Saturday, June 21, 2014

Newsday 7:18 (Amy) 
NYT 5:18 (Amy) 
LAT 8:07 (Gareth) 
CS 11:10 (Ade) 

Brad Wilber and Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 21 14, no. 0621

NY Times crossword solution, 6 21 14, no. 0621

Some people are afraid of Brad’s solo themelesses. Some people are afraid of Byron’s solo themelesses. Some people, presumably, will be mightily vexed by this puzzle. I found it to be a little easier than the typical Saturday NYT. How did it treat you? Do you have a crossword-constructing nemesis?

Terrific puzzle, with a dozen 7s and a dozen answers of 8+ letters. The highlights:

  • 1a. [Keister], CABOOSE. I didn’t fill this in right off the bat, but it’s a fun 1-Across.
  • 18a. [Onetime White House resident with a cleft palate], TAD LINCOLN. Did not know that.
  • 22a. [Handy talent?], BLUES. That’s blues pioneer W.C. Handy. Here’s Louis Armstrong playing some Handy.
  • 52a. [Java file, e.g.], SOURCE CODE. Also the name of a diverting Jake Gyllenhaal movie.
  • 59a. [Legs' diamonds?], ARGYLE socks. Not to be confused with Legs Diamond. Tricky clue.
  • 3d. [Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," originally], B-SIDE. I love that song! Please do enjoy the video, complete with disco roller-skating.
  • 7d. [Author of the 87th Precinct series], ED MCBAIN. Full name, and with that impossible-looking pile-up of consonants.
  • 13d. [Spots likely to smear], ATTACK ADS. Smooth clue, fresh fill.
  • 28d. [Stone coal], ANTHRACITE. My old VW‘s color was called Blue Anthracite, but I always considered it to be dark gray.
  • 31d. [University of Phoenix specialty], eLEARNING. Arizona State has land-based campuses, but is also big in the online college business (and if you want tuition assistance as a Starbucks employee, ASU is your only choice—which I find obnoxious).

Trivia I did not know (along with the TAD LINCOLN bit): 21a. Only man ever to win an L.P.G.A. Tour tournament (1962)], Sam SNEAD. It was his second attempt; he placed third in a coed field the first year.

Crosswordese card game fact I didn’t know: 23d. [Game in which top trumps are called matadors], SKAT. Pretty much any time there’s a 4-letter card game, your answer’s going to be SKAT. Anyone ever play it?

Four stars from me for the B-Dubs’ puzzle.

Updated Saturday morning:

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 6 21 14, "Saturday Stumper" by Doug Peterson

Newsday crossword solution, 6 21 14, “Saturday Stumper” by Doug Peterson

Hey! This was merely a tough themeless puzzle and not a Stumperesque “omigod, so hard” crossword. Plenty of great clues to appreciate here:

  • 1a. [Cow without a sound], STARE DOWN. Cow as a verb.
  • 16a. [A "Global Traveler" Best, 2004-2007], for O’HARE Airport? You have got to be kidding me. I consider that a place hell-mouth akin to the one in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • 19a. [Series with many numbers], GLEE. TV series, musical numbers. No math!
  • 33a. [Fashion choice opposed by PETA], UGGS brand footwear, etc. Made of shearling.
  • 35a. [Square accessory], POCKET PROTECTOR. For super-square nerds.
  • 7d. [Malay word for "man"], ORANG. You knew this one, didn’t you?
  • 9d. [Prodigious record collector], NSA. Here are photos of people with massive collections of vinyl records.
  • 21d. [Owner of Olympia and Rainier], PABST. The Washington State geography threw me off the scent.
  • 23d. [Center of the Nollywood film industry], LAGOS. I learned something new—that Nigeria’s film industry is called Nollywood.
  • 34d. ["If two lives join, there is oft a __": Browning], SCAR. Didn’t know this poem line. Deep, no?

Favorite fill not already mentioned; LOCAVORES, AIR CANADA, VIGILANTE, WEDDING REGISTRY, PACKED IT IN.

The worst entry in this puzzle is ADES, which is frightfully common in crosswords even though people seldom talk about “ades” without a preceding fruit name. I like a puzzle in which the lousiest entry is actually not so grievous. I like a puzzle in which the worst entry doesn’t really have any competition, because everything else is smooth. That’s the Newsday charm, people.

Four stars.

