Saturday, 6/30/12

LAT 7:19 
NYT 6:07 
Newsday 5:52 
CS 6:27 (Sam) 
The Week untimed (Jared) 

Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 30 12 0630, "I Got a Name"

I don’t usually end a puzzle in 1-Across, but I did this time. Nice to start/end the puzzle on a high/obscene note with the ONE-FINGER SALUTE. I like to use my pinky for that, personally. It’s fancier that way. (Although I don’t really recognize the phrase as a thing I’ve heard before, ’tis true.)

16a: CALIFORNIA GIRLS is a great answer, though the clue told me nothing. (I’m terrible at lyrics. How many of you also had no idea the song mentioned any other groups considered inferior to California women ([Hawaiian island dolls' superiors, in song])? This is Beach Boys, right? Katy Perry spells it “Gurls”?

I like 17a: A FIGHTING CHANCE. The upper triple stack strikes me as better than the bottom one. 61a: EMOTIONAL OUTLET feels sort of off to me; not sure if this is that much of a “thing.” I love the MOMENT OF INERTIA (66a) in physics because the phrase can be applied to any torpor you may be experiencing. “You go on without me—I’m having a moment of inertia.” 67a: SPARE THE DETAILS is missing its real object, the “me” who wants you to spare me the details. Yes? No? Discuss.

Some would call SAM ELLIOTT “MY DARLING,” but the burly mustache thing just doesn’t work for me.

Likes: TACO SALAD (except I usually don’t like taco salad), ATE IT, Georg SOLTI and Buck O’NEIL (an obvious pairing), and OMA! I don’t have a [German granny], but I did take German and Oma and Opa (grandpa) are German I material, super easy. It’s hogwash that we get Spanish TIO and TIA (uncle and aunt) all the dang time but almost never get the German grandparents.

Dislikes: Well, now that I look at all the stuff between the triple stacks, plus some of the crossings … I see plenty I’m underwhelmed by. An ELISA Donovan I don’t recall from Clueless despite loving the movie. Partial IF HE and could-be-clued-as-partials NOTA, NOT AS, DO I, IS ON. Crosswordese AGHAS, LIANAS, -ESE, COATI, TECS. Foreign word crossing of Italian SEI and French REINE. Insane foreign cluing of 38a: TEL, [__ quel (as is, in Arles)]. Say what? I took a year of French in college and this looks entirely unfamiliar. Not-a-thing TIE A TIE. Roman MII (aww, no Wii avatar Mii here?) Middle name OLAV. LOA with an unfamiliar Hawaiian clue, ["Aloha nui __"]. Talisa SOTO is a gimme for me, but if you weren’t going to Bond movies or reading popular magazines when License to Kill came out, you’re excused from ever having heard of her.

2.9 stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Broken Eggs” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, June 30

When you see Patrick Blindauer’s byline, you know you’re in for something unexpected and creative. Patrick constructed the hard puzzle at this year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Like most in the room, I didn’t completely solve it before time expired. Heck, I never figured out the theme. That sometimes happens to me with Patrick’s puzzles. I can usually solve them completely and yet miss a subtle layer or two that turns a good puzzle into a “wow” puzzle.

This time, I think I see the whole gimmick. In fact, I was proud of myself for figuring it out before getting to the hint in 65-Down that OVA are [Egg cells (which are broken three times in this puzzle)]. That’s because the O-V-A letter sequence is “broken” by a black square, meaning that the theme answers occupy two entries instead of the usual one:

  • 20/21-Across: [A certain Canadian] is a NOV / A SCOTIAN.
  • 39/41-Across: [Like some conditioning] clues CARDIOV / ASCULAR.
  • 56/58-Across: The [Goal of many pharmaceutical companies] is FDA APPRO / VAL.

Fun theme! Now take a moment to admire the beauty of this construction. The first and last theme entries are symmetrically placed, as one expects. But that means Patrick had to find terms with the O-V-A sequence in precise locations so that the black squares could be symmetrically paired too. That’s just awesome.

