Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Jonesin' 3:50 (Derek) 


LAT 3:55 (Derek) 


NYT 4:25 (Jenni) 


WSJ 5:55 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 356), “Oh, Yeah!”—Janie’s take

Before delving into the delights of today’s puzz, first a shout-out to Team Fiend who made such a **great** showing at the ACPT this past weekend. Wow-Wow-Wow to Laura, Erin, Jenni, Angela, Erik (OMG! [ya had to see it to believe it]), Derek, Andy, Ben, Joon, Sam and Ade. Bravi, ladies and gents. You Are Fab! Ditto my tech-mate Dave. He and I had our own kinda behind-the-scenes nerd-out, processing the puzzles and being part of crew who served as judges and officials. Knowing our speed-solving limits but loooving the event, therefore working to make it go as smoothly as possible, has its own rewards—which doesn’t always leave as much time for some of the socializing one might want… still: every bit was savored. Already looking forward to next year! ;-)

Crossword Nation 3/27 (No. 356)

Now, on to the latest Gorski, a whimsical tribute (as hinted at in the title) to the letter “O.” While I was initially baffled by the police presence in the cluing and more than a bit unsatisfied with the O-heavy themers—because of the seeming inconsistency of having two in which “O” was the only vowel and two where this letter had the company of other vowels—the centrally-located, vertical reveal shed welcome light on the situation and let me re-examine my response. I’d missed the reveal as I was solving since I’d filled it in with the across entries. Am very glad I went back to discover 31D. [Police, in slang … and a hint to the puzzle theme] FIVE-O. D’oh. Each of the “Police officer’s favorite…” clues receives a 14-letter answer with … fiveO“s in it. Nice. And the wide range of interests represented by the themers (the Olympics, Brit Lit, pop music, novelty food) only sweetens the pot.

  • 16A. [Police officer’s favorite Olympic speed skater?] APOLO ANTON OHNO. Oh, yes yeah. (But I still want a second “L” in his first name…)
  • 29A. [… work by Virginia Woolf?] A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN. Who’s afraid? Not I. Not you either? It’s not very lengthy. Maybe give it a go.
  • 46A. [… Betty Everett tune (with “The”)?] “…SHOOP SHOOP SONG. Cher only covered it. Here’s Betty’s version.
  • 61A. [… extended lunch?] FOOT-LONG HOTDOG. My fave punny theme-set clue (think about it).

And we get “O”s GALORE, too, with peppy fill like “I’M NO FOOL!” (clued with the quaint and apt [“You can’t snooker me!”]), LOOK AWAY, TOOK NOTE, NOODGE, “BOO-HOO” [Sarcastic sob], ORONO, ECONO-, OTOH, World Golf Hall of Famer Lorena OCHOA, OOOLA [Alley Oop’s lady] and the pithy [“Life IS TOO short for bad coffee”]. I like this last one as well for its fresh approach to cluing IS TOO, which so often comes to us as some variation of [Schoolyard retort]. Let’s hear it for variety! We get some good long-“O” assonance with PHONIES and OPIATES, too. Ditto SOLI and OAK, OKS, MoMA and OGRE; and the series of final (unstressed) “O” sounds in the second row: CATO and BRIO and HEMO-. All of this aural augmentation of the theme is a lovely touch.

Clue I have a quibble with? [NYC gallery] for MoMA. MoMA, as the first letter tells us, is a museum. In American usage isn’t a gallery a significantly smaller place for viewing art than a museum? That’s how I think of it anyway. Something like [NYC home to Monet’s Water Lilies triptych] mighta mitigated the issue for me.

Clue that gave me a good smile? [Nice way of saying yes?] for “OUI. So that’s Nice as in the French Riviera. A nice place to contemplate, non?

And with that thought, I leave you for today. Keep solving, all, and do stop in again next week!

