Saturday, April 25, 2015

NYT 6:32 (Amy) 
Newsday 5:51 (Amy) 
LAT 4:42 (Amy) 
CS 9:42 (Ade) 

James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 25 15, no 0425

NY Times crossword solution, 4 25 15, no 0425

This 72-worder announces its intentions at 1-Across, with EDM DJ SKRILLEX (1a. [Leader in electronic music with multiple Grammys]), but then it doesn’t end up being a puzzle for ravers.

Fill/clues I liked best:

  • 15a. [1960s-’70s band that took its name from an Aldous Huxley title], THE DOORS. Literary plus rockin’.
  • 18a. [Gourmet], FOODIE.
  • 22a/23a. [Henry ___], FONDA and also VIII. I always get those two mixed up.
  • 32a. [Brand name with 2/3 capital letters in its logo], TAB. My son’s 8th grade teacher drank a can of TaB a day at school. I like a man who isn’t afraid of pink.
  • 48a. [Leonine : lion :: lutrine : ___], OTTER. I don’t think I knew the word lutrine but I’m going to find a way to use it. I just wish the first half of the analogy had been ursine : bear.
  • 64a. [“It’s not my place to decide”], YOUR CALL.
  • 69a. PETE ROSE, full name.
  • 39d. [Author who created the fatalistic optometrist Billy Pilgrim], VONNEGUT. I forgot the optometrist part altogether.
  • 55d. [“The beacon of the wise,” per Shakespeare], DOUBT.  The full quote, from Troilus and Cressida, is “Modest doubt is call’d / The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches / To the bottom of the worst.”

Did not know:

  • 62a. [Composer György whose music was featured in Kubrick films], LIGETI.
  • 66a. [Marketing space], AD UNIT. An “ad unit” is a thing?
  • 37d. [Religious garment suspended from the shoulders], SCAPULAR. I am not up on my religious garments, but it makes sense anatomically.

Least liked: ESTOP, IDI, GBS. Not much junk. See? That’s what I want to see in a 72-worder. Bring me some sparkle, keep out as much junk as you can, write some fun or interesting clues. Four stars from me.

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Gimmie A Break”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.25.15, "Gimmie A Break"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.25.15, “Gimmie A Break”

Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re all going to enjoy the last Saturday of April. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, accomplished two things. First, it showed that each of the three theme answers are two-word entries in which the second word could also precede the word “break.” Second, it made me incessantly think about the 1980s show Gimmie A Break, with Nell Carter and Joey Lawrence. Is that a good thing? I believe so!

  • TURKISH COFFEE (20A: [Hot drink popular in the Arab World]) – Can’t say that I’ve had a Turkish coffee before. Well, I haven’t had any cup of coffee in years. (I know, I’m weird.)
  • PRIVATE BATHROOM (39A: [Common executive office perk]) – You know you’ve made it when you have your own private bathroom, huh?!
  • BUSINESS LUNCH (55A: [Repast where a deal may be made])

Had a feeling immediately that the clue for C-FLAT was a music one, despite my relative inability for recognizing music clue misleads or non-straightforward music clues in general (9A: [B, essentially]). Also in that corner, initially typed in “Heile” instead of HAILE, though I knew the spelling was the latter from the beginning (16A: [Selassie of Ethiopia]). One of those unintentional typos when trying to finish as quick as possible I suppose, even though I’m far from a speed solver. Did anyone else type in ‘Argo’ instead of SAGO initially, like I did (32A: [Pudding starch])? My mother buys Argo corn starch almost religiously, so I’ve been pretty much trained to put in Argo anytime I see a four-letter entry dealing with food starch. Finally, I’m asking you all to do me a favor: for every time you see YAHTZEE as an entry in any crossword puzzle that’s reviewed on Fiend, you have to go into the comments section and end each of your comments/postings on there by typing “Yahtzee!!” (28A: [Dice game name since 1956]). Who’s with me?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DICKEY (4D: [Detachable shirtfront]) – College basketball coach James DICKEY is currently an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University. He’s most remembered for his 10-year tenure as head basketball coach at Texas Tech University, where, in 1996, he led the Red Raiders to a 28-1 record going into the NCAA Tournament, the best winning percentage of any team in the field (and in the country). That team made the Sweet 16 before losing to Georgetown. In the second round, Dickey’s team defeated North Carolina, and one of the Red Raider players, Darvin Ham, did THIS during the game…

See you all for the Sunday Challenge! Oh, and Yahtzee!!!!

Take care!


Daniel Nierenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 4 25 15

LA Times crossword solution, 4 25 15

I had a sinking feeling when I started this puzzle because 1-Across had a lot of possible answers, so I looked at 1-Down and encountered a crusty bit of crosswordese: 1d. [Currency exchange fee], AGIO. I feared the worst, but the puzzle turned out to have more lively entries than crusty junk (IONA, OATEN, and MOTET were the dryest).


