Saturday, September 6, 2014

Newsday 12:35, 2 Googles (Amy) 
NYT 5:00 (Amy) 
LAT 3:57 (Andy) 
CS 14:24 (Ade) 

James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 6 14, no. 0906

NY Times crossword solution, 9 6 14, no. 0906

Lots of zippy fill in today’s puzzle, but the cluing seemed a tad on the easy side for a Saturday. Here are the crispiest bits:

  • 1a. [Big chain closed on Sundays], CHICK-FIL-A. Oddly, the fast food chain styles it Chick-fil-A, with a little F, big A. Weird choice.
  • 15a. [Version of a song that’s shorter or cleaner than the original], RADIO EDIT. Such as “Forget You,” the radio edit of CeeLo Green’s “F*ck You,” which we can scarcely like anymore because he ruined everything with his rape/consent remarks.
  • 24a. [Predigital beeper?], ROAD RUNNER. So, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote’s nemesis. What’s the clue mean? That Road Runner, who “meeps,” is a beeper that predates the now largely obsolete electronic beeper/pager? Or that he’s an animated critter who beeps and predates digital animation? Or both? (Instead of paging someone, now you PING them—36a. [Contact briefly electronically], via a quick text, IM, email, or other message.)
  • 48a. [Use a two-digit confirmation code?], PINKY-SWEAR. Love it!
  • 57a. [One may soak a competitor], SQUIRT GUN. This is what I grew up calling the toy, not “water pistol.”
  • 2d. [It can be a headache], HANGOVER. Never did see any of the movies in that franchise.
  • 6d. [Completer of a career Grand Slam in 2009], FEDERER. Roger was wearing black crew socks in Thursday night’s US Open match. Black socks with shorts: Is that a thing now? My son sports this look routinely, and I saw a guy biking with shorts and black socks this afternoon.
  • 10d. [Prime piece], MAGNUM OPUS. Now, 43d. [Leitmotif settings] clues OPERAS, and OPERA doubles as the plural of OPUS.
  • 38d. [“Most seeming-virtuous queen,” in Shakespeare], GERTRUDE. Hamlet’s mama.

I dispute the clue for 44d. TIN HAT. [Stereotypical wear for the paranoid] clues tin-foil hat. TIN HAT is right there in the dictionary as a British term for a soldier’s steel helmet.

41a. [You might strain to produce them] is such a surprising clue. I had *UR**S and could only think of a 5-letter word, not a 6. (PUREES turned out to be the answer.)

Blah bits include variant spelling YEH (meaning “yeah”), –OSE, OTO, partials OR I and A RAP, and KONY (5d. [“___ 2012” (viral video)]—yeah, I think we can go ahead and forget this one now … and I bet the constructor made the puzzle when KONY was still an active thing people were talking about).

Four stars from me.

Updated Saturday morning:

Don Gagliardo’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 09.06.14 by Don Gagliardo

LAT Puzzle 09.06.14 by Don Gagliardo

Lots to like about this one! We’ve got:

  • 7d, ROCKET J. SQUIRREL [Flying cartoon hero, formally]. Better known as Rocky, of “Rocky & Bullwinkle” fame. Lots of fun letters to include in a central themeless entry. Rocky is very rarely referred to by his full name, kind of like THEODORE (“Beaver”) CLEAVER. Which, I’m just finding out, also appeared in a puzzle once, though that was a themed 2001 CS puzzle by Fred Piscop, in which the other themers were SIMON BOLIVAR and ALVIN TOFFLER. A more modern puzzle with that theme might choose SIMON BAKER (to avoid the pronunciation discrepancy) and the more famous ALVIN AILEY. I might also choose THEODORE DREISER. But I digress. Rocket J. Squirrel is fine, if a bit formal.
  • Crossing that 15 are 31a, BAZOOKA JOE [Gang leader of old comics] and 43a, LIQUORED UP [Stewed]. Excellent entries with nice clues. I suppose if you’ve never heard of Bazooka Joe, the “J” in ROCKET J. SQUIRREL could have been a blind crossing.
  • Continuing the comics/animation theme, CATWOMAN [1992 Michelle Pfeiffer role] appears in the NE.
  • Lots of Scrabbly letters in the fun entries BAMBOOZLE [Hoodwink], UNDERBAKE [Cook poorly, in a way], EMPTY NEST [1980s-’90s Richard Mulligan sitcom], and KAHUNAS [Hawaiian priests]. This one’s not a pangram though, since there’s no X.
  • In case you didn’t know, CINNABAR is a [Common ore of mercury].
  • Lovely entry at 1d, HE’S A REBEL [1962 Crystals album with cover art of a biker]. If you still haven’t seen 20 Feet from Stardom, the 2014 Best Documentary Oscar winner, go watch it ASAP. The lead vocalist on “He’s a Rebel,” Darlene Love, is one of the superb backup singers highlighted in the film, and she provides some fascinating insight as to how “He’s a Rebel” was made.
  • 2d, “AS IF I CARE” [“Whatever”] is another gem of an entry.

