Friday, August 16, 2019

CHE 14:11 (Vic) 


Inkubator 6:45 (Jenni) 


LAT 4:07 (Jenni) 


NYT 4:56 (Amy) 


The New Yorker tk (tbd) 


Universal 5:59 (Vic) 


Niamh Girling and Mira Martin-Gray’s Inkubator crossword, “Get With the Program”—Jenni’s write-up

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. The Inkubator team tells us that Niamh and Mira “love crosswords and each other.” I look forward to seeing more from them – this one was great!

Each theme answer is a portmanteau including the name of a popular app – and not the kind you eat.

Inkubator, August 16, 2019, Niamh Girling and Mira Martin-Gray, “Get With the Program,” solution grid

  • 21a [Fashion line with free messages?] is WHATSAPPAREL.
  • 26a [Butterflies in your avatar?] are BITMOJITTERS.
  • 48a [How to use emojis in a sentence?] is INSTAGRAMMAR.
  • 54a [French manors that disappear after a short time?] are SNAPCHATEAUX. This is my favorite.

They’re all amusing, they all make sense within the parameters of the theme, and they were fun to solve.

A few other things:

  • Not crazy about ALPOS for 14a [Some dog foods].
  • 12a [Woman behind a “Great” man?] is ROXANA. She married Alexander the Great.
  • Y’ALL COME [ “___ back now, y’hear?”] is worth having a partial in the clues.
  • Not sure I buy [Break to catch up on some Zs] as a clue for R AND R. I think of that as vacation, not a nap. I’m spending this weekend in NYC for Lollapuzzoola and other fun things. That’s R AND R but won’t involve any more Zs than usual. Possibly fewer Zs.
  • 42a [Likely result of shitty behavior] is BAD KARMA. One can hope.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of NETTIE Stevens, who discovered the X and Y chromosomes. I have also never heard of Dolorous EDD.

Ori Brian’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 16 19, no. 0816

What, did someone bet the constructor that he couldn’t include a critical mass of dudebro fill in a single puzzle? Because this puzzle is has testosterone seeping from its orifices. LAD MAG, STAN LEE, MALE EGO, PETER ROGET, JESUS and ABEL, MAN-BUN, BEER KEGS that were probably ordered by dudes, DUDES, MAILMEN duping the MAN of MAN-BUN, Thomas NAST, honorific SRI not used for women, MONKS, OLDS, and even a male swan, or COB. And in the clues, we find Pecos Bill, Freud, Cocteau, Kevin Bacon, Ford, Packard, Disney, and not-real-people Fido, Santa Claus, and Babe the Blue Ox.

I haven’t seen the new issue of Wired magazine and the article’s not posted online yet, but there’s an article that I think focuses on Rebecca Falcon’s critiques of representation and the lack thereof in crossword puzzles. This puzzle has a handful of women (mostly fictional) in it, but nowhere near the onslaught of male terms and names. I wasn’t even giving dudely credit for AMMO and GTOS, and the scales were still tipped all the way over.

Five other things:

  • 35a. [Digital photo add-on], INSTAGRAM FILTER. I just can’t summon up an interest in Insta. I think two forms of social media is my limit, and I’m more text-oriented than image-.
  • 54a. [One who might get you into hot water?], CANNIBAL. Gross. Also, some contend that it’s boiling oil and you’re being deep-fried rather than boiled. Who likes boiled meat?
  • 31d. [Craft shop item with a seemingly redundant name], GLUE STICK. Never thought of that—that STICK in GLUE STICK also describes what you use the GLUE STICK to do.
  • 37a. [Best-selling author who used an awful lot of commas], PETER ROGET. The thesaurus generally being a bunch of lists of words separated by commas. Interesting angle.
  • 8d. [Capital of Bolivia?], BEE. As in the letter B. Though in Spanish, the letter is spelled out as be.

2.5 stars from me because of dudebro fatigue. There needs to be a balance between “fresh fill” and “fill that basically tells women to keep out.”

Christopher Adams ‘s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Knot Applicable”–Judge Vic’s write-up.

Christopher Adams ‘s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Knot Applicable,” Aug. 16, 2019, solution

THEME: Here we have a rebus with colors in each of four squares. And, as I begin to write this, I cannot yet suss out how this relates to the title. So, let’s do some exploring, starting with the reveal:

  • 36 [Game whose spinner might specify the appendage-and-color pairings in four of this puzzle’s squares] TWISTER. Not a game I’ve played much of.
  • [What new coworkers hope to get off on] THE GREEN. “Get off on the right foot” comes to mind. But this answer is up in the left corner. Knot? Appendage?
  • 19a [Seuss book read by senator Ted Cruz during his Obamacare filibuster] GREEN EGGS AND HAM. A fave of mine from kid lit.
  • 10d [Highest-charting Fab Four song to feature Ringo singing lead] YELLOW SUBMARINE
  • 10a [Southpaw] YELLOWER. A southpaw throws with her left hand; she’s a left-hander. This answer is in the upper right.
  • 27d [He’s “under a haystack fast asleep”] LITTLE BOY BLUE
  • 64a [Biopic that led to Daniel Day-Lewis’s first Oscar] MY BLUE.  My Left Foot is somehow involved here.
  • 57d [Bro serving as a trusted assistant] RED MAN. Right-hand man, maybe? I am so confused. It’s been a long week.
  • 52a [“Rosy” moniker for Ithaca college sports] CORNELL BIG RED

Well, one either gets it or one doesn’t. And I don’t, so I look forward to y’all explaining it to me.

