Saturday, March 12, 2016

CS 7:19 (Ade) 


LAT 7:40 (Derek) 


Newsday 11:33 (Derek) 


NYT 4:47 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Two good Slate reads on the crossword plagiarism kerfuffle:

Matt Gaffney explains how to discern whether theme similarity is mere coincidence or more likely to represent plagiarism.

Comedy writer Frank Lesser pens the noir tale of a crossword detective. I loved it.

Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 12 16, no 0312

NY Times crossword solution, 3 12 16, no 0312

This puzzle played like a Friday to me, what with the QUESTLOVE gimme launching me headlong into the grid. Other answers I appreciated were CODEX, SLOSH, “THAT’S WHAT’S UP,” PENCIL PUSHER, BBQ PIT, FERAL CAT, TYPECAST, LETDOWNS, OLD NORSE, and the erstwhile Times Square standby, SEX SHOP.

Somehow, my favorite clue was a one-word clue: 54d. [Fetor] for REEK, just because I’m fond of the -or nouns.

Did not know: 14a. [Old-fashioned affair à la “Oklahoma!”], BOX SOCIAL.

Two more things:

  • 56a. [Termagant], SCOLD. Come on. Really? You could clue SCOLD as a verb, but instead you opt for the noun that’s an innately sexist term? Here’s the Oxford Dictionaries noun definition: archaic or US “A woman who nags or grumbles constantly.” And what’s a termagant? “A harsh-tempered or overbearing woman.” Just in case any women forget that misogyny is a thing, let’s be sure to include it in the puzzle! (Please tell me the male counterparts to these words, for the nagging or overbearing gentleman. Use your masculine wiles.)
  • 50d. [Like the answer “No.”], TERSE.

Solid 68-word grid here. The worst entries are DYS- and REOIL, not shabby at all. Four stars from me, not counting disgruntlement over 56a.

Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 8.33.15 PMWe have an ambitious puzzle today with stacked 15s at the top and bottom of the grid. Not as wide open in the center, but that allows for some lively fill and lots of Zs! My time was 7:40, so not to difficult despite the daunting looking grid. My tactic for these types of puzzles is usually to read the clues for the three long entries quickly, and if nothing clicks (which it usually doesn’t!), then to tackle all of the shorter downs. Usually, of the 15 clues there is probably 5 or 6 I will get immediately. Then the crosses are a lot more manageable with some pieces filled in. Now that I read what I just wrote, I assume that is probably standard for most of you! :-)

Let’s look at some of that great fill, including all of the 15-letter entries:

  • 1A [Where to see pop-ups] ELECTRIC TOASTER – Great clue. Pop-ups seem to connote something computer-browser related.
  • 16A [Holding capacity] SATURATION POINT – Also nice. Hard to think of something other than a vessel “holding” something.
  • 17A [Doesn’t do anything] SITS ON ONE’S HANDS – Not an overly common phrase, at least to me, but the symbolic picture that is painted speaks volumes.
  • 39A [Letter-shaped beam] Z-BAR – I have heard of I-bars and T-bars, and if you’ve ever installed aluminum soffit they use F-channel and J-channel pieces for the trim. Not as familiar with Z-bar. It is nice, though, to include a few Zs in this quadrant, and the crossing ABUZZ is not too hard.
  • 57A [Security employees] STORE DETECTIVES – Yes, this is where my error was. This clue makes sense; I didn’t know what a beehive oven was in 52-Down!
  • 60A [Doesn’t care for] TAKES A DISLIKE TO – I might have tried TURNS in here to start this entry at first. Oops!
  • 61A [Prepare for a ball] DRESS TO THE NINES – Do they still have “balls?” Good clue anyway! Cinderella was at least “dressed to the nines” for her ball!
  • 24D [Historian Nevins] ALLAN – Nice name. Spelled wrong, though!
  • 43D [Surfing mecca] WAIKIKI – I am surprised there wasn’t some sort of clue tie-in with 35A [Iolani Palace locale] OAHU.
  • 54D [Sellecca’s “Intelligence for Your Life TV” co-host] TESH – As in John Tesh, who is crossword-famous at least!

A solis 4.2 stars from me today for this excellent themeless. Until Tuesday!

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

IMG_0097I am in a great mood! I ran a 10k this morning, and had a great time considering I am not in great shape, but before I did that, I solved the Stumper in under 12 minutes! I don’t track these things, but I am fairly certain this is one of my fastest times ever. I am interested to see if others found this one a little less challenging. I think the puzzle is sufficiently difficult, as you will see in my commentary list coming up. My theme today is to list all of the entries I wrote in that were wrong! Misdirection fooled me time and time again. My theory is that this type of grid pattern, with the 6 7-letter entries in each corner, are a little easier to solve in general. There are only 4 8-letter entries, and nothing longer than that, so that fact alone would make solving easier. As far as themeless puzzles go, I thinks these are also a tad easier to construct as well. Certainly easier than the stacked 15s that appear in today’s LAT puzzle.

I’m starting to ramble, so let’s discuss some of these hard clues!

