Saturday, October 10, 2015

NYT 5:56 (Amy) 
LAT 10:15 (Derek) 
CS 7:46 (Ade) 
Newsday 32:58 (Derek) 
WSJ untimed (pannonica) 

Do you enjoy themeless crosswords by the younger generation of constructors? Kameron Austin Collins is launching a biweekly subscription deal for themelesses (low-word-count ones). For free! Receive his puzzles via email on the 1st and 15th of the month, beginning next week. Click here to sign up. I’m really looking forward to these puzzles!

Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 10 15, no 1010

NY Times crossword solution, 10 10 15, no 1010

Now, yesterday’s NYT puzzle taught us that this venue is cool with objectification, so I’m surprised to see that 28a WEENIES isn’t clued anatomically. [Twerps]? Aw, come on.

Top fill includes DINGBAT, MAH-JONGG, OKEY-DOKEY (whew! this puzzle has sort of a 1950s vibe, no?), RING-DINGS, and NEW WAVE. I sure liked ’80s New Wave music. Still do, in fact. I like the PALOMAR Observatory, too.

36d: OPINIONS, in the plural, reminds me of that Dirty Harry quote.

1d: HERE I AM puts me in mind of Germany’s biggest-in-America metal band, the Scorpions, and “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” Top 40 hit!

Least liked fill: SAW TO IT, maybe; END IN; ARA, clued unfamiliarly as 20a. [Eliot’s “___ Vos Prec”]; Mount ASO; Latin SED; abbrev PKWY; plural PHEWS; boring-as-all-get-out ALIENEE; awkward NOT LIVE; EEE; ILA; NT. WT. (once again, I say: Find me a product label that uses this abbreviation rather than “net wt.”); JO’S; and TER (57d. [One more than bis, in prescriptions] that may be from another century, because doctors and pharmacists sure as hell aren’t using TER anymore, and I don’t know why, why, why this answer keeps appearing in crosswords—kill it dead now). If I list over a dozen entries I didn’t care for, it’s a safe bet that I didn’t enjoy the crossword. You can get away with maybe four such answers, at most, and not get a largely negative review from me.

Four more things:

  • 56a. [Retro hairstyles], MULLETS. The mullet has sort of come back into style, and The Times Is On It.
  • 46d. [Russell of comedy], NIPSEY. I liked him when I was a kid.
  • 39d. [“Twilight” vampire ___ Hale], ROSALIE. I haven’t seen more than 5 minutes of the movie series and I’ve read none of the books, so drew a blank here. Does Pete ROSE’s presence in the puzzle constitute an unwanted dupe?
  • 23a. [___ Takahata, Oscar-nominated director of 2013’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”], ISAO. Have not heard of him, but am OK with learning about him.

2.8 stars from me. The juicy stuff was outnumbered by the “please, no” stuff.

Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 7.47.18 AMThis one seemed tougher than the usual LAT Saturday offering. Is it just me? Was I tired? At any rate, this is a nice puzzle. Not as familiar with Bruce Venzke’s constructions, but this if fairly nice. I will nitpick a couple of entries, but all-in-all it fits the LAT mold of a nice challenger with good fill, but not to agonizing!

Some notes:

  • 6A [Lasting consideration] SHELF LIFE – I thought this was excellent.
  • 19A [Key ingredient in a Bloody Caesar] CLAMATO – This word is also in the Stumper! As I said in that writeup, this does not sound appetizing, but maybe I will try some!
  • 25A [Do a farm vet’s job] DEHORN – OK, first nitpick. I’m thinking nobody says this, but then again, I don’t work on a farm! Anybody work on a cattle ranch out there??
  • 33A [Discontinues] SURCEASES – Time to learn a new word. It is actually in the dictionary; I looked!
  • 38A [House adjustment] REAPPORTIONMENT – As in House of Reps! Nice!
  • 44A [Rapper ___ Moe Dee] KOOL – My 80s glut of video watching paid off quickly here!
  • 53A [Native whose land has an Atlantic and Caribbean coastline] HAITIAN – Nice clue. Makes you think…
  • 55A [Nebraska tribe] WINNEBAGO – I mainly know this name from the RV company, and notably because it is one of the few that aren’t made in Northern Indiana!
  • 6D [Edward Jones Dome athlete] ST LOUIS RAM – This answer may not be accurate for long; they are one of the teams threatening to move to Los Angeles! Somebody is moving there for sure, and soon, between the Rams, Raiders and Chargers.
  • 36D [Pleasant] ENJOYABLE – I don’t know why I am highlighting this clue/entry, other than it is a “pleasant” word and made me smile!

