Friday, February 26, 2021

Inkubator 3:22 (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (Jim Q) 


NYT 5:10 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 5:04 (Rachel) 


Universal 5:39 (Jim P) 


Martha Kimes’s Inkubator crossword, “It’s a Puzzle”—Jenni’s review

Yes, it is! And a delightful puzzle, at that.

The theme is self-referential. You might even call it meta.

Inkubator, February 25, 2021, Martha Kimes, “It’s a Puzzle,” solution grid

  • 17a [Like a self-sufficient lifestyle] is OFF THE GRID.
  • 26a [Get  more than enough] is HAVE ONES FILL. I don’t agree that “one’s fill” is by necessarily “more than enough.” It might be just enough.
  • 44a [Lost at sea] is WITHOUT A CLUE.
  • 60a [Song that plays in many a music box] is LARAS THEME. I didn’t realize that was a music box standard. My childhood music box played “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.”

And the revealer at 36d [Where you might find the ends of 17-, 26-, 44-, and 60-across]: HEREGRIDFILLCLUE and THEME = PUZZLE. Nice!

A few other things:

  • I remember the little pink and blue pegs on our vintage version of The Game of LIFE.
  • I was 14 in 1974, so BE A HERO will always bring this song to mind.
  • 11d [Montana, once] is NINER. Joe Montana. Kids, ask your parents.
  • We get Cher and Chaka Khan for ALTOS and Megan Thee Stallion and Tyga for RAP STARs.
  • This is the second puzzle I’ve solved today that included FAVA beans.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of EARL Sweatshirt.

Chuck Deodene’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 26 21, no. 0226

Me, I didn’t much enjoy this puzzle—too many Scowl-o-Meter moments. But another solver tweeted that she found the puzzle fun, so my opinion’s certainly not unanimous.

The 15s—a stacked trio with two uprights—are all solid: SPACE TELESCOPES, PUT A FACE TO A NAME, and ARTISTIC LICENSE crossed by a CRY FOR ATTENTION and SCENIC PANORAMAS. Other nice fill includes IMPASTO, BEAM UP, and SHETLAND. I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one who quickly entered SCOTLAND for 24d. [Northernmost part of the U.K.]. I hadn’t known the Shetland Islands were also just called Shetland. It’s wild how close Shetland is to Norway. (I groused at having TELOSCOPE in there, and had not looked at the 30a clue so BAC was nearly as plausible as BAH.

Did not know: 55a. [Club’s premier venue], MAIN ROOM. It’s inferrable, but out of my ken. Now, I did once go to First Avenue in Minneapolis, but not the Mainroom, just the 7th Street Entry. Also wasn’t loving that corner of the grid. IN ONE DAY felt contrived, and AN I, ON RED, and DINED AT made the section feel overloaded with flat two-letter words.

Also never heard of 19a. [Italian architect Ponti], GIO. Along with buildings, he designed, I see from a Google image search, lots of MIDcentury Modern furniture and a $15,000 chandelier.

Nobody asked, but if you’re curious to know what other entries irked me, this paragraph is for you! GREEN CAR, LATE NEWS, ñ-less ANO, -ITE (McCarthyism, sure, but when do we see McCarthyITE?), crosswordese [Large marble] TAW, TO SEE, ONE G, SOI, plural ORS (the conjunction), I’D BET…. Felt like more trade-offs than I’d like to see for a good set of 15s, but your mileage may vary.

Five more things:

  • 14a. [Good as gold, and others?], ERRATA. This editor dislikes this clue. ERRATA, that’s a list of errors in a printed book. Who actually uses the word to mean “errors, plural of erratum, not necessarily part of any sort of list”? Plus, “good as gold” is a weird-as-hell way to render a typo.
  • 28a. [Expression of support], RAH / 30a. [Expression of contempt], BAH. Cute two-fer.
  • 63a. [Indenting aid], TAB SET. Is this still a thing outside of the old typewriter world?
  • 8d. [Team with “Mr.” and “Mrs.” mascots], METS. And what of a nonbinary Mets mascot, hmm? Can we at least get Ms. instead of Mrs.?
  • 52d. [Diminutive master of film], YODA. SCORSESE didn’t fit.

3.25 stars from me.

Jessie Bullock & Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword, “Don’t Start With Me”—Jim P’s review

The letter I is added to well-known phrases, but only after an already-present U. The revealer I FOLLOW YOU (58a, [“That makes sense to me,” and a hint to 17-, 28- and 44-Across]) explains the deal.

