High-pitched group with 1958 #1 hit / WED 10-23-13 / Rush-hour subway rider metaphorically / Band with 1987 hit Need You Tonight / New British Royal of 2013 / Carnaby Street's locale / Spanish province its capital / Tito King of Latin music

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Constructor: Robyn Weintraub

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BACK-TO-BACK GAMES (62A: Doubleheader ... or what 17-, 29- and 48-Across are?)— theme answers are the names of two games, imagined as a wacky phrase (clued "?"-style)

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Tornado monitors? (TWISTER CHECKERS)
  • 29A: What the only detective on a case has? (CLUE MONOPOLY)
  • 48A: What a remorseful Iago might have said? (SORRY, OTHELLO)

Word of the Day: Jean-LUC Godard (7D: Director Jean-___ Godard) —
Jean-Luc Godard (French: [ʒɑ̃lyk ɡɔdaʁ]; born 3 December 1930) is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement La Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave". (wikipedia)
• • •

My fastest Wednesday in the last two months, but other people's times seem to be running somewhat closer to normal. I just don't see anything tough here. Maybe if you don't know the names of common games, this would play offer some resistance, but otherwise, all terms and phrases are right over the plate. The fill is solid to the point of boring, though some of the mid-range stuff is colorful ("I GOT IT!", FAKE ID, GOOD COP). The theme works fine, but the wacky phrases involved don't yield much humor. Also, so many game names were left on the table. Seems like there should've been wackier / wilder possibilities out there. LIFE? OPERATION? BATTLESHIP? Those are just off the top of my head. There must be tons of viable game names. And we get just three theme answers. Six games. Kind of underwhelming. But still, as I say, the theme's core logic is sound and the fill is sturdy. Hard to fault it for anything other than a vague kind of dullness.

I keep looking at HOS and forgetting what the clue is (4D: Yuletide interjections). Really think ARCS / SOS was the way to go there. Actually, there are probably a ton of other ways to go in that little corner of the grid. HOS bugs me. It's so a. not a thing and b. unnecessary. I find myself without much of an opinion about any of the rest of this, so I'll just stop.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:04 AM  

I don't know if it should have, but it definitely could have been made into a Sunday-sized theme with many more theme answers.

jae 12:05 AM  

Yep, this was supposed to be yesterday's puzzle.   Only erasures were ooze for SOUP and TiCK for TOCK.  Both quickly fixed.   Only slowed down when I misread revolting as revolving.   

This would have been about perfect for a Tues.  Well known games, a pretty smooth grid, a hint of zip...GOOD COP, INXS, FAKE ID, CHIPMUNKS, HOS (if reclued)... Liked it. 

Steve J 12:08 AM  

Liked this. The theme was reasonably clever (while there are plenty themes involving mixing like things, I don't recall mixing classic board games), the theme answers were reasonably zippy - CLUE MONOPOLY was the weakest of the bunch, but still not too bad - and the revealer was actually helpful (at least to me).

Other fill was pretty good, too. Particularly liked SARDINE, GOOD COP and FAKE ID. Low levels of clunky filler (although the three-letter fill got a tad abbreviation-happy).

Clue for 51A felt a smidge off.

True, there's nothing terribly daring here, but they can't all be knockouts. Nothing wrong with a competently made middle-of-the-road puzzle, especially in the middle of the week. This fit the bill.

Steve J 12:09 AM  

@jae: I wonder how many variations there ended up being for 68A. I had GOOP at one point.

gifcan 12:11 AM  

Zipped through this one and enjoyed it very much.

Perhaps a Norwegian snake whisperer EASES OSLO ASPS.

Maybe not.

88Bear 12:17 AM  

On my Crosswords app, this puzzle loaded when I clicked on Tuesday on the calendar, and it felt like a Tuesday.

Max 12:18 AM  

I think this was my fastest Wednesday ever. Just over 10 minutes with very little hesitation. Never heard of the game othello, though, but Iago gave it away very easily.

wreck 12:51 AM  

yep............ Tuesday and Wednesday could have been swapped!

Questinia 12:56 AM  

This puzzle gave me the heebie jeebies. Why?
Because before solving it I had written the line " it didn't play like CLUE" and then went off to eat a CUTLET that was SAUTEed.

If a puzzle can read the past can it read the future? Can it be used as a Ouija? Or could it influence one's future consciousness and actions? A priori? A posteriori? Determinism? Free Will... Shortz?

