Saturday, April 30, 2016

CS 7:38 (Ade) 


LAT 6:16 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:15 (Derek) 


NYT 7:15 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 30 16, no 0430

NY Times crossword solution, 4 30 16, no 0430

I tell you, I was pretty disappointed by how the answer to 35d. Really must go] played out. I had HAS TO *** and was delighted that HAS TO PEE made it into the puzzle … and then it turned out to be HAS TO RUN. I drink three liters a day for my kidney, so HAS TO PEE would really resonate! (Although regardless of the 3-letter verb at the end, HAVE TO or GOTTA flow better than HAS TO, which is a verb form that pops up less than the others in speech.)

Likes: FACEPLANT right at 1-Across, the twin ancient Egyptian vibes of ANKHS and AMENHOTEP, Spike/Denzel’s HE GOT GAME, SHOP VAC, LAURYN Hill, DYSPEPSIA (tricky clue, as the noun meaning stomach [Upset] sure looks like the adjective and verb), TREPAN (drill that skull! it’ll fix what ails you!), “HEY LOVER,” JOHN Q (which ought to have been clued as the Denzel Washington film rather than as basically a partial, with [Public figure?]), BANZAI, SLAPJACK, and KNAVERY.

Did not know: 37d. [Alternators in some internal-combustion engines], MAGNETOS. Nor have I heard of this: 48a. [Game also called Five in a Row], GO BANG.

Five more things:

  • 44d. [The Golden Horde, e.g.], ASIANS? I dunno, it feels somehow reductive to me. I ran the clue and answer by my Asian husband and he exclaimed something blasphemous. He also inquired whether I’m going to call him my Golden Horder from now on.
  • 24a. [Small vault], HOP. You read the clue as a noun, didn’t you?
  • 20a. [The Rosetta Stone, for one], STELE. Crosswordese!
  • MASHERS and SWEEPERS, are these legit things? Or are they both roll-your-own words?
  • 51a. [Common name for a chimp], JOCKO. In what context, exactly? Is this the same context in which Fido is a common name for a dog … a century ago?

Didn’t love all the fill, but there’s lots of good stuff here. 3.9 stars from me.

Derek Bowman’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

lat 043016This was a fun puzzle! Solved on my PC this time; I think I prefer my Mac much more! At least this constructor has a cool first name! I got 1A immediately, an with a quick toehold, the puzzle seemed to fall rather quickly. Not too difficult, but an ambitious grid with the three stacked 16s (!) across the center. (Yes, the grid is 16 x 15.) A couple of “sorta” obscure entries cross the wide open middle, but nothing seemed too objectionable, especially since there are several entries in this grid, including other crossings in that same area, that are stellar. I will give this one 4.4 stars. Not too familiar with this Derek’s puzzles, but bring me more!

Some of my favorites, including the three 16-letter entries:

  • 17A [She slugged a sheriff in “Selma”] OPRAH – Never saw this movie. Waiting for it to appear on Netflix!
  • 31A [___ moment] A-HA – Can you believe I got tricked on this for a bit? I use this phrase in this very blog all the time!
  • 34A [Capital near Las Vegas] SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – How close is this to Vegas? According to Google Maps, it is a 9 hour drive! I guess that’s fairly close out west where you can drive 90 on I-40!
  • 41A [Popular software for gamers] ADOBE FLASH PLAYER – Awesome!
  • 42A [Variety show on which “The Honeymooners” began as a skit] CAVALCADE OF STARS – A great piece of trivia. Before my time, but I had no problem with it!
  • 46A [Pope John Paul II’s given name] KAROL – Full name is Karol Józef Wojtyła. Born in Poland.
  • 61A [Secretary of war under Teddy] ELIHU – Shouldn’t “war” be capitalized? This was Elihu Root. Also before my time!
  • 5D [Marin County seat] SAN RAFAEL – One of the more obscure entries, but this puzzle IS in the LA Times! California residents would be more familiar with this San Fran suburb.
  • 6D [Football’s Favre] BRETT – Not only do I share a name with the constructor, but my middle son’s name is in the puzzle! He is a big DOCTOR WHO fan, and I’m not sure which excited him more! :-)
  • 27D [1980s attorney general] MEESE – As in Edwin Meese. NOT before my time!
  • 28D [Attorney’s specialty] TAXATION LAW – Not heard often, but a great entry.
  • 32D [Simple greeting] HIYA – Needed for the middle to work. I like it!

