Saturday, 11/26/11

NYT 7:21 
LAT 4:26 
CS 6:17 (Sam) 
Newsday untimed 
WSJ (Saturday) tba

Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 11 26 11 1126

This puzzle’s a bit nutty in that it’s got three answers that I’ve just plain never seen before, and I could scarcely believe they were right despite what the crossing answers suggested:

  • 28a. OOFY? [Rich, in slang]? Cursory Googling suggests this is British or Wodehouse-influence. Have you ever seen this word before?
  • 29a. There’s a Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club in my neighborhood, and that and the Kit Kat candy bar with two K’s just look so much righter than KIT-CAT CLUB. That’s an [18th-century London political/literary establishment].
  • 27d. KLABERJASS?? A [Trick-taking game]? I read a little about the card game here. In a 1990 klaberjass tournament, the players’ registration money “was used to buy various large hams and sausages for prizes for the winners.” Are you listening, Will Shortz? The ACPT could be a total sausagefest!

I can’t say I knew that CLAM BROTH existed, really, nor that there’s an EVIE Wilcox in Howards End, but at least their spellings were familiar.

Favorite answers in this 66-worder include three full names: LANCE ITO and HERB ALPERT (a classic album cover with the whipped cream outfit! Did my dad have that album when I was little?) and AL UNSER. BAD LOSER, HANG LOOSE, and “BE THERE!” are fun. The book ANIMAL FARM, a classic.

I like the clue for 18a: RESINS, [Two of the three gifts of the Magi], because this afternoon I wrote a similar RESIN: [Frankincense and myrrh, but not gold].

Not wild about a bunch of the short fill (-ICS, ETDS, ESSE, SRS, ANA) but it wasn’t getting in the way of solving the long stuff, nor was it making me frown. (That was OOFY and KLABERJASS’s job, to so perplex me that I was honestly surprised that my first submission was correct.)

3.5 stars.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 11/26/11

Solid themeless puzzle with a lots of decent fill (though not much in the “wow!” category) and only a couple answers in the “bleh” family.

Trivia quiz!

  • 32a. [Chubby Checker's real first name] is ERNEST. I dunno, I would’ve stuck with Ernest if I were him.
  • 38a. [Its motto is Latin for "Always prepared": Abbr.] clues the USCG, or Coast Guard. I wonder how many Boy Scouts gravitate toward the Coast Guard.
  • 61a. [Five-time 1970s Phillies All-Star shortstop] is BOWA. Bleh. Sure, Barry’s a Phillies fan. But I’m not! And I paid zero attention to baseball when I was growing up; that’s how my dad raised me.
  • 65a. [Singer/actress discovered by Mahalia Jackson] is DELLA REESE. Nice piece of trivia.
  • 1d. [Joe Lieberman's middle name] is ISADORE. Wasn’t sure if it was spelled that way or as ISIDORE.
  • 2d. “C.C. RIDER” is a [1957 Chuck Willis hit]. I kinda think I don’t know this song.
  • 6d. [Roxy Music alum] clues BRYAN FERRY, except that he doesn’t fit into three boxes so it’s his bandmate Brian ENO.

Top three answers:

  • 15a. [Online identification] is a SCREEN NAME. I used to go by Orange.
  • 10d. RETINAL SCAN is a [Biometric identification technique]. Never tried that out. I hear cellphones might be heading that way but what if you’re trying to be incognito in dark sunglasses?
  • 24d. I haven’t seen HOTEL RWANDA, the [2004 historical film set in Africa]. I love that the movie’s star, Don Cheadle, appeared in another “Hotel” movie five years later, the family film Hotel for Dogs. It’d be a shame to put the wrong one in your Netflix queue.

Question for solvers, spurred by 12d: RAMADAN ([Fast time for many])—do you know about Eid, the Muslim holiday/feast that marks the end of the month of Ramadan? There was a big to-do on the Cruciverb-L mailing list about whether Americans generally do know (or should know) what Eid is. There are two Eid festivals on the calendar, and a U.S. postage stamp (available in 44¢ and “forever” denominations) for both holidays.

3.5 stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “What Are the Odds?” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, November 26

Here’s a nice number-progression theme from Patrick Blindauer. The five theme entries each contain an odd number, and they’re presented in order from top to bottom:

  • 17-Across: ONE-LINERS are [Jokes like Henny Youngman's]. I heard a great one the other day from Groucho Marx: “I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”
  • 24-Across: THE THREE STOOGES are the [Stars of "Have Rocket, Will Travel"]. Is this where I confess that I’ve never really liked the Stooges? No, I don’t think it’s time to go public with that just yet.
  • 37-Across: GIMME FIVE! Those might be [Words from the slap-happy?]. (Nice clue!)
  • 55-Across: THE SEVEN SAMURAI is the [Kurosawa classic]. Like Kurosawa, I make mad films. Okay, I don’t make films. But if I did, they’d have Samurai.
  • 64-Across: NINE LIVES are [What cats supposedly have]. Do not test this hypothesis with your own cat.

