Saturday, June 15, 2013

Newsday 7:54 
NYT 6:03 
LAT 3:17 (Andy) 
CS 5:37 (Dave) 

Today is “thank the whole Crossword Fiend crew” day! The smart and entertaining folks who are currently reviewing puzzles here regularly are pannonica, Gareth Bain, Matt Gaffney, Joon Pahk, Sam Donaldson, Dave Sullivan, Andy Kravis, and Janie Smulyan. Dave also holds down the fort as our capable webmaster. Past and future contributors include Jeffrey Krasnick, Doug Peterson, Neville Fogarty, Angela Halsted, T Campbell, Jared Hersh, Seth Grossinger, Wade Williams, and Sara Kaplan. (Who am I forgetting here?) I couldn’t maintain my sanity without everyone’s help. Let’s have a rousing round of applause for the entire corps de Fiend!

As of 11 am Central time on Saturday, there are 29 hours to go on Peter Gordon’s Kickstarter venture for Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords. A mere $5 will get you all 20 weekly puzzles for July to December! Peter’s close to the goal but still needs another $990 pledged to make the project a go. Think of all the disappointed backers who will get no puzzles if the $10,000 fund-raising goal isn’t met.

Ned White’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 15 13, no 0615

I have some doubts about this puzzle. Or douts. Two nearby answers with OUT in them, one a total oddball answer I’ve never, ever encountered before? 28a: LOUD OUTS, [They result when solidly hit baseballs are caught]? Huh. And then there’s 38a: HEAD OUT, [Go], which would have been fine if I hadn’t just spent time trying to tease out 28a’s answer.

I’m feeling unfocused in my approach to this puzzle, so bear with me as we march randomly through some stuff. For 13d: [Herpetologist's supply], I wanted ANTIVENIN or ANTIVENOM, but it turned out to be ANTISERUM. That looked vaguely fishy to me but it pans out. (The linked antiserum is no good for boomslang bites, but you’re all set for mambas and cobras.)

I think the accent mark in 11d: [Fêmur, por exemplo] is pointing us towards the Portuguese OSSO rather than the Italian osso.

I love the BAOBAB TREE (9a. [With 25-Across, it has a huge trunk]). My favorite tree-I-learned-about-as-a-kid-that-doesn’t-grow-around-here.

4d. [Water board] clues AQUAPLANE. No idea what this thing is. Looking it up … it’s a board you ride on in the water, being pulled by a speedboat. Huh.

My vote for Most Likely to Mire Solvers in Tough Crossings: 62a. [Site of a 1944 British Army defeat], ARNHEM. The H is in BAHN, 53d. [German way], and the M is in ULTIMO, 45d. [Last month].

I reckon pannonica will be along later to shed some light on 9d. [Saxophone great Sidney] BECHET.

Things I learned from crosswords back in the day: ESSENE, ELEA, REO, EL AL, ALER (ugh—this one is newer than the others), UTE as shorthand for sport utility vehicle, ATLI the Hun king, and the ELAND. Eleareoelalalereland is not a place I’d like to vacation.

3.5 stars.

Updated Saturday morning:

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Slice of the Action” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Today, we literally “slice” (or take out) the words “OF THE” from four theme phrases:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 06/15/13

  • [Estate attorneys?] are WILL PEOPLE. One might argue that the “will of the people” is less and less represented by those who serve in public office, at least this particular reviewer’s will.
  • A [Hot flash?] is also a HEAT MOMENT. Something done in the “heat of the moment” is often regretted later.
  • [Tin Woodman's focus?] clues HEART MATTER. Didn’t constructor Bob Klahn recently spoonerize this to “Mart of the Hatter,” or am I mixing up my commentaries?
  • A [Magician's profession?] could be TRICKS TRADE. “Tricks of the trade” are not widely known ways of doing something in a particular industry, like how car salespeople come up with a price of a new car.

I had a hard time figuring out the theme device at first, half expecting a revealer at the end to clue me in. But finally the somewhat awkwardness of the resulting phrases led me to how they were developed. (I wonder if in a remake of The Sixth Sense, might Cole Sear, when seeing dead heiresses walking around, say “I see WILL PEOPLE”?) Luckily, the puzzle is redeemed by some quality fill like STOP THAT!, BLAST OFF and home to some great iced tea, the state of ARIZONA. I am a bit curious about cluing ECO as [Start to babble?]–is “ecobabble” a thing or is this referring to an ecosystem’s “babbling” brook? My FAVE entry was SET SMILE for [Candidate's expression while working a room], which I can totally envision. My UNFAVE has got to be the latest installment in playground retorts (here as [Juvenile rebuttal]) or ARE SO. These type of entries ARE SO ready to be retired, don’t you think?

