Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 484), “Pick Your Poison!”—Ade’s take
Hello everyone! Hope all is well with you and, if you’re in the Golden State, hope you all are staying as safe as possible with the wildfires and extreme heat causing such chaos.
In a possible tribute to Bell Biv DeVoe, today’s crossword includes five them entries in which the second word is also a word that can come after the word “poison.”
- HALLS OF IVY (17A: [University])
- ROYAL OAK (25A: [Michigan birthplace of Tom Hayden and Sam Raimi])
- THE BIG APPLE (34A: [Nickname for New York])
- YMA SUMAC (50A: [Peruvian-born “Tumpa” singer])
- ALISON PILL (58A: [“Three Tall Women” actress who played Maggie Jordan on “The Newsroom”])
Probably the only entry in which I would have needed the crossings was the final theme entry (Alison Pill), but knowing the theme before getting to that clue made guessing her last name much easier. You could make the argument there’s a little bit of commonly-used slang, with FIVE-O (8D: [“Hawaii ___” (CBS police drama)]) usually being a colloquialism for the police, SNEAKS (13D: [Soft shoes]) for sneakers and WASUP for a hello, though you’d probably see that with two s’s (21D: [Didn’t sleep late]). Did not get to see the Kentucky Derby this weekend and catch the LAUREL put around the winning horse, Authentic (55D: [Winner’s wreath]). Probably my favorite clue was for the entry HEIRESS (27A: [Trust-worthy woman?]). To boot, sending a big thank you towards the sky to REGIS, one of the all-time greats in television in the 20th century who left us last month (54A: [Legendary talk-show host Philbin]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HOOSIERS (35D: [Gene Hackman sports film set in Indiana]) – Capturing how much the game of basketball means in so many communities in a basketball-crazy state, the 1986 film Hoosiers is based on the 1954 Milan High School (IN) basketball team that won the state championship game on a game-winning shot that took place inside Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis. The movie’s climax was shot in the same building, and the character named Jimmy Chitwood (played by Maris Valainis) makes the buzzer-beating field goal in the 1952 state championship game. In the actual championship game, which was played in 1954, it was Bobby Plump who made the game-winning shot, which was virtually from the same spot on the court as depicted in the movie.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Trent H. Evans’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “See It Through”—Jim P’s review
If you were with me last week, you may remember we were road-tripping from Tacoma to Denver to see our son off for his third year at college. Well, the return trip began today, and it saw a 60º temperature drop from the 90s in Denver to the 30s in northern Wyoming. Crazy!
Anyway, our theme today involves X-RAY VISION, which I sure could’ve used while driving through snow flurries on I-90. Synonyms for “see” are found in the circled squares broken up by a block. The revealer at 63a, clued [Superpower represented by this puzzle’s circled squares] is our hint that we should find a word meaning “see” going through a block. Cute.
Our “see” words are PEER (BUNNY SLOPE / ERLE), LOOK (WENT SOLO / OKIE), STARE (GANGSTA / RED ROSE), and GAZE (OLGA / ZERO DOWN).
A theme like this doesn’t involve much wordplay, but for the most part the entries involved with the theme are interesting and well-chosen. And the X-RAY VISION conceit is a nice touch.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard KARATE DOJO as a phrase, but I guess there are more kinds of dojos than those dedicated to karate. Of course, NINCOMPOOP is loads of fun, and ENIGMA makes me think of codebreaking as well as the 90s musical group.
Cluing was pretty straightforward, making for a relatively speedy solve.
Kevin Christian & Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
When doing an easy, early-week puzzle, it’s not hard to fly past some clues that aren’t necessary to finish the crossword. So I missed the little cute extra here: The theme topic is the movie Psycho, which is split in the grid with double Korean action: 4d. [“Gangnam Style” performer], PSY + CHO, 60d. [Comic Margaret]. (Side note: PSY feels a little dated as fill now, since he hasn’t had any mainstream U.S. hits in 6 years (and no new records since 2017), but Korean pop music (K-pop) is big among the teenybopper crowd and the boy band BTS’s song “Dynamite” is #1 now. Just so you are in the know, I have included the video below! Wowwwww, I am so not the target audience.
But I digress. The rest of the theme has the quote “A BOY’S BEST FRIEND / IS HIS MOTHER,” as spoken by ANTHONY / PERKINS as NORMAN BATES in the ALFRED HITCHCOCK classic. The movie was released, says the Hitchcock clue, 60 years ago today. (Raise your hand if that makes you feel old.)
Fave fill: TAGLINE and AGE OUT are all that jumped out. Having 70 theme squares doesn’t leave much space for focus on the non-theme fill. The three add-ER nouns are all not great: POLER, TANNER, APER? Meh. (GAINER and NEATER are fine.)
Three more things:
- 6d. [Like macho push-ups], ONE-ARM. Ugh, “macho.” Single-arm pushups don’t connote machismo, they show muscle strength. And women can have that, too.
- 52a. [Sound of a fife], TOOTLE. We’ve learned from the NYT Spelling Bee puzzle that FIFING is a thing but you won’t find LUTING or some other instrumental gerunds on the answer lists.
- 64a. [___-Z (classic Camaro)], IROC. Oh, joy. A designation added to the name of the Chevy Camaro car model from 1985-90. How relevant.
