Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jonesin' 4:14 (Derek) 


LAT 3:21 (Derek) 


NYT 3:32 (Amy) 


WSJ  5:51 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 322), “Bloops!”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 8/1 (No. 322)

“Bloops!”—quel cunning complement to last week’s “Well, *hoop Dee Doo!” Last week, a subtract-a-letter theme; this week, it’s an add-a-bigram (a/k/a two consecutive letters) venture. Similar to last week, the question-marked clues lead to some deeply smile-making results, all derived from a wide range of base phrases. And, once again, there are lots of highlights to be found in the remainder of the grid—all of which made this midsummer’s solve a highly entertaining one.

  • 17A. [Plastered “Laura” director?] BLOTTO PREMINGER. Supoib. After the witch hunt that led to the blacklist in Hollywood, PREMINGER was one of the directors instrumental in reinstating screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to the pantheon of the industry’s “best.” Otto Preminger, not known for drinking to excess…
  • 29A. [Mistake in a vertical crossword answer?] DOWN BLUNDER. Oof! Mine was HOTEL ROOMS for HOTEL RATES, because I was rationalizing that pix of rooms might count as [Figures on Marriott’s website]. Wrong. Down Under, as in “G’day, mate!”
  • 46A. [Hitman tells all?] KILLER BLABS. Hah! Funny on its own, but there’s also another connection to last week’s puzz with its {W}HITMAN’S SAMPLER. Along those same lines, notice how the last letter of [Search a perp] FRISK crosses the “K” in KILLER while the last of [“The Teflon Don”] GOTTI crosses the “I.” Oh—and while we’re in felony territory, there’s STEAL [Filch] crossing FRISK and GOTTI directly above KILLER. Killer abs (take yer pick).
  • 61A. [Tony’s sexy airship?] HOT BLAIR BALLOON. Careful! Don’t want anyone upsetting the apple cart, so to speak. Here I feel like we have an example that’s challenging to parse. Probably because of that possessive “Tony’s.” BLAIR’S HOT BALLOON is definitely not gonna cut it, but I feel like that’s what the clue is asking for. I understand how the fill wants to work, but it feels forced compared to those elegant other three. Hot air balloon.

But this is scarcely enough to put me in a SNIT. Not with the likes of NO-GOODNIKS on deck. That one, colorfully clued as [Dirty, rotten scoundrels] (see GOTTI, above…), is a beaut. Ditto: SNIVELS, MEASLES and TYCOONS. That’s a terrific trio of sevens. And we get more strong fill with PRE-FAB (we’ve had prefabricated homes in the U.S. since the early 20th century: thank you, Sears), SAID SO [Laid down the law] (as in the parental “because I SAID SO”), the BROILS of summertime [Suffers in the sun], ON HOLD, those partying RAVERS (at some kind of BASH, no doubt), the attitudinous SNIDE, DEVIL, that SCALY reptile skin and the far more adorable KOALA (who comes from… Down Under and is the protagonist in Koala Down Under—just to pull it all together).

Least fave fill? I’m never particularly keen on alphabet runs like the one we get with today’s [String after E] FGH combo. But they get constructors out of some tight spots and come with the territory. So, nothing DIRE here.

And as far as RECAPS go, this brings mine to an end. Hope you enjoyed the solve and, if you’re so inclined, will choose to share your thoughts. Adios til next week, then—and keep solving!

And pulling things together again: this hot air balloon floating by the London Eye Ferris wheel, constructed in the early years of the Tony Blair Prime Ministry.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Village Voice”—Laura’s writeup

WSJ 8.1.17

WSJ – 8/1/17 – Burnikel – solution

  • 17a [Feature of many Shakespeare comedies]: HAPPY ENDING
  • 27a [Nancy Pelosi, e.g.]: MINORITY LEADER
  • 48a [Oft-marinated salad addition]: ARTICHOKE HEART
  • 63a [Winter weather map line]: ARCTIC FRONT
  • 62dR [Hit song literally hinted at by the answers to the starred clues]: “Y.M.C.A.”

Young man, I was once in your shoes. I said, I was down and out with the blues. I felt no man cared if I were alive; I felt the world was so jive. And then I solved this puzzle, in which the letters Y, M, C, and A hide in the four theme entries: the “ending” of HAPPY, the “leader” of MINORITY, the “heart” of ARTICHOKE, and the “front” of ARCTIC.

