Travel edition of classic board game / WED 7-5-17 / Quaint commercial suffix / Nongay typically

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Constructor: Jake Halperin

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: [Travel edition of a classic board game?] — same clue for four punny answers:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: GO (from GO ON VACATION) —
Go [...] is an abstract strategy board game for two players, in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. // The game was invented in ancient China more than 2,500 years ago, and is therefore believed to be the oldest board game continuously played today. It was considered one of the four essential arts of the cultured aristocratic Chinese scholar caste in antiquity. The earliest written reference to the game is generally recognized as the historical annal Zuo Zhuan (c. 4th century BCE). // Despite its relatively simple rules, Go is very complex, even more so than chess, and possesses more possibilities than the total number of atoms in the visible universe. Compared to chess, Go has both a larger board with more scope for play and longer games, and, on average, many more alternatives to consider per move. (wikipedia)
• • •

Back from Boston and a little travel-hungover. Five hours driving on the heels of a pretty indulgent couple of days (food/drink-wise), followed by a long walk in the woods with my dogs and an early dinner ... all that had me good and wiped out by 9pm, and I only just woke up (6:40). Managed to crash despite the fact that our neighbors were attacking us on all sides with explosive devices, or so it sounded. I'm just grateful I don't have truly skittish dogs, because the detonation was pretty relentless there for about an hour or two. Some people's dogs hide. Some (tragically) run away. Mine just stare at me like "... why?" "People are horrible," I tell them. They nod and sigh.

This puzzle was DEF on the hard side, and not just 'because I did it immediately upon waking. Pun answers where clues are all the same and you have to figure out What game's involved and How ... phrases don't even have proper, helpful clues. I had no idea what was going on for a good while. Got the first part of first themer and kept racking my brain for games called CART something (doesn't help that CART is something one might "travel" in, at least in theory). First themer I actually got was FLIGHT RISK, and I wasn't sure if FLIGHT was a game (too) or not. So I didn't know if whole answer was made up of games, or if just last word was, or first sometimes last other times. Ugh. LIFE ON THE RUN isn't a great phrase. No more love on the run. Band on the run. You take it on the run. Baby. LIFE ON THE RUN?? And GO is not a "class board game" in the same way the others are. Not by a long shot. Theme is D.O.A. for this reason. Having GO in here is like having CHECKERS or CHESS in here. It's not a modern, brand-name board game, in the sense that we use the phrase "board game." GO is 2500 years old. I guarantee you TROUBLE is not 2500 years old. It's 52, actually. You play GO on a board, but a "board game"? No. RISK yes, TROUBLE yes, LIFE yes. GO no.

Also, GO ON VACATION will have wrecked (at least temporarily) a lot of you, both because of that first "N" cross (N-TESTS) (Is it an A? An H? ... no, it's an "N," but there's No way to know what without knowing the themer), and because even if you do finish with your grid correct, you may find yourself asking, as my wife did this morning, "So there's a game called VACATION?" Me: "No, I don't think so..." Her: "There's a game called GOON!?" Me: "GO space ON." She thought maybe it had something to do with the Goonies ... going on vacation ... which, now, is a movie I can't believe they didn't make.

Then there was the ridiculously hard "?" clue on FOOD GROUP. I needed virtually ever cross to get that one, and so the whole NE corner slowed right down. The "?" clue is bad. Not just hard. Bad. [Cooking class?] See, sometimes you reach for the funny, and ... well, there should be some kind of shock or buzzer ... or else a lock of some kind that won't let you have the funny without good reason. A FOOD GROUP is a class (as in "classification") of food. If I eat an apple, I haven't cooked jack, but I have eaten from a FOOD GROUP. That "?" clue is far too elliptical. You shouldn't have to do math, carry the one, write a proof, etc. to justify an answer. Also, not sure what BOON has to do with "heaven." When you tell me a gift is from "heaven," I assume something biblical is coming. Something actually, concretely, properly biblical. BOON shmoon. My only real error was TA(C)QUERIA for 33D: Place to grab a bit in Mexico (TACO STAND), and my only real flat-out ignorance was OLEG (31D: ___ Burov, K.G.B. officer on "The Americans"). I like the puzzle's basic theme idea, and I love some of the fill (esp ANIMATED GIF). But "Go" gets you a technical D.Q. One of these things is not like the other, and Go is it. Also, NOES and O-RAMA are nauseating and inexcusable.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. because some of you will ask: [Channel 2?] = ENS because there are two ENS in "channel." I know. I know. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


QuasiMojo 7:40 AM  

Happy holiday Rex. Thanks for checking in. I once dog sat on NY's EVE and the poor dog trembled for nearly 16 hours after the fireworks. I didn't know what to do except hug the little creature.

I had the same reaction to GO ON. Goon is a game? Or is it Vacation? I also tried to squeeze Car Scrabble into the first themer across. An easy hump day puzzle. I'm up for a bigger challenge.

Dan 7:41 AM  

I feel am somehow becoming Rex, because every single thing he mentions here is something I noted. I tried for TAQUERIA, raised my eyebrow at BOON, was confused about the board game that ended with OON, and am in retrospect annoyed at ENS, which I just got off the crosses. I did like FLIGHT RISK.

This has been a bad week for me with the puzzle because I had no chance on Sunday (I'm too young for the Beatles; when will there be a puzzle of all R.E.M. titles in the theme?), and this is the first DNF Wednesday I've had in ages.

chefbea 7:48 AM  

tough puzzle. DNF...was going to ask about channel 2...but Rex explained.
Could not get food group...and will someone explain what is a GIF?

did not like the puzzle

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

"People are horrible." Kind of sums up Mike Sharp's philosophy in a nutshell.

Lewis 7:54 AM  


I liked it because it had some grit. Congratulations on the debut, Jake, and welcome to the FAM! I'm EASY, the theme is clever, the theme answers are cute, the solve took some thinking, and that's good enough for me. The puzzle has an EASY out, and six foreign words (counting PESO). No terrible ENIGMAS.

