Friday, July 25, 2014

NYT 5:06 (Amy) 
LAT 5:42 (Gareth) 
CS 8:45 (Ade) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 7 25 14, no. 0725

NY Times crossword solution, 7 25 14, no. 0725

Not in the mood for paragraphs, or even complete sentences. Onward to bulleted lists!

Nice bits:

  • 1a. [It's part of a club], MAYO. Club sandwich, that is. Good clue.
  • 15a. [Fur source], CHINCHILLA. Dreadful clue, grim. Adorable animal.
  • 17a. [Repeated cry in a 1973 fight], “DOWN GOES FRAZIER!” Versus Ali, Thrilla in Manila.
  • 23a. [Geezers], OLD GOATS. Had OLD GENTS. Thank goodness that was wrong.
  • 29a. The Glass Capital of the World], TOLEDO, OHIO. Its OOH crosses 23d: OOH.
  • 44a. [They might become bats], ASH TREES. Ash bats possibly threatened by the emerald ash borer.
  • 57a. [Heads with hearts], ARTICHOKES. Clue had me mystified, in a good way.
  • 4d, 8d. [Like God]: OMNIPRESENT and INFALLIBLE. If only 24d and 38d had this clue too.
  • 16d. [Tanker's tankful], CRUDE OIL. Feel like GAS OIL shows up in the puzzle more often than CRUDE OIL. CRUDE is a much better entry.
  • 28d. [Liquor store, Down Under], BOTTLE SHOP. Didn’t know it, but it’s gettable. Learned something new.
  • 53d. [Europe's Tiger City], OSLO. Seen a lot of OSLO clues in my time but didn’t know this one.

“Meh” moments: ELAM, OAS, A IS, OISE. That’s a short list.

Complaint department: I imagine the constructor and editor have some dictionary source that backs up BIALIES as the plural of bialy, but I checked four dictionaries and came up with no support. You can play it in Scrabble, apparently? When you Google a word and nine of the first 10 search results are definition or word list pages … it’s not a choice word for a crossword puzzle. What’s really bizarre is that you get a lot more Google hits for bialies than for bialys—though the top bialys hits are all good ones (places that make and sell bialys, food articles, nary a junky word list in sight). I will call this nonstandard and move on.

Did not know: 11d. [The "you" in "On the Street Where You Live"], ELIZA. No idea. The title made me think of “People in Your Neighborhood” from Sesame Street, though.

Four stars.

Maryanne Lemot’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Course Requirements” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/25/14 • "Course Requirements" • Fri • Lemot, Shenk • solution

WSJ • 7/25/14 • “Course Requirements” • Fri • Lemot, Shenk • solution

With a title like that one might think this has to do with educational institutions and prerequisites. Ah, but this isn’t the Chronicle of Higher Education crossword (on minisabbatical this week, incidentally). This is the bastion of banking, business, and finance, the Wall Street Journal, where who you know always trumps what you know. And such relationships are stereotypically—or perhaps caricaturally—reinforced on the golf course: 8 rebus squares contain a TEE.

  • 23a. [Makings of a strong case] CONCRETE EVIDENCE.
    24d. [Is crawling] TEEMS.
  • 34a. [Napoleon's cousin] CHOCOLATE ECLAIR.
    13d. [Features of some combs] FINE TEETH.
  • 47a. [Possession whose maintenance is burdensome] WHITE ELEPHANT.
    32d. [Colonel Sanders feature] GOATEE.
  • 64d. [Make a futile effort] WASTE ENERGY.
    58d. [Gateway Arch makeup] STEEL. See also the crossing 72d [Cardinal cap marking] STL.
  • 74a. [1981 #1 hit for Hall & Oates] PRIVATE EYES.
    67d. [Exorbitant] STEEP.
  • 90a. [Some sensei] KARATE EXPERTS.
    84d. [Stock units] STEER. See also 125a [Stock identifiers] EAR TAGS.
  • 102a. [Bob Woodward, at the Washington Post] ASSOCIATE EDITOR.
    103d. [Like Romeo and Juliet] TEENAGE.
  • 115a. [Some DVD extras] ALTERNATE ENDINGS.
    105d. [Recipient of one-on-one lessons] TUTEE.

