Saturday, February 1, 2014

Newsday untimed (Amy) 
NYT 6:42 (Amy) 
LAT 5:41 (Andy) 
CS 5:06 (Dave) 

Psst: It’s a new month, so there’s a new crossword posted on Patrick Blindauer’s site. Hover over the “Play” tab to access the .pdf and .puz links.

Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 1 14, no 0201

NY Times crossword solution, 2 1 14, no 0201

Four full names in a single freestyle puzzle? That is a lot! And I like it. The names are split evenly between men and women, too.

  • 30d. [TV antiheroine for 41 years], ERICA KANE. From All My Children, played by Susan Lucci. My first thoughts were of prime-time TV shows, to no avail.
  • 36a. [Member of the German Expressionist group Die Brücke], EMIL NOLDE. Die Brücke means “the Bridge.” (48d. [Severinsbrücke's city] is KÖLN, or Cologne; apparently there was a St. Severin in Cologne back in the day, and a bridge, tower, and basilica are named after him.)
  • 13d. [Composer of several "Gnossiennes"], ERIK SATIE. Bothersome to have ERIK and ERICA in the same puzzle, or not at all an issue? It didn’t bug me.
  • 1a. [Her 1994 memoir has the chapter "Desert Storm"], BARBARA BUSH.

Names I didn’t recognize: 45d. [Business fraudster Billie Sol ___] ESTES, 48a. [Psychoanalyst Melanie] KLEIN; 46d. [General who won 1794's Battle of Fallen Timbers], WAYNE.

Likes:

  • The MOMMY/MAMBA stack.
  • The dissonance of YOUR MAJESTY in proximity to OLIVE GARDEN. (Did you know the entire city of Chicago lacks a single Olive Garden? And yet Manhattan has two.)
  • 25d. [Cary's "Blonde Venus" co-star], MARLENE. I grouse about old-timey movie stars like Theda Bara and Jack Oakie showing up in the puzzle, but Marlene Dietrich is more of an all-time legend, no? Mae West, Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino … these people are timeless. I saw Dietrich in 1930′s Der Blaue Engel, in German, in college. I remember nothing of it.
  • 21d. [Cooperation exclamation], “WE DID IT!” Sadly, I am hearing the Dora the Explorer version.
  • 8d. [Old Sony format], BETAMAX. My in-laws still had a Betamax player when I met my husband.
  • 52d. [Port named after a U.S. president, informally], JAX. Jacksonville, Andrew Jackson.

Not so pleased with fill like RRR, OBES, partial MAN A, F-STAR, STE, AVI-, ERLE (nice clue, though: [Man's name that sounds noble]). It’s not as if there is a whole Parade of Bad Fill, though.

3.66 stars. Liked the puzzle all right, didn’t love it.

Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 2.1.14 by Doug Peterson

LAT Puzzle 2.1.14 by Doug Peterson

Strangely, the star of this puzzle isn’t the corners — it’s the center. Running vertically, there’s DR. ZHIVAGO [Physician married to Tonya Gremko] (“physician” being one of those buzzwords that the answer contains the word “doctor”). That crosses two excellent answers and one good one: MINNEHAHA ["Arrow-maker's daughter" in a Longfellow poem]; SE RI PAK [Three-time McDonald's LPGA Championship winner]; and TV PROGRAM [Subject of weekly ratings]. (Last week TREVINO, now SE RI PAK? Be still, my heart!) I watched Pak win all three of her LPGA Championships, but perhaps her most exciting major win was at the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open, where she defeated the ultimate Cinderella story, amateur Jenny Chausiriporn, in 92 holes.

I liked one of the long answers, ACTION COMICS [Where Superman made his debut]. Less crazy about the other long one, HERO SANDWICH [Sub]. Do people say “hero sandwich”? Here, it’s just “hero.” To me, “hero sandwich” sounds like you want a long piece of bread between two other pieces of bread. But maybe that’s just me.

The 7×3 corners are all fine-good. TRUSSED is probably the least snappy answer, and TELEXES is fun, if dated. HOME ROW, OPEN BAR, SCAPULA, SCORPIO, GAZETTE, and YOGA MAT all tickled me the right way. I don’t think anyone’s ever going to sell me on HGT, but maybe Hungary’s Got Talent will make it big in the States this year. Who can say.

