Newsday 8:01 (Amy)
NYT 4:56 (Amy)
LAT 2:58 (Andy)
CS 13:07 (Ade)
Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword
Beautiful 70-worder from our only Singaporean constructor (more on his background in C.C.’s 2013 interview at Crossword Corner), although it was a tad easier than I was expecting for a Saturday puzzle.
My favorite fill includes BROMANCE, the word RIBALD, EASY-POUR, DIET COKE, BALZAC, ANNE RICE, “OH, YEAH,” Gollum’s “MY PRECIOUS” (though I think that should really be spelled with some extra S’s), MATRIARCH (my mom’s family lost its matriarch in September, and my mom takes her place now), VACUITY, DURIANS (you can buy them in Singapore, but don’t eat them on public transit), and DERNIER CRI.
Did not know: 42d. [“Veep” actor ___ Whitlock Jr.], ISIAH. Not the only famous ISIAH with that spelling—there’s also Isiah Thomas, retired NBA star.
Five more things:
- 22d. [Burgundy or claret], DARK RED. The colors, not the wines. We all wanted RED WINE to fit, right?
- 32d. [It’s named for a Scand. god of battle], TUES. Named after Tyr. Wish we called it Tyrsday, for maximum confusion with Thursday.
- 25d. [Oodles], A GOB. A tad more British Commonwealth than American, no? And is the plural “gobs” more common than A GOB of anything?
- 46a. [To whom Charles Darwin dedicated “Different Forms of Flowers”], ASA GRAY. We used to get a lot of Gray clues for ASA back in the day. Then partials came along (maybe? is that how it played out?) and we got AS A clues instead.
- 16a. [Green machine], ECOCAR. Still waiting for this word to be bandied about in the real world. I don’t see it outside of crosswords.
Four stars from me. I enjoyed the whole solve.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bleak Outlook”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone!
Hope everyone is doing very well. I think everyone that has had a chance to read my entries on here knows that I rarely make negative assessments. Well, I have no choice but to make some negative assessments in this blog, as the theme is just that, with the four theme answers all being Debbie Downer-type statements.
- AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN: (17A: [Negative assessment])
- JUST DOESN’T CUT IT: (27A: [Negative assessment])
- SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE: (47A: [Negative assessment])
- HAS NO REAL CHANCE: (63A: [Negative assessment])
Would PTUI be the sound some people make when solvers come across “etui” in a crossword (52A: [Seed-spitter’s sound])? That sound definitely wouldn’t be made at the sight/sound of a CHORALE, and that entry looks perfect and regal as it’s smack dab in the middle of it all today (40A: [Kind of hymn]). Made a dumb error typing in “unity” instead of UNITE, and that caused an earworm to creep in as I have Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.” song in my head now…which is far from a bad thing, actually (28D: [Labor organizer’s cry]). It’s raining as I’m typing here in New York, so a game of GOLF would definitely be a good walk spoiled when factoring in that weather (1A: [John Daly’s game]). Because of this weather, it’s time to do some at-home workouts and work on defining my SIX PACK abs…yeah, right (46D: [Beer buy])!!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARA (9D: [Former college coach Parseghian]) – One of the greatest coaches in the storied history of Notre Dame football, ARA Parseghian led the Fighting Irish to two national championships during his 11-year tenure in South Bend, one in 1966 and one in 1973. He quit coaching in 1974 and, immediately afterward, embarked on a long broadcasting career on ABC, then CBS. Parseghian was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
There’s some fun stuff in here: URBAN DICTIONARY is kind of fresh, and I like BART SIMPSON, COPACABANA, MARVIN GAYE, CYBERCRIME, DAY TRADER, IPAD APPS and ADOPT-A-PET.
But even with iPad apps (first released in 2010), Urban Dictionary (founded in 1999) and Bart Simpson (first appeared in 1987), this puzzle felt… old. E.g., MY DAD [1963 Top 10 hit for Paul Petersen]? I propose a moratorium on including songs in crosswords that (a) only reached #6 or below (b) more than 50 years ago (c) even if they were sung by the kid from The Donna Reed Show. While we’re in that era, we’ve got MARVIN GAYE crossing the TYMES. Plus, sitting at 1-Across is The ERRAND BOY [1961 Jerry Lewis film, with “The”]. At least JESSE got a fairly fresh clue [Aaron’s role, in “Breaking Bad”].
Plus, a fair amount of meh or ugh fill: a quick glance reveals OYER, CPL, AMCS, MDII, TYMES, RCAS, TYROL, ADUE, RNS, COL, LYTE, COS, ELEM, ETES.
Fine, but not memorable. 3 stars from me. Until next week!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (written as Anna Stiga)
Nice 70-word grid, a hair on the easy end of the Stumper spectrum (meaning still significantly more difficult than the NYT and LAT’s Saturday puzzles).
Round-up of a dozen things:
- 8d. [Playing unusually well], IN A ZONE. I want this to be IN THE ZONE.
- 22a. [Color like khaki], AMBER. Not really. Khaki is cooler, more neutral. Amber is rich, warm, more orangey.
