Saturday, August 30, 2014

Newsday eightish (Amy) 
NYT 5:25 (Amy) 
LAT 4:29 (Andy) 
CS 11:57 (Ade) 

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 30 14, no. 0830

NY Times crossword solution, 8 30 14, no. 0830

Fairly short solving time for a Saturday NYT for me, despite a few things I hadn’t known at all:

  • 1a. [___ Street, London’s onetime equivalent to New York’s Wall Street], LOMBARD. 
  • 8a. [Lurid nightspot], GO-GO BAR. Is that a thing? I asked my husband to fill in the blank, “go-go __.” He did come up with “bar” after a few other words.
  • 15a. [Synthetic purplish colorant], AZO BLUE. I know (largely thanks to crosswords) that there are azo dyes. Didn’t know AZO BLUE was a thing.

And now, categories of fill!

  • Scrabbly stuff: AZO BLUE and ZZZQUIL crossing LAZARUS, OZZFEST, and MOZILLA; JUNK ART; FUJITSU; and PLAYTEX crossing TRIPLEX. PLAYTEX is clued [Onetime “Lifts and separates” sloganeer]; just once, I wish the newspaper crosswords weren’t terrified of menstruation because I wager far more women use Playtex’s tampons than their bras. If we can have an OVARY
  • From the land of hip-hop: GANGSTA rap and TONE LOC. Now, rap grumblers, you can’t complain about the “Funky Cold Medina” clue. The song came out a quarter of a century ago!
  • Freshest fill: ZZZQUIL (… which Brendan Quigley used in September 2012 and Frank Longo used the following month), U.S. LAW (which I may or may not like as fill), JUNK ART (I could make that, I know I could!), Mr. Osbourne’s OZZFEST, IPAD APP, YASMINE Bleeth (she was just featured in a Sporcle quiz of celebs with unusual first names), MOZILLA, ATOM ANT.
  • Oldest things in the puzzle: 57a. [Mercury’s winged sandals], TALARIA; and 59a. [Outlook alternative], AOL MAIL.
  • Least impressive bits: A LUI, -IDE, SPONGER‘s -ER.

Four stars from me.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 08.30.14 by Martin Ashwood-Smith

LAT Puzzle 08.30.14 by Martin Ashwood-Smith

The rare 15×16 LAT, to accommodate MAS’s signature quad stack. A couple of quad-stack chestnuts appear in this one: PEER ASSESSMENTS and while INTEREST PAYMENT is new, phrases containing the word “interest” are old hat. WILD GOOSE CHASES is very nice. I’m not sure about SPARE THE DETAILS as a stand-alone phrase. SPARE ME THE DETAILS, I’LL SPARE YOU THE DETAILS, and SPARE NO DETAIL all sound better to my ear, but none of those is 15 letters long. Of the crossings, the least optimal fill is DEPS (short for deposits, presumably, though “passbook” as used in the clue hit its peak usage in the early 1980s according to Google Ngram Viewer), the plural PSSTS, and the old crossword standbys ESTE and ECASH.

In the NW, I have to confess that I still have no idea what the clue for 1d, LISTS [Joggers of a sort] means in this context. Would have been a DNF if not for the fact that ILYA sure does look more like a name than anything else with the pattern ?LYA. DAYBOARDER [Certain prep schooler] was new to me, but its meaning is fairly self-evident. I’m a NYC resident, but not a hip/cool one, so I’m only fleetingly familiar with THE BITTER END. I’d probably know it better if I’d gone to NYU. I suspect this was challenging for non-residents, though the phrase itself is inferable. Also, what’s A TO doing up there with the clue [Volume One words, perhaps]? This certainly has to be clued as a partial, right? Like, there’s not an encyclopedia out there whose Volume One is “A to”?

OVETT [British miler Steve] is a very challenging name if you were not into track and field in 1980. OPA [WWII cost stabilizing agcy.] is just a random TLA to me. Needed every crossing. Google tells me it was the Office of Price Administration.

Thank Venus for BANANARAMA in the SW; otherwise I might have been solving this puzzle all cruel summer. SPEED CHESS is also a lovely answer, and came to me shortly thereafter. Never heard of NOE Valley in California; the only NOE I’ve heard of is the Fromental Halévy opera, later completed by Bizet (back me up on this one, Brad Wilber!).

THYMINE and AA MEETINGS were nice answers, and helped me break into the SE. Smooth sailing from there.

I’ve expressed before that I tend to find quad stacks less pleasing to solve due to the compromises in the surrounding fill they require. But, I think people who like quad stacks will like this one just fine too. Until next week!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 8 30 14 "Saturday Stumper" by Brad Wilber

Newsday crossword solution, 8 30 14 “Saturday Stumper” by Brad Wilber

I could’ve sworn I clicked the “start” button for the timer but apparently I missed it because my finishing time was 00:00. Brad’s puzzle was far less vexing and intractable than many a recent Stumper, so I’d guess it was in the 8-minute range.