I had enough of a clue, so while I had to scrabble around in some spots, it didn't boggle my mind.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

The Graphics Interchange Format (better known by its acronym GIF /ˈdʒɪf/ JIF or /ˈɡɪf/ GHIF) is a bitmap image format that was developed by US-based software writer Steve Wilhite while working at the Bulletin board service (BBS) provider CompuServe on June 15, 1987[1] and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability. (WIKI)

Hartley70 7:59 AM  

Catchy themers and long downs make this a satisfying Wednesday. I liked FLIGHTRISK best and first of the theme answers, probably because I knew that board game right away. Unfortunately I'm not a board game devotee, so LIFE and TROUBLE and the GO/GOON confusion upped the difficulty level to medium. I personally loved the idea of a GOON VACATION. Are there organized tours? Sign me up.

For me the real stars today were the long down answers. I liked the misdirection of FOODGROUP. SOUNDEFFECT was fun and I would have left the clue at just "boing".
ANIMATEDGIF was topical and you had to know "meme", a toughie for some, I bet. Is ANTISLIP a thing? It felt a little made up just for this occasion.

Good fun in both directions, so I give this one a thumbs up.

Sir Hillary 8:02 AM  

I can't argue with most of the shortcomings @Rex points out, but they didn't bother me. I enjoyed the theme and smiled at all of the theme answers except LIFEONTHERUN, which doesn't connote travel but rather a jailbreak.

Gotta love ANTISLIP symmetrically lined up with LINGERIE. Same with TACOSTAND and FOODGROUP -- in fact, it's EASY for me to consider a TACOSTAND as its own FOODGROUP, thank you very much.

I had no idea that orchestras tune to an OBOE. I assume this means that the other instruments are tuned using the OBOE as the reference point? If so, why the OBOE, and are there other instruments also used as reference points? As you can tell, I know not the technicalities of orchestra prep.

Finally...SEND for "Thrill"? I am lost on that one.

Ted 8:03 AM  

How is 12D Thrill SEND?

And 47A Found START for that matter?

I'm staring at those answers and my mind is a blank.

Challenging puzzle with lots of little bits that didn't want to give. Agree that FOODGROUP was a tough nut to crack.

Aketi 8:07 AM  

I had GO right away. GO O (I knew it wasn't really GOO) came text thanks to the TACO STAND. The ON only followed after VACATION emerged. So I thankfully didn't notice the GOON. Without the GOON, GO ON VACATION seemed to be the only pleasurably travel game experience.

I liked that the SOUND EFFECT accompanied the ANIMATED GIF.

I once had a surgeon explain how they do LIPOS. It is a horrifyingly primitive procedure.

@Quasi and @Rex, my sister has a dog that goes ballistic when fireworks go off. Plus she lives in an area where they are an extreme fire hazard.

Sir Hillary 8:17 AM  

@Ted - To FOUND a company/organization is to start one. Fri/Sat difficulty on that one.

CLB 8:17 AM  

Don't always agree with Rex, but I swear I came here only to find out what the board game "GOON" was. Put the "N" in (because it was better than "A" or "H") and got "Congratulations!" and went "huh?". Knew it couldn't be GO. Knew the VACATION part was the travel. That leaves "GOON". Will spend rest of day chuckling idiotically at self.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Found as in start a company
Send as in "you send me"

evil doug 8:20 AM  

You Send Me
Sam Cooke

Darling, you send me
I know you send me
Darling, you send me
Honest you do, honest you do
Honest you do, whoa

You thrill me
I know you, you, you thrill me
Darling, you, you, you, you thrill me
Honest you do

At first I thought it was infatuation
But, woo, it's lasted so long
Now I find myself wanting
To marry you and take you home, whoa

You, you, you, you send me
I know you send me
I know you send me
Honest you do

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

NY Times puzzle has deteriorated continuously since Margaret Farrar passed the baton.

chefbea 8:32 AM  

Thanks @Anon 7:55...but what is a graphic interchange format??? and how do I use it????? makes no sense to me

AW 8:32 AM  


How is 12D Thrill SEND?

From Sam Cooke's oldie but goodie You Send Me:

Darling, you send me
I know you send me
Darling, you send me
Honest you do, honest you do
Honest you do, whoa

You thrill me
I know you, you, you thrill me
Darling, you, you, you, you thrill me
Honest you do

And 47A Found START for that matter?

You found (i.e., start or establish) a company.

I couldn't finish this one without cheating (i.e., using the "reveal word" function) because I've always detested board games and didn't grow up in this country anyway so have no CLUE what they are. I kept wondering what the GOON game was.

I found 6A ("Honorific that becomes another honorific if you reverse two letters") a bit of a cheat because the clue should have hinted that one of honorifics was in a different language. For 55A, I had GAME ("I'm game.") for the longest time, which screwed that corner up. Frustrating.

TomAz 8:50 AM  

Puzzle was fine. I somehow finished in average time. Like Rex and many of you, I also was confused by GOON, it was the last bit of the puzzle to fall.

I thought FOODGROUP was very clever. I thought ANIMATEDGIF was a great thing to have in a puzzle. The theme was so-so but that's ok.

@Dan: some clever constructor should create a puzzle with a theme of It's The End of The World As We Know It.. (maybe have "And I Feel Fine" embedded in circled squares or something).. with theme answers being different stories of the world's end in myth and popular culture.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

On tuning to an oboe...

mooretep 8:59 AM  

NY Times puzzle has deteriorated continuously since Margaret Farrar passed the baton.
@anonymous 8:27

And America has not been the same since JQA.
Cars were so much better in the 50s.
Math after Euler is "meh".

Nostalgia has the patina of time.

Go has a board. It is a game, and it is BCE. If that is not a classic board game.......
Who plays Trouble anymore? (though I loved the dice reorganizer)

Thought this was a great puzzle construction.

Struggled with CART ROUBLE and out in LIFE ON THE LAM.
Wanted FOOD SNOBS for 10D. KIN rather than FAM.
Also GAME for EASY @chefbea.
Didn't understand START for FOUND until I came here. Great clue.

