Jim Holland’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Addressing the Ball”—Jim P’s review
I’ve never heard the title phrase. Apparently, it’s a golf term. That explains it. Everything I ever needed to know about golf, I learned from George Carlin.
The revealer is another sports term—this time from basketball—which I have heard (though I admit I had to look up its meaning). Clued [Superior court feats suggested by 20-, 32- and 41-Across], 54a’s answer is TRIPLE-DOUBLES. In the grid, it’s referring to the fact that the other theme answers all have three sets of double letters. (Out of interest, I looked up the etymologies of each word on Wikipedia.)
- 20a [Atlanta’s river] CHATTAHOOCHEE. Thought to be derived from Muskogean words chato (“rock”) and huchi (“painted”). (BTW, Chattanooga means “rock rising to a point.”)
- 32a [Natchez National Historical Park setting] MISSISSIPPI. Derived from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi (“Great River”).
- 41a [Site of Governor DeSantis’s office] TALLAHASSEE. Another Muskogean derivation meaning “old fields” or “old town.”
I find it interesting that all these are Native American words, or rather, English approximations of Native American words. I’m also surprised the old classic, “bookkeeping,” doesn’t appear here, especially since its doubles are in succession.
Elsewhere, ANTELOPES and STATE TREE are the marquee Downs today, plus there’s FACADES, HONOREE, AIRPLAY, and HEN COOP which doesn’t sit well in my ear as opposed to “chicken coop.” And hang on, isn’t the plural of antelope “antelope”? (I guess either is acceptable.)
But now on to the elephant in the room: the crossing of ASON [Chacun ___ goût (to each his own)] and HONI [___ soit qui mal y pense (Order of the Garter motto)] at the N. Not only are these both lousy bits of fill, but in what country is it fair to cross entries with little-known French sayings? (I’m guessing…France.) The first translates to “to each his own” as the clue states, the second to “shame be to him who thinks evil of it.” Well, shame on me, but I think this is a terrible crossing. But to each their own, I guess. Somehow I guessed the N correctly on the first try, but was shocked when I did. An easy remedy is to clue ASON as the partial [“Unto us ___ is given”]. But with a little bit of work, that central section can be cleaned up by changing HONI to HOPI, ASON to PLOP, etc., etc.
Clues of note:
- 50a. [“So I take it that’s ___”]. A NO. I get that the clue is trying to do something other than the standard [“I’ll take that as ___”], but it just sounds awkward.
- 51a. [One-time go-between]. AT A. This, on the other hand, is a brilliant little bit of deception.
- 1d. [“Insufficient facts always invite danger, Captain” speaker]. SPOCK. I bet no one in this current administration is a Trekkie.
Despite the one crossing in the middle, I found the theme interesting and the rest of the grid solid. 3.5 stars.
Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Theme revealer: 59a. [Start of each “S.N.L.” episode … or a hint to the initials of the words in 17-, 24-, 35- and 47-Across], COLD OPEN. Those four themers are two-word phrases with I.C. initials, and “I.C.” sounds sort of like “icy” (albeit with different syllabic stresses and vowel sounds, at least the way I say them).
- 17a. [It served as its state’s capital before Des Moines], IOWA CITY.
- 24a. [Joe and Jack, say?], IRISH COFFEE. Good clue. Joe = coffee, Jack = Jack Daniels whiskey. Technically, you should probably use an Irish whiskey rather than an American one.
- 35a. [Medical ethics topic], INFORMED CONSENT.
- 47a. [“Barrier” dismantled in 1991], IRON CURTAIN. Did people get mad when the Berlin Wall was knocked down? On account of stone monuments representing history, and it being a darn shame to “forget” history by destroying monuments to bad things?
I’ll bet the northeast corner of this puzzle snagged some solvers. That stack of LAMAZE ALOMAR KATANA crossing AMALFI and a nonspecific ALAMO clue, oof. See also: the crossing of 42d. [Hungarian sporting dog], VIZSLA and 53a. [Country’s ___ Brown Band], ZAC. I could see someone trying MAC and VIMSLA there, despite MAC USERS being in the grid.
What else? Five things:
- 41a. [Bluesman Willie], DIXON. I don’t know his music. Let’s see what YouTube has for us. (Video below.)
- 40a. [In a drab way], GRAYLY. Aaugh. This reminds me of too many dorky adverbs that are on the word list in the NYT’s Spelling Bee game. The sort of words that you ask yourself, How would anyone actually use this in a sentence and not sound like a weirdo? And then other, more plausible adverbs aren’t accepted. The Beehive people, we get heated!
- 44d. [“Back of the line!”], “NO CUTS!” Unless there are extenuating circumstances, in which case it would be churlish to deny cuts. (Dupe with NO TAKERS.)
- 28d. [Geometric figure with equal angles], ISOGON. This is not a word I use or encounter much.
- 21d. [Department store founder], R.H. MACY. Who the heck knows his initials? It seems particularly unwise to drop a question-marked clue on that initialism crossing, 21a. [Where dreams are made?], R.E.M.
The theme’s all right, and there’s some cool fill but also some clunkers. And way too many proper nouns in the grid (over 20!) to not irk a lot of solvers. Foreign-ish vocab represented by KATANA LIS AMO VINO ETTU MOT, also a lot for a 15×15 grid. 3.5 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Happy Wednesday New Yorker! This is actually pretty close to the face I made a couple of times during this solve, which was mostly smooth and fun, but punctuated with a few grumpy moments. The central entry of JONATHAN FRANZEN is a perfect (15) that I can’t believe I’ve never seen in a grid before, but this appears to be the JONATHAN FRANZEN debut! Too bad I haven’t read his books (uncultured brute that I am), so the clues were no help to me.
