Saturday, January 30, 2016

CS 7:17 (Ade) 


LAT 8:03 (Derek) 


Newsday 16:19 (Derek) 


NYT 5:22 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


If you’ve been skipping the new Washington Post Sunday puzzles by Evan Birnholz because you prefer to solve in .puz format, you are in luck! Evan’s first eight puzzles are available (For a limited time only! Act now!) via this link. That’s a .zip you can unzip to get the eight puzzle files. And also, the Crossword Fiend “Today’s Puzzles” download page will henceforth be including an Across Lite link for each new Sunday Birnholz puzzle.

Sam Donaldson and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 30 16, no. 0130

NY Times crossword solution, 1 30 16, no. 0130

Long day, short write-up.

Puzzle was zooming along, feeling markedly easier than most Saturday NYTs, till I tried to wrangle the northeast section. DAWN RAID? An ETHAN I don’t know? There’s such a thing as an AUKLET? Oof. It worked out in the long run, but not so breezy.

Favorite fill: MAMA BEAR, SPEED DATING, VISIGOTHS, SATIRIZES, SPIEGEL (aw, I liked their catalog back in the day), CREPEY, SIPPY CUP, WIDE-EYED, VIZSLA.

Top clues:

  • 29a. [Things bench players need?], PIANOS. Fake-out sports clue, but hey, I saw right through it.
  • 10d. [Shorts popular in the 1920s and ’30s], OUR GANG. Short films. Not short pants! Dammit, I fell for a “shorts” clue again.
  • This pair: 47d. [Parenthetical figure, often], LOSS and 49d. [Parenthetical figures?], ARCS.

Worst fill: ALOP. You can try to make it adorable with a clue such as 2d. [Like some rabbit ears], but no. No, no, no. A lop-eared rabbit is one thing, but ALOP is woeful crosswordese. A great many dictionaries don’t include that word at all. Blech.

3.9 stars from me.

Doug Peterson & Patti Varol’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.31.23 PMAnother smooth themeless from the LAT team today. About 8 minutes for me. We have a lot of collaboration puzzles this Saturday, with either Doug Peterson or Brad Wilber involved or both of them! Looks like a 72-worder, but with that the fill is flawless. There were a few rough spots for me as I was solving, but nothing a slight pause and a thought wouldn’t cure. I finished right around where the highlighted word in the grid is. Not too familiar with 12D. Have I mentioned how uncultured I am? A solid 4.5 stars for this one.

A few notes:

  • 17A [Wet blanket] BUZZKILL – Always good to include a few Zs. Great clue.
  • 20A [Robert Southey, notably] LAKE POET – This is where I was stumped. I had LAKE GOER in at first. I’ll have to Google this guy.
  • 37A [Mating situation] CHESS TOURNAMENT – I had CHESS at the beginning, so despite the good clue, I wasn’t that stumped.
  • 43A [Forward, in Firenze] AVANTI – They used to make Avanti cars in South Bend, IN. I remember touring the factory there years ago on a field trip. They also used to make Studebakers in South Bend.
  • 53A [Starbucks order] SOY LATTE – Been enjoying a few vegetarian meals this week. Haven’t tried one of these drinks yet. Maybe soon, though. Still trying to lose 20 pounds!
  • 8D [Acted insubordinately] TALKED OUT OF TURN – Nicely done. Good 15-letter entries in this grid!
  • 12D [Berlioz opera based on the “Aeneid”] LES TROYENS – The aforementioned opera that is buried in my gray matter somewhere deep.
  • 23D [“Good ___”: Alton Brown show] EATS – My wife’s favorite Food Network show. He actually can be quite entertaining!
  • 45D [“Tao Te Ching” sage] LAO-TSE – Got stuck here too. I had LAO-TZU. I think they are the same person, just different ways to spell those Chinese characters!
  • 56D [Miracle Mets star] AGEE – This would still be hard if his first name, which I believe was Tommie, was in the clue.

