Saturday, 12/15/12

Newsday 7:54 
NYT 5:42 
LAT 3:04 (Andy) 
CS 5:03 (Sam) 

Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword answers, 12 15 12, 1215

What an unusual 15-letter answer to build a puzzle around: CHANDLER, ARIZONA, [City of a quarter million founded on a ranch site]. Why does Arizona have so many 200,000+ cities now? They have 7, vs. Illinois’s nearly 2. Maybe a place without rain should quit sprawling?

Am tired. Long day. Draining news. Complete sentences hard. Favorite bits: HALF AND HALF, NINJA TURTLE faking out art fans with its [Raphael, e.g.] clue, [It goes over the tongue] cluing SHOELACE (it’s true! you can use a shoelace to scrape the bacterial gunk off your tongue), ZZ TOP, TO BE EXACT, CAVE DRAWING, ANI DIFRANCO at long last getting her last name in the grid too (surely one of the raisons d’etre for this puzzle?), Scrabbly FEDEX KINKO’S (now called simply FedEx Office, as MBE became the UPS Store), HINDI’s etymology clue [Origin of the word "cheetah"], the insane word LOLLOP ([Move with a bobbing motion], and a word I have never, ever encountered before but find charming), HAS DIBS ON.

Dislikes: Not much. CEE and CCL are about the worst things in the grid.

Four stars.

Neville L. Fogarty’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 12.15.12 by Neville L. Fogarty

One of Team Fiend’s own. What do you think the L stands for? Longbottom (a joke I’m sure Neville has never heard before)? Lumplestiltskin? Offer up some guesses in the comments.

Neville and I seem to fire on the same cruciverbal cylinders. The fill in this one is basically “My Favorite Things,” and the cluing is basically “My Favorite Things about My Favorite Things.” See below:

  • 16a, BEG PARDON? ["Huh?"]. Love this entry. When you have BE_____ON, not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind.
  • 23a, JOE KIDD [1972 Eastwood title role]. Scrabbly title that seems to be making a resurgence despite its age and relatively tepid reviews. I thought this should have been clued as [1972 Clint Eastwood title role] to match the fully-named JOE KIDD, though.
  • 26a, O FORTUNA [Medieval poem about fate set to music in Orff's "Carmina Burana" ]. You’ve definitely heard it before.
  • 39a, NEW YORK [Of the 48 states, it has the largest island]. Great, fresh clue for New York, and a clever way to avoid the Alaska/Hawaii problem. (It’s Long Island, for curious parties.) As an added bonus, it crosses 31d, CONEY [ ____ Island].
  • 44a, NERVE GAS [Weapon outlawed by a 1993 treaty]. Specifically, the Chemical Weapons Treaty (of 1993).
  • 55a, LITTLE EVA [Friend of Uncle Tom]. It’s so sad when [SPOILER REDACTED].
  • 61a, TEXAS TECH [Big 12 football team led onto the field by The Masked Rider]. So named because he is masked, and he rides. A horse. Michigan doesn’t have a mascot — I feel deprived.

    THE MASKED RIDER

  • 3d, ZETA-JONES ["Chicago" Oscar winner]. This just happens to be a thing I know, but it dawned on me post-solve that this is a really great trap for ZEllwegEr. Anyone fall for this?
  • 7d, “WEIRD” AL YANKOVIC ["Perform This Way" parodist]. You had me at “parodist.” Also, this video is extremely disturbing for reasons that are difficult to articulate.
  • 25d, WONKAVISION [Teleportation device for chocolate, in a 1971 film]. Mike Teevee’s demise, as I recall. Strangely, I can’t remember if it has the same name in the book.
  • 42d, NEVILLE [Early WWII Prime Minister Chamberlain]. Way to sneak your own name into the grid.

Also loved the THAT IS / I MEAN pair; GADGETEER; TWO-TIMING; TPED [Adorned mischievously]; and BOTOX [Head shot?]. Less fun for me were ALCAN, “I LEFT,” and LGS. But if that’s the worst, then I’m pleased as punch.

4 stars from me. And if you liked this puzzle, you’re in luck! Neville publishes a puzzle weekly at his blog!

Until next week!

