Saturday, 9/18/10

Newsday 6:15
NYT 5:07
LAT 4:49
CS untimed
WSJ Saturday Puzzle 11:14

Natan Last’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 5Natan closes out Brown University puzzlers’ week in the NYT. Hey! What’s this Friday puzzle doing in my Saturday paper? I was expecting more of a challenge from this puzzle.

I am so very sleepy right now, so let me run through a top 10 list:

  • 5a. FLAVOR FLAV! The [Founding member of Public Enemy known for wearing large clocks around his neck] has become a regular citizen of reality TV land.
  • 16a. This is Stephen Colbert, right? I AM AMERICA is clued [2007 satirical best seller subtitled "And So Can You!"]. Yep, lotsa pop culture in Natan’s puzzle.
  • 38a. From Moby-Dick, we get PELEG, [Literary captain who says "It's better to sail with a moody good captain than a laughing bad one].
  • [One may cause your dinner to be spoiled] clues a LATE LUNCH.
  • 61a. [Wet bar, maybe] is a great clue for SOAP.
  • 3d. [What some plays are shown in] is SLOW MOTION. This is about instant replays in sports, not plays you see at the theater.
  • 5d. [Alternative to a shake] of hands is a FIST BUMP, a.k.a. dap.
  • 29d. MRS. PEACOCK is a [Board game grande dame], in Clue.
  • 30d. If she PUTTS, she [Attempts to sink] a golf ball.
  • 58d. [Nelson's catchphrase on "The Simpsons"] is a mocking “HA HA!”

There’s a tie for least savory answer:

  • 31d. [Lady Liberty garb] clues STOLA. I had STOLE and wondered about it, and eventually realized the E had to be an A for ST. TERESA, your ["Relaciones Espirituales" writer]. Wikipedia explains that the STOLA is the Roman woman’s counterpart to the manly toga.
  • 6d. LAP DANCES are clued as [Bachelor party entertainment]. The OMELET and FRITTATA pass the breakfast test just fine but regrettably, 6d fails it.


Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Brando”—Janie’s review

Yesterday, you may recall, the CS puzzle was titled “Brand X”; today it’s “Brand O”—er—make that “Brando.” As in Marlon. I don’t know that it pays to figger out “Why Brando?” or “Why now?” (He was born on 4/3/24 and died 7/1/04, so there’s no particular milestone I’m aware of…) The literally and figuratively larger-than-life actor was celebrated for his appearances on both stage and screen. Patrick’s puzzle gives direct shout-outs (shouts-out?) to four of Brando’s films—including the great, the near-great, the “Really?” and the “Omg-how-did-that-happen?” examples. I leave it to you to ascribe any ratings…

  • 17A. & 58A. [...1996 Brando film, with "the"] ISLAND OF / DR. MOREAU. The beauty of these entries is construction-related. The former sits over (the latter under) more theme fill, with a 5-square overlap. Good goin’!
  • 20A. [1955 Brando film] GUYS AND DOLLS. Must’ve seen this six or seven times as a kid. Couldn’t sit through it as an adult… The stage play and score are heaven. See the show!!!
  • 38A. [1954 Brando film] ON THE WATERFRONT. As the man who took home the Oscar that year for “Best Actor in a Leading Role,” Brando was more than a “contender.”
  • 51A. [1953 Brando film] JULIUS CAESAR. He was Mark Antony. We lent him our ears.

Three bonus entries round things out: first ACT [Play a role], which is something Brando did many, many times; then HARRISON [Ford who returned to Indiana three times], as the portrayer of Indiana Jones (and cabinet maker to Francis Ford Coppola…), who appeared with Brando in Apocalypse Now; and finally (thank-you-very-much because this film remains a fave), there’s ["]ALL [my sons" (line from "The Godfather")]. Of course All My Sons is also a play by Arthur Miller, but I do like the way Patrick’s used the phrase to build on the Brando tribute. (You can find the quote in context here. Use the “Find” function under “Edit” to get right to it.)

