Saturday, December 2, 2017

LAT untimed (Derek) 


Newsday 13:51 (Derek) 


NYT 4:13 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 02 17, no 1202

Huh. Played like an easy Friday NYT for me, even though there was so much that didn’t fall immediately. Names that didn’t come directly to mind, awkward or unfamiliar phrases and words … it doesn’t make sense that it went fast.


Least favorite: ESTAB, an ocular AREOLA, DAIN ([Hammett’s “The ___ Curse”]), DIPSOMANIAC (is this word still needed? do we have anyone here who works in the addiction field?), stilted ON A VISIT, roll-your-ownish UNRENTED.

Remarks! I got ’em.

  • 14a. [“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” composer], ENNIO MORRICONE. Spaced on the name until I had the first two letters in place.
  • 19a. [Automatic bill payment], DIRECT DEBIT. I use that method, but I can’t say the phrase rings a bell.
  • 28a. [Forward-looking sort], SEER. I wonder how much people actually use this word, instead of fortune-teller or psychic. My guess is seldom.
  • Oh, yeah … two bags of raspberry, one cookies-and-cream.

  • 29a. [Big name in chocolates], RIESEN. Big name for German chocolates imported to the US. Did you know that NESTLE (46d. [Toll House cookie dough maker]) is also a big name for chocolates made in Japan? My kid picked up some Japanese KitKats at the H Mart today. (We have raised him right. Also, the raspberry ones are amaaazing.)
  • 61a. [Who said “I like my men like I like my coffee. I don’t drink coffee”], ELLEN DEGENERES. Ha!
  • 5d. [Sam ___, author of the classic “Cyclopedia of 5,000 Puzzles”], LOYD. An old name in puzzledom. I’m sure Will Shortz owns some collector’s editions of Loyd’s work.
  • 9d. [Final toast of a meal], GRACE CUP. Boy, I’ve never seen that phrase before, I don’t think. (I have to say “I don’t think” or else Martin H will Google and try to find evidence that I’ve typed those words in a blog post.)
  • 51d. [Real last name of Mama Cass Elliot], COHEN. Did not know that! I like this sort of trivia.

3.4 stars from me. I do tend to prefer a grid with a higher word count and crisper fill.

D. Scott Nichols & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

This was a fun puzzle, even though I jammed through it pretty quickly. My timer got messed up, so I don’t have an exact time, but I am guessing 5-6 minutes. I count 70 words in this fairly wide open grid. I am quite familiar with the prolific C.C., but I am not as familiar with D. Scott Nichols. I cannot say I solve every LAT puzzle, so if their puzzles appear on other days of the week, that may be the case. At any rate, I did have one small typo at 11D, and that answer made a lot more sense once it was correct! 4.2 stars today.

Some favorites:

  • 10A [Beach pretender] HODAD – Who does this??
  • 17A [Fund for incidentals] PETTY CASH – Is this still done? We use company credit cards at my job instead.
  • 43A [Kate of “House of Cards”] MARA – I saw a few episodes of this, but gave up after four or five. Not sure if I want to watch now after the Kevin Spacey scandal broke. The only question now: who will be next to fall?
  • 56A [West of Tinseltown] MAE – Did you think this was SEA? Actually, I think I wasn’t much fooled at all, but still a clever clue. Fairly sure I have seen it before.
  • 5D [Dessert company founded in 1928] EDY’S – I LOVE ice cream, but it isn’t exactly vegan. I have learned to enjoy soy or almond milk based ice cream. Go look; your local grocery store has these!
  • 42D [Caribbean city with cocotaxis] HAVANA – This may now be accessible since the embargoes and restrictions are slowly being lifted. Vacation spot one day … ?
  • 51D [Teammate of Mariano for 19 years] DEREK – Any puzzle is better if it has my name in it!

That is it for today. Lots of college football to watch later!

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Not a horrible time today, but, as you can see from the image, not an easy solve! I don’t always do it, but for this one I did hit the check letters option in Across Lite, and sometimes when you’re about 2/3 done solving, tons of errors crop up. Once these were fixed, the puzzle fell rather easily. Make no mistake: this puzzle had that feeling of dread at the beginning where I am staring at a blank grid for what seemed like an hour! 4.3 stars, and a slight bit of dread since there will probably be a REALLY hard one next week!