Great puzzle. Until Tuesday with my next LAT review.

Lars G. Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0088A toughie by the combo of Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson this Saturday, but this one did not give me too many fits! I immediately wrote in VIA for 4D, which I soon found out was wrong! 15A and 17A were quick gets (LIFE HACK and ALFRESCO), making 4D not VIA, but PER. I found it notable that there was a PHEASANT and a PLEASANT both in the grid, and fairly close to each other! I have learned over the past several months that I should trust my initial instincts, and if it’s wrong then that will become evident soon enough, but if it’s right the puzzle will fall quicker, and that was the case with this one. Under 20 minutes is rare for me, and under 17 is even rarer. I think my fastest time period is about 15 or 16 minutes, so this one was pretty quick for me. And no real problems today; you may notice in the grid there are no little gray boxes in the corners, which indicate a check for which letters are correct! Usually there is a pregnant pause for me while solving, staring at a half filled grid with bewilderment, but those moments didn’t last long today. 

What changed this Saturday? I don’t know. The run is not until later. Maybe it was waking up at 3:30 with insomnia and getting to enjoy the Aussie Open final, in which Serena Williams lost in a thrilling three set match. Yes, I am a huge tennis fan! Why can’t there be tennis every Saturday morning at 4:00 am? Maybe I will turn on the Tennis Channel while solving!

Lots of great stuff in this puzzle:

    • 16A [Top name on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Singers list] ARETHA – No doubt referring to the inimitable Aretha Franklin. I remember her stepping in for Pavarotti one year at  the Grammys and performing Nessun Dorma flawlessly. It will give you goose bumps.

  • 37A [Majestic work with a five-theme finale] JUPITER SYMPHONY – I figured out quickly it was JUPITER something, since 32D was DJED. I am not familiar with this particular symphony, but I am severely uncultured. I will find it on Spotify later!
  • 46A [“Project Runway” rarity] MEN’S WEAR – If ever! I have seen this show several times, and I don’t believe I have EVER seen them make a mens outfit! OK, maybe once…
  • 57A [Done with a commute] AT HOME – It was either this or AT WORK!
  • 62A [Quest for a recreational navigator] GEOCACHE – I have never done this. Seems like it would be fun!
  • 64A [Like “Rebecca” narrator] NAMELESS – Isn’t there a word missing in this clue? Like “the”?
  • 24D [Astronaut capability since 1991] E-MAIL – Nice bit of trivia. Just finished watching The Martian yesterday!
  • 34D [Goal for some pilots] SPACE SHOT – This was tough. I thought it might be SPACE SHIP or SPACE WALK.
  • 35D [“Raiders of the Lost Ark” menace] ASP – This helped fix the incorrect POI at 35A!
  • 36D [“Merry” waste of time] CHASE – My son’s name! He is definitely not a waste of time! 
  • 52D [Presley ex] CAGE – Makes sense now. I put LISA in at first, but we are dealing with last names here!
  • 58D [It comes after 49] ERS – Great clue! You may see this logo once or twice next week during the Super Bowl, unless they cover it up. Super Bowl 50 takes place in the 49ers stadium, which is ironically nowhere near San Francisco!

Awesome puzzle 4.8 stars today!

Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, ” RisK Assessment” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 1/30/16 • Sat • "RisK Assessment" • Jones, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 1/30/16 • Sat • “RisK Assessment” • Jones, Shenk • solution

In which the letter K is substituted for an R, to wacky effect. Typographically—especially since crosswords are properly filled with capital letters—this procedure can be crudely thought of as removing the top arc of the R’s bowl.

