Gary Larson & Amy Ensz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Head Fakes”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar(ish) phrases whose first words (or two) are synonyms for “fake.” Clues are presented in crossword-wacky fashion.
- 18a. [Fake grip used in a professional wrestling match?] PUT-ON HOLD. Meh. No idea what a “fake grip” would be.
- 23a. [Substance sold by a duplicitous drug dealer?] CROCK POT. We don’t typically use “crock” as an adjective, but I like this one.
- 36a. [Father figures?] FAUX PAS.
- 51a. [Landscape item used for hiding a spare key?] SHAM ROCK.
- 56a. [Statue of Sitting Bull?] COPY CHIEF. Bleh. It would make more grammatical sense if it was CHIEF COPY, but that’s not a phrase. Although “COPY CHIEF” isn’t much of a phrase outside of what…military communications? I’m not exactly sure where this phrase is coming from.
Hit and miss with the theme, but those ones that missed are real groaners.
Fill highlights include the two 9-stacks in the NW/SE. “GOTCHA” and HOOEY are fun as well. Fill toughies include Portuguese ELA [She, in Lisbon], OPS clued [Harvest goddess], and KERF [Trunk notch], all in that middle west section, making for slow going there. I also struggled in the SW after I had EMPLOY instead of DEPLOY for [Bring into service] and SEA instead of SKY for [Blue shade].
Clues of note:
- 1a. [What the puzzle’s title hints at]. THEME. Putting this clue right at 1a was quite confusing as I thought the answer would be thematic.
- 17a. [Classic Ford]. T-BIRD. A “briefly” here would not have been amiss.
Three stars from me.
Nancy Serrano-Wu’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
The name of the game is booze words that happen to appear at the end of sports phrases, with a “sports bar” in each clue to tie them together in a playful way:
- 20a. [Sports bar purchases?], FANTASY DRAFTS. Draft beers. I think several US sports have fantasy leagues and drafts.
- 33a. [Sports bar purchases?], PENALTY SHOTS. Shots of liquor meet hockey or maybe soccer.
- 41a. [Sports bar purchases?], STAR PITCHERS. Pitchers of beer or, if I may be so bold, sangria. Baseball pitchers.
- 56a. [Sports bar purchases?], TRIPLE DOUBLES. Doubles of hard liquor, basketball stats.
Works for me.
Three more things:
- 9d. [Tang, for one], DYNASTY. Chinese history, not a taste or a powdered drink.
- 11d. [Bee’s knees], CAT’S MEOW. We really need more such phrases. The koala’s nose. The sloth’s eyes.
- 38d. [Wanted for nothing], HAD IT ALL. I encourage you to check out the Twitter account @manwhohasitall, which upends the usual BS piled onto women. Here’s one recent tweet: “WORKING DAD? If you struggle to get your wife to do her share of the housework, why not write a chore list and give her tasks she enjoys?”
Four stars from me.
Emma Oxford and Will Pfadenhauer’s Universal crossword, “Too Much of a Good Thing” — pannonica’s write-up
Nothing too fancy here, ironically.
- 61aR [“So hypocritical,” or a hint to the starred clues’ answers] THAT’S RICH.
- 17a. [*Dessert named for its traditional amount of butter, flour, sugar and eggs] POUND CAKE.
- 27a. [*What Old San Juan has] STORIED PAST.
- 45a. [*Upper class] HIGH SOCIETY.
Points for each of the three entries embodying a distinct sense of the word rich.
- 7d [Sources of wrong answers to age-old questions?] FAKE IDS. Very clever clue. A measure of convolutedness keeps it from being great, but I like the wordplay.
- 59d [ __ the fat (chat)] CHEW. 31d [Go on and on] YAK. 52a [Chihuahua sound] YAP.
- 31a [Throw forcefully, in slang] YEET. Have seen this a few times in crosswords now., more so out in the world. Will it have staying power?
- 53a Rhyming Klondike treat discontinued in 2022] CHOCO TACO. Standard pronunciation caveat: this won’t quite work for everyone.
Solid midweek crossword.
Emma Lawson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Emma Lawson’s puzzle today features a fairly typical LA Times midweek theme concept. ROCKTHEBOAT is the revealer and three encircled parts of answers can be unscrambled to make BOATS: YACHT, BARGE, and CANOE. No ships here!
- [Charitable undertaking that deserves support], WORTHYCAUSE
- [Bit of false modesty], HUMBLEBRAG
- [“Ugh, shut up already”], NOONECARES
- [“Weetzie Bat” series writer Francesca __ Block], LIA. Patti likes to spotlight recent(ish) literary names, this was another not known to me.
- [Temporada con nieve], INVIERNO. Fancy chunk of Espanol! My rudimentary DuoLingo Spanish has learnt INVIERNO and “con nieve” but not “temporada”, though that bit was inferred.
- [“Grace and Frankie” actor Waterston], SAM. I mostly know him from Law & Order. This show sounds kind of interesting though…
- [Makes less wobbly], STEADIES. Just got back from an (online) seminar on vestibular syndrome, so this seems apt.
- [Luck, to Shakespeare], HAP. Not General Arnold today.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Cooking Vessels” — Emily’s write-up
Hope you’re hungry—this puzzle is packed with tasty morsels!
Theme: each food themer contains the word —SHIP— (a vessel)
- 16a. [Fusion food on a fried rice patty], SUSHIPIZZA
- 26a. [Juicy Asian fruit], NASHIPEAR
- 58a. [Instant base for miso soup], DASHIPOWDER
Even the themers are in on the title misdirection today! SUSHIPIZZA originated in Canada in the early ‘90s, which I wouldn’t have guessed. NASHIPEAR is delicious and also known by other names including Japanese, Asian, and apple pear. DASHIPOWDER is a base for Japanese broths. I was looking for “pots” and “pans” then noticed they all shared a —P— and then saw the —SHIP—. All themers are also Japanese, a further commonality for the set.
Favorite fill: MARINADE, SLURP, and DASHIPOWDER
Stumpers: EDIE (needed crossings), RUES (tried “woes” first), and WIE (new to me)
The other food related entries are added fun: PLUMTOMATO, ORZO, BLTS, LEEK, FILET, PALEO, GHEE, MARINADE, SLURP, and MENUS, and FEEDS. The solve was smooth and the grid had excellent flow. A real treat for mi-week!