Friday, May 15, 2020

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:45 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 9:59 (Rachel) 


Universal 4:21 (Jim P) 


Christopher Adams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 15 20, no. 0515

If you enjoyed this puzzle, check out the constructor’s other work at his arctanxwords site.

We’ve got another pinwheely grid with stagger-stacked 11s in the middle, a 66-worder. Highlighgs include cinema’s MEAN STREETS, FASHIONISTA, JINX (“You owe me a Coke!”), LIL KIM, Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME, “BANK ON IT,” KEPT IN TOUCH, Politifact’s PANTS ON FIRE Truth-O-Meter rating (here’s a current one, McConnell falsely claiming the Obama administration left no pandemic game plan, hmph), and MATHLETE (I’m sure Christopher, like me, was in Mathletes, but the clue, [One who’s used to adding pressure?], suggests it’s an arithmetic competition, but I don’t recall there being any addition events at the high school level). I also like the THOR/CHRIS Hemsworth combo. And ECLAIRS! And SKYNET, which I was immersed in at some theme park Terminator attraction.

Not so keen on “I’M NOT OK” as a crossword entry, singular JITTER clued as [Nervous feeling] (that would be jitters, though JITTER is a legit word with a different angle), and partial I PUT (partial I MUST is less bothersome). Is plural SONARS legit? Probably it is, but it feels funny.

Four more things:

  • 7a. [Lines on a record] was a tough clue for CRIMES. Lines in a criminal record, rather than, say, grooves on a musical record.
  • 7d. [Nail care brand], CUTEX. Largely a nail polish remover brand, much less a factor in general nail care.
  • 35a. [An official color of the University of Texas], BURNT ORANGE. Anyone else have just the BUR in place and then fill in BURGUNDY … RED? No? Just me?
  • 39a. [Impress], STAMP. If you like frogs, Sesame Street Muppets (sorry, those sold out after I bought them), wild orchids, the Harlem Renaissance, or JFK, you can buy first-class Forever stamps from the US Postal Service.

3.9 stars from me.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/15/20 • Fri • Wechsler • solution • 20200515

In the theme phrases a double-S becomes an ST bigram.

  • 16a. [Furniture maker’s designated stock of wood?] CHEST PIECES (chess pieces).
  • 31a. [Accommodate Simba at one’s hotel?] TAKE A WILD GUEST (… wild guess).
  • 36a. [Foggy playground vista?] A SWING AND A MIST. Atmoshperic.
  • 57a. [Shipment of nautical parts?] MAST TRANSIT (mass transit).

Not an overly ambitious theme, but it gets the job done, and it’s well executed in that the fill is quite clean, nor are there SS bigrams anywhere in the grid. NICE touch (26a)

  • 59a [Gender-neutral pronoun] ONE. Prominently duping the clue phrasing in themer 31a. 20a [Like the Grinch]: oh he’s a MEAN one.
  • 15a [Word with honey or mud] PIE. Tryna get me to share a Mudhoney song?
  • 19a [Silent star of early talkies] HARPO. Liked this clue.
  • 38d [Units for gamers] WIIS. Fooled me, as I was thinking of LIVES, STAGES, etc. And Apple-illiterate that I am, I also thought the 50d [Air 2 or Pro] was an IMAC rather than IPAD, which led me to put MARIA rather than PINTA for 55a [1492 vessel].
  • 48d [“Things sweet to __ prove in digestion sour”: “Richard II”] TASTE. Note to self: time to lay out some Terro liquid ant traps. The borax does a number on their insides.
  • 46a [A real keeper, romantically] MR RIGHT. Was kinda hoping we might see MS RIGHT this time. Hmm, would MX RIGHT be the ONE?

