Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Jonesin' 6:55 (Derek) 


LAT 3:22 (Derek) 


NYT 3:53 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:35 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 362), “Statuesque”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 5/8 (No. 362)

I really enjoyed solving this puzzle. And not only because I’m a theatre geek, but also because I’m a word geek and admired so much of the non-thematic fill. As to part the first: today’s first three themers (two grid-spanners plus a 14-letter entry) are all in service to the final 14, the reveal at 60A. [Pulitzer Prize-winning play whose dream cast might feature the actresses at 16-, 28- and 45-Across (the circled letters tell the story!)]. And that’d be THREE TALL WOMEN by Edward (crossword-friendly) Albee. The names of actresses in question all contain the (circled) letters T-A in their first names and (circled) double-Ls in their last names, making them THREE T-A… well, you can see where this is going. If (for reasons to be discussed) not totally successful as a consistent theme set, I’d say they’re close enuf for jazz, for today’s purposes. With the required letters/letter distribution patterns, this couldn’t have been an easy set of names to assemble!

  • 16A. THERESA RUSSELL [Debra Winger’s co-star in “Black Widow”]. 5′ 6 1/2″; 61.
  • 28A. TAYLOR SCHILLING [She plays Piper Chapman on “Orange is the New Black”]. In a perfect world, the only Ls we’d see would be reserved for Ms. SCHILLING’s last name. 5′ 8″; 34.
  • 45A. PATRICIA TALLMAN [“Night of the Loving Dead” actress]. In a perfect world, the first syllable of Ms. TALLMAN’s last name wouldn’t duplicate the second word of the reveal… 5′ 8″; 61.

Ms. Baker, Ms. Carter and Ms. Seldes

And by age and height, too, these dames could actually be cast in 3TW. The women who originated the roles of a formidable 92-year old matriarch (A), her younger caretaker (B, 52), and a still wet-behind-the-ears law-firm rep (C, 26) were Myra Carter (A, about 65 at the time), Marian Seldes (B, one year older [!]) and Jordan Baker (C, maybe early 30s, late 20s). Tallest of the lot: Ms. Baker, who appears to be some 2-3″ taller than Ms. Seldes, no shrimp at 5′ 9″ …

And, of course, not only is this a Pulitzer Prize-winning play (1994), it is currently running on Broadway in a multiply-Tony-nominated revival starring Glenda Jackson (A; 82, 5″ 6 1/2″), Laurie Metcalf (B: 63, 5′ 6 1/2″) and Alison Pill (C: 33, 5′ 6 1/2″). “TALL.” It’s all relative (ditto “statuesque”), said the vertically-challenged me. Seeing the play at the end of the month and can’t wait. Loved it first time around and, even with the fab notices and multiple Tony noms mighta let this one go. But the opportunity to see Glenda Jackson on stage again proved to be too great a temptation. Did I mention I’m a theatre geek? ;-)

As for “part the second,” a major thank you to FETISHES, CALAMINE and SYLVANIA, that [Brand of LED light bulbs]. Are you using them? Have seen a real change in my utility bills after making the, uh, switch. PHASE TWO is fine, but feels a bit arbitrary. Legit, but arbitrary. Do like, too, how these 8-letter words are paired vertically in the SW and NE. Then look at those strong NW and SE corners, with their triple 6-columns: PET SIT, TRENDY and ATHENA in the former; MIAMIS [Algonquian tribe], ARREST and NARNIA in the latter. ANIMAL and ASIAGO, TOASTS and TABLET, EMERIL and the adjectival sense of RAH-RAH add to the strong sixes we encounter. If you’re a vegetarian, feel free to move along, but the sassy-sounding clue for EMERIL, [His website has a recipe for “Kick Butt Gumbo”] led me to check out the recipe. Yowzuh. Almost makes me wish it were autumn. (Not to worry. After this past April, I can wait.)

