Saturday, December 17, 2016

CS 7:47 (Ade) 


LAT 6:05 (Derek) 


Newsday 19:50 (Derek) 


NYT 4:54 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 17 16, no 1217

Ahh, it’s nice to see a byline on the Times’ puzzle page and smile, knowing you are in for a good puzzle. (This is the inverse of the Scowl-o-Meter!) Zhouqin’s 70-worder has some fresh entries, nice flow throughout the grid, and a pretty diagonal slash in the middle.

Long week here, so let’s go straight to listy action:

  • 1a. [Automated message poster], TWITTER BOT. Not precisely sure what that is. I may have gotten automated replies from bots a couple times…
  • 15a. [Reading material for French fashionistas], VOGUE PARIS. It is beyond me.
  • 17a. [Gobbledygook], DOUBLETALK. I saw some bozo on social media grouse about “gobble-dee-gook.” Shame that dictionaries are so hard to access online.
  • 39a. [Peppers that are hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale], SERRANOS. Pass! Do not bring me the hot peppers.
  • 51a. [Corn porridge], SAMP. I know this word only from the rare crosswords that include it. Ooh, Wikipedia tells us that while SAMP is a New England term, it’s also South African staple. I’m sure Gareth’s familiar with it.
  • 55a. [Iron production?], PLEAT. Is this correct? Can you create pleats by ironing, or are you merely crisping up the pleats that have been engineered into the garment?
  • 59a. [Part of a benefits package], HEALTH PLAN. So many people have been purchasing HEALTH PLANs from, the sign-up deadline has been extended to Monday.

Other entries I like include ALL THE RAGE, GLASSY-EYED, WOO-HOO, HOT SPELL, and “ANY IDEAS?”

Four stars from me.

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “The Right Stuff” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.17.16: “The Right Stuff”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, literally has us on the right path, with each of the theme entries being multiple-word answers in which the first word can also come after the word “right.”

  • ANGLE IRON (17A: [L-shaped piece of structural steel])
  • HAND BRAKE (25A: [It may be used to stop a bicycle])
  • AWAY MESSAGE (35A: [Vacation announcement, of a sort])
  • WING CHAIR (48A: [Parlor piece, perhaps])
  • GUARD DUTY (58A: [Sentry’s job])

This time of year, you’ll definitely be hearing EARTHA a whole lot when walking around and seeing and hearing the Christmas spirit envelop neighborhoods across America (18D: [Kitt who sang “Santa Baby”]). For some reason, I put in redcap instead of SKYCAP, and that cost me some time in the northwest (20D: [Airport luggage handler]). Maybe it was because I’m going to be taking Amtrak soon and had trains on my mind. Oh, well. I don’t do impulse buys a whole lot, but I did just buy three ARGYLE sweaters for $30, as I desperately needed to added to my business casual wardrobe (3D: [Diamond pattern]). Probably my favorite fill for today was LIVE A LIE (11D: [Be dishonest about oneself]). Alright, time to head out into the cold, and I’m definitely going to see some SALTERS outside since there’s a wintry mix expected right now (13D: [Sanitation trucks in a snowstorm, perhaps]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: UTICA (56A: [Upstate New York city]) – Did you know that the National Distance Running Hall of Fame is located in UTICA, N.Y.? Well, it is, as the hall opened its doors and was established in July of 1998.

See you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!


David C. Duncan Dekker’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

This Saturday challenger seemed like a mix of really hard and really easy clues. Some I got almost immediately, while others left me scratching my head and wondering why I didn’t seem to know anything! Overall, not too difficult, as the crossings for the obscure entries were very fairly tempered with mild clues. And I believe this puzzle is pangrammatic! Look at all those Zs! 4.3 stars.