I’ll say it again: This was a fun puzzle! Enjoy your weekend!

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

IMG_0114A bit of a breather today! Didn’t feel pummeled, although this was a bit of a toughie. A solid 70-worder, with so many good clues I won’t be able to name mention them all. Got the upper left corner, including 1-Across, actually rather quickly for a change! The last to fall was the upper right. I had a Z in TOYS R US for some reason, and that slowed me down. I only delivered to a Toys R Us for several years! This puzzle was tough yet still enjoyable, and for that we will rate it 4.4 stars.

Now to some of the best in the puzzle:

  • 16A [Super Glue dissolver] ACETONE – Just saw The Lego Movie again last weekend, and this is featured near the end, so this came rather quickly. I highly recommend this movie if you have never seen it!
  • 39A [Imports from Hiroshima] MAZDA MIATAS – Favorite entry. First thought was some sort of car; got easier when I realized it was two words!
  • 46A [End of Revelation] AMEN – Literally the last word of the Bible, fittingly.
  • 61A [Cornelius, on Corn Flakes boxes] ROOSTER – Got this quick too. Ate a lot of cereal growing up! He was more of a cartoon character; boxes look similar to this now:cornelius
  • 2D [Not-too-long song] ARIETTA – Alternate clue: [Cubs ace Jake]. Go Cubbies!
  • 9D [Top female golfer, 2007-10] OCHOA – As in Lorena Ochoa, arguably Mexico’s greatest golfer, male or female.
  • 12D [The Taxpayer Relief Act created it] ROTH IRA – I need to open one of these…
  • 20D [Left school for work, perhaps] TURNED PRO – Best clue in the puzzle! And there are some good ones!
  • 36D [It has a self descriptive “L” in it logo] STAPLES – Like this one, for instance! Another great
  • 40D [Tower on the water] TUGBOAT – A close second for best clue. You were thinking of a building, weren’t you? OK, I was…!
  • 48D [Baseball commissioner elector] OWNER – I believe in most major pro sports, at least in this country, the commissioners are all chosen by the owners, or should I say, billionaires.
  • 53D [___ Focus (gag name for a photographer)] OTTO – A homophone of “autofocus!” If not the best clue, certainly the funniest!

That puzzle was so nice, I actually feel like doing more puzzles! So that is what I may do on this rainy Saturday here. Have a great weekend!

Ellen Leuschner’s and Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Step Right Up!” — Jim’s review

Alternate puzzle title: “You’re breaking up! You’re breaking up!” Actually, up and to the right.

Ellen and Jeff team up today to give us an expertly constructed, clever puzzle. They found phrases that include the word “BREAK” and literally broke them up, using the title to indicate just how we’re supposed to find the pieces in the grid. The word “BREAK” is not included in each phrase, but is instead replaced by a step up and to the right. It’s up to you to supply your own mental BREAK for each themer, per the instruction at 66a: [“You have got to be kidding!” (or a hint to solving eight theme answers)], i.e. GIMME A BREAK.

WSJ - Sat, 04.30.16 - "Step Right Up!" by Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen

WSJ – Sat, 04.30.16 – “Step Right Up!” by Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen

  • 25a/23a [New highest-ever temperature] RECORD {BREAK}ING HEAT
  • 30a/28a [Discovery of a cure, say] MEDICAL {BREAK}THROUGH
  • 49a/41a [Got by without exertion] DIDN’T {BREAK} A SWEAT
  • 56a/53a [Song beginning “Well, since my baby left me”] HEART{BREAK} HOTEL
  • 82a/77a [Flee from the chain gang] MAKE A {BREAK} FOR IT
  • 93a/86a [Rustic stops] BED AND {BREAK}FASTS
  • 107a/104a [Fuse box alternative] CIRCUIT {BREAK}ER PANEL
  • 114a/110a [Pandemonium results] ALL HELL {BREAK}S LOOSE

I decided to color in the grid so you could see how the theme entries lie. Now I see just how much theme material there is. Wow! It’s chock full! How many non-theme entries cross two or even three themers? Too many to count.

