Friday, October 18, 2019

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT tk (Jenni) 


NYT 5:01 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 7:38 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (Rebecca) 


Jamey Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 18 19, no. 1018

Plenty of good stuff in this 70-worder, along with a bit of clunky interstitial fill to hold it all together. The highlights include IN ITALICS (with the tricky clue, [Set off, say]—could mean emphasize(d), start(ed) out, trigger(ed)), DATE MOVIE, EVERY VOTE COUNTS (be sure to check your registration status well in advance of election day—in a number of states, they’ve been purging voter rolls and sometimes “mistakenly” trying to purge tens of thousands of active voters), IRISH CREAM liqueur, OUROBOROS, the new-to-me ILLITERATI, a big-city TURNSTILE JUMPER, CANADA DAY, ON THE DOLE, BEATS ME, and AVOCADO (I learned from the constructor’s notes at Wordplay, his original clue was “[Its name comes from the Aztec word for testicle] — so evocative, and once you know it, you can’t un-know it”).

Five things:

  • 46d. [Need for some bypass surgery], STENT. Editors! Constructors! Stop this. Bypass surgery is open heart surgery and involves cutting out blood vessels from elsewhere in the body and stitching them in place of clogged-up coronary artery sections. Stents, on the other hand, are inserted into the vessels via a catheter snaked in through the veins, in a minimally invasive procedure with a teeny little cut in the wrist or groin. Stop conflating the two procedures! Just put angioplasty in the damn clue instead of surgery, will you? People have heard of angioplasty. Really. Or mention the cardiac cath lab. Stop giving heart surgeons the credit for the stents that are put in place by interventional cardiologists.
  • 43a. [Current type of currency], E-MONEY. Um, is it really?
  • 10a. [Giant in health and beauty products], AMWAY. A multilevel marketing company. Experts disagree on whether it’s a pyramid scheme.
  • 6d. [2016 film about a 1967 Supreme Court case], LOVING. Just added it to my watch list.
  • 11d. [A hired one is called a moirologist], MOURNER. !!! I think I’ve heard of professional mourners (never met one), but didn’t know they had an (obscure) -ologist word.

I could’ve done without fill like IDEM, I-TEN (nobody spells out interstate numbers!), and crosswordese place name Ulan-UDE, along with the aforementioned E-MONEY. Was gonna include R AND R, but can you believe Merriam-Webster lists that as the entry, not R&R? They also list R and B! Sorry, M-W, but we all call it R&B and you know it.

3.8 stars from me.

Blake Slonecker’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Adjusting for Inflation” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 10/18/19 • “Adjusting for Inflation”• Slonecker • solution • 20191018

The tacit reveal here would be RATE HIKE, but it’s nowhere to be seen.¹ We do, however, have four 15-letter, grid-spanning themers. They just happen not to be completely horizontal as one would expect. Instead the letters R-A-T-E diagonally link two unintelligible partials.

  • 28a/17a [Creedence Clearwater Revival followed them at Woodstock / ––] THE G{RAT|E}FUL DEAD.
  • 38a/24a [Abundance of avocados? / ––] UNSATU{RAT|E}D FATS.
  • 56a/42a [Career pathway reimagined as a “jungle gym” in Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” / ––] CORPO{RAT|E} LADDER. That’s a clue-and-a-half if ever I saw one.
  • 64a/52a [Pursuers of Inman in “Cold Mountain” / ––] CONFEDE{RAT|E} ARMY. There’s an ADA in that film. Just sayin’.

Condensed and simplified graphic version:


This is kind of a standard visual theme, done rather well. All four as spanners is a great touch. Save for the first, they all (a) consist of two words in which (b) the RATE tetragram occurs at the end of a (the first) word; not so with THE GRATEFUL DEAD.

Let’s have a desultory look at the rest of the crossword.

