I hope you’re watching Erik Agard’s Jeopardy! appearances. Alex Trebek has gone off the deep end, threatening Erik with a pie in the face! You can watch that video clip here. Tuesday is Erik’s third day on the show.—Amy
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 386), “Today is October 23rd, aka…”—Ade’s take
Stop the presses, everybody! Tuesday, Oct. 23, is National Boston Cream Pie Day!!! It’s something I had absolutely no idea about until doing Liz’s wonderful puzzle, a grid in which the first word in the first four theme entries can be combined to “create” the phrase that pays homage to the delectable treat. There’s a fifth theme entry, YUM, in which its clue alerts us to the “celebration” going on today (66A: [Reaction to a “national” October 23rd observance depicted by the starts of the starred answers])!
- BOSTON LEGAL (17A: [*Spin-off of ABC’s “The Practice” starring William Shatner as Denny Crane])
- CREAM PUFF (27A: [*Timid type])
- PIE CHARTS (49A: [*PowerPoint graphics])
- DAY-OLD BREAD (63A: [*Main ingredient in a recipe for croutons])
Outside of the theme, which is wonderful, there’s some great cluing and fill, with the clue/entry combination involving SONOGRAM being sneakily good (21A: [Early baby picture]). There there’s the very fresh phrase of ME TIME, something I need to take more of so I don’t burn out while traveling for work constantly for the next few months (43A: [Period of self care]). Also loving the nod to our Middle East brothers and sisters, with both IRANI (9D: [Tehran resident]) and FARSI in the grid (30D: [Persian language]). Definitely can tell our constructor has New York ties, given the cluing to LEN, a sportscaster I grew up watching on the NBC affiliate in New York City (64D: [Sportscaster Berman]). If I’m correct, Berman now talks politics on a radio station in the NYC area now.
There were a few opportunities in this grid to turn entries and give it a sports framing, starting with (Mark) DUPER, the former NFL wide receiver who was one half of the Miami Dolphins’ prolific pass-catching duo of the 1980s and early 1990s dubbed “The Marks Brothers,” joining fellow receiver and teammate Mark Clayton to catch numerous passes from Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino (32D: [Super-_____]). Then there’s SPUD, which immediately made think of former NBA player Anthony “Spud” Webb, the 5-foot-7 guard who shocked the basketball world when he won the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest (42A: [Starchy veggie]). But another entry has won out today, and I think you’ll like it…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOON (2D: [Winged diver]) – For those who are fans of Major League Soccer, the premier soccer league in the United States, you will know that the newest franchise in the league, Minnesota United FC, features a LOON, the state bird of Minnesota, in its shield/logo. This particular loon has 11 feathers, one for each player on a soccer field. Pretty slick, if you ask me! Also, like most current (and former) professional sports teams in the state of Minnesota, the North Star is featured.
Thank you very much for your time, everyone! Have a great rest of your Tuesday and, as always, keep solving!
Kathy Wienberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Cute theme: Four unrelated names and phrases all end with a sports trophy “cup” name, and the business is all held together by 60a. ATHLETIC CUP, [Protective sportswear … or a hint to the ends of 17-, 24-, 36- and 51-Across].
- 17a. [Kid-lit character who travels via envelope], FLAT STANLEY.
- 24a. [Thelma’s portrayer in “Thelma & Louise”], GEENA DAVIS. Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which is aimed at increasing girls’ and women’s representation in entertainment so that kids grow up seeing more balance.
- 36a. [Co-star of “Stranger Things”], WINONA RYDER.
- 51a. [“I can’t believe we both know him”], “SMALL WORLD.”
The Stanley Cup goes to the NHL champions. The Davis Cup is a tennis thing, international competition. The Ryder Cup is golf, the U.S. versus Europe (I guess the Asian, African, South American, Canadian, and Oceanian players are left out). And the World Cup is the quadrennial soccer competition—the U.S. Women’s National Team qualified for the 2019 tournament.
For all the times BRA has been in crosswords written by men, at last we have an ATHLETIC CUP for the yarbles in a puzzle by a woman.
Four more things:
- 41a. [U.S. city connected to the outside only by airplane, boat and sled], NOME. Interesting trivia, that. Now I want to see if a GPS app can find me a driving route. … Google Maps cannot do it.
- 56a. [Western ravines], COULEES. Tough fill. I tried ARROYOS first.
- 53d. [Humble reply to “Great job, folks!”], “WE TRY.” Oof, this one feels contrived to me.
- 47d. [Gulf War allies], SAUDIS. Awkward timing to have them in the puzzle, on the heels of the Jamal Khashoggi killing.
Four stars from me.
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Erik’s write-up
Sources suggest that “Gabriel Stone” is really editor Mike Shenk, though my brain is too fried at the moment to figure out what this pseudonym is an anagram of.
The theme of this puzzle is entities that, like someone who’s [justified in pressing a suit], HAVE A CASE:
- 17a. [Performer who takes a bow?] = VIOLINIST (who has a violin case)
- 21a. [One nettled by you and I?] = GRAMMARIAN (two questions about this one are currently stymieing me: are we saying a grammarian is nettled by “you and I”? and what case does a grammarian have, or, like, aren’t there a bunch?)
