Friday, April 12, 2019

CHE untimed (Vic) 


Inkubator untimed (Amy) 


LAT 4:56 (GRAB, 1 ERROR) 


NYT 4:18 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 3:57 (Ben) 


Universal untimed (Vic) 


Howard Barkin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 12 19, no 0412

Oh, hey! I enjoyed Howard’s themeless. It’s pretty well packed with fill I like: “YOO HOO!”, CHIPOTLE, McCAFE, the soccer pair of Lionel MESSI and Wayne ROONEY (the one from the Americas plays in Europe, and the European one plays in the US, go figure), ROGUE ONE, GODOT, THE LORAX, SATANIST, STREET FOOD, SHOWPIECE, BOOTLEG, STEPMOM, TARANTULA, and “I HATE TO ASK…”. Wait! I skipped right over the middle, with AT THE MOMENT, CURAÇAO, and EXTRA CRISPY chicken. People of my generation also may have a soft spot for actress MIA SARA, who hasn’t had many prominent roles since Ferris Bueller, but hey.

It’s late (I had fused glass class tonight!) and I’ve got an early morning tomorrow, so three quick things:

  • 25d. [Like Bugles snacks], CONIC. Wanted SALTY, but had the CO in place and filled in CORNY, but no. Crunchy little witch hats to wear on your fingertips.
  • 11d. [Cousin of “Gosh darn it!”], “SON OF A …!” What’s your favorite way to finish that phrase?
  • 49d. [19th-century author whose works are still read word for word], ROGET. Of thesaurus fame. Me, I’m a fan of Rodale’s Synonym Finder, which I used to get lost in.

4.25 stars from me.

Mary Lou Guizzo’s Inkubator crossword, “Scale Models”—Amy’s write-up

Inkubator crossword solution, 4 12 19, “Scale Models”

The theme revealer’s in a sort of unusual spot—the middle Down entry. The BOXCARS clue is 25d. [Freight train lineup, and a clue to four squares in this puzzle], and there are four rebus squares containing 4-letter auto makes. I bollixed up the BOXCARS early on by seeing that 13a PR{OPEL}S and 2d R{OPE L}ADDER both had ROPE in them, and I entered these as two entries having one-way {ROPE} rebus squares. The next rebus square I filled in was FORD in the opposite corner (AF{FORD}ED, OX{FORD} SHOE), and I was expecting to find another nearby FORD there as I had not yet filled in the middle with the BOXCARS reveal. Oops. The other two corners have a MINI (FE{MINI}NITY, AT A {MINI}MUM) and an AUDI (CL{AUDI}A, TV {AUDI}ENCE). I’m going to ding the theme for some car name words being too similar to what’s in the rebus entries. Audi takes its name from the Latin for “to hear,” and AUDIENCE relates to that too. See also: MINI and AT A MINIMUM.

Felt like a tough puzzle, no? Maybe not so tough if you cottoned to the OPEL rebus right off the bat, unlike me.

Did not know: 43d. [Greek sea nymph and star who bore seven daughters found in a nearby star cluster], PLEIONE. Her offspring the Pleiades, sure, but PLEIONE, no. (No etymological connection to the crossing entry IONA!)

Four more things:

  • 41a. [Diane of “NUMB3RS” or Jamie of “M*A*S*H”], FARR. I dig the funky all-caps plus more weirdness titles.
  • 10d. [Italian seaport and province], SALERNO. I grew up enjoying Salerno Butter Cookies, which of course we’d all put on our fingers. Tastier than any province, I tell you.
  • 60d. [Pastoral expanse], LEA. Surprised to see this clued as a more-or-less crosswordese word rather than as one of the famous women who have that name.
  • 54a. [“The thing women must do to rise to power is to redefine their ___.”  Katharine Graham], FEMININITY. Interesting quote. It’d be nice for women to not have to do a damn thing regarding whatever they consider femininity to be, and however they choose to embrace or ignore it, and still rise to power.

The fill was kinda rough, with those stacks of 6s and 7s in the corners tightening things up. ARA AAR OTOES SSTS AHOK ATMO, eh.

3.4 stars from me. I like a good rebus puzzle, but I also want smooth fill.

Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Staying in Character”–Judge Vic’s write-up.

Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen’s Chronicle of higher Education crossword, 4-12-19, solution

Okay, so we have movie characters spelled within the names of other movie characters. And these need introducing through clues that range from just plain clever to a tad convoluted:

  • 17a [“Jungle Book” tiger who can access a Scottish accent and bad manners?] SHERE KHAN
  • 22a [Hobbit secretly a whiz with a utility belt?] FRODO BAGGINS–Maybe this is a nit, but why is not the first O, rather than the second, circled here?
  • 36a [Space pilot who can resemble an implacable computer?] HAN SOLO
  • 46a [Jedi hiding an identity as a dystopian savior?] OBI-WAN KENOBI
  • 56a [Superspy suppressing a bloodthirsty side?] JAMES BOND

I guess this is pretty clever, though I found myself looking for some relationship between or among …. Seems to be nothing more than the first paragraph describes. I’m sure it took some time to develop.

3.5 stars.

MaryEllen Uthlaut’s Universal Crossword, “Pork Tongue”—Judge Vic’s write-up

MaryEllen Uthlaut’s Universal Crossword, 4-12-19, solution

Though not in dictionaries, pork tongue is apparently something that people in FACT cook–on a STOVE or elsewhere–and eat, with or without SEA SALT, according to lots of Google hits.  And, in quotes with initial caps, it turns out to be a pretty good title.

