Saturday, March 4, 2017

LAT 6:40 (Derek) 


Newsday 12:20 (Derek) 


NYT 4:29 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 4 17, no 0304

I think this is the third time in the last four or five weeks that the Saturday puzzle was easier than the Friday puzzle. Ms. Guizzo’s got six interlocking 15s, with 9d IN THE CROSSHAIRS sort of describing the grid’s layout. The other 15s are pretty juicy, too—SHIRLEY CHISHOLM and actress TAYLOR SCHILLING, “THE PLOT THICKENS,” a Scrabble TRIPLE WORD SCORE (in Words With Friends, the TW square is a gold/light orange color) and, at the back of the pack, “ANYONE LISTENING?” Not sure how crosswordable 17a actually is.

Portrait of Shirley Chisholm by Kadir Nelson. In the Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives.

I filled in 53a without really seeing the clue. I had some crossings in place, and had seen a tweet from Rex Parker about loving 53a, so it fell easily. 53a. [First black woman elected to Congress, 1968]? That’s only part of her story. She also ran for president (seeking the Democratic nomination) in 1972. She once said, “When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men.”

23a. [Website offering “mentally stimulating diversions”], SPORCLE. I love Sporcle so much. I’ve played 16,517 quizzes so far—less than 8,500 to go till I earn the Silver Platter badge!

31a. [“That’s cheating!”], I.T. SNOT FAIR. What? (IT’S NOT FAIR and THAT’S IT in the same grid … eh.)

In the Never Heard of That category:

  • 57a. [Manuel ___, German soccer star called a “sweeper-keeper”], NEUER. Never heard of him, but the crossings gave me a plausibly Germanic name.
  • 8d. [“Ara ___ Prec” (T. S. Eliot poetry volume)], VOS. Altar of Your … Prec? “Therefore do I implore you?” I wonder if the constructor originally clued this by way of Parade magazine columnist Marilyn vos Savant. That’s far more familiar, I wager, than an Eliot poetry volume that doesn’t rate its own Wikipedia page.
  • 25d. [___ Mercer, originator of the palindrome “A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!”], LEIGH. Typically, palindromists are not well known.

Overall, a fun solve. Four stars from me.

Michael Dewey’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Free For Alley” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/4/17 • “Free For Alley” • Dewey • solution

Phrases get the letters -EY appended to their back ends. Pronunciation often but doesn’t always change, so this is more of a visually consistent theme. Meanings change, it should go without saying.

  • 22a. [One over par at the Ocean Spray Open?] CRANBERRY BOGEY (bog).
  • 32a. [“Ahoy, you’re no landlubber!”?] WELCOME MATEY (mat).
  • 51a. [Dinosaur tchotchke?] POTTERY BARNEY (barn).
  • 64a. [Streetcar offering free WiFi?] INTERNET TROLLEY (troll).
  • 83a. [Thanksgiving dinner served on a footstool?] OTTOMAN TURKEY (Turk).
  • 95a. [Weightlifting aid?] MUSCLE PULLEY (pull).
  • 112a. [Dalai Lama’s pet?] BUDDHIST MONKEY (monk).

So it’s three of seven where the base pronunciations are unaffected.

Just a few random notes:

  • 61a [Where Gandhi was jailed under colonial rule] POONA. Now called PUNE.
  • 90a [Dance also called the Brazilian tango] MAXIXE. That’s a spiffy word.
  • 1a [Sprees] JAGS, 79d [Spree] TEAR. One can also go on a teary crying jag.

But I’m just going to go. 5a [Travels] GOES.

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

It has been a busy Saturday morning so far: ran 6 miles, went to go spectate a local indoor marathon (that I should sign up to run one of these days!), and ate a Chinese lunch! Yes, life is busy and hectic, so if I can squeeze in a 12-minute solve on the Stumper, that means we are ready for Stamford! Only three weeks to go!

As stated, this one wasn’t nearly as exasperating as some other Stumpers. As is usually the case, next week should be brutal! Lots of great entries in this one, but a few clues seem more on the “too vague” side than “extremely difficult.” A 72-worder usually gives you pretty good fill in a themeless, and this one can certainly be described that way. 4.3 stars.

Lots to talk about!

