It’s THEMELESS 40 for Glutton. You could solve it here, or just ruin all the fun for yourself by reading on.
Welcome to Erik’s latest themeless! His puzzles tend to include names not seen in mainstream crosswords, refreshingly skewing towards women and POC. While this one was no different, I was able to work out the ones I didn’t know through their crossings (unlike last week).
My solving process tends to be pretty vanilla — start at the NW corner, go through the Across clues, then after I get to the SE I go through the Downs. 1d. caught my eye and fell first this time, however, thanks to its longer clue and my initial disbelief that my answer was correct. There are a bunch of crossword-friendly birds (NENE, IBIS, EMU, DODO), and ROC might be the crosswordiest of them all, as it’s not a real bird. Pluralize it, and it’s even worse. Clue it in a fresh way, however, such as [Mythical birds that would definitely beat scissors and paper], and I’m chortling enough to let ROCS slide this time.
After ROCS, it took a while to get a foothold — IDINA, HPS, KRALL went in pretty quickly, as did the surname of NONA GAYE [“Ali” actress (and, yes, daughter of Marvin)], but no real progress in a particular corner. Once I got POPFLY, I was able to make headway in the east with FRITES and eventually FLAG FOOTBALL, although ALTPORN in this section was one of my last entries overall. Filling the grid involved a lot of jumping around, finally ending with OZONA, TEXAS, which is apparently the “Biggest Little Town in the World.”
Several names and terms are new to me (or at least not heard in some time) here: the previously mentioned NONA GAYE and ALTPORN, as well as the terms LOW FANTASY and Pax SYRIANA and actors RUDY Youngblood and ROWAN Blanchard. More familiar celebrities make their appearance, too. Beyoncè got a lot of play in this grid, with her Queen BEY clue and a reference to “Single Ladies,” PUT A RING ON IT [Emulate 2008 Jay Z]. I’m guessing it’s too late for Weird Al to put out a parody titled “KRAFT Single Ladies”…nah, that would probably be too cheesy, even for him.
There wasn’t much that bothered me fill-wise. The partials I’M A, BE OR, and WALK A aren’t great, and UTERI is a word that is technically a word, but really isn’t used ever. CLOTHINGS as a plural, even when referred to as the act of putting on garments, isn’t used either, but Erik makes up for it a bit with the clever clue [Acts of pulling on threads?].
As mentioned above with ROCS, Erik has the ability to make the solver forgive some subpar fill with his brilliant clue writing skills (for example, NOMA as [D.C. nabe whose name is derived similarly to that of SoHo, but with the opposite direction, and instead of Houston Street it’s… somethingssachusetts Avenue], and he gets shiny fill to sparkle even more. There were some other great longer clues, such as [Sport in which it usually doesn’t hurt to pull something?] for FLAG FOOTBALL. The short clues are what really stand out, though, and he has a several of them here. Personal favorites include [Sweetheart at a party?] for PINATA, [Rook’s castle?] for NEST, and [Cristal light?] for LUZ.
That’s it for now, because I DON’T REALLY CARE anymore. PSYCH! (Actually, as I went though my teen years in the 90s, it was embarrassing how long it took to figure out what [*holds hands palms-out at 45- degree angles with index fingers extended and thumbs overlapping*] represented.)