Saturday, February 28, 2015

Newsday tk (Amy) 
LAT 5:49 (Amy) 
NYT 5:03 (Amy) 
CS 11:01(Ade) 

Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 28 15, no 0228

NY Times crossword solution, 2 28 15, no 0228

Good flow through the center diagonal swath of the puzzle, but those NE and SE corners are fairly cut off from the rest of the party. I got through the NE okay, thanks to correctly guessing just off the K that the [“Stovepipe” of W.W. II] would be a BAZOOKA. Two K’s in DICK CLARK reminded me that Barry likes to go Scrabbly, and a Z/K word is right up his alley.

I know what you’re thinking. “What on earth is a TITFER?”, right? The clue—49d. [Bit of headwear, in British lingo]—doesn’t really help me at all. To the dictionary! “Brit. informal, a hat. Abbreviation of rhyming slang tit for tat.” Good lord, is it a Cockney thing?

Hits: The PANAMA HAT/IRON CROSS/GETS A GRIP stack is solid, though I didn’t know the 15a. [Classic symbol of rebellion] bit for IRON CROSS. TOPAZ is a cool stone of many colors. DICK CLARK, PHOTOBOMB, the weird FRYOLATOR, a set of PIGLETS, a REPO MAN, BLU-RAY, and that BAZOOKA.

Misses: ABAFT and ALERO are pretty snoozy, and there are about eight abbreviations. PART B, NONS…

Five things:

  • 16a. [“Bluebeard’s Castle,” e.g.], OPERA. Sounded more like an ’80s video game to me, but I gambled on OPERA. For those who were stuck in that section, 53a. [“Bluebeard’s Castle” librettist Balázs], BELA, provided a little hint.
  • 6d. [City that rivaled ancient Sparta], ARGOS. My classics education was spotty so I leaned on the crossings here.
  • 39d. [Some cookies], SPYWARE. Have you got a good recipe for those?
  • 40d. [Holder of many a diorama], SHOEBOX. Yes! Just threw one out in the 40 Bags in 40 Days purge that’s going on here.
  • 41d. [Musical embellishment], ROULADE. That’s a musical term? Here, have a recipe for food.

3.8 stars from me.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 2 28 15

LA Times crossword solution, 2 28 15

Second Silk of the day, and this one was tougher. There are some zippy entries in there, but also some snoozy noun phrases—that ANVIL BLOCK ([Metal-bending aid]) delivered me to SPONGE BATH, BOX CAMERA, and IN-HOME CARE. ANVIL BLOCK! Is that just a redundant synonym for anvil, which has “block” in its definition? It’s not a term I’d seen before, and not one that I feel is enhancing my life to know.

I did like seeing ON THE MONEY, ZAGREB, TENTACLES (Did you know an octopus has a “mating arm”? True story. “The male will extend his arm as long as he can and try to accomplish the copulation from as far away as he can,” in some species; in others, the mating arm is detachable), Tippi HEDREN (grandmother of Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades star), MOCK-UP, DOUBLE CLICK, and Hitchcock’s TORN CURTAIN.

The puzzle’s got a lot of proper nouns—people, brand names, titles. If you don’t know things like Garibaldi’s wife ANITA (huh?), dated YAKOV Smirnoff and CLEO Laine, and Thomas ARNE clued atypically as [“A-Hunting We Will Go” songwriter], this puzzle may have felt like a bit of a slog. Plural SALLYS, oh my!

Seven things:

  • 22a. [Battery, e.g.], TORT. When I solved this puzzle last night, I was utterly lost on this one. Now it’s obvious: assault and battery, that sort of battery.
  • 35a. [__ Raven: Baltimore neighborhood], LOCH. Does Bawlmer have a lot of Scottish place names or something?
  • 56a. [What “D” may mean, monetarily], DENVER MINT. Such as on a coin.
  • 4d. [Bk. about the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls], NEH. May I just say that abbreviated books of the Bible are one of my long-time unfavoritest types of fill? YMMV.
  • 9d. [Marne modifier], TRES. This top stack took me a while to assemble, and this clue wasn’t helping. Marne is a French city, but “modifier” is awfully vague.
  • 27d. [Barking horse relative], ZEBRA. I read this as “relative of a barking horse” and wondered what a barking horse is. [Barking relative of a horse] would have been a skosh clearer.
  • 41d. [Charged], HAD AT. What? No. Crosswords have taught us that it’s always RAN AT. “Have at it” is familiar, but HAD AT just feels like too much of a stretch. COAXED INTO isn’t sparkly enough to make that corner worthwhile. DONA, ACT I, -THON, ENOCH? Meh.

3.33 stars from me.

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Strike Up the Band”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution,. 02.28.15: "Strike Up the Band"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution,. 02.28.15: “Strike Up the Band”

Hey everybody! Hope your weekend is getting off to a good start. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, involves multiple-word terms in which the first word also happens to be a synonym to the word “strike,” and all of the entries have a musical tie. Also, the word “strike” is something I rarely have achieved at the bowling alley in all of my experiences at the lanes!

