Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pending Action”—Jim P’s review
The title is meant to be re-parsed as “P-Ending Action.” Theme answers are familiar phrases with a P tacked on to the end of the final word.
- 17a. [Add koi to a pet store’s inventory?] STOCK CARP.
- 26a. [Mogul?] SKI BUMP.
- 38a. [Gravitational pull surrounding a black hole?] TUG OF WARP. I’ve never heard of a black hole referred to as a “warp” before. But a black hole has been known to warp space, as evidenced by this event last summer.
- 53a. [Substitute tennis instructor?] PRO TEMP.
- 65a. [Summer pasture bivouac for goatherds?] NANNY CAMP. This one’s the funniest of the lot, but I would have left the meaning of “nanny” alone as I find that idea even funnier.
I liked the last one, but the rest felt rather run-of-the-mill. YMMV.
I struggled in that NE corner because for some reason I went with AHI TUNA at 11d [Japanese restaurant order], with the U and final A convincing me I was right. It took a while to toss that and come up with TEMPURA. Similarly, I first wanted ACTORS for 33a [Legends of lots] instead of the correct ACURAS.
Elsewhere I liked MOLEMAN [46d. “The Simpsons” character Hans] (never knew his first name), SPRAY-ON tan, and “TOO TRUE.” I wish there was a bit more sparkle to the grid since some of the theme entries are on the shorter side. But having a nine-letter central entry adds some constraints to the grid.
Clue of note: 1a. [Record label?]. MOST. As in a world record or some such.
Adam Aaronson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
When you see numbers in parentheses after a clue, you start to think “part of a meta puzzle,” and I’d filled in the revealer fully from the crossings so I hadn’t seen that clue. I started to look at the 7th and 9th letters in the first themer, KEVIN KLINE, and then at the letters in the 7 and 9 squares in the grid. But lo and behold, the center themer has a zero in its clue! So neither of those angles would work. I scrolled through all the clues till I found that revealer, 46d. [Like 17-, 26-, 40-, 51- and 64-Across, with respect to the numbers in their clues], RHYMING. Aha! Seven nine, Kevin Kline. Here are the themers:
- 17a. [“A Fish Called Wanda” co-star [7,9]], KEVIN KLINE.
- 26a. [A total blast [8,1]], GREAT FUN.
- 40a. [Purple Heart honoree, maybe [4,0]], WAR HERO.
- 51a. [Eschew scuba gear, say [3,5]], FREE DIVE.
- 64a. [Some poster-making supplies [2,6], GLUE STICKS.
You’ll note that the numbers from 0 to 9 are each used once in this theme. Well done!
Five more things:
- 48d. [Oversaw?], BINGED. Great tricksy clue. My latest binges are Queer Eye and Letterkenny.
- 58a. [Sluglike secretary in “Monsters, Inc.”], ROZ. This clue is bad. Secretary? No. Roz is the scare floor administrator and eventually it’s revealed she’s the Child Detection Agency head, working undercover to find the bad guys. Also? My best impression is Roz, and yes, I know she’s voiced by a man.
- 3d. [___ Stadium a.k.a. “Field of Jeans”], LEVI’S. It’s in the SF Bay Area, and I had not known it had a nickname.
- 12d. [Two-patty burgers introduced in 1997], MCDOUBLES. Say what? This does not ring a bell. Like, at all. Apparently they still have it. I get a chicken sandwich, haven’t had a beef patty since the 1970s. Am I the only one who didn’t know this was a thing?
- 57d. [Cybertruck maker], TESLA. Is it bad that my first thought was TONKA toys?
4.2 stars from me.
Jon Pennington’s Universal crossword, “Putting on a Front” — pannonica’s write-up
… or, less colloquially but more precisely, “Putting A on Front”.
The letter A is hooked onto the beginning of familiar phrases:
- 20a. [Near Batman’s sidekick?] AROUND ROBIN.
- 30a. [Stockpile some yogurt starter?] AMASS CULTURE.
- 45a. [Person playing marbles, often?] AGATE CRASHER.
- 54a. [Anticipate the latest charts?] AWAIT TABLES.
Bit of a yawner, but it suffices. Or maybe prefices?
