Saturday, October 31, 2015

NYT 5:00 (Amy) 


LAT 7:06 (Derek) 


CS 10:34 (Ade) 


Newsday untimed (Derek) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Happy Halloween!

Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 31 15, no. 1031

NY Times crossword solution, 10 31 15, no. 1031

I’m always pleased to see Peter’s byline, as he’s got great grid-filling skills and tends to spotlight zippy answers. Today’s Zippy Seven are FLAPJACKS, DIG UP DIRT, L.A. WOMAN, RAGE-QUIT, GREEN TEA, EURO ZONE, and THE KINKS (lucky me, I just proofread a British Invasion–themed crossword, so this song-free clue didn’t stymie me). I like this 68-word grid, with those stacked corners of 8s and 9s.

Ten clues:

  • 28a. [Progressive business: Abbr.], INS. Which businesses are progressive?, I asked myself. Hidden capital letter—it’s Progressive Insurance.
  • 12191036_1075100755867382_3166992443051710065_n31a. [Bid for a balanced hand], NO TRUMP. I don’t follow bridge, but I like this answer’s spirit.
  • 37a. [Planks work them], ABS. I’m pretty sure doing a plank would hurt my surgical incision. But! One of my high school classmates, she can hold a plank for 5 minutes.
  • 40a. [Gangsta rap characters], THUGS. Eeeeee … I’m afraid the word thug has been skunked. Far too many people are now using it in the same contexts people would have used the N-word a decade or two earlier.
  • 56a. [Like the explorer Henry Hudson], LOST AT SEA. Trivia!
  • 2d. [1960s-’80s Chevrolet coupe utility vehicle], EL CAMINO. I wonder if Peter originally clued this as the Black Keys album or as the totally awesome cartruck of yore.
  • 13d. [Former chain store for kids], KB TOYS. See also: Zany Brainy and any other chain that Amazon killed.
  • 32d. [Suddenly and angrily stop playing a game, in modern lingo], RAGE-QUIT. When you hate a crossword but are slated to blog it, you can’t really rage-quit.
  • 34d. [Puts up a jumper, say], SHOOTS IT. Is this a solidly in-the-language phrase? Does that IT belong here?
  • 41d. [Candy company that makes gummy bears], HARIBO. The original Goldbären!

Least favorite fill: plural USAGES, dull SONE, HAD IN/BASHED IN‘s crossing INs (… crossing INS).

4.2 stars from me.

Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 103115A nice solve on the LAT Saturday challenge. Barely over 7 minutes! I normally solve on my MacBook, but this morning I solved on my big Windows 10 machine, and maybe sitting in a comfy chair (as opposed to sprawling on a couch, as I usually do!) was the difference. Once again, the upper left corner was blank at first, so I moved to the upper right corner. It filled in nicely, then fed into the bottom right, which then wound me back to the upper left. Finished at the highlighted entry CRUS at 35-Across. [French vineyards] stumped me for a bit. That and 10D [___ me tangere] NOLI were probably the only unfamiliar terms to me in this puzzle. I thought it was NOLO!

A few comments:

  • 10A [Ustream offering] NET TV – I actually have NOT heard of this service, which is odd since I have USED all of the streaming services in Quigley’s BuzzFeed puzzle!
  • 21A [“As if I care!”] BITE ME – Nice. A little sassy, maybe even rude, but nice!
  • 27A [Balances (out)]  EVENS – This entry got me into the upper left. I never understood why there are clues with words in parentheses like this. [Balances] would have worked fine for me.
  • 46A [“Sure, let’s!”] I’M UP FOR IT – Great entry!
  • 60A [Attempt] HAVE A GO AT – How much more fun would it have been to have the entry HAVE A GOAT!
  • 5D [Ingredient in some Italian wedding soups] ORZO – I am becoming a fan of Italian wedding soup, at least the canned variety you can get at the grocery store. Have I then actually eaten orzo…?
  • 41D [The “rh” in “rhapsody,” e.g.] DIGRAPH – I thought this might have to do with the silent letter, and it probably does, but I believe a digraph is any two letters that make one sound. Let’s learn a new word!
  • 44D [Cloud function] STORAGE – Definitely a timely clue/entry. I use iCloud, Google, SugarSync, DropBox, whatever Microsoft’s is…
  • 47D [Tube] TEEVEE – OK, is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem with the redundancy with 10-Across? A minor quibble in an otherwise awesome puzzle.

Yes, an awesome puzzle. I shall rate it 4.3 stars. I think I am getting on Julian Lim’s wavelength! Until next Saturday!

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 103115I normally solve this puzzle in the Crosswords app on my iPad, which is nice because the timer is automatic, even if I have to stop and start solving again. For some weird reason, the app is NOT downloading any new puzzles! The Java app on Stan’s website is wonky, but I actually got it to work today, so I solved in an Opera browser. Good news? Puzzle seemed to go smoothly. Bad news? No timer! If I had to guess, I was in the 12-14 minute range. Decent puzzle. Thankfully not as brain-busting as some recent Stumper entries.