As mentioned, Not too familiar with this guys puzzles, but I like what I see. 3.9 stars today.

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

imageCouldn’t sleep! I was solving this puzzle around 2 this morning, so maybe that explains my slow time. Or maybe it’s just because Frank had a toughie this Saturday. Or maybe it’s because my Newsday solving app, Crosswords (on my iPad), got a wonky update and the solving grid is now really small! Whatever the reason, I got it done, but it was brutal. The app is so bad I actually went to the App Store to see if there was an update, and the complaints were so numerous I know I wasn’t alone. They also stated that there is an update in the works to fix the issue.

As for the puzzle, it was actually very good. Some of my favorites:

  • 19A [Its launch success rate is about 40%] KICKSTARTER – I had no idea what this was referring to until quite late. Always the upper left corner that is last!
  • 23A [Escalade cousin] GMC YUKON – I actually filled this in early with no crossings. I see a lot of cars in my line of work!
  • 29A [Coming off the market] SAYING “I DO” – I had SAYING??? for the longest. Great clue.
  • 35A [Ingredient in some beer cocktails] CLAMATO – I actually just saw that they sell a Bud Light in this flavor. Does not sound appealing!
  • 53A [Block party?] TAX PREPARER – Best clue in the puzzle. Block as in H & R Block!
  • 62A [Toy with a 2,000-year history] PEKE – Yes, I had KITE in there! Ouch. Another great clue.
  • 1D [Home of Universal Studios Japan] OSAKA – I wrote this in immediately. Then prayed it was right…
  • 4D [Like workarounds] HACKY – I tried HASTY and HANDY before I figured out the correct version of HA??Y
  • 8D [Calcium nucleus] SOFT C – Also in the running for the best clue in this puzzle. Had me fooled until the bitter end!
  • 12D [Unwelcome knocker] CAR ENGINE – Yes, I had a mental picture of a vacuum salesman…
  • 33D [Closed-circuit sports setting] OVAL TRACK – This is the only one that seemed a reach. It’s accurate, but is this what a race track is ever called? Still solvable, though, so it’s only a minor nitpick with me.
  • 50D [Crayola’s sunglow and laser lemon] NEONS – I though TINTS might be the answer here at first. Another great clue.

So since I sound like a broken record saying “great clue,” I rate this puzzle 4.5 stars. Another magnificent themeless by Longo. Anxiously awaiting his next Stumper!

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Air Play”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.10.15: "Air Supply"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.10.15: “Air Supply”

Good morning everyone! This is the first day in a long while in which I’ve had some time to really talk about a crossword puzzle the way I want to on here, and my deepest apologies that I’ve been MIA for the longest time. OK, enough mea culpas. Time to talk crosswords!

Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, incorporates puns and homophones, as each of the four theme answers start with words that are homophones of each other. Also, each of the entries are also altered in the fact that the word “air” usually becomes before the second word, but the pun-like questions for clues changes all of that.

  • HAIR SUPPLY (17A: [Wig shop inventory?]) – From “Air Supply.” “I’m all out of hair…I’m so lost without you…”
  • HARE MATTRESS (27A: [What Bugs sleeps on?]) – From “air mattress.”
  • HEIR PRESSURE (46A: [Lobbying to be included in the will?]) – “From “air pressure.”
  • HERR JORDAN (60A: [Germany’s greatest basketball player?]) – From “Air Jordan.”

Just wasn’t feeling REWARM, though that may be because I was thinking something along the lines of a weapon instead of food (31A: [Nuke, maybe]). That, and I’m sure I have never used the word “rewarm” before and always have said “reheat.” I’m pretty sure I was about five years old when the DATSUN name was replaced by Nissan in the 1980s, and one of my father’s friends drove a Datsun every time he visited our place (44A: [Nissan, once]). Man, the flashbacks to elementary school math class just flooded into my head when seeing ISOSCELES (10D: [Triangle type]). Honestly, I haven’t seen/heard the word “isosceles” in about two decades. Surprisingly enough, I’ve only had CALAMARI a couple of times in my life, and, when it’s served while I’m having dinner with friends, I just make sure to let all my friends eat it up (7D: [Trattoria seafood]). So if you like calamari and have dinner with me, help yourself to all the calamari you want.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HEEP (59A: [Dickens’s Uriah?])  – Former Major League Baseball outfielder Danny Heep played for five teams during his 13-year career, including on the New York Mets’ 1986 championship team. Mostly a fourth outfielder, Heep only played in over 100 games twice in his career. In 1986, Heep hit five home runs with 33 RBI. Keep now is the head coach of the University of the Incarnate Word college baseball team in San Antonio.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


Natalia Shore’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “B & B’s” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/10/15 • "B & B's" • Sat • Shore, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 10/10/15 • “B & B’s” • Sat • Shore, Shenk • solution

Briskly, then. Two-word phrases that have the letter B prefixed  to each element to create wackified versions.

