Friday, August 7, 2020

Inkubator 10:35 (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 5:56 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 6:11 (Rachel) 


Universal 4:09 (Jim P) 


Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s review

NY Times crossword solution, 8 7 20, no. 0807

Did this one feel Saturday-hard to you, too, or am I just having an off night? Couple people on Twitter also had to fight through it.

There are some nice stacks here. BODY SHOT (which is liquor that’s drunk off someone else’s abdomen, and I don’t remember how that’s supposed to work) and FAN SITES, plus ROLE PLAY and DOGGED IT. My favorite entry is the colloquial “SCOOCH OVER,” and spoken “SPIT IT OUT” and pop culture DANNY OCEAN are cool, too. EASTER EGG is clued as the video game (etc.) extra, a [Bonus feature, of a sort]. And after that other puzzle some months back had terrible (to me) fill where the editors changed something from HARISSA, the [Spicy condiment from North Africa] that the editors felt was too obscure—well, it’s nice to see the word from that spice bottle in my kitchen in the puzzle. Also nice: ZAGNUT, ON CLOUD NINE, “THAT’S A SHAME,” UBERED as a verb.

I did cringe a little at some of the putty holding these entries together—ELEA, CCC, and OGEE in particular.

Five more things:

  • 39d. [“And so …”], THEN. Anyone else slow themselves down with a THUS here?
  • 2d. [The Olympic Australis is the world’s largest discovered one], OPAL. I’m perplexed as to how I could not know the name and the appearance of this ginormous, rough opal. I’ve always liked opals and I was a Guinness Book of World Records junkie as a kid, so I should have been all over that.
  • 42d. [Hard to let go of, in a way], TENURED. Not an easy clue. I ventured TENUOUS, which would actually be hard to hold on to, and that slowed down my progress in the SE quadrant.
  • 51d. [___ bag (fashion accessory)], HOBO. Nice to clue this word in a way that doesn’t actively demean someone who is really down on their luck. (Punch up, not down!)
  • 60d. [Line-skipping option at the airport, for short], PRE. “TSA Pre,” with a check mark icon standing in for the word “check.” I love TSA Pre but can’t imagine I’ll be flying anywhere for at least the next year.

Four stars from me.

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker Crossword – Rachel’s write-up

It’s a Wyna Friday! I can’t imagine a better way to ease into the weekend than with this SPUNKy puzzle, a cup of coffee, and a SALT BAGEL. I only have 2 of the 3, but I think I can remedy that by tomorrow.

The New Yorker crossword solution • Wyna Liu • Friday, August 7, 2020

We’ve got a long central down of  OTTESSA MOSHEFEGH, who is not an author I was previously familiar with and whose last name especially is difficult to guess at. Wyna makes this name work beautifully with all fair crossing, although the proximity of MOSHEFEGH and IRIS OUT – a bit of fill that I can never remember properly and don’t particularly enjoy – made the middle section the most challenging part of the puzzle for me. Other excellent medium-length stuff includes SALT BAGELS / SOFT TISSUE / DEATH STAR / LOSING BET / OH HELL NO / TEEN BEAT / TANDOORI / DON’T CARE / DREAM BIG / SOAP DISH. That’s a lot of sparkly 8-9 letter stuff!

A few more things:


  • Favorite entries: Loved seeing CARDI B at 1-Across. L BOMB is super fun, I love (this meaning of) the word SPUNK, and I am delighted to have had an excuse to google TEEN BEAT pinups so that I can now present you all with this pinup of JTT reading TEEN BEAT (is that acceptable fill, do you think?)
  • Again, not a huge fan of cross-references, but WASABI / TORO was nice
  • Favorite clues:
    • [Famous fuzzy grouch] for OSCAR
    • [“ … ___ it?” (ominous afterthought)] for OR IS, which on its own is bad fill, but the clue more than makes up for it!
  • Fill I could live without: ONEA / TEC / LEO I (personally, I have deleted all of the Pope LEOs out of my wordlist because they annoy me!)/ RGS
  • Representation: excellent!!!! Contemporary female authors and musicians (OTTESSA MOSHEFEGH, CARDI B, older female authors and musicians (ALCOTT, the Andrews Sisters), TANDOORI chicken, TORO sushi with WASABI.

Overall, a joy to solve. Many stars from me! Happy weekend, all.

Chuck Deodene’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 8/7/20 • Fri • Deodene • solution • 20200807

Four grid-spanners, with the identical single-word clue: [Monitor]


Okay, no denying that some of those are a little stilted (‘overseer’) or feel as if they should be more specific (‘lizard’ in place of ‘reptile’), but they sound good enough and are impressive in context, so it’s very easy to judge them on a curve. And even though they

Oh, you all remember your Civil War battles, right? The Monitor and the Merrimac? Famous for being the first clash of ironclad sea vessels?

