NYT 10:51 (Amy)
LAT 7:52 (Derek)
CS 8:43 (Ade)
Newsday 22:42 (Derek)
WSJ untimed (pannonica)
Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Oh, man! This puzzle was vexing me. Five and a half minutes in, I had maybe 25 letters filled in, including *TILES for 1d. [Valuable things to have in Scrabble]. Nothing was fitting with those crossings, though. Eventually I took a break and Googled the Kármán line, which I did not know—25a. [With 39-Across, region beyond the Kármán line … or a literal hint to what this puzzle has]. Turns out that’s the name for the imaginary line separating our earthy zone from OUTER / SPACE. Between that and thinking 36a. [Singer with the 1986 #1 hit “Rock Me Amadeus”] had to be the 5-letter FALCO, the penny dropped—blank SPACEs around the OUTER perimeter of the grid. Things agreed to be filled in much more readily after that. And really, if you delete the clues for the eight perimeter answers, what you have here is a themed 13×13 crossword. (No refunds.)
Your theme answers, aside from the eight things that could all be answered with BLANKS in a conventional crossword, are things that are related to OUTER SPACE more than to BLANKS:
- 19a. [Sun blocks?], LUNAR ECLIPSES. Plural only to make it fit the grid.
- 49a. [Recurrent “Twilight Zone” plot device], ALIEN INVASION.
- 4d. [Hercules or Perseus], CONSTELLATION.
- 11d. [Setting for many sci-fi stories], U.S.S. ENTERPRISE.
Top fill: DOO-WOP, AFC EAST (wanted SOUTH when I thought this was an 8-letter answer). Aside from the four 13s and the two 5s that are thematic, there’s not much attention given to making the fill lively. Nobody’s going to work up much excitement over words like ASSIZES and MONAD.
Four more things:
- 50d. [Bread in some ethnic cuisine], NAN. That term, “ethnic cuisine,” is loaded. Here’s an article that takes on the topic. Why don’t we call Italian and French cooking “ethnic food”? Because the people cooking it are less likely to be brown. I’d prefer a clue like [Bread served with channa masala (or some other Indian food)] or [Paratha alternative]. You shouldn’t know NAN or NAAN only because it has crossword-friendly letters—it’s tasty! And so is paratha.
- 38a. [’60s org.], CSA. Um, does this refer to the 1860s and the Confederacy? Also, how many of you know CSA as an abbreviation for community-supported agriculture?
- 9d. [Man’s name that’s another man’s name in reverse], ARI. When I thought this was a 4-letter answer, I pondered Kram, Trab, and the like.
- 42d. [Greeting that means “love” or “peace”], ALOHA. Say what? It’s a greeting and a farewell, I know. It took clicking on five dictionaries at onelook.com to find one that mentioned the Hawaiian etymology of “love.” I checked a few more, still no sign of “peace” anywhere. Curious to know where the clue came from, other than an attempt to use “peace” to trick solvers into writing SHALOM or SALAAM.
I’ll give the “blanks” trick 4 stars, the aha moment 5 stars, and the overall fill and solving experience 3.25 stars.
David Steinberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is the first ambitious stack of 15s I have encountered in the LAT. Oh, wait: these are stacked 16s! The 16-letter entries are all totally legit:
- 1A [Really frighten] SCARE THE PANTS OFF
- 17A [2010 Eminem/Rihanna #1 hit with the lyric “Just gonna stand there and hear me cry”] LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE
- 18A [“Despicable Me 2” company] UNIVERSAL STUDIOS – I will admit – I was thinking of an actual company IN the movie. Oops!
- 61A [Elgar work with an as yet unsolved musical theme] ENIGMA VARIATIONS – I did not know this. I will have to find this on Spotify!
- 65A [Threat in Season 3 of “24”] BIOLOGICAL WEAPON – I have seen this season. It’s not bad. I think these area all available on Netflix now.
- 66A [Ways to get high] EXTENSION LADDERS – Nicely done! (Doesn’t this merit a question mark?)
