Friday, September 20, 2019

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 4:33 (Jenni) 


NYT 5:00 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 5:58 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (Rebecca) 


Luke Vaughn’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 20 19, no. 0920

Oops, it’s getting late. Time to get this post published! Let’s be brief.

Fave fill: SPEED DATES, HEAVEN-SENT, “OVER TO YOU,” literary PICARESQUE, ATHLEISURE (if you haven’t heard this term before, well, now you have, so don’t whine), the CHEAP SEATS, the dreaded TENSION HEADACHE, and wrinkly SHAR-PEIS.

Did not know: 4d. [Journalist whose mother, father, sister and husband all won Nobel Prizes], EVE CURIE. What a fascinating life she led!

Unsure about: 5d. [Infamous], DETESTED. You can be known for doing bad things without being outright DETESTED, no?

Don’t care for: 32a. [Cinephile], MOVIE FAN. Movie buff or film buff, maybe. “Movie fan” feels like a wishy-washy phrase that doesn’t rise to the level of being crosswordable.

Three more things:

  • 42a. [Home of the Big Bear ski resort, informally], SOCAL. Ha, with SOC in place, I very nearly pictured the Russian bear and filled in SOCHI, which is not an informal name, but who actually reads to the end of every clue? Not I.
  • 26d. [Parent company of Mack Trucks], VOLVO. Yep, I filled in TONKA at first. The toy brand. Yes, I know Mack Trucks are large vehicles.
  • 45a. [___ Chandler, four-term U.S. senator who helped found the Republican Party], ZACHARIAH. Never heard of him. My go-to ZACHARIAHs are a high school classmate and the YA novel Z for Zachariah that I read around age 12 (it was adapted into a movie just a few years ago). Also did not know golfer LYDIA Ko. So that’s three people in today’s puzzle who were new to me.

3.8 stars from me. How’d it treat you?

Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword, “Grow Up!”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: The top of each theme is a crop

Universal crossword solution · Evan Kalish · “Grow Up!” · Fri., 9.20.19


  • 3D [*”What I’m hearing is …”] SO YOU SAY
  • 9D [*Inauguration recital] OATH OF OFFICE
  • 21D [*Pool shark’s call] CORNER POCKET
  • 25D [*Actor Wil] WHEATON
  • 40D [Navel-revealing shirts, and a hint to each starred answer’s first few letters] CROP TOPS

This is a CUTE theme, but with the theme answers hidden in the downs, I had solved much of the puzzle without seeing them, which meant for me it was a theme that’s enjoyable after you solve, more so than one that assists in solving. CROP TOPS is a great entry in general and was the perfect descriptor for a fun selection of answers.

If I’m picking NITS, I would say that having long down answers the same length as CROP TOPS and SO YOU SAY right beside those answers, made the theme stand out less, but TOREADOR and I LOVED IT are strong enough that it didn’t bother me too much.

Since I spent much of the puzzle not seeing the theme, I was reading in to some other answers that felt too repetitive not to be anything – like TERRE / TORRE and SCOPE / SCAPES – but with a solve that was as smooth as this, I wasn’t held up by those thoughts for too long.

Best clue of the day for me was for DATA CAPS [What might stop a stream?] which genuinely made me laugh when I figured it out.

Would I say I LOVED IT? Not quite – but I did enjoy it very much.

3.75 stars

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — Rachel’s write-up

“Wow, this is smooth” is something I said, out loud, to absolutely no one, while solving this puzzle from Patrick Berry (because of course it is!). No section of the grid felt choppy, no cross was unfair, no entry unearned. I decided to warm up today on the other themeless puzzle that comes out on Fridays, and the contrast between this one and that one was *stark* (but the other one was also meant to be much, much harder, so I suppose that’s an unfair comparison).

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword solution 9/20/19

So many things to love about this puzzle. For one thing, I just spent 20 minutes googling “OVERWORLD” to try to understand what it is. I enjoy videogames and play a few RPGs casually, but I’ve never heard this word, and was downright delighted to learn that it existed. Learning things in puzzles is the best! I have to say, though, I’m still not 100% clear on whether the OVERWORLD is the game map or the actually gameplay… space. It seems like this varies from game to game? Like in older Zelda games, you play on the OVERWORLD, whereas in newer RPGs, the map/OVERWORLD is more for navigation? Commenters, please clear this up for me.

One other note about OVERWORLD, and this is by no means a dig against the constructor but rather an observation that I also noticed when writing up this week’s Monday New Yorker: it’s a little surprising to me how often clues get taken from the first line of the entry’s wikipedia article. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised? I also construct occasionally, and have definitely looked entries up on wikipedia in the process, but the clue on OVERWORLD and several other things I checked up on from Monday (e.g. the old nickname DESERTRATS for “gerbils”) were taken right off *the first line* on wikipedia, almost verbatim. I suppose that’s where the most interesting or salient points about an entry are likely to be located?

