Saturday, February 25, 2017

CS 7:59 (Ade) 


LAT 7:45 (Derek) 


Newsday 29:40 (Derek) 


NYT 6:18 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 25 17, no 0225

Late start since the .puz file served up by the Times was for the Mini for the first half hour! D’oh.

Things I had no idea were things:

  • 26d. [Sport similar to paintball], AIRSOFT. Never heard of it.
  • 12d. [Hunting dog breed], REDBONE. Say what? I only know Leon Redbone.
  • 40a. [Giovanni da Verrazano discovery of 1524], CAPE COD BAY. Cape Cod, yes. Bays, yes. Cape Cod Bay? Did not know. My New England fishing ancestors probably knew.

Clue/answer word duplications I noticed: AIRSOFT and [Offer on Airbnb, say] for LEASE OUT; LOSS and [Without having a second to lose?], SOLO. We won’t discuss HADN’T and the various having/has not clues.

Seven more things:

  • 36d. [Entree often served with a moist towelette], BBQ RIBS. I’ve seen BARBQ in a couple recent puzzles and do not care for that rendition one whit.
  • 35d. [Note in a Yelp business listing], OPEN NOW. Unless they’ve decided to close early, went out of town, or are observing a holiday, in which case the internet will lie to you.
  • 1a. [Reject someone, in a way], SWIPE LEFT. A phrase from the Tinder dating app.
  • 15a. [Mammal that jumps vertically when startled], ARMADILLO. I looked for a good video of that, and was disappointed by the lack of verticality. Instead, you can check out this orphaned baby armadillo that isn’t jumping.
  • 26a. [Present from the start], ABORIGINAL. Okay, yes, that is literally what the word’s roots mean. But when applied to people, animals, or plants, it doesn’t mean that at all. For example, the island of Australia is millions of years old but its indigenous people only arrived about 50,000 years ago.
  • 54a. [Aglisten, in a way], DEWED. Really? Not [Glistening], which is a word people would actually use? [Aglisten] as a cue that you won’t like the answer word much better?
  • 11d. [Trail mix ingredients], CRAISINS. Those are brand-name sweetened, dried cranberries. Meh. Sun Maid Fruit Bits are the best. Little, soft, perfect with assorted nuts and perhaps a handful of chocolate chips. My go-to snack for travel days.

3.75 stars from me.

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “So Long” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 02.25.17: “So Long”

Good morning, people! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, definitely has a fitting title, since this is the fourth-to-last puzzle in CrosSynergy’s remarkable 20-year run. In the grid, the first three theme entries have the letters W-A-Y making up the extremities of those entries, with SEPARATE WAYS, the fourth theme entry, acting as the reveal to the theme (58A: [Direction taken after a relationship ends (and a hint to where 20-, 28-, and 48-Across may have gone)]).

  • WALLACE BEERY (20A: [Best Actor winner for “The Champ”])
  • WALTER FARLEY (28A: [Author of “The Black Stallion”])
  • WARREN BEATTY (48A: [Best Director winner for “Reds”])

So I can’t get GEESE out of my head after hearing about the White House’s cowardly/fascistic move to ban reputable journalists from an off-camera “gaggle,” as I envisioned the briefing being attended by geese with fedora hats, microphones, and recorders (9A: [Honkers in flight]). This grid gets some extra points for having African geography, as we have CONGO featured (69A: [Central African nation]). Oops, forgot about CAIRO in the grid as well, so even more points awarded (34D: [City of a Thousand Minarets]). Liked the clue for E-DATE (30D: [Computer hookup?]). I’m not much of a morning show person at all but, apparently, there was a segment on CBS This Morning last week about the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword puzzle, and Jim Axelrod, who did a video package on it, made a reference to the short track speed skating legend with the first name of APOLO (3D: [Speed skater Ohno]). Unfortunately, Axelrod, from what I heard, said that “ONO” could be used as an answer to a clue featuring the skater, which, obviously, is incorrect. He owned up to the mistake later, so it’s all good. But let that be a lesson to you all, including those of you who are far from the sports inclined: Sports will make you smarter…or it will lead you to make a mistake on national television! Your choice. (I say all of this facetiously. Somewhat facetiously.)

Speaking of sports, here’s something for you to chew on…literally.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TREE (45A: [Arbor Day planting]) – While Mike TYSON (27D: [Boxer known for his “sucker munch”]) might be the athlete most famous for biting an opponent, it’s not the only one of its kind to make major headlines. In a 1983 NBA playoff game between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, Hawks center TREE Rollins bit the finger of Boston’s Danny Ainge during a skirmish at the Boston Garden. The incident resulted in two stitches for Ainge, a five-game suspension for Rollins and one of the most famous sports headlines ever, which was produced by the Boston Herald the next day: “Tree Bites Man.”

See you all for the final Sunday Challenge! *Tear.*

Take care!


Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

This one is a bit tougher than the average Saturday LAT challenge, but in a good way! Some great entries, mixed with some easier entries that are clued quite difficultly, and you have a puzzle that can be a bit of a head scratcher. There are also several “a-ha!” moments to be had, and that is one of the joys of solving! I actually enjoyed this one a lot. 4.6 stars!