And that’s a wrap for today. Am hoping you enjoyed this solve even if you’re not a theatre geek—or familiar with the women of the theme set. Only one I knew was Ms. RUSSELL. Not unfamiliar with the titles “Orange is the New Black” or Night of the Living Dead (1990 version, in this case), but couldn’t name any cast members in either. So it was the smooth crossings that made for the reasonably smooth solving. Crossings are our friends. Ponder that, all, as you do your part and keep solving!

Alex Bajcz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sweater Lopping” — Laura’s review

WSJ - 5.8.18 - Bajcz - Solution

WSJ – 5.8.18 – Bajcz – Solution

Didn’t we just have a day where there were two or more Spoonerism themes published in different venues? Here’s another one: Sweater Lopping ~ Letter Swapping:

  • [17a: Spoils from a heist?]: SEIZURE LOOT. leisure suit
  • [24a: Not kissing one’s wooers?]: STRANDING LIPS. landing strips
  • [49a: Hiring freezes?]: STAFFING LOCKS. laughingstocks
  • [60a: Legends about stamps?]: STICKER LORE. liquor store
  • [67aR: NBC fixture fond of wordplay, and a phonetic hint to this puzzle’s spoonerisms]: SNL

All that and space for some fine long fill: FOOTNOTES next to INTEGRITY, which makes your librarian-moonlighting-as-a-crossword-blogger happy; IRON FISTS next to DENTISTRY, which makes your blogger-about-to-get-her-first-root-canal unhappy. What I also liked:

  • [6a: Speculative stories]: SCIFI. Many of us in the faniverse/libraryworld/general-bookish-arena have been arguing for æons that the science fiction and fantasy of our present cultural moment should be reclassified as speculative fiction, which more accurately characterizes this genre as having to do with other possible worlds instead of your standard robots and elves and lasers and crystals.
  • [30a: Salty or spicy rather than sweet]: SAVORY. When I was abroad in my youth (yeah, sure, I’m still a broad), I was offered after the evening’s repast a choice of sweet or savory. Pardon? I soon learned that certain hosts in the United Kingdom serve a salty/spicy dish after a meal rather than a sugary one.
  • [35d: Episodes filled with flashbacks]: CLIP SHOWS. Whenever the writers are too lazy to come up with a whole new and/or Very Special Episode, they run a CLIP SHOW. The sitcom family reminisces, on the slimmest of pretenses — like maybe Grandma is visiting, or Uncle {whomever} is in a coma and everyone reflects on their favorite moments with him, or there’s a newly introduced and/or adorable cousin who needs to be brought up to speed — about That One Time When {whatever} Happened. CLIP SHOWS are not to be confused with SUPERCUTS (the video genre, not the discount hair salon), which present clips sans narrative glue.

Ori Brian’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 8 18, no 0508

A basic “phrases with words that can precede X” theme, with the revealer START A FIRE, 61a. [Ignite something … or what the first words of 17-, 23-, 38- and 51-Across do?]. Those other themers yield the words surefire, crossfire, bonfire, and backfire. Not usually a fan of such themes, as they’re so often boring, but this set of themers and ___fire words are good.

  • 17a. [“What’s there to lose?”], “SURE, WHY NOT?” The clue feels a bit off to me. Can you suggest a better equivalent to swap in?
  • 23a. [Way to run or ski], CROSS-COUNTRY.
  • 38a. [Band with the 12x platinum album “Slippery When Wet”], BON JOVI. Pretty sure I would not actually recognize a Bon Jovi song on the radio. (Don’t @ me.)
  • 51a. [Like some August sales], BACK-TO-SCHOOL. Haven’t had to do much back-to-school shopping in recent years, but this summer, my kid will be getting what he needs for living in a dorm!