Among the highlights in the fill: NO MAYO, I’M COOL, SALVO, MEANIE, MAHALO, and AFRICA. I didn’t know MENOTTI, the ["Amahl and the Night Visitors" composer] but I feel like I have seen AMAHL in crosswords before. That name sounds to me like a cigarette brand. Call the AD MEN, the [Campaign fellows]!

Today’s favorite entry goes with today’s favorite clue: [Balance, for one] for ENERGY BAR.

Peter Gordon’s The Week crossword for July 6, 2012—Jared’s review

Peter Gordon's The Week solution 6/29/12

Peter Gordon's The Week solution 6/29/12

If I knew one thing this week it’s that Nora Ephron was guaranteed to show up in this puzzle. That tells you how this week has gone for me. (Because you don’t do the puzzle, let me be explicit – I was wrong.)

We do have a recent death memorialized in the puzzle, LEROY NEIMAN, but it’s someone I’ve never heard of;  [He was known for his paintings of sports figures in motion]. If your thing is writing full names into crossword grids then you missed out if you didn’t partake in this one. There’s also JOHN BRYSON[Commerce secretary who recently resigned] and ANN CURRY, [Today co-host reportedly on way out] and NIK WALLENDA[Acrobat who recently walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope].

Did you also think the Rodney King quote was “Can’t we all just get along?”  According to Peter, and I assume he’s right, it was CAN WE ALL GET ALONG.

This week’s winner for “common entry artificially gussied up with a hyper-current clue per the mandate of constructing a crossword puzzle for The Week” is CEO, [Jamie Dimon's title at JPMorgan Chase]. See also: NBA, [Org. whose 2012 champs are the Miami Heat] and) END[Seeking a Friend for the ___ of the World (2012 Steve Carell film)].

Other Entries With No Unifying Characteristic Other Than That I Have Something To Say About Them:

  • [Sandusky Lake], ERIE. I’m torn on whether this clue was chosen as the one among hundreds due to a very different Sandusky’s appearance in the news or if it’s just a coincidence/oversight.
  • [Travelers without reservations] is just STANDBYS. I was let down by the answer not being something clever.
  • If a beer is [More bigheaded?] it’s FOAMIER. A stretch, but fortunately these things don’t have to stand up in court.
  • [Red state], IRE. Cute. There’s precious few clues like this in The Week.  I’m surprised it didn’t have a question mark.
  • [Direction opposite ESE]. As soon as I come across this and wrote in the answer, I made a mental note that I’d mention in this write-up how it’s sometimes nice to have these “directional” clues as gimmes rather than as the direction from one obscure city to another. Yet you know what I accidentally wrote in the grid?  WNE. If you’re below a certain threshold of idiocy like I am, no clue is too easy.
  • ["____ alors!] ZUT. Huh?? Maybe I just don’t do enough crosswords but I swear I’ve never come across this before and it means absolutely nothing to me.
  • [Dog bane?] clues FLEAS. Why does this have a question mark?
  • [Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey recently threw two in back-to-back starts], ONEHITTERS, is the obligatory Peter Gordon baseball reference. This clue took me a second to parse – at first I just read it as a statement of fact.
  • [Flower in the olive family], LILAC. This confirms how little I know about vegetation. But you know what? I probably don’t know that much less than you. I don’t buy that you knew that flowers and martini garnish were this closely linked either. Unless you’re Joon Pahk or Neville Fogarty. They pretty much know eveything.
  • [Eschew the fat?], DIET. Do you see what Peter’s done here? See, “chew the fat” is a so-called in-the-language phrase. He’s altered it a bit to mean something completely different but still evoke the original expression. This is something that’s often done to produce theme answers in a themed crossword puzzle, though you’d need several (more, on a Sunday) in-the-language phrases that you can alter in a hopefully systematic fashion to create new, ideally funny/entertaining or at least mildly whimisical, phrases. That’s not what happened here though, because (a) The altered expression occcurs in the clue, not the answer, and (b) It is not part of a family of similarly altered expressions.

John Farmer’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 6 30 12

Will be quick because Comcast is supposed to come shortly and will be dislodging me from this here internet.

Tough puzzle for me, surprisingly difficult for an LA Times crossword. For you too?