Barry C. Silk’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s review

LAT 140621

LAT
140621

Short post, before people decide to lynch me. I “never” drink and I’ve had a rum and a strong-ish brandy before starting so here goes…

I’m a big fan of the seed patch (tm T Campbell) approach to themeless crosswords. The grid has an oddly lop-sided feel with 3×11 horizontal stacks and 3×7 vertical ones. In all four cases, the stacks ooze great answers: IMGONNA like many spoken word phrases hovers between arbitrary and lively, but I think ends on the latter side of the fence. IMAGINETHAT is also chatty. In fact all of the longer answers are good to great, but I also particularly liked the cocktail two-fer of BAHAMAMAMA (which looks ridiculous in the grid!) and AMERICANO, as well as full-name DANIELCRAIG and MESOZOICERA. My favourite clue was [Brand used with wings] for WETNAP.

Less well-known answers like DOGE, OMARR, and METZ are perfectly fine when used in moderation and reasonably spaced out, especially later in the week. There are a few convenient contrivances: AMAD, CDI and PLIER spring to mind, but I’m far more inclined to be forgiving when I’ve been delighted elsewhere in the grid.

4 Stars
Gareth

Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “All in Favor”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.21.14: "All in Favor"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.21.14: “All in Favor”

Hello everyone! How’s your Saturday going so far??

It’s been a while since solving a puzzle by Ms. Lynn Lempel, and I’ve been missing out. Another fun grid from her, and the theme is pretty simple: each theme answer creates a pun from phrases/nouns by adding the word “for” somewhere in the entry.

  • REFORM SLEEP: (17A: [Find a cure for insomnia, say?]) – From REM sleep.
  • FORBIDDING WAR (26A: [Peacenik's wild fantasy?]) – From bidding war.
  • STANFORD STILL: (41A: [Moonshine apparatus at a top university?]) – From stand still.
  • FORREST STOP: (54A: ["Mr. Gump, cut that out!"?]) – From rest stop.

One thing that I remember, or I think I remember, about puzzles done by Ms. Lempel are the great down entries, and this offering today is no exception! The one down answer of interest was…OF INTEREST (27D: [Newsworthy]). Throw that in with CREDENZA (9D: [Sideboard for serving a buffet]) and RINGS A BELL (11D: [Sounds vaguely familiar]), and you have an amazing set of long down entries. The crossing with RINGS A BELL, RUB, was awesome as well, given that I’ve read the Nunnery Scene from Hamlet a few (hundred) times and always loved saying those words out loud (11A: ["Ay, there's the ___] (words from Hamlet)]).

My mother, mostly out of habit/necessity in growing up in Nigeria and not having the luxury of having certain appliances at home, still prefers using clotheslines over DRYERS (43D: [Clothesline alternatives]). It’s to the point that there are a few clothes that I’ll wash at a laundromat but dry at home in the bathtub instead of putting it in the dryer. Maybe it’s a little neurotic, but picking up a habit from my mother can’t be a bad thing, right?!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BENES (25A: [Jerry Seinfeld's buddy Elaine]) – Seeing Benes reminds me not just of Seinfeld, but also of former major league pitcher Andy Benes, who played in the Majors from 1989-2002, mostly with the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals. Benes finished third in the Cy Young Award voting in 1996 while a member of the Cardinals, and he made the All-Star Game as a member of the Padres in 1993, his only appearance in the Midsummer Classic. Benes’ most memorable year might have been in the strike-shortened 1994 season, where he became one of the few pitchers in major league history to lead his league in both losses (14) and strikeouts (189).

See you for the Sunday Challenge, everyone!  Thank you for your time!

Take care, all!

AOK

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41 Responses to Saturday, June 21, 2014

  1. Gary R says:

    Hi Amy,

    This is a little off-topic for the crossword blog, but what’s up with the “obnoxious” comment regarding the Starbucks/ASU deal? To this casual observer, it seems like Starbucks is offering a benefit to its employees (including part-timers) with a nominal value of up to $30,000 (I assume Starbucks has negotiated a discount with ASU and will pay less). I’m neither a big Starbucks fan nor an ASU fan, but this seems like a pretty good deal to me.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      If you earn $9 an hour, how are you going to be able to pony up the tuition up front? Workers will have to complete 21 credits before they get any reimbursement for their educational costs.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/us/critics-point-to-drawbacks-in-starbucks-tuition-program.html

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2014/06/19/b154fce0-f7e9-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

      • Gary R says:

        Wouldn’t you do it the same way you would if you were a local college student working part time at your local Starbucks? Tap into savings, if you have any, ask Mom and Dad, take out a loan. That student loan is a lot less intimidating if you know your employer is going to help you repay it after you’ve completed 21 credits.

        Practically, I suspect that Starbucks wants the employee to demonstrate some commitment to getting his/her degree before shelling out the money.

        It’s not perfect – so few things are – but I still don’t see “obnoxious.”