Lots to talk about:

  • 1A [Muslim veils] HIJABS – Obviously timely, with Muslim culture mentioned often in the news. I will be honest: I don’t see a lot of these in North Central Indiana!
  • 16A [One way to serve fowl] A L’ORANGE – As in duck a l’orange, which is making me hungry just typing it!
  • 17A [“See?!”] TOLD YA! – Possibly the best entry, in a weird way!
  • 30A [“Anthem for Doomed Youth” poet Wilfred __ ] OWEN – This is just difficult. If you don’t know your poetry, which I don’t!
  • 59A [Rule broken by deities?] I BEFORE E – I think this is the best clue! This was the main entry that had me slapping my head!
  • 63A [“Mad Men” actor John] SLATTERY – I blanked on this actor’s name. I have watched most of this series! I knew HAMM wasn’t enough letters … ! I also like John Slattery in The Adjustment Bureau.
  • 9D [Irritating growth] POISON IVY – Yes, I wrote POISON OAK! It’s also irritating!
  • 13D [Tatum O’Neal received her Oscar at it] AGE TEN – This is also well done. And extremely timely, with the Oscars airing tomorrow!
  • 31D [#3 on the 2016 Forbes “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list] YELLEN – This is referring to Janet Yellen, the head of the Federal Reserve. Yes, I had to look that up!
  • 38D [Productivity-increasing trick, in modern parlance] LIFE HACK – Several of these make their way to Facebook and YouTube. Great  modern term!
  • 51D [Sweet __ ] TOOTH – Describes me in a nutshell!

There is snow on the ground here in Indiana today! It’s almost March!!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

I thought this week might be difficult. I was right! Brad “stumped” me really good on this one. I actually followed my plan: after starting the puzzle and getting stuck, I paused the timer, found a quiet place, put on some headphones to block out distractions, and put my mind to the challenge. So when I paused the puzzle, I had seas of white squares. After another 5-10 minutes, I had all but the lower right area done. And as you can see from the image, I checked what I had in, and there were several errors! In this particular case, my first instincts were dead wrong in more than one case, and it is never good to go down a bad path in a crossword. (Although it is recoverable, unlike a sudoku puzzle where a wrong path can prove fatal!) But in the end, the clues are all fair, even if slightly diabolical, and Brad has made another great puzzle. How about 4.5 stars for this one!

Some notes:

  • 1A [“Give Peace a Chance” label] APPLE – If you recognize this as a John Lennon song (Plastic Ono Band, to be specific), then this makes sense!
  • 18A [Something to ID on a DMV test] ROAD SIGN – I tried STOP SIGN in here at first. Yes, I didn’t think it was right!
  • 24A [54-piece game] JENGA – I haven’t played Jenga in years! Good clue because it made me think!
  • 37A [Cold-blooded type] PIRANHA – Sneaky. True is two ways!
  • 43A [Brother in silly shorts] SHEMP – Best clue in my opinion! We are talking about Shemp from The Three Stooges, which are the “silly shorts” referred to. Very nicely done!
  • 44A [“Ice Ice Baby,” originally] B-SIDE – Is this song that old that it was on a 45? Man! Or maybe it was on the second side of the cassette tape!!
  • 56A [Condoleezza Rice, in part] CREOLE – This was hard. And also informative.
  • 11D [Tandoori chicken side dish] RAITA – I have never eaten Indian cuisine. I may try it today!
  • 13D [Andersen’s mother tongue] DANSK – I don’t know if there are supposed to be some diacritical marks in this word, but this is “Danish” in Danish. The Andersen is Hans Christian Andersen, arguably the most famous Dane of all time!
  • 42D [Eggplant cousin] VIOLET – Wow. We’re talking colors!
  • 45D [Anglicized Irish “John”] SHANE – I tried SHAUN. Another one that makes sense AFTER you get it!
  • 55D [NL team with turquoise on its uniforms] ARI – The Arizona Diamondbacks have this color. I tried FLA at first, but the Florida Marlins new uniforms do not have turquoise anymore!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Jerry Miccolis’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Triple Play” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/25/17 • “Triple Plays” • Miccolis • Sat • solution

Made early headway in the northeast section. Without even looking at the clue for 23-across—let alone the title—it seemed as if there were going to be three Ss in a row. At this point I consulted the title, which seemed to confirm the notion. I speculated that the entry might have another tripled letter, but i soon became apparent—which is to say, I read the clue—that something else was going on.

Each theme answer is simply the titles of three Broadway plays, musicals specifically, strung together to create a plausible phrase.

  • 23a. [White Sox wax wistful about Ho Chi Minh City?] CHICAGO NINE MISS SAIGON. That’s really good.
  • 43a. [Princeton punks ply pomades?] JERSEY BOYS GREASE HAIR. Eh, not nearly as good.
  • 64a. [Beautiful babies borrow bistro?] DREAMGIRLS RENT CABARET.
  • 90a. [Peripatetic paper purveyors persistently post pestering plugs?] GYPSY NEWSIES SPAMALOT. This is the appropriate moment to mention the excessive, sensationalistic alliteration of the clues. Is it arbitrary or perhaps a nod to one of the lyrical tropes of musical theater?
  • 114a. [Beastly beatniks blaspheme Bostoners?] WICKED CATS DAMN YANKEES.

