Saturday, August 31, 2013

Newsday 7:49 
NYT 4:33 
LAT 5:13 (Andy) 
CS 4:57 (Dave) 

Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 31 13, no 0831

This is the kind of themeless I like best, with lots of longish (9-11 letters) answers, colloquial language, and pop culture. If it’s running as a Saturday puzzle, though, I do hope for more challenging clues. This one played like a Friday for me.

Five Six faves in the fill:

  • 1a. [TV host who won a Best Comedy Album Grammy], JIMMY FALLON. He does a lovely job combining music and comedy, so he’s right at home at the Grammys.
  • 15a. [Cry used to pump up a crowd], ARE YOU READY … to rumble?
  • 67a. [Fall fallout, some believe], ORIGINAL SIN. I like Original Sin hard cider. The pear cider is hard to come by.
  • 69a. [Scorsese film before “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”], MEAN STREETS. The sort of letters that make it easier to fill a grid if you put this answer at the bottom, but it’s zippy so we forgive it its swath of common letters.
  • 14d. [Nada], JACK SQUAT. This might have been popularized by the movie Tommy Boy.
  • 34d. [Picture with a lot of gunplay], SHOOT-‘EM-UP.

Clue in dispute: 24d. [Dangerous thing to sell], SOUL. Really? Dangerous? I wager that I could sell mine and suffer no ill consequences.

Favorite clue: 28a. [Prizes given to good docs?], OSCARS. Docs = documentaries.

Literary trivia I didn’t know: 37a. [Beast hunted by Hemingway in “Green Hills of Africa”], KUDU.

4.25 stars from me. How’d it treat you?

Updated Saturday morning:

Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 08.31.13 by Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber

It’s always nice to see Doug and Brad’s names in the byline, and today was no exception. My favorites were the four long entries:

  • 30a, YOU’RE ONE TO TALK! [“That’s the pot calling the kettle black!”]. The latter saying doesn’t make much sense to a generation who grew up with stainless steel cookware.
  • 35a, WEMBLEY STADIUM [London arena that Pelé dubbed “the cathedral of football”]. By way of comparison, it seats about as many people as the Rose Bowl.
  • 14d, MONOPOLY MONEY [Currency printed on only one side]. You’d think there’d be more security features.
  • 15d, MISSPENT YOUTH [Rued years]. It just occurred to me that this is only a few letters away from being MISS PENTHOUSE.

Other than that, the grid looks a lot like a Saturday Stumper — lots of sixes and sevens. So, without further ado, “the best of the rest”:

  • 55a, TREVINO [First golfer to win the U.S., British and Canadian Opens in the same year]. If you know nothing else about me, know this: I love golf trivia.
  • 58a, HAT HAIR [Side effect of a bike helmet]. HEAD SAFETY didn’t fit.
  • 3d, ROBUSTO [Humidor item]. It has the added bonus of crossing UMBERTO. Isn’t Robusto a brand of pasta sauce?
  • 12d, REDBOOK [Magazine in which “The Thin Man” first appeared]. Redbook sure has come a long way since the 1930s.
  • 40d, MELANIE [One-named singer/songwriter of the 1970 Woodstock-inspired hit “Lay Down”]. I’ve heard the song before, but had no idea who Melanie was/is.

I had two problem areas: 1) For a while, I had TONGUED for 50a, LINGUAL [Like many consonants], which made breaking into both the SW and SE very challenging; 2) Just the entire NE. RHO was the only gimme in the region, and there were a lot of tough answers and clues up there (BATFISH, CACAO [Creme de ___], BRNO, ORB [Mars, for one], MACHETE [Tool for hackers], MENORCA [Mediterranean island, to locals], OCTO [Pi preceder?]). 57a, TREACLY [Overly sentimental] isn’t in my day-to-day usage, but it strikes me something Brits might say fairly often.

This one took REEL NERF to finish, but I liked it: 3.75 stars from me. Until next week!

Updated Saturday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Pick Out of a Hat” – Dave Sullivan’s review

When I saw the title of today’s CrosSynergy puzzle, I was thinking that types of hats would be imbedded in phrases, maybe a grid-widening 16 of CALL INTO QUESTION? But instead, we have 3 15-letter phrases where the final word is a part of a hat:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 08/31/13

  • [Practically flowing over] was FILLED TO THE BRIM – Madison Avenue has me thinking of Folger’s Coffee when I hear this.
  • [“Let there be music!”] clues STRIKE UP THE BAND – few hats have bands these days, I’m thinking. Remember the ones where someone would put a fishing lure or was that just my father did to keep sharp objects out of his pocket?
  • [Decoration for outstanding service in certain realms] was ORDER OF THE CROWN – my least fave of the three as this phrase is not as familiar (or as catchy) as the other two.

