Friday, May 22, 2015

NYT 3:44 (Amy) 
LAT 12:47 (Gareth) 
CS 8:50 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) 12:19 (pannonica) 

David Woolf’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 22 15, no 0522

NY Times crossword solution, 5 22 15, no 0522

You know how I generally grouse about puzzles with triple stacks? I actually enjoyed this one. Yeah, there’s some junky fill in there, but the 15s included plenty of sparkle and the puzzle had a fun vibe.

Here’s what I liked most:

  • 1a. [Message accompanied by red lips], SEALED WITH A KISS.
  • 16a. [Like a hot mess], ALL OVER THE PLACE. A hot mess is a person who isn’t necessarily hot, just a mess. (Loved the clue, but could have done without the 36d: HOT IRON duplication. HOT IRON also is a weird entry.) We may be seeing the influence of Will’s postcollegiate assistant, Joel Fagliano, here. Would a man in his 60s generally use “hot mess” otherwise?
  • 17a. [Where everything has been checked], BAGGAGE CAROUSEL.
  • 50a. [They’re good for the long haul], TRACTOR-TRAILERS.
  • 15d. [Many an Instagram], SELFIE. The slangy vibe that began with the “hot mess” clue carries through with KINDA, HOMIE (eh, dated), and HANGS clued as [Kicks back (with)].
  • 38d. [Los Estados Unidos, en México], EL NORTE.

On the down side, we’ve got D-TEN, T-TOPS, IRANI, 6-letter partial IT CAME plus IT IN, THAT ONE, less familiar KLU (12d. [1950s Reds star Ted, for short]), AUD., and ALP, along with that HOT IRON.

Four more things:

  • 7d. [Get a lock on, e.g.], WRESTLE. This is about actual athletic wrestling and not figurative wrestling, isn’t it?
  • 45d. [Like dales, but not glens], BROAD. You don’t say. Checking the dictionary … yep, a glen is “a narrow valley” while a dale is “a valley, esp. a broad one.” A dell is a small valley with trees. Odd fact: Dale and Glen(n) are both sort of unisex names.
  • 49d. [Web content], SILK. Spider webs, not internet.
  • 1d. [Saturday, in Seville], SABADO. Did you hear that Sabado Gigante is ending after being on Spanish-language TV for something like 53 years?

I did have fun with the puzzle despite the irksome bits, which counts for a lot with me. 3.9 stars, because the clunkers drop it below a 4.

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Let Them Eat Birthday Cake”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.22.15: "Let Them Eat Birthday Cake"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 05.22.15: “Let Them Eat Birthday Cake”

Welcome to Friday, folks! If anyone is celebrating a birthday today, then this puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, is the perfect way to get the celebration started. In it, each of the four theme answers begins with a word that also usually is an element in a cake. Speaking of cakes, I haven’t made my devil’s food cake in a long time. Might need to get on it this weekend. (Yes, I sometimes bake cakes just for the hell of it!)

  • CANDLE IN THE WIND (17A: [Elton John song reworked to memorialize Princess Diana])
  • ICING THE PUCK (26A: [Hockey infraction]) – Perfect entry given that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost coming down the final stretch.
  • FILLING A NEED (42A: [Useful])
  • LAYERS OF MEANING (54A: [Allegory feature])

I’ve probably only heard of a tennis player being referred to a NETMAN about once or twice ever, and that was back during the time in tennis when players actually came to the net during rallies (43D: [Tennis player (or a moniker for a lepidopterist superhero)]). Also in that area, I got entangled when putting in ‘stoic’ instead of STONY (62A: [Expressionless]). So not only have I been to both NEWARK, New Jersey and Newark, Delaware, I also made sure to get the pronunciations of the city correct in both places (10D: [The Garden State’s largest city]). (The Delaware city is pronounced the way the word looks, ‘new-ark,’ instead of the Jersey version, ‘noo-irk.’) Just in case you weren’t in the celebratory mood with the theme, there were a couple of words that could fit your demeanor: PASSE (22A: [Out of style]) and ENNUI (29D: [World-weariness]). But all of you guys and gals are upbeat people, for the most part, so let’s all get ready to have another good weekend!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NASH (31A: [Former associate of Crosby and Stills]) – A shout out to all the Canadians out there, as well as one of the great athletes Canada has ever produced, recently retired NBA superstar Steve NASH. (Yes, Nash actually born in South Africa, but grew up in Canada.) Nash first ended up being known as a basketball star in the United States when he led his college, Santa Clara University, to an upset win over Arizona in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, the second time a No. 15 seed defeated a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. After a slow beginning to his NBA career, Nash blossomed in his final few years with the Dallas Mavericks, and then in his time with the Phoenix Suns, where he won back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player trophies in 2005 and 2006.

