Saturday, February 27, 2016

CS tk (Ade) 


LAT 10:05 (Derek) 


Newsday 20:06 (Derek) 


NYT 4:46 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Hey! It’s not just Oscar weekend, it’s also Orcas weekend! Stay tuned for the inimitable Sam Donaldson’s series of posts on 2015’s coolest puzzles.

And check out Crossword Fiend’s collection of the year’s best puzzles, as chosen by you, the readers who rated them. Half of the honorees have links so you can solve the puzzle if you missed it the first time around—thanks to subscription-only venues AV Club, MGWCC, and Crossword Nation for including some of their treats for free.

Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 27 16, no 0227

NY Times crossword solution, 2 27 16, no 0227

Alrighty, who’s responsible for scheduling this Friday puzzle on Saturday, and yesterday’s tougher Gamache as a Friday? Because this fell too swiftly to be a Saturday puzzle for me.

The first answer I filled in was the dreaded OLEO, but things looked up from there. Lots of good fill: “THIS JUST IN …,” HAVE IT MADE, AT ALL TIMES, DREAM UP, PARISIENNE (though that’s a needlessly gendered term, and I’m glad the English language doesn’t assign a gender to every single noun), Samuel Pepys’s “AND SO TO BED,” AL PACINO, LEASH LAW, FOR KEEPS, and POWHATAN. Now, there are some little words that are repeated (three INs, two TOs, two ITs, two ATs), but I didn’t notice them while solving. I think I notice such things more when the overall fill is subpar and the whole puzzle is annoying me.

Is ROCK IDOL truly in the language? Sounds unfamiliar to me.

Five more things:

  • 42d. [One spotted in tall grass], LEOPARD. Not necessarily seen/spotted, but definitely marked with spots.
  • 37d. [Language in which “hello” is “buna ziua”], ROMANIAN. Did not know that, but the “buna” smacked of Romance languages.
  • 57a. [It “hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,” per Shakespeare], APRIL. Shame this puzzle isn’t running in April.
  • 8d. [Florida community with a portmanteau name], TAMIAMI. Not sure I really knew there was a town. I do know there’s a highway called the Tamiami Trail that runs from Tampa to Miami.
  • 35d. [A host], SLEWS. *looking skeptical* Plural SLEWS? Yes, people use it, but “slews of” gets barely a twentieth of the Google hits “slew of” has. The singular clue isn’t helping me like this any better.

Four stars from me.

Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.26.58 PMI found this one slightly more difficult than usual LAT Saturday offerings. I have been knocking these out in the 7-8 minute range for a while now; this one was just over 10 minutes. I was totally fooled by a couple of entries that I will mention below. The key to this one was figuring out the long entries, and then piecing everything else together. This is a stellar 66-worder with great fill. 4.6 stars for this one.

I will make sure I mention the ones that tripped me up! Here are some of my favorites:

  • 1A [Spot for a ride?] CAR AD – I filled this in nearly last! Took me a while to figure out it was two words, and what kind of “spot” was being referred to!
  • 20A [Masters home] AUGUSTA NATIONAL – I tried AUGUSTA, GEORGIA first, so I figured out easily which “Masters” we are talking about. (The golf major is what we are talking about!) And I was still fooled!
  • 24A [Shimmering South American denizens] NEON TETRAS – I had TETRAS in there pretty early, but somehow blanked on what kind of tetra would “shimmer.” We will call it a “brain cramp.”
  • 48A [Not as much] TO A LESSER EXTENT – Fooled again! I had TO A LESSER DEGREE at first. Great entry.
  • 51A [Pad ___] THAI – I LOVE Thai food. Getting hungry again…
  • 3D [When Star Wars began] REAGAN ERA – This one fooled me the worst! Now that I look at it, if we were talking the movie, Star Wars would have been in quotes! Favorite clue of the puzzle!
  • 11D [2007 #1 hit for Alicia Keys] NO ONE – One of my favorite artists. Can’t believe it’s been 9 years since this came out!
  • 22D [“Dandy for your teeth” toothpaste] IPANA – I am old. I actually remember using this as a kid. In writing for an earlier post , I found that this is no longer available in the U.S., but is still distributed in other countries.
  • 33D [Sentence opener in many teens’ stories] I WAS LIKE – This is my favorite entry! You hear this ALL the time!
  • 45D [1953 A.L. MVP] ROSEN – I am usually good with these sports clues, but I am not too familiar with this guy. He played for the Cleveland Indians for ten seasons, and interestingly, according to Wikipedia, became a stockbroker when he left baseball and had that career for 22 years!

