Saturday, July 11, 2015

NYT 6:49 (Amy) 
Newsday 26:08 (Derek) 
LAT 7:54 (Derek) 
CS 24:27 (Ade) 

Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 11 15, no 0711

NY Times crossword solution, 7 11 15, no 0711

It’s hard to focus on writing about a crossword when there is the #trumpmycat hashtag to check out (wads of shed cat hair placed atop a cat’s head, nice look). And also when one is sleepy.


Random grousing:

  • 20a. [1970s-’80s Olds], OMEGA. There are far better ways to clue this than with an undistinguished car model.
  • 5d. [Put on a list], ENROL. Repeating my request for constructors to excise this word from their word lists. Speak American. The word is enroll.
  • 41d. TUNA CAN? Is that a thing? I would say “can of tuna,” personally.
  • 46d. [Free from tension], UNBRACE. Please use this word in a sentence, and make it a good one. Totally natural and unforced.

Clues of note:

  • 63d. [What’s what south of the border?], QUE.
  • 16a. [Star close to Venus], SERENA. I vote we change the name of the planet Mercury to Serena.
  • 17a. [Jordan was part of it in 1984], NBA DRAFT. How many people thought “Um, could it be the UAR?” instead of Michael Jordan?
  • 35a. [Game for cats], MICE. Was thinking of games that are played and not game that is predated by a predator.
  • 67a. [Monthly reading], GAS METER. Or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, whatever.
  • 14d. [Served with a sauce of mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, oil and wine], MARENGO. Long-abandoned theme idea: horrifying recipes involving duplications like MARE MARENGO and YAK YAKITORI. (Would not eat either.)

3.75 stars from me.

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

imageOuch.  Started this puzzle early Saturday morning, put it down for a bit, picked it up again, put it down again, then finally cracked it after nearly a half an hour of total solving time.  All my confidence from last week down the tubes.  I expected a battle with Frank Longo’s puzzle, though, since his are usually even more stumping than the usual Saturday Stumper. (Feeble excuse: solved some while watching Breakfast at Wimbledon!)

Biggest problem?  For 17A [Folders in pockets], I had KERCHIEFS instead of the correct answer, PEN KNIVES. So that obviously slowed me down, and the upper left was the final area I solved. Having said that, this puzzle is going to be 5 stars from me. Was it hard? Absolutely.  But there is not ONE bad or obscure entry in here.  I did not need to Google anything.  Obscure terms had easier crosses.  As you can see from the screen shot from my iPad, I did use the check your answer feature a few times, which leave little gray marks in the corner when a square is incorrect. But after 15-20 minutes for me, I’m going there. The difficulty is clearly in the cluing, which is brutal. But I want a challenge.  How else does one train for a possible stage appearance at Stamford? ;-)

Some highlights of the grid:

  • 1A [Force unit] POLICE CAR – Yes, I was thinking of a physics unit ending in -METER or -BAR.  GREAT clue.  Stumped me good.  Almost mean for 1-Across!
  • 22A [Something circular] ROUNDEL – A little obscure.  But its in the dictionary…
  • 27A [Chicken, on Chinese menus] GAI – As in moo goo gai pan.  Which I never order.
  • 40A [Get off of your desktop, maybe] CLICK AND DRAG – I figured the clue was referring to computer lingo, but it still took me a bit to get this one.
  • 49A [White base for canvases] GESSO – Years of watching Bob Ross finally paid off! Although not in the form of a beautiful landscape…
  • 53A [Southern terminus of the world’s highest railway] LHASA, TIBET – For some reason I had a location in Colorado in mind, but that likely is only the highest railway in the U.S. Great combo with 53D [Title associated with 53 Across] LAMA.  Nicely done.
  • 2D [Nike’s home] OREGON – First word filled in.  I wear Nikes a lot when I run.  Can’t afford their basketball shoes, though!
  • 3D [Opposite of “bref”] LONGUE  – Short and long in French.  “Longo,” according to Google Translate, is Portuguese for “long.”  Coincidence?
  • 10D & 55D [“Dancing With the Stars” trophy] DISCO BALL – My only minor issue with the puzzle.  I’ve watched this show, and it seems as if Tom Bergeron and cast repeatedly refer to the trophy as the MIRROR BALL trophy.  It does look like a disco ball, though:mirror ball
  • 37D [Simmons debut of 1940] HIDE-A-BED – Gettable if you think what Simmons he’s referring to.  Nice clue/entry.
  • 54D [Unibody hardware brand] IMAC – Saw the word “unibody” several times when researching my own Mac purchase; it seems almost as if I’ve not even seen the word used in any other context.  Maybe with automobiles?

