Saturday, 4/16/11

NYT 6:15 


Newsday 5:40 


LAT 4:16 


CS  11:31 (Sam) 



Robert Wolfe’s New York Times crossword

4/16/11 NY Times crossword solution 0416

This puzzle’s built around a grab bag of 15-letter answers:

  • 17a. “THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE.” [“No way!”]
  • 34a. “ARE YOU LISTENING?” I say that often, but never in a microphone/[“Is this thing on?”] setting. The clue feels off target here.
  • 53a. Terrific answer, “WHAT’S THE VERDICT?” [“Guilty or not?”]
  • 3d. AS A MATTER OF FACT is a great 5-word phrase. [Actually] gets at it pretty well.
  • 7d. Wait, wait, wait. What? PEPPERMINT CREAM?? I have never encountered a [Zingy cupcake filling] of peppermint cream. Had some great cupcakes last weekend with marshmallow cream and strawberry puree fillings, though.
  • 11d. MOBILE LIBRARIES offer [Novel ideas for rural areas?] somehow. Not sure the double meanings of “novel” quite work here.

Lots of unthrilling fill here, ranging from the obscure (ARMETS, ACTA in a Latin phrase) to the overused/crosswordese (LAHR, ASTA, ESSENE, ESTEE, HOER), from clunky abbreviations (DAU, VSO, STDS, SRS, BMI not clued as body mass index—and why is it always, always clued as an ASCAP rival, [Performing rights org.], or other music-related org.? Who knows that?? Who doesn’t know BMI = body mass index at this point?) to names (CELIA, TEX, JAIME, OTTO, AVILA).

Further remarks:

  • 12d and 25d make a nice pair, the WOLVERINES vs. a PORKPIE HAT.
  • 29d. [He married He] is a tough clue for MAO. I like it!
  • 47d. [“The Red Skelton Show” regular]? Really? It was mainly a 1950s-’60s show, and its Wikipedia page mentions no FARR. I’m guessing Jamie Farr of M*A*S*H. Okay, I’m gonna label this a lousy clue. IMDb says Jamie Farr appeared on “5 episodes, 1956-1960.” Five episodes in 20 years does not a “regular” make! Ah, here’s the problem. The Wikipedia article on Farr says “Farr began to carve out his niche in television when, in the late 1950s, he became a regular on The Red Skelton Show before becoming a second banana with Harvey Korman on The Danny Kaye Show.” Is this where the clue came from?
  • 44d. [“Torchwood” was spun off from it] clues DR. WHO. Pardon me, but the show is called Doctor Who (an anagram of Torchwood). In general, we abbreviate “doctor” as “Dr.” only when it precedes the doctor’s name, and this show’s character is “The Doctor.” There is no one named “Dr. Who” so I don’t think it’s legitimate crossword fill (despite its prior appearances in NYT, LAT, and CrosSynergy puzzles).

Three stars from me.

Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Rows Garden”

This is perhaps my least favorite of Berry’s Rows Gardens, just because so very many of the Rows clues were miles away from my wheelhouse. Sports, the Bible, early ’60s music, and Rodgers and Hammerstein accounted for seven of the answers, and then there’s PARADE REST, which I assumed was a marching band term but is actually from the military. (Sigh.) Most of the Blooms weren’t so hard, but I had no idea where to put them when I started out with one solitary Rows answer in the grid. Eventually it all came together, but not before I Googlized my husband. I asked him if he knew what sport played a World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he was astonished that I had no idea the answer was LITTLE LEAGUERS. I was thinking it might be some sort of…bowling. Had no idea, honestly.

Toughest Blooms clue: [Makeshift percussion instruments] for SPOONS.

Eventually everything came together, though, and none of the fill is obscure or pained. So it’s standard Berry, just hitting too many subjects I don’t know. Gah! Four stars. I can’t go to five stars when I didn’t enjoy the puzzle anywhere near as much as most Berry Rows Gardens.

Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword

4/16/11 LA Times crossword answers

I liked this puzzle a lot, an enthusiastic 4 stars’ worth. There’s no shortage of cool words, several of which happen to feature the letter O prominently:

  • 8a. OSMOSE, [Become absorbed]. I became absorbed in doing this puzzle, but there was no osmosis.
  • 14a. Ha! The CAPITAL O is a [Eugene O’Neill character?]. The question mark sort of gives it away, doesn’t it?
  • 2d. OPPUGN, [Call into question]. On Facebook the other day, Paula Gamache noted that this anagrams to pop gun. (Not to mention GOP pun.)
  • 8d. OSLO, [City with the newspaper Aftenposten].
  • 11d. ORDINARY, [Prosaic].
  • 24d. ORIGINS, [Sources].
  • 36d. OBSIDIAN, [Volcanic glass].

