Friday, May 29, 2020

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:22 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 6:49 (Rachel) 


Universal 5:40 (Jim P) 


Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 29 20, no. 0529

NIGHTY-NIGHT” is a mighty compelling entry at 11 pm, isn’t it? It sure is. My plight is that I can focus on pretty much anything except this crossword blog right now. Let me make a slight effort and fight through this before lights out.

Fave fill: I tell ya, as far as international currencies go, RUPIAH is among the coolest-looking words. I always like an ESCHEW but wanted this entry to be ESCHER when I had the first 5 letters. Most kids today may never know the nerdy joy of leafing through a WORLD ATLAS for fun. BATGIRL is good. The STAIRMASTER has been shunted aside by other brands of step machines but I feel like it’s the Kleenex or Xerox of its category. “CLOSE ONE!”, whew.

Name I did not know: 57a. [Evans who was the 2009-10 N.B.A. Rookie of the Year], TYREKE. Was booted out of the NBA last year because of drug use, can apply for reinstatement to the league after two years.

Vocab word I never, ever remember the meaning of: 18a. [Explanation for the existence of evil in God’s presence], THEODICY. The atheist’s explanation is simpler.

Five more things:

  • 31a. [___ kick], ON A. I am on a jigsaw puzzle kick this spring, and not at all on a book-reading kick. Also not on a crossword kick.
  • 43a. [It comes to light], MOTH. Great clue.
  • 46a. [Certain Afrocentrist, informally], RASTA. I totally misread the clue as having Afrofuturist instead and was perplexed by the answer. Black Lives Matter, even if you aren’t particularly Afrocentrist. It’s just about respect for humanity, which seems to be in short supply in some circles. (Don’t you dare whine about this remark “politicizing” things or “shoving P.C. culture down our throats.”)
  • 10d. [Thrombus, more familiarly], CLOT. I nearly always nail the medical terminology in crosswords. (Just don’t clue ANEMIA as weakness, a STENT as a surgically inserted thing, or an EEG or ECG as a “scan.”)
  • 23d. [Lightning unit], VOLT. Yep, I filled in BOLT first.

Four stars from me. Nighty-night!

Alan Massengill and Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/29/20 • Fri • Massengill, Chen • solution • 20200529

Left-right symmetry on this one. Each themer clue contains a word that is idiomatically ‘separated’ which in the answer is literally separated, as highlighted by the circled squares:

  • 17a. [Feeling upon being stretched thin] UTTER EXHAUSTION ( t h i n ).
  • 26a. [Earth-shattering realization] THE AWFUL TRUTH ( e a r t h ).
  • 44a. [Cutting-edge fashion icon] COUTURE DESIGNER ( e d g e ).
  • 59a. [Exhibit widespread political appeal] WIN BY A LANDSLIDE ( w i d e ).

Pretty well done.

I realize some editors are unconcerned by duplications, but when it rises above triviality and is easily averted, it seems to be there should be no excuse for such distracting inelegance. This crossword has 40a [Cook in fat in a closed pot] BRAISE and 49a [Spare tire makeup] FAT. I never know whether to ascribe it to indifference or sloppiness, but it’s certainly disruptive to this solver. Duplication in-grid is seen with 50a [Hoops hanger] NET and 2d [ISP suffix] DOT NET, in which NET is abbreviated from network, a compound of net + work.

Contrast those with 15a [“Killer, dude!”] AWESOME, which duplicates the root word in AWFUL in 26a—I would have preferred this, too, was avoided, but I don’t find it quite as transgressive.

  • 42a [Cary Grant’s chin dimple et al.] TRAITS.
  • 4a [Like a honeymoon couple’s bed, perhaps] PETALED. I get it, but that seems like a strange construction to me.
  • 22a [Browses] SURFS, 34d [Browsing target] SITE.
  •  4d [Not all there] PARTIAL. Good, subtle misdirection.
  • 36d [Animal house] CAGE. I never care for such framings and typically call them out whenever I encounter them.
  • 46d [Water brand] DASANI.
    “Coca-Cola uses tap water from local municipal water supplies, filters it using the process of reverse osmosis, and adds trace amounts of minerals, including magnesium sulfate (epsom salt), potassium chloride and sodium chloride (table salt). Coca-Cola announced they would be distributing Dasani water in new packaging made of 30% plant-derived plastics. Unlike other plant-based packaging, the bottles are compatible with standard recycling plants and represent up to a 25% reduction in carbon emissions compared to standard water bottles, though this still represents 2000 times the energy usage of tap water.” – Wikipedia
  • 43d [Cantaloupe coverings] RINDS.

