Saturday, November 7, 2015

NYT 4:58 (Amy) 


LAT 14:40 (Derek) 


CS tk (Ade) 


Newsday 27:29 (Derek) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Hearty congratulations to Evan Birnholz, who will be taking his puzzlemaking skills to the Washington Post next month, making Sunday crosswords every week and working on filling Merl Reagle’s shoes. That is a mighty tall order, but Evan is super-talented and I am expecting grand things from him.

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

NY Times crossword solution, 11 7 15, no 1107

NY Times crossword solution, 11 7 15, no 1107

You know how the Saturday puzzle comes out on Friday night, and sometimes your family is watching a gripping movie and even though you finished the puzzle promptly, suddenly you find yourself sucked into the movie? The Gift is kinda scary! It has pretty much made me forget the crossword. So: Seven things, and a summary:

  • 1a. [Mer d’Aral, e.g.], LAC. Oof, French clue for a French answer—the Aral Sea is technically a lake. See also: DIEU, CÉSAR, opera’s MANON, French region CORSICA, unfamiliar Issy-LES-Moulineaux.
  • 4a. [Centaurus A is one], RADIO GALAXY. Not sure I’ve seen that term before.
  • 18a. [Mold in the freezer?], ICE CUBE TRAY. Anyone else now picturing spots of mold on an ice cube tray?
  • 31a. [Book between Hebrews and I Peter: Abbr.], JAS. When I was a kid, my dad’s name, James, was abbreviated as “Jas” in the phone book. Some family friends assumed he went by Jim because Jasper was an odd name.
  • 56a. [Financial adviser Edelman], RIC. Never, ever heard of him. Is he on TV or something?
  • 60a. [It goes head to head, for short], ESP. Newsflash: Actually, it does no such thing.
  • 46d. [They charge a lot for their cars], TESLA. Double meaning: expensive cars, and you have to charge their batteries.

I like ABRACADABRA, ICE CUBE TRAY, BON JOVI, PLEISTOCENE, and LINE JUDGE a lot. I’m not loving much else, though. It’s a 72-worder, but with plenty of NAM ADE YAYS RIC -THON AUTH. sort of stuff. 3.25 stars from me.

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 9.22.02 AMI must be extremely tired today. Or the puzzle is just THAT hard! It has been a long week; we relocated this week, so I am just about spent. But that is no excuse! Great puzzle by Ed Sessa today in the LAT. Normally Saturday LATs take me less than ten minutes, but this one took nearly 15. Did I mention I haven’t had enough coffee??

Great clues abound. Some examples:

  • 1A [Four Corners collectible] NAVAJO RUG – I know the Four Corners is the junction of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, so this is definitely Indian country. I wasn’t thinking that way at first, though!
  • 26A [Bounty maker, briefly] P AND G – As in Proctor and Gamble. Yes, I thought it was POSSE at first!
  • 36A [Real estate pioneer with a Long Island town named for him] LEVITT – I believe the town is named Levittown on Long Island. Nice informative clue.
  • 48A [Best ever] CAT’S MEOW – I had the W at the end early on, but had no idea what this could be! One of my favorites in the puzzle.
  • 9D [Memorable ’70s Ford] GERALD – Admit it: you were rifling in your mind through car models, weren’t you? I know I was!
  • 14D [Enchant] BEDAZZLE – Kudos for the Zs. I believe if there was a Q in this puzzle, it would be pangrammatic! (I really need to get Compiler again!) Not sure who BOZ at 24A is referring to, though. Anybody?
  • 37D [Noah’s predecessor?] STEWART – As in Trevor Noah, the new Daily Show host. Favorite clue!
  • 49D [___ cracker] SODA – I mention this because it is the same clue as 29A! (ANIMAL in that answer) Well done.
  • 53D [Four on Augusta’s fifth] PAR – If you don’t know golf, this would stump you.

Didn’t care for BOVID, or AMORES, or PENTANE, but crosses for all were fair enough. 4.1 stars from me today. I’m going to take a nap!

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

imageAh, I knew it was coming! After a couple of easier Stumpers, reality has set back in. It usually does when Longo is the constructor! In a change from my normal solving woes, I actually solved the top third of this puzzle rather quickly. The bottom left fell rather fast as well. Then, well, let’s just say the solving app on my iPad will pause the timer when I put it down! As you solvers are well aware, sometimes the best way to crack a puzzle is to put it down and pick it up later, even sleep on it perhaps. The middle of this one gave me fits. RECIDIVISM RATES??? Yeah, that’s something I discuss regularly, … NOT! Does make for a nice 15-letter entry, though!

