Friday, June 4, 2021

Inkubator tk (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:29 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 4:20 (Amy) 


Universal 4:02 (Jim P) 


Nam Jin Yoon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 4 21, no. 0604

Aaah, so many great entries here! I’m partial to “DON’T JUDGE,” a HONEYBEE, REALITY TV, ESCAPE POD (I need one, please), END IN TEARS, and DJANGO.

I’m procrastinating on writing here, so let me just bulletize:

  • 1a. [Hot pot spot], KILN. As in ceramic pottery that’s hot in a kiln, and not the Chinese cooking style, the thing I boiled water in when I lived in a dorm, or a random pot on the stove.
  • 18a. [A child who’s lying might make one], SNOW ANGEL. Lying on the snowy ground, truthfully.
  • 29a. [Bread crumbs used as a coating], PANKO. Last year, we ordered some panko bread crumbs from a grocery store, online ordering. The shopper’s substitution was … gluten-free panko. Not the same!
  • 34a. [“Pachinko” author ___ Jin Lee], MIN. Her name is new to me, but hey, there’s an Apple TV+ series in the works based on Pachinko.
  • 6d. [“Wait for it … wait for it … NOW!”], “AND … GO!” I don’t care for this entry as clued. [Stop-___ traffic] partial, sure.
  • 8d. [Explicit, to a Brit], SPELT OUT. Meh. I’d like this better if I weren’t so solidly American.
  • 41d. [Gunny], BURLAP. As in gunnysack. Or, as the Brits would say, hessian.

4.25 stars from me. Happy Friday!

Don Gagliardo and CC Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 6/4/21 • Fri • Gagliardo, Burnikel • solution • 20210604

This is sort of a recombinant theme. The clues consist of two two-word phrases; for each phrase there is a word that can be paired with both elements, and those two new words—pluralized—are linked in a common phrase containing the word ‘and’. As is often the case it’s more difficult to explain than demonstrate:

  • 16a. [Big house, hot water] CATS AND DOGS (big cat, cathouse AND hot dog, water dog). This introductory themer is confusing because doghouse is definitely also a thing, and big dog is arguably one.
  • 32a. [Abstract concept, space needle] ARTS AND CRAFTS (abstract art, concept art AND spacecraft, needlecraft.
  • 37a. [Wee one, parlor game] BITS AND PIECES (wee bit, one bit AND parlor piece, game piece). Those ‘bit’ combos are on the weak side.
  • 59a. [Pepper jack, gold dust] POTS AND PANS (pepper pot, jackpot AND gold pan, dustpan).

Whew! That’s quite a theme in both concept and execution.

  • 3d [Cardinals’ homes] NESTS. Misdirection by simplicity. I was expecting the inevitable reference to a sports team. Perhaps because it was immediately followed by
  • 4d [Sports org. that evolved from one created under Teddy Roosevelt] NCAA. Little bit of trivia embedded in that one.
  • 10d [Herb from the laurel tree] BAY LEAF. I always place one or two in the pot when I’m making rice; it’s primarily a ceremonial act.
  • 17d [U.S. record label since 1934] DECCA. 19a [Recording session rarity] ONE TAKE.

    No idea whether this was done in ONE TAKE, but I can’t guarantee that it wasn’t!
  • 6a [RxList selection] DRUG. Not sure why this one played difficult for me.
  • 49a [Acidic, in Germany] SAUER, as in sauerkraut.


Jessica Zetzman’s Universal crossword, “Two Times Two”—Jim P’s review

This puzzle is part of the Universal Pride Month series.

Theme: Using the title as a hint, we see that the bigram BI (meaning “two”) appears twice in each theme answer. If it was me though, I would’ve gone with the title “Two By Two” just for the play on words.

Universal crossword solution · “Two Times Two” · Jessica Zetzman · Fri., 6.4.21

  • 20a. [*”Help me, ___. You’re my only hope.” (Leia)] OBIWAN KENOBI.
  • 37a. [*Gradually] BIT BY BIT.
  • 43a. [*Korean rice bowl] BIBIMBAP. Mmm. Not only is this fun to say, but it’s good to eat. Though I tend to pass on the egg on top.
  • 56a. [*What’s celebrated on September 23 to prevent an identity’s erasure, or a hint to the pair of prefixes in each starred answer] BI VISIBILITY. This is the revealer, and it’s another theme answer. Nice.

I for one was not aware of this day, but I’m glad to learn it. In that respect, this puzzle does its job of raising awareness. According to Wikipedia, the date was chosen partly because it’s the birthday of one of the organizers, but partly because September is the birth month of Freddie Mercury.

