Saturday, July 26, 2014

Newsday 17:47 (Amy) 
NYT 5:29 (Amy) 
LAT 3:13 (Andy) 
CS 14:43 (Ade) 

Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 26 14, no. 0726

NY Times crossword solution, 7 26 14, no. 0726

Very little bad fill, which is surprising for a 64-worder. I found it a bit easier than I was expecting, with my solving time reflecting those two typos I had in place for a while that interfered with my ability to work out some crossings (put an A at the end of 8d, and another A at the start of 13d—d’oh!). Without those typos, definitely a Fridayish solve.

Here are the parts I liked most:

  • 1a. [Faces facts], GETS REAL.
  • 16a. [Resort town near Piz Bernina], ST. MORITZ. I like it because I stayed at the erstwhile Hotel St. Moritz on my first trip to New York.
  • 18a. [“Home Alone” actor], JOE PESCI. My husband and I picked up the vocabulary word “pesci” from a “Wayne’s World” SNL sketch. Mike Myers’ Wayne said that “Pesci” sounded like a word for how your stomach feels when it’s not quite right. I am actually feeling a little pesci right now.
  • 31a. [Public face], POSTER CHILD.
  • 35a. [Former hit TV show with the theme song “Get Crazy”], JERSEY SHORE.
  • 37a. [“Raising Hell” rappers], RUN-D.M.C. Four-consonant pileup.
  • 56a. [Mark of affection], LOVE BITE. A.k.a. “hickey.”
  • 7d. [Common aspiration?], AITCH. It’s common to aspirate the “h” sound. “Ha!,” for example.
  • 15d. [Provider of “!!!”], WOW FACTOR. Not 100% familiar, but I like it.
  • 38d. [Beaut], DOOZIE. Also spelled doozy. Eternal affection for it because of Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day: classic movie clip here.
  • 40d. [Baby], COSSET. Great word. 500-year-old word from Anglo-Norman French. “Don’t cosset me! I can handle this!”

Great. The pesciness has now focused itself into hiccups. I will be taking the Deb Amlen treatment shortly—a spoonful of sugar. It is a delicious treatment.

Did not know: 8d. [Region of Italy that includes Rome], LAZIO. Also: 45a. [Queenside castle indicator, in chess], OOO. Don’t know chess notation.

Word form I haven’t seen before: 27d. [Like the lifestyle of many a monk], ASCETICAL. I see a couple dictionaries that list ascetic and ascetically, but not this midway point. Also: 13d. Bringing forth fruit, as corn], EARING. I’ve never eared.

Spelling I don’t prefer: 46a. [Zigzag ribbon], RICRAC. I grew up in a rickrack home. Both are valid spellings.


Answer that looks contrived and arbitrary to me (but perhaps you use this all the time): 53a. [Tops], RATED A.

Even more problematic answer: 36a. [Eliza in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” e.g.], MULATTO. Okay, so it’s clued by way of an 1852 book, commensurate with the term’s datedness, but its mere presence in the grid will be jarring to many people. I heard the word on Fresh Air Monday, when Terry Gross interviewed Chris Tomlinson, author of a book about his slaveholding ancestors and the descendants of those slaves (including the NFL’s LaDainian Tomlinson). Chris’s great-great-grandfather’s holdings were documented in the 1860 census. Tomlinson told Gross, “One of the surprises in the 1860 census is that they have an appendix, which is called the slave schedule. And it lists the ages and gender and race of every slave that was held on that property. And out of the 48 slaves that James K. Tomlinson reported on the census, eight of them were mulatto children – and I use that term because that’s – that’s the way they were classified – mixed-race children. So I was a little surprised at how many mixed-race children there were.” The word’s not as incendiary as the N-word, but it’s also not a pleasant inclusion in a crossword.

Four stars overall.

Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 07.26.14 by Kevin Christian

LAT Puzzle 07.26.14 by Kevin Christian

It’s a fun little easter egg that the constructor signed this one with his last name, CHRISTIAN, at 1-Across.

This one has a pretty standard, relatively easy-to-fill grid with a few really nice entries: RUE MORGUE, ONION SALT, VODKA SHOT, O MAGAZINE, NETFLIX. SCUBA DIVE, TOMATO RED, and TURQUOISE  all look pretty good to me. It’s very obviously trying to be (and succeeding at being) a pangram. The fill is still pretty good, but you do end up with suboptimal stuff like X’ED and SKAT that probably could have been avoided otherwise.