There’s also an O’ER, but no OLEO, OREO, or OHO.

Other highlights:

  • 30d. KAFKAESQUE, [Menacingly complex, as a bureaucracy]. That word is hard to type. Are there any other words that contain the FKAE string of letters?
  • 5d. BABY-PROOFS, [Puts up gates, say]. Don’t think I’ve seen this one in a crossword before.
  • 16a. The ALPHABET is clued as an [Order in a preschool classroom].
  • 20a. I only recently learned that a BORGIA became pope—[Surname of 15th/16th-century Pope Alexander VI]. He was the father, out of wedlock, of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. Lovely family.
  • 35a. [Summertime response to a wave?], meaning a heat wave, is “HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?” Fabulous crossword answer!
  • 61a. PAUL KLEE, [“Viaducts Break Ranks” painter].
  • 20d. BRACH’S is a [Big name in candy corn] and jelly beans. Would you believe my local Walgreens store had eight varieties of jelly beans, several of them from Brach’s, and none were the standard Brach’s jelly bird eggs I want to put in an Easter basket?
  • 6d, 63a. Nobody’s excited to see ALERO in the grid, but since the car is no longer made, it gets called into action for a cross-reference clue for USED CAR.
  • 33d. I’m fond of the -id words, like TURBID, meaning [Murky]. Sadly, there is no noun form spelled turbor, just turbidity and turbidness. “Mind your own turbidness!”

Updated Saturday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Seed Pearl”—Sam Donaldson’s review

I think my favorite part of this great puzzle is the wonderful misdirection in the title (and in the theme clues, all written as “Seed Pearl, part __”). The unabridged title would probably be “Seed Pearl of Wisdom,” as the puzzle’s them is a little pearl of wisdom about a certain seeded fruit: KNOWLEDGE IS / KNOWING A TOMATO / IS A FRUIT. / WISDOM IS / NOT PUTTING IT IN / A FRUIT SALAD. Solving the puzzle from top to bottom, it even took a while to figure out this was a quote theme. When I uncovered that the first two parts started with “KNOW-,” I thought that would be the case for all the theme entries. It wasn’t until I had most of KNOWING A TOMATO that I realized I was working with a quote theme. After that, the theme entries fell into place rather quickly. The rest of the puzzle still took a while to fall (after all, it’s a Klahn), but it was an enjoyable ride. I’m normally not one for quote themes, but this one worked for me.

We have come to expect outstanding clues in a Klahn puzzle, and today’s offering has several. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The [Winner at Caesar’s Palace] is VII. (Seven at the craps table is a winner, on the first roll at least.) What a great way to clue a Roman numeral! It sure beats [With MM, year in the reign of Benedict XVI].
  • [“Let us bray” beginning] is a fun clue for HEE (as in “Hee Haw,” I believe).
  • You want alliteration in your clues? How about [Pizarro’s palindromic pelf] for ORO (gold)? Or [Polished pinky part] for NAIL and [Tickled texter’s titter] for LOL? Nice combinations, all of them.
  • A [Smack in the face?] is a KISS. One could fairly complain that a kiss is a smack on the face and not in the face, but I still had a tiny (and enjoyable) “aha moment” when I figured it out.

There’s also some terrific fill like HOLY WAR, LOST OUT, HOW SO, and DRIES UP. But I can’t pretend this grid is flawless. SHHHH, clued [“Stop talking!”] is rather awkward, especially at 1-Across. And 1-Down, STK, the [NASDAQ buy] is not any prettier. I realize sometimes there’s no choice (I’ve used STK myself in a published puzzle), but having them as the first Across and Down entries attracts too much attention.

Some of the fill is just downright hard (meaning there was a lot I just didn’t know), and it was ICI ET LA ([Here and there, to Pierre]) throughout the grid. Take for example [Eau de] VIE, another name for brandy (such a fine girl). And there’s the punny clue [Place to gambol], which I think I would like a lot more if I knew what gamboling is, much less that it takes place at a LEA. MAGOG as the [Armageddon nation] means nothing to me, but that’s not the puzzle’s fault. I know I’ve seen ODETTE, the [“Swan Lake” swan], at least a few times before in crosswords, but for some reason I always try ODETTA first. Finally, LIMN, to [Paint with words], just looks all kinds of wrong to me. But again, that’s my own shortcoming. Overall, I found this one challenging but ultimately fair and enjoyable. And you?

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (under pen name Lester Ruff)

4/16/11 Newsday crossword solution "Saturday Stumper"

Nothing out of the ordinary here—nothing clunky, it’s quite smooth, but nothing to write home about either.