The long entries in this puzzle are all pretty solid: BOTTICELLI / BROOM-HILDA / BANANARAMA / EVEN STEVEN / BEACH READS / DILETTANTE. Of these, I think my favorites are DILETTANTE [Dabbler] and BEACH READS [Novel suggestions for sunbathers?]. I’ve never read the BROOM-HILDA comics, but the clue makes me think I’d probably enjoy them. *However,* upon googling BROOM-HILDA, I found that the clue [Cigar-smoking, beer-guzzling witch of comics] is taken almost verbatim from the first paragraph of the BROOM-HILDA Wikipedia page, which is a little disappointing. Interestingly, upon further Wikipedia-page perusing, I learned that she is Attila the HUN‘s ex-wife! Missed opportunity for a cross-reference or wisely-avoided deep cut?
A few other things:
- GAEL/ELD is a pretty rough crossing. I had GAIL/ILD, which seems reasonable if you are unfamiliar with restaurant critics and “Ragtime,” as I clearly am. I suppose these are both New Yorkerish entries, but crossing them was not so great.
- Fill I Could Live Without: ELEC / ELD / OONA (although tbh OONA is also one of my most favorite pieces of crosswordese— she shows up *all the time* and so is a nice gimme/toehold if you memorize her (delightful) name).
- I had no idea what was going on wit the clue for ONE-L, more typically clued in reference to law students, so I googled the Ogden Nash line and found the complete poem: “The one-L lama, he’s a priest. The two-L llama, he’s a beast. And I will bet a silk pajama: there isn’t any three-L lllama!” – DELIGHTFUL
- Names I didn’t know: GAEL Greene, Steve AOKI, George Moore/Evelyn INNES, Bill EVANS
Overall, this moderately challenging puzzle was a lovely way to start the day, despite my few gripes— several stars from me. I’m so glad we get New Yorker puzzles three days per week now!!!
Brooke Husic’s AVCX, “Initial Expression” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX is an AVCX debut from Brooke Husic, who’s already had some puzzles published over in USA Today. Congrats, Brooke! This was a speedy solve for me, but it was a fun one nevertheless:
- 1A: Neither great nor terrible — NOT BAD
- 21A: Shoe brand that’s neither Nike nor Adidas — NEW BALANCE
- 40A: Lines that are neither in one country nor another — NATIONAL BORDERS
- 54A: Tense games that are in neither one team’s clear favor nor the other’s — NAIL BITERS
- 71A: People who identify as neither male nor female, in a phonetic pronunciation, and this puzzle’s theme — ENBIES
People who identify as neither male nor female are non-binary. Non-binary often gets abbreviated as NB, so they’re also referred to as ENBIES. This was a nice riff on that, with plenty of N.B. fill in the grid, and if you enjoyed it, I encourage you to take Brooke and Ben Tausig’s suggestion and donate to a group like The Okra Project that supports trans and non-binary people of color.
68A – “Paris Museum in a Lorde song”
Elsewhere in the fill:
- I loved seeing CELESTE Ng’s name pop up in the grid. I have yet to watch the miniseries adaptation, but I loved her book Little Fires Everywhere when I read it last year.
- Multiple music references are hanging out in the grid – in addition to cluing XANADU as the “Titular nightclub in an Olivia Newton-John movie” (and ELO song from said movie), we’ve got Red LOBSTER (“Beyoncé’s treat, if you’re fortunate”, per her song “Formation”), Lorde singing about the LOUVRE, and a reminder that TLC wants “No SCRUBs” at 53D (“One who’ll get no love from TLC”)
Tom Pepper’s Universal crossword, “Changing Positions” — pannonica’s write-up
Whoops! Forgot that I was responsible for a write-up today. Have to make it quick as a result.
Theme is paired hirings and firings with a—how to put it?—terminal name pun?
- 20a. [H.R manager’s note to pull poet Cummings from the staff …] YANK EE (yankee).
- 22a. [… and bring on singer Diddley instead?] PLACE BO (placebo). I’d have thought he’s more famous as a guitarist.
- 26a. [… lay off actress Fey …] CAN TINA (cantina). Even more accomplished as a writer?
- 29a. [… and hire parodist Yankovic instead?] SIGN AL (signal).
- 47a. [… fire actress Gasteyer permanently …] BAN ANA (banana).
- 49a. [… and select guitarist Paul instead?] PICK LES (pickles).
- 54a. [… ax actor Asner …] SCRAP ED (scraped).
- 57a. [… and pursue sportscaster Berman instead?] WOO LEN (woolen).
Just a few bits:
- 30d [Country with an 85-letter Maori place name] NEW ZEALAND. Here it is:
- 40d [“SNL” network] NBC. Both TINA Fey and ANA Gasteyer are alums of the show.
- 4d [Became understood] SANK IN, 11d [“Now it makes sense”] I SEE.
- 36a [Microscopic] TEENY.
Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
It’s a “word that follows” Wednesday. Today’s theme is explained at JAMSESSION. Each of four answers start with a word – PAPER, LOG, ICE, and TRAFFIC – that can end in JAM. In JAMSESSION, the sense is musical, while in the themers, it’s as in being stuck. In neither is it the fruity jam.
Things I was a bit iffy on:
- [Winter carnival attraction], ICEPALACE. Not common around here. Neither are ICE jams…
- [Tiresome person], PILL. Do people still say this? Was that what P!nk was referring to?
- [Replacement of computer parts without a reboot], HOTSWAP. Nope. Never remotely seemed like a good idea, especially if said parts were plugged into the motherboard directly.
- [Dating site for singles 50 and older], OURTIME. News to me, but I’m not really the target audience. I’m guessing crossword solvers are heavily represented?