Saturday, March 8, 2014

Newsday 12:39 with 1 Google (Amy) 
NYT 11:50 (Matt) 
LAT 5:03 (Andy) 
CS 6:15 (Dave) 

Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (joint pen name, Lars G. Doubleday)

Newsday crossword solution, 3 8 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 3 8 14 “Saturday Stumper”

I made it through most of this puzzle in a standard Stumper amount of time, but was so stumped in the southwest quadrant that I finally gave up and Googled 44d. [Two of the 12 moonwalkers] to find the ALANS. I had GENIES and DDT in place, and with ALANS I gained enough of a foothold to finish the corner. What stumped me:

  • 26d. [Essentially none], THIMBLEFUL. Started with THE MINIMUM.
  • 27d. [Reinforcements], RELIEF ARMY. I don’t recognize the term.
  • 41a. [City northeast of Milan], BERGAMO. I know of bergamot but didn’t know it was named after a place called Bergamo.
  • 44a. [First TV series in Dolby Surround sound (1986)], ALF. What a waste of technology! I guessed SNL.
  • 47a. [Master], LEARN. Could be a noun as well as a verb.
  • 54a. [Frozen, maybe], AFRAID. Tried STOLID, FRIGID, TURGID.
  • 58a. [Highly unlikely to flinch], NUMBED. Was thinking of synonyms for “courageous.”
  • 60a. [Least square], SLYEST. I have never encountered sly and square as antonyms.
  • 48d. [Vietnam War trilogy playwright], RABE. I had no idea.

Highlights that did not stump me included PIXY STIX, IRON MIKE, an OPEN SHOP without unionization, CALYPSO, WILLAMETTE RIVER, NO LONGER, EXPLICIT CONTENT (though I had no idea that was a [Record label since the ’90s]), and TELENOVELA. Lots of zippy fill today.

31a. [Fox’s onetime ”Survivor” competitor] clues THE O.C., which is a show that aired on Thursday nights opposite CBS’s Survivor rather than a rival reality competition show. Tricky clue!

Four stars from me.

David Steinberg’s NYT freestyle — Matt’s review


At 72 words (max for a freestyle) and considering its conservative black square placement, this grid is about as not-wide-open as a themeless can get. So it’s got to have serious pep.

There’s definitely some pep. With its J, X and Z the Northwest can be called Scrabbly. JAILBREAK and CANDY SHOP are nice, but APOLLO XII is a random space mission (no Tom Hanks movie about it). LLDS, plural AIOLIS and KIP clued as the currency of Laos (was I really supposed to know that?) are suboptimal, so let’s move on to the rest of the grid since the jury’s still out.

NE corner: nice weird-letter-combination sequences with MS-DOS, COKE ZERO, AOLERS and DAKAR. Strong corner, pendulum swinging in a positive direction.

SE corner: SEXY SADIE is excellent, ARAGONESE is serviceable, GOOGLEBOT is unfamiliar to me but sounds like a thing. Is BIG HOAX a thing? Not sold on it. Googles unconvincingly, so we’ll ding it as roll-your-own. GOING BY is a nice phrase, though. So-so corner. Moving on to the last section…

The SW: JUST DO IT, MONARCHY, MOJITO, OPULENT all strong. Didn’t know that CONDOR was a [Hole in one on a par 5] but considering birdie, eagle and albatross it makes sense. Considering how rare the albatross is, has a condor ever even happened? I doubt it! But Wikipedia says yes: “A condor has been recorded only four times, only once on a straight drive (a record 517 yards or 473 metres) rather than cutting a dogleg, and never during a professional tournament.” I’d like to see some videotape of a condor. Doesn’t appear to exist. But interesting clue.

So overall: pretty good fill, not as Walden/Quarfoot/Knapp mind-blowing as you want it to be for such a conservative themeless grid, but solid and a fun solve.


***I plunked VODKA in for [Spirit of St. Petersburg?] at 16-A, but it was STOLI(chnaya). That works, too.

***Good fill: high-end vocab BILIOUS, Dickens nom de plume BOZ, Judd APATOW, JACOBS, SEA BED.

***Top three clues: [Beech house?] for NEST, [Cooler idea?] for JAILBREAK, and [Popular line of footwear?] for JUST DO IT. Mystery clue: [One stocking bars] for CANDY SHOP. Candy shop isn’t a person so the “one” sounds odd.

