Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Watch Your Step”
Matt’s theme this week is things you don’t want to step on, especially when you’re barefoot:
- 17a. [Sluggish crawl], SNAIL’S PACE with a NAIL stuck in it.
- 61a. [Coffee break talk], IDLE GOSSIP with an infernal LEGO brick menacing your foot. Generations of parents have experienced the special hell that comes from the corner of a Lego.
- 11d. [Chews the scenery], OVEREMOTES with a REMOTE control. I’d be more concerned about breaking the remote than hurting my foot. (The other three are things that will hurt your foot. Theme mismatch!) Also, OVEREMOTES hurts my brain as this is not a great word. Emoting can be defined as overacting, but what is overemoting? Is there an ideal degree of emoting that some exceed?
- 30d. [They're "in flight," according to "Afternoon Delight"], SKYROCKETS. Video break! The hidden ROCK can hurt your sole. The verb form of “skyrocket” is far more common than the Starland Vocal Band’s noun.
Not sure why the step-onable objects are all hidden within longer phrases. Between that, the mismatch between three things that hurt your foot and one that gets damaged by your foot, and the awkward OVEREMOTES, I’m not loving the theme.
I do love some of the fill, though:
- 32a. Confidently], LIKE A BOSS. We would also have accepted LIKE A BAWSE.
- 44a. He married a Kardashian], KANYE WEST. We would also have accepted LAMAR ODOM.
- 33d. They won three World Series in the 1970s], OAKLAND A’S. We would also have accepted CHICAGO CUBS. (What? They may have DREAMT it while they SLEPT.)
Toughest crossing: It’s a tie! It’s either where 22a. ["Hawaii Five-O" actor Fong], KAM meets 23d. ["Top Gun" enemy planes], MIGS, or it’s where 28d. [Bill of umpiring fame], KLEM meets 28a. [She played Rudy on "The Cosby Show"], KESHIA. I know Keshia Knight Pulliam but never heard of Klem. (Note! Keshia is now 35 years old.)
New fill: 46d. [Concerning, when texting], WRT. With respect/regards to.
Lots of names in the grid this week. Not a problem for me, KLEM and KAM notwithstanding, but likely to vex a good number of solvers. 3.25 stars from me.
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s New York Times crossword
BARS are the name of the game here, clued as 67a. [Signs of cell service ... or a word that can follow both parts of 18-, 23-, 36-, 52- and 58-Across]:
- 18a. [Like much snack food for hikers], HIGH ENERGY. High bars in gymnastics, energy bars to eat.
- 23a. [Small order of greens], SIDE SALAD. Sidebars to a news story, salad bars like the one I got today’s lunch from.
- 36a. [Clearing], OPEN SPACE. Open bars for free drinks, space bars on keyboards.
- 52a. [Season ticket holder for baseball, basketball and football, say], SPORTS NUT. “Sports nut” is not solidly as in-the-language as SPORTS FAN, and I surely wasn’t the only person to fill in FAN here. Sports bars full of TVs, nut bars … well, you can’t beat the gluten-free Kind bars, chock full o’ nuts.
- 58a. [Glazed dessert], COFFEE ROLL. I filled in COFFEE CAKE and later Googled “coffee roll” to see what it is. Dunkin’ Donuts sells a coffee roll that’s basically a glazed cinnamon roll; this video reviewer says it’s a “buy.” Coffee bars are joints like Starbucks, I guess, and roll bars are those things on cars.
Theme works fairly well, though I’m not entirely sold on 52a and 58a.
Secret duplication: The stand-alone ERG (7d. [Fraction of a joule]) is the etymological twin of part of themer HIGH ENERGY. One ERG is enough in any puzzle.
Top fill: KIKI DEE for ’70s nostalgics, YOGA MAT, Freddy KRUEGER, electoral RUNOFFS, and JIFFY crossing GUFF. Don’t give me any GUFF!
“Meh” fill: French partial RUE DE; crosswordese REATA (22a. [Bit of gaucho gear]); plural abbrevs STS and SRS; ON CDS (34d. [Obsolescent way to store music]). EZER (9d. [Former Israeli president Weizman]) seems a little tough (tougher than the other former Israeli leader, Golda MEIR), especially when crossing answers in the French, Spanish, and crosswordese languages.
Three stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle, “Weekend Workout”—Janie’s review
Crossword-familiar “T.G.I.F.!” is the [End-of-week cry...or a hint to the puzzle theme] that unifies all of today’s five themers (including two grid-spanners), whereby “Friday” is the end-of-phrase word that follows the theme fill’s first word. Both theme-fill phrases and base-phrases are image- or memory-evoking, top-of-the-line choices. Additionally, the puzzle as a whole is loaded with inter-connectivity, making this one juicy, lively, lovely solve.
