Saturday, February 15, 2014

NYT 7:53* (Amy) 
Newsday untimed (Amy) 
LAT 3:40 (Andy) 
CS 5:56 (Dave) 

Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 2 15 14, no. 0215

NY Times crossword solution, 2 15 14, no. 0215

I can’t say how much of my solving time I was awake. I think I only fell asleep for a few seconds, and then my husband heard the sound Black Ink solving software makes when you keep hitting the arrow key at the side of the grid, and he told me to wake up. It wasn’t even the hard part of the puzzle! But I drifted off, and when I came to, the hard part was still hard:

  • 14d. [Totally out], SO LAST YEAR. Zippy answer, but I was (understandably) reading “totally out” as “totally unconscious.” D’oh.
  • 32a. [Suffix with 18-Across], IST. Could also be ISM so I needed to figure out 14d.
  • 36a. [Steely Dan's title liar], KATY. No idea.
  • 42a. [Mexican president Enrique ___ Nieto], PENA. Didn’t know this either.
  • 36d. [One of a silent force?], KOP. Police force in the Keystone Kops silent movies.

I was so close to Googling the Steely Dan or Mexican president clue, but pulled it together somehow. But these five all had me stumped.

Five more things before I turn in for the night:

  • 21d. [Overnight activity], REM SLEEP? More like [Intra-solving activity], am I right?
  • 63a. [Writer of the graphic novel "Watchmen"], ALAN MOORE. He joins ST. BONIFACE and the SOUP NAZI in full name turf.
  • 47a. [Japanese guitar brand], IBANEZ. Um, Ibanez is not a Japanese name. We all wanted YAMAHA, right? Wild corporate history!
  • Not psyched about ENOTES, OLIO, partial AN ILL, ESSEN, AGER, ONE NO, SLO, NELLE, and STEN.
  • KAMA SUTRA and ZEN GARDEN bookending the grid make a lovely pair.

3.8 stars from me. Good night!

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

LAT Puzzle 2.15.14 by Brad Wilber

LAT Puzzle 2.15.14 by Brad Wilber

I got excited when I saw the byline, but maybe I set my expectations too high because I was a bit disappointed by this puzzle. The two long 15s, PLEASURE CRUISES and SITS ON ONE’S HANDS, are pretty interesting, but not a lot else grabbed me. LISA BONET is a strong entry at 1-Across, and I personally liked SHAVIAN [Adjective for "Pygmalion" or "Major Barbara"]. TY COBB, RUBS RAW, LONDON EYE, NEW MATH, CLUB MED, SUCCORS, OMG, and BJORK.

But for a 70-word puzzle with 33 blocks and a lot of short fill, there were some clunkers and some blah fill. BOLAS crossing KAEL; SAAR, ARAN, CHOC., EME, OID. I loved the [Norwegian offerings] clue for PLEASURE CRUISES, but was disappointed that it duped 58d, NOR [Scand. kingdom]. That’s an easily avoidable repeat, especially given that NOR is a word on its own. 

Not a lot of fun in the clues, either. I liked [Princess with a Wookieepedia entry] for LEIA; and though it’s a fairly common misdirect, I didn’t mind seeing [Mississippi has four] for AREA CODES. 

A very breezy Saturday LAT, in contrast with the past two weeks. No unfair crossings, though there were a couple challenging ones: besides the aforementioned BOLAS/KAEL, if you didn’t know LISA BONET, any of ARAN, BOSE, or EME could have tripped you up.

Also a fair bit of baseball trivia in this one. Did you know that Casey STENGEL‘s number was the first retired by the Mets? That TY COBB was a Cooperstown charter member? Or that Robinson CANO was named after Jackie Robinson?

Overall, a solid puzzle. 3.33 stars. Until next week!


Updated Saturday morning:

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

The “onesies” in this puzzle aren’t jumpsuits for adults (and here I thought they were only worn by babies!), but synonyms of “one” that begin the following theme phrases:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 02/15/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 02/15/14

  • [Usual line formation] was SINGLE FILE – this definitely being the case at any Disney amusement park.
  • [Parent who supports a family without help] clued SOLE PROVIDER – a cobbler could also be considered to be this, no?
  • [Girl with just brothers] was ONLY DAUGHTER – kind of an odd phrase, but I could see a parent introducing their “only daughter” to someone else this way.
  • [Free spirit] was LONE RANGER – since I was well saturated with advertising for the recent remake, it was nice to see this clued in a more idiomatic sense.

