Saturday, August 1, 2015

NYT 4:33 (joon—across lite) 
Newsday 7:25 (Derek) 
LAT 7:30 (Derek) 
CS untimed, but approx. 12 minutes (Ade) 

Kameron Austin Collins’ New York Times crossword (joon’s review)

NYT • 8/1/15 • Sat • Collins • no 0801 • solution

NYT • 8/1/15 • Sat • Collins • no 0801 • solution

happy weekend, everybody! joon here, and i’m your saturday nyt blogger pro tem. (thanks to pannonica for posting the grid before i had a chance to sit down and blog the puzzle.) best wishes for a speedy recovery to our illustrious hostess amy and her new kidney!

anyway, i usually like kameron’s themelesses, and this one was no exception. that wide-open middle stair section, with a gazillion intersecting 7+-letter answers, is a beauty. i felt that the cluing was a little easier than a typical saturday, but a couple of things held me up from blazing through this in something like wednesday time. the first was AREN’T I?, clued as {Defensive comeback}. i had the first three letters and kept trying to shoehorn either ARE TOO or ARE NOT. i’m actually glad it wasn’t either of those, despite my misgivings about the lack of subject-verb agreement in the actual answer. to be clear: it’s 100% colloquial, so the entry is absolutely legit; i just try not to say it myself. then again, “AMN’T I?” has never really caught on, despite my best efforts.

the other sticking point was {Stammering}, where i had TONG______ and just couldn’t see TONGUE-TIED (great answer) until i had… TIED. ah, well.


  • {Yale, to the “ten thousand men of Harvard”} OLD ELI. this is a fight song i happen to know quite well, so the clue was a nice fat gimme. in something of a rarity, the puzzle contains another harvard-centric clue, {Cornel who wrote “Race Matters”} WEST. for a common word like WEST with so many cluing possibilities, i appreciated seeing it clued via professor cornel west, a leading figure in african american scholarship. (and yes, i know he’s not at harvard any more, but he was one of the most famous and visible professors on campus when i was an undergrad.)
  • {Parlous} RISKY. never seen the word “parlous” before. i wanted it to mean something having to do with talking, but it’s a corruption of perilous rather than a derivative of the french parler.
  • {Relationship with unrequited love, in modern slang} FRIEND ZONE. this is one of the marquee entries. i kind of like it for its au courantness, but with some misgivings. FRIEND ZONE and unrequited love are basically synonymous, but the former carries the implication that it’s the woman’s fault for not returning the man’s love. generally speaking, the people who use the term FRIEND ZONE seriously probably do not have the best interests of the woman in mind.
  • {Basketball’s Black Mamba} KOBE BRYANT. one of my least favorite basketball players of all time. i’d mention the time an nba blogger compared me to kobe, but it still makes me cringe. (what’s the opposite of a humblebrag?) that said, it’s a great full-name crossword entry.
  • {Original band that sang “I Shot the Sheriff,” with “the”} WAILERS. as in, bob marley & the. this took me an embarrassingly long time to get.
  • there’s something delightful about the crossing of {“Now I get it!”} OHH with {[Not that again]} SIGH.

lowlights: the 3-letter fill is, by and large, unlovely. the thing is, though, that stuff isn’t very memorable after the fact. what jumped out at me was the freshness of the long fill, both in terms of never-before-seen answers and surprising consonant clusters like in BLANKCDS and HOLYSYNOD running side-by-side. overall, it was a good puzzle, and i enjoyed solving it. 4.2 stars if we’re still giving ratings and such.

that’s all for me. have a great weekend!

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

imageIt’s going to be a great weekend! As with the LAT, I solved this one on a quiet Saturday morning. I am not a morning person, but I love quiet mornings!  The stillness helps one to think. At least me, since my job is inherently noisy all the time. But I am in a good mood, because I cracked this puzzle in 7:25!  Either the composer and I are on the same wavelength, or the puzzle was slightly easier to crack without the stacked 10-, 11-, or 12-letter entries in the corners. Or I’m getting better! Word count is still only 72 for this, if my count is right. And once again, nothing but SOLID fill in this. Enjoyable puzzle.  4.5 stars.

