oh, this is a goodie—because new age is a well-worn phrase in itself by now and resonates humorously with the base phrase “old age home.”
  • 20A. [What a plagiarist might write with someone else’s original idea?] SAME NEW STORY. Shades of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
  • 36A. [Cable channel for parents with recently born sons?] NEW BOY NETWORK. Funny concept. I know this is a parent-centric “network,” but I have trouble not imagining a nursery filled with a group of diaper-clad, cigar-chompin’ baby boys. Gotta start ’em young!
  • 56A. [Brides’ recounting of their honeymoons?] NEW WIVES’ TALES. Same group may have embarked on said honeymoons with more than their share of “old wives’ tales,” too…
  • 62A. [Salutation to a first-time father?] “DEAR NEW DAD.” If he’s the father of a son, perhaps it’s to tell him about the New Boy Network

Of the remaining fill, we get two wonderful nines: TASTE BUDS [They know the difference between sweet and sour] and whether or not the IRISH STEW [Hearty pub meal] has been seasoned properly (or the OLLA [Podrida] for that matter).

No eights or sevens today but a lotto fine sixes and another grid that offers triple 6-columns—this time in the SW and NE. Among my picks: TEA SET and the image-making [Afternoon trayful], N.Y. METS [“Miracle” W.S. winners of 1969] (yes, they’re my “home team” here—even after what they did to my Birds in ’69…), the alliterative SOIRÉE and SWAYED, BONGOS clued as [What Beatniks might beat] (daddy-o…), and “I SEE IT!” [Response to “Look!”].

There are also several clue/fill combos that helped keep things lively and the brain workin’. And they’d be:

  • [Countenance, colloquially]/PUSS. (As in humorist S.J. Perelman’s own Vinegar Puss.)
  • [Pointless weapon]/ÉPÉE. Though it does sound like the épée can inflict a good bit of pain anyway, capable of producing [Stinging remarks?] or “OW!”S.
  • [Hula hoop?]/LEI.
  • [Come into one’s own]/BLOOM. A lovely, poetic pairing.
  • [Certain briefs, briefly]/BVDS.
  • And the anatomically correct [Hand holder?] for ARM.

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

All right, I declare this one the week’s toughest crossword, but it’s all fair. Eventually I unraveled all my wrong turns and pieced it all together. It would’ve gone a lot more quickly for me if I’d recognized [“The Fame Monster” performer] as LADY GAGA or if I’d remembered the existence of UNCLE FESTER and not just the other [Addams character]s, such as Wednesday, Cousin Itt, Pugsley, Morticia, and Gomez (none of whom has an 11-letter name).

This grid is laid out differently from the LAT puzzle, but once again, two of my favorite entries are the 11-letter Downs in the exact same places. Besides Uncle F., there’s a GLAZED DONUT ([Treat from a box], but only if you order a dozen or so). Man, I wish I had one now. My husband just came back from Dunkin Donuts and I have my usual order, the chocolate-frosted cake donut.

Let’s look at what we’ve got here today. The overarching vibe is “short, vague clues that hinge on a less common meaning”—in other words, standard Stumper fare. Only without, I am glad to see, the pop culture trivia that’s unknown to most of those under the age of 70.

  • 1a. [Big touchdown maker] was a gimme for me this time: JUMBO JET.
  • 16a. If you just [Wink at] someone’s transgression, you pretty much IGNORE it.
  • 34a. CARE BEARS are [Toys with belly badges]. Care Bears aren’t of my generation or my kid’s generation, and I’d appreciate it if constructors would quit making me think about them.
  • 36a. Male HARES are [Some bucks].
  • 38a. Religious [Service providers] are REVERENDS, sometimes. See that Stumper trademark? “Service provider” usually means something different, but the clue has no question mark to cue solvers to think outside the box here.
  • 41a. DAEDALUS was the [Labyrinth creator]? A bit of Greek mythology I had forgotten.
  • 44a. [Pants attachment, perhaps] clues KEYRING. This is primarily a guy thing.
  • 58a. I outwitted myself here. I thought, “Oh! It must be seed beds or flower beds, not furniture.” But [Facility with many beds] is a SLEEP LAB full of actual beds. D’oh!
  • 6d. [Anglicized form of Hieronymus] is JEROME. I knew this one. *patting self on back, feeling entitled to donut*
  • 8d. Why are [Equal amts.] TSPS., or teaspoons? Because the artificial sweetener, capital-E Equal, can be dosed by the teaspoon.
  • 12d. [It’s named for the Sun King] means LOUISIANA, named after Louis XIV. I always forget that “the Sun King” isn’t an ancient Egyptian.
  • 29d. DRAG is a [Concept in fluid dynamics]. Physics!
  • 34d. [11th-century Danish king] CANUTE (var. Knut, Cnut) was the Danish king of England, Denmark, and Norway.
  • 44d. [Canadian jazz artist] Diana KRALL has a famous musician husband, Elvis Costello.
  • 45d. [Words before a showdown] is talking about poker games, not a duel at high noon: “I CALL.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Seasonal Song” variety cryptic

Okay, I’ve figured out the song title in the shaded squares (“BYE BYE BIRDIE”) and I’ve figured out the gimmick (excise a bird from each of the 12 song-affected entries), but I’m at a loss for 17-Across. No, wait, I see that INTO A RENTAL has 11 letters, and if it’s “moving,” it’s being anagrammed. Aha! ALTERNATION, drop the TERN. It’s so easy now, but earlier this morning when I did the rest of the puzzle, it just wasn’t coming together.

