Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jonesin' 3:41 
NYT 3:05 
LAT 2:36 
CS 4:46 (Dave) 
Xword Nation untimed (Janie) 

Zhouqin Burnikel and Don Gagliardo’s New York Times crossword

NYT crossword solution, 8 20 13, no. 0820

Really a nice Tuesday puzzle, no? Big theme: Abner DOUBLEDAY ties together the other theme answers, compound words or two-word phrases in which each word can partner with “day.”

  • 17a. [Research that may be outdoors], FIELDWORK. Field day, workday.
  • 26a. [Variable spring period], HOLY WEEK. Holy day, weekday.
  • 36a. [What employers tap to get employees], LABOR MARKET. Labor Day (two weeks from now), market day.
  • 50a. [Fortunate sort], LUCKY DOG. Your lucky day, the dog days of summer. This one’s a bit of an outlier, as “lucky day” and the singular “dog day” are not dictionary entries unto themselves.
  • 58a. [Supposed inventor of baseball ... or a hint to 17-, 26-, 36- and 50-Across], DOUBLEDAY.

Also nice: LAB COATS, TOUSLES, PATTY DUKE, MR. HYDE, TENSE UP.

Less nice: OBIS, ARNEL, NOB, TSO, RET.

How did you feel about ABS SYSTEM, 33d. [Auto safety feature, redundantly]? A = antilock, B = braking, S = system. I always want it to be ALB, anti-lock brakes, but to no avail. That L should rate a call-out! The locking (and prevention thereof) is the whole point. But no, the wishy-washy “system” charges in and demands a capital S. (See also: PIN number, ATM machine.)

Four stars. Gotta run.


Updated Tuesday morning:

Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Short People” – Dave Sullivan’s review

Amazing that this song by Randy Newman was a hit back in 1977, huh? I’d like to think we’re a bit more political correct 30 years hence. Anywho, we have four names in today’s puzzle which begin with a synonym of “short”:

CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword solution – 08/20/13

  • ["A Christmas Carol" character] clues TINY TIM CRATCHIT – unusual to see his full name in the grid, but needed to match the final theme entry in length. Oh, that muse of symmetry, she’s a demanding siren, ain’t she?
  • [One of Robin Hood's Merry Men] was LITTLE JOHN – Sunday evening, we watched a repeat of a 60 Minutes piece about the club of philanthropists called the Robin Hood Foundation, founded by multi-billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones. Thanks for giving back, people!
  • [Marryin' Sam portrayer in "Li'l Abner"] is STUBBY KAYE – no clue on this one, the word “stubby” reminds me of the butt end of a cigar and was probably chosen as a nickname for people similarly shaped.
  • [Nursery rhyme fellow] clues WEE WILLIE WINKIE – Did you know the original was written in Scots back in 1841 and begins thusly?

    Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toon,
    Up stairs an’ doon stairs in his nicht-gown,
    Tirlin’ at the window, crying at the lock,
    “Are the weans in their bed, for it’s now ten o’clock?”

    So are “weans” a contraction of “wee ones”? And what is “tirlin’”?

Fine puzzle with a nice longer crossing downs, TOTAL LOSS, SOBER UP and MANY A TIME. My FAVE entry goes to OINK with its cute clue, [Slop talk] (riff on shop talk, methinks). Runner up goes to [Thinks collected by a vecturist] which were TOKENS. They even have their own national assocation! My UNFAVE goes to the partial A BEE; I’m thinking that a better entry could’ve been chosen for that small 4×3 section, but that’s just a WEE nit.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle, “Stay Cool!”—Janie’s review

8/20 Crossword Nation

8/20 Crossword Nation

I’m going to whisper this because I don’t want to jinx anything, but here in New York (and throughout much of the mid-Atlantic area) we’ve had a blessedly temperate August. This after an eight-day spell of torrid days in July—and several in early June, too. Am sincerely hoping that, wherever you are, you’re comfortable as we find ourselves in the calendar’s “dog days.” And if perchance you aren’t, Liz has contrived a way to BEAT THE HEAT as the fill at 66A suggests we do—by bending it all out of shape (take a look at those circled letters…)—at times into images that are much more pleasant, less enervating, to contemplate.

Seated before your TV in the air-conditioned (or fan-cooled) comfort of your living room/family room/den, this would be the perfect time to rent a copy of WILD AT HEART [1990 crime thriller starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern]. And whether you take yours iced (in which case you may want an initial thirst-quenching SWIG) or steaming (sip! please!), a visit to a TEA HOUSE [Chinatown bistro] is sure to offer up a genuine “pause that refreshes.” With any luck, you’ll be presented with a check that demonstrates your server’s NEAT HANDWRITING [Easy-to-read script]. (This, btw, was the themer that I had the most trouble parsing. I kept seeing NEATH AND WRITING…..) And if you need a movie double-bill, give Summer Stock a whirl and smile as you get a load of Judy Garland selling the Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler great, “GET HAPPY” [Feel-good song from...].

