Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 544), “Seating Arrangements”—Ade’s take
Good day, everyone! Before anything else, I have to say one thing: VOTE!!
Here is hoping that you are all doing well on this Election Day. Many people are running for seats in government, though today’s grid does some funny things with seats! The first five letters of the answers to the starred clues are anagrams of the word “chair,” with the fifth and final theme entry, FOUR CHAIR TURNS, acting as the revealer (63A: [Top honors on NBC’s “The Voice”…and an alternate title suggested by the starts of the starred answers]).
- CHARIOTS OF FIRE (16A: [*Oscar-winning historical sports drama film]) – Jones’ role in the movie was patterned after one of the greats in the history of boxing, former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.
- ARCHIPELAGO (29A: [*Key chain])
- RICHARD II (37A: [*At age 10, he became the King of England]) – I feel so unaccomplished
- CHIAROSCURO (50A: [*Contrast of light and dark, as in Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch”]) – …or like the cinematic effect in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Absolutely got off to the worst start, putting in “chow” for ALPO and getting stuck from the very beginning (1A: [Rover’s bowlful]). Chow, Alpo, Iams, oh my! In that area, and in the southeast, are those stacks of seven-letter entries doing down, and 12 seven-letter entries overall definitely made for some fun fill. Of that dodecad of entries, probably my favorite was the clue/entry combination of DEFRAUD (54A: [Take for a ride?]). Definitely felt a Eurocentric vibe to the grid when solving as well, from Richard II to chiaroscuro to PIET (69A: [Dutch artist Mondrian]) to AUSTRIA (46D: [Mozart’s birthplace]) to even CELT, despite its cluing referencing the struggling NBA team (13A:[Boston NBAer, briefly]). To boot, anyone here get down to the FRUG during their ’60s or ’70s heyday (18D: [“Groovy” 1960s dance])? I mean, if I was living (and dancing) during that time, I would have been more of a twist or funky chicken person. But hey, I can dig this, too!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EMERSON (12D: [“Nature” essayist]) – The 2022 tennis season will start with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tied atop the leaderboard for most men’s singles Grand Slam titles with (21), but, not too long, ago, the man perched atop that list used to be Australian Roy Emerson, who won 12 singles Grand Slam titles in his Hall-of-Fame career. Emerson won his first GS singles title at the 1961 Australian Open, and he also won the US Open that same year. Emerson won the Australian Open six times, and won each of the other three majors twice, winning his final major in singles at Roland Garros (French Open) in 1967. His record of 12 singles Grand Slams stood for over 33 years, until Pete Sampras won his 13th GS title at Wimbledon in 2000. Oh, and to go along with his staggering 16 doubles titles in Grand Slams, Emerson, to this day, has more Grand Slam titles than any male player at 28. A living legend, for sure!
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Vaibhav Srikaran & Matthew Stock’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Roy G. Biv gets his moment in the sun … while it’s still raining. A DOUBLE RAINBOW (52a. [Rare sighting after a storm … or a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters]) is made by arching the stacked letters RR OO YY GG BB II VV, representing the initials of the colors of the rainbow. This rainbow is rather pointier than the ones in the sky, mind you.
The rest of the puzzle basically plays like a themeless—you can use the double-letter pattern to fill in the circled squares, but that’s it. We do get some colorful longer fill: KOOKABURRA, ERECTOR SET, adorable BABY YODA (aka Grogu), and MEDIA-SAVVY.
Five more things:
- 18a. [Gala, e.g.], BIG DO. Didn’t see this clue while solving and I’m not sure I like the entry. I do like Gala APPLEs, though! Hot tip: If your local fruitmonger has SweeTango apples, get some while they’re in season. They’re my favorite.
- 27a. [Tension-based cutting tool], BOW SAW. I have never heard of such a thing. Turn’s out I’ve seen it, didn’t know it had that name … which basically uses BOW the same way RAINBOW does, awkwardly enough.
- 10d. [There’s an official one for every month], GEM. My birthstone is the peridot and I can’t say I’m a fan. Yellow-green has never been a good color for me. Always did envy the February people with their amethyst!
