Saturday, July 12, 2014

Newsday 8:35 (Amy) 
NYT 5:56 (Amy) 
LAT 3:14, 1 error (Andy) 
CS tk (Martin) 

Tim Croce and Alex Vratsanos’s New York Times crossword

Region capture 25I got to the puzzle late tonight and you know what? When it comes to blogging the puzzle, I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT. My eyeballs are tired. That’s a great crossword answer, though, isn’t it?

This 66-worder has an unusual grid, with the six 15-letter answers split into two pairs and two singles. TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE is fine, New Yorky. LIBATION BEARERS crossing ORESTES, classically literary. SEMISOFT CHEESES, why, my current favorite for cheese and crackers is Trader Joe’s Colby-Jack slices, a tasty semisoft cheese option. EARTH-SHATTERING isn’t earth-shattering fill, but it’s quite good indeed. And while a singular member of a sports team is less savory fill than the plural team name, I won’t object to an ARIZONA CARDINAL. (It’s not the SCARLET TANAGERS, hey-o!)

Five other things  I liked:

  • 27d. [Onetime center for the distribution of oranges], OCALA. Fairly useless trivia for a crossword-friendly city name, but I can use this factoid the next time I’m in Ocala. Really. Or maybe not. What is this one doing in my list of five?
  • 3d. [Stick in a purse?], LIP BALM. I have no fewer than three kinds of lip balm (plain, fruity, and tinted) in my bag. I can stop any time I want.
  • 11d. [Some corner shops], BODEGAS. How I wish Chicago’s mini-marts, convenience stores, and corner stores were called BODEGAS like New York’s are.
  • 39d. [Manhattan eatery referenced in Billy Joel's "Big Shot"], ELAINE’S. “They were all impressed with your Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine’s.” It astonishes me how often I hear this song when I turn the car radio to the Best of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s station. And I still know all the words because my sister had the album when I was 12 and the liner notes had all the lyrics. I miss liner notes. Lyric websites are horribly unreliable.
  • 40d. ["Wow!"], “I’M IN AWE.”

Did not know:

  • 18d. [Stanger a.k.a. Bravo's "Millionaire Matchmaker"], PATTI.
  • 8d. [Banker/philanthropist Solomon], LOEB. Never heard of him and don’t know what sort of philanthropy he did … over a century ago.

3.5 stars from me. Good night!

Updated Saturday morning:

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

LAT Puzzle 07.12.14 by Barry C. Silk

LAT Puzzle 07.12.14 by Barry C. Silk

Very breezy solve for me. Was too lazy to look for the error after I didn’t get Mr. Happy Pencil. Turns out it’s CYCLADES, not CYCLIDES. LAURA is certainly better fill than LAURI, though either sounds good to me as the [Preminger noir classic] I’ve neither seen nor heard of.

Quick review this week. I like everything about both 11-stacks. SQUEEZE PLAY, TURN ME LOOSE, ROUSTABOUTS, MENTAL IMAGE, PETER GRAVES, and ALONE AT LAST are all lovely, evocative entries. Some of the short fill isn’t glistening (IRT stands out in this regard, and I’ve seen better clues for CIS than [USSR successor], though YMMV there). ALL CLEAR, BAKLAVA, ST. PAUL, SEALAB, LOU HOLTZ, STOP LOSS, BEL CANTO, CARCASS, YIELD TO, and CD CASES all struck me the right way. The NE corner felt like a bit of a LETTdown, with PRESETS and ASSERTS sitting there like lumps. Certainly nothing unbearable in the NE, but I’m curious if anyone thinks they can do better in that corner. A singular PAMPA looks weird to me, as does the verb phrase ASK TO. 

OILER crossing OIL LAMPS feels sloppy. Lots of 3-letter words in this one, which tend to be uninteresting. Oh, and then there’s QUONSET [ ___ hut], which was new to me. I Googled it and realized I’ve seen some of these in East Lansing.

To RECAP, a fine puzzle with only a few blemishes. 3.5 stars. Until next week!

