Saturday, 9/22/12

NYT 5:52 
Newsday 5:49 
LAT 3:56 
CS 7:05(Sam) 

Via the charmingly wry Jeffrey L. Schwartz (who has won this event a few times), the results of Friday night’s Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament are in:

1st: Thomas Weisswange (perfect)
2nd: Glen Ryan (fast, one mistake)
3rd: Jeffrey L. Schwartz (slow, one mistake)

Congrats to all three! I haven’t seen any photos of the event yet, but I assume the on-the-whiteboards final round involved the competitors being pelted with ping-pong balls. How could that opportunity be passed up now that the tournament is in its new home at Will Shortz’s own Westchester Table Tennis Center?

Kristian House’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 9 22 12 0922

I learned a new word tonight. Or maybe an old word. 4d: [Section between crossbeams] is a TRAVE? All right, then. I checked two dictionaries and neither had it; googling it brought me definitions from McGraw-Hill specialty dictionaries. Huh.

This puzzle is a mash-up between zippy, fun fill and some decidedly “meh” material. Thumbs up to FESTIVUS, the pairing of “GET A ROOM!” with PDA (public display of affection this time, not personal digital assistant), SASQUATCH and his SACK LUNCH, PUNK ROCK (friend of mine just saw Iggy Pop at Riot Fest in Humboldt Park last weekend, and I enjoyed the “iguana” descriptor in that Greg Kot review), AVENUE Q, FIRE TRUCK, UNGODLY ([Way too early] is a great clue for that), RWANDA, and the chicken/egg combo of FEAR and ROE. Also liked the POTATO/SPUD combo.

Thumbs drooping sadly for ENLAI with a clue that portended more ([Important name in Chinese history]), ECO clued as a [Prefix with consumer] (huh? haven’t seen that one), YEO ([Naval petty officer, briefly]), NGO, SET A, and UDO.

3.33 stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, September 21

Today’s puzzle offers this [quip about the future]: IF HEAVEN ISN’T THE / PLACE I WILL GO / AT LEAST I’LL BE / WITH PEOPLE I KNOW. I know many readers are of the opinion that you’ll also find quip puzzles there, too. I suspect this puzzle will garner some 1-star ratings, only because every time we see a quip or quotation theme, we see some 1-star votes. (The same is true for rebus puzzles, I should add, though it appears to me that the anti-rebus faction is significantly smaller than the anti-quipsters.) I would hope we could be a little more tolerant. Though this particular puzzle may not merit four (or even three) stars–we’ll get to why in the next paragraph–we ought to get over the notion that a certain type of puzzle is automatically trash. We may decide not to solve it, and I’m not saying we have to enjoy it. But we ought not hate on it just because the gimmick itself doesn’t excite us. Hate on the merits, people, not the form.

That said, the quip here didn’t reach through the screen and tickle me. (If it did, though, I would probably seek therapy–nothing ought to be reaching through my screen in the first place.) It’s not attributed to anyone, so I’m assuming it’s not an exact quotation. That gives the constructor leeway to play with the wording so that it breaks symmetrically. (Remember, good crossword quips must break symmetrically or they’re a no-go out of the chute.) In this case, though, the manipulation is all too apparent. We have “I will” and “I’ll” in the same sentence, and that’s a little jarring to the ear. If the quip is intended to be poetic, the first half has an extra syllable (thanks to the “I will”) that throws off the cadence. Ultimately, the whole “the place I will go” part just doesn’t work for me. “If heaven isn’t where I’ll go,” “If heaven isn’t where I’m headed,” “If heaven isn’t where I end up”–those all flow smoothly. Is “where” the key component that’s missing? Eh, I’m over-thinking it. The bottom line is that it just feels too arbitrary.

The fill has an array of interesting nuggets like VOTIVE, SEND-UPS, ICHIRO (though the clue, [Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners] is now outdated, alas), AT HEART and DIET POP (will anyone complain that it’s “diet soda?”). But then there’s OWS, ALT (as in “altitude,” not the model or the keyboard key), RENTA, H-TEST, and, most glaringly, SATRAP, the [Persian governor]. Someone needs to build a better satrap.

Okay, so it’s anyone guess in today’s installment of Name That Puzzle Month, the game where I try to guess the puzzle’s title. I notice that the clue introducing the quip refers to the future, so I’m thinking the title has “future” in it. Future Plans might work. Too bad we can’t repeat key words from the quip in the title, for I like Oh The Places I Won’t Go. So I guess I’ll stick with Future Plans as my guess.

