Friday, November 29, 2019

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 3:56 (Jenni) 


NYT 16:25 (Laura) 


The New Yorker 9:10 (Rachel) 


Universal tk (Rebecca) 


See below for news regarding the fate of the Chronicle of Higher Education crossword.

Sam Buchbinder’s New York Times crossword—Laura’s write-up

NYT - 11.29.19 - Solution

NYT – 11.29.19 – Solution

Hello F(r)iends, Amy is visiting family so you get me, tired from cooking all day and full of food and delicious beverages. I found this fairly chunky to solve (took way over my Friday average of about 13 minutes). But, I’m not in the best solving mindset at the moment, so [1d: “Ugh, totally my fault!”]: I’M THE WORST. Here are few interesting entries:

  • [19a: Domination]: HEGEMONY. Not a word I’m used to hearing much outside of graduate courses on Marxist cultural theory.
  • [40a: Art tiles]: TESSERAE. Those would be interlocking tiles in a mosaic. Mosaic art using tesserae dates back to the third century BCE. You’ve likely heard of the tesseract, the four-dimensional analogue of the three-dimensional cube; the words have similar Greek roots.
  • [26d: Organization that Jordan was once part of]: BULLS. That would be Michael Jordan, who played basketball for the Chicago Bulls from 1984 to 1993, and then from 1995 to 1998, helping to win a bunch of championships along the way.
  • [38d: On-scene reporter, in journalist lingo]: LEG MAN. I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard this meaning of leg man before; my previous understanding was that it refers to a guy who likes certain parts of the Thanksgiving turkey. No? Doesn’t pass the [37a: Rough assessment of accuracy]: SMELL TEST? Gosh I sure can’t imagine what else it could imply.
  • Instead of a [24d: Kind of cake]: BUNDT for dessert tonight, I made a dark chocolate tart with a gingersnap crust. Try it! Super easy.

[2d: “Stay tuned!”]: MORE TO COME from the rest of Team Fiend as they finish up their Thanksgiving dinners (those who are in the US, one assumes; we Fiends are a global phenom). Hope the holiday has been delicious for you and yours.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, all! I’m grateful to have this space to ramble about puzzles I almost always love, and for the wider crossword community in general. I’m also grateful for Natan Last, whose puzzles are pretty much without fail the most on-my-wavelength of any I have the pleasure of solving. Today’s MASTERPIECE is no exception; it’s fresh and clever, and packed with that trademark New Yorker trivia. It’s also a fabulous grid design, with only 10 3-letter entries in the whole grid by my count (although I’m notoriously bad at counting, so if I missed some, let me know).

The New Yorker crossword solution • Natan Last • Friday, November 29, 2019

The long stuff really shines in this puzzle—all told, we have 6 11’s, most of which are pure joy. In the northwest, we’ve got DECARBONIZE and OPEN BORDERS (cue “this is the future liberals want” memes), and in the southeast we have GARAGE SALES and MASTERPIECE. The Down 11’s are equally fabulous: MANSPLAINING down the west and RASHIDA TLAIB in the east are both fresh and fun (although I suspect we will see some complaints about MANSPLAINING—this is the internet, after all).

Other fun longer entries include UNDEROOS (which I believe is a brand of kids underwear?), COHOSTS clued with Bodega Boys hosts Desus and Mero, CLIF BAR, and HATING ON. All sorts of good stuff packed in here, with very little junk.

A few more things:

    • Fill I could livd without: AAAS (clued as batteries), DAH (clued as Morse code). Not bad! Someday I’d love to clue AAAS as the AAAS instead of the batteries, but I can’t see any editors going for it.
    • Names I didn’t know: James CAAN (I know, I should have known that), RON Darling, Jill LEPORE, Chris BOSH (not related to Hieronymous, apparently), Philip BAILEY
    • Favorite ? clue: Some processes of elimination? for GARAGE SALES
    • just, no.

      I generally love that there are little New Yorker cartoons that pop up when you finish the puzzle or pause your solve, but the cartoon that displayed after I solved today featured a prime example of “what non-crossword people think crosswords look like.” It just seems like it shouldn’t be that hard to look at an actual crossword puzzle before drawing one or making a fake one for a TV show or whatever!

    Overall, tons of stars from me. Thanks Natan!

  • P.S.: You may have seen that the New Yorker is bringing back their cryptic puzzles. I am *dreadful* at cryptics, so I probably won’t be reviewing them. I will be solving them, however, so if I somehow get better at them through this process, maybe someday I’ll write them up. Don’t hold your breath though!

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

The kitchen is clean! I came down this morning and all I had to do was empty the dishwasher and wash the pots we left soaking last night. I love having a helpful teenager.

