Saturday, February 6, 2016

CS tk (Ade) 


LAT 7:17 (Derek) 


Newsday 24:52 (Derek) 


NYT 5:38 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


If you didn’t snag the first eight Washington Post Sunday puzzles by Evan Birnholz already, be sure to snag them via this link. The puzzles are available only till February 8.

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

NY Times crossword solution, 2 6 16, no 0206

NY Times crossword solution, 2 6 16, no 0206

First up in this 70-worder: Clues of note.

  • 9a. [Whiz at multiplication?], RABBIT. Animal sex, people. A marvel of nature.
  • 38a. [What some pockets are filled with], AIR. I think this works both for air pockets and for clothing or bag pockets that happen to be empty.
  • 7d. [Pilot’s opposite], SERIES FINALE. I first thought of airline pilots and the verb.
  • 50d. [Man, but not woman], ISLE. Hidden capital letter in Isle of Man.
  • 54d. [Small vault], HOP. The “jump” sort of vault, not the “bank safe” type.
  • 3d. [Its icon contains a pair of quavers], ITUNES. Those are quavers? Okay!
  • 18a. [Relative of Rex], BOWSER. Ha! On Tuesday, I made fun of the NYT puzzle for using “Bowser” to mean “generic dog,” and now we see that the editor was just setting us up to accept BOWSER clued as if this is what people actually name dogs. I know Sha Na Na is a retro (and mostly forgotten) pop-culture reference, but at least that BOWSER is completely fact-based.


On the down side, DO TO A TEE, while legit, looks sort of ugly in the grid. The plural DRUG WARS feels a little off—I saw Sicario and there was a lot about Mexican and Colombian cartels, but I’m not recalling this phrase. LONGING EYES feels entirely contrived to me. Plural HES, I’d always prefer a possessive HE’S clue.

I needed all the crossings for 36d. [Swiss treaty city], LOCARNO. This town of 15,000 hosted some post-WWI treaty negotiations in 1925.

3.9 stars from me.

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

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.10.55 PMAs is usually the case, One Across is slightly difficult. I will explain in the comments, but it’s a good clue. I still was able to start in the upper left and slowly work my way around the puzzle to the eventual end. Another very solid LAT puzzle, with great fill and clues. Time was just over 7 minutes, so not bad, especially since I wasn’t really racing through this one. HENBANE at 42A didn’t come to me as quickly as I would like, or the time may have been even better. Barry makes excellent themeless puzzles, and this one is no different. We will rate it 4.3 stars.

I will stop raving incoherently now and examine a few clues more closely!

  • 1A [R&B Foods brand since 2014] RAGU – Who is R&B Foods, you ask? This website explains all, but basically the “R” is for Ragu and the “B” is for Bertolli.
  • 25A [1997 Hawke/Thurman sci-fi film] GATTACA – Anybody else spell it GATTICA like I did at first?
  • 37A [“Aaugh!”] OH NO! – Surprised the famous speed skater isn’t referenced here!
  • 41A [Crystal of country] GAYLE – My mother’s name! Her first name, of course. And spelled correctly to boot! Hi Mom!
  • 53A [Most elementary level] GROUND ZERO – I guess this makes sense, but it seems more to be like a base of operations, or center of activity. Or center of a nuclear blast. Seems a little off to me.
  • 3D [Mario game racers] GO KARTS – Filled this in first! Who hasn’t played this game??
  • 5D [Storms of the 90s] GEOS – I think my brother owned one of these. Or maybe he had a Geo Tracker. Great clue here; we are referring to the car manufacturer here.
  • 35D [Wine-and-fruit beverage] SANGRIA – I am not a big fan of Applebee’s, but I love their sangria drinks you can order. They even have a new blackberry flavored one!sangria

Now that I am thirsty, time to find something to drink! Until Tuesday for my next LAT review!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0090Ouch. That’s all I can say this morning! I got a decent foothold in this puzzle, but the whole upper half stumped me good. I was going to go for a run this morning, but it’s a bit icy out, so that will have to wait until later when the temp rises up into the 40s.

Having said all that, a great puzzle by Stan today! A great wide-open center section with 15 passing through the middle. Sheer genius, in my opinion! And all done with pretty good words. I don’t think BAD-HUMORED is the greatest entry; I hear ILL-HUMORED more. But if that is the worst entry in this 68-worder, then the constructor has done a terrific job.

