Saturday, February 21, 2015

Newsday 10:00/1 Google (Amy) 
NYT 7:14 (Amy) 
LAT 5:22 (Amy) 
CS 7:51 (Ade) 

If you’re up for a challenge and like anagramming, check out Tim Croce’s anagram crossword. Each answer needs to be anagrammed into something new before being entered in the grid. Took me 24:04, so somewhere between 5 and 10 times longer than a standard puzzle with straightforward clues and fill. A delight!

Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 2 21 15, no 0221

NYT crossword solution, 2 21 15, no 0221

Hello, Doug and Brad! HELLO KITTY! Hello, migraine. Poor timing, for the headache to roll in right at blogging time. Abbreviated post!

Likes: CLASS TRIP, the KEMPT/TEMPT combo, RALPH NADER and HELLO KITTY (together again), ROSA PARKS, “ABOUT THAT…,” our LEAD STORY tonight, and the LIMELIGHT/TOP SECRET/”I’M TOO SEXY” stack.

Least friendly fill: 46d. Italian city near the Slovenian border], UDINE. If you’re going to mention Slovenia and cities, by gum, don’t bother me unless it’s Ljubljana. Also unfriendly: the word AXER. And ENCHAIN. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that form of “chain.” LESE, SCH, SYN, SEN, PTS also underwhelming.

70-worder, five mini-puzzles. Felt tough—took a while to break into each section.

3.8 stars from me. Usually I like Doug and/or Brad’s work more than this. Is it the puzzle or is it the headache talking? Either’s possible.

Jonathan O’Rourke’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 2 21 15

LA Times crossword solution, 2 21 15

I liked this puzzle. Lots of fresh, lively fill. I was partial to IP ADDRESS, YIPPEE-KI-YAY (though I had YIPPIE first), ED HELMS, ZERO TO SIXTY, the ROSE WATER/APPLETINI/BOY SHORTS stack with solid crossings, SLEAZEBALL, DIDGERIDOO, FILM NOIR, and YAHWEH. (Any solvers enter dashes in place of the vowels in that last one?)

Before I solved the puzzle, a fellow Team Fiend member mentioned that there was a deadly crossing. If you don’t know the initial at the end of MURRAY THE K (who I’d never heard of when he was alive—I don’t think he made much of a dent in Chicago) and you’re not up on your lesser Elizabethan playwrights like Thomas KYD (certainly he’s of less import than Shakespeare, Marlowe, and o rare Ben Jonson) … well, that’s a tough crossing. There isn’t anything telling you that it’s not, say, Murray Thew rather than a three-word answer. The crossing didn’t snag me, but yeah, I could see this being problematic for a lot of people.

Things I was less enamored of: singular SPICE GIRL (though I loved the clue, [Baby, for one]), partial YE GOD, Mr. REE!, dated SDI (though Reagan’s military doodads did get a shout-out in the Colin Firth movie Kingsman), AIN’T HAY (which needs a “that” before it), SERE, and –ICS.

Combo that occurred to me: Between 9d. [Instagrammed item], SELFIE and 45d. [Name derived from the Tetragrammaton], YAHWEH, we need an Instagrammaton.

3.9 stars from me.

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword answers, 2 21 15 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword answers, 2 21 15 “Saturday Stumper”

Okay, I got entirely stuck in the northeast corner. Not sure I’ve ever heard of a GYROCOMPASS (10d. [Navigation device]), was thinking ANTIC or MUSIC was in Merrie Melodies (rather than Mel BLANC), was drawing a blank on the three 7s, and finally Googled 12d. [Third Pillar of Islam subject] to get ALMS and make headway there. 8a. [Jumbles] could be a verb or a noun; here, it’s the noun RAGBAGS. 16a. Xanadu-like], IDYLLIC—I wanted UTOPIAN but the crossings were no good. 18a. [Word on some ”Simpsons” paraphernalia], CARAMBA? Yuck. Didn’t Bart stop saying “Ay, caramba!” about 20 years ago? Or am I thinking of “Eat my shorts”?

Likes:

  • 15a. [Home of the $3 bill], BAHAMAS. Clue kept me guessing.
  • 33a. [Guide for gardening], FARMER’S ALMANAC. Haven’t seen a print copy in decades.
  • 39a. [Wishful thinker’s phrase], “I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?” Lovely entry.
  • 29d. [Wing, ding, or sting] … I was thinking “Ooh, they’re all VERBs … and they’re all NOUNs.” And then it turned out that they’re also synonyms for HARM.
  • 31d. [Napoleon’s place], PATISSERIE. Napoleon the emperor? Napoleon the pig from Animal Farm? Nope, the pastry.
  • 48d. [Capital of Cameroon], FRANC. Currency, not capital city. The latter would be Yaoundé, which I was blanking on, but I couldn’t think of any 5-letter African capital that could apply. (Accra and Cairo and Tunis are all elsewhere.)
  • AFC WEST, SPASSKY, countries without ARMED FORCES.

