Saturday, August 9, 2014

Newsday untimed (pannonica) 
NYT 7:54 (Amy) 
LAT 6:08 (paper) (Andy) 
CS 13:14 (Ade) 

Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 9 14, no. 0809

NY Times crossword solution, 8 9 14, no. 0809

Hello! Greetings from Midtown Manhattan. I went to the Lollapuzzoola pre-party on the Upper West Side and chatted with Team Fiend’s Andy and Janie, along with assorted other puzzle luminaries/friends. And now … I am sleepy and I want to get my mental beauty rest for the tournament (that’s A Beautiful Mind rest), so just a quick post tonight.

Likes: SWAMP clue, NAUTILUS and its clue, SHAVES clue, ALBANIAN clue (total gimme), VOODOO DOLL, the LASCAUX cave paintings, SEA SERPENT in the HOT TUBS (watch out below!), [British footballer Wayne] ROONEY,  CUBAN CIGAR, the TATTOO clue, ROBERT E. LEE’s whole name instead of the dreadful ELEE partial, and a LAST STAND.

Man U's Wayne Rooney, photographed by my son during the ICC match in Ann Arbor on August 2). Good seats, eh?

Man U’s Wayne Rooney, photographed by my son during the ICC match in Ann Arbor on August 2. Good seats, eh?

Lots to appreciate in this puzzle, and not much junk as far as I recall. 4.1 stars from me.

I expect to see some of you at Lollapuzzoola 7 tomorrow, not that those of you who are attending are going to be reading this blog before then.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Clothes Line”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.09.14: "Clothes Line"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.09.14: “Clothes Line”

Hello everyone, and a happy weekend to all of you!

Can’t spend too long here today, as I’m getting ready to finish somewhere in the nether regions at the seventh edition of the Lollapuzzoola crossword puzzle competition, but today’s grid, offered up to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is another tribute to a character from The Simpsons. This time, it’s our favorite animated fourth-grader, and one of his most recognizable catch phrases, “Eat my shorts.” Each of the theme answers start with one of those three words in that quote.

  • EAT LIKE A PIG: (17A: [Stuff oneself]) – Last time I age like a pig? Tuesday, while having spaghetti and a couple too many meatballs. It was real good, though.
  • MY LIPS ARE SEALED: (28A: ["Mum's the word!"])
  • SHORTS THE MARKET: (46A: [Is bearish on WAll Street, perhaps])
  • BART SIMPSON: (61A: [Homer's boy, and a hint to the first words of 17-, 28-, and 46-Across])

We’re used to seeing a triple or quad stack of 15-letter entries from Martin, but this time, there’s pretty much a stack of three-letter entries right in the middle to make this grid possible. With that, comes a lot of abbreviations and short names: SEN, PGA, SOC, DJS, ELY, NIA, USE, PIE, ERR. Hope you like your three-letter entries right in the heart. Our family never used CRISCO and always used (and still use) Mazola to this day for cooking (15A: [Mazola competitor]). Loved ARKANSAN (39: [Little Rocker]), and now I think people should take more pride in being from Little Rock, just so they can call themselves Little Rockers. Though what would be the demonym if people were from Hot Springs, Ark.? Hot Springsian??? Guess so.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SARK (65A: [Cutty ____ (J&B alternative)]) – The 2014 college football season is less than three weeks away form starting anew, and one of the most storied schools in college football is the University of Southern California (USC). The Trojans have a new head coach starting this season, former BYU quarterback and Univ. of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, whose nickname is SARK.

See you all on Sunday!

Take care!

Ade

Lars G. Doubleday’s Newsday Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 8/9/14 • Saturday Stumper • Doubleday • solution

Newsday • 8/9/14 • Saturday Stumper • Doubleday, Wilber, Peterson • solution

The duo of Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson deliver another offering that lives up to the sobriquet. Really had to wrestle this one into submission. More than one section needed re-solving before resolving properly, thanks to the trademark oblique cluing.

Most notable was 4-down [Lacking teeth]. For reasons of length I was in short order able to determine it wasn’t EDENTATED, EDENTULATE, EDENTULOUS, or anything literal like that. With some crossings established it was on to INEFFICIENT, which was later revised to INEFFECTIVE, and finally to the correct INEFFECTUAL.

Another rough spot was the lower left, where I failed to get a toehold for the longest time. The approach from the top was hampered by the litany of incorrect suffixes mentioned just above, by the deceptive non-plural (and hence no S) 44a [Charges for 47-Across], which was [Base figure], for which I considered UMP, then tried SGT, and finally landed upon NCO; the other answer was SQUAD. Add to that my shaky landfall attempt with 61a [When to sing "My Favorite Things"] as EASTER rather than ACT ONE and you can see how the whole region was so recalcitrant.

