Friday, January 11, 2019

CHE 6:10 (Laura) 


LAT 6:33 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:17 (Amy) 


The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword is back from winter break. You can find the puzzle via Fiend’s “Today’s Puzzles” page.

Up next week, the first Inkubator Crosswords puzzle! I look forward to blogging it.—Amy

Jim Horne & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 11 19, no 0111

First up, I’d like to reiterate my thanks to Jeff for flagging that racist slur in another recent puzzle (here’s hoping that the editorial team is now more inclined to act on such alarms rather than pooh-poohing them).

Lots of good stuff in this grid: two terrific stacks and two stacks that are quite good. CAMERA-SHY / TALES OF WOE / OP-ED COLUMN is great, as is PURPLE HAZE (dang it, I wanted PURPLE RAIN here, as that is also an amazing guitar song, but Rolling Stone has it at #19) / ARCHIMEDES / MBA STUDENT. I also liked IN NAME ONLY plus SPORTS BRAS and the au courant MARS LANDER plus PLAYED GOD.

Five things:

  • 37a. [“There is no literature and art without ___”: Thomas Pynchon], PARANOIA. I suspect this is not true, and that it tells us more about Pynchon than about art and lit in general.
  • 1a. [Afraid of getting shot], CAMERA-SHY. Earlier today, I read of someone’s shock when their daughter said there’d be two shooters at her wedding—and she meant two photographers shooting pictures. Rather a jarring clue.
  • 34a. [Music style associated with George Clinton, informally], P-FUNK. P-Funk is short for his collective, Parliament-Funkadelic. There’s a Clinton Mothership on display at the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
  • 55a. [Character in “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”], APOSTROPHE. Ah! Not a Shakespeare character, just a typographical character.
  • 21d. [Card holding?], BAT. Tricky clue. Card is short for a St. Louis Cardinals player who might hold a baseball BAT.

That [Cartoon pal of the monkey Boots] clue gets an update this summer, when the live-action DORA the Explorer movie comes out. Isabela Moner plays a teenage Dora out to save her parents and solve an Inca mystery. Benicio del Toro does the voice of Swiper the Fox, of “Swiper, no swiping!” fame. (I expect ample Swiper drama here.) Mainly I’m just excited, as a puzzle editor, to have a fresh angle for DORA clues.

4.5 stars from me. IN RE and OLAV are the worst things in this surprisingly smooth grid.

Matthew Sewell’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Range Rovers” — Laura’s review

Note: The Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle is now only published in print, but you can still get a .puz and .pdf every week at Fiend’s Today’s Puzzles page.

CHE - 1.11.19 - Solution

CHE – 1.11.19 – Solution

What’s opera, doc? Why, this puzzle’s theme! Five operas with protagonists that proceed from the highest to lowest range in voices. Full disclosure: Everything I know about opera is from Warner Brothers cartoons. So I’m glad to have a theme that compels me to do some research.

  • [20a: Puccini opera whose title character is sung by a soprano]: MANON LESCAUT. I had mostly heard of this one from the French film Manon des Sources, the sequel to Jean de Florette.
  • [31a: Handel opera whose title character is sung by a mezzo]: ARIODANTE. Never heard of this one, but it’s based, like so many literary texts in the Early Modern period, on stories from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso.
  • [38a: Wagner opera whose title character is sung by a tenor]: SIEGFRIED. He kills the wabbit.
  • [50a: Verdi opera whose title character is sung by a baritone]: RIGOLETTO. I had thought this was the one about the clown, but it turns out that is Pagliacci. This one is about a jester. It ends, like the one about the clown, sadly.
  • [59a: Mussorgsky opera whose title character is sung by a bass]: BORIS GODUNOV. He’s the tsar, not the partner of Natasha Fatale.

