Friday, September 3, 2021

Inkubator untimed (Rebecca) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 5:24 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 2:59 (joon—downs only) 


Universal 6:20 (Jim P) 


USA Today 4:34 (Darby) 


Brendan Emmett Quigley & Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NYT – #08/03 – 08/03/2021 – Evad’s error at ILANA/MARON

I thought I was going to love this puzzle but I only liked it. There were some entries that just didn’t resonate with me at all. Mainly these two:

  • 20a. [Words before “Yes, I cried, yes I cried” in “Return of the Mack”], “YOU LIED TO ME.” Don’t know the song at all because I was listening to more rock radio in the 1990s. It’s kinda catchy. (Lyrics here, video below.) Lyric from a 25-year-old one-hit wonder, though? Is that good crossword fodder? (Disclaimer: If it were a 35-year-old one-hit wonder I knew, I probably would love it and wouldn’t be questioning it.)
  • 30a. [“In that case, move on!”], “SO LET IT GO!” Feels maybe contrived?

Fave fill: LEAD GUITAR, “ON WHAT PLANET?”, WAG THE DOG, the pretty much new-to-me CLOSE-UP MAGIC, and SIDESHOWS.

Ten more things:

  • 3d. [Role for Malcolm-Jamal Warner on “The People v. O. J. Simpson”], AL COWLINGS. Didn’t watch it and misremembered the man’s name as COLLINGS at first. White Bronco! Looking back from these days, I’m surprised Cowlings and Simpson didn’t end up getting shot by adrenaline-jacked police.
  • 15a. [Conspicuously unfamiliar party guest, informally], RANDO. This is fun. And it rescued me from having MINE instead of MORE at 12d. I use the word when mentioning players I don’t know who pop up in a Pokémon Go raid lobby.
  • New to me: 47a. [Collection of 10 directives written by Vladimir Lenin], APRIL THESES. Never heard of this! But it’s a good thing to learn. Tell me, my Russian history scholars: Were any of these directives good things?
  • 50a. [Animal whose name sounds like you?], EWE. See also: YOU LIED TO ME crossing Y’ALL, not a crossing I can sign off on.
  • 7d. [Site for a movie poster?], MEDIA BLOG. I get the poster = “person who writes/publishes blog posts” mislead, but I don’t know what a MEDIA BLOG is, exactly.
  • 11d. [Congressman Kinzinger], ADAM. He represents somewhere in Illinois and has made a name for himself as a Republican who is, strangely enough, anti-sedition.
  • 18d. [Beings made from smokeless fire, in the Quran], GENIES. What a great clue!
  • 41d. [___ citato (in the work quoted: Lat.)], OPERE. In case you were wondering what op.cit. was short for.
  • 43d. [Fisher with a stownet], EELER. Dull entry, and learning the word stownet has not sparked joy.
  • 46d. [Longtime mint brand that doesn’t contain any mint], CERTS. I’ve always been perplexed by the use of the word mint to refer to little candies that contain no mint. I love the Pür tangerine tango “mints,” but I honestly don’t think they do anything much for freshening the breath, whereas an Altoids mint will. Just call it a candy, people!

3.5 stars from me.

August Miller’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 9/3/21 • Fri • Miller • solution • 20210903

  • 49aR [Epitome of anxiety … or what’s hidden in three puzzle answers?] NERVOUS WRECK. The letters are jumbled but appear consecutively in those entries. I’ve circled the relevant circles for clarity’s sake.
  • 20a. [2013 Mark Wahlberg film] LONE SURVIVOR.
  • 28a. [Warning on some serving containers] NOT FOR OVEN USE. It’s definitely A Thing That I’ve Seen.
  • 42a. [1960 Melina Mercouri rom-com] NEVER ON SUNDAY. I’ve heard of it but not seen it. Directed by Jules Dassin.

These are fantastic finds, so even though this is a rather common type of theme, it’s really well done. Somewhat distracting that two of the three are film titles. I’m sure an effort was made to find a third film title, but that’s a tall order.

