Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 403), “Rumble and Jumble!”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! Here’s hoping you’re all doing well as we hurtle into the month of March. Today’s grid is more ANAGRAM fun, as the four theme entries, the four longest entries in the grid, happen to be anagrams of each other (40A: [What each of this puzzle’s 11-letter answers is]). One of those theme entries, MARTIAL ARTS, is also the reveal of the theme, an homage to the hottest sport in the United States, MMA (63A: [Mixed ___ (full-contact combat sport, and the puzzle theme)]).
- STARLIT MARA (17A: [Description of actress Rooney, luminous on a cloudless night?)])
- RAITT ALARMS (11D: [Wake-up calls from singer Bonnie?])
- MARITAL RATS (25D: [Spouses who are louses]) – “Marital rats” needs to be in everyone’s lexicon, though I hope you nor your spouse can be described as one. Totally LOLed filling in this entry.
Please tell me there’s at least one other person out there who also thought about the “Baby BELUGA” song from Full House when filling in that entry (14A: [White whale that can turn its neck in all directions]). Oh, you have no idea what I’m talking about? Well, here you go. Consider the rest of your day ruined because of the earworm that will develop. (And, yes, I watched lots of episodes of Full House when I was younger, and I’m now trying figuring out why I did that!)
I liked the Greek/Latin intersection of SUMMA (50A: [_____ cum laude]) and SIGMA (38D: [18th Greek letter]). Probably have only heard BAR SOAP referred to as a cake about twice in my life before today (56A: [Cake floating in a bathtub]). Got to see a documentary about EVEL Knievel a few years back, and, though I knew about all of his exploits and death-defying jumps and stunts, I did not have an idea of just how popular he was in the 1970s and early 1980s, as he pretty much was the driving force of ABC’s Wide World of Sports (15A: [Daring Knievel]). Actually, I can’t think of Evel Knievel without thinking about one of my favorite TV characters of all time, the stuntman Super Dave Osborne from the Bizarre comedy series. RIP Bob Einstein, the man who played Super Dave and who recently passed away.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RYNE (20A: [Baseball Hall-of-Famer Sandberg]) – Due to coming across his name numerous times in crosswords, I’m sure many of you now know that Ryne Sandberg spent his entire professional career with the Chicago Cubs. But before he became a fixture on the North Side, Ryne was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies farm system and played third base. In January 1982, the Phillies and Cubs pulled off one of the more lopsided trades of the 1980s, with the Cubs acquiring Sandberg and former All-Star shortstop Larry Bowa for light-hitting shortstop Ivan DeJesus. In the Phillies’ defense, they were already set at the Major League level at third base, as Mike Schmidt was coming off winning his second consecutive NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1981. But Sandberg’s Major League career, one in which he made 10 consecutive All-Star teams, led the league in home runs in 1990 and won the 1984 NL MVP Award, made this a memorable/forgettable trade for the Cubs/Phils.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!!
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
“What’s My Line?” That’s the title to guide us in today’s name-dropper of a puzzle:
17A: PHYSICIAN [KAREN]
23A: PHILANTHROPIST [SHARON]
38A: BURGLAR [ROBIN]
50A: WEDDING PLANNER [MARION]
62A: RANCH HAND [BRANDON]
So, let’s break this down:
– A PHYSICIAN is someone who cares (carin’ = KAREN), though a lot of jobs hopefully have folks who do that!
– A PHILANTHROPIST is someone who shares (sharin’ = SHARON) though, more accurately, don’t they actually donate/give?
– A BURGLAR is someone who robs (robbin’ = ROBIN). Check!
– A WEDDING PLANNER is someone who marries (marryin’ = MARION). This one isn’t quite right, unless you have quite the all-in-one planner.
– A RANCH HAND is someone who brands (brandin’ = BRANDON). Check!
Overall, a mostly consistent theme that includes women (yay!). I’m not sure why the clues were in all caps – maybe there’s a part of the theme I’m missing. Other thoughts:
– Some of this fill is so ye olde! TOPS and IMHIP right in the NW corner made me wonder what decade this puzzle came from. I actually got stuck and filled in the western part of the grid last because I couldn’t figure out SKILL for whatever reason (my bad, honestly), but it crossed LON (?!) and MERLE (?!). That, along with not getting 1D or 2D made it hard to grok SICK or OMS (which could have been many other incantations). Basically, a potentially tricky section over there.
