Saturday, 9/29/12

NYT 8:07 
Newsday 6:28 
LAT 4:01 
CS 5:28 (Sam) 
WSJ (Saturday) untimed 

Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 29 12

I find myself oddly unmoved by this puzzle. Not enchanted, not irked, not bored, not entertained. So I haven’t got a ton to say about it. Stray remarks:

  • 12d. [Earl in the Baseball Hall of Fame], AVERILL. Who?
  • 33a. [Lovers of all things Barbie, say] are GIRLIE GIRLS? That really wasn’t my first thought.
  • 23a. [Summer mountain feature], SNOWCAP? That’s all wrong. Everyone knows that word is a mandatory plural with no W.
  • 39a. [Noted rock site: Abbr.], GIB. raltar. Meh.
  • 35d. [Dutch Golden Age painter], JAN STEEN. Pretty high-end for a full-name crossword answer.
  • 36a. STRANGE BIRD, strange bird.
  • 37d. [Kings and queens, say], TWO PAIR. Card-gamy S-less plural, v. nice. Much cooler than yesterday’s ONE CARD.

A-a-and … that’s about all I’ve got in me tonight. 3.5 stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, September 29

Nothing like ending the week on a fun note. (Or, if this is more relevant to you, nothing like starting the weekend on a fun note.) Patrick Blindauer gives us four theme entries (all in the Down position, curiously), where an S has been placed atop common terms:

  • 3-Down: “Able-bodied” truns into SABLE-BODIED, [Like a weasel's cousin?]. I’m willing to bet I’m the only person around these parts who saw this answer and thought of the former professional wrestling valet, Sable. That’s the kind of high-brow circles in which I run.
  • 9-Down: Cute and cuddly “care bears” become SCARE BEARS, clued here as [Grizzlies?].
  • 26-Down: Ooh, this one’s my favorite, as a “chick flick” becomes a SCHICK FLICK, a [Movie about razors?]. Very cutting-edge, so to speak.
  • 31-Down: Cornbread, the great partner to a bowl of hot chili, turns into SCORN BREAD, a [Starch that's broken with contempt?].

Add-a-letter themes work best, I think, when both the base term and the wacky term are entertaining. This puzzle does that, as both “care bears” and “chick flick” are lively already. SCHICK FLICK is comic gold, and both SABLE-BODIED and SCARE BEARS are quite strong. So this one worked for me. Throw in triple 7s in each corner, fun entries like ACTIVIA, ALTOIDS, THELMA and Louise, P.O. BOXES, BONOBO, and even GOITER and you have another terrific puzzle.

As we expect in Patrick’s puzzles, the clues were lively too. I liked the reference to “Raider of the Lost Ark” in the clue for ASPS and to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” for ELSA. [R-V interior?] is a brilliant way to clue the letter sequence S-T-U. But my favorite clue was [It's often written in stone] for R.I.P.

But hmm, what’s this crossword’s title? It’s the last day of Name That Puzzle Month (assuming tomorrow’s puzzle is a freestyle Sunday Challenge) and I don’t think I’m any better at guessing titles or coming up with better ones than I was when I started. I’m at something of a loss here. There has to be something about the theme entries running in the Downs and not the Acrosses, so the S is atop the terms instead of at the start or to the left. Hey, that’s it–”S atop,” or S-Tops! I’m hopeful I got this one right, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick and the CS gang came up with something better.

Nailed it! (Well, close enough at least.) The real title is “S-Top,” singular not plural. A fun twist on a similar re-parsing of “STOP” from a NYT puzzle nearly four years ago.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 9 29 12

Solid puzzle overall. Am grateful that PIZZA CRUST was clued as a [Place for toppings] and not with a reference to those chains that sell pizza with abominable gobs of cheese stuffed inside the crust edges.

