Friday, November 19, 2021

Inkubator untimed (Rebecca) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 12:48 (malaika) 


NYT 4:35 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 4:27 (Darby) 


John Hawksley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 19 21, no. 1119

Another pair of triple-stacks—not so long after the last one, if memory serves.


Less keen on HOT TO, IF A, ENORM, JQA, AGHA.

Moving along to five more things:

  • 17a. [Ways in which different cultures interact], ETHNIC RELATIONS. What an odd term, and not one I’m familiar with. Wikipedia has a bit about the sociology thereof.
  • 22a. [Name ending for Mari- or Rosa-], LYN. Better or worse approach than just going with Lyn Nofziger, White House guy in the 1970s and 1980s? Why not use Brook- in place of Rosa-? Or Kate-, since that’s a common spelling of the Caitlin name now.
  • 59a. [Digs near a flower bed, say], GARDEN APARTMENT. Here in Chicago, a garden apartment is just a basement-to-aboveground unit whose windows look straight out to the sidewalk or yard. Actual gardens don’t come into play nearly often enough. Also, memo to the men out there: Many non-men don’t feel safe living in garden apartments because it’s too easy for creeps to break in through the windows. If only far fewer men posed a danger, eh? Garden apartments often rent for less money, so it’s another woman tax. (And if you think it’s exhausting to hear about it, imagine how exhausting it is to live your life needing to be cognizant of those risks, changing your behavior in the hopes of skirting danger.)
  • 23d. [Apparel often worn with sandals], TOGA. I was really thinking of summer fun here and not ancient Rome. Just me?
  • 33d. [Black sorority with 300,000+ members, in brief], AKA. Alpha Kappa Alpha is, I think, the most famous Black sorority in the country—Kamala Harris is a member. Watch for pink and green license plate frames with “AKA” on them!

Four stars from me.

Hannah Slovut’s USA Today crossword, “Endpaper”—Darby’s write-up

Edited by: Erik Agard

Theme: Every theme answer ends with a prefix that refers to a type of paper.

Theme Answers

Hannah Slovut's USA Today crossword, "Endpaper," solution for 11/19/2021

Hannah Slovut’s USA Today crossword, “Endpaper,” solution for 11/19/2021

  • 16a [“Shaping service at a salon”] EYEBROW WAX / WALLPAPER
  • 25a [“Boundary you won’t compromise on”] LINE IN THE SAND / SANDPAPER
  • 54a [“Something a character might break”] FOURTH WALL / WALLPAPER

This was definitely a fun theme to work with, especially with LINE IN THE SAND and FOURTH WALL. There’s so much we as constructors and solvers can do with a FOURTH WALL in a puzzle (maybe I’m just riding the high of finishing BEQ’s “Going Too Far” from yesterday. I was a bit confused by the long answer in 25d [“Citrusy dessert topping”] LEMON GLAZE in thinking that perhaps it would tie into the theme. Glaze paper? Is that a thing yet? You could use it on donuts. But this is quickly ruined by 10d [“‘I’m not going to say it again’”] YOU HEARD ME, which is delightful but not part of the theme.

Grid-wise, I liked this stacked center section with my favorite little stairwells at caddy corner opposites. I also enjoyed how this was framed by both TASK and ANTE on one side and GLEE and OARS on the other, making for a slight concentration of black squares in rows 5 and 11.

Some Friday faves:

  • 48a [“Dish similar to sofkee”] – I’m not a big fan of GRITS, but I thought that the reference to sofkee or sofkey here was really nice. It refers to an Indigenous dish made by several tribes, including the Muscogee and the Cherokee. You can read more about it here.
  • 24d [“Title character with a ‘Declassified School Survival Guide’”] – I loved NED’s Declassified School Survival Guide when I was younger, so this was a real treat. GLEE in 44a [“TV show with Jenna Ushkowitz as Tina Cohen-Chang”] was slightly less fun to remember, but I love that Tina is the character highlighted here.
  • 46d [“JSTOR downloads”] – As a student and someone constantly filling up her computer with JSTOR PDFS, this was very fun to see. Doing research is fun!!

Anyway, fun puzzle for a Friday! Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on Sunday!

