Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 468), “Vetting the Stage”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! One more day in the life of living under quarantine and shelter-at-home orders! Hope you’re all doing good.
Today’s crossword puzzle theme is all about a simple letter replacement, as five two-word nouns are turned into puns by replacing the word that begins with letter “s” with a similar-sounding word, but one that starts with the letter “v.”
- VANITY CHECK (17A: [Self-test by an egocentric egotist?]) – Sanity check
- PLASTIC VIRGIN (23A: [First-time user of a Visa card?]) – Plastic surgeon
- FLIP FLOP VANDALS (37A: [Destroyers of cheap summer footwear?]) – Flip-flop sandals
- VEX THERAPIST (47A: [Irritate behavior counselors?]) – Sex therapist
- RUMMAGE VAIL (59A: [Comb through a Colorado resort?]) – Rummage sale
Only little quibble with the grid is with redundant nature of the middle theme entry (flip flops/sandals), but that didn’t take away from the solving experience. Seeing both PARISIANS (34D: [Montmarte residents]) and METRO take my mind away to France, and hoping a getaway to Europe is in the cards sooner rather than (much, much) later (31A: [Urban newspaper section]). Monday marked Haitian Flag Day, so seeing HAITI almost felt like much more than just a coincidental appearance (12D: [Port-au-Prince’s nation]). Also got a chance to learn something completely new with the entry of SARTO (15A: [Italian painter Andrea del ___]). Time for some food, and seeing PITA reminded me of a couple of of my favorites food joints in college, Pita Pit, where I ordered more steak and cheese sandwich pitas than probably any human can consume during a semester in my junior and senior years (22A: [Hummus scooper]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RFK (59D: [Washington D.C.’s ___ Stadium]) – Home to the Washington NFL team since its opening in 1961 until 1996, RFK Stadium was one of the first “cookie-cutter” stadiums in pro sports, built in a wide circular shape so it could host both baseball and football. (Many other “cookie-cutter” stadiums — like the Houston Astrodome, Three Rivers Stadium on Pittsburgh, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati — soon followed in mimicking RFK’s design so it could host multiple tenants in different sports. My memory of RFK, which is still standing despite not having an official tenant at the moment, is walking the catwalk in between the press seating area and the media workroom. Almost came down with a case of acrophobia when first walking it and familiarizing myself with the stadium!
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful — and safe — rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Ade/AOK (10D: [Fine, to NASA])
Trent Evans’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
We’ve got a Tom Swifties theme today, with the clue/answer combos that are more amusing than stale Tom Swifties we’ve seen too many times. Most or all of these were new to me (your mileage may vary):
- 17a. [“This hot dog is absolute perfection!,” said Tom ___] WITH RELISH. Eww, pickles. You can have mine. Take the mayo, too. And don’t get me started on tartar sauce.
- 24a. [“You’re making a grave mistake,” said Tom ___] CRYPTICALLY.
- 38a. [“I can’t find a flower for ‘She loves me, she loves me not,'” said Tom ___] LACKADAISICALLY. Ha! This one’s my favorite. It’s also the last one I solved, so it felt like the constructor saved the best for last even though the entry is in the middle.
- 47a. [“I’ve learned my lesson about feeding the tigers,” said Tom ___] OFFHANDEDLY. This is not an invitation to discuss Tiger King.
- 61a. [“Many thanks for your help in Paris,” said Tom ___] MERCIFULLY. My second favorite themer here.
Fun theme for a Tuesday.
There’s some fill here that definitely feels out of place in a Tuesday puzzle, though. OASTS, OCHS, INRI, and possibly SISAL, BESOT, and DICTA? Oof.
Four more things:
- 23a. [Opposite of FF], REW. I suspect that any remote controls that have buttons labeled REW and FF are quite old, and are paired with antiquated TVs. Typically you see the double-arrow icons in either direction in lieu of those abbreviations. Heck, I even checked eBay for vintage tape recorders, and most of those have the icons, too. Constructors! Please consider removing REW from your word lists.
- 2d. [Perjury or piracy], CRIME. Unless you’re Michael Flynn, maybe?
- 3d. [View in order to mock or criticize, perhaps], HATE-WATCH. Great entry. The other 9s are good, too: PLOT HOLES, BEAM ABOARD, and TAKE THE RAP. BEAM ABOARD makes me remember Badger’s Star Trek pie-eating contest story from a Breaking Bad episode I watched yesterday. Clip below (with adult language).
- 13d. [Like New England fields], STONY. You don’t say. Is this at all common knowledge outside of New England?
3.5 stars from me.
Debbie Ellerin’s Universal crossword — “Bedhead”
A puzzle with two revealers! The title, and 36D!
THEME: Theme answers (running “down”) begin with bed sizes.
- 3D [*Longest venomous snake] KING COBRA
- 33D [*Heads of colonies] QUEEN BEES
- 6D [*1987 Vietnam War film] FULL METAL JACKET
- 8D [*TV show whose third season aired more than 25 years after its second] TWIN PEAKS
- 36D [Cuts back, and a hint to the starred answers’ starts] DOWNSIZES
Very much was not expecting the second revealer DOWNSIZES, so that was a pleasant surprise, though I should’ve been suspicious with the direction that the theme answers were going! I’m fairly certain I’ve seen the “bed size theme” before, perhaps more than once, but the DOWNSIZE aspect gave it a unique twist.