As for the theme itself, I wasn’t sure how the term BI VISIBILITY meant there should be two instances of BI in each themer, but once I made the connection with the title, I was on board. It works well enough for me.

In the fill, my fave entry has to be RIBBIT. I also like RAISINET. Well, I don’t like Raisinets; I’m definitely more of a Goobers guy. But as fill, it’s fun.

Clues of note:

  • 51a. [Sara’s partner in indie pop]. TEGAN. I don’t know the Canadian duo TEGAN and Sara, but then I don’t devote much energy to following indie pop. The partners are actually identical twin sisters. Both are openly gay, and after the 2016 U.S. elections, they started their own foundation aimed at “Improving the lives of LGBTQ+ women and girls.” I do know their vocal work on “Everything is Awesome,” the sarcastically funny earworm from The Lego Movie.
  • 9d. [Any frontline worker]. HERO. Nice clue in honor of those who risk sickness and death to help others, especially in those frightening early days of the pandemic.

Solid theme and grid. 3.8 stars.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker themeless crossword—Amy’s write-up

New Yorker crossword solution, 6 4 21

Although the Friday New Yorkers are supposed to be the easiest, this one felt a tad tougher than I was expecting. Not any harder than the typical Fri NYT, though.

First off: LUMPIA! These deep-fried [Filipino spring rolls] typically contain pork, so I don’t eat them at restaurants. Friend of mine makes his own banana lumpia, though, and I would go for that but I don’t want to deep-fry at home. (There is so little Pinoy stuff in crosswords. Of course it’s Erik who brings this bit of representation, because he’s so intentional about such things.)


Best clue: 31a. [Semi-regular Amazon event], LABOR STRIKE. Incisive!

Did not know: 34a. [Leader of the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, and Pension Association, chartered in 1897], CALLIE HOUSE. Just read a bit about her here. She was campaigning for reparations over a century ago. Do you think she would be surprised that in 2021, the concept was finally finding some hints of approval from the white majority, but that little had actually come of it?

Feel like the clue for 34d CENSORED has it backwards. [Like the line “I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!”] says that this non-sweary alternative to profane movie dialogue (with Samuel L. Jackson’s delivery, “motherfucking” is golden) is what’s CENSORED, but I would say that the original profane dialogue is what was censored. Yes? No?

New to me: 11d. [Its punchline is designed not to land], ANTI-JOKE. Apparently these are things where the expected punchline is abandoned and instead you get a logical answer. Here’s a list of anti-jokes.

4.25 stars from me.

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18 Responses to Friday, June 4, 2021

  1. Billy Boy says:


    Two word put together answers kept this from being really top shelf. Still pretty good stuff but not to hard. Good variety, too.

    HONEYBEE cracked me up as it came into view, that’s clever.

  2. MattF says:

    NYT was tough for me. Had to look up DJANGO, so actually a DNF.

  3. Krishna Tateneni says:

    LAT: I don’t think I’d ever have figured out the theme. Maybe if there was a title to the puzzle. Appreciate the explanation!

  4. Me says:

    LAT: Is “one bit” a well-known phrase? I know “two bits” as in “shave and a haircut, two bits,” but I’ve never heard “one bit.”

    I agree with pannonica that the theme is confusing when you have both “cathouse” and “doghouse.” “One piece” as in “one-piece bathing suit” is more of a thing than “one bit” IMO.

  5. Jim says:

    NYT: “Jay between Johnny and Jimmy” and “Small organic food producer” have to be two of my favorite clues.

    Also: Yesterday’s DOGGO showed up in today’s Spelling Bee.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: I often don’t have the patience for grokking themes like this one, so I’m appreciative of the reviews here for letting me in on the secret on occasion. In this case, I think pannonica was slightly off in spelling out the logic of the first themer. I assume that the constructors were thinking “big cat” and “house cat” (i.e. not “cathouse”) so that the two answer words always come second in the recombined phrases/words.

  7. Dan says:

    The LA Times puzzle (Big house, etc.) had what is probably the most poorly executed theme I can recall in all my many years of solving.

  8. Crotchety Doug says:

    LAT – I didn’t grok the theme either. Thanks to Pannonica for figuring it out. Her review and the comments here are more entertaining than the puzzle.

  9. Pavel Curtis says:

    Disappointed not to find a review of the Inkubator puzzle here. I always appreciate y’all’s take on it.

  10. Alex says:

    LAT theme is a doozy. Oof. Thumbs down here.

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