Saturday, April 18, 2015

Newsday 9:08 (Amy) 
NYT 6:43 (Amy) 
LAT 5:15 (Amy) 
CS 9:44 (Ade) 

Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 18 15, no. 0418

NY Times crossword solution, 4 18 15, no. 0418

Another unusual themeless grid, quite different from Friday’s (which was unusual) and from most themelesses we see. A 15 stacked with a 12, with an 11 passing through both? This 70-worder has lots of fresh stuff mixed with some old fill. Here are the fun bits:

  • 3d. [All right, to 42-Across], OKELY-DOKELY. 42a is NED Flanders from The Simpsons.
  • 20a. [“… and that’s no joke!”], “BELIEVE YOU ME.” That’s one of three colloquial phrases here. The others are 32d: “OH, COME NOW” and 57a: “SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN.” Oh, and “HOW NICE,” and possibly “BOOK ‘EM.”
  • 40a. [Their 1982 album “Combat Rock” went double-platinum], THE CLASH. Of “Rock the Casbah” fame. Good gravy, 33 years ago? The music of my youth is now as old as Elvis’s first hits were when I was a teen.
  • 33a. [It runs to the right], TEA PARTY.
  • 24d. [“Boogie Nights” persona played by Mark Wahlberg], DIRK DIGGLER. Movie came out 17 years ago, but if you saw it, you can’t forget that character’s ridiculous porn name. And if you don’t know it, oy vey. Name crossings with LINA, NED, GOA, SELA, and ORLY. If you don’t know that 53a. [Foreign state with the capital Panaji] is GOA, certainly NOA/DINGLER could be plausible—that is a tough clue for Goa that doesn’t suggest “Indian coastal state with Portuguese heritage” at all.
  • 54a. [Beatles song in which no Beatle plays an instrument], “ELEANOR RIGBY.”

OEDIPAL, BABYSIT, ETYMON, Aaron ECKHART, and PANTERA also are welcome in my puzzle.

Less welcome: ICE-COLD BEVERAGE is a little meh, and –ARY, OTTO I (how many people are psyched to see a clue like [Emperor crowned in 962]?) crossing OTO and UTE, OLEO and ALAR, NEC, IPSO, and DECI– didn’t enhance my solve.

Tough clue for 25d. ONTO, [Able to see through]. I had O*T* and was taking onageric guesses at the other two letters. Never, ever heard of 39a. [Graham ___ (old Kellogg’s cereal)], CRACKOS (though it pretty much had to be an O), and I had no idea what the 30a. [“Singin’ in the Rain” role] was, given that LI*A could be completed with a variety of consonants. LINA? Doesn’t ring a bell (I haven’t seen the movie—musicals vex me), and I can’t say I recognize the actress’s name.

Five more things:

  • Tons of proper nouns (over 20) in this puzzle. The “I hate trivia quizzes” people probably didn’t have much fun with this crossword. Rows 8, 9, 14, and 15 are entirely names.
  • 46d. [Model in a science class], ORRERY. Model of the solar system, that is. I learned this word in crosswords, actually.
  • 51d. [Checker piece, e.g.], OLDIE. As in a piece recorded by Chubby Checker.
  • 48d. [Cricket infraction], NO BALL. Unlike Gareth, I don’t know my cricket terminology.
  • 49d. [Pass on a proposal], SAY NAY. Is that a thing, “say nay”? It’s not ringing a bell.

I like the zippy stuff, I do, but there are so many intersecting names (which can make for an unfair grid) and some blah stuff, so 3.5 stars from me.

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hooked”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.18.15: "Hooked"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.18.15: “Hooked”

Good morning, everyone! The reports are that the weather today here in New York is going to be wonderful, with temperatures almost reaching the 80s. Woohoo! Definitely the perfect time to head out and frolic in the sunshine. But before doing that, we have a puzzle to solve, and today’s offering, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is all about puns with pirates and pirate-y things!

  • LONG JOHN SOLVER (20A: [Captain Hook’s crossword-loving colleague?])
  • AGE BEFORE BOOTY (25A: [Captain Hook’s sentiment about his senior crewman?])
  • DAVY JONES’ LAGER (44A: [Captain Hook’s preferred potable?])
  • DID YOU MISS SMEE (51A: [Captain Hook’s question to the crew after making his first mate walk the plank?])

