Saturday, August 16, 2014

NYT 7:50 (Amy) 
Newsday 7:35 (Amy) 
LAT 5:56 (Andy) 
CS 8:48 (Ade) 

Peter Broda’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 8 16 14, no. 0816

NY Times crossword solution, 8 16 14, no. 0816

It’s not so common for 1-Across to be the last answer I finish! I had the JAZZ part right away and I know that Django was Romani, but didn’t know that GYPSY JAZZ was a [Genre for Django Reinhardt]. Spicy 1a, that.

Other zippy fill includes “NOT YOU TOO?,” AHA MOMENT, MS. OLYMPIA, DEGREE MILLS (more commonly called “diploma mills” around these parts), the rude “DID I STUTTER?,” BEER BELLY, WAR CRIMES, silent-P PTARMIGAN, and MATT DAMON.

Did not know: 37d. [Tacky television transition], STAR WIPE; the YO of 2d. [Cry that helps people pull together], YO HEAVE HO.

There were lots of excellent clues … but I have a headache so I won’t review the whole puzzle to find them now.

4.25 stars.

Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Side of Fries”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.16.14: "A Side of Fries"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 08.16.14: “A Side of Fries”

Good morning everyone, and a happy Saturday to you!

Yesterday, I had to deal with having french fries in the brain when one of the entries was Ore-Ida. Today just happens to be a whole lot of fries shoved in my face, and I have the grid of Ms. Sarah Keller to thank for that. In it , the first word in each theme answer also describes a style of French fries and/or those words are ones that can come before the word “fries.”

  • FRENCH CUFF: (20A: [Dress shirt feature]) – I have many dress shirts and none with French cuffs. I don’t think I’m missing too much, if you ask me.
  • STEAK KNIFE: (32A: [Outback cutting implement])
  • WAFFLE CONE: (43A: [Sweet ice cream holder])
  • CURLY LOCKS: (58A: [Young Shirley Temple's famous ringlets])

Not sure what to think of the theme. If you consider the theme as words that come immediately before “fries,” then there’s no problem. If you think of it as different styles of fries, then “French” would actually be redundant, right? I think of steak, waffle and curly as different styles of fries, but not French. That’s just nit-picking probably, but would love to know what you think. Here’s an entry/clue free of charge that would work: SHOESTRING CATCH (Defensive baseball play that you might see on highlight reels).  And it’s 15 letters as well!  BOOM!

Not to say that being in SUFFOLK County is a bad summer destination spot (9D: [Long Island county]), but the couple of times that I’ve had to make it to Long Island this summer probably doesn’t match up to being in BISCAYNE Bay in the summer months (10D: [Miami's ________ Bay]). Interesting intersection with ESO (33D: [___ Beso (Paul Anka hit)]) crossing ISO right smack dab in the middle (41A: [Prefix with bar]). Seeing MASHIES makes me think Ms. Keller must be a real golf fan, since that’s a term I hear only golf junkies use (5D: [Five-irons]). Oh, and to have that clue at 5D and talk about five irons is very clever…or total happenstance. Did anyone get confused by the first two AAs in AARDWOLF and think something might be amiss (51A: [Cousin of a hyena])? I was just fine with that one, as well as AQABA, as I’m seeing that entry more and more now in grids and I’m now making sure I know more about it than I really need to (51D: [Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Egypt]).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOY (30A: ["Cheaper by the Dozen" actress Myrna]) – There’s a pretty good chance that the only time you see LOY in a puzzle is in reference to actress Myrna Loy. Well let me provide you an alternate Loy right now. Former NBA basketball player Loy Vaught played most of his career in the 1990s for the Los Angeles Clippers. Often the only shining light on some really bad Clipper teams, Vaught twice finished seasons averaging a double-double. He averaged 16.2 points and 10.1 rebounds in the 1996 season and 14.9 points and 10.0 rebounds the following year. Loy was also a member of the 1989 University of Michigan team that won the national championship.

Have a great Saturday, and see you all for the Sunday Challenge!

Take care!

Ade/AOK

Ned White’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 08.16.14 by Ned White

LAT Puzzle 08.16.14 by Ned White

I found this one much more challenging than the standard Saturday LAT. I also thought there was a lot of interesting fill, and a particularly large number of spoken phrases: “ONE TO GO,” “MWAHAHA,” “GET THIS,” “LET ME SEE,” and “BE BRAVE.” I liked the central mini-thematic crossing of HAPPY MEAL and SILLY WALK, though the latter pushes on the edge of lexicality (and yes, I’ve seen the Monty Python sketch). Other great stuff in this one includes WHATNOT, MAD MAX, Xs AND Ys, ALSO-RAN, MADE HAY, BABAR, TIGHT-FISTED. I thought the clue for GENDERS was quite inventive: [Bases for some roles].