Note that all the across theme answers have the TEE spanning across two words (I happen to be picturing the St Louis Gateway Arch) while all the down crossings are single words and the TEE maintains its integrity. Well, all but 13-down, but the TEE is nevertheless undivided. All the better to rest a golf ball upon?

Now if only there had been a ninth themer in the center, then there would have been a total of 18 tees, corresponding to the standard number of holes on a golf course!

Solid ballast fill, with the typical Shenk array of interesting and playful clues. No very long answers but plenty of midlength stacks and, understandably, some lesser fill of the crosswordese, abbrev., and partial variety.

Just a few notes:

  • 40d/66a [Washed out] ASHY/PALE.
  • Demonyms! 68d [From Innsbruck, say] TYROLEAN. 94a [From Asmara, say] ERITREANTowards Asmara, read.
  • 41a [DNA components] STRANDS. Nice clue, but 117d [Amino acid carrier] RNA, hmm.
  • Favorite clues: 62a [Litter setting, literally or figuratively] STY, 22a [Answer from someone who doesn't call] I RAISE.
  • 16d ["Bacchus and Ariadne" painter] TITIAN. 122a [Field worker] GLEANER.
    milletlesglaneusesEven though it’s golf themed, I daren’t call this one subpar. Average to above-average puzzle.

Jacob McDermott’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 140725

LA Times
140725

Surprising choice by Rich Norris for a Friday puzzle. There’s little in the way of Friday trickery or other wordplay in today’s theme. Rather we have a solid early-week theme that, with circles allowed one to quickly grok what was going on. The circled answers surround the theme entries and form car marques – two European (my own Fiat gets included!) and two American; Asian carmakers get the cold shoulder! The surrounding aspect of the theme doesn’t seem adequately conveyed by the RENTACAR revealer. The other issue I have is that the theme didn’t predispose (it seems) to interesting theme answer. What we get are:

  • [*Beach scuttler], SANDCRAB. It doesn’t seem to have a fixed taxonomic meaning…
  • [*Platform used when mooring ships], DOCKINGBRIDGE. Dry, technical term.
  • [*Headwear for a hose user], FIREHAT
  • [*Lego unit], BUILDINGBLOCK

250px-186PolitoedOn the other hand, the non-theme fill is carefully crafted with most sections containing snazzy answers: KARATE/APACHE/RATLINE in the top-right, DONTDELAY/ROCOCO in the top-left, ATLARGE/KINGME in the bottom-left and SIDEKICKS in the bottom-right.

There is also very little junk. The odd bit of crossword-ese, which is what we get here, hasn’t ever bothered me we don’t see RYA much anymore as it went out of fashion in the 60′s; STAD is a common town suffix in South Africa, but probably less familiar to Americans. The two I’d class as proper constructor’s crutches are KABOBS , not the spelling I see in real life, which is KEBABS; there do seem to be a lot of var. options out there! BRRR has two R’s, 3 is a crutch.

Other remarks:

  • [Fred : William :: Ricky : __], DESI. I got from RICKY to DESI easily enough. Apparently Fred is a supporting character played by William on I Love Lucy.
  • [Bingham of "Baywatch"], TRACI. One of two famous TRACIs…
  • [Metal giant], ALCOA. I tried ARMCO first, alas.

3.25 Stars
Gareth
PS: Oh, the cars are RENT as in torn!

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Any Way You Slice It”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.25.14: "Any Way You Slice It"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 07.25.14: “Any Way You Slice It”

Happy Friday, everybody!

There’s a good chance that most of you are already out on the town or, in some way, away from your computer right now. And hopefully, if you’re out, you’re with a special someone who told you IT’S A DATE (11D: ["Good, we're set"]) as he/she/they accepted your invitation to head out. But I hope that before you went out, you enjoyed today’s grid from Ms. Sarah Keller. Definitely an enjoyable puzzle, even if you need a Band-Aid for this one. In it, five theme answers start with words that are synonyms to the word “slice.” Seeing “slice” actually makes me think of the orange soda of the same name. Is that still in production??

