Friday, January 31, 2020

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


Inkubator 4:19 (Jenni) 


LAT 4:40 (Jenni) 


NYT 5:33 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 5:05 (Rachel) 


Universal tk (Rebecca) 


John Guzzetta & Michael Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 31 20, no. 0131

Editors, you gotta read further down in Wikipedia articles or else you look foolish. 26a. [George ___, original cast member of “S.N.L.”], COE, for real? I’ve watched the show off and on since I was a kid in that first season, and this name wasn’t at all familiar to me. Wiki says: “He was only credited as a cast member for the first show, October 11, 1975. Coe was used in several other episodes of SNL, but was never again credited.” You cannot clue a not-famous person by, basically, a single TV episode from 45 years ago. It’s ridiculous.

Speaking of silly things in the puzzle that irritated me: DOOR KEYS. You mean … keys? That’s what we call ’em, generally. Dictionaries know what I’m talking about.

22a. [Know-it-alls] are SWAMIS? Who is using the word this way?

I do like GRYFFINDOR, WILD PITCH, SHELLS OUT, “MIND BLOWN,” SRIRACHA, BOLD MOVE, and “ANY NEWS?” My mind was blown today by learning that some (most?) people actually “hear” their own voice in their head in their internal monologue, their thoughts. I think things all day long, but not in my voice. Others had their minds blown by discovering that some people are like me and don’t hear that voice. Here’s the blog post that flipped my skull open.

Favorite clue: 35a. [Inventors of the compass and movable type], CHINESE. THE CHINESE might flow better, but hey, it’s still cool info.

Five more things:

  • 47a. [Ruler amts.], CMS. Constructors who use word lists, please remove these S-plural metric abbreviations from your word list (see also: KMS, KGS, MMS). They’re pretty much bullshit, even worse than the typical plural abbreviation. (And non-metric, too. The plural “ounces” and “pounds” are the same as singular, oz and lb.)
  • I wasn’t okay with partial I MY crossing I’M OKAY.
  • 41d. [Famous last word of film], ROSEBUD. Huge missed opportunity to give a shout-out to the delightful sitcom Schitt’s Creek. The show takes place in what’s eventually (spoiler alert!) called the Rosebud Motel. I’m weeks behind on the show, but it’s the final season and I want it to last longer. If you’ve never watched it, you can see the first five seasons on Netflix. Stick with it even if you don’t dig it in the first few episodes—it adds so much depth and heart and I love it.
  • 42a. [Some jungle greenery], FERNS. We would also have accepted [Some greenery a couple doors down from Amy’s place, very much not in the jungle].
  • Did not know: 45d. [1980 Peace Nobelist ___ Pérez Esquivel], ADOLFO. Here’s his brief bio at the Nobel site.

3.5 stars from me.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker puzzle – Rachel’s writeup

What a beauty! I’m reviewing this puzzle from an airport between flights, so I don’t have a ton of time to devote to listing all of the things I love about this clean, gorgeous, chock-full-o-goodness puzzle, so I’ll stick to the top highlights.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Patrick Berry • Friday, January 31, 2020

The main highlight: those corners! The wide open NE and SW, and only slightly smaller NW and SE corners, are just fabulous. I won’t list out the stacks, but some of my favorite entries in the corners are: NEAR BEER, LORD BYRON, SHADIEST, CLOCHES, DIONNE (Warwick), EL CAMINO. So good!!

Other highlights: can fill be a highlight? There is literally no bad fill in this puzzle. Just *chef’s kiss*.

A few other things:

  • Favorite clues:
    • Seedy frying medium for CANOLA right next to Greasy frying medium for LARD. Elegant and funny.
    • Joint coverage? for KNEEPAD
    • They’re often rolling in the aisles for SHOPPING CARTS down the middle
  • Names I didn’t know: NOONAN, Robert E. Howard, and that’s it!

