Saturday, 12/1/12

Newsday 7:48 
NYT 4:25 
LAT 3:14 (Andy) 
CS 4:08 (Sam) 

Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 12 1 12, 1201

It is late! And I am sleepy. Random comments:

1a. Boy, I didn’t know that PIPE DREAMs are [What many a character in “The Iceman Cometh” expresses]. Just how many pipe-dreaming characters are there, anyway?

10a. [Part of a Spanish forest], ARBOL. Not among the most common Spanish words in American crosswords, that’s for sure.

17a. So, this CURSE WORD replaced by a dash business—is the custom to include letters at the beginning or end (as in f—), or is there an established practice of just using — and — to replace swear words? Because I like em dashes, and —, they’re not obscene.

30a. I want [Italian almond cookies] right now. Or Chinese almond cookies. Or regular American ones.

36a. SOMETHING FIERCE was the name of my second-favorite Carleton band. (#1 was Fish, for which my husband played guitar.)

39a. [Poses a bomb threat?] as a sly clue for the football term GOES DEEP? Eh … meh. Plus, GOES crosses GONE. Tch.

43a. You know what texter tells me “bye now” with TTYL the most? Ms. Deb Amlen. She is, of course, fully able to use complete words, and does so with abandon at Wordplay.

5d. Whoa, nerd alert. D-TEN (or, presumably, D10), is a [Decahedron-shaped die, to a gamer]. I know this term only from Battleship. And bingo. Or dingo.

31d. MONOTREME is a word I associate most strongly with the They Might Be Giants song, “Mammal.”

32d. Didn’t know that [Belladonna lily] was another name for the AMARYLLIS, or that amaryllis went by any other name. I like the AMARYLLIS/AMARETTI crossing. A nod to Amar’e Stoudemire?

52d/52a. Wonder how many people would go with VALE rather than DALE for the [Lowland], as they’re roughly synonymous. If you don’t know that the vacuum-filled, double-walled DEWAR is an object named after someone, and not just the eponym of a whiskey brand, you could be excused for considering VEWAR.

Four stars. I like the plain-language expressions here—LOST A STEP, WRIT LARGE, WITH EASE, AS IF TO SAY. Lots of words with Old/Middle English roots there.

Updated Saturday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “In Jeopardy!”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, December 1

63-Across reveals that ALEX is the [Trebek who’s in “Jeoprady!” and in 17-, 27-, 42-, and 52-Across]. That’s because you’ll see the A-L-E-X letter sequence inside each of these answers:

  • 17-Across: The [Crime scene investigator, at times] is a MEDICAL EXAMINER.
  • 27-Across: One thing you can say for sure about an OPTIONAL EXTRA: [It’s not standard equipment].
  • 42-Across: The [Drill for a fleet] is a NAVAL EXERCISE.
  • 52-Across: GENERAL EXPENSES are [Day-to-day operating costs].

The theme already requires five Xs in the grid, but Martin sneaks in two more, along with a couple of Js and a couple of Zs.  Those who appreciate Scrabbly grids will surely appreciate this one. And you have to like TEX-MEX–it’s the law. Other goodies include AT WILL, I LOSE, TAXIS, and APNEA.

I wasn’t sure I had heard of SAL [soda (sodium carbonate)] before, so I went digging in the dictionary and online. One website waxes poetic about the product thusly: Before the days of Shout! stain removers and Oxi-Clean, there was Arm & Hammer Sal Soda, or sodium carbonate.  Added to a load of laundry, sodium carbonate acts as a water softener, making detergents more effective, and it helps remove grease, alcohol, and oil stains.  These days, Arm & Hammer markets it as “Washing Soda” and you can find it for sale alongside the detergents and such at the supermarket.  Back in the late 1940’s and early ’50’s, they called it “Sal Soda.” (cue NBC’s “The More You Know” jingle here).

Favorite entry = JAILBIRD, the [Pen resident]. Favorite clue = [They may get bruised] for EGOS.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LA Times crossword solution, 12 1 12

Quick review today.

I love a good Barry C. Silk puzzle (to clarify, this was one of those). Nice long 14s down (KALAMAZOO RIVER, TARGET PRACTICE). TAX LAW was a gimme in the NW, and I sped through the rest of the puzzle. Other highlights: PARALLAX, BODY CHECK, CAMEMBERT, CHINATOWN.

Lowlights were MAH, AARE, NCOS, and the UPS/UPC near repeat.

Excellent puzzle. 4.5 stars from me!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really by Stan Newman)

Newsday crossword solution, 12 1 12 “Saturday Stumper”

You want to know why the northwest corner of this puzzle took me a long time? Because I had COOLIO in place and decided a likely answer for 3d: [Former Columbia Pictures owner] was … COLUMBIA. Didn’t quite comprehend the clue! The real answer, COCA COLA, works so much better with the crossings, I must say. I knew 32a wouldn’t have an IIA letter string in its middle. ([Warrior of 1 Samuel] is GOLIATH.)