  • SEVER TIES TO: (18A: [End a relationship with]) – Aww, how sad!
  • CUT THE MUSTARD: (24A: [Come up to snuff])
  • CARVE OUT A CAREER: (38A: [Create future professional endeavors]) – Doing that as we speak…I think?!?!
  • CLIP ONE’S WINGS: (52A: [End a person's privileges]) – Ouch!
  • SLASH PRICES: (60A: [Prepare for a sale])

No joke, I had a conversation last night with a friend about both Green Acres and The Beverly Hilbillies, and I looked up the casts (and theme songs) to both. With that, EBSEN was unbelievably fresh in my mind (69A: ["The Beverly Hilbillies" star Buddy]). Both GLOB (57D: [Whip cream serving, perhaps]) and GOOP (13D: [Sticky stuff]) make this puzzle a little gooey. Loved seeing RED COATS, although I probably wouldn’t have been saying that if I was alive in the early 1700s (40D: [British soldiers during the American Revolution]). Crosswordese included SDS (64D: [1960s radical grp.]), AAS (4D: [Remote batteries, perhaps]), and a new one for me, A LOW (42D: [Have _____ tolerance for]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PERDUE (2D: [Chicken maven Frank])- This “sports…smarter” moment is actually about…myself. (Sorry for the possible self-aggrandizing.) In 2007, I worked as the radio play-by-play voice of the Delmarva Shorebirds in Salisbury, MD on WTGM Radio. The Shorebirds are the Class-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and they play their home games at Arthur W. PERDUE Stadium, named after the founder of Perdue Farms. I got to know some of the Perdue the family very well while down in Salisbury, where the Perdue chicken empire started. Working in Minor League Baseball and being the voice of a sports team was one of the best experiences of my life, and I have, in part, the PERDUE family to thank for that.

See you all on Saturday!

Take care!

Ade/AOK

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31 Responses to Friday, July 25, 2014

  1. hjl says:

    Eliza is Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. “The Street Where You Live” is a song sung about her by her smitten boyfriend Freddy.

  2. Art Shapiro says:

    After yesterday’s trivia-filled debacle, which I thoroughly detested despite the excellent Thursday gimmick, I was hoping for something really spiffy for Friday.

    Anything with “Down Goes Frazier” has gone a long way toward five stars in my book. What a pleasant, challenging, and eminently fair puzzle.

  3. Brucenm says:

    I think the 1973 fight referred to is Foreman – Frazier, when Frazier *did* go down repeatedly in the round and a half that it lasted.

  4. Avg Solvr says:

    NYT: Replacing TIT with TIS eliminates the SERRA/RAITA natick.

    Down Goes Frazier

    • Howard B says:

      You have a good eye for this sort of thing, AS. However in this case, timing is the issue. RAISA, at this point, is more crosswordese than RAITA (until a RAISA besides Ms. Gorbachev comes along); unscientifically, I’ve seen RAITA on two Indian restaurant menus just this month. I haven’t seen RAISA on a restaurant menu since, perhaps, 1989 :).
      I can’t speak for Mr. Shortz (our voices sound too different), but I think such reasoning might be valid here. RAISA showed up much more frequently in puzzles of previous years.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        I would think RAISA is more well known than RAITA. Perhaps a crossing of TIS and RAISA would be thought too easy for a Friday.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Yes, for an older person who paid attention to global affairs in the ’80s and who doesn’t eat Indian food. For any urban/suburban 20- to 50-year-old, RAITA is probably going to win out over RAISA. It’s also, frankly, more interesting than a name that has faded into history.

          In general, I think many constructors strive to rid their grids of irrelevant names, not insert them in place of regular nouns. If you thought RENNER was unfair, you should be anti-RAISA too—except it’s all about your personal set of knowledge, no?

          • Avg Solvr says:

            I never said RENNER wasn’t fair, I said the cross of RENNER, PNIN, and LEE was a problem. RUNNER would eliminate the need to know any of those names.

            It’s not just a matter of RAISA being more widely known than RAITA (I recall seeing RAISA in quite a few puzzles and RAITA not once) but TIS eliminates the need to know TIT, another factual answer. TIS doesn’t eliminate the possibility of guessing the wrong vowel in a RAISA/SERRA cross but it’s my belief that RAISA would be an easier answer than RAITA for those in the crossword community.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Hang on. Are you arguing that “needing to know factual answers” is a problem when it comes to crosswords?

          • Avg Solvr says:

            It can be, yes. Among other things, it depends on how they’re placed, just like propers.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            I believe the editor assumes that solvers of the Thursday-through-Saturday puzzles have a good command of factual things, and I don’t think that’s an unfair assumption. Certainly I would hate to see the more challenging puzzles dumbed down.