BAD THROW felt a bit arbitrary to me. There’s not a lot of fill in this one that looks out of place in a crossword, though CORT didn’t come to me easily because I initially had LIGHT ON CASH where TIGHT-FISTED [Like one claiming to be short, maybe] should have gone. Hey, Frank LONGO’S in this puzzle! Oh, no, wait, those are LONG Os (clued well as [Solo couple?]). I’m still not sure how I feel about TRIBAL ELDER — I think that’s a perfectly cromulent phrase, but something about it strikes me as very Othering.

Raise your hand if you knew that MAHAL (as in the Taj Mahal) comes from the Urdu for “palace”? Fun Fact of the Day™.

I KANT go on. 3.75 stars. Until next week!

Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution, 8 16 14 "Saturday Stumper" by Doug Peterson

Newsday crossword solution, 8 16 14 “Saturday Stumper” by Doug Peterson

I did not get nearly enough time to chat with Doug at Lollapuzzoola last weekend. Alas and alack!

Congratulations to Doug on crafting the first puzzle I can remember in which the first four letters in 1-Across spell out TURD. It’s a decidedly non-turdlike crossword, though. Highlights:

  • 1a. [Portmanteau often heard in November], TURDUCKEN.
  • 27a. [Transmogrification victim of fiction], SAMSA. Gregor Samsa becomes a cockroach in Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and “transmogrification” is such a cool word. Dictionary tells me the word joined the English language in the 17th century and is of unknown origin! Yes. There is no “mogrify.”
  • 41a. [How a Mexican mythical serpent is depicted], PLUMED. Quetzalcoatl! The original feathered serpent … unless I’ve missed others.
  • 51a. [Brita competitor], PUR. I like this one because I switched from a Brita pitcher to a Pur tank this year. Pur filters out more bad stuff, and the Amazon reviewers suggested that Pur pitchers are less prone to gross mold than our always-beset-by-black-grime Brita pitcher. (The answer still wasn’t a gimme for me. I needed the crossings because I forgot the brand name.)
  • 1d. [Watch word?] is a great clue for tick or TOCK.
  • 9d. NE**A*, [Workers' collection]? I was tempted by NET PAY, but it’s NECTAR. Bees or ants or whatnot.
  • 10d. [Quartet in the British royal family], FABERGE EGGS. I love pretty eggs. No cholesterol.
  • 12d. [Reason to shout in a convenience store], INSTANT WIN lottery ticket. Fresh entry.
  • 24d. [Whom Ricky Ricardo called his main competitor], XAVIER CUGAT. Full name, bonus X.
  • 29d. ['50s "Dinner on the dot" sloganeer], MINUTE RICE. Blecch.
  • 33d. [How some get their meds], IV DRIP. Raise your hand if you tried the less interesting ORALLY first.
  • 54d. [Parlor decorations], TATS. Tattoo parlor.

Lowlights:

  • 21d. [Accept eagerly], LEAP ON. Usually crosswords give us LEAP AT with a clue like this. LEAP ON seems more like a dog thing, or a little kid thing, full of physicality.
  • 44d. [They look like wolves], LEERERS. Who uses this form of the word? Hardly anyone, that’s who.

Overall, lots of fun stuff in this 72-worder. Four stars.

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18 Responses to Saturday, August 16, 2014

  1. ArtLvr says:

    I surprised myself by finishing the NYT! It had lots I didn’t know for sure, but 2D helped: it’s the “Song of the Volga Boatmen” (known in Russian as Эй, ухнем! [Ey, ukhnem!,
    "yo, heave-ho!"], after the refrain) is a well-known traditional Russian song … It will remind you of “Old Man River” from Showboat, as it starts with the laborer’s repetitive plaint “one more time” as in pull that barge, or lift that bale.

  2. Brucenm says:

    ArtLvr — YES! Here is a link. There is also the famous painting *Barges along the Volga* by the great Russian painter Ilya Repin. I used to take students to see it in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg during my years of spending summers in Russia, when I became somewhat interested and educated in 19th century Russian realism, through visits to the Tretyakovskaya Gallery in Moscow and the Hermitage in St. Pete. Along with Repin, I became particularly fond of Alexander Ivanov, Vassily Perov, and the great landscape painter Grigory Shishkin. And of course the superb writer Mikhail Lomonosov (Geroi nashevo Vremini — Hero of our times) also painted.

    2d and 1a — the great Belgian – Romany composer – guitarist were the only things which got me through the NW. I thank Peter for these unusual, out-of-the-ordinary allusions.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88gLWwq5G5M

    • Brucenm says:

      Of course that should be Mikhail Lermontov. Mikhail Lomonosov was an 18th century Russian chemist for whom Moscow State University is named eponymously.

