Saturday, March 24, 2018

LAT 9:51 (Derek) 


Newsday 19:11 (Derek) 


NYT 5:42 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 24 18, no 0324

Love that clue for CHINA SHOP: 6a. [No bull market?]. As in “bull in a china shop.” Although are there actual things called china shops these days??


In the Did Not Know category, we’ve got a few things:

  • 36d. [Paintbrushes for applying spots and blotches], MOTTLERS. This is an actual thing.
  • 34d. [Rhyming nickname for wrestling Hall-of-Famer Okerlund], MEAN GENE. Never heard of him.
  • 6d. [Know-it-all, in Britspeak], CLEVER DICK. The Oxford folks define it as “a person who is irritatingly and ostentatiously knowledgeable or intelligent.” Oh! I know some people like that.
  • Also did not know that EPICISTS was a word. It’s certainly uncommon.

In the “Hmm, I’m not so sure” category:

  • 31d. [Pre-cell?], ROTARY. This leapfrogs right over touchtone phones and then cordless landline phones. The number of people who progressed straight from a rotary dial phone to a cell phone must be vanishingly small.
  • 19a. [Concern of “three strikes” laws], RECIDIVISM. Hmm. Not so sure that was the actual concern, vs. “How can we get a lot of black and brown people locked up?” I mean, come on. “My gosh, this person has been convicted of shoplifting or smoking pot several times. Clearly it makes sense to incarcerate them for decades.” If you’ve not watched the Ava DuVernay documentary 13th, please do so before you attempt to argue with me on this. I promise the movie is well worth your time.
  • 56a. [FedEx Office competitor], SIR SPEEDY. Yes, you can have stuff printed at both, but I suspect Sir Speedy is used much more by businesses than by the regular folks who may use FedEx Office.

Neat bit of trivia: 14d. [Coin whose name means “small weight”], PESETA. So a peso is a weight?

4 stars from me for this 64-worder.

Debbie Ellerin & Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

As mentioned in my Newsday Stumper write-up, this was solved in an American Airlines 737 at 7:30 in the morning, so while the time is a tad slower than I normally achieve, I am exhausted from a travel day. Maybe I am getting too old for this? Nah! I enjoy traveling to see all of the other people that enjoy my weird obsession with crossword puzzles! It still amazes me that all of the people that I esteem and admire for their skills know who I am! And make no mistake: I have never had and never will have a desire for fame. But there does seem to be a kindred spirit here in this extremely varied and eclectic group that is palpable. Hope everyone who is in Stamford with me has a great time!

This collab by my friend Jeff Chen and Debbie Ellerin is quite good. I hope to ask Jeff in person (if he’s here!) or Debbie (if I get a chance to meet her!) who did what in this joint effort. The quick word count method yields … 70 words? Not too many difficult words here, although my time may or may not have been interrupted by stewards getting my free beverage and that crazy biscuit for breakfast! A robust 4.4 stars for this one.

A few more things:

  • 18A [It has a climbing route called “The Nose”] EL CAPITAN – Never been here. And I am not a climber. And I am too old to start now!
  • 23A [League of Women Voters co-founder] CATT – As in Carrie Chapman Catt, a famous women’s suffragist. I will admit, I didn’t readily know her as well as Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or others. But I have heard her story before.
  • 40A [Brain in many an Asimov story] MAINFRAME – I’ll say! I still like the I, Robot movie from a few years ago. Are we entering this robot age with these self-driving cars and clerk-less stores?
  • 53A [1995 AFI Life Achievement Award recipient] SPIELBERG – I do want to see Ready Player One, which I believe opens next week. His movies are still top-notch. Except for those Jurassic Park reboots, which seem like the same story over and over again: big corp breeds dinos, underestimates them, then chaos ensues. I could write the next sequel!
  • 55A [Spidey sense, basically] ALARM BELL – Nicely done. Looking forward to the new Avengers movie, which will have Tom Holland in it as Spider-Man once again.
  • 58A [Skateboard leap] OLLIE – I only know this because of my boys. Otherwise I would have no clue.
  • 1D [Scientific name involving a repeated word] TAUTONYM – This was in an HQ Trivia game from the other day. Yes, it was in a question I got wrong!
  • 6D [Modern-day eruption] TWEET STORM – From the Oval Office porcelain throne at 3 am!
  • 28D [Rides with wing-shaped tailfins] BATMOBILES – These still look cool 50 years later!!
  • 34D [Race against the clock] TIME TRIAL – As in a stage or two of a bike tour, like the Tour de France, which oddly is just around the corner. As is the World Cup! Time sure flies when you get old …
  • 52D [Be a looky-loo] GAWP – I had GAWK, but when I figured our PRESS PASS this all of a sudden became clearer!

