Saturday, July 8, 2017

LAT 8:52 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:27 (Derek) 


NYT 5:25 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 8 17, no 0708

Well, that clue is straight-up incorrect. 26a. [Midsize bra parts], B CUPS? No. Factually wrong. I don’t understand why the male constructor, male editors, male fact-checker, and test solvers (both male and female!) didn’t catch that. I mean, it’s super-easy to Google that sort of thing and learn something, instead of showing your ignorance right there in black and white. Heck, you don’t even need to Google it. Just ask pretty much any woman: “Is a B cup considered midsize?” They’ll tell you it’s actually on the smaller end of the spectrum. Crikey, how unaware do you have to be to think it’s basically A, B, C and a little more? Cup sizes go up to, I dunno, K or L or M. I have friends who are F or G or H. (Any leering comments will be deleted.) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that B ain’t midsize.

Also, we’re tired of seeing *CUPS bra clues in the damn crossword. Boys! Knock it off. (That said, I’m working on a fund-raiser puzzle pack, and a top woman in the business plans to make a boob-themed puzzle, and both of the editors are women, and that is where this sort of thing works.)

Instead, let’s include CUP(S) in the grid, and clue it by way of athletic cup sizes. Here’s the NuttyBuddy athletic cup. They have an extra-small, but they call that size Hammer. Small is Boss, medium is Hog, large is Trophy, and XL is Mongo. (See also: “magnum”-sized condoms.) Note: There is only three quarters of an inch of depth separating the XS Hammer from the XL Mongo. Also note: Women’s sizes don’t have to shore up our egos.

So anyway. This 68-word puzzle was a little easy for a Saturday NYT. Nice bits: CRAFT SHOW, REMOULADE, the mini-theme of “I’LL PASS” and “YOU’RE ON,” BO PEEP, and RAP BATTLE. (Have Bo Peep and a rap battle been mentioned in the same sentence before?) And TURPITUDE, I like—are there kinds other than moral?

Never heard of BEER DARTS and it sounds like a really bad idea. NO FAT is a yucky answer (nonfat and fat-free sound better), the A AND E channel never spells out that ampersand (I don’t care for the crutch of spelling out numbers and punctuation in ways they’re not used in the wild). In the blah filler category, we have OPIE, CBER, plural FORES, ODEON, LEA, LEM, IRE, dated Sydney OMARR …  felt a little stodgier (DECADES OLD!) than you’d expect from a younger constructor like David. I’m used to a good bit more sparkle from David, as he’s set the bar high with many prior gems.

22a. [Intriguing meeting], TRYST?? “Intriguing”? Because it involves a modicum of intrigue to sneak off to have a tryst? That must be what the clue’s getting at, but without a question mark.

3 2/3 stars from me. How’d it treat you?

Samuel A. Donaldson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

I get to blog a puzzle from one of my colleagues! This makes me feel like I should construct another puzzle; it’s only been over 20 years since I made my last one! I promise: when I finish my Masters courses I will make more!

In the meantime, this puzzle is a gem. I tripped up a bit because I don’t know how to count to ten in Italian, and because 11D could have been DIGIPAL in my twisted head instead of DIGITAL, which not only makes more sense but is easier! A solid 4.6 stars for this 64-word puzzle with what seems like to me like zero icky entries! Well done, Sam!

A few notes:

  • 7A [Elegant pool entrance] SWAN DIVE – As opposed to the not-so-elegant cannonball!
  • 24A [“30 fo 30” documentary series airer] ESPN – Founded by Bill Simmons, I believe, who is one of several sports journalist personalities that have left there and cannot stand the “mothership” anymore. The documentaries are quite good though, whether you are a sports fan or not.
  • 37A [Producer who developed “The Jeffersons”] NORMAN LEAR – One of my favorite shows of all time!
  • 54A [Men’s department fixtures] TIE RACKS – Or [Men’s closet fixture], although some people rarely wear them anymore.
  • 6D [Coke holder] POP-TOP CAN – I don’t hear pop cans called this much around here; is this a regional term?
  • 12D [“No need to be scared of me”] I DON’T BITE – Best entry of the puzzle!
  • 46D [Windows 7 precursor] VISTA – I am old enough to remember this, and also old enough that it was long enough ago for it to be tough to remember!

I could go on, but you get the idea. A fun Saturday challenge! Have a great weekend!

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

I am finally getting the hang of Frank’s puzzles, after a solid 2+ years of wracking my brain with his creations! Of course, I say that because I actually solved one of his in under 30 minutes, but this only means the next one will be dastardly hard and reduce me to near tears. But I will enjoy this one while it lasts! The key for me was getting 35A with only a few letters; it seems as if it should have been 4 or 5 word phrase. I also had SPACE PODS instead of SPACE JUNK at 38A, which caused a minor clog in the middle. I finished in the upper half of the puzzle where you see the cursor. The lower half definitely played a little easier for me. Frank is still a master at these. 4.4 stars.

