Friday, December 11, 2020

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:08 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 4:40 (Rachel) 


Universal 5:33 (Jim P) 


Ari Richter’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 11 20, no. 1211

Hello! It’s late. First up, a request: Please share your favorite POTTY HUMOR (56a. [Crack jokes, perhaps?]) jokes in the comments. Butt-crack allusions are optional.

Other entries I liked: EXTRA POINT (if the clue, 18a. [Something about which you might say “It’s good!”], sounds weird to you, imagine “It’s good!” shouted by an overexcited NFL announcer), “DON’T GET ANY IDEAS,” IN ONE GO, PREEMIES (like my kid, back in the day), SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF (though I feel the clue, [Like some perfume ads], might be a bit off? the last time I was encountering many magazine fragrance ads, you’d tear open a strip to unleash the scent rather than doing scratch-and-sniff, but I’ve only gotten one smelly ad in the last few years so I could be wrong), new-to-me MOONQUAKE, and GOTHAM CITY.

Five things:

  • 35a. [A home?], OAKLAND, as in the Oakland A’s / 21d. [Penguin’s home], GOTHAM CITY, as in Batman’s nemesis rather than the Pittsburgh Penguins. The constructor pulled the old switcheroo on us!
  • 42a. [Like some masks], CLOTH. How many do you have in your wardrobe? I have maybe 15 or 20, not that I go out 15 times a week. I keep trying for a better fit, better construction. I do like the flannel-lined ones from this Etsy maker. She swaps out the fabric patterns seasonally—I bought fall prints, and now there are winter/Christmas ones. What will spring bring?
  • 46d. [What two X’s make], SCORE. X being the Roman numeral for 10, and a SCORE being 20? I think that’s the angle this clue is taking.
  • 25d. [___ drop (British sweet treat)], PEAR. A candy I’ve never heard of, being American.
  • 8d. [“Feel the ___” (onetime political slogan)], BERN. A fresher clue than the capital of Switzerland.

4 stars from me.

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

The New Yorker crossword solution • Robyn Weintraub • Friday, December 11, 2020

You guys, I think Robyn just asked us all out on a date?? I have to say, an old-fashioned DINNER AND A MOVIE in a restaurant and then a theater that both contain lots of people will probably not feel safe for a long time, but it’s nice to be reminded of The Way Things Were. As for the puzzle, I agree with Robyn when she says LET’S DO THIS AGAIN — I would do a Robyn puzzle every day of the week, honestly, and I don’t think I’d ever get bored of them!

The non-marquee long entries today were pretty excellent, although one felt oddly familiar. We have: BONUS TRACK / TRUE TO LIFE / NOVEL IDEA / COIN TRICK / AHA MOMENT / SALTWATER / TRAGEDIES / SNIFF TEST. We just had SMELL TEST in yesterday’s NYT, so I wrote that in here, too, which thoroughly screwed up that region of the grid (for about 20 seconds– this is, after all, a New Yorker lightly challenging Friday). I think of the two, I am more familiar with SMELL TEST than SNIFF TEST, but I think they’re equally valid. My first write-in for TRUE TO LIFE was TRUTHINESS (thanks, Colbert). Sidenote, I used the word verisimilitude *conversationally* yesterday when discussing these extremely uncanny valley masks that you can put over medical manakins to make them look more TRUE TO LIFE and mirror the actual diversity of hospital patients. Creepy AF but also better than having all white male manikins.

A few more things:

Barbie DIA De Muertos Doll

  • PUNCH UP – I like this entry, although I think of PUNCH UP as meaning “attack someone higher than you in a hierarchy” rather than [Add some pizzazz to]
  • I appreciate Robyn’s clue on OGLE [Stare that might warrant a call to human resources] as possibly the best way to clue this word. It’s not jokey or cutesy, it just tells it like it is. Don’t OGLE. I HATE IT.
  • Fill I could live without: TGEL clued for dandruff shampoo (although I am very open to TGEL clued as hormone replacement therapy)
  • I looked up the Barbie DIA De Muertos doll (Mattel début of 2019) and here she is

Overall, really fun solve, despite a few hiccups on my end! Tons of stars for a smooth, clean grid and crunchy solve.

