Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Learning to Be a Politician”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Various non-political phrases are re-imagined as instructional terms for those seeking political office.
- 24a [Instruction for a future congressperson?] HOUSE TRAINING. This works.
- 32a [Lessons on managing a financial crisis?] CRASH COURSE. This doesn’t work as well. The clue does not necessarily have anything to do with politics.
- 56a [Seminar for politicians who want to appear humble?] MODESTY PANEL. Never heard of this phrase which is apparently a part of a desk.
- 76a [Lessons for budget management?] ECONOMY CLASS. Again, not necessarily political, but certain politicians are charged with overseeing the economy, so it works a little better.
- 94a [Practice exercises on being in charge?] POWER DRILLS.
- 108a [Where to learn how to be nominated?] PRIMARY SCHOOL.
- 3d [Curriculum for a left-leaning politician?] LIBERAL EDUCATION.
- 42d [Where a politician can learn how to win the presidency?] ELECTORAL COLLEGE. Sad, but true, since it doesn’t matter if more of the populace votes for you.
Some good ones here, some not as good. But overall, despite mostly being non-partisan, I expect it might still evoke some unpleasant feelings. One thing people enjoy about crosswords is that they’re a short escape from the real world, and these days, the real world is filled with ugly politics. I’m not sure why a constructor would want to wade into those waters.
But the puzzle lost me at 49a EX-OILER [Gretzky of the NHL or Moon of the NFL]. Never mind that the X crosses XTINA [Aguilera, to her fans], which is ultimately gettable, though I stuck hard and fast to STINA, which seemed plausible to me. And never mind that 25d [Shake awake] could easily have been ROUST instead of ROUSE. So yes, I did Natick at the X. Because, who has EX-OILER in their grid!?! Let’s just go ahead and add all the other teams to our word lists, shall we? EX-JET, EX-MET, EX-BUC, EX-BROWN, EX-BILL, etc., etc. Bleah!
There were a few high points in the grid like “OH I GET IT,” TRIFECTA, and METONYMS. But there were also more sub-par entries than I’d like to see: green painty EVIL ONE, long partial A TINGE, lesser known proper names WEILL and HEGEL, and crosswordese INGE, ELAND, AGA, OPA, AT NO.
Overall, not the funnest outing for me. 2.8 stars.
Paolo Pasco & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Dang! I was not expecting to hit a never-heard-this-one at 1-Across. [2008 Lil Wayne hit whose title is slang for lots of money], “A MILLI,” that came out before I started listening to rap on the radio (advantage of radio: I get the radio edits and miss the words that aren’t radio-friendly). Just watched the video, and the song doesn’t grab me. The “milli” of “million” was inferrable enough, though.
Fave fill: “COME AT ME,” ACTOR/DIRECTOR (might’ve been nice to spotlight a woman like Jodie Foster in the clue—and wow, very few women have been signed to direct themselves), BEAT POET, MIAMI HEAT, SEMORDNILAP (why did I misremember this as SEMILORDNAP? pandrolimes are not a thing!), and DREAM DATE.
Six more things:
- 17a. [Laffy Taffy flavor], BANANA. This angers me. Laffy Taffy is terrible for the teeth, and banana flavor is terrible for candy. *bangs gavel*
- 25a. [Tool used in angioplasty], STENT. Okay, so the clue doesn’t talk about surgery anymore, that’s good. But how many “tools” does a doctor intentionally leave inside the patient? Not sure “tool” is apt here. Where are my interventional cardiologists to weigh in?
- 9d. [Despot with a nuclear arsenal], KIM. Kardashian, of course.
- 13d. [Round up?], DOMED. This is one of those Agardian clues, I reckon. If a building is round, up there at the top, it’s DOMED.
- 37d. [Best of all possible whirls?], DREAM DATE. I don’t get this clue at all. “Whirls”? Help me out here.
- 32a. [___ party (all-female get-together)], HEN. Ugh, this is terrible. Paolo, Erik, please tell me this wasn’t your clue.