  • 1A [Be the chair] PRESIDE – I confidently wrote OVERSEE in here to begin. Once I read 1-Down, I knew I was in trouble!
  • 15A [Get played online a lot] GO VIRAL – I think I wrote this in first. Quite timely, as people now aspire for viral videos!
  • 20A [What a leak might ruin] SECRECY – I wrote SECRETS. At least I was on the right track!
  • 55A [Subject of a sports-blog article subtitled “Hinduism and Baseball”] HOLY COW – This clue makes me want to look this up and read it!
  • 58A [Arranged like train cars] ENDWISE – I started typing END TO END, but then realized there were not enough letters!
  • 1D [FedEx Cup awarder] PGA TOUR – Boo! Needless to say I did fill this in immediately!
  • 9D [Dupe] TRICK – Nice job with an identical clue for 62A, where the answer was SNOOKER.
  • 14D [Supposed] REPUTED – I wrote RUMORED in here. It works … !
  • 26D [Raisers of young ‘uns] MA AND PA – The double A threw me for a loop. I thought I had an error!
  • 30D [They may be rallying] CRIES – This seems rather easy to me. Does the word “rallying” ever appear without the word “cry?”
  • 48D [Unequivocal renouncement] HECK NO – How polite. I wrote HELL NO!
  • 56D [She led Munich’s unsuccessful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics] WITT – As in Katarina Witt. I thought she was gorgeous back in he 80s!

A great puzzle, even if it was a tad easier. 4.3 stars. Surely I will pay the price next week!

Natalia Shore’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Irrational Exuberance” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/12/16 • "Irrational Exuberance" • Sat • Shore, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 3/12/16 • “Irrational Exuberance” • Sat • Shore, Shenk • solution

Another mid-March Pi Day theme. Although there are many irrational numbers, only have few have distinct identities, and π is one of them. The titular exuberance is expressed by inserting the letters PI into phrases for unusual results.

  • 23a. [Midweek occasion for great foolishness?] APISH WEDNESDAY (Ash Wednesday).
  • 33a. [Grounds for a poor penmanship grade?] SPIKY WRITING (sky writing).
  • 52a. [Source of fossilized iMammoths?] APPLE TAR PIT (apple tart).
  • 70a. [Item used by a Detroit player autographing footballs?] THE LION’S SHARPIE (… share).
  • 93a. [Blockhead prone to jabbing people?] STUPID POKER (stud poker).
  • 108a. [Sounds signalling telephone surveys?] OPINION RINGS (onion rings). That is one far-fetched clue.
  • 123a. [Shade suppliers for baseball players and coaches?] DUGOUT CANOPIES (…canoes).
  • 17d. [Time when shoplifting was the rage?] SWIPING ERA (Swing Era).
  • 76d. [Flyers landing in the Sahara?] SAND PILOTS (sandlots).

Further, there’s an oblique reference at 39-across [Half the radius times the circumference] AREA.  ½ × r × 2πr

  • 88a [Even prime] TWO. The square root of two is another famous irrational number.
  • 74a [“Vissi d’arte” singer] TOSCA, 104a [O patria mia” singer] AIDA, 30a [Soprano Tebaldi] RENATA, 132a [La Scala, e.g.] TEATRO.
  • 100a [Pitcher’s perch] SLAB. Is this another baseball clue? There are plenty—which is to say, a typical amount—already in the crossword. SLAB = MOUND?
  • 48d [Vamp] SIREN, 25a [Act the vamp] ENTICE.
  • 63a [What the weary get, so they say] NO REST, 65a [Port at the mouth of the Red Sea] ADEN. The two in sequence conjured up the FOREST of ARDEN.
  • 94d [Blow hard] PANT. I don’t quite buy this without a question mark. Breathe ≠ blow.
  • Long non-theme answers are GRIM REAPER, ATKINS DIET, NEWS HAWK, SPLIT-UPS. Good bunch, though the last has a minor dupe with 75d OPEN UP and, fittingly, 83a Kick UP A fuss.
  • 97d [Without a resumption date] SINE DIE (Latin, ‘without day’)
  • 39d [French director Resnais] ALAIN.


    Notice anything unusual? (Last Year at Marienbad, 1961)

“I walk on, once again, down these corridors, through these halls, these galleries, in this structure of another century, this enormous, luxurious, baroque, lugubrious hotel, where corridors succeed endless corridors—silent deserted corridors overloaded with a dim, cold ornamentation of woodwork, stucco, moldings, marble, black mirrors, dark paintings, columns, heavy hangings, sculptured door frames, series of doorways, galleries, transverse corridors that open in turn on empty salons, rooms overloaded with an ornamentation from another century …”

Irrational numbers, when written as decimal numbers, do not terminate, and are not repeating.

Donna S Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bankroll”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.12.16: "Bankroll"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 03.12.16: “Bankroll”

Sorry, all. Loved Ms. Donna S. Levin’s puzzle, but Saturday is/was a hectic one for me. Hope you enjoyed the grid, as I did and always from anytime Donna steps up to the plate!

