Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017, Andrew J. Ries


Kind of a funny "sound added to a regular phrase to make a new last word and then clued wackily" theme today, and if you know us at all, you know we like wacky. My favorite, surprisingly maybe, is NEWYORKMEZZO (43A: Certain Lincoln Center soprano?). The sound going from "Mets" to MEZZO is perfect and unexpected. I also quite enjoyed IRESTMYQUESO (85A: Comment from a cook who cools the cheese sauce before serving?). It's just so hilariously absurd. The two A sound answers don't work all that well for me, but maybe just because of my regional accent. VANITYFARAOH (40A: Egyptian leader obsessed with his appearance?) and LOVEISINTHEARROW (104A: Cupid's catchphrase?) are both nicely clued, but the A changes to a flatter version of the original. I say "fair" and "air" like I say Jane Eyre. If that helps. It's almost a diphthong. And the other two have more of a flat, "Say 'ah'" kind of sound.

But maybe that's too picky for a Sunday. I thought I would complain about KOSHERPICCOLO (89A: Woodwind that's O.K. to play?) but while it may have the weakest clue, the sounds aren't off. I sat here saying "pickle" and "piccolo" over and over to myself, and I think it works quite well.

I liked the clue for BEEF (Bit of food ... or feud?), and I chuckled at 93A: Something that's free of charge (NEUTRON). Hah! I also enjoyed the colloquial FINITO (96A: Done, slangily) (see also: SHAKE (37D: Lose)).

I did't feel that DEFY and "Brave" were equivalent as verbs, but there it is in my Random House, of course. The seventh definition of "brave," and the second as a transitive verb, begins with "To defy."

And while I'm looking things up, I'll save you the trouble and mention that ALF Landon lost in a landslide to FDR in 1936.

Overall, the theme got some laughs from me, and that's all I'm really looking for on a Sunday.

- Horace


  1. DNF in 31:54
    LOUISNYE/ABS/ANA/BYU wouldn't come to me. I know of neither Mr. Nye nor ANA Navarro, and even with the question mark, I couldn't come up with ABS. BYU I could have come up with if one or two of the others fell in. The rest was great, though, and I finished the bulk in around 27 minutes. I agree with Horace regarding the theme answers in general, and in particular with the "a" sound answers, but I have a soft spot for STIFFASABORDEAUX, whereas he didn't seem to mention it. PHEROMONE is nicely clued (75D Secreted signal).

  2. I completely agree with Huygens about that NE corner. Unfair crossing of NYE and ANA. Although Ana makes sense as a first name for a putatively Latina woman, I also considered Ada and Ava, neither of which were impossible with _YE as a last name. I completely agree also with Horace about the "ay" vs "ah" sounds in those two answers. My favorite is definitely IRESTMYQUESO. Absurd, and with a wonderful twist in the spelling.

  3. The NW gave us no such trouble. ANA Navarro, the CNN Republican analyst who became disgusted with Trump's misogyny BEFORE the election and continues to berate Trump while espousing conservatism, is well-know to me. And I know BYU because, well, I do follow sports. And I know SEX... well, because we had ultra-sounds that did indeed determine such for our two sons before they were born.

  4. 20:24
    Glad I read the title before starting (which I usually forget to do), since it made it pretty obvious early on what was going on with the theme. It also evoked (for me, at least) Peter Falk as Columbo. Which gives me an idea for a new form of Martial Arts / fitness featuring our friend Mr. Avery...

    I was fortunate to suss out LOUISNYE, which was apparently the tricky part here. Everything else made sense, except for why there are camels at an ICESHOW.

    1. You remember Marcus Welby, M.D., but not the Hamill Camel?

    2. Yep, no recollection of the Hamill Camel.

      Sounds cool though. Thanks for the reminder. I just checked it out on Youtube.

      Also, apologies to Mr. Amory for misspelling his name; but I'm sure he'd prefer not to be associated with my horrible pun anyhow.

  5. A camel is a figure skating move. Somehow that was in the depths of my psyche somewhere, but before posting to this blog I did double check:

    I'm not sure you are ready to brave the more aggressive crossword blog commentators, Horace. I suspect if there were more of them here they'd discuss that meaning of the word in a less subtle fashion than I'm trying to do here.

    The first two themers I got were STIFFASABORDEAUX and ROLLINGINTHEDEPOT and I was wondering if everything would end with a silent letter. But I guess if I read the title I wouldn't be thinking that.

    1. I am aware of the use of "brave" as a verb meaning "to meet or face courageously," and I find that the second definition of "defy" - "to offer effective resistance to" might come closest to that. I think most people would choose to say that the house "braved the storm" rather than "defied the storm," but it is precisely the options language allows that makes crossword puzzles any fun at all, is it not?