Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NYT 3:49 (Amy) 
LAT 3:24 (Amy) 
Jonesin' 2:58 (Amy) 
CS 13:18 (Ade) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 11 14, no. 1111

NY Times crossword solution, 11 11 14, no. 1111

The theme is DOUBLE UP (60a. [Share a single bed … or a hidden feature of 17-, 23-, 36- and 50-Across]), and each of those four answers contains UP twice:

  • 17a. [Powdered lunch product from Lipton], CUP A SOUP.
  • 23a. [Just marvelous], SUPER-DUPER.
  • 36a. [Alcoholics Anonymous and others], SUPPORT GROUPS. Extraneous pluralization for the purpose of symmetry.
  • 50a. [Confectionery brand with a logo designed by Salvador Dalí], CHUPA CHUPS. I always thought the lollipop brand was Mexican but it’s Italian. Not sure how broadly familiar the brand is. (Correction: It’s Spanish, hence the Dalí connection. Website misled me with an Italian location for a factory.)

The Scowl-o-Meter paid me a visit tonight. ESCARP ([Steep slope around a rampart]) crossing SOO clued as 14a. [“Your point being …?”], meaning a drawn-out “so.” OISE and ESSE. TUNA OIL—is that something you can buy, or is it just a molecular component of the fish? SPLOSH, 45d. [Quiet sound of water on the side of a pail, say]?? It’s in the dictionary, but not very familiar at all. I’d grumble less at its inclusion in a Saturday puzzle than in a Tuesday.

Not every dictionary includes this [Pooped] sense of 64a. GASSED. “Ran out of gas,” yes. Horrible, horrible word to place beneath SHTETL, evoking the horrors of the Holocaust.

On the plus side, I’m quite fond of LOVE CHILD, LOUIS C.K., and ALL CAPS.

The theme’s okay but doesn’t really sing out to me, and I had concerns about the fill. Three stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “A Numb Joke”

Jonesin' crossword solution, 11 11 14 "A Numb Joke"

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 11 11 14 “A Numb Joke”

What’s this? A quip theme in the Jonesin’ puzzle? Unexpected!

  • 19a. [Joke starting with “Did you hear the one about…” (part 1)/31a. [Joke (part 2)]/40a. [Joke (part 3)], THE ANESTHETIC / THAT WAS NEVER / KIND TO ANYONE?
  • 54a. [Joke (punchline)], YEAH, MEAN ETHER.

Okay, but the pronunciation doesn’t work in service of the joke. “Me neither” and “mean ether” don’t use the same TH sound. Here’s an appropriate sound for that.

Top fill: TABLE-HOPS, IN A GROOVE, ANGRY MOB. Two more things:

  • 46d. [Horse, to Maurice], CHEVAL. I like the choice of “Maurice” as generic French name given the existence of Maurice Chevalier. He was kind of a cowboy, right?
  • 7a. [Neopagan practice], WICCA. Doesn’t see much action in the grid usually, does it? I feel like the word’s become so much more common in recent years, though.

3.25 stars. The fill was pretty solid but I am typically marginal on quote/quip themes and if the punch line doesn’t work, what have you got left?

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 180), “Army Surplus Store”—Janie’s review

Crossword Nation (180) 11/11

Crossword Nation (180) 11/11

It’s one thing when a constructor sees that the day of his/her puzzle’s release falls on a federal holiday (or any other “red letter” day for that matter); it’s quite another to see how s/he’ll be inspired by that event—how s/he’ll take an idea and run with it. So I’m pleased to report that on this Veterans Day, the U.S. Army has been given a witty and worthy shout-out in Liz’s puzzle. Today, four “G.I.”s have found their way into four familiar (non-military…) base-phrases— with some seriously smile-making results. Btw, do take a look at this “G.I.” link. Had no idea about the multiple layers of meaning behind the letters—and am thinkin’ maybe I’m not the only one… Okay—the puzzle.

  • 16A. [Big building experts?] CARPENTER {G.I.}ANTS. The visual result of the humorous clue here didn’t hurt none either. Not only am I’m seein’ carpenter ants on steroids (not the smallest of the species anyway…), but shades of Fasolt and Fafner, too!
  • 24A. [The story of Johnson’s feta fetish?] “MA{G.I.}C AND CHEESE.” One perfect clue/fill combo. Funny!
  • 46A. [Wholesome mushrooms?] GOOD, CLEAN FUN{G.I.}. Love this. Great way to manipulate the base phrase.
  • 61A. [Texas athlete born between January 21 and February 19?] AG{G.I.}E OF AQUARIUS. I may be alone here, but this one just misses the mark for me. I love the base phrase and the recollection it stirs of Hair, and I love seeing age turned into Aggie. But I’m not convinced that we refer to the astrological signs we’re born under in this way. Place names, yes; but not birth signs. I know. I’m splitting hairs. I love the concept, but I’m not sold on the success of the execution.

