Saturday, April 11, 2015

Newsday 11:36, 1 Google (Amy) 
Fireball 9:32 (Amy) 
NYT 7:06 (Amy) 
LAT 6:15 (Amy) 
CS untimed (Ade) 

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 11 15, no 0411

NY Times crossword solution, 4 11 15, no 0411

Okay! We’ve got a central quad-stack in this grid. After I’ve finished the puzzle, I study a stack’s crossings to see if they are up to non-stack snuff. Here, 12 of the 15 crossings feel pretty solid to me, and the other three—OLEAN, partial ONE AT, and SSTS—are pretty blah. The non-stack portions of the grid have some rough stuff as well—I know lots of people who’ve done online dating and I have never, ever encountered the term E-DATE ([Computer hookup?]). Never! UTE, UPI, and ELLS, that sort of stuff—dull but not puzzle-killers, particularly late in the week. I like world capitals in my Saturday puzzles, so I won’t ding this one for Bandar SERI Begawan (which I have trouble spelling right in Sporcle quizzes).

The quad-stack is rather notable for the absolute lack of the word ONE’S:

  • 30a. [Borrowing bargains], NO-INTEREST LOANS.
  • 39a. [What parades may necessitate], ALTERNATE ROUTES.
  • 40a. [Chicken preference?], BEATING A RETREAT. I prefer a retreat to be beaten hastily, personally. And take note of the dupe with 11d: HAND-BEATEN. I have a KitchenAid mixer, shiny red, and yet I ignore it and just use a spoon to mix whatever I’m baking. I find the washing of accoutrements to be inconvenient.
  • 41a. [Counter intelligence?], SALES ASSISTANTS.

These 15s are all rock-solid, though there is that little crutch of using a plural S on three of them. At least there’s no dull -NESS or -LESS ending on the other one crossing an only-in-crosswords SSSS hiss.

Likes: ACERBIC (so much better than the ten-times-more-common-in-crosswords ACERB) and FRANTIC, good -IC adjectives. ELIOT NESS and JET LI, full name. (But I don’t like the full-name JET LI being cross-referenced to last-name-only CHAN, Jackie. Awkward mismatch.) “PLEASE, SIR.” SHIATSU. LOATH, a word I am wont to use (“wont” is a word I am not loath to use). SATAY, your [Food on a stick] alternative to KEBAB/KABOB or CORN DOG.

Three more things:

  • 51d. [Cats with very fine short fur], REXES. I don’t understand why this puzzle has no AMYS or DEBS or JEFFS to speak of.
  • 25d. [Fitting entertainment at an arcade?], TETRIS. I really wanted those Utah outlines of black squares in the 3/27 puzzle to fit together Tetris-style.
  • 32d. [Boardwalk cooler], ITALIAN ICE. This was a non-boardwalk favorite of mine in childhood.
  • 30d. [Cops], NABS. I’m not seeing it. Can you give me a sentence where the two words are interchangeable?

Four stars from me.

David Duncan Dekker’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 4 11 15

LA Times crossword solution, 4 11 15

Solid themeless, tougher than the usual Saturday LAT, but right in the difficulty zone I prefer (6 to 11 minutes on my personal time scale). I breezed through the northwest quadrant but the other sections took more wrangling.

The constructor challenges us to spot his “mini-theme,” and that term usually means there are two related answers, typically in symmetrically paired locations. I think he’s referring to 55a: TWO-TIMES ([Betrays]) and that the grid’s a double pangram, with each letter used twice. The fill’s rather Scrabbly and I see two of each rare letter. Not going to count the rest. Often a pangram in a themed puzzle has ugly compromises in the fill in order to work each letter in, but a themeless is more flexible and the fill is pretty solid here. Terrible plural two-word abbreviation AT NOS, random Roman numeral CCIV, and plural suffix ETTES are the worst things here, but this 72-worder is otherwise clean.

Toughest bits:

  • 16a. [Brazilian ballroom dance], MAXIXE. Couldn’t remember if it was MAXACA or what.
  • 53a. [Title I of the Agricultural Act of 1956], SOIL BANK. Entirely unfamiliar term for me.

