Saturday, March 18, 2017

LAT 6:39 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:08 (Derek) 


NYT 8:41 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 18 17, no 0318

Not sure where to begin here, as there was so much unpleasantness in this puzzle. Popeye cartoonist E.C. SEGAR and actor ALDO RAY, whose names are little known to non-obsessives unless they’ve been doing crosswords for decades. (And if you don’t know E.C. Segar’s first initial or which Mercedes class of vehicles you need, you’re looking at running all 26 letters in the alphabet, as you can’t rule out any letters unless you know one of the answers already.)

Quite unfamiliar 15a. [From the heart, in Latin], EX ANIMO (the Latin-based words that start with anima- typically pertain to the soul/life, not hear).

Weird plural abbreviation TRIBS (for tributaries—plural abbreviations are subpar fill, particularly when they’re ones hardly any solvers would ever actually use). U.S. ONE, ENOTE, and TEHEE, all of which I wish would be banned from crossword grids.

The OUSE river and initials TSE crossing 36d. [Mozart contemporary Antonio ___] ROSETTI (raise your hand if you filled in SALIERI), which also crosses never-heard-of-him [1991 Daytona 500 winner Ernie] IRVAN.

MADAMES as the plural applying to [Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie, e.g.], although you will likely find English dictionaries adhering to the French plural, MESDAMES. Merriam-Webster allows for MADAMES … but only as the plural of a madam who runs a brothel, not for more than one madame, and I don’t think the Curies mère et fille would appreciate the puzzle’s implication.

Also not keen on  QEII, -ASE, “SO I SEE,” ERI, or NAZI ERA (not only unpleasant, but far, far less familiar than the term “Nazi Germany” or “the Third Reich”).

I did like SAME-DAY delivery, AXL ROSE (heaven help you if you don’t know him, Latin phrases, or 1950s actors!), and ZEBRAFISH. I resented mixing up my baking products and thinking that [Competitor of Baker’s Joy] would be a rival of Baker’s brand baking chocolate, when it’s actually a spray oil like PAM that’s used particularly for cake pans with a lot of nooks and crannies. (I’m sorry. Now you’re thinking of chocolate, too. I hope you have some handy!)

Let’s talk about 33d. [Cat’s tongue], JIVE TALK. Who exactly is this “cat” who is speaking “jive talk”?

Two stars from me. I saw several mentions on Twitter of people being “Naticked” by crossings of unfamiliar proper nouns, and I’m guessing a great many solvers struggled to get through this puzzle.

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

WSJ • 3/18/17 • “Room Service” • Burnikel • Sat • solution

X rooms, creatively interpreted:

  • 23a. [Bar room?] PRISON CELL.
  • 28a. [Drawing room?] LOTTERY OFFICE.
  • 41a. [Play room?] THEATER STAGE.
  • 56a. [Powder room?] ARMS DEPOT.
  • 78a. [Cutting room?] HAIR SALON.
  • 90a. [Spare room?] BOWLING ALLEY.
  • 104a. [Press room?] FITNESS CENTER.
  • 112a. [Board room?] LUMBER MILL.

This was a breezy solve. Good theme, and the crossword was peppered with fun and clever clues:

10d [Sign of stress] ACCENT, 24d [The girl from uncle?] NIECE, 38d [Cry heard at home] STRIKE ONE, 47d [Slaughter with 2,303 hits] ENOS, 89d [It might catch a buss at the stadium] KISS CAM, 40a [Handy weapon?] FIST, 59a [“Buyer be where?” indicator] MALL MAP (see also 67d [They point the way] ARROWS), 116a [Loser-friendly] LITE, and in the wake of St Patrick’s day 120a [Reason to go green?] ENVY.

Confluences: 19d [They’re often seen with tails] TOP HATS crossing 27a [Fozzie Bear chapeau] PORKPIE. §‘Chapeau’ because we can’t repeat ‘hat’, can we? Similarly, 63a MISER is clued as [Tight type] rather than with the more natural ‘tightfisted’ because 40a FIST is in the grid; no such duplication woes with the two clues 47d [Acts like a bear] SELLS and, rounding back to where we started, 27a§ 14a [Land divided into three parts, per Caesar] GAUL atop 22a [“Render __ Caesar …”] UNTO. 111a [Band-Aid competitor] CURAD atop 115a [Advil alternative] ALEVE. The strange feast of 95d [Haggis ingredient] OFFAL, 96d [Nabisco wafer] NILLA, and 97d [Stout vessel] STEIN. 119a [Reflected deeply] MUSED, 102d [Search deeply] DELVE. The seemingly-but-not-actually-insulting 39d [Garbage singer Shirley] MANSON and 51a [Dopey picture] CEL. Do we really need two “MIT Sloan” clues? 60d [… degrees] MBAS, 109d [… admission test] GMAT.

