Saturday, 5/19/12

Newsday 9:00 
NYT 6:56 
LAT 5:00 
CS 10:35 (Sam) 
WSJ (Saturday) untimed 

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 19 12 0519

Do you know I had everything done in this puzzle except for the 1-Across corner, which was entirely empty? It’s rather daunting to face an entire isolated chunk of grid full of mystifying clues. Eventually CAMILLA Parker-Bowles helped me out of the bind I was in. Guessed ORO, eventually got its fellow Spanish words AMIGOS and TACOS, and the rest gave way. (Speaking of Spanish: MADRID on PINATAS too. Is BASTA Spanish too?)

Favorite answers: MALCOLM X, BANANARAMA, LILYPADS, MAD-LIBS, Ninoy AQUINO International Airport, GOOSING, HANGING OUT, and some nice Hannibal Lecter CHIANTI.

Thanks to two crossword constructors for two of the answers. I knew 33d: DUMB DORA, the [Comic strip that Chic Young abandoned to create “Blondie”], because this info was in a Victor Fleming puzzle I edited this week. And I knew 44d: BASHO, the [Poet credited with popularizing haiku], thanks to Francis Heaney’s anagram-based literary parody book Holy Tango of Literature. Basho’s name anagrams to “Has B.O.,” and Francis wrote smelly haiku in Basho’s style.

Favorite clues:

  • 18a. [Unlocked?], SHORN. I got the trick quickly but could only think of BALD.
  • 27a. IVANA [__ Humpalot, Austin Powers villain]. Horrible pun, but a fresh alternative to Ivana Trump.
  • 56a, 45d. [They may be heard in a temple], GONGS and ORGANISTS. Solid double play.
  • 22d. [Four-time Oscar nominee (never a winner) in the 1930s], Greta GARBO. Trivia!

Lots of proper nouns today: ARAL, BANANARAMA, MIMI, IVANA, MADRID, AQUINO, CONTI, FORD’S, XMAS, ANTONY, LARRY, CAMILLA, AMAZONIA, GARBO, MALCOLM X, DUMB DORA, MARGOT and ALDOUS together in one corner, and BASHO. Nineteen? That’s a ton. The “you either know it or you don’t” haters of names in crosswords may be unhappy with this puzzle. ARAL is utterly blah, but I generally like names in crosswords and found it refreshing to have names that aren’t the ones that show up again and again (no UMA, no OLAF).

Four stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Loss Leaders” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, May 19

Regular readers (hi, all three of you) know of my self-imposed goal of solving Bob Klahn crosswords in under ten minutes. I came up just a little short on this one, mostly because of a pesky corner. But let’s start with the theme. Each of the four theme entries starts with a word that can precede “loss:”

  • 17-Across: Something [Easily activated] has a HAIR TRIGGER. Hair loss, alas, is a topic with which I become a little more familiar each day
  • 26-Across: The [Piece of a major headline] is a CAPITAL LETTER. Here again I sigh “Alas,” for I’m now the proud owner of a (nondeductible) capital loss from the recent sale of my home. Let’s just say it’s a good time to be a buyer.
  • 42-Across: The [Brand-new face] is a TOTAL STRANGER, who may or may not be at a “total loss.”
  • 55-Across: Another name for a [Thumb drive] is a MEMORY STICK. I read something interesting about memory loss earlier this week, but darned if I can recall what it said.

I got off to a great start when I plunked down AARGH as the [“Peanuts” cry] at 1-Across. When you have the starting letters for five consecutive Down entries, you can make some great time. And that’s exactly what I was doing until I hit the conglomeration of MARTEN (the [Weaselly critter] that I so wanted to be a MARMOT), JANUARY (a month I know well, but not when it’s clued as a [Two-faced diety’s period]–I just now learned that the Roman god Janus had two faces, just like that mirror in the Barbra Streisand movie), and AGE-MATE (the [Contemporary] that just feels weird to me), all of which kept the cleverly clued I’M STARVING ([Empty proclamation?]) well-hidden for far too long.