A few more things:

  • 16A [Imaginary strings] AIR GUITAR – I actually filled this in first!
  • 34A [Bryan’s “matter of choice,” not “chance”] DESTINY – I assume this is referring to William Jennings Bryan, the statesman from the 19th century. But I agree, and that’s what makes this a great clue; it seems to spark some introspection to at least a small degree!
  • 40A [Unwritten constitution] PHYSIQUE – Also a great clue. Tricky!
  • 54A [Boyardee’s “bowl of classic comfort”] BEEFARONI – I remember eating this as a kid, although when I say Chef Boyardee’s name I immediately thought of Spaghettios, even though that is a Campbell’s product!
  • 58A [Wins easily] BREEZES IN – This seems a little amiss to me, but I get what they’re trying to say. “Breeze past” maybe.
  • 12D [Patria di Pavarotti] ITALIA – I think this means “father of Pavarotti,” which would mean homeland, maybe? I don’t quite get this clue.
  • 25D [Something rolled for breakfast] OAT – I have had a lot of oatmeal recently. Not surprisingly, I am also rarely sick these days. Eat healthy!
  • 35D [Warning from Trebek] “PHRASING!” – People always forget to put it in the form of a question on that game show!
  • 44D [All-time highest-ranking woman in Presidential succession] PELOSI – This makes sense. We almost had a female president! Hopefully we get some of these “firsts” out of the way so it isn’t a big deal anymore.

Have a great weekend!

Matthew Sewell’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Flight Club” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 12/2/17 • “Flight Club” • Sat • Sewell • solution

Chock full of cross-references for the theme. Various volant fictional characters and their respective means of transport.

  • 1a. [Means of flight for 2-Down] UMBRELLA. Always so nice for 1-across to be a cross-reference.
    2d. [Sometime resident of Number 17 Cherry Lane] MARY POPPINS.
  • 20a. [Pole star?] SANTA CLAUS.
    14d. [Means of flight for 20-Across] SLEIGH.
  • 34a. [Means of flight for 35-Down] HELMET.
    35d. [Roman god of trade] MERCURY.
  • 104a. [Means of flight for 70-Down] MAGIC CARPET.
    70d. [Foe of Jafar] ALADDIN. He also (at times?) wore HAREM PANTS (17a), or at least something resembling them.
  • 128a. [Means of flight for 75-Down] BROOMSTICK.
    75d. [Dream analogue of Almira Gulch] WICKED WITCH (of the West).
  • 127a. [Diagon Alley shopkeeper in “… the Cursed Child”] RON WEASLEY.
    119d. [Means of flight for 127-Across] CAR.

As you can see, each pair’s components intersect (so disregard 118a [Yellow tape words] DO NOT CROSS), and their locations are approximately symmetrical—hey, they involve differing word lengths. Four of the six have acrosses as the vehicles, so a slight imbalance there. No big deal.

But! Some serious double stacks of long entries—often with the theme material. Including BREAK POINTSFREE ON BAILSPLATTEREDMENTALISTS. (3d, 23a, 24a, 121d)

Theme adjacent: 36a [Alternative to JFK] LGA, 37a [Quick flight] HOP, 67a [Mach 2 flyers, once] SSTS, 59d [“Grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore”] RAVEN. Borderline: 55d [Genre for the Penguins and the Flamingos] DOO-WOP, 105d [Spurred on] GOOSED. Nope: 77d [Organizer of the Wonderland caucus race] DODO.

Some echoes:

  • 36a [Alternative to JFK] LGA, 96a [LBJ or JFK] DEM, 22d [“Part of the way with LBJ” protest org.] SDS.
  • 45a/73a [Online qualifier] IMHO, FWIW.
  • 48d [Starbucks order]  TALL, 116a [Item in a coffee shop stack] LID.
  • 13d [Bear the expense of] EAT, 76a [was blessed with] HAD, 101a [Land] GET.
  • 60a [Primordial entities in H.P. Lovecraft’s stories] OLD ONES followed by 61a [Beechbone and Treebeard] ENTS.
  • 114d [Pub conveniences] LOOS followed by 115d [British bum] ARSE.

Liked seeing: 74d [Invented language, often between twins] IDIOGLOSSIA, 131a [Kerfuffle] BROUHAHA, 89a [Prophetic sign] AUSPICE, 79d [Like bel canto singing] LYRICAL.

Did not like seeing: 88d [Beat to the summit] OUTCLIMB, 72d [Navigator’s charts] SEA MAPS.

Clever clues with caveats: 38a [Person who might give a general anesthetic] COMBAT MEDIC even though it’s extremely unlikely that a military general would be anywhere near actual combat. 103a [Supreme authority?] MOTOWN—definitely needs that stretchy question mark.

95a [Sanctions] OKS. Why such critical words as ‘sanction’ and ‘oversight’ are autantonyms is a mystery I’ll never be able to ravel. It’s like a conspiracy.

1058a [Dizzy Gillespie specialty] BOP. Surprisingly, can’t seem to find any instance of him recording the jazz standard “Flying Home”. Alas. So instead: 15d [Heck] TARNATION (another one I liked seeing].

