Saturday, 10/15/11

Newsday 17:40 (3 Googles) 
NYT 5:49 
LAT 4:45 
CS 7:20 (Sam) 
WSJ (Saturday) untimed 

Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 10 15 11 1015

You know what this is? This is the sort of crossword that a seven-time Jeopardy! champion would make. It’s smart and accomplished and provides entertaining moments, and it does all this without any sponsorship from Aleve or lengthy commercial breaks. You can’t beat that.

Tons of crunchy fill. Crunchy like the crunchy style of CHEETOS, not the puffed variety. (Crunchy is better.) KNICK-KNACK meets KVETCH at the first K. There’s a VAMPIRE BAT that really sucks, and if it FEEDS ON you, it could turn you into DEAD MEAT. TSK, TSK, that would be a real shame. In the opposite corner from KNICK-KNACK, there’s its consonantal twin, KNOCK KNOCK (unexpected clue: [1940 cartoon in which Woody Woodpecker debuted]).

Joon also knows his history (as was demonstrated numerous times on Jeopardy!) and his geography. That’s where we get Leon CZOLGOSZ (and give yourself a prize if you put that answer in the grid with anything less than six crossing letters). I’ve seen the name, but sure couldn’t summon it up without a good six to eight crossings. ZANZIBAR is one of the best all-time place names, isn’t it? In 1964, mainland Tanganyika and island Zanzibar merged to create Tanzania (this is the precursor to such names as Bennifer and Brangelina). The southeast corner squeezes in two adjacent answers in the geography-meets-linguistics category, Afghan PASHTO and Mongolian-inclusive ALTAIC.

Oh, wait, I wasn’t done pointing out cool fill. There’s also UNCLE SAM and GOES NUTS up there in the northeast. And AMEN TO THAT near the bottom, too.

Not all the short fill is as tasty as Cheetos. THO, TSU, ESSEN, CALS, STK, GNARS, KTS, and STOAS are like puffed Cheetos sitting out in a chip bowl all day when it’s muggy. They’re soggy and unwanted, but at least they made the snack table look full for the party.

4.25 stars for this 70-worder.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Labyrinth”

WSJ Saturday Puzzle: Labyrinth solution, 10 15 11

This isn’t as easy a puzzle format as some of the other variety grids Mike makes, but it’s definitely easier than most of the Patrick Berry creations. In a Labyrinth, if you’ve got some letters filled in from the Across answers, you can ballpark-guess roughly where in the Winding list of clues they fall, which makes it a little easier to make headway.

There was only one answer that landed squarely in my “Huh?” zone.["Life With Father" author (2 wds.)]. Who is CLARENCE DAY? Apparently he wrote an autobiographical 1935 book about growing up in the 1890s, and it was turned into a long-running 1939 play, a 1947 movie, and a ’50s TV series. Everything else was pretty approachable, at least with some of the crossings in place from the intersecting answers.

Four stars.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 10 15 11

Like the NYT, this one’s a 70-worder so there’s enough wiggle room for lively fill. Overall this grid was pretty smooth, with not quite as much crunch as Joon’s puzzle. The highlights:

  • 1a. A WEATHER MAP is a [Nightly news graphic]. Who doesn’t love weather maps?
  • 17a. I’m not sure exactly what SMART DRUGS are, but I know the phrase makes for good crossword fill. The clue, [Memory aids], doesn’t explain much.
  • 20a. VOODOO is a [Practice with dolls], “practice” being a noun rather than a verb.
  • 35a. [Seller of torpedoes and bullets] confused me. I don’t get over to QUIZNO’S as much as the rest of my family. Sure, it’s only 2.5 blocks away, but there are five restaurants that are closer. No, six—plus a coffee shop.
  • 40a. UNCLE JED was played by Buddy Ebsen, and he’s our ["The Beverly Hillbillies" sobriquet].
  • 65a. TEENY-WEENY can stand alone. It needs no mention of itsy-bitsy, yellow, polka dot, or bikinis.
  • 37d. [Haughty, unemotional woman] is no fun. I like to picture a more magisterial cartoon ICE QUEEN
  • 12d. ["A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her" speaker] is, of course, W.C. FIELDS.