  • 15a. [Video game that comes in a World Tour version], GUITAR HERO. 
  • 17a. [Meditation goal], INNER PEACE.
  • 36a. [Sports demographic], NASCAR DAD. More of a political demographic, no?
  • 51a. [Software for screenwriters], MOVIE MAGIC. Didn’t know it, but glad to learn it.
  • 22d. [Dieter’s brand], LEAN CUISINE. I like how CARRION butts up against this answer.
  • 26d. [2007 Nicolas Cage title role], GHOST RIDER. Did the script writer use Movie Magic?

Random thought: Add-a-letter themes can be pretty boring, but if you stuck an S into familiar phrases and turned 56a: PERSONAL AD into PERSON SALAD, you’d have a recipe for horror. Mesclun greens, heirloom tomatoes, golden radishes, candied walnuts, and Soylent Green vinaigrette.

Five more things:

  • 27d. [Odin’s Germanic counterpart], WOTAN. Was leaning WODEN at first. Won’t you join me in pronouncing “Wednesday” as Woden’s Day?
  • 47a. [Hophni’s father, in the Bible], ELI. Didn’t know there was a Hophni in the bible.
  • 8d. [“Sleepy” woman in the song “Daydream Believer”], JEAN. No clue. Had the J and A, filled in the N, waited for the crossing to give me JEAN or JOAN.
  • 30d. [“Blah …”], YADA. You have to mentally fill in two more “blah”s in the clue. One is not enough ….
  • 43d. [Comes down], RAINS. Late April and rainy with temps in the 40s all weekend? Come on, Lake Michigan, heat yourself! You are wrecking spring.

3.75 stars from me.

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 4 25 15 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 4 25 15 “Saturday Stumper”

Despite having some entries I didn’t know, Brad somehow crafted this to be the easiest Stumper in a while. The clues must’ve landed in my wheelhouse more than usual. Good! Because I don’t have much time to devote to the puzzle, and tearing my hair out for twice as long is highly inefficient.

Didn’t know:

  • 1a. [Church rite], SUNG MASS. As opposed to spoken?
  • 19a. [National ethos], VOLKSGEIST. Did I know that was a word?
  • 7d. [Disney’s first movie sequel], SON OF FLUBBER. Trivia I didn’t know.
  • 20d. [Staff notation], KEY SIGNATURE. Not sure what that is.

Favorites fill: CLARA BOW, the “It” Girl; ANTIGONE; AMARYLLIS; crusty BAGUETTES; HANG TEN; Germaine GREER.

Five more things:

  • 34a. [Coveted shade in bottle collecting], PUCE. Well! I did not know that.
  • 31d. [Source of many valuable drawings], IRA. As in required distributions of funds from your retirement account.
  • 15a. [What Shaq took when he moved to the Heat], PAY CUT. Fresh fill, fine bit of trivia.
  • 47d. [John Rambo lives among them], THAIS. Movie geo-trivia instead of the less accessible opera called Thaïs.
  • Bits like STET and ULNAE are rather dry but overall, the fill’s smooth.

3.9 stars from me.

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24 Responses to Saturday, April 25, 2015

  1. Andy says:

    I sent Will a puzzle with DAFT PUNK at 1A a couple years back. Admittedly the puzzle was not as zippy as it could have been, but DAFT PUNK’s obscurity was cited as one of the reasons for rejection. Glad to see he’s changed his mind about 8-letter electronic music artists at 1A.

    • Kameron says:

      Was this before they won Album of the Year? I got ARCADE FIRE into my first puzzle — after they won a bunch of Grammys. I bet it’d have been a no-go, otherwise.

      • Andy says:

        You know, it may have been. I’m still of the opinion that in 2012/13, DAFT PUNK were more well-known than SKRILLEX is now, even post-Grammys.

  2. dave glasser says:

    Wow, I think this puzzle was written for me. SKRILLEX, LIGETI, VONNEGUT, and DFW’s ENDNOTES were all immediate writeins. Maybe my fastest Saturday NYT ever! (Ok, I considered DAFTPUNK for a moment for 1A but a single cross fixed that.)

  3. David L says:

    Very nice puzzle! ADUNIT seems a bit iffy — maybe it could have been clued as ‘southerner’s admission of culpability’ — and I think of DFW as being more noted for footnotes than endnotes, but that’s about all I can come up with by way of quibbles.

  4. sbmanion says:

    I know very little about electronic music, so 1A was tough for me. VONNEGUT and PETE ROSE were gimmes, so overall the puzzle was about average difficulty for me.