Fritz Light’s Universal crossword, “Promises to Pay”—Jim P’s review

We have a debut puzzle, and the poor constructor is strapped for cash. He’s filled all his theme answers with IOUS. Well, maybe now that he has a publication, he can pay his friends back.

Universal crossword solution · “Promises to Pay” · Fritz Light · Fri., 12.11.20

  • 16a. [Dull lecture?] TEDIOUS TALK. TED Talk. Ha!
  • 36a. [People who read up on what they discover?] STUDIOUS FINDERS. Stud finders. An admirable quality to have.
  • 58a. [Marine mammal that won’t stop barking?] FURIOUS SEAL. Fur seal. The fat and the furious?

Only three themers, but they were all enjoyable. Out of curiosity, I looked up some other words that might lend themselves to this theme. Potential alternatives might include cop and copious, vic and vicious, facet and facetious, and vicar and vicarious. But changes in parts of speech probably preclude most of them from working.

There are a few nice things in the long fill and, curiously, they’re all clustered in the center. DRUM SOLO, SOY SAUCE, OPEN SEA, and AL FRESCO top the list with IN LIEU OF and AT FIRST rounding things out. It’s surprising to have all that nice fill close together with very little to show in the way of a price to pay. I guess since there are only three themers, there’s more allowance for fun fill.

Clues of note:

  • 7a. [Role, metaphorically]. HAT. Cluing felt a tad tougher than I’m used to for a Universal grid, and they had some interesting angles. This is an example of that.
  • 29a. [Cook, Rice or Curry]. TIM. Fun clue. But I went with ANN first. Of course, it’s Anne (with an E) Rice, and there does not appear to be a famous Ann Cook.
  • 30a. [Move like a promotional tube man]. FLAIL. I was thinking of the Tube in London, not that air-blown spasmodic alien outside of tire shops. I didn’t know there was a term for him.
  • 39a. [Word before “plane” or “plate”]. PAPER. I’m noting this one because I don’t think we normally see quotation marks in clues like this.
  • 42a. [___ Royale National Park]. ISLE. I was thinking this might be in Hawaii, but nope, it’s in Michigan.
  • 51a. [“Odyssey” femme fatale]. CIRCE. I also recommend the 2018 novel of the same name by Madeline Miller.
  • 65a. [Does some sole searching?]. FISHES. Cute.
  • 12d. [Apt answer for clue number 12]. DOZEN. I couldn’t understand the use of the term “clue number 12,” but I guess it makes sense.

Fun little theme, strong fill, and fresh cluing. 3.9 stars.

Jonathan Potter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/11/20 • Potter • Fri • solution • 20201211

This one took me longer than usual to solve, even though I don’t report my times.

  • 58aR [Educator’s concerns … or, a phonetic hint to how four long puzzle answers were derived] ABSENTEES, or absent Es. The dropped vowel occurs at the end of each theme entry.
  • 17a. [Annual assembly of breakfast lovers?] WAFFLE CON (waffle cone).
  • 11d. [Strategy for holding it while in the bathroom line?] WAIT AND HOP (wait and hope). Being the first theme entry I was close to completing, I figured the gimmick was puns and that this was WAIT AND PEE (from wait and see). The actual base phrase is less familiar to me. Here’s an Ngram analysis:
  • 37a. [Bathroom fixture trial version?] TEST TUB (test tube). More bathroom hijinks!
  • 28d. [Mess made while melting down old jewelry?] GOLDEN GLOB (Golden Globe). Ironic that it took me a long while to see this one, as I habitually refer to these awards by that name.

It’s a solid theme that works well enough.

