Saturday, 10/6/12

NYT 4:52 
Newsday 6:08 
LAT 4:27 (Andy) 
CS 6:21 (Sam) 
WSJ (Saturday) AWOL 

Steve Salitan’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 10 6 12 1006

Nice triple stacks with smooth crossings, but some of what comes between the 15s is less elegant. I CANNOT TELL A LIE is fun, “MONEY FOR NOTHING” is a good song (though its F-word certainly has worn very poorly since the early ’80s), PRIVATE ENTRANCE is solid, ONE-CELLED ANIMAL is plain old science, CALCULATING MIND is fun, and while ANTIPERSPIRANTS are rather … dry, I like the brand-name clue, [Sure things]. Among the stacks’s crossings, I’m partial to Diana NYAD, ballet TOE SHOES, TREMORS clued as [No great shakes], TAPIOCA, HAMLETS, and Justice BRENNAN.

I like “WHO IS?” clued as a question in [Response to "Hey, I'm not perfect"], and as a child of ’80s music (see above), I like 28d: [Cellulose fiber brand] ARNEL because Arnel Pineda is the name of the sounds-just-like-Steve-Perry lead singer Journey has now. (He’s the Filipino guy the band found via his YouTube covers of Journey songs.)

Not fond of [Turkey __, slugger in the Baseball Hall of Fame]; is Turkey STEARNES actually famous? Such an unusual spelling of the name, too, which makes that a tough entry for non-HOF-obsessives. Haven’t seen ABRI, the [Shelter-providing dugout], for a while; old crosswordese. ENURE gets a [Toughen: Var.] clue with the dreaded “variant” tag. I did not know you could have plural ENNUIS, though its neighboring LOTTS at least is clued as an actual family of Lotts.

3.25 stars.

Peter A. Collins’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Andy’s Review

Peter A. Collins’ LAT crossword 10.6.12

Hi all! I’m Andy Kravis! For those who don’t know me, I’m a third-year law student, a regular solver, and an avid reader of this blog. I’m psyched to announce that I’m joining Team Fiend as the Saturday LAT blogger! And seeing as today is Saturday (and, indeed, the LAT decided once again to publish a crossword today), it looks like I’m up.

This was a breezy yet Scrabbly Saturday puzzle. (Pangrammatic? No, looks like there’s no V.) Plunked down PATISSERIE [Seller of beignets and éclairs] at 1-Across and never looked back. ARNO, SUN, INRE, and ESSES gave me the the somewhat-awkwardly-clued DRAGQUEENS [Men in dress clothes?]. A topical entry for me, given that I’ve been reading up on drag and gender-nonconforming modes of dress for a Queer Legal Theory seminar I’m taking, including a fascinating piece by Kelly Kleiman comparing drag to blackface, and one by Bennett Capers considering the bias-revealing power of imagining criminal defendants in different garb. Sorry for the editorializing, but as they say: You mess with the bull, you get queer theory.

Moving right along, the NW fell pretty swiftly, as did the center. Alaska may not have a KMART, but it does have a Walmart. Fellow law students should have recognized the YAZOO land crisis from a little case called Fletcher v. Peck, the Z from which makes BAZAAR a gimme. TOGOUT was new to me — I kept wanting it to be “tog(ged) up.” Is this phrase in any of your lexica?

Swiftly down into the SE, where LORRE and TERN gave that corner some gluey crosswordese. Surprised not to see TROP clued as the French word, but given that the constructor is Peter Collins, also not surprised to see a baseball clue in LIEU of that [Rays' home field, familiarly, with "The"]. Loved the HOLYTERROR/SPEEDDEMON stack, especially with the tricky clue for the latter [One with a passing interest?].

Backed my way into the SW, where TEaTOTALER was a gimme. What’s that, you say? It’s TEETOTALER? Huh. Who knew that the “tee” in “teetotaler” comes from the letter T and not the beverage tea? Not I, that’s who. Eventually got that straightened up with some good ol’ pecan PIE, and got out of that corner. Then, in the NE, JEM Finch took some URANIUMORE from a DISTRACTED scientist (Bill NYE, maybe?). He is, to my knowledge, still ONTHELOOSE.

