Friday, 6/10/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/09" plug="friday-61011" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]4:23[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/09" plug="friday-61011" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]8:00 (Neville)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/09" plug="friday-61011" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]untimed (Sam)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/06/09" plug="friday-61011" puzz="WSJ" anchor="ws"]9:40[/time_hdr]

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword

NYTimes crossword solution, 6 10 11 0610

Mighty smooth for a 66-word puzzle—of course it is, because that’s how Berry rolls. Demanding grid with zero questionable fill and only two 3-letter answers.

There may be more proper nouns than usual for a Berry themeless. PEPYS, DARIN, CHET, DAVIS, SAN ANGELO, IVAN, JOSIE, ELLEN, TEXAS, MARIE, CARTHAGE, THEBAN, ALDA, NELL, TROY? That’s 15. They’re not obscure and the only one that may be challenging to spell has been famous for over 300 years.

Question for pannonica and the other sciency readers: Is it kosher to clue the TENT CATERPILLAR as a [Tree-defoliating insect]? Is it not strictly a larva until metamorphosis gives it the six legs of an insect?

Favorite bits:

  • The stacking and interlock of long answers in the northwest and southeast quadrants. The stacked pairs of 15s bundled with 8- and 9-letter answers haven’t yielded a bunch of ugly 4s. (My least favorite answer here is ROTA, this time clued as [Membership list]. Not sure which clubs use the term these days.)
  • Answers with attitude: SPITBALL, HAVE IT OUT, TANTRUMS, EJECTS. These could all go together at a baseball game.
  • 21a. Rose hips are the little crabapply fruits of the rose, so a ROSE is [One with big hips, maybe]. This isn’t about Pete Rose or Rose McGowan.
  • 51a. I’m no fan of the Confederacy, but I like the [Mid 19th-century president] mislead. Not GRANT or HAYES of the U.S.A. but Jefferson DAVIS of the C.S.A.
  • 4d. Cute: A TENTACLE is an [Arm of the sea?].
  • 37d. [Where one may take the plunge?] is the DEEP END. Not the matrimonial plunge. Think instead of the Nestea plunge.
  • 44d. Interesting quote clue. FEAR is ["That little darkroom where negatives are developed," per Michael Pritchard]. Who is Pritchard? Oh, dear. A motivational speaker.

Not a ton of super-zippy stuff here, just the absence of junk, an ambitious grid, and a nice quartet of 15s. Would have been more fun if the clues were tougher, but hey, it falls in line with standard Friday NYT difficulty. Four stars.

Marti Duguay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review

LA Times crossword answers, 6 10 11

Let me tell you an old story about this puzzle:

  • 20a. [Mount Olympus and environs?] - MYTH UNIVERSE (Miss Universe)
  • 34a. [Thinking like Aesop?] - FABLE MINDED (feeble minded)
  • 40a. [One majoring in traditional knowledge?] - LORE STUDENT (law student)
  • 54a. [Quills for Chaucer?] - TALE FEATHERS (tail feathers)

I like pun puzzles, and this one worked for me, mostly. LORE for law is a bit too much of a stretch for me, and the direct homonym of TALE/tail isn’t quite consistent, but I like the rigid theme that Marti’s got going on here.

But my oh my, this puzzle was an ordeal. I hate to just BASH IN this puzzle, especially with cool entries like NEW-AGERSKI AREABEER KEG (my favorite!), WASABI and ISHTAR (which is admittedly trivia), but there’s a fine, FINE LINE between a puzzle you love and a waste of time. After gleaning the theme quickly, I think I should’ve stopped – some of the fill is just blech. These answers shouldn’t all be in the same puzzle:

  • C FLAT (Which as the clue admits is quite rare, unless you play in flats all the time)
  • OONA
  • AIOLI
  • A.D.A.S
  • NARA
  • K.O.S
  • A TO B
  • EERO
  • LEO I
  • SARG
  • KALB (Can you do FITB clues for parts of words now? Oi!)
  • RORYS
  • OTOES
  • INIT.S
  • LODI (???)
  • ERIE
  • TO A T
  • AERIE
  • O.D. ON
  • IS YET
  • NLER (The Worst!)

