Byron Walden and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Pretty much what I crave from a Saturday NYT here. Dense, well-stacked grid with lots of good fill and a healthy dose of tricksy cluing. But also a puzzle that yields with enough pressure. It leads the solver astray, but leaves various threads to pull (“Irish pennants”?).
The obscure stuff seems well distributed. That is, non-sportsy people will need help filling in 21a [Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dan] ISSEL, the NIT Season Tip-Off (37a), perhaps some others. Similarly, 30a [Hooked projection on a feather] BARBICEL isn’t something the average Jo knows, nor is 23a VERISMO, the [Opera genre for “Tosca” and “Pagliacci”], et cetera. See? There’s not something for not everyone in this crossword! But of course nobody likes the crosswordese ADIT (29a [Mine entrance]). OLEAN wasn’t so hot either (36a [New York city near the Pennsylvania border]).
In case things were getting too easy, up the difficulty with clues/fill such as 25a [Green curtains?] ECOCIDE (crossing 14d [Ozone layer issue] DEPLETION makes it extra demoralizing, existentially), 17a [1980s electronic innovation from Detroit] TECHNO MUSIC, 42a [Like seven of the 12 presidents between 1869 and 1923] OHIO-BORN (despite this priming, the tacit misdirection of 50d [’60s president] Jefferson DAVIS was still effective), 63a [Ones using slides] TROMBONISTS, 12d [Pride of Moscow?] MISS IDAHO—you know, I could go on with another eight or ten, it’s that kind of crossword; that’s what I’m talking about.
Favorite clues: 31d [Tender towards one’s exes?] ALIMONIES, the mysterious-at-first 48d [Series often seen with S’s on the ends] MTWTF, 35d [Good deal] TWO FOR ONE. I want to like 53d [Common Allen wrench?] ANGST, but it’s trying too hard (Woody Allen, in case the connection isn’t evident).
Mis-fill: 61d [Start of many California place names] SAN for LOS. Mis-fill wannabes: 45a [Conditional construct in computer programming] IF THEN for ELSE IF, 1d [When “Double, double toil and trouble” is chanted in Macbeth] ACT II before ACT IV (oops!), 51d [Some drivers with “slow-moving vehicle” reflectors] AMISH rather than generic-plural-ending-with-S, taking a while to realize 38d includes the definite article: THE ’BURBS. Dupe: 9d [AriZona competitor] NESTEA, 60d [N.L. West team, on scoreboards] ARI.
Fun Saturday challenge.
Gareth Bain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Our man Gareth has today’s LAT challenger. Pretty smooth puzzle, I must say! Didn’t have too much difficulty solving, even through some headache pains this week. (Just got home from the hospital, so at least that is good!) You know you’re addicted to crossword puzzles when you’re still doing them during a bout of meningitis! There is truly something wrong with me! We will rate this puzzle a solid 4.2 stars; the interlock seems effortless. And, per LAT puzzles, virtually no dreck.
- 16A [Indianapolis’ ___ Dome] RCA – This building no longer exists. Was it that iconic even?
- 25A [Film for which Anthony Quinn won an Oscar] VIVA ZAPATA – Never seen it! It is notably NOT on Netflix!
- 44A [Holder of an affectionate message] CANDY HEART – These take us all back to our childhood, don’t they!
- 62A [Fluid accumulation] EDEMA – I think I had a bit of edema this past week…
- 5D [“The Magic School Bus” teacher] MRS. FRIZZLE – I had an error in the puzzle when I first solved it; I couldn’t remember this lady’s name. This also takes me back to childhood, so going back that far is sometimes hard!
- 41D [Its first truck was a Ford Model A] RYDER – Great piece of trivia! Didn’t think Ryder trucking has been around that long!!
Sorry for the slightly short post, but not feeling well still. Have a great weekend!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Just got home from the hospital, so at least now I can get some decent sleep instead of someone poking me for vitals at 3:00 am! Still able to do puzzles, because I am addicted, and Brad’s puzzle today actually wasn’t that torturous! Several tricky spots in there, don’t get me wrong, but maybe I am getting used to how he thinks. A solid 4.4 stars from me today.
