Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay! Got waylaid by chatting with a friend and doing laundry, and would you look at the time?
I liked this spinning 68-worder. Fave fill includes EPIDURAL, WI-FI PASSWORD (clue is [Deterrent to squatting], not sure what “squatting” is in Wi-Fi terms), the STEM (sci, tech, engineering, math) PIPELINE, COP SHOWS, FIRES OFF, MARSHMALLOWS (though the grody little things in breakfast cereals fail to meet my marshmallow test, they are an abomination), THE ALPS (worlds better than a singular ALP as an entry), and TINY TOON.
In the “WTF is that?” category, we have 8d. [Classic chairs with shield-shaped backs], HEPPLEWHITES. Here’s an explanation of that. Today I learned that I have no Hepplewhites.
- 19a. [Pichelsteiner, pozole and pot-au-feu], STEWS. Never heard of the first one, but three alliterative names can be more fun than just two.
- 18a. [Shot in the back], EPIDURAL. Boy howdy, is it ever. It’s just as well you can’t see what the anesthesiologist is doing back there.
- 29a. [Wanders around LAX or JFK?], TSA. As in “people who perform wanding.”
- 27d. [Hot rods?], SPITS. You know how chicken satay’s usually served on wooden skewers that are a pain to pull out? We like Joy’s Noodles here in Chicago, where the satay arrives woodless.
- 37d. [What ataxophobes crave], NEATNESS. A new word for me.
Never even saw: 26a. [Material in doblones], ORO. I’m guessing doblones is Spanish for (gold) doubloons.
4.25 stars from me. A fun one.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This puzzle was a *breeze* in two ways: I flew through it, and it was also cool and refreshing. There was a nice mix of new stuff (like TRUE CRIME podcasts… although I guess Serial was somehow six years ago now! Taking recommendations for new TRUE CRIME podcasts in the comments) and old stuff (like MOVIETONE and THE ROBE, to which I say OK BOOMER). (Just kidding, I would never say OK BOOMER to Patrick Berry. Or anyone.).
- I really wanted to the clue for TRAIL OFF to TRAIL OFF. As in, “Fail to finish one’s…”
- WAR MACHINE is so evocative and scary!
- Not knowing EVONNE Goolagong meant I had YVONNE in there for far too long
- Gotta love ASCII art. Image here borrowed from the ASCII Art Archive.
Overall, I guess I don’t have a ton to say about this puzzle. It’s a nice smooth easy themeless puzzle, and I enjoyed it! Plenty of stars from me.
Emma Oxford’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #7″—Rebecca’s review
Another wonderful debut from the Inkubator – and after this one, looking forward to future puzzles from Emma Oxford!
THEME: While this puzzle is officially themeless, there is a very impressive twist.
- 53A [Every entry in this puzzle, except this one] ONE WORD ANSWER
Fun themeless puzzle today didn’t notice it while solving, I was very impressed seeing that aside from that, all of the answers were single words. Quite a feat.
Smooth puzzle, particularly with such limitations. TRICHROIC was the hardest answer for me to get to – I needed all the crossings in CHROIC. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen THROE in the singular – but it works.
I’m always a fan of ROADIE [Band aide?] PUNs so that made me smile while solving. Good timing on 18-Across, since we’re all kind of forced INTROVERTS now. A lot of answers here that I just enjoy as words, like VIRTUOSO, SNAFUS, and BOMBAST, kept me going throughout the grid. As long one-word answers, FALSIFICATION and PERFECTIONIST both have fun letters to play with and kept it interesting.
And here’s the music video for ANACONDA – which felt so much more risque in 2014 than it does now
Dick Shlakman’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up
Each theme answer spans the grid and each adds ER to a base phrase.
- 17a [How to get buns of steel?] is TAKE THE A TRAINER. I presume A is a stand-in for ass, because otherwise this doesn’t make much sense.
- 25a [Axes one of the market employees?] is BOUNCES A CHECKER. See, now that makes sense.
- 43a [“All these steaks are too well done”?] is NOT ONE RED CENTER. I have an image of an irate maitre d’ dressing down a chef in a steakhouse.
- 57a [Hilariously react to a butt-baring prankster?] is HOWL AT THE MOONER. This works although MOONER isn’t really a thing.
Not a bad theme. Also not a great theme. I’m impressed that Dick found four 15s that fit the formula.
A few other things:
- 5a [Acronym often seen with a plus sign] is LBGQT. It’s good to see this show up in crosswords. Representation matters.
- Every time I see SRA in a puzzle, I think of the reading cards we used in elementary school. Apparently they’re still making them.
- E–SALE and E–MAG should go in the e-trash.
- I’m not familiar with HOSE as a synonym for cheat.
- I’m sure the creators of “Frozen” didn’t deliberately create two princesses with four-letter name that both end in A on purpose to confuse crossword solvers. Or maybe they did.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that LAHORE is the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province, and that IHOP has the same corporate parent as Applebee’s.
George Jasper’s Universal crossword, “Rapid Scramble”—Jim P’s review
WARP DRIVE is our theme revealer (57a, [Theoretical spacecraft system, and a hint to the circled letters]), indicating that the letters in DRIVE are “warped” in the other theme answers (i.e. scrambled).
- 17a [Speedy drop at an air show] POWER DIVE. A slight inelegance here with the extra E at the end.
- 33a [Unfortunate one] POOR DEVIL. Fun entry.
- 39a [Common military uniform color] OLIVE DRAB.
Fairly standard as these types of themes go, but the entries are solid and lively, if on the shorter side. There are the added bonuses of STAR and TREK (13d, [With 49-Down, classic sci-fi show featuring 57-Across]), which is a nice touch, especially for those of us who are of the NERD (63a) persuasion.
