David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mission Accomplished”—Jim P’s review
Our theme is well-known phrases whose last word can be a synonym for “finalized” and whose first word is changed to a noun.
- 20a [“Your car is ready”] AUTO COMPLETE
- 31a [“The taffy has all been stretched”] PULL OVER. Did not know that the act of stretching taffy was called a “pull.”
- 36a [“The tournament is finished”] OPEN ENDED
- 47a [“You can pump your water now”] WELL DONE
- 55a [“Our pledge period is concluded”] DRIVE THROUGH
This didn’t do much for me. The lack of articles and verbs just makes everything sound awkward and unnatural.
And then I started hearing the theme answers as if they were spoken by the Hulk (“Hulk smash!”), and that helped a lot. I would have loved it if the clues all had the Hulk in them, e.g. [“You can pump your water now,” to the Hulk]. This line of thought then put me in mind of the old SNL sketches featuring Lovitz, Nealon, and Hartman, as Tonto, Tarzan, and Frankenstein’s monster respectively speaking and singing in broken English. Here’s their rendition of “We Are World” (can’t embed the video, else I would).
Top fill: “NAME IT!”, GAZEBO, FOOTSIE (next to AROUSAL), SHOO IN, TEHRAN, SEAGULL, and SCHELP. Bottom fill: Archaic HIE and weird LAID IN [Stored away] and DEE clued as a Scottish river. (Note that there are actually four Rivers DEE in Britain.)
Clues of note:
- 3d [Game of concealed dalliance]. FOOTSIE. I know you “play FOOTSIE,” but is it really a “game”? Does that mean you can win or lose it?
- 37d [Spock suppressed them]. EMOTIONS. “Mr.,” not “Dr.”
- 56d [Penthouse selling point]. VIEW. I presume this is referring to the type of apartment and not the magazine. Still, I found the implied misdirection off-putting.
On their own, the awkward-sounding theme answers didn’t thrill me. I needed to employ my imagination to make them more fun. YMMV, of course. 3.3 stars.
Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Our theme features actors whose surnames are synonyms for “want,” with their surnames flipped into verbs:
- 17a. [Want an actress from “Soul Food”?], LONG FOR NIA.
- 23a. [Want an actor from “Wonder Woman”?], PINE FOR CHRIS.
- 36a. [Want an actress from “Mad Men”?], JONES FOR JANUARY. A mite inelegant to have four movie clues and one TV clue, but the theme is better for including this entry so I’ll forgive it.
- 44a. [Want an actor from “Rogue One”?], YEN FOR DONNIE.
- 55a. [Want an actor from “Here Come the Girls”?], HOPE FOR BOB. Wasn’t familiar with this movie.
Great theme! I appreciate that the theme’s only 40% white men.
Five more things:
- 34d. [Mythical ship that gave its name to a constellation], ARGO. “Wait, what?” I said to myself. I don’t remember seeing that in those Sporcle quizzes about constellations. So I looked it up: “Argo Navis (the Ship Argo), or simply Argo, was a large constellation in the southern sky that has since been divided into the three constellations of Carina, Puppis and Vela.” It was officially divided up in 1930. Yes, the clue says “gave” and not “gives,” but I still don’t like it.
- 39a. [They’re often lit], SOTS. Why isn’t this SETS crossing SHOE? Who actually enjoys the word SOT?
- 10d. [Something most people don’t go into more than once a year], LABOR. Some do, but yes, most don’t. Raise your hand if you wanted SEARS or KMART here.
- 20a. [Creepazoid’s gaze], LEER. Yeah, that’s about right.
- 50a. [Org. seeking clean skies], EPA. Gotta love the historical/aspirational clues for EPA. [Org. rolling back 25 air pollution and emissions regulations under Trump] would be more accurate. We will keep having more upbeat EPA clues until the EPA returns to its mission!
I don’t think this puzzle was as hard as my comparative (Thursday/Saturday-tough) solving time suggests. How’d you wrangle the puzzle?
Four stars from me.
John Guzzetta’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s Summary
I know a FALSESTART as an athletics infraction, but OK [Gridiron…] works too. It’s a slightly loose, but interesting, synonym theme with various falsities at the beginnings of words: a RACKET, a TRICK, a TRAP and a CON. Parsed the last answer as CONE/DISON first; we only have one power company for the whole country so a city-specific firm is a curiosity. I found myself realising I wasn’t sure what a TRICKKNEE was, but guessed luxating patella, as those slip in and out on a whim. Sure enough…
- [Latina toon explorer], DORA passes on the opportunity to tie-in with the recent movie version.
- [Skateboard stunt], OLLIE. Not taken in Spelling Bee, if I recall correctly. It is the basic jump that many other tricks build from.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX, “Following Threads” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX is from BEQ, and it’s a 3/5 on the difficulty scale. I’d say that’s about right. Since this is more of a visual theme rather than something in the clues, let’s talk about that and then run through the fill like it’s a themeless.
The hint for the circled squares in this puzzle is a “household chore” that turns out to be FOLDING LAUNDRY. Folding laundry tends to take me forever, but spotting what was going on with this was pretty instantaneous – each set of circles contains a folded article of clothing – TSHIRT in the upper left, UNDIES in the upper right, BLOUSE in the lower left, and SHORTS in the lower right. It’s a cute theme.
Looking at the fill:
- I’m not familiar with the Love and Hip Hop series of shows, so Safaree SAMUELS wasn’t on the tip of my brain when solving, but the crossings were pretty straightforward and I figured her last name was probably relatively common if it was being clued like this.
- I had RIGHT NOW for “That very moment”, but it ended up being NO SOONER after I realized the downs I had were definitely DORITO, OSOS, and NONET
- I liked all of the longer down fill – INDICTER, PREGAME, AMALGAM, and OVERBEAR
It’s late, so I’ll leave it there. Hope you enjoyed this week’s AVCX!