Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 515), “Round Trip Ticket!”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! Those April showers are really pouring here in the Northeast at the moment, and here is hoping the rest of you are doing well and staying dry.
One of these days, a good number of us will get back to gleefully booking some amazing flights, and this puzzle definitely got me thinking of that. In the grid, the first theme entry is a two-word answer, and each subsequent theme entry going down then begins with the same word as the previous theme entry ended with. The last theme entry then ends with the first word of the first theme entry to tie it all together.
- HOME OFFICE (16A: [During COVID-19, many a kitchen table, bedroom or living room])
- OFFICE WORK (23A: [What a temp may be hired to do])
- WORK HARD (33A: [Toil away])
- HARDBALL (38A: [Type of politics marked by ruthless tactics and intimidation])
- BALL RETURN (46A: [Bowling alley feature]) – Did you hear about the 18-year-old who successfully picked up a spare by converting a 7-10 split on national television yesterday, the first one seen on national TV in 30 years?!? Oh, you didn’t. OK, carry on…
- RETURN HOME (57A: [Head back])
It has been a long, long while since I’ve seen ROHE (30D: [Architect Ludwig Mies van der ___]) in the grid, and thank goodness that lot of crosswords that I started with years ago had that entry appear regularly because OLAN was definitely not going to come to me without the crossings (35D: [“The Good Earth” heroine]). It took me a while from the first time I ever watched a baseball game and heard broadcasters talking about rain delays to put together that “tarp” was short for TARPAULIN (32D: [Waterproof cloth that protects a boat in storage]). Speaking of trying to understand origins of words when a kid, the only thing that entered my mind when seeing PRISSY was the name of the hen alongside Foghorn Leghorn in a number of Looney Tunes cartoons (41A: [Way too prim and proper]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SHEP (13D: [CNBC news anchor Smith]) – During the mid 1970s, the North American Soccer League helped to increase the popularity and interest of soccer in American when it acquired some of the biggest international stars in the world, with the New York Cosmos ending up with footballing legends such as Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia. The Cosmos’ goalkeeper during that time was a man named Shep Messing, who was in goal for the Cosmos when it won the 1977 Soccer Bowl (NASL Championship game). Messing, who in 1977 became the highest-paid American in the league, has spent the last couple of decades as a television soccer analyst and currently works as the color commentator during New York Red Bulls games on the MSG Network.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Michael Lieberman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Our revealer today is 59a. [Bumpy beginning … or a hint to 18-, 24-, 36- and 52-Across], ROCKY START, and those four themers start with words that can follow ROCKY:
- 18a. [Coyote outfoxer, in cartoons], ROAD RUNNER. Rocky road. I miss ice cream!
- 24a. [“Get Out,” for one], HORROR FILM. Rocky Horror Picture Show, probably one of my generation’s first introductions to the concept of gender-bending. (See also: David Bowie, Boy George, Adam Ant, the whole New Wave and metal hair bands vibe of men wearing makeup.)
- 36a. [Beverage brand whose first mascot was Willy the Hillbilly], MOUNTAIN DEW. Rocky Mountain is weird in the singular, and I’m still mad that I didn’t know this Willy the Hillbilly trivia before being quizzed on it in Learned League competition.
- 52a. [Part of San Diego that’s home to its zoo], BALBOA PARK. “Yo, Adrian,” it’s Stallone’s Rocky Balboa here.
Decent theme, fresh, but not perfectly executed with that single mountain.
Six more things:
- 44a. [Incendiary jelly used in the Vietnam War], NAPALM. Fails the breakfast test.
- 8d. [Communication during peak times?], YODEL. What sort of messages were communicated via Alpine yodeling?
- 19d. [Brexit opponent’s vote], REMAIN. Sheesh, those Brexiters didn’t know how much trouble they were buying for themselves with that “exit” vote. My London-based friend ditched the UK in favor of the EU before the separation happened. Smart move!
- 21d. [Word after odd or job], LOT. I needed crossings here because the clue wedged “odd jobs” in my head.
- 42d. [Hitchcock movie or U2 song], VERTIGO. I know the movie but not the song. Here’s another U2 song for you.