Favorite clues and answers:

  • 34a. [French bread] may be a BAGUETTE.
  • 64a. ECUADOR is the [Land named for an imaginary line], the equator.
  • 7d. [General Shrapnel or Burnside] clues EPONYM. Shrapnel takes its name from Britain’s Henry Shrapnel, who invented the shell, and sideburns are named after Gen. Burnside, who sported cheek hair.
  • 40d. [Ipanema native] means “native of Rio de Janeiro,” which is a CARIOCA. This demonym derives from the Tupi word kari’oka, meaning “house of the white man.”
  • 44d. [It may be gone for] is my favorite clue. Go for broke? Go for a smoke? Go for carry-out? No, go for the JUGULAR.

Ten more clues:

  • 1a. If you [Pin in a ring], as in pinning your opponent in the ring, you may WRESTLE.
  • 18a. RACHAEL Ray is the [Name on the cover of “30 Minute Meals”].
  • 23a. A FIN is a [Torpedo stabilizer].
  • 32a. [15 Across inhabitant] clues NESTER, 15a being HENCOOP, or [Fowl territory]. One of my Facebook friends keeps chickens in her back yard. I have yet to see her refer to any of her hens as a “nester.”
  • 43a. SHOJIS are a [Japanese home’s partitions].
  • 52a. [Knight at the opera] clues TRISTAN.
  • 11d. I have no idea where NEHI is still sold, but it’s a [Snapple sister brand].
  • 13d. Mount EVEREST was a [Place in the news, June 1953]. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit on May 29, but word didn’t get out until June 2, just in time for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
  • 31d. [Quark + antiquark] = MESON.
  • 42d. [Chip shape] clues DISK. Is this about round Tostitos? Some disk-shaped computer chip? I have no idea.

A lukewarm 4 stars. Nothing wrong with the puzzle, but nothing terribly new either.


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27 Responses to Saturday, 4/16/11

  1. Gary says:

    Re: NYT puzzle

    Thought this was just “okay.” Took me quite a while to finish – last letter in was the “A” at the crossing of ACTA and ARMETS – just a guess.

    Lots to dislike in the short fill:

    5D: Psi must be one of the least-common Greek letters in fraternity names. Why not just “Random Greek letters?”

    6D: I believe Lance Corporal used to be a rank in the U.S. Army (USA) and still is a rank in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC). USM is where Brett Favre played college football.

    26D: DAU is an abbreviation for daughter? lists 11 meanings for the abbreviation DAU. None of them is “daughter.” One of them is “drivel as usual.”

    29D: Can’t imagine why I didn’t immediately recognize the name of the third of Mao’s four wives!

  2. HH says:

    “DAU is an abbreviation for daughter? lists 11 meanings for the abbreviation DAU.”

    It’s in Webster’s Guide to Abbreviations. (Maybe if people still looked things up in books,….)

  3. Duke says:

    A “rear’s rear” is an “ender”???

  4. Evad says:

    @Duke: As in “rear-ender.”

  5. Matt says:

    I thought the NYT was a pretty solid themeless… I had some difficulty getting a foothold at the start, so the crosswordy three-letter words were actually helpful, and the longer entries were good, IMO. At least we didn’t get yet another definition for ERG…

  6. ArtLvr says:

    OPPUGN was a new one for me, couldn’t get past Impugn, so I missed the crosswordese of the CAPITAL O, drat. Shouldn’t fall for that, but I liked Brad Willbur’s LA puzzle a lot. Favorite answers: OBSIDIAN, SERAGLIO, EROTICA and of course KAFKAESQUE! BABY-PROOFS was Bar the door at first, but then all went smoothly until I missed that NW O bit.

    Bob Klahn’s SEED PEARLS title was weird to start with, but I did his CS opus rather fast because I worked from the bottom up! It turned out to be extremely clever… natch.

    I solved Robert Wolfe’s NYT with the super-long crosses last night, and it took slightly longer than expected. Not knowing the name of the Bionic Woman at 30A, I guessed at St. Anselm’s for 30D, but with St. JOSEPH’S all fell smoothly. Never heard of ERASER-HEAD either, but it didn’t matter! Yes, clues were sometimes painful, like MAO married to HE, Intuition perfume person and hairy-faced ASTA, but DAU was no problem.

  7. Martin says:

    Dau for daughter is also in my Random House 2nd. It has its own separate entry.

    -Martin (A-S)

  8. pannonica says:

    “Are there any other words that contain the FKAE string of letters?” –AR pointed me to the IT acronym TAFKAEFKAF: “The Anomaly Formerly Known As Errata Formerly Known As Flaw.”

    Uhm, geek out?

  9. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. I also liked the BRACH’S in the LAT, though I didn’t know the company was still around! My dad was their attorney for years, and they always sent a candy sampler at Christmas — the only corporate gift he ever accepted! We bought our own outboard motor though Johnson’s offered one, ditto our first TV rather than accept one from Motorola or whoever. Where are such ethical standards these days? Long gone, it seems.

