Saturday, April 28, 2018

LAT 5:00 (Derek) 


Newsday 31:40 (Derek) 


NYT 4:52 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Andrew Kingsley and John Lieb’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 28 18, no 0428

Easyish for a Saturday, no? Grid’s got some terrific stuff and it’s got some “really??” stuff.

First up, what I liked: POST-TRUTH, which hurts. PIXY STIX, an appalling excuse for candy (basically sugar and citric acid with artificial dyes and flavors) but I sure loved it as a kid. NO PUN INTENDED. RAMI MALEK of Mr. Robot (he also plays Freddie Mercury in a Queen biopic that’s coming out this November) A TRILOBITE, because I’m still not over that trilobite fossil my sister and/or I took to show & tell and never saw again. “NICE MOVE!” I’m not sure about SEXY BEAST as clued—do people use this generically to mean [Studmuffin]? The Ben Kingsley movie feels like a more solid cluing avenue to me. (Andrew Kingsley—any relation?)

Term I’ve never seen before: 38d. [Lowest one in the pack], OMEGA DOG. Inferrable, yes, but not familiar to me.

Also unknown to me: 26a. [Fu-___ (legendary Chinese sage)], HSI. Also transliterated as Fuxi. Read up, cool story.

Displeased with ELEV, NEV, NOD AT, dull OSTEAL, NOT DO, DEMOB, RELETS.

Clue of note: 9d. [Like Swiss vis-à-vis other cheeses], HOLIER. Our Cheese who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name …

3.8 stars from me.

Pancho Arrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Little Off the Top” — Jim’s review

It’s the classic H-less cockney accent theme! I’m sure we’ve all seen this before, so there really isn’t anything new here. But there’s some humor to be found if you look for it.

The revealer is at 120a with the clue [Doolittle, whose speech patterns can be heard in this puzzle’s theme answers]. The answer is, of course, ELIZA, from the musical My Fair Lady.

WSJ – Sat, 4.28.18 – “A Little Off the Top” by Pancho Arrison (Pancho Harrison)

  • 22a [Placemat?EATING PAD. Heating pad.
  • 28a [Movie outtake?SHOOTING OOPS. …hoops.
  • 40a [No longer hung up on a masked man?OVER THE UMP. …hump.
  • 51a [Contractor hired for a building addition?ELL RAISER. Hell
  • 66a [Descriptor for an antique shop’s inventory?] OLD EVERYTHING. Hold
  • 84a [24 hours in Beijing?] BAD AIR DAY. …hair
  • 91a [Poison ivy and poison oak?] FOREST ILLS. …Hills.
  • 106a [Mini morays?] FOUR-INCH EELS. …heels.
  • 115a [Result of a slow night at the tattoo parlor?] NO ARM DONE. …harm

Back when we were living in England and I was volunteering at my kids’ little village school, I was working with one 5-year-old boy one day. I asked him how he spelled his last name. “S-M-I-F-F,” he said proudly. Not knowing his last name, I thought it was certainly possible that could be right, but I was doubtful. I asked his teacher, and after she got done laughing, she confirmed his name was actually Smith.

My point is that there’s a lot more to a cockney accent than just dropping Hs. “Hold everything” would sound more like “Old evry-fing.” “Hell-raiser” would be more like “Ell Risah.” “Over the hump” would be “Ovah dee ump.” Et cetera.

Saying this theme feature’s ELIZA‘s speech pattern isn’t quite right, therefore. But we all know what it’s getting at, so we can just go along with it.

I liked OVER THE UMP, NO ARM DONE, and BAD AIR DAY most of all. The rest felt pretty straightforward.

Unfortunately, there was quite a lot of crosswordese in the fill: ETS, RUER, TSE, plural SELS, ITSA, and ENZO plus a lot stale-ish fill like OASTSERLE, ODESSA, etc. The roughest bits were the partial LEE J at 54a and the abbreviation CCW (counter-clockwise) at 6a crossing WAD. Why this wasn’t changed to CCS/SAD, I couldn’t figure out until I spotted SADLY down near the bottom of the grid. Still, SAD could’ve been made into SID just by making AHA into AHI.

