Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 403), “Place Settings”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! Hope you’re all doing well today! Different people have different takes on what America is about and today’s crossword literally has different “versions” of America, with the first four theme entries being multiple-word answers in which the first word can also come before the word “America.” The wonderful reveal of the theme, THIS IS AMERICA, also happens to be my favorite song/music video that I’ve come across in a good while (59A: [Childish Gambino single that won Record of the Year at the 2019 Grammys…and a hint to the puzzle theme]).
- CAPTAIN MARVEL (15A: [Title superhero played by Brie Larson (the film opens in March 2019)]) – Captain America. There is a lot of hype surrounding this movie (Captain Marvel), but I have a feeling that it will live up to it.
- LATIN MASS (26A: [Traditional church rite set to music by Bach and Beethoven]) – Latin America.
- CORPORATE LADDER (35A: [Workplace hierarchy that may include a glass ceiling]) – Corporate America.
- NORTH WEST (45A: [Kim and Kanye’s eldest child]) – North America.
There’s some (unintentional) fun with anagrams in the grid, with both SNOOPER (22D: [Nosy person]) and SPOONER in the grid, and now I’m wondering if that occurrence is actually a funny homage to the eponym of the spoonerism, William Archibald Spooner (6A: [Reverend associated with wedding-day wordplay such as: “It is kisstomary to cuss the bride”]). I don’t know about you and/or your family members, but my father would watch the ROAD SHOW religiously and, afterward, swear that he had something in our apartment akin to some of the wares that went for hundreds and/or thousands on the show (37D: [“Antiques ____” (popular PBS series)]). Sadly have to admit that during all of my time and hours watching TCM over the past decade, I have not seen CESIRA and the movie in which Sophia Loren played that role (44D: [Sophia Loren’s Oscar-winning role in “Two Women”]). To make up for not watching an Italian movie, maybe I should have an Italian treat like a GELATO, but, unfortunately, it’s too darn cold to have one right now (24A: [Italian ice cream]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ELEVATED (11D: [Like some city railways]) – If you have ever been to Nashville and/or Minneapolis, and have taken in a college basketball game at either Vanderbilt University or the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), you will have noticed a very unique feature in the building during the game: an ELEVATED basketball court. It’s a look that the NCAA has adopted, starting in 2008, for its NCAA Tournament games played inside football stadiums, specifically for its showpiece event, the Final Four. The elevation of the court, 27 inches from the ground, allows it to be situated in the middle of the spacious building as opposed to having the court be on one side of the arena, allowing the NCAA to maximize ticket sales. (It’s all about the money, right? But, of course, the players who bring in the BILLIONS in TV revenue, ticket sales, apparel sales, etc., shouldn’t get a dime of that, right?) Anyways, here is an example of the elevated court at the 2017 Final Four, where I fortunately was able to take this picture while on my way to get popcorn from the media room. Notice the steps on the right that are needed to get onto the court.
Thank you so much for the time, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!!
David Alfred Bywaters’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hamlet’s “TO BE / OR NOT / TO BE” inspires this theme, wherein two phrases with a single B get that B doubled (2 B!), and two other phrases with a double B get it halved (not 2 B). The soliloquy excerpt gets the long-winded revealer clue, [With 39- and 40-Across, classic Shakespearean question phonetically suggested by 17-, 23-, 47- and 59-Across].
- 17a. One who’s taking a polar vortex pretty hard?], COLD SOBBER. I appreciate the polar vortex citation, but the familiar phrase is stone cold sober, not cold sober.
- 23a. One who cheats on a weight-reduction plan?], DIETARY FIBBER.
- 47a. Heyday of taxis in Beijing?], CHINESE CAB AGE.
- 59a. Defense against a charge of public nudity?], WE WAS ROBED!
Cute. Not really a problem to repeat TO BE in the grid since it’s just a phrase split across entries.
Three more things:
- 32a. [Painter of a maja both “desnuda” and “vestida”], GOYA. Guessing those quoted Spanish words mean “nude” and “clothed.”
