Saturday, May 17, 2014

Newsday 8:41 (Amy) 
NYT 5:51 (Amy) 
LAT 4:00 (Andy) 
CS 9:50 (Ade) 

Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 17 15, no. 0517

NY Times crossword solution, 5 17 15, no. 0517

At the ACPT, Brad Wilber had something like nine different people tell him that his puzzles routinely vexed them (but that the puzzles he co-constructs with Doug Peterson were a breeze). Nemesis! I do not find that Brad’s puzzles are significantly tougher for me than other constructors’. Sure, his Newsday “Saturday Stumper” puzzles are fiendish, but most all of the Stumper-makers write really tough clues. This puzzle here, it played like a mildly challenging Friday puzzle or an easyish Saturday.

I might’ve liked this one to put up more of a fight, but I really admired the fill. OTB, OREM, FT-LBS (does it really take an S? that’s [Ballistics test units: Abbr.], foot-pounds), and plural ANTONS are the worst on offer, and there is so much good stuff, in both fill and clues:

  • 16a. [Livid], UP IN ARMS. I don’t really consider the UP to be duped by the one in 55a: GOT UPSET.
  • 17a. [Where Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” premiered], PRAGUE. Yes! One of the two operas I have seen in my life was at that very theater in Prague.
  • 21a. [Result of pushing too hard?], TILT. In pinball. Where can I play some pinball?
  • 32a. [Italian artist with the largest painting in the Louvre], PAOLO VERONESE. Austrian composer in Prague, Italian painting in Paris—Brad brings us the high culture.
  • 35a. [“Guys and Dolls” number that ends with the rolling of dice], LUCK BE A LADY. And Brad brings the middlebrow culture too.
  • 2d. [One who puts others to sleep?], AU PAIR. Presumably putting his or her host family’s children to bed.
  • 7d. [Once-common desert fighting force], CAMEL CAVALRY. This is kinda nuts because I’ve never heard of it before, and I rather doubt it is common knowledge. But alliteration!
  • 11d. [Sources of chronic annoyance], BUGBEARS. Love that word. Should use it more often. Everything I call crosswordese? My bugbears.
  • 12d. [Many watch his movies for kicks], BRUCE LEE. First thought was VAN DAMME.
  • 32d. [Group living at zero latitude?], PURITANS. No moral wiggle room.
  • 35d. [Classic Doors song in which Jim Morrison refers to himself anagrammatically as “Mr. Mojo Risin'”], “L.A. WOMAN.
  • 39d. [Exercise in a pool, say], DO LAPS. Definitely in the language.

ACERBITY (33d. [Tartness]) is not a word I run into much, if at all.

I was so pleased with 1d. [Denali National Park sits on one] because I knew it was FJORD. And then the cursor wasn’t where I thought it was, and those letters ended up in the 22a: ALMAY space. And then they turned out to be wrong in the right place, too—the answer is FAULT. D’oh!

Overall, I give Brad a round of APPLAUSE. 4.25 stars from me.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Community Service”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.17.14: "Communuty Service"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.17.14: “Communuty Service”

Hello hello everyone!

We have a puzzle for all of the community to enjoy, as Randall J. Hartman’s grid features four two-word theme entries in which the second word can follow the word “community.” Just a week back, the sad news came out that the popular NBC show Community would be cancelled, and I don’t think this puzzle, as fun as it was, is any consolation for those that loved the show (myself included).

  • PRIVATE PROPERTY: (17A: [Object of eminent domain]) – Community property.
  • TREASURE CHEST: (27A: [Pirate’s pursuit]) – Community chest. Before last year, the answer to this clue could also have been “winning season.” (Until last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team had not had a winning season since 1992.) Both the actual entry and my suggestion are 13 letters.
  • STAPLES CENTER: (48A: [Home to the Lakers]) – Community center. If the Lakers keep playing like they did this season (crappy), the clue will/should read “Home to the Clippers,” the other basketball tenant at the arena.
  • BUSINESS COLLEGE: (64A: [Training ground for an accountant]) – Community college. Thought about going to business school for a second when I was in high school. That thought lasted exactly one second, however.

You never see the whole show’s title mentioned in the grid, so I do like THE A-TEAM (10D: [1980s TV action series that became a 2010 film]). Have not seen the movie, and am afraid that what I remember about the TV series will be clouded by the movie if I don’t think the movie is good enough. Don’t usually like watching movie remakes at all and just want the memories of the original. Liam Neeson is in the movie, so I should give it a try. Right now, I’m trying to count the number of movies I’ve watched that have involved BRAD PITT (38D: [Benjamin Button portrayer]), and the count is not that high. Mr. and Mrs. Smith might be the last one. I need to go to the theaters more often, huh? Don’t worry, there won’t be any RANTS about moviegoing right now (30D: [Dennis Miller tirades]).

