Saturday, August 2, 2014

Newsday 7:36 (joon—paper) 
NYT 24:19 (Ade, on paper) 
LAT 8:01 (pannonica) 
CS 9:23 (Ade) 

Kristian House’s New York Times crossword

New York Times crossword solution, 08.02.14 (handwritten)

New York Times crossword solution, 08.02.14 (handwritten)

Hello there, and a happy Saturday to you!

Not to say that Amy isn’t as cheery with her introductions, but as you can tell, this is Ade/AOK pinch-hitting while Amy is in Ann Arbor doing a little vacationing. (As well as pinch-hitting, I’m also unofficially starting my campaign for the neatest handwriting award at the ACPT!) My apologies in advance if this blog entry for today isn’t up to your standards in reviewing a New York Times puzzle, but I’ll do the best I can to satisfy all who will read. Thanks in advance, and if you’re not satisfied, please go as easy as possible on this VIRGO (51A: [Labor Day arrival, e.g.]), ok?!?!?!

We definitely don’t have to apologize for the enjoyment that I’m sure most of us had in completing today’s puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Kristian House. First thing that stands out for me is at the very top: MAN ENOUGH (1A: [Not too wimpy]) starts us off, but that answer is stacked on top of the very “unmanly” position of being ON ONE KNEE (15A: [Begging, perhaps]). That’s where I got a foothold to begin, even when I balked at deciding whether VEAL OSCAR was real thing before timidly putting it in (17A: [Dish with crab meat and Béarnaise]). Now that I know it’s a real thing, I’m probably not going to have it anyway, as I’m scared away by the crab meat portion of the dish. Not a seafood eater, sorry.

And because of my mostly puritan way of thinking (HA!), there’s no way I noticed the symmetrical answers of BUTT NAKED (10D: [Completely bare]) and LUBRICANT (33D: [It helps get the wheels turning]) and linked them in any way, shape or form. Two eye-pleasing answers, and, once again, I made no attempts of relating the two at all!! Well, at least not in the last five seconds..

Although not a groundbreaker or an eye catcher, I really liked OESTE (57A: [Left, on un mapa]) in the grid, as almost all of the other directions in Spanish have been used frequently in puzzles, whether as an entry in the grid or as part of the clue. (North = Norte, South = Sur, East = Este.) If you’re going to make us learn directions in other languages, make sure to use them ALL! Speaking of learning Spanish, taking it for four years in school came in handy when VALS looked weird to me until I remembered that’s the Spanish word for Waltz and a couple of lessons learning the words of dances in español (23: [Dance in triple time: Sp.]). Along with SAVOIR, there was a good amount of foreign language strewn across the grid (49A: [Knowledge: Fr.]). Not sure how many of you are/were familiar with the term RENT-A-COP (20A: [Many an event security guard]), but seeing it gave me a good laugh. I believe there’s a comedy coming out in movie theaters in a couple of weeks about two people who moonlight as fake cops. Saw the commercials for it (the movie is called Let’s Be Cops), and it looks pretty funny to me.

Another interesting sight was not just seeing Roald, and not just seeing Dahl, but his entire name, ROALD DAHL in a grid (44A: [Subject of the 2010 biography "Storyteller"]). To double dip in the British literary department, in a way, there’s ORWELLIAN there as Roald Dahl’s symmetrical brother (32A: [Like a Big Brother society]). A not-so-interesting sight was ATRIA, as that, for some reason, is now probably my least-favorite five-letter entry these days (61A: [Mall features]). Wasn’t fooled a bit by the blanket being referred to, as SMOG popped in immediately after reading the clue (26A: [Dangerous blanket]). Well, “haze” popped in first, but then smog snuck in immediately afterwards.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TURDUCKEN (62A: [Portmanteau bird?])- For those that don’t regularly read my CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword reviews, I take one grid entry and talk about it using a sports context. Today, it’s turducken, a usual Thanksgiving dish in which a chicken is stuffed into a duck, which is then stuffed into a deboned turkey. On Thanksgiving Day, there are football games that take place in Dallas and Detroit, and during the 1990s, football broadcaster (and Hall-of-Fame coach) John Madden would award an actual turkey leg to the Most Valuable Player of the Thanksgiving football game where he was at. Later on, the award went from a turkey leg from just a cooked turkey, to a leg from a turducken. Now I would have embedded a video of this actually happening, but the NFL (No Fun League) has probably pulled all those videos off of the Internet, as I can’t find one as we speak. But trust me, this was a thing in the late ’90s and 2000s when Madden was still a football commentator.

