Saturday, 5/22/10

Newsday 9:18
NYT 6:39
LAT 4:20
CS 4:36 (Evad)

Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 7Will Nediger commented Friday afternoon, “Oh dear, I’m up next in the NYT, which means I have to follow up that stunner of a themeless by Patrick Berry.” It’s a thankless task. Let us speak no more of the Berry. Onward!

My favorite parts:

  • 15A. [Throw off] was a gimme. EMIT! After skimming a handful of clues and having nothing leap out at me, I was glad to hit a familiar word.
  • 18A. LEANN RIMES was the [First country singer to win the Best New Artist Grammy]. Always nice to have a famous person’s full name in the grid.
  • 21A. Guy is a first name in France, so [Guy's buddy] is <i>son AMI</i>.
  • 42A. It must’ve killed Will N. to include SUN PARLOR rather than PARLOUR. He’s Canadian, you know. This room is the [House part that gets flooded on a clear day?].
  • 47A. ZINGER is a great word. ["Touché!" elicitor] describes it well enough.
  • 54A. And the famous people can be fictional. ALEX KEATON was the [Young Republican of a 1980s sitcom], Family Ties, played by Michael J. Fox.
  • 55A. RENE! We add yet another to our collection of Semifamous Men With the Same Name As My Husband: [___ Caovilla, maker of high-end women's shoes], is one I’ve never heard of. You?
  • 2D. Scrunch up AM I LATE into one word, and you get AMILATE, which sounds like it means “emulate Amy.” ["Have you started without me?"] is the clue.
  • 3D. Aha! [One in debt?] is the third letter, a SILENT B.
  • 5D. In [One putting a tale in the air?], “air” means a song. The answer is BALLADEER.
  • 6D. I can appreciate the redundancy of FREE GIFT, but this clue is horrible: [Product recipient's surprise].
  • 12D. I’m astonished every time there’s a Louisa May Alcott character or title in a crossword and assorted men comment that they sure don’t know any of that because those books are for girls. If you ask me, Little Women is part of the cultural literacy the menfolks can reasonably be expected to have too. Don’t we all have a cocktail-party level of passing familiarity with many works of art we haven’t personally experienced? You need not read every novel and play, see every movie and Broadway show, watch every TV show, or listen to every opera and symphony in order to know enough to fill in a crossword answer. (And don’t get me started with sports!) So no grumbling that you didn’t know JO MARCH was a [Literary tomboy]. I know Mel stinking OTT.
  • 26D. Weird but accurate clue for Leonard NIMOY: [Player of a logical crew member]. We would also have accepted CHO QUINTO.
  • 29D. I so wanted [Ailurophile] to be CAT FANCIER. It’s CAT PERSON. I am decidedly not a cat person.
  • 31D. A Philip [Glass production] is a CONCERTO.
  • 32D. Ooh, science. [Bands appearing after split-ups?] are SPECTRA. Last weekend, we took the boy to the “Science Storms” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. We adjusted huge prisms and mirrors to generate strips of rainbow, splitting the light into bands of different colors.
  • 33D. TINFOIL is a [Cheap hat material], yes, but still surprisingly fashionable.
  • 38D. Who doesn’t like an ALL-MALE revue? The adjective is clued [Like some risque revues].
  • 50D. I like KIX cereal and had no idea it has been a [Puffed product since 1937].

Five clues I think people will be Googling on Saturday:

  • 34D. UNICODE is an [Ascii alternative].
  • 40D. A [Sawhorse, e.g.] is a TRESTLE. Really. Look up “sawhorse” in the dictionary, and it’ll tell you it’s a frame or trestle.
  • 19A. OLEG is the name of [Cosmonaut Makarov].
  • 24A. [Kafka confidant Max] BROD is no one I have ever heard of.
  • 5A. [Key of Schumann's "Spring" Symphony] is B FLAT MAJOR. Man, I don’t like the musical note/key answers. I piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle because I never have any idea what the right answer is supposed to be.

Vic Fleming’s Los Angeles Times crossword

With a 4:20 solving time for me, I’ll rate this puzzle a bit tougher than the average Saturday L.A. Times crossword—but still easier than most of the NYT and Newsday themelesses.