Great puzzle by Julian. Until Tuesday’s LAT!

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0095So I’m sailing towards what I think is a great Stumper time. Most of the puzzle is done in just about 12-13 minutes! Then I get to the lower right corner … and things grind to a halt. I had INSTAGRAM instead of INSTALLER at 53A; I had SCORE PADS correctly entered at 58A, but changed it to SCORE MATS because nothing was fitting; I tried ALERT instead of AMEND at 47D; you get the idea. The a-ha moment was with NICE GOING at 56A. And the toughest clue of the puzzle? 48D [They may come off the shelf] BERGS. That one got my brain tied up in knots! Great puzzle, Doug! A challenging yet thoroughly enjoyable stumper that was a great brain workout on a quiet Saturday morning! 4.7 stars today! Maybe a little easier than normal, or maybe I just had a good day with most of the puzzle. It’s hard to tell.

Some great parts of the puzzle:

  • 17A [Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium locale] OHIO STATE – Got this from recent trailer for the movie Race. And I am Michigan fan …
  • 23A [Attendee at the Medicare signing ceremony] BESS TRUMAN – With enough letters, this made the most sense. Great clue.
  • 34A [Preceder of an annual All-Star Game] SLAM DUNK CONTEST – I though HOME RUN CONTEST, but not enough letters. And this was just a few days ago! At 35D, I had RIMS instead of NIPS, which was another great clue, so that slowed down getting this answer for a bit.
  • 42A [Character on many ’70s lunch boxes] FONZ – I probably had one of these!
  • 6D [Legume-shaped treat] NUTTER BUTTER – These are one of my favorite cookies ever. I smiled here …!
  • 13D [Feature ascribed to George Washington] ROMAN NOSE – I have never heard of this term, but evidently it means a high-bridged nose. Gettable with the crossings.
  • 36D [Number sung four times in a carol] NINE – Had to think about this, but this is referring to the Twelve Days of Christmas! Great clue again!

Awesome job! It should be a great weekend!

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “No Pun Intended” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/27/16 • "No Pun Intended" • Sat • Ross • solution

WSJ • 2/27/16 • “No Pun Intended” • Sat • Ross • solution

A collection of expressions beginning with No … reinterpreted to surprising and hopefully comedic effect.

  • 23a. [Critique of a bad malt shop?] NO GREAT SHAKES.
  • 38a. [Complaint about a boring celebrity roast?] NO KIDDING.
  • 51a. [Description of a Motown show without Stevie?] NO WONDER.
  • 68a. [What Jeb Bush would have liked in the 2016 presidential race?] NO TRUMP. The original sense relates to … a card game? I’m disinclined to suffer the unwanted peripheral results of a web search that isn’t narrow enough. Also, I can’t tell if the clue is timely enough to reflect that Bush dropped out; the conditional can be parsed in more than one manner.
  • 87a. [Definition of a vacuum?] NO MATTER.
  • 99a. [Reason a team might have lost the Super Bowl?] NO OFFENSE. Requires a change in pronunciation, but works visually.
  • 121a. [Criticism of an incomplete commerce treaty?] NO TRADE CLAUSE.
  • 7d. [Example of ingratitude?] NO THANK YOU.
  • 16d. [Feature of a totally inept “Jeopardy!” game?] NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Ouch, burn!
  • 37d. [Bad thing to have near San Andreas?] NO-FAULT INSURANCE.
  • 77d. [Complaint from a news fan at a newsstand?] NO TIME LEFT.