I liked seeing VISHNU, REPO MAN, and IOLANTHE. TMZ is a fun entry! I wish GRIMACE had been clued as the McDonaldLand character, but there was perhaps already enough McDonald’s sponsorship in this puzzle (see SE RI PAK, LPGA Championship). SHIH and TZU alone are no fun, but cross-referenced in the same puzzle, I think they work. I’m not usually one for re- verbs in puzzles, but RELACES seems right clued as [Tightens, as a corset]. ELKO seems hard for non-Nevadans, but the crossings are all fair, and hey! It’s Saturday, a day when hard puzzles thrive.

A solid but probably not memorable themeless. 3.5 stars. Until next week!


Updated Saturday morning:

Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Reigning Cats and Dogs” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Cats and dogs “reign” in today’s CrosSynergy puzzle by leading off four theme phrases:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 02/01/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 02/01/14

  • [Spy vs. spy, e.g.] was CAT AND MOUSE GAME – I kept thinking of the comic series that appeared in Mad Magazine, is that the connection here, or is it more generic than that?
  • [Best Picture nominee of 1975] clued DOG DAY AFTERNOON – losing to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  • [Harry Chapin] clued CAT‘S IN THE CRADLE – “…with a silver spoon, little Boy Blue and a man in the moon.” A bit of an outlier with that beginning possessive.
  • [Elaborate presentations] were DOG AND PONY SHOWS – nice one.

Serendipitous to find four 15-letter entries that begin with CAT or DOG. Funny that I had PESTS before NESTS as [Exterminator's targets], so Nona HENDRYX was a bit hard to see at first. (No relation to Jimi, I take it, who spelled his last name with an I instead of a Y.) ICKY-POO or [Yucky, in baby talk] was another entry I enjoyed encountering and hope to see more baby talk in upcoming puzzles!

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 2 1 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 2 1 14 “Saturday Stumper”

I forgot to click the “start” button on the timer, but the puzzle felt more like a rote solve than an existential struggle, so I guesstimate that my solving time was in the range of 6 to 7 minutes.

Highlights:

  • 16a. [Big wheel], LONDON EYE. (Whereas 35a [Wheels, bricks, etc.] are CHEESES. Usually a tough puzzle uses “wheel” to mean the VIP sort of “big wheel” so it’s nice to see two literal round wheels here.)
  • 18a. [Their emblem is the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor], U.S. MARINES. Lovely entry.
  • 28a. Etymology clue! RELY is a [Word from Old French for "hold firmly"], which I did not know.
  • 40a. [Moody's lowest investment-grade rating], BAA. The grade for noisy sheep. Who knew there was a non-ovine clue for BAA?
  • 58a. NO BIG DEAL, good entry.
  • 1d. THE STAND, Stephen King’s [Post-apocalyptic best-seller of '78], another lively entry.
  • 2d. I need to hear more about this. WAX PAPER is a [Good garden-tool cleaner]?? How so? Explain, please.
  • 11d. [It's in the center of similes], AN I. The letter I in the middle of “similes” rather than the usual partial AS A.
  • 27d. [Its collection includes Rivera's "Flower Carrier"], SFMOMA. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, nutty-looking in the grid.

Solid 72-worder overall, though LON NOL and TAM kinda bore me as overused fill (though usually it’s just LON or NOL in the grid, not the full palindromic name). Four stars.

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15 Responses to Saturday, February 1, 2014

  1. Alex says:

    Hi all,

    Big fan of this site and I always enjoy the discussion.

    I was wondering if anyone knows what kind of software I might use to make the “Snake Charmer” puzzles created by Patrick Berry. I know for regular crosswords there’s Crossword Compiler etc- is there anything similar for more variety types?

  2. Gareth says:

    NYT: So after the most brutally hard puzzle of the year on Friday, we get a pussycat of a Saturday. The only part that really put up a fight was the bottom-right, mostly because I didn’t know the names, and I had bOnN before KOLN!

    LAT: @Andy said what I wanted about the LAT: Really awesome centre! I was really worried what [Source of a slow leak] was going to be when I had P??hole!!