Lots of challenging clues today. Some of my faves:

  • 1A [Barbecue serving] KEBAB – I actually had MCRIB in there for a time! No wonder my time was terrible!
  • 14A [Land north of the Pacific] PANAMA – This is technically true, but my mind took me to the extreme north Pacific near Alaska!
  • 15A [Colonists’ quest, perhaps] SELF-RULE – I thought SUFFRAGE might fit in there at first, but I knew that couldn’t be right. Great clue here.
  • 1D [Barack’s first HHS secretary] KATHLEEN – I actually knew this was Kathleen Sibelius; I remember when she was hired. Didn’t catch the trick that we are looking for first names here until it was too late!
  • 6D [Wrong admission] I STAND CORRECTED – I got this with just the last four letters filled in. Great entry and clue.
  • 13D [Stuck (out)] PEEPED – This doesn’t seem quite right either as a clue; a not as common definition of the word, though. Maybe we just don’t speak this way in Indiana!
  • 14D [Human bone that whales lack] PATELLA – Makes sense!
  • 28D [He unveiled the first Country Music Hall of Fame plaques] ERNEST TUBB – Ah, the “Texas Troubadour”. I have never heard of him. Perhaps because he passed away 30+ years ago? Or maybe because I don’t listen to country music that much? Especially 50s country music!
  • 47D [In before, out now] PASSE – Yes, I put RETRO in there first!

So in summary, a lot of misdirection that fooled me completely! But a great puzzle, and a lot of head-scratching fun for a Saturday morning! 4.6 stars from me! I am off for several errands this Saturday, so hopefully I can have a nice relaxing Super Bowl Sunday. Enjoy the game, everybody!

Kurt Krauss’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Seeing Stars” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/6/16 • "Seeing Stars" • Sat • Krauss • solution

WSJ • 2/6/16 • “Seeing Stars” • Sat • Krauss • solution

Just in time for the lunar new year, it’s a CHINESE ZODIAC theme. 63-across a [What the starts of the answers to the 12 starred clues make up]. See what they did there? Stars for the figures (as per the title as well), although these particular figures aren’t correlated with stars or constellations the way those in the Western zodiac are. Alternately, China has sometimes been termed the Celestial Empire, so there’s that.

  • 1a. [*It holds private information] DOG TAG. Tricksy clue right away.
  • 23a. [*Way into Wonderland] RABBIT HOLE.
  • 25a. [*Striped ocean predator] TIGER SHARK. Not as markedly striped as the associative name suggests.
  • 37a. [*He sways while he plays] SNAKE CHARMER.
  • 42a. [*”Peanuts” character] PIG PEN.
  • 48a. [*John Wayne’s Oscar-winning role] ROOSTER COGBURN.
  • 81a. [*Tomfoolery] MONKEY BUSINESS.
  • 87a. [*Tricked-out custom car that may with a junker] RAT ROD. I believe this is also associated with illustrator Robert Williams’ style.
  • 89a. [*Track transport] HORSE TRAILER.
  • 107a. [*Chevre, e.g.] GOAT CHEESE.
  • 110a. [*Mint family plant with double-lipped flowers] DRAGON HEAD. Because I’d answered 99d [Railroad siding] with LAY-BY, DRAGON–YAD confronted me and the ‘double’ of the clue suggested DYAD. Hey, DON’T RUSH ME (72d), I was going to reveal that it’s LIE-BY.
  • 119a. [*Sunflowers’ cousins] OXEYES.

For what little it may or not matter, these do not appear in the traditional sequence (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig).

The crossword played mostly easy, with some mildly fiendish clues scattered here and there as the occasional stumbling block (not listing them this time)—but the only legitimate hold-up was that lower right corner. Speaking of which, forgot to mention that 106a “Can’t say AS I DO” (quaint “no”) was far from immediately forthcoming.

Our long downs are TABLESPOON, DON’T RUSH ME, CHARTREUSE, and FENWAY PARK (located at 4 Yawkey Way (!)).

  • 58a [“The Middle” daughter] SUE. No idea what this is. Malcolm in the Middle?
  • 113a, 114a [Still] EVEN, YET.
  • chironectesFactette: [First president to travel above the Arctic Circle] OBAMA. Does this include those who may have flown in an airplane via a transpolar route? To, say, Scandinavia or Russia or east Asia? Somehow I doubt it.
  • 55a [Pillow stuffing] KAPOK.
  • As half-mentioned earlier, there were a bunch of clever clues but again I’m not going to list them. Trust me, they were quite good. I really, really wish I could list them … but I can’t. Just can’t. Quite a lot there were, actually.

