Saturday, June 8, 2013

Newsday 4:59 
NYT 4:36 
LAT 5:10 (Andy) 
CS 6:15 (Dave) 

David Quarfoot’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 8 13, no. 0608

Did you know that Will Shortz is currently cavorting in Alaska on a table tennis tour? Sunset’s around midnight—who wouldn’t enjoy visiting Alaska during those long summer days?

I couldn’t help laughing when I encountered ERNE ([Cliff dweller]) in David Quarfoot’s Saturday puzzle. Third straight day! This may be a record. I checked Wikipedia to see if the ERNE is found in Alaska, and it may on rare occasions fly over from eastern Siberia.

ERNE, of course, is not the most notable answer in DQ’s puzzle. Here’s my top 10 11 list:

  • 1a. [One was first purchased in 2008], IPHONE APP.
  • 15a. [Title for Schwarzenegger], MR. OLYMPIA. That title was the subject of a Learned League trivia question last month: “Name the Austrian who, in 1970 through 1975 and again in 1980, won the professional contest that was won from 1984 through 1991 by American Lee Haney, 1992 through 1997 by Englishman Dorian Yates, and 1998 though 2005 by American Ronnie Coleman (and he remains today by far the best-known person to have won this contest).” (I went with Wolfgang Puck. Oops.)
  • 17a. [One going through the exercises?], P.E. TEACHER. Goes with the bodybuilding a bit, as does I’M PUMPED.
  • 24a. ["Toast of the Town" host], ED SULLIVAN, full name.
  • 40a. [Digs, with "on"], GROOVES. More fun clued as a verb than a noun.
  • 47a. [Crooked bones?], LOADED DICE. “Bones” is slang for dice.
  • 61a. [Crisp salad ingredient from across the Pacific], ASIAN PEAR.
  • 63a. [Child support payer, in modern lingo], BABY DADDY.
  • 3d. [Item used in an exotic massage], HOT STONE. Ouch?
  • 38d. [Moneymaker topping a Web site], BANNER AD. Note the lack of a banner ad on this page? We are reader-supported.
  • 39d. [Milk and milk and milk], BLEED DRY.

I don’t know about you, but I found this puzzle a good bit easier than the Friday puzzle. Same for you?

I like this clue: 33d. [Roman numeral that's also a name], LIV. I have a niece whose folks call her MIM, although 1999 never seems to get written that way.

48d. [2008 documentary about the national debt] clues I.O.U.S.A., which was made by the Wordplay crossword documentary team. Their latest project is a film about Studio H, this innovative high school program.

Two mystery items:

  • 12d. [Northern Quebec's ___ Peninsula], UNGAVA. Never heard of it. It’s more Inuit than French-Canadian. One person for every 9.7 square miles.
  • 44d. [Cricket violation], NO BALL. I noticed that a couple of the top spellers at the Scripps bee were cricket fans, but I never encounter any cricket around these parts.

Any puzzle with more than 10 hot answers gets a 4.5-star rating from me. Two songs for you to choose from in parting: the Platters’ recording of ONLY YOU ([1955 doo-wop hit]) and the entirely different “Only You” song by Yaz (or, to Brits, Yazoo), complete with cheesy early-’80s keyboard action but terrific vocals and melody.

P.S. to the men who brought us today’s puzzle: 10a. [Big top features?] is a really weird clue for D CUPS. What do you mean by “top”—shirt or bikini top? Most bikini tops do not have any actual bra-sizing to them. And if they do, a D cup really is not all that big. In a world where bras are sold in cup sizes up to N, D is nothin’. Quit trying to be sly with your cup size clues, fellas.

Updated Saturday morning:

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Having a Bawl” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Kind of unusual theme for something that we do for entertainment (solving puzzles, that is)–four theme entries contain the letters CRY imbedded in them:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 06/08/13

  • I thought at first that [It's both mysterious and amusing] was referring to me, but then I realized the clue would be “He’s both…” not “It’s both…”, so I then came up with CRYPTIC HUMOR. Is this really a genre of humor? For some reason, this theme song comes to mind, I guess because they were “mysterious and cooky.”
  • The CRY moves one place to the right in [Fast drying artist's medium] or ACRYLIC PAINT.
  • Surprised that the CRY moves all the way to the second word in [Bette Midler's "Parental Guidance" costar] or BILLY CRYSTAL. Also, I was surprised that movie was used in the clue; he’s had so many much more memorable roles, in my humble opinion.
  • Finally, the CRY moves all the way to the right in [What a white whale might be capable of] or VOICE MIMICRY. Whoa, that’s a complex concept for a puzzle about crying.

