Friday, July 11, 2014

NYT 5:43 (Amy) 
LAT 6:58 (Gareth) 
CS tk (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Vic Fleming and Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 7 11 14, no. 0711

NYT crossword solution, 7 11 14, no. 0711

My favorite moment in this puzzle was when I had a bunch of the crossings filled in for 8d. [Knight who fell to the dark side] and still drew a blank. A*A*INSKY-someone? Is this some Russian legend? Durrr … it’s ANAKIN SKYWALKER.

Freshest fill: 31a. [They might like your comments], FACEBOOK FRIENDS. I might like this answer a lot.

What else of note appears in this 70-worder? This stuff:

  • 1a. [Displeases one’s buds?], TASTES BAD. I like that clue.
  • 23a. [People thank God when it comes], FRIDAY. I did not see that answer coming.
  • 28a. [Cops, in slang], POPO. Love it! Picked this word up from an episode of House, where a cop had something horribly amiss in his body and was laughing inappropriately after chasing a guy into an alley. The guy being chased inquired, “You high, popo?” and my husband and I have used the phrase ever since. (Wonder if this one came from Judge Vic or Teen Sam.)
  • 30a. [“Wiener Frauen” composer], LEHAR. I know this is German for “Viennese Women,” but “Wiener Women” is kinda funny.
  • 47a. [Ad mascot in sunglasses], JOE CAMEL. Discontinued years ago.
  • 49a. [Spanish soccer club, for short], BARCA. The Barcelona team in the Spanish soccer league La Liga. The Argentine player Lionel Messi is Barca’s star; watch for him this Sunday in the World Cup final. He will play hard—he’s no Barca lounger.
  • 10d. [Spot, to a tot], DOGGY. Veiled capital-S Spot, not spot.
  • 14d. [Power line?], EMPERORS. Not a great clue when SEWER LINE is just to the left.
  • I like the Scrabbly FLAPJACK and GAUZE PAD, too.

3.75 stars from me. Over and out, so tired! Long day and ready for 23a.

Jacob Stulberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140711

LA Times 140711

I find it interesting how the theme shaped the grid design of this particular puzzle: STANDIN/THECORNER occupy two central stacks of 4×7 narrowing to meet in the middle. That in turn creates four corners, with one theme answer, meeting the pattern “___ stand”, going around each. This grid results in an unusually high density – 30 out of 74 – of 7 letter answers!

I’m kind of neutral towards the theme itself; this style (words in corners) tends to result in what is effectively a themeless grid. The answers themselves are rather prosaic: MUSIC, DISPLAY, WITNESS and TAXI stand.

Sevens are in a sort of limbo between long and short fill as crossword answers go. I liked (but not loved) a lot of them: SUMATRA, FLATTAX (dumb idea though), the Bible two-fer ABRAHAM and MATTHEW, MAGENTA, BROMINE and TRICEPS; ANODYNE is dated, but evokes 19th century poetry and so is IMO a plus, even if some people won’t know it (shock, horror). LOUISII is probably the worst of the 7’s – inferrable but he’s not exactly the most historically important LOUIS.

One or two of the shorter answers are tres awkw: ANS, XIS, ABMS, ERN, EMP – but they’re well-spaced and more than understandable given the stacks.

3 Stars

Elizabeth Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Plant Parenthood” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/11/14 • "Plant Parenthood" • Fri • Gorski • solution

WSJ • 7/11/14 • “Plant Parenthood” • Fri • Gorski • solution

The revealer at 84-down makes it clear why the theme entries appaear vertically. [Tourney favorites (and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] TOP SEEDS, so we get phrases whose first, id est, upper component is a type of seed.

  • 3d. [Symbol of Americana] APPLE PIE (apple seed).
  • 5d. [Showy orange-and-blue bloom] BIRD OF PARADISE (bird seed). Of course also a family of dozens of bird species; invoking the flower provides adequate separation between clue and answer.
  • 12d. [Warhol inspiration] TOMATO SOUP CAN (tomato seed).
  • 16d. [Cinderella’s ride] PUMPKIN COACH (pumpkin seed).
  • 33d. [1970 satire film inspired by Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”] WATERMELON MAN (watermelon seed). This is more well-known than Herbie Hancock’s 1962 composition, either in his performance or Mongo Santamaría’s? The film is not to be confused with 1974’s Mr. Majestyk.
  • 53d. [Kansas] SUNFLOWER STATE (sunflower seed).
  • 55d. [Color of the winner’s belt at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest] MUSTARD YELLOW, aptly (mustard seed). 
  • 60d. [Show that features Chicago, a vegetarian lion] SESAME STREET (sesame seed). Was not aware of this, but I don’t approve, as it promotes misinformation. All cats are obligate carnivores. We don’t need little Johnny or Janie Q Public (see 28a) whining to their parents that Fluffy or Ansonia needs to be a vegetarian too.

