Friday, January 8, 2021

LAT untimed (Amy) 


NYT 5:19 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 5:08 (Rachel) 


Universal 5:32 (Jim P) 


Four brief announcements:

  1. Boswords is holding an online Winter Wondersolve tournament Sunday, 1/31, 2-5 pm Eastern. $20 to register ($5 for students and the otherwise strapped-for-cash).
  2. The Muller Monthly Music Meta for 2021 begins next Tuesday, 1/12. Sign up here.
  3. The Browser newsletter is launching a weekly cryptic crossword (ed. Dan Feyer; constructors include Andrew Ries, Stella Zawistowski, Will Nediger, Nate Cardin, Sara Goodchild, and Paolo Pasco) for subscribers. I sampled one by Ries; it took me about 2-3 times longer than an NYT cryptic, so check it out if you crave challenging cryptics.
  4. Also for cryptic fans: Longtime cryptic puzzlemaker John de Cuevas died in 2018 and his website archive of puzzles has been restored at Dan Chall’s site. I know nothing about these puzzles, but if difficult variety cryptics are up your alley, 200+ puzzles await you.

Evan Kalish’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 8 21, no. 0108

Dang, I used up much of my blogging time gathering the four links above. Also, news. It remains pretty consuming, doesn’t it?

Fave fill: DO THE DEW and its rhyme BIENVENUE, “THIS GUY GETS IT,” a NOOGIE, CRAWDAD, THE SHIRE, “HAPPY NOW?,” “WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?,” MANI-PEDI, and COOL IT. Architect Zaha HADID is always welcome in my puzzle; in Chicago, I’ve only seen a temporary installation she designed for Millennium Park. Not loving the AS I SEE IT/THIS GUY GETS IT crossing ITs plus COOL IT.

Singular VESPER ([Evening prayer]) feels wrongish. ALKANE is blah. “Slap on the wrist” sounds better than WRIST SLAP. “Yes, and …” also sounds more familiar than “YEAH, AND …” to me.

Three things:

  • 27a. [Lead-in to brain or body], PEA. Odd to combine a peabrain and the name Peabody this way. Unexpected.
  • 66a. [Rechargeable city transport], E-SCOOTER. These were piloted again in Chicago last summer, and my family laughed at the idea of calling them “e-scooters.” They go with “scooter” or “electric scooter.” Is this a regional term used in your area?
  • 1d. [Home to the so-called “Silicon Docks,” a European equivalent to Silicon Valley], DUBLIN. I should’ve known this but I didn’t and had to lean on the crossings.

Four stars from me.

Kyra Wilson’s Universal crossword, “Critical Thinking”—Jim P’s review

Everyone’s a critic in this grid. Each of our theme answers is a common-ish phrase whose last word can also mean “criticism.” Thus, the clues are wackified.

Universal crossword solution · “Critical Thinking” · Kyra Wilson · Fri., 1.8.21

  • 17a. [Series of remarks like “Your message is loaded with typos!”?] EMAIL BLAST.
  • 27a. [Series of remarks like “Mary never liked you much anyway!”?] LAMB ROAST. It took me way to long to associate Mary and lamb. First, I had Shari Lewis on the brain then I was trying to think if there was someone famous named Mary Lamb (there kind of is). But damn! Poor widdle wamb!
  • 42a. [Series of remarks like “Your donut tastes awful!”?] FRYING PAN. Hmm. Donut is your go-to fried item? I’ve never made homemade donuts before. But I fry rice a lot and eggs. Fish would work, too.
  • 54a. [Series of remarks like “Your sonnet is 11 on the boring meter!”?] POETRY SLAM. I looove this clue. (Obligatory “These go to eleven” link.)

All in all, a fun theme. I admit I didn’t catch on during the solve because I was trying to be quick (my 12-year-old was standing over my shoulder) and the clues seemed wordy. But once I looked closer, I liked it quite a bit. I’m not so sure the clues need the “Series of remarks” part. [“Your message is loaded with typos!” e.g.?] works for me.