Questions and disgruntlements:

  • 57a. [”I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke” speaker], MAGUIRE. Is this a movie quote from Jerry Maguire, or something entirely different?
  • 23a. [Workforce-readiness researcher, for short], ETS. Huh? They offer the GRE, TOEFL, and an assortment of other tests I’ve not heard of. No idea which sort of workforce’s readiness is assessed, or what sort of research ETS is doing aside from standardized tests.
  • DOSER, XED, SEEST, ARFS, I-BAR, IN A STIR, S AND L, A-ONE … we don’t usually see much blah fill in Doug’s puzzles, particularly when the word count is 72. These feel a little less smooth than the customary Stumper fill.

3.8 stars from me. I wasn’t loving any of the day’s themelesses today, but none of them was terrible either.

Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Split Scenes”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.21.15: "Split Scenes"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.21.15: “Split Scenes”

Hey there, everyone! Hope everything is well with you. It’s snowing once again in New York, and I’m about ready to split from here and head to Florida (which I will do in April for a week, but wish it was much, MUCH sooner). Speaking of splitting, today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, includes four theme answers clued in the same exact way, “Place for splits.”

  • BALLET SCHOOL (20A: [Place for splits])
  • BOWLING ALLEY (27A: [Place for splits]) – I need to start bowling again. Haven’t gone to the lanes since gym class in high school. By the way, what’s your highest score you ever recorded in the bowling alley? I think my highest was 158, if I can remember correctly. For those that are bowling aficionados, don’t laugh at me!
  • DIVORCE COURT (47A: [Place for splits])
  • ICE CREAM SHOP (55A: [Place for splits])

I guess I’m pretty good with parsing hipster lingo, but BAD SCENE was one that was lost on me for just a bit (37D: [Regrettable situation, to a hipster]). I might have heard that once or twice to describe that type of scenario, but I can’t say that it stuck as lingo I should remember. Looks like a trip to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is in the works to brush up on my hipster lingo. (As a near lifelong Brooklynite, that’s just so weird to say.) I definitely don’t mind the earworm that RATT has given me just now (6A: [“Round and Round” rock band]). Does anyone own an exploding CIGAR these days (51D: [Exploding prank gift])? Have seen that gag in cartoons and such, but I want to see that in person, and preferably, not done at my expense. 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OSPREY (50D: [Hawk which nests near water]) – The OSPREY is the nickname/mascot for the University of North Florida athletics programs and the university. UNF initially made the jump to Division I in 2005 and became a full-fledged member of Division I in the 2009-10 academic year.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!

Ade/AOK

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30 Responses to Saturday, February 21, 2015

  1. sbmanion says:

    Lots to like, but AXER was one of the few answers in recent memory that I thought was whatever is worse than mere crosswordese and one of the few that I had a truly WTF reaction to.

    It took me forever to see KEMPT and when I finally did, the W, which had been much tougher than the E for me, finally fell. La Vie, which I tried to read as one word, was also tough for me to see.

    All in all, a tough, challenging puzzle.

    Steve

  2. Matt says:

    NYT was tough– particularly that SW block. I got close, but finally looked up KAREL and STYNE.

  3. Gareth says:

    Bottom-right was my Waterloo: couldn’t find a way in after ATOP/KNEELER/ELUDE. Figured out the [Triton, to Neptune] clue but wanted *MOON. I had the idea of a PAPERCLIP connecting to pages, but it didn’t really fit that well. I eventually put a wrong answer at 56D which allowed me to see CLOSEINON and the corner slowly ravelled (since we’re using KEMPT). Most amusing a-ha moment: when IMTOOSEXY appeared. Plenty to like between the full names, ABOUTTHAT, OVENREADY and HELLOKITTY! I can’t find the date but the many DOACF llamas should look out for Brad’s Nancy Drew 1DS. I can’t find a full schedule on the website now though…

    • Gareth says:

      PS, the “apples tall” shtick is something I associate with Smurfs. Has this measurement been appropriated by Ms. Kitty?

  4. VB says:

    I liked today’s NYT a lot. It felt hard when I was doing it, but afterward, it all seemed easy and I couldn’t figure out why things were not obvious to me. I find the resulting frustration particularly satisfying.

  5. Howard B says:

    Gareth, I sheepishly raise my hand for the Smurf misdirection here.
    Tough, tough puzzle, really got my brain cells active.

  6. PJ Ward says:

    Pretty good day. I enjoyed the NYT a good workout. I share VB’s observations about during/post difficulty.

    Thanks, Amy, for the heads up on Tim Croce’s anagram crossword. Another good, fun workout. How is it done? Would the constructor start with a pool of words that have anagrams, build the grid, then write the clues for the anagrams?

    I also enjoy an occasional puzzle without vowels.

    • Tim C. says:

      That’s precisely how I did it… I’m compiling a running word list of about 9,000, and counting, useful (i.e. not obscure, not junk) words that are each anagrams of other words in the list; I built this puzzle in my app using only that word list. I then wrote the clues for the anagrams, varying the difficulty widely from clue to clue based on a number of factors (I don’t want to potentially spoil anything by getting specific).