In the fill, I’m liking ON THE SLY, POSEIDON, EXTREME, VIOLIST, REMORSE, ASPIRIN, “SEE HERE!”, CASPER, the SLAMMER, and the L-BOMB. No doubt, having four shortish theme entries allows for the fill to shine, but it still takes some work to get there. Nicely done!
Clues of note:
- 23a. [It becomes another instrument when “F” is added]. LUTE. Never noticed that. Nice clue.
- 3d. [Animal in the New Testament?]. NEWT. Cryptic-style clue which took me a while to see. The first four letters of “New Testament” are NEWT.
- 27d. [Spanish speaker’s “Enough!”]. NO MAS. Technically, “basta!” means “enough!” I keep waiting for BASTA to be used in a grid.
Solid little puzzle with lots of shiny fill. 3.7 stars.
“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
It was a great puzzle a few weeks ago and it is a great puzzle today. But feel like I didn’t get a Friday NYT’s.
any feeling that i might have been cheated is far eclipsed by the feeling that i was treated a few weeks ago!
I did the easier version of the clues two weeks ago (or the “futon” division clues – these are the “Chesterfield” clues I believe), so it wasn’t exactly the same experience for me, but the puzzle took me >16 min the first time, and today I did it in 6:44, so I must’ve retained some of it.
NYT — I participated in Crossword Tournament from Your Couch, but (thankfully) didn’t get to the final puzzle. I would feel a little deflated if I had already solved that puzzle only to now see it appear in place of the Friday NYT. To me, if the NYT wanted to host the puzzle it should have been posted as a bonus.
Inkubator — Really impressive feat of constructing! And enjoyable to boot. I often get annoyed by a surplus of awkward multi-word phrases in a puzzle (e.g. HAVE AT), so this was a nice change of pace. 5D was the only real compromise in the fill, and I found it inferable.
Also — now is a great time to subscribe to the Inkubator! Anyone who regularly reads here is almost certain to appreciate it. My dream is that they get enough subscriptions to bump the release schedule up to every week.
LAT – E-mag and E-sale????? E-gad……….
Noted and blogged, but not as eloquently as you put it!
can we strike “neato” from every constructors word list??
when is the last time anyone ever used this word??
I have to confess being a regular user of said emphatic reply.
Thanks for the nice review, Rebecca! (This is Emma here.) I’m glad people are enjoying this puzzle!
Thanks for the great puzzle!! Lots of fun and like I said – so so impressive!
I did not participate in the Couch Tournament so the puzzle was new to me. I thought it was the hardest puzzle of the year. Not unfair, just hard. Was there a crib or high chair division?
I raced through the NW but came to pretty much a crashing halt after that starting with the completely new HEPPLEWHITE. My admiration goes out to anyone who raced through this.
“Take the A Train”, the signature song of the Duke Ellington Jazz Band, and recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and virtually every other jazz singer in the 1940s, was selected to the NPR “NPR 100” as one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century. In my theme entry in the LAT, the A does not stand for ass but rather is part of the title of the song, which is the base phrase. Dick Shlakman
I am in the same boat as Jenni and I am very familiar with the song.
Adding ‘er’ to the title gives us TAKE THE A TRAINER. I was confused when I entered the answer in the grid because it seemed to me that the ‘A’ was just sitting there not contributing to the theme. Jenni’s explanation did use the ‘A’ as part of the theme but it seems that is not correct.
I really liked the other three theme entries especially 43a.
I know the song. Your explanation makes the entry very confusing and not aligned with the other entries at all. Which was my point.
Seems to me you want to take the “A” trainer for buns of steel. With a lesser trainer you might get… buns of flab?
Maybe that was constructors thought. That was how I parsed it and it made perfect sense and got a smile from me.
“Take the a trainer” is how we have to parse the themer, right? Since an “A trainer” is not a thing, we are left with an ungrammatical phrase with a definite and indefinite article jammed together. Defining “A” as short for “ass” is the only way it makes sense.
Re Rachel’s request in her New Yorker write-up for a good “true crime” podcast – the series “In the Dark” from American Public Media had a gripping first season which recounts (over nine episodes) a crime which went unsolved for decades, and its eventual resolution. Not for everyone, obviously, but if you like that genre, it’s worth a listen. (The series ran a few years back, but I only heard it last year). Details at:
NYT: I looked at the Xwordinfo grid for this one, and found out that FLOWS is making its Shortz Era debut. I don’t know why, but I find it fascinating that after almost 30 years and thousands of puzzles a totally ordinary 5-letter word is debuting in 2020.
NYT: Squatters refers to people who take a table at a cafe and camp there all day. As long as you keep ordering drinks and tip the baristas, I say it’s all Kool and the Gang. I admit to judging unfairly people who don’t order every hour or so (it really depends on what you’re ordering). I’m trying not to. J. K. Rowling did it while writing the first Harry Potter novel, and what a blessing that is.
The NE corner was brutal: HEPPLEWHITES right next to the REO clues (I know it as an answer, not as a clue!) was mean. 32:33 for me but I’ll take it!
I think the clue/answer for 30-A are referring to a different type of wi-fi squatting – i.e., using an open wi-fi signal without the owner’s permission/knowledge. Many cafes have password protection on their wi-fi signals and give it out to customers or put it on a sign next to the cash register. This doesn’t do anything to protect against the type of squatting you’re describing.
The REO clues were gimmes for me. I live in the Lansing, Michigan area, where Ransom Olds first produced Oldsmobiles and, later, Reo trucks – notably the Reo Speed Wagon.