Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Take Two”—Jim P’s review
This will have to be quick (unlike my time). I have a lot going on today.
Theme: Common phrases have the first two letters detached to form an initialism.
22a [Security at a media happening?] PR EVENT DEFENSE. This was tough to parse, but it’s a sporting term in football (and basketball?) where the team on defense seeks to keep all the action in front of them and keep the other team from scoring. It may allow the other team to progress down the field, but seeks to prevent the big play. See, I learn stuff from video games (thanks, Tecmo Bowl!).
- 28a [Extoller of a news agency’s virtues?] AP PRAISER. This was the one that gave me the theme.
- 34a [Expertise in temperature control?] AC KNOWLEDGE
- 51a [Soldier who gets rid of little soldiers?] GI ANT KILLER
- 63a [Dignitaries hosted by the secretary-general?] UN INVITED GUEST. This is a little bit of a cheat since the removed letters were added on in the first place.
- 81a [Alien’s opinion regarding higher education?] ET ON COLLEGE. I kind of like this one.
- 94a [General’s way of managing things?] CO OPERATION. Same comment as the U.N. one.
- 103a [Way of speaking about the Common Era?] AD DICTION. Meh.
- 111a [Insult about the 26th president’s dinner habits?] TR EATS LIKE A DOG. Never heard Teddy Roosevelt being called “T.R.”
I like the theme fine, but it felt uneven in execution.
A few things:
- Never heard of an ABECEDARY.
- Fave bits of fill: SHERLOCK, MENISCUS (though I had trouble spelling it), PASTEUR, SWEE’ PEA.
- Way too much reliance on crosswordese and lesser fill: MFOR, NORW, NONU(?!), plural LAITS, ROUE, IN HIS, ETCHA, RIV, SET AT, CSIS(!). Ugh to that last one.
- Actually Naticked at SSI crossing SADA. That’s a pretty unfair crossing.
Overall, this felt like a slog. 2.8 stars.
Oh, I was surprised at 36d [Grand Canyon of the Pacific location] being KAUAI. Fun fact to learn, but of course the deepest part of any ocean is the Marianas Trench which has a crescent shape around the island of Guam (from which I write his post). Technically, this makes Mt Lamlam (which means “lightning”) on Guam, the tallest mountain in the world. Despite rising only 1300 feet above sea level, it’s still another 36,000 feet down to the bottom of the trench. Mt. Everest clocks in at a mere 29,000 feet.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Anyone else find this to be of Friday-level difficulty? Despite needing the crossings to piece together 1-Across, and despite the grid’s two halves being connected only through those Down 14s, I filled it in soon enough.
Side note: Now, I’m sad that neither IDRIS nor ELBA is in this grid, because Kameron wrote the new Vanity Fair cover story, a profile of Idris Elba. (His day job, if you don’t know, is film critic.)
Fave fill: SUGAR MAMA, KAZAAM (raise your hand if you thought of the nonexistent Sinbad-as-genie movie Shazam here), EXTRA FRIES, ZAPATISTA, a smooth MUCOUS MEMBRANE (editorial note: mucous is an adjective, and it’s mucus you want if you mean the noun), the splendid word OUROBOROS, and old-school TEN-SPEEDS. Do they still sell many ten-speed bikes? They were de rigueur in my youth but seem to have vanished.
There was a surprising smattering of things I place in the crosswordese category: MAA, RENI, ARTEL. The plural OWS, ANISES (omg, even one is too many), and OOFS were awkward. Is GALOP crosswordese? I’m fairly confident I learned the word from crosswords and have rarely, if ever, encountered it elsewhere.
Did not know: 41a. [Country singer McDaniel], MEL. Probably he is better behaved than MEL Gibson.
Three more things:
- 32d. [Principle associated with Machiavellianism], AMORALITY. Who’s your go-to when you think of contemporary people (real or fictional) with a Machiavellianist vibe?
- 15d. [What ends with Adar], HEBREW CALENDAR. I wanted JEWISH CALENDAR. Jewish solvers, tell me: Which term do you use? Are both equally legit?
- 61d. [Club drug, informally], XTC. Sounds like “ecstasy.” The British band XTC was on this beat 40 years ago.
3.6 stars from me.
Christopher Adams’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I have done a few of the puzzles on Christopher Adam’s website (you can find them here), and I like his style. I enjoyed this puzzle, even though I was able to plow through it. It has been a stressful last few weeks, so I did not even try the Downs Only rabbit hole, but it would have been tough. Maybe I will take the time to try that route on the upcoming day off this week! I am awaiting nice relaxing Thursday, and I will try to watch the Hot Dog Eating Contest, which I have missed the last year or two. Yes, it can be disgusting, but the announcer is hilarious and it actually makes me NOT want to eat, and I still need to lose 30 lbs!
I got off on a tangent. 4.5 stars from me for this fun puzzle. Lots to talk about, but I will narrow it down to ten items:
- 15A [Trendy Starbucks option] SOY LATTE – This answer is in the Stumper as well. I am still not going to order one!