I suppose it falls under the " if you go through Grand Central Station in NY frequently enough you will meet most all of the people you know" category.

Almost as strange as when the capcha was my nickname.

ESP 1:04 AM  

Too often the trade-off for a sharply defined theme in these "wacky phrase" puzzles is dull theme entries.

I prefer a looser theme (hold the revealer, thanks) with whip-smart themers over this. Sure, there might theoretically be infinite theme possibilities if a theme is too simplistic, but if only the cream of the crop are included I find that much more appealing than something like today's puzzle.

chefwen 1:35 AM  

@joho called it, this one was much easier than yesterdays. Not one write-over here. YooHoo!

@mac - More food terms, Looove it!

@Gill I.P.- I think the lime wedge DOOHICKEY was invented to keep flies off of your beer bottle rim, at least, that was what I was told.

Good Wednesday/Tuesday puzzle, thank you Robyn.

Carola 2:16 AM  

Fun, easy Wednesday. Got a smile out of "SORRY, OTHELLO" and NEIL SIMON being paired grid-wise with the CHIPMUNKS. SAUTEd SARDINE CUTLET, anyone?

Anonymous 2:17 AM  

Hos is plural slang for prostitute - so it is something. Just sayin.

Aria Cafe Micros 3:49 AM  

Fun theme! It would be interesting to see more, but the nice 15 letter reveal makes up for it all.

Wow, no one can win any more, no crap fill, so then folks complain it's dull!


GILL I. 7:23 AM  

Yes, twas easy but I like to be entertained and this did it for me.
Had my BOA and ASPS mixed up. Liked the frenchy BETE LUC DEUX ETRE and hearing Tito PUENTE always makes me want to get up and cha cha...(@chefwen...on a table?)
Thanks Ms Weintraub - more please

John V 7:27 AM  

Easy for a Monday, to me. Fun, clean, neat theme.

MikeM 7:31 AM  

Anyone else notice on the hard copy page there is an advertisement for a Jean-LUC Godard film ?

Mohair Sam 7:34 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle that really should have been a Tuesday - just as yesterday should have been a Wednesday. Mr. Shortz seems to be on a run of flip/flopping days recently.

Fun theme that might have been expanded into a wonderful Sunday.

Evan 7:51 AM  

Pretty easy for me. Solid for a Wednesday. @Anonymous 2:17 already mentioned that HOS definitely are a thing, just not a thing that's printable for the Times.

Some other themers:

LIFE RISK: Death-defying stunt, e.g.?
GUESS WHO, OTHELLO: Desdemona's question while covering her husband's eyes?
OPERATION TROUBLE: Post-surgical woe?
MASTERMIND POKER: Einstein's incessantly annoying Facebook friend?

One could open up the possibilities for theme answers even more if you include video games in the bunch, although that almost certainly wouldn't have flown in the Times. I still like PACMAN DOOM (Running into Blinky, Pinky, Inky, or Clyde?) and TOMB RAIDER HALO (Lara Croft's overhead light?).

Z 8:01 AM  

@Questina - I always wonder how Godard's mom managed to be a Star Trek-TNG fan six decades before it aired.

OTHELLO is also known as Reversi. Wikipedia tells me that OTHELLO is the brand name of the older game.

This could easily have been published Tuesday, or even Monday.

Beer Rating - A nice Amber Ale. A nice Hop/Malt balance with just enough flavor to be interesting without overwhelming.

(First attempt to post disappeared. Hopefully this isn't a repeat)

Loren Muse Smith 8:05 AM  

Ok. I GOT IT. I SEE. IOU you one, Robyn – my ego is back in check after dispatching this fun one handily.

@Steve J – funny – CLUE MONOPOLY made me smile. I can see a junior detective whining because some hot shot GOOD COP has a CLUE MONOPOLY on a case and is not sharing. SORRY, OTHELLO is fun, too, in the spirit of “Besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

I liked AINT, FAKE ID, CHIPMUNKS, GOOD COP, and the clue for ELATE.

@jae and @Steve J – I considered “ooze” before SEEP. Huh.

@Gill I.P. – post your Cha Cha video to YouTube, por favor.