Again, 5 stars.  Loved this puzzle.  Themeless puzzles don’t get much better than this, in my opinion.  Anxiously awaiting next week!

Barry C. Silk’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 071115A smoooooth effort from Mr. Silk this week.  Thoroughly enjoyable and, at least to me, a bit easier to solve.  Under 8 minutes for me!  We must share some subconscious wavelength or something.  I describe this puzzle as smooth because there is brilliant fill while only one or two entries are obscure.  The answers seem to mesh effortlessly.  Some of my favorites:

    • 1A [Band conductor] COPPER WIRE – Have you heard the joke, “Do you know who invented copper wire? Two (fill in your favorite ethnicity)s fighting over a penny!”
    • 36A [Eye-catching link designed to generate ad revenue]  CLICK BAIT – I don’t believe I hear this phrase that often, but it makes sense.  You certainly see a lot of things that are practically begging you to click on them!
    • 47A [“Beats me”] I CAN’T TELL – Very nice.
    • 50A [The same, in Sauternes] EGALE – I wasn’t going to list this one as obscure, but it may be.  I have a background in French, so not too hard of a clue for me.  Most any entry that is French or Spanish, maybe even Italian or German, should be pretty fair game, especially if it’s a fairly easy word.
    • 61A [Doesn’t wait one’s turn] CUTS IN LINE – Another very nice entry.
    • 65A [Unauthorized underground city explorer] URBAN CAVER – Not familiar to me, but gettable.  I don’t live in a large city, though, so maybe it’s more familiar to some of you city slickers out there?
    • 3D [Subject of a 1983 incident in which a George Brett homer was originally nullified] PINE TAR – Another quick gimme for me.  I remember this play like it was yesterday.  One of the rare times anyone ever saw the great hitter George Brett get angry.  Here’s a clip if you’ve never seen it before!

  • 10D [Mother of the Valkyries] ERDA – Really?  This I did not know.  Very obscure. It’s evidently legit according to this page. See Act 2.
  • 11D [Dynamic] HIGH VOLTAGE – Love this one.
  • 24D [Cutting, as a thick steak] SLICING INTO – Was your mouth watering as you solved this clue?  Are you, like me, among the 67-Acrosses?? ;-)
  • 39A [CBS Sports Radio host] JIM ROME – He used to be on ESPN.  I don’t watch or listen to CBS as much, but he’s a good reporter.  He also appears on Showtime.  Perhaps most well known for calling then Ram quarterback Jim Everett “Chris” (as in tennis player Chris Evert!), implying he didn’t want to get hit.
  • 44D [___ Islands: former name of an Indian Ocean republic] MALDIVE – Clever! Known as the Maldives now.  Rarely is the word seen in a singular form, but he found a way to make it work.  Bravo!

4.5 stars from me.  Next week will probably humble me again….

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Who Wants To Be a Milliner?”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.11.15: "Who Wants To Be a Milliner?"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.11.15: “Who Wants To Be a Milliner?”

