Saturday, 8/4/12

NYT 5:31 
Newsday 5:07 
LAT 4:28 
CS 5:18 (Sam) 
WSJ (Saturday) untimed 

If you usually use the Cruciverb copy of the L.A. Times puzzle, don’t! The corrected version is posted at the Island of Lost Puzzles.

Jim Page’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 4 12 0804

I … am not the target audience for this puzzle. Some of you surely are. And it’s not to say that there weren’t things I liked in this puzzle. It’s just that there were so many discordant notes, so many oddball answers that didn’t enhance my solving experience.

First up, the good stuff: The THREE-DAY WEEKEND in the center is delightful. DROP ANCHOR is nice, though the [Water-park?] clue killed me. CREDIT CARD and DENTAL HYGIENIST in the middle are solid. MEN’S CHOIR has a great implausible letter sequence (NSCHOI doesn’t see much use). The bottom stack with PEER REVIEW, U.S. NATIONAL, and BAD MANNERS is great if you don’t look at any of the crossings. I also like the NYT crossword debut of MORGEN; guten Morgen is “good morning” in German. Also pleased with the clue for CRT: [Passé PC piece].

Some of the toughest things here are also among my unfavorites:

  • 18a. [Old Broadway production grp.], ANTA.
  • 36a. [Ghost’s sound], OOOO. I was expecting MOAN. OOOO is not what we call desirable fill.
  • 3d. [Informal name for a monkey], JOCKO. Say what?? I quizzed my husband on this clue. “Chimp,” he said. “No, JOCKO,” I said. He laughed.
  • 38d. [Powerful Syrian city in the third millennium B.C.], EBLA. “Albe was I ere I saw Ebla.” Been doing crosswords for over 30 years, didn’t know this one.
  • 47d. [Hanover’s river], LEINE. Not one of the top 20 rivers found in crosswords. Ohio, Pee Dee, Tyne, Ouse, Exe, Aire, Avon, Dee, Aar(e), Oder, Eder, Eger, Elbe, Arno, Tiber, Ebro, Seine, Loire, Saone, Rhine, Neva, Amu Darya … see? I’ve learned a lot of rivers via crosswords but not the Leine.

Also in the grumble group: Isn’t it weird to include three not-the-usual-suspects in the clues for LLOSA, ERLE, and EERO? Suffix URE, meh. Three-word partial, AM I A. [Brit working with nails, say], for ENAMELLER—yes, that’s the British spelling of “enameler” and yes, the Brits call nail polish “enamel,” but I’ve been Googling the hell out of this and ENAMELLER doesn’t seem to be a term used at British nail salons. (We don’t call ’em “polishers” here either.) The grid’s also got a mélange of abbreviations and foreign words (ANTA SSE CRT HMO KTS RTES SSRS ENCS NCOS, ESA EIN MORGEN, and foreign abbrev two-fer SRTA). Wondering if any of you have encountered the words AREAR and MISDONE in your reading and listening; outside of crosswords, I don’t think I’ve ever seen either.

2.5 stars.

Joe DiPietro’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 8 4 12

Uh, I don’t get it. Why does this puzzle (or the .puz version, at any rate) have two unchecked squares? I think there are supposed to be three black squares in the center of the grid, not five. Right? 31a. [Chilean island south of Tierra del Fuego], HOSTE is patently obscure, whereas tacking on a D makes it HOSTED crossing EDU, both completely legit. And on the other side, MAILED/HMO works fine too. Technical mishap, perhaps? Strange business. Anyone (and here I am addressing the future, as it’s only Friday night now) have the Saturday paper with this puzzle in the HOSTED/MAILED form?

Edited to say: This is indeed the incorrect file. The corrected puzzle is now posted in the Island of Lost Puzzles. I’m not going to redo the puzzle and renumber the clues in this post. I trust you can follow along.