I said there was fun stuff! If you have never met me and you’re at the ACPT, look for the guy in the Michigan hat! Have a great weekend!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Normally Anna’s (Stan’s!) Stumpers are a tad more … accessible, but it is ACPT weekend, so I am a little frazzled with all of the travel. I am writing this from Stamford on Friday, and I solved the puzzles I need to blog on the flight to LaGuardia. On my laptop, which I couldn’t open all the way because the jack-wagon in the seat in front of me “had” to recline his seat into my lap. I should’ve paid for the first class seat; it was only $35 more!! Wait until that flight home!

Anyway, I shot through the lower part in good time, wrapped around and did the NE corner next, the the NW, and finished where you see the errors in 33A and 39A. I will discuss my silliness below. 72 words? That’s what I count. Lots of fun stuff in this puzzle, which helped make up for the bad screen angle at 35,000 feet! 4.4 stars.

Those promised comments:

  • 6A [Aquarium favorite] ANGELFISH – Isn’t this what Nemo is? Or was he a clown fish?
  • 33A [Source of fog] STRATUS – As in a stratus cloud, I assume? This one stumped my. I had STRA??S and couldn’t get past seeing STRAINS.
  • 35A [Antenna, in the ’50s?] TUBE TOP – I take exception to this clue; I had rabbit ears in my day, and I was born at the tail end of the 60s! Also, I have an antenna on my TV TODAY: We cut the cable channels in favor of YouTubeTV, and we spent $16 on an antenna for even more local channels. I highly recommend!
  • 39A [Latter day “Drat!”] DOH! – I figured that is what this was, but I had 27D wrong. (See further down.)
  • 45A [Locks that might need picking] MANES – This clue, along with 35A, are the best of the bunch. I have a niece that has a “mane”; my sister used to always talk about the chore of doing her hair!
  • 58A [Play with the song “Notice Me, Horton”] SEUSSICAL – I had the SEUSS part early, but couldn’t quite remember the rest. I had another error at 49A that was causing me fits as well. I think I thought SISAL was similar to mint!
  • 6D [Ones in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd] AGE MATES – Is that an Oxford comma in there?? This is ANOTHER sterling clue. We are talking grades here!
  • 27D [“That’s a negative”] UH-UH – I had UM, NO here. The clue seems like that is what should be here, or maybe that is how I would say it!
  • 28D [ __ quiz] PUB – I put POP in here. Tell me I am not the only one! We don’t seem to have very many trivia bar events where I am. Maybe I just don’t know about them!
  • 36D [Voice of Buzz Lightyear] TIM ALLEN – In case you were wondering, I have a brother named Tim! Always fun to see his name in a puzzle!
  • 43D [Person born in the Disco Era] GEN XER – I got this quickly, since this is technically me, although, as mentioned earlier, my birth year is 1969.

I literally could go on for awhile with this one! Hope everyone has a great tournament!

Agnes Davidson and Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Counter Parts” — Jim’s review

Jim P. here again, filling in while much of the gang is out partying at Stamford.

Pretty nifty theme from this duo who have collaborated numerous times in the past. This time they found matching pairs of phrases that included body parts and opposite adjectives. Observe:

WSJ – Sat, 3.24.18 – “Counter Parts” by Agnes Davidson and Zhouqin Burnikel

  • 21a [Obstinate…STIFF-NECKED paired with 30a […Like basset hounds] DROOPY-EARED. It’s unfortunate that this was the pair to start things off, because they have the most tenuous connection of the lot. To me, the opposite of “stiff” would be “limp.” The opposite of “droopy” would be, I dunno, “perky”?
  • 38a [Like a sultry-eyed temptress…] HEAVY-LIDDED paired with 63a […Gone platinum?] LIGHT-HAIRED. Better, but these phrases aren’t so strong in and of themselves. I thought HEAVY-LIDDED meant “sleepy,” and I wanted LIGHT-HEADED to be the answer for the second one.
  • 70a [Slow on the uptake…] THICK-HEADED paired with 68a […Easily offended] THIN-SKINNED. Now we’re talking. A perfect match-up.
  • 99a [Hardly discreet…LOOSE-LIPPED paired with 114a […Miserly] TIGHT-FISTED. Another good pairing.

For most of the solve I wasn’t getting it. I wanted the clues to be fanciful (like […Gone platinum?] leading to LIGHT-HEADED), but they were pretty straight-forward. And I couldn’t understand the use of ellipses in the clues. Normally, ellipses indicate a continuation of a clue, but that didn’t seem to work here. Further, some clues had the ellipses at the beginning and some at the end.

