Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Jonesin' untimed (Derek) 


LAT 3:30 (Derek) 


NYT 3:33 (Amy) 


WSJ 5:22 (Laura) 


Xword Nation untimed (janie) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 368), “MP2 Players”—Janie’s take

Crossword Nation 6/19 (No. 368)

“MP2 Players”? Are these the betas of mp3s? Not to my knowledge. No, no. Instead the title is hinting at the FACT that each of the themers (or major players in the grid) contains a pair of M-P bigrams. M ‘n’ P sequentially, two times—with no N-O between ’em. ;-) What makes this easy kind of theme work well, especially for more experienced solvers, is the quality and variety of those theme phrases. Today they’re spot on. My only complaint (if you can even call it that) is that the solve was so smooth that it felt like it ended too quickly. And perhaps that’s a good indicator of why this is such an attractive puzz for beginning solvers. Or more experienced ones who just need something easy ‘n’ breezy for an early summer-like day. The themers:

  • 17A. LUMP-SUM PAYMENTS [Cash-distribution options for certain lottery winners]. Why, thank you. I’d love some! Ah, well. Lovely to contemplate, in any case.
  • 28A. OOMPA-LOOMPAS [Wonka’s employees in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”]. Classic Dahl with quite a backstory to it—not all of it pretty. Apparently, however, Dahl could and did hear the early criticism, and rewrote accordingly.
  • 45A. SHRIMP SCAMPI [Garlicky seafood dish that’s often served over pasta]. Why, thank you. That sounds lovely!
  • 59A. PUMPKIN EMPANADA [Traditional Mexican turnover that may be served at Thanksgiving dinner]. Now that sounds like a welcome addition to the conventional Amurrican fare. And if anyone’s interested, here’s a recipe for a little incentive. (How many PESOS for one of them, I wonder.) (It’s not traditional T’giving fare, but while we’re in Mexican-food territory, let’s note that the puzzle also serves up NACHOS [Cheesy, jalapeño-topped snacks].)

Two tasty edibles, one kid-lit classic and visions of “if-I-had-money-to-burn” make for a lively “MP2” theme set indeed. Only other long fill today comes to us through the potent (if laid-back-sounding) [SINGAPORE Sling (cocktail that’s served in a hurricane glass)] and the computer-centric USER NAMES [Log-in identifiers], conveniently located right beside [TECH support (computer help)] (and who sez there’s never help around when ya need it?). Seafaring literary hero HORATIO [Admiral Hornblower], cinema’s timeless SOPHIA Loren, the quaint and colorful EMPORIA [Large retail stores] and the viscerally-clued SWOONS [Goes weak in the knees] all contribute a fine array of mid-range fill. Ditto TRUISM, MUPPET and NACHOS. SPRAIN was clued as [Minor wrist injury]. Kinda wish it had been clued in conjunction with the ankle, just so it could pair up (well, in my mind anyway…) with “MY FOOT!” Love that this last one is clued ambiguously as [“Yeah, sure!”]. I.e., “LOVE TO!” is not the right response… (Along those tricky lines, [Person with convictions, perhaps] does not lead us to MODEL or IDEAL, but to FELON. Nice.)

And among your mp3s, you may have the soulful [“TRY A Little Tenderness”] (best Mondegreen scene with this song: Bull Durhamgive the first 40 seconds a go); songs by ICE-T [Rapper with a cool sounding name] (pun certainly intended); rock ‘n’ roll doo-wop group [SHA Na Na]; or classic rock’s “LAYLA” [Eric Clapton hit]. Something for everyone.

And on that inclusive note, I’ll bow out for the day. Whatever extremes the weather may be putting you through, hope you’re staying warm enough/cool enough. Longest day/shortest night of the year comin’ up on Thursday. Happy summer, all—and keep solving!

Martin Leechman’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Upgrading” — Laura’s review

WSJ - 6.19.18 - Solution

WSJ – 6.19.18 – Solution

The word chain, a variation of the word ladder, is what we’ve got here, upgrading from FAIL to PASS.

  • [17a: 1964 Cold War thriller starring Henry Fonda]: FAIL SAFE
  • [21a: Harassment-free campus spot]: SAFE SPACE
  • [32a: Flighty fellow]: SPACE CASE
  • [44a: Medical journal piece]: CASE STUDY
  • [55a: Quiet period]: STUDY HALL
  • [61a: A monitor may check one]: HALL PASS

Namey fill: ERTE, ESAU, ELLERY, LARA, WES, MEYERS, CRUSOE, PAT CASH, ED MEESE; flowery fill: TULIP, LILAC, PETUNIA; acronym watch: CSA, SFPD, WAAC, AWOL; unexpected confluence: CHANGE SEXIER ASIANS.

