Saturday, September 14, 2013

NYT 6:54 
Newsday 12:24 
LAT 4:43 
CS 5:15 (Dave) 

Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 9 14 13, no. 0914

My solving time doesn’t say “slaughter” but I felt like I was fumbling around haplessly in the grid much of the time. My first answer wasn’t until 24a: SNL, and then 54d: ONE-L, and eventually the whole thing. But it definitely took some work to get going.

Highlights:

  • 1a. [Where a lot of dough gets thrown around], PIZZA JOINT. Great answer.
  • 17a. [Sleep aid, for some], WHITE NOISE.
  • 40a, 42a. [Follows a military order] does double duty for ATTACKS and RETREATS.
  • 11d. [Do the impossible, metaphorically], WALK ON WATER.
  • 23d. [Temptation for Luke Skywalker], THE DARK SIDE. See also: cryptic crosswords.
  • 32d. Name associated with a mobster or a monster], NESS. Eliot Ness, pursuer of Capone; Loch Ness monster.

Lowlights:

  • 26a. [Broadview ___, O.], HTS. You ever heard of Broadview Heights, Ohio? I hadn’t. Population 19,400.
  • 18a. [BMW of North America and others: Abbr.], LLCS. Plural abbreviation.
  • 53d. [Titles for distinguished Indians], SRIS. Waiting to see MRS clued as a plural of Mr. Can you pluralize a title?
  • 60d. [See, in Santiago], VER.

To discuss:

  • 11a. [See 51-Across], WIFE. Does anyone like a cross-reference in the top row of a crossword?
  • 38a. [Info about a person's education and work history], BIODATA. New to me. I would have assumed the bio meant biological rather than biographical, but no.
  • 6d. [Porter created by Burroughs], JANE. William Burroughs? Oh! Now I get it. Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan stories. Apparently Jane of Tarzan fame has the surname Porter?
  • 10d. [Smartphone preceded by the Pre], TREO. Ready to never see this answer again in another puzzle. At what point does a discontinued phone model lose its crossword-worthiness? This one was last made five years ago, which feels like an eternity in tech circles.
  • 14d. [Standard breakup creation], ESSO. Standard Oil.
  • 55d. [Cousin of a congo eel], NEWT. Congo eel is new to me. Genus Amphiuma, aquatic salamanders with wee little vestigial legs.

3.5 stars.


Updated Saturday morning:

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Geez!” – Dave Sullivan’s review

It’s not often I grok the theme after entering the first few letters of the first theme entry I encounter, but today’s “Geez!” trick revealed itself very early on. To wit, two G’s are added inside the first word of two-word phrases:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword puzzle – 09/14/13

  • [Chef' veggie failure?] was SOGGY BEANS – beans can be rather soggy in even the best of preparations. The base word here was “soybeans,” so I guess these aren’t all two-word phrases, eh?
  • [Heads-up about an influx of geese?] was GAGGLE WARNING – funny about that hyphen in “Heads-up” in the clue; I always struggle here to figure out if something should be hyphenated or not (such as “two-word” above). Is there a simple rule to follow, fellow wordniks? A “gale warning” is a type of bad weather alert.
  • [Panhandler giving court testimony?] clued BEGGAR WITNESS – not a big fan of this new phrase.
  • [Delivery to an entomologist?] clued BUGGY ORDER – or perhaps “Delivery of the beta version of some software?” which I have been often guilty of.

Fun title and theme idea, and nice execution with the minor exception of the “beggar” entry, imho. Smooth fill, of course, with my FAVE of the connected [Ditto's mother in the comics] for LOIS with [Ditto's twin in the comics] for DOT. Though I didn’t even see the clue for GATS ([Gangster's guns]), since I got all the letters from the across entries, now that I do see it I wish I hadn’t, so it receives my UNFAVE award today.

Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 9 14 13

I’m sorry, fans of Andy, but you cannot read a puzzle review by Andy this weekend. He is still sequestered on the Million Second Quiz Winners’ Row.

