Saturday, June 28, 2014

Newsday 19:18 w/1 Google (Amy) 
NYT 6:04 (Amy) 
LAT 3:43 (Andy) 
CS 11:17 (Ade) 

Newsflash news flash! There are 34 hours to go (till 8 pm Central on Sunday) for the Fireball Newsflash Crosswords Kickstarter venture. Peter Gordon needs another $392 $283 $207 in backing to meet the goal and make these puzzles happen. You can ante up for these puzzles with as little as $6 (for 20 Gordon-quality topical crosswords), and you can get additional rewards for higher pledge amounts. And! If you have already backed Fireball Newsflash, you can always increase your pledge amount to help meet the goal. I just upgraded to earlybird + hat level.

Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 28 14, no. 0628

NY Times crossword solution, 6 28 14, no. 0628

This is the sort of themeless puzzle I enjoy—lots of zippy long fill (enhanced with Scrabbly letters that don’t necessitate woeful compromises in the fill) and nothing that made me roll my eyes at its terribleness. First up, the goodies in this 72-worder:

  • 1a. [Tangy fruit pastry filling], APRICOT JAM.
  • 15a. [There might be one after a bridge], GUITAR SOLO.
  • 17a. [Georgia neighbor], AZERBAIJAN.
  • 20a. [City whose name is pronounced like the natives’ word for “Where is …?”], NOME. Heh.
  • 21a. [Something an aichmophobe fears, briefly], HYPO. Never, ever seen “aichmophobe” before. Fear of needles is common enough, though.
  • 27a. [2003 Billy Bob Thornton crime film], BAD SANTA.
  • 32a. [Language of Middle-earth], ELVISH. Cate Blanchett speaks a little Elvish, no? As did Elvish Preshley.
  • 67a. [Advice of caution to a beginner], “START SMALL.”
  • 69a. [Bizarre and alienating], KAFKAESQUE.
  • 7d. [Beer named for a port on the Yellow Sea], TSINGTAO.
  • 12d. [Superpower], X-RAY VISION.
  • 28d. [“Really?”], “ARE YOU SURE?”
  • 31d. [Part of the Disney family, so to speak], ABC TV. Good clue.
  • 40d. [Company asset], TEAMWORK. I love teamwork.

I don’t know about this OYS clue, though. 24a. [Grandmotherly plaints]? I say “oy” and I’m not a grandmother, and neither my son’s grandmas nor mine have been known to say “oy.”

Hey, look! An “OLAF clue” that doesn’t mention Norway or kings and yet provides facts that are of little help to many solvers. 57d. [Dedicatee of a famous Tallinn church], in Estonia, which is next to Finland, which abuts Norway to its north. Apparently the church was named after King/St. Olaf back in the 1100s. Frankly, that was before my time.

4.25 stars from me.

Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 06.28.14 by Brad Wilber

LAT Puzzle 06.28.14 by Brad Wilber

I’m baaaaack! Thanks to OLD PROS Gareth and joon for reviewing the last two Saturday LATs. They have both truly earned the title of MR. COOL in my EPISTOLARY NOVEL. 

This Brad Wilber definitely has some visual APPEAL. I love that MENORAH and TEL AVIV are symmetrically placed in the grid! The top triple stack is just great: SWIVEL CHAIR, SPANISH HARLEM (clued as the song rather than the NYC neighborhood), and EPISTOLARY NOVEL. I also like most of the bottom stack too: VOTIVE CANDLES and ROSE KENNEDY are excellent, and the jury’s still out on LIVE VICARIOUSLY. It feels like an unfinished phrase to me, but I think I like it.

Holding down the center is the Scrabbly JUMANJI. I wanted BRUNO Mars instead of [20th-century maestro ___ Walter], but what’re you gonna do. I’m looking for weak spots and having trouble finding any. Makes sense: a 70-worder with 40 blocks, plus it’s Brad “I’m Really Good at Making Crossword Puzzles” Wilber. Maybe some jargony stuff, like SPRIT, ARUM, and VIOL? RAJAH feels like a variant, but I’m not sure if that’s true.

Baum was careful never to identify Chick the Cherub's gender.