The sigh-meter blipped a bit at NEN, -ATAT, and TRS, plus NOVUS and TRIUNE aren’t my favorite. Also, RESEE, BEL., and N IS.

That’s all I’ve got. 3.33 stars. Until next week!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 7 26 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 7 26 14 “Saturday Stumper”

Dang, this puzzle’s a killer! Lots of trivia I didn’t know, lots of angles I wasn’t seeing, and a couple oddball words.


  • 10a. [When moose are often active], DUSKS in the plural? That feels unusual. Dawn, dusk, and twilight work much better in the singular, whereas days, mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights feel natural in the plural.
  • 17a. [Ship-to-shore message], RADIOGRAM. Not to be confused with a radiograph, which is an X-ray image.
  • 58a. [Racing app designer’s calculation], VIEW ANGLE. Not sure I’ve seen that phrase before.

Tough angles:

  • 23a. [Targets with barbs], ROASTS. The verb, as in giving a celebrity roast on Comedy Central.
  • 27a. [Chargers’ restraints], HEADRESTS. Dodge Charger cars, not cavalry horses.
  • 35a. [Name that is a past participle], RENEE. “Reborn.” Clue has no hint that it’s a French past participle. Is that unfair?
  • 51a. [CD recording], INT. Interest paid on a certificate of deposit, not music.
  • 55a. [Two-wheeled tool], CAN OPENER. Boy, including “kitchen” in the clue would have made this much easier. I was picturing plows and wheelbarrows.
  • 4d. [Exercise-outfit accessory], OBI. Very specific sort of exercise. Looked at the Wikipedia entries for sumo and karate and see nothing about OBIs.
  • 8d. [Short skirt?], ET AL. What? No. A curtailment of a list is not a “skirt.” Please.
  • 10d. [Mint-condition spoilers]. DOGEARS. Nothing at all suggesting the clue refers to books, tons of other non-dogearable things that are more valuable in mint condition.
  • 14d. [Picked up], SEEN. Feels rather tenuous to me. Hearing things and learning things seem more like “picking up” than seeing. Started with TIDY here.
  • 21d. [The bulk of speeches], BODIES. The bulk of a speech is the body of the speech, twixt the intro and conclusion. I read the clue as meaning “most speeches.”
  • 23d. [Metaphor for an urgent need], RACE. This also seems tenuous to me.
  • 52d. [Lenore nickname], NELL. I guess that flies. “Lenore” is an odd choice, though, given that the name’s popularity peaked in the 1920s, when the name was the 325th most popular.

Lots of trivia I didn’t know, as well:

  • 18a. [Iowa’s state rock], GEODE. That’s not even a specific mineral! Iowa has geodes, but the other states have all chosen specific minerals (or petrified things, or coal) for their state rock. Get with the program, Iowa.
  • 59a. [Goddess on New Jersey’s seal], CERES.
  • 12d. [Valley of the Sun city], SCOTTSDALE.
  • 25d. [One of two women with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame], DINAH SHORE. And yet she is really not much of a Hollywood legend now, is she?
  • 31d. [Traditional Jamaican music maker], GRATER. Had no idea.
  • 36d. [Cry from Sesame Street’s Sherlock Hemlock], EGAD. Watched the show as a kid, but have no recollection of this.
  • 49d. [“Capitalize on it” sloganeer], CNBC. Never watch the channel. Would’ve helped me out a lot in that corner if the clue had specified that it was a TV channel.

Favorite clues:

  • 53a. [War underdog], TREY.  The three, when playing the card game War.
  • 28d. [“The only horrible thing in the world is __”: Wilde], ENNUI. Oh, Oscar. #firstworldproblems

Looking past the solving struggles, how was this puzzle? Well, the fill is good. Four pained stars from me.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Passing the Buck”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.26.14: "Passing the Buck"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.26.14: “Passing the Buck”

Hello everyone!