But the real barometer of the quality of ambitious stacks is the crossing fill. As is usually the case, the LAT fill is pretty good. The long crossers AVID READER and FROZEN ROPE are both really good. HEST, AYS, TARAWA and ABACO are all a little off the beaten path, but not so much that it is unsolvable. The puzzle was a little more challenging than other Saturday entries in the LAT, but that’s ok: I think most solvers welcome the challenge on the weekend. Overall, a great puzzle by David. 4.4 stars! A few mentions:
- 30A [Pickup spots?] SCRUFFS – As in a mother dog/cat carrying her young. Great clue.
- 44A [Fortune’s 2012 Businessperson of the Year] BEZOS – As in Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO. Yes, I am an Amazon disciple…
- 2D [Like certain parlor containers] CONIC – I don’t get this clue at all. Someone please explain1
- 11D [News initials since 1851] NYT – Is is that old??
- 13D [Typically 81-digit diversion] SUDOKU – Nicely clued. Made me think for a minute!
- 41D [Prolonged lament] JEREMIAD – I liked this as well. A unique word not often seen.
- 53D [Actress Neuwirth] BEBE – Haven’t seen her name in a puzzle in a while!
Again, kudos to David for another stellar puzzle. His never seem to disappoint. He’s so young, it’s almost a crime he’s so talented at his age!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
This was not a stumper; it was a thumper! This one beat me up pretty good. This week’s excuse? I didn’t sleep well! As the saying goes, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!
I am really anxious to have a chat with Brad Wilber at the next crossword tournament I attend. His stumper puzzles are becoming some of my favorites. They are clean, the clues are very tricky, and I am in joyful agony every Saturday morning! There is virtually no entry in this puzzle that you wouldn’t have run across at some point in your schooling, even including UR-HAMLET and OGLALA! This is a good case of having to do some mental gymnastics to complete the puzzle, and I fell like I have had a mental workout this morning!
Some puzzle highlights:
- 37A [Be conspicuous] TURN HEADS – This one stumped me for a long time. Kept thinking it was STAND OUT, but of course that didn’t fit. Got some coffee to help deal with this clue!
- 54A [Destiny shapers, to some] YIN AND YANG – This odd letter pattern added to the difficulty. This made for a nice “a-ha!” moment when it is finally figured out.
- 2D [It bought CrashPadder in 2012] AIRBNB – This is solvable with some more of those mental gymnastics. My brain is sore…
- 9D [What about 23% of the world believes in] ISLAM – I would have thought this was higher!
- 37D [“Eugene Onegin” soprano] TATYANA – If you know this is an opera by the Russian Pushkin, then you know you are looking for a Russian name. See how those mental gymnastics work?
- 38D [Still out] UNRISEN – This didn’t make sense to me until after the puzzle was completely solved. I didn’t understand the way “out” was used until the very end. Nicely clued.
- 45D [Town around 60 miles from Bordeaux] COGNAC – I had some cognac once; slept VERY well….
- 49D [“Nome de sei papi”] PAOLO – I believe this Italian translates to “Name of six popes.” Evidently there were six Pope Pauls!
- 50D [Fortune’s “Most Innovative Company,” 1995-2000] ENRON – Innovative as in finding new and innovative ways to cheat!
- 52D [Its clock has read 10:30 since 2013] C-NOTE – Another great clue. Who knew they changed the time of the clock in the Independence Hall engraving when they updated the bills? Awesome!
- 56D [Its 1994 round covered intellectual property for the first time] GATT – General Agreement of Terms and Tariffs, if you didn’t know. And I didn’t!
Awesome clues, solid fill, I’m thinking 4.4 stars. A great themeless puzzle. A tour de force, really. Bravo, Brad!
Jeff Chen & Seth Geltman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Off the Cutting Edge” — pannonica’s write-up
Being a minor compendium of products and technologies that have flopped, been superseded, or otherwise failed. No wordplay—though some are predictably ironic in retrospect—and clued using what I assume to be their slogans.
- 22a. [“[It’s] here today. [It’ll] be everywhere tomorrow”] APPLE NEWTON.
- 24a. [“The biggest innovation in television since television”] LASERDISC.