Baum was careful never to identify Chick the Cherub’s gender.

Not a huge fan of the BAAS clued as [“The Whiffenpoof Song” repetitions], but I guess Brad was never one to follow the flock. I also wanted ERASURE to be the band (one of whose songs notably scores this addictive game), but the clue [Striking action?] was great.

4.25-star difficulty dive, executed to perfection. Until next week!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 6 28 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 6 28 14 “Saturday Stumper”

What a killer crossword—at 8+ minutes into the venture, I had the southeast corner mostly filled in and very few answers in the rest of the puzzle. Oof!

Here are some clues I found particularly challenging:

  • 6d. [Loop around an 18 Across], INHAUL. I knew it was likely to be a nautical term, and given that something like 98% of Americans don’t sail, I call foul. I don’t sail and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this term before. There are difficult scientific terms in plenty of crosswords, but you know what? People study science in school. They don’t generally take sailing classes in the course of their education.
  • 22a. [Letters seen in a little window under glass], THU. That U, shared by INHAUL, was my last letter to fill in (and my third guess for that letter). With THU accepted as the correct answer, I saw that 22a’s clue referred to a little window on a watch face that displays the day of the week, but “little window under glass” doesn’t really scream “wristwatch” to me.
  • 31a. [Costume designer for “2001”], AMIES. Hardy Amies, Google tells me. This is the clue I Googled. Never heard of Mr. Amies.
  • 32a. [Many a bunch of berries], QUART. I tried QUARK; wasn’t thinking of fruit gathered into quart containers and figured “bunch of berries” was some oddball scientific term.
  • 41a. [Recounting of Exodus 7-12], PLAGUES. I was reading the clue as asking “What literary or film work recounts Exodus 7-12?” rather than “What things are recounted in Exodus 7-12?”
  • 47a. [More-or-less], ODD. As in “thirty-odd people.” Not sure that there is direct substitution for the two terms.
  • 49a. [Rapping penguin of “Happy Feet”], RAUL. Figured it had to be PAUL, RAUL, or SAUL but had no idea which.
  • 60a. [Bureaucratic manual makeup, for short], STDS. Standards, not sexually transmitted diseases.
  • 4d. [Word from Old French for “servant”], MINSTREL. An etymology clue that doesn’t hint at what the word actually means? That’s hardly fun.
  • 10d. [Place for program instructions], ROM. Is this the old “read-only memory”? Haven’t heard that one bandied about since the ’90s.
  • 21d. [Feel the heat], PANT. Sure, if you’re a dog.
  • 27d. [Result of some Web subscriptions], EMAIL ALERT. Dull.
  • 29d. [One wanting no bucks], EQUESTRIAN. When I had no crossing letters filled in, I considered LESBIAN DOE.
  • 40d. [Mean-reverting deviation, in economics], FAD. It’s not in the dictionary I checked, and a bit of Googling reveals nothing helpful on this. What the hell sort of clue is this?? It’s technical and not at all fun/clever, when there are so many ways it could be made fun and interesting. This one was more unpleasant than INHAUL, which at least makes sense when you look it up in the dictionary.

There were some lovely bits along with the teeth-gnashers. I liked the SEAM RIPPER that […helps you let things out] to alter clothes. Sylvester Stallone alluded to in [Sly persona], ACTION HERO. Interesting and fresh ELBA clue, [Home of Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano]. OVAL clued as [Part of the Toyota logo]. [Where a server might live] for a DATA CENTER. The terrific FACE-PLANTS, or [Falls that knock noses]. The literary BIRNAM WOOD, [“Macbeth” prophecy subject]. POLLEN clued as [Organic relic in archaeological analysis]. PARDON ME, AIRPLANE II, and MALTED MILK.

3.75 stars.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Those were the Jays”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.28.14: "Those Were the Jays"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.28.14: “Those Were the Jays”

Hello everyone! Hope the beginning to your weekend has gotten off to a flying start!

Today’s puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, deals with a certain letter of the alphabet that’s really possessive! Each of the four theme answers are two word answers, in which the first word is a possessive noun, each starting with the letter J.

