Friday, August 30, 2019

Inkubator 6:07 (Jenni) 


LAT 5:24 (Jenni) 


NYT 5:39 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 6:54 (Ben) 


Universal 6:09 (Vic) 


Madeline Kaplan’s Inkubator crossword, “Border States”—Jenni’s write-up

This is another great offering from the Inkubator. I figured out the theme early on – or I thought I did!

Each theme answer contains a state abbreviation. The Across answer calls for the entire state name; the Down calls for the two-letter abbreviation.

Inkubator, August 30, 2019, Madeline Kaplan, “Border States”, solution grid

  • 14a [Katy Perry song ft. Snoop Dogg and creative spelling (and Left Shark)] is {CALIFORNIA} GURLS. It crosses 1d, [Garlicky crustacean sauté], which is S{CA}MPI. I realized it was a rebus with 1d, but I thought the state was SC.
  • 21a [Coen bros crime comedy about Hi and Ed] is RAISING {ARIZONA}, crossing 13d, [Desi of Desilu], ARN{AZ}. This is where I figured it out.
  • 36a [Golden Globe-nominated star of “BlacKkKlansman”] is JOHN DAVID {WASHINGTON}, crossing 32d [Slow-dances at prom, say], S{WA}YS.
  • 57a [Delicacy of the American Northeast] is {MAINELOBSTER, crossing 57d,  [Gourd-like head], {ME}LON.

Well-executed, solid, and fun theme!

A few other things:

  • 1a [Rapid deployment mission flown over 15,000 times by Tuskegee Airmen] is a great inclusive clue for SORTIES.
  • 7d [Make some noise, leos!] made me laugh. It’s ROAR.
  • 28a [Lower-level clearances?] did not make me laugh. It’s creative, though. The answer is ENEMAS.
  • 30d [#MyBodyIs___] MINE. The hashtag started in 2018 for International Women’s Day. Check it out on Twitter (content note: violence against women and the female-bodied).
  • 63a [Creative freedom] is what Tracy and Laura encourage in their constructors. Oh, the answer is LATITUDE.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Crissle WEST. Did not know Heidi Schreck won an OBIE (for writing “What The Constitution Means To Me”). And I’m ashamed to say I did not know JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON.

Trent Evans’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 30 19, no. 0830

All right, I solved the puzzle while watching The Boys (an Amazon Prime Video show) and now the show is over, so let me summon up some puzzle thoughts.

Newest-seeming entries:

  • 1a. [Certain “work spouse”], OFFICE WIFE. I’ve been working from home since before this concept—the “office wife” and “office husband,” straight, partnered people of different sexes who have some sort of workplace friendship that may or may not raise the specter of infidelity—was introduced. How problematic is it?
  • 64a. [Question always best answered “no”], “DO I LOOK FAT?” Ugh. No. I’d be fine never seeing this in another crossword.
  • 35d. [Dressed for the game], SUITED UP. Solid.
  • 47d. [“Take care!”], BE SAFE. Solid.

Entries I like: MELLO YELLO (gross fluid, mind you), EVIL GENIUS, SCAMPER (such a great verb), JUST SO, MOHEL, SNEAK PEEKS, FLINCH (you ever play the card game Flinch? My sister, cousin, and I played it a lot at our grandparents’ apartment), COCA-COLA, Katniss EVERDEEN.

Five more things:

  • 50a. [Island of myth in Homer’s “Odyssey”], AEAEA. Man! Been a while since I’ve seen that one. What’s the pronunciation?
  • 63a. [Like comments that require apologies], RUED. Although! Sometimes the person issues an apology just to get themselves out of trouble, and not because they actually regret what they said. Raise your hand if you filled in RUDE first.
  • 23d. [Consumes, biblically], EATETH. Yawn.
  • 57d. [Popular “Star Wars” doll], EWOK. “Popular” sort of connotes current popularity, no? How about [“Star Wars” doll that was popular about 35 years ago]?
  • 14d. [Common fix for computer problems], RESTART. Also for cellphones, apps, etc. And yet even though I know this, I generally resist taking that step! Who knows why.

Four stars from me.

Mark McClain’s Universal Crossword, “Internet Trading”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Mark McClain’s Universal Crossword, “Internet Trading,” Aug. 30, 2019, solution


Well, the reveal reads in full as follows:

  • 64 [Classic ISP … or, with = properly placed, this puzzle’s theme] AOL

The problem being that this doesn’t reveal anything to me (yet?) regarding the four true theme entries:

  • 20a [Recollection of a weak poker hand?] FOLDING MEMORY–So, I am supposed to put an equals sign in this phrase somewhere to come up with AOL? Cute clue and answer, although I cannot ID the answer as an in-the-language phrase. So, it’s gotta be something similar. Aha! Fading memory becomes folding memory if A in the former equals OL in the latter.
  • 36a [Successful freelance writer’s drawerful?] SOLD STORIESSad stories.
  • 44a [Security hardware at Dracula’s castle?] VAMPIRE BOLTVampire bat.
  • 60a [People who prefer to do crosswords on their computers?] SCREEN SOLVERSScreen savers.

