Saturday, July 5, 2014

Newsday 8:16 (Amy) 
NYT 7:15 (Amy) 
LAT 3:54 (Andy) 
CS 10:45 (Ade) 

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 5 14, no. 0705

NY Times crossword solution, 7 5 14, no. 0705

When your constructor is still in high school, you don’t quite expect to see the stack of JIM BEAM (27a. [Big brand from Clermont, Ky.]), FAKE IDS (29a. [Minor documents?]), and a DIVE BAR (33a. [Producer of cheap shots?]) smack dab in the center of the puzzle. They’re great entries, though!

Other highlights:

  • 37a. [What ruthless people show], NO MERCY.
  • 42a. [“See!”], “I CALLED IT!”
  • 2d. [Good thing to keep in an emergency], COOL HEAD.
  • 5d. [Crunchy snack], FRITOS. Mmm, I do like Fritos.
  • 9d. [Male issue?], GENDER BIAS.
  • 23d. [Old Pokémon platform], GAMEBOY.
  • 25d. [Woman in a leather jacket, maybe], BIKER CHICK. At last Sunday’s pride parade, there were two groups of BIKER CHICKs, the Organized Chaos motorcycle club and the classic Dykes on Bikes.
  • 32d. [Much-anticipated outings], HOT DATES.
  • 33d. [Company with a game piece in its logo], DOMINO’S. Good clue.
  • 36d. [Get comfortable, in a way], CURL UP. Planning to do just that and watch some kidless TV after I finish blogging, since the kid is downtown for the fireworks.

Tough bits:

  • 1a. [Neckwear slider], SCARF RING. I do not own such a thing.
  • 19a. [Part of the Roman Empire in modern-day NE France], ALSATIA. Typically called Alsace by the non-Roman contingent.
  • 23a. [Tooth coating?], GEAR OIL.
  • 11d. [Not quite spherical], OVIFORM. Not a common word, but inferrable.
  • The whole northwest quadrant was completely empty when the rest of the puzzle was all filled in. Tough to get going in those two corners connected to the rest of the grid by single answers, no?

Most of the juiciest fill was crammed into the middle, with the comparatively dry SCARF RING, GEAR OIL, GARDENA, and NORTE stuff strewn around the periphery.

Four stars from me.

Melanie Miller’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 07.05.14 by Melanie Miller

LAT Puzzle 07.05.14 by Melanie Miller

Very pleased to see a female byline this week. Besides co-constructor Lauren Pollak a few weeks ago, I can’t recall a woman having the Saturday LAT in the almost two years I’ve been on Team Fiend. Granted, some of that is due to the warranted favoritism shown toward Barry Silk, Broug Wilberson, Mark Bickham, Julian Lim, et al. But given the quality of this puzzle, I’d be happy to see Melanie Miller become a regular in the Saturday rotation.

Had a bear of a time with the SW, as ATMAN [Hindu principle of life] was new to me, and I needed some time to decide whether [Gugino of “Night at the Museum”] was CARLO or CARLA. On top of that, this isn’t the first time in recent memory I’ve wavered between SCREW CAP and SCREW TOP on a clue like [Cork alternative]. In both instances it’s been SCREW CAP, so I’m just going to stick to that from now on.

There were a few obscurities in this one as well, at least to me (and not to toot my own horn, but I feel like I’m a decent judge of general obscurity). Besides ATMAN, we had POOR RATE [Elizabethan property tax to benefit the disadvantaged], KING RAIL [Large, long-billed marsh bird] (to go with our crosswordese bird friends the ERNS). SETAE [Spiders’ sensors, e.g.] stood out as crosswordese as well.

Also, is (The) EVIL ONE a common moniker for [Satan]? I genuinely don’t know.

OK, onto the good stuff. HENPECKED, NANU NANU, KEISTERS, OCTAMETER (clued with “The Raven”), SOWETO, EAGLE SCOUTS, WRAP PARTIES, CALTECH, DARTH, DANSK, SIMS. My first crossing was MAMIE and MARACA (clued nicely as [Rumba shaker]). Was interested to learn that Greenland uses the KRONE (which makes sense, given its ties to Denmark).

To SUM UP, nice puzzle. Not the flashiest puzzle, and a bit of crosswordese here and there, but definitely an enjoyable solve. 3.5 stars. Until next week!