  • 17A [Freely editable] OPEN SOURCE – Some operating systems are this way; I wouldn’t know how to change it if I wanted to!
  • 19A [Article written by Günter Grass] DAS – I tried SIE in here at first. I guess that isn’t an article in German but a pronoun!
  • 28A [Oversized atlas-page format] GATEFOLD – Great word. Not that common, and I even had to look it up, but you would likely see this in some sort of coffee table book like an atlas. Or a brochure:
  • 30A [Planned] INTENTIONAL – I had the first N, so I thought this might be a phrase like ON SCHEDULE. Very tricky!
  • 40A [Name given to an unknown medieval versifier] ARCHPOET – Another new term to me. This page explains who this is. I feel smarter!
  • 42A [School not far from Coca-Cola Plaza] EMORY – You need to know that Atlanta is referenced here. UPS also has HQ in the ATL!
  • 48A [Word from Old Norse for “fear”] AWE – Makes sense now! The only letter I had wrong, as you can see in the screen shot.
  • 58A [Where Truman ran a store] KANSAS CITY – Anything Truman usually references Missouri!
  • 4D [Big name in space westerns] HANStar Wars is now known as a “space western??”
  • 12D [Exclamation of admiration] HOLY TOLEDO! – Is this an expression of admiration or merely surprise? This seems off to me.
  • 13D [Time-jump subtitle] YEARS LATER – Nicely done!
  • 22D [“The Land of Painted Caves” author] AUEL – My wife has read all of her books. Is she still doing another one?
  • 29D [Youngest Girl Scout] DAISY – Figured this was some sort of flower.
  • 46D [Food __ (overeater’s state)] COMA – I have one of those now!

Another great LAT puzzle. Have a great weekend!

Pawel Fludzinski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

I am feeling old today because my “baby” brother is 37 today! Man, time flies! This grid style lends itself to solving in a meandering pattern around the grid, and I believe that is exactly what I did. Typically stellar fill that I now expect in every LAT puzzle I do! I have done a few by Pawel now, and I am getting used to his style. That or the running is waking up my tired neurons! 4.2 stars for this one.

Just a few notes:

    • 1A [Picture with a surprise ending?] PHOTO BOMB – Great 1-Across entry. I am so old I remember thinking, “Why do you need a camera in your phone??” Now with cameras all over the place, photo bombs are quite common!
    • 32A [Eisner’s successor at Disney] IGER – This guy is also crossword famous, even though he is also a multi-millionaire. Learn his name, as well as actor Robert ILER from The Sopranos. Hey, they’re both named Bob!
    • 34A [Pulitzer poet Van Duyn] MONA – If you say so!
    • 50A [Product announced but never produced or canceled] VAPORWARE – Excellent. Probably the best entry in the puzzle!
    • 55A [Relax] STAY LOOSE – Also good. A nice casual phrase that has never appeared in a NYT!
    • 12D [Facing a deadline] ON THE CLOCK – If you’re facing a deadline, aren’t you “up against” the clock? This phrase denotes, to me, someone punched in at a job.
    • 24D [1993 William Diehl thriller on which a 1996 film was based] PRIMAL FEAR – This movie starred Richard Gere, I do believe. Great clue full of trivia!
    • 26D [Nevada’s Area 51, notably] OPEN SECRET – I like this too. Everyone knows it’s there, but you cannot get in!
    • 42D [R&B singer __ Marie] TEENA – She has passed away now a little over 6 years ago. Way too young! I loved a few of her songs. Here is one for your enjoyment!

  • 47D [Piccadilly Circus statue] EROS – This came up in Learned League a year or so ago. I think. I forget where I learned about this little statue I have never seen!

Until Tuesday! Have a nice weekend!

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19 Responses to Saturday, March 4, 2017

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    Loved the rare soccer reference in NYT. Manuel Neuer is among the best goalkeepers in the world, particularly in playing the ball forward into the attack (the “sweeper” role).

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I hope the NYT will find ways to clue EPI (esp. on a Saturday) without advertising Epi-Pens. Mylan (the maker of EpiPens) jacked up the prices last summer to $600 a pair, when it probably costs less than $15 to make them, and as food allergies soar, especially in children. There was little significant R&D required as they did not have to carry out extensive research to figure out that epinephrine works for reversing severe allergic reactions. Meanwhile the CEO secured a 7-fold increase in her salary…

    By contrast, I love the SHIRLEY CHISHOLM entry! Awesome lady.

