Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 591), “Square Space”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everyone! Hope you all are doing well and staying safe and that you’re enjoying the cooler temperatures.
We have an around-the-world theme of a grid, in which the answers that make up the borders of the grid are all words that can come before the word house. Two other entries, BLOCK HOUSE, act as the reveal/instruction (43A: [With 36-Across, stronghold (and a hint to the puzzle theme)]).
- HALFWAY (1A: [How you might see someone])
- PORTER (8A: [Baggage handler])
- ROAD (13D: [Fork locale])
- GREEN (34D: [Eco-friendly])
- FIRE (61D: [Give the axe to])
- PANCAKE (69A: [Epitome of flatness])
- PUBLIC (68A: [Word with enemy or library])
- FLOP (53D: [Broadway disaster])
- COURT (26D: [Woo])
- HASH (1D: [Discuss, with “over”])
Highlight for me were the chunky blocks of seven-letter entries in each corner of the grid, and I remember my dad mentioning ONASSIS once in comparing his riches to my dad’s lack of money, and I remember not knowing who the heck he was (66A: [Aristotle born in 1906]). PERSONA also was fun to see in the grid as well (17A: [Literally narrator or character]). It’s getting closer to winter time, and my lack of motivation in wanting to run during the cooler months has me thinking I should invest in getting a TRAINER to maintain whatever shape that I got into during the summer (67A: [Fitness guru]). Probably am going to remain being stubborn in not ever spending money on a fitness center/gymnasium to stay in shape. Really need to get rid of that mental block soon enough!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LEBARON (62A: [Old Chrysler model]) – One of the first people who defied expectations despite his size in the National Football League, 5-foot-9 Eddie LeBaron played quarterback for the Washington football team and the Dallas Cowboys from 1952 to 1963, making the Pro Bowl four times. He was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1952 after serving in the Korean War, and ended his career with 104 career touchdown passes. LeBaron, known for his scrambling ability, remains the shortest quarterback to ever to be selected to the Pro Bowl.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Stateside” – Erin’s write-up
Hello, dears! This week’s Jonesin’ puzzle has a national theme, so let’s break it down.
- 17a. [Carriers that only offer nonstop flights?] EXPRESS AIRLINES
- 32a. [The Three Stooges’ Roman ancestors?] PIE GLADIATORS
- 38a. [Hitchcock sequel set at Yale?] PSYCHO BULLDOG
- 53a. [The schmaltziest pop orchestra music you’ll ever hear?] BANDSTAND CHEESE
These all seem pretty randomly thrown together, until the revealer shows up with its aha moment goodness:
- 59a. [Word that can precede each individual word in the four theme answers] AMERICAN
So the first theme entry gives us American Express and American Airlines, etc. Not bad! BANDSTAND CHEESE does nothing for me, but I did giggle at the thought of a pie fight to the death in the Colosseum.
- 15a. [Japanese fashion designer Issey (who passed away in August 2022)] MIYAKE. I’m not sure how to sum up his fashions, other than lots and lots of pleats.
- 23d. [Veruca Salt song that you “can’t fight”] SEETHER. Ah, 90s alternative rock at its best…
- 47d. [Link’s “Good Mythical Morning” partner] RHETT. Link Neal and Rhett McLaughlin have co-hosted this YouTube variety show since 2012.
That’s it for now. Until next week!
Peter Koetters’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Shorter reviews from me these days because the thing that sent me to back surgery six months ago has recurred, and the ergonomic positions for sitting at a computer hurt. So … short recaps.
Theme: 69a. [Any of 12 represented in this puzzle’s shaded squares], MONTH. The circled/shaded squares within longer words contain 3-letter abbrevs for months, from JAN through DEC.
Fave fill: LEVITICUS (hope our Jewish friends are having a convivial and filling Rosh Hashanah!), FEBREZE, SAILFISH.
Not so friendly to Tuesday newbies: ORLY airport (oh really?), CAEN, JAGR, UNA, ULEE’S / GOLD, OGEE (!), ENS as the plural of a letter name, spelled-out VEE. Other foreign vocab besides UNA: APRES and MIO.
Three stars from me. Add up the words with the months + MONTH, and you get about 70 theme squares. Hard to get smooth fill in a 15×15 grid with that much theme.
Billy Ouska’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fall in Line”—Jim P’s review
Theme entries are idioms which roughly mean “conform,” which is the clue for each entry with an added context.
- 17a. [Conform, militarily] FOLLOW THE LEADER.
- 29a. [Conform, historically] DO AS THE ROMANS DO.
- 45a. [Conform, musically] JOIN IN THE CHORUS.
- 59a. [Conform, nautically] DON’T ROCK THE BOAT.
Pretty neat how synonymous these are and that they’re all grid spanners. A nice discovery! I would say that JOIN IN THE CHORUS feels less like conforming and more like adding one’s contribution to the whole, thereby ensuring strength in numbers. But it’s not that far a leap to an alternate definition. Impressive themeset.
