Tuesday, 5/31/11

Jonesin' 4:11 


NYT 3:21 


LAT 4:45 (Neville) 


CS untimed (Sam) 


Nina Rulon-Miller’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword answers 5 31 11

Not your garden-variety easy Tuesday theme, as three of the theme answers aren’t “lexical chunk”-style entries and I honestly didn’t see 65a coming. The theme is tied together by TWENTY-ONE, a number “associated with” these answers”

  • 17a. The game of BLACKJACK. You gotta get close to 21 without going over to win.
  • 25a. SPOTS ON A DIE. Add 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 and you get 3×7, or 21.
  • 41a. I can picture the guy who played Jack Barry in Quiz Show, but FIFTIES GAME SHOW didn’t come to me right away. The GAME SHOW part, sure. But not FIFTIES.
  • 51a. Random NEW YORK CLUB, a.k.a. bar, where you have to be 21 to drink.

I was slightly thrown to encounter NYSE so soon after filling in NEW YORK in 51a. And I was distracted enough from the get-go that when I read the 7d clue, [After-dark time in Germany], I started to fill in NOCHE. Gah! NACHT! I took German for five years.

Lotsa crosswordese-type stuff today, no? Things most of us don’t encounter outside of puzzles: ASTA, OTTO I, ERNE, ANODE, EERO, ODIST, NACRE, and EPEES. All in one Tuesday crossword?

On the plus side, there’s THAT’S LIFE, IDIOT BOX, and JAPANESE.

3.8 stars.

Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review

LA Times crossword answers 5 31 11

I’ll be honest – long Memorial Day weekend and I’m tired, so this one will be nice and quick. Each of the theme answers begins with the last name of a famous Tom – they’re calling it TOMFOOLERY, though I don’t see the “fool” in this.

  • 17a. [Port of call] – CRUISE STOP – Tom Cruise is the actor known for Top Gun, Risky Business, Jerry Maguire and jumping on Oprah’s couch. Still.
  • 24a. [Readily interchangeable, fashionwise] – MIX AND MATCH – Tom Mix was an early Western actor that I’m not familiar with. Seems like he’s the pre-John Wayne John Wayne.
  • 34a. [Office fund for minor expenses] – PETTY CASH – Rock singer with the Heartbreakers.
  • 49a. [Head locks] – HANKS OF HAIR – Tom Hanks suffers from gigantism in the film Big. Okay, that’s not quite right. But he was in Bosom Buddies! What are hanks of hair? Coils? I’ve never heard this phrase.

Lots of well played Xs: ST. CROIX, MAX ERNST, TELEX and XEROX. We’ve got other fun long entries, too – SAID YES, HIJACKS and MEANT IT. TIN WORK might be a winner, but the Sn in the clue said to me, “This is a reach.”

Oh, and if you’re bad at parsing like I am sometimes, it’s not ALUNSER but AL UNSER. He raced for Penske (among others), which sorta rhymes with Venzke. Clever, Bruce.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ernie’s Buddy” – Sam Donaldson’s review

My favorite Sesame Street characters were Bert and Ernie.  I still remember their “banana in your ear” routine with great fondness.  The title of today’s puzzle suggests we’re in for a tribute to everyone’s favorite unibrow-ed, floppy-armed muppet, but in fact it’s a tribute to several men with the given name Bert.  All of the clues to the four theme entries start with “Bert:”

  • 20-Across: The [Bert Lahr film role] is the COWARDLY LION from The Wizard of Oz. That’s a pretty famous Bert.
  • 32-Across: [Bert Kalmar’s songwriting partner] is HARRY RUBY.  Objection!  I can’t believe Bert Kalmar is a household name.  Quick, name a Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby song.  Don’t worry, I couldn’t either.  I found out they wrote the songs in the Marx Brothers movies, Animal Crackers and Duck Soup. This clip starts with one of their songs from Duck Soup.  Click for the music, but stay for the gags.
  • 44-Across: Former major league pitcher [Bert Blyleven’s specialty] is a CURVEBALL.
  • 55-Across: [Bert, in “Mary Poppins”], is a CHIMNEY SWEEP. Or is that chim-chimney-chim-chimney-chim-chim-cher-ee sweep?

"Who's got floppy arms now, kid?"

I expected to see legendary sportswriter Bert Sugar and former Miss America host Bert Parks in the grid.  I’ll concede these four may be better known than Bert Sugar, but how can Bert Parks not be in this puzzle?

Highlights in the fill included BREW PUB, the [Place to catch a draft?], [“Glee” villainess] SUE Sylvester, and the intersecting entries forming the [Robert Redford film], OUT OF / AFRICA.  I had ON IN as the completion to [Barge ___ (interrupt)] but the correct answer was IN ON.  I suppose either can work.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Now in 3-D!”

Congratulations to Matt Jones on celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Jonesin’ crossword!