That’s over a quarter of this puzzle’s entries. Now, you may tolerate AERIE – it’s a real word, and alone it’s no big deal. But maybe you don’t like ADJ. or LOO. Be honest – do you find this acceptable? I kind of wish there had been a note that said, “This puzzle has a darn good theme, but you might not like the rest of it.”

Word of the day: ABZUG. Bella ABZUG was a member of the House of Representatives, representing both New York’s Fightin’ 19th and  Brawlin’ 20th. She was an avid supporter of the ERA, Zionism and Gay Rights, and an opponent of the Vietnam War. In her own words: “This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives!” Needless to say, Abzug was on Nixon’s List. (You know the one.)

Updated Friday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “You Should Join the Y!” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Aloha, everyone.  Yes, I’m blogging from Hawaii.  Yes, I’m the only person within sight that has a laptop on the beach and cursing the slow Wi-Fi.  And yes, my priorities need realignment.  I’m here for a business conference (seriously!) through Saturday, then it’s back to the mainland for my school’s commencement ceremony.

But you don’t care about that–you want to chat about another terrific Bob Klahn offering.  I’ve solved enough Klahn puzzles to know that the highlights are always in the clues, and such was the case here.  The theme of this crossword is good, don’t get me wrong, but you solve a Klahn for its clues, so let’s change up the usual template.  We’ll get to the theme entries later, but let’s start with some of the most memorable clues:

  • GLEE nowadays is nearly always clued with reference to the wonderful Fox TV show, but I like the Christmas-in-June clue here, [You might shout out with it, if you're a reindeer].
  • A SCALE is a [Lie detector for a supposed loser?].  Despite the many times I have seen “loser” used as a misleading clue for a dieter, I still got stuck on this for a while, and the resulting “aha moment” was nice.
  • My favorite clue in the puzzle is [Pole star?] for STRIPPER, even though I have no idea whatsoever as to its meaning.
  • What makes a Klahn a Klahn is that even the most humdrum fill can get a complex clue.  I like [A word with you] for ARE.
  • [Trojan targets] had me thinking of all kinds of things, but none of them had three letters.  Under my newly-imposed Weiner Rule (no putting anything on the internet I wouldn’t want my mother to see were she still alive), I can’t share most of the possible answers I had in mind.  It’s enough to say I thought of condoms, USC, and the Trojan horse before tumbling to the Trojan computer virus–the answer is PCS (personal computers).

Oh yeah, the theme.  Klahn adds a Y to the start of five common terms, and four of the five resulting entries are terrific:

  • 17-Across: Ever wonder [What to expect from a "Hee Haw" calendar?]  It would be a YEAR OF CORN. Not to mention a year of Roy Clark songs, Minnie Pearl jokes, and pictures of cute girls in haystacks.  Sa-lute!
  • 24-Across: Wanna know [Where to learn about the dark side?]  You have to enroll in YIN SCHOOL.  This was the iffiest theme entry, in my view.
  • 39-Across: On the heels of the iffiest theme entry comes my favorite one.  One way to describe a [Wish list?] is to call it a YEARNINGS REPORT. That’s gold, Jerry.  Gold!
  • 48-Across: The [Location of the White House bakery?] is the YEAST ROOM.  Ask White House tour guides for a tour of the Yeast Room and you’ll get a rise out of them.  (Look, the sun is getting to me.)
  • 62-Across: No “add a Y” theme would be complete without everyone’s favorite term for a safecracker.  Sure enough, the [Mind of a safecracker?] is a YEGG NOODLE.  A cannibalistic chef prefers his or her safecracker in the form of yegg noodle soup.

Finally, I did not know that LEMUEL was Gulliver’s first name.  My first name shares four of the six letters, in order, but I think if my first name was Lemuel I would go by my last name only, too.  Like Lemuel Bono.

Mahalo for reading; see you tomorrow.

Patrick Blindauer and Steve Salitan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mixed Company”

WSJ crossword solution, 6 10 11 "Mixed Company"

It took me a long time to see what the theme was doing—anagramming one word of each corporate name. It wasn’t until the fourth theme answer that it became obvious to me.