A few other points:

  • Loved the misdirection on HOCKEY STICK (obviously was expecting to learn that some sport shoe had a heel, which would 100% have led me to become a fan of that sport).
  • SKEDADDLE is such a cute word!
  • Is INTERWEAVE redundant? Like, if something is woven, isn’t the “inter” understood?
  • I’m not so sure about the clue on ART CONTEST; I’ve never heard of an art contest where the competitors go to a competition site and … draw. I suppose it could be a sketch art competition, and they draw in advance, and then submit it to the contest? Let’s just say it’s a stretch.
  • I enjoyed the crossing of YEATS and YEAST
  • Proper nouns I didn’t know: TYSON GAY (in my head I parsed this as TY SONGAY for absolutely no logical reason), KYSER, LANCIA

Overall, this was a lovely, fairly easy, definitely entertaining Friday themeless.

Kathy Wienberg & Lewis Rothlein’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jenni’s writeup

I figured out the theme immediately and wondered what the revealer would be. I had a theory, which turned out to be wrong.

The theme answers are phrases with AD removed. Wackiness results.

LA Times crossword solution, September 20, 2019, Kathy Wienberg, Lewis Rothlein

  • 20a [What included a top hat, for Lincoln?] is GETTYSBURG DRESS (Gettysburg ADdress).
  • 26a [Unvarnished inventions?] are BARENAKED LIES (Barenaked LADies).
  • 43a [Citi Field catcalls?] are FLUSHING MEOWS (Flushing MeADows). I didn’t see this one right away because I expected it to include the word Mets somewhere.
  • 53a [Joe-induced speaking clarity?] is  CAFFEINE DICTION (caffeine ADdiction).

And the revealer is not something about AD BLOCKER but rather 47d [Ubiquitous YouTube button … and a hint to four long Across answers], SKIP AD.

A fun theme!

A few other things:

  • 1a [“… harmony in the motion and magnitude of the __ … “: Copernicus] is ORBS. I was thinking “music of the spheres,” which I think is a quote from something. A quick Google search shows me only sources I know I’ve never read.
  • 19a [Lengthy sentence] is a RUN-ON. I proofread one of my kid’s essays recently and for the first time ever, she did not have even one comma splice. They do learn!
  • 5a [Out, perhaps] is ABED and 34a [Stops lying?] is RISES. I’m OK with “lying” here and LIES in one of theme answers, but now I want a nap.
  • 50a [Sch. in Manhattan] is a misdirect. It’s KSU.
  • 61a [Unlikely] is TALL, as in TALL tales.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the USO was founded under FDR. Further research shows that it was created by Mary Ingraham in 1941 in response to a request from President Roosevelt.

I leave you with my favorite Barenaked Ladies song.

Margaret Saine’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Heads Up!” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • “Heads Up!” • 9/20/19 • Saine • 092019 • solution • 20190920

  • 65aR [Tip-offs, or what can be found at the beginning of 17, 26 and 50 Across] ADVANCE WARNING.
  • 17a [Strategic formation in the Civil War’s Chattanooga campaign] LOOKOUT MOUNTAINLook out!
  • 26a [NSYNC surname] Justin TIMBERLAKETimber!
  • 50a [Ancestor] FOREFATHERFore!

Solid set.

This was a very smooth solve, with only the slightest of pauses while filling the lower right section. My entrance to the area was squibbed by presuming 54a [Script add-on?] was something internetty and thus URL rather that the suffix -URE. That led to uncertainty regarding the quote in 51-down [“Courage is knowing what not to __”: Plato] as FL–– and then 60d [Act like a rat, say]: bail? sing? tell? But instead the latter was GNAW and the former FEAR. Don’t fear Play-Doh®, kids. Even if it does smell weird.

  • 6a [Tucked in for the night] ABED, 37a [Defeaning] AROAR.
  • 36a [Affaire de coeur] AMOUR, 8d [Immature romantic figure?] EROS.
  • 40a [Outlaw holed up in Wyoming’s “Hole-in-the-Wall“] Butch CASSIDY. Also used by Tom ‘Black Jack’ Ketchum. 45a [Two-masted sailing vessel] KETCH.
  • 7d [Brooklyn Dodger, affectionately] BUM, as in “Dem Bums”.
  • 9d [Persistent advocacy] DRUMBEAT. Nice, succinct clue. 28d [Like rock gardens with poor drainage] MOSSY. Evocative.
  • 10d [Floating or swimming] NATANT, well-known bugbear to regular NYT Spelling Bee players.
  • 27d [Adult insect] IMAGO. I recently had occasion to discover (don’t ask] that the word spans the name of Portuguese cyclist Joaquim Agostinho and British journalist and producer Jemima Goldsmith, among a very few others.
  • 57d [Reindeer in “Frozen”] SVEN, followed by 58d [“Seveneves” novelist Stephenson] NEAL. ISWYDT
  • 59a [Goes along (with)] AGREES. Does this implicitly require AGREES (TO)? Arguable, but I feel it’s okay without.

