Saturday, April 19, 2014

NYT 6:02 (Amy) 
Fireball 6:02 (Amy) 
Newsday 8:25 (joon–paper) 
LAT 5:00 (Andy) 
CS 11:02 (Ade) 

Stu Ockman’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 4 19 14, no. 0419

NYT crossword solution, 4 19 14, no. 0419

Hey, it’s a triple-stack puzzle that isn’t from the master of triple stacks, Martin Ashwood-Smith. It’s from Stu Ockman instead. The 15s are decent: LESS COMPLICATED is simple enough. ONE AFTER ANOTHER is solid, basic. The Harry Potter volume THE GOBLET OF FIRE is solid. CLEAN AS A WHISTLE is indeed clean as a whistle. HOSTILE REACTION is, I think, all right; something like ANGRY REACTION feels like it would be an awkward crossword entry, though. IT TAKES ALL SORTS threw me off, though; I had… KINDS first.

There are some oddball answers in this puzzle, though:

  • 51a. [Part of a plowing harness], HAME. I am, alas, not up on my plow-related lingo. Haven’t plowed in eons.
  • 1d. [Either of two Holy Roman emperors], LOTHAIR. I am not up on my non-Charlemagne HRE honchos, either.
  • 9d. [Principal port of Syria], LATAKIA. Sure, this is a flat-out gimme for our solvers from the Syrian vicinity (hi, Huda!) but I knew the city’s name only from a now-defunct Chicago cafe that I didn’t know was Syrian.
  • 46d. [Mezzo-soprano Regina], RESNIK. I would have gotten [Astronaut Judith] but not this late Met star.

Not sure I knew the EGG PAN ([Small skillet]) was a thing. Is that what those teeny frying pans are for, making an egg? What’s the use? Why not just use a larger pan and cope with the dismay of a less than perfectly round fried egg? I only like my eggs well scrambled, so I have no need for this doodad.

[Figures in "Teutonic Mythology"] clues ELVES. Is that in quotation marks because it’s the actual title of a written work? Apparently yes, by Jacob Grimm.

The [Actress in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"] was a gimme for me: MIA SARA. Guess what she’s been in since that ’80s movie? You give up? Here’s a listing of her roles, surprisingly plentiful but pretty much nothing I’ve seen. If you were not a teenaged viewer of John Hughes movies in the ’80s, I hereby excuse you completely from knowing this name. Greta SCACCHI is a hair more prominent.

The IGA clue threw me: [Big Chicago-based franchiser] may be accurate, but there isn’t a single IGA-affiliated grocery store in the city. (The ‘burbs have a handful.)

3.33 stars from me.

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 72″

Fireball crossword solution, 4 18 14 "Themeless 72"

Fireball crossword solution, 4 18 14 “Themeless 72″

Here’s this week’s delayed Fireball. Hey! Look at 14a: hot ATOMIC FIREBALLS candy. Great answer for any puzzle, perfect for the Fireball. The grid’s framed by a lattice of 15-letter entry pairs, with two of the answers involving candy (mmm, CHOCOLATE-COATED).

Six things to note:

  • I didn’t know 58a CELESTIAL EMPIRE, [Old name for China]. Learned something new/old.
  • Oddball etymology! The LEEK is 53a [Vegetable in the etymology of the element praseodymium]. Wikipedia says it means green + twin; American Heritage Dictionary clarifies that it’s “leek-green.
  • Did not know 1d: [Blues musician Jessie ___ Hemphill], MAE. My go-to Hemphill is Shirley.
  • 3d. Favorite clue: [Its orientation can sometimes cause marital discord], TOILET PAPER ROLL. Am staying with the in-laws, who hang their TP backwards; luckily, we get our own loo here and can fix the TP orientation.
  • 16d. [Secretary of education after Margaret] clues ARNE. Duncan. Margaret served under Bush and her last name escapes me. Something WASPy? Yes: Spellings. Can we blame her for the teaching-to-the-test that NCLB has engendered?
  • 42d. KIBOSH is a great word.

Smooth fill overall, some zippiness, good clues, enjoyable solve. Four stars.

Note: Peter is re-attempting a Kickstarter project to fund his Fireball Fortnightly News Crosswords. Pledge $6 or more to get in on topical, easier-than-Fireball puzzles every couple of weeks.