I loved CHEEZ WHIZ, SASSAFRAS TEADEEP SEA DIVERCOURT DATEGAS CAPREC HALLICE WATER, ANTZHAMS (no ham radios in North Korea??), ACID RAINDAME EDNASPARTA, and MILANO.  Yes, there are several long entries, and beautifully intermeshed.  I also enjoyed REC HALL and DAY ROOM both clued as [Army-base hangout].  Sometimes that technique frustrates me, but I admired the way it was done in this instance.

My Saturday about to get better:  going to run a 5k, then going bicycle shopping. Have a great weekend!

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.58.28 AMI got a good night’s sleep, and tackled this one in the quiet of a Saturday morning.  Thus the quick time, at least for me.  Like a lot of these themeless puzzles, I finish in the northwest corner.  I get stumped, move to an area where a foothold can be had, start progressing, and then finish at the beginning!  The southwest fell quickly for me, then the northeast, probably because the other corners had the longer entries.  I saw ????ZOIC??? early at the top for 15A [Jurassic time], but that could have been AGE or ERA, and I didn’t want to waste time on it until more letters appeared.

Having said all that, another stellar LAT Saturday entry.  Great cluing and entries, some of which made me smile. Here are some of my favorites:

  • 18A [The Wildcats of the Big 12 Conf.] KSU – As in Kansas State University.  Football is almost here!!
  • 24A [Phillies pitcher Hamels] – COLE – This clue should now read [Rangers pitcher Hamels] as he was just traded a day or two ago.  Baseball’s trade deadline was Friday at 4:00pm, and as usual, there was a flurry of trades during the week leading up to that time, including this one.
  • 31A [DO holder] OSTEOPATH – This is a new one on me.  According to this site, it’s basically a general doctor.  I feel smarter!
  • 33A [1996-’97 NBA Rookie of the Year] IVERSON – Allen Iverson was a great player, probably one of the best ever who was 6 feet tall or shorter.  There is evidently a new book about him that doesn’t paint a pretty picture of him.  Such is often the case with extremely talented athletes.
  • 39A [Like some European scenery] ALPINE – This stumped me for a second; the Alps go through several European countries.  Or so they tell me; I’ve never seen them except on TV!
  • 40A [Monument Valley scenery] MESAS – I don’t remember seeing many “mesas” in this game, unless you call every platform a “mesa.”  The dictionary does say, “a broad terrace with an abrupt slope on one side.”  The game IS full of those.  If you have never played Monument Valley, do so immediately.  It is an extremely well made game, highly immersive, and lots of fun puzzle.  Only complaint?  Game is too short!
  • 55A [Width measure] EEE – Anyone else thinking EM or EN for a second?  Forgot it could be a shoe width!
  • 1D [Unsportsmanlike look] SMIRK – I started out immediately writing STARE.  See why I left the upper left corner?
  • 7D [Golden Grain Company creation] RICE-A-RONI – I am striving to not eat as much processed food as I once did, but I remember eating this as a kid, and it was one of my favorites.  Bigger fan of risotto now!
  • 24D [Oregon Coast Music Festival setting] COOS BAY – It helps that I was just looking at a map of Oregon, dreaming of visiting there!
  • 27D [“Comin’ ___ the Rye”] THRO – Great crosswordese entry.  Only because it is something one should know. Poem by Burns, I believe.
  • 43D [Mary ___: ship in a Hammond Innes novel] DEARE – How do I know this?  I’m pretty sure its only from crosswords!

Awesome puzzle.  A solid 4.2 stars.  Enjoy your Saturday!

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Inside Edge”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.01.15: "Inside Edge"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.01.15: “Inside Edge”

Welcome to August, everyone! Hope you’re all doing great to begin the month. Make sure to continue to have Amy in your thoughts as she continues to recover from her kidney transplant. She has ESP, so she can definitely pick up when you’re thinking of her…or at least that’s the story that I’m sticking to!