A few notes:

  • 14A [Symbol on viola sheet music] ALTO CLEF – A rarer musical notation symbol. Great clue!
  • 37A [“Sure, why not”] I GUESS – I had I’M GAME in here at first. Close!
  • 49A [“The Martian” star] DAMON – An example of what seems, to me, like a gimme. Also a movie I actually saw!
  • 7D [“Aw, shucks”] GEE WHIZ – Great entry! Only 7 NYT occurrences ever according to And it adds more Zs!
  • 11D [Quilting technique] APPLIQUE – I know virtually nothing about quilting. Other than the Amish quilts they sell around here are way too expensive!
  • 29D [Franklin Mint founder Joseph] SEGEL – [Actor Jason] would have been a lot easier. Or even easier yet [Actor Jason of “How I Met Your Mother”]. Never heard of this other dude!
  • 35D [Sleeveless smock] PINAFORE – I am familiar with the musical H.M.S. Pinafore because that was a school play of mine from 8th grade! I actually had no idea it was a piece of clothing!
  • 45D [Family subdivisions] GENERA – This is a little tough, as the plural of genus may not be widely known. Good entry, though!

That is all for today! Enjoy your snowy weekend, if your weather is like mine!

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

This one was brutal. Maybe it’s because I am not feeling well; barely got out of bed at all on Friday with the flu. Still have a slight headache, but I am afraid those are just lame excuses! I found this one quite difficult. Perhaps even one of the hardest I have seen. This would have made a good tournament final puzzle somewhere! In the comments below, you will see I have an issue with a couple of clues, but lots of lively vocab in this one. And VERY hard! Usually I have found Matthew Sewell’s puzzles a little easier than normal stumpers. Not today! 4.2 stars for this one.

The aforementioned comments:

  • 9A [Élysée Palace bride of 2008] BRUNI – As in model Carla Bruni, who married French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
  • 18A [Some punk-rock feminists] RIOT GRRRLS – This is evidently a movement I am not familiar with. I vaguely remember hearing the term maybe once before long ago, but I am not sure. It’s from the Pacific Northwest, which I am nowhere near, so maybe that’s part of it! Great entry nonetheless!
  • 29A [22 or 26 letters, in DC] STS – Washington DC is perhaps known for it’s lettered streets. After looking at a map, I see all letters except B, J, X, Y, and Z. Oh I see: there is a B St in Fort McNair!
  • 38A [GPS display] ETA – This was surprisingly tough, as I had RTE and STS here. The ETA is probably one of the GPS features I like the most!
  • 45A [About .002% of dry air] NEON – Who remembers all of the elements after nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide?
  • 50A [Ice-show pioneer] SONJA HENIE – This makes a lot of sense once you get the answer!
  • 3D [Watchful Spanish ladies] DUENNAS – Another great entry. Spanish for governess or chaperone.
  • 7D [“Hold it right there!”] “I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!” – Another stellar entry! My clue? [“TMI!”]
  • 9D [What a tot might draw as an m] BIRD – Depends on how bad the “tot” draws!
  • 24D [Water repellent of a sort] EAVE – The first clue I have a slight issue with. I wouldn’t say an eave “repels” water; it just re-routes it.
  • 32D [Feb. celebration] V DAY – This is the other one. Do people call Valentine’s Day “V Day?” I know I am old, but I have NEVER heard this term.
  • 38D [Super model] EPITOME – In a puzzle with a lot of good clues, this I think was the best!
  • 48D [Philodendron’s edible cousin] TARO – Just because you CAN eat it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD!

Here’s hoping next week’s is easier!!

Steven E Atwood’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Misplaced Modifiers” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 12/17/16 • “Misplaced Modifiers” • Sat • Atwood • solution

Two-word adjective phrases in the form |x-ing noun| but with the two word roots swapped. The nonsensical new versions are clued.

