Friday, June 19, 2015

NYT 4:58 (Amy) 
LAT 4:53 (Gareth) 
CS 10:26 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 19 15, no 0619

NY Times crossword solution, 6 19 15, no 0619

Martin pulls out left-right symmetry to plunk a quad-stack of 15s at the bottom of the grid, instead of in the middle of a nonstandard (even number of rows) grid. Here are the 15s:

  • 52a. [New mint product of 2000], SACAGAWEA DOLLAR. Dammit, I was thinking of candy and gum. Good clue.
  • 56a. [Sierra Nevada brew], AMERICAN PALE ALE. Okay, Sierra Nevada just calls it Pale Ale. American Pale Ale is a generic category of beer that Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is an example of. Sierra Nevada makes over a dozen different beers, and only one is an American pale ale. I call shenanigans on this clue.
  • 57a. [Rock groups?], MINERAL DEPOSITS. Don’t care for the conflation of “deposits” with “groups of rocks.” Has anyone on the NYT’s puzzle team studied geology?
  • 58a. [“Again, but slower”], “I STILL DON’T GET IT.”

The top fill includes SATCHMO, G.I. BLUES, ORWELLIAN, JOHN STEINBECK, CHOCOHOLIC (any chocoholic worth their salt will turn their nose up at the subpar chocolate in a Hershey’s Kiss), ANGELINA, CAFE AU LAIT, and COWGIRL.

Two NYT puzzles in a row have bygone Toyota models (CELICA here), meh. Additional “meh” moments: IN A HEAP and the woeful IN A PEN; proper nouns ARPEL, ERTE, ARLENE DAHL, ADANO, and BREST; LESE, ARE I, ENDO, AN OX, and OISE; awkward MISADAPT (maladapt is far more common, with 203,000 Google hits to MISADAPT’s minuscule 6,000); and the repeated first-person singular pronoun found in 58a, 53d, 40a, and 13d.

3.66 stars from me.

Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “First Quarter Turnaround” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/19/15 • "First Quarter Turnaround" • Fri • Fisher • solution

WSJ • 6/19/15 • “First Quarter Turnaround” • Fri • Fisher • solution

Another instance of a theme, or at least its title, being well-suited to a crossword’s venue. To wit, I’d venture that the title precipitated the theme itself, which is mechanically quite precise. Each relevant answer is 12 letters in length, begins with a three-letter word, and that word is reversed to form a new one, thus wackifying the phrase.

  • 23a. [Bill from a netherworld bar?] TAB OUT OF HELL (bat …).
  • 29a. [Crosses off the smallest department on a cabinet list?] XES EDUCATION (sex …).
  • 48a. [“Hey, stop pulling on my sleeve!” and the like?] TUG REACTIONS (gut …).
  • 55a. [Moneymaking load of coal?] TON FOR PROFIT (not-for-profit).
  • 81a. [Head of a head shop chain?] POT EXECUTIVE  (top …).
  • 87a. [Answer to “Why does my shoe look chewed up,” perhaps?] DOG ONLY KNOWS (god …). The new Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy is receiving generally positive reviews. I’m unfamiliar with the actor, but Max Schneider is good visual casting for a young Van Dyke Parks, at least.
  • 108a. [Expert in hydraulics and structural engineering?] DAM SCIENTIST (mad …).
  • 118a. [Tanks, cannons, ammo, etc.?] WAR MATERIALS (raw …).  The resulting phrase isn’t particularly wacky—it googles respectably—but doesn’t compare in frequency to the original. This tangential Ngram is kind of interesting.

Interesting theme, and well executed considering the constraints. The pairs each have three-letter overlaps.

I’ve significantly more than one ERRAND (39a) to run today, so the remainder of the write-up will be brief, staccato.

