Saturday, October 3, 2015

NYT 7:33 (Amy) 
LAT 6:17 (Derek) 
CS 8:22 (Ade) 
Newsday 18:38 (Derek) 
WSJ untimed (pannonica) 

Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 3 15, no 1003

NY Times crossword solution, 10 3 15, no 1003

There’s some nice fill here, but I managed to find the puzzle rather unenjoyable overall. Especially the lower right corner—some unfortunate cluing by way of a sitcom that was canceled halfway through its first season in 1987. There’s no way in hell anyone should be expected to know or remember this. Between the nonspecificity of 53a. [What “check” could mean], the iffy spelling of 56a. [Oil or ink additive], the nonspecificity of 44d. [Sidekick of 1960s TV], and that terrible 50d. [“I Married ___” (1987 ABC sitcom)], it took me a while to unravel that corner. NO BET in, what, poker? DRIER, not DRYER (I prefer to limit drier to the comparative adjective, dryer to the noun). Batman’s ROBIN, and not ROBYN and not ROWAN & Martin (or TONTO, or …). And then the TV clue is DORA?? This is not a work of lasting import or artistic significance. The same corner also clues RTE as 44a. [Metro line: Abbr.], which is really weird. There is nothing specifically “metro” about RTE. There are rural highways called Route X.


Did not care for LSTS, AT IT, long partial THERE IS (39a. [1968 hit by the Dells whose title precedes “the time,” “the place,” “the girl” and “the face”]? Never heard of it), OYES (57a. That courtroom [Cry for silence and attention] is usually spelled OYEZ), IPANA, UKR (because it’s an abbreviation—definitely not because a Ukrainian gave me delicious homemade cookies, not too sweet, this morning), LAP AT (I include this with HAS AT and RAN AT and NIP AT in my anathema AT entries), and TES.

I’ve never seen the term TRIJET (39d. [727, e.g.]) before. Just me?

I like it when a Saturday puzzle has lots of twisty clues that mislead me and make me appreciate their cleverness. This puzzle didn’t give me that fun experience. 3.33 stars from me.

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

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.30.31 AMKudos to Barry, who has both the NYT and LAT Saturday puzzles this week! Did rather well on this puzzle. It was hard, but not overly difficult to me. Under 7 minutes is fast for me. Although risking sounding like a broken record, this puzzle has virtually no objectionable entries an perky entries. Maybe I had a smooth time because it was a nice, quiet, calm Saturday morning solving experience! Sometimes a good puzzle is all about the ambience, is it not? I enjoy solving in the bed on a quiet morning or a still evening, outside in a lawn chair with a cool beverage (or cocktail!), in a lake cottage with the waves lapping against the shore, and other similar calming locations. Not as preferable? An airline seat, a loud TV room with the TV blaring, or in a car riding along as a passenger. (I get a headache when I do that!) What is your favorite solving atmosphere?

Back to the puzzle! Here are some notes:

  • 25A [Co-star of Humphrey in the 1954 film “Sabrina”] AUDREY  – As in Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. Remade in 1995 with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond.
  • 37A [Heading for old wagons] DUE WEST – Or, in the same sense, heading for Derek in a few years…!
  • 55A [Six-Day War hero] DAYAN – As in Moshe Dayan, a former Israeli leader.
  • 60A [Ski area purchase] LIFT TICKET – I have never been skiing, but I know what this is. I don’t enjoy playing in the snow. Maybe because I “play” in the snow all day anyway!
  • 65A [WorkCentre cartidge filler] XEROX TONER – I don’t know, even if you owned a Xerox copier, if you would ever use the phrase “Xerox toner.” But it’s still a pretty good entry, and it’s also gettable with a few crossings, especially an X or two!
  • 10D [“Yo!”] HEY, MAN!  – Great entry. Who hasn’t said this?
  • 12D [“Sharknado” actress] TARA REID – Have you endured this movie franchise? They are literally painful, and overly campy. I think I have tolerated the second and third versions, but the first edition actually makes my brain liquefy….!!
  • 14D [Two-part country] MALAYSIA – This is a large country, and is indeed separated by a large body of water.malaysia_map
  • 21D [Clown around] YUK IT UP – Favorite entry. Made me smile!
  • 24D [2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee] SEAU – A gimme for me. Junior Seau was a great player, who notably committed suicide and is one of the more famous examples of an ex-football player with brain damage from playing. A tragic story.
  • 28D [“The Great Dictator” co-star Paulette] GODDARD – I don’t know this movie either. But this actress seems familiar to me, for some reason.
  • 45D [Antacid brand] MAALOX – I’ve ate enough garbage over the years, so I know EXACTLY what Maalox is!
  • 49D [Roll] ROSTER – Simple, yet hard. This is not the first use of “roll,” and probably not the second or third, either!

