Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jonesin' 5:31 (Derek) 


LAT 2:52 (Derek) 


NYT 3:35 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:07 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 329), “A Few Good Men”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 9/19 (No. 329)

Nupe. The title is not a reference to the marines or to Aaron Sorkin’s play about the marines. Instead, in a theme-rich puzzle, it celebrates five men whose names include the letter sequence B-O-N, which adds up to 42D. BON [“Good” to a francophile…]. Each of the five themers is starred today, and two pairs of ’em overlap each other in the grid. Additionally, each of the clues specifies that francophile’s particular fave, as in [Francophile’s favorite…]

  • 17A. *[…Duran Duran singer?] SIMON LE BON. Love that his father is John LE BON. If only his mom were Yvonne…
  • 21A. *[…California congressman] SONNY BONO. Who met a rather grim demise on the ski slopes of South Lake Tahoe. But in its variety—pop star, mayor of Palm Springs, US congressman in the House of Representatives—what an extraordinary life he led.
  • 35A. *[…Sherlock Holmes portrayer?] BASIL RATHBONE. Between 1939 and 1946 (well before Benedict Cumberbatch was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye), he made 14 films with Nigel Bruce as Watson—the two of them portraying the characters in radio plays as well. And in 1948, this Brit took home the Tony for his portrayal of Dr. Sloper in The Heiress. The guy had real acting chops!
  • 52A. *[…Italian mathematician?] FIBONACCI. He of the numerical sequence. Birth name? Leonardo Bonacci. Here’s how he got the name we know him by.
  • 58A. […New Jersey rocker?] JON BON JOVI. NÉE John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. (Sorry, Bruce!)

I think this is a great crew of guys, but wish the pronunciation of BON were consistent, Mr. (long “O”) RATHBONE being the main outlier. Nice, though, that we get the discrete BON in the first and last entries.

Nice, too, the long downs of BITE INTO and RAW NERVE. But talk about VOCAB, how about the fill that abuts them, namely AMOEBOID and SMOOTHEN respectively. The first is a 50-¢er for [Asymmetric, like some basic organisms], inferrable if tough; the latter, rather poetic in a 19th century kind of way, no? Got the SMOOTH- part easily enough, but it took me a while to be confident about how to complete the word. I like both of them, just think they may be tough for newbies. Especially when the clue for SMOOTHEN, [De-crease] is part of a matched set, since we first encounter [De-crease?] as the clue for PRESS.

Another good man…

As for mid-range fill, we get loads of sixes representing a lively cultural mix: religion SYNODS, science fiction authors (Isaac) ASIMOV, classic film roles MR. MOTO, geography and language ALEPPO, ANGOLA and NEPALI, epigrammatic rock icons LENNON [John who said, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”]. Plenty to FEED ON here! Ditto ORATED and ASHORE, and especially AFFAIRS and ON A JAG.

There’re also other examples along the lines of those paired [De-crease] clues that work to unify the solving experience. But this time it’s two colloquial turn-downs and one equivocation by way of “I’M SET” [“No more for me, thanks”] and “I PASS” [“Not me”], and “I MAY” [Noncommittal words]; and the parallel cluing for two markers of time, [60-min. units] and [52-wk. periods] for HRS and YRS. If you didn’t know it before, I’m a great fan of this kind of “internal glue.” Now ya know!

And now I take my leave for today. Hope all’s well enough in your world as we continue to navigate the new world order. The puzzles can make for a fine constant to balance the stresses of the day. So… you know the drill: keep solving and do stop by again next week!

Charlie Oldham’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pirated”—Laura’s write-up

WSJ 9.19.17 Solution

WSJ – Oldham – 9.19.17 – Solution

Today, Tuesday, Septembaaarrr 19, 2017, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, mateys, so we aaarrr thus privy to a pirate theme:

  • [16a: Some plays by Kareem Abdul-Jabbaaarrr!]: HOOK SHOTS
  • [24a: Exercise regimens performed resting on one’s foreaaarrrms!]: PLANK WORKOUTS
  • [38a: Nickname for the site of Glacier National Paaarrrk!]: TREASURE STATE (i.e. Montana)
  • [50a: Sea creature that resembles the maaarrrlin!]: SWORDFISH

And three bonus pirate-related entries:

  • [1a: Pirate attack]: RAID
  • [30a: Do some pirating]: ROB
  • [42a: Peter who battled pirates]: PAN

And an entry I just made up that is not in the puzzle:

  • [“Aaarrr you free tonight?,” e.g.]: BOOTY CALL

Q. What’s a pirate’s favorite restaurant?
A. Aaarrrby’s.

Hey Laura, aaarrr you going to say anything about the rest of the puzzle, or is your entire post going to be pirate jokes? Aye, the fill, ye scurvy dogs: I’m not a tremendous fan of prepositional phrases, such as WAIT UP, HINTS AT, and TROD ON — just saw LETO (as in Jared) in yesterday’s BEQ and thought, “LE TO? like IN TO? UP TO? Is LE a new gender-neutral preposition I don’t know?” — but they can help out. GIANT FIR [34d: Tall tree of the Pacific coast] felt a little green-paint-y, but that is apparently the common name for Abies grandis. Loved random trivia like [43a: White Rabbit’s lament]: I’M LATE, [53a: Letter before Quebec in the phonetic alphabet]: PAPA, and [31d: Global traveler Nellie]: BLY.

