Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 517), “This is Our Happy Place!”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! Here is hoping that you are doing well as we turn April showers into May flowers!
If in the event this puzzle left you feeling happy, there’s definitely a reason. Of course, the main reason is because it’s you got to enjoy another wonderful Liz Gorski creation! The second is because, in this particular grid, five theme entries begin with words that can come immediately after the word “happy.”
- MEAL TICKET (17A: [Sugar daddy or sugar mama])
- BIRTHDAY SUIT (23A: [Outfit that leaves nothing to the imagination])
- MEDIUM GRAIN RICE (39A: [Paella staple])
- GILMORE GIRLS (50A: [TV show about the adventures of Lorelai and daughter Rory])
- CAMPER VANS (61A: [Home for folks on the road])
So glad that an extra couple of squares were left in the construction to allow the stacked 10-letter entries so we can enjoy AUDRE LORDE (14A: [“Black Mother Woman” poet]) and the AGE-OLD (44A: [Ancient]) KINESCOPES that dominated television and film of yesteryear (66A: [Motion pictures made from picture tube images]). Also had a couple of 10s running down, and, for some reason, was initially thinking something related to an actual highlighter when reading the clue for UNDERLINES (28D: [Highlights text with horizontal markings]). Definitely was not familiar with GIDE, and probably the only entry that I was not familiar with at all going into the solve (40D: [“The Immoralist” author Andre]). More familiar was the person referenced in the clue to VOS, as I’m pretty sure I first saw her as a guest in a late night talk show while staying up when I was five and talking about the smartest people (64D: [Columnist Marilyn ___ Savant]). And to have “savant” as a last name to boot?!?!?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: POO (56D: [Cutesy-___]) – “We couldn’t do diddly, poo, offensively!”
As much as many people bemoan the number of public figures who come across as scripted and cautious with their behavior when the media is present and microphones are on, that was not a problem with one of the most honest and candid coaches in sports history, former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora. Despite winning 125 games as head coach in the NFL and leaving two franchises in much better shape than when he first came to the Big Easy and Indy, Mora is known for his postgame rants/meltdowns. Though not his most famous tirade, the rant below, which occurred in what turned out to be his last game in charge of the Saints in 1996, certainly will elicit a few chuckles…especially when “poo” is part of the rant! This is what I would probably say to myself after trying to solve a Puzzle 5 at the ACPT.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “From On High”—Jim P’s review
Our theme is TREETOPS (40d, [Places with bird’s-eye views, and what the starred answers have]). The other theme answers (all in the Down direction) are phrases that have a tree at the beginning not clued as a tree.
- 4d. [*Tidy or refurbish, as an apartment] SPRUCE UP.
- 8d. [*Plume from Mount Etna] ASH CLOUD.
- 17d. [*Practice also called chiromancy] PALM READING.
- 39d. [*Lose liveliness from longing] PINE AWAY.
Nicely done. I like all these. Can you think of other trees that have non-tree meaning (not counting fruit and nut trees)? I can think of gum and elder trees.
Beautiful fill today, as well. See RARE FORM, DEAD ENDS, SCALAWAG, and PUHLEASE. The one sticking point I see is the crossing of GALENA [Lead ore] and SISAL [Fiber used in ropes and rugs]. That’s some fairly hardcore crosswordese there for a Tuesday. I’M A PC is rather stale these days, and IS OUT is awkward.
Clues of note:
- 17a. [“You gotta be kidding me!”]. PUHLEASE! I would’ve tried to echo the staccato (is that the best word here?) delivery of the answer in the clue with something like [“You have GOT to be kidding me!”].
- 40a. [Show of hands?]. TIME. I don’t know if this is a new clue or not, but I love it.
Solid theme, and I’m digging the long fill. 3.8 stars.
