Saturday, March 17, 2018

LAT 6:17 (Derek) 


Newsday 22:12 (Derek) 


NYT 4:52 (Amy) 


WSJ 14:15 (Laura) 


Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 17 18, no 0317

This pretty 66-worder played like a Friday for me. We’ve got a whole lotta 7s criss-crossed by a matrix of four nice 15s—“CONSTANT CRAVING,” ALTERNATIVE ROCK, PRIOR ENGAGEMENT, and CAREER CRIMINALS (which, if you think about it, really ought to refer to white-collar criminals).

It’s late, so here are seven things:

  • 1a. [Official on a Segway, maybe], MALL COP. Is this clue sourced via the movie, Paul Blart, Mall Cop? As a city person, I am seldom in shopping malls, so I don’t know if Segway-riding security guards are a thing.
  • 34a. [Reddish orange], TANGERINE. I think this is a color clue rather than a fruit clue, no? Although you might call a tangerine a reddish orange, if you were so inclined.
  • 47a. [___ Belbenoît, noted escapee from Devil’s Island], RENE. A new-to-me René!
  • 52a. [Court order], “ALL RISE.” We were all trying to come up with a 7-letter noun here, weren’t we?
  • 12d. [Trattoria dessert], TORTONI. This word is in crosswords more than in trattorias, I tell ya.
  • 33d. [See, in Tijuana], VER. Not a Spanish verb that was in my wheelhouse.
  • 40d. [Mideast diet], KNESSET. Clue looks like an unfortunate duplication of DIETETICS, but no, it’s a legislative body rather than a food.

Some of the fill was on the dry side, but overall, nothing too jarring. 3.9 stars from me. Here’s a different k.d. lang song to play us out.

Martin Leechman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Little Green Men” — Laura’s write-up

WSJ - 3.17.18 - Leechman - Solution

WSJ – 3.17.18 – Leechman – Solution

No, not little green men like ETS, little green men like the abbreviation PAT, for Saint Patrick, who is associated with the color green, as in green beer and green bagels and green … well, what usually results from drinking too much green beer. In this case, little green PATs have been added to base phrases to make new, wacky phrases.

  • [22a: Model of polar weather?]: ARCTIC PATTERN
  • [41a: Burgers served in the dining car?]: RAILROAD PATTIES
  • [44a: Opener of an inventor’s documentation lockbox?]: PATENTER KEY
  • [66a: Stadium guards in Foxborough?]: PATRIOT POLICE
  • [91a: “Old Blood and Guts,” before his growth spurt?]: SHORT PATTON
  • [93a: Vegetable garden in Savannah?]: GEORGIA PEA PATCH
  • [111a: Stoner beat cop?]: HIGH PATROLLER
  • [123aR: March 17 honoree, as well as this puzzle’s honoree]: ST PAT

Green creme filling:

Flat Earth

  • I liked [20a: Colombian cowboy]: LLANERO crossing [10d: Deep gully]: ARROYO, both of which were familiar to me even though I haven’t formally studied Spanish.
  • [6d: Pre-Pythagorean belief]: FLAT EARTH. And post-Pythagorean.
  • [118a: Run]: OPERATE right next to [119a: Regretted thirds, maybe]: OVERATE. I know they’re not etymologically related, but to me that’s an eye rhyme.
  • [5d: Language in which “success” is “Qapla’”]: KLINGON. You can now learn KLINGON with the Duolingo app.
  • [59a: Far from demure]: BRASSY. Let’s hear it for brassy broads, speaking of whom…
  • [45d: “Delta Dawn” singer Tucker]: TANYA (who also appeared today in another grid, which I won’t identify because spoilers). What I Did Not Know, Oh Wow: Tanya Tucker was 13 when she first recorded this song. Bette Midler also sang it, and Helen Reddy went to #1 with it in her native Australia (What I Did Not Know, Also: That Helen Reddy is from Australia, not Canada). But you can’t miss this version from the Sonny & Cher Show, if only for the audacious BRASSYness of Cher’s halter-top maxi dress.

Alan Olschwang’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Plowed through this quickly, although, ironically, puzzles with stacked 15s usually go a little quicker. Perhaps that is at least a little in part to the fact that the word count is going to be a tad smaller. This one has 68 entries, and when you figure out one or two of the longer answers, huge chunks of the puzzle fall quickly. PAIR OF STOCKINGS, SITUATION COMEDY, and INTERCEPTED PASS are the 15s. Nothing here seems forced, which is nice. And my time was quick! A nice warmup for next week! 4.4 stars today because I am in a great mood!


