Saturday, March 16, 2013

Newsday 7:16 
NYT 7:10 
LAT 4:32 (Andy) 
CS 6:46 (Sam) 

Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers, 3 16 13, #0316

Listless post tonight. Apologies to Julian—headache trumps dedication.

Likes:

  • 18a. [Spirit, in Stuttgart], GEIST. As in zeitgeist, poltergeist. German for “ghost.” See also: Willie Geist, who played Carrie’s pal Stanford on Sex and the City.
  • 19a. [Maximum, nonstandardly], MOSTEST. Fun. This is in the dictionary.
  • 20a. [Sprites are similar to them], FRESCAS. Dangit! Hidden capital S, clear sodapop—not FAIRIES.
  • 22a. [:, at times], IS TO. In analogies. Not an emoticon!
  • 42a. [Thirst], HANKER. Love this verb.
  • 64a. [Gift for a TV buff], DVD BOX SET. Nice 3,3,3.
  • 12d. [What a day trader tries to turn], QUICK BUCK.
  • 47d. [Role for both Burton and Amos in a 1977 miniseries], KINTE. I had a little fun with the exchange between Kunta Kinte and a slavemaster when my son was 7 and had a classmate named Toby.
  • 50d. [They're not basic things], ACIDS. Alkalis are basic.

42d: [Where one may have personal reactions?] clues HOME LAB. What do people make in home labs besides meth?

Signing off now with a 3.75-star rating.

Updated Saturday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Opposites Attract”- Sam Donaldson’s review

CS solution, March 16

It’s Paula Abdul week at the CS Syndicate! Today’s puzzle is “Opposites Attract,” and later in the week we’ll see puzzles called “Cold-Hearted” (BRR is hidden inside four familiar terms), “Straight Up” (all the Downs read from the bottom up), and “Rush Rush” (the last word in each theme entry is a synonym for “hurry”). Or maybe not.

The theme here features five familiar terms (okay, four familiar ones and one gross-out) where the first two words can be opposites:

  • 16-Across: DON’T DO DRUGS is the [Admonition from a health teacher]. In the case of my health teacher, there was a follow up line: BECAUSE I WANT THEM ALL FOR MYSELF.
  • 19-Across: Something OUT IN THE OPEN is [For all to see].
  • 35-Across: One [Digressing] is OFF ON A TANGENT.
  • 53-Across: LITTLE BIG MAN is the [Dustin Hoffman title role] that works with this theme, though TOOTSIE and RAIN MAN are more familiar to me.
  • 57-Across: Those with weak stomachs, look away! The [Picnic leftovers] are COLD HOT DOGS. Eww!

Did you notice how Randy smushed together the theme entries on the top and bottom? Very Hook-ish, or Reagle-esque. Whatever it is, it’s elegant. 

I struggled with the intersection of EUBIE and EDIE ADAMS, as neither the [Broadway show about Blake] nor the woman who [won a Tony as Daisy Mae in "Li'l Abner"] sits within my wheelhouse. And the clue for MIDTERMS, [Important tests in high school] felt a wee bit off to me, as I think of midterms as having more importance in college than high school (besides, finals and achievement tests are waaay more important than midterms, even in high school). 

Some of the fill felt strange, too. UNBELT is a word, yes, but when was the last time someone told you they had to unbelt themselves after a large meal? Then there’s TITTLE, meaning [Jot]. Tittle this down, Cedric! For the most part, though, the fill worked for me. I liked I HEAR YA, ALAMEDAS, MR. TOAD, AT TEN, HEADLIGHT, and ADD UP.

Favorite entry = TAPPAN, the [Amana alternative] that I know chiefly from the Tappan appliances given away as prizes on Let’s Make a Deal. Favorite clue = [Having a lot to lose] for OBESE.

Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

Los Angeles Times puzzle 03.16.13 by Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber

Hi all! I’m still on an ACPT high. I had an awesome time, proudly representing Team Fiend for the first time. Speaking of which, our fearless leader Amy took 11th, while meta-master Joon finished 7th! *clap clap clap* And I reached my goal of seven perfect puzzles! I can hardly wait for next year.

