David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Has it just been a long week for me, or was it harder than most Friday puzzles for y’all, too?
I’m feeling brain-dead, so it’s list-in-no-particular-order time:
- 16a. [Title character abducted in a hit 2003 film], NEMO. I had the N and then filled in NELL, thinking of the Jodie Foster movie. This amuses me.
- 17a. [Sex drive enhancer introduced in 2015], PINK VIAGRA. I’m sorry, what? I don’t see anybody talking about this anywhere, and I’m a woman.
- 28a. [Bad thing to do when you see a yellow light], GUN IT. What’s with the judgey vibe here? Sometimes you’re gonna gun it.
- 58a. [Loony tune], NUT. What the hell is this ableist crap doing in the clue? It’s a food item. It’s a piece of hardware. It’s something that’s “tough to crack.” This is entirely unnecessary.
- 62a. [“Come on, lighten up!”], “IT WAS A JOKE.” Listen, if you find yourself saying this answer phrase a lot, you’re probably saying dumb sh*t you should know better than to say, and your jokes aren’t funny.
- 1d. [Samuel of English history], PEPYS. Pronounced like the grievously bad “marshmallow” “candy.” I thought his famed diary was more literary than historical, which simply indicates that I have not read any of it.
- 3d. [It might list your accomplishments], LINKEDIN PROFILE. It’s always fun to check out the LinkedIn profile of someone who’s been fired. Like that Google manifesto dude—his profile had not put things in the past tense when I looked at it.
- 48d. [Big maker of small appliances, or, as two words, a 1997 action film], CONAIR. Yes! I have owned Conair blow dryers.
- 65d. [___ Psaki, White House communications director under Obama], JEN. Don’t recall learning this name at all. Between JEN and her neighbor, Allen TATE, the bottom right took some unraveling for me.
- 12d. [Have one’s hard work recognized], GET AN A FOR EFFORT. This gets a Jon Delfin shout-out from me. He doesn’t care for that fusty partial, E FOR, since E is not a grade that is generally assigned.
Four stars from me.
Greg Johnson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Screen Time” — pannonica’s write-up
Time, as in prison.
- 20a. [“Natural-born world-shaker” played by Paul Newman] LUCAS JACKSON.
- 32a. [What 20 Across “joined” after vandalizing parking meters] PRISON ROAD GANG. Vandalizing, let it be noted, for no apparent reason. While intoxicated, methodically moving down the line and decapitating them with a plumber’s pipe-cutter.
- 39a. [What 20 Across ate 50 of on a bet] HARD BOILED EGGS. “Ain’t nobody can eat fifty eggs.” In an hour. Which is a quaint tally in the professional-food-eating era we find ourselves in today.
- 53aR [Nickname for 20 Across, and the title of a classic film released 50 years ago this November 1] COOL HAND LUKE.
A movie that’s always resonated for me, with its overt antiauthoritarianism; mostly reflexive, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes inexplicably so. Luke’s attitude, eye for hypocrisy, and, most important, resilience should have widespread resonance in today’s dark times. In fact, there are a lot of aspects of the story that speak to our times, up to and including the end, where Luke is mortally wounded and the prison boss instructs the police officers not to deliver him to a nearby hospital but instead to the prison’s own infirmary, farther away, all but ensuring his death.
Resilience, perseverance. A lot to inspire. Certainly, the heavyhanded suffering-and-dying-Christ analogy is there, but also realize that Luke wasn’t any sort of religious believer, no THEIST (47a)—he believed in speaking truth to power, especially corrupt power.
Factette: New York’s ABC Eyewitness News for many years adapted part of LALO Schifrin’s score as theme music. Numerous other affiliates adopted it for their own newscasts as well. Not sure, but it may have also been used in other countries. Australia? Anyway, first time I saw the film, experienced a weird déjà vu during the accompanying scene. I tell ya.
Another factette, this time more pedantic: Many people misquote Strother Martin’s iconic line as “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” What he says is. “What we have here is… failure to communicate.” No indefinite article, a pause. Also, in the character’s cadence “to communicate” is run together, as if it were one word: “tuhkummnikeht”. Okay, technically the line is spoken a few times in the film, including once mockingly by Paul Newman’s character, and one or more of those instances may (if I recall correctly) include that indefinite article—but the two most memorable times the prison boss delivers it, no “a”.
Writin’ stuff here, boss:
- 22a [Prefix with -phyte] EPI. Not the pharmaceutical brand name clue that we so often see in other crosswords. That’s the Higher Education vibe™ folks, and I approve.
- More in that vein: 1d [Object inscribed with the Code of Hammurabi, e.g.] STELE, 4d [Pizarro originally called it Ciudad de los Reyes] LIMA, 13d [“The Sheltering __” (Paul Bowles novel)] SKY, 5d [Snares with honda knots] LASSOES, 21d [It incorporates nage-waza throwing techniques] JUDO, 34d [Item measured in pennies] NAIL.
- New word to me: [Square] SPANG.
- 52d [In 1987 he said that the current generation had “a brain dressed up with nowhere to go”] LEARY. I bet he said something quotable in 1967 too.
- 57a [Boulevardier garnish] LEMON PEEL. Think of it as a negroni with whiskey instead of gin. I believe, as in the other cocktail, orange rather than lemon is the traditional accoutrement. Both are on the short list of my go-tos.
“Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand.”
Andy Kravis & Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
It’s Friday; it’s the LA Times crossword; and so, we’re adding letters. Today’s string is +IFY. Most -ify words are verbs, but the inclusion of brand name SPOTIFY allows one noun to be mixed in with three verbs. Although the basic idea is well-worn, the execution is definitely above average, with fun answers and evocative clues:
[Watch a music-streaming app?], SEESPOT(IFY)RUN. Never done that, as it’s blocked in South Africa. Musical interlude, from Youtube, which isn’t…
[Organize circus performers?], CLASSIFYCLOWNS.
[Rationalize one’s need for duel assistance], JUSTIFYASECOND. I like how the meaning changes here.
[Worship at the altar of buttercream?], DEIFYFROSTING. Well isn’t that clue just perfectly wacky? A strong finish!
- CMS/CUARON. I hope you knew CUARON, because MMS/MUARON didn’t seem wholly implausible. Oscar-winning directors are easily crossworthy, but that doesn’t translate to universal knowledge.
- [Bulldog fans], ELIS. If you like giving all your money to the vet’s suppliers, get a bulldog…
- [Delish], YUMMY. I was initially unsure if this would be YUMMO, which seems to be au courant around here, patterned on DOGGO etc. It usually means disgusting though…
- [No foe], BOND. The famous hidden capital letter trick! Well executed here.
- Become prostrate], LIEFLAT. My putting LIEDOWN here was the biggest obstacle in the puzzle. That, and struggling to dredge up FARINA.
- [Blanc with “That’s all folks” on his gravestone]. An Olaf, since you only needed Blanc, but also a droll bonus.