Saturday, June 6, 2015

NYT 11:01 (Amy) 
Newsday 16:27 (Derek) 
LAT 11:37 (Derek) 
CS 8:15 (Ade) 

Jason Flinn’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 6 15, no 0606

NY Times crossword solution, 6 6 15, no 0606

Ooh, a themed Saturday! Haven’t had one of those in a while. It’s got a Thursday/Fireball gimmick to it, but it’s significantly harder if you don’t figure out the gimmick quickly. And I didn’t. Things kept not working with their crossings, and that is because the answers that hit the circled squares are reflected off at a 90° angle.

5a. [She queried a magic object named twice in this puzzle’s circled squares] clues the EVIL QUEEN, and 64a. SNOW WHITE is the [Answer provided by the magic object named twice in the circled squares]. The circled squares spell MIRROR, MIRROR.

This grid is nuts with the 24 reflected entries. 1d I’M OUT and 14a OMENS rebound off the M so that their last three letters appear in the complementary entry’s space. 2d NOIRE crosses WEIGH, 3d TURRET with ENGROSS, 4d STEERAGE with SHORT OF, 19d TAOIST with STONY, and 22d GIRTH with PRISON RIOT. The mirror entries in the southeast quadrant operate the same way—the Darwin partial title that you think has to occupy 9 squares is just OF MAN, crossing Augusta’s THE MASTERS.

Believe it or not, if the theme is nifty enough, I can even forgive SNEE, 65a. [Bygone sticker], meaning a bygone knife you might stick someone with (although a big “ugh” for a clue that tries to be cutesy when the answer is total crosswordese).

Aside from SNEE, the non-mirored fill ranges from ordinary stuff to crisp entries like TELEPORT, SILENT W, ISLANDERS, TIC-TAC-TOE in its entirety, and TENTACLE. Those 9-letter corner stacks that include the theme answers are buttressed by lively 8-letter answers instead of … not having the 8s. So that’s rather ambitious.

I enjoyed the added challenge of unraveling the gimmick. Couldn’t make heads or tails of the northwest corner, but the southeast was more cooperative and then I was off to the bendy races.

4.5 stars from me.

imageLester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Although the time doesn’t indicate it, I think I’m getting better.  This puzzle was all completed….except for the lower left corner’s 16 squares.  With only one square joining it to the rest of the grid, there’s no way to crack it.  The upper right corner is similar, but was cracked quickly.  So at the 11 or 12 minute mark, I was nearly done.  I had UPDATED instead of ALERTED, but the puzzle fell nicely otherwise.

Then I had to Google.  And Google again.  I first hunted for 63A [“YOU: The Smart Patient” co-author], and I found out that was DR. OZ.  That caused a “head slap” because that was guessable.  But then I STILL got nothing.  So I had to search for 60A [Brand with a “New Saucy Look” for 2015], which I originally had as A-ONE, which I felt could use more “sauciness!” The answer check, of course, told me I was wrong, apparently indicating A-One is already saucy enough.  The answer, RAGU, I never would have guessed.  Maybe I needed more coffee.  But then the corner fell, and the puzzle was done.

Having said all that, there is absolutely not one bad entry in this puzzle.  And it WAS hard, but brilliant as well.  Very nicely done.

Some highlights:

  • 18A [Disney kidvid elephant]  ELLA – I do NOT know Disney characters or references very well, despite having children.  Maybe because I don’t have daughters, who likely would be imitating several princesses…
  • 23A [Felt tedium coming on] LOST INTEREST – Nice clue/entry.
  • 34A [Steve Jobs’ first employer] ATARI – I may have heard this before, but still a nice way to clue a fairly common entry.
  • 36A [Advances, with “up”] STEPS – I first had RAMPS I believe, then even something else possibly, until I got this.  The STL in LISTLESSLY going down helped a lot.
  • 45A [Day in Tel Aviv] YOM – Gettable because of the holiday Yom Kippur, since I really don’t know Hebrew.  And nice misdirection; a “day in Tel Aviv” could be describing anything from a nice excursion to some horrible warfare.
  • 52A [Fish with a “…Roger Rabbit” cameo] CLEO – I’ve seen this movie a jillion times, and I don’t remember Cleo the fish.  Cleo is evidently from Pinocchio, and as mentioned earlier, I don’t do Disney well.
  • 2D [Disneyland Star Tours character] ARTOO DETOO – A third Disney reference!  What hasn’t Disney bought out?  It’s bad enough that they own my favorite TV station, ESPN, and then they bought the Muppets franchise, and they own Marvel Comics, sheesh!
  • 5D [Swiss cheese] TILSIT – I can never remember the name of this cheese.  It comes up for me just rare enough so I cannot commit it to memory.  Maybe blogging about it will help…
  • 6D [Pontchartrain Expressway supporter] TRESTLE – My grandparents (both sets!) are from New Orleans, so this was a gimme.  There is a Lake Pontchartrain just north of NOLA. Although any expressway, really, would have a TRESTLE at some point.  I thought it referred to the highway crossing the lake, but it is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.  Maybe that is what the clue meant to refer to.
  • 13D [___ musubi] SPAM – There was a reference to SPAM food recently in Learned League, specifically its popularity in Hawaii. And what do you know: this is one of those Hawaiian dishes!
  • 47D [Triangular turnover of India] SAMOSA – This is in the learn-something-new-everyday category.  Not many Indian restaurants where I live.  One of these days I’m going to try tandoori chicken!
  • 50D [Vehicle visiting the International Space Station] SOYUZ – I was thinking of a 5-letter space shuttle name, and wasn’t producing one! Forgot about the Russians!

4.5 stars from me.  Thoroughly enjoyable!

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 3.12.15 PMPawel Fludzinski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Not familiar with this constructor at all.  And I do a LOT of puzzles.  Admittedly, I have not always done the LA Times puzzles.  That obviously is changing now, especially since I am loving the Saturday puzzle they produce.  This one is quite nice.  The only thing that would make this puzzle more impressive would be removing the cheater square in 1-Across, 13-Down, and the corresponding symmetrical spots.  That would change this from a 72-worder down to a 68, which is waaaay more challenging to construct.  But this puzzle has exceptional fill, so there is no complaint here.

Notable entries:

  • 19A [“Candy-colored clown” in Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams,” with “the”] SANDMAN – A long clue, but it makes you think.  I’m familiar with the song, but not so much the lyrics.  A tad before my time.  I like Roy Orbison, though.  Lots of his songs are catchy!  If you’ve never seen “Black and White Night,” stop what you’re doing and find it. (You can always actually WATCH it later, though!) To tide you over, here is a sample:

  • 33A [Quadrennial winter event since 1976]  PARALYMPICS – This was nice. I had the LYMPICS part figured out early, then a nice a-ha moment when you figure out what is going on..
  • 40A [Metaphorical target of a fruitless pursuit] SHINY OBJECT – Great entry.  Clue a little clunky, but I cannot think of a more concise way to clue this.
  • 45A [Dick Grayson, to Bruce Wayne] WARD – I watched more of the “Batman” TV series from the 60s in syndication than I care to admit.  This was a gimme.
  • 58A [Nirvana attainer] ARHAT – One of the few obscure words in the puzzle, and it may just be me.
  • 1D [They may include yrs. and models] APBS – Great clue.  Until some crosses appear, this is almost ungettable.  Nicely done.
  • 3D [Food Network’s “___ Chef America”] IRON – As you would safely assume, I watch a lot of cooking shows.  Too bad there isn’t an ice cream channel…
  • 11D [Stereotypical slipper?] BANANA PEEL – Another GREAT clue.  Immediately upon reading you have Cinderella on the brain; or is that just me, too??
  • 15D [FedEx competitor] US MAIL – BOO again! This is a clue for UPS! Mail service not quite the same! ;-)
  • 23D [“We’ll see”] DEPENDS – Again, smooth clue.  A common usage.
  • 27D [Walt Disney Concert Hall architect] FRANK GEHRY – This fellow was recently mentioned on the Today Show a while back for this building in New York City.  The Disney reference makes it relevant to 95% of children under 10.  He’s actually still kicking at 86!
  • 56D [Supermodel Sastre] INES – Evidently dated golfer Colin Montgomerie at one point.  Yes, I Googled a supermodel, and yes, I clicked on the Images link!!

Without the cheater squares, 5 stars.  With them, still a solid 4.75.  Quite enjoyable.