Annnnnddd… which one doesn’t belong? That’s right, the second: BIRD seed. All the others describe the source of the seed while this one identifies the intended consumer. With all the varieties of seed in the world, it seems that a more consistent candidate could be found. Alternatively the theme could have mixed it up more: demon seed, Albion’s seed, and, er, umm, dragon seed, and … well, all right, maybe not that.

As for the ballast fill, it was a dichotomous experience for me: lots of good fill and clues, but also what felt like an overabundance of abbrevs. and partials. For the later, I refer AGS, STA, NSW, KTS, ELHI, DEFS, HRS, SGT, MTGE, YDS, XTS, SLR, PCB, UKR, LCD, SRS, TERA-, NOM DE, NORTH OF, USE TO. And Roman numeral MCV.

Favorite clues and fill: 63d [Running mates?] ELOPERS; 95d [It has wings and flies] STAGE; 81a [Given the royal treatment?] CROWNED. BEATBOX, TARANTULAS, EASY READ, REAL PEOPLE. The nearly symmetrically located ELUDE/AVERT (upper right, lower left).

86-across, [Chris of football’s Giants] SNEE—is this better than the crosswordese knife? It’s certainly more current; perhaps it’s the leading edge of a very minor cluing revolution.

With ANAÏS Nin already filled in below it, my brain was short-circuited into thinking 70a [Black currant liqueur] was asking for the anise liqueur PASTIS instead of CASSIS. Hahahahahaha >gasp!< hahahahahhaahaa … I need to breathe, 51a [Allow to breathe, in a way] DECANT.

So, with a kind of ho-hum theme containing one striking anomaly, plus a burdensome amount of scowleriffic fill, this ended up being a subpar solving experience for me despite the admittedly good parts.

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23 Responses to Friday, July 11, 2014

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: Fun puzzle! Good cluing. I know I’m getting in the spirit of things when even my errors are on the right wave length (e.g. Asses for BUTTS).
    The Institute of Medicine (a component of the National Academies of Science) played a strong role in the demise of JOE CAMEL, arguing that it might lure children into smoking.
    TGIF, and as a bonus I’m meeting with ArtLvr for breakfast, here in AA!

  2. Bencoe says:

    Very much liked the full grid crossing of ANAKINSKYWALKER and FACEBOOKFRIENDS. Got it early and it made the puzzle for me.

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    The NYT actually entertained me which is pretty rare. Only marred by the john, popo, Lehar crossing. My thanks to Vic and Sam.

    (Sent from my irubepad.)

  4. Howard B says:

    Fun Times puzzle! I am kicking myself, it took me almost a minute to find that I misspelled AENEID as AENEAD in the top corner, at the start of my solve! That thing was tough to ferret out. Nice job!
    I have never heard of POPO before though. Any thoughts there?

    • janie says:

      we gotta get ya to a more urban area! ;-) short of that — books! i think i first encountered the word in derrick parker’s Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD’s First “Hip-Hop Cop.” not a great book by any stretch (the title is more fun than the read), but worth a skim thru.

      and then — tv! i’m pretty sure it’s part of the street language of the wire. which i caught up with courtesy of dvds borrowed from the library… gritty and terrific.


    • CY Hollander says:

      Neither had I. Once I had –PO, I guessed it, but I groaned when it turned out to actually be right. Sounds like the sort of thing a toddler might say (cf. the infamous crosswordese WAWA).

    • sbmanion says:

      Maybe because Vic is a fellow lawyer or because I collaborated with him on my one published NYT puzzle, but I usually find his puzzles to be in my wheelhouse. Today’s was no exception with one exception: POPO. I had never heard it before and it does not seem intuitive to me.

