Saturday, September 12, 2015

NYT 4:32 (Amy) 
LAT 10:45 (Derek) 
CS 7:24 (Ade) 
Newsday 32:47 (Derek) 

Two announcements:

Merl Reagle’s wife, Marie Haley, is hosting a memorial for Merl on Sunday, September 27, 5-8 pm. The gathering will be at the University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center, 9th floor, and all are invited. If you’re not able to make it to Tampa, Will Shortz and Wordplay filmmakers Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley will be arranging a lovely tribute to Merl at the 2016 ACPT.

Hayley Gold, creator of the Across and Down NYT crossword webcomic, is changing her posting schedule. It’s still once a week, but on Sundays regardless of which day’s puzzle is featured. The new schedule launches this Sunday at 6 pm Eastern. Hayley welcomes feedback ( and encourages you to subscribe (it’s free) to get exclusive teasers and whatnot. You can also “like” the Across and Down Facebook page.

Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 12 15, no 0912

NY Times crossword solution, 9 12 15, no 0912

Whoa, did this one play like a Friday NYT for you, too? Hopefully it was easier for everyone than last week’s tough Byron Walden puzzle that broke a lot of spirits. The puzzle was also quite dichotomous—there was incredible sparkle in a bunch of the long answers, but also some incredibly blah stuff in the shorter fill.

The highlights:

  • 17a. [Willing to experiment, in a way], BI-CURIOUS.
  • 4d. [Genre of the 1970s movies “Foxy Brown” and “Three the Hard Way”], BLAXPLOITATION. I asked my husband if my answer grid should highlight BI-CURIOUS or BLAXPLOITATION and he was astonished that these are both in a crossword.
  • 34a. [Forum for seekers of faithful partners?], CHRISTIAN MINGLE. The site offers no guarantee that members aren’t also signed up on Ashley Madison.
  • 36d. [Horror movie cry], IT’S ALIVE. I like this because it’s also the title of a 1974 horror movie that I read the novelization of (plus there’s a 2008 remake). Not a tale to consume while pregnant! Evil mutant fetus calls the shots.
  • I also appreciated BAY OF PIGS, “OH, COME ON,” and LILLIAN HELLMAN.

There are two colorful answers that feel incomplete to me: ALL FOURS wants to be preceded by ON, and THE ROPES wants to follow SHOW or LEARN.

The fill felt a tad crosswordese-LADEn to me, too: AGHA, MOIL, Lash LARUE, STES. Okay, less than laden, but peppered, perhaps. TERA-, SAGER, A LUI/AOUT/IDEE/STES French overload, eh.

Least familiar entries, for me: 43d. [Dutch branch of the Rhine], IJSSEL, and 37d. [Knoxville hockey squad], ICE BEARS. I like the Dutch IJ combo, but I hereby excuse all of you from knowing any teams in the Southern Professional Hockey League, which I certainly did not know existed. Haven’t heard the term A BALL (13a. [Step above the rookie leagues, informally]), either.

Best GIL clue: 55d. [Scott-Heron who wrote “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”]. Go have a listen to this classic spoken-word-plus-instrumental song.

Three more things:

  • 60a. [House measure: Abbr.], RES. This confused me for a while. Not an abbreviation for residence but rather, resolution. As in a congressional resolution.
  • 30d. [One with a lot of coursework?], CHEF. I kinda dig this clue, though it stretches the meaning of “coursework” pretty far.
  • 9d. [Taxonomic designation like Rattus rattus], TAUTONYM. If you are at all the sort of word nerd/science nerd I am, you either already know a bunch of these tautonyms or will revel in reading the names. I have to say my favorites are Hoolock hoolock (a gibbon), Bombina bombina (a fire-bellied toad), Boops boops (a fish), Spinachia spinachia (not spinach, but a fish), Zingel zingel (a fish), Gibberulus gibberulus (a sea snail), and Chaos chaos (an amoeba!).

4.5 stars for the juicy fill, 3.5 for the items in the debit column, so 4 stars overall.