Hope everyone is having a great start to the weekend. You might have heard by now that the cable channel FXX will air each and every episode of The Simpsons (25 seasons worth) in chronological order, starting August 21. It will be the marathon to end all marathons! In today’s puzzle, put together by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, we have a small tribute to our favorite power plant-owning, hound-releasing billionaire, Charles Montgomery Burns. All it is really is a quote uttered by Mr. Burns, which you can catch on one of the over 500 episodes that will be run during this marathon. You know what Mr. Burns would say about this marathon, and the chance to see him in every single episode he’s been featured on? “Eeexxcellllent.”

  • I CAN’T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT MY GOONS WERE ORDERED TO DO: (17A: [Start of a quote from “The Simpsons” by Mr. Burns]…quote continues at 24-, 38-, 48-, and 59-Across])

This puzzle wasn’t as sinister as Mr. Burns personality, but ARPEGGIOS definitely is in the sinister category, in terms of answers (32D: [Broken chords]). Thank goodness that ITASCA has been appearing in a good number of crosswords over the past couple of years, because just seeing the words makes me do a double take in terms of confirming its veracity (5A: [Lake ______ (Mississippi’s source)]). Almost all the crosswordese was located on the right side, with DRS (11A: [ER personnel]), OVA (19A: [Fertilization targets]) and ORES (64A: [Loads from lodes]). And no better way to settle RIVALRIES (12D: [Siblings may engage in them]) than with the use of TOMMY GUNS to rid yourself of said rivals, right (31A: [Weapons for Capone])??

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CROSS (53D: [Vampire hunter’s protection])– With football season ready to be ushered in very shortly, my sports take for today focuses on a pioneer in sports television. Irv Cross played in the National Football League from 1961 to 1969 as a cornerback, playing for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams. After his playing career, Cross was hired by CBS Sports to be a sports analyst, becoming the first African-American to work full-time as a sports analyst on national television. Cross was a part of the pioneering pre-game show The NFL Today, hosted by Brent Musburger. Cross was a studio analyst on the groundbreaking show, and was joined on it by former Miss America Phyllis George and sports bookmaker Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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23 Responses to Saturday, July 26, 2014

  1. Byron says:

    If Wikipedia is to be believed, MULATTO was an official census category until 1930. It was dropped not from enlightenment but rather from opposition from Southern representatives lobbying for the “one-drop” rule. Ah, progress.

    • Martin says:

      My “favorite” word of this ilk is “octoroon.” One eighth is pretty close to one drop, and just as silly as a measure of a man or woman. But it sounds funny, like maybe it’s a cookie made of coconut and octopus. Every festival in Japan includes octopus fritter stands, selling takoyaki. Add a little sugar and you have octoroons.

      “Mulatto” is sadly missing this over-the-top silliness and is just an ugly word.

      • Brucenm says:

        I t00 have a grudging affection for those offensive words and categories from a bygone era, for a more personal reason. My paternal grandfather was a “quadroon” — his ancestry well documented — hence my father was an octaroon, and I, a 1/16 of a Roon. This is a fact which I sometimes flaunt, and in which I take considerable humorous pride. You can see it in my brother who has somewhat stereotypical facial features, and a lot of melanin — he would get incredibly dark as a kid and young man when he unwisely spent a lot of time in the sun.

        I too liked the puzzle, knew most of the stuff and found it smooth — except for “ricrac” which I not only didn’t know, but had no idea what “zigzag ribbon” could mean. I know “riprap” — stones you put down to stabilize the bottom of a stream, or muddy soil — from my Zoning Board days in Stowe.

        • Bencoe says:

          I think the “one drop” rule still has some currency. You hear Obama talked about as black or African-American, never white or Caucasian, despite his equal background.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Obama chooses to identify as African-American. We owe it to people to respect their choices in what they identify as. My kid self-identifies as Filipino rather than “half,” and I respect that.

        • sbmanion says:

          My ex-wife is black and our child is a half-oon. Such nomenclature has honestly never ever bothered me, but it did bother her. I forget the exact form that she was required to fill out, but she steadfastly refused to identify our son’s race and caused the county (school district?) to allow her to refuse to identify him.

          As much as I despise racism, I have never thought that labels were its genesis.


  2. Avg Solvr says:

    Found this pretty tough. Knew virtually none of the names or factuals and had to guess the final two Os of OOO but I guess since I completed it that says something about this puzzle. Wan’t much fun for me though.

    • Matt says:

      Me too. Very tough, even after looking up a couple of words. RICRAC? Never seen or suspected that.

