Friday, February 15, 2019

CHE 9:22 (Laura) 


Inkubator 4:33 (Amy) 


LAT 5:22 (Gareth) 


NYT 6:49 (Amy) 


Universal 4:41 (Jim Q) 


Kelly Kizer Whitt’s Inkubator crossword, “The V-Word”—Amy’s write-up

Well! Tonight I learned that I am way behind on my slang for the female genitalia. The puzzle’s called “The V-Word,” and the Inkubator team is bringing attention to the V-Day organization that funds efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls (cis, trans, fluid) in the U.S. and around the world. You can click that link to learn more about V-Day and make a donation, if you are so inclined.

Inkubator crossword solution, 2 15 19, “The V-Word”

The theme entries are:

  • 18a. [Rosy euphemism that might float your boat?], PINK CANOE.
  • 27a. [Baby ___: sturdy euphemism that has some balls?], CANNON. Hey! Someone was just telling me this morning that when she was born, she shot out of her mother like a cannon. (Or as if shot from a cannon.)
  • 45a. [___ glove: fuzzy euphemism that comes in handy?], VELVET.
  • 55a. [Delightful euphemism, if you can dig it?], FUN TUNNEL.
  • 5d. [Hairy ___: popular euphemism at the Copacabana?], MANILOW. Oh, dear. I assume Barry Manilow has heard of this and hope he’s amused.
  • 42d. [___ clam: euphemism you might bristle at?], BEARDED.

As with past Inkubator offerings, I’m digging the overall feminist vibe. Heck, there’s even a vibe in a clue: 36a. [Battery size for your vibe], AAA. Some highlights:

  • 42a. [Magazine subtitled “a feminist response to pop culture”], BITCH. An acquaintance of mine is a Bitch Media board member. Read, subscribe, support their journalism.
  • 44a. [Number of women senators from Vermont so far], NONE. Maybe after Bernie Sanders retires?
  • 19d. [Maria Mitchell discovered one], COMET. Science!
  • 33d. [Vessel with an all-woman crew in the 2019 documentary “Maiden”], YACHT. I am learning so much from this puzzle.

Did not know: 62a. [Company that makes breast pumps and kegel exercisers], ELVIE. Holy moly, they make a wireless, tubeless, wearable breast pump. Being able to pump milk hands-free and without being leashed to a machine sounds awesome.

Slang I did not know, aside from the themers: 10a. [Got ___ (had your corn ground, say)], LAID. “Get your corn ground”?? Is this rural slang?

Other womanly content includes a SALEM Witch Trials citation; 15a. [“We all fight ___ what the label ‘feminism’ means, but for me, it’s about empowerment”: Annie Lennox], OVER; Yoko ONO; PILOT Amelia Earhart; EX-P.O.W. Maj. Rhonda Cornum; ELLEN DeGeneres clued via wife Portia; SCANS clued with mammograms; [Dutch nana] OMA, which could also be German; ALEC Baldwin clued via Tina Fey’s show that he was on; a TEAT or [Nipple]; a Paula Abdul song and Sigourney Weaver movie; Titan goddess LETO; Simone Biles’s LEAPS; IRON-deficiency anemia, not uncommon in those who menstruate;  Jacqueline du Pré’s CELLO; Salt N PEPA; Kanga in the MILNE clue; BOTCH with a boob job clue; and Anaïs Nin’s “DELTA of Venus.” All told, over a third of the puzzle fits this category. It’s a bit like being cooped up in a musty, dank cellar for weeks and emerging into a sunny, 75° June day. “This? This was out here waiting for us? We should have come out long ago!”

Four stars from me.

Wyna Liu’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 15 19, no 0215

Sculptor and jewelry designer Wyna Liu‘s debut was a month ago, with a themeless AV Club puzzle. And here she is again with a terrific Friday NYT that was harder than I expected it to be. It didn’t help matters that I gambled on the wrong movie for 33a. [Highest-grossing rom-com of the 2010s], trying CRAZY STUPID LOVE (never saw it) instead of CRAZY RICH ASIANS (haven’t seen it yet, but will).

Besides the movie title, other fill I loved seeing includes CATFISHES (with the [Misrepresents oneself to on the internet, in a way] sense), “OOPS, SORRY” (so much better than the OH IM SORRY that I tried first), MOSTEST (I went with BESTEST there, an equally cromulent word), GWEN IFILL, WIN AT LIFE, and WU SHU. This puzzle is winning at cruciverbal life.

