Saturday, September 26, 2015

NYT 7:53 (Amy) 
LAT 7:27 (Derek) 
CS tk (Ade) 
Newsday 18:53 (Derek) 
WSJ untimed (pannonica) 

David Woolf’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 26 15, no 0926

NY Times crossword solution, 9 26 15, no 0926

I’m really tired, people, so I am not in a frame of mind to enjoy a crossword or the blogging thereof. So without further ado: cursory blogging!

First: I don’t know how you put PUT A RING ON IT in a crossword and mention neither Beyoncé nor “Single Ladies” in the clue. [Get engaged, in slang]? I don’t think so.

Second: Speaking of “in slang” clues, we’ve got DOPENESS clued as [Excellence, in modern slang]. My local expert on modern slang (my 15-year-old city kid) says that “dope” is used plenty but never this roll-your-own DOPENESS.

Third: A clue that includes slangy language, [Old-school rapper?], produces an incredibly dated (the dictionary labels it “historical”) answer, FERULE. That was a flat ruler used to abuse children (dictionary says “punish” but let’s be real here) in the past.

Overall impressions: I like the staggered 12-letter stack in the middle. That fourth 12 means the grid is 16 rows high. My favorite entries are RADIO SILENCE, “APRES MOI, LE DELUGE,” CILANTRO, LATTE ART, BOBA TEA (we would also accept BUBBLE TEA), MILA KUNIS, and THE MOB (plus 37a). Least favorite: Dear lord, we’ve actually got ESNES in a 2015 puzzle. That had to hurt Will Shortz to include—nice stacks, but archaic crosswordese.

3.9 stars from me.

Don Gagliardo’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 10.02.31 PMNice Saturday puzzle.  OK, maybe I am saying that because I had a good solving time! Didn’t seem THAT easy, but the answers kept coming fast and furious! Maybe the constructor and I think alike! Even though the custom has gone on for years now, I must take a minute to underscore the importance of the constructor byline. Can you even imagine the time when they weren’t mentioned? Different constructors certainly have very different vibes, and Don Gagliardo’s seems to sync with mine!

Having said all that, the puzzle has some neat entries! Note just a few:

  • 17A [“Gilligan’s Island” ingénue] MARY ANN – Got this immediately. Watched TONS of Gilligan (in syndication; I’m not that old!) when I was younger.
  • 19A [Telltale facial mark] MILK MUSTACHE – This is where themeless puzzles can get fun. This entry isn’t likely to lend itself to a themed puzzle, but it’s fun and playful!
  • 37A [Medium-dry sherry] OLOROSO – This one not too familiar with me, but I have seen it before. Not a big wine consumer.
  • 54A [Picnic piece] CORN ON THE COB – Another long, amusing entry. And making me hungry…
  • 63A [Original McDonald’s mascot] SPEEDEE – Ok, so it wasn’t Grimace! Again, I am not that old! Speedee is definitely before my time:Speedee
  • 4D [’70s-’80s San Diego Padres owner] RAY KROC – Another veiled McDonald’s reference here!
  • 20D [You won’t hear any hits on it] TALK RADIO – Great clue. This stumped me for a bit. And I listen to sports radio all the time!
  • 24D [Arbitrary experimentation variable] FUDGE FACTOR – Totally not familiar with this. Anybody use this term at all? Gettable, but if I’ve heard it used before, I cannot recall it now.

Again, a very fun puzzle for a themeless Saturday. 3.2 stars. Always good to smile when solving a crossword, and this one made me smile repeatedly!

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

imageUp early this Saturday morning! Busy day ahead: pancake breakfast, then a bike ride, then heading over to a bike show while picking up my registration packet for another bike ride on Sunday! With all these activities looming, I figured I’d get up nice and early and solve the Stumper.

OK, actually I couldn’t sleep, and since I will be gone most of the day, I did think it would be nice to get the blogging done. While on some occasions the quiet, early morning atmosphere helps with solving, I seemed to be in a slight fog this morning. I stared and stared at the puzzle for what seemed like eons while it looked like this:image

Lots of errors in there, so that didn’t help! I thought 12D [Good source of beta carotene] was some sort of JERKY! I also had IRON in instead of LION at 36A [Symbol of strength], so that also didn’t help! After checking for wrong squares, and seeing the sea of red this app displays when a letter is wrong (!), I then quickly finished the puzzle. Lots of forehead slapping near the end, especially when filling in FORMATRHINOMACAW, and, of course, MANGO JUICE!!  EDWIN DROOD, at 23A [Dickens title child] is not that familiar to me, but I have heard of this book. That slowed me down a bit.

