Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jonesin' 5:48 (Derek) 


LAT 3:51 (Derek) 


NYT 3:34 (Amy) 


WSJ  9:04 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 321), “Well, *hoop Dee Doo!”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 7/25 (No. 321)

What we get today is a taut little “drop-a-letter” theme. That asterisk in the title? That’s a stand-in for the letter in question, a/k/a (as became evident during the solve) “W.” There are smart, skewed, question-marked clues that deliver smart, smile-making theme fill. Plus, there’s a healthy quotient of lively longer and mid-range fill that adds as well to the puzzle’s “assets column.” Behold:

16A. [“Killer” assortment of boxed chocolates?] HITMAN’S SAMPLER. Funny. And sweet—on several levels. Whitman’s Sampler.

34A. [“Singing” sea creature named for patriot Nathan?] HUMPBACK HALE. This one doesn’t scan as smoothly as its predecessor. I suspect that in cluing it, Liz wanted to avoid drawing attention to a human physical deformity, but as I read it, a HALE HUMPBACK is the answer that’s being looked for. That clearly doesn’t work, though, for the sense of the base phrase. Humpback whale.

44A. [Comment a child may hear at singer Don’s paternity test?] “HO’S YOUR DADDY. Here we get a change of vowel sound (“oo” to “oh”) going from base phrase to theme phrase. But the humor still comes through. “Who’s your daddy?” (listen at least to 0:55…)

66A. [Grammy-winning Linda Ronstadt album dedicated to a cad?] HEART LIKE A HEEL. Hah! Heart Like a Wheel (not exactly a “happy” song…). (Also a terrific movie with Bonnie Bedelia as race-car driver Shirley Muldowney).

There may be some inconsistency in the way the themers are executed, but because I’m partial to this kind of wordplay, I like the big picture here a lot. I also like ART FILMS and ODYSSEYS (literally and as fill), SUSHI MENU and EAVESDROP. Nice, too, how the first two both cross two themers and the other two lie directly above/below the first and last themers.

LAGOON is lovely fill and oh, if you’re not familiar with the “seven dirty words” routine of the late, great George CARLIN, do take this opportunity to pick up some 1970s cultural history. It’s SURE TO be enlightening. (P’raps titillating, too. OOPS. Can’t say that…) You’re bound to hear some SNORTS [Stifled laughs] in the audience. Also a lot of people fully *hooping it up.

Brand new to me: Frederik POHL, (prolific and award-winning) science fiction writer and author of Jem. He had lotsa pen names, too, but nary a one ringin’ any kinda bell…

Keepin’ it short ‘n’ sweet today and, as we near the mid-summer mark, am hoping yours has been a good one with, perhaps, the best yet to come. Keep cool, keep solving and keep coming back!

[Snorkeling locale]. “Come on in—the water’s fine!”

Alex Vratsanos’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 25 17, no 0725

The theme is SPREAD THE GOSPEL, clued with [Evangelize … or what this puzzle’s circled squares do?]. The other four long Across answers contain circled letters, “spread” out, that spell the New Testament’s four Gospels, MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, and JOHN. Those are spaced out in MEANT THE WORLD TO, SMART ALECK, LUCKY ME, and JOB-HOPPING, all of which are pretty solid.

This being a Tuesday puzzle—second-easiest of the week—of course there’s plenty of vocabulary that’s on the harder side. ALTI-, ESCARP, ENO, ANON, ISO-, ABAFT, vitamin B-SIX with the number spelled out, APSE, TAM, ELL, HEDDA, HIE, and LACTI– (I can’t think of any milk-related words that include the prefix LACTI- with an I). If you’ve been doing crosswords for ages, you know a lot of these. If you are a new solver, these are apt to make you think either you’re an idiot or the puzzle is too hard.

Three more things:

  • 42a. [It isn’t recorded in a walk-off win], FINAL OUT. I only learned this “walk-off” baseball usage about a year ago, but hey. I really like this entry. GRAND JUROR and NAUTILUS also appeal.
  • 55a. [Christmas ornament, e.g.], BAUBLE. I love this word, thanks to Eilonwy in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. That book instilled a lifelong fondness for Welsh names.
  • SAM’S Club and JO’S Boys are either one or two more possessive-name answers than I’d like to see in a puzzle.

3.25 stars from me.

Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “By Golly!”—Laura’s writeup

WSJ – Eaton-Salners – 7.25.17

  • 17a [Hyping]: BALLYHOOING
  • 25a [Wave generator, of a sort]: BELLY FLOP
  • 34a [Gruff character of fairy tale]: BILLY GOAT
  • 46a [Industry for Randhir and Karisma Kapoor]: BOLLYWOOD
  • 55a [The White House, to Teddy Roosevelt]: BULLY PULPIT

Textbook example of a vowel-progression theme: this time using five B[X]LLY words/phrases. Tightly if not flashily constructed — but some days you just want a pleasant solve with your morning coffee, and Alex Eaton-Salners is a JOLLY good FELLER [4d: Guy, informally] for us today.