  • 4d [Citrus soft drink] LIME SODA.
  • 35d [Common sights at kids’ soccer games] MINIVANS. I can certainly picture that.
  • 37d [Pet lizard’s basking spot] HEAT ROCK. Is that something that’s heated internally, or a rock that’s under a lamp and absorbs heat, the way one in nature would absorb the sun’s energy?
  • 40d [Nobelist Niels] BOHR. I recommend Michael Frayn’s cleverly speculative play, Copenhagen, about an unusual 1941 meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. There was a decent BBC-TV production of it as well.
  • 50d [It’s found among the reeds] OBOE, which possesses a [Wind instrument’s flared end] BELL (1a).
  • 5a [Asian noodle] UDON. 19a [Evening course for many college students] RAMEN. Now I’m thinking about some Japanese-style food for lunch.
  • 17a [You might take a day trip on one] WHIM. Cute.
  • 33a [Passed unremarkably] GOT A C. Least favorite entry here. Only marginally better than GOT A.C.? (I’m hot!).
  • 35a [Info on rap sheets] MOS. Months! Naw, it’s the plural of modus operandi, which would be modi operandi.
  • 57a [Pokémon species whose final form is Alakazam] ABRA. Beyond my ken, but I would presume an intermediary form is CADABRA. This is where I tediously point out again that I disapprove of the characterization of ‘evolution’ in the Pokémon universe.

You know, all along I was planning on embedding the best-known(?) song by NERVOUS Norvus, “Transfusion“, but (1) there wasn’t a hematological second clue/answer that I could hang it on, and (2) I thought of something better.

Spare some thought and maybe even some funds for the people suffering in New Orleans in the aftermath of Ida.

John-Clark Levin’s Universal crossword, “Sea What I Mean?”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Familiar names and phrases are clued as if one of the words is a type of fish.

Universal crossword solution · “Sea What I Mean?” · John-Clark Levin · Fri., 9.3.21

  • 17a. [Affordable fish?] CHEAP SKATE.
  • 30a. [Fish topped with cheese?] RAY ROMANO.
  • 43a. [Some fishing cords?] BASS LINES.
  • 59a. [Tough, chewy fish?] RUBBER SOLE.

Easy and breezy. I like the fact that even though some of the fish come first and some come second, they are arranged symmetrically.

I’m loving the long fill today, especially that amazing NE stack with STAN LAUREL, SCREEN NAME, and “THAT DOES IT!” The SW corner ain’t no slouch either with “MUST BE NICE,” INTRAMURAL, and CHEESEBALL. And in the center we find DEEP FRYER and MANICURES. The price is paid with a few fusty entries like AGLET, UNH, and EMETIC, but overall, the solver comes out ahead.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [South American caffeinated brew]. MATE. Whoa. Tough clue at 1a. I’m guessing it’s not pronounced as the English word. This website says, “Yerba Mate tastes like a tea and hits you like a coffee — and yet, it’s technically neither.” Do we have any connoisseur’s in the house?
  • 38a. [Herb used to flavor pizzelle]. ANISE. These aren’t little pizzas. Per Wikipedia, “Pizzelle are traditional Italian waffle cookies.”
  • 1d. [They don’t have Windows]. MACS. True, though they do have windows.

The theme feels a little on the light side, but that allows for a great set of sparkly fill. 3.75 stars.

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword—joon’s review

New Yorker crossword, Robyn Weintraub, Fri 09.03.21

New Yorker crossword, Robyn Weintraub, Fri 09.03.21

hello, joon here with the friday new yorker themeless by the always-excellent robyn weintraub, and what do you know? it’s excellent. for a couple of years, i’ve been in the habit of solving the new yorker themelesses downs-only, and although fridays are the easiest of the week, this was still an atypically fast friday for me. it did help a littl that i got an across clue due to the clue for 7d, {49-Across + Z, on a PC} which gave me both UNDO for 7d and CTRL for 49a. but it was more that the cluing was very gentle all-around, and i was especially grateful to be able to plunk down most of the tens on the first pass: {Meter for a minuet} TRIPLE TIME, {Multicolored toy named for its Hungarian inventor} RUBIK’S CUBE, {Works by Homer and Virgil, e.g.} EPIC POETRY, and {It might show a change of heart?} CARDIOGRAM. for {Small container for a gardener} i was able to suss out the SEED of SEED PACKET, and the rest came later; similarly for {It can help people deal with change} COIN SORTER i got COIN and waited for acrosses to materialize before getting SORTER. the only misstep i made on my first pass was trying USED for {Like all the stuff we own}, even though it did occur to me as i was writing it in, “but i’ve actually never even opened some of this crap”. lo and behold, the answer was actually OURS, and what i had thought was a casual “we” in the clue was subtly crucial.