        • Huda says:

          Deals that help people with their education are always appreciated, although some are better structured than others. It will be interesting to look back and see how many people wind up profiting from this particular one.
          In our lab, we were discussing whether education should be a human right. This was triggered by a recent campaign to help millions of Syrian kids who are missing out on a basic education because of being displaced or being refugees.

          • Papa John says:

            Much of the métier of humanity is its ability to learn and to pass on that knowledge to successive generations. I see education not only as a right but as a duty, as a condition of being human.

  2. Avg Solvr says:

    I thought 20 Questions was Thursday’s puzzle. And Ris, Handy, Naiads, Toranado/Olds, Mcbain in one spot? Puzzles like this make solving a chore.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      Nice clue for “hot-wires” in LAT.

    • Gareth says:

      We get it. You don’t like it when crosswords point out that you’re not as knowledgeable as you thought you were… Boo-hoo.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        Haha. The point continues to elude you. I admire your perseverance however.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Really? Then what, exactly, is the point you wish to make with your repeating grousing about “trivia quizzes” and whatnot? You may have a flawed expectation of what the puzzle is going to provide. The things you don’t like appear in the puzzle regularly! You might consider adjusting your expectations.

        • Bencoe says:

          It must be galling that you, an average solver, constantly have to deal with accomplished, experienced solvers and constructors who know less about crosswords than you do. And that so many editors and publishers keep subjecting you to crosswords beneath your standards. Maybe it’s time for you to enlighten people as to what puzzles should truly be, by finally releasing your treasure trove of perfectly crafted puzzles to the public.

          • Avg Solvr says:

            @Amy It’s a matter of proportion, and I don’t criticize very many puzzles for containing too much trivia although that’s my primary criticism when I do post.

            @Bencoe Good to know that crosswords have an objective standard of quality, perhaps you can direct me to it. If not, the nearest Jackson Pollock will do.

  3. sbmanion says:

    When I lived in Wisconsin, I played both SKAT (three players) and SHEEPSHEAD (four players). Both are German origin card games. In Skat, the four highest trumps are the jacks and in Sheepshead, the four queens are highest, followed by the four jacks. Both are trick-taking games with 32 card decks. If you can play bridge, you can instantly play almost any card game.

    I thought this puzzle was very tough. Some years ago, I was hired by the University of Phoenix to rewrite the critical thinking curriculum and to develop proprietary problems for philosophy and other courses. Nevertheless, the SW took me forever to crack as I wanted the Phoenix answer to begin with ONLINE. I also balked at KAYAK and SANCTA in the NE for quite a while. I wish the clue had been for the movie rather than the Java file. I thought SOURCE CODE was a very good movie.

    Steve

    • Matt says:

      I agree, a tough one– generally filling in one letter at a time. The good news was that the puzzle wasn’t especially tricky, so that one letter was generally correct. One made progress, though slowly.

  4. Howard B says:

    I like tough cluing, but the BLUES clue in the Times did me in. I don’t know the genre that well, so the clue was completely opaque to me. I was desperately trying CLUES in there, but only got BLUES after alphabet searching. Did not care for that bit, since the addition of that, and RIS with the crossing name were very obscure. Almost 2 minutes for those guess-the-letter fills.

    I did enjoy the challenging cluing throughout the rest, though!

    • Brucenm says:

      Mindful of the fact that I’m addressing a finalist at the most recent ACPT, this reaffirms the incredible subjectivity of the distinction between the obscure and the obvious. W.C. Handy is arguably the most important figure in the history of American Blues. I think he is even informally know as “The Father of the Blues.” He is surely the most important figure in bringing the Blues to the midwest, especially Indiana and Chicago. He lived for years in Memphis, and essentially created the Beale Street Memphis Blues scene — and the sound. I’ll spare the details, but he created and established many of the technical and formal components of the Memphis blues style. (chord progressions, number of bars, organization and repetition of motifs and sub-motifs, etc. He had a long and successful life, living until close to 1960, I think. Certainly he was alive during times that I remember well, when my musical interests were evolving.

    • JPM says:

      Two minutes! Boo-hoo speed solver boo-hoo!

  5. Huda says:

    NYT: Tough in some places and remarkably easy in others. SW flowed with nary a hitch, SE went relatively smoothly as well, but names are my curse so I had to cheat to get ED MCBAIN. HANDY was tricky and followed by a little aha. ATTACK ADS took forever to emerge and even to parse.
    I think ” …de Veau” would have been a better clue for RIS than D’Agneau. Both are correct but I think “Ris de Veau” may be better known/more common, and given that this is an unusual word should it not be clued a little more easily?
    Looking at the grid after the fact and in spite of my struggles I can see how much talent went into this construction.

    • Brucenm says:

      Had the same thought about “Ris de Veau.” I suppose the idea for a Saturday was to *not* make it easy and obvious. But the lambs and calves have similar internal organs, I guess.