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

I loved this puzzle.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Natan Last • Friday, May 29, 2020

To get right to the heavy stuff, I think the central entry of PRISON ABOLITION feels particularly apt today, as we are flooded with images of the natural result of the structural violence our current carceral system inflicts against black and brown people in this country. I’m grateful to Natan for highlighting this [Cause for Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore], and I’ll save my HOT TAKES on the righteous uprisings against police brutality for another day. Also filed under “heavy stuff”: TENT CITY, clued here as “Many a Palestinian encampment post-1948 expulsion.” YUP.

It’s a little tonally challenging to transition from that to the less-heavy stuff, but here we go: the central staircase! It’s great. I’m a little miffed because *I* am building a puzzle around DINE AND DASH right now, but I suppose there’s enough dining and dashing to go around. I really liked TIDAL BASINS as well, and although I had never heard of MEMENTO MORI, it’s pretty clear what it means, and it’s awesome. Other excellent long entries include FINAGLING and PROP COMIC, the latter of which had my favorite clue of the day [One who has a thing for jokes?]. I also lol’d at the clue on OMANIS [Muscat-eers?].

A few other things:

  • I think some solvers may be unfamiliar with the *extremely online* (callback!) neologism DIRTBAG Left, but hopefully there were enough breadcrumbs in the clue [___ Left, neologism for some progressive vulgarians] for people to piece it together?
  • Names I didn’t know: AMIS Kingsley, COREY Glover
  • Ok this is super nerdy and niche so feel free to skip this bullet point, but I only knew TESS was [Della Reese’s character on “Touched by an Angel”] because of a Dungeons & Dragons podcast called The Adventure Zone where one of the characters can cast a spell that calls down a guardian angel to protect him and they call her Della Reese..?
  • I cannot overstate how much I loved both the entry and clue for DELINT [Tend to a fuzzy navel]
  • One quibble: does DOWN ON imply that one was previously *up* on? I’m not sure it does, so the “anymore” in the clue [Not into anymore] feels superfluous. But maybe you have to have been up on something to be down on it?

Overall, pretty much all the stars from me. No bad fill, lots of strong entries, A+ wordplay. So good!!!

P.S. Thanks to pannonica for filling in for me on Monday!

P.P.S. The NYT has converted its Sunday Travel section into a Sunday “At Home” section, and will be running 3 minis and a midi each week. Soooo if you want to see my print NYT debut, look for my midi there this weekend!

Debbie Ellerin’s Universal crossword, “4G”—Jim P’s review

Theme: The title says it all. Each theme entry has four Gs.

Universal crossword solution · “4G” · Debbie Ellerin · Fri., 5.29.20

  • 17a [Catchphrase for a bumbling cyborg inspector] “GO GO GADGET!” This was a fun one to discover since my kids watched a lot of this show way back when.
  • 27a [Group that illegally transports goods] SMUGGLING RING
  • 43a [Scolding with a single digit] FINGER WAGGING
  • 57a [Travel bag ID] LUGGAGE TAG

Simple and clean with fun entries.

I’m loving KER-PLOP, SMIDGENS, DOO-WOP, and WASABI in the fill. BROCHURE ain’t half bad either. Nothing to grumble about too much beyond the partial NOT ON.

There’s a definite and welcome positive vibe in the fill and clues: See [Gentle souls] for LAMBS, [Become well] for HEAL, CURES, ANNIE singing “Tomorrow”, [“Eat ___ Love”] for PRAY, [“Love conquers all,” for example], MERCI, AMIGAS, and [“___ the Rainbow”] for OVER. In these days of sickness, pain, and violence, even words of peace from a crossword can be healing. This was much appreciated by me.

One clue I’ll note: 61a. [“I’ll have what ___ having”]. SHE’S. From that memorable When Harry Met Sally scene. Did you know that the woman speaking the classic line was director Rob Reiner’s mother?