That’s the rough stuff. The good stuff includes CHANTEUSE, GYRATIONS, CAPRICE, SHORE BIRD, and STAG PARTY. I also like KENDO [Fencing with wooden swords] although some people might struggle with the K since it’s part of the proper name DIK [Cartoonist Browne].

A few more things:

  • Good fake-out with the clue [Pitt or Penn, e.g.]. I was thinking schools, but the correct answer is STAR (i.e. Brad or Sean).
  • [Branding expert] gives another good bit of mis-direction. It’s nothing to do with commercials, but cattle instead, since the answer is RANCHER.
  • [You could make a habit of it] is a clever clue for CLOTH.
  • [Paces in races] clues TROTS. Who TROTS in a race? Losers, I suppose. Or harness racers.
  • There were a few cross references (MEN and STAG PARTY, PHONO and VINYL, ABEL and ADAM (though thankfully not EDEN)). These didn’t feel particularly necessary. In a 15x grid I don’t mind them so much, but in a 21x, it’s quite a bit harder to track them down. I ended up ignoring them for the most part and just getting them via crosses.
  • The word to hate these days is MOIST (61a, [Like towelettes]). Some people don’t like the sound of MOIST. Others associate MOIST with unpleasant things. It’s gotten so that just the mere mention of MOIST makes people shudder. Me, I don’t have a problem with MOIST. I could say MOIST all day without any problems. Watch. MOIST MOIST MOIST MOIST

Okay, time to work on your accent. After you watch the video below, ‘ave a look at dis one, mate.

Andrew J. Ries’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

I finally got the chance to meet Andrew Ries at the ACPT last month. He’s tall! As a matter of fact, I was in a conversation with him, Brian Cimmet, and Ade Koiki and I was the shortest of the bunch. By far. And I am 6 feet tall! I used to think I was average height, because when I was younger I swear the average height for men was right at 6’00”, but now the average is more around 5’9″ or 5’10” in the US. My point it is I am actually slightly taller than the average male, and I felt like a shrimp in this group!

Anyway, kudos to Andrew also for a 2nd place B finish. He also has a cool website with great puzzles and interesting blog entries. I subscribed to the Rows Garden puzzles last year (or was it two years ago?), but I get the Freestyles puzzles this year. Those are probably my favorite type of crossword anyway, and I find his very enjoyable. Today’s 70-worder is an example of one of these freestyle puzzles, albeit rather easier than one from his site! I suppose this one is a lot more accessible, which makes it have broader appeal (and thus salable); the people subscribing to his puzzles are likely, like me, gluttons for punishment! Kudos also for the LAT puzzle today. It also was a ton of fun. 4.6 stars.

Some highlights:

  • 16A [Construction equipment with a projecting arm] JIB CRANE – I’ve seen these more in factory settings, but I suppose this clue is still accurate.
  • 31A [Site to get tight for a flight?] AIRPORT BAR – I don’t think I have ever ordered a drink at one of these. I always have too many bags!
  • 36A [ Post-scoring routing] GOAL CELEBRATION – Great clue. Surprising how the NFL didn’t even allow celebrations until recently, whereas soccer worldwide embraces celebration. I keep thinking football is going to wane at some point, but then I see the mania surrounding this weekend’s NFL draft, and I am not so sure. And then the US is NOT in the World Cup that starts here in about 7 weeks, and that won’t help!
  • 45A [Haus wives] FRAUEN – Is this the plural in German? News to me!
  • 61A [Cuts in Hollywood?] TENTHS – Maybe in church or with a sports agent as well! I get the feeling in entertainment people are milked for much more.
  • 2D [ 2016 Disney musical set in Polynesia] MOANA – Disney. Ugh. Still haven’t seen this. Chase doesn’t watch movies, so I haven’t had to sit through this. It IS on Netflix, though!
  • 14D [Record holder] FILE CABINET – You can see this is where the cursor ended up. Yes, my mind was on vinyl records!
  • 19D [Worship of John, Paul, etc.?] BEATLEMANIA – Best clue AND entry in this grid! Very well done.
  • 56D [Physician-turned-actor Jeong] KEN – This guy is all over the place since his appearance in The Hangover. Which I have never seen!

