Maryam Hedayati & Sophia Maymudes’s Inkubator crossword, “404: Not Found”—Amy’s write-up
Clever theme! The revealer is 9a. [Remove programming errors … and a hint to this puzzle’s theme], DEBUG, and you have to delete the name of a bug from the themers to get the answers that are clued.
- 17a. [Cuts into pieces], CHOPSTICK. That’s CHOPS plus an unwanted TICK.
- 24a. [In conflict], WARRANTING. Remove the ANT and get WARRING.
- 40a. [More majestic], GRANDMOTHER. Get out the mothballs and you’re left with GRANDER.
- 52a. [Least tame], WILDEBEEST. WILDEST with a BEE inside.
- 64a. [Google search competitor], BROACHING. BING meets ROACH.
The constructors met at Carleton College, which is my alma mater. Yay, Carls!
Four more things:
- 6a. [Doug the ___ (internet-famous dog)], PUG. It rhymes, so it was gettable even though I don’t know of this dog.
- 34a. [A fly in the ointment, e.g.], IDIOM. A bonus bug in a clue.
- 4d. [Record, back in the day], TAPE. That’s the verb record and not the noun.
- 43d. [Fashion designer Kawakubo], REI. This clue approach for REI doesn’t show up at all in the Cruciverb database. Rei Kawakubo has been a big name in fashion for decades! She created the Comme des Garçons label. Check out her creative approach to menswear in this NYT article. Is it possible that male constructors and editors have deemed this name to be below their notice? The REI chain of outdoorsy gear is familiar to me, too, more than the Portuguese word for “king” or old Latin legalese for “defendants” (which are the primary REI cluing avenues prior to 2014).
The fill is pretty smooth overall, and the theme was light and fun. Four stars from me.
Kyle Dolan’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Filling in for Amy again and disproving my theory that Fridays are easier if I do them on Thursday night. Last week was a fluke. This puzzle has a combination of things I didn’t know offhand, somewhat tricky cluing, and answers I don’t expect to see in the NYT puzzle. That last sentence should be heard in an admiring tone – I appreciate a challenge.
Some of the highlights:
- 15a [Where a hand might be raised] is POKER TABLE. I said “slightly tricky.”
- 16a [Mother of Hermes] is MAIA, falling into the “things I don’t know offhand” category, and causing a lot of trouble because I thought it was GAIA, which is not actually spelled that way.
- 24a [Tough, demanding type] is a HARDASS, which I did not expect to see in the NYT. If this had been an indie puzzle, I would have gotten it from the H.
- 43a [Cranky due to lack of food] is HANGRY, which I also didn’t expect to see here. Not sure if either or both of those are new to the Gray Lady crossword.
- Extra credit for the amusing poetry excerpt in the clue for JOHN DONNE: [Who wrote “I am two fools, I know, / For loving, and for saying so/In whining poetry”]
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the PEACE TOWER was built after WWI.
Things I know because I have a teenager: that KEVIN HART starred in “About Last Night.”
Songs I know because I have a teenager:
Robert E. Lee Morris’s Universal Crossword, “Scrambled Communications”—Judge Vic’s write-up
With such a title, I suspect anagramming is afoot. Actually, with the title “Scrambled Communication,” the reveal feels superfluous, but … we’ll start with it anyway:
- 38a [Conflicting signals, or a hint to this puzzle’s theme] MIXED MESSAGES
- 17a [*Change-over-time photography technique (unscramble each starred answer’s circled letters!)] TIME LAPSE–It took me an extra second or two to decipher EMAIL, after easily finding MAIL.
- 25a [*Region bordering Louisiana] EAST TEXAS–TEXTing in Texas can be dangerous, if you’re driving.
51a [*Party pooper] WET NOODLE–Aha! I see a hidden NOTE.
62a [*Test ride vehicle, perhaps] DEMO MODEL–Did you get the MEMO?
With so much horizontal theme, it’s no surprise that there are no further attention-grabbing Across entries. In the Down assortment, we find:
- 11d [Certain wealthy expatriate] TAX EXILE
- 18d [Risk some money] LAY A BET
- 22d [Intervenes] STEPS IN
- 31d [Lunar eclipse phenomenon] RED MOON
- 36d [Prepare, as an archer] TAKE AIM
- 39d [Type of exercise] ISOTONIC
Fun solve. 3.5 stars.