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

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 8.20.52 PMVery nice Saturday puzzle today in the LAT. As I keep mentioning, excellent fill. Took a little longer than normal for me, but with travel and jet lag, well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

A few notes:

  • 1A [Game with a Bad Piggies spin-off] ANGRY BIRDS – Filled in an entry at 1-Across finally instead of ending the puzzle there!
  • 22A [“Willy and the Poor Boys” band, familiarly] CCR – As in Creedence Clearwater Revival. Not really a fan of this genre of rock, but this band made a lot of good, toe-tapping music!
  • 35A [With “The,” Massachusetts license plate slogan] SPIRIT OF AMERICA – New one on me. Never been to Massachusetts, and can’t remember seeing a plate from there. Maybe even a slightly harder clue for those in California?
  • 56A [Cell warning] E-MAIL ALERT – These are almost commonplace for people now. And if you’re like me, they get lumped in with the Twitter alerts, Facebook alerts, weather alerts, new puzzle alerts,…
  • 62A [“Through the Looking Glass” brother] TWEEDLE DEE – Great clue. Had no idea who this was at first.
  • 12D [Provocative and frequently misleading link] CLICK BAIT – Great also. Not that commonly used, at least in my circles, but we probably have all succumbed to this at some time.
  • 13D [“The Sum of All Fears” author] TOM CLANCY – I actually saw him at Notre Dame several years back. I read and enjoyed several of his novels, but after meeting him, I’m not sure I liked him as a person! His book “Debt of Honor” was strangely prophetic in what happened in the climax of that novel. I recommend.
  • 31D [“Trust No One” Washington attraction] SPY MUSEUM – I didn’t know this existed. It is listed as the International Spy Museum, but I am not complaining. Rather, I will visit there the next time I’m in DC! (Indie 500 2016, perhaps??)
  • 35D [1765 levy repealed in 1766] STAMP TAX – I thought that was what this was immediately, but to chicken to write it in!
  • 49D [Polite word, in Potsdam] BITTE – This is “please” in German. Nice. I don’t mind foreign words in my puzzles.

Again, an enjoyable puzzle, albeit a slight bit more challenging than a normal LAT Saturday. 4.1 stars from me.

Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Wrestle Mania”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.12.15: "Wrestle Mania"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 09.12.15: “Wrestle Mania”

Happy Saturday, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, created for us by Ms. Patti Varol, sees us put on our tights and singlets, as each of the first four theme answers are two-word entries in which the second word is also a type of move associated with wrestling, regardless of whether it’s freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling, or the entertainment/WWE style of wrestling). The fifth theme entry, MAT, acts as the reveal (59D: [Athletic surface for practicing the moves at the ends of 17-, 28-, 43-, and 57-Across]).

  • PLEASE HOLD (17A: [“Someone will be on the line with you soon”]) – One of the worst things you can ever hear!
  • STONE’S THROW (28A: [Short distance])
  • SORORITY PIN (43A: [Jewelry on a college sweater, perhaps])
  • POETRY SLAM (57A: [Spoken-word contest])

So with the great run of form that a certain baseball team in New York is on right now, it’s awesome to see both METS (10A: [Team first managed by Casey Stengel]) and AGEE in the grid, though the clue to Agee does not reference former New York Mets great Tommie Agee (48A: [“A Death in the Family” author James]). I’ve now seen more people with a PEDOMETER in tow when walking around than ever, and I’m pretty sure I should invest in one now since I’ve started running and am more conscious about my weight (34D: [Step counter]). How many people have never tried a SLURPEE before (53A: [Icy 7-Eleven drink])? It never was appealing to me, even though I was all about junk food back then. To boot, I just got my icy drinks from the pizza shop that was in my neighborhood. Maybe I’ll hope into a 7-Eleven and try one before the summer is well and truly over.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NANTES (21A: [Seaport at the mouth of the Loire River])  – If you’re a fan of international soccer, then this entry is for you. FC NANTES is a French soccer team that plays in the highest division of soccer in France, Ligue 1. Nantes, formed during World War II in 1943, are also one of the most successful clubs in French history, having won eight league championships, only trailing Marseille and Saint-Étienne, who both have won 10 league titles.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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