- 41a. [“A more important advance than stereo was over mono”] QUADRAPHONIC SOUND.
- 65a. [“Will continue to set phenomenal sales gains”] EIGHT-TRACK TAPES. That one looks more like industry touting rather than an advertising slogan.
- 88a. [“Users have spoken regarding their favorite browser, and we’ve won the war”] NETSCAPE NAVIGATOR.
- 110a. [“Styled to last”] FORD EDSEL.
- 112a. [“Destined to be a superstar in your home entertainment scene”] SONY BETAMAX.
Nice batch, solid theme.
Many tasty long downs, though there’s a distinctly belligerent vibe to some: PLATE ARMOR, BROAD AXES, MATCH LOCK [Musket device], I SMELL A RAT, ALPHA MALES, CONTAINED, ANT COLONY, DAILY GRIND, BASS DRUM, OPALESCE, SYNAPTIC, STAGE SET [It’s struck at the end of a run]. Not sure how the clue for PLATE ARMOR works: [Case for going to war?]. Oh wait, considering body armor to be a ‘human case’? Nope, not feeling it.
- 10a [Manassas victors] REBS. Called the Battle of Bull Run by the Union.
- 121a [“A View From the Bridge” protagonist] EDDIE. Centenary of Arthur Miller this year. Acclaimed London revival coming soon to Broadway. If that’s your bag.
- 13d [NYC-to-St. Croix heading] SSE. What’s the story behind that clue, those termini? Or is it just a familiar route for a vacationing Wall Street Journal reader?
- 48a [Cybersquatter’s collection] URLS. Not so much; this clues DOMAINS.
- Language lessons of the day: 54d [Gato, Katze, chat and cat, e.g.] COGNATES, 43d [Spartan serf] HELOT, 89d [Literally, “little z,” in old Spanish] CEDILLA.
- Most marginal fill: 92d GOT A TAN, 4d FEEL FOR, and sure, the frequently seen partial A NO.
- Favorite clues: [Adjective before Jon or Wayne] LIL, 10d [Experiences all over] RELIVES, 59d [Events that take seconds] DUELS (for which my SYNAPTIC wires crossed, leading me to fill in DUALS).
Surely a crossword for the ages!
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “End in a Tie”—Ade’s write-up
Good day once again, crossword lovers! I hope you’re doing well, and enjoying your weekend so far. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, has a clever theme, in which each of the four theme answers end with a group of letters that, when standing alone, happen to make up a type of string. Those letters/words are actually are just a part of another word in the entry.
- GOLD RECORD (17A: [Singer’s dream for a new release]) – Why aim for just a gold record? Go platinum!
- MARK MCGWIRE (30A: [Slugger with the most rookie-season home runs, 49, in 1987]) – McGwire is the current hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which means he, along with the rest of the Dodgers, are on vacation at the moment after their Game 5 loss in the NLDS to the New York Mets earlier this week.
- MISANTHROPE (46A: [A party animal he’s not])
- DESPICABLE (62A: [Wretched])
How come I could not come up with TOFU immediately after having the TO– in place (1A: [Soy milk product]? Something told me that it was going to be plural, specifically, something that would end in an “S.” But, alas, no, “toes” nor “tots” (as in tater tots) are made from soy milk. No, no..wait…I actually had TE– initially, before I had TO–, because I thought ENO instead of ONO was one of its crossings (2D: [Artist who once held Bed-Ins]). This was the first time I’ve been tripped up with the “popular-in-crossword” musicians (Brian Eno & Yoko Ono). Do you spell SOFTIE as it is in this grid, or as “softy” (48D: [Sentimental type])? I’m pretty sure I would go with the latter, though I can’t tell you the last time, outside of doing a crossword, that I’ve typed or written that word. It’s baseball playoff time, and we have a cluster of answers in the Northeast that pertain to baseball. One, for sure, is ON BASE, and that also happens to intersect with the former Oakland A’s bash brother, Mark McGwire (13D: [Safe after a blooper]). There’s another in that area that pertains to baseball, but not in the way that you would think…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SALAMI (11D: [Sausage variety]) – This reminds me of the great home run call from the late, great Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, who coined this famous line anytime a Mariner player would hit a grand slam home run: “Get out the rye bread and mustard, grandma…it is grand SALAMI time!” Want to hear it?
