Friday, March 26, 2021

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:16 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 4:15 (Rachel) 


Universal 4:31 (Jim P) 


Mollie Cowger’s Inkubator crossword, “Tossing and Turning”—Jenni’s review

I struggled with this crossword far more than I should have. A typo in the NE confused me for a long time. I could probably use some more SLEEP….which I can find in the grid!

There are circles in each theme answer.

INKubator, March 25, 2021, Mollie Cowger, “Tossing and Turning,” solution grid


  • 18a [The Beatles’ debut studio album] is PLEASE PLEASE ME.
  • 26a [Movers’ rate?] is MILES PER HOUR. The location of the apostrophe is a subtle hint that we’re not talking about moving companies.
  • 43a [Despondency] is HOPELESSNESS.

And the revealer at 51a: [Insomnia and narcolepsy, e.g., or what the circled letters contain] – SLEEP DISORDERS. Anagrams! Fun theme. Once I untangled my errant typing, the puzzle fell smoothly.

A few other things:

  • 5d [Like some history and hygiene] is ORAL. Funny juxtaposition.
  • 9d [Special offer for seniors?] is a PROMPOSAL. This is not my favorite trend.
  • 12d [Part of the front matter in many fantasy books] is MAPS. These don’t translate well to Kindle, in my experience. If there are photos or other graphic elements in a book, I want the actual book.
  • 33a [Xtra crisp on TV] is IN HD.
  • 41d [The “x” in Mexico?] is BESO. “x” as in “xoxo” – kiss.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: so very many things. I’d never heard of Terese MARIE Mailhot or MISHA GREEN. I’m not familiar with Maria Enriquez’ story collection, “Things We LOST in the Fire.” I didn’t know that Gabourey SIDIBE is in “Empire” or that “Empire of Dreams” is EPIC fiction. And while I do know what  SHIP means in the context of fanfic, I’ve never heard of Braime (“Game of Thrones”) or ScarletWidow (the MCU).

Daniel Larsen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 26 21, no. 0326

Pretty grid, with the 11/13/15 stacks rounding the corners and that nice 6/8/9/8/6 swath in the middle.


Two pop culture bits I surprised myself by not knowing:

  • 52a. [Animator Klasky who co-created “Rugrats”], ARLENE. Rugrats was after my childhood and before my kid’s, that awkward, in-between stage.
  • 40d. [Amazon comedy/drama set in a New Jersey country club in the 1980s], RED OAKS. Ah, 2014-2017, nothing current.

Five more things:

  • 30a. [Voluptuary], HEDONIST. You don’t see voluptuary much. See if you can use it in a sentence this weekend and actually be understood by your listener!
  • 36a. [Stravinsky’s “Le ___ du Printemps”], SACRE. I don’t know SACRE in French, exactly. There’s “sacré bleu!” but … I don’t know exactly how that translates, either. Turns out the English “The Rite of Spring” is a bit off from “sacred spring”? I welcome more elucidation from our Francophone friends.
  • 31d. [___ zero (status of no unanswered emails)], INBOX. I can’t relate! I leave a zillion unopened emails in my inbox as a filing system.
  • 41d. [“Hold it,” in music], TENUTO. One of those “check all the crossings” words for me. Now, TENUTO and 34a’s TENOR are etymological cousins, but they have distinctly different vibes.
  • 44d. [River through the Carolinas], PEEDEE. Shout-out to my friend P.D.!

3.9 stars from me. Happy Friday!

Jennifer Mara’s Universal crossword, “Palindromic Pointers”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Palindromes! Each theme answer is a palindrome offering advice. The revealer is LOOK BOTH WAYS (58a, [Advice for someone crossing the street, and a theme hint].

