Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jonesin' 3:20 (Derek) 


LAT 3:45 (Derek) 


NYT 4:10 (Amy) 


WSJ 6:53 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 333), “Oktober Jest”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 10/17 (No. 333)

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest “beer festival and traveling funfair” held annually in Munich, Germany (since 1810!). This year’s event ended two weeks ago today. “Oktober Jest” is Crossword Nation‘s beer-pun shout-out to the event. There you can drink large quantities of a wide variety of beers and ales, delivered by barmaids dressed in Bavarian folk garb; here you can groan at the four fermented-yeast themers that come from a wide range of base-phrases, delivered by funny and high-concept, question-marked clues. Prosit!

  • 17A. [Feeling that you’ve already knocked back a beer?] DÉJÀ BREWSKI. Déjà vu. Ooh. That’s corny. I’m in; are you?
  • 29A. [Greeting at the AOL Bar & Grill?] “YOU’VE GOT ALE!” “You’ve got mail!” I find this particular pair particularly successful. Great base phrase and pun transition—and the very idea of an “AOL Bar & Grill”? That’s gold in my book.
  • 45A. [Beer on a news magazine’s cover?] STOUT OF TIME. Out of time. This one feels a tad shoe-horned in. Wants to be STOUT {ON THE COVER} OF TIME {MAGAZINE} to really make sense. But that’s a long way to go for not a lot of return. Am also thinking the more accessible “out of” or “out in” base phrases are too long for the grid (out of my mind, out in front, out in left field, etc.) Ça va.
  • 60A. [Joni Mitchell song dedicated to two-fisted beer drinkers?] “BOTH SUDS NOW. “Both Sides Now. Yeah. This one pushes the “sound-alike pun” envelope a bit, but that doesn’t prevent me from smiling anyway. It’s stretchy, but it also yields up a funny image of a guy hoisting two steins of beer—one, in his right hand, marked “Up/Give/Win,” the other, in his left, marked “Down/Take/Lose”—reflecting on how he’s looked at clouds/love/life. What can I say? I’m easily amused. ;-)

What else amused? Well, as I read it, we also get other choices of libations, hard and soft. So if a brewski or ale or stout or suds aren’t your thing, perhaps ROB ROYS [Scotch cocktails], a [Jello SHOT (jiggling bar order)] or SUN TEAS [Solar-brewed drinks] are.

I also like much of the mid-range fill: SAID NO, DEMURE [Shy and modest], TOMBOY (not), GELATI, NEXT DAY [Within 24 hours, like some deliveries] (lemme hear the love for Amazon Prime!), SORRELS, SUN TEAS and ROB ROYS. There’s also a pair of Exodus references: ARI [“Exodus” hero] and MINEO [Sal of “Exodus”]. So that’s Leon Uris’s book (and the movie based on it) Exodus and not the second book of the Old Testament. Btw, in the movie, ARI was played by Paul Newman; Sal MINEO played Dov Landau. And… in two weeks it’s Halloween, which SALEM [Witch trial city] and YOWLS [Haunted house screams] seem to presage.

So there’s some wit in the puzzle. I like that! Along those lines, I want to share with you some lines from Liz. She’s been constructing first-rate puzzles for over two decades now and feels strongly that her puzzles should entertain, that entertaining puzzles draw solvers in. And how did that approach to puzzle-making come about? Quoth Liz: “My puzzle models are Maura Jacobson and Merl Reagle, both of whom tested the limits of punning and puzzle-construction conventions. I admire them because they put humor before form; when necessary, Merl used 8-letter partials to serve the greater good — enjoyment for solvers. … How wonderful it is to follow [their] brilliant lead!” I don’t imagine this comes as a huge surprise, but it does give us some real insight into what make Liz tick as a constructor—and click with so very many solvers. [In 2016 at the ACPT, Maura was also the very first recipient of the now annual MEmoRiaL award (established by Merl’s estate) for lifetime achievement in crossword construction.]

And that, friends, will do it for today. Hope this puzz brought you some pleasure and hope as well that you keep solving!

