Lita and Tass Williams’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #20″—Jenni’s review
It’s an Inkubator themeless! I found it a bit easier than an average NYT Saturday and still chewy enough to be fun.
Things I liked:
- WHAT GIVES? at 1a, clued as [“Why would you do that?!”] I love a good interrobang and I love a good conversational entry.
- 14a [Ace from Inbee Park] is a HOLE IN ONE. Turns out she’s a South Korean golfer. I’m sure lots of you knew that. To say I don’t follow golf is something of an understatement. For added enjoyment, it crosses TEEING UP, which I do recognize as a golf term.
- 15d [Form-al starting place?] is LINE A – as in the place you start filling in the form.
- A bride might take off the OVERSKIRT of her gown before doing the TANGO at her reception. I mean, she might.
- 54d [Short pants?] are TROU.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: Inbee Park. I also did not know that auditorium seating on the ground floor is the PARTERRE.
Daniel Larsen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Feels like it’s been a minute (that is contemporary slang for “a longish while”) since we had a punchy pair of triple stacks in the NYT. This puzzle has trios of 15s at the top and bottom, plus a middle Across, all connected by a vertical 15. And they’re a lively batch of entries! The Bryson book A WALK IN THE WOODS, CALL ON THE CARPET (I tried READ THE RIOT ACT but it’s not long enough) and THE BACHELORETTE are in the attic, with ATHLETIC APPAREL, the great “CARE TO ELABORATE?”, and a SLEEVELESS DRESS in the basement and retro THE MAN FROM UNCLE as the elevator past RUSSIAN ROULETTE. You can carp that SLEEVELESS DRESS is there only to provide lots of S’s and E’s, but it’s far more a thing than, say, some noun formed by adding a -LESS and a -NESS.
Now, the price we pay for juicy 15s is typically iffy crossing fill. I’m not wild about WAH, ALE GLASS, and crosswordese ORIEL, but hey, the rest of the crossings range from fine to quite nice. Congrats to Mr. Larsen on the results of his (undoubtedly protracted) efforts.
Six more things:
- 6d. [People who built the Qhapaq Ñan, or “Royal Road,” which stretched roughly 3,700 miles], INCA. Amazing clue! I love it. The entire Inca road system is 25,000 miles long! Do click through to that Wikipedia article and learn some stuff. (This engineering achievement was entirely unknown to me before tonight.)
- Did not know: 25a. [Johnny with 10 World Series of Poker bracelets], CHAN. I don’t follow poker, but there’s a good chance crossworder and poker player Ben Bass has met Johnny Chan. Also new to me: 52d. [Rebecca ___ Crumpler, first African-American female physician in the U.S.], LEE. I wonder if she’s included in the new Chicago mural honoring pioneering Black physicians.
- The fill I disliked the most was this pair of 8s flanking RUSSIAN ROULETTE. 30a. [Cut off the back], BEEF LOIN—is that a thing? Doesn’t ring a bell (note: haven’t eaten beef since 1978). And 37a. [Many national anthems], WAR SONGS? Okay. I don’t really know of this music category. The halves of these answers are entirely familiar, but the 8s felt weird to me.
- 45a. [Seventh word of the Gettysburg Address], OUR. Timely to cite Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation was concealed from enslaved people in Texas for a few years. And so it is that Juneteenth becomes our newest federal holiday! I guess we’re not getting mail this Saturday. I have tomorrow off from work … but they only declared it to be a company holiday today and I have work to do tomorrow.
- 40d. [Plaything for a Greek god], MORTAL. Another great clue!
- 43d. [Delilah player in 1949’s “Samson and Delilah”], Hedy LAMARR. She’s also remembered for her scientific and technical innovations. If you like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, you owe her your thanks.
4.25 stars from me.
Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
As described, this is a ‘lightly challenging puzzle’. It’s a themeless, as I believe all the New Yorker offerings are.
We get a nice, flowing grid with smooth fill. There was never a moment where I needed to slow down or anything.
- 18a [Museum in Paris’s First Arrondissement] THE LOUVRE. Which means (if you didn’t know) that it’s centrally located, as the arrondissements spiral outward in a clockwise fashion.
