Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jonesin' 3:33 (Derek) 


LAT 3:06 (Derek) 


NYT 3:22 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:25 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 330), “It’s a Set-Up!”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 9/26 (No. 330)

Sometimes the puzzle goddesses really do know how to make me a happy solver. Case in point: today’s puzz. How best to enjoy it? STEP ONE: pay attention to that title. We’re meant to understand it in the literal manner of good wordplay. And LIZ (Gorski, not [Designer Claiborne]) works it to give us a fresh theme, cleverly executed with four phrases, all very much in the language. After that? Then you can take some pleasure in the way the remainder of the grid is completed with more than A BIT of lively fill.

At first blush, the theme entries seem to be incomplete. Wait: is this actually a rebus puzzle, where one square will contain multiple letters or some sort of symbol to finish the phrase? There’s never been one in Crossword Nation to date. Could this be a first? Uh, not today. The trick today is that the last three letters of each full theme phrase are the same as those in the word “SET.” However, the horizontal squares for each themer end on the letter “S.” Look UP, tyro solver, and directly above that “S” you’ll find the missing “E-T,” hiding in plain sight. Et voilà—as the title promises, you have your themer in its entirety, sharing grid space with the independent vertical fill (coming at it from the opposite direction). Very crafty, no? Appropriately, since the theme is twisty, the theme cluing is all straightforward.

  • 16A. [Since day one] FROM THE OUT{SET}, which shares space with {TES}TED.
  • 23A. [“Please stay calm!”] “DON’T GET UP{SET}!, hooking up with BI{TES}.
  • 49A. [Roomy storage for a wardrobe] WALK-IN CLO{SET}, joining DE{TES}TS.
  • 61A. [Bittersweet “Fiddler on the Roof” song] “SUNRISE, SUN{SET}, MELDed with {TES}SA (as in actress Thompson).

Newbies: did you throw down your pencils or curse your solving apps crying, [“It’s NO USE!”…], or did you stick with the solve, reconsider the title and then see the two-way up/down-patterns emerge to finish the phrases? Here’s hoping for the latter, but do post your thoughts. I, for one, welcomed this change of pace and felt that the cluing helped make this one very smooth solve—all around the grid.

How else to get NEBULIZER? Great word—but not exactly one most of us see or use on a regular basis. Still, the crosses make it eminently gettable and the high-profile of the word itself is in keeping with this kicked-up-a-notch theme. ELOCUTION ain’t too shabby neither, by the by.

Other highlights would have to include:

  • 23A. “DON’T GET UPSET!” meets words-to-the-wise for Bart…

    ARTISAN, HAD A COW [Lost it, like Bart Simpson], NEOCONS [One-time liberals] (because it happens…), STEP ONE and OPEN TOE [Shoe style that shows off a pedicure]. No judgement here… but was amused that the anatomical EAR CANAL dropped from the final “E” of (the anatomical) TOE. And then, was further amused when I recalled that bicentennial celebrations for the (almost homophonic) Erie Canal started this past July. (Almost homophones. Sometimes it takes so little to amuse me…)

  • MANIAC with its fandom clue, TRANCE with its zombie reference, and DIM SUM (yum) with its culinary approach.
  • Thinking about AB FAB and BOGIE, USAIN Bolt and Joe TORRE, TOSCA and GAL Gadot, an INNIE v. an outie, the poetry in a word like BOUGH—all these did a lot to keep this puzzle ALIVE for me.

What worked best/was the most evocative for you—or do you have a NIT to pick? All comments welcome. Have a great week, all. Keep stopping by—and keep solving!

Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Head for Home”—Laura’s write-up

WSJ - 9.26.17

WSJ – 9.26.17 – Cee – Solution

  • [17a: Red herring]: FALSE LEAD
  • [26a: Quick trip to Starbucks]: COFFEE RUN
  • [38a: Something kids go up and then down]: PLAYGROUND SLIDE
  • [52a: Hans Zimmer creation]: FILM SCORE
  • [62aR: “Can’t beat that price!” or a hint to the end of the starred answers]: IT’S A STEAL

We have a stolen base theme, with LEAD (i.e. the runner takes a lead off the base he or she is on), RUN (he or she heads to the next base), SLIDE (on in to the base being stolen), and SCORE (if he or she ends up stealing home) — all leading up to IT’S A STEAL. Apparently, base-stealing is less common in MLB than it used to be. Which is too bad, because it seems quite exciting to watch. Interesting to have DIRT CHEAP [35d: Bearing an unbeatable price] crossing IT’S A STEAL, alongside SNAKE OIL [10d: Shifty salesman’s offering].


