Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 384), “Getting in Touch with One’s Masculine Side”—Ade’s take
Happy Tuesday, everybody! I hope you’re all doing well and that you’re enjoying your day. It’s fun with anagrams for this grid, as each of the four theme entries are clued as fictional names of men, Of course, what there are are anagrams of actual female celebrities. However, I am so hoping that a person named Sal Calamari actually exists in this world! At the very least, it should be the name of an Italian restaurant: Sal Calamari’s!
- MARIA CALLAS (17A: [SAL CALAMARI, or more famously…])
- MARGARET CHO (56A: [GARETH MACRO, or more famously…])
- SOPHIA LOREN (10D: [HANS LOOPIER, or more famously])
- CAMERON DIAZ (22D: [CONRAD MAIZE, or more famously…])
Usually, when you see the clues being capitalized, you’re probably dealing with anagrams — as was the case with today’s grid — so getting the theme entries were a breeze. What wasn’t as much of a breeze was GERMS, as I mistook Purell for Prell and was thinking along the lines of shampoo/scalp (39A: [Purell targets]).
As I’m typing this, I have a music player open and the song that’s playing is “Tennessee,” or, as far as we’re concerned, TENN, by Arrested Development — the 80s-90s music band, not members of the popular comedy series (33D: [Dollywood’s st.]). I kid you not! OK, let’s see if there’s any other music-related activity in this grid now…well, we have SKA as well (10A: [Reggae’s cousin]). Obviously, there’s Maria Callas as well. Unfortunately, STU was not clued as the Disco-loving character on The Simpsons nor as one of the original members of The Beatles (40D: [Trio after R]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DURAN (29A: [Panamanian boxing great Roberto]) – The man nicknamed “Hands of Stone” due to his prodigious punching power for his size, Roberto Durán won championships in four different weight classes (lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight) in a career spanning five decades, from 1968 until 2001. Probably the most famous fight Durán was involved in was a Nov. 1980 bout against Sugar Ray Leonard, a match widely remembered for Durán uttering “No más!” during the eighth round, ending the match and giving Leonard the victory and the welterweight title. What usually is lost about the Leonard-Durán rivalry is that Durán had defeated Sugar Ray a few months earlier to initially win the title from Leonard.
Thank you very much for your time, everyone! Have a great rest of your Tuesday and, as always, keep solving!
Natan Last, Andy Kravis & the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s that time again! Natan and Andy teach a crossword class for a Jewish senior center in New York, and the students and teachers collaborate to make an NYT-caliber puzzle. The theme here is explained by 49a. [2016 Best Picture nominee … or a hint to the circled letters in 20-, 25- and 43-Across], HIDDEN FIGURES. The circled letters in E PLURIBUS UNUM, SECURITY BLANKET, and “NO SURPRISE THERE“ spell out PRISM, CUBE, and SPHERE, all solid geometric figures. Ties in nicely with the math focus of the movie, too.
It’s a nice touch for the J.A.S.A. class’s puzzle to have 28d. [Passover brisket seasoning], KOSHER SALT. I’m ignorant of whether Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur has a food tradition that lends itself to a KOSHER SALT clue, but those holidays are closer to this time of year than Pesach is.
- 10d. [Mock Spanish expression of disapproval], NO BUENO. Hey! You know what else is mock Spanish? “No problemo.” The Spanish word is el problema.
- 8d. [Website with a lot of home pages?], AIRBNB. Cute clue!
- 22d. [Footwear for a dandy], SPATS. I just learned that this is a shortening of the original spatterdashes. Mind blown.
- 42d. [“Ta-ta!”], CHEERIO. Bet you can’t eat just one.
- 49d. [It may wind up at the side of a house], HOSE. As in a garden hose that’s wound up/coiled next to the house, not just something that ends up beside the house. Cute.
I feel like SPAHN and NEAP are on the hard side for newbies, but the theme is straightforward since you don’t even need to see what those circled letters spell out to finish the crossword. Four stars from me.
Richard Crowe’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
I don’t see Richard Crowe’s name in our database, so could this be a debut? If so, congratulations!
17A: GUILTY AS CHARGED [Apt description for a credit card thief?]
33A: REPEAT OFFENDERS [Apt designation for a team of plagiarists?]
