Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword
I leave it to others to know the scoop on quadruple-stacked 15-letter answers in crosswords. Have Frank Longo and Kevin Der already done the pair of quad stacks? Has Joe Krozel? I couldn’t tell you.
The regular Friday solvers who find Saturday’s puzzle to be too daunting will be gnashing their teeth over this one. They say that even when a themeless puzzle that has visual oomph or breaks a record is insanely tough, Will Shortz will run it on a Friday so more people will see it. Well, those “more people” may have a struggle on their hands. This was a good bit tougher for me than most Saturday puzzles. The rule of thumb that grids with 15-letter answers tend to be easier because getting a single 15 breaks open a whole swath of the puzzle? Well, that doesn’t hold true if not a single one of the 15s is a gimme. Especially if the stack’s short crossings also aren’t obvious. Yow!
Notes on the answers and clues:
- 16a. “I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT“? Yes, that does pretty well encapsulate what one is thinking when the decision is made to not tackle that task just yet.
- 17a. Good gravy! [Last of Nordhoff and Hall's "Bounty Trilogy"] meant absolutely nothing to me. Eventually the crossings brought together PITCAIRN’S ISLAND, and that mutiny-on-the-Bounty business had something to do with Pitcairn Island, right? No idea what the apostrophe-S is doing in the title, though.
- 18a. SATELLITE STATES—super-boring letters but an interesting phrase.
- 23a. Anyone else have WITCH’S HAT before WIZARD HAT? See, this is where 17a’s apostrophe-S wanted to be.
- 39a. A WINE GLASS is a [Port terminal?], the place you pour your bottle of fortified wine.
- 43a. CTNS are cartons, as in cigarette cartons that hold a lot of packs, or “pks.” I was trying to decide between “parks” and the blah “peaks” for what “pks.” stood for.
- 46a. Oh! Should’ve guessed this one sooner. AFRICAN-AMERICAN is a [Term popularized by Jesse Jackson].
- 55a. Know why one has A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE? Because one keeps saying I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT.
- 57a. Another ONE’S phrase in the same stack? Not so hot.
- 4d. No hint in the clue of ENCEINTE‘s Frenchness.
- 6d. Partial A FILE has friends at 28d: THE X and 53d: A TIE. And 51d: ME ON.
- 7d. GERI Jewell just wrote her memoirs. Not only was she the only disabled actor on Facts of Life, but she’s a lesbian. Go figure—the actress who played tomboy Jo is straight.
- 14d. [Point of eating?], TINE of a fork. My first answer in the grid, and boy, it really didn’t unlock those crossing 15s for me.
- 15d. [Regular things: Abbr.] are STDS, because the clap is pretty ordinary. (And “standards” can also be abbreviated as STDS.)
- 25d. [Depth finder?] is a cool clue for the Z-AXIS. When I had the T from WITCH up there, I sure didn’t know how to complete 37a (DEI).
- 45d. MESNE is one of those legal terms that isn’t a friendly crossword answer for non-lawyers.
- Less savory short fill includes, -ILE, EPH., DEI, CTNS, MEA, ADIA, STDS, HEARN (who?), APSOS, and AAHS.
Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Memoirs”
Pancho has crafted a light and entertaining literary pun theme, slightly changing the sound of a famous novel title to transform it into some make-believe person’s memoirs. Where this theme excels is in the puns themselves: rather than having a mixed bag of sound changes, six of the seven change a single consonant sound and one merely changes the spelling. Pun themes that include both consonant and vowel changes in no distinct pattern can drive me nuts. So I say “Well played, Pancho!” Here are the theme entries:
- 23a. [Memoirs of a film noir director?] clues ART OF DARKNESS (Heart of Darkness). He’s not the first to use this phrase, but I don’t think it’s been presented as the memoirs of a fictitious noir moviemaker before.
- 29a. [Memoirs of a sadistic cleaning lady?] clues GRIME AND PUNISHMENT (Crime and Punishment). Cute! I did hours of spring cleaning today because I don’t want to anger the new cleaning lady. Safety first!