  • 1a [Anthropologist Boas] FRANZ. Always an ego boost when you can get 1-across instantly with no letter-checking. Helps to have walked through the Boas Hall of the Pacific Northwest Coast of the American Museum of Natural History literally thousands of times.
  • 14a [Glacial fissure] CREVASSE. This word I like. Always have.
  • 19a [ __ Candy (Wonder Woman gal pal] ETTA. This is an ETTA clue I’ve not seen before. I guess the name’s an irresistible go-to for pun-inclined authors. There’s Etta Kett (‘etiquette’) and ETTA (“et a” ≈ ‘ate a’) Candy. Okay, I guess two examples doesn’t exactly constitute an epidemic. Maybe it’s just that they’re so … blatant?
  • 16a [Benedictines and Franciscans, e.g.] ORDERS, 45a [Denominational offshoot] SECT, 31a [House full of brothers, for short] FRAT.
  • 59a [Shutter speed of a digital photo, often] METADATA. Other METADATA information may include camera type, date & time, and location.
  • 2d [Pillow flight?] REDEYE. You better believe I misread that as pillow fight (as no doubt deviously intended) and was nonplussed for a while.
  • 4d [“I’d do it all over again”] NO REGRETS.
  • Wow, a hyper-triumvirate! 20d [Tri-__ (certain cut of beef)] TIP, 23d [City in India’s Golden Triangle] AGRA, 30d [Square root of nove] TREAnd! they form a tight triangle in the grid. Boom!
  • It’s right there at the top of the Wikipedia page
    Also, holy wow – Oona’s entire foot is smaller than his big toe;
    her waist is narrower than his ankle!

    54d [Medit. steamer] MT ETNA. Unpretty clue.

  • 65d [Time-traveling Alley] OOP. Didn’t know this was a major, even essential plot device for the comic strip. Unclear whether Mr Oop was a (64d) CRO-Magnon man, but I suspect he was Homo sapiens.
  • And then it all ends rather neatly with 74a [“Ta-ta”] SEE YA.

Good puzzle but I wish the theme had been a little more consistent, tighter.

¹But see 38-down in yesterday’s Universal by Alan Massengill

Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s write-up

A couple shiny long entries and some fun short stuff kept this puzzle interesting and engaging, but the highly segmented grid design and some difficult crosses made this New Yorker puzzle feel a bit rockier than usual. The segmentation particularly in the NW (MONOPOLY/UNIVERSE/MINARETS) and SE (OPEN LATE/LIVE A LIE/EXIT WEST), where there was only one square in or out, made those corners play basically like their own mini-puzzzles (but look at those lovely little stacks!). The other two corners were only slightly more open, and the middle also felt isolated from the rest of the puzzle. The chunkiness of the puzzle doesn’t lessen its quality, but did up the difficulty a notch for me.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Elizabeth Gorski • October 18, 2019

The marquee entries through the middle (YOU’RE OUTTA HERE and HONKY TONK WOMEN) were fun, although I confess that I didn’t know how to fill in HONKY TONK __EN. At one I point definitely had HONKY TONK helen (??) in there; that section was extra tough because I’d never heard of a PANATELA or Ned ROREM, and NAW could just as easily have been NAh.

Favorite wordplay clues:

  • Problematic opening on Broadway? for POTHOLE
  • Garen variety? for ROCK

Miscellaneous bullets:

  • Proper names I didn’t know: Ned ROREM, SHUGGIE Otis, and it took a bit for me to recall Diana VREELAND
  • EXIT WEST is one of my favorite books, possibly ever. It’s a beautiful magical realism reimagining of global migration and the refugee experience, and you should probably read it.
  • You, like me, may be wondering “how is ENA a Disney deer??” Turns out that is the name of Bambi’s aunt. That is a *deep* cut.
  • Other fill that was just ok: LST, A NET, and I’m pretty over muse clues (lookin at you, ERATO).

Overall, pretty enjoyable solve, but not particularly exciting!

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Bug Out”—Rebecca’s review

THEME: Quip puzzle today – see answers below

Universal crossword solution · Paul Coulter · “Bug Out” · Fri., 10.18.19


  • 17A [Quip question] WHY DID THE FLY FLY
  • 25A [Start of the quips answer] SAME REASON A FLEA
  • 43A [More of the answer] WAS FORCED TO FLEE
  • 56A [End of the answer] A SPIDER SPIED HER

This puzzle was just not on my wavelength – I did not get this quip easily, which made getting through it a bit of a slog for me. I was impressed that the quip fit so well in the grid – but not enough for me to really enjoy this.

I did enjoy some of the fill – MOONSCAPES, BUY OFF, and I’M DONE are all great – and the clue for SPF [Cover letters?] is one of my favorite clues for that answer ever. I also got a kick out of ORR, OARED, and ORES all appearing here.

2.5 Stars

David Alfred Bywaters’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up

This was a nice straightforward puzzle to do before I head off to work. Each theme answer has an “S” added with amusing results.

Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2019, David Alfred Bywaters, solution grid

  • 17a [Iranian vocal improvisation?] is PERSIAN SCAT.
  • 24a [Household employee’s fraudulent ruse?] is a NANNY SCAM, which I guess would be one of the reasons people use nanny cams. I’m not a fan of nanny cams or tracking software or video baby monitors. And no, we don’t track our daughter. Never have. Nor do we track each other (this is a thing people do).
  • 38a [Nursery school air fresheners?] are DAYCARE SCENTERS. This one made me laugh.
  • 50a [Poem that seemed awfully profound at the bar last night?] is a PUB SCRAWL. Roses are red/Bombay gin is blue/when I am drunk/I can’t make things rhyme.
  • 62a [What optical character recognition software often produces] is GARBAGE SCAN. I spend more time than I’d like reviewing bad scans of print-outs of electronic medical records. This one doesn’t have a question mark because it’s a real thing.

The theme is solid, consistent, and at least somewhat amusing. I prefer a crunchier puzzle on Fridays, even in the LAT, and I can acknowledge a good example of the alternative, which this is.

A few other things:

  • 3d [Casual pants] are CORDUROYS. I dunno. I think of CORDUROYS as less casual than jeans, leggings, or cargo pants, all of which I see people wearing to work.
  • 21a [Bar __] gave me pause. NONE didn’t fit. I got the A and put in TAB. Turns out it’s CAR.
  • We have TOSCA and AIDA, identified by their title character’s profession, if “princess” can be termed a profession.
  • Does the G-MAN in a gangster movie really say GOTEM? I think of that more as the gangster’s line.
  • [Intl. Talk Like a Pirate Day month] could go away. Not my favorite part of SEPtember.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that MADERA is the Spanish word for “lumber.”

I leave you with the earworm I acquired from 35d. Sorry (not sorry).

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4 Responses to Friday, October 18, 2019

  1. Noam D. Elkies says:

    CHE: The “Medit. steamer” clue is a misdirection, suggesting a steamship on the sea rather than a steaming mountain on an island in that sea. Another nice misdirection in 70A:ROOFLINE: feature of Tudor houses, not members of the royal family.

    Thanks for pointing out the mini-theme of three “3” entries. I was wondering about “triumvirate” — originally a group of three male rulers, while here we have a city, a cut of meat, and an Italian number — but I see that the dictionary supports the use of that word for any group of three.

    The four symmetrically placed grid-spanning trick entries make for a nice puzzle theme, though I think it’s not the first time I’ve seen this trick . . . Why is there an apparent footnote mark after “nowhere to be seen”? I don’t see a footnote or a hyperlink there.

    1A:FRANZ — would be much better if this first entry didn’t have to cross the Keebler saltine at the Z and another name at the F. I happened to recognize how 1D:FARRAH fit the clue, but if you don’t happen to know the old showbiz name “Farrah Fawcett” then you have no idea what the clue is about. (Yes I get that it’s a pun on “faucet handle.”) One such cross is probably OK — ?RANZ more or less has to be FRANZ, and FRAN? is much likelier Z than K (KESTA is qestionable) — but ?RAN? is asking too much.


  2. Jenni Levy says:

    This may be one of those things where more specialized knowledge is not helpful, but surgeons also insert stents. They’re widely used in a lot of arteries (aorta, iliac, femoral, and more) and those procedures can be done by surgeons, cardiologists, or interventional radiologists. It’s not angioplasty because they don’t dilate the artery before placing the stent. They’re also used in the esophagus and the bile ducts by both surgeons, gastroenterologists, and radiologists and in the ureter by urologists. I’m probably missing some. It’s still a catheter-based procedure (well, not the esophagus – that’s done via endoscopy) and I had the same reaction you did to the clue, so I suppose this comment is pointless. Oh, well.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Though this particular clue specifies bypass surgery, which I assume refers to coronary artery bypass grafting, and thus all the non-cardiovascular stenting surgeons might do isn’t relevant here. I do appreciate the knowledge you dropped, though! Always up for more medical info.

  3. Zulema says:

    Just loved the NYT crossword for the interesting entries but also for the way it solved, but can’t explain what I mean by that. Solved the CHE but could not find my way to solving the title. I see I was not the only one. Enjoyed it none the less.

    Not looked at the New Yorker yet, so nothing to say at this hour.

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