I still feel a bit clueless. Is A=OL some logo-related AOLism? I did a quick search, but felt impaired in doing so for not knowing what body of general knowledge this theme comes from.

Anyhow, other stuff to consider includes JURY TRIAL and COMIC SANS, both excellent answers, and well-clued.

The rest of the fill is fine. CIARA felt new for me, though the database holds otherwise.

3.2 stars, trending upward if I can suss out the significance A=OL.

Joe Deeney’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I flew through this one.

Not really. I floundered around with several of the sections. It was a worthy struggle and I enjoyed the theme. Joe gives us literal definitions of idiomatic phrases that involve birds.

Los Angeles Times, Joe Deeney, 8/30/2019, solution grid

  • 18a [Fat flier?] is a ROUND ROBIN. I thought we were going for alliteration. Nope.
  • 26a [Frozen flier?] is a COLD TURKEY. As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
  • 40a [Feeble flier?] is a LAME DUCK. I don’t like the ableist use of LAME in this context, but it’s an idiom, so I’ll give it a pass.
  • 53a [Funny flier?] is a SILLY GOOSE. Once a goose showed up on our front lawn and my grandfather chased it off with a broom. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was very funny.
  • 64a [Frugal flier?] is a BUDGET HAWK.

Fun theme! The theme wasn’t challenging; some of the fill was.

A few other things:

  • 1a [Letters before QIA] are LGBT. Getting temporarily stumped on 1a always makes a puzzle feel harder. I enjoyed the “aha” moment with this one.
  • 1d [Sri Lankan primate] is a LORIS. When my kid was little, we had a picture book called “Slow LORIS.” We still use that when she dawdles, and she’s 19.
  • 7d [Fraternize] is HOBNOB. I love that word.
  • 37d [Far off] is A WAYS AWAY. That looked completely wrong for a while.
  • 47a [Eyes slyly] is PEEPS AT. I started with PEEK and then changed it to PEER. Eventually I figured out that 48d, [Mature leader?] is PRE. Duh.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that NEYO has a song called “So Sick” and that Phil and LIL are twins on “Rugrats.”

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Ben’s review

New Yorker 8/30/19

Elizabeth C. Gorski has today’s New Yorker puzzle, and this one feels like a rare miss for me.  Unlike the usual high-low blend I associate with the New Yorker’s themelesses, this was all squarely in the middle and kind of blah.

  • Big anchors in this puzzle were FINAL EPISODE (in reference to MASH), THAT FEELING WHEN (a popular meme starter, but I’m not sure that qualifies it for fill status, especially because it’s usually abbreviated down to TFW), and NONVERSATION (which I like as a bit of coinage but hadn’t seen before)
  • I’m trying to figure out if cluing ELEV as “Hgt.” and HGT as “Elev.” was meant to be clever.  It didn’t work for me, and the rest of the grid felt too overrun with crosswordese like STIC, ERTE, NOEL, ERR, LTDS, ORE, NER, etc.
  • The NYT just had the same Eliza Doolittle-referencing clue for ENRY and it didn’t work for me there, either.

This left me underwhelmed, and felt like it was missing the literary/current events slant that this venue’s tended to take that have made it stick out to me.

SIMPLY RED, everyone!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

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26 Responses to Friday, August 30, 2019

  1. Stephen B Manion says:

    This was one of the easiest Fridays I can remember.
    I did insert RUDE, but that was my only misstep.
    Most Hail Mary passes are rainbows, so it is hard to argue with ARCED, but it seems to bring up a trivial aspect of the play at the expense of its character as a long last second effort.
    Of all the plays that the New England Patriots and it seems only the Patriots have benefited from over the years (tuck rule, cheating scandals), my number one was when they called pass interference against the Buffalo Bills on a Patriots Hail Mary pass. Does anyone recall another such call?
    This was one of the few puzzles in the past year that I wasn’t happy with the sports clues. A hop is only difficult for an infielder if it is an in between hop or a bad hop. A short hop or a routine hop is very easy to handle.


    • M.Gritz says:

      That Pats-Bills call and end of game situation must be 20 years old now. Still the only time in football I’ve seen a team leave the field early in protest.

    • Billy Boy says:

      ARC is real knee-jerk stuff, it only follows that ARCED will be as well. HOP is of the identical ilk.