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 7 12 14 "Saturday Stumper" by Frank Longo

Newsday crossword solution, 7 12 14 “Saturday Stumper” by Frank Longo

Lots of crisp fill we don’t often see in other crosswords. Here are some entries that popped out:

  • 1a. [Physical effects], KNEE-JERKS.
  • 15a. [Dorm shower], CAMPUS MAP. Map that shows dorms, not a coed shower facility.
  • 26a. [Succeed], WORK OUT WELL.
  • 46a. [Striking formations], PICKET LINES.
  • 60a. ["Candid Camera" presaged it], REALITY TV.
  • 12d. ["Aah," a la Irving Berlin], “I’M IN HEAVEN.”
  • 13d/27d combo, DENTAL CARE and ORAL HEALTH. I like the clue for the latter: [Calculus expert's concern].

Interesting clues:

  • 31a. [Nordic nickname for Helena], ELI.
  • 66a. [Letter thought to resemble a skull], THETA. Never thought about it that way … and having Googled images of both theta, skulls, and theta skull, I’m still not seeing it.
  • 2d. [Silver with many diamond pieces], NATE. I think of statistician Nate Silver as writing about politics, burritos, March Madness, and the World Cup. So I gather there’s baseball in there too? If you haven’t checked out fivethirtyeight.com, pay a visit. There are articles crunching the numbers for health statistics and more.
  • 9d. [Super memorizer], SPONGE. I had SAVANT at first.
  • 23d. [Starting impetus], SURPRISE. As in “Oh! You gave me a start.”
  • 47d. [Dragoon], COERCE. Dragoon is one of those cool old words that are probably not well known. Etymology is French for “dragon”; the dragoons were heavily armed troops on horseback, who presumably could coerce people into doing a lot of stuff under threat of death.

Four stars. No big “wow!” aspects, but a solid 70-worder.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword, “Sweet Dreams!”—Martin Ashwood-Smith’s write-up

Ade’s traveling today, so straight from the constructor (yoinked from the comments), a short write-up:

 

Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword solution, 7 12 14 "Sweat Dreems"

Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword solution, 7 12 14 “Sweat Dreems”

If anyone’s interested, here are some notes on my Washington Post crossword today (since there’s no review posted yet).
________________________

True story: the idea for this puzzle theme came to me when I was in bed a few months ago (amazing, I know). I was originally going to call it “For Insomniacs,” but decided that “Sweet Dreams!” was a little less depressing. However, it still has an alternate title at 60-A for those solvers needing a bit of shuteye!

Theme answers:

  • 17-A: AS WHITE AS A SHEET: reminds me that I have to do my laundry.
  • 25-A: SECURITY BLANKET: I still have several ;)
  • 45-A: TEARS ON MY PILLOW: reminds me not to let pets sleep on the bed with their sharp little claws.
  • 60-A: TO BED TO BED TO BED: yawn!

Oh yes, and CLOCK RADIO at 14-A has nothing to do with the theme, honest.

-MAS

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23 Responses to Saturday, July 12, 2014

  1. Martin says:

    I think the NYT clue for OCALA had quite useful solving trivia. It’s provided a hint to the answer for this guy:

    OK the answer is either a Florida or California city… most likely Florida… five letters… aha!

    Also this type of info is always a good ice-breaker at parties:

    “Hi, we haven’t met, but allow me to tell you this little fact about Ocala… ”

    -Martin

  2. sbmanion says:

    My first thought was VERRAZANO BRIDGE thinking that it was sufficiently scrabbly to be a long entry. How could I have been so ignorant as not to realize that it was built in 1964, not 1955 as the clue called for? I just have to become more knowledgeable about the years in which bridges were built. In reality, I often wonder if Will is aware of likely wrong answers or whether such errors are strictly a matter of happenstance. In this case, the A in
    Verrazano also fit with my only other entry at that point: SEATO.

    I recovered pretty quickly from that error and solved the puzzle from bottom to top. Both puzzles this weekend were easier for me than the weekend puzzles of last week. Solomon LOEB seems pretty obscure to me, but the rest of the fill fell pretty quickly.

    Steve

  3. Steve Price says:

    Suburban New York thigh-slapper exchange from the mid-1950s:
    “‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch?’
    “Ja, Tappen Zee Bridge?”

  4. Peter Collins says:

    I clung to ST LOUIS CARDINAL (instead of ARIZONA CARDINAL) for way too long. That bollixed up the bottom but good. Anyone else?

  5. Terry says:

    Spang? Is that a regionalism?

