Saturday, May 24, 2014

Newsday 8:55 (Amy) 
LAT 6:05, 1 error (Andy) 
NYT 5:04 (Amy) 
CS 9:02 (Ade) 

Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 5 24 14, no. 0524

NYT crossword solution, 5 24 14, no. 0524

I liked this 66-worder but I didn’t love it as much as I usually relish a Wentz themeless. It is merely a winner and not a “Holy smackers, this is great!” puzzle, which is no insult. Here are the bits I enjoyed most:

  • 16a. [“Good going!”], “NICE WORK!”
  • 30a. [1967 album that included “I Can See for Miles”], THE WHO SELL OUT. Spousal unit is a big Who fan.
  • 34a. [Fiddled], NOODLED AROUND. Who doesn’t like noodling?
  • 35a. [“A Study in the Word” host], JIMMY SWAGGART, televangelist of yore. The best surname ever: braggart meets swag(ger).
  • 58a. [“Sounds about right”]. “RECKON SO.” Folksy language charms me.
  • 5d. Pie-in-the-face scenes, say], LOW COMEDY. Bring us your Stooges three.
  • 11d. [Command to pay attention], “EYES FRONT!” I gotta bark that more often. Not sure when I could use that, though.
  • 27d. [Life starts in it], THE WOMB. THE WOMB is a tad more in-the-languagey than, say, “the pancreas.”
  • 30d. [“The King’s Speech” director], TOM HOOPER. Had him mixed up with the fashion designer who directed Colin Firth in The Single Man. You know the one I mean. Tom Ford? Yeah. Apparently Hooper actually won an Oscar for that.
  • 33d. [Subprime mortgagee, to detractors], LOAN SHARK. Wait, the mortgagee is the lender, not the borrower? That’s weird, because a lessee is the tenant and the lessor is the owner, but the mortgagor is the borrower. English is stupid, people.
  • 35d. [Kawasaki products], JETSKIS.

Alrighty, my kid just got home from school (end of the class trip!) and I need to look at his photos. Four stars, over and out.

Alan Olschwang’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 5.24.14 by Alan Olschwang

LAT crossword solution 5.24.14 by Alan Olschwang

One of my least favorite LAT Saturdays in recent memory. There were a few entries I thought were nice: the central LOVE IT OR LEAVE ITDEATH WISH, and RUPAUL (though a fresher clue like [Drag Race organizer?] would have been welcome). OH, STOP IT was fun. SHRIMP NET seems new. AIR PISTOL is foreign to me. None of the long entries were bad, but to borrow a phrase from Messr. Shortz, “they didn’t excite me.”

And then there’s the rest of the puzzle. Even excluding tough entries like ARHAT, PONTI, ALOIS, ZAHN (of the Timothy flavor), and ARRAS, there was still way too much compromise in the fill. MIRY, NE’ER, -OSE, PRU, ALENE, SEM., ULT., LAA, LOA, ADITS, EL SOL… and that’s just the acrosses. There’s also MSP, AAR, TRA, OVATE, SYL, and BWI. I’m putting POLS and ISP in the “relatively good fill” category here. The marquee entries just aren’t fresh or interesting enough to justify that kind of ugliness.

Also, what’s up with the WHO’S THERE/MSP crossing? As you can see, I had an error there. That was my last square of the puzzle, and on auto-pilot/”What would a good constructor put here?” mode, I filled in WHOA, THERE!/MAP. I don’t see in what universe the former is better fill than the latter. I’m curious if any solvers prefer MSP to MAP here, and if so, why (Minneapolis regionalism aside — it would be a lovely crossing if the puzzle were appearing in the Minnesota Crossword Tournament in June).

Relative to other LAT Saturdays, I’m giving this one 2.5 stars. Until next week!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 5 24 14 "Saturday Stumper" by Brad Wilber

Newsday crossword solution, 5 24 14 “Saturday Stumper” by Brad Wilber

Another week, another tough Stumper, another tough puzzle from Brad? Works for me!