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
What a week for crossword lovers!
Say what you want about the individual NYT puzzles, but you have to agree they were different and envelope-pushing. Some would say they should be like this all the time, but we also saw how some absolutely hated them. At least we have a publication that is willing to run such puzzles every once in a while.
The WSJ continues to build its brand with solid themes and super-clean grids. Those puzzles almost always satisfy.
AVCX wasn’t ground-breaking theme-wise this week (Byron Walden’s Yogi Berra quote puzzle), but it was clean and good for a laugh. Fireball (Jacob Stulberg’s ukulele puzzle) was tough and didn’t get a lot of love (I failed to finish without help), but once I got to the finished grid, I could really appreciate its craftsmanship. Well done! Joanne Sullivan’s CHE was solid with a clever theme and nice fill.
There are now more puzzles in a week than any one person can reasonably do, what with Newsday, CS, and LAT dailies plus all the indies: BEQ, Jonesin’, MGWCC, Xword Nation, PMMM, and KAC’s debut. There’s not enough time!
And then of course we had the BuzzFeed debut which straddled the line between frustrating for some and refreshing for others. I think the puzzles fell squarely on the side of refreshing and lively. Hopefully they’ll bring a slew of new solvers (and constructors?) into the community.
So three cheers for all the fresh and lovely puzzles this week and their constructors and editors!
I liked today’s NYT a lot – probably my favorite of the week. Unlike some of the others, it was different in a way that seemed designed to challenge and amuse the solver (i.e., me – yes, I am self-centered) rather than to impress the solver with a feat of construction.
I got the trick first in the NE because LAPUTA and SETI seemed like locks, and IRISES looked pretty good.
For those having access issues with the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle on their new web site, it looks like it’s entirely related to compatibility with Internet Explorer (thanks, Dave!). I tried it using IE myself and got the same bad result Zulema did, as well as others who checked in here and/or wrote to the Chronicle. Everybody to whom I’ve suggested trying a different browser has had success. So in the short term, we’ll try to post an appropriate caveat on the web site.
Meanwhile, diversity issue next week, so no puzzle on the 23rd. We’ll be back on the 30th and as far as I know have a puzzle every week until the third week of December.
I say again — I’m running Fire Fox and I had the download issues with CHE. After clicking on the CHE link again, this morning, it remains an issue. I don’t think blaming the browsers is a solution. The solution is making the CHE download compatible to ALL browsers. You have two weeks to work on that…
John, I’m sorry this is happening, but I need to reiterate that I am NOT the real tech squad here…I’m just doing what I can to field e-mails from solvers, surmise possible explanations, and talk to CHE. If you want me to send you puzzles directly as a stopgap, e-mail email@example.com. If you want details about your particular access problems to be seen by the producers of web content there, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, assuming we’re going to be able to offer a PDF version of the puzzle from now on, use that.
Try downloading the puzzle and opening it from your desktop, rather than merely opening it.
Sorry, Brad, if you thought I was dumping on you. That was not my intention. I just wanted to make it clear that Fire Fox is not the fix-all and you’re the only one representing CHE.
Thanks for offering to email the puzzle but I’ll use the work-around until the issue is resolved.
Will it do any good to notify the Chronicle, do you think? I’ve all but lost faith in customer services by large businesses.
No worries, John….I am frustrated but I didn’t take your post as belligerent. I have one more fix you might try that involves adding a .puz extension when you right-click and do “Save target as…” E-mail me if you want.
If you e-mail my partners at the Chronicle I know you won’t be ignored. Hopefully we can find solutions for everyone.
Should note that the NYT Crossword App wants you to fill the perimeter with B’s because the NYT Crossword App hates you.
Took a while to figure out — and then I thought that the outside entries were going to be phrases such as [BLANK]TILES etc. Finally I figured out to leave all the edge squares blank, but AcrossLite wouldn’t tell me I had finished the puzzle. So I clicked on the solution and discovered I was supposed to insert the word ‘blank’ into (hastily counts) 48 squares — oh dear, not going to do that.
