Saturday, November 12, 2016

CS 8:09 (Ade) 


LAT 18:24 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:37 (Derek) 


NYT 7:30 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 11 12 16, no 1112

NY Times crossword solution, 11 12 16, no 1112

In addition to the matrix of three Across and two Down 15s, there’s a central Down 13 that’s actually a 17. The comma in “NEW YORK, NEW YORK” gets rebus action in the SECOND {COMMA}NDMENT. Cute! I expect some people will cry foul, since they’re not expecting a tricky gimmick in a Saturday puzzle. But maybe once a year or so, a “themeless” NYT puzzle gets a twist. I’m good with that.

Let’s look at the other long fill. SUPER BOWL CHAMPS is, of course, inferior to something like WORLD SERIES CHAMPS in 2016. HOME PHONE NUMBER is fine with me, but irrelevant to a great many people who only have mobile phones. GETS INTO TROUBLE is solid. REPORT GENERATOR is mighty dull and unfamiliar to me.

Elsewhere in the puzzle:

  • 1a. [End of a match, in rugby], NO SIDE. Never heard this term before. I’m American.
  • 20a. [___ Miller, “Ah, Wilderness!” woman], ESSIE. The only ESSIE I know is the nail polish brand.
  • 25a. [Overnight letter?], INN. Meh. Does anyone use “letter” to mean “one who lets out rooms”?
  • 51a. [6’11” Kanter of the N.B.A.], ENES. Hey! I’ve seen that name before. He’s Turkish. I bet a lot of solvers (in the non-sports-fan category) would have preferred “ERES Tu” crossing Richard GERE to ENES/GENE, though.
  • 5d. [Dad-blamed], DERN. Now, this also clues DARN. Avoiding Laura or Bruce DERN clues because NO SIDE is hard for American solvers, perhaps?
  • 34d. [Rap’s Flo ___], RIDA. He’s also a singer and songwriter, and works in EDM (electronic dance music) as well as hip-hip and hip house. Can’t help feeling an awful lot of black recording artists get clued by way of rap, no matter how much singing they do. I mean, about half the time Queen LATIFAH is in crosswords, she’s clued via rap or hip-hop, but she’s an amazing singer as well.
  • The SERENE, EDENIC, AWED, “I’M GLAD,” DREAMT, CALMED set of answers is nice, no? Breathe in, breathe out.
  • AS RED, SIB, OSH, PLAN A, ASLOPE, a solid “meh.” Plural AMYS, well … if you must pluralize a name, this is a good one to choose!

3.75 stars from me.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Station Break” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.12.16: "Station Break"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.12.16: “Station Break”

Good morning, people! Hope you all are doing well to begin your station. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is all about a good time at the gas station. The first words of each of the first four theme entries represent either the status of a car’s gas tank or an action taken to fill one’s gas tank. The fifth theme entry, GAS UP, acts as the reveal (67A: [Take on fuel, in a routine suggested by the first words of 20-, 34-, 41-, and 55-Across]).

  • EMPTY PROMISE (20A: [Meaningless guarantee])
  • PUMP-ACTION (34A: [Like some shotguns])
  • FULL NELSON (41A: [Illegal wrestling hold])
  • PAY ATTENTION (55A: [Listen carefully])

Initially had my doubts that DOZY was going to be an entry before filling in its crossing and confirming it to me that it was right (10A: [On the way out?]). Can’t say that I’ve ever heard that word used too many times, or if at all. Also, I had first put in “smear” for SMOCK, which definitely tells me that I was not born to be a painter…or at least a good one (26D: [Art class cover-up]). Fun grid to do, and liked the long downs in the middle with SPIRITUAL (6D: [Godly]) and PROTOTYPE (36D: [Preliminary model]). Only long-lasting effect of doing the grid is having MELISSA and her song stuck in my head right now (9D: [“Come to My Window” singer Etheridge]) Well, that’s not that bad at all. If I have that tune in my head all the way through my trip to Washington DC that I’m embarking on in the next couple hours, then we might have a little issue.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOO (59D: [“You stink!”]) – Once a former Top 25 golfer in the world, Thomas “BOO” Weekley has won three PGA Tour events in his career, the last coming in 2013. In 2008, he was an influential part of the American Ryder Cup team that defeated Team Europe, as Weekley earned the USA squad 2.5 points and went 2-0-1 in that year’s competition.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Keeping Company” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/15/16 • "Keeping Company" • Sat • Burnikel • solution

WSJ • 11/15/16 • “Keeping Company” • Sat • Burnikel • solution

Phrases containing the reversed names of corporations within them. The clues fancifully evoke both components. Relevant squares have been circled for clarity.

