Sunday, 10/24/10

LAT 9:22
NYT 9:13
Reagle 7:46
BG 14:13 (Sam)
CS 28:12 (Evad)/5:38 (Amy)
WaPo 3:30

Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword, “Risky Business”

Region capture 15This is sort of a Reaglesque pun theme—there are eight pun theme answers involving the “risky business” of gambling. “Oh, to be in England” becomes OTB IN ENGLAND. Holden Caulfield turns into a poker game, HOLD ‘EM CAULFIELD. Flambé crepes Suzette are CRAPS SUZETTE with flaming dice…which sounds like a bad, bad idea. “Lots of luck” turns into SLOTS OF LUCK. A keynote speaker, KENO SPEAKER—that’s kinda weird because, well, how many of know without looking at Wikipedia that keno has callers just like bingo does? And nobody would call the caller a “speaker.” Burt Reynolds + Burt Bacharach + gambling = BURT BACCARAT. “Don’t rule it out” turns into DON’T ROULETTE OUT, but is “roulette out” a phrase that means anything? I think STAKE PLATTER is playing on “steak platter,”  but I’m not sure.

I’d like this theme better if all the puns involved casino games, but OTB means off-track betting and a stake is a wager.


  • 114a. [Split personality?] is a CROATIAN. Split is a city in Croatia. My favorite clue in this puzzle.
  • Scads of 8-letter answers. We’ve got the SUNDANCE [Film festival name since 1990], SHINNY UP for [Climb, as a rope] (and I have no defense for having first entered SHIMMY UP, because do you know how hard it would be to shimmy while climbing a rope?), the PARTISAN ANACONDA from cable news, a BACK SEAT, and DAY TRADE.

Not crazy about the Names Popular Mainly in Crosswords and the Names Not Popular in Crosswords, Either categories:

  • In the former grouping are Diva Renata SCOTTO, actress SUE ANE Langdon (whose parents were decades ahead of the game in counterintuitive name spelling), chess legend Mikhail TAL, short story writer SAKI, and Charlie Chan actor Warner OLAND.
  • The latter group includes [Former Buffalo Bills great Don] BEEBE and NFL Hall of Fame coach Dick LEBEAU, who may be famous among football fans but among non-football fans, they are nobodies.

Nor was I pleased with plural NOONS, UNPOTS, SANAA, ABEAM, the snake’s SSS of warning, EDO, or RIANT. I felt the puzzle had less Quigleyesque zip than the typical BEQ puzzle, and I missed it. Luckily, Monday morning there’ll be another BEQ themeless at Brendan’s blog.
Rather tough puzzle compared with other Sunday puzzles, isn’t it?

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Plays I’d Like To See”

Region capture 16Here’s a good pun theme for the English majors and theater buffs among us:

  • 22a. [Play about a woman who gets her “just desserts”?] is HEDDA COBBLER (Hedda Gabler).
  • 28a. [Play whose title character won’t eat anything unless it’s fried?] clues ANNA CRISPY (Anna Christie).
  • 31a. SHE STOOPS TO CONGA might be a [Play about a woman who dances with short people?]. (She Stoops To Conquer.)
  • 44a. We change the preposition “for” into “on” for WAITING ON GODOT, a [Play about a diner patron whose food never arrives?]. It’s about time someone makes that Godot chap see what it feels like to kept waiting.
  • 55a. [Play about a guy and his sloppy little pal from Mars?] is PIG ALIEN (Pygmalion).
  • 66a. [Play about an actress trying to unload some real estate?] clues GLENGARRY GLENN CLOSE (Glengarry Glen Ross). Merl has anagrammed for Glenn Close in person, you know.
  • 78a. Golden Boy becomes OLDEN BOY, a [Play about an over-the-hill boxer?]. I didn’t know Odets’ Golden Boy was about a boxer.
  • 90a. [Play about some girls who were raised by orangutans?] clues THE TREE SISTERS (Chekhov’s The Three Sisters).
  • 100a. [Play in which a college kid’s football prayers are answered?] is THE HEISMAN COMETH (The Iceman Cometh). I like this one the most.
  • 108a, 114a. [Play about a couple with a cloth allergy?] is WHO’S AFRAID / OF VIRGIN WOOL, swapping Virginia Woolf for VIRGIN WOOL in a two-pronged pun.

