I've thought of each of the first three people in the "aptly-named" sense. Who hasn't grinned at a world-class sprinter being named BOLT?
I'm not a baseball guy, but I've heard of PRINCE FIELDER. He's fulfilled half of his destiny, as a star first-baseman FIELDER. Still has a couple of decades to marry into the royal family.
TIM DUNCAN … he's the only person whose name required punnization. It's doubly strange, since he was known for his old-school fundamentals, not his dunking.
If only Rik Smits and Tim Duncan had gotten married.
Excellent efforts to add in a bunch of bonuses for the solvers not into sportsball. Smart to work in four long slots, and LEG RESTS plus PLUS ONES are fantastic. TWINKLES is evocative too.
Short fill wasn't PRISTINE, but it mostly stopped at ESTOP. And there was so much to love in the mid-length fill — HELP ME, SIP TEA, SNOTTY, ZIPS IT.
I loved a book where Asian tiger parents named their kid Stanford. There's anecdotal information that suggests that apt names steer kids to appropriate careers, too. We'll see what my daughter, Tess Engineer Doctor Professor Chen, becomes.
LOOSEY-GOOSEY and NOT TOO SHABBY, what great ways to anchor a themeless! Such fun to say each phrase.
A few months ago, our daughter had a playdate. After we dropped her off, Jill suggested taking our son to get ice cream. He squealed with delight as I groaned, whispering that there would be hell to pay. Jill's logic was that they both get to do something fun, so that should be fair, right?
Twenty years later, our VERMONSTER daughter will be ranting to her therapist about how unfair that decision was.
So much of Friday themelesses are about personal connection, and I loved SPACEBALLS. Ludicrous speed, go!
I can already see gen alpha folks tweeting the Ok, Boomer meme.
Aside from the usual suspects editors list on their spec sheets (ELL, OMB, MGMT, ORL, ORO), the one entry I cocked my head at was TURN EVIL. I suppose it's a thing, but it feels on par with BECOME HAPPY or GROW SNOOTY. Thankfully, an evil genius of a clue saved the day. "Stopped working for (the forces of) good" made me become happy!
I enjoy entries like BACKRONYM, although the clue could have done a better job at generating an a-ha moment. "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response," if I may be so bold—
AMBER ALERT, BAD PUNSTER ON THE LOOSE!
It's enough to make you turn evil.
When our kids were younger, Jill and I sang various songs from Jesus Christ SUPERSTAR to them at bedtime. Why? DON'T OVERTHINK IT; the catchy melodies and lyrics simply made it something fun to sing.
Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that Tess calls Jake "Judas."
Some will wonder, aren't SUPERSTAR and STARDOM egregious dupes? Short answer is no. Will Shortz calls this a "quasi-dupe," where the word STAR is part of other phrases, and he doesn't care that much about quasi-dupes. However, he generally won't allow the offender by itself — in this case, STAR and SUPERSTAR would be a no-no.
That might seem arbitrary, but all "dupe rules" are arbitrary. Some solvers have complained to me about things like MOVIESTAR crossing START ME UP. This seems ludicrous, as there's no shared etymology. People feel how they feel, though. So much of crosswording is subjective.
Having a third star in ONSTAR should be grounds for a revision, but then again, this isn't the first time Will has let this sort of thing slide. Only a few solvers kvetched to me about the three BASEs; I imagine it'll be the same today.
DON'T OVERTHINK IT is right.
I enjoyed much of Joseph's mid-length material, rarely an easy task to squeeze a ton of juice out of these slots. ODD DUCK features the interesting triple D, Jake wants to be Optimus Prime of the AUTOBOTs when he grows up (Tess is his Megatron), and YALE LAW / RAGTOPS are both sparkly entries.
If it hadn't been for his picture, I'd have guessed Joseph was much older, what with MAKE LOVE NOT WAR and CASSETTE PLAYER, but it's neat to see younger folks embracing interests of different generations. I wasn't as keen as all the EINS ESTE HWYS ICI glue required to hold the longer material together, but there was enough color here and there to make it a worthwhile solve.
Six out of six for the long answers forming the grid skeleton!
ELEVATOR PITCH is one of my favorite coinages from the business world. Entrepreneurs are highly encouraged to come up with a memorable way to pitch their company in 30 seconds — the time you might get if you happen to share an elevator ride with a venture capitalist. Such a descriptive term.
THE WAR ON DRUGS is equally evocative, especially with its eye-opening clue. All that money poured into such a waste of time and effort …
(Easy to be high and mighty in pro-cannabis Seattle.)
TURDUCKEN always makes me laugh/cry. A chicken stuffed into a duck, stuffed into a turkey = American excess in a nutshell. Or in this case, a turkey skin. Amazing clue, too, "lots of stuffing," indeed.
I could have used more clever fun injected into the clues for RENEWABLE ENERGY and THAT HITS THE SPOT, but they're both excellent grid entries.
I paused a few times throughout — the extensive grid skeleton was bound to cause some unpleasant squishing of chicken livers into duck bones. HOSP SSRS ELEV SYS VERT are some of the usual suspects editors call out on their spec sheets. APORT is a nautical term for "port." REHEAL is an inelegant RE- addition. EPOCHAL is a word.
Nice save on B-TEN, though, an entry never spelled out in the real world. B-TEN = "beaten," get it?
Also, in the "get it?" column: MARCEL has nothing to do with Marceau. I usually have strong Google-Fu but searching "Marcel Marceau wave" shed no light on this clue. Google-phooey!
I'm not looking forward to the days of having to schlep the kids to Disneyland, but I enjoyed uncovering AUTOPIA. It seemed impossible to figure out, but AUTO + PIA made it easy enough to etymologize.
Fantastic grid skeleton, and a puzzle FULL OF SURPRISES.