Saturday, August 12, 2017

LAT 6:15 (Derek) 


Newsday 16:13 (Derek) 


NYT 10:55 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

This puzzle generally went faster than usual for a Saturday, although I spent nearly a minute looking for the mistake. I usually do the Saturday puzzle in the actual paper, and I wouldn’t have known there was a mistake.

1a [Cambridge student, informally] was a gimme, since Harvard athletes also sometimes go by the same moniker: CANTAB. The rest of that corner took much longer to fall – I came back to it after filling in most of the right side of the puzzle.

Things I liked:

NYT 8/12, solution grid

  • 15a [Start of a big fight?] references the THRILLA in Manila.
  • 17a [One difficult to tie down] is a COMMITMENTPHOBE.
  • 24a [___ New York (upscale department store chain)] I originally misread this as “uptown” rather than “upscale,” which confused me, because BARNEYS is both midtown and downtown but not uptown and uptown, unbeknownst to me.
  • 25a [Short but not necessarily sweet] is CURT.
  • 26a [Applesauce-topped nosh] is a LATKE. I dunno about “nosh,” which to me implies something light. There is nothing light about latkes, at least not the way they’re made in my family.
  • 37d [Places to cool it?] are SILLS, where “it” is a pie.

I was not entranced with 41a [Ability to learn and adapt neurologically]. I didn’t read the clue carefully and I had the end of the answers from crossings, so I dropped in NEUROPLASTICITY  – and ground to a halt, because nothing made sense on the left side of the puzzle. When I looked again, I realized that “neuro” was in the clue, and I grudgingly changed it to BRAIN PLASTICITY. This is accurate, but it’s not in the language in the same way. Google gives me 510,000 hits for BRAIN PLASTICITY and over four million for NEUROPLASTICITY.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that greaves are LEG ARMOR.

I leave you with Vic DAMONE.

Doug Peterson and Patti Varol’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

These themeless constructions by Doug and Patti are growing on me! All these two need now is a clever pseudonym. Unfortunately, I have no clever ideas! They do seem to work well together, though, and this puzzle is a grand example of that synergy. Lots of good stuff in this puzzle. I found the upper left the hardest, and I had a small brain cramp where you see the cursor in the image. (And the error!) I am not that familiar with 57A [Buckwheat porridge] KASHA, but I DO know Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption, which surprisingly is nearly 25 years old! A casual error on my part, the kind that would prove fatal at the ACPT. Speaking of crossword tournaments, I still haven’t downloaded the Boston puzzles yet! 4.5 stars today.

A few notes:

    • 1A [Modern categorizing aid] HASHTAG – A great 1-Across entry. Not too tough, but not immediately gettable.
    • 17A [Homophonically named ’60s sitcom lady] JEANNIE – I remember I Dream of Jeannie because I used to watch it in syndication in the 80s, before we had cable TV. She was an actual “genie,” in case you didn’t know, hence the clue.
    • 53A [Peabody-winning journalist Ifill] GWEN – The late Gwen Ifill was a fine journalist, even moderating debates at times. She just passed away this last November.
    • 68A [Only president to win a Pulitzer Prize] KENNEDY – For what you ask? Profiles in Courage, a book released in 1956. I have never read it. I will look for it in our local library this weekend!
    • 1D [Pillar of Islam] HAJJ – This refers to the trip to Mecca, and is spelled a few different ways in English.
    • 5D [“Candida” singer] TONY ORLANDO – An oldie!

  • 26D [Pioneering music player] SONY WALKMAN – You could take your music with you for the first time when this came out. We take it for granted now with all of these smartphones, but this was a game-changer 35 or 40 years ago.
  • 29D [Rocker alternative] PORCH SWING – Why does the rocker have to be on the porch? Clue is fair enough, but It seems there could be a better one.
  • 52D [Dwarf who traveled with Bilbo] BALIN – I don’t know this character at all. I never read the books when I was younger, and I haven’t seen one nanosecond of any of the movies. I must be getting old …

See you on Tuesday for another LAT puzzle. Have a great weekend!