Not all that much outside the theme caught my eye. I needed every crossing for 65d: [“The House of ___ Leaves”]. BLUE? It’s a John Guare play. Merl worked some more plays, playwrights, and theatrical miscellany into the mix. Quite a lot more, in fact:

  • 25a. REP. is short for repertory, or [Theater co.].
  • 50a. Actor ALAN [Bates or Cumming]—both have done stage work.
  • 72a. [“The ___ Page”] clues FRONT. The play was first performed in 1928.
  • 2d. [“The Skin of Our ___”] TEETH is a Thornton Wilder play.
  • 14d. Never heard of [“Three Men on a ___”] HORSE, also a play.
  • 20d. R.U.R. is an old [Play with robots].
  • 48d. [Parts, as a curtain] clues OPENS. Stage curtains?
  • 51d. KING [“___ Lear”].
  • 58d. Albee’s play is [“The ___ Story”]/ZOO.
  • 63d. ALL [“___ My Sons”] is another mystery to me. Clue’s in quotation marks? Must be another play title. Yep, Arthur Miller.
  • 66d. [“The ___ White Hope”] clues GREAT. Wait, is this a play, too? Sure enough.
  • 96d. ACT I is the [Start of the play].
  • 118d. [“Oh! What A Lovely ___”] WAR was a stage musical before being made into a movie.

Karen Tracey’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 29”

Region capture 17We don’t often see stacked 15s from Karen, do we? It feels unexpected. Also unexpected: the rate at which I marched through this puzzle, as if it were a mere Wednesday crossword. I think this is the easiest (for me, anyway) Post Puzzler to date.

So, what all is in this puzzle? Among other things, these clues and answers:

  • 15a. [Clearasil ingredient] is BENZOYL PEROXIDE. Hello, Traceyesque Z and X! We’ve been expecting you.
  • 17a. ANTIDEPRESSANTS make up [Some psychotropics]. You know where you don’t want to go on vacation this winter? The psycho tropics.
  • 36a. [The Six Million Dollar Man’s org.] is, uh, O.S.I. I don’t know what it stands for, and I don’t know if it was mentioned on The Bionic Woman, which I  much preferred.
  • 37a. [Show hosted by Click and Clack], the so-called Tappet Brothers, is NPR’s CAR TALK.
  • 46a. I like the spelling of URUSHIOL, the [Irritant in poison ivy]. It doesn’t give me a rash at all.
  • 56a. Can we all agree we don’t much like to pluralize cheese breeds? [Dutch treats] clues EDAMS because Edam is a cheese from the Netherlands.
  • 62a. The ATTORNEY GENERAL is the Department of [Justice head]. Currently Eric Holder.
  • 4d. I have no idea why I got [Golfer Paul] AZINGER with fewer than five crossings.
  • 7d. [San Bernardino Pass locale] is the ALPS. Hmm, this is not the San Bernardino of Southern California, is it?
  • 8d. WEENA, the [Heroine of “The Time Machine”], is also in Merl’s puzzle today. That’s too much WEENA. Actually, one WEENA is too much WEENA.
  • 12d. SINON is the [Greek who persuaded the Trojans to take in the Trojan Horse], apparently. I didn’t know this was a name, much less an important one.
  • 16d. I needed plenty of crossings to figure out that the [Show with the catchphrase “One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out”] is PROJECT RUNWAY.
  • 27d. A ZARF is a metal [Ornamental cup holder]. I like to call the coffee-shop cardboard sleeves “cardboard zarfs.”
  • 31d. Great clue! [It’s cut and dried] refers to your HAIR, unless you are bald.
  • 33d. [Patience, stateside] is the game of SOLITAIRE. I had no idea it was called patience elsewhere.
  • 41d. [Au contraire] clues my favorite entry, MAIS NON.
  • 43d. [Newfoundland, at times] refers to the big dog and not the Canadian province/island. By shedding hair, the Newfie is a SHEDDER. Meh entry.
  • 51d. One of several possibilities for the [German indefinite article] is EINES.
  • 61d. The oddly spelled EEW is clued as a [Repugnant exclamation].

