Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Another themeless puzzle from Jooseppi Pannukakku (yes, I looked up “Joseph” and “pancake” in other languages to give you the Finnish for his nom de guerre, Joe Pancake), and on the easy side for a Saturday, I thought.
I love “I SAID ‘GOOD DAY,’ SIR” and “WHY, I OUGHTA…” so much, I’m not at all vexed by the duplication of the first-person pronoun. Other juicy answers: HODGEPODGE, HIGHFALUTIN, GET-UP-AND-GO, GO HALFSIES (again, with that GO repeat but it didn’t bug me), END TIMES (there was supposed to be a Rapture last week—we all still here?), and of course DEEP DISH pizza. There is one slice of Lou Malnati’s deep dish left in my fridge—I had a couple slices of leftovers for lunch today. It’s so damn good, and we will not entertain vapid defenses of floppy New York–style pizza here. (Chicagoans eat more thin-crust than deep-dish pizza, to be honest, but we can appreciate both.)
On the down side, ADOZE ([Catching some Z’s])feels mighty iffy. The Oxford dictionary folks don’t include it online, and neither do your standard American dictionaries. I suspect it’s largely a Briticism, as it pops up in the UK’s Operation Adoze, wherein some homeless people who were “sleeping rough” were deported. ADOZE would have been less irksome if the grid didn’t also have AGAPE (and not clued via the “Christian love” sense).
Crosswordese offense: 28d. [Start of an intermission?], ENTR. As in entr’acte, both parts of which have been used as crosswordese. If you haven’t seen either half, or the combination, well, that clue is going to be perplexing; the answer, mystifying.
55d. [Beginnings of a beard], FUZZ. As in what adolescents sport, rather than the whiskery outgrowth after a shave.
4.2 stars from me. Fun one.
Samuel A. Donaldson & Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Splendid! A tour de force! A puzzle by these two titans could be nothing but! 68 words expertly woven with tons of Scrabbly letters and interesting phrases. This also leads to lively clueing and an all-around exceptional solving experience. LAT puzzles are typically light on dreck, and this is one is not only no exception to that rule, but there isn’t a single entry that shouldn’t be readily familiar to even a fairly novice solver. Then why did this take my 7:30? I must be tired! 4.8 stars for this one!
A few highlights:
- 1A [“This is so humbling”] “I’M HONORED” – An EXCELLENT 1-Across entry. Just hard enough, but still a conversational phrase.
- 18A [“Deadwood” actress Jewell] GERI – I didn’t think I knew who this was, but this is the actress from The Facts of Life that had cerebral palsy. Her Wikipedia page says she is the first actress with a disability to be featured in a prime time show. Awesome pop culture reference!
- 25A [“__ Meenie”: Kingston/Bieber hit] EENIE – I don’t know this song. Or do I … ?
- 41A [Design that’s just over a foot] ANKLE TAT – Best clue in the puzzle!
- 63A [What’s often on the following page] NEXT MONTH – Oh, THAT page!
- 2D [Ball State University city] MUNCIE – Got this immediately! Our company actually does a lot of work in Muncie. Ironically, I have never been to Muncie! It’s not like you go through it to get anywhere; it is a little off the beaten path, shall we say! Famous alumni: David Letterman, Papa John, Stedman Graham, and FS1’s Jason Whitlock.
- 24D [1950 story collection including “The Evitable Conflict”] I, ROBOT – I have never read this story, but I enjoyed the movie version. I need to read more of his works.
- 34D [Novel first credited to Currer Bell] JANE EYRE – This is a pen name of Charlotte Brontë. Perhaps due to not being taken seriously as an author with a female name? This novel was published in 1847. It would be nice to know why the pen name was used. (A little research shows that is precisely the case.)
- 50D [Title for Sidious] DARTH – I have not seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and I haven’t made plans to see Solo: A Star Wars Story later this month. I need to see the Avengers movie first!!