- 20a [Symbol of slowness] SNAIL. You’d take your time, too, if you had to literally—not like a metaphorical army—travel around on your stomach.
- 37a [“The __ Tollbooth”] PHANTOM. I only read it as an adult, but was still entranced by it. Recommended. The author, Norton Juster, died this past March.
- 49a [Role for Zöe Kravitz in the upcoming film “The Batman”] CATWOMAN. Have you heard about the latest character revelation? It’s been all over Twitter recently. Related: 52a [“Ain’t happenin’!”] NOHOW.
- 57a [Square things] REPAY. Liked the understated ambiguity in this one.
- 63a [Like a soufflé] AIRY. I knew it wasn’t going to be EGGY because I’d already filled in 31d [Common breakfast fare] EGGS. This is why it’s nice to be confident that your crossword doesn’t have major duplications.
- 7d [Hardly a believer] ATHEIST. That’d be a certain kind of believer being referenced. See sense 1b of the intransitive verb definition at m-w.com.
- 27d [Biodegradable container?] COMPOST BIN. Great clue.
- 48d [The tangata whenua of New Zealand] MAORI. Unfortunately, much as I’d like to, I’m not going to remember that endonym, which means ‘people of the land’.
If you’re interested in listening to the complete album, the playlist is here.
Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Phrases ending in –ST have that sound transposed to –TS, to wacky effect. In some cases, homophonic spelling adjustments are made.
- 17a. [Winter wear made from tusks?] IVORY COATS (Ivory Coast). How would that work, exactly?
- 30a. [Routines for barbecuing?] WIENIE ROTES (… roast).
- 37a. [Cuts back on one’s livestock business?] GIVES UP THE GOATS (… ghost). Sounds capricious.
- 46a. [Carryalls made by Dior?] FRENCH TOTES (… toast).
- 60a. [Useless castle defenses?] INNER MOATS (innermost).
Serviceable, but not exactly laugh-out-loud stuff. Perhaps it’s my mood lately.
- 9d [Classic movie girl played by a boy] LASSIE. Minor misdirection.
- 11d [Hard-copy evidence] PAPER TRAIL. Like the fill, not thrilled with the clue. However, it isn’t so easy to come up with a succinct definition, so it works.
- 12d [Main course preceder in France] ENTRÉE. Makes much more lexicographical sense, n’est-ce pas?
- 13d [Jefferson, et al., religiously] DEISTS. Spare me the deets. (But see also 59a [Others, in Latin] ALII.)
- 25d [Source of feelings] NERVE ENDING. I guess that works, though I would prefer a question mark in the clue.
- 27d [Religious fervor] UNCTION. Had no idea of this sense of the word; just the those proximate to it.
- 38d [Smashing] SOCKO, which is a very Broadway term; crossing 56a [Manhattan theater district locale] MIDTOWN (West). Adjacent is 67a [“Cool!”] NEATO. Much farther afield is 23a [Onetime Tide competitor] RINSO.
- 48d [Wielding an axe] HEWING. Feels rather quaint, though I wouldn’t say so to someone wielding an axe.
- 15a [Portmanteau metal producer] ALCOA. For ALuminum COmpany of America. This seems to be more acronym—which may be composed the first letters (rather than the single first letter) of constituent words—than portmanteau (Wikipedia’s page be damned).
- Casting through the acrosses now, it seems there is little more in the way of abbrevs. and initialisms than I’m comfortable with in a 15×15 grid. Looking at fill such as ARR., EEO, ENE, IOU, RET., INRI, LAN, TLC, SST. (36a, 43a, 40d, 31d, 28a, 24d, 51a, 64d, 65d). And then there’s OPTI- (19a).
- 58a [Blame] PIN. Verb here.
- 69a [Not at all cool] EDGY. ‘Cool’ is such a treacherous word. Good clue.
Don Dixon – “Giving Up the Ghost” – Romantic Depressive (1995)
Dallas Fletcher’s Universal crossword, “LGBTQ Firsts”—Jim P’s review
This puzzle is part of Universal’s Pride Month series.