- 31A [’39 film whose poster urged, “Don’t pronounce it — see it!”] NINOTCHKA – Never saw this movie either! And it’s not on Netflix either!
- 40A [Songwriter with the most Oscar nominations] SAMMY CAHN – I had to look up what he wrote, and it’s a prolific list. Most famous song appears to be Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! There were several on his Wikipedia page that I recognized. Great piece of trivia in this clue!
- 63A [Operation that captured Saddam] RED DAWN – Also notably the title of the first PG-13 rated movie!
- 1D [Harlow in “The Aviator”] STEFANI – As in Gwen Stefani, the singer. Yup, you guessed it: never saw this movie!
- 32D [Removed mud from, maybe] HOSED DOWN – Great entry. Reminds me of my son’s favorite line from Peewee’s Big Adventure!
- 43D [Bavarian collectibles] HUMMELS – This came up in a puzzle before, and I wasn’t familiar with them then either!
Off to try to get some rest. Have a great weekend!
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Sweet Life” — pannonica
Without a doubt this puzzle is trying to get on my good side this ayem, plying me with theme answers remolded as ostensibly cacao-related. All the clues involve a hypothetical chocoholic, which of course is someone who is addicted to chocohol.
- 23a. [When a chocoholic is under pressure?] CRUNCH TIME.
- 28a. [Keep a chocoholic to a high standard?] RAISE THE BAR.
- 35a. [Some data on a chocoholic’s computer?] BROWSER COOKIES.
- 54a. [Chocoholic’s favorite Grammy-winning blues rock band?] ALABAMA SHAKES, led by Brittany Howard.
- 69a. [Chocoholic’s favorite romantic song?] SEALED WITH A KISS.
- 87a. [What sycophantic chocoholics earn?] BROWNIE POINTS.
- 100a. [Something extra special for a chocoholic?] ICING ON THE CAKE.
- 110a. [What a chocoholic statistician uses to avoid error?] FUDGE FACTOR.
- 122a. [Chocoholic’s destination in Florida?] COCOA BEACH.
Can’t hate this one, even if the thematic lineup isn’t exceptionally overwhelming. Moving on, Not part of the theme: 59a [Sweet songs?] EAR CANDY, 77a [Nutty liqueurs] AMARETTOS (specifically, almond-flavored), 105d [Sugar source] CANE.
- 84a [Puts down] KOS. No doubt in the wake of his death many of you have recently seen or have been reminded of that iconic photograph of Muhammad Ali standing menacingly over a listless Sonny Liston, SHOT (119d) by NEIL LEIFER in ’65.
- Combining the puzzle’s title with a couple carefully chosen entries, one can’t help but think of of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. 17d [“La citta eterna”] ROMA, 120a [Stressful type: Abbr.] ITAL. The cast includes ANITA Ekberg (famously cavorting in the TREVI fountain, ANOUK AIMÉE, ALAIN CUNY, MAGALI NOËL, NADIA GRAY, and the score is by none other than NINO ROTA.
- 56d [Angel’s opposite] BRAT. Mmm, brat food cake.
- 66d [“__ hoppen?!”] WHA.
- 86a [Place on a pedestal] IDEALIZE. 62a [Perfect places] UTOPIAS. Just a friendly reminder that UTOPIA literally means ‘non-existent place’.
- 20a [Met expectations?] OPERAS. This would be a great, tough clue without the question mark. As it stands, it’s still quite good.
- 115a [Brings to a boil] INCENSES. Possibly a double-boil. Especially if one IRES (72d) beforehand.
- Lesser fill: 6d [Soaks in water] RETS, 24d [Loc. of 46-Across] NORW (46a is OSLO), 28d [Seoul soldier] ROK, 29d [Astros, on scoreboards] HOU, 71d [Opel model] KADETT, 92a [Big name in bowling alleys] AMF, 18d Salon worker] DYER.