Every section had a hearty share of those clues that initially seem mysterious and impregnable, requiring a lateral interpretation or leap of faith—and maybe a few crossing letters—before they yield to the solver. 17a [Tongue crosser], say what? Oh, SHOELACE. 50d [It's a little above 6] CARET. 49a [Train station installation, perhaps] PUBLIC ART. 23d [What may be done with a tuck] LIPO. 39a [Green] – is this raw? Ecologically responsible? Oh, there’s a V, so maybe along the lines of ENVIOUS? Turned out to be the first, but with the unusual UNSAVVY. 29a [Well-supplied areas] beginning with O … OIL-something? Newp, OASES. And many more. You put enough of these things in a crossword puzzle, and you’ve built yourself (and your solvers) a hard nut to crack.

Interesting trivia and quotes: 46d [The only things that ''really frightened'' Churchill during WWII] U-BOATS; 48D ”All idealization makes life __”: Conrad] POORER. 45d [Fruit in the etymology of "marmalade"] QUINCE: “Middle English marmelat quince conserve, Portuguese marmelada, from marmelo quince, from Latin melimelum, a sweet apple, from Greek melimēlon, from meli honey + mēlon apple — more at mellifluous” – from m-w.com.

60d [What Brits call "casualty departments"] ERS, though I’ve primarily heard them called A AND Es (for Accidents and Emergencies, as opposed to Arts & Entertainment).

Last crossing to fall: 31a [San Diego suburb] EL CAJON (“the Big Box”, “the Drawer”) and 32d [Schiller's "Daughter of Elysium"] JOY – both were completely unknown to me. So that’s what the “Ode to Joy” is all about.

Strong puzzle, just what we’ve come to expect from Saturday Stumpers.

Mark Bickham’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 08.09.14 by Mark Bickham

LAT Puzzle 08.09.14 by Mark Bickham

In preparation for Lollapuzzoola! tomorrow, I decided to solve this one on paper. Unrelatedly, also in preparation for Lollapuzzoola, I had a few adult beverages before printing this one out. So this was a fun ride.

The grid feels a bit block-heavy/white-square sparse for a weekend puzzle. But I really enjoyed the fill, so “meh.” GET FUZZY is one of my all-time favorite comic strips. NOAH’S ARK looks nice at 1-Across, but I was pretty angry about NAG, NAG at 1-Down because is that even a real phrase?

Similarly, is NO HAIR a lexical unit? [Bald statement?]? Like, “Look, Ma! No hair!” I dunno.

[Update: I have mozzarella sticks! Blogging's way better with mozzarella sticks.]

Wanted LADY DI to be MONROE (not enough to actually write that into the grid, mind you), and I think the trap was intentional. GLENDA crossing LINDA seems right. The SE is fun: RED DAWN, WHOVILLE, NINETEEN (sadly, the Tegan and Sara song isn’t well known enough to be a crossword clue), ACT OF GOD — all lovely. Can you believe the XBOX is 13 years old? I can, but only because I am a man of facts and science. OH MY!

Maybe not the best Get Fuzzy comic?

Maybe not the best Get Fuzzy comic?

I see zero flaws in the NE, too. IQ TEST, MUUMUU, “I’M STAYING!”, QUEST, TURKEY, “TSK, TSK”, etc. Beautiful.

If you don’t like NED Rorem, then you have an opinion I disagree with. (Not my favorite recording of this violin concerto. For a real treat, get the Gidon Kremer version.)

Aside from the weird non-phrases, this is a superb puzzle. I’m feeling generous, so 4.33 stars from me. Hope to see many of you today at LPZ!

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19 Responses to Saturday, August 9, 2014

  1. anon says:

    The shaves/avon cross might just as easily been shakes/akon if one didn’t know The Wire.
    Excellent puzzle.

    • Matt says:

      Exactly the error I made. Otherwise a tough but doable puzzle.

    • sbmanion says:

      Same thought.

      I was not on the right wavelength for this one. I knew LASCAUX once I saw it, but could not remember it when I first read the clue. Should have gotten DIOCESE immediately, but didn’t, etc. etc. Only the SE fell quickly for me.

      I always get a kick out of seeing Albania. I do not know all the wrongs that this ancient set of rules (the KANUN) applies to, but if an Albanian finds his wife in bed with another man, it is OK to kill him. Albanians have tribal rules that permit, even encourage, blood feuds. Amy will love this: women are not considered worthy of being killed. In a full blown blood feud, vengeance begets vengeance until all but one are killed. Think of a nation of Belushis. And if you ever get the chance, see an old movie called MONTENEGRO.

      Steve

      • pannonica says:

        Also, in Albania the meanings of shaking and nodding one’s head are the inverse of the way most countries have it.