Actually, I think these are all pretty good. Clever how they convert nouns and adjectives to verbs. Miss, grease, rent, damn, and I guess spam. Best in my opinion is still the first one because it also plays tricky with nine. Am okay with most being single-word titles but a few of two words.

Don’t have time for an extended review today, so just a few notes:

  • Favorite fill: ABSCOND, SENESCED, REPOSES, APLENTY, CHAGRINS. 20a, 86d, 27a, 93d, 79a
  • Least favorite: 100d [Third-largest of the Philippines] SAMAR, 63d [Mopes around] ACTS SAD, plus various and sundry crosswordese bits and bobs, heavy on the abbrevs. and partials.

Bravo! but let’s not go as far as Encore!

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14 Responses to Saturday, February 25, 2017

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Thank goodness I’m not the only one who a) had trouble with Across Lite and b) had no idea what some of the stuff was– AIRSOFT, REDBONE, etc… Still the puzzle was gettable in decent time, so kudos for that. I liked the EBULLIENT BIOBURDEN juxtaposition…

    That Tinder stuff bugs me. I’m surrounded (at work) by a great many young people whom I really like, and I’m fascinated by how they live life and innovate as they go along… I apologize to anyone out there who uses it or has met the love of their life through it. But just the idea of swiping people away, based on a glance, strikes me as fundamentally wrong and not a good habit of mind to acquire.

  2. David L says:

    Slow going for me, but generally a good puzzle. I was also mystified by AIRSOFT and REDBONE. I had MUSEE des Beaux Arts, but 33D couldn’t possibly have MMM in the middle.

    I wouldn’t describe Cheerios as ANNULAR, which in my experience is usually used to describe objects that are basically flat, such as the red rash from a tick bite or an accretion disk around a black hole. Cheerois are toroidal.

    I was also disappointed to find, when I hunted for a definition of BIOBURDEN, that the clue is lifted word-for-word from Wikipedia. I’m not sure why I think that’s a bad thing. It seems lazy, I guess.

  3. Scott says:

    Maybe it’s me, but I had a hard time with the NYT. Slogged through and it took me over 40 minutes. In the end, enjoyable nevertheless.

    • Joe Pancake says:

      I too slogged through the entire thing. But I didn’t find it enjoyable. No “a-ha moments” just a lot of stuff I didn’t know — BIOBURDEN, DEWED (Dewed, Where’s My Car?), ALMADEN, AIRSOFT, CAPE COD BAY (bay?).

      I was surprised to see people like this one so much (Jeff Chen at XWordInfo gave it his weekly POW!), but I really shouldn’t have been. Not every good puzzle is a hit with everybody — just like Alan Thicke once wrote, “it takes diff’rent strokes to move the world.”

    • Chukkagirl says:

      I agree, a hard slog. I guess because I had teenage boys AIRSOFT was known to me, and REDBONE I knew because I’m fond of redbone coonhounds with their bloodhound-esque loose skin and mournful expression. But BIOBURDEN, & CAPE COD BAY, really? Ugh.

  4. Len Elliott says:

    Seems that the clue for 114-Across in the WSJ crossword should have been something like
    Beastly beatniks blaspheme Bronx batsmen. The answer indicates that Bostoners were not
    being blasphemed. ?????

  5. Norm says:

    WSJ: Shouldn’t the clue be “Beastly beatniks blaspheme Boston [beaters]” or something like that? How does DAMN[ing] YANKEES “blaspheme Bostoners”? I’m not seeing it.

    • BarbaraK says:

      How about since Boston is north of the Mason Dixon line, Bostoners are Yankees.

      Since the musical is about the baseball team, he wanted the clue to use another meaning?

      • TammyB says:

        I get it now, but since the “Beatniks” were a New York based phenomenon, it does seem it would have been more appropriate to have them blaspheming the TEAM as “Yankees” rather than Northerners in general or Bostoners in particular.

        But fortunately I didn’t have to think any of that through because as soon as I had the word “d@mn” I knew where we were headed, regardless of the clue. ;-)

      • Norm says:

        Interesting take, BarbaraK, but I still have to call that one a total fail.

        • pannonica says:

          Also, there was already a baseball team in one of the other themers. But the conflation is admittedly nearly inescapable. Guess I should’ve mentioned it.

  6. Steve Manion. says:

    I played poker all night Friday and when I got home on Sat. morning could not finish the puzzle–I usually do it relatively quickly and as a relaxing means to wind down after an intense game. I just got around to completing it a few minutes ago and irrespective of my mental state found it to be one of the hardest puzzles of the past few years. I had to read the blog to find out where SWIPE LEFT came from and did not know most of the other referenced difficult entries. I am glad it’s over and I am not really sure what to think about it. Very hard, which is good, but very out of my wheelhouse, which is discomfiting.


  7. Jay Bennett says:

    The Diamondbacks haven’t had turquoise in their uniforms since about 2009. Their current unis are Sedona Red and white. C’mon, Stumper editors!

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