A few notes from the puzzle:

  • 18A [Epitome] APOTHEOSIS – Don’t ask me how I remembered this word. I NEVER use it!
  • 20A [Nickname for a Yank, Packer, or tennis pro] A-ROD – These players are Alex Rodriguez (who is turning into a fine color commentator during the World Series!), Aaron Rodgers, and Andy Roddick.
  • 39A [Calling] TERMING – This seems contrived to me, but it is solvable so we will go with it!
  • 3D & 9D [All business] NO NONSENSE and STERN – I like the entry at 3-Down and the duplicate clueing in this case. I actually like repeated clues, especially when the answers are not synonyms. These two ARE synonyms, but I still enjoyed it.
  • 4D [FDA sanitation designation] GRADE A MILK – I saw the word “sanitation” and all I could think of was trash! Nice clue!
  • 19D [Sportscast accessory] HEADSET – Although in recent times there is use of earpieces and smaller mikes for esthetic purposes!
  • 29D [She’s out of control with overcontrol] BRIDEZILLA – Great clue. I can’t stand the show, though. I hope they act like that for the cameras and not in real life!
  • 41D [Cell-phone standard] SIM CARD – Unless you’re on Verizon…!
  • 51D [Barrie’s inspiration for Hook] AHAB – Nice clue. I feel smarter!

Let’s go with 3.9 stars since it was slightly easy. I am going to regret saying a Stumper is easy……

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Changing for Halloween” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/31/15 • "Changing for Halloween" • Ross • solution

WSJ • 10/31/15 • “Changing for Halloween” • Ross • solution

Ah, the old switcheroo. 117-across functions as both (oblique) revealer and as a theme answer, so I suppose you could say it’s homological: [Halloween option?] TREAT OR TRICK. See, the gimmick is replacing in phrases the word trick with treat, and vicey-versey. As a bonus, hanging down from the first letter here is 117d [Pranks a house on Oct. 31] TPS.

  • 22a. [Horse on a strict diet?] ONE TREAT PONY.
  • 29a. [Playing a bad practical joke on a noblewoman?] NO WAY TO TRICK A LADY.
  • 57a. [Milk-Bone for a rabbit or carrot for a pooch?] STUPID PET TREAT. More inappropriate than stupid, but I get it.
  • 66a. [Generous restaurant gesture, made with plastic?] CARD TREAT.
  • 77a. [Hides one’s pills in one’s dinner, say?] TRICKS LIKE A DOG. Reminiscent of the previous themer.
  • 101a. [Bit of breakfast magic?] RICE KRISPIES TRICK.
  • 37d. [Part of an Amsterdam bridge game?] DUTCH TRICK.
  • 45d. [Penny candy, e.g.?] CHEAP TREAT.

Tasty little theme. Of course it’s balanced with four and four. Maybe 77a is anomalous for using a plural, but then again, one can imagine that the S remains in place as the usual five-letter words (technically, just three letters: ICK and EAT (hmm…)) are exchanged.

Desultory trip ’round the grid:

  • Magritte Le Château des Pyrénées99a [Dreamer’s construction] AIR CASTLE. I’ve heard of ‘castle in the air’ but not AIR CASTLE, which to me evokes bouncy houses.
  • 25a [Quaker st. ] PENNA (Pennsylvania), 121a [Tasty tubes] PENNE. 52a [“The Sound of Music” family name] TRAPP, 80d [German industrial family] KRUPPS. 10d [Cloak-and-dagger type] SPY, 73a [Spooks’ org] CIA.
  • 35a [Housing discriminators] RED LINERS. No idea what this is, but I’ve heard of a Red Streamliner. Also mystified by 110d [Bats’ paths] ARCS, though I guess a baseball bat’s swinging motion describes an arc … okay.
  • Bonus Halloweenesque material includes: 7a [Haunted house scurriers] RATS, 5d [Rick of “Ghostbusters”] MORANIS, 84d [Edward’s adoptive mother in “Twilight”] ESME, 119d [Reacted to a monster] RAN.
  • Dupey: 44a [Leaf or Volt] ECO-CAR, 112d [Green subj.] ECOL.
  • 27d [Werner who created est courses] ERHARD; clue accurately reproduces acronym in lower case. Here’s a sampling of some other uncommon fill, mostly proper nouns: 59d [European freshwater fish] TENCH, 64a [City on the Ganges] PATNA, 85a [Dora the Explorer’s purple squirrel friend] TICO, 86a [George who won a Tony for “La Cage aux Folles”] HEARN.
  • Cute how 89a [Vintner’s sediment] LEES is crossed by 71d [Architect Loos and violinist Busch] ADOLFSlees and Loos.

