Saturday, November 9, 2013

Newsday 7:55 (Amy) 
NYT 4:53 (Amy) 
LAT 4:00 (Andy) 
CS 5:17 (Dave) 

Michael Ashley’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 9 13, no. 1109

Quickly, to get this post published before midnight comes and the blog turns into a pumpkin—

Easy for a Saturday, no?

Highlights in the fill include BUTT-DIALED, TIDAL BASIN, CASSIOPEIA, SMART PILLS (65a. [Nootropics, more familiarly]? New word for me—nootropic drugs enhance memory/cognitive function), SORE LOSER, BOBSLED RUN.

16a. [Popular pizza place, informally] clues UNO’S. What, the United Network for Organ Sharing isn’t broadly familiar? Talk about organ donation with your family, people. Let go of that spare kidney. Not using your heart? Consider donating it.

43a. [Lender, legally speaking], DEBTEE? Did not know “debtee” was a word. Spell-check doesn’t like it either.

The right side and the bottom of the grid are replete with ESSAY TESTS SSNS. I think there’s an ADDER (43a. [Lender, legally speaking]) on the loossssse here.

5d. [Vice president after whom a U.S. city is thought to have been named], DALLAS? I didn’t know that. I would have to study the VPs if I were ever going on Jeopardy!.

3.8 stars from me. Over and out.

Norm Guggenbiller’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 11.09.13 by Norm Guggenbiller

Sorry for the terse review this week. This puzzle did not leave an impression on me at all. It’s not a bad puzzle. There’s just nothing at all in it I remembered from solving it an hour ago.

A list of the good stuff: TOUCH A NERVE, SCULPTED ABS, ON THE MENU, SET ON EDGE (I’m guessing Amy won’t like the “on” repeat), LOVE SET, SMEAR TACTIC, “YES, PLEASE.”

Stuff I didn’t like as much: TUTTO (?), LOTTE, EMER, RIAS, TOTIE, GARDENA.

For the low word count, there’s not too much junk, and there weren’t any crazy crossings. I’ll go with 3.6 stars. Until next week!

Updated Saturday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Blankety Blanks” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Five theme entries in the form X-ety X (or roughly so):

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 11/09/13

  • [Talk, talk, talk] clued YACKETY YAKmy go-to video for this.
  • [Big kahuna] was a MUCKETY MUCK – I think I’ve heard “mucky muck” more frequently.
  • [Typewriter sounds] was CLICKETY CLACKmy go-to video for this. Shout out to BEQ!
  • [Like a horse-and-wagon ride] was BUMPETY BUMP
  • [Move like Peter Rabbit] was HIPPETY HOP

I find that words that simulate sounds can be spelled in multiple ways, so I found these entries a bit harder than it might appear, given the strict constraints. Also, having YACK/YAK, CLICK/CLACK and HIP/HOP made it impossible to assume the same word would be used twice in the theme entry. Anyway, an ambitious set and certainly fun to pronounce the entries as one solves. One of my FAVE entries in recent memory has to be [“Gimme a break!”] for “AW, C’MON!”. That’s just awe-inspiring. COLDCOCK for [Knock out] looks a lot worse than it probably is, so I’ll just move on from this one. Laurence TISCH of CBS News is somewhat obscure, but since he was a billionaire and famous philanthropist, I think he’s fair game. [Sack] for BED was also difficult, as I had RID at first.

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 11 9 13 “Saturday Stumper” by Brad Wilber

Low word count for a Stumper—64 words, big corner chunks of white space, four long entries spanning the center.


  • The three of the first five Acrosses are edible: TACO MEAT, M AND M’S, and MERINGUE. (Do not combine.)
  • 40a. [Mushroom house denizen] is a SMURF, not a spore.
  • 12d. DJAKARTA, though I prefer the no-D spelling. [Most populous city in Southeast Asia].
  • 37a. [Winds, to windmills], PRIME MOVERS.
  • 50a. [Snowflake adjective], STELLATE. Not a common word at all, but the stella- part means “star,” and we all know that snowflakes are little six-pointed stars so it’s somewhat inferrable.

