Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 474), “People Skills”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! Can you believe the Fourth of July is about to be upon us this Saturday?! Well, depending on where you live, you can totally believe it because of the incessant fireworks going off in neighborhoods all across New York City every darn night!!!!! Is this happening in your city/neighborhood as well?
Today’s grid features the repackaging of common phrases by using a homophone to replace one of the words in the phrase. The homophone also happens to be the last name of a well-known public figure, as suggested by the cluing of each theme entry.
- ROLLE OVER (17A: [Transfer an IRA, à la “Good Times” actress Esther?])
- SNOWE UNDER (25A: [Overwhelm, à la former Maine senator Olympia?])
- CRUZ THROUGH (36A: [Travel quickly, à la “Volver” actress Penelope?])
- SINGH ALONG (49A: [Perform in a community choir event, à la golfer Vijay?])
- CARREY OUT (59A: [Pick up a restaurant order, à la “Liar Liar” actor Jim?])
Depending on where one falls on the political spectrum and/or their penchant for giving credence to conspiracy theories, one can have a field day talking about this grid, with the likes of OBAMA (51: [44th president]), SOROS (19A: [Philanthropist George]) and CDC being entries (1A: [Org. concerned with COVID-19]). Love the timeliness of MEREDITH in the grid given the recent news that the Magnolia State legislature has passed a bill to remove the Confederate Flag emblem from its state flag (11D: [Civil rights activist James ___, first African-American to attend the University of Mississippi]). About two weeks ago, one of the top college football players in the country, Kylin Hill of rival Mississippi State University, made headlines across the country by stating that he would not play for the school as long as the Confederate flag remained a feature on the state’s flag. Make fun and/or dismiss sports all you want, but Hill’s public stance, in addition to the general unrest and national reckoning of having to consistently confronting systemic racism for actual change to take place, was instrumental in the state’s representatives finally tackling this issue and making this long-overdue change.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TAB (54A: [Restaurant check]) – One of the great soccer player to ever put on a United States jersey, former midfielder Tab Ramos is currently the head coach of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. Born in Uruguay, Ramos played on three different FIFA World Cup teams for the US Men’s National Soccer Team, and finished his international career with 81 “caps” (appearances in international play) and eight goals. On Jan. 1995, Ramos was the first-ever player to sign with the Major League Soccer, America’s top-level soccer league that began play in 1996.
BONUS: The National Women’s Soccer League got underway this past weekend, the first American sports league to resume play since the coronavirus-induced shutdowns of sports leagues in the U.S. One of the teams in the league is SKY BLUE FC, headquartered in Harrison, N.J., a stone’s throw away from Newark (29A: [Azure]).
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Flying Colors”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Things with FLAGS (60a, [What all of the starred answers have]).
- 16a. [*Hole setting] GOLF GREEN
- 19a. [*Place for post on a post] RURAL MAILBOX
- 34a. [*House holder] CAPITOL BUILDING
- 52a. [*Place with pits] AUTO SPEEDWAY
- 56a. [*Army communication?] SEMAPHORE
Odd that this theme occurs approximately two weeks after Flag Day. But it works as a theme for solvers who need it to.
Not a whole lot of sparkle outside the theme, unless you count LACTAID and HAIR OIL. The former is a product we use in our family. Not so the latter. I wonder what the average age is of those whose first choice was HAIR GEL vs those whose first choice was HAIR OIL for the clue [Pomade’s kin]. MAYHEM is a nice word, and I like DEFRAY because it doesn’t mean what you would think it means at first glance.
Everything else from SEDATES to ASSAYED to TRUSSES to ISOBAR to RETEAM to PRAISER feels workmanlike. 3.3 stars.
Zachary David Levi’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme topic today is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and 6/30 is the 40th anniversary of her confirmation as a federal appeals court judge. She’s far better known for serving on the Supreme Court since 1993, of course. Here are the themers:
- 17a. [2018 biopic about 54-Across], ON THE BASIS OF SEX. I enjoyed the movie.
- 22a. [Brooklyn neighborhood where 54-Across grew up], FLATBUSH.
- 34a. [Tongue-in-cheek nickname for 54-Across], THE NOTORIOUS RBG.
- 47a. [Law school where 54-Across finished at the top of the class], COLUMBIA. Despite the faculty having it in for female students, she thrived.
- 54a. [Subject of this puzzle, who once said “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”], JUSTICE GINSBURG.
Nice quote in the 54a clue, but that isn’t her name, and the grid would be better with a 13/8/8/13 theme set that moves “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” to the clues. Not that it was difficult with the cross-referenced clues—any RBG fans will have caught on quickly.