  • 22a. [Popular treat at Simba’s Soda Shop?] LION’S SHAKE (… share). See also 1d [Ale ingredient] MALT.
  • 24a. [Understudy in “The Taming of the Shrew”?] SECOND KATE (…-rate).
  • 42a. [Sneakers worn by Bengals fans?] CINCINNATI KEDS (… Reds). Football becomes baseball. See also, 25d [Converse’s parent company] NIKE.
  • 59a. [Just what the doctor ordered for dessert?] MEDICAL CAKE (… care). Nifty how the clue brackets ‘just dessert’ to subliminal effect.
  • 67a. [Henry VIII, six times?] WEDDING KING (… ring).
  • 87a. [Paper toys used as travel tickets?] KITES OF PASSAGE (rites …). Not many paper kites these days, except for traditional/decorative ones—but the clue is effective.
  • 108a. [Meat substitute offered at a sandwich chain?] SUBWAY FAKE (… fare). Not all non-flesh proteins are masquerading as meat. I guess it depends on one’s contextual interpretation of ‘substitute’ here?
  • 111a. [Bird bills covered with sticky goo?] GUMMY BEAKS (… bears).

Two notes on consistency: (1) Each theme answer has only one R, which becomes its single K – good. (2) The grid possesses a single non-theme K (square numbered 98) – disappointing.

  • 71d [Sinker’s signal] SOS. Had BOB first, but that turned out to be the answer for 112d [Move up and down].
  • Interesting non-cross-reference: 13d [Noted wabbit hunter] FUDD, 94a [Programming problems] BUGS. Is it the first-name/last-name mismatch? Seems that could have been tweaked easily enough.
  • 72a [Being, to Brutus] ESSE, 104a [Gore’s time in the Senate?] IDES. 15d [Done in] SLAIN.
  • Most meta clue: 118a [Lowly laborer in the crossword business] ESNE.
  • 12d [Broccoli unit] FLORET, 73d [Asparagus unit] SPEAR.
  • 79d [Deflation indicator] SSSS. Bleh. At least it wasn’t in the bottom row, or the right edge. There is, however SSTS in yon bottom right.
  • 99d [Mom’s granddaughter] NIECE. Does the clue need a ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps’?
  • 84d [Canteen’s cousin] WINESKIN. I like the implied cousin/kin wordplay here.

Average-feeling crossword.

Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Shady Business”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.30.16: "Shady Business"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 01.30.16: “Shady Business”

Hello there, everybody! Hope all is well as you enjoy the last couple of days of January! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol, is very eco-friendly, as each of the theme entries are multiple-word answers in which the last word in each is also an essential element to most plants.

  • NISSAN LEAF (18A: [Chevrolet Volt rival])
  • WATCH STEM (23A: [Watch setter])
  • EXECUTIVE BRANCH (40A: [All the president’s men and women])
  • ARMY TRUNK (51A: [Footlocker])
  • FAMILY TREE (60A: [Genealogical record])

I know I had either seen A PRIORI in a grid before or I had seen it somewhere and wondered if it had been used in a crossword before (31D: [Existing independent of experience]). Either way, seeing that was great and was part of the fun fill in the grid today, with most of the lively entries coming in the themes. I knew IONA is a college in New Rochelle, NY, but totally had forgotten about the isle – at least until today (15A: [Scottish isle where Macbeth is buried]). That, and the music-themed entries intersect in the grid, with REDUB (35A: [Tweak, as a soundtrack]) and SIDE B (43A: [Hit back?]). Oh, and there’s more music in the grid with TERRI, for those with a proclivity for country (44A: [Gibbs of country music]). Though I usually don’t try to break the bank on hotels on my travels (since I have to foot the bill because I’m working for myself), my time at the RITZY Aloft Hotel when I was in Charlotte last month was definitely something special (52D: [Like a five-star hotel]). So I’m debating whether to go the five-star route again when I travel for March Madness and the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, the first and second round games are taking place in eight different cities: Brooklyn, Providence, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Denver, Spokane, Raleigh and Des Moines. Since I’m leaning towards not covering the games in my home town (Brooklyn), which city should I travel to and take in what the city has to offer for a couple of days – as well as the games, of course? Any thoughts?