  • Uncommon but gettable words in 6d [Plant with trees] AFFOREST and 38d [Advocate of the letter of the law] LEGALIST.
  • 71a [“We Got the Beat” group] GO-GOS. Clue missing “with ‘the'” clarification.
  • coleusConnected squares: 78a [Piazza del Ferrari setting] GENOA, 79d [Kizilay Square setting] ANKARA.
  • Favorite clues: 45a [Two in a row?] SPAT, 14d [Nonstop flights?] ESCALATORS. 74a [Pitcher of milk?] is a chestnut for ELSIE, but it’s still pleasing.
  • 36a [Colorful garden plant] COLEUS. I’m partial to Coleus, and hoping that my perambulations today—if not, this weekend—take me to Atlock Farm (no website to link to, alas), renowned for its cultivars to pick up a bunch to install at the ol’ new homestead.
  • 66a [Chip topping] SALSA. Topping? Not a word I would have chosen.
  • Tough and rough crossings: 1d [Gummy candy brand] DOTS / 27a [Saints coach Payton] SEAN. Admittedly, for the former I was thinking of Gummi candies and HARIBO or something like that, rather than the old American staple. 102d [Letter before daleth] GIMEL / 112a [Country singer Tillis] PAM—I can imagine solvers unfamiliar with country music and the Hebrew alphabet might feel PAT and GITEL are plausible. See also 80a [Country singer Tillis[ MEL.
  • Additional long entries: LIONHEART, EXERCYCLES, INSOMNIAC.

Good puzzle, above average.

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Family Introductions”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.19.15: "Family Introductions"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.19.15: “Family Introductions”

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope all is well and hope you’re getting ready to begin Fathers’ Day weekend in style. Today’s crossword, from proud dad Mr. Tony Orbach, places nicknames of family members in front of common phrases and/or proper nouns to create some family bonding puns.

  • BROKEN DOLLS (20A: [Toy hospital patients?]) – From “Ken dolls.”
  • MALADY BUG (30A: [Cause of an epidemic?]) – From “ladybug.”
  • PAPAL JOEY (49A: [Baby kangaroo with a pontifical bearing?]) – From “Pal Joey.”
  • SISAL FRESCO (58A: [Painted plaster piece with pieces of rope mixed in?]) – “From “al fresco.”

First of all, any puzzle with ICHOR in it is already a winner (42D: [Blood of the gods]). As per usual with Tony’s grids, there are lively long answers in this puzzle, and a couple of Bs stood out: BACKPEDALS (29D: [Starts to waffle]) and BELLYACHE (9D: [Complain]). First, I initially put in ‘backtracks’ instead of backpedals before correcting that pretty quickly. Also, the clue to that includes the word ‘waffle,’ and one of the across answers intersecting the entry happens to be EGGO (53A: [Kellogg’s breakfast sandwich brand]). I was always enamored with watching ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games and other Highland games events, and probably my favorite event of all was the CABER toss (27D: [Log tossed by a Scotsman]). Honestly, those athletes are as strong as oxen! If you’re a foodie, we have a couple of tasty snacks intersecting each other as well, with QUICK BREAD (11D: [Biscuits or scones]) and ECLAIR, something I haven’t had in a while – unless eating a cannoli counts as having an eclair (47A: [Cream-filled pastry]). Honestly, after trying it for the first time a couple of years back, I try to have a cannoli at almost every available opportunity that presents itself. Is that odd?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STAUB (5A: [Rusty of 70s-80s baseball]) – Daniel “Rusty” STAUB was a six-time All Star outfielder, most noted for his time with the Houston Astros, Montréal Expos and New York Mets. While in Montréal, the 6’2″ red-headed Staub earned the nickname “Le Grand Orange” as he was the Expos’ first true star player. Staub only played three seasons in Montréal, but was so productive as a player and popular with the fans that his number while with the Expos (10) was retired by the club. Staub was also a key member of the 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” New York Mets team that made it to the World Series against the eventual champion Oakland Athletics.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Take care!