- 50a [Islamic devil] SHAITAN. Yes, it shares an etymology with ‘Satan’. But it’s also what a vegetarian Sean Connery eats when he wants a change of pace from TOFU.
- 67d [Reindeer-herding people] SAMI. This term is much preferable to the outdated and insensitive LAPP, which still has life in crosswords.
- 4a [Nice round figure] CIRCLE, 81a [Doughnuts and bagels] TOROIDS, 116d [Raid the fridge] NOSH. Numnom.
I prefer my chocolate bittersweet; crosswords, less so. This one was mostly enjoyable.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Unplugged” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! Still galavanting around San Francisco as we speak, but definitely had some time to do some crosswords and stop by here with a review of today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman. Coincidentally enough, my hotel was next to UN Plaza here in San Fran, and the theme of today’s grid was adding those letters consecutively in the middle of other well-known terms to create puns.
- MOUND SQUAD (17A: [Grounds crew?]) – Mod Squad.
- FLAUNT BREAD (30A: [Show off a wad of dinero?]) – Flat bread.
- ESCAPE POUND (49A: [Break out of an animal shelter?]) – Escape pod.
- BRASS HAUNT (65A: [Officers club?]) – Brass hat.
Definitely had a slow start on the Northeast, as, for some reason, I wasn’t confident putting down ROOM at first although it seemed pretty obvious (2D: [Part of a presidential suite]). Loved the fill of, as well the clue for MULLIGAN, even if I’m such a terrible golfer and haven’t stepped on a golf course in more than a decade (21A: [Duffer’s do-over]). I’ll admit that I played way too many video games growing up (mostly sports games and anything with Carmen Sandiego) and I definitely didn’t get BRAIN ROT (10D: [Result of playing too many video games, say]). OK, maybe there was a little bit of rotting, but it was all in fun and helped balance my childhood. Before heading out to walk in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, I can’t help but feel heartened by all of the posts and tributes celebrating the LIFE of Muhammad Ali, as “The Greatest” passed away yesterday at 74 (23A: “____ is full of misery, loneliness and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon” (Woody Allen)]) Love live The Champ!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DAMON (34A: [Actor who will be Bourne again in 2016]) – Somehow possibly being as beloved in the Massachusetts area than the Cambridge-born actor of the same surname, former Major League Baseball player Johnny DAMON will be best known as the person who hit the Grand Slam in the second inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees, giving the BoSox a 6-0 lead on their way to completing their epic comeback in the series against their blood rivals. Oh, and then there’s this great nugget: Damon is only one of 11 players in Major League history to have at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 100 triples and 200 home runs in a career. The other 10 players on the list are all Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, George Brett, Paul Molitor, Al Simmons, Goose Goslin and Robin Yount.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
dazzling themeless from gareth in the LAT today! really fun solve
Agreed! Note that it’s MS FRIZZLE, not Mrs. Get well soon, Derek!
Excellent NYT. Started very quickly in the NW, but slowed down in each subsequent section. I agree that MTWTF was a superb misdirection. So was DAVIS.
Dan ISSEL was a great basketball player with the University of Kentucky, Kentucky in the ABA and Denver in the ABA then the NBA after the ABA/NBA merger. He was on the Board of Directors of Centennial Turf Club, a Denver area racetrack that I handled the sale of to the Talley Corporation in the early ’80s.
I’m surprised both you and panonnica missed the chance to mention Mohammad Ali’s passing. Rest in peace, Champ.
As is so often the case, I don’t know what you mean. You did mention Ali in your WSJ review but not his death.
Ah. I wasn’t explicit enough. Minor edit to make it more topical.
I hadn’t heard at the time I posted. I met Ali in 1971 at my college senior class dinner. He was the most charismatic person of my lifetime. RIP.
It appears that I am now permanently excluded from the ability to download and print the LAT. I doubt that there is anything anyone here can do about it, but I figured I would make a last desperate appeal. When I click on the LAT icon of the Today’s Puzzles screen, I get the “Your game will begin shortly” screen.” I wait a long time — 60 – 120 seconds, then I get a “Skip Ad” button (though there is no ad playing) and I click on it. But then the whole idea of downloading the puzzle evaporates and it jumps to a screen with random small features and ads.