Yes, I’ll self-own — I do know that Lucia di Lammermoor is the one with the [spoiler alert] blood-stained wedding dress, and I’ve seen both M. Butterfly and Madam Butterfly. And I’ve seen most of Gilbert and Sullivan’s oeuvre (I am the very model of a modern crossword blog writer; I’ve filled out many grids in both pencil and in highlighter), although I’m told that’s operetta. So perhaps another Fiend writer should’ve taken this assignment; YES MA’AM. Lotsa other fun musical stuff going on, too, what with W.C. HANDY, Peter “et” CETERA, and Cam’Ron’s HEY MA, which samples “Easy” by the Commodores — speaking of which, if you like those easy 70s soft rock hits, check out Jonathan Coulton’s project Some Guys, an album of note-for-note covers of your sensitive-guy favorites. He, like Siegfried, is a man who would fight for your honor, with his sword and magic helmet.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

LE changes to Y in five answers. Why? Cos. The last answer, TRICKYDOWNTHEORY is a genius bit of meta wordplay, although the base answer has a lot to answer for. The first answer I found was TACKYBOXES, which confused me particularly as to what was going on, since TICKYBOXES are a doubly dated term for obsolescent phonebooths. CANDYINTHEWIND and BATTYLINES land ok, though NEEDYINAHAYSTACK is a bit shaky.


  • [Old gas station freebie], MAP. Wow! I’ve grown-up with petrol stations, particularly Shell, >selling< branded maps.
  • [Japanese volcano], ASO. A rare sighting. Tuck that one away for next time.
  • [PHL stat], ETA. Is that an airport? Philadelphia?? Yes.
  • [Gaucho’s tool], REATA. I’m sure neither spelling is taken in the NY Times’s Spelling Bee?
  • [The Gershwins’ “Embraceable __”], YOU. Which inspired this hilarious song
  • [Hudson and James], BAYS. Curious pairing. Hudson is geographical, and James is musical.
  • [Some HDTVs], SANYOS. Never seen those as TVs, only radios.

3,75 Stars

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30 Responses to Friday, January 11, 2019

  1. cyberdiva says:

    Amy, I was delighted to see the link to the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle on your Today’s Puzzles page. Many thanks!!

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: This played very smoothly for me. I love it when 1A just jumps out at me –Maybe because I’m CAMERA SHY. I think there should be a protocol for posting someone else’s photos on social media.
    I too wanted Purple Rain. Something about purple is special in a way that green will never aspire to.
    The more I look at this puzzle after the fact, the more impressed I am. Kudos!

    • Huda says:

      And though I don’t love the PARANOIA quote as a quote, I think it’s a truly clever well of cluing the word without sounding judgmental towards people who suffer from it.

  3. Ethan Friedman says:

    I am embarrassed at how long I kept trying to think of scientists named ARCHIE who might have worked in hydrostatics…. That was a lovely NYT!

  4. Zulema says:

    Not been to the NYT crossword yet but did the CHE. Wonderful, on the easy side, and thank you to everyone who contributed to making it available here. I am acquainted with all the operas involved but this is not a complaint. It was an unusual delight.

  5. Silverskiesdean says:

    I just read that a new sight is going up called the “Inkubator” and is for women, trans women, women constructors etc.
    I wonder if any men would be interested in starting a puzzle site for just men. Men constructors, men solvers etc.
    We could call it the “Masterbator”

    • e.a. says:

      ‘a puzzle site for just men constructors’ describes part or all of at least 3 major publications as of 2018

    • Conrad says:

      You’ve had sites like that for 105 years.

    • Austin says:

      what a boring comment. i mean “how come there’s no WHITE Entertainment Television” is over 30 years old. get a new schtick.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        What’s fresh here is that the commenter built in some masturbatory mockery instead of just the usual stale Man Tears.

    • Jesse says:

      This is an interesting idea, but I’m just not sure men are smart enough to solve and construct puzzles.

    • Heather says:

      Knock yourself out. You just need to find a nice, private place to construct and solve your own puzzle alone. You’d be doing us all a favor. I mean, you could get together with a bunch of other men to do it, but I think there’s a different name for that.

      Also, your post offends my sense of humor. “Masterbator” isn’t even a pun. Try harder.

    • Matthew P says:

      Dr Silverberg,

      I understand that you think you were just making a joke, and that you are getting bullied as an effect. This is an understandable view, but please allow me to explain why that view is incorrect.

      By juxtaposing an actual project with the stated goal of encouraging more non-men to become involved in the construction of crosswords with an imaginary corollary that is for only men, you are, in effect, stating that the Inkubator’s goal is not one worth pursuing.
      I realize you’re probably saying something along the lines of: “NO! That’s not what I meant!”