Speaking of Ford (Harrison and Godfather director Francis ___ Coppola), we also get the [Former Ford minivan], AEROSTAR. (Groan…)

So much else in this puzzle that I enjoyed. Like:

  • the side-by-side “I’M OKAY” and “ NO-NO-NO,” [Words of reassurance] and [Words of refusal].
  • the crossing of EVE and EDEN ([She raised Cain] and [Original home of 40-Down]). ADAM, who shared that original home and did some Cain-raising himself, is in the puzzle as well, but today he’s clued as [Sandler of "Big Daddy"].
  • the little language lesson by way of AMO [Common Latin verb] (meaning “to love”) and its root appearance in ENAMOR [Bewitch].
  • the [Lean] and [Mean] cluing (yielding the more benign MEAGER and DENOTE).
  • the statistical [Figures in tables] and [Midway fig.] for DATA and ETA (Midway being Chicago’s “other” airport…).

And yes, there were several things that JARRED the solve some and made me go “hmmmm.” Such as the single [Smacker] for CLAM. Don’t we usually use this slang in the plural? Or the SODDY/[Like freshly laid lawn] combo. That usage sounds forced/dated to my ear. Ditto the concept of ORAL being clued as [Like slander], which (when not written) I think of as “verbal.” Or [Pause button, perh.] to clue ESC. Maybe I’m simply not remembering seeing the word “perhaps” abbreviated, but somehow it stood out today…. But in light of the great grid (I failed to mention triple 6-columns E and W, and the triple 6-stacks NE and SW) and all the other strengths of this puzzle, this one has far more to recommend it than not, which is a definite ASSET [Plus]!

Robert Wolfe’s Los Angeles Times crossword

Region capture 6Wolfe’s SHTICK is to anchor a themeless grid with several long colloquial phrases, the sorts of things people say in conversation. I like today’s first two better than the third; 52a: “WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?” has an awkward clue, ["And afterward?"]. I HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE (17a. ["Beats me"])and “ON SECOND THOUGHT…” (36a. [Reservation opening]) are great, though.

Elsewhere, there are 67 other answers and clues. Here are some:

  • 9a. [Bantam] means small, and so does PETITE, but there is some gendering to these words and they don’t quite match up. Call a bantamweight male boxer “petite” and you might get punched.
  • 15a. KATARINA is/was the [Consort of Gustav I]. Figure skater Katarina Witt is far more familiar to Americans.
  • 39a. A pole [Vaulter's target] is the CROSSBAR.
  • 50a. [Big fan] clues FIEND, as in Diary of a Crossword Fiend. “Diary of a Big Crossword Fan” just didn’t have the same ring to it.
  • 56a. [Explosive solvent, as it was formerly called] clues TOLUOL. I’m guessing this has to do with trinitrotoluene, or TNT. Or maybe it’s a chemical cousin.
  • 57a. Great clue for BACTERIA: [Some tiny rods and spheres].
  • 59a. Nautical terminology, meh. A STAYSAIL is a [Versatile auxiliary wind-catcher].
  • 4d. ["Star Trek" character __ Chekov] is named PAVEL? Why isn’t that ringing a bell?
  • 6d. A less noxious pig [Pen emission] is an OINK.
  • 9d. [Fake it] clues PUT ON A SHOW. Speaking of putting on a show, have you seen the viral wedding video that begins with bride Vanessa’s father taking the microphone? It’s adorable.
  • 22d. ["The Spirit" comics writer Will] EISNER is making inroads in crosswords as ex-Disney honcho Michael Eisner fades in relevance. Though there were recent rumors that Michael E. was going to take the top job at the Chicago Tribune.
  • 23d. This is my favorite entry today: A GOOD CRY is an [Emotionally therapeutic episode].
  • 25d. TO SMOOTH-TALK someone is to [Convince using flattery].
  • 28d. [Swing time?] is the BIG BAND ERA.
  • 49d. [Small tool case] for sewing is an ETUI. I just learned from the dictionary that the word tweezers is a long form of the old word tweeze, meaning “case of surgical instruments,” which was a shortening of etweese, plural of etui. Whoa! Did you know this? My mind is blown.
  • 51d. [Tambo Colorado builder] is an unfamiliar clue for INCA. Tambo Colorado is an ancient adobe complex on Peru’s coast.
  • 55d. [Chess champion who succeeded Botvinnik] is TAL. I don’t know how notable Tal is in chess circles. Does he get an unfair share of crossword attention just because his name is 3 letters long?

