Friday, May 24, 2019

CHE 10:37 (Vic) 


Inkubator  4:45 (Jenni) 


LAT 7:32 (GRAB) 


NYT 5:05 (Amy) 


Universal 5:45 (Vic) 


The New Yorker 8:47 (Vic) 


Caitlin Reid’s Inkubator puzzle, “Themeless #2″—Jenni’s review

Caitlin Reid is a classically trained pianist currently home full-time with four children (according to the constructor info that came with the puzzle) and both of those vocations show up in this delightful puzzle.

Inkubator 5/24/2019 puzzle, Caitlin Reid, Themeless #2, solution grid

  • 1a was a gimme for me. I’m not sure if that’s a professional advantage or a sign that I’ve done a lot of crossword puzzles. [Prepare to be depressed?] is SAY AAH.
  • 14a [Back to original speed, in music] is A TEMPO.
  • 7a [“The herpes of craft supplies,” per comedian Demetri Martin] is GLITTER, and all the parents in the audience are nodding their heads. One of my favorite things about day care was that I didn’t have to deal with the glitter; they did it.
  • 32a [Age of reckoning, at long last!] is THE ME TOO ERA, and exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Inkubator. In a few months, they’ve established a clear style. Nice work.
  • 52a [“You can bend but never break me/ ‘Cause it only serves to make me/ More determined to achieve my final goal” anthem] is I AM WOMAN. Of course.
  • Blatant self-promotion: Temple Grandin, Brené Brown, and Jane Goodall delivered TED TALKS – and so did I.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that David Bowie played the King of the GOBLINS in “Labyrinth.”

I leave you with this. Of course.

Stan Newman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 24 19, no. 0524

Stan edits (and sometimes writes) the Newsday “Saturday Stumper,” but that wouldn’t let him run a themeless centering QUEEN VICTORIA‘s bicentennial on her birthday, since his Fridays are booked with themed puzzles. Happy 200th, QV!

Nine more things:

  • 1a. [Too fast to be careful], SLAPDASH. Kinda wanted HEEDLESS here, but SLAPDASH is a much cooler word (and the ST ELMO crossing kept me from entering HEEDLESS).
  • 14a. [Gaze at, as someone’s eyes], STARE INTO / 13d. [Not moved at all], DRY-EYED. I know Will doesn’t care one whit about that eyes/EYED dupe, but I do.
  • 17a. [“___ LANDS!” (headline of 1927)], LINDY. Charles Lindbergh, that is. I’d filled in KEPT TO at 9d, but I did an 8th grade history report on the 1920s so the clue was a gimme once I saw it. Also: The 2020s start in just over 7 months, in case you feel like the 1920s weren’t that long ago.
  • 60a. [Fictional land named in some real-life international law cases], RURITANIA. Why did I know this? What sort of law cases?
  • 65a. [Some descendants of 62-Acrosses], MEXICANS / 62a. [Worshiper of the war god Huitzilopochtli], AZTEC. Hey! I know at least one person who’s descended from the Aztecs (and also someone whose mom is Mayan). Any of you readers also Aztec or Mayan? And my Peruvian friend, huh, maybe she’s part Inca. Our social studies textbooks when we were kids may have made it seem like these civilizations all disappeared, but while the Spaniards, Portuguese, and other European colonizers may have killed tens of millions of people in the Americas, there are many millions of individuals descended from those peoples.
  • 11d. [Mass movement], AGNUS DEI. A Catholic/Latin thing that I don’t actually know anything about, other than that it means “lamb of God.”
  • 22d. [Rickrolling or the Dancing Baby, e.g.], MEME. Wow, old-school! Dancing Baby is from 1990s Ally McBeal, and Rickrolling is over a decade old.
  • 24d. [London or Manchester], WRITER. Jack London and … singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester? Not thinking of a book writer named Manchester.
  • 61d. [Sam Spade, e.g., informally], TEC. Isn’t this TEC’s second appearance in an NYT puzzle this week? At least this time it’s not in a puzzle that purports to be easy.

4.25 stars from me.

