Saturday, April 8, 2017

LAT 5:41 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:15 (Derek) 


NYT 6:04 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 8 17, no 0408

The second 62-worder in two days and … Patrick Berry is a tough act to follow. Jeff’s grid is more flowy and it’s got some sparkle, but it’s also got more compromises than the Berry. I like ANTIGONE, ROOT BEER (fun clue, [Hires for a float?]), DEADHEAD (though I know that only as a Grateful Dead or gardening term, not as an [Ineffective pill]), CAN’T-FAIL, GETS DOWN, FOLK ART, BIT PART (nice clue, [It’s just a line or two]), ‘NUFF SAID, POOHBAH, and XKCD.

On the other hand, DONEE, AERI-, ANIL, ROB A BANK, NO-TAR, ABRA, and the DUET/DUELIST crossing (though apparently DUEL is a bit less two-centric than I’d thought) knock things down a couple notches. Does anyone still use NETIZEN? Feels dated.

Three more things:

  • 10d. [Gordon Gekko or Rooster Cogburn], ANTHROPOMORPHIC ANIMAL CHARACTERS. No, wait. Those are human ANTIHERO characters played by Michael Douglas and John Wayne.
  • 4d. [Words accompanying a head slap], “I SEE NOW.” Really? I’m not seeing it. “Oh, now I get it!,” sure. I SEE NOW feels awkward and unconnected to any forehead slap.
  • 9d. [Head scratcher?], WOOL CAP. Life’s too short to wear itchy things.

3.5 stars from me. Bring me a 68- to 72-worder with smoother fill and I’m happier.

Matt Skoczen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Best Bets” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/8/17 • “Best Bets” • Sat • Skoczen • solution

Very brief post today. Emergency I may have to help with.

Phrases with the letter sequence TS are wackified by transposing the two.

  • 23a. [Southern dish provided to factory workers?] GRITS FOR THE MILL (grist …).
  • 32a. [Military barracks inspection?] COTS ANALYSIS (cost …).
  • 37a. [Spa for some specialized bodybuilding?] LATS RESORT (last …).
  • 66a. [Program about the polish of popular poets of the 1950s?] BEAUTY AND THE BEATS (…beast).
  • 92a. [Piano bar covers?] IVORY COATS (… Coast).
  • 98a. [Heavenly real estate?] PARADISE LOTS (… Lost).
  • 112a. [Fools who favor a fragrant flavoring?] PEPPERMINT TWITS (… twist).

Easily-grasped theme, smooth solve.

Not involved in hijinks: 71a EXIST, 83a PLANETS, 1119a MT ST Helens, 14d STANLEY, 32d CATS, 53d ALERTS. Understandable—it’s a very common letter sequence—and not at all distractive.

Just one critical comment, that’s been discussed in these pages previously: 101d [Reindeer herders] LAPPS. That’s considered by many to be a pejorative term, and SAMI is preferred.

Mike Buckley’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

We have a themed Saturday LAT challenger! Check out the related astronomical entries:

  • 4A [Largest galaxy in the Local Group] ANDROMEDA
  • 34A, 35A, & 36A [Second-largest galaxy in the Local Group] THE MILKY WAY
  • 56A [By some calculations, projected fate of 4-Across and 34-/35-/36-Across in three to four billion years] COLLISION

Yikes! At least we have some advance warning! This gives me time to get my affairs together. If you’re wondering what the Local Group consists of, see here. Lots of goodies in this puzzle, and high kudos for a simple yet clever theme in a wide open puzzle. 4.7 stars!

Some notes:

    • 19A [Talmud letters] ALEPHS – I hope there are other letters of the Hebrew alphabet in there! Slightly odd clue, but I get what they mean.
    • 42A [Is demanding] ASKS A LOT – Like I did when I asked for help moving!
    • 3D [Whitney Houston appeared on its cover in 1981] SEVENTEEN – A long time ago!
    • 9D [Marvel Comics hybrid super villain] MAN-APE – I used to think I was familiar with comic book characters. I now realize I haven’t read them hardly at all for nearly 30 years. Who the heck is Man-Ape??
    • 31D [2008 Phoenix/Paltrow romantic drama] TWO LOVERS – I think I am more familiar with the Motown hit by Mary Wells with the same name!

  • 50D [XX x XXXV] DCC – Math is hard. Roman numeral math is harder!

Still moving. My back hurts! Have a great weekend!

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

I have usually not had too much trouble with Matthew Sewell’s Stumpers. This one started tough, but I will take a time of around 15 minutes. There are some really great entries in this one, and, as usual, some of these clues invoke some very interesting mind pictures! I cannot say much today, as I am in the middle of moving, but this was a really good puzzle. A solid 4.4 stars.