        • Huda says:

          In the Middle East, we nod as is done in the western world- i.e bending the head down. But to deny something, we go from a neutral position of the head and upwards in a quick jerk, often accompanied with a little click of tongue near the front of the mouth. Side to side is understandable but not that common.
          When I was in college in Beirut, I had an American roommate (a good looking blonde) who tried to emulate that No head jerk and the sound that goes with it. She inadvertently made the motion and the mouth movement look like she was air kissing. She couldn’t figure out why the cabbies offering their services would not go away after she signaled her lack of interest…

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: Excellent.
    But I’d like to object, vehemently, to the PINE NUT clue. Nonononono. Even making allowances for looseness in cluing crosswords, this is really off. I’m sure some people put pine nuts on their couscous. But actually most real couscous dishes (as invented in North Africa), do not have pine nuts in or on them (just google couscous and look at images). Importantly, pine nut cannot be construed as a couscous ingredient, any more than a parsley garnish on mashed potatoes is a mashed potatoes ingredient. Semolina or durhum wheat are couscous ingredients. And possibly garbanzo beans given how often they are part of couscous dishes.
    Ok… I feel better ;)

    • Brucenm says:

      I wondered what in the world pine nuts had to do with couscous. I suppose you could add them to couscous, or walnuts, or celery, or anything you like. I’m glad to have my puzzlement confirmed by someone more knowledgeable. It’s like calling “raisins” an “ingredient of oatmeal.”

      Loved both the NYT and the LAT. MAS’s WaPo was fine, but I didn’t understand it at all until I read the review. Perhaps I would have upped my rating had I read the review first. I thought I was looking for an article of clothing in each theme entry.

    • David L says:

      I was going to make the same objection, but I’m happy to cede the floor to someone who actually knows what she’s talking about!

      I have my doubts about GLASS ONION. I have no familiarity with it as a jokey name for a monocle, and wikipedia defines it as a large, round, flat-bottomed glass vessel used for holding brandy, rum and other essentials on sailing ships. The only place I’ve heard glass onion is in the Beatles song, so maybe it was local Liverpool slang. Or maybe John Lennon was just being fanciful, as he was wont to do.

  3. Howard B says:

    Admire the design of the Times, but there was just so much specific trivia/terminology in there that I didn’t appreciate the slog. I think this was more of a cluing situation than fill. Actually a nice mixture of knowledge in there, but very little inferable. Probably my worst solve time in 2 years here, and much due to knowledge gaps, but the discovery of the answers was not that pleasant. However, the puzzle itself is a great design. I just couldn’t break into the British language referencing, The Wire cast, celebrity nationalities, etc. LASCAUX was vaguely familiar but again, nothing to break into that if you didn’t know it solid.

  4. Gareth says:

    Nice to have a Saturday NYT with a bit of bite again! Not a lot of gimmes: LASCAUX would have been, if I knew how to spell it! Josh Knapp’s grid, as is almost always the case was all-round top drawer stuff!

  5. pannonica says:

    NYT: On the bright side, the clue for SISTINE is unobjectionable!

    • Papa John says:

      Well…the historically full and correct name for this mysterious painting is Madonna Standing on Clouds with Sextus (IV?) and Bernice(?), or something like that.

      Some may be interested to know that the model for the Madonna was Raphael’s long-time mistress. That fact is known but much of the painting is shrouded in theories and conjectures. Like the more famous Mona Lisa, the expressions on both the Christ child and the Madonna are puzzling. They seem totally pissed off. They may be reacting to Sextus’ gesture, which has been shown to be pointing at the crucifix on the opposite wall from where the painting hangs. By the way, it’s not in the Sistine Chapel.

      • Huda says:

        Cracked me up! It sounded so erudite, and then:
        “They seem totally pissed off.”

        Who says that whole madonna trip should be a walk in the park? May be Raphael was just being a realist.

        • Papa John says:

          Oh, I like to bring things down to earth, occasionally.

          Their expressions have many different interpretations, from Baby Jesus being disturbed or condemning, to Mary being contemplative or stern. Like the Mona Lisa, the simplicity of this painting allows for a myriad of readings. Personally, I think they look dead-pan.

          I must confess, however, of being a victim of history in my appreciation of Raphael. His style has become the standard for the greeting card industry and has, thusly, diminished the true value of the original works for me.

          I should also like to clarify the notion of Sextus pointing to the crucifix. He doesn’t do that where he “hangs”, which is what I wrote, but, rather where he originally hung in the monastery. I don’t know where he’s hanging these days. That painting has been around.

          The cherubim at the bottom of the painting have also been used extensively in many different commercial applications.

  6. Linda says:

    One of these days I’ll get to the Lollapuzzula–sounds like much fun and would be nice to meet up with people known only from their cool comments here. Next weekend am headed to the Boston area, staying where I usually stay, and hitting a beach, hopefully, in between talking to a couple of bookstores about my book, COUSINS: A picture book for kids 3-8. Hey, you never know. Old or new N.E. friends nearby, glad to see you there anytime.

  7. Bob Bruesch says:

    LAT: A REAL waste of time!

  8. Harry says:

    Maybe I’m not in track with modern music, but how does an apostrophe indicate nineteen, as was clued in the LAT puzzle?

  9. Brucenm says:

    Pannonica,

    Ode to Joy (An die Freude) — my first entry.

    Freude schoener, goetterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium,
    Wir betreten, feuertrunken, himmlische dein Heiligtum . . . etc.

    sung to the melody — well, you know.

    (don’t know how to get umlauts)

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