- 26a. [It might bear down] = PILLOW (pillowcase)
- 40a. [They make you look better] = GLASSES (glasses case)
- 49a. [Place devoted to good works?] = MUSEUM (…display case? this one feels leapy to me)
- 56a. [Port authority?] = WINE DEALER (cases of wine)
I liked how all the theme answers were presented with tricky wordplay clues – a little touch of Thursdayish mindbendery, without making the puzzle itself too hard. Fill-wise, NAME IT, POP ART, and MIDTERM holding together the center section (or the “middle corner,” as I heard someone call it this weekend) are fun.
Answers that could be tough for beginner solvers (as always, based exclusively on stuff I’d never heard of as a beginner solver): EDSEL/VETTE/DESOTO, ELL, EBAN, WALPOLE, SAHIB.
Signing off – here’s your link to The Inkubator, in case you missed it. You’re not going to want to miss out on those puzzles!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “I’m Certain” – Derek’s write-up
I don’t know why my timer doesn’t always turn on for only these Jonesin’ puzzles! I get to solving it, and I am usually trying to zip through to keep in tournament form, and then I am all done and the timer says 0:00! I would estimate this took around 5 minutes, but today that is purely a guess. The title is “I’m Certain”, and the flavortext states “some hidden veracity”. These phrases all have, in the circled letters, the word TRUTH:
- 17A [Get louder] TURN UP THE VOLUME
- 29A [Fountain reward of myth] ETERNAL YOUTH
- 43A [Hit the mother lode] STRUCK IT RICH – Took me a second to realize this clue is in the past tense!
- 56A [Buddy cop show of the 1970s] STARSKY AND HUTCH – By far the best find in the list!
Another fun puzzle. Again, I marvel at the brainstorm process required here. How many more phrases can you think of that have this quality? I am too tired to think of that now, but I applaud once again Matt’s construction skills. A solid 4.4 stars from me today.
Some more tidbits:
- 15A [Yoko who turned 85 in 2018] ONO – Worded as a gimme, but an amazing fact. I didn’t know she was this old!
- 22A [“Right Now (Na Na Na)” rapper] AKON – You know this song. Or maybe you don’t!
- 38A [Jim Acosta’s network] CNN – Jim Acosta is regularly “accosted” at Trump rallies that he is covering, with the president making him a symbol of the “fake news”. Sadly this is pretty much the only way I know who this is!
- 52A [Bread served with aloo gobi] NAAN – I shall try some Indian food soon; perhaps today!
- 2D [Aboriginal name for Australia’s Ayers Rock] ULURU – I don’t think I knew this, and this may be slightly tough for a Tuesday, but the crossings are pretty easy.
- 8D [Number of times the Milwaukee Brewers have appeared in the World Series] ONE – And it is STILL one. The Dodgers defeated the Brewers on Saturday in Game 7 of the NLCS, and the World Series starts tonight in Boston. I am sure I will be fast asleep before Game 1 is over!
- 31D [“Everybody gets a car!” impresario] OPRAH – Was Oprah just described as an “impresario”, a word usually reserved in crosswords for Sol Hurok??
Another Jonesin’ is coming next week, I’m pretty sure!
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I am usually writing about how these crosswords with food related terms make me hungry. I don’t eat steak much anymore, but this puzzle certainly had my mouth watering!
- 18A [Controversial coal-extraction method] STRIP MINING
- 24A [Dues-paying participant] CLUB MEMBER
- 40A [Broadside accidents] T-BONE COLLISIONS
- 50A [Format for some tournaments] ROUND ROBIN
- 61A [Meal suggested by the starts of four long answers] STEAK DINNER
So we clearly are talking steaks here: strip steak, club steak, t-bone steak, and round steak. I prefer rib-eye, but that likely wouldn’t work great here! I may make a special trip for one if any special occasions pop up! Are you getting hungry as well? Great puzzle by my Facebook friend Mark; 4.2 stars today.
A few more things:
- 15A [“The Mammoth Hunters” author Jean] AUEL – This series has long been one of my wife’s favorites. She was supposed to write another book, but I don’t know if she ever did, and I am not looking it up right this second!
- 57A [“__ y Plata”: Montana motto] ORO – Can a state motto be crossword famous? If so, this one definitely is!
- 60A [Opal of the comics, to Earl Pickles] WIFE – I totally spaced on this, even though I enjoy the Pickles strip in the paper. Yes, that is an error mark in the grid!
- 3D [College sports channel] ESPN U – I don’t watch this channel much, unless it is simulcasting one of the many radio shows that ESPN has. They show tons of football and basketball, but that is mostly it.
- 11D [Common people] HOI POLLOI – Not too common a term, but a great entry.
- 13D [Eldest of the “Little Women”] MEG – I have never read this book! Should I try now?
- 53D [Never, in Nogales] NUNCA – This is tough. I know a fair amount of Spanish, but this is a new word to me. I will learn Español one of these days!
- 55D [Bluffed-out words, perhaps] I FOLD – The crosser for the Pickles referenced entry that I also blanked on. I don’t play poker very often!
Again the World Series starts today. It might be chilly tonight in Boston!