A fine, easy, breezy Friday puzzle. 3.6 stars.

The “OVER the Rainbow” clue which immediately followed OAHU can’t help but bring to mind the classic version of the song by IZ. I’ve heard it countless times but never saw the video. It seems like a hopeful aid in dark times.

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32 Responses to Friday, May 29, 2020

  1. Michael says:

    “Just don’t clue ANEMIA as weakness, a STENT as a surgically inserted thing, or an EEG or ECG as a ‘scan.'” You can add EDEMA as a cause of swelling to that list.

    Nice birthday puzzle from Sam today. My only nit is the rationale to use a foreign clue at 30D for a perfectly legitimate English word (PANE).

    • pseudonym says:

      Agree about PANE but a superb puzzle nonetheless

    • JohnH says:

      I’m not half as fussy. RHUD defines ANEMIA as a cause of weakness and MW11C gives as a second definition “lack of vitality.” A STENT is inserted into what counts to me as surgery, even if it’s a less invasive procedure than cutting into your chest, and I’d have said that the practitioner is still likely to be a surgeon. An EDEMA is defined as the effusion of fluid into tissues or cavities, which surely sounds like a case of swelling, and surely, too, most people think of it as one. I’m even ok with thinking loosely of an EEG or ECG as a scan, even if I know it’s not that kind of body imaging strictly speaking. I happily (or unhappily) accept my regular ECG and chest MRI to monitor a certain condition as part of the same diagnostic. Anyhow, we’ve better nits to pick.

      I’m finding the SW of the NYT really hard, although I’ve footholds.

      • JohnH says:

        Did finish the NYT. I’d ERASER and already concluded that AIMS AT for attempts to hit must be wrong, once I thought of TROT out, but it just took longer to come up with a replacement and the rest of what lay to its immediate east. The use of “plant” in cluing CANNERY is a clever deception.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        You’ll pardon this former medical editor if I don’t yield these points to an art critic with a dictionary. Are you as keen on using dictionary support to justify usages like saying “literally” to mean “virtually”? Why, it’s right there as definition 2 in Merriam-Webster. Or the one-L, one-word “alright” instead of “all right”? Also in MW.

        • David L says:

          Speaking as a science writer and editor, it’s unreasonable IMO to insist on scientifically precise word usages in everyday contexts. Anemia in particular has widespread metaphorical use, and I don’t see any problem with that.

          Non-literal use of ‘literally’ is very well established, as is ‘alright.’ I might object to them in some contexts but in general I take no issue with them.

          • Me says:

            The original post said that EDEMA is not a “cause” of swelling, not that it wasn’t a “case” of swelling. EDEMA is not a “cause” of swelling; it’s the swelling itself.

            ANEMIA is close to ANEMIC, which is often used non-medically (“that was a pretty ANEMIC effort”), so that doesn’t bother me that much. STENT is a gray area, I think, because it is inserted by a procedure. But calling an EKG/ECG a “scan” bothers me to no end. I don’t think any medical professional would call that test a scan. The first time I encountered a puzzle that called an EKG a “scan,” I had to rely on crosses because it would never have occurred to me that someone would call an EKG a scan.

            • Jenni Levy says:

              Of those, “scan” also bothers me the most. It’s just flat-out wrong. I can deal with “anemia” because of the metaphorical usage. “Stent” is also wrong – most are not inserted by surgery, although some are.

              And EDEMA was wrong for no reason. It’s not that hard to check that stuff. It’s just not.

  2. Anne says:

    I loved this puzzle. Was it a bit easy for a Friday or just on my wavelength?

  3. MattF says:

    Liked the NYT today. Hard to get a foothold, but once I got one, it gradually filled in.

  4. Becky says:

    LAT: The circled letters in the second theme entry spell EARTH, which is shattered.

  5. Mutman says:

    “THEODICY. The atheist’s explanation is simpler.”

    Yeah, when you don’t believe in anything, not thinking is much simpler.

  6. Stephen B. Manion says:

    Superb puzzle that almost atones for BIBIMBAP in the Spelling Bee in the past week.


    • davey says:

      what’s wrong with bibimbap?

      • Stephen B. Manion says:

        On a personal note, I had a long string of Queen Bees broken because of that word.