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23 Responses to Saturday, December 2, 2017

  1. Anti-NW Penguins says:

    Not knowing ENNIOMORRICONE, LOYD, BARNYARDANIMALS, GRACECUP, DOUBLEDOGDARE, DORRIT and more made the NW quite tough. Liked the LAT, especially after that NW grind.

    Off to be punished by the Stumper

  2. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: ENNIO MORRICONE is a great answer but tricky to spell. Really don’t like using adjectives as an example (ORDERED). Never heard of DOUBLE DOG DARE, GRACE CUP, or The DAIN Curse. Things like OLMEC & SOLTI are basically dog-whistles to regular solvers, they come up so much more often in crosswords than regular life. I slogged through but it was one for the purists.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Top was very hard for me, not knowing ENNIO MORRICONE and blanking out on BARNYARD (I had animals). The bottom felt like a Wednesday, somehow… Just fell as fast as I could go. The clue for ELLEN DE GENERES was funny.

    And Amy, our lab does addiction research (we work on the neurobiology of emotion and motivation, so this falls in that area). I agree, DIPSOMANIAC is certainly not what you’d call an accepted term.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      I like this word because of its Ancient Greek pedigree; not many of those left in English. Understand that it’s not appropriate for health care, social work, etc, but would seem harsh to banish it entirely.

      • Huda says:

        We use the term “polydipsia” routinely. I imagine the dipsomania term sounds inappropriate because of the mania component. But of course mania is used to describe certain mood states of excessive arousal. Its alternate meaning—which connotes obsession, is the one that has acquired some negative connotations. And yet, the terms obsession and compulsion are also both acceptable, including “compulsive drug use”, an expression we also use routinely… so it’s a little unpredictable why some terms feel inappropriate or offensive when their components and synonyms are acceptable.

        • Jenni says:

          In my world, “polydipsia” refers to water, not alcohol. I’ve never used the word “dipsomaniac” at work (I was the medical director of an outpatient rehab for years). I still kinda like it because it’s one of those old, ornate words that makes me feel smart – but it’s not in everyday parlance.

  4. Jim Peredo says:

    ENNIO MORRICONE’s name (or spelling) might not be familiar to everyone, but his music probably is — if you’ve been to the movies in the past 40 years. In addition to the Sergio Leone films, my favorites of his are his scores to Cinema Paradiso, The Untouchables, and The Mission.

  5. arthur118 says:

    Dr. D gives us a wonderful wrinkle to further complicate this Saturday’s puzzling by presenting stepped stacks that included only two three letter stack answers, BIN and TET, neither of which helped one whit with the solution.

    For my start, ENNIOMORRICONE was a gimme but one I couldn’t enter since the other obvious answer of TORAH for 6d, “Something read with a scroll?” created a conflict. This sent me South to start with JOANMIRO, EGADS and ANTE, then finally returning to my Northern impasse with an otherwise full grid and an acceptance that the Torah wasn’t leaving the Ark today.

    Thanks to Mark Diehl for a most enjoyable Saturday offering.

  6. MattF says:

    I’d have sworn that the puzzle editor was Sam Lloyd. LLive and LLearn, I guess.

  7. David L says:

    ENNIOMORRICONE made for an easy start and the whole thing was fairly smooth running after that.

    Hardest part was finishing up the NW. Never heard of RIESEN and I don’t understand the connection between forensics and DEBATERS. Can anyone enlighten?

  8. Gerry Wildenberg says:

    Can anyone explain the clue “One involved in forensics” for DEBATERS ?

    • MattF says:

      The modern meaning of ‘forensic’ is ‘having to do with criminal investigation’, but the original meaning was ‘in open forum, having to do with debate.’ There was also a transitional sense of ‘having to do with legal or courtroom debate’.

      • Norm says:

        Most high schools and colleges will in fact have their various debate teams/styles under the umbrella of a forensics department.

  9. GlennG says:

    I noticed the WSJ offered an official Across Lite PUZ file for today’s puzzle, different from the usual one linked to on the site here. The clues were hideously wrong/off, but the file got offered regardless.

    What does this mean for them being offered by the source here? Will that end soon?

  10. pannonica says:

    LAT: 54a [Like free-range chickens] UNCAGED. Deceptively touchy-feely marketing designation. Be careful in your assumptions.

  11. pannonica says:

    WSJ: Oh here’s something coincidental. The six crossed letters in the theme pairs are M-L-M-I-C-A; they can be rearranged to lammic which the Urban Dictionary (yes, I know—and to boot it has no votes up or down for ‘veracity’) defines as “to get high on some xtc.”

    It also makes I’m calm, FWIW.

  12. Ben says:

    “I don’t always do it, but for this one I did hit the check letters option in Across Lite…”

    How do you get the Stumper in AcrossLite?


  13. Camino says:

    Patria means homeland in Italian.

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