Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 539), “Living the Dream!”—Ade’s take
Good day everybody! Hope all is well with you and that you’re coming off a good weekend! Maybe you had a nice dream during the weekend that put you in a better mood.
If that’s not the case, then seeing some of the dream weaving done in today’s grid might put you in a good mood. The five theme entries in today’s grid all start with words that can also come after the word “dream.”
- VACATION PACKAGE (17A: [Frequent “Wheel of Fortune” prize])
- KITCHEN GOD (24A: [Household deity in an Amy Tan title])
- STATE THE OBVIOUS (37A: [Say something like: “You were born on your birthday”])
- TEAM PLAYER (47A: [Co-worker who has your back])
- WORLD WITHOUT END (59A: [Ken Follett sequel to “The Pillars of the Earth”])
How about those non-themed 10-letter entries abutting a couple of the theme entries, DROPS NAMES (14A: [Brags about hanging out with Oprah and Gayle]) and the tasty ONION RINGS (64A: [Edible hoops])? As great as those are as fill in the grid, the latter now has my mind replaying commercials for Outback Steakhouse’s bloomin’ onion, which is a little annoying. Along with those 10s, there’s two nine-letter non-themed entries, ROCKETMAN (3D: [Elton John hit with the lyric “I miss the Earth so much, I miss my wife”]) and GOOD OMENS (34D: [Welcome signs?]), that intersect those 10-letter entries. Lots of meat on this crossword bone, and no need for onion rings to go with it…but the do, which is awesome! I love myself some TIES, but I doubt I’m going to try a cravat or ascot to go to formal occasions anytime soon (27A: [Cravats]). If anything, the open collar with a sport coat is the way to go!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PHILA (32A: [Home to the Liberty Bell: Abbr.]) – A short entry today, and the fill made me think of one of the great feats in the history of sport: Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a single basketball game. In that game on March 2, 1962, Chamberlain poured in a cool century of points against the New York Knicks, and the picture of holding up a piece of paper with “100” written on it has become one of the most memorable pictures in sport. Oh, and the uniform is also a classic, with the abbreviation “PHILA” across the chest of the jersey. Guess teams didn’t have the money for more sewing material to put the rest of the letters of the city on the jersey, huh?!? (This is not the iconic picture, but one of the Big Dipper drinking milk out of a carton. Just as awesome of a pic, if you ask me.)
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Adam Aaronson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Appraise Worthy”—Jim P’s review
The revealer is TAKES STOCK (60a, [Assesses the situation, or what each of 17-, 26-, 37- and 50-Across does]). The other revealers are familiar phrases that can be said to “take stock” with “stock” changing meaning in each instance.
- 17a. [Mall cop’s target] SHOPLIFTER. Stock as in a store’s wares.
- 26a. [Specialist in short-term investments] DAY TRADER. Stock as in shares in a company.
- 37a. [One who shouldn’t have a cow?] CATTLE RUSTLER. Stock as in moo cows.
- 50a. [Rightmost item in a place setting] SOUP SPOON. Stock as in a soup base.
Quite an enjoyable theme. Each phrase is familiar and spot on with each change in meaning. Well, maybe SOUP SPOON isn’t quite spot on, but I’m willing to give it some leeway. I especially love that CATTLE RUSTLER clue. *chef’s kiss emoji*
MERIT-BASED and SALES PITCH are our long fill items along with “GOOD IDEA!” and EXIT POLL. They make a nice foursome. I also like BODEGA, AWESOME, and APPLAUD.
Pro tip for constructors: When given the choice, fill your grid with happier, upbeat words. Solvers are more inclined to feel positively about your puzzle than if your grid was filled with words like “boring,” “drab,” or “blah.” Funny, this puzzle ends with SLOG, but I’ll still APPLAUD the constructor. Maybe the grid isn’t AWESOME, but the theme is definitely a GOOD IDEA.
Meghan Morris’s New York Times crossword—Jim P’s review
Jim P here, sitting in for Amy. It’s time to bone up on my geometry, because this grid’s got all the ANGLEs.
Our three main theme answers are familiar phrases (ish), and they each feature a word that is also a type of geometric angle. Further, stemming from those words is the word ANGLE itself, in circled letters and shooting off at an appropriate, well, ANGLE.