- 24d. [Lacking money], IMPECUNIOUS. Vocabulary word!
- 56d. [Long, long time], AEON. Let me ask our British readers—do you spell it EON or AEON? It is rarely spelled AEON in the U.S., but there’s nothing in the clue to signal a British spelling. Tough for a Tuesday.
3.75 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “You’re All Out of Order” – Derek’s write-up
Things are all cattywampus in this grid today! But that’s OK, because it makes for a clever theme. Take four common phrases with a directional preposition in them and go to town (real phrases used in parentheses):
- 17A [Midday song by The Moody Blues, out of order?] TUESDAY NOON (Tuesday Afternoon)
- 60A [Punny Stephan Pastis comic strip, out of order?] SWINE PEARLS (Pearls Before Swine, one of my favorite comic strips!)
- 11D [Temperature where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales meet, out of order?] FORTY ZERO (forty below zero, which is what the wind chill factors were here just a couple of weeks ago!)
- 34D [Persevere, out of order?] IT ALL RISE (rise above it all)
I told you it was quite clever! I thought I was doing something wrong at first, but when the “a-ha!” moment kicked in, it was rather satisfying. Not too much pop-culture obscurity in this one, so that is different! 4.3 stars for Matt’s puzzle this week.
Just a few more things:
- 35A [“Forever Mine” singer Day] ANDRA – If you have never heard her sing, you are missing out. I prefer this song from the same album:
- 64A [“Honor Thy Father” author Gay] TALESE – For the longest time, it was unclear to me whether this crossword-famous author was male or female. HE is male and 87 years old now, according to a quick Google search. Perhaps I will read one of his books while on vacation!
- 7D [Photographer Goldin] NAN – I don’t know who this is. Her name is only vaguely familiar. Perhaps there is more obscurity in here than I thought …
- 9D [___ gobi (Indian potato dish)] ALOO – … like this Indian dish. I have only recently tried Indian cuisine, and now I have to order aloo gobi for lunch soon!
- 25D [It pairs with steak] RED WINE – Neither of these sounds appetizing to me.
- 31D [1970s song whose first two words denote the first two letters] YMCA – Clever clue!
- 44D [Fail to bring up a memory] GO BLANK – Like I usually do on the Jeopardy! qualifying test, coming up this April, or at the ACPT, coming up in about a month!
- 54D [Adams who photographed Yosemite] ANSEL – Another crossword-famous person. I Googled him as well; he’s been dead for 35 years. His heyday was a little before my time!
Saturday will mark my last blog posts for a little bit. Heading on vacation! I cannot promise I will be reading this blog for the next week or so after Saturday’s puzzles are posted! Thanks to all the bloggers who are subbing for me while I am gone; I truly appreciate it!
Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I raced through this one in under 3 minutes, perhaps because my vacation is coming soon and I am excited! As a matter of fact, this puzzle’s theme ties in quite nicely to one of the main activities I will be doing on my vacation:
- 17A [*Sore loser’s reaction] SOUR GRAPES
- 58A [*Valentine recipient] SWEETHEART
- 11D [*Finale to fight to, with “the”] BITTER END
- 34D [*Hip-hop trio with a condimental name] SALT-N-PEPA
- 38A [Fifth and newest member of the set that includes the starts of the answers to starred clues] UMAMI
Yes, the five types of taste are going to play nicely while on vacation! Hopefully there are several new foods I can try that are not available here in north central Indiana! What exactly is umami? It is supposedly what MSG tastes like, according to a rudimentary search. I do enjoy Asian flavors; I am even starting to learn more about Indian cuisine. I am getting off track, though. Paul Coulter has made a nice puzzle! 4.4 stars.
A few things I found interesting:
- 41A [“Full court” NBA defense] PRESS – The NBA All-Star game was Sunday night. Very little full court defense in that game!
- 46A [“Chestnuts roasting __ open fire”] ON AN – I have a better version of this song for you:
- 7D [WWII General __ Arnold] HAP – This seems hard for a Tuesday.
- 10D [Noble Brit] ARISTO – See last comment.
