Friday, February 1, 2019

CHE 6:27 (Laura) 


Inkubator 4:14 (Jenni) 


LAT tk (Gareth) 


NYT 5:51 (Amy) 


Ori Brian’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 1 19, no 0201

It’s (almost) February! And not a moment too soon, because the polar vortex made the end of January a doozy.

Fave fill: UP THE WAZOO, the KAMIKAZE cocktail, ESPRESSO BAR, TOM THUMB, HOT POT, HAIL MARY, KWANZAA, and BLACK MIRROR. I’ve only seen three episodes of Black Mirror, and recommend ’em all. I loved the one with Daniel Kaluuya before he was a movie star, and the one with Letitia Wright before she was a movie star.

I mucked things up in the top right corner, trying NUDE and HBO instead of SEXT and TMC. Oof! My lack of familiarity with ICEBOX CAKE didn’t help matters.

Five more things:

  • 19a. [“___ is gained as much by good works as by evil”: Machiavelli], HATRED. Please provide examples illustrating this.
  • 16a. [Common type of TV news broadcast], LIVE REMOTE. Or, if you prefer, LIVER EMOTE. I presume a few of you could write a nice cryptic crossword clue for LIVE REMOTE using that mis-parsing.
  • 24a. [March 15, e.g.], DATE. You filled in IDES too, didn’t you?
  • 26a. [Game-changing invention?], HOUSE RULE. As in a rule you make up for a board game at home.
  • 54a. [Event that catches someone by surprise?], POLICE RAID. Those can go tragically wrong. More entertaining: FBI raids. A Chicago alderman recently had a couple of those, and so did Roger Stone. Oh, Roger Stone.

I’m tired and signing off now, with a vibe of 3.9 stars.

Rebecca Falcon’s Inkubator crossword, “Notorious”—Jenni’s write-up

The title gave me at least part of the theme before I started the puzzle: I was expecting the Notorious RBG and I found her at 60a. The puzzle centers on an RBG quote; I don’t usually like quote puzzle but I will make an exception for this one. It’s a great quote and an unusual puzzle in a 20 x 13 grid.

Inkubator puzzle 1/31, solution grid

25a is the [Start of a quotation by one of the Justices in this puzzle]. With 43a and 55a, we have WOMEN BELONG IN ALL PLACES WHERE DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE. Amen to that. The other justice appears at 48a: [Supreme Sandra Day] O’CONNOR.

Two puzzles in, and I love this project. It’s not just that all the constructors are women (cis-women, trans-women, and woman-aligned constructors are welcome). The puzzles themselves are full of women’s names, and definitions skew female as well. That is so surprising that it highlights the male-centricity of our usual puzzle fare. And the puzzles so far are well-constructed and fun to solve. Brava and merçi to Tracy and Laura.

Warning: if you are tempted to write a comment saying that this is a) unnecessary b) not worth commenting on c) somehow unfair to men or d) a sign of the impending apocalypse, just – don’t. If you’re a male-identifying person who feels these puzzles are somehow not for you, but you think “regular” puzzles are for “everyone,” you are not even in the same time zone as the point that you have missed.

More about the puzzle!

  • 1a [“… I will ___ me down”] LAY. In my head, this is Simon and Garfunkel, not the child’s prayer.
  • 7d [Assume control, à la Ellen Ripley in “Alien”] is the kind of clue I’m talking about above. The answer is TAKE OVER, which could have easily been clued without reference to a woman, but that would have been a missed opportunity.
  • Political women: Kamala Harris and her run for the OVAL office and IRON LADY Margaret Thatcher.
  • One of the most remarkable pieces I read recently was the NYT essay about Margot KIDDER‘s daughter.
  • 65a [In misidentified body parts, vulva : vagina :: ____ : nipple]. Far too many parents shy away from teaching kids the actual words for their own anatomy, and when they do, they tend to use “vagina” for external female genitalia, which is wrong. Cis-girls should know that they have vulvas and labias and clitorides just like cis-boys should know they have a penis and testicles. Words matter, and kids who know the actual words and have learned that it’s ok to use those words are less vulnerable to predation. The answer, by the way, is AREOLA.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the venom of ASPS was said to have come from Medusa’s blood.

Samuel A. Donaldson and Doug Peterson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Stuffed Shirts” — Laura’s review

CHE - 2.1.19 - Solution

CHE – 2.1.19 – Solution

We’ve got some literal “stuffed” shirts this week, in that words for types of shirts are “stuffed” around longer base phrases. Or rather, longer base phrases have types of shirts stretched across them? Or there’s, like, stuff? In shirts? Here, I’ll show you:

  • [17a: Ingredient in some sweet barbecue sauces]: BLACKBERRY JELLY
  • [26a: Visit on the spur of the moment]: POP IN TO SAY HELLO
  • [44a: Opposite of “easy on the eyes”]: NOT A PRETTY SIGHT
  • [58a: Emulates a dogged marketer]: DRUMS UP BUSINESS


BELLY, POLO, NIGHT, and DRESS: all types of shirts. This works. Arguably, a belly shirt is the least “in the language” of the set; not that I’ve worn one since I was in my 20s, but when I did wear them, I called them crop tops. I think of a night shirt as something from the nineteenth century — Scrooge trudging around Victorian London in the wake of the Ghost of Christmas Present, or the narrator in “A Visit from St Nicholas” … okay, more precisely, I guess I think of a night shirt as something from the illustrations to Christmas literature from the nineteenth century.