    • Chukkagirl says:

      I know! $700-$800 in my area for two pack, and they’ve been around for YEARS, while demand is increasing. Highway robbery and gouging, anyone? Grrr.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Stumper – This was by far the mildest one I’ve seen in years. Funny thing is, I’ve been wondering all week how the average solver in my area would like it. I live near Philly, where for decades the Inquirer ran a syndicated Monday-Saturday series that nearly always had dull themes like rhyming the last syllable of unrelated phrases. We had only Merl and a week-late NYT on Sundays to break the doldrums. The constructor retired last week, and the Inquirer chose an even worse series called Commuter Crosswords. These were super-easy themeless puzzles, probably computer generated. I was amazed this Monday when the Inquirer ran an announcement reading, “WE LISTENED TO YOU.” It went on to say they’d received many complaints about the new series being too easy, and that readers enjoyed the “challenge” of the previous puzzles. They then began to run the Newsday puzzles. Boy, do subscribers have a shock when they try an average Saturday Stumper. I fear there will be even more howls of protest.

    • Steve Manion. says:

      Be careful what you wish for. About 25 years ago, I was living in the Appleton/Green Bay area when one of the local papers decided to publish the NYT crossword. There was some early week praise, but after a couple of weekend puzzles, the protests began. I forget whether the answer was ETAOIN or SHRDLU (do any of you remember what these answers are?), but the protests began to outweigh the praise and the NYT was cancelled.

      Both puzzles were average difficulty and about the same for me.


    • Glenn says:

      Different strokes on a lot of things (Today’s Newsday was hardest in a couple of months for me). To wit, I’m reminded of a paper that ran Universal grids (you know, Timothy Parker) and got deluged for those being “an exercise in frustration” and swapped them for “The Daily Commuter” (one like you describe, it’s the LAT’s “easy” track).

      Of course, you wouldn’t believe all the B-level Syndie grids I’ve seen which break this rule or that with crossword layout (dead ends, two letter clues, expanses of black squares, etc), have bad clues and the like that papers pick up.

      The good rule always is “be careful what you wish for”, especially since (as I’ve found trying to find out who does some of those B-level syndies I’ve seen) a lot of the paper editors don’t even know what they’ve put into their paper.

  4. Ethan Friedman says:

    Lovely grid in the NYT; way too easy though. I want my Saturdays to take me more than 7 minutes! I liked the two long ladies in the grid, and am always delighted to see a female constructor on a Saturday.

  5. pannonica says:

    NYT: Ara Vos Prec = ‘soap carver’, for what it’s worth.

    • Zulema says:

      Pannonica, I guess there’s a joke or pun there, but why “soap carver” And what’s the joke? Sorry to be obtuse. And I know it’s almost Tuesday, but I just finished the LA Times Saturday puzzle, otherwise occupied, so I came here now.

  6. janie says:

    between “IT’S NOT FAIR!” and THE PLOT THICKENS, today’s nyt certainly held *my* attention. loved this puzz!


  7. David L says:

    A while back I read one of Wilkie Collins’ lesser known novels, Armadale, and discovered that it has a chapter titled “The Plot Thickens.” I wonder if that was the first use of the phrase.

    Puzzle was OK but too easy for a Saturday. For some reason, I knew the name LEIGH Mercer. No idea why.

  8. Bruce N Morton says:

    Yes, a mild Saturday, except for that obscure (to me) crossing of Schilling and Phi. Never heard of Taylor. I guess the Eagles are a rock group, but what is Phi? What does it mean? Unfortunately, I guessed Schelling and Phe.

    I also like and respect Shirley Chisholm.

  9. Chukkagirl says:

    I’m a little grumbly about NYT 46D “tehee” (teh-hee?); maybe I’m incorrect, but IMO it should be spelled “teehee.”

  10. sparto says:

    NYT : Why do I always stumble on the correct spelling of NECCO? I wasn’t aware they made the candy Sweethearts but it makes sense – they have the same chalky consistency of their more famous Wafers. The New England Confectionery Company (NECCO, get it?) also makes other candy classics like Clark Bars (yum), Mary Janes, and Squirrel Nut Zippers (guaranteed to loosen the toughest of fillings).

  11. David Samuel Glasser says:

    NYT: OK, I know Shortz doesn’t mind dupes across the grid, but surely the “‘S” in IT’S NOT FAIR dupes the one in “That’s cheating”? It’s the same word!

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