Fourteen clues to review:

  • 1a. [Letter in red and violet], the SHORT E the words have in common.
  • 16a. [Even further evidence], EXHIBIT C. Evidence is exhibit A. Further evidence is exhibit B. And even further evidence …
  • 49a. [Court game using mallets], ROQUE. I just met you, and this is crazy. I was playing around in the NYT’s Olympic results interactive graphic doodad a couple hours ago, and saw that in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, not only did the U.S. win about 80% of all the medals, but both roque and tug of war (!) were Olympic sports. No idea what roque is, other than “court game using mallets.” Never would’ve guessed 49a were it not for the Times graphic.
  • 53a. [Repeated words from one who’s been rebuffed], BUTS. I wanted “BUT I—b-b-but I—.”
  • 58a. [Laura Innes’s “ER” role], DR. WEAVER. Easy for me, but if you never watched the show when it was on …
  • 1d. [Armadillo relatives], SLOTHS. I did not know that. Pannonica, Martin, tell us about this family and how they are or are not related.
  • 2d. [Rap], HIP-HOP. Just like that.
  • 9d. [Rama IX subjects], THAIS. Most of the times that THAIS appears in the NYT crossword, it’s clued as an opera rather than as a plural demonym.
  • 24d. [And those that follow, in notes], ET SEQQ. Thanks to T Campbell for making this one a cinch for me. (Also spelled et seq. Either version is kosher.)
  • 26d. [__ operandi], MODI. The plural. I knew this was somebody’s last name but couldn’t recall who. Wikipedia to the rescue! Actor Kal Penn’s birth name is Kalpen Modi.
  • 31d. [Trilby circlets], HATBANDS. When I get a club team together to play roque, we’ll be called the Trilby Circlets.
  • 38d. [Radiation dose unit], SIEVERT. Thank you, Japanese nuclear disaster, for teaching me about millisieverts.
  • 43d. [Unit of assorted merchandise], JOB LOT. Don’t really know what that means. Odd job, odd lot, sure.
  • 55d. [Blaise’s blaze], FEU. French for “fire.” Quick! Name a famous Blaise other than Pascal.

Three stars. I liked ANTIQUE SHOP, but overall this puzzle didn’t have much in the way of fill that enchanted me. Not too much that irked me, either.

Updated Saturday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “What a Stupid Puzzle!” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, August 4

If you’ve been away for few days, it’s Name That Constructor Month here at the CS write-up. I solve the puzzle then take three guesses at the constructor. A correct first choice gives me three points, a correct second guess is worth two points, and I get one sympathy point if I’m right on the third choice. So far I have two points for the month, but hey, this is only Day Four. Let’s see if I can add to the total today.

So six (!) of this puzzle’s entries start with words that can also describe a stupid or ridiculous person:

  • 17-Across: JERKWATER describes something [Unimportant, as a remote small town].
  • 21-Across: One who GOOSESTEPS [Marches with stiff legs]. I wasn’t sure if this was really a theme entry, so I looked it up. Sure enough, “goose” can be synonymous with “fool.” I feel like such a goose for not knowing this.
  • 54-Across: The IDIOT LIGHT is a [Dashboard warner]. Not to be confused with Kurt Warner or Blair Warner. Us idiots know it as the “check engine light.”
  • 60-Across: A BOOBY TRAP is a [Hidden danger]. (Inner Beavis titters in delight.)
  • 11-Down: A DOPE SHEET is a [Source of horse racing info]. I know it as a “tip sheet.” Hmm. I seem to know a lot of these terms by other, less derisive names. I wonder if people are just being nice to me and, if so, whether that should tell me something.
  • 34-Down: DODO BIRDS are [Extinct avians]. And the smart birds, owls, still thrive. So there you go.

With 54 squares fixed by theme entries, there’s not much room for sizzle, yet we get a fair number of small treats like VOO-DOO, IN AGES, RAP STAR, HOTBED, and KEN-KEN. (And geez there’s a lot of double-O entries here, with GOOSE, VOO-DOO, BOOBY, EROO and LOON.)

So whoever made this did a very nice job. Now comes the part where I play the fool and try to guess the constructor. Let’s see, for three days straight I’ve tried Alan Arbesfeld as my third guess. I’m going to promote him to the first slot today, largely because, as the newest member of the CS team, he may be trying to make a splash with such a theme-heavy offering. My next two guesses will be random stabs in the dark–let’s hope I don’t wound anyone.

1. Alan Arbesfeld     2. Raymond Hamel     3. Tony Orbach

Dang it! I was toying between Randy and Tony for that third slot. Yikes. The batting average slips to .250 and I stay at a mere two points. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s Sunday Challenge has a distinct style so I can get off the schnide.

Favorite entry = DROP IT!, the [Order to a gun toter]. Favorite clue = [Second place?] for TENS, as in the tens column between the hundreds column and the ones column. I had to think about the clue for a while before it made sense. No wonder I liked this theme. (Honorable mention to [Medium setting?] for a SEANCE.)

