Friday, July 1, 2016

CS untimed (Ade) 


LAT 8:37 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:25 (Amy) 


Off week for CHE.

James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 1 16, no 0701

NY Times crossword solution, 7 1 16, no 0701

Wow, this puzzle depressed me. First I hit 37d. [One handling an OD], ER DOCTOR. This made me think about Prince and other people who have died of overdoses. I wish the clue had cited a broken foot or a kitchen injury, something less likely to end in tragedy and broken-hearted families. Then I hit 41d. [Teases, in older usage], LOLITAS. Memo to constructors: Do not ever put this gross word in a grid. Conceivably, you could clue it awkwardly as [Classroom stack of Nabokov novels] or something, but this particular clue is absolutely awful. “Teases”? No, no, no. I’ve heard too many true stories recently of adolescents being sexually assaulted by grown men, including by their fathers, so any hint of “tease” and the title character Lolita appalls me. (Children cannot consent to sex. It doesn’t matter in the slightest if their behavior could be construed by an adult as “teasing.” It’s incumbent on the adult to keep the child safe, and not commit sexual assault.) In 2016, I don’t know how an editor accepts a grid with LOLITAS in it.

Okay. Moving on (which I can do because I was fortunate enough not to have been assaulted as a child, and thus am not beset by traumatic memories evoked by the crossword). (And because I’m not a Japanese person for whom NAGASAKI‘s appearance here might be triggering.) Favorite fill: The SQUARE BRACKET that I use to set off clues. “DOUBT IT.” CANBERRA, Australia’s capital. TOTE BAG appearing instead of the more common TOTE. TEXAS BBQ. SULU SEA. EPIDURAL (Public service alert! If you ever have an epidural and find yourself with a horrible headache afterwards whenever you aren’t lying flat, tell your doctor you have a spinal headache. They can fix it!). FANTASY BASEBALL (which was created, as Rotisserie Baseball, by crossworder Daniel Okrent). The Jim Carrey movie LIAR, LIAR (though it’s a tad dated now, we did enjoy the movie). TAILGATE.

Four more things:

  • 7a. [Driver’s hazards], FLASHERS. I call the hazard lights blinkers.
  • 15a. [Not divisible, as a job], ONE-MAN. Wait. What is there about someone doing a job that is specifically male? Maybe the clue should be [Not divisible, as a sperm donor’s job].
  • 44a. [One-on-one basketball play, slangily], ISO. Had to ask my family what the heck this means. It’s short for isolation, they tell me.
  • 2d. [Brazilian city name that sounds like a U.S. state capital], ANAPOLIS. You don’t say. Never heard of this place. Brazil has 66 cities that are bigger. Can you even name 10 of them?

2.5 stars from me, because of all the unpleasantnesses taking the puzzle out of the “diverting leisure activity” realm.

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Picture Frames” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.01.16: "Picture Frames"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.01.16: “Picture Frames”

Welcome to July, everyone! Man, one half of the year is officially over. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, loads up on theme entries. Four long theme entries going across are multiple-word answers in which the beginning and ending letters can combine to form a word related synonymous with motion pictures, while four other shorter theme entries – a pair of intersecting answers – let us in on the gimmick.

  • MOVING SALE (17A: [It may be used to clean out before clearing out]), (49D: [Picture “framing” the answer to 17-Across]).
  • CREDIT LINE (32A: [Borrower’s limit]), (64A: [Picture “framing” the answer to 32-Across])
  • FIRST PSALM (40A: [Old Testament poem that begins Blessed is the man that walketh…”]), (10A: [Picture “framing” the answer to 40-Across])
  • FLIGHT DECK (59A: [Top of a flattop]), (10D: [Picture “framing” the answer to 40-Across])

A while back, I read an article as to why SPITBALLS, commonly used in the dead ball era of baseball (and still surreptitiously used despite its illegality), went away (4D: [Illegal pitches]). It was interesting to read a quote from a former Major League pitcher, Mike Maddux (brother of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux), in which he said that the split-finger fastball that was mastered by Bruce Sutter (pronounced SOO-ter) in the 1980s mimicked the same sinking/disappearing action that a doctored baseball would have when throwing it. If you’re interested in reading about the history of the spitball, here you go. Besides, it’s better to think about this version of a spitball than the one you might have been hit with in the back of the head when sitting in class in elementary school. Straightforward solve, as per usual, but now the grid has made me hungry with LASAGNA (43D: [Trattoria offering]). Time for lunch.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NORI (35D: [“Me, neither”]) – Let’s turn crosswordese into legitimate fill, shall we?! Major League Baseball player Norichika “NORI” Aoki is currently an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners. After playing in the Japanese League (NPB) from 2004 to 2011, Aoki was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers before the beginning of the 2012 season. Aoki’s first year in the Majors (2012) saw him steal 30 bases with the Brewers, and he was an integral member of the Kansas City Royals’ 2014 pennant-winning team.