    FOODIE bothers me for some reason. I have absolutely nothing against the clue GOURMET, but it does not communicate the level of contempt that many have for self-proclaimed FOODIES. I see a foodie as more of a pretentious dabbler in new foods and particularly food ideas. We had the most delightful meal at the new Cantonese-Hot Dog Fusion palace.


  5. Jason F says:

    Idle thoughts:

    In a puzzle with a closed off corner like the NE, it is very easy to be left without good ways to break into the corner if the end letters in the crossing words are generic (like ES). So, I liked the OX combo in this puzzle, which actually gave me a handhold (er… something BOX?). Nice puzzle design.

    Also, is it important that the Wheel of Fortune letters appear in a specific order, or is any combination of those letters considered a valid answer?

    • Gary R says:

      Re: WoF freebies, R-S-T-L-N-E is the order in which Pat Sajak always lists the letters for the contestant (please don’t ask why I know this). No idea why this order, but since it’s consistent, I’d say only this order would be a valid answer.

  6. Avg Solvr says:

    When you know the “stuff” asked and referenced a puzzle can fall pretty easily. The “L” in LOEWE was a guess that seemed to fit but a complete guess nonetheless as a band and brand name can be anything. Liked the LAT better probably and loved the “Old calcium source?” clue. Although my comment yesterday about bias was intended generally, my apologies to Zulema, or anyone else, for its poor form.

    • Zulema says:

      AvgSolver, no idea what you are referring to, so you are forgiven. Don’t think anyone mentioned the full title of Huxley’s book, THE DOORS of Perception. I liked both the NYT and the LAT, though the NYT took much longer because of SKRILLEX and my not figuring out what was meant by “chalk talk symbols.”
      AMY, my late husband, who studied German in HS, was taught to say Wodenstag instead of Mittwoch. By the time I took German in college, there was no Wodenstag to be seen or heard. I’ve never understood why Donnerstag is acceptable but Wodenstag isn’t.

      • Zulema says:

        And I should have read yesterday’s later comments. Amy defended me, I suppose, because of my ancient age, but I would also point out that more often than people saying some things were gimmes, we find objections to words, especially places, because someone hasn’t heard of them before. I didn’t mean that CATALPA was a gimme, but Steve just mentioned gimmes in today’s NYT. We don’t imply that everyone should know these things. We are just commenting, really.

  7. TammyB says:

    Merl Reagle Sunday Crossword – MIA!

    When I click the usual link under “Today’s Puzzles” to access the printable version of Merl’s Sunday puzzle, I wind up at a generic placeholder search engine-type page. It’s titled “” but there’s nothing there except links to ads and related searches.

    Anybody know if this is a temporary glitch – or if the real site has moved? Thanks!

  8. Rey Barry says:

    Anyone know what happened to

    Used to get Merl Riegl there. This afternoon suddenly it’s a portal to many puzzle sites ALL of which are dead. Totally unresponsive whether using Safari or Firefox.

  9. Gareth says:

    Everything easy except those two closed off corners in the top-right and bottom-left, which were of more typical Saturday difficulty. SCRILLEX over THEDOORS is one of the more spectacular openings in a while! Top-right: STRATEGI/SWEETFIX (seemed plausible at the time?) and Henry MOORE had me all tied up. [Place for a dish] = ROOM does work in a way too. Found no way in the bottom left ’til changing WHY to OHYES… Worked out the garment could be from SCAPULA as in shoulder and the area unraveled. For a puzzle without really long answers this has some great choices though!

    PS my rating was 4.5 not 3, but it sent too quickly!

  10. P. Ulrich says:

    I found the print Washington Post’s response concerning yesterday’s CrosSynergy error rather lame. They printed the answer to the erroneous puzzle, with a comment that ESTO PERTETUA should have been ESTO PERPETUA. Nothing about the changes to 5 across and 7 down.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Can you provide a link to that response? I didn’t stumble upon it poking around the Entertainment section of the online site.


    • Martin says:

      Re the Washington Posts’s response to the crossword error:

      I’m the one to blame, not them. I didn’t write the response, but I put them in a difficult (and embarrassing) position.

      Luckily I had a sword to fall on. Needless to say my ribs are very sore today ;)

      -Martin Ashwood-Smith

      • Art Shapiro says:

        I think you’re being a smidge hard on yourself! Almost every publication has a Corrections section; if a crossword happens to have a minor error once in a decade, it would take a harder heart than mine to raise a ruckus!

        Contrast a letter in a Latin phrase with, say, the newspaper in 1963 that put out, in letters half the height of the front page, “KENNEDY SHOT DAED”.


  11. Martin says:

    That’s very kind of you to say Art. But not to worry, I’m fine.

    My English sense of humour (if you can call it that), tends to make me a bit sarcastic (hopefully in a nice way) at times. Although, as you may imagine, I wasn’t too happy with myself for a few hours after the error was pointed out to me.

    All good good now… ribs healing ;)


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