Again, thank you so much for your time, and I do hope you enjoyed the read. If not, I don’t blame you. And remember, Lollapuzzoola 7 is a week from today!!! If you’re around the Upper East Side next week, please stop by and participate. The fun to be had there is immense, whether you’re a competitor or a volunteer, and if you’re a competitor, that means you would have spent considerably less to compete and do ACPT-like puzzles ($25) than if you were NYC and actually did ACPT puzzles at ACPT! I’ll be there, and I’ll make sure to say hello to everyone who comes through the door next week to be a part of the festivities!

Take care, and I’ll see you back at the CrossSynergy/WaPo crossword reviews!

Ade/AOK

Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 8/2/14 • Sat • Silk • solution

LAT • 8/2/14 • Sat • Silk • solution

I’ve forgotten the trick to quickly calculate a puzzle’s word count and I don’t feel like being a sap by doing it manually, but this one sure looks to be on the low side. No excess of black squares, triple stacks in all corners, of 10 and 11 letter entries. Quoting from the center – much more NEAT-O and MEATY than PESKY or MESSY. Zing!

Continuing thence, I vow not to PRATE overmuch during this write-up.

Minimal dross and frass among the fill. Practically no crosswordese. Barely any partials. Okay, a bunch of abbrevs., but far from a glut.

Took a little doing (or 8d DOIN’) to gain a toehold in the grid, but once attained, progress was steady and regular – my answers oozed across the squares with nary a misstep. The only one: SANER for HALER at 37a [More sound].

The difficulty of the clues is ratcheted to an appropriate Saturday level. Especially liked the elliptical ones, such as 12d [Catalog] for PIGEONHOLE. Sometimes the clever clues stretched too far for my liking, seeming not unfair but tinged with an unsatisfying air: 14d [Part of Larry King's legacy] SUSPENDERS, 53a [Split personality?] CHEERLEADER. Am appreciating the latter a little more in retrospect, though.

Favorite clue: 28a [It may be fit for a king] BED LINEN. Runner-up: 2d [Gob stopper?] AHOY (though AVAST would be more appropriate).

More: 49a [Each of the two longest ones lasted 15 innings] ALL-STAR GAME. Wow, an essentially meaningless exercise lasting two-thirds longer than a normal game? Talk about tedium. Feel free to correct me in my ignorance. 36d [More than just zealots] MANIACS; you know, I really can’t distinguish between the two and, left to my own devices, would be unable to rank them in relative intensity. 40d [Predecessor of Nelson] GERALD; no idea what this refers to. Although I enjoyed seeing the underrepresented DRUZE in the grid, its clue [Mideast monotheistic sect] is of limited helpfulness; I’m unaware of any (extant) polytheistic religions thereabout.

Excellent crossword.

