Saturday, January 2, 2016

CS 8:44 (Ade) 


LAT 10:38 (Derek) 


Newsday 24:30 (Derek) 


NYT 5½ minutes or so (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


David Phillips’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 2 16, no 0102

NY Times crossword solution, 1 2 16, no 0102

Cursory write-up tonight, as I’m still getting my new Mac set up just right … and I only started the process at the same time the puzzle came out. Downloading apps, customizing the display, finding the mysterious place my grid screenshot was hiding (Dropbox!), realizing I was hungry … yeah, bonkers.

Highlights in the fill include AVALANCHE, NINE HOLES, NBA FINALS, TJ MAXX, HATERS GONNA HATE (it’s what they do, tautologically, isn’t it?), TAKE A DIVE, SKIN-TIGHT, POWER GRAB, RAISINETS, ALLSPICE, TORQUE, RIESEN, LEFT TURN, J.S. BACH, and HAIRLINE. That’s 15 nifty entries, pretty impressive. The trade-off is blah bits like NESSES, ARIE (first time I’ve seen this clued as the German word for aria), SRO, HST, COS, ANAS, INIT.

Did not know: 34d. [Roman consul who captured Syracuse in A.D. 211], MARCELLUS. Wasn’t that the name of Ving Rhames’ character in Pulp Fiction?

Let’s call it four stars. Good night!

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 9.22.47 PMOnly a tad slower than normal; perhaps due to the haze of the new year, which is messing up my sleep schedule? It was worth a try!

A few obscure terms in this Saturday challenger, but that’s OK for a tougher puzzle. Especially since some of the harder entries have easier crossings.

Some notes:

  • 21A [“Wedding Bell Blues” songwriter] NYRO – As in Laura Nyro. From this bio, this song is her most famous, at least to me.
  • 23A [eBay feature] UPPER CASE B – Favorite of the puzzle! Elicited a big smile from me!
  • 52A [Dogfish Head sellers] ALEHOUSES – Does anyone use this term? I suppose it is used in a few restaurant names, but here in Indiana, I never hear it.
  • 13D [Mythological sea nymph] OCEANID – If I have heard of these mythological creatures, it’s been a long time. Good slightly obscure word!
  • 32D [“The Little Mermaid” composer Alan] MENKEN – I believe he is also the composer of this year’s edition of Galavant, which starts Sunday on ABC. If it is like last year’s season, it is highly campy, but fun to watch!
  • 38D [Site of Truman’s winter White House] KEY WEST – Smart man….!
  • 46D [1971 title detective] KLUTE – This is a little before my time; I had KOJAK in there at first. Oops!
  • 50D [WWI French marshal] FOCH – This is really obscure. He was a major player in the war, but unless you’re a real historian, would you know this fellow?

All in all, a fun puzzle. A great way to start the new year! 3.8 stars. Until next Saturday!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0084Well, the euphoria from last week’s fast time faded quickly today. Pretty much as soon as I saw the byline! Brad’s puzzles always give me fits, and this one was not exception. But I took a break at the 20 minute mark or so, and went for a nice ten mile run! That seemed to clear the cobwebs, and then the rest of the puzzle fell rather quickly. But it was nothing short of a battle!

At the twenty minute mark, my puzzle was sailing along nicely, but then hit a hard snag in the lower left corner. The grid looked like this:IMG_0083

I didn’t know what DRU?E was, along with several other holes in the puzzle. I will explain a few of them in my list in a moment, but one of my favorite clues in the puzzle is for 59A [One of a storied English sextet] BOLEYN. Once I figured out what the “sextet” was, it was easy! I think the run jolted this free from my gray cells!

At any rate, I think I am more and more ready for Stamford! Did you see the registration is now open? Discounted price if registered before 3/28! Hope to see all of you there!

Here are a few observations:

  • 1A [Common dust-ruffle feature] BOX PLEAT – We call that a bedskirt here in the Midwest. No wonder it stumped me!
  • 15A [Nibble on a toothpick] CANAPE – Nibble is a noun here! A canapé is an hors d’oeuvre. Clever!
  • 16A [Tasmanian icebreaker] G’DAY MATE! – I thought for a split second what the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character would say/do, but then got the reality. One of the first entries I filled in.
  • 19A [Frontier town] OUTPOST – This got easier when I realized it wasn’t an actual town name!
  • 31A [People skip its stones] DRUPE – OK, a peach is a type of drupe! The more I think about this clue, the more I like it!
  • 38A [Soviet dissidents’ self-publishing] SAMIZDAT – I have seen this term before, but evidently it has been too long!
  • 7D [When the Anvil Chorus is heard] ACT TWO – This is evidently from Il trovatore, an opera by Verdi. You have heard this music before. Slightly obscure, but then I am highly uncultured…
  • 32D [Its logo is made from 44 of its products] PEZ – It is true. I counted!