Loads to like in the fill, too, such as DAD JOKE, “AH, BLISS,” “ALL SETTLED?,” G. I. JANE, BABKA, “TOP THAT!,” “CAN IT BE?” and Caddyshack’sBE THE BALL” (even though I’ve never seen the full movie). I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase ROAD JERSEY, but it makes sense. I didn’t recognize the name Sara PAULSON either, but I have heard of her show Ratched, the Netflix series which is a prequel of sorts to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. If you’ve seen it, let us know what you think of it.

Clues of note:

  • 37a. [Belg. neighbor]. GER seemed like the safe answer, but this go-round, tiny LUX gets some grid time.
  • 14d. [1997 film about a woman who trains to be a Navy SEAL]. G. I. JANE. I haven’t seen this film either. Question. Why is a Navywoman referred to as a G.I.?

Fun theme in a grid loaded with sparkly fill. 3.9 stars.

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

The New Yorker crossword solution • Wyna Liu • Friday, January 8, 2020

Hi everyone, gonna be a quick one today because the New Yorker didn’t get this gem of a puzzle up until after my working hours started, but let me just say, this was a *delight*. Cool grid shape, crunchy long stuff, clean short stuff, basically everything you could want from a lightly challenging New Yorker puzzle.


  • The marquee entry ANYONE LISTENING??? (?s implied) is excellent
  • The stacks in the N and S are also fabulous: AWKWAFINA / SCREEN IDOLS / UNCANNY VALLEY and LEAVES IN A HUFF / STOP ON A DIME / SWING SETS
  • Favorite clues:
    • [“I have eaten / the ___ / that were in / the icebox . . .”: William Carlos Williams] for PLUMS
    • [Go immediately from sixty to zero] for STOPS ON A DIME

Overall, a fresh, quick, beautifully-crafted puzzle to kick off the weekend.

Ps., Brooke Husic and I made today’s USA Today crossword, if you feel like doing another lightly (read: not at allchallenging puzzle this morning!

Dyland Schiff & Mark McClain’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Amy’s recap

LA Times crossword solution, 1 8 21

Quick summary in pannonica’s stead.

Theme revealer is OVER/UNDER, 38a. [Sports bet based on total points scored … or a hint to answering four puzzle clues]. Each of those four clues has two answers, one including the circled letter above the black square interrupting the entry and one with the circled letter below:

  • 20a. [Source of some TV content], MINISERIES and MINISTRIES. A miniseries is content, not the source thereof. And ministries—I guess we’re talking about televangelists et al? Maybe a vague [They might be seen on some TV channels] would fit better?
  • 26a. [Genetic connection], LINKAGE and LINEAGE. Linkage feels a little nonspecific to genetics, but perhaps a scientist will disagree with me on that.
  • 52a. [Impediment to walking down a hallway], CLUSTER and CLUTTER. Clutter on the floor, cluster of people blocking the way. Nice one.
  • 58a. [Recommendation for better health], MEDICATION and MEDITATION. Also nice.

UPBRAID is my favorite bit of fill. Lots of stuff I didn’t care for, but with each themer affecting four entry spaces in the grid, that’s sort of 16 themers, so it’s probably gonna be rough to fill. ALPE, ENSILES, VEET, SOOTED, and APSE right at 1-Across, meh.

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31 Responses to Friday, January 8, 2021

  1. TPS says:

    I do not usually comment but the LAT puzzle today seemed to have several crossword faux pas – unless I am missing something intentional – I am surprised it got published.

    • Mr. Grumpy says:

      Not sure about “several,” but the MINISERIES/MINISTRIES stood out. MINISTRIES may be the source of content in Great Britain but not here, and MINISERIES are not the “source” of content; they ARE content. Very annoying. Oh … and then there was SOOTED. Ugh.

      • PJ says:

        MINISTRIES refers to religious programming, I imagine.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I agree re MINISERIES. I don’ t think CLUSTER works for “Impediment to walking down a hallway” (52A) either and LINKAGE for “Genetic connection” isn’t great. IMO, this was a nice idea for a theme, but just doesn’t work as executed. +1 re SOOTED … and then there was VEET {39D: Nair rival that originally had “N” as its first letter}. Oof!