        As a matter of fairness, I would venture that over 95% of solvers had never heard or seen the word. My wife is Asian and we eat Chinese, Korean and Thai food frequently and neither one of us had ever heard of it. But what makes it unfair IMO is that it is an impossible word to intuit. In the last final gasp to get the QB, no one who had never heard that word would string those letters together, nor would anyone think they had discovered a word if they did.


        • Me says:

          I’m surprised that BIBIMBAP was included in the Spelling Bee, given how many words get excluded from their lists. I don’t think BIBIMBAP is unfair per se but I would think it would be considered to be a foreign-language word. It’s extremely common on Korean restaurant menus. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a Korean restaurant where they don’t have it, and they even have it at my local Trader Joe’s. It’s really good. But I don’t think Spelling Bee accepts words like AHI, TORO, UNAGI, and other sushi terms, and those terms are much more widely used than BIBIMBAP.

          • pannonica says:

            AHI at three letters is too short. TORO is accepted, but perhaps in a different sense. FUGU is also legit, as is (I believe) NORI.

          • Stephen B. Manion says:

            My unfairness comment is strictly tongue in cheek. I love to learn new words and the next time we go to Korean restaurant I plan to order BIBIMBAP. The only other word I did not know and had never heard of in the past month was COLCANNON, an Irish potato and cabbage dish. Sam frequently allows food items while not allowing far more common flora and fauna words.

            • pannonica says:

              Don’t forget CALLALOO.

              And take my word for it, there are plenty of relatively common flora and fauna words not accepted.

            • Rachel Fabi says:

              Bibimbap is quite possibly my favorite food, you’re in for a treat!

            • david glasser says:

              I recommend the dolsot bibimbap, extra crunchy in a hot stone bowl. (And I’m pretty sure not super amenable to takeout… sigh, I miss restaurants.)

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Given the popularity these days of Korean restaurants, Korean BBQ, and fermented foods like kimchi that are good for gut flora, I’d wager more Americans playing Spelling Bee know BIBIMBAP than PHILHELLENE or assorted rare inflections of familiar words. The one rule of Spelling Bee word lists, of course, is They Are Wildly Capricious.

  7. damefox says:

    LAT: I was less bothered by the duplication of grid/clue words (actually I didn’t notice most of them) than I was by the duplication of the circled letters in the non-circled letters of theme entries. The fact that there are two T’s you could circle and have UTTER EXHAUSTION illustrate “stretched thin,” not to mention another T later in the word, makes that a pretty sloppy theme entry. All of them fall prey to this flaw in some form, which made me much less impressed with the theme than I otherwise would have been.

  8. Bryan says:

    NY THYMES, er, Times: Does anyone ever say thymes plural? There’s a brand name of bath and body products called Thymes, but that’s not what this clue is getting at. Also, ATE LUNCH seems a little green-painty to me. But overall, this puzzle was a really fun challenge, with clues that were very clever. Pretty solid Friday puzzle, and now I know who TYREKE Evans is.

  9. Billy Boy says:

    I do not get the low number for Universal today. They are never Friday hard and it’s just fine.

    PRISON ABOLITION – a few bad cops exist in every city and MN has some particularly inhumane ones this week and prison obsolescence is the answer? Cops can be murderers, just as Palestinians get quite the deal.

    I’ll leave it there. I expect preaching from the New Yorker.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Palestinians get quite the deal? What exactly do you mean? Please be clear, because the allusion makes no sense. Palestinians are exiled and oppressed by a colonizing force. What about that is “quite the deal?”

      If it were only “a few bad cops,” then they’d be gone. They’re not gone. This plays out over and over and over again because the system is corrupt and fundamentally racist. So yeah, prison abolition would be a place to start.

      If the idea that Black Lives Matter is anathema to you, you can find another place to discuss crosswords. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

      • Billy Boy says:

        “Raw” deal. I’m not going to argue with you, I’d offer Judicial reform for actual Justice, not legal machinations. The condemnation of MN police actions has been pretty widespread.

        I don’t know where you get the BLM being anathema. You’d be rather surprised at my work history and the actual activism I’ve done in person.

  10. Martin says:

    Gigantic windstorm here. Power is out. Not sure when it will be restored. Puzzles (wsj, jonesin, wapo, universal) will be flaky for a while, starting pretty soon. Sorry.

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