I don’t care for EX-MATE (2d. [Subject of an awkward meeting, perhaps]). Who says that?

I have never heard the term TERZETTO (14d. [Dvorák piece for two violins and viola]) before. Apparently it means “string trio,” plain and simple. The yucky TER (4d. [Rx instruction]) is essentially a duplication, as the Latin and Italian ter- bits are all about the number 3.

Speaking of duplications, I was mildly put off by the three ITs in “IT IS?,” “I CAN DO IT,” and “NAILED IT!”

3.75 stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “One to Grow On” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, October 15

It’s add-a-letter time, as the clues to the theme entries start with the three-letter word ICE and eventually turn into the six-letter word MALICE through the addition of a new starting letter at each step:

  • 17-Across: [ICE] is a FREEZER CUBE.
  • 29-Across: [LICE] is the term for LITTLE PARASITES.
  • 47-Across: [ALICE] was the WONDERLAND GUEST.
  • 63-Across: [MALICE] is a shorter term for HATEFULNESS.

If this theme seems IFFY (clued here as [Up in the air], which is where I am as I type this), keep in mind that it’s pretty cool to see symmetrical theme answers that don’t feel forced. I also like the paired eight-letter Down in each corner. The STEELERS are the team that the Seattle Seahawks fan base HISSES AT, so that’s a very apt pairing. I can’t think of a similar connection for MARITIME and PRE-NATAL, but you’re welcome to add one in the comments. NEWFIE, the [Water rescue dog, for short], is pretty cool short fill, and I also liked SNAP AT, PACE CAR, and PHAT, even though the latter is so 2002 (maybe earlier?).

Other random items of note: (1) Just a couple of days ago I wrote of my ongoing struggle with DHOW, so it was nice to see MASTS clued as [A dhow might have three]; (2) [Buzzer at the bar?] is a cute clue for ALE, and one would think just about every cute clue for ALE has been used by now; (3) I so wanted WAX as the [Stuff used for sealing the floor, perhaps] that I almost changed the crossing TERSE to make it work–fortunately I realized that TAR fit just nicely; and (4) my favorite clue was [Postpaid items?] for STAMPS.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 10 15 11 Wechsler "Saturday Stumper"

Well! This walloped me harder than any other regular crossword in the last two or three years. Is it just me, or is it unanimously a killer crossword? I Googled three things I just plain had no way of knowing (and which had tough clues for the crossings, which made it hard to make headway):

  • 8d. [Handel opera]. Turns out he wrote about 40 of them. This one is RINALDO. So close to my last name and yet I have never heard of it.
  • 10d. [Robinson poem title character]. Had to Google Robinson poem because I had no idea what poet named Robinson there was. Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Richard CORY.” Don’t know the poet, don’t know the poem.
  • 36a. [All-American Bowl sponsor]. So many bowls, so many corporate sponsors. Don’t recognize the bowl name at all. Google tells me it’s U.S. ARMY.

Other tough nuts to crack:

  • 15a. [Fruity beverages], plural with no S, EAUX DE VIE.
  • 17a. [Place to find 15 Across] is hard when you don’t have EAUX DE VIE and you’ve never, ever heard of a WINE STAND. Is that a stand for your bottles of wine, or more like a lemonade stand?
  • 29a. [Isn't a pro] means she’s one of the cons and thus DISSENTS.
  • 31a. TATTOO is clued as [Permanent marker]. I would argue the tattoo is a permanent marking, not marker.
  • 33a. [Booties], plural of booty, a pirate’s HAULS.
  • 38a. [Park of Reunification locale] made me think of Korea and Germany long before Vietnam and HANOI.
  • 48a. STALIN was a [1948 Peace Prize nominee]? Hah!
  • 51a. [Dam descriptor] is HER. A dam is a female animal. “Which ewe is that lamb’s dam?” “HER.” Meh.
  • 62a. [Delegation targets] are ASSIGNEES. What a dull word, packed with letters that make it easier to fill a corner.
  • 12d. [South African export] clues PLATINUM. I was hoping for ROOIBOS but that’s only got 7 letters.
  • 26d. Can someone explain exactly how DEARER means [Needing extra resources]? The “more beloved” route would have been much easier to get.
  • 28a. I was thinking any ['90s Nick at Nite staple] would be something like Cosby or Cheers, but apparently they came later to the channel. Never did watch F-TROOP.
  • 34d. Awkwardly phrased clue, no? Does a bang-up job of obscuring the path to the answer. FALLEN TO, as in “It has fallen to me to explain this answer,” is clued as [(Had) become the job of]. Can you think of a sleeker clue?
  • 40d. Bleh. SEA LOGS? [They're often kept in knots]. Didn’t know “sea log” was a thing.
  • 44d. MARINE is clued [For waters]. Inscrutable clue until I had a few crossings in place.