Michael Down’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Full House” — Laura’s write-up

WSJ - Down - 3.27.18 - Solution

WSJ – Down – 3.27.18 – Solution

  • [16a: *Family night option]: BOARD GAME
  • [24a: *Window-shopping spot]: STOREFRONT
  • [36a: *Deluxe armchair feature]: LEG REST
  • [45a: *Midday company]: LUNCH GUEST
  • [10d: Brit’s TV viewing]: CHAT SHOW
  • [35d: Sushi accompaniment]: GREEN TEA
  • [59aR: Some college buddies, or both halves of each starred answer]: ROOMMATES

I’m pretty sure that there’s a printing error in this puzzle; both 10d and 35d are clearly part of the theme set (CHAT ROOM, SHOWROOM, GREEN ROOM, TEA ROOM), but they aren’t starred in either the web app or the pdf. Mr. Down? Mr. Shenk? Anyone? Bueller? Let me know. If I am correct, that’s pretty impressive theme density, and, since Michael Down’s name isn’t already in our tag library, I’m going to assume this is a debut (or that it’s a debut of a new Shenk pseudonym; maybe we’ll also see one from Jennifer A. Cross). Michael Down — that’s a great name for a constructor! If you’re out there, please identify yourself so I can congratulate you on your choice of avocation. My one quibble is with the revealer; many people beyond Baby Boomer age live with ROOMMATES past college and well into adulthood out of financial necessity, and not only in overpriced coastal metropolises (metropoli? metropoludes?).

[53a: “Don’t misunderstand…”]: MIND YOU, I haven’t much to say regarding the fill. I would’ve clued [57d: May and Trudeau, for two: Abbr.]: PMS differently, and I don’t want to hear about your “Breakfast Test”; plenty of people think about — nay, have — PMS at breakfast, and it doesn’t put them off their overnight oats. I’ll leave you at [7d: Setting on Spinal Tap’s amps]: ELEVEN. “You’re on ten on your guitar, where can you go from there?”

Peter Koetters’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I’m glad I got to sub for Amy this evening. I really liked this puzzle. It was amusing and enjoyable and still entirely appropriate for early in the week.

NYT 3/27, solution grid

The tourist bureaus in several states may want to consult Peter Koetters for new slogans. When you fill in the blanks in each theme answer, you’ll see why.

  • 20a [“Explore Alaska! It’s ___!”] MORE THAN JUNEAU.
  • 33a [“Writers and photographers will find Michigan a great place for ____!”] FREE LANSING.
  • 39a [“Blow into Maine on ___!”] AUGUSTA WIND.
  • 50a [“I was afraid to ski, but in New Hampshire I ___!”] CONCORD MY FEARS.


The fill was nice for a Tuesday. Good ol’ Pola NEGRI made an appearance, but that was about it for flagrant crosswordese.

A few other things:

  • 6d [Green party honoree, briefly?] makes good use of that upper-case letter at the beginning, this time to mis-lead. It’s not politics, it’s ST PAT.
  • I’ll take “Bible” for one hundred, Alex, in the NE corner, where ESAU  sits next to 13d {Possessive in the Ten Commandments}, THY.
  • 23a [Sack] made me pause because I was thinking of it as a synonym for “fired.” It’s actually LOOT.
  • 28d [Alley sounds] has nothing to do with bowling. It’s FELINES MEOWS.
  • 40d [Treat with one’s choice of syrup] also made me pause. “Treat” in this case is a noun, not a verb, and the answer is SNO CONE. I suppose that one may be a wee bit tricky for a very new solver, but I liked it.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that VIJAY SINGH was born in Fiji.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Go to Sleep!” – Derek’s write-up

This is one of those puzzles where I kind of got the theme, finished rather quickly, then took another look and said, audibly, “OH! Now I get it!” I saw the Zs were going to be featured, I just didn’t see how they were being used. Until I did! Here are the theme answers:

  • 22A [Be familiar with a Danube-based Austrian town?] KNOW THE LINZ (know the lingo)
  • 32A [Make barbs about trip data?] ZING THE DISTANCE (going the distance)
  • 43A [Chores for Superman’s general nemesis?] ZOD HOUSEKEEPING (Good Housekeeping)
  • 55A [Recorded by jazz saxophonist Stan?] FROM THE GETZ (from the get-go)

If you examine the title, which is “Go to Sleep!”, you can understand what is happening. In a common phrase that has the letters GO in it, these are replaced by a Z, indicating sleep. I suppose it would be nearly impossible to replace the letters GO with a ZZ, indicating actual snoring, but this works. And it works in a Matt Jones funny type of way. His puzzles are sometimes a little more difficult; perhaps he toned back the toughness level or I am still in tournament solve mode. Either way, another fun puzzle from Matt. A solid 4.5 stars, since I am still in a good mood from getting a “I beat Dr. Fill!” t-shirt!!