Besides SHEDDER, EINES, WEENA, SINON, and EEW, there are other entries that don’t sparkle as much as standard Karen Tracey fill. SONE, AGAR, EEN, SLOE, ABAB, OSSO, AROO, AVGS, ST. LO, and LOUS were all pretty lackluster, too.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe Crossword, “Fractured Latin”—Sam Donaldson’s review

BG 10242010Oh, this was a fun one.  The puzzle features punnish-ing takes on eight relatively familiar Latin phrases:

  • [One shunned at a boat race?] is a PERSONA NON REGATTA.  This theme entry comes from persona non grata, meaning “an unwelcome person.”  Having been persona non grata at any number of events, this one came easily to me.  A nice way to start.
  • A [Jamaican’s blank slate?] is a TABULA RASTA.  Our base phrase here, of course, is tabula rasa, or “blank slate.”  The phrase is generally used to explain the philosophy that all of us come into the world without preconceptions or biases, that our knowledge and opinions are formed by our experiences.  That’s a lovely thought, but according to my mother I came into the world with a very definite bias toward feeding.
  • An [Exchange for a smart bird?] would be a QUID PRO CROW, playing off quid pro quo, meaning “what for what,” or an arms-length exchange.  I liked this theme entry best, as the image of haggling crows is just plain funny.
  • The [One-of-a-kind Chinese food?] is SUEY GENERIS, a take on sui generis (“of its own kind”) using chop suey.
  • Morris_the_CatThe [Condition of a dead cat?] is RIGOR MORRIS, an evocative mix of rigor mortis (“death stiffness”) and Morris the Cat from the old commercials for 9Lives catfood.  Check out Morris there to the right.  Indeed, he looks a little stiff.  I’m guessing solvers yet to reach age 30 won’t be familiar with Morris.  And I’m guessing solvers with cats in their families might find this theme entry a little graphic.  But I liked it.
  • [Getting high on painkillers?] clues AD ASTRA PER ASPIRIN.  It’s based on ad astra per aspera (“to the stars through hardships”), which regular crossword solvers likely know as the official motto of Kansas.
  • [Protection for a dolphin?] is HABEAS PORPOISE, a giddy twist on habeas corpus (“you may have the body—here, take it, it’s starting to smell really bad”).  In law it refers to the written order to release someone from unlawful imprisonment, hence the “protection” element in the clue.
  • Finally, the [Divine solution for a downpour?] is DEUS EX MACKINAW, a variation of deus ex machina (“God out of the machine”).  This one took me a while to suss out because I can’t recall having heard the base phrase.  Help me, Wikipedia: “A deus ex machina is a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new character, ability, or object.”  Go figure, there’s a Latin phrase to explain the ending of most episodes of Family Guy. Fortunately, as a resident of Washington State, I am familiar enough with the mackinaw (both the rain-repellent cloth and the trout).

Was I just in the mood to be amused easily, or did this puzzle have a higher concentration of fun clues?  [Sweet age for a Roman?] is a sassy way to clue the otherwise lackluster XVI, and [What he and she do] made me think for a while before tumbling to the answer, RHYME.  I liked [Making a comeback] for REPLYING, [The hole ideal] for PAR, [Cussword surrogate] for BLEEP, and [TV eye-poker of note] for MOE of the Three Stooges (and not Moe from The Simpsons—I think).

My favorite clue was the one that tricked me at least a half dozen times.  I was sure [Sottish syllable] really read “[Scottish syllable],” so I was thinking along the lines of NAE and MAC.  When the crossings finally gave me HIC, I couldn’t see anything Scottish about it.  Eventually, of course, I realized there was no “c” in that clue—and then I loved it.

While the clues were really great, the fill was…good.  I liked LONG SUIT, AKIMBO, RAN OUT ON, and BARGES IN, but little else stood out (and both DIREST and REDOSE induced grimaces).  Another painful section lurked down south, which brings us to this week’s episode of Brushes with Lame, the weekly review of the stuff that was foreign to me.

