Saturday, March 10, 2018

LAT 13:06 (Derek) 


Newsday 19:48 (Derek) 


NYT 5:05 (Amy) 


WSJ 14:03 (Laura) 


Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 10 18, 0310

A bit surprised to find a couple things that were unfamiliar, though yes, it is a(n easyish) Saturday puzzle. 1a. [Pilot control?], GAS TAP? Right at 1-Across, that one had me worried the whole puzzle would have obscure things. 20a. [Sluggers], BIG BATS? That’s a term for baseball players who get a lot of hits or runs? (I pieced together HIGH AND AWAY, more baseball lingo.) Not sure I knew the term GEAR TRAINS, either.

Favorite fill: ICE CAPADES for nostalgic reasons, ORSON BEAN (ditto), HOST CITY, GO FOR A SPIN, ANIMANIACS, BARBARA EDEN (more nostalgia!), and ISLAND-HOPS. And ERMA Bombeck! Don’t ask me why I was reading her books, pitched to ’70s housewives, as a kid, but but I was so fond of them. The woman was funny.

Not so keen on “IT’S ODD” (“how odd” or “that’s odd” feel more right to me), ‘TISN’T, plural abbrev SSNS, crosswordese ELIA.

Three things:

  • 23a. [Island dish], POI. Are you kidding me? Crossing ISLAND-HOPS? How hard would it have been to go with [Hawaiian dish]? That there is what you call a noticeable duplication—a 6-letter word that appears in an intersecting clue and answer.
  • 49a. [Ones prepared to drop a few bucks?], HUNTERS. If their families aren’t relying on venison to provide their protein through the winter, then eww.
  • 11d. [Virtually every coin], DISC. Name some coins that stray from the usual round form.

3.8 stars from me.

Queena Mewers’s & Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Extra Helpings” — Laura’s write-up

WSJ - 3.10.18 - Mewers & Eaton-Salners - Solution

WSJ – 3.10.18 – Mewers & Eaton-Salners – Solution

Hey! It’s Q & A again! I like it when these two collaborate. This time they’re giving us some extra helpings … of what?

  • [23a: What you might find at the bottom of a trick-or-treater’s bag?]: RAGGEDY CANDY
  • [25a: Slam-dancer’s bread?]: MOSH PITA
  • [55a: Essential ingredient for groovy baking?]: FAB FLOUR
  • [57a: Glow-in-the-dark sandwich cookie?]: URANIUM OREO
  • [79a: Wedding march remnants?]: CRUSHED RICE
  • [81a: Off-the-hook Japanese soup stock?]: MAD DASHI
  • [113a: Nonpoisonous borscht vegetable?]: SAFE BEET
  • [116a: Breakfast in a jam?]: TRAFFIC SCONE
  • [127aR: What’s been added to the starred answers]: CALORIES

I thought this was lovely, and nicely executed, in that all of the words generated by adding C-A-L-O-R-I-E-S are foods; MOSH PITA, FAB FLOUR, and URANIUM OREO are particularly funny finds. ACED IT! I’M IN LOVE!

I’m pretty full just thinking about this theme, but let’s see if we can squeeze in a wafer-thin mint of commentary on the fill with a minimum of [19d: Snide attitude]: SNARK.

  • [28d: “Mr Robot” star]: RAMI MALEK. This a great show, with excellent commentary on Our Contemporary Society and Its Technological Issues, plus the star is super hot.
  • [32a: “Valley of the Dolls” author]: Jacqueline SUSANN. Valley of the Dolls is one of those books/movies, like Peyton Place, that I used to hear grown-ups talk about in scandalized tones (although not really, because I was raised by bohemian college professors), but when I finally read it, my jaded GenX sensibility couldn’t understand what the big deal was.
  • [88d: “Takin’ Care of Business” band, for short]: BTO. Did you know that bearded Canadian rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s third member (with Randy Bachman and Fred Turner) was not a guy named Steve Overdrive? In actual fact, they got the third word in their name from the title of a trucker magazine. Randy Bachman used to be a member of the other bearded Canadian rocker band, The Guess Who, and was persuaded to form his own band by non-bearded Canadian rocker Neil Young, who also used to be in a band formed of the dudes’ last names. 1970s Winnipeg: the heart of rock and roll. And beards.

Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

It’s been a torturous week at work, with one emergency after another, so it is at times like this that puzzles become my haven. I think I appreciate puzzles because there is a precision to them: there is not gray area, an answer is either correct or it isn’t. Perhaps that is why I have always been attracted to math, or accounting, or recently, computer coding. All require an extreme attention to detail, and I think that helps my weird brain. I am very much looking forward to spending some time with my crossword obsessed friends at the end of the month. I bought my plane ticket!! I registered!! I have a room reservation!! All I need is transportation from LaGuardia and I am good!!

Today’s LAT was a welcome respite to this week’s insanity. Lot’s of interesting fill, yet not to painful. (Write-up for today’s Stumper is another story!) A solid 4.3 stars today

Some mentionables:

  • 17A [Black-necked flier] CANADA GOOSE – We call these Canadian Geese here. I suppose either term is correct.
  • 19A [Sportscaster Andrews] ERIN – There is also CNN anchor ERIN Burnett, among others.
  • 20A [Bradlee in “The Post”] BEN – I have yet to see this movie. As of this date, I have only seen 2 of the Best Picture nominees. Most are now available to rent or buy, so perhaps in the coming weeks I will add a few more.
  • 29A [Waterside accomodations] BOATEL – This is a cool entry! There are, needless to say, NONE of these near my house, at least that I know of, but perhaps this is a common thing in, say, Miami or LA?
  • 31A [Lindy relative] JITTERBUG – Also a Learned League answer earlier this week!
  • 42A [“Thunderball” setting] BAHAMAS – Wasn’t this the Bond movie with the voodoo themes, also set in and around New Orleans?
  • 56A [Italian cooking staple] TOMATO PUREE – Yes, you put in TOMATO PASTE too!
  • 5D [“Deliverance” co-star of Jon, Burt, and Ronny] NED – As in Ned Beatty, probably more known for his role in Superman from the 70s, along with Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, and Ronny Cox. Ronny Cox is arguably most famous for his role in Total Recall. And, no, I have never seen Deliverance!
  • 24D [Mrs. __, head of the kitchen in “Beauty and the Beast] POTTS – This was Angela Lansbury’s voice role in the 1991 Disney animated version
  • 39D [“Wolf” channel] CNN – Yes, there is a show called Wolf, hosted by Wolf Blitzer. On most days at 1:00pm. Great clue!
  • 42D [Something in back of a hit?] B-SIDE – This is arguably the best clue in the puzzle!

See you all on March 23!

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

Ouch. This one was painful. Lots of GREAT clues in here, but Frank lives up to his Stumper reputation with this one. (Said reputation being Toughest Stumper Constructor!) Usually these really tough ones tend to annoy me, especially when up against a blogging deadline, but this one was truly an enjoyable challenge. Just getting used to the idea of solving some brain-busters in Stamford on Sunday! A solid 4.6 stars for another gem from one of the great constructors of our day.

Some notes:

  • 23A [Stratofortress home, for short]  AFB – This is a B-52.
  • 25A [Stratovolcano stratum] ASH – Tired of seeing this many “strat”s? Nicely done, actually. Very clever cluing!
  • 33A [1981 film with Napoleon and Robin Hood] TIME BANDITS – Another good clue, even if it is going back (WAY WAY BACK!)
  • 49A [Phrase on some British passports] ISLE OF MAN – I wonder why? Is this, like, a state over there?
  • 54A [It’s seen in Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon …”] SEINE – The name of the painting didn’t need to be shortened, unless it was just for formatting reasons. Yes, there is a river in this work of art! We learned about this painting years ago in grade school as a foremost example of pointillism.
  • 59A [Like some thoughts] DEEP – Like Jack Handy!
  • 10D [It’s across a gulf from Pakistan] OMAN – I never can remember exactly where Pakistan is.
  • 24D [Minimalist at the National Gallery] FRANK STELLA – I saw Brad Wilber’s Facebook post about struggling with this puzzle, and I am guessing this was one of the struggles. Never heard of this guy!
  • 29D [Beneficiaries of a 1982 U.S. immigration act] AMERASIANS – Another toughie. And a word that is rarely used, to boot.
  • 46D [Half a ’90s Vegas duo] ROY – First entry filled in!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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18 Responses to Saturday, March 10, 2018

  1. David Glasser says:

    NYT: Somebody tell me I wasn’t the only one to finish with a D in square 52.

