Friday, September 15, 2017

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 7:17 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:56 (Amy) 


Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 15 17, no 0915

Zippy puzzle, great fill! I slowed myself down a bit with the more-familiar MEDIA CIRCUS where MEDIA FRENZY belonged, but other than that, there were lots of gimmes for me.

Favorite fill: “I KNOW, RIGHT?” (we would also have accepted INORITE), FRENEMY, quaint “GRACIOUS ME,” ALL THAT JAZZ, SANTA CRUZ, “I’M BUYING,” MAUNA KEA in full (and getting credit for its undersea bulk), P.T. BARNUM, DEAD RINGER, HALF-CRAZED, THE RITZ, “HEY YOU,” and EYE TO EYE.

Grossest: ENOLA. The names in history that involve nuking civilian populations are no better than genocidal dictator names, are they?

Stalest: ARN, the [Royal son of the comics], from Prince Valiant. Although! I just learned that this comic strip is still running after 80 years. Who knew?

Five things:

  • 3d. [Who said “Without promotion, something terrible happens … nothing!”], P.T. BARNUM. There’s a musical biopic about Barnum coming out at the end of the year. Have there been any other musical biopics? Because this is a genre I’d avoid.
  • 7d. [It may be spoiled], ENDING. If you haven’t seen the Game of Thrones season finale yet, allow me to share the highlights with you. The Red Baby Shower sequence was absolutely bonkers, and I can’t believe Jaime lost another limb.
  • 10d. [Dirty cop?], HARRY. As in the recurring Clint Eastwood character, Dirty Harry Callahan.
  • 19d. [Retail giant since 1886], SEARS. Does Sears still count as a “giant”? If these numbers are accurate, Sears has closed 80% of its locations since 2010.
  • 48d. [Beseech], ADJURE. Raise your hand if you had the J and leapt at CAJOLE instead of the less-familiar ADJURE.

4.4 stars from me.

Gordon Johnson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “United Nations” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 9/15/17 • “United Nations” • Johnson • solution

A less optimistic title might have been “Border Disputes”.

  • 17a. [[A central Asian and an African find common ground]] TAJIKISTANZANIA (Tajikistan/Tanzania, tajikistanzania).
  • 26a. [[An African and a European find common ground]] NIGERMANY.
  • 48a. [[A Micronesian and a South American find common ground]] NAURUGUAY.
  • 62a. [[Two Central Americans find common ground]] NICARAGUATEMALA. (In actuality they’re quite close but separated by Honduras.)

So, mash-ups with constraints: names of nations, three-letter overlaps. Nicely done. The first two had me thinking it might be a fluid sequence, with the second region of one themer as the first in the next, and then perhaps circling around from the final themer’s second half back to the first’s first—a kind of circumnavigation, if you will.

(Glen Velez with Howard Levy, “Border States 2: Sixfold”, from Border States (1993)

47a [Country in the Fertile Crescent] SYRIA. Ooch, inelegant to have another nation in the grid but not part of the theme.

  • 1a [Alert also called a BOLO] APB. All Points Bulletin, Be On the LookOut.
  • 14a [Highly adaptable type] CHAMELEON. Metaphorically perhaps. In nature, chameleons are highly specialized creatures.
  • 37a [Terminus for all roads, in a saying] ROMEMīlle viae dūcunt hominēs per saecula Rōmam (“a thousand roads lead men forever to Rome”). 32d [Port of ancient 37 Across] OSTIA. Whoa.
  • 42a [Cretaceous carnivores, for short] T REXES, and TREXES sure looks odd in the grid like that. I’m inclined to think that most people would say ‘T rex’ or Tyrannosaurus rex, unchanged from the singular, for the plural. But what do I know about other people, really?
  • 29d [Spiral-horned African antelope] NYALA, Tragelaphus angasii or Tragelaphus buxtoni. Always nostalgic to see NYALA; it’s one of the few (relatively) well-known animals beginning with N and so was very handy for the variation of Geography I as a child insisted my parents play with me.
  • Cutesy clues for two of the longest downs: 10d [You may stick your tongue out at one] ORAL EXAM, 38d [Where to get off?] EXIT RAMP.
  • 59d [Like goji berry plants] CANY. Did not know this. In other trendy berry fill there’s 55d [Purple fruit on palms] AÇAÍ, which happens to symmetrically opposite if you invoke left-right symmetry. Oh look, here’s what comes up when I search (images) for goji acai: “Food Face-Off: The Berry Wars”. And apparently there’s another berry in the running: NONI! It’s like a crossword orgy.