Highlights:

  • 15a. [Musical flourish], GRACE NOTE. Lovely phrase, but I never realized it was also a musical thing.
  • 18a. ["Simply a patient wolf": Lana Turner], GENTLEMAN. Interesting clue. I’m going to predict that this clue/answer was one of the seeds for this puzzle.
  • 52a. [What excessive volume might do, facetiously], WAKE THE DEAD. Fun entry, especially when partnered with 11d’s ZOMBIE.
  • 59a. [1995 film based on an Elmore Leonard novel], GET SHORTY.

Tough spots:

  • 1a. ["__ & Son": "The Bullwinkle Show" feature involving morality tales], AESOP. Ridiculously out-of-the-way route to clue AESOP, if you ask me.
  • 19a. [Ones whose business is going down?], SCUBA DIVERS. Had the DIVERS part but the “business” in the clue threw me off. Are most scuba divers recreational divers or professional ones?
  • 38a. [Setting for some History Channel programs], WARTIME. I figured it would be something like PAWNSHOPS. Have you seen the History Channel’s lineup of reality programming? Pawn Stars. Swamp People. Ice Road Truckers. Where’s the history? Where’s the war?
  • 4d. [Prelude to a historic turning point], ONE B.C. Not at all an obvious clue.
  • 9d. [Some nail applications], GELS. I include this here because I bet a lot of folks will be scratching their heads at this one, but I’ve done the gels myself. More expensive, yes, but the gel polish manicure lasts for weeks without chipping.
  • 11d. [Debunked claims that don't go away], ZOMBIE LIES. Never seen this phrase before. Zombie rules, yes. Examples of zombie rules in grammar: You must never split an infinitive. You must never end a sentence with a preposition.
  • 13d. [2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Hamlin], DENNY. Never heard of him. Does that mean he peaked in his rookie year?
  • 26d. ["You Learn" singer], MORISSETTE. I know Alanis but not this song.
  • 28d. [Game named for a king], FARO. Pharaoh? Never excited to see FARO in a crossword. Have any of you ever played it? It’s a card game, right?
  • 53d. [__ blue: color named for a school], ETON. I bet fewer than 1 in 100 Americans has ever heard of Eton blue. I am a 99%er here.

Lowlights: IPANA, TAMI, OSSA, UTE (I think 99% of Americans have not encountered this as a word meaning an [All-around vehicle, briefly]), plural IZODS, one-two Euro punch of OPELS and SAS, SABU the ["Black Narcissus" actor], FARO. And NO TAKERS is all right but its awkward clue, [Fate of a bad offer], suggests that NO TAKERS is the sort of phrase that is hard to clue.

Not to mention the entire 1-Across corner. Tough clue for AESOP, obscure old IPANA, and tough clue for LIBEL ([Printing error?] feels a little cheap-trickish to me) crossing AILS with a weird clue ([Bugs]), fairly obscure SABU, tough clue for ONE BC, and vague clue for fairly obscure PALAU (could be Tonga, Nauru, or Samoa). Some of those tough clues needed to be eased up, although if you know neither SABU nor IPANA, you’re going to have a blank square calling for a random vowel no matter how easy the clues are (barring an “[anagram of A BUS]” clue).

2.9 stars. The upper left corner of quicksand drags down the rating.

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really by “Stan again”)

Newsday Saturday Stumper crossword solution, 6 30 12

Lots of good longer fill in this 72-worder:

  • 18a. [City named for a Paduan priest], SAN ANTONIO. Didn’t know that. Interesting way to clue the city.
  • 21a. [Hotel purchases], ICE BUCKETS. I like the phrase, but who buys hotel ice buckets? Is this referring to things a hotel buys, rather than things we buy at hotels?
  • 41a. [Documentary on Don Rickles], MR. WARMTH.
  • 48a. [Former world's tallest building], SEARS TOWER. Currently called Willis Tower by sticklers; shorter than the Burj Khalifa, Petronas Towers, and perhaps others.
  • 54a. [Caribou Lou's cousin], PINA COLADA. Great entry, but I had no idea what the clue was about.
  • 3d. [''Time'' called him ''Bard of the Litigious Age''], SCOTT TUROW.
  • 4d. [Hawaii honoree in National Statuary Hall], KAMEHAMEHA.
  • 8d. [Distressed], IN A BAD WAY.
  • 28d. [Standard Oil descendant], EXXONMOBIL.

