Saturday, February 13, 2016

CS tk (Ade) 


LAT 8:30 (Derek) 


Newsday 24:40 (Derek) 


NYT 5:28 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 2 13 16, no 0213

NY Times crossword solution, 2 13 16, no 0213

I wasn’t digging 1-Across and 1-Down—WE MET and WINS AT?—but the puzzle swiftly won me over with its plethora of juicy long fill. My first long answer was ERYKAH BADU, and then she was accompanied by her neighbors, IVORY TOWER and NOSY PARKER (I love that quaint old phrase, I do). The middle of the grid served up BIODEGRADED, Baltimore’s CAMDEN YARDS, and JUDGE WAPNER bolted together by IGGY POP. There’s a CUB SCOUT in the southwest corner, and to its right we have the Potterverse’s BUTTER BEER, “I SMELL A RAT,” and a browser ADDRESS BAR. BOX SET, “I’M GLAD,” SRSLY, and OTTERS (because look at these otter hands!) also pleased me. Give me a dozen really good entries in a themeless crossword, and I’m a happy solver.

Five more things:

  • 38a. [Mountains have grown over them], EONS. Yes, orogeny takes a long time. Interesting clue for a little word that gets used an awful lot in crosswords.
  • 36a. [Gardens of Babur city], KABUL. I had the ***UL and tried MOSUL first, but 35d wanted to be JANE DOE and not JO— anyone.
  • 43a. [One dealing in space and time], AD REP. Tough clue. All that talk about gravitational waves and Einstein this week, and I was not thinking of print media space ads here.
  • I wonder if Peter cycled through TONY PARKER in place of NOSY PARKER while developing this grid.
  • 5d. [B and O, e.g.], TYPES. Not the B&O railroad, not body and odor, but blood types B and O.

4.25 stars from me.

Mark Bickham’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 5.38.14 PMI haven’t done too many of Mark Bickham’s puzzles, so I am not too keyed in on his style quite yet, but even so I was able to knock this one out in under 9 minutes. There are some fairly difficult entries in this puzzle, but nothing too out of the ordinary. A fitting challenge for a Saturday themeless. I rate this one a solid 4.4 stars.

A few comments both good and bad:

  • 18A [He broke Walter’s NFL career rushing record] EMMITT – We are talking about Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith. I am a Bears fan, and I really can’t stand the Cowboys anymore, so when this record fell, it was not a good day!
  • 26A [Philosophers in the news since 1985] CALVIN AND HOBBES – Tough clue, referring to them as “philosophers,” but the comic strip characters are actually named after philosophers! I would say that even the comic strip produced a lot of keen sayings over its all-too-brief run.
  • 44A [“Running on Empty” (1988) actress] LAHTI – Ah, yes, another actress with lasting crossword fame!
  • 61A [Forbidden zone] NO-GO AREA – This is my only beef in the puzzle. This seems contrived, but it’s not. It’s only a beef with me because I have never heard of it! It gets hundreds of millions of Google hits, so I have learned something new!
  • 8D [Colossus and Cyclops, e.g.] X-MEN – This one was a little tricky, even for a comic book nerd like myself! Great clue, perhaps my favorite in the puzzle.
  • 10D [Dragon habitat] KOMODO – I never thought of this as an actual place, but it is! I believe this is one of the largest, if not the largest, lizard in the world.
  • 21D [Sweeps on a gridiron] END RUNS – Two football related clues in the puzzle. The Super Bowl is over! Like many football fans, I am already jonesin for next season!
  • 30D [Pearly coating] NACRE – I remember this as one of the first “crossword words” I learned. I don’t think I have ever seen it in a setting other than a puzzle!
  • 57D [Paving stone] SETT – I have seen this before, but it’s been a while. Another good term to learn, if you haven’t already!

As said earlier, a fun puzzle. Until Tuesday’s LAT review, enjoy your weekend!

