Saturday, 5/5/12

Newsday 18:22 w/2 Googles 
NYT 6:57 
LAT 3:13 
CS 4:32 (Sam) 

Ned White’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 5 5 12 0505

Well. This puzzle didn’t slaughter me the way it slaughtered some of the usual applet hotshots, but good lord, this is one cracked-out grid. So many things I’ve never heard of that I’m not quite sure how I finished the puzzle in a regular Saturday amount of time. Some of those answers are piled together in deadly zones. To wit:

  • 8a. BOBSTAY, [Rope holding down a bowsprit]. What? It’s stacked on…
  • 16a. OPUS ONE, [1945 Tommy Dorsey hit]. What?
  • 18a. RESTONS, [Journalists James and James Jr.]. There were two? We’re using plural last names in the grid now?
  • 22a. CRI [__ de guerre] is less familiar than nom de guerre, is it not?
  • 31a. OLD PAL, [Longtime ace]. “Ace” is a pal, not someone who’s good at something?
  • 38a. AQUA TEEN, [Any of three title characters in a long-running Cartoon Network series]. I know of Aqua Teen Hunger Force but had no idea there were three “Aqua Teens.” Bleh. Looks weird without the Hunger Force.
  • 53a. ZALE, [Big name in jewelry retail]. Um, no. The big name in retail jewelry stores is Zales, no apostrophe. It’s run by the Zale Corporation, but that’s nowhere near as famous as Zales-with-an-S.
  • 13d. ANN RULE, [Author of "The Stranger Beside Me," 1980]. Faintly recognize the name; didn’t get it from the clue.
  • 14d. YES IT IS, [Beatles tune that begins "If you wear red tonight"]. Never heard of it. Husband sang that first line and it sounds very early Beatles.
  • 34d. IN B, [Having five sharps]. Bleh. Never like this sort of music clue/answer. Your mileage may vary.
  • 36d. NEHI SODA, [Drink that had a Wild Red variety]. Don’t think I’ve ever seen the answer as a phrase like this.
  • 39d. QUIRINO, [Philippine province on Luzon]. Luzon has about half of the Philippines’ 80 provinces, and I know several of them. This was not one of those. But Ilocano is a primary language there, and that’s my mother-in-law’s native tongue so I can almost forgive the province’s inclusion in a crossword grid.
  • 43d. VEAL RIB, [Steak or chop choice]. Uh, does this show up on restaurant menus, at butcher counters, in cookbooks? VEAL RIB is not a term I’ve ever encountered.

Now, I know a lot of people who make themeless crosswords, and I could imagine they’d think that including more than a couple of these answers would be grounds for editorial rejection. So…the shiny parts bedazzled Will Shortz, then? Because PIZZAZZ, CUPCAKE, UC-DAVIS, OBELISK, I SAID SO, and BORA BORA are great. And the middle ground of answers—tough things that I have seen before—are fair game for a Saturday grid. That middle ground includes RHEBOKS, DELIBES, the RIVER PO, GAMBREL, and BUCKY / BEAVER (the spokesrodent for that old crosswordese toothpaste, Ipana).

Favorite clue, because it so confused me: 5d: [Drum and bass parts], FINS. Drum and bass are both kinds of fish, not just musical instruments. I also like the gentle mislead of 52d: [Alabama or Missouri], TRIBE.

Overall, the 13-car pile-up of unknowns felt off-putting to me rather than “ooh, fun challenge.” Two stars for them, four stars for the rest, and a resulting rating of, say, 2.8 stars. Bobstay Restons, old pal! Ann Rule veal rib? Yes it is, Quirino.

Updated Saturday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Put Some Clothes On!” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, May 5

40-Across says that NAKED is [In the buff (and a hint to the first word in 17-, 31-, 48-, and 65-Across)]. The first word in each of those theme entries is not synonymous with “naked,” as implied by the wording of the clue; instead, they are words that can follow “naked” in other common expressions:

  • 17-Across: [Sodium pentothal] is also known  TRUTH SERUM (the “naked truth”). Thirty years ago I would have been a big fan of “naked truth serum,” but with age comes the realization that few people really look good naked.
  • 31-Across: The [Anathema to the NRA] is MICHAEL MOORE. But what’s a “naked Michael”–some kind of cocktail or something? Oh, wait. The answer’s GUN CONTROL (as in The Naked Gun). Now I get it.
  • 48-Across: The [School cafeteria expenditure] is not PINK SLIME but LUNCH MONEY. This “naked lunch” thing sounds familiar, but I have to look it up–hold on. Okay, I’m back. The good folks at Wikipedia say Naked Lunch is “a novel by William S. Burroughs originally published in 1959. The book is structured as a series of loosely-connected vignettes. Burroughs stated that the chapters are intended to be read in any order.” The literary equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino film, it seems.
  • 65-Across: The [Gorilla suit] is not a matching sport coat and tie, as I always thought. It’s just an APE COSTUME. Isn’t any entry in the form “___ costume” pretty arbitrary? And what of the naked ape? I see authority for The Naked Ape as both a film and a band, but I suspect it’s just a noun–you know, a “naked ape” as opposed to the “nattily attired ape.”

There are only a couple of entrances into the northeast and southwest corners from the diagonal swath running from the northwest to the southeast, so it’s three mini-puzzles in one. The highlight of the northeast corner is IN DISTRESS, but I liked ME TOO, ARABIANS, and TOMATO too. The southwest corner has all kinds of woes. There’s an INSECT BITE, THE BENDS, and a FLAT.  Good thing there’s an OLD PAL near MONACO to offer sympathy.

But my favorite section was the diagonal swath, particularly the pairing of EVES, [12/24 and 12/31], next to DAYS, [12/24 and 12/31]. That’s a nice pairing and nice use of the same clue. It may have been serendipity, but sometimes the cool little coincidences like that can really make a puzzle.

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 5 5 12 "Saturday Stumper" SN

Holy schnikes. This puzzle slaughtered me. The first few minutes went by and the grid was…blank. Twelve minutes in, large swaths remained mostly vacant and I took a break. I came back to the puzzle later but no smarter. After a couple more minutes, I waved the white flag and Googled two things: 46a, [Scarlett's maid] PRISSY, and 14d, ['70s sponsor of Disney World's "If You Had Wings" ride], EASTERN Airlines (good gravy!). Those gave me enough of a foothold to make my way through the rest of the puzzle with a total solving time two to three times longer than my average Stumper times (and don’t forget, there was Googling here or my solving time might have been ∞.

Much of the difficulty comes from Stan’s efforts to make the most oblique and challenging clues imaginable, but then it gets even harder because of the grid layout. It’s basically five mini-crosswords with only the most tenuous connections between them, so there’s little of that brisk flow between sections that most puzzles have.

I didn’t even notice while solving that Stan achieved an impressive feat in the middle: five 7-letter answers stacked together, with EDGINGS (one of two [Buy for a lawn] answers, the other being an AERATOR) being the closest thing to a compromise in that section. There’s a reason we seldom see 5×7 grid sections and it’s that they’re not easy to make. No, wait–I don’t like 27a: DEALS TO, [Services at some tables] either (verb phrase in the clue, cards being dealt at casino tables).

Onward to some of the many tough clues:

  • 6a. SHORT SALE, [Classified listing]. Mighty nonspecific clue.
  • 16a. AEGEAN SEA, [Region once called Archipelago]. Fascinating. I was trying to think of island chains rather than a sea filled with Greek isles.
  • 18a. BAR GRAPHS, [Plotter's work]. I was picturing someone plotting points on the X and Y axis. Is there plotting in bar graph land?
  • 21a. FIAT, [Sanction]. I don’t see the equivalency. Anyone?
  • 24a. S CURVE, [Display of diminishing returns]. Say what? Is it about this mathiness, the sigmoid function? The only S curves I know are on Lake Shore Drive.
  • 33a. GASOHOL, [E10 blend]. Is ethanol fuel the same or not?
  • 39a. NECKTIE, [Band over a top]. Mighty vague.
  • 43a. EER, [Ending like -ist]. Ick.
  • 48a. ST. PETE, [AL city]. Alabama has a St. Petersburg? Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know this. What the hell? It’s certainly a harder clue than [FL city] would be, innit?
  • 59a. COOKIE TIN, [Where snaps may be stored]. As in gingersnaps. I need to get rid of my cookie jar. I never use it for my cookies and it takes up space. The handle’s chipped. Can I just throw it out?
  • 61a. ARMY BRATS, [Gingrich grew up with them]. No idea. POOR IDEAS OF MARITAL FIDELITY wouldn’t fit.
  • 5d. RAT, [Frequenter]. As in “mall rat,” “crossword tournament rat.”
  • 6d. SABO, [Destructive op]. Short for sabotage, I gather. Have never, ever seen this shortening, but there is a baseball player named Chris Sabo whose name crosswords have taught me.
  • 20d. CREAMERY, [Food processor]. Mighty vague clue.
  • 28d. ASPCA, puppy [Mill fighter]. Tough clue without the word “puppy.”
  • 36d. REPLICA, [Word from the Italian for ''answer'']. That doesn’t make much sense. Tried RIPOSTE first.
  • 58d. NET, [Totally conclusive]. Now, that’s a bizarre clue for NET.