Some notes:

  • 19A [Bugs’ girlfriend in “Space Jam”] LOLA – I filled this in immediately. That should give you an idea of the kind of movies I like!
  • 23A [Distance or speed] SCALAR – Yes, SCALAR is a noun.
  • 28A [They have a purple-mountain logo] COLORADO ROCKIES – I thought this might be Coors, but of course that is waaaay to short! Biggest a-ha moment of the puzzle!
  • 58A [High-end main courses] CAROTID ARTERIES – This was a close second for the biggest a-ha moment. Probably my favorite clue in the puzzle.
  • 1D [Enjoyed the sound, say] SWUM – See there? Another swimming reference; the triathlon is CALLING me!
  • 6D [Venerable Monte Carlo activity] RALLY RACING – Venerable? Is it that important there?
  • 10D [Longest human nerve] SCIATIC – I am having back pain today, not sciatic pain, thank goodness, but pain in mind helped solve this. Filled this in first!
  • 27D [Reception support group] URNS – This seems a little TOO vague to me. I get the clue, I think, but it seems like a reach. I figured 27A had to be UPI, so I knew the U was probably right early on, but it still didn’t help!
  • 29D [White magic staple] DOVE – I was thinking, “Is there an alternative to black magic?!” Nice clue!
  • 54D [Private fuel source] MESS – Also one of the best clues in the puzzle. I was thinking MOSS for the longest time, until it hit me!

Another classic by Frank! 4.5 stars. Extremely difficult, yet totally satisfying!

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Museum Piece” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/7/15 • "Museum Piece" • Sat • Gorski • solution

WSJ • 11/7/15 • “Museum Piece” • Sat • Gorski • solution

At first I thought this was just a theme composed of M— M— phrases, but 108-down in the lower left both reveals the actual extent of the theme mechanics and provides the anniversary rationale: [NYC cultural center since Nov. 7, 1929 (and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] MOMA. The MOMA, Museum of Modern Art. MO— MA—.

  • 23a. [GQ and O, e.g.] MONTHLY MAGAZINES. Blah answer, but the clue subtly suggests how initial letters are relevant to the theme.
  • 36a. [Organization founded by Jerry Falwell] MORAL MAJORITY.
  • 67a. [Drink of rum, vodka, lime and mint] MOJITO MARTINI. Why add vodka to a splendid concoction?
  • 101a. [Tender-loving caretakers?] MONEY MANAGERS. Cute clue.
  • 117a. [Temporary insanity] MOMENTARY MADNESS. See also, 3d WENT CRAZY, TIZZY
  • 16d. [NBA great nicknamed “Chairman of the Boards”] MOSES MALONE. Ah, it was Karl Malone who was ‘the Mailman’, because he always delivered.
  • 66d. [Novelty song that was an October 1962 #1 hit] MONSTER MASH. Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett.

Mormoops blainvilli, the Antillean ghost-faced bat, portrait as rendered by Ernst Haeckel (1904). A close relative of Mormoops magna, the giant ghost-faced bat, described in 1974 and known only from subfossils.

Seems to me that there were quite a lot of viable phrase options, though admittedly less common (e.g., Molly Maguires, Moondog Matinee, Mount Mazama, Moira MacTaggert), but these are good enough while not being particularly exciting.

  • Speaking of MOUNT MAZAMA (or perhaps MOUNT MANSFIELD), see 41a [Hawaii’s Mauna __ ] KEA, 49a [Peak on an Italian postcard] ETNA,
  • 30a [Evildoer] FIEND, 113a [Villainous fellow] MEANIE. 62a [Veggie in some smoothies] KALE / 63a [Fruit in some smoothies] BANANAS. 19a [“__ iacta est” (“The die is cast”] ALEA, 53a [Teatro __ Scala] ALLA.
  • 123a [Coffee grinder setting] DRIP right above 127a [Company with an Oil Drop Man mascot] ESSO. 9d [Triumphant cry on Everest] I MADE IT, 89d [Text from a champion] I WON.
  • 37d [Eye of Utrillo] OEIL. French painter Maurice Utrillo, né Valadon (1883–1955). Six items in the MOMA’s collection.
  • 42a [Cold-__ (sniffler’s purchase] EEZE. Really? Jeeze.
  • Lurking around the center is the quartet of JET-SKI, Derek JACOBI, JEANIE (of the Light Brown Hair), and JAOISM –– I mean, TAOISM.
  • 4d [Sister of Michael and Tito] LATOYA, 7d [Patrick’s co-star] DEMI, 12d [Friend of Costanza and Kramer] BENES, 25d [Keaton’s “Mr. Mom” co-star] GARR, 95d [Co-star of Kudrow and Schwimmer] ANISTON. Enough! Stop the madness!
  • Favorite clue: 78a [Labyrinth settings] INNER EARS. Runner-up: 80d [Like many reality show participants] SHAMELESS.
  • 14d [Bouvier __ Flandres (dog breed)] DES. Sometimes mistaken for bears by … oh I don’t know, unobservant people?
  • 8d [React when the boss appears] SNAP TO. Not LOOK BUSY?