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


I have run a 5k already this morning. Yes, it was about 10 degrees. Yes, it snowed last night about 3-4 inches. Yes, I am slightly crazy. Having said that, I knew that I had to solve the puzzle before I left. I was actually hoping to have the blog done before I left, but since I slightly overslept, that didn’t happen. It also didn’t happen quickly because there waiting for me this fine Saturday morning is a difficult Frank Longo special! This one is especially difficult, and I was stumped hard for several minutes on this one. It’s a good thing I had some exercise this morning; it was necessary to get the knots out of my brain! Another stellar themeless from Frank this weekend. A solid 4.7 stars. Great entries, and brutally difficult clues.

Some examples of the torturous clues:

  • 17A [1492 Columbus stopover] GRAN CANARIA – Largest of the Canary Islands. With only a few letters, I was thinking it might be GUANTANAMO, but that’s not long enough!
  • 28A [Europe’s “Linenopolis”] BELFAST – Never heard this term, but this page explains it all. Apparently there was a cotton famine during the civil war!
  • 50A [Exotic pet from Africa] HOUSE SNAKE – I can’t think of anything I would like to own any less than this. Perhaps a tarantula is close. Also thought this might be an actual animal breed, not a term for a type of pet. Nicely done.
  • 64A [Cell bells, maybe] E-MAIL ALERTS – Great clue. Favorite of the puzzle. Thought it might be referring to cell phones, but the phrase “cell bells” not only rhymes nicely but is totally unfamiliar!
  • 4D [Mixer nixers] LONERS – I misread the clue here, I think. I had TONICS in here at first, just seeing the word “mixer.” Another great clue.
  • 7D [“You make bath time so much fun” singer] ERNIE – Got this one immediately! A line from Rubber Ducky, which I first heard on Sesame Street when I was a little guy!
  • 13D [What flashes consist of] RECENT NEWS – This one is just brutal. Didn’t think of “news flashes” until I had almost every letter.
  • 23D [Cashier] OUST – This one had me scratching my head. Afterwards, I looked in the dictionary. According to 11C, this is the FIRST definition of cashier! I have learned something new!
  • 26D [Song heard in “Good Morning Vietnam”] I GET AROUND – It is on the soundtrack. Certainly fits the period.
  • 28D [Driver’s shoulders] BERMS – This was hard, too. At least until you figure out what is meant. It sounds like a golf question!
  • 39D [Insulation material] MICA – What does mica insulate? Evidently it is used in electrical insulating applications. This was super hard. Not thinking this way at all!
  • 48D [“Chin-chin!” kin] SKOAL – I have never heard of this particular toast. We will chalk that up to my uncultured-ness!

Going to watch the Olympic Marathon Trials this afternoon. And let my brain untangle. Have a great weekend!

Peter A. Collins’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Secret Passions” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/13/16 • "Secret Passions" • Sat • Collins • solution

WSJ • 2/13/16 • “Secret Passions” • Sat • Collins • solution

Completely forgot about today’s bloggy obligations! Here we go.

  • R68a. [Song by the Troggs, and a hint to part of eight other Across answers] LOVE IS ALL AROUND. It was the ’60s, of course.
  • 25a. [Pioneering computer programmer Ada] LOVELACE.
  • 31a. [Everywhere, so to speak] ALL OVER TOWN. Echoes the revealer, too.
  • 49a. [Four-time portrayer of cop Roger Murtaugh] DANNY GLOVER. I assume this is from the Lethal Weapon series.
  • 51a. [“The Road to Ensenada” Grammy winner] LYLE LOVETT.
  • 91a. [Green-trunked shrubs] PALO VERDES. This is significantly better than referencing the towns in California and Arizona.
  • 93a. [Interstate interchanges] CLOVERLEAFS.
  • 106a. [1995 Tom Hanks role] JIM LOVELL. 31d [“__ 13” (movie referenced in 106-Across] APOLLO. I don’t mind theme/ballast crossover so much when it’s in this direction.
  • 114a. [Purple flower] FOXGLOVE.

