Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 405), “Food Fights!”—Ade’s take
Hello once again, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well today. Today’s crossword is a little bit of rhyme time with food, though there’s definitely an pugilistic edge to it! Each of the theme entries is a pugnacious pun in which the first word is a type of food while the second word, which rhymes with the first, is a word that describes types of fights. It’s a food fight, indeed!
- WRAP SCRAP (18A: [Fight over a rolled sandwich?)])
- SOUFFLE MELEE (26A: [Fight over a puffy French dish?])
- TRUFFLE KERFUFFLE (37A: [Fight over a Godiva chocolate?])
- MUSSEL TUSSLE (52A: [Fight over a mollusk?])
- HASH CLASH (63A: [Fight over a meat-and-potatoes dish?])
First off, I DARE YOU to find too many issues with this grid (3D: [“Go ahead, make my day”]). Of course, I’m being hyperbolic, especially with a bit of crosswordese in the grid, but, again, I normally look over that since that’s not so much a spot of bother for me that I have to sit here and lament about it, at least for the most part. There is a lot of long, scrumptious entries in the grid, including the non-themed food of TIRAMISU, a phrase that would be hard to pair with a fighting synonym (10D: [Italian dessert made with ladyfingers]). How about “tiramisu set-to?” Actually, that kind of works, don’t you think?
Though short in its appearance, I think I liked FINK the most of all of the non-themed entries today (28D: [Snitch]). Why? It’s just so much fun to say, though I hope I never have to personally call someone that. Actually, I hope I don’t engage in any shady behavior that would lead me to call someone that! OK, time to retreat back home and make sure that possibility doesn’t unfold, at least for tonight! :-P
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CSONKA (48D: [Football Hall of Famer Larry]) & ORANGE (70A: [Carrot color]) – Talk about some serious (Cross)synergy! Former Syracuse University ORANGE great and Miami Dolphins fullback Larry CSONKA was one of the driving forces of the team that remains the only squad in NFL history to finish an entire season in the Super Bowl era (playoffs included) undefeated, the 1972 Miami Dolphins. In Super Bowl VII, the win by the Dolphins over Washington to complete perfection, Csonka ran for 112 yards on 15 carries as Miami repeated as Super Bowl champions. One year later, in Super Bowl VIII, Csonka rushed for a then-record 145 yards and two touchdowns, winning the game’s Most Valuable Player award. Of course, most people remember Csonka as one of the hosts of the late 1980s/1990s athletics competition show, American Gladiators.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!!
Priscilla Clark & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
Let’s see what “Former Lives” our constructors are summoning up today:
17A: EX-PORTERS [Retired redcaps?]
27A: EX-TENSIONS [Results of a great massage?]
36A: EX-TERMINATORS [Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Patrick, and Kristanna Loken?]
45A: EX-TRACTORS [Recycled John Deere machines?]
57A: EX-PRESSES [Book publishers who have moved on to better things?]
I like how the title tied into the clues and theme entries for most of the theme set. Porters and terminators are people who’ve left those former lives, while presses and tractors once had a use in a former life. Ex-tensions feels like the outlier to me in this set, especially with respect to the title, but I overall enjoyed the puzzle. I had a tough time breaking into the NW corner, likely due to BOLLIX and DEADHEAT crossing ALFAS, none of which I could immediately grok. The rest of the puzzle fell smoothly for me and there was little cruddy fill, which is nice given a grid with so many XES.
– The AJAX/XES cross in the NE corner is a little wink from the constructors saying, “Yeah, we had to deal with all these XES in the grid, and we still found room for one more than we didn’t even need!” A gold star also for XRAYSPEX and JOEBOXER. That second X in each entry was one the constructors didn’t have to include, but each elevates the puzzle, for sure.
– There is a lot of female representation in the grid today, which I certainly appreciated: ALI MacGraw, DOES, Lucy LIU, REBA McEntire, SHERRI, DESIREE, ERMA Bombeck, and Ms. O’LEARY.
That’s all for today. Overall, I enjoyed it!
Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Things with “spots,” that’s the theme:
- 16a. [It has spots], PARKING LOT. Solid.
- 22a. [It has spots], LEOPARD PRINT. I thought this was going to be an awkward LEOPARD’S SKIN or COAT, but the actual answer is better.