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29 Responses to Saturday, March 12, 2016

  1. sbmanion says:

    I learned the word TERMAGANT in reading a review of Elizabeth Taylor in The Taming of the Shrew. How about NOODGE for a male counterpart, or perhaps CRANK or CURMUDGEON. Most males would refer to annoying males in simpler terms like JERK, PEST, or A**hole.

    I thought this was a tough puzzle, particular the SE. Solid in any event. Definitely a Saturday for me.


  2. Andy says:

    Wish I could give the NYT more than 5 stars today. Cluing was excellent, and tons of really great fill.

  3. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I liked the puzzle too, but perhaps not quite as enthusiastically as some people. I’ve never even vaguely heard of Questlove, but that’s because I haven’t watched the Tonight Show since the Johnny Carson era, so the only bandleaders on the show I remember are Doc Severinson, and Winton Marsalis’s brother the saxophonist, (whose first name I forget.) So the NW was my last quadrant, when I got BBQ pit. Never heard of Lesh, but the cross made it clear.

    I didn’t like That’s what’s up for Hell yeah, and I don’t get 14a Box Social. I assume the reference to Oklahoma is to the musical, which I haven’t seen. Was there some social event where they all sat around on boxes? What’s the box? I assume it wasn’t a fight club where they milled around and boxed. :-) beautiful morning indeed.

    But I agree that it was a very good puzzle, at a good level of difficulty. I did it in the order SW, NE, SE, NW.

    • huda says:

      My thoughts exactly…

    • pannonica says:

      Branford, brother of Wynton.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        The box social is a crucial plot point in the musical. Each girl makes a box lunch and the men bid on the boxes; they also get to eat with the girl that made the lunch. Curly and Judd both bid for Laurie’s box and it’s tense all around.

        Oh, sorry, was that a rhetorical question?

    • CC says:

      IMO Questlove is one of the best drummers in this generation.

  4. Pauer says:

    The boxes in “OK!” are like picnic baskets, full of goodies that the women-folk have made. The men-folk bid on ’em at an auction to raise money for the new schoolhouse. Central to the plot is Laurie’s box, which Curly and Jud get into a bidding war over. Later, things turn violent and Jud ends up dead. Ah, musical comedy!

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      Ah Yes! It sounds like a Rex Stout — Nero Wolfe plot. Jud turns up dead and Det. Cramer and the DA assume that Curly did it in a fit of jealously over Laurie, but it takes Wolfe and Archie to figure out that it was really . . . But that would be telling.

  5. ArtLvr says:

    Egads! Enough with the battle of the sexisms. You’d need to ban all of Shakespeare to be happy, starting with “The Taming of the Shrew”. If the shoe fits….

  6. Dan says:

    The SCOLD diatribe was self-parody.

  7. Dan says:

     Oh, I get it now. The SCOLD diatribe is self-parody. Brill!

  8. Judgevic says:

    My gut reaction is that since DE NADA is proper Spanish, the clue should be “No problema.” Isn’t “problemo” an Americanized colloquialism at best and, at worst, inaccurate?

  9. David L says:

    Good puzzle, though easier than your average Saturday.

    THATSWHATSUP is a new phrase for me. I assume it’s something that those darn young people use. A shorter version of ‘that’s what I’m talking about,’ which I am beginning to dislike intensely because I hear it so often on House Hunters, when (usually) a guy comes across a big garage or a workout space in the basement or (yuck again) a ‘man cave.’

    Male counterpart to TERMAGANT — maybe ‘martinet’ — not quite the same thing, but sort of.

  10. Papa John says:

    I thought I’d heard every definition there is for ART, but 40 Across, “Something off the wall”, is a new one. Is the thing in question not art when it’s on the wall?

    My sister participated in a box social for her church. It must have been in the early sixties or late fifties. She worked as hard decorating the box as she did for the yummy contents.

    I’m with Bruce on questioning THAT’S WHAT’S UP for “Hell, yeah!” In a word, I don’t get it, especially with the exclamation mark in the clue.

    DAN and CORNELIA: Are you guys calling Amy a termagant? Wikipedia has an interesting article about the word, ending with this tidbit: “The term is still sometimes used of men. In 2008 the Australian politician Kim Beazley labelled opponent Tony Abbott a termagant.” According to the article, the word took on its more uniquely feminine aspect as result of Shakespeare’s plays and the custom of men playing women’s roles.

    • Byron says:

      Apropos of not much, Kim Beazley is a man. He would have been played in the movies by the “before” version of John Goodman. His use of “termagant” here is an alpha-male putdown.

  11. Tom says:

    Andrew Ries’ xword combo today is 2016 Orca material.

  12. anjgupta says:

    Can someone explain the ‘SIL’ answer in the Newsday crossword? Thx

  13. rm says:

    Disagree with other’s on “that’s what’s up”. That entry made the puzzle for me. All in all a tough, but ultimately rewarding NYT.

  14. Slow guy says:

    Least Ruff Stumper …. sub-20 minute solve, my fastest by a landslide. Enjoyed the repeated clues with ‘trim’ in them, and HOLYCOW, SNOOKER, SPLENDOR. Nothing too flashy or memorable beyond that. It’s nice to have an easier one once in awhile, but hoping for a regular ‘toughie’ next week.

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