If this puzzle didn’t take you two or three times longer than the usual Stumper, my metaphorical hat is off to you.

3.5 stars.

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25 Responses to Saturday, 10/15/11

  1. The American history buff in me knew CZOLGOSZ and remembered how to spell it. The not-quite-A-level puzzle solver in me stared blankly at the NE corner for several minutes before a few educated guesses yielded MINISTER, then UNCLE SAM. Superb cluing and fill throughout.

  2. Howard B says:

    Vaguely remembered hearing CZOLGOSZ (pronounced “Shoal-gosh”? anyone?), but not where the S and those Z’s went.
    Unfortunately, in the top-left, I had never encountered (or at least remembered) the term ‘bibelot’, so that helped keep me stuck in that corner for much of my solve.

    Brutal, challenging, mind-bending, but completely worth it.

  3. Alex says:

    So … this is the puzzle that was delayed in favor of Kevin Der’s tribute crossword? EDIT: nope, must have been Friday’s.

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Alex: No, the bumped one was a Berry that will show up in early November.

  5. Dan F says:

    “Choal-gosh” I knew from Sondheim’s Assassins. Wonder if Will grabbed this one last week to capitalize on Joonamania… no complaints if so!

  6. joon says:

    nope, i got the email september 29 that it would be running today. and here’s neil patrick harris singing “the ballad of czolgosz”, probably the best song from assassins.

    amy, at my first taping day i had the, um, pleasure of sitting in the studio while johnny gilbert did what seemed like 100 consecutive takes of the aleve spot. every word of it will be seared into my brain for the rest of my life. and i guess that will be my defense if/when i go all clockwork orange one of these days.

  7. Gareth says:

    Took me more than ten minutes before I had anything concrete, and that was NIPAT crossed by PASHTu/ALTAIC/TSKTSK – thank you knowledge of Asian languages otherwise I might still be stuck! I think it was around the twenty-minute mark I got ZANZIBAR from the …AR, after being stuck trying to come up with Caribbean islands for far too long! And then that corner fell pretty quickly, although CZOLGOSZ needed lets see 8 crossings… but if you had “Verwoerd’s assassin” and 9 letters how would you do ;) 1A: I thought a bibelot was a drunkard, but clearly the word “bibulous” has me confused… Last corner was the top-right UNCLESAM’s clue was brilliantly inscrutable, and two one-word clues plus my dropping TZE for TSU (foolishness, Chinese names can be spelled a hundred ways, I know, I know!) translated to an impasse. Not sure how I couldn’t come up with STOAS though… Last letter was SAIL/LOG, but I had to go and change KNOCKKNuCK!! I think what Howard said pretty much sums up my feelings too…

  8. Evad says:

    Excellent workout–I got stuck having DEADBEAT and thinking BASIC could follow “It’s ___” I also tried to convince myself that “Whiz” could be SAID, and thought the Explorer in “Explorer’s need” was referring to Microsoft’s IE browser, which probably does require (MS) DOS. So much for feeling proud of myself!

  9. Tuning Spork says:

    Like Gareth, last letter in was at the SAIL/LOG crossing. I clicked “done” expecting to have to try again. Still don’t get the [Whiz]=SAIL clue.

    Other than that, a nice workout and a sparkly grid through and through.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Spork: “I whizzed through that puzzle”/”I sailed through that puzzle.”

  11. animalheart says:

    Evad, I went through EXACTLY the same thinking that you did. Great puzzle by Joon. It’s too bad he has no other talents…

  12. dgh says:

    very nice puzzle. excellent clue for SENIORITIS, which had me thinking of allergies.

