Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 357), “Aloha!”—Janie’s take
Aloha! Oh, sweet. As we learn at 60A., today we get to GO ISLAND HOPPING. Not only is this lively phrase [What you may do on a Hawaiian vacation (the circled letters provide your itinerary)], but the arrangement of those circled letters—all uniformly spaced out within the theme fill—speaks to the deft theme-execution we’re treated to. I’m not wild crazy for all of the themers, but they’re more than up to the task—and the way they contain the ISLANDs in question wins the day. You also have to HOP from circled-letter to circled-letter within the themers to spell out the ISLANDs in question. So where are we goin’? By way of…
- 17A. THRILLA IN MANILA [Epic Ali/Frazier showdown in 1975], LANAI. This is the island that’s considered the most secluded. This is also the themer that’s considered the peppiest.
- 28A. MEASURING UP [Meeting expectations, say], MAUI. Wowie. Also home to the world’s largest dormant volcano.
- 46A. STOMACH BUGS [They can cause some real bellyaching], OAHU. This is the one that gets the most visitors. Whom we hope will enjoy it sans complaint—literal or figurative! Source of all Hawaiian trivia included here is included here.
The remainder of the puzz is filled with some solid eights, sevens and sixes: ALL CLEAR and RIGATONI; BLANKIE and HAGGLER; XANADU, STATIC, IDEALS, SALSAS, TOUPÉE and HYENAS. That’s good fill all! We also get some very strong entries among the fives, notably ELITE, BLURT, MESSY, SUPER (as in [Terrific]), even STRAD, that [Ridiculously-expensive violin]. All of these speak to me, including (especially as it’s clued) “SPEAK!” [“Say something!”].
Where the puzzle falls short is in the sheer number of names, proper nouns, abbreviations for proper nouns. Your mileage may vary… But even with some genuinely interesting cluing [Civil rights activist Horne] for LENA, who, as a singer/performer I associate more with SARAH [Jazz legend Vaughan], my engagement ebbs additionally encountering ALEX and ARI; ERIC and [Pulitzer-winning author…] Jennifer EGAN (though I sure loved reading […”A Visit from the Goon Squad”]); DIK Browne, Nolan RYAN, Irene CARA; LAHTI and LIAM; MUIR, MIROS and MAMIE (clued as [Dwight’s love], apparently overlooking the fact that he was not exactly a faithful husband; I’d’ve been far happier with something like [First Lady in Dwight’s White House]…); XANADU, ASIA and ETNA and ENID (OK); (even) STRAD; EMI and GMA… You get the idea.
I get my kicks instead from some of the more clever, pointed cluing—like [James Bond’s “top secret” in the Connery films] for TOUPÉE, [Calming “creature comfort,” for a tot] for BLANKIE, and the rhyming [Chow for a sow] for SLOP.
How did this one register with you? Whether or not you AGREE with my take, all responses are welcome! ;-)
Have a great week, all. After a less-than-perfect start, the remainder looks to be warmer and sunnier (well, by the weekend anyway…). Crocuses/croci are out in Central Park—some daffodils, hyacinth and forsythia, too—and the trees are coming into bud. Yes, we’ve got another somewhat reluctant spring going on in these parts, but spring it is. Achoo—and keep solving. Aloha!
Freddie Cheng’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Touchy Topic” — Laura’s write-up
- [17a: Counterpart of a guy-cry film]: CHICK FLICK. I have never heard of a guy-cry film. The internet suggests Field of Dreams, Brian’s Song, Dead Poets Society, and any movie where a dog dies. Is there a counterpart to the Bechdel Test in a guy-cry film? Like when two cishet guys talk to each other it can’t be about women but only about sports or dogs.
- [27a: Mockumentary rock band]: SPINAL TAP
- [40a: Scrape against, as a parked car]: SIDE SWIPE
- [51a: Make like a miser]: PENNY PINCH
- [41d: Device used with the actions at the ends of the starred answers]: IPHONE
LET’S SEE [29d: “Well, now…”], theme works fine; would’ve been kinda neat if all of the iPhone gestures were five letters, but I won’t be ADAMANT [20d: Unwilling to budge] (would’ve also accepted [80s New Waver with the hit “Stand and Deliver”]) about that. Like seeing EMMA PEEL [34d: John Steed’s partner on “The Avengers”] (played by Diana Rigg, who was Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, my little ones). [1d: Fashion designer Raf]: SIMONS wasn’t a household name for me, but it was pleasing to see other familiar trivia like [36a: Data throughput measure]: BIT RATE, [46a: Babe, for one]: PIG, and [36d: George Eliot’s “Adam ___”]: BEDE.
NICE SHOT [11d: Compliment on the court], Freddie. I’M DONE [37a: “That’s it for me”].
Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a curious theme. Seven answers that are 5 to 12 letters long end with words that sound like the names of letters, and those letters spell out QUICKLY, which is incorporated here: 67a. [To understand this puzzle’s theme, read the ends of the answers to the starred clues and …], THINK QUICKLY. Those seven answers are NETFLIX QUEUE (Q), “YES, YOU” (U), “MY EYE” (I), DEAD SEA (C), MARY KAY (K), KAL-EL (L), and “BUT WHY?” (Y). Unexpected, but it works.
The fill is mostly pretty smooth, but LESAGE and ABOU feel out of place in a Tuesday puzzle. Other names, like HALAS and YOST, might also challenge folks. The clues for ROGUE and GAG felt on the tough side, too. 20a. [Bit of a comic], GAG? Does that mean a stand-up comedian’s “bit” or a part of a drawn comic? Of the meanings of ROGUE that I use, 14d. [Animal that has strayed from the herd] is way down the list, below that Nissan vehicle. (Note: I have never been a cattle rancher. Your mileage may vary.)
Three more things:
- 4d. [Mag mogul with a mansion], HEF. Still gross, still not super-welcome in my puzzle. Also, his heirs have the mansion now.
- 27a. [Body blow reaction], OOF. Always bugs me when I can’t play this word in Scrabble-type games. It’s a real word! Come on!
- 50a. [Sticky-leaved plant that feeds on insects], SUNDEW. With a pretty name like that, you wouldn’t peg it for a carnivore, but there you have it.
3.8 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “The 4 Ps” – Derek’s write-up
In marketing, the 4 Ps are price, product, promotion and place. In this latest Jonesin’, they mean something totally different. I wonder if this puzzle was influenced by a recent LearnedLeague question?
- 17A [Spicy appetizers] JALAPEÑO POPPERS
- 30A [Card game where you match adjectives with nouns] APPLES TO APPLES
- 40A [Slice choice] PEPPERONI PIZZA – Chase’s favorite!
- 57A [“Wacky Races” character who later got her own cartoon] PENELOPE PITSTOP – I don’t know this reference, even though it is from way back in the late ’60s – early ’70s.
I got that question correct in the recent LL match day, primarily because I just had this in one of my last few classes for my Bachelor’s! How many other phrases can you come up with that have 4 P’s? PEPPERMINT PATTY is the first one that comes to mind! A solid 4.4 stars for another amusing puzzle. I messed up a little when doing this puzzle, but I hope you’ll forgive me that I don’t know Alvar AALTO!
- 15A [Hawkeye’s state] IOWA – Wouldn’t [Hawkeye state] suffice?
- 24A [“Wild” author Cheryl] STRAYED – Ah, yes, the pop culture reference I have never heard of. I think this is the same book that spawned the Reese Witherspoon movie.
- 37A [“The Subject Was Roses” director Grosbard] ULU – See last clue! I assume ULU is the first name?!
- 8D [“Texas” dance move] TWO-STEP – A little in the weeds here since I had PEPPERS at 17A at first!
- 25D [ __ in “questionable”] Q AS – Maybe a little contrived, but still clever.
- 45D [Blood group known as the universal donor] TYPE O – Took me a minute to figure out the word “type” was in here. Was thinking it was a hybrid type, like ABO or something. I don’t even know what type my OWN blood is!
- 48D [“Weekend Update” cohost Michael] CHE – He is funny!
- 52D [“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes” musical] RENT – My favorite song from this show!
Have a great week, everyone!
Evan Mahnken’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another constructor who is new to me! Either there are a lot of constructors I don’t know, or there are new ones coming up, either of which scenario is a good thing! Easy Tuesday puzzle, and I am still in ACPT mode, so done in 3:30! The theme has a revealer at 59A:
- 18A [Sci-fi energy ray that grabs ships] TRACTOR BEAM
- 3D [Sci-fi classic featuring Robby the Robot] FORBIDDEN PLANET
- 8D [Vessels pulling water-skiers] MOTORBOATS
- 11D [Sign outside a new store] OPEN FOR BUSINESS
- 28D [Unable to tell red from green, say] COLOR BLIND
- 59A [Small, influential group … and a hint to the word hidden in each answer to a starred clue] INNER CIRCLE
Yes, six, count ’em, SIX theme answers in an early week puzzle! Very will done. The “inner circle,” in case you hadn’t figured it out, are the letters ORB in every theme answer. I suppose there could have been circles or gray squares here, but I prefer it much more when they are NOT there, as it gives you a little something else to solve. A solid 4.6 stars for this one, not in small part to the plethora of theme answers!
- 30A [Sign before Virgo] LEO – I don’t put any stock in this zodiac craziness, but according to it, I AM a Leo. Do they even still have horoscopes in the paper?
- 39A [Puts in new film] RELOADS – Does anyone still do this? I haven’t seen an actual film camera in years.
- 49A [Soda can feature] PULL TAB – Or a beer can feature!
- 31D [“How to Get Away With Murder” actress __ Naomi King] AJA – A welcome alternative to the Steely Dan album. I was watching this show, but it got too crazy to follow.
That is all for today. As far as the Wolverines, close but no cigar. Go Blue!!