Ann Shan and Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “Something’s Fishy”—Jim P’s review

Our theme today consists of food items with sea critters in the name that aren’t actually SEAFOOD (38a, [Coastal fare, and what each starred clue’s answer surprisingly isn’t?]).

Universal crossword solution · “Something’s Fishy” · Ann Shan and Matthew Stock · Fri., 11.19.21

  • 17a. [*Light, airy dessert] SPONGE CAKE.
  • 24a. [*Chowder accompaniments] OYSTER CRACKERS. I always wondered why they were called that. Wikipedia says they were often served with oyster stew and they bear a physical similarity to the mollusk.
  • 50a. [*Frozen dessert with chocolate and pecans] TURTLE ICE CREAM. It’s vanilla ice cream with swirls of fudge and caramel, plus pecans. The name is derived from turtle candies which have similar ingredients and are shaped like turtles.
  • 62a. [*Small, sour fruits] CRAB APPLES. There are multiple theories for the word CRAB here. 1) It may be an alteration of the Swedish skrabba which means “fruit of the wild apple tree.” 2) Someone who’s crabby can be called “sour” as the crab apple is sour. 3) The branches of a crab apple tree resemble crab legs. I’d put my money on the first one.

This was a fun set with a fairly tight theme. Can you think of any other entries that fall into this category?

In the fill, I love the folksy “LOOKY HERE” and “SEE YA SOON.” “OH, POO” is another fun colloquialism; I like it, though it did come as a surprise. REGATTAS, SEQUENCES, DECRYPTS, END TABLES, YANKEE, and ALT FOLK are all assets to the grid.

I’m not so sure about I-BANKERS [Certain financial adviser, informally] though I expect the I is for “investment” and has nothing to do with Apple. And I’m on the fence re: “I’M A FAN.” It feels a little unnatural, but I’m also pretty sure I’ve heard it used before.

I have to question AREPAS [Colombian cornmeal treats]. I wouldn’t expect the average solver to know this. Why not just turn it into ARENAS, especially given there’s already a food theme going on? But let’s turn this into a learning opportunity, yeah? Per Wikipedia,

The arepa is a flat, round, unleavened patty of soaked, ground kernels of maize, or—more frequently nowadays—maize meal or maize flour that can be grilled, baked, fried, boiled or steamed. The characteristics vary by color, flavor, size, and the food with which it may be stuffed, depending on the region. Simple arepas are filled with butter or cheese and baked. More filling varieties can be topped or filled with combinations of ingredients like beans, meat, avocados, eggs, tomatoes, salad, shrimp, or fish depending on the meal.

Colombian AREPAS. Photo from

All right, I’m sold. This may require some first-hand gastronomic investigation.

Clues of note:

  • 37a. [Apt pronoun for Gabi Wilson]. HER. I’m old, so I didn’t recognize the name. She is known professionally as H.E.R.
  • 9d. [“Lookin’ forward to it!”]. “SEE YA SOON.” Those don’t quite equate in my mind. The clue is referring to an event with no expectation that the second person will or won’t be there.
  • 50d. [Pointers in the kitchen?]. TINES. Hmm. They’re pointy, but I don’t think that makes them pointers.

Overall, an enjoyable theme and puzzle. Four stars.

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

LAT • 11/19/21 • Fri • Wechsler • solution • 20211119

The letter F is appended to the beginnings of familiar phrases to wacky effect.

  • 19a. [Like one hiding contraband on his person?] FRISK-AVERSE (risk-averse).
  • 24a. [First-time hot-dog griller?] FRANK AMATEUR (rank amateur).
  • 44a. [Like designers of Halloween costumes?] FRIGHT-MINDED (fright-minded).
  • 55a. [Campus anti-hazing policy, basically?] FRAT CONTROL (rat control).

Nothing fancy here, no spelling alterations required. Theme would be stronger if the letter F was banished from all non-theme parts of the grid—which I suspect was intended—but there is one holdout, in the lower right at the crossing of FLA and FRAME (49a/49d). I don’t see a quick patch for it, so it would entail significant rework.

  • 3d [Harbor city of ancient Rome] OSTIA.
  • 10d [Toy since ancient times] PEKE. Fooled me, as I was thinking of KITE or YO-YO.
  • 11d [KLM hub letters] AMS, the standard international initialism for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
  • 20d [Ute relative] VAN. This one also fooled me; not the Native American group or their language.
  • 48a [Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” e.g.] GIRL. Huh, weird clue.