FAKE ID - I used to have to card people when I was a cocktail waitress in Atlanta. I always really just looked at the picture, figuring no one would show me an ID if s/he were not old enough. So when, at 19, I went with Dean S from Georgia Southern to a bar in Hilton Head, SC, I realized when we were almost there that the legal age then was not Ga’s 18, but rather 21. And we had driven an hour and a half. So. . . I gave my license to the waitress like there was no problem, and it worked like a charm. She looked only at the picture. Hi, Mom.

Thanks again, Robyn. I liked it!

joho 8:18 AM  

Fun, upbeat theme with a great reveal! And, yes, @chefwen, easier than yesterday.

I think a puzzle's a hit when solvers start coming up with their own theme answers and clues.

Good one, Robyn, thanks!

Z 8:23 AM  

@LMS - Used to work at a party store (Campus Beverage). The local cops ran the boy scout trap on a semi-regular basis (send in an under age kid to try to buy, cite the business if the kid managed to pull it off). As a result we had a sign at the check-out counter that said "if you don't look 30 we will card you." One evening a woman walked up with a six-pack. I'm thinking I'll be nice and card her, thinking she was late 20's or early 30's. I think my embarrassed, mouth agape expression when I realized I just carded a 51 year-old made her day.

Loren Muse Smith 8:32 AM  

@Z - Great story! I'm 52 and get carded all the time. Right. When my son was 18, he was visiting friends in upstate NY. They decided to procure a six pack, and my son was chosen to try it because he's really tall. My son told me that as he was heading to the cashier, who sported a turban and was already crossing his arms and shaking his head in that, "Son, that dog's not gonna hunt" way. My son put the beer on the counter, smiled, put his hands together in front of his chest and said, "Namaste." The clerk was so suprised he sold him the beer. I was stunned when he told me this, because both my kids run the other way whenever the subject of language comes up. He told me he listened more that I realized. (I have made sure he knows now "Sat sri akal" so he can really wow a Sikh next time!)

@Evan and @Gill I.P. - Risk Hungry Hippos?

Compulsive ESPN viewer 8:36 AM  

If you're going to clue BACKTOBACKGAMES via a sports reference, at least use a sports situation that people actually call BACKTOBACKGAMES to do so. BACKTOBACKGAMES are played in sports where the norm is to have a day off between games (basketball, hockey) but for scheduling reasons the games are played on sequential days.

Unknown 8:48 AM  

Loved Twister-Checkers. Missing Chubby!

jberg 8:49 AM  

A video game theme answer would be great with this grid, which looks like one of the attackers in Space Invaders. Aside from that, what everyone else said. My biggest problem was careless writing of CUTLET, so that the final T looked like an L - made it hard to see STEELS.

SORRY OTHELLO didn't seem quite right to me - at least, not clued with Iago. I guess it's because the game is named for the character in the first place, so it doesn't have the same double-meaning element. But then, neither does CLUE. I still liked it.

Everything is getting repeated this week -- ASTI, double headers ...

Hey, @anon2:17 -- you'll enjoy this blog more if you look for subtlety. Both @jae and probably @Rex as well were hinting at that definition for HOS.

@MikeM - I solve in the paper, too, but I always fold it into quarters first - so I hadn't noticed that Godard ad! They should give Will Shortz a veto over what else goes on the page!

oldbizmark 8:52 AM  

easy-easy for me. thought this was a monday puzzle... and it probably should have been. no challenge whatsoever and boring theme.

chefbea 9:35 AM  

Yummy puzzle - 8 food related words...don't think there are that many U's.

Hand up for much easier than yesterday

OISK 9:45 AM  

Thanks, Robyn. Really enjoyable puzzle, clever theme, cute game combinations, can't find anything not to love...well, there is the almost inevitable "rock group I have never heard of" clue, but this one was INXS, which has been in the puzzle enough times for me to get it, just the way non-sports fans can get "OTT."

My time was average for a Wednesday, my enjoyment way above average.

mathguy 9:47 AM  

Just one step over the border from Boringsville.

SanFranMan: I miss your stats.

Milford 10:25 AM  

Board games and food - what's not to enjoy here? Two of my favorite things. Solved it in almost exactly the same time as Tuesday's. Agree that this could be a nice Sunday theme. It kind of reminds me of the puzzle they show in "Wordplay" that used magazine titles (e.g. FAMILY CIRCLE GAMES, I think was one).

OTHELLO is one of those games we taught our kids, and very soon they were beating us at it.

Took me a very, very long time to understand ELATE = "Make up?" Good one!

