Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 534), “Queen Sugar”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! Hope all of you are doing well and, for those of you who were in the path of Hurricane Henri, I hope you all made it out just fine.
Today’s grid may very well have been inspired by Def Leppard, as six theme entries (four across, two down) start with words that either are a type of sugar or a word that can precede or follow the word “sugar.” Enjoy the sugar rush that comes with solving this grid!
- RAW EMOTIONS (17A: [Strong feelings revealed in a tell-all book])
- BEET RED (28A: [Deep lip gloss color])
- LUMP SUM (47A: [Payment type]) – Of course, “lump” is an anagram of “plum” if you’re thinking that this is some meta way to also include “sugarplum.”
- WHITE T-SHIRT (64: [Classic, plain-vanilla top])
- BROWN-EYED (10D: [Like the girl in a Van Morrison hit song])
- CANE CHAIR (36D: [Seating with woven areas])
Anything that reminds me of the saying, “If YAN can cook, so can you!,” is a major thumbs-up, given that I probably watched a whole lot of episodes of Yan Can Cook on PBS when growing up (26A: [TV chef Martin]). Since we’re in the mood for foods with this grid, there’s BBQ, which I’m sure I’ll see a lot of now that the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day, is coming up fast (10D: [Labor Day cookout, briefly]). Not a fish eater at all, but did have some SEA BASS some years back and did not mind the taste of it at all (40A: [Saltwater fish]). Haven’t had the courage to try it again, though! Bravo to the German gymnasts in Tokyo for their stance in fighting sexualization of the sport with each member wearing a UNITARD during the Olympics, a decision they first chose to enact to during the European Championships in April, a few months prior to the Olympics (6D: [Full-coverage garment chosen by the German gymnastics team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics]). Who knows whether this uniform choice will start a trend or not, but given that the sport still trying to come out of the shadows of the news made by people once involved in the sport who have been charged and implicated in various sexually-related crimes against gymnasts, any actions aimed to usher in a zero-tolerance atmosphere with coaches and supporters when dealing with gymnasts is a great start.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOCA (41D: [Florida city, familiarly]) – One of the more famous soccer clubs in the world, Boca Juniors, sometimes referred to as just “Boca,” is an Argentinian sports club headquartered in the Buenos Aires neighborhood La Boca. Some of the greatest players to have ever played the sport, including Diego Maradona, played for the club before moving on to illustrious careers playing in Europe.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Sophia Maymudes & David Liben-Nowell/Edited by Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Remote Possibility”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Word ladder going from HOME to WORK.
- 20a. [Sluggers’ showcase in the All-Star break] HOMERUN DERBY.
- 29a. [Start to gather energy, like a crowd] COME ALIVE.
- 37a. [A person’s inner warmth?] CORE TEMPERATURE.
- 46a. [Practical dorm hanging] CORKBOARD.
- 57a. [Eschew the office, and what you get with the circled words ] WORK FROM HOME
A timely theme as it’s looking less and less likely that people will be returning to offices en masse anytime soon.
Some solvers don’t like word ladders on principle, but I don’t mind one that has a good reason for living, and this one does.
Fill highlights: The NAME GAME, Dr. JEKYLL, TAP SHOES, ORIGAMI, and KOWTOW.
New to me was AS I AM clued as [Brand for natural hair].
Accessible theme with good entries and strong fill. 3.75 stars.
Jessie Bullock & Ross Trudeau’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Fresh theme. “I CAN SHOW / YOU / THE WORLD” is a lyric from Aladdin, [promise that Aladdin sings to Jasmine (and a hint to the answers to the starred clues)]. The starred entries are all things that can show you the world: a POCKET ATLAS, the photo of Earth as seen from space called PALE BLUE DOT, GOOGLE EARTH, and a PLANETARIUM.
Fave fill: SCAREDY CAT! POPEMOBILE!
Fill I’m not wild about: plural TALCS, AHEMS, UHS, and AFTS. TWO TO. RED ELM is somewhat guessable, but more commonly known as the slippery elm, and maybe a lot to expect of a Tuesday-puzzle beginner. Ditto the quaint ERENOW.
Five more things:
- 21a. [Pyramids typically have eight of them], EDGES. But only five vertices and five surfaces.
- 68a. [Deli fixture with a store of bread?], ATM. It’s a goofy clue and I like it. It crosses PITA bread to cement the trickery.
- 4d. [Newswoman Roberts], COKIE. Raise your hand if you thought of ROBIN first.
- 11d. [*Computer program that blurs out military installations], GOOGLE EARTH. I misread that word as blurts, which gave the clue a decidedly different vibe.
- 64d. [A long line may be waiting for this, in brief], TSA. My last TSA line was in November 2019 and it was in Rochester, Minnesota, so it was probably just me and the bored TSA agent trying to make conversation. Probably won’t be flying anywhere in 2021 or 2022, though, so I guess yay for not waiting in line?
3.75 stars from me.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Universal crossword, “Twice the Fun”— Jim Q’s write-up
Two Salners puzzles in a row for me.
THEME: Phrases with repeated words.
- PEOPLE PEOPLE
- LIKE LIKE
- NAMES NAMES
- LATE LATE
- (revealer) DOUBLE DOUBLE
Quirky construction here with the intersecting themers and one split across the middle. You can typically expect something out-of-the-norm like that from this constructor, even when the puzzle’s theme is relatively straightforward, as it is here.
NAMES NAMES resonates the strongest with me. I don’t think I’ve heard the phrase PEOPLE PEOPLE in the plural like that. It’s always been PEOPLE PERSON that I hear. LIKE LIKE sounds like something a middle-schooler says and I really want to put the word “The” before LATE LATE and follow it with “Show.”