Have a good rest of your Friday, everyone!  See you tomorrow from the City of Brotherly Love!

Take care!


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Going Coastal” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 5/22/15 • "Going Coastal" • Fri • Gorski • solution

WSJ • 5/22/15 • “Going Coastal” • Fri • Gorski • solution

This was one of those crosswords where the title—and theme—saved me. Had the grid complete except for a large swath in the lower right. After belatedly dropping in the answers to some clues I’d missed reading earlier (119d [Class for budding painters] ART I, 126d [Like Haydn’s Symphony No. 46] IN – (turned out to be B), 111d [Gospel group] CHOIR), I was still at a loss for the three long acrosses and a couple of the key downs.

There’s a central revealer: 74a [Like many a resort (or a hint to this puzzle’s theme] SEASIDE. And sure enough the words comprising the perimeter of the grid are all names of seas. Naturally, they’re clued in nonmarine contexts.

  • 1a. [Marine fish named for its silver color] ARGENTINE. Whoops, mostly nonmarine contexts. Certainly not explicitly relating to the bodies of water, anyway.
  • 10a. [Jack of “School of Rock”] BLACK.
  • 15a. [Home plates?] CHINA.
  • 1d. [Shade of blue on some cars] AEGEAN.
  • 53d. [Second avenue on a Monopoly board] BALTIC.
  • 92d. [Prince in the Narnia books] CASPIAN.
  • 130a. [Straight up?] NORTH.
  • 131a. [Pink hue] CORAL.
  • 19d. [Majestic steed] ARABIAN.
  • 65d. [Pusillanimous] YELLOW.
  • … annnnd … 104d [School of Greek philosophy] IONIAN (see also 107d [Member of a school of Greek philosophy] CYNIC; 132a [1989 James Michener novel] CARIBBEAN.

Had I not been looking for seas to complete those edge entries, it would have been very difficult indeed to complete the section. Look: 124a [More convincingly, in legalese] A FORTIORI (easy to see “stronger” meaning in retrospect); 129a [Famed royal yacht] BRITANNIA (“Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 to 1997.”Wikipedia. Not famed to me. Also, HMY is the operative abbreviation here—take note!); 103d [Smelting refuse] SCORIA; 124d [“Scandal” broadcaster] ABC; tricky 125d [File extension] TAB; oblique 110d [Red leader?] INFRA-. But eventually I was able to proclaim I’M DONE (102d).

The crossing central entry doesn’t inform the theme, but it’s a wry nod. 41d [Kayaking and windsurfing, e.g.] WATER SPORTS.

Quite a lot of medium-length fill. EHUD BARAK, GO IT ALONE, BENEATHA Younger from A Raisin in the Sun, the unusual STAIR RACE, Cohan’s OVER THERE, CASTING CALL, DRY VERMOUTH, CAESURAS, AIRHEADS, PRETENSE, ANISETTE, and more.

Yeats2015Good cluing throughout, some nicely-turned cluechos and allied entries. Very little frass.

Don’t have time to write more at length, so I’ll just highlight one item. 83a [“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” poet] YEATS. This year marks the sesquicentennial of Yeats’ birth, and 13 June is the specific date.

Very good crossword.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

lat150522Wow! You don’t often see a LA Times Friday set at approximately Saturday NY Times difficulty, but I’d say that’s what this is. The theme is subtle: add an E to the first part of the theme answer, making an -ED word, and creating a homophone; then clue the result wackily. I say subtle, I only completed the final two theme answers near the end of the puzzle so difficult to judge that. Also, COLLARD and COLLARED are not homophones the way I speak. Americans may (DO!) speak differently though. I’d call the set above average in entertainment value. It is:

  • [Chorus of cows?], MOO(E)DMUSIC
  • [Environmentalist priests?], COLLAR(E)DGREENS
  • [Assessed penalties against nonconformists?], FIN(E)DTHEWAYOUT
  • [Barbie after a bit too much bubbly?], WIN(E)DUPTOY

Things contributing to the high difficulty: the grid is very segmented; the themers were difficult to parse into answers; there are few gimme answers; there were also a few unusual names; and generally difficult clueing was used.