Interestingly, once again, one of the last sections to fall in this puzzle was the NW, or the area near 1-Across.  In other words, the beginning of the puzzle! Am I the only one who ends these puzzles at the beginning? Doug: did you construct this puzzle from the upper left at first? I am trying to think back to Stamfords I have attended, and many times the final puzzle is completed in this fashion because of a clever 1-Across entry. Anyone else remember ZOLAESQUE? Or FLOP SWEAT from this past year? Maybe that is the reason the NW is usually solved last. Interested to see your comments on this phenomenon!

Great puzzle, Doug. I was sufficiently stumped! 4.2 stars from me. Off to a busy Saturday!

Matthew Sewell and Brad Wilber’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “We Shall Overcome” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/26/15 • "We Shall Overcome" • Sat • Sewell, Wilber • solution

WSJ • 9/26/15 • “We Shall Overcome” • Sat • Sewell, Wilber • solution

This sort of theme mechanism has been used before, but this interpretation is deft and elegant. Took a little while to perceive what was going on, so I’ve added circles to make things more explicit.

A number of clues are split over two entries, and it turns out that they’re linked in the grid: the full-name answer of a human or social rights figure literally surmounts the black-square obstacle in its linear path.

  • 26a & 28a. [Brooklyn Dodger who broke …] [… the major league color barrier] JACKIE ROBINSON, with help from 24a [“Precisely!”] BINGO in the preceding row.
  • 45a & 46a. [Politician who …] […dismantled apartheid] NELSON MANDELA, including 34a [“Put that wallet away”] IT’S ON ME.
  • 48a & 50a. [Public health advocate who …] […wrote “The Normal Heart”] LARRY KRAMER, 40a [Tandy’s “Driving Miss Daisy” son] AYKROYD.
  • 67a & 69a. [Education rights crusader who is …] [… the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever] MALALA YOUSAFZAI, with 64a [Part of MYOB] YOUR. Nice centerpiece entry!
  • 91a & 92a. [Labor leader who co-founded …] [… the United Farm Workers] CÉSAR CHAVÉZ, y 86a [Byzantine governor] EXARCH.
  • 94a & 96a. [Reformer who drew large crowds …] [… at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair] SUSAN B ANTHONY, topped with 90a [Caribou feature] ANTLER.
  • 111a & 113a. [Social reformer who spearheaded …] [… the Indian independence movement] MOHANDAS GANDHI, 105a [Hither follower] AND YON. Partial not-so-bad here.

Really good group—and mix—of people. Plus, they’re all symmetrical in length and placement—with the exception of the overarching segments, which for theme purposes understandably do not suffer inversions. Fancy themerizing!

  • 3501977_ca12171b17d [Counterpart of micro-] MEGA-. See also, 39d [Keyboard shortcut] MACRO, which is a … uhm … shortening of ‘macroinstruction’; macro of course comes from the Greek for ‘long’.
  • 16d [Talia Shire, to Sofia Coppola] AUNT. She’s Francis Ford Coppola’s sister. His production company is called American Zoetrope, which makes it awfully clever that the clue for the next-door 15d SLIT is [Zoetrope feature].
  • 13d [Glockenspiel that’s played upright] BELL LYRAbell lyre is a more common spelling.
  • 38a/80d [Figure skating maneuver] CAMEL, AXEL.
  • 53a [Turn left, often] UNSCREW. Such an uppist clue.
  • Least favorite clue/answer: 83a [N. Afr. nation] MOR. Morocco. Wait, scratch that. That one’s just a notch below (or above) 115d [CXCVII tripled] DXCI. Wow. Thumbs in for that one.
  • Had trouble completing the grid correctly because of the ambiguous crossing of 101a [Melodious solos] and 78d [Acapulco approval]: ARIOSaS/BUENa vs ARIOSOS/BUENO.
  • 107a [Sacagawea, e.g.] SHOSHONE. Both she and SUSAN B ANTHONY appeared on a US $1 coin.
  • Favorite clue/answer: [Dagger alternative] ASTERISK. Runner-up: 37d [Prize you might get for scoring] OSCAR.
  • 74d [Dedicatee of a Beethoven bagatelle] ELISE. This is the third time in two days that I’ve encountered a crossword clue for this including the words ‘bagatelle’ and ‘dedicatee’.
  • 68d [Swiss locale painted by Turner in 1843] LAKE ZUG. ARTH is near there. ARTH is in the SCHWYZ district.