Other stuff I took note of includes:

  • 37d [Utterly unpredictable, as a political race] WIDE OPEN. Nice. Though, I don’t want the race I am in right now to be wide open.
  • 44d [Naval construction crew] SEA BEES
  • 4d [Do a surfing maneuver] HANG TEN
  • 8d [“See you then!”] IT’S A DATE

I’m withholding a star count until I understand the puzzle. It’s been a long week! did I say that already?

Now that the theme has been explained to me, I am awarding 4.2 stars. Great puzzle!

Christopher Adams’s Universal Crossword, “Many Happy Returns”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Christopher Adams’s Universal Crossword, “Many Happy Returns,” Aug. 16, 2019, solution

Five kinds of taxes, as indicated by circled letters in the theme answers:

  • 17a *Ready to go on stage IN COSTUME. Income tax.
  • 25a *Seashore sculptures SAND CASTLES. Sales tax.
  • 32a *Hit the gym EXERCISE. Excise tax.
  • 41a *Ballpark figure ESTIMATE, Estate tax.
  • 49a *Celtics great Bird, to fans LARRY LEGEND. Land tax, which I never hear anyone say. We say real estate tax or property tax in these parts. You? Let me not forget the reveal:
  • 60 April boons, and a hint to the starred answers’ circled letters TAX BREAKS.

Okay. Works for me, though I gotta wonder why this puzzle didn’t run in April, the stereotypical tax month, rather than August, well into millions of taxpayers’ extension periods. At 9-11-8-8-11-9, this theme would not be expected to allow the grid to yield much else in the way of crunchy fill. But, Y’KNOW, for this puzzle, I DEEM that an incorrect assumption.

I’m looking at



And the AL ROKER ART SALE TEST KIT ADDS TO EMIRATE, BENELUX, ARCSINEYEOH, RETTA, ESPOSOS, and OERTER. That last answer/name makes me think of folks in my childhood who said, “Ye oerter know betttern to do that!”


3.7 stars

Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up

Each theme answer is a piece of apparel clued in an overly literal manner.

Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2019, Bruce Haight, solution grid

  • 17a [Railway inspector’s attire?] are TRACK SHOES.
  • 22a [Blackjack dealer’s attire?] are DECK PANTS.
  • 33a [Corporate director’s attire?] are BOARD SHORTS.
  • 49a [Toothpaste maker’s attire?] are TUBE SOCKS.
  • 57a [Roadside mechanic’s attire?] are FLARE JEANS. This one’s a clunker. I would say “FLARED,” not FLARE, and Google Ngram viewer agrees with me.

Four out of five solid, amusing answers.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Congress, with “the”] is HILL. We also have [Floor support?] for YEA and SESSION clued as [Word with jam or joint].
  • 33d [Game involved in several Costner films] is BASEBALL. The Yankees will play the White Sox at the “Field of Dreams” field in Iowa next season.
  • 35d [Like four midyear months] is R-LESS. The Inkubator had R MONTHS clued with a reference to oyster-eating. Crossword coincidences!
  • 39a [Lead-in to X, Y or Z] is GEN.
  • 52d [Word containing three of itself] is ESSES. This confused me. ESSES is plural, and “itself” seems to imply the singular. I suspect I am overthinking this.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that H G WELLS‘ initials stand for Herbert George.

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22 Responses to Friday, August 16, 2019

  1. arthur118 says:

    Repeat of a recent problem; stats from a different day?

  2. Pseudonym says:

    Toughest Friday NYT in recent memory for me. Some clever clues but felt heavyish on the trivia, didn’t enjoy the solve. I understand the complaint but 2.5 seems unfairly low.

    • Norm says:

      Or high. I loathed this puzzle.

    • David L says:

      Took me a long time to get the SW corner, and I finished with an error. I had ALMS at 32D and thus INSTAGRAMFILLER for 35A, which seemed perfectly reasonable to me, seeing as I know nothing about Instagram.

      The “for short” bit of the clue for the 32D should have made me rethink, but checking all the words didn’t enlighten me as to my error.