  • [Psych ending], OTIC. Prefer the anatomical angle for this answer. This clue answers OSIS too; not a pleasant trick.
  • [They may be seen on slides], AMEBAE. Weird hybrid spelling: American lack of an oethel, but then it ends in the Latin plural form. Who does that?
  • [Black ___], SEA. Can be TEA
  • [He dethroned Carnera in 1934], BAER. See Amy’s post above. Just wait till cruciverbalists discover the well of helpful names in cricket and Formula 1!
  • [Cubist Fernand], LEGER. Not a name I know.
  • [Noisy nesters], JAYS. Are there quiet nesters? Wanted BEES then RATS then BATS…
  • [Apologia’s opposite], TIRADE. Opaque clueing angle for me.
  • [“Suit the action to the ___…”: Hamlet], WORD. See above.
  • [Shade on the links?], GOLFTAN. Appeared via crossers, eventually. I went “oh yes, that is a thing”. Good answer!
  • [Actor Peters of “American Horror Story”], EVAN. Not an EVAN I know.
  • [Bard order], ATALLONE. The “a” seems gratuitous to me.
  • [To whom Chance said, “You’re not workin’ as many bees these days”], ULEE. That’s a long way to go clue-wise for ULEE!
  • [Bridge call], REBID. Long-time crossword solvers all reflexively filled in ONENO, yes?
  • [Shore seen on TV], DINAH. PAULY was my first answer.
  • [“Awesome job, bro!”], YOUDAMAN. That needed a lot of crossers!
  • [Like Lewis’ Aslan], FELINE. I suppose.
  • [Baker’s variety], ICINGS. Cunning way to disguise a plural, though deflated somewhat by it being a clunky one.
  • [2003-’11 Brazilian president, familiarly], LULA. All crossers. He/She didn’t get the press Dilma does!

3.25 Stars

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30 Responses to Friday, May 22, 2015

  1. PJ Ward says:

    I was skeptical but really enjoyed this one. I didn’t note the twin ITs. Should’ve. Big KLU was a gimme for me.

  2. steveo says:

    NYT: Who doesn’t love it when they are on a wavelength with the triple stacks? Fast, fun Friday for me. Fastest time since Tuesday (tough week, I guess.)

    I think the wrestling is literal. ISTR “head lock” is a move. At least it was the way we used to do it.

    Happy Friday!

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Awesomeness!
    Anything that starts SEALED WITH A KISS and ends ON HANDS AND KNEES gets 5 stars from me…
    There’s a hot mess and Russian Roulette in between, for good measure.
    Then, there’s the SELFIE, the conversational bits like THAT ONE, and phone IT IN..
    Major fun packed in a little square!

  4. sbmanion says:

    I enjoyed everything about the puzzle except MILE RUN. I know that it is both correct and used, but why not just say MILE?

    The K in Kuti was the last to fall. The triple stacks were great.


  5. Martin from C. says:

    NY Times: I liked the puzzle a lot but the SABADO x DTEN crossing got me.

    Also, the 33D clue [Event in which 3:43:13 is the world record] for MILE RUN (held by Hicham El Guerrouj) slowed me down, and I later became obsessed with the race time notation. On the Olympics, US Track and Field, Wikipedia race records, and several other pages, middle distance track records are written “minutes:seconds.hundredths of a second”.

    On the Boston Marathon records page, OTOH, the course record set by Geoffrey Mutai is written “2:03:02” (hours:minutes:seconds). No hundredths of a second.

    Google hits for [3:43.13 El Gerrouj] –> about 12,400
    Google hits for [3:43:13 El Gerrouj] –> about 1,810

    Anyway, I was trying to think of a long event, like a triathlon, rather than the MILE RUN.

    • sbmanion says:

      That was exactly what I was thinking initially and when the correct answer of MILE RUN emerged, it bothered me more than it should have. I forgot at the time of my post that the punctuation reflected hours, minutes, seconds.


  6. Eliza says:

    This is a comment on BEQ’s puzzle yesterday. The answer to 3D (Period pieces?) was “Bad moods.” I am offended. BEQ has stepped over the line many times, as in a recent puzzle where he thought he was all hip by snuggling sh*t and p*ss, and all the rest.

    Brendan, may I remind you that you have a daughter and a wife? That we women are not very happy about bleeding every month, but we are the only reason you have a wife and a daughter? Ask yourself how happy you would be if you had cramps and bled every month, and had to give birth. Not to mention the huge strains on the body of giving birth. Men couldn’t cope with it.

    Then you come up with this high-school clue? It’s like something from Mad Men. A woman says she is angry, and the stock response from the chauvinists is, oh, I can see you’re at that time of the month.

