Saturday, May 16, 2015

NYT 6:42 (Amy) 
Newsday ~20 minutes (Derek) 
LAT 4:50 (Amy) 
CS 9:40 (Ade) 

Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 16 15, no 0516

NY Times crossword solution, 5 16 15, no 0516

Fairly low word count here—64. So there’s a smattering of crosswordese (NARIS, singular of nares, Latinate term for nostrils; PENNI, the [Bygone Finnish coin]) but also some good bits:

  • 8a. [“I haven’t the foggiest”], “BEATS ME.”
  • 31a. [Children of American Communists], RED DIAPER BABIES. Never, ever heard the term, but learned a similar one in a recent New Yorker article about China’s president: “second-generation reds,” or princelings. I’m thinking the red diaper babies have markedly less influence than the princelings.
  • 43a. [Exactly, informally], SPANG. As in “I looked him spang in the eye and he backed down.” I need to start using this one.
  • 1d. [Highest officer in his field, ironically], DRUG CZAR. Playing on “high,” as in high on drugs.
  • 8d. [“Isn’t he great!”], “BULLY FOR HIM!”
  • 22d. [Bed-hopped], SLEPT AROUND.
  • 32d. [Secret society brother to George W. Bush and John Kerry], BONESMAN. I thought I was looking for a person’s name rather than a generic. Member of the Skull and Bones society, I assume.

Five more things:

  • 13d. [Bonkers], MENTAL. Sigh. Again? Really? Using “mental” as a disparaging, mocking term really doesn’t help people dealing with mental illness. Mental exertion, Mental Floss magazine, mental note, mental calculations—we have other choices here.
  • 55a. [Tail waggers?], MOONERS. Can’t say I’ve heard this used as a noun before. “Omigod, they mooned us,” yes. “Omigod, look at those mooners,” no no no. Would have preferred salacious NOONERS crossing TON.
  • 1a. [Coffee-brewing device], DRIP POT. I wonder if that’s the coffee thing my parents had when I was a kid. Or the unused coffee maker somewhere in my kitchen? Or more like a French press? Not a coffee person here.
  • 12d. [British beer with a kick], STINGO. Is that IMPORTED here? Yes, it is. Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo.
  • 53a. [Being tracked, in a way], ON RADAR. Is that phrase solidly in the language? “Not on my radar” would be niftier.

3.9 stars from me. It’d be good to have a little more flow in and out of the SW and NE corners, no?

Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 16 15

LA Times crossword solution, 5 16 15

If you’re like me, there’s only one veterinarian/author you’ve ever heard of. I borrowed my mom’s copies of the All Creatures Great and Small series of memoirs by English animal doc JAMES HERRIOT around the middle school years, so he was my guess for 19a. [“Let Sleeping Vets Lie” author]. Veterinarian Gareth could fool solvers who know what he does for a living by having a vet = veteran or vet = vet meaning “check out” clue in every puzzle.

The long fill in this puzzle is quite nice (with the exception of ADULTERATES, which is merely an ordinary long word):

  • 32a. [Ready signal], ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO.
  • 47a. [Subject of the biopic “I Saw the Light”], HANK WILLIAMS.  Add the 1982 Herriott compendium-of-previous-memoirs and autobiography I TINA, and you’ve got a lot of bio action here.
  • 7d. [Hippie phenomenon], THE SUMMER OF LOVE. Gareth should have been 21 that year. His soul is a few decades older than he is.
  • 11d. [Overseas farewell] and 12d. [Overseas thanks], ARRIVEDERCI and DOMO ARIGATO. Different seas to cross over.
  • 23d. [Canadian territorial capital], YELLOWKNIFE. I wonder how the place got its name.

Did not know: 46d. [Acting brother of Cuba Gooding Jr.], OMAR. He’s not a marquee name. Also did not know 29a. [__ de canard: duck feathers used to tie fishing flies], CUL. Ass of the duck?

I MISFIRED on the clue 21d. [Mineral whose name is Latin for “crumb”]. It’s not soft, crumbly TALC, it’s cleavable MICA.

A hair more crosswordese than I like to see in one puzzle—IDEM, Siberian TOMSK (Russia’s also got an Omsk), RIA, RDA (the US government ditched the “RDA” concept years ago… though people still use it unawares), plus overly common answers such as EBAN, SOT, and SAHIB.

Pretty quickly moving puzzle for me despite another misfire in the MICA section—I had IN A RUT instead of IN A JAM for [Stuck].

3.66 stars from me.