I don’t know what direction to go for a star rating here. The clues didn’t hit me with that “Oh! Now I get it!” appreciation of cleverness (other than the AEGEAN SEA clue being interesting). That’s the Stumper style: throw you off the track with oblique alternate meanings rather than engage in wordplay. So it was a struggle, mostly not a very entertaining one, but the fill is solid and the puzzle meets its goal of stumping solvers. Let’s call it 3.5 stars.

I’m curious to know whether this puzzle walloped you as well, or if you just had a garden-variety Stumper experience no more challenging than usual.

Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 5 5 12 Peterson

All right, what’s up with the easy clues? I’m all for giving newer solvers the encouragement that they can finish a Saturday LAT puzzle, but I wouldn’t want them to feel bad the next week when the puzzle’s more challenging.

I also relish spending time battling twisty Saturday clues, and this crossword didn’t put up much of a fight. The fill has lots of sparkle offset by only a little bit of “meh.” The highlights:

  • 1a. RED SQUARE, [St. Basil's Cathedral locale]. I just scored 157 points in Lexulous (a Scrabble-like game on Facebook) by connecting two red squares (triple word score, baby!).
  • 33a. ZAPRUDER FILM, [Evidentiary home movie studied by the Warren Commission]. Strictly factual clue, no playful trickery to make it harder.
  • 41a. CRASH COURSE, [Programs for quick studies]. Nice answer.
  • 67a. A far-fetched FISH STORY, [Overdrawn account?]. Nice clue, nice answer.
  • 4d. SCHLITZ, ["The beer that made Milwaukee famous"]. One vowel, six consonants.
  • 24d. NO PICNIC, [Hardly easy]. Well, actually…
  • 31d. RUFUS, [Chaka Khan's old group]. I feel for you. We don’t need Rufus. We just need Chaka Khan’s voice (that link is a 2008 C.K. performance).
  • 38d. MAKE NICE, [Act friendly]. Nicely nice answer.

The other long answers are fine but not as zingy as these ones, and the short fill is mostly the ordinary sort of short stuff, with your OAR, RAE, UTA, LYE, and SER. The highlights elevate the rating to four stars but the easy clues and surrounding ordinariness drop the puzzle to 3.5 stars.

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36 Responses to Saturday, 5/5/12

  1. Howard B says:

    Most of the commentary is already said, for me. But I have to add, AQUA TEEN is pretty close to an 8-letter partial, and I did not care much for that one. Here’s why:
    The show’s title(s) (Aqua Teen etc etc) are more or less a joke, and not a reference to any of the individual characters. You’d have to see the show to understand that there is little relation to the title. (it’s a surrealistic, bizarre show).

    Anyway, quite a quirky puzzle.

  2. Gareth says:

    Strange. My list is nearly identical to yours Amy, but add UCDAVIS as Aggies (thought that was Texas A and M) and GAMBREL… I so badly wanted those RESTONS to be REuTerS!

  3. Matt says:

    Well, I apparently liked it more than others did– There are some weak entries, but a lot of good-and-hard-and-unusual ones. So, I’d give it 3.6942715 stars.

  4. Pauer says:

    As a personal friend of Master Shake, I must say that fans do call it “Aqua Teen” or “ATHF” (or at least they did before it became “Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1″ for Season 8). And the fun isn’t over yet; the Season 9 title? “Aqua Something You Know Whatever.”

