Saturday, February 14, 2015

Newsday 11:27 (Amy) 
NYT 5:38 (Amy) 
LAT 4:27 (Amy) 
CS 9:30 (Ade) 

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! May a crossword puzzle find its way into your heart and not merely annoy you.

David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 2 14 15, no. 0214

NYT crossword solution, 2 14 15, no. 0214

This 72-worder struck me as a bit easier than the typical Saturday NYT. There are a couple bits of 2010/2011 pop culture that make me wonder if David might have made this puzzle a few years ago—ANGRY BIRDS is still around but nowhere near the mania it was, and my son knows Flo Rida’s WHO DAT GIRL but finds it to be not so relevant anymore. The song peaked at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100, so it’s no “Whistle” (one of Flo Rida’s three #1 hits). Over at Daily Celebrity Crossword, I definitely prefer to see top 10 songs in our music themes. A #29 passes muster only if it went on to become a classic (there are numerous much-loved Beatles songs that never charted as singles, for example).

Groovy bits:

  •  JAVASCRIPT, “I HAD NO IDEA,” and MAIDENFORM bras in a stack.
  • 26d. [Parlor product made with an iron], WAFFLE CONE. Were you thinking of hair salons and curling irons or flat irons?
  • 57a. [What’s a big hit with the school board?], KARATE CHOP. The karate school, that is. A wooden board.
  • 61a. [Treat with pudding and graham crackers], ICEBOX CAKE. Dammit, I don’t have any such recipe and that sounds like it would hit the spot. If you have a good recipe, please do share it.
  • 63a. [They have an infamous gap], NIXON TAPES. 
  • 20a. [Old sitcom family name], PETRIE. Rob and Laura, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.

41a. [Man on a mission, maybe], PADRE? That’s timely, as Juniperro Serra is to be canonized this fall despite his harms to the native Californians who didn’t welcome forced labor, beatings, and conversion.

Did not know: 58d. [Handel’s “___, Galatea e Polifemo”], ACI.

Could do without bits like ONE-L, ODIC, plural AHAS, EMS, D’ABO, EXE, and OPES.

3.95 stars from me.

Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 2 14 15

LA Times crossword solution, 2 14 15

Lots of fresh and interesting long fill in this puzzle: tennis RACKET ABUSE (Brad loves tennis, which helped me guess the umpires in question weren’t in baseball), DOG LICENSES (which was just in another puzzle recently, in whole or part), VAN BUREN, a CURL BAR, Thrilla REMATCH, much-loved word BALLYHOO, NO-TELL MOTEL, ’80s Soft Cell song TAINTED LOVE, some EMPTY STARES, ASIAN PEARS (don’t much care for them myself), SPIN DOCTOR, TACO SALAD, and CABLE THEFT.

In the debit column, there’s SAS starting the puzzle off at 1-Across, keep-seeing-this-woeful-abbrev N CAR, AS IF/AS TO dupe, FER, STET beside ESSE.

Four more clues:

  • 22a. [One whose work is at an end?], INDEXER. The indexer works on the whole book, but their work output is invariably at the back.
  • 40a. [Small magazine inserts], BBS. Gun magazines, not the kind you read.
  • 49a. [JFK, but not LAX], DEM. Has there never been an elected Democrat with the initials LAX?
  • 26d. [Lace protector], AGLET. Shoelaces, not lace fabric—but I’d love to see a lacy bridal gown adorned with aglets galore.

Four stars from me.

David Steinberg’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 2 14 15, "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 2 14 15, “Saturday Stumper”

What a zippy Stumper! This puzzle’s got markedly livelier fill than many a Newsday puzzle. Check out the top stack—HAM AND EGGS on UV EXPOSURE on FIXER-UPPER, with smooth crossings that include a MEXICAN STANDOFF. The bottom stack paints an intriguing picture: PAPER TOWEL at the CRIME SCENE at the AFTER-PARTY. The other Down 15 is fine, if less exciting—PURCHASING POWER. ALCATRAZ and GUPPIES also pleased me.

Tougher bits (and really, the whole thing was clued tough—I scrolled through almost half the Across clues before I found a gimme, SAL Paradise):

  • 15a. [It may make your face red], UV EXPOSURE. Not the anger or cosmetic sort of red.
  • 36a. [Secondary entrance], POSTERN. Definitely a Saturday-puzzle sort of word. Not easy vocab.
  • 8d. [Rainbow fish], GUPPIES. Rainbow? You don’t say.
  • 9d. [U. administration], GRE. Colleges administer the GRE test. Whereas 27a’s [Presidents’ subordinates] are college administrators, DEANS.
  • Three blow clues—the AFTER-PARTY is a [Blowout follower], SMOTE is [Gave a mighty blow], and HUFFED is also [Gave a mighty blow].
  • 25d. [Mini often taken for a spin], TUTU. Mini-skirt for ballet pirouettes, not the car called a Mini.
  • 43d. [Crystal collection site], SALT PIT. Didn’t know that was a thing.
  • 63d. [Eight dashes: Abbr.], TSP. Know your kitchen measures! I did not. So a dash is 1/8th of a teaspoon, I gather.

4.4 stars from me. An enjoyable and challenging puzzle with lots of sparkle to it. My favorite of the day’s three themelesses, all of them good ones.


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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.14.15: "Any Time"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.14.15: “Any Time”

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers! I hope you’re all doing well and having fun on this Saturday. Today’s crossword puzzle is by a person who could create some lovely Valentine’s Day tunes on his saxophone, Mr. Tony Orbach. In the grid, each of the four theme answers are two-word entries in which the first word starts with the letter “N” and the second word starts with the letter “E.”

