Saturday, June 22, 2013

Newsday 7:47 (joon–paper) 
NYT 4:44 (Andy) 
LAT 4:45 (Andy) 
CS 5:26 

Bruce Sutphin and Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword — Andy’s review

NYT Puzzle 06.22.13 by Bruce Sutphin and Doug Peterson

Hi everybody! I’m on themeless duty this week, so you get me again for today’s NYT. This one’s got a lot of similarities to Michael Sharp’s puzzle yesterday, except it eschews the triple 10-stacks in the NE and SW in favor of two double 10-stacks, which allows it to avoid those pesky 3-letter entries. In addition, the NE and SW are connected by a lovely staircase of 5-letter entries. I’m running behind, so let’s hit the highlights:

In the NE, there are my two favorites:

  • 12d, HEAT VISION [One of Superman’s powers]. Naturally I threw down xrAyVISION confidently, and was confused when nothing else would fit in the NW. I’m pretty sure he can do both.
  • 13d, APPLETINIS [Cosmo alternatives]. I guess they’re both fruity and vodka-based. Fun appletini fact: in The Social Network, Sean Parker buys Mark Zuckerberg et al. a round of appletinis. In real life, Zuckerberg hadn’t had an appletini until the premiere of the film, after which he made it the official drink of Facebook (what privilege that bestows upon appletinis is beyond me).
  • Then there’s 26d, GOTHAM CITY [Penguin’s habitat]. Great entry, but this was a gimme for me. I’m in a Batman state of mind, having just rewatched the most recent film.
  • Speaking of re- + verbs, did anyone have a problem with 24a, REWOVE [Fixed a broken web link?] or 38a, REOIL [Keep the squeaking out of, say]? I thought the clues were really clever. Oh, and let’s not forget 16a, REPO.
  • Appropriately, the corner that bloodied me up a little was the SE. Could not for the life of me figure out 50a, GUILLOTINE [“A Tale of Two Cities” ender?]. I wanted it to be something more wordplay-y.
  • Never having been there, I was surprised to find that 54a, EAST ORANGE [Where the Garden State parkway meets I-280] sprang readily to mind. I think it was this recent law-related story about a snarky lawyer from West Orange that helped jog my memory.

Overall, just a really smooth solve, aided by a lot of RSTLNE in the center staircase. Nothing really sent my Scowl-o-Meter into a tizzy. Could have been an extremely fast solve but for a few errors: the HEAT VISION / X-ray vision mixup described above; mistook MOISES for Felipe Alou; wanted TEFLON to be TEapOt for some reason; &c. Not one of the rare puzzles I yearn to solve again, but really well constructed through and through. 3.75 stars from me.

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

LAT Puzzle 06.22.13 by Barry C. Silk

Hi y’all! You get a double dose of me today. Look who we’ve got in the byline for today’s LAT! Barry C. Silk brings us a beautiful Saturday puzzle: there are a ton of nice 10-letter entries, a couple of beautiful 8-letter corners, and a 15-letter entry spanning the grid longitudinally.

I give Peter Collins a hard time about baseball fill, but this puzzle seems to be structured around three long baseball-related entries:

  • 1a, BREW CREW [Miller Park team nickname]. That would be the Milwaukee Brewers. Not to be confused with the Brüe Crüe, which I just made up.
  • 23a, DEREK JETER [Record holder for most games played at shortstop for one team]. The Yankees, for anyone who’s been living in a cave for the past decade or two. In 2011, Jeter broke Cal Ripken Jr.’s record of 2,302 games at shortstop in his 21 seasons with the Orioles.
  • 32a, TWO-BASE HIT [Double]. I can see why people say “double”: “two-base hit” is kind of a mouthful.

Tons of other good stuff:

  • 12d, MARIE CURIE [First female professor at the University of Paris]. That’s what happens when you invent the Hot Pocket™.
  • 13d, ACID ROCKER [Singer covering “Purple Haze,” probably]. A ten-second YouTube search confirms this suspicion. I’d love to see a “Purple Haze” cover by Pomplamoose or The Bird and the Bee. Or, like, Bon Iver.

    The new face of “Purple Haze.”

  • 26d, SWING VOTER [Candidate’s concern]. But first, you’ve got to lock down your constituency! Candidacy 101, people!
  • 27d, HOLES-IN-ONE [Aces]. I did appreciate the proper pluralization, but I didn’t care for the repeat between [Aces] and 16a, AIR ACE. I remember reading a headline once: “Grandmother of eight makes hole in one.” Once you see it, you won’t be able to unsee it.
  • 55a, GRISELDA [Vivaldi opera based on “The Decameron”]. For a constructor, the quickest way to my heart is referencing classical music. I’ve heard of this opera, but I’ve never actually seen it performed or heard it. It’s not a very popular opera, as it turns out. But I love Vivaldi, so I’ll have to add it to my list.
  • 6d, RUTGERS [“Jersey Roots, Global Reach” university]. What, Princeton wasn’t so eager to trumpet its “Jersey Roots?”