Overall, the puzzle felt easy for a Klahn crossword (meaning it was still harder than your typical CS puzzle, of course, but nowhere close to some of the doozies we’ve encountered over the years). But I still couldn’t crack the 10-minute barrier. Oh well, tomorrow’s another day.

Favorite entries: HOT WATER, TRAVESTY, TEAM UP, and the stacking of SWEAT and PIGGY. Four favorite clues (in no special order): (1) [Manufacture bullets] for the aforementioned SWEAT; (2) [Dutch bank manager?] for a DIKE; (3) [XXX rating?] for THIRTY; and (4) [Pure profit] for GRAVY.

Robert Wolfe’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 19 12 Wolfe

Pannonica was just commenting the other day on not liking crosswords with lots of prepositional phrase action. Well, there are so many prepositions and related adverbs and whatnot in this grid: 15a EXPECT TO ([Likely will]), 17a PRO-ROMAN ([Backing an ancient empire, like King Herod]), 18a TILT AT ([Charge with a lance]), 19a LET IN ON ([Made a party to]), 40a ONRUSH ([Sudden influx]), 53a PASS ON ([Decide not to use]), 11d CALLS FORTH ([Summons]), 12d ENTER INTO ([Join, as a discussion]), 20d FOR THE RECORD ([“Just so you know…”]), 26d AT IT ([Busy]), and 30d MOVE APART ([Separate]). And then there’s 33a PONYING ([Paying (up)], which is crying out for the UP to join it in the grid. FOR THE RECORD is a great answer, but it gets lost amid the sea of short functional words that don’t add word interest.


  • 32a. BONES, [Nickname for two very different TV doctors]. One a man on a spaceship, one a woman in forensics.
  • 58a. ADAM BEDE, [George Eliot’s first novel]. Classic literature.
  • 3d. SPOTS, [Ladybug’s array]. Nice clue.
  • 13d. DEAD SLEEP, colorful answer. [Situation that makes stirring difficult].
  • 44d. [Collage application], PASTE. If you read the clue as “College application,” you’re never getting PASTE.
  • 48d. ANTS, [People seen from skyscrapers?]. Cute, like the ladybug at 3d.


  • 31d. ANALGESIA, [Controlled numbness]. No. Anesthesia brings numbness (an = not, esthesia = sensation). Analgesia is pain relief (an = not, algesia = pain). When you take the analgesic Tylenol for a headache, does your head go numb? When you take ibuprofen for joint pain, do your joints go numb? Of course not.
  • 43a. OTE, [Taxonomic suffix]. Martin H. and pannonica had a lengthy discussion in the comments about this recently. It’s an ugly little answer no matter how valid it is. The T crosses an abbreviation, so I have no idea why these answers weren’t ODE and END, two simple words that could lend themselves to nifty cluing. If only every constructor would look closely at the worst answers in the grid and try to change them–sometimes the fix is so simple.
  • 2d. EX-RED, [Ken Griffey, Jr., e.g.]. Little-known fact: Griff was a member of the Communist Party during his salad days. It was making big money in the big leagues that turned him resolutely capitalist. (But seriously: I don’t care for the EX-[team name] answers. How much are these in the language among the sporting crowd?)
  • 6d. Ooh, a question-marked clue! [Air head?], hmm, will it be a word that precedes air? I hope it’s not as lame as that. Working the crossings… oh. ATMO. A prefix. Meh.
  • 10d. CEILS, [Puts a roof on]. Not really the same, are they, making a ceiling vs. making a roof?
  • 27d. Ooh, a question-marked clue! [Auto-biographical fig.?], hmm, this is sounding clever. Working the crossings… oh. VIN, the vehicle identification number. A car’s VIN isn’t really “biographical” in any way, is it?

2.9 stars.

Lars G. Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 5 19 12 "Saturday Stumper"

I found the left side of this puzzle to be a lot more challenging than the right. The longest connecting word serving as a bridge into the left was 42a: REFLEX ARC ([Neural pathway activated by a hammer]), and boy, I sure didn’t know that.