I guess it’s appropriate that the crossword ran on a Friday.

Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up

Liz Gorski’s November 19, 2021 New Yorker puzzle

Good morning! Today’s solving music was Adele’s new album, specifically “I Drink Wine.” I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed one of Liz’s puzzles for Fiend– she tends to do the trickier Mondays. This was a very sectioned off grid, with those NW and SE corners only connected to the rest of the puzzle by one entry. (The NW was the last to fall for me– I probably spent half of my time on that section.) Also, no entry in the grid was longer than nine letters– unusual for a themeless!

A lot of trivia / proper nouns that I didn’t know, like NORIEGA, LILY BART, RUSS Feinstein, John LECARRE. A bit of clunky fill, like AGIN (Opposite of “fer”) and NRC (Atomic-energy agcy.), but the central crossing entries (VERBAL HUG / LIKE A BOSS) were delightful, and I like clues that are tricky yet breezy, like [Writer’s tips?] for ERASERS or [“The Hobbit” characters] for RUNES.

Anne Marie Crinnion’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #25″—Rebecca’s review

Themeless debut puzzle today! Congrats Anne Marie!!

Inkubator, November 18, 2021, Anne Marie Crinnion, “Themeless #25” solution grid

This is my favorite kind of themeless puzzle. Plenty of fun fill in every area of the puzzle, held together by clean fill. SMACKEROO, ASROLOGY, PEDAL TO THE METAL SPACE WALK, ARMADILLO, CLAYMATION….all among my favs in this puzzle.

Favorite clues:

19-Across [Field of signs] for ASTROLOGY

35-Across [Floored, in a way] for PEDAL TO THE METAL

56-Across [Notable all-woman NASA event of 2019] for SPACE WALK

Here’s some BEE GEES to start your weekend off


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38 Responses to Friday, November 19, 2021

  1. pseudonym says:

    If you want to try something quite different, check out Tim Croce’s Wordominoes 11. Three sets of clues for across, down and boxed entries.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    Any difficulty from triple stacks often comes from the crosses

    This didn’t have much resistance, for better or worse, I found it rather easy to solve this Friday NYT. First two spanners took no time at all, so the top was zoom. I don’t speed solve, but this was Monday Tuesday time at my snail place. Still very enjoyable to see it fall

    Since this week be another “old” puzzle to some, I can see ETHNIC substituting for RACE in that phrase, not saying I did, awkward.

    Also, I won a case of RC in a radio call in contest as a kid, so that’s definitely old ,,,

    Woman tax is more inclusive than pink tax, how recent is that renaming?

  3. Rob says:

    NYT: I was off to the races with “Hotel California “ and never looked back. Great way to start my Friday!

  4. huda says:

    NYT: I must have been tired last night, because I didn’t get far, but it fell pretty easily this morning. Impressive construction and some great phrases.
    A nit about the clue Sheik’s peer: cute but not really! Two very different hierarchical systems, with Sheikh being Arabic and AGHA Turkish. I thought it would be Emir, but that didn’t fit.

  5. Me says:

    NYT: Thoughts on the crossing at “NEED” of NONEED and INEEDAHUGEFAVOR? I don’t remember seeing a word longer than two letters duplicated in the NYT before.

    • Bob says:

      Agree. I am good with an insignificant preposition like ON or IN being duplicated and crossing, but not a word like NEED. Sure I’ll get hate mail from all the people who like ON.

    • JML says:

      You must not have done the NYT’s Friday puzzle from 2 weeks ago (11/5/21), which included ONSTAR, STARDOM, and SUPERSTAR in a singular themeless puzzle

      • marciem says:

        I remember that one… also “lay OPEN” and “OPEN sea” BUT…

        none of them crossed each other, while the two mentioned today do in fact cross on the word “need”.

  6. Matthew S. says:

    Re: Universal, AREPAS are absolutely delicious and I will truly stop at nothing to put them in my puzzles (and SAP is marginally better than SAN, imo). Hope you get to try one soon!

    • Norah Sharpe says:

      Not sure who Jim P thinks is an “average solver” is in this case, but AREPAS are delicious.