I enjoyed this puzzle. Each theme entry is a familiar rhyme reversed for enjoyment’s sake.

Los Angeles Times, November 29, 2019, David Alfred Bywaters, solution grid

  • 17a [Plumbing expert?] is a DRAIN BRAIN.
  • 25a [Cub Scout meeting refreshment?] is a PACK SNACK.
  • 30a [Candlemaker’s choice?] is a WICK PICK.
  • 45a [Zookeeper’s job, at times?] is BEAR CARE.
  • 51a [School sports upset] is a JOCK SHOCK. I’m not sure why this one doesn’t have a question mark.
  • 64a [Inflated thread-count scam?] is a SHEET CHEAT.

All the base phrases are in the language, although PICKWICK is one word and a proper name, at that, so it’s not completely consistent. I’m OK with that inconsistency.

A few other things:

  • I will in 10d [Drifting, possibly] by crossings and thought it was something Spanish – LOS TATSEA. Um, no. It’s LOST AT SEA.
  • 12d [Neat pile] is a STACK. It is? I have stacks that are not neat.
  • 39a [Name related to Marge] is PEGGY. Is this a Simpsons thing, or is it just that they’re both nicknames for Margaret?
  • I never thought of THESE and THOSE as opposites.
  • I had the ENT for 58d [Put in] and wrote ANTED. No. ANTE appears elsewhere in the puzzle, for one thing. The answer is ENTER.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of tholes. A thole is fitted to the gunwale of a boat to act as the fulcrum for an OAR. I’ve seen them, but didn’t know what they were called. They often look like this:

Kelly Clark’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Everything Nice” — pannonica’s write-up

First, some unhappy news: CHE editor Brad Wilber made the following announcement a few days ago on facebook:

It is with great sadness that I report the Chronicle of Higher Education is discontinuing its crossword puzzle at the end of February 2020. After that date, print production of the Chronicle is scaling back to biweekly, and they tell me it will focus sternly and solely on news. A CHE dignitary who has championed the puzzle for years has recently passed away, and the shared vision of younger decision-makers (admittedly, partly survival mode for the publication, I think) says that the crossword strays too far from the mission.

You may wonder if a letter-writing campaign will save the puzzle. Their web team, in particular, has been thrilled not to have to deal with it this year, so my sense is your pleas will mean little unless you express willingness to subscribe to the publication or to the puzzle if it’s placed behind a paywall. If you do write, please be kind, and take care to remember that you have only had online access to it lately because one member of middle management agreed to turn a blind eye while I posted it myself. Here is the link with contact information for Michael and Liz, the editors, even if you just want to say thanks for enjoyment of the puzzle over the years:

Thanks to Crossword Fiend for both covering and hosting the puzzle … Thank you to the many crossword friends who have been valuable sounding boards, to previous editors Patrick Berry and Jeffrey Harris, and to the solvers who have let me know the CHE puzzle was something they relished and made part of their routine. It has been one of the most rewarding learning experiences of my life. Maybe I’ll have the chance to put editorial chops to use in some new puzzle venture before long. It would be a privilege to have constructors and readers follow me there.

CHE • 11/29/19 • “Everything Nice” • Clark • solution • 20191129

I will certainly miss the CHE puzzles, filling as they do a particular (vibey™) niche and with a distinctive editorial hand. A consistent bright spot in the crossword week.

On to this week’s crossword.

Nice indeed. A nice, easy theme for those in postprandial addlepatedness or torpor.

  • 20a. [Bridge designer, often] CIVIL ENGINEER (civil).
  • 28a. [Side on many Thanksgiving tables] SWEET POTATOES (sweet). Making it timely.
  • 48a. [Tipple in Black Forest cakes] CHERRY CORDIAL (cordial). Also possibly spotted during Thanksgiving, perhaps sans cake.
  • 56a. [Charleston, SC suburb where one can tour the USS Yorktown] MOUNT PLEASANT (pleasant). Rather elaborate clue.

Nice how the first two begin with the synonym and the second two end with it. All two-word phrases, by the way.