Not part of the theme: 9d [Chapel in the Apostolic Palace] SISTENE, 86d [Tattoo spots] PARLORS, 88d [Galleria contents] ARTE, 100d [Westminster, e.g.] ABBEY.

29d [Branch wannabes] TWIGS. Don’t care for this clue. Sure, I see the intended humor, but it strikes me as deterministic and anthropomorphic.

83a [“There __ there there”] IS NO. Love the way this clue looks. Famously quipped by Gertrude Stein (she of the repetitive prose) about Oakland, California. Again, I guess you can’t go home again.

103a [Pont Van Gogh locale] ARLES.

Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Plowed through this one in under 7 minutes, so we are ready for Stamford! Hope to see some of you on Friday! There are a couple of tougher answers in this one, but they are all crossed by relatively easy answers, so it is all good. I have seen a few puzzles by Bruce Venzke now, so familiarity with his style is helping just a tad. A solid 72-worder, if my count is correct! 4.2 stars.

Some comments:

  • 16A [Beset by dire circumstances] IN EXTREMIS – My one error in the puzzle, as it took me a bit to realize this was a Latin phrase. Stupid mistakes like this haunt me at the ACPT!
  • 19A [Publication for pitchers?] AD WEEK – The ad creators control us!! ;-)
  • 22A [“I have a lady in the balcony” old radio/TV quiz show] DR. IQ – Never heard of this show. I am old, but not this old! This page explains some info about the show.
  • 34A [Largest Italian lake] GARDA – Just east of Milan, very near to Verona. Still never heard of it!
  • 47A [Disgruntled fans, slangily] BOO BIRDS – There are some of these at most sporting events, especially when the home team if horrible!
  • 63A [Old crate] RATTLE TRAP – I have owned a few cars like this …
  • 1D [Wife of Igor of Kiev] OLGA – This is a real person that I also have never heard of. I thought it might be a character from Russian literature!
  • 9D [Marathoner’s need] STAMINA – Working on mine! Marathon scheduled for November again!
  • 25D [Classroom with mice] PC LAB – Yes, THOSE kind of mice!
  • 26D [Old-time screen vamp Bara] THEDA – Another crossword famous person! I couldn’t pick her out of a multiple choice array of photos!
  • 28D [Ernie Banks’ sobriquet] MR. CUB – For this former Chicagoan, a gimme. His funeral a couple of years ago was quite an event for arguably the most famous Chicago Cub of all time. How he would have loved last fall!
  • 46D [One of Pete Rose’s record 3,215] SINGLES – Of his all-time record 4,256 hits, 746 were doubles (2nd most all-time), 135 were triples (75th all-time), and 160 were homers (tied for 456th all-time). That leaves 3,215 (also the most all-time) which would have to be singles.
  • 53D [Chiang Mai native] THAI – I love Thai food! Getting hungry …

Awesome weekend challenger! See you on Tuesday for another review!

Dan Addams IV’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

I do get these puzzles a little early now, which helps in blogging. But today, after a fairly busy last few days, I was back taken back to the times where I waited until early Saturday morning to tackle these. It was nice and quiet, and a puzzle that I originally glanced at as almost unsolvable fell in around 15 min. The lower half was completely done in about 6 to 7 minutes, while I found the upper half, especially the upper left, the most difficult.

Great puzzle, though! I was also cued early on as to who “Dan Addams IV” is: Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg are the co-constructors of this masterpiece. (Anagram of “Sam and David!”) Both are able constructors on their own, so it is not surprising that this one is of high quality. It is just chock full of wildly interesting fill, while at the same time it has nothing overly obscure, although a couple of the three full name entries on here may not all be household names to a lot of people. But we want a little challenge for the Stumper! 4.6 stars for this gem.

