Saturday, 1/7/12

NYT 9:53 
Newsday 6:28 
LAT 3:56 
CS 6:59 (Sam) 
WSJ (Saturday) untimed 

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 1 7 12 0107

64 words, 19 black squares? Unusual grid pattern, with paired 15s framing all four sides, with mitered corners around them made of 7-letter answers. A fair number of answers in the “Wha…?” and “Eh” categories. I bungled 47a and had ANSWERED TO TO ONE crossing MITN, and it took me nearly two minutes to notice. Gah! Brooklyn Park is a Twin Cities suburb in MINN., and ANSWERED TO NO ONE is an actual phrase.

Anyone else make multiple wrong turns on 15a? ENRICHMENT CLASS, I started with. Then I decided it had to end with COURSE. Then I filled in 3d: STAYED THE COURSE and realized 15a had to be something else, because nobody repeats 6-letter words in a puzzle. Except … Joe Krozel did. EXTENSION COURSE crossing STAYED THE COURSE. That is an awful lot of courses on one’s plate, ain’t it? I hear a low rumble from the land, as solvers hit that duplication and insist that it simply cannot be. (See also: RED TIDE, DEEP RED.)

Crosswordese party! I learned LAE from a Kevin Der record-breaking grid; it’s the sort of entry that is only permitted if a grid impresses the editor adequately, isn’t it? ICER is utterly “meh” but I like the clue, [One with a glazed-over expression?]. Next time he should try glazing the donuts, not his face. BETEL, SERACS, BIREME, Spanish CAPA? They’re invited to the party too.

In my “Wha…?” category, we have a CATBOAT (I tell you that the nautical words are not in my wheelhouse and yet these words keep appearing in crosswords anyway). We have a soap actress named Beth EHLERS; never heard of her because she wasn’t on an ABC soap (OK, apparently she did move to All My Children in ’08, but I quit watching years earlier) and she’s no Susan Lucci. Didn’t realize MOTHY was a word, but there it is in the dictionary. TELESIS is [Progress by intelligent design]; the one dictionary I checked doesn’t have the word so I really don’t understand what it means. Don’t care for WAS OLD; WAS + {adjective} makes for iffy fill. Never heard of Barbizon School painter Jules DUPRÉ; I have heard of musician Jacqueline du Pré, but generally look more favorably on visual arts than music so this isn’t a complaint per se.

I like the clues for ECON, ASIATIC ELEPHANT (though I tried to make ASIAN ELEPHANT fit first), SCREW, SMELT, ILLIN‘, and STEPDAD. I’ve never heard of hockey player Dwayne Roloson but “wrestler Johnson” is also “movie star Johnson,” a.k.a. Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson. I was just telling someone she needed to see The Game Plan (a Disney family film) because The Rock is so charming and handsome in it. She just might swoon despite the movie’s formulaic progress. Anyway, the hockey and wrestler dudes are both DWAYNES, which is basically one of those dreadful “plural name” answers but I do like one of the Dwaynes so I’m choosing to forgive it this time.

Nutty Roman numeral action: CCXII is clued as [Boiling point at Roman baths?]. 212° Fahrenheit, yo. The “Roman baths” part is a nice touch.

3.33 stars.
Updated Saturday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Citrus Salad” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, January 7

A lovely grid (with one glaring exception, discussed below) highlights this Sarah Keller offering. The theme will make your lips pucker, but in a good way. The three theme entries are people (real and fictional, living and dead) with citrus fruits for surnames:

  • 20-Across: MEADOWLARK LEMON is a former [Harlem Globetrotters star]. Right now Curly Neal is the only other Globetrotter that comes to mind. Sweet Georgia Brown, I feel like I should know more.
  • 34-Across: HARRY LIME is [Some guy I've never heard of]. (That clue seems to come up a lot.) He’s also the [Orson Welles role in "The Third Man"]. Today’s tip from the produce section: avoid a hairy lime.
  • 54-Across: WILLIAM OF ORANGE (Amy’s favorite regal figure?) was the [English monarch from 1689 to 1702]. But he tired of the daily rind of leadership.

Look at those beautiful triple 7s stacked along each corner. I liked O CANADA and the CHAMOIS is super, but the stack in the southwest is best, with NO SWEAT, ANTI-WAR, and HEALERS feeding ONE AWAY, clued as [Close to winning]. Yeah, we have to tolerate AAR and TRS ([___-80 (old computer)] to get that grouping, but I can live with it.

What I can’t accept, though, is the deep south section, where TRURO, the [Cape Cod vacation town], crosses MUON, the [Atomic particle]. Holy Natick, Batman! What’s more, the abutting ARCO doesn’t get a softy clue like [BP rival] but instead the thorny (I think) [With a bow, to Isaac Stern]. That section seems so out of place in this grid, where everything else is much smoother and more accessible. Of course, one person’s impossible section is another’s gimme, so I’m sure some solvers sailed right through this. But I sure took a beating there.