Fun to solve! I liked the clue for SPOOF only because I have seen Spaceballs despite never seeing any of the Star Wars movies. And I enjoyed it too, even though I clearly didn’t get most of the references.
VET TECH and Cathering O’HARA were my other faves in the fill.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Locked In” – Derek’s write-up
We have a quote puzzle this week, and the source of the quote is also hands down the Obscure Pop Culture Reference of the Week! I don’t know Sean Lock, but he is a British comic that passed away from lung cancer just 8 days ago on the 16th of August. The clue at 16-Across starts the quote:
16A [Question presented by Jimmy Carr that starts “If you could change …”, part 1] ONE THING ABOUT YOUR SELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?”
The answer is from 53-Across and 58-Across:
53A [Pithy response from Sean Lock, part 1] “WELL, OBVIOUSLY, THE FRONT!”
It got me to chuckle a bit, so I will call it OK. I realize some people cannot stand these types of puzzles, but this one is done well. It at least makes you laugh, which is what a puzzle SHOULD do: entertain you! I just wish I knew who this guy was! I will have to research him on YouTube later. 4.4 stars today.
A few more fun facts:
- 32A [Kung ___ beef] PAO – Now I am hungry …
- 64A [Insult from Bob and Doug McKenzie] HOSER – “Take off, hoser!” was a common insult from them. ’80s Canadian humor!
- 8D [2018 series spun off from “The Karate Kid”] COBRA KAI – I do remember The Karate Kid quite well, but I haven’t seen one nanosecond of this show. One of these days: at least it’s already on Netflix!!
- 26D [Metal singer Ronnie James ___] DIO – No idea who this is. But I don’t listen to metal, and the OPCRotW is already taken!
- 31D [“1917” backdrop] W.W.I. – This movie was incredible: it was filmed to make it look like one long continuous take! Some transitions are easy to spot; others, nearly impossible to tell how they did it. Go see it if you have not already.
- 35D [1989 Jack Nicholson role] THE JOKER – It would have been helpful if this was the actual name of a movie or something, but he is usually called by this name, by which I mean including the article. Gettable enough for sure.
- 36D [“Back to the Future” actress Thompson] LEA – I’ll bet she is in her 60s by now … ( I checked: she turned 60 in May!)
- 44D [Painter Modigliani] AMEDEO – No idea who this is, which helps explain the error mark in the grid!
- 48D [Activist lawyer Gloria] ALLRED – She is annoying to me. I am sure she does some good, but she is so LOUD.
That is all! Another Jonesin’ coming next week!
Freddie Cheng’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Cat got your tongue?
- 17A [Sci-fi fleet leader] MOTHERSHIP
- 23A [Perceptive person] SHARP COOKIE
- 38A [Indigenous U.S. people] NATIVE AMERICANS
- 47A [Uncontrollable person] LOOSE CANNON
- 60A [At a loss for words, and what the starts of 17-, 23-, 38- and 47-Across can literally be?] TONGUE-TIED
We are familiar with the phrases mother tongue, sharp tongue, native tongue and loose tongue. Easy! Just how I like a Tuesday puzzle! 4.6 stars from me.
Just a few notes:
- 30A [“Star Trek” communications officer] UHURA – I haven’t seen the original Star Trek in years. Which streaming service is it on?
- 6D [Cybertruck maker] TESLA – This truck is ugly, but I would drive one of the cars in a minute. I don’t have a garage to park in, but I hope to address that in the coming year!
- 10D [Smart speaker brand] AMAZON ECHO – I am terrified of using one of these! I do NOT want Amazon listening to my every word. We have a Bluetooth speaker that is Amazon compatible, but I only hook it up for novelty actions. No way!
- 24D [Only singer to have a #1 single in six straight decades (1960s-2010s)] CHER – Great fact, and also one I think I saw in another puzzle recently. Perhaps a NYT from the last week?
- 56D [Verdi classic] AIDA – Never seen it. Is there a movie to watch? (It looks like there is a version on Kanopy, which I have never heard of! Will explore this weekend, perhaps!)
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
Hoang-Kim Vu & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Here’s What You Need to Know“ — Emily’s write-up
An excellent collab for today’s Tuesday puzzle! The grid is lovely, with a flow to it that is accentuated by the black squares and areas. Lots of great fill as well and fun clues. Also, this puzzle was edited by Amanda Rafkin.
Theme: The first word of each themer is something you need to know.
- 19a. [“Schitt’s Creek” or “227,” e.g.], SITUATIONCOMEDY
- 34a. [Hint for understanding a word’s meaning], CONTEXTCLUE
- 50a. [Ambient sound], BACKGROUNDNOISE
A fun theme and while the title sets up the theme, it doesn’t out-right describe. Given that, the solver relies on the clues more in the puzzle, which is a nice change of pace. Of the themers, BACKGROUNDNOISE filled in first for me. CONTEXTCLUE feels very timely, given the beginning of school for students in the US this month. As I’ve not seen either “227” or “Schitt’s Creek”, SITUATIONCOMEDY needed the crosses for solving and even as it did, I wanted to use “situational” which was too many letters; to learn more about both tv shows or other more about many of the clues, check out Sally Hoelscher’s awesome blog https://usatodayxwordblog.blogspot.com/2021/08/august-24-2021.html that does a excellent deep-dives.
Favorite fill: ZEN, DELHI, STORM, RNS, THESES, STITCH, and ARBOR
Stumpers: CORNY (“punny” fit but wasn’t right), RUSE (often “ploy” shows up), and GNASH (refers more to teeth to me instead of related to grinding)
All in all, a fantastic puzzle today! Looking forward to hopefully more collabs from Kim and Brooke.