[Reddish-brown horses] SORRELS

Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sole Singers” — Laura’s write-up

We have the names of seven soul/R&B/doo-wop/Motown groups, but singular rather than plural, such that each is a “sole/soul singer.” Because you care, I’ve listed my favorite song by each group with a link to a video.

WSJ - 10.17.17 - Solution

WSJ – 10.17.17 – Harrison – Solution

They… asked me how I knew… that the Funk Brothers played backup for most if not all of these songs, and it was because of the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. I love this theme, because I love this music, and there are so many great possibilities for entries: SPINNER, CONTOUR, MAJESTIC, COMMODORE … You’ve got to imagine that the constructor and three of his friends were in line at at a restaurant, and the host said, “Let’s see, we can seat you at the FOUR TOP by the window” — and he thought, hmmm, do I hear a theme?

We have two long downs in the fill that are longer than some of the theme entries: [3d: Reunion spot]: ALMA MATER and [34d: Keeps in check]: RESTRAINS, but we’ll allow it. Rest of the fill is pretty clean; I probably would’ve clued COVEY [15a: Quail cluster] in reference to author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and I wanted CLASSY instead of CLASS A for [45a: First-rate] — but overall, not much to inspire [63d: Kvetchers’ cries]: OYS. I’ll leave you with a song from PIP:

Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 17 17, no 1017

Am I just out of sorts tonight, or did this play more like a Wednesday puzzle? With the revealer lurking in a weird spot, some weird fill, and some hardish clues, it didn’t feel like a Tuesday to me.

The theme is CON MEN, or 43d. [People who target the starts of 17-, 30-, 40- and 57-Across]. Those four answers are PIGEON COOP (with a tricksy clue, [Base for long-distance carriers?]—on a Tuesday??), CHUMP CHANGE, SUCKER PUNCH, and MARK ANTONY. Now, it should have been easier for me, since I’ve seen this basic theme before. (A Patrick Jordan with SUCKER PUNCH, CHUMP CHANGE, PIGEON-TOED, and the great PATSY CLINE; a Jerome Gunderson with PATSY CLINE, PAWN TICKET, SUCKER FISH, and MARK OF CAIN; probably others.)

Six things:

  • 5a. [She “walked like a woman and talked like a man,” in a Kinks song], LOLA. This made me wonder if the 1970 song is transphobic or trans-positive. These folks discussing the matter on Reddit give it a thumbs-up for being progressive and affirming.
  • 23d. [Pro at building financial worth, slangily], I-BANKER. What? No. Raise your hand if you’ve actually encountered this term before seeing it in this puzzle.
  • 18d. [Chimp’s relative], ORANG. I do wish constructors would rank ORANG far, far lower in their word lists, because this simply is not something Americans actually use. It’s an orangutan, and you know it. (Also! Orangutans are as closely related to humans as to chimpanzees.)
  • 43a. [Size in a lingerie shop], C CUP. “Lingerie shop,” ha. You generally can find bras in either the Intimates department in a big store, a Victoria’s Secret store, the Body section at the Gap, or a bra boutique … I don’t know what a “lingerie shop” is, exactly.
  • 54a. [Emission from radioactive decay], BETA RAY. I’m not up on my assorted Greek-letter rays. Tough fill for a Tuesday, no?
  • 37d. [Brand of kids’ wear with Superman and Batman options], UNDEROOS. Wikipedia tells me the brand is licensed to some entity that also sells adult Underoos. That’s a big “nope” for me.

3.5 stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Candy-Coated” – Derek’s write-up

So, I read the theme. Then, I saw the type of candy in 20A, and I assumed there would be a variety. But we have quite a uniform type of candy in this puzzle, and a clever explanation for it all at 59A!

  • 20A [Performer who does a lot of swinging and catching] TRAPEZE ARTIST
  • 37A [Comedian with a self-titled ABC series and a TBS talk show] GEORGE LOPEZ
  • 44A [Shaped like a quadrilateral with one pair of parallel sides] TRAPEZOIDAL
  • 59A [Candy collectibles, or what the three long answers end up being] PEZ DISPENSERS

Are you in the mood for some Pez candy now? This candy really is all about the dispensers. I am sure lots of folks still collect them, and the candy isn’t really all that great anyway. Not to a chocolate lover like myself! Another tight theme by Matt, although it seems as if there may be a better title floating out there. I don’t know why; just a vibe. Nice job again, Matt! 4.3 stars.

