Friday, October 15, 2021

Inkubator tk (Rebecca) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 5:06 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 12:35 (malaika) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today untimed (Darby) 


Ashton Anderson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 15 21, no. 1015

Lively 68-worder to kick off the weekend. Fave fill: FORESIGHT and GROWING UP, not splashy but good; the conversational middle with “EXSQUEEZE ME?”, a possibly snarky “BIG SURPRISE,” and “GOD, I HOPE NOT” crossing the 15 “SHUT YOUR PIE-HOLE”; WORKING IT, JETSKI, and MIND GAME.

Six things:

  • Not too familiar with 19a. [Cause of an early lead, maybe], HOT START. I get off to a good or great start, not a hot one.
  • Did not know: 23d. [Main component in the Chinese street food jianbing], CREPE. Here’s a charming article about the art of making jianbing. Crepe dough, eggs, herbs and scallions, hoisin sauce, crispy wontons …
  • 47a. [Candy cooked until it reaches the hard-crack stage], TOFFEE. Yum! I have a sugar-free chocolate-coated toffee addiction.
  • 2d. [Angel said to have visited Joseph Smith], MORONI. Moroni is also the capital of Comoros, the African island nation in the Indian Ocean.
  • 3d. [Like shunga woodblock prints], EROTIC. Had no idea, definitely worked the crossings. See for yourself! (NSFW.)
  • 29d. [Sauce whose name derives from “pound” in Italian], PESTO. Did I know this at one point? Possibly. Related etymologically to the pestle, which you use to pound stuff in a mortar.

Four stars from me. Happy Friday, y’all!

Hoang-Kim Vu’s USA Today crossword, “Premier League Kickoff”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each themed answer refers to an English Premier League team by their nickname from the start (the “kickoff”) of the phrase. 

Theme Answers

Hoang-Kim Vu's "Premier League Kickoff" USA Today solution 10/15/2021

Hoang-Kim Vu’s “Premier League Kickoff” USA Today solution 10/15/2021

  • 17a [“Person who might feel out of place on a dude ranch”] CITY SLICKER / MANCHESTER CITY
  • 48a [“Secret schemes within a powerful group”] PALACE INTRIGUE / CRYSTAL PALACE
  • 60a [“Group with no infighting”] UNITED FRONT / MANCHESTER UNITED

*Fair warning: I did notice that other teams include “United” or “City” in their name, so forgive me if I’ve messed up the lingo here!*

I was just talking about how I only know that the Spurs exist because my friend is a huge Liverpool fan and several of his buddies are Spurs fans, so this is a very appropriately timed theme in my life, I don’t know about you. It’s a whopper with four themed answers, one of which is 15 letters (SPURS INTO ACTION). CITY SLICKER and UNITED FRONT are both 11 while PALACE INTRIGUE is a clean 14. They’re also all really solid colloquial phrases, though I think PALACE INTRIGUE is my favorite; it’s a nice balance between a phrase I’m familiar with but only encounter once in a blue moon. 

Overall, I felt like this grid did a nice job. It’s economical with its black squares and really feels like you aren’t moving constantly from short answer to short answer while also still having those bursts of three-lettered answers that help move you through the puzzle. I slowed around the REDDENS ON END lines but then felt like I blinked and had the bottom left corner filled without even hitting the keys. It’s an asymmetric grid (someone feel free to correct me here!), which I thought was interesting but it allowed for both this flow and the differing lengths in theme answers. 

Some Friday faves include:

  • 16a [“Flik in ‘A Bug’s Life,’ e.g.”] – Yes! Give me all the nostalgia. This was definitely a fun way to clue ANT. I also felt like ASH over in 23d [“Pikachu’s trainer”] doubled-down on this.
  • 8d  [“Get by]  & 44d [“Fabricated”] – It was neat to see MAKE DO and MADE UP so close to one another, especially since both are six letter answers. They’re so similar in phrasing but the clues are clearly different. Language is weird.
  • 9d [“Great Basin people”] – The UTE people are the oldest residents of Colorado, though, like many tribes, their land had been unjustly taken over by the United States. The official Southern UTE Tribe website has a history that I definitely recommend checking out. I’m sure I can’t do it justice here.
  • 12d [“Color of the rainbow not in the Pride flag”] – If you’re looking to investigate why INDIGO is not in the Pride flag, I’ll give you the CliffsNotes here, but I suggest checking it out for yourself since this is quite an internet controversy. Basically, when Gilbert Baker created the pride flag in 1978, there were 8 colors, including indigo (for harmony). When he contacted the San Francisco Paramount Flag Company about mass production, he ended up having to get rid of the hot pink since it wasn’t available, and he reduced the flag to seven stripes, replacing indigo with royal blue.

