Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 604), “Knock Around the Block!”—Ade’s take
Hello everybody! Here is hoping you are doing well and thawing out from this past weekend, at least for those who were affected by the brutal winter storm. Definitely hoping all are safe as well!
Today’s crossword causes us to take a long walk around the puzzle, as each of the words that make up the perimeter of the grid is a word that can also come before the word “
block.” “board.” (Typos and errors happen, people. Definitely had “board” in my head when writing it up, but not sure what happened in the execution, outside of not executing it correctly at the end. I should make more mistakes, by design, to generate more discussion then!)
- CHESS (1A: [Musical with the song “One Night in Bangkok”])
- STAR (6A: [Twinkler in Orion’s Belt])
- CLIP (10A: [Rate of speed])
- PLANNING (13D: [Setting goals for the New Year, say])
- BOOGIE (49D: [Move and groove on the dance floor])
- SKATE (68A: [Stingray relative])
- DART (67A: [Classic dodge model])
- HEAD (66A: [Eye site?])
- SANDWICH (35D: [Reuben-esque snack?])
- CHEESE (1D: [Word said while smiling at a camera])
Lots and lots (and lots) of themes, and sometimes it’s hard not to immediately go to the border entries and fill them all out once discovering the theme, which was done pretty quickly here. Loved the pair of long acrosses, with LEAVES TOWN (21A: [Gets out of Dodge?]) and WANDERLUST, which is what I was definitely feeling when I was holed up in my place this past weekend with the brutal cold having descended upon the Northeast (55A: [Travel lover’s urge]). Also, how about the the pairing up of a couple of iconic music pieces in terms of women’s empowerment, with I AM WOMAN (12D: [Helen Reddy feminist anthem]) and LEMONADE, if you look at the latter through the 2016 Beyoncé album of the same name that touched on the empowerment of Black women throughout (11D: [Picnic drink]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MESSI (33A: [Argentine footballer whose World Cup victory photo set an Instagram record]) – Here is the record-breaking photo, in terms of number of likes, of Argentina soccer player/captain/god-in-cleats Lionel Messi holding the World Cup trophy after Argentina defeated France in penalty kicks in the World Cup Final after the teams finished tied 3-3 after 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of added extra time after regulation ended 2-2. Yes, the game earlier this month was probably the greatest World Cup match of all time. At the end, the 35-year-old Messi finally matched what another Argentine footballing deity, Diego Maradona, accomplished back in 1986: winning the World Cup. Oh, here’s the photo, which broke the Insta likes record of a photo of an egg. Yes, just a regular egg.
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Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Flight Maneuver”—Jim P’s review
Theme: SEAT CHANGE (62a, [Irritated passenger’s request, and a hint to the ends of 17-, 27- and 48-Across]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words are anagrams (i.e. a CHANGE) of SEAT.
- 17a. [They may include camomile or rose hips] HERBAL TEAS.
- 27a. [Cooking Channel show that might feature a funnel cake bacon cheeseburger] CARNIVAL EATS. Never heard of this show, and it doesn’t sound like something I’d want to watch. I wonder if they track carnival eaters’ heart conditions on that show. Probably not.
- 48a. [Bill Graham’s Big Apple rock venue] FILLMORE EAST. Didn’t know this one either. It was only active from 1968 to 1971, so that probably explains it.
Solid Tuesday theme. Not knowing two of the three entries added to the difficulty, but I think they’re fair crossword entries. My other problem was not knowing 33d [Not kosher] was TREF, so the F in FILLMORE EAST was a little bit harder to come by. But it was the letter that made the most sense and I learned something new today, so it’s all good.
I’m really digging the long fill today: WORD SALAD, POOL PARTY, ALL EARS, PANACEA, NO SWEAT, and POLI SCI. Good stuff.
Clue of note: 44a. [Rapper’s appeal]. “OPEN UP!” One rapping on one’s chamber door, perhaps, not a hip-hop artist.
Solid theme, lovely fill. 3.5 stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Catch Me If You Can” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! Hope you’ve had some holiday break time for relaxing and solving. Did Matt rope you into his latest puzzle? Each theme entry contains a hidden rope con-trap-tion:
- 17a. [Heavy cannon turret used in the “Star Wars” universe] TURBO LASER. A BOLA is a set of weights connected by a cord that is thrown at an animal to catch it.
- 26a. [Native American ballerina who’ll be on one of the five 2023 American Women quarters] MARIA TALLCHIEF, whose Osage name was Ki He Kah Stah Tsa. A RIATA is another name for a lariat or a lasso.
- 43a. [Even considering consequences] DESPITE THE RISK. A TETHER is a line attached to an animal to restrict its movement.
- 56a. [2022 follow-up to “Knives Out”] GLASS ONION. As stated above, LASSO is another term for lariat or riata.
- 39a. [“Hold ___ your butts!”] ONTO. Robert Zemeckis reportedly uttered this line while sitting down for reshoots for Death Becomes Her, and screenwriter David Koepp liked it so much he added it to the script he was working on for the original Jurassic Park movie.
(Alt text: Samuel L. Jackson speaks in a dark room with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Text at the bottom in large white letters reads “Hold onto your butts.”) via GIPHY
Let’s just leave it at that, because my kid needs to go to bed and I can’t top Samuel L. Jackson saying “Hold onto your butts.” Wishing you peace and good health this holiday season and always. Until next week!
Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
The name of the game is DOUBLE-CROSS, [Betray … or a hint to what’s found in this puzzle’s shaded squares]. The highlighted squares contain words embedded within longer words/phrases, and each one can follow double as well as crossing another such word: STAND AT EASE crosses SPARKLE with double DATE and double-PARK within. BEAGLE and MAGENTA, a double EAGLE (golf term) crossing double AGENT. CHINA and DIPLOMACY, a double CHIN and double-DIP. Last, BILLY and the BEANSTALK hide a double BILL and double-TALK.
Literary vibe here, with Virgil’s AENEAS, Melville’s BILLY Budd, Thomas KYD, and W.H. AUDEN. Works for me, a former English major.
3.75 stars from me. Good night, folks!
Margaret Seikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
Happy day after Boxing Day! No boxing or unboxing going on here unless you count the ritual stowing of the Hanukkah gear. This puzzle has nothing to do with the season, which is perfectly fine. I didn’t completely grok the theme right away even with the revealer. It’s a solid and smooth Tuesday solve.
Did you figure out what the theme answers had in common?
- 6d [*Small child, facetiously] is an ANKLE BITER.
- 10d [*Endangered cat that turns white in winter] is a SNOW LEOPARD.
- 16d [*Salad of corn and black-eyed peas that originated in Texas] is COWBOY CAVIAR.
- 26d [*Sleeping option that lacks a box spring] is a PLATFORM BED.
- 32d [*Cinnamon roll with currants] is a CHELSEA BUN. I know about these thanks to The Great British Baking Show.
And the revealer: 62a [Start, as a computer, and what each answer to a starred clue has?] is BOOT UP. The first word of each theme answer is a kind of BOOT and they all go UP the grid. I was not familiar with the CHELSEA BOOT – or rather I was familiar with the boot and did not know that’s what it was called. For the record, this is what they look like. Also, for the record, my 22 yo daughter knows what it is and now wants to know why it’s called a CHELSEA BOOT.
Fun theme! I like the added fun of having all the answers in the Downs so that the revealer works more thoroughly. It doesn’t change the solving experience, which is fine – it’s Tuesday, after all – and it does make the puzzle seem more cohesive.
A few other things:
- It’s warmed all the way up to 23° F here today (I know that’s positively balmy compared to much of the country) and I am thinking dreamily of a CABANA.
- This is what LE MONDE brings to mind.
- 22a was indeed the DROID you were looking for.
- I always have to remind myself that the model is NAOMI Campbell and the actress is Neve.
- As long as I’m posting videos, here’s what APSE evokes.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: CHELSEA boot. COWBOY CAVIAR was also new to me.
Gary Larson and Amy Ensz’s Universal Crossword – “Say What?” – Matt F’s write up
Sorry for the late post today — the holiday weekend went by too fast and all of a sudden it was Tuesday! Squeezed this in between baby feedings and making breakfast. Lesson learned: it is much easier to tackle these the night before after all the kids are in bed!
Theme: Turning adjectives into verbs to put a fun twist on common phrases. Say what? Let’s take a look:
- 20A [Confess confidential information?] = STATE SECRETS
- 36A [Recite “Jabberwocky”?] =UTTER NONSENSE
- 54A [Deliver dialogue?] = EXPRESS LINES
These fun phrases reframe the first word as a “way to speak” (state, utter, express). Brilliant! I love a good pun theme, and all of these brought me a light chuckle as I slotted them in. Can’t ask for much more than that!
Standout fill: BUM STEER [Piece of false information], PARSIMONY [Stinginess], SWAN SONG [Final public performance], GAS PUMPS [Fuel dispensers].
Clever clues: [Kind of mirror or street] = TWO WAY (no “two-way” radio, though?), [Her ashes were the subject of a Frank McCourt memoir] = ANGELA, [Part of it is west of Los Angeles, oddly] = NEVADA, [“Get off my lawn!”] = SCAT, [Carnival follower] = LENT, [Caboodle’s partner] = KIT.
See you next week!
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today Crossword, “Rocky Starts” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Anna Gundlach
Theme: The first word of each theme answer begins with a type of rock.
- 20a [Lecture with blackboard illustrations] – CHALK TALK
- 36a [Publication with the column “Dear Prudence”] – SLATE MAGAZINE
- 56a [Bread with light and dark braids] – MARBLE RYE
Cute theme and title! I don’t always think of CHALK as a type of rock in the same way as SLATE and MARBLE, but it still fits. CHALK TALK specifically reminds me of when I used to play basketball, and our coach would call a chalk talk to draw out plays. That’s the main context I know the phrase from. I’m a regular “Dear Prudence” reader, so SLATE MAGAZINE was easy for me, although I did hesitate for a second on the “magazine” part of the answer.
The grid feels a little segmented to me, particularly in how closed off the NW and SE corners are from the rest of the puzzle. However, it doesn’t feel like there are a million 3 letter answers, which it can when the puzzle feels choppy, so that’s nice. There were a bunch of fun bonus downs today – SKINCARE, KIDS TABLE, QUIZZICAL, LEAD ROLE – and most of them didn’t rely on pop-culture name knowledge, which makes the puzzle easier for more people.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
No write-up as yet. This is a post-facto post, as I was unable to do crosswords for a few days. I’ll try to drop in some more discussion (still) later on.