Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 336), “Let’s Go With the Flow”—Janie’s take
So we’re goin’ with the flow today, but not in the sense of kickin’ back and chillin’. Rather we’re going with the flow of a specific body of water, namely, as we learn at 59D. (the) NILE [River that flows north through Africa … and upward through five vertical answers]. Hah! One more themer than the NILE has main tributaries. What I loved about this solve was that it took me til the reveal to catch onto the game, to experience the “aha”—and then to appreciate the wit behind each northern-flowing, embedded NILE in the rangy theme set. Which, moving from west to east, is made up of:
- 29D. GEL INSOLES [“Massaging” products from Dr. Scholl’s]. Speaking of “chillin’,” are you GELlin’? Where the sole portion is concerned, note the clue-based homophonic connection in the [Soul searching sessions?] SEANCES pair.
- 21D. DANIEL INOUYE [Senator from Hawaii who was the first Japanese-American member of Congress]. His Senate colleague Hiram Fong (also from Hawaii) was the first Asian-American and Chinese-American to hold that double distinction.
- 7D. TRAVEL INSURANCE [Policy for a globetrotter]. Okay, a little dry, this one. But… it’s a grid-spanner. And… yes, I see that “globetrotter” isn’t capitalized. Still, that didn’t stop me from thinking first of the Harlem Globetrotters, as “TRAVEL” was emergin in my grid, leading me to think of TRAVELing in the context of basketball (see section XIV) and how many players and/or teams would probably welcome some sort of court-associated TRAVELing INSURANCE.
- 9D. “I WALK THE LINE” [Johnny Cash hit]. A classic country hit for the man in black. Not Reba McIntyre’s C AND W genre. Just the “C.” Additionally, the puzz gives us the AMBLE [Walk] pair. “Because you’re mine, I AMBLE THE LINE.” Ix-nay!!
- 11A. ABE LINCOLN [Kentucky-born POTUS]. “…in a small log cabin on the Sinking Spring Farm…” (Wikipedia). Talk about yer grim-sounding, inauspicious beginnings…
This well-executed theme gets great support, too, from the non-theme fill, which is colorful and lively, and which, more often than not, is clued in an equally colorful and lively way. Today’s healthy theme density—and the vertical placement of that theme set—restricts the quantity of long non-themers. That said, highlights would have to include SUNDAES, SEANCES and “SO THERE!” which zigzag through the grid.
Then, because we were in the vicinity of Africa, the Mediterranean and points east, I also enjoyed the inclusion of the AEGEAN [Sea off Mykonos] (never been, but sounds like a piece of heaven). STOP/GO aptly syncs with “rush hour traffic,” and LADLES, while a more utilitarian word/object, gets some life pumped into it with the epicurean specificity of the clue, [Vichyssoise servers] (so not people but things…). Am partial to seeing LESLIE in the grid, since that’s my middle name. And MUESLI, the [Swiss breakfast mix] is, basically, unbaked granola—either one of which makes for a tasty if (questionably) “healthy” topping for those SUNDAES.
The SMASH [Big Broadway hit, like “Hamilton”] pair gets the puzzle off to a peppy start in the NW; and [HOCUS-pocus], directly below, gladly put me in mind of last week’s puzzle and the Bette Midler movie that didn’t make the cut. Two great jazzy musicians get shoutouts, EUBIE Blake and Count BASIE. Love, too, that they’re grid opposites, west and east (and, where genre is concerned, stand in stark contrast to OPERA—and the previously mentioned C AND W). That SE corner is especially strong with the stack created by [MEDIA blitz], TROLL [“The Hobbit” baddie] and MELÉE [Chaotic brawl]. Ah, thank you for the [Placid] CALM in the NE.
Slyest clue/fill combo? The side by side not-exactly-“animal” double-bill of [Bull or bear tail] and [Cougar, Charger or Impala] for -ISH (as in bullISH or bearISH) and CAR [newbies: note those capital letters…] respectively. Nice when even three-letter entries get this kind of careful cluing.