Some notables:

  • 15A [Crime alias that’s Spanish for “shorty”] EL CHAPO – Nickname for Joaquín Guzmán, the noted drug lord from Mexico. He was in the news fairly recently, so with a few crosses this was gettable.
  • 18A [Capital on the Arabian Sea] KARACHI – Not my first guess. Especially since Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan! I am not too familiar with this area of the world, and I would have guessed Muscat if I didn’t know how long the answer was. Karachi must be like a state capital?
  • 41A [Breakfast beverage] SOY LATTE – Great entry, but not my favorite beverage!
  • 54A [Saxtuba cousin] HELICON – This is another type of tuba. Another instrument I don’t know how to play!
  • 2D [Crooner in “The Godfather”] AL MARTINO – One of the three celebs mentioned by first and last name. He played Johnny Fontane in the movie that I have still never seen!
  • 5D [Freestyle regimen] LAPS – I had RAPS in here. That’s what I first thought of when I saw the word “freestyle!” It didn’t make sense; but then, neither did LAST REG at 1-Across!
  • 8D [Breaks at Oxford] TAKES TEA – Best clue in the bunch, since “breaks” is a verb in this clue!
  • 13D [2014 OWN docuseries subject] LOHAN – I believe you. I do not watch Oprah’s channel!
  • 24D [Hall of soul] DARYL – I DO however watch Live From Daryl’s House, which is on the MTV Live channel (formerly Palladia). I also am old enough to remember when Hall & Oates were highly relevant, so I had this filled in first!
  • 50D [Kissinger’s original name] HEINZ – He was born in Germany, so this makes sense. Having RED ZONE solved at 65A also helps!

Looking forward to many more by this duo! Now where is that nice weather … ?

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39 Responses to Saturday, March 18, 2017

  1. Steve Manion. says:

    Very hard puzzle. The crossing of _CSEGAR/_CLASS is as bad a crossing as I can remember and I knew Segar.

    The rest of the puzzle was OK, but definitely not in my wheelhouse. Amy’s review covered the strange/weak spots very well.


    • MattF says:

      I agree that the NYT was a very mixed bag– some good, some… um… obscure, at best. The crossing you mention was the last square for me– although I’d sorta guessed it. And is ‘Bucket of bolts’= CRATE something I’ve missed out on in my life?

      ETA: Oh, I get it.

      • Lise says:

        I think it’s slang for a really junky car, a heap; the car that Jughead owned.

      • Papa John says:

        “ETA: Oh, I get it.”
        I don’t. What are you talking about?

        • MattF says:

          ETA: = ‘Edited to add’

          In other words, I (now) get the joke that ‘Bucket of bolts’ = CRATE, but didn’t get it until after I’d written the comment, so I edited the comment to indicate my new insight into the clue.

  2. Howard B says:

    Brutal. I crashed on _OSETTI / DA_IEN.

    • Zulema says:

      Brutal is right. MADAMES is atrocious. Reminds of SEÑORS of many years ago about which I objected strenuously. And I was stuck in many places and was about to fall asleep when my apartment doorbell rang at 1:15 AM. Then I heard the elevator go down. Add insult to injury. They didn’t even say “Sorry.”

  3. Penguin Posse says:

    The intersection of DARIEN, DUOTONE, OUSE, ROSETTI, IRVAN is a trivia trainwreck. Was Mr. Shortz drunk when he accepted this puzzle?

  4. huda says:

    NYT: well, I’m glad it wasn’t just me. I came thinking if everyone else thought it was easy-breezy, I’ll have to rethink my entertainment options and stick to KenKen. I’m bad with names in general, and the combination here was brutal.
    ZEBRA FISH are a favorite of biological scientists— their genomes are similar to mammals, their eggs develop outside their bodies so they’re great for studies of development, and best of all, they are transparent. You can introduce proteins that glow and watch them inside the animals– very beautiful.

    • Lise says:

      NYT: Exactly. I was elated to fill in 1A immediately and loved the answer. I also loved ZEBRAFISH and DARIEN (which reminds me of a poem I vaguely remember). But I really didn’t love most of the rest of it. Especially not MADAMES. I think I might have actually growled at that.

    • Lise says:

      I meant to say thanks for the interesting ZEBRA FISH information; they sound fascinating. I’m going to look them up now.

  5. arthur118 says:

    Easily the most disappointing Saturday puzzle in memory, slightly elevated by the excellent clue for 7 down, “Go in and out of middle management?” for YOYODIET.

  6. austin says:

    33D was one of the only things i liked about this puz. i’m thinking it’s a hep cat speakin’ that JIVETALK, ya dig?

  7. Jon Delfin says:

    (NYT) Second time I’ve had to consider this this week. When I took film courses in college, they taught us you could pan left, pan right, pan up, or pan down. But in and out? That’s a zoom. Is this an actual redefinition of panning from my college days, or a vox pop accepted misuse like calling a VAMP an intro?

    • Papa John says:

      I’m with you, Jon. Panning refers to the movement of the camera from a fixed spot (tripod). If the camera is sans zoom lens, then it would have to be moved from its fixed position, which is not panning.

