Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 471), “Tripping the Light Fantastic”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! Here is hoping that you had a good weekend last week and, at the very least, were able to spend some time digesting the gravity of the protests and demonstrations across the country and the world, and proactive ways you can make any contribution to help us physically make that moral arc of the universe bend towards justice for good! OK, back to crosswords! (Also, thank you all for your patience in letting me vent on here last week.)
Today’s grid is definitely one that will make you DANCE, as each answer on the perimeter of the grid in this square-shaped grid is a word that can also be used as a type of dance (39A: [Square ____ (alternate puzzle title suggested by this grid’s perimeter)]). Question for all of you: Which of these dances mentioned are ones that you can do in your sleep, and which one(s) might make you end up eating a mouthful of pavement if you tried it?
- CONGA (1A: [Miami Sound Machine hit song]) – The Miami Sound Machine are one of the most underrated music acts of the 1980s. Don’t @ me on that!
- JIG (6A: [“The ___ is up!”])
- TWIST (9A: [Lemon-y martini garnish])
- TWO-STEP (13D: [Like instructions that contain Parts A and B])– Bonus SWMYS: One of the players who pioneered the crossover move in basketball is five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, and one of the nicknames for his move was the “UTEP Two-Step,” a name that, as you could figure out, includes the college that he attended. Beware of a diabolical crossword constructor in the making using “UTEP” in this fashion! (*Looks up in the air innocently*)
- BOLERO (51D: [Waist-length jacket with an open front])
- LIMBO (71A: [Transitional state])
- TAP (70A: [Beer keg spigot])
- TANGO (69A: [“___ and Cash” (1989 Stallone/Russell buddy cop comedy film])
- FOXTROT (42D: [Word that follows “Echo” in the NATO phonetic alphabet])
- CAN-CAN (1D: [Cole Porter musical with the song “I Love Paris”])
Very fun grid to solve once knowing the theme and, if you knew it pretty quickly, those answers on the perimeter probably fell instantaneously. Even with the high number of theme entries, still was room for some nice fill, from GET WISE TO (18A: [Become informed about]) to ALLEGRO, which once again reminds me to brush up on my Italian when it comes to music tempos (5D: [Briskly, in music]). Seeing the entire SANTA ANA spelled out was a welcome site as well (37D: [Seat of California’s Orange County]). Any crossword will always get extra points for African references, like SAHARA in this grid (44A: [Vast African desert]). There was a time a few years ago when I would describe the issues with my car as GOBLINS being inside, and I don’t know how/why I started to use that terminology (25A: [Mischievous sprites]). Just as soon as I started using that term, I think I ended it because I thought I was sounding way too much of a fogey for my age at the time. As of right now, there are goblins inside my knees after going on a four-mile run not too long before this blog! And by “goblins”, I mean, quite possibly, tendonitis.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: COOPER (20A: [CNN’s Anderson]) – There are few well-known sports figures with this surname, from former Milwaukee Brewers slugger Cecil to former Los Angeles Lakers forward and defensive dynamo Michael. We’ll spend time on women’s basketball legend Cynthia, the driving force of the Houston Comets as the team won the first four WNBA championships in league history (1997-2000). Even though she had Hall-of-Fame teammates in Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson by her side, Cooper won the WNBA Finals MVP in all four finals, and she also won the league’s first two WNBA regular season MVP awards. “Coop,” who attended the University of Southern California and later coached the Women of Troy (yes, “Women of Troy” is the nickname of USC’s women’s teams, with the men’s teams being “Trojans”), won the league’s scoring title in each of the league’s first three years.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Freddie Cheng’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s an odd theme, isn’t it? I’m not sure I’m grasping it fully, and it’s a Tuesday puzzle. The revealer is 31d. [Popular kids’ game … or a hint to 18-, 32-, 37- and 58-Across], GO FISH. The four long themers in this left/right-symmetry grid are:
- 18a. [Item in a game of jackstraws], PICK-UP STICK. This is terrible in the singular, as the game is pick-up sticks. Plus, they’re just sticks in the game of pick-up sticks, and not a “pick-up stick” and its colleagues. I don’t think this works as a noun, and as a fishing instruction, it wants an indefinite article.