Updated Saturday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “One Husband, Two Weddings”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, December 15

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Perhaps this was the thought running through the minds of the four notable women featured in today’s puzzle. As the title suggests, each married the same man twice. Here are the deja vu brides:

  • 17-Across: MELANIE GRIFFITH is the [Actress who married the same man twice, in 1976 and 1989].  
  • 26-Across: MARIE OSMOND is the [Singer who married the same man twice, in 1982 and 2011]. Given her recent re-do, I wonder if she was the inspiration for this puzzle.
  • 44-Across: ESTEE LAUDER is the [Cosmetician who married the same man twice, in 1930 and 1942]. This kind of thing would have been much more unusual at that time. I wonder how all the scorn from her peers affected her makeup. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
  • 57-Across: CARSON McCULLERS is not only someone I’ve never heard of, she’s also the [Writer who married the same man twice, in 1937 and 1945]. Tell me more about her, oh great god Wikipedia: “She wrote novels, short stories, and two plays, as well as essays and some poetry. Her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the U.S. South. Her other novels have similar themes and are all set in the South.” Oh, and she’s from Georgia, my new home state. Guess maybe I better crack open one of her books.

I’m not sure how I feel about a puzzle that “honors” four women this way. Why no re-married-to-an-ex men? There’s no shame in divorce, and none in remarriage. We’re not supposed to laugh at these women or think less of them, so why exactly is this commonality puzzle-worthy? Would a puzzle about four women with green eyes be just as valid?

The four long Downs have a wintry feel, what with GLARE ICE, SKI PANTS, TRUE BLUE, and DISTANCE. Okay, that last one’s not especially wintry, unless we can all agree that the North Pole is quite a “distance” away.

I like the image conjured up by 26-, 27-, and 28-Down: MAD AT / AMISH / ROCKY. You know, because he gets involved in fights instead of turning the other cheek. 

Favorite entry = LEGGY, [Like dancers in the Rockettes]. Favorite clue = [Your, among Friends] for THY. (“Friends” is another name for “Quakers,” and a Quaker or two might use “thy” instead of “your.”) Capitalization makes all the difference!

Barry Silk’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Barry Silk’s Newsday crossword solution, 12 15 12 “Saturday Stumper”

I thought I was well-rested but this challenging themeless bleared my eyes. It may just be that the reliance on so many 7- and 8-letter words and names brings about a much more sedate solving experience than a puzzle with juicy longer fill does. Compare this one to the Friday and Saturday NYTs by Paula and Will, and the Saturday LAT by Neville. Those all have more answers that perk up your mind when you realize what they are. Whereas when I pieced together ARABISTS, SHERIDAN, LANYARD, ONE TENTH, and SEDIMENT, I just felt like sediment was clogging my delight synapses. I know this sort of puzzle has its fervent proponents—those who grouse at the puzzles I love because spoken colloquialisms, brand names, and rock singers are not common “words” and “it’s called a crossWORD, not a crossNAME.” Never the twain, etc.

Ten clues:

  • 29d. ["Campfire for your iPhone" app], EMBER. Never heard of it. Just did a search for it on the App Store and … nothing. The closest thing is a Romantic Fire fireplace app that isn’t called Ember. What gives?
  • 34d. [Temple's dancing partner in ''Captain January''], EBSEN. Holy cow, you mean to tell me that the elderly man in early-’70s TV, Buddy Ebsen, was a child star way, way back when Shirley Temple was in movies? Nope, he’s so old that he played a grownup, and he wasn’t playing the lead, either. What a nutso clue. 1936 movie supporting actor, and also a movie I’d never heard of. So that’s the demographic for the Newsday puzzle, is it? People who were going to movies in 75 years ago?
  • 17a. [Cougar's coat], CAR WAX. Holy cats! The last Mercury Cougar was built in 2003. Yep, you’re gonna need a lot of wax to keep a car shiny when it’s 9+ years old. Tricky clue, but it would’ve been nice to find a current car model with a mammal name. (Are there any?)
  • 35a. [Digital display], NAILS. Fingers and toes are digits.
  • 30a. [Purport], TENOR. Tenor is a verb too? No, it isn’t. Apparently purport is also a noun. Who knew?
  • 39a. [Distance measure on hand-drawn maps], PACES. It would be helpful to specify the length of a pace, mind you.
  • 38d. [They have long, tapering necks], BOSCS. Skinny pears, not animals like swans or lamps like gooseneck lamps.
  • 49a. [Literally, ''indivisible''], ATOM. A-, not. Tom, from the Greek verb temnein, to cut. Consider the cognate CT scans, computed tomography—the body is virtually cut into slices.
  • 59a. [''The Charm School'', for one], SPY NOVEL. Don’t know it. But I do know that this is America, dammit! Put the comma inside the quotation marks, even if it makes more sense to do it the British way.
  • 47d. [Tops in delicacy], NICEST. What an odd clue.

