Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 536), “It’s a Guy Thing!”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! Here is hoping that your holiday on Monday went well and that you were able to enjoy the unofficial end to the summer!
Today’s theme is all those wild and crazy guys…in a way. Each of the five theme entries, all going across, start with a word or words that also come before the word “guy.”
- AVERAGE LIFE SPAN (17A: [14 years, for a typical refrigerator]) – Average guy
- WISE OLD OWL (22A: [Nursery rhyme bird who lived in an oak (“the more he saw, the less he spoke”]) – Wise guy
- FALL COLLECTIONS (33A: [Seasonal fashion magazing subjects]) – Fall guy. The image of Lee Majors is stuck in my head right now.
- BAD ROMANCE (47A: [Lady Gaga song with the lyric “I want your psycho, your vertigo shtick]) – Bad guy
- STAND UP AND CHEER (55A: [Fight song of the University of Kansas]) – Stand-up guy. What? It’s not Rock Chalk Jayhawk?!?!
Initially put in “landlord” instead of LANDLADY, which tripped me up for a few seconds but made me glad to see the departure from the gender normative term (35D: [Rent collector]). Being a New Yorker whose been to Grand Central and Penn Station more times than I can count, love the NYC feel to TERMINALS as well (4D: [Grand Central, and the like]). Covering the US Open right now remotely (boo!), and, unfortunately, I’ve seen a number of people who are using the Zoom VIDEOCHAT to do press conferences who still forget to turn off their cameras and/or sound before embarrassing themselves on camera (32D: [Skype session]). Part of me feels bad because it is an adjustment to the new normal of being a journalist, but, got goodness sakes, it’s been over a year now! Spare us the trips to the bathroom while on your phone and signed in to a Zoom chat! For real! (Sorry for venting about things from the TMI department!) Just had to let it out before moving on!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: POND (42D: [Duck’s home]) – Given the clue, a small tidbit about a sporting group of ducks and their home. The Anaheim Ducks hockey team currently play their home games at an arena called the Honda Center, which has hosted the team’s games since their inception in 1993. Before 2006, the name of the arena was called the Arrowhead Pond, or, affectionately, “The Pond.” The “Arrowhead” came from the company that once had naming rights, Arrowhead Water. In 2007, The Pond saw the Stanley Cup for the first time as the Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup Final.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
For me, the end of a weekend is usually pretty chill, since I seldom need to blog the Monday NYT and my time is my own. But this weekend included Monday, and if I’ve gotta blog a puzzle at the end of the weekend, it’s good to see Zhouqin’s name in the byline. I’m loving this theme, which absolutely eluded my notice till I reached the revealer. (Which is surprising for a Tuesday puzzle, to have a theme that’s hard to see.) 60a. [What the ends of 17-, 21-, 37-, 39- and 55-Across are] is CURRENCIES, and each unit of currency doubles as something non-financial:
- 17a. [Last step in telephone instructions, often], PRESS POUND. The British pound.
- 21a. [“Can this be happening?”], “IS IT REAL?” The Brazilian real. Not wild about IS IT REAL as an entry, but it does the job of concealing the real.
- 37a. [Not easily achieved], HARD WON. The South Korean won. I do love HARD WON as an entry.
- 39a. [“The Fountainhead” author], AYN RAND. The South African rand.
- 55a. [Founder of Zoom], ERIC YUAN. The Chinese yuan.
I like geographic trivia sorts of things, and I like being tricked by a crossword constructor. So I appreciate this theme!
Five more things:
- 14a. [Spread on a banh mi], MAYO. I want to like banh mis, but so many of them have not just mayo, but also cilantro (tastes soapy!) and pork (which I don’t eat).
- 32a. [Quintet on a Chinese flag], STARS. More geo trivia! I am here for it.
- 43a. [Greek god after whom an ocean is named], ATLAS. I did not know this, somehow. I suppose Atlantis and Atlanta share the the Atlantic’s eponym?
- 48a. [Official with a protective vest], UMP. Raise your hand if you filled in COP. I’m currently watching an Amazon Prime Video series called Patriot, which has Luxembourgish cops as characters.
- 5d. [Music genre for 21 Savage and 42 Dugg], RAP. Love this clue! 21 x 2 = 42.
4.25 stars from me. I enjoyed the surprise of a tricky Tuesday theme.