- 35a. [It has spots]. COMMERCIAL BREAK. Not that I call TV ads “spots,” but maybe advertisers or TV people do.
- 48a. [It has Spots], DOGGY DAY CARE. No, no, no. People are not naming their dogs “Spot” these days, by and large. When Spot was a popular dog name, DOGGY DAY CARE wasn’t yet a thing.
- 57a. [It has spots], TEA SERVICE. Not sure you can get away with pluralizing “a spot of tea” into the “spots” here. David L and our other resident Brits, what say you?
The longer entries TEMP AGENCY, “I BELIEVE SO,” and “LET IT BE” are welcome sights.
Five more things:
- 41a. [Juiceless, as a battery], DEAD. I’m gonna start using “juiceless” to refer to anything whose battery has run down. Cell phone, hearing aids, Fitbit, whatever. “Hang on, I’m juiceless here. I need to plug in.”
- 56a. [Where Johnny Cash shot a man, in song], RENO. Great clue. His reasoning was terrible, though. “Because the bastard stole my parking spot” would have been more relatable.
- 60a. [Onetime maker of Matchbox cars], TYCO. I got this off of just the O. How? Clearly, I was reading everything when I was a kid, including the fine print on my toy cars or their packaging.
- 2d. [Rotary phone feature], DIAL. There are likely tens of millions of Americans who have never seen a phone with a rotary dial. Heck, a landline phone that’s attached to the wall and has a spiral cord is pretty rare these days, and many households don’t even have cordless landline phones anymore. (I think my family switched from dials to touch-tone phones by the 1980s, maybe the ’70s.)
- 12d. [Tube used in heart surgery], STENT. Can we get a ruling from you doctors and cardiac patients? How often are STENTs placed during actual heart surgery, as opposed to being inserted via cardiac catheterization? I can’t help feeling like STENT clues with “surgery” in them are wrong, particularly if they allude to the heart.
3.8 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “In the Neighborhood” – Derek’s write-up
Back to blogging the Jonesin’ this week! Thanks for all who subbed for me while I was out. I am ashamed to say that I did not get what the theme was for this puzzle until the very end, because the theme is one of my favorite childhood memories:
- 17A [Current U.S. Secretary of Transportation] ELAINE CHAO –
- 30A [1992 song by The Cure that goes through the week] FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE –
- 36A [Magazine for teens since 1965] TIGER BEAT – Girls were reading this when I was in middle school 40 years ago!
- 46A [Thought experiment featured in an episode of “The Good Place”] TROLLEY PROBLEM –
- 61A [TV host with a “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” (where the starts of the theme answers were found)] FRED ROGERS – Mister Rogers!!
If you have not seen this documentary yet, stop what you’re doing and do watch it. It is on HBO On Demand as we speak. I think I admitted this in this blog several weeks ago when I saw it in the theaters, but I cried and cried watching this. I have seen Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood once or twice, but it just isn’t the same! (Perhaps because I am not 5 anymore!) One of the nice things about solving puzzles is when they bring a smile to your face; this one accomplished that in many ways. A solid 5 stars from me!
More to like:
- 13A [“3 Feet High and Rising” group ___ Soul] DE LA – Their music is noticeably missing from the digital catalogues we are used to. This album was one of my favorites back in the day, and it is not on iTunes, Spotify, or anywhere! If you know where it is available, let me know!!
- 51A [Mop & ___ (floor cleaner brand)] GLO – They still make this stuff?
- 3D [2019 Hyundai model] ELANTRA – My car!!
- 10D [Diamond game, in Santo Domingo] BEISBOL – Cubs beisbol starts in just a few weeks!
- 22D [___ pedis (athlete’s foot)] TINEA – This is hard. I have never had it, so I am not familiar with this term.
- 26D [___ paneer (Indian spinach dish)] SAAG – More Indian food! Guess what might be for lunch today?
- 32D [“Let ___!” (“Go ahead”)] IT RIP – Or, alternatively, I TRIP could be clued as [What I do all the time]!
- 38D [“Star Trek” collective] BORG – My wife has started watching the new Star Trek on CBS All Access. I am a tennis fan, so I immediately think of Bjorn Borg, which also reminds me that I never finished watching Borg vs McEnroe that I started a while ago.