Going to, uh, make some oatmeal now. With dried cranberries. So there!

Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Today’s puzzle’s revealer is atypically specific. DRAWTOWARD is an example of reversal in letter order – and four words undergo that transformation. The first two are the last word, the next two are the first word. This theme is pretty much endless. It could easily be a Sunday size. It follows that you can be pickier when it comes to theme answers. It was a bit on the flat side for me: GROCERYGAB (BAG), COMPULSIVERAIL (LIAR), BATKEYS (TAB), EVILFROMTHEMET (LIVE) (Seems to be a TV show???)

A lot of clues were way out of my wheelhouse today; guess it must be Friday: [Con ___: tempo marking], MOTO (vs. Mr. MOTO); SAPPORO as the [Oldest Japanese beer brand] not as an island; [Aids for romantic evenings], DIMMERS (had no idea where that was going!); [___ Bauer] for EDDIE (apparently a clothing chain in Americania); [Go ballistic] for RAISECAIN was oddly opaque too, despite a not too oblique clue…

2.5 Stars

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27 Responses to Friday, September 15, 2017

  1. Dinesh Krithivasan says:

    I had “I’m paying” for 1D and the across answers sounded equally plausible with it. I guess “I’m buying” is a more natural answer but wondering if anyone else out there had the same issue.

    • MattF says:

      Me. Canadian crooners and tango music are not strong points for me– but I did realize eventually that PAYING couldn’t be right.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I filled in IMPAYING first and frowned at the poorness of the entry. (I can’t hear anyone saying that at a bar.) Raised an eyebrow when I saw the PUB** crossing—and then read the clue for the singer, changed my answer to IMBUYING.

  2. artlvr says:

    Noted musical biopic: “Amadeus”, a 1984 American period drama film directed by Miloš Forman, adapted by Peter Shaffer from his stage play “Amadeus”. The film follows Italian composer Antonio Salieri at the court of Emperor Joseph II, and his jealous vendetta against his younger rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Not one to be avoided!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Did they sing to advance the plot or reveal characters’ feelings? I’m not remembering that. (I meant “biopic that’s also a musical,” since P.T. Barnum wasn’t a musician.)

    • artlvr says:

      Another I liked a lot was ” All That Jazz” of 1979 by and about Bob Fosse.

    • artlvr says:

      p.s. Another I liked a lot was ” All That Jazz” of 1979 by and about Bob Fosse.

    • David Glasser says:

      Does The Sound of Music count?

      • C.M. Chan says:

        As I recollect, there was a Broadway musical called “Barnum” a while back. I never saw it, but it was certainly popular. I believe Jim Dale played the title role (he of Harry Potter narration).

    • Jenni says:

      “Gypsy” is a musical biopic; it was on Broadway first, but they did make a movie out of it. Same for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Someone beat me to the Bob Fosse reference.

  3. dook says:

    There is the Cole Porter bio-pic, Night and Day, starring Cary Grant. There is another one about Rogers and Hart with Mickey Rooney. There is Yankee Doodle Dandy about George M. Cohan with James Cagney. Love Me or Leave Me with Cagney and Doris Day about the singer Ruth Etting. Lady Sings the Blues about Billie Holiday with Diana Ross. More recently, Ray and I Walk the Line were both Oscar winning examples. And I’ll throw in A Hard Day’s Night, though it’s a stretch.
    Overall, a lovely and rather easy Friday. I’ll take issue with the tube/tram clue/answer. The only place where one rides the Tube is in London where there are no trams.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      That’s what I thought until a recent clue in the WSJ caused me to look it up. There is a tram line on the south side of London. It serves 29 stations (compared to the 400-some Tube stations). So while you can’t use it to get all around London, I can’t fault the clue [Tube alternative].