Sooner or later, OPEL (6D: [Corsa manufacturer]) and OPEC (19D: [Cartel since 1960]) were going to be in the same grid. It might have happened in a NYT puzzle in the recent past, but I can’t recall. We’re getting closer and closer to the time of year when you’ll see a lot of weddings, and a couple of wedding references are in this grid, with VEIL (3D: [Bride’s accessory]) and ALTAR (60A: [Place for a preacher]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: POPS (5A: [Daddy-O])– Could have gone the easy route with Shaquille O’NEAL (46D: [Former NBA cager known as the Big Aristotle]), but went with something a little more esoteric. “Pops” was the nickname of baseball Hall-of-Fame outfielder/first baseman Willie Stargell (1940-2001), who played his entire 21-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, retiring after the 1982 season. He won two World Series titles with the team, in 1971 and 1979, and was the driving force/inspirational leader of the 1979 “We Are Family” Pirates. In 1979, “Pops” was 39 years old, but continued to deliver big hits for the Pirates, including the World Series-clinching two-run hone run in the top of the sixth inning of their Game 7 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Stargell, at 39, won his only league MVP in 1979, and ended his career with 475 home runs and 1,540 runs batted in.

Thank you very much for your time once again, and now it’s time to run around New York City/Long Island all day like a madman. Hope the weather holds up!

Take care!


Mark Bickham’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT puzzle 5.17.14 by Mark Bickham

LAT puzzle 5.17.14 by Mark Bickham

Enjoyable solve, and a pretty impressive construction. Four triple-stacks of 9 in every corner, all very nice entries (I NEED A NAP, EXCALIBUR, and ON ONE KNEE stand out). IRON MAIDEN sneaks in there. I always thought the phrase was “dull as ditchwater,” but Professor Internet tells me that over time, it’s evolved into DULL AS DISHWATER. Z AS IN ZEBRA isn’t the worst excuse to jam two Zs into the grid, though I could have lived without EZEK. Lots of Ks in this one, which felt like a very konscious decision on the constructor’s part.

Respectably low frown count: A TOOL, DOES OK (I’m still on the fence about this one), A, B, OR C, BSMT, and we can include the partial ALENE too. IN ON dupes the adjacent ON ONE KNEE, but I’ve been guilty of worse construction sins.

I had AL__E in the SE for [’80s sitcom title woman], and despite knowing it couldn’t be Alice because of the clue for ARLO [Alice’s chronicler], I still almost fell for the Alice trap. So, in context, excellent clue for ALLIE. In that same corner, we get TYLER, Texas, a city of almost 100,000 that I’ve never heard of (but probably should have). Now I know how I’m going to clue Warren the next time it goes in one of my puzzles.

Even though it’s a legitimate clue, I always hate seeing KERI clued as the lotion brand instead of as the talented Keri Russell. Not sure why exactly. Consumers (and especially pet owners) probably liked this one: KAL KAN and IAMS, plus OREO, KERI, IMAC, and NANOS.

Definitely somewhere between 3 and 4.5 stars. Until next week!

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 5 17 15 "Saturday Stumper" by Doug Peterson

Newsday crossword solution, 5 17 15 “Saturday Stumper” by Doug Peterson

I got up this morning and decided that today’s Stumper would have to be by Doug since it’s been long enough since his last turn in the rotation. And yay, here he is! If you love Doug’s puzzles but don’t consider him a nemesis like Brad, you should be sure to do every one of his Stumpers because even with a perfectly in-sync wavelength thing, it’s probably going to feel harder than almost any NYT puzzle.

Here are my “I liked this”/”this one killed me” notes:

