Saturday, September 9, 2017

LAT 7:49 (Derek) 


Newsday 16:04 (Derek) 


NYT 5:57 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Be safe, Floridian and Caribbean crossworders! Fingers crossed that you all make it through Hurricane Irma safely.

John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 9 17, no 0909

First up, let’s clear the air with the things that bugged me while I was solving:

  • 3d. [Like hall-of-fame inductees, typically], RET. Where the heck is the abbreviation signal? We don’t flush those down the toilet just because it’s Saturday, right?
  • GOT TURNED ON is a little weird with the past-tense GOT in there, plus we have present-tense GET REST, which feels a little weird compared with “get some rest.” GOT and GET are two forms of the same word, unfortunate dupe.

Faves: WORLDS APART, iHEART RADIO (this is where I listen to Casey Kasem’s old ’70s and ’80s American Top 40 radio shows online … and when I don’t care for that particular show, I can bounce around among various ’80s stations from around the country), PEACE SUMMIT, P.R. NIGHTMARE, SPIDEY-SENSE, HORSE AROUND, FLACCID, Jean Claude VAN DAMME, ZONE DEFENSE, and “A DEAL’S A DEAL.”

Six more things before I go off to GET REST:

  • 19a. [2016 campaign topic], EMAIL. Ugh, don’t remind me.
  • 49a. [Team in Houston], NASA. I figured this was going to be an MLS or WNBA team, but no, not a sports team at all.
  • 1d. [Drag accessory], WIG. Raise your hand if you filled in BOA right off the bat.
  • 29d. [Start of a billet-doux], CHERE. An inflected form of a French word? Meh.
  • 59d. [“___ ohev otach” (Hebrew for “I love you”)], ANI. Ooh, I did not know this. Nice change-up from the usual ANIs we get.
  • 60d. [Staff], MAN. Ugh. With all the many ways to clue MAN, we get an inherently sexist usage?

3.9 stars from me. Good night!

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

We have another LAT Saturday challenge by one of my new favorite and prolific constructors. A robust 70-word themeless here, with a pair of 15-letter entries running vertically in a configuration not often seen. Well done! A solid effort this week, and a high 4.6 stars from me. A tad tougher than a usual LAT Saturday, but that is OK!

A few highlights:

    • 15A [Contemporary of Plácido] LUCIANO – A contemporary of Plácido Domingo is Luciano Pavarotti. I don’t know why it took me a bit to come up with this!
    • 30A [Minor employment needs, in some places] WORK PERMITS – I don’t think I ever had to get one of these, but I am so old I don’t remember! But friends of mine have had to get these in the past.
    • 36A [Pittsburgh’s __ Park] PNC – Sponsored by PNC Bank. I hear this is one of the most picturesque stadiums to visit, as the pic shows. I will make a road trip here one day!
    • 38A [Helpful program for frequent fliers] TSA PRE-CHECK – A phenomenal entry, while at the same time being a common phrase if you have ever flown. I paid for this, but I see sometimes they randomly assign people to the pre-check. And you still may get stopped, as I have before!
    • 3D [Like Pentatonix performances] A CAPPELLA – My son is a big fan of their music. I have attached a sample for your enjoyment!

  • 12D [Jack’s links rival] ARNIE – A great clue here, since you automatically (at least I did!) think of Jack Links beef jerky!
  • 31D [“Good first step”] “IT’S A START” – See 32D
  • 32D [“Not true!”] THAT’S A LIE! – Two spoken phrases stacked together expertly. The only thing that would have made it cooler is if they were linked in some sort of conversation, but that would be hard to do in this case.
  • 33D [Knight who co-founded Death Row Records] SUGE – Is he still in jail??
  • 45D [“Ungainly fowl” of poetry] RAVEN – I don’t remember this quote, but it is in the poem, as you can see by this copy of stanz 9:

Have a great weekend everyone! I will be busy working on the new Panda Magazine!

