Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 424), “One Giant Leap”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! Here is hoping all is well and that you’re staying warm in the heat! Also, for those in the path of Tropical Depression Barry, here is hoping that you all are doing as well as can possibly be, given the circumstances.
Fifty years ago today (July 16, 1969) was when the Apollo 11 launched, and in a year where we celebrate the golden anniversary of the moon landing, we have a very detailed crossword puzzle for you highlighting some of the people who became well-known after its successful mission. (Of course, so many more people were crucial to the mission’s success, especially women such as the lead biomedical engineer for that mission, Jody Sullivan, and the trio of Poppy Northcutt, Joann Morgan and Margaret Hamilton, who were the women that were depicted in the movie Hidden Figures.) Another neat thing about the puzzle is that there are circles in the grid when, starting with the letter “A” and connecting the circles alphabetically, form the shape of a crescent moon. Lastly, the “eagle” in THE EAGLE HAS LANDED is inside of the moon, acting as Apollo 11 landing on the moon in the grid (68A: [103-Across’s message to NASA on 7/20/1969]).
- BUZZ ALDRIN (21D: [Apollo 11 astronaut who piloted the Lunar Module])
- MICHAEL COLLINS (22A: [Apollo 11 astronaut who piloted the 37-Across])
- COMMAND MODULE (37A: [See 22-Across])
- EAST CRATER (69D: [Early name of a lunar area photographed by 103-Across])
- NEIL ARMSTRONG (103A: [Apollo 11 astronaut and mission commander])
- FLY ME TO THE MOON (122A: [Sinatra song associated with Apollo 11 (complete the puzzle, then connect the dots alphabetically to see where 68-Across])
Wonderful grid to solve, especially given the historic nature to this week. Only spot of bother came with the intersection of STANA (83D: [Actress Katic of TV’s “Castle”]) and RAPP, but guessed correctly on that one because I had believed that I heard of the latter before a couple of times and remembered the spelling of his name (97A: [“Rent” star Anthony]).
The event (moon landing) occurred just over a decade before I was born, so, obviously, all my memories of the mission has come from textbooks and videos seen that recounted the famous launch. Nevertheless, like so many, just learning about the fact that a spacecraft made it all the way to the moon was awe-inspiring. Not that I knew that I was taking being an astronaut for granted, but just looking back at the number of people who initially dreamed about being an astronaut and put that on their elementary school yearbooks, and the impact the Apollo 11 mission had in making that happen, is just a wonder. I would love to know any memories that any of you might have of when you first came across the story of the Apollo 11 mission, especially if you were alive when the mission first launched from Kennedy Space Center and, eventually, became a success.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BECK (7D: [Guitar virtuoso Jeff]) – There have been only nine players in the history of the PGA Tour to have had a round where they shot under a 60 in a round (playing fewer than 60 shots to complete a round of 18 holes). One of those occurrences came in the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational, where Chip Beck had a third round in which he carded five pars and 13 birdies (a PGA Tour record for most birdies in a round).
Thank you so much for the time, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!!
Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
There’s just one overt theme entry in this puzzle: 52a. [Structures illustrated twice in this puzzle through both black squares and letters], A-FRAME BUILDINGS. We somehow have two such buildings stacked together, which seems architecturally unsound if you ask me! The A-frame shapes of the black squares in the top middle and in the center of the grid have their interiors lined with the letter A, 18 times over. So there’s both an A-frame shape and chunks of the grid that are “framed” by the letter A. The two unchecked/uncrossed letters get their second confirmation from the A-centric theme.
What else? I wonder if the puzzle might have benefited from a less ambitious diagram—breaking up two or all four of the 11s into pairs of 5s. Because that 1-Across is pretty bad, sort of last-ditch fill: 1a. [Start of an incantation], ABRA. Other awkward-for-Tuesday fill includes A TOI, weird spelling EENSIE, the spelled-out ampersand in J AND J, EBAN, ALEE, and AMAT. Maybe also ANNEALER, T-TOP, ACELA?
Three more things:
- 19a. [Land made for you and me, in a Woody Guthrie song], AMERICA. This was echoed in today’s “Squad” press conference, in which AOC recounted learning as a child visiting D.C. that all of this was hers and all of ours.
- 29a. [Lawn game banned in 1988], JARTS! Aka lawn darts. This entry has appeared in several crosswords, and yet there is no JORTS in the Cruciverb database. Constructors, do you even have this word in your word list, or in your brain? Add it!