Four more things:

  • 50d. [Khaleda ___, first female P.M. of Bangladesh (1991-96, 2001-06)], ZIA. For all the Western preconceptions of Islam being anti-feminist, there are about countries that have had Muslim women in charge, some of them (like Bangladesh) having been led by women more than once. Whereas the U.S. is one of the many countries that have never had a female leader.
  • 2d. [1/100 de un siglo], AÑO. I gather siglo = century in Spanish.
  • 20d. [Toy company whose name comes from the Dakota Sioux word for “big”], TONKA. A Minnesota company, originally.
  • 39d. [Shots for dudes?], BROTOX. I stumbled here, too, thinking of photos rather than injections and positing BRO PIX as a thing. What? I hadn’t really heard of BROTOX, so …

Maybe the puzzle was way easier than I found it—I mean, if you didn’t take those 4+ wrong turns I took.

4.5 stars from me, for all the fun and fresh fill.

Winston Emmons’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Letter addition is a very common Friday trope at the LA Times crossword, and today is another example. Often, we get no revealer, but today there is CPLUS wedged into the bottom-right corner. It’s pretty bare-bones as revealers go, and I’m not sure it adds a whole lot.

The four themers are arranged in the two-across two-down style usually preferred earlier in the week. This is arguably the optimum arrangement for clean fill though, so is never unwelcome in my eyes. CPLUS as a theme is quite basic, but GOINGCRATE and CATKINSDIET are clued amusingly – one as what is basically my fiancee’s Uno, and the other as a (hardly complete or tasty) vegan diet.


  • [“A Lesson From __”: Fugard play], ALOES. Not read or seen.
  • [It’s not an equine], SEAHORSE. That’s such a bland clue. There are so many examples of inapt biologicals that it’s hardly notable as such. I’m sure Pannonica could supply us with a lovely photo of one of Australia’s sea dragons here…
  • [Windows competitor], IOS. Tricky, though since Windows now runs on some phones, accurate.
  • [Taking more time, probably, as a test], HARDER. I’m giving this clue a lot of side-eye. That probably sure is doing a lot of lifting.
  • [Angels Landing’s national park], ZION. I just looked it up. Sure is purrty, though not for the faint-hearted.

3.5 stars

Dave Sullivan’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Mail Merge” — Laura’s review

Note to readers — this is the last CHE puzzle I’ll blog; Vic will be taking over from here on out. You can still find me at the WSJ Contest writeup every Sunday night, and whenever there’s a Fireball contest. It’s quite fitting, then, that today’s puzzle is by the Fiend’s own Dave “Evad” Sullivan, since I took over covering the WSJ Contest from him.

CHE - 2.15.19 - Solution

CHE – 2.15.19 – Solution

Dave has for us today some base phrases that get re-parsed into wackiness when we think about them as street addresses ending in common abbreviations, like so:

  • [17a: “Rebel Without a Cause” feeling, or early address of a Hollywood Lee?]: TEEN ANGST or TEEN ANG ST.
  • [23a: Loki’s Asgardian title, or Barry Gibb’s address?]: GOD OF DISCORD or GOD OF DISCO RD. (LOL’ed at this one)
  • [39a: Motion for acquittal, or address for a maestro specializing in “La Traviata”?]: DIRECTED VERDICT or DIRECTED VERDI CT.
  • [50. Picture used as a classroom springboard, or address for the optometry students’ dance?]: VISUAL PROMPT or VISUAL PROM PT.
  • [62a: Employment benefit, or address of a harvesting operation?]: SICK LEAVE or SICKLE AVE.

I will always love a “reparse the phrase to make a new wacky phrase” theme-type, and this exemplifies the genre! It’s likely that PT is the least common abbreviation (for Point? are streets called that?), so that one stood out as just slightly strained, but the rest of the set are lovely. Nice work, Dave! Or should I say, D Ave.

