Saturday, 10/20/12

Newsday 7:41 
NYT 5:39 
LAT 4:28 
CS 4:32 (Sam) 

Ned White’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, Oct 20 2012 1020

Part of this puzzle was enchanting and part of it had me thinking, “Come on! This is bogus.” Loved the sarcastic “ANY DAY NOW…” Liked the outdated but cute “WHO SHOT J.R.?” Liked THE LOT. Appreciated “GO JUMP IN THE LAKE.” Loved SCHMALTZ, 87.5% consonants. Liked QUIVERING clued as [Full of anticipation, perhaps]. Loved [React to a bad toe-stubbing] as the clue for HOP.

Didn’t connect with the clue for 36a: PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ, [Hit from Berlin]. I have now learned that before the ’80s German singer Taco recorded it, Irving B’s song was (and I bet a huge swath of you folks knew this) in a Fred Astaire movie by the same name. If you’re like me and you knew only the Taco cover, do yourself a favor and dislodge that from your head by watching Astaire do the tune on YouTube. It’s delightful.

In the grumbly category, we have 56a and those two crossings. 56a: [Alfa Romeo, e.g.] sounds like ITALIAN SPORTS CAR to me, but it turns out to be RADIO CODE (as in the NATO radio alphabet sort of code), and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered radio code as the terminology for that. So 58d: [Red letters?] means CIN(cinnati), home of the Reds baseball team. And 47d: [Milan’s Porta __] wants the Italian for “new,” NUOVA. When I clicked “done!” on the applet, the C and the O were masquerading as entirely different letters. Can’t even remember what I had where the C does. Oof!

Also in this category (which, technically, is more a befuddlement class than anything else) are 1a: DUMMY BAG ([Aid in football tackling drills]—I can picture the thing, but never knew its name); 16a: [Boston pop] as a clue for TONIC (why Boston?); 62a: [Port called the Cinderella of the Pacific], ENSENADA (what the…? I always thought this was in California, but it’s in Mexico); 12d: MICROWATT, a [Little bit of power] that has actual practical uses, it turns out; and 31d: BAR PIN, [Slender brooch] not in my ken.

3.5 stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Scrub-A-Dub-Dub”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, October 20

I’m solving and blogging from a remote location that might as well be the moon. It’s actually somewhere in San Diego, but for some reason the internet connection at my hotel is slow. Every time I hit a key, there’s about a two-second delay before anything shows. That makes for an interesting online solving and writing experience.

I mention all of this because I think if it weren’t for the echo effect on my keyboard, I might have broken the four-minute mark on this puzzle. There was only one entry I didn’t know right away (the [Fictional detectivePHILO Vance), but the crossings were simple enough that I didn’t need to know the answer. Everything else was smooth sailing, an apt experience as I overlook the harbor right now. 

I paid no attention to the theme while solving, but it’s pretty apparent we’re dealing with two-word terms where the last word can also refer to a household cleaning chore:

  • 20-Across: The [Salon lacquer] is NAIL POLISH
  • 32-Across: [Mr. Sandman’s material] is FAIRY DUST.
  • 43-Across: To [Subject to mind control] is to BRAIN WASH.
  • 58-Across: [Winning all the games in a series] is referred to as a CLEAN SWEEP. See, e.g., the Detroit Tigers.

Example of an -ER entry that works: FISHIER, something [Harder to swallow]. Example of -ER entry that’s, well, fishier: LEWDER, [More likely to be rated X] (except for the fact that nothing’s rated X anymore; it’s all NC-17–so I hear, anyway). Second example of a fishier -ER entry: MIMER, a [Charades player]. In Charades parlance: One word, two syllables. First syllable, rhymes with “mug.” Second syllable, Actor Majors.

Example of an abbreviation that works: IMHO, the [FWIW alternative] that means “in my humble opinion.” Example of an abbreviation that doesn’t work: AMER, one who is [From the US].

Favorite entry = SHOO IN, the [Sure winner]. Favorite clue = [Vocalist Costello] for ELVIS. Definitely the cooler Elvis, IMHO.

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

Newsday crossword solution, 10 20 12 “Saturday Stumper”

Fairly smooth puzzle with plenty of nice stuff in it but not much in the “wow!” category.

Because I need to get cracking on work, let me just list 10 items:

  1. 1a. [Memorable movie misanthrope], W.C. FIELDS. Lovely 1-Across, though I needed lots of crossings. It’s harder for people who died when my mother was three years old to land in the “memorable” place in my brain.
  2. 16a. [One of 10 Christmas carol characters], LEAPER. As in “ten lords a-leaping.” Meh.
  3. 18a. [Stores away], LAYS BY. Not a prepositional phrase I have ever used. I seldom encounter it.
  4. 20a. [Do some bench work], SET BAIL. Judicial bench. With the 8d crossing unclear to me (race [Track adjunct] is horse STABLES), SET SAIL also being familiar, and “bench work” also suggesting weightlifting, I had a tough time here.
  5. 33a. [”The Pearl of the Indian Ocean”], SRI LANKA. Pretty!
  6. 43a. [Before ”Survival” and 42 Across, Chronicle of Higher Education Web page], ORALS. 42a is KIT. Ergo, “Orals Survival Kit.” Tough cross-referencing here.
  7. 64a. [Family surname in ”Long Day’s Journey . . .”], TYRONE. Faint recollection of this.
  8. 1d. [Minnesota city that an actress was named for], WINONA. Needed some crossings to jog the memory. Have driven through Winona.
  9. 13d. [Union Pacific’s headquarters], NEBRASKA. Usually you get a city for an HQ clue, not a state.
  10. 14d. [Carpet cleaner], DRY STEAM. This seems scientifically implausible.

