Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 431), “Odd Couples”—Ade’s take
Good day everyone! It is September, the greatest month of the year! Why? Well, my birthday is nigh! Shoutout to all the Virgos out there!
Today’s puzzle is fun with puns, as common phrases are reimagined using homophones that also happen to be the first names of two celebrities with the same first name.
- SKINNY GENES (17A: [Denim-loving (and svelte) Simmons and Hackman?]) – Skinny jeans.
- RICE PATTIS (24A: [University-bound LaBelle and LuPone?]) – Rice paddies.
- EASY MARCS (35A: [Good-tempered Chagall and Jacobs?]) – Easy marks.
- JUNGLE JIMS (47A: [Tarzan wannabes Carrey and Parsons?]) – Jungle gyms.
- BOWLING ALIS (58A: [Strike makers MacGraw and Larter?]) – Bowling alleys.
Outside of Sesame Street, probably the one entity that I remember more than anyone/anything while growing up and watching public television was BOB VILA, and I only wish I knew what he was talking about better back then so I can use those tidbits in my family’s new house (12D: [Original host of “This Old House”]). Sprinkling in some Hamlet with NUNNERY was a lovely touch in the grid (39D: [“Get thee to a ___” (Hamlet)]). Before I go on here, please PRAY (if in the event you are religious) for the people in the Bahamas and those in the direct path of Hurricane Dorian (27D: [Recite the rosary]). I’m sure there are a number of readers who reside in those areas, so please stay safe and let us know that you’re OK.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SARGE (20A: [Beetle Bailey’s boss]) – One of the lesser-known, yet very talented, father-son duos to play in Major League Baseball was the combination of Gary Matthews Jr. and Gary Matthews Sr., the latter known for having the nickname SARGE during his playing days in the 1970s and 1980s. The elder Matthews was the 1973 National League Rookie of the Year while playing for the San Francisco Giants and, in 1983, won the NLCS MVP when he hit three home runs and had eight RBI in the five-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sarge finished his career with 234 homers and 978 RBI and, for a number of years, was the color commentator for Philadelphia Phillies baseball games on television.
Thank you so much for the time, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Evan Kalish’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme revealer is 61a. ]One who catches up eventually … or a hint to the ends of 17-, 30- and 46-Across], LATE BLOOMER. The “late” parts of the three themers are flowers:
- 17a. [Excessively ornate writing], PURPLE PROSE, with a hidden ROSE.
- 30a. [Some sweet cocktails], BANANA DAIQUIRIS, with a hidden IRIS. Especially tricky to spot this one, since the pronunciations are so distinct.
- 46a. [Did something hugely risky], COURTED DISASTER, with a hidden ASTER.
It would have been neat if all three were fall flowers like the aster, but there aren’t any phrases of ≤15 letters that end with chrysanthemum and I’m not recalling a third famously late-in-the-season bloomer. (Irises are mostly spring, though I’ve seen them on rare occasions blooming again in the fall. And roses are mostly summer, though I’ve seen them still in bloom in a Chicago December in years with weird weather.)
That PURPLE PROSE reminds me that I neglected to call out the ungood entry PROSY in the Wednesday NYT last week. It’s a legit word, but one that is rarely used. Entries in this puzzle that I’m not wild about include CDT, PLAN A, SIB, APSE (hard for a Tuesday), “IT’S BAD,” and GOT NASTY. Those last two feel a little contrived to me, not quite grid grade.
Two more things:
- 36d. [Cheese whose name comes from the Italian for “sheep”], PECORINO. As in pecorino romano. There are other sheep’s milk cheeses with the pecorino name, and that Wikipedia article tells us, “In Sardinia, the larvae of the cheese fly are intentionally introduced into pecorino sardo to produce a local delicacy called casu marzu.” Yeah, they eat cheese that maggots have been softening up, and they eat it with the living maggots still in it. They do this knowingly, and not just on a dare!
- Booziness: BREWPUB, a drunken SLURring of words, an IPA, a round of STELLAS. The one who partakes might have DRONED ON and annoyed everyone, and felt some ILLS the next morning. Did they RUE and REGRET the evening before? Did their friends post video of them eating casu marzu?
3.5 stars from me.
Gary Larson’s Universal crossword, “Start Date”—Jim Q’s review
Very much wondering why this puzzle wasn’t slated for yesterday. On LABOR(ATORY) Day. OPENING DAY of baseball season would’ve worked too.
THEME: The “first few letters” (as per the revealer) of the theme answers are well known “days.”
18A [*Coat room?] LABORATORY. Labor Day.
- 23A [*Place where cabs line up] TAXI STAND. Tax Day.
- 37A [*McDonaldland politico] MAYOR MCCHEESE. May Day.
- 51A [*Arizona Snowbowl’s city] FLAGSTAFF. Flag Day.
- 59A [Annual ballpark occurrence, or a hint to the first few letters of each starred entry] OPENING DAY.
Hmmm. I’m having some issues with this one. Gosh, I hate to be negative, so I’m going to start with the positives.