Overall, a really fun puzzle! I’m curious how many folks will pick up on the Premier League references, but I’ve always found that fan sneak up on you! After all, you never walk alone ;) 

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 10/15/21 • Fri • Wechsler • solution • 20211015

Quite a few moving parts (?) to this theme, so let’s have a look about. First of all, left-right symmetry for the grid. Then:

  • 47a/49a. […author of the novel suggested by this puzzle’s theme; the movie debuted 10/17/1956] JULES | VERNE. So I guess that makes this—on top of everything else—an anniversary crossword.
  • 25a/38a. [… what the highlighted squares suggest] AROUND THE | WORLD. The circled squares, which themselves form a larger circle in the grid, starting from the 12 o’clock position spell out  C I R C U M N A V I G A T I O N.

Once it’s laid out like this, the absence of the rest of the title—”Eighty Days”—is notable. On the other hand, that would be asking for a 15×15 grid to do way more than it’s reasonably capable of. I wonder if the original proposal for this crossword was for a Sunday-size 21×21, as that would be the precise anniversary of the film adaptation’s release.

Anyway, it’s a very impressive theme.

  • 1a [“More matter, with __ art”: Hamlet] LESS. Great quote. 62a [Prefix with meter] PENTA, as in iambic.
  • 17a [Play area] SET. Deceptive little clue.
  • 33a [Parents can relax during them] NAPS. Just now realizing that it’s the children’s naps that this refers to.
  • 50a [Bullish?] TAURINE. Not metaphorically.
  • 63d [Dagger-shaped symbols] OBELI.
  • 3d [Pit] STONE. As in fruit.
  • 4d [Brahms piano trio] SONATAS. I guess he wrote three of them?
  • 26d [It offered soldiers Hope: Abbr.] USO. Bob Hope.
  • 28a [Web transmission technology: Abbr.] DSL. I’m going to guess this is … dynamic socket link? Let’s see … nope! Digital subscriber line; originally digital subscriber loop.
  • 29d [An express might skip yours: Abbr.] STN. Dammit. For once I didn’t play it safe to see if it would be STN or the more common crossword abbrev. for ‘station’, STA.
  • 35d/36d [Face front?] PRE-, SUR-.

August Miller’s Universal crossword, “It All Works Out”—Jim P’s review

Theme answers have a FAIRY TALE ENDING (58a, [Grimm fate? … and a hint to the last words of the starred clues’ answers]). In other words, they end in—collectively—the title of a certain fairy tale.

Universal crossword solution · “It All Works Out” · August Miller · Fri., 10.15.21

  • 15a. [*Substantially] MORE THAN A LITTLE.
  • 21a. [*1986 hit about a woman wearing a colorful dress] THE LADY IN RED.
  • 37a. [*Sport that may involve clearing gates] HORSEBACK RIDING.
  • 47a. [*Where a mechanic often works] UNDER THE HOOD.

Very nice theme. I couldn’t sort it out on my own at first, so it was nice to hit the revealer and get the aha moment. Fun theme choices, and the three grid-spanners are impressive.

And there’s a fourth one as well, DENNIS ECKERSLEY at 5d, one of the few baseball names I know since I only paid attention to Bay Area baseball in the late ’80s. I even spelled his name correctly! SOLAR CAR and  BAD DATES are solid as well.

Clues of note:

  • 14a. [“Grammar” is a common one]. NOUN. As opposed to a proper noun.
  • 38d. [First and last meals together, maybe?]. BAD DATES. I wasn’t quite sure what this clue was after. I think I’ve decided it means that if you’re on a bad date, it’s probably the first and last meal you’ll have with that person. But the clue is wordy and confusing.

Simple, but impressively-executed theme and a strong grid to back it up. Four stars.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up

Patrick Berry’s October 15, 2021 New Yorker puzzle

Good morning solvers! This was on the trickier side for a Friday New Yorker for me, but on the easier side for a Patrick Berry New Yorker puzzle for me. Kinda dazzling layout with those chunky 4×9 stacks in two of the corners, and the Ls dancing around the center. So much of the long fill was really fun stuff.


