Saturday, 5/29/10

NYT 6:44
LAT 4:48
Newsday 4:33
CS 6:09 (Evad)
WSJ Saturday Puzzle untimed

Caleb Madison’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 16Ah, that hits the spot—even with that one square I had wrong because the letter was plausible in one direction. And despite the difficulty I had in remembering how to spell MOE SZYSLAK, the 1A: [Surly TV bartender]. Heckuva 1-Across, that.

The “d’oh” square was #47. For 47A, I liked DUMP ON for [Eagerly criticize], though the eagerness is better exemplified by JUMP ON. The crossing made no sense—47D: [Kids] can be JIVES, in a way, but not so much DIVES.

Highlights:

  • 15A. A [Nervous wreck] is a BASKET CASE. That goes pretty well with Moe.
  • 20A. P. DIDDY is your ["Bad Boy for Life" performer at the 2004 Super Bowl].
  • 22A. The POT? [It grows during game play]. Tough clue.
  • 28A. AYN RAND makes for a good crossword entry, and I’ll leave it at that. [Author who wrote "Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today"].
  • 30A, 54D. [9 to 5, e.g.] clues both a RATIO and some ODDS.
  • 36A. Aw, yeah. “I WANNA BE SEDATED” is a [Classic 1978 punk song] by the Ramones. Start your puzzle with Moe and anchor the middle with the Ramones, and you’ll delight pop culture fiends.
  • 43A. BUG-EYED means [Agog]. Love the answer.
  • 52A. [1950s-'60s left fielder selected for nine All-Star Games] is White Sox great Minnie MINOSO. He lives in my neighborhood! Looks damn good for a fella in his 80s, too.
  • 63A. SORE LOSERS are [often ticked after being licked]. Not licked with a tongue. Though they might grumble at that as well.
  • 3D. [Passing burden?] is a good clue for the ESTATE TAX. It bears noting, though, that a great many estates are too small to entail payment of estate tax.
  • 5D. Took me forever to understand this one—["2001" characters] are ZEROS in that there are two zeros in the number 2001. Nothing to do with the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • 13D. Geographically speaking, a VELDT is an [Outback cousin]. Contemplated marsupials from the Australian Outback and the Subaru Outback here.
  • 43D. B MOVIE is a sparkly entry, and [People may act terribly in it].
  • 45D. Medical/anatomical terminology knowledge for the win! [Situated away from the point of origin] means DISTAL. Your foot is distal to your knee. Your molars are distal compared to your incisors.

Mystery bits:

  • 46A. [Camposanto Monumentale locale] is PISA. Hey, you know they’ve got a famous tower there, too. I hear it’s crooked, though.
  • 55A. [Hebrew for "spring"] is AVIV. Doesn’t Tel mean “valley”? And is this “spring” the season, or “spring” the source of fresh water?
  • 6D. YTTRIA is a [Powder used in lasers]. I feel like this word was just out there in another puzzle recently. Who remembers this?
  • 23D. When SOLTI wouldn’t work with the crossings, I drew a blank on [1976 Emmy winner for "Evening at Symphony"]. Seiji OZAWA.
  • 38D. [Old Martin bomber] is a B-TEN. As in Lockheed-Martin, pre-Lockheed?
  • 39D. Jean/Hans ARP was the [Creator of the bronze "En Songe"].

I find it satisfying to puzzle through clues I have no idea about and eventually wind up at the right answer. At least on Saturday. I don’t expect that sort of challenge early in the week but today? It’s good.

Updated Saturday morning:

William I. Johnston’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Command Performance”—Evad’s review

cs529 If dogs could talk, what would they say? Well, Mr. Johnston reminds us what we say to them:

  • COME TO AGREEMENT – I imagine most of you out there in puzzleland would agree (well, all perhaps the article-phobic Howard B.) that an “AN” is missing here.
  • ROLLOVER AN IRA – appropriate to those of us in mutual fund business.
  • STAY THE COURSE – sounds like something Capt. Kirk might say to Sulu.
  • FETCH A GOOD PRICE – much more fun to say than the clue “Sell profitably.”