3.85 stars. Some good ZIP (25-A) in there.

Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 3.8.14 by Brad Wilber

LAT Puzzle 3.8.14 by Brad Wilber

Hurrah, it’s ACPT Day! Hopefully, I’m seeing many of you in Brooklyn right now! And this is a very nice ACPT warmup puzzle, indeed (at least, for those solving on the big board — the only themeless puzzle will probably be Puzzle 8).

Brad Wilber has given us four triple-stacks pinwheeled around the grid. We normally see TARPAULIN and ONE OLD CAT in their shortened forms, and it was interesting to see them as 9-letter entries. TAKE LEAVE is a funny phrase, as “take” is the opposite of “leave,” yet TAKE LEAVE (of) doesn’t mean anything like “take it or leave it.” I was confused by the description of OMELET PAN as a [Breakfast buffet utensil]. But that usage of “utensil” isn’t wrong — it’s just not common. ANIMAL HOUSE, FRESH FACE, and Teddy “TRUST BUSTER” Roosevelt were all fun entries. WINTER HARDY was new to me, as was BOXELDER BUG (though I’ve definitely seen the latter before, so Google Images tells me). 

Bullet points for the rest of the grid:

  • BUY AND HOLD is fresh fill to me, and I liked BRUSCHETTA (mostly because it came to me so quickly, and is a nice counterpoint to TOMATO PUREE).
  • I’m just now noticing this is a pangram, thanks to fill like QUELL/QUEEG, JESU/JUTTED, REMIX/BOXELDER BUG, and ZINC/ZEN. Good stuff.
  • I’m a bit torn about CIA SPY. It looks ugly in the grid, but it’s hard to dispute that a “CIA spy” is a real thing. Net positive for me.
  • SPECIE is one of those old-timey words I love seeing.
  • ALS is usually an entry I do not like, but I dug the clue [___’s Toy Barn: “Toy Story 2” setting]. In the opposite vein, I usually don’t mind SHES when clued as a partial (e.g., [“___’s a Lady”]), but I was not a fan of the clue [Women]. Do people say SHES to mean “women”?
  • Sir TERENCE Rattigan is probably unknown to most American solvers. He wrote the play(s) that this movie was based on.

I’ll give this one 3.75 stars. Good luck to everyone at ACPT! To everyone else, until next week!

Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “… What Am I?” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Riddles are the order of the day:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 03/08/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 03/08/14

  • [“I’m light as a feather, but nobody can hold me for very long …”] clued ONE’S BREATH – there was a 60 Minutes bit about a diver who can hold his breath for 4-5 minutes as I recall. Yikes!
  • [“My tines be long. My tines be short. My tines end ere my first report …”] was LIGHTNING – I’m not familiar with the term “tines” as associated with lightning; I only know them as the ends of forks, but it makes sense that they would be used as the sharp points of other phenomena as well.
  • [“I go on four legs in the morning, on two legs in the afternoon, and on three legs in the evening …”] clued MAN – “morning” is when you are a baby, “afternoon” an adult and “evening” is old age, when you need a cane.
  • [“I jump when I walk and sit when I stand …”] clued A KANGAROO – why the indefinite article here and not with “a man”? Inquiring minds want to know …
  • [“I’m the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space, the beginning of the end, and the end of every place …”] was THE LETTER E – here we have a definite article.

Today’s puzzle was brought to you by …

I enjoyed the riddles, nice change of pace from the more standard crossword thematic fare. The opera I PAGLIACCI definitely upped the difficulty factor in this one, as well as its neighbor TOTO IV (were there a I, II and III that preceded it?). Much easier was the lower left quadrant with some (very) old friends, ATRA, ASTA and ALDA in a U-shape. Timely clue for The HURT LOCKER, [Movie with the first female winner of the Oscar for Best Director], as today is International Women’s Day. Good luck to all in Brooklyn today–I’ll be rooting for you from the on-lines!

