Saturday, April 12, 2014

NYT 6:59 (Amy) 
Newsday 10:05 (Amy) 
LAT 2:37 (Andy) 
CS 9:19 (Ade) 

Mel Rosen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 12 14, no. 0412

NY Times crossword solution, 4 12 14, no. 0412

Two particularly timely entries chanced to be in this puzzle:

  • 1a. [Popularity boost due to a certain TV endorsement], COLBERT BUMP. I got the BUMP quickly but needed crossings to remind me which TV figure laid claim to giving a “bump.” Stephen Colbert was in the news this week—he’s taking over David Letterman’s show next year. A bold move! A middleish-aged white male host for a late-night network show! (For your consideration: Aisha Tyler.)
  • 27d. [21st-century pastime for treasure hunters], GEOCACHING. The word geocache was just added, by popular vote, to the official Scrabble dictionary. Bogus, man. It should have been zen or ew.

Other zippy fill I liked:

  • 15a. [“A thousand pardons”], “EVER SO SORRY.” Blame Canada—and then wait for it to apologize.
  • 24a. [Wear for Hu Jintao], MAO SUIT.
  • 58a. [People sampling mushrooms, say], MYCOLOGISTS. I think mushrooms are gross but I support the science thereof.
  • 10d. [“Fantasy Island” host], MR. ROARKE. Played by Ricardo Montalban. His accent didn’t really match the character’s name.

In the “never heard of”/”did not know” category, we have these:

  • 37a. [Place for rank-and-filers in the House of Commons], BACKBENCH. Thought the term had broader application, but the dictionary pegs it as specifically this.
  • 11d. [Stray mongrels], PYE-DOGS. An Anglo-Indian term, apparently. Entirely new to me. Well, except for the “dogs” part.
  • 26d. [1987 Lionel Richie hit], SELA. Really? I hope it was a ballad dedicated to Sela Ward.
  • 23d. [Org. whose logo has an eagle and scales], IRS. They have a logo?
  • 28d. [Leonov who was the first man to walk in space], ALEKSEI. Plausibly Russian name, but not as familiar as Yuri Gagarin.
  • 38d. [“Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” painter, 1845], BINGHAM. Don’t know the name.
  • 6d. [Casualty of the Battle of Roncesvalles], ROLAND. I know of the Chanson de Roland, but not the battle details within.
  • 53d. [Orange’s org.], ACC. Does Syracuse play in the ACC despite not being so close to the Atlantic and not in the Southeast like the traditional ACC teams?
  • 29d. [Balboa’s first name], VASCO. I wanted ROCKY. I know Vasco da Gama, but blanked on this guy. Also had Italo Balbo, who has a Chicago street named after him, in the way. Perhaps the only Fascist with a Chicago street named in his honor?
  • 9d. [The Negro R. runs through it], URU., Uruguay. Don’t know the river.
  • 41d. [Its parent is Liberty Mutual], SAFECO. Who? Thanks to a cross-reference, we know Safeco is in the INS. (insurance) business. Blech.

Whoa. That is a lot for me to blank on.

This 72-worder has a surprising number of 3- and 4-letter entries that underwhelmed me. Foremost among them, 47d. [Sacs studied by 58-Across], ASCI. One of the main bits of fungal crosswordese (see also: stipe, cep). ARS, INS, A TOI, LII, ENG, SELA, ESS, ACC, URU, SINO-, ERAT, and SSNS fill out the foreign/abbreviations/crosswordese/etc. category.

3.5 stars from me.

John Lieb’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 4.12.14 by John Lieb

LAT Puzzle 4.12.14 by John Lieb

So that just happened. 2:37. That blows the lid off of my best Saturday time (I think). Of course, now I’m predisposed to love this puzzle, but I’ll try to be objective.

I started in the NE with Edward ALBEE [“The Zoo Story” dramatist]. LORN [Bereft, old-style] and EYE-TO-EYE [Good way of seeing] came next, and the rest of the corner fell quickly. I love me some William INGE [“Splendor in the Grass” screenwriter]. That’s a great movie, highly recommended by me. And also squarely in my wheelhouse is James THURBER [Mitty creator]. As in Walter Mitty. As in, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Plus, those of you who know me (or even Internet-know me!) know I love golf, so I was delighted to see WATSON clued as [Nicklaus rival]. Just in time for the Masters, no less (though Tom Watson didn’t make the cut this year).

Interesting bit of resonance throughout this grid: ANO [Cadiz cycle]* echoes ENERO [Month abroad] in the SW, which then echoes JANUARY JONES [Emma Frost portrayer in “X-Men: First Class”]. I love the X-Men movies, but I’m not a huge January Jones fan. Maybe it’s Betty Draper’s fault, maybe not. Who knows. And while we’re in the calendar, how about EASTER SUNDAY [One of the moveable feasts]. Nice clue.