Thinking about [9d: Miss in the Jane Austen canon, maybe]: SPINSTER. Hmmmm. It is true that this was the legal term for an unmarried woman well into the time when Austen was writing, but even in her era it had taken on a pejorative sense — so that Anne Elliot, in Persuasion, who at the beginning of the novel is unmarried at 29, would be a definitive spinster, and not in a good way. Were I to clue SPINSTER in an Inkubator puzzle … well, I’ve seen the term reclaimed (like queer or bitch) by friends of mine who are not currently in partnered, heteronormative relationships, so I’d proclaim it in solidarity with those who would like to divest it of its derogatory power. #SpinsterPride!

John Guzzetta’s Universal crossword, “Boundary Lines” – Jim Q’s writeup

THEME: Names of three different continents are “divided” across three different rows.


  • 17A/19A PHOBIAS / I ASSUME gives us ASIA

    Universal crossword solution * 2 15 19 * “Boundary Lines” * John Guzzetta

  • 38A/39A PASTEUR / OPEN SEA gives us EUROPE
  • 61A/63A RED LEAF / RICARDO gives us AFRICA
  • 25A/45A [… geographical features that hint at the starred rows’ black squares] CONTINENTAL DIVIDES

Don’t think I’ve seen left/right symmetry in the Universal yet- these are great finds as none feels at all forced.

I balked at 44D [Sitting at a red light, say] IN IDLE. I wrote IDLING, which seems way more correct.


4 stars from me.

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14 Responses to Friday, February 15, 2019

  1. Steve Manion says:

    I was surprised to learn that TONKA is from the Dakota Sioux word for big. I wonder who named the island of Tonga, whose inhabitants are among the biggest, if not the biggest people in the world.

    I also had BESTEST, but otherwise found the puzzle to be of average Friday difficulty.


  2. Lise says:

    NYT: Loved loved loved this puzzle! There were so many good entries that if I listed them, I would just be repeating Amy’s review. My day (and brain) has been jumpstarted in the best possible way.

    I have been out of crossworld for a few days as I have been rearranging furniture and moving books and things and wandering around with a tape measure with my eyes glazed over until someone in my family shouts through the haze that they’re hungry and helpless and I realize that I’m hungry too. Almost done. It’s good to be looking at a crossword grid again, especially this one.

    I hope to see more from Ms. Liu.

  3. MattF says:

    I found the NYT somewhat harder than your average Friday– but doable. Lots of staring at empty grid spaces, then getting a key word, then filling it all in. Good puzzle.

  4. David L says:

    Hmm, I didn’t care for the NYT so much. HIRED = ‘contracted’? You hire someone, you contract with someone, in my language. I don’t undertstand ADVIL = ‘relief pitcher’. Didn’t know BROTOX or WUSHU. Obscure bit of Spanish in ‘siglo.’ And, after some googling, I am not all convinced that TNUTS go into TSLOTS. From what I found, a TSLOT is a flanged metal bar with a slot that nuts can slide along — used in track lighting for example. The nut that fits such a thing is called a T-slot nut, as far as I can see, to distinguish it from a T-nut, which is normally used in woodworking.

    • Martin says:

      The dictionary supports “contract” used as an intransitive verb, as in “Blackwater was contracted to provide security.”

      As you might imagine, “T-slot nut” is a bit of a mouthful. It is commonly shortened to “T-nut,” despite that having another meaning as well.

      • David L says:

        I wouldn’t say these things are “commonly” called anything. This is specialized jargon that I would prefer not to see in the puzzle.

      • R says:

        In your example, “contracted” is transitive. A verb can’t be used in passive (as it is in that example) without using a transitive sense.

        • Martin says:

          More intransitive senses.

          BTW, “I don’t like that entry because it’s jargon” is always fine, and illuminating. I’d never take exception to that. “That clue is wrong because that’s not what the entry means” is objective and fair game for rebuttal.

          • R says:

            I’m aware that there are intransitive senses, but there are more transitive senses listed there, like the transitive sense that you posted and incorrectly labeled as intransitive. “Blackwater was contracted” can be switched to active voice as “Someone contracted Blackwater,” which is more obviously transitive.

    • Steve Manion says:

      Re: Advil. Pitcher is used in the sense of a pitchman. Advil advertising pitches its ability to relieve.

      • David L says:

        That’s a stretch, seems to me. Advil doesn’t pitch itself, unless they are equipping their pills with AI. (I mean that Advil is a brandname; the manufacturer is Pfizer).

Comments are closed.