My internet connection has been spotty of late (speed of 125 Mbps when it works, or 0 Mbps when it’s in a mood) so I’ll be brief here.



Fine clues:

  • 26a. [Crumpled], GAVE (as in “gave way”).
  • 34a. [Dental work?], CLAIM FORM.
  • 53a. [Birch-beer brand of yore], NEHI. Sodapop + yore = NEHI, a crossword law. The trick is recognizing that birch beer is a sodapop and not caring that Nehi pop is still sold.
  • 58a. [Bottle’s non-liquid contents], MODEL SHIP.
  • 11d. [It might prompt a flush to go down], I CALL. This is about poker and not poop.
  • 23d. [Plotter’s creation], GRAPH.

Did not know this term: 28d. [“To know me is to love me” starter], VERBAL NOUN.

Disputed clue: 6d. [Skin-care lotion], TONER. Toner is a clear liquid, not a lotion. Lotion is defined as a “thick, smooth liquid.” Ain’t nothing thick about toner.

Four stars. Over and out.


Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Snow Job”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.30.14: "Snow Job"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.30.14: “Snow Job”

Hello everybody, and I hope you’re having a very good start to your Saturday!

It’s definitely still the summer, but today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, takes us into the winter months for a bit.  In it, each of the five theme answers multiple-word terms in which the first word is a word that also can immediately follow the word “snow.”  

  • MAN FRIDAY: ([17A: Male personal assistant])
  • GLOBE THEATER: ([23A: Shakespearean showplace reconstructed by actor Sam Wanamaker])
  • TIRE OUT: ([38A: Lose vim and vigor])
  • BALL BEARINGS: ([50A: Antifriction machine parts])
  • FORT MYERS: ([62A: Florida city where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had winter estates]) – Also, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins.

Love the contrast between the crossings at the very top, with BLURB (1A: [Words of praise on a book jacket]) and BOMB (1D: Big flop]). We see “rues” in grids as an entry over and over, but definitely the first time I’ve come across ROUÉS, in plural form, in a grid (30A: Lotharios]). Coincidence that NO CLASS (10D: [Lack of good manners]) lined up perfectly with IN STYLE (46D: [Fashionable]) going down the grid? Now I’m not a huge classic rock historian by any means, but I’m pretty sure that “Reason to Believe” was the Side A in relation to SIDE B referenced in this puzzle (6D: [Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” was one]). Any Rod Stewart fans want to chime in to confirm this for me before I go looking it up and proving myself to be a classic rock genius/doofus?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RUST (28D: [Sign of corrosion]) – Many people may not remember this, but there was a time in our lives when the New England Patriots were not a good football team. And by “not a good football team,” I mean the worst of the worst!  The 1990 season was the franchise’s nadir (until “Spygate”) as the team, led by first-year head coach Rod RUST, went 1-15 and became only the third team in NFL history at the time to lose 15 of 16 regular-season games. That was Rust’s one and only season in charge of the Patriots.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Saturday, August 30, 2014

  1. Slowpoke Rodriguez says:

    Love the long stuff in MAS’s LAT today and ever so grateful to get an extra row of it.

    • howlinwolf says:

      I also enjoyed today’s LAT, but I must say MAS’s companion puzzle, “Stack Options”, was more interesting and challenging, and…….more stacked. I also admit to being curious as to why one puzzle was selected over the other for the LAT.

      • Martin says:

        These crosswords were not constructed in the same time period. I think the LAT was constructed about two years ago, and the double-quad stack more recently. So it wasn’t a question of choosing one over the other, because the other didn’t exist at the time. (I’ll talk a bit more about the double-stack a bit later if anyone’s interested, because I’d be spoiling the puzzle for people who haven’t solved it yet.)



  2. Flinty Steve says:

    In the NYT puzzle, is UPCCODE okay? Isn’t it a redundancy on the order of “ATM machine” and “PIN number”? Would we be happy with either of those? Or does it qualify through the “you know what it means, right?” test?

  3. Martin says:

    Words like UPC CODE (and ATM MACHINE), while redundant are perfectly OK, because they’re 100% in the language.


  4. Huda says:

    NYT: It’s really interesting for me to solve the puzzle at night and look at it the next morning. I often look at an entry that I struggled to piece together and think: Who was that again? The opera star? A 20’s radio host? Some creature that lives in Siberia? And then there are days like today, when you read in both directions and it all makes sense, it’s in English! And sometimes, an entry makes me smile. Usually, for me, that’s Patrick Berry. Today, it’s Steinberg. I wish I could go back and add an extra half point to my already very high rating, just for that! Very elegant and deftly done. Thank you!

  5. Andy says:

    Martin, perhaps you could enlighten me about what the clue for 1-down in today’s LAT means?

  6. Brad says:

    It’s a stretch, but I took 1D to mean that LISTS jog the memory.

  7. Martin says:

    Yep… LISTS can most certainly be memory joggers. A hard clue for sure. Also, the “of a sort” part of the clue should give you a hint to think outside of the box (I hope).