Surprised that UNSUITED [Not appropriate] didn’t have a playing card-related clue, and a bit disappointed that ANCHORMAN [One with breaking news] wasn’t given a Ron Burgundy clue, especially given the timely sequel. But there’s a lot of juicy hip stuff in the grid (WEAK SAUCE, JANUARY JONES, CHOCO TACO, etc.) and delicious pop culture (T.J. HOOKER, Scott BAIO, JOHN CHO [He played Harold in “Harold & Kumar” films], MOTHRA, HAIRLINE with a Mr. Clean clue, etc.). Gotta throw the Maleska-ites a bone, I suppose. Though to be fair, they already had IPANA, ACACIA, ENWRAP, SOIR (with a classical clue), and the decidedly geographical ARLES and SWAZILAND in the NW.

I’m a huge Foreigner fan, so I was able to look past the partial AS ICE [“Cold ___”: 1977 hit for Foreigner]. I’m also a huge CHOCO TACO [Klondike product with a shell] fan. Those things are goooood. Screw Klondike Bars, I would do… unsavory things for a Choco Taco.



Yeah, there was some problem fill. RE MI, HIS’N, VSO (fine, but viciously clued as [Letters before P, perhaps]), REDAN crossing MESON (things I’ve heard of, but man that’s a tough crossing), the old-timey ENWRAP and LORN, the partial PORTO (which I confess I actually liked, but duly noted nonetheless), AABA, the aforementioned partial AS ICE, ENOL. But mostly I didn’t care.

Straw poll: what did you think about the ARC clue [3 part?]? I think I liked it, but maybe I hated it!

In honor of JOHN CHO, 4.20 stars from me. Until next week!

*I was too lazy to include the two missing accents. Sö šue me.

Donna Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Just Three More Days…”—Ade’s write-up

Washington Post / CrosSynergy crossword solution, 4 12 14 "Just Three More Days"

Washington Post / CrosSynergy crossword solution, 4 12 14 “Just Three More Days”

Dun-Dun-DUUNNN!  April 15th is fast approaching, folks!  Three days away in fact!  And just in case you needed a reminder to get up to date with Uncle Sam, here’s a friendly grid theme reminder courtesy of Ms. Levin, with the first word of each of the first three theme answers signifying an element of the always fun tax-filing season. Well, at least the first two are, with the third one we hope to avoid at all costs!!

  • SCHEDULE CHANGES (17A: [Reason for some missed connections])
  • RETURN TICKET (27A: [Back half of a round-trip ticket])
  • AUDIT A COURSE (49A: [Sit in on classes, but not for credit])
  • TAX ONE’S PATIENCE (63A: [Require forbearance – and what this puzzle’s theme might do])

After completing this grid, the first thing I said was that I hope to incorporate the word “hemidemisemiquaver(s)” in a conversation at least once in the next couple of days, even if I didn’t know what it was before. (Have heard of sixty-fourth notes before, just not aware of the alternate British terminology.)   At the very least, the word will go into my mental NOTES (68A: [Hemidemisemiquavers, e.g.]).

Smack dab in the middle of the puzzle is a sweet intersection, as any person that hurls a DIS (39A: [Insult in the ‘hood]) might call someone an IDIOT (30D: [“The _____” (Dostoyevsky novel)]).  Growing up in my ‘hood (East New York, Brooklyn), the ultimate dis was when you were called a “punk.”  Not sure why, but it always got under people’s skin when hearing that word.

Person 1: “Why didn’t you jump that fence?  Man, you’re a punk.”

Person 2: “What??? I ain’t no PUNK!  Who you callin’ a punk??”

Person 1: “You, you punk!”  (Fight ensues.)

So if SEE YOU (4D: [Later, gator]) is another way to say “later, gator,” is “see ya” another way to say “lata, gata?”  ODED (32A: [Binged and then some]) might be an eyesore in the grid, but since its use in that manner is so prevalent, no problems here. I do have a problem with GIGLI, only because of what it actually was (11D: [Affleck/Lopez stinker of 2003]).

Have seen so many movies with the lead role that of a journalist, and Roman Holiday, featuring Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn and her PIXIE ‘do (54D: [Haircut sported by Audrey Hepburn in much of “Roman Holiday”]) is no exception.  Although, in my years as a journalist, I have yet to run away with a princess who’s in hiding.  Maybe one day…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PRO (24D: [She’s paid to play]). The feminine touch to the clue, which was very clever and I liked a lot, is what made me single this out, so I just want to point out a few pioneering professional female athletes and their money-making milestones.  Billie Jean King was the first female athlete to earn over $100K in a year (1971) while Martina Navratilova was the first female athlete to earn over $1 million in prize money in a year (1982).  The reigning queen of the court, Serena Williams, is the only female athlete to earn $50 million in career prize winnings.  Furthermore, Williams ranks fourth all-time in career prize money in tennis history, male or female, behind the holy trinity of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Looks like some good weather in most parts of the country this weekend, so definitely enjoy it!  Take care, everyone!


Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 4 12 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 4 12 14 “Saturday Stumper”

There was a time, maybe a year or two ago, when the Stumpers were running easy. That was a dark time. In recent months, they are almost always the toughest crossword of the week, doing the “Stumper” name proud. This one is an excellent example of the form—challenging clues, good fill, plus some extra challenge in the clues for good measure.