Have a great rest of your Friday everyone! See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 160701

LA Times

Really loved the way Jeff Chen executed today what is, at its heart, a pretty basic theme. There are four themers that all begin with the pattern “?OVER”. The over is missing, and the first letter sits about the theme entry, and is probably circled in your grid. At first blush, the theme answers made no sense, which forces one to dig deeper and uncover the gimmick – creating I think a pleasing “a-ha” moment.

Entries are:

  • (SOVER)EIGNSTATE, […Self-ruled entity]
  • (POVER)TYREDUCTION, […Huminatarian goal]
  • (COVER)TOPERATIONS, […Undercover mission]
  • (GOVER)NMENTDEBT, […Concern of the Fed]

The theme is not that dense, but I think the single letter caps created additional design challenges. There are paired 9-letter downs in the top-right and bottom-left. Of those, LEOPARDESS is an off-beat feminine form for sure! Going across from the bottom pair is the 8 letter TELEPATH, clued as [One who really gets in your head?], TELEPATH. Are we sure about that “really”? Really??


  • [Where many kids squirm], PEW is a very evocative clue!
  • [Mercyhurst University city], ERIE. My crossword-ese reflex to E?I? was ENID not ERIE here…
  • [2007 Acer acquisition], GATEWAY is a peculiarly esoteric clue for that. I know it because I know my computer brands, but given I’ve had for example AMD rejected as too obscure, it’s a surprising clue choice…
  • [Dead man walking], GONER. Veterinary case notes black humour – for a case with a poor prognosis – “don’t buy the big bag of pet food”.
  • [Home run ___], TROT. Don’t know this phrase, but I imagine it’s similar to in cricket when you know the ball is headed for the boundary and you half shuffle forward out of habit?

4 Stars

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Friday, July 1, 2016

  1. PhilR says:

    a) What Amy said, and
    b) Humbert Humbert was an (classic) unreliable narrator – the depiction of Lolita in the book was not accurate, but how an inveterate pederast perceived her to be. The man was a psycho, and people are willing to accept his description of his prey at face value? Further, does anyone really think Nabokov was that simple?

  2. Nagasaki says:

    Nagasaki is the name of a city. That people live in. Today. Amy, do you know of anyone, anywhere, whose PTSD is triggered by hearing the name of a city that a bad thing happened to 70 years ago? Do you feel you need to tread lightly around someone who can’t hear “New York” without thinking of 9/11? How far do you take it? Should I be careful with the word “rome” because some people might remember that the eternal city was sacked by the Visigoths?

    Is it possible that you’re just adding your voice to the outrage because you want people to think that you’re a good person?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Is it possible that you’re upset that I (and others) am calling out the horrific LOLITAS because you want to preserve male supremacy?

      • Nagasaki says:

        Is it possible that you’re upset that I (and others) am calling out the horrific LOLITAS because you want to preserve male supremacy?

        You got me! Is it working?

  3. Ben Smith says:

    Yeah, that LOLITAS cluing was straight-up gross. “In older usage”, sure, but there are lots of older usage terms that we don’t use anymore because we realize they’re hurtful to people.

    I kept trying to make “Amelia Earhart, e.g.” AVIATRIX until I somehow pulled the tagline for LIAR LIAR out of some dusty corner of my brain that remembered that movie came out in 1997 and changed it. Totally pulled the LESTAT musical out of thin air too, figuring that totally had to have had an adaptation by 2006.

    “Green grocery choice” had me thinking it was something about bringing your own bag, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to succinctly put that in seven squares until I had most of the acrosses for TOTE BAG in place. My city just recently put an ordinance in place that got rid of all plastic bags and encourages you to bring your own bag, so I now have a sturdy reusable bag I keep in my messenger bag at all times. I love it – totally worth the extra dollar I paid when I bought it at the store, and no more dealing with a paper bag’s handles breaking mid-walk home because I tried to pack too much into it!

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I put AVIATRIX in as well and left it there longer than I should have. If we have to gender the term, I prefer AVIATRIX. It’s just a nicer word.

      • Papa John says:

        Reusable tote bags are the only way to go.

        Some 20 million plastic grocery bags are used very hour in the US, alone. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year. Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.

        Is it any wonder our oceans are becoming a plastics sewer?

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    I want to thank you for being here, Amy. When I filled in LOLITAS, my first thought was unprintable. My second was “I know Amy spoke out about this.” The work you do is often thankless, so…thank you.

    And what Phil said.

  5. Sandra Stark says:

    Total blech. Air woman? Lolita as a verb? Fies ??
    Is Will Short still compos mentas?

