Saturday, May 10, 2014

Newsday 9:09 (Amy) 
NYT 8:25 (Amy) 
LAT 6:02 (Gareth) 
CS 9:13 (Ade) 

Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 10 14, no. 0510

NY Times crossword solution, 5 10 14, no. 0510

I know what you’re thinking. “CRAZY BONE? Naw! There’s a funny bone, but the crazy bone, that’s not a thing.” Apparently it is, but I haven’t heard it before.([Something you shouldn’t knock?] clues the FUNNY BONE, if you ask me.)

Things I liked:

  • 6a. It’s big in the suburbs], MCMANSION.
  • 33a. Small job for a gardener?], BONSAI.
  • 41a. Origin of the word “behemoth”], HEBREW.
  • 52a. Girl in “The Music Man” with a floral name], AMARYLLIS. Don’t know it from the clue at all, but the flower is pretty.
  • 7d. It follows a pattern], CROCHET. Because my grandma taught me to crochet and because I recently saw pictures of a wild crocheted playground.
  • 14d. Relative of ocher], NECTARINE. Nectarines are delicious, but I don’t think of them as being anywhere near the color of ocher. (The other [Relative of ocher] in this puzzle is 47d: TOPAZ.)

I just saw a picture of MIES van der Rohe’s gravestone earlier today. It’s in a Chicago cemetery with plenty of architectural cred, Graceland (no Elvis connection).

Knowing this was a Barry Silk puzzle helped me out a bit in solving. 59a. [Something from the oven] is not just AROMA but also the crossing PIZZA, and there’s another Z word in that corner, 55a. [Nil], ZIPPO. Scrabbliness without horrible compromises, that’s what Barry is known for. (See also: JINXES, AZTEK, QUAD, ORAL EXAMS, CHEX.)

Four stars from me.

Mitch Komro’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140510

LA Times

Today’s puzzle was solidly constructed, but I found it rather bland. There are some good answers: SPINALTAP in the top-right, the long bygone (at least here) ESKIMOPIE in the bottom-right (I only know it because my late 60’s year old mother loves to reminisce about them), SOURNOTE, TOTHEMAX and maybe DESERTSTORM in the bottom-left and ACTOFGOD in the top-left. It does seem a bit lacking in obvious seed answers though. There are also awkward long answers – UNANGELIC, generic OREMINER, STARTEDINON, TININESS. Long answers stick out more than short ones and having more than a few clunkers is far from ideal.

It’s an ambitious grid: 25/64, with 20 answers of 8 or more letters. I don’t recognize the author, Mitch Komro. I can’t help feeling this is a case of biting off more than one can chew and that a more conservative grid would yield a more interesting puzzle. Of course, it must have done something to appeal to Rich Norris…

Other notes:

  • [“Jabberwocky” creature], TOVE. Didn’t realise a tove was a creature…
  • [Scandinavian bard of yore], SKALD. Kind of fond of that answer… They’re medieval Norse bards.
  • [She beat Midori for the 1992 Olympic gold medal], KRISTI. Google/Wikipedia suggest she is Yamaguchi. I’m not up on my figure skaters.
  • [Turkish Taffy maker], BONOMO was an uninferrable unknown for me. It seems to not have been extant for a while. . Lucky the B of ABA was fairly inferrable given a bit of knowledge of Taft.
  • [__ Peak, highest mountain in Idaho], BORAH. Another American unknown.

I feel like I’ve been giving lukewarm reviews to the LA Times a lot lately, but I really didn’t find much to get excited about here: 2.5 stars.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fit for a King”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.10.14: "Fit for a King"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.10.14: “Fit for a King”

Hello there, and a happy Saturday to you all!

In our grid today, Mr. Ashwood-Smith allows us to all live like a king for a few minutes, with four long answers having the Latin word for king, rex, hidden in the middle of the entries. The reveal comes with the last clue going across, REX (70A: [Name that’s fit for a king, and also “fits” inside 17-, 26-, 47-, and 61-Across]). I’m now imagining the faux ergonomic chair that I’m sitting on as my throne as I type this.

