Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 374), “Let’s Go With the Flow”—Ade’s take
Hello once again, crossword lovers! Holy smokes, tomorrow marks the start of August already! Can the time slow down just a little bit, please?!?!
There’s no slowing down here as it pertains to solving fun puzzles, and today’s edition takes us on a few trips on bodies of water: Each set of circled letters all form “L” shapes and the letters inside of them, when combined, create names of actual geographical rivers. We confirm what’s going on with those circles with the reveal of A BEND IN THE RIVER, which bisects the grid going across (42A: [Novel by V.S. Naipaul that inspired this puzzle’s theme)]).
- CONGA (14A: [Follow-the-leader line dance]) + AGO (4D: [Previously]) = CONGO
- NICE (6D: [Small iPod]) + ILER (15A: [Robert of “The Sopranos”]) = NILE
- THAI (10A: [“Talk of the town” in Bangkok]) + A MESS (12D: [Make _____ of (bungle)]) = THAMES
- GANG (30D: [Turf war mob]) + AGES (46A: [Mellows, as cheese]) = GANGES
- THUDS (52D: [Muffled sounds of impact]) + SONS 73A: [Beau and Jeff, to Lloyd]) = HUDSON
- SEE (67D: [Observe]) + EINE (71A: [Start of a Mozart title]) = SEINE
- LAMAZE (57A: [Class that specializes in labor issues?]) + ZONES (59D: [Regions]) = AMAZON
Placing in SKOAL to start my solving was not hard, but what I ended up thinking about afterward, in relation to the entry, had me in knots somewhat at that moment (1A: [Scandinavian cheers]). So this word, with this spelling, is used as a greeting, though “skoll” (or “skol”), according to Viking legend, was the chant that Vikings would say to their partners in battle as they hoped to defeat their opponents in battle and, after victory, drink merrily from the skulls of the vanquished (dead) opponents. No matter how many times its used as a friendly greeting, you won’t catch me saying that since I’ll be battling my mind to not develop images of beheadings by battle axes and drinking grog from skulls. Lovely!!
Though I had never heard of the book in question in the reveal, the first two rivers that appeared when solving (Congo, Ganges) was a dead giveaway as to what was happening, and I just ended up taking a guess at the book’s title. (Thank goodness that guess was correct and did not hold me up for any amount of time when solving.) The paralleling entries of ZEN GARDEN (35D: [Calming outdoor locale where one may meditate]) and HIT A NERVE was pretty appealing to the eye…and definitely did not hit a nerve (11D: [Touched on something sensitive, so to speak]). What probably did hit a nerve is the much-talked about crosswordese entry of NLER, with the clue referring to two National League teams (Major League Baseball), the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres (64D: [Pirate or Padre, for short]). So how can we take something that might be a spot of bother for crossword solvers and turn it into something educational and, hopefully, enlightening? Here’s how…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KROC (39A: [Fast food mogul Ray ____]) – Did you that the main reason the San Diego Padres still reside in Southern California to this day is because of the late McDonald’s magnate? Four years after the Padres became the latest expansion team in Major League Baseball in 1969, their original owner found himself strapped for cash and, during that 1973 season, it was widely speculated that the team would relocate to Washington D.C. at the end of the year. In stepped Kroc, who heard about the team’s financial struggles (while on his yacht in Florida) and bought the team for $12 million in January 1974. Kroc owned the team from that point until his passing in January of 1984. In that subsequent 1984 season, the Padres ended up winning their first-ever National League pennant and made their maiden appearance in the World Series, and the team wore a patch on their jerseys with the initials “RAK” in Kroc’s honor all season long.
Bonus “haha” moment: If you do need a laugh, here’s something to chew on that’s related to the above entry. After Kroc initially told his wife, Joan, that he wanted to buy the San Diego Padres, she reportedly responded to Ray by saying, “Why would you want to buy a monastery?”
Thank you so very much for your time today, and I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your Tuesday. And as always, keep solving!! Oh, and SKOAL!!!