A humorous theme with at least 3 solid and fresh entries, so this gets good marks from me. I was expecting a SIT entry, how about you? Other random thoughts in no particular order:

  • Having the DAE of DAEDALUS (“Wax wing maker”) first had me scratching my head in the NW. The only word I could think of that started with those letters was the bygone South Korean car manufacturer, DAEWOO. “Wax wing” refers to the wings made for his son, Icarus, that melted as he flew too close to the sun.
  • Lovin’ the K-action in SPECIAL K and KVETCH. That’s what Keeps us Koming back for more….
  • “Orange parts” aren’t roles Amy played as a young actress, but citrus-y SECTIONS
  • We have the first 2 of the 3 B’s of classical music: BACH (of “Musical Offering” fame) and Beethoven (born in BONN, Germany). BRAHMS will have to wait for another puzzle. ROCOCO (“Highly ornate”) reminds of the time of BACH as well.
  • First tried AL TEAM for “The Twins,” wondering at first why there was no “e.g.” in the clue. Turns out it was GEMINI.
  • A chess clue! ROOKS “move along ranks and files.” Are ranks horizontal lines and files vertical? Or does this just relate to the other chess pieces? Etymologists, please opine.

Enjoy the weekend!

Fred Jackson III’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 15A little tougher than usual, but still easier than the NYT for me. Highlights:

  • 5A: [Movie warning] is the PG THIRTEEN rating. Odd to spell out the number, I know, but sometimes I like that in a crossword answer. (Just not in UTWO or THREED.)
  • 16A: [Unequaled] means the ONE AND ONLY.
  • 19A: Ooh, POE trivia! Edgar Allan Poe is the [Orphaned author raised by the Allans]. Did any of you read that New Yorker article some months back about Poe’s messed-up life?
  • 22A: [Incomplete rainbow] is SUN DOG. Ha! Eleven days ago, we learned that a MOON DOG is a [Bright spot on a lunar halo]. I guessed SUN DOG because of that. The scientific name is parhelion, meaning “a bright spot in the sky appearing on either side of the sun, formed by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals high in the earth’s atmosphere.” Is that the same as an incomplete rainbow? I don’t know.
  • 27A: A [Buff] is a FIEND. Yes, FIEND means an enthusiast, not just a demon. Case in point: Diary of a Crossword Fiend.
  • 58A: One famous [California shopping mecca] is RODEO DRIVE. I’ve never been.
  • 61A: ["It doesn't get any better than this"] clues “I’M IN HEAVEN.” That was me on Tuesday, eating a Beard Papa’s cream puff with fresh strawberry custard filling. Slices of perfectly sweet fresh berries in creamy custard inside a pastry shell? It was all I could do not to slide to the floor in bliss.
  • 3D: [Where one might anticipate being introduced] is in a TV show’s GREEN ROOM. I was in one once, for a game show. It was crowded and the food was lame. I’m boycotting green rooms until I can present my demands in a binding contract. I want cream puffs, Diet Coke, and orange Peanut M&M’s.
  • 5D: [Vernacular jackpot] is a POT O’ GOLD. Don’t bother looking for it at the end of a SUN DOG.
  • 33D: [Richard Simmons weight-loss program with color-coded cards] is DEAL A MEAL.
  • 34D: [At night] clues AFTER DARK. Any longtime Mac users out there remember After Dark’s “Flying Toasters” screensaver?

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

The name in the byline is unfamiliar, which is surprising because Stan Newman usually turns to a fairly closed circle of constructors for the Stumper. New constructor or pseudonym?

Like the NYT and LAT puzzles today, this one has 72 words. Unlike the NYT and LAT, this one is mostly 7s (36 of the 72 entries, in fact) rather than having a smaller number of longer colorful answers held together with shorter fill. This type of puzzle tends not to thrill me. TEA SETS (14d. [China groups]) above TEASERS (44d. ["Free gift" ads]), EKES OUT, UNEATEN, ETAILER? Yawn.

What’s in the puzzle? This:

  • 1a. PLOWING is a [Snow job], quite literally.
  • 19a. [Pens that don't write] are STIES. My first guess was female SWANS. In fact, I have never received a postcard from a swan.
  • 27a. Idaho, or IDA., is a [St. with a panhandle]. Why go with an abbreviation when IDA is a full-fledged name?
  • 31a. One [Symbol of Louisiana] is its state bird, the PELICAN. Now with more crude oil!
  • 36a. [Fleming foe] is KGB. James Bond vs. the KGB? Not ringing a bell, but I haven’t read/seen all of the Bond stories.
  • 49a. A WATT is a [Joule per second].
  • 63a. [They're hysterical] clues GASSERS. I checked two dictionaries, neither of which had a “gasser” definition that reflected hysterical hilarity. “Gas,” yes, but not “gasser.”
  • 57a, 64a. Let’s go to the South Pacific! Specifically, the MARIANA [__ Islands (where Guam is)] and the SAMOANS who are [Lavalava wearers].
  • 2d. [It's flowing with the wind] clues a dry LEE TIDE. We Midwesterners give little thought to tides.
  • 7d. Jackie GLEASON is clued as a ['60s TV superstar]. I would’ve thought he was more ’50s.
  • 21d. SUN is clued as [Day starter, in two ways]: the sun that rises to start the day, and the first part of Sunday. My favorite clue in this puzzle.
  • 37d. [Sort of weekly] clues a NEWSMAG, like Time or Newsweek.
  • 38d. [Calixa Lavallée's best-known tune] is “O CANADA.” I’ve heard of the anthem, sure, but never its creator. Is she the Francis Scott Key of Canada?

