Friday, February 13, 2015

NYT 5:07 (Amy) 
LAT 11:33 (Gareth, paper – 2 errors) 
CS 12:22 (Ade) 
CHE 4:55 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 13 15, no. 0213

NY Times crossword solution, 2 13 15, no. 0213

You know what I did? I solved the puzzle and then I went off and played Sporcle quizzes for an hour. Focus! I have none at the moment.

Let’s see. Berry 68-worder. Fave fill: IN NAME ONLY (which I thought was going to be a 10-letter -LY adverb), EYE DOCTOR, the great word EXECRABLE, HANGOVERS, ESOTERICA, RAY LIOTTA, and the transportation trio, ECONOMY CAR, CARGO PLANE, and TEST PILOT.

Four clues:

  • 60a. [Zeus trapped Typhon under it], ETNA. Ha! A very similar clue/answer appeared in the Fireball puzzle a day ago. Scooped!
  • 23a. [Biblical figure said to have married his sister Noam], ENOS. Noam! A woman! I thought it was a guy name.
  • 59a. [Biogenesis scandal figure of ’13], A-ROD. Totally forgot what Biogenesis was.
  • 16d. [Shown one’s seat], MOONED. Hah! I was thinking SEATED, can’t be that, USHERED, doesn’t fit …

Unloved fill: UKES, ENOS, ETNA, STENO. Not terrible, but not “whoa, cool,” either.

4.2 stars from me.

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Skin Deep”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.13.15: "Skin Deep"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.13.15: “Skin Deep”

Happy Friday, everybody! Hope all is well with you as another cold snap has descended upon the East Coast, especially the Northeast. Today’s crossword puzzle, authored by Ms. Donna S. Levin, makes us get out the Band-Aid and hydrogen peroxide. Each of the three theme answers end with words that are also types of skin blemishes. Hope you’re not a bleeder!

  • GETS INTO A SCRAPE (17A: [Finds trouble])
  • MAKES THE CUT (37A: [Avoids elimination])
  • DOES FROM SCRATCH (61A: [Prepares using Gradma’s recipe, maybe])

Hopefully this isn’t just me, but every long hair collie I see outside with that white and tan coat always reminds me of LASSIE (25A: [Canine who might have reported that Timmy fell down a well]). The configuration of the grid made for a lot of three-word entries, and a few of them started with “LA,” including LAO (24A: [Philosopher ___-tzu]), LAT (60A: [At the equator, it’s 0 deg.]) and LA-Z, something I clamored to my dad that I wanted so bad when I saw it in commercials (35A: [___-Boy (furniture brand)]). Actually, my inventive older brother took two of our chairs in the house one day and combined them to create a makeshift La-Z-Boy chair. And it wasn’t that bad! If my memory is working correctly (and that’s always a question mark), I’m sure that a good number of puzzles from Ms. Levin have some sort of horse racing reference, and we have that here with EXACTA (49D: [Win/place bet]). Hopefully I didn’t flop like the EDSEL with that assessment/guess just now as I get ready to look back at her grids from the past (47A: [Late 1950s flop]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GIANTS (28D: [Former Polo Grounds team)]) – Ever wonder why crossword superstar Mel OTT hit all of those home runs (511) during his time with the New York GIANTS, other than the fact that he was a great ballplayer? Well, the Polo Grounds, the home stadium of the Giants while they were in New York, happened to be configured in a way that was very favorable to left-handed hitters, like Ott. The distance between home plate and the right field foul pole only measured 258 feet, making it much easier for left-handed hitters who liked to pull the ball down the line to rack up “cheap” home runs. As a matter-of-fact, over 60 percent of Ott’s career homers came at home (323 of 511).

Have a good weekend, everybody, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA130215Another puzzle where I had no clue about the team during the solve, but which was obvious after a quick post solve stare at the revealer: RETOOL = RE TO OL. A really outre substitution if ever there was one. Not understanding this, led to my errors. [Taking everything into account] is INALL if you don’t notice BEEN should be BEEF. [Site of preserved ancient gaucho weapons?], LABOLATARPITS is pretty out-there as a theme answer, even a wacky one. I suspect it will go down as a love/hate entry. [Hip curriculum], COOL (CORE) COURSES. I’m familiar with the concept, but not the specific term. It googles ok though. An American THRIFTSTORE becomes a THRIFTSTOOL. Lastly (LITTLE) RED RIDING HOOD becomes OLDRIDINGHOOD. The last two clues [Second-hand seat] and [Heroine in a reprised fairy tale?] deviate little from the original. LABOLATARPITS is really the only fun theme answer, the rest is relying on your enjoying the idea of RE/TO/OL itself for it to work.