– There are a lot of dudes from a different era in this puzzle: In addition to LON Chaney and MERLE Oberon, we have Sal MINEO and LENNY Bruce. To be fair, there’s also AVA Gardner and MIA Farrow from a different era and the much more modern Lisa LOEB, so again, yay for including women. But dang these references are not current.
So, overall this puzzle was somewhere closer to RAD than BAD or SAD. I appreciated the attempt at the clever theme set and liked that the fill was largely clean, but a bit more modernizing of word lists would go a long way to keeping these puzzles fresh.
Alex Vratsanos’s New York Times crossword—Ade’s take
Hello once again! Pulling double duty today, so hope you don’t mind a little extra cheeriness with your review. Today’s puzzle features a series of circles that form L-shaped bends. Each JOINT happens to be filled with letters that, when combined, spell out an actual joint contained in the human body (40A: [What each set of circled letters in this puzzle represents]). Of course, after I solved the grid, I immediately looked at each of those joints represented in the puzzle to see which ones are actually giving me trouble at the moment. Right now, that’s the knee and neck.
- ELBE (1A: [River that formed part of the border between East and West Germany)]) + BOWE (3D: [Ring champ Riddick]) = ELBOW
- DANK (5A: [Cold and moist, as a cellar]) + KLEPTO (8D: [Prefix with “mania”]) = ANKLE
- ASAHI (9A: [Brewery in the Nikkei 225]) + IPA (13D: [Bitter beer, briefly]) = HIP. Love me some IPAs, with Lagunitas IPAs being my favorite at the moment!
- KNUT (35A: [Bronze coin in the Harry Potter books]) + SUCKLE (31D: [Nurse, as a newborn]) = KNUCKLE
- SHOULD (37A: [Is obliged to]) + ELDERS (28D: [Tribal chiefs, typically]) = SHOULDER
- KNELL (60A: [Sorrowful bell sound]) + EEL (62D: [Sushi bar fish]) = KNEE
- WRIT (63A: [Legal order]) + NATURIST (41D: [Believer in nudism]) = WRIST
- VANE (65A: [Barn topper]) + BECK (59D: [Partner of call]) = NECK
Definitely a Euro feel to this grid given that we have a French River, SOMME (10D: [French River in fierce W.W. I fighting]), an Italian port, TRIESTE (25A: [Italian port on the Adriatic Sea]), and British terminology, MEWS, to go along with ELBE to start things off (17A: [British term for a row of houses converted from stables]). Oh, and there’s some Français thrown in for good measure with TROIS (32A: [Deux + un]), and that happens to cross AMARETTO (6D: [Liqueur whose name is Italian for “a little bitter”]). Is this all a hint to travel to Europe soon and/or apply to cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer? Wouldn’t mind that, that’s for sure!
Liked the theme OK, but then had to resist jumping from one set of circles to the other to guess which of the other body joints would appear in the set of circles. Probably the entry that gave me most difficulty to parse was SISAL (29A: [Rope fiber]), especially when I was not trusting my instincts/vocab to believe that ENSHEATHE was correct (4D: [Cover, as a knife]). Oh, and if it wasn’t for the theme, I would have had no freaking shot at KNUT, as my Harry Potter knowledge is almost exclusively derived from crosswords, and I had yet to come across that Potter-related word until today. One day, that will change, but it won’t be today! Nor tomorrow.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOWE (3D: [Ring champ Riddick]) – As some sports fans know, some of the zaniest sports-related stories come from the world of boxing, and a couple of memorable tales happen to involve Riddick Bowe, the man who defeated Evander Holyfield in Nov. 1992 to win the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. In protest of having to soon defend his recently-won titles against Lennox Lewis (the man who defeated Bowe for the gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics), Bowe famously forfeited his WBC championship belt by placing it in a trash can in London. One year later, Bowe defended his other championship belts in a rematch with Evander Holyfield, a match that Holyfield won in what would be Bowe’s only professional loss. In that match, during the seventh round, a man equipped with a parachute and an oversized, motorized fan strapped on his back descended from the sky and onto the ring in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, getting entangled in the ropes of the boxing ring. I kid you not. Here’s the video of “Fan Man” and his bizarre stunt…
Don’t forget to move your clocks forward ONE HOUR in a couple of weeks (20A: [What’s gained or lost with daylight saving time]). At least it won’t look pitch black outside at 6 PM for a few months, which I like a whole lot.
Thank you so much for your time and attention, everyone, and hope you didn’t mind the review. If so, there’s always next time to improve, right? Have a good rest of your Tuesday!
