Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Jonesin' 5:35 (Derek) 


LAT 3:32 (Derek) 


NYT 3:30 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:37 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 355), “60 Minutes of Fame”—Janie’s take

CrosswordNation 3/20 (No. 355)

Okay. So the truth? I saw the title and thought, “What? Liz has made a puzzle about the Stormy Daniels interview with Anderson Cooper, (currently) scheduled for this coming Sunday on 60 Minutes?” I was wrong, dear readers, I was wrong (and heaven knows, the segment may yet get pulled…). But I found the thought very entertaining… Am happy to say, though, that the puzzle I did encounter was also very entertaining, so I was hardly disappointed. Not only is this one entertaining, it’s multilayered in a meta-like way, theme-rich and a rewarding solve to boot. The puzzle celebrates not a future event, but one in the recent past—one from Sunday the 11th, in fact. And here’s how.

We start with four starred themers, each with a question-marked clue. Something’s afoot as we glean from the resulting punny, funny fill. It’s all high-concept, heady and humorous, because each themer is based a familiar phrase, now with its first letter lopped off.

  • 17A. *[Annex for a mobile home owner?] ELL ON WHEELS. Hell on wheels.
  • 24A. *[When calligraphers hunt for new signature pieces?] PEN SEASON. Open season.
  • 52A. *[Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson hit song about depression at a Mass. resort destination?] “P-TOWN FUNK.” Uptown Funk.”
  • 64A. *[Eating this Japanese dish can be a religious experience?] AMEN NOODLES. Ramen noodles.

Read the orange letters sequentially, and the word HOUR emerges (as in the “60 Minutes” in the title…). But wait—there’s more, since these answers don’t tell the story in its entirety. Look at

  • 40A. [See 63-Across] and then
  • 63A. [“Spring forward” shorthand (the dropped letters of the asterisked answers spell out how much 40-Across is lost during this event)] DST. Daylight Saving Time. I know that many early risers hate it, but me? I flat out love it. Give me those longer hours of daylight at the end of the day any time. The sun’ll be rising earlier and earlier soon enuf! Oh—and the answer to 40A? Why, that’d be SLEEP, of course—the one HOUR of lost SLEEP, a word that’s inferrable from the downs that cross it.

A pretty nifty puzzle idea this, elegantly executed, too. Imho…

Other highlights? The healthy quantity and quality of the longer and mid-range fill. Hats off to those RELATIVES nicely (visually) clued as [Family tree names] and to the colloquial “THAT’S A LIE!” colloquially clued with [“So not true!”]. Ditto AVIATOR and EXACTLY, RUN PAST and CASTERS, “IF I MAY…” and SAUCES, ATTILA and REAPER (as in the [“Grim” reminder of one’s mortality]), UTOPIA and CODDLE. TYPE A’S, RADARS and ILLEST? Not my faves—all legit, but more functional than fun. And I thought MASTIC [Resin that’s used in varnishes] was a tough pair. Somehow I associated MASTIC with this. (Didn’t it used to come in a whole range of colors, too? I think that’s what I’m really thinking of…)

If I didn’t like the plural RADARS, I really did like its non-Evelyn-Wood [Speed readers?] clue. No broken bones involved when [End up in a cast?] is the clue for ACT (just be careful with those wishes to “Break a leg!”). And, for my money, the clue that most classes up the joint (no joke) would have to be the beautiful pairing of [Emotionally expressive, as poetry] and LYRIC (itself a beautiful word).

A few things in wrapping up for today. 1) I hope to see many of you at ACPT this weekend. If we haven’t “formally” met, please introduce yourself! The event is as much about being with kindred spirits as it is about competing. 2) If you are participating (and as I’ve said in the past), try not to be a time-slut. Accuracy is your friend! 3)Keep solving—whether or not you compete. And 4) am so grateful for 52A. as it gives me a legitimate reason to leave you with this video. Lovers of “Uptown Funk” and/or classic dance moments from classic movie-musicals: rejoice in the brilliant concept and maybe even more brilliant editing!