Universal crossword solution · “Don’t Start With Me” · Jessie Bullock & Ross Trudeau · Fri., 2.26.21

  • 17a. [Drink with turquoise food coloring mixed in?] BLUISH WINE. Blush.
  • 28a. [Get a scratch on one’s armored glove?] RUIN THE GAUNTLET. Run. It’s unfortunate that an I-less U gets through here. I’m not bothered by pre-existing I’s (see WINE above), but having a U that doesn’t gain an I is less than ideal.
  • 44a. [Speeding by an Encore or Enclave?] PASSING THE BUICK. Buck.

I like the add-a-letter theme, and I like the extra constraint of having I’s follow U’s, but it just doesn’t look right to have the rule applied to only three of the four U’s in the theme answers. There are plenty of “run” phrases and probably enough “buck” phrases to find a different pair of themers.

Aside from that nit, the fill offers up nice long entries ILLUSTRATE, BENEFITS, “ARE YOU OK?,” and TORTELLINI. I also liked YVETTE, PATINA, and TEDIUM. Nothing much to scowl at except maybe the little bit of a dupe between ETC and ET AL.

Clues of note:

  • 27a. [Stereotypical Canadian interjections]. EHS. I went with AYS as that’s how I thought it was normally spelled. Anyone else?
  • 11d. [Navel-shaped pasta]. TORTELLINI. I for one could’ve done without this anatomical factoid. Now I can’t help but picture pasta stuffed with lint! (You’re welcome.)

A good theme and strong fill. 3.5 stars.

Pete Koetters’ Los Angeles Times crossword — Jim Q’s write-up

Jim Q filling in for pannonica since she was kind enough to cover Universal for me yesterday!

THEME: Two word phrases where the second word is three letters and its “inside” (or central) letter is moved to the outside to form a new three letter word. Wackiness ensues.

LAT • 2/26/21 • Fri • Koetters • solution • 20210226


  • 17A [Beneficial tree tapping?] HEALTH SAP. Health spa. 
  • 11D [Hawaiian wedding accessory?] WHITE LEI. White lie. 
  • 29A [Wildebeest with a habit?] SMOKING GNU. Smoking gun. 
  • 47A [Hoop site?] END OF AN EAR. End of an era. 
  • 37D [Top for a Japanese dish?] SUSHI BRA. Sushi bar. 
  • 61A [Reversed, in a way … and a hint to the creation of five puzzle answers] INSIDE OUT. 

I solved this puzzle when I’d normally be solving Universal, and for some reason I thought it was the Universal. I was wondering why it was so difficult for me to find a foothold! It’s been a while since I’ve solved LAT and I’d forgotten that its difficulty is graduated throughout the week.

I really like the theme here- it led to a nice AHA moment- but it felt to me as if the fill suffered quite a bit under the weight of so many themers. So it was tough for me to fully enjoy. Much of it felt dated to me, or at least Crosswordese-y. YAZOO, ATILT, A MAN (though A Man Called Ove was an absolutely delightful book. Haven’t seen the movie…), ELOI, LEEDS, MAURA, AGOUTI, IN RE, TSAR, ENZO, ENS, OCHRES, AMER, OTO, ISH, LA LAW, TISH, MAURA, JUDAH, and ATARI (whose clue kind of felt like it was saying that it’s still a major contender in the video gaming industry).

I object to the clue for NERDY [Not cool at all]. Au contraire! Nerdy is in fashion!

Enjoyed the clue for HYPHEN [Honky-tonk line?]I thought it was SYPHON- like, a line that carries gasoline out of a…erm…honky-tank? and JUDAS looked okay to me… but I fixed when Mr. Happy Pencil was a no show. 

3 stars from me :)


Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

Happy Friday, team! We’ve got a clean, solid Patrick Berry puzzle to kick off the weekend. I enjoyed the grid design, several of the long entries (some were a little meh, but some were pretty sparkly!), and much of the cluing. Let’s talk puzzle!