Some nice longer fare in BARITONE, ALLSTATE, ARAPAHO, and “TOO LATE.” And nary an entry to scowl about.
Clues of note:
- 30d. [Star often compared to Venus]. SERENA. Nice clue. If it weren’t so nice, I’d wonder why it didn’t echo the clue for 63d TED [Baseball great Williams].
- 49d. [Uninspired holiday gift]. CASH. Especially these days when fewer and fewer people use it for their daily transactions.
Nifty theme and a solid grid. 3.75 stars.
I would never have guessed there was a musical group named The Hues Corporation, but here we are. Though I didn’t remember their name, I certainly remembered their big hit. But I can’t tell if the message is DON’T ROCK THE BOAT or conversely, go ahead and “Rock the Boat.” I guess take it however you’d like to take it. Enjoy this flashback.
Christina Iverson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
I’m not going to go through and count, but it seems to me that we’re seeing a lot more women in the LAT constructor lineup since Patti Varol became the editor there. Go, Patti!
The revealer confused me for a minute. Let’s take a look. The grid is 16×16, which gives Christina room for two nice 16-letter entries.
- 17a [*Another thing altogether] is a WHOLE NEW BALLGAME. I think it kind of needs the “a” to really work as a phrase, and that’s a minor nit.
- 30a [*William S. Burroughs novel] is NAKED LUNCH. I kept trying to make this a Tarzan book. Wrong. That’s Edgar Rice Burroughs. Nothing in Wikipedia suggests they were related (she says, emerging from an Internet rabbit hole with her hair a bit rumpled, shaking dust off her hands).
- 49a [*Background sound that may be a sleep aid] is WHITE NOISE. Since menopause struck, I keep a fan going in my bedroom all the time. Air moving + white noise = better sleep.
And the revealer that had me, well, puzzled: 65a [Ice-breaker activity involving three claims, or what the starts of the three starred clues literally are] is TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE. At first I thought one of the entries was a lie. I must have missed “the starts of” in that clue, because it’s WHOLE TRUTH, NAKED TRUTH, and WHITE LIE. A very satisfying theme in a Tuesday-appropriate puzzle. Nothing in the fill bothered me. I admittedly did the puzzle in a post-matzah-ball-soup fog on Monday evening, so it’s possible I missed something.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Michael S. Regan is head of the EPA. Shame on me.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
I HAVE QUESTIONS
- 14a [The one that gets away, in movies] FINAL GIRL.
- 11d [They’re asses on set] STUNT BUTTS. Okay, I think I’ve realized with this is. Body doubles for intimate nude scenes?
I HAVE SLIGHTLY LESS PRESSING QUESTIONS
- 47d [Print collectors, for short] CSIS. Do we pluralize this?
- 36a [Saks competitor, informally] NEIMANS. I guess it’s plausible for Neiman-Marcus, but I’ve not heard it. Not that I would have much occasion to.
- 44a [Bee bop?] WAGGLE DANCE. “Bop” is covering a lot of ground here, in my opinion.
I HAVE SOME FAVORITES
- 17a [Piece of paper for drawing, painting, and the like?] ART DEGREE.
- 31a [Ones who jump through hoops at work, perhaps] ACROBATS.
- 8d [Pursues one’s dreams?] SLEEPS.
HERE ARE SOME MORE STANDARD OBSERVATIONS BUT I’M CAPITALIZING THIS ANYWAY FOR CONSISTENCY
- 5a [Has a date?] EATS. The palm fruit.
- 18a [Nickel and dime, e.g.] NOUNS. Never a big fan of detached clues like this. 30d [Total stranger , colloquially] RANDO.
- 28a [“L’enfer, __ les autres”: Sartre] C’EST. Hell is other people.
- 34a [Typeface seen in the works of Barbara Kruger] FUTURA. “She is most known for her collage style that consists of black-and-white photographs, overlaid with declarative captions, stated in white-on-red Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed text.” (Wikipedia).
- 50a [Locale for snakebite piercings] LIP. Was unfamiliar with this terminology.
- 55a [Common YouTube uploads?] RAP VIDEOS. Veiled capital.
- 60a [Like numbers on a number line] REAL. Wikipedia sez: “In mathematics, a real number is a value of a continuous quantity that can represent a distance along a line.”
- 10d [Jobs agency under L.B.J.’s Great Society] OEO. Have not seen this before. Office of Economic Opportunity.
- 25d [Arya’s sister on “Game of Thrones”] SANSA, which is also an alternate name for a MBIRA, or thumb-piano.
- 26d [Ones rolling in the deep] OCEAN WAVES.
- 33d [Beings that might look like intersecting wheels covered in eyes, per Ezekiel 10] ANGELS. I see a lot of memes involving “biblically accurate angels” in one of the facebook groups I belong to.
- 37d [Zoomers’ successors] GEN ALPHA. Another new thing I’ve learned.