Tim Schenck’s Universal Crossword, “Stop Order”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Tim Schenk’s Universal Crossword, “Stop Order”–5-24-19, solution

Hmm. I believe I have seen a similar theme here or elsewhere recently. The reveal:

  • 38d [“Enough!”… or how to make sense of each starred answer] CUT IT OUT. The non-reveal themers:
  • 18a [*Religious houses] PRIORITIES. Why, that makes no sense … unless and until you cut IT out; then, you’re left with groups like the one Dan Brown wrote about in The Da Vinci Code.
  • 29a [*Sun shade] VISITOR. Who wants IT in a visor?
  • 42 [*Beekeeper’s injury] SITTING. Cutting IT out of sitting makes a sting.
  • 54 [*On the throne] REIGNITING. Without IT, reigning reigns.
  • 4 [*Not obvious] SUBTITLE. This one I worked on for a bit before figuring out the theme. I knew the answer had to be subtle, just didn’t know how subtle it was.

The editorial question is why are we inserting IT in these various words? I’ll let y’all discuss this.

Other stuff of note includes OINTMENT, NIGHTCAP, WANT AD, and OP ART.

3.5 stars.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Judge Vic’s writeup

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword, 5-24-19, solution

By my count, no fewer than 18 elegant ILSA’s inhabit this remarkable themeless crossword, which felt like a Monday Times difficulty, yielding to my plodding approach in just under nine minutes. Those, plus clues that kept me smiling throughout, made for a good start to a three-day weekend. Take a look (and I’ve decided not to type in the clues–I cannot copy-paste from this venue, and it takes too long with too much margin for error):

  • 19a HULA GIRL
  • 21a AT SEA
  • 22a OLD FOGY–I liked that the clue here was gender-neutral.
  • 23a MADE HAY–I liked that the clue here was non-racy.
  • 25a WAYLAY
  • 38a NEST EGGS
  • 45a DIEBOLD–Often, a single name can be an ILSA.
  • 48a BIG AND TALL
  • 52a I CAN’T DANCE
  • 1d TV SHOWS
  • 3d I TOLD YOU
  • 4d MEGA-FLOP–Arguably not an ILSA, since mega is a prefix, but what the heck. There’s bound to be a reason for an exclusion when the root word is equal to or shorter than the prefix.
  • 20d GO APE
  • 28d V-SIGN
  • 32d JUMBO CDS
  • 33d ELBOW OUT–Feels a tad green-painty, but has three things going for it: (a) gets lots of Google hits, (b) is recognized as idiomatic by The Free Dictionary, and (c) is not in the Urban Dictionary.
  • 34d TEA LEONI–What a great name, spelling-wise–5/8 vowels!

Great work, Patrick! 4.5 stars.

Jake Scheele’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Whirred Pairs”–Judge Vic’s write-up.

Jake Scheele’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Whirred Pears,” 5-24-19, solution

I like this crossword, but I have to start out with a nit. It’s a funny, punny puzzle, which depends for its primary effect on homophonics. And yet, it does the one consistently controversial thing that is so often done in this category of wordplay: It treats aitches (H’s) that are supposed to be pronounced as though they were silent. Whirred is not a homophone of word; nor is whales a homophone of Wales. For the balance of this review, I will adopt the “Close enough” principle and share with you the fun I had solving.

  • 15a [Rhyming nickname for the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner] RG III–Fun clue unlike any I’d seen for this answer, which has only appeared a small handful of times.
  • 17a [Sign a petition asking that a dress code allow short sleeves?] WRITE TO BARE ARMS–Great double-pun, this!
  • 20a [Co-star of 2019’s “Long Shot”] SETH ROGEN–I saw this movie a week ago … and laughed out loud in a theater shared by two other people.
  • 24a [Found a safe house for an agent from Prague?] CACHED THE CZECH–Even though I flew through this puzzle, when I faced this one, I’d not fully answered 17a. I didn’t get this one immediately, but I knew it had to have CZECH in it, and I knew 17a probably had WRITE in it. So, from this point on, I was alert for double-puns.
  • 42a [Art on a marine biologist’s walls?] PRINTS OF WHALES–This one I nailed and then was off to the races, for me, anyway–and I was, and still am, running late with my Fiendish sideline of puzzle reviewer.
  • 50a [It’s often said while raising a child?] UPSA DAISY–I had UPSY at first and, based on my hearing of this throughout my life, still believe that with UPSA, it’s a variant.
  • 56 [Round Table of wildebeest?] THE KNIGHTLY GNUS–Laughed out loud at this one! Reminded me of a gnus news theme puzzle I did years ago.
  • 4d [#1 hit used in “American Graffiti”] AT THE HOP–This song was huge in my childhood development. Or lack thereof.
  • 5d [Tweedy fellow in “The Wind in the Willows”] MR TOAD–This character was huge in my childhood development. Or lack thereof.
  • 29d [“Talking Into the ___ a Donkey” (Robert Bly book)] EAR OF–And I thought I was familiar will all of Bly’s body of work. Now, I must stop by the library later today. It’s nice to learn something from a paltry partial such as this.
  • 38d [“I can’t remember when I’ve had such fun!”] WHAT A GAS–This phrase was huge in my childhood development. Or lack thereof. Or was that phrase “Watt a gas!”?
  • 43d [“No harm done”] I’M OKAY–And so are you!