A clean puzzle. 4 stars from me!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0057This one scared me! I stared at basically an empty grid for a full minute or two! I think I filled in ICU at 39-Across [Area with multiple monitors] first, and even then with not much confidence. I think that feeling of dread is what makes the hard, wide-open, Saturday-level difficulty puzzles fun to solve. It also is, at least for me, a confidence building exercise. Any time you accomplish something that you didn’t think you could do, your self-esteem gets a boost, whether it is in some form or workout, a job activity, a  do-it-yourself project, or even a word puzzle! I’m usually pretty confident I will get most any puzzle solved, it’s just a matter of how long it will take!

Having said all that, great puzzle. And solved in under 20 minutes, and without having to check for errors! Lively long entries in most spots, and clever cluing. A sample:

    • 1A [Hindi word for “master”] SWAMI – I had SAHIB in there as a guess, but I knew that wasn’t right. Still cannot solve 1-Across very easily, although in this puzzle I actually DID solve the upper half first!
    • 30A [Common contract-date preceder] ON OR BEFORE – Great entry.
    • 49A [Brand name derived from a “2001 …” line] IPOD – Great piece of trivia. No doubt from some line like, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL!”
    • 61A [Unwelcome comment from a salesperson] THAT’S EXTRA – Another great entry. Paints a vivid picture!
    • 64A [Cause of teen torpor] SENIORITIS – Yet again, a great word. I had a bad case of this in high school!
    • 12D [King of Rome, C. 1815] NAPOLEON II – Hard clue for a common entry. Also slightly harder with the II trailing the name. Nicely done!
    • 28D [Not overly skilled] BLUE COLLAR – This is the only clue I slightly disagree with. Some may even take offense to this? A “blue-collar” mechanic, for instance, would seem to me to be quite highly skilled. “White-collar” workers, or office staff, are also skilled, but I would say they just have different skills. Interested to see comments on this clue!
    • 29D [Popular deck decoration] BOSTON FERN – Popular? Perhaps. Maybe “common” would read better? Maybe it’s just me. This and the last clue, though, both entirely solvable as
    • 50D [___ cup] DIXIE – Great vague clue. Harder in that DIXIE, as a brand name, would be capitalized, whereas cup would not. I think I filled this entry in last!
    • 53D [Gaga’s partner on “The Greatest Thing”] CHER – Did not know this song. Still don’t. Maybe you have heard it before:

  • 57D [“Divergent” heroine] TRIS – I’ve been meaning to read these books and see these movies; haven’t done either. So this one was not a gimme.

Again, a great puzzle. An even 4 stars. Can’t wait for next weeks agony!

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Celebrity Anagrams”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.03.15: "Celebrity Anagrams"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.03.15: “Celebrity Anagrams”

Good morning, everyone. Busy couple of days away from here, so can’t stay too long. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is more fun with anagrams, as the clues include words in capital letters, which also happen to be anagrams of the entries, who also happen to be celebrities.

  • MILEY CYRUS (17A: [Pop star who could say, “USE MY LYRIC”?])
  • GEORGE CLOONEY (23A: [Actor who might offer COOL EGO, ENERGY?])
  • JENNIFER ANISTON (35A: [Comic actress who may appear FINE IN TORN JEANS?])
  • CLINT EASTWOOD (50A: [Actor/director who could produce OLD WEST ACTION?])
  • CAROLE KING (58A: [Singer/songwriter who can provide GENIAL ROCK?])

Word of the day that I got a chance to learn from doing this grid? SISAL (9D: [Rope fiber]). I’m almost giddy anytime I see some basic French in a puzzle now since I’m learning the language, so À TOI is now food and drink for me (31A: [Yours, in Tours]). Also learned that “vôtre”could also be used. Favorite fill was MICROCOSM (10D: [Small representation of a larger group]), while TUBBS gave me an earworm of one of the best theme songs in television history, in my opinion (5D: [Detective Crockett’s “Miami Vice” partner])

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ALL DAY (45A: [Like many amusement park passes])  – The nickname of current Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, A.D., doesn’t stand for his first two letters in his first name, but for ALL DAY, as in, he’ll run up, down and around opposing defenses all day.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


Ethan Erickson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I’m Way Ahead of You” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/3/15 • "I'm Way Ahead of You" • Sat • Erickson • solution

WSJ • 10/3/15 • “I’m Way Ahead of You” • Sat • Erickson • solution

In which IM- is appended to phrases and the altered version is clued.