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

LA Times 150619

LA Times

Today’s puzzle features wacky-style answers without a terminal F. There’s no revealer, just theme answers! The first three are more similar to each other than to the other two, as they all end in a long E sound. The last two are considerably looser, not only do they have a different vowel ending, but they change sound: CHEF becomes CHE and HALF HAL, the last one gaining a consonant too! Now there aren’t any more EEFs that work like the first 3 that I can see (excluding ones with spelling changes) but when three themers work one way and then the rest don’t it’s a little jarring. Anyhoo, considered individually the answers are of high quality, they are:

  • [USDA-approved cheese?], LEGALBRIE(F)
  • [Query when a certain queen goes missing?], WHERESTHEBEE(F)
  • [Plow one’s recently purchased field?], TURNOVERANEWLEA(F)
  • [Revolutionary as a successful businessman?], EXECUTIVECHE(F)
  • [Improved sci-fi computer?], BETTERHAL(F)Lifting this

Individual notes:

    • [“Service at the Speed of Sound” franchise], SONIC. Inferrence!
    • [Head of the Greek Titans?], TAU. Clever, though transparent.
    • [“The Song of Old Lovers” songwriter], BREL. I just “bought” “Sound of Belgium” in my song guessing game. It’s going to be a bumpy ride! Still, Vaya Con Dios!
    • [Dental treatment], VENEER gets a dental clue but its neighbour, [Improves], ELEVATES does not…
    • [“Hallelujah” songwriter Leonard], COHEN. I am relieved that I was exposed to the original first. No overwrought cover does it justice…

3 Stars

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31 Responses to Friday, June 19, 2015

  1. huda says:

    I loved this puzzle! It did not start auspiciously as I immediately plunked down MOON for the WAVE creator. Had to abandon it soon enough and it took a while to come up with SINE because I think of it as a “type” of wave not a “creator” of wave. I sort of get it, but I think my answer is better :)
    But as I moved along, it just emerged, flowed, opalesced and crystalyzed, exactly as a puzzle should– challenging enough to be well, puzzling but not so annoyingly esoteric as to become frustrating. It felt good. And it was cool to be humming along in mid-range mode and then hit the quadruple stacks at the bottom– surprise!

    I’d love to host a party for all these people: SATCHMO, ERTE, ANGELINA, SACAGAWEA, JOHN STEINBECK, ARPEL and ARLENE DAHL! There was even a MADAM president (we appreciate that). Quite the group, but where are the scientists, Martin? Not only the usual inhabitants of the Cross World but people with magnificent names like André Marie Ampère and Marie Skłodowska-Curie (her compound last name is 15 letters! )

    My thanks. It made for a great end of the day. I wish there was a full moon out there…

    • Evad says:

      I enjoyed this one as well–a perfect Friday workout.

      A victim perhaps of too much advertising, I had BOSE for [Wave maker]–luckily at least the E was correct and the O close enough to an I to see IN A HEAP.

      Let me add my well wishes to Bruce if he still stops by to visit.

    • Jim Hale says:

      Your review summed it up for me as well. A good Friday puzzle that was interesting, hard and not annoyingly esoteric.

  2. Martin says:

    Ok, since Amy only gave me a 3.66, we obviously need some kind of distraction to talk about.

    May I suggest the NEAP tides in the Italian port city of BARI?

    Furthermore here is link to the Easy Clued version of tonight’s crossword (kind of like the easy clothes into games ornery

    I want to make something very clear here, Amy told me only a few hours ago that she didn’t think that there was any point you doing this . Obviously I disagree I think there is a a point you doing this kind of thing w hard Friday and Saturday New York Times puzzles. I understand her point but I don’t think it hurts to do this kind of thing occasionally. I believe it helps beginners folders transition from the easier crosswords to the more difficult wide open puzzles that are publish later on in the week. The point I’m trying to make it my roundabout way you said Amy doesn’t really endorse this, but I do appreciate her letting me post the links the easy here. Kind of like the easy clues in a games ornery)

    • Huda says:

      It was interesting to see the alternate cluing!
      When you say that Amy feels there’s no point in doing this, are you referring to creating the easy clues, posting the link here, or solvers using them?

      • Martin from C. says:

        Perhaps this is a question for Amy?