Alan Olschwang’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 4.19.14 by Alan Olschwang

LAT Puzzle 4.19.14 by Alan Olschwang

OLE, ELOI! PLEASE RISE for the 21-entry salute:

1) A LUI [His, to Jacques]. I feel like the “A + personal pronoun” construction is very crossword-specific. The word I learned for “his” was either “son” or “ses.” Can any fluent/native French speakers confirm or deny this? At any rate, not a fantastic entry.
2) ZASU [Pitts of silents]. Wasn’t sure I’d ever seen a film with ZaSu Pitts, but a cursory search reveals she was one of about 80 people in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. So.
3) DACE [Carp family member]. Can you imagine being in the carp family? And you thought your mother nagged…
4) EEEE [Shoe spec]. I’m going to start putting this in my crosswords as [Excited utterance]. This is one of those entries that’s purely for convenience.
5) ERLE [Contemporary of Dashiell]. Both in time and genre (Erle Stanley Gardner created Perry Mason; Dashiell Hammett created Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles).
6) PYM [Poe title stowaway]. Arthur Gordon Pym, to be precise. Fun “fact”: When people say “There once was a man from Nantucket,” this is whom they’re referring to.
7) SESE [Zaire's Mobutu ___ Seko]. Read here about how Joseph Mobutu came to power. Interesting stuff.
8) BTUS [A/C measure]. British thermal units. Measures the same thing as Joules, but more Britishly.
9) TETRAS [Brilliant fish]. Color-wise, not intelligence-wise.
10) FEM [Like an executrix: Abbr.]. I like the clue; the entry, less so.
11) OSPREY [Fish eater]. Oh no! The DACE and TETRAS had better watch out! Seriously, though, ospreys are cool.
12) PEATS [Bog fuels]. Drink some cranberry juice, for peats’ sake.
13) ELAINE [Tennyson's "lily maid of Astolat"]. Fun “fact”: Tennyson was a huge Seinfeld fan, and this poem was based on Elaine Benes.
14) LISSE [Crinkly gauze]. It is very challenging to find a non-dictionary source more recent than WWI that uses this word in this way (unless we’re counting crosswords as a source).
15) LPNS [ICU personnel]. Had EMTS at first, but this is better.
16) HOR [Old TV knob]. That’s not a nice thing to call an old TV knob.
17) I’LL TAKE ONE ["Sure, let me try it"]. While the phrase feels a bit roll-your-own, it’s mostly fine. Unless, of course, the thing you’re trying is Lay’s potato chips. Then you’re gonna need more than one. I bet.
18) MOVE ACROSS [Traverse]. Again, one of those phrases that technically can stand alone, but doesn’t feel super phrase-y.
19) RAMADA [Beach shelter]. Had no idea this was an actual word that existed separately from the hotel chain. Live and learn, I guess.
20) FLO [Follies name]. Presumably Flo Ziegfield, and not Flo the Progressive Insurance spokesperson.
21) TRASH TALK [Court tactic]. “Your Honor, opposing counsel’s Motion to Dismiss is a joke. Just like his stepback jumper.”

Okay, so there was some good stuff in here too. DQ BLIZZARD at 1-Across, SALAD DAYS, GAZETTE, MIRACLE GRO, the aforementioned TRASH TALK. But overall, not my favorite. An even 3 stars from me. Until next week!

Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bring in the Pros”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.19.14: "Bring in the Pros"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 04.19.14: “Bring in the Pros”

Good morning everybody!

Here’s hoping you were having a MIMOSA (14A: [Champagne-based cocktail]) while enjoying this “professional” crossword from the wonderful Tony Orbach. There’s no room for amateurism, but definitely room to create puns by adding the word “PRO” to common terms and names.

  • SLO PROMO: (18A: [Unexciting movie trailer?]), from “slo mo”… Alternate clue: Advertisement for Turtle Wax, maybe?
  • SKINNY PROFIT: (24A: [Slim margin of return]), from “skinny fit”
  • CIRCULAR PROFILE: (38A: [Description of items in a supermarket mailer]), from “circular file”
  • SONNY PRO BONO: (51A: [Album title of a free concert from saxophonist Rollins?]), from “Sonny Bono”
  • PAN PRO-AM: (61A: Golf tourney named for a pipe-playing Greek god?]), from “Pan-Am”…So in this tournament, would the Greek gods be the pros and the Roman gods be the amateurs?

A couple of the corners of the grid were shady, not because of the fill but because of the behavior associated with some of the words; those include AMORAL (1A: [Devoid of scruples]), OGLED (55D: [Looked at lasciviously]) and LEERED (71A: Looked lasciviously]). The southwest corner makes up for all the questionable behavior with a little I LUV U action (56A: [Candy heart message]). The long down answers were zippy, especially ASIAN FLU (5D: [Eastern strain of the H2N2 virus]), although there’s nothing zippy about it if you contract it.