Which brings me to the end of today’s discussion. No, no connect-the dots today. But lots of opportunities to make your own connections within the puzz. Til next time, hope you’ll have a great week ahead—and keep solving! ;-)
Harold Jones’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Voting In” — Laura’s write-up
SALUTATION [14a: Start of a formal letter], solvers! A form of “Voting” is “In” four entries in our fair grid:
- [16a: Like many flowers visited by bees]: CROSS POLLINATED
- [25a: Famed Harlem music hall]: APOLLO THEATER
- [45a: Oscar-winning director of “Out of Africa”]: SYDNEY POLLACK
- [60a: Twins aboard the Argo]: CASTOR AND POLLUX. Brothers of Helen, missing during the Trojan War, although accounts vary. Now hanging out in the night sky as the brightest stars in Gemini.
- [64aR: Voting process found in the four longest Across answers]: POLL
If there’s an election in your area today, for the love of pete, please go to the POLLs, even if it seems trivial — today’s dogcatcher or county commissioner could go far. Signed, an elected government official.
- I liked seeing both [39a: Part of a defendant’s case, often]: ALIBI and [25d: Wanted poster datum]: ALIAS.
- A friend of mine is a physicist who studies [55a: Ionized gas]: PLASMA. He often has to explain that his research is on “the fourth state of matter, not the bodily fluid.”
- Usually we see eponymous [31d: Cube creator]: RUBIK‘s first name, Ernő, in crosswords, so it’s refreshing to have his last name instead.
- [27a: New York’s largest lake]: ONEIDA, looks kinda like the “thumb” of the Finger Lakes.
- Whereas ENIAC was a [30d: Computer that weighed 30 tons], I’m writing this post on a MacBook that weighs slightly more than two pounds. Progress!
[24a: “A Streetcar Named Desire” sister]
Greg Poulos’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I figured out the gist of this theme a few themers in. 56a. [Annual American Dialect Society award given to seven answers in this puzzle] is WORD OF THE YEAR, and the ADS pick is, in my opinion, the one to pay attention to. The ADS members meet in person and vote on the best (most useful, most likely to last, and/or making the most impact on society) single word or phrase, along with words in such categories as slang, hashtag, politics, most useful, and so on. The past WOTY winners are clued straightforwardly, with their years in brackets: MILLENNIUM BUG (moving on…), DUMPSTER FIRE, BAIL OUT, PLUTOED, SINGULAR “THEY,” WMD, and APP. Stay tuned to Twitter for live-tweeting of the 2017 WOTY voting!
- 32a. [H&R Block staffers], CPAS. *hmph* Not really. The tax preparers at H&R Block often have far less expertise and training than CPAs. Ask any accountant.
- 43a. [Agency issuance, in brief], REG. Oh, really? And here I thought agencies were mainly aimed at canceling regulations.
- 28d. [Lentil dish at an Indian restaurant], DAL. Isn’t it curious how often Asian food is clued as if it only exists in restaurants? While it’s true I haven’t cooked dal or channa masala from scratch, I’ve eaten grocery store versions at home more than at restaurants—and billions of Asian people are cooking Asian food at home.
- 10d. [New York’s Stonewall Inn, e.g.], GAY BAR. Love the answer! There are, of course, a zillion other gay bars, but perhaps none so historically famous as the Stonewall. Heck, there’s even a rec sports league in Chicago called Stonewall Sports. I see folks wearing their Stonewall Dodgeball T-shirts around the neighborhood.
Plenty of non-Tuesday-friendly fill: KEW UIE -INO UTE ETON, foreign OEUF SALUT. Also in the debit column: the dreaded 4-letter alphabet run RSTU, about 20 names (too many for most solvers’ comfort), lots of abbrevs, and the UPROAR/HOLD UP overlap.