This puzzle feels qualitatively different from most other New Yorker puzzles in that it elevates the fill and cluing rather than currency, trivia, and freshness, which is fine by me! I like that the New Yorker mixes things up a bit and keeps their solvers on their toes. This was also easily my fastest New Yorker solve on record, fwiw.

All the stars from me!

Ned White’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Feeling the Burn” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 1/31/20 • “Feeling the Burn” • White • solution • 20200131

Revealer right off the bat in this one.

  • 1a/69aR [ … committed exerciser evoked by the last words of the answers to starred clues] GYM | RAT.
  • 25a. [*Gutenberg invention] LETTERPRESS.
  • 49a. [*A month in solitary, say] HARD STRETCH.
  • 6d. [*Feat that might partially hide a surfer from beach spectators] SHOOTING THE CURL. Uhm, I’d never heard of the Honeys.
  • 10d. [*”Help! My car’s in the shop!”] GIMME A LIFT. Seems more demanding than desperate to me.
  • 30d. [*Cereal mascot with facial hair] CAP’N CRUNCH.

Represent? Anyway, it’s a theme.

Quibble for 25-across, which I’ve rendered properly as a compound word despite the directive of the revealer (“last words …”).

  • 24a [“Women hold up half the sky” attribution] MAO. I feel that I should have known this, but am happy to have learned it (possibly again).
  • 35a [Spiral-horned African antelopes] NYALAS. In the genus Tragelaphus, which comes from the Greek tragelaph, a part-goat and part-deer creature.
  • 28d [Bois de Boulogne, par example] PARC.

    (“the ’80s called …”)
  • 45a [Crowning glory protected by the Crown Act] AFRO. The lazy way to have clued this would’ve been cross-referencing 41a, above: [One-fifth of the Jackson 5] TITO. Instead we get the timely ‘Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair’ law in California. Seems however that the clue should have put CROWN in all caps.
  • 46a [Driver of a bus.?] CEO. Question mark and the necessary period to indicate abbreviated ‘business’.
  • 63a [Spanish river to the Mediterranean] EBRO. Periodically I mention that Iberia is derived etymologically from EBRO.
  • 32a [Narrow coastal inlet] RIA, from Spanish ría meaning estuary. Not sure if it shares an etymology with ‘river’ …
  • … and ditto the name RIPA which maybe shares history with Latin-derived riparian (ripa = ‘shore’). 38a [Kelly of morning TV]
  • … but RIATA is unrelated. 27a [Gauchos’ loops]
  • 12d [Extinct Southern Hemisphere flock] DODOS. Tried fruitlessly to find out of they were gregarious or solitary, but it doesn’t matter because the clue could be using ‘flock’ idiomatically for the species.
  • 35d [Campus org. for ensigns-in-training] NROTC. Hm, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps has an unfortunate initialism, as it practically begs to be pronounced ‘neurotic’.
  • 49d [“Hi!”] HELLO, 50d [“Bye!”] ADIOS. 4d [“__wiedersehen!”] AUF.

“See you later.”

David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up

I was confused about this theme until I filled in about a third of the puzzle. It was a satisfying “aha” moment, and the revealer made me grin.

Each theme answer is missing something.

Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2020, David Poole, solution grid

  • 21a [Cornerstone phrase] is ANNO DO. Clearly that’s supposed to to be ANNO DOMINI. It didn’t make sense as a rebus since the 19d only uses the O. Hmm.
  • 29a [In a humiliating way] is IGNO. Huh? Oh. 30a is [-], meaning that it continues on, and that’s OUSLYIGNO{MINI}OUSLY. And there are four black squares in between – and four black squares after DO in 21a. Aha!
  • 57a, [Little versions], is preceded by four black squares, and is ATURES, for {MINI}ATURES.

The revealer is in the middle: 40a [Hotel room amenity … or one of the configurations that resolve four puzzle answers], MINIBAR.

Fun and original!