Once I realized that the entries were to be paired off, then the light bulb went off and I enjoyed the theme. The ellipses are used just to show the pairing of one to the other. I wish a different bit of punctuation could have been used (maybe an em dash?), but oh well. It made sense in the end.

Beautiful fill throughout. Some minor gluey bits, but for a 23x grid, this thing is impressively clean. Favorites include: SPICED TEA, ANTIPASTO, TERRAPINS, DEADPAN, TIFFANY, CANNOLI, POPPIES, RANKLES, THE OMEN, INTEGER, IRONIES, “O CANADA“, “OOH LA LA,” and BIG TOE.

But I loved seeing SANTORINI in the grid! A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to take the family there for a vacation. The beaches were not ideal (mostly volcanic black sand), but it was oh so beautiful. Typically when you see blue-domed, white-washed buildings in pictures of Greece, they’re really just of Santorini. We stayed at this place which we cannot recommend enough. It’s off the beaten path, but it was wonderful. Hey, how often do you get to lay claim to your own windmill?

A couple more things:

  • I don’t recall seeing RFID in a grid before (48d, [Tracking chip]), but it seems crossworthy to me.
  • On the other hand, EWEN (53d, [Bremner of “Wonder Woman”]) could be very helpful to crossword constructors, but I don’t know that he’s quite risen to the “crossworthy” level.

I haven’t typically been in the practice of rating puzzles, but maybe I’ll start. I’d put this one at about 3.6.

Okay, all you ACPTers, knock ’em dead today. May your wits be quick and your pencils ever sharp.

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22 Responses to Saturday, March 24, 2018

  1. Stan Newman says:

    Gee, Derek, wasn’t 16 Across worth mentioning? Anna is really weepy over this.

    • David L says:

      I don’t understand that one, I’m sorry to say. Why would you knock if you’re leaving?

      I was Stumped™ in the NW corner. Had most of it but I couldn’t let go of ONICE at 15A.

      Also don’t understand ITCHES: “needs nailing?” Nailing an itch seems a little extreme to me.

      • Dan says:

        Fingernails I gather.

        Not sure about GO QUIETLY either. Maybe “go” is a shortened “go in” or “knock” means to disparage so you leave quietly in some scenario or maybe it’s usage has another meaning like knocking in Gin Rummy? Would appreciate Stan or someone else enlightening us.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        But David, you must concede that if you hammer a nail into an itchy spot, you’re probably not going to be bothered by the itch anymore!

        Maybe “nailing” is being used, overly loosely, to mean “scratching with one’s fingernail”? If it is, I rebuke it. Way too much of a stretch.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: hard for me, but worth the price of admission, just to learn CLEVER DICK. That’s so awesomely perfect!

    A D’uh moment with PESETO, never had thought of the connection to ”peser” (to weigh) in French. Gives rise to “poids” meaning weight, avoirdupois, and relates to pound.

    Do American little kids have to learn about Ferdinand De Lesseps? I dug that name from the very far recesses of my cortical folds…

    • Lise says:

      I don’t know about current American little kids, but I do not remember ever having encountered de LESSEPS. Good job dredging it out of your neuronal attic.

      I had an epic fail in the SE. I didn’t know MEAN GENE (whose wife is Jeanne, presumably not mean). Does anyone? My husband, who is all sportsy, had never heard of him.

      Didn’t know KATEY SAGAL – had KATE_S____ which led me to believe it was Kate something. Couldn’t get ROGAINE (no consumers here) or MOTTLERS.

      The rest of the puzzle was a lovely tough workout. LIVED A LIE, EMPTY EYES (creepy!), LEMON LIME – excellent. Also loved the clue for TRIES ON (“Has a fit, maybe”).

      Very nice! Appreciate the workout. Thanks!

  3. Steve Manion. says:

    Surprisingly easy for me. The only name I did not know was KATEY SAGAL.

    Mean Gene Okerlund was the announcer for many years in the various incarnations of professional wrestling. The “Mean” was strictly a rhyme as he was known as a nice guy. He was not very tall and slightly chubby, so he did not fit the wrestling stereotype. He had a deep, extremely pleasant voice, which had an air of command that made some of the ridiculous (and often very funny) plot lines seem plausible.

    RECIDIVISM was my first entry. I did not follow the consequences religiously, but I do know that it had at least one very bad one, namely that defendants facing a third strike would not enter into a plea (as actually occurs in about 90-95% of cases), so it tied up court calendars. I do not know if some of the defendants then got their cases dismissed because the state was in violation of the speedy trial rule.

