Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 334), “Cheep Joints”—Janie’s take
Saw that punny title and immediately thought, “Aha. Something about our fine feathered friends.” And I was definitely on the right track. While we don’t get a direct avian shout-out (or tweet jokes, thank-you-very-much), we do get a bird-related embedded-word theme, and a sweet one at that. The word in question appears at 59D. [Cozy retreat that’s hidden in the five longest answers] NEST. Before looking at those answers, will point out 1) that SENT at 70A. not only forms the SE corner with NEST, but is also an anagram of it; 2) that three of those themers are grid-spanners; and 3) that all of the themers are decidedly in-the-language phrases. No tricky cluing needed for this dense, de-lovely and diverse theme set.
- 17A. [Short distance] STONE‘S THROW AWAY. Nice visual metaphor—even if that distance is relative to the size of the STONE and the arm of the pitcher…
- 23A. [They may ham it up in “Hamilton”] SCENE STEALERS. Oh, no. They better not be “improving” their work in that show! ;-)
- 38A. [Place to fill up during a road trip] GASOLINE STATION. And not the Stuckey’s or the Mickey D’s en route. Or, not only the Stuckey’s or the Mickey D’s en route.
- 50A. [Facial feature that can be enhanced with makeup] BONE STRUCTURE. And then there are those who just have it naturally. Kate Hepburn, anyone?
- 60A. [Quote from a building contractor] WRITTEN ESTIMATE. Oh, yeah. This one hits very close to home because, even as we speak, my apartment is in the throes of a renovation. Am waiting for the “additional fees” to accrue… (But can also tell you, “So far, so good!”)
I found this to be an enjoyable solve over all. I was helped along the way not only by the execution of the theme, but by the fill/cluing in the remainder of the grid. There isn’t tons of longer fill, but GOOD SENSE and TITLE PAGE give us the quality we’re looking for. DITTO, among mid-rangers, [SENECA Falls (site of an 1848 women’s rights convention], WEASEL, CRIMES, and ORACLE (cannily clued as [Software giant, or a soothsayer]. Hmmm… would love to see a “software giant” Halloween costume…which I somehow imagine as a benevolent kind of giant.
And while I don’t ordinarily spend much time with them, today I’m gonna call out a bunch of the fives, because a lot of them are pretty punchy. Like the STRUT [Emulate a drum major] pair, and the way NOISY crosses SHYLY in the SW corner. Or the way BAWLS [Cries like a baby] is so close to NOISY. There’s more noise, too, in the NE, with “YOWIE!” [“Ouch!”]. [Verbal authority] is SAY-SO, “OH, YES” it is. INEPT is vividly and somewhat quaintly defined as [Like a stumblebum].
Anything but a stumblebum would be OPRAH [Media mogul Winfrey] or RONAN [Farrow who wrote a “New Yorker” exposé on Harvey Weinstein]. And the 50¢ vocabulary word would have to be CODEX. It’s clued as [Collection of Leonardo’s writings], but there’s a lot more here than meets the eye. (Iceland’s CODEX Regius is yet another that comes to mind.)
But my fave today—for the association it triggered—is the SLOTH [Slow-moving tree denizen] combo. Anyone else see Zootopia? This scene is one of the best-conceived, funniest, on-point anthropomorphic depictions of SLOTH behavior to come down the pike. Pretty darned brilliant. Imho…
Was today’s gimmick ground-breaking? Hardly. But the beauty of taking an old-chestnut and making it appealing and fresh—to make it resonate—is an art not to be underestimated. And hey—for the newbies out there, it’s all terra nova. Another beautiful asset not to be underestimated.
Have a great week, all—and keep solving!