I thought I was going to blaze through this one after I slapped down ABDICATE [Relinquish power], ABRAMS ["Fringe" co-creator J.J.], and BRUNEI [Sultanate on the South China Sea] in the NW in quick succession. But I found the NE a little sticky and had to work back around to it. Don’t worry, guys — IT’S OK. I figured it out eventually.

A few factoids:

  • 52a, GNOMEO ["___ & Juliet": 2011 animated film]. The trailer was so punny that I refused to see it, but by all accounts it was a delightful vehicle for Elton John songs. I also heard that Jason Statham’s turn as Tybalt is not to be missed.
  • 30d, ANDERSON ["Anne of the Thousand Days" playwright Maxwell]. It’s about Anne Boleyn. Richard Burton was nominated for an Oscar for the movie version. It was his sixth acting nomination, and his sixth loss. And then he lost a seventh time.
  • 46a, GALOP [Dance named for a horse's gait]. I immediately thought of the Joanna Newsom song “En Gallop,” which it turns out is spelled with two Ls and not one, as I had thought. Accidental victory.
  • 48a, ISRAELI COUSCOUS [Mideast pearl-shaped pasta].Apparently it’s larger than regular couscous, more like orzo. This probably makes a difference if you’re Anthony Bourdain.

    So help you if you mix up the couscous and the Israeli couscous.

  • 15a, BRITISH INVASION [Major influence in '60s music]. On April 4, 1964, the Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Almost 50 years later, no other act has managed to do that.

More notables:

  • 31d, GO OVER TO [Approach]. This looks so weird in the grid. GOOVERTO? GOOVER TO? GOO VERTO?
  • 13d, TOE RINGS [Worn-down jewelry?]. Because they’re worn… down on your feet. Are toe rings popular among Fiend readers?
  • 26d, A-FLAT [Key of Chopin's "Heroic Polonaise"]. It’s a notoriously difficult piece. Non-musicians might be more familiar with the Monty Python version: the Oliver Cromwell song is sung to the tune of the Heroic Polonaise.
  • 50d, UND [___ so weiter: Berliner's "et cetera"]. Note for constructors: UND = absolutely fine fill; USW (the abbrevation for und so weiter) = fill that makes me sad.
  • 47a, TERPS [ACC team with a turtle mascot]. Maryland basketball just beat Duke in the ACC tournament, which is bound to make Erik Agard happy. As a Wolverine, any enemy of Duke is a friend of mine.
  • 7d, THE WIRE [It can be exciting to get down to it]. Real missed opportunity to clue one of the most influential TV shows of the past twenty years. Instead, we get a partial idiom.
  • 33a, SNO-CATS [Antarctic expedition vehicles].The Kleenex of tracked snow vehicles. Bet you’ve never heard of Bombardier.

    This little one with curved doors is called a *Kitten*. SO CUTE

The 15s ranged from acceptable (NOT IN ONE’S NATURE) to good (ISRAELI COUSCOUS, RUNS THE GAUNTLET) to great (BRITISH INVASION). The fill didn’t thrill me the way a Wilberson puzzle usually does, but other than PRIE and maybe SACRA, there wasn’t anything particularly offensive. I’ll give this one 3.33 stars. Until next week!

Lars G. Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 3 16 13 “Saturday Stumper”

Yet another puzzle from the Doublemint Twins, the Wilber/Peterson duo. They’re frightfully clever, these two. They make a themeless puzzle just the way I like it: With corners stacked full of long and lively phrases. Look at this nonsense:

  • 1a. [Touristy gift-shop staple], SNOW GLOBE. Who doesn’t love a snow globe, besides the TSA?
  • 15a. [Water around Corregidor], MANILA BAY. Know your Filipino geography! Maybe it helps if your family’s half Filipino.
  • 17a. [First arrival], ABORIGINE. Word frowned upon in Australia now, no? Ab = from, origine = beginning.
  • 54a. [House parties], POLITICOS. And strikingly unloved in general.
  • 59a. [Offensive lines], TRASH TALK. Do offensive linemen engage in trash talk?
  • 61a. [Lays up], SALTS AWAY.
  • 12d. [Hurdle for some tablets], FDA APPROVAL. Pills, not iPads.
  • 13d. [2012 debate subject], FISCAL CLIFF. We’ve all moved on to “sequester,” right?
  • 14d. [They may be fit for a king], SATIN SHEETS. Do they even make satin sheets for twin beds?
  • 21d. [Godzilla, in part], STEGOSAURUS. You don’t say!
  • 22d. [Pink appetizer], TUNA TARTARE.
  • 23d. [Expert with numbers], ANESTHETIST. The only person I remember from my C-section, aside from my husband and the baby, was the kind-eyed nurse anesthetist.

Not a hint of roll-your-own wordness (you see what I did there?), no “that’s just a verb with a random preposition tacked on.” Good, solid words and phrases.

Now I must acknowledge the one word that didn’t look remotely familiar and that wanted to be BONITO: 20a. [Florida Keys sport fish], BONACI? I was in the Keys a couple years ago and this … rings no bell.

Other highlights:

  • 33a. [Literary role for Hepburn, Allyson and Ryder], JO MARCH. If Winona Ryder weren’t in this list, I’d have been sunk.
  • 35a. [Regular holders], GAS CANS. They hold regular and premium gas, although didn’t “regular” used to refer to leaded gasoline, as distinct from now-standard “unleaded”?
  • 1d. ['' 'S a ___ request'': Burns], SMA. Somehow this charms me. However, SASMA would be a horrible, terrible fill-in-the-blank partial.
  • 3d. [2001 honorary doctorate recipient from Liverpool University], ONO. New Yoko trivia clue! Matt Gaffney just had a Twitter exchange with Ms. Ono and she likes being filler in crosswords!
  • 8d. Spirit of Renaissance theater], BANQUO. Man! This clue had me turned around. I was thinking BANQUO was some theater tied to a “Spirit of Renaissance” brand name or something. Was utterly confused. Of course, he was a ghost (“spirit”) in Macbeth.
  • 25d. Accordion-heavy music], TEJANO. I wanted the even-more-Scrabbly ZYDECO but it wasn’t working with the crossings. I wonder if anyone saw the 6-letter space and tried REGGAE.
  • 29d. Response to 59 Across], “OH, SNAP.” Love this answer!

Could have done without ET SEQ, the aforementioned BONACI, TUNS, ENE, URSAE, ESAU, OBIE, and OLA, but they’re not beyond the pale and I enjoyed the solve. Four stars.

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29 Responses to Saturday, March 16, 2013

  1. RK says:

    For those that felt yesterday’s MULETAS/MINAS crossing was unacceptable, what do you feel about today’s JARULE/LEE/ABE intersection? Seems pretty awful to me.

    • Matt says:

      I didn’t know LEE, but ABE is OK with me. JARULE is not, by a long shot, my favorite genre, but it’s acceptable popcult, particularly with the ‘J’ crossed with JEEP. On the other hand, I wasn’t particularly bothered by the MULETAS/MINAS crossing either, so maybe I’m just the proverbial slow-cooked frog.

    • sbmanion says:

      JARULE was a gimme for me. I love old school R&B and am not very fond of rap, but JARULE is well known. On the other hand, if the answer is ABE and going down it could be LEO or LEE, why clue ABE with a clue that could have just as plausibly led to ABO?

      The M in Friday’s clue was a toss up among maybe five letters. That’s fair, right?

      It took me a lo-o-o-ng time to get started on this one and then it fell very quickly, maybe because I had to stare at the clues so long at the beginning.

      I always get a kick out of TBAR. Skiing is a hard sport to even get mediocre at and if you are skiing at a place where you have to use one, it is a rather cruel and often embarrassing way to initiate someone to getting up the hill.