  • 23a. [City divisions inhabited by tusked animals?] BOAR BLOCKS (oar locks).
  • 25a. [Medical support for a wide neck?] BROAD BRACE (road race).
  • 35a. [National boundary guarded by cyborg technology?] BIONIC BORDER (ionic order, as in classical architectural columns).
  • 50a. [Boxing match in which one is hit hard on the noggin?] BRAINED BOUT (rained out).
  • 70a. [Sand in one’s bathing suit?] BEACH BOTHER (each other).
  • 87a. [Glittery piece of jewelry?] BRIGHT BANGLE (right angle).
  • 98a. [Electronic sound from a hand dryer?] BLOWER BLIP (lower lip).
  • 100a. [Result of dropping a dog toy?] BONE BOUNCE (one ounce).
  • 16d. [Whale that could use some seasoning?] BLAND BLUBBER (land lubber). Maintains the maritime vibe.
  • 57d. [Item for a fullback who thinks he’s playing Quidditch?] BLOCKER BROOM (locker room). Sustains the sports vibe. Also essentially repeats LOCK/BLOCK from 23-across.

Can’t say these thrilled me much. And some of the original phrases are rather insubstantial, bordering on arbitrary or at least incomplete.

As the keen observer will notice, my grid shows one error. I had the thing complete, but wasn’t in the mood to hunt for inaccuracies. RAVER for 109a [Wild party] had seemed good at the time, and the crossing NAV (102d) didn’t brashly advertise being incorrect. Ah, but had I double-checked, I might have noticed that it doesn’t jibe with the slightly-tricky equine clue [Old chestnut?]. RAGER and  NAG were in order.

  • 42a [Electrify] ROUSE.  Today is Thelonious Monk’s birthday, and Charlie ROUSE was  a key component of one of his longtime working bands. Some words:

    And from the aptly titled 1963 album Criss Cross:

    (Incidentally, there’s a pretty good bonus track on the CD reissue of that one.)
  • Spiffy fullname longdowns: 14d [1994 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee] ROD STEWART, 64d [His native name was Tashunka Witko] CRAZY HORSE.
  • Ovinity: 18d [Bellwether’s belle] EWE, 39a [Bellwether sound] BAA.
  • Cleverish clues: 83a [Yo-Yo strings] CELLO, 61d [Walks on water?] PIERS, 78d [Fawning type] DOE, 60a [American worker] PILOT, 86a [Playoff passes] BYES, 58a [Credit lines?] ROLES. Also liked the rhyming of 61a [Hector’s brother] PARIS followed by 62a [Sectors] AREAS.
  • 94a [“Where no wood there is, there the fire ___ out”: Proverbs] GOETH. Genius! Those ancient guys, hard to get one past them.
  • 85a [ __ sportif (shooting sports in France] TIRyeesh
  • What the heck, here’s some more tangential Monk:

    86a BYES


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28 Responses to Saturday, October 10, 2015

  1. sbmanion says:

    I thought the SW was very easy and the NW very tough. I got MAHJONGG quickly, but that caused me to think that the attention seeking person wanted to reach his moM. That M put me on the wrong wavelength for quite a while.

    Fun puzzle in any event.


  2. Norm says:

    Honoring the precept that “if you can’t say something nice about someone [or thing], don’t anything at all,” I will say nothing about the NYT.

    Liked the LAT a lot. Challenging in places; no real dreck. Definitely ENJOYABLE. And, Derek, I think ST LOUIS RAM is and probably always be an accurate answer for “Edward Jones Dome athlete” since, if they move, they’ll have a new name and will be playing in a different stadium. San Francisco Giant would still be an accurate answer for “Candlestick Park athlete,” right?

    • Margaret says:

      As would San Francisco 49ers… (sigh) Haaaate the new stadium in Santa Clara, in case that wasn’t clear…

  3. Animalheart says:

    NYT was a struggle, though I did finish. Deep for OPENSEA, antique term like ALIENEE, Japanese volcano ASO, Cut lightly?–all objectionable to me. But I did enjoy learning that GECKOES can lick their own eyes!

    P.S. Was I the only one who thought that 3D might be KADDISH?