57a [“Language” in which the starred answers make sense phonetically] PIG LATIN–Also known as pork tongue.
17a [*Want to know] UNDERWAY–Aka wonder.
21a [*Moment] ICE TRAYTrice.
31a [*Fit for a king] EAGLE RAYRegal. I’d not heard of this bottom-dweller, but it is in the book.
40a [*Scarcity] EARTH DAYDearth.
51a [*Rotund] OUTSTAY–Stout.

Hmm, I think of Pig Latin themes as pretty mundane. I guess the draw here is that the five primary theme answers are ILSA’s in their own right, in addition to just making sense phonetically. But there’s little excitement … and no humor, which is a fairly common element in Pig Latin, no?

Other items of note include BOATLOAD and PETTY CASH.

Could have done without POISING, LIONESSES, and RAISERS.

3 stars.

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review

New Yorker 4/12/19 — Aimee Lucido

I’m so happy we have two New Yorker puzzles a week, y’all, and an easy themeless, it turns out, is a lovely way to welcome the weekend.  Lots to love in Aimee Lucido’s debut for this venue:

  • The structure of this grid, with no super-long fill spanning the middle, felt odd, but I liked the bits and pieces criss-crossing the longer spans: HUMBLEBRAG and THANK U NEXT felt fresh, and ATMOSPHERE, RAMPAGING, AT THE HELM, and RECONSIDER bolstered them nicely
  • I loved the use of cluing to give new twists on otherwise standard fill – TWENTY cluing the attempt to put Harriet Tubman on the bill, HAIR citing the Natural Hair movement, etc.  Little places like this are a great way to balance who’s featured in the crossword and whose voice gets a say.
  • Lots of great downs in the grid – AUTOPSY, SPLENDA, BIT PART, ASTAIRE, INDEXED

LORDE, featured in this week’s grid and the featured fill by the New Yorker

Another excellent puzzle after last week’s surprise announcement we were getting two New Yorker puzzles a week!

4/5 stars

Joe Kidd’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

We’re back to letter addition this Friday. Today it’s the digram KA, which has as an advantage the fact that KA words have an exotic, spicy sound to them. was my favourite, despite the gratuitous plural; STAYS(KA)PUT and (KA)ZOOANIMAL are solid enough. PLUMB(KA)BOB though had to be tortured too much to make even a somewhat comprehensible clue.


  • [Industrial portmanteau], SMOG. Pizza places around here have lately had a SMOG pizza on their menu: salami, mushroom, onion, green pepper. Is this just a Cape Town thing?
  • [Mississippi source], ITASCA crossing [Three-time NHL All-Star Kovalchuk], ILYA – my error, had an A. I should have realised ILYA is a more plausible first name, I guess.
  • [Zero, to Man U], NIL. Someone is trying to get folks familiar with Man U so it can be used as an entry…
  • [“Monsters, Inc.” raspy-voiced undercover agent], ROZ. I didn’t know I was supposed to remember those characters beyond Mike, Sully and Boo…
  • [Original V8 base], TOMATO. Thought it might be some kind of cocktail, but apparently it’s a Campbell soup line of vegetable juice. If it’s sold here I’ve not seen it.
  • [Traditional Passover barley offering], OMER. Difficult, though more colourful, clue for this old-school answer. OMER as a weight is recorded in the Old Testament in several places.

2,75 Stars

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13 Responses to Friday, April 12, 2019

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: Felt smooth and remarkably easy for a Friday. Like a Tuesday/Wednesday time for me…

    “Unless… someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
    I love Dr. Seuss.

    • Penguins says:

      i endorse this post

    • CR says:

      I confidently entered SAN at 54a. Even without the error, my solve time was more in line with my Fri/Sat average than Tue/Wed. Fantastic grid by Howard! My faves were CHIPOTLE (a piece of trivia I had recently learned) and IHATETOASK.

  2. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: My parents speak Chamorro but sadly I do not. My mom, who is devoutly Catholic, would never cuss, but one of her phrases was always what sounded like “Sana biskuchu!” As kids we wouldn’t dare say it because we didn’t know what it really meant, and we didn’t want to get in trouble.

    At the same time, we learned the word “biskuchu” was the Chamorro word for “biscuit,” which, to us, typically meant these Navy biscuits which were staples in Guam.

    But it wasn’t until I was approaching adulthood that I put two and two together and realized that my mom was essentially saying “Son of biskuchu!”, but which was her way of replacing a swear word with a non-swear word.

    I still don’t know if this is a common phrase on Guam or if it’s something my mom and/or her siblings made up. I’ve never heard anyone use it but her. But I love it because it’s mysterious, scary-sounding, and innocuous at the same time.

  3. JB says:

    Strange title for the Inkubator puzzle, since the rebus squares are makes, not models.

  4. pannonica says:

    Universal: “EAGLE RAY … I’d not heard of this bottom-dweller …”

    Not a bottom dweller. Pelagic species.

  5. Victor Fleming says:

    I loved this Inkubator. “Scale Models” is a clever title. For 50+ years I have confused make with model where cars are concerned, so the earlier nit fell on my deaf eyes. As for non-smoothness in the minor fill, a couple of clunkish 3’s was not a bad price to pay for the volume and richness of the theme!

  6. GlennP says:

    Inkubator: This seems to be another rebut puzzle in which the .puz version doesn’t recognize the multiple letter in my Crosswords app.

  7. AaronB says:

    The connection between “omer” “Passover” and “barley” is that, in the times recounted in the 5 books of Moses, Jews made offerings of an omer of barley for 49 days during a period beginning after Passover and continuing to the holiday of Shavuot.

    The current practice (for those who observe it) involves a special counting procedure with spiritual overtones.

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