Old coupon for needy / MON 9-25-17 / Soupy oliver twist fare / Active during daytime

Monday, September 25, 2017

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (i.e. slightly harder than the average Monday puzzle, solely because of the crossing and cross-referenced themers)

THEME: hyphenated 10-letter adjectives where both halves (before and after the hyphen) intersect at the middle letter 

Theme answers:
  • HANDY / DANDY (17A: With 3-Down, useful)
  • HOITY / TOITY (19A: With 11-Down, snobbish)
  • HOTSY / TOTSY (39A: With 29-Down, sophisticated)
  • LOVEY / DOVEY (58A: With 48-Down, affectionate)
  • NAMBY / PAMBY (60A: With 51-Down, weak and indecisive)
Word of the Day: DIURNAL (43D: Active during the daytime) —
adjective: diurnal
  1. 1.
    of or during the day.
    synonyms:daily, everyday, quotidian, occurring every/each day

    "the patient's moods are determined by diurnal events"
    • Zoology
      (of animals) active in the daytime.
    • Botany
      (of flowers) open only during the day.
  2. 2.
    daily; of each day.

    "diurnal rhythms"

    synonyms:daily, everyday, quotidian, occurring every/each day

    "the patient's moods are determined by diurnal events" (google)
• • •

Hey all. I hope you had fun in my absence. Many thanks to my sterling stand-ins, Lena and Laura, who responded to my emergency call. Actually, it was a double emergency. Emergency 1: my internet got (mysteriously) shut off. Just ... dead. All remedies useless. All technical assistance futile. Didn't get back up til today, when the cable guy got out of his van, took one look up the pole, and said, "Yeah, your cable was mistakenly disconnected." Good to know! And then there was Emergency 2: I had urgent business in New York City on Friday. You see, it was my daughter's 17th birthday, and somebody (possibly the world's greatest father) got her (and her best friend!) tickets to see some show called ... [checks Playbill] ... "Hamilton"? Have you heard of it? Grudgingly, my wife and I came along as chaperones:

Basically the (absolutely real) internet outage neatly coincided with my Broadway plans. Some tragedies have upsides. Note: Today's puzzle is not one of those tragedies. The quaintness here is cloying. Also, I don't think anyone says HOTSY / TOTSY ... like, ever. Wasn't one part of that expression recently in a grid? And it made everyone groan in anguish and the horribleness? Yes, I'm sure that happened. I honestly don't even know what HOTSY / TOTSY means. I would not have guessed [Sophisticated]. Sounds more like [Having pretensions to sophistication]. So befuddled was I by the expression that I spent many seconds looking at HO-SY / TO-SY wondering what else could work there *besides* the "T." My second biggest theme answer objection related to NAMBY-PAMBY, which is pejorative slang for a "weak and indecisive *man*." It's basically related to SISSY and therefore can f*** right off. It's meant to suggest "effeminacy," and it's meant to suggest it negatively (duh), so pfffftfefpfdgt bite me.

FOOD STAMP in the singular is weird—never seen it that way before (33A: Old coupon for the needy). DIURNAL is a pretty high-and-in-fastball SAT word, but I must've picked it up in some poetry class somewhere. Sounds Wordsworthian. Oh, snap! I just googled [Diurnal poem] and Wordsworth was the first hit! Shout-out to Arden Reed, my Romantic Poetry professor (Spring 1990). Some of it stuck!

Overall, the fill is just OK, but about as polished as it has any right to be given the onerous pressure the theme puts on the grid. BULLMOOSE is welcome in my grid any day (8D: Symbol of Teddy Roosevelt's political party).