  • 16d. [Frigate on the attack?] CHARGING SHIP (shipping charge).
  • 63d. [Bug at the blog site?] POSTING HITCH (hitching post). Ouch, too close to home. In the normal order of things, I would list the acrosses first and then the downs—and this would be a poignant last item—but the final across is le mot juste (la bonne chose?), so I felt compelled to swap the normal order of things.
  • 26a. [Nonslip waders for anglers?] CASTING SUPPORT (supporting cast).
  • 44a. [Conductor’s baton?] POINTING STICK (sticking point).
  • 69a. [Blacksmith competition?] SHOEING BOWL (bowling shoe).
  • 98a. [Environmentally harmful lumbering operation?] STRIPPING LAND (landing strip).
  • 118a [Poignant last scene?] TOUCHING FINISH (finishing touch).

Oonerspizing! (Sort of. See also 18d [Chaplin of “Game of Thrones”] OONA, and 32a [Moving like molasses] OOZING. I enjoyed this crossword.

  • 7a [Pizza party leftovers] CRUSTS. Ugh, the CRUST (of *good* pizza) is one of the best parts. Then again, a full-blown pizza party is probably the province of philistines, the type of people who presumably prefer their pies with extra CHEESE (1a [Word spoken by one getting shot]). >scoff, scoff<
  • 29a [Speak gruffly to] BARK AT. BARKAT looks like a cross between batik and ikat, with a bit of binturong (“bearcat”) tossed in.
  • 34a/66d [Like some wines] OAKY, AGED. 89a [Rub the wrong way] IRK, 109d [Rubs the wrong way] RILES.
  • 56a [Jazz bandleader Les or his brother Larry] ELGART. Whoa, that’s rather obscure.
  • 24a [Monastic office] ABBACY. Also whoa.
  • 22a [Queen’s farewell song] ALOHA ʻOE. Tricky clue: Queen Liliʻuokalani isn’t specified. The song’s title is translated as “Farewell to Thee”. Oh, and she was the last reigning monarch of Hawaiʻi, so that’s another kind of farewell.
  • 81d [“Get outta here!”] SCAT, [82d [“I’m outta here!”] TA-TA (which seems too genteel).


p.s. Couldn’t find a scat version of “Aloha ʻOe”.

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24 Responses to Saturday, December 17, 2016

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: TWITTER BOTS really do more following & RT’ing than actual posting, but the clue seems reasonable enough. The idea that lots of bandwidth is spent on bots RT’ing each other various banalities is either depressing or hilarious depending on your point of view.

  2. Steve Manion says:

    Wonderful puzzle. Average difficulty.

    With apologies to Amy, my favorite entry by far was SERRANOS. My now 22-year old son ate a habanero pepper when he was 15 and concluded that he was the ultimate pepper gourmet. He still orders one ghost pepper wing when he goes to Buffalo Wild Wings. I used to be part of the Sudden Death hot wing crowd back in Buffalo, but am now strictly a medium guy.

    We went shopping once for a Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper, but fortunately did not find one. I think that pepper has since been passed by the Carolina Reaper, which I understand is now the hottest with a Scoville rating of about 2.2 million.

    • Huda says:

      It’s a whole peppery world out there…
      When I was a kid, my dad worked for the UNESCO. Our home in Damascus seemed to be a stropping place for people from all over the world who dropped by for a meal as they were traveling from the Paris headquarters to all sorts of places in Asia and the Middle East. My mother made some pretty hot peppery dishes (often as a side dish or with alternatives) and my parents always held a meal postmortem, discussing how that went over with the guest. My mother remembered return visitors by a combination of nationality and her own pepper rating scale… E.g. The Indian who could handle a 10, the Swede who could handle a 6. She made sure she accommodated their resilience levels and they told her it made them feel,special. If several overlapped, it drove up the numbers…

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    That was some kind of record for me – 11:40 on the Stumper. Probably means Amy did it in under five minutes, but I’m proud of myself.

  4. S.D. Price says:

    How many (others) went right to 14 Down and entered FORT LEE because of the Bridge-gate traffic tie-up there?

    • PJ Ward says:

      I had SPAT and RAMIN and counted on a little misdirection to conclude there must be a Washington Bridge near TRENTON.

