Saturday, April 5, 2014

NYT 8:41 (Amy) 
Newsday 8:04 (Amy) 
LAT 4:40 (Andy) 
CS 6:02 (Dave) 

Ashton Anderson and James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 4 5 14, no. 0405

NY Times crossword solution, 4 5 14, no. 0405

Between LEGALIZE IT (16a. [Debut Peter Tosh album, and a rallying cry for pot smokers]) and REEFER (12d. [Joint]) lighting up in this puzzle, I’m surprised the puzzle wasn’t held for the week of April 20. So close!

On the tough side for a Saturday NYT, no? Or am I just solving past my bedtime?

Highlights:

  • 26a. [Rihanna or Sharon Stone], SEX SYMBOL. It’s a lively phrase, all right. But a horribly gendered one, no? This term needs reclaiming and a new angle.
  • 34a. [Artist and chess player who said "While all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists"], DUCHAMP. I just saw a photo of a men’s room wall with a missing urinal. Some wag had written in the gap “DUCHAMP WAS HERE.”
  • 44a. [It involves hand-to-hand coordination], PATTY-CAKE.
  • 52a. [Singer with the 1996 triple-platinum album "Tidal"], FIONA APPLE. Full name #2, after golfer TOM KITE. You may be asking, “Gosh, Will, why does the clue have an album from almost 20 years ago? Doesn’t she have anything more current?” Her most recent album is called The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, and the newspaper is only so big.
  • 56a. [Where Jason Kidd played college hoops], UC-BERKELEY. Did not know that. Smartypants, eh?
  • 58a. [1996 Rhett Akins country hit], “SHE SAID YES.” Never heard of the song, never heard of the singer, but the song title makes for a good crossword answer. Consent is a good thing, yes?
  • 1d. ["Yes?"], “WHAT IS IT?” 
  • 4d. [One may prefer them to blondes], AMBERS. I do, in fact, prefer amber ales and brown ales to the pale ales and blondes.
  • 27d. [Cockerdoodle, e.g.], MUTT. Good clue. That would be part cocker spaniel, part poodle, no?
  • 28d. ["Oh goody!"], “LUCKY ME!”
  • 34d. [Certain gumdrops], DOTS. Tough/good clue. Capital-D Dots are this chewy, sorta gross candy. Who knew that Tootsie made Dots, and that 4 million Dots a year are manufactured here in Chicago? “Who the hell is eating them?” my husband inquires.
  • 36d. [Earn a load of money, in modern lingo], MAKE BANK. The kids these days don’t refer to it as “modern lingo,” mind you.
  • 39d. [Impressive range], PANOPLY. I need to use this word more.
  • 41d. [Tool], DOOFUS. I had DOODAD at first, but this is the modern lingo sort of “tool,” a a jerk or idiot.

Mystifications:

  • 9d. [Internet traffic statistics company], ALEXA. Sitemeter and Google Analytics, I know. Alexa Vega and Alexa Ray Joel, I know.
  • 5a. [Drive to drink, e.g.], PRIMAL URGE. I dunno. I’m thinking the drive to drink is an acquired thing and and not at all primal. Unless this is about the drive to drink water and avoid DEATH/[The end]? Maybe that’s the angle here.

Overall, the fill is pretty smooth. NES, FER, AYLA, IST, and YING are no great shakes, but they’re the outliers and there aren’t too many of them. The 72-word grids are better able to avoid the ungainly compromises.

3.75 stars.

Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 4.5.14 by Barry C. Silk

LAT Puzzle 4.5.14 by Barry C. Silk

I blew through 3/4 of this grid, but I had problems in the NW. Had nothing west of ____ING DOWN, ____RT RADIO, and ____ THE COST for almost a full minute. Finally, IHEARTRADIO [Music lover's resource] came to me, and the rest fell. FALLING DOWN [Performing poorly] was a doozie at 1a, and I just really wanted EAT THE COST instead of BEAR THE COST [Accept financial responsibility], even though it doesn’t fit.