Also from Wikipedia, this, about monitor lizards:

The generic name Varanus is derived from the Arabic word waral/waran ورن/ورل, from a common Semitic root ouran, waran, or waral, meaning ‘dragon’ or ‘lizard beast’.

In English, they are known as ‘monitors’ or ‘monitor lizards’. The earlier term “monitory lizard” became rare by about 1920. The name may have been suggested by the occasional habit of varanids to stand on their two hind legs and to appear to ‘monitor’, or perhaps from their supposed habit of ‘warning persons of the approach of venomous animals’.

There are citations provided for these claims.

  • Despite having four 15-letter theme entries, the constructor still found a place for two solid longdowns, each passing through three of the themers: 11d [Fee for crossing] BRIDGE TOLL spans the first three, while 28d [Grudge holder’s trait] LONG MEMORY goes the distance for the last three.
  • 47d [Practicing for the marathon, say] ON A RUN. >screws up face< Uh, kinda greenpainty there.
  • 1a [Drops from a workout] SWEAT. Ooh, good clue. And a fun way to start the procedings. Conversely, its squaremate 1d comes across as a bit too cute: [Enclosure for piggies?] which obviously had to be either sock or SHOE.
  • 20a [Sold online] ETAILED. Certain to ruffle some feathers, as the non-inflected ETAIL often gets flak. Plus, this semi-dupe is in the grid: 12d [Queued up] IN LINE.
  • 24a [Elegantly groomed] SOIGNÉ, 56d [“__ Lake”] SWAN. Reader, know that I searched to see if anyone had recorded a song called—or even containing the lyric—SOIGNÉ river. To no avail, though PG Wodehouse got there first, in 1963’s Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves.
  • Second-favorite clue: 50d [Watch a boxer, e.g.] PET SIT.

Overall, a pleasant and entertaining Friday offering.

Claire Rimkus’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #10″—Jenni’s review

All the blazing difficulty that has of late been missing from the Fireball is here! This is a good thing (and a reminder that women can and do make very good, very hard puzzles, in case anyone who edits an indie crossword might need to be reminded).

Crossword difficulty mostly depends on the cluing. Anyone who has been to ACPT (or most any other tournament) knows that the same grid can be clued very differently. Sure, an entry you don’t know will be tougher than one you do know no matter how it’s clued (my issue with 7d in today’s New Yorker puzzle). That’s not the same as a puzzle deliberately clued to be harder to solve, like this one. The Inkubator team said this would be “very challenging,” and they nailed it. I loved this puzzle.

Tricky clues:

Inkubator, August 6, 2020, Claire Rimkus, “Themeless #10,” solution grid

  • We start right off at 1a with [Drives out of town?], OFFROADS. I don’t think this one really needed a question mark. “Drives” could be either a noun or a verb; in either case, the clue is accurate. Not obvious, but accurate!
  • 13d [Grin and bare it?] is POSES NUDE.
  • 27d [Holding position?] is LITTLE SPOON. I think the big spoon is doing the holding, no?
  • 34a [Butcher types?] is STUDS. I think this has to do with butch as a type of gender presentation. I’m an old straight cis woman, so I’m not entirely sure.
  • 40a [What to do at the end of a flip?] is RESELL. “Flip” as in HGTV – flipping houses. It’s not just on TV. Two houses within a block of us have been flipped in the past six months.
  • 48d [Member state?] is BONER. HOF-worthy.

Other things of note:

  • I did this to myself – dropped in OCTET for 1d, [Stripes in the original pride flag, e.g.] instead of OCTAD.
  • 17a [Ben Barres and Kye Allums, for two] are TRANSMEN. Ben Barres I knew; he was a neuroscientist who transitioned in the middle of a very successful research career. Kye Allums played basketball for the George Washington University women’s team and was the first openly trans Division 1 athlete.
  • As we’ve come to expect from the Inkubator, inclusion is everywhere. THOR is clued as [Cate Blanchett played his sister, Hela].
  • Love WHO WORE IT BETTER, clued as [Question posed to us weekly by Us Weekly], which just adds to the fun.
  • 62a [They can make you squat] is TRAINERS. Also crunch. Also plank. Also lunge. Ouch.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: Kye Allums. I also never saw “Zootopia” so I didn’t know Officer McHorn was a RHINO. And I’d never heard of ANDREA Gibson. Here’s “To the Men Catcalling My Girlfriend While I’m Walking Beside Her.” She does not mince words.