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          When a puzzle takes me less than 5 minutes, there is no point for me to try an easier version of it. Not sure how many Mon/Tues solvers who struggle with the harder puzzles are actually looking at the blog come Friday. MAS, maybe you should share the link in a comment on a Monday post, and lure those people into tackling wide-open grids with easier clues.

    • Gareth says:

      I think I got the easy clues in the NYT anyway! 4 minutes 40 seconds for me on Friday is probably among the fastest ever for me (I stopped keeping track at some point…) I normally battle to stay under 10!

  3. Martin says:

    Incidentally if any of my comments seem like they need to be decoded somehow it’s because I’m dictating into my iPhone I think it has problems understanding my accent… At least that’s myexcuse and I’m sticking to it

  4. I correctly parsed the misdirection in 52A as referring to coinage, but I kept wanting to fill in DELAWARE QUARTER for a long time before I reluctantly accepted that it wasn’t right. It was the right length, it fit with the crossings I had at the time (AREI/MANIACAL/ENDO/BREST), it had mostly a good set of letters for a quad-stack (ok fine, the W and Q aren’t so great there), and I was only a year off (1999)!

  5. Chris says:

    3.66 for Martin’s wonderful puzzle! WTF? Amy can’t actually say anything negative, so she just gives it a low number.

    • Papa John says:

      WTF? Did you read her review? She hardly said anything good about the puzzle; grousing about two of the long fills, listing what she considers “meh” entries, not liking the choice of one word over another that she would have preferred and, finally, complaining about four pronoun duplications. It seems like a typical Amy review to me.

      I’ve said it before but, apparently it bears repeating: the star rating is not a rational critique based on any specified criteria. It’s nothing more than “I liked it” or “I didn’t like”, with varying degrees of satisfaction in between.

      • Zulema says:

        Papa John, you are so right! So here goes my “I liked it very much.”

      • pannonica says:

        I’m confused. Do you like the reviews here? How would you rate the site’s content?

        • Papa John says:

          “You talkin’ t’me? You talkin’ t’me?!?!”

          If you are, yes, I like the reviews.

          I’m not sure how to rate the site contents. Evad has done a remarkable job on the site’s functionality and visual impact. I find it easy to navigate. The quality of the posts range from great to who cares. When I contribute I’d give this site five stars!

  6. David L says:

    I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I plunked in ADANO immediately, even though I know nothing at all about that damn book except that it shows up in crosswords from time to time.

    The long answers were all good, with the exception of INAHEAP.

    I don’t see how SINE is a “wave creator.” A sine wave is a kind of wave, a mathematical description of a certain sort of wave motion. I had TIDE at first (although that arguably suffers from the same problem, now that I think about it).

    • pannonica says:

      My first thought was SINE, but I dismissed it via that very reasoning. Like, Evad, I then went with BOSE. That and MALADAPT (as per Amy) lingered in my grid for quite a while.

    • Martin says:

      Any waveform can be represented as the sum of sines. This is what Fourier analysis does. Given enough sine curves, any signal may be created.

      • David L says:

        Well, no, not any waveform. A water wave as it crests and turns over can’t be represented by a Fourier sum, for example.

        Regardless of that, I still wouldn’t interpret the process of Fourier analysis as being tantamount to saying that SINE (singular) can be called a “wave creator.”

        On other hand, this is kind of skewed choice of words that I know you have a fondness for, so there is no point arguing further about it.

  7. Martin from C. says:

    NY Times,

    Congratulations on the stack of 4 at the bottom, Martin!
    We don’t see that every day.

    Yet another answer for 1D [Wave creator]: I tried MOON, like Huda, and then thought FANS.

    I liked [Layer that scratches] for HEN, the answer OPALESCENT, and others. ORWELLIAN seems timely.

    I had a lot of trouble with the last horizontal 58A [Again but slower]. I was fixated on musical terminology. Like “Encore larghissimo.” I STILL DONT GET IT was fitting, for me.