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fill Ins”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.06.15: "Fill Ins"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.06.15: “Fill Ins”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is, I guess, an “in-in situation.” Each of the four theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the last two letters of the first word and the first two letters of the following word are “IN.”

  • GROIN INJURY (17A: [Common sports affliction]) – Sadly, I know exactly what a groin pull feels like.
  • WIN INSTANTLY (28A: [Be successful when scratching a Lotto ticket]) – How come that can’t happen to me? Like right now?
  • MAIN INTEREST (49A: [Primary concern])
  • GAIN INSIGHT (63A: [Attain a better grasp of, with “into”])

For so many years, I never went to the barber shop to just get a TRIM (33D: [Barber shop request]).  Got my hair cut, then grew it out really long, just to get another haircut which had to be much more than just a trim. One of my real good friends reminded me of something that grossed me out, when she reminded me that she likes to put MAYO, along with ketchup, on a Philly cheese steak (56D: [It maybe held in a lunch order]). Honestly, for those who do eat cheese steaks, what’s wrong with this person?!?!  OK, I digress. Would have loved SMURF to have been clued as, “Word used as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb in a popular cartoon” (22D: [Blue toon]). Oh, and very fitting to have a World War II reference, with the clue to OKINAWA, in today’s puzzle, given that today also happens to be the 71st anniversary of D-Day (4D: [Pacific battle site in WWII])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MCRAE (56A: [Jazz singer Carmen]) – Former Major League Baseball player and manager Hal McRAE was one of the first successful designated hitters when the DH was instituted in the American League in 1973. As a member of the Kansas City Royals, he was a three-time All-Star, led the American League in runs batted in in 1982, and was a member of the 1985 Royals championship team. He later managed the Royals for four seasons, from 1991-1994. His son, Brian, also played in the Major Leagues, including playing for his father in Kansas City.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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28 Responses to Saturday, June 6, 2015

  1. Evan says:

    I don’t know if this is true for all print solvers, but the PDF I printed out from the NYT website has David Woolf on the byline, not Jason Flinn. Unfortunate, that. Still, I did thoroughly enjoy the puzzle.

  2. Evad says:

    In AL, I noticed Jason’s name was in caps as well, wondering if that had something to do with the gimmick.

    Really loved this one, quite a workout this morning! OF MAN/THE MASTERS is where the scales finally fell from my eyes.

  3. Gary R says:

    Clever theme in the NYT today, but a fairly easy solve once the theme was clear. Sometimes when a theme takes me a long time to discern, I end up annoyed with the puzzle – this time it was fun.

    A little trouble in the south. I had my fairy tales mixed up and wanted to fit Cinderella in at 64-A. Also, Stoneware before IRONSTONE and Berra before TORRE.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: Awesome. Loved it. And once I tumbled to the theme, it fell rather easily, except the SW for whatever reason.
    And it sent me looking for ROTI recipes and thoughts of tasty veggies to roll within them. I have discovered a wonderful spice shop in town and feel the need to try some exotic mixes.

  5. pannonica says:

    LAT: “…removing the cheater square(s)…”

    My understanding is that cheater squares don’t affect a grid’s word count.

  6. Avg Solvr says:

    Clever NYT I suppose, but all the leftover nonsense in the grid just seems off.

  7. Jim Hale says:

    Also took me a while to discover the theme. The fact that omens worked from two directions across confused me. Waivered between disliking and liking this puzzle, but in the end liked it for it’s originality

  8. sbmanion says:

    I am hoping that we can have a repeat of perhaps the transcendent athletic moment of my lifetime. If you were alive in 1973 and saw this race, you will never forget it:

    American Pharoah is easily the best horse of this year’s crop, but his times are not spectacular. I hope he has an extra gear. The two fresh horses that have a chance today are Frosted and Materiality. Any other horse would be a huge upset. Straight and box trifectas today on 5-6-8.

    I never quite got the theme at first blush. Clues were not hard. I saw the diagonal MIRROR, but took a while to appreciate the gimmick. Saturday gimmicks like this are fine with me despite my difficulty.


    • Papa John says:

      Time Magazine’s June 8th issue has a graphic representation of the winners in the Triple Crown that beautifully shows how truly magnificent Secretariat was. Among these winners, American Pharoah looks less than mediocre.

      Thanks for the link. So, what the heck happened to Sam? From first to last — does that happen often?