- 17a. [Refusing to understand] BEING OBTUSE with the final E leading to a circled ANGLE heading SE. If we’re using the horizontal as 0º, then the ANGLE is 225º which is greater than 90º thus making it an obtuse angle. Oh, before I forget, best use of “obtuse” in a movie has to go to The Shawshank Redemption (see below).
- 40a. [1989 Spike Lee title offering good, if vague, advice] DO THE RIGHT THING, with the central G of RIGHT part of the crossing revealer ANGLE (31d, [Relationship of the circled letters to the apt words they connect to in this puzzle]). That crossing is at 90º, thus a right angle. What an elegant touch to have RIGHT in the exact center of the grid crossing ANGLE at its exact center!
- 63a. [One of a résumé pair?] ACUTE ACCENT with the final E used as part of the ANGLE leading off at 45º, thus an acute angle.
I was no math major, so I hope I’m making sense of this theme.
Really nifty theme and no small feat of construction. BEING OBTUSE isn’t such an in-the-language phrase, but it doesn’t bother me so much considering everything else that’s going on here. There are some prices to pay due to all the constraints, but I don’t recall seeing a theme like this before, so I’m loving the novelty.
We have six long non-theme entries which is pretty impressive: W.E.B. DUBOIS, DEEP ROOTS, LIFE-GIVING, SETS ABLAZE, TEAR APART, and THE LATEST. The prices I alluded to earlier include plural AKAS, ESS and ENS, LIX, and suffix URE. Not terrible, but noticeable. But again, with a novel theme and clean crossings, they don’t irk so much.
Clues of note:
- 19a. [Org. enforcing RICO laws]. FBI. Didn’t know RICO, so I looked it up post-solve. It stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
- 44a. [Much-requested airplane seat]. AISLE. Not me. I’m a window guy. I much prefer having the wall to rest my head against.
- 66a. [To wit: Abbr.]. VIZ. This is completely new to me. Apparently the abbreviation is short for the Latin videlicet, which is a contraction of the phrase videre licet, which means “it is permitted to see.”
An enjoyable theme. Four stars. Congrats to our constructor on a fine debut!
And now as promised, the “obtuse” scene from The Shawshank Redemption. Note how that one word sets Andy’s life off an a whole new trajectory—or ANGLE, if you will.
Rachel Fabi and Malaika Handa’s USA Today Crossword, “Laughing on the Inside“ — Emily’s write-up
Excellent collab puz today with a gorgeous grid, fun entries, and great clues!
Theme: LOL (textspeak for “laugh out loud”) is found in each of the themers
- 17a. [Restaurant chain specializing in Mexican-style grilled chicken], ELPOLLOLOCO
- 39a. [1998 sporting event held in Korea], SEOULOLYMPICS
- 63a. [Greeting at a Galentine’s Day brunch], HELLOLADIES
What a hoot! Laughter (LOL) is at the core of each of today’s themers, with a secondary layer of shifting in placement for each one: first occurence is after five letters, second after four, and the third after three. ELPOLLOLOCO sounds delicious but I’ve not heard of it before since there aren’t any nearby; once I had a couple of letters from crossings, it was an easy enough fill though and a fun entry too not only as a phrase but also with the letter repetition! SEOULOLYMPICS was a slight stretch for me, since I wanted to put “summer” instead of the city name for the first half of this themer, although when that didn’t fit, re-reading the clue made it clear what it was meant to be. HELLOLADIES repurposes what can be a sexist phrase, based on tone and context, to a joyous celebratory greeting among friends.
Favorite fill: ALPACA, ORACLE, COG, and TACKLE
Stumpers: GOTSICK (couldn’t get passed “nauseous”), SILK (“dirt” and “soil” came to mind since I was thinking of earthworms), and SPELL (needed crosses)
This puzzle has a bit of everything, include complementary entires near each other. The southwest corner has a cluster of animals, all crossing each other: OPOSSUM, APES, LEMUR, and ALPACA. EEL is on its own, though it is a sea creature and not a mammal. SPIRITS is near ORACLE in the northeast quadrant. Also, TACO crosses ELPOLLOLOCO, along with CHOP which is done to Mexican-style grilled chicken before putting it in a tortilla. Yum!