How come we can’t mention the unmentionables for LACE (7A: [Adornment for unmentionables])?? This isn’t a PC blog is it? It is? Oh, ok then. Definitely want to make sure not to RILE (31A: [Anger]) some bloggers on here, just in case. Scram and git are words I would say to tell someone/something to go away, not SCAT (33D: “Shoo!]), unless I wanted to shoo something away by jazz-singing/human beat-boxing to it. So was the last time we say LATOYA (6D: [Michael and Janet’s sister]) Jackson in public was on The Celebrity Apprentice? Pretty sure that’s the case..

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AFL (8D: [CIO partner])- Yes, the clue refers to the American Federation of Labor, but I’m going to concentrate on another AFL: the American Football League. The rogue football organization that challenged the established National Football League started play in 1960, was known for its exciting brand of football, which included a huge emphasis on the forward pass. It also was revolutionary in its wide-ranging diversity, with the fact that it became the go-to league for many African-American players (and future Hall-of-Famers) from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The league eventually merged with the NFL in 1970.  For your sports edification, the original eight teams in the AFL were the following: Boston Patriots (now the New England Patriots), Buffalo Bills, Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs), Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans), Los Angeles Chargers (now the San Diego Chargers), New York Titans (now the New York Jets) and the Oakland Raiders (now the Oakland Raiderettes…just kidding).

If you didn’t know, Mr. Orbach, outside of being a brilliant crossword constructor and one of the nicest men I’ve ever come across, is a saxophonist in a soul band called Memphis Train & The Boxcar Horns. The band is playing next Friday at the Rodeo Bar on Third Ave. at 27th Street in Manhattan. If you’re in the NYC area next weekend, you should swing by and catch Tony and the rest of his bandmates in action! No need to RSVP (47D: [Answer an invitation]) and there’s no cover! Do it!

Take care, everybody, and talk with you all tomorrow!

AOK

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”—joon’s review

nd140419hey, everybody. joon here filling in to blog the saturday stumper. this week’s is a really nice offering from my collaborator on yesterday’s CHE puzzle, doug peterson. lots of zippy fill and plenty of good, tough clues. let’s look at the highlights:

  • {Show of hands?} is a great clue off the bat at 1a for PUPPETRY.
  • {Blow away, say} ERODE. i had ERASE.
  • {Inspiration for Ingmar and Francis Ford} is director AKIRA kurosawa. i do not particularly associate him with those other directors (george lucas, yes), but i’m not exactly a classic film buff. then again, “george” in the clue would not have helped much.
  • {Australian predators} are TIGER SNAKES. with the first word in place i tried TIGER SHARKS.
  • {Spanish Civil War battle site} is the EBRO river. today’s puzzle had lots of spanish geography—there was also {City in northern Spain} OVIEDO and {Island east of Valencia} IBIZA.
  • {Dam, e.g.} is a tough clue for SHE. dam in the sense of an animal’s mother.
  • {Apple Store tech-support station} is the GENIUS BAR. very contemporary.
  • {“We ___ put into this world to sit still”: Woodrow Wilson} is an interesting but not that tough clue for ARE NOT. i wasn’t expecting a six-letter partial, so i tried WEREN’T.
  • {Image on Alaska’s state quarter} is the GRIZZLY BEAR. did you know that this has the same number of letters as MOUNT DENALI? yeah, i had a lot of missteps in solving this puzzle.
  • {Do another hitch} is a great clue for RETIE. this clue almost always clues RE-UP.
  • {Laotian’s language family} is TAI? is that… thai? not familiar with this. wanted it to be LAO, especially as i had the A in place, but you can’t exactly put “laotian” into a clue for LAO.
  • {Film star turning 60 this year} is GODZILLA. and he doesn’t look a day over 29!
  • {In unfamiliar territory} clues both LOST and AT SEA. but not LOST AT SEA, which would be worse. terrible news with the south korean ferry this week.
  • {Buy for a bender} is a pair of YOGA PANTS. i had YOG in place when i first laid eyes on this clue so it didn’t fool me, but that is a great clue.
  • {Out number} OLDIE is also excellent.
  • {Mexican underworld boss?} is DIABLO, spanish for devil. way down here at 50a was where i first got any actual traction in the grid. with all the false starts and non-starts i had to start this puzzle, i’m amazed that it only took me 8 minutes.

terrific puzzle here—no dreck and lots of great stuff; i give it 4.5 stars. hope you’re having a wonderful easter triduum and/or passover and/or glorious spring weekend!

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23 Responses to Saturday, April 19, 2014

  1. Brucenm says:

    UHOH!!!!!!

    Although I liked the puzzle much better than the consensus, and found it straightforward, I confidently entered KEY party, rather than keg. For those of you who don’t know, I’m not telling.