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BRIT (42D: [Chelsea chap]) –It was – and still is – a very good thing to be a BRIT at the Australian Open, as the top male and female tennis player from the country both made the semifinals of the first Grand Slam of the year. Andy Murray will play in tonight’s men’s final against Novak Djokovic while Johanna Konta, who defeated Venus Williams in the first round, made it all the way to the semifinals before being eliminated by the eventual women’s champion, Angelique Kerber.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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21 Responses to Saturday, January 30, 2016

  1. ktd says:

    NYT: I enjoyed this one a lot. Anyone else put in KUVASZ before VIZSLA? (raises hand, looks around)

    • huda says:

      Huh? you knew two of those? Wow, I’m impressed. Had to cheat on that one…

      The rest came more easily, especially the NW. AUKLET was the last to fall (cute though). MAMA BEAR is a great start and SPEED DATING had a fun clue. Though the idea of speed data boggles my mind.

      • huda says:

        PS. I just noticed that I wound up with “speed data” instead of speed date… undue speed in collecting data is also not a good idea.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Well, that was depressing. The top wasn’t bad, but the rest would have been a solid DNF, if I hadn’t turned it into a googlefest. The worst thing is that I had enough letters that I should have been able to figure things out. But I never heard of Spiegel as having anything to do with clothes — just the newspaper, and random words involving mirrors. Those computer clues, like ‘etrade’ are an Achilles heel for me — my mind blocks them out. I had no idea the “crepey” was a word and I wonder whether is pronounced as in “crepe” or “creep.” I couldn’t figure out “me time.” I forgot about sippy cups even though I had most of the letters. Is a pipet a vessel? Isn’t is something you use to transfer liquids from one vessel to another? Oh Well. . . .

    • huda says:

      Bruce, I had the same thought about PIPET. It’s definitely something you use to transfer fluid. We use it as a verb all the time. In the olden days, it was glass, and sometimes we would use our mouths to pull up the fluid and then stop it with our finger– so if you were pipeting, no one should be telling jokes or you could wind up swallowing some horrible tasting stuff. I shudder to think what I got into myself doing this. Now pipets are hand-held contraptions, they’re called guns, some are automatic, they get calibrated, pick up nanoliters and are as far from vessels as etrade is from a mom and pop store.

      • David L says:

        PIPET brought back memories of high school chemistry. We always spelled it PIPETTE — a British thing, maybe — but I can remember spitting out that little bit of benzene that got into my mouth accidentally. I bet schoolkids today are not allowed these sorts of dubious activities.

      • Gary R says:

        I also agree that “vessel” doesn’t quite fit for PIPET – had “flask” there for quite a while. And David, it was a pipette when I was in college (years ago) in the U.S.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        I always thought speed dating was a weird idea. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to get to know someone a bit before you — well you get the idea. I guess that doesn’t resonate with other generations, though.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      I’m with you. No chance in the SW unless you knew Hungarian breeds & Sanskrit scripture. PIPET is an alternate spelling, except inasmuch as the word itself is too rarely used to have an established spelling. Never heard CREPEY before in my life. I’m 50 & SPIEGEL seems antiquated. Fidelity:ETRADE::Mustang:Tesla. Just a junkyard of the obscure & obtuse.

      • Gary R says:

        Had a vague recollection of the dog breed after I saw the answer. No idea on the Sanskrit scripture. I’m 60, and SPIEGEL is antiquated, whatever your age. In spite of all that, I thought the SW was manageable, with crossings.

        Fidelity/E-Trade as competitors didn’t track for me, either. In some sense, I suppose it’s true, but it’s full-service broker vs. discount broker and, more importantly, I think of Fidelity as primarily a mutual fund company – competitors are Vanguard, American Fund, T. Rowe Price, etc. Might have better been clued as “Charles Schwab competitor.”

  3. Argyle says:

    Not Found
    Apologies, but the page you requested could not be found. Perhaps searching will help.