Five more things:

  • 27a. [Radar screen blip], BOGEY. I got this solely because of the 2001 movie Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Is that bad?
  • 44a. [Krombacher output], BIER. I had my first Krombacher Pils last year and liked it. It’s the most popular pilsner in Germany. Does that mean it’s akin to Bud Light, or that the Germans make good, smooth-drinking beers?
  • Favorite row: The casual “IN A FEW” and the incredulous “OH, COME ON!”
  • 12d. [Scaly reproductive organ], PINE CONE. Were you all picturing lizard or fish genitalia too?
  • 27d. [Sacks of diamonds?], BASES. Baseball diamonds and not priceless gemstones.

Four stars from me for this 72-worder.

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 4 11 15 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 4 11 15 “Saturday Stumper”

I had to Google to find the Olsen Twins’ 1995 movie (IT TAKES TWO) in order to fill in the southeast section of this puzzle. Too many “what could this be getting at” clues intersecting one another. Your mileage may vary—perhaps you nailed that section but were lost in another corner?

Here were the temporarily insoluble bits in that corner:

  • 45d. [Dupe, old-style], DITTO. A duplicate, such as a paper copied on the ditto machine or a mimeograph, and not “You duped me!”
  • 53d. [Naturalist’s ascending axis], STEM. A plant stem? And not part of a graph?
  • 47d. [Post master?], SYSOP. Feels tone-deaf to me. Bloggers are masters of their posts, and a great many sites with posts do not have anyone called a SYSOP. Dave’s our webmaster here, not our sysop. (Maybe he wants to be both. If he wants to be a sysop, that’s fine.)
  • 50d. [”Love is __ but you better not pick it” (Ronstadt lyric)], A ROSE. Don’t recognize this at all. Has to be clued as a partial because otherwise it would duplicate RISE UP.
  • 48d. [Common tank contents], TETRA. I don’t think of a single fish as “contents.” Tank contents are the liquid filling a tank.
  • 46a. [Europa __ (cultural-heritage group)], NOSTRA. “Our Europe”? Fair enough—but I’ve never, ever heard of this NOSTRA.
  • I had GIVE for CAVE and SLOPED for SNAKED, which made it hard to piece together FISCAL YEAR ([Time for the books]), IT TAKES TWO, and STEVEDORES ([Ship-to-shore figures]).


Other bits:

  • 33a. [It often has a woven top], CHERRY PIE. I like cherries but not cherry pie, but it’s still a lovely crossword answer.
  • 36a. [Cans of Worcestershire], GAOLS. Cans as in jails.
  • 16a. [__ blue], OPAL. That’s a color??
  • 17a. [Far from clear], ALL MIXED UP. I had the –IXED UP and tried BOLLIXED UP first.
  • 1d. [Surfer’s scratch], E-CASH. Terrible answer. Take some E-CASH on your E-DATE so you can buy all the E-ZINEs you want, and then be sure to send a thank-you E-NOTE afterwards. No.
  • 5d. [NFL team with a bull-headed logo], TEXANS. Longhorns, I assume.
  • 30d. [Setting of a 2014 crisis], THE CRIMEA. Excellent answer. The situation remains precarious in 2015.
  • I feel like APPLE IPAD and IPOD MINIS have a semantic duplication. Also, IPOD MINIS kinda sucks as an answer, as it was discontinued after just 18 months in 2005. Heck, the Palm TREO is a less outdated answer, and that bit the dust in 2008.

3.75 stars. Taking off points for TASS, plural TALCS, E-CASH, and the cluing pile-up that mired me.

Jacob Stulberg’s Fireball crossword, “Grow a Pair!”

Fireball crossword solution, 4 11 15, "Grow a Pair"

Fireball crossword solution, 4 11 15, “Grow a Pair”

No, please, nobody reschedule a weekly puzzle for Saturday. I have already blogged three puzzles and now a fourth? I’m over it, and I may take it out on the puzzle.

What is this, a 14×16 grid? Not sure if there was no way to do this theme in a standard square puzzle.

