Saturday, April 27, 2013

Newsday 7:57 with 7 (!) errors 
NYT 4:36 
LAT 3:37 (Andy) 

Chris McGlothlin’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 27 13, no. 0427

Easy for a Saturday for you, too? I figured that 1a:[Stopped living the high life?] was SOBERED UP, and then I worked through the 1d, 2d, 5d, 6d, 8d, and 9d crossings and I was off to the races.

I definitely slowed down at the baseball intersection of 30a/30d. 30a: [2011 All-Star pitcher Correia]30d: [Ed whose entire 18-season career was with the Mets]? These clues tell me nothing. Luckily, I’ve seen the name KRANEPOOL before and KEVIN is a standard American first name (though I thought I’d need a Spanish name to go with Correia). I’m okay with a lot of pop culture in the puzzle, but I don’t enjoy a baseball pile-up.

I like the 3×10 and 4×9 corner stacks—their short crossings are neither “wow!” or “ugh,” so I’ll take it.

Notes:

  • 15a. [Legendary lutist], ALAN-A-DALE. I leaned on the crossings here.
  • 16a. [TV host Chung], ALEXA. Heard of her; have no idea what she hosts. The other halfway famous ALEXA is Alexa Ray Joel, Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley’s pop singer daughter.
  • 28a. [Character in "Unforgiven"], CAPITAL U. I was almost talking myself into a cowboy named Capiteau.
  • 28d. [With 33-Across, "The Voice" vocal coach], CEE LO GREEN like an EMU egg. He’s taking season 4 off (Shakira and Usher are taking the place of Cee Lo and Xtina) but is due to return next season.
  • 44a. [0-0], POINTLESS. I wanted a question mark for the clue, but the dictionary does give a meaning for “without a point scored.”
  • 4d. [Old-time actress Bennett], ENID. Okay! Raise your hand if this is your kind of pop culture.
  • 7d. [Beefy Provençal stew], DAUBE. Never heard of it.
  • 13d. [Monster], EXTRA-LARGE. Like monster trucks.

Top fill: SOBERED UP, SADDLEBAG, ODD MAN OUT, LAST SUPPER, OPENING ACT, NOSY PARKER.

Four stars.

Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 04.27.13 by Brad Wilber

Apologies in advance, but my reviews for the next couple of weeks will be briefer than usual, as I’m in the middle of a finals crunch.

There’s a lot to like about this puzzle. Though some may have bristled at it, my favorite section of the puzzle by far was the CAT’S-PAW / KATAKANA / EPOXYING / KEY OF C corner. No trashy fill, lots of visual interest, and a broad range of knowledge tested (vocabulary, language, literature, science, music, sports). The other sections of the puzzle were smooth sailing for me: nothing too tricky, no ugly fill, a few bright spots (BRAQUE, SQUID INK, SVELTE, BRISBANE, ED HELMS, I AM SAM), but mostly just solid all-around.

The clue for 38d, ENORMITY [Unfathomable size] might ruffle a few feathers, as enormity‘s primary definition is “great wickedness.” Here to explain is the American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel:

Usage Note: Enormity is frequently used to refer simply to the property of being great in size or extent, but many would prefer that enormousness (or a synonym such as immensity) be used for this general sense and that enormity be limited to situations that demand a negative moral judgment, as in Not until the war ended and journalists were able to enter Cambodia did the world really become aware of the enormity of Pol Pot’s oppression. Fifty-nine percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of enormity as a synonym for immensity in the sentence At that point the engineers sat down to design an entirely new viaduct, apparently undaunted by the enormity of their task. This distinction between enormity and enormousness has not always existed historically, but nowadays many observe it. Writers who ignore the distinction, as in the enormity of the President’s election victory or the enormity of her inheritance, may find that their words have cast unintended aspersions or evoked unexpected laughter.

I don’t know what circles the Usage Panel runs in, but I don’t think I would want to hang out with someone who would outright laugh at this use of enormity.

Only three clues with question marks in the entire puzzle, which might be why I found it so straightforward: the aforementioned 17a, EPOXYING [Modeling job?]; 33a, ELS [Legal extremes?]; and 23d, LITMUS [Chem test paper?].

This puzzle would also be a good place for aspiring collegians to start studying SAT words: we’ve got 3d, BLANDISH [Flatter in a cajoling way]; 41d, BROOKS [Tolerates]; 44d, IMPUGN [Call into question]; 46d, PLINTH [Statue base]; and 31a, DESPOTIC [Wielding absolute power].

4.1 stars from me. Until next week!

Bruce Sutphin’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 4 27 13 “Saturday Stumper” Sutphin

Feh. I did not enjoy this puzzle, what with its handful of roll-your-own words and a central pile-up of things that I couldn’t reconcile.

