Lynn Lempel’s Inkubator puzzle, “Miss Out”—Jenni’s review
Two Lynn Lempel puzzles in one week! Yay!
This is a classic Lempel: smooth, fun, accessible, and amusing. Each theme answer is missing a feminine pronoun (the “miss” who is “out) and wackiness results.
- 18a [Bunch of soused crooks?] is a PICKLED RING (herring).
- 24a [A jocular Tarzan swinging through the jungle?] has WIT ON THE VINE (wither).
- 52a [What cosmologists strive to understand?] is THE WHOLE BANG (shebang).
- 61a [French fries for Alfred E. Neuman?] are MAD POTATOES (mashed).
And we have two revealers: 39a [Candy company whose name includes this puzzle’s missing pair] is HERSHEY and 32a [With 46-Across, 2012 best seller with a hint to what’s missing in the four longest Across answers] is GONE GIRL.
That’s a lot of theme material, and it requires a fair number of familiar three-letter entries like ESL, TAO, and NIL, as well as the clunky partial IT A (for 65a. “Keep ___ secret!”). I think it’s worth it for a creative and solid theme.
A few other things:
- 7d [Lowdown joint?] is not a dive bar, but an ANKLE.
- This is an Inkubator puzzle, so WAR HERO is clued with Joan of Arc and Nancy Wake.
- LIV Ullman appears as a director rather than an actor.
- I filled in 46d from crossings and couldn’t figure out what a GOBY was. Turns out it’s [Elapse], or GO BY.
- 70a [Sales receipts for pettipants, perhaps] are SLIPS. Cute.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Toni Morrison was born in Ohio, that Ossie Davis directed “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” and most strikingly I’d never heard of the aforementioned Nancy Wake. She was a native New Zealander who fought with the French maquis during WWII – and that doesn’t begin to describe her achievements and exploits. Thanks, Lynn, for bringing her to my attention.
Michael Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
I don’t know, folks. I just didn’t enjoy this puzzle. I see some fill I like—“DO ME A SOLID,” BOOK CLUBS, OPEN DEBATE, VOICE ACTOR, “DON’T I KNOW IT?!” (overlapping, alas, with crosser I SAW and nearby I’M A), DINE AND DASH, and ADULTING. But overall, I felt grumbly throughout the solve.
- 10d. [Stiff a restaurant], DINE AND DASH. If you do this, you are a dirtball. You’re generally not stiffing the restaurant, as the money often comes out of the wages/tips of your server.
- 28a. [United Christendom movement], ECUMENISM. I feel like this term is markedly less common than ecumenical.
- 48a. [Kind of replication], RNA. Ugh. I don’t like this clue. XEROXING would be a workable answer, as that’s actually replicating. This is one of those “sea anemone clues”—like cluing SEA as a [Kind of anemone] instead of using a more accurate fill-in-the-blank. Although I don’t know that RNA replication is a standard thing.
- 15d. [Lead-in to a meal?], OAT. A terrific alternative to saying grace!
- 21d. [May in England], THERESA. I was in England in May 2007, and it was the only time in my life I’ve had seasonal allergies. Now I’m feeling allergic to the Tories in general.
- 27d. [Speedster], FAST CAR. This entry feels green-painty unless you clue it as the Tracy Chapman song.
- 46d. [One going over the line], EDITOR. Yes. We can often make it clearer, more concise, and more in line with in-house style.
Three stars from me.
MaryEllen Uthlaut’s Universal Crossword, “Easy as 1-2-3″—Judge Vic’s write-up
Fun! Let’s see if I can figure this out as I solve. I see a bunch of starred clues:
- 8a [*Insomniacs] SHEEP–What do insomniacs and sheep have in common? Other than that someone who cannot sleep might count sheep?
- 13 [*Dieters] CALORIES–Oops! And dieters count calories.
- 18 [*Census takers] RESIDENTS–Census takers administer questionnaires–Quit! They count residents.
- 37 [*Umpires] BALLS AND STRIKES–Well, umps actually call balls and strikes, but by now we know the word we’re supposed to come up with is count. This is the lone ILSA in the theme bunch.
- 50 [*Thankful souls] BLESSINGS–Count your blessings, you thankful soul. I’d so much rather this clue have been [Thankful people].
- 65 [*Blackjack players] CARDS–A bit random, this clue seems. In a sense, the player of any card game counts the cards. And the average blackjack player, I would think, is more into counting points.
- 64a [Serving surfaces … or, in another sense, what the starred clues are for their answers] COUNTERS
Elsewhere we find some RED TAPE, though not MORE THAN we can handle. And, the symmetrically placed ORIGINAL EASEMENT could, I suppose, be an Edenic reference.
With a paucity of ILSA’s in the fill, the puzzle has an unexciting look. If you fill that void with the missing word, then it has a redundant feel to it. It’s given me an idea for a similarly-themed puzzle, which I hope to work on next month.
Jeff Stillman’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Landing Page”–Judge Vic’s write-up.
Theme: D-Day code words in first position of two-word ILSA’s.
So, I didn’t finish well. The aggregation in the upper left of EDWIN (Drood), YOSHI (the dino), and SWORD LILY had me guessing even after I’d figured out the theme. Yet and still, it’s one of the better D-Day themes of the week.
- 17a [*Gladiolus, by another name] SWORD LILY
- 26a [*NBA team formerly based in New Orleans] UTAH JAZZ
- 44a [*Paste-on kindergarten commendation] GOLD STAR
- 11d [*Canadian recording-industry coup] JUNO AWARD
- 33d [*Poker variety] OMAHA HI-LO
- 58a [Invasion site represented by the 75-year-old code words] leading the answers to the starred clues D-DAY BEACH
IN SHORT, nicely done! This cook learned about EGG WASH and DHOTI.