Hello there, crossword lovers! It’s a good thing that I looked up the word “milliner” a couple of years back when a sportscaster I heard made a couple of references to types of hats when speaking about current New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner. Today’s crossword puzzle, which comes from the mind of Mr. Bob Klahn, alters common phrases and/or nouns and substitutes one of the words with a similar-sounding word that also happens to be a type of hat. Again, sports saves my bacon once again!

  • SWING BOATER (17A: [Hat for a big band musician?]) – From “swing voter.”
  • GLENN CLOCHE (30A: [Hat for an early astronaut?]) – From “Glenn Close.”
  • FAMILIAR FEZ (48A: [Hat for a spirited cat?]) – From “familiar face.”
  • BANANA SHAKO (64A: [Hat for a monkey?]) – From “banana shake.”

My apologies I can’t stay too long, but it’s another puzzle in which I’m getting the sense that I’m getting more in tune with Klahn’s clues. (The apocalypse might be coming indeed!) Yes, it took a long while, but got fortunate that some tough clues yielded some gimmes for me, including PEGLEG, an answer that opened up so much in the northwest (5D: [______ Pete (early Mickey Mouse nemesis]). The other that helped so much is one that probably threw a lot of solvers off, ZOYSIA (51D: [Grass used on many golf courses]). Well, if you’re a lawn connoisseur, then maybe that wasn’t so bad for you! Favorite clue/entry pairing for me was SKIING, with the clue referring to the bumpy, downhill race (33D: [Managing moguls]). You don’t get too much bad fill with Klahn’s puzzle, and today was no exception!  Again, I say I can’t stay too long, and then I go long. Geez! And now I’m going to go even longer…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: THE ROCKIES (11D: [Where to find chinooks]) – Professional baseball in Colorado goes back to 1955, when the Denver Bears played in Triple-A (the team is now the New Orleans Zephyrs). But the current professional baseball team in the state, THE ROCKIES, have been in existence since 1993, and were founded in 1991. The Rockies have one World Series appearance, coming back in 2007 when they lost to the Boston Red Sox.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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36 Responses to Saturday, July 11, 2015

  1. pannonica says:

    NYT: 46a [Free from tension] ––––ACE. Oh yes, I had AT PEACE (and L’ORÉAL, which contradicted what I (rightly) wanted to be STARTER).

  2. David says:

    Unbrace, from a HuffPo article last year: ” I received all the oppressive deficits of a system of an inhuman religious culture targeting to unbrace my mental being, to degrade me, to operate in total submission, the complete debasement and trivialization of my human dignity.”

    Whenever I come across a word that I’m not sure is used anymore, I search it in Google News. If its been in a major publication recently, I usually consider it fair game. I wish the word was unbreak, though. Then I could just point to Toni Braxton.

  3. David L says:

    UNBRACE was the worst thing about the puzzle, which makes it pretty good. Although I would think if you were to unbrace something it would mostly likely fall down, which is one way of releasing tension, I suppose.

    I don’t understand CASHESIN as getting paid for prior work. If you have done well at the casino and take your chips before you lose them all again, that would be cashing them in. Getting paid for prior work is what I normally think of as, um, getting paid.

    • sbmanion says:

      Think of the shareholders of ALIBABA, for example. They cashed in for 11-billion dollars in that company’s IPO.


      • David L says:

        But the shareholders didn’t do any work, did they? Or perhaps I’m misunderstanding something….

        • sbmanion says:

          The company is created and the founding shareholders work for years making the company valuable. When the company finally goes public, the shareholders sell many of their (formerly restricted) shares, thus cashing in on all their years of hard work.


        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Investing money ≠ work, I agree with David.

          • sbmanion says:

            The founding shareholders may invest some money, but often do not invest anything. They toil (sweat equity) to make the company valuable. the value of Apple is not based on the money invested in it, it was the design genius and prescience of Jobs. He did not cash in because of the money he invested; he cashed in when the world wanted what he worked hard to create.

            I can see that I may be belaboring a point, but those who understand IPOs will agree that cashing in is idiomatic in that context.