A few high points:

  • 10A [Maroon 5 frontman Levine] ADAM – I don’t watch The Voice much, but this guy is talented.
  • 32A [“August: __ County” (Meryl Streep movie)] OSAGE – Funny, but I almost put this word in for 4 Across!
  • 5D [“Parks and Recreation” costar Ansari] AZIZ – This puzzle needed Zs! I think I have mentioned his Master of None on Netflix here before. Funny guy!
  • 11D [Adheres in a pinch, maybe] DUCT TAPES – We duct tape everything! (OK, not everything!)
  • 36D [It’s a long, long story] SOAP OPERA – I’ll say! Some are like decades long. Not many of these left, unless there are more on the Soap Opera Network that I never watch.

Gotta go watch basketball! Have a great week!

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

How about six thematic entries crammed into a 15×15 grid! Not only that, but most of them cross each other! Pretty simple puzzle, as this is a Tuesday puzzle, but extremely well executed with the LAT trademark theme revealer at 63A:

  • 17A [Leg-strengthening exercise] CALF RAISE
  • 35A [Aviator’s military branch] AIR FORCE
  • 42A [Altercation broken up by bouncers] BAR FIGHT
  • 11D [Big eater’s fast-food request, maybe] EXTRA FRIES
  • 27D [Get the wood-burning stove going] START A FIRE
  • 63A [Equitable treatment … and what’s literally found in each set of circles] FAIR SHAKE

I should have tried to figure out what was happening while I was solving, but I kind of enjoy experiencing what the revealer has to say, and with the locations of the circles, this seemed to be the case early on. Well done, ladies! 4.5 stars for this one.

A few more points:

  • 20A [“Austin Powers” genre] SPY-FI – I have not heard this term before. But I like it!
  • 58A [Golden Arches pork sandwich] MCRIB – I used to like these. But even eating vegan, this probably has so little REAL meat in it that it is probably OK!! ;-)
  • 4D [Email attachment format] PDF FILE – If these constructors use a database, it is full of great entries!
  • 10D [Sicily’s capital] PALERMO – I put in SALERNO. Salerno is the capital of, well, Salerno!
  • 37D [Pro hoops gp.] NBA– The NBA season starts tonight!
  • 39D [Global shipping company] DHL – UPS is global, too, but DHL may do it better. Find your niche, I always say!
  • 44D [Horticultural art] TOPIARY – I know this word from all the hidden puzzle games I used to play! (And still do, to a degree!) This is a sculptured tree or shrub.
  • 57D [Giant in nonstick pans] T-FAL – I said there is a good database at work here. Or just good constructors. Very well done!

As mentioned, enjoy the NBA game tonight! (If you watch sports!)

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7 Responses to Tuesday, October 17, 2017

  1. David says:

    Regarding Orang and Chimp relative (“as closely related as to humans”) – Orang by itself means “man” – Orang-utan means “man of the forest”. So Orang actually fits fine no matter which way it is understood.

  2. Martin says:


  3. Burak says:

    I’m here to raise my hand because i-banking is indeed a common way to abbreviate investment banking in certain circles.

    • Bonekrusher says:

      Raising my hand too. Back in college, a lot of students aspired to I-Banking. They were frequently (not always) materialistic jerks.

  4. roxanna gunderson says:

    Cracked up when my husband, Jerome Gunderson, said, “I suppose Jeff, Patrick and I are The Three Stooges”

  5. Lise says:

    I tried to post a picture of our Tweety Bird Pez dispenser here but it didn’t work.

    Tweety Bird says hello, though!

  6. Gareth says:

    I saw, for the first time in my life, TFAL in the wild. Sort of. I found “Tefal” while shopping more baking equipment at Game (General Merchandise chain now owned by Walmart). Wikipedia suggests Dupont insisted on the name change in the US. Now don’t all go rushing off to add TEFAL to your lists at once…

Comments are closed.