I am sold, though, on the success of those question-marked clue/theme pairs, and the “aha”-making moments they provide. Lookin’ at you:

  • [Law of the United Kingdom?] and JUDE. Here we get a reference not to the FEUDAL Magna Carta, say, but to actor Jude Law. ([“Is there] A LAW [against that?”])
  • [Big money maker?] and MINT. Not a person, a place.
  • [Well-versed?] and POETIC. You can figure this one out. Ties in ever so nicely with HAIKU, too.
  • [Counter person?] and ANTI. In other words, the opposition and not the guy or gal who works at the deli.
  • [Control group?] and FREAKS. No scientific-study reference here. Or not an overt one anyway. Some people conducting scientific studies may also be control freaks, but that’s another story…
  • [Nice bath?] and BAIN. Nice, France. A nice place to visit!

door knobOther likes would have to include the visually-clued DOOR KNOB [Where to hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign], and the viscerally-clued EIGHTHS [Octet of cherry pie slices]. Also enjoyed the lively “Z”-sharing Yiddishisms of SCHMOOZE and YUTZ. (I’ve also heard the term door knob used to describe a [Nincompoop…].) And where else but in a puzzle grid will you see hi-brow—John UPDIKE [“The Happiest I’ve Been” author]—so deftly poised opposite lower-brow—[#1 Jennifer Lopez hit of 2001] “I’M REAL”?

And there ya have it. Another well-wrought puzz from la Liz, and yours truly not [“Go[ing] out with] A BANG[” (exit[ing] grandly] but simply saying “BYE—see ya next week!”


Pan Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 11 11 14

LA Times crossword solution, 11 11 14

Is it bad that I still don’t get the theme here? And it’s a Tuesday puzzle? Oh, now I get it. I was trying to connect END to the theme words rather than ZONE, which is the right word.

  • 17a. [Big Bang, to a physicist], BEGINNING OF TIME.
  • 23a. [Show stopper], ACTORS’ STRIKE.
  • 38a. [One of two gridiron borders, and what the last words of 17-, 23-, 52- and 62-Across can have], END ZONE.
  • 52a. [Like some August sales], BACK TO SCHOOL. “School zone” feels a hair off to me, maybe. “School speed zone” is what I use, but that could just be me.
  • 62a. [Alabama Slammer liqueur], SOUTHERN COMFORT.

Solid, if a bit stolid, theme. SOUTHERN COMFORT is a zippy inclusion, though, and I rather like the cosmological BEGINNING OF TIME.

“Really?!” entry of the day: 12d. [Siberian industrial center], TOMSK. We’ve got Omsk, Orsk, and Tomsk now, two thirds of them in Siberia and highly unlikely to see American tourists. We prefer our foreign cities in the puzzle to be cultural centers, historical landmarks, capital cities.

Overall, the fill didn’t inspire me. Rather more in the LRON, -OLA, IOS ELEE ONE-A vein than I like to have in a single grid.

Question: Why is TAG the answer to 8d. [Bag marker]? Is this about baseball? Is this price tags on handbags in the store? Something entirely different?

3.33 stars from me.

Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “To Do List”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.11.14: "To Do List"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.11.14: “To Do List”

Good morning, and a special shout out and thank you to all who serve and those who have/had served in the armed forces as celebrations and recognition of those men and women continue around the world on this Veterans Day/Armistice Day, as well as on Remembrance Day.

Today’s crossword, served up to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, is another grid in which there are five theme answers, and all of them are two-word entries in which the first word starts with the letters “TO” and the second word begins with “DO.”

  • TOP DOLLAR: (18A: [Maximum price])
  • TOFU DOG: (30A: [Vegetarian wiener alternative]) – Never have had a tofu dog. And I don’t think I ever will, either.
  • TOKYO DOME: (35A: [Japanese stadium home to the Yomiuri Giants]) – Very strong clue and entry!
  • TONY DOW: (47A: [Wally Cleaver portrayer]) – Earworm alert: The Leave It to Beaver theme is creeping in! Aaahhh!!!
  • TONED DOWN: (59A: [Softened])