- 32a. [Attempt to fix something and inadvertently make the situation worse], OPEN A CAN OF WORMS.
- 37a. [Go easy on the criticism], TAKE A SOFT LINE.
- 58a. [Join (with)], GET HOOKED UP.
So I guess GO FISH has nothing to do with the card game, and we’re to read the themers as a set of instructions for going fishing. I don’t think it works great.
Some of the fill felt like a bit of a reach for a Tuesday puzzle. ARCADIA, an AGATE marble, ODIC, FOTO?
Generally a dudely vibe in the puzzle: ORVILLE crossing RAVI, ERIC, and DRE; BON / JOVI, ANAKIN, ORR. Fictional Jane EYRE is about it for women.
Fave fill: NERD PROM, FROG KICK, AVENGERS.
2.75 stars from me.
P.S. Dictionaries can be years behind in reflecting actual usage. We see DO-RAG in crosswords and in Merriam-Webster, but the DURAG spelling predominates among those who wear one.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Reed All About It” – Derek’s write-up
I had a major brain cramp in finishing this puzzle. Look at all those error marks! I didn’t get the theme at first, but the flavortext, which says “at least one famous Reed,” is hinting at the fact that LOU is hidden in several common phrase, often to comedic effect!
- 17A [Someone who just likes the sky levels in the Mario series?] CLOUD PLAYER (cd player)
- 40A [Accepts emergency funds?] TAKES THE BAILOUT (takes the bait)
- 63A [Spoken sign from the rafters?] BANNER ALOUD (banner ad)
Well done. Only three, but still well done. Do you young kids even know who Lou Reed is? If not look him up! I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but having LIEU at 58A is a nice touch, giving you at least homophonically another “LOU” in the grid! Getting close to 1,000! 4.5 stars this week.
Some more stuff:
- 1A [How karaoke singing might go] OFF-KEY – Let’s hope not!
- 14A [Singer Watkins (aka T-Boz) of TLC] TIONNE – You young kids BETTER know this singing group. Great music from the ’90s, and still fairly relevant today.
- 27A [Machine that inspired separate rewinding machines] VCR – I haven’t seen one of these in ages!
- 34A [“Simpsons” character who was on Homer’s bowling team] OTTO – How many Simpsons characters are there?? It seems like there may literally be hundreds.
- 55A [2022 World Cup host country] QATAR – I wonder if the pandemic will be gone by then??
- 60A [Actor Fulcher of “The Mighty Boosh”] RICH – Yeah, I have no idea who this is. The hands down winner for the OPCRotW!
- 37D [Options for cereal, sandwiches, etc.] HOT OR COLD – Getting hungry …
- 63D [Ending for some commerce URLs] BIZ – I don’t see many
- 64D [Sudoku section] ROW – Matt, like me, is a fan of the YouTube channel Cracking the Cryptic, where they solve hard sudoku variants. Most of my family thinks I am nuts for watching them, and some of them are long and not as interesting as others, but for a nice mental challenge, try their puzzles. If you like crosswords, something tells me you might also enjoy this channel as well!
Everyone have a great week!
Kurt Mengel & Jan-Michele Gianette’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
How do I not know who these constructors are? I will admit I don’t know everyone who constructs, but I know a fair amount, and most everyone who is already in the constructor database on this site is a known entity to me. If this is a newer team, welcome to the world of setting, as the British would say! This is a fine Tuesday puzzle, that somehow made me hungry:
- 18A [Chat leisurely] CHEW THE FAT
- 28A [Refrain from saying something unpleasant] BITE YOUR TONGUE
- 46A [Fall into a trap] SWALLOW THE BAIT
- 61A [Have some humble pie] EAT YOUR HAT
Nice and simple. And of course the unifying thread in this theme is none of these things are actually edible. Hopefully! Quick solve for me, but that is ok on an early week puzzle. Nicely done! 4.4 stars for this one.
A few more things:
- 16A [Carne para un taco] POLLO – You should know this is chicken in Spanish by now. However, see 67A below.
- 20A [Suffer a power outage] GO DARK – My first thought was GO OUT, but that is a bit short. Fortunately, where we live, our power very rarely goes out, for whatever reason. We are in some sort of valley, which, as they tell me, helps slow major systems from causing too much damage. I’ll take it!