51A: REASONABLE DOUBT [Apt defense for a heretic on trial?]
I liked these themers and even chuckled a bit at the first one. They’re tied together nicely enough as reimaginations of legalese that I found it satisfying. The puzzle is unfortunately timed considering the Questions of Law that we’ve been facing as a nation lately, but it was otherwise enjoyable to solve. I especially enjoyed all the 8 letter fill in the grid (including the lovely POIGNANT VIGNETTE symmetry as well as TAXFRAUD EXPONENT REDCROSS and many others), and I appreciated seeing SELMA featured for its role in civil rights history. Bonus points for featuring + and – IONs from Chemistry class!
On the other hand, I could see people getting stuck at the RONDO CANTOS ORONO crossings, especially with MANNERED being so oddly clued [Written in an affected way] in that section – maybe it’s a specific definition of having manners that I don’t get? NRC TOGS ATTEN LON might also irk some folks. Also, [Gorilla] = GOON? That struck me while solving as charged a definition as “thug” might be, so I might have reclued that one.
#includemorewomen: [Abby’s twin sister] ANN (which I had no clue referred to Ann Landers and Dear Abby until I just Googled “Ann Abby”) is the only woman in the grid aside from the clued (Valerie) Simpson, compared to MALE ALEX DRE SUE(!) MAYS ASHFORD LON and the clued Odin, Thor, and Johnny Cash for the men. Even with the same grid, ALEX and SUE could have easily been clued with respect to women to get a little more representative balance.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Getting Shift-E” – Derek’s write-up
I found this one slightly tougher than usual for a Jonesin’. I was exhausted when I solved this, so that is my excuse this time! The theme involves moving an E in a four-letter word from the last spot to the front, then using that new word in a phrase that has the original word. Silliness ensues:
- 17A [Animal that’s a source of Musk?] ELON WOLF (lone wolf)
- 21A [Handler of meteorology?] WEATHER EVAN (weather vane) – As in Evan Handler, the actor from Sex and the City and Californication.
- 40A [Clapton-inspired New Orleans dish?] RED BEANS AND ERIC (red beans and rice) – I am hungry for the original phrase, not the new one!
- 57A [British prep school offering singing lessons?] ETON OF VOICE (tone of voice)
- 64A [Advice to “Star Wars” fans?] STAY EWOK (stay woke)
These phrases make absolutely no sense! Which is why I was smiling the whole time I was solving this puzzle! And that, my friends, is what it is all about! A solid 4.5 stars from me today!
Some other points:
- 5A [Show whose 50th season would premiere in 2024] SNL – This will be huge. I will clear my schedule for late September 2024! Boy, you wonder who will be running for president then!
- 25A [“I Am America (And __ You!)” (2007 Stephen Colvert book)] SO CAN – Has it been over ten years since this book I never read came out??
- 33A [Falco of two HBO series] EDIE – From The Sopranos and … Oz! Nurse Jackie is on Showtime.
- 51A [“No Logo” author Naomi] KLEIN – The pop culture obscurity of the week is here. What even is this??
- 63A [Wheat-free soy sauce] TAMARI – Another food I have tried in recent months. Very good!
- 66A [Hot dish stand] TRIVET – We used these a lot when I was younger. I don’t think we even own one. Eating habits are certainly different these days.
- 22D [Scientist Albert who studied LSD] HOFMANN – Certainly an odd spelling of this name, and what a claim to fame! Not pop culture, but definitely obscure!
- 28D [Shakespeare play split into two parts] HENRY IV – I don’t know Shakespeare as well as I should. (That will be my downfall if I ever make it to Jeopardy!) I am not even familiar with this play!
- 54D [Loser to Truman and FDR] DEWEY – I wonder how people reacted to this back in the 40s. People were crying when Hillary Clinton lost; I wonder if his loss evoked similar reactions. It was a close enough race to prompt that famous headline saying he won!
Another Jonesin’ is coming next week!
