Friday, August 22, 2014

NYT 5:54 (Amy) 
LAT 7:40 (Gareth) 
CS 15:37 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 22 14, no. 0822

NY Times crossword solution, 8 22 14, no. 0822

Look at these lovely stacks Sam has treated us to—

  • 1a. [Something that goes from a pit to your stomach?], BBQ SANDWICH. Barbecue pit, that is.
  • 15a. [It has billions of barrels], SAUDI ARABIA. Plays nicely with all those consonants in the answer above it. Note, too, the Arabic IBN crossing.
  • 17a. [One may tell a conductor to slow down], TRAIN SIGNAL. I had GO TO WAR, and then MAKE WAR for 8d, which made me think this would be some sort of KNOB.
  • 60a. [Pill holder], BLISTER PACK. I hate blister packs and wish they’d just put the dang pills in a small bottle already. Great entry, though.
  • 65a. [Member of a “great” quintet], LAKE ONTARIO.
  • 67a. [Mideast president who wrote “The Battle for Peace,” 1981], EZER WEIZMAN. Sure, I learned about this guy from crosswords, but he’s got two Z’s in his name that are the ends of their crossing words.

Other good stuff includes FRANK GEHRY, “IT’S MAGIC,” DEEP THROAT (with *****H*OAT in place, I wanted TRENCH COAT), BAR-HOPS, WAGE WAR, HIBACHI, HOMONYM, and ST. LUCIA. I do, however, prefer to call 14d. [Cache for cash, say] a homophone (sound-alikes spelled differently) and reserve HOMONYM for words like pole (as in a wooden rod) and pole (as in one end of a magnet), separately derived words with different etymologies that wound up being spelled the same.

No idea about this DRY-FARM (45d. [Raise crops on the Plains, maybe]). Apparently it involves planting drought-resistant crops and conserving water … and maybe this is something they ought to try in California.

Nice to see 31d. [T. S. of literature], GARP—a character memorably portrayed by the late Robin Williams in his first dramatic film role. I read the Irving novel in high school.

Mild party foul for ENAMORS crossing TE AMO, since the AMO(R) portion means “love” in both cases. But can you have too much love, really? Oh, wait. There’s also Latin AMAT, so the answer is yes, you can have too much love. Ho-o-o-oly cats, there’s AMIGA as well.

Not in love with SDI, EDEL, INO, DST, SAO, and B-STARS, but that’s not too long a list of “meh” answers.

3.75 stars. It was 4 until I realized how many AM- cognates were lurking in the puzzle.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Curt Cases”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.22.14: "Curt Cases"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.22.14: “Curt Cases”

Happy Friday everybody!

Last day here in Connecticut, and the weather’s cleared nicely after a wet start. I definitely was all wet when trying to get a foothold in this very nice puzzle, authored by Mr. Patrick Jordan. Never really did get a grasp of the theme until I finished the puzzle, but I guess each of words at the end of each theme answer are synonyms to the word “curt.” Or, to put it another way, each of the words at the end of each theme answer are words that would not be used to describe me, even on my worst days!

  • BILLY GOATS GRUFF: (20A: Troll’s intended victims, in a kiddie lit classic]) – I’m not the best at children’s literature trivia, to be honest, so this was a tough one for me.
  • EMILY BLUNT: (36A: [“The Devil Wears Prada” actress])
  • IN THE ROUGH: (42A: [Yet to be refined]) – The three words that describe my near non-existent golf game.
  • FROM STEM TO STERN: (56A: [Thoroughly])

