Friday, March 18, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 5:24 (malaika) 


NYT 6:30 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 5:19 (Darby) 


Claire Rimkus & Brooke Husic’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 18 22, no. 0318

A distinctly tough-Saturday sort of solving time, and I don’t know if it’s from the ergonomics of solving on laptop on my lap or if it felt hard to you all. I didn’t think it felt harder than a standard Friday, so I don’t get it.

My favorite bit was seeing JOSE clued as 32d. [Filipino national hero ___ Rizal]. Not only is there a bust of him in front of the neighborhood Filipino community center by me, not only is there a monument to him overlooking Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive, but my in-laws are Filipino so of course I’ve known the name for decades. Read up if you don’t know his story.


Four more things:

  • 24a. [De segunda ___ (secondhand: Sp.)], MANO. Didn’t know the phrase but segunda = second and hand, rather familiarly, is MANO.
  • 28a. [Attractively bold self-assurance, casually], SWAG. Etymologically, it’s a clipping of swagger, and the word has been around for over a decade.
  • 30a. [___ Bryant, 20th-century singer/civil rights activist], JOYCE. Wow, I had never heard of her. I appreciated the opportunity to learn a bit about this jazz and opera singer.
  • 48d. [Music/comedy duo Garfunkel and ___], OATES. I have not partaken of their creations, but appreciate the melding of Simon & Garfunkel and Hall & Oates, ditching the showier (Paul) Simon and (Daryl) Hall.

4.25 stars from me, a fun one.

Hanh Huynh’s Universal crossword, “Fellow Creatures”—Jim P’s review

ANIMAL / CROSSING was the distraction the world needed right when the pandemic hit. The franchise has been around for 21 years, but it was the pandemic that brought new audiences to the game and made it a household name even in non-Nintendo circles.

There have been a few ANIMAL CROSSING themed puzzles in the last two years, all with a little bit of a different take. In this one, the crossing entries aren’t obviously animals (based on their clues), but each entry is one letter short of the amount of squares in the grid. It’s that missing letter that turns both crossing entries into animals. Then, once you’ve supplied all the missing letters, they collectively spell out another animal.

The clue for the revealer at 40a is [With 44-Across, Nintendo series hinting at the letters where the starred clues’ answers intersect (Bonus: Read these letters clockwise)].

Universal crossword solution · “Fellow Creatures” · Hanh Huynh · Day, Date

  • 16a [*Humorously exaggerated] CLOWN(F)ISH crossing 17d [*Foot division] (F)INCH.
  • 18a [*Stockings] HO(R)SE crossing 10d [*Spending limit] CA(R)P.
  • 68a [*Artist’s inspiration] M(O)USE crossing 47d [*Prevent from escaping] SEAL I(O)N.
  • 54a [*Seating level] TI(G)ER crossing 56d [*Cereal grain] (G)OAT.

This is quite impressive and a lot of fun for someone who is (still) a fan of the game (like me). It’s a simple theme, yet not entirely obvious at the start. Once you catch on though, trying to find and identify the animals still led to some fun surprises. Simple, yet elegant.

I will admit to feeling a little bit let down at the bonus FROG. I don’t know what I was expecting the crossings to spell, but a random animal just seemed a little odd. I guess I wanted something more meta. Still, with a theme this tight, I have no complaints.

Note that you can have a frog neighbor in the game but you can also catch a frog with a fishing pole…which is a little awkward. Best not to talk about it.

Since the theme entries aren’t placed symmetrically in the grid, the long fill answers are a bit scattershot. We have SPOILER, INGRAINED, UNWRAPS, MOMENTS, and MEN’S SHOP (which sounds a little weird to me). Not overly sparkly, but solid enough.

Clues of note:

  • 24a. [Slowpoke]. SNAIL. Clued as a metaphor for a human, not as a critter, which by the way, you can also catch in the game (on rainy days).
  • 25d. [Contents of many museums]. ART. There’s also a museum in the game and you can purchase famous works of ART and donate them to fill it up. Just watch out for forgeries!
  • 30d. [Caboose’s vehicle]. TRAIN. Sadly, cabooses are becoming a thing of the past. Also, I am pro-“cabeese” as the plural of caboose.