  • HIT PARADE (17A: [Top 40 tunes]) – Sorry. I don’t listen to a lot of Top 40 music these days.
  • RAP GROUP (25A: [Wu-Tang Clan or A Tribe Called Quest]) Now these two rap groups, I definitely have listened to. “I left my wallet in El, Segundo, left my wallet in El Segundo…I gotta get, I got, got to get it!” (Kudos to those who are familiar with those lyrics, as well as the song.)
  • BEAT BOX (48A: [Rhythmic accompaniment in some a capella bands]) Another music artist I’ve listened to over the years: Doug E. Fresh, a.k.a. The Human Beat Box.
  • KICK DRUM (62A: [Instrument played with the foot])
  • CLUB MUSIC (62A: [Stuff played at the disco])

Again, my lack of seafood eating definitely won’t come in handy if and when I ever go to RED LOBSTER (11D: [Chain with the slogan “Sea Food Differently”]).  My mother is all about going to Red Lobster one of these days, so I’ll have to take her…and hope that they serve steak! Also liked the entry symmetrical to Red Lobster, COSMIC DUST (29D: [Fine filler of space]). Once again, we get to play one of our favorite games while doing crosswords, “Which Jessica are you?,” and, for today, ALBA is the winner (23A: [Actress Jessica of “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For]). You’ll just have to wait until next time, Jessica Biel. I’m not sure if I ever talked about the late IRABU at length in the sports section or not (12D: [Former Yankee pitcher Hideki]). Even if I have, it’s never a bad time to mention one of the best “nicknames” in sports history, the name that former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner gave Irabu after not covering first base during an preseason game: “Fat, p**** toad.” In the end, it was sad to hear a few years back that he had passed away at 42.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SKATER (47D: [Evgeni Plushenko or Elvis Stojko]) – These two aren’t just SKATERs, but very successful ones at that. Plushenko won the gold medal in the singles competition in Torino in 2006 and won silver in the 2002 and 2010 Olympics, representing Russia Stojko, whose parents named him Elvis because they were fans of the singer, won silver in the singles competition in both the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer and the 1998 Olympics in Nagano representing Canada.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge.

Take care!


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14 Responses to Saturday, February 28, 2015

  1. Brucenm says:

    The Bluebeard’s Castle mini-theme gimmes were helpful. Actually two Belas involved — Bartok and Bela Balasz, writer, critic, fascinating figure in his own right, close friend of both Bartok and Kodaly. The opera is sensational. Short, (one long act), 2-character a male and a female. It starts with a dark theater and a long stage whispered monologue. Eerie, spooky highly symbolic with blood, all kinds of psycho-sexual imagery. The characters pass through door after door of a weird, dreamscape castle, as if peeling back layers of the human psyche. I have often wondered if it provided a model for some of the computer games where you wander through weird doors and rooms. I liked those old style computer games (anyone remember Phantasmagoria?) much more than the modern ones. Anyhow, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take a look and listen to the opera.

  2. David L says:

    I normally struggle with Barry Silk’s puzzles, but I breezed through this one (knowing TITFER, and yes, it’s a Cockney thing, helped) until I came to a total halt in the SE. Even after getting WEARISOME and STRETCHER it took me a while to figure out the rest. Is ONESHOT really a thing? I don’t know how I would use it in a phrase.

    The only IRONCROSS I know is the Nazi war decoration, which I assume is not what’s being referred to here. Wikipedia says it’s an ancient Teutonic thing, but I don’t know how that makes it a symbol of rebellion.

    • Papa John says:

      I think the iron cross in question is a favorite among motorcycle clubs, most notably, the Hell’s Angels.

      I’d quibble about 44A “Make an impression on” to mean EMBOSS. Impress is the opposite of emboss. This, to me, is one of those clues that’s too smart for it’s own good. The rest of the puzzle was okay but not great.

      John Farmer: Thanks for the Paula Poundstone link, yesterday — LMAO. Had it not been for that funny video of Obama I saw that ended with him taking a selfie with a long pole, a “selfie stick”, I would have reacted just like she did — “What the hell is that?!?!” (I don’t know how to post a hyperlink, so you’ll have to Google “Obama viral video” and it will pop up. It’s a promotion for the health care program.)

  3. huda says:

    NYT: It’s a cool puzzle that flowed in the North and killed me in the South. I put down MAYONATOR at one point, thinking they must go through a lot of mayo in diners… Never, ever heard of Fryolator or Titfer. Did not think that frequent flyer programs were in place before Pan Am disappeared, but I guess they must have since it hung in there till 1991.
    All in all, a mighty struggle with a good puzzle.

    • Brucenm says:

      Mark Twain story, perhaps apocryphal, perhaps not. He found himself seated at a dinner party next to an exuberant young lady who aspired to be a literary and cultural patroness, clad in a shockingly low-cut, revealing gown:

      YL: Mr. Twain, I know that you are a great and celebrated wit and humorist, but I intend to give you tit for tat.

      MT: Very well — tat.

  4. dgh says:

    why is “do-re-mi” KALE?

  5. Gareth says:

    Easy Saturday (a little harder than Friday, but still easier than Thursday, and way easier than Friday’s bear of an LAT!) Two answers appeared that I could barely believe: FRYOLATOR & TITFER. The latter caused initial problems because TRILBY is the same number of letters, and it’s also something very, very much more common… PHOTOBOMB is a great answer, but has anyone actually laughed at one. I find the biggest reaction is likely to be a smirk.

  6. Karen says:

    How come LAT puzzle in my newspaper is not the same LAT puzzle discussed here?

  7. Karen says:

    All the time. And my newspaper is The Los Angeles Times.


  8. Karen says:

    Mea culpa!
    I confused NYT with LAT!
    Excuse (?)….ill with the cold of the century.
    Thank you for your patience and for all the good work you do!

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