Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 389), “Crazy Quintet”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! Hope all is well with you and that you’re enjoying the crisp, cool fall weather. Today’s crossword is more fun with anagrams, as the first five letters of three of the theme entries all happen to be anagrams of the word “point.” Those three different “point” arrangements make the reveal, THREE POINT TURN, a very clever entry (53A: [K-shaped driving maneuver…and an alternate puzzle title (see the beginnings of the starred answers)])
- PINTO BEAN CHILI (16A: [*Hearty, fiber-rich meal in a bowl]
- PONTIAC FIREBIRD (27A: [*Muscle car designed to compete with the Ford Mustang])
- NO TIPPING POLICY (42A: [*Restaurant protocol where gratuities are included in the meal price])
Though I am sure the additional note in the “three-point turn” clue of seeing the beginning of the starred answers was not really necessary, it is nice to have that in there sometimes during an easy, breezy solve, just to appreciate the construction and cleverness of the grid. Something tells me that I had heard, at one point in my life, that a bunch of grapes is called a CLUSTER, but I can’t say that I’ve heard that many times before coming across it today (41D: [Bunch of grapes]). There are a couple of nods to actresses in the grid with DINAS (19A: [Actresses Merrill and Meyer]) and RIVERA (31A: [Dancer/singer/actress Chita]). Only real hang-up in the grid was, surprisingly, GAIN ON, when I initially thought it was one word and was trying to figure out what the first letter was when having the rest of the letters filled in (39A: [Begin to catch up with]). Actually, I loved seeing CADRES, as I just love the word “cadre” (18D: [Core military groups]). OK, time to make the turn for home…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CAMP (5A: [Word with boot or summer]) – For those of you who love/hate the modern game of American football, you may have late 19th-century Yale football player and head coach Walter Camp to thank/blame more than anyone for those feelings. Regarded as the “Father of American Football,” Camp is credited, among other things, with inventing a number of elements to the game of football that are now tried and true staples, including the line of scrimmage, the snap back from the center to the quarterback, the system of downs and the two-point “safety” rule.
Thank you very much for your time, everybody! Have a great rest of your Tuesday and, as always, keep solving!
John Ciolfi’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Did this puzzle run slow for all of you, or was I just inordinately distracted? Kept typing wrong letters, but still surprised to see a time over 5 minutes rather than low 4s. The theme isn’t, as I first thought, “insert an E to lengthen the preceding vowel.” No, it’s “add -ES to a familiar phrase,” the theme revealer tells us: 69a. [Mountain chain about 5,000 miles long … or a hint to 17-, 25-, 31-, 44-, 50- and 61-Across], ANDES (read as “and ES”). Here are the themers:
- 17a. [Representatives Sessions (R-TX) and Aguilar (D-CA), for instance?], HOUSE PETES. House pet +ES. Note that Pete Sessions just lost his reelection campaign to civil rights attorney Colin Allred. Pete Aguilar won his race and will continue to serve in the House next year.
- 25a. [Why many people visit Napa?], FOR THE WINES. “For the win” is a contemporary slangy thing, which you may have seen abbreviated as FTW. I think most people over 40 came up with a couple incorrect expansions of that abbreviation before learning what it really stands for.
- 31a. [Nurseries?], BABY SITES.
- 44a. [What ice trays typically do?], BEAR CUBES.
- 50a. [President Herbert’s wife and mother, e.g.?], HOOVER DAMES. *eyeroll*
- 61a. [Play “Name That Tune”?], GUESS NOTES. Hmm, if you’re on Name That Tune, you’re guessing song titles, not notes. You get the opening notes/bars/what-have-you, and have to guess based on that.
What I learned is that I shouldn’t have forgotten about skimming the puzzle for a theme revealer. Would have sped thing up a bit!
Elsewhere in the puzzle:
- 6a. [Inspiring lust], SEXY. Um, no. You can be sexy within yourself without some creepy ogler lusting after you. Why, why, why does this clue suggest that sexiness is about the eye of the beholder? Appealing, confident, feeling good in your own skin … not “inspiring lust” from some rando.
- 6d. [Say on a stack of Bibles], SWEAR. I was just pondering what book an atheist might choose to be sworn into office with. My vote is for the Barbara Kingsolver novel, The Poisonwood Bible.
- 67a. [French buddies], AMIS / 41a. [“Je t’___” (“I love you”: Fr.)], AIME. These two words are far too closely related to be in the same puzzle. I’d have gone with the name Amis instead of French amis here.
- 32d. [Cardiologist’s X-ray], ANGIOGRAM. Well, not exactly. The angiogram produces a video showing the heart and blood vessels working while blood (containing contrast dye) flows through, whereas an X-ray/radiograph is a still image. The doc who performs the test is typically an interventional cardiologist rather than the sort of cardiologist who sees patients in the office. #TheMoreYouKnow
- 33d. [Mathematician Daniel after whom a principle is named], BERNOULLI. I suspect the constructor wasn’t envisioning this puzzle for a Tuesday, because this is rather tough fill. So are YAREN, ONE K, UTE, GUIDO di Pietro, de JURE, STOAT, and GREBE.
- 12d. [Period enjoyed by an introvert], ALONE TIME. Fave fill. I work from home, so I get plenty of alone time and I love it. I like being social too, but it’s nice to have time to oneself.