- 12D [Treatment for gray hair] BLUE RINSE – OK, so sometimes the elderly are, perhaps derogatorily, called “blue hairs.” Is this what “blue rinse” is for? I don’t have any hair to do research on!
- 13D [Swiss peaks] ALPS – One of these days, I will watch a Tour de France stage in the Alps. There. I have said it. It is on my bucket list!
- 50D [Megan’s “Will & Grace” role] KAREN – I was never a big fan of this show in either iteration, but Megan Mullally is really funny.
- 52D [__ speed: “Star Trek” rate] WARP – This concept only exists in sci-fi, right?
As mentioned above, I will still have puzzles blogged on Saturday, but after that I will be AWOL for a little bit. Have a great week!
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Treasure Hunting” — Jim P’s review
Jim P. here filling in for Nate since the puzzle posted later than usual.
Today we’ve got…let’s see…mining puns! Specifically, we have puns using homophones.
- 17a [Celebration for diamond diggers?] MINER PARTY. Minor party. I was thinking the base phrase was a legal term referring to an individual who is a minor. No, it refers to a political party that is lacking in power. In this country we normally use the term “third party.”
- 25a [Digging for opals, e.g.?] VEIN ATTEMPT. Vain attempt.
- 46a [Excited shout from coal diggers?] SEAMS LIKELY. Seems likely.
- 57a [Enjoyable gold-digging places?] LODES OF FUN. Loads of fun. Do you think this is a leading phrase, attempting to get us to look kindly on this puzzle as a whole?
The puns here aren’t groundbreaking, but everything works as intended and it’s well-constructed. Bonus theme-related entry: 45a CAVED, which would conceivably be a “miner inconvenience.”
Lovely long fill today. HIDDEN FEE is not a nice thing, but it makes for fine fill. But the better finds are the macabre BATES MOTEL which was an on-screen CRIME SCENE. But please, DON’T PANIC. Other goodies include crunchy SYNTAX, playful KIDDO, and fed up “NO MORE!”
Clues of note:
- 1a [First Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize]. SADAT. I liked learning this little factual tidbit right off the bat. Of course, he won with Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel in 1978.
- 16a [Respond to reveille]. RISE. I had WAKE to start with. This led to the funniest moment of the solve for me when 9d looked like it was going to be the Fuddian CWIME SCENE.
- 33a [Credit card feature]. CHIP. The U.S. is years behind other (mostly European) countries in getting “CHIP and PIN” implemented. It’s ridiculous to have a CHIP in your card and still have to sign your name.
- 3d [“Stay calm!”]. DON’T PANIC. We would also have accepted [Words on the cover of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”].
- 28d [Last stop for Marion Crane]. BATES MOTEL. A surprisingly grim clue.
- In the “old fill getting fresh clues” category: 63a [Airline with a King David Club] for EL AL and 23d [“Master Melvin” in Cooperstown] for OTT. I like the attempts to find new angles in this well-trodden territory.
This is a well-made and enjoyable grid. Maybe not “LODES OF FUN,” but some fun anyway. 3.5 stars.
David Alfred Bywaters’ Universal crossword, “Rolling in the Aisles” – Jim Q’s writeup
Well I’ll be! (Get it? I’ll? Aisle? Heh heh. sigh.)
THEME: Words that have an “ale” sound to them are changed to sound like “aisle” and clued wackily
- 16A [Flooring in St. Thomas Becket’s bathroom?] CANTERBURY TILES.
- 25A [Court jacket?] TRIAL BLAZER.
- 47A [Tragic actor’s supply?] VIAL OF TEARS.
- 60A [Look elsewhere for that sock?] GO BEYOND THE PILE.
Some genuinely funny answers here- I especially like VIAL OF TEARS and GO BEYOND THE PILE as clued.
TRIAL BLAZER feels like a slight outlier since both parts of the resulting answer change meaning from the base phrase.
Smooth fill all around! I solved on the website app today, and it’s very frustrating to use in comparison with AcrossLite. It definitely added time to the solve.
3.6 stars from me.