Happy 7/5/17, a Prime number.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Have to agree that Clue or Sorry would have been better fourths (and there aren't that many other candidates), though I wasn't bothered mid-solve. Think the pun justifies the loose-goose cluing for FOOD GROUP.

ArtO 9:01 AM  

Tough puzzle, tricky clues. Agree with the rating and criticism.

mmorgan 9:11 AM  

I was convinced there must be a board game called GOON.

Two Ponies 9:19 AM  

Did not finish.
Did not care.

jberg 9:38 AM  

I dunno, you play GO on a board; chess and checkers, too. Unlike, say, polo, which you play on a field. So I guess they're board games; no trouble with that one (except for always having wished I was patient enough to learn how to play Go).

What did give me trouble was UFO -- because I kept reading "Roswell" as Rockwell, and therefore wanted "ironic cuteness," or something of the sort -- but wait, I thought, maybe it's not Norman R., but rather Rockwell Kent -- what would be in his museum. That was about where the third cross got filled in, sending me back to read the clue correctly, at last.

I was going to give @Ted (and everyone else) a link to Sam Cooke, but since two people have already quoted the lyrics in full, I'll leave that one be.

@Rex, I couldn't agree more about the fireworks. We've been taking care of my daughter's dog while her family was in Mexico, and she (the dog) was terrified. So were we -- there were some gunshots in the neighborhood a week ago, and the two sounds can be hard to distinguish.

jberg 9:44 AM  

@Loren, @Hartley from yesterday -- thanks for enlightening me! I guess it's a regional thing, one I've just never notice until now. I was in my early 20s before I notice that some people say 'lenth' and 'strength' (and 'lenthy'); so I guess every half-century I'll pick up something new about English pronunciation.

Mohair Sam 9:46 AM  

Sorry! folks (pun intended), the quadrupled clue was not "Board games Rex Parker played as a kid" - the clue was "classic board games". I'd venture that 2,500 years old, on a board, and still played by millions (probably hundreds of millions) today would put GO on the top of any list.

Played medium in this house. Clever concept. Different clue for DEF at 64A, neat. Clue for BOON still has me scratching my head. Loved the FOODGROUP clue, sorry again. Not at all upset about not knowing "caliente" because I don't know FRIO either - throw anything at me as long as it fills. Say the same for some tough PPP such as OLEG. I'll bet there are more TACOSTANDS in California than in Mexico.

I often watch Jalen & Jacoby on ESPN. Jalen Rose is the guru of all things sports and pop culture. His pronouncements are not to be argued with, plus he's a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. The other day Jacoby complained to him that Jay Z had changed his name to all caps. Jalen explained that it was important in the Hip Hop community for artists to change their identity periodically - once every five years was a good guide - to keep themselves current. He then rambled off a few of Sean Combs monikers (Diddy, P Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy). If Jalen has it right those of you who complain about Rap Artist clues have no idea what you're up against going forward.

Wm. C. 9:48 AM  

@JBerg --

Gunshots in Dorchester?

Wow, I bet that hasn't happened since the British fleet snuck out in 1776!


Teedmn 9:50 AM  

OEUF, I really screwed this one up. I'll admit to wrinkling my nose at GOON VACATION - it's a game? It's a phrase? I don't think so...oh, I just got DOOKed.

How about LImE ON THE RUN? Anyone else decide 18D was (Italian maybe?) OvUm? I never let it go and again, couldn't think of a LImE board game nor did the phrase make sense.

I had @Rex's CART at 17A and boinged myself in the head when CAR TROUBLE finally troubled itself to come clear - my neighbors had the game TROUBLE and we pretty much wore that thing out. I loved pushing down the little plastic dome with the dice - it didn't make a nice "boing" SOUND EFFECT, more of a clacking noise. But it seems like an ingenious way to keep from losing the dice.

After 4 days in the northern WI woods, LoNGERIE seemed likely but that one I fixed. My head hurts from all of the palm slaps I gave it today - geez. I spent much of the time in WI playing Scrabble, which I kept expecting to rear its head on the grid today. My TROUBLEs with today's puzzle reinforces my long-held belief that being good at Scrabble doesn't translate to being good at crosswords.

I like Jake's idea - it would be hard to come up with an answer that uses MONOPOLY, or MOUSETRAP or CHUTESANDLADDERS or CANDYLAND so I think he did pretty well with the themers, even if they weren't all as fun as CAR TROUBLE.

Congratulations on your NYT debut, Jake Halperin.

Brian 9:55 AM  

Easy for me today 70% of average time. Did all down clues then all across clues — if I don't immediately have the answer I immediately move on. and the rest? That crossword is not going to fill itself? Yes it is.

GHarris 9:56 AM  

Don't play or know board games (have heard of Risk) yet somehow worked it all out which was extremely satisfying.

Ando 9:58 AM  

I think "go" is a fine example of a board game, and "go on vacation" was a fun part of the theme. I didn't like BOON as "gift from heaven" though, because it seems so much more mild, and crossed with SEND as a thrill? That only made sense to me in the context of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" so i figured until the end I'd gotten those two answers incorrect.

And is "NOES" really an accepted spelling? that is usually divided into "NAYS" or "NOS", I thought.

Joseph Michael 9:59 AM  

Where does a GOON go on VACATION? Whatever the answer may be, I'll bet it's a lot more interesting than this puzzle's theme.

I get bored with board games so I couldn't care less about their titles and barely remember them.

Did enjoy some of the tricky clues, however, such as those for OEUF, ENS, FOOD GROUP, and SOUND EFFECT. Also liked HETERO, ANIMATED GIF, and ENIGMAS. Meanwhile ORAMA feels like it wants to be OBAMA and ONO is probably happy being clued as something other than Lennon's other half.

But if a lot of goons end up in the same vacation spot at the same time, would that be a GOON BOON?

Black Sun 10:34 AM  

CNN now stoops to blackmailing a 15 y.o. kid for a GIF they don't like.

