Friday, July 15, 2016: “Unionized Turkey”

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Solving time: 53:25, which is right around my average time for a Friday. There were a couple clues that I definitely should have solved much quicker, given that I had more than enough letters when I was trying to figure them out. So this is like medium-ish but also kinda easy.

Puzzle quality: On a scale from EINE to … uh … uh … the [PETE] BEST possible score, with EINE being a TAPE of an OPIATED TURKEY smoking SPEED while dancing to DEVO‘s “Whip It” and the [PETE] BEST possible score being a TAPE of an OPIATED TURKEY smoking SPEED while dancing to DEVO‘s “Whip It,” a solid 7.5.

Whip it good.


Thought of the day: When the AFRICAN DODO’S ROBE OPEN[ed] IN whilst he RAN HOME, his COVETED eggs GOT spilled onto the GREASY STOREY; as Jay LERNER EXAMINE[d] them, he wrote the most ADMIRED lyrics of his career:

dat egg got a sweet AROMA for a DODO
like fine potato dough doe

First, I just wanted to say that my heart goes out to all the victims of last night’s attacks in Nice. Such a senseless tragedy must have been totally unexpected on a night of celebration and rejoicing for the hundreds of families who were observing the Bastille Day fireworks next to the beach.

All around, this week’s Friday was an enjoyable puzzle, with quality clues in every section of the grid. 15A: Hugh who played TV’s House (LAURIE) was a Monday- or Tuesday-level gimme on the UL (upper-left) of the puzzle, and figuring out GLACIAL (1D: Beyond slow) from the “L” of LAURIE and then AMISS (26A: Off) from the second “A” of GLACIAL gave me confidence that I might finish the puzzle under 40 minutes. Alas, that didn’t come to pass, but for a moment there in the UL, I felt like a Rex Parker Jr. conquering the crossword universe.

cartoon 7-15

YEAST was clued brilliantly with 6D: Rising generation?, which refers to the fact that generations of YEAST rise when you bake bread, and its placement next to AROMAS (4D: Agents in some therapy) in the grid reminded me of my grandma’s cookies. LEE (31A: Gray head) was a solution that I didn’t understand until I had finished the entire puzzle; all the times that I was scrolling through my Facebook feed in history class must have made me forget that the Confederates wore gray uniforms in battle. All that Internet surfing didn’t help me with STASSEN either (14D: Nine-time presidential contender of the 1940s-’90s), whom I didn’t know about until today’s grid. That brings me to the UR (upper-right).


In this section of the puzzle, we have one clue that’s too general and another one that’s too precise. I got NAIROBI (13D: Safari Capital of the World) just from the “I” in OPEN IN (34A: What exterior doors typically do), since there are very few African cities I know that end in “I.” However, I must say that AFRICANS was a weak answer for the clue that cross-referenced NAIROBI, 7A: 13-Down natives, e.g. A clue about Nairobi’s natives should really have KENYANS for a solution, since AFRICANS is just far too broad. Oddly enough, I thought about India when I first read the clue 18A: Subcontinent wide but thought that an answer involving the country would be too specific. Lo and behold, the solution was ALL INDIA, even though nothing about the word “subcontinent” by itself suggests India. There are other subcontinents too, aren’t there? 30A: Trial cover-up should have definitely had a question mark at the end of it, since the answer – ROBE – is a pun, and a fantastic one at that (the judges that adjudicate at trials wear ROBEs). I was convinced that 21A: Many new car drivers (LEASERS) would refer to teens who are driving a car for the first time, but instead the clue was alluding to new cars and not new drivers.

I loved the double-cross-referencing 36A: See 19- and 37-Across (UNIONIZED). A CHEMIST (One from whom 36-Across has four syllables) would pronounce UNIONIZED as UN-IONIZED, as in unconverted into an ion and hence the four syllables. A PLUMBER (One for whom 36-across has three syllables) would pronounce UNIONIZED as, well, UNIONIZED, as in formed into a labor union and hence the three syllables. My friend Ellis told me that he heard that joke from a TV show, so maybe it’s not a crossword original. As a matter of fact, I just found the pun floating around on the interwebs.

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Chemist: If we don’t unionize the water that makes up toilets, nobody should be using them!
Plumber: If we don’t unionize the people who make toilets, nobody will be using them!

Other stray notes:

  • Is EMPTIES (55A: Recycling bin fill) really a word? Mr. Oxford tells me that it’s “informal” to use the word as a noun. Bleh.
  • If you’re going to reference Perry Mason, a detective character from the 1930s-’60s that probably zero of my friends know about, through 56A: Creator of the lawyer Perry (ERLE), then at least mention a more modern literary protagonist in the same grid.
  • EINE, the answer to 46A: Mozart title starter, refers to “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (which gets translated into English as “A Little Night Music”). It’s the second day in a row that that word has appeared in an NYTimes crossword.
  • A STUB (52A) can be considered “Admission evidence” because you need to show it to an usher or a ticket agent or a who-have-you in order to enter, or be “admitted” into, a show or a concert or a what-have-you.
  • I had a suspicion that ISSUES would be the answer to 47D: Time after Time? but was reluctant to write it into the grid. I thought that the solution would involve some timestamp in the back cover of a Time magazine issue and failed to see the much simpler pun that lay in front of me.
  • I’m pretty sure – but not completely sure – that SIRE, the answer to 33D: Top of the line?, signifies the fact that a SIRE is a male animal used for breeding. Thus, it would be at the top of a genealogical line.


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