The long entries today were bunched in the corners, with stacks of 10’s in the NW and SE, and two pairs of 10s in the SW and NE. The stacks of 3’s were OLIVIA POPE / SAFE DRIVER / ONE PERCENT and OH FORGET IT / PUERTO RICO / ENTRY-LEVEL. I loved OH FORGET IT and its kind of wordy but also spot-on colloquial clue [““Clearly, you’ll never take the hint, so never mind”]. ONE PERCENT clued for the [Beneficiaries of America’s wealth gap] is also nice, and a marked improvement over clues that reference milk, although the [, with “the”] part of the clue is a little inelegant, though necessary. The long downs today were COAL REGIONS / CORIOLANUS / HOUSE HUNT / OPEN MINDS /  MEDIUM-RARE / STEEL MIILLS. I like the combination of COAL REGION and STEEL MILLS from different parts of the grid, although I found some of the clues on these to be a little *too* straightforward (which I know is the whole thing about the Friday being easy, but, e.g., [Shakespeare tragedy about a Roman general] and [They’re receptive to new ideas] are just kind of meh. I’m also not sure MEDIUM RARE is red in the center? I always think of it as more of a pinkish situation, but maybe I’m just not great at grilling.

A few more things:

  • Other medium-length entries I enjoyed: THE ROPES, MARLO, OCCULT, EVE PLUMB (not a name I knew), MIA HAMM (definitely a name I knew).
  • Favorite clues:
    • [Seek shelter?] for HOUSE HUNT
    • [“What happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” per John Lennon] for LIFE which, wildly, also appeared in today’s NYT! There it was clued as [What happens while you’re busy making other plans, it’s said]. I guess the NYT didn’t want to wade into a debate about who said it first? Or maybe they thought not having the source made it harder? Who can say? Anyways, for more of my thoughts on today’s NYT, you can check out the monthly video solve I did with Rex Parker over on his blog.
  • Fill I could live without: not too much, as is typical of a Patrick Berry puzzle, but INS and SIB are just SOSO fill, in my opinion.
  • Do people *actually* write RIP on gravestones or is this just a joke played on us by cartoons and halloween decorations?

Overall, an easy, smooth solve to start the weekend. Plenty of stars from me.

PS. I wrote today’s USA Today crossword if you’re looking for another easy one to glide into the weekend!


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30 Responses to Friday, February 26, 2021

  1. RSP64 says:

    Amy – looks like you grabbed an NYT grid from earlier this week.

  2. Jason Mueller says:

    The “good as gold” typo is that good may be made into gold by a typo, as they’re only one letter different.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yeah, I get that it’s a typo. Just saying that “as” is a weird way to describe a typo.

    • Sarah O says:

      Thank you. I tried and tried and could not find the typo. I’m a proofreader. It was upsetting.

    • Mutman says:

      I guess they were being ‘cute’ since ‘Good as gold’ is a somewhat common expression. At the end of the solve, I still needed this forum to explain it to me, so thumbs down from me.

      Also, did not like the KENDO/DONNE cross — never heard of either.

      I did, however, like the IN ONE DAY entry. Being from Pennsylvania, it’s nice to give the Amish a shoutout. Not sure if they actually do the barn in one day or whether that’s more of an urban legend.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        * rural legend

      • JohnH says:

        Gee, John Donne’s one of my favorite poets and definitely in the top tier of English lit, with this one of a handful of his most famous poems. (Another one by him you may have heard of is Death Be Not Proud. I believe his line “to your scattered bodies” go became a sci-fi title as well. My favorite, though, is the opening line “For god’s sake hold your tongue and let me love.” I first read it before I read poetry, in a college of fragments in Look Homeward Angel as the hero starts discovering books and absorbing language he loves.) And that phrase is familiar enough that it seems to have another excuse to include. The TAW / SVEN corner was my only annoyance in a puzzle I found hard in a good way.

        ERRATA was a late solve for me, but I got a smile out of it when it finally fell. The hardest part for me was seeing the term used literally for the mistake and not for the admission of mistake. But I’ve no problem otherwise. If I render GOOD as GOLD, I’ve made a mistake. Hiding this with a common phrase like that made it even better.

        • Mary A says:

          Absolutely! John Donne is one of the greats of English poetry. He’s most famous for his Holy Sonnets, particularly the one that begins “Death, be not proud…”, but his earlier, non-religious poetry is brilliant. Having taught the poem “Song,” whose first line is “Go and catch a falling star” (there is no comma after “go”) for many years, I immediately recognized it as Donne’s verse. The poem is a brilliantly cynical take on love and laments the inconstancy of beautiful women. Though I’m a feminist, I overlook the somewhat cliched poetic misogyny because the poem is wonderful.

          I love English teacher-friendly clues!

          Now can someone explain why CEOs might meet with angels (31A)?