Some fun with the cluing, and a few oddities in there. The former includes 68A [Word that sounds the same if its first or second letter is removed] SCENT (I like these types of clues) and 64D [Ending for brown. or rice.] EDU (cute). A bit of weirdness with… oh wait, now I get it… I initially thought the both words were included in the quotes for 1A [Says “Who?”] ASKS. Now that one makes perfect sense! However, it’s hard to get excited over [California congressman Ted] LIEU. Definitely see LIEU in crosswords often, but is congressman Ted crossworthy? It’s a new name to me.
3.8 Stars. Have a good day!
Fred Ohles’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
20A: ROLLING STONE [Item that gathers no moss, illustrated by the circled letters] – STONE
30A: DIAL TONES [Phone sounds] – TONES
38A: LONE STAR STATE [Texas] – ONEST
46A: WINE STORE [Bottle shop] – NESTO
58A: GALVESTON BAY [Inlet close to Houston] – ESTON
In quit atypical fashion, the revealer to this theme is first, but that’s to allow the STONE to roll throughout the other theme answers. I really enjoyed the attention to detail in this theme – it’s not just STONE anagrammed differently each time. With each themer, the first letter rolls to the back: STONE -> TONES -> ONEST -> NESTO -> ESTON. “On the Move,” indeed!
Loved: INPATIENTS, LEBRON, CHEETO, YOYOMA
Didn’t love as much: URI, PSEUD, NRA, LESE, relatively few women in the puzzle
This constructor isn’t a name I recognize, but his puzzle has intrigued me enough that I’ll be on the lookout for more! Even with a bit of crosswordese, the puzzles was a smooth and enjoyable solve for me, and I found myself looking forward to how the STONE would roll!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Books I Didn’t Finish” – Derek’s write-up
We have books that we didn’t finish – the titles of!
- 17A [Start of a best-selling 2003 Mark Haddon title] THE CURIOUS INCID – ent of the Dog in the Night-Time
- 33A [Start of a time-traveling Mark Twain title] A CONNECTICUT YAN – kee in King Arthur’s Court
- 42A [Start of a Fannie Flagg title (the movie title being shorter than the book)] FRIED GREEN TOMAT – oes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
- 61A [Start of a classic 1972 Judith Viorst kids’ book title] ALEXANDER AND THE – Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
These books all have really long titles, and I’ll bet you may not have known one or two of them, but that’s OK! Believe it or not, during this isolation period, I have hardly cracked a book to read! I should remedy that later tonight! 4.4 stars for another stellar Jonesin’!
Just a couple of things:
- 16A [Baltimore player] ORIOLE – Remember baseball?
- 40A [Colin, to Tom Hanks] SON – No word on whether Colin was infected with COVID-19!
- 49A [Run off to get married (wait, how would that work these days?)] ELOPE – People are still getting married these days, albeit to smaller crowd!
- 26D [“___-A-Lympics” (1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon)] LAFF – These old cartoons are hilarious! I wonder if this is on YouTube …
- 34D [Winner of the most French Open singles titles] NADAL – Remember tennis?
- 53D [Candidate who dropped out in February 2020] YANG – Andrew Yang seems soooo long ago … and it wasn’t that long ago!
- 55D [Blocks that inspired an animated Batman movie] LEGO – Something else to watch!
I will stop here, since I am way behind in getting this posted!
Adrian Kabigting’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Do we have a debut puzzle? This name was not in the database! If so, congrats! This is a fine puzzle, and should be easily solvable if you’ve ever seen a computer!
- 17A [It may provide arch support] SHOE INSERT
- 22A [First house] STARTER HOME
- 45A [Skill of elite WNBA players] BALL CONTROL
- 59A [Emergency exit with a ladder] FIRE ESCAPE
- 37A [Internet troll, slangily … and a hint to the ends of 17-, 22-, 45- and 59-Across] KEYBOARD WARRIOR
Yes, some of these keys are abbreviated in actuality (CTRL, ESC), and there is no HOME key on a Mac (at least not on mine!), but you get the idea. Nice and not too complicated for a Tuesday! Congrats again on the debut, if congrats are in order! 4.3 stars today.
Just a few more items:
- 10A [SpongeBob SquarePants’ boss, e.g.] CRAB – This cartoon is over twenty years old. Amazing!
- 20A [“Good Hands” company] ALLSTATE – The guy in the commercials is Dennis Haysbert. He’s been in a lot of other stuff in film and TV.
- 6D [Photo-sharing app, briefly] INSTA – I am old; I don’t “Insta” very much or very well!
- 12D [2007 Alicia Keys album that won three Grammys] AS I AM – Great album by one of my favorite musicians.
- 43D [Neatnik’s possible condition, briefly] OCD – Only possibly! Not everyone has OCD issues if they have a neat house. Nicely worded clue.
- 49D [Midafternoon hour] THREE – I wrote TWO PM in here. Overthinking!
Have a safe and healthy week!