      Steve

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        JA RULE hasn’t had a top-10 hit in 9 years, so it’s not as if he’s showing up much in what solvers are reading these days. One could argue that JA RUDE sounds like a rapper name and that DEE Pace was in the TV show (the LEE clue didn’t even specify actor or actress to help narrow things down). Could also have been LEA/ABA—and if you don’t know any of the names, you might well talk yourself out of ABE because “Well, the clue would be someone I’ve heard of if it were a more familiar name.”

        Also, am I the only one who’d never heard of ALAN PAGE? Alan Hale is more my speed.

        • sbmanion says:

          Hi Amy,

          Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and I forget the fourth one were part of one of the great defensive front fours in the history of football. They were called the Purple People Eaters and along with Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain and Los Angeles’s Fearsome Foursome constitute one of the all-time great units. The Vikings of that era are near and dear to me as they are the other team besides my beloved Buffalo Bills to lose four Super Bowls.

          Page and Eller are both in the Hall of Fame.

          As to Ja Rule, he did make the news recently as he had to go to prison for tax evasion. I did not realize he had been out of action for so long. And speaking of action, he once starred in a Steven Seagal movie, which I was stunned did not get any Oscar buzz.

          Steve

          • Alex V. says:

            Actually, the Vikings and Bills aren’t the only teams to lose four Super Bowls… the Broncos lost XII, XXI, XXII, and XXIV, and the Patriots lost XX, XXXI, XLII, and XLVI.

            I do love football… I hope my Eagles win more than four games next year.

            –Alex

        • Papa John says:

          Amy, I’ve noticed your complaint about pop culture entries that involve persons who are no longer in the lime light in other comments you’ve posted. It seems to be one of your pet peeves. I don’t follow your reasoning. So JARULE/JA RULE/JARUL E hasn’t had hit in nearly a decade. Neither has The Ink Spots or Bing Crosby or the inventor of the Rubik’s cube or Fred Astaire – the list goes on and on. Do you object to seeing them and others like them in a puzzle? Is your complaint limited to pop culture entries?

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Some people have entered the canon, and some people … the jury may still be out on. If you’re not old enough/big enough to be canonical, it would help if you were current. (My work for the Daily Celebrity Crossword also leads me to give preference to more current names. I only have the one brain, so I can’t lock away the Celebrity Crossword mind when I’m doing the NYT.)

        • Papa John says:

          Wow…a canon of pop culture. Whodda thunk?!?

          But I get your point.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            And rap definitely has a canon. Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow from the early days, Run-D.M.C. and Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, NWA, Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West–I’m sure I’m leaving out plenty whose positions in the canon are assured, who will still be known 20 years from now.

    • john farmer says:

      ABE has the potential to be a historic PM, now in his second stint at the job. Japan has had 7 or 8 governments since 2006, so keeping track of Japanese PMs is no easy task. I had ASO for a while.

      ALAN PAGE is a big name in football, one of the Purple People Eaters, if you ever heard of them.

      GNOMEO and Juliet featured 739 songs of Elton John’s, and Gnomeo’s best friend was named Benny, but “Benny and the Jets” was not a song in the film. Makes you wonder.

  2. Brendan says:

    STEPSITUP and CLEAREDUP jarred me a bit. INURN is just an ugly word. But this was a fun one overall.

  3. dook says:

    ducted? really?

  4. animalheart says:

    What RK said. Most problematic Fri/Sat combo of puzzles in recent memory.

  5. Howard B says:

    DNF. Missed at the ABE / LEE crossing. That was not nice. No way to infer that beyond a 50 50 guess, which I missed. Rest of the puzzle was nice.

    Edit: OHH.Shinzo Abe. Crud. I knew that. Only took me overnight to remember. It is still a rough cross.

    • Evad says:

      Funny, that was my DNF as well–I put in an O for ABO/LEO. ABE never occurred to me, since it sounded so quintessentially American.

      With lots of meth labs around here I’ve never heard one referred to as a HOME LAB. Sounds like a cherished pet to me.

  6. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Amy, I think you’re right; I think I do get paranoid. It’s bred of an increasing sense of frustration with many, perhaps most puzzles these days and the norms they embody. There are times I come close to entirely chucking puzzles as an activity. Expressing ones views, even paranoid ones, is the only small way one person can have any effect on the future choices and behavior of constructors and editors.