- 65A [“Goldengirl” star Susan] ANTON – She is almost 70 years old! Do you young people even know who this is? She was quite popular in the ’70s and ’80s.
- 67A [“Look, amigo!”] MIRA – I didn’t notice this during solving, but this seems like slightly tougher Spanish.
- 5D [Ohio State athlete] BUCKEYE – A painful clue for a Wolverine fan to see!
- 25D [Milk giver, in totspeak] MOO-COW – Do kids still say this?
- 59D [“Fantastic Beasts” actor Miller] EZRA – I know him better as the Flash in the DC Cinematic Universe!
I will stop here! Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
Warren Houck’s Universal crossword — “Owe Back”
O say can you see!
THEME: Added O to the end of a word in a common phrase leads to wackiness
- 18A [Brew to sneak into a caveman-style diet?] PALEO ALE.
- 24A [Skill with a green sauce?] PESTO CONTROL.
- 40A [Wrestling in a poorly lit dohyo?] DIM SUMO.
- 53A [Ruthless sports commissioner?] BASEBALL CAPO.
- 64A [Symbol on a sign at a Christmas tree lot?] YULE LOGO.
Classic theme type with an added letter- this time specifically placed at the ends of words, hence the title “Owe Back.” I liked most of the theme answers and found them lively, perhaps the exception being DIM SUMO (which is also the only entry where both parts of the phrase completely change meaning from the base phrase).
A bit of inconsistency with which word in the phrase gets the O treatment, but no big deal.
Once again, I’m seeing AXE clued with a [var.] Is this usually the case and I just never noticed? I don’t think of AXE‘s spelling as a variation at all!
3 stars from me.
Enjoy the day!
Agreed on the NYT review, the bottom right corner bugged me for a while because I kept trying “get hooked on” or “get hooked to” but that would leave me with “nerd nite” and “nerd orgy” neither of which sounded good or made any sense on the down.
I’m a bit annoyed about this Tuesday, didn’t enjoy the theme either, and not excited about the dudely vibe (I noticed it afterwards and felt grumpy) – glad you called it out.
NYT: I had not heard of NERD PROM in any context, and I don’t usually think of journalists as nerds to start with. But a little googling suggests I just haven’t been paying close enough attention. After NERD became apparent, I spent too much time trying to make “fest” work.
I agree with Amy that a singular PICKUP STICK doesn’t sound right, but granting the constructor a little leeway, I thought it was kind of a cute theme.
14-D adds a bit more gender equity.
I think the problem is compounded because “stick” is not a common synonym for fishing rod. Pole, ok, but stick? So the surface meaning is compromised by using an odd singular and the wacky meaning is kind of “huh?” as well.
The fact that this was the intro themer made for an odd solve for a minute.
Is TAKEASOFTLINE really an idiomatic phrase? Take a hard line, sure, but I’ve never heard the opposite.
And a ‘soft line’ doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the fishing context either. I like what the puzzle was going for but it doesn’t work, alas.
I agree with AOK about Miami Sound Machine
I really enjoyed xword nation this week, and thought it was smooth how the dances were worked in without referring to the dances themselves.
LAT: 61 a… I was stuck with “eat your cat” for the longest time because I was so sure and stuck on that 59 down was “scat” instead of “shoo”, so of course “hat” wouldn’t bubble up to the brain … LOL at me! I really wondered if “eat your cat” was in general usage somewhere for meaning having humble pie. The other crosses on scat did fix that of course.
Where is Nate’s review of 6/9 WSJ puzzle?? It shows in the list at top but is not included in the actual puzzle reviews. Is it my iPad or on your end? Should I ask what the letters ‘tk’ after his name mean?? Thanks.
“tk” is publishing jargon for “to come”
As we’re all volunteers here and have outside lives and obligations, sometimes we are not able to cover all the puzzles.
Thanks, pannonica. It sort of dawned on me while typing what tk could mean. I’m a relatively new visitor and enjoy this site so much. I looked for a glossary or FAQs, just in case. But my tendency when I hit a digital snag is to blame myself/equipment. ?