IMG_0053Sorry for the late write-up this fine Saturday. Ran Color Run 5k this morning, and as I type this, I am watching the Michigan Wolverines try to actually win a game. But the real reason for the delay…this puzzle kicked my butt. I’ve been blaming it all on jet lag, so I will continue to do so. EXCELLENT puzzle by my buddy Frank Longo today, although I will admit, when I saw his byline, i cringed. And winced. And almost cried. Stared at seas of white squares for seeming eternities, but then it eventually fell. I had the puzzle done except for EGG AND ?ART, and since this is a new term to me, that added to the well over 30 minute time. All of it still joyful agony! Some highlights:

  • 1A [Ice debut of 1962] TRIPLE LUTZ – Evidently the first instance of this in competition. Great clue.
  • 17A [Benedict Arnold partner of 1775] ETHAN ALLEN – I have a nephew named Ethan, but his surname is not Allen!
  • 35A [Wire-report topic] RACE HORSE – Another great clue! I was thinking wire news reports, as I’m sure that was the cluer’s goal, before I had enough letters to change my train of thought.
  • 51A [What South Carolinians call Sharpsburg] ANTIETAM – This was just in another recent puzzle, so it fell quickly.
  • 53A [First head of the NFL] THORPE – I should have known this straight away, but actually I did NOT know that Jim Thorpe was the first NFL president, back in the days before there was a Commissioner, like Gotham City!
  • 1D [Kalahari menaces] TSETSES – I don’t know why I didn’t fill this in immediately as well. Maybe because there are tons of menaces in the desert!
  • 6D [Cell group] E-MAILS – I don’t get this reference. Please explain in the comments. A group on your phone? Is a group of e-mails called a cell??
  • 8D [Hit from Bing] URL – First clue filled in. Prayed it was right, and it was. Only because I don’t know of any three-letter Bing Crosby hits!
  • 10D [It’s north of Dar es Salaam] ZANZIBAR – I had to look at the map to see what was going on here. The clue is spot on. Nicely done.
  • 28D [Morgan role in two whodunits] ALEX – I got this fairly quickly, too. Morgan Freeman played Alex Cross in a couple of movies.
  • 54D [Modeled] and 61D [Model] HAD ON and DON – These two entries, albeit slightly different, produce twin DONs in the puzzle. If purposely done, very clever.

Not enough time or room to mention all the great things about this puzzle. 4.5 stars from me. Extremely well done!

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17 Responses to Saturday, September 12, 2015

  1. Martin says:

    How can you not mention the western lowland gorilla, Gorilla gorilla gorilla?

  2. Dude says:

    The only enjoyment I got out of the NYT was when I filled in “Jugs” at 15-A for “___ Bunny (Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend)” And the NE was quite bad bad. Really really. LAT was pretty silky.

  3. Matt says:

    Chaos chaos is a wonderful name for an amoeba– but sadly, the taxonomists have moved on:

  4. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Typo: the Dutch waterway is the IJSSEL, not the IJSELL. Trivia: Dutch ij is considered a single letter (with rare exceptions such as “bijoux”) so both components are capitalized, as in IJssel or for that matter IJ itself .


  5. animalheart says:

    This was my idea of a near-perfect Saturday NYT. You forgot to mention FAUXFUR as a highlight. I don’t mind something like ICEBEARS, because it’s fairly easy to take an educated guess at. IJSSEL, on the other hand… But all is forgiven for the generally high quality of the long and medium-long fill.

  6. sbmanion says:

    I also thought this was a superb puzzle.

    I am curious if there were any black female stars before Pam Grier who were permitted to be portrayed as strong and sexy.

    In baseball, it goes Rookie, A, Double A, Triple A and Majors. There used to be D leagues for sure and maybe B and C, but I don’t ever remember seeing a B or C league team.


