Saturday, 6/16/12

Newsday 7:09 
NYT 5:28 
LAT 4:42 
CS 4:54 (Sam) 
WSJ (Saturday) untimed 
The Week untimed (Jared) 

Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 6 16 12 0616

Yep, yesterday’s puzzle was Saturdayish and this one’s more like tough Fridayish, as I was one second faster than last Saturday. Fun puzzle, in any event. Lots of zippy, Scrabbly answers in this 70-worder. Here’s the lowdown on the ups:

  • 7a. SOCIAL IQ, [A nerd has a low one]. Knowing Barry’s proclivity for the rarer letters, I guessed this was something-IQ and hit on SOCIAL IQ.
  • 26a. Total PUSSYCATS are [Unthreatening sorts].
  • 34a. Charles SCHULZ, Charlie [Brown drawer]. Tricky clue.
  • 42a. BABY SPICE is a tad outdated now, but we have a quasi-mini-theme hinting at girl groups Pussycat Dolls and Spice Girls.
  • 56a. Great clue. SUSPENSE is a [Thriller killer?], as in exclaiming “The suspense is killing me!” when watching a thriller.
  • 14d. QUIZNOS, [Chain serving Torpedoes and Bullets]. (No relation to the GUN CASE at 3d.)
  • 28d. ZONKS, [Drops off, with “out”]. I had ZONES at first, but should’ve known Barry would go for the Full Scrabbly.
  • 31d. Total gimme. KANYE WEST, [About whom Obama said “He is a jackass. But he’s talented”].

A question: The 36d clue, [They bear arms]—if these HALTERS are halter tops, then they bare arms but bear nothing at all in the category of arms. Am I missing something here, or does this seem wrong to you too?

32a: [Ab follower] clues ELUL. Ab is a Hebrew month, but not one that gets much play in crosswords thanks to having 2 letters.

Spent too much time watching Nik Wallenda traverse Niagara Falls on a wire when I should’ve been blogging, and now I’m sleepy so I’ll sign off with a 3.75-star rating. Solid fill throughout.

Peter Gordon’s The Week crossword for June 22, 2012—Jared’s review

The Week’s crossword has been added to the “canon” of puzzles linked to at the top of this page.  Unfortunately you’ll still have to download it to your desktop as an image and print it from there, though Peter claims we should have online access soon.

Let’s see what recent news Peter has worked into the grid this week:

  • 14/15a. [Recent celebration for Queen Elizabeth II] – DIAMOND JUBILEE. My goodness, was there a lot of excitement for British people floating around on boats. The Daily Show’s coverage of the coverage was very funny.
  • 21a. [Recently approved name of element No. 116] – LIVERMORIUM. Not nearly as audacious a scientific naming as the newly discovered mushroom last year that was officially named Spongiforma squarepantsii (on account of its resemblance to a sponge). Pannonica, is this an example of a taxonomic binomial?
  • 34a. [Longtime host of Family Feud] – RICHARDDAWSON. Though Peter never mentions it in his clues, if a long full name is in the puzzle that person almost surely recently died. This is no exception. He did not die from contracting diseases from making out with all the female contestants while their brothers and fathers watched on, powerless to stop it. And frankly, I’m offended by your suggestion that was the case.
  • 51a. [Author of Fahrenheit 451] – RAYBRADBURY. See the rule above. Here’s what Bradbury actually said in 2011: “We’ve got too many internets.” I’m guessing that one won’t be his epitaph.
  • 64/65a. [Recent astronomical event that won’t occur again until 2117] – TRANSIT/OF VENUS. Finally I have sufficient motivation to try to make it to age 136. I simply have to relive the excitement of a thing passing in front of another thing.