- Fave fill: 48a. [Embarrassing fall], FACE-PLANT. Please share your best face-plant anecdotes in the comments.
A sort of flat 3 stars from me.
Jeff Eddings’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
17A: MIDNIGHT SKY [Dark overhead expanse]
25A: ROYAL BABY [Meghan and Harry’s Archie, for one]
37A: ELECTRIC LIGHT [It flickers with a flick]
50A: NAVY CADET [Midshipman]
60A: COBALT STEEL [Tough drill bit material]
What “Blues Duets” do we have in this puzzle? Well, each themer is made up of not just one, but two shades of blue! All ten words in the themers are types of blue, which feels quite lovely to me as a theme set, as I can’t imagine there are many more two-word phrases that accomplish this. Sure, ELECTRIC LIGHT feels ironically like an old-timey phrase and COBALT STEEL seems oddly specific, but it works. I also appreciated that SAD was simply clued as [Blue] – nice touch.
Other random thoughts:
– I’d never heard of VOODOO economics before. According to the interwebs, it is a seemingly conservative term for “an economic policy perceived as being unrealistic and ill-advised, in particular a policy of maintaining or increasing levels of public spending while reducing taxation.”
– The OZMA / BANZAI crossing was a Natick for me, though I guess I could have intuited Oz for OZMA.
– Women represented in this puzzle? Princess OZMA, Megan Markle (as a mother), kick-ass boxer Laila ALI, and actress Cameron DIAZ. Not bad – though, as is almost always the case, there were more men referenced in the puzzle than women.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal Crossword, “Animalistic”—Judge Vic’s write-up
THEME: Five two-unit animal compound words that already have one meaning are, with the addition of an apostrophe and a space, repurposed into possessive phrases. So, ….
- SHEEPSHEARING becomes [What a call from Bo Peep depends on?] SHEEP’S HEARING.
- PIGSWILL becomes [Proof of Wilbur’s bequest to Charlotte?] PIG’S WILL.
- A HORSESHOE becomes a [Gardening tool in a stable?] HORSE’S HOE.
- DEERSKIN becomes [Elk, e.g.?] DEER’S KIN.
- TORTOISESHELL becomes [Fate for a wicked Galapagos animal?] TORTOISE’S HELL.
Clever. Enjoyable. No excess of marginal stuff.
Not much else to cite, although my fave in the non-theme fill is
[11d Biblical clipper?] DELILAH, whose short-term sweetie, Samson, is the only biblical character to be a judge, a puzzle constructor, and a mass murderer. To say nothing of his contributions in the area of road rage!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “I’m Feeling It” – Derek’s write-up
The revealer is in the middle of the grid, and it made me look back at what exactly I had filled in. It put me “in a mood,” but it was a good one!
- 18A [Hunting lodge decoration] MOOSEHEAD
- 20A [Author whose highly anticipated sequel “The Testaments” comes out in September] MARGARET ATWOOD
- 54A [Request at a hair salon, maybe] MAKE ME LOOK GOOD
- 60A [Someone born under the sign Cancer, in astrology] MOON-CHILD
- 39A [Emotional … or how the four theme answers are presented?] IN A MOOD
I chose another color for the letters in MOOD, if you didn’t pick up on it. This surely is a theme you don’t really notice while solving. At least I didn’t! But I am also oblivious to a lot of things; just ask my wife! I suppose I should read The Handmaid’s Tale, or at least watch the Hulu series, before September, since I think I am one of the few people in this country who hasn’t done either! Nice puzzle, Matt! 4.4 stars this week.
Some more interesting points:
- 16A [DuVall of “21 Grams”] CLEA – Another figure in pop culture I don’t know. I looked at her imdb.com filmography, and I haven’t seen anything she was in, including the Oscar-winning Argo.
- 37A [“Bohemian Rhapsody” star Malek] RAMI – This I DID see, and it was quite good.
- 48A [“The Prophet” author Kahlil] GIBRAN – This guy is only crossword famous to me. Perhaps I should read this book?!
- 3D [Petri dish gel] AGAR – Standard crosswordese here, but that’s OK!
- 11D [Muffin topper?] OLEO – I had this as OREO at first, but then I saw OREO at 63A, so a change had to be made!
- 33D [“Jeopardy!” all-star Mueller] PAM – Is she famous enough for a puzzle? I think so, especially for the crossword crowd!
- 36D [Like lovestruck eyes] GOO GOO – I’ve had goo-goo eyes for someone before; this isn’t always a good thing!
