Saturday, March 7, 2015

Newsday 11:36 (Amy) 
NYT 6:54 (Amy) 
LAT 4:20 (Amy) 
CS 8:39 (Ade) 

David C. Duncan Dekker’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 3 7 15, no. 0307

NY Times crossword solution, 3 7 15, no. 0307

This 72-worder is a pangram, as highlighted in the mini-theme:

  • 1a. [Completely], FROM A TO Z.
  • 61a. [They use every letter 1-Across], PANGRAMS.

Now, I like Scrabbly letters in a puzzle, but not if they force compromises in the fill. I like smooth fill, and because this puzzle’s making a point of using each letter in the alphabet at least once, there are some suboptimal answer words. To wit:

  • 9a. [Southern river to Winyah Bay], PEEDEE. Would be modestly better with a South Carolina clue, something we’ve seen before. The “Winyah Bay” reference just estranges the PEEDEE, for which my only fondness derives from my friend P.D. using “peedee” as his online moniker.
  • 58a. [Breezed through something], ACED IT. The IT portion feels weird here.
  • 60a. [Place less value on], DERATE. Not a word I’ve ever used. Not sure I’ve seen it used by others, either.
  • 43d. [Cup-shaped forest fungus], PEZIZA? Are you kidding me? If even 1 in 100 of the erudite Crossword Fiend readers recognized this word, I’ll eat my hat. (Disclosure: I’m not wearing a hat.) I don’t know the MILK CAP mushroom either, but lots of mushroom names include “cap” and the clue (39d. [Toadstool that exudes latex when cut]) hints at the MILK part. Wikipedia tells me that the PEZIZA sometimes grows on dung.

Granted, while the PEZIZA felt showily out of place, the bulk of the fill is solid. The best stuff includes the FROM A TO Z/LEMONADE/ICEBOXES stack with smooth crossings all the way (ODE TO JOY! FLIMSY!), HIT SQUAD, DYSLEXIA, JO’S BOYS, and RUTABAGA. CALAMINE lotion, Boston’s BACK BAY, also nice. LOM and ODA are blah little bits, but the other 3s are solid.

Top clues:

  • 15a. [Something you might make a stand for], LEMONADE. Do you know the lemonade power handshake? If you’re not part of the lemonade solution, you’re part of the problem.
  • 53a. [Execute a motion on the fly?], ZIP. Zipping the pants fly.
  • 2d. [It might tell you to chill], RECIPE. Great clue!
  • 41d. [Sister of Pizza Hut], KFC. Only because now I’m hearing in my head “Peziza Hut.”

3.75 stars from me.

Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (Lars G. Doubleday byline)

Newsday crossword solution, 3 7 15, "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 3 7 15, “Saturday Stumper”

This puzzle was a knotty beast that made me work for everything, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Juicy fill and so many tricky/twisty clues that I could not for the life of me understand correctly until the crossings pointed me towards the answer and I back-solved the clue. Nothing patently unfair, just devious.


Not so sure about UPSET VICTIM as a solid phrase, but the sports-oriented clue [Fallen seed, often] makes me think that maybe this is something tennis buff Brad hears in tennis commentary. Doesn’t ring a bell for me, and boy, is that clue dastardly, making you picture leafy debris on the ground.

Clues I appreciated:

  • 17a. [Certain massage recipients], FRAGILE EGOS. I started with BREAD DOUGHS.
  • 47a. [Half a pair for pairs], SKATE. Pairs figure skating.
  • 49a. [Source of rolls], DRUM SET. Since I had BREAD DOUGHS before, drums weren’t my first thought.
  • 67a. [Function runner], TOASTMASTER. I was thinking of mathematical or computational functions, not social ones.
  • 3d. [Flat from overuse], STALE. Like a cliché, not a tire.
  • 8d. [Double in baccarat], CEES. I thought I’d need a gambling term and not a pair of C’s.
  • 13d. [Jobs in a digital workplace?], PEDICURES. Dang! Tricky clue.
  • 14d. [It has the lead], FRONT PAGE. Lead story, not pencil lead, lead role, or anything else.
  • 29d. [They covered ”Atlantis”], TILES. The space shuttle. Were you trying to think of a song called “Atlantis” with a well-known cover version?
  • 32d. [Crystal, nine times], OSCAR HOST. Billy Crystal, not mineralogy.
  • 33d. [”__ Stole My Lunch Money!” (2011 Weekly World News headline)], SASQUATCH. Perfect. No trickery, just funny.