Full answer grid here.

I don’t do the Newsday puzzle outside of Saturdays, but commenters here have been mentioning screw-ups in the daily puzzles—a couple instances of clues and answers not matching up. People! When you change the fill late in the game, it behooves you to make sure you correct the answer grid, not just the clues.

Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Rows Garden”

Ah, I do always love a good Berry variety puzzle, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Usually I can fill in a few of the Rows answers on my first pass through the clues, but this time either the clues were tougher or my brain was softer. So I worked on the Blooms clues before seeing that G1: [Fights that have no rules but lots of participants (Hyph.)] had to be FREE-FOR-ALLS. Everything else branched out from there, and a while later, whaddaya know? It was all filled in.

There’s only one entry that I don’t like, which is one more than in the typical Berry puzzle. H1: [Still apply (2 wds.)] clues HOLD GOOD. “Hold true,” sure, but “hold good” doesn’t sound remotely familiar to me.

I like the way Patrick worked ZAMFIR, the [Musician dubbed "Master of the Pan Flute"], into the grid. The ZAM intersects with D1: MAZEL TOV, [Shout at a Jewish wedding (2 wds.)].

Lots of England action here—DRURY LANE is A: [Covent Garden street that's home to London's oldest theater (2 wds.)]. WELLINGTON is I1: [English statesman known as the "Iron Duke"]. The BAHAMAS (J1: [Island chain believed to be the site of Columbus's first landfall in the Americas]) used to be a British colony. BRITISH AIRWAYS (J2: [Carrier whose hub is at Heathrow (2 wds.)]) is in the same row. The BORDER COLLIE, K2: [Popular sheepherding pooch (2 wds.)], comes from Britain. And EAST INDIA is K1: [Site of much 18th- and 19th-century English trade]. I don’t recall seeing a quasi-theme like this in a Rows Garden puzzle before.

Here’s my answer grid:

   DRU   RYL   ANE
COMETOPAPASHORTSHEETS
SAMWATERSTONPLAINJANE
MAZELTOVGETSTHEDROPON
FIREEATINGROSESARERED
ASTRODOMESMOKESCREENS
FREEFORALLSPIPSQUEAKS
HOLDGOODPANICSTRICKEN
WELLINGTONABOVETHELAW
BAHAMASBRITISHAIRWAYS
EASTINDIABORDERCOLLIE
   NET   WOR   KED
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24 Responses to Saturday, 5/29/10

  1. YTTRIA was indeed used in the last few months, with a clue that must not have troubled me (since I don’t remember it) as much as this one does. The present implication is that yttrium oxide powder is part of a laser. In fact it is used only as a synthetic precursor to the large single crystal (commonly YAG – yttrium aluminum garnet) which is actually the laser component. YTTRIA powder would be useless in a laser. Unless the constructor/editor know something I (who spent 20 years working with YAG lasers) do not know about this.

    The cluing is analogous to cluing CARBON as substance used in automobiles. Hey, you make steel using carbon and then use steel in cars…..

    Other than that one problem, I echo Amy’s final comment. I enjoyed this puzzle even though many of the pop culture answers were only available to me by getting enough crosses to recognize a name.

  2. Tuning Spork says:

    Aw, shoot. I just started a grid yesterday with I WANNA BE SEDATED running across through the center. File 13, here it comes.

    Had MOE SZESLAK and ETTRIA for a time. 3 minutes 17 seconds to be exact, according to the applet. Grr. Should have recognized YTTRIA right away.

    I don’t get the clue for 33-D, though, [First of three to be put out] for STRIKE ONE. Was it supposed to be [First of three in a putout]?

    (UPDATE: I see it now. “First of three (for a batter) to be put out”.)

    And, as far as I know, JIVES means giving someone the ol’ song and dance, not kidding them.

    Those clues aside, another solid grid from Caleb. Good to know that some youth of today know of the Ramones. Aah, hard and fast three- four- and five-chord punk powerpop. That’s the way it was and we liked it.