I could go on and on, but it’s the weekend!

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

Ouch. This one was painful. I started this one earlier in the week, since Stan is kind enough to get me advanced copies for blogging purposes, and I still didn’t think I would have this done by Saturday morning! I try to be open and honest with my solving experience, and you can see all of the error marks in this one. I will explain some of these below, but this is the hardest Stumper I have done in a long time. I am still not totally comfortable with Matt Sewell’s style, but I would have thought I have solved enough of his, either solo or COCREATEd (!) to be at least somewhat on his wavelength. Until today. When I see his byline next time, I will grab a gingko pill! 4.3 stars today.

Some of my troubles:

  • 5A [At the extreme of retiring] COYEST – I had SHYEST. I was close!
  • 17A [Marine animal named for a gourd] SEA CUCUMBER – I suppose it kinda looks like a cuke!
  • 25A [Burlesques] APES – A burlesque is essentially a caricature, so this is accurate, but extremely difficult. Usually the answer is obvious once you get it; I had to look this one up!
  • 26A [Migrated upstream] RAN – Another word with an obscure usage being clued. I suppose I have heard of a salmon running upstream, but usually they are just said to be swimming, aren’t they?
  • 33A [Centers for drawing classes] MAGNET SCHOOLS – I have heard this term. Just not in a long time. And this clue has nothing to do with art! I was totally duped.
  • 45A [Bolivar Square city] BOGOTA – I had HAVANA. No idea.
  • 48A [Tries to swat] BATS AT – This one literally made me angry. I tried FANS AT, PAWS AT and anything else I could think of. This one NEVER occurred to me.
  • 52A [General Washington subordinate] CONTINENTAL – Someone explain this to me!
  • 2D [It offers a Cajun Totchos recipe] ORE-IDA – This evidently is a tater tots recipe. That I have never heard of either.
  • 36D [Funds] CABBAGE – I tried COFFERS. No real indication that this is a slang answer. Unfair!
  • 47D [Port due north of Corsica] GENOA – I had GHENT in there, since my European geography is horrible. This makes sense if you know Genoa is a port, and it also makes sense after looking at a map!!

Going to rest today after this one. Have a great weekend!

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29 Responses to Saturday, April 28, 2018

  1. Penguins says:

    The questionable OBITE, MALEK, DEMOB cross was unsurprising in a puzzle that played a bit like trivia in a box

  2. PhilR says:

    DRYLY x RAMY. I repeat, DRYLY x RAMY.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Agree that it starts with a bang. But I found it stuffed with trivia and some of the cluing stretched the definition of a clue…

  4. David L says:

    I liked the NW quarter. As for the rest … Too Many Names. Much harder than a typical Saturday for me.

  5. Lise says:

    After yesterday’s NYT, I wondered whether today’s would be more difficult, or less, and it turned out to be both. Initially, I had a big head of steam, but by the time I ground to a halt, the grid looked like a chunk of HOLIER Swiss cheese. I didn’t know ABUJA/GANJA or RAMI/DRILY – I decided that Mr. Malek needs to spell his very cool name with a Y (are you okay with that, Mr. Malek?), because DRILY just doesn’t seem right – and I was glad to finally get GASKET so that SARG would emerge. ALL right instead of ALL THERE slowed me down in the PIXY STIX area.

    Our first dog was an OMEGA DOG. We frequently referred to her in that manner when on our daily group walk with a bunch of other dogs. She was content to be put in her place at the bottom of the dog heap. Our next dog was a bossy alpha and not shy about letting other dogs know this.