I had a good time solving this sucker. The mini-theme with the two symmetrical SQU- entries (SQUEAKYCLEAN and SQUAREDANCED) was a cute bonus. Some of the short fill was… not my favorite (see, e.g., TANA [Ethiopia's largest lake], EDE [City East of Utrecht], SOARE, clued as well as possible at least ["___ they all, all honorable men": "Julius Caesar"], the crosswordese bird cousins ERNE & TERN, and the aforementioned TOGOUT), but the other fill was mostly unobjectionable.

3.75 stars from me. See you all next week!

Updated Saturday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Beheadings” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, October 6

In cryptic puzzles, “beheadings” refers to words that have lost their initial letters. In this puzzle, though, BE- has been added to the start of five common terms. So we have “BE-headings,” so to speak. Here are your theme entries:

  • 16-Across: An inevitability we all fear, “rate hikes,” becomes BERATE HIKES, to [Put down long walks?].
  • 23-Across: Another fear, a “foreclosure,” turns into BEFORE CLOSURE, clued as [Prior to a final resolution?]. This one’s inconsistent with the others in the sense that it turns one word into two words. Whether that’s bad is up to the reader.
  • 35-Across: The jazz standard, Tiger Rag, also known as Hold That Tiger, changes here to BEHOLD THAT TIGER, clued as ["Get a load of the big cat over there!"]. Interesting how the usual “?” assigned to the end of a theme clue in a wordplay puzzle is missing here.
  • 46-Across: Why just “set the stage” when you can BESET THE STAGE and be known as one who [Caused trouble for Broadway?]? See? Double punctuation isn’t all that hard.
  • 57-Across: It’s one thing to “come clean,” but it’s just as important to BECOME CLEAN, like say, [Take a shower, e.g.?].

The section that slowed me down today was all around the [Hot month in Marseilles]. French and I have a tepid working relationship on our best days, so if it ain’t ETE, I’m out. I needed a lot of crossings to get both BEFORE CLOSURE and BEHOLD THAT TIGER, so it wasn’t like the entries immediately surrounding the French month were gimmes for me. Eventually, though, I got AOUT

I know I’ve seen AOUT in crosswords before, and I know I’ll see it again. And I get the whole three-vowels-in-four-letters thing makes it much more attractive than it should be. But it’s just not attractive, no matter how much we might wish it so. You know when you have to rationalize your attraction to the person you just started dating? Yeah, he’s got a bunch of cold sores, but they really make his teeth look so white. There, as here, you have to know it’s better simply to stop it. C’mon people, we don’t have to rationalize AOUT. It’s ugly, we know it, and if we let it happen without saying anything, it, like the cold sores, will just come back. Let’s just agree to stop it.

But I digress.

Highlights in the fill here include LET OFF, DISMOUNT, BAD AT, RASCAL, and DR. NO. One I certainly can’t include in the list, though, is LIFTABLE, [Like carry-on luggage]. Two problems with that: (1) who in blazes says “liftable?” No, grandma, let me get the heavy suitcase and you take this lighter one. It’s more liftable. (2) As a somewhat-frequent flyer, I can tell you first-hand that too many people with carry-on bags cannot in fact lift them into the overhead bins. The guilty parties, of course, are the airlines imposing bag fees, not the passengers. What I blame passengers for is throwing small stuff like purses, scarves, and small bags into the overhead bins while never making use of the space underneath the seat in front. Those people suck! If I was an air marshal, I’d haul them off the flight and revoke their flying privileges for one year. The overhead bins are for the larger things, people. Harumph.

Man, I’m cranky today. So while I’m at it, I guess, one more thing. ["It's clear, bro"] is the clue for I DIG. Come again? It’s clear, you say? Should that be “cool?” And while we’re here…bro? I would think “cat” or “man” would be a little more apt for the intended vibe. Now get off my lawn!

Favorite entry = BIRDBATHS, the [Robins' rest stops]. Favorite clue = [Greets the visiting team] for BOOS. Not a lot of great clues from which to choose a favorite, I must say, but this one works well to my ear.

Lester Ruff (aka Stan Newman)’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 10 6 12 “Saturday Stumper”

I am out of time for blogging! Oh, no! We’re meeting Evad and his crew for brunch in 57 minutes, and I need to shower as well as walk to the restaurant, and it’s about 20 minutes away.