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Universal crossword, “I’m No Mathematician” – Jim Q’s writeup
I’m certainly no mathematician. I’m an English teacher. Don’t be judgin’ me typo’s.
THEME: Homophones of math terminology, clued wackily.
- 20A [Certain vodka’s worth?] ABSOLUT VALUE. I prefer their pear flavor.
- 31A [Swiss cheese measures?] HOLE NUMBERS.
- 38A [Demolition derby pileup?] WRECK TANGLE.
- 51A [Paths around Times and Trafalgar?] SQUARE ROUTES. I pronounce “routes” as “rowts,” but that’s probably a regional thing.
This was fun! I love wordplay puzzles like this. They don’t seem to get old to me. I do wish there were some more sparkle in the fill… ON A LEASH was fun, but other than that, it seemed relatively crosswordy… OOZY? If you say so.
Also, while both parts of 38A and 51A change meaning from their base phrase, 20A and 31A do not, as far as I can tell: VALUE = WORTH in both ABSOLUTE VALUE and the alteration ABSOLUT VALUE. NUMBERS = HAVING TO DO WITH NUMBERS in HOLE NUMBERS and WHOLE NUMBERS.
TANGLE and ROUTES both take on completely different meanings in the altered phrase.
I wonder why HOLE NUMBERS wasn’t clued as [Melodies on a golf course?] or something like that? It would’ve been more in line with the latter theme answers, in my opinion.
Ah well. I had a good time. 3 stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “‘Revolutionaries’ — What Goes Around” – Laura’s review
Laura in for Derek, who is on vacation somewhere warm. It is not at all warm here where I reside, and this is a very short post since it is so very late.
- [17a: Like some bazookas or missles]: ANTITANK
- [25a: “I Have a Dream” speech refrain]: FREE AT LAST
- [38a: Advice based on feelings]: FOLLOW YOUR HEART
- [46a: Got ready to kiss]: PUCKERED UP
- [61a: Explanation for weird things going on, or what each theme answer has in common]: FULL MOON
Each themer is FULL of a MOON: TITAN, ATLAS, and RHEA are moons of Saturn, while PUCK is an inner moon of Uranus <insert sophomoric joke about Uranus>. Today I learned that all of the moons of Uranus are named after Shakespearean characters, while Saturn, which has a, uhh … buttload of moons, has ones named after figures from Greek, Nordic, and Inuit mythology. Saturn also has many moonlets, which is my new favorite word, replacing my former favorite word, lunchbox.
Peter Koetters’s Los Angeles Times Crossword–Judge Vic’s write-up
Derek is traveling. I’m honored to sub in a couple of times this week. Not long ago I wrote in a review of a puzzle at another venue, where the puzzles are always titled, that reveals more often serve a purpose in an untitled puzzle. This puzzle illustrates the point. 48a definitely serves a purpose in the puzzle.
While most people who solve crosswords probably would get the theme here without the reveal, there is nothing about how the theme answers are worded or clued that lets a solver know that each is known to have a smile:
- 17a [*Wonderland feline known for disappearing] CHESHIRE CAT
- 56a [*Da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” to some English speakers] THE MONA LISA
- 11d *[“Have a nice day” graphic] HAPPY FACE
- 33d [*Celtic peepers of song] IRISH EYES
- 48d [Expression shared by the answers to starred clues] SMILE
Employing a pinwheel grid allowed Peter to have some really good other ILSA’s and their kin in both the horizontal and vertical arenas:
- 23a [Manhattan area to the right of Central Park, on maps] EAST SIDE–I frequently visit friends in this area.
- 27a [Stopgap remedy] QUICK FIX–Two words, no hyphen.
- 42a [Virus-transmitting insect] MOSQUITO—Not an ILSA, but looks like one (mos quito).
- 51a [Free sample restriction] ONE EACH–You know what? I think this is a great phrase! Always have.
- 54a [Title savant in a 1988 Oscar-winning film] RAIN MAN–Two words, both capped.
- 9d [’50s-’60s nonconformists] BEATNIKS—Not an ILSA, but looks like one.
- 37 [Idle talk] CHITCHAT–One word, not two. But still qualifies as an ILSA …
- 38 [Kin by marriage] SON-IN-LAW–…as do hyphenated words. As for this one, I was one and I have one.
Nice work, Peter!
The neck has joints. The neck is not a joint.
And [WSJ] a burglar is not necessarily a robber or vice versa.