    • doug says:

      I too enjoyed Tim Croce’s anagram puzzle. My wife and I worked on it on and off Sunday and today. Had an anagram solver and a crossword solver open to help out. We finally finished it. Thanks

  7. Gareth says:

    LAT: Big highs. Big lows. Also, Really liked the bottom-right corner of ROSEWATER/APPLETINI/BOYSHORTS. IPADDRESS and DIDGERIDOO were lotsa fun too, as was YIPPEKIYAY even though it’s a giant partial (I don’t think, even space allowing, the rest of the phrase would be included, even in most alt. puzzles!). But then long answers like ZEROTOSIXTY, AGETEN and ONENINTH – three of ’em, with the same random number shtick. Is there something about ZEROTOSIXTY and its clue I’m not getting?? And finally MURRAYTHEK/KYD – I was back on AL so just ran the letters, not sure I’d have guessed right on paper though!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      ZERO TO SIXTY is super-common in US automotive circles. A sporty car with a lot of horsepower can go from 0 to 60 mph in, say, 4.8 seconds, while a lackluster car will need a lot longer to gain that speed. ONE NINTH and AGE TEN are pretty random numbers, though. Especially that fraction!

      • Bencoe says:

        Yes. Zero to sixty is a common statistic that virtually every car is rated on. I don’t think it’s only in the US–I’m pretty sure they talk about it on Top Gear as well.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          South Africa is notorious for not having all the TV shows the rest of the West gets. They stopped needing the strict message control when the apartheid regime crumbled, but somehow didn’t get around to the TV thing. I will forgive Gareth if he doesn’t get Top Gear.

          • Gareth says:

            We get Top Gear. I still don’t know how power and acceleration are directly equivalent: trucks have a lot of power and achieve very little acceleration. Also, I hear it as nought-to-sixty (nought-to-a-hundred being the metric version), not zero-to-sixty, so between that and the clue, I assumed this was some different beast we were referring to.

  8. snake911 says:

    In LA Times, 6 D, rag clued as low-quality paper. I know rag as high quality paper used by artists among others and it’s the most expensive. Never heard of low-quality rag paper.

  9. Nancy says:

    This was one of the tougher Saturday puzzles for me or am I just getting too old. I was almost stumped by 15 across and 28 down. Appletini was also tough.

  10. Bob says:

    Again, LAT hits its nadir in silly defs. Not worth the time to solve. Better luck next time, guys!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Bob, what do you mean by “silly defs”? Can you include a few examples of clues you dislike?

  11. Bob says:

    1)I’ve made baklava many times and used many recipes – NEVER used rosewater. 2) Dislike the use of portmanteau to mean a mere container – which it is not. 3) the cowboy song lyrics were YIPPEE YI KIYAY. Need more?

  12. CY Hollander says:

    Okay, I got entirely stuck in the northeast corner. Not sure I’ve ever heard of a GYROCOMPASS (10d. [Navigation device]), was thinking ANTIC or MUSIC was in Merrie Melodies (rather than Mel BLANC), was drawing a blank on the three 7s, and finally Googled 12d. [Third Pillar of Islam subject] to get ALMS and make headway there. 8a. [Jumbles] could be a verb or a noun; here, it’s the noun RAGBAGS. 16a. Xanadu-like], IDYLLIC—I wanted UTOPIAN but the crossings were no good.

    Sounds like I was on your wavelength, Amy. Immediately dropped in UTOPIAN for Xanadu-like, but couldn’t make it work with anything else, got COMPASS with relative ease but stalled on the first part (I think I may have once known of GYROCOMPASSES, but if so, they’d long been banished to the recesses of my memory), guessed MUSIC for the Merrie Melodies mainstay (my heuristic of I before C when it’s the end of a word didn’t serve me very well in this puzzle; it made it tougher to see ALMANAC as well), then deleted all my guesses and stared at an empty top-right for a long time.

    I finally broke through there after dubiously guessing AUTOCOMPASS. That was wrong, of course, but it gave me the O for ONSETS and that was my way in. The whole puzzle took me about an hour: about average for me overall, but slower than usual in the top right and faster everywhere else.

  13. Jeanie says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who thought the NYT was really hard. I hope I can be good enough someday to finish it in 7:14 *without* a headache.

  14. RP says:

    Re Saturday Stumper:
    My tween years of replaying the cast album of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat usually pays off crosswords-wise when it comes to possible colors and Jacob’s progeny. Not here. “Reuben was the eldest of the children of Israel, with Simeon and Levi the next in line… Naphtali and Isaacher with Asher and Dan… Zebulun and Gad brought the total to nine….” Asher is not Jacob’s second son. Maybe his second son with Leah or Leah’s maid or something but not his second of 12.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Wikipedia’s Asher article says “second son of Jacob and Zilpah.”

      • RP says:

        So Zilpah’s second. Or Jacob and Zilpah’s second. And now I can’t stop singing: Jacob, Jacob and sons… Men of the soil of the sheaf and crook. Jacob, Jacob and sons… A remarkable family in anyone’s book.

    • CY Hollander says:

      Yeah, that one really tripped me up for a while. Dropped in SIMON confidently, and didn’t change it to ASHER until forced to by the crossings. As Amy points out, ASHER was Jacob’s son with Zilpah, which is not the same as Jacob’s second son, period. An editorial oversight.

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