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

Man, I BLITZED through the first quarter or so of this puzzle in like 2 minutes, and I was feeling confident! Then, reality hit. Still a decent time for me on a Longo Stumper, but a little deflating, I will admit. Frank is still an absolute master of this style of puzzlemaking, and I am jealous of his talent. 70 words in this one, and surprisingly there are no entries longer than 10 letters. But there is very little dreck, if any, and this was hard enough to make it satisfying when it was completely solved. And I had no mistakes! That, too, is an accomplishment when filling in one of these things! 4.4 stars.

Some notes:

  • 15A [Big name among smart speakers] AMAZON ECHO – I caught onto this quickly, and it helps that I had several crossers. Arguably one of the best clues in the puzzle. Amazon stays in the news with their acquisition of Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods, and also they are looking to build a second HQ here in this part of the country, possibly even Chicago. As they grow, it could possibly have serious ramifications for UPS in the future. As long as my pension check keeps coming!
  • 44A [Sacramental symbol] CRUCIFIX – I don’t know why it took me a bit to grok this out. Nice touch that it crosses BASILICAS at 33D. Possible clue tie-in was missed here?
  • 59A [Polka-band staple] CONCERTINA – I don’t play this, and I have rarely seen one, but it appears to be like a mini-accordion.
  • 12D [Effortlessly] ON A PLATTER – This reads slightly off to me, but it must be good. The clue and the answer should be interchangable in a sentence, and it doesn’t seem that way to me. I could be wrong!
  • 13D [Compounding base] ANNUAL RATE – This accountant in me was upset that I got totally fooled by this! I was thinking chemistry!
  • 28D [Site of San Diego’s Lemur Walk] SAFARI PARK – I have only been to San Diego to change planes. I would love to move visit the San Diego Zoo someday, and this attraction seems to be some part of that. Ideally, I would MOVE there to take advantage of that awesome weather!

Have a great weekend!

Roger and Kathy Wienberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Literary Surroundings” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/9/17 • “Literary Surroundings” • Sat • Wienberg • solution

  • 102aR [Simon & Garfunkel album, and a hint to what can precede and follow the halves of the starred answers] BOOKENDS.
  • 27a. [*Golf ball striker] CLUB FACE. So that’s book club / facebook. See how it works? I didn’t because I worked the grid without looking at the title and didn’t get to the revealer until pretty much the end of the solve.
  • 29a. [*Magazine lead] COVER STORY. Once more, book cover / storybook.
  • 42a. [Galaxy, e.g.] SMART PHONEBook-smart, phone book.
  • 45a. [*Task for TSA agents] BAG CHECK. You know the drill.
  • 63a. [*Envelope inscription] RETURN ADDRESS. Uh-huh.
  • 83a. [*Good sport’s forte] FAIR PLAY. No, seriously, you’re on your own.
  • 85a. [*Wimbledon highlight] TITLE MATCH. Go ’way.
  • 100a. [*:And that’s that!”] CASE CLOSED. Are you still here?

Okay theme I suppose, but kind of musty. The short, quotidian theme entries don’t exactly free it up from the dryasdust trappings.

  • 3d [Execute camels, e.g.] FIGURE SKATE. Whew.
  • 44d [To a great degree] PROFUSELY, 45d [Like Congress] BIPARTITE. Spiffy symmetrical pair flanking the center. Of course I at first had BICAMERAL for the latter.
  • 48d [“Troublemaker” singer Murs] OLLY. Completely new to me. Hoping I won’t have to remember him.
  • 55d [Great American Ball Park team] REDS. I swear I’ve seen this exact clue/answer combination at least three times in as many days, four days tops.
  • 79a/93d [Hawk] SELL, PEDDLE.
  • 71a [Tell tale item] ARROW. William Tell. Favorite clue? Probably.
  • 15d [Advice to soldiers on patrol] STAY ALERT, 105a [Sentry’s shout] HALT, 103a [Enlightened] AWARE.


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12 Responses to Saturday, September 9, 2017

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Excellent puzzle… swaths of it just unfolded amazingly quickly for me.

    I didn’t know either that ANI meant “I” in Hebrew. In Arabic, it’s ANA, but in certain rural regions it can sound like ANI.