What else? I liked RAW DATA [28a: Figures for analysts], VIOLA with a Shakespeare clue [60a: “Twelfth Night” heroine] (and since there are five letters instead of six, it’s not OLIVIA, the other “Twelfth Night” heroine), and NO DICE [“Forget it!”]. Not crazy about AS PER [11d: In accordance with], and I’m pretty sure that even though ASL (American Sign Language) is not oral or spoken, it is still verbal, because it has words and grammar, so I’m not sure that [61d: Nonverbal communication system: Abbr.] is an accurate clue.

Joy Behar & Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 26 17, no 0926

Oh! Joy Behar was always my favorite member of The View. I haven’t been watching daytime TV in years, but Joy’s got that all-important ability to cut through bullshit while being funny. Here, celebrity Joy teams up with constructor Lynn Lempel on a comedian-name pun puzzle. Each theme answer turns one word in a familiar phrase into a sound-alike comedian surname:

  • 17a. [Comedian Kevin after having a sloppy jelly snack?], PURPLE HART. (Purple Heart.) The “sloppy jelly snack” construction is a bizarre one.
  • 25a. [Get frisky with comedian Freddie?], PAW PRINZE. (Paw prints, a bit of a pronunciation stretch.) I loved Chico and the Man when I was a kid, and we lost Freddie Prinze (Sr.) much too soon.
  • 40a. [Comedian Richard being sent to a psychiatric facility?], PRYOR COMMITMENT. (Prior commitment.) Given Richard Pryor’s complicated addiction history, the theme answer feels sort of tasteless. But would Pryor himself shy away from saying something because it might offend?
  • 51a. [Cause of comedian Roseanne’s black eye?], BARR FIGHT. (Bar fight.) Would be great to have more than one woman in this theme, but I can think of a bunch of comedians whose surnames don’t lend themselves to this sort of pun theme.
  • 62a. [Result of comedian Eric’s untied shoelaces?], FALLEN IDLE. (Fallen idol.) Idle feels like a bit of an outlier, as the others were all known largely or at least in part for their stand-up comedy.

Moving along to the surrounding fill, there was nothing that leapt out at me in terms of godawful fill that doesn’t belong in a Tuesday puzzle. Maybe ENO, not much else.  (Thanks, Lynn! You’re a gem.)

Five more things:

  • 37d. [St. Bernard during an avalanche, maybe], RESCUE DOG. That clue surprised me! These days, the most common meaning of rescue dog is a neglected, abused, or stray dog that is “rescued” by being adopted out of a shelter or from a rescue organization. Does anyone know if St. Bernards still play a role in mountain/snow rescues? This past week, search and rescue dogs in Mexico have been working hard to find earthquake survivors. They’re good dogs, Brent.
  • 13a. [Schiff on the House Intelligence Committee], ADAM. Yes, we all think of the Adam Schiff character played by Steven Hill on the old Law & Order.
  • 60a. [Big unicycle part], TIRE. Technically, even a small unicycle has a tire. #TakingCluesLiterally
  • 7d. [Nocturnal marsupial], KOALA. Did I know they were nocturnal?? This feels like new info.
  • 12d. [Essman of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”], SUSIE. The show’s coming back for a new season, years after it ended! Susie Essman’s character is an inspiration to me. Here’s a 10-minute collection of her finest Susie vs. Larry clips. “You misanthropic moron” is one of the few printable things she says in these scenes.

4.1 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Mass Appeal” – Derek’s write-up

I was flying through solving this one, and I absolutely had no idea what the theme was until the very end. Because that is where the revealer is! Of course, at that point, I had to go back through and read all of the theme answers again, and I was impressed because I didn’t think there were this many examples! Let me list what is going on:

  • 17A [When to listen to 1950s jazz?] BOPPER TIME
  • 33A [Photo that anyone can take?] EASY PICTURE
  • 43A [Place to nap between two mountains?] SLEEP VALLEY
  • 61A [“Just calm down with your iPhone releases, OK?”] CHILL APPLE
  • 71A [Words that can precede either half of the theme entries] “THE BIG”

See what I mean? The Big Sleep, The Big Valley and The Big Chill are all movies, “the Big Bopper,” “the Big Easy” and “the Big Apple” are all nicknames (for a singer, New Orleans (or Ernie Els!) and New York City), and “the big time” and “the big picture are both used in common slang phrases (“He hit the big time!”; “Get the big picture!”). Very clever, and without knowing the theme early on, this led to a nice “a-ha!” moment at the end. Lotsa fun; 4.7 stars from me!