Those two very long down entries explain why the four middle across themers are short and restricted to the interior – just imagine the difficulty in having so many theme answer crossings! Their shorter siblings plug the gap, somewhat.

The astute solver will recognize that the puzzle’s title is autological. That is, it’s a member of the set it describes, inandofitself. The ‘no’ puns are quite intentional. And perhaps by ‘astute solver’ I only seek to flatter myself.

The rest of the puzzle contains the usual mix of ups-and-downs, clue-wise. The mst skeletal of observations:

  • 50a [Home for a hog] STY, 3d [Hazzard County boss] HOGG.
  • giraffa_camelopardalis94d [One with stamina] ENDURER. Crossing the slightly more tolerable ETCHERS (123a).
  • 85a [Much of eastern Eur., once] SSRS. Including the tricksy 108a [Georgia neighbor] ARMENIA (not ALABAMA).
  • 128a [Store with a giraffe mascot] TOYS R US. Was just discussing the scientific binomial with Gareth. It’s Giraffa camelopardalis. The genus is a rather direct rendering of the Arabic word zirāfa, and the species is a Latinate combination of camel + leopard (probably referencing the coat pattern). Apparently the Afrikaans common name, kameelperd, transmutes the leopard-association to horse-association, confusing the issue in a new way. Perd is ‘horse’; I’m familiar with the German cognate, Pferd. The derivation here is also Latin.
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18 Responses to Saturday, February 27, 2016

  1. huda says:

    THIS JUST IN, and it’s important, people: HALVA(H) is NOT a dessert… I repeat…

    Of course, it’s sweet, too sweet actually. Which is why you crumble it and put it inside of pita bread (or the even thinner so called napkin bread). That cuts the sweetness. I took it to school on numerous days, the equivalent of the American PB&J. Best kind has lots of pistachios. The kind with chocolate is an American invention.
    Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

    • huda says:

      PS… Yes, very nice puzzle and like Amy said Friday-like.

      I have to think about Amy’s Parisienne comment– I grew up learning both Arabic and French and both track gender closely for nouns and adjectives and in Arabic even for verbs. So, it’s hard to let go of that. Sometimes I find English frustratingly unrevealing–e.g. my cousin came to my house and was very distraught… Hmmm was that a man cousin or a woman cousin… In other languages, you’d know. It helps paint a picture. But may be it makes us too aware of the gender distinction.

      • Bruce N. Morton says:

        Re Parisienne — Yes. I sometimes think English is impoverished in that regard. Your “cousin” illustration is especially apt. Do you remember that very good, charming, romantic — (but not too romantic) — French movie Cousin Cousine? It would be very awkward to try to translate it into English, and I think the solution was that no one ever tried.

        I imagine most of us will a agree that after yesterday’s brutal puzzle, today’s was very smooth and gentle, if not easy, with no real slowdowns or stumbling blocks. And as Amy said, why not just exchange the two puzzles?

        I don’t know why “and so to bed” was not clued back to its source — Samuel Pepys.

        • Bruce N. Morton says:

          Another of my favorite illustrations — the opera Cosi Fan Tutte. Tutte is the feminine plural, so the reference to women is clear. In French it’s rendered as “Ainsi Font Elles,” which is less smooth, but in English you have resort to something as awkward as “Things all Women do.” One may not like the connotations of the title, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward in English.

          • huda says:

            All great examples, Bruce. But I guess Amy is implying that it would affect our thinking, this automatic division of the world into two categories… The French also do the “tu” vs. “vous”, which is another interesting dimension. Age or position are other ones… Don’t know if anyone in comparative linguistics has found out how much it matters to attitudes or world view…

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            How the heck does anyone decide if a chair, TV, or apple is male or female? And how does German have inanimate objects that are male and female, while das Mädchen (girl) is neuter?