Interesting clues:

  • 14a. [Its Web site has a Swim, Sports & Play page], YMCA.
  • 40a. [Big name in the stock market] KNORR. If you like making your soup stock from a powdered mix, you should probably look into recipes for making it from scratch.
  • 43a. [Element of change], COIN.
  • 45a. [Land on the Bay of Bengal], MYANMAR. Had me perplexed. Didn’t realize that so much of Southeast Asia is on the Indian Ocean. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.
  • 1d. [Prefix like E-], CYBER. E-tail and cybersex, but never cybertail or e-sex.
  • 2d. [Opposite of ''odio''], AMORE. Italian for hate and love.
  • 40d. [Travel franchise with a tepee logo], KOA. Although who goes kamping in a tepee?
  • 45d. [George Cross, for one], MEDAL. “Who is George Cross?” you may be asking. The highest civil decoration in the U.K., Wikipedia tells me.

Lowlights: RUHR is blah and a gazillion people who aren’t rappers wear DO-RAGs, but overall this fill is super-smooth.

Four stars.

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32 Responses to Saturday, 6/30/12

  1. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Also like the top much better than the bottom, but mainly because the bottom took me about three times longer than the top. Emotional outlet–a bit blah. Fun puzzle though. Clever 49a clue. Never heard of Soto.

    Tel Quel is not a French idiom which trips naturally off the tongue, BUT–it was the name of a famous French left-wing magazine during the turbulent 60′s–a Forum for all those radical French structuralists, deconstructionists; rabble rousing, incomprehensible intellectuals of all sorts; Maoists, angry revolting, striking students; grevistes and chomeurs (strikers and unemployed), Danny the Red (Daniel Cohn-Bendit) etc. etc. Those were the days! — The French actually knew how to run a proper social uprising! :-) Tel Quel is analogous to the American expression “telling it like it is.” I’m surprised that context didn’t make its way into the clue, since it’s the only claim to fame for that idiom. I wonder if Tim and WS know about it.

  2. Gareth says:

    8 Minutes on 12 squares!!! Although the problem turned out to be having CasE not CONE. Cunning! SOLT(I)/(ONEI)L/NOTA(S) was what had me stymied… Always nice to have a COATI in the grid, especially refencing a kinkajou in the clues… Really liked the 3 answers in the top stack, yes the one I got pretty quickly. Also MYDARLING and PERSIANCATS

  3. Brad Wilber says:

    My self-edited puzzle for June now up on Island of Lost Puzzles. Thanks for checking it out. Kudos to Tim and John Farmer for their fine work that got my day off to a great start….

  4. Huda says:

    Did you all know that oniOn soup has as many letters as TACOSALAD? It worked perfectly well in the cross with SACROILIAC, and of course you can eat that hollowed out french bread bowl that some serve it in. You could have yourself a feast with the two dishes without leaving a trace.

    I zipped through the top, did well enough in the bottom and definitely struggled in the middle. So much crosswordese to still get under my belt! TECs? The Electric Company? Thyroid Epithelial Cell? Total Electron Content? How does TECs relate to fictional detectives who happen to be tools?

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Huda, I too welcome you with your secret identity revealed.

    ‘Tec’ is slang for a detective, especially a tough guy, fictional, Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Mike Hammer type. (Raymond Chandler rules, for sure.)

  6. ArtLvr says:

    Started with SACROILIAC and saw I had A FIGHTING CHANCE! It still took ages to finish. I’m partial to PERSIAN CATS, but tried first for something classical, and also took a stab at koala before COATI. MOP was my favorite (head may be stuck in a bucket), but there was much I disliked, such as the LOA clue. TECS from the Sam Spade era not a problem, even if mainly seen in xwords these days! SAM ELLIOT was unknown to me though.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    (As in deTECtive, Huda. Total crosswordese, if you ask me. I’ve only ever seen the word in crosswords. It may appear in detective stories, but it sure as heck has not passed into the vernacular the way sleuth and private eye have.)