I opted for the slangy KLUDGE for 46a: [Hack], but it turned out that the “person who does dull routine work” sense of the clue word was intended, DRUDGE. Having KLUDGE in place (and it would’ve been my favorite entry in this puzzle!) thoroughly blocked my ability to finish the crossings above it. I also had TENET instead of TENOR for 25a: [Word from the Latin for ''hold''], which meant that the 21d: [Online offering of big-box retailers] space was looking like LE*ALAK, which is nonsensical. I don’t care for that clue for LOCAL AD—have not encountered this particular sort of local ad. I had no idea that RENOIR was our 26d: [Wagner portraitist]; I wouldn’t have guessed a French painter. I pieced together that 31a: ["El mediodía o la medianoche''] wanted the Spanish for “twelve” (midday or midnight), but wasn’t sure if it was DOZE or DOCE. Oy vey!

The roll-your-owniness that I found offputting included VENTLESS, SMITERS, ELOPERS, and LARGENESS. Yes, they’re all valid words, but their root words are not usually joined to these particular word endings. You put one or two of them in a puzzle and I might not notice; four of them will stick in the craw.

Favorite clues:

  • 43a. [Part of the Armored AutoGroup], STP. STP is dreadfully boring repeater fill, but hey! Fresh clue.
  • 60a. [Science 101 microscope specimen], ONION. Because it’s thin and translucent and you can see the cell walls, right? Interesting clue.
  • 12d. [It's made with anise and fennel], ABSINTHE. And this is why I don’t drink absinthe.

I don’t care for TAN being clued as a trigonometry 63d: [Calculator button] when SINE is already in the puzzle. All those people with math phobias are going to shut down completely. It’s akin to the non-baseball-fans’ shutdown in today’s NYT.

The fill is mostly solid and the clues are mostly solid, but I really did not enjoy this puzzle. It may be a 4-star puzzle for which I had a 2-star solving experience.

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21 Responses to Saturday, April 27, 2013

  1. RK says:

    ALANADALE/DAUBE/ULLA and CAPITALU/OLIVET crossings were a no-go. Hardish and not much fun for me.

  2. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Not raising my hand for Enid — (wasn’t there also someone named Enid Bagnold?) — and don’t know Alexa — (wanted it to be Connie Chung) — but at least the puzzle wasn’t overloaded with Enids and Alexas, and I liked it fine. Interesting and varied fill. I’ve learned the Ceelo person from puzzles, (and from Amy), and I remembered Ed Kranepool from the Miracle Mets, and was always a Robin Hood fan as a kid. Didn’t know Correia. Did wonder momentarily why anyone would be blessing an E Mall in 1941.

    The serious nit here is defining “Daube” as necessarily including beef, which it doesn’t. A “daube” is just a stew. The most common and familiar usage is “Daube de boeuf” but it doesn’t have to be boeuf. That’s somewhat important, since there is another . . . er . . . slang usage, e.g. “Quelle daube” or “C’est de la daube”, meaning “That’s a bunch of s***”.

  3. Gareth says:

    Pretty close to a DNF… As it was, toughest Saturday of the year for me! (Stop mocking me Amy!) Very segmental solving. Top-left then top-right in Friday-ish time. Then struggled to get traction in bottom-right until CINEMA (great clue and great a-ha! off C). Bottom-left even more so: nothing below ESAU. Except NOSearound, which fouled everything up, until I decided it just had to be wrong even though it was obviously right! Last was the middle and even more sweating: CEELO/GREEN was hard to see with no crosses. Never heard of PEAGRAVEL or EMALL or KRANEPOOL or that particular KEVIN. Wanted EMALL to be EMIL(E/Y). This reminded me of a Mark Diehl puzzle: very little connection between the segments; in this case the connections either were unknowns: PEAGRAVEL and KRANEPOOL, or tough clues: IPODNANO (Brilliant!) and CAPITALU (meh.)

  4. huda says:

    NYT:

    “I definitely slowed down at the baseball intersection of 30a/30d”. Me too Amy… I just didn’t finish in 4 minutes… How do you slow down anywhere and finish a Saturday in 4 minutes?

    Lots of specific stuff I did not know… in fact, if I had walked into a party with ULLA, ALEXA, ENID, KEVIN and KRANEPOOL, I’d have no idea I was in the presence of greatness. CEELO GREEN is only vaguely familiar, although I have watched the Voice this season a couple of times- I love how sometimes they make up their mind after one note. Amazing!

    Still, I thought it was a very good puzzle. I liked the mix of areas it covered, and the fact that I could work out some stuff if I thought about it for a few seconds– e.g. NOBLE GAS. The SW fell like a Monday, the NE was a bit of a struggle, but that intersection that slowed Amy down– oh well… I will try to remember some of this good stuff.
    ****

  5. David L says:

    Odd that Gareth yesterday linked to the guidelines for constructing NYT puzzles, which included the admonition to “never let two obscure words cross” — and today we get _EVIN/_RANEPOOL. I settled on “D” for the cross, perhaps because I was talking to someone called Devin just last week, it seems to go better than Kevin with a Hispanic last name, and DRANEPOOL has a certain charm to it, don’t you think?