A few more things:

  • 49A [“Problematic with __ Kasher” (Comedy Central series)] MOSHE – Matt’s weekly pop culture reference that I don’t know!
  • 7D [“Toxic” singer, casually] BRITNEY – As in Britney Spears. Not her most famous song, I don’t think, but it’s up there. (Actually, according to Spotify plays, it is!) She just doesn’t have that many!
  • 22D [Pixelated] BLOCKY – Makes me think of the movie Pixels, which I have not seen!
  • 37D [Factory fixture, maybe] ROBOT – Are they really going to replace all workers? I know they have replaced some, but I don’t see it for years yet. I could be wrong!
  • 44D [Costar of “The Hangover” and “The Office”] ED HELMS – Was he in anything else?!
  • 45D [Original “Saturday Night Live” cast member Newman] LARAINE – My Across Lite cut off the last name Newman, so this was a tad harder than it should have been! She is still alive, which is significant since SNL is over 40 years old and a lot of those original cast members are no longer around. She was a Conehead!
  • 50D [Neighbor of Silver Springs, Florida] OCALA – The company I work for sent a bunch of linemen to Florida, and I think they were near this area. They were certainly in a lot of areas in Florida!

See you next week for another Jonesin’!

Peter Gordon’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Fireball Crossword’s Peter Gordon is our constructor today! I got to know him a little better when I interviewed him for a write-up for this very blog site (which can be found here). I have enjoyed his puzzles for years, and this puzzle follows the LAT pattern of having a revealer theme entry at the end, although the clue for that is LONG!

  • 20A [Julie Andrews’ “The Sound of Music” role] MARIA VON TRAPP
  • 25A [Jimmy Fallon hosts it] THE TONIGHT SHOW
  • 43A [Avengers member with a patriotic shield] CAPTAIN AMERICA
  • 50A [9/26/1957 Broadway debut featuring the consecutive songs found at the start of 20-Across, the middle of 25-Across and the end of 43-Across] WEST SIDE STORY – I said it was long!

I actually HAVE seen the West Side Story movie years ago, but I may watch it again soon, since it has been probably 30 years since I have seen it. This is another classic I can share with my youngest son one of these days! Peter is a master at crossword constructing, and it is an honor to blog one of his puzzles! A solid 4.6 stars today, with an added bonus because of getting a few show tunes in my head! Are you humming “Maria,” “Tonight” or ” America” yet?

Some more notes:

  • 35A [Gathering for fans of graphic novels, anime, etc.] COMICON – I have never been to one of these. The closest to me is either Chicago or Indy.
  • 61A [Foolish] DIPPY – I thought INANE or SILLY would fit here. I have described someone as DIPPY before. I think it was on of my brothers!
  • 21D [Gas brand that had a torch in its logo] AMOCO – He says “had” because now it is merged with BP. Does this logo take you back a few years?
  • 22D [Florida’s Boca __] RATON – This city is on the ocean side, so I think the hurricane may have been kind to this area. The gulf side I believe was slightly harder hit. I hope the tennis stadium is OK!
  • 55D [Play a kazoo] HUM – This is something I haven’t done for years. I still consider myself a virtuoso on this instrument!
  • 58D [TV’s “Science Guy”] NYE – As in Bill Nye, who has a show on Netflix now, which I haven’t seen either!

That’s all for today. Enjoy your week!

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8 Responses to Tuesday, September 26, 2017

  1. Byron says:

    Calling koalas “nocturnal” is very generous. They sleep about 22 hours a day.

  2. jim hale says:

    Never heard of Essman or “Curb your enthusiasm” so I played the clip… yikes, not my cup of tea. The puzzle was a typical Tuesday for me.

  3. AV says:

    This was a beautiful Tuesday. Fun theme, and loved the four long downs – that was great fill – HARDYBOYS, DALAILAMA, RESCUEDOG! And .. no awful fill. What’s not to like?

    • anon says:

      Seemed a bit heavy on proper names, given the theme. (ADAM, LOIS, SUSIE, DEEN, AMY, BAMBI, ENO, IDA.) But those long downs were excellent, and the theme was solid.

  4. Zulema says:

    Good puzzle. Even if I didn’t know anyone but Roseanne’s name, it worked out fine.

  5. Norm says:

    Tribute puzzles can be rather blah. Peter’s LAT puzzle was excellent.

  6. Gareth says:

    PAWPRINZE made me think of this classic animated scene…

  7. clamato8 says:

    Susie Essman is one of Joy Behar’s best friends, so this nod is personal. Enjoyed this Tuesday puzzle a lot.

Comments are closed.