Knuckleballer Wilhelm / WED 7-29-15 / Russell of "Black Widow" / More than half of Israel / Breath mint in a tin / It lacks depth
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Constructor: David J. Lieb
Relative difficulty: Smooth sailing
THEME: "DOUBLE DOUBLE" — Each of the theme answers is a two-word phrase (or compound word) where both words (or parts of the word) can be preceded by the word "double" to make a new phrase
Word of the Day: SPOOKY (34D: Like a haunted house) —
• • •Andy Kravis here, filling in for Rex. Today, David J. Lieb messed* around and got a DOUBLE DOUBLE (65A: Statistical achievement in basketball ... or what the answer to each starred clue is).
There are some naughty words in this video. You have been warned.
In basketball, a double-double is achieving a double-digit number in two positive statistical categories (two of, in order of frequency: points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocked shots). You can't get a double-double in turnovers and number of terrible teammates, but if you could, James Harden would've been NBA MVP last year.
In this puzzle, though, a DOUBLE DOUBLE is a phrase where both words can be preceded by the word DOUBLE to make two entirely different phrases.
- STANDARD TIME (18A: *It's divided into four zones in the contiguous U.S. states). DOUBLE STANDARD and DOUBLE TIME. Is it just me, or is "U.S. states" a weird construction? Maybe this was just a typo in the online version, and the print edition says something different.
- TAKEOVER (27A: *Coup d'état, e.g.). DOUBLE TAKE and DOUBLE OVER.
- CROSSTALK (33A: *Incidental chatter). DOUBLE CROSS and DOUBLE-TALK (which according to whatever dictionary Google uses, is "deliberately unintelligible speech combining nonsense syllables and actual words." You might know it better as doublespeak.)
- PLAYBILLS (47A: *Handouts to theatergoers). DOUBLE PLAY and DOUBLE BILLS (I had no idea what "double bills" were. It turns out to be a synonym for "double features." Maybe it's a regional/generational thing, but I've never heard the phrase "double bill" before.)
- BACKDATE (53A: *Make retroactive). DOUBLE BACK and DOUBLE DATE.
Given how densely packed this grid was with theme content, the surrounding fill wasn't bad. As in most puzzles, there was some stuff I didn't love: 'UNS, AN OUT, ESTAB., ELLS crossing ESSES. But mostly the fill was reasonable for a Wednesday, and there were a few nice long answers (notably COATROOMS and GOLDEN BOY, but also NOOGIE, SPOOKY, CAJUN, STIGMA, CAR WASH, and "I'M SOLD"). Also, ALTOID singular!
- 42A: HOYT (Knuckleballer Wilhelm) — Hoyt Wilhelm (not the order you thought those names were gonna go, huh?) was an MLB pitcher in the 1950s and 1960s, most notably with the World Series-winning 1954 New York Baseball Giants. In 1985, Wilhelm became the first relief pitcher to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- 57A: THERESA (Russell of "Black Widow") — "Black Widow" is one of these late '80s/early '90s films with a femme fatale (see also "Fatal Attraction," "Basic Instinct," "Damage," "The Last Seduction," etc.). In this one, Theresa Russell plays a woman who kills a bunch of wealthy middle-aged white dudes for who-knows-what-reason, and Debra Winger's character has to try to bring her to justice.
- 12D: NEGEV (More than half of Israel) — The Negev is a desert that covers most of southern Israel. Now you know.
- 56D: EUBIE (Ragtime pianist) — A true master.
In conclusion: nice puzzle, good job.
Now, I'd like to bring your attention to a couple of excellent crossword-related items:
1) If you're here, you love crosswords. And if you love crosswords, you will love Lollapuzzoola 8: Lollapuzzocho, an upcoming crossword tournament in NYC. It's on August 8th (that's a Saturday in August), and it is absolutely not too late to sign up! It is always the most fun, and the lineup of constructors is terrific (Do the names Anna Shechtman, Mike Nothnagel, Doug Peterson, joon pahk, Patrick Blindauer, and Kevin G. Der do anything for you? Of course they do). Feel free to bring a friend. If you can't make it to the live tournament, you can still sign up for the At-Home Division to get the puzzles by PDF shortly after the tournament ends.
2) Friend and frequent collaborator Victor Barocas has just launched an awesome project on Kickstarter!
Ada Cross, Crossword Detective will be a series of murder mysteries featuring a detective (Ada) and her colleagues. You'll solve a series of meta-crosswords along with Ada to solve murders. In addition to the text and the puzzles, the stories will have illustrations by Hayley Gold, who writes the Across and Down webcomic.
You can read more about (and back) the project on this Kickstarter page. If you like crosswords (and especially if you like metas), you will like this.
*If you're reading this, Ice Cube, I'm sorry I messed around with your artistic integrity. In spite of the fact that it's a modern classic, "Today Was A Good Day" falls a little below the breakfast Mendoza line.