Saturday, December 16, 2017

LAT 6:40 (Derek) 


Newsday 9:06 (Derek) 


NYT 4:45 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 16 17, no 1216

Is it just me or were the Friday and Saturday NYTs’ difficulty levels flipped?

This evening finds me not remotely in the blogging frame of mind, so let’s power through this quickly.

Love REAL TALK and the not-actually-a-dupe-at-all fútbol team REAL MADRID. Like THE VOICE, RAW FOOTAGE, ONE TO WATCH, MATHLETE (Mathletes represent!), and FOOD PORN (note: contains only food images that induce salivation). Crosswordese RIATA, plus dry ECLAT and SEDGE? NAH.

Five things:

  • 21a. [W.W. I horror], MUSTARD GAS. So incredibly grim. Chemical weapons are utterly inhumane.
  • 45a. [Uncommon blood classification], B TYPE. This is a bullshit entry and clue. Nobody at all legit talks about “B type blood.” And furthermore, “uncommon” is a lie. In India and Pakistan B+ is the most common blood type there is. The United States is not the only place where people have blood, you know. And if you want to talk uncommon, this clue should lead to the entry AB NEGATIVE, which is quite uncommon worldwide.
  • 47a. [Informal question to someone who’s late], WHERE ARE YA. Not sure we want to usher in a zillion spoken phrases with YA instead of YOU as crossword entries.
  • 8d. [William Shatner sci-fi novel], TEKWAR. This is of no particular distinction and solvers who grumble about pop culture … you go ahead and grouse about this one. I’ve got your back.
  • 20d. [Some West African money], FRANCS. Raise your hand if you filled in LEONES like I did. #currencynerd
  • 46d. [Taqueria offering], TAMALE. What? No. If the joint is español enough to call itself a taqueria, it’s not gonna offer a singular TAMALE.

Okay, that was six. 3.2 stars from me.

Peter Wentz’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

It’s been a while! Peter Wentz has been one of the bylines I enjoy seeing when it comes to Friday and Saturday NYT puzzles. Obviously, I cannot solve each and every puzzle that is out there, so if his are appearing somewhere else I may not know about it. (I am sure Amy would know!) But his themeless puzzles have a definite style to them, perhaps a similar style to Walden or Berry or Diehl. By that I mean that he seems to effortlessly intertwine longer answers seamlessly, and there always seems to be a few fresh entries as well. This 68-worder is well constructed, and certainly fits the bill as a fun one to solve. Yes, my time was under 7 minutes, but I got a good night’s sleep! 4.4 stars.

Some favorites:

  • 1A [Overwhelming place for many country fold] THE BIG CITY – I thought this may be the answer when I first began solving, since I know some people personally who literally get panic attacks on Chicago area interstates!
  • 15A [Early second-millennium style] ROMANESQUE – Wow. Not a word I use everyday!
  • 27A [Pinkberry competitor] TCBY – I’ve had TCBY, not Pinkberry. There is a Sweet Frog near here, and that isn’t bad either!
  • 29D [FedExCup seeker] PRO GOLFER – For the last several years, there has a been a “playoff” in the PGA, with the winner getting the aforementioned trophy, as well as a duffel bag full of money.
  • 53D [“Oh mah __!”] GAWD! – I had LAWD in here, since that is what my grandmother used to say all the time! (She has been gone now 11 years, and it sure doesn’t seem like it has been that long. Believe it or not, for as old as I am, I have not lost that many close family members other than grandparents and a few aunts and uncles. But I was closest to my grandma; her death is the one that still stings.)

Enjoy your weekend! It is almost 2018!!

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

Under 10 minutes! I always consider it a personal triumph if I can finish one of these in under 15 minutes, and I knew that “Lester’s” are usually a little less nerve-wracking. I had a difficult start to this one, but got a solid toehold in the SW corner, and finally looped all the way around to finish where you see the cursor. As I have blogged about before, this type of grid is usually easier to solve, since there are no long entries. There are only two 9-letter words, and nothing longer than that. So without having to battle longer answers, you usually can zip through these a tad quicker. 4.3 stars for this one.