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Brad built his puzzle around three long phrases that contain a Q:

  • 20a. A figure skating [Rink coup] is a QUADRUPLE JUMP. Don’t try this on the hockey rink. Somebody will get hurt.
  • 34a. Emily [Post code] is PROPER ETIQUETTE. “Post codes” are postal codes in non-U.S., non–ZIP code countries.
  • 52a. CREDIT SQUEEZE is an [Inflation-curbing measure].

Names I did or did not know:

  • 5a. [Big name in warehouses] is SAM’S, as in Sam’s Club warehouse stores. Knew it.
  • 17a. [Pixar protagonist] is the young fish NEMO. Knew it.
  • 63a. [Big name in TV talk] is TYRA Banks. Knew it.
  • 1d. [Shakespearean apparition] is BANQUO‘s ghost. Knew it, thanks to another crossword reminding me the other day.
  • 3d. [Baroque composer Albinoni] is named TOMASO. Didn’t know it.
  • 10d. [Marvin's Motown singing partner] is TAMMI Terrell. Knew it.
  • 25d. [Costumer for the 1925 version of "Ben-Hur"] is ERTE. Know the name; sure didn’t know it was the answer to this clue.
  • 38d. [Friend of Ishmael] is Moby-Dick‘s QUEEQUEG. Knew it and love the name, though it kinda sounds like a goofy George Lucas Star Wars name.
  • 54d. [Nun in an Eastwood film] is SARA. Didn’t know it.

A few other clues:

  • 23a. [Gangster-film ultimatum ender] is CAPISCE. “Understand?”
  • 27a. [Suspension of sensibility] is a STUPOR.
  • 30a. [It may come with a collar] is a rip-off. You try to be tricky and the payoff is a boring OAR? Boo!
  • 50a. An EARWIG is not only a [Strawberry-patch bane] but a bane whenever one reveals itself to me.
  • 55a. Is this [Common French fare] really that common? FOIE DE VEAU is calf’s liver. Moo?
  • 57a. ["O Du, ___ holder Abendstern" (Wagner aria)] is missing its MEIN. “Oh you, my strong evening star”?
  • 59a. [River that Sherlock Holmes fell into] is Switzerland’s AARE. What was Holmes doing over there?
  • 61a. [Cook carrots, perhaps] clues CANDY. Candied yams feel more commonplace than candied carrots, though I am firmly in favor of broader candying.
  • 24d. CANT is [Secret lingo]. You tried CODE first too, didn’t you?
  • 28d. [Cult following] is a too-clever clue for the suffix -URE. I don’t think junky little bits of fill are worthy of misleading clues.
  • 33d. ["The sun has left the __": Scott] clues LEA.
  • 45d. ["Arabian Nights" official] is a VIZIER. Cool word.
  • 46d. [Paper presented at a conference] or passed around the table at a staff meeting is an AGENDA.

Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Crowd Control”

“Out of many, one.” That’s the English translation of the U.S. motto, “e pluribus unum.” Out of the many (well, three) letters crowded into each multi-letter box, we extract one in order to form a more perfect union with the two letters left behind. The remaining letter duos are MA, NY, DE, CT, NC, SC, NH, VA, NJ, RI, MD, and PA—the current postal abbreviations for the states that were the original 13 colonies. The deleted letters drop down to spell out E PLURIBUS UNUM. How elegant is that? So very!

Now, this grid is filled with more short answers than most Berry variety puzzles, so the fill isn’t quite as wow-inducing as his usual stuff. But it’s harder to make all those three-letter chunks cross (and contain very specific letters) without using the shorter words, so there you have it.

My answer grid:

ADAGE ROTC SPAM
MO[DEL]ED O[BSC]URE [RIN]GO
BEER[GAR]DEN EATEN
LORE RENE [VAS]TEST
EXE[CUT]IVES SUDSY
DECADES [UNH]EROIC
INON METAL TUNA
ETUDE PETAL TA[MPA]
BOP PR[INC]ES RESIN
A[NYP]LACE  RADIATE
SEE SING CO[NJU]GAL
[EMA]NATES TERRELL
NAPE SEED BER[MUD]A
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14 Responses to Saturday, 9/18/10

  1. ktd says:

    BAD ROMANCE is a good 10-letter Lady Gaga song, but guess how many 9-letter songs I tried before getting it? POKER FACE, TELEPHONE, ALEJANDRO…haha, I sense a puzzle theme.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Oh dear, ktd, please don’t… it wouldn’t be fair to those who can barely stand one such answer! I thought it was a no-no having 55D OLDE and 39D GET OLDER, too similar, but the rest was okay after I gave up Chess Queen for MRS PEACOCK. Really liked the AUTOHARP. Thanks, Natan…

