Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Drawing the Shades” — Jim P’s review
GREEN is the theme, clued as [Color, a shade of which ends each of the starred answers]. Pretty straightforward. Let’s see what we got.
- 22a [*Tongass in Alaska is the largest one] NATIONAL FOREST. Did not know this forest’s name.
- 31a [*Another name for the devilwood] WILD OLIVE. Did not know the term “devilwood.” I’m beginning to sense a pattern.
- 47a [*Nickname of gangster George K. Barnes] MACHINE GUN KELLY. Have heard the nickname, but certainly did not know the real name.
- 61a [*Calcium hydroxide powder] SLAKED LIME. Yup. I think the theme is “things Jim doesn’t know.”
- 64a [*Recruitment pro] HEADHUNTER. Okay. Phew. I knew this one.
- 74a [*Brand with a mermaid mascot] CHICKEN OF THE SEA. And this one was a cinch.
- 88a [*Marine algae also called carrageen] IRISH MOSS. Oops. Back to the trivia.
- 103a [*Fifteenth Hercule Poirot novel] DEATH ON THE NILE. Nice to end on a simple one. Only needed a few crossings for this.
I guess when your theme is that straightforward, using uncommon entries like SLAKED LIME or trivia-laden clues will ratchet up the difficulty. But after a while it gets to be too much of a slog. Throw in oddities like RATOON, GSTAAD, SUNSIGN (crossing CORTES which I thought ended in Z and APERCU which I’ve only seen in crosswords), and SCRAMS clued as [Shuts down, to prevent a meltdown] and the slog feels longer.
There were plenty of goodies though. I liked seeing CANNIBAL clued Hannibal Lecter-style [One who might have a guest for dinner?], as well as GIRAFFE, THE TAKE ([Bad thing for a cop to be on] which, for some reason, I answered THE DOLE), and KRISHNA. Other goodies are CAYENNE, FIDGETS, ALL EARS, NO HELP, and SCRUFF.
Clues of note:
- 7a [Fumbled, as a football]. LOOSE. Nice trickery. I was looking for a verb, not an adjective.
- 35a [Better business?]. CASINO. More trickeration. But technically, shouldn’t it be “Bettor”?
- 70d [Dell output]. PCS. Just got me a spiffy new 32″ Dell monitor (not a computer, just the monitor), and gosh, it’s durn purdy!
All in all, a mixed bag for me today. The theme is rather ho-hum, and there’s a heavy dose of trivia throughout, but there’s some fun fill as well. 3.25 stars.
Andrew Ries’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I do always enjoy a Ries themeless/freestyle puzzle. ( I haven’t done as many of his Rows Garden puzzles or his cryptic crosswords, but all three types of puzzles are available via his website.) This one’s no exception. Highlights: CRAP OUT, DATA DUMP, the LONDON EYE, PRINTER INK, “TOODLES,” EARL GREY TEA, STANDARD POODLE, a DINNER DATE, writer DON DELILLO, RAISING CAIN, a BIDET, and TANGERINE DREAM. It is entirely likely that I bought a Tangerine Dream album when I was in college. Kinda trippy electronic music. See also: 37a PSYCHEDELIC MUSIC. You know who was part of the psychedelic rock garage band scene five decades ago? Cruciverbal legend Merl Reagle. Enjoy the Greylock Mansion video (below) for the musical stylings of Merl and the band.
Six more things:
- 16a. [Boxer who retired in 2017], BARBARA. The senator, Barbara Boxer, and not a pugilist. Though I can’t say for sure she never did any boxing.
- 32a. [Best effort], ALL. Excellent clue. “I gave it my all.”
- 39a. [Eliza Doolittle, to Henry Higgins], TUTEE. You might be saying to yourself, “This is an outrage! That dumb word hadn’t even been backwardsly coined when George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion.” Turns out that TUTEE has been in the English language since the 1920s, though, so at least it predates the Broadway musical adaptation, My Fair Lady.
- 52a. [Grp. with the motto “Deo vindice”], CSA. That would be the Confederate States of America. Anyone else ready to see CSA clued more often as community-supported agriculture, as in the CSA boxes full of local produce that a lot of people subscribe to?
- 30d. [Job experience?], WOE. That’s the guy Job in the Old Testament, and not a job.
- 54d. [Army in the field?], ANTS. Another nifty clue.
Good fill, great clues, a minimum of junk. 4.25 stars from me.
Samuel A. Donaldson & Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A couple of familiar names here, and Erik has more than one puzzle today! He also is part of the Stumper (see below).This was a slightly tougher LAT than I am used to. Not good news for the ACPT coming up! I think I will try to get plenty of sleep this week! A solid 4.7 stars for this masterpiece.
Lots to like, but for starters:
- 15A [Home to Gotham City, Metropolis, etc.] DC UNIVERSE – It is pretty easy to keep these separate, until you realize the both Marvel and DC have a Captain Marvel!
- 24A [Church marriage notice] BANNS – I think I have heard this word before, but it has been a while. This isn’t used much, I don’t think, anymore. Is this a Catholic thing, I wonder?