DELANO has been clued as the California city many times, but for some reason it felt new to me. Weirdly for me, I also struggled with the grammar term ADNOUN [“Free,” in “land of the free”]. As you might expect, it means roughly “an adjective acting as a noun,” which is how I guessed it correctly. Maybe I used to know that?

Otherwise, not a particularly challenging solve, but a very enjoyable one. Perhaps the crossing of ESALEN [Big Sur retreat] and ILO [Workers’ rights gp. since 1919] will give some solvers trouble, but other than that, pretty smooth sailing. 4.1 stars. Until next week!

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 9 6 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 9 6 14 “Saturday Stumper”

Well! I plowed through three quarters of the puzzle in about 5 minutes, but the remaining corner (the northwest one) took a good 7 minutes, and that was with a couple Googles to gain footholds. I had 6d AN I and 7D LECARRE, and I had 40a ENGLISH LIT. That was it. None of the clues inside that section yielded easily. I suspected 5d. [Absolutely unused, in eBay lingo] might be something like NIB, short for “new in box,” but I don’t think I’ve seen the abbreviation so I hesitated to fill that in. And everything else! The few guesses I had turned out to be wrong (OOPS instead of I’M OK at 4d, FIAT instead of LEVY for 21a) and were no help at all.

What I looked up were as follows:

  • 18a. [“__ Jubilee” (Carl Perkins’ network TV debut], OZARK. Never heard of it, didn’t know Perkins had any connection to the Ozarks.
  • 16d. [What can be edited with the Avogadro app], MOLECULE. You can edit molecules??

Tricky crossing reported to me:

  • 45a. [Oscar real-life role of 1996], HELFGOTT. David Helfgott, pianist in Shine. Played by Geoffrey Rush.
  • 33d. [Second NAACP president], SPINGARN. The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is named in his honor, and it’s been awarded to many notable individuals. If you don’t know these names, good luck to you in guessing that it’s a G in that crossing.

Favorite fill:

  • 40a. ENGLISH LIT. My major, and Emma Watson’s. Stan made a Daily Celebrity Crossword this summer featuring EMMA WATSON and ENGLISH LIT to mark her graduation from Brown.
  • 26d. BLUE VELVET, [“Rolling Stone” called it “a doleful prom anthem”]. Didn’t know it was a song before it was a Lynch movie.
  • 22d. APGAR SCORES, [Newborns’ health measures]. You might think it’s an acronym for Appearance (skin color), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (reflex irritability), Activity (muscle tone), and Respiration, but that’s actually an after-the-fact “backronym.” Anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar devised the scoring system.

Fun clues:

  • 9d. [Jon Stewart’s “world passing around notes in a classroom”], INTERNET.
  • 24a. [Food tested as cannon ammunition on “Mythbusters”], EDAM. Ball o’ wax filled with cheese.

Unfavorite: 16a. [Of bugs], MICROBIC. I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered this particular word form. Microbial is far more common.

3.9 stars from me. Did you find the puzzle to be uniformly tough throughout, or were you also stuck in one corner?

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sound Effects”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.06.14: "Sound Effects"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.06.14: “Sound Effects”

Hello everyone! How’s your Saturday going so far?

Today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, allows us to have fun some with homonyms, this time with the word raze…and rays…and raise. Two of the words come at the beginning of the entry, and at the end of the entry for the other.

    • RAZE TO THE GROUND: ([17A: Level])
    • SOAK UP THE RAYS: ([36A: Tan])
    • RAISE THE TITANIC: ([56A: 1980 movie based on a Clive Cussler best seller]) – Guess there was no way to clue this in one word, as with the other two theme answer clues.

Got stuck for a while at the top, when I put in LEAFS for the Toronto clue at 9-Down and didn’t change it.  The correct answer is in the “sports…smarter” section, and committed self-flagellation once it finally came to my mind.  Continuing with the Canadian theme, seeing BAZAAR did make me think of the sketch show Bizarre, which I believe originated out of Canada, and all of the fun I had watching Super Dave Osborne, the mock stuntman that always failed miserably in his stunts (3D: [Street market]).  Not sure too many four-to-six year-old kids were watching Bizarre in my neighborhood, but I know I was.  Yes, it was ADULTERY that earned the stigma of walking around town with a scarlet letter A, but when I first read that in the book, I thought it was cool to walk around with that since my name started with the same letter (11D: [Hester Prynne’s sin]).  After I knew what adultery was, then I said, “never mind.”  I think I’m one of the few people that spell it GEEZ instead of JEEZ (8D: [“Shucks!”]).  Also liked SORTIES as an entry as well, right down the middle of the grid (26D: [Military missions]).  There was a lot of juiciness with the fill and it was a fun solve, except for getting hung up with the Canadian sports team, which was….

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARGOS (9D: [Toronto team, familiarly]) – The Toronto Argonauts are a professional football franchise in the Canadian Football League, and the oldest existing pro sports team in North America using its original nickname (founded in 1873). The Argos have won more Grey Cups – the championship trophy awarded to the winner of the Grey Cup, which is the name of the championship game in the CFL – than any other franchise in the league, with 16 triumphs. They last won the Grey Cup in 2012.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge…well, if I can get my head out of the opening Sunday of the NFL season!! I kid, of course…I think.