3.25 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Chopped” – Derek’s write-up
Slight quibble with the theme this week, although virtually no complaints with solve quality. The theme has the word “CUT” added to a familiar phrase:
- 19A [No-frills hair stylings to look like a breakfast mascot?] CEREAL BOWL CUTS
- 36A [Injuries from your book on the beach?] SANDPAPER CUTS
- 55A [Sparring with a punching bag for only half the usual time, e.g.?] BOXER SHORTCUTS
So here is my beef: cereal bowl and sandpaper can stand as singular terms, but boxer shorts is always in the plural. To further this point, sandpaper is the same both singular and plural. It’s not a big thing, but you are either adding CUT to a plural or adding the word CUTS across the board, and if you do either, it doesn’t work uniformly unless everything originally ends in S. Or maybe I am just persnickety! But this was a nice 76-worder to solve, and I actually stumbled a bit in the NW corner since I had an answer in there wrong. Still a fun solve, as Matt has a knack with fill, and I got all the pop culture references again! 3.9 stars today.
A few more notes:
- 14A [Turing played by Benedict Cumberbatch] ALAN – I actually HAVE seen The Imitation Game! It was quite good, and helps to tell a story that was a tad before my time.
- 26A [“King” bad guy in Super Mario Bros.] KOOPA – Only mystery here was how to spell this correctly!
- 40A [Mark Harmon military series] N.C.I.S. – This show has been on FOREVER. Probably because it’s pretty good.
- 50A [Basketball Hall of Fame sportscaster Dick] VITALE – I actually thought ENBERG at first. I am gettin old … Dick Vitale has been in the HOF since 2008.
- 3D [Creep] WEIRDO – I has WEASEL in here, and, as mentioned above, had all sorts of issues.
- 11D [Pale carrot relatives] PARSNIPS – I don’t think I knew this. I have certainly had parsnips recently in my vegan journey.
- 33D [“The Blacklist” star James] SPADER – I watched the first season or two of this show, then I just got lost. I still fell that many cable shows are far superior. But this is still fairly riveting, at least until you get to the point where you don’t seem to care where the plot goes anymore.
- 47D [Crooner Robert portrayed by Will Ferrell on “SNL”] GOULET – I tried to find a clip of him in this persona, but they were all just to silly. Google it yourself!
It’s already November! See you next week for another Jonesin’!
Andrew Sand’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Andrew Sand is not in the constructor database, so either this is a new pseudonym, or this is one of this person’s first puzzles in print. I count 74 words in this one, and after the revealer at 53A, I did go back and see what exactly was in those circles!
- 20A [Three Stooges movie, e.g.] SLAPSTICK FILM
- 25A [Induction cooktop alternative] NATURAL GAS STOVE
- 47A [Fluffy dessert] CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
- 53A [Eco-friendly request … and a hint to sorting out the aptly circled letters] PLEASE RECYCLE
Nicely done, especially if this is an early venture into constructing. I didn’t find much to gripe about fill-wise, and the theme is clever enough for a Tuesday puzzle. 4.4 stars from me!
A few more things:
- 23A [Michigan or Mead] LAKE – Lake Michigan is in my neck of the woods; Lake Mead is evidently near Las Vegas.
- 37A [Driver’s license test] EYE EXAM – I cannot even fake my way through this test anymore. I am old and broken down!
- 60A [Enterprise captain born 3/22/2233] KIRK – I don’t think I realized this was so far in the future. Matt: where is this reference from?
- 25D [Offensive to some, for short] NOT P.C. – Nice entry, even if I don’t always know what is or isn’t P.C.!
- 27D [“Pagliacci” clown] TONIO – A tough piece of trivia for an early week puzzle. Or maybe just for me!
- 28D [Treaty of __; War of 1812 ender] GHENT – Another tough piece of trivia, but not quite as hard.
That is all. Have a wonderful week!