I’m not keen on the grid having those 8×6 corners, particularly since it means there are four nonthematic 8s running Across and making the 8-letter themers fade into the background. There’s no reason for a Tuesday puzzle to strive for a word count of 74, especially not when it means you end up with RUNS RIOT crossing RUN-UPS, a glaring duplication. (The I’M OUT / I CAN’T overlap is subtler.) ANISETTE feels awfully obscure for Tuesday solvers, as does the airline ASIANA.
Three more things:
- 33a. [Subatomic particle named for an Indian physicist], BOSON. Is that where the word came from?! I did not know that. Or if I did learn it, I’ve since forgotten. An homage to Satyendra Nath Bose.
- 1d. [Oktoberfest toast], PROSIT. Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit, if memory serves. A toast to good cheer. Just … don’t do your toasting at a bar, without a mask.
- 33d. [Places dogs go at cookouts], BUNS. Hot dogs, not pet dogs.
3.5 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Gilded Age” – Derek’s write-up
The grid image today is from the Mac version of XWord, which I like a lot. I used to use it quite a bit on my PC, but my old computer died and I haven’t installed this on the new one yet. XWord solves .jpz and .rgz puzzles, which is handy! Thanks to Matt Gritzmacher’s list for the heads up that this was available. For this puzzle, the themers are “surrounded by gold,” as the flavortext says. Literally.
- 17A [Turn-of-the-century style] ART NOUVEAU
- 28A [Romantic duet in “The Phantom of the Opera”] “ALL I ASK OF YOU”
- 48A [Where to order individual items] A LA CARTE MENU
- 65A [Super Mario World 2 character that pops up from underwater] AQUA LAKITU
The symbol for gold is AU, and each of these theme answers starts with an A and ends with a U, for clarity. My wife is a big fan of the music in “Phantom”, and when I showed her this theme entry she immediately started singing! For that moment of joy, 4.6 stars!
Nothing too obscure this week! But there is this:
- 19A [___ Stanley Gardner (author whose Perry Mason character inspired the 2020 HBO series)] ERLE – Perry Mason is now an HBO series. It seems dark …
- 24A [Vowel sounds in “naysay”] LONG A’S – Nicely done. Better than a partial phrase fill-in-the-blank clue!
- 43A [Hitchcock film named for a gem] TOPAZ – Another movie to watch! This self-isolation stuff isn’t going away any time soon. The ACPT is now officially cancelled for this year, and rescheduled for next April I believe. Check your social media.
- 7D [“Voulez-vous coucher ___ moi ce soir?”] AVEC – This is a line from “Lady Marmalade” by Patti LaBelle back in the day. It is French for “Do you want to go to bed with me tonight?” Yes, it is about New Orleans prostitutes. You have learned somthing from this blog, if you didn’t know that already!
- 34D [“La Dolce ___” (Fellini film)] VITA – ANOTHER movie to watch! Don’t think I have ever seen this one.
- 47D [Gourd used in some Thai curries] PUMPKIN – I did not know this. Time to do some food research …
Finally, here is a clip of Andrew Lloyd Webber from YouTube recently that highlights the song mentioned above!
Steve Mossberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
The revealer is at the end of the puzzle, and does a nice job of tying together the seemingly unrelated theme entries:
- 17A [Open-air alehouse] BEER GARDEN
- 21A [Taunting banter between players] TRASH TALK
- 35A [Topper for a conspiracy theorist] TIN FOIL HAT
- 42A [Faux bronzing technique] SPRAY-ON TAN
- 56A [Traditional St. Patrick’s Day slice] SODA BREAD
- 62A [Kitchen gadgets, and what the starts 17-, 21-, 35-, 42- and 56-Across are] CAN OPENERS
Easy peasy! It looks a little overly simple on retrospect, but I had no idea what the theme might be while I was solving, so kudos for a clever gimmick. Nice and easy on a Tuesday! Can you think of any others? I thought possibly of GAS can, but those are mostly plastic these days! (I am showing my age!) 4.4 stars.
A few more things:
- 23A [Green eggs lover] SAM I AM – Still a classic after all these years.
- 45A [Add, as a column of numbers] TOT’ UP – I feel like this needs an apostrophe here. And I never hear this, but still gettable.
- 2D [High-speed Northeast train] ACELA – Do you east coast people use this train a lot? We don’t have this service here. We barely have Amtrak anymore; it is waaaay overpriced.
- 27D [__ Féin] SINN – Know your Irish political factions!
- 30D [Noted Silicon Valley journalist Swisher] KARA – I actually know who this is! She was just on Bill Maher’s show a few days ago.
- 57D [Leslie __ Jr., portrayer of Burr in “Hamilton”] ODOM – Hamilton will be on Disney+ on July 3, or in like 3 days! Looking forward to this one: another movie to watch!
Please have a safe and healthy week!