Got off to a pretty slow start, so decided to hop around the grid for the first couple of minutes to see where I could get a foothold. That finally happened in the Northeast, where the intersection of BOOP (10A: [Cartoon flapper Betty]) and BULLHORN opened things up for me (10D: [Portable PA system]). I still prefer to call it a megaphone, but to each their own, right? Extra props to this grid for the African geography with TANGIERS (5D: [City near Gibraltar]). I may have seen or heard OSMOSE, in the verb tense, once in my life before today, but I definitely can’t remember when that was (47D: [Seep through]). Loved that Australian tennis great EVONNE Goolagong (Cawley) got some love in the grid as well, and, on any other day, I would expound on her achievements on the following graph of this blog (8D: [Tennis rival of Billie Jean]). But that’s not the case today, and that’s because of…  

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: YEO (45D: [USN clerk]) – This might be one of my favorite “sports…smarter” entries because of the unlikeliness of using this entry and giving it a sports angle. If you end up watching today’s Stanley Cup Playoffs playoff game between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues (3 PM ET on NBC), you’ll get a chance to also see Mike YEO, the head coach of the Minnesota Wild hockey team and the youngest coach in the National Hockey League (41 years old). Yeo was an assistant coach on the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins team that won the Stanley Cup, and, last season, he led the Wild to their first playoff series win since 2003 when they defeated the Colorado Avalanche in seven games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 4 18 15

LA Times crossword solution, 4 18 15

Bit of an overriding baseball vibe here:

  • 22a. [1975-’76 World Series champs, on scoreboards], CIN.
  • 29a. [Citizens Bank Park team], PHILLIES.
  • 37a. [Youthful nickname for the 1950 29-Across], WHIZ KIDS. (Mini-theme paired with 29a.)

If you ask me, one baseball reference per puzzle is plenty.

Top four:

  • 23a. [Called, nowadays], SKYPED. Many of our chats with my in-laws are via Skype.
  • 51a. [Jackson 5 song covered by Mariah Carey], “I’LL BE THERE.”
  • 33d. [Offended outburst], THE NERVE!”
  • 3d. Fictional code name], DA VINCI. I liked the way the name was slumming in this clue.

Fill I could have done without: EBAN, CLE, AYRES, SHA, NENE, KPH, SRI, UTEP, ESTE, RAI, S-SHAPED. And I’m okay with 38d. [Siberian metropolis] IRKUTSK, but if you don’t know that place name and you don’t know your crosswordese  and old bits like AYRES, KPH, UTEP, and ESTE, good luck to you here.

If you’ve been hankering to watch the news in Italian, here’s the Rai News livestream. I’m not sure that [Italian counterpart of the BBC] is wholly accurate, because Rai seems to be a news channel, whereas the BBC has news plus a line-up of entertainment shows.

3.5 stars from me.

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (written as “Anna Stiga”)

Newsday crossword solution, 4 18 15 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 4 18 15 “Saturday Stumper”

Hey! Look. A Stumper that doesn’t bring me to a screeching halt in one section. Finishable in less than twice the time of the other Saturday themelesses!

Lots and lots of fill we don’t see often in crosswords. Here are some of the less stale entries (which is not to imply that the rest of the puzzle is stale; it’s not):

  • 1a. [Drier times], WASH DAYS. Clothes drier, not the comparative adjective.
  • 20a. [”Curb your enthusiasm”], “DOWN, BOY!”
  • 35a. [Novelist made a Baroness], P.D. JAMES. 
  • 63a. [Victoria descendant who’s reigned since 2014], FELIPE VI. Raise your hand if you haven’t been keeping track of European monarchs’ Roman numerals.
  • 65a. [Material in a book you might not be able to put down], FLYPAPER. Lots of stickum.
  • 7d. [Koran : Allah :: Hebrew Bible : __], YAHWEH. Now, would a more observant Jew enter ALLEY C–T and R–DOS for the vowels’ crossings?
  • 14d. [North Atlantic remnant of New France], ST. PIERRE. It’s partnered with “et Miquelon.”
  • 36d. [”ER” ogre], DR. ROMANO. That’s a rather dated pop-culture reference. He was only a main character from 1999-2004, and popped up again briefly in the final season.
  • 37d. [Crowds], JAM-PACKS. P.D. Jam-Packes?