I have corresponded with the LAT Games and Leisure section, and they couldn’t give me a reason for this, but they suggested that I “update my flash player”. I confess that I have no idea what this means, or what a flash player is, though it’s one of those pieces of computer jargon that I hear all the time. But I took my computer into the shop, and they assured me that I had the latest version of flash player installed, and they even reinstalled it for me to be sure. So I guess the LAT puzzle is a thing of the past for me.
You might try accessing it using a different browser. On my computer, I can get the puzzle to load just fine in Firefox or Chrome, but with Internet Explorer I get a result similar to what you describe.
Both Flash and Java based platforms have numerous issues of this kind. The NNAPI version is especially noted for problems with download/print. Meanwhile, using IE works. However, part of the biggest problem with the LAT platform is that they throw up so much ad clutter that any of their games sections are neigh useless and take minutes to load on fast connections.
To wit though, both Flash and Java have been considered deprecated in favor of HTML5 for a very long time, so any platform using either puts one up for security issues. Besides this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that no online crossword platform works properly besides Buzzfeed’s (which IIRC is indeed HTML5).
How long, do you reckon, before we’ll be completely rid of Java and Flash? It’s not soon enough for me!
I read IIRC that there will be no Flash 22, so I think Adobe’s ended the Flash game, though they still support it. Most of their content creation stuff has been pushing more towards HTML5 lately I know for sure. I know Google (Chrome and Android) and Firefox have been pushing towards ending Flash support entirely.
As far as Java goes, most browsers block it by default now, which means you got to go to a lot of work to even get a Java thing to run much less run well (looking right at you WSJ). Java’s in too many devices outside of PC browsers for Oracle to care, but hopefully enough web content providers will see what most of the rest of us see and start kicking it off their sites.
Have you tried going to the Cruciverb.com site? You can register for free and then you can log-in and download the AcrossLite version of today’s LAT puzzle. There’s even an archive.
The last time this issue came up with Bruce, I directed him to Kevin’s site. I’m not sure if he did that. (I’m unable to get it on this site, because Dave’s LAT link gives me “Cannot find page” error. It works fine on Cruciverb.com.) With all the hassles associated with Java and Flash ( I spent about an hour, yesterday, trying to prevent Fire Fox from crashing due to Flash), I’m not sure why anyone who downloads and prints the puzzles would use anything but Across Lite.
BTW, I also emailed Bruce today’s LAT.
NYT really kicked me around but was well done. A few quibbles. IRL is typically how Ireland is abbreviated; as someone who’s part Irish, abbreviating it IRE seems a little culturally insensitive (though not nearly as much as the plot to MOGAMBO, which seems driven by “restless natives”). Also didn’t love the repeat of E.M.S. in the SW, particularly with about 7000 other ways to clue AID. Lumping Herman Munster in with Homer Simpson as INEPT seems a tad harsh too. But ERNESTINE was worth the price of admission.
Loved the WSJ, being a chocoholic. Especially appreciated the FUDGE FACTOR!
Thanks to all who reacted and responded. I will work on your suggestions.
you can also just try emptying your cache/history/whatever. I find that cures a multitude of connectivity issues. That and rebooting are my two go-to’s before I call my tech guys. :)
I have not found much help in newspaper tech help sites. I received this from the NYT when I wrote to them about a problem accessing the comments on their Wordplay site:
‘Thank you for contacting us. In response to your inquiry, the Comment section is located within the each article of the WordPlay Blog.
Please click/tap the article of which you would like to make a comment. The Comment bubble will be located at the top and bottom of each article. The Comment Section is no longer located on the Main Page of the WordPlay Blog. ‘ I later found out the problem was likely due to an Ad Blocker.
Sigh, KPH in the Stumper. It’s just wrong*. Please, constructors, the metric world analogue to MPH is KMH, if the unit is even given at all.
* A little bit of google image searching suggests that *maybe* *some* Australian and NZ signs use “kph”?