LAT 6:27 (Andy)
CS 5:45 (Sam)
WSJ (Saturday) untimed
Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
What happened? On Facebook, multiple people have remarked on how easy this puzzle was. And yet! It took me as long as a toughish Saturday NYT. It really didn’t help me that I decided that 8d was TECHNICAL WRITER, and thus that 41a was BOOLE. Nor that I tried IGOR and ILSA before INGA on the Young Frankenstein clue at 54d. Really, Amy? ILSA? The name associated with Casablanca?
I like the minitheme of LENNON/MCCARTNEY and PAPERBACK WRITER, complete with the Apple-is-a-computer-company bait I took.
Other goodies: BUBBLE UP (remember the sodapop by that name?); the [Abrupt discussion ender] “DROP IT” (I kept waiting for the crossings to confirm OR ELSE but they refused); the dance THE STROLL rightly using the definite article; TANZANIA; TEXACO; SPERM DONOR, or [One banking a bank deposit?]; the hockey [Enforcer’s place, often], the PENALTY BOX; the ENIAC trivia clue [Six women at Penn programmed it]; and the insanity of cluing DANE as [King Gorm the Old, e.g.] (and I really want to know if modern Danish people name their children Gorm).
Could do without: ARA, C FLAT, OEN, ALERO.
Did not know: 31d: [Samuel Johnson’s only play], IRENE.
So, how did this puzzle treat you? I bet the people who trounced me did not flail around blankly at the central 15s. If I’d made that mental leap sooner, the puzzle would probably have fallen much more swiftly.
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Andy’s Review
Welcome to Whose Crossword Is It Anyway?, where everything’s made up and the stars don’t matter. That’s right, the stars are like 47% of voters to Mitt Romney. I’m your host, Andy — let’s get this show on the road!
For 4 minutes and 45 seconds, this was a really enjoyable puzzle. Early gimmes with KARA, TMZ, and the afore-referenced DREWCAREY made the NW a breeze. SKATEBOARD [It’s mounted at the X Games], PALMREADER [One studying lines], and FROZENROPE [Hard-hit line drive, in baseball] all clued beautifully, all interesting entries. Slapped down ALOt without checking the clue and moved out of that corner.
Immediately I laid down evilquEen at 39-A [Disney’s Maleficent, e.g.], confirmed by ANDREI [“War and Peace” prince] at the only correct letter. But Simone _ Q _ _ wasn’t ringing any bells, so I hightailed it out of there. To my pleasant surprise, NANCYLOPEZ [Four-time LPGA Tour Player of the Year] was waiting for me in the SE. (Oh hey, you know who else’s name fits in that slot perfectly? Karrie Webb. Webb won Player of the Year twice, but she has a career Grand Slam to her name, unlike Lopez, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship three times but never another major.) The Z in LOPEZ turned me on to CHEZ, and after plunking down fellow single-major-winner ANA Ivanovic, the SW fell pretty quickly.
Up into the NE, where AROD crossed A. REID. I bet they get confused for each other all the time. MARCONIRIG [Sailboat configuration named for its resemblance to a radio antenna] was a shot in the dark, and STEEPGRADE was ASWELL. Really wanted ESCALLOP to be “En Gallop“, but I’m probably the only one.
Given the 10×3 stacks in the corners, I was really impressed by the center of this grid. If you’re not going to clue ADELE as the singer of the new Bond theme, then for my money [Mr. Rochester’s ward] is the best clue, especially with the nifty cross-reference at 56-A with EYRE.
Eventually figured out SORCERESS and SAARBASIN (both of which I love), which brought me into the SW. Love the shout out to Red Cloud, a non-Crazy-Horse member of the OGLALA Lakota. PROHIBIT, GRES, and EYRE made FACESPONGE, ARTFORGERY, and LINTROLLER obvious-ish. I took a second and third glance at NELS, which I’ve never seen before. I’ve never seen “Mama” before, either. Or heard of it. It’s the kind of thing that smacks of pre-Maleska NYT puzzledom to me, which is why I decided it was probably right. Put in the second L in FALLS and the D in ARID, and poof. Done.