My favorite clue is 51a: [Name meaning ”beloved”], AMY. The same clue and a 5-letter space could be DAVID. Much nicer than, say, “resolute protector” or “sea of bitterness.”

A couple other favorites:

  • 25a. [Major medieval nutrition source], ALE. Heard something on public radio the other day about archeologists finding a kiln and determining it was for beer, and then recreating the beer from whatever ancient culture it was. The resulting beer was to be eaten with a spoon, not drunk. May I just say that spoonfuls of beer gruel sound unappetizing?
  • 1d. They’re tracked by Canada’s Radarsats], ICEBERGS. Who knew?

Less fond of 10d: [Southern pie filling], YAM. You mean sweet potato pie? I’ve never heard it called yam pie. And an ANSWERER is a 65a: [Person coming back]? Don’t like the clue or the answer for this one.


I have only ever encountered TIN HAT in crosswords. It’s clued here as 12d: [Soldier’s wear]. Here, go read about it. Devised during WWI, used through WWII, a chiefly British term, actually made of steel and not tin, and perhaps still used by Israel’s Civil Guard.

3.5 stars.


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27 Responses to Saturday, 12/1/12

  1. john farmer says:

    Never noticed the GONE/GOES… cross. About the only half-decent sub might be GORE/RET. Anyway, I really liked GOES DEEP, and I’m not sure about the “meh” comment. Because it’s sports? An iffy abbr. gets a “meh,” I sort of understand, but GOES DEEP seems solid by any measure. Great clue too.

    I’ve learned from my 7-y.0. son that the duck-billed platypus and echidna are egg-laying mammals. No help for me today. I still needed every letter for MONOTREME.

    Anyway, lots of good stuff in the grid, including SAM MENDES, now in theaters with the new Bond flick.

    (Btw, your star ratings seem to be carried over from another day.)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I like the answer GOES DEEP, dislike the clue.

      Should’ve read the comments earlier! It’s that 1/21-meets 12/1 problem again. I noticed it when posting the 12/2 writeup, so the star links are disabled there until Dave can fix it. I forget what he did the last time this vexed us.

      • john farmer says:

        Suggestion: include 0’s. Rather than duping 12112, use 012112 and 120112. But maybe there’s more to it than that.

        (I like using yyyy-mm-dd formatting myself.)

        • Evad says:

          That’s exactly the problem JF. In this case, 1/21/12 and 12/1/12 were both Saturdays, so we’ll have this problem until the 9th. WordPress creates links using post titles, but removes special characters so we’re left with “saturday-12112” which applies to both 1/21/12 and 12/1/12. Amy will come up with something new for next year….stay tuned!

  2. sbmanion says:

    GOES DEEP is solidly idiomatic in either football or baseball, I thought it was great. You could alternatively say GOES LONG in football and in the two ways it is used in baseball (hitting a home run and pitching past the 6th inning for the starter), I usually hear it in the past tense: WENT DEEP.

    Tough puzzle for me. I went wrong with PONY instead of PAPA and it took a long time to unravel that one.

    I play “animal hangman” with my young children all the time and both echidna and platypus have been used. I was excited to learn of a new egg laying mammal and was a little unhappy to see a general term instead of a new animal, but I did appreciate learning the term.

    Excellent puzzle and definitely a Saturday for me.



  3. Gareth says:

    I lost a few minutes where ONESPLACE/LOSTASTEP crossed ARBOL/GST. Other than that it played like a Friday. It’s funny how my favourite answers were one-word: MONOTREME and BANGALORE! Also liked D-TEN as an answer as clued and of course the marquee answer! SAMMENDES was made for the bottom row! @Steve: I went with PERU. That’s the older version of the alphabet?

  4. sps says:

    The Iceman Cometh made me think of Miss Bickley, my severe senior year English teacher. We read Iceman, Desire Under the Elms and Long Day’s Journey that year, and I can still hear her talking about pipe dreams in Iceman…So, that was actually my first answer in what I thought was a classic Joon puzzle.

  5. animalheart says:

    I found this a really quick Saturday NYT. MONOTREME was a new word for me (and right next to AMARYLLIS–brilliant!); it reminds me of those old boats (bireme, trireme–there must be a monoreme, too, no?). Excellent work, Joon!

  6. Mel Park says:

    Monotremes are an order in taxonomy and not the name of a particular animal.

    Is this really a Joon puzzle? I tried and tried but Across Lite would not let me enter the fills in lower case letters!