Burglary is simply the entering into a structure with the intent to commit a felony. The felony does not have to be theft. No one needs to be present.
Robbery requires face to face contact between perp and victim and requires the intent to steal through, force, intimidation or coercion.
Although they are often used (incorrectly) as synonyms, legally they are completely different. They could arise in the same fact scenario if the perp enters the home, finds the owner at home, and then robs the owner at gunpoint.
Multiple dictionaries, and nearly every English-speaking person on the planet would disagree with you.
But no judge would. :)
Assuming we’re talking burglary and not neck non-joints, that is …
With so many bones involved, couldn’t the same be said for ankle and wrist? Or are those joints between well-defined pairs of bones by convention?
I broke my patella once. That was enough of a pain to fix. I hate to think what people with broken wrists endure.
The wrist and ankle each have a single articulation. There may be more than one bone creating the articulation, but it’s one joint space. The neck has multiple joints with separate articulations – there’s the atlantaxial joint at the superior end, and then multiple articulations through the vertebrae. Multiple joint spaces. Multiple joints.
Wrists are bad. Shoulders are worse.
WSJ: SHARON/sharin’ have distinct vowel sounds for me.
Looking for Universal crosswords- can’t find the ones you are reviewing. Help! Thanks.
From the Today’s Puzzles tab on this site, in the Daily section.
Direct link to AcrossLite format download.
Also, archives of all dailies and extra Sunday Steinberg-edited Universal crosswords can be found here.
WSJ: “Some of this fill is so ye olde! … what decade this puzzle came from…a lot of dudes from a different era in this puzzle…dang these references are not current…a bit more modernizing of word lists would go a long way to keeping these puzzles fresh.”
With all due respect, Nate, I’m sure many would disagree. Although I found this WSJ puzzle only so-so, I admired the mix of clues and answers from different eras. So often, even highly praised puzzles seem obsessed with references to current television shows, rap names, internet memes, etc. Your comments echo others and often those of Rex Parker that a puzzle with too many references to the non-current make the puzzle somehow stodgy or fusty or both. Perhaps the best puzzle constructor of all time, Patrick Berry, and the late great Mel mix the old and the new in better balance. Their work almost always seems/seemed fresh…at least to me. Lon, Merle, Lenny, Sal, Ava and Lisa–a great group of folks to be found here. Welcome!
Interesting, Nate, that I spelled Merle Oberon correctly and made a typo on Merl Reagle’s first name. My bad!
I agree completely. Questions about Chinese dynasties, Russian Tsars or Greek Gods, for example, are not exactly contemporaneous, but seem to many (not me) to be entirely appropriate.
Agreed. I am very much more likely to chafe at “references to current television shows, rap names, internet memes, etc.” than at references to historic events, classic cinema and classic literature. I think it is to be expected that a national newspaper’s crossword will be aimed at a wide cross-section of ages and interests, and that it will assume a certain level of shared cultural knowledge – people and works and occurrences that are prominent enough to be widely known across generations. Anything else is going to seem like arcana to someone.
That said, however, I also think it’s not entirely unfair to complain that this puzzle “skews old” as the combative Mr. Parker might say. Exhibit #1: 30A, which asks for the name of an actress who received just a single Oscar nomination, for a 1935 film, and did not win — that’s pushing the envelope pretty far into old film trivia territory, especially in a Tuesday puzzle.
There’s something about the “skews old” phrase you find frequently with Mr. Parker–whose ranting columns I mostly love–that smacks a bit of ageism. JANE EYRE or AYN RAND might “skew old” for someone who spends all their time in front of a television or playing video games and never reads. Rex also pans puzzles if they seem too self-consciously hip or trendy. Tough middle ground to find sometimes, I guess, for constructors. From my standpoint, Merle Oberon and Lon Chaney (Sr.) are prominent enough: Lon being, arguably, the greatest American character actor in cinema history (check Wikipedia for his amazing credits and archetypal characters) and Merle being a lovely and unique Eurasian actress well-known for many films especially her unforgettable “duet” performance with Laurence Olivier in WUTHERING HEIGHTS in that great film year of 1939.
WSJ: Nate, Merle Oberon was a woman, an actress. I only know this because I only saw her in one movie, “A Song to Remember,” in which she played George Sand (also a woman).
NYT: I had box 8 selected and misread which clue was which, so for a moment I was convinced that “dankmania” was some slang term that I had missed out on…
I appreciated learning the meaning behind Mews!
where’s the LAT solve/review?