    • Zulema says:

      Hi, you meant “mentis.” Call it a typo. I agree with you on those horrible entries. Instead of FIES I foolishly entered INRI. Lately much of what is in the puzzles seems to be for laughs. I was also surprised by NAGASAKI.

    • Lois says:

      Sandra, you most likely will not see this reply, but if you’ve read the comments you’ve probably figured out that LOLITAS is being used as a noun in this puzzle. The discussions elsewhere here are enough, but there is intentional ambiguity in the clue about the part of speech.

  6. Giovanni P. says:

    Yeah, methinks LOLITAS doesn’t really pass the breakfast test, literary reference or not. Though I haven’t personally read the book, I’ve heard what it’s about. Much more questionable than Nagasaki IMO, though I don’t know what to make of the posts by him and Amy above. They seem to be talking about two different things…

    I’ll refrain from posting garbage though. The real deal does the whole “PC run amok” better than I can do in parody. Enjoy Reddit.

  7. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Oh, that kind of “hazards”! Thanks. I was imagining drivers getting dangerously distracted by this kind of thing.

    As for 16:AIRWOMAN, fortunately I knew the piece used to clue 12D:E_MAJOR, so wasn’t tempted to enter AVIATRIX though I noticed the potential trap. [Come to think of it, is there any answer to such a musical clue that could match *R**** ?] The nickname “Tristesse” (sadness) is not the one Chopin gave to the étude that features what he considered the loveliest melody he ever wrote.


  8. Steve Manion says:

    The NBA outlawed zone defenses for many years. Now they are legal except that the defense cannot place a man in the lane by himself (i,e,, not guarding someone).

    In the old days, one of the common plays was for a back-to-the-basket player such as Charles Barkley to catch the ball in the post and use his bulk to get closer and closer to the basket to then take a shot. The other offensive players would move as far away from the basket as possible taking their defenders with them. This was the classic “iso” play.

    The modern game, which has largely neutralized the back to the basket big man, has made the true iso play less common, although teams are always looking for an advantage such as isolating a tall shooting guard on a shorter defender.

    I found the W to be tough and the E pretty easy. I did not know CHARCUTERIE (nice word).

    I understand the concern about LOLITAS, but am constantly amazed that words like IDI and SESE do not draw any complaints.


    • Ben Smith says:

      In the past few years, I realized that the CHARCUTERIE plate at my local hipster brewery-that-also-serves-food was essentially a grown-up Lunchables. It has only made me order charcuterie plates more.

  9. Shteyman says:

    Raise your hand if you confidently entered SAO PAULO at 2D, deeming it a close enough “homonym” of St. Paul. When some of the crossings didn’t work, it really helped being from Maryland (and only 20 minutes away from Annapolis). Also entered _MINOR at 12D, thinking “Tristesse” was a hint. I will have more respect for Friday difficulty level now. Liked all the scrabbly answers, but wasn’t a fan of the STUPA/FIES/RIMA subsection.

    Re: EPIDURAL – a terrible headache is a lot more common after a spinal, where the anesthesiologist intentionally punctures the dura. A spinal headache after an epidural can happen if a). there was an inadvertent dural puncture during epidural placement with the larger needle (and your doctor would usually know about it before you did) or b). you got something called a CSE (combined spinal-epidural), where the risk of a headache is about 1 in 800 because the spinal needle is so small.

  10. Zulema says:

    Can someone explain ORIENTAL as the answer to “Light blue partner of Connecticut and Vermont”?

    • Noam D. Elkies says:
      • Zulema says:

        NOAM, thank you. Not something I would know.

        • Noam D. Elkies says:

          You’re welcome. It’s not like I knew it either. My guess happened to be right but the clue was not of much use. Well it’s Friday so it’s evidently too much to expect a clue for ORIENTAL to have anything to do with the actual word…

    • Gareth says:

      Monopoly, I think. In traditional RSA Monopoly those are Marine Parade, Smith Street and West Street though.

  11. Paul Dalton says:

    Lolitas was just awful. The really bad thing about ‘Nagasaki’ is it’s placement over ‘destroy’. Shudder. I found the ‘oneman’ and ‘airwoman’ an odd pair. It felt appropriately Friday solve, but absolutely ruined by some unpleasantness. I enjoyed the LAT puzzle today. It took me too long to get the trick, but it was nice when I did and it fell pretty quickly once I was on to it.

  12. Margaret says:

    Gareth, re the LAT, when you hit a home run in baseball, it means you (and anyone ahead of you) automatically score. You have to circle all the bases and the run scores when you cross home plate. Since the ball has been hit out of the park, there’s no need to run fast to beat the throw, thus the home run trot. There are a whole lot of unwritten baseball rules about the home run trot. Someone who admires their home run before starting the trot, or someone who goes too slowly to “show up” the pitcher is liable to get a ball “accidentally” thrown at them in their next at-bat. Yeah, baseball is a crazy game.

Comments are closed.