“I answer hard acrostics, I’ve a pretty taste for paradox…”

Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 19 17, no 0919

I’ve seen silent-letter themes before but I don’t think I’ve seen one with SILENT PARTNER (57a. [Nonactive member of a firm … or what G, H and W each have in 20-, 29- and 49-Across?]) as the revealer. Here, each theme answer has two words, each of which contains the same silent letter.

  • 20a. [Yard displays at election time], CAMPAIGN SIGNS. How did I never notice the two silent G’s?
  • 29a. [Mongol Empire founder], GENGHIS KHAN. Hmm, not convinced those H’s are silent, since this name is probably transliterated from another language. Certainly, Americans generally pronounce the name as if those H’s aren’t there.
  • 49a. [“Nope, guess again”], WRONG ANSWER. Really a lovely find.

Fresh Tuesday theme. Straightforward clues make the theme Tuesday-easy.

Five more things:

  • 3d. [Serving in Asia that’s taboo in the West], DOG MEAT. Honestly? If this entry was in a non-Asian constructor’s puzzle, it would completely appall me. Far too many bigots like to play with that “Asians eat dogs” stereotype. (And those people aren’t usually vegetarians, so their distaste for eating animals is a highly specific one.)
  • 42d. [Painful things to have removed], TONSILS. I filled in TATTOOS first! I did have my tonsils removed in my late 20s, and it hurt like a mofo. The doctor prescribed a bottle of viscous lidocaine to gargle with. You know what happens when you try to gargle with a thick, viscous substance? My lips and tongue were entirely numb for hours but my throat was still killing me.
  • 44d. [Source of wood for baseball bats], ASH TREE. Thanks to the emerald ash borer, many of North America’s ash trees have already died or are on their way out. I’m always surprised now when I see a healthy ash. Anyway, baseball bat manufacturers are branching out to different trees.
  • 6d. [New York’s ___ Library], MORGAN. Needed all the crossings for this one.
  • 55a. [U.S. city whose name looks oxymoronic], HILO. Cute clue!

There’s something enormously pleasing to me about the juxtaposition of HAGGIS and PORSCHE. I don’t know why.

Four stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Grid Expectations” – Derek’s write-up

Themeless fun today. If I am counting correctly, this only has 66 words! There are super wide-open sections in this one, but nothing too overly obscure. I knocked it out in about 5-6 minutes, and after perusing the grid over, I am in awe of the relative easiness of the answers. Again, I learned a couple of words/terms/names, which I will mention below, but all had crossers that were simple enough. I have said it before, and I will repeat it: Matt is a genius at this, and his grids are some of the most enjoyable to solve. I would only say that about 10-12 people, and he is certainly in that class, in my opinion. 4.4 stars today.

Some of the highlights:

  • 22A [“Good cholesterol] HDL – Yes, I am embarking on my vegan journey, and I probably should have a physical, because I have no idea what my cholesterol levels are. I will call the doctor soon!
  • 35A [Hoopster Archibald and statistician Silver, for two] NATES – I know both of these, since I am old enough to remember “Tiny” Archibald playing for the Celtics!
  • 46A [Bikini or Brazilian, e.g.] WAX JOB – This seems contrived, but I have never spoken to anyone about having this done to me!
  • 49A [Microsoft’s counterpart to Siri and Alexa] CORTANA – I don’t normally use any of these. Still not comfortable talking to my phone/computer, and I don’t even have a microphone on my desktop PC. And when I do say something, they don’t always understand me!
  • 23D [Dr. of old pajamas] DENTON – These are the PJs with the flap in the behind!
  • 30D [Drink from India or Sri Lanka] PEKOE TEA – Speaking of veganism, I drink more tea now. Not brave enough to tackle kombucha yet!
  • 31D [Author Christopher whose writing inspired “Cabaret”] ISHERWOOD – Took me a minute to remember his name. And no, I haven’t seen this movie either!
  • 36D [“Possession” actress Isabelle] ADJANI – A new name to me!
  • 37D [__ Farm (cheap wine brand)] BOONE’S – Known for the ugly hangover headaches!

See next week for another Jonesin’!