  • I eventually remembered EIDOLA, the [Ideals or phantoms], from a prior blog post.  But I confess to spending some time thinking, “Oh yeah, I blogged about this one not too long ago.  What was it again?”  It didn’t help that in this grid it sits directly atop the completely unknown DAVITS, the [Cranelike lifters].  My dictionary says they’re the cranes on the side of a ship used to raise or lower lifeboats and anchors, et alia.
  • CAPOS don’t just lead crime syndicates, they also serve as [Guitar-neck tools] serving to raise or lower the pitch of the strings uniformly.  Busy guys, those capos.  The next time I want to insult someone, I’m going to call him or her a “guitar-neck tool.”
  • BUMPPO is the [Natty in novels].  I think I have heard this name, as it has some familiarity, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t read this name, as the double-p really looked wrong.  The only Natty I really know, sadly, is Natty Lite.
  • Of all of the JORGEs in the world (Jorge Garcia of Lost, fad diet guru Jorge Cruise, Jorge of the Gungle), Argentinian [Author ___ Luis Borges] was not on my radar.
  • RAMAPO is the [Town in Rockland County, NY].  When one’s first thought after reading the clue is, “There’s a Rockland County in New York?,”  it is not a promising start.  I see the population is a little over 100,000, which makes it fair game I suppose, and the crossings were easy enough.  But I think it’s safe to say the best thing this entry has going for it is alternating consonants and vowels.

Until next week, pax pacis sicco, Parum Monasteriense.

Updated Sunday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

Aarrgghh! The Wrath of Klahn strikes again! This was one tough puzzle. Very few toeholds to gain traction, and incredibly devious cluing kept me at loggerheads with this aptly named “Sunday Challenge” until the very last square. It’s funny now that I look back at it, I wonder why I had so much trouble. Let’s start with what came quickly:

  • I’m reading War and Peace now (and have been for over a year, the new translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky is wonderful, but the density allows me to read only a few pages at a time and it’s very hard to carry around. I need to get me a Kindle!), so Tolstoy is very much on the mind. Aleksei Vronsky‘s love is ANNA KARENINA from the novel of the same name.
  • DVDwrathofkhan

  • The corresponding 12-letter entry in the SE, We Are the World cowriter (along with Michael Jackson) is LIONEL RICHIE. I didn’t recall this right off (the song is 25 years old!), but got the name pretty quickly with just a few crossing entries.
  • Loved the clue “Hardly anyone’s good at it anymore” for LOST ART, as well as the entry OSCAR NOD (“February nomination”).

Almost everything else was a struggle:

  • Let’s start at 1-Across: “Do more than check” leads one to OGLE, LEER, etc., but we’re actually talking chess here and the answer is MATE.
  • I think of ANITA Gillette from her gameshow appearances (What’s My Line? and Match Game, among others) not from her role in Moonstruck, where I can just come up with Cher and Olympia Dukakis off the top of my head.
  • CATAWAMPUS is just not in my lexicon; I’ll take Bob’s word on it that it means “Diagonally, down South.” Wonder if I’ll LARN this so I don’t forget it if it comes up again? Probably not.
  • Speaking of loggerheads, who has heard of the phrase TURNS TURTLE for “Flips”?
  • Enigma was the name of a family of machines (I had thought it was just one) used in WORLD WAR II to encrypt and decrypt messages. Those two I’s at the end made me question the crossing SNAIL-LIKE and ARMORIES for a long time.
  • More names: MEL ALLEN rings a faint bell, but more from his Yankees association; he was also the voice of the Movietone newsreels in the ’60s. We also have the biblical money-withholder (with dire consequences!) ANANIAS, “Goddess of childbirth” DIANA (where was The Supremes reference when I needed you?), playwright Edward ALBEE, Napoleon’s commander Michel NEY, STEARNS of the now defunct Bear Stearns, Impressionist Claude MONET, protest singer Phil OCHS, The Saint (Simon Templar) author Leslie CHARTERIS (I was thinking Geoffrey Chaucer!) and philosopher SIMONE Weil. No wonder I had trouble with all these names.
  • My final entry was parsing TIP ONE’S HAND for “Flush at the final table, e.g.” For some reason I was thinking of the Dead Man’s Hand, but I see here, that’s Aces over Eights, not a flush. It didn’t help I had sub RASA (that’s tabula, not sub!) and LERN first.