        • Zulema says:

          Just to say I fully agree with both Huda and Bruce about everything they touched on.
          Also, I was very happy to have an easier time with the NYT Saturday than the Friday which I couldn’t quite finish in the SE.

  2. Christopher Smith says:

    As a member of Generation X, I sure can think of one Rock Idol. And he’s dancing with himself.

  3. sbmanion says:

    Agree with the consensus that Saturday was much easier than Friday’s bear. I breezed through the N and found the S somewhat more difficult.


  4. David L says:

    I agree on the easiness of the NYT today, especially compared to yesterday.

    The Stumper was mostly straightforward, but I got stuck on the SE corner and couldn’t figure it out. I also had INSTAGRAM, but then came up with NICEGOING — only one of those could be right. I wondered about DRUGS for “they may come off the shelf” and guessed JULIA, but still failed to put it together.

    Is INSTALLER really an an app, or is part of the operating system? I’m not a Mac user so I don’t really know what it is anyway. I don’t think there’s any direct equivalent in Windows.

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Amy, a linguist (which I am not) would give an extended answer to that question. There are grammatical reasons, e.g. in German, which you referred to, words ending in ‘chen’, as in Das Madchen, and lein, as in Das Fraulein are all neuter. Of course that just pushes the question back one step — how did those rules (or “rules”) evolve?

    • Papa John says:

      I can’t offer Amy an expert’s voice either, but I seem to recall from my 9th grade Latin class that many of the Romance languages kept the gender-specific suffixes that were in the Greco-Roman vocabularies. How the Ancients made the determinations was not discussed.

      The social implications of language is well studied and confirmed (often on these very pages), so I would guess that word “gender-fication” (I don’t know the appropriate term) does matter in how the user views the world. Language is a powerful and, often, subtle force.

  6. Slow guy says:

    Just as Derek and DavidL, I cruised through 90% of this Stumper in a quick 35 min, then took another 30 to suss out the SE. I see 4 toughies in that remote corner, two of which unfortunately cross INSTALLER, which was strangely clued but gettable, yet easily mistakable as INSTAGRAM. Tough, tough small corner.
    [Place to stay] for FLOP – hey this clue would be cute for entries like CASINO
    [Dig] for JAB – hey this clue also works for FLOP
    [Chafe] for FUME — since I had PLOT instead of FLOP i couldn’t get this until a long time elapsed here
    [They may come off the shelf] for BERGS

    All that, and I wanted SCORECARD at first, so it added up to an incredible struggle for the final 15 squares.
    Other good ones:
    [One up unwillingly] for INSOMNIAC
    [Challenge expected from the high-handed] for IRAISE
    and the aforementioned clues for NINE and FONZ. Fun puzzle that was indeed almost too easy, but the SE gave it some teeth.

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Huda, re language and world view, there’s no better starting point than Ludwig Wittgenstein. That is the essence of his life’s work.

    And as to your other point, even the French will sometimes think about when it is time to switch from ‘vous’ to ‘tu’. — Comme tu sais. -:)

  8. Joan Macon says:

    Derek, I remember from my childhood advertisements on the radio—“Ipana for the smile of beauty, Sal Hepatica for the smile of health.” I never knew what Sal H. was but I just googled it and it turns out to be a laxative. I don’t think either of these products is available, and probably it is just as well.

  9. Stan Dupat Parx says:

    Sat Newsday FEB 27th, 2016

    “I’m Easy” ORNOT’

    Please someone explain this for me, I am trying to make sense of how this is the right answer.

    • Doug says:

      Tough clue. Both of them are statements that mean, more or less, “I’m fine with whatever you want to do.” For example, you say to your buddy, “Hey, let’s have an Oscar party tonight.” He rolls his eyes, so you reply with a shrug and say “Or not” or maybe “I’m easy.”

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