  • 10a. [Molly in “Titanic”], 5 letters. Immediately thought ASTOR. Then retreated to unsinkable BROWN. Finally Vladimir Putin helped me see it was actress KATHY Bates, duh.
  • 22a. [Star of Life wearer], EMT. No abbreviation cue, odd. It’s that asterisk-looking logo paramedics wear. Never knew it had a name, wasn’t really aware it was a thing at all.
  • 23a. [Nickelodeon live-action kids’ show], YO GABBA GABBA. Toddler show, came out after my son was too old for it. I could only think of the Nick teen/tween sitcoms (which, thanks to Brendan Quigley, I now know are called zitcoms). Great weird-looking answer.
  • College time! 32a. [Rachel Carson’s undergrad maj.], BIOL. (she wrote about environmental problems from DDT). Also 10d. [Putin’s first job after college], entry-level KGB AGENT.
  • 63a. [Quit lying], RISEN. Hard to parse this one. “He has quit lying down” = “he has risen.”
  • 66a. [Hyper?], SLOGANEER. One who hypes. Mind you, this playful “hyper” noun is probably not one you will ever encounter in the wild.
  • 12a. [They first ran at Hialeah in 1932], TOTE BOARDS. I kinda wanted GREYHOUNDS. How exactly does a tote board run? Is that the thing that shows the odds for each entrant at a racetrack?
  • 21a. [Chain spun off by Barnes & Noble in 2004], GAMESTOP. If you wanted to get my son a gift, gift cards for GameStop are his favorite presents besides cold, hard cash.
  • 25d. [Wrench handle], ALLEN. Love this clue. “Handle” = name.
  • 29d. Hey, what is COME ACROSS doing running Down in the grid?
  • 42d. [Epinephrine manufacturer], ADRENAL gland. Epinephrine = adrenaline. The epi- and ad- prefixes mean “on” or “at,” and the -renal and -nephrine bits refer to the kidney. The adrenal glands are next to the kidneys.
  • 51d. [Attach, as a bookplate], TIP IN. If I recall my book publishing know-how, an insert that’s tipped in is just inserted loose into the book … no, wait. Here’s the explanation. Let’s say you’re opting for cheaper black printing but have a section of color illustrations, or an insert of photos printed on glossy paper (as often seen in the middle of nonfiction books). Add it to the signatures for the book and you’ve got yourself a tip-in. (A single page can also be glued or bound in, like a bookplate.) Nice to take a break from the more common sports TIP IN.

Four stars. A few more AGHA HBOMB BIOL IRR STN type answers here than we usually see in the Stumper—those are my bugbears. I can solve ’em, but I don’t enjoy seeing them.


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19 Responses to Saturday, May 17, 2014

  1. sbmanion says:

    In honor of Luck be a Lady, all you ladies should box 5-6-7 in tomorrow’s Preakness. The 5 has a female jockey, the 6 is a filly and the 7 has a female trainer. This is the first time the Preakness has had a female jockey, a filly and a female trainer in the same race.

    It will be difficult to win much money if the Derby winner repeats. I am boxing 3-5-8-10 in hopes that the prohibitive favorite (the 3) will be beaten by the two speed horses (5 and 8) or the closer (10).

    My first entry was Paolo Veronese and the puzzle fell very quickly for me.


  2. Brucenm says:

    Fantastic puzzle by Brad. Sometimes when I annoy people by complaining about things I don’t like in puzzles, they ask me “So why do you keep doing them?” Well, I just did yesterday and today’s NYT, and Ben’s morse code puzzle, which I had set aside. There’s the answer. Who says that learning the Morse Code indelibly in one’s youth is a useless and silly exercise? (Oh — that’s right. Lots of people.)

    Amy. I loved your Don Giovanni reminiscence, and I take transferred, vicarious pleasure for you in telling you that I didn’t have the slightest idea where Don Giovanni premiered, and that I have never been to Prague. It’s one of two cities at the top of my list, (dare I say bucket list?), the other being Istanbul. Did the Statue scene, where the Commendatore comes to life, sings one of the most eerie arias (!) ever written, and they both sink into the nether world, have as vivid an effect on you as it did on me? Arguably the greatest opera ever written. Certainly the greatest ascending and descending scales ever written. What’s the other opera you’ve seen?

    • ArtLvr says:

      Me too, love Don Giovanni. I’m looking forward to seeing it anew this fall when my son-in-law Bob Falls directs it as the season’s opener at Chicago’s Lyric Opera!

      • Brucenm says:

        AL — Very interesting. I’m sure I’ve heard of the director Robert Falls. Very distinguished fellow. Out of idle curiosity, are you familiar with the director Eric Rosen? (son of a woman I am seeing.) I think he studied at Northwestern, and has a presence in the Chicago theater world, and also in KC and St. Louis.

        • ArtLvr says:

          Not sure if I’ve met Eric Rosen, but I did meet Elton John and Tim Rice when Bob directed their musical “Aida”.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I saw The Marriage of Figaro in Prague, not DG. The other was Turandot, here in Chicago.

    • Brucenm says:

      Add Poncho H’s wsj pro/con puzzle to this recent run of great puzzles.

  3. animalheart says:

    I agree with Bruce (as I often do). Love the high/middle/pop-culture mix in this puzzle. Steve, I’m very impressed that PAOLOVERONESE was a gimme for you. Anyway, I finished the puzzle with one of those annoying “It has to be right but I don’t get it” feelings about the Classic Doors song until I realized that it wasn’t LAW O MAN but LA WOMAN…

    • sbmanion says:

      When I was in college, i took a course called Fine Arts 13, ostensibly as a gut, but in reality perhaps the best course I took in college. I have been fascinated by everything in the art world except abstract art ever since.