Much tougher puzzle for me than probably most of you, in part because, as I mentioned I’m not the best at kiddie lit and took me a while to get BILLY GOATS GRUFF. Not only that, but the awesome, yet challenging, entries of ÉTAGÈRE (5D: [Open-shelved furniture piece]) and SCHLEMIEL (35D: [Luckless bungler]) made my mind do a lot of work. Haven’t come across some Yiddish in a grid in a while, and the Laverne & Shirley theme only came into my head afterwards, which might have helped me out. HOMONYM was also a nice piece of work in the grid (44A: [“Two,” to “too”])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROLLIE (28A: [Baseball Hall of Famer Fingers]) – Rollie Fingers, owner of one of the most famous handlebar mustaches, was a pioneering pitcher in the Major Leagues who became the first true modern-day closer. Fingers was an integral member of the Oakland Athletics teams that won three consecutive World Series, from 1972-1974. The seven-time All-Star was named MVP of the 1974 World Series, and also led the American League in saves three times. Fingers was inducted into Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Have a great weekend everybody!!

Take care!


Tom McCoy’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 40822

LA Times 40822

I’m on record as not being enamored of definition themes. This is typical of the genre with 4x15s (they’re always 15’s!) and the central definition MERCURY running down and intersecting two answers. The last answer is DIVINEMESSENGER (the Roman god) and is where NEIGHBOROFVENUS (the planet) and BAROMETERFILLER (the metal) get their names. I presume ROCKSTARFREDDIE took his name from one of these too… Distinct meanings, but entwined etymologies; on the other hand, it’s a longer definition than usual.

It’s an intricately designed grid, high in 3-letter answers, if that counts for anything. Actually, given the constraints, ther’es a surprising amount of colour here: ESCAPEKEY is nice, FYODOR is a fun name, as is KENOBI and there’s also a PEACOCK showing off right in the centre!

A couple of small areas were unusually thorny for me today, despite an overall typical time. [“Pleeeeease?”], AWCMON was nigh “im-parse-able” for me, and, in desperation, I tried AWW and AWE MOM. Also in that area was [Claylike], BOLAR – even with all the letters there I was skeptical of that being correct! It is a word. Similarly, with [Prefix meaning “half”] I wanted it to be either HEMI or SEMI, forgetting about DEMI!

2.75 Stars

David Levinson Wilk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Series Final(e)” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/22/14 • "Series Final(e)" • Fri • Wilk • solution

WSJ • 8/22/14 • “Series Final(e)” • Fri • Wilk • solution

Solved this one in the middle of the night, so it’s a bit hazy. Walk with me as I see if there’s more to the theme than I could discern then. As far as I could tell then, it was the titles of television programs in which an occurrence of the letter ‘e’ is replaced by another letter.

  • 23a. [Series about a couple going for a stroll?] THE WALKING DYAD (… Dead).
  • 30a. [Series that introduces a goody-two-shoes?] MEET THE PRISS (… Priss).
  • 40a. [Series about a sport with really big teams?] GAME OF THRONGS (… Thrones).
  • 54a. [Series about a coffee shop’s popular convenience?] THE GOOD WIFI (… Wife).
  • 62a. [Series about a capable blood drawer?] THE PRICK IS RIGHT (… Price …).
  • 74a. [Series about a hairless cow?] JERSEY SHORN (… Shore).
  • 85a. [Series about clockmakers?] LET’S MAKE A DIAL (… Deal).
  • 94a. [Series about the Mideast’s economy?] THE RIAL WORLD (… Real …).
  • 106a. [Series about the owner of an always broken elevator?] MY SO-CALLED LIFT (… Life).

budorcasSo. The supplanted ‘e’ is neither the last letter of the original title nor is the replacement specific to the final word of the title, so I’m having trouble fully appreciating the title. Perhaps it’s simply less than I want it to be.

As for the theme itself, there’s good variety in the shows themselves: new ones, venerable stalwarts, a quirky cult series … dramas, game shows, ‘reality’ shows, a news program. Technically, I like that the ‘e’ isn’t always replaced with another vowel. Further, the transmuted titles are all fairly entertaining.