- 17A. BLACK FOREST CAKE [Dessert made with chocolate, cherries and whipped cream]. Omg. If you’re a normal weight and build, or even more like the plus-sized EMME [One-named model who wrote "True Beauty"], go for it. If you’re [Ready to be downsized] OBESE, maybe take a pass this time and satisfy the craving for sweets with a single scoop of EDY’S [Slow-churned ice cream brand]. And congratulate yourself while you’re at it! Black Friday, the base phrase here, is the day after Thanksgiving and the marketing world’s gold-mine: the official start of the Christmas shopping season. (Speaking of T’giving, “Hello, GRAVY” [Thanksgiving sauce].) [Note, too, how the word BAKE crosses CAKE.]
- 23A. FREAKY DEAKY [Christian Slater plays a former '60s radical in this 2012 film]. Never saw it, but it’s based on an Elmore Leonard book. The base-phrase book (and movie…) it brings us to is Freaky Friday, whose author recently passed away: the multi-talented Mary Rodgers (Guettel). The daughter of Broadway legend/dynast Richard Rodgers, Mary Rodgers was a gifted theatre composer in her own right, having written the music for the perennial fave Once Upon a Mattress.
- 39A. JOE COOL [Snoopy alter ego with sunglasses]. “WOW!” ["That's so cool!"], Joe Cool and and Dragnet‘s Joe Friday.
And we get more animated action by way of TAZ [Cartoon "devil," for short].
- 51A. CASUAL SHOES [Loafers and topsiders, for example]. Hey, the perfect footwear for casual Friday, no?
- 62A. GOOD GIRL GONE BAD [Rihanna's studio album with the hit single "Disturbia"]. All news to me, but that is one great album title. Technically, though, this single was not on the original release, but on a later one called Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded. Also news to me, [John Legend's "ALL OF Me"]. Yes. I’ve been livin’ under a rock. Why, it was only this past Sunday that I caught up with Bob Hoskins’s (graphically violent and quite fabulous!) 1980 base-phrase-containing breakout movie, The Long Good Friday. Also starring a comer on a clear trajectory named Helen Mirren and featuring a newbie named Pierce Brosnan as “1st Irishman”—but ya gotta start somewhere. Didn’t turn out too badly for any of ‘em! And in writing up this post, I just learned that MASS [It's celebrated in church] is not part of Good Friday observations (although the Good Friday service is called the Mass of the Presanctified).
Besides all this, there’s some excellent (and smartly clued) longer fill we should look at. That’d be you, SEA BREEZES [Mediterranean coolers] (which may refer not only to refreshing winds off that body of water, but also to these); SINGLES BAR [Mix-and-match establishment] (and not the “Separates” department at [your favorite clothing store here]); ENCRYPT [Convert to code]; and SECEDES, clued with the tricky [Leaves the country?].
There’s more interconnect to strengthen the puzzle with those sports clues ‘n’ fill—some of it about as timely as it could be. Like [It's nothing in soccer] for NIL, and [What some World Cup games end in] A TIE. (By way of reminder, soccer’s played in halves; American football in quarters, which is why the [Line score in a football shutout] would read O-O-O-O.) Then we also get [Big shot at Wimbledon] cluing ACE—so this is the connection of a racket-to-ball kinda “big shot” and not the Duke of Kent. (Amused by the way ace crosses Joe Cool, too, since one of Snoopy’s other personae is as a WWI flying ace…) Oh—and those [Stadium sections] are LOGES.
Finally, two more “did not know” items: speculative-fiction writer NEAL Stephenson and his book Snow Crash, and ["I AM the Cheese"], though I do know author Robert Cormier (from The Chocolate War). Hmm. Think I gotta do more reading (and tuning in to the radio, too, apparently) in my (so-called) spare time. The beauty of a well-made, carefully-crafted puzzle like this one, though, is that everything’s (ultimately) inferrable!
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “All’s Well That Ends Well”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re having a good Tuesday so far!!
As you can tell by the number of exclamation points in the intro, this is Ade/AOK returning to review some Wa/Po puzzles! Before I go any further, I sincerely apologize for being absent in my duties for a few days at Fiend. Last weekend started with working 14 hours on the Fourth of July (including two 30-minute interviews and hours of audio editing), then flying to Texas the next day (and having my cell phone stolen at the airport…WHEE!) and spending the next two days waking up high school students at 6 AM for a two-mile morning jog and teaching them SAT Verbal lessons a few hours later. Umm, whew! Amy gracefully provided the link to the football/academic camp that I work at for a week in East Texas, and I am currently here providing at least a small bit of assistance that these young men so greatly appreciate and deserve – even if they snicker at me once in a while since I’m the one knocking…no…banging on their doors at 6 AM every day this week to wake them up! But again, my apologies to you, the crossword solver.