Max Carpenter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Around the World” — Laura’s write-up

Hey! Please say “hi” this weekend at ACPT, especially if we haven’t met before. I’m short and I have purple hair. On to the puzzle:

WSJ - 3.20.18 - Carpenter - Solution

WSJ – 3.20.18 – Carpenter – Solution

  • [17a: Capitalist class, in Marxism]: BOURGEOISIE
  • [31a: Iconic econobox car of the 1980s]: DODGE OMNI
  • [39a: Phenomenon bemoaned by the nostalgic]: PASSAGE OF TIME
  • [46a: Androgynous 1980s pop star]: BOY GEORGE
  • [65aR: Earthling’s bias, and a feature of the starred answers]: GEOCENTRISM

Well-executed early-week theme. GEO is hidden nicely in the very center of four entries, hence our revealer. I won’t point out, pedantically, that GEOCENTRISM refers less specifically to the Earth-biased politics of, say, the United Federation of Planets than to a pre-Copernican conception of our solar system. Do I, earthling, detect a slight 1980s bias in the clues? If I do, I do not bemoan it; I spent many a teenage evening riding around suburban Detroit in someone’s DODGE OMNI (or VW Rabbit, or Ford Escort) listening to BOY GEORGE. I also like the phrase iconic econobox.

Fill works mostly fine, with some funny juxtapositions: AVOID ORAL-B! YAK HOARDER! GOV RUIN! ARM SIRI! NAH NADA! Good long downs: CARDAMOM (which inspires me to write a spice-based theme — [Ask me for ID at a bar?]: CARD A MOM), AMY ADAMS (star of Arrival — not a GEOCENTRIC movie), PROVENCE.

Perhaps my favorite album by another androgynous 1980s pop star, Around the World in a Day (1985) inspired our puzzle’s title. There isn’t a video available for the title cut, but I’ll leave you with this one:

Andrew Zhou’s New York Times crossword_Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 20 18, no 0320

This sound-based theme doesn’t quite work for me. 53a. [Much-anticipated sporting events … or, when spoken, what 20-, 28-, 35- and 43-Across have?] clues SEASON OPENERS. The timing is slightly weird since Tuesday is the spring equinox but the theme isn’t focused on spring, and since the MLB season opener isn’t till March 29.

  • 20a. [Part of a fire safety system], SPRINKLER HEAD. SPRINK and spring have a markedly different consonant sound there.
  • 28a. [Flipped], SOMERSAULTED. Sounds like summer, works for me.
  • 35a. [Constantinople was its capital], OTTOMAN EMPIRE. I checked two dictionaries, and both have an “ah” sound in OTTOMAN but an “aw” sound in autumn.
  • 43a. [Instruments of renewable energy], WIND TURBINES. Works okay, and I like a shout-out to wind energy.

So I’m rather “meh” on the theme today.

Five more things:

  • 5d. [Pennsylvania university that’s home to the Fighting Scots], EDINBORO. Raise your hand if you have never heard of this school and checked the crossings to figure out if it would be EDINBORO or EDINBURG. Key factoid from Wikipedia: “As of Spring 2011, Edinboro is the first school in the world to offer a music education degree (BAME) that is open to students with a focus in bagpiping.”
  • 1d. [Leftover pizza part], CRUST. My husband is the one who collects our cast-off crust bits and eats them. Does every family have a crust lover?
  • Tough-for-Tuesday fill includes TORII, MSU and ORU, STE., SIG, IBIS, CERES.
  • 7d. [Loose-leaf sheet holder], THREE-RING BINDER. A bit weird to have a 15-letter answer that’s unrelated to the theme.
  • 8d. [Creepy look], LEER / 10a. [Girl-watch or boy-watch], OGLE. I’m not too keen on the term girl-watching (since it’s generally grown women who are targeted) but at least the OGLE clue covers a couple genders, and at least the LEER clue encompasses the creepiness.

Three stars from me.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Surround Sound” – Derek’s write-up

Nice name! I may have been overly critical on one of these Jonesin’ titles in recent weeks, but this one is spot on! Clever, yet not too revealing, while still conveying what is happening in this puzzle. The theme answers are all “surrounded” by the same three letters, and all is explained in the last two across answers:

  • 18A [Venus, when visible after sunset] EVENING STAR
  • 34A [Smoking-based practical joke that’s hardly seen anymore] EXPLODING CIGAR
  • 41A [It’s tough to hear without an amp] ELECTRIC GUITAR
  • 58A [Way up (and down)] ELEVATOR CAR
  • 66A & 67A [What each of the long answers displays] OUTER EAR

I got stumped by a couple of squares. The error in 9A is just a typo, but I kept seeing DIVIDED instead of DIVVIED at 5D, and I literally was putting in alphabet letters to see which one fit! I didn’t sleep well this weekend, so that is my excuse! Still a solid entertaing puzzle. A robust 4.3 stars today.