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

LAT Puzzle 06.15.13 by Brad Wilber

Happy U.S. Open weekend, and happy early Father’s Day! (Oh, and, uh, happy birthday to me!) A return to normalcy this week, as Brad Wilber once again takes the reins of the LAT Saturday puzzle.

I was shocked to discover that this grid had only 70 words. It looks (and solves) like a higher word count puzzle. I think my surprise came mostly from the fact that the grid is novel: it’s not like most of the LATs, which have 10 or 11 stacks in the corners, nor is it like the Saturday Newsday standards, which have four 7×7 blocks in each corner. This one has just four 10-letter marquee entries, stacked in pairs, and they’re all beauties:

  • 21a, LIQUID SMOKE [Barbecue sauce additive]. Liquid smoke is created through a process called destructive distillation, which basically sounds like mad science.
  • 25a, STUDS TERKEL ["Hard Times" chronicler]. “Hard Times” = Dickens, right? Not always. This “Hard Times” is, ironically, subtitled “An Oral History of the Great Depression.”
  • 46a, FLOOR MODELS [They're often discounted]. As in price, rather than as in ideas. I misread this at first as [They're often discontinued], but fortunately enough that clue also leads to the same answer.
  • 51a, RAN THE GAMUT [Skipped nothing]. I expected the more crossword-common RAN FROM A TO Z, and was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t.

Other good stuff:

  • 32d, PAN FLUTES [Folk instruments named for a Greek god]. Fun fact*: In Spanish, “pan flutes” means “bread flutes.” [*Fact may not be factual.]
  • 12d, I LIKE IT ["Thumbs up!"]. I like it! Thumbs up!
  • 13d, GAZELLE [Epitome of grace].With the G and final E in place, I had to keep reminding myself that giraffes are not particularly well known for their grace.

    The epitome of grace, ladies and gentlemen.

  • 6d, ARBITRARY [Capricious]. For most law-ish people out there, this was probably a gimme. Arbitrary and capricious is a well known standard of review, and they’re forever linked in my mind.
  • 22d, QUILP ["The Old Curiosity Shop" villain]. There’s the Dickens I was looking for earlier.
  • 23d, MR. SLATE [Prehistoric toon boss].Who else? Fun fact*: When I went back to my completed grid to blog this entry, I briefly wondered who Mrs. Late was. [*Fact may not be flattering.]

    Mrs. Late is her mom.

It’s rare that so much of the good stuff in a themeless is in the down entries, but it makes sense with this grid, given that almost everything over six letters long is there. I was a big fan of both of the 7×3 stacks: ALFREDO/PILATES/ADONAIS and MOLOKAI/I LIKE IT/GAZELLE. The trio in the SE of TREACLE, AIRHEAD, and CRISPY evokes an interesting combination of textures. I had very few hiccups while solving: the big one was that Bennett CERF, [Random House co-founder], was new to me. I’m more familiar with Vint Cerf, one of the “founders of the Internet.” Another possible sticking point is LIDO [Lagoon of Venice resort]. Other than that, nothing too crazy: HANA Mandlikova is pretty standard crosswordese, the suffixes OLA and ERN are fine by me, and DEI was clued in pretty much the easiest way possible, [Agnus ___].

3.5 stars from me. Until next week!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 6 15 13 “Saturday Stumper” by Brad Wilber

Feh. I got through the puzzle, though the majority of it felt like a struggle/slog. Tons of tough clues, but not many that made me go “Ah!” with pleased appreciation. Much more in the way of scowls at the misleads rather than grudging acknowledgment of having been outwitted.

One error, if you ask me: 38d. [Trial-conducting org.] clues FDA. Does the FDA actually conduct clinical trials, or does it just review the trials conducted by drug/equipment/etc. manufacturers? I think it’s the latter.

All these clues gave me pause:

  • 8a. [Wheel operator, at times], PET RAT. Using “operator” pretty loosely here.
  • 14a. [Court gaffes], AIR BALLS. Basketball court, not tennis, volleyball, or law.
  • 16a. [Where liberties are typically taken], ASHORE. On shore leave. “Liberty” can mean leave granted to a sailor. Who knew?
  • 19a. [Prelude to a new course], UEY. A U-turn before changing course? Meh.
  • 23a. [Dressing aid in a shop], ADZ. Wood shop. No salad, no clothes.
  • 31a. [Successful stumpers], ELECTEES. ELECTEE is a word I see in crosswords far more often than in political writing. Meh.
  • 33a. [Big __], OLD. Huh?? This can stand alone? Is it “big old” or “Big Old”?
  • 52a. [Practice advocate], AMA. Medical practice.
  • 57a. [Something pulled by farmers], ROOT CROP. Pulled up/out of the ground, not pulled along the surface.
  • 61a. [Without allies], SOLELY. This doesn’t feel like a reasonable equivalent to me.
  • 2d. [Name derived from a Gaelic goddess], EIRE. I did not know that. I also did not know the word had two syllables.
  • 8d. [Quaint, necessarily], PASSE. Can’t something new be old-fashioned in style without actually being passé? For example, a lacy wedding gown might be quaint, but who would call it passé?
  • 10d. [Setting for a Puccini opera], THE WILD WEST. For real? Had no idea.
  • 11d. [Showed supreme satisfaction], ROARED. I think this only works for a pleased crowd. Can one pleased person roar approval?
  • 13d. [Knotty problem], TESTER. Checked a dictionary that does not include this sense of the word TESTER. Any help?
  • 36d. [Baguette unit], ONE CARAT. Baguette-cut jewels. The unit of measure would be CARAT, though. ONE CARAT assigns a specific value to the number of units.
  • 42d. ['70s Polaroid camera], PRONTO. No recollection of this.

The fill is certainly solid, 4 stars, but the overall unpleasantness of the cluing makes me drop the puzzle to 3 stars. That’s one thing that distinguishes the tougher Saturday NYTs, Fireballs, BEQ Themeless Mondays, and Klahn CrosSynergy “Sunday Challenges”—the most difficult clues make you admire their cleverness or surprise. The tougher Newsday “Stumpers” merely try to stymie the solver rather than showing off the cluer’s wit.

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22 Responses to Saturday, June 15, 2013

  1. sbmanion says:

    My father was a high school baseball coach. One year the team got a catcher’s mitt that was both too small and so hard and padded that it could not be broken in. He gave it to me and my best friend and we played pitcher/catcher with it for years. While we were probably throwing at about 55 mph, the loud pop that the glove made when the ball was caught made us feel like we were Sandy Koufax. I don’t think I have thought about that in more than 50 years until today’s clue. I first had the logical LINEOUTS and then the nostalgic LOUDPOPS.

    ANTIVENOM didn’t help either.

    Very tough puzzle.

    Steve

  2. Howard B says:

    Interesting puzzle. I like learning new names (BECHET), and unusual terms are also kosher (ANTISERUM). What I don’t care for is invented terms that aren’t in the vernacular. LOUD OUTS is not a phrase. Baseball announcers don’t use it. Coaches don’t use it. Players don’t use it.
    Seriously, don’t make stuff up in your puzzles that might have a few Google hits or sounds plausible, but fits the grid. Please. It’s my little pet peeve. See also “I’M NOT HERE” to a lesser extent, as clued. Totally valid English, but strange in context as a cohesive phrase.
    Otherwise, had fun solving this. Lots of clever clues and unexpected twists. That’s all for now, have a great weekend!

    • Alex says:

      For what it’s worth, I hear the phrase “loud out” (in the singular) all the time on radio broadcasts of baseball games.

      • mitchs says:

        “Loud Outs” isn’t used commonly anymore but it’s certainly a phrase I recall hearing.

        • Jason F says:

          Defending this puzzle a little more:

          “Loud out” may be obscure, but it certainly isn’t a made up term.
          Maybe I watch too much baseball(?): I had LONGOUT originally, but quickly changed it to LOUDOUT when that worked better.

          Even today, if you watch an entire game or two on ESPN, I’d be surprised if you didn’t hear the term “loud out” at least once.

          • Tuning Spork says:

            I don’t think I’ve heard the phrase “loud out” since the mid ’70s. (But, then again, I can hear the phrase in Tim McCarver’s voice, so maybe I heard it in the mid-to-late-’80s when I was watching a ton of Mets games on channel 9.)

    • HH says:

      “Made-up” phrases are better than dictionary words nobody ever uses — save the latter for spelling bees.

  3. RK says:

    My thanks to the whole crew here!!

    BAOBAB/BECHET kind of sums of the NYT for me.

  4. Bencoe says:

    Was also thrown by the use of OUT in two clues so close together.
    ARNHEM is a place I’ve been through many times. I lived in the Netherlands for 5 years and it was one of the major landmarks on highway signs.

  5. Huda says:

    Bravo to the Fiend Team! Impressive Esprit de Corps!

    NYT: the NW totally got me. VUVUZELA was not coming. LOUDOUTS? Not on my radar screen.

    And a stupid error that’s on me: I had STEP ON In, which gave me BEAnPOETS!
    Nice clues for EMANUEL and DELILAH.

