Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Short Notice”—Laura’s write-up
- 16a [1974 Jimmy Buffett hit] COME MONDAY
- 26a [Online referee] GAME MODERATOR
- 46a [Monthly payments, for many] HOME MORTGAGES
- 61a [Influential person] PRIME MOVER
- 58dR [Office note hidden in four of the Across answers] MEMO
Simple and direct, like the best MEMOs were, way back when people in offices still sent actual printed memos, and not barrages of email. MEMO neatly spans each word in each entry — to wit, I didn’t even notice the connection until I’d entered the revealer. Not a huge Parrothead, I got the Jimmy Buffett song from the crosses, but the others are phrases in the language, if slight variations — I’ve seen game master used more frequently than GAME MODERATOR, and HOME doesn’t necessarily need to moderate MORTGAGES (aren’t most mortgages for homes?). PRIME MOVER is a term usually associated with philosophy but using it generically is perfectly fair.
Fill-wise, we have long downs GROCERY BAG [10d: Checkout item] and MURPHY’S LAW [28d: “If something can go wrong, it will”] — nice touch to quote the law itself as the clue. WAR ZONE [45D: Spot for embedded journalists] and TEASER AD [8D: Buzz-creating promo] also felt fresh, or freshly clued. (Speaking of which, have you seen the buzz-creating promo for Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time?) Zo, how about a ZIMA [56a: Coors malt beverage brand]? It’s apparently making a comeback due to early 90s nostalgia.
MEMO to self — start covering the WSJ Tuesday crossword for Fiend.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 320), “All’s Well that Bends Well”—Janie’s take
Although there is one actual title by the bard in today’s grid [Shakespeare’s “TIMON of Athens”], you’ll find no (more) Shakespearean puns today beyond that goody that’s the title. And, àpropos of which, in the healthy body (like that of an AGILE gymnast, say), what “bends well”? Why, your joints, of course—four of which show up today as themers in more metaphorical than literally anatomical contexts, which is much to be desired in a lively theme set. Nice, too, how the clues have their own anatomy-free lives as well.Here’s how it’s done:
- 17A. ELBOW GREASE [Eco-friendly cleaning solution?] This is a great, multi-layered clue what with its play on the word “solution.” Not the (eco-friendly) liquid type, but the-answer-to-your-problem type. Good old-fashioned physical effort. No GREASE involved. I was in elementary school (about a hundred years ago…) when I first learned this phrase. And in the same vein, skyhooks (yep… this woulda been around the time my brother was in the Boy Scouts)… Bonus fill: ULNA, which is an ELBOW-related [Arm bone].
- 27A. KNUCKLE UNDER [Give in to pressure]. A vivid term that’s been in use here since at least the middle of the 19th century.
- 45A. KNEE-SLAPPING [Hilarious]. I had trouble parsing this one, but had my “aha” after reading this, where you can see the term used as an adjective (scroll to “References in periodicals archive”).
- 61A. ANKLE-BITERS [Tots, slangily]. Love that phrase. Kind of in the same (evocative) class as rug rats.
And, should you want to know more about these benders from a skeletal/physiological p.o.v., have at!
No other long fill today, but a healthy amount of solid and lively mid-range entries, like MARRY UP, well clued as [Get hitched to climb the social ladder] and CLERKED, which is helped immeasurably by its clue [Worked for Justice Sotomayor]. The “RUBBISH!” [“Nonsense!”] pair makes an impact and the BANANAS [Ingredients in Chunky Monkey ice cream] duo reminded me of this easy-peasy, one-ingredient BANANA “ice cream” recipe. Experiment with add-ins! (You’re welcome!) It’s a real phrase, but DO A DEAL lands clumsily on my ear. Ymmv.
Among the sixes, I particularly ADMIRE ADMIRE, TWEAKS, “OPEN IT!,“ NOTARY and NEEDLE, that [Tattoo parlor sticker]—which is not to be confused with those [Peel-and-stick items] DECALS. Around the time I learned about ELBOW GREASE, and well before I knew the meaning of NOTARY in the sense of [Public leader?] (another great clue, btw), I was also seeing the words “NOTARY Sojac” in the funny papers. That’s a Smokey Stover nonsense term. Ditto “foo-“ as in “Foo-fighters”… Oh, the associations that stick with us, eh? Hello, again, to MARLEE [Oscar-winner Matlin], who got a good bit of love here three weeks ago.
Fun to see MAVEN, the [Acknowledged expert] in the same grid with NABOB [Mogul]. Both words have strong connotations (the latter especially) and, as such, make for strong fill. And because I can be easily amused, I also got a smile from seeing both NINE and NEIN in the grid. As grid opposites yet.
Fave clue/fill combo today? [Trust buster] LIE. Well, timing is everything, if you catch my TACIT [Unspoken but understood] drift…
And that’ll do it for me today, folks. Have a great week, keep solving and if you’re in the neighborhood, come on by again next week!
Michael Hawkins’ New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Just realized that the black squares tie into the theme. Your themers are STAIRCASE WIT (much better in the original French), ESCALATOR CLAUSE, and ON THE UP-AND-UP, so the chunks of blocks on the south and east sides of the grid (please adjust your monitor if it’s not facing south) look like short staircases. I paid no mind to the theme while solving, as the 11-letter Down answer with a question-mark clue distracted me. 19d. [Freeze frame?] for ICE CUBE TRAY? Hey! That’s actually more fun than the theme. This 70-word grid could pass muster as a themeless if those 12s and the 15 were unrelated.