Fine crossword. A debut?

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15 Responses to Friday, September 20, 2019

  1. huda says:

    NYT: It took me a while to get a toehold, and then it flowed after that, in spite of several names I did not know. TENSION HEADACHE intersecting PHD seemed apt.
    Thanks for the link, Amy— EVE CURIE did have a very interesting life, over 100 years of it, almost spanning the 20th century! I had not realized her husband’s Nobel Prize nor her work at UNICEF. The UN might have its ups and downs on the political front, but I have long admired its global social and educational efforts. My father used to be a “UNESCO expert” — he would take a leave of absence from his regular position as a university professor and work with the UN to establish new educational projects throughout the Middle East, ranging from rural community centers in Egypt to promote literacy, to starting the University of Jordan in Amman. As a kid, I met UNESCO and UNICEF members from all over the world. These are amazing, forward looking organizations and it was fun to learn about the role of a Curie in their mission.

    • MattF says:

      Me too on ‘hard to get a toehold’. I eventually got a grip at the very bottom and worked my way up. Nice puzzle, once I got going.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    Agree, MOVIE FAN is a real letdown, I tried for more elegant/interesting/focused answer as well. Rather a few tries.

    I’m not so good, especially with names so I needed a few Googles to get this one, but overall pretty solid if maybe a little too loosely clued in spots. This is my idea of a decent puzzle.

    Friday NYT easily my most-looked towards puzzle. Now I get to wait another week …

  3. Stephen B Manion says:

    Difficult puzzle for me, but excellent.

    I do not have a problem with INFAMOUS/DETESTED. I would be inclined to use NOTORIOUS for someone who had a bad quality but was not necessarily detested.


  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: Not sold on the clue for SPEED DATES. ‘Plays’?

    • billy boy says:

      No. I did not like that one a bit. However -AQUA for ‘shade at the beach’ was in my eye extremely clever for cluing.

      Chiming in again only because I feel better about this one being a challenge for me seeing that for very high quality puzzle solvers (Youse guys, yes, that’s a compliment) it was challenging as well.

      VOLVO owns MACK trucks, big base (Living there when it happened) in Allentown, PA, made that one a gimme (aside)

  5. Jenni Levy says:

    I know TYSON GAY because when he was setting records, some homophobic website had a text editor automatically set to change every instance of the word GAY to HOMOSEXUAL.

    Oh, look, it was the American Family Association.

    • Billy Boy says:


      You might similarly get an eyebrow raise from of a messaging board on golf course architecture that in the early days when a poster tried to type in the famous golf course in Southampton, NY – ‘Shinnecock’ Golf Club (Named after the local native tribe/clan) the software would only allow ‘SHINNETHINGEY’ to populate the space.

      We all had a good laugh until they changed it.

  6. Billy Boy says:

    I guess I am confused about New Yorker Magazine puzzles. Today’s was like Monday easy for me to execute, however I must say that I truly loved seeing DOVETAILS crossing INTERWEAVE (and at the ‘V’ no less). Is it that the crowd that the puzzle is directed towards is not particularly skilled at solving that the clues are almost totally free of deception or am I just somehow exactly on the wavelength? If it is the former, given the very talented constructors – is that a bit of dumbing down?

    I do admire the construction of the puzzles/stacking as I am a non-starter as a constructor and I still think a fairly middle-level solver. I don’t time (and I never will), I dawdle and this was 12 minutes on the timer for me (Compared to :55 for the NYT this a.m. – I am in AWE! of your 5:00 Amy!) I take almost 5 minutes to type in a puzzle I solved on paper to keep my NYT streak alive!

    I am in no way trolling or being mean-spirited, but I am perplexed. Thanks for the space to ramble.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I think the Monday New Yorker puzzles are supposed to play harder than the Fridays, and I also think the magazine may have asked the constructors to generally ease up on the difficulty level so that more people can solve the crosswords. This one took me as long as a Mon/Tues NYT, 3:something, so clearly not the tough clues Berry would write if he wanted the puzzle to be tough.

      Certainly you could also be attuned to Berry’s cluing wavelength.

      • Billy Boy says:

        Thanks folks. I’ve done some by Patrick that have been much harder to crack. Maybe a little of all those.


    • GlennG says:

      For the New Yorker, the Friday puzzles are supposed to be about Tue-Wed difficulty. The Monday ones are supposed to be in the general Saturday level. Though there’s a lot of variance in both directions when it comes to difficulty on both days. Like Patrick Berry’s last Monday grid, I actually did quicker than today’s. It seems that difficulty depends more on the constructor at question, mainly via poorer examples of language, than it does any consistent editing from the New Yorker staff.

  7. Bob says:

    Re Nyt, Friday Sep 20.
    37-Down. What on Earth is/are SHARPEIS and what is the connection to wrinkles?

Comments are closed.