Also, Lollapuzzoola 8 (LOLLAPUZZOCHO) is one week away! If you’re in the NYC area and love crosswords, please sign up and have yourself a great time! If you have trouble finding me, no worries. I’ll probably break into song, like last year, and earn another My Little Pony coloring book as a reward! (Yes, that seriously happened. One of a million reasons why you should come if you have the chance.)

Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, gives us a mean intersection at the very beginning of the grid in the Northeast. (More on that just a little later.) Also, his puzzle provides us five theme answers in which the letters “EDGE” appear consecutively within the entries, but spanning two words. After solving, I just thought of other terms that have “edge” consecutively in it, and then lamented that SONIC THE HEDGEHOG is a 16-letter entry. Yes, it wouldn’t qualify using these parameters (15 letters, “edge” spanning both words), but what awesome fill that would be in a crossword.

  • TORTURED GENIUS (19A: [Talented artist driven by inner demons])
  • SPLICED GENES (22A: [Worked on cloning, maybe])
  • SPOTTED GERANIUM (37A: [Purple-leaved plant also known as old maid’s nightcap])
  • CHANGED GEARS (47A: [Shifted])
  • UNIFIED GERMANY (55A: [East-West merger of the early ’90s])

Just when I got finished learning the word “chirr” in the puzzle earlier this week, now I have to come across its alternate spelling, CHURR (16A: [Grasshopper’s sound])? That, along with having to intersect that entry with the unfamiliar KNURL (1D: [Tree knot])? Man, that was absolutely brutal for me. Had entered ‘chirr’ and was thrilled that I had remembered it from earlier in the week, only for the grid to not officially complete, denying me the appearance of Mr. Happy Pencil for a little while as I thought what in the world could be wrong with the grid. Other than that rough spot, there weren’t any other bad patches for me, even deducing ARRAU pretty quickly (43A: [Pianist Claudio from Chile]). Also like the appearance of the whole name of ANAIS NIN (8D: [“Henry and June” author]). If you’re a fan of gerunds, you got a couple in the intersecting answers of SPRUCEST (3D: [Most dapper]) and SLIEST (31A: [Most artful]). If you’re not a fan of gerunds in crosswords, then there’s nothing I can do for you. A huge shout-out to my friend Alix, a super woman and fellow crossword puzzle enthusiast who let me crash at her place in Chicago last night, as opposed to staying in the same hotel where my work assignment for Big Ten football media days has taken place in the past couple of days (which helped me to save approximately $200 last night). 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SHAG (58A: [Certain carpet or hairdo]) – When filling in this answer, I knew this would be in this space because I immediately thought of the practice of baseball players who stand around in the outfield during batting practice and SHAG fly balls, or running around and catching the fly balls hit in batting practice with the purpose of throwing the balls back onto the infield. Probably the most (in)famous moment that involved shagging fly balls happened in 2012, when New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera tore his ACL while shagging a fly ball at Kauffmann Stadium in Kansas City. It was thought that 2012 would be Rivera’s last season in MLB, but, after the injury, he made it a point to not leave the game in that fashion. He rehabbed, came back for the 2013 season, kicked ass, then quit. All that, and it’s because of a mishap while shagging a fly ball.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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33 Responses to Saturday, August 1, 2015

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m guessing whoever wrote the clue for FRIENDZONE just went to Wikipedia and read the first sentence and didn’t check any further. That feels like one way this could have happened.

    The friend zone is not a relationship, it’s a situation within a relationship.

  2. Kameron says:

    re: FRIENDZONE, we all agree. I wrote more about it at Wordplay.

    Worth noting, though, that the clue (which is a variation on what I originally had, I think) syncs up fairly well with the definition in the OED.

    • Martin says:

      The analysis of a clue that seemed obvious is fascinating. I’ve mulled over “carries the implication that it’s the woman’s fault for not returning the man’s love” for a while and must say I don’t see that. I would have thought that the implication is that the woman is clueless that the man has a romantic interest in her, and that the blame is with the guy for letting it happen. It’s a modern telling of “faint heart never won fair lady.”