Underwhelmed by the southwest corner’s pile-up of word endings. CROSSEST, AERIALLY, and SMARMIER? There’s little reliance on just tacking an S onto the end, though, so there’s that.

3.5 stars.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 10 20 12

Hope to finish up this review before the Sunday NYT puzzle comes out in 15 minutes. Sentence fragment alert!

OBEAH crossing OVINES, meh. Not the zippiest puzzle openers.

Likes: RED CARPET honors, ENERGIZER BUNNY, newly opened MYANMAR, LIBERIA with a flag-similar-to-the-US-flag clue, John BELUSHI, HIT A NERVE, and geographic I’m-glad-I-play-those-Sporcle-Africa-quizzes SAO TOME. Also like ART ROONEY (grandpa of Mara Rooney and the other Rooney actress, or dad?) {correction from pannonica: Rooney Mara, descended from Wellington Mara}, and the way the SILVER ORE clue tips its hand: [Argentite, e.g.] ties to the Latin argentum, which is the source of silver’s atomic symbol, Ag.

Unfond of FOOLER. Don’t know 8d: [Five-time 1970s Gold Glove winner César] CEDENO, though I suspect I’ve seen him in a couple crosswords.

3.5 stars.

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18 Responses to Saturday, 10/20/12

  1. ktd says:

    “Tonic” is what people from Boston used to call soda, but I think it’s a bit out of date. My grandfather used to say “tonic”, but my parents call it “soda”. In any case, in Boston it’s definitely not “pop”.

    • Alan D says:

      There are still pockets in the Boston area that use tonic exclusively. The Globe did an article on it within the last year. Old Cantabrigians are one group who still do.

  2. Gareth says:

    The first few notes were sour: UNHIP/MYOPE/ANTRA but the best answers are just beautiful: WHOSHOTJR/GOJUMPINTHELAKE/PUTTINONTHERITZ/QUOVADIS. Another puzzle I finished rather quickly, only part that gave a bit of resistance was the top-right, until I guessed ANNAMARIA off MARIA. Glad I knew ENSENADA from Warren Zevon’s Carmelita, because otherwise NUOVA’s A was going to be hard…

  3. Evad says:

    Got stuck on RADIO CODE as well – had IOU for “Red letters?” but then went to ZIN instead of CIN with the crossers. And who is this SHERA princess?

  4. pauer says:

    Behold She-Ra: The Princess of Power

  5. sbmanion says:

    I confidently put in CCP for red letters, thinking of the Soviet Union. Jock that I am, I never figured out CIN until reading the blogs. SE was very tough for me. I thought Saturday was much harder than Friday. There were a bunch of answers I sort of knew, but not really. Is it annE/A mariE/A was one example. EnsenadA finally seemed logical, but I did not know the last letter of Nuov_ or Sher_ and as noted never caught on to CIN, so I had three blanks in ENSENADA.

    • Huda says:

      I appreciated many of the long answers in retrospect, but I struggled in various spots. At some point I figured that the Alfa Romeo had to do with spelling letters but still had trouble coming up with RADIO CODE.

      A small nit re cluing: Somehow, RSVP and BYOB don’t seem to go together– I realize they’re both abbreviations on invitations, but not too likely on the same one? I’m thinking if you’re BYOB-ing then it’s not likely to be very formal event and a head count is not all that critical. But what do I know… My BYOB days are long past.

    • pannonica says:

      But that would have been CCCP…

  6. sbmanion says:

    I think the first C stands for Union. Isn’t each individual satellite a CCP?


  7. Peter Piper says:

    I thought with the addition of Andy we would be over this damned TBA business but I guess
    that was too much to ask! I would do it myself but I’m too busy writing these scathing blogs.

    • Connie says:

      Whew! Peter Piper must be a big tipper in the donation jar, eh? Or, oh! he doesn’t realize that this is a *free* website.

    • Andy says:

      My apologies everyone! Next week’s review is going to be really, really good to make up for my no-show this week!

  8. Bob Bruesch says:

    In LAT: Sorry, editors, Amy Winehouse won BNP Grammy in 2008 – give the poor soul some credit, you goons! Curios at a flea market is a stretch, too. “Arod” is a sorry excuse for a baseball “star” clue- ask any Yankee fan!!!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Adele won Best New Artist in early 2009, in the Grammy Awards ceremony honoring records released in 2008. I agree the clue could have been worded more clearly.

  9. Pat B says:

    In Military radio Code, Alpha is “A”

    Alfa is the first part of the car name. How does Alfa Romeo Clue Radio Code?

  10. Dan Schmidt says:

    The classic rendition of “Puttin On The Ritz” is, of course, the one in Young Frankenstein.

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