  8. Martin says:

    Tec is in-the-language for lovers of mystery. It’s in the same category as “shamus” and “gumshoe.” A bit dated but evocative.

  9. Huda says:

    Aaaah! Thanks for the clarification, Amy and Bruce! the deTECtive will help it stick!

    My favorite detective meaning expression is gumshoe. I remember reading these novels as a teenager in Damascus and trying to figure out slang expressions on my own. No one around me had a clue and of course no internet in the dark ages. For a long time, I thought gumshoe meant they had gum stuck to the bottom of their shoes, indicating that they went into dark alleys… Had to make up something!

    re Tel Quel– I agree with Bruce that it’s not a very common idiom. I did not know about that magazine. Sounds both very interesting and impossible! While the clue “as is” is technically right, it does not fully capture the main connotation of the expression. I would translate into “such as it is” (tel= such; quel= qu’il est= as it is). It has the implication of good and bad mixed in, and you get to deal. See a French shrug while you’re hearing it. So, for a magazine, it would mean, as Bruce said, Telling it Like it Is.

  10. Jan says:

    Small victory with Peter Gordon’s The Week puzzle (besides knowing zut alors!); I got more of the puzzle to print on one page! I hit the print button, then canceled the automatic dialog box that came up, and then right clicked so I could “print image”. Only a couple of lines at the bottom didn’t print, being overlaid by the jpg address. Going with the automatic print feature makes about a third of the clues go to a second page.

  11. sbmanion says:

    I found Saturday’s puzzle to be fairly easy and Friday’s to be very difficult.

    I learned a great new word today: DERECHO. The golf tournament is cancelled until 1:00 and no spectators will be allowed on the course for possibly the first time ever at a PGA tour event. The cause was last night’s derecho, apparently a tornado in a straight line:

    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/stories/rare-derecho-storm-sweeps-across-the-midwest

    Had anyone ever heard that before?

    Steve

  12. Martin says:

    My sister in Olney, MD has been on the road trying to get to my mother in Chevy Chase for a couple of hours. It’s normally a 25 minute drive. Half of Connecticut Avenue (a major arterial) is blocked with downed trees and poles. Nobody has power or telephone service.

    I read about the derecho last night when I got online to see why I couldn’t stream Netflix. (They use the Amazon cloud server in northern VA.) I had known the word but haven’t seen it used in many years.

    I love how the climate change deniers lay low when the predicted severe summer storms materialize. They will undoubtedly be back to mock the (also predicted) severe blizzards next winter, which somehow prove there’s no climate change.

  13. Jenni Levy says:

    I have heard the word DERECHO because I am married to a weather nerd. Scary stuff in the DC area last night, and sweaty times today. My sympathy.

    Today’s Stumper did not stump me, which is really unusual. Stan usually has me scratching my head for hours, but I did this one while I ate lunch at work. I was very proud of myself for putting in SCOTT TUROW with only one of the Ts filled it. That’s my favorite puzzle of the day, although ONE-FINGER SALUTE (which I have heard, although less often than middle-finger salute) made the NYT entirely worth it. I found both the NYT and LAT easier than average today.

  14. pannonica says:

    I only know of derecho as “right” in Spanish, as opposed to izquierda (“left”).

  15. Jeff Chen says:

    I’m usually an anti-triple stack puzzle person, but I really liked this one. Fun answers, not too much crud weighing things down. Yep, a couple of awkward spots, but I thought it was well worth it.

    Jeff

  16. Jared says:

    Jan, bless your heart for doing The Week.
    I always get it to print on one page as follows: save the puzzle as a .jpg, then print it, having UNchecked the option “fit page to frame”.

  17. Martin says:

    As an adverb, derecho means “straight ahead,” which is the sense we borrow for the linear storm front.

    In French, droit/droite also means “right” or “straight ahead.” Southpaws get the message that they’re odd.

  18. pannonica says:

    Oh yes, I knew but forgot about that adverbial sense. Seems reasonable to describe a storm in that light.

