Saturday, October 11, 2014

Newsday 10:03 (Amy) 
NYT 5:30 (Amy) 
LAT 3:23 (Andy) 
CS 12:05 (Ade) 

Evans Clinchy’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 10 11 14, no. 1011

NY Times crossword solution, 10 11 14, no. 1011

Lots of crisp fill in this one, though I might’ve liked a more Saturday-tough level of cluing. Among the best entries:

  • 15a. [Guinness record-setter for “highest-rated TV series” (scoring 99 out of 100 on], BREAKING BAD.
  • 25a. [Group of very small stars?], D LIST.
  • 36a. [Get rid of jerks?], GREASE THE WHEELS. Not sure what the “jerks” are here.
  • 54a. [Far from scarce], A DIME A DOZEN.
  • 58a. [2014 N.B.A. M.V.P.], KEVIN DURANT.
  • 60a. [Millions of people swipe them], SMARTPHONES.
  • 13d. [Restaurant availability], OPEN TABLE. I liked this one because it’s also the name of a restaurant reservation website, OpenTable. I bet the constructor had it clued that way.
  • 32d. [Force to walk with the arms pinned behind], FROG MARCH.

Favorite clue: 49a. [Manhattan architect?] for BARTENDER. Didn’t fool me, though. Usually my favorite clues did manage to dupe me. Runner-up: 50d. [Many an exploding star], DIVA. This one did trick me into trying NOVA first.

Iffier bits:

  • 20a. [Looking up to], ESTEEMING. Rather uncommon form of the word.
  • 2d. [Architectural crossbeam], TRAVE. Saturday-level vocabulary, no? I don’t recognize the word. Not really iffy, I grant you—just quite uncommon.
  • 27d. [“Benson” actor Phillips], ETHAN. Say what? I watched Benson for years and this doesn’t right the slightest bell. Someone who wasn’t among the five leading characters on a 1979-’86 show really has no business being clued this way. Not a famous name, but a familiar face. (See also: 49d. [“Soap” actor Jimmy], BAIO. Markedly less famous than his cousin Scott Baio, and far less prominent in show biz since 1981 than Phillips. What the heck is going on here?)

Geo-trivia I didn’t know: 43a. [Country that includes the islands of Gozo and Comino], MALTA. And here I thought all of Malta was just the one island. Wikipedia tells me there are three main islands plus some smaller ones; the Maltese language is Semitic and the island was first settled over 7,000 years ago. The language looks so bizarre to me (e.g., Maltese for Gozo is Għawdex).

Four stars from me.

Tom Heilman’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 10.11.14 by Tom Heilman

LAT Puzzle 10.11.14 by Tom Heilman

It felt like there were a lot of phrases in this one, which I like. I think some felt more in-the-language than others, but you can decide for yourself: we have ON LOOKOUT, RANG IN, STAY LOOSE, TAKE A LOAD OFF, OVERDOES IT, “ENOUGH TALK,” YET TO, and ONE SICK PUPPY. CREPE SOLE was new to me, but it’s a term I’m glad to learn. HONEY TRAPS [Espionage strategies using seduction] I only know from Archer, though I think they call it a “honey pot.”

I had a bit of a hiccup at the crossing of AMPAS and SIG, but otherwise things fell pretty smoothly. I liked that ELLIE was clued as [Actress Kemper of “The Office”].

Pretty nice themeless, all in all, and a little different from other Saturday LATs of late. I’ll say 3.4 stars. Until next week!

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 10 11 14

Newsday crossword solution, 10 11 14, “Saturday Stumper”

Really tough puzzle, but not tear-your-hair-out hard. I’ll take it.

Really nice corner stacks of 9s here. BACKSLASH and a WINDOW BOX of herbs, CARBONARA/U.S. CAPITOL/SPACE SHOT, ELBOW ROOM/SALLIE MAE/SHE-DEVILS, TEAM PHOTO, good stuff.

Nine notes:

  • 1a. [Left-leaning member of the board?] is a cute clue the keyboard’s BACKSLASH. (Note: Do not ever call “/” a “forward slash.” That’s just a slash, honey.)
  • 29a. [Tarantino called him “the future of horror”], ELI ROTH. Mismatch between last name in clue and full name in answer.
  • 43a. [Spanish fish dish], BACALAO. I’m guessing this is related to the baccala (salted cod) I learned about from The Sopranos. Checking … yep, bacalao is also salted cod. I’ll pass. Does anyone else call macaroni “magarone” ever since Sopranos?
  • 65a. [Maleficent and such], SHE-DEVILS. Maleficent is the evil queen (really, she’s just misunderstood) from Sleeping Beauty. Escaped childhood without learning the name but picked it up from my son’s 2nd grade show.
  • 7d. [Heads of “des moines”], ABBES. Des Moines means “the monks,” and I can’t believe I didn’t know that already.
  • 12d. [Pair on Namibia’s coat of arms], ANTELOPES. Did you know Namibia has only 2.1 million people? The only nation that’s less densely populated is Mongolia. Enjoy this set of people-free photos from Namibia.
  • 14d. [Snap on a football field, perhaps], TEAM PHOTO. Deceptive clues are the best, I tell you.
  • 21d. [Quaker State’s early headquarters], OIL CITY. Never heard of it, nope. It’s in Pennsylvania, as “Quaker State” suggests. 10,500 people, who are known as Oil Citizens.
  • 52d. [What a bell buoy warns of], SHOAL. Be sure to tip your bell buoy for this service.