- 45d. [Colored part of the iris], AREOLA. It’s a hoot how crosswords typically clue AREOLA as an anatomical term very few of us have ever used in reference to the eye. Don’t be shy! Pretty much everyone has areolas around their nipples, if they have nipples. Pupil:nipple :: areola:areola?
3.8 stars from me.
John Guzzetta’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Watch Your Back”—Jim P’s review
Today’s theme answers have strings of circled letters so it would make sense to assume they clue us in to hidden words. And when you resolve the first entry, it seems to bear this out with the hidden word KEEP. But that’s just coincidence.
The real theme is hinted at by 62a LOOK THE OTHER WAY [Pretend not to notice, and a hint to this puzzle’s circled words]. The circled letters do indeed spell words, but going backwards (KEEP is actually PEEK). Each circled word is a synonym of LOOK.
- 16a. [First Native American newspaper in the country] CHEROKEE PHOENIX. Peek. Neat find. The paper first published in Georgia in 1828. It lasted six years before it was violently shut down. However, it was revived in the late 20th century and now has online and print versions. See more here.
- 24a. [They may do nosegrinds and ollies] SKATE RATS. Stare. Never heard this term before. I blame my parents for not letting me get that skateboard when I was 12.
- 38a. [The dust of the Dust Bowl] TOPSOIL. Spot.
- 40a. [Start of a round] TEE SHOT. See.
- 52a. [It generally includes the author’s name and the imprint] TITLE PAGE. Gape.
Nice theme. It’s got a strong revealer and the entry choices work well; I especially like the first two.
The science-minded probably enjoyed the two long fill entries today: PHENOTYPE and CHEEK SWAB. GOES STALE, STILETTOS, and a stealthy NINJA are also good.
Did not know pitcher Warren SPAHN. That P crosses with the thematic GAPE which I had first thought might be GAZE. SZAHN seemed believable. Fortunately, the theme answer TITLE PAGE set me straight.
Clues of note:
- 67a. [“___ handled that differently”]. I’D’VE. This is a weird entry to see in the grid without its punctuation, but the clue made it pretty clear to me what it should be.
- 11d. [Phone exchanges]. TEXTS. Nice misdirection here. I was think telephonic equipment (multiplexers and such) the whole way.
All around good theme and grid. 3.8 stars.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Internal Opposition” — Jim Q’s write-up
Oh boy. Letter counting in the Universal theme today. My least favorite thing to do in a crossword. I haven’t even figured out the theme yet. I figured I’d kill two birds and suss it out during this write-up.
THEME: Don’t know yet since I haven’t counted the letters to the themers (I solved in the web app).
**The antonym of a word can be found within the letters of the word itself**
- 16A [Magnificent, or an antonym of the word formed by letters 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, and 9] WONDERFUL. So let’s see… letter 1 is W, letter 2 is O, letter 5 is… E, letter 7 is F, letter 8 is U, letter 9 is L. That spells… WOEFUL. Ah! Woeful is the opposite of WONDERFUL. WOEFUL also accurately describes the process of counting letters in a theme answer for me.
- 20A [Secret, or an antonym of the word formed by letters 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6] COVERT. The counting is easier on this one: OVERT.
- 35A [Lie, or an antonym of the word formed by letters 1, 2, 6, and 8] FABRICATION. F… A… I’m going to assume CT for the rest. FACT.
- 50A [Has a big meal, or an antonym of the word formed by letters 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6] FEASTS. FASTS.
- 55A [ Hostile feeling, or an antonym of the word formed by letters 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, and 9] ANIMOSITY. A… N… M… I mean O… I… T… Y??? oh wait, I typed the wrong numbers from a different clue… 1, 4, 7, 8, 9. A… M…. S …. T…. Y? No… AM… I… TY. AMITY. There ya’ go.
Ugh. If you think I’m exaggerating my solve experience in how I typed it out above, I assure you it’s under-exaggerated. This is a Puzzle. That. Needs. Circles. I would’ve seen the theme at the time I was supposed to have seen it, not post-solve. I would’ve enjoyed it. Instead, it’s a chore. I don’t understand why Universal, the same puzzle that per its own website says that it “…sets the standard for all daily crosswords” cannot achieve the standard of including circles in its grid when necessary. That has been a standard for a very, very long time in crosswords.