Very impressive and enjoyable crossword.

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15 Responses to Saturday, September 26, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Excellent puzzle, which unfolded for me slowly but surely. I knew DOPE and not DOPENESS, but it seems to be for real. And I learned FERULE from puzzles, but I like the word (not the act of using it). It sounds kinda mean (like feral).
    REDACT is also one of my favorites.
    That quartet of long answers in the center is pretty impressive.

  2. Evad says:

    Really struggled with the NYT today–I’ve never heard of BOBA (or even BUBBLE) TEA, KAREN O and thought that the plural of DIS would be DEESE not DESE. Funny, though, I guessed right on all the crossings, so I guess the puzzle was fair overall.

    • ArtLvr says:

      I wasn’t crazy about the NYT, though VILLAINESSES was amusing…
      The LAT was more fun, with the MILK MUSTACHE, SKINNY DIP, and especially a FUDGE FACTOR!

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Derek – the LAT resonated with me, too. I enjoy Don’s clueing style, and I also had an excellent time. I don’t get the low ratings. It would be useful if folks who pan a puzzle would say what they don’t like about it. In a constructive way, of course. And though my time was nearly triple the LAT, I thought Doug’s Saturday Stumper was excellent. In my book, challenging puzzles are very welcome. By the way, Fudge Factor is a very common expression in the scientific circles where I, uh, circulate.

    • Derek Allen says:

      I have no scientific rating system. Puzzle was probably a lot better than I rated it; you are probably correct. It was early… I was sleepy!

  4. john farmer says:

    Last night I saw a performance of “I Love Betsy” (from Honeymoon in Vegas), which rhymes “Beyoncé” with “fiancée,” fittingly, but I still had trouble getting PUT A RING ON IT. Last answer in the grid. SW slowed me down, with LOREN, TRIPOD, NEE all not working. Lots of good stuff in the grid, I thought.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Ditto on TRIPOD and LOREN! Glad even a hardcore movie buff missed CARON at first; I feel better about myself now.

  5. sbmanion says:

    Extremely hard for me. Only the NW fell without much effort. I thought it was a great puzzle and enjoy words like FERULE. DIS and DESE not so much.


    • Martin says:

      Corporal punishment Roman-style seems to involve being lashed with a giant fennel. Even though ferula means “rod,” the dictionary says ferule is named for genus Ferula, the giant fennel.

      The entry may be dated but the clue signals that, so I have no complaint.

  6. Karen says:

    Favorite LAT clue: “Ring-wearing pianist.” I sold Girl Scout Cookies to Liberace. It was before he made it really big, and he lived in our modest North Hollywood neighborhood. I am that old!

  7. Slow Stumper Solver says:

    Pretty smooth stumper this time. Helped along by the guessable BRITISHINVASION when all I had was –I-I-H, the entire NW/Middle/SE was done with minimal aggravation, each entry presenting enough of a foothold for the following entry and so on.
    The SW took a short while, mostly when I had —–CALLS for [Screening candidates] and kept thinking of movie-related answers. This crossed the nicely-clued [Film first seen in 1935] for KODACHROME, which also had me thinking of old films and movies for too long. With those in place it all came together, revealing two beautiful clues/answers:
    [Like drafts] for UNSENT — Wow, I was very stuck on this being related to beer or breezes.
    [Falls hard, in a way] for SLEETS — again, great misdirection.
    Now, all that remained was the NE, and I was moving quickly ….. but created my own roadblock by guessing PIC/CONS for [Quick shot]/[Outlaws], both of which were wrong, but which thus had me guessing the beta carotene source was —–PEACH. I even had MANGOPEACH for a few seconds until I took my time with ASKEDABOUT, and finally realized my errors. Even with BLINKY in place, I still thought [Closing letters] was WXYZ, not TTYL, which is familiar enough but does not readily spring to mind. Done in 46 min. which is just 10 min. over my fastest stumpers, so I consider this one ‘easy’.

    Can anyone explain these to me?
    [They’re found in cribs] is EARS. Totally don’t get it.
    [They might leave you nagging?] is YENS. I understand that a yen might ‘nag at you’ from within, but is the usage ‘leave you nagging’ a bit too strange here?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Wasn’t keen on MANGO JUICE as an entry, as it isn’t so common in the U.S. Kept switching between ASKED ABOUT and ASKED AFTER. That section was the toughest for me.

      Harvested corn can be stored in a corn crib:

      Agree on the YENS clue. Too much of a stretch.

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