      Fun puzzle. I also got the long crossing immediately, which opened the whole grid.


      • Judge Vic says:

        I’d never heard of POPO. It was part of Sam’s considerable contribution–in two themelesses we have done, we pretty much agreed on splitting the fill almost down the middle as to its initial generation, while at the same time insisting that what either of us does influences the other so significantly that the resultant fill belongs to us both. In the past few months I’ve been watching “House” for the first time and I have heard it used on there.

    • Gary R says:

      Urban Dictionary claims the term originated in the 1980’s, in California, where cops patrol some of the beaches on bikes and wear a vest with “PO” (Police Officer) on the chest. When you see two of them standing side-by-side, it reads “POPO.”

      Not sure how much faith to put in that explanation, but I guess it’s plausible.

      • CY Hollander says:

        To me, it doesn’t sound plausible, but like a a typical folk etymology. Why point to the initials displayed on some California officers’ vests when “po” is also the first syllable of “police”? Why on earth would you decide that the doubling comes from two officers standing side by side, when it could be a simple case of reduplication? Both of those features are found, for instance, in the similar slang term cray cray.

  5. Mick Brown says:

    Amy, I’d also rate the NYT 3.75 stars, but the star options are in 0.5 increments. Could you change these to 0.25?

  6. Papa John says:

    Hey, Bruce (and any other interested parties), I ran cross these recordings of the oldest known musical score from ancient Sumaria. I thought you might be interested:

    • Judge Vic says:

      If you listen very carefully to the oldest song, you can hear someone in the background say, “POPO! Let’s get outta here.”

  7. sbmanion says:

    Take a bite out of this apt answer. Liverpool has just sold Suarez to BARCA.


  8. Gareth says:

    I’m not even American and I know popo (not sure where from)! It seems I enjoy most themelesses by (or partly by) younger constructors, probably because they’re more aligned to my wheelhouse. The downside is I finish them too darn quickly: It’s rare I complete a NYT Friday as quickly as Amy! And I did what Howard did too re AENEID!

  9. jdc0924 says:

    Amy, in the past you expressed an appreciation for my stories. So here is one I posted on Wordplay today:

    From Wikipedia:

    Arthur Joseph “Art” Rooney, Sr. (1901–1988), often referred to as “The Chief”, was the founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise in the National Football League from 1933 until his death, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame since 1964, an Olympic qualifying boxer and part or whole owner in several track sport venues and Pittsburgh area pro-teams.

    From Charles:

    I had lunch with Charles on a rooftop downtown looking over Chicago’s skyline. It was too nice a day for only three martinis so I had five. I asked Charles about Art Rooney. First, Charles told me Art Rooney was one of the nicest NFL owners and one of the most colorful. He allowed that Rooney had paid $10,000 for the Steelers franchise in 1933.

    I asked Charles for a story I could write on the Blog. He reported about an NFL owners meeting in the late 1930s in Chicago. Art Rooney was bored, so he left the meeting with some other owners for a race track. Charles didn’t know which one. After some time one of the owners who left with Rooney returned and reported Rooney had already won $15,000 on the ponies. That was a fortune in those days. Eventually, Rooney returned to the meeting and reported that he felt great because he had won $3,000. So after Rooney had won $15,000 he lost more money than he had paid for the Steelers franchise.

    Charles also stated that nobody ever knew where Rooney made his money.

  10. Harry says:

    Two corrections for Gareth’s LAT review. The theme was “STANDINACORNER” and “EMO” instead of “IMO.”

  11. Zulema says:

    We have had problems with TE AMO before, when it erroneously was attribute to a Spanish male saying it to his sister. That having been cleared up, the expression does not really lend itself to “cooing.” I am pretty sure Vic knows this but it slipped by.

  12. Ethan says:

    I am questioning the clue/answer for 25-Across. I can’t remember it happening once, let alone “often.”

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Google gave me two instances on the first page of hits … plus times where Elaine or George called him “Jer.” I will concur that “often” is off kilter.

  13. Davis says:

    Something about this NYT puzzle put it squarely in my wheelhouse like no other Friday puzzle. I use POPO jokingly with friends, so that oddball was a gimme. Got the 15ers with hardly any crosses. My resulting time was closer to what I would get on a medium-hard Wednesday. So it was fun, but over too quickly.

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