Universal crossword solution · “Palindromic Pointers” · Jennifer Marra · Fri., 3.26.21

  • 20a. [Advice for someone visiting a kennel?] STEP ON NO PETS
  • 35a. [Advice for a bard who’s frightened by Pictionary?] DRAW, O COWARD!
  • 42a. [Questionable advice for someone in need of money?] BORROW OR ROB

I like that each palindrome is relatively normal-sounding (some can feel tortured), and I like the added constraint of limiting the palindromes to ones that intend to offer advice. I was kinda hoping these were original but I did find them on some of the various palindrome sites. That’s not a slight against the constructor, because I’d probably do the same thing, but still, I was kinda hoping. At least I’d never seen them before, so they felt original to me.

Solid fill all around with a repentant “OH SORRY” and a defiant “SO WHAT” standing out from the crowd. I liked seeing WAPO [D.C. paper] since that’s an abbreviation we see a lot here on this site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as an entry though.

Clues of note:

  • 12d. [Verb for Popeye]. YAM. Cute.
  • 25d. [Delighted toddler’s demand]. AGAIN. Usually repeated at least once.
  • 57d. [Earworm segment?]. LYRIC. Ha! Sounds like we’re dissecting earworms in Biology class.

I found this to be an enjoyable puzzle with fun theme entries and solid fill. 3.7 stars.

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

The New Yorker crossword solution • Patrick Berry • Friday, March 26, 2021

Hello it’s Friday! We’ve got stacks on stacks on stacks today (or at any rate, we have four stacks today).  I enjoyed them all! I thought the cluing today was a little too straightforward, which often happens on Friday, but I was surprised by how few instances of wordplay there were in this puzzle.

The entries that were stacked today were: {OPEN SESAME / BIRTHDATES / INFREQUENT}, {SCREEN DOOR / SEE YOU SOON / UNDERPANTS}, {HOME BAKED / IRON OXIDE / SETTLED IN}, and {BLUE GEESE/ CORN HUSKS / SWEET PEAS}. Nearly every one of these had a down-home country living vibe, from the flora and fauna in the NE to the SETTLED IN, HOME-BAKED, SCREEN DOOR kitchen feeling in the south. Two entries felt just a hair off what I would say colloquially (UNDERPANTS instead of UNDERwear and BIRTHDATES instead of BIRTHDAYS), but somehow that also sort of contributed to the old-school, homey feeling of this puzzle. Also, I wonder if the younger members of Gen-Z know what an emoticon is?

A few more things:

  • More puzzle serendipity with STAN Lee appearing in the NYT and the New Yorker today
  • I was going to try to make a joke about this puzzle doing better on the Bechtel Scandal test than the Bechdel test because of Edwin MEESE but it was too deep of a cut and too much effort, so this bullet point is the joke!
  • Favorite clues:
    • [Desmond Dekker’s musical genre] for SKA — thanks for teaching me about Desmond Dekker!
    • [Follower of a farm team?] for PLOW — today’s only ? clue!

That’s it for today. Overall, lots of stars for a clean, pretty, mostly-good-vibes puzzle. SEE YOU SOON aka next week.

Gary Larson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/26/21 • Fri • Larson • solution • 20210326

Theme is straightforward enough: various items with insects in their names taken literally, and clued via the 1998 Pixar film A Bug’s Life.

  • 17a. [Nightspot in “A Bug’s Life”?] CRICKET CLUB.
  • 27a. [Purse in “A Bug’s Life”?] FLEA BAG.
  • 37a. [Fancy dance in … ?] FLY BALL.
  • 50a. [Queue in … ?] BEELINE.
  • 58a. [Fruity beverage in … ?] BEETLEJUICE. Aha! A film-within-a-film.

Almost FEELS (68a) as if there should have been six themers, no?

As for the grid, we get triple-stacked vertical 8s and 6s in the corners. I found the northwest section to be the knottiest and was subsequently the last part to fall.

