Howdy y’all and welcome back to another weekly edition of Respectable Tournament Times with Angela and Will!
W: We’ve been tackling Thursday puzzles for our write-ups thus far, but – thanks to some scheduling changes – we decided to take on a Friday. Which was a lil bit nerve-wracking, if I must say. We tried our hand at a Friday puzzle three weeks ago and weren’t even able to finish it, much less make a video or blog post on the debacle. Fortunately for us (and maybe, you!) – we actually kinda killed it this time around? Our time was a clean 16:57, which is good for our second best Friday time ever (confetti falls from ceiling, champagne pops, hell yea).
A: Heck yes!! Sometimes we’ll start puzzles super fast, and get stalled out in a few minutes, sometimes we’ll get halfway through and trip up over the theme, but this time, we just steadily filled out the puzzle at a nice clip. Maybe the puzzle featured less esoteric old movies or groan-inducing puns than usual. In any case, both Will and I were on fire in this puzzle. We started out by combing through the clues for fill-in-the-blanks and trivia we knew, like Boba FETT from Star Wars, or AMAS for “Reddit Q&A sessions”: basically, things we knew would have a high chance of being right without much additional context. Once we got those and boosted our confidence a bit, we were ready to start on the lengthy phrases in the themeless Friday puzzle!
W: So it seems to me that Friday grids typically feature super-long answers, usually in their top and bottom sectors. Cracking those quickly can then often be the key to a fast time – as they give you helpful hints to their respective crossing answers. That process was at play here – as we immediately got producer extraordinaire DANGER MOUSE (whose work on the new Parquet Courts record is fantastic), as well as HUNT AND PECK – although that one took a timely Angela correction from my original CHICKEN PECK. Which I still maintain is a thing! At least that’s what my parents called it when making fun of my typing style in middle school…. Also – check out our video recap for exciting bonus content like our attempts at playing chicken peck charades! Fun!
A: So Will’s chicken impression in the video is a lot more aggressive than mine. I think he’d get most of the corn and I’d just walk around wondering where the corn was. But maybe he’d be the first to fatten up and be taken to the ROTISSERIE. Wow, sorry. That was morbid. This is what happens when I’m putting together my thoughts for our crossword recap when I’m hungry. Also on the topic of food, I was excited about getting SWISS CHARD, which is a great vegetable that my Asian parents fed me a lot of as a child. It definitely promoted strong bone growth or something like that. I feel like it was probably a vegetable that made me a very non-picky eater and promoted healthy habits later in life. Saute your own and enjoy good health.
W: After the big clues fell into place, it was just a matter of speeding through the rest of the fill. Almost all of which came refreshingly quick for us. Outside of maybe SHTETL and SEER there wasn’t too much crossword-ese, or for the uninitiated, words that appear with great – sometimes comical – frequency in grids. And I gotta give props for the amazing SEER clue – that answer is truly an inspiration for so many great, terrible puns. Any clues that stuck out for you, Angela?
A: I was very excited to get BABE RUTH before Will did, which is going to be the first and last time I get a baseball clue before he does. To be fair, we had AL CAPONE there first as an answer to “Member of the 1920s Murderers’ Row” (he did murder a lot of people in the 1920s, after all), and realized it was wrong once we got the HUNT AND PECK clue. But Will was still thinking about the Mafia, and I used his distraction to get the clue! On the other hand, I was super impressed by Will’s knowledge of another thing that happened in the 1920s – Helen KELLER being a founding member of the ACLU! This was quickly addressed with Will telling me that the only reason he knew this was because of crosswords. See, you can learn trivia from doing crosswords.
W: I had a couple of cool flashback moments in this grid. First being, 27-down about the Mazurka, a dance form that I briefly studied in a music class with the awesome Prof. Zbikowski last winter. In particular, we discussed Villa-Lobos’ Mazurka-Choro and the Mazurka’s use of TRIPLE TIME, which came in handy here. After that, I got a smile from the 55 across clue – “Brilliant!” – as it reminded me of the ridiculous, old Guinness ads that used to run constantly on ESPN in my childhood. If that’s not familiar to ya, please educate / culture yourselves and watch these GENIUS – err – Brilliant! videos.
A: Speaking of being educated/cultured, I had absolutely no idea that writer Nora Ephron had a younger sister named DELIA Ephron, who is equally impressive. So for a while I had NORAH Ephron in our crossword since I was sure that it was she who was a writer and maybe I just had her name wrong in my mind. Nope, I was wrong on multiple fronts. I’m dutifully adding Delia Ephron books to my Goodreads. I’m also adding Parenthood to my Netflix queue, based on not knowing who DAX Shepard was (and also a recommendation from a friend to watch the show!). See, we millennials don’t just watch/read/consume things; we use technology to keep track of all those things. Are we electronically keeping score? Or have platforms simply made it easier to quantify our developing interests? I sense an op-ed in its nascence.
W: Other than those clues, I was thrilled to see HONEY HONEY continue the inexorable march of the ABBA-ssance, a term which you can watch me excitedly define in our video above (pls watch our videoooos pls pls pls). And yea – I’d say that was a very fun, clean puzzle. No issues that I can think of, just a breezy, enjoyable solve. Props to you, John Guzzetta!
A: Huzzah for the puzzle, John Guzzetta! Building up our morale in our solving skills through an accomplishable Friday. You’re truly making a difference in this cold, harsh world of seemingly-impossible end-of-week crossword puzzles. Ok, so that’s just our current non-respectability – but one day, all Fridays will feel like that Friday, one day!
— Will and Angela