      (I suspect he means me, though: a white, 40-year old, midwestern, american person)

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        I would further specify “and not living in a big city,” because I’m white and Midwestern and middle-aged but am surrounded by a wealth of restaurants serving cuisines of the world. The only question is: Venezuelan arepas or Salvadoran pupusas tonight? Salvadoran is a longer drive, fewer restaurants to choose from. But that Salvadoran joint where I lunched in D.C. a couple years ago was so amazing!

        • Norah Sharpe says:

          Amy, next time I’m in Your City, let’s get whatever kind of AREPAS you want.

          • Taylor says:

            All this talk of AREPAS has my stomach growling. I had my first one at a restaurant in Williamsburg called Caracas in 2014 and I’ve been on the hunt for the best one ever since. Here in Minneapolis we have a wonderful place called “Hola Arepa!” That fills my need when the craving strikes!

            • Amy Reynaldo says:

              Taylor, I just read a review of Owamni (in the Chicago Tribune, because Minneapolis is apparently the closest restaurant focusing on Indigenous foodways of North America). Please go there and report back!


          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Norah: Absolutely! Just as soon as this pandemic stops menacing me so.

            • Taylor says:

              Ohhh Owamni looks delicious! Just pulled it up on the map and it’s, like, a 5 minute drive from my house. Will definitely check this out ASAP and let you know how it is!

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          IMPORTANT UPDATE: Dinner from Rica Arepa was delicious! My Caribeña arepa was filled with sweet plantains and cheese, while my husband’s Boricua had shredded pork and cheese. The starter combination platter had a few kinds of treats focusing on cornmeal, plantains, and cheese. And the side of black beans (I needed some non-cheese protein) was also yummy.

  7. David L says:

    USA Today: LONGGRAINRICE/RICEpaper is also a themer. I’m fairly new to the USA Today puzzle, and don’t look at it everyday, but I have come to the conclusion that one of the rules is that every puzzle must have at least one food item involving a name that I suspect 99% of solvers will not know. Some puzzles have more. The crosses are almost always fair, but there does seem to be a strange foodie vibe.

    • malaika says:

      99% is a pretty high percentage! USA Today constructors work hard to make sure their crosses are fair, and I think it’s good to remember that even if you don’t know a certain term (totally fine and happens to us all!), that doesn’t mean that 99% of solvers have the same knowledge and background as you.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        It’s also worth noting that food is one of the most important parts of any culture, and that vibe of representation can be potent. Imagine you’ve got South American ancestry and you see AREPAS pop up in the puzzle, instead of the 500th AHI sushi clue or BRIE.

        And now I’m in the mood to order arepas for dinner tonight! We’ll try a newer place with better reviews than our usual. Gonna have to Google a lot of the arepa varieties!

      • David L says:

        Well, maybe I was exaggerating a little. And maybe the foods stand out to me because I am whatever the opposite of a foodie is.

        In any case, I’d rather have obscure food items than the parade of superheroes and characters from Star Wars and Harry Potter that show up so frequently in other crosswords.

    • Norah Sharpe says:

      Isn’t food one of the only things on this earth that’s truly “universal?” As for statistics, here are some that are not made up:

      1. domesticated rice is the most widely consumed staple food for over half of the world’s human population, or over 3.5 billion people
      2. rice is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize

      • malaika says:

        (My guess is that David’s comment was about “sofkee” rather than LONG GRAIN RICE. I also haven’t heard of “sofkee” but I wouldn’t then assume that 99% of solvers have exactly the same frame of reference that I do.)

        • David L says:

          Yes, it was ‘sofkee’ I meant — sorry that wasn’t clear. I know what long grain rice is; it’s rice with a longer grain than short grain rice. I think.

  8. marciem says:

    LAT: Me too trying kite and yoyo for the ancient toy, and wondering which in the world Native American group (other than the clue one UTE) was only three letters long :D :D .

  9. Philip says:

    Inkubator: Almost never cringe at the INKUBATOR but the jokey clue for HITANDRUN was awful. I was really surprised to see that one made it through the editorial process.

  10. sanfranman59 says:

    Amy … Your comment about men breaking into apartments kind of caught me off-guard. Just out of curiosity, what do you expect the 99% of men who don’t break into garden apartments (or anything else, for that matter) to do about the 1% of men who do?

