Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 472), “TOPsy Turvy!”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! Hope all is well as we turn the corner to the latter part of June and into the summer!
I’m probably not the only one who really enjoyed the theme once deciphering it. In the grid, four two-word theme entries are made into puns by creating an anagram of the second word that also is a type of hat. The theme smack dab in the middle, HAT TRICKS (three goals scored by an individual player in one game, particularly in hockey or soccer), acts as the reveal (36A: [Hockey feats…and an alternate puzzle title!]).
- LEAF BOWLER (17A: [Topper for a person using a noisy yard tool?]) – Leaf blower.
- STOCK TOQUE (23A: [Topper for a Wall Street chef who follows share prices?]) – Stock quote.
- ROGER BERET (50A: [Topper for a reviewer of French films?]) – Roger Ebert.
- WELCOME TAM (60A: [Topper for a greeter in a Glasgow Walmart?])– Welcome mat.
Had a somewhat embarrassing moment when I first put in “lentils” instead of LEGUMES, and now I should punish myself for having legumes in the next five meals that I eat (41D: [Ingredients in a vegetarian stew]). We had a lot of funny people featured that gave this grid a lighter side, starting with GILDA (1A: [Riotous Radner of “SNL fame]) and continuing one-time “SNL” cast member CHRIS (24D: [Rock who said “Comedy is the blues for people who can’t sing]) and frequent “SNL” host ALEC (62D: [62A: [Baldwin of “Aloha”]), with the funnies finishing up with the clue for KEN (38D: [“Community” actor Jeong]). There was also a chance to clue ANNA as Anna Kendrick to continue with that sub theme as well (16A: [“One True Thing”author Quindlen]). A number of places have experienced some serious heat before the official start of summer, so definitely time to be talking BTUS while possibly shopping for that new air conditioner (19A: [A/C measures]). At this time four years ago, the PANTSUIT was all the rage and a common topic of conversation (20A: [Two-piece businesswear]). Who would have thought then that the most important piece of clothing/covering four years from now would be the facemask? Sheesh! Wear that mask, people!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ESA (29D: [___-Pekka Salonen (Finnish conductor)]) – If we started this blog with hockey, might as well end with it, right?! One of the best defensive forwards (and agitators) of his time, former National Hockey League player Esa Tikkanen was an integral member of five different Stanley Cup-winning teams during his career that spanned from 1985-1999. Playing on the left wing, Tikkanen was the linemate of future Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri during the Edmonton Oilers’ run to the Stanley Cup in 1985, a season in which Tikkanen made his NHL debut during the playoffs and before playing in a regular season game. Tikkanen also won Stanley Cups with Oilers in 1987, 1988 and 1990, and with the New York Rangers in 1994. Tikkanen was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy three times, given to the NHL’s best defensive forward. (That award is different from award that is given to the league’s best defenseman, the Norris Trophy.) To really close this blog with a bow, Tikkanen finished career with eight career hat tricks, including one of the very few hat tricks ever scored in a Game 7 in NHL history, as his OT winner gave him his third goal of the game and the Oilers a series victory over their Alberta rivals, the Calgary Flames, in the 1991 Smythe Division semifinals — akin to the first round of the playoffs.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Alex Eaton-Salners’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme revealer is GRAY AREAS, clued as 61a. [Ill-defined situations … as seen four times in this puzzle?]. There are four 2×2 chunks that are shaded gray (represented by circled squares in the .puz version), with words traveling clockwise in those chunks: an INCH, FOOT, YARD, and MILE, as in square inches, etc., of area. The long entries aren’t thematic.
I’m all right with most of the fill around those GRAY AREAS in their symmetrical spots. ABSEIL ([Descend by rope, as in mountaineering]) is an awfully tough word for anything but a Saturday puzzle, and it crosses EELED, which I can’t seem to get Words With Friends to recognize as a real word (and it accepts tons of wildly obscure words!) The Hawaiian island NIIHAU crossing Japanese AHI and proper name RONCO could be a quicksand trap for some solvers.
Three more things:
- 39d. [Part of a hearing aid], EARPIECE. I’ve been wearing hearing aids for almost 30 years and I can’t say I’ve ever heard any of the components called an EARPIECE. (Earmolds and domes are the options.) Merriam-Webster can biff right off with that definition.