    I also dredged up de LESSEPS from the far recesses of my senile mind.


  4. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Beautiful grid with some great cluing. Couldn’t figure out what GOPER was until after I finished and realized it’s GOPer.

    Got hung up with the British know-it-all clue. I thought it was going to be CLEVER CLOG, which I learned from Peppa Pig. But the actual phrase is “clever clogs,” as in, “I’m a clever clogs.” (Leave it to the British to screw up their plurals.) I guess this is the kids’ version of CLEVER DICK.

  5. Penguins says:

    NYT and Stumper had some very nice clues. Stumper was easier than average imo though I’m not sure as well what the threshold knocking thing is really going for. LAT was a solid puzzle.

  6. Mark Simpson says:

    I’m happy to have discussions about things in the puzzle, but please stop posting blatant falsehoods as truth. People are in jail for committing crimes. And the claim that people are in jail for possession charges is dishonest at best. “Three-tenths of 1 percent of state prison inmates were there because of marijuana possession alone, without a more serious charge” and “The data shows that among the roughly 67,600 offenders sentenced to prison in federal criminal cases between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012, only 28 of them were incarcerated on drug-possession charges alone — roughly four one-hundredths of 1 percent of all incarcerations. And that includes all drugs, not just marijuana.

    Looked at another way, the same report found that 99.9 percent of those sentenced to federal prison for any drug-related crime during that year-long period were sent to prison for something more serious than simple possession.“

    So yes, talk about the puzzle, but please stop lying to people and pushing a political agenda that can be debunked by a 30 second google search….

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      You got any proof that every single one of those “more serious charges” was legitimate? That every defendant had a skilled defense lawyer? That no evidence was ever planted? That no defendant took a plea because the DA piled on a bunch of charges to cow the defendant? That nobody was convicted based on a witness identification that, like any witness identification, can be hit or miss? That nobody made a false confession because the cop was torturing them? (Google John Burge Chicago and/or read this to see what’s gone on in Chicago.)

      • Mark Simpson says:

        Yes, the DOJ documents this sort of thing very well. The vast majority of people in prison on drug charges are there for distribution. I don’t have any problem putting people in jail who sell illegal substances to others, to the detriment of primarily less educated people in poorer areas (not that selling illegal substances to anyone is acceptable.) Have any of those things you listed ever happened? Yes. Obviously those things have happened in isolated situations. If it were demonstrative of any sort of pattern of behavior, there would be evidence of it, and there isn’t. The issue is that you assume bigotry in absence of any evidence of it when there is plenty of evidence that these crimes actually occurred and were handled properly. All of those things have happened and are illegal. The man you referenced, John Burge, is a horrible human being who did terrible things with his power. He was eventually tried and convicted for his crimes. The reality is that the evidence on the whole stands against you. Nobody is arguing that any of those things are good, simply that they aren’t that common and when they are revealed, the perpetrators are punished.

    • Steve Manion. says:

      There is at least one strictly possession related crime that can have serious consequences. A current inmate who is caught with drugs while in prison can be (and frequently is in Arizona) charged with Promoting Prison Contraband, a class 2 felony, with very draconian penalties.

      I have also been involved in trying to help criminal defendants who were ROP’d. Police departments in several jurisdictions (Chandler, Phoenix, Tempe, say) have to agree that a particular defendant, who is frequently charged with multiple counts of shoplifting (almost universally because he can sell the shoplifted items for drug money) is in effect unredeemable and needs to go to prison. The ROP stands for Repeat Offender Program. Penalties for ROP’d defendants can exceed 10 years.


  7. Burak says:

    I mean, I guess it’s on me that I couldn’t figure out the non-trivia answers, but it’s super frustrating when I look at the clues and I get nothing. Of course Saturday puzzles are supposed to be challenging, but LESSEPS, MEANGENE, GOPER, ALTE etc. are not stuff that are exactly rewarding.

    It’s surprising to me that Agard’s puzzle yesterday has a lower rating than today’s. That one had its tough spots, but it was easy to figure them out culturally. This one was filled with trivia in a very road block-y manner.

    It gets 2 stars from me. Yes, if I had more fun solving it, I would give it a higher rating definitely, so that part is on me. But this is not a good fill overall, and although some clues are simply brilliant, some are very questionable. (Whites = ANGLOS?! Why do we have the term WASP then, let’s just call them ASPs)

    • Penguins says:

      i don’t think that’s unfair criticism. There’s enough trivia in spots to create difficulty.

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