MAYOR MCCHEESE is a great grid-spanner, even if it’s dated. And I mostly enjoyed the fill. I also liked trying to determine the theme before the revealer, which I couldn’t do. That builds a fun tension for me. When I can’t figure it out, it’s exciting. “What am I missing?” I ask myself.
The payoff here feels wonky though. The revealer itself asks the solver to examine an indeterminate number of letters (five is more than “a few” in my opinion… especially when it’s 50% of the ten-letter answer). Then there’s the inconsistency of the theme days in the entries themselves. In FLAGSTAFF, you can hear the word “FLAG.” It sounds like it’s its own word. But in LABORATORY you can’t hear “LABOR.” Also, while May Day is a thing, I more closely associate “mayday” as a cry for help.
There’s a bunch of different ways this theme could be approached consistently, so I’m having trouble determining why this was the chosen way. Why not just first word of a two-word theme entry can precede DAY? I can’t help but feel that this puzzle doesn’t pass muster. Also… seriously… why wasn’t this run yesterDAY?
A very rare 1.5 star rating from me.
P.S. How is LABORATORY a [Coat room?]? I understand the lab coat reference… but it still doesn’t make complete sense. I’m not sure why one of the theme answers would aim for a far-reaching cute clue when the others are straightforward.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Automated Response” – Derek’s write-up
The flavortext helps to show what is going on, which I admittedly didn’t see until I was done solving! It states: “sign your initials to prove you’re not real.” What does it all mean? The themers tell the story:
- 17A [Brewhouse offering] BEER ON TAP
- 31A [Aural entertainment now mostly obsolete] BOOKS ON TAPE
- 48A [Repertoire, so to speak] BAG OF TRICKS
- 65A [Winning once again] BACK ON TOP
It’s not too complicated: they all have the initials BOT, or what is going to take over your job in the next decade! That’s OK with me – I’ll just have to retire! Man, I am getting old. 4.2 stars this week.
A few more things:
- 1A [Wasabi ___] PEA – I think this sauce is made from sort of pea, right? It certainly does clean out the sinuses!
- 40A [“Champagne Supernova” group] OASIS – I only know two or three of their songs, but they are still catchy 20 years or so later.
- 69A [___ con pollo] ARROZ – This is rice with chicken in Spanish. I had to look it up!
- 4D [Tree of Life, in “The Lion King”] BAOBAB – Someone I knew from South Africa told me years ago that this tree looks like it was stuck in the ground upside down! Do you agree?
- 30D [“Ni ___” (“Hello” in Chinese)] HAO – This is one of my stock go-to Chinese phrases. I don’t know more than two or three!
- 32D [Leonard of the NBA] KAWHI – A unique spelling for sure. Will he be crossword famous in 75 years?
- 38D [They’re not too risky] SAFE BETS – Sit down for this: sports betting is legal in INDIANA! You can also buy beer on Sunday here now! What’s next, legal marijuana?? Wait a minute, let’s not get crazy!!
- 42D [“South Park” little brother] IKE – I haven’t watched this crazy show in quite a while, but it has some nearly Simpson’s-like longevity. How much longer will it be on?? imdb.com says it started in 1997, and is currently in Season 22!
Thanks for reading!
Winston Emmon’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
The constructor’s name was in the database, but it is a new name to me. At least I don’t recall seeing this name before. It didn’t seem to hamper the solve, as I got it done in well under four minutes. It is a Tuesday, though, so not too difficult. You might need the revealer to understand this theme:
- 18A [Redeeming quality] SAVING GRACE
- 36A [Paper for papers] NEWSPRINT
- 44A [Small museum piece] OBJET D’ART
- 63A [Citrus-flavored soda] ORANGE CRUSH –
- 69A [With 72-Across, evasive strategy … and a hint to the last several letters of the four longest Across answers] END RUN
I highlighted what the “end runs” are in the above themers: race, sprint, dart, and rush. Again, not too complicated, which is a good thing. I am tired from going to the Michigan opener on Saturday! I am too old for these activities anymore! 4.4 stars for this puzzle. Looking forward to seeing your byline more, Winston!
More high points:
- 43A [Chianti Classico, per esempio] VINO – This is straight Spanish, I believe.
- 67A [Poi source] TARO – Apologies to Hawaiians, but this stuff is nasty.
- 3D [__ Abby] DEAR – The original Dear Abby has been deceased for over 5 years now, but she hasn’t written the column for a while. explains a lot about that column and Ann Landers as well.
- 6D [“Whip It” rock band] DEVO – I won’t post that song here and get it stuck in your head!
- 19D [Wrap with tzatziki sauce] GYRO – I’m getting hungry for some reason …
- 27D [One at the head of the class] A STUDENT – Great entry. Not seen too often. Only 6 NYT hits.
- 28D [Round with four teams, say] SEMIS – Or last four players, as in the US Open Tennis tournament that is playing for semifinal spots this very day!
- 48D [They make an effort] TRIERS – Who says this??
Everyone have a great week!