Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 332), “Through a Looking Glass”—Janie’s take
Not Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, but more in line with a literal reading of the title of another classic at 57A. [1954 Hitchcock thriller that hints at the theme in 17-, 28-, 35- and 43-Across], namely REAR WINDOW. The gimmick today is that the last word (or “REAR”) of those other themers describes a particular kind of WINDOW—the kind of glass you can look through. And once again, Liz finds the perfectly layered and playful title for the theme set. Always a plus. And the themers themselves cover a wide range of territory—which always keeps things lively—representing lively fill in their own right. In other words: another plus.
- 17A. [Sugar daddy] MEAL TICKET –> ticket window. Wow. While I feel certain this kind of relationship is still very much with us, the slangy feel of this clue/fill combo summons up the 1930s and gold diggers and going up to the ticket window for admission to see Gold Diggers of 1933 (or -35 or -37). More classics of the silver screen!
- 28A. [Stick in Yo-Yo Ma’s hand] CELLO BOW –> bow window. So “stick” is a noun here and not a verb…and now we have a classical musician (who has also done breathtaking work in bringing global music to the fore through Silkroad).
- 35A. [Best-selling book by Sebastian Junger] THE PERFECT STORM –> storm window. The movie may not be a classic, but the book is a harrowing and classic example of adventure/disaster/the human component in what-we-learned-from-the-disaster writing. A compelling read. No storm window could’ve withstood the elements Junger describes. Alas. Do love the way this title spans the grid right there at center, btw.
- 43A. [Site of Wisconsin’s Lambeau Field] GREEN BAY –> bay window. Wait a sec. Didn’t we just have a bay window? Nupe—that was a bow window and yes, they are similar, but they really are two different items. And Lambeau Field and the GREEN BAY Packers? That’s one classic football team. Along the lines of the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Colts [yes, I’m still bitter…].
Something else I liked about the solve? The fact that until the reveal—and even with the title—I had no idea where this was headed and enjoyed retrofitting the themers to get the big picture. Nice. Nice, too, those two 10-letter downs: GOAT CHEESE (because a good Greek salad is a savory treat indeed) and BROADSIDES. Not saying that I advocate collisions on land or sea, but am saying I think BROADSIDES is a powerful word in the puzz, adding to its muscle. (Come to think of it, I suppose those SUMOS [Wrestling heavyweights] do, too, in their own way…)
The geography of the themers limits the amount of additional longer and even mid-range fill in the grid, but among the sixes, I particularly liked POP DUO [Hall & Oates, e.g.], ANTLER [Blitzen’s horn]—which I kinda wish had been clued more ambiguously as [Cupid’s horn?] or [Dancer’s horn?]—and CASINO [House of cards?], which gave us the misdirection I’d been hoping for earlier. Interesting, that juxtaposition of the abutting DOVE [Peace emblem] and SWAT [Police jacket letters] (which stand for Special Weapons and Tactics Team…). On the lighter side, the reminder that the [Punster’s favorite sound] is the GROAN. Even lighter? A [Butterfly on the shoulder, perhaps] TAT. (Lovely and timely “Talk of the Town” piece on monarch butterfly migration in last week’s New Yorker, btw.)
Nuttin’ [Profound] DEEP to add, so I’ll wrap this up. Wishing you a fine week ahead and thanks for stopping by today. Til next time: keep solving!
Peter A. Collins’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Believe It or Not” — Laura’s review
- [20a: Was acquainted with rock drummer Keith?]: KNEW MOON
- [27a: Wildebeest Preserve?]: GNU FRONTIER
- [45a: Declaration of love for a Greek consonant?]: NU TESTAMENT
- [55aR: Inaccurate information, and what the starred answers have in common]: FAKE NEWS
The Word of the Year for 2016, as designated by Oxford Dictionaries, was post-truth, which is apparently the condition under which we now live — in a post-truth society. I am a librarian, and thinking critically about information and the media is one of the missions of my profession (we call this information literacy). So I’m glad to see FAKE NEWS as a puzzle theme, and I’ll share this infographic from the International Federation of Library Associations about how to spot FAKE NEWS. And you have even fewer reasons to trust the guy who said he invented FAKE NEWS, because according to our friends at Merriam-Webster, it has been in use as a compound noun for over 100 years, with other variations, such as false news, centuries older.
Okay, thanks for the [29d: Discussion venue]: FORUM to discuss my life’s work; now, how was the puzzle? I wish the themers had been a little tighter; somehow the repetition of NEW within KNEW stood out to me — but perhaps there were no valid entries incorporating Krautrock band NEU!, Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, or the multilevel marketing company Nu Skin. And when your themers, including the revealer, total only 38 letters, you have room for [63a: Lots] A TON of lovely long down entries like LIFE JACKET [3d: What to wear when taking out the junk?] (at which I did a bit of a double-take but then realized, junk as in a type of boat), INNER PEACE [30d: Meditative goal], and HOME JAMES [34d: Request to a chauffeur] (although isn’t the chauffeur usually named Jeeves? Or is that the butler?). There was a tolerable [14a: Miscellaneous collection]: OLIO of fill, with only [12d: At the Staples Center, perhaps]: IN LA sticking out at me. I seem to remember commenters remarking on the Natickness of OKEMO [41a: Ski resort in Vermont] when it has appeared before (recently in a BEQ grid, I think), but it’s near where I live, so not a [18a: Frightful]: DIRE entry to me. Favorite clue:
[26d: A poetry form
With seventeen syllables
And only three lines]:
Mark MacLachlan’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Weird chemistry theme. There are three revealers, sort of:
- 67a. [What “This” refers to, in this puzzle’s theme: Abbr.], AT. NO. For my money, one of the worst multi-word abbreviations in crosswords. (NT. WT. is right up there too.)