- 29d. [___ Kirk Christiansen, inventor of 55-Down], OLE. (55d is LEGO.) Had never heard of him before, but hey, it’s good to have an alternative to the Spanish exclamation and the Grand OLE Opry.
- 67a LAY ON crossing 52d FED ON, meh. Have you ever in your life used FED ON in reference to people? “The lion fed on a water buffalo,” sure, but “I fed on a bowl of soup for lunch” just sounds bananas. And I have never said I would LAY ON a coat of paint. Throw I’LL GO and ABSEIL into the same corner and BAH is what I’m saying. (And GO FOR dupes that GO.)
The longer fill’s pretty good—one FALSE STEP, BRING IT ON (another reason not to have those 5-letter ___ ON phrases in the grid), BEDHEAD, PHILLY. You could argue that the theme consists solely of a 9 and four triple-checked 4s … 25 squares in all.
3.3 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Memes”—Rebecca’s review
Each word in the theme answers ends with ME – giving us memes
- 18a [Finger-pointing exercise] BLAME GAME
- 23a [Sign hung up for a returning soldier] WELCOME HOME
- 38a [“I want ’em all! Don’t hog it!”] GIMME GIMME GIMME
- 48a [AABB or ABAB, e.g.] RHYME SCHEME
- 58a [8:00 to 11:00, typically] PRIME TIME
Fun theme and really smooth puzzle here. When I started, I thought the themes would be rhyming – giving the start with BLAME GAME but as I wen through the puzzle it became clear that that was not the case. That’s when the title clicked – Memes – indicating the ending of each word in the theme answers. I’m not sure if GIMME GIMME GIMME works quite as well as the two-word answers here, but I’m letting it slide because I enjoyed this one a lot.
Some really nice long down answers added to the enjoyment of the solve. RINKY DINK, JIM THORPE, GRANDMAMA, SOFT CLAMS, BMX RACING, and ALAMO DOME added to the enjoyment, and made the puzzle very connected which made the solve feel really speedy.
The rest of the puzzle fell easily enough that there were no answers that stuck out as particularly tricky. Anything that might have caused me pause in one direction was easy enough to solve going in the other. Overall, a great early week, easy puzzle to fly through.
While I have your attention – click here to donate to Black Lives Matter.
And here’s the ABBA’s GIMME GIMME GIMME
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “That’s the Joint” – Derek’s write-up
I am thinking this puzzle may be slightly inspired by Colin Kaepernick!
- 16A [Esoteric bit of pop culture that’s mired?] KNEE DEEP CUT
- 62A [Noodle dish that gears up for skateboarding?] KNEE PAD THAI
- 9D [Notes for sopranos that are only so tall?] KNEE HIGH C’S
- 28D [Protective covering that released Mega Man and Street Fighter?] KNEE CAP COM
We are adding a KNEE to several phrases, or, in another sense, “taking a KNEE” and adding it to the phrase. Well done, especially since Kap is back in the news recently after the death of George Floyd, which has definitely hit a nerve in this country, forcing some who previously staunchly disagreed with the former QB’s stance to actually champion his return to the NFL. We will see if that will happen, because I still think football is unlikely, but there is too much money at stake to not barrel forward, virus or not. A timely theme, one that even has ME spewing out words! 4.7 stars for this one.
Just a few more things:
- 23A [Burger topper] RELISH – Nobody puts relish on a burger, do they??
- 43A [“Angels and Earthly Creatures” poet Wylie] ELINOR – I’ll bet there aren’t many more who spell their name like this. This qualifies for the OPCRotW!
- 66A [“Layer Cake” actress Sienna] MILLER – This actress was in many other things; I don’t know this particular movie at all. Here Wikipedia page is posted here.
- 26D [2008 Pixar film about a robot] WALL-E – I JUST NOW saw this movie for the first time. Disney+! It was actually really good.
- 44D [Granola concoction, in some places] OAT BAR – This is technically true. I don’t think I use this particular phrase, but I think I have eaten several!
- 60D [“Knives Out” director Johnson] RIAN – This movie was stellar. If you haven’t seen this yet, drop what you’re doing and watch it now. It might be free somewhere at this point. If that is the case, I may re-watch it!
I will stop there!