  • 1a. [Caddies for five decades] isn’t about golf, as I first thought. It’s ELDORADOS, the Cadillacs.
  • 16a. Didn’t quite know it, but I like the super fresh cluing. ALEVE, [“Jeopardy!” runner-up prize provider].
  • 17a. GENE KELLY, full name. Didn’t know he was the [“Hello, Dolly!” director]. If you’re keeping count, that’s two titles of entertainment programs with exclamation points in the clues.
  • 35a. The vowel [Sound of fright] is a LONG I.
  • 55a. CLARABELL, [Howdy Doody partner]. The one non-Howdy “Howdy Doody Show” character I can name quickly.
  • 58a. BAFFLEGAB is your quirky/insane Word of the Day. It means [Impenetrable prose]. Thanks for putting up with my bafflegab, people.
  • 5d. RYKRISP! [Cracker brand since 1899]. Who knew it was so old?
  • 8d. [Double-check figures?] is a great clue for OGLE.
  • 11d. Lovely clue for ELINOR Dashwood, [Austen’s “Sense”]. Her sister Marianne was the more emotional “Sensibility” one. (Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, respectively, in the Ang Lee movie.)
  • 13d. AVGOLEMONO, [Citrus-tinged Greek soup]. My mom just ordered this at lunch on Thursday, as “egg-lemon soup.” Tasty.
  • 26d. Who doesn’t appreciate a good STUD FINDER? As a picture [Hanger’s device], it’s a boon.
  • 52d. [Go out with a bang] and SLAM that door.

Only slightly more familiar than REFLEX ARC was its symmetry partner, 27a PARTERRES, [Theaters’ rear seats]. You sit there if you want to depart quickly?

Four stars.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Primary Concerns”

Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle solution, 5 19 12 "Primary Concerns"

The recent Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest puzzle with the primary vs. secondary colors kerfuffle made me think of colors, whereas Hex’s “Primary Concerns” theme is about 22a FIRST THINGS. In nine answers, the part of the answer that’s a word that can follow “first” is moved to the beginning of the word’s space.

  • 4a. METER MAIDS becomes AIDMETERMS because first aid is this answer’s “first thing.”
  • 30a. EXPEDITION appears as EDITIONEXP.
  • 1d. SIDELIGHT, LIGHTSIDE. [Incidental item in view around food shop] clues SIDELIGHT, which isn’t an entirely in-my-vocab word. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary includes these definitions: (1) light coming or produced from the side; (2) incidental light or information. It’s that “or information” that goes with “incidental item” in the clue.
  • 19d. RENASCENT, ASCENTREN. “First ascent”? Wikipedia explains that it’s “the first successful, documented attainment of the top of a mountain, or the first to follow a particular climbing route. First ascents are notable because they entail genuine exploration, with greater risks, challenges, and recognition than climbing a route pioneered by others.” Renascent isn’t a super common word. It ties to the “making a big comeback” part of the clue.
  • 24d. DOG-EARS, GEARDOS. The answer sounds like a portmanteau of gearhead and weirdos.

None of the clues particularly delighted me or baffled me. 3.75 stars because the clues and answers didn’t knock me out, though the theme was nifty.

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30 Responses to Saturday, 5/19/12

  1. Take another look at the grid, Amy. Notice something missing? :)

  2. Martin says:

    Something very common?

  3. Jim Horne says:

    My JimH note on XWord Info claims (so it must be true) that this is the first “all but that” grid in the Shortz era. There are links to the three other “none of that” grids as well, and each is interesting.

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    And of course, Patrick makes it look E-asy.

  5. Howard B says:

    Did not even notice the omission! That’s quite a testament to the content and attention to the grid.

    That said, I had one hell of a time filling this one. Not as adept at the name-heavy puzzles. CAMILLA, MARGOT, and ALDOUS teamed up for a torturous triumvirate. Worthy challenge for the weekend, though. I appreciated the workout :).

  6. Yeah, it wasn’t the fact that there weren’t E’s in the grid, it’s the smoothness of the grid overall that doesn’t scream out “I’m missing the most common English letter!” that made it a 5-star puzzle for me. Terrific work.