- 38d. [The answer to each clue that says “This, on the periodic table”], NOBLE GAS.
- 43d. [The answer to each clue that says “This, on the periodic table”], ELEMENT. Uh, if you’ve already specified NOBLE GAS, this is assumed.
Then there are assorted answers where the clue number is the atomic number for assorted noble gases: 2d HELIUM, 10a NEON, 18a ARGON, 36a KRYPTON, and 54a XENON. Number 86 radon and number 118 oganesson are left out because the highest number in the grid is 67. Since the word lengths in the theme and revealers don’t match up, even if the numbers would work out, you’ve got a mishmash of places where you expect a symmetrical partner in the theme … but there isn’t one. And if you can’t include all the noble gases, the theme is by definition incomplete.
The most colorful fill—OUT OF COURT, OVERSTAYED, FIRE ALARM (and I use “colorful” loosely here) is longer than anything in the theme. Meh.
Three more things:
- FIRE ALARM‘s ending and REARM‘s ending are too closely related (shared etymology) for my taste.
- Entries that seem a bit much for a Tuesday grid: French REVE and ILES, ERGOT, ESSO, and LT. YR.
- 7d. [Act hostilely], AGGRESS. Someone on Twitter groused that this isn’t a word, but guess what? It’s been around since 1708, says Merriam-Webster. That link even has a podcast in which the lexicographers discuss the issue.
2.75 stars from me. The theme wasn’t fun for me, but chemistry nerds may beg to differ.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Weekends” – Derek’s write-up
I started solving this without looking at the title, and after I got the first theme entry, tried valiantly to guess the rest. I failed miserably until I had the crossings! I’ll explain more in a sec, but here are the entries that all start with W and end in K:
- 16A [Kept track of time in boredom] WATCHED THE CLOCK
- 33A [Comment of sudden confusion] WHAT THE HECK!
- 42A [Return message?] WELCOME BACK!
- 61A [Heated drink that traditionally helps you fall asleep] WARM GLASS OF MILK
First of all, I have NEVER had a warm glass of milk! Maybe some cream in my coffee, but ugh! That has never sounded tasteful to me. Speaking of bad taste, I also thought that 33A ended in another, shall we say, more shocking word! I actually had the F and U in the grid before I frantically changed it! What is wrong with me?? (Don’t answer that!) Nice puzzle, Matt. 4.4 stars.
A few more things:
- 1A [Maker of the CR-V] HONDA – I would like an SUV. Perhaps one a little bigger than this one, though. Or maybe just a truck!
- 14A [Studio 54, for one] DISCO – I am old enough to remember disco music, but not old enough to have gone to one! And you know how I always talk about movies I have never seen? You can add Saturday Night Fever to that list! One of these days …
- 51A [“__ Weapon” (Mel Gibson film)] LETHAL – It was a Danny Glover film just as much! Also, a TV show!
- 66A [Dick who coached the Washington Bullets to a 1978 NBA Championship win] MOTTA – The sports nerd in me got this quickly. And yes, they are known as the Washington Wizards now. Who ever thought Bullets was OK??
- 7D [“Straight Outta Compton” star __ Jackson, Jr.] O’SHEA – This is Ice Cube’s son, and he plays his dad well in this movie. Yes, I have seen this! And I am old enough to remember all the stuff that happened in this movie!
- 17D [Archie Bunker’s wife] EDITH – I am also old enough to have watched this show, All in the Family, quite a lot. My favorite show of all time, The Jeffersons, was a spinoff. Can you still watch either of these shows these days?
- 44D [__-Meal (longtime hot cereal brand)] MALT-O – I ate a lot of this as a kid. I am showing my age today!!!!!
That is all for today. Have a great week!
Samuel A. Donaldson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Our fellow blogger! Sam Donaldson has Tuesday’s LAT, and with a tight version of a theme that I’m sure has been done before: homophones of words that sound like the letter “C”
- 17A [Legendary terror of the deep] SEA MONSTER
- 36A [Honor roll student’s disappointment] C PLUS
- 54A [“Doesn’t matter to me”] “SEE IF I CARE”B
- 11D [“Forget You” singer who was a coach on “The Voice”] CEE LO GREEN
- 27D [“Aye, lass,” in Acapulco] SI, SENORITA
I have done a couple of puzzles myself with similar themes. I especially like the C PLUS in the middle; gives it a little pizzazz! A solid 4.2 stars from me.
A few more notes:
- 5A [West Indies tribe for which a sea is named] CARIB – This seems easy only AFTER you solve it!
- 20A [Action hero Jason in three Ludlum novels] BOURNE – I had to check this, but it’s true. Much like Tom Clancy novels keep coming after his death, they are on the 14th Jason Bourne novel, but Robert Ludlum only wrote three! On a side note, I am halfway through the latest movie in the franchise, Jason Bourne.
- 44A [Gumbo pod] OKRA – A lot of people aren’t big okra fans, but I have family roots in NoLa, so we have had it quite a lot. And if you have never had good gumbo, your life is incomplete.
- 9D [Rihanna’s home country] BARBADOS – Why did I think she was from Trinidad?
- 37D [Radar gun user] SPEED COP – Isn’t that most of them, at different times? Seems a little contrived, but I don’t usually speed.
- 42D [Airport porter] SKYCAP – Why do I never see these people when I need their help??
Have a great week. Go Cubbies!!