This week’s theme takes movie titles with 2-D shapes in them and converts them to 3-D:

Jonesin' crossword solution, "Now in 3-D"

  • 20a. [1997 Jennifer Jason Leigh adaptation of a Henry James novel–refilmed in 3-D?] turns the literary Washington Square into WASHINGTON CUBE.
  • 38a. [1995 Chris O’Donnell/Minnie Driver romance–refilmed in 3-D?] is SPHERE OF FRIENDS (formerly Circle).
  • 55a. [With “The,” 1978 horror mystery with John Huston–refilmed in 3-D?] clues BERMUDA PYRAMID. Don’t know this Bermuda Triangle movie, but I bet my son would love it.

Solid, entertaining theme that doesn’t try to do too much. Three theme entries is plenty. The advantage of not having five or six theme answers is that there’s room for a lower overall word count (74) and lots of juicy fill. Consider MAD HATTER, RICE MILK, SHOOTS DOWN, GO TO BAT FOR, and CONCERTI—those answers alone account for more squares than the theme, and they elevate the solving experience from one of recognizing clues for familiar short words (your EPEE and ARIA, for example) to piecing together longer answers that you may never have run into in a crossword, but certainly have run into in your daily life.


  • 12d. [Cause to cease to exist, in olden times] clues UNBE. Is this a word you’ve ever encountered?
  • 2d. [Dominated in, as with a sport] clues the awkwardly phrased WON AT.
  • 3d. [Gray Panthers’ cause célèbre] clues the variant spelling AGISM. Prefer AGEISM.
  • 46d. U NU, the Burmese [Palindromic prime minister of the 1950s], is old-school crosswordese.
  • 58d. [Aston Martin high-performance model] is the DBS. Never heard of it.

Four stars.

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29 Responses to Tuesday, 5/31/11

  1. Martin says:

    “51a. Random NEW YORK CLUB, a.k.a. bar, where you have to be 21 to drink.”

    Isn’t that the famous Club 21?


  2. Bill from NJ says:

    I think 21 was the name of a classic NEWYORKCLUB up until the fifties.

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I don’t think I’ve heard of a Club 21. Studio 54, sure.

  4. pannonica says:

    The ‘21’ Club is still there, with all the jockeys. As joon might say, very famous. The Stork Club, however, is long since gone.

  5. Erik says:

    I got the ‘ESE’ in 9 down and all I could think of was OBESE.

  6. Jeffrey says:

    I believe the original version in Hamlet is: Be or unbe.

  7. Bill from NJ says:

    Like The Stork Club,Toots Shor’s, and The Cotton Club, Club 21 was a fixture of New York night life during the Depression and the 40s. I may be wrong, but I think that was what the constructor was going for with the clue NEWYORKCLUB. We have a picture of my Mom and Dad taken there at the end of WWII that is beloved in our family. Which, I guess, is why I may be harping on this.

  8. joon says:

    i can accept that the 21 club is a thing, even if it’s a thing i have no knowledge of. but NEW YORK CLUB is not a thing. at best, it’s a clue. same for SPOTS ON A DIE and FIFTIES GAME SHOW. i remember not really digging michael barnhart’s similarly 21-themed puzzle a few months ago, but i am pretty sure i liked this one even less. SPOTS ON A DIE is particularly unliked by me, both because it’s the most awkwardly worded and because it’s only very weakly associated with the theme 21. there happen to be 21 pips, but nobody would ever interpret “number of pips on a die” as a possible definition of “twenty-one”. meanwhile 21 is another name for the game BLACKJACK, there was an actual game show in the 50s called “twenty-one” (i take it), and the name of a famous (i take it) club in new york is the 21 club. so those three form a reasonable theme, even if one of the referents is not that widely known outside of NYC.

    can you tell i didn’t care for this theme?

    i may be in a foul mood just because i’m back at work after a lovely long weekend, but the other puzzles today did not thrill me either. i’m positive i’ve seen every one of these themes done in the last couple of years. at least the jonesin’ did something new with its theme by taking movie titles and putting them “in 3D”. and it had nice long fill, as amy pointed out.

  9. Karen says:

    I was fine with the twenty one puzzle. It’s not a definition, it’s an association.

    On the other hand, UNBE is my candidate for the worst word of the month, possibly of the year.

    And I just realized I have to wait another 24 hours to read the Gaffney writeup.

  10. Gareth says:

    Hmm this NYT was kinda weird. Not sure what the link between FIFTIESGAMESHOW and 21 is. If there is a game show called 21 and a NYC nightclub called 21 then 65A could’ve read something on the lines of: “Clue for 17-, 25-, 41-, and 51A”? And if not why bring NY into things? Confused. [MAS: thanks for clearing that one up: so now I just need to know why the clue for the key answer that unlocks the other answers is clued so vaguely…] Alt. clue for 17A: “Winner at a casino”.

