Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 448), “Opening Numbers”—Ade’s take
It’s New Year’s Eve, everyone! Here is hoping that you’re doing well and that you’re ready to get down and boogie on the dance floor with Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs as we get set to ring in 2020!!
Speaking of 2020, each of today’s theme entries starts with a number and, when put together in order, spells out the YEAR that we are just hours away from officially being in (70A: [Happy New ____! (the starts of four answers spell out the numbers on your party hat)]).
- TWO EGGS OVER EASY (1A: [“Uncomplicated” breakfast order]) – I’ll have my eggs scrambled, thank you very much!
- ZERO STAR REVIEWS (27A: [Restaurant owner’s least-favorite pans?])
- TWO INCOME FAMILY (47A: [Dual paycheck household])
- ZERO MOSTEL ROLES (63A: [Tevye (in “Fiddler on the Roof”) and Max Bialystock (in “The Producers”), e.g.])
For the longest time, I held out from having an online money transfer account at places like PAYPAL, but finally gave in about a couple of years ago (20A: [Online purchase method]). Like many other things I held out on doing until much later, I now wish I had signed up for it sooner because of the convenience. We have some serious revolutionaries smack dab in the middle of the grid, with CASTRO (24D: [Cuba’s Fidel]) crossing SEALE, whose name I don’t remember ever seeing in a crossword that I’ve solved before (36A: [Bobby who co-founded the Black Panther Party]). I think I’ve heard of the ROCCO in question once or twice in passing, but his name didn’t ring a bell when coming across the clue and needed the crosses to get it (29D: [Celebrity chef and cookbook author DiSpirito]). Though it’s definitely not baseball season yet, we have a baseball reference in ALOU (35A: [Moises or Felipe of baseball]), but the next graph delves into some hardball more by talking about one of the game’s greatest hurlers…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FELLER (49A: [Guy, informally]) – It is without a doubt that one of the greatest baseball players of all time was a Cleveland pitcher named Bob FELLER, who led the American League in wins six times and in strikeouts seven times in a career spanning 20 years (1936-1956) and interrupted when he served as a Chief Petty Officer on the USS Alabama during WWII. Amazingly enough, Feller skipped the minor leagues and made his debut with Cleveland at 17, at a time when feared hitters like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were wreaking havoc on pitchers in the Junior Circuit. An eight-time All-Star known for his blazing fastball, Feller threw three no-hitters and an astounding 12 one-hitters during his career, one which was memorialized in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Take care, and Happy New Year!!
Evan Kalish’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Another New Year’s resolution theme, on the heels of the Sunday puzzle. You know what I don’t do? Make New Year’s resolutions. Anyway … the revealer is 61a. [Common New Year’s resolution — as hinted at by the answers to the four starred clues], LOSE WEIGHT. God, what a shitty resolution. Losing weight won’t change you and it won’t change your life. It’ll just change your clothing size. Anyway … The first themer includes POUND and the subsequent three themers lose one letter at a time:
- 17a. [*Currency replaced by the euro], IRISH POUND.
- 31a. [*Decorative garden feature with fish], KOI POND. The U is gone.
- 37a. [*Almost-identical pair, figuratively], TWO PEAS IN A POD. Did you realize that most pea pods include more than just two peas? Where is the “like four peas in a pod” phrase in our language?
- 43a. [*It flows through Turin], RIVER PO.
Really a quick solve. Monday’s was extra-fast, too.
Been a while since I did a Bechdel crossword test. Here we have HONUS Wagner, a random DADA, SOUSA, and Conan O’Brien in the TEAM COCO clue. Also Goya in the ALBA clue, fictional Crusoe in the MAROONED clue, fictional James BOND, up against Patricia NEAL, Duchess of ALBA (rather than contemporary actress/entrepreneur Jessica Alba), fictional Disney cartoons ARIEL (here’s a Dean Friedman video for Jenni) and ANNA (what, there was no actual human ANNA that would work here?), and Justice ELENA Kagan. –7, +5, that’s a minus 2. Bzzt. DADA could have been swimmer DARA Torres crossing a TASER to even things out.
Entries I’m not sure pass muster: 13d. [Subtle acknowledgments], SLY NODS, and 38d. [Silently bids adieu], WAVES BYE. Wave bye-bye and wave goodbye feel better to me.
Fave fill: BOOGIE, TRICOLOR, TEAM COCO.
Overall, let’s call this one 3.75 stars, not subtracting much for the IRE at touting the LOSE WEIGHT New Year’s resolution.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “You Turned Up” – Derek’s write-up
When I first saw this puzzle, I thought my computer has errored out and messed up its font!
- 16A [?keep a kaenS] LOOK THE OTHER WAY
- 26A [?loot s’tsirucinaM] BACK-UP FILE
- 39A [With 49-Across, ?retsis s’anereS] VENUS IN RETROGRADE
- 64A [?rekrowoc s’rotcudnoC] REVERSE ENGINEER
How well can you read backwards? The clues read [Sneak a peek], [Manicurist’s tool?], [Serena’s sister] and [Conductor’s coworker?]. Very clever, if not for the initial shock value of thinking your file is corrupted or your computer has a virus! Nice way to end the Jonesin’ year! still in countdown mode to puzzle #1000; this is puzzle #969, so sometime this summer! 4.5 stars for this one.
- 14A [“The Beatles at ___ Stadium” (music documentary)] SHEA – Billy Joel also has a Shea Stadium concert film, and we are going to see Billy Joel at Notre Dame this coming June. I cannot wait!
- 55A [Birch of “Ghost World”] THORA – I remember this actress from American Beauty, so nice to cite something else she was in. Harder, but nice to see.
