Saturday, March 15, 2014

NYT 8:56 (Amy) 
Newsday 8:33 (Amy) 
LAT 3:34 (Andy) 
CS 5:56 (Dave) 

Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 3 15 14, no. 0315

NY Times crossword solution, 3 15 14, no. 0315

Lots of nice fill in this 70-worder:

  • 1a. [Like some methods of detection], HOLMESIAN. The Toast’s weird humorist Mallory Ortberg wrote a rousing defense of Columbo as superior to Sherlock Holmes.
  • 17a. [Indication that one wants to get smacked], KISSY-FACE. As in a kissy smack on the lips.
  • 29a. [People everywhere], HUMAN RACE.
  • 43a. [Spare change collector], TIP JAR. Deposited my coins in one today! Liked this one much better than the following 44a. [Spare change collectors], BUMS. When you can clue BUMS as a verb (bums a cigarette, bums a ride, bums around), why on earth would you instead use to to label people? It felt harsh to me.
  • 49a. [Sexy], BODACIOUS. A good all-purpose word. “Bodacious grid.”
  • 52a. [Seaweed used in home brewing], IRISH MOSS. Yum? Just in time for ST. PAT‘s (40d. [Annual winter honoree, briefly]) Day?
  • 5d. [Blissful], ELYSIAN. Such a pretty word.
  • 10d. [Member of the marmoset family], TAMARIN. They have the best mustaches.
  • 11d. [Cold discomfort, of sorts], BRAIN FREEZE. Was leaning toward some sort of SNEEZE from the common cold, but this is more of a Slurpee-freezes-the-sinuses deal.
  • 22d. [Penalty for some overly prolific posters], TWITTER JAIL. Never heard of this before. Apparently sending too many tweets too fast gets your account put on a tweeting hold. Not sure if it’s for spammers, or overly enthusiastic conversers, or what.
  • 37d. [Cayenne producer], PORSCHE. First tried PIMENTO, but it’s an SUV, not a pepper spice.

Clues of note:

  • 24a. [A line, e.g.], SUBWAY / 27a. [A lines, e.g.], SERIFS.
  • 39a. [What cookies are often baked in], DOZENS. Also pans. You ever play the dozens?
  • 54a. [One controlling drones], BEEKEEPER. Ooh, great clue! And then ULEE is a [Title 54-Across of film].
  • 27d. [Less likely to have waffles], SURER. “Yes, I’m positive. I’ll have the blackberry bliss cakes.”

You know why I liked 28a. [“Essays in Love” writer ___ de Botton], ALAIN? Because de Botton sounds like de Bottom and this week I learned that Gigglebottom is an actual surname. I’m petitioning the court to change my name—I want to go back to my original surname but I’d like to hyphenate it with -Gigglebottom.

Wasn’t wild about AARE and partial I ME (50d. [“___ Wed” (2007 Erica Durance movie)]? not ringing a bell), but overall, a good puzzle. Four stars. Par five, as it’s a long hole.

Updated Saturday morning:

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

Based upon the title, I thought we might have five famous people whose first names began with Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael, but instead we have people who share a first name with another famous Jackson:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 03/15/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 03/15/14

  • [NFL running back who forfeited his 2005 Heisman Trophy] was REGGIE BUSH – was this at USC under now Superbowl-winning Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll? Anyway, Reggie Jackson was a famous NYY right fielder.
  • [“Christina’s World” painter] was ANDREW WYETHAndrew Jackson was POTUS VII.
  • [Last governor of New Netherland] clued PETER STUYVESANT – this is modern-day NYC, no? Peter Jackson is the Kiwi who produced the Lord of the Rings series. We hiked the Milford Track where many of the scenes were shot.
  • [Best Actress Oscar for “The Reader”] clued KATE WINSLETKate Jackson was one of the original Charlie’s Angels. Can you name the other two?
  • [Best Actress Oscar for “The Reader”] clued JESSE JAMESJesse Jackson has been a Baptist minister, activist, “shadow” senator for D.C. (while I lived there!) and a presidential candidate.