Jeff McDermott’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The Kentucky Derby (disclaimer: the horse racing industry is brutal to horses) is this weekend, and the classic Derby cocktail anchors this theme. JULEP is clued 36a. [Libation made from the beginnings of 17-, 23-, 49- and 59-Across], and waaaait a minute here, it’s a mint julep, that is it’s name. The four themers start with mint julep ingredients:
- 17a. [1990 #1 hit that begins “Yo, V.I.P., let’s kick it!”], “ICE ICE BABY.” The frozen water so nice, they named it twice.
- 23a. [Main drag through New Orleans’s French Quarter], BOURBON STREET. Have you ever been there at 9 am when the bar staffs are hosing down the street? Yeah.
- 49a. [Never-used state], MINT CONDITION.
- 59a. [Wealthy boyfriend, perhaps], SUGAR DADDY. Gross. I offer for your consideration: sugar plums, sugar canes, sugar shack, sugar-coats, sugar beets, sugar spoon, sugar syrup, sugar cubes.
59a left a sour taste for me.
Fave fill: RAINY DAY, OVERBOOK, and AMBERS even though the plural feels a little specious to me, just because I dusted my amber egg today and I have warm feelings towards amber.
My EYES caught some entries that feel out of place in a Tuesday puzzle, particularly ADANO, IRAE, IRANI, and SST. Also, if you’re gonna have IRE and crosswordese IRAE in the same puzzle, both cognates connected to the Latin for “wrath,” well, you could clue IRE as an abbreviation for Ireland and dodge the dupe.
Three more things:
- 32a. [Obsolescent means of sending documents], FAXING. Not yet obsolete, though! Ask a doctor’s office or pharmacist how much faxing still goes on.
- 3d. [What airlines sometimes do, causing headaches], OVERBOOK. I assume that if the airlines aren’t already OVERBOOKing flights, they’ll be back to that by midsummer.
- 24d. [___ fiber], OPTIC. Am I the only one who did a double-take here? I’ve seen fiberoptic for so long, optic fiber sounds wrong.
Three stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Ask Your Doctor” – Derek’s write-up
I hate drug company commercials. I am thinking Matt does too!
- 16A [*”Feel the need to get in hot water? Ask your doctor if ___ is right for you.”] JACUZZI
- 17A [*”Are you managing your health under ‘New Rules’? Ask your doctor if ___ …”] DUA LIPA
- 29A [*”Lack of unusual influences getting you down? Ask your doctor if ___ …”] ECCENTRICS
- 45A [*”Do you need to reach higher in life? Ask your doctor if ___ …”] ON TIPPY TOE
- 60A [*”Want to feel like you did it your way? Ask your doctor if ___ …”] SINATRA
- 62A [*”Feel like the only way to be cured is by meat? Ask your doctor if ___ …”] BOLOGNA
All of these themers do kinda sound like a name of a pharmaceutical drug. I read a while ago that these companies go through great lengths to make sure these stupid made up names are offensive in some other language. How would you know? You could only check a certain number of them. I also read that the Brits, when watching the Oprah interview with Meghan Markle, were laughing at us for having these ads! “You tell your doctor what drugs to use?” was a common response. I can’t say I disagree! Matt, this puzzle got me riled up! 4.6 stars.
A few notes:
- 1A [“Dis or ___” (“You Don’t Know Jack” round)] DAT – Love this game. Haven’t played it in a while, but it is great.
- 52A [Game show host Convy and Muppet … well, we don’t get a last name] BERTS – Bert doesn’t have a last name?? Yeah, I suppose he doesn’t! I’ve only known him for 50+ years!
- 57A [Poison lead singer Michaels] BRET – I have a son named Brett, but with two T’s. This singer is almost 60. Perhaps time to retire the bandannas?
- 65A [Seven days from now] IN A WEEK – Great entry!
- 15D [Trivia quiz website that also offers pub trivia] SPORCLE – Sporcle is awesome. You can learn a lot of geography by messing around on there. Do they do live pub trivia? If so, I did now know this, and will have to explore … !
