Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017, Andrew J. Ries


Hee hee! UTURN, that much maligned crossword answer (at least it's better than "uey" or "uie") gets its turn in the spotlight (see what I did there?), being reinterpreted as names of universities ("U's") making a 180 degree change of direction. It does mean that we get the less than desirable circles to show us just where the cleverness is happening, but I'd have had a hard time finding them otherwise.

The four centers of higher learning are placed symmetrically, and represent Clemson, Cal Tech, Princeton, and Notre Dame. Nicely spread out geographically, although only one from west of the Mississippi. These kinds of answers cause letters to be "triple-checked" because they have to play a role in three different answers at a time. I'm sure Mr. Ries would have preferred not to have both CHEERON and STARTON in the grid, but I suspect it was necessary because of the constraints of those letters.

That being said, I was impressed by the presence of EVIDENCEBAG, TRADEROUTES, PARISMETRO, and ADULTERANT, all fine answers. And my favorite answer in the grid is 10D: Kind of motel (NOTELL). Never heard of it before, but it makes all kinds of sense.

We also get everybody's favorite dog, GROMIT (much better than that brainless Odie), and GOTYE, who wrote the song that we must have listened to 6 million times in 2012.

I don't love ACER, a longtime piece of crosswordese, or TAPA, which seems awfully lonely. Nobody has just one when they go to a tapas bar, right? Also ISS seems ish to me. But I did chuckle at 2D: Lovers running to each other may be shown in it (SLOMO).

1A: Molded jelly (ASPIC) - C-. Yuck.

- Colum


  1. Hmm, for me ASPIC had always had an exotic friendly air to it. Perhaps because I rarely (never?) eat it, but find it interesting to read about in cookbooks.

    Was interesting to see James COMEY in a crossword. Don't know whether he would have been crossword-worthy before being fired. Oh, OK, let me check..... yes, according to xwordinfo, this is the first occurrence of COMEY in the NY Times crossword.

  2. 8:05
    Yeah, I'll add a "No" vote on Aspic. I've only (knowingly) had it once, when a friend's mother made it as an appetizer many years ago. I ate it then, but I'm not sure I would now. But honestly, a couple years ago when I made turkey stock after Thanksgiving, I boiled the bones a bit too long, maybe, and ended up with a pretty jelly-like stock. I think they call it a "glaze" or something when it reaches that point... anyway, the whole idea of meat jelly just seems a little gross, but de gustibus non disputandum est, eh?

    So anyway, thanks, Colum, for telling me why the revealer made sense with the college names. My Beloit experience was so far from all things "University" that now when I see the name of a school of higher learning, as it were, I just think "college," without any further distinction. Please don't fault Beloit itself for this deficiency. It is mine alone.

    I like that the names are symmetrical, which I imagine makes the whole thing that much more constrained and difficult.

  3. 9:12
    I'll third the ASPIC yuck, although at least it brings to mind the excellent "Larks' Tongue in Aspic" by King Crimson. Interesting theme and nice fill, for the most part. I've heard of this GROMIT, but am not particularly familiar with it. Since I'm commenting backwards here, I notice that PAPA is in the grid two days in a row. Also, I spent some time at Fort DIX when in the service; very nice NCO Club there.