Those of you who didn’t attend the Indie 500 crossword tournament this past weekend and haven’t ordered the puzzles to solve at home, I strongly encourage you to spend $10 to get the puzzles! They’re wonderful, all of them. Smart and clever, and with an inclusive vibe. You can order the puzzles via the registration page.—Amy
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 366), “OpenTable Arrangements”—Janie’s take
Do you know this app? OpenTable will help you with dining reservations all around the country, all around the world. “OpenTable Arrangements” [my italics…] is the perfect titular riff on this website’s name. Each of today’s five circled themers yields a kind of table (literal or figurative). The open part is achieved by way of the black square that separates one part of the table from the other. In essence, this means we get 10 additional themers—all those container words that allow for this clever kind of cruciverbal embedding. And literal word-play.
- PICNIC table comes to us by way of 17A. BIOPIC [“Ray” or “Gandhi,” e.g.] and 18A. NICHOLAS [Saint depicted on Christmas cards].
- TIMES table, via 23A. SHORT “I” [Sound in “kid” or “lit”] and 25A. MESHES [Interlocks]. As a lover of kid lit, really enjoyed that clue at 23A.
- POKER table, from 37A. UP-TEMPO [Like a brisk, lively song] and “KERPLOP!” [Sound of a large raindrop hitting the water]. While both clue/fill combos here are much to my liking, that latter makes for a particularly lively example—visually, aurally.
- BISTRO table, 50A. ALIBIS [Suspects’ excuses] and 53A. TROLLS [Blog harassers]. At Fiend?!? I’d be shocked, shocked, I tell you! ;-)
- WATER table, rising from 60A. BABA WAWA [Gilda Radner character on “SNL”] and 63A. TERROR [Paralyzing fear].
So—three tables with flat (enuf) tops and legs (of some sort, even trestle-style), one that’s a kind of chart, and one that is a “level” reading—specifically, the level below which the ground is saturated. Plus some fine containers: UP-TEMPO, “KERPLOP!,” BABA WAWA and BIOPIC among others. I’ll take it.
And there are many more PLEASURES to be found within. PLEASURES, for one, and SNOWSUITS (and thinking about how adorable toddlers tend look in those winter outfits). With a nod to Christianity, I also like the stacking of EPISTLES [Letters of the Apostles] above Saint NICHOLAS; and with an ecumenical nod to Islam, the EPISTLES/NICHOLAS-crossing appearance of ALLAH. [What a car engine may do when it lacks coolant] defines OVERHEAT. We would also have accepted [What a day in mid- or late-spring may do in an era of climate change]… With this thought in mind, it was especially refreshing to encounter the ARBOR [Shady resting place in a garden] combo. ODDEST and INNIES, drug BUSTS and the adjectival sense of the [Back-talking] SASSY pair, ANAHEIM clued in connection with Disneyland, and—now that the French Open is with us—the Williams sisters’ TENNIES all added to entertainment factor that was a big part of my solving experience. Even loved seeing the rhyming LEAVE and WEAVE in there since they’re there as grid opposites (the former in the SW, the latter in the NE).
I found the cluing especially strong today, by turns twisty/evocative/lively, not only in the examples already cited, but also with the likes of [Inspiring leader?], say, for AWE- (as in AWEsome and not GANDHI, e.g.); or [“It’s a shooting star!”] for “OOH!,“ because this is a sight that still has the capacity to take my breath away; and especially the trivia-rich [Watch brand that means “exquisite” in Japanese] for SEIKO. I never knew that. Did you know that? Even the calorie-rich [RED velvet cake] got my attention. [Purring shelter adoptees] for PET CATS creates such a specific scenario, doesn’t it? Ditto [Shirt-protecting lobster shack freebies] for BIBS. This is wonderful clue-writing indeed.
As you should be able to discern from my remarks, I feel that today’s puzz—which I also found to be a very smooth solve—has been particularly well-honed. How did it go for you? I’m gonna cut out now, but please feel free to register your thoughts. Will be back again with next week’s puzzle and til then, will keep solving—and hope you’ll be doing the same! Oh—will leave you with this final thought:
Mae Woodard Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Golly!” — Laura’s review
[17a: She voices Elastigirl in “The Incredibles”]: HOLLY HUNTER
[26a: She plays Archie Andrews’s mother on “Riverdale”]: MOLLY RINGWALD
[42a: She played Flo on “Alice”]: POLLY HOLLIDAY
[55a: She played Truvy Jones in “Steel Magnolias]: DOLLY PARTON
Well, kiss my grits! as Flo used to say. Those are pretty much the four extant actresses with -olly rhyming names and symmetrical enumeration. Elastigirl is certainly not Holly Hunter’s best or most famous role (props to The Piano), but The Incredibles 2 comes out in a couple weeks, so go cross-promotion. I love many things about Riverdale (it’s the dark, gritty TV reboot of Archie comics), especially the call-out to GenX with the casting of Molly Ringwald and Luke Perry as Archie’s parents. Dolly Parton’s best role was in 9 to 5 — but would you like to know what I think she should be best known for? The Imagination Library, which gives free books to children from birth to kindergarten, and recently mailed out its 100 millionth book. The Library of Congress just honored Dolly for her work in promoting literacy, particularly in the rural communities that she came from.
Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Theme is hyphenated adjectives that are edible thing + body part + -ED. 16a. [Klutzy], BUTTER-FINGERED. 30a. [Stupid], MUTTON-HEADED, really not a common one. 38a. [Eloquent], HONEY-TONGUED (silver-tongued is the same thing). 55a. [Cowardly], CHICKEN-LIVERED. 23d. [Drunk], PIE-EYED. A bit inconsistent since chicken liver is an actual thing, the liver of a chicken, but butter doesn’t have fingers, mutton doesn’t have a head (sheep do, but mutton is just meat), honey doesn’t have a tongue, and if your pie has eyes, I do not want a slice of it. I’m also deducting points for KNEE being in the grid and EDGE being clued as [Lip]—would feel cleaner without those body parts.
- Non-Tuesdayish fill includes IONA, ANTI-ART, HI-TECH (ugh, that spelling), awkward abbrev SOV, Latin DEO, British spelling OCHRES. (That ANTI-ART/IONA crossing might entrap some solvers.)
- 41d. [Person whose inner child has been released?], MOTHER. Sometimes. Many moms have children who they didn’t gestate.
- 44a. [Lincoln in-laws], TODDS. The Man Booker Prize winner Lincoln in the Bardo centers on the death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son, Willie. The Indie 500 crossword tournament this past weekend took place in the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, where Lincoln worshipped during the Civil War. The pastor there did both Willie’s and Abraham’s funeral services. An amazing and historic place to hold a crossword tournament!
3.5 stars. Here’s a stand-up set from Aparna Nancherla to play us out.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Long May You Run” – Derek’s write-up
Longevity is celebrated here today! I can celebrate my longevity, since I am creeping near 50! But at least one of these TV shows got to be older than me!
- 17A [Longest-running western (U.S., 1955-1975)] GUNSMOKE – I have only watched this in syndication.
- 27A [Longest-running home renovation show (U.S., 1979 – present)] THIS OLD HOUSE – I have watched this show, but not recently. Something about Norm Abrams building something (on this and The New Yankee Workshop) is relaxing …
- 37A [Longest-running variety show (Chile/U.S., 1962 – 2015)] SABADO GIGANTE – This means Giant Saturday, for you non-Spanish speakers. Touchy subject in recent weeks!!
- 45A [Longest-running news show (U.S., 1947 – present)] MEET THE PRESS – I knew this answer, for some reason. I watch Chuck Todd every now and then! (When there is no soccer on Sunday morning!)
- 61A [Longest-running sci-fi comedy (U.K., 1988-1999, 2009, 2012 – present)] RED DWARF – I believe you!
I have, as you may have surmised, never seen Sabado Gigante, and I am not sure I have even heard of it. But this clip from CBS celebrates the end of its 53 year run:
I feel like I learned something! A solid 4.5 stars.
A few more things:
- 16A [Mark somehow over the “n” in “Spinal Tap”] UMLAUT – So it is!
- 67A [Grand Slam breakfast offerer] DENNY’S – There isn’t a Denny’s within an hour of my house! Speaking of Grand Slam, Serena w0n’t be adding to her total in the French Open this year!
- 3D [Online portal launched on the same day as Windows 95] MSN – It is THAT old??
- 24D [“Coco” studio] PIXAR – Disney … ugh.
- 28D [“Anywhere” singer Rita] ORA – She will be crossword famous before too long!
- 44D [General who’s a bit chicken?] TSO – I don’t eat chicken much anymore, but I miss this dish!
- 50D [Singer/songwriter Mann] AIMEE – I remember her from ‘Til Tuesday all those years ago. She was pretty funny in an episode of Portlandia that I saw!
That’s all, folks!
Samuel A. Donaldson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
The theme here is revealed to 58-Across:
- 17A [Gym bar addition] WEIGHT PLATE – Is it called a “gym bar??”
- 24A [Fairness principle for bandwidth providers] NET NEUTRALITY – This has been in the news!
- 36A [Judicial fact finder] HEARING EXAMINER – It seems like I must have heard this before, but this seems rather unfamiliar. I am also not a lawyer.
- 48A [What a crossword clue typically starts with] CAPITAL LETTER
- 58A [Retail come-ones … and what the starts of the longest Across answers can be?] LOSS LEADERS
So we are talking weight loss, net loss, hearing loss, and capital loss. The accountant in me notices that there are two of these terms are finance related! Nice theme, tightly executed. I didn’t roll through this one in under four minutes like I usually do with these Tuesday puzzles, but it was still a fun one. Maybe I took my time! 4.3 stars for Sam from me.
A couple of more things:
- 14A [Blue Ribbon beer] PABST – This is a hipster beer these days? I don’t drink it.
- 41A [Mo. port on the Miss.] STL – It seems like the reference to a Cardinal baseball cap is more appropriate for this answer.
- 62A [“Live __”: Taco Bell slogan] MAS –
- 7D [Micronesian setting for the 10th season of “Survivor”] PALAU –
- 48D [Pink drink, for short] COSMO – A cosmopolitan has vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice. I have been mixing triple sec, vodka and cranberry juice for a while now. I had no idea! Evidently I wasn’t the first to think of this drink! I will add a splash of lime juice next time!
Everyone have a great week!