  4. ArtLvr says:

    NYT: MULLETS were new to me, but I think I have one every morning before I comb my hair!

  5. Papa John says:

    “Now, yesterday’s NYT puzzle taught us that this venue is cool with objectification, so I’m surprised to see that 28a WEENIES isn’t clued anatomically. [Twerps]? Aw, come on.”

    While this comment did give me a giggle, I can’t let Amy get away with sneaking in the term “objectification”, in regards to WEENIES, without making a comment of my own. One of the most objectified images in Western art is Christ on the cross. Another is the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. The implied violence of a Playboy centerfold is made manifest in these graven images. Instances of masculine objectification are less prevalent than the female equivalent – by far! – but they do exist. It seems everybody’s in for the treatment.

    Oh, yeah — thumbs down on the NYT. While I didn’t get the 50s vibe that Amy did, it did seem dorky, in the same outdated way.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yeah, but most of those crucifix/saint paintings drape fabric over the weenies, don’t they? With Mary-and-toddler-Jesus paintings showing toddler penises?

      I don’t recall anyone here discussing “implied violence of a Playboy centerfold.” Also, “masculine objectification” is nearly meaningless, historically. Men had the power, women did not. Men still have the power (see also: US government). Pictures of naked men don’t have the same import as pictures of naked women.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        What Amy said, and not because of any fundmental difference in arousal mechanisms. Advertising does not routinely show parts of men’s bodies or men who have been bound and gagged and stuffed into car trunks. If do an image search on “white coat man”, you’ll get pictures of doctors. Try the same thing for “white coat woman”…most of the women are naked under the coat, and they’re not practicing medicine.

      • Papa John says:

        I was trying to respond with the same levity you displayed in your review but since you brought it up…

        How can you say, “Pictures of naked men don’t have the same import as pictures of naked women”? Are you denying the incalculable historical significance of the Christ figure on the cross? Show me an example of a naked woman with as much clout.

        On the same note, you declare, “…“masculine objectification is nearly meaningless, historically.” The ultimate objectification of slavery disputes that point but, in keeping it within the realm of pictorial objectification; think not only of Christ and other icons of the supernatural and the divine, think, too, of the myriad of portraits of kings and popes, saints and despots, all objectified and making a mark on history.

        You’re right. No one mentioned the implied violence in a centerfold, or in any other form of objectification, but it’s there and I brought it up to compare to the blatant violence in the male objectification of Jesus and Sebastian. Similar feminine examples of extreme violence can be found in images of Joan of Arc, as she’s engulfed in the flames of the execution pyre; yet, most of the objectified images of women contain the same implied violence that we see in contemporary soft porn.

        The prudish drapery over the male genitalia changes through proceeding epochs, but it further illustrates my point about weenies being ickier. I’m sure you’re aware that art history is replete with priapic imagery, although they’re hardly found in today’s history books, again, due to the ick factor. In fairness, I suppose it should be said that women’s privates were hidden just as often as men’s were.

      • Martin says:

        We’re viewing this through the lens of contemporary culture, of course. Genitalia of both versions were normally hidden in, say, 16th and 17th century art but breasts were not considered “dirty” during most of that period. Contemporary descriptions of Elizabeth I wearing “topless” fashion were not scandalous at all. Rather than depicting women in more sexualized ways than men, such depictions were not particularly arousing to their audience. Now, Michaelangelo’s David …

        • ArtLvr says:

          I visited the ruins of Pompei many years ago, and found many of the frescoes were hidden in makeshift boxes on the walls — the men in the tourist group were allowed peeks, but women were not! On the other hand, there were sculptures galore representing oversized penises because those were fertility symbols of the time… I wonder if the same is true today?

          • Papa John says:

            I saw a TV documentary on Pompeii that showed that the hidden scatological and sexual graffiti and billboards, as well brothel interiors, are all on open display.

        • Papa John says:

          Martin, I define genitalia more narrowly, limited to only organs of reproduction. Of course it’s much easier to hide a woman’s nether regions, since, anatomically, they don’t exactly stick out, do they? A mere shadow will do nicely.

          The gallery of “The bared bosom in 17th and 18th century art” is a fascinating adjunct to our discussion of objectification. Many of the oil portraits in this gallery epitomize the notion of objectification. What’s interesting is the context and the consent of the objectified women in the paintings. They’re displayed as no more than props, albeit elegant and expensive, the arm candy of the Enlightenment gentleman. Yet look at these women. None of them look to have been coerced or forced into their ostentatious world of pomp, privilege and splendor. They consent to their roles.