On the representation front, the only women in the puzzle are Eartha KITT, EDNA Ferber, Margaret CHO, and the painted Duchess of ALBA. A rather guy-filled crossword, with the theme being so heavily male too.
2.75 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Report Card” – Derek’s write-up
The flavortext says “How did we do?”, and the grades are in the puzzle!
- 39A [Kiddie lit web spinner who gets a B?] GOOD CHARLOTTE
- 3D [Singer Cocker who gets a C?] AVERAGE JOE
- 7D [Billionaire Branson who gets an F?] POOR RICHARD
- 11D [“Dilbert” cartoonist Adams who gets an A?] GREAT SCOTT
This grid is in such an odd shape I feel like I maybe missed one! The fact that they all intersect is not lost on me at all! That is likely one of the many reasons this was chosen as one of the favorites by Matt in his catalogue. They used to (and still might!) grade this way instead of the letter scale. I like this one better; it feels less competitive. This was still a nice memory job all the way back to 2008. Seems like an eternity ago! 4.4 stars.
A few more things:
- 10A [Brand that pops up frequently in crosswords?] EGGO – I put OREO in here immediately, but that doesn’t work with the pun nearly as well!
- 20A [Helgenberger of “Erin Brockovich”] MARG – She used to pop up in crosswords ALL the time when CSI was a popular show. Sounds like a great candidate for an episode of “Where Are They Now?”
- 37A [___ Na Na (group that preceded Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock)] SHA – I remember watching their variety show all the time in pre-cable days before The Muppet Show came on. Or after. I don’t remember!
- 43A [Cartoonist who created Tintin] HERGE – I read this cartoon also when I was younger. I still don’t recognize this name at all. If I knew it I forgot it!
- 5D [Cindy Brady’s impediment] LISP – This seems cruel for some strange reason …
- 10D [They’re added to foot baths] EPSOM SALTS – I have used these before when I was a kid and was covered in hives or mosquito bites. Ah, the good old days. TMI?!
- 32D [___ Maria (liqueur)] TIA – This is coffee flavored like Kahlua. I don’t think I have had this one though. Time to do some crossword research!
That is all! Another Jonesin’ coming next week!
Jerome Gunderson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is another byline that is unfamiliar to me, but his name is in the constructor database already, so there must be some other puzzles by this creator. We have an alcohol-related theme today, so that is a plus … !
- 17A [Housekeeper’s whisky request?] MAKE IT NEAT
- 61A [Bachelor’s whisky request?] SINGLE MALT
- 11D [Geologist’s whisky request?] ON THE ROCKS
- 29D [Astronaut’s whisky request?] STRAIGHT UP
Fun times! This makes me want a cocktail, and as I write this it is nowhere near noon! I am still working on my first cup of coffee!! (Wait: they have coffee flavored liqueur ….. !) Nice puns working in this theme. Nice and simple, yet amusing and fun. A solid 4.2 stars from me.
Some more high points:
- 48A [Johnny Mathis classic that begins, “Look at me”] MISTY – I haven’t heard this song in forever. You’re welcome.
- 4D [Type of durable work boot] STEEL TOE – I have never worn these, which means I have never had a really dangerous job! If you’re not careful, these can still damage your foot in an accident, sometimes even worse.
- 25D [Fishing lure] SPINNER – I haven’t been fishing in years. Perhaps when I retire someday?
- 34D [Comic Youngman] HENNY – I saw references to this comedian a lot years ago. ‘Take my wife … please!” was his signature line, I believe. He passed away over 20 years ago.
- 41D [Ended a prayer] SAID AMEN – I don’t think I have ever seen this as an entry. There are no NYT hits. Well done!
- 43D [“The Good Earth” heroine] OLAN – I literally only know this from puzzles. I should read this book someday!
- 53D [Green Hornet’s sidekick] KATO – This was a Bruce Lee role back in the day. That show was almost as campy as the Batman series from the same era, but not quite as much. I miss both of these shows!
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
Gary Larson’s Universal crossword — “Places, Everyone!” – Jim Q’s Write-up
THEME: Common phrases clued as if they’re actors/actresses who were credited in relation to those in the clues.
- 17A [Where actor Danson appears at the end of “Cheers”?] BEFORE LONG.
- 25A [Where actress Moreno appears at the end of “West Side Story”?] UNDERWOOD.
- 36A [Where actress Moore appears at the end of “The Fugitive”?] AFTERWARD.
- 50A [Where actor Momoa appears at the end of “Aquaman”?] OVERHEARD.
- 61A [Borrower’s limit, and a theme hint] CREDIT LINE.
This is a really fantastic idea. I just wish I knew more of the names in the answers (not the clues… those I knew… ok, not Momoa). Then I would’ve appreciated it more and perhaps caught on before the revealer. But I really googled the names AFTERWARD to make sure I had the theme correct.
Danson appears BEFORE Shelley LONG. Moreno appears UNDER Natalie WOOD. Julianne Moore appears AFTER Sela WARD. Jason Momoa appears OVER Amber HEARD.
Again, this is so very clever, but I really wish I didn’t have to use Google as much as I did post-solve!
I’ll take it on the chin, though. I probably should know more than I do.