  13. Zulema says:

    Evad and Gary, me too, exactly, but I had not liked DEADbEAT as an answer to “One who’s got no hope” and should have listened to my subconscious. But there was a famous horse named TOPSAIL WHIZ when I went looking later, so I’m happy Amy explained.

    The LAT was also a very solid puzzle.

  14. Jeffrey says:

    CZOLGOSZ only took one…google. SW was a big blank for me. I like joon pahk, but Joon Pahk is a force to be reckoned with.

  15. Tuning Spork says:

    “I whizzed through that puzzle”/”I sailed through that puzzle.”

    Hmm. Well maybe it’s just me, then, but I think of “whiz” to mean “with great speed” and “sail” to mean “with great ease”. Either one might fit in that sentence, but I don’t think they’re synonymous. You can whiz through a puzzle even though there may be a few hiccups, and you can sail through a puzzle at a more leisurely pace. No biggie.

  16. Jeff Chen says:

    Great NYT puzzle! I spluttered over CZOLK&W1@!L# before deciding that I liked it. Not him, it. Just to be clear.

    Jeff

  17. John Haber says:

    Really good puzzle. Interesting fill, with clever and tough cluing. The first and last across entries even gave a mini-theme, and indeed without seeing the pairing I might not have got the Woody Woodpecker trivia, and without that would never have finished up PASHTO and ALTAIC. (I’d heard variants of the first but not the second.) And nope, I couldn’t have spelled the assassin without all crossings. The last, meaning the first letter in ZEST, was my last to fall and indeed took me some time all to itself. (I wanted a scratch to kick up “dust.”)

    You don’t often see “You shouldn’t have” except in the sense of “Ahh, thanks,” but I do realize it’s literally appropriate. Of course, there was a ton else I didn’t know (LOPEZ, ELIN) and the density of depleted uranium is trivia not even a physics student like me knew. But fine.

  18. Anne says:

    Re – Saturday Stumper: “Dear” as in expensive so dearer “requires more resources” or money. Still it is awkward. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this puzzle particularly difficult.

  19. Jenni says:

    CZOLGOSZ was a gimme. Reminded me of the day in 11th grade social studies when we were starting a Soviet (as was) unit. The teacher said “By the end of this quarter, you’ll be able to spell SOLZHENITSYN”. I said “S-O-L-Z-H-E-N-I-T-S-Y-N. Can I leave now”? He said “yes” and I did. I went back the next day, though.

    Like Dave, I had to recover from DEADBEAT and BASIC. Really, really liked the KNICKKNACK/KNOCKKNOCK pair and SENIORITIS, which would not be relieved with Aleve. All in all, a very crispy puzzle for a crisp autumn day.

  20. ArtLvr says:

    Nearly evening now, but it made my day to finish joon’s puzzle, finally. I tried Tanzania before realizing I needed the precursor part, so that (gray) area was my last fill. Clues ranged from clever (CULL) to diabolic (Steely-gazed pointer, UNCLE SAM)! Congrats once more to joon the almost-invincible jeopardy champ… Best of luck in the the next round!

  21. klewge says:

    Amy, “Richard Cory” was also turned into a song by Paul Simon in the early days of Simon and Garfunkel. This song was covered on the album Wings Over America although it was sung by Denny Laine not Paul McCartney so you might have missed it:)

  22. pannonica says:

    klewge: You beat me to it! I was also going to mention Them’s snarlier cover.

    As for the NYT, I enjoyed the deliberately squirrely clues. Will just chip in that RUST was another almost for ZEST, scratching the surface.

  23. joon says:

    aw, thanks everybody. and just think, only 1000 more of these and i’ll be able to pay for my other kid to go to college, too.

  24. Tuning Spork says:

    That was Denny Laine singing “Richard Cory” on Wings Over America? Wow, he sure sounds a lot like Paul.

  25. Zulema says:

    Joon, that was a wonderful comment and a wonderful puzzle. And Czolgosz was also almost a gimme for me, except for the final Z. I should have said this in my original comment, 12 hours or so ago.

    I see it’s tomorrow already.

Comments are closed.