I’ll walk you through the puzzle nowRegion capture 6, focusing mostly on my favorite parts:

  • 1a. [McCarthy era phenomenon] is the RED SCARE. Wouldn’t it be awesome to use that clue for an answer like BUDDY HOLLY?
  • 17a. The clue [1985 John Irving best-seller] is missing with “The”. With or without The, CIDER HOUSE RULES looks good in the grid. 1985? Holy cow. I still think of this as one of Irving’s more recent novels.
  • 20a. I like this clue. Yes, CUTENESS is a [Baby's asset]. Without said asset, the human race might’ve died out eons ago. If you’re going to disrupt my sleep for months, you’d damn well better be cute.
  • 30a. [Rested] clues TOOK FIVE, a solidly idiomatic phrase. I got addled by a wrong crossing. For 23d: [Show approval, or disapproval], I had RATE instead of the correct RAVE. (One raves about good things but gets raving mad about terrible ones.)
  • 35a. This clue is misleading. [Frequent saver] is a GOALIE? As if. If I were the goalie, I assure you the saves would be infrequent. (Go, Blackhawks!)
  • 42a. HOME STRETCH is perhaps my favorite answer today. [It's right before the end].
  • 53a. AN ERA completes ["Corporations have been enthroned and ___ of corruption in high places will follow": Lincoln]. Good old Abe knew whereof he spoke.
  • 54a. One [Cryptozoologist's subject] is the LOCH NESS MONSTER. Another is the yeti. Imagine my surprise when I drove past a store that had gone out of business and saw its name: Yeti Boutique.
  • 8d. [They're not wild] isn’t about untamed beasts, it’s about EDUCATED GUESSES.
  • 27d. [It's sold in bars] clues OLEO. “Barkeep! Double oleo, neat.”
  • 29d. The only reason I know that a [Paving stone] is sometimes called a SETT is because that word’s been in crosswords before. It’s too rare to count as crosswordese, I think. Luckily, all four crossings are more common, which should take the guesswork out of SETT. You won’t see this entry before Saturday.
  • 34d. FRESHEN UP is another great in-the-language phrase. [Shower and change, say] pretty much covers it.
  • 56d. [Where "Shazbot!" is a curse] is ORK, as in the planet in Mork and Mindy. Ah, that takes me back to my tween years.

And now, a roundup of the less savory filling:

  • 6d. [Sports fig.] clues ATH., short for “athlete,” rather than some sort of statistic.
  • 12d. [Everyone, in Essen] is ALLE. People seem to grumble when there are German words in the grid. (Me, I like ‘em because I studied German.)
  • 13d. [Suburban followers?] is a cute clue for a plural suffix, -ITES.
  • 31d. Boring ONE-A is clued as [Service rank], which makes it sound like a military rank (along the lines of CPL, SGT, COL, MAJ) rather than a draft classification.
  • 32d. Sure, a partial like OF AN is not great fill. But I do like the clue: ["Confessions __ English Opium-Eater": 1821 De Quincey work]. Are any of you opium-eaters? No? How about lotus-eaters? Anyone?
  • 35d. GOT AT isn’t so easy to put in a natural-sounding sentence in the past tense. The clue is [Touched], but I feel like “getting at” is more about implying. Dictionary tells me “get at” also means “reach” and “bribe.” “I crawled under the car and GOT AT the damaged muffler”—that works, right?
  • 41d. ["Life With Father" co-star Leon] AMES is no longer a household name. There was a guy in my college dorm who always called me “Ames.” I’m still surprised no one else ever has.
  • 45d. If you haven’t encountered James ENSOR, the ["Christ's Entry Into Brussels in 1889" artist], in crosswords, you probably haven’t run into him anywhere else. He had a decidedly macabre bent, with skeletons playing a prominent part in his art. Check out his work, and then he won’t be an obscure entry anymore. (Advice: Belgian artist, 5 letters, your answer will invariably be ENSOR.)
  • 51d. [Plasm lead-in] is the prefix ECTO-.

Updated Saturday morning:

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Splitting the Atom”—Evad’s review

cs522 Ms. Levin gives us four theme entries with ATOM split between them:

  • NATO MEMBERS – I’m somewhat on the fence on whether this is a valid phrase, what do you think? How about “Greece and Germany” for EU MEMBERS or “Annette and Justin” for CLUB MEMBERS?
  • POTATO MASHER – I like my mashed potatoes lumpy, my husband likes smooth, so we alternate between using a masher and a hand mixer depending on who’s doing the mashing.
  • ROMA TOMATOES – the best variety for making pasta sauce – hey, I’m getting hungry here!
  • MARISA TOMEI – my fave entry of the bunch; loved her in In the Bedroom.