- 54D [“Straight, No Chaser” jazz pianist] MONK – This one confused me momentarily, because I know the a cappella group Straight No Chaser, but that is not what is being referred to here!
Another Jonesin’ next week!
Jennifer Lee & Victor Galson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We definitely have two names I have never seen before, and they were not in the constructor name database on this site, so if this is a debut puzzle by either of these two, congratulations! To get what is going on with the theme, you have to do a small amount of anagramming, but it doesn’t appear too difficult:
- 17A [“La La Land” Oscar nominee] RYAN GOSLING (angry)
- 25A [Obsolescent coin-op communication device] PAY PHONE (happy)
- 47A [Secondhand rides] USED CARS (scared)
- 55A [Eerie stillness] DEAD SILENCE (sad)
- 34A [What a bittersweet moment may evoke … and a hint to each set of circled letters] MIXED FEELINGS
The circles letters anagram into the words in italics above, thus giving us four examples of “mixed feelings.” If this is in fact a debut, it is a great debut puzzle. It certainly didn’t “Tuez!” 4.3 stars from me.
Just a few more things:
- 52A [Dr. Seuss’ real last name] GEISEL – I remember the books he wrote under the pseudonym Theo LeSieg, which are as vivid in my memory as any Dr. Seuss book!
- 4D [Jazz ensemble instrument] TENOR SAX – Had me for a second until I realized this was two words!
- 7D [__ on the wrist] A SLAP – This has a few NYT hits, but none in the last 12 years. I don’t mind it, but it probably isn’t ideal. But it crosses two themers, and this may be one of the better options.
- 11D [Snack for Bugs] CARROT – If you know me, you know I detest Disney, but I LOVE Looney Tunes! Bugs Bunny is still the best. (Although I wonder if Disney has purchased their rights, too, like they have everything else!)
- 13D [Drank daintily] SIPPED – Like Alex Morgan after beating England in the FIFA Womens’ World Cup!
- 32D [Menzel who voices Elsa in “Frozen”] IDINA – As mentioned, I am not a Disney fan, but Idina Menzel can certainly sing.
- 36D [Custard-filled pastry] NAPOLEON – Getting hungry …
- 44D [Netflix competitor] REDBOX – Are they going to transform from a DVD service into a media monster like Netflix? You can rent movies digitally on their site, so maybe it is headed that way. I don’t even have a functioning DVD player in my house other than on my desktop computer!
My next LAT post is this Saturday.
I thought the NYT was going to be a moon landing tribute puzzle with a rocket. Even the As looked like little rockets. I enjoyed the A-frame theme, though; it felt fresh and lively.
I like grid art, so the NYT and the Crossword Nation were both fun, and I’m glad that they had different themes. Like Ade, I was stuck at the intersection of STANA and RAPP, but I guessed an incorrect E there.
NYT: I really enjoyed the NYT today and gave it a high rating. I understand that there were some compromises along the way. I saw the A frames in perspective, lower in front, taller in back.
Here’s what’s weird: On the left side, the A’s for the top frame continue all the way down, continuing the line from the peak. Not so on the right side. I actually filled all these A’s once I tumbled to theme, and they made it go faster. But it didn’t work to fill them on the right. I wonder if that caused some of the lower ratings?
That definitely stood out to me as well. I wouldn’t have minded if they didn’t extend the As all the way, but since they did it on one side, it was very odd to not have symmetry on the other side.
Dissenting Opinion to follow: NYT was sub-par (Such irony in that expression) today. Horrid fill to make it (not) work, made-up stuff, cr*p thematic and art … I’ve come to expect Tuesday to be FUN! FUN! FUN! not ICK! ICK!I CK!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH was missing
So was HAAAAAAAAAAAAAH
Or: AAAAAAAAAAAAACK (Cartoon Cathy having a rullllllly bad day)
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Mine was the low vote, lamenting I can’t punish-vote, it just isn’t in me, even in my Goooooogle Reviews, where I never give more than a ** but read the * reviews first.
I probably liked WSJ more than most. I love the colour BLUE.
VOODOO Economics shows my age, maybe better than the mirror.
Cheers, in good fun.
I thought the NYT had a potentially interesting theme idea, but in execution it ended up being pretty “meh”. Lots of junky fill, odd revealer in AFRAME *BUILDINGS* (as opposed to “HOUSES”), where a less common appellation was used in order to force a grid-spanning revealer. Ultimately it just seemed like too many compromises were made here.