- 25D [Kept inside] PENT UP – LET IT OUT! Keeping stuff in is never good for you.
- 37D [Kuala Lumpur’s ___ Towers skyscrapers] PETRONAS – I’ll bet this would be fantastic to visit. One of these days!
Did you know you can download the Jonesin’ puzzle, along with many others, straight from the Xword solving app? There are many there, including Erik Agard’s USA Today puzzles. Just so you know!
That is all! Another Jonesin’ coming next week.
Robert E. Lee Morris’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is another theme that took me a minute to find. But the revealer at 63-Across helps!
- 6D [Doctors rarely make them these days] HOUSE CALLS
- 11D [Artillery metaphor for a volatile sort] LOOSE CANNON
- 25D [First major leaguer to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in a season] JOSE CANSECO
- 30D [Asian feline breed] SIAMESE CAT
- 63A [Hickok’s last hand, it’s said … and what’s literally found in four Down puzzle answers] ACES UP
Clever! If you notice, the hidden ACES is indeed heading “upwards” in each down entry, and each one spans two words in the same manner. A tight execution of a theme idea. Well done! 4.4 stars from me.
A few more things:
- 18A [Excuse designed to elicit sniffles] SOB STORY – These don’t work on me. I have very little empathy.
- 29A [The “A” in RAM] ACCESS – See 31A.
- 31A [The “A” in USNA: Abbr.] ACAD. – While this one is abbreviated, a nice use of duplicate clues. Especially since they are very close in the grid. Easy to notice while even solving quickly.
- 36A [Make potable, as seawater] DESALT – If someone ever figures out how to do this efficiently, they will be a world hero. Methinks it is harder than the idea sounds.
- 13D [Chatted via webcam] SKYPED – Does anyone still use Skype, even though it is literally a verb like “Google?” Yeah, I didn’t think so.
- 35D [Lay’s chips-in-a-can brand] STAX – You see this sometimes as the old record label as well. Now I want some potato chips …
- 45D [Pharmacy follow-up order] REFILL – I am old enough now that I have some scrips that I must constantly refill. Not that many years ago I took ZERO pills. Getting old stinks!
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
Sally Hoelscher and Brooke Husic’s Universal crossword, “Inner Beauty” — Jim Q’s write-up
A gem of a puzzle!
THEME: Gems are hidden in familiar names/phrases
- DROP A LINE. Opal.
- WAKES UP EARLY. Pearl.
- MELINDA GATES. Agate.
- (revealer) HIDDEN GEM.
Delightful collaboration today! Often, this genre of theme employs circles to highlight the secret word, but that wouldn’t make it very “HIDDEN” now would it? A lot more fun to find it on my own and a little AHA moment when uncovering the revealer.
Fantastic fill in this one with lots of freshness, especially in the names department. A lot of names were new to me (though I’m embarrassed to say that… I know I should be more familiar with them). A testament to the cluing and construction that none of them were hangups. Those included COCO GAUFF appropriately crossing NAOMI Osaka, LENA Waithe, LORI Harvey, CIARA and (the mosque) Hagia SOPHIA. Women represent in this one!
- [White Claw or Schweppes container] CAN. I had a Schweppes on my way to work this morning. Looking forward to the White Claw when I’m home.
- [Point value of EIGHT in Scrabble] NINE. What a fun clue!
- [Like sweaty palms] MOIST. The word that everyone loves to hate.
- [Generic dog name] FIDO. Has anyone ever met a dog named FIDO? I’m tempted to make that the name of my next pooch.
- [ ___ is enough] ONCE. I really wanted to cram the word ENOUGH into that spot, which would violate more than one crossword rule.
- [2019 film with “digital fur technology” CATS. I went to go see that movie in theaters. On purpose. I can’t unsee it. It was the last movie I saw before the shutdown which makes it even more horrifically memorable.
Thanks for this one!
4.4 stars today.