      Any guy who blames a woman for not knowing he’s interested is beyond clueless. Of course she could know and be hoping he’ll go away, but that isn’t really the friend zone.

      • Bencoe says:

        You guys know that a woman can be in the “friend zone” and not have her love requited, same as a man, right?
        Clue doesn’t specify.

        • Martin says:

          I think that’s what this discussion is about.

          Certainly unrequited love goes both ways. A woman can be in love with a man who isn’t interested. But the connotation of being in the friend zone (at least in how I’ve seen it used) is a loser guy in love with a woman who thinks they both want a platonic relationship. Maybe that’s what Joon meant by the woman being to “blame.” It’s a kind of unrequited love that is whined about by a guy who is clueless about what went wrong. It doesn’t really work going the other way. Probably because a guy is more likely to misinterpret a “not interested” signal from a woman than miss an “interested” signal. He may not be interested but he won’t think she just wants to be friends if she wants more. Unless he’s Mr. Boynton on “Our Miss Brooks.” The reason that there was comedy value in that relationship is that it was so implausible.

        • Kameron says:

          Right: the discussion is less about what the term ‘means’ and more about how it’s used — to the extent that you can even parse those things out when it comes to such new, meme-like language.

          In fact, I’d actually wager that the gender-neutral definition is either outdated or incorrect. In my experience on the internet — the birthplace of the term — it is almost solely used by men to describe (failed romantic) relationships with women. That may not be true of the term’s conception, but it’s where we are now.

  3. TomT says:

    The PDF version of today’s Newsday puzzle at is missing the last 5 clues. The web page also has a grayed-out area that says I need a plug-in to view the content — but it doesn’t tell me what the needed plug-in is, or how to get it. In the past I’ve solved stumpers that were missing the last one or two clues, but five seems a bit much. Can anyone help me find these missing clues?

    • pannonica says:


      1. Player in the most Grand Slam singles finals
      2. Cools it
      3. End of a pas de deux
      4. Word before agreement or argument
      5. Home of the Geffen School of Medicine
    • CoffeeLover says:

      Yes, this happens frequently. I wrote to Stan Newman on his site 2 weeks ago or so about one missing clue. Until today it has been better.

      I was able to go to another browser and load the Java app and see the clues and write them down, but that seems extreme. Especially when the coffee is hot and I am settled down in my solving chair far away from the PC and printer.

      I am hoping that posting here will finally get some attention to this repeated truncation of the PDF.

      That said, it was an easier Stumper this week for me and a fine puzzle.

  4. Ethan says:

    MTV had a show called The Friend Zone about people with crushes on their platonic friends. It was typically evenly split between men and women being the crusher and crushee, with some gay couples too. I don’t really see a reason to be squeamish about it. You can’t control how some deluded people use it.

  5. sbmanion says:

    I started with the Harvard and Kobe gimmes, but the puzzle bogged down for me after that. I assume LAD MAG, is some kind of British term, but I have never heard it before.

    I liked QUIRED and a few others, but was definitely not on the right wavelength overall and found it to be very hard.

    I have never heard the term Libelee before, perhaps because the old distinctions between libel (printed) and slander (oral) are now subsumed under the general term defamation.


  6. sps says:

    Loved Holy Synod. Coulda sworn I heard Robin exclaim that once to Batman.

  7. pannonica says:

    LAT: Monument Valley is a geographic place, in southern Utah / northern Arizona. You know it from classic westerns, such as John Ford’s, and also the Road Runner / Wile E Coyote cartoons.

    • Gary R says:

      I assumed Derek was joking about the video game – but you probably know him better than I do (since I don’t, at all).

      • pannonica says:

        I wasn’t sure, but what’s the harm in adding some more information anyway?

        • Derek Allen says:

          I was half joking. I did think of the game immediately, though. The game IS named that for a reason! I am familiar with the geographic location.