Other fill of note:

  • 1a. [1997 role for Leslie Nielsen] – MRMAGOO. This was one of two movies in my life that I have walked out on. The other was Baby Geniuses.
  • 44a. [I’ll Have Another, for one] – HORSE. This is the horses’s second mention in as many weeks in this puzzle.  Jeffrey, time to start a spreadsheet.
  • 8d. [Incan cord used for accounting] – QUIPU.Doug, you’re an accountant, right?  Is this still de rigueur?
  • 48d. [Year that Nostradamus died] – MDLXVI. I think this is the longest Roman numeral I’ve ever entered in a puzzle. If you enjoy entering Roman numerals in crossword puzzles and you enjoy Peter Gordon crossword puzzles, then you can’t do much better than this.

See you next week.

Updated Saturday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “I’m Whipped!” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 16

Today’s puzzle will leave you feeling whip-smart. That’s because it features four entries ending with words that can precede “whip:”

  • 17-Across: The [2012 Drew Barrymore film] is BIG MIRACLE. I’m not familiar with the film, but I am very familiar with Miracle Whip. It’s labelled as a “salad dressing,” but in my world it’s the preferred alternative to mayonnaise. There are those who actually prefer real mayonnaise to Miracle Whip. I would make a joke about that, but it’s mean to make fun of those with poor palates. They can’t help it.
  • 27-Across: The [Amish transport] is a HORSE AND BUGGY. I wasn’t familiar with the term “buggy whip,” so I just asked my fiancee what it meant. Not missing a beat, she said it was a long whip used to drive a horse-drawn buggy. It has a short rope to it.” While she said that, I Googled the term and found this definition on Wikipedia: “a horsewhip with a long stiff shaft and a relatively short lash used for driving a horse.”  I am so marrying up.
  • 48-Across: The MORAL MAJORITY is the [Organization founded by Jerry Falwell]. The “majority whip” is the third-highest ranking member of the majority party in Congress.
  • 65-Across: The [1980 Robert DeNiro movie] is RAGING BULL. If you’re not careful, you can get addicted to crack…ing a bull whip.

There’s lots of fun fill here, including THE MOB, LAS VEGAS, YUMMY, and STRAW MAN. I like how the 13s are centered in the grid so that the four black L’s can frame the midsection–it’s a nice visual touch.

Favorite entry = LAB RAT, the [Maze runner]. Favorite clue = [In class, they can be taken or taken away] for NOTES. Clever! But I also thought [Amendment regarding federalism] is a great clue for an entry like TENTH. In the wrong hands, we might get a more strained clue, like perhaps [Beethoven’s unstarted symphony].

Bruce Sutphin’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 6 16 12 "Saturday Stumper" Sutphin

Seems like mere months ago that Bruce was a newbie constructor dipping his toes in the LA Times pool, and here he is now with a solo “Saturday Stumper” under his belt.

I got off to a swift start with the GLISSADES/GRIMACED crossing (1a. [Gliding dance steps], 1d. [Showed discomfort]). The whole top half, in fact, felt much easier than the bottom half.


  • 15a. [PepsiCo product since 2001], RICE-A-RONI. A refreshing drink!
  • 17a. [Czech-born sports great], IVAN LENDL. Full name? Czech.
  • 27a. [Perfect game spoiler], GUTTER BALL. In bowling, not baseball.
  • 41a. [Two-time ”Rolling Stone” cover subject in 1981], ONO. Interesting clue.
  • 55a. [Where Knievel jumped 13 cars on two consecutive nights], ASTRODOME. I was thinking it would be something like Snake Canyon.
  • 7d. 1989 National Radio Hall of Fame inductee], DON IMUS. Full name? Check. Sort of rhymes with “animus.”
  • 9d. [Cholesterol component], SILENT H. With SIL in place, I wondered if SILICON could be in cholesterol molecules.
  • 14d. [Something set in stone], FOSSIL. Quite literal.
  • 28d. [Quietly forward], BCC. Blind “carbon” copy. In “quietly forward,” forward is a verb, not an adjective.
  • 30d. [Metaphor for repetitious futility], WHAC-A-MOLE. Not to be confused with Whac-A-Roni or Rice-A-Mole.
  • 33d. [Crib sheet user], TOT. Sheets in an actual crib, not a means of cheating on an exam.
  • 35d. [Originally, a castle-wall slit], LOOPHOLE. Who knew? Not I.
  • 37d. [Sleepers], SOFABEDS. Not people who are sleeping.
  • 45d. [It may be taken to prevent sunburn], SIESTA. Good clue.
  • 56d. [Ward healers] RNS. Playing on a political “ward heeler.” RNs work in hospital wards.