David Woolf’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme is famous people whose names are three initials plus a surname, and the revealer relates to the periods that follow those initials. 55a. [Indication of more to come … or what 17-, 28- and 43-Across all contain] clues DOT DOT DOT, and the other themers are:
- 17a. [Contemporary of Booker T. Washington], W.E.B. DU BOIS.
- 28a. [Best-selling author who invented multiple languages], J.R.R. TOLKIEN.
- 43a. [Classic toy store founder], F.A.O. SCHWARZ.
Simple enough theme for a Tuesday puzzle.
- 25a. [“Nonsense!”], BOSH. Can’t help thinking that the 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh is more familiar to more Americans than the common noun BOSH. If you like words you can use to deride foolishness, though, check out this Merriam-Webster post about bunkum, bosh, and friends.
- 1d. [One visited by a prospective groom], JEWELER. Or a prospective bride. Did you see this adorable story a couple months ago? Two women went to the zoo with friends, each planning to surprise the other with a proposal and engagement ring! The dual proposal shows just how in sync the two are.
- 5a. [Apply, as plaster], DAUB / 5d. [Little amounts of cream], DABS. The two words are not etymologically related, in case you (like me) wondered.
- 41d. [Revolutionary War foe], REDCOAT / 39a. [Professionals who put on coats for work], PAINTERS. Too much coat action for a crossing, if you ask me.
- 28d. [Hybrid music genre with African-American roots], JAZZ-HOP. No idea what this sounds like.
- 9a. [Rapper Nicki ___], MINAJ. I don’t know her latest singles, but she’s got a verse on this Migos track, “MotorSport” (as does Cardi B). Here’s a no-profanity version.
There are a few issues with the fill. Not the first time we’ve seen ITEM ONE in a puzzle in recent weeks, is it? And ODESA and ENO and ANYA are awfully hard for a Tuesday. Overall, decent puzzle. 3.7 stars from me.
Ross Trudeau’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
Have you ever played Ticket to Ride? Today, Ross Trudeau gives us the crossword version of that game, as he deals us in for a trip across the country:
17a: DALLAS ACES [World’s first professional bridge team] – This is probably the weakest / less familiar theme entry for me. Also, how do you only have one competitive team, unless you’re playing against yourselves?
23a: MONTEREY JACKS [Semihard cheeses] I’ve never heard this pluralized, but it fits the clue phrasing.
34a: LOS ANGELES KINGS [2014 Stanley Cup champions] – Go local sports team!
44a: JAMAICA QUEENS [Location of JFK airport]
55a: PLACE CARDS [Wedding table indicators, or a hint to 17-, 23-, 34- and 44-Across]
There is so much I like about this theme and Trudeau’s execution of it:
- The revealer is a wonderful and quite literal interpretation of the theme entries: PLACE and then CARDS. I wonder which came first: the idea of PLACE CARDS as a revealer or the realization that LOS ANGELES KINGS combined a location with a playing card. I’m so curious about the constructor’s theme development process here!
- The places are all recognizable and in the same country. Also, all the cards referenced are the highest in the deck. That kind of consistency is what I love to see in theme sets.
- The themers and revealer make up a symmetrical set of theme entries. What luck! Just like organizing actual PLACE CARDS at a wedding can be a nightmare (trust me), I imagine that putting this puzzle together was also tough until the perfect set of theme entries came together. Bravo!
My only small quibble with the fill is that I almost Naticked at PDA / DEKE. I couldn’t understand the too-cute clue for PDA (making out on the bus?) and don’t know hockey well enough to have ever heard of DEKE. Otherwise, the grid is pretty clean, which is extra impressive considering that it’s allllmost a pangram! The grid contains every letter but F, which must have driven the constructor crazy.
#includemorewomen: There sadly aren’t too many women represented in this puzzle, which is the only other ding I’d have against it. We have old-timey DEBS and more modern BJORK. Björk is an Icelandic singer, songwriter, and fashion icon who has been mainstay throughout most of her lifetime. One amazing story from her Wikipedia page involves how big she was early on in her life thanks, in part, to how small her country is: “After a school recital in which Björk sang Tina Charles’ 1976 hit “I Love to Love”, her teachers sent a recording of her singing the song to the RÚV radio station – then, Iceland’s only radio station. The recording was nationally broadcast and, after hearing it, a representative of the Fálkinn record label offered Björk a recording contract. Her self-titled début, Björk, was recorded and released in Iceland in December 1977 when she was 11 years old.” Wow!