  10. Meem says:

    I am frequently flummoxed by Bob Klahn puzzles. But today’s solved smoothly and I liked it.

    Feelings hot and cold on NYT. Good grid spanners and 10s. Too many plurals in the short fill: BMWs/armets/psis/okras/antis/srs/bairns/stds.

  11. pmerrell says:

    Jamie Farr makes that claim himself (about being a regular) on his Web site. It could be resume enhancement, but the factoid, which is repeated by Wikipedia and other sites, does have an authentic source: A book about the Skelton show describes Farr as part of the show’s “cast of rotating characters for two years.”

  12. animalheart says:

    I was a bigger fan of this puzzle than most here, though I also wondered about USM. The NE was the last to fall for me, probably because I had “IF I Lost You” instead of “I’VE Lost You” for the Elvis hit. WOLVERINES came very slowly, since I figured the “Rear’s rear” as ENDED and I had no idea what the 507s of the ’50s were. But I liked the long entries. 4 stars from me.

  13. Mick Brown says:

    I remember USM being defended several years ago here (the old forum), but you’ll never hear/see any current or former Marines use USM. It’s’always USMC.

  14. Mitchs says:

    Easiest Stumper ever. (Ok, in the couple of months I’ve been doing them.)

  15. Erik says:

    Must agree with the above assessment, because this is the first time I’ve ever finished a Saturday Stumper without cheating.

  16. I agree with you about the WSJ Rows Garden, Amy — probably the toughest RG I’ve ever done. Interestingly, LITTLE LEAGUERS was my only gimme on the first run-through of the clues. So much of it was out of my wheelhouse, what with mysteries like HELLESPONT, TRACK BALL (?), PARADE REST, PRICKLY HEAT, the clue for CHINATOWN, etc. I love how I can stare at a nearly-blank grid and somehow, someway solve it, albeit a few hours later — that’s a big allure of a good Rows Garden. I agree, though, that this isn’t Patrick’s greatest offering.

  17. John Haber says:

    Some pretty bizarre fill, like DAU and FARR/FAA, and I too had “If I (Lost You)” for a long time. Still, the unusual and challenging grid of widely dispersed long entries made it a good puzzle, I think.

  18. ArtLvr says:

    It came back to me — it wasn’t BRACH’S we had at Xmas, it was BEICH candies! They were located outside Chicago from 1892, but Google says the factory burned down in 2005. Heiress Kathryn Beich has managed to keep the business going, mainly providing specialty chocolates for fund-raising projects. Has anyone else ever heard of them?

  19. Art Shapiro says:

    Pretty easy for a Saturday, but nice long entries. Having virtually no knowledge of movies, I was rather astounded to read in Orange’s commentary that Jamie Farr is a “he”. I always thought the name (known to me only by crosswords) was that of a woman.


  20. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @ArtLvr: Yep, Kathryn Beich chocolate bars for fundraisers. I’m partial to the chocolate with almonds.

  21. Meem says:

    ArtLvr: Kathryn Beich Candies was based in Bloomington, Illinois. In 2008, the Bloomington operation (then owned by Nestle’s) was closed. The name and some of the products were sold to Great American Opportunities, a school fund-raising company based in Nashville.

  22. AngelSong says:

    I don’t see a link to contact Amy, so I’ll put my comment here and hopefully someone will know the answer to my questions, of which I have 3:

    First, alas I slept in today and the daily standings had already switched over to Sunday before I finished the Saturday puzzle. Is there any way to see the standings for a previous day’s puzzles?

    Second, is there a timer somewhere for the CS puzzle that I’m not seeing?

    And finally, is the WSJ Saturday puzzle available online? I don’t see a link for it on the Today’s Puzzles page.

  23. Jeffrey says:


    1) Nope.
    2) Nope.

    3) Click on the “Crossword Links” tab above. “Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzles” is about a dozen links down.

  24. KC says:

    I too, agree that the WSJ Rows Garden was tricky! I think I finished, but I don’t know why Capone is the answer for “George’s successor”, if it is indeed the answer. If Hellespont and Relay Race are correct, then Capone is correct, but why? Any help, please?

  25. joon says:

    KC, {George’s successor} is BARACK. CAPONE is the answer to {Nitti’s boss}.

  26. KC says:

    Thanks! I sure got mixed up there, but at least the answers were right. I had found a Nitti who worked on Obama’s campaign, but that wouldn’t have been right anyway because it was her last name.

  27. Louise Cohen says:

    42 down: Chip Shape answer is “disk” which is the shape of a Poker chip!

Comments are closed.