  7. Jan says:

    I didn’t notice, either! Maybe I was being too self-congratulatory about putting CAMILLA and AQUARIUM in without crossings. Great puzzle; I had more trouble in the lower right than the upper left.

  8. ktd says:

    I totally missed the lack of E as well. That’s really a great twist, especially for a Saturday.

    Basta literally means “it is enough” in Spanish. (“That’s enough” comes very close though it’s not exactly equivalent. Given how often we tend to see clues for “that” in Spanish in crosswords, it shouldn’t be hard for frequent solvers to put the two together to figure out how to say, “That’s enough” in Spanish!)

  9. Mark M. says:

    Gave this one five stars before reading the comments and understanding the complexity. Thought it might be a nominee for themeless of the year, but if it becomes a theme I am sure it will be a nominee in that category.

    PB continues to amaze, put him in the Hall of Fame.

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I fear that I have been doing a lot of railing and fulminating of late, and I take no pride in that, but after this puzzle, I’m in no mood to stop. My all-time least favorite P Berry puzzle by far. Any puzzle that includes 14, 19, 25, 27, 38, 43 across and 40 & 41 down, not to mention 33 and 39 down is so far off the charts on the BS Meter, that they need to create new charts. Enough BS for at least 3 puzzles. What the hell is a clamshell computer? I suppose I could google Margot, if I wanted to, but I don’t. Miraculously, I managed to finish it from the crosses, but without any enjoyment. I try to avoid both the word “hated” and the word “genius” at opposite ends of the spectrum, but this one comes pretty close. Isn’t a lily pad in the water, or on the water, not by the water?

  11. Matt says:

    Just to emphasize, it’s not only missing ‘E’, it’s got all the other letters. I give it a 4.56789012

  12. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Really enjoyed the Stumper and Bob Klahn’s Loss Leaders. I have a question about an entry in the Stumper, but it hasn’t been blogged, so I’ll refrain.

  13. Zulema says:

    BASTA is also Russian as well with the same meaning, but Bruce was too busy fulminating to point this out. I would say that the literal meaning of BASTA in both Spanish and Italian is “it suffices,” though that sounds stuffy. I liked the puzzle, for what that’s worth.

  14. ArtLvr says:

    Wow, the Berry NYT was so smooth I didn’t notice the lack of any E either! The Stumper, on the other hand, I nearly quit on several times over the past hour but finally got there. Egads! But then I’d stayed up all night to see the PBS rerun of “The Enchanted Island”, a baroque pastiche opera newly created for the Met… Fantastic concept! Plots parched together from at least two of the Bard’s plays, with English words to lesser-known music from Handel, Vivaldi and more. A tour de force. I hope those interested will catch it.

  15. Martin says:

    My trouble with the Clamshell entry is that the iBook is way modern (1999) compared with the first computers to be called “clamshells.” Machines like the Grid and IBM PC Convertible (1986) were universally called clamshells. In fact, I had a pre-release PC Convertible for some software porting and testing, which was identified by IBM as Project Clamshell.

    I’ll grant the iBook looks more like a clam.

  16. pannonica says:

    Seemed as if both the LAT and CS had a bunch of approximate, but not fully accurate, clues. A standout that hasn’t been mentioned yet is 1-down in the CS. [Hamburger beefs] for ACHS. Ach! is a German exclamation which more or less means oh! Even if it meant something more akin to hey (wait a minute)! I’m not sure it would be close enough.

  17. Greg says:

    Good commentary on the LAT puzzle. A lot of clues in this one just don’t match the answers. Who edits their puzzles?

  18. Martin says:


    4.oh: preceding an offhand or annoyed remark

    Some of my German colleagues used it this way, but I won’t cite complete quotations for fear of offending.

  19. Martin says:

    Re: OTE in the LAT.

    pannonica and I were discussing OTA, which at least is a suffix that appears at a few places in a complete taxonomy. I’m not sure that I’d defend OTE the same way.

    Eukaryota is the taxon; a eukaryote is a member of that taxon. I imagine that’s good enough for Saturday but it’s worth noting this entry is one level farther afield than the last one we debated.

