Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 438), “Fluid Reasoning”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! The chill is definitely in the air in most places across the country, and here is hoping all of the crossword puzzle solving is keeping you a little warm during these chilly days!
Water is prevalent in today’s grid, with the first four theme entries featuring circles that, when filled in, are anagrams of the word “water.” The fifth theme entry, THE SHAPE OF WATER, acts as the reveal (60A: [Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning film of 2017…and a fitting puzzle title]). A good friend of mine told me a little while back that she loved the movie, but I never got a chance to see it since I rarely head to the movie theater.
- LOW RATE MORTGAGE (17A: [Affordable loan for a home buyer])
- KRISTEN STEWART (23A: [“Twilight Saga” actress whose favorite snack is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos]) – I want to say that it was two years ago when Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was one of the it-things for kids. Totally remember not going more than a day without hearing a reference to it.
- WET RAGS (39A: [Damp cleaners])
- HEART-WRENCHING (50A: [Like a four-hanky movie])
Can’t say that there were entirely NO WORRIES when tackling the grid (3D: [“That’s all right”]). Ran into a spot of bother at the end of my solve with the intersection of HATHA (50D: [___ yoga]) and ATRI (56A: [Longfellow’s “The Bell of ___”]). I’m pretty sure the latter was fill that I have entered in a crossword before and the former being a term that I probably have heard in passing once or twice, but couldn’t make things click with those two quickly when solving. CHRISTO also could have caused an issue, but had enough of its crossings filled to take a confident guess on that one (43D: [“The Gates” artist known for his “wrapping” style]). Loved the clue for TV MONITOR, and that’s not just because of my broadcast journalism background (35D: [The FCC?]). Interestingly enough, I am writing this blog on my old 2008 Apple MacBook (my trusted MacBook Air is in the shop at the moment), the model that came immediately after the IBOOK was discontinued (2D: [Old Apple laptop]). Probably thought about turning this MacBook in/selling it for about five years now, but just kept it around in case of emergency…an emergency that ended up emerging last month. Don’t you love it when a decision to keep something around, even if you really want to get rid of it, comes back to be a prudent decision?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LEMON (7D: [Yellow fruit]) – Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Lemon was instrumental in the Cleveland Indians’ last World Series title back in 1948, winning Game 2 and the series-clinching Game 6 of the series against the Boston Braves. Lemon made the All-Star Game seven times and led the American League in wins in 1950 (also led the league in strikeouts), 1954 and 1955. Lemon also managed in the Majors, leading the New York Yankees to the 1978 World Series title after Billy Martin was fired earlier in the season. Lemon was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.
Thank you so much for the time, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
17A: TOOTH DECAY [Dental problem (illustrated by this puzzle’s long Across answers)]
22A: TOOT ONES OWN HORN [Brag]
36A: TOO BAD SO SAD [“Tough turkey!”]
51A: TO THE MANNER BORN [Naturally suited]
59A: T BONE STEAK [Porterhouse kin]
As soon as I got to 6A [Quarterback Michael] VICK, I wanted to stop solving this puzzle. Truthfully, I only finished it because I needed to post a review for this puzzle here. To include him in the puzzle so innocuously, especially after such a highly publicized and well documented history of cruel, vicious dog fighting seems irresponsible at best. If there’s no other way to clue VICK than this, regrid that section of the puzzle. “Character Floss” seems like an apropos title for this puzzle for a few reasons.
Oh, the theme. The word TOOTH slowly decays by losing a letter with each successive theme entry. It’s a shame about 6A because the them is well done and takes up a lot of grid real estate without making the fill suffer that much.
Saul Pink’s New York Times crossword—Jim P’s review
Jim P here sitting in for Amy.
We have a debut here, so congratulations are in order. Congrats, Saul!
There have been numerous puzzles over the years riffing on famous peoples’ last names and what sort of occupation they would or wouldn’t be suited to. (Cruciverb lists at least three Sunday-sized grids that I could find.) So this isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, but there is one key difference in this grid, and that is that each last name is also a present-tense verb. That’s a nice touch of consistency. Also, at least one name here is a NYT debut (SEAN COMBS).