But back to why I occupy this space exclusively: crosswords! And this one by Mr. Jeff Chen lets us know that things are going very well. Each of the four answers are two-word nouns in which the second word can come before the word “well.” That, and each of those words appear at the end of the entry.
- CASTOR OIL: (17A: [Old-fashioned medicinal liquid]) – As of this day, I can go back to my parents’ apartment and find at least two bottles of castor oil on the shelves. Unopened.
- HAMSTER WHEEL: (26A: [Squeaky toy for a pet)
- INVISIBLE INK: (42A: [It's used by many a junior spy]) – Absolutely had stacks of invisible ink in my possession as a kid, but had no idea I was supposed to make like I was some sort of junior spy. I thought it was just an instrument to help be a refined troublemaker in school or at home.
- HOLY WATER: (56A: [Priest's sprinkling]) – Going to a Catholic school growing up, yet not being Catholic, I used to walk into the school’s chapel when they had services and used to have NO CLUE what the students in front of me were doing when they dipped their fingers into the basin and began to cross themselves. My first reaction: “All of you are dipping your hands into the same water? Even the third-grader we nicknamed “Stinky?”
In the state of Texas, and in the middle of July, there’s one commodity that is necessary for survival, especially for a non-Texan like myself: SHADE (2D: [Arboretum's offering])!!! Honestly, at the camp, I just used the word HUMDINGERS, and three of the student-athletes looked at me like I had eight heads (26D: [Lulus])! This was in the ROOM where we had the SAT Verbal instruction, so I just wanted them to increase their vocabulary before they take the SAT exam at the end of the week (50D: [Part of a "Clue" declaration]). After today, it’s official that I’m going to be called some form of NERDY teacher by the student-athletes by the end of this week (49D: [Square]). But I can’t be nerdy (and unbelievably cool) as our SAT Math lead teacher, who just wrote this interesting piece in Scientific American about the supposed silly use Pi as a standard in mathematical equations with circles. In terms of uncommonly common crossword answers in the grid today, I couldn’t recognize SEURAT until using almost all of its crossings (43D: [Pointillism pioneer Georges]), but definitely knew (and maybe drank a few years ago at a party?) ROTGUT (50A: [Cheap hooch]). Typed in WENT AWAY instead of WENT AWOL, and that slowed me for a bit in the Southeast (38D: [Disappeared]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WAVES (38A: [Surfers ride them])- Update on the story I told you all on the June 24 CS/WaPo review about the lady who went to Pepperdine University and met randomly on an airplane on my way back form Texas: we finally reconnected a week ago!! And yes, she was mad that I had lost contact with her (she does care!), but fences have been mended, and now we might be business partners in a month! Awesome, right? Also, she told me that she is now engaged to be married…that’s great as well (*fists clenched*).
I mentioned this update to you, in part, to remind you that she went to Pepperdine, and the nickname/mascot of the school is the WAVES. The small California school along the Pacific Highway has produced some big-time athletes over the years, like the late NBA champion guard Dennis Johnson of the Boston Celtics and three-time Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Dan Haren, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That felt good to finish that review!! It’s possible that Amy or another pinch-hitter will step in to review any puzzle for me for the rest of this week, but I will try my best to be on here every day for you. Thank you for your patience, guys!
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The third Venzke byline in three days and the second Grabowski byline today. Okay! Let’s figure out what this puzzle’s theme is. I didn’t notice the revealer while solving, and don’t see a link between the theme answers. Ah, here it is—a long clue whose ending wasn’t visible in Black Ink while I was solving: 59a. [Like dishes with collard greens, and a hint to the starts of 20-, 35- and 41-Across], SOUTHERN STYLE. “Southern” can precede the first words of these:
- 20a. [Conflicting goals], CROSS PURPOSES. The Southern Cross is a constellation and a Crosby, Stills & Nash song.
- 35a. ["Bandit Queen" of the Wild West], BELLE STARR. Southern belle.
- 41a. [Best Western rival], COMFORT INN. Southern Comfort is a whiskey.
Solid theme. My first thought about collard greens was soul food, of course.
Two Latin words in one puzzle? 63a. [__ dixit: unfounded assertions], IPSE. And 38a. [Latin 101 verb], AMAS. And you might also put 61d. [Editor's "leave it in"], STET in this category.
Three animals seen more in crosswords than in everything else I read: 37d. [Coastal divers], ERNS; 52a. [Once-sacred snake], ASP; and 4d. [Helmet-sporting comics hound], SNERT.
Nice to see 10 7-letter entries in the fill on a Tuesday. Question for those of you with SOUTHERN STYLE: Can OLE OPRY stand by itself as a [Grand Tennessee entertainment], or is it strictly the Grand Old Opry?