Saturday, June 1, 2013

Newsday 9:08 
NYT 4:41 
LAT 9:03 (Matt) 
CS 6:25 (Dave) 

Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 1 13, no. 0601

I don’t know what a COG RAILWAY (28d. [How many reach the top of Pikes Peak]) is, exactly, but this is still a mighty smooth puzzle. And easier than the usual Saturday puzzle, no? Played like a Friday for me.

Here are my top 10:

  • 1a. [Stephen King horror anthology], CREEPSHOW.
  • 26a. [Home of the Aggies of the 37-Down], LAS CRUCES. I am fond of it because of that one episode of Wings where the guy from Prizzi’s Honor mixed up Las Cruces and Rock Springs, Wyoming. I exclusively pronounce “Las Cruces” with a rasp.
  • 44a. [Game of falling popularity?], TETRIS. Cute clue.
  • 55a. [What's often blowing in the wind], POLLEN. POLLEN is the answer, my friend.
  • 61a. [Painful spa treatment], BIKINI WAX. I have heard two different comedians describing their experience with a full Brazilian wax, plus read a humorist’s poetic  rendition. Sounds gruesome.
  • 66a. [Justice from the Bronx], SOTOMAYOR. Love her. Should read her memoir.
  • 39d. ["Cloth diaper" or "film camera"], RETRONYM. Acoustic guitar, landline phone …
  • 46d. [Cable channel with the slogan "Laugh More"], TVLAND. 
  • 56d. [___ Biscuit (1912 debut)], OREO. I was thinking of race horses until the crossings bailed me out.
  • 10a. [Yoke attachment], OXBOW. Boring clue, though. I much prefer OXBOW as a curved river bend or an arced lake.

I do appreciate a regular ol’ 72-word themeless with some lively answers and no tortured fill. Four stars.

Barry Silk’s LA Times freestyle — Matt’s review

Matt pinch-hitting for Andy on the LAT today, a Barry Silk freestyle. I met Barry in person at the Arlington (Va.) Puzzle Festival last year, nice guy and skilled constructor.

The puzzle grid consists of four pretty compartmentalized sections so I had to break into each one separately (though they do have some long entries in common in the middle). First of the ten 10s I cracked was EDNA FERBER at 26-d [1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist] and after a few letters its neighbor BAD ROMANCE fell [Top-10 Lady Gaga hit from "The Fame Monster" album].

TANDOOR, SHAREWARE and the tricky FOWL TIPS finished off that section, and ???????RAT clued as [Noble] dropped once I realized we were looking at a noun ending in -CRAT. Excellent CREEPAZOID entry gave me JAZZERCISE and ONION BAGEL in the SE, then JOSHUA TREE [Desert plant named for a Biblical spy] and EXPATRIATE [One likely to vote by absentee ballot] and finally I figured out the nice two-word BOSC PEAR with its unusual SCP combination.

This puzzle was all about those 10s; once I got those nailed down the central 8′s and 9′s gave way and the corners were easy to finish off with so many letters. I like all four quadrants but the SE has to win the prize because of that CREEPAZOID/JAZZERCISE/ONION BAGEL power triad.

A fun puzzle but I’ll ding it a few points for ONE B clued arbitrarily as [Spoiler of a perfect GPA] and VANESSA clued oddly as [Genus of butterfly that includes the Red Admiral] instead of as the woman’s name.

Best clue: 47-a [Shell with fish, perhaps] for TACO.

I see as I’m posting this that Barry has the NYT puzzle today, too. Bravo — guess I will go solve that one now as well.

4.05 stars.

Updated Satuday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Break in the Action” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Four theme phrases that literally “break” the word ACTION in two:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 06/01/13

  • ["Upon further thought..."] clues AFTER REFLECTION
  • [National Inquirer topic, occasionally] clues ALIEN ABDUCTION – occasionally?
  • [Tomoto juice, for one] is ACIDIC SOLUTION – my stomach can testify to this!
  • [Fictional supplier of rocket-powered roller skates and jet-propelled pogo sticks] is the ACME CORPORATION – any idea why they kept shipping stuff to Wile E. if he had no obvious means of payment?

Some nice long phrases here in a pretty clean grid, not much more one can ask for in a daily puzzle. My FAVE was the short entry HAT, clued much more complexly as [Balmoral or capuchon]–I’d never heard of either of those hats, and the first term is only familiar to me as the Scottish getaway for the British Royal Family. A capuchon is pictured on the right and is worn typically at Mardi Gras celebrations. My UNFAVE is the reacquaintance with “The Thin Man” terrier ASTA. The “The Thin Man” movie came out in 1934; I think it’s time to retire this poor pooch, don’t you?

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (pen name Anna Stiga)

Newsday crossword solution, 6 1 13 “Saturday Stumper”

Smooth fill, tough and oblique clues that eventually make sense. So what else is new? That makes it a standard Stumper, on the more difficult end of the spectrum.

My favorite seven:

  • 1a. [Batter's place], BUNDT PAN. Cake batter, not baseball. Gotta love that NDTP consonant pile-up.
  • 17a. [Worker's revenge], BEE STING. Worker bee, not human employee. If you have colleagues who arrange for their coworkers or bosses to get stung by bees, you should talk to H.R.
  • 42a. [Dr. King's ''too great a burden to bear''], HATE. Just saw the same clue in another puzzle this week, didn’t I?
  • 9d. [Beau Bridges' real first name], LLOYD. So he’s Lloyd Jr.? I had no idea. Trivia!
  • 24d. [13-time Daytime Emmy nominee], THE VIEW. Great entry.
  • 36d. [Sloth descriptor], ARBOREAL. The answer came to me because of that TV show I saw about a sloth refuge center. These creatures are so arboreal, they need a tree or a pole to poop on. And they mate up in a tree.
  • 41d. [Name meaning ''princess''], SARA. Did not know that. Amazing, considering how much time I spent as a kid reading baby name books and grooving on name meanings.

