“THEMELESS 33” by Andy Kravis: Cruciverbalist at Law
You know I love a good themeless, and this is a good themeless. Solve away, then read to the end because there is a treat!!
Prepares for laundry day, say] (12D): split screen of Andy as he PRESORTS and me as I call in FEMA; “no time for triage, just do it!” I hate laundry…
…But I sure liked this puzzle! For me it was just-tough-enough to be a pleasant lope, rather than stroll, around the grid. [One way to serve trout] (10D), you mean one *fantastic* way to serve trout? AMANDINE. [Like some forms of meningitis] (23A), you mean some *shitty* forms of meningitis? FUNGAL (shitty because the fungi typically responsible are found in bird and bat droppings). Boom– you’ve already got two of my favorite topics covered: French cuisine and diseases.
My brain reacted to THE FORCE AWAKENS (31A) [2015 release that became the first film to make over $100 million in a single day, familiarly] like it would to a pop-up ad– just kinda blanked it out a little. Everything is so hyper-Star Warsy right now, and I’m not really whipped up in that fervor, so, like a hairpin scratch on the cornea, my brain eventually learned to ignore it. Nothing wrong with that marquee tho, it’s obviously topical as hell. The “adblock instinct” in puzzles is interesting to me– the supersonic up-to-dateness that indie puzzles are capable of providing can definitely trigger it.
Anyway, I’m personally much more excited by seeing THE THING (31D) [1982 John Carpenter sci-fi flick].
Cute cross with NAUGHTIER (26A) [Less likely to be visited by Santa] and NICEST (26D) [Most likely to be visited by Santa]. I like “silent” crossreferences much better than all that “See X-Across” or “X-Down, for one;” the less fraught, the better. This little guy is not fraught.
Sooo everyone got the meta, right? OOH (40D) [[Eyes widen], verbally]! My eyes widened as I said “OO!” six more times while solving: COOP UP, SPOOL, STOOL, EGO BOOSTS, KOOKIEST and OOMPH. It sounded like someone was poking me! I loved it.
I didn’t love YEARN TO (37A) [Would, with a burning desire] for a couple reasons. If I’m going to get all “no. wire. hangers. EVEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” on dupes, then I guess STAND TO (24A) would be an issue (but I honestly don’t care, and mainly wanted to imagine a “Mommy Dearest” clip but me yelling at a crossword constructor). My real objection is that I hear “I would” with a “BUT” after it, and YEARN TO indicates a, uh, real YEN. Wistfulness, not reluctance.
**WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM TO BRING YOU A SPECIAL PODCAST**
Imagine my surprise when, midway through writing this very post, I checked my Sporpsmail (today is an e.a. wednesday) and heard from Erik that Erik is EMITTING an AURAL cruciverstravaganza, and that he covered this very puzzle with the wonderful Peter Broda.