      Ed McBain was prolific, and wrote under several names. He wrote the “87th Precinct” police series and the Matthew Hope lawyer series. As Evan Hunter, he wrote many novels and the screenplay, from his own novel, for the celebrated film *Blackboard Jungle.* The are rumors that he was the undisclosed author of — shall we say — underground, controversial, non-mainstream books and scripts.

  6. sbmanion says:

    My wife was born in Macao/u and we often argue whether she is Macanese (a particular subset of Portuguese) or Macaoian. It was with that backdrop that I wondered if TOLEDAN was the preferred word or merely acceptable. If you had asked me what do you call someone from Toledo, I would have said TOLEDOAN.

    Steve

  7. Howard B says:

    Aware of the refeences post-silve, and i always appreciate the crunchiness, if you will, of Saturday cluing.
    My difficulty was with using the last-name misdirection of Handy to clue, which was rather borderline fair. He’s undoubtedly a seminal figure of the genre, a great crossword answer, but used in this way i thought it was still a bit niche.

    • Tuning Spork says:

      I expected Handy to be a proper name, but the only one I could think of for a long while was Jack.

  8. David L says:

    I liked the puzzle but for me it was definitely tougher than the typical Saturday. A number of the clues employ misdirection so much that I found them hard to parse, even after getting the answer. Example: “Legs’ diamonds” = ARGYLE. Yes, I know that argyle is a pattern involving diamond shapes that is often (but not exclusively) used for socks. But, to me, that still doesn’t mean that ARGYLE = diamonds, whether belonging to legs or anything else. Maybe I’m overthinking, but it just doesn’t quite add up. This and other clues slowed me down a good deal.

  9. Huda: Concerning education as a human right, here is the UN declaration article that applies, and others in it are important toward it also:

    Article 26
    1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the
    elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be
    compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made
    generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all
    on the basis of merit.
    2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human
    personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and
    fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and
    friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further
    the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
    3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be
    given to their children.

    • Brucenm says:

      Linda, the Constitutions of most European countries (including Russia) have similar or analogous provisions. I suspect that many Asian and African democracies do as well, I am just less familiar with them.

  10. Avg Solvr says:

    “Handy talent?” should’ve been something like “mimes” or another activity involving the hand/s.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Veiled capital letters are a hallmark of Saturday cluing. The constructors and editor intended for you to think of the lowercase adjective “handy” first.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        Ah, a handy tip. But I had no idea who he was so I’m not sure it would’ve helped. I toyed with “blues” being the answer but there were too many names in that area I didn’t know for it to make a difference.

  11. Gareth says:

    I’ve read a lot of EDMCBAIN/EVANHUNTER in my time… His procedural stuff was a lot better than say “Streets of Gold” or “Love, Dad” which was a tad heavy-handed and preachy. STALINERA was diabolically hard for me to see! Wanted something like SIBERIA/GULAG initially and then some Russian word I’d never heard of… Clueing on this puppy was top-notch: extra-effort fact cluess like 21a, 46a, and 33d; clever misdirects like 22a, 40a, 59a (that had me totally flummoxed!), 35d

    • john farmer says:

      SOVIET ERA looked so right but was so unhelpful I had to step away for a while. Hardest puzzle for me in a long time.

    • Brucenm says:

      Funny how minds work. For some reason, I immediately thought — “Oh. A similar clue would be {Gummed lead}” — which might have been even more mysterious.

    • Brucenm says:

      I agree generally with your assessment of McBain – Hunter novels.

      Just out of idle, off-topic curiosity, given your interest in many kinds of music, are you familiar with the great South African pianist Anton Nel? Actually I think he may be an American citizen now. Teaches at the University of Michigan.

  12. ===Dan says:

    I was a little confused by Amy’s mention, but University of Phoenix has nothing to do with Arizona State. It’s a for-profit institution and the corporate sponsor of the stadium used by the Arizona Cardinals.

    (But it’s true that the Starbucks program is for ASU.)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      ASU has a whole online distance learning thing, which the Starbucks workers have some expanded access to. What Starbucks isn’t doing is making it more affordable for employees to finish their degrees via a local community college and university, with the option of actual in-person classes. I can’t help thinking that ASU is just trying to horn in on the wild money that the for-profit Phoenix University is raking in.

  13. YYY says:

    I don’t understand this SATURDAY STUMPER clue/answer:
    29a. [Burned lead] DAD

    • pannonica says:

      Dad-burned, one of the many euphemistic variations of God-damned. Lead as a noun related to the infinitive to lead, not the elemental metal. Took me a long time to see it, too.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Thank you, pannonica! I could not figure that one out and meant to ask about it.

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