Saturday, 10/22/11

NYT 4:54 
Newsday 4:06 
LAT 3:32 
CS 5:34 (Sam) 

NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD CONTEST ALERT: The puzzle you want is not posted in Across Lite at the usual place. You can print the PDF, get the Across Lite file at xwordinfo.com (thanks to Jim Horne), or solve in the Java applet. I hear all is back to normal, as of 12:45 a.m. Eastern time. Carry on.

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—contest day 6, the end

NY Times crossword answers, 10 22 11 1022

All righty! At last, we have our contest instructions: “Find contest’s meta-answer by reading THE FIRST LETTERS of these clues. Solvers must FILL EVERY CIRCLE in the grids to determine the grids’ proper order.” The first letters of this puzzle’s clues spell out, “The corners of this week’s grids, read in order, spell a famous leader and his crossing words.” I don’t know what that means. I guess it’s time to start eyeballing the six grids!

Let’s not hash out our solving process in the comments, lest we spoil the “aha” moments for others. Mum’s the word!

Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 10 22 11

I’m wondering if this puzzle has been sitting around lost in the bottom of the accepted bin because Stella Daily Zawistowski got married, like, two or three years ago. Why, this puzzle might even have been constructed before Joe Krozel and Martin Ashwood-Smith used A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE so much in their stacks that it became a punch line.

The other 15s in the triple stacks don’t feel clunky or played out. We open with a SURPRISE PACKAGE (1a. [Unexpected delivery]), and who doesn’t like to receive one of those? Hemingway’s A FAREWELL TO ARMS is solid, though the clue didn’t give much away for me (16a. [War novel that became a Gary Cooper film]). CONIFEROUS TREES is a little dull (17a. [Cypress and others]). POLITICAL ASYLUM is great (64a. Dissident’s request]), and HOMELAND DEFENSE (68a. [Military priority]) is fine.

I’ve been compiling a list of crossword answers I’d rather not encounter (essentially a Scowl-o-Meter trigger list), and I added three words from this puzzle: 8d: ELON, the [Carolina university]; 55d: OPAH, the [Shimmering swimmer]; and 30d: NACRE, [Shiny shell lining]. One bonus point for including both OPAH and OPRAH in the same puzzle. (50a: NLER and ALER were already on the list.)

Three stars.

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really by Stan Newman)

Newsday crossword answers, 10 23 11 "Saturday Stumper" Lester Ruff

Stan does know how to make a clean grid. This themeless puzzle is filled mostly with plain language, and the clues are “less rough” (as the byline suggests) so it’s not as hard as the usual Stumper. No unfamiliar words, no arcane trivia to know.

Ten clues:

  • 17a. I didn’t know that BRAD PITT was the [Producer of Scorsese's Oscar film], but I certainly do recognize his name.
  • 20a. [Duty schedules] are TARIFFS. Taxes! Zzzzzzz.
  • 31a. A DIMPLE is a [Slight depression].
  • 38a. [Rooter's preference, usually] is the HOME TEAM. Great crossword answer.
  • 63a. If something is NO PICNIC, it’s [Arduous]. My favorite entry in this puzzle.
  • 1d. BOBBLED is clued with [Not handled cleanly].
  • 3d. [Hiram Walker contemporary] is SEAGRAM. I don’t know anything about anyone named Hiram Walker, but I do know it’s a liquor name.
  • 12d. A [Cruise fan] is a SEA-GOER. This may well be the clunkiest answer in the grid, but I’ve seen worse.
  • 30d. [Queen Elizabeth's Emma or Holly] is a dog breed known as the CORGI.
  • 41d. [Word from the Spanish for "stray beast"] clues MUSTANG. Didn’t know this etymology.

Four stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hurly-burly” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, October 22

I’m guessing most solvers are busy solving the Patrick Berry extravaganza (next time we should get a Patrick Berry fortnight!), so few will make it to this post. For the sake of completeness, though, we persevere. Today’s Randolph Ross puzzle features five common terms all starting with words synonymous with “hurl” (as in “toss,” not “vomit”). Ross kicks it up a notch by cluing the theme entries as though the subject is “hurling” the other word in the term:

  • 17-Across: “Pitchforks” become PITCH FORKS, clued as [Hurl some utensils?].
  • 27-Across: To [Hurl some wigs?] is to THROW RUGS.
  • 36-Across: To CHUCK STEAKS is one way to [Hurl some beef?]. Another is to eat a Taco Bell crunchy taco and wait about a half -hour.
  • 49-Across: Your everyday “passbooks” get converted to PASS BOOKS, how a quarterback might [Hurl some reading material?].
  • 60-Across: David’s stockpile of “slingshots” becomes SLING SHOTS, how one would [Hurl some bar orders?].