You know the theme is well executed when it feels that no corners were cut in the construction. The expressions feel natural and the surrounding fill has pings only the most sensitive and hyper-critical Scowl-O-Meter. And yet the numbers appear in order, there’s 57 theme squares, and there’s two triple-7s in the corners. Toss in goodies like PUNCH IN, ON TV, SMELLY, and SEWN UP, and you have a great all-around puzzle.

Stuff that would ping overly-sensitive Scowl-O-Meters? AER, THU, SCI, IWO, and DVI, none of which detracted at all from my solving. What got me were some of the traps deliberately set for me to spring. I had PROCEED instead of PUNCH IN for [Begin work, perhaps], and the crossing [Bronze, e.g.] was supposed to be ORE, not HUE. Oops. EMIGREE looked like the right answer for [Ellis Island arrival, once], but it turned out to be REFUGEE. And it didn’t help that I went all scatological when I saw the clue [No. twos]. That was just the innocent V.P.S, as in Vice-Presidents.

Lars G. Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 11 26 11 "Saturday Stumper"

It took Doug Peterson hinting at his involvement for me to figure out the anagrammed byline. The letters in really appear in “Lars G. Doubleday,” but that turned out to be a dead end (Sally R. Stein = “it’s really S.N.,” Lila Cherry = “really Rich” Norris). Doug and Brad Wilber, both regular Stumper…ers on their own, have teamed up to make this puzzle, but I guess Newsday can’t accommodate a two-person byline beyond a certain length, so Lars G. Doubleday (anagram of Douglas + Bradley) was born. This circumvents the problem of who comes first in “Douglas Bradley” or “Bradley Douglas,” which are plausible names.

I liked this puzzle a lot, which isn’t surprising considering that I’m a fan of both constructors’ solo work. Highlights:

  • 15a. Trivia! ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, is a [World capital built in the 1960s]. Didn’t know that.
  • 17a. Did everyone in my generation read this creepy Gothic *SPOILER ALERT* sibling-incest series? V.C. ANDREWS is the ["Flowers in the Attic" novelist].
  • 31a. Great entry! The GOOGLE DOODLE is a [Globally viewed birthday tribute, often]. On Thursday, the U.S. got an interactive turkey doodle, while other countries had a tribute to writer Stanislaw Lem, author of sci-fi classic Solaris—an interactive 5-minute cartoon.
  • 38a. Pretty sure anyone without those crossings in place filled in BEAN BAG CHAIR for the [Furniture fad of the '70s], right? I had a PAPASAN CHAIR from Pier One, but I didn’t get it until well into the ’80s.
  • 57a, 62a. Same clue pulls double duty: [Someone following a beat may display it] gets you to both a DANCE STEP and a PRESS PASS. And here I wanted BILLY CLUB, for a cop on the beat.
  • 13d. I was tickled by this one because I had the last letters in place before I read the clue. ***IEELS? MINI-EELS? And then it was ERNIE ELS, who is no eel.

Clue that confused me the longest: 39d: [Flamboyant boarder] for CORSAIR. That’s a pirate ship, or a pirate who might board a ship to take it captive. Apparently they were loud dressers?

Math mislead: 60a: [A little over 1%] means a little over 1/100th. NINETIETH fits the space, and fits the clue better, than EIGHTIETH.

No real grumbles. Four stars.

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29 Responses to Saturday, 11/26/11

  1. Amy, you spelled it KLABBERJASS, as I also wanted to, but the puzzle requires KLABERJASS- only one B.

  2. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Oy! Fixed. Thanks, Richard. Really, I want it to be KLAABBERJAASS.

  3. John says:

    A college friend taught me Klaberjass. It’s like a poor man’s bridge. He was South African, and said his relatives all played it. Once, when a bunch of us went to the Isles of Scilly for a holiday, we played it for hours and hours until we realized tnhat both teams were cheating using the exact same hand signals. I never played again, but always loved the word, so glad I got to see it in a puzzle. I suspect it might be the one and only time.

  4. Dan F says:

    I thought there were two Bs in the card game, but once the K and J were there I knew what they were going for. KIT-CAT CLUB, though… I’m wondering if Brad’s original grid had KIT KAT CLUB, the setting for the show/film “Cabaret” (crossing BRAKERS, which is inferior to BRACERS).

  5. ktd says:

    DNF–I had SHEEPSHEAD for the card game, thinking it was the only thing that would fit! Never in my life have I heard of klaberjass, but I’ll have to ask around to see if anyone knows it.