It’s astonishing now, almost forty years after its release, how much this song is an example of gay culture hiding in plain sight. I heard it constantly at the roller disco in my childhood, it’s played at Yankee Stadium for the 7th Inning Stretch — there’s even a version with the Minions! As a friend calls it, “straightwashing at its finest”: a song from an album entitled Cruisin’ became a hetero wedding anthem. Apparently (and hilariously) many people still have no idea. Village People founder Jacques Morali died of AIDS in 1991; his colleague Victor Willis won a landmark copyright case in 2012 that reverted the rights to this and other Village People songs back to him as author.

Fill-wise, we have the lovely long downs SEA MONSTER [3d: Image on some old maps], EGO MASSAGE [31d: Compliments to a big star], and BEE VENOM [41d: Toxin that may cause an anaphylactic reaction]; we’ve also got ALPO OREO OHO, but IMO I don’t notice these as much in a Burnikel grid because the overall execution is done with such ART [24d: Creative class].

The only way to get rid of an earworm is with a new earworm, so here’s REHAB [39a: Detox locale]:

Jay Kaskel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 1 17, no 0801

Fun theme! Quaint exclamations are clued as if they are specifically related to a component word:

  • 17a. [“Shocking!,” to an astronomer?], “OH, MY STARS!”
  • 25a. [“Shocking!,” to an Ohio tourist?], “HOLY TOLEDO!”
  • 36a. [“Shocking!,” to a seamstress?], “I’LL BE DARNED!”
  • 50a. [“Shocking!,” to a teetotaler?], “WELL, I NEVER!” I’m not sure I get this one. I know that if you order mixed drinks made with non-premium booze at a bar, those are “well drinks,” but I have no idea what that well relates to. I don’t connect the word strongly to alcohol at all.
  • 59a. [“Shocking!,” to a Thanksgiving guest?], “GOOD GRAVY!” I actually say this one fairly often, though I don’t much care for gravy.

Aside from the WELL thing, I really like how the theme comes together.

Highlights in the fill: HUNKERED, CLOROX, a pinball BUMPER, VROOM. Nice to see SEE TO IT instead of the clunkier SEE TO.

Most Tuesday-hostile fill: Not much, really. Maybe APSE, E’ER, LEGATO, BEEB. The puzzle tuezzed less than a great many Tuesday puzzles do.

4.25 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “5 PM” – Derek’s write-up

This theme puts in mind the shopping site 6pm.com, even though I don’t think I have ever purchased anything from there! What does the theme mean? The letters “PM” are hidden in each theme answer, and there are five of them!

  • 18A [Recycled iron, maybe] SCRAP METAL
  • 20A [B-movie bad guy who emerges from the deep] SWAMP MONSTER
  • 39A [Decisive statement] I’VE MADE UP MY MIND!
  • 55A [“I’m gonna do it no matter what!”] TRY AND STOP ME! – This could easily be the clue for 39A!
  • 60A [They might appear when right-clicking] POP-UP MENUS

I actually liked this theme a lot, even thought it doesn’t appear to be overly complicated. Everything tied up in a nice neat bow, and lots of great entries in usual Matt J fashion. A solid 4.4 stars.

A few more notes:

    • 22A [Sound heard during shearing] BAA – I’ve never sheared a sheep. On my bucket list!
    • 63A [Shearing stuff] WOOL – I noticed the shearing task mentioned twice. I wonder if this was intentional? It does seem like one too many references to sheep-shearing. WOOL can be clued in many, many ways. Just my two cents.
    • 67A [Star of “Seagulls! (Stop It Now): A Bad Lip Reading”] YODA – Where does Matt find this stuff??

  • 10D [It’s served in the video game “Tapper”] BEER – I am not familiar with this game, but it makes sense!
  • 21D [City SSW if Kansas City (that has nothing to do with bribing DJs)] PAOLA – Clever clue, even if I am not familiar with DJ Paola!
  • 36D [“Rapa __” (1994 film)] NUI – Never heard of it. As you might surmise, it takes place on Easter Island, and stars the crossword famous ESAI Morales!
  • 51D [Billy Blanks workout system] TAE BO – Speaking of crossword fame, this routine is easily the most crossword famous workout!

Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

A nice collaboration puzzle today, which which surprisingly has some nice long answers that are simply crossers, but it is OK because the theme answers are clearly starred. Here they are:

  • 17A [Quick checkout choice] EXPRESS LINE
  • 57A [Wedding gown attachment] BRIDAL TRAIN
  • 11D [Social networking site with a math sign in its logo] GOOGLE PLUS
  • 29D [“Want to try it?”] ARE YOU GAME?
  • 38A [Hollywood’s créme de la créme … and where to find the ends of the answers to starred clues?] A-LIST

There is also a clever revealer in the middle; I forgot to mention that at the beginning! Surely you are all very familiar with the terms a-line,  A-Train A Plus, and “A” Game. It took me a while to get what was going on after I solved, but maybe because it was such a smooth solve that the answers just kept flowing. And this theme you kinda do have to go back and see what you missed. 4.3 stars.

Just a few more mentions:

  • 1A [Pose in yoga studios] ASANA – I don’t do yoga often, and perhaps I should, because I am not very limber at all!
  • 27A [Flowering shrubs associated with Augusta National Golf Club] AZALEAS – One of my dream destinations, even with the overtly racist and sexist history at that property!
  • 42A [Resort island near Venezuela] ARUBA – Another dream destination, but with not nearly the baggage as Augusta. I don’t think ….
  • 6D [Macaroni side dish] PASTA SALAD – I made this harder than it was. I tried to think of a side dish that went WITH macaroni, not one that CONTAINED macaroni!
  • 12D [Federal humanitarian org.] USAID – They are found at this site. I am not that familiar with them, but they seem to do some good.
  • 30D [New Year’s Day floral procession] ROSE PARADE – Along with PASTA SALAD, they are the ten-letter non-theme entries. I have no desire to go to the Rose Parade. I know it’s a big deal in SoCal, and my uncle lives right near the stadium, but I just don’t get it at all. Just play the football games!

Hope your week is going well. See you on Saturday!

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14 Responses to Tuesday, August 1, 2017

  1. Ethan says:

    Ah, yes. That hotbed of tourism, Toledo, OH. I pushed to have my honeymoon there but the idea was shot down.

    • Shteyman says:

      Toledo, Spain, strikes as a much more well-known tourist destination, but then the answer would have to be SANTO TOLEDO.

      On a different note, does the byline in the WSJ today say “Zhouqin” and the one in LAT “C.C.”?

    • Papa John says:

      Toledo has a respectable art museum, as well as Cedar Point Amusement Park. There are worse places for a honeymoon. Every bit as good as Niagara — except for The Falls.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I, too, liked it. Tuesdays are often a little lost, betwixt and between. This one seemed to hit the ideal Tuesday vibe, with a good theme and not much contortion.

    Amy, I thought that the critical word in WELL, I NEVER was actually “Never” not “Well”, as in “I never touch the stuff…”

    And it was fun to see all the wine in the grid and clues, as a temptation…

    • Lois says:

      I just read another favorable review of the Times puzzle questioning the WELL, I NEVER theme answer and focusing on WELL. Huda has already explained the theme answer above, that the focus is on I NEVER, but I want to say that it was my favorite one in the bunch! Fun puzzle.

  3. Lise says:

    Hi Derek! The PAOLA pun is a reference to payola, which is when radio DJs take money from recording companies to play their songs perhaps out of proportion to how often they would normally be played.

    The concept was featured on an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, a show that I was addicted to, back in the day. Probably before your time.

    I liked all the puzzles today; great Tuesday! The WSJ had me humming along. It’s always great to remember YMCA in its original and Minion editions.

  4. PhilR says:

    WSJ: REHAB [39a: Detox locale] is, in general, wrong. Detox[ing] is a medical procedure during which the addict is given palliative drugs to relieve the immediate symptoms of withdrawal, generally performed in a hospital. After 2-3 days, when the patient is stable, they go to a rehab center. There are, of course, rehabs which offer detox services and hospitals where they offer rehab services, but the two are quite distinct, and the overlap is relatively small.

  5. RAD26 says:

    If the revealer were changed the WSJ puzzle would have made a great Friday meta. I had no idea where the YMCA fit in. Very clever.

  6. DRC says:

    WSJ was the best they’ve had in quite a long time.

  7. Vince says:

    “Well, I never!” Is just an expression and does not refer to any drink. It may have been a line in old comedy shows, like something Jack Benny might have said.

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