Friday, July 3, 2020

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:25 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 5:39 (Rachel) 


Universal 5ish (Jim P) 


Hello, puzzle friends! There’s a grand new fund-raiser puzzle pack called Grids for Good, and you know how many crosswords are in it? The answer … is 42. Themed, themeless, and meta puzzles, something for everyone. Tons of familiar names among the constructors, plus some promising newbies. To get the puzzle pack, simply make a donation of at least $10 to a COVID-related charity or a racial justice organization of your choice, and email the receipt to the Grids for Good. You’ll receive both a PDF packet and a folder of .puz files. Go get yours!

Hal Moore’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 3 20, no. 0703

I like the center stack with the 11/15/11 entries, NON SEQUITUR, ANTHONY BOURDAIN, and SCOUT’S HONOR. I also like the twofer clue, 3d/14a. [One might be drawn], STRAW and BATH. (Anyone else pop SHADE into 3d first?) Most of the puzzle, thought, did not resonate strongly with me. PHOTOCURRENT, [Light-induced flow of electric charge]?? I prefer more in the vein of those central entries.

I’m confused by this: 48d. [Modern party planning aid], ECARD. In my experience, you send ecards in lieu of mailing a paper greeting card. To plan a party without mailing physical invitations, you might use Evite, which is in no sense an ECARD. Are there party-planning ECARDs now?

A couple more things:

  • 5d. Pokers, e.g.], FIRE IRONS. I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever seen this term before. Tire irons, yes, and fire pokers, yes. With a bunch of crossings in place, I filled in a T at the top, but it refused to work with the crossing. I might’ve tweaked the fill to get TIRE IRONS instead: TUNA and IPAD crossing UPON NAM ADA would work.
  • 23a. [Where Prince Kuhio Day is celebrated], HAWAII. I had not heard the name before. If you’re also curious to know more, here’s his Wiki bio. The Kingdom of  Hawaiʻi was overthrown in 1893 by “a coalition of American and European businessmen,” if you can believe it. Colonialism with a particularly strong capitalist vibe. (Isabel Allende is in a clue for AMOR, and there’s OMAR Khayyám, and then there are references to about five white men in the puzzle.)

3.3 stars from me.

Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “Person-to-Person”—Jim P’s review

A fun revealer today brings to mind a Seinfeld episode (see below). IT’S NOT YOU IT’S ME is a [Blame-shifting breakup line … or a homophonic hint to 20-, 34- and 41-Across]. Theme answers have the letter U changed to ME.

Universal crossword solution · “Person-to-Person” · Matthew Stock · Fri., 7.3.20

  • 20a. [Not follow a yellow highway sign?] RESIST THE MERGE. …urge.
  • 34a. [Very expensive statue of Lisa’s dad?] GOLDEN HOMER. …hour.
  • 41a. [Tableland in your average Southwest city?] ANYTOWN MESA. …U.S.A.

I must admit that since we’re working with homophones, I wanted the U sound and the ME sound to be consistent throughout the themers. When I saw that the U in “Anytown, USA” was being changed, I thought that’s what was happening, but obviously no one says “mee-sa” who isn’t Jar Jar Binks. Once I got myself past that mental hurdle, I was good with the theme.

DAIRY COW, STARSIGN, MINI-ME, DEEP END, and “WE GOOD” are the fill highlights, though I normally hear the latter as a question rather than a statement akin to [“It’s all cool”]. And MINI-ME usually gets an Austin Powers clue, but I guess it’s passed through to the vernacular enough to stand on its own.

Cluing was mostly straightforward, but felt fresh with plenty of modern references. All in all, a solid outing all around. 3.5 stars.