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword — Rachel’s writeup

Let’s start with the obvious: this puzzle has the word SUCKITUDE in it! SUCKITUDE is such a funny word! And Patrick Berry wrote it into a puzzle! I’m so pleased, I could end my review right here with five stars. But then we wouldn’t be able to celebrate the other great things about this puzzle, so against my better judgment, I will proceed with this write-up.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Patrick Berry • Friday, May 15, 2020

The layout of the grid is a bit of a pro forma themeless design with some stacks of 10s in the NW/SE and some nice long stuff through the middle. For our stacking pleasure today we have PASTA SALAD / ASTOR PLACE / STAMP ALBUM and AUTOMOBILE / DREAM WORLD / SEA MONKEYS. These are all pretty solid, and I loved the clue on STAMP ALBUM (It’s bound to help a philatelist?) and the Very New Yorker ™ clue on AUTOMOBILE (Ray Bradbury called it “the most dangerous weapon in our society”).

During the solve, I realllly slowed down on that SE stack—I had DREAM LANDS in there for far too long (thrown off by a misreading of the clue which I thought indicated a plural). And now I can’t get the Rilo Kiley song DREAMWORLD out of my head, which I am ok with. I also don’t think I know what SEA MONKEYS are or how they could be sold in comic books. Ok, I googled it and um, here is this article in the NYT with the subtitle “A former 1960s bondage-film actress is waging legal combat with a toy company for ownership of her husband’s mail-order aquatic-pet empire.” As today’s NYT might say, a lot to UNPACK there!

A few more notes:

  • Loved the resonance between COCKIEST and the clue on HILLARY (“No one remembers who climbed Mt. Everest the second time” speaker), although I can think of another more modern HILLARY who could have been used instead…!
  • I’m a tad skeptical that anyone actually says TROUBLESHOT; this feels like the sort of verb that only exists in the present/future tense?
  • I can never remember how to spell ARCHIPELAGO but decided there probably weren’t any nations bordering the Gulf of Oman that started with the letter E.
  • Fill I could live without: PASHA, LANA, PIKER. What is a PIKER??
  • Went down another rabbithole reading up on REEBOK and their logo. It seems like maybe the Union Jack wasn’t in the original original logo? Unclear. Here’s a graphic. 
  • I definitely thought VITALIS provided a different kind of…vitality… to men. My bad.
  • Man I love Lily TOMLIN
  • I know I was carping about the overuse of cross-referencing last week but ACUTE / ANGLE seems like a missed opportunity, especially given the cluing ANGLE on ACUTE!

Overall, most of the stars from me. Thanks for a puzzle absolutely devoid of (and filled with) SUCKITUDE, Patrick Berry!

Winston Emmons’s Universal crossword, “FLing”—Jim P’s review

Theme: The letters FL– are prepended to common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “FLing” · Winston Emmons · Fri., 5.15.20

  • 20a [Dispute about what to plant in the garden?] FLORAL ARGUMENT
  • 36a [Gift to a new tenant in England?] FLAT PRESENT. Unlike the other entries, the second word changes meaning entirely.
  • 43a [Herbaceous plant, before its seeds are put in a blender?] FLAX TO GRIND
  • 54a [Unexpected arrival of midweek?] FLASH WEDNESDAY. I’m still trying to make sense of that clue. To me, the entry really wanted [Weekly time for a little bit of exposure?]

Enjoyable theme with long, evocative base phrases and entries with good surface sense.

Only two fill entries are longer than six letters, and they might be negatives in other contexts—LIFELESS and EXTRA DRY—but in a crossword, they add some color. The rest of the grid, though, is loaded with 4s and 5s of the standard fare: ORATE, OPT IN, LEIS, EONS, EPEE, etc., etc. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it LIFELESS or EXTRA DRY, but a little more sparkle would be nice. Maybe it’s a touch dry.

Clues of note:

  • 46a. [Element in fire extinguishers?]. TIN. Cryptic-style clue since the letters TIN are found in “extinguishers.”
  • 52d. [Catches, as fly balls]. SHAGS. I don’t know this definition for this word. I only know the carpet/hair meaning and the British meaning. I probably wouldn’t tell a Brit that I was shagging balls.