A lot of lively fill in this one. In fact, all the long entries are beautiful: besides the NW, we’ve got AKRON OHIO, BART STARR, ALFA ROMEO, BOA FEATHERS, MENTAL IMAGE, DNA ANALYSIS, MADE GOOD ON, GOLDEN MEAN, CANDY STORE, ROTTERDAM, and GRECO-ROMAN. 

That’s pretty much the entire puzzle right there, in the positives column. A few negatives: CEREBRATE crossing DACE struck me the wrong way. OHOS is a strange plural. The COTE/AMAT/SNERT/ETTE section of the grid isn’t pretty. I’m not sure why people are still putting IRT into grids. In four years of living in NYC, I’ve never heard anyone refer to anything [NYC subway]-related as the IRT. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company hasn’t existed since before WWII. I’m of the opinion that it should be clued with words like “old,” “bygone,” or “historical.”

3.6 stars from me. Until next week!


Updated Saturday morning:

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Skate Around” – Dave Sullivan’s review

So today we are treated with four different types of skates, but the “twist” is that the word skate is anagrammed and the phrase reclued:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution - 04/05/14

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 04/05/14

  • [Put one over on Middleton and Upton?] clued SNOW KATES – surprised I haven’t heard of a snowskate before, living here in Vermont.
  • [Dice player's wager?] was ROLLER STAKE – I believe roller skates were famous for having “keys” to tighten the laces with, mentioned in this song. So I wonder what Melanie is up to now?
  • [Row of hardwood trees?] clued INLINE TEAKS – teaks were the finish of choice of my IKEA-inspired Scandinavian furniture when I first got out of college. “Inline skates” are also called rollerblades, no?
  • Another new type of skate to me, the “quad skate” becomes [Beef dish at a campus square festival?] or a QUAD STEAK – I see that these are roller skates with four wheels. Were there other numbers of wheels on them?

Funny how I was mentioning skater Nancy Kerrigan yesterday in the context of her Disney parade comments. It all comes around, people! Not sure in this case the altered phrases give the humorous punch I’d expect from this constructor, but I did like the fact that SKATE has at least four anagrams. (KEATS is another!) I do have to take issue with the entry clued as [Where to find beat reporters, often] which, for me, is ON THE SCENE, not AT. I learned that there was another four-letter Vodka that began with SK, which is SKOL, not SKYY. Good to see it’s a bargain brand that I wouldn’t intentionally order when I belly up to the bar. Other great crossing entries were ECOLOGICAL, EGG TOSS, TERIYAKI, TORQUE and LOVENEST.

One more CS commentary from me tomorrow, and, appropriately, it’s a Klahn!

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 4 5 14 "Saturday Stumper"

Newsday crossword solution, 4 5 14 “Saturday Stumper”

Whoa! This Stumper took me a bit less time than the NYT. That has hardly happened for months. Still not an easy puzzle by any stretch of the imagination, mind you.

Highlights:

  • 1a. [Prague Spring stopper], BREZHNEV. Who doesn’t appreciate a Russian spelling test at 1-Across?
  • 16a. [Word from the Latin for "golden"], ORIOLE. I wanted AUR- something, but AUREOLE was too long. It’s its etymological cousin and phonetic twin!
  • 18a. [World's most densely populated city], MANILA. 1.65 million people in 14 square miles. I did not know that! About nine times more densely populated than Chicago. Man, traffic must be a bear.
  • 25a. [Hawaii abolished them in 1852], SERFS. Another trivia clue. You know likes trivia? Stan Newman. You know who else likes trivia? Me.
  • 35a. [Probiotic dairy brand], ACTIVIA. Fresh fill.
  • 9d. [Uncle in Uruguay], NO MAS. Yep, I fell for the ruse and figured I needed a Spanish noun for “uncle” used in Uruguay instead of TIO, but no. It’s the “I give up!” sort of “Uncle!”
  • CHOWLINE and MESS TENT, BOIL OVER, DEAD TREE, SAM RAIMI, “I’VE GOT IT!”