- 32d. [Where the crispest brownies are found in a brownie pan], EDGE. They do sell brownie pans that are basically a simple maze, so every brownie is an edge piece. I don’t have one but I approve of this concept. Big fan of crispy cookies and crispy brownie edges.
- 48d. [Words of agreement in Shakespeare], BE IT SO. I wondered to myself, Is this really in Shakespeare? And a Google search shows me that yes, Shakespeare used the phrase in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Titus Andronicus, if not more plays.
3.5 stars from me.
Donna Hoke’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dining on the Campaign Trail”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar phrases that start with a word that can also be a food are clued with respect to a political candidate visiting an apt restaurant (it being Election Day today).
- 18a. [What a candidate might do at House of Thai?] CURRY FAVOR. Strong start to the theme.
- 24a. [What a candidate might do at Peking Palace?] DUCK A SCANDAL. Hmm. Not nearly as strong as the first entry. Is this a common phrase? It doesn’t Google well.
- 40a. [What a candidate might do at IHOP?] WAFFLE ON AN ISSUE. This is a bit better but still not a standalone in-the-language phrase.
- 49a. [What a candidate might do at Veggie Galaxy?] SQUASH A RUMOR. Better. Is there really a Veggie Galaxy restaurant?
- 60a. [What a candidate might do at McDonald’s?] SHAKE HANDS. Good.
Hit and miss with the entries for me, but overall I like the consistency and the imaginative scenarios. Very timely as well.
Similar to yesterday’s grid, I don’t see anything longer than seven letters in the fill, and only AVENUES at that length. I do like NAGANO and TYRONE Power. Not so keen on ON NBC. And LAMS. Does anyone ever use the word lam except in “on the lam”?
No clues that I noted for comment, so I will leave things there. I like the cute theme though the strength of entries varied. 3.5 stars.
Ann Shan & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Face Front“ — Emily’s write-up
An excellent puzzle today with a fun theme and great clues!
Theme: Each themer is a phrase starting (in “front”) with the name of one of the “face” cards from a card deck.
- 17a. [Opposite of a specialist], JACKOFALLTRADES
- 35a. [Nickname for Ella Fitzgerald], QUEENOFJAZZ
- 54a. [Game played on a hill], KINGOFTHECASTLE
Such a great theme today—the title is just enough of a hint, and paired with the first themer clue, I got the pattern right away. My favorite cluing today is for JACKOFALLTRADES, for which “generalist” came to mind and lead right to the themer with “…master of none” to follow. Sadly, Ella’s nickname took me longer than it should have, as I had to double back later to complete it. The last part of KINGOFTHECASTLE stumped me until I had the “c” crossing, as I know the game as “hill” or “mound” instead. Still a very fun theme and it is in order of jack, queen, king. Nicely done!
Favorite fill: PHO, LIN, CHANT, MANDALA, WISH, and STEED
Stumpers: RECAP (good misdirect for me, I was thinking “total” or “added”), MAZEL (needed crossings, just didn’t click sooner for me), and PEONY (I could only think of dandelions)
Love the clue for WISH, especially with featuring 11:11, which is the most delightful of the wish times (e.g. time with the same number repeated). Also, I filled in STEED and immediately heard Donkey’s voice from Shrek “I hope you heard that. She called me a ‘noble steed’. She thinks I’m a steed!” Lastly, I enjoyed OREOS which was a new clue (at least for me) but since it was a cookie clue, my instinct of the entry turned out correct. Fun fact, having started following many in the crossword community, I now have an overabundance of Oreos ads in my Twitter feed, after never seeing any there before. Ha!
I hope there are more collabs between Ann and Brooke in the future!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Cat-astrophe” – Derek’s write-up
My wife is a cat-lover, so she enjoyed this theme! I, too, prefer cats to dogs, but I also prefer no pets overall! Did you know all of the cats paired together in the theme answers?
- 17A [Role in an Oregon capital production of “The Odd Couple”?] SALEM FELIX
- 25A [Brady in charge of every round piece of sporting equipment?] ALL BALL TOM
- 36A [Footwear merch for “Wuthering Heights” fans?] HEATHCLIFF SOCKS
- 50A [Find lead singer Day at the right Time?] SPOT MORRIS
- 61A [20th U.S. president picking a side in the “war of the currents”?] D.C. GARFIELD
I believe Salem is from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Felix, Tom, Heathcliff and Garfield are all from the comics or cartoons. All Ball is the “pet” of Koko the Gorilla! Morris is from the 9 Lives commercials. D.C is from That Darn Cat! Spot the Cat is a children’s book, and finally Socks roamed the White House when the Clintons were there. Did I miss any? Lots of opportunity for punny clues in this theme. 4.4 stars from me!