Some highlights:

  • 1A [Apple variety] MAC – Yes, THAT Apple, which later today has an event in Chicago that may perhaps reveal some cheaper products. I will be watching!
  • 18A [Motel room perk, as promoted years ago] COLOR TV – I must be getting old, because I remember when not all TVs were color! Now I am about to purchase a 4K TV at some point soon for only $300-$400. Amazing.
  • 69A [“The Crying Game” star Stephen] REA – I finally did see V for Vendetta, the only other movie he seems to be known for. That is a credit to him, I suppose, for being a great actor while at the same time totally unremarkable in appearance!
  • 9D [Author Eggers] DAVE – I don’t know this writer, but he evidently wrote The Circle, which was made into a Tom Hanks movie. Which I haven’t seen. Now I will read the book first!
  • 28D [Puerto __ ] RICO – We still have a few people working in Puerto Rico with my company. There is still lots of work to be done down there, and hopefully we can continue to maintain a presence there to help those people.
  • 36D [Dennis’s sister, on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”] DEE – Funny show, and it IS on Netflix! I work with a Deloris, who they call DEE, but people have called me this for years also, so I find I cannot call her that!
  • 44D [“Chariots of Fire” actor Sir Ian] HOLM – This is a really good movie that I still haven’t seen in its entirety. I remember going to see it when I was about 12 or 13 and falling asleep in the theater!
  • 53D [Main character of Minecraft] STEVE – I had to consult my 19 year old son, who is a Minecraft expert, on this one. Great clue, but totally new to me!

I did get a trophy, but my goal is still top 50, which I didn’t attain. Next year!

Bruce Haight & Loren Smith’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Well, the ACPT is over! Today’s puzzle immediately made me smile when I saw the byline, since upon my arrival in Stamford at 11:30 Friday, I was promptly asked to tag along to lunch with these very two constructors, as well as Dave Eckert and Bob Kern. It still amazes me when I go to the mecca of crosswords how, before I even get in the door, there is always a “Hi, Derek!” I missed going for many years (kids!), but now I think I can find a few days each March to go watch March Madness in a hotel lobby with my fellow tribesmates!

I will try and ask these two personally who did what and add it to the comments later, but at least one of them came up with the idea to find phrases that start and end with Ws:

  • 18A [“You think anyone cares about MY opinion?”] “WHAT DO I KNOW?”
  • 24A [Boatload (of)] WHOLE SLEW
  • 39A [“Let’s see here … “] “WELL NOW … “
  • 52A [Overall concept of the universe] WORLDVIEW (Is this one word or two? Or either??)
  • 58A [Eye-of-newt concoction] WITCHES BREW
  • 49A [Crammed (into) … and, when aptly hyphenated, like 18-, 24-, 39-, 52- and 58-Across] WEDGED

Or, to be more descriptive, W EDGED. Very nicely done! I solved this in just under 4 minutes; I still don’t see how Erik Agard (or any of those top 5 or 6 solvers) solves a complete Sunday-sized puzzle in just about the same time. On paper with a pencil. Truly stunning. But this puzzle is a great example of why we enjoy crosswords: clever wordplay, a little humor, and even a little revealer at the end. A punch line, if you will! I’m still in a state of euphoria after the tournament, so a robust 4.7 stars for this Tuesday puzzle.

Some notes:

    • 16A [Change from five starts to three, say] RERATE – Like you CANNOT do on the Fiend site!
    • 28A [“Hold the Hellmann’s] NO MAYO – This made me think of this scene from Undercover Brother!

  • 44A [Opthalmaologist’s concern] MYOPIA – I have hyperopia. Interesting clue, since Bruce is an eye surgeon!
  • 7D [Longtime “Today” co-host Couric] KATIE – Not sure why she left the show when she did; it seemed to early. I enjoyed some of here features during the recent Winter Olympics. Remarkably, she is now in here 60s!
  • 11D [“Holy smokes!”] “MAN ALIVE!” – Isn’t this a mall clothing store?
  • 37D [The “F” element in CFC] FLUORINE – CFCs are chlorofluorocarbons, so they have three elements, of which carbon is the only one which retains its spelling!
  • 38D [Full-size cars of the 1960s-’80s] FORD LTDS – They don’t make them like this anymore. I know a guy who still has one of these in running condition!
  • 43D [Kissy-kissy] SMOOCHY – I am NOT smoochy. Just ask my wife!