I know you’ll be shocked (shocked!) but I don’t have tons to say about this puzzle. Still—in addition to that solid theme set (and the nifty letter-scrambling), I do want to highlight several items:

Cool beans!

Cool beans!

  • Besides the themers, there’s not a lot of longer fill. But when those longer items are JELLYBEAN and MINT GREEN—the latter clued with the layered and clever [The color of new money?]—all I can say is “thank you.” (In case the clue needs to be deciphered: it’s not about the nouveau riche. Newly-printed money comes from the MINT and the color of money is GREEN; ergo, MINT GREEN. Refreshing approach, no?) Now for those MINT-GREEN JELLYBEANS…
  • WITCHY and its clue [Spellbinding, like a Halloween figure] took me by surprise. Also very much put me in mind of the Eagles (circa 1972), and “WITCHY Woman.” The song actually goes a long way towards “spelling out” the clue!
  • In grid-opposition to WITCHY comes probably my favorite clue/fill combo of the day, the totally fabulous, goofy, hilarious ["Bo Peep, Bo Peep!"] which we’ve finally learned, is the translation of “BAA-BAA!” Amazing. Did ewe know that?
  • Right behind that, I’d have to add [Prom dress for a guy?] and TUX. That is, the conventional way for a guy to dress for the prom is by putting on a TUX.
  • How did you do with [Fight back?] and TEE? This one also took me a while to process—after which I had V-8 moment. This is one of those literal clues and Liz is telling us not to put up our dukes, but to look at the end (the back) of the word FIGHT, where we see the letter “TEE.” <head slap!> “I coulda had a V-8!”
  • Most troubling/difficult of the straight-forward answers: [En BANC (in full court)]. Tough one. Although BANC shows up a good deal in puzzles (usually clued in relation to the judge’s bench), this legal phrase is not a one I remember previously encountering in puzzles. Was also a bit bewildered by ELL‘s being clued as [Kitchen shape]. Must be my provincial Manhattan ways, where I think of alcove- or “ELL”-shaped studio apartments. Coming from the land of narrow, or small or Pullman-style kitchens, an ELL-shaped kitchen sounds like a flat-out luxury!
  • Not just another purty face…

    Finally, there’s the brilliant and not-to-be-overlooked [Cynical remark from a cyclops?]: “MY EYE!” This one cracked me up and I hope it gave you a good laugh as well.

And with that, I leave you ’til next week. Hope it’s a good one for you!

Steve Blais’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution, 8 20 13

Interesting theme—terms having to do with the sound qualities of music are included in phrases that have nothing to do with music:

  • 18a. [Thing to make when a Post-it isn't handy], MENTAL NOTE.
  • 23a. [Fan magazine for teens], TIGER BEAT.
  • 38a. [Best Picture of 1965, and a hint to the ends of 18-, 23-, 50- and 59-Across], THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
  • 50a. [Warm, muted color], EARTH TONE.
  • 59a. [Frenzied state], FEVER PITCH.

It would have been a more subtle theme if the central answer had been another theme entry—say, SKELETON KEY—rather than a revealer. Would have changed the entire grid to have a central 11, though.

Okay, who still prefers [Fred's dancing sister] as a clue for ADELE? Adele Astaire’s Broadway dancing career fell during the years 1918-1932; she wasn’t in movies, so it’s not as if we can all catch up on her career via Netflix. Adele Adkins, commonly called Adele, is a songwriter and singer with a zillion hit songs and albums, a handful of Grammys, and an Oscar. Her songs cross genres and appeal to a wide swath of the American public, not just those who are in her age group (she’s in her early 20s). Was ADELE just clued as the singer within the last week in the LAT puzzle or something?

Felt a little unexcited by the fill, what with ADESTE, RRR, IGA, RETAG, APSE, ITT, PST, RECTI, and ESSEN (would prefer no more than three such answers in a single 15×15). Lots of STALENESS! But AU NATUREL is lovely. This puzzle is really about nudists distracting themselves from the stale bread in their picnic sandwiches by listening to fine music.

3.33 stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Networking”

Jonesin’ crossword solution, 8 20 13 “Networking”

Matt gathers up phrases whose initials spell out the major TV networks, ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC:

  • 17a. [Alec Baldwin line in "Glengarry Glen Ross"], ALWAYS BE CLOSING. You know why that is important? Because coffee is for closers. You’re not a closer, you go buy your own coffee.
  • 26a. [Team nickname during a 1919 scandal], CHICAGO BLACK SOX.
  • 44a. [Tagline from a Montel Williams "Money Mutual" ad], NO BOUNCED CHECKS. I ignore such ads, so I had no idea but the crossings were workable.
  • 58a. [Compound based on the formula XeF (hey, cut me some slack; this was a tough one to find)], FLUORIDE OF XENON. Ha! I like the parenthetical punch line of the puzzle.

