Saturday, June 23, 2018

LAT 6:00 (Derek) 


Newsday 13:45 (Derek) 


NYT 4:36 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 6 23 18, no 0623

Am I the only one wishing that 48a ICE HOCKEY ARENAS split up 8/7 or 7/8 like the other 15s do? ICEHOCK EYARENAS! ECONOMIC BOYCOTT, LANGUAGE BARRIER, and RADICAL FEMINIST are all solid two-worders, as is the CELEBRITY CHEF that connects them all.

Seven things:

  • 52a. [Crack filler], SPACKLE. I love this word but use it in an entirely unauthorized manner.
  • 7d. [Naira spender], NIGERIAN. The Super Eagles beat Iceland in World Cup soccer today, yay! #TeamNaija
  • 35a. [Microsoft Surface surface], TOUCHPAD. Those of you who grouse that Apple’s grid-friendly IPAD and IPOD and IOS and MAC and IMAC are in crosswords all the time, take heart. Microsoft made it into a hardware clue. I hadn’t realized that the Surface brand name now extended to laptops—a tablet, like the original Surfaces, has no real need for a touchpad since the interface is a touchscreen, right?
  • 47a. [“A Room With a View” clergyman], BEEBE. Needed all the crossings. I guess my high school classmate Dan Beebe never got famous.
  • 4d. [Foreign news correspondent Richard], ENGEL. Don’t really know who he is—the name was only faintly familiar, and possibly from a past crossword. Georgia Engel, call me! (Just looked her up, and was surprised to learn that she’s only 69. She’s roughly one to three decades younger than her Mary Tyler Moore Show costars!)
  • 25d. [One “whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be,” per Ambrose Bierce], CYNIC. He’s not wrong.
  • 36d. [Renaissance symbol], PHOENIX. As in rebirth, not the 1500s.
  • 40d. [Nurse], SUCKLE. As in breastfeeding. Nice to see a straightforward and unembarrassed use of the words.

ARETE, NCR, and SEE NO are the worst fill here, so nothing atrocious. 4.2 stars from me.

To play us out, a delightful and touching video of late-night host James Corden taking Paul McCartney on a nostalgia tour of Liverpool. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the puzzle, but I think you’ll like it.

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

Back to a quick time this week again. I am in the middle of switching jobs, so I have a little time off in the interim, which I think is lessening my stress. There are other factors that are still causing some stress, but that’s life, right?!

I digress. This puzzle is actually really good. There are two 14s cutting through that both are timely, and this grid is a Q short of being pangrammatic. Sometimes it helps for a quick time when there is very little dreck in the grid, and that seems to be the case here. Yes, I have one error mark, but that was a typo! 4.6 stars today.

Lots to discuss:

  • 19A [Website with a Certified Fresh seal] ROTTEN TOMATOES – It is amazing how this site affects what a lot of people watch, including myself. If a movie has a rating here as low as, say, 30%, I may still watch it, but when it is under 20%, you KNOW it’s a dog!
  • 31A [Gun designer, __ Gal] UZI – Yes, I forgot this was his first name.
  • 46A & 55A [Hundred Acre Wood denizen] [“The __ of Pooh”] ROOTAO – Aren’t these two related somehow? This seems like it could have had a tie-in, albeit a really hard one.
  • 56A [Online exchange medium] CRYPTOCURRENCY – As in bitcoin and the like. As mentioned, these 14 letter answers are quite timely. I don’t own any of this stuff. Yet.
  • 64A [Alligator kin] CAIMAN – This is a little tough. My first thought was CROC, but that obviously didn’t fit!
  • 3D [Wolfpack’s home] NC STATE – Shouldn’t there be an indication that there is an abbreviation here?
  • 7D [Team-ranking surveys, briefly] AP POLLS – This DOES have an abbreviation indicator. The basketball polls are worthless, but the famed football polls are closely followed.
  • 12D [Cliff Palace dwellers] ANASAZI – Yes, THOSE cliff dwellers.
  • 52D [1997 protocol city] KYOTO – This is one of those climate change agreements the US is likely not a part of.

Time to watch soccer!

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

I thought I was well on my way to a sub-10 minute solve this week, but I ground to a halt after about 7 minutes with 75% or so of the grid filled in. As you can see in the image, the SW section gave me superfits, and the bottom stacked 10s I didn’t find much easier. but after a couple of answer checks, we gutted this one out in a still somewhat respectable sub-14 minute time, and I’ll take it! This is still an extremely difficult puzzle, but I thoroughly enjoyed the delightful agony this week. 4.7 stars from me.

