Saturday, April 9, 2016

CS 7:59 (Ade) 


LAT 5:40 (Derek) 


Newsday 13:53 (Derek) 


NYT 7:40 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 4 9 16, no 0409

NY Times crossword solution, 4 9 16, no 0409

Perfect Saturday difficulty level—definitely harder than a Friday, but not as hard as a typical Newsday “Saturday Stumper.” I liked the fill, I liked the clues.  The central answer, THE BIG BANG THEORY, necessitated stretching the grid to 16×15.

Things I wanted to mention:

  • 7a. [Remote possibilities], CHANNELS. Love the clue! TV remotes let you tune in your favorite channels.
  • 15a. [Fat fingers?], ECLAIRS. Not the clumsy-keyboarding verb fat-fingers, but pastry.
  • 23a, 24a. [Something to shuck] twice in a row, for PEA and EAR of corn.
  • 34a. [It has layers upon layers], ONION. I was thinking of chickens who lay eggs.
  • 43a. [“Monsters, Inc.” employees], SCARERS. I loved that movie so much, and it really does make this a legit pop-culture answer rather than a hideous roll-your-own word.
  • 58a. [IHOP option], OMELETTE. Was gonna grouse about the spelling, checked the IHOP menu online, and decided to stand down.
  • 60a. [It may be out for blood], RED CROSS. Now I’m wondering if all my tubes of blood for lab tests add up to a unit or two of blood.
  • 6d. [Unwelcome Internet activity], TROLLING. Omigod, yes. So unwelcome.
  • 13d. [California city for which element #116 was named], LIVERMORE. I thought BERKELEY first but it’s not long enough.
  • 21d. [It may grow between buds], BROMANCE. It’s spring and I was thinking botanically. Cute clue!
  • 29d. [“That’s O.K., everything’s fine”], “NO HARM DONE.” Great entry.
  • 45d. [Mongolian for “hero”], BATOR. Or, if you go with the non-crossword spelling of the city’s capital, baatar (the city seems to go by Ulaanbaatar more now). You surprised yourself by knowing a Mongolian word, didn’t you?
  • 48d. [Marilyn of the 5th Dimension], MCCOO. I know her better from her ’70s duet with husband Billy Davis, Jr., “You Don’t Have to Be a Star.”

4.25 stars from me.

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 9.21.53 PMStill buoyed by a 59th place finish at the ACPT, your humble solver has either gotten a boost of confidence or encountered some slightly easier puzzles! The time for today’s Stumper was quite good (see other blog post!), and the Saturday LAT fell in well under 6 minutes! I count 72 words, not too many super-wide-open areas, and in general the clueing does seem a bit mild. But that’s OK; after last weekends puzzlefest, a break in difficulty is welcome!

There is a smattering of crosswordese in this puzzle, and only one I really don’t care for, which I will mention in the bullet list. But there are also some entries that are terrific, so we will not carp over this one! A solid 4.3 stars. Just a tad too easy, from my viewpoint. Nice puzzle, Ed!


  • 15A [In abundance, in slang] UP THE WAZOO – Favorite entry in the grid! I wondered if this was only something we said in the midwest! Believe it or not, this actually HAS appeared in NYT before!
  • 18A [Flowerlike marine creature] SEA ANEMONE – Still have this creature on the brain from the infamous puzzle #5!
  • 47A [Vitamin A form] RETINOL – This is accurate; obviously not that common a word. A suggestion for a better clue: something that describes its use in skin products, like [Skin product enhancer]. I think we know this word from seeing products “enhanced with retinol.” But it didn’t slow the solve down, as the crossings are good if not great!
  • 49A [Infect with the T-virus, in “Resident Evil” films] ZOMBIFY – Second favorite entry in the puzzle! Not sure why these zombie shows are so popular; The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows around! This, surprisingly, IS an actual word!
  • 53A [Melody and Millie, to Minnie Mouse] NIECES – No, I had no clue. Anybody else heard of these two?
  • 64A [“Yikes!”] HOLY TOLEDO – Great entry! My first thought of an alternative clue is [Something Robin might say]!
  • 1D [Clothing material for John the Baptist] CAMEL’S HAIR – Got this immediately. Probably helped open the corner quickly.
  • 3D [Rapping sound] RAT-A-TAT-TAT – Third favorite entry! I told you this puzzle had some gems! This elicited a smile for sure!
  • 5D [Catkin bearer] PUSSY WILLOW – This is not the same as a weeping willow tree, but at any rate I filled in WEEPY WILLOW first. Not sure if we have pussy willows in northern Indiana, but we definitely have weeping willows. It’s amazing I even finished this puzzle being this dense!
  • 12D [Ice cream parlor purchase] CONE – I am a cup man, myself!
  • 50D [Guy de Maupassant novel] BEL AMI – I don’t know this book, but I feel I should. Literal English translation is “nice friend.” Maybe I will find this for my Kindle!