    Go to hell, BEQ. That answer put me in a very bad mood, and I am post-menopausal. I’ve heard the jibes all my life, though.

    • Papa John says:

      Well, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in regards to the constant, immature locker room humor and otherwise uncouthness of BEQ’s puzzles. Yet, for some reason, his vulgarity is treated by some on this blog as a sign of — what? — a dubious badge of honor for being so infantile, so hip hop, so gutsy in pushing the limits? I see it as yet another example of dumbing down in our society. He makes good clues, some outstanding ones, but, like Amy being put off by the same old crosswordese that lowers her star ratings, I’m continually put off by BEQ’s coarseness and cheap shots at notoriety.

      I’m with you, Eliza, although I don’t wish Brenda a trip to the infernal spaces and I do take exception to your assertion that “Men couldn’t cope with it.”

      • Papa John says:

        Oops! I meant BrendaN, of course.

      • Eliza says:

        I will call BEQ Brenda from now on. Thanks!

        As for changing the channel, I gave generously to BEQ’s fund drive last year. By generous, I mean in xword terms. I could have bought about 2.5 subscriptions to other channels.

        I am indeed changing the channel.

    • Jim Q says:

      When there’s a song on the radio I don’t like, I turn it off.

    • Martin says:

      BEQ’s and other alt crosswords can be sophomoric, obscene and otherwise insulting at times. I guess I agree that if these aren’t you cup of tea, avoid them.

      But I really don’t get Eliza’s reaction to this particular sophomoric clue. It seems to imply that PMS isn’t a thing. Nobody is saying that the only reason a woman can be in a bad mood is PMS, but how is it insulting to recognize that PMS is real and that a certain snappishness is a common symptom?

      My mom had really bad PMS but nobody had a clue in those days and the reaction of my father, my sister and I to her irrational outbursts was far from sympathetic. On the other hand, recognizing what was going on during my own marriage helped a lot, precisely because of the empathy that you find recognition precludes.

      Yes, it’s no fun, but my wife and I found that a bit of humor helped.

      • Huda says:

        Of course moods are driven by biology, and hormonal status (not only during menstruation but in adolescence, menopause and aging, the latter in men and women) all modify mood. But the objection is that the type of thinking exemplified by the clue is dismissive at least and perpetuates the view that women can’t be trusted. Growing up, I heard people use women’s cycles as a reason why they can’t be in positions of leadership, for example. I promise you that testosterone can also modify neural function, sometimes in positive and sometimes in negative ways. So maybe in the end none of us can be trusted.
        I am not big on political correctness in general. Being raised in a repressive society, I give freedom of speech very high primacy. But we need to be realistic about the fact that some ways of framing things reflects biases and perpetuates them… Whether we call someone a spaz or a nut job, or talk about each other in certain ways. Some people will be hurt and it’s reasonable to point it out. Hopefully, people will take a minute and contemplate whether or not they want to hurt feelings just to get a dubious chuckle.

        • Huda says:

          PS. I make a distinction between a general characterization and a consensual way of coping with an issue by labeling it, using humor, putting it in perspective. That sounds adaptive and loving.

        • Martin says:

          How does “bad moods” imply that women can’t be trusted? As you say, we all have bad moods. I certainly don’t see this as a “spaz” parallel.

          Again, I think recognizing that the symptoms of PMS are real, normal and way more inconvenient for the woman than for anyone else is the best way to avoid treating it as a disease or a sign of “weakness.” It would be terrible to return to my mother’s day, when we never spoke of this natural occurrence because we were ignorant of it.

          Celebrate the bad mood. I think it beats all the alternatives.

          • Eliza says:

            I’m retired, so maybe things have changed. In my day (and I’m still mid-50s), a male boss in a bad mood was, well, a boss in a bad mood.

            A female boss in a bad mood, though, was always subject to jokes about “time of the month,” or being “on the rag,” and those were the kinder words used.

            Here is an excerpt from Wiki about female suffrage in the US:
            The New York Times after first supporting suffrage reversed itself and issued stern warnings. A 1912 editorial predicted that with suffrage women would make impossible demands, such as, “serving as soldiers and sailors, police patrolmen or firemen…and would serve on juries and elect themselves to executive offices and judgeships.” It blamed a lack of masculinity for the failure of men to fight back, warning women would get the vote “if the men are not firm and wise enough and, it may as well be said, masculine enough to prevent them.”