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Jammed through this one pretty quickly. I didn’t have any “loose ends!” That was bad. The theme relates to sewing, as the revealer at 53D confirms:
- 17A [How something precarious may hang] BY A THREAD
- 29A [How a good comedian leaves the audience?] IN STITCHES
- 47A [Difficult time] ROUGH PATCH
- 64A [Care] GIVE A DARN
- 53D [Clinched, and a hint to the four longest answers] SEWN UP
Nice and simple. And totally enjoyable. Again no “loose ends,” or even any “frayed edges!” Good speed-solving test, at least for me. One of these weeks, I may try to solve one of these Tuesday puzzle with just the downs only. I have done some Monday puzzles that way; these might not be too bad. Perhaps next week? A solid 4.4 stars for Bruce’s fine Tuesday puzzle this week.
A few high points:
- 9A [Scam using spam, say] PHISH – Also a rock band! Are they still around?
- 37A [Marisa of “My Cousin Vinny”] TOMEI – She is Aunt May in the new Spider-Man reboot; here’s hoping we can reference something other than this movie (although she won the Oscar for her performance in this) for this crossword famous actress.
- 55A [Eats a little] HAS SOME – This seems awkward, but the wording is correct. It looks odd by itself I guess.
- 8D [Words of confession] I ADMIT IT – A great phrase here. People say this all the time. Very few NYT hits for this one. Nicely done!
- 11D [“Let me handle it”] I GOT THIS – People use this phrase A LOT. And if you know someone that says this a lot, it may mean that they have issues asking for help!
- 40D [Import-export imbalance] TRADE GAP – This is timely, with the tariff wars going on. Does this affect your Ebay shopping obsessions?
- 49D [Baked potato topping paired with sour cream] CHIVES – Getting hungry again …
- 52D [Some big box stores] K-MARTS – Do these still exist?? There used to be quite a few of these around where I live (At least 4-6 of them), but they are now all gone. This clue/entry is becoming obsolete!
That is all!
I feel like SPAHN and NEAP are on the hard side for newbies…
FWIW, of the people’s names in the puzzle, here’s my S.W.A.G. on how they’d rank in familiarity among the general public:
1. Bob DYLAN
2. IGOR Stravinsky
3. Warren SPAHN
4. SKYLAR Astin
5. Mahershala ALI
Where YOSHI would rank is hard to guess. It’s probably extremely high for a certain demographic, and extremely low outside it — maybe one reason we don’t see a lot of gaming names in crosswords except the most popular (e.g., Mario, PAC-Man, Pikachu).
SPAHN was one of the dominant players in baseball from the ’40s through ’60s, and his record for most wins ever by a lefty pitcher might not be broken, the way the game is changing.
4. SKYLAR Astin
5. Mahershala ALI
Astin had leading roles in “Pitch Perfect” films that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. Ali’s “Moonlight” grossed under $30 mil. Obviously that’s not all they’ve done, or a measure of their prominence in the business, but among the works they’re best known for, the general public may have a familiarity with them different than you think.
I can’t account for the tastes of the general public — they’re not the same as mine. But that’s why it was a S.W.A.G.
Isn’t Mahershala Ali actually *in* Hidden Figures? I think he’s the husband of one of the main characters. I’m very surprised Will passed up the opportunity for the cross-reference.
Yes, Ethan, he’s the charming suitor and then (spoiler!) husband of the central character. Also, Ali won the frickin’ Oscar for his role in that Best Picture, “Moonlight.” An Oscar win in a Best Picture adds fame beyond what the box office would suggest.
Good one. I like your order. I don’t know that much about baseball over the years, but Spahn had the best pick-off move for a runner at first that I have ever seen.
NYT: I thought this was going to be a car theme when I unearthed PRISM and CUBE. I loved how it turned out, however. I haven’t seen the movie, but the book was wonderful. Those women were real heroes.
Spatterdashes! Who knew? That’s great. Will they come back into fashion, someday?
Very clever puzzle, with lots of good entries and clues. I would love to take that class…
I don’t know if it is considered mock Spanish or not, but mano y mano in the sports world as well as probably every where else means “man to man.” Few realize it is “hand to hand.”
My guess is that Igor Stravinsky would be farther down (perhaps at the bottom) the list in a cross section of the public at large. Warren Spahn, who is from Buffalo, is very well known among baseball fans.
re MANNERED in today’s WSJ –FYI, one of the definitions is “having an artificial or stilted character.” Additional fun fact, one of the “Recent Examples on the Web” on the m-w site is by cryptic crossword virtuoso Joshua Kosman (in his day job as a music critic). https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mannered