Solid theme with five nice entries. I was a bit MEH on fill such as RESEW, PTAS, MAG and the rather humorous homophones SUI and SOOEY, but felt that the longer fill of MINUTE MAID, GET-AWAY CAR and Jimi Hendrix’s “HEY JOE” more than made up for them. Let’s take a listen, shall we?

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 3 25 14 "Saturday Stumper" by Frank Longo

Newsday crossword solution, 3 25 14 “Saturday Stumper” by Frank Longo

Tough puzzle, but! The NYT took me even longer, as I had an unusually long Saturday NYT solve this week. So the Stumper loses the title of The Week’s Toughest this time.

Top fill: BRAM STOKER, [“The blood is the life!” penner]; FINAL EDIT, [Last chance to make the cut]; BOOGIED, [Got moving, so to speak]; HOME PLANET, [An alien might miss it]; TEXAS STATE, [“Rising star” of NCAA Division I]; interesting word FESTOONS, [Party hang-ups]; Roy ORBISON, [ “Greatest singer in the world,” per Presley]; and HE OR SHE, [“They” alternative] when “they” is used as a gender-neutral singular.

Let’s look at a few tricky clues:

  • 41d. [Queen of comedy], TITANIA. Queen of the fairies in Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • 43d. [Twist, in the end], ADOPTEE. Oliver Twist, adopted by the end of the book.
  • 6d. [It could hold your notice], TACK. A tack used to tack up your notice on a bulletin board, for example.

Gotta run—taking my kid to a dental check-up shortly. Four stars. Nothing particularly exotic or thrilling, but smooth and well-clued and fair.

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

LAT Puzzle 3.15.14 by Barry C. Silk

LAT Puzzle 3.15.14 by Barry C. Silk

I usually look at the constructor’s byline before solving a puzzle. Not so today. But as soon as I threw down MARIMBA and MARTINEZ, I thought, “Hmm, a Z… wouldn’t be surprised if this is Barry Silk.” One grid-spanning FREEZING DRIZZLE later, my suspicions were confirmed.

As Stefon might say if he were a crossword reviewer, this puzzle had everything: modern references (VIDEOCHAT, POP-UP AD), clever cluing ([Storyteller?] for POLYGRAPH (not a LYE detector); [Shot] for KAPUT[Screened conversation?] for VIDEOCHAT), literature (The EYRE Affair, OCEANIA from 1984), vocabulary (a deltiologist collects POSTCARDS). And look over there: is that BO DEREK? No, it’s SHAMU driving a MAZDA Tribute.

That’s really all I have to say about this one. Not quite as Scrabbly as many Silk puzzles, but the whole puzzle is really well filled. No gripes and a bit of interested smattered around the grid = 4.1 stars from me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I HEARD MOBY and IRENE CARA were giving RIDES in their MAZDA. (That was AWFUL. I’m SORRY.) Until next week!

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28 Responses to Saturday, March 15, 2014

  1. Bencoe says:

    IRISH MOSS isn’t used in beer for the flavor, but for the process of fining. It attracts partially dissolved solids from the beer and causes them to clump together, making them easier to remove. Better than isinglass, which is made from fish air bladders and used for the same process.

  2. howlinwolf says:

    Alain de botton has attained a certain amount of notoriety lately for his efforts to apply the works of ancient philosophers to contemporary problems. The youtube video “03 Seneca on anger” is a great example.

    • pannonica says:

      The latest of many dubious—in my opinion inane, but I’m striving for equanimity—effort by this poor excuse for a public intellectual is a grand redefinition of the Purpose of Art and suggestions for wholesale rearrangement of museums.

      May I call you chester?

  3. Jonesy says:

    @WaPo: indeed re: Reggie Bush / Pete Carroll and Stuyvesant / NYC

    Farrah Fawcett and somebody else?