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (written as Anna Stiga)

Newsday crossword solution, 7 5 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 7 5 14 “Saturday Stumper”

This isn’t a less-rough “Lester Ruff” puzzle from Stan, nor does it have his most-challenging byline, “S.N.” This “Anna Stiga” offering is among the easiest Stumpers in recent months. There were still, of course, plenty of difficult, oblique clues.

Ugliest word: 11d. UNDREW, [Opened, in a way]. I defy you to prove you have ever written or said this word outside of this puzzle. Anyone?

The trivia clues were much more pliable than the stumpy clues:

  • 14a. [Adobe’s first video editor], PREMIERE. Plausible but not known from personal experience.
  • 16a. [“Into the Woods” character], RAPUNZEL. So … this is that Sondheim musical and it has fairy-tale characters in it?
  • 22a. [Most Oscar-nominated performer], STREEP. She has 18 Oscar noms. Did we all know this one?
  • 34a. [Home of Hotel Taj Plaza], AGRA. Home of the Taj Mahal, too, so it makes sense.
  • 41a. [Symbol on Saudi Arabia’s coat of arms], SCIMITAR.
  • 14d. [Loser to Napoleon in 1806], PRUSSIA.
  • 20d. [Former LBJ aide who ran the MPAA], Jack VALENTI.
  • 35d. [Seattle sidewalk stuff, late May 1980], ASH. If you did the Thursday NYT this week, you should have nailed this one.
  • 40d. [Butcher on CMT’s first original sitcom (2011)], ED ASNER. Familiar name, especially in crosswords, but that TV show was canceled after one 12-episode season owing to low ratings. Asner played a butcher named Hank, not a guy named Butcher.
  • 54d. [“The New Centurions” subject], LAPD.

Sparkliest fill: RAPUNZEL, CONTESSA, SCIMITAR, HIGH AS A KITE, TAP DANCE (great clue: [Squirmy maneuver]), MAD DOG (weird clue: [Bully’s nickname, maybe]), SAY MASS, PROMISE RING, TELL IT LIKE IT IS.

Favorite out-there clue: 46d. [What Puerto Ricans call “tree hen”], IGUANA. Who knew??

Oblique, at-times-mystifying clues:

  • 1d. [Shoot-shift procedure], GRAFTING. To shift a plant shoot into a new spot on a tree, for example.
  • 64a. [“__ News” (Key Biscayne weekly)], ISLANDER. Never knew Key Biscayne was an island, though the “Key” part should make that obvious if you think about it. In general, newspapers serving towns of 12,000 are not crossword-worthy.
  • 7d. [Levels], TELLS IT LIKE IT IS. There are so many things “levels” can mean! This is a classic Stumper clue.
  • 30d. [Zip up], ANIMATE. Add zip to, not close with a zipper.
  • 47d. [Hit and walked], GOLFED.

3.75 stars.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ram From Behind”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.05.14; "Ram From Behind"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.05.14; “Ram From Behind”

Hello once again everyone! First off, my apologies for being MIA yesterday, and it wasn’t because the toughie of a puzzle authored by Mr. Bob Klahn (which I did solve in a brisk, swift 38 minutes and 22 seconds on Thursday night). Instead, I was editing and booking interviews all day and evening for the Fourth of July for our radio show/stream that was released last night, and now am in airport after airport.

As we speak, I’m at the airport ready to head down to Texas for the week, but definitely wanted to make sure I stopped in – even for a brief minute – to talk about today’s offering from Mr. Patrick Jordan, which consists of the word ARIES, the astrological sign that means ram, being added to the end of common phrases.

  • LIP GLOSSARIES: (20A: [Lists of mouth-related terms]) – From lip gloss.
  • DRY ROTARIES: (31A: [Traffic circles during a drought?]) – From dry rot.
  • LADY DIARIES: (40D: [Journalists kept by Tramp’s girlfriend?]) – From Lady Di.
  • TRASH CANARIES: (51: [Disparage canaries?]) – From trash can.

I’ll admit, I have never watched an episode of Jack Webb playing Sgt. Joe Friday in DRAGNET (5D: Show whose main character’s badge number was 714]), but I know I missed/am missing something real good. And although before my time when it was released, I have partaken in (many times) the thriller that is JAWS (1A: [1975 thriller filmed on Martha’s Vineyard]). Those two were my favorite entries, with WELL, MAYBE coming in to take the red ribbon (3D: [Phrase of reconsideration]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GHOST (4D: [Séance guest, supposedly])– GHOST was the apt nickname of former NFL tight end Dave Casper, who is most well-known during his time with the Oakland Raiders from 1974-1980. In one of the most famous postseason games in NFL history, Casper caught long 42-yard pass late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-tying field goad, and Oakland eventually defeated the Baltimore Colts 37-31 in the 1977 AFC Divisional Round. The game is the fifth-longest game in NFL history, in terms of time elapsed in the game. On that play, Casper ran a post pattern, and the play – and the game itself – has been known as “Ghost to the post.”

Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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30 Responses to Saturday, July 5, 2014

  1. Brucenm says:

    Incredibly awesome NYT today. To quote pauer — This means you, Steinberg. I wonder if anyone will find anything to quibble about. NW fell right into place. I too wondered what he was doing in a dive bar, (bartering a puzzle, perhaps), using a fake id, for a shot of Kentucky bourbon.

    It helped that one of my all-time favorite movies — “Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe” — shows in detail Jacqueline Bisset making her signature dessert, “Bombe Surprise..”

    I wanted 44a to be ‘Harry’, but I do remember reading that Strom Thurmond ran as a “States’ Rights” Dixiecrat. If I wanted to start a *major* OT political squabble, I would express the opinion that having 50 separate legal systems, diverging in many respects, coexisting uneasily in a federated system, made more sense when it took days or weeks to travel and communicate from one state to another, much less sense today.

    PapaJ, I just came across your Mt. St. Helens reminiscence, and it certainly gets my vote for the most extraordinary, eloquent post of the year. And it even related to my eponymous town.

    • Papa John says:

      Don’t get too full of yourself, Bruce. Our little, mountain town — home of The Logger’s Jubilee — is actually named after our twenty-third vice-president, Levi Morton, under Benjamin Harrison.

      As I understand it, it was a run-off between Morton and Columbia, but since the latter is a much-used name for so many places in this neck of the woods, the choice went to the gentleman from the great state of New York, where he would later serve as governor.

  2. Gareth says:

    I seem to be the odd one out… I can admire the construction work, in an abstract sense, but it wasn’t fun to fill because it was essentially three walled off mini-puzzles. I finished the middle and that had to start all over again… twice.

    • Papa John says:

      So, Gareth, what you’re saying is we got a three-fer. What’s the beeef?

      • Bencoe says:

        It’s nice to have more flow through the different parts of the grid. I agree, that’s really the only thing to complain about with this puzzle, the lack of interconnectivity between the three sections. Though I suspect the DINKS/BIKEL crossing will foil some solvers.
        There was a lot of nice fill and some tough clues.

  3. Matt says:

    Two NYT entries that nearly stopped me– CEN and BIKEL. Both trivia, at best, and the first one is still a mystery to me. Excellent puzzle, IMO.

    • Brucenm says:

      Century. Theodore Bikel.

    • sbmanion says:

      I thought that this was a hard, elegant puzzle, but I also thought that the K in BIKEL was tough. DINKS is absolutely a spot on answer to the clue, but DINGS is a possible answer. I guessed DINKS because it was spot on, while DINGS can run a gamut from a minor hit to (in sports, especially football) a blow causing a concussion or other serious injury.

      I had a great deal of difficult in the NW. I did not know SCARF RING and it didn’t help that my first entry was SGT instead of NCO. I finally got on track in the SW and worked my way up from there.

      When I was the attorney for the company that owned Latonia Racetrack (now Turfway Park) on the border of Cincinnati and Boone County, KY, our signature race and one of the Kentucky Derby prep races was the Spiral Stakes, later changed to the Jim Beam Spiral Stakes and ultimately to the Jim Beam Stakes.


      • sbmanion says:

        And speaking of DINGS, I feel terrible for Brazil. Imagine Denver playing without Peyton or Miami without LeBron. Neymar is a world star on that order of magnitude and now he is out with a broken vertebra in his back from what seemed liked a pretty minor hit.


        • Brucenm says:

          Steve, it didn’t look minor to me. A guy running full speed blind siding a guy with a vicious knee in the middle of the back. I suppose his alibi would be that raising your leg is a natural reflex to break your momentum. Watching the soccer games convinces me that soccer is an intrinsically dirtier, more vicious game than American football. American football has more extreme physical contact built into the rules, but in soccer, whenever it appears that the opposing team is building a strong position, you kick him in the ankles, using your cleats to maximum effect, and trip him. I know it’s called a tackle and that theoretically you are making a play on the ball, but that’s a bad joke. And the dirtiest of such attacks are often referred to by the apparently laudatory epithet “a professional foul.” Every now and then, the ref will yellow card you, often quite randomly and unpredictably. After a foul, the other team gets to kick the ball. Big Deal.