This was a pretty lively grid, yet didn’t hit too many trouble spots even if I didn’t necessarily ZIP through this puzzle as fast as I could hve (8D: [Pep]).  Which song is your favorite BON JOVI hit (40D: [“Livin’ on a Prayer” rockers])? To be honest, I never really was a big Bon Jovi fan (sorry, New Jersey natives), and it didn’t help that “Livin on a Prayer” was played at least a million times when hanging out in bars and other hangouts while in college.  Don’t get me wrong, though, because I don’t mind “Livin’ on a Prayer,'” and would listen to that over Shakira’s hit, SHE WOLF any time (1D: [One helped raise Romulus and Remus]). For some reason, I took some exception, albeit playfully, to a friend’s assertion that I live the JETSET life because of all of the cities I go to in covering different sporting events (6D: [High-flying elite]). Never in a million years would I ever compare myself to those that really live that life, and I know a few people that are in Europe one day, back home in the States the next, then off the Asia after that.  That’s not me at all, though I totally wouldn’t mind it!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JAZZ (6A: [Cats’ sounds?]) – If you ever wondered what JAZZ has to do with the state of Utah, in relation to the current NBA team, you’re not alone. The franchise was founded in 1974 at the New Orleans Jazz, the 18th team to play in the NBA at the time. The team, led by future NBA Hall-of-Famer “Pistol” Pete Maravich, struggled to win consistently in the first few seasons in the league. In 1979, the team moved to Utah but kept the nickname. Utah advanced to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, led by the Hall-of-Fame duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone. In both of those Finals series, however, the Jazz were upended by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls.

Have a great day, everyone, and see you all on Hump Day!

Take care!


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17 Responses to Tuesday, November 11, 2014

  1. pannonica says:

    NYT: SHTETL doesn’t evoke “Holocaust” the way GHETTO does.

    And. TUNA. OIL. Please.

    edit: Oh, I missed the sentiment of the associated GASSED. Never mind, then.

  2. Phil says:

    “SPLOSH,…It’s in the dictionary, but not very familiar at all”? You don’t know about Splosh/Sploshing? Clearly, Will didn’t know either. Since CHUPA CHUPA apparently means suck suck, that crossing SPLOSH takes this puzzle to Indie land.

  3. Slowpoke Rodriguez says:

    Tiny nit to pick. I believe Chupa Chups are Spanish, not Italian, which makes more Dali sense.

  4. Martin says:


    TUNA OIL for you non-believers… sighted on various occasions in the deep forrests of British Columbia and the high Himalayas.


    • David L says:

      According to the website where that picture came from, this tuna oil is to be used “to enhance your stick mix spod mix or groundbait. Use approx 30ml of Tuna Oil per dry kilo. Ideal for coating pellets particularly in the summer to create a nice slick on the water to draw the fish into your swim.”

      So not exactly a dietary supplement or health food, as the clue indicates.

  5. As the son of two Holocaust survivors, I don’t normally go to my mid-week NYT crossword to be reminded of the horrors inflicted by the Nazis. SHTETL makes me think Jewish village in Russia, a la Fiddler on the Roof, rather than Nazi-era Germany. It’s an unfortunate juxtaposition and one that really should have been caught in construction/editing, but it’s not enough of an association for me that I’m going to get worked up about it. Of course, it could have all been moot if the airport code for Minneapolis-St. Paul, i.e., MSP, were more widely known, hence allowing the PASSING (of GASSING).

    Speaking of Russian towns, apply today’s Crossword Nation theme to ORSK, and you have yourself a fabulous GORSKI. We honor their service!

    • Bencoe says:

      George, I am completely with you, in that to me, SHTETL evokes first and foremost “Fiddler on the Roof” type Russian villages.

    • janie says:

      and i’m someone who associates SHTETL with poland as well as russia. sadly, the populations of many polish shtetls were decimated in wwii.

      i don’t imagine there was any anti-semitic conspiracy going on, but as you so graciously characterize it, this is an “unfortunate juxtaposition.”


      • Bencoe says:

        Unfortunately, the population of Poland in general was more than decimated in WWII–one third of the Polish population was killed in the war and in concentration camps, something which a lot of people don’t really know.

    • Gary R says:

      Seems as though MSS and SASSED could have worked in the southwest corner. Not sure if mss. is generally considered Tuesday fare, but several other entries seemed like they would be better suited to a Wednesday, anyway.

      • janie says:

        actually, MSS has shown up every day of the week. multiple times. for my money, that’s a great way to address the fill “issues” for future publication and to keep this terrific tuesday puzzle completely on the UP and UP. easy fix!


  6. Argyle says:

    LAT: Bag – TAG I figured baggage.

    School zone is used for all the things that are banned in it. It’s not just for speeding anymore.

  7. Brady says:

    In the Jonesin’ puzzle, how are ‘me neither’ and ‘mean ether’ pronounced differently?

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