What stuck with me after solving this one was just how many of the entries, even short ones, were made up of two or more words. Besides most of the aforementioned entries (for those playing along at home, eight of which were multiple-word entries), we’ve got the t-filled ATTEST TO, MEAGER DIET (Is that in the language? It feels a bit forced), VIOLET BLUE (with the confusing clue that when reversed, it’s still a Crayola color–took me a while to realize they weren’t talking about EULBTELOIV), AT ODDS, ARE NOT!, LEG RESTS, WHOLE WHEAT BAGEL, AT PAR, I BET, and PLED TO. Oh, and possibly OILMEN and ROSEBUSH?

I’m struggling to come up with entries I didn’t like. MEAGER DIET, as I said before, wasn’t my favorite. ESTER, Alison LURIE, the Via VENETO, and LUCI Baines Johnson might not be the commonest of knowledge, but they’re all fair game for crosswords in my opinion. I guess the losers in this grid are ESTE, A NET, and RGS? ILES? I’m not too upset by any of that.

4.1 stars from me. Until next week!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” — joon’s review

Newsday crossword solution, 6 22 13 “Saturday Stumper” by Anna Stiga

joon here with the review of the saturday stumper, by editor stan newman writing as one of his anagrammatic pseudonyms (“stan again”). as we often see in the stumper, this grid has lots of 7s, but nothing long (just a handful of 8s). that can be okay if the 7s are particularly lively. does this qualify? on balance, i’d have to say not. it wasn’t a bad puzzle, mind you, but not one i’m going to remember a month from now. i didn’t exactly race through it, but i did progress STEADILY {Piece by piece} without getting particularly stuck.

stuff i liked:

  • {Author named for Emerson} is ralph (waldo) ELLISON, author of invisible man. this was fun for me because i knew it with no crossings.
  • {“My name is Nobody” source} is the ODYSSEY, another gimme for me. it’s the tricky anonym (in the very literal sense) odysseus gives to polyphemus, so that when the giant eventually runs around screaming about being blinded and his brothers are all, “who did this to you?”, all he can say is “nobody did this” and everyone assumes he blinded himself. eh, maybe you had to be there. it’s the homeric version of “who’s on first?”.
  • {Hot stuff} JALAPENO. this may be the liveliest entry in the grid. it is the scrabbliest, i guess.
  • wait, no, {Snowboard cousin} MONOSKI is probably the most interesting. i hadn’t heard of it, but somehow it was inferable. i like learning stuff that way.
  • two world capitals in the grid, {Bolívar’s birthplace} of CARACAS, venezuela, and {“The City of Jasmine”} DAMASCUS. i probably knew at one point where bolívar was born, but i needed some crossings to get that answer today. by the time i saw the DAMASCUS clue i had enough already that it was quite clear.
  • {Jackson’s vice president} is john c CALHOUN. well, one of jackson’s vice presidents, anyway; his second VP was van buren. CALHOUN is actually the last person to serve as VP under two different presidents, as he was JQ adams’s VP before he was jackson’s.

i’m not going to list all the stuff i didn’t like, but there was plenty of boring stuff like NEATEST and ROOMIER and SETTEES, along with some fill i actively scowled at like roll-your-own TINSELLY (that’s your tied-for-longest entry? sad face) and random roman numeral MCV. i’ll single out the clue for 1-across, IMPACTS, for derision. to be sure, {Has an effect on} is definitely one of the meanings of IMPACTS in 2013, so the clue certainly isn’t wrong. but the only sense of IMPACT, as a verb, that i much appreciate is “to ram into”. this use of IMPACT as a synonym for “affect” has more than a whiff of marketing jargon to it.

2.8 stars. have a lovely weekend!

Updated Saturday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Just Teasing” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Good morning from the skeleton crew here at Crossword Fiend! While the boss is away, we’ve decided that instead of reviewing crosswords today, we’d discuss something we think you’d be much more interested in, namely the Stanley Cup Playoffs. No, just teasing, as constructor Doug Peterson was doing today with four theme phrases that end with a synonym of the verb “to tease”:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 0622/13

  • The [“Cage” bone that’s not attached to the sternum] is a FLOATING RIB – hopefully it’s attached to something or it might float to your pelvis or something.
  • [#1 hit from the Beatles album “Help!”] clues TICKET TO RIDE – “to ride” someone means to make fun of them, or get on their back if you’re a young child.
  • A [1984 Ralph Macchio film remade in 2010] is THE KARATE KID – “Wax on, wax off…”
  • [Seattle skyline landmark] clues the SPACE NEEDLE – “needling” someone is another way of teasing.

