Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Jonesin' 4:30 (Derek) 


LAT 3:27 (Derek) 


NYT 3:41 (Amy) 


WSJ  5:51 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Short Notice”—Laura’s write-up

WSJ 7/18 Solution

WSJ • 7/18/17 • Tue • Burnikel • solution

  • 16a [1974 Jimmy Buffett hit] COME MONDAY
  • 26a [Online referee] GAME MODERATOR
  • 46a [Monthly payments, for many] HOME MORTGAGES
  • 61a [Influential person] PRIME MOVER
  • 58dR [Office note hidden in four of the Across answers] MEMO

Simple and direct, like the best MEMOs were, way back when people in offices still sent actual printed memos, and not barrages of email. MEMO neatly spans each word in each entry — to wit, I didn’t even notice the connection until I’d entered the revealer. Not a huge Parrothead, I got the Jimmy Buffett song from the crosses, but the others are phrases in the language, if slight variations — I’ve seen game master used more frequently than GAME MODERATOR, and HOME doesn’t necessarily need to moderate MORTGAGES (aren’t most mortgages for homes?). PRIME MOVER is a term usually associated with philosophy but using it generically is perfectly fair.

Fill-wise, we have long downs GROCERY BAG [10d: Checkout item] and MURPHY’S LAW [28d: “If something can go wrong, it will”] — nice touch to quote the law itself as the clue. WAR ZONE [45D: Spot for embedded journalists] and TEASER AD [8D: Buzz-creating promo] also felt fresh, or freshly clued. (Speaking of which, have you seen the buzz-creating promo for Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time?) Zo, how about a ZIMA [56a: Coors malt beverage brand]? It’s apparently making a comeback due to early 90s nostalgia.

MEMO to self — start covering the WSJ Tuesday crossword for Fiend.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 320), “All’s Well that Bends Well”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 7/18 (No. 320)

Although there is one actual title by the bard in today’s grid [Shakespeare’s “TIMON of Athens”], you’ll find no (more) Shakespearean puns today beyond that goody that’s the title. And, àpropos of which, in the healthy body (like that of an AGILE gymnast, say), what “bends well”? Why, your joints, of course—four of which show up today as themers in more metaphorical than literally anatomical contexts, which is much to be desired in a lively theme set. Nice, too, how the clues have their own anatomy-free lives as well.Here’s how it’s done:

  • 17A. ELBOW GREASE [Eco-friendly cleaning solution?] This is a great, multi-layered clue what with its play on the word “solution.” Not the (eco-friendly) liquid type, but the-answer-to-your-problem type. Good old-fashioned physical effort. No GREASE involved. I was in elementary school (about a hundred years ago…) when I first learned this phrase. And in the same vein, skyhooks (yep… this woulda been around the time my brother was in the Boy Scouts)… Bonus fill: ULNA, which is an ELBOW-related [Arm bone].
  • 27A. KNUCKLE UNDER [Give in to pressure]. A vivid term that’s been in use here since at least the middle of the 19th century.
  • 45A. KNEE-SLAPPING [Hilarious]. I had trouble parsing this one, but had my “aha” after reading this, where you can see the term used as an adjective (scroll to “References in periodicals archive”).
  • 61A. ANKLE-BITERS [Tots, slangily]. Love that phrase. Kind of in the same (evocative) class as rug rats.

And, should you want to know more about these benders from a skeletal/physiological p.o.v., have at!

No other long fill today, but a healthy amount of solid and lively mid-range entries, like MARRY UP, well clued as [Get hitched to climb the social ladder] and CLERKED, which is helped immeasurably by its clue [Worked for Justice Sotomayor]. The “RUBBISH!” [“Nonsense!”] pair makes an impact and the BANANAS [Ingredients in Chunky Monkey ice cream] duo reminded me of this easy-peasy, one-ingredient BANANA “ice cream” recipe. Experiment with add-ins! (You’re welcome!) It’s a real phrase, but DO A DEAL lands clumsily on my ear. Ymmv.

Among the sixes, I particularly ADMIRE ADMIRE, TWEAKS, “OPEN IT!, NOTARY and NEEDLE, that [Tattoo parlor sticker]—which is not to be confused with those [Peel-and-stick items] DECALS. Around the time I learned about ELBOW GREASE, and well before I knew the meaning of NOTARY in the sense of [Public leader?] (another great clue, btw), I was also seeing the words “NOTARY Sojac” in the funny papers. That’s a Smokey Stover nonsense term. Ditto “foo-“ as in “Foo-fighters”… Oh, the associations that stick with us, eh? Hello, again, to MARLEE [Oscar-winner Matlin], who got a good bit of love here three weeks ago.