    • Avg Solvr says:

      Enjoyed your LAT, MAS, but is a list really a memory jogger? A memory jogger is something that reminds you of the thing you’ve forgotten, it’s not the thing itself which presumably would be written on the list, no?

      • Huda says:

        If you’re like me, you try to remember things unaided, and never look at a list you’ve made unless you have a feeling you’ve forgotten something. Then the list is used to jog your memory. I do this for all kinds of stuff, from food shopping to flow of points for a lecture. Most of the time, I never even glance at the list (and sometimes I regret it :).

        • Avg Solvr says:

          I guess I don’t understand what “jog your memory” means. If I forget I need to buy bread and a list says “buy bread” I wouldn’t put it that the list “jogged my memory.” If I finally remember meeting someone (“Oh, yeah. How are you?”) by that person telling me things that accompanied that meeting that would be jogging my memory.

  8. Full disclosure: MAS is a good friend and my website is hosting his “bonus” puzzle, a 15×15 double quad called “Stack Options.”

    First of all, no surprise about the need for an extra row if there is a single quad (as in today’s Los Angeles Times)– that’s a requirement of symmetry.

    Second, why call out ESTE? According to Jim Horne’s invaluable, ESTE has been used 159 times during the Shortz era. Two of the past three occurrences were Tuesday/Monday by today’s New York Times constructor, David Steinberg. Others who have put ESTE into their recent grids reads like a who’s who of the most admired constructors in the field.

  9. Martin says:

    Andy: PEERASSESSMENTS is not “quadstack chestnut”. In fact it has never appeared in a NYT quadstack ever (and the NYT had published more quadstacks by far than any other venue). However it has appeared three times in the NYT, all in triple-stacks, none by me.

    Also ESTE is hardly a casualty of quadstacks, since it appears so often in “regular” puzzles. ESTE is quite simply a casualty of crosswords in general.


    • Andy says:

      Thanks all for the explanation of the LISTS clue. It’s a good one, and tough! Clearly I needed a jogger of sorts to understand it.

      Martin, you’re right. “Quad-stack chestnut” was a misnomer (there may not even be such a thing, given the relatively recent advent of quad stacks). I do think it’s reached X-stack chestnut status, though.

      Re: ESTE, I don’t think I ever said it was a casualty of quad stacks, just that it was an “old crossword standby.” I think that’s supported by the evidence George provided from xwordinfo. It has appeared quite a lot in crosswords, and (at least in my experience) very little outside of crosswords. I brought it up because in my opinion, it was one of the weaker entries gluing the quad stack together. I suppose I could just as easily have called out OTOES for the same reason. They’re entries I would avoid if possible (for reasons Amy’s already explained), but challenging constructions like quad stacks make that less possible.

      To clarify, there are many things to recommend this puzzle. It is one of the cleanest quad stacks I’ve solved, on top of which the triple stack corners have some really nice stuff. Most people like to solve them (this one’s verging on a 4-star average rating, which is quite high for a Saturday LAT), and it’s a change of pace from the usual Saturday LAT fare.

      I don’t think anyone will disagree that Martin is the master of the quad stack, and even since he’s been constructing them, they’ve gotten much better. I will be eager to see how much cleaner quad stacks can get, or which lively 15s can be included in the future.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    ESTE is the sort of fill that repels newbies and makes them think “I can’t do crosswords.” I don’t think it has any place in the Monday and Tuesday NYT. Certainly you are unlikely to find the word in the Monday through Wednesday Newsday puzzles (if not also Thursday, Friday, and Sunday). Zero appearances in the nearly 1,000 Daily Celebrity Crossword puzzles to date (vs. 13 in the NYT in the same period)—if a puzzle’s supposed to be easy, ESTE is simply not suitable.

    Note that one of those recent early-week Steinberg puzzles is actually old—he started constructing the puzzle when he was 14. I’ll bet David tries a lot harder to keep ESTE out of his more recent grids, now that he’s been honing his grid-filling skills for a few years.

  11. Martin says:

    Amy, I think we all try hard to keep ESTE out of our grids. At least many of us do.


  12. Gareth says:

    That top-left in the NYT is really neat! ZZZQUIL is only vaguely familiar but it looks nuts! If you’re going to make a 7-heavy themeless this is the way to go! Lots of great word choices, from TALARIA to ROSANNE (This song of hers is amazing!), OZZFEST and GOGOBAR!

    As usual the interesing parts of the LA Times are mostly found outside of the quad stack. Odd coincidence. BANANARAMA & SPEEDCHESS at the bottom and AVOCADOPIT/SENATERACE/THEBITTEREND. AAMEETINGS extending into the quad stack is good though. WILDGOOSECHASES is the closest to a long seed among the four phrases and then crossing them are DEPS, ECASH and PSSTS. Don’t get me wrong, this as good as anyone can fill a quad stack (seriously, most of us struggle enough with triples), but then that’s kind of the point…

  13. Greg says:

    Nice puzzle, and, as a bonus, a pangram.

Comments are closed.