      My number one bucket list entry is to visit the Louvre. When I tutor kids for the SAT, one of the reading passages deals with the rock star popularity of the Mona Lisa. I always ask the students if they have ever been to the Louvre and those that have been there always explain that the Mona Lisa is a very small painting and they cannot get very close to it for security reasons. This prompted me to look up what the biggest painting was (The Wedding of Cana) and I always mention that the Mona Lisa is no Veronese, who was one of the Venetian painters famous for large often Biblical-themed paintings. Amazing how certain trivia sticks with us.

      I sometimes wish that I had devoted as much time to music.


      • Papa John says:

        “When I was in college, I took a course called Fine Arts 13…perhaps the best course I took in college.”

        I’m happy to report that I’ve heard similar comments from many of my art history students. Why not? It encompasses the width and breadth of humanity.

        I’d enjoyed taking a crack at getting you to appreciate “abstract art”. It holds as much truth as representational art, certainly as much as a depiction of wine turning to water.

        • Bencoe says:

          Yeah, and give me Kandinsky over neo-classical boredom any day.
          When I’ve gone to the Louvre, it hasn’t been the security that has prevented me from getting close to the Mona Lisa, but the sheer number of people in the relatively small room. So many tourists go solely to see the Mona Lisa, it’s ridiculous. Most of the Louvre is spacious and empty, but the closer you get to the Mona Lisa the more crowded it gets.
          And yes, the Mona Lisa is underwhelming in real life.

          • Papa John says:

            “And yes, the Mona Lisa is underwhelming in real life.”

            Not when you consider it is one of the most reproduced images in the world, from perfume bottles to a myriad of parodies. That lady does get around.

            By the way, the landscape in the background of the painting is as enigmatic as her smile. It’s split by the subject and the two halves don’t jive.

          • Brucenm says:

            Yes, Mona is not very big and there is always a mob scene, shielded by a rope, but the rope is not actually that far from Mona. The cliché about her is that her eyes follow you around as you walk back and forth and change the angle from which you view her — which is true. Not knowing the first thing about the techniques of painting, or any other visual art, I do not know if this is an unusual, difficult, or mysterious effect to achieve, but it is definitely real.

          • Bencoe says:

            I think the sheer number of reproductions, parodies, etc. is what makes the real-life painting underwhelming. I expected something…more. A bigger emotional impact upon seeing the most famous painting in the world.

          • Papa John says:

            So you’re saying the overwhelming ubiquity of the image made the original underwhelming..?

      • DocHank says:

        Fine Arts 13!!! The erstwhile introductory course for Fine Arts majors (my gig) and others dabbling. A couple of really good teachers (remember John Fowles?) and a couple of pretty bad ones (e.g. Deknatel, the baldish gent trying to describe modern art in terms that eventually became clear were fanciful bullshit!). Were you ever lucky enough to take in Seymour Slive’s course on 17th C. Dutch painters? One of the best courses and teachers in the college. (First class, a Rembrandt slide up, all of us bent over scribbling in our notebooks, and a sudden bellow: “STOP!!! I’m showing you some of the finest paintings in the history of art! Put down your pencils and LOOK, for God’s sake!” Wish there had been more like him). Looking back, we were pretty lucky – Fogg Museum was good, but having the BMFA, Gardner, Peabody and other world-class museums so close by was a luxury we didn’t appreciate enough at the time. Do you sometimes wish you could go back with your current maturity and life experience and take some of those courses again? I sure do.
        My one and only trip to the Louvre around ten years ago, much looked forward to, found me in a long line outside the entrance for a couple of hours, terminated when a cavalier little docent announced that the museum was closed because they were on strike!!! He appeared to think this was amusing – nearly got strung up, and for me, sadly, Mona Lisa remains enigmatic…

  4. animalheart says:

    P.S. Don Giovanni was the first opera I ever saw–when I was in high school, at the Met. I fell asleep.

    • Lois says:

      Too bad for you! But it’s long.

      I had a thrilling experience with Don Giovanni in Prague – at a middlebrow, touristy puppet performance, widely advertised to tourists. It was inexpensive and performed daily in the afternoon to recorded music. The performance was free, wild and raunchy, and I found the opera moving as it always is, and the comic touches terrific. Somehow, overall, it was one of the big experiences of my life.

      I had the feeling that this Saturday NYT puzzle was less full of trivia than the Saturdays usually are, even though I had the same confusion as animalheart. Friday’s and Saturday’s puzzles were both wonderful. I hope the people who like tougher puzzles enjoyed them too.

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