  • 40a. [Clarity, for short], RES. I have no idea what the connection between this clue and answer might be. Anyone?
  • 49a. [Coconut kernel], COPRA. Old-school crosswordese.
  • 4d. [Empathic one], SENSER. Can you use this word in a sentence that doesn’t sound stilted?
  • 6d. [About 120 square yards], ARE. Why? Why?? Why clue it as the unit of measure my dictionary labels “historical,” a fusty bit of crosswordese (because who the heck knows this unit other than longtime crossworders?), when it is a perfectly flexible verb?
  • 27d. [Burner hookup], GAS TAP. Meh.
  • 36d. [Prepares to display], ENFRAMES. Or … just FRAMES. Who uses that EN-, anyway?
  • 44d. [Stop on the Copenhagen-Jutland line], ODENSE. Crosswordese town in Denmark. Mnemonic: It has the DEN of Denmark in it. And it’s inside -OSE, the chemical ending for sugars, and a Danish pastry is sweet! There you go.

3.5 stars.

Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 6 16 12

I just hit the blogging skids this morning and have zero inclination to blog despite liking this puzzle all right. Who needs paragraphs?

  • 1a. [Small big-eyed flier], ELF OWL. Not to be confused with pollo, a.k.a. EL FOWL.
  • 14a. [Where to pick up leaves in bags], TEA SHOP. Loose tea leaves.
  • 28a. [The toe of an Asian “boot”], OMAN. On the Arabian Peninsula, which is technically part of the Asian continent.
  • 34a. [In one’s slip?], MOORED. If one is a boat, that is.
  • 36a. [Junk food, to a nutritionist], EMPTY CALORIES. Great fill, tastes great, more filling.
  • 42a. [Groom’s bagful] OATS. Horse groom, not bridegroom. Can usually make it down the aisle without needing to snack on granola.
  • 47a. [Hail at the luau], ALOHA. As in “Hail, hail!” rather than frozen precipitation.
  • 3d. [Blog readership, collectively], FANDOM. Hello, fandom! Some blog readers are haters rather than fans, there to troll. Not here, though. Fiends are nice people.
  • 5d. [Stemless symbol], WHOLE NOTE. Music, not roses.
  • 6d. [“Dress cut down to there” wearer of song], LOLA. In Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana,” not the Kinks’ “Lola.”
  • 7d. [Fleance’s father], BANQUO. In Macbeth, Fleance is a character whose name I don’t recall at all.
  • 11d. [What the “arrant thief” of a moon “snatches from the sun,” in Shakespeare’s “Timon of Athens”], PALE FIRE. Also a Nabokov novel.
  • 21d. [Shudder-inducing nature, in modern slang], ICK FACTOR. Some men in the Michigan legislature apparently think the word “vagina” has too much ick factor, though they have no objection to presenting legislation that governs female reproductive organs.
  • 24d. [Not very innocent-looking], VAMPISH. A word I’ve never used.
  • 27d. [“The Rite of Spring” quartet], OBOISTS. Had no idea.
  • 36d. [Winged undersea mollusk hunter], EAGLE RAY. Had no idea.

3.75 stars.

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

WSJ Saturday Puzzle solution, "Roundabout" cryptic Cox Rathvon

I didn’t really warm up to this puzzle until at least 20 minutes into it, when I had finally made some decent headway and no longer felt dumb. The evening before, I’d solved about six Kosman/Picciotto cryptics from The Nation (all I have left to do is every April, May, and June puzzle!) in a row so I was pretty sure my cryptic muscles were in top shape. But no, the variety cryptic monkey clung to my back and laughed at the regular cryptics with their numbered answer spaces.