Favorite fill, fun clues:

  • 22a. [First MTV Video of the Year winner], THE CARS. Always liked the song, but the video (a) looks so silly and (b) embodies “creepy stalker.”
  • 35a. [Preposition in “The Sound of Silence”], “NEATH the halo of a street lamp.” Here’s a video with lyrics.
  • 38a. [Quagmire], IMBROGLIO. Two terrific words. Does anyone know a song that uses either of these words?
  • 46a. [Stone piece debated by historians], JFK. Great clue! Oliver Stone’s “piece” is the film JFK.
  • 5d. [“Awwww!”], “SO SWEET!”
  • 22d. [Slumber party question], “TRUTH OR DARE?”
  • 25d. [BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year for 2013], ANDY MURRAY. Did he win Wimbledon?
  • 26d. [Dismal], LUGUBRIOUS. I love this word as much as IMBROGLIO.

Least familiar word: 12d. [Church’s “mercy seat”], MISERICORD. Dictionary tells me it’s a little ledge a standing person can lean or halfway sit on for support. I’m thinking that crossing with 15a. DANIO, [Striped aquarium fish], will do in some solvers.

Ugliest abbreviation: 1d. [Withdrawal source: Abbr.], SVGS. It is beautiful to have savings, though. Overall, the fill in this 70-worder is a bit less smooth than the typical Stumper’s. 3.8 stars from me.


Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Multi-Grain Closeouts”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.24.14: "Multi-Grain Closeouts"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.24.14: “Multi-Grain Closeouts”

Hello there, and hope you’re having a very good start to your holiday weekend!

Going on the weight scale the past couple of months has reminded me of how well I’ve been eating lately, and part of the reason is that I’m eating more of the things that are also the gist of this puzzle’s theme by Ms. Sarah Keller. Each one of the theme answers ends with a different type of grain/plant, although those words don’t stand alone and are just a portion of the entire word(s).

  • ADMISSION PRICE: (20A: [Entrance fee])
  • CAPRICORN: (29A: [Christmas baby, astrologically])
  • TAILCOATS: (43A: [They’re worn with top hats]) – I’m not a fan of top hats, but I definitely want to try wearing a tailcoat one day!
  • SOLEIL MOON FRYE: (54A: [“Punky Brewster” star])– In my pre-adolescent years, there were two female pre-teen child actresses that that I HAD to watch every time I had the chance to: Punky Brewster and Vicki , the robot from Small Wonder. Does anybody remember Small Wonder? Anybody? Do I need professional help for liking Small Wonder?

Another fun puzzle, as this has been a good real good week on CS/WaPo, not that other weeks aren’t up to snuff, of course. This week’s puzzles have featured the whole SCHMEAR (4D: [Bagel spread]), and in this particular puzzle, ODESA beats out Odessa as the spelling du jour for the Black Sea city (6D: [Ukrainian city]). Don’t think I have ever seen an IRONER in action (9D: [Dry cleaner’s employee]), but would always like to thank, in person, the man/woman that helps to make my suits continue to look immaculate after I pseudo roll around in the mud while wearing it to my different assignments. Loved seeing ARMENIA in the grid as well (41D: [Country bordering Turkey and Iran]), as some of the most prideful people I’ve ever come across, in terms of taking heart in their heritage, are a couple of Armenians that I know. Obviously, so, SO many people have pride in their heritage, and don’t mean to belittle that all (and I’m not). Armenian pride, among others, always stood out, at least from the people that I’ve come across over the years. And lastly, I’m not a fan of OLIVES (48A: [Alternatives to twists]), but I’m a fan of olive oil. The jury is still out on Olive Oyl in my book, though. Was she really worth all that trouble for Popeye and Bluto??

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BETS (1A: [Trifecta and exacta, e.g.]) and ARCARO (25A: [Five-time Derby winner Eddie])– Ms. Keller must be a thoroughbred racing fan, huh?!? For those not up on the lingo, a trifecta is a bet in which the bettor correctly predicts (or tries to correctly predict) the top three finishers in a race in that exact order. An exacta is the same thing, except a bettor tries to predict the top two finishers in a race in that exact order. I am sure many exactas and some trifectas were hit by bettors because of Eddie Arcaro, the only jockey to win the Triple Crown twice, aboard Whirlaway in 1941 and Citation in 1948. Along with winning The Kentucky Derby five times, he won each of the other two legs of the Triple Crown – The Preakness Stakes and The Belmont Stakes – six times.

I hope you continue to have a great holiday weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Take care, all!