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I am shocked by both the negativity and the apparent difficulty of this puz. Excellent, quite gentle Saturday, with gimmes like Delibes, in B, Ann Rule, Bucky Beaver, River Po, Obelisk, Marty, Tostada, aioli. And I said so! Face it–the rope holding down the bowsprit is the bobstay. One doesn’t have to know the term, but I don’t think of it as obscure. (Amy, I *know* there is sailing on Lake Michigan. I’ve seen them out there. :-) James Reston is a highly distinguished journalist. Wasn’t crazy about ‘aquateen’, but there were plenty of easy crosses. I liked the puzzle a lot and commend Ned. It had plenty of pizzazz. Fast Sat., for me–comparable to usually much fast solvers. I guess I won’t give 5 stars just to compensate, but I’ll certainly give four.

    It’s funny, when I was a young kid, my parents had a book of plays which included RUR (of crossword fame) by Karel Kapek (Capek?) (Stood for Rossum’s Universal Robots.) I loved it and read it over and over again. Probably the first play I ever actually read.

    One thing I don’t understand–if Robert Duvall in fact played Santini, why does the clue need a {?} ? — OH–I think I just got it–to hint at the title The *Great* Santini (?)

    Bruce

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Bruce: I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Sailing is a niche hobby, mostly for the affluent. And in gigantic swaths of the United States, there is scarcely anywhere to sail. Sailing is simply not a mainstream activity. (I wonder if opera or sailing has more adherents.)

    @Pauer: Sadly, the clue didn’t ask for a casual way to refer to the show, it asked for a character descriptor. You watch “Aqua Teen,” but are you observing Aqua Teens while you do it?

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Amy–I don’t sail personally, though I suppose I know people who do. But I do think that there are lots of things that lots of us don’t do personally that are reasonably included in crosswords. I’ll tack away from the contretemps over ‘aquateen’ vs. ‘aquateens’. :-)

    Tough but excellent Stumper, which I got gradually but steadily–middle area last.

    Bruce

  8. animalheart says:

    For me, the hardest Saturday in ages, and I ended up with one letter wrong. I had OLDPAW and WAE instead of OLDPAL (which makes absolutely no sense to me, given the clue) and LAE (whateveh). I figured that if there could be a southpaw, there could be an oldpaw (say, a baseball pitcher of a certain age). How “ace” clues “pal” is a mystery to me.

    Far too much esoterica for my taste, though was happy to see the Restons, the younger of whom I once met. The less said about AQUATEEN and BUCKY BEAVER the better. And DRAC?!?! Do we call Frankenstein’s monster Frankie now? And anyone who would say “gnarly” wouldn’t be caught dead saying “too cool.” Different spheres of slang entirely, to my ear.

    Bruce, I am in awe of you (as always).

  9. Martin says:

    The orginal meaning of “sanction” is “decree,” specifically by the Church. Same root, sanctus, as “saint.”

  10. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Gary, I am stunned at the idea that awe flows in that direction. I always pictured it as directed from me to you.

    If you would like, email me your email address–(I once had it)–at:

    Brucenm [atsign] aol [dot] com

    I am in the DC and suburban areas somewhat regularly to visit my brother, and others.

    Bruce

  11. rex says:

    What Amy said. And then said. Anyone who found this “gentle” is to be back-patted. He is a *fantastic* outlier.

  12. Martin says:

    Veal chops, like lamb chops, come either rib or loin. So “veal rib chop” is something a butcher is asked for every day. Same with veal rib steaks, which are very tasty.

  13. Doug says:

    Amy – You’re going to love this. ST. PETE is an American League (AL) city because the Tampa Bay Rays play in St. Petersburg, FL, for some reason. Took me a while to get that. This puzzle chewed me up and spit me out.

  14. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Believe me, in this crowd, I’m an undistinguished solver. That why I am so surprised at the reaction to this one.

    Bruce

  15. pannonica says:

    I want to know, perhaps predictably, what the rationale was for determining -OTA to be well-clued as a [Taxonomy suffix] as opposed to the myriad other taxonomic suffixes out there, as well as the other things “OTA” could be.

    Stumper:

    “DEALS TO, [Services at some tables] either (verb phrase in the clue, cards being dealt at casino tables).” I can see services and deals (to) both being either nouns or verbs, so they can agree.
    • both FIAT and sanction can have senses meaning “decree.”
    • bar graphs also have x- and y-axes, even if they aren’t scatterplots. In any case, to my mind it can be argued that transferring data into a graphical (visual) format entails plotting.
    • ST PETE / AL: Ya, Doug said it. Also, “Stumper.”
    • REPLICA: “[1815–25; < It: reply, repetition, deriv. of replicare to repeat < LL replicāre to REPLY]“ (RHUD). Reply = answer. Kind of tenuous, but valid.

