Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I really hope that William Weld or Tuesday Weld has had a dog named Spot (see 1-Across).
I’m blogging from manatee country here, so I’m delighted to see SIRENIA at 18a. Didn’t see any in person this trip, but there was a manatee story on the local news. The manatees are happiest in 72-degree spring water, such as you find in rivers north of Tampa.
Never heard of an UP CARD. [Exposed part of a deal] in what card game? Never encountered the term PARADROP. Air-drops from parachutes, sure. Operation Dumbo Drop, of course.
NERD CULTURE is zippy (see also: ASCII ART), but I’m not sure why UNOBTAINIUM is clued so generically. Is that word used outside of the script for Avatar?
“NO WONDER” squished into a crossword grid looks like “NOW ON DER.” This Saturday puzzle may be placed in a stack atop Kevin Der’s Sunday puzzle from last weekend, so …
I like CATH clued via an angiography cath lab. A relative of mine just had an angioplasty in a cath lab, and we are grateful this technology exists!
I guess I don’t go to the circus much because the [Circus ring?] clue for HULA HOOP perplexed me for a while.
Other neat fill: PRINT RUN (publishing nerd here), THE ANDES, MISCREANT, GO-GETTER.
No lousy fill, plenty of tough clues, works for Saturday. Four stars from me.
Patti Carol & Doug Peterson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This puzzle was fun! I have seen several puzzles from this constructing duo now, and that is how I would describe their collaborations. They just seem fun! Clever entries, slightly tough but gettable clues, and generally a few smiles generated during the solving process. This one can definitely be described in this manner. 4.5 stars from me.
Some of the fun stuff!
- 9A [“__ Weeks”: classic Van Morrison album] ASTRAL – In my defense, this is before my time. By one year! I know a few Van Morrison tunes, but nothing from this album. I was going to put a Spotify link here, but there was nothing I recognized!
- 23A [They’re hard to put down] PAGE TURNERS – This clue made me think that I need to read more! Going to the bookstore today!
- 37A [Cornerstone word] ANNO – I put EST’D in here, but that might (or should!) have an indication of an abbreviation in the clue, which isn’t present here.
- 46A [Benjamin portrayer] HAWN – As in Private Benjamin, an old flick (1980!) that Goldie Hawn starred as the title character. Great clue!
- 52A [Fleet destroyed by the Protestant Wind] ARMADA – The famous ships were evidently destroyed by a storm with this nickname. This takes me waaaaay back to 6th grade Social Studies class!
- 1D [Bridges of Los Angeles County] JEFF – Favorite clue! I had BEAU in there at first, so I wasn’t totally fooled!
- 12D [Orbital maneuver] RENDEZVOUS – You must think of a lunar orbiter here, and then it makes sense. Well done!
- 13D [“Years of Minutes” author] ANDY ROONEY – I miss him! I enjoyed his commentary on 60 Minutes each week.
- 26D [When, in Act IV, Juliet drinks the potion] SCENE THREE – This actually is a little easy. The only other possibility is SCENE SEVEN, and I’m quite sure the Act isn’t that long! Great piece of trivia, though!
- 35D [Rough going] SLOG – This word is usually a verb, so that makes this a lot harder. Dictionary does have it as a noun, though. After the verb def!
- 49D [Food __: after-eating drowsiness] COMA – Boy, I have had several of these in my day!
Enjoy your weekend! See you next year!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
We are certainly closing out the year with a bang! This puzzle was so hard it was making me extremely frustrated. Take a look at the grid image! All those marks are errors that the Check Answer function flagged as incorrect! And I actually thought that after the upper right fell rather quickly this would not be too difficult! Disclaimer: I need to solve these in a quiet setting with no distractions, perhaps early in the morning or late at night when it is quiet. I will try that next week! After filling the grid, all of the clues seem pretty fair, but there are two or three words in here that I am just learning upon completion of this toughie! That IS the aim of the Saturday Stumper, and this one may, at least for me, hold the title of one of the hardest I have ever completed. 4.4 stars.
A list of interesting (painful) points from the puzzle:
- 1A [Wag] FARCEUR – One of those new words in my vocabulary. Definitely not used in Indiana! (Just kidding, but only a little!)
- 13A [Symbol for an object] IDEOGRAM – I had MONOGRAM in there instead. Probably because I had the -GRAM part and was grasping at this point!