  • This is such a nit-pick from me, but terms for tech stuff that are just slightly slightly off, bug me. In this case, WEB CAMERA (1A: Something to show you on the computer?). (Fantastic clue on that, btw.) No one says that! People say webcam! (Sound off in the comments if I’m wrong.) Like I said, this is just a pet peeve of mine, stuff like ETAILER and INTERNET BOT also grinds my gears.
  • Business with cut rates? for HAIR SALON (14A) was another great clue.
  • A Gilbert & Sullivan opera (18A: THE MIKADO) crossing a director (7D: ELIA) is like the platonic ideal of an ungettable crossing, I think? I guessed (wrong). I also guessed (wrong) at the crossing of the sonata movement (8D: RONDO) and the singer (21A: ORBISON).
  • I love a Dark & Stormy shout0ut (32A: RUM). Such a good drink.
  • I associate TEMPERS (39A) with chocolate more than with steel, but obviously both are valid
  • I liked the bit of trivia in the clue for ALAN MOORE (52A: Comic book writer whose work has had many film adaptations, despite his claim that it is “designed to be unfilmable”). If I recall correctly, similar things were said about the book “Life of Pi” which was ultimately made into a quite successful movie.
  • HOUSE MUSIC (24D: Techno genre that’s close to garage, appropriately) is awesome fill. House originated in the 70s in Chicago, from Black DJs like Frankie Knuckles.
  • Pot grower? was a great clue for POKER CHIP (46A)
  • When I started writing this review, I was looking for literally any excuse to include my most recent favorite video clip. I truly scoured the grid for some tenuous connection I could make, and I could not find a single one. So, for no reason at all, please enjoy this video of the Timberwolves getting really really hype about pajamas.
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10 Responses to Friday, October 15, 2021

  1. David L says:

    This seems like the second or third time the NYT has clued AGGRO as an adjective, which is not a sense I knew growing up in England. It was strictly a noun, as in ‘there was some aggro in the pub last night.’ Some online dictionaries give a secondary adjectival sense, but it seems an odd way to clue a word that I assume is not familiar to many American solvers.

    I once listened to the whole of ‘Music for Airports’ on YouTube — it’s pretty good, if you’re in the right mood for it.

    • Milo says:

      American youth here, I can confirm that AGGRO is an adjective, e.g. “Stop being so aggro.”

      • David L says:

        Interesting, thanks. I wonder whether it’s a borrowing of the UK term (which goes back to the 1960s at least) or an independent coinage.

  2. William Tjaden says:

    November 11 honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice during wartime. Referring to them as “Ex GI’s” (27 down) is disrespectful. An ex-GI is a living person who served in the military.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    USA Today (I seem to be commenting on this puzzle a lot this week) … I know there’s no official rule book when it comes to crossword construction, but including duplicate word forms like MAKE DO {8D: Get by} and MADE UP {44D: Fabricated} seems inelegant, at best. Having both AERATE {15A: Inject with oxygen} and AERIAL {49D: Like blimp footage} doesn’t strike me as great form either.

    As for the theme, since there are currently three “CITYs” and two “UNITEDs” in the Premier League, you kind of need something before both of those to know what team is being referred to. I realize that the Manchester teams are the most well-known of the City and United teams, but I think I usually hear them referred to as “Man City” and “Man U” or “Man United” unless there’s enough context to know what team the speaker or writer is referring to. But I’m no Premier League aficionado, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

    None of this had any impact on my actual solving experience. I didn’t even know what the theme was until after I finished and read the review here. Themes aren’t really my thing and it’s not too unusual for them to go over my head.

    • k says:

      FWIW, with apologies to say, Sheffield United – and only because of the existence of Sheffield Wednesday – the vast majority of our friends across the pond would understand “City” and “United” as referring to the Manchester teams in everyday conversation; for instance, even though the team is putatively named Leeds United, a Leeds fan would rather be caught dead than ever refer to their team as “United.”

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @malaika: My accountant’s office is on the block of Jefferson designated as Honorary Frankie Knuckles Way:

    • KarenS says:

      And I’m so old that I remember Ralphie Rosario spinning “You Used to Hold Me.” I still love Chicago House.

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