Evan Mulvhill’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Labor Day”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar two-word phrases are re-imagined as trade unions with the second word changing meaning to signify a group of people. The first word changes meaning as well.
- 18a. [Union for massage therapists?] RUBBER BAND. In other words, a band of people who rub for a living. I don’t know about you, but I do not want a massage that consists of rubbing. In fact, just how does massaging equate to rubbing? Perhaps the original clue was [Union for condom manufacturers?].
- 26a. [Union for bouncers?] BRUTE FORCE. Good one.
- 47a. [Union for beekeepers?] HONEY BUNCH.
- 57a. [Union for photo editors?] CROP CIRCLE. Since part of editing a photo often involves cropping it. Another good one and my favorite of the lot.
So other than the clue on the first one, this is an enjoyable set timed just a day late after Labor Day.
Fill highlights include CLASS CLOWN, PARAFFIN, FRAT ROW, BALBOA, and Joan OSBORNE. Not so keen on OPEN ON and the dreaded NIP AT.
Clues of note:
- 10d. [Challenge for a principal]. CLASS CLOWN. Well, really they’re more of a challenge for the teacher. Why go with principal here?
- 21d. [Merger bargaining tool?]. PRENUP. Some indicator of the abbreviated form would not have been out of place, IMO. Maybe “familiarly” or “for short”.
- 35d. [Panama’s monetary unit]. BALBOA. I know Rocky, of course, and the park in San Diego, but not Panamanian money. I guess it makes sense since explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa was the first European to cross the Isthmus of Panama.
- 58d. [Planter’s punch ingredient]. RUM. Hadn’t heard of Planter’s punch before. Supposedly named after Planters Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, though it’s originally from Jamaica. My drinks app lists the ingredients as Dark Rum, OJ, pineapple juice, lemon juice, grenadine, simple syrup, and angostura bitters. The end result looks like a tropical beach treat.
Nice puzzle. 3.6 stars.
Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “Cutting Back“ — Emily’s write-up
Another fun puzzle today! Lots of excellent fill and clues, including one really neat BARTRICK!
Theme: The word “back” is split within each themer. So BA starts each one and CK ends it, cutting “back” in half.
- 17a. [Airport procedure that involves a scale], BAGCHECK
- 40a. [Good value], BANGFORYOURBUCK
- 66a. [Turning water into whiskey, e.g.], BARTRICK
Great theme and themers today—subtle but just descriptive enough to hint at the possibilities of what to look for. Sometimes splits are in different places of the theme word but I like that in this puzzle they are all use “back” split in the middle, especially since the themers themselves are so different from each other. Who hasn’t worried about the weight during BAGCHECK before? Even when I know my luggage isn’t heavy, I always seems to hold my breath just in case, already thinking about what I could remove. BANGFORYOURBUCK is a fun themer, if for nothing else than a great deal is always the best. The one that I was least familiar with was BARTRICK but perhaps that’s just lack of knowledge on my part.
Favorite fill: BANGFORYOURBUCK, TARO, SNORES, ORACLE, and TIMON.
Stumpers: OBLIGE (had me thinking more “force” or “require”), KANSAS (needed all the crossings for this one), BARTRICK (tried “brewing” but it wasn’t right) and STEEP (could only come up with “hard” or “difficult”)
Shout out to all the tasty food in this grid as well—POBOY, BLT, FILET, TARO, YAM, and FRITTATA. There’s also a SEED of an avocado as well, so best to toss that out when you’re finished unless you want to try to grow a tree for yourself; it’ll take a while but in the end you’ll save money with all that you’ll grow, right? Plus, there are TEAS to go with it all and, for fun, STEEP is next it too. Good thing it’s lunch time as I post this because I’ve built up an appetite after this fantastic puzzle!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “On the M-End” – Derek’s write-up
Seems like a simple enough theme, but how many more can YOU think up?
- 17A [Symposium for cinema buffs, maybe] FILM FORUM
- 20A [e.e. cummings offering] FREEFORM POEM
- 39A [Princess Peach’s realm, in the Mario series] MUSHROOM KINGDOM
- 57A [Wriggly 1990s video game/TV protagonist who wears a robotic suit to move around] EARTHWORM JIM
- 61A [Olympic squad that once had Bird and Jordan] DREAM TEAM
Yeah, I never would have come up with 57-Across! I still wonder how Matt’s brainstorming sessions go. Or perhaps he has the greatest searchable word list in existence! Interesting theme idea that probably haas 8 or 10 other interesting options from the alphabet. Q would likely not work; S would be too easy! 4.4 stars from me.