Some mentionables:

    • 4A [Amy of 2016’s “Arrival”] ADAMS – She has been in quite a few movies I have actually seen, including this one. Also a really good movie!
    • 62A [The Chi-__ (“Have You Seen Her” group)] LITES – You know I have to get this song in your head now

  • 13D [Banks who hosts “American’s Next Top Model”] TYRA – This show is not my cup of tea, but is shockingly watchable.
  • 21D [Dave of “Fuller House”] COULIER – He’s still alive?? I haven’t watched this rehashed version yet, but I remember the original Full House all too well.
  • 30D [April __ (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reporter)] O’NEIL – I had no clue!
  • 35D [Actor Elba] IDRIS – This guy is not only famous, but is ALSO seemingly venturing into crossword fame, as there is not another IDRIS! (I don’t think … !)
  • 49D [“Life In __” (Matt Groening comic strip)] HELL – Never heard of this either. Matt and his pop culture refs!

Hope to see many of you this weekend!

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

I am hoping to meet this talented constructor this weekend at the ACPT, as we have just recently learned she is contributing a puzzle to this year’s competition! I have blogged several of her LAT puzzles in the past couple of years, partly because I do every Tuesday and Saturday, and partly because she is so prolific! For someone that English is not their native tongue, this never ceases to amaze me. I will highlight that thought in a few of the comments below, but first the theme, which utilizes vertical answers for a reason:

  • 3D [Handheld cleaner] MINI VACUUM (A slight reach, perhaps, but technically correct. “Mini vac” seems more used. IMHO.)
  • 9D [2006 cop drama set in Florida] MIAMI VICE
  • 31D [Reagan library site] SIMI VALLEY
  • 34D [Like much Norton software] ANTIVIRUS
  • 24D [Hosp. fluid-administration methods hidden in 3-, 9-, 31- and 34-Down] I.V. DRIPS

Well executed, and maybe even eliciting a wry grin during the solving experience! I am no longer surprised by how well her puzzles are made; it is more of a hopeful “What’s next?” feeling when her byline appears! A solid 4.5 stars for this one.

Those highlights:

  • 18A [“Are you declining?”] IS THAT A NO?” – Another example of one of C.C.’s best techniques: phrases common in the language. Awesome!
  • 58A [Scored well under par, in golf lingo] WENT LOW – Tiger went low this past weekend, just not low enough! What does it say about golf that everybody wants to still watch a 42-year-old Tiger Woods?
  • 65A [Apple Store support station] GENIUS BAR – I’ve been there! Totally love the Apple Store. Except the prices!
  • 12D [Welles’ “Citizen”] KANE – Are the quotes needed here? This is still one of the best movies I have ever seen. Watch it if you never have!
  • 26D [Tampa __ Buccaneers] BAY – I need to move to Tampa Bay …
  • 55D [Salon colorings] DYES – Trying to convince my wife to just go gray. She isn’t buying it!!

Hope to see you this weekend, C.C.!

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24 Responses to Tuesday, March 20, 2018

  1. Ethan says:

    I think SPRINKLER HEAD works quite well. The “n” of “sprinkler” is pronounced as a velar nasal via assimilation to the velar plosive that follows. If you consider the “opener” to be everything before the “k”, then “spring” is exactly what you’ve got.

    • Bruce Haight says:

      Exactly! It should be spelled springklerhead since that’s how we pronounce it….

    • Loren Smith says:

      Anyone who throws around “velar nasal,” “assimilation,”and “plosive” is ok by me.

      Right! “Spring” doesn’t end with a “g” sound. But don’t try to tell my husband that. Some of our nastiest marital fights have been about linguistics.

    • David L says:

      I agree that SPRINKLERHEAD starts with ‘spring.’ But OTTOMAN doesn’t work for me, for the reason Amy said, and neither does WINDTURBINE, which I say with gemination on the first consonant and with a different stress pattern. Contrast ‘windturbine’ with ‘ winter bine’ a well-known vining weed that I just made up.

  2. Ktd says:

    NYT: Neat coincidence to find EDINBORO in the puzzle today as I’ve just come back from its namesake city. It took me a while to figure out how to say “Edinburgh” correctly but to my ears it’s something like “edin-burra” (or “edin-bra” if you’re talking fast). According to Wikipedia, when the city of Pittsburgh was named it would have been pronounced similarly (ie “Pitts-boro” or “Pitts-burra”), the current pronunciation being a later corruption.

  3. roxanna says:

    Fabulous videos! Puzzles… okay.