Good theme, nice stacking in the corners. More abbrevs. and partials than I prefer, but the lively cluing makes them more palatable. Definitely more a TREAT than a TRICK.

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

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.31.15: "Funny Lines"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.31.15: “Funny Lines”

Good evening, everyone! Hope everyone is well and having fun and being safe on Halloween. Here’s today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, with each of the theme answers being three-word entries in which the first letters in the three words combine to make LOL, or laughing out loud.

  • LITTLE OLD LADIES (17A: [Munchkin great-grandmas?]) –
  • LONG ON LOOKS (25A: [Handsome])
  • LAP OF LUXURY (44A: [Opulence])
  • LEARN ONE’S LESSON (58A: [Avoid the same mistake])

Sorry again that I can’t provide too much analysis, being in Philadelphia as we speak for some postgame coverage of a football game. But I can say that I didn’t catch on to the them at all until I saw all of the themes after I solved and saw what was going on. The grid did make me want to go back to my parents’ place and see if the old LIONEL train set that my dad had bought the family years ago can still be found (6D: [Toy train name]). If so, then I might assemble it the second it is found. Right on the spot. Oh, and TRANSOMS was a new word to me (didn’t know those windows had a name), but not much of a trouble spot, given its crossings (37D: [Windows over doors]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STROP (47D: [Razor sharpener])  – One of the reasons the Chicago Cubs had such a great season was the work from their bullpen, and maybe their best pitcher this season from the ‘pen was Pedro STROP, who struck out 81 batters in 68 innings pitched for the Cubs this season.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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25 Responses to Saturday, October 31, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Excellent!

    Two science clues/entries that gave me pause: GENE SET and AXON. I can’t tell whether the slightly borderline definitions are because they are plunked out of some Wiki description or purposefully misleading in the Saturday spirit.

    In particular, GENE SET is really a specific concept that implies a particular, often functionally related, subset of the whole genome and does not signify an entire genome, which is what clones share.

    NO TRUMP– Never knew the expression, but it’s a concept I can get behind.

    • Jonesy says:

      how amazing (political views notwithstanding) would NO TRUMP have been with a more timely clue? “what Ben Carson would prefer was in the GOP race” “how the GOP debate would have been more boring” or something to that effect that a pro cluer could come up with…

      FWIW – the phrase comes from the Whist family of games – as in where you play/bid with ‘no trump’ suit for that hand – primarily Bridge in popular culture.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Yeah, but that’s not a legit phrase, crossword-wise, when clued in reference to a person. Would only work in a more whimsical puzzle venue, such as an indie constructor’s site.

    • Gareth says:

      Hand up for GENOMES.

  2. EB says:

    Speaking of not really in the language, Im not sure a TIED GAME is a thing.

  3. Fred says:

    Elizabeth Cook’s song, El Camino has great lyrics and a nice melody.

  4. sbmanion says:

    Surprisingly easy puzzle for me. I agree that TIED GAME is awkward at best. I can envision a sentence in which it might be used, but such a sentence would be unidiomatic to say the least.

    If you want to become a good card player, there is no better game to learn than bridge. A good bridge player will instantly be good at almost any other card game with the exception of poker, which requires a different skill set, although card-reading skills are important especially in the now dying out stud poker games.

    SWARM INTO also struck me as a little off from the clue.

    Today is Breeder’s Cup day. American Pharoah will race older horses for the first time. I like American Pharoah, Tonalist and Honor Code in the Classic.


  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    To amplify what I said about THUGS, allow me to share what Michael Sharp wrote at his Rex Parker blog:

    Then I ran into THUGS (40A: Gangsta rap characters). I had —GS and I honestly said out loud “Oh … don’t be THUGS.” But then HARIBO was like “Sorry, buddy, it’s THUGS.” And I just stared at the grid, wondering how the NYT can continue to not know that it has a race problem. And a glaring one, at that. Look, white people, please don’t make me explain to you how it looks when a white-produced puzzle for a largely white middle/upper-middle-class audience not only barely acknowledges black people exist, but when it does, only does so via clues gleaned from a cursory (and often dated) understanding of rap and hip-hop. It’s either HOMEYS or THUGS with this damned puzzle. And going to “gangsta rap” for a THUGS clue, however defensible from a strictly literal standpoint, is fucking terrible in the age of #BlackLivesMatter, when so many jackass racist white people are wielding “thug” like a racial epithet. I mean, the controversy over white people’s use of “THUGS” has been all over the news. Just read. Just watch. This issue is everywhere. White people should leave “thug” the hell alone. It’s loaded. We loaded it. I don’t care if it actually does appear in rap music or on Tupac’s torso or wherever. In the context of a white-produced puzzle for mostly white people, please, dear god, clue THUGS in some way where Race Is Not A Factor. It is, sincerely, the very least you could do.

