Saturday, 4/7/12

NYT 8:02 
Newsday 6:42 
LAT 4:26 
CS 4:32 (Sam) 
Celebrity untimed 

Robert Wolfe’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 7 12 0407

You know what word I haven’t been using much lately? “Scowl-o-Meter.” Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to our old friend, the Scowl-o-Meter! I had too many of those “That’s a word?”/”Is that really a lexical chunk?”/”Ack, not both of those?”/”Wow, I don’t know that I’ve seen that Latin partial before”/”Yuck” moments. By category, here are the scowl inducers:

  3. HESSE and ESSEN. Who among us doesn’t think of ESSEN when we find HESSE clued as a German place name rather than the German writer?
  4. IN HOC

I do like I’M NOT INTERESTED, and the TOWER OF LONDON is great (forgot it was the [Traitors’ Gate locale] but I urge any of you who are planning your first visit to London to spend a few hours touring the Tower). My favorite clue is the one for the sport of LACROSSE, [The Cherokee deemed it good training for war]. The most perplexing clue for me was 13d: [Fat part] for LEAD; eventually I figured out that the LEAD role is a fat, meaty part in a play or movie. Classics answer I didn’t know, but many of you probably leapt on as a flat-out gimme: AENEAS, the [Heroic son of Prince Anchises].

I really wanted HAVE A GOOD MIND TO to be HAVE HALF A MIND TO. Would you rather have a good mind or half a mind to do something?

2.75 stars.
Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “3-D Movies” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Solution to CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, April 7

Today’s puzzle features four movies with 15-letter titles where three of the 15 letters are D’s:

  • 17-Across: CROCODILE DUNDEE is the [1986 comedy with the tagline “The Wizard of Auz hits The Big Apple!”]. Crikey, that’s some strained wordplay.
  • 32-Across: DUMB AND DUMBERER is the [2003 comedy whose subtitle is “When Harry Met Lloyd”]. I didn’t see the first one, so I passed on this one too. But this has to be the best title for a sequel ever.
  • 38-Across: STAND AND DELIVER is the [1987 drama based on the true story of teacher Jaime Escalante]. I still remember the chant from that movie: A negative times a negative equals a positive. A negative times a negative equals a positive.
  • 59-Across: INDEPENDENCE DAY is the [1996 sci-fi movie that won the Oscar for Visual Effects]. Have a giant spaceship blow up the White House and you’ve pretty much sewn up the Oscar.

I suppose it would be thematically consistent to give this puzzle a D. But to me it’s a solid A (and I’m not one of those teachers into the “grade inflation” thing). Look at those nice, open corners formed by having only one finger of black squares (a thumb, really) poking in through the top and bottom instead of the usual two.

Is the fill especially sparkly? No (though I’m kinda partial to TWEENER, VOTED IN, and SIT UP). But the fill’s as clean as a whistle. ALB, NEU, and NYS are the only compromises, and they’re not very noticeable. It’s the clues that really give the puzzle some oomph. My favorite were [Legendary book?] for ATLAS, [Used cars?] for RODE, [Sub station?] for DELI, [Bolivian capital that isn’t La Paz] for SUCRE, and [Hangouts for quarter masters?] for ARCADES.

Peter Collins’ Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 4 7 12

Decent puzzle with a smattering of fun stuff, such as:

  • The Scrabbly SQUABBLE, QUICKEN, TERIYAKI, TEQUILA ([fun clue: 40d. [Only word heard in a 1958 song of the same name]), and LAMAZE. (Combine all five of these things for a really fun day—fight while doing the budget, make up over Japanese food and margaritas, and then head to Lamaze class.)
  • The “wait, *IAA**** can’t be right” CIA AGENT.
  • HEE-HAW, DOO-WOP, and MULLETS take us back a few decades.
  • 30a. [Upright citizen?] is a playful clue for a PIANIST.


Raise your hand if you read 61a: [City near the Khyber Pass] when you had the final -AR in place and confidently entered KANDAHAR before having to change it to PESHAWAR. Peshawar is in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, in a strategic location. Kandahar is in Afghanistan and maybe the U.S. has military operations based there?