A few things:

  • 13A [What tiramisu may be spiked with] MARSALA – That doesn’t sound good. Tiramisu already has coffee (espresso), right? I do like Chicken Marsala, but I am not sure how tiramisu would be with wine added. Sounds like a research project!
  • 16A [Annual lava-desert bike racers] IRONMEN – I didn’t realize it while solving, but this is referring to the Ironman Triathlon championship held on the big island of Hawaii every year, which does go through the lava fields around the volcano there. I would love to do this someday, but I am not a good enough swimmer!
  • 25A [What may grow out of Garfield] CHIA – For a long time, this was the only cat my kids were allowed to have! We may actually get a real furball soon; stay tuned.
  • 48A [Certain “breakfast” food] TACO – This is a reach to me, unless you’re at Taco Bell. Or a Mexican restaurant.
  • 49A [MLB TV licensee] TBS – When baseball season starts, and spring training is right around the corner, there is a national broadcast every Sunday afternoon on TBS, as well as several playoff games.
  • 10D [Trio just under 3] MNO – I immediately typed in DEF when I say this clue. I thought this was an error! If the numbers are on the bottom of the key, then this clue works. For my iPhone, it doesn’t quite work.
  • 37D [Way back when] AGES AGO – This actually got a dozen hits or so at I would have thought it would be fewer, but look at all those vowels!

It is still cold here. Hopefully this snow melts soon!

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Professional Development” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 12/16/17 • “Professional Development” • Sat • Ross • solution

Two-word phrases recast as educational opportunities for people in various occupations. Varying levels of stretchiness are utilized.

  • 23a. [Professional development for an electrician?] CIRCUIT TRAINING. As opposed to a fitness regimen.
  • 31a. [Professional development for a financial manager?] ECONOMY CLASS. Versus airline seating section.
  • 48a. [ … for an energy environmentalist?] SOLAR PANEL. The things that go on roofs, in fields as ‘farms’.
  • 65a. [ … for a market analyst?] CRASH COURSE. Generalized term. Second fiscal themer, but hey it’s the Wall Street Journal.
  • 79a. [ … for a Smucker’s employee?] JAM SESSION. Not improvised music here.
  • 94a. [ … for a member of the Fed?] MONETARY UNIT. Measure of economic value. A third!
  • 106a. [ … for a golf pro?] DRIVER EDUCATION. The club, some sort of numbered wood I believe. In my experience it’s driver’s education, though I suspect it’s regional. Definitely seems the way Brits would phrase it, at least.
  • 17d. [ … for a member of Parliament?] PEER INSTRUCTION. Specific type of peer, in contrast to a more everyday sort. Peers are members of the House of Lords.
  • 43d. [ … for an Oscar Meyer employee?] FRANK DISCUSSION. Tube steak, not the adjective meaning candid. Second brand name dropped.

That’s a lot of theme material crammed into the grid.

  • 53a/99d [Social sack] TEA CAKE, SCONE.
  • 36a [Address abbr. preceding a number] POB. I’ve always spelled out the ‘Box’.
  • 101a [Hit “Reply All” on, perhaps] MIS-SEND; 55a [Bumbler’s utterance] OOPS.
  • 103a [Saxony seaport] EMDEN. Say what? Here it is, in case you’re curious.
  • 5d [ __-chef] SOUS. Check out Sean Sherman, the “Sioux Chef” whose namesake company‘s mission is to educate people and their palates to authentic Native American cuisine (hint: it doesn’t include fry bread).
  • 24a [Three-person team] TROIKA. Or horses, or whatever. Horses here, from my reference version of the piece (basically because it’s the one I listened to the most, growing up—though not this particular album):

    If you must know, it was this one.
  • 54d [Sound investments] CDS. Ha, ha. Question mark wisely not employed?
  • 58d [Taylor or Monroe] ACTRESS, 61a [Ford and Lincoln] AUTOS.
  • 76a [Athletic Hamm] MIA, 89d [Hollywood Hamm] JON; 60a [Hacienda house] CASA, 102d [Hacienda room] SALA.
  • 39a [Now, in Nicaragua] AHORA. Most likely at a hacienda, right?
  • 11d [Got the gold] WON, 94d [Olympian award] MEDAL.
  • 65d [Musical set in a junkyard] CATS, not STMP.
  • This section was the last to fall for me: where 75d [Swimmer on a slide] AMEBA (tricksy clue, plus unannounced variant spelling), 89a [Raptors center Poeltl] JAKOB (sportser), and 79d [Bit part] JOKE (sufficiently ambiguous to be tough) converge.