- 32a. [Budget manager’s responsibility], FLEET. As in Budget rental cars.
- 52a. [Food processor], SALIVA. No kitchen is complete without this!
- 57a. [Solitaire, by definition], ONE DIAMOND. Is ONE DIAMOND truly a lexical chunk?
- 59a. [What Brits call “divans”], BOX SPRINGS. I couldn’t find dictionary support for this, just Wikipedia. The Cambridge dictionary says divan also means “UK (also divan bed) a bed consisting of a mattress and a base, with no boards at either end.” This doesn’t seem like an exact match for BOX SPRING at all.
- 4d. [Had a harrowing experience], TILLED. As in “used a harrow to break up the soil.”
- 9d. [Person teaching by example], CITER. Feels too roll-your-own-wordish to me.
- 13d. [Creator of Forbes’ “most valuable fictional character”], AA MILNE. You wanted ROWLING too, didn’t you?
- 14d. [Tough puzzle], STINKER. That one’s new to me. The Oxford dictionaries include a “difficult task” definition, with the following example sentence: “Tackled the crossword yet? It’s a stinker.”
- 48d. [Proprietor of the Clog Talk blog], DRANO. Dammit! I couldn’t think of anything but DANSKO, the shoe company that sells a lot of clogs. Not sure which type of Clog Talk blog would be duller.
- 51d. [Team seen in the “Ocean’s Eleven” remake], SWAT. I don’t like that. It’s a “SWAT team,” not a SWAT that is a team. [Team seen in the Super Bowl], FOOTBALL. Doesn’t work.
My favorite fill here is a rather dry bunch: OBSTETRICS, ZEPPELIN, NAME-DROPPER, BOX SPRINGS.
3.75 stars from me.
Beautiful puzzle. Elegant and spare. And thankfully low on obscure names…
PS. I have never tasted a DURIAN- What’s interesting is trying to read about it and discovering how hard it is to describe a taste. The only way we do it is by analogy, and apparently there is not perfect analogy for them…
I call it a blend of sweet, savory and unsavory.
A perfect specimen achieves a balance of the sweet and fruity, the meaty and the “others.” If not so perfect, the unsavory will predominate.
There is no way to explain this third component in writing without making it sound awful. “Rotten meat,” “onions,” “bad cheese” and “sewage” are descriptions I’ve read. The odd thing is that these descriptions are recognizable in the taste, but as very subtle overtones that provide the complexity that makes durian like no other food. Think of truffle or musk in perfume. If the durian is prime, these “high” flavors and aromas are very wonderful on top of the base fruitiness. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fruit emits mammalian pheromones (the evolutionary driver for these smells is to attract carnivores who transport the seeds to new locations), so arresting is the flavor.
I’ve had durian many times. By far the best was at a little stall at Newton Circus in Singapore. The odd thing is that the only-so-so durians that I get frozen in California are very enjoyable now because they bring back vivid taste and aroma memories of that most wonderful durian in Singapore. Someone (like my wife) tasting a mediocre durian without the history will wretch while a durianophile will react to it as Proust to a petit madeleine.
There are stiff fines for carrying a durian on the Singapore subway system because the “other” predominates in the aroma. But I can see why people risk the fine. It’s a very special fruit.
Thank you Martin. You have come closer to helping me imagine it than anyone else. Of course I’d have to taste it to know.
In Lebanon & Syria, along the Mediterranean coast, there is a food called Shinglish or Shinkleesh, or Shanklish, which is most certainly not a fruit. It’s closer to blue cheese than anything else. But since it’s fermented, it it can vary a great deal in its pungency, and dirty socks is not an uncommon analogy. And yet it’s that pungency that’s attractive and while some people can’t stand it, others love it (I’m among the latter). Your notion of pheromones is interesting as the bases for such attractiveness.
Tangentially related is a new study that finds that a significant loss in the sense of smell in older people is a shockingly good predictor of death within 5 years (with a lot of other variables being controlled for). Smell and associated social interactions is a fascinating dimension of our existence (including the experience of food).
I remember reading how anosmia can be socially crippling and lead to deep depression. This wasn’t in the context of aging, but of course that makes sense as well.
Thanks, Martin, for your description of the durian — new to me! You also might enjoy this:
About four months ago ,my wife and daughter bought some durian candy at the Asian grocery store. So far, five pieces have been eaten (one each for the five family members). We are all adventurous eaters, but let’s just say that the unsavory is predominate in the candy.
I thought Saturday’s was much easier than Friday’s.
I was slowed by SUNDRY instead of VARIED, but other than that, was pretty much on a good wavelength. Excellent puzzle.
Agree – fun mid-length answers, but quite easy. I associate DURIANS with Mauritius thanks to first encountering it in Gerald Durrell’s Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons. MYPRECIOUS was just about worth the price of admission alone. AGOB may be British, but I’ve never heard it used in this neck of the Commonwealth…
I wonder if it’s related to “gobsmacked.”
Does anyone else object to 5D: “Nadir’s opposite” as APOGEE? The opposite of nadir is zenith. The opposite of apogee is perigee.