Matthew Sewell’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

I haven’t done a Matthew Sewell puzzle since, oh, Saturday! This one is definitely a lot easier than his Saturday Stumper constructions! He doesn’t disappoint, either, with the trademark LAT revealer smack dab in the middle:

  • 17A [Extemporaneous, as a speech] OFF THE CUFF
  • 27A [Appointed White House overseer] CHIEF OF STAFF
  • 49A [Laundry service option] FLUFF AND FOLD
  • 64A [Beanstalks giant’s chant] “FEE FI FO FUM!”
  • 40A [Not suitable for military service … or an apt description of 17-. 27-, 49- and 64-Across] FOUR-F

From crosswords, we are all familiar with the ONE-A classification; I am not sure I have heard much of this other end of the spectrum. I was a tad young during the draft dodging years, and now I am old enough to be able to say the if they conscript me now, we are losing BADLY! A nice 78-worder that is a relaxing change from the weekend toughies. 4.2 stars.

Just a few things:

  • 21A [Near-perfect bridge feat] SMALL SLAM – I have always wanted to learn how to play bridge well. I was born too late!
  • 56A [DJ known for playing novelty tunes] DR. DEMENTO – This seems to go waaaay back! I remember hearing about him when I was in middle school! Wikipedia says 1978 to 1992 was the heyday of his syndicated show, so that does put me in middle school!
  • 71A [English writer Edward Bulwer-__] LYTTON – More Wikipedia info for you. I didn’t know he first wrote, “It was a dark and stormy night” and ” The pen is mightier than the sword!”
  • 8D [__ terrible; difficult child, in French] ENFANT – I have dealt with a few of these in my day. Otherwise known as Bebe’s kids!
  • 10D [Multi-discipline strength-training program] CROSSFIT – There are a couple of these gyms even here in Indiana. I’m not joining.
  • 35D [Memorable clown] BOZO – My older brother was on Romper Room years ago, a kid’s show based in Chicago. I remember going to the studio as a kid and actually seeing Bozo the Clown! I couldn’t have been older than about 4!
  • 62D [Big-screen format] IMAX – I haven’t seen an Imax movie in years. There is one about an hour from me; perhaps I will take my wife on a date!

Everyone have a great week, and I will see you on Saturday for another LAT puzzle.

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23 Responses to Tuesday, September 19, 2017

  1. Dr Fancypants says:

    The GALENA/OSLIN crossing was a near-Natick for me. I took a guess and nailed it, but that’s not a good cross, particularly for a Tuesday.

  2. RSP64 says:

    Glad to know I wasn’t the only one that filled in TATTOO.

  3. Howard B says:

    I’m no vegan, but DOG MEAT in a puzzle? No, just no.
    Nice theme, by the way.

    • Robert White says:

      Bad: DOGMEAT
      Worse: “If this entry was in a non-Asian constructor’s puzzle, it would completely appall me.”

  4. Richard says:

    I was a little surprised at DOG MEAT as well. That’s one of those weird racist ideas that I remember being hot conversation topics in 4th grade that I (luckily) haven’t encountered since then.

  5. sinking sands says:

    is IDENTIKIT really A Thing?!

  6. Emma says:

    When I visited Mongolia, the pronunciation (to my ears) was like Chinggis Khan

  7. Ethan says:

    I once tried to put RAT MEAT in a puzzle and Will didn’t like it. I don’t know why DOG MEAT is any better.

    • David L says:

      I’ve never knowingly eaten ratmeat but there was this cheapo Chinese takeout I used to frequent in my student days that was closed down by the health dept after an inspector found certain non-standard meat fare in the refrigerator…

  8. JohnH says:

    I was scratching my head over the repeated A’s in theme clues in the WSJ, but then I guess my image of pirates dates back to children’s books from decades ago and, as usual, I don’t watch the right movies from crossword setters. I never did make sense of this.

    BTW, I never made sense of “plucky” in 1A of the Saturday NYT either.

  9. lemonade714 says:

    The existence of dog meat farms in Korea is a reality that offends many, but it is a REALITY . It is slowly being phased out. Just because dogs have become pets we are horrified. But lambs, and calf and many other cute little animals are eaten.

    By the way, the two people who assigned a 1 to the puzzles rating are ridiculous. Amy rates it a 4.

    • ahimsa says:

      Nothing to do with today’s NY Times puzzle but thanks to your comment I just learned something new! I’ll share it in case I’m not the only one.

      I knew that average ratings were displayed but didn’t know that individual ratings were available. Only today did I figure out that individual ratings are shown in the “hover text” when the cursor hovers over the stars. D’oh!

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    It is so hypocritical to be grossed out by DOG MEAT in a puzzle but not say a word about it every time that PORK and HAM and BACON and BEEF are in the puzzle, or when animals are clued as meat. Your cultural biases are showing.

    • Ethan says:

      I’m confused, because you said that DOG MEAT is an entry that would “completely appall” you coming from most constructors. Are you calling yourself hypocritical?

  11. Pia says:

    SOANDSO for “scoundrel” was a stretch for me.

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