  6. Gareth says:

    Insanely tough, but ultimately fair (I’m not a BADLOSER!) Like almost every Brad Wilber puzzle! That guys has my number! After 20 minutes I had, lets see, the bottom-right, and ALUNSER/URSA, and a few S’s and the ET?S of ETDS. Guessed HASIDIC in the 20′s and got SPHERE/RING/ESSE/RESINS then was stuck again. It was recalling AIMEE from a discussion the Rex Parker that allowed KILOMETER to KITkATCLUB which tortuously allowed the middle to fill. Lots more staring before I stopped trying think of somebody BALPERT! The top-left didn’t give up without a bruising fight though!

    Only flatout “what!?” long answer was CHAIRBED, I contemplated stAIR for ages! Lots of meaty clever answers. Short fill way better than yesterday, IMO, about what you expect really. Also had no idea about OOFY. OOFY/REY was last letter, though I had had REY in and taken it out because OOFY was emerging!

  7. Matt says:

    Well, I finished with one error– KIT(K/C)ATCLUB, so I don’t feel upset about that. But yikes, a tough one. Last to finish was NE corner, had DAVIDIC/HASIDIC and was all over the place with the Burmese at 24A and the invitation exhortation at 24D.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    That was tough, but interesting. Klabberjass (I also thought it had 2 B’s) is essentially identical to belotte which I played incessantly as a kid in France, so it gave me the SE first. I managed to go clockwise from there, with the NE brutal. Snow’s clam broth is a well-known product, and an excellent base for (TADA) clam chowder, but I wouldn’t use it in bouillabaisse. I don’t think it’s compatible with turbot and the Mediterranean flavors, especially the saffron. I finally guessed ‘Travis’ as the only 6 letter country singer I could think of ending in ‘S’. I was once married to an English historian, so I’ve vaguely heard of the Kit Kat club. Whigs, I think. Isn’t myrrh an oil? I guess I’m a little vague on exactly what a resin is–a plant product of some sort. Can a resin also be an oil? Never heard of oofy, and first tried ooky which sounded–a little ookier. Loved the 10d tree sitters, once I grokked the misdirection. Never actually heard the word “chairbed” though I suppose it’s sufficiently self-explanatory.

    Official Nit: I don’t think a neatnik is an unlikely hoarder. Michele was (and I think others are) both. She had beautifully organized and tabbed files, lists and charts, large wallets and pouches with multiple slots devoted to certain types of cards and records, stacks of cards with rubber bands around them, and a title card in the front, etc. etc. It was awesome. She also liked to collect all sorts of miscellaneous objects–urns vases, pitchers, pottery, etc. You don’t realize how much you will miss that sort of thing until you miss it. Shouldn’t have gotten off on that. Liked the NYT very much; haven’t done the others yet.

    Bruce

  9. Howard B says:

    A little too much bizarre stuff in this (Times) puzzle for my taste. Ambitious but not a favorite. I really had issues with OOFY. That to me is almost too obscure of a British slang term to merit inclusion in this (North American) puzzle, and I am not a nitpicker. But I appreciate the craziness of the fill, in a way :).

  10. sbmanion says:

    When I was 12, I memorized how to play all the card games in According to Hoyle. When I lived in Wisconsin for a few years, I had the chance to play SHEEPSHEAD, which I knew as SCHAFKOPF (sp.?). KLABERJASS (I thought it only had one S or else it would have been a gimme) has the interesting feature of the 9 as the second highest trump: J, 9, A, K, etc.

    I have often wondered whether the bizarre, illogical orderings of trump suits was some kind of tribal mechanism to invite or exclude. German games seem to love the queen: in one game whose name I have forgotten, the Q of clubs is the highest trump and the 7!! is the second highest trump.

    I will add that my encyclopedic knowledge of card games did not help me much in the rest of the puzzle, which I thought was one of the toughest of the year.

    Steve

  11. Gareth says:

    Interesting, I was prompted to look up KLABERJAS in my Concise Oxford South African edition. It has a “S. African” tag next to it, which is used for words that aren’t considered to be a part of US, British or any other Commonwealth vocabularies. (It’s quite precise – brinjal is marked S. African and Indian for instance.)

  12. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Steve,

    In belotte, (as you probably know) the highest card, jack, is called the “jass” and the 2nd highest 9, the “menel”

    Bruce

  13. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I have a small stymie in the SE of the Stumper. I won’t spoil since it hasn’t been blogged, Maybe I’ll figure it out.

    Bruce

  14. sbmanion says:

    Bruce,

    I started playing bridge when I was 11 and my friends and I circulated from house to house for years to play. My passion is poker, but I have always felt that if you can play bridge, you can play virtually any game. I did know MENEL, but frankly had forgotten
    JASS. There is a Dutch game called KLAVERJAS, which may have clouded my thinking.

