CS 4:31 (Sam)
WSJ (Saturday) 15 minutes
Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
Long day, too tired for fully sentient blog prose. Random list/remarks time!
Love the marquee answers, NAKED AS A JAYBIRD (and its echoes with ELOPED and TRYSTS). Plus the hint of nudity in the SANDAL clue, [It’s barely about a foot]. Was going to love [They’re unmatched in footwear]/ODD SOCKS, but the answer turned out to be ODD SHOES, and who talks about those?
Wanted 18d to be JUST AN IDEA, but it turned out to be the more-fun JUST SAYIN’.
Love the MAZURKA clue, [Pole dance?]. It’s Polish.
Scrabbly people: ZANE GREY, Dan QUAYLE.
Great clue for LEAN-TO, [Bit of rough housing]. Note that “rough housing” is two words there.
ALYN Kirk who played the first big-screen Superman was second cousins with “Andre” playwright William DUNLAP. True story! Or maybe it isn’t. I’ve never heard of either of them, and together with the ODD SHOES, they’re the odd men out in this otherwise smooth creation. (See? I’m not even complaining about crosswordese plural NACRES, I’m not.)
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Ecopuzzle”
The introductory instructions threw me off the path. “In honor of Earth Day,” they say. Earth Day is Sunday, April 22. But you know what’s coming up next Friday? That’s right: Arbor Day. And that’s a closer link to the unclued answers.
I was plugging away on the cryptic clues but not getting too far given all the real estate given over to those unclued answers. Eleven minutes in, I made the connection between *EDOA* and *H**TNU*. Red oak and chestnut trees! PLANTING TREES at 17-Across! Then I was able to fill in most of the other trees, all planted vertically for best results. (I have seen a small tree growing horizontally out of a crack in the mortar between bricks above a store window, but really, that’s a suboptimal direction for tree growth.) MAGNOLIA, ALMOND, LINDEN, TUPELO, LITCHI, GINKGO, LOCUST, RED OAK, SPRUCE, and CHESTNUT fill our cryptic forest. (They’re not all going to thrive in the same climate, are they?)
What do I win for spotting the hidden extra tree suggested by 3-Down? [Flemish town certainly acquiring buzz] clues Y(P.R.)ES, which just needs to be enclosed by two more letters to get a CYPRESS. I bet Emily and Henry included YPRES on purpose.
Least familiar word in the grid: 18-Across PILEUS, [Mushroom cap and horseshoe put in stacks], with the horseshoe-shaped U inside PILES.
Updated Saturday morning:
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Rite of Spring” – Sam Donaldson’s review
It’s a short post today, as I’ve been scrambling to finish a few puzzles I’m making for a local puzzle hunt. Puzzle hunts are incredibly fun to devise, but they take about five times longer than you expect (at least they do for me).
The four theme entries in today’s crossword end with words that are synonymous with “spring” (the hopping variety, not the season):
- 17-Across: A BARREL VAULT is an [Architectural feature of many cathedrals].
- 28-Across: The PARACHUTE JUMP is a [Former Coney Island attraction]. My idea of a good time does not involve parachutes, so I’m thinking I didn’t miss much by not visiting Coney Island before the parachute jump was halted.
- 46-Across: HOMEWARD BOUND is the [1966 Simon & Garfunkel song]. Let’s give it a listen while we finish up here.
- 62-Across: The LAMBEAU LEAP is a [Common occurrence in Green Bay after a Packer touchdown].
A nice assortment of theme entries. Apropos of discussions about quality fill on another blog (see the post below for the link), this one has some gems. WASABI, PERRY MASON, XBOX, MINXES and more, without crappy crossings to make it all work. (Unless you have an aversion to entries like ICH, SMEE, LST, POL, and LEM, I suppose–then you might quarrel with that assessment.) My favorite clue was [Glutton’s helping, possibly] for THIRDS. Speaking of which–time for second breakfast!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Lots of Scrabbly words (four Z’s), some fresh phrases, and of course, plenty of non-gimme Stumper clues.
I just got depressed reading the northwest stack of answers: OIL RIGS PLAY TAPS, TO BE SURE. Depressed or maybe encouraged.
Least familiar answer: 57a: TIN PANTS, [Lumberjack’s protection]. I’m disappointed to learn that they’re sturdy cotton pants with an oil finish and not made out of metal.