Not going to deviate from my style of not quantifiably grading crosswords here, but it’s a bit tempting.

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19 Responses to Saturday, December 16, 2017

  1. Martin says:

    First one I tried. Taqueria San Jose and their “Tamale Combination Plate.” (They also have “tamal” on the same page. So they’re bilingual.)

    They may be a taqueria but the menu is in English.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It’s a sickness, this drive you have to disprove me.

      • Martin says:

        I see it as defending the accuracy of the clue, not disproving you (or other blogger).

        But if it bothers you, I won’t fact check here.

        BTW, the many, many more times I don’t refute a complaint usually means I agree with you. I wasn’t happy with BTYPE either. But it’s a weak entry that I don’t think recluing would help so it’s beyond my pay grade.

  2. Christopher Smith says:

    Cool to see REAL MADRID in NYT. TV ratings for the Champions League final, which they’ve won more than anyone else, have been similar to World Series games the last few years. The puzzle did have a few clunkers though, as Amy pointed out.

  3. MattF says:

    NYT on the tough side for me. Lots of empty space until the very end. MATHLETE new to me.

  4. Derek Allen says:

    Amy, you are spot on about B TYPE, but I don’t mind TEKWAR. I remember when these books came out way back in the late 80s, and they were somewhat notable because of who wrote them. My wife is a huge Trekkie, but I didn’t know her then! And obviously it is valuable in crosswords, although the clue “__War” may be slightly inaccurate since I think this is all one word even though the W is capitalized.

  5. David L says:

    I know that REAL in REALTALK and REALMADRID are etymologically unrelated, but it still strikes me as extraordinarily inelegant to have them both in the same puzzle.

    Way too easy for a Saturday.

  6. Steve Manion. says:

    Harder for me than the consensus, as was yesterday’s.

    I was 14 in 1963, so that probably explains it. Whenever I see FOODPORN, I am reminded of the dining scene in Tom Jones. I just looked at it again and it is incredibly tame by today’s standards:


    • Penguins says:

      Funny scene

    • Papa John says:

      Not an easy one for me, either, beginning with 1A OCTUPLET. (BTW, the spellchecker doesn’t like that word.) REAL_TALK and REAL_MADRID were both a real pain.

      In my vagabond days, I crashed at a Memphis movie house that was showing “Tom Jones”. I became a life-long Albert Finney fan. After watching one viewing, I slept though the next two. Earlier that day, I had met a man who offered to buy me breakfast if he could talk to me about the “great works of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.” I scarfed down my eggs, sausage and grits while the guy sitting across from me evangelized.

  7. Penguins says:

    Many of Ezersky’s clues were changed apparently so the NYT was no doubt harder originally.

    Nice Stumper, but not nearly a ten minuter. I have no experience whatsoever with ten minute Stumpers! :)

  8. Shteyman says:

    Really enjoyed today’s offering from Sam. So many great phrases in such a seemingly effortless construction. Agree with others that the puzzle was on the easy side for a Saturday.

  9. Art Shapiro says:

    I downloaded the puzzle later than usual – mid afternoon Saturday – and solved it. But it didn’t seem to be the same one being reviewed. When I looked at the date it was for October 15, 2005!

    What in the world is going on? I re-downloaded it and got the correct puzzle this time.


  10. Steve Manion. says:

    Call the X-Files PC department. I record old X-files episodes and today’s title is ANASAZI.


  11. JohnH says:

    TEK WAR didn’t bother me. After all, all I had to do was come up with a plausibly sci-fi sounding phrase, not a last name. TAMALE also seems perfectly reasonable, but then New York has lots of everything (except car owners and golfers), so I wouldn’t have to fly to Spain for a taqueria.

    I enjoyed the puzzle (although agreed that B TYPE sounded off) . Agreed, Friday’s was harder, but then it really was hard.

Comments are closed.