- 56d [Try to uncover cookie-dough chunks in a pint of ice cream, say] DIG. This seems like a very personal clue.
- 48d [“Devil May __” (Bugs Bunny cartoon)] HARE. From 1945, and the début of the Tasmanian Devil character.
Despite the stuff that was unfamiliar, this crossword was perhaps a bit easier than I’ve been accustomed to from the New Yorker on Tuesdays.
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today Crossword, “Among Friends” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Anna Gundlach and Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is surrounded by the letters “BFF”
- 20a [Doodling during a lecture, for example] – BORED STIFF
- 37a [Continues onto a new path] – BRANCHES OFF
- 58a [Dress shirt part with wrist buttons] – BARREL CUFF
I haven’t seen Anna’s name as a USA Today editor before, so that’s exciting!!
Solid “letters surrounding the theme answers” theme, with some uncommon letters to up the interest level. BORED STIFF was my favorite theme answer, although I am not sure about the clue since I know folks who doodle as a concentration technique.
It felt like there were a ton of black squares today – maybe that was because they were all concentrated in the middle of the puzzle? The length of BRANCHES OFF kind of requires a weird grid configuration, but the grid felt choppy to me. That being said, I liked BLUNT CUT, DON BURI and HOME TURF as fill.
NYT: I imagine this was a challenge to construct – fitting all those three-letter abbreviations into other fill, in order – but I didn’t have much fun solving it. After JAN and FEB and the “M” from MAR appeared on the first pass, it was pretty evident what the theme was and so, 29 more squares got filled in right away. That, and a plethora of 3-letter entries made it a little too easy for my taste, and a bit boring. Maybe the theme would be better suited to a Sunday-size grid.
It took me a little longer to see the months, but otherwise my reaction was the same as yours.
Similar for me. Also, OCTET and October both start with a sense of eight. I don’t think the other months and entries share this (Pannonica?). Of course, OCT is rather limiting. I doubt OC Transpo would fly anyplace outside of Ottawa and Carleton.
By the same token, you could nitpick that AUGIE is a nickname for Augustus and the month of August is named for the emperor of that name. And JULES is a variant of Julius, and the month of July is named for Julius Caesar.
Thanks. I should have noticed those
NYT: To me this is more of a Monday than even Tuesday. Enough challenges to keep a new solver interested, but all getable with crossings. The only thing I needed a cross for was Jagr. I probably didn’t see all the downs. (completely missed the “Ens” clue/ans.) . Two rows max should give the whole theme away, making the rest of the circle/shaded boxes obvious to help a newer solver.
I did like the puzzle and theme, but just think it was pretty easy-breezy, easier than yesterday’s.
It definitely played easier with shading than it would have without. Peter kvetched, good-naturedly but understandably, about that editorial addition in his constructor notes.
NYT: “IM IT” – said no one ever while playing tag (if so, you’re playing it wrong)
I’ve wondered about this several times when I’ve seen this answer in puzzles. I’m 50+ years removed from my last game of tag, and what I mostly remember is shouting “You’re it!” when I tagged someone. But I don’t remember how we started the game – did someone proclaim “I’m it!” or what?
I haven’t played tag in 50+ years myself, but I think we probably started by playing some “random” selection process lie “one potato, two potato.”
See below my new response. The way to choose “it” in a game of tag is for everyone to shout “not it.”
I came here to make this same gripe. The usual cry is “not it.” Whoever is last is “it.” No one wants to be it, so no one ever says “I’m it.”
As for “ago” as an answer for “in the past,” it makes no sense, and I wish they’d stop using it.
TNY: We’re on the same wavelength, Pannonica. And btw that Tasmanian devil looks just like Taz! Or should I say vice versa?
I too found FINAL GIRL “questionable.” After reading up on it, I accept that it’s a horror film trope, just never heard the phrase. Similar reaction to STUNT BUTT. Inferable (though the “Super-uber” crossing wasn’t much help) but BUTT DOUBLE is really the term, no?
Pretty smooth sailing otherwise. Fun clue for ART DEGREE. Favorite entry, though, was a gimme for this bee enthusiast, while I can imagine it being tricksy for some : WAGGLE DANCE!
I had those reservations too. Got it all though.
WSJ: Shyness is certainly not a “trademark” of introverts. That’s just ignorant and frankly offensive. I’m highly introverted and my level of shyness is a zero on any scale.
I get that this is inaccurate, but why is it “offensive?”
It’s not offensive to me, but I know that some introverted people have experienced a lot of unfair treatment due to perceptions and misperceptions about the meaning of introversion. If someone has been actively harmed by those stereotypes, it’s not unreasonable to find them offensive.
Yeah … I don’t get that either. Ignorant possibly, but offensive? It’s not like shyness is defamatory, is it?
Doh … I intended this post as a reply to the previous thread.
Anyone notice the 1 star average for the Jonesin puzzle? That is weird and very curious and not at all typical of the reviews.