Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 441), “The Short Answer Is…”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! Hope all is well with you and, given the temperature projections the next couple of days, bundle up!!
Today’s grid features a theme reveal that I’m sure a number of you might have uttered when reading one of my blogs here on Fiend! The first four theme entries are phrases or nouns in which the first words of each can be combined to explain the recently popular shorthand TL;DR, or “too long, didn’t read” (68A: [Texter’s response to an overly-worded message (it’s spelled out at the starts of 16-, 23-, 49- and 57-Across)]).
- TOO HOT TO HANDLE (16A: [Like a really touchy discussion topic])
- LONG ISLAND SOUND (23A: [Body of water between New York and Connecticut])
- DIDN’T DISAPPOINT (49A: [Was enjoyable])
- READ ALL ABOUT IT (57A: [Phrase that follows a couple of extras?])
Did not expect to be inspired after solving a clue in today’s grid, but that was before I read the clue for ELEANOR (11D: [Roosevelt who said “You must do the thing you think you cannot do]). And extra points given for the Africa reference with ERITREA (40D: [Red Sea country]). There might have been one other time in which I remember seeing the avian-related clue for ANI, so, despite its short entry, took the crossings for me to get that (58D: [Blackbird]). At least the clue to MATISSES let me in on a couple of works in which I did not associate the artwork with its title until today (42A: [“Bathers with a Turtle” and “Blue Nude,” e.g.]). I’m sure there are a number of times solvers end up having an earworm when coming across a musical clue, and solving OF US should leave a number of people with the pleasant voice of Bill Withers in your head for a few minutes (53D: [“Just the Two ___ (Bill Withers song)]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LANE (10D: [Swim meet assignment)]) – It is not a stretch to say that NFL great Dick “Night Train” Lane was the greatest defensive back to ever play pro football. Playing 14 seasons from 1952 to 1965, Lane finished his career with 68 interceptions, with 14 of those coming in his rookie season for the Los Angeles Rams. (Those 14 interceptions in 1952 remain a record for INTs in a single season.) Lane, who also played for the Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions, made the Pro Bowl and was named a first-team All-Pro seven times, and he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Thank you so much for the time, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Evan Kalish’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Do Some Pull-Ups”—Jim P’s review
Jim P. here sitting in for Nate who’s out on assignment.
RAISE THE BAR [Set a new standard, and a hint to the circled letters] at 26d tells us that the circled letters in the long Down answers have to do with the word “bar.” And indeed, each of the hidden words (going upwards) can precede “bar.”
- 3d [Dessert with a meringue covering] BAKED ALASKA. Salad bar.
- 23d [“Waiting for Godot,” for one] TRAGICOMEDY. Cigar bar. I’m not familiar with a cigar bar since I don’t partake.
- 7d [Breakfast option containing ham and green pepper] WESTERN OMELETTE. Lemon bar. I prefer this spelling of the eggy dish.
- 10d [“To be opened in 50 years” cache] TIME CAPSULE. Space bar.
Works for me. Not overly thrilling, but not bad either. Strong theme answers.
Where the puzzle really shines is in the long fill: “WELL I’LL BE!”, ESKIMO PIE, RED STATER, GENOMES, SLIDESHOW, WHOLE NOTE, and IMMEDIATE as well as UTENSIL and POSTAGE. There’s a little bit of clunkiness in ELIM and TERR, but as abbreviations go, it could be worse.
Since I’m sitting in for Nate, let’s look at the female-to-male ratio in the grid. For the guys there’s IKE, Rob LOWE, fictitious MOE, ORRIN Hatch, a generic FELLA, and clue references to J. Edgar Hoover and no-show Godot. For the women there’s…*sound of crickets*. Not a one. Not even a reference in a single clue. Wow. That’s not good. It could be a whole lot better with a few changes to the grid, I’d bet.
That issue aside, the puzzle works quite nicely. 3.5 stars after I take off a couple decimal points for lack of female representation.
Gabrielle Friedman & Jakob Weisblat’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
You start a theme out with BI-CURIOUS and I’m sold! The revealer is [2000 ‘N Sync hit … or a hint to 17-, 26- and 45-Across], “BYE BYE BYE,” and those three themers start with homophones of bye:
- 17a. [Interested in experimenting sexually, maybe], BI-CURIOUS.
- 26a. [Stick with U.S.-made products], BUY AMERICAN.
- 45a. [Easily], BY A LONG SHOT.
Simple, and with fresh fill. Good Tuesday theme.
The constructing duo are making their joint debut with this puzzle (Jakob has published before), so it’s cool that they wrangled OVEN MITTS, VIDEOCHAT, GO BANANAS, and the heartbreaking PHILOMENA into their grid.
Did not know: 23a. [Experimental setting, as for a new initiative] is a TEST BED, apparently.
Seven more things:
- 43d. [Item with a dollar sign on it, in cartoons], LOOT BAG. Is that a thing, LOOT BAG? Not ringing a bell for me.