Worst fill: -YER, ON ME, ENIAC.

Three stars.

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19 Responses to Saturday, 12/15/12

  1. sbmanion says:

    Amy,

    I think of Arizona as having two big cities. Nine of the 10 cities in Arizona over 100K population are in the greater Phoenix area: Chandler and Gilbert are SE, Tempe (home of ASU) and Mesa are E, Scottsdale is NE, and Surprise (retirement community), Glendale and Peoria are NW. All are interconnected by a highway system that loops the entire area. Chandler is home to Hamilton High, a sporting juggernaut whose football offensive line traditionally averages close to 300 pounds.

    I am currently tutoring a Hamilton junior who is 6′-5″ and weighs 280. He has more than 30 Div. 1 schools recruiting him because his frame is such that he has room to grow.

    Fairly easy puzzle for me for the first time in a long time.

    Steve

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Appreciate your stick-to-it-ness! Yes, yesterday’s news was draining, horrific. Would guess Lee or Leigh for Neville’s middle name. I also wanted ZELLWEGER before ZETA-JONES. The remarried ladies was an original theme — kept waiting for Liz Taylor! The Stumper took several tries (and peeks) before working out, a wow.

  3. Gareth says:

    Saturday’s NYT was much more Friday, except for the panic-inducing area of unknown (to me) proper nouns in the bottom-right: FEDEXKINKOS/ARI/ELIE + CINC(O/E). HASDIBSON a favourite.

    LAT has my two favourite answers this week: WONKAVISION and BEGPARDON. Plus Lots of other chatty answers! Also, a surprisingly good collection of medium-length, 6/7, fill. I’m going to have to give this a 5 even if I ended up finishing it in a time between Tues. and Wed.!

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Amy — GO BLUE! Didn’t know you had a connection.

    I long ago decided to feel superior that “we” don’t have to tolerate or rely on some guy (or gal) in a silly costume to generate enthusiasm.

    Ferocious Friday, Soft Saturday — my time was close to par — but both excellent puzzles.

  5. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Very tough but enjoyable Stumper with some outstanding clues. I don’t get the reference at 54a. I must have missed the memo.

    • pannonica says:

      Sudan split into Sudan and South Sudan. I think it was in June of ’11. Sometime in the summer, anyway. One of the results of the cleaving is that Sudan ceded its status as largest African nation to Algeria.

  6. Huda says:

    Amy,

    Yes, yesterday was terrible.

    But your statement “Maybe a place without rain should quit sprawling?” made me laugh. So true, but we all know humans aren’t all that logical.

    The puzzle itself– very well done, relatively easy except that SE corner was a killer…

  7. mike says:

    I do not understand 45 down on the CS puzzle.

    Clue: Whopper
    Answer: LULU

    ????

  8. animalheart says:

    Medium-level Saturday NYT for me. Very solid. Am somewhat hesitant to admit that my first impulse for “Java application?” was COFFEE ENEMA…

  9. sbmanion says:

    LULU and WHOPPER both referr to something that is outzized or exaggerated.

    Andy, I was thinking of Grand Island in the Niagara River, what I always thought was the largest river island in the United States. It turns out that there is a larger island in the Columbia River.

    Steve

  10. Zulema says:

    Afraid that Zellweger was my first entry in the LAT, but both the NYT and it were fair and entertaining, to make up for Friday’s horrendously difficult puzzle and horrendous day in other ways.

  11. HH says:

    “…this video is extremely disturbing for reasons that are difficult to articulate.”

    Gee whiz, I hope that was CGI.

  12. Neville says:

    Neville and I seem to fire on the same cruciverbal cylinders. The fill in this one is basically “My Favorite Things,” and the cluing is basically “My Favorite Things about My Favorite Things.”

    Andy’s figured out exactly how I write puzzles :)

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