Friday, August 14, 2015

NYT  timeless (Doug) 
LAT 6:25 (Gareth) 
CS 9:12 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) 12:00 (pannonica) 

Natan Last & the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword

NY Times - 8/14/15 solution

NY Times – 8/14/15 solution

Howdy, crossword fans. Doug here on a Friday. I was way too busy the past couple of days, but I’m back to my usual lazy self today. Many thanks to PuzzleGirl and Derek for filling in!

Today we have a treat from Natan Last and the J.A.S.A. (Jewish Association Serving the Aging) Crossword Class. Natan is following in the footsteps of previous J.A.S.A. teachers Caleb Madison (new BuzzFeed puzzle editor) and Ian Livengood. Caleb, Ian, and Natan — that’s the very definition of a power trio. The puzzle isn’t flashy, but it’s solid throughout. I enjoyed the conversational entries: SEE YA SOON, I’M ON TO YOU, BELIEVE ME and the zippy cluster of Z’s in the upper right. Good stuff.

  • Jumbotron52a, [What might make you a big fan?], JUMBOTRON. I didn’t get this clue at first. Then it hit me. Love it! Clue of the day.
  • 19a, [Hearst publication since 2000], O MAGAZINE. Our very own PuzzleGirl was featured in O (short for Oprah) Magazine once. She was part of an article called “Women with Weird Hobbies.” Something like that. I looked at the issue in the store, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy it.
  • 31a, [Finished with precision, say], DOTTED THE IThis one felt a little off. Isn’t it usually “dotted the Is”?
  • 10d, [Sticks in a Halloween bag?], TWIZZLERS. Twizzlers > Red Vines.
  • Ganesh43a, [Hindu god with the head of an elephant], GANESH. Who can forget Apu’s admonition to Homer: “Please do not offer my god a peanut.”
  • 65a, [Stinko], SNOCKERED. Great entry. Especially when pronounced as “schnockered.” *hic*
  • 36a / 37a, [“What ___?”] / [“What ___!”], ELSE / A DRAG. This was a fun pairing. I’d normally knock off a point for A DRAG, but the clue echo saved it.

Kudos to Natan and his students for a nice Friday. Peterson out.

Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Special K” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/14/15 • "Special K" • Fri • Stone, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 8/14/15 • “Special K” • Fri • Stone, Shenk • solution

The venerable add-a-letter theme makes an appearance this week. Yup, that’s it: the insertion of a single letter to wackify existing phrases. This crossword brought to you by the letter K. Kappa kappa hey.

  • 23a. [Bars that are simultaneously seedy and elegant?] SWANK DIVES (swan dives).
  • 25a. [Teaching Islam for alms?] FAKIR TRADE (fair trade).
  • 53a. [Pickles in paintings?] VISUAL CUKES (visual cues).
  • 59a. [Degreaser’s purpose?] GUNK CONTROL (gun control).
  • 73a. [Admissions at North Carolina school?] DUKE PROCESS (due process).
  • 79a. [Knack that suits a person for a glazier’s job?] WINDOW SKILL (window sill).
  • 92a. [Unenviable job at the zoo’s primate house?] MONKEY LAUNDERING (money laundering).
  • 109a. [Part of a lackadaisical stand-up routine?] SLOPPY JOKE (sloppy joe).
  • 112a. [Thank-you that’s truly wunderbar?] GREAT DANKE (great dane). Relevant here: the breed has its origins in Germany, not Denmark. Because of national tensions in the 19th century, other countries conspired to snub Germany and rebrand the Deutsche Dogge—aka German mastiff, German boarhound, Dogue allemand, Dogo Alemanetc.

Not super-amazing originals, mostly mildly mirthful modifications.  The grid contains precisely one K that is not part of a theme entry: at the crossing of 34d [Quarterback plays] SNEAKS and 58a [Parts collections] KITS.

Aside from the theme, the two most salient aspects of the puzzle during my solve were the handful of obscure entries and the numerous clever clues. 32a [Revoke as a will] ADEEM, 93d [Pharaoh Akhenaten’s capital] AMARNA, 76a [Kyrgyzstan mountain rainge] ALAI, 7d [12th-century king of the Scots] DAVID I, the crosswordese 63d [Indy champ Tom] SNEVA. 47a [Champagne pop] PÈRE, 97d [Does an entry-level job?] GREETS, 30a [Foul play?] BOMB, 47d [They may be found under the covers] PAGES, 72d [Spots for hustlers] DISCOS. Neither of these are comprehensive accountings.