Speaking of variety cryptics, (1) I just gave a stack of variety cryptics from old Games/World of Puzzles issues to Dan Feyer because I was never going to get around to them, and (2) today’s mail brought me an entire book of variety cryptics self-published by Roger Wolff. I loved Emily and Henry’s book of old Atlantic cryptics, but as Roger says in his introduction, there’s really nowhere to publish variety puzzles (unless, he refrains from saying, your name is Cox and/or Rathvon). It may be a while before I dig into Roger’s 50 Variety Cryptic Crosswords, but in the meantime, those of you thirsting for a new source of variety cryptics can order the new book on Amazon.

Back to Emily and Henry’s circular “Roundabout.” My first attempt at making headway was to fill in the middle answer in the Radii answers I’d figured out, and then fit Ring d’s answers through those. Man, that didn’t pan out for a good long while. Kept plugging away and whaddaya know? Everything came together. Except for those two uncrossed letters I got wrong. In Ring c, [Threesome keeping one servant in “The Taming of the Shrew”] asked me to end up with a Shakespeare character from a play I’d never read—and not a famous one, either. I went with TRIN(I)E but the answer turns out to be TR(AN)IO. Wait, who? At least the other mystery name had no uncrossed letters and is a recognizable name: [Writer Moravia let boar loose], ALBERTO.

Finally, you work your way into the innermost Ring g to get CIRCUNAVIGATORS, and at long last have some idea what goes into the unclued spaces in Rings a-f: Phileas FOGG, John GLENN, Nellie BLY, Captain COOK, Charles DARWIN, and Francis DRAKE.

Favorite clue: [Underwater plants inspire amazement in garden beginners], SE(AWE)EDS.

4.25 stars.

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37 Responses to Saturday, 6/16/12

  1. ktd says:

    I finished the right half of the puzzle in 2:52, then spent another 11:19 on the left half. Wish I could average the times out and say I finished in just over 6 minutes!

  2. janie says:

    while my times differed from ktd’s, my experience was similar. completed the east side w/ faaaar greater ease than the west. this felt like a real saturday to me (had to get up and move around and come back to it a couple of times; not so yesterday), so for my money, the weekend puzzle-designations were just right.

    as deb is wont to acknowledge in the wordplay blog, “your mileage may vary.”


  3. john farmer says:

    Jared: another memorable Roman numeral from PG.

    Liked the Barry Silk puzzle a lot. Pretty much the same time as yesterday’s, so it was a Saturday for me. Similar thoughts about “bare arms” here. Some great cluing, and a great string of puzzles lately.

  4. jae says:

    The only thing I can think of re: HALTERS are military guards who say “Halt! Who goes there.” They bear arms. Seems a bit of a stretch for a Silk puzzle though.

  5. Martin says:

    A halter bears arms the way a tree bears fruit? It works for me.

  6. granbaer says:

    Took me forever, but I thought it was a very good Saturday puzzle. I thought there was going to be a rebus theme when I filled in SOCIALLIFE instead of IQ. Way off base there.

  7. T Campbell says:

    Peter’s mention of the TRANSIT OF VENUS reminds me of a puzzle grid I submitted to the Times, which won’t be published now:

    (I’ll let you spot what makes it Transit-of-Venus-relevant.)

    It might’ve been better if I’d used cheater squares to change TRAVELS, TREV, VANS and SLIVERS to RAVELS, REV, VAN and SLIVER. TREV is difficult to clue. And SCHAV and SAW IV were gambles, even if I’m personally pleased with the clues: “Dish best served cold” and “The villain is dead from start to finish in this franchise film.” Ah, well, what might have been.

  8. Foodie says:

    Northeast fell in the blink of an eye, Northwest seemed impossible. I had PacifisTS in lieu of PUSSYCATS. I did not understand the brown drawer till I came here.