  • JOHN’S ISLAND: (17A: [South Carolina destination]) – The last South Carolina destination that I made it to: Greenville, back in August 2007. Surprisingly enough, outside of being in Texas during the summer, the hottest weather I’ve ever been in was that time in South Carolina!
  • JOSEPH’S DREAM: (30A: [The sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to him in this])
  • JACOB’S LADDER: (45A: [1990 Tim Robbins film])
  • JESSIE’S GIRL: (62A: [1981 chart-topper by Rick Springfield]) – Where can I find a woman like that?

Like the concept of the idea, and all I really did was go down and fill in all the Js and kind of guess where the S would be at in the entry once I caught on to what was up (though Jacob’s Ladder and Jessie’s Girl were givens, and filled those two themes first). If you’re a believer in the effects of climate change/global warming, make sure not to say your thoughts to Pat SAJAK, at least a few months ago, or he might have called you an unpatriotic racist knowingly misleading for your own ends (1A: [White companion]). Now someone please tell me that V-J DAY is the celebration of the original MTV VJs in the 1980s (33D: [August 15, 1945]). Ok, it’s not, but this is still my opportunity to give them a shout out. Wasn’t the biggest question people had to answer back then was would you rather have Nina (Blackwood) or Martha (Quinn)? Maybe just guys were asking that question. A little bit of a nit to pick with both ELL (7D: [Right angle]) and ELS (43A: [Golfer nicknamed “The Big Easy”]) in the grid.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TOM CRUISE (34D: [Ron Kovic portrayer in “Born on the Fourth of July])– For those that never watched him play Maverick (Top Gun) or Lieutenant Kaffee (A Few Good Men), Tom Cruise’s most memorable role might be when he played a prominent sports agent in Jerry Maguire. The movie is actually believed to be loosely based on the life of super sports agent of the day Leigh Steinberg, who actually worked with the creators of the film.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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15 Responses to Saturday, June 28, 2014

  1. Brucenmn says:

    End zone dance! Loved the NYT and was able to blow it away. Talk about wavelength. Pretty much the entire NW was a gimme, and long gimmes at 27d (and a), 33d; 41, 47, 64 and 69a. Couldn’t believe how easy it was.

    As a quick check maailmakaardil — (possibly the wrong prepositional case) — will verify, Estonia is across the Gulf of Finland from Finland, but maybe that qualifies as “next to”; and of course it’s true that Norway hooks around to the north of Finland.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      They’re next to each other linguistically.

      • Brucenmn says:

        true — along with Hungarian. (Finno-Magyar languages).

        • pannonica says:

          Please… we say Finno-Ugric. Because we are scholarly.

        • Sorry to come late to this party, but the ongoing fascinating discussion of Finnish and Hungarian brings to mind an anecdote attributed to the late great polymath John von Neumann. I have heard it confirmed by my Hungarian parents as well as several of my Rockefeller University professors (who knew von Neumann at Princeton), while they were still alive, but I can’t seem to find chapter and verse on the internet.

          In brief, the only linguistic overlap between Finnish and Hungarian (these being the two outliers from the rest of the languages spoken on the European continent) is the following two-word sentence (here translated into English): “The railroad is coming.” Mind you, not “the train” but the entire railroad. Moreover, the Hungarian word for “the railroad” means “is coming” in Finnish, and vice versa.

          From the above, it’s not too far a segue to a 17×17 puzzle entitled Princip of the Thing, constructed with Brent Hartzell, that refers to a historically significant centennial observed today, June 28, 2014. The country of von Neumann’s 1903 birth is referenced in this puzzle.

  2. sbmanion says:

    I solved this one slowly, but consistently. The hardest answer for me to see was ABC TV and the T in ANT was my last fill.

    Tiger has won eight times at Torrey Pines. This past January, he shot a 79 there in the third round and missed the 54 hole cut. Signs of things to come as this week on his return after back surgery he was about as dare I say mediocre as I have ever seen him.

    Excellent Saturday puzzle.


    • JFC says:


      I am sad to reply that Tiger is kaput, fini, done, through, over, last night’s news. I recall watching him break all sorts of records at Pebble Beach winning the Open. My in-laws have never forgiven me for abandoning them at the BBQ outside to go inside to watch history being made on live TV. He seemed invincible then and he seemed invincible for years to come. His dalliances and swing changes and extra torque have all caught up with him. So, while he will not catch Jack in Majors, he can take satisfaction that he earned more money than Jack will ever think about. After all, that is what America is really about.