  3. sbmanion says:

    Yttria appeared in Robert Wolfe’s puzzle of Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. The clue was something to the effect of oxide in television tubes.

    I gave up on this one as I had DENADA and could not figure out what else it could be. It turned out I was right. Could someone explain what I am missing. Amy, did you not know the term or was there some other reason you didn’t explain it? I can’t recall the last time you didn’t explain or at least allude to a term I didn’t know and I always enjoy your explanations.

    The pitcher gets only a strike out when a batter strikes out, but the catcher gets credit for a putout. It was an OK clue for me.

    Tough excellent puzzle.

    Steve

  4. Tuning Spork says:

    DE NADA = “it’s nothing” in Italian and/or Spanish. The clue didn’t guide us toward a foreign phrase but, at least in most urban areas, it’s well-known enough not to require it, I guess.

    Easiest Saturday Stumper in years. 7:09, which is a typical NYT Wednesday time for me, and this on the heels of last weeks 18:16. Yer slipping, Stan!

  5. Gareth says:

    Huh… I found the NYT a delight to solve, but mostly pretty easy for a Saturday – a lot easier than Joe Krozel’s puzzle in any case (then I completely bombed on the LAT, and I appear to be all alone.)

    Seen MOESZYSLAK in a grid fairly recently but yes it’s still a heckuva 1A… With IWANNABESEDATED in the gird I wonder if Caleb didn’t clue BASKETCASE re the Green Day song? PDIDDY also is a really cool looking entry I’d say. And do really love DENADA as well

    The one area I did foul up on was badly 31 and 37D and the area lateral to it… Especially after putting MANTLE at 52A – Note to self don’t ever assume it’ll actually be a baseball player you’ve heard of… (If that number is +-10.) It also did take me a good while to figure out ZEROS devilish but delightful that.

    SORELOSERS’ clue felt Klahn-esque….

  6. ArtLvr says:

    @ R_C, many thanks for your comment! Powder in a laser looked darned odd… I saw Caleb’s name up top and shuddered with trepidation — TV bartender, surly or not? But at least there were a few clues for old-timers like AVA GARDNER and the ARRAS. I even vaguely remember MINOSO after guessing at AVIV. Managed to finish with only two googles: I WANNA BE SEDATED and P DIDDY. Not too bad considering a pop culture gap.

  7. Joe Cabrera says:

    I liked this puzzle and sped through it like a hot knife through buttah. P-chow! Wait, that’s not the right sound effect; I mean “blurp”?

    I too fell for the D/JUMP ON booboo. It was the last thing I fixed before I was done.

  8. Karen says:

    i had problems getting MINOSO…for ‘kids’, I started with JOKES, then I went to JESTS, and finally saw the JIVES. And I thought that Moe’s lastname had lots of Ss, Zs, and Ks, but I needed the crossings.

  9. joon says:

    i had some stumbling out of the gate as i attempted to misspell SZYSLAK, too, but overall this was a fast saturday for me. fun, though. lots of fun, though. calmad definitely seems to be in the BEQ school of freestyle constructing.

    spork, i agree: easiest stumper ever. ian fleming was a british intelligence officer in WWII before becoming a spy novelist. as such, {Fleming foe} for KGB seems fine.

  10. Martin says:

    joon,

    The KGB was nominally on our side in WWII, so I think the KGB baddies in Bond novels (c.f. Scaramanga, General Gogol, Max Zorin) are enough.

    I’m a home base with a cowlick again. Looks a little like Hitler, no?

    Steve is a demonic chiclet. JoeCab is a pirate home plate and ArtLvr is a stop sign Zen master.

  11. Jeff says:

    I thought EEKA crossed with URES was a little unfair. I didn’t know either of those and therefore I had to leave their crossing square blank.

  12. Jordan says:

    Stan Newman: Some of us wait all week for a brain-busting Stumper on Saturday – please no more of these early-week level puzzles on Saturday.

  13. ktd says:

    The endgame of today’s NYT for me was the puzzle’s West. A combination of luck and logic there was finally what helped me out, as among the clues the one that stood out to me was “Dan. preceder”. Figuring I needed the name of another Old Testament prophet, I just guessed EZEK simply based on the letter combination with Z and K (having MOE SZYSLAK in the grid helped justify this guess). Sure enough, I then put in OZAWA, and from there…checkmate.

    Very appealing grid design today and lots of interesting short fill.