As implied above, I expected the CRY to move one letter to the right throughout the four entries–did that bother you, or were you ok with it just moving to the right in general? Seems like a rather strange set of entries, without checking I would think there would be a lot of phrases that have those letters in them that aren’t as obscure as the first and last entries. Anyway, my FAVE entry was [Dinner interrupter, often], or a ROBOCALL. Nice modern term, even though we all hate to get them. My UNFAVE entry was LAINIE Kazan of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Never heard of her, and having that next to LIMEYS for [Brits] made it a bit tough to suss out. (I wasn’t sure if the plural was LIMIES or not.)

Peter A. Collins’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 6.8.13 by Peter A. Collins

I’m back after a week off. Thanks to Matt for filling in while I was away!

Every time I see a Peter Collins byline, I cringe. This has nothing to do with his skill as a constructor, which by most standards (not the least of which being a great number of publications) is beyond reproach. It’s because our interests tend not to align, which makes for a solve filled with huh?saughs, and GRRs. My solving experience is worst with his weekday puzzles, whose themes tend to concern things I don’t particularly like or care about, such as ’60s movies, ’60s movies, ’60s music, ’60s music, ’60s music, and to a lesser extent, ’60s music. Furthermore, Peter Collins loves baseball, whereas I would be pleased never to see a baseball clue in a crossword again.

However, I tend to have a better time with Peter Collins themeless puzzles. In particular, I enjoyed this 2012 NYT Friday puzzle, even though (or, rather, especially because) it contained a minitheme having to do with–you guessed it–’60s music. And although today’s LAT puzzle had some of the hallmarks of Peter Collins puzzles that get my goat, it was a great solve, replete with long, snazzy entries and clever clues:

  • 17a, KIA SPECTRA [2000s Korean compact]. Not the blah KIA or the less-blah-but-slightly-suspect SPECTRA of other puzzles. As the clue alludes to, Kia doesn’t make the Spectra anymore; its successor is the Forte, which I guess hasn’t sold well enough to become a common clue/answer combo.
  • 26a, AS ALL GET OUT [To the max]. These long entries with a bunch of short words always trip me up. At first, I bristled a bit at the inclusion of “as,” but the more I look at it the more I like it.
  • 31a, PIGEON DROP [Sleight-of-hand swindle]. For all you aspiring con artists, here’s how to pull one of these off. [Disclaimer: Don't do this.]
  • 38a, GOALIE MASK [Shot protection]. Great clue, took me forever to puzzle it out.

    CuJo (Curtis Joseph)’s Cujo-themed goalie mask.

  • 41a, LUCKY CHARMS [Horseshoes, e.g.]. This one leaped right out at me, possibly because the clue could refer to either (a) good luck charms or (b) Lucky Charms, the cereal.
  • 42a, HE’S SO SHY [1980 hit with the lyric "It took a long time to know him"]. Even if you haven’t heard of the Pointer Sisters song, the lyric evokes the title pretty well.
  • 51a, ART EXHIBIT [Curator's event]. Not much else this could have been.
  • 4d, PISTOLEER [Wild Bill Hickok, for one].
  • 11d, MANDIBULAR [Lower jaw-related].
  • 12d, SPOONERISM [Hated the book, perhaps]. Every time this shows up in a crossword, I’m in complete awe of how good the clue is. Maybe I underestimate how easy it is to come up with amusing spoonerisms?
  • 27d, SINGLES BAR [Where business is always picking up?]. I’m not sure I’d characterize the business of a singles bar as “picking up.” Certainly the goings-on, but not the business itself. Maybe someone can explain this to me better in the comments.

Other pluses: ED KOCH (the entry, not the human), VOODOO, and WOOLLY.

Requisite baseball clues:

  • 40a, CLE [The Tribe, on scoreboards].
  • 57a, RED [Bench, once]. Johnny.
  • Notably, not 54a, SAVE [Put on a thumb drive, say].

Weirdness:

  • 36d, CKS [Most ATM deposits]. Ugly.
  • 10d, ELIOT [Economist Janeway].The crossings are all fair, but at least for me this stands out as harder than much of the rest of the puzzle. I’d have preferred good old George Eliot.