4.25 stars from me.

Daniel Nierenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 3 7 15

LA Times crossword solution, 3 7 15

Quick and easy compared to today’s other two themelesses.

Favorite fill:

  • 17a. [Reminder, often], POST-IT NOTE. I had MENTAL NOTE first.
  • 28a. [Attire for filmdom’s The Mask], ZOOT SUIT. The Jim Carrey character, ’90s movie.
  • 21d. [Like shortbread], BUTTERY. Mmm, butter …
  • 2d. [Start work], CLOCK IN.
  • 61a. [Surrounded], UNDER SIEGE. Also the title of a Steven Seagal flick, I think.

Clues that taught me something:

  • 18a. [Largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago], ELBA. There’s a Tuscan Archipelago? Probably this has been in ELBA clues before but I don’t recall knowing it.
  • 25a. [Carbon compound found in crude oil], BUTENE. Meh.
  • 51d. [__ Sound, part of the Salish Sea], PUGET. I know Salish is an important word in the Pacific Northwest but not that there is a Salish Sea. It’s inland!
  • 37d. [Diamond buyer’s choice], ROSE CUT. Apparently mostly seen in antiques, and not used much at all in new diamonds. Pretty, though.

Fill that was less pleasing: uncommon abbrev RCT, plural BELAS, UNI-, BUTENE, NSEC (particularly when the verb SECONDS is also in the grid), ATRA, RETS, ERSE, and NAHA.

3.3 stars from me.

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.07.15: "Top Tens"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.07.15: “Top Tens”

Good day, everyone!  Again, March Madness related activities have me limited in talking about the puzzle for today – though, if judging by yesterday’s write-up when I was occupied, it might look like a normal-length grid. Anyways, here goes. Well, unless I’m not noticing anything, the grid just had Xs…a lot of Xs. Twelve to be exact (at least if my eyes didn’t deceive me). And the grid, with the prevalence of Xs, needed a whole lot of entries involving cars to make this work! Let’s count the ways: XKE (28A: [Certain Jaguar]), MAXIMA (54A: [Camry competitor]), XTERRA (43D: [Nissan SUV]). There’s no X in MIATAS, but that’s another car that’s present (5D: [Sporty Mazdas]).  Other vehicles in the grid include ANIT-TANK (18A: [Designed for use against an armored combat vehicle]) and AIR TAXIS (57A: [Carriers that fly on demand]). Oh, and then there’s DENT, something you definitely don’t want on your car (22A: [Job for a body shop]). Decent little sub theme with all the vehicles. As I typed the last sentence, the next to last person in the media room just left, and one of the staff workers asked if he was done. That’s definitely my cue to get out of here, but not before I briefly talk about…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: X-GAMES (47D: Annual competition that includes skateboarding]) – The X-GAMES include many other events, and there’s also a summer and winter version of the Olympics of alternative/extreme sports. An ESPN baby, it was created by the network in 1995, which seemed to be the time that there was a skateboarding boom…or at least the time when many teenagers and young adults took to the streets with both their skateboards and cameras to film their exploits in parks.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Saturday, March 7, 2015

  1. Evad says:

    Don’t make a meal of your hat on my account, never heard of the PEZIZA fungus either. Had JO’S TOYS instead of BOYS, thinking RAGTAGS the more common phrase. Maybe Alcott missed an opportunity to write about her heroine’s POMS…

    • Huda says:

      NYT. That mid-Atlantic area was something…PEZIZA included. I tried LEZIZA at one point because it means delicious in Arabic, although in retrospect there are not too many forests or forest fungi in deserts… Desperation…
      Speaking of which, Louisa May wrote, at various points in the solve, THE BOYS, OUR BOYS, and BIG BOYS. All sounding more adventuresome than the actual title. Evad and I could collabote and come up with BOY TOYS…
      Still, there was a lot to like, as noted by Amy.