Happy 11th birthday to this blog. The Bloggiversary is always a good time to revisit the first comment my blog ever got. A classic of its kind. Everything about it is so pure. Enjoy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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Tennis world since 1968 / SUN 9-24-17 / St Louis Arch / Det Tutuola / Where Spartacus was from / Financial insititution whose parent is Canadian / Salinger title name / Rice-a- / Hydroxyl compound / Resort near Snowbird / Shepherd Moons singer / Oscar-winning foreign film of 2005 set in South Africa / Walter Dodgers owner / Writer of the Gnat and the Bull / Sister of Helios / Art Cleveland Browns owner

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy (19:00 exactly)

THEME: "State Lines" — Phrases are reinterpreted as if two-letter words were state abbreviations.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: "Try not to miss Bangor and Lewiston"? CATCH ME (Maine) IF YOU CAN
  • 34A: 2:00 in New York vis-à-vis St. Louis? ONE MO (Missouri) TIME
  • 50A: Whistler from two Eastern states? MA (Massachusetts) AND PA (Pennsylvania) KETTLE
  • 68A: "We shouldn't sell our Fort Wayne home"? LET'S KEEP THIS IN (Indiana) HOUSE
  • 86A: "Sooner this, Sooner that ... can't you talk about any other subject? EVERYTHING'S OK (Oklahoma)
  •  100A: Deal another blackjack card to a young woman from Salem? HIT OR (Oregon) MISS
  • 117A: Midwest state secedes and will join the United Kingdom? OH (Ohio) TO BE IN ENGLAND
Word of the Day: EDH (5D: Icelandic letter) —
Eth (/ɛð/, uppercase: Ð, lowercase: ð; also spelled edh or eð) is a letter used in Old English, Middle English, Icelandic, Faroese (in which it is called edd), and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. It is often transliterated as d (and d- is rarely used as a mnemonic). The lowercase version has been adopted to represent a voiced dental fricative in the International Phonetic Alphabet. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Given my extensive familiarity with the Icelandic alphabet, I confidently typed in ETH, and was stymied in the NW until finishing the puzzle. Actually, I LIED (105D: Fabulist's confession) -- I don't know any Icelandic. We've seen many, many state abbreviation themes, and this is a reasonably unique twist. Had a chuckle at LET'S KEEP THIS IN HOUSE and OH TO BE IN ENGLAND. MA AND PA KETTLE and ONE MO TIME seemed a bit of a stretch. There are a few missed opportunities with this one -- how about YOU CAN CALL ME AL (Mobile nickname?), or CO OPERATION (Legal weed business?), or DOOGIE HOWSER MD (Neal Patrick Harris dramedy set in Baltimore?), or KY JELLY (Homemade strawberry preserves from Louisville?). But overall, it MADE SENSE (47D: Added up), even if it was not necessarily TOP HOLE (52D: First-rate, in British slang). While we're making WACKO (12D: Nutsy) jokes about states, why isn't MO's motto "Missouri Loves Company"?

Gonna bring you barley, carrots and pertaters

So... my understanding is that repeated three-letter strings are awkward but often unavoidable, but that constructors should be STEERED (124A: Directed) away from repeated four-letter strings. That's why I had a bit of a 119D: "Who'da thunk it?!" (GEE) moment to see both MOAN (43A: Haunted house sound) and MOANA (95A: Big 2016 film set in Polynesia). I appreciated that AA MEETING (42D: Part of a recovery effort) and IN REHAB (65D: Getting help getting clean) were clued without cutesy jokes about addiction. EWE ELK EEL ETE EPI, EERO EDGE ESME ETUI.

  • 125A: Having braids (TRESSED) — I don't think that's a thing. It's been used before, but, no. I'm sTRESSED just looking at it.
  • 108D: Jeff ___, leader of the Electric Light Orchestra (LYNNE) — For once, ELO gets to be a clue instead of an answer.
  • 28A: Kind of torch on "Survivor" (TIKI) — So remember how this photo went viral on the internets after those Nazi assholes marched in Charlottesville and carried TIKI© Brand torches while spewing racist crap? Turns out that even though the manufacturer of TIKI© Brand torches did indeed issue a statement denouncing the use of their product for racist crap by Nazi assholes, this particular sign regarding the use of TIKI© Brand torches for racist crap by Nazi assholes was actually a stunt by a Funny or Die writer.
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

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