Melina Merchant’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Enjoy!” — Laura’s write-up
- [18a: *TV premiere of 1951]: I LOVE LUCY
- [20a: *It contains 26 bones]: HUMAN FOOT
- [25a: *A full one is 3-2]: BATTING COUNT
- [42a: *Ramrod user]: CANNON LOADER
- [49a: *Society newbie]: DEBUTANTE
- [55aR: Enjoy oneself, and what the starred answers do]: HAVE A BALL
I LOVE LUCY has Lucille Ball; the HUMAN FOOT has a ball, which is the “the padded portion of the sole between the toes and the arch, underneath the heads of the metatarsal bones” (Wikipedia); a BATTING COUNT, though, could have one ball, or two — or as the clue informs us, three — or none, I suppose, if the count was 0-2; a CANNON LOADER presumably has the cannon ball that he or she is loading; and finally, a DEBUTANTE may have a ball, or perhaps a cotillion. All different kinds of balls! And fortunately for this newspaper’s family audience, another potential entry — someone who allegedly had a ball — was left out.
As commanded by the title, I found much to Enjoy! in this grid:
- Literary terms like TROPE [17a: Figurative use of a word], GENRE [41a: Mystery or mockumentary, e.g.], and SLANG [48a: Challenge for a translator] plus references to Shakespeare [31a] and George ELIOT [60a: “Silas Marner” author].
- [41d: Like Colonel Sanders and Uncle Sam]: GOATEED. I once clued GOATEE as [Your evil twin might have one].
- Not sure I buy EYELINE [10d: Horizontal view] as a word, but it doesn’t make me [25d: Show sorrow]: BAWL or [33a: Show sorrow]: SOB.
- [4d: No longer at the gate]: DEPARTED. I can only hear this word spoken by Leonardo DiCaprio in a Boston accent. The depahted.
- On the topic of Bostonia, let’s let NEIL [52d: Musical Diamond] sing us out:
Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The 16-letter revealer is 59a. [What a sci-fi portal might lead to … or what’s added successively to the ends of the answers to the starred clues], ANOTHER DIMENSION. The four theme answers end with POINT, LINE, PLANE, and SPACE. What I just learned from Wikipedia is that a POINT is 0-dimensional; I did know that the other three are 1-, 2-, and 3-dimensional. Raise your hand if this “0-dimensional” concept is new to you, and if you’d like to use it to describe certain people.
I like the themers: “THAT’S NOT THE POINT,” PICKUP LINE, SNAKES ON A PLANE, and “I NEED SPACE.” I was disappointed that PICKUP LINE was the answer to [Cheesy fare served at a bar?]. Now hankering for mozzarella sticks and nachos, and yes, I had dinner.
I was surprised to see some of this fill in a Tuesday puzzle, and would think the puzzle is better suited to Wednesday. Right off the bat, 1-Across is a guessing game: Do you need the more common HAJJ spelling or the lesser HADJ? Then you hit LE CAR, not manufactured in 34 years and never all that popular. OONA Chaplin, who’s not really much more famous than OONA O’Neill in the U.S. at this point (she’s in the cast for Avatar 2, though, so maybe everyone will know her name in 2020!). Crosswordese RIA, LOESS (crossing OONA, no less!), PAREE. Not-so-familiar [Japanese eel-and-rice dish], UNADON. The long fill is nice, but a Tuesday puzzle needs smoother fill overall.
- 35d. [LeBron James’s hometown], AKRON, OHIO. Did you know LeBron’s foundation has pledged $41 million for 4-year scholarships at University of Akron for kids in his Akron program? Good works.
- 30d. [“Frozen” princess], ELSA. Technically, this clue is better for ANNA. ELSA is a snow queen and not a mere princess.
- 41d. [Mecca for oenophiles], NAPA. Apparently (according to the folks at Wine Train), most of Napa Valley was not directly touched by the wildfires.
- 4d. [Lakeside rental], JETSKI. I saw a bunch of Jetskis out in Lake Michigan last week … and now it’s 49° and it’ll be gusty and raw tomorrow. Jetski season is hereby over.