    Oh, right. Different Janeway.

And of course there’s the usual crosswordese/partials/abbreviations, but nothing new or exciting. Another fine Saturday LAT, another 4-star rating from me. Until next week!

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” by “Les Ruff”

Newsday crossword solution, “Saturday Stumper” 6 8 13

This puzzle wasn’t too difficult, so the crossings pointed me clearly towards LINOLEUM as the answer to 60a. [Cover with burlap], but I had to read up on linoleum to understand the clue. It’s made from solidified linseed oil and assorted renewable materials with a canvas or burlap backing. Turns out it’s a fairly “green” type of flooring, biodegradable and made with recycled bits of whatnot.

Not much in this puzzle was too obliquely clued, iffy, or exciting. Without further ado, 10 more clues:

  • 27a. [Medicine category], SYRUP. I know what you were thinking: categories like antibiotics, statins, opiates. More generic here.
  • 31a. [Omega-3 source], ROE. I was leaning towards COD. The omega-3 Wikipedia page mentions nothing at all about fish eggs—just fish, krill, chicken eggs, and whatnot.
  • 39a. [Unwelcome one], BAD NEWS. As in “Look out, he is bad news,” not the sort of bad news you hear.
  • 51a. [''Wideo Wabbit'' antagonist], ELMER Fudd. I’m guessing this isn’t a Bugs Bunny short from the ’40s or ’50s.
  • 3d. [Pioneering microcomputer], ALTAIR. I know what you were thinking. “How can ENIAC fit into 5 squares?” The “micro” here is the key part of the clue. The Altair 8800 was a 1975 computer much, much smaller than the big-as-a-house ENIAC. (Altair is also the name of a star.)
  • 13d. [Tool with a pistol grip], TENON SAW. Wouldn’t know it if you handed one to me, unless it was labeled or you said, “Here, this is a tenon saw.”
  • 14d. [Anagram of ''seesawed''], SEAWEEDS. I like anagrams, within reason.
  • 26d. [Sweatshirt style], VEE-NECK. Blech. “V-neck” is the dictionary term I see.
  • 41d. [Nation on the Indian Ocean], SOMALIA. Almost went with COMOROS, which shares the OM, but that is in the Indian Ocean.
  • 51d. [Name meaning ''king''], ELROY. Technically, “the king.”
Did you know that 61d: LEE, a [Common Korean surname], is my favorite surname? I like it because if you see a name like “Michael Lee,” you’ll have no idea if that person is mostly likely Asian, African-American, or white. 

3.75 stars.

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22 Responses to Saturday, June 8, 2013

  1. sbmanion says:

    I also found this puzzle to be much easier than yesterday’s.

    MR. OLYMPIA was my first entry. Arnold is a midget compared with the most recent winners. When eight-time champion Ronnie Coleman competed, he had a 58″ chest, 24″ arms, 36″ thighs and tapered to 297 lbs. for the competition. The MS. OLYMPIA competition is now divided into three categories, labeled briefly as muscle, fitness and figure. I have always been amazed at how little negative feedback there is for these obviously juiced behemoths.

    Last entry was the G in Ungava. I should have known Seger, but was not sure. Did anyone actually know Ungava?

    Steve

    • oeuftete says:

      Did anyone actually know Ungava?

      SEGER + UNGAVA got me in to that corner nicely, so yes. I think it’s relatively familiar to Canadians like me.

  2. Andy says:

    Can’t think of a better name for an ERNE than ERNIE!

  3. Gareth says:

    This felt like a normal to slightly easy Friday. I too noticed the curious theme going through all this: MROLYMPIA, PETEACHER, IMPUMPED, ENERGYDRINK. DQ’s xwordinfo shows him all shirtless and hunky so I’m guessing that isn’t a coincidence…

    The asterisk is because when I finished I had to change CCUP to DCUP…

  4. Matt says:

    I was doing fine on the NYT (which I liked, really) until I had to come up with a five-letter word that means ‘Sound’. AUDIO? No. MUSIC? No. LUCID? No. No, no, and no. The fact that it crossed two obscurities didn’t help.