It’s warm now! I have to mow the yard!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I love solving this puzzle! I started it, got nothing, stopped for a bit, and then came back and plowed through it once I got a foothold. This puzzle, like other themeless challenges, takes one to a place of concentration and quietude that somehow calms me down and relaxes me. There is also a sense of satisfaction that something is … completed! It seems as if I cannot keep up sometimes in other areas of life. Keep them coming, Stan! 4.3 stars this morning.
- 1A [Site for Sea Hunter and Sunseeker sales] BOAT SHOW – I had SHOP. I don’t own a boat!
- 18A [Former name for the flu] GRIPPE – I believe you.
- 20A [Easy undertaking] MILK RUN – Another phrase that is not too familiar to me, but I have heard it. I think.
- 35A [Modest explanation for achievement] JUST LUCKY I GUESS – Great 15-letter crossing entry. I will mention the long down entry later on.
- 44A [Rhythm in Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture”] RUMBA – Is this a “rhythm” or a “genre”? I’ll let you search the song yourself; it is kind of long.
- 58A [Talk Like a Pirage Day intro] AHOY, MATE! – Wrong! This answer should be AAARGGHH!
- 8D [Succeeds nicely] WORKS LIKE A CHARM – I said we would get to it! Well done!
- 9D [Biggest song for Motown’s first female star] MY GUY – This song was an obvious follow up to “My Girl” by the Temptations. And this is short enough to post!
- 11D [Initialism since 1939] WWI – Which was of course called The Great War until this point.
- 24D [Cubby-like] SLOTTED – I had ALCOVEY. Admit it: it’s original!
- 35D [Fiddled with] JIGGERED – Be careful muttering this word under your breath! (Depending on your company!!)
- 38D [1.5 Roman feet] CUBIT – Also a famous ark dimensional unit.
I could go on, but I have a packed weekend! See you on Tuesday for the Jonesin’ and LAT puzzles.
Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tennis, Anyone?” — Jim’s review
Theme: Tennis terms re-imagined.
- 23a [Shore leave?] SERVICE BREAK
- 28a [Where moderates are prosecuted?] CENTER COURT
- 50a [Collections of strong poker hands?] STRAIGHT SETS
- 55a [Loud closing of a piano’s keyboard cover?] GRAND SLAM
- 77a [Casting director, during auditions?] LINE JUDGE
- 83a [Job for a bartender?] PASSING SHOTS
- 104a [Technician for a John Wayne movie?] WESTERN GRIP
- 111a [Extra-large cocktails?] MIXED DOUBLES
These all seemed fine, but nothing really tickled my funny bone. GRAND SLAM comes closest, and MIXED DOUBLES sound good right about now (it’s Friday night as I write this, not Saturday morning). I never heard the term WESTERN GRIP. I thought you just held the racket in the way that was most comfortable to you. Apparently, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
There’s other tennis stuff in the grid like AGASSI and a bunch of tennis clues that aren’t really about tennis once you suss it out, as well as some that are.
Highlights for me: TAX RETURN with its clue [Form of despair?] because that was us this year, the graphic BLEEDER with its medical clue [Target of a surgeon’s clamp], The EGO/SEX combo with the clues [Freud topic] and [Kinsey topic], and URSULA [George of the Jungle’s mate] because that was one of my favorite shows as a kid. But I must admit I was always confused by the whole “Fella”/”URSULA” thing. I thought they were two separate people, but I just learned that George refers to URSULA as “Fella” because he seems to lack the ability to distinguish genders.
Lowlights for me: YAP AT, BEWAIL instead of BEMOAN, [Tough plant fiber] RAMIE, MYRA [Steve Urkel’s pursuer] because who wants to be reminded of that show, and the MUS/SSR/ALIA combo all in the opening corner.
All in all, not a bad theme, but I just didn’t feel that zing. YMMV, of course. 3.2 stars.