Never heard of it, and now I know: [33a: Fairy of Persian myth]: PERI. The figure of the peri was popular among the Georgians and Victorians when they started mining Islamic and Persian folklore for their Orientalist fantasies; Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe (1882) is subtitled “The Peer and the Peri.”

My second favorite credits sequence of 1970s TV is from [56a: Shout heard on New York streets]: TAXI.

Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 19 18, no 0619

The theme might have played well before Aurora. That mass shooting was about 6 years ago. Ever since, there’s been an unending stream of gun massacres that make a gun theme rather unsavory—and then there’s the addition of the two-part revealer, TRIGGER / WARNING ([With 25-Down, caution before a potentially upsetting lecture … or a hint to 19- and 59-Across and 7-Down?]). Basically, this whole puzzle needed a content warning.

The other themers are RIDES SHOTGUN, BAZOOKA BUBBLE GUM, and RIFLE THROUGH—all perfectly fine entries unto themselves, but when you add the WARNING about the gun TRIGGER, as opposed to a warning about content that might stress some people (for example, discussion of abuse or violence—not just in academic lectures but also in written materials and social media posts) … well, it stops being fun. We’ve had two gun massacres in American high schools in the past four months, and assorted other smaller mass shootings and school shootings. America, you’re breaking my heart.

If you’re interested in supporting advocacy efforts, consider Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Gabrielle Giffords’ group The Courage to Fight Gun Violence, or the Brady Campaign.

In other crossword news at the NYT, constructor Kameron Austin Collins was profiled in Deb Amlen’s “Who Made My Puzzle?” feature. He comments, “I’ve removed most gun references from my word list — I don’t know that I care so much about other people using them, as they’re a part of everyday life (and for reasons that aren’t strictly fatal). But I’m not that into them and didn’t feel like debating with myself over them every time they came up. Most urgently, the thought of inadvertently publishing a gun reference in the midst of national mourning over a fresh tragedy is pretty mortifying to me. You can’t control that kind of thing.” Thank you, Kameron. I hope other constructors follow suit.

There’s some nice fill in here, like ZOOTOPIA and Henri ROUSSEAU. There’s also some stuff that feels like a reach for newbies trying the Tuesday puzzle: APSE, DDR (which was just in another recent puzzle), ERG, TUM, SAN REMO.

The Sleeping Gypsy, Henri Rousseau, 1897

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “A Changing Business” – Derek’s write-up

I got a very nice “a-ha!” moment with this puzzle today. I caught on pretty quickly to the gimmick of the Ps changing to Bs, but I didn’t get the current event significance of it until very end, where the revealer is!

  • 17A [Gyro meat from a roadside cart?] STREET LAMB
  • 63A [Like some mushrooms, ravioli, and wontons a la “Rangoon”?] FULL OF CRAB
  • 11D [Be aware of unnecessary chatter?] MIND THE GAB
  • 28D [Baby bear owned by a hardware company?] STANLEY CUB
  • 71A [New restaurant logo in a June 2018 promotion (and inspiration for the theme answers)] IHOB

Yes, I have eaten at an IHOP once in the past 10 years. Not great food, but they DO have good pancakes. It is just that they seem to have terrible service. In our area, unemployment is ridiculously low, so restaurants have a lot of trouble finding help. Applebee’s also is a restaurant that I have found has notoriously bad service across the board. But that isn’t a commentary about people that work there: it’s that there isn’t anyone around to work! They recently closed an Applebee’s near my house. Probably was a mistake to have opened it anyway, because we don’t need THREE Applebee’s within 15 minutes of my house!

I forgot to set my timer, but this one went fairly quickly. My guess is 4ish minutes. I got plenty of sleep this weekend! 4.3 stars today.

Some notes, including a few obscure pop culture refs!