    My Quick & Dirty Index puts this at Medium for a Saturday

  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Also liked the puzzle; also found East of the Rockies MUCH easier than the left coast. I thought the NW was a little weak, or maybe I just don’t get some of the clues. I assume one plays an organ at a mass, but why is it “merchandise?” What is the “side”, as opposed to “ride” effect of nausea? I suppose they speak with a French accent in Les Miz, but is that really a feature? The Hollywood convention that “foreigners” always speak English, but with the appropriate foreign accent, has always amused me.

    I also wonder if “bear” was a rare oversight, and if the clever analysis presented by several people here is a convenient, welcome escape route. I guess we’ll never know.

    Only real nit: There are no more kopek (pronounced roughly kaPYECK) coins in Russia. Haven’t been for years. If someone tries to give you kopeks, it’s not “change”, it’s closer to petty larceny. It’s like an analogous clue for “sou” in France, (though of course in France there’s the complication of the Euro.)

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Perhaps that’s overstated. You do occasionally see kopek coins floating around, and perhaps they’re still legal tender, so I’m guessing the clue can be justified.

    A Father’s Day footnote: I’ve heard the observation that just the word “halter” causes fathers of teenaged girls to experience 15a.

  11. Gareth says:

    Yup! Six minutes faster than yesterday here! All except the top-left in <7 minutes… That part was Saturday hard: I took out and put back NAUSEA, SANTA and MOAT several times, before I figure out ACCENT and the area unraveled. Very nice use of K, Q and Z! @Bruce: Nausea is a side effect of many drugs… There is a accent on the second E of "Les Misérables". The best example of foreigners speaking English in foreign accents is the sitcom Allo Allo. The two British airmen can't understand the French people hiding them when they speak English in a French accent!

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    If @Martin means that halter tops bear arms the way trees bear fruit, that’s a silly escape route to rationalizing the clue. The arms are there regardless of the halter’s existence. I really hope the clue didn’t mean to refer to “people who halt” because who would ever refer to armed sentries as “halters”?

  13. Foodie says:

    Amy, I think it is indeed HALTER meaning people who stop you. I say this by analogy to the “drawer” in the SCHULTZ clue… Does a comic strip illustrator introduce himself by saying: “Hi, I’m a drawer”, any more than a guard says he’s a halter? Saturday shenanigans.

  14. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Of course, there are plenty of unarmed people whose job also involves “halting” people. (Bouncers at bars, for example. Store security guards.) Given that HALTERS = tops is a perfectly good word, it would be scraping the dregs to create the stilted HALTERS = people who halt, more of a roll-your-own word. When the cluer (whether Barry or the editor) has a choice between an in-the-language word and a stilted roll-your-own word, is it not silly to opt for the roll-your-own? I hate roll-your-own words (those that append various affixes to get a word that fits the grid but that doesn’t at all fit the way people talk).

  15. Martin says:


    For the record, I was kidding. I think it’s a mistake.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Given the regularity with which you do defend clues, the jokiness of a joke defense doesn’t necessarily come through. You forgot to use one of your trademark smiley-face emoticons.

  16. Martin says:

    OTOH, if we’re looking for a technical defense (“the clue is not good but it’s not incorrect either”) I think you’re being overly dismissive of halter=sentry. Saying “halt!” and being a sentry are pretty closely associated in crossword clues. “Halter” as a misdirecting clue for SENTRY itself has been used three times (although with question marks). And sentries are always armed.

    I wouldn’t expect that was the intended meaning because the misdirection of “bare arms” has more sparkle. I missed it when I test solved so I don’t know for sure. But calling someone who cries “Halt!” in tons of clues a “halter” doesn’t seem a roll-your-own word by any stretch.

  17. jae says:

    I wasn’t joking but I completely agree with Amy on “roll-your-own words.” It would actually be better if “bear” was the rare typo.

  18. Martin says:

    FYI: hectares are a very common unit in Canada.

    I suppose it’s as historical as any other metric unit.