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18 Responses to Saturday, May 24, 2014

  1. David Halbstein says:

    New York Times? The Across-Lite puzzle seems to be corrupt – missing a header or something, and won’t launch in my software. All other puzzles today launch fine – anyone else have this problem?

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Thanks to Amy, who emailed me a useable NYT! I agree that it was okay, but not super…
    At 5D I tried “slapstick” which later became LOW COMEDY, and so it went. A slog for me.

    • Huda says:

      same feelings and experience here.

      NEW TOY seemed arbitrary to me. I’ve given plenty of specific toys, I just don’t think of them as a category of “new toy”. But I guess that’s an expression, “a new toy for Christmas”? (Since I wasn’t around as a child may be I missed it). I googled “new toy for Christmas” and there are hits but not an impressive number.

  3. Jesse says:

    The NYT puzzle won’t load for me in Android’s Shortyz app. Thanks for saying something, David. I was worried there was a problem with my subscription.

  4. sbmanion says:

    I thought the puzzle was great except for the name of the album.

    I have nothing against the Who, just the fact that the title of an album would be an answer, unless it was truly iconic like Thriller or the White Album. I believe that the Who was the last act I personally saw at Woodstock. My friends and I drove in from Niagara Falls on Friday night, did not see the concert that night, but saw the entire next day. The Who came on at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and then we left right after they played. I think we missed Jefferson Airplane as it was announced that there would be a long delay before they came on. The Who was great, especially after the unspeakably bad performance by the Grateful Dead.

    Here is the Who from Woodstock:


    • Brucenm says:

      Ditto Steve’s first line.

      Amy, my mnemonic for my students:

      mortgagOR = bORrower (i.e. the one burdened by, or granting, the security interest);

      MortgagEE = lEndEr

  5. Gareth says:

    One of the easiest Saturday’s in memory for me, with the exception of the bottom-right. Even after untangling CUBED vs. CUBIC, DOCK vs COVE and KAHLO vs KAFKA (no I don’t know either), I only came in at just over eight minutes which for me translates to ridiculously easy – jam-packed with great answers it must be said though! Not sure what the objection to THEWHOSELLOUT is – I’ve seen it on enough greatest albums of all time type lists…

    • Bencoe says:

      It’s one of my favorite albums…and I think it’s a heck of a lot better than the White album.

  6. Karen says:

    LA Times
    It is not a matter of liking MAP better than MSP. MSP is the official airport code for Minneapolis-St. Paul.

    “Who’s there?” is the obligatory answer to “Knock, knock.”

  7. twangster says:

    I did OK with the MSP/WHOSTHERE crossing but could not come close to getting ARSONISTS with the various entries going down (despite having SURE ABOUT and DEATHWISH. Had ROUSE instead of ROUST, thought ARRAS had to be ARRAY (the only word I could come up with for ARRA_), thought the middle name might be ALOIN, so that left me with with ARYO MINES (which I knew couldn’t be right but at least sounded like something weapons-related).

  8. DocHank says:

    Amy, regarding a song using “quagmire”:

    • DocHank says:

      Amy, regarding your query about any songs containing the word “quagmire,” how about the following (to the tune of G&S’s “My Name Is John Wellington Wells”);

      Oh, my name is Jay Beagle, Esquire
      I’m the ace in our legal quagmire –
      Though deliberate nonsense
      I write writs so dense
      Of their meaning no judge dare inquire!”

      (OK, I made it up…)

      P.S. Thank you for that Simon & Garfunkel video clip of the “Sounds of Silence.” I used to perform it years back but have forgotten lyrics and guitar accompaniment, both of which I’m moved to re-learn!

      • Bencoe says:

        A google search revealed a bunch of songs containing the word “quagmire”, from artists as diverse as the Beastie Boys, They Might Be Giants, Bad Religion, Sick of it All, and OK Go.
        “Imbroglio” is much more obscure. The only English-language song a lyrics search uncovered is “Sam” by the Meat Puppets, whose second album is actually quite excellent and was very influential on Nirvana, who covered many of its songs on their Unplugged appearance.

  9. Bob Bruesch says:

    I, too, had no fun with LAT. Spent way too much time Googling. Do you guys need to be so esoteric? What usually is an enjoyable Saturday afternoon hour turned into three hours of drudgery.

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