- 28d. [Intro to Chinese?], INDO-. Maybe this belonged in the paragraph of Fill That Really Tuezzed? Although Googling Indochinese, I see that Chicagoland has a number of restaurants in the Indo-Chinese fusion category, Indian-meets-Chinese cuisine. Sign me up!
3.4 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “And?” – Derek’s write-up
“People in conjunction” is how the flavortext reads, and that is what we have: famous people whose last names end in an “and” sound, and then worked into a phrase. Let me list the theme entries:
- 17A [Musician Wainwright fully understandable?] LOUDON CLEAR
- 25A [Actor Quinn in the act of helping?] AIDAN ABET
- 34A [Baseball’s Dwight prepared?] GOODEN READY
- 48A [Composer Franz Joseph’s search?] HAYDN SEEK – Did you see the game of Hide & Seek played by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a TD celebration?
- 55A [CEO Buffett’s time of quiet?] WARREN PEACE
It is often the preferred tactic to save the best pun for last, and I think Matt accomplished that on this one! All of these are pretty good, but 55A seems a cut above the others. Maybe I am just happy I got just about all of Matt’s pop culture references in this puzzle! 4.4 stars today.
Just a few more things:
- 51A [Rick’s TV grandson] MORTY – I get the reference, but I have never seen this show. I will have to find an episode On Demand!
- 3D [Elvis classic of 1956] HOUND DOG – To get stuck in your head:
- 11D [Manufacturer of Gummy Bears] HARIBO – I have seen these!
- 18D [“Hollywood Squares” win, perhaps] OOO – The Joker’s Wild comes on tonight with Snoop Dogg hosting! I may just have to record it!
- 26D [Sir Walter Scott novel] IVANHOE – I haven’t read this, either. It’s surely available on my Kindle for free!
- 36D [Piece for Magnus Carlsen] ROOK – This is the current world chess champion. Isn’t that right, Matt Gaffney?!
- 44D [Little Red Book follower] MAOIST – This reminds me again of The Vietnam War, the documentary recently on PBS. The Chinese and Russians supplied the North Vietnamese with many of their weapons, and although it isn’t mentioned often in this country, the North Vietnamese won, and that country is still Communist today. Very interesting, and I highly recommend you see it if you haven’t already.
That’s all for this week’s Jonesin’! See you next week for another one!
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Our good buddy, the prolific C.C. Burnikel, has another puzzle for us! I spotted the reverse “reds” in the colored circles, and I was amused by the trademark revealer at 59A:
- 18A [Big commotion] HURLY-BURLY
- 28A [It has only two possible answers] YES OR NO QUESTION
- 46A [Start of a teaching moment from grandpa] WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE, … – And also the start of an eye roll from whoever is listening!
- 59A [Showing embarassment] TURNING RED
So different types of red colors (ruby, rose, and wine) are turned around, thus they are turning red! Nice and simple; tightly executed. No surprise anymore by C.C.! A solid 4.3 stars today.
Just a few other things:
- 44A [“The Blacklist” government agency] FBI – Also the organization featured in Mindhunter on Netflix, I believe. My son says it’s good!
- 2D [Naval construction worker] SEABEE – I knew this was a Navy term, but not that it was specifically construction. I am not that familiar with a lot of military terminology.
- 4D [“C’est la vie”] “SO IT GOES” – The literal translation is “That’s life,” but the gist is still the same!
- 29D [Ear cleaners] Q-TIPS – I started to automatically put a U in the second position here until I read the clue! I wonder how those ear cleaners you see all the time on Facebook work … ?
- 30D [Carrier whose largest hub is O’Hare: Abbr.] UAL – This is actually the stock abbreviation for United Airlines; does their company officially use this abbreviation? A fellow classmate of mine was their interim CEO for a hot minute last year. He was nowhere around when the regular CEO was taking heat for that passenger they threw off the plane!
- 40D [Computer network security system] FIREWALL – Is this one word or two? Can it be either?
The World Series starts tonight! That means it will be snowing soon!