A few notes:
- 9A [“Human Behaviour” singer] BJORK – Why did I think this was Elon Musk’s spouse? That is Grimes! Bjork is now 55 years old, by the way!
- 15A [Daughter of LBJ] LUCI – Is there another famous LUCI? Did you even know this one existed??
- 35A [“Right Here Waiting” singer Richard] MARX – One of my wife’s favorite songs to play on the piano. Hopefully our piano gets fixed soon so she can play some stuff!
- 43A [“Le stagioni del ___ amore” (1966 movie also called “Seasons of Our Love”)] NOSTRO – Wow. I believe you!
- 7D [“Wabash Cannonball” singer Roy] ACUFF – I remember this dude from an appearance or two on Hee Haw. I am showing my age!
- 9D [“Pow!”] BLAMMO – There is a local band here in Northern Indiana that goes by this name. They are mainly a cover band, but if you’re in the mood to drink and dance, they do the trick!
- 27D [Circus act where an acrobat grabs on by the teeth] IRON JAW – I know about the bearded lady and the strongman, but this one is new to me. I also haven’t been to the circus in literally decades!
- 64D [National Asparagus Month] MAY – Talk about obscure trivia!!
That is all for now! Another Jonesin’ coming next week! Enjoy some music …
Rich Proulx’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We have circles! And a very new roaring ’20s theme:
- 20A [Street in London’s Brixton Market] ELECTRIC AVENUE
- 25A [Usual way in] FRONT ENTRANCE
- 46A [Where it’s hard to make a wrong turn] DEAD-END STREET
- 51A [Way to stay safe … or what each set of circles represents vis-à-vis its answer] SHELTER-IN-PLACE
How many times have we heard THAT phrase in the last 18 months? I told you it was timely! Nice and simple, as a Tuesday should be! A solid 4.5 stars from me for a clean puzzle.
A few notes:
- 14A [“Moi? Never!”] “NOT I!” – This was a recurring character in The Family Circus cartoons for years. I don’t read that comic as much; perhaps it still is!
- 33A [Indian title] SAHIB – This is in my gulf of missing Indian culture knowledge. Just like the food!
- 41A [Three-pointers, in hoops lingo] TREYS – Believe it or not, the NBA starts up in about 5 weeks!
- 11D [Enjoying-the-great-outdoors walk] NATURE HIKE – I am not a big hiker; perhaps I should be?
- 27D [Was a bit too enchanting] OOZED CHARM – My sons do this; they’re all hucksters!
- 28D [Self-transformation result, to the self] ‘NEW ME’ – Great entry.
- 39D [Optimistic quality] ROSINESS – I have been accused of this. I try to be positive! It doesn’t always work … !
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
David Alfred Bywaters’ Universal crossword, “Making Progress”— Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Phrases akin to “Making Progress” are reimagined and clued wackily.
- [Janitorial innovations?] SWEEPING CHANGES.
- [Revolutions in playground design?] SWING SHIFTS.
- [Improvement that makes paper money harder to counterfeit?] CASH ADVANCE.
- [Positive outcome of child psychology?] MINOR ADJUSTMENT.
Apologies for the delay in posting. I had the day off today for the Jewish holiday, and I completely forgot it was my day to post.
Solid idea here… I think I have to adjust my explanation of the theme to note that, really, only the second word of each phrase consistently has to do with “progress.” Though the entire phrases SWEEPING CHANGES and MINOR ADJUSTMENT do. But that doesn’t work with CASH ADVANCE (but of course the ADVANCE part does). And, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure what SING SHIFTS are, thought I’ve definitely heard the term. So not sure what camp that falls into.
Love the trivia in this one:
[“A dolphin sleeps with one eye open,” e.g.] FACT.
[Fruits that Turkey produces the most of] FIGS.
Universal is good at providing quirky clues like that here and there without it being redundant.
overall, 3.3 stars.