Let me top this one off by saying I thought the theme pretty simple, but nicely executed with three grid-spanning entries. This was also probably my fastest CS solve in a while, clocking just 3 seconds under 5 minutes. (I know, still rather slow by this blog’s standards, but quick for me!) I enjoyed the symmetry of [Luau entertainer’s garment] for HULA SKIRT and [Hawaiian’s phrase that can mean “Take it easy”] for HANG LOOSE. (I think you’re supposed to spin your hand back and forth while holding up your pinky and thumb when saying that.) My UNFAVE goes to the O-less AMEBA, which always looks incomplete to me.

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

Newsday crossword solution, 8 31 13 “Saturday Stumper” by Anna Stiga

Really a nice Stumper this week. Reasonably zippy fill, challenging but not enragingly obfuscatory clues, perfect difficulty level for a Saturday themeless.

My entry into the grid came with the gimme 20a. [Language that gave us ”boondocks”], TAGALOG. It helps to have Filipino family members sensitizing you to Tagalog/English trivia like this. And then the rest of the puzzle required plenty of back-and-forth between the grid and clues, plenty of working the crossings to piece things together, but no particularly resistant zones in the grid.

Seven favorite clues:

  • 9a. [Brewers once worked there], A.L. EAST. I thought it would be something like ALE BAR or ALE TAP, but it’s baseball. The Brewers have been in the N.L. Central since 1998.
  • 23a. [Purveyor of tees, wedges and bags], DKNY. Tee-shirts, wedge-heel shoes, and handbags. The clue totally read as golf paraphernalia. This one’s my favorite clue today. Potential hall-of-fame clue?
  • 33a. [Say when], SET A DATE.
  • 51a. [”1001 Arabian Nights” characters], ZEROS. The zeroes in “1001.” I almost went with HEROS, although that would be spelled HEROES.
  • 2d. [Name on six Vare Trophies], ANNIKA. Didn’t know the trophy, figured it was hockey or something. And then the crossings made the ending IKA, and I pieced together the LPGA’s Annika Sorenstam.
  • 35d. [Parting-word facilitator], SPACE BAR. To part a pair of typed words, not words that part a pair of people.
  • 56d. [Web sites, at times], TOES. Webbed toes!

There’s plenty of lively fill, too. Such as 24d. [”A Toy Is Born” subject], YAHTZEE. Great entry! Makes me remember the recent MGWCC meta puzzle I didn’t crack. I also liked WATCHDOG (and I liked the EAT clue, [What may be found between two dogs], but didn’t need more dogs in the puzzle), TIRAMISU, and AZIMUTHS. In addition to ANNIKA Sorenstam, we’ve got Lady GODIVA and Amelia EARHART—three women to one man, Anwar SADAT. (Shakespeare’s ARIEL is variously taken to be male or female.) In general, I do think we see more male names in crosswords than female, so it’s a nice change.

Mystery clue: 22a. [Part of Georgia Tech regalia], TAM. Wha…? Apparently the doctoral headwear is a “black hexagonal tam.” You are excused if you didn’t know that.

4.5 stars. Smooth fill, uniform difficulty throughout the grid, interesting clues.

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25 Responses to Saturday, August 31, 2013

  1. Howard B says:

    Pretty much fun all around. TV trivia to start is a weak spot for me, but that’s just good stuff.
    I had a goofy typo as usual (MEAN STRETTS!) that cost me a full minute on the app to find and squash, but that’s nothing to do with the grid.

  2. janie says:

    played like a friday for me, too, but wow — *such* beautiful fill throughout. especially those corners. no [Weak spots] at all. bravo!

    also want to recommend patrick berry’s “belt line” — a “variety” puzzle — at the wsj site. one of those impossibly tight constructions — with a great payoff — that makes me ask “how’d he do that?”

    happy loooong weekend!


  3. Martin says:

    Solid puzzle. Clever clues :)


  4. Gareth says:

    NYT: The top-right stack was especially impressive! Seemingly effortless use of J, Q and 3 K’s!

    LAT: High-points were very high indeed: WEMBLEYSTADIUM, YOUREONETOTALK, MONOPOLYMONEY, HATHAIR. Andy: Animal Crackers? Brand New Key? My Rainbow Race? Any of those songs ringing bells?