The theme answers have four (or five) letters that need to be doubled in their Down crossings, and those four (or five) letters spell out a word (which I’ve circled) that typically comes in pairs:

  • 15a. [“What a thing to say!”], BITE YOUR TONGUE. The TONG bit is doubled to make Trent LOTT, the never-heard-of-it [Cable channel once known as Sleuth] CLOO, ANNUS looking like ANUS in the grid, and Bobby RIGGS. Pair of tongs, fine. Cloo is not available in 78% of households with TV, so you are excused if you’ve never heard of it, either.
  • 31a. [Farm vis-à-vis a factory, often], SUPPLIER. PLIERs, RUPP, LLAMAS, WIIS, WEEK, ERRS.
  • 41a. [Special Olympians?], PANTHEON. Great clue. Pair of PANTs, abbrev APPT, SAAB, INNS, LABATT.
  • 59a. [Tire-changing tools], SOCKET WRENCHES. Pair of SOCKs, abbrev ASSOC, COOPT, plural abbrev ACCTS, VIKKI.

I would like the theme better if all of the doubled Downs worked as regular fill without the doubling. Ten of the 17 Downs do, but SAB and LABAT and WEK, etc., do not. I would also like it more if there weren’t random double letters crossing the theme answers—see SEEP and DEER crossing 15a and GEEKY crossing 41a. I tried ST{EE}P for 4d.

Tons of trivia clues, and they struck me as excessive. [Singer with the 1964 album “Shakespeare and All That Jazz”], [“Spies Like Us” setting], [Comedian whose nephew managed Van Halen], [The B-school Thunderbird is part of it] (I don’t understand what any of this means), [___ Consumer Products (company in “RoboCop”)], [Kentucky Derby winner between I’ll Have Another and California Chrome], [Puppyfoot’s suit] (it’s CLUBS … because the suit of clubs icon looks like a puppy’s foot? Have never, ever encountered the term puppyfoot before), [Yankee pitcher Lidle who died in a Manhattan plane crash], [“Raging Bull” wife], [Author of the children’s book “The Bomb and the General”] … really? All of these? It’s excessive, and I love trivia. If you are reading this and didn’t solve the puzzle, I ask you: How many of these do you know?

Three more things”

  • 44d. [Straight edgers?], FLUSHES. Poker. A straight edges out a flush. Nobody calls anything that edges something else out an “edger,” though.
  • 64a. [They make a lot of contacts at work], OPTICIANS. Cute clue.
  • 47a. [“Lopez Tonight” channel], TBS. Why go with a show that stopped airing over 3 1/2 years ago when the channel has plenty of current shows?

3.33 stars from me. Too much annoyance and not enough fun payoff with the double letters/doubled items.

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pooch Parade”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.11.15: "Pooch Parade"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.11.15: “Pooch Parade”

Good day, crossword lovers! Hope you’re having a good weekend so far. How many of you crossword lovers are also dog lovers? My guess is a good number of you, thought I easily could be wrong. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, is for the dogs, as each of the four theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the first word is also a breed of pooch.

  • BOXER SHORTS (18A: [Drawers of a sort]) – I can admit it: I have a weakness for boxers (dogs)…they’re so adorable and fun to be around!
  • POINTER FINGER (28A: [Neighbor of the thumb])
  • MALTESE FALCON (46A: [1941 Humphrey Bogart film, with “The”])
  • POODLE SKIRT (58A: [Typical sock hop attire])

Liked the theme a lot, and each of the theme answers were very solid, though I initially put in ‘boxer briefs’ instead of ‘boxer shorts.’ That tricky DENEB came up once again, and got tripped up on it and needed its crossings to get it once more (32A: [Star in Cygnus]). Also couldn’t get GOER immediately, even when I had GO-R (24D: [Opera follower]). Maybe it’s because I’m not an operagoer in real life that I couldn’t get it from the off. (That doesn’t mean I haven’t been to an opera, nor enjoyed it.  I just haven’t had the time to go to more opera productions.) I know a friend of mine who told me that he was spit at by an ALPACA when he visited a friend’s farm a while back (16A: [Animal with prized fiber]). Man, I probably would have freaked out if that happened to me. Oh, and please tell me that someone out there thought about the endings of must Scooby-Doo mysteries when coming across MEDDLING (3D: [Interfering behavior]). And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids! 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WYNN (41D: [Baseball Hall of Famer Early]) – Here’s a very interesting statistic about long-time Major League pitcher Early WYNN, who spent his most productive years with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox in the 1940s and 1950s. He made his MLB debut in 1939 for the Washington Senators, but won his one and only Cy Young Award 20 YEARS LATER, in 1959, when he went 22-10 for a Chicago White Sox team that made it to the World Series. Part of his MLB service was interrupted as he served in the United States Army during World War II.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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27 Responses to Saturday, April 11, 2015