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

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 9.43.14 AMThis puzzle was not quite as brutal as last week’s, but that isn’t saying much.  Still quite difficult.  I always figure if one is actively training and expecting to appear onstage at the ACPT, this and the Saturday NYT are the training devices to use.  This one is always a tick harder, though.

Upper right fell first, then lower left, then lower right, and for some reason the upper left (beginning) of the puzzle gave me fits.

Notes on fill:

  • 14A [SI Sportsman of the Year before Peyton] – LEBRON – this one took me longer than it should have.  Sports is what I know.  LeBron James is saturated on ESPN; his name in puzzles not so much, so it seemed fresh.
  • 25A [Rather long for a gator] – SEVEN ELEVEN – Someone will have to explain this one to me.  Sure, a nearly 8-foot alligator would be huge, but this clue is too hard.  I believe I first wrote in SIXTEEN FEET.  Don’t they get that big?  I don’t live in Florida!  A difficult clue about the convenience store would seem more appropriate, or even a craps reference, but that may not work.
  • 30A [Compensates for clubbing, maybe] – SLEEPS IN – This is a great clue.  Made me chuckle once I stopped thinking of someone getting beaten to a pulp…
  • 40A [Nefarious masquerade] – PHISHING – Great clue.  Wasn’t there a reference to phish, or Phish, earlier this week…..
  • 48A [Commentators of yore] – GREEK CHORUS – Another nice clue and entry
  • 61A [King in Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena”] – ENRICO – Gettable once you think for a second. I liked this one, too.
  • 8D [Pepperidge Farm cookie] – MILANO – Haven’t had one of these in forever.  This was one of those clues where I can see the package, but the name wasn’t coming at first.  When it does come, I believe that is the a-ha moment that challenging themeless puzzles provide.
  • 9A [Facebook’s official drink] – APPLETINI – Never saw The Social Network.  I assume that movie would explain this?
  • 11D [Home to Aggie Stadium] – UC DAVIS – Another great clue.  Several major colleges have Aggie mascots, so this prompted another a-ha moment. (Or more of an “oh, yeah…” moment!)
  • 38D [Napoleon’s mount at Waterloo] – MARENGO – We will file this under the learn-something-new-every-day category.

4.5 stars.  Loved this puzzle.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Twisted Sister”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.16.15: "Twisted Sister"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.16.15: “Twisted Sister”

How’s your Saturday, everybody?! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, are multiple-word answers in which the first six letters of each are anagrams of the word “sister,” hence the title of the theme. We’re not gonna take it! No, we ain’t gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it, anymore!

  • SETS RIGHT (17A: [Fixes])
  • TRIES SOMETHING (28A: [Takes a stab])
  • RESISTED ARREST (49A: [Refused to go to jail])
  • REST SIGNS (66A: [Musical stop symbols])

Was anyone onto the alternate spelling of SLUE, because I sure as heck wasn’t (14A: [Swing around]). Always knew of that spelling as slew, but I have never known the spelling of OUTS to be “oets,” so that’s when I had to rewire my mind (3D: [Triple play trio]). I believe there’s already been a triple play recorded in Major League Baseball this season. Yes, and it happened to be the first-ever 4-5-4 (second baseman to third baseman to second baseman) triple play in MLB history! Love the clue and entry of HINT HINT (10D: [Comment on the sly]). Though I knew RIVER immediately, a part of me wanted to fit “SEC school” in the space (29D: [Missouri or Arkansas]). What? KATHIE Lee is back with Regis again (8D: [Live! with Regis and ______ Lee”])??  OK, maybe not.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TROP (70D: [St. Pete ballpark, with “the”]) – The “Trop” is short for Tropicana Field, the indoor facility that has been home to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team since the team’s inception in 1998. Though the building hosted the World Series in 2008, the most famous game to take place in the arena might have been the 1999 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game, when the Connecticut Huskies shocked the No. 1 team in the country, the Duke Blue Devils, 77-74, to win its first national title in men’s basketball in school history.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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30 Responses to Saturday, May 16, 2015

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: I first looked at the grid with a combination of “oh cool” and “oh dear”. But it was easier thn I feared.. BULLY FOR me.
    It helped that I had some personal knowledge of some of the stuff… I’ve been to UPPSALA.
    I used to like IRONSIDE! and my husband dealt with the first DRUG CZAR when working on a report on Medical Marijuana… Interesting experience.
    Amy, have you seen the combination of data on the health advantages of coffee? Good stuff!
    And totally with you re MENTAL.

