Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Maine Course” — Jim P’s review
Well-known phrases are re-written as if speaking with a Maine(?) accent. I am not very familiar with a Maine accent. Based on this puzzle, I guess it’s similar to a Boston accent since “er” sounds become “ah” sounds.
- 22a [Place for a seance?] MEDIUM LODGE. Medium-Large. Is “medium large” something people say?
- 28a [Committing a sin?] CROSSING GOD. Crossing guard.
- 42a [Vocal coach?] PITCH DOC. Pitch dark.
- 69a [Inebriated visitors?] POTTED COMPANY. Parted company.
- 95a [Leftover noodles from a Japanese restaurant?] COLD SOBA. Cold sober.
- 108a [Sweltering, in Sheffield?] BLEEDING HOT. Bleeding heart. Hmm. I would think it would be “bleedin’ hot” or “bloody hot.”
- 118a [Good name for a seafood shop?] HOUSE OF CODS. House of cards. I do like this one.
- 36d [Made fun of Clinton?] MOCKED BILL. Marked bill.
- 46d [NASA objective in the 1950s?] PASS RUSSIA. Pass rusher. I didn’t figure this one out until I started writing this bullet. I had thought the change was affecting the first word, not the last, and could not make sense of it. The structure of this one makes it inconsistent with the rest.
As you can see, it was hit or miss for me. And that last one really got me because I could not make sense of it in any way. All the other entries have an O involved; the Russia one did not.
Further complicating things for me was my refusal to accept the plural of retina as RETINAE. I insisted on RETINAS at 13d which caused 44a [Like some unhealthy attachments] to look like OSDI_AL instead of the correct OEDIPAL. Sigh. Live and learn I guess.
The other thorny section for me was SCHULTZ [Secretary of State under Reagan] crossing THAIS [Massenet opera] and AMAZONS [Hippolyta’s people]. I really wanted SCHULER or something (though I couldn’t remember anyone by that name), and couldn’t get that made-up name out of my head.
High points in the grid: TAPAS BAR, VALKYRIE, NEBULAS, TWO-FACE, THE DUDE, and the CAMILLE/BABETTE duo.
Low points: LESSERS, STAG crossing STAGG, and the afore-mentioned trouble spots.
Gotta run, so I will have to leave it there. 3.4 stars from me.
Debbie Ellerin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Interesting grid, with the long answers mostly hopscotching around the diagram rather than appearing in stacks. The marquee entry is the NOTORIOUS RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself. A SEA BREEZE cocktail, TRANSYLVANIA, a nonspecific DREAM TEAM and EVIL QUEEN, the GREEN GOBLIN, and A STAR IS BORN are the other sparkle points. The 6s and 7s are pretty nice, too.
- 27a. [Nonsense], BUSHWA. I object to this term on the grounds that it should be a silly way to say bourgeois, but isn’t. That is where the word derived from, but the meaning changed entirely.
- 43a. [Kind of strip], MOBIUS. What puzzly person doesn’t love a Mobius strip?
- 55a. [Sparks can be seen at its edge], RENO. Sparks, Nevada has 100,000 people and is next to Reno.
- 2d. [Kind of test for a baby], APGAR. You might be thinking APGAR is an acronym and that the pediatric staff is checking five things starting with A, P, G, A, and R, but no. It was named for its creator, Dr. Virginia Apgar, and the Apgar score includes assessment of a newborn’s breathing, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes, and color.
- 41d. [Requirements for voting], QUORUMS. The anti-Voting Rights people made me think of useless obstacles to electoral participation rather than the number of people a group needs to take a vote.
- 8d. [Creepy-crawly], LARVA. I was thinking of the adjectival use rather than the noun.
- 16d. [Piece of equipment in the game cornhole], BEANBAG. My sister tells me people just call the game “bags” in her area. All these names for the game (in which players toss beanbags at holes in a slanted wooden board some distance away) are ridiculous. If you are now thinking of Beavis and Butt-Head and “I am the great Cornholio,” you’re not alone.
- 54d. [Long green], KALE. I honestly don’t know if long green is slang for “money,” as KALE is also old slang for “money,” or if [Long green] is meant to be descriptive of the leafy veg.
There are some clunky bits in the fill, like ERTES, singular DRIB, LEO IV, and AMAS, but overall I liked the puzzle. 3.75 stars from me.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I finally did a Saturday LAT Downs Only, and it wasn’t too awfully terrible; I actually finished in under 10 minutes. Full disclosure: I did have a timer issue, so 7:15 is not accurate, but it’s not off by more than a minute or two. Yes, there are a lot of error marks in here, but that is to be expected with half the clues missing! By solving Downs Only, I missed several clues for what I thought are TERRIFIC entries: BEACH BOD, EL CHEAPO, PALOOKA, HOT SOAK, I’M A FAILURE, and TREKKIES. I did look them up later, and they are good, as we have come to expect from another stellar C.C. Burnikel puzzle. A solid 4.6 stars for this one:
Some high points – from the Downs!