  1. Martin says:

    If anyone’s interested just for fun there super easy unofficial Monday/Tuesday clued version of today’s NYT crossword here:

    And a bonus unpublished quadstack puzzle “4 Play” here courtesy of myself and George Barany:


    • howlinwolf says:

      Really enjoyed the “4 Play” puzzle….4.5+ for me. I know that not all like puzzles in the multistack format, but they are my favorites. Maybe, another book?

  2. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT: Almost said “No MAS” but finished it. Liked the CEO clue but it wasn’t a fun solve. Agree with Amy on NABS. LAT: TMI and not much fun as well.

  3. Martin says:

    Here’s where the NABS/cops clue combo came from:

    —verb (used with object), copped, cop·ping. Informal.

    to catch; nab.
    to steal; filch.
    to buy (narcotics).

    The dictionary. This is one of the primary definitions cited. I’m not trying to be nasty, but I’ve never understood some people’s aversions to checking the dictionary before complaining that a word/definition are wrong (or at least wrong enough to make an issue out of it).


    • I didn’t know this definition was so common, but I always thought “cop a feel” sort of meant this.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      So cops can cop a copper?

      • David L says:

        Talking of dictionaries — I checked my trusty MW11 for PAT and “Opportune” and can find no overlap.

        The problem with (some) dictionaries is that they record all and every instance of a word, even when used in a way far from its typical or well-understood meaning, or even erroneously. For example, many American dictionaries list “smithy” as a synonym for “blacksmith,” because one critic somewhere misunderstood Longfellow’s poem that begins “Under a spreading chestnut tree/the village smithy stands.”

        So you can find dictionary support for definitions that are, as far I’m concerned, plain wrong. I don’t object to the dictionaries doing that, because their job is to enlighten perplexed readers. But, to be frank, I think crossword constructors who use dictionaries to come up with strained definitions are playing a game of gotcha with the solver.

    • Jim Firenze says:

      …and never EVER heard of e-dating (despite *gasp* FRIENDS who do online dating!!).

      Ever EVER heard of Google?? ;-)

      Ironically, my iPad autocorrected edating to e-dating. Apparently, my iPad is MY friend. Hehe

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I haven’t heard people using the “nab” meaning of “cop.” Dictionaries probably include a boatload of definitions that were once in more common use but that hardly anyone uses anymore. Note that I am not some doofus who isn’t familiar with how language is used. How fair is it to pull out a less familiar definition of a word just to make a puzzle harder? Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s just annoying.

      Note that is a brand-name dating site (one that I’ve never heard of—my friends have used Match, JDate, eHarmony, OKCupid, and others), but EDATE is clued as if it’s a generic term that everyone uses. I don’t know anyone who uses the term. It sure doesn’t look like much of a generic term if you check (as MAS suggests!) the dictionary:

      • Jim Firenze says:

        Such are the vagaries of language evolution, but many words from THIS dictionary are in the common parlance, and are making their way into the traditional sources:

        Trust me, it’s a word *my* friends have used, but I may be much younger than you.

        Just the other day, I told my wife I copped a coaster from the brewpub we like, so your review for that clunked for me as well.

        Friends ARE a good source for the latest jargon, but the Internet is probably more comprehensive. Or choosing a wider variety of friends.