Indonesia focus: We get both 36d: JAKARTA, [Java hub], and 42d: SUMATRA, [Island bisected by the equator].
Seven more clues:
- 21a. PDA, [Term first applied to the Apple Newton].
- 33a. [Hamlet’s “To be,” for one] is an IAMB, a metrical foot.
- 36a. JOAN MIRO, [Focus of a Barcelona museum]. Didn’t know that.
- 51a. Boo! There is no reason for a Roman numeral to be connected to this clue. MML is 2050, and 2050 is the [G-8’s deadline for halving greenhouse gas emissions]. I haven’t double-checked this, but I’ll bet the G-8 doesn’t operate in Roman numeral years.
- 54a. PIAO? Pfui. [Mao colleague Lin __] isn’t a household name in this country, is he or she?
- 2d. Randy Newman’s I LOVE LA, [Song often heard at Dodger Stadium].
- 12d. ONE-ACTS, [Strauss’ “Salome” and “Elektra”]. Brad loves his opera.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This puzzle felt a little whiplashy to me. Each zippy answer was balanced by something that felt more decidedly “meh.”
In the plus column:
- 8a. SKI LIFT, [High chairs?]. Cute clue.
- 28a. OUCH, [Reaction at the gas pump]. Current clue!
- 33a. NEANDERTHAL MAN! [Ancient inhabitant of Western Europe], that’s him.
- 39a. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, [1997 Spacey/Crowe movie].
- 59a. Interesting clue for a plain answer: [Western port named for a fur tycoon] is ASTORIA. Before or after that Titanic thing?
- 61a. LAZY DAY. I used to have those. I miss them.
- 2d. TATUM O’NEAL. Full names in the grid are always nice (unless they’re obscure).
- 30d. EMBASSY ROW, [International Washington neighborhood].
And in the minus column:
- 62a. ELBOWER, [Crowd annoyance]. Is this a word you’ve ever used or read or heard?
- 3d. PERTINENCY, [Relevance]. Sorry, PERTINENCY, but pertinence won out.
- 34d. DO FOR, [Help with]. Awkward. Would be better as a partial, [“What can I __ you?”].
- 48d. IS ALL, [“That __”: signoff]. Awkward. That’s all, that’ll be all, that’s all I have today, that’s it for now–those all sound more natural to me.
- 56d. LIA [__ Fail: Irish coronation stone] (last coronation was about 1500 years ago). I always forget if it’s LIA or FIA, thanks to the political party Fianna Fail.
- Abbreviations that felt a little too abundant. EMI SCH ABR SRO SSRS MLB ATF DSMS? At least MLB and ATF had interesting clues: [Org. with an “At Bat” app] and [Org. that added “Explosives” to its name in 2003].
My overall enjoyment level was about 3.5 stars.
Trip Payne’s Celebrity crossword, “Smartypants Saturday”
I rather like the mixed bag of theme topics we find on Smartypants Saturday. Trip’s theme this week is the man the proposed “Buffett rule” was named after:
- 15a. WARREN BUFFETT, [CEO of Berkshire Hathaway: 2 wds.]. He just announced this week that he’ll be starting treatment soon for stage I prostate cancer and we wish him well.
- 29a. BILLIONAIRE, [15-Across is one, net worth-wise].
- 48a. ORACLE OF OMAHA, [Nickname of 15-Across: 3 wds.]. He’s got more money than most Wall Streeters but works out of Omaha. Is he the richest person in the Great Plains? He is. The Forbes 400 has him at $39 billion, whereas Charles Koch of Kansas has a mere $25 billion.
That would be Kirk ALYN.
Exceptional! Fun entries: NAKEDASAJAYBIRD, JUSTSAYIN, MAZURKA etc. And even better, some of my favourite clues in recent memory – not only the two you mentioned but also “Flew united,” and “Some quiet riots”! Four master-strokes! I can’t be the only one who, confronted with LE??TO, thought, “it must be LEANTO,” but that’s not a bit of rough-housing! Last two squares were the D and N of DUN: two names I didn’t plus a less common word, which I did know, but found tough to recall! Oddly: time identical to yesterday! @Byron: Thanks! That’s two of us who would’ve left believing there was someone called Alyn Kirk!
Nice, gentle Saturday. At first I couldn’t figure out what Just say in meant, but I guess it’s Just sayin’.