robyn’s puzzles always have a lively, conversational feel, even in a downs-only solve. this puzzle’s long answers included BECAUSE I SAID SO and FORK IT OVER, balanced out by the somewhat more polite TAKE CARE. the cluing on some of these answers is also delightful and evocative without being especially tricky: {Facetious reply to “Are you asleep?”} YES made me laugh, and the snarky clue {“Aww, you poor thing . . .”} for BOO-HOO was a highlight of the across clues that i’m just seeing for the first time now.

oh, here’s another that i like: {Subatomic particle that made headlines in April for seemingly defying the standard model of particle physics} MUON. boy, the anomalous magnetic moment of the MUON was hot news in particle physics for a brief time—a very brief time, since the announcement of the newer, more precise measurement of the magnetic moment that seemed to be in conflict with the theoretical prediction was nearly simultaneous with the announcement of a refined theoretical calculation that did not, in fact, conflict with the new measurement. oh well.

last week in robyn’s friday puzzle in the new york times, we had seen PECK clued as {Unit of measure in a tongue twister}; today she’s gone bigger with {Veggies in a classic tongue twister} PICKLED PEPPERS. i am enjoying the slow reveal here across the weintraub extended universe. where do i submit my answer for the meta?

that’s all from me. thanks robyn as always for the puzzle!

Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Go with the Flow”—Darby’s review

Theme: Every theme answer includes another name for a water flow.

Theme Answers

Brooke Husic's "Go with the Flow" 9/3/2021 USA Today crossword solution

Brooke Husic’s “Go with the Flow” 9/3/2021 USA Today crossword solution

  • 19a [“Broadcast during which a pickaxe might be accidentally thrown into lava”] MINECRAFT STREAM
  • 38a [“Cartoon whose title character lives in Herkleton, Maryland”] CRAIG OF THE CREEK
  • 55a [“Part of a nature sounds playlist, perhaps] BABBLING BROOK

This theme checked all of my boxes. At first, I had no idea what any of the answers were, but once I cracked BABBLING BROOK (a fun one from constructor Brooke, in particular), I was able to fill in the ends of the other two with no problem. The theme answers also weren’t all references to specific bodies of water, so I didn’t have to brush up on my aquatic geography. It was especially fun that MINECRAFT STREAM not only referenced STREAM in its answer but also lava as its body of liquid in the clue itself.

Overall, this felt like a satisfying fill. I enjoyed the ANTE (18a [“Starting 30-Down bet”])/POKER (30d [“Game with flushes”]) combo as well as the 13a [“Fake duck, e.g.] (DECOY) and 61d [“Practical joke] (GAG) pairing. I also thought that SYNESTHETE (10d [“Person who might perceive color when they hear music”]) was a fun word for something I’d heard of before but didn’t know the term for it. It also paired well with its symmetric counterpart PAINTBALL in its reference as a [“Game with dye-filled capsules”] (33d).

Other Friday faves:

  • 1d [“The Bachelorette” host Tayshia”] – I was not up to date on this particular piece of pop culture news, and coincidentally, Tayshia ADAMS’s season was the only one I’ve watched of the reality show.
  • 35d [“Org. with a ‘Football is gay’ ad] – Who doesn’t love to see the NFL making an attempt at breaking down homophobia. You can check out the ad here.
  • 62d [“Purple ingredient in halo-halo”] – Halo-halo is a Filipino dish that looks and sounds delicious. UBE is a purple yam originally from the Philippines that is often used in desserts like halo-halo.

Overall, great grid with plenty of OMG (26a [“aslkdfj wow”]) moments! I thought the theme answers were really fresh and fun, and it made for a great start to my day!

Elise Corbin’s Inkubator crossword, “A Little Something”—Rebecca’s review

Elise brings her passion for STEM to the puzzle today with a fun rebus puzzle based on MASS.