    Further to this thread, my all-time favorite show was Sgt. Bilko. In one episode, one of Bilko’s troop is madly in love with a girl of unstated but some kind of Germanic or Slavic ethnicity. The family is playing a card game and each member gives a particular name to the play of each card: Schmeester, Schmoos, etc. Bilko watches for a few minutes and asks if he can play. The GI with the crush on the ethnic daughter is mortified as no outsider has ever dared play the esoteric game. Bilko plays slowly at first, then after a few cards, slams down three cards in succesion: Schmeester, Schmooster, Double Schmeiss!!

    The final scene shows the patriarch of the family embracing Bilko and giving his blessing to the GI as no one had ever seen a Double Schmeiss.

    Steve

  15. Bruce N. Morton says:

    GOT IT.

    Sorry–I know this isn’t twitter, but I figured if I posted that, it would come to me.

    Bruce

  16. Howard B says:

    Have to say, I do enjoy learning about new words through a puzzle. This is why I enjoyed the KLABERJASS thread here. The puzzle stoked my curiosity.
    Gotta run now, good weekend all.

  17. Best entry of the day by far for me was GOOGLE DOODLE. Thanks for letting us know that Lars isn’t another Stan pseudonym, which I thought it was. Upon loading the puzzle, I was actually hoping for a Doug themeless, and lo and behold, my wish was granted. Well, half a Doug, I suppose, but when Brad’s involved too it’s bound to be that much better. Well done, and I hope to see more of “Lars” in the future.

  18. Brad W says:

    If you all liked Lars’s first effort, Doug and I just posted another one to my web site at bradwilber.com. (I’ve put instructions there for requesting Across Lite files, disallowed by WordPress.) Two sets of clues, as usual, for a midweek experience or a weekend experience. Either way, I promise — no Dutch card games.

  19. joon says:

    heh, i figured out “brad” and “doug” and didn’t know what to do with the leftover letters (aellsy)… oops. that was pretty obvious in retrospect!

  20. Karen says:

    I haven’t read Flowers in the Attic, but I was well aware of its existence. I’m also aware of Eid, and I’ve surprised some Muslims by my knowledge. But Klaberjass? Unknown to me.

  21. Jeff Chen says:

    62 minutes, two errors, three cups of half-CAF. I could use a few BRACERS right now!

  22. Daniel Myers says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party—In my 20 continuous years in the UK, I only encountered the term “oof” in Wodehouse, never in conversation. I believe it’s rather obsolete slang. Interestingly, the unabridged OED (I know, I know.) has the etymology as Yiddish “oof-tish” and ultimately, of course, German “auf dem tische” – money laid on the table, money down.

  23. John Haber says:

    Wow, that was hard, and while I got it, I never did manage to verify that OOFY was a word, and of course the card game was way out there. FWIW, RHUD offers Kit-Kat Club as an alternative spelling, so I’ll forgive myself for staring a long time before thinking that the word should be BRACERS. I still don’t recognize “brickyard,” but at least AL UNSER is a familiar name.

    While my last to fall was the bit around TRAVIS, RESINS, and STREET ART, I got nowhere longest in the NW (although CLAM BROTH was actually a favorite of mine as a child, and it made sense for bouillabaisse). The first three across entries on that side all baffled me, as did that use of BIERS. I kept wanting “sofa bed” or “day bed” to have extra letters, since the actual entry is new to me.

  24. Bruce Johnson says:

    Having trouble downloading LA Times puzzle since new format started a few days ago. Ad plays for 30 seconds then a grey square where the puzzle shoud be. any help… bruce9432@hotmail.com

  25. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Bruce J: My advice is for you to sign up for a free membership at Cruciverb.com (crossword constructors’ home on the web), download Across Lite here, and fetch the LA Times crossword in .puz/Across Lite form from Cruciverb each day. Cruciverb’s owner, Kevin McCann, won’t ever sell your info or send you any junk email.

    WIth Across Lite, you can solve the puzzle on your computer (offline) or you can print it out.

  26. Jan (danjan) says:

    I enjoyed the Stumper, but it seemed to me to be solidly on the easy side of the norm, despite the Papasan chair.

  27. Nancy Shack says:

    Amy, you wondered if your dad had the Herb Alpert album when you were little. Well, I had it and was about to say that that must make me old enough to be your fath….. I mean mother. But I see that it came out in 1965 so unless I bought it a few years after it’s debut, that date would put me in my late teens. Still old enough, but not married.

  28. Jeff says:

    This was the hardest NYT of the year for me. I can usually finish or almost finish the Saturday, but I finally gave up this morning with only about 60% of the grid filled in correctly.

  29. Bit says:

    A bit of a stickler, but I’ve never seen “THE” in the title of “SEVEN SAMURAI”, and it’s not there in the Wikipedia article on the film. The Japanese title “Shichinin no Samurai” doesn’t have an article, either, though I guess someone could feel the need to supply one in translation. I just watched the Criterion 2-disc version of the movie this summer.

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