- 17a [Comedian who’d make a good pyrotechnician?] GEORGE BURNS. I’m doubtful that burning is the key aspect of a pyrotechnician’s job, but I get the drift.
- 24a [Supermodel who’d make a good broker?] TYRA BANKS. Maybe she’d make a better pilot?
- 35a [Activist who’d make a good valet?] ROSA PARKS
- 53a [Rapper who’d make a good barber?] SEAN COMBS. You may know him as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, or just Puffy or Diddy. Your factoid of the day (per Wikipedia) is that he was an altar boy as a kid.
- 61a [Actor who’d make a good dry cleaner?] JEREMY IRONS. In the grids that feature Mr. Irons that I could find, clues generally went down the golfing route. I like this change of pace.
Two women, three men. Two caucasians, three persons of color. It’s nice to see some variety of representation. No Guamanians though. But then, we have last names like Peredo or Gumataotao or Babauta. Oh yeah, and none of us is famous.
The fill is strong with this one with entries like ICE COLD, HOORAH, FOMENTS, TWINKLE, STARTLE, BREWERS, ABSCOND, SEA LEGS, AIR HOLE, and “IT’S ON ME.” It’s tough to have that much good fill when you have a 9-letter central entry effectively bisecting the grid and creating big, hard-to-fill corners. But by and large the fill is impressively smooth, IDED and EHS notwithstanding. Kudos on that!
But as a vertically-challenged 5-5er, I’m none too keen on SHORTIE [Nickname for someone under five feet]. At least I made the cut. But I’m surprised the NYT is including a clue here that I (and I presume others) would consider pejorative. And who spells it with an -IE? Isn’t there some other avenue of cluing for this word with this spelling? Perhaps a brand name or something? I think the best solution would be a slight re-tooling of that section.
One other clue of note: I haven’t kept up with Sesame Street since my daughter outgrew it, so had no idea that there was a [Muppet with a smartphone friend named Smartie]. This turns out to be ELMO who is purported to be about 3.5 years old, a little young to be owning a smartphone, don’t ya think?
A strong debut. 3.75 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Letter Imperfect” – Derek’s write-up
This Black Ink software is turning me into a faster solver! I got this solved in under 4 minutes, which is fast for a Jonesin’. You know how some letters sound like words? That is part of the gimmick this week:
- 17A [Skill at noticing things (or, Item of interest)] I FOR DETAIL
- 21A [Bad day at bat (or, One more than two)] O FOR THREE
- 38A [“Here, don’t get locked out” (or, Unlocking question)] U FORGOT YOUR KEYS
- 58A [Have a wide panoramic view (or, Country distances?)] C FOR MILES
- 64A [“Watch out” (or, Boded disaster)] B FOR WARNED
Note how the first letter is capitalized in the second part of each clue? I think the second clue is kind of treating the first letter as a synonym of the word after “for.” Or pointing out that initial? I am not explaining it well, but I hope that makes sense. Still a fun puzzle, and not too hard. 4.3 stars.
Some more cool stuff:
- 23A [British writer Ben known for his books of “Miscellany”] SCHOTT – Better than a reference to that crazy Reds owner Marge!
- 1D [Jennifer Garner spy series] ALIAS – I don’t think I ever saw one minute of this show. I wonder if it is on Netflix …
- 2D [Cinematic intro?] SOFT C – Clever!
- 7D [“Garden State” actor/director Zach] BRAFF – This is the guy that was on Scrubs, which I believe IS on Netflix and is still hilarious!
- 42D [Singer/songwriter Spektor] REGINA – Here we are getting into the obscure-pop-culture-references of the week …
- 55D [Toksvig currently of “The Great British Bake Off”] SANDI – … and this one I really don’t know, even though I HAVE seen this show several times. I just don’t know anyone’s name!
- 58D [2016 World Series champions] CUBS – Has it been three years already??