  • Nankeen_Trousers98a [Worryworts] STEWERS. Also the patron saint of decorative pitchers.
  • 96d [Durable buff fabric] NANKIN. Derived from an obsolete transliteration of the Chinese city, known in Pinyin as Nanjing. I’m not a historian or expert in textiles, but consulting with various on-line references seems to indicate that “Nankin” is the spelling associated with the porcelain style that originated at that locale (as well as the chicken breed), while the alternative version “Nankeen” describes the textile. Tangentially in the news today.
  • 4d [Cross-country train trip, e.g.] LONG RIDE. meh
  • 38d [Coordinating with] KEY TO. One of many partials/fill-in-the-blanks, but at least I can use this one for a good song.

Happy trails.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LAT Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times 150814

LA Times 150814

It’s a pretty theme. When I had LEAP… I tried to put in LEAPINgLIZARD and didn’t even consider elision as a possibility! So I had to wait a while for the theme to coalesce. Four squamates that are usually termed lizards form raised bows to simulate them leaping. I word it thusly because the validity and meaning of the term lizard is under taxonomic debate, as it is thought that monitors (leguaans as they’re known here) and chameleons, for example, are more closely related to snakes than to typical lizards like geckos and skinks. Anyhoo…

I’m not a fan of the extreme compartmentalisation on display here: the top-middle has only two squares connecting to the rest of the puzzle. The two bottom corners have only one connection each. It’s a design choice – allowing Mr. Wechsler to feature fairly dense areas of theme and still have control of the puzzle’s fill, at least in theory. I would have liked a little more balance in the design.


  • Awkw. partial that, as clued, doesn’t Google very well: Beef INALE. I know I was trying to come up with something foreign like Itale. I think I’ve eaten it before, though I >think< it was called beef in beer or similar on the cafeteria menu… A unique taste experience, I’ll give it that
  • INERTIAL, [___ navigation: aerospace guidance system]. Well, how else were you going to clue that?
  • [Wingtip feature], LACEHOLE. This is different to an eyelet how? I received communications from Amy while blogging this. She suggests it could be a veiled insult: “He’s a total lacehole!”
  • Stock[Small currency-market trading quantities], MINILOTS. That’s quite a lot of dry, technical down answers, isn’t it?
  • […, soccer game cry], ITSA/TIE. Eh? Soccer matches are usually called draws.
  • [Stanley who plays Flickerman in “The Hunger Games”, TUCCI crossing SAMISEN. I know the latter from other puzzles. That crossing could be troublesome, though it is mostly inferrable.

Cute theme concept, but the didn’t enjoy the fill for the most part; those big white areas coupled with the thematic constraints were too ambitious, even being walled off.

2.5 Stars

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.14.15: "Final Edits"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.14.15: “Final Edits”

C’est vendredi! Happy Friday, everyone! And yes, I’m trying to sprinkle in as much French as possible in my crossword blogs while still in Montréal. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by a Canadian resident, Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is a slick grid in which each of the theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the final word also happens to be an anagram to the word “edit.”

  • GLUTEN-FREE DIET (20A: [Regimen that avoids some starches])
  • FIT TO BE TIED (33A: [Really mad])
  • TURNING THE TIDE (49A: [Making a comeback, say])

I’m sure a lot of attention will be paid to the entry of SADDAM and the ongoing talk about putting in notorious, specifically, murderous historical figures in crossword puzzles (44D: [Former Iraqi ruler Hussein]). Maybe I’m a bad person, or maybe I’m just an insensitive soul, but I don’t really bat an eye when I see this fill, since, in the context of completing a crossword puzzle, I’m not thinking about the atrocities committed by these people, though I definitely am cognizant of it. But I realize that this doesn’t pass the breakfast test for many people, and I absolutely respect that and can empathize. So, again, I hope you think I’m a bad person for thinking that. Only other thing I want to point out is the puzzle is the confusion I had for GO ON TIP TOE, when I thought the clue was in the context of describing a lowlife (5D: [Creep]). I had the “GO ON” part and read it as “goon.” I guess “creep” and “goon” aren’t necessarily similar, so I should have gone off that line of thinking sooner.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DIANA ROSS (30D: [Former lead singer of the Supremes]) – Who was the halftime show performer during Super Bowl XXX between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, back in 1996? It was none other than DIANA ROSS, and I remember that show clearly…at least the end of it! She was flown off in a helicopter! Head to the 11-minute mark to see what I’m talking about.