A few good things to mentions (and there are too many to mention!):

  • 17A [Resistance pilot in “The Force Awakens”] POE DAMERON – I saw this movie! It was this guy:
  • 20A [Pubs not reviewed much] ‘ZINES – As in “publications”. Do we call publications “pubs”? You don’t hear that much in Indiana. (Insert stereotypical joke here!) Still my favorite clue!
  • 34A [1998 Asian Games hosts] THAIS – This is also actually also a name. I had a music teacher with this name. And yes, the Games were in Bangkok.
  • 43A [Math term from the Latin for “curve”] SINE – Why did this seem so easy AFTER I solved it?
  • 45A [Radcliffe’s neighbor at Grauman’s] GRINT – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood is where the celebs have the cement handprints. Rupert Grint of course played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies.
  • 51A [Ten+-year tabloid topic] BRANGELINA – Unique clue with consecutive mathematical symbols. I am ashamed I got this immediately.
  • 5D [Greeks’ Trojan War opponents] AMAZONS – Familiar with the Trojan Horse, of course, but I didn’t remember who the war was between!
  • 7D [Rod Laver, in Melbourne] ARENA – Perhaps a little more in this clue, like [Rod Laver has his name on one, in Melbourne] or something similar? Rod Laver Arena is where the Australian Open championships are decided.
  • 11D [“You’re pushing it”] DON’T GET CUTE – Favorite entry!
  • 22D [Cosmetics customer concern] KISSABILITY – Another great long entry!
  • 31D [Milton’s “residue of design”] LUCK – I don’t believe in luck, so I like this quote!
  • 43D [Non-American with the most PGA T0ur wins] SINGH – This would be Vijay Singh of Fiji.

I said more than I thought I would! Back to moving ……..

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15 Responses to Saturday, April 8, 2017

  1. PSA about today’s Newsday Stumper:

    The 52D clue got cut off of the PDF. It reads [What 34 Across understand when spoken].

  2. Nene says:

    A bit heavy on gimmicky clues. It felt like trying too hard to be clever. Sometimes less is more.

  3. Christopher Smith says:

    I’ll just come out & say I don’t totally get the ROOT BEER clue. Also DEADHEAD, which I’ve seen used several ways but not in reference to a placebo. Also much more familiar with “can’t-miss” than CANT FAIL. Didn’t wreck the puzzle for me, just seemed a little off.

    • Dave C says:

      Hires is a popular brand of Root Beer.

      Long, long-time fan of the Grateful Dead here who needed every crossing for DEADHEAD, and still wasn’t sure it was right (though nothing else really made sense – maybe DEAD HEAT?)

    • Glenn (the other one) says:

      Hires is a brand of root beer and “float” refers to a root beer float (root beer mixed with vanilla ice cream).

  4. huda says:

    NYT: I’m surprised that I actually ranked this higher than yesterday’s and I am a Berry fan. But this one did have more sparkle and I guess sparkle sells, in spite of some associated tackiness. Yesterday, the puzzle was TAUT and classy, a perfect little black dress, today it’s a more trendy, hip outfit.

    I struggled in the SW mostly because AREOLE evaded me. I’ve seen it in puzzles before, but it seems so counter-intuitive– it has a lightness to it that is exactly the opposite of bump on a cactus… I’ll try to remember it…

    I have a 7-month old grandson called THEO (DORE). It’s a presidential name and I figure he might become the first US president who is part Chinese, part Syrian, part Northern European, one of those great American mutts– awesome little packages of genetic diversity.

    • David L says:

      I don’t suppose I’ll be around to see your grandson become president but I wish him and his campaign well. And I heartily agree about diversity — it’s one of the things I love most about my adopted country. I say that as someone who is about as un-mongrel as you can get, unless you go back to the Vikings invading England a long time ago.

  5. David L says:

    SW was tough for me, even after I got THEODORE and CANTFAIL. FAKEART? Nope, that couldn’t be right.

    I don’t understand the clue for DEADHEAD either, unless Mr Chen has a low opinion of Grateful Dead fans — but the clue should describe them as ‘ineffectual pills’ in that case.

    DUET crossing DUELIST seems inelegant to me. I like seeing POOHBAH because it’s a fun word that I try to use as often as I can (not very often, alas).

  6. Steve Manion. says:

    I interpreted the “pill” in “ineffectual pill” as an annoying person who adds little or nothing to the group. I assumed it actually meant a curative that didn’t work, but I had never heard that usage. Perhaps my initial thought was caused by the fact that the only time I ever saw the Grateful Dead was at Woodstock where I was among thousands who couldn’t wait for them to get off the stage. They were horrible. One explanation that has sought to rationalize that terrible performance was that the group was constantly experiencing electric shocks in their guitars. I think they were very high on ineffectual pills.

    Excellent Saturday puzzle of average difficulty.


  7. Chukkagirl says:

    DEADHEAD still makes no sense to me, whether an actual drug or an individual.

  8. Derek Allen says:

    Just got my posts up a little after 5:30. Forgive me, everybody. It’s moving weekend!

    • Mike Buckley says:

      Thanks for your review of the LAT puzzle, Derek. By the way, the pinwheel of blocks in the puzzle is supposed to represent a spiral galaxy, a symbol of what may bring about the end of the world as we know it. Take care of your back.

  9. Norm says:

    I thought WSJ was delightful. GRITS FOR THE MILL, PARADISE LOTS, and BEAUTY AND THE BEATS made me laugh out loud, and the rest at least made me smile. NYT was not as bad as I expected when I saw the byline, but I found the SW very hard for some reason. Doesn’t seem as though it should have been that difficult in retrospect, but CYAN didn’t work and it took me a while to get a foothold. LAT was fun, although the SW slowed me here as well, since I was focused on Defoe rather than Jack Webb, and it took me a while to change my frame of reference. All in all, a very nice Saturday, and welcome diversions after our lovely coastal redwood fell onto the neighbor’s house in Thursday night’s storm. No injuries and no major damage, thank goodness.

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