Saturday, May 9, 2015

Newsday 16:16* (Amy) 
NYT 5:11 (Amy) 
LAT 4:21 (Amy) 
CS 8:32 (Ade) 

Kristian House’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 9 15, no 0509

NY Times crossword solution, 5 9 15, no 0509

This 70-worder differs from yesterday’s puzzle in that it’s got a solid collection of no-foolin’ crosswordese in it. AEON with the A, AGHA and OGEE in the center row, and the AGENA rocket ([It was boosted by Titan]) crossing an AMAH ([Asian au pair]). Heaven help the solver who doesn’t know AGENA or AMAH, because that crossing isn’t going to be too helpful.

This puzzle was also making me feel a little constrained by gender roles. The AMAH and YENTAS are specifically feminine nouns, one evoking subservience and the other gossipiness. AGE LIMIT is clued by way of the Miss America “scholarship pageant” (now with bikinis). PANTY LINE is a [Female fashion faux pas] instead of just a [Fashion faux pas], which would be more Saturdayish, no? And then there’s MUFFIN TOP, [Effect of tightening an extra-tight belt, maybe]—generally applied to women far more than to men.

Eight more things:

  • 58a. [Long-running show about a Time Lord], DOCTOR WHO. Would you believe the New Yorker—that bastion of editorial correctness—recently printed the show’s title incorrectly as Dr. Who? The apocalypse, my friends, surely is nigh.
  • 49d. [Sharpen anew], REHONE. A roll-your-own RE+ word, yes?
  • 40a. [Trial and error, e.g.], NOUNS. Did this clue type trick you again? Definitely gave me pause.
  • 28d. [Port whose name means “Christmas”], NATAL. It’s in Brazil. Its population is more than twice that of BARI, and I like the name etymology aspect of the clue.
  • 43d. [Rosenfeld who wrote the best seller “Live Now, Age Later”], ISADORE. I’m not sure why I got the first name so quickly. I don’t recognize his books, I had no idea he was ever on Fox News, and Wikipedia’s team doesn’t deign to give him a page.
  • 52a. [Marine mollusk named for its earlike tentacles], SEA HARE. That’s bogus. Those slugs don’t look a thing like rabbits.
  • 12d. [Weapon for the Caped Crusader], BATARANG. It boomerangs back, I assume from the name?
  • 45d. [McCloud of 1970s TV’s “McCloud”], SAM. Whoa, really? 38+ years is a long way to go for a SAM. Apparently most of the show’s episodes were 90 or 120 minutes long. I wonder what sort of audience was ga-ga enough over the show to commit that much time to it on a weekly basis.

3.4 stars from me.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 9 15

LA Times crossword solution, 5 9 15

Totally forgot about blogging this morning, so I’ll be quick about it.

This one made me a little grumpy, I’ll be honest with you. ONE I LOVE dangling without its introductory THE, the awkward “is that a thing?” AGE NORM, ANCHOVY PIZZA (just about nobody orders that—there’s a local pizza place that offers free anchovies on any pizza just to get people to eat them but I don’t think they get many takers), plural abbrev ALTS, and fill like AREOLE, ALEE, GARR/ESAI/FARR, ESTH, HINTERS, meh.

I do like WARM GLOW, MONSTER HIT, LASER TAG, QUESTION MARK (and yes, the clue 30a. [Character in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”] totally duped me), and PRIZE MONEY, but overall it felt like maybe a few too many trade-offs in exchange for the four Z’s.

3.5 stars from me.

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 5 9 15 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 5 9 15 “Saturday Stumper”

Well! That was not easy. When I was somewhere between 10 and 13 minutes into this thing and the bottom remained largely empty, I used the “check solution” function and identified 5 incorrect squares that were blocking me from getting any further. I didn’t find the clues particularly pleasant, these ones that obstructed me from getting on with my day. Sigh.

I forgot about FRISIAN ([Germanic language group]), despite having enjoyed a video this spring in which Frisian dairy farmers were unloosing their cows into the fields after a winter in the stables. (They danced. The cows, not the farmers.) Could only think of Faroese and Finnish, and of course Finnish is the furthest thing from Germanic.

Never, ever heard of the 44d. [Connecticut prep school] POMFRET, despite reading The Preppy Handbook in high school and going to college with some East Coast preps. Looked up a list of 50 elite boarding schools—it’s not one of them. I’m calling it obscure fill, fill for which most solvers were going to need to crack the crossing clue for every letter. Boo.

1a. [Limit], FINITUDE? Possibly I have never seen this word before.

CHAT AREA, is that still a thing? Are LAW CASES a thing, or are those just cases, legal cases? GENERATE REVENUE feels a tad “random verb + object” to me.

3d. [Aye’s opposite] is NE’ER? I’ve seldom, if ever, seen “aye” as “always.”

GREAT WHITE SHARK is fun fill.

3.4 stars from me.

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.09.15: "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.09.15: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”

Hello once again, everyone, and welcome to the weekend! Love the title to today’s crossword, which was offered up to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin. Don’t sweat the small stuff, people! In the crossword, each of the four theme answers start with words that are synonyms with small, almost specifically words that describes one’s stature.