- 48a. [Memoirs of a hockey legend (with "The")?] are LORD OF THE RINKS (The Lord of the Rings trilogy). I’m glad there was no ORR or ESPO wedged into this one. This is the sort of pun that hockey sportswriters have also figured out.
- 66a. [Memoirs of a relaxed fly fisherman?] clues AS I LAY TYING (As I Lay Dying). This pun’s got almost no Google footprint at all, except for a disgruntled young necktie fan trapped in a casual workplace. Perhaps there’s something about Faulkner that repels punning?
- 87a. [Memoirs of a sponging farm worker (with "The")?] clues CADGER IN THE RYE (Catcher in the Rye). I ws mentally trapped beneath the sea where sponges are harvested, having recently seen that done on Dirty Jobs. Oh, mooching sponging, not sponge sponging.
- 100a. [Memoirs of a harbor master?] is the bitter-tinged PORT NOISE COMPLAINT (Portnoy’s Complaint). This is the one without much of a sound change at all.
- 114a. [Memoirs of an angry French chef (with "The")?] clues CREPES OF WRATH. You ruin this pun if you go all Gallic and pronounce it “creps.”
While a “with ‘The’” tag isn’t wonderful, I appreciate the consistency in always dropping “The” from the theme entry.
Terrific-looking grid, too—I like the eight zones filled with 6- and 7-letter answers. The EMBARGO/VALIANT/ALUMNUS and ALLEGRO/LEAGUES/LE MONDE corners are particularly lovely. Oh! And their 10-letter crossing answers, BLUE HAWAII and SMOKING GUN—those are both fantastic entries.
Nina Rulon-Miller’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Spokeswomen”
Super-easy puzzle for 35a: [Women's History month], MARCH, no? (Or maybe it just felt easy because there are a lot of proper nouns, and those fall quickly for me.) The other four theme entries are the names of the noted women responsible for the quotes in the clues:
- 20a. [She said, “[A] woman must do the same job better than a man to get as much credit for it”]—AMELIA EARHART.
- 27a. [She said, “Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case”]—SONIA SOTOMAYOR.
- 43a. [She said, “Ain’t I a woman?”]—SOJOURNER TRUTH.
- 51a. [She said, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”]—VIRGINIA WOOLF.
I appreciate the diversity: three Americans—an early-20th-century white aviator, 21st-century Latina Supreme Court justice, and 19th-century black abolitionist and women’s rights activist—and an early-20th-century British novelist.
Five more clues:
- 38d. [One who’s at home in Germany?] is a HAUSFRAU, which is German for “housewife,” a woman who provides unpaid labor in the home.
- 45d. And 38d will JUGGLE a lot of responsibilities, or [Handle, as various tasks].
- 44d. [Inner Party member in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”] is O’BRIEN.
- 5d. [Fish plates] clues the fish’s SCALES, not a fancy plate for serving fish.
- 15a. To CAVIL is to [Nitpick incessantly]. Do you know anyone who does that?
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Family Figure Heads”—Janie’s review
This is vintage Klahn with so very much to appreciate in it, so let me get right to it. Once again we have an “addition” gimmick. Dons head up many Italian families and Bob has added DON to the start (“head”) of three very familiar words and phrases. The results are fresh, unexpected and funny. It’s there as a combining unit—not a word/name on its own. And oh, boy, does it combine. And re-combine. In all cases, DON +
- 20A. derailment = DONDER AILMENT [What kept Santa from setting out with his full team?]. Sweet, eh? And look at the nice company Bob has given Donder as he recuperates. It’s a visit from his cousin, the HART [He's a deer] and even [John Deere's deer, for one] LOGO. (These last two entries are clued sequentially, btw. But don’t forget to notice how, in the SW corner, logo sits atop the rhyming POGO ["We have met the enemy and he is us" speaker].)
- 35A. keypad = DONKEY PAD [Place for a party animal to crash?]. Think Democratic party here… Then look at the clue for 34-Across: [Hinny or ninny]. That gives us ASS, which is also another word for donkey—this time of the four-legged variety.