Same here, but it took just the B instead of the rebus (as is typically true for rebus, it will take the first letter only).
…and that was easily and quickly accomplished by simply holding down the B key.
Ended up solving the NYT from the inside out. First answers in were ROSIE, EERIE, OREOS, ESC, SOL, and USE. Could see OUTER SPACE from there (so to speak). That, along with being sure of FALCO got me the general idea of what was going on, but I spent a lot of time trying to make various “blank” phrases fit in the spaces around the perimeter.
Finished with an error. Showing my age, I filled in AFL EAST at 33-D. Didn’t know what 60’s organization was LSA – figured it was probably some “Student Association.”
Nice finish to the NYT week. Pretty easy once you get the blanks. Puzzazz did fine with nothing in those squares. I’m liking that app so far (only a week). Someone should do a review of the crossword apps out there – how good they are with unconventional squares, what puzzles are available, etc.
I posted a glowing review of Puzzazz yesterday. It has become, by far, the best app I ever used for handling all the new tricks constructors are coming up with. I cannot stress strongly enough how good this app has become. Good luck!
Please tell me you’re not going to tout Puzzazz here every day, loq.
:-) No. Just wanted to let him know there was one. Was writing you about ALOHA but lost it. Take a look at the Wikipedia entry. It conforms with my knowledge of the word which is based on my family settling on Kauai in 1904. They spoke fluent Hawaiian. Anyway, I thought you might be interested.
We looked over all the clues until we found a ‘lock,’ which was FALCO, and right away we knew there was a trick. AFC EAST eventually worked, and the rest of the puzzle was made clear when we looked up Kármán Line.
We agree with your assessment of the Stars for this puzzle, Amy.
Exact same for me. Without the FALCO gimme confirming AFC EAST, I’m not sure I would have ever finished, even though the middle of the puzzle, including OUTER SPACE, opened up nicely. Felt very unusual to flail around the grid coming up with potential answers that were consistently one letter to few. But that consistency did give me the theme….
“Lock,” “the FALCO gimme.” I am among my people!
Also, although everyone remembers FALCO as perhaps the ultimate one-hit wonder, don’t forget about “Der Kommisar”! Another 80s kitsch-pop classic.
… which turned out to be a one-hit for the cover version, by After the Fire.
I always considered the Polish food I grew up with to be an ethnic cuisine.
Of course it’s ethic, since ethnic mainly refers to non-Western cultures, which happens to include a lot of white folks. The author of the article Amy linked has her own biases, apparently, saying ethnic cuisine refers to “food that is not traditionally American”. Yeah, but only half right.
There are other nuanced meanings for the word, which is used it to describe any “other” culture, nationality or society, such as ethnic background or ethnic cleansing. My ethnicity includes Italian, on my father’s side. I’m guessing Bencoe’s is Polish. Should Italians and Poles feel offended for that?
In my social milieu, more often than not, ethnic food is considered a better offering than the menus of American cuisine; although, I gotta say, it’s hard to beat the porterhouse at Circus Circus.
Yes, my mother was 100 percent Polish; my grandparents were recent immigrants who grew up with their own language, culture, and food.
I never really thought of “ethnic” as “other”. To me it just referred to the traditions held by a particular ethnic group, whether Italian, Russian, Indian, etc.
Has anyone mentioned that the fill for the clues to the OUTER SPACE squares is BLANKS, in every instance? I thought that was a nice touch. That’s also what tipped me to the gimmick.
Um, yes: “Your theme answers, aside from the eight things that could all be answered with BLANKS in a conventional crossword”
Missed that because I was focusing on the gist of the entire sentence, which was the quibble about BLANKS viz a viz OUTER SPACE. I also didn’t catch the significance of the number eight, since I had not actually counted the number of fills on the perimeter.
I still consider it a pretty cool aspect of the puzzle.
Greetings from Chicago. I’m feeling smart, not only because I’m in the company of > 30,000 neuroscientists at our annual meeting , but also in Amy’s city. Which is probably why I solved this puzzle relatively easily.