More than perhaps the theme itself, I enjoyed 1-Across, [Young haddock], or SCROD as it reminded me of a joke my father used to tell us, by saying this word was the past participle of “screw.” (And you wonder why I grew up the way I did. Now you know.) Not much that caused me to FLAIL in this one–ORISON for [Prayer] is a nice word and related to the Latin root of our words “oration” and “oratorio” as well. I had LEEWARD before LEE TIDE and AS DO I before AS AM I, but otherwise, I’ll SAY IT was fine.

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 2 15 14, "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 2 15 14, “Saturday Stumper”

Could’ve sworn I clicked the “start” button on the timer, but no. I’ll guesstimate it as a 9- to 12- minute Stumper. Not the most incessantly vexing puzzle, ultimately solvable, but quite difficult with few gimmes and many, many tough clues that didn’t add up until I had enough crossings to guide me.

—Whoops, wandered away for an hour-long phone conversation. Barely remember the puzzle now. Taking it to the bullets:

  • 11a. ["__ basilica" (forearm drainer)], VENA. Veins drain, arteries bring in fresh blood. Never heard of this vessel but guessed it anyway. Don’t know why the clue has quotes—I don’t think Latinate anatomical terms are exclusively styled in italics so the quotes seem weird.
  • 19a. [Cabinetry options], YEWS. Never heard of yew wood being used for any furniture or cabinetry, which is not to say that’s not out there somewhere.
  • 24a. [Long-haired 57 Down], SIBERIAN cat. Never heard of it, have I?
  • 31a. [Last name of Boy George]. O’DOWD. Flat-out gimme for anyone who liked ’80s New Wave.
  • 35a. [Old chestnuts], NAGS. Chestnut horses, not chestnuts as in adages or old jokes.
  • 39a. [Squat], ZIPPO, nothing. Had DUMPY first.
  • 43a. [Marks in Hawaiian], MACRONS, straight lines atop letters. I could only think of the apostropheish ‘okina. The ‘okina counts as a letter, not a diacritical mark. The macron makes a vowel a long vowel.
  • 43a. [Yellowish-buff color], NANKEEN. Did not know what color nankeen is (there’s also blue nankeen), but I know the word.
  • 59a. [One of Wisconsin's state symbols], RED GRANITE. With the G from UGGS, I was thinking BADGER-something.
  • 61a. ["Done!"], IT’S SETTLED. Eh. Don’t love this as a crossword entry.
  • 4d. [Events with lots of runners], ICE SHOWS. Does “runners” have something to do with ice skate blades here??
  • 5d. [First National Bank of __], DAD. Love this clue!
  • 23d, 39d. [With 39 Down, Viking destination], END ZONE. Not NASA’s mission to Mars. Not the Norse Viking explorers. The Minnesota Vikings.
  • 28d. [Building blocks of electronic circuits], LOGIC GATES. Unfamiliar term for me.
  • 37d. [Altoona park with the world's oldest-operating roller coaster], LAKEMONT. Never heard of it.
  • 56d. [Motor starter], TRI. I’m sorry, is “trimotor” a word we’re supposed to be familiar with?

Four stars. Tough, ultimately fair, solid fill.

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21 Responses to Saturday, February 15, 2014

  1. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT was a struggle mostly at the middle west and south: too many names, “stuff” and the “ISO” clue had me so baffled I couldn’t see it as an English sentence. Walked away, came back, replaced Acre with Bale, Lorne with Ceelo, and finished. “Position Papers?” was a really good clue. The LAT felt like child’s play after the NYT.

  2. Gareth says:

    NYT: A lot of difficult names!! But it still averaged out to an easy puzzle for me. Curious.

    LAT: Loved the clue “Org. that rejects bad eggs”!

  3. Martin says:

    Just when I start to get smug about my solving abilities, along comes Mr. Lim and takes me down a few pegs! Then again… it is a Saturday.

    Loved the clue for 1-Across… a hall-of-framer for sure.

    -MAS

  4. Brucenm says:

    Liked the NYT OK, but too damn many Danzigs for my taste. Agree about a couple excellent clues, such as 1a and 13d.

    Question — Is it really Terranova in Spanish, not nueva? (20a)

  5. Brucenm says:

    A quick shout out for Ms. Alice’s (Mike Shenk’s?) wsj puzzle from yesterday. One of the superb, funniest 5* puzzles of the year as far as I’m concerned. I think 105a {“Who should I get to tend my windmill” response} should go into the crossword clue Hall of Fame, with the 5-year waiting period waived.