    LAT: I also don’t get the FOOLERY part, but was a nice theme in any case! HANK(S)OFHAIR conjures up the saccharine Jimmy Rodgers (sp?) song Honeycomb “a hank of hair / and a piece of bone / made a walking, talking honeycomb” – I have no idea what the songwriter was getting at!

  11. HH says:

    “… but nobody would ever interpret “number of pips on a die” as a possible definition of “twenty-one”.”

    And that’s why the puzzle heading says CLUES and not DEFINITIONS.

  12. joon says:

    but henry, it wasn’t a clue. it was a theme answer, and very much the odd one out. you have three theme answers that are actually things named “twenty-one” (or “21”), and another that is just some things that there happen to be 21 of.

    i actually don’t even agree with the reveal clue, {Number associated with …}, because nobody associates 21 with SPOTS ON A DIE even though there are, in fact, 21 total spots on a die. they associate the numbers 1 through 6 with SPOTS ON A DIE. in what context is it ever relevant how many total spots there are?

  13. sandirhodes says:

    Another nitpick! To win at blackjack, you don’t HAVE to come close to 21 to win. 5 wins just fine when the dealer breaks.

    Not that *I* would stay on 5 :)

  14. Ladel says:

    I dunno, thought we had this all worked out yesterday, no serious carping about Mon and Tues puzzles due to the it’s just a romp rule.

  15. Howard B says:

    That ‘New York Club’ clue was the one that toasted me. That one was miles out of my ken. Probably close to 21 miles, but I can’t really measure that.

    Re: spots on a die? I think I’m with Joon on that one. Maybe guns in a salute or something else associates better. Although it is fairly true that most dice (but certainly not all) do add up to 21, it’s not such a direct mental connection. If you’re going to go that route, just clue (TOTAL OF/SUM FROM) ONE TO SIX and call it an icky 15-letter answer :).

  16. Thomas says:

    Minor nit… am I the only one a little bothered by “PFC” for “Marine Corps Enlistee”? Don’t you start out as a private (PVT), not a private first class?

  17. bob stigger says:

    An enlisted man is any non-officer and I don’t read “Enlistee” as requiring the lowest-ranking enlisted man.

  18. Wes says:

    GENII is inexcusable.

  19. Ladel says:

    @bob stigger

    right you are, funny it also works when your service is over, private f@king civilian.

  20. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Wes, my dictionary gives genies and genii as accepted plurals of genie.

  21. edithb says:


    Yes, there was a FIFTIESGAMESHOW named ‘Twenty-one” that was rigged and, yes, there is a NEWYORKCLUB named 21 and 21 is an alternate name for BLACKJACK

  22. Meem says:

    While I understand the frustration of my younger “Fiend” friends, today’s NYT was practically pitch perfect for the “blue rinse” set. Went early on for the reveal and the rest was Ladel’s romp rule. As a young Midwesterner, was taken for dinner to the 21 Club. Still have the souvenir shot glass somewhere. The one decorated with jockeys. Television game scandals preceded Twitter, and Jack Barry certainly hosted one. By that point, spots on a die and blackjack were merely questions of finding a few crosses. No complaints here, and a thumbs up to Nina.

  23. Lois says:

    Meem is funny, and right in my case, although I don’t actually use blue rinse. Liked the NYT a lot! Didn’t realize it might be partly an age thing.

  24. pannonica says:

    Here’s a way-too-obsessive list of the ‘21’ Club in popular culture (Wikipedia).

  25. arthur118 says:

    Re: “enlistee”. It never hurts to consult a dictionary and M-W’s Collegiate 11th Ed. says an enlistee is one who has enrolled himself in the armed forces.

    An enlisted man is separately defined as a man or woman in the armed forces ranking below a commissioned officer or warrant officer.

    Seems that if we accept M-W’s view, an “enlistee” would be a newly enrolled Private, not a PFC, which is a rank received after 6 months time in grade as a Private.

  26. Tuning Spork says:

    arthur118, I believe the rank above a newly enlisted Private (and recieved after six months) is Private Second Class, which is E-2. Private First Class is E-3, and getting that promotion usually takes two years after enlistment.

    But I’d agree with your interpretation of “enlistee” meaning a brand spanking new recruit, and probably wouldn’t refer to anyone as such who has graduated from basic training.

  27. arthur118 says:

    Tuning Spork- Not to beat a dead horse but, you are correct for the Army, but an E-2 in the Marines is a PFC and the promotion is automatic, based only on time in grade.

    An E-3 in the USMC is a Lance Corporal which, unlike the Army, is given rather automatically after 8 months time in grade as an E-2.

  28. Tuning Spork says:

    Ahh. My experience was with the Air Force where an E-2 in an Airman and and E-3 is Airman First Class, which took two years after enlistment (back in the ’80s, anyway) to achieve. Just shows to go ya.

    /dead horse beatings

  29. errington98 says:

    Not your garden-variety easy Tuesday theme, as three of the theme answers aren

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