  7. Matthew G. says:

    I want to give Joon a big hug for 5-Down. Although maybe it’s Will I ought to hug.

    • joon says:

      heh, thanks. i wrote that clue, so i think i can claim the hug. sure, it’s always written d10 and not DTEN, but i thought that was a nicer and more specific clue than something like {Battleship guess}.

      • Alex says:

        How does a D-10 work? It can’t be a regular polyhedron.

        • joon says:

          indeed, it’s not one of the platonic solids. here’s a useful picture from google image search. it’s almost back-to-back pentagonal pyramids, but each of the faces is actually a quadrilateral, not a triangle, so that the “equator” is jagged.

      • Matthew G. says:

        Oh, I had no doubt you wrote the clue. I was impressed Will was hip enough to let it run.

  8. joon says:

    thanks for the kind words, everyone. but it’s time for an embarrassing (and prolix) confession.

    as some of you know, i’m a test-solver for BEQ’s blog puzzles. in this capacity, i solve the puzzle, catch cluing problems, and recommend changes. a couple weeks ago, brendan sent me the puzzle that ended up being the themeless from last monday. one of the entries in it was ONESPLACE. now, like many constructors, i keep a file of clues i want to use someday. well, kicking around in that file for a couple of years has been the clue {It’s beside the point} for ONESPLACE. but any given 9-letter answer doesn’t exactly work its way into a grid by accident, and this one didn’t look like getting used any time soon. so i suggested it to brendan and said he could run the clue in his puzzle.

    at around the same time, i got the heads-up email from will that i’d have today’s NYT. i can’t remember when i constructed this thing, but anyway, monday afternoon (after brendan had posted the blog puzzle, and also graciously given me credit for that clue), i looked up which saturday was going to run, and was chagrined to find that it in fact included ONESPLACE, with this very clue. apparently i’d totally forgotten to mark it as used in my clever clue file, resulting in me inadvertently plagiarizing myself. oops! i’m well on my way to jonah lehrer-style infamy. next i’ll be fabricating quotes from oscar wilde and steven wright to use in my clues.

    steve, i’m really gratified that you liked the PIPE DREAM clue. iceman is one of my favorite plays, and that’s probably the most literary clue i’ve ever devised—not just an author or title, a character name or even a quote, but a real theme.

  9. ArtLvr says:

    Very enjoyable, hearing from joon at length! Also smiled to see the MONOTREME today, and the KALAMAZOO RIVER in the LAT. For your fun file, there’s a city in Michigan that rhymes with Milwaukee — ZILWAUKEE! I don’t know which came first…

  10. Peter Piper says:

    @artlvr obviously milwaukee came first if you check the dictionary.

  11. Bruce N. Morton says:

    loved the clue for ‘piano’. also “writlarge”

  12. Molly Lootens says:

    Have you given up on the WSJ Saturday puzzles?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      For the three puzzles a month I was blogging (all but the acrostic), I was getting maybe one or two comments a month. Given that the Hex cryptics (which I love!) and the Berry Rows Gardens (ditto!) take me significantly longer than the typical crossword, blogging the variety puzzles was impinging on my weekend family time. I printed out the Hex puzzle yesterday and it’s still sitting in the printer tray—I will love it no less for solving it days later.

      The Wall Street Journal site does have free access to the puzzle blog where people discuss these puzzles, so there is still an outlet for commenting. There are 78 comments on yesterday’s cryptic!

      • klew archer says:

        As somebody who does both of puzzles and has commented on the cryptic now and then, I agree with your decision, Amy. This way we can read your blog if we haven’t already done those puzzles and give them the extra time they need, especially the Rows Garden. With the Aries version of the Rows Garden at least you can switch to the easy version when you run out of steam.

  13. klew archer says:

    Looks like we had ALOTONONESPLACE last week. NYT was pretty challenging so had nothing left for the Stumper which I just sat down and finished. Now onto the unblogged WSJ Hex Cryptic

  14. Zulema says:

    Just want to say it was an excellent puzzle, Joon, and it deserved all the effort I put into it. To disagree on something, I have hated “The Iceman Cometh” since I read it. I’d say most English majors do, as I remember. It’s one of the worst plays O’Neill wrote. But your clue and entry were very good nonetheless. I loved them.

  15. Mike Charley says:

    Hints for WSJ:
    a) block = clog
    b) bad = lousy
    c) mush = goo
    d) drops = tears
    e) provide = if
    f) spring = spa
    g) zest = tang
    h) after-hours = late
    i) deal = cell
    j) zany = antic
    k) talk = gab
    l) island = elba
    m) figure at home = ump
    n) sounds like cozen
    o) anagram
    p) news = intel
    q) anagram
    r) arrest = nab

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