Just a few things:

  • 14A [Business casual option] CHINO – This was tough. I don’t think I own anything made of this material.
  • 22A [Oscar winner as a self-styled “King”] WHITAKER – Forest Whitaker got is Oscar for portraying Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Another movie I have not seen but would like to.
  • 35A [Start holding] TAKE OWNERSHIP OF – As mentioned, I was thinking along the lines of “TAKE ONE’S …” but that obviously didn’t work. Smooth 15-letter entry.
  • 39A [Former hotel fixtures] TELEPHONE BOOTHS – Former fixtures anywhere! I am old enough to remember these all too well.
  • 48A [Heat & __ (fireplace brand)] GLO – I don’t know how I got this quickly. I don’t think I know this brand, and I thought they made some logs that go in a fireplace, like a Duraflame log!
  • 2D [Coffeehouse serving] CHAI TEA – I like this beverage, but I was stumped here too because I had the suffix -IZE at 24A instead of -ITE, so imagine my surprise when this wasn’t some Italian coffee creation!
  • 21D [Spectral glide, in jazz] WAH WAH – Aren’t there Wawa gas stations out east?
  • 26D [Toy first made of redwood] LINCOLN LOGS – I filled this in first! Again, I am that old.
  • 43D [Big chemistry test] HOT DATE – Best clue in the puzzle!

I said just a few things! Have a great weekend!

Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Features” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/8/17 • “Double Features” • Sat • Gale, Shenk • solution

Each theme entry consists of two film titles run together, achieved as the last three letters of the first film match the first three of the second. Generally these are called mash-ups but since this is cinematic let’s dub them dissolves, which is the analogous transition in that medium.

Oh, I should mention that the clues seek to synthesize the two films wackily. And luridly.

  • 23a. [Double feature! Racer Elvis tries to make Ingrid think she’s going insane!] VIVA LAS VEGASLIGHT.
  • 41a. [Double feature! Teens douse Alex the lion with pig’s blood!] MADAGASCARRIE.
  • 59a. [Double feature! Paul Newman evades spies and cyborgs!] THE TERMINATORN CURTAIN.
  • 79a. [Double feature! A tipsy Dudley Moore fights for Scottish independence!] BRAVEHEARTHUR.
  • 99a. [Double feature! Fonda and Hepburn dodge gunfire atop the Empire State Building!] KING KONGOLDEN POND.
  • 16d. [Double feature! An autistic savant protects a Japanese village!] SEVEN SAMURAINMAN.
  • 36d. [Double feature! Terrorists take over a pop idol’s “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance!] BYE BYE BIRDIE HARD.

Once I saw how the theme worked, I ignored the lengthy clues, instead relying on accumulated crossings and familiarity with film titles to intuit the answers.

  • More cinema. 1a [Turner of “Imitation of Life”] LANA (a Douglas SIRK film), 50a [Bob Hoskins’s “Hook” role] SMEE, 108a [Gibson of “The Fate of the Furious”] TYRESE, 62d [Best Picture winner from 2005] CRASH. Honorable mention: 60d [Moonstruck] IN LOVE.
  • Favorite clues: 27a [Source of spots] AD AGENCY, 76a [One may given with a blessing] TISSUE.
  • 55a [Indian ponies] CAYUSES. Eponymous, from a native American tribe of the Washington/Oregon area.
  • 82a [The Sopwith Snark, for one] TRIPLANE. That’s a helluva moniker. At least with Sopwith I knew the general category.
  • 1d/14d [Popocatepetl output] LAVA, ASH. Well obviously I need to include an image of this volcano located near Mexico City.

    More mountains: 105a [Mount Narodnaya’s range] URALS, 103a [Craggy crest] TOR.

(I wish that video had been better.)

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31 Responses to Saturday, July 8, 2017

  1. Steve Manion. says:

    How is SLUR the answer to score similar to a tie?

    Fairly easy puzzle again for me. Unusual.


  2. lemonade714 says:

    Thank you, I would have never known about ties and slurs.

  3. David L says:

    Mostly easy but the NE and SW corners were tough for me. I had [something]DARTS — I’ve also never heard of BEERDARTS, and I spent a good many hours of my youth playing darts in pubs. I guessed at OPIE and then RAP[something] and slowly pieced it together.

    In the other corner I went from CRAFTFAIR (which fits nicely with AONE) and then CRAFTSALE and then finally CRAFTSHOW. I thought there was sauce called something like REMOULADE but haute cuisine is not one of my strengths.

  4. roger says:

    Longtime Knicks nickname–only since 2011 so it only seems like a long time to those who remember Willis, Clyde, Dave, Bill, Earl and the gang. Hopefully, it will turn into a short time and he will be gone.

  5. diana hunter says:

    Nice work about bras, Amy.

  6. Martin says:

    Cup size is very dependent on location. Yes, in the US, D+ is average today, but it wasn’t always so. Moreover, in many countries, A, B or C is the average. Considering that it’s A in China and B in India, C may be generous when considering the world-wide average.

    This test-solver understands Amy’s perspective well from prior posts, but hesitates to touch bra clues considering the ambiguity and potential for getting slapped around.