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

Wyna! I’m so excited to see this byline as the third of the three new hires over at the New Yorker crossword. One of my earliest crossword reviews was a review of Wyna’s NYT debut over on Rex Parker’s blog, so I would feel a kinship with Wyna on that basis alone. On top of that bit of kismet, however, Wyna’s puzzles also happen to be some of my favorites, and this puzzle illustrates exactly why that is. It’s got something for everyone: perfectly translated colloquialisms? Check! A perfect blend of old and new cultural references? Check! Cluing that made my laugh out loud and then google to verify that it’s true? Also check! Let’s get into this puzzle, and then a mea culpa.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Wyna Liu • Friday, July 3, 2020

Ok the clue on EVERY SINGLE TIME [Chronic toe stubber’s refrain to a loose floorboard] is maybe my favorite clue of 2020. It’s *so* spot-on and evocative. Sometimes with colloquialisms like this there are a few possible entries that could match the clue, but I threw down EVERY SINGLE TIME (a grid-spanner!) without hesitation and only a couple of crosses. This clue is perfect and hilarious and I am in awe.

Other excellent long stuff includes: HOT AND BOTHERED (14), TA-NEHISI COATES (14), GOLLY GEE, ROBOCALL, ALL I NEED. Building a 14-15-14 grid as clean as this one is no small feat, and I am in awe of Wyna’s lovely fill. But most of all, I enjoyed the cluing voice. In addition to EVERY SINGLE TIME‘s masterful clue, we have [“Whatever, they can do what they want”] for LET ’EM, [Word that can follow “one,” but not any other number] for SELF, [State of matter whose name comes from the Dutch pronunciation of “chaos”] for GAS, and the hilarious [“___ dum” (Wikipedia page that redirects to “Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)”)] for DA DA DA. I tested this out, and:

DA DA DA dum

A few other things:

  • I am glad to have learned about DORA MAAR in this puzzle, but the crossing with MALTIN was pretty rough. I just ran the alphabet until I got the cartoon pop-up.
  • Glad to see DOSA in the grid on the heels of Natan Last’s essay about getting more Indian representation in crosswords (although DOSA is one of the terms he lists as appearing more often than many others)

Whichhhh brings me to my mea culpa. On Monday, I counted men and women in the grid, and on Wednesday I did the same thing, and neither time did I acknowledge that representation is about more than just gender. As Kameron Austin Collins rightly pointed out in his incredibly thoughtful and generous comment, which I urge you to go back and read if you have not yet done so, this is the epitome of white feminism. I’m embarrassed that I wrote with so narrow a view to representation, without considering the intersecting identities that can contribute to marginalization in society and in puzzles. Amy helpfully pointed out that her version of the “Bechdel test for crosswords” involves counting white men and everyone else, which I think gets us closer to a sense of a puzzle’s inclusiveness. However, as Kam noted, keeping a tally for individual puzzles still does not grapple with the context of a constructor’s larger body of work or the standards we use to judge the “quality” of crossword puzzles.

Currently, I don’t have a better solution than tallying, but I would be very happy to hear suggestions for better measuring and addressing issues of representation in crosswords in the comments. I personally will strive to ensure that, in my reviews, “culture-free” puzzles that are ostensibly “neutral” on their face but which are “neutral” through their grounding in white middle-class dominant culture are called out as such. And until I/we devise a better system than tallying, I’m going to borrow Amy’s tool for measuring representation and count (cis) white men/everyone else. Wyna’s puzzle, which prominently features [Author and journalist who wrote “The Case for Reparations” (2014)] TA-NEHISI COATES, passes this “test” with flying colors. Full count below.

  • White Men: DALI / Keats / Leonard MALTIN / EL GRECO / HE-MAN / TYR / SALINGER
  • Everyone Else: DORA MAAR / TA-NEHISI COATES / LILLY PULITZER / ANITA Hill / Valerie Harper / Mary Tyler Moore / Courtney Love

Thank you to Kam, Amy, Natan, and everyone else engaged in this conversation about how we can do better as a community of puzzle lovers, and how I can do better as a blogger. Conversations around the marginalization of some identities can be challenging, and I deeply appreciate this community’s willingness to continue to engage. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (on twitter, probably) if you want to discuss this further.