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11 Responses to Saturday, March 8, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    I did not know the term CONDOR. One of my best friends made a hole in one on a par three and and an albatross on a par five in the same year, both with a four iron. I thought the term was DOUBLE ALBATROSS or TRIPLE EAGLE.

    I have made a bunch of eagles on par fives in the 450-480 yd. range. Most of the holes on which I made them would be considered par fours in today’s world and even the hole on which the longest straight away hole in one (517 yards in Denver) was recorded would probably be called a par 4 by the USGA.

    I found the entire puzzle to be very hard. I had just enough entries in every section (ROSSI, RADNER, MECCA and SEXY SADIE) that I did not give up, but it took me a long time.


    • bob stigger says:

      I’ve never heard any of those terms — condor, double albatross, triple eagle. If it ever happened to me I wouldn’t need a term for it as I would incur terminal elation shock.

      • Richard says:

        Just read some interesting (at least to me) trivia on the 3 reported holes in one on par 5s. One was a dogleg hole on a course in Hope, Arkansas – Bill Clinton’s birthplace. Another one was on a straightaway hole with the length being over 500 yards. It was at altitude though in Denver. The third was with a 3 iron on a dogleg.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: This solves vacillated between my thinking it was easy and impossible. I’d feel I was on the constructor’s wavelength (e.g. the JUST DO IT popped right out) and then I’d hit a wall. Since I’m stealing the time from work I need to get done, I cheated in a couple of strategic places (e.g. KIP) and the rest unfolded. That’s my story anyhow.

    Steve, thanks for not knowing CONDOR (and saying so…). Sometimes I think I’m living in a hole, ignorant about stuff that everyone else knows. I did like learning about it. The consistency of the bird analogy in golf is cool. Love the imagery. Why should sports and poetry be incompatible?

    Interesting to see how Matt set up the criteria as a framework of the review. Very instructive! Without having any of these reference points, I came up with 3.75 stars. Now, how to actually vote?

  3. Top ten at the Tournament, that’s something! I thought I was hot stuff when I came in #300 out of about 750 at the Tournament the year after the movie came out.

    I love the Saturday Stumper, it’s usually a lot harder than the Thurs-Sat. NY Times puzzles, so I often have to crawl through it, and sometimes need to cheat a little to finish it.

    Today’s was not that hard, except I was stumped in the lower right, some of the clueing was pretty obscure, and I didn’t see “no longer”, which was the one easy clue there….

    Do you read Jane Austen, by the way?

    @JaneAustenCode on Twitter

    • dochank says:

      Arnie, I too have been fond of the Stumper for nearly ten years. However, it has been driving my masochism index steadily higher for the last couple of years, as it has become considerably more difficult, with more abstruse clueing (I think even Stan might agree and indeed Amy commented to this effect last year sometime). Mayhap it’s just that my aging cognitive skills are declining, and/or that the Big Leagues of X-word solving are now simply leaving me in the dust, but I have to confess that it’s a rare Stumper these days that doesn’t force me to resort to Google!


  4. Beth says:

    I got BIG from GIANT while trying to decide if it was FAKE or HOAX for CARDIFF GIANT.

  5. Zulema says:

    When I was getting nowhere on the NYT crossword I moved to Brad Wilber’s LAT (just turned my page, as I print them out) and was totally delighted with it, no books I wouldn’t think of reading, no obscure brands I would never buy, etc. Extremely satisfying and worth spending time on, though I didn’t need to spend a lot. I think the NYT had too many question marked clues, for me anyway. Others like them very much, I realize.

  6. GG says:

    Thought Steinberg’s NYT was pretty good. There might be a fair amount of crosswordese answers, but they’re clued in new ways, which is always refreshing.

  7. dochank says:

    I live in The Villages, FL, an astounding retirement community with more than 40 golf courses and where golfing lingo fills the air (yes, some of it profane…). Granted that most of our 540 holes are par 4 or 5, nevertheless I’ve never heard the term “condor” or “albatross” used regarding golf play, and I’ve lived here almost nine years…are these actually in common use with low-par holes?

  8. sbmanion says:

    I doubt that many golfers know the word CONDOR. On the other hand, ALBATROSS, a synonym for double eagle ( a two on a par five or an ace on a par four), is well known, by not universally known.


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