  5. Matt says:

    More popcult than I like, but a good puzzle. Figured that 12D couldn’t be JACKSHIT and got somewhat stuck there, but recovered eventually.

  6. Brucenm says:

    “How did it treat me?” (What’ s that silly question they always ask you at the top of the Facebook page on the occasion of one of my bi-monthly slogs there? “What’s on your mind”, or something like that?)

    Answer: total disconnect. One of the most difficult, (an overnighter), and ultimately least enjoyable Sat. NYT’s in recent memory. Never did understand “Oscars”, so I appreciate the explanation. Didn’t think I would ever get the NE, or even the SW, notwithstanding having a lot of letters. Oh Well. That’s why there’s vanilla and chocolate.

  7. Brucenm says:

    Smooth, superb LAT; a ton of original and varied entries. 5*.

  8. animalheart says:

    Excellent Saturday NYT, and right in the sweet spot of day-appropriate difficulty for me. I agree that this is the most enjoyable type of puzzle–no cheap fill to allow 15-letter stacks and lots of cunning misdirection in the cluing. And who knew that alcohol came from Arabic?

  9. animalheart says:

    P.S. Hey, Bruce, remind me to tell you someday about the role you played in one of my dreams earlier this week…

    • Brucenm says:

      Hey Gary, tell me about the role I played in one of your dreams earlier this week. :-)

      Funny — we were on the same wavelength with that recent puzzle with the backwards and upwards entries. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as the consensus; but today’s really didn’t do anything for me.

      • animalheart says:

        Well, Elizabeth and I had bought a house from you in the Hudson Valley, and when we moved in, we were amazed that you had left all of your expensive furniture and decorations. I wondered: Did Bruce actually intend all of this stuff to convey? But we were too tired to try to figure it out, so we went to bed. In the middle of the night, you came in the front door–with three of my friends from high school, who were drunk–and at that moment it hit me that I had merely sent you a deposit check; we hadn’t actually had the closing on the sale yet. You were gracious, but obviously annoyed…

        Okay, Freudians, have a field day!

  10. sbmanion says:

    I found the NW to be the hardest as it took me a while to get Jimmy Fallon. I started with SHAQ, which led to PARACHUTE. I was pretty sure that it ended with SQUAT, but I have only heard of DIDDILY (sp?) SQUAT, so it took a while to insert JACK. The South fell very quickly for me as I immediately knew MAGINOT LINE, TOGA PARTY and ITALICIZE.

    Excellent puzzle.


  11. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks to pannonica for the Frayn book mentioned yesterday… You should be able to track down the other art-history mysteries by John Malcolm except one, which was available only to Brit book club members! After searching for a copy for twenty years I was able to get in touch with the author and he sent me his last extra copy of The Burning Ground, plus a long email detailing the genesis of his last book, The Chippendale Factor! What a thrill that was! Maybe matched only by my cousin Mary Ann MacFarlane’s delight at her inclusion as a character in one of her friend Sara Paretsky’s mysteries…

  12. cyberdiva says:

    It looks as if I’m the only one puzzled by this, and so I’m a little embarrassed to ask, but I’d be most grateful if someone would explain how, in the NYTimes puzzle, YOS is “His, modern-style?” I recall a number of attempts to create a unisex possessive word, but I’ve never seen YOS and am not sure that that’s what it is.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Gareth says:

      “Hi” is a greeting. “Yo” is a greeting. Especially in crosswords, these can be seen with an “-s” on the end of them to form plurals.

    • animalheart says:

      I think His is supposed to be the plural of Hi, and YOS the plural of Yo.

  13. cyberdiva says:

    Thanks very much, Gareth and animalheart, for your very prompt and helpful replies. Duh… I wish this forum had an icon for beating oneself on the head. :-)

  14. Bob Bruesch says:

    LAT just plain B-O-O-O-O-O-RING. Going through a labyrinth of linguistic levels of meaning to discover the answer is just not my cup of tea.

  15. John Haber says:

    I liked this one quite a bit. The long entries were interesting and fit together well. The puzzle as a whole seemed not to have a foothold, but then it took no more time than a typical Saturday, so it was steady. I had a real problem only with the NE, since I didn’t recognize the clue for SHAQ, I wanted a common noun for KUDO (imagined some weird Twitter-like shorthand like “kugr” for “cougar”), and hadn’t heard of JACK SQUAT as opposed to “diddly squat.” It had me wondering whether “Jack Sprat” doesn’t have a meaning new to me.

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