Inkubator, September 2, 2021, Elise Corbin, “A Little Something” solution grid

  • 1D [Organic matter used as fuel] BIOMASS
  • 20A [The Bay State] MASSACHUSETTS
  • 12D [Weather “body” that may be arctic, tropical, polar, equatorial, monsoon or superior] AIRMASS
  • 22A [Collectively] ENMASSE
  • 28A [Christian gathering] SUNDAYMASS
  • 31D [Resistance figure Ahmad Shah who signed the Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women in 2000] MASSOUD
  • 32D [Glacier, for one] ICEMASS
  • 48A [Marketing goal] MASSAPPEAL
  • 58A [Gigantic] MASSIVE
  • 58D [Rubdown] MASSAGE
  • 60A [So-called “God” particle that possesses something unexpected, as represented by the circles in this puzzle] HIGGS BOSON

Quick write-up today. This was a lovely puzzle that serves as a great intro-to-rebus for newer solvers. Tricky if you haven’t seen a rebus before, but once you get the hang of the theme, it’s smooth sailing. I’m sure I would’ve appreciated the theme more if I was more science-inclined, but really I was just happy that I was able to pull HIGGS BOSON out of what seemed like thin air. I tend to prefer more symmetrical placement of rebus answers, but the volume of them in the grid was impressive enough that no points are lost on that account here.

And for ARRESTED Development, here are some great Lucille Bluth moments…

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27 Responses to Friday, September 3, 2021

  1. Chris Wooding says:

    Any suggestions on where I can get a discussion of last Sunday’s LAT?

  2. stephen c mercer says:

    You didn’t question ‘hellcat’ being clued as a carrier rather than a carrier based plane?

    • Gary R says:

      I hesitated at that one, too. Thought maybe the words had been transposed in the clue.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I suspect that most solvers don’t know the names of WWII machines. Feels like an older man sort of trivia.

      • David L says:

        I’m sure it is old man trivia (says an old man). But that’s no excuse for getting it wrong.

      • PJ says:

        I suspect there are many younger students of history. All genders and sexes.

        • R says:

          It strikes me as an old man thing to think that being “a student of history” must mean in-depth knowledge about military vehicles.
          On the other hand, there are old men into rap music and current pop culture, but that doesn’t stop others from bellyaching about it here in the comments every time a rapper or actress under 40 shows up in a puzzle.

    • Jeffrey Livingston says:

      This really threw me off. Terrible clue.

    • Mr. Grumpy says:

      A Hellcat carried people. Who do you think was flying the damn thing? No worse than many, many clues that folks have tolerated over the years IMO.

  3. Lise says:

    NYT: Sorry to ask this, because in the grand scheme of things this is a tiny thing, but I don’t see the solution grid to today’s NYT in the writeup, and clicking on the NYT link leads to Thursday’s grid, so I am unable to rate today’s.

    Re: CLOSE-UP MAGIC: in grad school I knew a fellow student who did amazing feats of close-up magic. Stuff happened right in front of me that I never could fathom. Also, I could put a bunch of coins in his hand which I’m pretty sure he hadn’t seen as I did that, and he could add it up correctly.

    I did like the puzzle very much, as I learned a few things and also appreciated the amount of math and science it contained.

  4. Dave says:

    Wasn’t happy with today’s NYT crossing of ILANA/MARON, two names which could have easily crossed with an E instead of the A.

    Yes, something’s up with today’s post and the ratings, will look into it now.

  5. David L says:

    I thought this was one of the worst NYT puzzles I’ve seen in a long long time. So much silly trivia! So many proper names!

    And the obviously incorrect clue on HELLCAT doesn’t help, but maybe that’s not the constructors’ fault. Or maybe it is.

    Everything I don’t like about certain kinds of puzzles, all thoughtfully packaged in one place!

    YMMV, of course.

    • JohnH says:

      Brutal for me, for sure, and I didn’t get the ILANA / MARON crossing. But lots I had trouble with that wasn’t even a name, such as RANDO and some of the long entry phrases that were idiomatic enough without actually being idioms.

      The only trivia in the whole puzzle I knew was Bonnie Raitt’s father, but then I was a huge Bonnie Raitt fan and my parents liked classic Broadway musicals. I’m “older” and still a full generation too young to remember WWII much less to name aircraft carriers. (My father served on one, though.)

  6. Mutman says:

    NYT: I typically enjoy a good BEQ, but this kicked my ass and the stuff I didn’t know could not even be derived.