Hooray for Bollywood! I’m going to listen to Karisma Kapoor All. Day.

Fill was standard but not stale. We have LOOIE [7d: Sarge’s superior] and OLLIE [49d: Basic skateboarding maneuver] and OLIVE [29a: Martini garnish]. And chart-topping songs of three decades: LA BAMBA [36d: Richie Valens hit of 1959], I AM LOVE [1975 Jackson 5 hit], and AXEL F [43a: Instrumental theme from “Beverly Hills Cop” {1984}]. One pedantic quibble: ATHEISM is not [41d: Disbelief], it’s unbelief. Disbelief is akin to astonishment or incredulity (“She read the mansplaining blog comment in disbelief”) while unbelief is the rejection of belief/faith (“She attended shabbat services regularly despite her unbelief”).

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Going Against” – Derek’s write-up

I thought my time on this was a lot longer than it actually was. And there is an error the grid, mainly because of the crossing of two unfamiliar phrases. I had the gimmick in at 17A, but I have not seen one nanosecond of The Walking Dead, even though it IS on Netflix! Perhaps that will be a binge-watch project once school is finished! But I am rambling: the theme answers all “go against” in that they have the phrase mentioned at 6D:

    • 17A [The economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, to economists] ASIAN TIGERS – If you say so … !
    • 21A [Greedy person’s mantra] I WANT IT ALL!
    • 36A [Uptempo song by The Cure] WHY CAN’T I BE YOU? – Matt’s obscure song reference in the puzzle. No, I have never heard this song before!

  • 54A [The days of Caesar, colloquially] ROMAN TIMES
  • 59A [Menae in many a classic B movie] GIANT INSECTB
  • 6D [Against (which appears amidst the five long Across answers)] ANTI

This of course made me think of the latest Rihanna album, which may or may not be the thing that triggered this theme idea. Other than the obscure song, which many of you may know, I liked the theme fine. I just wonder why it seemed like it took ten minutes? I must be sleepy! 4.3 stars.

A few more notes:

    • 1A [“Just Putting It Out There” comedian Nancherla] APARNA – A unique name, but a new one on me. This led to many difficulties in the upper left corner.
    • 53A [1991 Wimbledon winner Michael] STICH – I got this one easily, but I know tennis fairly well, and I remember him well. He had a big serve, and sometimes that is all you need to win Wimbledon: you can get a lot of cheap points, especially if your big serve hits an uneven clump of dirt!
    • 64A [“The Chew” regular Mario] BATALI – Arguably one of the most successful TV chefs of our day. He used to be on The Food Network quite a lot, but he seems to have outgrown that!
    • 7D [“The Walking Dead” villain] NEGAN – As mentioned above, I don’t know any characters on this show. Evidently he is portrayed by actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
    • 8D [Spiner who played Data] BRENT – I HAVE seen an episode or two of Star Trek: TNG, so I definitely know who this is. He actually looks odd when he appears in some other movie or TV show!
    • 42D [“Do __ Diddy Diddy” (1964 #1 hit)] WAH – I have to include this only to get the song in your head!

That’s all for this week’s Jonesin’!

Joe Kidd’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

This is a name that doesn’t appear in Amy’s database! And also a name I don’t know. Who is this person? Perhaps he will chime in among the comments. Or it’s a pseudonym for someone! A clever theme, and even including a revealer at 40D!

  • 17A [Royal passing rubber checks?] KITING KING
  • 25A [English Einstein?] BRITAIN BRAIN
  • 47A [Pack animal carrying a Mexican treat?] BURRITO BURRO
  • 62A [Gdansk gentleman?] POLITE POLE
  • 40D [“That’ll be enough of that subject” … and a hint to solving the answers to starred clues] DROP IT!

Drop the IT from the first word and you have the second. Simple, yet clever. And lots of great fill, as is usually the case in LAT puzzles. Here’s hoping for more from this Joe Kidd character! 4.4 stars.