  4. DH says:

    Both the NYT and LAT came down to a single square for me; answers that you either know or don’t know and I didn’t. In the NYT it was the crossing of “ORU” and “TORII”. Wanted to put OSU in there; Oral Roberts didn’t even occur to me even if HAD known it was in Oklahoma.

    For the LAT it was LENAS and INU. Never heard of the latter, not well versed enough in pop culture to suss out the former.

    I hate it when that happens.

    • Lise says:

      Yesterday a neighbor’s dog slipped its collar and ran off, later found and returned to her after a social media alert. It was a shiba INU. Some days it all comes together.

      I had the same problem with ORU and TORII. Now I know what a TORII is. I have seen photographs, but wasn’t familiar with the term. Good to know!

    • Ethan Friedman says:

      Hated that crossing. OSU is valid and unless you REALLY know your crosswordese, TOSII looks perfectly valid too.

      Never seen ORU as an abbreviation for Oral Roberts before.

  5. David L says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve asked this before, but I don’t see how to interpret ‘barely get (by)” as a clue for EKE. Is the idea that ‘eke by’ is supposed to mean ‘barely get’? The only reference I could find was a sports report about a low-scoring college football game in which one team ‘eked by’ the other, but that phrase is not in my vocabulary, and in any case it’s not equivalent to ‘barely get.’

    I only know ‘eke out’ as a verb phrase — to eke out a living means to barely get by, but the clue doesn’t correspond to that.

    • Lise says:

      Google’s dictionary had these definitions for EKE:

      manage to support oneself or make a living with difficulty.
      “they eked out their livelihoods from the soil”

      •make an amount or supply of something last longer by using or consuming it frugally.
      “the remains of yesterday’s stew could be eked out to make another meal”
      synonyms: husband, use sparingly, be thrifty with, be frugal with, be sparing with, use economically; informal: go easy on

      “I had to eke out my remaining funds”

      antonyms: squander

      •obtain or create, but just barely.
      “Tennessee eked out a 74–73 overtime victory”

      • David L says:

        yes, but how does that explain the clue? EKE on its own means nothing (except ‘also,’ if you’re Chaucer). ‘Eke by’ is not in my vocabulary, as I said.

        • Lise says:

          I am fascinated by this. M-W online has an example of “eke through”, and of “eke” alone; WordReference Forums has “eke by” in the sense that you used it. My beloved American Heritage, fifth edition (print) uses “eke” with “out”, no mention of “by”. Same with the online Dictionary of American Regional English. Other online dictionaries I tried have only “eke out” or “eke”.

          This is much more fun than what I’m supposed to be doing.

          • David L says:

            It’s a fascinating story, to be sure. The meaning of ‘eke’ has drifted over the years. Originally it meant ‘also’ (cognate with German ‘auch’): Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote…. Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth…

            So ‘eke out’ fundamentally means ‘augment.’ The country parson eked out his meager living by raising chickens.

            From there it’s acquired a more general meaning. But ‘eke by’ is a bridge too far for me. I blame college football announcers.

  6. ahimsa says:

    I was impressed that Elizabeth Gorski was able to find a theme entry of matching length that made sense without the initial U. I had never heard of P-Town as a nickname but figured it out without much of a problem.

    I was curious so I looked for other options. The best I could come up with was USE AN ALIAS which turns into SEAN ALIAS (possible clue = “P. Diddy or Puff Daddy?”).

  7. GlennG says:

    Is there a Jonesin’ today? I’m not finding it in the usual spots…

    • Lise says:

      Perhaps Matt is enjoying a well-deserved vacation in a warm sunny place. I hope.

    • Lise says:

      Hi Derek! How were you able to get the Jonesin’?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The puzzle will be in the usual spots soon!

    • Brady says:

      I just did it in my local alt-weekly, and have a few observations:

      It seems that good ol’ Matt dozed off for the 22-24 across clues, as they are lacking (or misdirecting) vital information for solving:

      22 & 24 show no indication of the abbreviated nature of the answers, and in #23, ‘siesta’ is simply Spanish for ‘nap’, not necessarily a ‘light nap’.

      And as for the review (not an error, just amusing to me) – Derek, you’ve mentioned having a young child. How do you not know all the main characters in TMNT, and its multiple, generation-spanning incarnations? ;-)

  8. Joan Macon says:

    Wow! I loved the “old movie stars dance” video, probably because I recognized about 95% of the cuts. What does that make me? An “old movie fan” I guess. Thanks!

Comments are closed.