A few comments, including several obscure trivia notes:
- 15A [Moses Malone’s league, once] A.B.A. – There are a lot of players that could have been used in this clue, but all are getting dated! This league hasn’t been around in nearly 50 years!
- 21A [Kunis who voices Meg Griffin] MILA – How did I not know this??
- 64A [“___ Blue Moon” (Marie Osmond song)] “A TOO …” – I don’t know this song.
- 11D [Without a middle, geometrically] ACENTRIC – Doesn’t everything have a center?
- 24D [Rapper Travis who had a signature McDonald’s meal] SCOTT – Know your rappers!
- 27D [“___ Place to Land” (Janae Marks book)] “A SOFT …” – Never heard of it!
- 37D [Cartilaginous layer between vertebrae and disks] END PLATE – Don’t know this term either. All I know is my back always hurts.
- 38D [Place to see cars indoors] AUTO SHOW – We go to the Chicago Auto Show every so often. It’s a nice day trip!
- 40D [“Grease” band ___ Na Na] SHA – Used to watch their show all the time. It came on before The Muppet Show!
- 49D [Old Radio Shack home computers] TANDYS – We called the TRS-80 computers “trash-80s” when I was in high school. They seem so primitive compared to what we have today!
- 63D [Barinholtz announced to work on the Mel Brooks series “History of the World, Part II”] IKE – I heard about this! Finally a sequel after literally decades! (At least I think it’s a sequel!!)
That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week! Enjoy some Marie Osmond!
Daniel Bodily’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another new database name! I think the pandemic influx of new constructors is still rolling! Nice theme idea, too:
- 3D [*1956 Burt Lancaster film, with “The”] RAINMAKER
- 6D [*Desperation gridiron pass] HAIL MARY
- 8D [*Big name in film festivals] SUNDANCE
- 11D [*Seven Dwarfs’ housekeeper] SNOW WHITE
- 62A [Out of sorts … or where four answer-ending words (see starred clues) can be found?] UNDERTHEWEATHER
So the latter part of the down-facing theme answers are literally under a word that is a form of weather. Nice! Although this is reminding me that snow is on the way! I am gonna have to move somewhere warmer ASAP! If this is a debut, congratulations! 4.6 stars from me!
A few more notes:
- 14A [Pacific island ceded by Spain to the U.S. in 1899] GUAM – Didn’t know this either. But it sounds like a great place to visit. Do you even need a passport to go to Guam?
- 18A [Detroit NFL team] LIONS – I am waiting for them to change the name of this team because their sad record may actually offend actual lions!
- 41A [Fozzie Bear’s frog pal] KERMIT – I love the Muppets! But I hate that Disney owns them now. What don’t they own??
- 51A [“You’ve got mail” ISP] AOL – People still use this??
- 68A [Lahr of “The Wizard of Oz”] BERT – Was there an opportunity to tie-in to 41A missed here? BERT is a Muppet, too!
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
Hal Moore’s Universal crossword, “Schmossword”— Jim Q’s write-up
Best title for a crossword ever. I don’t even care what the theme is.
THEME: Ridiculous rhyming phrases with SCHM- words.
- 20A [Ballroom dance’s sentimentality?] WALTZ SCHMALTZ.
- 35A [Beloved bagel topping?] DEAR SCHMEAR.
- 52A [Chitchat over drinks?] BOOZE SCHMOOZE.
Love that this puzzle didn’t try to cram one (or even two) more themers in, giving it plenty of room to breathe with those very enjoyable, tight phrases.
Also, very peculiar to see non-theme-related grid-spanners. Here they’re ANSWERED TO NO ONE, and CATLIKE REFLEXES. Both excellent, and neither of which draws attention away from the theme at all. That’s remarkable. They are literally pillars of excellence.
Really enjoyed this one.