Friday, January 4, 2019

LAT 7:24 (1 Error) (Gareth) 


NYT 5:33 (Amy) 


The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword is still on winter break. We hope to provide access to the puzzle file when publishing resumes next week.

And then the week after that, the first Inkubator puzzle comes out. I had dinner with Laura Braunstein tonight (she and Tracy Bennett are heading up the Inkubator) and learned that the debut puzzle is by a rookie. I am so looking forward to the puzzles from this new venue!—Amy

Neil Padrick Wilson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 4 19, no 0104

This puzzle both gave me the WARM FUZZIES with some fill and had me cringing at some other fill. First up, the pluses: BIKINI WAX, TWIHARD (a diehard Twilight fan), RAMONE, “ARE WE DONE?”, “MAY I CUT IN?”, “I MEAN, REALLY“, MAITRE D’S, SEX COMEDY, and RIGHT ON TIME. The 65a. [Short and sweet sign-off], XOXO, is also cute.

Did not know: 11d. [Heraldic charge indicating supposed illegitimate birth], BAR SINISTER.

Did not enjoy crosswordese SABRA (9a. [Certain Mideast native], an Israeli in particular) crossing SFC (9d. [U.S. Army E-7]), and I suspect a great many hard-copy solvers will either have a blank there or an incorrect letter.

The opening corner hit me with EPI with a weird clue ([Prefix with cycle]) and TPK ([E-ZPass site: Abbr.]), ungainly. Basically, I was mad at the puzzle and expecting a lousy solving experience. Constructors, it is worth the extra effort to polish up your 1-Across corners to warmly welcome your solvers into the puzzle, instead of leaving them to expect the worst.

When REFUSENIK is a showy word (anyone else try to stretch RESISTER out to 9 letters to answer [One who illegally ignores orders]?), maybe let’s not clue CUR as a 44a. [No-goodnik]. The extra -nik is distracting.

3 stars from me. Gotta go!

Brian Herrick’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

This puzzle’s theme is moderately ambitious, but it really doesn’t fit together well. THEBEST/ISYETTOCOME is a two part cross-referenced revealer. We then have three phrases with an omitted BEST. DOONESLEVEL(BEST) and IMTRYINGMY(BEST) are absurdly close to each other two be two separate themers. Even GOODBETTER(BEST) doesn’t go very far. I’m not sure if WORSE is thematic or not.

If you have a cross-referenced theme revealer or theme answers, I personally don’t like have all-sorts of other cross-referenced clues in the puzzle. DRUNKEN gets tacked onto BOOZY, and RIPLEY to ALIENS, the latter being a more specific connection. That looked thematic when I started solving.

I finished with an error at SI? / ENE?. I put a G, although SIEG is the Nazi cheer, and who’d put that in a puzzle… Never mind. I’m not sure how SIS starts a cheer, I know there’s sis boom pah, but isn’t that just a tuba sound effect? ENES is not a surname I’d have guessed, but it’s at least a real thing unlike “plural chemistry suffix”, which is made-up for constructor convenience.

There are some other difficult names splattered around that are worth noting: [Catalonian architect Antoni __], GAUDI; [Luxury watch brand __ Philippe], PATEK. NEWYOU was my favourite answer in the puzzle, even if it evoked a lot of advertising mumbo-jumbo.


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16 Responses to Friday, January 4, 2019

  1. Penguins says:

    Slate: The NYT Crossword Puzzle’s Use of an Ethnic Slur Says a Lot About the State of Crossword Puzzling

    I know SABRA and was still unsure of the SFC/SABRA/BARSINISTER cross. Very nice puzzle otherwise.

  2. Ethan says:

    Is it crosswordese if you clue SABRA as a brand of hummus?

  3. Greg says:

    I thought this puzzle really sparkled, with fresh, imaginative fill and Friday-appropriate cluing.

  4. Mike T says:

    BAR SINISTER is a great entry. Always reminds me of Underdog. Simon Barsinister was one of the villains.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Yup. With ___SINISTER in place, I got the first three letters thanks to Underdog, and that helped unravel that tough corner.

      • PJ Ward says:

        Ditto. I had PFC (7 did seem high for a PFC) but knowing SABRA as a hummus brand made it easy to imagine it as a Mideast native.

  5. Dr Fancypants says:

    Raising my hand as a solver who got brought down by the SABRA/SFC Natick. I finished with a P there. It hadn’t occurred to me until Ethan’s comment above that the hummus brand could be a hint to the right answer.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Not that most solvers should be expected to know this, but calling an Army E-7 a “Private” would be pretty bad. There are only nine enlisted grades from E-1 (Private) to E-9 (Sergeant Major), and a soldier proudly leaves the Private rank behind on becoming an E-4. But you’re probably not the only one who made that error since PFC (an E-3, by the way) seems to appear more often in crosswords than SFC.

      The E- designation (and similarly, O- for officers) allows for easier comparison between the services. An E-7 is a Master Sergeant in the Air Force and a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, e.g.

      • Lise says:

        Thanks, Jim; this is a big help. I figured, from the “7”, that the rank was pretty high, so probably not a private, but not knowing the names of the different ranks, I had to depend on the crosses.

        Now I need to go watch some Underdog. This was a fun puzzle; I hope to see more from Neil Padrick Wilson (are we calling him NPW yet?).

      • Gareth says:

        TIL, E stands for enlisted… Never made that connection ’til now.

  6. David L says:

    I remembered SABRA, luckily, as I had never come across SFC before. I had CODA at 13D before finding it again at 51D, and put ROTTEN before correcting to RAMONE. Otherwise fairly straightforward.

    I thought the clue for REFUSENIK was somewhat insulting. It arose as a word for people in the Soviet Union who were refused permission to emigrate — the vast majority of them Jews who were not allowed to go to Israel. That’s an honorable meaning, in contrast to the reference to people who refuse to obey orders.

  7. Ruth says:

    My daughter is the proud “rescuer” of a lovely Black Mouth Cur named Oakley. “Cur” is a legitimate dog-breed name and it’s too bad it somehow got to be synonymous with the “junk yard dog” and human villainy. The crossword only subscribes to the derogatory “cur” and I feel I must apologize to Oakley every time I have to fill it in. Unfortunate!

  8. CC says:

    Sabra’s our favorite brand of hummus. That’s how I know it!

  9. Mike Buckley says:

    I know SABRA as a set of rules for Rummikub, the third most popular board game in the world, invented in Israel.

  10. Ellen Nichols says:

    I always chuckle when I see GMAT in a grid. Back when I took it, the acronym was ATGSB. Admissions Test for Graduate Study in Business.

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