John Lampkin’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Country Kitchen”

Region capture 18The theme took a while to understand—and I’m glad the explanatory answers were in the center of the grid rather than the bottom because it meant I was confused for only half the time. Each theme entry is a food with two United Nations country CODES (the 3-letter chunks in the circled squares), and today is 65a: U.N. DAY ([Oct. 24, every year]). Each foodstuff is clued straightforwardly, but they’re not all so familiar. Here’s the international menu:

  • 23a. [Lunch box item] is a BOLOGNA SANDWICH. BOL = Bolivia, AND = Andorra.
  • 41a. PAN-FRIED TROUT is a [Sautéed fish entrée]. PAN = Panama, ROU = Romania.
  • 48a. [Cup-shaped breakfast fare] is a weird clue for a BRAN MUFFIN. BRA = Brazil, FIN = Finland.
  • 77a. PESTO SAUCE is a delicious [Basil-based topper]. EST = Estonia, SAU = …looking this up…ah, yes, Saudi Arabia.
  • 85a. [Honey-coated dish] clues GLAZED CHICKEN. Is that a thing, glazed chicken? AZE = Azerbaijan, KEN = Kenya. CHI isn’t a code, as CHL and CHN stand in for Chile and China.
  • 103a. [Tangy confection] clues PEPPERMINT CANDY. PER = …hmm…not Persia but Peru, and CAN = Canada.
  • 16d. [It’s milder than yellowfin] clues ALBACORE TUNA. ALB = Albania, TUN = Tunisia.
  • 58d. [Some links] are SWEET SAUSAGE, which I think I’ve never heard of. SWE = Sweden, USA = United States. I was confused by the A from AZE getting tacked on to the beginning of USA, as it looks like AUSA is circled here.

More clues from beyond the theme:

  • 1a. A BAGEL is one [Breakfast-on-the-run choice]. DONUT also has 5 letters.
  • 19a. [Building on a 1936 centennial stamp] is the ALAMO. Not a factoid I knew.
  • 20a. The noun [Speed] means PACE. The verb “speed” means “race.”
  • 21a, 22a. [Plane starter?] and [Plane starter] are the prefix AERO and a PILOT.
  • 34a. [They may be behind pictures] clues hidden wall SAFES.
  • 46a. LYES are [False-sounding soap components] because “lies” is a homophone. Not big on the pluralization LYES, though.
  • 52a. Old crosswordese alert! [Glassmaker’s oven] is a LEHR.
  • 61a, 62d. [Bolt down] clues both SECURE and EAT. Nice double-meaning action.
  • 63a. [Herder’s equine] is a COW PONY? Okay, I’ll take your word for it.
  • 72a. [Crabber and cutter] are both BOATS.
  • 90a. G-SUIT is clued as [Rocketeer gear]. Do rocketeers exist?
  • 112a, 113a. How strong are your feelings toward puppies? Dislike, neutral, like, love? [Puppylike] clues CUTE and [“Puppy Love” singer] clues Paul ANKA. Nice one-two combo.
  • 1d. [Labor day output?] is a BABY.
  • 4d. [Compensation for labor] of an entirely different sort is an EMOLUMENT. This word is usually seen in the plural.
  • 9d. [Pin in the back] is a noun, not a verb, and the TEN pin is in the back of the setup of bowling pins.
  • 33d. A RIGMAROLE is a [Tediously detailed process]. Great word!
  • 68d. I wanted [Hacks] to be the noun meaning cabbies and not the verb COUGHS.
  • 78d. [Having a pressing need?] is a clever clue for a truly boring word, UNIRONED.
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19 Responses to Sunday, 10/24/10

  1. George R. says:

    Came across your site while trying to find any meaning to “roulette out”. I’ve never heard it used, though it’s obviously what the puzzlers were looking for. As my sons would say–lame.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    Loved BEQ’s funny puns on risky business and all, hard to pick a favorite! Crumhorn (REED) was barely familiar, I but think it’s an instrument of yore rather than a plant…

  3. Matt says:

    I found this one rather tough, in the ‘obscure’ style, rather than the ‘vague’ style. Slow progress, but worked it all out in bits and pieces. Various fiddly stuff in the fill gave me aches and pains rather than excitement– SUEANE wasn’t very nice– Crumhorn, OROZCO, ADENI, NENA, PERGOLA crossing ARI… All doable, but not as much fun as my fave BEQs.