Andrew Roth’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Are We Theirs Yet”–Judge Vic’s write-up.
I like this puzzle. It’s cute. It’s quirky. And there’s a lot going on, starting with the subtle, unexpected punniness of Theirs appearing in the title where we’d ordinarily expect There to be.
That said, a second nice aspect of this puzzle is its lack of a reveal. None is necessary. I cannot imagine one that would not detract from both the affect and effect of this gem!
Thirdly …, the clues! Oh my! There are marvelous clues throughout.
But let’s get to the execution of the theme, via four stellar ILSA’s that have nothing in common other than as hereinafter noted.
- 17a [Nickname for the region of New York that encompasses Cooperstown] LEATHER STOCKING–I was totes educated by this, had never heard this term used geographically before.
- 24a [Geographical designation that sometimes includes Jersey] BRITISH ISLES–Educated yet again, as I’d never bothered to learn that Jersey was an island, though I don’t know what I thought it was.
- 41a [Piece of gear for Johnny Bench] CATCHER’S MITT–Even though I once wore one regularly, I still had to look up whether and where as regards the apostrophe. So, more education, a good thing! Also, whizzing through this one in record time for me (on a CHE, anyway), I first filled it in as a mask.
- 54a [Biggest talent on a pro team, say] FRANCHISE PLAYER–As in “That Brad Wilber, he’s The Chronicle’s franchise player for sure!”
And so you see HIS/HERS alternating through the theme.
I don’t know whether Brad or Andrew is responsible for the cluing, but it’s fabulous! I am going to include both clues and answers of the other stuff I liked:
- 5a [Exams without pencils, theoretically] ORALS
- 20a [Sewer-system entrée] MANHOLE–I wasted a few ticks trying to think of what the Mutant Ninja Turtles might eat for dinner.
- 21a [Cast of “The Addams Family”?] PALLOR
- 34a [Shots repelling net rushers] LOBS–Something about net rushers and repelling them that makes me like this clue (if this aspect was not original, then cut this compliment in half).
- 53a [Toronto’s Rogers Centre, formerly] SKY DOME
- 61a [Bottom of the celebrity barrel] D-LIST
- 1d [Swedish city connected by a bridge to Copenhagen] MALMO–More education … and an entry not seen much!
- 5d [Eye-mimicking spots, as on a peacock train] OCELLI
- 9d [“Enough!”] STOP THAT
- 10d [Places for house-arrest monitors] ANKLES–This clue feels really fresh to me!
- 25d [Part of a caddie’s burden] IRONS
- 26d [Gender-bending stage role for Glenda Jackson since 2016] LEAR–This one seems like a bonus, based on the theme.
- 31d [News item never seen by its subject] OBIT
- 37d [Much library-cataloging information] METADATA
- 43d [Very tight group?] MISERS
- 56d [___-disant (self-styled)] SOI–I thought I didn’t like this, but I see it’s been used more than I’d have imagined, though only twice as SOI-DISANT. I simply do not recall ever knowing of it before now.
The only minor downsides were AREAR, ENGR, ETUI–small price to pay.
4.5 stars! Way to go, guys!
Pam Amick Klawitter’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
It’s letter addition Friday time! Today’s letters are AC, and there is no punchline. The answers go wide though; all four are 15’s. COMEFLYWITH(AC)ME is my favourite, in part the strong visual element of [Ad offer Wile E. Coyote really regrets accepting?], evoking the coyote on rocket-powered roller-skates or any of a number of similar gags. (AC)COUNTINGSHEEP and TORTOISESHELL(AC) are sensical, but don’t change things too drastically. COGITOERGOSUM(AC) was definitely the most ambitious, but I’m not sure it quite lands; it doesn’t make to much sense, and I’m not sure what the clue, [Cashew family shrub’s observation?], is doing either.
The downside of four spanning answers is there really is no breathing space in the grid. ABAT is as contrived a partial as you can find. REMOW is pretty ugly and not an in-use word. We’ve also had the conversation about IRANIS being not the correct demonym; that’s IRANIANS.