Touching base with the cruciverbal Bechdel test: random EDNA, biblical NAOMI, SERENA Williams, +3. Allen Ginsberg, biblical Abraham, Jack Nicholson, Jack Schaefer (who?), Ben Jonson, and Pope Francis in clues, North Korea’s KIM, –7. Adds up to a negative 4. Huh.
Four stars from me. How’d the puzzle treat you, good FIENDs?
Kyle Dolan’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Kyle Dolan has another LAT themeless for us this week. Just over 5 minutes is my solve time, which is about right for a Saturday LAT. I am not sure I can solve these much faster, but I better figure it out now, since the ACPT is coming quickly! They have opened up room reservations already, meaning I better scarf one up quickly! Anyway, I digress. It would be great to see Kyle again at the ACPT, so here’s hoping he comes again! 4.6 stars for this one.
Highlights, which will include the stacked 11s in the middle:
- 19A [Have no weaknesses] DO IT ALL – I don’t think I ever did it “all.” As I get older, I do less and less!
- 25A [A mechanic usually keeps one handy] RAG – I am working on my bike mechanic skills. If I ever learn to swim I still want to do a triathlon!
- 31A [“The Vanishing Hitchhiker” subject] URBAN LEGEND – Not exactly sure what this story is about; I will look it up!
- 34A [Misty tropical ecosystem] CLOUD FOREST – Similar to a rain forest, no doubt …
- 35A [Edge] BEAT BY A NOSE – As in a horse race! Great entry.
- 45A [Six-time NBA All-Star Kyrie] IRVING – The NBA has started back up, and my hometown Chicago Bulls are TERRIBLE.
- 1D [Alexis of “The Handmaid’s Tale”] BLEDEL – I still haven’t watched this show. (I am still neck deep in Puzzle Boat 6!) This actress could easily become crossword famous!
- 11D [Colombia is this gem’s largest producer] EMERALD – I did not know this.
- 28D [Natural enemy of aphids] LADY BEETLE – These are called ladybugs, aren’t they??
- 33D [Some Ernst works] EROTIC ART – Familiar with Ernst, but not any erotic art. Again, that’s probably a good thing!
That is all!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
This was certainly Less Ruff this week, for sure. I had most of this grid filled in after only about 7 minutes, but my final time was just over 10 minutes. I struggled with the NW corner again; it seems as if I can never finish the part that is usually where everyone starts! But this solve was fairly smooth, so I will take it. That also means watch out next week! 4.3 stars for this one.
- 17A [What ”the hoi polloi” actually is] REDUNDANT – According to Google Translate, this literally means “the many,” so using the extra “the” is the problem.
- 20A [German much-honored by Jews] SCHINDLER – I have mentioned before that there isn’t a large Jewish presence here in Indiana. Is Schindler really that revered by them? I can obviously see why, but is this true?
- 22A [Where you can sleep in 50+ countries] HYATTS – Wow, 50 countries, yet there is only a Hyatt Place here in Mishawaka, IN!
- 31A [Croutons, often] STALE BREAD – See also French toast!
- 37A [When many yard sales start] TEN A.M. – The hardcore yard salers I know are HOME by 10:00 am!
- 41A [They can’t handle the truth] SORE LOSERS – And the truth is, you lost!
- 59A [Source of triglycerides] ANIMAL FAT – This sounds unhealthy on several levels!
- 63A [”America’s firelog”] DURAFLAME – We had one or two of these in our fireplace when I was a kid! We have a fireplace in our home now that we never use. If this winter gets harsh, we may give it a whirl!
- 12D [Post-revelation exclamation] “WELL I’LL BE!” – Great casual phrase!
- 13D [General Pencil product] GUM ERASER – I haven’t used one of these in years. I just bought a pack on Amazon to fix that!
- 31D [”Enterprise” reckonings] STARDATES – Ah yes, each Star Trek episode does start with a stardate. Question: is this one word or two?
- 32D [Showroom ritual] TEST DRIVE – One of these days I am going to test drive a BMW. I still don’t think I ever have!
Have a great weekend!