  • 23a. [Even game in Alabama?] = MONTGOMERY DRAW (Ward).
  • 36a. [Completely eschew the nanotechnology trend?] = ENLARGE MOTORS (General).
  • 45a. [Troubles with transcript transfers?] = CREDIT ISSUES (Suisse). Given that credit issuer is an actual thing, this one didn’t scream “anagram theme.”
  • 58a. [Member of the royalty with a secret journal?] = DIARY QUEEN (Dairy). A-ha!
  • 68a. [What an auto club provides after a blowout?] = TIRE AID (Rite-Aid). This one’s shorter than some non-theme fill.
  • 78a. [Place where plumbers stay very busy?] = LAND O’ LEAKS (Lakes). The only three-word themer.
  • 91a. [Valerie's public persona?] = HARPER’S IMAGE (Sharper).
  • 97a. [Country fair awards for those soakin' up the sun?] = BASKIN’ RIBBONS (Robbins).
  • 112a. [Carrier whose passengers leave their shoes off?] = UNTIED AIRLINES (United).

Smooth grid with plenty of longer fill of note. In particular, PODCASTS, ICY STARE, SODAPOP, HORN IN ON, PREORDAINED, AU GRATIN, and TIM ALLEN stood out .

Patrick reports that their clues were toughened up and indeed, this puzzle took me about 20% longer than the typical Sunday NYT crossword.

Favorite clues:

  • 74d. [Jazz sound?] is the SHORT A in the word “jazz.”
  • 22a. [Culture known for breaking traditions?] is HIP-HOP, as in breakdancing.
  • 96a. OPTOMETRY is a [Field that tries to make you look better?] with a new pair of glasses.

Four stars.

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31 Responses to Friday, 6/10/11

  1. Jan (danjan) says:

    I spent a lot of time not getting much of a toehold (except of course for LEAVE IT TO BEAVER), but things finally started falling into place. Thanks to Patrick Berry for the challenge!

  2. Plot says:

    Caterpillars are indeed considered insects. An organism’s taxonomic classification is constant throughout its lifespan, so it can’t shift between ‘insect’ and ‘non-insect’. Caterpillars are insects in the larval stage. Also, caterpillars technically only have six legs; the additional appendages are called “prolegs” and they have different physical makeup and are not as movable as the ‘regular’ legs. It may be a bit semantic, but the clue is kosher (though the caterpillar itself is not :) )

    Alas, my knowledge of caterpillars is a bit undercut by the fact that I misspelled it in the puzzle, making many of the crossings ungettable at first. Once I fixed it, it was classic Berry: Pleasantly smooth with juicy fill throughout.

  3. joon says:

    always good to have an entomologist in the house for these burning questions, no?

    like jan, i struggled to gain traction, perhaps because i was moving from clue to clue a bit too fast. i can’t remember the last time i had to wander all the way to the SE corner of a puzzle to start putting some answers together, but today it was CARTHAGE/DEEP END/THEBAN/CLONE that broke it for me. ultimately it was a lovely puzzle and the clues are terrific, but that’s what we’ve all come to expect, right?

  4. Pomeranian says:

    this one is ridiculous. it’s criminal to call this less than a 5.

  5. Matt says:

    Like Jan, it took me a while to get a foothold, but 43D ALDA gave me the 15 letter entries 43A and 50A, and it was smooth sailing after that.

  6. jpdavidson says:

    In the LA Times, wouldn’t 1A = DROP also be a perfectly acceptable answer for “Small amount”? Then 3D, “Some OKs”, becomes ON ITS, an ugly plural but certainly (I’m) ON IT is an in-the-language way of saying OK, with or without the I’m, and 4D becomes PASH IN, and PASH is a synonym for BASH (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pash), albeit an admittedly obscure one.

    I’d even argue that ONITS is better than INITS, which unless I’m missing something is just referring to the fact that the letters O and K are initials, in which case they should really have periods. In short, I really didn’t like this corner.

  7. sps says:

    Love, love, love Patrick Berry puzzles. Smooth and pleasingly aha-filled for me. Hated, hated, hated the LAT today. An anti-Berry experience.