Take care!


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15 Responses to Saturday, September 6, 2014

  1. Nick says:

    Oh, I’m sure thousands of Africans won’t mind if we “forget” about someone who forced innocent children into being soldiers.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Oh, please. It’s not as if the “KONY 2012” filmmakers were entirely neutral and accurate. It’s not as if Kony was the only one to ever conscript children into wars. (ISIS is doing it now.) It’s not as if Kony was still in Uganda when the film was made and demanded that the Ugandan Army do something. It’s not as if one muckraking video that went viral in 2012 is the sum total of the issue.

      For a stunningly beautiful and heartrending look at people living in conflict zones today, don’t miss Humans of New York. Instead of Brandon photographing people he encounters on the streets of NYC, he’s traveling with the UN to places like Erbil, Iraq; Uganda; South Sudan, a refugee camp in Jordan; and Democratic Republic of Congo. Brandon takes pictures of people and shares their answers to interesting questions. So many people who have sustained massive losses in wars and attacks. So many young people who still have hope that they can make the world a better place.

      HONY (shorthand for Humans of New York) beats the heck out of KONY in my book.

      • sbmanion says:

        My father was a POW in WWII. He was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time in the buildup for what became the Battle of the Bulge. His toes on one foot were shot off and he was shot through the fold between his thumb and fingers. I am always thankful that he lived because the soldier who found him and took him to prison was 15 years old.

        Amy, I thought the clues were pretty tough. Only the NW fell quickly for me. I thought it was a great puzzle, but I made at least five confidently inserted but nevertheless wrong entries.


  2. pannonica says:

    PING also predates all those other technologies.

  3. Gareth says:

    NY: Lots of great answers & clues everywhere! Spent most of my time in the bottom-right. It’s amazing how one wrong letter can cause so much havoc! I put ARIP not ARAP and until I changed it nothing would stick! I got that tables or shelves were being used as verbs, but nothing would fit! I called it a WATERGUN FWIW. My grandfather kept his tin hat from WWII. Painted it cream for some reason. He painted everything!

    • Huda says:

      Agreed. Very good puzzle, but I got stuck in the NW. I don’t think we have CHICKFILA in Ann Arbor. I just looked it up and there seems to have been rumors about the possibility of having it on campus? Anyhow, I knew little about it and certainly not how to spell it.
      But the rest was fairly easy to me, with many fun entries.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    I especially enjoyed the Stumper because of le Carré, having just reread a favorite mystery by Amanda Cross, The Imperfect Spy, in which an older woman professor models herself on Smiley and takes on a covert mission incognito. Very engrossing!

  5. Linda says:

    Holy cow. I read mysteries all the time, but missed the one by Amanda Cross. I just googled her and found that Cross is a pseudonym for an actual retired law professor. Not sure if she had an ax to grind or not, but my local branch library has the book, so will head over there this week.

  6. David L says:

    I was in the same position with the Stumper — I had LECARRE and ENGLISHLIT, but everything else in the NW was blank. But I figured 2d had to end in ING, and after trying ***EDON for the end of 1d I hit on ***EDUPON instead, which gave me LON and UPI and CUTE, and that gave me MOLECULE for the Avogadro thing. And then the rest succumbed.

    I assume Avogadro is some sort of software for creating and playing around with molecular models, in which case saying that it edits molecules is a stretch.

  7. Huda says:

    Yes, molecule editors are used in molecular modeling (e.g in 3D) to alter structures and visualize it in space.
    Amy, beyond this in silico form of editing, there is also biological editing of certain molecules. I’m mostly aware of the use of the term in the context of RNA editing, which takes on many forms, but typically involves changes in the sequence of an RNA after it’s been transcribed from the DNA template, so the final sequence is not what you’d expect if you were looking at the gene sequence itself. There are of course many other editing types of changes that can be made to RNA molecules, but they are referred to by their specific names– insertions, deletions, splicing… I’m waiting for some late week clue for RNA that says: “It can be edited…”

  8. mnemonica says:

    You can slice my Stumper grid in half horizontally. The bottom half fell cleanly and quickly, including partial answers “scores” from Apgar scores, “hat” from party hat, “trip” from side trip and “ists” from whatever musician that was going to be. The top half is a freakin’ mess. Thanks to my life with a country music historian, I was able to guess “Ozark,” but it didn’t help.

  9. golfballman says:

    @ Huda GO BLUE

  10. GG says:

    NYT: Isn’t “jones” a slang term? If so, “yearn” as the answer seems a disconnect.

  11. Howard B says:

    Actually had less trouble with the Stumper today, but ye gods, the amount of specific, obscure trivia in that thing was huge even by Stumper standards – especially the entertainment trivia nuggets. After a certain point it’s like a Quiz Bowl from a circle of hell.
    And I do mean that in a respectful way; the Stumper grids are masterfully designed and clean as always (except for that crossing G, but thank you Spingarn Medal).
    For someone less enthralled with factoids though, it’s quite a grind to complete those clues at times.

  12. Terry says:

    The founder of Chick-fil-A died early this morning. Eerie.

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