          Martha Nussbaum offers this rather run-on example of what she determines to be benign objectification:

          “If I am lying around with my lover on the bed, and use his stomach as a pillow, there seems to be nothing at all baneful about this, provided that I do so with his consent (or, if he is asleep, with a reasonable belief that he would not mind), and without causing him pain, provided as well, that I do so in the context of a relationship in which he is generally treated as more than a pillow”

          Being of use to someone, even as an object, can fulfill a very basic human desire. Lover as pillow – indeed!

      • Bencoe says:

        I don’t have any power. Never did. Don’t know how to take advantage of the male power structure.
        (Not sarcasm.)

  6. Jenni Levy says:

    The NYT was more of a slog than usual, with less of a reward. I mispelled MAH JONGG as MAH JONNG. Since I didn’t know the Eliot quote, that left me with STROTENY for 7D. Given the overall feel of the puzzle, I left it there, figuring it was just some obscure obsolete chess term. Finally went back and looked again and realized what I’d done. Didn’t really help.

    The Stumper was more challenging and more fun. The last to fall for me was PEKE – I kept wanting the toy to be a yoyo. Nice, chewy puzzle.

    I’m not having any trouble with the Crosswords app. Hope it doesn’t upgrade itself into oblivion.

  7. Kameron says:

    Oh (objectified) Christ.

  8. Martin says:

    The Saturday (21×21) Wall Street Journal puzzle, Across Lite version, is now up. The link on the Today’s Puzzles page works.

  9. Gareth says:

    NYT: Finished with two errors: ADA/DINGDINGS and NISSEY/PSI. [“___ Vos Prec”] is a singularly unhelpful clue unless you’ve heard of the work. Vos and Prec just tell you “It’s gonna be some random letters.” Assumed the [Inflation fig.] was literal and since I have no knowledge of any name that can fit NI?SEY, why not? SSI is something financial anyway. I don’t feel too bad for my errors today.

  10. Gareth says:

    Six letters, [Do a farm vet’s job]. It’s something of a Rorschach Test. I of course immediately wanted RECTAL, despite knowing the prohibition on scatological answers…

    • Gareth says:

      And yes DEHORNing is a standard farm job. One that a lot of bigger farms do themselves these days, but certainly still something a rural vet will be called on to do often enough…

      • Norm says:

        Just finished reading the latest Jan Karon where Dooley graduates and starts his own practice. I think their bull needs dehorning, but I expected some PETA protests about this answer.

  11. CoffeeLover says:

    As a former NASCAR fan (not much fun without my fantasy game buddies and travel companions), I can tell you that it is perfectly proper to describe a racing venue as an oval track (although track is redundant in most usage.) Oval is in contrast to a road course, a tri-oval, a circle, or a loop (long and narrow).

  12. Joan Macon says:

    Amy: I tried to enroll in the Collins puzzles but it wouldn’t take me. Either I am too old or my computer is too old (I hope it’s the latter).

    Gareth: come on, surely you remember “vainly had I sought to borrow from my books surcease of sorrow” courtesy of E.A. Poe.

  13. Rick Charles says:

    I get TEA CADDY, but not TEA BALL. I think is is called TEE BALL – 2 Es

  14. Slow Stumper Solver says:

    The Stumper was very tough, and left me with a few bad tastes in the end. There’s more obscure or reach-y stuff here than usual, imo.
    I liked:
    [For], nice oblique clue for ATACOSTOF. Cool entry. Ever see ATTHECOSTOF ?
    KICKSTARTER – cool entry.
    [Coming off the market], fantastic clue for SAYINGIDO.
    [Something to take off with], for ADIEU.
    [Unwelcome knocker] is incredibly good for CARENGINE.
    [Wasn’t fair at all], awesome clue for STORMED.
    [Hosing design], for SCAM. Wow, that’s clever wording for a basic entry. Like.
    I didn’t:
    MIST = ‘environment’ for aeroponics?
    SOFTC = I’ve hated every clue I’ve ever seen for this entry, same here.
    [Escalade cousin], it seems should be YUKON, whereas Cadillac Escalade might be a cousin to GMCYUKON.
    INTAGLIOS, TERPENE, OXLIP = a tad more vocab. quiz than I dig.
    [Sources of delivery orders, briefly] is overly cute for the yucky entry OBS.
    [Reconcile] is stretch-y for ATTUNE, it seems to me.

    The too-clever-for-me cluing [Block party?] and [Toy with 2,000 year history] combined with the downward vocab. there meant I missed 5 squares on this one.
    2 solid hours for me.

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