  3. tom says:

    Watts and Volt-Amperes are related by the term Power Factor, which has a value between zero and one. Watts and Volt-Amperes are only equivalent for a power factor of one, meaning that Voltage and Current are perfectly in phase, which only occurs for a perfectly resistive load. In general, this is rarely the case, because real loads have a reactive component, which is inductive or capacitive depending on the sign of the phase shift. Thus, the blanket statement that Watts and Volt-Amperes are equivalent is not correct. Watts are the units of True Power. Volt-Amperes are the units of Apparent or Reactive Power.

    • Matt says:

      It’s fair to say that ‘Watts’, ‘Volts’, and ‘Amperes’ should have brackets around them to indicate that clue refers to the dimensions of the quantities rather than their values as physical quantities in a circuit, i.e., [Watts] = [Volts][Amperes]. But you’re not going to see that level of technical correctness, even in the New York Times.

      • Huda says:

        I love this site :)

        Thank you Tom and Matt. I knew something bothered me about this clue, but I could never say exactly what.

  4. Brucenm says:

    WOW ! END ZONE DANCE ! — My once or twice a year shot at superstardom — I whizzed through it well under the par time. I literally knew everything in there, including Koln, Erica Kane, Carroll, Zeke, and Emil Nolde, painter extraordinaire of weird, mask-like faces, and gorgeous, vividly colored flowers.

    To one who studies the history of psychoanalytic theory, Melanie Klein is arguably the second most important theorist. She is the principal originator of “object relations theory,” which focuses on the very young infant, and analyzes the process by which “it” (he/she) comes to understand other “objects” (i.e. people) as separate and distinct from itself, with interests, wants and needs of their own. Hence the infant’s initial view its mother as “the good breast”, which fulfills the infant’s need immediately, and the “bad breast” which is not there right when needed. The shockingly acrimonious schism in British psychoanalysis between Freudians and Kleinians continues to some extent to the present day.

    Billy Sol Estes I would consider the second most celebrated crook – con man in recent history, second only to Bernie Madoff. He was involved in various Ponzi-like schemes in Texas, and his sordid dealings were complicated by his friendship with Lyndon Johnson, whom he allegedly bribed and from whom he allegedly sought favors. Then all that reversed itself when he made bombshell accusations that Johnson had participated in planning the Kennedy assassination — presumably just another of his con games. Though he receded from popular consciousness over the last couple decades, he died only very recently — I remember seeing the report.

    The Battle of Fallen Timbers refers to the post revolutionary warfare between the US and the Northwest Indian tribes — Northwest referring to the area around Toledo, Ohio. Gen. Wayne is the same “Mad Anthony” of revolutionary war fame. One of the Indian generals was known as “Blue Jacket,” and it seems to me there is a sports team in that area known as the “Blue Jackets.” Needless to say, the US position in those wars was less than noble and heroic.

    • Huda says:

      Very interesting, on all fronts!

      “The shockingly acrimonious schism in British psychoanalysis …” It’s remarkable to me how many psychiatrists and psychologists, who are supposed to be thinking deeply about human emotions, give free rein to theirs, including when it comes to conceptual frameworks of the discipline. Everything seems personal, in spite of the fact that the subject matter is so complicated and impossible to scale that some humility appears to be in order..
      I hasten to add that some of the people in this world I love most belong to these disciplines, and have not engaged in any such battles.

  5. Matt says:

    I agree, an easy Saturday NYT. Lots of names, but they were all known to me, so I was able to steam through it in pretty short order.

  6. pannonica says:

    Slick redesign at P Blindauer’s site, but not in an off-putting way. Well done.

  7. Tracy B. says:

    NYT: I’ve worked at Math Reviews too long. I confidently entered CSLEWIS at 33-Across. It was my 11-year-old son who, looking over my shoulder while I solved, said “um… that would be CARROLL.” Same guy at least.

    LAT: I know nothing of golf, or golfers other than the crossword regulars like SNEAD, so I did get naticked at the SERIPAK/ELKO crossing. But I guessed right.

  8. sbmanion says:

    Fri. and Sat.were both tough for me.

    Bruce, Anil Nayar was at Harvard when I was there. He was extraordinary. What makes Hashim Kahn, patriarch of the Kahn clan of great players, so legendary is that did not start competing internationally until late in life, winning the British Open at age 44. For my money though, Jahingar Kahn was the greatest of them all.

    Steve

  9. Tracy B says:

    Oops! Embarrassing! I have mild nominal aphasia (not kidding). It’s worst with names and fatigue adds to it and it’s why I don’t play fast paced trivia games.

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