Fun puzzle, even if you’re not a fan of the game. Four stars.

Jamey Smith’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/18/22 • Fri • Smith • solution • 20220318

This one could have been titled something like “The Art of the Pun”. The idea is simply familiar phrases punned to include the surname of a famous painter.

  • 17a. [Spanish artist’s portrait of an American president?] DALÍ MADISON (Dolley Madison, who was in fact President James Madison’s wife).
  • 31a. [Swiss artist’s painting of a bird?] KLEE PIGEON (clay pigeon).
  • 37a. [American artist’s condiment rendering?] SARGENT PEPPER (Sergeant Pepper). More realistically it would be the vegetable, a bell pepper, but that’s definitely trickier to clue succinctly.
  • 45a. [American pop artist’s drawing of an ulna?] HARING BONE (herringbone).
  • 61a. [Mexican artist’s poinsettia painting?] KAHLO FLOWER (cauliflower). Oh, she’s painted some of those, and is strongly associated with flowers.

Tally is four men, one woman; three from the Americas (including two from the US), two from Europe. There could have been some more variety here.

Frida Kahlo | Still Life with Roses (1925)

  • 1d [ __ joke] DAD. Frequently involving groanworthy puns.
  • 13d [Turn recklessly] CAREEN. Not to be confused with CAREER.
  • 30d [Bond holding?] MARTINI, vodka MARTINI.
  • 35d [Commercial letters after Bug or Weed] B-GON. 44d [Park__: airport facility] -N-GO. 34a [Do well on the test] GET A B.

~not John Singer Sargent~
Maceo Mitchell | Peppers (1995)

  • 64d [Half a mammal?] EMS. Three of the word’s six letters.

Hmm, can’t find anything else to highlight, so let’s have another painting.

Paul Klee | Falling Bird (1919)

Kate Chin Park’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #29″—Jenni’s writeup

I agree with the Inkubator team that this is a challenging puzzle. It felt like a Friday NYT to me. The content is what I’ve come to expect from the Inkubator: fresh, current, less male-inflected than most major outlets. I enjoyed it all except for one quibble. EXPONENTIATE? Really? It was inferrable and the crossings were fair but really?

OK, on to the good stuff.

Inkubator, 3/17/2022, Kate Chin Park, “Themeless #29,” solution grid

  • SPRIGHTLY is a fun word.
  • 8d [Leave in tatters] is LAY WASTE TO. This is certainly correct but sounded a little – off. I think of “tatters” as cloth or clothing and LAY WASTE TO as referring to cities or buildings. I’m not arguing with it – I guess it’s felt like a bit of a misdirection to me, which is totally fair in a chewy puzzle.
  • I don’t speak Spanish, so I dropped TAPAS in for [ ___ de canasta (street food in a basket)] and then was not happy that [Stuff on a pet owner’s pants, maybe] appeared to be PET HAIR. Of course it wasn’t. It’s TACOS and CAT HAIR. Mmm. Tacos.
  • 33a [Puss with a prodigious physique, perhaps] is an amusingly alliterative clue for CHONKSTER. I know this word because I follow Round Boys on Instagram.
  • 38d [Time for a comeback?] is CURFEW. I never had one and never imposed one on my kid, although we did expect her to comply with the state-mandated curfew for the first year she had her driver’s license.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that LIZZO said (or sang) that she “will never ever ever ever ever be your side chick.” Of course she did.

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker puzzle

Good morning, everyone! I loved this puzzle, with so many good long entries. My faves (there were lots of them…) were NAIL ART, PENDULUM, TIME SUCK, THE BIG EASY, LESSER EVIL, OREGON TRAIL, DUST BUNNIES, SAY CHEESE, and HOUSE WINE.

Some of the short fill might have been tricker– I knew ESAU, CELSAABS, and TCM exclusively from solving crossword puzzles.

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword, “Sport Shorts”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each of the theme answers begins with a short version of a sport name.