    I got hung up on some silly stuff– e.g. “Date preceder”, with IR in place I had “bIRth” instead of CIRCA and couldn’t think of anything else.

    So much of the trouble in solving is inhibition– the way one thought blocks all others. Learning to get unstuck is very interesting to me as a proxy for how to let go of ideas that seem very probable and yet may be wrong or incomplete, allowing alternatives to emerge. I guess there’s an evolutionary advantage to both certainty and flexibility.

  2. artlvr says:

    NYT: My favorite word was FLACCID… Unfavorite: ARTINESS. Never heard of SPIDEY SENSE… WORLDS APART and HORSE AROUND were good ones!

  3. KTH says:

    I had EGOT RUN at 40D for forever, which I thought was a surprising but fun answer, and basically prevented me from finishing the puzzle correctly. When I finally saw the right answer, I could not figure out what on earth an “EGOT RIP” was. [forehead slap].

  4. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: My best stupid mistake of the day:

    “42-Down. [Like a wet noodle]. Hmm. Ah! F.L.A.C.I.I.D.

    “That should help me with 58-Across [President Clinton hosted one in 2000]. Let’s see. PE_I_ SUMMIT. Huh?! I know what I want to put in there, but surely not!”

  5. Steve Manion says:

    I know that a BILLET DOUX is a love letter and I took French, but I had to come here to see how CHERE fit. I also had difficulty with PR Nightmare. I had every letter except for the N and went through the vowels in the alphabet wondering what neo-business term fit.

    About average difficulty for me.

    Incidentally, for those of you with loved ones and friends in Florida, there is a walkie talkie app called, My sister just sent it to me.


  6. Bruce N Morton says:

    Talk about a puzzle that antagonized me instantly–I don’t know what either pandora or spotify are, and even less how I heart radio could be an alternative.

    The start of a billet doux should be cheri–my love or my darling. Chere is no more intimate than Dear Sir. Yes, chere is feminine so the addresesees would be female, but, as I said, no implication of intimacy.

    There is an ego-tripping organization called Mensa, and I suppose a member could be called a mensan, but I don’t understand the “mental bloc” aspect. Maybe it’s just a “bloc” of people who belong to Mensa, but the clue is very strained. I suppose “spidey sense” must be an actual expression, but I certainly have never heard of it.

  7. David L says:

    Similar experience with the Stumper, except I eventually gave up on the NE corner. Left hand half was pretty easy, SE was a struggle. In the NE, I had ANNE, NICOLAS, MADE REAL, ETA and ERRED and still couldn’t get the downs. ANNUAL RATE is cleverly clued, but I also don’t see how ONAPLATTER means “effortlessly,” and I have trouble making sense of LASSOES as “presents with a ring?”

    I started with RISERS at 34a then figured it couldn’t be right. But ROSTRA is one of those only-in-crosswords plurals, in my experience.

  8. TB says:

    I am new to this site – Amy, I love your write up! Agreed with all; sadly, I was about 40 min slower than you. Sigh

  9. Norm says:

    NYT & LAT were both a bit challenging, but fair. I liked the WSJ much more than pannonica did — probably half because Bookends is one of my favorite albums of all time and half because I solved down the right hand side (since I was getting nowhere on the left), and the revealer (for once) actually made the puzzle more fun, since I enjoyed seeing how many themers I could figure out with as few crosses as possible. An old sort of theme, but so am I (or getting there), so it was a nice Saturday morning.

  10. Anne Fay says:

    The Stumper: “44A [Sacramental symbol] CRUCIFIX – I don’t know why it took me a bit to grok this out.” Possibly because the crucifix is not a sacramental symbol… “Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace” (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, p. 857). The sacraments are Baptism; Eucharist (Holy Communion); Confirmation (the adult affirmation of our baptismal vows); Reconciliation of a Penitent (private confession); Matrimony (Christian marriage); Orders (ordination to deacon, priest, or bishop); and Unction (Last Rites). The crucifix is a symbol of the Christian faith but it is not a sacramental symbol.

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