- 1a. [Braided Jewish bread], CHALLAH. Have we had T’CHALLA in a puzzle yet? That’s the lead character in the upcoming Black Panther movie. (Here’s the trailer!)
- 16d. [Dessert chain], TCBY. That still exists? *googling* It does. There are locations in Chicago-area malls. The chain is a shadow of its former self, and yet fro-yo places abound. I am down on the fro-yo joints because the last time I was getting some frozen yogurt with a self-serve toppings bar, there were bugs flying around the toppings. Yeah, NO.
- 34a. [Wasteful government spending], PORK. My son lunched on a large pork bao at a Korean market today. I prefer government pork to meat pork, personally.
- 45a. [Dessert brand], SARA LEE. Grateful to live in a place with multiple choices for baked desserts that keep me from buying frozen Sara Lee. I will always have a soft spot for their pound cake, though.
Lowlights in the Tuesday fill include non-‘s MACY, uncommon plural ASYLA, AER, and crosswordese Mt. OSSA. I like seeing MAAS clued as Peter Maas rather than as goat sounds (I tell ya, I think goats baa just like sheep do), but Serpico‘s book source is a tad dated as cultural references go. (Just learned that Maas wrote an awful lot of crime nonfiction books.) 3.75 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “It’s PAT” – Derek’s write-up
This brings to mind the memorable SNL character “Pat” played by Julia Sweeney. I didn’t remember, but they actually made a movie about the character! I don’t think I saw that movie, but that idea will be a recurring thought in this post! Here are the theme answers, all with the initials P-A-T:
- 17A [French term for a temporary residence] PIED-À-TERRE
- 20A [Did some pranking] PLAYED A TRICK
- 34A [Duo behind the CW series “Fool Us”] PENN AND TELLER
- 52A & 56A [Low-budget programming source] PUBLIC ACCESS TELEVISION
“Pat” would be proud! Another fun one from Matt! 4.4 stars.
A few more notes:
- 15A [Fluorescent bulb gas] ARGON – Also a bike manufacturer, with a team using their bikes in the Tour de France. (Yes, I have been watching DAILY.)
- 22A [One-named ’50s-’60s teen idol] FABIAN – This is slightly before my time, and probably yours too!
- 47A [John who once co-hosted “Entertainment Tonight”] TESH – Another crossword famous person! Helps that there isn’t another person alive I can think of with the last name TESH!
- 3D [“Insecure” star Issa __] RAE – This show is pretty good. I have seen two or three episodes. Her insecurity sometimes makes me slightly uncomfortable, but some of the jokes are hilarious!
- 10D [Symbol of deadness] DOORNAIL – As in how I feel after a 10+ mile run!
- 24D [“Kind of __” (classic Miles Davis album)] BLUE – This album had only five songs! I am not a big blues fan, but you may have heard this track:
- 50D [Most common throw with two dice (D6es, for those of you playing at home)] SEVEN – Or (for those of you playing at home that have dice up to 20-sided like in D & D or some similar game!)
Looks like a busy week. Until next Tuesday’s Jonesin’ writeup!
Howard Barkin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I am happy to say that I know this guy pretty well from times at Stamford! You won’t find a nicer guy, and he is an excellent solver of course. You have to be a great solver to win Stamford, and the list of Stamford winners is not long! He is also a good puzzle constructor, although maybe not a prolific one, and this puzzle is a good example. The theme also makes me hungry!
- 20A [Moon’s alleged makeup] GREEN CHEESE
- 40A [Indian spiced drink] CHAI TEA
- 11D [Pre-euro Dublin currency] IRISH POUND
- 29D [Loofah] BATH SPONGE
- 57A [Simple thing to do … and what each starred clue’s answer ends with?] PIECE OF CAKE
Yes, cheesecake, tea cake, pound cake, and sponge cake all sound good right now, although I would prefer the cheesecake and pound cake over the tea cake and sponge cake! Let me get through this write-up and make a run to the corner store! 4.5 stars.
Just a few more notes:
- 6A [Computers with Apple cores] MACS – Technically, the parts ARE Apple, but the core (as in processor) is by Intel now. I know, that is nit-picky, and a computer buff can probably tell me how wrong my thinking is!
- 24A [__ Lee: dessert brand] SARA – This is one of my “girlfriends,” along with Dolly Madison, Little Debbie, Betty Crocker, …
- 49A [Eur. realm until 1806] H.R.E. – The Holy Roman Empire appeared in virtually every map we had to fill in country names for in Social Studies class for centuries. A vestige of the time when the Catholic church held a lot of power in the Middle Ages.
- 54A [1982 Disney sci-fi film] TRON – I have never seen this movie either, at least not all the way through. I have seen bits and pieces. Another weekend project for me!
- 5D [Animated Disney film with a Polynesian heroine] MOANA – Too many Disney references in one puzzle! And, as you might surmise, I haven’t see this movie EITHER. Although I believe it is on Netflix now!
- 6D [Spanish girls] MUCHACHAS – Were you quick to start writing SENORITAS in? Yeah, me too!
- 12D [1976 Olympics star Comaneci] NADIA – Still married to fellow gymnast Bart Conner. I barely remember the 1976 Olympics (I was 7!), but she is of course renowned for scoring the first perfect 10 in Olympic history. Now the scoring for gymnastics is so convoluted I cannot understand it!
Nice puzzle, Howard! Have a great week everyone!