Theme Answers

Erik Agard's USA Today crossword, "Sport Shorts" solution grid for 3/18/2022

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword, “Sport Shorts” solution for 3/18/2022

  • 19a [“Advantage in pulling off a heist”] LAX SECURITY / Lacrosse
  • 36a [“Door knockers, for example”] HOOP EARRINGS / Basketball
  • 54a [“One-piece sleepwear”] FOOTIE PAJAMAS / Australian Rules Football

I loved the theme answers on their own in this puzzle. As a fan of heist films, I had a nice chuckle when it came to LAX SECURITY. I feel like I’ve seen FOOTIE PAJAMAS before, though perhaps not as a themer, but I love it as such a silly term (I wonder how many people solve their morning puzzles in their FOOTIE PAJAMAS). However, I think that this was also the most confusing of the theme. I thought it at first referred to European soccer/football, but when I googled it, I saw that Australian Rules Football, which is a hybrid of rugby and soccer, is spelled “footy” rather than the -ie added here. This game looks kind of wild though, so I would absolutely recommend checking out this page from an American team to learn more about the sport.

Some Friday faves for y’all:

  • 27d [“Excessive”] – It’s somewhat ironic that OVER THE TOP is literally blocked by black squares from entering the topmost portion of the grid. In this asymmetrical puzzle, it is the longest Down answer, and, despite its length, it is clued so simply and successfully.
  • 35d [“The Feast of Sacrifice”] – In crosswords, I’ve mostly seen references to Eid al-Fitr, which ends Ramadan, so I wasn’t as familiar with EID AL-ADHA, though as I was learning about it to write this, I discovered that it was referenced in Syed Mahmood’s The Bad Muslim Discount, which I definitely recommend. Eid’s themselves are celebration festivals, and EID AL-ADHA celebrates the completion of the annual Hajj during the time of Qurbani (sacrifice). It is called the festival of sacrifice because it remembers the Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah in his willingness to sacrifice his son where Allah replaced his son with a ram. You can learn more about this here.
  • 53d [“Bird also known as migizi”] – The EAGLE is also known in Anishinaabe teachings as migizi. You can learn more about this teaching here from the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

There’s so much great stuff to learn from this puzzle, and its crossings make it easy to do so! Definitely would recommend.

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10 Responses to Friday, March 18, 2022

  1. Rachel Fabi says:

    Just wanted to note that, in addition to this fantastic NYT collaboration, Claire and Brooke also co-edited These Puzzles Fund Abortion with me, and it’s available (for a donation) here:


  2. Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

    I assumed FROG was the bonus in the Universal, because it could hop out of the grid to make the clues work.

  3. Mary Flaminio says:

    Anyone having trouble with The Week crossword. Can’t print it even with the printable version. Thanks. Mary

  4. David L says:

    Definitely a harder than usual Friday NYT for me. Nothing particularly tricky, but what with the foreign words and lots of names and phrases that didn’t come immediately to my mind, it was slow progress for me throughout. Elegant puzzle overall.

    Nitpickery: Is VALVE really the equivalent of key, for a trumpet? If we’re thinking of piano keys, then the pistons would be the closest comparison, I think.

    • marciem says:

      any picture I can find of trumpet parts calls the things you push down (like piano keys) VALVES (or finger buttons.) I’m not a musician, however.

      for example:

      • David L says:

        I’m no musician either — but for whatever reason I think of the valve as the entire assembly while the thing you push down is the piston. Of course, I could be confusing it with car engines…

    • R says:

      I played brass instruments for many years. Keys and VALVEs are interchangeable for playing, though VALVEs is more common when you’re taking it apart to do maintenance.

  5. pannonica says:

    Universal: “I will admit to feeling a little bit let down at the bonus FROG. I don’t know what I was expecting the crossings to spell, but a random animal just seemed a little odd. I guess I wanted something more meta.”

    I immediately was put in mind of the classic and iconic video game Frogger, in which the protagonist is a frog who must cross busy highways by avoiding vehicles and rivers by leaping onto logs and such. So, definitely a meta click for me.

  6. janie says:

    when worlds collide — yay! pannonica — thx for posting (the amazing) maceo mitchell’s peppers in your lat review. am currently taking pastel classes w/ him on saturday afternoons. *what* a master of the medium!!


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