Five more things:

  • 6d. [Scotland’s Firth of ___], TAY. What on earth is a puzzle with TAY in it doing on a Tuesday? Far too obscure/unfamiliar to people who don’t know their crosswordese place names (and who don’t live in Scotland). See also: ARCO, [West Coast gas brand].
  • On the plus side, UNCLE SAM, TABASCO, GUESS WHO, and OTHELLO are great fill, and I love the word IRKSOME.
  • 53d. ]The “C” of C. S. Forester], CECIL. I guessed with some crossings in place. How many people actually knew this one?
  • 54d. [Relative of a raccoon], COATI. A friend of mine vacationing in Mexico a couple weeks ago posted a photo of a coati: “She was adorable and feisty. Nearly tried to work her way into somebody’s bag right before this photo was taken!” So … that does sound like a raccoon’s relative, doesn’t it?
  • 3d. [Ears that can’t hear], CORN. I (roughly) followed the instructions here to roast unshucked ears of corn in the oven. (We did maybe 20-25 minutes at 450°, since that’s the temp the chicken was cooking at.) It’s miraculous, I tell you! You take the corn out of the oven, and when you peel back the dry, crispy husks and the steamy inner husks, the corn silk separates itself from the corn so easily. Shucking raw corn and toiling over the silk removal process is for suckers. No more!

Four stars from me, except for that TAY business.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Flip the On Switch” – Derek’s write-up

A toughie!! I usually finish a Jonesin’ in about 5-6 minutes, if not quicker. But this one stumped me a bit. I think I will blame this clearly on fatigue, and even though I use that excuse a lot, my brain was fried when I was solving this. Maybe it is all of this Crown Royal I have been drinking recently? Have you tried the apple?? I am not a whiskey drinker, or rather, I WASN’T. My brain may be fried, but I am sleeping better!

I digress. Matt’s toughie has to do with switching Os and Ns, as the title and flavor text hint at. (The flavor text says “turn on, tune in”). Let us examine:

  • 20A [Subsequent to a sin?] EARLY AFTER NO-NO
  • 25A [Kissing disease’s progression?] PHASES OF THE MONO
  • 45A [Scaredy-typesetting machine?] THE COWARDLY LINO
  • 50A [British romance novelist’s boast] I WRITE THE SNOGS – A “snog” is a Britishism for a kiss; maybe this is where the obscurity was!

Not too many obscure pop culture refs in this one, or if they are, they don’t seem to obscure to me. Not sure why this puzzle played a little tough for me. Maybe I unconsciously slowed down. Or the above-mentioned Crown Royal is burning my neurons away. 4.5 stars for a slightly-tougher-than-average Jonesin’!

Some more notes:

  • 9A [Filibuster-airing channel] C-SPAN – Did you watch Michelle Wolf’s rant on YouTube, since I know you weren’t watching live on C-SPAN!
  • 35A [Where the mojito supposedly originated] CUBA – Where is the mimosa from? I like those better!
  • 48A [Singer Rita born in what’s now Kosovo] ORA – She also has acting chops, primarily in the Fifty Shades franchise. Which explains why I have never seen her act.
  • 10D [Psilocybin, slangily] SHROOMS – This can also qualify for an obscure fact.
  • 13D [“Duck Hunt” platform] NES – That gun!
  • 32D [#37] NIXON – Oh, THAT #37!
  • 55D [Cookie that rolled out a Kettle Corn flavor (up for voting) in 2018] OREO – OK, I don’t like kettle corn much, but I bought a pack of these. And they aren’t bad! Yes, there is a butter taste, but that is not necessarily a bad thing in a cookie. I also have had the Cherry Cola flavored Oreos, as well as the Piña Colada ones. All good!

It finally feels like summer! I have been running again! Have a great week!

Bruce Venzke & Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Six theme entries! Not only are there six, but they cover ALL SIX instances of what is possible with this theme. Here are the entries:

  • 17A [“I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” singer] BARBARA MANDRELL – Cool fact: I have seen her perform at the local fair where I grew up in Cass County, MI!
  • 25A [David Bowie genre] GLAM ROCK
  • 32A [Bourbon-making process] SOUR MASH
  • 42A [Electromagnetic radiation unit] GAMMA RAY
  • 49A [Cost per night, in hotels] ROOM RATE
  • 58A [Using coercion, as shown in this puzzle’s circles] TWISTING ONE’S ARM

Very well done! Perfectly executed, and stuck the landing! Again, another stellar example of an enjoyable yet easier puzzle. Another one fit for recommendation to newer solvers. Although they may be stumped by 14-Across! 4.6 stars.