Not at all sure that this was intentional, but merely to add a spot of poetry to the blog, the first thing the NYT 36A brought to mind was T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock, J. Alfred, that is:
“And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair” etc. etc
Fun puzzle. :-)
In the room, the women come and go. . .
LOL—Indeed, Bruce, and they do carry on about Michelangelo a bit much…
Bruce, Daniel, everyone else: Do yourselves a favor and go here:
and do a search (ctrl-f or command-f) for “T.S. Eliot.” Francis Heaney wrote an anthology by anagramming poets’ and playwrights’ names and writing in their style on that topic. (Gwendolyn Brooks anagrams to “We Long Bony Dorks,” for example.)
You can read the whole book on that website, but it looks nicer in paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Tango-Literature-Francis-Heaney/dp/1578601592
Thanks, Amy, love the Prufrock parody! I wrote a curiously similar one for an ex-girlfriend in re her recurrent airsickness, the only line of which I now remember is:
“Let us make tracks to the loo!”
The Newsday is unclear on the concept of a Zen garden. It’s not a synonym for “Japanese Garden.” “Zen garden” is the English translation of karesansui, which means “dry landscape.” Water is implied by raked gravel and rock arrangements. Any koi in a Zen garden would be very unhappy.
I had a really hard time in the Newsday, especially in the SE. [How some chairs are paid for] indicates an adverb phrase, while ENDOWERS is a noun, which would be better clued by [They may pay for chairs].
The NYT was fun. My only quibble is IDIO. It’s not a prefix with -matic. The prefix would be IDIOM, not IDIO, or rather the suffix would be -ATIC.
But I don’t mean to SQUABBLE…
@Jeff — I’ve been seeing this a lot lately; apparently “prefix” = “bunch of letters that can precede”.
@HH — Yes, we (as a whole and no one in particular) do seem to be getting sloppier with the prefix/suffix crap lately. Jeff, your catch is spot on.
And Jefe’s, too.
Felt pretty good about throwing in NAKED AS A JAYBIRD on the first pass, and finding it correct.
Brain strain on some the puzzles today, must have been the change in the weather! But I must note the there is a prefix “idio” even if idiomatic isn’t included, which I’d question, perhaps. There are idiosyncratic and idiopathic for example… “Idiopathic is an adjective used primarily in medicine meaning arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause. From Greek ἴδιος, idios (one’s own) + πάθος, pathos (suffering), it means approximately ‘a disease of its own kind’.)” I suspect that in “idiomatic” there is a combining of the Greek “idio” plus the -matic also from the Greek for moving or making or creating (Greek autómat ( os ) self-moving: see automaton.)
” two more letters to get a CYPRESS. I bet Emily and Henry included YPRES on purpose.”
Ten bucks says you’re wrong.
@Art Shapiro, me too.
WSJ was reasonably easy compared to some of the killers we have had this year but took me a little longer than I would have liked to see the theme. Also, kept wanting to put MALADY in 2a.
Stumper was tough, as expected. Wanted to put PICASSOS in 36a but thought about for a little bit and fixed it. Then the ‘J’ led to JAKARTA in 36d giving a foothold in the SW but still took a while.
@ArtLvr et al.: What makes “idiomatic” more problematic than usual is that it derives with its meaning only slightly altered from the Ancient Greek ἰδιωματικός. In other words, the Ancient Greeks were the ones who coined the term. In its construction, it owes absolutely nothing to anything remotely modern. The Greeks – as ArtLvr elucidates – did, ultimately, come up with the term using their “combining form” of ἴδιος (whence our word “idiom”): ἴδιο-. The long and short of it is that ἴδιο- is an Ancient Greek prefix; ἴδιος (whence, again “idiom” – via ἰδίωμα ) is not. ArtLvr was right to question, and the puzzle’s clue is, odd as it may seem to some, absolutely correct.
Addendum: It should be mentioned that if the clue were “Suffix with idioma-” then -TIC from -τικός would be equally correct.
Is anyone else bothered by “Trendy” being ALAMODE? I never have heard it used in this fashion. Cleverest clue: High Chairs (ski lift)
@Bob B – You’ll be amused to note that A LA MODE means “in fashion”, so it’s fine to have Trendy being used in this fashion to clue it.