  3. huda says:

    PIPET is bothersome to me. I use “Pipettes”, have invested thousands of dollars in purchasing them over the decades, and cringe at seeing them thusly diminished. Moreover, the OED doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of the word PIPET, and Google will change your Pipet entry to Pipette.
    BUT, in the interest of accuracy, some lost souls do use the word Pipet and there’s even a controversy as to whether or not it means exactly the same thing as it’s full fledged version:

    • JohnH says:

      I’ve never seen PIPET before, but MW11C has, under PIPETTE, “or less commonly PIPET,” while RHUD has an entry for PIPET as well. That has to be good enough for me. A puzzle early in the week would have, no doubt, to indicate “variant” or some such in the clue, but fine.

  4. Ethan says:

    NYT: re: “ñ-less ANO”, it was clued with reference to Portuguese, not Spanish, so the lack of tilde is appropriate.

    But more importantly: tri-stacks are back!!! It has been too, too long. Is it too much to hope that we’re going to get a quadstack soon? Pretty please?

    • Joe Pancake says:

      Also, ANO is the transliteration of a foreign word using the 26-character English alphabet, so it doesn’t have a ~ the same way RENE doesn’t have an accent on the last letter whenever “Philosopher Descartes” appears in a grid.

      This is just standard crossword puzzle convention, no? I mean, we also don’t take into consideration spaces, apostrophes, stylized capitalization, hyphens, lightning bolts (ACDC), so on and so forth.

      Although, it would be hilarious if the New Yorker puzzle required a diaeresis anytime a word like COÖPERATE appeared in the grid.

  5. PJ says:

    LAT 47a – I first went with END OF ARENA. It worked even if it’s more than three letters.

  6. David L says:

    Can anyone explain how AGO = “Something found after many years?”? I’ve read the clue forward, backward and upside down and can’t make any sense of it.

    It’s been more than 40 years since I was anywhere near a chemistry lab, but I concur with Huda’s dislike of PIPET.

  7. haari says:

    NYT I’m not sure about 1D. Yes, a TESLA might be considered a GREEN CAR, but 15A is clued as a “High-m.p.g. vehicle” . A TESLA is definitely not a high mpg vehicle as it is an electric car, therefore does not use any “gallons”.

    • Michael says:

      Such a great point.

    • Martin says:

      “Mileage” for electric cars is a thing: how many miles they can go on a kilowatt-hour of electric power. The EPA uses a derived unit to publish “MPGe” (miles-per-gallon equivalent) based on a standard 115,000 BTUs per gallon of gasoline. And, in fact, the Tesla Model 3 is rated at 134 MPGe, which makes it high mileage per EPA rating.

      • David L says:

        But even so, not a high m.p.g., as the cross-referenced clues imply.

        I had the same thought that haari expressed, but since the clue for 1D only says that a TESLA is a GREENCAR I decided it was OK.

        • Martin says:

          Yep. A Prius is a GREEN CAR with high mpg, and TESLA makes green cars.

          But my thought is that, on Friday, “high m.p.g.” is a reasonable shorthand for “with a high EPA-certified MPGe.” Although you don’t need it to justify the cluing, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to compare “m.p.g.” for all cars, which is why the EPA invented MPGe in the first place. For cars that run on electricity, the gallons are virtual. But your mileage may vary.

          • David L says:

            Straying still further afield, I don’t think the EPA’s MPGe for all-electric cars is a meaningful comparison to mpg for a gas or hybrid car. If you own an electric car, I would think the first ‘mileage’ you want to know about is how far you can go on a full charge. After that, the eco-minded figure of merit is how far you can travel for the emission of, say, 1 kg of carbon. That’s easy enough to estimate for a gasoline-only car, harder for a hybrid, and impossible for an electric car, since the number depends on how your electricity is made.

            • Martin says:

              Yeah, but using a standard (like 1 gallon = 115,000 BTU) is a start. It is a measure that we can use to hold the utility accountable for their efficiency. And since joules are fungible, that’s all that should count. If my electricity is solar, it can still replace an equivalent number of kilowatt-hours that come from coal.

  8. R says:

    NYT: IMPASTO/TAW crossing is pretty unfortunate and Naticked me. It’s especially bad since it could have been IMPASSE/SAW (ERS being as good as ORS).

  9. Christopher Smith says:

    TNY: If you’re ever bored enough to want to start an animated discussion among Gen X’ers, just mention Jan Brady and let the magic happen.

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