  8. ArtLvr says:

    Oh dear, I thought you were a bit hard on Marti’s LAT puzzle… Delightful theme, with LORE for Law a laugh when I finally got it, and fill not that far off the mark for a Friday. Jazz venue for ESPN, NARA when the old capital you recall is Edo, and JENGA? Kudos are due here, IMHO, though following a near-perfect Berry creation is really tough! Patrick is practically poetic with the TENTACLE, TERRAPIN, TENT CATERPILLAR — leading to TANTRUMS if you wanted a Leaf-cutter for the insect — and not to mention the AFRICAN ELEPHANT, a BRER BEAVER and a CLONE in the natural world. Also a Flame Queen OPAL??? Then you shift gears into the ancient realms from THEBAN, TROY and CARTHAGE plus a PAGAN crossing PAGEANTS. And finally back to more recent history with DAVIS, TEXAS, the ORANGE FREE STATE and a Conseil d’ETAT, for pete’s sake, with sundry chroniclers from PEPYS and Poor Richard’s MAXIM to MARIE Tussaud’s gory waxworks! A Fab Feast.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @jpdavidson: You can’t pluralize a partial phrase! ONITS is terrible. INITS means you might initial something to signal your approval. I can’t think of a single instance in which I have used my initials to explicitly convey approval of something, but I think I’ve seen similar clues. (Side issue: DRIB is a horrible singular answer. “Dribs and drabs” is in the language but not a single “drib” or “drab” as a noun. I was hoping 1a would be DRIP, DROP, or DRAM.)

  10. kludge says:

    Had DROPS crossed with ONITS in the LA Times for a long while just like jpdavidson for exactly the same reasons.

    Yes, the Patrick Berry puzzle was sweet.

  11. Howard B says:

    That was a fun Times puzzle. I struggled with all of the names, but that is my shortcoming and not the puzzle’s. I need to study up once again on my ancient history, geography, and actors.
    I have enough time to solve the puzzle, but not enough to Sporcle effectively, I’m afraid :).

  12. Meem says:

    The NYT is a beautiful puzzle. The LAT not very. And Bob Klahn is the master of the wonderful clue. And how about Usain Bolt two days in a row? Yesterday, Bolt ran the fastest time in the world this season in the 200 meters.

  13. janie says:

    fwiw, INITS are regularly used to denote approval on car rental agreements (insurance waiver clauses, usually) and i’ve used ‘em on line when closing transactions at the tdf (theatre development fund) site.

    ;-)

  14. Margaret says:

    OK, I’m new to this, but aren’t the answers to Klahn’s clues for 29 down and 42 across, GYM and MET, respectively? Or did Klahn slay me yet again! He is the master of clues!

  15. Daniel Myers says:

    Nice pairings in Berry’s puzzle of 1.)DAVIS/BRER 2.) SHOT/AIMS—Well, I picked up on them anyway, without reading between the lines too much, I think. Lovely puzzle.

  16. Gareth says:

    NYTSuperlative grid, clues, the works! Was convinced was heading for Saturday+ time-wise then I filled 2/3 of the puzzle in 4 minutes! Having PINCENEZ for PAGEANTS fouled the bottom half of the puzzle up something awful! (Pannonica: I’m not sure I’d describe a TENTCATERPILLAR as juicy. Despite Mopani worms being a delicacy in parts of this country, I believe in a crowbar seperation between food and class Insecta)

    LAT: LORE and LAW are direct homonyms the way I speak. Agree the fill had more dreck than necessary.

  17. Oz says:

    Easiest NYT Friday puzzle I can remember. Guessed SPITBALL immediately and the rest was a breeze. PAGEANTS was the hardest to get, for me.

  18. Neville says:

    I loved PBerry’s NYT puzzle – a smooth solve with nothing questionable in it. I’ll echo that nothing in it was super lively, but I liked that there were solid entries all around instead. I kept thinking PINE TAR for 1A – glad I was on the right track, there! I thought the difficulty was quite right, too – I was never stumped – just forced to work in a different direction. Challenging – but not frustrating. (Amen!)