A few other things:

  • The long downs are mathematical: ALGORITHIMIC and ISOMORPHISM. The latter is clued as [Type of mathematical equivalence]. Good thing there were crossings.
  • 10a [Software product with a cup-and-saucer logo] is JAVA, and 10d, [10-Across] is JOE. We also have 53d, [10-Down sweetener] for SUGAR
  • We have MME and SRA clued as Fr. and Span. titles, respectively.
  • 54a [Unwitting tool] is a CATS PAW.
  • 59a [Smoothie seed] could be ACAI but this time is CHIA.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the XBOX was introduced in 2001 and that the OAS was founded in 1948.

Janie Smulyan’s Inkubator crossword, “She’s Not There”—Jenni’s review

I’m delighted to see Janie’s byline back! Janie is an erstwhile member of Team Fiend, a stalwart judge and volunteer at ACPT and Lolla and an all-round great person who I am proud to count as a friend. Today’s Inkubator is all about the ladies. Literally.

  • 17a [Tell ’em “The witches made me do it!”, perhaps] is a MACBETH STRATEGY. At first I thought we had to drop the woman’s name and I was trying to figure out what MAC STRATEGY was.
  • 23a. [Clueless] is IN THE DARK.
  • 37a [Is deeply (and audibly) dispirited] is SINGS THE BLUES.
  • 54a [Citrus-imbued toast topper] is MARMALADE.

And the revealer: 60a [1938 Hitchcock thriller, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]” THE LADY VANISHES. Add “lady” to each theme answer and they make more sense: LADY MACBETH STRATEGYLADY IN THE DARKLADY SINGS THE BLUES, and LADY MARMALADE. I was not familiar with the first one. Google tells me that it’s “a merger strategy in which a company betrays a target company by first appearing as a friendly alternative to an unfriendly acquirer and then later joining forces with the unfriendly acquirer.” OK, then. I am familiar with LADY IN THE DARK, a 1940s musical about psychoanalysis with music by Kurt Weill and book and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It’s the sort of entry I expect from theater aficionado Janie! All in all a challenging, interesting, and solidly constructed theme.

A few other things:

  • 5a [Perennial jumbotron message] is HI MOM. I presume this refers to the Jumbotron showing pictures of people holding up HI MOM signs.
  • Nice touch crossing ARLO with TRAINS and cluing the latter as [Subjects of Ellington’s “Daybreak Express” and Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans”]. We sang “City of New Orleans” to Emma every night when she was a baby, and so we had a two-year-old who would sing “Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle” at random times.
  • 18d [Beneficiaries of some cucumber slices] are EYE BAGS. That’s a little roll-your-own, although the meaning is clear.
  • I married into a family of birdwatchers and I have never heard “goshawk” abbreviated as GOS. It’s clued as [Breed of Mabel the “support raptor” in Helen Macdonald’s “H is for Hawk,” informally] and I haven’t read the book, so maybe that’s how Mabel is referred to.
  • Another nice theater reference at 41d [Henry Higgins : Eliza Doolittle :: Pygmalion : ___]. It’s GALATEA.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re LADY MACBETH STRATEGY.

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18 Responses to Friday, January 31, 2020

  1. Stephen B. Manion says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle, but WILD PITCH seems off to me. If a player advances on a wild pitch, it is not a stolen base. If he has already started when the pitcher delivers, it is, but where is the temptation when the wild pitch is after the fact?


  2. Chip says:

    NYT: Would have helped if I hadn’t had to keep correcting my attempts to spell Gryffindor . two “f’s” and one “o” . “i” instead of “e” . you get the picture.

  3. Evad says:

    We’re debating whether to pay Amazon for season 6 of Schitt’s Creek or wait until the fall when it comes to Netflix. My husband can’t get enough of this trailer.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    NYT odors emanating beyond Amy’s beautiful documentation:

    DOOR-keys? why not LOCK-keys or ROOM-keys? They are keys – that is for certain.
    Depending on the scorer, you might not get credit for a steal if there is a WP. There is some debate, I guess … WP v. PB
    Sebastian COE ran so many sub-4 miles, how about Miler Lord ___ or Sebastian, Lord of the mile (gimme?)?