    I agree with Huda that some of the clues were somewhat oblique. Tough Saturday workout, but all in all a fine puzzle.

  6. Alan D. says:

    Can’t believe I’ve never heard of Nigeria’s capital before, ABUJA. And it’s never been used before in the NYT. Huh. 1.24 million people. Replaced Lagos as the capital in 1991. Double huh.

    • Steve Manion. says:

      Last month or maybe before that, the clue was the first capital city alphabetically. The answer was ABU DHABI. I and several others thought it should have been ABIDJAN, which was no longer the official capital of the Ivory Coast. I mentioned that I memorized all the world capitals when I was young. Amy then asked me if I knew that the capital of Nigeria was second alphabetically. LAGOS is second?????? So I looked it up and I have remembered it ever since.

      It is funny how are memories work. I always remember world capitals and most sports and games. Pop culture names and musical references are tough for me.

      I wish the rest of the puzzle had been world capitals as I struggled mightily with this one.


  7. David Glasser says:

    Stumper: 57A (What MIT hasn’t a major in, ENG) is barely accurate. For it to make any sense you have to choose to interpret it as English rather than the similarly plausible Engineering. But even that is only true in a very literal sense: MIT has majors in both Literature and Writing, even if it’s not called “English”.

  8. Ken Bessette says:

    Stumper clue/answer:
    Continental as in someone in the Continental Army = General Washintgon subordinate

  9. Matthew G. says:

    There are some errors I am incapable of feeling bad about. Crossing RAMY and DRYLY instead of RAMI and DRILY is one of them.

  10. lemonade714 says:

    You obviously have tall relatives, as the average height of those in the US has never been 6′. As seen in this LINK we in the US seemed to have maxed out at 5’10”.

    Meanwhile, MOANA was a delight and I enjoyed it, my wife, son and grandchildren all loved it. Try it, you’ll like it.

  11. Dan says:

    Hey, Derek, could you ask Stan what he was getting at with GO QUIETLY for “Cross the threshold without knocking”? I know he told Amy “knocking” referred to “don’t knock it til you tried it” but I’m still not sure what he had in mind. Or maybe Amy or Stan can put this to bed for me.

    Stumper felt a little easier than average today. Maybe I was on its wavelength.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      We covered this in the comments a week or two ago, after someone else had commented about that weird clue so I emailed Stan for the explanation. He meant knocking in the “don’t knock it” sense, although the verb is transitive (takes an object) and the grammar doesn’t work in the clue. Stan used the question mark as a signal that the grammar is off, which wasn’t my understanding of how question marks are used in tricky clues.

      • Dan says:

        Thanks for the reply, Amy, but I think I’m not making myself clear. I’m looking for an instance where GO QUIETLY describes crossing a threshold without knocking. QUIETLY refers to not knocking but GO where or when? Or is the clue just a grammatical exercise in that there is no instance in mind just that GO is a synonymous with “cross the threshold” and QUIETLY with “knocking”?


        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I think the clue is irretrievably broken, personally. “Leave the room without criticizing anything” is really not what GO QUIETLY means. If you GO QUIETLY, you don’t kick up a fuss, which is not the same as not “knocking something.” And using the question mark as a signal for “we’re violating the grammar of verb transitivity” is another step too far. I guess it worked a lot better in Stan’s head, but given how many of us were just perplexed and/or annoyed by the clue, it missed the mark.

  12. Tim in NYC says:

    Stealing a child’s fossil is a despicable act. I’m sorry that happened to you, Amy.

  13. ahimsa says:

    I agree with Jim’s write-up about the WSJ puzzle.

    Still, that central entry really spoke to me – OLD EVERYTHING! Yep, that’s how I feel. :-)

  14. Brenda Rose says:

    LAT 46d: RARES
    Nobody objects to that?

  15. Noz says:

    WSJ: Doesn’t even rate a “meh” in my book. Stale, indeed. I expect better from the WSJ, and nearly always get it.

Comments are closed.