I confess I did not blast through the 1-Across corner, with all its scholarliness:

  • 1a. PSYCHE, [Human mind]. Didn’t come to me until I had the S and H.
  • 1d. PHILIPPI, [City where a Pauline letter was received]. The bible is one of my worst trivia topics.
  • 3d. YEATSIAN, [Reminiscent of the 1919 poem “The Second Coming”]. I don’t know my poetry so at first I wondered is ELIOTIAN was a word.
  • 22a. IPSO [__ jure]. Legalese? I know my IPSO facto but not IPSO jure.

Crosswordese (and words that are less familiar in daily discourse) watch: PINNA clued as a [Frond part] rather than, say, the outer ear; RILL; OCALA; UTA; REMOP (really?); and fragment LER (58d. [The Once-__: “The Lorax” character]).

3.75 stars.

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really by Stan Newman)

Newsday "Saturday Stumper" crossword solution, 4 7 12 Ruff

I had a little help on this one because the Crosswords by PuzzleSocial posted a clue on Facebook this morning—55a. [They’re hidden in some L.A. buildings], _I_R_G_—and I was so stumped by it I commented that it had to be from the Stumper. So “–Dan” Chall gave me a link that gives away the answer: has an article about hidden secret operations, with photos of various vaguely phallic buildings in L.A. that are actually structures built to hide OIL RIGS. Neat to know. Without that spoiler, the puzzle probably would have taken me over 7 minutes. Am I just running slow today? I expected this and the last Les(s) Ruff puzzle to take 4:30 to 5:30 rather than 6-plus.

Another 16 clues to look at:

  • 1a. SAMPLER, [Product promotion package]. Please make it a chocolate sampler, okay?
  • 26a, 44a. AGE and ERAS, [Major span] and [Major spans]. That’s AGE as in, I dunno, the Ice Age and the Bronze Age and a dog’s age.
  • 36a. TACTILE, [In a sense?]. Cute. Touch is one of the five senses.
  • 49a. SECRET CODES, [Results of some substitutions]. As in cryptograms.
  • 57a. PARADER, [Patriot on the move]. Not sure if this means the New England Patriots and a Super Bowl championship celebration parade, some mysterious missile-related terminology, a Fourth of July parade reference, or what.
  • 60a. EXOTISM, [Tendency toward the unusual]. Don’t think I’ve seen that word before.
  • 61a. SETTEES, [Bowling-center fixtures]. Meaning the little couches or rows of seats for people waiting their turn to bowl? I bet a lot of you did what I did and had pin SETTERS first. Either word is quite at home in the bottom row of a crossword, where we find so many letters in the RSTLNDE family.
  • 1d. SET PLAN, [Something fixed by the meticulous]. “Set plan” doesn’t feel super lexical-chunky to me.
  • 9d. ADELIE COAST, [Penguin habitat]. I know the Adelie penguins but needed crossings to point me towards the COAST bit.
  • 13d. LOUVRED, [Shuttered, in Sheffield]. As in a window with shutters, I gather, and not shuttered = closed.
  • 14d, 24d. Polysemy! (That’s words having multiple meanings—something crossword constructors like to toy with.) Dinner [Course selections] are ENTREES while golf [Course rarities] are DOUBLE EAGLES.
  • 28d. SERB, [UN delegate since 2000]. The wording threw me off and I was thinking it was more specific (a person’s name) rather than general (any old Serbian person who serves in that position, since the year 2000 when Serbia became a UN-recognized nation, I presume).
  • 31d. OBI, [Paper strip around Japanese books]. Neat! Crosswordese OBI is more than just a sash around a kimono.
  • 38d. CAPELET, [Fashionable outerwear]. I decided that “outerwear” meant any clothes that aren’t underwear (rather than coats/jackets/etc.) and tried COUTURE first. I…do not own a capelet.
  • 49d. SPICE, [Zesty element]. Its chemical symbol is Hot.

The Stumper always gives us so many clues to bend our brains around, clues that are far more oblique than “here’s a fact, do you know it?”

Four stars.