Again, well done! Something tells me next week’s may be a tad harder…

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

IMG_0103I should keep track of these things, but I am quite sure today’s 13:53 time is a record for me on a Stumper! Perhaps I will slog back through all of the Stumpers I have blogged and check the times, but I am fairly sure I have never broken 14 minutes. On a Longo puzzle, no less!

Lots of great fill, as usual, in this puzzle. I enjoyed my discussion with Stan Newman, the Stumper editor, at last week’s ACPT. He explained how he goes through great pains to avoid questionable entries. Even some entries that I don’t have a problem with, or am used to, such as Felipe ALOU do not meet his standard. His emphasis is on the clueing, and that is what makes these Stumpers so difficult. I know there is a solid contingent of solvers that love the torture, myself included. But every now and then, an easier one like today’s is welcome! I am curious to see the comments later and find if others thought this was easier as well. But a great puzzle. 4.5 stars today.

Some notes:

  • 31A [Reminiscent of a 12 Down] GNOMISH – Difficult because of the odd spelling. I thought I had a word wrong!
  • 39A [Name on the 2012 Rock Hall of Fame induction list] BEASTIE – As in the Beastie Boys, of course. This year, N.W.A. will be inducted. Wow, what song of theirs could be performed and not be heavily censored?? Tune in to HBO later this spring and we will find out together!
  • 48A [Spa lineup] WATER JETS – Not sure if this is one word or two! Technically these are “water jets,” but I normally hear them referred to as just “jets.” Nice entry, though!
  • 53A [Stack for many an audiophile] JEWEL BOXES – Two arguments here: 1) Nobody buys these things anymore, and 2) a true audiophile would have a stack of vinyl!
  • 56A [“Bengale-Occidental,” for one] ETAT – Yes, a state. In French. But where? This is French for West Bengal, a state in India!
  • 61A [Utah game] ELKS – Yes, I say “elk” as a plural, too!
  • 6D [“Absolut Berri” ingredient] ACAI – This is a three syllable word. I’ve been saying it wrong all this time! AH-SIGH-EE is close.
  • 26D [Not quite a decade] ENNEAD – This is what I thought I had wrong before GNOMISH became clear! Nice clue and entry here.
  • 33D [Pretzel relative] SALT STICK – An unfamiliar term here, at least to me. I think I call these pretzel sticks. I like salty stuff as much as anybody, but this cannot be referring to just a stick of solid salt!

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments last weekend about my blog posts! See you next Saturday for what is likely a killer Stumper!

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “I’ll Go Last” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.09.16: "I'll Go Last"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.09.16: “I’ll Go Last”

Hello there, everyone! Today’s grid, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, is more fun with puns, as each theme entry is a common phrase (or a bird, as far as purple martin is concerned) that is altered by adding the letter “I” at the very end of it.

  • ESTATE TAXI (17A: [How a fat cat gets around his property?])
  • HIP HOPI (25A: [With-it tribesman?])
  • PURPLE MARTINI (36A: [Colorful bar order?])
  • YES SIRI (51A: [Positive response to a voice on an iPhone?])
  • OFFICE MAXI (60A: [Woman’s work attire?])

Hmm, haven’t seen or heard BY JOVE in a good while, so that stood out for me a bit (44D: [“My gosh”]). Not sure why I was thinking of some program other than a college/university when I read the clue for USC (28A: [L.A. research center]). What’s the nickname that UCLA attendees have for USC? The University of Spoiled Children? Remember hearing that for the first time, and thought that was hilarious. (That’s not my feelings about USC at all, however. Actually almost attended USC out of high school.) Not too much more to add, but a pleasant puzzle to solve. Now, onto the “SPORTS” moment of the day (21D: [Has on]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STROM (21A: [Thurmond who was at times a Democrat, Dixiecrat, and Republican]) – Don’t we all remember former National Football League quarterback Rick STROM, who played collegiately at Georgia Tech and briefly for the Pittsburgh Steelers between 1989 and 1991? No, we don’t? Oh, well.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Movie Listing Switcheroos” — Jim’s review

My apologies for the day-late review. We had a bit of a mix-up on our end, and I didn’t realize I was on tap for this. So I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

Each theme clue contains a movie star’s name hinting at one of their films, except the film in question has one word anagrammed to something else, hopefully producing the wack.