  • NUCLEAR ENERGY (17A: [Some power plant output])
  • NATURAL ENEMIES (37A: [Dogs and cats, stereotypically]) – Just like me and swimming pools, since I still can’t swim.
  • NAVAL EQUIPMENT (44A: [Gear for a battleship, say])
  • NARROW ESCAPES (51A: [Close calls])

Well, of course I’m going to like this puzzle being that it has my nickname, ADE, in it (23A: [Commercial suffix with Gator or Power]), though I like to spell it as “Addie” sometimes because of the fear that people will pronounce Ade as “aid,” which has happened a fair number of times. A shoutout to all of the VIRGOS out there, including myself (45D: [Pink and Beyoncé, astrologically]). Of all the popular ski areas that also happen to be popular crossword fill, I liked the uniqueness of TYROL (9A: [Austrian ski area]). At the football/academic camp that I work at once a year in Texas, one of the student athletes needed a little extra tutoring in the math section of the SAT and, though I teach/taught the verbal section, he came up to me and asked specifically about a trig question. Instead of dusting off my knowledge of SECANTs and other inverse trig functions, I originally told my student to wait for one of the math instructors to come back to the dorm (32D: [Trigonometric ratio]). No, I was not about to embarrass myself in front of the students about how much I had forgotten about trigonometry! But I’ll be ready this summer if it happens again!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AZALEA (5D: [Pop singer Iggy]) – How does rapper and current singing sensation Iggy Azalea, who reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts with her hit “Fancy,” figure in this space? Well, currently, the Australian vocalist is dating Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young, a relationship that started late in 2013. Here’s Iggy and Swaggy P (Nick Young’s nickname) in a picture taken during a shoot for GQ last year. You should be happy I’m selecting this picture, since some of the other shots in the magazine were a little more, let’s say, raunchy.


See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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20 Responses to Saturday, February 14, 2015

  1. Ethan says:

    TAMPERED killed me on this one. I had MONKEYED for a long time, then I got the R from ESQUIRE and I had TINKERED forever.

    • ArtLvr says:

      I had to put the NYT aside last night and revisit it this morning, but it was worth it!
      The NIXON TAPES leaped out, as I’d just reread Rex Stout’s “A Family Affair” in which master detective Nero Wolfe is obsessed with Watergate and its link to three murders…. As for ICEBOX CAKE, that’s a family tradition at Xmas — but we make it with lady fingers, not graham crackers!

  2. Katy says:

    Good morning, I just finished Stanley Newman’s TRIPLE DOUBLE from 2/13/15, but I don’t understand how the theme clues are related. I know what a “triple double” is in basketball, but I’m at a loss for a connection in this puzzle (Triple = 3 words and…?). Take pity on a poor amateur, and toss me a clue. Thanks!

  3. sbmanion says:

    Despite several things I did not know and a couple of mistakes, this puzzle fell quickly for me, as did Friday’s, breaking a string of several weeks in which the weekend puzzles were tough for me.

    I did not know MOLESKIN, ICEBOXCAKE, DETECTO and WHODATGIRL and initially had SKULKED instead of SNEAKED and ESSENCE instead of ESQUIRE.

    Mary Tyler Moore was one of the first actresses I can recall having a big crush on, so Laura PETRIE is unforgettable for me and JAVASCRIPT, NIXONTAPES, WAFFLECONE and ANGRY BIRDS provided gimmes in each quadrant and helped me to easily overcome my knowledge gaps.

    Fun puzzle even if it was a little easier than usual. It seems that there are fewer and fewer sports-related entries these days.


  4. Gary R says:

    Under 30 minutes while watching TV, so an easier-than-usual Saturday NYT for me. Enjoyed the puzzle – a nice mix of old and new. Learned a new meaning for MOOT – I’ve usually heard it used to describe an issue that’s either settled or irrelevant and so, not worth disputing.

    Two nice NYT puzzles in a row for Mr. Steinberg.

    • Huda says:

      Apparently, the clue is the real definition of MOOT, and the other definition (you alluded to) represents a misuse of the term. Although some say the meaning has drifted and your definition is de facto acceptable. The meta irony of MOOT’s definition being moot.
      I’m going to start using my German’s colleague’ mispronunciation — “it’s a mute point”. No question there, it means let’s shut up about it.

      • Gary R says:


        Yes, AHD and M-W seem to offer the meaning from the puzzle as the first definition and the meaning I’m more familiar with as a second. AHD indicates that when used in the law, it takes on the “settled” or “irrelevant” meaning (but no excuse there – I’m not a lawyer).

  5. 7d5a9b1 says:

    Today’s LAT 51d. [Off-color], SALTY.
    Today’s CS 36d. [Off-color, as some language], SALTY.

    Today’s NYT looks pretty tame in comparison.

  6. pannonica says:

    Friday WSJ write-up now posted. Sorry again for the delay.

  7. Avg Solvr says:

    Thought the LAT had some really good stuff.

  8. JohnV says:

    Liked LAT quite a lot. I play a yon of tennis but got really deked out by clue for 4a. Esp liked fresh clues for OBOE and ARARAT.

  9. Gareth says:

    Loved the breadth of David’s NYT.

    Loved Brad’s 4A clue and answer especially, as well as the elegant misdirection in the TOTO clue.

  10. Avg Solvr says:

    LAT: I thought the clue for CABLETHEFT was great.

  11. mitchs says:

    Did I miss it or did no one mention that David steinberg had 4 star plus puzzles in the nyt and the stumper on the same day?

  12. Bob says:

    Absolutely abhorred LAT defs for CABLE THEFT and ASIF. Rest of grid rather weak.

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