PS: Is the WSJ telling me something? Between yesterday’s themer STRESS EATS and today’s inclusion of OVEREATER, I think the universe is telling me to put down these cookies. :D
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Make Room” – Derek’s write-up
I wasn’t sure what the theme was here for a minute, but then 7D explains what is going on. With the design of the grid, I found that I solved heading down, and I didn’t necessarily get to the 7D clue until maybe just past halfway through the grid, so even though it is smack in the middle, it still made for a nice “a-ha!” moment. Which is always good. Maybe I shouldn’t solve so fast! The themers:
- 3D [Xenon, e.g.] NOBLE GAS
- 10D [She played one of the “Golden Girls”] ESTELLE GETTY
- 21D [Purchases designed to last a long time] DURABLE GOODS
- 35D [Jim Carrey title role, with “The”] CABLE GUY
- 7D [Take advantage of room, or demonstrate what four themed Down answers do?] STRETCH YOUR LEGS
Hopefully it is clear that there are LEGs hidden in those four theme answers, and they are “stretching” downwards. 74 words in this one, with lots of typical Matt fill. Yes, there are a couple of obscure refs in this one, which of course I will try to highlight. 4.2 stars this week.
- 15A [Stella __ (Belgian beer)] ARTOIS – They have funny commercials. I think I have had this, maybe, once. This calls for some research … for the sake of puzzling!
- 38A [Bluegrass artist Krauss] ALISON – According to this page, as of this writing she has won more Grammys than any other female artist in history. Fun fact!
- 52A [Singer-songwriter Rita with the middle name Sahatçiu] ORA – She is now, in my opinion, crossword-famous! Although I am missing, just a little, clues like [Man __ mouse]!
- 55A [Steve of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2] AGEE – Who is this you ask in that movie? Gef, evidently. I’ve slept since I saw it last. Here is a pic of that character:
- 2D [Part-time Arizona resident, perhaps] SNOW BIRD – My dream life …
- 46D [“Westworld” character __ Hughes] ELSIE – This is a tad fresher in my mind. Portrayed by actress Shannon Woodward, spoiler alert, she may not be back for Season 3!
That’s it for this week’s Jonesin’!
David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We have a 16×15 grid this week, as well as left to right symmetry, which I would surmise does not appear as often in a Monday or Tuesday easier puzzle. Fun times! And a cute theme to boot, with the revealer in the middle.
- 21A [LeBron’s sport] BASKETBALL
- 32A [Insect used in genetic research] FRUIT FLY
- 56A [Glazed morning snack] DOUGHNUT
- 66A [Form a queue] LINE UP
- 42A [Primary source of income … and words that can precede the two parts, respectively, of the answers to starred clues] BREAD AND BUTTER
What’s YOUR “bread and butter?” I am hoping at some point it will be retirement income! 15 years at most to go, 13 at least. Not long! I thought this was pretty clever, finding four phrases that worked well with this theme idea. As an example, you can have a bread basket and there are Butterball turkeys! Then you have breadfruit (it’s a tree), butterfly, bread dough, butternut, bread line (which we may see soon in this country!) and butter up. Well done. 4.3 stars for this variant grid.
More good stuff:
- 1A [Muslim veil] HIJAB – I get this confused with the burqa, which covers the face.
- 17A [Eclipse shadow] UMBRA – Missed the eclipse on the other side of the world this past week, but there is evidently another one in December! In Qatar …
- 26D [Immortality] ETERNAL LIFE – I could live forever doing puzzles!
- 28D [Tick-borne illness named for a Connecticut town] LYME DISEASE – These two clues in symmetrical places seem very opposite!
- 57D [Italian Salami city] GENOA – A notable answer in this past weekend’s Stumper. I watched Joon Pahk, one of the best solvers I know, try to solve it with just the Downs, and it was oddly satisfying watching him stumble like I do! I hope he continues to do this; I will try and watch live next time!
Have a great week everyone!