- 33A [2022 World Cup city] DOHA – The Women’s World Cup has been fun to watch. The major sports in this country need to take notes on how to produce more drama, as there is urgency from the very first games. (I am looking at you, baseball!)
- 38A [Academic dictum] PUBLISH OR PERISH – Excellent 15-letter entry.
- 44A [Album by Destroyer with a German title meaning “broken”] KAPUTT – This plays tough for me, primarily because I have no idea who this band is!
- 50A [Eponymous Portland bookstore founder] POWELL – I should have stopped in here when I was in Portland a few years ago. I hear it is spectacular.
- 63A [Tasmanian capital] HOBART – There is also a Hobart, IN, just an hour or so west of South Bend. Not quite as famous, though, as this one!
- 8D [1927 Hemingway short story collection] MEN WITHOUT WOMEN – Obscure, but an interesting title that I admit I am not familiar with. I am also highly uncultured. Is there a mini-theme here …
- 12D [Workplace concern] GENDER BIAS – … because speaking of the World Cup, explain to me how the women’s team isn’t paid as well as the men! Their lawsuit has gone into mediation, and the results from that will be interesting. This would actually be a debate if the US men’s team was any good, but they are painful to watch, while the women’s team is far more enjoyable to see. But if they win another World Cup title, anything less than pay equality will be laughable.
- 28D [It has over 43 quintillion configurations] RUBIK’S CUBE – My youngest son is interested in solving these now. We shall learn together!
- 49D [The CW show about a vigilante archer] ARROW – I used to watch this show, but I don’t watch much TV anymore these days. This show, as well as a spinoff or two, is on Netflix, so maybe I will try to catch up!
I think I will try my next LAT review with Downs Only again. See how poorly I do this upcoming Tuesday!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Lester Ruff was not “less rough” for me this week. As mentioned in my LAT review, it has been a little busy, and my brain feels a little fried. Also, this weekend, I am volunteering at the U.S. Senior Open, which is right here in my backyard at the golf course at Notre Dame. I am working the leaderboards, which for USGA events are still manually done, which I think is one of their iconic features. They also don’t allow professional male golfers to wear shorts when it is 90 degrees, while female golfers are allowed to wear shorts, skirts, skorts, sleeveless shirts, tank tops, and anything else to keep cool. After seeing how fit even the Senior Tour golfers are, this boggles my mind. This also relates to the answer in today’s LAT at 12D (see that review above). In summary: it has been more tiring than I thought it would be. I am getting old! Getting brutalized by this puzzle also didn’t help one bit. I need a nap. 4.6 stars for a tougher-than-usual puzzle by Stan himself.
Some high points:
- 16A [”Oklahoma!” fiance] ADO ANNIE – I have seen this answer before, but I don’t think I have watched this movie/play in its entirety. Is this the character that the actress in the wheelchair won the Tony for? I saw her performance on the Tony Awards show, and she was amazing.
- 18A [Vanilla-flavored refresher] SOY LATTE – This answer was in the LAT puzzle as well!
- 55A [”Simpsons” store mascot] LARD LAD – I don’t regularly watch The Simpsons, so I don’t actually remember this. I know the police are always at the donut shop, though! Pretty sure Homer is a big donut fan as well!
- 65A [”Revenue Recognition” reader] TAX PRO – I am an accountant, but I don’t do taxes much. I thought this might be TAX CPA; PRO never occurred to me until the very end.
- 2D [Person most special to me] ONE I LOVE – This seems like an awkward partial, but I suppose it works.
- 7D [They may be mixed into margaritas] CASABAS – They may? OK! Somebody make me one so I can try it! (Or I can Google a melon margarita recipe instead!)
- 8D [Device in a ”busting miles” crime] ODOMETER – I had to look this up afterwards, but it makes perfect sense now. Still a very tough clue.
- 26D [House associated with elegant eggs] ROMANOV – It’s not FABERGÉ? Not sure I know anything about Romanov eggs. Off to Google again …
- 38D [”Pygmalion” lead character] CAPITAL P – TOTALLY fooled by this one. I told you I was tired!
- 44D [10+2, half the time] MIDDAY – Fooled a little by this one, but not sure what this clue is referencing, if anything. Enlighten me!
Everyone have a wonderful weekend and a safe holiday week!
Ross Trudeau’s Universal Crossword, “See Attachment”—Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Things attached to male characters
- 17A [Accessory for Frosty] CORN COB PIPE
- 23A [Accessory for Woody] SHERIFF’S BADGE
- 51A [Accessory for Shrek’s friend Gingy] GUMDROP BUTTON.
- 60A [Accessory for a 40th Anniversary Ken Doll] BOUTONNIERE.
- 36A [Resist authority, and a hint to 17-, 23-, 51- and 60-Across] STICK IT TO THE MAN.
Smooth, cohesive puzzle with fun consistency in the theme. Anyone else have trouble with the spelling of BOUTONNIERE? Ha!
Also appreciated the wink Ross gave to his father with the clue for TOONS [Mike and Alex Doonesbury, e.g.].