  • 26A [The Tritons of the NCAA] UCSD – UC San Diego is a mascot I am not familiar with. I believe you!
  • 30A [David __, founder and former CEO of Salon] TALBOT – Remember what I said about obscure pop refs?
  • 70A [Big name in car racks] THULE – I actually knew this one. I looked at a roof rack for my bikes from this brand. I still get spam from them!
  • 6D [“GET OUT” costar Lil __ Howery] REL – He was the funniest part of this movie. By far!
  • 34D [Honda subdivisioni] ACURA – I believe this is actually not a subdivision but a separate entity now. I think.
  • 57D [Actress Summer of “Firefly”] GLAU – She looks familiar. I’ve never seen Firefly. I HAVE seen … the episode of Castle she was in!?

It’s nice and hot here. I am not complaining! At least it isn’t snowing!

Joe Schewe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Is it Joe “Shoe” as the pronunciation? I don’t know this byline. Normally when I don’t know the constructor I struggle with the puzzle. Not the case with this one! As I mentioned in the Jonesin’ write-up, I had plenty of sleep! The revealer is in the middle, so you actually know what is going on halfway through the puzzle, but for some reason that didn’t make the other them answers any easier!

  • 17A [Carry only a carry-on, say] TRAVEL LIGHT
  • 24A [MLB’s National League nickname (because it was founded first)] SENIOR CIRCUIT
  • 47A [Unscrupulous sales tactic] BAIT AND SWITCH
  • 57A [Chaw in a cheek] TOBACCO PLUG
  • 39A [Tense with excitement … and a hint to the ends of the four longest puzzle answers] WIRED

I work for an electrical contractor, and I actually start working for a DIFFERENT electrical contractor on July 2, so these terms (light, circuit, switch and plug) are all extremely familiar to me. Even though I am just the accountant! A solid 4.4 for a fun Tuesday puzzle.

A few more things:

  • 11A [Clavell’s “__-Pan”] TAI – I remember watching Shōgun years ago, but I have never read either book. Both are part of a series called The Asian Saga, which consists of seven total novels.
  • 15A [IRA-establishing legislation] ERISA – This is a little tough for a Tuesday, I think. I’ve only seen this a few times ever that I can remember.
  • 44A [Martin of “Route 66”] MILNER – This is also a little tough. And dated! I don’t remember him, and I don’t think I watched this show much, even while it was in syndication. He was also in Adam-12, which I also only vaguely remember watching. This is him in the forefront of this image:
  • 63A [Downloadable read] E-BOOK – Maybe I will download the e-book for Tai-Pan!
  • 7D [Ocean State sch.] URI – I hear it is beautiful there, but I am still looking for someplace where it doesn’t snow!
  • 26D [Loud crowds] ROARERS – Nobody says this! It seems more apt to say that lions would be “roarers,” but even then …
  • 43D [Land a plane] SET DOWN – This could easily have been SIT DOWN, and the ZEN changed to ZIN. That seems easier to me. Just my opinion!

Have a great week!

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19 Responses to Tuesday, June 19, 2018

  1. Jenni Levy says:

    In addition to all of Amy’s excellent points about the tone-deafness of this theme, the revealer also trivializes trigger warnings in academia. It’s not about “upsetting.” From my friend Colleen Clemens, the director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Kutztown University: “A trigger is different than a discomfort….A trigger is an actual symptom of something — usually PTSD related. I don’t know what these students are bringing in here.”
    Read more at https://www.phillymag.com/news/2016/08/29/in-defense-of-trigger-warnings/#806989VgL7JwIDsB.99

    That article is from 2016 when there was a lot of public discussion of trigger warnings. Wonder if the puzzle is, too.

    • Sara N says:

      I agree, Jenni. I am not a fan of guns in the theme generally, but the use of TRIGGER WARNING is what made me find this particular puzzle so distasteful.

      As your friend wrote, trigger warnings are not just to help people avoid vaguely “upsetting” topics, but to let those who suffered from of trauma have the space to avoid something that might “trigger” a PTSD-related episode. Throwing the phrase around in a joking manner, as was done in this puzzle, further distances it from its true meaning and makes it harder for it to serve its true purpose: respecting those who have gone through some pretty heavy stuff.

    • Richard says:

      A quick glance through the major dictionaries shows that, in defining “trigger warning” all of them use words like “upsetting” or “distressing,” while only about half refer to “trauma.” The original use of the phrase “trigger warning” was pretty clearly focused on trauma, but when it came into the wider culture that element was lost for most people, and it’s worth reminding them of its roots.