  2. Martin from Charlottesville says:

    NY Times: Really liked the SW corner words, and liked the puzzle overall. says that one slang definition (#5) of SUGAR is “money,” and in the puzzle SUGAR is directly atop POLS, dominating them. That sort of fits. I’d like to see POLS over WESSON, and LIT THE TORCH directly below those. At least MENTAL “looks down” on POLS.

    Amy, re your comment about NOONERS: check the SE again for salaciousness that is already there.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    re BONESMAN — Amusing coincidence, in that the first feature article in the latest Yale Alumni Magazine which just arrived today was on The Origins of the Tomb, photos of the interior and all.

  4. animalheart says:

    Byron is getting merciful in his old age. I found this a remarkably fast and painless solve, though my final entry (the P of SPANG and SPINEL) was sort of a guess (though SPANG at least sounded familiar). REDDIAPERBABIES was excellent! I haven’t heard the term in years, but I did know it (and have met a few RDBs in my travels). I used to live in a part of Croton-on-Hudson that was once called Red Hill, because John Reed and some of his circle used to live there.

  5. Gary R says:

    Amy, in the context of tracking aircraft, I think it’s fairly common to say that air traffic control had the plane “on radar.” But “not on my radar” would still have been nicer.

  6. David L says:

    I’ve complained in the past about the occasional use of ‘spaz’ but for some reason I don’t have the same reaction to ‘mental.’ Both are terms that I used a lot when I was young, but for me, at least, one has become distasteful while the other remains larky. The best excuse I can come up with is that spaz was always an insulting term, applied to people who were awkward or ungainly, whereas mental was more jocular. Anything could be a mental — a tv show, a plan for sneaking out of school, your Dad’s taste in ties. It was never the term of abuse that spaz was.

    I don’t claim any great logic here, and I’m sure others disagree. I’m just trying to explain my own feelings.

    More prosaically, I don’t quite see how ‘Welcome out’ becomes REPRIEVE. Same ballpark, to be sure, but only just.

    • pannonica says:

      Are you parsing “Welcome out” as adjective–noun?

      • David L says:

        If ‘welcome out’ is meant as a noun phrase, I still don’t see how it’s the same as a reprieve. Maybe in some specific circumstance that’s not coming to mind.

        • pannonica says:

          Seems fine to me.

          out (n) 4 : a way of escaping from an embarrassing or difficult situation

          • David L says:

            Fair enough. It stills seems kind of odd to me, but I can’t put my finger on the reason.

          • CY Hollander says:

            Seemed off to me, too. Your explanation is more or less reasonable, pannonica, and probably the intended one, but even so, the word “welcome” doesn’t fit that well, IMO. Every “out” in the sense you cite is welcome by definition.

          • pannonica says:

            That’s a fair point, but the redundancy rescues the clue from Stumperesque obliquity.

        • sbmanion says:

          To continue my horse racing point, after losing a lot on the Preakness, I caught a 12-1 shot in the last race, which was a WELCOME OUT (REPRIEVE) from what would have been a very bad day.


          • CY Hollander says:

            I would say that WELCOME OUT in your sentence is the rough equivalent of WELCOME REPRIEVE.

    • Martin from Charlottesville says:

      The British section of has for “spastic” as its first definition: “an old-fashioned and now offensive name for a person who has cerebral palsy.” This Wikipedia article on the British Scope charity describes how the meaning of the term has changed.

      In the United Kingdom, two groups that provided support for those with cerebral palsy, the National Spastics Society and the British Council for the Welfare of Spastics, merged in 1963 to form The Spastics Society. The article describes how the Scopes charity’s name has changed over time:

      “In the 1980s, the term spastic became a general insult, partially because of the Blue Peter programmes following the life story of Joey Deacon in an attempt to show disability in a positive light during the International Year of Disabled Persons. Consequently, the society changed to its current name on 26 March 1994, following a two-year consultation with disabled people and their families.”

  7. sbmanion says:

    Very hard for me. I only got CLEMENTE on my first pass and was never on the right wavelength. Took me twice as long as it usually does. As one example, I had CLOSET_ _D and knew that the letter before the D was a vowel, but still couldn’t see CLOSET ROD until my third trip through the alphabet. Not a great day.