Not only is there a ton of material, but the theme requirement dictates block placement just so, adding further constraints on the grid.

I think it would have been completely acceptable to pare the themers down by two and give the puzzle more room to breathe, but you know what? You don’t notice it while your solving the puzzle. It’s that meticulously constructed, and it’s that good.

The theme entries are mostly unassailable though BED AND BREAKFASTS would have been better in the singular. But in truth, it seems astonishing that there are that many “BREAK” phrases and that they could be broken up in just the right way to fit symmetrically in the grid. The more I look, the more I’m impressed with this construction.


And yet, there’s still room for some tasty long non-theme fill like ARACHNID, PIG OUT ON, ATE DIRT, SUM TOTAL, and ASTROPOP. I didn’t know AMARANTH (13d, [Flower sacred to Artemis]), but the crossings in that area were mostly fair.

Where I had difficulty was around 93d. I didn’t know [Michael of the Houston Rockets] was BEASLEY, and the PANEL of CIRCUIT {BREAK}ER PANEL wasn’t obvious. I had TIE TO for 78d [Attach] (should’ve been TIE ON), and I’m still having difficulty with the clue [Relieves] for 98d SPELLS. And of course I was blanking on SEOUL as the [1988 Summer Olympics host] needed at 98a. So that whole section was a small struggle for me, but I got there in the end.

A few final notes:

  • 27a: [Karate skill level] is DAN. Did not know this. My daughter who is studying Japanese informs me that it can more generally mean step or stage or even group.
  • 12a: Despite sounding Japanese, HARIBO, the [Company that produced the original gummi bears], is German and based in Bonn. Seems like once a week my younger daughter comes home from school with a small pack of HARIBO due to someone’s birthday in the class.
  • 106a: [Comics artist Walker] is MORT who created Beetle Bailey.

Overall, this is a really fantastic puzzle which required meticulous attention to detail to make it as smooth as it is. Plenty of solid, fun fill throughout, and fair clues allowing for steady progress to the end.

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Taking a Little Time” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.30.16: "Taking a Little Time"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.30.16: “Taking a Little Time”

Hello there, everyone! Today’s crossword was brought to us by Mr. Doug Peterson. ENOUGH SAID, right (33D: [“No need to elaborate”])? But I will elaborate, and, in his grid, each of the theme entries are puns, with the letters “MIN” being added to common phrases to create them (65D: [Short amount of time “taken” by this puzzle’s longest entries]).

  • FLAMING FOOTBALL (17A: [Target for an end zone extinguisher?]) – Flag football.
  • SEMINAL TEAM (30A: [Widely emulated pair of oxen?]) – SEAL Team.
  • REMIND DWARF (47A: [Send Doc a memo, say?]) – Red Dwarf.
  • B-MINUS TERMINALS (62A: [Work stations for so-so students?]) – Bus terminals.

Liked seeing the new, millennial-inspired spelling of OMIGOD in the grid (25D: [“Yipes!”]). I’m pretty sure Judy and Jane are a little miffed that ROSIE, along with Elroy and Astro, get all the love when crossword puzzles around the country are created and clued (9A: [Robot maid on “The Jetsons”]). The only time I’ve ever been to Utah was when I had to cover a football game at Brigham Young University, and being at the stadium in PROVO was beautiful, especially with seeing the Wasatch Mountains in the background (39A: [Seat of Utah County, Utah]). Felt so bad that I didn’t take a picture of that, but maybe I’ll head back to Utah soon enough. (Probably not, but I’ll leave it as “never say never” type of scenario.) Getting a little hungry, so will have to head out now, but not before this…

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARENA (69A: [Detroit’s Joe Louis _____]) – If you had plans of heading to one of the iconic hockey venues in the country, Joe Louis ARENA, you better do so in the next few months. The arena, completed in 1979 and named after boxing great Joe Louis, is set for demolition in 2017, when the Detroit Red Wings move out of “The Joe” and into a new downtown venue, Little Caesars Arena, starting in the fall of 2017.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


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33 Responses to Saturday, April 30, 2016

  1. sbmanion says:

    Did anyone else put GOMOKU instead of GOBANG? That held me up for quite a while. I had never heard of the American or is it British name for this Chinese/Japanese game.