  • POOR EXCUSE: (17A: [“The dog ate my homework,” for one])– The number of times I’ve used that an excuse: zero. The number of days I have owned a dog in my lifetime: zero.
  • JUNIOR EXECUTIVE: (26A: [Young company supervisor])
  • REGULAR EXERCISE: (47A: [Healthy habit])– Something that I do very irregularly.
  • FOR EXAMPLE: (61A: [“To illustrate”])

Instead of concentrating on food, I look at NO MSG (28D: [Chinese menu assurance]) and think that’s what most New York Knicks fans should bellow to possibly attending home games while their team is such a mess. Liked SAUNTERS as an entry (37D: [Ambles]). I know a friend named CESARE (8D: [Cardinal Borgia]) and it’s one of my favorite names to pronounce. The six-word entries in the middle of the grid look nice, and the cluing on FLEECE was very clever (4A: [It grows in ewe]). Because I sometimes act like I’m 10 years old, I saw DEUX (59D: [Two, in Toulouse]) and immediately thought of the comedic film, Hot Shots! Part Deux. Speaking of movies, isn’t San ANSELMO the city where George Lucas lives (21A: [San _______, CA])? I know I heard that factoid a couple of times before. Or it could be some other “San” California city I’m getting it mixed up with.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ASU (67A: [Coll. in Tempe])– Arizona State University (ASU) has produced some great players in the world of sports, with Barry Bonds probably being the most notable in terms of on-the-field production on the professional level. Other greats include current NBA All-Star James Harden, current MLB All-Star and 2008 American League MVP Dustin Pedroia and five-time major-winning golfer Phil Mickelson. But probably the most memorable former ASU athlete was Pat Tillman, who left his professional football career with the Arizona Cardinals and enlisted in the Army in 2002. After joining the Army Rangers, Tillman was killed in the line of duty by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.

Guys, don’t forget to honor your mom and/or your influential motherly figure, wherever she may be, in the best way possible tomorrow for Mother’s Day tomorrow!

Take care!


Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 5 10 14 "Saturday Stumper" by Frank Longo

Newsday crossword solution, 5 10 14 “Saturday Stumper” by Frank Longo

This 70-worder was pretty stumpy, all right. I began to despair of ever making headway in the northeast quadrant but eventually my brain loosened up and opened itself to understanding the correct meaning of the clue words.

Favorite fill:

  • 17a. [Showed staggering ability?], ZIGZAGGED.
  • 57a. [What a demo might demonstrate], RAW TALENT.
  • 61a. [“Primary Colors” screenwriter], ELAINE MAY.
  • 63a. [Former PGA event], SKINS GAME. I assume the players split into two teams, Shirts and Skins.
  • 6d. [Helen Reddy’s last #1 song], “ANGIE BABY.” My best friend in 7th grade fancied herself a top-notch interpreter of “Angie Baby.” Also Bette Midler’s “The Rose” and the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”
  • 28d. [Frowning symbol of poison prevention] MR. YUK.
  • 32d. [Possible reply to “Is this a good time?”], “CAN IT WAIT?” (Zippier than 50d: NOT YET, same clue.)
  • 34d. [Eleventh-hour], LAST-GASP.

Tough stuff from the NE corner includes 11d: [Vehicle first launched in 2000]. The crossings gave me II at the end, but I had no idea if it was 5 letters + III or 6 letters + II, or if it was a car or a spacecraft. ATLAS III sounds rockety. 20a: [Driving difficulty] wanted to be SLEET or a golfer’s SHANK or SLICE, but it’s an engine STALL. For 23a: [Southeasternmost Eurozone capital], I was picturing Turkey, Greece, and the former Yugoslavian countries before I finally got the initial N and figured out it was NICOSIA, capital of the Mediterranean island nation Cyprus. 13d: [Salt-pan sites] are DRY LAKES; this one would have been easier if I’d known that salt pan means a shallow depression or container where salt water evaporates and leaves a salt crust. I also had a tough time with 29a: [Putting zip on the line], since its first letter was not specifically given by the crossing suffix (INA feminizes, but so does ITA, right? Or does that just make feminine things smaller?). A deal that puts zip (nothing) on the line (at stake) is NO-RISK for you.

Favorite clue: 35d. [Far from oceans] for ONE OR TWO. Oceans of objects, not oceans of water, and not literally far in terms of map distance.

Four stars.

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17 Responses to Saturday, May 10, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    Fairly easy for me this week. I wasn’t crazy about the answer RARE GAS, but other than that, I thought the puzzle was great.