  3. Boston Bob says:

    “The Erl King” is a jarring partial translation. Googling it, I find it’s common. But I would no sooner say “The Erl King” than I would say “Der Elfkönig.” Anyway, tough puzzle for me.

  4. Gareth says:

    Mostly a fun puzzle with my favourite answers mostly overlapping Amy’s. Same reservation re MULATTO. I finished with RICLAC – I’ve never heard of RICRAC and it seemed more plausible that Mr. Ferrell impersonated Jay LENO than an entire Nevadan city! I assume this is Janet Reno then?

  5. Animalheart says:

    Well, Boston Bob and Gareth have already said what I was going to say. The RICRAC/RATEDA/ASCETICAL area was ugly indeed, and kind of spoiled what was otherwise a nifty Saturday puzzle.

    • sbmanion says:

      I thought that area was weak as well, but had no problem with it. I struggled in the NE. I was thinking ship instead of Tom for Cruise.

      Many years ago, I used to read the personals. My personal favorite was a woman who described herself as Ascetically Pleasing. Ever since, any variation possible for Ascetic comes immediately to mind.


  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    So far, only men have commented about not knowing RICRAC. I bet more women know it, particularly those who were kids or older in the ’70s. Not sure if today’s crafters and sewers are still using it, or if it’s a fabric ornamentation of yore.

    • Papa John says:

      Hey, I know ricrac [rickrack]! It was the term used by the three women in my household, all well versed in sewing.

      Perhaps because of that tidbit of knowledge, the puzzle went rather smoothly for me, except where one of those rapper names gave me trouble. What is it – Rund MC? Run DMC? R und MC? I balked at the inclusion of mulatto and was surprised to discover that an African political movement would name itself after an American TV Sci-fi character.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Papa John: Read the origin of Uhura’s name on “Star Trek”:

        Swahili for “freedom.”

        Run-D.M.C. began as a trio: Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizel. Jam Master Jay died, and I don’t know why his name wasn’t included the group’s name.

    • Gareth says:

      How many of you guys also owned rya rugs?

  7. Brucenm says:

    Hey Gareth, I know about rya rugs (!) though I don’t own one. But rugs and carpets are one of those odd pockets of interest of mine. I can actually discourse, to some extent, about different threads, knots, patterns (including various Bokhara patterns) and different national characteristics of carpet producing countries. I would be a collector, lacking only the few million dollars needed.

    The rya is a Scandinavian carpet, long-pile, looped rather than cut, using the symmetrical (“Turkish”or “Giordes”) knot, rather than the Persian, (or asymmetrical) knot. (There are also various forms of Tibetan, “double knot” techniques.) I actually had a craftsman demonstrate to me how to produce a couple different knots, and even tried my hand at knotting. (This was at the large carpet section of the immense Ismailovsky Park “flea market” in Moscow.) (That is, the *section* was large. The rugs were of various sizes.) :-) If you see the incredible speed at which the skilled hand-knotters produce the knots, you will be even more astounded if you’ve ever tried to do it yourself. A medium sized rug may entail a million knots. Repetitive stress injuries, anyone?

  8. David L says:

    I agree with you on the Stumper — very tough, and several of the clues seemed dodgy to me. ETAL and RACE, as you say, don’t really work. I also don’t see how “CD recording” becomes INT — I guessed it had something to do with financial CDs, but how is the interest a recording? (I suppose you could say that the interest earned is part of the record of how a CD performs, but record rather than recording seems like the appropriate word there).

    The DOGEARS clue is marginally OK. In my (limited) experience, mint condition is less often used for books than for coins; ‘as new’ and ‘fine’ are the more common terms of art.

    Also not sure about VIEWANGLE, which seems (from Google) to be mostly to do with photography. It’s used similarly to describe the user’s perspective for video games in general, it seems, but I don’t know why the clue would mention “racing apps” — which I assume to mean games of some sort — in particular.

  9. golfballman says:

    Amy thank you for the link. I think I was under the impression you had to pay for cruciverb, but I guess thats only for the golden membership. I was able to bring ric rac to mind after discarding rip rap.

  10. Tracy B says:

    I was locked out of the NE corner of the Saturday Stumper for ages because DUSKS wasn’t a compromise I expected in this venue. Had the clue been “When meese are often active” I’d have been prepared for a goofy pluralization.

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