  16. Linda Murray says:

    Very, very tough NYT puzzle and even tougher Saturday Stumper. Or maybe I just had too much fun at a party last night.

  17. animalheart says:

    Bruce, check your e-mail. Looking forward to catching up.

  18. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    I’m not sure I’d say it’s the best clue for -ota, but it seem acceptable in modern taxonomy. Biota is the taxon (“superdomain’) of life. It is divided into Cytota (most of what we consider living) and Acytota (viruses, prions, etc.).

    Euryarchaeota, Crenarchaeota, Endopterygota, Exopterygota (both Pterygota), Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Glomeromycota, Zygomycota, Chytridiomycota and my personal favorite, Neocallimastigomycota, are some other modern taxa that fit the bill.

  19. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Linda–the Stumper took me at least 2 1/2 times maybe 3 times what the NYT did. For me, one of the crucial factors is what I call the 3R quotient or index. (rappers, rock groups and reality shows.) The NYT index was a rare 0. I don’t want to say this gives me a huge competitive, comparative advantage over other solvers, rather that it refrains from giving me a huge comparative *disadvantage.* I know I harp on this to the point of annoyance, but it’s becoming deliberate. I’m functioning as a lobbyist in a Quixotian, futile effort to influence the choices and behavior of constructors and editors. And all lobbyists are annoying. I realize that nothing will ever come of my efforts.

    Neocallimastigomycota–Didn’t I serve them with a light cream – sherrry – dill sauce at my last dinner party?

    8 one star ratings. About the worst rating I have ever seen for an NYT puzzle. I just don’t get it. Sometimes I wonder if I belong to a different species on a different planet.

    Amy, just out of idle curiosity” would you prefer as a clue for “inB”, something on the order of: {like Tschaikovsky’s 6th Symphony } ? It’s more substantive, but I suppose some would say more arcane.

    Gary–thanks.

    Bruce

  20. pannonica says:

    Martin: While that’s a fun list (don’t forget Eukaryota!), it doesn’t really address my question, even as you admit as such in your reply. If—although it may seem a bit esoteric—the clue had read [Top-level taxonomic suffix] I would have been more amenable to it. (Even though it does service at the family level for, for instance, Pholidota and genus for Marmota.)

    The fact is that there are so many suffixes in (biological, I’m assuming) taxonomy, even ones that non-initiates are familiar with. As evidence for this I proffer the List of Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner Cartoons (refer to the two rightmost columns, “Pseudo-Latin [sic] names”).

    Okay, so it’s -us-intensive (hey, it’s caricature!) and not the best example. But it is fun to peruse. Anyway, just to name a few others, there are -vora, -venter, -flora, -lax, -ata, -morpha, -scens, -poda, -icola, et -alia.

  21. janie says:

    put me among those who have a lotta love for today’s nyt. BOBSTAY? i’m no sailor, but recalled that there’s a character by that name in g& s’s h.m.s. pinafore (bill BOBSTAY). and ZALE — as in the zale corporation — is clued correctly as a [big name in jewelry retail]. yeah, VEAL RIB felt odd, but it, too, is definitely legit.

    loved the scrabbly crunch of the Q, the Ks, the X and all them Zs. the crossing of GRIZZLES and PIZZAZZ seems particularly peppy to me.

    “one man’s meat…” and all that, eh? what can i say? while this one *didn’t* require the overnight treatment, i found i still had to tease out a lot of the answers (the AQUATEEN / QUIRINO cross was no picnic…). but hey — it’s saturday. when else are these kinds of challenges acceptable and, to no small extent, expected?

    ;-)

  22. ArtLvr says:

    Dear me, Sam D… and everybody else — you seem not to be aware of the book, The Naked Ape, bestseller by professional zoologist Desmond Morris first published in 1967! A popular and provocative exposition of human habits, patterns and behaviors as seen from the eye of a scientist, it is still widely read. Example: Morris’ explanation of the source of religion — he notes that groups of people, and sometimes the groups are quite large, congregate regularly and display submissive responses (closing the eyes, lowering the head, clasping the hands together in a begging gesture, kneeling, kissing the ground, or even extreme prostration) that are often accompanied by wailing or chanting vocalizations. The dominant individual is usually referred to as a god. Morris traces these strange behaviors to dominant males of our far past that evolved into an all-powerful individual that could span generations. “At first sight, it is surprising that religion has been so successful, but its extreme potency is simply a measure of the strength of our fundamental biological tendency, inherited directly from our monkey and ape ancestors, to submit ourselves to an all-powerful, dominant member of the group.”