    • Some meaty long downs, even if I wasn’t familiar with 17d [Speed skater who won gold at the 2010 Olympics] SHANI DAVIS. Plus EVA PERON and FROM MEMORY.
    • 92d AW, C’MON looks pretty zany in-grid but I really like it.
    • 21a [Lacking in variety] ONE-NOTE. The jazz standard “One Note Samba” was written by the prolific Antonio Carlos Jobim. Here’s Dizzy GILLESPIE [Contemporary of Parker and Monk] (100a) playing it live in 1965:

Nice stacking and good flow throughout the grid. Good puzzle, but nothing special.

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19 Responses to Friday, August 22, 2014

  1. cyberdiva says:

    I’m not happy with AMIGA as Juan’s sweetheart (54A). As far as I know, AMIGA has connotations in Spanish very similar to “friend” in English. I’ve never heard someone say AMIGA when they meant that the person was more than a friend. The word they’ve used is NOVIA.

    • Huda says:

      it’s interesting that the concept of friendship has been extended to the meaning of lover or love interest in so many languages–obviously in the English girlfriend/boyfriend, in French although they usually modify it as in “petite amie’ and even in Arabic but I think that this is a relatively new addition, based on the Western meaning. So, it’s cool to know that the usage does not seem to be correct in Spanish!

      • Papa john says:

        I married my second wife in a San Diego chapel called Los Novios — The Sweethearts.

      • bonekrusher says:

        I do really appreciate that in Spanish, there is the verb “querer” which means “to love” in the sense of the generic love that we have for friends, hobbies, food, etc. And then there is “amar” which is “to love” specifically for romantic relationships.

        So Spanish speakers are spared the stupid-sounding turn-down of “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you”

  2. Gareth says:

    I also went through GOTOWAR then MAKEWAR before WAGE! The top-left was the hardest, never heard of a BBQSANDWICH and also forgot AINGE from other crosswords. FRANKGEHRY, DEEPTHROAT, DRYFARM and BLISTERPACK were my favourites… My error was PAx. I admit WEIXMAN is somewhat improbable as a surname, but hey.

  3. pannonica says:

    Also noticed the repeated Latin love, as well as the clue/fill duplication of 38d [Bar necessities] and 2d BARHOPS. Isn’t stating a preference for homophone over homonym being overly gentle, as one is accurate and the other is inaccurate for the word pair in question. I mean, how often do you see homograph used?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The Oxford dictionaries give two meanings for homonym, the traditional pole/pole one and also the cash/cache homophone dealio. Hence the gentleness, since a reputable dictionary acknowledges that the word’s been (mis)applied for awhile.

  4. Matt says:

    Maybe you know this, but there’s a little trick to getting a pill out of a blister– you push on the top of the blister and force the pill out the bottom through the thin foil on the underside of the pack.

    Nice NYT puzzle, though the clues seemed a bit tricky for a Friday.

  5. David L says:

    Pedantry alert: if a G is a thousand dollars, then a G squared is a million square dollars, of which there is no such thing (point being that one does not use G to mean just the number one thousand, at least not in my experience).

    Bonus pedantry item: in what way is a GENE a replicator? Genes don’t replicate other things, nor do they replicate themselves, at least not without considerable biomolecular assistance.

    • Huda says:

      David L, I’m thinking they’re referring to DNA replication, the critical step in inheritance. The expression “DNA replication” is much more common than GENE replication, but I think the clue is appropriately Fridayish.

      • David L says:

        Thanks, Huda. You know more about this than I do, and while I agree that DNA replication or (maybe) gene replication is a thing, calling either DNA or genes “replicators” seems like an odd contortion of language.

        I’m torn, as often, between being pleased that there are some sciencey items in the puzzle versus being irked that the cluing frequently seems to have been derived from a quick glance at a wikipedia entry.

  6. Katy says:

    I kind of loved BSTARS. I started out with BLACKS, from the Harry Potter series, because of Regulus A Black and Bellatrix Lestrange née Black. Took me a long time to recover from that, because I just couldn’t fathom that there could be a different answer to something so specific.

  7. CY Hollander says:

    I thought ROLLE/AINGE and EDEL/D-CON were both rather unfair crossings of proper nouns. I guessed right on the E, but not the D.

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