  • 1a [Draft sources] KEGS, 26a [Draft pick] LAGER, 43d [Draft source] BEER TAP.
  • 44a [Former flier with a NY/Newark/DC/Boston shuttle] EASTERN. 56d [Santiago-to-Buenos Aires dirección] ESTE. Hmm. As an aside, I would have preferred that ‘to’ were also replaced by the Spanish equivalent, á.
  • 1d [Only bird whose beak has nostrils at the end] KIWI. Nice bit of trivia. Kiwi rely heavily on their sense of smell and hardly at all on their eyesight. They are able to detect prey underground without seeing or feeling them.38
  • 8d [“Le déjeuner des canotiers” painter] RENOIR. Perhaps you know the English translation of the title, “Luncheon of the Boating Party”.
  • 16d [“Dark Sky Island” singer] ENYA, 57a [Keys] ISLES. Ouch. Better editing could have easily averted this duplication.
  • 21a [Exhaust, as a welcome] OUTSTAY. Here’s an Ngram of outstay vs. overstay (his/her/their/one’s) welcome.
  • 51a [Real asset … or no asset at all?] BIG HELP. All dependent on the level of sarcasm. I liked this clue.
  • 24d [Camouflage wearers, at times] HUNTERS. I am also reminded of this tweet that I saw earlier this morning:
  • 26d [Edelstein of “The Kominsky Method”] LISA. Unfamiliar with both the person and the title.
  • 38d [Pin in the back] TEN. I was prepared to say that I had no idea how to interpret this clue, but now I understand. It’s bowling.
  • 42a [Electric __ ] EEL.

Brooke Husic’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #14″—Jenni’s review

Sorry this is so late! I’ll sneak in just before Saturday’s post goes up. This puzzle deserves better than I can give it right now. It’s a really good puzzle that was pretty difficult for me; despite the “Themeless” tag, there’s a strong musical vibe that was not at all on my wavelength. I’d blame it on my age, but that’s not the whole story.

Inkubator, December 10, 2020, Brooke Husic, “Themeless #14,” solution grid

  • 1a [“____, moody, nasty” (Megan Thee Stallion lyric)] is SASSY
  • 4d [Empowering 2004 jam from Kelly Clarkson] is SINCE U BEEN GONE.
  • 20a [Deceptively upbeat 2010 bop from Robyn] is DANCIN ON MY OWN.
  • 26d [Rihanna album between “Rated R” and “Talk That Talk”] is LOUD.
  • 35a [Beyoncé assertion that follows “everything I see is you”] is ITS DEJA VU. And until I typed that out I thought it was DE JAVU. It’s been a long week.

Other highlights:

  • [Gin berry] for SLOE and [Bowl berry] for ACAI.
  • [Make over?] for OUTEARN.
  • [Single stream specification?] for ON REPEAT.
  • [Go off screen, maybe?] for DETOX.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above for all the music references that were new to me. I also didn’t know that that three SIXES mean “excellent” in Mandarin, I’d never heard of poet Nikita Gill, and I didn’t know that the OSAGE Nation has the U.S.’s oldest tribally-owned museum.

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15 Responses to Friday, December 11, 2020

  1. Nene says:

    Very clever clueing. I real joy to solve. Thank you!

  2. David Steere says:

    INKUBATOR: My, this was tough. After filling in a bit less than half of the squares, I was at a loss to do more. I’ve done many fine puzzles from Brooke at USA Today. They run tough there, too, but are admirable bastions of inclusivity as are most of the puzzles in that venue. Erik makes sure there that “unknown” or more obscure names and titles are always fairly crossed to allow the “uninformed” like me to make reasonable guesses. I then go to Sally’s blog for an explanation of the clues and answers that are new to me. Without that sort of help, I was lost in Brooke’s puzzle today. Too many unknown names, songs, etc. crossing equally unknown references which makes guessing impossible. At least seven Across entries and nine Downs were completely unfamiliar and quite a few crossed each other: e.g., Lady Gaga’s fragrance and Yelle’s song, Nikita Gill’s poem crossing Kelly Clarkson’s jam and the name of a web comic, etc. I felt a little like a 66 year-old alien visiting Earth and not understanding the language or the cultural references. This may be an excellent puzzle. Others will comment, I’m sure. There may well be a generation gap in puzzle creation and ability to know certain names and titles. I had much the same experience on Wednesday with Pao Roy’s AVCX. I think I’ll go listen to Ralph Vaughan William’s THE LARK ASCENDING or Aaron Copland’s QUIET CITY to try to calm my frustrated solving spirit. Sorry I could not finish your creation, Brooke. Keep up the great work!