NYT had a nice “aha” moment and seemed just right for Tuesday. My only issue, as someone who has umpired baseball, is that umps don’t wear protective vests. You have a chest protector, which is much closer to a hockey player’s shoulder pads than to a vest, covered by a shirt. That said, other sports have umpires too, so perhaps they wear vests and this is not a baseball reference.
Since I expect it to be hard to put COP without a negative turn into a NYT puzzle (Impossible in a New Yorker), and it felt very weird to do so …. UMP eventually came as no surprise to a bad clue/fill pair misdirect since I agree with Philip. OK. Some umpires do have a type of under shirt garment with their chest pads, but not the majority. Sports didn’t make you smarter.
My only re write in the entire puzzle.
I did not find the revealer hard to see, the clue was very direct – read words, get answer. Not sure I get that point …
I can’t complain. Since it’s lacking arms and covers the top front of the body, it looks like a vest to me.
I liked the NYT fine enough, although it felt themeless till the end. Getting the spelling of the Chinese unit while learning who founded Zoom was a challenge, but this way I learned something. It’s always confused me that I remember Chinese money as yuan (or some other spelling), see it that way in the table of money in MW11C, and recognize the symbol (cap Y with two crossing horizontals), the Times always calls Chinese money the remnibi. I’m reading about the distinction online now. It’s not totally easy to get one’s head around.
Is it my imagination or did once upon time baseball umpires have a protector mounted on a pole, that they held in position with one hand?
I don’t recall that, but there was definitely a time when MLB umpires had an external chest protector that hung from their neck and was supported by a hand or a forearm. I believe that sometime in the last thirty years or so, umpires were first encouraged, and then required to wear the chest protector under their shirt. The rationale, as I recall, was that it allowed them to position themselves better to call balls and strikes.
It isn’t just balls and strikes. The new gear (which is light) allows you to be more nimble, so you can more quickly move into position for things like plays at the plate.
I thought the AL umps used them, and the NL did not. But this is relying on my memory from the 70s.
Your memory is good. Long before the 1970’s, NL umpires were using under-the-suit chest protectors, while AL umpires continued to use the external balloon. The balloon protector was gradually discontinued beginning in 1977 when new AL umpires were required to adopt the under suit protector. Not surprisingly, the disparity often caused some controversy during world series games when AL umps used the balloons and NL umps used the under-suit: AL umps were unable to crouch as low as the NL umps (because the balloon was big and cumbersome), so AL and NL umps inevitably saw the strike zone differently. Understandably, AL players hated the strike zone used by the NL umpires, while NL players hated the AL umps strike zones.
This kind of conversation is one of the things I love about this blog.
I’ve had plenty of bahn mi with some sort of pate on them so that definitely slowed me down.
When I first tried to download the WSJ and the Universal .puz files from the “Today’s Puzzles” page, I was dismayed when they didn’t work and was worried that I’d come to the end of this particular rainbow. I’m relieved that the links work now, but this episode reminds me that I’ve become very spoiled by whoever is responsible for posting the .puz files out here. My sincere thanks for doing what you do and to Amy for providing the venue.
Thanks, and sorry for the short outage. I’ve got a number of things going on on that server and a network change for something unrelated to puzzles broke the puzzle access for a few minutes. My “machine room” is getting more complicated than I can keep straight.
Zipped through the NYT, now I know to avoid banh mi because I’m also a cilantro-soap taster.
Weird that this comes up here today. My sister informed me the other day that she recently learned why cilantro tastes soapy to her. Apparently, it’s gene-related. Given that I like the taste of cilantro, I guess we don’t share that particular genetic trait.
@Ade re Xwordnation
Many hockey players will tell you that among their fondest memories as kids was playing POND HOCKEY – pick up games on fresh clean ice at the local pond that always began with the communal clearing of the snow off the ice to make the “rink.”
Wutang? Good grief–I looked it up but I stay don’t like it.
make that still
What’s not to like about Wutang?
USA Today 7D: “All I ____ of you . . .” (“My one request”)
ASKED fit. ASK OF (with the “of” following) does not.
Huh, the print edition clue was correct: “All I ___ you…”. And of course now I have Phantom stuck in my head…
WSJ: I don’t have a problem with “rubber band” . When I have a tense neck or a sore back or tired feet, I’ll ask hubs for a neck rub or back rub or foot rub… of course I mean massage, but rub is the word I (and I think many of us) might use.
I really enjoyed this theme :) .