As for Wyna’s puzzle, I have literally nothing bad to say for it. This is such an auspicious, fabulous start to Wyna’s New Yorker career! Can’t wait to see more from my crossword soulbuddy. All the stars from me!

Jennifer Marra and Caitlin Reid’s Inkubator crossword, “Getting Cheeky”—Jenni’s review

A good puzzle for a holiday weekend when many of us will be sitting around more than usual. Each theme answer has circles.

Inkubator, July 3, 2020, Jennifer Marra and Caitlin Reid, “Getting Cheeky,” solution grid

  • 20a [Indifferent Ayn Rand title] is ATLAS SHRUGGED. I love this clue. I also love the juxtaposition of Ayn Rand and ASS.
  • 29a [One who turns to food for comfort] is a STRESS EATER. Turning to food for comfort and solace is a perfectly reasonable coping mechanism as long as it’s not the only coping mechanism you’ve got.
  • 46a [Our planet, personified] is MOTHER EARTH.

And the revealer: 56a [Is able to pay the bills, or a clue to this puzzle’s theme] is MAKE ENDS MEET. Each of the circled words is another word for a person’s back end, formed at the meeting of two other words. Clever and well-executed, as we’ve come to expect from the Inkubator team.

A few other things:

  • 8a [Brigid of Kildare’s male counterpart, for short] is a great woman-centric clue for ST PAT (and the first installment of  today’s “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle”).
  • 8d [Some hits or some hits?] is SINGLES. The clue made me giggle. We’ll get some of the baseball hits at the end of this month in a travesty of a season which I will watch anyway.
  • 33d [Makeout ___] is SESH, and something you can do in quarantine. My friends in OB tell me the post-quarantine baby boom is real – one has at least half again as many babies due for her practice in January as she usually does.
  • PECKISH is a great word.
  • I filled in 60a from crossings and couldn’t figure out what a SOAMI was. It’s three words – SO AM I for  [“Me too!”].

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: Brigid of Kildare. I also did not know that Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana appeared in AVATAR (never seen it – I’m not a big fan of fictionalized colonial/great white savior narratives). And I’ve never heard of a WELSH terrier. Apparently they look kind of like Airedales.

Good dog!

David Alfred Bywaters’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 7/3/20 • Fri • Bywaters • solution • 20200703

Theme is more erudite-sounding recastings of idioms involving animals.

  • 17a. [Horse sense?] EQUINE AWARENESS.
  • 23a. [Cattle call?] BOVINE SUMMONS.
  • 39a. [Cat’s paw?] FELINE EXTREMITY.
  • 49a. [Fox hole?] VULPINE CAVITY.
  • 61a. [Hog wash?PORCINE ABLUTION.

To elaborate, these are all mammals, and most of the latinate adjectives correlate to subfamilies in taxonomy.

Foxhole and hogwash are generally compound words, but it’s understandable that they’ve been separated for consistency in cluing. The question marks ease this modification.

Notable dupes: 8d [Sailor’s guardian] ST ELMO, 34d [Jeanne d’Arc, e.g.: Abbr.] STE. 40d [Has arisen] IS UP, 63d [Increases] UPS.

7d [Small bird with a small-sounding name] PEWEE. The name is imitative of its call, and it looks as if the bird’s smallness inspired the use of the adjective in that latter sense. So, full circle!

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20 Responses to Friday, July 3, 2020

  1. Thanks for sharing Grids for Good, Amy!

  2. Anne says:

    NYT: A bit easier than the usual Friday? Or maybe it just suited me? I enjoyed the puzzle.

    FIRE IRONS might be British. It certainly didn’t raise an eyebrow for me – it’s a common term here. And Prince Kuhio just had to be Hawaiian, even though I have never heard the name.

  3. da kine says:

    I’m about halfway through Grids for Good and they are all quite enjoyable. Maybe a bit on the easy side but, again, I’m only halfway through.