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (pen name Anna Stiga – “Stan again” anagram)

Newsday crossword solution, 8 4 12 "Saturday Stumper"

Super smooth fill, and easier than I was expecting. The worst thing in the puzzle is a 9-letter inflected word that I’ve never had cause to use, OBLIGATOR (55a. [One who binds]). It’s more than offset by all the good stuff. Among my favorites:

  • 15a. [Emphatic rejection], FAT CHANCE!
  • 16a. [Joint tenant], great clue for a FELON residing in the joint, prison.
  • 19a. [“Radiant Baby” artist], Keith HARING. Haring’s style is so fun.
  • 22a. [E. Germany, to E. Germans], DDR. High-school German class pays off again. Deutsche Demokratische Republik, if memory serves. More popular these days as the arcade/video game Dance Dance Revolution.
  • 31a. ALL BROKEN UP, good stuff.
  • 33a. [It has a head and hops], ALE. Great clue! RABBIT wouldn’t fit.
  • 24a. [Bose iPhone app], AM/FM RADIO. Modern clue for something that’s been around for decades.
  • 59a. [Emphatic rejection], “NO, YOU DON’T.”
  • 61a. [Alley availability], OPEN LANES at the bowling alley. As in “Are there any open lanes?”
  • 1d. [Certain throws]? That’s sure to be a sports term, like AERIALS or something. Wasn’t confident enough of AERIALS to put it in, and good thing. Turned out to be small throw blankets, AFGHANS.
  • 8d. [Elvis, in early 1960] is a more interesting clue than usual for the military abbrev NCO.
  • 12d. [Character debuting in 1710 as a Chinese ne’er-do-well], ALADDIN. Who knew?
  • 21d. “I’M SORRY” is another answer where the puzzle takes a conversational tone. [E-pology website] is completely unfamiliar to me, though. Check out “I’m Sorry is an online apology community offering people the ability to apologize online, share apology stories and send forgive me gifts and cards.”
  • 25d. [Dagwood, to Elmo], MR. B. Short for Mr. Bumstead.
  • 35d. [Inedible dressing], fun clue for BANDAGE.
  • 46d. [Shrill buzzer], CICADA. Is my son’s observation correct, that cicadas only make noise in the evening? I’d never noticed a time constraint to their buzzing.

Two clues pull double duty. Both 33d and 53a are [Possible substitute for “or”]: ALSO and ALIAS. 49d and 52d are both metaphorical [Big wheel]s, MOGUL and LION.

Clues I bet people will be Googling today:

  • 34a. [Elf’s transportation, in fantasy novels], ROC. The roc is a giant bird creature.
  • 46a. [Name on the cover of “Favorite Haunts”], CHAS Addams.
  • 47a. [King of Italy, 1805-1814], NAPOLEON I.
  • 26d. [’60s Prime Minister between two Harolds], ALEC. I confess I don’t remember British P.M. Alec’s last name, nor either of the Harolds’ last names.
  • 39d. [Something that rolls to make rolls], PIN. Rolling pin used to roll out dough when making bread rolls.
  • 42d. [Printer’s color-matching system], PANTONE. Anyone with a publishing or graphic design background probably nailed this one.

Really enjoyed this 72-worder. 4.33 stars.

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

WSJ Saturday Puzzle answers, 8 4 12 "Rows Garden" Berry

Once again, another perfect Rows Garden puzzle from the atelier of Patrick Berry. The Rows sparkle with lively phrases, names, and titles—consider “DON’T INTERRUPT,” LOVERS’ LANE, THE SIMPSONS, ROLLERBALL, “NORWEGIAN WOOD,” RADAR GUNS, DONALD DUCK, DESI ARNAZ, RAISE CAIN, and BARNEY MILLER. I even like the dreaded BUSINESS DAYS (aren’t you always heartbroken when you order something at the beginning of a long holiday weekend and know they won’t even process your order till Tuesday?). The closest thing to an inelegant answer is one of the light blooms, ASWOON ([Fainting])—one of those a-words we usually encounter only in crosswords.

Favorite clues:

  • [Auto part that doubled as the radiator cap on the earliest cars (2 wds.)], HOOD ORNAMENT. I didn’t know that, but it makes sense. “We have this ugly cap on the hood and it’s ruining the visual lines. Can we hide it better?”
  • [The most realistic cop show ever seen on television, according to policeman-turned-actor Dennis Farina], BARNEY MILLER. Who knew? My husband sums up the show as being about cops sitting around the station house doing paperwork and making coffee.