A fun puzzle. Hope to actually meet Brad in CT. We have passed in corridors, but that is about it! 4.6 stars for great Stumper puzzle!

Amy Johnson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bank Statements” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 1/2/16 • "Bank Statements" • Johnson • solution

WSJ • 1/2/16 • “Bank Statements” • Johnson • solution

Dry theme, but an appropriate one for the financially-oriented WSJ. Concepts associated with banks and banking reinterpreted for different contexts. That is, with wacky definitions.

  • 22a. [Yogi’s shift from one leg to the other?] BALANCE TRANSFER.
  • 32a. [Verizon remittance?] MOBILE PAYMENT.
  • 51a. [Bonsai practitioner?] BRANCH MANAGER.
  • 72a. [Battalion’s victory song?] ROUTING NUMBER.
  • 88a. [Silt on the other side of a really wide river?] REMOTE DEPOSIT.
  • 105a. [Chess champion’s chronicle?] CHECKING ACCOUNT.
  • 15d. [Editor’s recognition to a freelancer?] LINE OF CREDIT.
  • 57d. [Measure of curiosity?] INTEREST RATE.

Had some patches of resistance which definitely extended the solve time. Basically in the bottom center and along the upper right-hand side. Stuff like 88d [Call good, as a tennis shot] RULE IN, 83d [Directly] SMACK, 84d [Frisky] COLTISH, 97a [Draft choice] SELECTEE (see also 111a [Brewpub array] ALES), 99d [Science fiction author Greg] EGAN,  31a [Air] MELODY, 41a [Children’s book illustrator Howard] PYLE, 42a [Batch file extension] CMD, 31d [One might wear a crown] MOLAR, 64a [Da Vinci hobby] ROBOTICS, and some others.

  • Typical WSJ flavor, with financial and economic spins to many clues. Examples just from the northwest: 1a [Kind of crisis] DEBT, 3d [Start-of-trading signal] BELL, 23d [Not binding] NULL, 6d [Bill word] DUE, 32d [Many a Wharton grad] MBA, 5d [Grow over time] ACCRUE.
  • 44d [Childish comeback] DOES SO, 70a [Childish comeback] ARE TOO, 100a [Bullying words] OR ELSE.
  • 10a [Punch ingredient?] FIST, 21a [Kickboxing weapons] SHINS (not SHOES), and the beat goes on, with 55d [Attacks] SETS ON.
  • 113a [Jam accompaniment?] HONKS, 4d [Late excuse, often] TRAFFIC.
  • Took a while to see the aforementioned 5d ACCRUE, kept trying for the too-long ACCRETE instead.
  • 75a [“Ariel guides you __ the sea”: Shelley] OER. Not to be confused with 46d [One of the archangels] URIEL.
  • 60a [Golf’s “Big Easy”] Full name ERNIE ELS.
  • 94a [“Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” in the Capitol, e.g.] Perhaps it’s better in person?
  • Favorite clue: 48d [Remove from power] UNPLUG, crossing least-favorite fill (SMACK dab in the center), 63a [Magic on scoreboards] ORL.

Happy to say 114a [“Toodles!”] TATA to this one. Not my cup of tea, SCONE or no scone (83a).

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Storm Chasers”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.02.16: "Storm Chasers"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.02.16: “Storm Chasers”

Good afternoon, everyone! There’s some beautiful, yet nippy, weather outside here in New York, and there’s no storm in sight…unless you get to do today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke. In it, each of the four theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the second word could also immediately follow the word “storm.”

  • FALSE FRONT (17A: [Deceptive appearance])
  • POWER SURGE (30A: [Unexpected electrical variance])
  • DEAD CENTER (48A: [Precisely in the middle])
  • TAX SHELTER (64A: [Investment strategy that reduces government assessments])

There’s a lot of love given to the Silver State in this grid, with both NEVADA (49D: [Carson City’s state]) and RENO both in the puzzle (55D: [City on the Truckee]). Stupidly thought that “Saud” was a word, and placed that in instead of ARAB to start, which slowed me up in the Northwest (14A: [Riyadh native]). I guess OH, ME is better than “ah, me,” the eyesore we see a lot of times in puzzles (51A: [Words of woe]). Not much better. Actually, not at all better. Here’s an idea: how about the BAFTA awards being presented ABAFT on a cruise ship (5A: [Sternward])? Time to head out, but not before I give you all the V-SIGN as I depart (26D: [Memorable WWII gesture]). Peace out, Churchill!


“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PICAYUNE (10D: [Petty]) – Also a town in the state of Mississippi, PICAYUNE is where Jonathan Bender, the fifth overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors, is from, where he attended Picayune Memorial High School before forgoing college altogether to enter the pros.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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18 Responses to Saturday, January 2, 2016

  1. HBer says:

    Marvellous clue should be BC not AD!!