  • 116aR [Working again, and a hint to the hidden companies in this puzzle] BACK TO BUSINESS. “Back” suggesting that their appearances are backwards.
  • 22a. [Perjury committed by an electric auto giant] FALSE TESTIMONY (Tesla).
  • 28a. [“Tapestry” singer whose endorsement is sought by a footwear giant\ CAROLE KING (Nike).
  • 40a. [Produce provider covered by a insurance giant] LOCAL FARMER (Aflac).
  • 64a. [Like the knowledgeable staff of a computer giant] WELL-EDUCATED (Dell).
  • 71a. [Warehouse concern of a video game giant] STORAGE SPACE (Sega).
  • 91a. [Sports fan’s getaway sponsored by a retail giant] FANTASY CAMP (Macy’s).
  • 109a. [Cold discomfort at an electronics and entertainment giant] STUFFY NOSE (Sony).

All of the hidden names span the gap between the two words of the answers; for the sole hyphenated answer, it spans the hyphenated gap between the two component words.

Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-03-36-pmThis is a first for me: The LAT took me longer to solve than the Saturday Stumper! Roland Huget is not familiar to me as a constructor; the name rings a bell but I am not used to seeing his byline. That may have contributed to the difficulty of this one. There also are some very difficult vocabulary words and some obscure references in here. But on Saturdays we want a challenge, and this puzzle doesn’t disappoint. We will rate at 3.6 stars. Hopefully if you’re a regular LAT solver you aren’t too disheartened by this puzzle. Maybe I should stop saying that they are too easy!

Some notes:

  • 8A [Tybalt’s house] CAPULET – Got this immediately, but only by luck. I need to brush up on my Shakespeare if I ever get on Jeopardy!
  • 15A [French roll] ROULEAU – This is one of those tough words. This is beyond basic French numbers and Americanized French language words!
  • 16A [Cognizant of] ALIVE TO – This phrase seems contrived. I don’t think I have ever said this, but technically it works. Needed a lot of crossers to grok this one out.
  • 33A [Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil] NIEKRO – This was a gimme to me, but if you’re not a sports fan this is tough. He hasn’t pitched in nearly 30 years! True fact: he won 16 games in 1984 AT AGE 46!!
  • 35A [“Got a minute?”] CAN WE TALK? – This would have been a good place to pay tribute to Joan Rivers, as this was her signature phrase. Just an idea. But a great entry nonetheless!
  • 44A [No power can change it] ONE – Best clue of the puzzle. Didn’t really fool me, but I thought it was pretty clever.
  • 56A [One of two nuclides with the same neutron number but different proton numbers] ISOTONE – What?? I barely understand the clue! What’s a nuclide?? This is another one that is pretty tough if you’re not a chemist!
  • 58A [Contest name coined by its eventual winner] THRILLA – Referring to the “Thrilla in Manila” that the late Muhammad Ali fought against Joe Frazier. Another pretty good clue.
  • 62A [Elaine’s home, in Arthurian legend] ASTOLAT – OK … if you say so! Another five-star toughie. I had CAMELOT in there at first, which understandably caused all sorts of issues!
  • 3D [Concerned with good breeding] EUGENIC – I looked it up, and it is a word. It actually seems like a word I don’t want to use, if we’re talking human breeding!
  • 7D [eBay option] BUY IT NOW – My favorite entry! Also my preferred method of shopping on eBay!!
  • 12D [Old-fashioned investigation] LEGWORK – As opposed to the modern-day computer-work!
  • 21D [Prime example] POSTER BOY – This is also very good.
  • 24D [Small seals] SIGNETS – This one fooled me totally. Baby seals are called pups!!
  • 29D [“The Book of Hours” poet] RILKE – I believe you! Another rather obscure entry, at least to me, but I am highly uncultured.
  • 36D [Grooming process] TOILETTE – This seems like a reach to me. Another toughie!
  • 37D [Estate planner’s advice] ROTH IRA – I actually just opened a Roth IRA! Now I need to put some money in it …

Actually a little wordy for a puzzle that stumped me good, so I must have enjoyed it! Have a great weekend!

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

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-8-40-31-pmNormally a Frank Longo byline fills me with anxiety. But today, compared to how these puzzles normally treat me, I relatively breezed through this one! Yes, it took 15 minutes, but for me that is a great time! Maybe I am finally getting on Frank’s wavelength … after 20+ years of solving his puzzles!! Lots of good fill in this one, but that is no surprise as Frank is a master, as I have said many times. Still one of my favorite constructors period. He is not quite on my Mount Rushmore of constructors; I would probably go Mike Shenk, Trip Payne, Cox and Rathvon, and Patrick Berry in no particular order for currently living constructors, and if we are going all-time Henry Hook and Merl Reagle have to fit in there somewhere. But it is unfair because there are waaaaaay more than four really good ones! Longo, Quigley, Gaffney, Birnholz, Jones, Walden, Wilber, … I could go on and on! Who are your favorite constructors?