  8. Gareth says:

    Lots of good themeless meat in today’s NYT!

  9. Slow Stumper Solver says:

    Dare I say it, but that’s a rather bland Stumper. Good bits for me were SassafrasTea, Adonis(“hunk”), and Alacrity(“promptness+joy”). I was stuck for awhile with rectory instead of embassy, and CourtPart instead of CourtDate, but otherwise there wasn’t much misdirection. Lastly, I don’t think I really want to know what Slap Bracelets are, and I definitely still do not know what Sheet Lightning is, though I may have to look it up out of curiosity.

  10. huda says:

    You guys are all doing a fantastic job blogging! I’m reading blogs for puzzles I don’t solve! What a wonderful bunch– Amy should be proud.

    Thanks for the update yesterday, pannonica! It was great to hear.

    And I have good news to share with you all: I heard from Bruce!!! He responded to an email I sent him almost a couple of months ago. He’s doing well, but the side effects of his treatments have been very debilitating. So, while you’re sending good vibes, aim some his way…

    And to show my own cluelessness– can FRIEND ZONE happen after someone decides to break up and says: Let’s be friends? (as opposed to not having a clue about the other person’s feelings?). Or does that have some other name?

    • Avg Solvr says:

      “And to show my own cluelessness– can FRIEND ZONE happen after someone decides to break up and says: Let’s be friends? (as opposed to not having a clue about the other person’s feelings?). Or does that have some other name?”

      Yes, it has another name: lying.

      • pannonica says:

        I sincerely don’t wish to wade into this “friend zone” morass because I’m mostly ignorant and what little I know doesn’t incline me to learn more … BUT I will say that I’ve heard it in verb form, as a stinging observation: something like, “Ooh, dude! She just friendzoned you!” I certainly don’t speak this way and none of my acquaintances do (as far as I know), so it was probably in some movie somewhere.

    • pannonica says:

      Glad to hear the (mixed) Brucenm news. Thank you, Huda.

  11. claudia says:

    Today I learned that “spruce” is an adjective, and that one can be “sprucer” or even “sprucest.” I’ll take this one to my grave.

  12. Avg Solvr says:

    “Either the composer and I are on the same wavelength, or the puzzle was slightly easier to crack…” The Stumper put up no resistance; was shocked I finished so fast. Suppose the lack of difficulty was due in part to the names and references being commonly known which I can’t say for the SW corner of the NYT. Speedy recovery, Amy.

  13. Gareth says:

    Top-right of the LAT took me about 16 minutes to complete. More than today’s or yesterday’s NYTs in their entirety. OSTEOPATH/COOSBAY/POMPOUS/TAKELEAVE/COLE that area. Took out and put back ITSOVER a lot. Had RUSTEATEN fairly only, but no way in due to lack of specific knowledge (never heard of COLE or COOSBAY and practicers of quackery don’t get their own abbreviations in these parts) and a fixation that 26a must end in FAT meant I was buffaloed. Eventually hit on NOMEAT and everything unravelled in a rush!

    • Gary R says:


      I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in the U.S., a DO is no more likely to be a “quack” than an MD. Although there are fewer osteopathic medicine colleges, training and licensing requirements are similar, and DO’s are eligible for membership in the American Medical Association. I believe DO’s tend toward “primary care” or “general practitioner” roles, but they can be licensed for specialties, including surgery.

      • Gareth says:

        Given the basis of osteopathy is quackery pure and simple, they can do anything else, but if they can’t perceive that osteopathy as a treatment option is not even biologically plausible for most conditions, that’s quackery and you shouldn’t trust their understanding of basic physiology and biochemistry – which is after all what underpins actual evidence-based medicine.

        • Gary R says:

          Perhaps you should contact Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic – both of which have multiple D.O.s on their staffs – and enlighten them. Obviously you understand something about medicine that these backward institutions don’t.

  14. Bob says:

    LAT: Northwest corner a drag – otherwise a challenge.

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