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: I like it and found it on the easy side except for the southeast corner with ECARD. I have the same quibble as Amy. I promptly put down EVITE and tried to work around it until it was clearly not sustainable.
    I liked “IM IN HEAVEN” but it made me wistful. I think I’ll say it when I get to hug my grand kids again…

  5. Bob says:

    Today’s New Yorker crossword contains a pair of words I’ve never seen in a puzzle before, crossing each other. I suspect that’ll be a blind crossing for many.

    • Will says:

      Dora Maar and Maltin? Because that M got me

      • Norm says:

        That cross could have been almost any consonant. And the TOBIKO/DOSA cross was just as bad IMO. Not sure I’ve ever disliked a New Yorker puzzle as much as this one even though it had a lot of good stuff in it.

        • Bob says:

          TOBIKO/DOSA is the pair I was referring to.

          DORA MAAR and (Leonard) MALTIN have appeared in multiple New York Times puzzles.
          A bit of trivia: According to Guinness World Records, Maltin’s review of 1948’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” is the shortest movie review ever. I’ll bet you can guess what he wrote.

        • JohnH says:

          I like Indian food, so DOSA wasn’t my hard crossing with TOBIKO, but rather the term “bed head” in the clue for MATTED. But in due course I tried to attribute meaning to it, and it was easy. My other hard crossing was TYR (heard of somewhere) and a name in scooters (not).

          I did remember MALTIN, though, and the photo by DORA MAAR was a terrific discovery for me this year at the Morgan Library in a show about Alfred Jarry. (Ubu was a subject for Jarry in such works as “Ubu Roi” and an alter ego as well, in a life lived as a kind of performance art. The play made quite a sensation, much like “The Rite of Spring” not too long after.) I’d known Maar pretty much just as a Picasso girlfriend and was delighted to discover her a very fine artist in her own right. I’m still learning about her. But I singled her out as a woman worth learning about in a review. I do realize she won’t be a gimme for anyone else, although with luck gettable.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      When your puzzle is made by an Asian American artist, it seems churlish to complain about crossings involving Asian cuisine and women in the arts. Heck, Leonard Maltin is even a white man! He was on TV on “Entertainment Tonight” for 30 years, had new books in the bookstore for 45 years, and probably had his name and a blurb in a zillion movie ads over the decades. Dora Maar, given the art world’s historical focus on men, might be best known for being a Picasso romantic partner (he was physically abusive) and subject of multiple Picasso paintings.

      TOBIKO was new to me (it’s flying fish roe, I see) but DOSA is familiar even though Chicago’s Indian restaurants tend not to be South Indian.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Which is to say: When we find a crossing frustrating because we don’t know either entry, maybe we shouldn’t leap to labeling it a “bad crossing” when the entries in question come from outside the white/Western/male wheelhouse, outside the realm of “this stuff has been in crosswords for decades.” There is a world of vocabulary that’s broadly familiar to non-white/non-male solvers, who’ve been expected to absorb Mel Ott forever (his playing career ended 73 years ago). It’s time to be more fair and broaden our cruciverbal perspectives.

        • Jenni Levy says:

          I particularly enjoyed DOSA because I was introduced to it on a Saturday in Stamford a few years ago. The ACPT is very educational.

        • Bob says:

          To whom it may concern: My suspecting that TOBIKO crossing DOSA would be a blind crossing for many was in no way a complaint.

      • david glasser says:

        Now I want to try a tobiko dosa, though I suspect that these two great tastes may not go great together.

  6. Zulema says:

    Could someone explain PHONO as answer to 9 Across in the NYT puzzle?

  7. Zulema says:

    Sorry, I lost my question on my old computer so I entered it again. Thank you for correcting the error!

  8. Joan Macon says:

    I hope pannonica isn’t sick with this virus! I miss her take on the LAT!

Comments are closed.