Some mentions, starting with the above reference:

  • 14A [Pinza of “South Pacific”] EZIO – Another crossword famous celebrity! He was in the Broadway play version of this, which was nearly 70 years ago!
  • 35A [Charlemagne’s realm: Abbr.] HRE – The Holy Roman Empire was around for, what, 1,800 years? I think it was still around in the early 19th century! (All of that is from memory with no research, so feel free to correct me!
  • 64A [“This I Promise You” band] NSYNC – Why did I think this was 98 Degrees? Because they all sound alike to me?
  • 7D [Matchstick-removing game] NIM – Yeah, I don’t know this one. Do they have a game other than euchre in Indiana??
  • 19D [Moore of “Ghost”] DEMI – Where did she disappear to??
  • 43D [Many a microbrew] ALE – Or IPA!
  • 52D [Muscat native] OMANI – Perhaps we will be more familiar with Oman when the World Cup is in Qatar in 2022. Or not. Is it still even being held in that neck of the woods??

Enjoy your week, and I will see you on Saturday.

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16 Responses to Tuesday, May 8, 2018

  1. RSP64 says:

    Absolutely agree about TAY. I’ve never heard or seen that phrase. But I do notice that people in the mid-west and on the east coast complain when west coast phrases or knowledge appear in puzzles. ARCO stations are very common out this way (ARCO stands for Atlantic Richfield COmpany).

  2. Michael Tong says:

    re nyt: I think “sure, why not” is clued very well!

  3. chris says:

    agreed that tay is hard for a tuesday, though if you’re a fan of very bad poetry, you’ve likely heard of “the tay bridge disaster” by william mcgonagall.


    • Gareth says:

      That’s where I know it from… It’s in Brewer’s, and I may have read every page of Brewer’s…

  4. jim hale says:

    I thought it was interesting that the puzzle had “a cup”, “b game” and “d plus”… could have added “c minor”, to give it a consistent sub-theme.

  5. Ethan says:

    “I got nothing better to do” could work as a clue for SURE WHY NOT, but maybe nothing/not is a dupe?

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: I like!
    And having HODA in there cheered me up (it’s my name with an Egyptian accent)

  7. Ethan Friedman says:

    I thought the clue for “Sure why not” worked just fine but would “Alright, I’m game” work?

  8. David says:

    ARCO employed my east coast dad – the A in ARCO stands for Atlantic as in the good-old east-coast ocean. The merger of Atlantic (i.e., east coast) and Richfield (i.e., Californian) produced the company. No complaints from this east-coaster at seeing ARCO in the puzzle.

  9. Burak says:

    ARCO/CECIL was the toughest spot on NYT. TAY was very fairly crossed, I didn’t even notice it as an entry. This type of theme is really mundane, but the puzzle made up for it with a beautifully constructed grid. So many fresh and bonus fills for a Tuesday.

    3.65 stars.

  10. Gareth says:

    Good luck for younger folks who haven’t done a crap-ton of crosswords @ 2D/14A in the LA Times…

  11. Beach bum says:

    Amy, about NY Times puzzle 3d. [Ears that can’t hear], CORN
    Rex Stout’s fictional detective Nero Wolfe has a roast corn recipe in “Trio for Blunt Instruments” (1964).
    “[The corn] must be nearly mature, but not quite, and it must be picked not more than three hours before it reaches me… Millions of American women, and some men, commit that outrage [boiling corn] every summer day. They are turning a superb treat into mere provender. Shucked and boiled in water, sweet corn is edible and nutritious; roasted in the husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted, nothing else, it is ambrosia. No chef’s ingenuity and imagination have ever created a finer dish.”

    • scrivener says:

      If it’s that fresh, why cook it at all? Fresh uncooked corn right off the stalk is one of life’s great pleasures.

      • Beach bum says:

        Thanks for the heads-up about eating fully-ripened corn off the stalk; I hadn’t heard of that.

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