Five clues of note:

  • 30a. [Where salt is sea dust], DINER. Never heard this particular bit of diner patois.
  • 39a. [What Civil War troop records were kept in], RED TAPE. Where we get the phrase from.
  • 51a. [Word from the Dutch for ”pirate ship”], YACHT. That’s … surprisingly apt.
  • 28d. [Queen of Sheba’s homeland, today], YEMEN. Did not know that.
  • 56d. [It can precede or follow ”cover”], SLIP. Slipcover on a sofa, cover slip on a glass microscope slide.

Four stars from me.

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20 Responses to Saturday, April 18, 2015

  1. Byron says:

    I don’t remember which one you had in the B finals, but LINA was in the 2005 ACPT finals, and one of them had *that* LINA in the clue.

  2. Bencoe says:

    I also had trouble with ONTO as clued.

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT did have TMI but some good stuff as well. LAT’s ESTE/IRKUTSK was a natick for me.

  4. Howard B says:

    Fresh fill here, but a bit too heave on the names and obscurity for me. Really struggled. CRACKOS is not made up, but insane. CHET Lemon is downright obscure. SAY NAY is a roll-your-own answer. Did not care so much for OKELYDOKELY, although I did know it and it is tangentially connected to such an extremely successful franchise.
    Did enjoy the musical content in there, and the quirkiness overall.

    • BRUCE GOLDMAN says:

      To someone who never watches The Simpsons, Family Guy or other animated TV, “Okely Dokely” is obscure. As a life long baseball fan, Chet Lemon is hardly an obscure reference. Matter of perspective I guess.

    • sbmanion says:

      I wonder how many people conflated the good, but not great CHET LEMON with the hall-of-fame pitcher BOB LEMON. When I saw that the answer was four letters, I knew at once that it was CHET, but when I saw the comments indicating that the name was obscure, my first thought was “how is a great hall of fame pitcher obscure?” CHET, by the way, spent most of his career as a centerfielder.


  5. ArtLvr says:

    I found the NYT tough & not much fun, but enjoyed the “Hooked” CS puzzle. Had LONG JOHN SOLVER early on and that gave me the incentive to work out the rest, smiling.

    • ArtLvr says:

      p.s. Many thanks to Stan for including FELIPE VI in his Stumper, as I’ve been catching up on recent Spanish history ever since!

  6. Jerry says:

    “Onageric,” as in “and was taking onageric guesses” is an interesting word, but does not appear in Is it your creation? based on ‘onager,’ an Asian ass? meaning stubborn?

    • pannonica says:

      The latter, as in ‘wild-ass guess’, is my estimation. That’s how I’d do it.

      Tarpanic sounds good too, but lacks the dreaminess of onageric. Kiangy, I fear, is not in the running.

  7. Jenni Levy says:

    Since I’ve never watched The Simpsons and don’t listen to metal, I didn’t know NED or PANTERA. I got OKELY-DOKELY from crossings and put REG in for the character’s name, since DIRK GIGGLER makes as much sense as anything else and made me, well, giggle. The Stumper gave me fits because I never watched ER and I found that corner fiendish (so to speak). It was still more fun than the NYT, which was just unfair. I love hard puzzles and I don’t usually complain about names or trivia. This was beyond the pale.

    I do watch TV. I watch lots of TV, and I love baseball, so CHET Lemon was a gimme. I’m sure the Simpsons/Boogie Nights references were gimme for others. Still…unfair.

  8. Damon G. says:

    As the constructor of today’s NYT, I wrote a quasi-rebuttal to the “too much trivia” criticism at my blog.

  9. Bob says:

    Another worthless LAT attempt at cleverness

  10. CY Hollander says:

    Re the NYT, I can attest that I didn’t know DIRK DIGGLER, LINA, NED, or GOA and still guessed right on all those crossings. DIRK and NED are the only prenames I know that fit the patterns D_RK and NE_, and, while I did pause to wonder if it were NOA/DINGLER, DIGGLER sounds more surnamey than DINGLER to me.

  11. K C says:

    Might have complained about this here before, but KPH as clued in today’s LAT (and several other times over the years across outlets) is 100% wrong. It’s KMH.

    • Jeffrey K says:

      Agreed KC. It may be kph somewhere, but all signs and speedometers in Canada are km/h.

      • K C says:

        Jeffrey, I did a decent amount of Googling the last time this happened, and if it’s KPH somewhere, I can’t find it. Most metric-using places don’t show the units at all on the signs.

        Finding myself starting to muse about possible Schrödinger words with an M/P superposition and making it cross KMH.

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