  • 8d [Muse of astronomy] URANIA; 61a [German coal region] SAAR. Apparently ERATO and RUHR have the week off. Saar is northwest of and not too distant from the Schwartzwald.
  • 6d [Truvy’s husband in “Steel Magnolias”] SPUD. Avoiding a dupe with themer 28-across.
  • 23a [First in a tender Latin trio] AMO. As opposed to the boastful Latin trio that’s also well-known and also a staple of crosswords.
  • 33a [Belgian town in Hercule Poirot’s origin story] SPA. The namesake locale.
  • 7d [Purplish brown] PUCE. Haven’t pointed this out in a while, so I’ll repeat the factette that this comes from Latin via French for flea. Brownish-purple blood, yum.
  • 29d [It “Stood Still” in a 1951 sci-fi flick] EARTH.
  • 17a [Rolls with rice] SUSHI. Specifically, maki-zushi.
  • 50d [African home to Volcanoes National Park] RWANDA. It’s a rather mountainous little landlocked country. In fact, due to its geography it may have the highest concentration of endemic species on the continent. Some context.
  • One of the mammals unique to Rwanda is Hill’s horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus hilli. Unfortunately, I can’t easily locate an image of it. However, we can end aptly with 51d [Horseshoe-shaped Greek letter] OMEGA.

Nice crossword.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Friday, November 29, 2019

  1. arthur118 says:

    NYT- First answer for me, 9 Down, with much appreciation for REPLICAS; last answer for me, REPRINTS for 9 down when LRATED at 21 across didn’t work.

    Nice puzzle from Sam; his first Times puzzle tougher than a Tuesday level.

  2. RM Camp says:

    NYT: I was all, “what the hell is a pragency? Is that even a word?” A sign of what kind of day it’ll be? I hope not.

  3. JohnH says:

    I’m glad that Rachel loves how TNY is, as usual, packed with trivia, because I sure don’t. I also can’t find online or dictionary support anywhere for PEACES OUT as “bounces.” Seems like it means either simply wishes someone well or, more likely, simply “departs,” whereas “bounces” of course means “expels” or doesn’t permit to enter.

    The blurb about bringing back cryptics sounds ambiguous as to whether they’re adding puzzles or just rerunning the puzzles from the late 1990s, but we’ll see. Those were easy and small. I just did two of them, and of course I could probably solve a puzzle from a week ago much less 20 years earlier as if for the first time!

    • pannonica says:

      Merriam-Webster, way down the list, gives this sense for bounce:

      8 US, informal : LEAVE, DEPART

    • Mark B says:

      “Peaces out” and “Bounces” are both pretty popular slang for “departs,” in my opinion.
      That’s also the first “slang” definition for each of them on Wiktionary:

    • JohnH says:

      Thanks. I did think of checking for other definitions of “bounce” as well as “peaces out,” but I got only as far as RHUD. Since there I felt I was confirming the obvious about a more familiar term, I didn’t research as far.

    • Doug says:

      I’m with you, John. And I will add that much of the trivia and slang seems targeted at a rather narrow demographic (not mine).

      I also take exception to the clue “Arctic newborns” for SEALPUPS. Although seal pups can, of course, be found in the arctic, the vast majority of the world’s seals “pup” in subarctic, temperate or antarctic regions. Seal pups are no more characteristic of the arctic than they are of regions much further south. So, while an argument can be made that the clue is technically correct, it’s still a bad clue.

  4. lk says:

    Liked the puzzle til I hit TERRORISTS. A really unpleasant entry, that one, and one I’d prefer never to see in a puzzle again.

  5. Stephen B. Manion says:

    I am pretty sure that LEGMAN is one word in the context of the clue. Here is a link to the story of a journalistic legman:

    Tough for me to get started, but once I did, it fell surprisingly quickly.


  6. Kelly Clark says:

    Thank you for the review, and thank you, Brad Wilber for your terrific work.

  7. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Sad news about CHE.

    I largely enjoyed today’s puzzle once I realized that “VILE” in “CIVIL_ENGINEER” (which seemed particularly discordant with the title) was just meaningless coincidence. Yes, nice [sic] to have two theme entries each with the “nice” word at the beginning and the end.


  8. Zulema says:

    Too much modern slang, too much modern usage is my take, obviously at my age! I did finish the NYT without hejp, but not the New Yorker, which has previously not caused me problems on Fridays.

  9. David R says:

    Sorry to see CHE go, some of the most creative and pioneering xwords came out from there. It will be sorely missed and there is no xword that fills that niche.

    TNY was a perfect mix for me of trivia I knew and that which I didn’t but was workable. I loved learning the term THIRST TRAP. Which got me thinking has WEIRD FLEX BUT OK been put in a xword yet, should be.

  10. cyberdiva says:

    I too am VERY sorry to hear about the CRE’s decision to end its crossword. I always looked forward to it. I wonder whether a subscription arrangement just for the puzzle would be viable.

  11. Robert White says:

    Hmmmm….current issue of the CHE doesn’t mention this news; I guess I get an “extra” year on my subscription!
    Seriously, the publication is a shell of its old self; I would not be surprised if it folded before the end of next year!

Comments are closed.