I agree that this week has been cool. I know that some disliked the tricks, but I liked seeing how people interpreted the challenge and broke various rules of puzzle construction in creative ways. Lots of talent in puzzledom!
I got the NYT gimmick fairly quickly, but wanted LIEF for FAIN. Is one more archaic than the other? The LAT was terrific: I got SCARE THE PANTS OFF and ENIGMA VARIATIONS right away. The only head-scratcher was 25D L-SEVEN, but I see it now. On the other hand, the Stumper today was so tough I nearly gave up… What an interesting week, though!
Please explain L-SEVEN, and what kind of parlor is the one with CONIC containers, if you can. Very interesting LAT puzzle and for me made up for the NYT today. I seem to be in the minority who refused to finish this puzzle after I figured out the blanks and some other gimmes. I well remember Manny Nosowsky’s T puzzle, but this one surpassed it in frustration by many degrees.
Please don’t mess with Themeless if it can be helped. I am just too old.
I didn’t do the puzzle with L-SEVEN, but when I was in junior high, we’d make an L with one hand and a 7 with the other, and put them together to form a square (thereby signaling that we were calling someone a square). Here’s what it looks like: https://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/xv-wichitas-finest-for-my-dawgs.jpg
Yes! “L7” is hipster slang from way back when for “square” because of how it looks. In “Wooly Bully,” Sam the Sham sings the line, “Let’s not be L Sevens, come and learn to dance.”
For Derek and Zulema, the CONIC parlor containers are, I believe, a reference to ice cream cones, in an ice cream parlor.
**Edit – sorry, didn’t read below – I’m late to everything!**
If any of the one-stars are because of LOVETHEWAYYOULIE and you are refusing to accept that rap music is part of popular culture, you are exceedingly petty. Waiting to hear actual reasons, but I have seen this before.
Aha! I started to write that I was just as confused as Derek by CONIC as the answer to “like certain parlor containers” when the light dawned! Ice cream parlors and ice cream cones! Boy, that’s been bugging me all day — but now I love it!
Margaret, thank you. I should have gone through more parlors than I did.
LAT: Fun puzzle, loved ELOHIM/THRUSH, FARGONE/IFEVER, TARAWA/JEREMIAD. Also, [Means] is fantastic for AGENT.
Stumper: Uh, 2.75 hours later, I’m finished, and I made no mistakes having just checked my pen/paper puzzle with Derek’s grid above. Good lord, the SE was murder. Did everything else in close to my customary hour. Have been slogging at the SE on and off for the last 5 hours in short spurts. Loved almost all of it (WHAMMY ftw!). Still think ‘AIRBNB’, ‘UNRISEN’, and ‘ESCARP’ are a bit un-worthy. Thanks to Derek I see what GATT is (glad I don’t know that). Will be glad to hear anyone tell me about EDAMES and the connection to Count of Monte Cristo ……. my post-solve googles seem to prove this to be about as tangential a reference as can plausibly be used in a high-level puzzle and still be thought of as relevant (let alone inferable) in 2015. I’ll be ready for next week’s humdinger along the lines of [(ridiculously horrible) Tutti Frutti crooner who’s named for Achilles companion in Troilus and Cressida]. Crikey.
Monday, this week, to me, was really the only innovative one. Just a bit too dull overall.
I get only the weekend Times, by subscription and delivery, so I see the weekday papers online without the crossword. This once, I envied the rest of you. This was a great gimmick.
I stared for a while with no entry at all. Bread could be NAAN or PITA, so I couldn’t enter either (of course, both wrong). At least one entry could be BLANKS, but then there were others that could be, too, and most of the time it didn’t fit at that. A few other guesses didn’t fit. But then part of my brain started taking all of the BLANKS seriously, and things did fit. Then I lost time on alternative interpretations of the insurmountable long entries. C for Hercules and Perseus had me wanting CLASSICAL, but here we are.
Not a perfect fill for me. I’ve no idea who Billy Blanks is and what he has to do with the clue. Still, a winner easily and one of my favorites in ages.