      As for the puzzle, the only person in this whole wide world who could find fault with it is master of another blog. It is a solid Saturday puzzle.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        Woods was easily the best golfer in the world last year winning 5 of the 16 tournaments he entered. The issue right now is his inability to perform as needed to win a major. I greatly doubt his recent injury and surgery will diminish his game to any significant degree. To doubt his chances of breaking Nicklaus’ record is one thing, to rule it out is nonsense.

  3. Huda says:

    NYT: “Never, ever seen “aichmophobe” before” said Amy. Same here, and for a while, I had TYPO rather than HYPO…As my Dutch friends say: Why not?

    Loved the puzzle, which I solved steadily (in between making preparations for a dinner party with Syrian food… Time consuming but tasty. And not what you get in restaurants, either). I grew up saying AZRA BAIJAN, and had to unscramble that. That little variation in where you put the emphasis on short vowels is quite common in Arabic. Just need to reprogram. Lots of Ys, leading to OYEZ and OYS in one puzzle. OY is very handy, even for those of us who never heard it from our grandmothers. It expresses a lot of tsuris in two letters.

  4. Gareth says:

    NYT: So much win. The only downside was that it played too easy for a Saturday. I just broke my fastest Saturday by 41 seconds! Amy still finished faster than me though! Loved both horizontal stacks to bits, especially AZERBAIJAN (which is also indelibly associated with stand-up comic Eddie Izzard), STARTSMALL and KAFKAESQUE (on the bottom row no less!) So I’m an aichmophobe then am I? I’m absolutely terrified of needles, and yes I work with them every day! I know TSINGTAO as a city (thanks Civilisation!), but not a beer, that held me back… a bit. I wanted the Grandmotherly plaints to be Ohs, as in “Oh, what big eyes you have…”

    LAT: Brad Wilber’s Saturday LAT’s have often beaten me, but this was a lot easier! Started with SPANISHHARLEM as a long gimme and it flowed from there. Struggled more to get into the bottom. Was especially cautious about VOTIVE candles as it seemed to make a city ending in VIV and that couldn’t be! JUMANJI looks awesome, but it is sitting in the really constricted middle bit. Also a great puzzle, but I’d have to give Mr. Knapp the victory, by a nose! I wish all Saturdays could be so fantastic though!

    • Bencoe says:

      I guess, since I enjoy acupuncture quite a bit, I’m an aichmophile?

      • Papa John says:

        I’ve heard your sort referred to as pinheads. It may not be as highfalutin’ as aichmophile, but it is descriptive. :-)

  5. Lorraine says:

    as of 8:30pm, EDT, only $72 needed to fund Fireball Newsflash Crosswords. a little over 24 hours to go!

  6. wobbith says:

    Chiming in here 2 or 3 days late, so prolly almost nobody will see this, but I just finished the stumper, and I’m a bit agitated.
    Amy –
    “LESBIAN DOE” – I had the exact same thought! LOL.

    I do sail, and I even enjoy nautical terminology in crosswords, but INHAUL is not a familiar word. I have several shelves of books on boating, and INHAUL is not indexed in any of the ten or so “classic” texts that I checked.
    Is it a word? Yes.
    Is it fair? NO.
    If the skipper told me to let out the INHAUL a bit, I’d look at him/her and say “WTF are you talking about?? Perhaps it is familiar to racing sailors (.01% of the population?).
    I think it’s also wrong.
    With the cross-reference, the clue reads “loop around an (sic) mast”.
    An INHAUL is attached to the clew of a sail, methinks, and runs to a thingy and then to a cleat, which may or may not be attached to (an?) mast, but it is certainly not a loop around it.

    Totally agree with your comments on the clue for FAD, meh, feh, ugh.

    Finally, I have to disagree that the clue for ELBA is “interesting and fresh”.
    The clue is wrong.
    ELBA is merely a part of Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano, not it’s “home”.

Comments are closed.