  20. Martin says:

    BTW, I don’t agree that either puzzle was sloppily edited. F’rinstance, “numb” can mean “relieved of pain.” Analgesia is different from anesthesia primarily in the fact that it never involves unconsciousness. Clove oil on an aching tooth is an example of analgesia that fits the clue completely. It’s Saturday.

  21. john farmer says:

    I agree with Amy on END for ENT and with Martin on ANALGESIA and ACHS. I have no position on OTE or OTA other than that you probably want to avoid either one. For an old radio, CRYSTAL SET is trending high lately. It’s been in puzzles twice before according to the cruciverb db, but it’s the third time I’ve seen it this month.

    Another gem from Patrick Berry. Too bad PEREC wouldn’t have worked.

  22. Gareth says:

    I >ADORED< the clue for ants in the LAT. Second day in a row stymied by one corner in this venue. Finished everything but the top-left in less than 6. After TERI/ECON/YDS I found myself at an impasse. Eventually twigged to STANDINGROOM (clever!) and the dominoes began to fall.

  23. John Haber says:

    I’m one of the few who didn’t like this as much. I did ok on the bottom, but running north while not knowing what an IBOOK was, never having heard of CONTI, and thinking of “jerks” for PUNKS, I took forever getting past.

    The NW had its two longest a forgotten pop music trivia and a rare adjective, with some more proper names coming down. (I also had “arret” at first for BASTA.) But the slew of them in the NE (with, goodness, two obscure musical lyrics) took me longest, and not knowing much about Austin Powers (because I hated the little I saw) left me with an error in the end, D-Day. Not sure I blame myself.

    The lack of E’s didn’t occur to me, but then maybe I’m not tuned into to looking for such things unless it’s a cryptic gimmick. I don’t like to criticize Berry, and everyone but Bruce loved it, but it wasn’t for me.

  24. DocHank says:

    Altho’ the Stumper was overall easier for me than usual, I feel a little picky about a couple of items: “neural pathway activated by a hammer” would easily lead to “REFLEX,” but the “ARC” part is known mostly by physicians, and seemed a little unfair; I thought “BREW” for “bring about” was stretching things a bit; and LINGO” for “cant” is the third and most obscure meaning for the word. “ELDORADOS” was very clever and “LONGI” fiendishly so!

  25. Martin says:

    I learned about the neural arc / reflex arc in 10th grade biology. I even remember the conveniently arc-shaped paths in the illustration, from fingers holding match to spinal cord and back (effecting the dropping of the match). The poor brain was left out of the fun.

    One of the best gifts for crossword success is a good memory of high school. So much of “how am I expected to know that?” is really “how am I expected to remember that?”

  26. pannonica says:

    Martin: Offending whom? Me, or your German colleagues? I’m always willing to be corrected.

    And anyway, that sense (4) is still an interjection preceding the “annoyed remark,” so it isn’t the beef per se, although it is closer to that aforementioned hey (wait a second)! formulation.

  27. Martin says:

    “Ach du Scheiße” is a popular one. There are other beefy formulations as well.

    Actually, even “ach du Lieber” can express displeasure. It has a similar flavor to “Oh, for the love of Pete!”

  28. pannonica says:

    Ja, ich weiß, dass. Aber danke.

  29. Bob Bruesch says:

    Just got back into town and sat down to Saturday LAT. BIG mistake – got only a dozen answers right. I HATE made up words and attempts at “humor” in defs. Why, why, why do they allow such sophomoric drivel to waste newspaper space??? (i.e. “stuck up?” = TREED; “Busy” ATIT not TOIT; “put a roof on”= CEILS – which “spell Check” can’t even decipher). Please don’t place a puzzle that affronts normal intelligence like this again!!

  30. pannonica says:

    Martin: Hmm. I just reread your comment and noticed the achs at the beginning of those phrases—I guess I had just registered the totality of them earlier. Are you suggesting that because those phrases begin with ach that it has a synecdochic function? Because I don’t think it does.

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