- 39A [Earliest-born Oscar actor (“Disraeli,” 1929)] ARLISS – Great piece of trivia, and obviously much harder than a reference to the HBO show about the sports agent.
- 42A [Choice to minimize clashing] BEIGE – I tried TAUPE, so I had the right idea!
- 52A [Awarder of America’s oldest pr0-sports trophy] NHL – I knew this had to be right, but part of me thought PGA may be a possibility. As I well know, you have to go with your first instinct sometimes!
- 3D [Kick oneself for] REPENT OF – This partial sounds weird, but is technically correct. Not my favorite, since a repentant person doesn’t strike me as one that is beating himself up, but rather more of a mournful tone. But I could be wrong.
- 14D [Legendary turncoat knight] MODRED – I have heard of this character, but not in a long time and I am more familiar with the Mordred spelling. That made this one tough, and almost feel like a new word.
- 26D [Word from the Greek from “fine language”] EULOGY – Another great clue. This prompted an “Oh yeah!” response from me!
- 36D [Orange sauce in French cuisine] BIGARADE – OK, I watch a LOT of the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, and I have NEVER heard this word! My wife said she HAS heard it before, but definitely an addition to my vocabulary this weekend!
- 58D [Woman in white in 100+ ads] FLO – I don’t know how I got stumped on this one; I have Progressive insurance!!
See you all in 2017!
UP CARD is a term from stud variations of poker. In 7-card stud, the player has two down
cards and one up card to start. Eventually, if the player does not fold, he will receive four up cards and three down cards. The first up card is often referred to as the player’s DOOR CARD.
After looking it up, “unobtainium” is a humorous word used in engineering and other disciplines, referring to that ideal, unobtainable perfect material. We never heard of it, but fantasized the existence of “Unostainium” instead. I’d buy all my shirts made out of that if I could. Tablecloths, carpets, upholstery – the list is endless.
Taking it one step further, I would guess that sadly “Unostainium” is a subset of “Unobtainium”.
I’ll add that ‘unobtainium’ goes back decades.
Very hard, even for a Saturday. I found many answers to be obscure, unfair or unsound. Raise your hand if you knew these without Google: ORSINI, SIRENIA, ASCII ART or VIRTU.
Both hands waving. It’s a “NATIK” moment for me. (apologies to B. Quigley).
SO sorry. “NATICK” is the term I misspelled.
Yes total failure for me. Hopeless in both the NW & NE. Even the short ones were obscure. Never heard of a “circuit solicitor” or seen “around the bend” used that way (more like “in the foreseeable but not immediate future” for me), etc.
Definitely very hard, but I managed to get through it slowly. I like puzzles like this one which aren’t trying so hard to me modern and trendy and cool.
Virtu is a concept introduced by Machiavelli. It means much more than “virtue”, much more than “knowledge of the fine arts,” but is difficult to analyze thoroughly and precisely, (at least for me.) Orsini is one of those famous historical Italian family names but I don’t know anything about them.
Funny comment about spot weld. I wonder what ever happened to Tuesday. I seem to remember reading that she may be related to our former Governor William Weld. I loved the movie Pretty Poison
I was away for an Xmas break and did no crosswords for about ten days, so this was a tough re-introduction. But very good, I thought. I got SPOTWELD and PELHAM immediately and thought I would breeze through it, but then it was slow but steady after that, and HERBARIA was the last thing to go in.
I don’t think of myself as belonging to NERDCULTURE but I enjoyed seeing UNOBTAINIUM.
Couple of random questions, if I may:
1. Do any of you have good stories of mementos you’ve kept from your activities in crosswords?
2. Does anyone have any good suggestions for puzzle books that will float in the more Thursday-Sunday (NYT) area of difficulty?
oh, gosh — re: #2, you can hardly go wrong w/ any of peter gordon’s fireball collections!
Great puzzle, Jeff Chen is a genius, and I’m not a relative!
I put Jeff Chen in the same category as Bob Klahn. That’s not a compliment.
But is there a place we can talk about BEQ’s six star [my rating] puzzle in that NYT puzzle section? That was such a mind-bender!!
I felt as if I were solving a puzzle in a foreign language, but done with lots of guesses along the way. (I allow myself to confirm fill with Google but not to look up answers otherwise.) So not my favorite, but I’ll take the challenge, and nothing seemed terribly off. I even vaguely recognized ORSINI.