  7. Will Shortz says:

    B CUPS is a tricky answer to clue. Of course everyone knows that a B cup is on the smaller end of the spectrum for bra sizes. But as bra sizes are a sensitive subject for some, I hesitated to clue B CUPS as “Smallish bra sizes,” for fear of offending some solvers. In fact, there were complaints about this very clue once. So I described the B cup as “midsize,” because it is literally in the range between A and D.

    If “midsize” is not a good description, what *is* a good clue for B CUPS?

    “Certain bra sizes” would be completely safe, but it leaves the first letter essentially unchecked, which I was trying to avoid.

    Can anyone provide other suggestions? I would like to know, because this answer will come up again in the future.

    –Will Shortz

    • PJ Ward says:

      How about “Average bra size in in the US in 1997”?

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Sorry, just watching the tumbleweeds. Maybe “Bra size that sounds like a mispronounced French adjective?” Add “ironically” at your discretion. You’re good at this.

    • Lise says:

      “Not the smallest bra size(s)”? Unless that would offend someone.

      This is tricky.

    • As cup sizes in the United States now go up to O, and in the UK go up to L, B CUPS are nowhere near the middle of the range. People who had to purchase a larger band size because the cup sizes were not made large enough can now usually find a cup size which fits properly.

      The main issue, though, is not that the range of cup sizes has increased greatly in past decades. The issue is that cup sizes for some reason are common fodder for crossword puzzles. For many people with breasts, bras are not a fashion statement, but are a necessity to help combat chronic back and shoulder pain as well as to limit ogling and lewd comments and gestures. Or they are a method to make breasts look larger because society seems to shame people if their breasts are not deemed large enough.

      Athletic cup sizes and condom sizes are rarely if ever found in crossword grids, and never in the NYT. Why not? It’s no different, just an entry about the size of an organ often used to objectify people and/or judge sexual attractiveness. For some reason, it’s okay to include one but not the other. It should either all be fair game, or the culture should change so people can see why neither should be acceptable.

      • Sarah says:

        Your American bias is showing. B is about average size for Asia, which as crosswords should’ve told you, is where the majority of us humans live.

        And as far as I can tell, condom sizes are generally measured in inches, not a particular name, which is why these 30-40 letter answers have not shown up yet (and why they never should).

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          This is an American crossword puzzle, so yes, it’s got the U.S. as its baseline.

          I’ve never heard of condom sizes being given in inches.

          • Sarah says:

            A regional or worldwide interpretation of the clue are the most sensible options, and a worldwide interpretation makes the clue accurate.

      • hellcat says:

        *Orson Welles applauding.gif*

      • Steve Manion. says:

        I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the comments about cup and condom sizes for men. I don’t think I have ever thought about different cup sizes for men. I wore a cup (always) in football and when I played catcher in baseball and not otherwise. The chafing was worse than the limited protection needed for most other sports.

        As to condom sizes, I would think that men’s fragile egos would make the minimum size “large.” I reality, aren’t most of the names related to pleasure rather than size.


    • MW says:

      If you do continue to have bra sizes in the puzzle, I think you should avoid a relative size clue, just say something like “certain,” and be sure it’s a very fair cross. (I believe you do this with “some linemen.”) I acknowledge that a DD cup is average in the U.S., but as someone who can wear an A only if the brand is cut small, I would wince a little if C CUP were clued as “small.”

  8. GGSF says:

    Glad Derek enjoys the LATimes puzzles. After seeing the general consensus for today’s and Derek’s write up, I had to try it. Once again I’m reminded why I don’t do it. Yes it is free, and sure one has to expect ads in return, but the amount of time that some take to load or refresh is more than annoying. Never again. Five stars aren’t even worth the aggravation.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      You don’t have to solve it there! Sign up for a free account and you can download the .puz file there. (Our download link on the Today’s Puzzles page should work too, provided you’re logged into your Cruciverb account.)

    • Glenn (the other one) says:

      Try it here. And you’re welcome.

  9. Adrian says:

    Given the preponderance of women living in India and China I would agree with the B-cup being midsize.
    Just because the NYT is published in America doesn’t mean all clues must adhere to the American standard. There are often clues for “summer in Paris” or “bears in Mexico”.

    The following map should make things clear.

    The assumption that the average is close to the average you know is often part of the False consensus effect which you can read lots about on wikipedia.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It’s an American crossword puzzle! Should the names of Russian and Chinese car models be included alongside American cars? The mayors of Indian cities? When the bulk of the puzzle’s audience is overseas, we’ll talk. Until then …

    • e.a. says:

      hey remember that time “mansplain” was in the puzzle and 37 men came on here all het up about it

      one would imagine that those of you who had all this time to become experts on the average cup size by country just to push this “american bias” derailment along

      would have also had time to address the larger critique here

      (that the preponderance of bra-centric clues in puzzles disproportionately written and edited by men is always going to make some solvers uncomfortable, no matter how factually accurate)

      but then, that would have required you to actually listen to women

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