Nice job! (Except for that H thing.) 3.6 stars.

Evan Kalish’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

In a way, this puzzle theme is like those clue/answer reversal puzzles, but is far more interesting in a number of ways. All of the clues have the format “___ statement” but are all creative “?” style clues. The four answers all have punch too, particularly the opening and closing sixteens (!): [Mission statement?], REMEMBERTHEALAMO; and [Closing statement?], COMEBACKTOMORROW. The former I first encountered in the video game Scorched Earth, and only learnt of the context much later. The other pair is [Position statement?], YOUAREHERE and [Impact statement?], OWTHATHURTS.


  • [Muscle at one end of the Achilles tendon], CALF. More precisely, the gastrocnemius, which is a mouthful no matter which way you look at it.
  • [Baseball mascot originally titled “Lady”], MRSMET. I’m not going to look up how this differs from MRMET.
  • [La, in the key of E], CSHARP. This clue is greek to me. Answer is also a programming language, though normally styled C#.
  • [What many dress in during winter], LAYERS. Clever clue angle.
  • [Mixologist’s tools], BARSET. No idea what those could be. A mixologist is a bartender.
  • [Large animals whose taxonomic order is obsolete], PACHYDERM. Something of a zombie taxon, since it hasn’t been valid since the early 1800s. The elephants got their own order, the rhinos moved to the odd-toed ungulates, and the hippos to the even.
  • [Downer?], BLUER. Huhh?? That clue is seriously tortured.

4,5 Stars

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22 Responses to Friday, May 24, 2019

  1. arthur118 says:

    NYTimes 24d-
    Stan was most likely thinking of historian William Manchester. Best sellers featuring JFK, Churchill, MacArthur, et al

    • Lise says:

      William Manchester wrote “A World Lit Only By Fire”, a history of medieval times through the Renaissance. I am fascinated with that era. The fastest transportation was a horse; the loudest sound, a church bell.

      I enjoyed this puzzle; I erroneously think of Queen Victoria having lived long before 1819 and it’s good to be reminded of her place in the timeline of history.

      I also liked the cluing, which I found challenging but solvable. ? I wonder how tomorrow’s puzzle will compare (for me, anyway).

  2. Marty D says:

    NYT- Just right for a Friday puzzle. 60A- I had first started with Raritania, which led me to an interesting “country” on the northeast coast of NJ near Atlantic Highlands. With a population estimated as six, I wonder if they still have political divisiveness. ?

  3. GlennP says:

    NYT: if you look up Ruritania in Wikipedia, you’ll see examples of how jurists in international law use the fictional country in legal discussions.

    • Stephen B Manion says:

      I do not recall any use of Ruritania in an international case. I do recall The Prisoner of Zenda with James Mason and Deborah Kerr. In the early ’70s, I used to watch old movies on a New York channel. Mason was one of my favorites actors.

      Very easy puzzle for me this week.


      • David Steere says:

        Funny, Steve, that you refer to this 1952 version as an “old movie.” I share your admiration for James Mason in many roles. However, Stewart Granger (the lead) is no Ronald Colman and Deborah Kerr is no Madeleine Carroll (both from the 1937 version). For that matter, the 1952 players are no Lewis Stone, Ramon Navarro and Alice Terry (from the 1922 silent version). Not that you wanted to know any of this. ;-)

  4. DD says:

    Jenni, thanks for the link. Your talk is so important — one that everyone should have with loved ones *now*.