  • SHRIMP SALAD  (17A: [Pinkish lunch entrée that might be served in a lettuce cup])
  • PEANUT FARMER (27A: [Jimmy Carter, once]) – All this grid needed, after this reference, was a “Billy Beer” entry.
  • SQUIRT BOTTLE (44A: [Squeezable container])
  • PEE WEE REESE (59A: [Hall of FAme shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers])

My eyes immediately drew to the long downs in the Northeast and Southwest, and the fill definitely didn’t disappoint. I always remember EPHEMERAL when studying for my SATs appearing in a flash card, and I never forgot the word and use it more often than most (12D: [Short-lived]). Also liked seeing DOTS THE I’S, though I’m sure if this opens up a constructor in the future to add “cross the t’s” in a grid (31D: [Pays attention to details]). And as an on-camera and radio reporter, it was a pleasure to see SIMULCAST as we’ll, and got the answer off the bat (33D: [Radio-and-television event]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OTIS (36A: [SportsR&B’s Redding]) – Former Major League centerfielder Amos OTIS was a stalwart on the 1970s Kansas City Royals teams that consistently were one of the best in baseball. After joining the Royals via a trade with the New York Mets, Otis went on to make five All-Star teams and win three Gold Gloves in centerfield for the Royals. In the 1980 World Series, Otis hit three homers and batted .478 in a losing effort against the Philadelphia Phillies.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge

Take care!


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14 Responses to Saturday, May 9, 2015

  1. Ethan says:

    Three things:

    (1) No idea why Capt. was abbreviated in the clue for SPYGLASS. Is SPYGLASS short for something? Was it an issue of saving space? because “Pirate captain’s tool” would have worked just as well and been shorter without making me think there was going to be an abbr. involved.

    (2) I don’t understand how 17-24 is an AGE LIMIT rather than an AGE RANGE. 24 is the age limit, per my understanding of what a “limit” is.

    (3) From an Arabic perspective, cluing FATWAS as “Rulings from muftis” is a little like cluing PHARMACY as “Pharmacist’s workplace.” Fatwa and mufti are both from the triliteral f-t-w root.

    • huda says:

      Wow, Ethan, I’m impressed by your FATWA comment. I thought about it as I was answering and then told myself that this concern was way beyond what any NYT solver would care about.

      And I too was sort of bothered by the “Age Limit” clue, but then thought there could be a lower and upper limit. But wow, I had no idea that you can’t be older than 24 and be Miss America!

      • Ethan says:

        Yes, I agree that 17 is the lower limit and 24 is the upper limit so together those are LIMITS with an “s”. To me, AGE LIMIT should be a number, not a range, and preferably a maximum rather than a minimum.

  2. arthur118 says:

    With no votes yet recorded, I tried to give my rating on today’s puzzle and was told I could only vote once and my submission wasn’t accepted.

    FWIW, my rating would have been 3.5.

    • Evad says:

      We had a slight SNAFU with yesterday’s ratings so a few ratings yesterday were originally recorded as today’s, but it’s all set now and you can try again.

      We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog post.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I cannot express how happy it made me to see MUTATE crossing EVOLUTION, with DARWIN cross referencing the latter.
    And I liked DOCTOR WHO, SKY LAB and SPY GLASS as well as GOES GAGA.

    The definition of AGHA always throws me. I know it is technically correct. But when I was growing up in Damascus, my family knew a lot of people called So and So Agha, and the usual connotation was that they were important landowners. By contrast, if someone was called So and So Bey, the connotation was that they were highly respected, powerful men (e.g. in government or other arenas). The highest level was Pasha, and that was usually inherited, not just driven by position.

  4. Martin from Charlottesville says:

    I am surprised that AGELIMIT ([17-24 for Miss America]) made it through all the NY Times checkers and into the puzzle.

    NOUNS ([Trial and error, e.g.]) just pissed me off. That’s my idea of “arbitrary.”

  5. sbmanion says:

    I never knew the expression MUFFIN TOP until looking it up after completing today’s puzzle. I wonder if there is a counterpart to describe the look of a male who has a 50 inch waist, but wears a 38″ belt tied below his big gut. I think the whole idea is very funny.

    On the whole, this was an average difficulty Saturday for me. I never mind crosswordese if clued cleverly.

    I once was on the brink of moving to Hong Kong for my company, but it never quite worked out. The company was trying to coordinate my salary so that I was making the same as I was in Buffalo. I was told that rent in a decent apartment in Hong Kong at that time was $7,500 per month and that if you bought a car, there was a 100% excise tax, which you could get around by buying through Great Britain. I do not know if any of this was really true, but I was most excited by the “fact” that you could hire an AMAH for $100 per month.


    • Evad says:

      I’ve actually only heard MUFFIN TOP in reference to men’s bellies overhanging their belt; certainly seems a more likely occurrence to me.

      Put me in the “age range” camp as well. A “limit” can either be a minimum or a maximum, but not both in the singular.

  6. Jeffrey K says:

    McCloud rotated with Columbo, MacMillan and Wife and others as a Mystery Movie of the week. And lots of people watched them. I guess we were the sort of people who still had an attention span.

  7. john farmer says:

    LAT 42A (Spoiler)
    “Family secret, perhaps” = RECIPE
    Highly apt video accompaniment here. (Yes, that is really Mr. Depp.)

  8. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Re: The term for a male Muffin Top:

    I must have heard it in a joke, and I had to go to the 29th definition in the Urban Dictionary to find it recognized, but the word is “hangover.”
    29 — hangover
    when your muffintop hangs over your tight fitting pants.
    hence the name “hangover”

    friend 1: ohmygod my pants are so tight!friend 2: yeah you have a complete hangover!
    by y follower June 15, 2011

  9. Bob says:

    LAT/Silk just plain boring – no fun challenges. Good insomnia cure!

  10. sandirhodes says:

    WARMGLOW & see clue for 40D

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