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: Enjoyable puzzle, especially after my humiliation yesterday. A very manly puzzle too! Beyond Arnold, the energy drink, the pumping, there are all the male guests– Cobb, Nastase, Bob Seger, Ed Sullivan, Ted, Baby Daddy. And to add to the vibe are Dice, Curse Words, with the counterpoint of a Hot Stone massage, Open Toed sandals and D Cups! Interesting!

    I laughed when Hot Stone popped right up– because I was thinking about it in lieu of that Brazilian that came up a few days ago. Somehow, that kept it at the forefront of my mind, along with the Ernes.

    I had StoKE instead of SLAKE, and crossed that erroneous O with NooNoo instead of LaaLaa. And that crooked bones clue made no sense to me. So, that little corner was a mess for a while.

  6. ktd says:

    Very glad to see a Quarfoot puzzle today. NO BALL was an automatic entry for me. I learned about cricket back in college when I had a Nepali roommate during the 2005 Ashes series between England and Australia. That series turned out to be an instant classic which helped get me interested. Although I know most of the cricket terms, I’m still not sure what all of them really mean (I can’t picture where silly mid-off stands on the field, for instance). However, I’m pretty sure that a no-ball involves the bowler overstepping some kind of boundary when he runs up to make his delivery to the batsman.

    Amy, there is actually a cricket ground in Chicago, at Washington Park on the South Side. I’ve seen guys out there playing every summer, all in their whites.

    • sbmanion says:

      I got a big kick last year when I arrived to tutor at one of my Indian student’s home at 9:00 a.m. one Saturday and encountered about 30 cars. It was the World Cup final between India and Pakistan. I sat with the men while my student did a test. It reminded me of how kids talked baseball when I was young.

      Here is a glossary of cricket terms, including NO BALL:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_cricket_terms

      Steve

      • Gareth says:

        The Champions Trophy – the World Cup in all but name, is on as we speak. Game 3 between Aus and Eng now…

    • Gareth says:

      Silly mid-off stands close to the pitch, halfway between the sets of stumps, on the off-side (i.e. the side furthest from the batsman’s legs).

      A no-ball is when the whole of the bowler’s front foot is over a line just past the set of wickets opposite the batsman, or any of the bowler’s back foot is over a line at right angles to that line (limiting how far away from the wicket horizontally one can bowl), or the ball is over waist height without bouncing or between shoulder and head height with bouncing if the bowler has already bowled two balls in the over over shoulder height. I have no idea why all this wasn’t supplied in the clue.

      • sbmanion says:

        Gareth and ktd,

        Check the definition in the glossary of THE ASHES, which I did not know until today. Growing up in Niagara Falls, I always thought that Canadian talk radio was infinitely more literate than American talk radio–very much in the British parliamentary tradition. The British gift for headlines and hyperbole is unparalleled.

        Steve

      • ktd says:

        Merci beaucoup, Gareth!

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        If I didn’t know better, I’d think Gareth was just writing satire.

        Gareth, do American football and baseball arcana sound just as insane to you as these cricket details do to me?

  7. pannonica says:

    What do you mean by “top”—shirt or bikini top?

    I wonder if perhaps it’s not referring to clothing at all. Top just meaning torso, and calling breasts not by name but by size. That’d certainly be more controversial. though.

  8. Pete Collins says:

    Thanks for the write-up, Andy. You’ll notice that by including “He’s So Shy”, I leaped from the 60′s to the 80′s. Now I’m only 30 years behind the times.

    I loved Rich’s clue for SPOONERISM. Mine was [Belly jeans].

    - Pete

    • Andy says:

      Thanks for the excellent puzzle! I’m sure the solvers of tomorrow will scoff at my insistence on writing puzzles based on the 1990s Nickelodeon lineup or what have you, but as they say, you’ve got to write about what you know/love!

  9. Gareth says:

    I found my Saturday NYT in the LAT… Never heard of the KIASPECTRA or ASALLGETOUT or PIGEONDROP. So that section was a good 10 minutes of teeth-pulling. Desperately wanted the last to be PIGINAPOKE and the first to be an ELECTRA…

  10. ArtLvr says:

    The use of MANDIBULAR in the LAT reminded me of a history quiz: “Which U.S. President, while on a friend’s yacht during a Congressional summer recess, secretly underwent surgical removal an extensive but benign tumor in his jaw and palate, followed by reconstruction with a hard rubber prosthesis to restore his appearance?”
    Answer to follow……

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