    • pannonica says:

      You rang?

      Also, I agree with the technical nit expressed here.

  8. Papa John says:

    My experience with the NYT wasn’t as bad as the consensus. I thought it had a number of interesting, cute, original and clever clues. I’m not sure why E-CLASS is called out. Solvers are expected to know the various models of Saabs and Audis, why not Mercedes? If the second initial of Segar’s professional name is obscure, certainly the C in NIGHT_COURT is familiar to many. The stretched clues, dubious abbreviation, phrases, trivia and computer argot are reminiscent of a BEQ puzzle, although the musical reference wasn’t too obscure (good ol’ AXL). The only thing lacking was a bit of gutter talk, although SUCK might qualify.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It’s the first initial that’s trouble, not the second. There’s an S-Class too, right? There are actually seven different single-letter Mercedes classes, and no way to rule out a first initial for someone who is not remotely a household name.

      • Papa John says:

        FWIW, I believe Audi has more than thirty model numbers and Saab comes in close behind, maybe twenty or so.

        The Mercedes model number actually refers to specifics of the vehicle — engine size or type and body style, I think. Maybe I was lucky because E-CLASS is familiar to me. I know of S-Class and SLR-Class, too.

      • Sarah says:

        Maybe it should have been clued as “Online lecture” or something, at least then the answer is obvious.

        • Papa John says:

          No, no, no -pannonica would have freaked out if the puzzle contained both eNote and eClass. (Rightly so, I might add.)

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            We all would have derided E-CLASS being clued as an academic offering. That’s not a thing!

            And Papa John, Audi and Saab model numbers are completely irrelevant to this discussion since the crossword doesn’t include numerals or two-character entries.

  9. Byron says:

    I always enjoy the Huge T/Short z byline

  10. Bruce N Morton says:

    Oddly the SW was the first quadrant I completed. Darien is not far from Stamford, and a very elitist town. Maybe that’s why it’s pronounced DariEN. Antonio Rosetti is an obscure composer who would not be known to most solvers. Dante Gabriel Rosetti is much better known.

    Unfortunately, I entered “eye line” instead of “age line,”and proceeded to take an eon to unscramble the NE. I have a tendency to remove the wrong thing when something in a corner is obviously wrong. I might have had a semi-respectable time otherwise.

    Madames rather than Mesdames I think is just wrong, no matter how you try to justify it.

  11. Chukkagirl says:

    NYT: Glad I’m in good company — all of the above, and too many names for me. And I’ve never come across an enote.

  12. Norm says:

    WSJ: Rather light theme, but I thought there was a nice amount of whimsy in the clues throughout, so it was a very pleasing puzzle as a whole.

  13. Art Shapiro says:

    I detest proletarian culture as much as anyone here, but thought (with the exception of NAVI) that all the names receiving complaints seemed reasonable and non-obscure The puzzle proved rather easy for a Saturday, but otherwise was decent; I gave it three stars and was surprised at the almost-record low ratings today.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Composer Antonio Rosetti is non-obscure? The more famous 7-letter composers named Antonio are Vivaldi and Salieri.

      • Art Shapiro says:

        Fairly obscure, but hardly unknown to those of us who habitually listen to “classical” music. A welcome break from the multiplicity of rap artists that grace so many puzzles. The Wikepedia tabulation of his works shows that he was a rather prolific composer, more so than I realized.

        No I wouldn’t put it on an early-week puzzle but this IS Saturday.


    • Penguin Posse says:

      “I…was surprised at the almost-record low ratings today.”

      No doubt you were given you thought “all the names receiving complaints seemed reasonable and non-obscure.”

  14. dgh says:

    let’s not forget the worst answer of all, ENOTE. it’s 2017. no one says “enote,” and no one ever said it. atrocious.

  15. DRC says:

    WSJ – girl from uncle is cousin, not niece.

    • pannonica says:

      Think of it not as ‘from’ in the generative sense, but from a reciprocal perspective. A comma would make it more explicit.

      The girl and the uncle are also the man and the niece. Who is he to her? Who is she to him? Also, there’s a question mark to help.

      What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
      That he should weep for her? What would he do,
      Had he the motive and the cue for passion
      That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
      And cleave the general ear with horrid speech …

  16. JohnH says:

    NYT: with a little reluctance, since I got a good foothold and then a good challenge, I have to agree with pretty much all the complaints, especially Amy’s rundown. I never did get the crossing of Bluto’s creator and the class of cars, and I don’t recognize either one given the answer. I’m sure I sound old, but I shied away too in that quadrant from a down answer I found too vulgar to enter.

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