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: Hey I did **most** of it in 8 minutes. These are Huda actual minutes not Amy minutes (I take Amy Minutes, subtract 2 as the minimum time required to fill a puzzle you already have solved, and multiply the remainder by 7 to translate to Huda minutes…).
    I cannot tell you how amazing that time is for me. And then I got stuck for a while in the SW… What is that ISO clue anyhow? I still don’t get it.

    I too loved the clue for KAMASUTRA and together with PAXIL and ZEN GARDEN, it all felt very what… psychosocial?

    Amy, if you were dozing off and in the early stages of sleep, there’s not likely to be REM activity. In sleep, first you pay your debt to fatigue and go into early stages of sleep with more synchronized brain activity, and then you go into REM which is associated with dreams but also greater inhibition of motor activity (presumably so you don’t act out those dreams). When you are sleep deprived, you build a REM deficit and you make it up when you do have a chance to sleep again– that’s REM Rebound ( I hope it shows up in a puzzle someday)

    • Brucenm says:

      Someone else can explain this better than I, but it has to do with personal ads seeking companionship — ISO = “is seeking [something]. SWM is single white male.

    • pannonica says:

      ISO = “in search of” in personal ads.

      Was very proud for getting KAMA SUTRA right off the bat, no crossings, which I confirmed with the most convenient crossing (in Across Lite), ACER.

      Toughest spot for me was the northeast. Had PANGS for LONGS [Joneses], wasn’t strong on either [Tycoon Sanford] or [Bridge opening option, briefly].

      Terranova is indeed the Spanish as well as the Italian name for the place called Newfoundland. However, a literal translation to Spanish of “new land” would indeed be nueva tierra.

      Also, it’s all right to comment on a previous date’s post on that post—enough people pay attention to the Recent Comments widget in the right-hand margin (n=8). As you might have noticed, I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about the WSJ as you were. In fact, I was scornful of the Quixote clue in particular; it seemed merely tenuous or impressionistic to me, unless there’s more clever punning on mind than I’m willing to admit.

      • Huda says:

        Thank you Bruce and Pannonica. I need to brush up on my personal ads lingo. I was thinking it had to do with (ISO)metric exercise for swimmers (SWM). Best hypothesis I could come up with…

  7. sps says:

    KATY=Steely Dan’s “Katy Lied”

  8. Animalheart says:

    Does 60A really scan? Don’t you have to have dole OUT to parallel RATIONOUT?

  9. sbmanion says:

    Very, very hard for me. I thought it was fair in spite of some tough crossings. The P in Penna/ Kop was the last to fall.

    I used to read the personal ads, but haven’t in many years. I did not know ISO. My all-time favorite was by a SWF who claimed that she was ASCETICLY
    PLEASING

  10. Avg Solvr says:

    People seemed to have trouble with the SW and NE of the NYT. Constructor Julian Lim’s comment at xwordinfo: “I constructed this puzzle almost 3 years ago, and my main memory of it is having a titanic struggle completing the southwest and northeast corners after starting to fill the grid from the center.”

  11. Dan F says:

    Saturday Stumper was the hardest for me in a long time — 18 1/2 minutes on paper, fighting for almost every single clue. Nicely done, Frank and Stan!

  12. LARRY WALKER says:

    Does anyone know why the link from Merl Reagle’s Sunday puzzler to the printable version gives a “404 Not Known” response?

  13. Bob Bruesch says:

    LAT puzzlers: I asked a Hawaiian friend if they cooked poi in a imu and he said, “NEVER! It’s for the pig!” Who’s right here?

  14. Andy says:

    Tried to solve the NYT today on the applet for the first time in many moons… is there no longer a “large version” option? Needless to say, only being able to view the section in tiny chunks made the solve less pleasurable. Assistance appreciated.

  15. Zulema says:

    A day late and what’s the rest of it? Anyway, just wanted to say I absolutely loved the LAT crossword . All the entries were strong and interesting. I assume many of us knew that Robinson Cano was named for Jackie Robinson. Very happy to know he will not be playing for the Yankees any more, I hope. I like Cano very much. Stengel I sort of knew but forgot.

    BRUCE, yes it’s TERRANOVA. That’s what the dog is called and that’s what the island is called, and I think it goes back to Latin nomenclature. One of my daughters just visited there last summer.

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