Lots of names in this puzzle, no? Among the tougher ones:

  • 12d. [Lead role in "La Cage aux Folles"], RENATO.
  • 14a. [John Coltrane ballad named after his wife (anagram of MANIA)], NAIMA.
  • 8d. [Alan who played Cameron Frye in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"], RUCK. He was also in Spin City, if memory serves.

Least favorite answer: 45d. [In a roundish way], OVALLY. Is that a word? Not every dictionary is on board. Can you use it in a sentence as clued? I don’t think something can be done in the manner of an oval. I think if you draw a circle freehand, it might end up a little ovally. I think ovally is an adjective meaning “like an oval” and not remotely an adverb.

Favorite fill: BIG BOX, Samuel BECKETT, HOAXES.

Clue that makes the least sense to me: 36a. [Tried the TV scene again], RETAPED. Is this a DVR/VCR aspect, or what’s happening on the set where they’re taping a TV show? It’s got to be the latter. But I’m betting that they routinely tape multiple takes of a scene, so they’re not “retaping.” Although! In the land of game shows, they can retape something that had bad sound or awkwardness, provided that it does not alter the game’s outcome. #beentheredonethat

3.5 stars.

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11 Responses to Tuesday, August 20, 2013

  1. Lars G. Doubleday says:

    Love the tribute to my great-great-grandfather!

  2. sbmanion says:

    I really liked this puzzle.

    The origin of baseball story is quite humorous. Doubleday is credited by some as the inventor, but apparently did not live in Cooperstown at the time he is credited with inventing it and to the best of my knowledge, never claimed to be the inventor. Cartwright, the other often-mentioned inventor, codified a set of rules (not universally followed), but never claimed credit for inventing the game.

    I think it is safe to say that the game developed from the countless ways one could invent to do things after striking a ball with a stick.

    Steve

  3. pannonica says:

    Amazing that this song by Randy Newman was a hit back in 1977, huh? I’d like to think we’re a bit more politically correct 30 years hence.

    A significant part of Randy Newman’s career is based on his acerbic satire which, in a rare hit record such as “Short People,” was predictably lost on the masses. See also “Political Science,” “Born Again,” the entire Good Old Boys album, and plenty of et al.

    edit: Upon rereading, perhaps you were in fact implying that those who blithely made it a hit were (sadly) insensitive.

    • Lois says:

      Pannonica, thank you for your comments and thoughtful response to Dave. I love Randy Newman. My short extended family gave me a hard time about this song also, and it was difficult to explain it to them. I don’t know if they were teasing me. Newman embarrassed me another time also, when he was honored and spoke at the YMHA (Young Men’s and Women’s Hebrew Association) in New York some decades ago, and made some remarks about Nazis that were not well understood, in the manner of his sympathetic songs about villains. Several elderly people walked out of the auditorium. The people I love often embarrass me.

      • Lois says:

        In “Political Science,” which Pannonica cites, Newman sings, “Let’s drop the big one and see what happens.” Do you think he means that?

        I’ve inserted this continuation after my earlier post. Dave’s “Yes,” just below, is of course his reply to Pannonica.

    • Evad says:

      Yes, that was my implication–a song with the line “Short people got no reason to live,” despite lines to the contrary further along in the song (such as “Short people are just the same as you or I”)–is offensive and the popularity of the song escapes me. I’m hoping it was because of the catchy tune instead of listeners actually agreeing with the sentiment.

      Lest someone claim that it was satire that shouldn’t be taken seriously, I doubt everyone gets that (I certainly don’t) and it’s best not to even go there. As mentioned in an earlier post a few days ago, there’s a reason for “political correctness” and it has to do with being sensitive to the feelings of others who are different than oneself.

      • Gary R says:

        “I do therefore humbly offer it to publick consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand Children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for Breed, whereof only one fourth part to be Males, which is more than we allow to Sheep, black Cattle, or Swine, and my reason is, that these Children are seldom the Fruits of Marriage, a Circumstance not much regarded by our Savages, therefore, one Male will be sufficient to serve four Females. That the remaining hundred thousand may at a year Old be offered in Sale to the persons of Quality and Fortune, through the Kingdom, always advising the Mother to let them Suck plentifully in the last Month, so as to render them Plump, and Fat for a good Table. A Child will make two Dishes at an Entertainment for Friends, and when the Family dines alone, the fore or hind Quarter will make a reasonable Dish, and seasoned with a little Pepper or Salt will be very good Boiled on the fourth Day, especially in Winter.”

        OMG – I just don’t get this guy, Swift. His writing must be banned!

        • pannonica says:

          Well done. It is satire and it should be taken seriously.

          • Evad says:

            I obviously don’t know enough about Randy’s oeuvre to comment on its satirical value. I guess I can see it having a place highlighting the threat of nuclear war (“dropping the big one”), but picking on the height-challenged just seems mean-spirited to me.

          • pannonica says:

            He tends to inhabit unsavory characters to communicate his points, which does often lead to misunderstanding. Especially in a society such as ours.

  4. pannonica says:

    Amy, I believe you’re being ovally rigorous in your questioning.

Comments are closed.