  6. animalheart says:

    SPANG was a new word to me, too, but it seems to be in most dictionaries.

    I was so thrilled that I knew a sports clue (Sportscaster Jim), but then I wrote NANCE and it took me an awful lot of puzzling to realize my mistake. (Also knew KERRI Strug. I felt positively Manionesque.)

    • sbmanion says:

      You were more than Manionesque, Gary. I also initially put in Nance, although I did spell Kerri correctly.

      By the way, as to Jim Nantz, more than one radio talk show host will have an annual contest in which the contestants try to out-reverence each other in announcing that the Masters is beginning.

      I have heard “spang in the middle,” although I must admit that I did not realize that I knew the expression until after I had stared at the weird word for a few seconds.

      Steve

      • Bencoe says:

        My wife actually knew KERRI Strugg pre-Olympics. They attended the same private school here in Florida. My wife remembers her as a quiet girl who mostly kept to herself. No doubt she had a lot going on in her life besides school.

  7. Martin says:

    Just want to point out that to us ex-Brits and Canadians, it’s the Tappen Zed Bridge ;)

    -MAS

    • sbmanion says:

      Martin, that reminds me of one of my big laughs from college. My roommate was from Regina, Saskatchewan. One Friday, we were deciding what to do. The big popular movie of the moment was a great Costa-Gavras thriller. My roommate said “Let’s go to see ZED.” We never let him live it down.

      Steve

  8. Martin says:

    Er… make that “Tappan”.

    -MAS

  9. Gareth says:

    NYT: Not knowing the strangely titled LIBATIONBEARERS meant for a tough finish: I considered LIBATIONWEASELS briefly… SPANG/NANTZ was a guess too.

    LAT: My go to TURNMELOOSE song is by Loverboy (not that I like the song, but it is certainly annoyingly earwormy). I note that it wasn’t as big a hit in the US as most other territories though.

    • ahimsa says:

      NYT: LIBATION WEASELS! Funny. :-) I didn’t know that answer, either. And I had to cheat and ask my husband about the NFL cardinals. Like several others I had confused their location with the baseball team.

      LAT: And speaking of baseball, somehow I had no trouble with SQUEEZE PLAY at 1 A. The whole puzzle was much easier for me.

      There was also an unintentional (I think?) book title sub-theme for me with BEL CANTO (Ann Patchett) and ALL CLEAR (Connie Willis).

  10. Mona says:

    LAT: Andy, you should see the 1944 movie Laura, starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Vincent Price, Clifton Webb. A true classic.

  11. Art Shapiro says:

    Add me to the NANCE list, please.

    I had SMACK instead of SPANG for the longest time, as in SMACK dab in the middle.

    Art

  12. Martin says:

    If anyone’s interested, here are some notes on my Wahington Post crossword today (since there’s no review posted yet).
    ________________________

    True story: the idea for this puzzle theme came to me when I was in bed a few months ago (amazing, I know). I was originally going to call it “For Insomniacs”, but decided that “Sweet Dreams!” was a little less depressing. However, it still has an alternate title at 60-A for those solvers needing a bit of shuteye!

    Theme answers:

    17-A: AS WHITE AS A SHEET: reminds me that I have to do my laundry.

    25-A: SECURITY BLANKET: I still have several ;)

    45-A: TEARS ON MY PILLOW: reminds me not to let pets sleep on the bed with their sharp little claws.

    60-A: TO BED TO BED TO BED: yawn!

    Oh yes, and CLOCK RADIO at 14-A has nothing to do with the theme, honest.

    -MAS

    • Tuning Spork says:

      Martin.

      Martin!!!

      The Washington Post puzzle is still unavailable to those of us who like to do one-stop shopping at Cruciverb. Can you do anything about that? Pull a string? Shout really loud? Display righteous indignation?

      I think that I can say, without fear of exaggeration, that our enthusiasm for the puzzles at the Wall Street Journal would be expanded a million-fold if we could actually get the puzzles where we’ve come to expect them.

      Thanks in advance! ;-D

  13. Martin says:

    Spork: I’ll ask our CS go-to guy Bob Klahn about this.

    -MAS

  14. Joan Macon says:

    Mona, I agree with you 100% about the movie Laura. One of my all time favorites! The perfect representative of the film noir of the 40s.

Comments are closed.