Evan 10:27 AM  


What do you mean miss? He still posts them every day or almost every day.

mac 10:36 AM  

Fun, easy Wednesday. Had to laugh at Sorry, Othello!

I like the misdirect at Pierre's pair, of course I considered the Rs.

My kitchen smells good, I'm roasting peppers. In a while it will smell like apple galette.
Certainly hope I will not sicken my guests with the colatura.

Notsofast 10:54 AM  

Fun was had. Kudos!

quilter1 11:13 AM  

Fell easily and felt fresh. What's not to like?

Bill 11:53 AM  

Still not getting Make Up = Elate
Could someone clue me in?

H_Bob 11:54 AM  

When I first got TWISTERCHECKERS, I started thinking the theme had something to do with 50s-era music. Glad I was wrong.

GILL I. 12:03 PM  

Hi @Loren...Well, I thought you'd never ask!

Tito PUENTE and me at age 52 doing the chacha

Helpful guy 12:04 PM  

@Bill to Make (someone more ) up (in mood) is to elate them

GILL I. 12:18 PM  

Well, lets try another one:
I'm the chick in pink

GILL I. 12:20 PM  

I give up

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:26 PM  

Superduper theme idea. 62-Across is a cool revealer, but seems like droppin a couple more games in there might have been even more fun. Don't need to thump us over the head with what the puzzle's about, at that point. Kinda agree with 4-Oh's feeling of wantin to play more games, instead.




Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Just to add one more for Evan: Link rapacious pachyderm quadruplets--CONNECT FOUR HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS

Jisvan 1:05 PM  

@Gill I. P.: Imagining you and Tito Puente doing the cha cha, perhaps on a table, may be even better than the actual video...

M and A also 1:16 PM  

4-Oh's thing for HOS reminds me of a recent picture that Jimmy Falon showed of someone's TV program lineup screen:

Ask This Old Ho... Martha Stewart


Wondered why NW didn't go with ASTA/ASP. duh...Cuz then SE would hafta go with IDI/ISPS, M&A breath.

ARS: Better clue... [Cockney cackles].

LaneB 1:26 PM  

Enjoyed this pne greatly even though I started by filling weather instead of TWUSTER. But the rest of it worked our smoothly , finally making the NW obvious. O happy Wednesday! Thanks to Robyn Weintraub.

Bird 1:38 PM  

This one fell quicker than yesterday’s as I had no problems getting the answers. Only observation is for 25A – any self-respecting poker player would not allow an IOU in the pot. OK, HOS is not that pretty

This puzzle minored in BACK-TO-BACK GAMES and majored in food (SAUTE, BAKERY, CUTLET, SOUP, RYE, SARDINE, CAFÉ, OKRA). As long as we aren’t SICKENed by the fill and wind up in ERS. SORRY.

Happy Humpday!

Lewis 1:39 PM  

Solid puzzle with little grid gruel, and spark, as Acme has noted, and clever theme and reveal.

I like LIAR crossing FAKEID.

acme 1:42 PM  

Apparently 180 folks signed up for LA Crossword tourney this Sat Oct 26th in Santa Monica! 20 walk-in spaces left if anyone out there didn't know about it and is nearby!

mitchs 2:15 PM  

Just fyi: Ben Tausig's Inkwell puzzle this week is terrific.

DigitalDan 2:45 PM  

Hands up for ooze. Primordial soup is neither as familiar nor as poetic.

ahimsa 2:54 PM  

Not boring for me! Very cute theme, kudos to Robyn Weintraub!

All three theme entries made me smile but especially SORRY OTHELLO. It didn't matter to me that the game is named after Othello -- still a funny juxtaposition.

Liked CHIPMUNKS, I GOT IT, GOOD COP, FAKE ID, NEIL SIMON. Too boring? I don't understand that criticism. I thought it was great to have a puzzle without lots of dreck fill.

The game theme was so obvious that, for me, the last item could have been another set of games instead of a reveal.

How about MYSTERY DATE RISK? :-) Anyone out there remember that horrible board game?

1960s Mystery Date commercial

Nameless 3:45 PM  

Those REBELs sure are revolting.

Yeah. And they stink, too.

M and A's Last Silver Bullet 4:30 PM  

@ahimsa: Mystery Date sounds like a game my sister might make me play, mainly for its torture potential.

Seems like the very best games always had a one-word title: Chess, Risk, Scrabble, Cabby, Sorry, Clue. Sorry was a neat one to play at Christmas, as family members could gang up on each other, and go after each other's throats. Uncle Zeke really knew how to play one faction off against another... But I digress.