Not the biggest fan of this type of theme, particularly if the connecting word isn’t split in different ways across the theme entries (two have ATO/M and two have A/TOM). Also there wasn’t much of an element of surprise with the title giving away the gimmick early on. Let’s see if the fill jazzes things up a bit:

  • I enjoyed the clue “Cover story?” for ALIBI. Probably have seen it before, but one benefit of a limited memory is the ability to enjoy these type of clues as if they were fresh each time!
  • POGO is the “Philosophical possum of the comics.” He lived in the Okefenokee swamp along with Albert Alligator. The famous quotation “We have met the enemy and he is us” is from this strip.
  • The food references continue with BUNDT cakes. I actually own a bundt pan, and I bet you do too! When’s the last time you’ve used it?
  • BARISTA is a “Starbucks staffer.” Did this term originate with Starbucks or predate it? I see it’s Italian for “bartender;” I suppose it’s just a matter of time before we can get a shot of Sambuca in our Iced Mocha Lattes.

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

I had a lot of empty patches and a good number of false starts in this one, but eventually it all came together. The very last square I filled in was the letter where 55a: [Joint enterprise] and 55d: [Make liquid] meet. I didn’t understand why COOP and CASH made any sense, though. Finally realized it’s a two-syllable CO-OP, not a one-syllable COOP, and making financial assets liquid is CASHing them in. I also considered H and L where the C goes.

Favorite clues and answers:

  • 1a. A JETPACK is a [Spacesuit attachment] that’s much zipper than an AIR HOSE, my first guess. Not a single letter in AIR HOSE was correct!
  • 27a. The VW BEETLE is a [Product with the slogan "Think small"]. Oy! I had a blank between the V and B for the longest time and ran through all the vowel possibilities to no avail. It wasn’t until I gambled on 37a: [Spanish causeway]/ESTRADA that the 28d: [Former 50-pound note portrait] began to take shape as *REN. Christopher WREN! And a VW!
  • 35a. [OK] clues ALRIGHT. Purists say “alright” isn’t a word. I beg to differ. “All right already” looks dumb to me, but “Alright already!” sings. Plus, The Kids Are Alright.
  • 56a. [It can't stand alone] clues a DEPENDENT CLAUSE. Which actually can stand alone, provided the author knows she’s doing it for a certain effect.
  • 62a. [State-of-the-art features] are the HYPHENS in that phrase.
  • 2d. [Fort Ticonderoga capturer] didn’t give me the answer—the crossings did. Full name, ETHAN ALLEN. Better known as a furniture retailer.
  • 7d. A KLUTZ is a [Bungler]. Great word.
  • 13d. Tricky clue for an ACRE: [It's made up of square rods], with 1 square rod being 1/160th of an acre. Nobody measures in rods anymore, but the cubit and hand are mainstays at my house.
  • 30d. LEDERHOSEN are a [Bavarian symbol].

Tough little bits that don’t make the favorites list:

  • 19a. [Fonda, in "My Darling Clementine"] is EARP.
  • 33a. [One celebrating Saint Sava's Day] is a SERB.
  • 34a. Crosswordese! [Gross-weight deduction] is TRET. I went with its crosswordese cousin, TARE, which is a word people might actually encounter outside of puzzles.
  • 45a. [Big name in general aviation] is PIPER, as in the Piper Cub airplane.
  • 46a. BOS. means Boston, an [NBA Atlantic Div. city]. Meh.
  • 59a. ["Night and Day" introducer] is ASTAIRE.
  • 5d. [Chemist's ending] is ANE. This is one of the worst clues, the random suffix thing, because it’s so nonspecific. The answer could equally plausibly be ANE, ENE, IDE, INE, or ITE—all of which are lame answers.
  • 23d. FOGG, as in Phileas FOGG, is the [Third word of "Around the World in Eighty Days"].
  • 24d. [Moderates] is an unusual clue for EBBS.
  • 26d. [Caramelized creation] clues ONION BREAD. Bleh.
  • 31d. [Schedule figs.] looks like it wants something from an IRS schedule, but it’s a plane/train/bus schedule’s ETAS.
  • 52d. [Nickname of the baby on TV Guide's first cover] is DESI. I guessed LUCI for Lucy and Desi’s daughter.

(Complete answer grid here.)

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17 Responses to Saturday, 5/22/10

  1. foodie says:

    ARE WE ALONE?

    Will Nediger had nothing to worry about. This was a terrific puzzle.

  2. Bill from NJ says:

    Amy, you hit on one of my pet peeves: Men not familiar with art produced by women. Toni Morrison is one of our most influential novelists and many men are not familiar with her work because she’s female. Pathetic.

  3. joon says:

    CHO played sulu, i think, in the recent movie. spock was played by … well, two actors. one of them was leonard NIMOY. young spock was played by zachary quinto.

    max BROD was a nice gimme, although i’ve never read any of his work, nor do i frequent cocktail parties… but old quizbowl knowledge dies hard. anyway, he’s famous because kafka appointed him as the executor of his will, in which he asked that all of his writings be incinerated. brod refused and published it instead. good thing, too, because otherwise none of kafka’s novels would ever have been published. and i haven’t read those, either, although i did read the metamorphosis and some of his short stories, most of which he did manage to get published before he died.

    loved this puzzle. my fastest paper saturday, but that’s not why i loved it. it’s a daunting grid but the fill is terrifically smooth, with only one abbreviation of any kind and plenty of sizzle. i can’t wait to see who’s on tap for sunday—let’s keep the streak going!