Except no Mr. Happy Pencil. First place I went back to? NELS. But I was pretty sure CHASSE was right, and ARTFORGiRY probably isn’t a thing. So I worked my way counterclockwise around the grid, scanning for my error. All the weirdest crossings (MERC/MEN, SEC/ETTE, CES and everything it crossed) were right. And that’s when I realized I hadn’t looked at the clues for ALOP and SAP. Whoops, my bad.
Let me just say this, though: ALOP? ALOP‽ Here’s what I did when Mr. Happy Pencil informed me that I was a SAP for not thinking of ALOP: I typed “define alop” into Google. You know what it turned up? This L.A. Crossword Confidential blog post from 2.5 years ago saying that when you type “define alop” into Google, you get no dictionary sites. You get acronyms, “Did you mean alopecia?”, but no definition of “alop.” That, unequivocally, is a surefire test for intolerable crosswordese.
What makes the whole Alop Affair worse is that there were at least two — and in my opinion four — fill options that were better, if less glitzy: 1) my original goof of ALOT/SAT; 2) the-still-not-good-but-at-least-not-as-bad partial ALOG [“I should be sleeping like ___,” The Beatles] crossing SAG. The lesser two are 3) the trip-around-the world pair of ALOO and SAO, and 4) ALOE crossing the ugly abbrev. SAE.
What about you, dear readers? WERE you displeased with that entry, or did you not find it as APPALLING as I did?
A million stars for NANCYLOPEZ, minus 999,997 stars for ALOP. See you next week!
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Dude, Where’s My Car?” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Four CARs are missing from this grid. Though we don’t know where they went, we know the spots from which they were taken. That’s because each of the four long Across entries is what’s left of a common term once the letter sequence C-A-R has been removed. Fortunately, the now-stranded terms have a whimsical feel to them, which Hartman plays up in the clues:
- 17-Across: “Carbohydrates” become BO HYDRATES, a short way of saying that [Football player Jackson drinks water before a game?].
- 30-Across: “Carroll O’Connor,” star of All in the Family and In the Heat of the Night, morphs into ROLL O’CONNOR, or [Rip off performer Sinead?]. Cute use of the common surname.
- 48-Across: The outdated “Oriental carpet” is curtailed into an ORIENTAL PET, a derogatory term for a [Siamese cat?].
- 66-Across: Which would you rather see at Thanksgiving–a “turkey carving” or a TURKEY VING, [Actor Rhames behaving like a chowderhead?] Yeah, me too. I can eat turkey any day.
Aspiring constructors, take note: two of the theme entries remove CAR from the start of the first word, and two steal from the start of the second word. That’s variety, not inconsistency. Note too, however, that one of the four base entries is one word, while all of the others have two words. That’s inconsistency, not variety.
It’s unusual for four long Downs to outshine the four theme entries in a puzzle, but that’s certainly the case here. I love the quartet of MR. UNIVERSE, STREISAND (is this the closest they have ever been to each other in real life?), TIED ONE ON, and STARK NAKED. Heck, they almost tell a story that sounds half-plausible!
It’s interesting that two states get abbreviated (OKLA and MONT) while a third, IDAHO, gets the full-name treatment. Okay, maybe “interesting” overstates it a little.
Favorite entry = OWN UP, meaning to [Confess]. Favorite clue = [Shout from a mugger?] for HI, MOM, the squeal often heard from someone mugging the camera at a televised sporting event.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Oof! This puzzle is hard, unless you happen to be the sort of person who gets these answers right off the bat:
- 5a. [Like Hello Kitty], BERIBBONED. First suspected the answer would relate to Japanese cartoons.
- 18a. [1982 Kentucky Derby winner], GATO DEL SOL. “Cat of the sun”?
- 20a. [Oxygen barrier provider], SARAN. I was scraping my brain for anatomical/physiological terms rather than plastic wrap. (Scraping your brain for plastic wrap should be inefficient.)
- 33a. [Ford’s wife in ”Presumed Innocent”], Bonnie BEDELIA. I went with Greta SCACCHI, who played the woman Ford’s character had an affair with. Whoops.
- 42a. [Premier who deposed the Gang of Four], HUA.