    For Papa John: I think the likely outcome of the Preakness is that the same three horses from the Derby are likely to repeat. This almost never happens, so I may not bet at all. American Pharoah looks like the real deal so I am hoping he wins the Triple Crown, but he had to work very hard to win the Derby and this effort often takes a lot out of the modern thoroughbred, which does not run with anything near the frequency as horses did in the heyday of racing. Several excellent horses have won the Derby and Preakness and then come up short in the Belmont. The classless but accurate rant of the owner about the unfairness of last year’s Belmont in which a horse that had skipped the Preakness beat California Chrome highlights that point. Usually the wearing down does not take full effect until the Belmont, so American Pharoah will be an odds on favorite in today’s Preakness. ODDS ON by the way means less than even money. I wonder if that expression has ever appeared in a crossword puzzle.


    • Papa John says:

      >>> …so I may not bet at all. <<<

      Come on, now, fess up — how much did you lay down? Are you trying to hide your bets from your wife? (…assuming you're married. I dont think I know if you are or not.)

      How many horses, beside previous winners, run in all three events? If the same horses run against each other in all of them, won't that even out the playing field, in that they're all still weakened by the earleir reaces?

      • sbmanion says:

        My wife likes to gamble. I was in Florida on the day of the Derby, so she put down my bet for me. After the race, she texted me “Loser.”

        I have been studying the form for the past hour and the most vulnerable of the three favorites is Firing Line, although he has the best post. His trainer thinks he runs his best after five or six weeks rest. American Pharoah has the one hole, which sometimes causes a horse to waste too much energy to avoid being forced back in the pack. I am now thinking of a superfecta key 1-2 with 1-2 with all with all, a $60 bet (2*1*6*5).

        To answer your question, very few horses run in all three races. Some realize that they are overmatched, while others skip the Preakness to be ready for the Belmont. The days of Affirmed-Alydar (they ran first and second in all three races) are long gone.


    • Slow Stumper Solver says:

      Steve, indeed “Odds On” has appeared, and recently too. The May 9th Stumper had 65a. [Better than even money], ODDSON. Your definition seems to be at odds with Stan’s. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  8. Greg says:

    Not atypically for a Saturday, I first looked at the vast expanse of white with some despair, seeing no obvious answers. But, to my profound relief, “red diaper babies” was a gimme. (I’ve lived for decades on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where, pre-gentrification, they were once plentiful.) The rest of this classic Byron Walden puzzle fell into place relatively quickly (for a Saturday).

  9. Papa John says:

    Speaking of hiding things from one’s wife, let me tell you guys a story of my trip to Las Vegas to celebrate a high school friend’s fiftieth birthday. He had put together party of fourteen lawyers and dentists – and me — for the occasion. One of them, a dentist, played on the same crap table for the entire four days we were there, buying chips at $5000 a whack. We estimated he lost at least a half million dollars, perhaps twice that. He had told his wife he was there for a dental convention and kept the losses hidden from her. How much money does one have to have in order to pull that off?!?!

    At the end of the event, we all gathered in a private dining room for a prime rib dinner, where, along with numerous bottles of $300 wine, we capped off the meal with some Napoleon brandy, at a healthy $125 a shot. Each of us had two shots in our glasses. There were no prices listed for the dinner, but it had to be over $100 each. The entire meal was comped.

    I came home, proud that I was 86 bucks ahead from playing the slots and my wife knew all about it.

    • huda says:

      Wow, Papa John, pretty fancy company you keep!

      But you’re the smart one, right? You won instead of losing, you didn’t hide it from your wife (and you do the Saturday puzzle). Beats losing half a million bucks and having an oblivious wife…

      • Papa John says:

        Nah, that was a once in a lifetime experience. Did I mention we all had VIP passes? The only way to visit Las Vegas…

  10. Zulema says:

    I used to have an OTB locale around the corner but Bloomberg got rid of them, so I’ll get to Byron’s puzzle. Every time I think of yesterday, I like Byron’s puzzle more and more. Doable, first, which yesterday’s was not for me. And then, very nice fill a plus. As for the horses, I just hope they come out whole.

  11. Zulema says:

    Rather late but want to say a good word for Gareth’s puzzle in the LAT. It was very enjoyable to solve.

  12. Harry says:

    Gareth should know, the correct Japanese for thank you is “arrigato gosai imasu.”

  13. CY Hollander says:

    NYT: I was done in by S_ANG/S_INEL, knowing neither word. I was close to guessing a P there simply because STANG and SWANG could be clued with more familiar senses, but I’m never sure how much I can rely on that sort of meta-reasoning. I ended up guessing S, wrongly.

    13d. [Bonkers], MENTAL. Sigh. Again? Really? Using “mental” as a disparaging, mocking term really doesn’t help people dealing with mental illness.

    I’ve always understood that it stood for “mentally retarded”, not “mentally ill”.

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