Least favorite: 1d. [Pageboy cousin], BOB CUT. I have never encountered “bob cut.” It’s just a bob.

15a looks like “O neon one” to me.

24a: [YouTube features] turned out to be TEXT ADS. I assume this means those irksome lines of text that appear across the bottom of many videos, thankfully with a little “x” to hide them. Haven’t heard them referred to as anything, so TEXT ADS was slow to fall.

I also lingered over 5d: [''Gone with the Wind'' launched it in '88]. I wanted it to be TCM, Turner Classic Movies, or the rival channel whose name escaped me until just now, AMC, American Movie Classics (“In October, 2002, AMC changed its format from a classic movie channel to a broader-based movie network to appeal to a larger audience, including younger folks. We have refreshed our movie library to add some newer titles to the mix, but still feature a wide range of movies.” I never got the memo.) Turns out it’s TNT, which is not primarily a movie channel nor is it devoted to old programming.

3.75 stars from me. Didn’t love the puzzle this week.

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19 Responses to Saturday, June 1, 2013

  1. Huda says:

    NY: I agree, Amy, easy for a Saturday and very smooth. That doesn’t mean no hiccups for me, though. I was stuck in the NW, had _ REE_ _HOW and thought FREE THROW? What does that have to do with Stephen King? I also went through LOGRAIL and DOGRAIL before getting to COGRAIL… This is why I’m slow– I think silly thoughts that I have to undo.

    But some things just landed in my lap, like SOTOMAYOR and ERECTOR SET. When we were kids my uncle, who was studying engineering in the US, sent us a Meccano ERECTOR SET. We had never seen anything like it and spent hours and hours with it, so I have a soft spot for them.

    My main nit is LEAN and LEANT intersecting…

    • Akil says:

      PS. Sorry, I think I messed up and rated the Newsday instead of the NY Times, giving it 4 stars… My apologies! (not trying to be a yob…)
      And wow, 2 Barry Silks in one day!

  2. Bencoe says:

    Didn’t think the NYT was difficult, exactly, but had some struggles. COG I didn’t want to believe for railway either.
    But did like ERECTOR SET, CREEPSHOW, TETRIS, and RETRONYM.
    Overall a nice Saturday.

  3. Gareth says:

    Two great puzzles… LAT has it by a nose… Putting PSS for PPS meant I was confronted with C?RSETING for [Acoustically, it affects treble but not bass]. I giggled at the idea of CORSETING being a correct answer!

  4. RK says:

    Anyone find out what the “two”answer was about in yesterday’s puzzle?

  5. ArtLvr says:

    TETRIS reminds me of a nerdy friend who sent me an early copy of that some years before I even had a computer… I never did find out what it was all about!

  6. RK says:

    http://www.freetetris.org/game.php

    Try it. Left and right arrows, up arrow rotates.

    • Gareth says:

      My favourite version was Tetripz. Psychadelic Tetris with the difficulty levels named after different drugs: coffee, ganga, PCB, LCD I forget the others… There are distortion effects, swaying screens and, sometimes the screen is turned on it’s side or upside-down just to mess you around even more!

    • ArtLvr says:

      Many thanks, RK!

  7. Mike T says:

    Thought this was a great construction. With really enjoyable fill. I have to ask if anyone other than me had BRAZILIAN in 61-Across before figuring out it was BIKINIWAX?

    • Huda says:

      I did think about Brazilian. But, I also thought about Hot Rocks, although it doesn’t fit.

      While Brazilians get credit, these traditions originated in Asia. I’ve always found it amusing that the people best known for such practices are the women of the Nair Caste, who removed hair from all over their body except for their heads. I wonder whether the folks at the hair removal product Nair knew that? Wiki says the name may be a porte manteau for No Hair. But may be there was a sophisticated Mad man behind the scenes.

  8. sbmanion says:

    I found this to be harder than most of you, although the entire NW to SE diagonal fell quickly once I got untracked

    I was sure ANSWER had to be blowing in the wind and that held me up in the SW. It took me a long time to unravel the center East as I wanted the city to be Laredo or Laramie and could not see LASCRUCES for quite a while.

    I am not sure if I understand HURRICANE for GREAT DEPRESSION. Is it a barometer reference?

    Steve

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yes, it’s barometric pressure. Hurricanes have super-low barometric pressure. The categories of tropical cyclones range from the strongest hurricane/typhoon down to the tropical storm and then the weaker, less rotational tropical depression. So the clue evokes “tropical depression” for me as well as alluding to the low pressure.

  9. derek says:

    it seems confusing to have two dates for each crossword puzzle area. Recommend changing it to only one date; that being the news stand publish date of the newspaper that carried the crossword puzzle. Or please explain the logic of having dual dates.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Many of the puzzles are released on line the night before, and that’s when we blog the NYT and some of the other puzzles. The post title clearly specifies what day’s puzzles are included; the URL simply reflects the actual time the post was published.

  10. Jerome says:

    O NEON ONE is the title of an ode to a tetra.

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