My least faves were PSHAWS, ARGUS, PUPAS, and TANYAS.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Laura’s review
Five interesting things:
- [31a: Pulitzer-prize winning writer of “The Sympathizer”]: VIET THANH NGUYEN. He gave a keynote at the last library conference I attended. Amazing writer, amazing speaker, and I’m super psyched that Natan chose him as a marquee entry.
- [18a: “Used to sell dope just to feed the ___/ Matchbox jumping with the kilograms”: Rick Ross]: FAM. Lyrics from a song called “Carol City,” which is a neighborhood in Miami, hometown of Ross and also the artist Flo Rida. I like the term fam as an alternative to the gendered “you guys” or “y’all” (which I feel a little odd using as a Midwesterner-slash-New Yorker).
- Lots of art and literature in this grid, what with FRIDA KAHLO, INTAGLIO, SIENESE, THOREAU, and LHOSA.
- [21a: Go over the manuscript again]: REEDIT threw me off, because I kept parsing it as REED IT, which could be clued as [Play the oboe, slangily].
- [54a: Role-playing-same locales]: DUNGEONS. After its 1970s-80s advent, Dungeons and Dragons is experiencing a renaissance. Sure, there were plenty of people who continued to play post their stereotypical adolescent heyday, but it’s now become entrenched in popular culture as a family game. (Personal note: We’re starting to play at home with the fam.)
- Okay, six things. [45a: Talia’s “Rocky” role]: ADRIAN. Here you go:
Bruce Haight’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Unless I’m missing something, this is not the most ambitious addition theme ever. I see +S, but with spelling changes, except the first time. So: (S)LUMBERJACK, (SLEEP)LEAPOFFAITH, (SNOOZE)NEWSWORTHY (presumably people pronounce it snyooze?) and (SNORE)NOREASTER; and yes, using SNORE as an adjective is incredibly awkward.
Am I the only one who really struggled in the JJWATT, JANIE, ONTHEDL area. Finally recalling SEGAL unravelled things, albeit slowly. ONTHEDL is a synonym for ONTHEQT in my world.
CHE – Great minds really do think alike. Just ask Jeff Stillman and Fred Piscop (see yesterday’s NYT).
Sorry New Yorker. “HAND” does not in any way mean Giveto.
“Hand me the broom” = “Give the broom to me”
So yes, it fails the substitution test. Hand = Give, but not “Give to”. Bad entry, bad clue.
Andy, that example doesn’t make your point. Shuffle the words to make the phrases similar, and you’ll see:
—— Hand … me … the broom.
—— Give to … me … the broom.
The true equivalent phrases are either “Hand me the broom / Give me the broom” or “Hand the broom to me / Give the broom to me.” So “hand = give” and “hand to = give to” but “hand (does not equal) give to”.
The clue for this answer didn’t work. Weird that TNY didn’t catch that.
re: Universal – Card counting is a technique used to try to gain an edge over the house – you keep a running total of the # of low value and high value cards that come out. When the count is high enough (i.e. the proportion of 10s/aces is high), you can eke out a small edge over the house w/ proper play.
Universal: Yeah, card counting as a technique to increase one’s odds has a specific, well-established meaning when it comes to blackjack. I suppose some variation of counting cards could be used with other games but I believe it’s most closely associated with blackjack.
Bridge players count cards too, although it’s not regarded as a special thing, just part of the game. There are various ways of signaling to your partner how many cards you hold in a given suit, in order to help with defense.
Re: LAT, all of the S-addition words have to do with bedtime: Slumber, Sleep, Snooze, Snore
SIENESE crossing VIET THANH NGUYEN? Are you kidding me? It didn’t help that I had DOPEY instead of DOTTY, but even so, come on. I’m a Natan Last fan but this puzzle was not pleasant.
I had a very similar experience. I was definitely just guessing letters on that crossing. I had Dopey for a while too.
if anyone named Viet and/or Thanh and/or Nguyen reads this (and the odds aren’t bad, as these are not uncommon names) please know there is nothing unpleasant about your name
Amen. Still, the puzzle itself was, IMO, the most unpleasant kind of trivia-fest.
While I did have an error here (VIET-TRANH NGUYEN seemed believable), it mostly just reminded me I need to check out his book!
I confidently filled on ONTHEIL for LAT’s 44d. MLB retitled the DL (disabled list) to the injured list (IL) starting in the 2019 season. The puzzle may have been constructed prior to the start of the current season, but I was disappointed that the answer was not made current.
Except the clue specifically said previous baseball lingo.
RNA REPLICATION is definitely a “thing”. A search would confirm that.
As the coiner of the term “sea anemone clue,” I will agree with Amy that this is a clear example. Even though RNA replication is arguably a thing (although it’s more accurately RNA-mediated replication), “RNA” is not a species of replication. Rather, the solver must recognize the convention that “kind of” means “word that may precede.”
It is that — a convention — so the clue is proper. But those of us who find these clues unsatisfying are reacting, I believe, to them being one of the rare exceptions to the rule that American crossword clues do not rely on convention, but are grammatically precise. Since RNA is not a kind of replication — rather, “RNA replication” is a phrase — sans the special signal of “kind of,” this clue would be mal-formed.
Gareth, regarding “snyooze”: No, because most Americans pronounce “news” as “nooz.” Brits have been known to find this quite funny. We also say “dook,” “Toozday,” “stoodent,” and “stoopid.” And most of us can’t hear the difference if it’s pointed out to us. (Though we can hear the difference between “hue” and “who.”) :)
Jenni, based I think you were the person who suggested the 0.9 pencils to me while seated next to one another at the Indie 500. Total game changer after only ever solving in pen. Thanks!