        • Avg Solvr says:

          But how does one decide what level of knowledge is appropriate for what crossword audience? That becomes flimsy territory I would think which is why I think a good puzzle allows ways around factuals and propers though I understand that isn’t always feasible.

    • john farmer says:

      TIS is the answer at 7D and can’t be at 55D also.

      If you’re looking for substitutes, then TAINA (TV show, actress Elg) could have replaced RAITA, but aguable whether that’s an improvement.

      • Avg Solvr says:

        LOL Well, that solves that then. Never saw it. Thanks.

        TIN/TANIA probably would be better. TIN would be easier than TIT and TANIA sounds like a version on TANYA so I’d think most people would get it right.

  5. Bencoe says:

    I thought the same thing about the chinchilla fur entry. I hate thinking about how many of these beautiful little guys it takes to make a coat. I looked into getting a chinchilla as a pet many years ago, but they require a lot of exotic care, apparently, and aren’t really made to be domesticated, despite their gentleness.

  6. sbmanion says:

    Frazier’s unrelenting attack style played right into the bigger, stronger Foreman’s hands.
    It set up the great Rumble in the Jungle in 1974 featuring the Rope-a-Dope tactic when Ali allowed Foreman to punch himself out and then came back to beat him. For those of you who are younger than 60, it is hard to appreciate that Ali was the most iconic athlete of my lifetime. It is sad to think what happened to boxing after the ’70s.

    Steve

  7. Huda says:

    NYT: Excellent puzzle. Surprisingly doable for me considering the sports entries. The GOES in Down Goes Frazier took a lot to suss out. STARR. NELLIE same story… Crosswords taught me that bats are made of ASH, so that actually helped.

    The heavenly vibe was an interesting vertical motif– being On Cloud Nine, contemplating the Infallible, Omnipresent God.

    One of the best highways in the US of A: The Junipero Serra Freeway. Driving between Palo Alto and SF (something I did daily for a year) you can watch the clouds come from the Pacific, and roll over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Even the architecture of the overpasses is beautifully done. It’s hard to capture the dynamic feel in photos. Or maybe I have a soft spot for that part of the world.

  8. Matt says:

    Took forever to get a foothold in the NYT. A fun puzzle, once I got going.

  9. David L says:

    Heaven knows I’m no expert on churchliness, but isn’t being INFALLIBLE supposedly a quality of the Pope rather than of God? (Not that I’m saying God is fallible, I don’t want to get smote or anything). I thought the whole infallibility thing was the Church’s way of justifying its actions during the Inquisition and other such unpleasantnesses.

    • sbmanion says:

      As a lapsed Catholic, I tread on ground I no longer know thoroughly, but I am pretty sure that the Pope is only infallible when he speaks ex cathedra; i.e., when he announces the official doctrine of the Church.

      Steve

  10. Tracy B says:

    I so want the clue for 30D to be “Like Dog.”

    Sweet puzzle.

  11. golfballman says:

    Amy, is this the only way to get the LAT? I mean at your site its 9 mouse clicks and a 30 sec. commercial, is there a quicker way?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      You must be rather incurious if you haven’t yet noticed that the puzzle is available in Across Lite to Cruciverb.com members. Signing up for an account is free, you’ll never get spammed, and the puzzle’s usually available from maybe midnight on.

      • Zulema says:

        But not before midnight. I also dislike clues that categorize certain animals as fur sources, chinchillas, otters, and others. But otherwise, NYT crossword was very pleasing and intelligent.

  12. lemonade714 says:

    In addition to cruciverb you can get the LA Times at MENSA .

  13. jacob mcdermott says:

    I constructed the LA times crossword today– Circles did not appear in the hardcopy I got (and did not appear in my original manuscript). Do you all think the revealer was obscure enough to warrant circles?

  14. Steve says:

    No circles in my newspaper (Hartford Courant) and I had no clue what the gimmick was, even with a finished puzzle. (LAT) Gareth wasn’t much help either, until I started to look for a Fiat. Sorry.

  15. Joan Macon says:

    Well, put me down as another who didn’t see any circles in the LAT newspaper puzzle or in Gareth’s writeup. I’m glad I’m not the only one who couldn’t figure it out on my own; thanks, Jacob and Steve!

Comments are closed.