Nancy 10:35 AM  

This played fairly hard for me since I didn't know most of the games that were incorporated in the theme and I didn't have a CLUE (there's one I would have known if it had been used) what was going on with this puzzle. A total ENIGMA, but I solved it anyway. IRR before VAR at 45D made GOON VACATION even harder to see. SOUND EFFECT helped me remember how to spell TUSSAUD (I had wanted TUSSEAU, as in trousseau.) And glad to see the omnipresent ONO clued as a peace activist rather than a "singer." I have always taken exception with that description. Because this made me do a lot of thinking, I liked it, in spite of it not being particularly in my wheelhouse.

I had just fallen asleep last night and was having a perfectly delightful dream, when I was jolted awake by fireworks that seemed to be coming from right over my bed. They went on...and on... and then I lay awake for the next hour at least, my delightful dream ended. Interestingly -- and I'm not making this up -- it was about playing amidst two largish, adorable, gray, curly-haired dogs. I must have been thinking about how so many of you on the blog mentioned that dogs get spooked during fireworks and need to be hugged. Well, last night I got spooked and needed to be hugged. It's too late now, but I hope y'all will keep that in mind for next year.

John V 10:43 AM  

Hard. What @Rex said about GO.

GILL I. 10:47 AM  

What happened to Marie's S? AIN'T it TUSSAUD(s)?... I went to her wax museum in SFO in the wharf area. I had already been in awe of her London Wax Museum so I was excited to pay an arm and a leg to go see the biggest tourist trap (other than Ripley's Believe it or Not) on the Bay. What a dud!
A fine Wed. puzzle. some fun stuff like the PESOs you might need at a TACO STAND. @Mohair. You're probably right. In Mexico you will see lots of taquerias and lots and lots of little TACO carts on the street. I swear I have an iron stomach because, despite warnings galore, I have eaten street food forever. It's fantastic. The tortillas are fresh, the carnitas have been cooking in a delicious sauce for hours, the corn on the cob grilled to perfection and you also get some free flies with your meal.
I never quite caught the Board Game itch. My kids loved Monopoly (I always had to have the iron) and checkers. I tried to teach them card games like Hearts and Canasta and even rudimentary Bridge but the attention span was nil.
I like that OLEG wasn't Cassini. SOUND EFFECT was plain fun. Boing Boing..
Good one Jake Halperin...YOOOOOOOU send me.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Mohair is right again. I mean about Rex's silly bitching. He's too gentle, but that's why he's the blogs favorite.
Thanks to Moore. Math after Eller is Mehta, is pretty darn good.

And anybody else have a problem, or at least dislike clueing Ono as a peace activist? A bit highfaultin for heexample imo.

G. Weissman 10:53 AM  

This puzzle is crap for all the reasons Rex wrote up.

Carola 10:53 AM  

Nice puzzle! I thought FLIGHT RISK was great, and also liked LIFE ON THE RUN. As others have noted, such nice Down pairs: SOUND EFFECT with ANIMATED GIF, TACO STAND with FOOD GROUP, and ANTI-SLIP with LINGERIE (does anyone wear SLIPs anymore?)

My TROUBLES: ANTI-Skid, game before EASY, irr before VAR. And thinking that VACATION was a game I hadn't heard of...aarrggh!

@Sir Hilary, I've listened to an oboe turning the orchestra for decades without asking why, and your question prompted me to find out (@Anonymous's 8:58 link didn't work for me.). According to the Rockfor Symphony's FAQ, the oboe became the tuning instrument because "[t]he bright, rather penetrating sound of the oboe was easy to hear, and its pitch was more stable than gut strings, so it was natural to rely on it for tuning." The only time the oboe cedes its tuning place is when there's a keyboard soloist, like for a piano concerto - then the oboe tunes to the keyboard.

YouLoveMeUs 10:56 AM  

I used to post daily and have my own blog in the evildoug and ACM days...haven't been around for a few years w/ other things coming up in my life. Still enjoy lurking and doing the puzz...was v. happy to do lms's the other day.

Three bilious meta comments for Rex/OFL, along with one other comment:

1. Grow up. Be an adult man/woman, not a whiny teenage boy. You zip through puzzles that take most of us far longer. Yes, all of us dodos and rageaholics empathize with your fits of impatience, which often (though not today, methinks) reveal real construction/cluing flaws. But please, show us some self-awareness. The last few hundred years would have been a better, more pleasant time if Marx and Nietzsche had had some distance from their overweening adolescent male rage. The world of crossword puzzle blogging would likewise be a more pleasant place if you showed us more distance from yours in your writing.

2. Same point, applied to your relationship to Will and the NYT puzzle. Please grow up from "You're so mediocre, Dad." Will's that good, as you well know. The motes in his eye as an editor would be planks in yours--in particular, he has a remarkable clue-by-clue creative flair that in my judgment is simply not there in your own constructions--mine, and pretty much any one else's in the world.

3. Same point, applied to politics. Political passion is all v. well--have plenty of it myself--but your deployment of it would be that much better if you gained some distance from your ire. E.g., instead of just laying off Will today on politics, you could have laughed at yourself on the topic--"I kind of wanted to tear Will to shreds for the TACO STAND clue--aren't there more of them in LA than in Mexico City?!!--but it passes my smell test...for any of you who are irritated, I can relate :)" OR "At first I got mad at GO--doesn't fit!!! DQ!!!"--but, well, maybe that was exactly the kind of ethocentrism in me I'm always seeing in Will...on reflection, having a Japanese board game for adults as well as kids, along with the Western kid/teen games, makes this a deeper, more resonant puzzle."

4. Thank you very, very much! Allowing for my own parochial American, NY/NJ perspective, you are the best anywhere at what you do. You are that good as an insta-writer for me to dream you could be even better...but what you do now, like what Will does, is itself all that wonderful. You have enriched my life, not least with your flaws, and to you, and to them, I am grateful.

