“Feeling at Home”

by Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 4/5

Aaand we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. I’m off my FIFA (sorry) kick… at least for now. The two puzzles I posted last week were unceremoniously broken–or, looked at generously, totally validated–by certain World Cup results.

Speaking of, a brief meditation on expectations. You may have read that the vaunted English team “lost” 0-0 on Friday to our stalwart American soccer lads, a sentiment that echoes the famous Harvard Crimson headline of 1968. And, indeed, the draw felt in many ways like a win on this side of the pond. It was a feeling I found myself on the opposite side of last night, when Jessie and I went to see Glass Onion, the much-anticipated follow-up to Knives Out. (Don’t worry, no spoilers ahead.) For my money, the original is a nearly perfect movie: a zeitgeisty comedy masquerading as a tight murder mystery with some satisfying genre inversions and pitch-perfect casting across the board. And when the trailer for Glass Onion introduced a heavy puzzle motif … well, you can imagine where the bar was set in my head and heart.

Anyway, you can see where this is going. Under normal circumstances I would have thought, “Huh! Pretty good movie, that.” But as it was, I left the theater almost dizzy at the let-down. So that’s my unsolicited review: Glass Onion is an utterly disappointing pretty good movie.

Thoughts and, yes, spoilers for “Feeling at Home” below.

This is the kind of puzzle I rarely bother submitting for publication. The conceit isn’t consistent or predictable enough to be all that satisfying in mainstream newspaper crosswords. (Though I do think that the NYT in particular is getting pretty far afield in terms of how much “consistency” it demands these days, FWIW.)

The idea here was to use official state nicknames as clues for various phrases that played with an alternate meaning of the word “state,” i.e. “mood.” So a “Volunteer state?” becomes a CAN-DO ATTITUDE, which seems apt enough. But then you get to “Garden state?” for GROWTH MINDSET, which while still apt presents a different syntactical relationship between “growth” and “garden.” And so on down the list, with varying degrees of closeness in the “mood” synonyms.

Other options abound, and whether they “work” for you is largely a matter of taste. POSITIVE OUTLOOK for [Sunshine state?], or WINNERS MENTALITY for [First state?], or EXPANSIVE MOOD for [Empire State?], or EVEN TENOR for [Plairie state?], etc. Feel free to leave your own in the comments! I *love* getting a crowdsourced theme set for concepts like this.

Happy solving, friends!


12 thoughts on ““Feeling at Home”

    • This is a different theme formulation, and I like it. If we’re using “state” not to mean “mood” but rather just “condition,” a whole wealth of fun options start to present themselves.

    • Ah! We’re zeroing in here. SHADY CHARACTER uses “character” like an individual, and I’d apply BUZZY VIBE to a situation, rather than a person… though as I say, these can go as far afield as your taste allows, no?

  1. Show-me state (SKEPTICAL VIEW), Ocean state (anything involving DEEP, BLUE, or SALTY), Nutmeg state (SPICY VIEWPOINT), Hawkeye state (WATCHFUL MIEN), Badger state (NAGGING SUSPICION), and more tenuously Silver state (OLYMPIC RUNNERUP — a stretch but an arguable state of mind)?

  2. Great Lake State? BEYOND SUPERIOR. Whoa, Ross you got me in the mid-west corner…I didn’t know the rating for “Sesame Street” or the study of time, so I just plugged in two letters and then — head slap — realized I DID know Latin for “voice,” sheesh. Go easy on those clues, will you??? 🙂

    Kelly <—coulda been a contenda 😉

  3. Show Me State: CONFIRMFEELING. (Although I suspect the Crossword Police would disallow an answer appearing in the title of the puzzle.) Also, I second Jeff’s WATCHFULMIEN as the inspired winner!

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