Least favorite answer: 62a: ALINED, [Put in a row]. I’ve never seen this non-G spelling outside of crosswords. Dishonorable mention: Two entirely unknown-to-me names, 9d: [Guitarist Ángel or Pepe] ROMERO and 58a: BENITO, [Five-time all-star catcher Santiago]. Speaking of baseball… Barry’s fellow Phillies fan Stella Daily Zawistowski noted this the other day: “Before the current baseball season started, I made the following observation. 2008, Phillies have neither Lee nor Halladay, win World Series. 2009, Phillies have Lee, lose World Series. 2010, Phillies have Halladay, lose NLCS. 2011, Phillies have Lee and Halladay, lose NLDS. And then I pessimistically predicted that in 2012, they’d have Lee, Halladay, and spend some money on the bullpen, and not make the playoffs. God, I hate being right sometimes!”

Trivia I learned: 40a. [Invention credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori circa 1700], PIANO.

Nice to see STEPHEN HAWKING in the grid, even if he doesn’t get TOP BILLING.

3.25 stars.

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 9 29 12

3.75 stars for this one.

Toughest bits:

  • 58a. [Feature of Duncan Phyfe sofas], LYRE ARMS. I am not in possession of a Duncan Phyfe sofa.
  • 19a. [Shakespearean fool], FESTE. If you knew this one, congratulate yourself for being more literate than me. (And don’t judge me for not using “than I.” I hate the sound of it.)
  • 23d. When MIT mails acceptance letters], PI DAY. That’s March 14, as in 3.14…
  • 27a. [Credit on ''A Home in the Wilderness''], IVES. Burl, the singer? Currier and Ives, printmakers? Another Ives altogether? No idea.
  • 41d. [Welsh-born couturiere], ASHLEY. Who?? Is this Laura Ashley? It is. “The Laura Ashley style is characterized by Romantic English designs—often with a 19th-century rural feel—and the use of natural fabrics.” That doesn’t scream couture to me. I got married in a white cotton Laura Ashley dress. Cost me about $150. I enjoy watching Say Yes to the Dress on TLC even though I dispute vigorously that every bride must have a gown that makes her cry and feel beautiful and matrimonial—the point of the wedding, I have always thought, was the union of two people. Not the accoutrements or the splendor of the reception. /soapbox
  • 20d. [French word for ''down''], DUVET. Didn’t know that. It is, however, time to bust out my Primaloft comforter for the season.

Over and out.

Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Rows Garden”

WSJ Saturday Puzzle, “Rows Garden” 9 29 12

Solid “Rows Garden,” as usual. Now, the typical Berry puzzle is pretty much flawless. You can argue whether having “candies” in the TOOTSIE ROLLS clue ([Chewy candies included in WWII field rations]) and CANDY-GRAM in the grid ([Sweet Western Union innovation of the 1960s]) is a flaw or just two uses of a word in one puzzle.

Didn’t know HYDRANGEA was a [Flowering plant whose name means "water vessel"]. What a curious name. I could see that for a pitcher plant, but hydrangeas?

Went awry in rows I and J, when I plugged the wrong EST-containing blossom into place and couldn’t get the J answers to work out. Turned out the one on the left was  where NESTED belonged, not BEHEST. I don’t usually fall into traps like that in Berry’s Rows Gardens.

Fave fill: CHARMED LIFE, ADAM LEVINE (you know, CEE LO GREEN is also 10 letters long), MAYNARD G. KREBS, TOOTSIE ROLLS, BAD TO THE BONE, and the DAZZLE/ZITHER blossoms with Z’s.

4.5 stars.

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19 Responses to Saturday, 9/29/12

  1. Jpeck206 says:

    Uses 25 letters-Missing only an x.

  2. Matt says:

    Relatively tough one, and hard to finish. I had a SEE/SEZ problem in the upper left corner, which led to an AVERILL-crossing-INEZ problem. Eventually got the AHA moment, but later that same day.

  3. ArtLvr says:

    re NYT: I thought a Spirograph was a type of writing instrument, so that gave me PEN at 32A , with 1D as SHOWS UP for Visits rather than STOPS AT. SNOW CAP fit nicely with those, but I had to solve all the rest of the puzzle before going back to the NE, guessing at TORONTO and fixing that section. Argh.

  4. sbmanion says:

    Tough puzzle for me. I knew Earl Averill, but frankly could not remember why. I thought for a moment that he was the 75-year-old who hit a home run in an old-timers game, but looked it up and it was Luke Appling.