See you all tomorrow, and thank you for your time!!

Take care!


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18 Responses to Friday, August 14, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Fun solve! Loved 1A, lots of points for a good opener! And all the ZZZZ’s! Was someone taking a nap?
    What do GArEtH and GANESH have in common? — well both showed up in my puzzle at one point… You know— an Indian-Welsh god who has a special affinity for animals…

  2. Brad says:

    Reminder that last week was the last CHE puzzle of the summer. Normal weekly puzzles resume on Sept. 4.

  3. Matt says:

    Liked the NYT, but spent too much time with a RATSO/RIZZO error at 24A. Otherwise, not hard.

    • PJ Ward says:

      I believe the tipoff is that the clue is the actor’s last name so the answer is the character’s last name.

      • Matt says:

        I see what you’re saying. However, and yes, this is an obscure nit, Ratso’s given name is Enrico Salvatore Rizzo (cf. ‘Midnight Cowboy’ in Wikipedia), and ‘Ratso’ is a nom de guerre, not an actual first name.

        • Huda says:

          I too had RATSO for a while, but thought it was a fair trap on a Friday– especially that you don’t expect that many Z’s in one spot…

          Amy, thinking of you! Hope the recovery is going well!

    • Avg Solvr says:

      RATSO was an automatic cause we’ve seen it many times. Frustration then ensued.

  4. David L says:

    Nice! But who is the GNOME that is the legendary guard of treasure? A legend that has not reached my ears, apparently. I only think of gnomes in the context of gardens, where they may be guarding goldfish but not actual gold.

    • Gary R says:

      First definition of “gnome” in the American Heritage Dictionary (on-line) is “One of a fabled race of dwarflike creatures who live underground and guard treasure hoards.

      • David L says:

        Thanks. I honestly never knew that gnomes had a particular job. I just thought of them as one of many woodland creatures who are generally up to no good, except in Disney movies.

        Plus I thought maybe the clue was referring to a specific individual of the gnomic race. Gordon the Galliant Gold-Guarder, perhaps.

  5. Papa John says:

    I had the same reaction to that clue. My recollections of gnome mythology tell me they were avarice miners of the earth riches, both metals and gems. I suppose, in turn, they would be required to guard their coveted treasures. I believe the gnome of the garden variety are a different type from those of folklore and of a much more recent origin.

  6. Bob says:

    Hey, where’s the LAT discussion? – or did everyone feel like I did – a total waste of time. Why do editors allow such obscene examples of puzzles to be published??? As a 50 yr. subscriber I can say, “Shame on you LAT!”

  7. P. Ulrich says:

    CS 20 across: Regimen that avoids some starches = GLUTENFREEDIET
    But, gluten is not a starch. It’s a protein.

  8. Avg Solvr says:

    Oddish LAT and on the tough side in parts but I still kinda enjoyed it. Thanks for the good tune pannonica.

  9. Martin says:

    P. Ultich,

    You’re absolutely right. But the clue is still true, but it could have been more specific. I know a few people including my mother who are severely affected by this disease, and I always hear people referring to it by the avoidance of certain starches. Of course what they really should say is they are avoiding certertain protein(s?)found in certain starcheS. But for a straightforward crossword clue I’m not quite so sure that this definition would help people much more they likely that think the clue was wrong, unfortunately!

    Anyway thanks for your feedback, and if you can think of a good concise way of defining this clue, that’s not too confusing to solvers. I’d be happy to use it in future editions crossword.

    • Gary R says:


      Wouldn’t “Regimen for dealing with celiac disease” work? Or maybe that’s too straightforward?

      • Martin says:

        The clue is straightforward and fine. A gluten free diet avoids bread, pasta, and all things made of wheat, rye and barley. We call those starches. You avoid some starches and replace them with others. “Starch” here is a major class of food, not a chemical category. The fact that you avoid a starch like spaghetti because of the kind of trace protein it contains is neither here nor there.

        Complicating the clue to be “clear” would make it worse, in my opinion.

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