  23. Erik says:

    you young whippersnappers that run this blog have no appreciation for the big band era! a classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7QjMZ4ckZc

  24. Martin says:

    pannonica,

    We can even push -ota down to species, e.g. the moths Prionapteryx obeliscota and Cechenena aegrota. So “top-level” would arguably make the clue worse.

    I think the clue is just one of the venerable series of noise phrases that mean “get it from the crossings, sucker.” I used to call these “Microsoft clues” after any number of diagnostic messages that were correct but of no help whatsoever. In honor of Jim Horne’s contributions to the cruciverbal community, I no longer call them that.

  25. mmespeer says:

    I’m confused. The WSJ Puzzle for Friday under your Todays Puzzzles” was titled “Potluck Dinner”, not “Fanciful Collaborations”. ???

  26. pannonica says:

    Martin: Yes, -OTA appears at a range of levels, and I see your point about making it worse. I guess I was responding to your list without thinking more deeply (ha-ha). It’s just a terrible, terrible clue.

    Oh, and there are plenty of other -ota species (consulting list): Myrmarachne rhopalota, Brachoria mendota, Pheidoliphila ruginota. And how about the mayfly suborder Pannota?

    “I think the clue is just one of the venerable series of noise phrases that mean ‘get it from the crossings, sucker.’”

    If that’s the case, then I would prefer something obscure but particular, like the abbreviation for Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Office of Technology Assessment, Office of Territorial Affairs, or Ontario Tennis Association. Clued with enough of a nudge, obviously.

  27. pannonica says:

    mmespeer: For whatever reason, the “current puzzle” .pdf at the WSJ is “Potluck Dinner.” The other link, to the Across Lite version (with date and everything), is “Fanciful Collaborations.” Someone over there goofed and put in the puzzle from 8 Jan 2010 (!).

  28. mmespeer says:

    Oh, the curious Interwebs! Thank you, pannonica.

  29. pannonica says:

    Oh, for a bottle of Opus One, overpriced as it is.

  30. jefe says:

    Guessed at about a dozen answers on the Stumper before giving up. Only one of them, ERR, was correct.

  31. Hank says:

    Amy, I agree with your Stumper summary – short on time tonight so instead of what would have had to be a lot of Googling, I went right to the Diary to check out what few answers I put down, only half of which were right. I found myself saying “wotinhell??” far more often than usual, e.g. “15a – QANDA – never heard of it – a queer species of panda, perhaps?; 27a – DEALS TO didn’t seem right; 24a – can’t see diminishing anything represented by an S-CURVE; 48a – ST PETE – I dug AL as an American League city, but even though I live 90 miles from St. Petersburg and Tampa, I didn’t appreciate the colloquialism. Would he have said “BAHSTIN” or “NYAWK”??? I think Stan got too hinky for his own good and would have given him only two stars for this one!

  32. Hank says:

    P.S. to previous message: Does Stan own Google stock by any chance?

  33. Martin says:

    The NYT puzzles, Shortz era, have included Q AND A 17 times and ST PETE 15. Neither are obscure entries.

    Does this help you see diminishing returns?

  34. klew archer says:

    Another vote for Times tough, Stumper even tougher.

  35. Lois says:

    Since I can’t remember much of anything any more without crosses, the Beatles song was really tough for me. I couldn’t remember what the words following those in the clue were, let alone what the song was. I slept on it, fitfully, and in the morning remembered some lines leading to “Yes It Is.” For me, that is about as much fun as I can get from a Saturday puzzle, and I was really glad for it. In the end, after starting with only one answer (“Delibes,” but barely) and guessing “Because” for 1 down at first, I got about half the puzzle, considerably better than my usual Saturday results. Maybe I did try harder because of the brutal ratings here.

  36. Mike says:

    For the Newsday puzzle, AL city doesn’t refer to “Alabama” city. It refers to “American League city”. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays stadium is in St. Petersburg.

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