The rest of the puzzle I liked more than the theme. DENTI is ugly, but is more than compensated for by LHASAAPSO, IRIDIUM, FRAIDSO and KISSME (on the bottom).

You can see the corner that vexed me most: bottom-right. I decided to print crudely over my ink bomb, but I did get to the right answer, eventually. I read [Symbiont on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”] and went 3 letters / DSN = >ODO, sure he must’ve been a symbiont as well as a shapeshifter. Nope! Forget there was a DAX too… ADdto for [Blend] seemed to work, sorta. And so a trainwreck was born.

Trickiest clue: [Clinton’s Birth name] is RODHAM not BLYTHE.

2.5 Stars. The rest of the puzzle was just fine, but the theme was a bit half-baked.

Jake Scheele’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Doing Amor With Less” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 2/13/15• "Doing Amor With Less" • solution

CHE • 2/13/15• “Doing Amor With Less” • solution

One-across and one-down combine to act as revealer for this timely crossword: [ … what the answer to each starred clue is suffering?] LOST LOVE. So, perforce, those theme answers lack the word “love”. Ripped out like a beating heart by that mean baddie from the second Indiana Jones movie.

The title of the crossword is apt, but feels a bit labourious [sic]. If I weren’t writing this so late in the game I’d spend a little while trying to come up with an alternative.

  • 18a. [*Act I number from Rogers and Hart’s “The Boys From Syracuse”] THIS CAN’T BE ——.
  • 25a. [*Classic from the Cole Porter musical “You Never Know”] AT LONG LAST ——.
  • 46a. [*1980 Neil Diamond hit] —— ON THE ROCKS.
  • 58a. [*Tune recorded by Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt in the 1970s] —— HAS NO PRIDE.

Let’s go through the theme checklist.

Consistency? Yes, all four are songs. Balance? Yes, two are from musicals, two were pop/rock hits. Two end with [love], two begin with [love]. As a bonus, these are arranged as two-two (rather than three-one or one-three; one-one-one-one would also have been well-received). There even seems to be a conscious effort to attain gender equality: for “Love Has No Pride” two female performers were mentioned, though it was also a big song for Johnny Cash and Rod Stewart among others. Factette: Libby Titus was a co-writer of the song, with Eric Kaz.

It’s all very scrupulous, well done.

Unfortunately, for time, I’ll have to give the rest of the puzzle undeserved short shrift. Long non-theme answers are TRICK OUT [Equip with lots of bells and whistles], FUTURISTIC, SOB STORY, SOON-TO-BE, LANE CLOSED [Road sign at the center of a 2013 Chris Christie scandal]. 24a [Jouster’s get-up] ARMOR reminded me of the puzzle’s title. Last square to fill: crossing of 37a [“History Detectives” airer] PBS and 37d [1960s fad dance] PONY.

Most unusual fill: 15a [Type of fruit borne by sunflowers] ACHENE. Defined: a small dry indehiscent one-seeded fruit (as of a sunflower) developing from a simple ovary and usually having a thin pericarp attached to the seed at only one point. New Latin achaenium, from a- + Greek chainein to gape, yawn — more at yawn. First Known Use: 1855. (  Dehisce is a word I always appreciate.

Very good puzzle.

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Abnormal Psychology” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/14/15 • "Abnormal Psychology" • Fri • Ross • solution

WSJ • 2/14/15 • “Abnormal Psychology” • Fri • Ross • solution

Punny takes on psychological conditions. You know, for the wackiness. In a way, it can be seen as 80d [Prefix with psychology] PARA, as in a parallel world with parallel ailments.

  • 23a. [Fixation with buildings?] EDIFICE COMPLEX (Oedipus …).
  • 36a. [Sadness when eating cantaloupe?] MELONCHOLIA (melancholia). Yes, cantaloupe derives from ‘singing wolf’, though that appellation described a place, not the melon itself.
  • 53a. [Psychological problem for British schoolboys?] ETON DISORDER (eating … ).
  • 67a. [Nervousness about greeting people?] HI ANXIETY (high …).
  • 78a. [Discomfort for egotists?] CROWING PAINS (growing …). Causes the sufferer to break out into song, “I just gotta be me!!!”
  • 97a. [Fear of Ghana?] ACCRAPHOBIA (acrophobia).
  • 115a. [What some Chinese personalities exhibit?] TAIPEI BEHAVIOR (type A …).
  • 17d. [Psychological problem caused by a financial crisis?] PANIC DEPRESSION (manic …). Though “panic depression” sounds as if it could be a real thing, like an anxiety attack that causes one to shut down, and then become depressed.
  • 41d. [Psychological distress caused by car rides?] EMOTION SICKNESS (motion …).