Stan Newman (“Anna Stiga”, aka “Stan Again”)’s Newsday Saturday Stumper

nd140802hello there, it’s joon with the review of today’s saturday stumper. today’s puzzle was decidedly less stumperish than previous weeks, but as usual the grid was squeaky clean and there were some excellent knotty clues. let’s hit the highlights:

  • right off the bat, {Cast away} looks like it has to be a verb, right? nope, it’s a noun—a traveling TROUPE of actors. brilliant clue.
  • {Impervious to bugs} had me thinking about computer bugs first and then actual bugs, but this time it’s about clandestine listening bugs: SECURE. for the other kind of bug, see {Not quite fully ready} BETA and {Crash investigator} TECH.
  • the grid is anchored on two crossing 15s: ENRICHED URANIUM, vaguely but straightforwardly clued as {Power source}, and RETURN ADDRESSES, with the nice clue {Places in a corner?}. this one looks like a verb but it’s a noun.
  • {Pre-cube sugar shapes} are LOAVES. this was a nice clue for me because i’d just been to rio de janeiro, where sugarloaf mountain is so named because of its resemblance to a sugar loaf. sugar was the major industry in brazil before the advent of coffee in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
  • there are some weird ways to clue normal entries: ABE gets {Pacific Rim prefix for “nomics”}, i guess in reference to japanese prime minister shinzo ABE, and SHIP gets {Suffix like -hood} even though it’s a perfectly good standalone word.
  • i liked the AGASSI/HEWITT tennis match in the southwest, although the latter was clued as {Vet portrayer in “Garfield: The Movie”}, presumably actress jennifer love rather than former world #1 lleyton.
  • another apt pairing is the alicia KEYS/KENNY G musical crossing at square 32. at 1d, the {“Pink Panther” theme instrument} is neither piano nor sax, but the humble TRIANGLE.
  • {“You’ve got me? Who’s got YOU?” speaker in a ’78 film} is lois LANE. what a nice clue! i didn’t get it right away, but after i had a few letters, it dawned on me—this must be said when superman is carrying her through the air.
  • {“Vecino de Portugal”} is ESPANA. i don’t know spanish, but i’m guessing vecino means neighbor. it looks rather cognate to the french voisin.

very fun puzzle. 4.3 stars.

Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Starting Finishes”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.02.14: "Starting Finishes"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.02.14: “Starting Finishes”

Hello everybody! How’s your weekend going so far?

Todays puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, may be one of my favorite themes of any CS/WaPo puzzle that I’ve done so far. Well, yes, part of it is because it has a sports theme, but its cleverness in presenting the theme is what wins the award. In it, each of the three theme answers start with letters that make up the thoroughbred racing terms for finishing first (win), second (place) and third (show) in a race, but the fact that those words don’t stand alone and are just the beginning parts of the entire first word is where the deviousness factor kicks in. Don’t you love it when clever themes are pulled off like that?!

  • WINE STEWARD: (17A: [Sommelier])
  • PLACEBO EFFECT: (36A: [Lessening of symptoms, at times])
  • SHOWER STALL: (60A: [Bathroom feature, perhaps])

Any grid that has a Looney Tunes character immediately is a winner in my book, and that’s the case here with the appearance of DAFFY (30D: [Cartoon duck]). Also liked BANKROLL as well, something I had wished someone would do with my sports web site/business until I realized that no benefactor was going to fly in and shower me with dollar bills (3D: [Support financially, as in a venture]). And how can I forget that, along with Looney Tunes characters, any grid, in my eyes, is a winner if they have the nickname of my alma mater in it, and this one does with ORANGE (8D: [Halloween hue]). Let’s Go, ‘Cuse!!!! About to head out now, and might have to have some TEX-MEX for lunch, and that’s not just because it’s on the grid…have been craving some Spanish/Mexican food for a few days now (47D: [Southwestern cuisine]). But before I go, a very, very funny “sports” moment.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FIRST (23A: [Who's position, in a famous sketch]) – Of course, the famous sketch is the “Who’s on First?” comedy routine performed famously by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. So we know Who’s on first, but here are the other positions and the “people” manning them in the skit: What (second base), I Don’t Know (third base), Why (left field), Because (center field), Tomorrow (pitcher), Today (catcher) and I Don’t Give a Darn (shortstop). The only position not mentioned is right field. Want to see the entire skit? Well, you’re in luck…

I’m in tears almost watching it again! (“I Don’t Know…THIRD BASE!”) I hope you also had a nice laugh before signing off of here for the day. See you tomorrow for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!