  • 22a. [Rodin’s “The Thinker”?] IMAGE OF REASON. See also, 97a [Output of un penseur] IDÉE.
  • 33a. [Put a contract addition on a spindle?] IMPALE RIDER. In reference to the Clint Eastwood western, itself an allusion to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. See also  80d [Ruination] DOOM.
  • 44a. [Plastic surgeons?] IMPLANT MANAGERS.
  • 64a. [Charge Dame Nellie with official misconduct?] IMPEACH MELBA.
  • 74a. [Confiscate a baker’s wares?] IMPOUND CAKE.
  • 90a. [Purpose of fertilizer?] IMPROVING GROUND.
  • 100a. [Frequency with which one has sudden urges?] IMPULSE RATE.
  • 118a. [Home of a foreign trader?] IMPORTERHOUSE.

Varying amounts of strain in this lot. Save for the first themer, the added IMs are precisely concordant with the actual prefix of the new word. So that’s a notable inconsistency.

Lots of chewy midlength and longish fill throughout the grid. Triple seven-stacks in the southwest and northeast, held in place with the eights ARMS DEAL and DROPOUTS. Another two sets vertically on either flank, these shot through by a pair of tens comprising Row 11: PAUL BUNYAN (with the superb clue [Lumbering giant] and EXPRESSION.

  • Tough, perhaps confounding duo at 98- and 99-across: 98a [Renée of the 1926 silent film “The Blackbird”] ADORÉE, [[Browning who directed the 1926 silent film “The Blackbird”] TOD. But I think the relatively easy crossings relieve the burden. TOD crosses actress ANN TODD (68d).
  • 25a [Morgan’s mother] MARE. Nothing supernatural or mythological here; it’s a breed of horse, developed in New England and named for a teacher called Justin Morgan.
  • 11d [Neurological gap] SYNAPSE, 60d [Failure of judgment] LAPSE. At least 105a [Cathedral parts] was SPIRES and not APSES.
  • 71d/80d [Their business is picking up] BUSES, MAIDS.
  • 88d [Language that gave us “pemmican”] CREE.
  • Second-favorite clue (after 69a): 92d [Taking its toll?] PEALING.
  • 15d [Ankles] TARSI vs 101d [Triceps attachments] ULNAS.

Modest but well-made crossword.

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24 Responses to Saturday, October 3, 2015

  1. john farmer says:

    I had trouble in the SE too, going with ROWAN (more straight man than sidekick, actually) instead of ROBIN for a while.

    I had commented about QUADRUPLE PLAY at Wordplay already. It’s more a “theoretical feat” than a “super-rare” feat, since it’s never happened. But I thought for a moment the clue might be leading in another direction, one my son had asked about this week, a feat that has happened just twice in MLB history. I’m guessing Steve will have no trouble coming up with the answer. The players involved were Ken Johnson of the Colt .45s in 1964, and Steve Barber/Stu Miller of the Orioles in 1967. What was the feat?

    As clued, I don’t think THERE IS qualifies as a partial.

    Good puzzle, good challenge. I liked it.

  2. sbmanion says:

    I know that Ken Johnson pitched a no-hitter and lost the game, so I assume that was the feat. I did not realize it was so rare. My first thought was that it was either an unassisted triple play or a walk-off triple or walk off inside the park homer. Not sure how rare those feats are. Quadruple play did not cross my mind and seems contrived.

    “Check” is a common term in poker, perhaps the most common, although it is often unspoken. Most players will tap the table with one hand as a universally understood indication that they are not betting rather than actually say “check.” If you want to be a good player, you must have the willingness to check-raise your child out of her lunch money. You check (no bet) initially and then raise whoever does bet. But there is some honor even among thieves. Check-raising is absolutely part of the game, but “slow-rolling” your winning hand is not. Let’s suppose you are playing hold’em and the board has three hearts including a the king and jack. Someone turns over a pair of kings. You have the ace-jack of hearts and therefore have “the nuts,” the unbeatable winning hand. Instead of turning over your ace-jack at once to show the winning hand, you initially just show the jack and then hesitate before turning over the ace.