Sandy K 4:35 PM  

Fun puzzle! I thought the themers and revealer were cute, schlocky fill was not INXS, longer answers were fine! Was Not bored at all...

Faves were "SORRY, OTHELLO", GOOD COP, and as was mentioned, I GOT IT- I SEE FAKE ID! LIAR!

Big day for 43A- Besides his debut in the NYT Xword, he's been on the news all day- he was just christened...

Jim 8:29 PM  

Can't believe you left out The Spinners here. ;)


spacecraft 11:27 AM  

I'll try one. Title of an MBA course, maybe? RISK: THEGAMEOFLIFE. True, it'd have to go into a Sunday grid (note: the actual name of the latter is the whole phrase, not just "LIFE.")

I liked this one. Pretty zippy fill, including the brilliant and not-often-used-in-crosswords NEILSIMON. Starting in the NW, I was trying to make my high-pitched group the CHI-LITES (they are!), but it wouldn't fit. SORRYOTHELLO was hilarious. Oh, Othie, did you have a thing for her? Oops. My bad.

"Make up?" for ELATE was a surprise. By that time--my very last entry--it was all filled in and I was just clue-curious. Very Saturday on that one, but the rest was spot-on easy-medium. Coulda been earlier, I guess.

If you could just CONNECTFOURJACKS you'd have a helluva poker hand.

Waxy in Montreal 11:36 AM  

Excellent theme - and the reveal was actually very useful though I preferred last Friday's TWINBILL. Especially after yesterday's grind, this puz felt much more like a Monday than a Wednesday.

Ginger 11:44 AM  

This one does not risk aggravation, it is just fun.

Happy Thanksgiving Sydilanders

Thanks Robyn

Cary in Boulder 1:04 PM  

Appreciated PUENTE over some random rapper. Still have never listened to INXS (and in no hurry to) but got it right away thanks to a recent comment about them being common in X-words, so to speak.

Had to come here to understand the ELATE clue. But that was the only one that didn't crumble easily once the little grey cells lit up.

Once I got REB__ for 50D, I wanted the revolting answer to be REBUS.

Anyway, quick and fun.

Solving in Seattle 2:21 PM  

Speaking of Martha Stewart, I saw her on the Today show this morning explaining her mashed potato recipe to Matt (Pamela) Lauer. I'm going to try it tomorrow - looked delicious.

Nice puzzle, Robyn - liked the game theme. Do a Sunday version.

Good FAKEID stories, @Z & @LMS. I smiled when I filled it in. I "modified" my California driver's license when I was 18 to make me three years older and worked as a bartender through college (no loans for me). Great job for a poor student. Meals, tips, days free, chicks... The actual story of how I got my first bartending job is too long for this post.

Actually a DNF for me at the 71A/60D intersection.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Capcha: enemob. Either in the midst of a riot, or an oxymoron contraction.

rain forest 2:34 PM  

Easy but fun, which is almost as good as tough but fair. I think the back-to-back games in the puzzle exhausted the list of potential entries. Maybe, 'ride a motorcycle without a helmet'

Nice theme and revealer, nice fill, not boring.

@SIS What's with all these 'Hawks sparking doobies and getting caught? Not helping the cause, that's for sure.

Solving in Seattle 2:41 PM  

@Rainy, technically it's legal to smoke pot in Washington now. So, even though the players shouldn't be breaking the league rules if I were their lawyer...
It's still stupid, and expensive.

Dirigonzo 3:36 PM  

It's a good think I couldn't remember who recorded "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" or I would have had The Tokens where the CHIPMUNKS eventually apeared and that would have really bollixed that corner.

My only disappointment is that Gil I.P. was unable to post the video of her and Tito PUENTE doing the Cha-Cha.

GILL I. 3:50 PM  

@Diri: This is for your eyes only....
I'm the one on the left

GILL I. 3:51 PM  

God doesn't want me to post!

Ginger 5:19 PM  

@Gill and @Diri That must be one hellofapost ... blew up YouTube

@SIS and @Rainy That it's legal in Washington is no 'Defence' for the Hawks' Defence (men).

Ginger 5:22 PM  

that's defense of course. Duh

GILL I. 6:53 PM  

@Ginger..My favorite pickled spice....! And that pretty much sums up moi...Happy Thanksgiving.

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