In contrast with the fast NYTXW today, the WSJ puzzle was a slow one for me. I tried to use the title from the beginning to help me solve the long answers, but my guess was wrong, so that ate up some time.
I pulled out 64A Treat for chickadees: SUET because my dad showed me a small, flat cage he’d hung up in one of the citrus trees that was clearly meant for use in feeding birds. Not with birdseed but exactly with suet. That it appears in today’s puzzle when that conversation happened a few days ago is pretty cool.
My interpretation of the Offenders title was partially right. My guess was that the long clues ended in OFF (correct) but that those three letters were omitted from the grid (incorrect).
The actual answers leave a lot to be desired, and me saying that about puns is meaningful.
17A Make a big deal out of a political tiebreaker?: MILKRUNOFF. Milk runoff like it’s going all over the place. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Runoff election when no candidate gets at least 50% of the vote at an earlier stage. I think that’s how runoff elections work. There are a lot of steps here.
25A Come to grips with idleness?: FACETIMEOFF. I’m struggling with extra steps in this one. Not doing work is time off, and you gotta face that. But I can’t stand to be idle, so I’ve got different things I like to do. Like write these blogs and make stuff happen worth blog posts. The other step is faceoff? But a better clue would be Confronting otherwise idleness? Alternatively, this is for the facetime app or the need to be in front of something. I can’t get it to work more than the straightforward answer. I’d appreciate help.
36 Disparage a counterfeit product?: KNOCKKNOCKOFF. Is this a knock knock joke? Is this rapping at a door, and if someone is wearing a CHANNEL T-shirt, do you insult them? Or is it just that you knock a knockoff like a straightforward reading of the answer suggests?
50A Finance a pilot derived from a popular TV series? BACKSPINOFF. I guess we’re going with unrelated words. Bankroll the pilot of a spinoff series. Why am I not getting more out of this answer?
59A Broadcast clips of a grandstanding exhibitionist?: AIRSHOWOFF. You’re broadcasting (airing) a showoff, and an airshow is a thing? I like airshows as much as the next guy, but it seems like there could be a better clue to merge airshow and showoff. On the topic of airshows, my dad took me to Edwards AFB in 1997 for a public celebration of the 50th anniversary of the only recently deceased Chuck Yeager’s breaking of the sound barrier. As part of the events, Chuck Yeager was supposed to break the sound barrier again. For whatever reason, we were running a little late. As we neared the air force base, we heard a loud BOOM. Forlornly, my dad said, “That was probably it.” It was. We were close to being able to expect it but were taken by surprise and the initial uncertainty of if we’d heard what we thought we’d heard.
Finished this one in 26:26.