    On the Certs point:

    – Gatorade Fruit Punch: Contains no fruit juice
    – Muscle Milk: Contains no milk

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    I know the Newsday puzzle isn’t reviewed here, but if anyone else out there includes it in their daily rotation, I have two questions about today’s grid: (1) How is CLVI an answer for the clue “44 qvadrvupled”? It should be “39 qvadrvpled”, no? That’s gotta be an error, right? and (2) How is AS TO an answer for the clue “All about”. It seems to me that the only answer that works there is ‘inTO’ . I figured there was another cluing error at the crossing SCAPULi (instead of SCAPULA {13D: Humerus-clavicle connector} … i.e. it was supposed to be clued as a plural) and that ‘SHAMUSEn’ (instead of SHAMUSES {1D: Snoopers for hire}) was some kind of weird Yiddish plural for ‘shamus’.

    I often give a side-eye to at least one or two of the clue-answer combinations Stanley uses in the puzzles he constructs, but this was ridiculous. Argh.

    • Derek Benedict says:

      I agree with you about 15A, the correct clue should have been “39 quadrupled”. Stanley Newman gets pretty sloppy sometimes, coins his own words, or misspells them.

    • Peteypuzzler says:

      Sanfranman, did you ever receive an answer AS TO the clue 44 qvadrvpled and its answer CVLI?
      I put the above “AS TO” to refer to clue All about; a subtle pun. In other words, SCAPULA is correct, its plural being -AE.

      Also, SHAMUSES is correct, albeit obscure. Immediately to mind for me was SHAMUS being uttered in “The Big Lebowski” when The Dude is being stalked by Difino(?) played by Jon Di—(?), the latter also seen in “Seinfeld” but once as Silvio, the bldg Super. (Can’t say I’ve ever heard SHAMUS uttered in my life except said scene.)

      Again, how is 44 x 4 = 156?!? Should’ve been 39 x 4 clue….unless I’m missing S.N.’s secret genius world like I have all my life….

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT: Another BH puzzle that’s well off my wavelength. Don’t get me wrong. I generally like her puzzles a lot. I just struggle with the references. To wit: MINECRAFT STREAM {19A: Broadcast during which a pickaxe might be accidentally thrown into lava}? CRAIG OF THE CREEK {38A: Cartoon whose title character lives in Herkleton, Maryland}? OMG {26D: “aslkdfj wow”}? aslkdfj wow!

    After dropping them years ago, I re-incorporated the USA Today and Universal puzzles in my daily puzzle routine at the beginning of 2020 after Erik Agard and David Steinberg took over their respective editorships. I was hoping that it would improve my ability to learn answers that involve more recent pop culture and lingo, but I’m not sure that it’s working. What’s a Boomer cruciverbalist to do?

    Perhaps it’s just another one of those cycle-of-life things. When you start out solving crosswords, you can’t do them very well because you need to learn crosswordese, cluing styles, standard themes, what a rebus is, etc. Years later, you hit your prime and think you’ve got this thing mastered. A few days later, pop culture references and language that you didn’t know exists starts creeping in and, eventually, you’re basically right back where you started, looking up a bunch of answers. Except now, your memory isn’t nearly as good as it was when you started solving, so you can’t retain any of the new stuff! Is that where this is going?

  9. marciem says:

    Universal: Re themer: Bass Lines. The fish is pronounced like ass with a b in front, whereas the guitar that plays bass lines is pronounced like base, or ace with a b. All the other themers are good.

  10. Brenda Rose says:

    can joon or someone else tell me why joon writes in lowercase letters. he certainly wrote a lot of capitals in his blog so i know his computer board is working.

    • Crotchety Doug says:

      e. e. cummings?

    • joon says:

      at this point, probably just out of habit, i think. but it goes back a couple of decades to when i was an undergrad, and typing a lot on a much less ergonomic keyboard, and dealing with all kinds of hand and wrist problems stemming thence. i noticed that combination keystrokes (shift, ctrl, or alt + a letter) were especially painful because of the way i was contorting my hands, so i just stopped using shift whenever possible—and when i needed to, i would go out of my way to hit shift with the opposite hand that i was using to type the letter, as it was slower but non-painful.

      but it turns out that english is plenty readable without capital letters, so except in very formal settings (like the time i wrote a book), i just don’t really capitalize any more. i’ve gotten very used to the way my typing looks and i’m pretty comfortable with the laid-back vibe that lowercase conveys.

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