Friday, November 8, 2013

NYT 5:59 (Amy) 
LAT 10:15 (Gareth) 
CS 6:27 (Dave) 
CHE m:ia? (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) 9:57 (pannonica) 

Alan Arbesfeld’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 8 13, no. 1108

This grid felt like it contained considerably more E’s and S’s than the typical Friday puzzle. ESTATE SALES! ESSAY! ERTES and STET and ARETES! And in fact, no fewer than three entries contain the word SEE: There’s 23d: FORESEE, 27d: SEE TO, and the great-except-for-that-dupe 55a: “TRY TO SEE IT MY WAY.” Elsewhere in the Department of Redundancy Department, we also have 7d: ALBEIT and 43d: SO BE IT, the latter of which I struggled with because I figured the BEIT part couldn’t possibly be repeated. And then the TO of SEE TO and TRY TO SEE IT MY WAY appears again in ALIEN TO. OYE vey! (OYE is 39a. [Juan's "Hey!"], and no, you can’t play it in Scrabble. I’ve tried.)

Favorite bits:

  • 1a. [African city of 4+ million whose name means, literally, "haven of peace"], DAR ES SALAAM. Salaam = shalom = peace.
  • 14a. ["Why such a fuss?"], “WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?” Great entry.
  • 33a. [Classified], TOP SECRET. Solid entry. I’m not at liberty to say more.
  • 48a. [Frito-Lay snack], CHEETOS. I’m partial to the Simply Cheetos, but will also keep an eye out at Target for the new chocolate-covered Wavy Lays potato chips.
  • 5d. [Dopes], SCHNOOKS. Who doesn’t love a Yiddishism?
  • 12d. [Irritability], CHOLER. Love this old-timey word.

I don’t much care for the ARF ARF clue, 36d. [Pair of boxers?]. “Pair uttered by boxers” would still be pushing it, but this “Pair of boxers?” verges on nonsensical. Yes, boxers are dogs. But a supposed transliteration of a dog’s bark, times two, is not a “pair of dogs.”

And NO NOISE has an arbitrariness to it that NO NUKES lacks.

The dupes and the (seeming?) profusion of S’s, E’s, and T’s sapped my enjoyment, to tell the truth. Three stars from me.


Updated Friday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Doubled Up” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Ambitious theme–UP is added to the beginning of the first word in a two-word phrase, and also appended to the end of the second word. Let’s take a look how it turned out:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 11/08/13

  • [Distraught bungler?] clued UPSET SCREW-UP – the term “set screw” is somewhat familiar to me; it’s used to hold objects against other objects, like a pulley or gear.
  • [Order a larger Uncola?] was UPSIZE SEVEN UP – That’s really 7 Up, folks, and the base phrase “size seven” is today’s “green paint” example.
  • My opinion of the best of the lot, [Candid presentation of possible perps?] was UPFRONT LINEUP – I think first of the PBS show when I see “Frontline,” but it’s obviously what someone is on when he/she is bearing the initial assault.
  • [Second-stringer with a good attitude?] was an UPBEAT BACKUP – I’m guessing “beat back” is to repel something.

This was a very difficult theme to pull off, and I think today’s constructor does a decent job with it. RECURVE as a [Kind of archery bow] was new to me–I’m thinking all bows curve, so does a recurve curve twice? A slight step toward something that might not pass the Sunday breakfast test with ["What ___ ..."] cluing THE. I guess you can finish that one anyway you choose. TORPEDO and URCHIN are fun mid-length words and were interesting finds.

Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Change of Venue” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/7/13 • “Change of Venue” • Fri • Fisher • solution

Easily grasped theme in which the name of a nation is followed by its own anagram to form a phrase. All are clued in the context of “visitors.” We’ve all seen this type of thing before, I suspect.

  • 23a. [Dance for visitors to a South Pacific nation?] TONGA TANGO.
  • 25a. [Necklace for visitors to an Asian nation?] CHINA CHAIN.
  • 37a. [Fancy trappings for visitors to an African nation?] ALGERIA REGALIA.
  • 52a. [Transportation for visitors to an Asian nation?] NEPAL PLANE.
  • 59a. [Counterpart for visitors to an African nation?] ANGOLA ANALOG.
  • 66a. [Soap opera for visitors to a Middle Eastern nation?] ISRAEL SERIAL.
  • 76a. [Discomfort for visitors to a European nation?] SPAIN PAINS.
  • 90a. [Plastic toy soldier for visitors to an Asian nation?] MYANMAR ARMY MAN, crossing MARYAM d’Abo. Appreciate the anagram, but want to see Burma come back into preferred use.
  • 108a. [Adversary for visitors to a Middle Eastern nation?] YEMEN ENEMY.
  • 110a. [Secular sect for visitors to a European nation?] ITALY LAITY.

The rundown: good geographic spread, good consistency with the the visitor conceit (admittedly with varying degrees of success). All theme nations have one-word names and all but one of the anagrams are likewise one word.

The predictable critique: would have preferred not to see the names of nations in the grid non-thematically. 14d [Its coat of arms includes a marlin and a flamingo] BAHAMAS; 113a [Nation whose prime minister is Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi] SAMOA (but the clue gets chutzpah points); 105d [Country name on some euros] EIRE.