- 5d. [Elevate, redundantly], RAISE UP. I feel like this phrase has picked up more idiomatic uses, maybe more in African American speech or (per rapper Petey Pablo) North Carolina lingo? And it’s being used in the movement towards a $15 minimum wage.
- 21a. [What the thunk of a watermelon indicates], RIPENESS. Who’d’a thunk it? Great clue!
- 24d. [Like pink or purple hair], DYED. I’m getting fresh purple streaks tomorrow!
- 7d. [Shtalk like thish], SLUR. What? No. Who would add an SH sound to the beginning of talk?
- 54d. [Save for later viewing, in a way], TIVO. Quick survey: If you still use TiVo, please comment! If you are under age 30, have you ever even seen a TiVo?
- Not wild about fill like ROBING, LINE A, NOT PASS, GRAB AT, Spanish ARTE on a Tuesday, and the needlessly gendered IT GUY.
3.75 stars from me. You’re off to a good start, Gabrielle and Jakob!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Two Can Play” – Derek’s write-up
A little bit of a delay for me today; we got 8 inches of snow last night, and it is still snowing! This puzzle brings back to mind board games that I used to play! Not surprising, though, since Matt is around my age. Here are the theme answers so you know what I am talking about:
- 17A [What Chubby Checker tried to pull off with his hit?] TWISTER MONOPOLY
- 34A [Bad excuse for a vermin catcher?] SORRY MOUSETRAP
- 42A [What I can only hope for when writing this puzzle?] CLUE PERFECTION
- 60A [Difficulty identifying people?] GUESS WHO TROUBLE
Very nicely done! All of these are common games from when I was a kid! Maybe I should play these with my 7 year old son, but I am still knee-deep in Puzzle Boat 6! I am sure something like this theme may have been done before, but this was a fresh take on it in Matt’s inimitable punny style. A solid 4.7 stars for this one.
A few more notes:
- 16A [6-Down’s opposite] “I’M HOT” – 6D is [Cold reaction] BRR, so this is a nice constrast. It is snowing like crazy here in northern Indiana today, so I will gladly take an opportunity to say this!
- 40A [“A Whole New World” singer Bryson] PEABO – Wasn’t this a duet??
- 45A [“Arrested Development” actress Portia de ___] ROSSI –
- 53A [Rave genre, for short] EDM – As in Electronic Dance Music, of which I know nothing about!
- 56A [“___ Flux” (1990s MTV series)] AEON – This and the next one in my list are the obscure-pop-culture-refs-of-the-week, but I know them both!
- 9D [1996 Pauly Shore/Stephen Baldwin comedy] BIODOME – This movie was pretty awful. But most Pauly Shore movies were!
- 11D [“My ___” (“Hamilton” song early in Act I)] SHOT – I still haven’t seen this! It is still playing in Chicago, so maybe we will make a day of it soon!
- 13D [“Come Sail Away” band] STYX – Google the Eric Cartman version!
- 25D [Microsoft purchase of 2011] SKYPE – It is hard to forget that Microsoft bought this company years ago; it is plastered all over Windows. It was nice back in the day, but FaceTime is easier and there are many more options. But you still see videos on YouTube with people dialing in “via Skype,” so maybe it is just ME that doesn’t use it!
That is all for this week!
Kurt Krauss’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is a new name to me, but Kurt Krauss’ byline was in the database, so this is not his first rodeo. The trademark LAT revealer is at the end of the themers:
- 17A [*Big top] CIRCUS TENT
- 26A [*School keepsake] CLASS RING
- 37A [*”The Daily Show” network] COMEDY CENTRAL
- 50A [*2012 Channing Tatum film] MAGIC MIKE -I’ve never seen it!
- 60A [Show starter … and a hint to the answers to starred clues] OPENING ACT
Nice! I like how this, like many of these types of puzzles, leaves you hanging a bit until the payoff at the end of what the theme is.
- 19A [“The Handmaid’s __”: Atwood novel] TALE – I need to read this/watch the Hulu series. One of these days …
- 24A [Injured-arm support] SLING – Speaking of Sling, I use Sling TV for mobile viewing. It is the cheapest way to get the Tennis Channel on the go!
- 33A [Restaurant Arlo Guthrie sang about] ALICE’S – This is a tad before my time, so I don’t know this song that well, but it is certainly famous.
- 42A [Cosa __] NOSTRA – This is a mafia reference. This seems a little depressing, but there is no other way to clue this, is there?
- 3D [“The Merchant of Venice” heiress] PORTIA – I am much more familiar with Ellen’s spouse. (See the Jonesin’ write-up above!) I need to brush up on my Shakespeare!
- 47D [The “T” in NATO] TREATY – This is North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But you all knew that already!
- 48D [Toyota Prius, e.g.] ECO-CAR – I have a new Toyota, but it is not as eco-friendly as the Prius! It does have tons of room, though!
That is all! Everyone have a great week!