Sometimes the clues reference the original phrase (EMOTION SICKNESS), sometimes the new one (ACCRAPHOBIA), and sometimes both (TAIPEI BEHAVIOR, MELONCHOLIA). The mechanics vary, but they always manage to gently nudge the solver toward the answer. I feel a little conflicted about this, doctor.

  • 1a [“I don’t want to hear it!”] SPARE ME, 88a [“I don’t need to hear it!” TMI, 75d [“No need to explain”] I GET IT.
  • 18d [Heed the “All aboard!” announcement] ENTRAIN. That’s one definition of the word, but not the one I think of first.
  • Toughest clue: 42d [Green pole] PIN. I think this has to do with lawn bowling.
  • Most unusual fill (to me): 108a [Designer sportswear brand[ GANT, 110d [Killer whale of film] NAMU, 93d [Biblical mount] HOREB, 83d [School prayer fighter] O’HAIR.
  • 2d [Stations for orations] PODIA, 16d [Bowls] STADIA.
  • Sequence of 28a, 30a, 31a: [Not bothered by] [Life-or-death] [Inescapable outcome] :: USED TO | DIRE | FATE.
  • One could hunt for theme-associated terms throughout the puzzle, such as 13d [Libido] SEX DRIVE, 120a [Snapped] GONE MAD, 109a [Under state] TRANCE, 37d [Not real] IMAGINARY. Et cetera.
  • Favorite clue: 86a [Music from a Kingston trio] SKA.

Good puzzle, entertaining.

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16 Responses to Friday, February 13, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Loved it.

  2. sps says:

    Great, classic Berry puzzle today—crunchy, filling, gettable but only with lots of thinking.

  3. Phil says:

    Really liked it. Easy for me, 22 minute solve.

  4. Matt says:

    Struggled some on the NYT, particularloy in the NE– had to look up where Inti was from to finish the puzzle. Otherwise doable, but bit-by-bit.

  5. CY Hollander says:

    NYT nice and smooth today (Patrick Berry is good that way), and dare I say topical, with references to p.s.i. and Boyle of Boyle’s Law fame?

    Learned some new trivia from the puzzle: I’d never really grasped the connection between coot, the waterfowl, and coot , the old man, nor did I know that the price of treasury bills was set via auction.

  6. Zulema says:

    Loved the NYT puzzle and it certainly made up for the previous Friday’s time-consuming difficulties. Hard or easy, Patrick Berry is always tops.

  7. Clay says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the NYT today – I thought the long crosses were very gettable for a change.

    My favorite moment of the day was that Boyle was an absolute gimme for me – yet Rex struggled with that and because I have such limited pop culture knowledge, names tend to be my downfall. Was nice to have a scientific clue that was in my wheelhouse.

  8. Avg Solvr says:

    Entertaining and colorful NYT. Enjoyable CHE. Good WSJ with some really clever and very funny theme answers.

  9. Zulema says:

    I was waiting for the CHE review but might as well say I enjoyed it very much indeed.

    • Jake Scheele says:

      Thanx for the kind words. It was my first published

      • pannonica says:

        Apologies to both of you (and everyone else) for delayed write-up. It’s been a weird day.

      • Mark McClain says:

        Congrats, Jake – I have not solved your puzzle yet, ’cause I do all that work on Monday and Tuesday . . . I am new to the constructing side also, with only a few published. I’ve worked with Brad on several, and he is really great. Looking forward to seeing more!

  10. Mark McClain says:

    Thanks for the comments about my RE to OL theme. The puzzle was considerably toughened up by Rich Norris’s clue editing. My original clue for OF ALL was “Words after best or worst”. For those who didn’t care for it, 1) I feel your pain, and 2) take comfort in the fact that it started out as a Sunday, but Rich slapped it back to a daily!

  11. Carter says:

    I know a peevish, sad old woman named Noam. She is very good at puzzles.

  12. Debby says:

    Re: WSJ – A green pole refers to the pin on a golf course.

Comments are closed.