Frank Longo’s Celebrity crossword, “Smartypants Saturday”

Celebrity crossword answers, 4 7 12 Longo "Smartypants Saturday"

This one is not remotely my wheelhouse. Broadway musicals? Nope, not my cup of tea. Not even when the particular composer is famous cryptic crossword champion/constructor Stephen Sondheim. So I had to work the crossings heavily to get through this theme:

  • 16/18a. STEPHEN SONDHEIM, [Composer/lyricist who has won eight Tonys]
  • 23a. SUNDAY [“__ in the Park With George” (1984 Broadway musical by 16-/18-Across]
  • 28a. OSCAR, [16-/18-Across won it for a song in the film “Dick Tracy”]
  • 34a. AWARD. [Grammy, for example (something 16-/18-Across has won eight times)]
  • 35a. ANYONE [“__ Can Whistle” (1964 Broadway musical by 16-/18-Across]
  • 2d/42a. INTO THE WOODS, [1987 Broadway musical by 16-/18-Across]
  • 48a. FOLLIES, [1971 Broadway musical by 16-/18-Across]
  • 52a. ME A, [“Marry ___ Little” (1980 musical by 16-/18-Across)]
  • 56a. STORY, [“West Side ___” (musical by Leonard Bernstein and 16-/18-Across)]
  • 40d. TODD, [“Sweeney ___” (musical by 16-/18-Across)]

That is an awful lot of Sondheimiana for someone who had heard of only the musicals 23a (though I thought it was Sundays in the plural), 56a, and 40d. Hope you fared better than I did!

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29 Responses to Saturday, 4/7/12

  1. Humph. If you check the American Kennel Club web site or the Scottish Terrier Club of America web site you will not find the term “Aberdeen terrier” used for the Scottie. Wikipedia does, but I have never heard the name in real life. And I go to dog shows most weekends.

    Other than that, a pleasant puzzle and a nice easy Saturday. Like Amy, I did not know AENEAS but its second E got me to change EAST END to the correct WEST END, which gave me TOWER OF LONDON. So I kept the faith with AENEAS and was duly rewarded in the end.

  2. Gareth says:

    Like Amy, my favourite clue was the one for LACROSSE: didn’t see it going there! Most persistent wrong answer was AUGER for CAGER! Can one make a bucket with an auger? @Richard: This ( suggests its the original name, but one that’s obsolete. Harrumph.

  3. Martin says:

    Even better than the LACROSSE clue (“The Cherokee deemed it good training for war “) is the Wordplay commenter who first entered MARRIAGE.

  4. T Campbell says:

    Amy on NYT: your category 2 perplexes me. NOT EASY? CHANCE OF SUCCESS? INTEND TO? I hear all of these in casual conversation. I can see the rest, though.

  5. Tuning Spork says:

    Did the TORS clue clue ACRETE?

    I mean, is a tor really an “outgrowth”? In a loose sense, I suppose it is. Kinda like a finger is an “outgrowth”. Or something.

  6. pannonica says:

    Amy’s take on the LEAD clue in the NYT is unquestionably correct, but my perfunctory and in retrospect provisional explanation had to do with the idea of “getting the lead out,” and thinking that fat would slow one down.

  7. Josh Bischof says:

    What an ugly puzzle in the NYT today, especially when you compare it to yesterday’s Nothnagel goodness, which was full of fresh, fun fill. Just scan the down answers from left to right: except for TOWEROFLONDON, there’s not a single interesting answer. And though there are a few good across answers, they certainly aren’t fresh or interesting or engaging enough to make it worth all that down garbage.

    Two stars.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Gee, Amy, with undiminished appreciation for all your reviews, I wonder if you were having a “wrong side of the bed” experience with this one. I thought if was shockingly easy, but a very nice puzzle. I loved all the 15’s. I can’t imagine what’s wrong with actable, not easy, intend to.

    Wiesbaden just *is* the capital of Hesse. The only thing I wondered is whether the word ‘State” in 25d shouldn’t have been in German. Even if one didn’t know the motto “in hoc signo vinces” it is easily guessable with only a smattering of Latin. Of course we’re in the realm of one person’s obscurity being another’s strike zone, but I’m in a state of shock at being under the *par* time a couple times in a couple weeks.

    But I don’t understand Strawberry = shade.

    4.5 stars, which I’m feeling moved to round up.