Yep, another Valentine’s Day theme. This one’s modest but works very well.

  • Let’s start with the end. Last square for me was in the upper left, the crossing of 1a [Jeremy of “Law & Order”] SISTO and 4d [“Pagliacci” clown] TONIO. Sure, TONIO seemed likely and familiar, but Herr Kröger is more in my wheelhouse.
  • CoccinellaSome hefty long verticals. Stacked I FOOLED YOU / SOUP LADLES and LADYBEETLE / EMERALD CUT, plus OFFER ADVICE, OBSOLESCENT, LEMON SEED, ALEXANDRE. It seems that some see the LADYBEETLE (aka ladybug aka ladybird) as a symbol of love, and that in the Netherlands a street tile featuring the insect is laid at sites of incidences of senseless violence.
  • 34a [Supreme being?] ROSS. Hey, I know a lot of people like the mellow painter guy, but come on.
  • 54a [Creditor] DEBTEE. This, so close to 48a [CXXXIV tripled] CDIII – can you believe it? Clue and answer duplicate C and I (thrice!).
  • 116d [IV squared] XVI. Get out!
  • 65a [Canadian crooner Michael] BUBLÉ, whom I know only via Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
  • 96a [“Anna in the Tropics” playwright Cruz] NILO. New to me. Contemporary, Pulitzer Prize-winning.
  • 29d [Scales of “Fawlty Towers”] PRUNELLA. Nice to see Sybil! Have you ever seen her make toast?
  • Trickiest clue: 81d [Lines on a map] FOLDS. I liked it, though.

Solid crossword.




Oh, still here? Hi. Okay. You see, I was going to abstain from the obvious play of including the Troggs song or one from the LOVETT album, but it turns out I can’t quite resist the latter. Here’s one that includes both LOVE and—the clincher—wordplay involving different ways of parsing a phrase:


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30 Responses to Saturday, February 13, 2016

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    Yes this was great. Anything that works in both Erykah & Iggy is great. Unfamiliar with KID ORY, but the puzzle fell after Kabul.

    • Boston Bob says:

      At 63, I’m too old to know about Eryka Badu and too young to know about Kid Ory. Thank God for the crossings!

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I dunno. Sometimes I wonder if it’s time for me to walk away from crosswords. There seems to be an increasing number of entries which to me might as well be clued as {Get it from the crosses, sucker} including some that are most praised by others. But there’s nothing I can do about it.

    On a more positive note, Kid Ory was one of the great New Orleans jazz trombonists; and (ignoring the strictures against commenting on a previous puzzle), yesterday’s LAT was superb — 5 * from me. And I did enjoy much of today’s NYT. It was amusing to see an appearance by Judge Wapner, even though I disliked him. I wonder if others are unfamiliar with him. I saw the Orioles at Camden Yards, very shortly after they moved there from the antiquated Memorial Stadium. So I’m talking myself out of my first sentence.

    • huda says:

      Bruce, I’m in the same boat in terms of how out of my depth I feel, but I look at it differently. I see late week puzzles (and occasionally early week ones) as an opportunity to learn about things I’d never encounter otherwise. Or would run into tangentially and never register… e.g. SRSLY– SRSLY? people write that? Ok, why not…

      It’s an interesting way to be made aware of the rate of change in the culture. And once in a while, thanks to this exposure, the young people around me say something they don’t expect me to get and I get it. Not only does it please me, it surprises them and that makes it fun.

      Maybe because I’m a scientist, I’m used to being in the dark about things rather than assuming I should know them. Most of the time, we don’t know what we’re doing… we’re pushing the limits and it’s quite humbling. But it’s also very freeing. It makes you feel like a kid. They don’t know stuff, but they’re excited to learn.

      • huda says:

        Excellent puzzle but tiny demerit for two TV network clues side by side… I understand TMC, but so many ways to clue USA.
        JUDGE WAPNER, not what was a blast from the past… made me chuckle.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Huda, as always your comment is judicious, positive and helpful. I do want to learn things from puzzles, including srsly, which I assume is short for ‘seriously.’ I love your implicit advice to take the attitude of the scientist — to take it as a given that there are things that we don’t know or understand, and to strive to learn and explain them.