    • brooke says:

      Hi David, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this puzzle and other puzzles I’ve constructed! One thing I love about the Inkubator is their willingness to run puzzles that, for whatever reason, may not have a chance at publication in a mainstream venue. I would assess this themeless puzzle to fall into that category due to the relatively narrow swath of music/art/pop culture that it not only contains but (indeed) leans into, as Jenni noted. I’m nearly certain that your alien-visiting-Earth feeling will not be unique among solvers; I also feel confident that there will be others for whom this feels like a breath of fresh air. Thanks again for your feedback, and I hope you continue to enjoy my work in other venues!

      I would also like to add that while Erik is a beyond-fantastic editor that the community is truly blessed to have, the USA Today constructors themselves (also) make sure that there are no unknown/obscure proper nouns crossing! We understand how to tailor our craft to the venue.

      • David Steere says:

        Thanks so much, Brooke, for your kind and gracious reply. I will continue to have a go at your puzzles wherever I encounter them. I know that some of the AVCX and Inkubator creations are way beyond my familiarity but I’ll keep plugging! :-)

  3. marciem says:

    LAT had me twisting every which way, overconfidence can do you in LOL! Started with “taps” for 1a, knew that pelvic something would be ilia, so dropped in “tits” for 1d. got to the SE dropping in mostly correct answers or nothing, and got to 62a. and since we’re on the smell or sniff test week apparently, I confidently dropped in test for the smell clue. also found taps at 1a was wrong with beertap at 43d.

    In all I loved it … even when wrong, it was pretty easy to correct myself and I don’t do timing so it was an enjoyable solve and nice get-able theme. Really interesting info about the kiwi’s nostrils, which adds to the fun.

  4. RM Camp says:

    I was hoping that NYT 46D would have been A GIRL but that would have been rather clumsy then, wouldn’t it.

  5. JohnB says:

    NYT: Lost some time because I figured that AUKLAND could be “A home” if you stretched just a little.

    I didn’t think that “PEUR drops” really made sense, but I’m not totally up on my British candies.

    Realized that SHAP was clearly SHOP and then the aha hit.

  6. Bryan says:

    NYT: For the life of me, I’m just not understanding 9D: Command that one shouldn’t follow — and the answer is STAY. It’s been a long busy week, and my brain is fried. So this may be an obvious bit of wordplay that I should easily grasp, but alas… What if I’m about to inadvertently step off a curb into the path of an oncoming bus, and a bystander commands me to STAY? Wouldn’t I certainly be glad I followed that command?

  7. marciem says:

    no potty humor at all?

    Best I got at off the top was watching my young grandson roll on the ground on learning to spell cup. See, You Pee!! half a day hilarity (I think he was in process of learning to use the potty).

  8. Rose says:

    Brooke Husic came on our scene in a blaze of contemporary glory. Every puzzle she has constructed has given me agita & I’ve been puzzling for 4 decades & subscribe to every indie. Considering I DNF the ones she puts up on her website, this Inkubator was doable with effort. It’s about time we have a constructor that makes you work the brain. Brava Brooke.

    • brooke says:

      Hi Rose, this made me so happy to read (except the agita part… sorry about that!); thank you so much for writing it. And thank you for trying out the puzzles on my blog. If you ever want to talk/share more, I would really love to hear from you! You can reach me by replying directly to any blog email.

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