I thought this theme was terrible! No, just teasing! It felt really solid and I liked how all the synonyms ended their respective phrases. The longer THINK UP, NOT A BIT and the German heavy metal band SCORPIONS ([Band with the triple-platinum album “Love at First Sting”]) were also fun finds. My FAVE today was the [White Russian liquor] or VODKA. (I think we had a discussion on this blog about what distinguishes a White Russian from a Sombrero, but I may well have been just dreaming that up in a drunken haze.) I wonder if Doug was going for the start of a mini-theme with the entry AND clued as [“…___ a bottle of rum”]? My UNFAVE was [Would-___ (aspirants)] or BES. Are those who are capable called “could-bes”?

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12 Responses to Saturday, June 22, 2013

  1. Martin says:

    No mention of the great clue for SEÑORITA in the NYT today? So I’ll mention it!


  2. sbmanion says:

    It took me forever to see GOTHAM CITY. I was fixated on the Pittsburgh Penguins and was trying to think of the name of the arena.

    Tough puzzle for me. I put in ALORS instead of APRES and SHH for SHO, which did not help, but mostly, I just found that the answers eluded me rather than my guessing incorrectly. Excellent test.


  3. Gareth says:

    This was the better of the two NYT themelesses for me; not because it was absolutely chock-full of great answers, although there were more than enough: GOTHAMCITY, HEATVISION, APPLETINIS and their kind; but because of the care taken in the shorter fill: beautiful! Because of Doug’s byline I saw right through [Penguin’s habitat?]; with Doug, there’s always superheroes and baseball! I’ve got less of a read on Bruce Sutphin though! Barry Silk is also prone to baseball, as you highlighted but all the other great answers more than made up for it!

  4. Huda says:

    Lovely Saturday– the kind that gives me hope for myself. The solving felt smooth except for the NW, which was not coming to me last night. I slept on it and it emerged this morning. I had __DENCE and could not think of the rest. As soon as I tumbled to it, the rest followed. CREDENCE always evokes the band for me– when I was young and lived in LA, I never missed their concerts (I know it’s spelled Creedence… weird name altogether).

    I liked the toe-tapping description for IMPATIENCE. The definition of NOSY confused me– I double checked it after I got it because it seemed off. Busy? I thought a Busybody was nosy, but was not aware that a stand alone busy had that connotation…

    • ArtLvr says:

      I think “Busy” is slang for a policeman in the UK, but agree with Huda: I don’t like it as a synonym for Nosy.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    I didn’t know Griselda in the LAT, but Figaro and Flute were my keys to starting the Stumper. Also, with Marie Curie in the NYT, I wondered if Gareth knows that our Albany Law School has its first woman Dean — she’s Penelope Andrews from RSA, once a sufferer under apartheid. Quite a coup! The Stumper was my favorite today, the most challenging for me.

  6. pannonica says:

    Andy, East Orange may have rung a bell for you as the original home of WFMU, a legacy from when they were (nominally) part of the (now defunct) Upsala College.

    Also, “Two Bass Hit” (sometimes spelled “Two Base Hit”) is a jazz standard, written by Dizzy Gillespie.

  7. Brucenm says:

    5 ***** for the Stumper from me. Great olio of words and clues and — something that becomes increasingly dispositive for me — nothing that I consider junk entries. Andy, I enjoyed your reviews, and appreciated your comments about Vivaldi. I agree that Griselda is somewhat lesser Vivaldi, but it is a vocal tour de force — great if you like sopranos — and was recently revived by the Santa Fe opera, I believe.

  8. Brucenm says:

    Saturday Afternoon Rant Alert:

    I become perturbed about the ingroupiness and clubbiness of the X-wd world we inhabit. A recent clue by an ultra-talented puzzle person for whom I have the highest personal respect and admiration, read {Melville’s best-known novel, if you do nothing but solve crossword puzzles.} We all know the answer. And that’s my point. Puzzles in large measure are directed at the club. Suppose we saw a clue {City where 14 left-handed, red-headed men recently received a ticket for jaywalking at the same intersection on the same Thursday afternoon.} 4 letters — We all confidently enter Oslo. But that doesn’t show our superiority and knowledge, only our obsessiveness. (The same puzzle also had one of those uber-obnoxious crossings, “Kinks frontman” crossing “Dynamite actor”, whatever that means. But I digress.

    The same puzzle also used the alleged word “igry” I actually went so far as to look it up (something I rarely do.) It turns out that it was invented 4 months ago by another constructor for whom we also have great respect and admiration. But that doesn’t make it a word. Yes, language evolves by gradual accretion. Maybe in 20 years it will be a word, but probably not. To me this clue is just an obnoxious way of saying “See, I’m much cooler than you are; I’m part of the *real* inner circle, and you’re not.” And it seems to me that this is the mentality puzzles should be trying to *avoid* not strive for. I’ll stop.

    • pannonica says:

      That reminds me, I’ve been wanting to make a cut-up synthesis of Typee and Omoo, called—that’s right—Typo.

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