            Fine. I’ve been in a bad mood my entire life. Girls today can do anything. They don’t deserve that sophomoric put-down from Brenda.

  7. I wonder if a clue like “Obama, to McCain” was considered for THAT ONE.

    • David Woolf says:

      File this under “wish I had thought of it first.”

    • Martin from C. says:

      Youtube clip of McCain referring to Obama as “that one” during a 2008 presidential debate. Later, SNL had a skit where McCain called Obama other things, but I couldn’t find a link.

  8. PJ Ward says:

    I was thrilled to get my first MGWCC beyond Week 2 only to find out that in a five week month Week 3 isn’t as tough as usual. But I’ve already scored in Week 4. Hopefully I don’t find out that all of May is easier.

  9. Martin from C. says:

    Ade: See you tomorrow from the City of Brotherly Love!
    Take care!

    This reminds me of attending a D & D convention at what was then Widener College, in Philly. At the initial meet up, they handed maps with “safe routes” between the hotels and the college to all of us “20th level” wizards, thieves, monks, and others. Perhaps half of the attendees were under 16.

    What with the Amtrak derailment, a protest in North Philly today against police brutality, and Philadelphia having the fourth-most murders of U.S. cities in 2014, Philly ain’t showing the love lately.

    So you be careful too, Ade.

  10. Zulema says:

    Getting back to the NYT crossword, I was very pleased with the stack of 15’s. I don’t think I ever saw BAGGAGE CAROUSEL before or a few of the other ones, and it’s always nice not to have to agonize over a weekend puzzle.

    I see that the CHE is AWOL. I assume we are now into the biweekly appearances?

    • pannonica says:

      Actually, this week is a theme issue, with no space allotted to the crossword. After 29 May the summer schedule kicks in and the puzzles will appear on 12 & 24 June, 10 & 24 July, and 7 August. The regular schedule resumes with 4 September.

  11. lemonade714 says:

    I know the LAT is the poor step sister of this blog, but why in the world is Jeffrey Wechsler’s effort getting so many low ratings? Also, if you think it is a a less than average puzzle, why not explain why. I had fun with it and thought it was very funny in places and a bit of a challenge in others. So?

    • PJ Ward says:

      I gave the LAT a low score. I usually don’t comment on a puzzle until after the Team Fiend member has posted a review.

      • Gareth says:

        Probably fine to waive that convention in my case, as I post so damned late!

        • PJ Ward says:

          But it’s a convention that serves a purpose. Your reviews almost always capture my feelings better than I do. Today, for example, AMEBAE, BAER, LEGER, JAYS, TIRADE, FELINE, and ICINGS didn’t thrill me. You explained why. The clue for ULEE *was* a long way to go for just as quick an entry by me as the usual cluing. DINAH Shore is ancient. And Brazilian president, familiarly, wasn’t. YOUDAMAN is cringeworthy on the golf course. It should be the same in puzzles. The theme answers didn’t sync with me.

          The puzzle was difficult but I didn’t feel like I had had a particularly good work out when I finished like I do when I finish other difficult grids.

          But that’s my subjective opinion as a consumer, not a critic. The folks building the puzzles reviewed here are really good. Like most here, I solve a few puzzles every day. Some will hit me the wrong way. I’ve worked other puzzles by JW that I loved. He probably shouldn’t get to excited over those, either.

  12. Harry says:

    I loved the LAT! Great clues, none of them simple. And, the author skipped the usual “Gimmees” and foreign references. I get so tired of the “to Livy” and “to Maurice” stuff. Way to go, Jeffrey!

  13. Martin from C. says:

    I went through the LA Times at about NY Times Friday / Saturday speed. Not to be confused with warp speed or even 55 mph.
    Good: The four themes were excellent, I thought. Other words I liked: ATALLONE, SCRUPLES, JOYOFSEX, TESTDAY.
    Not as Good:
    1. 26D clue [Bridge call] for REBID. Technically ok, maybe. For “call” I wanted something that a bridge player would “call out” with: a bid of a number and a suit or no-trump, pass, double, or redouble, or revoke. I would have been happier with [bridge option] or the like for REBID. I think [bridge option] makes for just as opaque a clue (drawbridge, pontoon, wooden, suspension, etc.).
    2. I did not like the ULEE x LEGER X PACER crossing; a mini-Natick for me. Others here would crush it, doubtless.

    By the way, I had never heard of Fernand LEGER and went to his Wikipedia page. I liked several of his works (and I hadn’t had any wine yet). His Still Life with a Beer Mug and La Femme en Bleu were the favorites.

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