- 58A [“Flashdance” director Adrian] LYNE – Definitely the obscure-pop-culture-reference-of-the-week. And there aren’t many ways to clue this name! This may, in fact, be the ONLY way!
- 4D [Onomatopoetic name for motorized rickshaws] TUKTUKS – I believe you.
- 5D [First N.L. player to hit 500 home runs] OTT – I just realized: I have no idea what Mel Ott looks like!
- 25D [Baby Yoda, eventually (one presumes)] JEDI – Yes, if you haven’t heard, this is the star of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus. Not a bad show. Season 1 just completed, and there will be a Season 2 sometime in 2020. Are TV seasons easier to watch (or even make) when they are only 10-12 episodes instead of the standard network 22-24? Times are definitely changing as far as how TV is consumed.
- 26D [Prime minister between Major and Brown] BLAIR – How did I forget who this is so quickly?
That is all!
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This was a fun puzzle, but I thought the theme was going somewhere other than where it did. First, here are the theme answers:
- 18A [Remote control insert] AAA BATTERY
- 26A [Grievance filed with a consumer protection org.] BBB COMPLAINT
- 49A [Spec for a large loafer] EEE SHOE WIDTH
- 63A [Firefox or Chrome] WWW BROWSER
I thought the puzzle might have CCC and then DDD, but how would you clue either of those?? And even then, what other letter triplets would even work? I am not sure I can think of one! Maybe XXX, but that is not the best entry in a puzzle! 4.4 stars from me.
A few more things:
- 32A [Palindromic supermodel] EMME – I don’t think there is another famous person with this name, is there?
- 33A [Sevilla’s country] ESPAÑA – Sevilla is also one of the top teams in Spain’s La Liga soccer association. But most everyone only knows Real Madrid and Barcelona. As of this writing Sevilla is in third place, behind the two teams I just mentioned!
- 57A [The tiniest bit] ONE IOTA – This is a more popular entry than I thought, but it does have a ton of vowels in it!
- 3D [Rights org. since 1920] ACLU – I am sure we will be hearing about the 100th anniversary of this group, if we haven’t already, in the coming year. Meaning tomorrow!
- 24D [Holmes and Poirot] SLEUTHS – Two of my favorites from literature!
- 30D [Adorns with Charmin, for short] TPS – I have never done this. I am not that mean!
- 51D [Up the creek] IN A JAM – Or [Like a strawberry in a jar]! (Insert rimshot here.)
Everyone have a great holiday and a great rest of this week!
Blake Slonecker’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
Happy NYE! Today’s WSJ puzzle, entitled “A Sign of the Times (Square),” seems like it might be relevant to tonight’s festivities – let’s find out!
1A / 3D / 20A: GO BALLISTIC (GOB + the BALL of BALL DROP + LISTIC) [Lose it]
4A / 8D / 22A: HIGHBALL GLASS (HIGHB + the BALL of BALLPARK + LGLASS) [Gin fizz holder]
51A / 34D / 64A: WATER BALLOONS (WATERB + the BALL of SKEEBALL + LOONS) [Summer projectiles]
52A / 37D / 65A: POWER BALLAD (POWERB + the BALL of MOTHBALL + LAD) [Softer part of hard rock]
3D: BALL DROP [“Auld Lang Syne” trigger, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]
Each of the four theme entries drops at the word BALL in one of the downs and then turns back to finish in an across entry that is simply clued as [CLUED ELSEWHERE]. Wow! What a fantastic puzzle that is so smoothly executed – there were no dregs in this puzzle, which is tough to pull off in a grid this packed with theme! Maybe SEAWAR was my only small issue? I am incredibly jealous that I didn’t come up with / execute this puzzle – super kudos to the constructor.
Other random thoughts:
– I enjoyed the MAT / TATAMI pairing and felt the GOP / REP pairing was fair.
– [Lord’s lackey] for SERF is … quite generous to the lords.
– Is EMMA literally the only woman in this entire puzzle? So many dudes all over this puzzle and only EMMA for the women. If I had any major ding against this puzzle, that’d be it. Here’s hoping for more inclusion in 2020 – if you can’t fit women in the grid itself, don’t forget that you can always be much more inclusive in the cluing!
Winston Emmons’ Universal crossword, “Jump Start”—Jim Q’s review
Nothing very New-Yearsy going on here, unless of course we’re looking to “jump start” 2020!
THEME: Phrases where the first word is a synonym for “jump.”
- 17A [Post-winter restlessness] SPRING FEVER.
- 29A [2020, for one] LEAP YEAR.
- 47A [Seedy pubs] DIVE BARS.
- 63A [With no chance of success] BOUND TO FAIL.
Sure! This works. Though SPRINGing, LEAPing, and BOUNDing seem like a different way of jumping than DIVing. And BOUND TO FAIL is an outlier grammatically (the others are noun phrases).
Fave fill included MINI-SERIES, SKI RUN, and EARFUL. I also really like the clues for ANDRE [Name hidden in “Italian dressing”] and DIE [A side of one looks like [: :]]. Clever!
- 33D [Wine at many New Year’s Eve parties] ROSÉ. Maybe this needs a “perhaps,” perhaps? Feels like it’s trying too hard to be a New Year’s clue. I’ve never been at a New Year’s party where ROSÉ was the choice POTABLE. Prosecco and champagne seem to have a more solid relationship with New Year’s imo.
- 61D [Put on the schedule] SLOT. This doesn’t strike me as a verb. I can hear SLOTTED (“We’ve slotted you for a 5 PM appointment”… I guess). But SLOT feels more nouny to me.
DANA Point was new for me [Orange County’s ___ Point]. I live in Orange County, NY, where West Point is familiar. For a moment, I was excited that our county was getting crossword attention! Nope. It’s always California!
3 stars from me.
Enjoy your festivities! And your bottles of ROSÉ!