  7. Derek Allen says:

    Saw a great documentary on Gil Scott-Heron a few months back. On VH-1 I think, but I don’t remember. Evidently a lot of his songwriting and poetry has heavily influenced rap culture and the black community. He was a talented and yet tormented man. I highly recommend finding any info you can on him, and I’m sorry I cannot tell you specifically where to find the documentary I saw!

    • Bencoe says:

      Yeah, he was an interesting guy. Wrote a couple of books before he became a singer. Most of his music is heavily influenced by jazz. He could actually sing pretty well, which you can’t tell from his early spoken-word “rap” styled tracks.
      Been a huge fan of him for years, he’s one of my very favorites.

  8. Martin from C. says:

    Re TAUTONYMs in the Sat NY Times CW…
    This Wikipedia page is devoted to them:

    Two names that I liked
    1. Idea Idea – rice paper butterfly
    2. Extra Extra – (extra) small sea snail

  9. Gary R says:

    Finished with an error in the NYT – at the crossing of A LUI and LOLA. I went with LOnA instead (no idea at all about the French).

    I was feeling bad about that, because Bugs was one of my favorites as a kid. I remembered him running across female rabbits a few times, but couldn’t come up with a name. But then Wikipedia told me that Lola was introduced in 1996 in the movie Space Jam – now I don’t feel so bad.

  10. bob says:

    LAT: Too many “stretches” in defs. Never heard of “CLICKBATE” For ‘GRABAT” I’d prefer the clever def I’ve seen before “How some get straws”

  11. Gareth says:

    Didn’t solve that puzzle, but pretty sure the Kalahari is too dry for Tsetses to be a regular occurrence. Asked a colleague a few days ago who worked in Botswana if she ever treated trypanosomiasis, to which she responded negatively. Distribution maps for Glossina more or less confirm above:,

  12. pannonica says:

    LAT: Appreciated the tacit connection of 23a [Poe title stowaway] PYM and 33d [Tale] NARRATIVE.

  13. Slow Stumper Solver says:

    As Derek said, this Stumper was Long(o), torturous and extremely satisfying in the end. Just a tick over 2 hours for me, and proud I am of finishing this toughie. (I had to google ‘filo’ but that was it).
    Interesting or fun entries:
    ANTIETAM and ANAHEIM crossing at the M
    Great clues:
    [British pen name] for GAOL. Not a nome de plume.
    [Harmless twits] for BANTER. Wow, such misdirection here – it occurs that ‘tweets’ now works here as well as twits, eh?
    [Shade] for WEEBIT
    [Not work for, perhaps] for INHERIT. This held me up, trying for QUITSON or similar.
    [Lacking detachment] for BIASED
    [Modeled] for HADON. Sat forever with —ON and never figured it until the crosses fell.
    [Most likely to inject venom] for CATTIEST. Best clue/entry for me. Had ‘fangiest’ for awhile.

    OZZFEST, TINGOD (anyone help w/ this last?)
    [Cell group] for EMAILS. As Derek said, this is too odd. Maybe ‘cell items’ or something.
    [“Yesterday”] for ATONCE. The quotes make this seem like it needs to be the song title.
    [What may precede your request] for ASPER. This would seem to want single quotes around the last two words. Besides ‘asper’ being the iffiest entry too.

    Had I not been able to blind guess ETHANALLEN and TEDKENNEDY, those 2 sections would not have fallen for me. I had TRAVELOGUE for [La Capitana] at first also, which really confounded me.
    Great puzzle. One that forces your mind to wander, a lot.

  14. Kitty says:

    Still can’t figure out “tera-” as “beginning to flop.” (I had “flip” filled in, but it didn’t turn out to work.) Can anyone clue me in?

    • Jeffrey K says:

      “A teraflop is a measure of a computer’s speed and can be expressed as: A trillion floating point operations per second. 10 to the 12th power floating-point operations per second. 2 to the 40th power flops.”

      Source: internet

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