    I have never heard the phrase KNEE BENDS, only DEEP KNEE BENDS. In general, I was not on the right wavelength and struggled with this one. Did anyone else put in DECORUM instead of DECENCY?


  3. Christopher Smith says:

    A quadruple play is mathematically impossible. A team gets 3 outs & after the 3rd out is recorded the inning ends. It’s not “rare” & certainly not part of “lore.” It can’t happen.
    For RTE maybe they mean the Paris Metro? Although that would clue RER better? No idea.
    Loved the other long clues but some of this was mystifying.

  4. Gary R says:

    Thought about the poker meaning of “check,” but had filled in TWill for coat material and stuck with “got it” for “check” for way too long.

    I don’t know all the details of baseball rules, but if you have runners on 2nd and 3rd and a dropped third strike, could you theoretically have four outs on one play (including the strikeout)?

    • sbmanion says:

      there would be two plausible scenarios for a “quadruple” play, but neither is accurate since as noted the inning ends with the third out. The first is the scenario in your post. The second could occur with the bases loaded. The batter bunts and the ball stops inches from home plate. The catcher picks up the ball as he steps on home, then initiates an “around the horn” triple play. Four outs, but the inning ended with the third out at second base. The throw from second to first is superfluous.


      • Martin says:

        The plausible scenario is a runner scoring from third before the triple play is turned. This runner neglected to tag up. The run would nevertheless count unless an appeal play allows the ump to call him out for not tagging. A throw to third and stepping on the base would constitute that appeal play and negate the run. Without it the ump has to call the runner safe at home.

        This has never happened in MLB play, but it is all by the book. “Lore” makes the clue 100% ok by me.

        • Matt Gaffney says:

          Why would the run count in the first place? The player didn’t tag up on a caught ball, so his run wouldn’t register period.

          I see the theoretical point, but if this scenario played out and the teams both went into the dugout without the fourth out being made, and then a sudden rain ended the game, the run still wouldn’t count.

  5. Norm says:

    Gary, The batter can’t be out twice, so … no.

    • Gary R says:

      But my understanding is that in the case of a dropped third strike (under certain circumstances), the pitcher is credited with a strikeout and the force at first or tagging of the runner is also an out (but the strikeout doesn’t count toward the three outs in the inning).

      • Norm says:

        The pitcher gets a K but there’s no additional out. The putout at first completes the strike/out. A person cannot be out twice. Should a first baseman get two outs because he catches a pop-up and then also tags the batter who is running hard to first base in case the pop-up is dropped? No. Should the catcher get credit for an extra out if he tags the runner coming in from third on a sacrifice fly and then does a throw back to third just in case and the ruling is that the runner left early? No. You cannot put one player out twice. How the sabremetricists want to count these plays and who they give credit to (and how much) is like asking how many angels can dance on the head of a baseball bat. :) There cannot be four outs in an inning. But, I liked the puzzle regardless — except for Verizon clues. Really? I’m supposed to pay attention to where Verizon came from AND what it’s doing now? No. That’s much worse than a made-up baseball thing.

  6. huda says:

    NYT: Felt like Amy, except for QUADRUPLE the time… ALAS ( but then when I’m having fun it also lasts longer :).

    Funnily enough, QUADRUPLE PLAY came easily (ignorance can be bliss) as did SPLIT ENDS. My struggles were mostly in the corners…

  7. David L says:

    Last time there was a Barry Silk puzzle I breezed right through it and figured I was learning his style. So much for that. This was very slow for me everywhere, and I gave up in the SE corner — even with more than half of it completed, I couldn’t get DORA or NOBET or RTE or DRIER.

    I don’t understand DRIER anyway — how is that an oil or ink additive? Beyond my ken.

    I had MODESTY before DECENCY and FIRSTPAGE before FRONTPAGE. A-1 seems like a very forced clue for the latter — the front page of Appendix A, maybe? But then it wouldn’t be a front page.

    I liked some of this but in too many places the clueing was stretched to breaking point and beyond, IMO.

    • Papa John says:

      There are many chemical driers for paints. I’ve used what is known as Japan drier quite extensively. House painters used it a lot in the old enamel paints. There is also a cobalt drier. I think siccative is the more technical name for driers.