          • Martin says:

            I’ll second Steve’s analysis. Founders’ stock is cheap, but it’s also worthless at the time you buy it. If you’re lucky, and smart, and lucky again, with a few years of 18-hour days you might be able to cash it in. An IPO is one way, but it’s more likely that a private placement or a sale to a bigger corporation will be the mechanism.

  4. Animalheart says:

    Two honking gimmes at 1D and 2D helped make this my quickest Saturday solve in months. Really rock-solid throughout. UNBRACE was a little unfortunate, but overall the fill was pretty fresh, I thought. 5-star quality? IMNOTSOSURE, but that’s what I’m giving it.

    • Evad says:

      Just picked up this book today from our local bookstore. Can’t wait to dive in, my friend!

      I return you to your regular puzzle commentary.

  5. Rock says:

    Yes siree BOB!! Thank you Thank you thank you
    I don’t want this puzzle to end

  6. huda says:

    NYT: This puzzle gets an extra half star for making my day– feeling like I’m still getting better at the puzzle business. It just opened up like a flower in spring.

    And it made me chuckle, the catty stuff with MICE and TUNA (not to mention the YENTAS), the great quotes from the most unusual combo ever, LISA SIMPSON and CANDIDE, and DID SQUAT, which sounds like a great plan for the rest of the day…

  7. sbmanion says:

    I watched Serena this morning. She had a double hiccup after leading 5-1 in the second set, but managed to prevail. For some reason, tennis has not been as compelling for the past two years. I am hoping that tomorrow’s Gentlemen’s Final changes that. Federer has been surreal throughout contributing mightily to the lack of drama.

    Best match of the fortnight was the one SERENA almost lost in the third round. I do believe that she is far and away the greatest female tennis player of all time. Remember that Margaret Court played in a totally different era and Graf benefited mightily from the stabbing of Seles. Serena’s 120 mph serve would put her in the mid-range of male pros. And she is quick. I used to play racquetball against female professional racquetball players, all of whom hit the ball better than I could, but none of whom were as quick as I was and I was barely an open player. Serena dominates great players like Sharapova because she is so much quicker on top of everything else.

    Pretty easy puzzle for me. I knew that NEXXUS was product like PANTENE, but I did not realize it had the double X so that section gave me some trouble.


    • Huda says:

      Yeah, she’s awesome, literally inspires awe.
      I think one of the best developments in my lifetime is the idea that it’s positive/attractive for a woman to be strong and physical. She and her sister embody that.

    • Zulema says:

      I beg to differ on the Serena match. Look what happened in the second set. And I have great hopes for tomorrow. Federer’s hands have looked magic again. There were many compelling matches during the tournament also. I realize not everyone could watch it all.

      About the NYT puzzle, what is ILLIN for “sick.” 25D?

    • Martin says:


      “Illin'” and “sick” are both slang for “amazing.”

      • Zulema says:

        OMG, amazing is right! Ten years from now, when people work on these puzzles in books, what happens? I know someone who is happily doing 50s and 60s NYT crosswords, I forget what they are called.

        • Martin says:

          To make matters worse, “illin'” can mean either “awesome” or “horrible.” Actually, “sick” can too.

          The Times puzzle has used ILLIN with both meanings. This is the fifth appearance and the previous four were all of the negative (“wack”) variety. I guess today’s is really ambiguous, although I’d say it’s cooler to use “sick” as a positive today.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      A large part of her dominance lies in her physical attributes, a latter-day Wilt Chamberlain.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Here’s a good read on the background of commentators’ obsession with Williams’ physique:

        • Avg Solvr says:

          I agree with a lot of that article, but I still think her physical attributes have played a large role in her historic record, something not uncommon with dominant figures in sports.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            What do you mean by “physical attributes”? Something other than the strength she hones by working out?