    I started out very quickly in the NW (despite not entirely understanding FACEPLANT), but had trouble with the rest of the puzzle.


  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I was totally Ojai’d by 13d and 38a, and had to cheat to get them to make progress. The only context I know for “face plant” is skiing and I think the clue should have referred to it. On dry land, don’t don’t you break your ulna catching yourself before you go face first? I found it a tedious slog, eventually getting through it, though in retrospect there were things I liked — e.g. JohnQ Public, and the H.L. Mencken quote, though there are *many* things to not like about H.L. Mencken. The Moscato clue was OK, but it’s awful, syrupy stuff. None of my chimp friends are named Jocko. I was thinking Bonzo. I kept trying to stretch ‘somatic’ and for a long time couldn’t come up with anatomic.

    What I call 5 in a row is a terrific, challenging game, a bit like tic tac toe on steroids. You play it on graph paper with an effectively infinite amount of space — i.e. there are no edges to the playing surface to act as a crutch. Try it some time. The name describes the game.

    • sbmanion says:

      I realized this morning that the trip was a trip and fall and not an LSD experience, but even so I agree with you that a trip is unlikely to result in a face plant.

      The skiing connection resonated for me. After Buffalo’s infamous Blizzard of ’77, I took up skiing the next year with total commitment. I was very aggressive, but not very good at first. One night (Buffalo has night skiing), I had an incredible and scary face plant on a slope that was generously labeled blue (green is easiest, blue is intermediate and black is hardest). A 10-year-old girl quickly skied over to me and asked me if I needed help. It was embarrassing for a self-proclaimed great athlete.


  3. ArtLvr says:

    NYT – Lots of false starts — starting with CORPORAL for ANATOMIC. Tough puzzle! Never heard of FACEPLANT.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    The LAT simply will not load for me. Is anyone else having that problem?

    WSJ — Perhaps it has merits, but no puzzle should be that annoying.

    • Papa John says:

      Send me your email address and I’ll forward the LAT puzzle to you.


  5. ktd says:

    NYT: Yesterday’s puzzle and this one were like night and day: breezed through Friday, took 25 minutes to finish today. Very satisfying to finally get it right! I don’t understand [Advance men?] for MASHERS–can anyone clarify this?

  6. Gary R says:

    DNF for me on the NYT today. Just couldn’t make sense of the northwest corner. Had FSHARP at 1-D, and then, thinking of a different sort of trip, put Flashback in at 1-A, and couldn’t convince myself to let go of it.

    I’m okay with SWEEPERS. My Mom used to refer to the vacuum cleaner as the sweeper.

    • Martin says:

      I think “sweepers” are people. That certainly sounds ok.

      We had a “carpet sweeper.” It wasn’t the vacuum, but a separate contraption that was mechanical and picked up schmutz with bristles on rollers. It was lighter than the vac and was kept with the broom. It was a lot quicker to use than hauling out the Electrolux. I think the carpet sweeper was replaced by the “electric broom,” the forerunner of the Dust Buster. A lightweight vacuum cleaner on a stick, it was more effective but tended to burn out when used as a replacement for the Electrolux. My dad could never throw anything away (he saved burned out light bulbs and periodically tested his collection to see if any filaments had grown back) and we found the Graveyard of the Electric Brooms in the attic. There were over a half-dozen of them lined up neatly over some joists.

  7. Norm says:

    LAT: it’s tax law, not taxation law. I don’t even think a law school would title a court that way. Minor nit in a very enjoyable puzzle.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Jim, if you’re tired of reviewing puzzles, I’ll spell you for a while. :-)(Well, maybe not)

  9. David L says:

    Well, that was a struggle. No idea about SLAPJACK and GOBANG, and didn’t care for CAGEIN or MASHERS (I thought the latter might have something to do with sleds, but that would be mushers).

    I had LOGIN at 6D, which gave me AMENHITEP — that didn’t look right, and I corrected it to O, but that strikes me as a bad cross.