Nope. The title is “We’ll Meet Again,” which I like much better than my guess. (That’s been the dominant theme of this month’s game, convincing me it’s best to leave the titling to the experts.)

Finally, two interesting missteps. I kept wanting SHAGS for [Goes after flies] at 1-Across, but the answer was SWATS. But my favorite error was my guess for what proved to be STEP, the [Notable first for a baby]. I only had the P in place when I got to this clue, and the only answer I could think of was POOP. I still like my guess.

Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 9 22 12

Happy birthday, Brad!

I enjoyed this puzzle. It’s fairly packed with proper nouns and pop culture, which means some solvers will find it unfair but (since I nailed the names) I found it fun and on the easy side.

My top 6 entries:

  • 1a. COCOA BEACH with a TV-from-my-childhood clue, [Florida city with an I Dream of Jeannie Lane].
  • 33a. I DON’T CARE, ["No difference"]. I like the first half of this animated video and the last 15 seconds, but not the profanity-laden anger portion in between. (Executive summary: Customer asks for iPhone 4, back when it was brand-new; cannot be dissuaded despite technical superiority of an alternative device. Answers every point with “I don’t care.”)
  • 56a. Full name #1, ROGER MARIS, [First ballplayer to hit 50 home runs before the end of August].
  • 59a. TWO PRINCES, [Titular guys in a 1993 Spin Doctors hit]. Needed tons of crossings to get past wanting JIMMY OLSEN, who is one guy, and LITTLE MISS Can’t Be Wrong, who is not guys at all.
  • 14d. ROSIE PEREZ! [She played Spike Lee's girlfriend in "Do the Right Thing"], and I love her. Also, full name #2.
  • 26d. TRIX RABBIT, [Devious General Mills spokescritter]. Silly rabbit! Kicks are for trids.

Also good: WITNESS BOX, AXIS SALLY, HEXAGON, OUTWITS, TIME TRAVEL.

Among the less familiar names are these ones:

  • 18a. [Matadors of the '70s], AMCS. They’re cars from AMC.
  • 21a. [Pope before Hilarius], LEO I. It would be so funny if I’d named my son that.
  • 25a. ["Birdman of Alcatraz" Robert __] STROUD.
  • 47a. [Six-Day War statesman], crosswordese Abba EBAN. Perched atop ABBE here just to mess with us.
  • 3d. League of Women Voters organizer], CATT.Carrie Chapman Catt.
  • 43d. SHERRI [Shepherd of "The View"]. Famous if you watch the show, not so famous if you don’t.
  • 49d. [Eponymous hardware store founder Lucius] LOWE. As in the big-box chain, Lowe’s.

Low notes: -STER, -ASE, I GOT, HAWSES ([Bow parts with anchor cable openings]), ESSE.

Four stars from this pop culture fan/lover of names in crosswords.

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (written under pen name Anna Stiga)

Newsday crossword solution, 9 22 12 “Saturday Stumper”

This puzzle is like 28a: OATMEAL ([Bath that soothes sunburn]). Not plain oatmeal, not oversweetened instant oatmeal. Good steel-cut oatmeal with tasty nuts and fruit mixed in, a solid and wholesome breakfast. The puzzle is easier than a lot of Stumpers, and it goes down smooth. It’s not aggressively showy, but it’s got some bright notes.

My favorite parts:

  • 31a. [Stuck together], IN THE SAME BOAT. Good idiom.
  • 37a. [Shared experiences], COMPARED NOTES. I like the mislead of the clue reading like a noun phrase.
  • 43a. ["The Soul of a Butterfly" autobiographer], ALI. Nice trivia clue for the legendary boxer.
  • The key one-two punch. 55a: [Key that won't work alone], CTRL, and 55d: [French word for "key"], CLEF.
  • 8d. [Meryl Streep, circa 1974], ELI. Trivia clue. I didn’t realize/remember that she went to Yale.
  • 9d. [Coin depicting a springbok], RAND. You know why I like this one? Because I grew up loving Springbok jigsaw puzzles. Hey! They’re back. I am partial to the ones that are photos of a whole bunch of things arranged close together, like this. I just wish I still had time for jigsaw puzzles. I have one or two I haven’t had a chance to open. If you’re a jigsaw puzzle fanatic and you have a big budget, check out Stave Puzzles, handcrafted wooden puzzles that will mess with your mind. Stave’s smallest Tidbit puzzles are $75, while the Limited Editions have four-figure prices.
  • Wow, I just spent at least 20 minutes looking at jigsaw puzzles online. Where was I?
  • 12d. [Gum-bound product], LEGAL PAD. Not spiral-bound.
  • 23d. [Blew up], GOT MAD. Past tense, ends with a D … does not end with -ED.