  5. DD says:

    WSJ: No review today?

    If anyone wants to explain the WSJ theme (for 5-24-19) to me, that’d be great …

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Contest puzzles are not reviewed/explained till after the contest deadline has passed. Check back Sunday evening for a stand-alone post about the WSJ contest puzzle.

      • DD says:

        Thank you for the info. (I’m new to the WSJ puzzle.)

        Also thank you for being patient with a newcomer, and for providing the WSJ puzzle in Across Lite.

  6. DD says:

    LAT: BAR SET is one of those stupid word-list terms that no one actually uses in conversation (they’re sets that contain bar tools — and a bartender at a hotel or restaurant doesn’t have his own tools, as chefs have their own knives). The term should be struck from the lists. As should MRS. MET.

    And why are people still clueing EMIL as NOLDE, who was a Nazi and a rabid anti-Semite? Really not a good idea in 2019, with right-wing-fueled hatred and attacks on the rise. How about Emil Jannings? Emil Constantinescu?

    Clever theme marred by substandard fill and poor clues.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I didn’t know of Nolde’s views. Must’ve annoyed him terribly to have Hitler and the Nazis ban his artwork as Degenerate.

    • David Steere says:

      I’m afraid switching to Emil Jannings is no improvement at all. While a great actor (in many silents and in THE BLUE ANGEL), he had his own serious Nazi past. After 1933, he made films in Germany promoting the Nazi regime.

      • DD says:

        Thanks for the info — something else I didn’t know.

        Well, there’s a first name that’s I hope not to see in another puzzle, but probably will.

  7. David L says:

    A nitpick in response to Judge Vic’s nitpick that whirred/word and Wales/whales are not homophones. They are perfect homophones for me (admittedly I am from the UK), but this wikipedia article discusses the pronunciation of ‘wh’ in the US and includes a map showing the area where the ‘w’ and ‘wh’ sounds are most distinct (mostly the southeast). In other parts of the country they have merged to varying degrees.

    • DD says:

      @David L: Your comment is timely for me, because I recently watched a British quiz show in which “Branagh” and “manner” were rhymed — valid in the UK but not in the US. Different linguistic issue, but interesting.

      I pronounce an initial “wh” and an initial “w” the same, but I can see the validity of Vic’s objection (and also see why some people might not).

  8. Noam D. Elkies says:

    CHE: nice theme — and yes, “whales” can be a homophone of “Wales” (e.g. Merriam-Webster recognizes “wāl” as an alternative pronunciation of “whale”, though it prefers “hwāl”). But no, the clue for 15A:RG_III is not “fun”. It’s barely even correct (would you call “APB” a rhyming acronym?). Plus it’s the most flustery of an entire fluster-cock-up of names in that tiny grid section. 5A:MAGDA, 5D:MR._TOAD, 8D:DIAN, and 15A:RG_III !? That’s at least two names too many — even if you recognize 20A:SETH_ROGEN. Choose a different 20A and start over.

  9. Ellen Nichols says:

    Jenni, thanks for your TED talk link. Maybe I will now finish the planning I started six ! years ago. My son and I are pretty much on the same page, but I need it formalized, especially since he now lives out of state.

    My mother had a DNR (do not resuscitate order) , and discussed it with both her children and our step dad. In the end, years later, it was implemented. She had rapidly deteriorated in mental state (3 months) and was clearly miserable in the nursing home, but unable to be anywhere else. (vascular dementia plus Parkinson’s) I feel for the 2 nurses who stood by with her during her heart attack, but I know that was what she wanted and it did end her suffering. I am sharing this to help others see the value.

  10. Dave S says:

    Gareth – C sharp is the 6th note of the musical scale E major (E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#-E), which is the equivalent of la (Do-re-mi–fa-sol-la-ti -Do).

  11. Lois says:

    I loved the NYT puzzle. The comments indicate that others enjoyed it, the ratings not so much. I guess it skewed old, and I’m grateful! As far as the “eyes/EYED dupe” that Amy mentions, I agree, and I would bet Newman does too, even if Will doesn’t.

    • Lois says:

      I also want to mention that I found the puzzle relatively easy, for me, that is (it took me a while). I can’t complete a Friday puzzle very often. Maybe it’s a fault of mine, but how well I do has an effect on how I respond to a puzzle.

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