Saturday, March 9, 2013

Newsday 5:09 
NYT 13:04 (pannonica) 
LAT 4:59 (Andy) 
CS 6:43 (Sam) 

Good luck to everyone at the ACPT today; we’ll post the Saturday puzzle commentaries here shortly.

David Steinberg and Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword – pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 3/9/13 • Sat • Steinberg, Silk • 0309 • solution

Another killer, but I didn’t find it as difficult as yesterday’s. Took dedicated hammering to complete it, and along the way kept finding gimmes that I’d somehow managed to miss until relatively deep in the solve. Often when solving for time, I’ll avoid longer answers, assuming they’ll need more crossings. In this puzzle, I could have filled in 17a [His 1978 album "Excitable Boy" went platinum] WARREN ZEVON. But I also didn’t see 19a [Mrs. Gorbachev] RAISA and one or two others.

Back up to the top left. I knew early on 15a [It has a Snapshot Tool command] was going to be an ADOBE product, but which? Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign all too long; could there be a rebus in a Saturday puzzle, could it be {DREAM}WEAVER? It turned out to be the not-quite kosher READER. You see, the program is actually the free complement to Adobe Acrobat and is called Adobe Acrobat Reader and … >pause while double-checking before continuing< … ah, I see times have changed. The name of the application is now ADOBE READER, I suppose that’s because the powers-that-name realized that it will pleasingly display files generated from other programs in the Adobe roster (as long as they’re in the pdf/portable document format, I suppose).

Still in the same area, I didn’t know that NICOLAS CAGE was the star of 8mm (1999), and I had to tease it out incrementally. First NIC– so I considered Nicol Williamson, but he didn’t seem likely, then figured it must NICOLE someone-not-named-Kidman, but that wasn’t happening. Similar miscalculations plagued me through the solve: For example, 61a [One stoked to provide warmth] ends in –ACE? Must be some sort of FIREPLACE, no? No. A FURNACE. Specifically, a WOOD FURNACE. Stuff like that.

At least I was proud to plunk in ETRUSCAN at 39d [Ancient dweller in the Po Valley] with no other letters! Unfortunately, this was offset by taking ages to realize what 8d [Image on a denarius] was about. Damn you, CAESAR!

So those, along with a smattering of “easy” clues and answers, were the parameters of my solve. The rest of the puzzle was characterized by a plethora of fiendishly oblique but fair clues that were either wholly mysterious or could plausibly be interpreted in two ways, each with answers of the proper length. And some zigged where a zag would usually be. A sampling:

  • 34a [ __ fide] MALA, not the typical BONA. 20a [Bicycle support, informally] SISSY BAR, which I associate almost exclusively with motorcycles. 5d [Sake brewery product] LEES, instead of, say, a “wine byproduct”.
  • 45d [Five of them represent a zero] DASHES, in Morse code. 14d [Rakes often break them] HEARTS, which I intuited correctly early on but took a long while to find confirming crosses.
  • 45a [Milk producer] DAIRY FARM, not a type of animal. 29d [Hangover?] EAVE. 9d [Sominex alternative] ADVIL PM, and the two-part name stymied me for a time—I figured it wouldn’t end in the tempting -SOM, but it could likely be -OM or -UM. 35a [Gets in a lather] SUDSES, not SUDS UP.

Balancing my struggles in the northwest, the southeast also proved difficult. The long acrosses were too open-ended, and some of the critical verticals were simply obscure. Didn’t know that [Chaucer's "Mirthless Beauty" …] is a RONDEL, or that to MOURN is to [Be a blessed person, per Matthew 5:4]. And 50d [It's contents are often wicked] SCONCE? That is a wicked, wicked clue, playing on an innocent homograph like that.

A good, challenging puzzle across the board. Down the board, as well.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Affirmative Action”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, March 9

Greetings from Brooklyn! It’s hours before the official start of the tournament, but for me it officially begins when the plane touches down safely in New York. So in some ways it’s almost half-over already. One the eve of Puzzle 1, then, I’ll share here my goals for this year’s tournament performance, in decreasing level of likelihood: (1) Have fun (that’s a gimme, but I have to make one goal, right?); (2) Finish no lower than 237th (where I finished last year); (3) Crack the top 200; (4) Trophy in the D Division (the trophy is smaller than most of the “participant” trophies we earned in youth sports, but hey, I’ll take it); and (5) Finish all seven puzzles without an error.

I like my chances on the first two goals and think I have a reasonable shot on the third. Taking home a trophy will be tough: for the past few years, one needed to finish around 160th to snag a trophy in the D Division, and that seems like a lofty goal. And only about 30-40 people in the whole room go error-free on all the puzzles. But as they say, better to shoot for the stars and miss than aim for a pile of manure and hit.