Nice puzzle, no? The highlights, as I see them:

  • 1a. [__ shirt], MUSCLE. That’s a tank top with scooped-out arm holes. Man, it took me forever to figure out what “MU***E shirt” could possibly be.
  • 16a. [Member of DC Comics' Legion of Super-Heroes], ULTRABOY. Not a familiar name, but a fun one.
  • 22a. [Special screening], SNEAK PREVIEW.
  • 44a. [Regular guest on "The O'Reilly Factor"], STOSSEL. I like this because my husband and I have been making fun of John Stossel for many years, after he did a “news” program on prison inmates having access to workout equipment so that they would be “bigger—and scarier” upon release. Speaking of bigger and scarier, have you seen Stossel’s mustache?
  • 46a. [Where funnels are often seen], TORNADO ALLEY. It was a rough spring.
  • 61a. [1980 hit with the line "I longed to speak but did not dare"], HE’S SO SHY. Pointer Sisters! A catchy song.
  • 3d. [Hunter with a distinctive cry], SCREECH OWL. ELMER FUDD was too short.
  • 4d. [1963-'64 painter of the Paris Opera ceiling], CHAGALL. Love his pure colors.
  • 6d. [Life support syst.?], EDS. Tricky clue! Editors at Life magazine.
  • 7d. [Collective feeling of oppression], BUNKER MENTALITY.
  • 28d. [It may precede a cold front], SQUALL LINE. Excellent crosser for TORNADO ALLEY.

Didn’t knows/questionables:

  • 49d. ['50s TV adventurer __ Derringer], YANCY. Who? (How else are you gonna clue YANCY, though?)
  • 47d. [Basic teaching techniques], ROTES. Not sure how legit that plural is.
  • 19a. [What busy people are on?], THE GO. Thanks to a recent Charmin advertising campaign, this entry now fails the breakfast test. “Enjoy the go,” they say.

4.25 stars. Good stuff.

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 9 14 13 “Saturday Stumper”

And we’re back to killer Stumpers this week, after a one-week easing. It took me a solid 8 minutes just to fill in the bottom half of the puzzle, with the top half mostly blank. I’m surprised I was able to fill in the rest in another 4 minutes, given how difficult many of the clues were, and how unexpected many of the answers were.

Among the most unexpected:

  • 6a. [Salsa alternative], CHEEZ WHIZ. If you use Cheez Whiz instead of salsa, please return your classy cred card. (Great entry, though!)
  • 16a. [Its magazine had the recent article ''The Polynesian Ideal''], AIR TAHITI. I have not read this particular in-flight magazine lately. Or ever.
  • 17a. [Group standout], DOYEN. Why do I feel like we see the female version, doyenne, far more often?
  • 44a. [Spirit], ZEST FOR LIFE. Considered LUST instead of ZEST, but no, Frank works in yet another Z.
  • 63a. [Circuit-board attachments], HEAT SINKS. Not a common crossword phrase, for sure.
  • 5d. [Gilbert and Sullivan minstrel], NANKI-POO.
  • 7d. [They might have implications], HINTERS. Meh. Who here has ever not only tacked an -ER onto the the end of “hint,” but then pluralized it? A roll-your-own word.
  • 10d. [''Flash Gordon'' scientist], ZARKOV. I had to run the alphabet to get the K. [Blimps' lack] are KEELS.
  • 39d. [One of an Oscar-winning couple], JOEL COEN. With his brother ETHAN. Usually “couple” doesn’t mean “pair of siblings,” though. Great entry.
  • 42d. [Subtle shout-out], SLY WINK. Is this truly in the language?

Tough clues that had me wondering for eons:

  • 31d. [Brief beginning], IN RE. Opening words of a legal brief.
  • 1d. [It's kept in the Bible], HADST. Mild duplication with HAS TO, as both are forms of “have.”
  • 46d. [Work for a decorator], ICINGS. Cake/cookie decorator, not interior decorator. The person in charge of decorating the baked goods may well be responsible for making various icings.
  • 8d. [Wordsworth's ''__ With Cold Beads of Midnight Dew''], ERE. All crossings for me.
  • 14d. [Mug bugs], ZITS. Bugs as in flaws, mug as in your face.

Four stars.

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18 Responses to Saturday, September 14, 2013

  1. Martin says:

    Nice one Jeff. For some reason by brain wanted DILITHIUM instead of ANTIMATTER, even though it didn’t fit!

    Yeah, TREOs haven’t been made for a few years, but in their defense, they were a major phone name for a while. FYI, Will has been trying to discourage constructors from using passé brand names… NEET, for one.

    As for the plural SRIS. I see no problem with pluralizing a title. I think Amy’s question/example should be (since SRI is not an abbreviation): can you pluralize MISTER? Obviously, yes. The same would apply to SIR, and other similar titles.

    -MAS

  2. RK says:

    NW corner almost did me in with all the trivia until I saw one across.

    Anyone else think that ITISNT is an awful answer?

    HTS/SITKA was simply beyond me, so I missed a letter, but that cross is dirty pool so I call my grid complete.

  3. Gareth says:

    Strange. Yesterday you called PB1′s puzzle an easy Friday

    Some fine examples of what Jeff brought up yesterday – zippy answers that use low Scrabble-count letters – in HOTTOTROT, ANTIMATTER and TASTETEST.