  4. Joe Pancake says:

    For more on today’s NYT puzzle and some general Crossworld Olio (much more the latter than the former), feel free to check out my blog.

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    *makes list of movies to avoid*

    • Jenni says:

      “All That Jazz” is actually a really good film. I still want to see “I Walk The Line.”

    • Rick Narad says:

      If you don’t want to see “I Walk the Line,” you’ll probably also need to avoid “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I saw “All That Jazz” when it came out in theaters, I think. I heard “Walk Hard” wasn’t as funny as it wanted to be, so I never saw that one.

      But people!! Many of you are misconstruing what I’m asking about. Asking about a biopic about a non-musician that takes the form of a musical, and not biopics about musicians. Also, I find the general concept of musicals to be mostly suspect (“West Side Story,” couple in love are on a balcony together, it’s super-romantic, they’re about to kiss … and then he turns away from her to sing “Maria”? No. This is ridiculous), and I’m not inclined to watch them.

      • Lise says:

        How about Jesus Christ, Superstar?

      • Shawn P says:

        I’m sure that Hamilton will eventually become a movie, but to add to Amy’s point, film adaptations of musicals, even good musicals, tend to be terrible.

      • john farmer says:

        I think on the balcony they sing “Tonight.” But in any romantic film, the goal is not to get the lovers to kiss but to delay the kiss for as long as possible. Having them break out into song is one good way to do it.

        I get what you’re saying that characters breaking out into song is ridiculous on a certain level. It’s not like real life. It’s a convention of the genre. That said, not every musical follows the same rules. In “Cabaret” the songs are performed in only musically realistic settings, mostly in the club onstage. In “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” every single line of dialog is sung, whether in a dining room or gas station.

        So much for musicals. What about other genres? Are they more like real life? Movies with zombies and vampires and wizards and dragons and monsters and talking animals? Well, maybe not. Sci-fi and westerns and rom-coms and thrillers and slapstick comedies all have their own conventions and various levels of ridiculousness. For cinematic and dramatic reasons, even movies based on true stories take liberties with the real-life events they claim to represent.

        Musicals and other movies all take liberties. Sometimes it’s done well, sometimes not, and anyone can like or not like whatever they choose. But the conventions are all part of the art form, and for the most part they’re something the audience accepts and expects.

        Someday they’ll make a film adaptation of “Hamilton” and you may want to think twice about avoiding it. The historical record shows no evidence of African-Americans in powdered wigs singing hip-hop among the Founding Fathers — it’s ridiculous! — but I hear it works.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I’ll wait for “Hamilton” to become a movie since then I’ll have access to closed captions. Stage productions make so few showings accessible to the hearing-impaired, and I’d be wasting my many dollars to see the show without the written words easily accessible.

  6. Tim in NYC says:

    There’ve been some great musical biopics in the remote past. As a kid I must have watched “Yankee Doodle Dandy” 100 times. More recently, “Topsy-Turvey” was wonderful. Also, “A Coal Miner’s Daughter” and the one where Jessica Lange plays Patsy Cline. Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf; Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles.

    All those pix are about great musicians featuring their music, so how can they miss? “Barnum” would be a different animule, since he wasn’t a composer and the music would have to be original. Much harder to pull off, IMO.

  7. Zulema says:

    Lost what I was writing here. AMY, I fully agree about ENOLA but what is that about INORITE? Just want to say i couldn’t find a toe hold at first for quite a while on the NYT but then it all came together and gelled beautifully. Solved the CHE first. Usually it’s worked earlier, but had house guests all week.

  8. Rick Narad says:

    I got hung up on TAJIKISTANZANIA for a while. I spotted the “KIS” and immediately started looking for a way to get “Kisangani” to fit. Of course, it’s a couple of letters too short and it’s a city not a nation.

  9. Gareth says:

    I can’t quite put my finger on anything specific but Joedamon’s themeless had me smiling vaguely for most of the solve, and I think that’s the goal of crossword puzzles, right?

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