The AVClub crossword team recently did a thing where we made a fake music festival poster using fake band names generated from adjacent entries in our grids from 2018 (if you’re a subscriber, it’ll be appended to your email from this week). Thing is, you can’t unsee those things once you start, and this grid has a few good ones:

ZUCCHINI ATOMIC (their next EP, “BENT ARUGULA,” drops in April)
SPEC AXES (saw them at Bonnaroo a few years ago but I think they’ve sold out since)
ASK ENID (they’re a Letters to Cleo cover band)
STY OWLET (I liked them until they did the song over the credits to the last Avengers movie. Now they’re everywhere.)

[Late breaking edit: There is a Twitter account that is doing this band name thing with NYT grids. Follow it for a daily dose of hilarity.]

Fave clue: [61a: First name in folk] — I had 58d: DJS, so I knew it started with J, so it had to be either JOAN or JONI. They didn’t actually work together that often, but here they are with Bob Dylan in 1975:

David Alfred Bywaters’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

Unlike some letter-addition Fridays of late, this one has a revealer, however basic. ALLIN is interpreted as +ALL. The execution was a little spotty, BIGSHALLOT and SAFEBALLET are at least functional. YALLCHROMOSOMES I think was meant to be the big finale, but personally I find building off letters (Y here) a little cheap. BALLADINFLUENCE’s clue, [Up-tempo music lover’s aversion?], was wanting to point to both BADINFLUENCE and BALLADINFLUENCE; a more minor demerit, but still.

Nice to start 1A with something disgusting sounding… [They may be scraped off in bars] is just FOAM. [South side?] for GRITS is another clever clue, though it was kind of transparent.


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15 Responses to Friday, February 1, 2019

  1. janie says:

    >19a. [“___ is gained as much by good works as by evil”: Machiavelli], HATRED. Please provide examples illustrating this.

    ya know, this had me thinking, too. then i thought, yet again, of obama. how much i loved what he accomplished during his presidency by way of providing a way (no matter how imperfectly) to affordable health care for all, and by making the country a participant in global agreements to improve and preserve the environment. and that’s just for starters.

    and then i think of (what i see as) the destructive tenor of current administration, the gloating of djt’s base and i realize how deeply obama-haters loathed him. so there’s yer “hatred gained by good works,” no?

    one mell of hess……

    oh, yeah — and loved the puzz.


  2. Greg says:

    Responding to Amy’s request for an example of Machiavelli’s quote (“Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil”), I suppose one could point to a contemporary quip as expressing a fairly similar sentiment: “No good deed goes unpunished.”

  3. paul coulter says:

    Today’s NYT was an absolute treat. So many crunchy entries and virtually no junk. My favorite themeless in recent memory. As for good works earning hatred, just look at right wing politics, and their long term campaign to cast every positive accomplishment as evil. In my opinion, it produced the grotesqueness we now have squatting in the Oval Office.

  4. Nene says:

    Really enjoyed this one. Clever, fresh and original. Bravo and thx

  5. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Beautiful, fun grid!

    HATRED example: Anne Hathaway.

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: That HATRED insight is genius. People resent being the object of kindness, especially of ostentatious good deeds. Even though the term “empowerment” seems overwrought, finding ways to enable people to help themselves without condescension requires wisdom and imagination. Kids and old people generally prefer it and, as far as I can see, almost everyone in between.

  7. Noam D. Elkies says:

    So now the NYTXW allows not just ARSE but also WAZOO. (I see that this isn’t even new: today’s the second appearance of UP_THE_WAZOO — its debut was the last Friday of 2011.) I suppose we’ll soon see UP_YOURS too. Well nowadays the Grey Lady has to report such language and worse on the front page, so it makes little sense for her (it? they?) to get all prudish about it in the crossword. At least it’s more fun and more fair than yet another alphabet-soup name.


  8. Martin says:


    • Jenni Levy says:

      I’m grateful for the puzzles. Was that not obvious?

      • Martin says:

        Sure, as was I. But there’s no cedilla in merci.

        • Jenni Levy says:

          Ah. And your experience of reading the post and/or doing the puzzle was thus ruined, so that it was necessary to call that out publicly, because you couldn’t possibly find a private way to give me that information and of course noting a minor mistake that in no way affects the meaning of the sentence was the most important thing about today’s review. Noted.

  9. Z says:

    Loved the Inkubator puzzle, although I normally don’t even bother with quote puzzles. This was a wonderfully fresh puzzle.

    As for the HATRED quote, take any example of someone trying to improve the status quo. Keeping just in the major political figures world, Lincoln, MLK, the anti-war protestors at Kent State all engendered so much HATRED that they were killed. But why go major political figures? Why the need for “Warning” in the Inkubator review? Because doing good always threatens those who benefit from the status quo, even something as innocuous as encouraging more women to construct crossword puzzles. Machiavelli was an astute observer of humans, uncomfortably astute at times.

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