Glad to see CB RADIOS clued as a retro thing, which they pretty much are. Do truckers still use them?

This 72-worder is pretty smooth. SASSAFRAS makes a nice bottom-row answer–lots of S’s, yesss, but zero E’s or NTLRD’s.

Seeing ED MEESE made me laugh because of what Matt Gaffney wrote about that political crosswordese name in his recent Politico essay.

Four stars. Over and out. 10-4, good buddy.

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23 Responses to Saturday, 10/6/12

  1. Huda says:

    On the easy side of Saturday based on my own time, and my Quick & Dirty Index puts it more like an Easy-Medium Friday. For a minute, I thought I was getting pretty good… oh well.

    I agree it was well constructed, but some of the cluing was pretty straightforward, e.g now-NEVER, the ALBUMIN clue, etc. The CALCULATING MIND cluing, in particular, felt like a missed opportunity. My favorite was the clue for ANTIPERSPIRANTS.

    Knowing French was very helpful with ABRI and SONDE (took a stab and they turned out right!).
    I’d cry foul re ENNUIS in English. The plural is fine in French, but it takes on a different meaning– it would mean troubles, headaches, and not the sense of lassitude that’s the particular meaning of that word that has spilled into English. We would not make “anomie” plural either.

  2. RK says:

    Always a pleasure to read Huda’s comments.

    Crossing of ARNEL, STEARNES, ARIES was too much for me. COMTE, SONDE as well.

    Was LA harder than NY?

    • Huda says:

      Thanks, RK…:) I usually post late in the evening and by next morning I hope I haven’t said anything crazy. So I appreciate it!

  3. ArtLvr says:

    A hearty welcome to Andy Kravis as Sat LAT reviewer, and I enjoyed your debut above! I can’t say that I found a big difference in difficulty between the NYT and LAT — maybe the NYT was a shade tougher, with Turkey Stearnes? Weird.
    I hope we’ll hear more about your law school courses too… Right now I’m engrossed in a TV panel of experts discussing the Supreme Court’s history in dealing with human rights lawsuits. Never heard of the Alien Tort Statute before, but it’s been around for 200 years!

  4. Donna L says:

    Re the NYT, I’m just curious how others reacted to ANIMA, ANIMATE and …ANIMAL all in the same grid. Does the pleasing grid design and overall fill make the duplicated string a non-issue?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I didn’t even notice them. Although all three share the same roots, inside my head the ANIMAL occupies a distinct area apart from animation and the breath/soul ANIMA. But now that you’ve brought it to my attention, I’m not a fan of the 3x ANIMA*.

  5. pauer says:

    Well done, Steve! I got stumped on the [Sure things] clue for longer than I care to admit – and there is some tricky stuff in there for sure, but hey: it’s Saturday. Thanks for the brain strain before I get ready for apple-picking day!

  6. pannonica says:

    Welcome to the team, Andy! Nice début write-up.

    And on the subject of the LAT:

    YAZOO may be well-known to some as a record label issuing classic country blues and other early Americana music, including some jaw-dropping compilations. It’s also the name of a river, county, city, and more, in Mississippi.

    I’ve never made that specific comparison between DRAG QUEENS and blackface performers, but it agrees with my long- and strongly-held view that the practice and culture is vehement and barely (if at all) concealed misogyny which, amazingly, most people (including women) fail to grasp. The caricatures are typically extreme and hurtful. Needless to say, this assessment isn’t to be conflated with cross-dressing or transgender issues.

    Oh, and I lamely tried to squish BOULANGERIE in at 1-across. I should know better than that, what with the éclairs and beignets and Paris-Brests and whatnot.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Indeed: Welcome, Andy; well played; I, too, had never seen a drag/blackface comparison. I will say that embracing the extreme of performed femininity does nothing to ease society’s pressure on women to adhere to the whole dress/makeup/cleavage/hairspray/high heels expectation.

      • HH says:

        “Needless to say, this assessment isn’t to be conflated with cross-dressing or transgender issues.”

        So, my Halloween plans are still a go?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Henry, could you go as Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice or Elena Kagan instead of Anna Nicole Smith?