- 48D [___ the Pig (2019)] YEAR OF – I think a partial like this is not allowed in the NYT, but this is cool. I would have used whatever was a rat year, but this is current!
What I did find on Spotify was a playlist of songs sampled by De La Soul on 3 Feet High and Rising. Guess what song is on there? Enjoy!
MaryEllen Uthlaut’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
It is a little cool that my solving time of 3:05 matches the date for this puzzle! I think I had this one figured out well before the revealer at 61A:
- 17A [Smartphone condition resolved by recharging] LOW BATTERY
- 32A [Unable to see because of reflected sunlight] SNOWBLIND
- 38A [“The West Wing” actor] ROB LOWE
- 46A [Martin Waddell book about birds missing their mother] OWL BABIES – I have not heard of this work.
- 61A [Baker’s staple, and a hint to this puzzle’s circles] MIXING BOWL
Very nicely done. This is definitely a theme idea that would not be possible without the circled squares. I don’t think I am, in the big picture, a fan of circles in crossword grids in general, but these types of puzzles are at least different, and that is fine with me. It also makes for an easy solve and the theme is plain to see: the letters in BOWL are definitely mixed up in the theme entries. Keep it simple! 4.2 stars today.
More stuff I liked:
- 14A [Question before “Yes, you!”] WHO ME? – Favorite entry!
- 15A [Gumbo pod] OKRA – A lot of people give this food a bad rap, but it isn’t as terrible as people make it out to be. I was exposed to it as a kid, and it truly does matter what you experience while young.
- 34A [Quimby girl of kid-lit] RAMONA – I went to school with a girl named Ramona … and I don’t think I know another one!
- 36A [“The Time Machine” race] ELOI – This crossword-famous fictional tribe are always in puzzles, but I did actually read this book at some point in my life, and they figure prominently in this classic work. Read it if you haven’t!
- 3D [“Eat Mor Chikin” sign holder in Chick-fil-A ads] COW – These commercials are cute, but I feel better when I avoid meats altogether!
- 11D [Eyelike spots] OCELLI – Unless you’re an eye doctor, this clue is simply too hard for a Tuesday. Might be necessary since it crosses a theme answer, but some people definitely will learn a new word here.
- 24D [Author Didion] JOAN – I know of her also mainly from puzzles and trivia. She was featured in a Jeopardy! answer during their All-Star matchup games, which have their finale on Tuesday night!
- 39D [Scott of “Happy Days”] BAIO – How old is he now?? (Answer: 58! I thought he was older!)
Back at it! Just so you know, this was one of my views at this time last week:
Jules Markey’s Universal crossword, “Holding Down Two Jobs” – Jim Q’s writeup
Currently sneaking in a quick write-up while administering a test in class… holding down two jobs, if you know what I mean.
THEME: Notable people with last names that translate into a job unrelated to their individual careers.
17A [“Release the Stars” singer whose surname means “wagon maker”] RUFUS WAINWRIGHT. Wagon maker, eh? That’s new to me. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT falls into the same category as Tom Waits and Bob Dylan for me… love the songs, but the voice gets somewhat grating after a while.
- 27A [1976 Best Actress whose surname means “arrow maker”] Didn’t Nurse Ratched make you quiver? (get it? quiver? hehe.)
- 42A [CNN host whose surname means “barrel maker”] ANDERSON COOPER. I thought it might mean “one who raises chickens.” Guess not.
- 55A [“The Big Sleep” author whose surname means “candle maker”] RAYMOND CHANDLER. I *think* this is the only theme definition I knew prior to this puzzle.
I enjoyed the playfulness of the clues throughout, and the clean fill that included HOUSE RULES, SOFT BOILED, and CARHOP. I forgot that one indeed CHEWs a Tootsie Pop in order to finish it, LICKing comes prior (but I had that old commercial in my head… you know, the one about how many licks it takes to get to the center).
Anyone here have a last name that means anything? I’m guessing mine means “Calendar Model” (since the surnames in the puzzle is what they definitely are not, that is).
One little nit: Would’ve liked to see the theme answers going down which would have jibed better with the title, in my opinion.