Frank Virzi’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is another unfamiliar byline to me, but a clever puzzle nonetheless. We have some circles to intrigue the solver, with the last theme entry being the revealer:
- 20A [Tenderloin often served with Béarnaise sauce] CHATEAUBRIAND
- 33A [Rockies resort town] VAIL, COLORADO
- 41A [Sub on a plate] HERO SANDWICH
- 56A [Biblical phrase in Lincoln’s historic 6/16/1858 speech, and what each set of circled letters contains] A HOUSE DIVIDED
We have hidden in the circles a cabin, a villa, and a ranch. Nicely done. Very simple, and not too complicated. Which is a great thing on a Tuesday! Nice puzzle, Frank! 4.4 stars from me.
Some more interesting stuff:
- 15A [Georgetown athlete] HOYA – This reminds me of the sports that still aren’t happening. Will sports be back this fall? Again, I highly doubt it, but we shall see.
- 46A [Court players’ gp.] ATP – Another sports group are tennis players that don’t want to play unless conditions are better. Can’t say as I blame them. The only major not yet cancelled this year is the US Open, and that may not be happening either.
- 1D [’70s-’80s scandal that inspired “American Hustle”] ABSCAM – This is slightly tough, but if you saw this movie that may have helped.
- 2D [Lepidopteran foe of Godzilla] MOTHRA – This character makes an appearance in the newest Godzilla movie, but not quite as an enemy of the big lizard! Watch it for yourself, if you can stand it, because it isn’t the best movie you’ll ever see by a long shot!
- 21D [Yours, to Yves] ATOI – Know your French!
- 50D [Danish seaport] ODENSE – Know your obscure European cities!!
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
NYT: I guess having circles in the online versions (.puz) totally blows the theme. I just stared at the finished product and then vaguely intuited that they must be in gray in another version…
In Across Lite, there was a note that explained the circles vs. shading thing. But I almost never look at the note until I’m done solving, so while I had noticed that the units of measures were squares, the revealer wasn’t very meaningful to me, either.
I thought it was a pretty good puzzle, but it was surprising to find two entries on a Tuesday that were utterly unfamiliar to me – NIIHAU and ABSEIL. DRE DAY was new, too – but I don’t necessarily expect to know rap music answers, regardless of the day of the week.
Many years ago, my girl friend was an ethnic Chinese lady from Malaysia, If she was happy, she greeted me with Ni Hao (sp.?), which she said meant “You are Good.” I think this was so as to contrast with “Ni Poo Hao” which meant “You are no Good.” As it turns out, most online sources say Ni Hao means hello and I haven’t found a link to Ni Poo Hao yet.
NYT: I liked the puzzle. On the iPad there were indeed “gray” areas. And all such quaint units of measurement.
Are we supposed to interpret the GRAYAREAS as square inch, square foot, and so on? That only occurred to me after staring at the puzzle for a while. Seems like a tricky theme for a Tuesday, and it really didn’t add anything to the solve.
CROSSWORD NATION 65A:
Yikes! PBS is the Public Broadcasting SERVICE – not SYSTEM.
The distinction is important because PBS was set up to facilitate distribution and marketing of programs produced by member stations (in service to the stations, and with no obligation for individual stations to broadcast them) rather than as a traditional hierarchical network that produces programs and then feeds them stations who have a contractual obligation to to broadcast them.
I think one hour in her bedroom catching up on New Yorker issues (no note-taking allowed) would be an appropriate sentence for Liz to atone for her rare error. :)
NYT Natnick? Iguanadon and Uriel took me out. Rosin vs Resin did not help either. DNF a Tues!
Nyt: rondo, Ni’ihau and abseil on a Tuesday: seriously?
NYT: Too many really ugly answers. No redeeming aspects to this puzzle. It would be bad no matter what day of the week it ran. Iguanadon, Niihau, abseil, Miyagi and dreday are ridiculous for a Tuesday. Tgel??!
Good to come here and hear other’s similar thoughts as mine about the NYT. I told my husband this morning how I could not believe this was a Tuesday. He looked up at me with blank stare and smile. Looked back down at his paper, not really caring or understanding my ruffled feathers over a puzzle. So good to come here and commiserate. But I love Alex, I really do.
WSJ: I’ve never heard of Rod Carew described as a “slugger.” 92 home runs over 19 seasons?