Here are some clues I want to single out:

  • 1a. [It’s compressed for delivery], ZIPPED FILE. Modern, in-the-language, clued both obviously (what else could it mean?) and subtly (what on earth does this mean??). This section of the grid was the last to fall for me. So many intersecting tough clues!
  • 15a. [They’re worlds apart], ALIEN RACES. So this puzzle is assuming that they actually exist?
  • 17a. [Stretch in the Sierra Nevada], PINE FOREST. No idea. I think “[tree] FOREST” is properly in-the-language for selected trees, including pines. “Elm forest” doesn’t sound good at all, mind you.
  • 19a. [Multi-hook fishing gear], SET LINES. Well, this one is hard if you haven’t heard of the fishing terminology.
  • 20a. [Electric splitter], ROOMIE. Splitting the electric bill with you.
  • 23a. [WTUL’s home, informally], N’AWLINS. The hint is the TUL part—I assume the station’s at Tulane University.
  • 29a. [Nurses’ opposite], CHUGS. Nursing/sipping a drink vs. downing it fast.
  • 36a. [They develop less of a head cold], BEERS. Beers develop less of a foamy head when cold.
  • 40a. [Refresher course], SORBET. Teaches you nothing but refreshes the palate.
  • 49a. [“Friendship” or “Forward”], STATE MOTTO. I guessed this one quickly but don’t know which states are involved.
  • 52a. [Superblocks, say], URBAN AREAS. Never seen the term superblock before.
  • 3d. [Measure with no rhyme], PINT. A pint is a unit of measure and a word that lacks a rhyme in English! What a neat clue.
  • 12d. [Phrase coined by H.G. Wells in 1914], ATOMIC BOMB. Wow, did not know this trivia.
  • 23d. [Research and development, e.g.], NOUNS. Yep, both of those words are nouns.
  • 26d. [Open gems], HOLES IN ONE. As in The Open, which means the British Open golf tournament, or the U.S. Open.
  • 31d. Oh! I get it now. [Once-common stage direction] is WEST because stagecoaches used to travel west in America.
  • 47d. [Service starter], TOSS. As in tossing the ball up in the air to serve it in tennis.


4.25 stars for this 68-worder.

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14 Responses to Saturday, April 12, 2014

  1. Andy says:

    I had a very fast solve on the NYT, marred by one crossing it took me quite some time to realize I had wrong. 35A [Dispatch] clues HASTE, but it could clue WASTE equally well (as in, to dispatch one’s foes is to waste them). The down clue, [Like many a purple-tinged highland], clues HEATHERY, but I’m still not quite convinced they’re not also WEATHERY ( Is HEATHERY better? Yeah. Am I a SORE LOSER, ACTING OUT? Perhaps.

  2. Matt says:

    Knew a biologist who had a bumper sticker, “Mycologists Have More Fun-gi”.

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: I look at it after the fact and think it really is an excellent puzzle. But for me, an average solver (sorry to steal your identity Average Solver), it had some patches that seemed impossible, enough to diminish the joy of solving. And yet, some things fell into my lap– for example ROLAND (the site of his demise came out of some very deeply buried memory of French lit), HEATHERY came unbidden and ARCTIC OCEAN seemed almost too easy. But I fell into countless traps, as well, e.g. HOAX for BRIT…So, I guess it’s worthy of a Saturday.

    I appreciated that it taught me some stuff– e.g. Two VASCO explorers!

    The mystery of all times: How can Amy manage this speed when she did not know all that stuff? I’m in awe of that humming brain.

    • john farmer says:

      And that blows away my excuse for taking more than double my usual time.

      Funny thing about the VASCO clue. It would have been easier if it had been more vague, e.g., “First name in exploration.”

      I wonder if every BRIT is a HOAX, or just Piltdown man?

  4. jane lewis says:

    i tried to leave a comment on the diary site but the computer keeps sending me back here – i did get in earlier so i read some of the comments. the acc now includes notre dame – not for football but all of the other sports. i have lived in acc country all of my life (so far – and i am older than the acc) and until the expansion that began last football season all of the members were in states that bordered the atlantic ocean.

  5. Bencoe says:

    I just did a puzzle with PYEDOGS the other day, so it was easy this time. Also COLBERTBUMP–I saw a taping of the Colbert Show while I was in NYC for the ACPT. Very fun. I’ve actually tried GEOCACHING a few times–sometimes fun, sometimes frustrating.
    MAOSUIT, SAFECO, BINGHAM, ASCI were not easy. MAOSUIT especially cost me time–couldn’t see it as a thing until I had all the crosses. Thought something had to be wrong there.

  6. ArtLvr says:

    Super Stumper… but note that PINT has rhymes in Australian English: e.g. saint.

  7. Winnie says:

    I thought the spelling of Aleksei was really annoying. Alexi, Alexei, Alexey, but not Aleksei.

  8. Bob Bruesch says:

    Does not knowing “slang for…” clues mean I don’t roam the streets (or internet) enough????

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