  19. pannonica says:

    Gareth: That was Plot who answered about the caterpillars, doing a similar but better job than I would have. And anyway I think he(?) was playfully describing a Berry as smooth and juicy, although some are festooned with external seeds or drupelets. Perhaps he was in a blue(berry) mood. Despite the apartness you proclaim, you might be interested to know about The Food Insects Newsletter.

    Margaret: That was the way my fill went too, and I’m pretty sure AcrossLite rewarded me with a you-solved-it! pop-up.

    For the record I too have never heard of or encountered a falafel with favas.

  20. Gareth says:

    Apologies pannonica and david, getting my zoologist commenter wires crossed!

  21. joon says:

    margaret: a GYM is a “room for improvement” in the sense that it’s literally a room you use in order to improve your health or fitness. (i loved that clue.) and MET is synonymous with {Complied with} in the sense of having met requirements or criteria. one more thing—you’re doing the right thing by asking about these clues! klahn is the master of twisty cluing, and it takes quite a bit of practice to be able to contort your brain to understand them all. but it’s definitely worth the effort, especially if you’re relatively new to the game.

    i can shed some light on the FAVA/falafel confusion from yesterday. my original clue, which was also the clue in the newspaper and the NYT applet, was {Italian for “bean”}. while this clue isn’t exactly wrong, it’s not a great clue either, as the normal way to translate bean into italian would be fagiolo. martin herbach caught it at the last minute and suggested a replacement clue which was used in the .puz (but not the newspaper, PDF, or applet). according to martin, falafel is originally an egyptian dish, and egyptian falafel is made with FAVA beans. i did not know that, but i know approximately 0.1% as much about food as martin does, so … there you go. for martin’s own take on this clue, check out his comment on wordplay.

    neville’s LAT review is spot-on. i kind of wanted to like the puzzle because the theme was all right, but the fill was so irksome that i couldn’t. a 12/11/11/12 theme with no rare letters should not result in a grid this ugly.

  22. pannonica says:

    joon: Margaret was observing that the solution grid for the CS shows GYP and PET rather than GYM and MET.

    p.s. I, on the other hand, didn’t realize that falafelgate was yesterday.

  23. Sam Donaldson says:

    The version of the CS puzzle I solved (and posted) indeed had GYP and PET. GYP was clued [Shortchange] and PET was clued [Rub the right way]. Perhaps a late change was made to avoid any controversy over the use of the word GYP?

  24. joon says:

    oh, i totally missed that. well, i like GYM/MET a lot better, and if that GYM clue really is a last-minute replacement, then wow! color me impressed.

  25. John Haber says:

    I was really impressed today as perfectly judged for a Friday. Long entries, with the stacked 15′s, but so dense a grid as to have even deeper stacks. Some names but (as with the song in the last across) generally meant to be deduced from crossings rather than trivia, with the added pleasure of a clue for TRIVIA to separate the two endeavors. Very smooth.

    Challenging to start out, even with Dido’s home a gimme for me, but before long moderately slow and very steady, just about expected difficulty.

  26. Martin says:

    Saying a caterpillar is not an insect because it doesn’t have six legs is like saying men aren’t mammals because they don’t have mammary glands.

    Wait. Elaine does say we’re not human. Never mind.

  27. Martin says:

    BTW,

    Falafel is tastiest with two parts favas to one part chickpeas. There are recipes all over the internet using that ratio, and I posted one I’ve used on Wordplay yesterday. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And yes, Egyptian falafel is exclusively fava. What do the Egyptians know? They only invented it.

    Falafelgate. Sheesh.

  28. pannonica says:

    Next week…Muffulettapalooza!

  29. Boatster says:

    I **so** wanted the WSJ clue [Even game in Alabama?] to be CRIMSON TIED rather than MONTGOMERY DRAW. Kept trying to find cross words that fit — until I realized the twist was plays on **company** names.

  30. Garrett says:

    Like Joon I had a misspelling in caterpillar. I wrote in an LLER ending which made METE instead of META. I just thought the clue was horrible and the only detractor in the puzzle except for “Cloud maker” ABOMB crossing the M. But when I realized it was META I was happy with its clue. A very good puzzle save the “Cloud maker” clue.

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