Four stars overall.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “There’s Been an Earthquake in California!”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.11.14: "There's Been an Earthquake in California!"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.11.14: “There’s Been an Earthquake in California!”

Hello everyone!  I hope your weekend has gotten off to a good start.

Today’s crossword puzzle, served up to us today by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, takes us down the anagram road, as each of the theme answers are anagrams of California cities, with puns serving as its clues. Like I’m sure most of you figured out when starting this puzzle, I had a feeling the anagram theme was exactly what I was expecting with those entries given the title of the grid, which was very slick by the way.

  • LONG LEASES: (17A: [Extended rental agreements, in Los Angeles])
  • BART AS AN ARAB: (29A: [Simpson lad dressed like the emir of Kuwait, in Santa Barbara])
  • CON SIN FRACAS: (49A: [Prison donnybrook headline, in San Francisco])
  • ACTOR NAMES: (64A: [Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson, in Sacramento])

First of all, there’s no way I can type SOUL TRAIN the way it is stated in the grid, correctly (11D: [Variety show hosted by Don Cornelius]).  Give me an “Up on the Soooouuuuuull Train!”  Ok, now my Saturday is set.  Back to the grid, I had no idea that SPONGEBOB had a job, and when I saw the “Krusty” portion of the clue, I was thinking a Simpsons character (35D: [Cartoon character who works at the Krusty Krab]). The clue on CARLIN may be one of my favorite Carlin utterances, and that’s saying something since he has a litany of them (4A: [Comedian George who said, “If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.”]). I don’t hear IT’S A JOB too often anymore, and probably “It’s a living” is the more apt saying for working just to make ends meet (54A: [“I have to pay the bills somehow”]). Fun solve, and definitely far from a DRAB puzzle (58D: [Dull as dishwater]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROBB (63A: [____ Report, luxury lifestyle magazine]) – Former Major League Baseball player ROBB Nen was best known as the closer for both the Florida Marlins and the San Francisco Giants. Nen was a three-time All-Star, and, in 2002, he saved seven games in the postseason as the Giants came up just one win shy of winning the World Series. Unfortunately, because of overuse by the Giants during that 2002 season, a season in which he was pitching despite a rotator cuff tear, Nen never pitched another game in the bigs after the 2002 playoffs.  Also, Nen is one of the first closers to have a theme song attached to his entrance into a game, as “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple was played every time he came into a home game.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!!

Take care!


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22 Responses to Saturday, October 11, 2014

  1. Brucenm says:

    The NYT was totally off my wavelength, and for me fiendishly difficult, though I somehow managed to finish it after an eon, and in retrospect, it had some original, interesting entries. But there’s so much about it I don’t get I’m overrun with questions. I don’t recognize the constructor. Anyone familiar with him?

    I guess if your machine is jerking and running erratically, and you grease the wheels, it will stop jerking and run more smoothly. (And that can probably be taken metaphorically too.)

    I don’t get {Ones in praise of angels} for Babysitters, or {Third party label, abbr.} for soc. Socialist? “I had “Ind.” I liked the SE, but I thought {Millions of people swipe them} was going to be “Credit cards.” Do people swipe smartphones in the sense of steal them, or does it mean something else?

    I seriously dislike “maturates”, though I’m sure someone can prove it’s a real word. (I was stuck on “matures up”, which I don’t like either.) Open Table is indeed a web site which I use for restaurant reservations. It works pretty well, but if you fail to show up without canceling, they waterboard you.

    I never heard of “frog march” though I ended up liking the SW. I was stuck on “Sumer” rather than Sheba. I kind of like that potty mouthed comedian Kathy Something who talks about the D List.

    Breaking Bad is one of those cultural phenomena that I’ve heard of but never seen. It’s about drugs, maybe? I’ve seen teasers for some popular TV show which feature a youngish male character whom I find totally odious, delivering some purportedly funny lines in a mechanical “high school play” style. I thought it was Breaking Bad, but maybe it’s some other show.

    I don’t know what brought all this on. I guess at least this puzzle roused me from my dogmatic slumbers.