WSJ - Sat, 04.09.16 - "Movie Listing Switcheroos" by Harold Jones (Mike Shenk)

WSJ – Sat, 04.09.16 – “Movie Listing Switcheroos” by Harold Jones (Mike Shenk)

  • 23a [“Andy Griffith runs an eatery that’s always mobbed”] A CAFE IN THE CROWD. Original film: A Face In The Crowd.
  • 32a [“Burt Lancaster gets some skin art that’s slow to heal”] THE SORE TATTOO. Original: The Rose Tattoo.
  • 49a [“Jack Black enrolls in an Irish university”] SCHOOL OF CORK. Original: School of Rock.
  • 65a [“Charlton Heston supplies a roller for those monkeys trying to type Shakespeare”] PLATEN OF THE APES. Original: Planet of the Apes. Yes, I know apes aren’t monkeys.
  • 83a [“Bartender Tom Hanks garnishes margaritas and mojitos”] THE GREEN LIME. Original: The Green Mile.
  • 96a [“Musician Robert De Niro seeks a part for his clarinet”] THE REED HUNTER. Original: The Deer Hunter.
  • 108a [“Margaret O’Brien cheats while playing hide-and-seek”] THE SECRET GANDER. Original: The Secret Garden.

Most of these work pretty well. I like THE SORE TATTOO best for humorous effect. THE REED HUNTER seems like the most plausible movie description.

Long non-theme fill includes READERSHIP, AUDIT TRAIL, CRUISE LINE, and WHITE ALDER. All solid but nothing too sparkly. RAFFISH is right down the middle—a word I don’t think I’ve ever come across before.

A couple finishing notes:

Know your HTML? Because 15d requires you to know that a “contact us” link on a website starts with a MAILTO call. Also 110d requires you to know that CSS (cascading style sheets) is an HTML formatting language.

Super favorite clue is 20d [Sonata quartet] for TIRES. That’s the Hyundai Sonata.

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13 Responses to Saturday, April 9, 2016

  1. ArtLvr says:

    The NYT was a bit tough in spots, but I got a good start in the NE with CCC, CUT ABOVE & CHANNELS, while LIVERMORE Labs was familiar because a friend worked there ages ago…

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I found this quite hard in some places– starting with MOFFAT crossing OCALA (the way it was clued) in the NW. And I didn’t know BASINETS… and a lot of proper names. But I gave it points for THE BIG BANG THEORY being the center piece, and the way CHANNELS and ECLAIRS were clued.
    The cluing for LIVERMORE is slightly off in my view… the element was named after the Lawrence LIVERMORE National Laboratory, a radiation research lab associated with the UC system. True enough, the lab is in the city of Livermore, but to my mind the name honors that lab, not to the city itself…

    • John Daviso says:

      Here’s what I came up with:

      1. From a Bay Area Web site: “Livermore is now and forever more purely elemental. The East Bay town will be memorialized on the walls of high school chemistry classrooms the world over, after the element 116 was officially named “Livermorium,” according to reports.”

      2. From Wikipedia: “The element is named after the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States, which collaborated with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia to discover livermorium in 2000. The name of the laboratory honors the city of Livermore, California where it is located, which in turn was named after the rancher and landowner Robert Livermore.”

      3. From “In the end, it seems the American researchers won out and the team settled on the name livermorium (Lv), after the national labs and the city of Livermore in which they are located.”

  3. animalheart says:

    Nice gnarly NYT. I thought I might not finish the SW, because I confidently had PALEALES for TALLONES. (It was LLC that broke that logjam.) RAYKROC in the NW was hard to crack, since I was expecting the name of a fast-food chain. Exemplary fill and clues throughout. 5 stars from me.

  4. Slow guy says:

    35 minute Stumper, which is super-fast for me. Nice to recover from my DNF last week. Derek, you have a typo on Jewel ‘Cases’ in your post. I agree that ought to be vinyl, but I’d wager that most audiophiles have a fair amount of material that was only released on CD over the years. Add BASILS to ELKS in the ‘not usually seen in this plural form’ category. Favorite clue: [Their performance can be measured by air speed]=VACS. I had SSTS there the first time through. [Given (to)]=APT was also a fine disorienting clue for a common entry.

    • Derek Allen says:

      I will blame it on a lack of sleep. I edited the post to the correct entry “JEWEL BOXES.” I think I wrote in cases because nobody calls them “jewel boxes!” Thanks for keeping me in line! :-)

  5. Lcz says:

    The bagel stores I know sell a baked good that is not circular but just straight, and it is sprinkled all over with kosher-style salt, like a pretzel. It was called a salt stick in the 1970s, anyway.

  6. ArtLvr says:

    p.s. Lots of smiles at the puny theme answers in the C.S.

  7. Jim Hale says:

    Definitely hard. I learned stuff, but it was painful puzzling it out. Took me two sittings, but did what a good puzzle is supposed to do… make you think out of the box.

  8. bob says:

    Obviously I’m from the unwashed masses so please explain the CAMELS HAIR and SPLEEN clues …cause I ain’t got a clue!!

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      I’m not remotely a biblical scholar, but I think John the Baptist was described as being garbed in camel’s hair, somewhere in the gospels.

      As for spleen — the word ‘splenetic’ means bad-tempered or ill-humored; “venting one’s spleen” is an expression — based on confused physiology, I’m sure. The spleen has nothing to do with one’s mood. I’ll leave to the physicians to explain its actual functions, if they care to.

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