Fun to see MAVEN, the [Acknowledged expert] in the same grid with NABOB [Mogul]. Both words have strong connotations (the latter especially) and, as such, make for strong fill. And because I can be easily amused, I also got a smile from seeing both NINE and NEIN in the grid. As grid opposites yet.

Fave clue/fill combo today? [Trust buster] LIE. Well, timing is everything, if you catch my TACIT [Unspoken but understood] drift…

And that’ll do it for me today, folks. Have a great week, keep solving and if you’re in the neighborhood, come on by again next week!

Michael Hawkins’ New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 18 17, no 0718

Just realized that the black squares tie into the theme. Your themers are STAIRCASE WIT (much better in the original French), ESCALATOR CLAUSE, and ON THE UP-AND-UP, so the chunks of blocks on the south and east sides of the grid (please adjust your monitor if it’s not facing south) look like short staircases. I paid no mind to the theme while solving, as the 11-letter Down answer with a question-mark clue distracted me. 19d. [Freeze frame?] for ICE CUBE TRAY? Hey! That’s actually more fun than the theme. This 70-word grid could pass muster as a themeless if those 12s and the 15 were unrelated.

Four foods:

  • 1a. [Braided Jewish bread], CHALLAH. Have we had T’CHALLA in a puzzle yet? That’s the lead character in the upcoming Black Panther movie. (Here’s the trailer!)
  • 16d. [Dessert chain], TCBY. That still exists? *googling* It does. There are locations in Chicago-area malls. The chain is a shadow of its former self, and yet fro-yo places abound. I am down on the fro-yo joints because the last time I was getting some frozen yogurt with a self-serve toppings bar, there were bugs flying around the toppings. Yeah, NO.
  • 34a. [Wasteful government spending], PORK. My son lunched on a large pork bao at a Korean market today. I prefer government pork to meat pork, personally.
  • 45a. [Dessert brand], SARA LEE. Grateful to live in a place with multiple choices for baked desserts that keep me from buying frozen Sara Lee. I will always have a soft spot for their pound cake, though.

Lowlights in the Tuesday fill include non-‘s MACY, uncommon plural ASYLA, AER, and crosswordese Mt. OSSA. I like seeing MAAS clued as Peter Maas rather than as goat sounds (I tell ya, I think goats baa just like sheep do), but Serpico‘s book source is a tad dated as cultural references go. (Just learned that Maas wrote an awful lot of crime nonfiction books.) 3.75 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “It’s PAT” – Derek’s write-up

This brings to mind the memorable SNL character “Pat” played by Julia Sweeney. I didn’t remember, but they actually made a movie about the character! I don’t think I saw that movie, but that idea will be a recurring thought in this post! Here are the theme answers, all with the initials P-A-T:

  • 17A [French term for a temporary residence] PIED-À-TERRE
  • 20A [Did some pranking] PLAYED A TRICK
  • 34A [Duo behind the CW series “Fool Us”] PENN AND TELLER
  • 52A & 56A [Low-budget programming source] PUBLIC ACCESS TELEVISION

“Pat” would be proud! Another fun one from Matt! 4.4 stars.

A few more notes:

    • 15A [Fluorescent bulb gas] ARGON – Also a bike manufacturer, with a team using their bikes in the Tour de France. (Yes, I have been watching DAILY.)
    • 22A [One-named ’50s-’60s teen idol] FABIAN – This is slightly before my time, and probably yours too!
    • 47A [John who once co-hosted “Entertainment Tonight”] TESH – Another crossword famous person! Helps that there isn’t another person alive I can think of with the last name TESH!
    • 3D [“Insecure” star Issa __] RAE – This show is pretty good. I have seen two or three episodes. Her insecurity sometimes makes me slightly uncomfortable, but some of the jokes are hilarious!
    • 10D [Symbol of deadness] DOORNAIL – As in how I feel after a 10+ mile run!
    • 24D [“Kind of __” (classic Miles Davis album)] BLUE – This album had only five songs! I am not a big blues fan, but you may have heard this track:

  • 50D [Most common throw with two dice (D6es, for those of you playing at home)] SEVEN – Or (for those of you playing at home that have dice up to 20-sided like in D & D or some similar game!)

Looks like a busy week. Until next Tuesday’s Jonesin’ writeup!