    There was a recent puzzle which got nothing but favorable comments and scores which I thought was unbelievably atrocious. I don’t like expressing such views, especially in detail, so I won’t do so and won’t identify the puzzle, though could probably figure it out, in the unlikely event you wanted to. I thought the puzzle was boring, silly, and had so many utterly outrageous and bizarre entries — totally off the charts.

    I thought both yesterday’s and today’s NYT’s were great. They’re the puzzles which keep me coming back. I wondered if I would be the only one to protest and call out the JARU-E, -EE crossing, and I was gratified that I was not. But I thought today’s was basically a literate, interesting, unclicheed construction and a top-flight puzzle.

    I doubt whether you’re the only person who hasn’t heard of Alan Page, but in some circles he is very well known. He was a lightning quick, slender, athletic, 6′ 5″ 240 lb. defensive lineman with the Minnesota Vikings in the 70′s (?) He was not one of these stuffed up, steroided up modern players; he was a genuine athlete. He was on a famous defensive line which included Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and . . . someone. They were famous enough to have a collective name, which I have forgotten — like the Steelers’ Steel Curtain, or something of the sort. Steve probably knows. Page was a Notre Dame grad, and attended law school after his pro career. He became a Supreme Court Justice, probably in the 90′s, with the support of the celebrated Chief Justice Rosalie Wahl — herself a controversial, polarizing figure in Minnesota judicial history; I think the first woman on the MN Sup. Ct. I thought she was a fantastic, inspiring figure in every respect, and I have the highest regard for her though many people disagree. I am less sure, but curious as to the reputation Alan Page has achieved on the bench, but he was always an intelligent, thoughtful man.

    • Richard says:

      the “purple people eaters”

      As an old Packer fan, this actually was my first entry.

      To add a bit of trivia on one of the other members, Jim Marshall once scored a long touchdown for the opposition on a fumble recovery. A link to the video is below if anyone is interested.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eBrb00pdGw

    • HH says:

      “It’s bred of an increasing sense of frustration with many, perhaps most puzzles these days and the norms they embody. There are times I come close to entirely chucking puzzles as an activity.”

      Exactly why I bother to solve only cryptics now, aside from math and logic puzzles.

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    OH–I hadn’t read Steve’s previous post on just that point (or John’s.) Funny that Steve and I are unable to remember the same one.

    • sbmanion says:

      Bruce,

      I dont think that the fourth man was the same each year in the glory years of the Vikings. There was a fourth guy in that era (late ’60s, earliest ’70s) named Winston, but I am not sure if he was a Purple People Eater or not. The Vikings once held the Bills to almost no yards in the OJ era.

      Most consider the Bears 1985 defense in general and front four in particular (Richard Dent (similar build to Alan Page), Hampton, Refrigerator Perry) to be the greatest defense of all time with the Vikings second.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Amy,

    Not listless at all. I liked your list of likes.

  9. Margaret says:

    The LAT went so smoothly for me today — I often find myself on Doug’s wavelength, apparently even when he and Brad share a puzzle. And I loved the Sergio ROMO clue instead of the usual Tony! My only real problem was the intersection of NEVA/SACRA. I went with an I to begin with. Oh well.

  10. Gareth says:

    Liked both the LAT and NYT today a lot! Lim really used the high-value letters to good effect today, esp. DVDBOXSET – on the bottom row no less! Felt really crunchy but about my average time! Last to go was top-left, had to relinquish my first answer in the puzzle eventually: EYES for ISTO! Lars’ double-stacks were fine too, and the lack of short junk that often accompanies triple-plus puzzles was appreciated as well! Yes, Andy, I agree GOOVERTO looked bizarre in the puzzle!

    PS, yep there’s probably way to many puzzles for most people to solve these days. But if anyone does want to solve another one, I have a themeless puzzle over at the Island: http://crosswordfiend.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1280

  11. Gary Amundson says:

    I think the 4th member of the Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall front four was Gary Larsen. Having grown up in South Dakota, I watched many a Vikings game on TV that featured those four.

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