Lots to talk about:

  • 1A [Drop cable]  CUT THE CORD – I am one of these; I use YouTube TV almost exclusively now, except for rare occasions that I watch network TV over-the-air. I recommend watching the World Cup on Telemundo!
  • 11A [Site fo the first Winter Olympics] ALPS – Specifically the first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. In ’28 they were in St. Moritz in Switzerland, to technically the first TWO Winter Olympics were in the Alps.
  • 20A [Inventor with a Central Park statue since 1873] MORSE – I believe you! It is evidently on the far east side, according to Google. I think I have driven through Central Park once or twice, but I have never been to any sites in there.
  • 47A [“Defy Jack Frost” liquid brand] PRESTONE – This makes sense if you think for a second. This appears to be an ad campaign, and not an actual slogan, from my searches.
  • 58A [Flavoring essential to pharmaceuticals] MACE – How is this a flavor? Does it mask other flavors?
  • 22D [Expound with pomp] PONTIFICATE – Nice!
  • 23D [Group outside the class system] AUTODIDACTS – I thought this might start with OUTER, and this was probably the main reason I had problems here.
  • 29D [Raise a flap] AVIATE – I got this one, even thought it was tricky. My vote for best clue in the puzzle.
  • 34D [More refined] COURTLIER – Or, what I am NOT! ;-)

Time to watch MORE soccer!

Daniel Hamm’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “You and I” — Jim’s review

WSJ – Sat, 6.23.18 – “You and I” by Daniel Hamm (Mike Shenk)

  • 23a. [Arrogance exhibited by moralistic folks?] PRUDE PRIDE
  • 25a. [Bookkeeper’s very first red-ink entry?] DEBUT DEBIT
  • 34a. [“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”?] JUNGLE JINGLE
  • 57a. [Knockoff Viagra?] CUT-RATE CITRATE
  • 64a. [Liverpudlian louts?] BRUTISH BRITISH
  • 89a. [Hot July temperature?] SUMMER SIMMER
  • 102a. [Loose-fitting blouse in need of laundering?] MUDDY MIDDY
  • 104a. [Any of Amsterdam’s many canals?] DUTCH DITCH

As you can see, words that differ by only a U and an I have been paired up to create wacky phrases. Not a bad theme, but not the most scintillating. I expect solvers like a little more challenge from a Saturday 21x.

I did not know that Viagra was a citrate nor what a citrate is. (Does it taste like lemons?) Nor did I know a loose-fitting blouse was called middy.


Dislikes: B-TO-B, ASKER, EDUCE, IT UP, whatever KDKA is, and [Canton of central SwitzerlandURI (although this last one could be a theme revealer of sorts).

New to me: MOIRES [Unintended printing patterns], BOOTES [Arcturus’s constellation], clarinetist PETE Fountain, and that the tiny West African country of BENIN was called Dahomey prior to 1975.

I did like the clues for BOND [No foe] (that’s Dr. No to you) and SEPTS [Places of worship, in Westeros] (Game of Thrones reference). I am surprised that we don’t often see that the Game of Thrones equivalent to the title “Sir” is “Ser.” You would think that would crop up a lot in crosswords assuming non-fans could stomach it.

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22 Responses to Saturday, June 23, 2018

  1. Jim Hale says:

    Good Sat NYT puzzle. Thanks for posting the video. Amazing how well he still looks.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I enjoyed it, possibly because I did it shockingly fast for me– in Tuesday/Wednesday time. It felt way easier than yesterday.
    I’m sad that the Arab Spring did not work out, and instead led to the civil war in Syria, and that the whole world has gotten less stable and less rational. I believe history will show how social media really changed the equation, not just in US elections but in the Arab Spring and beyond.
    On a lighter note: I loved several entries and the cluing related to them. There was a sort of sly vibe to a whole set: ROPES IN, CRIBS, DUCK, COUCH, AFFAIRS… you can feel the intrigue.

  3. Christopher Smith says:

    Re Georgia Engel: It’s very 70’s that a TV show championing female professionals included a married couple with a quarter-century age gap

    • Huda says:

      True. I remember as a grad student at UCLA in the 70’s going to faculty events where many of the men were my professors (especially the physicians) and many of their (very glamorous) wives were my age, usually the second marriage for those men.
      But I have a feeling this pattern has not necessarily stopped? Maybe slightly modified? I notice with my male colleagues who split up and get remarried that (in general) the age gap gets progressively wider with successive marriages…

      • Christopher Smith says:

        Oh this hasn’t changed IRL much at all. Just the optics of a progressive (some at the time might have even said RADICAL FEMINIST) TV show with this kind of relationship would be perceived differently now.