      • STEVEN says:

        you guys are cottonpickin’ nitpickers

        the puzzle was good

    • TPS says:

      I was more referring to the fact there were several Across Lines “answers” that are not words and have no Clue number (For example – the last letters in 6, 7, & 8 Down meet to form an Across with no clue and that doesn’t appear to be a word). I can not recall seeing this in another published American Crossword puzzle and when constructing my own puzzles was always told it was a faux pas. So I wondered if I was missing something like maybe there was a step I was missing in the theme.

      • Jack2 says:

        The circled letters form “over” and “under” bridges to connect the left side of the answer with the continuation on the right. The continuation portions are the unnumbered sections that you are concerned about. They are not meant to be standalone answers.

  2. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni: I, too, struggled a bit with LAMB ROAST {27A: Series of remarks like “Mary never liked you much anyway!”?}, but in my case, it was because I couldn’t get LAMBaste out of my head.

  3. anon says:

    NYT review: “Singular VESPER ([Evening prayer]) feels wrongish”

    Seems quite wrong as clued.

    Maybe that’s where one can soak up the singular UV wave from yesterday’s puzzle.

    • Kelly Clark says:

      It’s fine, but rarely used. A VESPER is an actual thing — a single prayer. VESPERS is (are?) a series of prayers said around sundown as part of the Liturgy of Hours.

      • Sheik Yerbouti says:

        As a singular, I would have rather seen it clued as Eva Green’s character from Casino Royale.

  4. Wally says:

    You can almost always tell when the puzzler is a female because of the multiple female references. Like today’s Universal.

    Clue: What you did this morning
    Answer: Woke

    • Jenni Levy says:

      A female what?

      I’d think you were kidding but people who use “female” as a noun are usually not sympathetic to feminism.

      • David L says:

        I’m a guy and I woke this morning too. Solidarity!

      • JohnH says:

        I’m obviously not a fan of puzzles that depend on references, like proper names in pop culture. But darn. We should be celebrating women puzzlers, not suggesting that they can’t see past their face.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Multiple(!!!) “female references”??? Oh dear! We can’t have that, now can we? How dare they! What’s the world coming to? It almost makes me want to storm the US Capitol.

    • Brian says:

      go away

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Wally’s prior comment on this site, from last spring: “Universal: Even without looking at the theme, just a few clues easy to see it was by women, about women, for women. Themes are great, manifestos are not. The theme clue made this all the more evident; double women and a pat on the back.

      All March puzzles were by women? Never noticed. But very easy to on this one. Variety is what makes a puzzle interesting, not self-referencing. Toss in clues like “limbic” and “arborio” and you get 10 Down. Stunned the opera cry wasn’t “BravA”. One of the worst Universal puzzles in year.

      Following this debut, nowhere to go but up. Try a theme without a personal edge.”

      So I assume he hates puzzles by men filled with a bunch of male references because those are manifestos of the patriarchy.

  5. R says:

    NYT: I’m guessing Zaha HADID crossing Christine LAHTI was a Natick for more than just me.

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    If you appreciate woman-friendly fill and clues, don’t miss Wyna Liu’s easy New Yorker themeless! If your willie shrivels up from such material, though, you may wish to avoid it.

  7. RM Camp says:

    Ehh, “YEAH, AND…” is pretty cromulent to me.

  8. rock says:

    Anybody did Stan’s Friday puzzle? I was wondering why the clue 67A said station dark on 12/25 and July 4 no year given, but from what I google HSN never went dark,unless it is not home shopping network. TIA!!

  9. Rose says:

    IMHO: Crossword arcane is the opposite of crossword inane.
    I read “this puzzle was too arcane for a Mon-Tues-Wed” a lot. I’m here to say *dang* it’s Friday & even today’s NYT was mild. How are noobs gonna elevate their skills if they keep getting Oreos in their ollas from Oran while easily getting grid spanning phrases by similar inane crossings? “Would you agree (NYT)”

  10. Joan Macon says:

    I’m glad I was not the only person bewildered by the LAT, And I’m glad to see so many people are solving it!

Comments are closed.