  • 16A [NBC slogan that covered “Hill Street Blues,” among others] MUST SEE TV – An OLD reference! Is this slogan that old?? It may be: last NYT usage was nearly 12 years ago.
  • 47A [Feature of some lights] LESS TAR – Speaking of light cigarettes here. I don’t understand why anybody chooses this disgusting habit. I suppose we all are free to make our own choices, but once your hooked you aren’t “choosing” anything. I’ll get off my soapbox now! (I have a lot of co-workers that smoke, and they don’t always do it where they are supposed to.
  • 61A [Popular Canadian beer] LAKEPORT – I have never heard of this beer. Lots of Canadian brands are sold here, but this one is new to me. I’ll keep a close eye next time I am browsing imported beers. I also haven’t been to Canada in nearly 25 years.
  • 8D [Newborn mentioned in Genesis 4:25] SETH – At least this is a different way to clue this common Bible reference!
  • 17D [1989 Firth/Bening movie] VALMONT – This movie is based on the same story that Dangerous Liaisons is. This one is not as popular (Liaisons was one of Uma Thurman’s first movies), but it may be slightly better.
  • 32D [Shuteye sessions] SIESTAS – I believe we should adopt this in America! I will happily nod off between 12:30 and 2!
  • 33D [Brownie maker] KODAK – Also a dated reference, although even though most people use their phone as a camera, a professional camera is still a better option. If you have one or two thousand dollars!

See you all next week!

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

I started this one REEEAAALLLY slowly, got decent traction in the middle, and got stumped by the lone error square in the middle. 32D [Evade an issue] BEG got me good, since people I know don’t speak this way. Yes, I suppose someone can “beg off” from doing something, but again, I hear that rarely. 32A [Dollars to donusts, jocularly] BET also got me. Not sure why; I have no excuses there! Tough puzzle overall, but not insanely so. Anxious for next week’s Puzzle 8 at Stamford! They just released the constructor list – my bet is Puzzle 8 is Shenk this year. We shall see! A solid 4.5 stars for Matthew’s Stumper this week.


    • 14A [Pacific plate phrase] ALOHA STATE – Best clue in the puzzle!
    • 16A [T-Bonz purveyor] ALPO – Gettable after some minor thought. I don’t own a dog, but my son did just get his cat. Rescue cat from the local shelter named Panda. I think this cat has IBS, because she sometimes reeks!
    • 44A [Occasion for throwing in and folding] WASH DAY – Also a great clue, and possible the best, but I guessed what was happening here early, but I had LAUNDRY in the grid at first.
    • 56A [Needing explanation, perhaps] ASTERISKED – This one is hard because “asterisk” is rarely a verb. But it evidently can be. Some people think certain sports records should be treated this way due to steroids or differing season lengths.
    • 2D [BBC’s Sports Personality of the Century] ALI – After his recent death, he does seem to make athletic protests today seem lame, since nobody today would be willing to risk their total livelihood, except for Kaepernick! Colin hasn’t been arrested yet, in contrast.
    • 7D [“America’s First Name in Comfort Since 1901”] HANES – You thought it was SEALY or SERTA too, didn’t you!?
    • 9D [Apt name for a chicken] HENRIETTA – I don’t get this clue. Is it a reference to a children’s story?
    • 28D [Hip-hop dance that looks Scottish] NAE NAE – Since this clue got this stupid song in my head, well, … you’re welcome!

  • 50D [Speaker with the HomePod] SIRI – Tricky! I hear this thing sounds really good, but the Siri functionality is highly limited. I have no desire for one of these speakers in my house. Maybe if I lived alone …

Stamford is only 6 days away!

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29 Responses to Saturday, March 17, 2018

  1. huda says:

    NYT: CAPSTAN!! No idea what that was. Good to know. I’ll have to find occasion to use it!
    I liked the combo: ALL RISE on top of SLEEP IN…
    And a cute clue for E-TAILER.
    Nice Saturday overall. And on the easy side. CAPSTAN notwithstanding…

    • anon says:

      Back when mix tapes were Still a Thing, those of us with cassette tape decks/players were frequently reminded to regularly clean the capstan and rollers. Not really in the language now, but a not uncommon word in the 70s and 80s.