Some mentionables:

    • 46A [“All you can __”: bugget sign] EAT – I find if I avoid buffets altogether, that is a good thing for me. Otherwise, I feel I have to get my money’s worth!!
    • 61A [“In the Valley of __”: 2007 Tommy Lee Jones film] ELAH – Another movie I have never seen!
    • 5D [Chicago’s time zone] CENTRAL – A lot of people here in Northern Indiana would love to be on Central time as well, but other than three counties in NW Indiana and a few down by Evansville, Indiana is on Eastern time.
    • 22D [Bic Clic __ pen] STIC – Writing utensils are important to the crossword crowd, even in this age of digital solving. I have three printers! Recently fell in love with 0.9mm pencil lead for my mechanical pencils! (Specifically a Pentel Twist Erase!)
    • 29D [“The Godfather” enforcer Luca] BRASI – Played by Lenny Montana. I have GOT to see this movie someday!
    • 43D [“Superstar” rapper __ Fiasco] LUPE – I only know one of his songs. This one:

See you on Saturday for the LAT Challenger puzzle!

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17 Responses to Tuesday, July 25, 2017

  1. Brian says:

    Thought lactician was a word, but it’s lactation specialist.

  2. David says:

    42-A; I had “Final Run” for a long time. I was thinking about NY Mets’ Robin Ventura’s “Grand Slam Single” in game 5 of the 1999 NLCS. Bases were loaded in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, and Ventura put one over the wall. For 18 years I have been of the belief that the hit was officially recorded as a single because as soon as the winning run crossed the plate the game was over, but today I learned that it was because Ventura’s teammates mobbed him when he got the hit, preventing him from rounding the bases. The umpires ruled that the only run to count was the one that happened before the rest of the team ran out onto the field.

  3. anon says:

    NYT: Factual error in 5D [The Hartford competitor]: AETNA.

    The Hartford is a property and casualty insurer. Aetna is a health insurer. They aren’t competitors.

    Clue should have used Cigna or Humana or some other health insurer.

    • Martin says:

      Maybe a broader competitor would have been better on a Tuesday, but the clue is not wrong. You can buy, for instance, long-term disability insurance from both The Hartford and Aetna.

      • anon says:

        I can also buy coffee at the Mobil Mart, but I wouldn’t call Mobil a competitor of Starbucks.

        If we want the information in the puzzled to occasionally inform, then this clue/answer combo does not do that.

  4. pannonica says:

    WSJ: I disbelieve that overly constricted definition as relying too much on a derived sense of the word.

    disbelief (noun) : the act of disbelieving : mental rejection of something as untrue

    disbelieve (transitive verb) : to hold not worthy of belief : not believe; (intransitive verb) to withhold or reject belief

    – both from m-w.com

  5. @Derek
    > I have GOT to see this movie (The Godfather) someday!

    Highly recommended, the movie set was my last binge watch. It’s so in culture that you’ll recognize a lot of it from others parodying certain scenes and some of the famous lines in it. Then about every actor involved became a star off of that movie if they weren’t already, including crossword notable TALIA Shire. More or less, just everything about this movie is top notch and deserved all of what it received. Part II is heavily worth it as well for the same reasons, most notably getting to see a young Robert DeNiro play young Vito. Notably, the key part of these movies lie more the subtleties, so you might want to view them at least 1 or 2 more times if you end up liking it the first time to pick it all up. Part III was on the bad side, though for several reasons, most notable perhaps is the poor performance of Sofia Coppola. But good at least once for completion-sake if you really get into these, most notably for the famous line that Pacino gets in that one.

  6. pannonica says:

    LAT: Themer BURRITO BURRO is inelegant as burrito is the diminutive form of burro. That’s standard construction in Spanish, inserting an -it- before a terminal o or a.

  7. Lise says:

    Hi Derek! We used to drive to Indiana every summer and I remember that it’s wickedly difficult to know what time it is there. A few counties are on Central time, the rest Eastern, some observe DST and some do not. We usually just asked someone, if the time mattered, that is (vacations being what they are).

    And those Twist-Erase 0.9 mm pencils rock!

  8. pannonica says:

    Jonesin’: 9d [ __-surface missile] AIR TO. Sure would have preferred Brazilian master percussionist AIRTO Moreira. He’s married to FLORA | PURIM, dont’cha know.

    • Dave C says:

      fabulous…he also guested on a few New Year’s shows with the Grateful Dead in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

  9. Garrett says:

    I got a big laugh out of Ho’s your daddy, and a bit smile out of Hitman’s Sampler. I haven’t see n Impala in a grid for some time. I don’t think I’ve heard of Gina Rowlands before, which is surprising because she has been in so many movies (I haven’t seen even one of them!).

    One nit to pick: blowtorches are not hot enough to weld. They can be used for heating surfaces and for soldering, but not welding. To weld with a torch you need an oxy acetylene torch. Otherwise — as Liz’s puzzles are, picture perfect!

  10. Brady says:

    So, Derek, what exactly is the ‘error in the grid’ you are referring to in the Jones puzzle? I had other issues with this one (essentially the very obscure Americanisms), but did not experience any actual crossword error. Elaborate, if you would.

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