          It has been an exciting World Cup, and I’d be horrified to sound like Ann Coulter, but it does seem to me that more has to be done about the dirtiness of the game.

          • sbmanion says:

            I had not seen or heard about Ann Coulter’s post. If you Google “breathtakingly idiotic,” you will see her posts.

            In now watching the last two World Cups from start to finish, I do see that some of the hits are indeed far more vicious than I have always thought (although the flopping is even worse in soccer than in the NBA)

            I did not realize that number 10 (Neymar, Messi, et al.) is he number of the great scorers while 9 (the number of the guy who just scored for Argentina) is often reserved for the all-around best player.


    • pannonica says:

      I don’t feel Theodore Bikel is “trivial, at best.” Not by a long shot. Arguably, his appearance in The African Queen—which was his film début—might be deemed a bit of trivia.

  4. Papa John says:

    Thanks, Bruce, Norm and Luke for the generous words. I did my best but, the truth is, the utter dread that we felt on that horrid day is ineffable.

  5. Brucenm says:

    “Platform” (c.f. 23d) is one of many semi-obscure (to me) pieces of computer jargon, whose meaning I do not have a clear understanding of. I guess a “platform” is different from an “operating system” or an “app.” Is a “platform” also a program? What are, say, Firefox and Chrome? Are they platforms? I guess they are ISP’s. Can an ISP also be a platform? I’m trying to get a sense of how to Venn Diagram these semi-interlocking terms . I’m not really asking for or expecting answers just expressing bemused frustration. And yes, I have tried to find books and sources which would clarify some of these issues. My usual reaction to attempts to explain computer-related topics, either orally, or in writing, is “If there was the slightest chance I could understand that explanation in the terms in which you expressed it, I wouldn’t have had to ask the question in the first place.”

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Firefox and Chrome are web browsers.

      ISPs are the companies you pay money to for internet access (e.g., Comcast, AOL, AT&T, OptOnline, Brighthouse, RR).

      Video games are tied to various platforms, which can be consoles or portable hand-held devices. Wii and Wii U are platforms from Nintendo, PlayStation is Sony’s platform.

      • Brucenm says:

        OH ok — Thanks. A platform is an actual physical object. I figured it was something incorporeal and metaphorical.

    • pannonica says:

      NYT: On the subject of computer terminology, the only clue I had a problem with was 14d [Computer command] for ELSE. Isn’t that more of a conditional expression?

      Count me among those irked by the tripartite construction; had a similar complaint for yesterday’s CHE (the write-up is now posted, by the way).

      • Matt says:

        I’d have been happier with ‘reserved word’.

        • Gary R says:

          Thinking of it from my (somewhat limited) FORTRAN programming experience, “reserved word” would have worked – or just “statement.” “Command” seems a little off.

  6. Papa John says:

    I’ve been stumped before by drastically segmented puzzles like today’s NYT offering, but I thought “GENDERBIAS” and “BIKERCHICK” were relatively easy fills that connected the various parts. In fact, I found the puzzle to be quite smooth, with only minor bumps and hesitations. I zipped through it.

  7. Tinmanic says:

    This was the toughest NYT puzzle in months. Wow. For the longest time I could barely make headway. It’s almost 5 pm and I’ve finally finished.

  8. golfballman says:

    Really, really wanted lap dance for 60 acr. and think it is more apropos than tap dance, but it wouldn’t make sense down. Other than that a real stumper good puzzle.

  9. YYY says:

    Saturday Stumper:

    Easyish stumper, I’d have finished sooner but LAP DANCE kept me trapped in the SE corner. I don’t understand 50a. [PETE] Oil Company in Wall Street slang. And why is 49a. [AGO] an adjective in “Fourscore and seven years AGO…?”

    • Brucenm says:

      Wall Street trader types love to say things like, e.g., “Oxy Pete” as slang for Occidental Petroleum.

      As to “ago” as the third adjective after “fourscore” and “seven”, I agree that the classification is somewhat iffy. but “ago” does modify “years” — “ago” years, like “previous” years.

  10. JPM says:

    One of my favorite “Columbo” episodes starred Theodore BIKEL, his character was a member of a Mensa type organization who murdered his business partner who had discovered his financial wrongdoings. The Lieutenant outwitted the “genius” as usual.

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