    I won’t go into DADADADADA vs MOMMA (not MAMMA) again so soon.

    This puzzle was too forced in too many spots for my tastes.

    What a cat’s meow might mean?
    Currently with our 21-year old boy it’s “HTFDIK”? hahahaha

    New Yorker will be lovely, I’m sure

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yep, “dada” comes out of a baby’s mouth more easily than “mama.” And despite that fact, some dictionaries only list art Dada, and the NYT Spelling Bee puzzle doesn’t allow it.

      • Billy Boy says:

        Dada was an ecclesiastical art movement in some eyes, certainly. The extra consonant in mamma also implies thought as there is none in baby’s mind at the time of babble, thus more objection. I promise I’ll stop … I’m only here to say (wink) … on very positive note, New Yorker puzzle was a JOY (as I had hoped!).

  5. Brad says:

    The CHE editing process tried to render “CROWN Act” in all caps, but their policy is to capitalize only the first letter of acronyms / initialisms above four letters long. In retrospect I perhaps should have done just as I pleased with the online version.

  6. JML says:

    LAT: really cool idea, though I feel that MINIATURES as one of the themers is a little inelegant. Also, not a fan of the fill.

    Universal: lackluster theme, but I loved the fill.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    Universal: Medium-Challenging Uni … about 6% above my 4-week Uni median

    There was some challenging fill (for me) in this grid. That’s one of the reasons I’ve reincorporated the Universal and USA Today puzzles into my habit.

    Speed bumps etc:
    RIRI {24A: “Umbrella” singer’s nickname} … I’m making progress! I recognize this as Rihanna’s nickname!
    — ‘actS’ before LAWS {6D: What bills may become}
    — I have a pretty bad case of TINNITUS {4D: Ear ring?} almost 24/7 … not fun … it’s been there for as long as I can remember and, until relatively recently, I just thought that everyone lived with this sound in their heads
    STORE {51A: Black Friday destination} … not this guy
    SIA {56A: Singer with a black-and-blond wig} … crosswords have taught me this name, but don’t ask me what she looks like
    ULTA {55D: Beauty chain} … also only resides in the crossword portion of my brain
    — “Maybe read the clue next time” moment of the solve: ‘sea’ before LAM {61D: On the ___ (fleeing)} … how the heck did I come up with ‘sea’ there?
    DOLLAR SLICE {60A: It comes after the fourth quarter, in a pizza parlor} … huh? … even after a quick Google, I got no idea
    RUBBER SOLE {30D: Gum on the bottom of a shoe?} … I’m glad I didn’t read the clue for this. I don’t get the connection. Plus, it’s a shame to miss an opportunity to clue The Beatles.

    I’d be ever so grateful if someone would enlighten me about the last two.

    • pannonica says:

      Four quarters = one dollar. A cheap pizza slice these days would indeed be a DOLLAR SLICE.

      Gumboots, gumshoes. Soles were once made of gum material. The Beatles album is Rubber Soul.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Thanks Pannonica … I don’t particularly care for either one of those, but so be it. This Beatle-maniac is slinking away in shame (good grief!). My brain really isn’t functioning all that well today!

    • John says:

      Thanks for the mini review. For me, the puzzle didn’t bring much pleasure.

  8. Chris Wooding says:

    I think Jenni missed a theme entry in the LAT: prime [mini] ster.

  9. Noam D. Elkies says:

    typo: one I too many ALGORITHiMIC.

  10. Zulema says:

    Very late, like next day, but the Patrick Berry was an absolute joy, as everyone already said. As for the NYT, too many bones to pick in it.

Comments are closed.