  5. Bruce N Morton says:

    I liked the puzzle and found it straightforward for the most part, except for the things I didn’t like, and the things I was baffled by :-). Does anyone *really* cry “eek” upon opening a large bill? Silly clue. 14d should obviously be Fort Lee, except that it is almost always written Ft. Lee. Teaneck is several miles from the GWB, though I suppose it qualifies as near. Then there’s the computer jargon, like “twitter bot. What is an RSS feed? What is RT’ing? What is TSA Pre? Pre boarding?

    Obviously I had mixed feelings about this puzzle.

    • Evad says:

      TSA Pre(check) is a program that allows for prescreening–I think it’s something you enroll in (with a fee involved), so you can skip the longer lines when going through security at airports. (Although I think it’s stylized with a checkmark at the end.)

      An RSS feed notifies you when a blog has a new post or comment–we have one on this site that you can enroll in under the Meta heading on the right sidebar.

      When I saw RT I now think of the Russian Times, but I’m not sure that’s what the commenter is referring to.

      • Christopher Smith says:

        Re-Tweet. Perhaps that’s more vintage Twitter. Back before you could embed someone else’s tweet into your own you would “quote” it by noting RT.

    • animalheart says:

      Bruce, as a native of Fort Lee, I must respectfully disagree that it’s almost always written Ft. Lee!

      TSA Pre is a godsend, since you don’t have to remove your shoes or your liquids and you don’t have to take your laptop out of your bag. Usually the lines are shorter, but I’ve been in TSAPre lines (usually in New Orleans) that are longer than the regular lines, though they do tend to move faster.

      • Bruce N Morton says:

        I believe you, obviously. Then again, if I had known that, I would have been even less suspicious of what turned out to be my incorrect answer.

  6. David L says:

    Nice puzzle, but easy for a Saturday.

    I don’t think of gobbledygook and DOUBLETALK as being the same thing. Gobbledygook is meaningless (actual nonsense, or jargon such as computerese to a non-computer person) whereas doubletalk is deliberately deceptive.

    SAMP was the only unknown for me, but the cross with PATHS made it a piece of (corn)cake.

    • Papa John says:

      I had the same response to gobbledygook. A quick online research shows:

      Double talk:
      1. Meaningless speech that consists of nonsense syllables mixed with intelligible words; gibberish.
      2. Deliberately ambiguous or evasive language.

  7. Tim in NYC says:

    A friend calls right-wing doubletalk “Goebbelsdygook.”

  8. Jan O says:

    Even living in New England, I only know SAMP from Samp Mortar Drive, next to Samp Mortar Reservoir, in Fairfield, CT. I guess that’s where they got the trees to make the mortars:

  9. Jackson says:

    “This one was brutal. Maybe it’s because I am not feeling well; barely got out of bed at all on Friday with the flu. Still have a slight headache, but I am afraid those are just lame excuses!”

    Nope, those are legit excuses.

  10. Norm says:

    NYT: Liked but that upper left corner was brutal.
    WSJ: Liked a lot but very disappointed in 16D and 98A, which, unlike the others, did not translate directly into the source phrase. A minor infelicity, I guess, but the other theme entries were more elegant.

  11. animalheart says:

    I thought the NYT was pretty easy for a Saturday. The Stumper was a killer, and I didn’t like a few of the clues. (“Succeeded in self-reflection?” for TANNED is extremely strained. And “Savage” for OGRE seemed like a stretch.) But I liked both puzzles.

  12. Greg says:

    I was led into the wilderness in the northeast corner by a trio of false paths. 11A works just fine as “tiff,” instead of “spat,” which suckered me into “Fort Lee” for 14D (instead of “Teaneck,” and also led to “Tyson” for 11D (instead of “Sagan”).

    It took me a while to work my way out of that.

  13. dave glasser says:

    Stumper: Oof, that EISNER masquerading as DISNEY!

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