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

I consider it a small victory when I can finish a Longo Stumper in under 20 minutes. But I am just a tad disappointed in my time, because I had most of this grid filled in within 8 or 9 minutes. I could have broken 15 minutes! But the middle right section really stumped me. The image shows my cursor at literally the last letter I filled in. Upper left not too hard, middle actually seemed a little easier than a normal Longo. But it sure felt like a Stumper at the end! 4.6 stars.

Some highlights:

    • 15A [Cry while taking a bath] I’M RUINED! – One of the two best clues in the puzzle.
    • 30A [Spreadsheet products] ARRAYS – I work with Excel a lot now, and I never speak of the data as an “array,” but I suppose this is still true!
    • 44A [“Gimme a break!”] FOR PETE’S SAKE! – I think this is the best entry. Made me grin a bit when I got it!
    • 52A [Twist-era dance] WATUSI – A tad before my time, but I still kinda remember this song. Here is Chubby Checker’s version:

  • 55A [Hop-on, hop-off bus route] OPEN LOOP – I cannot tell you the last time I rode a public bus, so this term is totally unfamiliar to me.
  • 2D [Baby name list topper for 2016] EMMA – I have a niece with this name! This also was my late grandmothers name. Things like names seem to go in cycles, right?
  • 6D [Juicy tidbits] INTIMATE DETAILS – I have to mention the two 15-letter entries that span the grid top-to-bottom! This is also very good, and for some reason I got it rather quickly.
  • 9D [Totally transcendent] LIGHT YEARS AHEAD – The other long entry. Splendid.
  • 25D [Ingredient in some vinaigrettes] CANOLA – I don’t cook much, so this is part of the reason this area took me a few minutes!
  • 34D [It moves quickly] BIG SELLER – The other one of the two best clues, in my opinion. Also very tough!
  • 49D [Peaks form over them] EONS – This may have been one of the hardest clues in the grid. Very tricky!

I could go on! Nice puzzle. See you next week for another Stumper!

Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Would-Be Writers” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/12/17 • “Would-Be Writers” • Harrison • solution

Enjoyed this line-up of puns.

  • 23a. [The broker always seemed to create ___ ] STOCK CHARACTERS.
  • 35a. [The NBA pro penned ___ ] TALL TALES.
  • 40a. [The U-Haul rental agent gave a ___ ] MOVING ACCOUNT.
  • 67a. [The judge favored ___ ] LONG SENTENCES.
  • 95a. [The chef wanted to publish his ___ ] STIRRING PROSE.
  • 103a. [The chiropractor’s strong suit was a good ___ ] BACKSTORY.
  • 119a. [The real  estate mogul’s forte was ___ ] PLOT DEVELOPMENT.

Genuinely smiled more than once among these.

  • 19a/22a [Poker player’s declaration] ALL IN, I’M OUT.
  • 40d [Aspiring MD’s hurdle] MCAT. Too dupey for my liking: MCAT is Medical College Admission Test, MD is Doctor of Medicine (originally, Latinate medicinae doctor).
  • Guys I didn’t know: 76a [With 66-Across, Tea Leoni’s “Madam Secretary” husband] TIM | DALY. 48d [Orioles relief pitcher Darren] O’DAY. But I do know—outside of crosswords, no less—actress TYNE DALY and pop/jazz singer ANITA O’DAY.
  • 30d [Boyer of baseball[ CLETE. Don’t know any Cletes.
  • The baseball continues. 69a [Al Kaline, e.g.] TIGER. Is his middle name Phosphatase? Seriously, I thought this was another pun and that possibly a rap moniker.
  • 4d [Stress symptoms] TICS. Thinking of Herbert LOM’s Chief Inspector Dreyfus from the Pink Panther movies.
  • 10d [“The ___ Baltimore” (Lanford Wilson play)] HOT L. As you might imagine:
  • 124a [Solution strength: Abbr.] CONC. Ouch.
  • 87d [Mace, e.g.] SPICE. The ARIL of NUTMEG, for you MGWCC solvers.
  • 17d [Canadian singer Michael] BUBLÉ.