    Disclaimer: I plucked the 99%/1% out of thin air and it may not be that high, but if it is, I’m guessing that it’s not too far off the mark.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Call them on any toxic bullshit from grade school on. Tell them it’s inappropriate when they say crude things about women. There are plenty of things that good men can do. Here’s just one of many sites outlining steps you can take if you want to be part of the solution rather than looking the other way:

      Just doing nothing doesn’t do anything at all to try to make things better. And yet that is exactly the choice many men make: To not make yourselves uncomfortable by challenging sexist crap. And so it is that girls and women have been told to do the same things “to prevent rape” for decades. Clearly that approach—leave women responsible for preventing men’s crimes against them—hasn’t done jack squat to eliminate rape.

      So yeah, sometimes women will point out to men just how pervasive it is. Being nervous about walking alone after dark. Locking car doors as soon as we’re in. Looking ahead, behind, and across the street, and being wary of any alleys or gangways you could get pulled into. If you add up the number of times a woman consciously thinks about these things or instinctively takes precautionary measures, it’s gotta be in the hundreds to thousands a year for women who go to work five days a week and go out socially sometimes. We don’t have the liberty to be “caught off-guard.”

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful response and for the link, Amy. Based on your initial comments, it seemed to me that you were blaming all men (and only men) for the actions of a few with regard to crimes against women and I reacted defensively. For the record, I do speak up when I encounter people making idiotic sexist, racist and ageist comments. I abhor the fact that women have to be more on guard when walking down the street than I do as a 6’3″ man (in spite of the fact that I was accosted by a maniac who held a knife an inch from my eye in the middle of a busy public plaza one beautiful Friday evening in San Francisco several years ago … why I’m alive to write this, I’ll never know). I just don’t think it’s right to hold all men (and only men) responsible for a problem that’s as complicated as this one is. It seems to me that most of us are pretty decent people who deplore crime and bullies, doing the best we can to get by in an all-too-frequently difficult and often painful world.

  11. stephen manion says:

    Jim P,

    Do you do the Spelling Bee? Some fabrics and rarely vocabulary words (NEPENTHE) are tough, but the most often difficult words are food-related:


  12. Brenda Rose says:

    I live in a garden apt. in NoCal & it’s divoon – a free standing cottage with a front yard for my flowers & backyard for my veggies. I remember when I lived in NYC about the kind of apt. you described but they didn’t call them garden apts. They were called subs. Indeed where ever you choose to live it is the matter of location. A sub on the upper East side was def better & safer than one on the Lower.

  13. Kevin Morrison says:

    Amy: you obviously feel strongly about the issue, and since it’s your blog you have an absolute right to say anything! As a regular, though, I’d personally be happier if we could keep the comments area confined to crosswords. I have to point out that the people who break into garden apartments probably don’t know or care whether the occupant is male or female; that calling such people from grade school onwards for any ‘toxic bullshit about women’ is unlikely to change their propensity to commit breaking and entering in later life, and that ‘challenging sexist crap’ is important to (and not tolerated by) many men. And many men will be equally nervous at night in ‘alleys and gangways you could get pulled in to’.

    Opportunism, rather than sexism, is the single most important reason that ‘garden apartments’ are subject to breaking and entering. Men’s attitudes to women are unlikely to have an effect on the problem, though bars on the windows may help.

    • pannonica says:

      This is equal parts missing the point and pedantry, which does not invalidate some of the observations therein. But I do wonder why you felt compelled to make this comment at all, as it doesn’t seem to advance the conversation in any way.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        It’s such a regular part of Fiend: commenters who are uncomfortable reading societal critiques and want us to “just stick to basketball,” so to speak.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The point that was indeed missed, Kevin, is that women are concerned about rape, not mere breaking and entering. Everyone can be nervous about getting mugged, but it’s far more common for women to get raped than men. It’s an extra layer of dread.

      Of course, a tremendous number of rapes aren’t committed by strangers breaking in or on the street. They’re friends, dates, acquaintances. Guys who grew up in a culture where frat boys might chant “no means yes, yes means anal,” who watched teen movies where a barely conscious girl was there for the taking (for my generation, it was “Sixteen Candles” most notably). Our entire society has been steeped in rape culture for so long,

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