      • Papa John says:

        It’s certainly in the language if you’re involved with boats or ships. They’re ubiquitous on Naval ships and invaluable on docks. It’s the device that enables hauling up the anchor. While used on onshore settings, windlasses (winches) are more common in that setting and the cable is usually stored on the rotating reel.

  2. Amy says:

    NYT: fun, definitely Friday-level and I too have learned a new word in CAPSTAN.

  3. Cole says:

    I was a bit surprised to see AT ONE GO cross AGO; I remember CAPSTANs from the days when you would try to get the tape in a cassette to behave by sticking a pencil in to twist the spool.

  4. bananarchy says:

    I have lived in Canada for 34 years and have been drinking beer for about half of those years and have never heard of the popular Canadian beer LAKEPORT. Quick Google seems to indicate it’s an Ontario thing?

  5. Steve Manion. says:

    I had the RISE in ALLRISE and was indeed thinking noun, so I inserted REPRISE and wondered if that was as obscure as I thought. When I finally got ALL RISE and completed the puzzle, I looked up REPRISE and found that there was both a common musical definition and indeed an obscure legal one related to the payments of rents on an estate.

    I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable and pretty easy puzzle. The large number of letters in most of the words made toeholds easy to come by.


  6. Christopher Smith says:

    Well I died in the NE of the NYT. I’m one of the great unwashed who calls an ANDIRON a firedog, couldn’t for the life of me remember CAPSTAN (which, let’s face it, is a little outdated) & was never getting ABALONE & TORTONI without supporting fill. Not unfair for a Saturday just was out of my wheelhouse.

  7. David L says:

    OK, I give in: Why is PHIL a man’s nickname in a metropolitan orchestra?

    The repetition of “diet” in a clue with DIETETICS in the grid seems like a Bad Thing to me. I don’t see why different etymology makes it acceptable.

    • Steve Manion. says:

      Phil as in Philharmonic

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Bear in mind, David, that Will Shortz has a relatively high threshold for clue/grid overlaps that he can’t tolerate. If the word “diet” were used to refer to food intake in the clue, I’d agree with you that it’s a Bad Thing, but it’s not. It’s a different word. A heteronym. Just having letters in common is a meaningless thing. Where would we drawn the line?

  8. Michael says:

    Am I being too picky but shouldn’t the 40d of the NYT puzzle be clued as ‘Mideast Diet’? I thought that Diet with the capital ‘D’ is the proper way to term legislative bodies such as ‘Knesset’ or ‘Senate’…

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      If you’re using it generically to refer to a legislative assembly, it’s lowercase as a common noun. The Knesset is a diet. France and the United States each have a senate, but Elizabeth Warren is in the U.S. Senate. The Diet of Worms is a specific assembly, so it’s a proper noun.

      See also: George Washington was the first president of the US, and he’s called President Washington.

  9. Gene says:

    Newsday – “BEGging the question” is one way to “evade an issue”.

  10. Robin says:

    Newsday – Can someone please explain 40 across (“Rowing machine, for short” = ERG) and 59 down (“Frequent” = DEW) to me? I don’t get either one of them. Thanks!

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Can’t help you with “dew” – I have the same question. The stationary rowing machines that rowers use indoors are called “ergometers,” which shortens to “erg.”

    • rock says:

      Actually it is frequent formation on leaves=dew

    • Ellen Nichols says:

      If you download the puzzle off the Fiend link, some of the clues are not inFREQUENTly truncated. Sometimes you can tell, in others, like this, you can be totally STUMPEd, as I was on the correctly filled from crosses, DEW.

  11. jim hale says:

    I loved tortoni’s when I was a kid. Anytime we went to an Italian restaurant I ordered one and now I look forward to it in crosswords. As for the puzzle, pretty good for a Saturday. The long clues flowed for me.

  12. Burak says:

    NYT deserves praise because despite having a really boring fill along with an uninspired set of clues, it was not unpleasant to solve. The long answers were really good, and that’s what saved the puzzle. Not the cluster of SHEERED ANDIRON CAPSTAN ETAILER VERE.

  13. Ellen Nichols says:

    Derek, re HENRIETTA, think of a female Chicken as a HEN.

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