Questions:

  • 51d. [Power metaphor], PURSE. I don’t get it. I don’t suppose it has anything to do with an old woman whacking somebody with her handbag? I wanted HORSE, since horsepower and “400 horses” are in the language. Is it about a diplomat’s portfolio? Winners of horse races or boxing matches?
  • 7d. [Newsweek's 2013 issues], E-ZINES. I want to know if anyone at Newsweek uses the term e-zine to describe their all-digital global magazine. I’m thinking no.
  • 28d. [Low interest-rate advocates], DOVES. Is this about anti-war doves with some use of “interest rate” I don’t know, or is it about actual financial interest rates and it’s a use of “dove” I’ve never encountered?

With three Z’s and three X’s, this 72-worder is on the Scrabbly side, but without woeful fill forced into the grid to accommodate the uncommon letters.

Four stars.

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25 Responses to Saturday, April 5, 2014

  1. Finn says:

    Fun puzzle—scrabbly with fresh fill, loved it. “She Said Yes” is also the name of a little-known, and much better, Mumford & Sons song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLnmJYI6FSE

  2. Zulema says:

    MABELL!!!!!!!!!! Because of the question mark I tried all sorts of abstruse meanings and I finally hit it with the BELIEVE crossing. Grrrrr! Very clever.

  3. Gareth says:

    Great puzzle! [Drive to drink, e.g.] is fantastic! Clue of the year territory for me! Thirst is one of the primal urges formed in the hypothalamus and related brain parts.
    LEGALIZEIT is a fantastic answer! And then REEFER to make sure people got the message! The joy of seeing [Cockerdoodle, e.g.] categorized as a MUTT: if you don’t know, vets especially American ones, have had several run-ins with owners gushing over how much they paid for said dogs, only to be told they’re silly to spend so much on a mutt when plenty of mutts can be picked up at the shelter. Some have said this with more tact than others. Heaps of other smilers for me! Still waiting for khaki’s cousin SHAKI (spelling?) to appear!

    • Gareth says:

      P.S. one of the classic songs from Legalize It: What’cha Gonna Do Amy, if you can’t understand what Phil Ochs is saying then you aren’t going to have much luck with Peter Tosh!

  4. Ethan says:

    The 53-Across reference to Duck Hunt reminded me of the Daily Show reenactment of Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face. Ed Helms was so great on that show.
    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/cvffx9/dead-eye-dick

  5. Ethan says:

    Also, I’m gonna go ahead and ask again: is Will ever going to write blurbs about the puzzles for Xwordinfo anymore? I miss those. They had said he was taking a break for the ACPT but that’s well behind us now.

    • Dan F says:

      Nobody here is going to know the answer. You might write to Will or Jeff, and if you hear anything, let us know. I hope he’ll chime in occasionally at least.

  6. Bencoe says:

    I wrote in DOODAD too.

  7. Linda says:

    Skate keys, as I remember them, tightened a metal clamp on the kind of skate on that fit over your everyday shoe. They clamped it to the toe portion of your shoe, but they didn’t tighten laces. What we used to call “shoe skates” didn’t need them because they took the place of everyday shoes and so there wasn’t a need for a clamp to keep anything onto anything! Thanks for the memory!

    • Evad says:

      Thanks Linda. We had these hook-like things that tightened our hockey skate laces and that’s what I thought skate keys were.

      Either way, we’re both showing our age! :)

  8. Richard says:

    Thought this one was tough but a lot of fun. The fun level was even increased by a creative wrong answer that I thought of for the Peter Tosh record. Off the g, the first i, the t at the end and thinking the first letter probably was l, I came up with “Light it Fat.” I did have the sense to not write this in even though I liked the answer.

  9. David L says:

    In the Stumper, power of the purse is a phrase usually used in a political context meaning that whoever controls the budget controls programmatic effectiveness and the like.

    But I’m as mystified as you by DOVES.

    I’m also not sure I buy POKES by itself as synonym for plodders. Slowpokes, yes, and the adjective pokey, but poke on its own doesn’t seem natural to me.

    • Bit says:

      POKES isn’t the synonym for laggards, it’s the synonym for the things that make them move–the clue is “laggard movers” (laggard is used as a noun, not an adjective). I had originally thought this might be something along the line of cattle PRODS.

      I also am mystified by DOVES.

  10. Dele says:

    Fun puzzles today!

    DOVES appears to be this.