          • Avg Solvr says:

            She appears bigger, stronger, faster than her competitors which would translate into greater ball velocity, court coverage and positioning. This isn’t to say she may not be skilled enough to have her record without these advantages, but we’ll never know.

          • Avg Solvr says:

            I think I answered your question but just to be clear: working out only goes so far (which is why PEDs are so enticing.) Serena’s competitors could work out 24 hours a day and never have thighs like she does. So yes, genes play a role in sports just like in every other area of life and the natural world. The question is how much and how can one tell. Of course, even if Serena could dominate on skill alone, skill itself is largely determined by biology.

          • Avg Solvr says:

            Of course, I may have no idea what I’m talking about. Odds would say that’d be a good bet. lol

      • e.a. says:

        careful there, jimmy

  8. dave glasser says:

    If I’m allowed to conjugate, “Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced”.

  9. Avg Solvr says:

    Well, it took foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr but The Stumper was slayed. lol I was tentative on two references and hadn’t a clue for the many others which made this puzzle an unholy beast.

  10. Bob says:

    Silk’s LAT a clever challenge! Me, a huge baseball fan, getting stuck on “throw in a pen” —AAARRGH!

  11. SlowStumperSolver says:

    Holy heck, monster stumper! Spent 2 hours yesterday, and still had the NE blank. Finished it off this AM, when OVERRAN appeared in my brain out of nowhere. As Derek mentioned, this wasn’t about obscure trivia, but rather just a huge collection of vaguely associated clues/answers. I liked most of these:
    [Driving accessory], LASSO
    [Held off], ATBAY
    [Up], ADDTO
    [Not raw], CIVIL (this is quite a stretch)
    [Some rural rangers], HENS
    [Put down], ALIGHTED
    [Thumbs-up], SAYSO
    I did not like [Fluff piece], LINTSCREEN. Fluff catcher, fluff receptacle, etc. Or Dryer piece.
    After all that for mostly the short fill, I literally needed educated guesses in each corner as well as the center. Staring forever until PENKNIVES, ALLCOMERS, HIDEABED, OVERRAN and NEEDIER came to mind in each area. I was really stuck because I had WITHOUTACARE for “Freely”, and it took a very long time to ditch “without” and allow myself to ponder possibilities with the positive “with”. I thought of WITHABANDON, which doesn’t fit, but which I think is a great piece of fill if anyone ever needs an 11-letter for “freely”.

  12. Teagarden says:

    Newsday Frank Longo / Newman is awesome.
    22a. ROUNDEL is also a 13-line poem. I learned it from a poem in The New Yorker a few months ago:

    A SHIP’S WHISTLE – Will Eaves

    Years passed and I received no letter with the word “trombone.”
    The distant cousins wrote, offered their shriller sympathies.
    “What’s wrong with us?” Nothing I knew. Plugboard and isinglass,

    grimoire and cwm, friends all. Still I felt horribly alone.
    Until one day it dropped through roundel light onto the mat.
    I was tearing my dictionaries of hope—who, why, and what—

    apart when it sounded, that note pressing for home. Trombone.
    And fearing it a dream was like waking in the wrong room,
    not daring to believe in your return, or having come

    to my senses after sickness. Veneer, mirror, and comb:
    objects that shivered as relief swelled under them, they drew
    lots to be turned to words which, soon as said, I knew

    were brass. Years sliding past alone until—avast!—trombone.

  13. CY Hollander says:

    Hardest Saturday Stumper for me in ages: took me nearly 4 hours. Last square to fall was RsH/sLIGHTED. As initials, the former could have been anything, and since SLIGHTED worked for “put down” it took me a long time to revisit that.

    I’m still not quite sure how ADD TO works for “Up”. I know I’m days late on this puzzle, but if you happen to read this comment and get that clue, could you explain it to me please?

    • ahimsa says:

      I’m no crossword expert but I’ll give it a shot. :-)

      Up can be used as a verb to mean increase (as in “up the ante”). ADD TO is another way to say increase.

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