  4. Lise says:

    I miss Julia Child. The world is not quite as interesting without her in it.

    I had to break my solve into two BOUTS, leaving the SW to vegetate in my brain in the meantime (I did have RADICAL FEMINIST, at least). When I returned home my brain had apparently done its homework and the SW fell pretty quickly. Loved SPACKLE. Just fun to say.

    This was a wonderful Saturday, very smooth, with excellent cluing, especially the Ambrose Bierce clue.

    • Penguins says:

      “This was a wonderful Saturday, very smooth, with excellent cluing…”

      Agree completely.

      LAT and the Stumper were very good as well.

  5. Martin says:

    The only TV show I watch regularly is Rachel Maddow. I guess Richard Engel is a Rorschach test of sorts. If you’re a Maddow addict, he’s very familiar.

  6. Ellen Nichols says:

    Derek, I wondered about MACE too, since my meds don’t taste like spices.

    So I looked at the clue: 58A Flavoring essential to pharMACEuticals. Matthew Sewell slipped in a cryptic style clue, which is fair in a Stumper, no?

  7. Stan Newman says:

    MACE is found within PHARMACEUTICALS.

  8. Steve Manion says:

    Don Beebe is an iconic former player for the Buffalo Bills when they went to four
    Super Bowls in a row. He is best remembered for a play he made against the Cowboys when the Bills were losing in a rout. The Cowboys’ defensive end, Leon Lett, recovered a fumble and was hot-dogging his way to the end zone when Beebe stripped he ball just before Lett scored. I wish the clue had been “fastest white guy in football.” although I am not positive if that is true.

    I did not get PHOENIX until reading the blog.

    Surprisingly easy Saturday for me.


  9. David L says:

    I usually struggle with Byron Walden’s puzzles but this one was a breeze.

    The Stumper was also fairly straightforward, compared to some. A couple of clues don’t make much sense to me: what kind of PIP is an eye-opener? and why would DAS be ‘panel discussion VIPs’? They could be, of course, but I’ve been on a few discussion panel myself and I am not a DA (nor do I have a law degree of any kind).

  10. dh says:

    I had a rather lengthy discussion on a long car ride with my son, a musician and Beatles aficionado, about “Rocky Raccoon” – about whether or not he was a human or an actual raccoon. I was on the raccoon side of this debate.

    According to Paul McCartney, the original name of the character is “Rocky Sassoon”, but he changed it to make it sound more like a cowboy. Paul describes him as “Some bloke in a raccoon hat, like Davy Crockett”

  11. Gene says:

    Re: the Stumper – a DA would be a VIP for a jury emPANELing. Did not think about that until after finishing the puzzle, of course. I do think something special could be a real PIP, an eye opener.

    • David L says:

      Thanks. Makes sense, but the DA clue is very indirect, and the PIP clue seems very Noel Coward/Rex Harrison, when you put it that way.

  12. Karen Rackle says:

    WSJ — how does “so great” become “such?” (90 Down)

    • Papa John says:

      My question, too, Karen. The way I figure it, it’s like saying he’s SUCH an athletic boy but it doesn’t exactly make the grade. After writing that, I did a search and came up with this: “3. to so high a degree; so great (often used to emphasize a quality). ‘this material is of such importance that it has a powerful bearing on the case'”, so I guess it’s copacetic.

  13. Lise says:

    In the Stumper, I confidently plunked down SENIOR YEAR for 64a “When pupils may be unfocused”. That didn’t last long. Pretty good Stumper!

  14. Burak says:

    NE killed me in the NYT. ATEOVER didn’t make any sense to me even when I begrudgingly put it in, and it still doesn’t after an extensive search on a lot of dictionaries. DOIDARE is also foreign to me. Never heard of CARET nor BORERS.

    I can also see how the cluing in this puzzle can be greatly appreciated, but it didn’t work for me.

    All that being said, it was a generally pleasant puzzle, and the long answers were amazing. Therefore, 3.65 stars.

    • Lois says:

      I hope you broke up DO I DARE? I’m sure you know it’s ATE OVER but I guess you don’t like it.

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