    (I don’t even know who Michael Parkinson is, though I presume he’s a talk show host.)
  • Favorite clues: 2d [Right place at the rite time] ALTAR, 6d [“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance” speaker] OPHELIA, 83d [Bachelors’ sexist counterparts] SPINSTERS (the label is sexist, not the unmarried women, and the clue calls this out), 97d [Company with a reptilian mascot] GEICO (only because it avoids the word “spokeslizard”; see also clues for AFLAC mentioning a “spokesduck”), 50a [Frequent] HAUNT, 86a [Company men] GIS (though there are also women in the infantry now), 89a [Gloomy Gus] SOURPUSS, 106a [Be left] INHERIT.

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12 Responses to Saturday, August 12, 2017

  1. Dinesh Krithivasan says:

    Thanks for the write-up. I am a regular reader. Just wanted to chime in and say “nosh” was probably used to indicate that the answer is a Yiddish word.

  2. dook says:

    Maybe I wasn’t awake, but NYT Saturday was very difficult and ultimately not satisfying. Too many answers were unknowns – leg armor, brain plasticity, commitment phobe? (that’s a phrase??), warbird, etc. And, I’m a third generation native New Yorker. It’s Barneys. Period. Also, I’ve never seen or heard of a banana pie. It’s banana cream pie. Scowl!

    • Amy L says:

      Beltline? I just googled it and found out it was a railroad in Philadelphia (which I’ve never heard of although I’m a long time Philly tour guide). Does anyone watch their beltline? Do T-nuts really have flat tops? Minotaurs? I’m familiar with faience figures of snake goddesses from Crete, although there probably were minotaurs. I think some scowls are appropriate.

      A very tough one for me.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        I know a lot of men who measure their weight gain or loss by where they buckle their belt, so that one didn’t bother me. The Minotaur was the monster in the Labyrinth designed by Icarus and Daedalus on Crete, so that was a gimme. Maybe I just read too much Mary Renault when I was younger. Ts have flat tops, so why not T-nuts?

        I know New Yorkers don’t call it “Barneys New York” – I figured they clued it that way to make it slightly more accessible for non-natives.

      • Steve Manion. says:

        One of the maladies associated with the beltline is Dunlaps disease, where the belly done laps over the belt. There is disagreement as to whether the belt should go under the belly or at the belly button.


  3. Steve Manion. says:

    I also put in NEUROPLASTICITY and wondered if the ending excused the duplication.
    I agree that it is banana CREAM pie and I also did not know greaves.

    I struggled in the SW. Tough puzzle for me.


  4. Jenni Levy says:

    The middle right section of the Stumper had me for far longer than I care to admit. Finally had to run letters of the alphabet to get SELLER, realized it was BIG SELLER, and then the rest fell into place. That little bit was fiendish. I had a brief thought about Australia when I was trying to figure out the state capital clue – wish I’d followed that train further. That was the last one I filled in.

    Really good puzzle.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Agree about that section. It took me as long as all the other sections combined. Which often seems to be the case with one section of a Stumper. I wish the difficulty level could be fairly uniform throughout. I went through HOTSELLER, TOPSELLER, and several others first, I also had STPAUL for the longest time instead of SYDNEY. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  5. Lane says:

    Who said there was going to be a test! NYT was a trivia laden headache imo.

    Stumper was on the easy side I suppose but I thought it really well done.

  6. JohnH says:

    I liked the NYT more than other commenters, although I agree that BRAIN PLASTICITY and BANANA PIE felt way off. My sticking point was different, though. Maybe I’m squeamish, but I hated leaving the puzzle with the image of human LIMBS torn off by a storm.

Comments are closed.