Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016, Matthew Sewell

0:18:28 (F.W.O.E.)

Today's theme didn't have quite the impact on me that it certainly will on other solvers, because I was not familiar with the term SCRAMBLETHEJETS (57A: Spring into action ... or an apt directive for 17-, 23-, 36- and 49-Across). It comes from the Strategic Air Command, apparently, and means that pilots should get their planes off the ground as soon as possible. In common parlance, it means to get moving quick! It reminds me of another puzzle by Ed Sessa that we reviewed back in 2013 that included the phrase "Ball the Jack," clued as "Go for broke." I had never heard that before either, and it's not the same thing, but I remember thinking that I would like to start using that phrase more. Perhaps now I can use them together.

Anywhoo, the theme is a somewhat common one, where the letters of JETS are re-ordered and included in various phrases. I know that Colum likes it when the scrambled word spans both (or all) words in the phrase, and that is the case here. It's well done, I think, the only "meh" answer being METSJERSEY (23A: New York sports fan's purchase). It could also have been "Jets," I suppose... but then, I guess it really couldn't have been. Never mind.

In the fill, we've got the nice e-words EMULSION (20A: Mayonnaise, for one) and ESPRESSO (55A: Trattoria shot), and I like both of the vertical eight-stacks. The top is nice and old-fashioned, with PERORATE (10D: Give a long, grandiloquent speech) and LARKSPUR (11D: Buttercup family member with irregularly shaped blossoms), and the bottom is more modern, with CALLERID (36D: Phone screening service) and ONDEMAND (37D: Movie screening service), neither of which do Frannie and I have at home.

I had a devil of a time in the South, where LEK (60D: Albanian coin) crossed OKSO (65A: "And I should care because ...?"), and I tried several letters there before almost stumbling onto the K. Oh well. I will blame the sun and the salt air. Speaking of which, I should get back down to the beach!

This was a fine Wednesday, and I'm looking forward to the Turn!

- Horace


  1. 7:44 (FWOE)
    And with one error, and with one error, and so on, until I tried K. I mean really? OKSO crossing LEK? That's impossible. On the other hand, I love ROCKETJSQUIRREL. That is some serious smushed together consonants. COURTJESTER is fine, although the circles could also have been around the "jest" portion and have worked in the theme, so that's a little less elegant. I love the cross reference of SHRED and STRAT. Nicely done.

  2. 14:18
    OKSO is fine, no? LEK, less so. I like the scrambled letter theme fine, except that after a couple of crosses, the other two letters and the crosses are helped by the possible letters remaining. Especially the five crosses that have two such circles: STJOE (which I'd never heard before, especially with the clue given), HASNT, SHRED, JESSE and STRAT. I, too, loved PERORATE, which I hadn't heard in a while, and HEXAPOD. Of course, ROCKETJSQUIRREL went right immediately with the clue, and SCRAMBLETHEJETS is quite familiar to me since I'm a former US Air Force member. I needed all of the crosses for JULESETJIM (49A 1962 Francois Truffaut film classique). Should I be watching that?

  3. Interesting that none of you know, LEK. It's certainly on the list of words I'd never expect to know or use were it not for regular appearances in crossword puzzles ("etui," "adit," "elhi," the full "et alia," the Bulgarian currency "Lev," etc.). But LEK is major crosswordese to me and went right in. I guess it's about which puzzles one does and the predilections of the editors. Clearly Will Shortz doesn't go there as much as some others.

    Several years ago back when was still essentially the online version of the Boston Globe, I regularly did the linked-to online Universal puzzle. It's not the caliber of the Times and leans heavily on such crosswordese, but all those words and all of the names like Esau, Enos, Asta, Odie, Elia, and Eero became quite familiar.