The toughest spot for me was where Row L first meets a light bloom. [Feature of a leather necklace (2 wds.)], ***DE KNOT. What kind of knot? I don’t know my knots. The crossing was [What a Veg-O-Matic does], ***CES. JUICES would give me a JUIDE KNOT; that can’t be right. MINCES would make it a MINDE KNOT; also wrong. Finally came up with SLICES and SLIDE KNOT, and only then did I remember Ron Popeil’s ad catchphrase, “It slices! It dices!” Here’s how you make a slide knot.

4.75 stars.

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23 Responses to Saturday, 8/4/12

  1. Matt Gaffney says:


    I told you this day would come! You object now to the unchecked squares, but next time the two-word entries arise will you object so loudly — or not at all?



  2. Huda says:

    I liked it better than Amy, and found it on the easy side for a Saturday (which means it did not take me an order of magnitude longer than her to complete it). EBLA was a gimme, but then I’m from Syria, so I guess that’s not fair. But I thought it was of sufficient historical import to be fair? ADRENAL was also a gimme, which opened up the who center and bottom and they fell in Wednesday speed. But that LLOSA/ JOCKO combo was evil. And I had innERMOST, then ouTERMOST before I tumbled to UTTERMORST. Is that the farthest?

    Martin, the clue for ADRENAL is an example of a case where I can’t tell whether the scientific basis is * very slightly* off or intentionally tricky. The ADRENAL is, indeed, a producer of Norepinephrine, so the clue is correct strictly speaking. But it made me hesitate because the majority of what’s produced in the ADRENAL (medulla) is epinephrine (aka adrenaline). Specific regions in the brain (with very cool names!) have the opposite ratio: Much more nor-epinephrine relative to epinephrine. I realize most people don’t care. But why not clue the ADRENAL with epinephrine? Unless the intent is for slight misdirection?

  3. Gareth says:

    OOOO is so horrible and contrived. It’s one answer, but I can’t get over it. Two answers were really fab though: THREEDAYWEEKEND and PEERREVIEW! Ooh, and a surprising clue for ERLE! (I’m not sure where Martin’s comment Huda is commenting on is, but I can’t see what the fuss is; ever since high school physiology I’ve had drummed into my head that the adrenal medulla makes two hormones: adrenaline and noradrelaline. The fact that somewhere else makes more is irrelevant to the clue being correct.)

    LAT: Amy, makes two of us, sort of! I was reading up on obscure Olympic sports on Wikipedia last night, including the entire article on ROQUE. I thought to myself it’d be an interesting crossword answer, et voila! Sloths, armadillos and anteaters = xenarthrans (foreign joints) formerly endentates. Xenarthra(n) would be a fun crossword answer, but some might disagree!

  4. Matt says:

    Well, I rather liked OOOO. Chacun à son goo, as Baby LeRoy says.

  5. HH says:

    “1a. [Letter in red and violet], the SHORT E the words have in common.”

    But … doesn’t “violet” have a schwa?

  6. pannonica says:

    To possibly augment Gareth’s response, I mentioned the Xenarthra (including sloths) a couple of months ago (first comment).

  7. pannonica says:

    Didn’t norepinephrine pass away recently?

  8. ArtLvr says:

    ROQUE was recently in a list of historic Olympic events: I made notes because these would make a really impossible crossword theme! ROQUE was a form of croquet which appeared only in 1904 and had only one entrant – the Americans. Other items:
    First event with women participating (1900) – Croquet.
    Event in which Mohawk Indians of Canada took bronze (1904) – Lacrosse.
    Event in which only gold and silver medals were awarded (1900) – Basque Pelota
    Event in which John Jacob Astor won gold with doubles partner (1908) – Racquets
    Event with only one entrant (1936) – Aeronautics
    (I can’t remember if that last involved a balloon or glider or what!)

  9. ArtLvr says:

    @ pannonica – wow, your allusion to Nora Ephron’s recent demise! The latest on that actual component in your system: (3/26/2012) “Researchers believe increasing plasma norepinephrine levels as a measure of adrenergic activity herald worsening of heart failure in patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fractions.” Arco Biopharma is testing a potential drug to alleviate the condition…
    @ Gareth – love your picking up on ROQUE too!