Three other things I learned from this puzzle: (1) there’s more than one famous Abel (ABELS is clued as [Soviet spy Rudolf and actor Walter]); (2) there’s such a thing as a MILD OATH, like [Egad, e.g.]; and (3) a sports car’s GRILLE, clued as [It may be covered with a bra], is spelled with an “E” on the end. This is alle.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 1 7 12

Is 1-Across another Barry Silk Philadelphia reference? I feel SOFT PRETZEL may be a classically Philly thing. Baseball references are classically Barry too, so we have a SPITTER (25a. [Sneaky pitch]) too.

Favorite answers and clues:

  • 23a. [The Blue Demons of the NCAA] play for DEPAUL University, where my parents met. Were it not for DePaul, this blog probably wouldn’t exist (and neither would I).
  • 27a. [Suffer disgrace] clues LOSE FACE, a colorful entry. You can also lose heart and lose your mind, and it’s only funny until someone loses an eye.
  • 35a. [Reporter in the comic strip "Bloom County"] is the kid MILO. Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, and Doonesbury were my favorite strips back in my comics-page-reading youth.
  • 51a. ["Blankman" co-star] is a more current (but less familiar) clue for DAMON WAYANS than ["In Living Color" co-star] would be. DAMON’s two rows above another 5/6 full name, RICKY NELSON.
  • 55a. [Shout before a hurried departure] clues ABANDON SHIP. I’m going to start shouting that when I’m heading to the bus stop or am running late for an appointment.
  • 27d. [Big name in chocolate] is LINDT. Do you prefer their bars or their truffles? The highlight of my 1997 stopover in the Zurich airport was the Lindt shop. That 400 g dark chocolate bar? Num.
  • 28d. [One of more than 5,000 in the United States, per the Census Bureau] clues ELM STREET. Wasn’t quite aware that the Census Bureau tracked such things. I lived at 120 Elm Street until I was 12 years old.
  • 34d. [Turnip cabbage] is KOHLRABI, which is one of my all-time favorite vegetable names. Can’t say I’ve ever eaten the vegetable, but I love the word. (Theme germ: HELMUT KOHLRABI or HERB KOHLRABI.)
  • 43d. [Type of straw]? BENDY! Who doesn’t love a BENDY straw?

Most of the fill seems relatively ordinary, no? 3.75 stars.

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 1 7 12 Peterson "Saturday Stumper"

A couple weeks ago, Newsday editor Stan Newman explained what makes Stumpers hard in a blog comment here: It’s that there are precious few “gimmes” that a solver can fill in instantly after reading the clue. I suspect that today’s Stumper has quite a bit more in the “gimme” department than most Saturday Newsday puzzles (though it still took me a respectably Saturdayish amount of time):

  • 1a. [Name on oversized cups] is 7-Eleven’s BIG GULP. I held off on filling that in just in case it was a large SLURPEE cup instead. (BIG GULP’s a great answer, though.)
  • 15a. [Orwellian superstate] is OCEANIA. Huge gimme! Except, of course, that I plunked in EURASIA and thus made no progress in that corner. Had I not goofed, the whole solve would’ve been done in sub-Saturday time.
  • 22a. [It may be climbed via the John Muir Route] clues California’s Mt. SHASTA. Muir is strongly associated with California nature.
  • 23a. [Al or Mo], a chemical ELEM., or element. Seen this sort of clue before.
  • 39a. [Manager of the Major League Baseball All-Time Team]? Even I got CASEY STENGEL off of just the final -EL.
  • 62a. [The States, in Baja] are EL NORTE, the nickname for the U.S. from south of the border. You didn’t fall into the ESTADOS trap, did you?
  • 11d. [Brenda in "The Closer"] is KYRA Sedgwick, flat-out gimme even though I’ve never watched the show.
  • 13d. [Operator of the MilleMiglia program], looks like “Thousand Miles” in Italian, must be an Italian airline, ergo ALITALIA.
  • 26d. [2008 "Survivor" locale] is GABON. Have seen the clue before.
  • 31d. [Boxcars], in a roll of the dice, are double sixes, or TWELVE.
  • 45d. ELMIRA, [New York home for Twain], a gimme for any long-time solver. I’m hoping my son’s classmate Elmira becomes famous because these Twain clues are boring and stale.
  • 49d. [Lewis of kids' TV] means “Lewis remembered by 60-year-olds who watched kids’ TV back in the day.” SHARI Lewis also had a PBS show in the 1990s, apparently, but I missed hearing about that entirely.
  • 50d. [Boxes for sitting] at the opera house are LOGES. I associate the word more strongly with crosswords than with arts/entertainment venues.
  • 58d. [Young ferret] is a KIT.