Howard Barkin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

I am happy to say that I know this guy pretty well from times at Stamford! You won’t find a nicer guy, and he is an excellent solver of course. You have to be a great solver to win Stamford, and the list of Stamford winners is not long! He is also a good puzzle constructor, although maybe not a prolific one, and this puzzle is a good example. The theme also makes me hungry!

  • 20A [Moon’s alleged makeup] GREEN CHEESE
  • 40A [Indian spiced drink] CHAI TEA
  • 11D [Pre-euro Dublin currency] IRISH POUND
  • 29D [Loofah] BATH SPONGE
  • 57A [Simple thing to do … and what each starred clue’s answer ends with?] PIECE OF CAKE

Yes, cheesecaketea cakepound cake, and sponge cake all sound good right now, although I would prefer the cheesecake and pound cake over the tea cake and sponge cake! Let me get through this write-up and make a run to the corner store! 4.5 stars.

Just a few more notes:

  • 6A [Computers with Apple cores] MACS – Technically, the parts ARE Apple, but the core (as in processor) is by Intel now. I know, that is nit-picky, and a computer buff can probably tell me how wrong my thinking is!
  • 24A [__ Lee: dessert brand] SARA – This is one of my “girlfriends,” along with Dolly Madison, Little Debbie, Betty Crocker, …
  • 49A [Eur. realm until 1806] H.R.E. – The Holy Roman Empire appeared in virtually every map we had to fill in country names for in Social Studies class for centuries. A vestige of the time when the Catholic church held a lot of power in the Middle Ages.
  • 54A [1982 Disney sci-fi film] TRON – I have never seen this movie either, at least not all the way through. I have seen bits and pieces. Another weekend project for me!
  • 5D [Animated Disney film with a Polynesian heroine] MOANA – Too many Disney references in one puzzle! And, as you might surmise, I haven’t see this movie EITHER. Although I believe it is on Netflix now!
  • 6D [Spanish girls] MUCHACHAS – Were you quick to start writing SENORITAS in? Yeah, me too!
  • 12D [1976 Olympics star Comaneci] NADIA – Still married to fellow gymnast Bart Conner. I barely remember the 1976 Olympics (I was 7!), but she is of course renowned for scoring the first perfect 10 in Olympic history. Now the scoring for gymnastics is so convoluted I cannot understand it!

Nice puzzle, Howard! Have a great week everyone!

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30 Responses to Tuesday, July 18, 2017

  1. Sarah says:

    I got the WSJ theme off the title alone. GAMEMODERATOR seems contrived, HOMEMORTGAGES to a lesser degree. Still nice though.

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I had heard of an ESCALATion CLAUSE, but not ESCALATOR CLAUSE, so that didn’t help. STAIRCASE WIT, to my mind, evokes coming down to the bottom of the stairs and then thinking of the clever answer.. So ‘ON THE UP AND UP” seemed somehow wrong…

    I liked the visual. And I loved ICE CUBE TRAY

    COSPLAY was invented by a woman born in the early 20th century, Morojo.

  3. Ethan says:

    Would non-genitive MACY have been OK if it had been clued as William H. Macy?

  4. Evad says:

    Take it from a goat farmer, it’s definitely Maa-aa-aa.

  5. Tuna says:

    I have not been able to access the LAT puzzle in over a week either from here or Cruciverb.com.

    Is there a different link?

  6. Cy Daedalus says:

    SCRY?? That is not a word I have ever encountered. I’m guessing Amy has since it didn’t get mentioned, but can someone please enlighten me (and Merriam-Webster, which is unaware it should be providing a definition for it) about SCRY? Thank you. Otherwise I will just look into my crystal ball and SCRY what I see there.

    And now upon Googling, apparently it is just Merriam-Webster and I who are unknowing of the term. I retract my ticism (which is just a shorted form of criticism).

    • Lise says:

      SCRY brought to mind the book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, as well as the excellent Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud in which SCRYing can be done with a small glass disc or even by looking in a puddle. If I remember correctly, it’s also done in the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. All of those are well-crafted fantasy with excellent storylines and well-developed characters.

      You didn’t find it in the M-W online dictionary in the future-prediction or elsewhere-watching sense because that word, among a lot of other cool ones, is available only to subscribers of the dictionary (of which I will soon become one). It is the first definition listed on dictionary.com.

      • Cy Daedalus says:

        Thanks for the recommendations/explanation. And note to self: Read more fantasy before next ACPT!!