  3. CC says:

    Re: CHE’s puzzle: here’s the explanation…

    Took me a sec, but you have to replace a specific appendage–specifically, either your right foot, right hand, left foot, or left hand–with the colors in the shorter intersecting rebus answers. And that fits with the theme of TWISTER.

    Which is also to say, those shorter intersecting rebus answers are misleading in that 2 of 3 of them could be a taken as common phrases, but aren’t.

    So, once you make the substitutions, the clues make sense. Thus:

    1d [What new coworkers hope to get off on] THE GREEN -> swap GREEN for RIGHT FOOT -> THE RIGHT FOOT (or what new coworkers hope to get off on). Also represents “RIGHT FOOT GREEN” as part of Twister.

    10a [Southpaw] YELLOWER -> swap YELLOW for LEFT HAND -> LEFTHANDER (or a southpaw). Corresponds to “LEFT HAND YELLOW” from Twister.

    64a [Biopic that led to Daniel Day-Lewis’s first Oscar] MY BLUE -> swap BLUE for LEFT FOOT -> MY LEFT FOOT (or the biopic in the clue). Corresponds to “LEFT FOOT BLUE” in Twister.

    57d [Bro serving as a trusted assistant] RED MAN -> swap RED for RIGHT HAND -> RIGHT-HAND MAN. Corresponds to RIGHT HAND RED from Twister. (Which… yeeeesh that’s an oversight, because I had the same reaction: are you really going with a clue/answer combo that’s skirting inappropriate reference to Native Americans?)

    That misstep aside, I’m impressed with the finds of four in-language phrases that include “left foot,” “left hand,” “right foot,” and “right hand.”

    • Victor Fleming says:

      Thanks. I amended the write-up before reading your fine explanation. Should never have posted it last night. Awoke with insights that still fell short of knowing how to play Twister, including that I had considerable errata in the write-up, independent of my ignorance. This, too, shall pass. I hope.

    • Pseudonym says:

      Best gimmick puzzle I’ve seen in a while.

    • M483 says:

      I think the puzzle title, “knot,” means that the ” right foot green” square is in the upper left corner of the twister mat. Ergo, if you put each appendage in the spot on the mat indicated by the theme answers, your body will be in a “knot.”

    • Moss says:

      Worst gimmick puzzle I’ve seen in a while.

      • David R says:

        Further proof that it is one of the best gimmick puzzles. The CHE keeps up its tradition of giving us some fresh ideas, keep them coming.

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      I doubt that “[YELLOW]ER”, “[RED]_MAN”, etc. were part of the intention (what would “MY_[BLUE]” mean?). I didn’t even consider those possibilities because I saw 1D:THE_[RIGHT_FOOT] and 57D:[RIGHT-HAND]_MAN before figuring out the Across entries through the rebus squares 19/57. Once I saw 36A:TWISTER, it was clear what was going to happen — though naturally I don’t remember which color goes with which appendage in that game, so I had to take on faith the correctness of the grid’s pairings. FWIW “REDMAN” suggests to me jazz saxophonist (and Harvard graduate) Joshua Redman, not Native Americans. I see that there’s also Yet Another Rapper who goes by the stage name Redman. Each of them happens to be a black man (curious that “black man” and “white man” are acceptable while “red man” is inappropriate, but I digress).

      Nice for the CHE to have a college team (52:CORNELL_BIG_[RED]) as a theme entry. Not so nice to dredge up a random 19th-century university president to clue 40A:SETH, which has a perfectly good Biblical clue (brother of Cain and Abel) besides the litany of showbiz clues that xwordinfo turns up. But that’s a small blemish on a largely enjoyable execution of a creative puzzle theme.


  4. Amy L says:

    NYT: This was a tough one. I must say I liked the male vibe. It gave the puzzle some character. Much was unflattering (I still see man buns around). I’d like to see a female equivalent puzzle.

    Funny that I always thought it was “Pierre” Roget, but he was born in London and went by Peter.

  5. Pseudonym says:

    The clue for ATMS in the NYT was “Helps for short people, for short”. Shouldn’t it be “help” or do I need to enroll in an ESL class?

    • R says:

      “Helps” is correct as an awkward plural noun here. “Help” would be much more natural, but the plural is there to clue the plural answer ATMS. There are plenty of less awkward ways to clue this, but today they went for maximum awkwardness. No ESL needed, just a little more effort to parse bad clues.

  6. Billy Boy says:

    NYT – hilariously male-(un)balanced, will we see spontaneous combustion on a blog somewhere? OA couple of clues were definitely tilted to the younger half of solvers, giving me some hiccups. Had to resort to the multi-coloured G for help.

  7. Dan Asimov says:

    Every last puzzle must have a gender balance? And a puzzle is not allowed to have a mini-theme? That doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

  8. Len Elliott says:


    21-A clue: San Jose skaters

    46-D entry: skates

  9. Ellen Nichols says:

    In 3 of the 4 puzzles I solved today, I encountered the mutinous computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey. !

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