  2. sbmanion says:

    I found both puzzles this weekend to be easy except for the SE in today’s, which took me a long time.

    Ving Rhymes played Marsellus (with an S as the fourth letter). Syracuse, incidentally, was defended by Archimedes. Perhaps Marsellus should have gone Roman on his tormentor instead of Medieval.

    My guess is that many of you are not Quentin Tarantino fans. If you are, The Hateful Eight is very entertaining in spite of the violence. It has sold out almost every showing in its limited release in spite of a steep ticket price because it uses 70 mm film.


  3. sbmanion says:

    Regarding the A.D./B.C. mistake and also the MSN mistake, today I read the NYT Wordplay blog for the first time in a while and noticed two things: the initial comments pointed out the errors and later comments to some extent reflected disappointment about the “gotcha” mentality of many solvers when they see an error.

    As one of the major detractors of sports clues/answers on the old forum, I do believe that my observations (as well as those of others) helped to minimize sports errors, particularly as related to sports idioms, which I always thought were given at best short shrift in cluing. In the past several years, there have been very few idiomatic errors and, in the sports arena, with the exception of golf clues, very few fact errors as well.

    I always applaud solvers whose knowledge of a subject allows them to point out factual or idiomatic errors.


    • huda says:

      I agree that pointing out errors improves quality. I can’t comment on the sports aspect, but I feel that some tightening up of the scientific cluing would be helpful. The input can be done in a civil way (no one knows everything) while expecting high standards. Oftentimes, solvers add further information to their corrections, which can be very interesting.

      I also find it useful when someone calls attention to some latent biases– e.g. the way various facets of brain disorders or mental illnesses can be referred to. Many things are in the language but can be unkind.

      But most of the time, the NYT puzzles are remarkable in their content, entertainment value and instructiveness. I am grateful to the constructors and to Will et al for achieving such high standards.

    • Papa John says:

      I gave up trying to read the NYT blog long ago but, after Steve’s mention of it, I took another look. Beside the awkwardness of trying to navigate it, I had a lot of trouble just reading it. Can anyone here explain to me why a graphic artist would choose a light gray color for text? Argh!

    • dave glasser says:

      I definitely avoided putting in MSN until forced to because of my memory of the original independent HoTMaiL.

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    I liked today’s NYT since I didn’t know enough to catch the errors. I particularly enjoyed the clue for JS BACH.

    Brad, the Stumper fell easily for me until the SW and then I was well and truly stuck for a long time because I had ABET instead of ABUT. Phew. It was worth the struggle.

    Happy New Year! I’ve been home reading and watching TV and fighting off a cold for the past two days; I’m ready to emerge back into the world.

  5. Karen says:

    I thought LAT was difficult, but I did know Foch even though I am not an historian!

    Ken Burns….Rose Parade Grand Marshall on January 1, in LAT puzzle on January 2.

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      It’s all a matter of one’s upbringing and life experiences. Maréchal Foch is surely the most important French military figure of the 20th century, especially since he spanned both World Wars.

  6. Linda says:

    Around the time a couple of years ago when I was thinking of trying to construct crosswords, I discovered that I couldn’t even download the software and understand how to use it. Thought the WSJ today was interesting and put together well, and I managed to get some of it correct from their site before peeking at the answers on yours. BTW, I don’t know what “biter” refers to in it. I don’t know any dogs of that nature, actually. Love the NYT xinfo page and the blogging about the ways the constructors work, but I know I wouldn’t be good at it. A happy and healthy New Year to us all.

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Brad’s Stumper contained one of my favorite words — samizdat. That managed to slowly pull me through the SW though I don’t get {Small wrapper) for ‘elf.’But I still had a DNF. I never could finish the NW — couldn’t get 1a and 2d, notwithstanding having several letters. There seems to be general agreement that the East was not as difficult as the West.

  8. Dgkelly says:

    NYT way too cutesy for my taste. Question-marked clues mostly elicited groans. Too much obscurity. No fun for me at all. Sorry.

  9. Brenda Rose says:

    You have to admit that the CrosSynergyXWord site is not the hardest rock in the quarry. Is there a way we can solve these on line without using ink?

  10. Slow guy says:

    Superslow this week. 2 hour Stumper. Put it away Sunday and just got back to it today to finish. Great stuff, happy to see I sussed the SW better than some, but the NW just sat empty for me until I realized PRUNE needed DRUNE, and [turkey] wasn’t MORON, etc. etc.
    Official car of Spectre?
    I wanted the Super Tuesday abbr. to be DEL.
    I’m still unfamiliar with the Orville Redenbacher OLDMAID thing.
    [Frequent quote source] was great misdirection for the simple WIT.
    Happy New Year, onward!

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