I also frowned at the use of “dramatically” in 35A: “Decline dramatically”. GO TO RACK AND RUIN is a gradual decline or deterioration due to neglect. To me, dramatic implies flamboyant action.
1A: “Two-man band?” as BROMANCE didn’t sit quite right, either, even with the question mark. Should we infer that any male twosome has romantic or affectionate overtones, or is there some street slang for two-man band that I’m unfamiliar with? Perhaps I don’t fully understand what bromance means.
Otherwise I thought today’s puzzle to be an average Saturday offering, with little zing.
I had the same reaction to APOGEE. The word has an actual meaning that you have to ignore to get the entry right.
You have to ignore meaning 1 and get meaning 2.
I understand that the dictionary is normative for crossword clues. That’s why I said it was my ‘reaction’ rather then saying the clue was wrong.
The only time I considered apogee in a figurative way was when I saw it in a vanity license on a Rolls Royce.
Wikipedia describes a BROMANCE like this: “A bromance is a close non-romantic relationship between two men, a form of affectional or homosocial intimacy.” Just two guys who are good buddies.
I have often wondered if the jock world encompasses bromance. I have remained close friends for my entire life with four or five guys that I played sports with in high school. My nerd friends not so much. With jocks, for the most part in my experience, the friendship is generally related to a continuing love of competition and sports and rarely about feelings. We would do anything for each other and often volunteer to do so (rather than having to be asked), but we rarely consider words like affection, although that is undoubtedly fundamental. I speak to one life long friend every Monday to commiserate about our sorry Buffalo Bills.
The “definitions” found in The Urban Dictionary display as much confusion about the word bromance as I have. The meaning given in About.com says the word is in transition and is now applied to both hetero- and homo-sexual relationships. Aside from what Wikipedia says, most of the definitions I read did include a romantic element in the relationship. Why else bro + romance?
I’m beginning to think that the clue may be a play on the word band. Perhaps it alludes to the meaning of band as in a band of brothers, a coming together of two or more separate entities for a common cause, and not necessarily two musicians, per se. It was the notion that two musicians who played together were, a priori, in a bromance that bothered me.
Fun Times puzzle, except for that bottom-left, which was a total disaster for me :). Part of the issue was the unknown ISIAH, trouble with RIAA, but what made the whole thing a mess (or a goat rodeo, if you choose) was the mystery RIB SAUCE combo. In my neck of the woods, that’s not a phrase. I wanted to put BBQ in there save for the fact it was already referenced in the clue. Never heard that phrase though it’s inferable. Seems easy, but with such a difficult overall corner, there were a lot of dead ends. I needed that RIB to set off the other answers.
Edit: Oh yeah, A GOB and ABOUT TURNS were also unknown phrases here (regional?). Many false starts there. Fresh phrases are fun, but this puzzle had a bit too much roll-your-own or iffy fill for me. Very playful though.
I ran into the same stumbling block with rib sauce. I can’t say I’ve ever heard that phrase. I dive-bombed BBQ, too, but quickly realized the error by the A in ASAGRAY.
Question: Could BBQ be acceptable fill even if barbecue is in the clue? The reverse is often used, as in “Part of USA” cluing UNITED.
It took me forever to give up on HOT SAUCE crossing HAWKS. RIB SAUCE is a bit foreign to my ear, too.
>>>HOT SAUCE crossing HAWKS<<<
Yeah, that would be hard to give up, especially since the clue for RAMBO; “Fanatically militant sort” is, yet, another clue that can be questioned. In my opinion, HAWK actually fits that better that RAMBO, which is more about violent aggressiveness and single-mindedness in achieving an objective, an attempt at irrational, even suicidal, heroism. Its militant aspect is only in the use of weapons and tactics. It connotes a rebellious, insubordinate ego, the antithesis of a military sort.
Hot sauce is much more familiar to me than rib sauce and can certainly cause a stain as easily.
The SW did me in. I couldn’t get FARADAY out of my head, for ASAGRAY, even though it made no sense. Didn’t know ISIAH or RIAA. RIBSAUCE doesn’t seem like a real phrase to me. I think of RAMBO as connoting someone avid and gungho, probably a bit dim, but not ‘fanatically militant,’ which to me suggests extreme politics. And I don’t think of GAZE and ‘goggle’ as meaning quite the same thing: both refer to staring, but gazing has a languid feel to it while goggling is intrusive and rude.
Here endeth my list of excuses for making no headway in that corner.
Also disaster in the SW, for many of the aforementioned reasons.
I agree with your objections to the Stumper — the sports phrase is definitely “in the zone” and a divan and a box spring are not the same thing at all.
I suspect Ms Anna Stiga was misled by a too-cursory glance at the Wikipedia entry for divan, which describes the UK meaning as a “box-spring based bed.” True enough, but the divan is the whole thing, not just the box-spring.
Silk’s definitions today are terminally inane. No fun.
Do you go out of your way to not enjoy crosswords? It may be time to find another hobby…
I thought the NYT was too heavy on the trivia, and then came the LAT. Pretty awful.