  8. Slow Stumper Solver says:

    This was the most straight-forwardly clued Stumper in awhile. The only bits of misdirection of any kind came from:
    [Horticultural hobby] for BONSAI. Could this also be “Arboreal art form?”
    [Faculty] for SENSE
    [Interpreted numbers] for SANG
    As I read them, the rest of the clues were descriptive of their entries in the most common sense. So it wasn’t exactly a brain-teaser. But check out the smoothness of the twelve different 10-letter entries! Wow, that’s impressive to fit them all in without any curious fill besides “BBB”. Other than the -II that Derek mentioned, the 10’s are extremely pedestrian. My favorite is [Ersatz trumpet] for CONCHSHELL. I had the H from RICOH in place and filled -HORN as the ending to this clue in my first pass. That mistake caused a slow-down later on. The clue for THATSEXTRA also made me laugh.
    The rest of the fill was plain, other than the multi-clued suites:
    [Banquet supplies] for MEATS/URNS/COLAS
    [Mimi, in Rent] for ALTO/TENANT
    and the similar clues for HOPI/INCAS
    It all flew by for me in 37 min, which is right near my fastest stumpers. Had I not made the -HORN error, I’d have been nearer 30. Overall, I dig the ease of all those 10’s, but wish the cluing were less direct.
    Derek’s wonder about the appropriateness of [Not overly skilled] is, to me, more of a problem in its correctness for the answer. Is a doorman considered Blue-collar? I think not, yet his/her job description is decidedly “unskilled”, apart from security concerns. Also, the negative connotation which used to adhere to ‘blue-‘ can clearly no longer be the case, what with the existence of so many office jobs which can only be described as drudgery in the worst sense, while so many patently ‘blue-‘ landscapers and organic farmers and such get away with getting dirty every day in often Edenic locales. If a blue-collar workers union had a problem with the insinuation of a crossword clue, I’m sure they’d let their voice be heard. Sure, there are millions of other ways to clue that entry, but I have no problem with it in the sense that Derek questioned, and my own work is decidedly blue-, if that matters.

  9. Phil says:

    Interesting that Mr. Silk’s puzzles contain both quadruple play (NYT) and triple play (LAT).

    Apparently the White Sox turned a quadruple play in 2010, with the fourth out carrying over to the next inning. It also happened in 1953, in a game involving the New York Giants.


    • arthur118 says:

      Better check the statement next to the cited article that reads:

      “Bottom of the Fourth

      A satirical baseball blog specializing in fake news, indefensible opinions, interviews that never actually happened, and general skulduggery. Oh, and gingerbread.”

    • john farmer says:


      Bottom of the Fourth : ESPN :: The Onion : The NY Times

      • Norm says:

        Good thing I didn’t start ranting about how those umpires should have been fired. I am known at work for my susceptibility to April 1 jokes. I would take the day off, but it makes staff laugh.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    See? This is why I’m not keen on constructors like Barry Silk and Peter Gordon larding their puzzles with baseball content. It leads to endless angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin discussions about baseball in the comments!

  11. dr. fancypants says:

    That OYES/DELOS crossing is awful. OYEZ is reasonable fill (they still say it at the Supreme Court!). OYES is dreadful.

  12. Da Bear says:

    If a runner (who has not been put out) crosses the plate, and a different runner is put out for the third out of the inning on the same play, you use the chronological order of events to determine whether the run counts or not (except that all force-outs, and fly-outs against the batter, are treated as happening before anything else). Failing to tag up does not, on its own, invalidate your run–they have to specifically appeal to get you out, by throwing to the base.

    So: Bases loaded, no outs. Batter hits a deep fly ball into the gap, where it looks sure to drop in for a hit. The runners take off, expecting that all three of them will be able to score on the play, but the outfielder makes a spectacular diving catch to get the batter out. If the runners didn’t anticipate that possibility and don’t return to their bases, the fielder can get up and throw in to 1st base to retire the batter who started there, and then relay along to 2nd base. This would be three outs, but if they settled for that and went back to the dugout, then the runner from 3rd, who had ample time to cross the plate, would still be credited with scoring his run. Only by throwing to 3rd and completing the quadruple play, do they get that runner out and cancel the run.

  13. CoffeeLover says:

    There are many jobs labelled blue collar that require significantly more skill than many retail positions (what collar is that – not pink anymore) and former clerical positions (almost all the low skill white collar jobs have vanished with the advent of computers, so that everyone does their own clerical tasks.) Anyway, after 30 years in automotive manufacturing I can think of many more highly skilled blue collar positions in addition to auto repairperson: welder, electrician, pipefitter (not just water lines), auto paint repair, cabinet carpenter, die maker, CNC operator, many types of inspector, and all of the repair people we have made obsolete by our propensity to just throw broken things away.

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