      • pannonica says:

        Far more damaging than the superficial aspects are the underlying insidious aspersive insinuations about personality and mentality.

    • Huda says:

      Pannonica et al, a disturbing finding is a recent study that shows equal subtle prejudice against female scientists on the part of both men and women in science! This was a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that showed that the same résumé for a science position was judged less favorably if a female name was attached to it than if a male name was. And both women and men scientists/judges showed the same degree of bias… I’m going to be giving a talk to young scientists about survival in scientific careers, and I’m hoping to start a discussion on why that might be.

  7. Gareth says:

    Not quite SQUEAKYCLEAN, but a bunch of nice answers in the LAT today… Found it hard to believe U… ORE for the longest time and found it general a lot harder than today’s NYT! Welcome and thanks for the write-up Andy! PS, as a bird-watcher, I do hate when TERN and ERNE get lumped together. The erne is an obscure, rarely-used name for a sea-eagle. The tern is ubiquitous globally occurring group of birds making it totally, undoubtedly a perfectly acceptable crossword answer that doesn’t need to have its bill dragged through the mud! I think I’ve said this before. I think of Alison Moyet when I see YAZOO, that’s probably just me.

  8. HH says:

    Given the topic of this subthread, wouldn’t Condi be doubly offensive?

  9. John E says:

    Kudos to all the people who stay up late at night figuring how to sandwich 15′s for our amusement.

  10. J. T. Williams says:

    I don’t know that I agree with the connection between drag (or camp) and blackface. The key difference that people are overlooking is in who is looking like who. With blackface, it’s a person in the majority acting like someone in the minority. I don’t see that power differential in drag. Rather, I would compare drag and camp to the Slutwalk. In other words, it is the minority actor taking what is intended to be derogatory, claiming it, and then taking it to the caricature and having fun with it. And drag is also extremely freeing in that the point of drag is be in a different persona so that you can discard your inhibitions and be larger than life. I don’t see that in blackface at all.

    • pannonica says:

      I disagree almost entirely. Drag may be “extremely freeing in that the point of drag is (to) be in a different persona so that you can discard your inhibitions and be larger than life,” but it is at the expense of an entire class of person, while also reducing that class of person to mere object. In that regard it’s just as selfish and mean-spirited as blackface. You’re apparently solipsistically seeing it from the so-called liberated so-called minority point of view. While gay men (a minority) are the primary exponents of drag, it isn’t exclusive to them and they are still men, in an empowered position. When white people did blackface they were similarly “freed” or “disinhibited” to act lazily, selfishly, and lasciviously—attributes that were pointedly associated with black people.

      I’d also posit that gay male drag performers are responsible for the most tacitly cruel and hurtful portrayals of women because some of them are truly misogynistic, in a way that’s different from heterosexual male misogyny. By no means do I imply that all gay men are misogynistic, because many are extremely sympathetic to and empathetic with women, but there is indeed a hateful subset, even if the hate is subconscious.

  11. Andy says:

    Thanks for all the positive feedback! I’m also glad to have sparked such a spirited debate… everyone gird your loins for Social Critique Saturdays :)

    I was curious why there were so many 1-star votes on the LAT Saturday puzzle… anyone who rated it that low care to elaborate?

  12. Mike Charley says:

    WSJ Sat. hints:
    1) name = title
    went ahead = led
    2) bridges = adjacent words
    3) officeholder = in, dodged = ducked
    4) big movie = epic
    5) alternative = or
    6) article = the, ideal = best
    7) belong in = go, cultural curriculum = arts
    something irrational = pi
    8) green = g
    9) peach = cling
    10) wife = ux
    11) clutches = holds
    12) german = ger
    13) old testament = to
    14) pipe = smoking kind
    15) tin = sn
    16) anagram grade
    adjacent words
    17) anagram rogue’s
    18) far from well = poorly
    19) hunch= guess
    20) years old = age
    21) pro = for, contest = bee

  13. dammy sprung says:

    Loved the Turkey Stearnes. Of course being a baseball fan, was easy, in fact it was my first entry. Stearnes was a Negro Leaguer who never played major league baseball, but was in fact a great player

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