Stanley Hudson 10:56 AM  

@Evil Doug, i'm a little worried that I'm starting to think like you, because the first thing that came to mind with respect to THRILL and SEND was the Sam Cooke song. :)
I grew up not too far from Cincinnati (Waynesville) so maybe that factors in.

Robert A. Simon 11:02 AM  

You really have to know from the start that I don't think I could randomly fill in letters as fast as the solving times most of you report. I find it most effective to time myself with a sun dial. So--consider the source, but I really liked this puzzle. I never heard of the game TROUBLE, but so what? Sounded like a game to me. Lots of fun, as a game-themed puzzle ought to be. Typical Wednesday time for me: eleven degrees.

RooMonster 11:06 AM  

Hey All !
Happy Rex called it Med-Challenging, cause I was getting stuck all over the place. Thought Rex would say "This puz was the easiest ever", so happy he didn't.

That GOONVACATION was bogus, I thought the Game was GO ON, having never heard of that. Actually had to Reveal Word on that, as the G and N were pretty much non-inferrible. (Sp?) And OEUF? Oof! Crossed with the "?" ENS clue, OhNO. Had to ESC that section with another Reveal cheat. I thought I was just tired from last night. ALAS, not so.

Here's a question, are there really TACO STANDS in Mexico, or is that an Americanizational thing? (I think I should patent that word!)

So not FAR OFF EASY , AINT that a

7 F's at least.


old timer 11:14 AM  

I woke up in the middle of the night dreaming of this crossword puzzle, trying to solve it. Well, not *this* puzzle, as I soon found, but some puzzle my brain has made up that keeps reappearing several nights a week. I was a little disappointed the the puzzle in today's paper was not the one in m dreams.

This was crunchy but in the end doable, I too wondered at that GOON VACATION before the game of GO came to mind. And I have heard of RISK but not the other two. A perfect Weds puzzle I thought.

I would guess that orchestras tune to an oboe because it is a reed instrument whose pitch does not vary or waver with the force of the player's breath -- there is only a single right sound and the player knows it. Essentially the only way to change the pitch is to alter the length of the instrument. Plus you do not have multiple corrections to make as you must do with any stringed instrument.

At least that's my supposition. Actual players, please chime in.

Malsdemare 11:16 AM  

Off topic and late but: A good friend and world-renowned vet recommended the following for my dog who was terrified of storms, fireworks, gunfire, etc. it's Composure, by VetriScience. It's small "treats" that dogs will eat it out of your hand; you can give it even after the trembling/drooling has started, and keep on giving it until the dog is finally okay. My 90 lb dog got 4-5 and they made life bearable for him. You can order it online, it's non-prescription, made of natural ingredients and its worst "side effect" is your pooch will fall asleep. Those of us in this man's circle of friends kiss his feet after every storm.

I found this hard but doable. No problem with FOODGROUP or BOON, unhappy about ENS and FRIO, Okay, now I'm going to read the comments.

TOCraig 11:23 AM  

Thought the whole thing was fine. Enjoyed. Thanks, Jake. Ignore the quibbles.

TOCraig 11:28 AM  

Well said!

Bax'N'Nex 11:28 AM  

Liked this puzzle a lot. Of course,I am not trying to fly through it just to get it out of the way like Michael Sharp. I love it when I have to work at it, come back to clues when I have added, maybe, one letter from a cross and then the light bulb comes on.

I'm sure Michael would have MUCH better games to use, as always. Never the right ones in his opinion. I'm waiting to work one of HIS puzzles in the Times...oh, wait...he only criticizes. Never mind.

Cassieopia 11:28 AM  

I really, really, really enjoyed this puzzle. It was harder than a usual Wednesday but what really delighted me was that the fill was very fresh and new, and where it wasn't, the cluing was. These are the words that were particularly delightful and made me smile when I filled them in:
- ELUDE (loved the clue on this one)
- CORNS (another great clue)
- FOODGROUP (staggeringly great cluing)
etc, etc, etc...lots and lots of words that are rare/non existent in the typical puzzle. No acne, no Latin verbs, no Roman numerals (those should be banned). Rex had some valid points and it did take a bit for me to see past GOON to GO ON, but overall I thought this a very fresh, new, lively, interesting puzzle and am excited to see more from this new constructor. Very nicely done, Jake Halperin! You have a fan in me!

Warren Howie Hughes 11:43 AM  

ALAS! Rex, Old Stick! I just knew you wouldn't rate this Humpday Xword Puz as EASY, PER say,simply because it was LOADED for bear! All HAIL Jake Halperin!

jb129 11:55 AM  

I hate when I have to "cheat" which means I gotta go to Rex for the answers :(

relicofthe60s 11:56 AM  

How can a game that is 2,500 years old not be "classic"? The puzzle seemed hard at the beginning but I finished close to my average time. I thought the FOODGROUP clue was very clever but out of place in a puzzle like this, where the ? clues should be confined to the themers.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Go is a board game. One of the first. Great puzzle. Ignore Rex's culture of complaint.

Hapless Idiot 12:22 PM  

I've never played it but isn't GO an old Chinese board game?

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

As an avid board gamer myself, I agree with Rex. Go *is* in a different category from classic board games. If you ask a board gamer to list classic games, they almost certainly would not mention go or chess. If people recognized Go immediately as a classic board game, you would not have so many people reading it as GOON.

C. Mac 12:42 PM  

This is the first time ever I agree 100% with Rex.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Another Anon. posted a link earlier regarding Sir Hillary's question re: oboe. I couldn't get the link to open. Here are a few cents' worth of answer to the question:
The tone of the oboe is distinctively penetrating and focused and this makes it very easy for all the other kinds of instruments to hear the oboist's reference note while playing their own against it. The timbre (tone quality) is also strongly focused on the fundamental pitch. The oboists usually sit in the center of the orchestra and can be heard equally well across the stage. The oboist can sustain a single pitch longer than any other wind or brass instrument (due to the extreme resistance to the breath that the instrument presents - also the reason oboists have a shorter average life expectancy than other musicians).

jae 1:16 PM  

Yep,tough Wed. I agree GO seems like an outlier, but like @Hartley I thought the theme was catchy and I liked the long downs. Nice debut, liked it.