The fill is overall clean, with a low CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials). Include a decent theme and a SCAD (103d) of very good and entertaining clues, that adds up to an above-average offering.

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25 Responses to Saturday, February 6, 2016

  1. steveo says:

    Jeff Chen clues us in that Rex and Bowser are characters in the Super Mario Bros. video games. I had no idea.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I find it hard to buy it that Will Shortz would sign off on a video-game character clue that doesn’t reference the video game at all. (Entirely plausible that David would have gone with a video-game reference for a clue, though.) Also, the Tuesday clue with Bowser was for FLEA, and dragon-like video game characters probably don’t get fleas.

    • Martin says:

      I read Jeff’s note differently. I think he’s saying that David submitted a Super Mario clue for Bowser but Will changed it to this dog-based clue. It’s true that both Rex and Bowser are dinosaurs in Nintendo-land, but I don’t think they’re related any more than Yoshi is related to Bowser, which is not at all.

      • Huda says:

        BOWSER: It’s too bad though that the reference to Super Mario Brothers was removed. It’s much more interesting and, to me, evocative of something fun (yeah, I was addicted to that game at one point…)

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I was sailing through the NYT, then got hung up in the SE. Is Elmer’s a kindergarten brand because the kids glue things and use Elmer’s? I never heard of McAfee, but would have guessed it, except I’m not sure of the meaning of {Battery device} for ‘ram’. If you’re going to batter a door in, you ram it? Or does it mean something computer-related? (Ram, Rom, that sort of thing?)

  3. Martin says:

    In the spirit of friendly disagreement, re the NYT;

    LOCARNO: as long as the treaty (referred to by the town) is historically famous, I’m not sure what the physical size of the town/city/location has anything to do with its validity as a hard Saturday crosword answer, IMHO.

    However, if LOCARNO had been clued without reference to the treaty, then, yes, I’d agree with you. Size does matter. (readers: get your thoughts put of the gutter!)

    One thing I want to stress here, is I’m not trying to play the game that I know some people play with glee, of “let’s catch the reviewer out”. Most of the time I agee with you.

    But feel that the treaty in question, which back then, defined the borders (to best of my knowlege) of Germany at the time, and subsequently could have been significant in triggering renewed German border disputes that may have played a role in the complexities of the opening of WWI and subsequently WWII (aside from the other ghastly issues)… is pretty significant.

    BTW, I had to look that up just now… I just know the “Treaty of Locarno” from bored rote-learning from high-school!

    Anyhoo… that’s my 2 cents.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’m not sure what you’re disagreeing with, I didn’t say it was bad fill, or that it was out of place in a Saturday puzzle. Just that I needed every crossing (because I didn’t know it). I’ll bet a lot of people who are also not up on their 1925 European history tried to get LUCERNE to work with the crossings, just because it’s more familiar.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    A quaver is just a fancy word (or maybe a British word) for an eighth note. A quarter note is a crotchet. A group of quavers are barred together with a single horizontal line above them, usually four quavers at a time. Such words are so rarely used, at least in this country that they become a joke — e.g. hemisemidemiquavers, which I guess are 32nd notes if I’m counting the right number of semis. I don’t have much interest in ITunes, and certainly never noticed their logo.

    I agree that the Treaty (or maybe actually Treaties) of Locarno were a historically important attempt to restabilize Western Europe after WWI. As we know with the benefit of hindsight, it was not very successful. (In fact I initially typed “destabilize” instead of “restabilize.)

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: interesting! I have a bioassay for the vibe of themeless puzzles which is idiosyncratic… Do I think my husband would be of any help? Yesterday, the answer was no (that one was very easy for me) today absolutely… Examples: LOCARNO and the way DOLL, DRE, DRUG WARS and IROBOT were clued (he did in fact help with all of them although I’d like to think I’d have gotten there on my own ). It’s just a sphere of knowledge and interest that’s quite different from mine. To my embarrassment, I knew ROSE CEREMONY, mostly because I saw it once and found it excruciatingly cheesy. And I liked seeing the ARTSY BATIK. We both cracked up at the clue for ONE LINER
    So, I give this puzzle high marks for breadth along with some great entries and clever cluing. first impulse in response to the Pocket clue was “Rye”.