    Steve

  5. Zulema says:

    Mixed feelings about the NYT. Didn’t like KEPT woman, or GIRLIE… or SEZ ME! Top was the hardest, though hard is fine. Liked ORANGE SODA, as old as yesterday’s NEDICKS.

  6. animalheart says:

    I liked this puzzle (though I also had a different first impulse for the lover of all things Barbie; more along the lines of “ironic hipster toy collector”–is there a less unwieldy term for that?). Joe Pietro has become one of the names I love seeing at the top of a Saturday puzzle.

  7. ktd says:

    Quite a challenge for me to finish this puzzle without using Google, but somehow I got it the first time I hit Done. NE and SW were the hardest parts by far. SEZ me or SEE me? “Gondoliers” nurse: INEZ or ANNA or ANNE? Jan STEEN or STEYN or STEIN? (I think I’ve seen it written all three ways). Very satisfied to have figured it all out despite the long solving time.

  8. Erik says:

    people who call spam “junk e-mail” probably still use myspace.

  9. ArtLvr says:

    Barry Silk’s LAT was fairly good, but far from one of my favorites of his. I started with the PIANO, SEPTIC and PEPPPERS.. and ended with the same dislike mentioned above for ALINED. I would have preferred fewer unfamiliar men’s names too: for example, we might have had 34A TROUT clued as “Well-known Schubert quintet’s nickname”, which ties in nicely with PIANO! On the other hand, HAZMAT was neat, and SAWHORSE amusing when one is thinking of Mace or worse!

    • Margaret says:

      I also leapt to a much uglier answer than SAWHORSE; had the SE at the end and thought, Oh no, firehose? So glad it wasn’t! I knew both baseball answers (TROUT and BENITO) but the name on a collectible toy truck (HESS) was a complete mystery to me. HESS?

  10. Jeff D says:

    In today’s CS, wouldn’t the crossing of 59-D and 66-A be perfectly valid as either an “S” or an “A”?

    Bugs = INSECTS or INSECTA
    Outdo = BEST or BEAT

    • pannonica says:

      I say no, because Insecta is exclusively a scientific term. “Bug” has both a scientific and vernacular connotation, and whereas the commonplace “bug” is a loose term which can be synonymous (i.e., interchangeable) with “insect” (which also does double duty as a vernacular and scientific word), it doesn’t hold true for the order Hemiptera (=“true bugs”) within the much vaster class Insecta.

  11. Huda says:

    NYT: The cluing made this quite hard, along with a couple to names I had no way of knowing.

    Crush=ORANGE SODA brought back memories of my first visit to China (In the mid 80′s). We were advised not to drink water unless we boiled it, to avoid it in restaurants along with ice. What they had to offer instead was their version of ORANGE SODA, except the no ice policy made it tepid and sweeter tasting. It really did not work with Chinese food. By the time I returned I was so done with that taste, I have not had Orange Soda since ( I do like everything else ORANGE :)

  12. Huda says:

    PS. GIRLIE GIRL brought to mind SNL’s Hans and Franz and all the GIRLy man talk… I hope to see that in a puzzle someday…

  13. Tuning Spork says:

    Once upon another time I knew the name of every Hall of Famer like the back of hand, and I struggled to remember Earl AVERILL. I can’t imagine that anyone but a die-hard baseball fan wouldn’t have needed every crossing for that one.

    • joon says:

      i got AVERILL off ____IL_. he’s a hall-of-famer. i know his name. can’t remember too much about him. outfielder for the indians, i want to say. (checking) apparently i was right.

  14. Todd G says:

    I wonder if anyone confused Earl AVERILL with W AVERELL Harriman? I imagine someone could be QUITE T’d off if they got the spelling wrong.

  15. Bob Bruesch says:

    Could someone please explain “suit portmanteau” = hazmat???????

    • andrea carla michaels says:

      @bob, a portmanteau is when you combine two words like smoke + fog =smog. so haz mat is from hazardous + Materials. A hazmat suit is a portmanteau.

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