    Hardest answer by far for me was RENONEVADA. Finished with RE?O?E?A?A. Figured out WADUP, then ONEL by running the alphabet. Guessed the N of SPENCE and still was flummoxed on that last answer for the longest time!

    FWIW, I once wrote a crossword theme based on INHIS Steps. I have no idea why it wasn’t snapped up for publication. [Sarcasm]

    • Brucenm says:

      Jerry Spence is a very cool dude from Wyoming, especially for a trial lawyer. [self - mocking sarcasm]. You might want to google him.

  4. Brucenm says:

    Fantastic puzzle by Jeff. I loved 1a, the entire SE, the stacking of ‘attacks’ and ‘retreats’ and a lot of other stuff. I was also going to say that I thought warp drive fuel was dilithium crystals. I guess they control or catalyze (or however you put it) the interaction of matter and anti-matter to produce power. I guess.

    An obligatory grumble among lawyers — One does *not* “inherit” under a will. Inheritance refers to intestacy laws. When a person dies without a will, the statutory heirs are identified, — (“the living have no heirs”) — and they will inherit under the applicable statutes. It does appear, however, that popular dictionaries have purported to sanction this (mis)usage. To me “inheriting under a will” is like calling a dolphin, (proud member of the family delphinidae), a fish. Lots of people do it, but calling it one doesn’t make it one.

    • sbmanion says:

      Bruce, people who take under a will are called devisees, although there is some support for legatees as well. People who take under the intestate laws are what: heirs or perhaps beneficiaries?

      There are lots of words for the ones who get, but the only verb I can think of that correctly describes what happens when you receive under a will is TAKE. Perhaps the simplicity (offensive to lawyers who strive for needless complication :)) of that word has allowed INHERIT to have acceptance as both taking under a will as well as receiving pursuant to the laws of intestate succession.

      Steve

      • Brucenm says:

        Steve — Yes, you *take* under a will. Real property transferred by will is *devised*; personal property is *bequeathed.* As you say, taker of real property under a will is a “devisee”, but I don’t think there is any comparable word for the taker of personal property. No such word as “bequeathee”.

  5. Howard B says:

    Very fresh, clever puzzle. Kept my mental gears spinning.
    The cluing in that NW corner was insanely difficult. That corner took me as long as the rest of the puzzle combined; needed to come here to verify the JANE cluing.

    Oh, and RENO,NEVADA – I had a similar experience to Gareth above before realizing the pattern and filling it in. VER is a common Spanish verb, but that’s a mean cross when you haven’t yet found the across. Then again, all crossings are difficult when you haven’t found the first word :).

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: Wow, very action oriented, NEW WAVE puzzle, with ANTI MATTER, THE DARK SIDE, ATTACKS, RETREATS, HOT TO TROT, even YURI taking his first flight, then a break to TIE ONE ON, with PIZZA drink and some conversation- IT IS’NT, I SCREWED UP, ALAS…
    I put PIZZA as soon as I saw 1A then took it out because the downs were not coming. That Z TILE killed me. The whole NW sat looking blank for quite a while. In desperation, I put sappLINGS in lieu of NESTLINGS, thinking I was misremembering the spelling of Sapling. And I wanted to think of names of RVs for the Winnebago competitors… It was a mess. But Amy did not think it was easy, so I feel better.
    I’m not sure I get the “promotional potential” as a clue for PAWN. Self-promotion? Chess?
    Did I say that in spite of my struggles in the North, I really liked and admired it?

    • pannonica says:

      In chess, a pawn that reaches the other side of the board may be promoted to any higher-ranking piece (almost always a queen).

    • Brucenm says:

      precisely — chess. Even as a not very strong player (unlike Matt G., and some others here), I’ve always had a thing for positions where you have to be careful to promote the pawn to some piece other than a Queen to secure the win.

      Another of my pet peeves — depictions of chess games in movies (e.g. one of the Bond films) — always show a chess game ending in a dramatic checkmate. I would ask the strong players here — How many high level games end in an actual, consummated checkmate? I would say the number is minuscule, almost non-existent.

  7. pannonica says:

    LAT:

    ['50s TV adventurer __ Derringer], YANCY. Who? (How else are you gonna clue YANCY, though?)

    My first thought was stride piano pioneer Jimmy Yancey, but as you can see his name is spelled differently. Then I somehow knew the name Y— Thigpen, who turned out to be an NFL wide receiver, but he also spells it with an ‘e’.

    A more contemporary clue would be one about actress YANCY Butler.

  8. Michael says:

    Did anyone else try BLIND DATE first for 28D, “Event with unmarked choices,” and SIN for “Temple imperfection” at 4D? Great puzzle.

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