        • Slow guy says:

          Hear, hear! Henceforth I vow to emulate huda’s worldview, definitely regarding puzzling, and hopefully across the board. Very well said and inspiring.

    • David L says:

      This was a struggle for me too. It’s nice that the proper names were a mix of old and new, but there were too many for my liking. STAN van Gundy could have been anything. I recognized KIDORY only because of seeing him in crosswords, and although I know IGGYPOP and ERYKAHBADU the names of the songs were not enough of a hint for me.

      I tried GINGERBEER and BITTERBEER before (reluctantly) settling on BUTTERBEER. Sounds horrible!

    • Bob says:

      I know what you mean! Texting is an anathema for me – think it’s superfluous communication. Movies and media don’t interest me – but word meanings fascinate me. It’s sad that having a broad knowledge of pop trivia now takes precedence over having a broad knowledge of vocabulary. I have become a good researcher on the internet to find answers, but HATE those “crossword help” sites that do your searching (thinking?) for you. Every Sat/Sun I struggle with frustrating defs that have no more importance that making a “fit” for the puzzle constructor.

      • Evan says:

        “Movies and media don’t interest me.”

        But you still need to acknowledge their importance in the cultural landscape. Take those two things out of crosswords, and I can guarantee that crosswords will become way, way worse.

        “It’s sad that having a broad knowledge of pop trivia now takes precedence over having a broad knowledge of vocabulary.”

        Not sure where you got that idea, but I’d say they’re not mutually exclusive things. A person can have knowledge of both.

        • Noam D. Elkies says:

          “way, way worse” is in the eye of the beholder. I’d happily allow arbitrary asymmetric grids and even 2-letter answers if I never have to see another pap-culture YAWN (Yet Another Wretched Name) again.


        • bob says:

          It’s from a long career in writing poetry, where rhyme, syntax and meaning trump popular slang, where allusions outshine pop culture icons. Lazy puzzle constructors take liberties to make the “words” fit the symmetry of the grid and this leads to bizarre spellings, abbrevs. and usage. I don’t appreciate these short cuts. It’s pure laziness – and that’s coming from a person who has worked HOURS on making a poetic stanza “just right” in meaning, rhyme and meter.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            And do the letters in the words in your poetry have to interlock with the letters in words intersecting them perpendicularly?

            Also, crossword puzzles are not poetry. They’re crossword puzzles. There’s no reason they should be expected to fit any conventions of poetry.

  3. Matt says:

    Enjoyed today’s NYT, even with the popcult clues.

    In that vein, I’ll note that there was a study recently on the changes in vocabulary in NYT puzzles:

    My own view is that Kurzman is presumably right about the statistics, but there are fashions in crossword puzzle styles– and the current fashion is fewer foreign words and more pop culture. Which, I should add, is fine with me. I don’t think, in any case, that it all has obvious ‘deeper’ implications about anything.

  4. Mark M says:

    Yes, I will be that guy.

    He was Iggy Stooge when I Wanna Be Your Dog was recorded. Fully acknowledge that this could not be more obscure.

    Enjoyed the puzzle, but as a music junkie I chuckled at this clue and answer knowing only a rare few would understand.

    • Joe Pancake says:

      Interesting bit of trivia, although according to IMDb, it was the label Elektra who promoted him as Iggy Stooge, but he referred to himself as Iggy Pop. (I’m only a minor music geek, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of the statement.)

      Either way, I think the clue is fine, since it is referring to the person, not the name — like you can say Muhammad Ali was a three-time heavyweight boxing champion; you don’t have to say he was a two-time champ and Cassius Clay won the title once.