    I have done a lot of weight work in my life (sadly, not too much in the past 18 years) and have always felt that if you could only do one exercise, it should be squats. Here’s one for all you under 30 youngsters: try to do a one legged squat. Hold one leg off the ground and due a full squat using just the other leg. In my brief involvement with martial arts exercises, I thought this was the toughest to master.


  2. No complaints from this chemist on RARE_GAS. Noble elements, particularly xenon, can indeed form compounds with covalent bonds, making for one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century that was never recognized by a Nobel Prize. I was also pleased to see a brand new molecular biology clue for ASE, a word invariably clued as an enzyme suffix or as Peer Gynt’s mother. Happy Mother’s Day, a day early!

    • sbmanion says:

      I have always called them NOBLE GASES although I was aware that they have been called RARE GASES. I did not realize that that was a common and not contrived synonym. I was surprised to see the large number of Google hits for RARE GAS, so I stand corrected. Ironically, I would have had no problem with RARE EARTH, even though there are fewer hits for RARE EARTH than RARE GAS.


      • Gareth says:

        RARE EARTH metals are something completely different.

      • Matt says:

        In fact (as Wikipedia points out), several of the ‘rare gases’ are not rare at all. In particular argon comprises 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere, and helium is a radioactive decay product of carbon-14, so significant amounts are found in natural gas deposits.

  3. Ethan says:

    Only box I missed was the cross of AMARYLLIS and HARLAN. I had HARMAN. I guess if I watched Justified I would have known that county.

  4. Martin says:

    Lest any solvers think some of us NYT constructors (such as myself) like to lord it over solvers with fancy diagrams and tough clues… today’s offering by Barry Silk utterly defeated me. Arrgh!

    (Nice puzzle, BTW ;) )


  5. Gareth says:

    Very hard puzzle! It was inevitable after a generally fairly easy week! I too have no idea what the hell a CRAZYBONE is. I considered CRAZYZONE/CRAZYTONE/CRAZYCONE and decided BONE made marginally more sense… Also like Amy, I found TOPAZ and CLEMENTINE odd comparisons for ocher, but putting them next to each other, it seems reasonable for clementine. What colour is topaz? Yellow? Or one of the other colours you can find topazes in? MCMANSION had a nice pay-off for its clue. My most persistent and costly error was TEED for CUED. Are ORALEXAMS canonically third-year phenomena in the US – mine were in effectively the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th years (but my year was part of a short-lived two degree system, so those are 1st through 4th of degree two) – I recognize that’s an unusual arrangement though.

  6. Linda says:

    The people who remember Bonomo Turkish Taffy are the same people who remember Eskimo Pies– and the corner stores that were Mom and Pop enterprises and sold not only these two but also penny candy.

    • Martin says:

      Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy was advertised on all the cartoon shows I watched as a kid. “Smack it and crack it” was the tag line, and the commercial ended with the jingle: “B-O-N-O-M-O Oh Oh Oh It’s Bonomo’s CANDY.” It was all sung by a chorus except for the last word, which was said by a five-year-old-or-so girl.

      Nobody remembers this? It may be my oldest earworm.

      • sbmanion says:

        I do remember that commercial and I loved Turkish Taffy. But how about “I’ll be the airplane, you be the hangar.”


  7. Matt says:

    For me, the oral exam accompanied the thesis defense. Just in case I didn’t already feel just a bit of pressure. I was pleased/appalled when my advisor asked me afterwards exactly when I’d learned all that stuff.

  8. Animalheart says:

    Great Silk NYT. Would have been a much faster solve for me if I hadn’t clung to TEED for CUED and ZILCH for ZIPPO. Those Pontiac AZTEKs were probably the ugliest vehicles ever made; excellent clue for that entry, though, especially given the proximity to MAYA. 5 stars from me.

  9. Greg says:

    Barry Silk puzzles are, for me, invariably challenging and satisfying solving experiences. Today was no exception.

    BTW, I kind of liked the clunky look of the Aztek. But that’s a distinctly minority opinion, and the Aztek probably challenges the Edsel as the most reviled American car design. It was a nice touch that the creators of Breaking Bad had Walter White driving an Aztek through the extraordinary events of the first few seasons.

  10. Howard B says:

    CRAZY BONE / SBA was not a solvable cross here.

    • CY Hollander says:

      This was a very hard puzzle for me, including the crossing you mention, but I don’t agree that it was unsolvable. If you know of the “funny bone”, you can take an educated guess that it’s also called “crazy bone”. That’s more or less what I did.

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