Not in my wheelhouse:

  • 30a. ADAPTOMETER, [Instrument for detecting night blindness].
  • 19a. CRIES OFF, [Reneges]. “Cries off” sounds unfamiliar to me.
  • 8d. [HBO’s first miniseries (1984)], THE FAR PAVILIONS.
  • 10d. ALOE, [Plant aka the Wand of Heaven]. Nickname is new to me.
  • 42d. URANIA, [Woman on the US Naval Observatory’s seal].

Standard Stumper difficulty and smoothness—no pileup of clues that brought me to a screeching halt in solving, no junk fill, no overly oblique, “What the …? Who would ever get that?” clues. And! Despite the low word count, no awkward roll-your-own words. RETEST is a common word with the RE-, a card SHARPER is just that, OVERARCHing is not overreaching as a word, the plurals are not “What the…? You can’t pluralize that!” words. Four stars. 70-worders are generally more fun, if you ask me, but this is an excellent example of a 64-worder.

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15 Responses to Saturday, November 9, 2013

  1. Gareth says:

    “Easy for a Saturday, no?” I agree – definitely “No”! In general found it to be a very tough puzzle to get toeholds in! Only long gimme was ENIDBLYTON – huge oeuvre, but that was one of her biggies, unusual for a Saturday. The clues for STAPLER and BUTTDIALED were beautiful! News to me that VAST can be a noun!

    • Steven R. Stahl says:

      News to me that VAST can be a noun!

      Technically, yes, but that meaning is archaic, and making a plural out of an archaic word is a cheat. I suppose that if VASTS could have been replaced, it would have been.


  2. Evad says:

    Funny one man’s gimme was another’s Waterloo–that Y between BLYTON and OLY was my last letter. Is OLY short for Olympic? And are EGIS and AEGIS different things?

    • Dan F says:

      OLY was a gimme because I used it (reluctantly) in a grid…
      No, they’re the same. AEGIS is the standard English word, but EGIS shows up too, often as a (Var.) or clued all Greek-y like today. Fortunately, unlike other ambiguous crosswordese, they’re different lengths!

    • Jeff Chen says:

      OLY! Olympia Brewing Company, “It’s the Water”? Second in cheap goodness only to Natty Lite?

      Perhaps I’ve said too much.

  3. Brucenm says:

    Buttdialed ?????????

      • Brucenm says:

        Actually, I know the principle — I’ve received some of those calls. Never heard the term, but — I like it. I gave up the phone in the picture a couple years ago, but I have a flip cell phone, precisely to avoid that butt thing. It’s true that I want a phone just to make phone calls — not one that’s capable of planting pineapple trees and cooking my dinner. The next time I see the word ‘app’, I’ll probably start screaming.

        Incidentally, I intended to give the Stumper 4* but through an equipment malfunction it came through as 3.

  4. sbmanion says:

    My friends and I have always called it a POCKET CALL. I like BUTT DIALED better, even though I would like to know who puts their phone in their back pocket.

    I thought this was tough. The Y in OLY was just a guess. It was a fair challenge. My only objection was that four seems high for IN or ON answers, especially when one of them IN BAD SORTS is unidiomatic.

    As young lawyers, we used to make up words like DEBTEE, usually using utterly inappropriate profane roots.


  5. Greg says:

    Enjoyed it, particularly “butt-dialed” and “ens”(50% nonunion?). “Tidal basin” brought back memories of Wilbur Mills and Fanne Fox. (Washington scandals were so much more fun back then.)

    Small quibble: I’ve been a creditors’ rights and banruptcy lawyer for over 35 years, and I never once heard the term “debtee.”

    • Brucenm says:

      Nor have I, in my many years as a civil litigator and a law professor. It does not appear in Black’s Law Dictionary, which skips directly from “debt limitation” to debtor.

  6. Bob Bruesch says:

    LAT: Don’t agree with COZY for “conspiratorial” or teeth “ON EDGE”. I agree, very dull puzzler.

  7. Art Shapiro says:

    Easy Saturday??? – the NE killed me. Couldn’t get around JAW for the canine clue, and thus had WAGS for “greets enthusiastically”. Had to throw in the towel at that point.

    Art , in a pet

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