      • Steve Manion says:

        I represented two people who have 100% PTSD disabilities arising out of their service in Vietnam. One was a search and destroy soldier whose assignment at age 18 was to go into a village, area or whatever and destroy everything. The other was a tunnel rat. The first soldier to this day needs to be a certain number of feet away from others or he freaks; the second needs to walk around the perimeter of his house every night before he can go to bed. Those two soldiers opened my eyes to the reality of PTSD.

        As I read posts like today’s, I start from the perspective of PTSD is real and debilitating and people who have it need to be respected. At the same time, I am very put off by snowflake PTSD.

        • e.a. says:

          steve could you please go into more detail on which types of trauma are real and valid and which are the fake snowflake kind so i know which people in my life i should and should not have empathy for

          • Steve Manion says:

            I get the snideness of your remark. For me, actual experience rules, precisely what is being alluded to in the distinction between trauma and discomfiture.

            • Jenni Levy says:

              Is emotional abuse “actual experience?” Or do you have to kill people or watch other people kill others? What about a woman being terrorized by an intimate partner? Is that “actual experience?”

              You realize you are judging “actual experience” by some rubric that makes sense to you and is, undoubtedly, wrong for at least some people you deem to be “snowflakes.” And forcing people to explain their trauma so you can decide if they’re worthy is retraumatizing – or is that not “actual experience?”

              Your approach will cause the people who don’t fit your definition to be damaged so you can be sure in your own mind that no one is being “coddled.” Me, I’d rather do my best to help *everyone* avoid repeated trauma exposure – and you can judge that, too.

            • Steve Manion says:

              The examples I gave are of actual people whose lives were irretrievably ruined because of their experience in the war. They both receive something like $3,800 a month from the government for the rest of their lives.
              I did not suggest that emotional abuse is not traumatic. How can you possibly conclude that I believe emotional abuse is not traumatic? You have created a straw mean that does not exist to make a general point that can be over the top. I will give you an example of snowflake trauma IMO: Someone who has no stake in any of the children who were killed in a school shooting who is “traumatized” by seeing pictures of the children (not their dead bodies).
              I only raised the issue today because I believe that snowflakes are hurting liberalism more than helping it.

    • Mary says:

      Totally agree, Jenni. One thing I haven’t seen is Peter Gordon commenting on any of this, here or on Wordplay. Or did I miss something? C’mon, Peter, what’s going on?

  2. Douglas says:

    Can someone explain the revealer in the Puzzle Society Crossword http://uclick.iwin.com/game/play/psc-crossword today?

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Terms of endearment. The meaning of LOVE in the revealer is changed to a form of address, as in, “Pass the salt, love.” LOVE IS ALL AROUND is meant to indicate you’ll find pet names bookended in the other theme answers: BABY, HONEY, etc.

      I confess I never knew the title of The Mary Tyler Moore Showtheme song. The only line I remember is, “She’s gonna make it after all.” But the constructor is a Minnesota resident, where the show was set, so I’m sure she’s heard it several times over the years.

      My difficulty with the revealer, the The Who song, and some other tricky spots, made this grid less smooth than the usual Burnikel.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    Will’s commentary on WordPlay enrages me even more. He edited the Ben Carson clue because Carson might not be in the Cabinet when the puzzle is published in syndication or collected in a book – and he didn’t, apparently, consider that one or both of those events might coincide with another mass shooting. AARGHHH.

  4. Burak says:

    I solved the NYT today. I think it’s a meta, but I can’t settle on the right answer. I’m debating between TONEDEAF, DISTASTEFUL or OUTRAGEOUS.

  5. Richard says:

    In the Jonesin’ writeup, I believe that’s Summer GLAU, where Summer GUSH would likely be a water park ride or juice product.

  6. John D Child says:

    Why isn’t there a zero stars rating option? Or a way to vote a puzzle down rather than up?

  7. JohnH says:

    Gotta say, I’m grateful that this site allows comments through unique log-in, and I’m totally happy with sites that use Disqus as well. The Tim Croce site (Club 72 puzzles) requires logging in via Facebook or WordPress and the like.

    The one thing we should have learned from the recent Facebook scandals is that if you use its log-in with 3rd party software, you’re dead. If I gave over to a 3rd party my WordPress log-in, I have no doubt that my own Web site would be compromised in a minute, and 20+ years of achievement would be dead. So please, please don’t even go there.

    And please, too, if you ever visit his site and do his puzzles, join with me in letting him know. I’ve tried.

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