- 49a. [Jousting area], TILT YARD. I’m not up on my medieval terminology, I guess.
- 51a. [Karl Baedeker’s birthplace], ESSEN. Not your usual clue for this crosswordese stalwart.
- 58a. [BBC Asian Network language], URDU. The R led me to try ARAB, which of course is not a language. Arabic is. D’oh! I know better.
- 59a. [She played Sean Penn’s girlfriend in her film debut], ALLY SHEEDY. 1983’s Bad Boys. Who knew?
- 6d. [Eastern Orthodox deputy], EXARCH.
- 7d. [Gangster movie series] of bullet sounds, RAT-A-TAT.
- 11d. [Betraying unconcern], OBLIVIOUSLY. Why did I have OBLIVIOUS TO? That makes no sense. Maybe it’s not the puzzle. Maybe it’s me.
- 37d. [Colombian export], EMERALDS. When you’ve put down a couple incorrect crossings, it’s hard to tease out an answer for a broad clue like this.
- 52d. [Draw material from], MINE. I started with MILK, which is equally good except for the small matter of the crossings.
- 19a. [Escape artist of similes], “slippery as an EEL.”
- 41a. [Oldest known oil source], SESAME. Trivia!
- 1d. [Where drop-offs are monitored], SLEEP LAB. How many minutes does it take you to fall asleep in a dark room? The folks in the sleep lab can document that.
- 23d. [Done with makeup, maybe], CAMERA-READY. Nice entry.
- 42d. Word from the Latin for “guest room”], HOSTEL. Etymology!
- 55d. [”Thank you, Captain Obvious!”], DUH.
Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Telescopes”
Mea culpa for last week—my browser took me to page 2 of the WSJ puzzles, and I mixed up September and October and somehow decided that the most recent puzzle posted was the regular Friday one and the Saturday one wasn’t up, but in fact it was, right at the top of page 1. I have the 10/6 Hex cryptic printed out, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
I love the way this week’s puzzle plays out its endgame, with the telescoped letters that are shared by two adjacent answers forming a constellation of letters that spell out a brilliant quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “I don’t believe in astrology. I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.” Ha!
The fill in the grid tends to be shorter, more pedestrian material rather than the sorts of long phrases Berry spoils us with in his Rows Gardens. When Row 1 is PEGS/RA(ID)/(ID)ES/CASKS, there is less joy in the process of teasing out answers from the clues.
I started solving this puzzle before I’d read the instructions, but Row 1 quickly revealed that it didn’t have enough squares for its four answers, so I was then reminded to look at the instructions. Note to self: glance at instructions before solving.
4.5 stars. It is a mystery how Patrick Berry managed to break a quote into 1- to 3-letter chunks, put them in a grid with certain Across words overlapping by those letters and no others, and have ordinary Down answers intersecting the whole shebang.
I’m amazed that my Quick & Dirty Index puts this as Easy. Another Whupper for me. I agree that much depends on when you see the light re Apple. I carefully noted that it was capitalized, but that didn’t help, especially with MC right there in the middle… Evil.
I found the SE easy, and everything else was a struggle– every corner, practically every letter. e.g. BLOOD DONOR? no ORGAN DONOR, no, ah, SPERM DONOR… My fingers are bleeding…
PS. I still don’t get that SECRET SANTA clue…
“Company’s present occasion” would be an opportunity to play Secret Santa for someone you work with by surprising them with a gift or gifts in December. Sometimes names are drawn out of a hat, and you keep the person you are treating to goodies a secret.
Thanks, Jan. I guess I never heard that expression…
Fastest Saturday ever for me … and, boy, those central 15s are easy if you are fortunate enough to be starting with LENNO and PAPER.
Nice clue for PENALTY BOX.
LAT: Hanging here and there,
The mildewed haystacks, all a-lop,
And the old dead stub with the crow
at the top.
NYT: Easy-medium here; Agree with you though, if I cracked LENNONMCCARTNEY/PAPERBACKWRITER quicker I’d have destroyed the puzzle. Beautiful grid though, can’t see a thing to frown at, and then there’s THESTROLL, SPERMDONOR etc. etc. 5 Stars! P.S. I can’t be the only one who didn’t put BRYAN in straight away because they couldn’t trust such an obvious answer in a Saturday puzzle!