      But let’s go ahead and have a thought experiment which I hope demonstrates this:
      Imagine that you, through the largess of your heart and with all the best intentions, decide to raise funds to support wounded US veterans.
      You work hard to set up a website and get word of mouth out, trying to raise as much money as possible.
      Then, on the comments of a military-family site which posted about your project, a commenter posts:
      “I just read about a new site to support wounded veterans. I wonder if any non-veterans would be interested in raising funds just for people, like me, who were not soldiers? We could call it ‘Jerk-ing off'”

      Imagine that, and then, think about how you would interpret that response. Obviously, it’s “jokey”, but would you laugh?

      Secondly, you conflated “Inkubator”, a pun that combines how crosswords are filled in ink with an incubator which helps nurture life and help it grow, with “Masterbator”, which is not a pun and refers to something that is self-interested and (colloquially) pointless. This conflation further demonstrates a sense that you think the goal of Inkubator is not worthy.

      There’s an alternate universe where you had an actual funny pun and made a joke that makes the joke without demeaning the actual project. It could have been something like this:

      I love the Inkubator idea! I love it so much I’m going to start a site for men called “PenisMightier”!

      I’m not saying that my joke is great, but it:
      A) Is actually a joke.
      B) Does not invalidate the goal of the other project.
      C) Does not discredit the very hard work done by people in the community that definitely have or will see your comment.

      This is a chance for you to reflect and grow. I hope, for your sake, you take it.

  6. Lemonade714 says:

    Gareth JAMES BAY is a bay in Canada that comes off of HUDSON BAY .

  7. bonekrusher says:

    Wow, the NYT was possibly the best Friday I’ve ever done.

  8. Silverskiesdean says:

    I’ve been reading some of the comments to my note. Let me say this. To Mr. Birnholz-I do your puzzle religiously and think you are about the best constructor in the world at present. I’m sorry for your terse answer but will still continue to enjoy your puzzles. To all-I realize that my sense of humor is childish. But that is all it is -childish. I admit it. And maybe it is stale humor, but it seemed to fit the situation. I assure everyone that it had nothing to do with any animosity towards women. After graduation, I served in the Far East in the 70s, went back to school, became a Physician and served in Desert Storm evacuating troops from Iraq to England and Germany. I am retired but still work in a local Emergency Room. The point is, I’ve seen enough suffering in my life so at times I come out with some “potty humor”, childish remarks or whatever you want to call it. But if we all learned that it’s not what we say, but rather the intent with which it is said, and I assure everyone, there was no malicious intent in my comment.

    • Austin says:

      that’s a lot of words to still not say, “i’m sorry, i spoke without thinking.”

    • David Hirschhorn says:

      I gave you the benefit of the doubt and thought you were not malicious. I had a pledge master in college whose last name was Baden and similarly referred to him.

  9. Silverskiesdean says:

    Austin, do you bully people in person, or just over the internet?

    • Austin says:

      i didn’t realize the guy who made the dumb comment and then didn’t apologize for it was the real victim here

  10. David L says:

    Chiming in late only only to say that Silverskiesdean’s original post made me laugh — and that I was disappointed certain people missed the obvious joke.

  11. Zulema says:

    Chiming in very late, since I got to the NYT puzzle very late, I was then stuck a long time in the SW because instead of PARANOIA I insisted on “Dementia.” It made sense to me as something Pynchon would say, and I wasn’t too far wrong, except for the context.

  12. Elise says:

    NYT 21d was way in the outfield to me. Crossing with “That’s a wrap!” and its exclamation point that made it seem like a shouted statement, as in “Cut!” pffft. Great solving fun until that last head-scratcher for me.

  13. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Just solved the CHE puzzle. Nice theme, though 31A:ARIODANTE was a mystery to me too (and the gratuitously-YAWN clue for 6D:CETERA was of no help for the first letter — what’s it called again when two mystery names cross?), and is probably a concession to the fetish for grid symmetry (plenty of other operas with mezzo title roles — blockbuster CARMEN is the first that comes to mind — but much harder when it must have nine letters and accommodate the three-themer-crossing 9D: PATAGONIA). The clue for 58A:ORO is somewhat inelegant because “Dorado” is from the same source as “oro” (Latin “deauratus” = covered with gold), though I suppose it’s less discordant than using “gilt”/”gild” in a clue for GOLD or vice versa.


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