  19. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Martin: But it is! A roll-your-own word used as a clue mislead is one thing. Enshrining HALTERS = people in the grid is another thing entirely. There’s a different standard. Using [Mississippi and Missouri, e.g.] to clue FLOWERS would be lousy. THINGS THAT FLOW isn’t good fill and neither is FLOW-ERS, whereas FLOWERS = blossoms is lovely. Come on, Martin. You know this.

  20. Martin says:


    I think that’s the point. Large areas are usually measured in hectares in the metric system, not ares (hundreths of a hectare). I think the clue is fine because it’s not an obsolete unit, but are is much rarer than hectare.

  21. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Martin A-S: Do Canadians use the are or just hectares?

  22. Martin says:


    The most common usage is in the land measure hectare. So to answer your question, the base unit (without a prefix) is uncommon.

    But, it’s hardly historical (or obsolete) in the way some old imperial measures are.


  23. Martin says:


    I really don’t see a huge difference between cluing HALTER as “Sentry” and cluing SENTRY as “Halter.” It’s like when TOWER is clued as “Illegal parker’s concern.” Tower and flower and halter really have those meanings, but they’re not the first meanings we think of. I still suspect a typo, but that doesn’t mean I’ll agree that there’s anything improper about cluing an inflected form with misdirection.

    And in the interest of keeping the conversation interesting and fun, some people really don’t like being told what they know.

  24. Martin says:

    RH2 does cite HALTER as a person or thing that halts. Not that it makes it a great word, however.


  25. Gareth says:

    The Martins are in full swing today! But where are the Jeffreys to counterbalance?

  26. Mike in Arlington says:

    “Res” as in high resolution screen. Lotsa pixels.

  27. Martin says:


    There is a difference. The SI lists the hectare as a acceptable “non-SI unit accepted for use with the International System of Units” (see page 124), but not the are.

  28. Jeffrey says:

    Never seen “are” as a unit. Lots of hectares. Or hectares of lots.

    CS ISLAND clue referred to the island I was born on and the one on which I currently reside.

    Teaser: tomorrow, the return of Jeffrey on a Gareth puzzle. Or maybe Jeffrey on tangents semi-related to a Gareth puzzle. We’ll see.

  29. granbaer says:

    Put me in the “bare” arms camp for HALTERS. In fact, I did not even notice that the clue was “bear” not “bare” when I came up with HALTERS.

  30. pannonica says:

    CS: Could not understand how 64a [Common computer problem] wasn’t WORD.

    Also, ELIA, ELIE, ARIA, ASIA, ALAI, AGEE, tired me out.

  31. jae says:

    Some one on Rex’s blog just pointed out that HALTERS is a synonym for shoulder holsters. So, never mind.

  32. Martin says:

    Yeah, just the sight of ASIA in atlases tires me out too ;)


  33. pannonica says:

    Just meant en masse, MAS. Although ASIA is quite expansive, so it could be tiring to roll one’s eyes across all that landmass.

  34. John Haber says:

    I found it hard enough for a Saturday, and I had a different experience of relative difficulty within it. For me, the SE was by far the toughest, to the point of nearly uncrackable. I’d long ago put the Spice Girls out of my mind. (Wait, weren’t they designed to have 30 seconds of fame?) KANYE WEST wasn’t a gimme either, in association with Obama. (I wanted it to be Karl Rove, once I had the KA.) The Bush cabinet member wasn’t all that fresh in my mind either.

    I’ve been in college textbook publishing forever and never heard of ITT TECH (surprised others have), but it wasn’t too hard to believe it exists.

  35. jefe says:

    @Sam: I recently had the pleasure of seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform Beethoven’s Last Night, in which Beethoven’s just-completed Tenth Symphony is a major plot element.

  36. Lois says:

    I agree with John Haber. I couldn’t do that corner with Googles but previously got the rest (after quite a while) without Googling. Thank you, jae. I thought halters for guns might be correct because the way the clothing halter is wrapped seemed to lend itself to a meaning of shoulder holster, but the word used for gun holder or holster does not seem to be that common online. I guess I have to check out Rex.

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