Theme entries are familiar phrases whose first words sound like letters of the alphabet. Collectively, these “letters” spell out “LGBTQ.”
- 17a. [She played Princess Aurora in “Maleficent”] ELLE FANNING.
- 28a. [“You really shouldn’t have!”] GEE THANKS.
- 34a. [Fixation] BEE IN ONE’S BONNET.
- 43a. [What psychics read] TEA LEAVES.
- 58a. [Start playing a soundtrack] CUE THE MUSIC.
Given the title, I was expecting a listing of historical events, so the actual theme turned out to be a little bit of a surprise. I’ll be honest, once I caught on to it, it felt a little light, but it’s kinda cool that each of the letters has a word homophone. I suppose the theme could even be extended with EYE CHART and ET VOILÀ, or something similar.
HONEST ABE, “NOT A SOUND!,” and PALM TREE top the long fill. NEED ASAP feels just a touch manufactured, but I’ll still take it. Surprisingly, there’s still room for some longish Across entries like SOMALIA, NEATNIK, TYLENOL, and O CANADA. Very nice.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Dad]. POPS. Happy Fathers’ Day to all the POPS out there.
- 15a. [Marilyn who had a signature mole]. MONROE. I’m envisioning a pet mole at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- 62a. [Speed dial, briefly?]. TACH. Well, not the speed of the car, but the speed of the engine.
- 46d. [Parking lot?]. VALETS. Cute.
Cute theme and clean grid. Strong fill all around. 3.7 stars.
Nice to see Bill Bryson mentioned in the NYT – his books are favorites, but not the sort to read on a plane, since they produce intermittent volleys of involuntary guffaws (at least for me). A Walk in the Woods is one of his funniest (the movie version is not worth mentioning). His best IMHO is Notes From a Small Island.
Couldn’t agree more. Although, when reading his “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” there was laughing from me that almost had my wife call 911 because I think I couldn’t breathe at times.
Bill Bryson is truly a world treasure.
I haven’t read that one! Will do it soon – and if you haven’t read At Home, do so – it’s fascinating! (So is The Body)
Most poker movies revolve around an absurd hand that would not occur in 10 lifetimes (The Cincinnati Kid and Casino Royale to name two). An exception is Johnny Chan going head to head with Matt Damon in Rounders.
Easier puzzle than I thought it would be.
One thing I must note about the NYT is that all three entries of the top stack use the word “the.” Not a killer per se but a little inelegant?
The NYT was enjoyable, but seemed easy for a Friday. Not a lot of trickery in the cluing, I think.
I did not know A WALK IN THE WOODS, but all the other 15s were familiar. THE MAN FROM UNCLE went in with no crosses, and RUSSIAN ROULETTE off just the two Rs.
I’ve spent my share of time in drinking establishments, and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the term ALE GLASS. Certainly gettable enough, but I was wondering if this is a Britishism (maybe hinted at with the use of “Pub” in the clue)?
I spent many of my early years in British pubs and also found ALEGLASS altogether unidiomatic. For one thing, the word ‘ale’ is rarely seen except in combination: pale ale, brown ale, etc.
ALE GLASS struck me as odd, too. “Pint glass” seems more natural to me.
NYT – Late to check out the opinions, I’ve been losing some CWP interest lately and only solving Sat & Fri NYT with any enthusiasm. This was fun.
Stacked 15’s require either genuinely stupid stuff or really easy stuff for crosses. This had a little of each, ALEGLASS being the most egregious. That’s genuinely awful but easy to suss. I didn’t realize using THE was a faux pas, I’m not that picky, but do not construct, either.
So actually a pretty cool puzzle in the end! Beautiful grid appearance.
I only had a slight hang-up in the SW, but that’s all pretty good, I’ll bet it set record solve times for some – I don’t time solve, but it was very easy except that little niggle for me.
A shout out to my #Chelsea’s own wee Scot Billy Gilmour in ENGSCO Euro 2020 today, just turned 20 and was STAR of the match!