Dick Swart 1:23 PM  

I liked 'goon'! Had to stare for a while before I got it.

What is and what is 'ens'.

The only thing I could think of was uhf v vhf which used to in the olden days produce different signal strengths of reception on your TV dial. A you can see, this is old stuff and was important only to TV spot buyers in the 50s/early 60s.

Dick Swart 1:26 PM  

I tried to emphasize CHANNEL 2 and ENS in my comment above. a mistake to use text.

JC66 1:29 PM  

@Dick Swart

Read @RP's last sentence.

Ando 1:30 PM  

"oboists have a shorter average life expectancy than other musicians"

Does anyone believe this is true? Show of hands.

Masked and Anonymous 1:31 PM  

"Classic" debut puz. Only 74 words, so had lotsa extra long stuff. Thus-by, M&A's hopes for "classic" desperation LEAPT.

Toughie solvequest, mostly cuz have never heard of a "classic" board game called TROUBLE. Or CAR. Have a game in my closet called CABBY, tho; it is excellent -- its rules actually sorta encourage players to "cheat"!
Also, had oof-heavy liftin problems with OEUF/TUSSAUD in the same area. Plus, that nearby ENS clue was kinda ("classically"?) sadistic, but somehow got past that, ok.

"Classic" desperation string: FRIO+FAM/ANIMATEDGIF/DEF. Also, contains my 2 staff weeject picks, btw. FRIO clued as {Opposite of [insert unknown foreign word here]} was of no particular help to the M&A. VAR also rates a friendly har.

fave fillins: boing SOUNDEFFECT. FOODGROUP with great "class-ic" clue. ENIGMAS. GOONVACATION. (Would think GO is yer "most classic" board game entry, in this theme rodeo, btw.) ANTISLIP [M&A slipped up, here: wanted ANTISKID, for a while.]

Thanx, Mr. Halpern. Welcome to the grid. And to the "classic" shockin/feisty @RP gradin system.

Masked @ Anonymo6Us

p.s. @RP: "Classic" write-up, U snarkopotamus. "People are horrible" story was a nice extra touch. Goth blog!


Unknown 1:42 PM  

I disagree about go, and I was fine with orama. Solidly agree on the rest, glad its not just me. A few notes, wtf is "noes"? Are we just pluralizing things however we want now? And how did they get the idea that a- h- n- tests were a thing? I keep seeing this answer, but I've never seen it anywhere but a crossword. The clue doesn't hint that there is an abbreviation, I have never seen or heard someone mention an "n-test" and searching for "n-test" doesn't come up with anything nuclear related. Did they just decide they were going to make this a thing?

Joe Bleaux 1:47 PM  

Congrats on the debut, Jake! When I see your next puzzle, I'll know I'm not in for a cakewalk, no matter what day of the week it is (or even if its theme IS something I care about).

Ando 1:50 PM  

Yes I think n- h- and n-tests were invented solely for crosswords. I've never heard anyone refer to them that way.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

I almost DNF because of the OEUF/ENS cross. Had no idea about either, so I just filled in letters until it took, but it didn't. Turned out I'd typoed ANIMATEDGIF as ANIMATEDGIG (never noticed because what's an etym? "Deg" made as much sense as DEF there). Added a minute to my time to track that down.

Lots of problems with this puzzle for me. SEND for thrill? Just no. NTESTS? Ugh. Oddly enough, though, I had no problems with either BOON (first thing that came to mind after MANNA which obviously doesn't fit), and GOONVACATION was fairly easy for me. Filled it in after I had GO and a few crosses on VACATION. I also wasn't bothered by FOODGROUP. Vague, yes, but it's a group of people making food, so I didn't think it was wrong.

gifcan 2:37 PM  


My last struggle was at the bottom, ANIMATEDGed. I knew my error was in there and came up with the IF to finish.

Same initial reaction as OFL's wife, is there a game called Vacation? I completely passed GO.

Decent puzzle, I say.

Not a snowperson 2:45 PM  

Yup, this puzzle ate my lunch, which consisted of one FOOD GROUP. And I was on a GOON VACATION once. Wouldn't advise it.

tazio35 2:50 PM  

Good Wed. puzzle! GO is the most classic board game in history. It is found all over China, Japan, Korea, etc. There is even a Japanese college for advanced GO players. Mao supposedly planned his takeover of China following a GO strategy as told in a book entitled "The Protracted Game". GO was the very last board game to fall to a computer opponent, whereas Chess was conquered by computer a long time ago. I have two GO boards in my house, including one that is several inches of solid wood and uses slate stones for black and shell stones for white. It is an incredible game of strategy that is easy to learn, but can take more than a mortal lifetime to master!

Mohair Sam 2:54 PM  

@tazio35 - ". . . several inches of solid wood." I would make the case that it is the only true "board" game of the four offered today.

tea73 3:00 PM  

Like others I spent an embarrassingly long time wondering what game GOON was. I think it's both fair, and not like the others. I've never been any good at Go, though I was quite good at Go-Maku which is played on the same board, with the same pieces, but is much simpler.

We are a family of gamers, but these days play mostly the new ones aimed at somewhat older audiences - Dominion (not actually a board game), Carcassonne (also probably not a board game), Hero Realms (a board game) are current favorites.

Ralph 3:08 PM  

I had an instructor who pronounced a word as "heighth," rhyming with "length" and "width."

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

@Two Ponies, DNC that you DNFed and DNCed. What was it this time? The Asian board game GO? Or the TACO STAND?

Charley 3:20 PM  

Ouef crossing ens? I guess ouef is an egg. What is ens?

Ralph 3:24 PM  

For 19A Gift from heaven," I thought manna, pennies, penny. cent. Yes, cent. Even led me to 10D Cooking class?" "Feed..." Then stumped.