  • 3d [Flexible fastener] TWIST TIE. Just purchased some reusable rubberized ones. Very handy.
  • 11d [Professional copyist] SCRIBE. Not a word you see too often, except for a slightly poetical description of a writer.
  • 1a [Merged thespian union] AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Wikipedia sez: founded in 1937 as AFRA, became AFTRA in 1952, merged with the Screen Actors Guild to become SAG-AFTRA in 2012. 30d [Bully’s reply] SAYS ME.
  • 21a [“__ Alyscamps”: Van Gogh work] LES.
  • 24a [Hang out in the sun] LET DRY. Thought this was AIR DRY for a while.
  • 42a [Skeleton’s place?] CLOSET. Mostly metaphorical.
  • 49a [Frozen custard chain in 14 states] ANDY’S. Never heard of it. >consults internet< It’s in the South and Midwest, which mostly explains that. Do they sell 27d [Fountain orders] FLOATS? Answer: yes. Also, they have lines of products called Concretes and Jackhammers?!?  … backs away slowly

paintings by Bernard Durin

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14 Responses to Friday, March 26, 2021

  1. Amy L says:

    NYT: Sacre (no accent) means rite or sacrament. Sacré means sacred or holy. The white domed basilica on the hill of Montmartre in Paris is Sacré-Coeur, or Sacred Heart. My dictionary says sacrebleu is a mild expletive expressing surprise or indignation, without giving an English equivalent.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Nice to learn this. I don’t speak French, but Wikipedia says “sacrebleu” is a minced oath rhyming with the phrase “sacré dieu” which would have been considered blasphemous at various points in history. Kinda like saying “Oh my gosh!”

    • JohnH says:

      Quite right. I’ll merely add that “sacre” isn’t all that common elsewhere, and traditionally and still primarily it means the crowning, consecration, anointment, or what-have-you of a new king. So Stravinsky was being provocative in making an implicit claim for nature, spring, and the human and artistic urges that it and the work unleash.

      And people bit the provocation. The premiere famously led to a minor riot.

      • Amy L says:

        Thanks, Jim. I thought sacrebleu had to be a euphemism but I couldn’t figure out what it would be replacing.

        Thanks, John. I seem to have heard Sacre in other titles of artworks, where it probably refers to consecration or anointment. Makes sense.

        • Billy Boy says:

          Oil offer that Sacre Bleu is probably functions most like body hell in Britspeak

          @RMCAMP Yes, it is like that Gothic S or is that ESS in crosswordese fill?

  2. Billy Boy says:


    Huge love with all the five votes today.

    A little more than adequate, the grid was good looking, some of the fill meh.

    Zut alors!


  3. JohnH says:

    Must be hard to do stacks and still keep the puzzle easy, as with TNY.

    While of course no spoilers allowed, geez the WSJ was a dreadful fill, with its end to end geography quiz. I was so eager to be done with it and throw it out that I haven’t even brought myself to look for a meta. Up there with the worst puzzles ever, unless the meta turns out to be an amazing excuse for this.

  4. Mutman says:

    NYT: Breezed thru the north, hit a hurricane in the south. But persevered.

    Never knew ABBA was an acronym for the members. Was never a fan. More oriented to my opinion of them is: Awfully Bad Boring Audio.

  5. David Steere says:

    Inkubator: I found Mollie’s puzzle harder than Jenni did. Too many television-related, etc. references that were completely unknown to me. It’s gotta be a generational thing and that I don’t watch television. Amazing to me how many references in crosswords come from the still-largely idiot box. But, that’s the adventure one takes on with the Inkubator. I much preferred Mollie’s puzzle with Brooke Husic today at USA Today. Fairer crosses and quite an adorable theme. And last week’s special Inkubator puzzle by Rachel Antell was really nice with a nifty mathematical theme of sorts.

    • R says:

      Everyone is very, very impressed with how little television you watch. It’s great that you told us because otherwise we would not have known how interesting you are because of your lack of interest in popular culture. We’ve all been talking about it and we’re simply in awe. Well done!

      • LaurieAnnaT says:

        David Steere’s comment was completely fair.

        R’s response was just nasty and undeserved.

        Steere did not put down the crossword puzzle for having current references, he just observed that it’s more difficult for solvers who aren’t tuned into current TV shows. I do have the TV usually going in the background, but I rarely watch current TV shows. However, like Steere, I enjoy doing these crossword puzzles. They’re just a bit more of a challenge.

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