      What do the losers in these events win? Anything?

      • sbmanion says:

        A Stakes race requires the owners of the horses to put up a stake for their horses to race. The purses are determined by the conditions of the race. Some races pay the first four and others the first three.

        Sham was supposed to continue racing after the Belmont, but suffered a small fracture in his leg and was retired. He went to stud and sired a few stakes winners, but no particularly famous ones. When he died in 1993, it was discovered that he, like the great Secretariat, had an unusually large heart.

        As with Tiger Woods’ surreal meltdown today (he just shot 85 in the Memorial, a tournament he has won five times), you never really know why one day you can do something with elan and supreme confidence and the next day you can’t.

        We will never really know what goes through a horse’s mind, but it would appear that their spirits can be broken, just as with humans. When Secretariat won the Belmont, the experience bettors all thought that he was running too fast and would collapse in the stretch. Imagine running a 100 meter dash and then having to keep on running almost as fast for a mile and a half. Sham simply collapsed after going so fast at the start. Happens all the time.

        • Papa John says:

          It doesn’t seem fair for the losers not to get a cut of the money, after all, the crowd is drawn to the track to watch the ponies run. They’re all part of the entertainment.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      Secretariat’s heart was abnormally large. From Wikipedia : At the time of Secretariat’s death, the veterinarian who performed the necropsy, Dr. Thomas Swerczek, head pathologist at the University of Kentucky, did not weigh Secretariat’s heart, but stated, “We just stood there in stunned silence. We couldn’t believe it. The heart was perfect. There were no problems with it. It was just this huge engine.” Later, Swerczek also performed a necropsy on Sham, who died in 1993. Swerczek did weigh Sham’s heart, and it was 18 pounds (8.2 kg). Based on Sham’s measurement, and having necropsied both horses, he estimated Secretariat’s heart probably weighed 22 pounds (10.0 kg), or about two-and-three-quarters times as large as that of the average horse.

    • sbmanion says:

      It was the second fastest Belmont ever, so American Pharoah is clearly deserving. I have decided to retire and become a full time handicapper as my $51 bet paid $54.75. I had one winning trifecta ticket with 5-6-all.


  9. Papa John says:

    The NYT is a really cool puzzle, lots of fun, although I would have prefered a bit more challenging clues.

    Like Derek, I’m finding the LATs to be more challenging and that a good thing. Today’s offering is a doozy. I remember catching the TV show at the time. I’m enjoying the music, again, as I write this. Thanks for the link, Derek. I like it when you guys post regressions from the puzzles.

  10. Susan says:

    There is actually a frustrating error in this puzzle. The clue for 37 Down is: “John with the 1984 #1 hit ‘Missing You.'” The singer of that song is John Waite with an “e,” not “Waits” with an “s” (I’m sure the author got confused with Tom Waits), which is why it took me an extra half hour to do the puzzle, as I could not figure out the correct answer for 57 Across, “Lecture” starting with the correct letter: “e.” I finally ascertained that Mr. Flinn has misspelled “Waite” and solved the puzzle based on the incorrect spelling.

    • Gareth says:

      Huh. You say you solved the puzzle? Was that the >only< answer that seemed off to you? Because if you haven't figured the theme out, does the [Latino star...] ESTREATS not strike as you as... non-existent? All the theme answers bend at the diagonal line of circled squares, as explained in Amy's blogpost. So the answer is correct. Follow WAI, then bend right for the TE.

      • Susan says:

        Thanks, Gareth. I figured that out afterwards. I’m new to these puzzles and didn’t understand the wordplay right off the bat.

  11. John Haber says:

    I was so happy to have a challenging theme puzzle, and a nice one at that. Because I was slow to guess EWE, I did have to guess at WAITE and ESTRADA, an easier guess once it was just their one crossing. I also had to recover from having STOIC instead of STONY.

    IRONSTONE is new to me but worth learning.

  12. Tuning Spork says:

    Re: Saturday Stumper: 43-D calls for the nickname of a Defense Secretary. Answer: ASH.

    Unless there’s another current or former Secretary of Defense nicknamed “Ash”, this clue is wrong. John Ashcroft is a former Attorney General, holding that title while Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense.

    Other than that, I also got stuck in the southwest corner for a long time. Finally cracked it Googlelessly, though.

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