- 7D [Modern crisis subject] OPIOIDS – It has been my understanding that some docs prescribe ridiculous amounts of these, possibly promoting addiction. If that is true, this crisis was totally manufactured. But it is also a very real thing, especially near where I live. A doctor was murdered here a year or so ago for NOT prescribing more of these pills to a patient. An interesting story to follow, more so now with the Big Pharma family being looked into now.
- 24D [Longtime Clark Bar maker] NECCO – I did not know this. But I don’t eat Clark bars. My wife knew this straightaway, but she loves these things.
- 25D [Bluegrass sound] TWANG – There are at least two Bluegrass Festivals within a 20 minute drive of my front door. What does that say about where I live??
- 26D [Dried chili pepper] ANCHO – As I get older, I like hotter and hotter foods. I must be slowly withering away!
- 39D [1898 Havana Harbor sinker] U.S.S. MAINE – I actually tried THE MAINE in here at first. I tried!
- 42D [Rio and Soul] KIAS – I have a Hyundai, which is similar. Car has been quite reliable. Mine is a 2012, so it is nearing time for a new one!
- 47D [Sportscast, usually] LIVE TV – I do NOT record sports for consumption later. You cannot avoid the score anymore!
- 52D [Fussy Felix] UNGER – This is a reference to The Odd Couple, which is evidently that popular even today, although this show, in its various iterations, is quite old. I don’t remember the original movie, but I did see the TV show from the 70s.
I could go on, but I will stop there. Have a great weekend!
Andrew Bell Lewis’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Brutal! As is usually the case, and I think it is by design, the upper left corner gave me the most fits. So yes, I spent several precious moments scanning several downs in that area while filling in absolutely nothing. I don’t remember exactly what clue I entered first, but it was somewhere in the middle, perhaps 28D (see below). A true Stumper solving experience, for sure, but I am feeling a tad better since a bad solving experience now is around 20 minutes. It used to be closer to 40 minutes of agony! Great puzzle by Brad and Matt today: 4.5 stars from me.
- 1A [Check on overflow] EMBANKMENT – Check is a noun here, and that is tricky!
- 30A [Mob rule] OMERTA – I read Mario Puzo’s novel by this name a long time ago, so this one was a gimme. Still haven’t seen The Godfather Part III yet, although I think it is on Netflix still.
- 42A [Starter like auri-] OTO – I thought this was a reference to gold, but it is to hearing! I must have seen Goldfinger too many times …
- 58A [First ”We Need a Little Christmas” singer] MAME – Tough one here, especially for a non-theater buff. I know a lot of crossworders are great at theater and musical production, and I enjoy going to plays, but I just don’t know this area of pop culture as well as I fell I should.
- 5D [Supremely neighboring] NEAREST – I tried KINDEST. Am I too optimistic??
- 14D [Rumination stations] ZEN GARDENS – Oh, THAT kind of rumination! I thought for sure it was CATTLE PENS!
- 24D [Markle acquisition of 2018] COAT OF ARMS – It looks like this:
- 26D [Scandal likened to Watergate] TEAPOT DOME – There were corrupt people in government before?? What a surprise! Google this scandal and note how similar it sounds to things you hear in the news.
- 28D [Big D dunker] MAV – As a sports fan, this was a gimme. Also, the Mavs have been in my Twitter feed and such this week with Dirk Nowitzki’s last couple of games.
- 41D [1991 US Open semifinalist at 39] CONNORS – I remember this match! Connors went on an epic run but finally ran out of gas. I think he was still playing with a metal racquet up until slightly before this tournament!
- 48D & 56D [Red-carpet regular] RENT-A-COP – I have seen several of these pre-award shows (I don’t know why!), but I don’t remember seeing any of these cops.
Brian Thomas’s Universal crossword, “Step Back” – Jim Q’s writeup
Something’s afoot in today’s Universal…
THEME: Theme answers end with different types of shoes.
- 16A [(Booyah!)] FIST PUMP.
- 20A [Parking enforcement device] DENVER BOOT.
- 35A [Smashing contest] DEMOLITION DERBY.
- 49A [Add-on for an aging parent] GRANNY FLAT.
- 57A [Cobbler’s mold, and a hint to 16-, 20-, 35- and 49-Across] SHOE LAST.
Plenty of fun stuff for me to learn from today’s Universal. I didn’t know the dreaded BOOT that keep’s one’s car stationary was credited to DENVER. It appears that it was introduced in that city in 1949. Was parking that big an issue then? I wonder if that city takes a lot of pride in that device.
GRANNY FLAT is new for me too, though my house actually has one (sans granny). I finally know what to call it.
SHOE LAST is entirely new for me, and the least inferable of the themers (I assumed the latter half might be CAST as that sounds more like a mold). Googled in quotes, it returns about 600,000 hits, but I’m not sure it’s a common enough to bring a satisfying AHA for the masses. It wasn’t for me anyway. In a puzzle full of great entries, it was the least fun to uncover.
JUST FOR MEN, RED BOX, IN STYLE, RAT OUT, MARTIAL ART, and SLEPT ON in the fill rounded out an overall entertaining puzzle.