I didn’t get a chance to meet Bryant Gumbel, but I might be in the Real Sports  segment! Have a great day everyone!

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18 Responses to Tuesday, March 27, 2018

  1. Dr. Fancypants says:

    NYT player hard for a Tuesday for me. I landed on what would be a normal Wednesday time for me.

  2. Lise says:

    I liked the NYT a lot. My family are shameless punsters and we used to have placemats with the states and capitals, so no problem there. Also, for some reason, I loved the clue for LAP (“Baby sitter?).

    STERNUMS as a plural looked weird, possibly because I’ve only seen it in the singular (I have just one, right?). Also did not realize that “conscript” was a noun as well as a verb. Not a problem, just something I noticed.

    Loved that STYX was down at the bottom :-) Nice puzzle!

  3. Matthew G. says:

    If every NYT Tuesday puzzle were this good, Tuezing would no longer be a thing. Five stars from me, Peter Koetters!

  4. Amy says:


  5. Lise says:

    Since cooompleting the Crooswoord Natioon, I am seeing Os ovorywhere. Whoo! Looved it.

    Twoo more things: as Janie said, great clue – maybe best clue ever? – for IS TOO. And because Janie’s reviews are generally multicolorful, I did the puzz in hot pink ink (Pentel RSVP fine point). Only one correction necessary (started to write StOAT for SHOAT). Nice! Oui!

    • janie says:

      StOAT / SHOAT — ditto… ;-)

      also, checked jeff chen’s (terrific!) “xword info” database of nyt stats, and the most “o”s to appear in a single 15x is 69 (yikes). this was in steve riley’s 6/19/12 puzz. then it drops down to 34 in nancy joline’s 12/16/93 grid. at 36 in liz’s, this is indeed a mOst nOtewOrthy OccasiOn!


  6. cyberdiva says:

    Jenni, I enjoyed your write-up of the NYTimes puzzle. One small glitch: strictly speaking, 28d is MEOWS, not FELINES (who of course make the meows).

  7. MattG. says:

    Between catching up on my significant backlog before ACPT and meeting CF’s wonderful Laura there, I’m hoping to comment more here.

    Jonesin’: I liked the theme a bunch, but I usually have a low tolerance for too much 3-letter fill and the word count at 80 really dragged on me.

    LAT: For no real reason (other than perhaps it makes more room for theme entries) I love revealers in down clues rather than across. Big fan of the W-EDGED re-parsing, as I hadn’t even noticed the W bookends in the two theme entries before that.

    NYT: My favorite Tuesday in a while, and I’m not a big pun person. Feels like the kind of thing that would be stretched thin in a Sunday grid, and well-suited for a Tuesday. I agree and share delight with (one of the many) other Matt G that there was no Tuezzing to be had.

  8. Lois says:

    NYT: As far as calling [Pola] NEGRI crosswordese is concerned, I much prefer that name to ELYSE from Family Ties (I know nothing about the show) and to PAMELA Anderson (I do know that name), both of which rubbed me a bit the wrong way. Upon reviewing the puzzle, I see very few names at all (including one Xbox game), and with fair crosses, it’s all fine with a fun puzzle. One person’s crosswordese is a tickle and and a part of the pleasure of doing the puzzle for someone else. People of all ages and interests are doing the puzzle, not just 1980s TV buffs.

  9. Tita says:

    My proclivity for avoiding the revealer, crossed with misreading said revealer, resulted in a greatly-extended overall solve time.
    I somehow thought that both 48 and 49 down had the same clue…
    And, I couldn’t see “ALLOWS” from ALL_ _S. Tried ALLOkS.
    So i have an entire page full of scribbles trying to reparse OILERSkEDGEs. (Oh yeah – I had SsS not SDS.
    I was adding hyphens willy-nilly across those two words. I was parsing them down-and-up, across-and-over…
    What noW, I thought?!

    Oh – add in to my troubles that ^%$*-awful LAX app constantly obscuring the grid with an inexplicable “Welcome back” window.

    But- the end result is that I had a fun head-thrashing try9ing to figure it out – and so I did.

    Thanks, Bruce and Loren for a mind-bending solve. Bruce- sorry not to meet you at ACPT!

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