  6. Dook says:

    NYT – Really don’t understand the clue for longing eyes. I finally filled it in from the crossings, but it wasn’t very satisfying. Also, is an ATOM a smidge? I don’t think I would ever say ‘use just an ATOM of something”. Also not so sure of RAM. If one uses a battering ram, is one committing battery? 3 stars.

    • David L says:

      Same here. LONGINGEYES isn’t any kind of idiomatic phrase, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a non-idiomatic phrase either.

      Could I get just an ATOM of milk in my coffee? Um, not really.

      Re: BOWSER — the current mayor of Washington DC is Muriel Bowser, but I don’t imagine she’s well enough known nationally to be crossworthy.

  7. Evan says:

    Thanks, Amy, but just to clarify: after February 8 you’ll still be able to access the most recent four WaPo Magazine puzzles in .puz format. Since this weekend’s puzzle will be #10, you’ll still be able to download puzzles #7-10 using the appropriate URL on the Today’s Puzzle page. So it’s really puzzles #1-6 that are only available until Feb. 8.

    Also: be warned that tomorrow’s puzzle is a meta. Good luck on cracking it!

  8. sbmanion says:

    I thought that Sicario was the most intense movie of the year. Benicio del Toro rivaled Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men as one of the great menacing screen presences. The movie was all about the fact that normal channels for fighting the drug war against the cartel simply don’t work.

    Tough puzzle for me. I thought it was great.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It was ridiculously brutal. I don’t really care for ridiculous brutality in entertainment.

      I note that you used the singular “drug war,” Steve. Definitely the way to go.

  9. Greg says:

    I really enjoyed David Steinberg’s puzzle today. It was pitched at just the right level of difficulty and both the cluing and the longer fill were clever.

    Also, there was nice “crosstalk” between the nicely open quadrants, such that getting an answer in one part invariably helped in others.

  10. Waporeader says:

    Love the Fiend! But what a disappointment not to have the Crossynergy puzzle done in a timely fashion with the rest.

  11. ArtLvr says:

    re LAT — I enjoyed the challenge, but was a bit surprised at the near-duplication where ROLLTOP crossed ONION ROLLS, and again with PLANT SEEDS plus LINSEED OIL.

  12. Noam D. Elkies says:

    GATTICA can’t be right because there’s no I in the Genetic Code.

  13. sandirhodes says:

    I know the whole discussion has been NYT, but lets not overlook the Saturday Stumper. It was really tasty today.

    “47D [In before, out now] PASSE – Yes, I put RETRO in there first!”

    So did I! But then wouldn’t that be [Out before, in now]??

  14. Slow guy says:

    90 minute Stumper for me. The narrow connections between quadrants made it difficult. Loved entries like UPSIDE, SCALAR, SELFRULE, SMIDGEN. Great clues [Inclination]=APPETITE, [Outrageous nature]=ENORMITY, [Otterhound offshoot]=AIREDALE. Tough or iffy clues for a few of the others, but this was a fun puzzle to work out.

  15. Martin says:

    Hi Waporeader,

    I am one of the CrosSynergy/Washington post constructors. But I have to come Amy and Ade’s defense. In a perfect world, yes, I guess it would be nice to have all of the puzzles reviewed in a “timely” fashion.
    But everyone reviewing here is putting in their own free time. So I, and I think I can speak for the whole CS/WP team (there are around 15 of us), are all immensely grateful to have our puzzles reviewed here: period.

    Ade clearly is taking time out of his busy schedule to squeeze us in. It may sound like nothing, but I know from talking to Amy, how demanding it is to review ANY puzzkles on a daily basis. And yes, there had been the odd occasion when I’d like to see my puzzles reviewed a bit earlier, after all I’m only human, but Ade is too and if your are reading this Ade. Keep up the good work!

    And do I need to remind prople that most of the puzzles here are actually being reviewed the evening before the day of publication?

    One possible solution is to publish the PDF answer grids to the WP/CS puzzles before Ade’s review. That way solver’s can see the solution and perhaps start some of their own discussions before Ade chimes in!

    However Ade:

    we at CS are immensely grateful to be reviewed here at all. So keep up the reviews please!

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

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