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Idle questions:

    Does anyone know anything about R.M. (Bob) Peoples? He’s one of my favorite constructors, but very much a Mystery Man to me.

    Is “Alice Long” a pseudonym?


  5. ArtLvr says:

    Super-duper Sunday for punny puzzles! I think Merl’s takes the prize, because of all the drama links plus clever word play… PIG ALIEN is a standout, together with all the longer ones! But all the twists to the Latin tags in the BG runs a close second, fabulous too, especially SUEY GENERIS and RIGOR MORRIS — I had a cat who looked like Morris and he had quite an aloof personality, rather stiff with strangers, so RIGOR wasn’t far off.

  6. Duke says:

    one who’s all there is an ATTENDER? No, no, no. Theme answers were pretty much a stretch. Liked OTB best.

  7. pannonica says:

    Factillae derived from the Boston Globe:

    eidola is the root for pareidolia, the phenomenon for (our sometimes unwanted penchant for) perceiving significant images—visages, commonly—in random patterns.
    I’ve Got a Capo on My Brain from dear old eclectic Dan Hicks.
    • Peruvian Jorge Luis Borges is among the giants of 20th Century literature, and not just the South American variety. He was a vital influence on other famous “local” novelists Gabriel García Márquez (1982 Nobel laureate), Mario Vargas Llosa (2010 Nobel laureate) and Carlos Fuentes. Is there an analogue for “compatriot” meaning someone from the same continent?
    • (Natty Dread? Bonus: There’s a good and interesting track-for-track cover of this album by jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter and his confrères)

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Bruce, I outed Mike Shenk as Alice Long (an anagram of his college paper, the Collegian) in Friday’s post on the WSJ puzzle. Shenk’s various pseudonyms, and those of Rich Norris and Stan Newman, are compiled on Barry Haldiman’s site here. I turn to that page regularly.

  9. Meem says:

    NYT took longer than it should have. Looking at completed puzzle, not sure why. Learned that Split is a city in Croatia. Don’t roulette out was my favorite. Laughed aloud as I raced through Merl’s plays. Also liked Karen Tracy’s puzzle. Struggled with Bob Klahn’s offering. I think of Diana as goddess of the hunt so had trouble finding nod to go with Oscar. And needed many crosses to get Mel Allen. All in all a good Sunday morning.

  10. john farmer says:

    “Don’t rule it out” turns into DON’T ROULETTE OUT, but is “roulette out” a phrase that means anything?

    Someone had a similar question at Wordplay. I don’t think it means anything in gambling parlance, but my question is, Does “roulette out” need to be a real phrase? The pun substitution is “roulette” for “rule it.” Which seems to be consistent with the other theme puns. (The other puns substitute a gambling word at the beginning or end of a phrase and this one does it in the middle, so there’s a minor inconsistency. Deduct a point, if you want, but I don’t think that’s a DQ.) [Ed.: There are actually 6 subs at the beginning, 1 in the middle, 1 at the end.]

    Puns work best when the original word and soundalike word are close. You should also have a good sense of the base phrase and where the pun is going. But I’m not aware of what other rules apply. (Maybe: whatever works.) In the first theme answer, does the OTB IN ENGLAND pun depend on whether there is really OTB in England? (I presume not, since they call it “off-course betting” over there.) For the same reason I don’t think the DONT ROULETTE OUT pun depends on whether “roulette out” is a real phrase. [Ed.: What matters is that “Don’t rule it out” is a recognizable phrase.”] These are puns. They play off similar-sounding words for an effect.

    Maybe I’ve missed the point. But this one seemed to work okay for me.

  11. Amy Reynaldo says:

    John, what, in the pun’s sense, does “rouletting out” mean? The clue is [“Please consider playing the wheel again”], but while that ties in to “don’t rule it out,” the surface sense of “don’t roulette out” is absent. If you’re supposed to play roulette some more, how come “don’t roulette out” sounds more like “don’t play too much roulette”? I don’t think the theme answer captures the sense of “don’t rule out roulette” at all. The opposite, if anything.