Emily Carroll’s Universal crossword, “Make Yourself Heard” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Phrases that start with voice volumes.
- WHISPER NETWORKS.
- SAY ANYTHING.
- SCREAM QUEEN.
- SPEAKING VOLUMES.
Fantastic revealer. Delightful phrases to uncover. Tight, easily comprehended theme. Can’t ask for much more than that. This was an extremely fun puzzle, I think mostly due to the liveliness of the theme answers and interpreting the phrase SPEAKING VOLUMES as adj./N.
WHISPER NETWORKS is new to me I think. Maybe I’ve heard it in passing?
I know I saw SAY ANYTHING, but I’ll be damned if I could tell you anything about that movie other than John Cusack held up a boom box outside a house at some point. I think I also confuse it with Reality Bites.
And SCREAM QUEEN is such a great entry.
I usually like when the pillar answers are in-language phrases rather than single words, but CIRCUITOUS is so funky that I rather enjoy it.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Open Letters” – Derek’s write-up
We have another themeless Jonesin’ puzzle this week, and it is a toughie! Only 58 words in this one, as the flavortext kindly states. There are some great entries in here, but most notably, there is only one 3-letter entry and just 2 that are four letters long. Ironically, nothing too overly obscure here, other than an entry or two. At least I didn’t feel like there was a bunch of esoterica as I was solving. A masterful themeless puzzle; nice job, Matt! 4.7 stars.
A few notes!
- 1A [Trees lining the new Malahat Skywalk on Vancouver Island, B.C. (a spiral ramp tower with optional slide to the bottom)] ARBUTUSES –
- 19A [One with interior motives?] DECORATOR – Nice play on the phrase “ulterior motives”!
- 26A [Maneuvers famously pulled off by rapper Lil Uzi Vert] STAGE DIVES – Chances are high I will never be at a Lil Uzi Vert concert.
- 35A [Puzzle magazine with a “Pencilwise” section] GAMES – My favorite magazine!!
- 45A [Film critic Kenneth who stepped down from the L.A. Times in 2020] TURAN – See 35D
- 46A [Notable feature of “Careless Whisper”] TENOR SOLO – Specifically, a tenor saxophone, yes?
- 1D [Like eels and flukes, biologically] APODAL – They have no legs!
- 2D [Brazilian gymnast Andrade, gold medalist in the vault in Tokyo] REBECA – File this alternative spelling away! Nice find!
- 3D [Modified leaves on flower stems] BRACTS – Tough word! A new one to me.
- 14D [SAT takers, e.g. (and not… body parts)] TESTEES – Funny!
- 35D [CNN senior political analyst David who advised four administrations] GERGEN – These are the two main obscurities in the puzzle, but all crossings are fair. This is the kind of stuff you can get away with in indie puzzles!
Another Jonesin’ next week!
Catherine Cetta’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
What is our theme today? You have to look carefully! Notice what the revealer says at 56- and 58-Across:
- 56A [With 58-Across, salad fixings … and what you’ll find aptly hidden in puzzle rows 4, 6 and 10] CHOPPED VEGGIES
So if you look carefully at those rows mentioned, you should see hidden the words ONION, TOMATO and CARROT. Didn’t notice at all when I was solving, so a nice “a-ha!” moment. I do recognize this constructor byline, but it is not someone I am too familiar with. After going to several crossword tournaments over the last few decades, I sometimes think I know almost every constructor. But that is surely not the case! Everyone cannot always travel all across the country for these awesome weekends. I myself wasn’t able to do so for quite a while when I had small children. But I hope to meet Catherine Cetta in person someday so I can personally tell her I enjoy her puzzles! 4.5 stars from me.
A few more things:
- 15A [Actress __ Neal of “Law & Order: SVU”] DIANE – Probably not the most famous DIANE one can find, but all of us have seen this show. It’s been on for 20+ years!!
- 44A [Gaming novice, slangily] NOOB – This is me when playing games that require dexterity and speed. Give me a puzzle game any day!
- 1D [Part of PBR] PABST – Yuck. Drink literally ANYTHING else.
- 11D [“This is very flattering!”] “I’M HONORED!” – Great casual phrase!
- 25D [Pizza Hut competitor] DOMINO’S – Both nasty and only suitable for emergencies!
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!