Ando 3:27 PM  

@Charley, per Rex's writeup:

P.S. because some of you will ask: [Channel 2?] = ENS because there are two ENS in "channel." I know. I know.

Thomaso808 3:40 PM  

Rex wasted a lot of words criticizing FOODGROUP as too "elliptical" but I think he completely missed the point. It's not that hard. A cooking class is a GROUP of people who get together to learn about FOOD. Great clue.

Really good debut puzzle. On the difficult side for a Wednesday, but that's ok with me.

BarbieBarbie 3:47 PM  

@Gil, try the Mechanical Museum and Laughing Sal.
@Nancy, animated GIFs are those little animations embedded in text-- for example, fireworks in a July 4th email signature. Annoying or charming, take your pick.
I have known people who conduct them, and they aren't NTESTS, I agree. They're called weapons tests.
ANTISKID, ANTISLIP, ANTISTAT are all real words and could mistakenly be inserted for each other if you don't read the clue carefully... [red face]
Loved SOUNDEFFECT partnering ANIMATEDGIF. Fun puzzle.
Clue, Sorry, etc are all great games, but how would they work with this theme?

Aketi 4:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 4:32 PM  

@Charley, I was going to say the 'ENS are what laid the OUEF after they crossed the English Channel, but @Rex and @Ando gave you the real answer.

Babs of Hollywood 4:35 PM  

Also in the "cart" and "goon" camp. Sheesh. This one was very crunchy...

Aketi 4:38 PM  

@SirHillary, back when I was in fifth and sixth grad and girls were required to wear dresses and skirts, our mothers also insisted we wear SLIPS. They were so uncomfortable to wear that all the girls were ANTI SLIP. We'd bring a pair of cutoff shorts in our bookbags and run into the bathroom as soon as we could wangle a hall pass and swap the SLIP for our more comfortable and practical cutoffs. Then at recess we could play on the bars with impunity, not having to worry about what the boys saw under our skirts.

Trombone Tom 4:44 PM  

Late to the party. Agree with many of OFL's quibbles, but not with his view on GO/NOGO. C'mon, @Rex, any definition of classic would certainly include GO.

I would rate this one medium. Very doable, even if it took me a while to uncover OEUF.

@BarbieBarbie you are right. This is a fun puzzle. Thanks for reminding me of Laughing Sal and many fun days spent at Playland.

Aketi 4:48 PM  

One over the limit, but my niece found a website that provides a potential solution for pets that are terrified by fireworks".

Joe Dipinto 5:23 PM  

No problem with "Go" in the themers. Any game played on a board is a Board Game.

I do really wish 27a could have been LIFE IN THE FAST LANE, especially since "on" is also in the GO answer.

GILL I. 5:56 PM  

@BarbieBarbie. I LOVED the Musee. I also loved the Cliff House. My children spent hours in the arcade. I wish I had the picture I took of our daughter staring at Susie the Can-Can Doll. Like idiots, they moved it to Fisherman's Wharf and I've never been back.
I can go on record as saying I now hate the Wharf.

BarbieBarbie 6:25 PM  

@Gil, the Wharf offers the City's best opportunity to get run over by a Segway while inhaling clouds of Eau de Harbor Seal. How can you hate that??

GILL I. 6:41 PM  

@BarbieBarbie....Hee hee. And Scoma's went gluten free!

Unknown 6:55 PM  

Channel 2 a lousy clue but the D's made it obvious. The critic is like Goldilocks: too old (Go) is bad, too new (Many an Internet meme) is great.

puzzlehoarder 7:51 PM  

This was harder than your typical Wednesday. It stands out all the more for being a debut. I was largely slowed down by a series of write overs. DESSAUD/TUSSAUD (Was I thinking DeSade?), FAV/FAM and LIFTS/LIPO. Once I quit wasting time on these and just followed the path of least resistance it became much more early week. I noticed GOONVACATION was the only non debut theme entry. It turns out it was previously used as GOON VACATION making it a true double DOOK. I'm not familiar with the San Cooke song. I think I learned the term "soul sender" from John Lee Hooker's music. GO was not a problem as I just recently read about the American computer beating the 19 year old Chinese grand master. I mention the nationalities because the article said that the Chinese authorities made an effort to suppress the news. Apparently they take great pride in the game and viewed it as a cultural defeat.

Christophe 9:44 PM  

The clues for this puzzle are EINE SCHWEINEREI.

Larry Gilstrap 10:31 PM  

Not a fan of fireworks. Many creatures find them offensive. I could get all Ugly American, but I remember Paris on the night of 7/14/85 being kinda like WWIII. People love explosions, until they are the real thing directed in anger.

PDG 10:49 PM  

Interesting. Do you mean "lifetime"? Or "playing lifetime"?

Ants-in-the-Pants Candyland Monopoly 1:03 AM  

LOVED the puzzle!!! Such a fresh idea combined with the old nugget of using board games. I like that it combines games we (folks 50+?) played as children with crosswords which we play as adults! And then to have the travel element. Super fun.

Don't usually check but I thought it would win Jeff Chen's "POW" but he had never heard of Trouble, my fave answer!!! That bubble the die was in was so much fun, I'd pop it for hours, and you could never lose the die.
(I know it's incorrect, but I wish "dice" was both the plural and the singular, like deer, or fish.)

Is Go the same as Othello? I remember my cousin Bobby (who brought Ken Ken to this country) had a big hit with Othello which was a modern version of Go, I think. I'll have to check. My Uncle Lenny was in toys so they had hundreds of games and toys at home.

Go is five in Japanese, maybe in Chinese too.

I think it's magnificent that this is a debut and such a strong one.

Re: Fireworks: Still trying to talk my cat off the ceiling. #BlackCatsMatter. We just recovered from the F(*&ing Blue Angels in October, Chinese New Year in Feb and now 4th of July. Walked on the beach today and saw THOUSANDS of littered firecracker butts.