The theme didn’t all work well, I didn’t think, and some of the fill was harsh—this is what happens when you include 6 theme answers plus a revealer. The grid gets too locked down and it’s hard to get really smooth fill. 3.6 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Free Reign” – Derek’s write-up
A freestyle puzzle this week. Another tour de force my Matt, who probably assembled this grid in a very short time. Then again, perhaps not, because although there are some tough entries in here, and a couple of trademark obscurities, there is nothing awful in here at all. Yes, some things you should know or have run across as a crossword solver. (See 52A and 59A below. This puzzle is on par with anything you would see from any of the major outlets. Tremendously fun puzzle. 4.8 stars from me this week.
The promised highlights:
- 1A [Competition with bonus questions] QUIZ BOWL – A vague clue, but once you get a few of these Scrabble-y letters, you immediately realize what this is.
- 17A [“Animal band whose name was inspired by In-N-Out Burger signage] NEON TREES – Very informative clue! I didn’t pay attention after In-N-Out was mentioned; they have awesome burgers, and they need to expand here to the Midwest!
- 42A [First (and last) king of Albania] ZOG – How do I not remember this name??
- 52A [Former Cambodian premier Lon __ ] NOL – Like IDI AMIN as well as POL Pot, LON NOL is crossword famous, although the term may actually be crossword infamous in these instances.
- 59A [“Sizwe Banzi is Dead” playwright Fugard] ATHOL – Another person I only know from crosswords. You could’ve lied and named any play by “playwright Fugard” and I would still fill in ATHOL.
- 62A [Disney princess from New Orleans] TIANA – Ugh, Disney. Isn’t this the character from The Princess and the Frog? I am asking because I never saw this movie!
- 1D [Airline based in a Suburb called Mascot] QANTAS – Great clue! I did not know this, of course, and I now feel smarter!
- 10D [Jim Carrey movied directed by Ben Stiller] THE CABLE GUY – I don’t think I knew this either! I am learning lots from this puzzle!
- 13D [Golden Years resources] NEST EGGS – My nest egg is not in the greatest shape, but I can retire in about 13 years. I better get cracking!
- 15D [“The Puzzle Palace” org.] NSA – This is a book about the NSA that looks like a fun read.
- 23D [Age Bilbo Baggins turns at the beginning of “The Lord of the Rings”] ELEVENTY-ONE – Best answer in the grid. I am not familiar at all with these books or movies; it just isn’t my thing. But I still enjoyed this. Now I am curious to find out what this is about!
- 38D [Word on two Monopoly spaces] TAX – How common is knowledge of the Monopoly board? It almost seems like most of us know it by heart!
Whew! That was a lot. And I could’ve gone on! Have a great Tuesday!
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This one took a second for me to figure out what was happening with the theme, but that is mostly because I was zipping through too fast to stop and smell the roses! The revealer is at 39D
- 18A [Safari head protector] PITH HELMET
- 26A [Traditional farm equine] PLOW HORSE
- 47A [Baked pork cut that sounds perfect for a blanket in the park] PICNIC HAM
- 60A [Lever for manual water extraction] PLOW HANDLE
- 5D [Kid’s homemade topper] PAPER HAT
- 39D [Ordeal … and a hint to the initials of the answers to starred clues] ACID TEST
Yes, a pH test will determine if something is an acid or a base. There are a few videos floating around YouTube and such testing the pH of various brands of bottled water. It’s no wonder we are all sick! But yes, each themer has the initials “PH”, so very well done and nice and simple for a Tuesday. A solid 4.3 stars today.
- 5A [Mr. __: Former name of a Dr Pepper rival] PIBB – Former? You can’t buy this anymore? Or is it now just Pibb Xtra?
- 9A [Light model wood] BALSA – Modeling has always interested me. I am not very good at it, but perhaps another venture that I will take up when I retire?
- 66A [Nary a soul] NO ONE – Why is there “no one” with the last name NOONE? This looks like somebody’s surname!
- 10D [Hawks’ home] ATLANTA – A sports reference! The Atlanta Hawks of the NBA have been horrible for years. They still are.
- 26D [Stockholder’s agent] PROXY – I have had enough proxy vote mailings sent to me to recognize what this is. I think I still have some stock lurking out there somewhere …
- 42D [Ice-climber’s boot attachment] CRAMPON – I am not a mountain climber, but this is cool word. Here is a picture of one installed on a boot.
- 53D [Tipperary tip jar coin] EURO – Nice alliterative clue! And a different way to clue a common entry.
That is it for today!
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “High Notes” — Jim P’s recap
Theme: Famous song titles which include a title of nobility, as revealed by 59a [Noble names, and a hint to 17- and 40-Across and 11- and 24-Down].
- 17a [George Harrison song] MY SWEET LORD
- 40a [Beatles song] SUN KING. Not one that gets a lot of air play. This was probably tough unless you’re familiar with Abbey Road.
- 11d [Frank Sinatra song] LUCK BE A LADY
- 24d [Freddie Mercury song] KILLER QUEEN. It’s actually a QUEEN song, but obviously QUEEN couldn’t be used in the clue.
Fun fill: TIBETAN, COWBELL, and knightly QUESTS. Overall, a good puzzle. 3.6 stars.