        And I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I guess I assumed that when I purchased the M-W app, which just got updated a week ago with “More words!”, that I would get the same content as if I paid for their website. Silly me. Thanks again for the info.

        • Lise says:

          Ooh, I didn’t think about the app. Hmm. I wonder whether the subscription will provide me with the app for free. (Among my friends, I am voted Most Likely To Be Carrying Around A Print Dictionary) (yes, I have friends ;) ).


    • Gareth says:

      SCRY is ubiquitous in fantasy novels, of which I have read a stack… I’ve always hesitated to use it in a puzzle, despite my personal familiarity, simply because of its poor dictionary penetration…

  7. Lise says:

    I liked the Jonesin’ but was totally unable to get the letter shared by 33A (“___ Ho” (Slumdog Millionaire song)) and 33D (Leader of the Holograms, on Saturday morning TV).

    I have read Slumdog Millionaire – great book! but not seen the movie wherein I suppose the song lurks. Also, the Holograms? What? So, assuming it was a consonant, I had 21 choices and made the wrong one (H). Definitely Naticked there.

    Otherwise, nice Tuesday fare. I love that there are so many Tuesday puzzles.

    • PJ Ward says:

      I enjoyed the Jonesin’ as well. I got a little hung up at 57d. Sure there’s ice at 0°F but ice and 0° make me think Celsius. A random sub 32°F temp and ice should probably avoid 0°.

  8. Paul Coulter says:

    It’s too bad we’re not getting the LATs lately at Cruciverb. Howard Barkin has a very nicely executed one today. Of course, you can always do them at the L.A. Times site if you’re willing to sit through the ads.

  9. pannonica says:

    From one of my favorites:

  10. Howard B says:

    Thanks, Derek! Always good to see you too. :)

  11. pamela feiring says:

    NYT seemed difficult for a Tuesday

  12. ahimsa says:

    I know that this ship has sailed, and it’s too late to change now that Starbucks has it as a menu item, but I’ll *never* get used to CHAI TEA. To me it’s like saying “agua water” (an apt example, I hope, since there are several Spanish words in the LAT puzzle). Just a minor pet peeve. :-)

    I enjoyed all the puzzles today but the write-ups and comments were just as good.

    Thanks to Zulema for that note about who invented cosplay. And thanks to pannonica for the link to Esprit De L’escalier video.

    • Howard B says:

      I actually agree, the redundancy of CHAI TEA grates me. Unfortunately, it’s seeped into the language enough that it made a colloquially OK bit of fill, and not offensive enough for me to ban it from my lists. (Now “ATM machine”, that’s another story).

      • ahimsa says:

        I would actually enjoy seeing CHAI TEA in a puzzle if the clue acknowledged the redundancy.

        And I do agree that it’s a perfectly fine entry for a puzzle. It’s not your fault that no one knows that the word CHAI is simply the Hindi word for tea.

  13. scrivener says:

    With all due respect to Howard B and his excellent LAT puzzle which was really fun to solve this morning, I have to say I have issues with crossing words allowing–for the non-speaker of a non-English language–multiple reasonable guesses at non-English words that aren’t standard borrowed words. I’m completely down with words like MUCHACHAS, which has seeped into American usage, but I had to take a guess on UNA or UNI crossing YAPS or YIPS.

    You’d think I’d have them all down, these articles from other languages, after years of puzzle-solving, but in my homestate, most of us take Asian or Pacific island languages for our international languages credits in high school and college. I’m not complaining about my not knowing Spanish, Italian, or French, but man. Give another reasonably educated American a fighting chance on a Tuesday, you know?

    In my puzzle, I could expect you to know KIMONO, ALOHA, or DIMSUM, but would I get away with Japanese, Hawaiian, or Cantonese articles, ignoring for the moment that there are no articles in Japanese and all the Hawaiian articles I can think of have only two letters?

    Concession: I guess 50-50 is a fighting chance, but for me it had to be a complete guess, and I guessed wrong. Perhaps if I’d guessed correctly, I wouldn’t be sulking as I dip into my poi and sushi.

    • Howard B says:

      That’s a good point. I’ll definitely consider those thoughts the next time I make one of these things.

      • Michael says:

        Valid point, but they don’t all have to be clued as articles. UNI is a prefix with -lateral, UNA can be clued as “___ corda”, LES is a man’s name, DES is part of Des Moines, etc. So it’s not entirely on the constructor. ;)

  14. Tim in NYC says:

    Bill “Bojangles” Robinson doing his signature step dance.


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