Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Headers”—Jim’s review
Theme answers turn downward from palindromic Across answers. Thus, theme answers are “double-headed” and form a T-shape. The two-part revealer is START FROM / BOTH SIDES (17a, [With 58-Across, what four Down answers in this puzzle do]).
- 6d [Hiccup]. (MI) NOR SETBACK with 4a MINIM.
- 11d [Advocated]. (MA)DE A CASE FOR with 9a MADAM.
- 30d [Event that calls for special glasses]. (SO)LAR ECLIPSE with 28a SOLOS.
- 32d [Timid]. (TE)NDER-FOOTED with 31a TENET.
Nifty theme which I couldn’t suss out until the third entry when I got to enjoy a pleasant aha moment. Not complicated once you get it, but it’s a question of how long it takes you to get it. How did it treat you?
I liked seeing SALIERI [Major role in “Amadeus”] (a role played wonderfully by F. Murray Abraham) as well as OCARINA (due to my fondness for all things Legend of Zelda). Also good: RIBALD and CANASTA which evokes Nasty CANASTA of Looney Tunes fame.
I’ve heard of Tupelo, Mississippi, but didn’t know TUPELOS were [Trees in Southern swamps]. Least favorite entry goes to MATLESS [Like an unwelcoming entrance, maybe] which I stared at for several seconds after finishing the grid because I could make no sense of it. It took that long for the light bulb to come on, and needless to say, that wasn’t as pleasant an aha moment.
Clues of note:
- 46a. [French aviator Garros]. ROLAND. With a nod to Ade’s “Sports will make you smarter” shtick, I’m glad for all those times I watched the French Open.
- 62a. [Low number for an ace]. ERA. Similarly, making the connection to baseball here should’ve helped you come up with this one. Fortunately for me, I filled this in with the crossings. because I don’t know that I would’ve caught on in a timely manner.
- 8d. [Distracted Boyfriend, e.g.]. MEME. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but that’s this one.
Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Easy (12m02s)
Today’s theme: Evel Knievel
- LIVING ON THE EDGE
- DARE DEVIL
- GET OVER IT
- COLUM(BUS), RE(BUS), SYLLA(BUS)
This is one of those instances where the website/app’s ability to animate the little DARE DEVIL — and transmogrify the all the (BUS)es into automotive icons — really put a smile on my face. The last time I remember that happening was Jonathan Kaye’s Double Helix Puzzle back in 2018.
As for the puzzle itself, I whooshed all over the place save for the upper right section, where I spent several minutes trying to fight through STORE ADS and WIVED and the pun-ishing clue on DISAGREES (“Is a no-body”).. otherwise I might have been close to a Thursday PR.
Knievel jumped those 14 Greyhounds in 1975, by the way, setting the stage for The Simpsons to parody the feat 15 years later, in S1E08 (“Bart the DARE DEVIL“). Other pop culture references to the stunt exist as well, but this is the one that sticks with my demographic.
Cracking: SAME LOVE, same as above
Slacking: AUTOPSY, okay, there’s nothing wrong with that sequence-of-letters-as-fill, but it’s a buzzkill (ironically enough, because it’s also the buzzzzz that follows the kill.. see? Do you feel good about that joke?)
Sidetracking: not sidetracking at all. To quote Warner Wolf, let’s go to the video tape!
David P. Williams’s Fireball Crossword, “Medium Stretch” – Jenni’s write-up
It took me a while to figure out what was going on. I knew there were answers that were too long to fit into the space alloted. I was about halfway through when the penny dropped.
Each theme answer has a M that is stretched (see the title) into its components: I V I. The crossings use the M. So we have:
- 17a [Only some enjoy them] is PRMLEGES for PRIVILEGES.
- 27a [King, e.g.] is CML RIGHTS ACTMST for CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST.
- 47a [It offers no resistance] is SUPERCONDUCTMTY for SUPERCONDUCTIVITY. Physics folks: is that accurate? Or is it very low resistance?
- 63a [Famous summary of military success] is VENMDMCI for VENI VIDI VICI.
I really liked this! It was a very satisfying “aha!” moment. All the theme answers are solid and I like the multiple IVI strings in two of them. Fun!
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I thought I’d never heard of REO, who apparently designed the M35 (“Deuce and a Half”). The M35 turns about to be a 2.5 ton military cargo truck and REO is the car company. I have heard of them.
David Alfred Bywaters’s Universal crossword, “It Is Indeed” — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: “It is in deed” – the first word of each theme answer starts with DE and ends with ED to make wacky phrases. Remove these letters, and you get a normal phrase. Thus, the word is literally in “deed”. It makes more sense with examples….
- 17a [Abhorred cross-country event?] – DETESTED RUN
- 23a [Distracted the hen at a crucial moment?] – DELAYED AN EGG
- 38a [Part of a photorealistic bird drawing?] – DETAILED FEATHER
- 52a [Listed an adhesive product as a work-related expense?] – DEDUCTED TAPE
- 63a [Transit annoyance?] – DETOURED BUS
There are some puzzles/themes that are titled at the last minute, and then there are some where the title is the puzzle’s whole being. This is one of the latter cases, and I like it! Having the “reveal” as the title allows there to be five theme answers, and they all shine. It’s nice how the DE-ED changes the meaning of the word each time. As someone without a car, DETOURED BUS was my favorite answer… even if it’s a little too real.
Fill highlights: OPOSSUM, CRUDDY, HEAT UP
Clue highlights: I love the non sequitur vibes of [Sensitive … or a piece of chicken] for TENDER.
New to me: [Cholesterol-reducing drugs] for STATINS
Bruce Venske’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Bruce Venske’s puzzle theme is a central fifteen, PICKEDUPTHEPACE, and an 8×4 word ladder, SLOW>FAST. The problem with word ladders is, you’ve seen one you’ve seen most of them, and your theme answers are mostly short plain answers, requiring the rest of the puzzle to do with razzle dazzle.
CLUSTERING and OPINIONATED are among the longer answers, both one-word and inflected. Their counterparts were TOUCHSCREEN and CLEANSLATE, but I found the puzzle rather unengaging.