  3. Gareth says:

    Easier than Thursday or Friday for me (7:53, so close to Amy!), despite a handful of odd (but in an interesting way) entries: GYPSYJAZZ is quite a 1A with 2 Y’s, 2 Z’s and a J! Didn’t know it, but it was easy enough to guess (like Amy, I put JAZZ in at the end and waited!): YOHEAVEHO is a great answer (Song of the Volga Boatmen, hi @Artlvr, @Bruce! My mother had a print of that painting, but I never knew who painted it…), and with PTARMIGAN, NOTYOUTOO and AHAMOMENTS all crammed into that corner, it’s certainly quite exceptional! DEGREEMILLS and DIDISTUTTER are also great, even if the latter usually includes some tmesis… Also had no idea about MSOLYMPIA (interesting letter arrangement!) and wanted DRakE before DRDRE! Didn’t believe the answer STARWIPE was real when it appeared and tried to come up with another first letter for WAIL!

  4. sbmanion says:

    NW was the last to fall for me with GYPSY JAZZ also my last entry.

    I had trouble with YO HEAVE HO. My buddies and I used to sing it when we cut grass for the city of Niagara Falls, but we put in an extra HO as in YO HO HEAVE HO. We cut the grass on some pretty steep “islands” on city property and two guys would rope the third and the mower who would then take the mower down the incline. I doubt that it would pass muster with OSHA today.

    Friday’s was pretty easy for me and this one was tough. I solved it from East to West.

    I have never heard DID I STUTTER nor DEGREE MILL. I also would say DIPLOMA MILL. I also do not see the connection between the horror clue and the answer META.

    An excellent tough puzzle, but not on my wavelength today.

    Steve

    • Brucenm says:

      Ditto on Meta.

    • Papa John says:

      I’m with you, Steve. If it’s a wavelength thing, count me in with those not on it; in many cases, even after the fill was complete.

    • David L says:

      Likewise — nice puzzle with a couple of mystifications. “Meta” is what Those Young People use to describe all kinds of things that are done in a knowing or vaguely ironic manner, but I’m having trouble imagining what an ironic horror movie would be like.

      “Did I stutter?” is a strange response to “Excuse me.” Perhaps it’s one of those meta things.

      • pannonica says:

        I think Cabin in the Woods would be considered a meta horror movie, as both the plot and the characters are explicitly familiar with the conventions of horror films, and the characters are aware of the tropes as they occur. Perhaps there are others with this sensibility.

        Incidentally, filled in 1a with no crossings, with only the slightest of pauses to recognize that HOT JAZZ was too short. PTARMIGAN was also a gimme, but not quite so for the Volga Boatmen snippet.

      • Andy says:

        Punctuation might make a difference here. “Did I stutter?” is a rude response to “Excuse me?”, not to “Excuse me.” For example:

        “I can’t take any more of this argument. I’m leaving.”
        “Excuse me?”
        “Did I *stutter*?”

  5. ArtLvr says:

    hi@sbmanion — the Yo in the Russian song is sung descending over two notes, just like the O of “O, say can you see” at the beginning of the Star Spangled Banner… Glad you didn’t come to harm while team-mowing those steep lawns!
    And if Brucenm wants to email me about the son of his friend he mentioned a while ago who’s in the Chicago theater world, it’s ArtLvr911 at aol.com… I’m just back from there, following vacation in Michigan where I was delighted to get together for brunch in Ann Arbor in July with Huda on the way north. Now I have much catching up to do, plus trying to adapt to a newer computer.

  6. Gareth says:

    Anyone else try HASHBROWN then HAMBURGER before HAPPYMEAL?

  7. Brucenm says:

    True. (Re descending two notes) — The interval is the same, a minor third. But in Ei Uxnyem (Volga Boatman) the interval is Mi – Do, with the minor third implying an A minor triad on the tonic. (Say C – A in the key of A Minor. Or actually the closely related aeolian mode). But the same two notes in the Star Spangled Banner (C to A) are Sol – Mi, continuing downward to the tonic note F, thereby implying a F *Major* triad. So even though the interval is the same, the effect is very different. [This was intended as a reply to Artlvr above.]

  8. golfballman says:

    Agree that the LAT was a little tougher than usual. Enjoyed most of it but WTF is 62 a? Pretty sure its made up to fill the spaces. have googled mwahaha and got zip.

  9. golfballman says:

    Sorry just rechecked and there it is mwahaha evil laugh.

  10. Linda says:

    Okay, I just went on a search of Google and Amazon and found what I remembered immediately about the Volga Boatmen song. It’s in one of the John Thompson easy piano books that I first learned from at about age 5, many moons ago (to mix the national metaphors). Any doubts about the quality of my memory were immediately erased!

  11. Bob says:

    LAT:?????-Not worth the effort! Full of “Silly Walks” that lead you to “know wear”.

  12. CY Hollander says:

    54d. [Parlor decorations], TATS. Tattoo parlor.

    This was surely the intention of the clue, but when I solved it, I had in mind things made of lace tatting, such as doilies, that might be used to decorate an old-fashioned parlor, which seemed to make some sense, though in point of fact it seems that “tat” referring to such lacework is only a verb.

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