  10. RK says:

    NYT had an interesting set of answers with peer review, mens choir, vocal cords…. Thought water-park/drop anchor was original and tricky, satisfying when solved.

    The two Saturday Newsday puzzles I’ve attempted are highly difficult, exponentially compared to the rest of the week.

    Roque was a stumper.

  11. Huda says:

    Gareth, you’re right re the ADRENAL clue. It’s probably a case of knowing too much, and therefore reading too much into a clue, getting in the way.

    I too liked OOOO. Recently did an old puzzle about TARZAN that had IIIIIIII, 8 in a row, as part of the Thursday trick.

  12. Matt says:


    I guess I just have to link to this:

  13. sbmanion says:

    I believe I may have my first point of true distinction as a solver. Was there anyone else for whom LLOSA was a gimme and who has seen all three movies in the Anaconda trilogy? And they say I am just a jock and lack culture.

    I found the NW to be very tough in spite of that rather sad bit of trivial knowledge. SE, which some found tough, fell pretty easily.


  14. Jeff Chen says:

    @Huda: I laughed at “EBLA was a gimme”. I love that the crossword crowd knows so much esoterica.

  15. Huda says:

    Matt: Perfect!

  16. ArtLvr says:

    @ RK – Agreed! Highly difficult Saturday Stumper indeed — even the Art school GENRE and NAPOLEONI were a long time in finally appearing!

  17. john farmer says:

    LAT: print version has the grid with unchecked squares. Seems there were two separate errors. First was adding the extra blocks (a single errrant click could do that); the second was fixing the error by cluing the changed across answers.

  18. Tuning Spork says:

    So, why does the “incorrect” L.A Times .puz file have appropriate clues for HOSTE and AILED? Too many cooks working the puzzle pot?

  19. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. Stumper’s UK Prime Minister between two Harold was highly sneaky: he served for only one year! The roster reads:
    Harold Macmillan 1957-63, Sir Alec Douglas-Home Oct 1963-Oct 1964, (and he renounced the peerage a week after his appointment to stand for the House of Commons), then Harold Wilson twice 1964-70 and 1974-76. In between Harold Wilson’s two stints was Edward Heath 1970-74, so the clue was doubly tricky…

  20. John Haber says:

    I wouldn’t call myself, in contrast to Amy, the intended audience if that means that I knew LLOSA or JOCKO (although the crossing looked more right than, say, the A from more familiar word Lhasa). Or that I wasn’t thrown by the block of ELBE, EERO, and LIENE, to the point that I did worry that LIENE didn’t look right.

    Still, I guess I’m the intended audience if it means this was among my fastest Saturdays and reasonably pleasant. I imagine it’s because, for once, less sports trivia and really bad movies or TV. (Hasn’t Will S. ever seen a movie that actually got a halfway decent review? ) And OOOO was my favorite answer, although I tried a version with an H in it first.

  21. Martin says:

    I’ve been out all day, so twasn’t me who was bothered by the adrenal clue either.

    The golden age for sloths (and armadillos, for that matter) ended about 10,000 years ago. Megatherium was a twenty-foot sloth that didn’t have to hurry up for nobody. The armadillo relative, Glyptodon, was the size of a car. The chances are that humans saw these beasts, and may have contributed to their extinction.

  22. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I haven’t done today’s puzzles, so I haven’t read the comments, but I will report that I just got back to Mass. from the Lolla in NYC, and had a great time. Brian and pauer were their usual charming, witty selves as emcees, and the whole event had an upbeat, zany, irreverent aura, which everyone enjoyed. Good Vibes. The puzzles were not of a type that I tend to do well on — intricate rebuses, line jumping themes and the like, but I thought the puzzles were uniformly superb — easily comparable to the ACPT. I made the acquaintance of two great seatmates, Leslie Billig and Adam Cohen. I was hoping that some of their solving prowess would rub off on me, but it was not to be. WS made an appearance, which was nice. It was an amazingly strong field, as befits a NYC event, so I utterly in awe of Joon for winning, given that tricky assortment of puzzles, and I extend him my congratulations. The strength of the field is illustrated by the fact that Ellen, Jon and Al came in 9th, 7th and 6th respectively, which tells you a lot.

    My thanks to the organizers and to everyone there who made it so enjoyable.

  23. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I’m afraid I have to ditto Amy’s assessment of the NYT. I’ve seen so many excellent puzzles today (including a couple supplemental handouts, one of which was by Neville), that the NYT felt a little clunky and awkward.

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