Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Wednesday, August 26, 2020, Carl Larson


I enjoyed today's theme, but I was thrown for a loop by the clue at 55A: "Investment for a restaurateur." At first, I read it as 'restauranteur'. Spelled the way I was reading it, it isn't even a word! Who knew there was no 'n' in there? But, when I got completely stuck there in the bottom middle section, I re-read the clue more carefully, noted the n-lessness, and decided I was stuck because the word must also mean a person who restores things. With that "update" to my thinking I  lost all chance of guessing the correct theme answer: MENUOPTION. I couldn't think of BURNS for "Devilishly clever insults, in slang," and I didn't know NRA or UNC. It also didn't help that I'm not exactly sure how an option is semantically parallel to gold, stocks, or bonds. It turned into a whole new kind of embarrassment of riches for this solver.

Even after I looked at the solution, I got the "keep trying" message from the app. I went over the complete puzzle three times, comparing it carefully word for word, but couldn't find anything wrong. Finally, on the fourth time through, I thought I noticed that the letter 'o' in COCKTAILS was a bit on the thin side - that's how carefully I was looking at it - and it turns out that somehow I typed a zero exactly where the 'o' belonged. So, yeah, did not figure it out thanks to wrong thinking in a big way all around. Do we have an acronym for that yet? DNFIOTTWTIABWAA. It helps to put a name to it. 

By Unknown author -

I don't mean to short change the theme. The other theme answers, all part of a WORKPORTFOLIO (the humorist's COMEDYGOLD, the butcher's BEEFSTOCK, the physicist's IONICBOND) were richly entertaining. 

I also appreciated "Sauce that's heavy on garlic ... and vowels" even though I don't take an AIOLI myself. The clue "50 or more letters?" for AARP was quite clever. I liked ALLWET, ITSALIVE OLIVEOIL and WEAKTEA. I love the word KNELT for some reason. And you don't see its companion of sorts, DIRK, every day. 

I enjoyed the idea behind the clue "What makes car care? but its answer ANE glitter, if you see what I mean. There were a few junk bonds like NRA, UNC, NAS, and AIG holding the puzzle together at the edges, but not enough to lower the rating. 

So, not a success today, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll try to do better tomorrow.



  1. I'm tempted to try to promote "non investment grade clues" in reviews in general.

    An option is a pretty standard financial asset, but outside of silicon valley and Wall Street and a few other places, I could see how it might be unfamiliar.

    I didn't realize that AIG survived the financial crisis of 2008, but I see there was government intervention and (well I'd need to read the article far more carefully to tell whether the money repaid to the government made up for the bailout money). I got off on a tangent, didn't I? I suppose that can often happen in trying to keep track of a WORKPORTFOLIO.

  2. 14:35
    Well, I'm very familiar with an option, but one needs to be careful in general with such things. I tried KNEel before trying the crosses and re-reading the clue's wording. I knew TAFT immediately and thought COCKTAILS was very nicely clued. The theme was an amusing one, and I always like a reminder of the great companion SARAH Jane Smith. It was also nice to see the ELTRAIN spelled out instead of the usual "el" or "els." I take an AIOLI, being a fan of both the mayo and garlic (and any other of the various ingredients that can go into one), but I don't take a BEEFSTOCK. IONICBOND is obviously my favorite of the theme answers, although we do love some COMEDYGOLD on occasion.

    1. And I forgot to mention the HUGO, which is also well-known to me.