That’s way more gettable clue content than most Stumpers have.

Favorite bits:

  • 18a. ST. CROIX, site of my honeymoon, has been [Part of the US since 1916].
  • 32a. FUDGE BROWNIE! Nowhere near often enough is this a [Lunchbox treat].
  • 61a. Etymology! [Literally, "servant"] clues SAMURAI. Didn’t know that.
  • 39d. I like the clue [Do some scoring] for COMPOSE.

Four stars, but I would have liked wrestling through somewhat tougher clues.

Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Riding the Waves”

WSJ Saturday Puzzle solution, 1 7 12 "Riding the Waves"

Smooth and solid achievement, with no clunky or obscure answers. The thematic final answer, “something that rolls with the waves,” is a LOOSE CANNON. A person who’s a loose cannon is dangerous because you don’t know what they’ll do and how they’ll cause damage—much like an unsecured cannon aboard a ship, which is where the phrase comes from.

Favorite clue: [Class of automobiles?] for DRIVER’S ED.

I like the related pairs of answers: the baked goodies PASTRY and DANISH (plus that CINNAMON BUN), the listener who will TUNE IN and is ALL EARS, the heartland locales of ST. LOUIS and TEXARKANA (which I had never realized was named after more than just Texas and Arkansas, but now I see the -ana of Louisiana there).

Do we debit Patrick Berry’s account for including MADE WAVES in the grid of a puzzle with “waves” in the title, the clue designations, and the meta instruction? Or do you think it was intentionally thematic?

Favorite evocation: The clue for OBSTACLE is [Something in the way]. One of my favorite albums is Nirvana’s Unplugged, from which this non-grungy “Something in the Way” is taken.

4.25 stars.

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19 Responses to Saturday, 1/7/12

  1. Martin says:

    LAE:

    FYI according to Wiki:

    “In July 1937 Lae made world news when American aviator, Amelia Earhart, was last seen flying out of the airport on her way back to the USA. She was never seen again.”

    -MAS

  2. Howard B says:

    Hey now. Dwayne Roloson’s a fan-favorite veteran goalie, now playing for Tampa Bay. Pretty much a journeyman who gained some more respect last season when at 42 years old (41?), he helped his team into the playoffs with some clutch performances. Still playing at the ripe young age of 43 (42?), after many have long since hung up their skates. Gotta love that. But true, he doesn’t have the overall popularity of The Rock.

    Other than that, very ambitious puzzle. Do not like the duplication, feels like a bit of an overreach there. But I love the open grid.

    @Martin: I knew I had read somewhere about Lae, thank you for refreshing my memory! Would not have recalled that fact without help.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    Me too, I was slowed a tad in the top half because I already had 3D STAYED THE COURSE and wanted something like an Educational Cruise at 15A, instead of another COURSE. It had to be a duplicate though, along with the two RED items. Worth it for the long phrases like the DIRTY POLITITIAN who ANSWERED TO NO ONE and thus finished up DEAD AS A DOORNAIL.. TELESIS wanted to be Genesis, but the CAT BOAT couldn’t be denied. As for DUPRE, I think there were two – père et fils – but don’t hold me to that, and I won’t be yellin’ over ILLIN. I did enjoy the Boiling point in the Roman baths, plus a Hellenistic BIREME even if I’d have said it was Roman too, and I especially like the clue depending on pronunciation in “Take the lead from?” which pointed first at an actor’s upstaging! All very clever.

  4. Zulema says:

    I tried EXLAX again for SINEX, but the crossings didn’t work. No complaints on this puzzle; a lot of good long phrases, and it went so much faster than yesterday’s. I thought the duplications were meant to be there and thought I saw a third one but cannot find it now. Perhaps it’s the hour.

  5. Gareth says:

    Wow that was gruelling! Had fun simply because of how impenetrable it was! After 20 minutes I had TACIT/ECON/PHU/STEPDAD/ILLIN and NEW/CAPo/MOTHY/ASIATICELEPHANT. Oh, and LAE on its lonesome up at the top! I had put in and taken out WASOLD/WENT several times. Also did the same with the MACHINE of 2D. Suddenly the bottom came in a rush and I clawed my way north. Sure I’m not the only one who had RipTIDE before REDTIDE (with TSUNAMI as a first guess.) 1A – my first thought was Caucasian, and that just didn’t leave me. The one moment that soured everything was when the second COURSE emerged – I resisted it for as long as I possibly could and when it became inevitible I yelled at my computer – I honestly don’t see how that can be allowable. Even if you’re filling in a stupidly impossible to fill in grid. I keep meaning to ask: “nautical words are not in my wheelhouse;” is that phrasing supposed to be ironic?