      • ArtLvr says:

        Here’s hoping Huda won’t take to creating crosswords, with all the languages at her disposal… At least I knew JO’S BOYS & DYSLEXIA, and really liked TYPE B. As for the sociologist starting with MA_, I was hung up a while wanting the too-long Margaret Mead, because of a prof I knew at Yale whose jealousy of her fame was legend. Will a kind person please explain what YANG has to do with light? Thanks!

  2. Brucenm says:

    Wow. Obnoxious end zone dance. I loved the puzzle and I found it incredibly easy, starting with the gimmes at 47 a and d, and finishing it in what seemed like no time at all. No, I don’t know a peziza from a pez dispenser, but everything was easily gettable from the crosses. “Peziza” could just as well be a rock group, and if someone told me it was, I would believe them.

    It is increasingly driven home to me how totally out of sync I am with the majority’s criteria of assessment. I liked this one because it was a perfect score on my personal BS – o’meter. Most puzzles have upwards of 20 squares which for me might as well be totally unclued, which is too much of a spot to give the rest of the world. The only thing close to a “trendy” entry was the 3-letter 29a, which was easily guessable.

    Max Weber wrote, among many other things, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of capitalism, one of the most widely read and discussed, most important and influential philosophical – sociological treatises of the (early) 20th. century. Great book. He had a fascinatingly ambivalent relationship with and attitude towards Karl Marx.

    • David L says:

      I found it smooth sailing too, except that I totally blanked on the PEZIZA/ZIP cross — ran the alphabet twice and still didn’t see it (in retrospect it’s pretty obvious but it didn’t seem so at the time).

      My only other problem was having FEEBLE for FLIMSY until the crosses set me right.

      • sbmanion says:

        Exactly the same for me on PEZIZA/ZIP.

        I found this puzzle to be very hard. I had entries everywhere and knew I would eventually get it, but it was a grind for me.

        I have always wondered what sadist created the typewriter keyboard with our most common letter the most difficult to reach for a right-handed beginner.


        • Evad says:

          I recall the QWERTY keyboard was configured the way it was so that the arms of commonly-used keys wouldn’t hit each other on a manual typewriter, reducing the chance one would have to reach in there and get ink all over one’s fingers to unstick them. But if Wheel of Fortune tells us anything, RSTLNE are rather bunched together in the middle to upper left. Any other ideas?

  3. Gary R says:

    DNF the NYT. Couldn’t see PEEDEE or LARYNX because I was stuck on deCODING as an intelligence activity.

    Really wanted FBI for Johnson and Kennedy follower. I guess ERA could follow almost anything, but it’s far from the first thing that comes to mind with Johnson or Kennedy – Johnson especially. Interestingly (to me) the Google n-gram viewer comes up with no hits at all for Kennedy era or Johnson era (or any other “presidential” era I tried).

    • Zulema says:

      I agree about ERA. Even after I had it I couldn’t see what it had to do with these presidents. There is no ERA attached to them.

  4. Matt says:

    I’m not a big fan of pangrams generally– but I will give credit for the spectacular triple or quadruple (!) variety. This one doesn’t fall into that category, doesn’t particularly sparkle for me, and there were some obvious problems that were due directly to the pangram constraint.

  5. Cole says:

    PEZIZA was new to me and I had PERIZA/RIP for a while.

  6. klew archer says:

    Loved the Stumper, kudos to Brad and Doug. Had NEWAGEDEITY in 15A for a while.

  7. Margaret says:

    I guessed wrong in the LAT and had BUTANE/MALLAUS rather than BUTENE/MALLEUS. I’d also quibble that overtime isn’t caused by NOSCORE but tie score or 00 (zero-zero) score. Once a game has begun, perhaps no one has scored yet, but the score is zero-zero. OTOH, I hear the baseball announcers say this all the time (“there’s no score after three innings”) so maybe I’m too picky. Last on my list, does anyone else think IKID is not the same thing as “fooled ya?”

  8. Gareth says:

    The hit song “Atlantis” was by Donovan. I doubt anyone would cover it though – way too flaky!

    • klew archer says:

      lol. That had me stumped for quite a while. I believe that song was playing during one of the big scenes in “Goodfellas.”

  9. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT NE got me. Didn’t know the river, the county or the actor and while I had a few correct answers I just couldn’t see LARYNX and PLIES just never came close to being on the radar.

Comments are closed.