"Firecracker Butts" sounds like a porn website or a chapter in Loren's memoir I can't get her to write!

prlondon 3:50 AM  

Eggs generally dont get refrigerated in Europe- 18 Down not really correct.

rivivieri 1:58 PM  

I have never posted here before, but I found myself so totally in sync with all of Rex's comments and gripes that I wanted to applaud. I even know and love the game of go, but completely missed the reference to it,

Cameron Swartzell 2:33 AM  

I for one agree with the gripe on Go as a board game, and board games are my primary hobby, I own over a hundred. Rex is isn't saying Go is forgettable, but rather more reverent and should not be lumped in with simple Hasbro or Milton Bradley types.

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kitshef 8:31 AM  

Overall enjoyable puzzle, but agree that LIFE ON THE RUN isn't much of a phrase.

I've had a great life and would not trade it for anything, but I do wish I had @GILL I's cast-iron stomach. Every vacation I can count on 4-5 days of tummy discomfort.

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thefogman 9:46 AM  

The game was on once I realized LIftS should be LIPOS and FAv should be FAM. There wasn't much else to boggle the mind after that. All in all, it was a proper puzzle for a Wednesday, but I do wish Scrabble (my favourite board game) would have made an appearance.

Burma Shave 10:23 AM  


A silk ROBE is EASY to UNDO,
SEND it FAROFF and away,


spacecraft 11:14 AM  

Gotta live LIFEONTHERUN (???) today so this will be short. I also had some TROUBLE with this one, with ENS (ugh!) and those (which initial?)-TESTS. Ugh again. But most of it was sorta fun.

As a former GO player, I agree that game doesn't exactly belong with the others, but is IS played on a board, or "go-ban," and some of those can get awfully expensive. You can pay upwards of $50,000 for a go board. It's all about the SOUNDEFFECT the stones make when they're slapped down.

Anyway, I agree it's m-c for a Wed. Wanda SYKES for DOD. Birdie.

thefogman 11:29 AM  

Nice one Burma. Smooth as silk.

rondo 11:54 AM  

My TROUBLE from the git-GO was filling anything down the middle. And mis-remembering her as Madame TUSSeau was not helpful there. Kinda worked it in from both east and west.

That clue for 6a SRI is straight outta Will’s mouth. Guaranteed.

In this market Channel 2 would been answered TPT (Twincities Public Television) and not the lame ENS.


Wouldn’t be FAROFF to name AIMEE Mann as yeah baby today.

3 w/o squares, otherwise fairly EASY.

BS2 12:04 PM  


CORN’S in a FOODGROUP, if you say so –
ALONG with RIBS and OILS on hand –
that they’ll SELLTO you for a PESO,
PER those LADS at the TACOSTAND.


BS3 12:28 PM  

OPTIN to this stream of unconsciousness via Ayn Rand CINE


FLIGHTRISK? ELUDE identification. Prepare for LIFEONTHERUN.


Diana,LIW 12:37 PM  

Haven't yet read @Rex, as this puzzle has some clever wordplay which, if he didn't get it in a nanosecond, will send him thru the roof.

I was sure I was wrong with SOUNDEFFECT, but left it there as I couldn't think of anything else. Had a few writeovers - cLOse before the correct word came ALONG. Aah, that opened up a lot.

Came this close, this close, to fact checking, but persisted. The satisfaction level of finishing was great. Glad I didn't let it ELUDE me. On to the comments.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

eastsacgirl 1:44 PM  

Was surprised Rex had trouble with this one because I found it super easy. Just had a little trouble with the ENS and Madame TUSSAUD but new OEUF was right so just went for it. Such is LIFE!

Longbeachlee 2:08 PM  

Maybe it's a SoCal music thing, but every time I go to a concert they tune to the concertmaster's violin. I liked everything about this puzzle, and never thought twice about Go as a classical board game.

rain forest 2:42 PM  

Well, today I read Rex, and...wait for it...totally disagreed with him.

Really enjoyed this medium-ish puzzle about board games, all of which I've played. Yes, GO *is* a board game, maybe not in the sense that you gather your friends/family together, make a batch of popcorn and yell at each other, but for sure a board game. Classic? The most classic of the four. And the most difficult.

I also enjoyed the relative tightness of this effort, with nice long downs, little dreck to bemoan, and some original clues. I'm not sure of the occasion when "dress whites" call for an ASCOT, but the crosses solved that for me.

My Golden Retriever would be totally freaked out by fireworks and particularly thunder. During a major storm one night, the thunder drove her onto my bed where she laid with her bum in my face and proceeded to fart the foulest-smelling emissions I have ever experienced. I was just glad that on our prior walk she did her "business" outdoors, and yes I picked it up in the plastic bag.

Loved BS2, @BS.

leftcoastTAM 3:47 PM  

I'm with Rex on this one. I did get all the themers without knowing any of the games, except RISK, maybe. GOON, as in GO ON, was a dook.

My "one way to fall" was to guess LAM instead of FAM, not going back to review the down cross and carelessly leaving SOUNDEFLECT instead of SOUNDEFFECT.

Don't know what FAM stands for, and really don't care to know (though I'll look it up later).

Didn't care about the trickiness and obscurity, either.

thefogman 4:44 PM  

Can somebody kindly explain what DOOK means?

Diana,LIW 4:54 PM  

Thanks, @Foggy, for asking about dook - I was wondering too.

Roofing, day 11. The gang of two roofers left, and are coming back tomorrow to pick up odds and ends and to put a gutter back on. Mr. W claims victory as the "roof" is done. I claim technical foul - it's not done until it's done and all is back in order. Burgers rest on the call.

@Lefty - FAM = family. No, no - don't hit your forehead like that!

Lady Di

centralscrewtinizer 5:52 PM  

Oof, French always trips me up, as it were. So a dnf because I had OErv, not OEUF. Madame TUSSArD looked and sounded ok, and LIvE ON THE ROAD did not disturb as I had never heard of LIFE as a board game.
I have played GO and would do so again. I have played RISK and would think hard about playing again.
Never heard of TROUBLE as a game either. Oh well.

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