    And BAOBAB always reminds me of the Little Prince…

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yes! The Little Prince is where I first grew fond of the BAOBAB. Thanks for the reminder, Huda!

  6. pannonica says:

    Actually, Sidney BECHET held me up for a while, because even though he was a saxophonist, his most important early recordings were as a clarinetist. Also had BANYAN | TREE rather than BAOBAB, which is wrong two ways: instead of realizing that banyans are strangler figs, I was—perhaps influenced by the “plane” in AQUAPLANE—thinking they were the trees that have the huge planar bases.


    For Sidney Bechet

    That note you hold, narrowing and rising, shakes
    Like New Orleans reflected on the water,
    And in all ears appropriate falsehood wakes,

    Building for some a legendary Quarter
    Of balconies, flower-baskets and quadrilles,
    Everyone making love and going shares –

    Oh, play that thing! Mute glorious Storyvilles
    Others may license, grouping round their chairs
    Sporting-house girls like circus tigers (priced

    Far above rubies) to pretend their fads,
    While scholars manqués nod around unnoticed
    Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids.

    On me your voice falls as they say love should,
    Like an enormous yes. My Crescent City
    Is where your speech alone is understood,

    And greeted as the natural noise of good,
    Scattering long-haired grief and scored pity.

    (Philip Larkin, 15 January 1954)

  7. ArtLvr says:

    Three cheers for the Team! I worked out most of the NYT last night, but got hung up till morning on the NE where I wanted a DEODAR before finally seeing BAOBAB… Did anyone else go there? (Also tried ANTIVENOM before ANTISERUM.) That was quite a challenge, overall.

  8. Brucenm says:

    I liked the puzzle better than the consensus. One dispositive factor for me is always the absence of the categories of clues I so vociferously dislike. Here we have only one Simpson reference. (There’s a “buzz” cola????)

    I have heard the phrase “just a loud out” used by announcers, though the expression “loud foul” is more common, in my experience. I too started with “line out”.

    I’m not sure in what sense the estate “restores” the heir. “Restores” suggests it’s something the heir previously had. Restores him to his rightful place in the universe? (All’s right with the world?). But I did like the parallelism between heir restoration and hair removal.

    Bahn, as in Autobahn. The Battle of Arnhem was a major WW II event, and a well-known Dutch town, but a crushing and unexpected defeat for the British and the allies, deterring an allied push into the German lines in the Netherlands.

    Is “Saturday” an SNL *segment*? (Haven’t watched it since the Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner (the late), John Belushi (ditto) days.)

    Sidney Bechet’s rendition of ‘Summertime’ is not to be missed.

    On the smooth side of the Saturday curve for me; no real snags or slowdowns.

    • sbmanion says:

      Bruce,

      I interpreted Saturday to be simply a reference to the S in SNL. I am not sure if that is correct.

      I also balked at heir restoration/estate. I think that the clever use of words outweighed the logic. You are not an heir until someone dies, so how can such a person have something restored?

      Steve

    • Gary R says:

      I took the “restoration” clue to mean that after inheriting, the heir might undertake restoration of the estate (if it’s old and run-down).

      I also interpreted the SNL clue to mean that SATURDAY is a segment of the abbreviation.

      Parts of this puzzle seemed fresh, but a lot of it reminded me of the pre-Shortz era puzzles I’ve been solving on xwordinfo. I finished without any errors, but didn’t enjoy it much.

  9. Animalheart says:

    Lovely, knotty NYT, I thought. BECHET was the big, honking gimme for me, not least because I spent all day Friday writing a chapter about him for my New Orleans book. He was by all reports a mean SOB, but he wrote one of the most soulful autobiographies I’ve ever read, and of course his playing was stunning. Bruce, I’ve posted the YouTube clip of his rendition of Summertime on my Facebook wall several times. One of those recordings you can’t possibly hear too many times.

  10. Howard b says:

    Remind me not to post when tired after solving. Too harsh in my language, and slightly off base on the baseball fill. I am sorry.

    May not have cared for answers, but there’s some validity to it.

  11. Brucenm says:

    Let me add my thanks to the Team. I really enjoy the diverse points of view, personalities and styles; each and every one of you adds something distinctive. Now, if we could only find a good placekicker. . .

  12. jennifer says:

    Amy – Re NYT 6/15, 11 Down: Just a quick note- It’s not just the accent mark that indicates Portuguese in 11 down. Had they indicated the Italian “osso”, it would have been clued as “femur, per esempio”.

  13. RK says:

    BAOBAB/BECHET

    Nuff said

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