    Anybody else get this when trying to use the shortcuts?

    • Gary R says:

      Yup – I got here by clicking on one of the “Recent Comments.”

    • Evad says:

      What “shortcut” are you referring to? When I click one of the “anchor tags” from the Home page or from the beginning of this post, they seem to work ok for me.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’m still writing 2015 on my blog posts, Dave. Fixed that a few minutes ago.

  4. Gary R says:

    Is a BAD DEAL the source of buyer’s remorse, or is it the fear of a BAD DEAL? My understanding of buyer’s remorse is that it’s an emotional response after making a major purchase, caused by concern that you may have paid too much or purchased the wrong thing. (Every time I buy a new car, I avoid looking at car ads in the newspaper for at least six months.)

    If I confirm I got a BAD DEAL, that would be a source of either anger or embarrassment.

  5. Joe Pancake says:

    Bit of a letdown this week with the themeless NYTs. I found this one to be another ho-hum puzzle. Again, nice craftsmanship, nothing “wrong” with it, but just a bit too drab for my tastes.

    I mean, what really stands out? SPEEDDATING is kinda fun, but it feels like it’s missed its sweet spot by about a decade. Kids today have even speedier dating in which you just swipe left or right on your phone (or so I hear). I like VISIGOTHS and SIPPYCUPS, but I don’t find much else that interesting and using up one of your long slots on ABSTAINERS feels downright wrong.

    Not a bad puzzle, but like yesterday, not much in the way of wow factor.

  6. Bruce N. Morton says:

    It’s hard for me not to love a puzzle with the Jupiter Symphony (Mozart’s 41st and last, and probably greatest, in C Major). And the finale is indeed the crown jewel. I was playing through it in my mind, and there *are* several themes, which all come together at the end played more or less simultaneously. It’s incredible and exhilarating. By all means listen to it. I’m not sure who invented the title “Jupiter.” Such designations rarely stem from the composer.

    I guess dad burned is an expression, presumably Southern. I’ve heard of dad gummed so I guess they’re cousins.

    I ended up with a hole in the SW, though. I went through space walk, space suit, space ride. I gather there are not men on Project Runway. Don’t men model too?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “Project Runway” is, I think, a fashion design competition. Both men and women compete … but in the design of women’s clothes, I guess. (“America’s Next Top Model” is the modeling competition. Apparently the first 19 cycles/seasons of ANTM did not have any male models. For arguments that ANTM has embodied racism and sexism as well as shaming women who have recovered from eating disorders by saying they’re too fat to model, read Jennifer Pozner’s article in the Nation. I’m pretty sure Bruce doesn’t care about the show in the slightest, but Pozner’s critiques of media are always thoughtful.)

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Probably not, but the issues you raise (racism, sexism and shaming women who are not rail thin) does.

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Re LAT, I once spent a couple wonderful weeks hiking the English Lake District, a gorgeous area. I don’t know much about Southey either, but there are much better known poets who I think qualify as Lake poets, such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.

  8. Slow guy says:

    Stumper – quite smooth other than SW, about 50 minutes or so for the slow guy.
    For a puzzle with the extremely elegant central entry JUPITERSYMPHONY, as well as fun fill such as LIFEHACK, SNAPPEAS, PLEASANT/PHEASANT, THY, LIELOW, PROVENCE and AUTOMATON, there was also a notable smattering of iffy entries such as CDCASE, MESHY (I haven’t looked to see how acceptable it is, but I dislike it on sight), ERS as a suffix, the above-mentioned DAD-burned and MLI.
    [Writings in Pepys’ diary] for SHORTHAND is lovely.
    I never have time for Stumpers until Sunday on my current scheduled, but I’ll keep chiming in so long as I think there are more solvers out there who can be encouraged by another who regularly “enjoys” the challenge of the eternal, sometimes multi-day tilt at the Stumper.

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