  4. ktd says:

    I had a great time unraveling Will’s puzzle–I started with _FLATMAJOR (needed the BALLADEER cross to get the first letter) and chugged along from there. A very nice mental workout.

  5. F Kafka says:

    ON PARABLES
    …..Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourself would become parables and with that rid of all your daily cares.
    Another said: I bet that is also a parable.
    The first said: You have won.
    The second said: but unfortunately only in parable.
    The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.

  6. sps says:

    Amy,

    JO MARCH was a gimme as I read Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, and lotsa other great stuff to my three girls. I still get to read to my youngest, who is almost 12.

    sps

  7. HH says:

    “Who doesn’t like an ALL-MALE revue?”

    Um, me?

  8. Tinbeni says:

    I didn’t google it but B FLAT MAJOR worked its way out via crosses.
    BROD I think was a Jeopardy answer a few days ago.

    Funny thing is the NYT I finished, the LAT was a DNF, not ever close.
    It ususally it the other way around on Saturday.

    Probably has to do with STUPOR, STAGGER and being ZONK are more familiar to me.

  9. ArtLvr says:

    Well done, Will… Funny to see ZONK again, something beyond your control of course. Very good cluing, such as Passing notes for DIRGE and Nose-wrinkling for PUNGENT. I also enjoyed following up on the genesis of Schumann’s first symphony, “Spring”, which related to his honeymoon. Father of the bride had tried to prevent the marriage, but got no satisfaction in court and one can only hope he mellowed as eight children ensued! That symphony of his was a great success, and cleverly included echoes of a great one by Schubert which Schumann himself had discovered only a year earlier! Twists of fate?

  10. Howard B says:

    BROD was last in the grid this morning – it’s funny, Joon, I had not long ago heard the whole story about Kafka’s will and his instruction to burn all of his work, etc. What I did not know was the name of the person who was willed the writings!

    Agree on the female writers – I did not even read Toni Morrison until I encountered The Bluest Eye early in college, and it would have been a shame to have missed out on her work. Same goes for earlier authors who received much less recognition during their lifetimes. At least we can read them now simply as accomplished authors, without all of that gender-based judgment getting in the way.

    In full disclosure, I also struggled with JO MARCH. Not because of lack of Alcott knowledge (We’ve traveled to Concord before to see Walden Pond, the Alcotts’ homes, all of the sites etc., for crying out loud), but because I didn’t have the top letters and didn’t realize there was a full name hiding in there. Also had two errors in the crossings which turned Jo’s last name into something resembling phonetic guacamole, until I finally corrected it.

    Oh, right, the puzzle! This was a challenging and fun grid, and no reason to compare to yesterday’s – they both stand well on their own unique merits. Well done, Will!

  11. Karen says:

    Hear hear regarding gendered fiction. Maybe when they make Beth a werewolf we’ll get more young boys to read Little Women, but really it’s worthwhile on its own, just like Johnny Tremain.

  12. joon says:

    okay, okay, you’ve guilted me into reading some austen. not alcott, mind you, because i have little patience for anything associated with transcendentalism. but i suspect i’d like austen and i’ve never gotten around to reading her because she’s too girly. we’ll see if her wit can overcome her subject matter.

  13. pannonica says:

    You could ease into it with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

  14. ArtShapiro says:

    Famous person??? Gee, never heard of her. Had to look that one up to finish the puzzle.

    At least we had an easy “classical” gimme with the Robert Schumann clue.

    Art

  15. LARRY says:

    Interesting fact about “Night and Day” (Sat.Stump 59A): It was introduced in a stage show called “The Gay Divorce” and sung by Fred Astaire. When they made it into a movie called “The Gay Divorcee”, Astaire again sang it and it was by far the best song in the movie. BUT the Academy Awards rules barred it from winning because it didn’t originate in a movie. SO, the award went to “The Continental” from the same movie; “The Continental” was far inferior to “Night and Day”, but rules are rules.

  16. John Haber says:

    I knew BROD from high school. The hardest for me was the SE, although again as a boy who thus never was obliged to read “Little Women” I wasn’t sure on the cross between Jo’s last name and SUCRE.

  17. Zulema says:

    Why have I found the Saturday NYT puzles so much easier than Fridays’ lately?

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