    • Bencoe says:

      I agree that the word “thug” has become a way, largely, for people to demean black people. My wife was just talking about this the other day and how much she hates it. But personally I think it’s really about context and not the word itself. One of my favorite rappers, Tupac Shakur, embraced the word and used it as the basis of his concept “Thug Life.” Whether or not it happened a long time ago, it happened. So in a gangsta rap context it is a lot different than when a right wing ranter uses it as a substitute for the n word.

      • Bencoe says:

        Also, “gangsta rap characters” per se does not “make race a factor.” Black people aren’t the only gangstas or rappers or gangsta rappers. Isn’t that a bit racially loaded to presume?

    • Papa John says:

      When I hear the word “thugs” I immediately think of cops.

  6. Karen says:

    What if thugs had been clued “assassins in India”?

  7. Howard B says:

    I had ELCASINO / ESTs (estimates), as I just don’t know cars and EL CAMINO was less plausible to me. :( Oh well.

  8. David L says:

    I’m chiming in late because I just got back from, as it happens, a bridge tournament, and I want to say that not all NOTRUMP bids describe balanced hands and not all balanced hands are described by NOTRUMP bids.

    I could explain further but it would be very boring to those who are not interested in bridge.

  9. Gareth says:

    KBTOTS/WNTC – shrug.

  10. anon says:

    “Redlining” is a verb that applies to provision of financial services, among other things. I have never heard of “redliner” as a noun.

  11. Slow Stumper Solver says:

    LAT: on first scan, I was thinking “some…/like some….” was going to be a clue theme! I had BOOHOO instead of BITEME at first, which also made for a possible grid theme (teevee, boohoo, ….) but it was not to be. Adored the clue [What waiters often do] for QUEUEUP, that’s beyond top rate, and a fine 5-vowel 7 to keep in the memory bank. SRILANKA was a nice entry which I couldn’t think of for awhile. DESEED seemed a reach. Looked up DUROC afterwards to be sure, and the picture in the google search is more familiar than the word it seems.

    Stumper: Well, I ended up having a Maurice Ruff time with this one. Filled the entire left and center in near-record time, then bogged down, badly. Could not fill anything SE of RESTAREA or NEVADAN for-ever!! I had WAN instead of WEE, GETTO instead of ENDUP, didn’t believe in my guess of TRIAD for the CIA thing, etc. When I finally hit on BRIDEZILLA, the whole thing gushed open for me, but it was agonizing to get to that point. Besides bridezilla, the multi-word-ers CAMETOPASS and ADIMEADOZEN were simply not coming to mind. I’m sure I stared at A-D-I-_-E…… for 20 minutes and could not think of a single possibility. In the end it was an 80 minute ordeal for me, but I got ’em all.
    The clues for all of the above were great, and [Something held in a sash] was superb for PANE, plus [Water that sounds weird] was nice for the ever-present ERIE.
    — I’ve never heard of ‘Kiss and Ride’, but have seen ‘Park and Ride’ a million times
    — I have no idea why ‘DEARIE’ should be immediately thought of as facetious, whereas ‘Mother Dearest’ might be more obviously facetious to my ear
    — I’ve heard of a ‘sleeper car’ but not a ‘sleeping car’
    — MEET was a stretch from [cope with], but I can handle it
    — TERMING is horrible for [calling], and I dislike the sight of it
    — I suppose ‘CBED’ is a fair entry for [got on the horn] ?? as CBER, CBERS, RVERS, etc. seem to pop up in these highly thought of puzzles WAAAAAY more often than they should …… AMIRITE?????????

  12. Bob says:

    I know that I said I wouldn’t post any more comments –b-u-u-u-t: I can’t believe no one has complained about LAT “BITE ME” – Is no one offended by this lascivious phrase – one that should be offensive to everyone? Have we lowered ourselves to this level to “make things fit” in our puzzles?

    • pannonica says:

      Seems far from lascivious to me. Practically harmless. Some references label it offensive, but it’s also been used as titles for fairly tame fare (including some songs, a few episodes of television shows, and a book by Christopher Moore that I can recommend). I don’t know if it even refers to specific anatomy, but if I had to guess, it would be the rear end. Perhaps it’s been diluted and hence defanged since it was first coined?

  13. Bob says:

    NO NO! On the street it ALWAYS means,”Suck my …..”! Where have you people been?? Or has popular culture approved of this obvious debased aphorism???

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I found three dictionaries via that define “bite me.” Two label it offensive (without suggesting that there is a phallic basis to the phrase), while an idiom dictionary simply calls it “very informal”:

      Bite me! (american very informal)
      used to say to someone that they have made you feel angry or embarrassed!

      You will pardon us if we don’t take our “on the street” knowledge from someone who’s made it clear that he has no interest in the newer stuff that populates crosswords now.

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