  3. Gareth says:

    Like yesterday, puzzle started off fast – this one only killed me in the top-right (and a bit of the top-left) – own stupidity though – had SWELLDEAL that masked FISTBUMP and CAREEN; guessed TORAS for some reason which made SPICEGIRLS and FLAVORFLAV hard to see (the latter I know only as a name without any connotations attached to it except “rapper” though) oh and OCT that became MPG (huh?) and PESO instead of LIRA (groan!)

    Over on Wordplay Zoe Wheeler (I think) said she was a BADROMANCE fan… now it appears in this puzzle – some weird cult going on in Brown? Definitely a vibrant fun-packed NYT Saturday though!

    Also: would like to suggest STOLA/PTL is a tough crossing too! And, am wondering: did PELEG have a PEGLEG?

  4. ktd says:

    @Artlvr: You’re probably right that a Gaga-themed puzzle wouldn’t make it with a general audience, but fortunately I know plenty of 25 to 29-year old puzzlers who would probably get a lot of fun out of such a puzzle. Isn’t this part of what we celebrate on this site and others: the expansive demographic and cultural range of modern crosswords?

    @Gareth: yes, kids at Brown probably discuss Lady Gaga, but so would kids at every major college in America at this point. Plus, it’s actually a catchy song (I have been made to listen to it many times over on long car rides with my younger sister and close female friends)

  5. Jan (danjan) says:

    I got stuck on the ST TERESA/STOLA crossing at the A – I had St Terese/stole, which could also be right, and it took me several minutes to see why I was getting the “solved puzzle is incorrect” message.

  6. Meem says:

    Suspected all week that I would be bamboozled by Natan’s Brown week finale. But had a fairly direct solve. Needed many crosses for 5A. I, too, had a write over at stole/stola. Was not fond of lap dances at my breakfast table. Congratulations again to all of this week’s constructors. “Brando” was a quick solve as I knew all the movies. Now on to WSJ.

  7. anon says:

    TAL is uber-famous in chess circles. Everybody knows him.

  8. Terry D says:

    Being a “Star Trek” fiend, Pavel Chekov was one of the few I knew right away.

  9. joon says:

    not a fan of STOLA, but everything else about natan’s puzzle was good or great. i’m not gaga for BAD ROMANCE as a song, but it’s terrific as crossword fill. same for I AM AMERICA. FLAVOR FLAV, meanwhile, is just awesome. my ex-bridge partner lives near him in vegas and bowls at flav’s favorite alley. i wonder if the huge clocks interfere with his bowling. seems like they probably should, no?

    i knew holmes fell at reichenbach falls, and i was dimly aware that it was somewhere in switzerland, but somehow i never made the AARE connection. one of the things i love about brad’s puzzles is that his trivia clues are so good. the fill tends to be pretty great, too. i did not try CODE before CANT because i still remember CANT burning me on lee glickstein’s 4/1/10 NYT.

    patrick’s WSJ was unbelievably elegant. why run it on september 18, though? seems like a july 4 puzzle if there ever was one.

  10. Gene says:

    In the Newsday puzzle, the answer to “Cockeyed” is “ALOP”. I can’t find a definition or acronym that fits. Any help?

  11. John Haber says:

    I wasn’t a STOLA fan either. I had ST TERESA, but then given the likelihood of STOLE for an item of clothing, i couldn’t help wondering if they just didn’t need a spelling of the saint from another language. In French it’d end with E (though I suppose it’d then be Ste. Therese). Otherwise, although I couldn’t remember MRS PEACOCK without crossings, it wasn’t hard for a Saturday. Pretty decent as well.

  12. Jan says:

    In the CS, why does COLLECTED mean MET (35D)? I’ve just looked at all the dictionary definitions and still can’t understand this one.

  13. joon says:

    my dictionary’s definition 1c for collect:

    - [intrans.] come together and form a group or mass : worshipers collected together in a stadium

  14. Jan says:

    Thanks – that makes sense, but then shouldn’t the clue have been a little more precise: COLLECTED IN A STADIUM? It seems a little too obscure the way it is now.

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