  9. Howard B says:

    I’m between Josh and Bruce here. Wasn’t wowed here, and I did not recall enough Latin (nor did I go to law school) to infer ‘IN HOC’. I suspect others may have had a similar experience depending on Latin knowledge, as they don’t teach Latin in most schools anymore, regrettably. I had 1/2 a year of it back in middle school, and was the last year in our district to learn any of it. Didn’t help. It was enough to know that IN HOC could be a valid phrase.

    But a nice challenging puzzle to go with coffee anyway. Didn’t jump off the page, but I didn’t tear any (remaining) hair out in frustration either :).

  10. Gareth says:

    Hand down for KANDAHAR; I came across it with a P and plonked PESHAWAR down confidently; yes, I was pretty smug then; yes, you did finish the puzzle in .4 of the time I finished it in. On the other hand at PHILIPPI, I went EPHESUS: too short; ok, CORINTH: too short, ok COLOSSI, oh lets just leave this then! (I checked, I misspelled Colossae in any case… luckily)

  11. janie says:

    >But I don’t understand Strawberry = shade

    i’m thinkin’ STRAWBERRY as in:

    “casey would dance w/ the STRAWBERRY blond
    and the band played on…”


  12. Martin says:

    SHADE is also a clever trap. That had to be EXMET.

  13. Todd G says:

    @Richard Caldwell: You go to dog shows most weekends? With so many shows, does it mean every dog has its day?

  14. @ Todd G – :-)

    But, seriously, no. Lots go for weeks, even months or years, and never win. But they can come close, even win once in a blue moon, and that brings intermittent reinforcement into play. I know one that has been shown for two years and has won exactly once.

  15. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Janie–OH! Thanks. Strawberry blonde. I’ve actually heard of that.


  16. jefe says:

    Yikes, took 37 mins on the Stumper. Lots of trouble with the NW, having guessed notRArE for AVERAGE [Common]. Also having Hook for SMEE, tirades for SCREEDS, thy for OUR, and never having heard of ADELIE COAST made the NE tricky. But I didn’t have SETTErS first! (It came second; ball returns originally, then ARMOIRE precluded the change to gutters.)

    Re: Celebrity, the national anthem begins “O! say can you see” not “OH SAY, can you see” (incorrect H, incorrect comma).

  17. Erik says:

    best device for remembering GERT frobe wins my love

  18. Erik says:

    also, that’s LEAD as in “I can taste those meaty LEADing man parts in my mouth!”

  19. Bit says:

    The movie Goldfinger’s Evil Radiation Terrorist?

  20. pannonica says:

    Erik, wish I had a mnemonic for you. I just happen to know it and remember it. He was in Goldfinger, most famously, but also some later (or maybe just one?) Dr. Mabuse films (as a policeman) and also in a ’70s Warren Beatty/Goldie Hawn film with the useful title $.

  21. maikong says:

    Noticed that Patrick gave Sam and Pannonica the lowing in the field again – 18 down!

  22. Martin says:

    Gert Frobe was not just in Goldfinger… he WAS Goldfinger :-)


  23. Bob Bruesch says:

    LAT puzzle – somewhere between arcane and silly.

  24. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Wow. I just did the Stumper (barely) and it was brutal, especially the NW which I didn’t think I would ever get. I can’t believe that anyone did it faster than the NYT. I couldn’t believe that buildings hide oil rigs, but it seemed to be only thing that fit. I don’t find the Lester Ruffs any easier than the SN’s, Anna Stigas or Stan Newmans, in fact the last couple I have found more difficult.


  25. Martin says:


    It’s not so much about retrofitting your office building with an oil pump, but about camouflage. What’s more LA than an oil rig that looks like a church?

  26. Sam Donaldson says:

    @maikong: And thanks to the prior lesson, I got it just fine this time!

  27. john farmer says:

    Not all of L.A.’s oil rigs are so well camouflaged. They’re something you get used to seeing around town, even in a few unlikely places. One that has gotten the “beautification” treatment is here (scroll down to the 6th and 7th pictures). It sits on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.

  28. Ari says:

    Unless I missed it, I didn’t see it mentioned…. How is “checked the meter?” SCANNED? I put spanned in because I thought maybe something about measuring. Then I thought PAGER had to be CAGER, but couldn’t resolve scanned. Am I missing something simple?

  29. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Ari, I think it has to do with scansion, or scanning a line of verse to figure out its meter (e.g., iambic pentameter).

Comments are closed.