    Great group of people mentioned by Huda, and I’d like to add Harold RAMIS (46D), who also directed Caddyshack and Ghostbusters. RAMIS won a BAFTA award in 1994 for best screenplay for “Groundhog Day.”

  8. Martin says:

    I’m calling shenanigans on non-cerevisaphiles calling shenanigans on beer clues. Yes, Sierra Nevada makes a lot of beers (many in tiny amounts) but if you walk into any tavern and ask for a “Sierra Nevada,” you’ll get the Pale Ale. Not only is it the brewery’s signature product, it’s the best-selling American Pale Ale.

    • Bencoe says:

      I have to agree. The first beer that comes up on the link Amy posted, a list of American Pale Ales, is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is their flagship beer and the one they are really known for. It was one of the first truly hop-forward beers on the national market and introduced many people (myself included) to the style.
      They do make other good beers. I had their Hoptimum imperial pale ale a couple of days ago, in fact. But like you say, Martin, a “Sierra Nevada” refers to their pale ale much the same way “Sam Adams” means their Boston lager.

  9. sbmanion says:

    When I was in college, freshmen had to take expository writing unless they were exempt. The exemption was based on going to Andover or Exeter so far as I could tell. Anyway, it was the single best course I ever took and the primary reason was that we studied the essays of George Orwell, one of the great essayists of all time. If you have children, have them read POLITICS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE:

    I really liked this puzzle and for the first time in a few weeks was on the right wave length. My only mistake was that I always thought that SACAj/gEWA had a J not a G.


    • Papa John says:

      I liked this puzzle, too, although a bit easy for a Friday.

      A quick online search reveals it can be Sacagewea, Sacajewea (the way I know it) or Sakakawea.

  10. Martin from C. says:


    The clue never mentioned Hershey. Here’s Martha Stewart’s recipe for chocolate kisses.

  11. steveo says:

    NYT: Besides having two Toyotas in a row, we also got two snippets of WWII literature in a row ESME & ADANO.

    I found it interesting that KNAR and “gnarled” are related.

    gnarled (adj.)
    c. 1600, probably a variant of knurled, from Middle English knar “knob, knot in wood” (late 14c.), earlier “a crag, twisted rock” (early 13c.), from a general group of Germanic words that includes English knob, knock, knuckle, knoll, knurl. Gnarl (v.) “make knotty,” gnarl (n.) “a knotty growth on wood,” and gnarly (adj.) all seem to owe their existence in modern English to Shakespeare’s use of gnarled in 1603:
    Thy sharpe and sulpherous bolt Splits the vn-wedgable and gnarled Oke. [“Measure for Measure,” II.ii.116]
    “(Gnarled) occurs in one passage of Shakes. (for which the sole authority is the folio of 1623), whence it came into general use in the nineteenth century” [OED].

  12. Martin says:

    Here’s the sister puzzle to today that unfortunately was rejected (although there’s over a year between today’s NYT and this puzzle). In particular, the partial at 14-Down was singled out as one of the reasons (it’s actually part of a Pearl Jam album title).

    In brief: this puzzle as the same L-R mirror image symmetry as today’s NYT, except the single set of stacks is at the top. It was co-constructed by myself and George Barany:


  13. Martin says:

    Just a couple more things: the “sister” puzzle linked my me above: the are clues at about a Friday NYT level.

    Also, we’d like to thank one of Will’s test solvers Martin Herbach (yes, he’s the “other Martin around here!) for beta testing this puzzle.


  14. JFC says:

    MA-S, don’t take Amy to seriously. The weather in Chicago has been crappy lately and that’s probably causing her to be cranky. This is a fine Friday puzzle and appropriately difficult. My test of level of difficulty is less arbitrary than Amy’s. If I can work it Thursday night after my pint of vodka, it’s easy. I had to do this one Friday morning.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Pint of vodka? My god, your liver.

      Don’t accuse me of being cranky. It’s poor form.

  15. Greg says:

    I’m with those who greatly enjoyed and appreciated this puzzle. An entertaining solve in all respects.

Comments are closed.