Solid add-some-letters theme, but the fill could use some sparkle. 3.3 stars.

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15 Responses to Friday, May 15, 2020

  1. HUDA AKIL says:

    NYT: Well done!
    Can someone explain why the word “Forever” has a strike through it on USA Forever stamps? It makes it seem like they’re taking it back– that the stamps are not good forever or even worse, that USA is not forever.
    Wait- I just decided to google it, and found the answer, in case you’re wondering:
    “The strike through the word FOREVER is to ensure that the illustration cannot be used as a stamp through technical reproductive means,”
    Maybe everyone already knew that… but it still looks weird.

    • philr says:

      Yeah, you can’t be too careful with forgers. Thank god they’re all so cheap they won’t spring for the $0.50 to buy an original to copy.

      • Mark Abe says:

        That’s $0.55 as of 1/27/2019.
        TIL: That “pâte à choux” is the official name for what I usually just call “eclair filling”.

      • Mutman says:

        Some numbskull in the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote in today to argue that by not providing pre-stamped envelopes for PA mail-in voting, it amounts to a poll tax of 50 cents. And that young people ‘don’t buy stamps’. I’ll leave it at that.

        Fun fact: there are only 2 grooves on a musical record — one on each side.

  2. Mark Abe says:

    That’s $0.55 as of 1/27/2019.
    TIL: That “pâte à choux” is the official name for what I usually just call “eclair filling”.

  3. Pamela Kelly says:

    Hi Mark, Pâte à choux is the eclair itself, not the filling. The filling is usually Pastry Cream. Pâte à choux can also make a Cream Puff.

  4. Michael Hanko says:

    Does anyone here know how to alert the WSJ that the online version of this week’s contest puzzle is broken?

    • Jim Peredo says:

      It’s working for me using Safari just now. But it appears to be a problem in certain browsers. It sounds like they know about the problem. If you can get to the comments section for the puzzle on the WSJ site, you can follow along with their progress or lack thereof.

  5. JohnH says:

    PIKER in TNY wasn’t at all foreign to me, and I can hardly object to it. My last to fall was the NE with the composer of The Book of Mormon. Up there, DEMIT was also new to me but, hey, maybe something I can use. Being out of touch again no doubt, I wanted “suckiness,” but the right answer looks rather nice.

  6. Stephen B. Manion says:

    A PIKER in my experience is someone who reneges on a deal. It is pejorative and has a sense of small-time, but I do not think it has any racist, anti-semitic or other such overtones.

    I enjoyed the NYT today. I was surprised at the cluing, which did not seem to fit what I would call a normal pattern.


  7. john mccabe says:

    WSJ downloaded an index file to my PC which froze not only the file explorer window but Chrome browser. I mean FROZE completely. Even a restart (manually) did not fix it. I finally stopped the chrome process using taskmanager. Whew.

  8. Billy Boy says:

    NYT solved on paper and on entering on the grid I put in PRIORS instead of CRIMES, took me a while to find it so my time was over 4:00! (hahaha) LAICAL (meh) and the made-up TEENTSY (ick) kept this puzzle from being thrilling, but it was pretty damned good.

    NYer was awfully good, not offended by PIKER with all my golf friends (Forgot to give kudos for Universal Golf puzzle the other day) over the pond, it gets bandied about quite a bit.

    Nit: 37A reminds me, but I cannot remember where
    – acute and obtuse aren’t “Opposite” but for an X-word clue I guess its fine.

    I really like Fridays

  9. Brenda Rose says:

    Amy – Thought of you when I jotted in “jitter” in NYT & glad you called on it. I said it 4 times & I’ll say it again. I have no prob brainlessly solving NYT Mon through Thur puzzles with respect to novices but am tired of this late 20’s trend in dumbing down Fri & Sat too. Is the present crossword editor too lazy to uphold the weekly graduated standard or is it that novices are too lazy to graduate?

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