Four stars.

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17 Responses to Saturday, 9/22/12

  1. LAURENCE N. WALKER says:

    Found “trave” in my OED (2 volume version).
    Didn’t know that colcannon was made with cabbage and potato, but wasn’t surprised.

  2. Gareth says:

    Another surprisingly easy but nevertheless fun themeless puzzle. Had 3/4 done in 6 minutes… At least the middle-left and bottom left had to be fought over! Quickly got the sense of 41A but never heard of the phrase so I made up pACKLUNCH, also wanted MENACE to be some kind of ACt. 58A was so easy, but blow me down if I could figure it out off ED! A Small area but no traction! All I know about FEAR/ROE is if you say them together you get a Pokemon!

  3. Tuning Spork says:

    TRAVE? That’s a word straight out of the Maleska puzzles that I’ve been immersed in, lately.

    Really, Kristian? TRAVE?

    TRAVE?!

    That said, I’ve looked at the surrounding area and there’s no way that I can conceive (of) (nor a way of which I can conceive), (of) improving it. The seed entries were too cool, and the crossings were too solid to allow anything but TRAVE to exist in the same universe.

    So, TRAVE away. I think we’ll survive.

  4. Dook says:

    Never heard the term PDA. Has anyone else?

  5. Ruth says:

    I’d rather see Trave clued with a partial– I’m thinking ________Lodge (seeing that name on the motel signs somehow always irks me but here it’s better than the alternative)

  6. Huda says:

    NYT, I though it was good as I was solving, and better than good when I looked at it afterwards, for all the reasons that Amy enumerated– GET A ROOM being the chuckle-inducing part of the puzzle.

    SASQUATCH painfully arose from some deep recess of some cortical gyrus, but I still had nooo idea what it was until I post googled it.

    I got really stuck in the West, because I had fAstLUNCH crossy spiffY (for Fancy, in lieu of DRESSY). That crossing F seemed secure enough, and of course, it was Wrong, Try Again.

    I need to go find that FESTIVIUS episode. It sounds like a hoot.

  7. Zulema says:

    I was stuck in that western area for a while because my first entry for the schools setting was OCEAN rather than REEF, compounded by entering MENACE on the wrong line, courtesy of UNGODLY early morning lighting. TRAVE is in Webster’s III but is the third definition, the second one being “crossbeam.” The first is an enclosure for a horse while it’s being shod.

    The PDA abbrev. was unknown to me.

  8. RK says:

    Liked LAT, CS and NYT. As is often the case, the more trivia you know the easier some puzzles fall. (I’m looking at you NYT.) Never heard PDA, CRAKE or TRAVE , but I really have a problem with SET A course. I suppose the creator needed something but it just seems silly and cheap, especially since I had to fight that corner which had FESTIVUS, UDO, TRAVE, FOGG.

    IT GIRL, UNGODLY, SISTERHOOD AND SASQUATCH were nice. SACK LUNCH was good as well but is that term still used?

  9. Margaret says:

    I definitely enjoyed the LAT today. In addition to the examples already referenced (especially TWOPRINCES and COCOABEACH) I really liked 15A ADAMSAPPLE and its clue. The fresh clues made the commonplace ALOU, ORCS, ADELE and ODIE much more worthwhile. Also, Doctor Who! All in all, very sparkly. Thanks.

  10. janie says:

    also in westchester, poster (and fabulous solver) jan o’sullivan took home the “rookie of the year” award. in so many ways, this is a sweetheart of an event — lively, friendly, fun — and it benefits a terrific local charity to boot. judging from from the number of smaller, local competitions that have cropped up all over the country, seems to be a bit of a trend-setter as well. smartly done, pleasantville!

    ;-)

  11. ===Dan says:

    Until the official photos come out, here are some random snaps (look for the “slideshow” link, or Picasaweb):
    https://picasaweb.google.com/115764774177092146454/WestchesterCrosswordPuzzleTournament?authuser=0&feat=directlink

  12. ArtLvr says:

    I had in fact heard of PDA as public display of affection, but expect it was a generational thing — ’70′s?
    If you had friends or relatives who were gay, the elders wouldn’t exclude them but no one was to make a big deal of it one way or another…
    Guessed TRAVE from architrave.

  13. Jeff says:

    “Charmingly wry,” I love it!

    I’ve won the WCPT only once, but I always have a good time, with or without peltings.

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