        I don’t know MAS, but it was due to him for one of the two main reasons I stopped reading the Rex Parker blog. Twice he was accused of being a database jockey, on top of being vilified for the quad stacks, and it got too tiresome to read the other daily snark with that in the back of my mind. (The other reason was for driving Andrea Carla Michaels off his blog.)

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Ah, but Urban Dictionary is also bloated with “definitions” that are not in wide use at all, horrible and disgusting and abusive terms. It can be helpful, but you have to acknowledge that its reliability is mighty iffy.

          • Jim Firenze says:

            Absolutely. And you know what? I loathe adding “e” to the beginnings of words to make them somehow trendy and “now”. Maybe MAS hates it too, and tried to hide it behind a ? clue, who knows. ;-)

            I also loathe the *word* “phat” for that matter. And “dis”, and “pwned”, and, and…. ;-)

    • Kameron says:

      I’ll just add that nab = cop is common in urban/rap slang — it’s one of the more familiar meanings for me, actually.

  4. David Dekker says:

    Greetings, Word Nerds!

    Firstly, I hope everyone who took the time today to challenge my first puzzle published in the L.A. Times enjoyed their solve.

    Secondly, there may be some folks out there that may be interested in doing a double-take on this one, as one may or may not have noticed – that, there is also a bit of a mini-theme that has been added to this puzzle…

    Did you spot it?

    …If so, just post “Got It”, so that others can also try to “Get It” on their own.

    Happy puzzling y’all,

    David C. Duncan Dekker

  5. David L says:

    A technical question: my computer/firefox/NYT link is supposed to remember my login, but lately it doesn’t, so that every morning when I come to do the crossword I have to log in again — and yes, I check the box that says to remember the login. But it doesn’t.

    Anyone else having problems? Firefox has been slow in general for me recently, so maybe I need to clear out my cache or discard cookies or something.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It’s not you, it’s the Times. I keep my browser open and it’s been logging me out every day. The first day, Deb told me it happens when they have a site update. But it’s happened three or four days in a row now. I am wasting valuable *seconds* of my day!

  6. huda says:

    NYT: I struggled to complete it but looking back at it, it seems eminently doable and very free of junk. It’s not filled with obscure names that I have no way of knowing. I think it IS the cluing that made it particularly hard.

    I put REDWINE in place of MADEIRA. The fact that the D and I fit, along with the length, made it hard to rethink it. Of course, Madeira is a more specific alternative to Port…

    My favorite is the carpet/egg clue. It popped right out for me. May be because I grew up in a place were people really did beat the carpets– hanging them on the edges of balconies and with a big carpet beater. I just checked and you can buy the darn things on Amazon!

    I ended up giving it a high rating, in spite of my struggles.

  7. Margaret says:

    Never heard of MAXIXE, AREQUIPA or OSTINATO from the LAT, but the crosses were mostly easy enough to figure them out (I wasn’t positive about PETITE suite either.) I’m familiar with seed banks, so SOIL BANK kind of made sense to me. I enjoyed the rest of the puzzle which went pretty smoothly!

    • klew archer says:

      MAXIXE is also the name for one of the basic rhythmic beats of the Brazilian musical style know as Choro. Believe some version of the dance crossed over to Europe and North America in the earlier decades of the twentieth century due to the ballroom dancing craze led by Vernon and Irene Castle.

      Kind of like that MAXIXE was above another musical answer, ATONAL.

  8. dr. fancypants says:

    EDATE is simply Not a Thing. I’ve done my share of online dating–and even met my wife that way!–and never once encountered that term. Not sure why silly “E” terms keep getting a pass from editors.

  9. Gareth says:

    The PINECONE clue was the best thing that happened today, crossword-wise…

  10. Bob says:

    LAT: give me a break! Rezoned (having done this often) means a change in USE – NOT boundaries. And IN A FEW???? As you used in your puzzle: “OH COME ON!” One star only.

  11. Martin says:

    Amy says:

    “How fair is it to pull out a less familiar definition of a word just to make a puzzle harder?”

    Martin says: since always with later-in-the-week puzzles. And this is a Saturday puzzle, sheesh!

    Besides, “Cop” was citation #1 for NAB on the iPhone Websters (as I cut and pasted above).


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