- 57A. taskmaster = DON’T ASK, MASTER [Genie's caution about a possible fourth wish?]. In the words of Molly Shannon as joyologist Helen Madden, “I LOVE IT!” ["This is great!"]. See what I mean about the unexpected re-combinations? There’s a minimum of theme fill today (only 35 squares), but it packs in plenty and couldn’t be improved upon. Imoo… Oh—and how wonderful that 1-Down brings us ALADDIN [Legendary rubber] (of the lamp… with the genie…). Nice when it all comes together like that.
Then there’s the non-theme fill (and cluing). And the grid with its triple 7-columns NW and SE. Plus lots of long fill throughout. Starting with some fave fill, there’s:
- FIELD DAY [Picnic, informally]. Different use of the colorful term, but do elementary schools still sponsor field days for intra- and intermural sports?
- WENT APE [Popped one's cork]
- GOOD EGG [Decent chap]
- VOODOO [Island magic]
- STARTLE [Shake up]
Then, starting with some fave clues (and trust me, there’s nuthin’ second-rate about the fill either):
- [Also-ran's demand at times] RECOUNT. Ouch.
- [Mythical meltdown victim] ICARUS. Ouch again.
- ["Fruit salad" of the uniform variety] MEDALS. This is a beaut. Great new slang (for me) and nice, misleading use of “uniform.”
- [Produce produce] FARM (the sequence here is verb, noun).
- The repeat word pair of [Snatch, so to speak] and [Snatcher's cry] for KIDNAP and “I GOTCHA!” (But I don’t wanna think about the scenario these suggest…)
- [Dada papa] for Jean ARP.
- ["Captain Underpants" creator Pilkey] DAV. Captain Underpants?!?! Yup. No fruit salad on his chest…
- [Cheap shot?] BBS.
- [A lot to live on] ACRE (that’s “lot” as in “piece of land”).
- [He had a hunch about the lab] IGOR (as in “Walk this way“…)
- [The dish's running mate?] SPOON (“…and the dish ran away with the spoon“).
- The sleep-pattern sequential pair, [Sacked out] and [Get out of the sack] for ABED and ARISE.
Matt Matera’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Today’s puzzle took me longer than most Saturday LATs to unravel. Was it tough for everyone, or was I just solving past my bedtime last night? The theme is puns incorporating breakfast pastries, and I kept waiting for Pop-Tarts and Eggos to appear but they steadfastly refused. Here are the theme answers:
- 20a. [Halloween breakfast pastry?] turns a creepy crawler into a CREEPY CRULLER. A cruller is a kind of donut. We’ve got a vowel-sound change here.
- 33a. [Lone breakfast pastry?] plays a CRUMPET SOLO (trumpet solo). Consonant change.
- 42a. [Cherished breakfast pastry?] turns “the one I love” into THE BUN I LOVE. I tend to think of buns as bread rolls first, cinnamon buns second. Consonant addition this time.
- 56a. [Ones hooked on breakfast pastry?] are THE SCONEHEADS, who apparently are “hooked” the same way potheads and cokeheads are (playing on SNL’s Coneheads). Another consonant change/addition.
As I was saying in my Wall Street Journal write-up, I do find it more satisfying when a set of puns are formed with the same type of sound change for each one. I know this isn’t an issue for many people. Maybe I’m the only one?
Tough spots—mainly clues that slowed me down:
- 4a. [You might need to watch yours] clues your STEP.
- 16a. A FAKE I.D.? [It may involve an exaggerated age]. It’s been so long since I thought of exaggerating an age upwards.
- 48a. [Got for nothing] clues SPONGED.
- 1d. A MARCH can be an [Orderly movement].
- 6d. I don’t know why [Boarding pass generator] is giving agency to an E-TICKET. You generate the boarding pass, or the airline worker does, or the website and printer, or the kiosk. The E-ticket isn’t doing a dang thing.
- 29d. If you have [Cross words] with someone, you’re having a SPAT.
- 31d. [Big gun or big cheese] is an example of SLANG.
- 34d. [Clinton Treasury secretary] was Robert RUBIN. Not Robert Reich. I always get those two mixed up.
Don’t think I’m complaining here. I appreciate challenging clues. I was just surprised to find so many in a Friday LAT.
Loveliest entries: DERRING-DO and UNSCATHED.