Oh yeah, there’s a puzzle to talk about. 38-Across, one of the tiniest revealers in crossword history, notes that YES is the [Affirmative inside 17-, 29-, 43-, and 57-Across]. Let’s play a little Where’s Waldo, shall we?

  • 17-Across: A [Close call] is a LUCKY ESCAPE. I’ve had a few of those over the years.
  • 29-Across: A TIE-DYE SHIRT is [Woodstock wear, perhaps]. Did anyone else think of Snoopy’s pal, Woodstock, here?
  • 43-Across: To [Be interested in, in a way] is to HAVE EYES FOR
  • 57-Across: One asking for something ["Pronto!"] usually needed it BY YESTERDAY.

Interesting theme entries? YES. Interesting fill? YES. (See TASMANIA, RAH-RAH, MOTIVATION, U.S. NATIONAL, Brendan FRASER, and Inner Beavis’s favorite, DONG.) Stuff that made me say UGH (["Yuck!"])? YES, like KEYNOTER (I’ve given keynotes, sure, and I’ve keynoted a conference or two, fine; but I’m not a keynoter), A RUNSEN, ALATE, DAMPS, N DAK, and some others, but nothing especially egregious. So really, then, this puzzle had it all.

Favorite entry = CORN MEAL, the [Hush puppy ingredient] (though I confess I first tried POTATOES–do I lose my Southerner card for that?). Favorite clue = [Mall rats, maybe] for TEENS.

Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

Los Angeles Times Puzzle 3.9.13 by Barry C. Silk

Hi all! It’s Saturday, March 9th, which means I’m in Brooklyn for Day 1 of ACPT competition (along with much of Team Fiend)! My goal this year is to finish the weekend with seven perfect puzzles for the first time. This one gave me some fits, but any Mr. Happy Pencil is a good Mr. Happy Pencil.

Factoids first:

  • 28d, J.D. SALINGER ["I almost always write about very young people" speaker]. See, e.g., his first short story, “The Young Folks.” This is a fairly famous thing he said.
  • 67a, SERIAL PORT [Peripheral connection]. Technology’s not exactly my forte. When I tried to figure out what serial ports were, I got distracted by the fact that the ports are gendered male and female.

    Serial dating.

  • 17a, RHINESTONE [Bit of paste]. Two easy ways to tell paste from real stones: (1) paste has air bubbles, natural stones don’t; (2) paste is a poor conductor of heat, and so paste stones feel warm to the touch.
  • 19a, LOTTA [Gene Vincent's "___ Lovin'"].
    Gene Vincent has slowly but surely worked his way into the hearts of crossworders everywhere, first with “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” and now with this. Is there any billy he can’t rock?
  • 45d, SHALALA [Clinton cabinet member]. Donna Shalala served as Secretary of Health and Human Services for eight years under Clinton.

I won’t spend too much time on the rest of the puzzle. The 10×3 stacks were all great. I found especially clue the clue for 14d, SPOONERISM [Lack of pies, e.g.]. The grid flows very smoothly from left to right, no sticky (or should I say DRUMSTICKy) patches in the stack of 4s/5s/9s connecting NW to SE. Don’t think I’ve ever actually seen HI HO crackers, but the advertisements on Google Images are very appetizing. There’s something aurally appealing about the SILO/AGLOW/LIE LOW stack. If there are weak points, they’re REDI, the foreign SANTE/OSOS/CINCO, SCHED, and CIS clued as [USSR successor].

Sakes alive! I can taste the Barry C. Silk difference!

This one clocks in at a solid 4 stars. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about ACPT in the comments this weekend. But as for my weekly blog post — until next week!

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

Newsday crossword solution, 3 9 13 “Saturday Stumper”

This one’s considerably easier than last week’s “Stumper,” as promised by the “less rough” byline.

I learned a word. 46a: [Comparatively lively], ZAPPIER? Yes, zappy is in the dictionary, tagged “informal,” meaning lively and energetic. I’m sticking with zippy, personally.

We’ve got some echo clues today:

  • 1a: [Makes into bread], CASHES, and 16a: [Breadmaker, perhaps], ARTISAN.
  • 7a and 17a: [Where Michael J. Fox is from] is CANADA, specifically the province of ALBERTA.
  • 1d: [Place to say ''Olé!''], CORRIDA (bullfight arena), and 2d: ["Olé!''], ATTABOY!

One scientific quibble: 40d: SPHERES is clued with the planets [Mercury and Saturn]. But Saturn is a gas giant, and its rotation spins it into a somewhat flattened “oblate spheroid.” (Mercury is spherical.)