    Minor error in the Stumper: 21D [Scale with one white key] GFLAT. The G flat major scale has two white keys; one of the six flats is C flat, which is a white key (it’s enharmonic with B).

    Cute beastly ministack in the southeast corner of the LAT: RHEAS, a CORGI, and ASSES, OHMY!

  11. Brucenm says:

    Amy, an interest rate dove is one who favors low interest rates without worrying that an overheated economy will generate inflation later. That ties into those on the FOMC who want to “ease the taper”, i.e. the hawks who want to stop the artificial supporting of the interest rates, and those who want to continue it. (Didn’t Stan come to crosswords from the financial world?)

    I think “purse” refers to “controlling the purse strings.”

    The key of G Flat does NOT include two white keys. For a start, there are only 5 black keys within the compass of an octave on a piano, so assuming we are talking about a standard 7 note scale, there would have to be at least 2 white keys. I suspect that the the error stems from the fact that the G Flat Major scale is spelled G flat, A flat, B flat, C flat, D flat, E flat, F, G Flat. But on an instrument with tempered tuning, such as a piano, the C flat is identical with the note B — i.e. a white key.

    Of course there is a pentatonic scale, where the intervals correspond to the 5 black keys on the piano, (used a lot by Debussy), and various hexatonic scales, e.g. a whole note scale, various 6-note blues scales, and a distinctive hexatonic scale used by Scriabin; but none of them have “only 1 white key, at least none of the standard ones do.

  12. Linda says:

    Hah! I realized I was giving away my decade, but thought a little trivia was in order, Evad, for those who think inline skates were the only ones ever invented!

    • Brucenm says:

      Linda, memories for me also. I remember very well tightening the metal pincers of the (4-wheel) skates over the toe of my shoe with the key. (Obviously you had to wear firm-soled shoes.) We lived in Arlington, VA, at the top of a fairly long, moderately steep hill — (I’m amazed even today when I revisit, that I didn’t kill myself.) But I would take off on the sidewalk, which had irregular cracks and pot holes which I had to jump over, and pick up considerable speed, Usually I would bail out — dive and roll on the sloping front yard lawn of one of the houses about three quarters of the way down. I think maybe once I made it to the bottom, and, as I say I’m still pretty impressed. This would have been at age 7 in the 50′s. Maybe I missed my potential Evel (!) Knievel career.

  13. Margaret says:

    I had the same experience with the LAT, no real issues except for the NW. My problem was exacerbated by my confidently filling in FOOTTHEBILL instead of BEARTHECOST.

  14. sbmanion says:

    I just returned from a long day. I thought the puzzle was superb and incredibly difficult.

    I don’t know that anyone will see this, but I put in CALIFORNIA as the school Jason Kidd attended. When California plays Arizona State, the reference is always to Cal. “We play Cal this week.” The team that is in the Pac-(is it) 12 now is always listed as California. I have never once heard it referred to as UC Berkeley or Berkeley or Cal-Berkeley in a sporting context. i suppose it could be if there were a tournament in a sport in which several schools in the California system might play each other. But basketball is not one of them. Does the fact that Cal and UC Berkeley are the same school justify the clue in a context in which the answer is never used?

    Steve

    • Richard says:

      I am not sure you will see this post but the correct answer actually was my very first entry. I think your answer is plausible within a sports context, and it is not unreasonable to use this context given that it JK is a sports figure. However, outside of a sporting context, I rarely hear the school called “California.” Cal-Berkeley and UC Berkeley seem much more common in the Bay Area (where I live) than “California.” If someone used “California.” nobody would know which UC or CSU university is being referenced.

  15. Jim Hale says:

    Difficult primarily because I’d never heard of the songs… took lots of experimenting, second and third looks and a longer time to solve than I’m used to. Can’t say I liked it but I did respect the challenge.

  16. Marc H says:

    I’m an old Cal Berkeley guy. Trust me, when Jason Kidd was there he was no smartypants. Word was that he was strictly on the NBA track. Also, Dots are eaten by moviegoers who aren’t worried about their fillings coming out.

  17. richard says:

    Hah!!!!! you young whippersnappers don’t know anything The IRT is mentioned frequently. Just a few years ago, a song in the musical “Hair” began: LBJ took the IRT……..

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