  19. Jeff Chen says:

    Wow, agree on the difficulty of the LAT! ZOMBIE LIES sounds fun, but I hadn’t heard of it before.

  20. pannonica says:

    The Week: Couldn’t you just right-click on the image, open it in a new tab, then print that page? And select “shrink to fit” if necessary?

  21. Martin says:

    Putting on my constructor’s hat for a minute…

    The crossing ten and eleven letter entries are a really good feature of this grid… opening up the middle area nicely.

    MAS

  22. Bob Bruesch says:

    Give me a break! “Zombie Lies”??????(LAT def: “debunked claims”) Where did Farmer dream up that one? Now that I know its political overtones, I shall use it!! It’ll drive my colleagues crazy!!!

  23. Jordan says:

    The Saturday Stumper (and a Stan, no less!) was ridiculously easy.
    Come on – we need more hard puzzles, not fewer.

  24. Jan says:

    Thanks Jared and pannonica – I’ll try that next week!

    Jordan – I agree about the Stumper. I’m always disappointed when it’s that easy.

  25. John Haber says:

    I liked this one a lot, even if I didn’t know Sam Elliott. I’d wrong turns and didn’t think I even ha a foothold, and it took as long as usual, but it all felt solvable.

    As a former physics student, I was surprised how hard Euler’s contribution turned out to be, so a gap in my history. Because of something in advanced courses and associated with the 19th century called the Euler-Legrange equation, I kept trying to fit “Lagrangian” in there somewhere. It has to do with the shortest way from here to there, and it was an inspiration for Richard Feynman’s version of quantum mechanics in the 20th century. But here it turns out he contributed to something older and more basic, about the whole idea of making something rotate, like pliers.

  26. Amy Reynaldo says:

    We had a derecho in Chicago a few years ago. 80 mph straight-line winds, whoooosh, there go the trees. That was the same storm that removed the rooftop pool enclosure from a nearby highrise (~20 stories) and deposited it in Lake Shore Drive. And we used to have some skinny elm trees beside my building–the winds didn’t damage the trees, but did encourage the trees to batter the ceramic roof caps on that edge of the building.

    “Derecho” would be a good nickname for a boxer who plows over his or her opponents like straight-line hurricane-force winds.

  27. reybo says:

    In John Farmer’s LA Times puzzle for 6/30, can someone explain how the clue “printing error?” leads to LIBEL? Thanks. rey@cstone.net

  28. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I’m astounded by all the negativity about John’s LAT. I thought it was just fine. A lot of original, different, quirky, non-cookie cutter, non-routine vocabulary and references. Nor did I think it was all *that* difficult. Certainly not as hard as the other puzzles today. I didn’t know there was any context other than musical for “grace note.” Faro is similar to baccarat. Both boring, dumb games. I’m not that much of an old film buff, but Sabu appeared in lots of films with people like Errol Flynn. I don’t recognize zombie lie or the Hawaiian dude either. But I still thought this was the most *interesting* puzzle of the day (and that is not to disparage the others.) Well–I’m too tired to write a thorough brief for the puzzle, but I liked it a lot.

  29. sbmanion says:

    Libel is written defamation. Certain types of mistakes in print could be libelous. Suppose someone made a mistake and said that someone had AIDS. That would be libelous per se.

    Steve

  30. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Never heard of “tel quel” before, either the expression or the magazine, but coincidentally I ran across an apparent Latin cognate “tal qual” while checking whether m-w.com knows of the late Mikhail TAL, whose one-year reign as world champion of chess was a boon to crossword constructors. (No TAL in the dictionary, though boxer ALI is recognized.) I see that there’s also a Portuguese magazine Tal & Qual.

  31. Jordan says:

    The L.A. times puzzles have – as a broad generalization with plenty of exceptions – suffered from a lack of rhythm for about a year now, and today’s was one of the scratchier examples. Just not a lot of flow and not because they’ve been hard in any enjoyable way, just kind of stop-and-start.

  32. reybo says:

    LA Times … As for “printing error” being libel, in the real world errors aren’t treated as such. I agree with the negative criticism heaped on this puzzle. I’d agree with more.

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