    • John Morgan says:

      I had the D, but some obscure part of my brain remembered at the last minute.

    • Matthew G. says:

      I had a D there, and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. The BEERYS are not famous enough to cross an ambiguous square, and BUD is a _more common_ alternative to “Mac” than BUB is. And is you haven’t heard of those ancient actors, DEERY is a more plausible surname than BEERY. Just an unfair crossing.

      • Penguins says:

        BUB is a truer alternative to “mac” imo, but if you don’t know Beery “bud” is probably going pop into your head first (and seem fine) because BUB is not something you hear much these days so I agree it’s a problematic cross.

        • arthur118 says:

          For those of us who know that Wallace BEERY won a Best Actor Oscar for “The Champ”, this entry was a cinch.

          Seems like other posters would likely have no complaints if the clue was looking for a present day actor like Eddie Redmayne or Idris Elba.

          In a Saturday NYT puzzle, they’re all fair game, folks.

          • Christopher Smith says:

            I like films from that era, have seen The Champ & got the clue, but the eccentricities of one 52-year-old don’t make BEERYS a fair entry for a puzzle in 2018.

          • Sarah says:

            Present-day actors are more fair game than older actors, on average, since people solving the puzzle are more likely to be familiar with said actor.

  2. DH says:

    I had an issue with “SIPS” being clued as the opposite of “DOWNS”. I understand the concept, but to me, to “down” something is to send it down the alimentary canal – whether by sipping or gulping. Does “down” imply to “eat something fast?” Or is “fast” a better clue for “the opposite of down”?

  3. Penguins says:

    “BIG BATS? That’s a term for baseball players who get a lot of hits or runs?”

    Batters that hit with power, home run hitters essentially.

    I found the LAT tougher than the NYT and the Stumper was a challenge as usual. Enjoyed all three.

  4. Martin says:

    There are so many non-discoid coins, I was worried some would take exception with “virtually every.”

    Does the helical grid pattern with DNA in the center count as a minitheme?

    • Papa John says:

      I’m not sure I understand why you were “worried” about some taking exception. Are you somehow responsible for the clue?

      I took “virtually every” to mean virtually every US coin. Of course that’s a gross assumption on my part but I don’t think it was the only one found in today’s clues — the “out” at the end of 30A Freak for PANIC or the “That’s” at the front of 51A “Weird…” for ITS_ODD.

      My most memorable performance by Wallace Beery was his “Aw, shucks” portrayal of Pancho Villa in “Viva Villa!” He’s one of my all-time, favorite actors.

      • Martin says:

        No, I had nothing to do with the clue. But I did wonder if some might consider it nit-worthy that “virtually every” might be too strong considering the many counter-examples. (I never thought of US-only.)

        Interestingly, Amy’s comment seems to imply she took the opposite view.

        • Papa John says:

          Aw, shucks, Martin, I was hoping you’d have something to say about Wallace Beery. It can’t be denied that he is one the best character actors of all time.

  5. NonnieL says:

    Derek: The Bond movie set in New Orleans with voodoo themes is “Live and Let Die,” starring the great Yaphet Kotto. I own “Tarot of the Witches,” the beautiful deck used by Jane Seymour as Solitaire in the movie.

  6. Papa John says:

    Derek, had you seen Deliverance, I assure you, Beatty’s Superman role would soon be forgotten — “Squeal like a pig!”

  7. Burak says:

    In the NYT, BUB-JOVE-TULLE-JUDAH-BEERY was a death sentence for this non-native English speaker here. The rest was great, but that cluster took away all the fun for me. Here’s to hoping that NYT Crosswords will get so global that they will have a couple of international test solvers.

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