      Clues sometimes merely are there to fit in pet words; witness in NYT: ILIAC which more correctly is answered COXAL. Orthopedic liberties in crosswords is rampant.

      Must watch the storm track, ta-ta all.

  2. Lise says:

    I loved the Inkubator; what a clever and satisfying theme, with excellent cluing. I could have done without ENEMAS at breakfast, though. Or anytime. I hope to see more from Ms. Kaplan.

    I looked up AEAEA on Wikipedia to see how to pronounce it, but that wasn’t helpful, as I have trouble understanding their pronunciation symbols. It seems to be something like “aieeeee-a”. With maybe fewer “ee”s.

    Anyway. I liked the NYT, with the exception of the question always best answered “no”. Why would you even ask that? Sheesh. But it was nice to see Maurice SENDAK, and the clue for 2d (“101, 102, and others”) led me to two wrong answers (“intros” and “levels”, thinking of college courses) before I got FEVERS (it was some time before I thought of OFFICE WIFE). Good misdirection there.

    This feels like a good Friday, and a nice start to Labor Day weekend. People in the path of Dorian, I hope you stay safe. Fingers crossed.

  3. Brad says:

    Reminder that the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle has gone dark for Aug. 23 and 30 but resumes weekly puzzles on Sept. 6. The September 6 puzzle, by Olivia Mitra Framke, will be available here as usual in a few days.

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    Lovely New Yorker….except that 44d is wrong. The AORTA is not part of the heart. It arises from the heart, but it is a separate structure. OTOH, NONVERSATION will keep me smiling all day.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Loved seeing THAT FEELING WHEN, LINDY West, and CELESTE Ng getting the spotlight.

      But cluing clunky abbrevs HGT and ELEV with [Elev.] and [Hgt.], respectively, felt wrong rather than clever, and the grid’s got about 20 proper nouns, which means the people who tend not to know names (which is not me! I fly through most of the names in crosswords) will be grumpy about this puzzle. Plural SHAWNS at 1-Across is a rough start, and ERTE ONEONTA SERI OREN ENRY feel overused in crosswords relative to their impact in culture.

      • Billy Boy says:

        Gosh, I’m glad you said that, I feel as if I am missing something half the time with NYM puzzles. Some are really fun/great/entertaining and other times we get a lot of really clunky fill with some really obscure words and (as Jenni pointed out AORTA ) – totally wrong answers.

        Is it just growing pains for a new editor? That was a somewhat bizarre puzzle today. (This from a upper-medium level solver with zero construction experience and a far too large vocabulary? Because of the over-used stuff, the longest answers were very easy to suss.


      • Alan D. says:

        Totally agree with ELEV and HGT clued with each other seeming terribly wrong. That would be like clueing CAT as “Dog foe” and DOG as “Cat foe” in the same grid. Not done.

    • Zulema says:

      In the New Yorker puzzle there were just too many names, and of course names I never heard of. No classical music, what happened?

  5. Joe Cabrera says:

    For “Longest continuous sponsor of the Olympics since 1928” I quickly wrote COACHELA without even thinking or checking spelling.

    Don’t judge me!

  6. Pseudonym says:

    lat was tougher than the nyt – keep em coming

  7. Cynthia says:

    Vic, for the Universal, I just interpreted “A=OL” as a hint that in the theme entries for this puzzle, A is replaced by OL. I don’t know if there’s any more to it than that.

    • Norm says:

      A = OL is reasonable crossword-ese for A becomes OL. It was cute, and the theme answers were all in the language. Excellent puzzle for what it was, which is a relatively easy one 7 days a week. This one was very enjoyable.

  8. RM Camp says:

    Didn’t get NYT 11a… CBER? Had to look it up. Then it hit me; ohhh, *CB*er, *handle*, got it, ugh. Can’t use age as an excuse, 1981 is ‘70s-adjacent enough to be aware of Convoys and Smokey and Bandits and ham radios and all that. Oof.

  9. PJ says:

    Inkubator – Nice theme. I got off on the wrong foot with SC in 1 instead of CA in 14.

    I’m not a fan of RUBES.

  10. anon says:

    Inkubator: MR. BILL was not claymation, but just straight up clay (with live action Mr. Hands). I enjoyed seeing this entry in the grid.

  11. Norm says:

    Inkubator: The write-up missed 2 of the 6 themers — viNYl/[NEW YORK] ISLANDERS and speAKs/BAKED [ALASKA]. And all six states are border states on the map and in the grid. And all the rebuses are symmetrical. Come on! Give this puzzle some love.

  12. Gareth says:

    My favourite LA Times theme for some time, particularly the repurposing of BUDGETHAWK.

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