    Some great stuff — KNAVERY, DYSPEPSIA, KNEEHOLE — but a lot of names that were not familiar to me (HEGOTGAME, HEYLOVER, PONCE).

    I would like to see a well-researched list of the most common chimp names to see where JOCKO comes in.

    • Papa John says:

      I can’t attest for the popularity of the name Jocko for chimpanzees but there is well-known toy called Jocko the Monkey. Jocko is also an African name for chimpanzee or monkey. has jocko (lower case J) meaning chimpanzee as its first entry.

    • sbmanion says:

      I would think that CHEETA, BONZO, and BUBBLES would all be more well-known than JOCKO.


      • Bencoe says:

        My kind of related chimp story: I went to a charity silent auction tonight and my wife won the chimp/orangutan sanctuary tour. Bubbles, Michael “JaCKO” Jackson’s chimp, lives there.

        • Bencoe says:

          Sorry, but now that I see that you mentioned Bubbles, it’s more related than I thought! I did tell my wife, “Well, Bubbles is the most famous chimpanzee in the world! Along with Bonzo, the most famous of all time!” (I temporarily forgot about Cheetah.)

  10. David L says:

    The Stumper was easier for me today than the NYT. That’s a rarity.

    Is OTTO FOCUS supposed to be a pun on AUTOFOCUS or OUT OF FOCUS? Could go either way for me.

  11. Beth says:

    LAT: Las Vagas, New Mexico, is near Santa Fe.

    • Margaret says:

      Ahh!! Thanks for this. I very nearly confidently put in a much closer capital, Carson City, Nevada (it also fit) before I played it safe and checked some crossings. Didn’t occur to me that maybe it was a different Las Vegas.

  12. animalheart says:

    As one who has executed a flamboyant FACEPLANT on an icy street in Manhattan and ended up in the ER of the (now-gone) St. Vincent’s Hospital in the Village, I can attest that it is indeed possible to do on dry land, when one is carrying a laptop case in one hand and a briefcase in the other. And I’ve got the forehead scar to prove it!

    Liked this one a lot more than others did. Didn’t know GOBANG but did know MAGNETO.

    • Papa John says:

      I suffer from neuropathy in my legs, which will, occasionally, cause me to fall. I had a FACEPLANT from a fall in my dining room while I was carrying my then thee-year-old grandson. I was using my arms to hold him out and prevent him from hitting as hard as I did. It worked. He came up all smiles, yelling, “Do it again! Do it again!” Sadly, that was the last time I carried him.

      • huda says:

        Papa John,
        That’s too bad. I had a postdoc who would have fainting spells due to sudden changes in atmospheric pressure and he had a similar experience and stopped carrying his kids.
        Your story also reminded me of my first winter living on a hillside in Michigan. Driving the kids to school during an ice storm, a car ahead of me went sliding out of control, I had to hit the break and our car spun around close to 360 degrees. It was terrifying, and my son went: “Wow! Do it again!”…. funny little creatures.

        • Bencoe says:

          I had a terrible FACEPLANT from a trip a few months ago. I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, and in the pitch blackness hit my foot on a free-weight I had left on the floor. Hit the ground hard and my tooth went through my lower lip. No fun.

  13. Karen says:

    As a third generation native Californian, I was surprised to see Derek refer to San Rafael as “obscure”! Alas my provincialism is showing.

  14. Greg says:

    I also was wedded for a while to “flashback” in 1A. It worked so nicely with “F-sharp” and “anatomic.”

    A struggle, but an enjoyable one.

  15. gg says:

    NYT: don’t get the “f sharp” connection at all. Anyone clarify? Thx.

  16. huda says:

    I came here to say that I had plunked HAS TO PEE and was disappointed when it didn’t work. That would have been the highlight of this puzzle which gave me DYSPEPSIA…
    I need to tell my daughter that she’s married to a Golden Horder, and she’s expecting a reductive, half Golden Horder…
    Amy, I’m hoping that her kid will be as handsome as yours…

  17. Jason F says:

    NYT: Great challenge. Right on the edge of what I can complete, so very satisfying to finish it.

  18. Shawn P says:

    WSJ: For a good time, check out the reviews on Amazon for HARIBO sugar free gummy bears.

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