    This strikes me as a prototypically unfair cross — if you don’t know either name, how can you possibly guess right?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I am largely in agreement with you. [Actor Bacon of "Whatever He's In"] would have been a fairer clue for the double-baseball-but-not-Babe-Ruth-famous crossing.

      And while KEVIN is a more common name than DEVIN, you were wise to assume the D, given that there wouldn’t be many famous names to clue DEVIN with, whereas we have KEVINs Bacon, Kline, and James, to name three movie actors.

      • Dan F says:

        Wow, I find myself disagreeing with both Amy and John!

        I don’t think that DEVIN instead of KEVIN was a good guess, at least not for those reasons. This is a Saturday puzzle, so the clue would never be [Actor Bacon/Kline/James of XYZ] — that would be too easy. (Although “James” as a first name/last name misdirect could work.) It’s like a corollary of Occam’s Razor: the most standard/logical letter is probably right.

        That said, I didn’t care for the tone-deaf double-baseball crossing, when there are plenty of semi-obscure Kevins in other fields…

        • john farmer says:

          Dan, I agree! But if you’re disagreeing with me, then I disagree with that. Maybe I should just have said “Feyer point on crossing baseball clues.” I like your Occam corollary.

    • john farmer says:

      Fair point on crossing baseball clues. But I wouldn’t say either name is “obscure.” Ed Kranepool was a big name in baseball, especially in New York, and Kevin Correia (of Portuguese descent) is a current-day all-star. Household names today, probably not. But that doesn’t make them obscure.

      Hardest cross for me today was in the LAT. WIGGLE seemed too right for me to question so I missed a letter. Anyway, loved seeing SQUID INK. And KRANEPOOL. Good couple of puzzles.

  6. sbmanion says:

    Kranepool was my first entry. I wasn’t sure if Kevin was spelled normally.

    NW, SE, NE, SW. CEELO was my last entry.

    Tough for me.

    Steve

  7. Karen says:

    I struggled throughout the middle names, with CEELO, KEVIN, and mArIsALU (that was a doh moment) all across, and down were KRANEPOOL, GREEN, and way over there OLIVET. (No one else dismayed by the latter one?)

  8. Brendan says:

    As a avid baseball fan, I knew KEVIN from Correia, but he is not famous and only marginally above average, one random all star appearance notwithstanding. Every team is required to have at least one all star, and Correia benefitted from being a decent pitcher on a bad Pittsburgh Pirates team. However, I did not know Ed KRANEPOOL, probably because I’m too young.

    I thought this puzzle was very difficult. Took me an hour when a Saturday rarely takes me more than half an hour. I somehow managed to guess properly on ULLA and DAUBE to get the to-me-incoherent ALANADALE. NOSYPARKER is also nonsense to me, but at least I could get all the crosses. Took me a while to convince myself that DEXTRAL was actually a word. Good puzzle, but not easy at all, at least for me.

  9. Evad says:

    Next time I’m on ebay or etsy, I’m saying “Bless E-MALL!”

    Had to Google KRANEPOOL, but did guess KEVIN correctly.

  10. janie says:

    of the three puzzles today, the nyt provided the smoothest solve and the “stumper” the thorniest (came here for *lots* of assists; somethin’ about the clue/fill combos just wasn’t clicking — almost at all…); w/ the lat somewhere in between. for me, anyway.

    but also experienced deja vu all over again, with EXTRA LARGE, ENORMITY and LARGENESS. is this some sort of a TREND?

    oh — and another one here for WIGGLE instead of WAGGLE. i can still see the mother of a childhood friend getting ready to tee off. definitely the former!

    ;-)

  11. Bob Bruesch says:

    LAT Wilber’s clues a bit nonsensical – i.e. “tapped off” for ASH, couldn’t find KATAKANA anywhere. I remind you the KEY OF C has two parts – major and minor (with an E flat). Let’s be more specific!

  12. John Haber says:

    I’m with those who found a ton of pretty bad or obscure crossings, and I won’t repeat those others mentioned. “The Voice” name crossing itself was the killer for me, and there was nothing to be but guess, although I stared at what I assumed was “Ceelo” and found it unlikely. (Why is garbage TV deemed so much less obscure than baseball, tough as that was even for a New Yorker, especially as KEVIN looked most like a real name?) Note, too, that someone not a revolutionary could have been a “Royalist,” so another name you have either to know or to guess from the sound. (I finally remembered it.) But my last to fall was the NW, in part because I kept thinking of “legendary” in Greek terms, though of course Orpheus wasn’t fitting and anyway a lute isn’t a lyre. No one else has mentioned, but POINTLESS also seems odd in this sense, and chemists haven’t used RARE GAS in that sense in a century. Feel glad it’s over.

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