- 34A [Hawaiian for “long”] LOA – I learned something here!
- 36A [Slangy “Please call”] “HIT ME UP” – People say this all the time. Great entry.
- 50A [Fair treat] CORN DOG – I think of “elephant ears” when I think of fair food. I think it is the same as a funnel cake. It’s all too much food and too sweet, even for me!
- 54A [Hardly a lost cause] CORRIGIBLE – This is one of those cases where the negative form of the word is waaaaay more common.
- 7D [Model X maker, before 2017] TESLA MOTORS – Why before 2017? I don’t know Teslas well at all.
- 13D [One way to spread the news] PAPER ROUTE – I used to do this!
- 23D [Squee-worthy] TOTES ADORBS – Best entry in a sea of great entries!
- 25D [Snack that doesn’t sound very appetizing] ANTS ON A LOG – I think this is celery with peanut butter and raisins in it. And, now I’m hungry …
That is all!
Garrett Estrada’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Who is this mysterious Garrett Estrada? It is in fact a pseudonym, a combo of Erik Agard and Brad Wilber. I couldn’t figure out how the combinom came about, but it is a play on a famous Brad (Garrett) and a famous Erik (Estrada). Very clever. And as you might expect from this pair, this puzzle is 7-Across! (See below!) I found this quite difficult until I got a decent toe-hold in it, and as you can see in the grid, I checked my answer quite a lot, and I was often wrong. This puzzle is chock full of great clues, and even an obscure term or two that I barely know. That’s why they call it a Stumper! 4.7 stars for this debut colloaboration
Just a few favorite parts:
- 7A [Action-packed] SLAM-BANG – I tried WHIZ BANG.
- 22A [February : Daytona :: May : __] INDY – The Indy 500 is, obviously, still pretty big here in Indiana. Indy Car racing is not nearly as popular as it was decades ago, but this is still a Memorial Day weekend staple.
- 23A [Canadiens, Cavaliers and Cowboys] MEN – Tricky! Yes, these are all teams, but my mind didn’t go that direction.
- 24A [Piece of high fashion?] G-SUIT – This might be the best clue in the puzzle.
- 30A [Member of an oral octet] BICUSPID – I am not a dentist. There are 8 of these? OK!
- 32A [Bayard who organized the March on Washington (1963)] RUSTIN – I saw a small video on him during Black History month. Google him! This is one of the obscure terms I was referring about …
- 40A [Asian creole tongue that sounds rather unique] SINGLISH – … and this is the term I had never heard before. This is Singapore-English, and is a corruption of several Asian languages. Nice entry!
- 2D [Reds coach] SOMMELIER – This is also one of the best clues. I was totally off-track.
- 21D [Bavarian fleet] AUDIS – I’ll take one!
- 25D [Laundry liquid with a stuffed-bear mascot] SNUGGLE – I tried STAY-PUF, but I don’t think that is how it is spelled!
- 29D [Port pictured at the start of ”Casablanca”] ORAN – There is a video montage at the beginning of this movie that explains why they are in Casablanca, and this city is mentioned. Go watch Casablanca if you never have; it is tremendously good.
- 35D [They may scrutinize shelters] IRS AUDITS – I tried IRS AGENTS, which also works.
- 42D [Bird named for an apostle] PETREL – Named after Peter, I assume? Nice piece of trivia that I did not know. I learned something today, so now it is time for a nap!
Hope to see some of you next this coming Friday!
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “For All Intensive Purposes” – Jim Q’s writeup
Well, I knew there was something funky from the title. Should be “For All Intents and Purposes.” And sure enough, we’re dealing with eggcorns!
THEME: Eggcorns. Commonly misheard/misspelled/misunderstood words.
- 17A [*Setting-sail cry?] ANCHORS AWAY. Type that answer into Google and it says “Did you mean ANCHORS AWEIGH?”
- 10D [*Americans who move to Canada, e.g.?] EX-PATRIOTS. The real word is EXPATRIATES.
- 28D [*Dramatists?] PLAYWRITES. They’re PLAYWRIGHTS.
- 61A [*Bird whose coos may wake you up?] MORNING DOVE. Better known as a MOURNING DOVE.
- 38A [*Squirrel food? … or the formal term for any of the starred plausible-yet-wrong answers] EGGCORN. I think there’s a play on the word ACORN here…
I had a couple FACEPALMs post-solve as only one of the answers immediately caught my attention as being misspelled (PLAYWRITES). MORNING DOVE and ANCHORS AWAY looked just fine to me as they were! Ha! The fun thing about eggcorns is that they all kinda make sense either way…
Here’s a more thorough explanation of them and a list of others.
Fun clues on 24D and 9D. The former being [Like Life at its worst] SOGGY, and the latter [Low key?] SPACE BAR.
Cluing of theme answers seemed somewhat inconsistent as sometimes the ? clue worked for both the base and the eggcorn- but the revealer clue with squirrel seems to suggest ACORN, which is not the entry. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding that part.
Puzzle definitely passes mustard. These were fun to figure out- In other words, I enjoyed the FACEPALM moments.