  5. pannonica says:

    And here I’m familiar with KID ORY but was thrown by the clue, [Noted jazz trombonist’s nickname]. Not sure if it holds up under the scrutiny of consistency, but to me ‘Kid’ is the nickname, so nickname + surname (which is pretty much how anyone would refer to him) doesn’t feel right. Edward ‘Kid’ Ory.

    George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth, Charlie ‘Yardbird, Bird’ Parker, John Birks ‘Dizzy, Diz’ Gillespie, Edward ‘Ike’ Eisenhower …

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Yes that clue was a little off. Should have used “familiarly” instead. But (just to avoid making so many replies) have to say I’m amazed to learn the Iggy Stooge thing. Forgivable but there were safer alternatives (Search and Destroy & Lust For Life particularly).

  6. David L says:

    One more thing — I’m not sure about IVORYTOWER as the neocons’ object of derision — aren’t there quite a few neocons that inhabit ivory towers? (Chicago and Stanford, I’m looking at you…)

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Yes, and George Mason and Pepperdine, (among others) at opposite ends of the country. When I saw the ‘neocon’ clue, I was tempted to enter “everything” since it fit the letters I had, but that’s not quite right either.

  7. VB says:

    Northwest all but killed me because I was certain that B and O were ELEMS.

  8. John M says:

    Really enjoyed NYT. Cluing and fill were very fresh. My only objection is Woman of mystery. It’s John Doe and Jane Roe in court documents, hence Roe V. Wade. The D was the final letter to fall for me, and since I didn’t know Kid Ory, almost flamed out…

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      An unknown woman in an emergency room is typically called a Jane Doe, I believe.

    • pannonica says:

      “The Doe names are also used for anonymous or unknown defendants. Another set of names used for anonymous parties, particularly plaintiffs, are Richard Roe for men and Jane Roe for women (as in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court abortion decision Roe v. Wade).” (Wikipedia, with no specific citation)

  9. John M says:

    Thanks Amy for the clarification. Learn something new every day! And thanks to Peter for a great puzzle!

  10. Bob says:

    Having the flu and being wash day, I did LAT in about 4 hours (with time outs to change the wash). I gloat since I used none of the “cheat sites” that do your research for you. Haven’t looked at Albion since high school and XMEN since Jr. High (don’t like the films). I have some CALVIN AND HOBBES books and t-shirts! Got my vinyl of CATS out and heard GUS the theater cat’s song, so the afternoon wasn’t a total loss.

  11. Joan Macon says:

    Pannonica, I never heard of Edward “Ike” Eisenhower, although I did vote for Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower. He had six brothers, but none were named Edward; I think there was an Edgar. His brother Milton married my mother’s best friend. I love to read your comments; I learn so much!

    • pannonica says:

      Ha! The only explanation, or excuse, I can come up with is that I was still thinking about Mr Ory. Every seasoned crossword solver knows DDE and the ETO. Thanks for the correction.

  12. Slow guy says:

    Whoa! Diabolical 100 minute Stumper for the slow guy this time. I was sure I’d need to give up 2 or 3 different times. I never sussed NOACCOUNTS though, having erred with TRUTH and HORSESNAKE in the crosses. NOACCOUNTS is indeed a fun, trite phrase to stick in a puzzle though. I’ve more often heard the combination as “no-account losers” or the like, meaning to my ear the entry is a descriptor of such people, not an alternate noun for the same. I’ve learned something there. So many difficult associations, it was fun to finally stumble onto them: ZEST in cranberry sauce, LEON in Iberia, GINSU clued impossibly as “used to be Quikut”, [Carol’s royal complement] was THREE, TENT was a touring-bike burden, [fix permanently] for ETCH etc. Just a real bruiser from top to bottom. The only weak entry I see anywhere is ECOCONSUMER, which I simply don’t like along with any other eco- prefixed mashup which is supposed to connote “done with mindfulness of the future good of the environment or planet, usually as part of a larger worldview or ethos which is concerned with the same”. Maybe Derek’s next race will be an eco-5k which is run by a charity to aid the planet or some such.

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