The other bird answers are:

  • 14a. ANOTher onE
  • 19a. BowlEGGED
  • 23a. HAMMErheaDS
  • 27a. POPINjay. This is the one that revealed the theme to me fairly early on.
  • 32a. DISrobinG
  • 2d. RegretTABLE
  • 4d. CARRIEd oveR
  • 6d. Uh-oh. Hang on. I didn’t figure this one out, either. [Trying to rival English mug, taking Latin], 3-letter bird coming out of a 9, leaving L_TING in the grid. Help!
  • 7d. CONTravenED. This was a tough one.
  • 18d. DErailMENTS
  • 29a. BALloonIST

The weirdest word in the puzzle is 11a: ETNEAN. Really? An adjectival form of Mt. Etna? That’s a new one on me.

I think this cryptic was harder than the other WSJ cryptics by Hex, but then again, I was on the couch with my kid while he did his “current events” homework (did you hear about the water they found on the moon?), so I wasn’t completely focused on the puzzle. Probably would have been less than 28 minutes to almost-finish if I hadn’t been multitasking.

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21 Responses to Saturday, 10/23/10

  1. joon says:

    nope, this puzzle was harder than yesterday’s. never heard of AL ZARQAWI, or SHATNERESQUE (which i couldn’t fill in until i had SHAT____S_UE), ANGEL PIE, HELENE hanff, or the verb SNAILED. the NW and SW filled themselves in all right (although i was thinking 43a might be MIAMI HURRICANE or some such, rather than a specific person). the rest was hard. and yeah, i only knew FOOZLE from its previous appearance. well, that and its completely different meaning that will never be in a NYT crossword, i think.

    “take to the woodshed” means to punish someone, especially discreetly. it’s even in the new oxford american. i’ve seen it used a lot in sports to refer to a one-sided contest: “boy, nadal really took him to the woodshed today.”

    i have to say, i’m always a big fan of will nediger’s themelesses, but this is probably my least favorite of his that i can remember. the good stuff is pretty good, but then there’s stuff like SNAILED, HOERS, SITED and UNITER that i’m not wild about. GRAILS and ZENITHS would be a lot better in the singular, too.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I never heard of SHATNERESQUE either, but it was a gimmee with no letters, making that the most accurate clue ever created.

  3. Jimbo206 says:

    NYT is 25/26 of a pangram- missing only an X.

  4. Don Byas says:

    25% faster than yesterday. I liked this:
    Waltzing!? I dare not. No No No No!
    Knew FOOZLE from its previous appearance.

    Jazz musicians use WOODSHED to mean practicing. Often it’s shortened to shed, as in: “Coltrane shedded incessantly to hone his ideas”.
    “King Joe”, written by BASIE for boxer Joe Louis:
    Sung by Paul Robeson in 1941, 8 years before he was hounded by HUAC.
    NOONAN – A thousand points of lightweight, platitudinous dreck.

  5. sbmanion says:

    Trial lawyers refer to woodshedding their own witnesses: they take them out to the woodshed to prepare them for the questions they will receive on cross examination.

    Fun puzzle.


  6. Gareth says:

    Yeah, this was Friday territory – heck 9:59 for me is FAST for a Friday! A lot more flat-out obvious answers (starting with ARCADE) I think I had one yesterday: ROXYMUSIC! Lots of delightful answers though: ALZARQAWI especially! Never heard of: SHATNERESQUE, ANGELPIE or WOODSHED (wanted WOOL for a while). They were quite obvious after a few crosses though. Amy: Surprised you didn’t bring up SNAILED, which I never knew could be a verb! The UNICORN as a symbol of Scotland is immortalised in the nursery rhyme “The Lion and the Unicorn” (and a Lion as a symbol of England is just as nutty!). Trickiest part: 51D had ??AN and put in ASAN (Strong ASAN ox) – SELENE was as plausible as HELENE, but AHEBARD made no sense – last chunk to fall. And I never gave a thought about SOYA, it’s the standard version here in South Africa.

    LAT: Loved OLDWHATSHISNAME!! OLDWHATSHISFACE would’ve been cooler though IMO! Actually took a little longer than the NYT, but felt easier. Felt really hardcore plunking down ISHTAR without crossers (only thanks to other crosswords though). Same for EDASNER lol.