I ramble. This puzzle is solid. Frank’s interweaving of common phrases and words is still a marvel at times. 4.5 stars. Some highlights:

  • 1A [Legal retribution attempt] CROSS CLAIM – A toughie for 1-Across. And not a term used that often on Judge Judy-type shows, which is about the extent of my legal expertise!
  • 38A [Returns for not much work] EASY MONEY – This is a tricky clue, but I got it pretty quickly. This is where I felt I was thinking like Frank thinks!
  • 11A & 39A [Aids in identifying mutants] GENE MAPS – So its not some blood test used in X-Men movies?
  • 49A [Chicago owned colossus once owned by the Kennedys] MERCHANDISE MART – I am familiar with this, being originally from Chicago, but it took me a minute because I had a wrong entry at 37D (see below!).
  • 3D [Kris Jenner son-in-law] ODOM – Totally forgot about Lamar Odom. Even though Kardashian drama literally bores and nauseates me at the same time, they get shoved down our collective throats so much you cannot help but be familiar. In a weird situation, is he STILL married to Khloe??? (After Googling, it appears the answer is no!)
  • 9D [“Cake Boss” competitor, often] ICER – We have actually been to his bakery in New Jersey. Had to wait like 45 minutes to get in! Yes, I have a very bad sweet tooth!
  • 14D [Was a valedictorian, e.g.] SPOKE – Good clue. Pretty accurate, too. I can think of very few high school graduations where the valedictorian does NOT speak.
  • 37D [Seem] LOOK AS IF – My mistake? I had LOOK LIKE instead. It works … !!
  • 44D [Where Hamilton premiered?] NEVIS – This saturation with the musical Hamilton in our popular culture recently has brought to light this bit of trivia as to where he was born. Similar clues like this have popped up recently, but they are still good! Notice Hamilton is not in quotes, so that helped a bit!

How about another easy one next week? Probably wishful thinking. Have a great weekend, and GO BLUE!!

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17 Responses to Saturday, November 12, 2016

  1. Martin says:

    letter: one that rents or leases.

    You can’t get better on a Saturday than misdirection using a sense that is seemingly obscure, but makes the abridgment cut for the MW desk dictionary and is eminently getable. Its aha moment makes in a total hem (inverse-meh) for me.

  2. Martin says:

    It’s not often that an entry really, really seems to be obvious but I can’t bring myself to type it. Had that with the LAT at 3-Down. Especially this week. Scary times.

  3. Lise says:

    I liked the COMMA in the NYT. It took me a while to get it. And the long answers were really good, as was the NE corner.

    Isn’t “opera” the plural of OPUS, though? I had that answer wrong because I had DaRN. Then I wondered what OPUSAS were :-)

    • Christopher Smith says:

      That’s true but it would be pretty confusing if we still used “opera” that way, so apparently we needed to invent an (inelegant, and hardly used outside of crosswords) alternative.

  4. austin says:

    NYT: i immediately put in MICROSOFTACCESS for 16A and was mighty disappointed when none of the crosses worked.

  5. Scott says:

    I did the NYT in 17:17, which is a great time for me on a Saturday. And I liked the comma!

  6. Steve Manion says:

    I played rugby, but have never heard the term NO SIDE. I put in WINGER, usually called WING, who is the extreme outside (end) player. I have begun to seriously enjoy soccer except for the flopping. If ever there was a sport in which the players do not flop or feign injury, it is rugby.

    NW was the last to fall.

    I enjoyed the comma.


  7. David L says:

    This handy rugby glossary calls ‘no side’ an antiquated term for the end of a match. I played rugby in school and certainly don’t recall the term.

    I found this puzzle much harder than the average Saturday. Not sure why — just slow progress. Neither REPORTGENERATOR nor HOMEPHONENUMBER matched the specificity of the clues, I thought.

  8. Jenni Levy says:

    Derek asks about favorite constructors. In no particular order: Quigley, Gordon, Gorski, Berry, Blindauer, Longo, Kahn, Klahn, Hex.

    I loved Manny’s puzzles when he was still active, and have recently done a few of them in old collections and reminded how much I loved them. And Sherry – I miss your themelesses! Come back!

    • Bruce N. Morton says:

      I would put MAS high on my list, along with some of the others you mention.

      • Jackson says:

        Don’t forget David Steinberg. Creative, clever, colorful.

      • Martin says:

        Thanks, that’s dashed decent of you. We will drink a toast to you at the “MAS-ogenes Club” during tomorrow’s meeting.

        BTW, we used to have this “No Women” policy. But oddly enough when we lifted the ban, no women have shown the slightest interest in joining. Can’t think why…


  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    NE was by far my hardest quadrant. Would have been a DNF but for a couple lucky guesses. 6a meant nothing to me, and 8d is also computer related.

    Also played rugby and also never heard that term. I was not expecting the Thursdayish aspects, but it was clever the way the COMMA figured in to the answer. All in all not a very enjoyable puzzle for me.

  10. Jackson says:

    NYT, LAT and Stumper were all really enjoyable. Thanks to the constructors.

  11. Thanks, I much appreciate that, Derek.

  12. djp says:

    I had Second Commandment and New York New York, but couldn’t figure out the connector. Pleased to know. Won’t cry foul. There’s a comma in the song title?!

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