    Does that make sense?

  12. GaryMac says:

    I would think that “Don’t roulette out” could mean please don’t leave the table, try again. I usually like BEQ’s stuff, but I found this one awfully tedious – too many pretty obscure names – Sue Ane, Saki, Beebe, etc.

  13. Meem says:

    I agree with John F. Don’t rule it out is a recognizable phrase. I took the “wheel” in the clue as a very straightforward pointer to “roulette” which gave me the answer in an instant. Amy, I guess you expect more from a pun than I do. This puzzle was off the BEQ beaten path, but it gave me a workout using crosses to good effect for less well known answers.

  14. john farmer says:

    Clearer now, Amy. I see your point. The clue works better for the base phrase than for the pun answer.

    It’s a tricky phrase to clue right. Maybe a different clue would work better, something in the sense of “cut your losses at the game wheel,” though I’d have to think more about that.

    Thx for the explanation.

  15. john farmer says:

    Another note, after reading Meem’s comment.

    I think puns work in different ways. Sometimes a simple soundalike substitute is acceptable. If someone at a casino said “Don’t roulette out” for “Don’t rule it out,” I bet people would get it.

    In a crossword, though, as Amy said, the clue here should refer to the pun answer (not the base phrase), and that doesn’t work so well.

    Now that I’ve reconsidered. OK, enough from me.

  16. John Haber says:

    I pretty much always feel like I’ve visited from another planet when I see BEQ’s puzzles, but this was much worse for me than I expected. It felt like one lame pun and one obscure proper name after another. I got caught up on MCBEAL/DALY, NENA, ANN, MORRIE/BEEBE, and SUE ANE/LEBEAU, and I won’t count EDA since it’s crosswordese. I haven’t looked up any of them to see, say, who Mitch Albom is. Didn’t recognize 8-point X or figure out without coming here why CROATIAN works.

    I too had SHIMMY first, as well as “tsk” for TUT, “navel” for INNIE, and “dawn” for NOON, and mine still feels better on the last. Finished it, but hated every minute.

  17. Howard B says:

    Yeah, MCBEAL’s been pretty overused but was still valid pop-culture fodder for a while.
    – NENA is an 80s one-hit wonder band that’s good to know for puzzles, and their hit song is still covered from time to time (I heard another cover last week on a rock/alternative station).
    – MORRIE / Mitch Albom references a *very* popular best-selling book (“Tuesdays with Morrie”), so as the name is also in the title, and the author has since published more best-sellers, that is more than fair game, I’d say; not obscurity at all, at least not for some years. I haven’t read his work, so I leave that part as an exercise for the reader (as some professors like to say) ;).
    – Some of the other names hung me up too; I agree that whether I knew the NFL names or not, those were pretty rough going.
    – Also, “Split” referencing the Croatian city is a nasty trick that’s used from time to time by constructors in tough puzzles. Learn it, then keep that factoid in your pocket for later use. It’s in the same clue family as “Nice” for the French city. If it’s the first word in the clue, a red flag should go up that it may be hiding a capital letter.

    Good luck and good solving!

  18. Amy Reynaldo says:

    It was rather noisy when my son’s classmate was saying something to me this morning, but I swear to god she mentioned Ally McBeal. A fifth grader! Makes zero sense.

    John H., the names in Brendan’s NYT puzzle are not remotely of a piece with the sort of BEQesque fill that routinely befuddles the non-indie-rock fans among us. The pap called Tuesdays With Morrie and whoever-she-is/was SUE ANE Langdon are pretty much the opposite of what I’d expect to pop up in one of Brendan’s puzzles!

    As someone who was a teen in the ’80s, I’m a total sucker for fill like NENA, but grant you that outside my age cohort, that name is likely to be unfamiliar.

  19. NinaUWS says:

    I am coming late to this, but I have a bone to pick with TOEPICK (part of an ice skater’s shoe). The toepick is part of the blade! I resisted putting in the answer for all too long and wasted solving time.

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