  4. Gareth says:

    NYT: Spent the morning spaying animals, and came back to this crossword. Thought I had a shout-out when [A lin, e.g.] started SU????, but then that wasn’t SUTURE. ASs it turns out NEUTER was waiting down the track… KISSYFACE & clue, TAMARIN, and BRAINFREEZE were particularly nice! Never heard of TWITTERJAIL (not a twit), but it sounds intriguing… I also thought [Staples of Marvel Comics] was looking for a person’s name at first!

    Is that really Matt’s post and not Amy’s?

  5. David L says:

    Good puzzle, but much of it was not on my wavelength. Don’t know APPLESAUCE (well, a sauce made from apples, yes, but not as a word for nonsense), and ‘jack’ for money at EURO is not in my vocabulary either. They both have a sort of 1950s comics feel to me. Couldn’t figure out why anyone would buy into a COOP, until I realized it was CO-OP; a New Yorky thing, I suppose. And I thought ARPEL had to do with jewelry, not unguents.

    Can someone explain EST at 19A? I can’t make sense of that at all.

    • David L says:

      Never mind. The penny dropped. But, boy, that’s a little too forced, if you ask me.

    • sbmanion says:

      The key is the word MOST, calling for a superlative.

      Easy puzzle for me today, breaking a several week string of tough Fri.-Sat. puzzles.


    • David P. says:

      “most things” refers to nouns associated with adjectives that end in EST, e.g. “the biggest loser”, “the longest day”, etc.

      It’s not the best clue IMO.

  6. Animalheart says:

    Loved the NYT. BODACIOUS for Sexy seemed a bit of a stretch, but with fresh fill like this, who can complain? (Scratch that. I KNOW who can complain…) I had TWITTERFAIL for a while, but jail makes more sense, and I vaguely recall hearing the term. ALAIN de Botton and PAEAN were just about my only toeholds to begin, but overall a relatively swift solve, I thought.

  7. ahimsa says:

    I was able to do the NYT without too much trouble (slow but steady).

    But that Saturday Stumper was too hard for me so I gave up. That’s on me as a solver, not the puzzle! I just wasn’t on the same wavelength. I did like the BRAM STOKER quote.

    But the birder in me wondered about that WHITE OWL entry at 48 Across. I’ve heard of the Snowy Owl but not this. Googling showed me that WHITE OWL is a cigar brand (among other things). And I did find one site listing “Great white owl” as a nickname for the Snowy Owl but nothing for plain White Owl.

    So that entry felt a bit off to me as clued. Maybe a more expert birder can chime in? Who was it that posted all those great bird photos a while back? :-)

  8. Bob Bruesch says:

    In re Silk’s LAT: It’s pretty esoteric when you do a search for the clue with the answer together, all you get is this puzzle. Gave up after 45 min.

  9. Howard B says:

    I don’t tweet. the Twitter reference was lost on me, but not because I’m too old or whatever. Thought that was still a bit too niche and perhaps too “fresh” an answer. That one really threw me for a loop. The rest of it was a fun solve!

  10. GG12345 says:

    NYT: this has to get a high rating. There is so much fresh cluing in it. “Uplifting company” “body bags” “classic two-seaters” contrasted with “modern two-seater” “winter athlete pull-up” and if you’d read Agatha Christie you’d know “applesauce”.

  11. hgd says:

    I agree with Amy that BUMS in NYT was an offensive and regrettable clue.

  12. Umberto says:

    Don’t be bummed out. I thought it a clever clue in a fun puzzle

  13. Harry says:

    In the LAT, 3d is “cabs” and the answer is “reds.” I don’t get it. Can someone help?

  14. Art Shapiro says:

    Harry: didn’t do that puzzle, but think wines.

    Tough NYT today – 7/8 of a large blended mocha before it was done. I question the definition of BODACIOUS.


  15. CY Hollander says:

    “Bum” as verb stems directly from “bum” as noun.

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