Another Jonesin’ coming next week! Winter is coming …
Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Speed! Sprinted through this one. Maybe I will keep using Black Ink as it helps my solving times! If only I could use it at the ACPT! The theme this week is not easy to figure out, which is why there is a revealer:
- 17A [Classroom text] SCHOOLBOOK
- 28A [Twinkling in the night sky] STARLIGHT
- 39A [Relief from the daily grind] TIME OFF
- 48A [Office spot with a coffee pot] BREAK ROOM
- 63A [Start of a sports season, and what each half of 17-, 28-, 39- and 48-Across can have] OPENING DAY
The customary LAT revealer lets us know that each themer word can follow day. Some of these are a little less used (day book? day room?), but most should be readily familiar to all (daylight, day break). It all works for me! 4.3 stars.
A few more things:
- 6A [Priestly robes] ALBS – This horrific example of crosswordese has not been seen by me for quite a while, but it is kind of needed in this area.
- 25A [MLB Network analyst Martinez] PEDRO – He is a great analyst. He has also put on a pound or two since he retired!
- 70A [Taiwanese PC maker] ACER – I actually had an Acer computer, and it is now 8-10 years old and still works!
- 2D [How software was once sold] ON CD – Ah, those were the days! Getting CDs in the mail relentlessly!!
- 26D [Diner] EATER – Not if you go to the diner for a cup of coffee!!
- 41D [Insects with a painful sting] FIRE ANTS – I don’t think these exist in Indiana. At least I hope not!
- 44D [Stylist’s supply] HAIR GEL – Haven’t used this stuff since, well, since I had hair, so for at least a couple of decades!
Have a great week!
Your complaint about SHORTIE might have resonated more a couple of weeks ago. Jose Altuve, 5’6″, 168, is on top of the world after his walk off home run against the Yankees to win the pennant for the Astros. He is my favorite player and I am certain I am not alone in that department. The general tenor of the comments is that he is small in size but with the heart of a lion and that he is one of the very best athletes in the world at any sport.
Fun puzzle. Nice debut.
WSJ: what does PWND mean?
It’s leetspeak for “owned.” It means to be utterly defeated, in a game or argument.
It is a video gaming term. P is next to O on a keyboard and resulted in frequent misspellings of OWNED meaning in substance that I beat you so bad that I owned you. Over time, PWNED became the word of choice to express that thought.
Thanks–Really flummoxed me–guess I have to quit living under a rock. (noobs was also new to me).
Also, Michael Vick did his prison time and since then has worked with the Humane Society to combat dog fighting. I guess some people don’t believe in redemption.
I agree David. Give the guy a break. It bothers me when negative comments have to be made about people used in crosswords. It seems that some people are just looking for a reason to get indignant. It’s just a clue and an answer. Move along. Nothing to see here. Find something that’s actually about the puzzle to comment on. That’s why I come here.
NYT: As the review said “there is one key difference in this grid, and that is that each last name is also a present-tense verb”…
so, to specify, it’s in the third person and ends with S, which I thought was a very nice touch.
I had always thought of SHORTIE as an affectionate nickname, but I can see how it would rub people the wrong way. I imagine labels that refer to physical characteristics are tricky… but I know a couple of red-headed guys called “Rusty”, where it is a childhood nickname. They seem happy with it and use it professionally. So, I guess the way people introduce themselves is our clue.
I agree that “shorty” is more common when referring to a height-challenged person. “Shortie”, however, could be clued as brief pajamas. Shortie pjs are a thing, at least for women, as are shortie underpants.
Thank you for this. That would have been a much better clue, IMO.
LAT: Still not working via the Cruciverb links. Today’s and yesterday’s puzzles are still not active. I’m logged in “forever” on Cruciverb but can’t access the puzzles. In addition to my default Firefox, I logged into Cruciverb on Edge and IE but no active puzzles. Any idea what is going on? Thanks…in advance.
Like I said yesterday, check the forum there.
Thanks for the advice, Glenn. I did try copying and pasting the text version into Notepad but couldn’t get it to work. And, honestly, I shouldn’t have to do this. Any idea when the Cruciverb LA Times puzzles will start working again as they are supposed to?
The process: Put it into Notepad, save as TXT then open with Across Lite…I gather if you’re on IPad it’s a lot different, but I can’t say I know anything about that.
I really have no clue. This happens very periodically, as (I gather) there’s a manual component to those puzzles that doesn’t always occur because the person to do it isn’t always there.
LAT: For the theme, I understand some terms are obscure, but what about “day star?” I can’t locate a definition.