  14. John Haber says:

    I found Saturday’s hard, as Saturday often is, but with some trouble spots I wish I hadn’t seen. I felt good about navigating the corner with, as already noted, DE NADA not clued as foreign, “dust devil,” and P DIDDY. (I had “roam” at first for ROVE, though the latter fits the clue better. I actually remember the song as “I Want to Be…,” but my bad.)

    I felt lucky, too, to get MINOSO. I had “japes” first for JIVES, but Tel Aviv made AVIV sound reasonable, so I switched and just hoped a lot. I had no trouble once I had the double TT getting YTTRIA, though as for Retired Chemist it didn’t feel right. I wish one actually saw THORO more in English, but the clue will pass.

    On the other hand, I had nothing more than a guess to rely on when it came to picking a time zone to cross with a TV bartender or a rapper to cross with an actress or musician. I guessed wrong both times and can’t say I blame myself.

  15. pannonica says:

    Martin, the KGB didn’t exist during WWII. Its predecessor was the NKVD. SMERSH from the Bond books was a stand-in for the KGB.

  16. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    SMERSH and the KGB are related but distinct in the canon of the novels and movies (which don’t always agree) as well as historically. The characters I mentioned are all associated with the KGB in at least one book or movie. I should have responded to Joon that the USSR was nominally our ally during WWII but my point is that the KGB or its predecessor would not have been a foe to Fleming during the war.

  17. pannonica says:

    Martin: Fair enough. I was a bit surprised when I checked wikipedia while writing my comment to see that SMERSH was real, not an invention of Fleming’s! Never came across it in newspapers or other espionage books.

    Having not done that puzzle and so without benefit of working through it, seems to me the clue’s implication was defining a foe of Fleming-as-author rather than Fleming-as-onetime-spook. A similar but less ambiguous rendering of the clue would almost have to be “Foe of James Bond,” as “Foe of Bond” might be too loose. It seems “Bond baddie” always clues to an individual, usually DRNO.

    Whatever the quibbling, I think we can agree that there are many, many better ways to clue KGB.

  18. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Do we really need reggae, rap, punk and the Simpsons (at least I guess that’s what 1a is) in the same damn puzzle? This is the sort of puzzle which drives me so high up a wall that I start trying to think of a more polite synonym for “hated” on the way down.

    I appreciate the 30 minute window to edit. A wise person would probably have made better use of the time. My only question is, who is that dude with his tongue sticking out? How did I get stuck with that? Ain’t I spose to be able to choose my own image in my own image? Or no image whatsoever? Actually it does kinda look like me.

    Let’s see, anything else I can rant about?

    Bruce

  19. pannonica says:

    Bruce: Those avatars are automatically generated based on, I think, IP address. Mine comes up with an image of my choosing because somewhere along the line I set it as a universal or global avatar or some such.

  20. Martin says:

    Bruce,

    I think my Hitler the Home Plate has a tongue. I think your Moron the Stop Sign has a snaggletooth.

  21. Evad says:

    Those in search of their own “gravatars” need only supply their email addresses here: http://en.gravatar.com/ If you’re afraid of supplying your email address, I haven’t rec’d any spam from them (that I know of), but it’s up to you. The “monsters” that appear here if you don’t have one set are tied to the email address you enter when you submit your comment. New email address, new monster. I think there are something like a million permutations of faces, eyes, tongues, etc., so we won’t run out.

  22. John Farmer says:

    I liked the puzzle from Caleb today. I find his puzzles consistently good. I think it’s tough these days to keep everyone happy with themeless fill. Lots of folks crave the their pop culture, and are disappointed if they don’t get it. For other folks, the pop culture stuff is a turn-off. Bruce didn’t mention AYN RAND. I’d bet that was more of a buzz kill for some people than MOE S$@&!AK (however you spell his name). I’m hardly a Randian but didn’t have a problem with her showing up (historical figures are easier to deal with than current-day wingnuts…no themes with Limbaugh or Coulter, please). I am a Simpsons fan, but not hardcore and I’m not craving more Simpsons than we already get in puzzles (is Homer really the greatest character of the past 20 years?). Still, MOE S. seemed like good, fresh fill. I’m not sure if I WANNA BE SEDATED is supposed to be cutting-edge or one for the geezers.

    Lester Ruff = Less Rough?

    I believe the only avatar in the WordPress world is Gravatar.

  23. dave word says:

    Darn – I had ‘iceskating’ intead of ‘fireeating’. There are blisters and then there are BLISTERS. An education for me as well as to who the master of pan-flute is.
    Fun puzzle. I agree with Patrick’s Hold Good comment.

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