  6. Jordan says:

    Bad NYT Puzzle.
    Duplications, out-of-the-language phrases, tons of crosswordese.
    David Steinberg’s puzzle yesterday was ten times better.

    The Newsday Stumper is also way too easy this week. We get two hard puzzles a week, come on.

  7. Matt says:

    Poked at the NYT here and there for a while, but once I got a foothold (in the WSW, with TACIT, ECON, SMELLS, and PHU), it went pretty easily. Not surprising to find lots of crosswordy entries, given the low black-square count, partlcularly SERACS. BIREME, and LAE all in one place. I don’t mind that partlcularly, but maybe it’s a taste I acquired during the Maleska era.

  8. animalheart says:

    Tough slog for me, and I had a couple of bum letters at the end (RESET for DESEX, which yielded the nonexistent but remotely plausible painter Jules RUPRE and the nonexistent but remotely plausible blockage-buster SINET), but I thought the long entries were totally cool and entirely idiomatic. The course/course and red/red (and SMELLED/SMELT?…not really) duplications were just a minor distraction. Four stars for Mr. Krozel from me (extra half-star for ILLIN’!)

  9. I only know Dwayne Roloson because I was watching all of the Bruins’ playoff games last season, and Roloson was the opponents’ goalie in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    As a Massachusetts native, a musician, and a physics minor, I had no problem with the TRURO/ARCO/MUON section. I agree that TRURO is a bit unfair, but ARCO and MUON were fine. I don’t even play a stringed instrument, but I know that the two ways they play are arco and pizz(icato). [Atomic particle] in 4 letters has got to be __ON, but it could be any of PION, MUON, or KAON, so you really need the M from WILLIAMOFORANGE to finish that off.

  10. David L says:

    The problem with MUON is that it’s not an atomic particle — not in the sense of “a particle normally to be found in an atom.” Subatomic particle would have been fine.

  11. Daniel Myers says:

    Any puzzle with Proust’s ODETTE – aka Mme Swann later in the opus – makes my day.

  12. Bit says:

    Interesting Big East basketball grouping in the NW LAT — the DEPAUL Blue Demons and the Marquette GOLDEN EAGLEs.

    Ditto on MUON. First thing I said aloud as I filled this in, “Isn’t that a subatomic particle?”

  13. Tuning Spork says:

    @ David L and Bit

    Re: the MUON not being an “atomic particle”. I thought so, too. But, as it turns out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotic_atom

    But, you’re right David, it’s certainly not “normal”. [Elementary particle] would have been a more accurate clue.

    Seems kinda like having [Possible result of an intentional walk] as a clue for HOMERUN. Sure, Willie Mays and others have hit an IW pitch for a home run, but that hardly makes the clue legit.

  14. Jeff Chen says:

    Good workout today! Lots of good stuff in the interlocking 8′s.

    Me being of the ASIANIC persuasion (why is spell-checker saying this is not a word? I insist it is!) I couldn’t figure out why SENS were places for shooting stars, thinking perhaps it’s because Taiwan is known for its bare-knuckle fights in national legislature (really!).

    Jeff

  15. John Haber says:

    Call it an acceptable for me. I no longer want to complain when an answer seems meaningless, since I’m just a snotty New Yorker, but I can’t find a reference for LAE and TELESIS anywhere. The NW wasn’t so much fun either.

  16. pannonica says:

    First place I looked for telesis was m-w.com.

    telesis: (n.) progress that is intelligently planned and directed : the attainment of desired ends by the application of intelligent human effort to the means

    New Latin, from Greek, fulfillment, from telein to complete, from telos end — more at telos

    First Known Use: 1896

    I learned the root when studying genetics. Telomeres are structures located at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes.

  17. Zulema says:

    LAE is the second largest city in Papua New Guinea. Wikipedia will tell you that and any Atlas will show you where it is.

  18. Tuning Spork says:

    @Zulema

    Wikipedia will tell you that.

    Solving such answers in a crossword puzzle should be about recall, not research.

    If, as an experienced solver, you have to research the answer, the puzzle has failed.

    IMHO, of course. :-D

    We want to be able to piece it together. Not to sit there perplexed, and playing letter roulette with the final square.

  19. Zulema says:

    We don’t all know the same things. Many very experienced solvers could not piece together the SE in the Friday NYT puzzle. What I responded to was John’s saying he could not find a reference to LAE. I couldn’t quite remember the ending letter but the crossing did it. I was not saying he should look up the answer, but where to look it up afterwards.

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