Let’s look at another dozen or so clues/answers:

  • 23a. [Square one, so to speak], SCRATCH. As in “start over from scratch/square one,” not as in “one who is square.”
  • 31a. [Server's suggestion], SAY WHEN. Suggestion, not gentle command?
  • 36a. [What Freud called ''das Ich''], EGO. Pop quiz: Provide the German articles and nouns for the id and superego.
  • 50a. [Baby Ruth sister brand], OH HENRY. Crosswords always taste better with candy bars.
  • 55a. [Word after country or sea], MILE. I think “country mile” is more metaphorical and “sea mile” is a specific distance, yes?
  • 62a. [Commiserative comment], SO CLOSE! Oh! You almost caught that one, ST. PETER ([Ancient angler]).
  • 63a. [Buyout hopefuls], SUITORS. As in companies hoping to buy out other businesses.
  • 6d. [Wells Fargo's HQ], SAN FRAN. “HQ” is your signal for the shortened answer.
  • 10d. [Ground things], AXES. As in “I’ve got an axe to grind.”
  • 32d. [When e.e. cummings was interned], WWI. I did not know that. On suspicion of espionage.
  • 37d. [Plenty of nothing], SPACES. Odd clue.
  • 44d. [White truffles, for example], TUBERS. Say what? Truffles are, of course, fungi, but they are in the genus Tuber. They are not little-t tubers like potatoes.
  • 57d. [Runner who ran the 2012 Olympics], COE. Runner Sebastian Coe is now in the British government and he had the job of running the London Games.

Although I often find the 7s-dense crosswords to be boring, this one kept me engaged. Not too many dull affixes stretching shorter words to 7 letters. Four stars.

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11 Responses to Saturday, March 9, 2013

  1. Martin says:

    Re “sphere”, from my dictionary app:

    3. Astron.
    a. a planet or star; heavenly body.

    -MAS

  2. Matt says:

    Nice NYT. I was stuck for a while at the end with SHIM instead of SHAM– didn’t get Mr. Pencil, then went and finished my breakfast, then came back and realized that the last letter in ASTRA was a latinism, so it could be either A or I. Admittedly, my home-furnishings vocabulary is limited, but it hasn’t mattered before– department-store salespeople are presumably used to single guys who just point and grunt to indicate what they want.

  3. sbmanion says:

    I haven’t been posting on the NYT very much and today I tried. My post apparently did not get accepted because I used the word “porn.” I did so because I was surprised at the choice of movie to clue Nicolas Cage for. He had a few great movies (ADAPTION is one most cru members would enjoy) and many excellent movies early in his career. Lately, they have been pretty bad, although I have watched most of them. I also watched “8mm,” which is about a guy who finds a “snuff” movie and then descends into the world of underground porn to see if the victim really died. Why in the world would that clue be used?

    When I lived in Green Bay, I took a very intense hybrid aerobics class (jump rope, wind sprints, etc.) whose teacher had run the Boston Marathon in 2:48, the fastest female time in Wisconsin. And yes, Paul Ryan, you can look it up. Anyway, her idol was UTA Pippig, perhaps the best female marathoner of her era along with a lady from Norway whose name I have forgotten, UTA was my first entry, but the NE proved very difficult as did the NW.

    The last thing I could think of for ORANGE was a color: fruit, Boer colony, blogger extraordinaire all came to mind. But, a color?

    I did not know that SUDSES was a word. I had SUDS UP for a while as well.

    Steve

    • pannonica says:

      Grete Waitz?

      • sbmanion says:

        Yes, that’s it. Grete had an even more distinguished career than UTA. Grete won the New York City marathon many years in a row. I think Grete was more from the 80s and Uta from the 90s. I have often wondered why European women did so well in that era while Kenyans and Ethiopians dominated the men.

        The group I worked out with had seven or eight women who ran 10Ks right around 40 minutes. In my one and only 10K, I sustained a plantar fasciitis injury that took years to totally get rid of. It is not a debilitating injury, but very painful.

        Steve

        • pannonica says:

          I well remember G Waitz, but U Pippig not at all. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention in the 90s? Although in the late 90s, I lived right along the route, on First Avenue. Always fun to cheer for the non-elite folks, those in costumes (“Go, Chicken Man!”), those carrying their national flags (“Go, go, go Liechtenstein!”), etc.

  4. Bit says:

    Reciprocal-ly speaking,
    LAT 5-down Dirtbags – SLEAZES
    Stumper 11-down Sleaze – DIRTBAG

  5. LARRY says:

    I object to referring to a spit bucket used in wine-tasting as a spittoon. That should be limited to old Westerns that depict men spitting tobacco juice juice in a tavern.

  6. vps says:

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