    • Evad says:

      Though I don’t have first hand experience, viewers of Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm will know what you’re talking about.

  2. Bencoe says:

    The only other movie I can remember MIA SARA in is Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best terrible movie, Timecop.

  3. Gareth says:

    I didn’t know HAME either – crossings are perfectly fair though, so I just gave it the hairy eyeball because it looked weird. Tried YOKE there first!

    In general this was easy for me except for a smallish bilobar area in the middle-left into which I sunk more than half my time. I didn’t know SCACCHI, and SNCC and RESNIK look vaguely familiar only now that they’re in. Also CLOSEST wanted to be NEAREST or DEAREST first! The ICON clue was tough. This connected it to the area with LATAKIA, KENAI, EGGPAN plus difficult (for me) clues for DEGAS, KEG (wanted TEA, but thought rightly that that was too Monday), IGA. I foresee this side area a Waterloo for several people!

  4. Martin says:

    Hey, well I knew HAME for some unknown reason. However I found the top part hard and the bottom easier. Kudos to Stu for using some new 15s!

    Suggested improvements for the 15s:

    LESS COMPLICATED ONES

    GOBLET OF ONES FIRE

    A LOT AFTER ONE ANOTHER

    CLEAN AS ONES WHISTLE

    ONES HOSTILE REACTION

    IT TAKES ALL SORTS OF ONES

    Not all 15s I’m afraid.. but I think one gets the drift.

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

  5. Gareth says:

    UMTATA in the LA Times is extremely problematic for two reasons: 1. Mandela was born in Qunu, which is 20 miles away from Mthatha. 2. The spelling is now Mthatha. “U” is an “article” sort of similar to “The” and has now been dropped. The t/th thing is similar to the updates in spelling from Nanking to Nanjing – Xhosa being an oral language that has had the Roman alphabet tacked on relatively recently. PS: Wikipedia suggests Mandela was born in Mvezo, which is still not Mthatha!

    Really not a fan of that APE clue either… But apart from that, the longer answers were all very nice!

  6. Matt says:

    I had TEA party for 26D, which is OK for someone who is unfamiliar with midwestern grocery chains and Alaskan geography– I’d never have suspected it was wrong without the missing Mr. Pencil. Otherwise. a very easy Saturday for me.

    • David L says:

      Same error here — TENAI seemed perfectly fine, and although I didn’t know what IAA might be, I’m also not familiar with IGA.

      PS I like that the clue says “big Chicago-based franchiser” — not big enough for some of us, evidently

      • Gary R says:

        I grew up in the upper Midwest, where IGA stores are fairly common, so I had no trouble with the clue/answer.

        Was surprised to learn from their company web site that there are “nearly 5000″ stores worldwide, in 48 states and 30 countries. Not as common as McDonald’s or Starbuck’s, but I think they qualify as “large.” They might have less name recognition than some other kinds of stores because most of them have another name attached, like “Fred’s IGA,” which a lot of customers would just think of as “Fred’s.”

  7. Linda says:

    “A lui” means “to him” which is why it can be defined as “his.” I think the “a” gets an accent mark above it, but my old high school/college French memories may or may not be right on that part.

  8. sbmanion says:

    Much harder for me today than yesterday’s. My last letter was the Y in EYE LENS. I did not notice the LENS and was trying to parse it or rather non-parse it as one word. NAY is a tricky answer to “And moreover.”

    By the way, if you get a chance, Youtube Suor Scuccia, the new singing nun whose performance on the Italian version of The Voice has gone instantly mega-viral.

    Steve

  9. Huda says:

    Hi to you too Amy :)

    Yes, LATAKIA was a gimme, although I spelled it LATAKIE (it can also be Latakieh), but that’s a nuance of the pronunciation. My maternal grandfather is from there, and he was blue eyed which people took to mean that some crusader had had his way with one of our ancestors.

    I liked the puzzle and it felt a lot easier than it looked at first glance. I did come up with a lot of alternative answers that fit– “ONE thing At a Time” instead of ONE AFTER ANOTHER, OozeSin for OSMOSES, Yoke for HAME, etc.

    I also like the Fire and ICE/EIS combination.

  10. Avg Solvr says:

    “I only like my eggs well scrambled” Does that refer to how they’re cooked or how they’re actually scrambled?

  11. Bill Lynch says:

    Sat. April 19, 2014 Puzzle: 8-Down Clue is inaccurate. Winner of Best Actor in 1956 was Ernest Borgnine (“Marty”); The answer “Yul” refers to Yul Brynner for “The King and I” which was a year later (1957).

    • HH says:

      The award was given in 1957. The mobie was released in 1956. Therefore Brynner was the Best Actor of 1956.

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