LAT was a DNF. Finish everything except pretty much the left 3/4 columns in 5-ish. Clawed my way to all but 2 squares, but they were a bridge too far. Got SKATEBOARD off BOARD but PALMREADER had me stumped and FROZENROPE is a foreign language. Never heard of KARA (I eventually got the section by trying various potential female names beginning with K!). My one blank square though was actually BENET/CES. In hindsight maybe E was the most likely for the surname. My only finger into the stack below was PROHIBIT, until OGLALA emerged from somewhere and led to ARTFORGERY. Even so I “finished” with NEL?/CHA?SE. All the stacks contain interesting answers, this is still a very nice themeless; every now and then, you’re just that guy whose personal knowledge means a cross or two are impossible.
Well, I got the central crossing relatively early but still found it tough. UTICA? CFLAT? SPERMDONOR (rather than BLOODDONOR, SERUMDONOR)? PENALTYBOX? All tough for me.
LAT: I had no trouble with the P in ALOP because saP is the only reasonable across answer for “pidgeon.”
I tried to correct the typo above with “pigeon” but it did not work. Sorry about that. When I tried to enter the edit, it changed my identity to “undefined.”
I might add that I liked LINT ROLLER, which took some time to get even after I had xxxxroller. (I am not a cat owner.)
It’s too bad that the answer wasn’t ALOT instead of the woeful ALOP, simply because the Alot is a wonderful creature.
+1000 points for mention of the Alot.
Sorry, Andy, but I had no trouble with ALOP/SAP — but, like Gareth, didn’t know TMZ or that FROZEN ROPE was a thing! Amusing, anyway.
As for the missing CAR in Hartman’s puzzle, I did this one (including BOHYDRATES!) without quite getting it – brain fuzzy in the wee hours. However, I did love the INVISIBLE MAN puzzle the other day with names like HER WOUK. Go figure… the grid even looked like the shadow of a stick figure!
I am having trouble with Java, can the WSJ friday crossword be solved in across lite? Thanks in advance.
yes. if you click on the “today’s puzzles” page, you’ll see links for downloading across lite files for those puzzles that are available in across lite, including the WSJ friday.
A really big thank you Joon
Well, more medium/challenging here, until I got the crossed 15s; mis-direct re Apple was splendid. SW was hard. Wanted CAPONE as Warhol’s hero; what’s with that. So, got it all with no mistakes, which, for me, is a very good Saturday. Dramatically harder than yesterday, absent any stacked 15s, which always make a puzzle easier.
andy, that is a good point about ALOP. i actually looked at the clues and never thought twice about it, but now i am wondering why/how two excellent constructors and a top-notch editor let that bit of ugliness through when there was such an easy fix available. on first glance i didn’t see anything that would cause SAT or A LOT to be a duplication.
that C FLAT clue was kind of a stunner. really? that is a pathological key. most people just call it B (which is itself a pathological key, what with the five sharps.) wikipedia confirms, which does not make me less surprised. i was really, really expecting that answer to be B FLAT or E FLAT.
I’m not sure how ALOP got in there either. When Brad & I work on a grid, we tend to send different versions back and forth until we settle on one we like. Perhaps one of the discarded versions had SAT or A LOT (or SIT or LOT) in a different area of the grid.
Or maybe I just like ALOP. According to the cruciverb database, I’ve used it in at least two other LAT puzzles.
This Stumper was another of those “not a clue” ones on (lengthy) first inspection. “Oof!” is right, Amy. Many uninspired guesses, fewer of which worked out this time. I know that jousting is also called “tilting,” but never heard of “tiltyard,” or “exarch” for that matter. To pick a bone, 14D shrug muscles are far more the medial groups attached to the neck, e.g. the large trapezius muscles (I tried “traps”), scalenes, etc. The deltoids are largely at the top of the shoulders, so this is anatomically and functionally incorrect. (try a shrug and note that while the shoulders move up they are being mostly pulled up by the inner muscles, not the far out ones…)
DNF this Stumper, large gaping hole in the NE.