- 47d [Comedian’s “thing”] SHTICK. “Yiddish shtik pranks, literally, piece, from Middle High German stücke, from Old High German stucki; akin to Old English stycce piece, Old High German stoc stick — more at STOCK entry 1″ (m-w.com)
- 48d [Drink often sweetened with honey] HOT TEA. Yes, please. But only for certain varieties of tea, and only with quality honey, often local.
- 56d [They’re not free of charge] IONS. Quite literally.
- 61d [Nwodim of “SNL”] EGO. Egobunma Kelechi ‘Ego’ Nwodim.
- 8a [Matted clumps of hair] TUFTS. Is ‘matted’ the right word here?
- 33a [“Count” who composed “One O’Clock Jump”] BASIE. Sure, let’s.
- 36a [Affirmative] YES, 24a [What do the pros say?] AYE.
- 37a [People with an annual Sun Dance] UTES. Sun … Dance, Sundance … Utah, whoa.
- 65a [Part of YOLO] ONCE; 67a [“Good heavens!”] MY GOD.
- 39a [Actress Dandridge] MERLE. New MERLE.
- 43a [“Midsommar” director Aster] ARI. New ARI.
- 44a [Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver, e.g.] POETS. In the news: the former has just become the first Black woman to be depicted on a US quarter.
Ross Trudeau’s AVCX, “Go With the Flow” — Ben’s Review
Ross Trudeau has today’s AVCX, an unusual-sized grid (19 x 13) with a cute little theme.
24A clues a “Recent Netflix show based on a living room make-believe game, and this puzzle’s theme”. That would be FLOOR IS LAVA, and indeed, the floor of this puzzle is made up of four unclued entries that all resolve to LAVA. In the down clues, four entries make an L-shape to take full advantage of the floor being LAVA:
- 57D: Filo-based pastry — BAKLAVA
- 46D: Headgear sometimes worn by Pussy Riot — BALACLAVA
- 42D: Capital of Slovakia — BRATISLAVA
- 56D: Dallas hip-hop group with an extremely ’90s name that toured with Cypress Hill — MAD FLAVA
This is the kind of grid experimentation that’s fun to see, and I’m glad to see AVCX providing an outlet for it.
Other fill I liked today: THE WIZ, ENROBES, ACAI, KILN, TAPAS BARS, and ROSS SEA.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s review
I feel like it’s been a minute since I’ve gotten Erik on a Wednesday. (Please don’t take that as gospel). This is a fun-looking grid, accommodating the 14-12-14 stack in the middle AND a pair of vertical spanners.
I assume AMA ATA AIDOO was the seed entry. And if not, it’s who we’re going to talk about. At first I thought the name was new to me, but now that I read her Wikipedia page, I wonder if I’ve seen her in one of Erik’s puzzles before. Anyway, Aidoo is a Ghanaian (as we learn in 30d) author and playwright whose writings often deal with the tension between western and African worldviews and will definitely be joining my lifetime reading list. (I’ll also preemptively note that the crossing are MORE than fair–dare I say gentle?–if a solver does need each and every one of them. Everyone is going to have their own barometers on this, but “fair” is all I ask for, gentle or not.)
AMA ATA AIDOO is bracketed by a pair of highlights: CRESCENT ROLLS [36a- Rising moons] and PLEAD THE FIFTH [32a Be V quiet?], and I also loved [They’re always bringing up old stuff?] for PALEONTOLOGISTS.
A short batch of notes:
- 27a [Island that’s home to “The Properties of Perpetual Light” author Julian Aguon] GUAM. If you missed Jim Peredo and Alex Eaton-Salners’ Guam-themed puzzles from March 2021, find them here and give them a solve!
- 38a [Holders of cereal and milk] BAGS. I grew up on the US-Canadian border, so I’ve always known about bagged milk, which is cheaper, easier to vary portion sizes, and takes up less space in the trash, but I see now it’s very common in South America, as well.
- 58a [____ leg (dance fad of the two-thousands)] STANKY. I am sure there are others my un-hip self should know, but I associate the stanky leg with former US Soccer star Charlie Davies, who used it as his goal celebration.
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I feel this theme by Craig Stowe could easily have been Sunday-sized, for better worse. People with an avian surname have a possessive added to their first name to make their surname their pet. All four are recent-ish pop cult players, so no Christopher’s wren, John’s jay, Ben’s crane or plus-sized Florence’s nightingale.
The grid was mostly quite conservative: OBRIEN, clued via 1984, HOSANNA, and VITAMINA were probably the trio of high points.