  7. Matt says:

    I had THISTLE/UNICORN, SPOONING/WALTZING and FOOTLE/FOOZLE (neither of which makes sense to me) confusions, so this one took Saturday-ish time for me. Fun puzzle, though, liked SHATNERESQUE, NONONO, and TONYAHARDING. JAIALAI sent me back, for a moment, to the ancient Days Of Maleska.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Don Byas, this is a beautiful phrase: “A thousand points of lightweight, platitudinous dreck.”

  9. Karen says:

    I vote for soybeans. Also for this being a hard puzzle. I had difficulty in the SE, also AL ZARQAWI crossing both FOOZLE and TWAS. TROLLS was a nice gimme.

  10. animalheart says:

    Substantially faster than yesterday’s. I doubt that SHATNERESQUE is in any dictionary, but it was a semi-gimme for me, as was ALZARQAWI, JUNO, HELENE Hanff, and Peggy NOONAN. TONYAHARDING came fairly quickly, as did ARMANI, THEBARD, and SAINTELMO. Definitely think that Will mixed up Friday and Saturday this week.

    Amy, clearly you’ve never been taken to the WOODSHED since you’ve always been a very well-behaved child.

  11. john farmer says:

    I suspect Merle Oberon’s birthplace was a gimme for…nobody?…ok, her family. Maybe it’s easier if you don’t know who she is. With a name like that, she should have tried crosswords…

    Good LAT today. In my local paper Bob Peoples is now R.M. Peoples.

  12. Al Sanders says:

    Amy, 6d in the Hex Cryptic is emuLATING. I really liked this one although the theme dropped a little early. REGRETTABLE, with the pretty obvious EGRET, is what clicked for me, enabling me to write BYE BYE BIRDIE in the colored squares right away.

    I was doing OK in the NYT but got really istuck n that ALZARQAWI corner. Plus I’m in Breckenridge this weekend (snow!) and so did it on the applet. Not pretty.

    Just to show that themeless difficulty is very solver-centric, while you were almost half my time on the NYT, I thought the SS was one of the easier in a while, under 6 for me, which almost never happens. JUMBO JET fell right away, and the puzzle flowed smoothly from there for me.

  13. Plot says:

    Even though I finished the NYT slightly faster than Friday’s, it still felt harder. I had a lot of initially incorrect entries slowing me down: I thought ‘Zebra zone’ referred to a referee in a STADIUM and ‘Heart recipient’ was some sort of bridge reference. Meanwhile in the NE corner, I thought the ‘farm stirrer’ was a butter CHURNER and I entered DEAR instead of DOLL. I spent the majority of my time figuring out how to correct all of those errors.

    I thought the Newsday was actually a lot easier than usual; It took me a lot less time than the NYT, which is rare. Its probably because a lot of the longer entries were clued without wordplay, making it easier to get them and open up the rest of the grid.

  14. John Haber says:

    This was as hard as they come for me. Didn’t know at all ALZARQAWI, SHATERNESQUE, FOOZLE, ANGEL PIE, and SNAIL as a verb, and other things were just hard in other ways. Amazed I did it. So definitely an intense Friday and Saturday sequence for me.

  15. Jenni says:

    I thought this one was harder than yesterday’s, and I liked it. I didn’t remember FOOZLE from the previous puzzle and resisted filling in the Z for a while. Just loved SHATNERESQUE, and NONONONO and WALTZING. Fun puzzle.

  16. ePeterso2 says:

    For me, today’s was more difficult than Friday’s – Friday I got in one sitting, this one took three.

    I think what made it more difficult for me was the number of spots where I felt more than one answer would fit: SWINGING in 1A, FURROW in 16A, FRILLED in 20D, MAILS in 35A, HEAVEN in 44D, etc. I spent most of my time figuring out these errors … maybe yesterday’s puzzle had the same kinds of issues, but I got a lot luckier in guessing the right words the first time.

    I enjoyed this one – in fact, the NW and SE were the spots I finished first. AL ZARQAWI/ILO was my last letter in the grid.

  17. Matt says:

    Commented wrong day, will resubmit

  18. MC says:

    Sat WSJ # 6 d EMUlating

  19. alan l cohen says:

    sorry this is so late. from the latimes 10/23/10 puzzle: i cannot understand 8down: “cherry, so to speak” – answer: “brandnew”! can someone pls explain this to me? tks, alan l cohen

  20. pannonica says:

    alan: “cherry” is the new “mint” in hipspeak (almost certainly from a certain anatomical connotation), although I’m sure it’s already past its prime at the time of this writing. I’d find a link to for corroboration but the truth is that I’m so frequently appalled at what I find there that I recuse.

  21. alan l cohen says:

    pannonica: thankyou so much. alan

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