This is a 4.5 star puzzle from a fantastic constructor transformed into a 1 star puzzle. Solvers should not be offered two different solving experiences (solve the way it is published in print or in its web applet, or solve by clicking the Across Lite link on this very website), especially when the bulk of solvers have no idea that Across Lite exists and a link can be found on a subpage of a crossword blog. I just don’t understand how that is acceptable.
Sorry, Paul. It’s not on you. Great idea. Awesome finds. I don’t have anything else to say.
1 star from me.
4.5 star potential.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Well, Sorta” – Derek’s write-up
I “sorta” didn’t understand this theme at first, but then it clearly made sense. Kinda sorta:
- 16A [Hotel heiress who popularized “That’s hot”] PARIS HILTON
- 28A [Gear seen frequently in 1980s court matches] TENNIS HEADBAND
- 45A [He plays Thor] CHRIS HEMSWORTH
- 60A [Title for the Pope or the Dalai Lama] HIS HOLINESS
I am only kidding! Nicely done, although not overly complex. It is nice that the theme letters all cross a word gap, so it isn’t easily seen and none of them have the actual “ish” sound in them. I think I like it! 4.4 stars today.
Just a few notes:
- 36A [Satirical “Prize” given by the Annals of Improbable Research] IGNOBEL – This is terrific. I’ve never heard of it, but this is a Jonesin’, so you’re going to learn something new every week!
- 52A [Roommate of Frylock and Master Shake on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”] MEATWAD – Easily the OPCRotW. I know this show, but I am not a watcher.
- 1D [“Don’t move”] “STAY HERE” – Great casual phrase!
- 5D [Ninja’s platform] TWITCH – I know Twitch, but what is the Ninja referred to here??
- 26D [Millennium Falcon in 7,500 pieces, e.g.] LEGO SET – The puzzler in me thinks this would be fun to put together. The non-existent Star Wars fan in me does not!
- 39D [It’s played on a 10×10 board] STRATEGO – Played this a LOT in middle school. I should buy a copy for my son!
- 40D [“Hmmm …”] “LET ME SEE …” – Another great casual phrase!
- 55D [High-end camera type] DSLR – Has anyone else bought a fancy camera for Zoom sessions? I bought a GoPro that I can stream from, but the other 35mm camera I bought for Zoom doesn’t have a live feed out of it. It was also not $1,000, which a lot of these YouTubers and Twitch streamers use. I am not that high-tech yet!
That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week!
Brent Sverdloff’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We have circles!
- 17A [Orson Scott Card sci-fi novel] ENDERS GAME
- 24A [Toon spouse with a blue beehive] MARGE SIMPSON
- 39A [Park warning sign] KEEP OFF THE GRASS
- 51A [Cheddar shredder] CHEESE GRATER
- 63A [Go from neutral to reverse … and a hint to each set of circles] SHIFT GEARS
Cleanly done. The revealer at the end ties it together nicely. This is one of the few times I feel like this theme has been done before, but that’s ok: this is a fresh take on it at the very least. I have not read 17A, nor seen the movie (there is a movie, right?), but I would love to do either.
- 68A [Vermont patriot Allen] ETHAN – I have a nephew named Ethan, but he is not an Allen; he is my sister’s son.
- 6D [Conceitedness] BIG EGO – This seems like a partial phrase, but it works. Did I mention I am tired this week?
- 10D [“I Kissed a Girl” singer] KATY PERRY – This song put her on the map, but where is the reference to Left Shark?
- 25D [Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears __”] A WHO – A safe Dr. Seuss book! For now …
- 40D [Like much court evidence] FORENSIC – Like many, I feel like a forensic expert after watching a zillion reruns of CSI and Law and Order!
- 51D [Bond portrayer Daniel] CRAIG – They are STILL delaying the new Bond movie! They are stalling to make as much $$ as possible, but we are in a new reality. Release the movie!!
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!