Gary Larson’s Universal crossword, “Hollywood Golf Tournament”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Famous Hollywood types with last names that are words associated with golf.

Universal crossword solution · “Hollywood Golf Tournament” · Gary Larson · Fri., 8.7.20

  • 17a. [Frodo Baggins portrayer] ELIJAH WOOD
  • 27a. [Golden Globe nominee for “Penny Dreadful”] EVA GREEN
  • 37a. [“An Education” Oscar nominee] CAREY MULLIGAN. I don’t know this actress’s name, nor do I know her more famous work, but I have seen her in the iconic NuWho Weeping Angels episode (see video below).
  • 51a. [“American Beauty” screenwriter] ALAN BALL. Another name I wouldn’t know. And “ball” is rather generic.
  • 61a. [He starred alongside Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story”] ADAM DRIVER

What, no JEREMY IRONS? I guess the plural ruins the consistency. However, there is IRON MAN prominently displayed at 33a. I’m really surprised this was allowed to stay because it was distracting once I grokked the theme. True, it doesn’t follow the same pattern, but it’s a golf term in the title of a big-budget Hollywood film, so maybe you can forgive me for giving it a second or third glance.

But I do like the theme. It’s tightly-defined and consistent.

Strong long fill in ACADEMIA and ATLANTIS. Also good: “HOLD IT!”, “IT’S A GO!”, and DR. EVIL.

Clues of note:

  • 48a. [They don’t stay in]. TRENDS. Nicely ambiguous, this clue. Similarly good: 38d. [Down under island?] for ATLANTIS.
  • 11d. [Hanging mammal]. BAT. Because OPOSSUM wouldn’t fit.
  • Clues that cover the whole spectrum: 59d [Top rainbow color] for RED, and 28d [Bottom rainbow color] for VIOLET.

Nice theme and fill in this grid. 3.75 stars.

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12 Responses to Friday, August 7, 2020

  1. Greg says:

    I agree, Amy. The Times felt Saturday-hard (as reflected in my time). But enjoyable.

    • RM Camp says:

      Saaame. That was rough. Would have been a slightly slower-than-average solve for me even for a Saturday. Not to say it was bad, just tougher than uzhe.

  2. Stephen B. Manion says:

    W was Friday; E was Stumper.
    I also tried THUS.

  3. MattF says:

    I found the NYT quite tough– expected to DNF at a point, but doable in the end. Also did the TENUOUS/TENURED and THUS/THEN. Good puzzle.

  4. Gary R says:

    I enjoyed the NYT. It was a pretty normal Friday solving time for me, but there were a few hitches along the way. Seller before TRADER, slide by before SKATE BY, bocce before BOCCI (I’ve never seen it spelled with an “i”), thus before THEN.

    The one big problem was I didn’t know UTHER or ELEA, so that cross was the last thing in, and was mostly a guess.

  5. Martin says:

    I know a lot of people only do the Saturday Newsday, but I enjoyed today’s. Warning: it’s a quote puzzle and many solvers don’t like them, but I thought this one was worth the effort. It was reasonably challenging, too.

  6. Robyn Franke says:

    I loved the latest Inkubator puzzle by Claire Rimkus even though I still don’t get at least one of the clue/answers (Little spoon?) Most of the names I did not know were inferable but I did have a tough time with the Ben Barres/Kye Allums clue. So, if anyone is willing to explain the littlespoon clue I’d appreciate it. Thanks

    • John says:

      I wish I could help you with little spoon but I can’t.

      This was a multi- day struggle that gave me great satisfaction when I heard the happy music upon filling my last square in the NE. Terrific puzzle. Jenny, your review was spot on especially your comparison with Fireball puzzles of late and the clueing of “boner” – was LMAO filling that in.

  7. LtKije says:

    Found the NYT tedious. Cruddy fill like Uther, Elea, CCC, ODS. Uninferable names like Hedren, Zagnut, Zelig. Stodgy clues for aura and on cloud nine (so stodgy they simply don’t make sense to me as a millennial). And answers that are just wrong (bocci and “pre”…no! It’s bocce and precheck). Eventually gave up when I only had the SW left but I was too bored to continue.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Merriam-Webster lists boccie as the primary spelling (what?!), with both bocce and bocci as variants.

      The logo for the TSA program is TSAPre with a checkmark, with the word “check” not appearing. I’ve heard people call it “TSA Pre” rather than “Precheck,” probably stemming from seeing its official rendition without the word “check.”

    • Michael says:

      There’s no ODS in the Friday puzzle.

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