Ade/AOK

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14 Responses to Saturday, August 2, 2014

  1. pannonica says:

    Unabashedly sentimental but undeniably beautiful are Enrique Granados’ VALSes Poéticos, written for piano but also often played in an arrangement for guitar. Try Alicia de Larrocha for the former and Julian Bream for the latter.

    Ngram of BUCK NAKED vs BUTT NAKED. The former precedes the latter and remains far more popular.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: thanks for the great review, Ade/AOK, and for the visual with that lubricant situation.
    I loved the puzzle, and either I’m getting better or I was on the constructor’s wavelength.

    Probably the latter, because this was refreshingly devoid of arcana and full of great phrases. And if you see crab in a clue, think Oscar. Not sure whether it’s a chef’s name or refers to a crabby Oscar, probably a French crabby Oscar. Asparagus is often involved.

    And YES, it’s a AAA day: Amy in Ann Arbor!!! So exciting! I love how many fiendish people pass through our little town!

  3. Richard Levinson says:

    LAT. Nelson Rockefeller was appointed vice president previous
    vp Gerald Ford when Ford became President in 1974. Obscure enough?

  4. David L says:

    I have a couple of issues with the Stumper. At 18A, TENSTONE is 140 lbs which is a bit less than 64 kg which is 0.064 of a tonne. 0.08 tonnes, per the clue, is 12.6 stones.

    And at 41D, MARZIPAN is not icing. You put a thin layer of marzipan — a sweet almond paste — on the fruitcake, and cover that with a layer of icing, which is the familiar concoction of powdered sugar and eggwhites. (I say this on the authority of my dear departed mother and will brook no contradiction).

    I had trouble believing WART for young King Arthur, but the internet tells me it’s correct. New to me, though.

  5. bonekrusher says:

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever given a 5-star rating before this week, and I gave it to two this week (Jeff Chen’s NYT Thursday and Kristian House’s today’s NYT). Absolutely fantastic cluing on this. Loved seeing ROALD DAHL (I first wrote MORT STAHL, wondering why he would be lauded as a storyteller), TURDUCKEN, BUTT NAKED, and CLIPCLOP.

  6. Linda says:

    About Lois Lane’s very cool comment: As I remember, she is taking a free fall outside a tall building with no end in sight when Superman zooms in and scoops her out of the air, saying something like, “Don’t worry. I’ve got you.” No one’s fool, she comes back with “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”

    Or something like that.

  7. Linda says:

    But beyond that, I found the entire left-hand side of the LA puzzle very hard to figure out today and never finished figuring it out–long words with little frame of reference from my experience.

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Many thanks to the Scooby Gang for covering for me on short notice! Yes, this trip was planned months ago, but I completely spaced on lining up substitutes for my usual blogging duties until roughly Friday. D’oh! (Ade may or may not have also noticed another couple of 9-letter answers, MAN ENOUGH and ON ONE KNEE. This puzzle was salacious, man.) (This puzzle was also easy, no? Somehow I flew through it in 3:56, which is more of a Wednesday/Thursday solving time. Hardly ever crack the 4 mark on a Friday puzzle! Just me?)

    @pannonica: Take the last clue number in the grid, then count all the squares that start both Across and Down answers (the 1-Across square and the others with no white squares above or to the left). Add the clue number and the corner-squares count and Bob’s your word-count uncle.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Not just you. I loved this puzzle and also thought it was easier than the average Saturday. Stan more than made up for it with the Stumper, though. I am well and truly stumped.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    P.S. Ade definitely beats me and Joon on the tidy-printing front! That is one pretty grid.

  10. Jim Finder says:

    In the Stumper, 5D, I can’t see why PEGS would be “Mnemonic devices.”

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