Tangential theme entries: 78d [Capital indicator] STAR; 40a [Nontourist] LOCAL.

As always, the editorial touch (and presumably the constructor’s anticipations thereof) make a good mix of high quality misdirections, alliterations, clechoes (clue-echoes), gentle and puns.

Good puzzle, average to slightly-above average.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth

LA Times
131108

A surprisingly chewy puzzle for me, but I may be an outlier. Basically, I stormed through most of the puzzle but ground to a screeching halt in several places. My problem was I didn’t (correctly) get any theme answers for a long time (8+ minutes) and couldn’t suss the theme, which with different clues could almost be a Monday theme! Strange that! Basically the sound of the last syllables of multi-syllable words are repeated after them as separate words, creating whimsical phrases; I mostly enjoyed this… eventually.

  • 19a, [Stadium section for charity workers?], VOLUNTEERTIER
  • 26a, [Really old hardwood?], ANTIQUE TEAK
  • 36a, [Disney's "Bambi"?], WHITETAILTALE. I filled in WHITETAILDEER fairly early and stuck with it most persistently, which was a major factor in obscuring the theme for me. And yes, I couldn’t figure out why it would need a question mark at the time!
  • 44a, ["Merrie Melodies" theme song?], CARTOONTUNE
  • 54a, [Emperor Justinian as a young man], BYZANTINETEEN. This answer is more obvious if you aren’t far more familiar with BYZANTINE rhyming with mine and pine…

There seems to be a Western minitheme with [Western, e.g.} OMELET, BOLO, DRAW and over on the other side TEX.

I think I'll finish by listing non-theme answers I found particularly tricky. The combination of these answers nad not grokking the theme made this puzzle very taxing for me:

  • [Item in a musician's kit], SIDEDRUM. I didn’t know that term.
  • [Kind and caring], ALLHEART. Hard to see for me.
  • ["That's my intention"], IHOPEIDO. Difficult to parse; I’m also on the fence with that as a legitimate answer
  • [Quick], SPEEDY. I had STEADY??? No I don’t know either; I also didn’t spot my mistake in a timely manner.
  • [Words of tribute], PRAISE. Considered the right answer early on, but decided the clue was implying a phrase. A cunning misdirect that!
  • [Ark units], CUBITS. I got fixated on some synonym for “twosome.” Nice extra-effort clue that!
  • [Prefix with culture], API. I had OVI then AVI before API. Sigh.

3.5 Stars. Interesting theme.

Gareth

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16 Responses to Friday, November 8, 2013

  1. RK says:

    Does the clue for ROSH require a question mark?

  2. animalheart says:

    Took me forever to get the bottom. (SHA La la? New to me, unless they mean Clinton’s Secretary of Health and Human Services…) My main problem was that for RESTYLE I had RESTORE, for CONCEITS I had CONCEPTS, and for RETYPE I had RETUNE (at least until FLASHINTHEPAN revealed itself). The Beatles line just wouldn’t come until the dubious ARFARF dawned on me.

    Some nice fill, though, despite the dupes and the abundance of E’s and S’s.

  3. animalheart says:

    RK, there is a question mark in the clue for 16A in the paper version.

  4. HH says:

    “I don’t much care for the ARF ARF clue, 36d. [Pair of boxers?]”

    Coulda been worse … coulda been [Sounds heard from a pair of boxers].

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: top and bottom lines went in immediately. Although I wanted it to be DAR El SALAM (or SALAAM)= House of the Peace. El is the in Arabic but you can do what the French call a “liaison” of the verbal, non romantic kind, i.e. when El is followed by a word starting with S, you can skip the L sound and make it ES…

    I too had trouble with some of the downs at the bottom, TRA, RESTORE, etc.. I also totally forgot the word ANTHER, and for a while my bee sat on an ANTlER…

  6. Evan says:

    Clearly my toddlers consulted on this puzzle. They believe that a dog is actually called a “woof woof”, which makes ARF ARF a little more plausible.

  7. Lemonade714 says:

    Wow, I finally did a Friday in less time than Gareth, of course I thought about the sound of “TINE” being a real impediment for a non-American. The oddity is that SIDE DRUM is supposedly a term used in Britain etc, for snare drum???

  8. Brucenm says:

    The side drum is a small snare drum designed to be shoulder strapped and carried on one’s hip, as in a marching band. I do not think the term is especially British. But among the Gerard Hoffnung cartoons I mentioned recently — (he *was* British, of course), — in the book on instruments, there is one of a very corpulent marcher entitled “The Tum Drum and Side Drum.” He has a drum implant where his beer belly would be, and is carrying a side drum, and is enthusiastically hammering on both.

  9. Art Shapiro says:

    Dave, a “recurve” is what most folks would think of as a traditional bow. The ends where the bowstring is attached curve slightly forward as opposed to the overall bend at the top and bottom. I believe recurves have been totally supplanted by “compound” bows, which are amazing contraptions with levers and pulleys that essentially mean the further you pull, the easier it is! They were just coming into vogue when I was heavily into target archery. A compound bow lets you steady your aim for a reasonable amount of time without muscle strain.

    Art

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