Solid crossword.

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15 Responses to Saturday, November 7, 2015

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I loved the X RAYS coming off the RADIO GALAXY (I knew that one thanks to my husband and his love of astronomy).

    I found it troubling to have two CAPs in the puzzle– Salary Cap and Toe Cap. I know the rules are less stringent nowadays… Is this now OK?

  2. rm says:

    Was anybody else put off by all the French stuff in the NYT? Seriously, this was a few entries short of a francophile’s dream grid.

  3. Stan Newman says:

    Technically (per, the shrinking Aral Sea has been at least two lakes since 1989 and at least three lakes since the end of the last century.

  4. Evan says:

    Thanks very much, Amy! I’m still in shock about the whole thing. Just know that I don’t think I’d have ever gotten close to the position were it not for you and Rex and the whole Crossword Fiend team providing such sharp insights every day. Whoever said solving a puzzle and blogging about it couldn’t radically change a person’s life?

  5. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: I quite enjoyed Barry Silk’s puzzle. It’s not often that I’m on the same wavelength as him, but I was today and finished the puzzle in a speedy (for me) 20 minutes. Had trouble at the MCA / MIL intersection. Crossing abbreviations gets a frowny face from me.

    • Gary R says:

      I thought the long answers were very good – the short fill, not so much.

      I finished with an error – at the MCA/MIL intersection you highlighted. I’m familiar with the word MIL as a measure of the thickness of plastics (I don’t think it’s an abbreviation in this context), but went with rCA as the record label anyway – oops!

    • Matt says:

      Relatively speedy for me too, although it didn’t feel that way. Good puzzle.

  6. David L says:

    I often have trouble with Barry Silk’s puzzles but this was a breeze. Nice to see RADIOGALAXY — Cen A is a much studied example, being close (in astronomical terms) and thus very bright.

    I didn’t care for that NE corner, with the XRAYS and HAYS and YAYS.

    I don’t know what a marquise is (the wife of a marquis, I was thinking) but GEMS was easy enough regardless.

    I’m familiar with JAS as an old-timey abbreviation for James, but I’m curious — is the Biblical book typically abbreviated that way? I don’t think I’ve seen it.

    OCULARS sound like the kind of thing worn by someone who calls himself Jas, while scrutinizing his entry in Debrett’s.

    • Amy L says:

      A marquise is a particular gemstone shape or cut (an oval with pointy ends), i.e., one gemstone. That is how I’ve always understood it. I don’t understand how you can have a cluster in a marquise, unless there is another meaning. I would have clued it as {a cluster of marquises} but usually the marquise cut is too special to be with anything else.

      I didn’t find this NYT easy. I naticked on mca/mil and didn’t complete the three long downs on the lower right.

      I like your OCULARS definition, especially as I’m reading P.G. Wodehouse. I think a lot of the male characters wear oculars.

  7. sbmanion says:

    I drew a blank on HAZES, which was yet another sign of creeping senility for me as I was in a high school fraternity. Failure to see that made the SE very difficult in what was otherwise an enjoyable and fairly easy Saturday.

    Growing up in Niagara Falls, I always found it funny that just over the border, the accent shifted from Western New York’s hard A sound to something remarkably close to that of Bob and Doug of SCTV fame. I have always thought that was the funniest show ever and the Mckenzie brothers one of the greatest spoofs ever of a stupid requirement, in their case the Canadian content rule on Canadian television. Take off, hoser, eh.


  8. Paul Coulter says:

    I thoroughly agree with Derek’s review of the LAT today. Ed’s clues were great, right in the sweet spot of both clever and quickly gettable, plus there were many interesting entries and almost no blah fill. 4.5 stars from me.

    • Margaret says:

      Another agreement here on the LAT. And Boz was Charles Dickens, in case you hadn’t googled it already. It’s sort of old-time crosswordese to me, similar to Charles Lamb being ELIA, but I didn’t mind it.

  9. ArtLvr says:

    BOZ, in the LAT puzzle, was a pen name of Charles Dickens — origin unknown, I think.
    I have a beautifully bound set of Dickens’ works inherited from my father on my list of things to do, when I have the time…

  10. Art Shapiro says:

    LAT: had the G and the A for the Ford clue, so confidently put in GALAXY, while not thinking it was a particularly memorable model. Guess it wasn’t.

  11. Bob says:

    LAT: one word review -dumb

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