    • Matt says:

      About a month ago, I swiped my iPhone to get through a security checkpoint and then to board an aircraft. Paperless boarding pass!

    • Gary R says:

      Bruce – I had pretty much the same reaction to the puzzle you did.

      I think that “swipe” in the smart phone clue refers to swiping your finger across the screen to access the phone and apps.

      Xwordinfo indicates this is Mr. Clinchy’s debut.

    • Gareth says:

      Maturate is used by the same scientists / medical professionals who use acclimate and vomition…

  2. Matt says:

    NYT was about right for a Saturday, for me. For some reason I had a vague bit of knowledge that Gozo was in the Mediterranean, so that clue worked for me. Good puzzle.

  3. sbmanion says:

    I also agree with Bruce on many points, particularly on BABYSITTERS. My best guess was that it is a reference to the answer a babysitter might give to the parents’ question “how was she?” “She was a perfect little angel.”

    I am waiting for someone to comment that Kevin Durant is obscure. Ironically, when they were testing various players in the year he was drafted, Kevin was the weakest player in the draft in the bench press. I think he could only bench 185. In some sports, upper body strength is critical, but not in basketball if you have the extraordinary skill set of Kevin Durant.

    Very tough puzzle.


    • Brucenm says:

      Special to Steve: BREAK UP THE BILLS!

      (I find it hard to believe the Kevin Durant could only bench press 185. You’re sure you don’t mean kilos?)

      • sbmanion says:

        I bought my Super Bowl tickets after Buffalo crushed Miami like so many bugs and issued an open invitation to all my high school friends to stay at my house during this year’s Super Bowl in nearby Glendale, AZ. Then, I sold them in disgust after the team lost to Houston and San Diego (San Diego is very good) and now I am daring to be optimistic this Sunday against New England.

        Here’s an article about Kevin suggesting that he has become quite a bit stronger. It turns out he couldn’t bench 185 in the year of the draft. To me, he is a bigger version of Bod McAdoo, who was a great player for the old Buffalo Braves (today they are the Clippers or the Celtics, take your pick: the Clippers and Celtics traded franchises some years ago and after Buffalo moved to San Diego).


  4. Linda says:

    Wow. I had never heard of OpenTable before, but then again, I’m the last person I know to get a tablet computer. Does OpenTable show which branch, if it is a chain restaurant, and does it display the reservation time so you don’t have to keep looking it up? Maybe I’m the only person I know also to be so direction-challenged. Mostly I just follow my nose and hope for the best.

    • Martin says:

      When you get an OpenTable invitation, it will add it as an appointment to your Outlook, Google or iCal calendar. It’s then up to the calendar to remind you.

      I’ve never used it for a chain restaurant.

  5. animalheart says:

    Pretty quick work for a Saturday for me, and “Manhattan architect?” for BARTENDER is wonderful, but the BABYSITTERS clue really bothered me. I filled in the letters and everything worked out in the end, but that one clue left me with an amorphous sense of unfinished business (“What am I missing?”) that got in the way of my feeling complete satisfaction with the puzzle. If only the clue had been “Ones in charge of angels?”

    • Martin says:

      I think a babysitter is more likely to tell a returning parent, “She was an angel” than the child really having been that well behaved. Few kids really are little angels, but babysitters need to convey superhuman childcare abilities if they want return business. Plus they know that no mother wants to hear anything bad about her kid.

      I, for one, knew the babysitter was lying through her teeth.

      • animalheart says:

        Martin, I suspect your kids drove the babysitter to distraction by creating little triple and quad stacks of building blocks all over the house.

  6. Gareth says:

    Putting turtles in a terrarium would be a dumb move. Turtles are marine reptiles. Americans!

    • Martin says:

      Maybe we use the word “turtle” differently. “Sea turtles” are marine. “Turtle” usually means a semi-aquatic species here. Terraria for small turtles are very popular here. Sometimes there’s a separate container with water and sometimes the bottom is filled with water.

      • Papa John says:

        Some caution should be advised when keeping a turtle in a glass terrarium, Often the critter will pace back and forth against the glass for such extended periods it does damge to their shells.

  7. Gareth says:

    Can someone please start clueing KIP as South African slang for nap ;).

  8. Avg Solvr says:

    Thought NYT was easy for a Saturday but the cluing was more inventive than usual which made the solve fun. LAT had some nice long answers.

  9. Linda says:

    Martin: Guess what? I don’t have an online calendar, so will have to see about getting one set up. Thanks!

  10. linda says:

    Why keep a turtle in a terrarium at all? They should be left in their own natural habitats. Terrariums are for plants, right?

  11. dls says:

    Could not see past TETES for ‘Heads of “des moines”‘ with the clue doing double duty (French for head, and Tete De Moine cheese). I still like my answer better….

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