It’s a puzzle! Solve it! Then read about it!
It’s strange seeing a standard 15×15 grid from Erik, but that’s what we have this week. As usual, there are some zippy long entries, especially HARD KNOCK LIFE, MEMENTO MORI, and THANKS OBAMA. The SE corner has some great cluing as well, with [Hand-to-hand combat?] for DRAW POKER right above [Exceed the legal limit?] for COME OF AGE.
This puzzle was a DNF for me, though, given the sheer number of proper nouns. ETHEL Waters, DAN Le Batard, BENJAMIN BRATT, ADINA Howard, Zoe SALDANA, ŽJELKO Ivanek…about half the names were new to me, and the ASSEZ / ŽJELKO crossing did me in. The NE corner was particularly hard for me, as I kept trying to spell ETHEL with a Y, and I couldn’t make a choice between SUPRA and SUPER for the -national prefix.
On the plus side, we have some beautifully clever cluing. I love the acting spin of [Extra space] for SET, the beertacular [Run around the yard?] for SLOSH, [Negative charges] for FINES, [Wheel of Fortune game] for TAROT, and [Seal team?] for HAREM.
In general, I love the cluing and a lot of the long fill. The short fill is fine, too, but the abundance of names kept it from being a great solve for me. At the same time, I appreciate learning about new people and shows/movies/music to check out, so it’s a win from that standpoint.
Until next week!