Cute theme, but I’m more enamored with the long Downs like VITAMIN C, the [Cold fighter], SHOP TALK ([Discussions about work]), and SKIP ROPE ([Participate in a game of Double Dutch]). There are several other 6- and 7-letter Down entries that really make the grid shine. So while the theme was nice, it’s the construction that makes this puzzle entertaining.

Let’s close the week with some random observations! (1) Anyone else try PERIOD for the [Sentence shortener] instead of PAROLE? I know, I know–my original answer was the result of over-reading and assuming the clue was trying to be too cute. (2) I like how [Experiencing angst] is right next to [Cause of angst] in the clues.  (The answers are ON EDGE and STRESS.) (3) Doesn’t COOLLY look like it has one too many Ls? (4) Six Ks in the grid, with four of them in theme entries. And yet the only section that felt a little forced was the AAAA atop RLS.

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17 Responses to Saturday, 10/22/11

  1. Jim Horne says:

    The NYT currently has the wrong Across Lite file. Use this link instead.

  2. Tuning Spork says:

    Oh, great. Everything’s so @#$%’d up that Jim Horne is called out of retirement to explain things.

    Does anybody run this place?

  3. joon says:

    yeah, i have to say i’m unimpressed at the technical snafus here. yesterday’s was perhaps understandable because of the non-.puz-friendly format, but today’s puzzle is “normal” and there seems to be no real reason for the additional mix-ups.

    in case anyone cares, the “wrong” .puz file today is david quarfoot’s puzzle of october 28, 2006. yup, that’s one day after the david bunker puzzle that was pulled from the vault to run yesterday. ugh. the DQ is actually a pretty sweet puzzle, but c’mon.

    on the bright side, i liked the meta.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Very cool puzzle. I don’t think anyone could have guessed where this was going before doing Saturday.

  5. Ellen says:

    Since the contest won’t be running in syndication, they asked for a substitute puzzle for Saturday for syndication only. Somehow it got loaded in the regular place.

  6. Aaron says:

    What a feat of construction!

  7. pauer says:

    Oh, c’mon: NACRE is a perfectly cromulent word. :)

    And I don’t know, Jeffrey: I think there are plenty of NPL/Mystery Hunt types who could’ve solved the meta without this puzzle. They could probably have done it with another puzzle or two missing, as well.

  8. Jeff Chen says:

    Kudos to Patrick Berry! Such a feat of meta-construction: quality M-Th themes, a clever Friday, minimal crud fill throughout the entire week, all with the meta in mind.

    I should just hang up my pencil now.

  9. melmoth says:

    best meta-puzzle of all time

  10. melmoth says:

    the guy strings together six four-star or better puzzles in a row, and embeds a brilliant meta in each, AND publishes one of the year’s best Fireball crosswords just to top it off

    Is Berry now the greatest constructor ever?

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Ok, for the first time ever, I appear to have fixed a computer problem. There was weird code at the bottom of the post that I deleted so the comments are now back. Everybody check your hard drives and refrigerators to ensure I didn’t delete anything.

  12. Howard B says:

    Nice, Jeffrey, No worries here, everything is fiueqqr08934zxn000000x00013449-errcode-0x3e04d14a-sdkfshkddxzqvpnt#&*$(#@.

  13. AV! says:

    Brilliance! (For the entire week!) Loved every puzzle, and the meta!

  14. klewge says:

    Like Sam, I had *PERIOD* instead of PAROLE in the CS and felt the same way when I wrote it in.

  15. Jamie says:

    Congratulations to Patrick Berry & Will S for a week that deserves to live in crossword history, until it is topped, as it surely will be – you top constructors are competitive, darn it!

    PB – absolute gems on Monday/Tuesday. Just standalone, they were worthy of five stars which I dole out maybe five times a year. I’m sure you care.

    To think what went into constructing this with a meta just boggles my tiny mind. A tour de force by a brilliant constructor and a joy to experience.

  16. John Haber says:

    As I look now, with Saturday in the “archive” pane, Saturday’s puz gives you the Berry I worked in print today. FWIW, it was awfully easy for a Saturday, so it will no doubt seem more special to those who saved the week’s puzzles and are eager to fit them together. I worked the puzzle as usual, doing something else away from home on the way to something else.

    The Friday Bunker eventually defeated me in the SW from too many proper names (a movie called “Mehmed”? a rapper, a newsman I don’t watch, the 1944 trivia) and a toddler clue that somehow didn’t make sense to me even with PANTS to start it off. NYC school had too many options, so I needed crossings.

  17. GaffneyFan says:

    I don’t do the Times — no subscription to the paper or the site. So I can’t make any comments as to how good those puzzles were this week. But based on the kudos they’ve received, I can only say …

    Geez, Matt, how soon we forget!

    Gaffney has put out some absolute gems in the last 2 months.

Comments are closed.