Friday, March 25, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 8:01 (malaika) 


NYT 3:35 (Matthew) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today untimed (Darby) 


Allegra Kuney’s Inkubator crossword, “Inner Goddess”—Jenni’s writeup

This one is on the easier side for the Inkubator puzzles. Each theme answer contains the name of a goddess. The clue tells us who worships her and the circles tell us where to find her.

Inkubator, March 25, 2022, Allegra Kuney, “Inner Goddesses,” solution grid

  • 20a [Refuge for some strays (Norse)] is an ANIMAL SHELTER. I did not know HEL, which isn’t too surprising since everything I know about Norse mythology I learned from Marvel movies. According to Wikipedia, she might be the daughter of Loki, or maybe not. That Wikipedia article also tells me that a) there is an Icelandic Naming Commission and b) said Commission ruled in 2017 that parents may not name their child Hel because “on the grounds that the name would cause the child significant distress and trouble as it grows up”. 
  • 35a [Psychoanalytic modality based on creative self-expression (Greek)] is ART THERAPY.
  • 43a [Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard, some say (Hindu)] is LOOKALIKES. Indeed.

Howard on the L. I think.

  • 59a [Grammy-winning Childish Gambino track of 2018 (Egyptian)] is THIS IS AMERICA.

Four goddesses, four solid straightforward theme answers. A tight, accessible theme.

A few other things:

  • NY pizza is the best pizza and I always BLOT it.
  • How long do you take the pulse before you calculate the HEART RATE? I do 15 seconds. The pulse may not accurately indicate the HEART RATE because there may. be non-transmitted/non-contractile beats. The clue is still perfectly fine. I just can’t help myself.
  • I remember when my father bought his first STEREO sound system. #amold
  • To me, SCRIP is what you use instead of money at an amusement park and SCRIPT is what you put on an Rx.
  • 67a [Top ingredients in Hollandaise and what Hollandaise often tops] is a cute clue for EGGS.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: HEL. I also didn’t know that CHER sang “Fernando” in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and I’ve never heard of Yvonne ORJI.

Chase Dittrich and Jeff Chen’s Universal crossword, “Obscure Musical Acts”—Jim P’s review

I was expecting a revealer of “NO BS” or something similar. Instead we get the surprising COVER BANDS (58a, [Tribute groups, or a four-part hint to the starred clues’ answers]). The “four-part hint” is revealed when you re-parse the phrase as COVER B AND S. In other words, ignore those two letters (or cover them with your thumb, perhaps) to make sense of the second half of each theme clue and the crossing Downs.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to the themers.

Universal crossword solution · “Obscure Musical Acts” · Chase Dittrich and Jeff Chen · Fri., 3.25.22

  • 17a. [Often-braised meat dish –> *On the ___ (fleeing) + Actor in “Big” and “Forrest Gump”] LAMB SHANKS. The first half of the clue is satisfied by the entry as written. But the second half consists of LAM + HANKS. Thus, we’re to infer that we ignore the BS in the second half. Similarly, we ignore them in crossing REBEL [*Fishing spool] and SMILE [*Four laps on a track, say]. Note that these entries are still valid crossword words even with the B and S.
  • 25a. [Graveyard sight –> *Male cat + Sound quality] TOMBSTONE = TOM + (BS) + TONE with crossers BRIDGE AND TSAR.
  • 50a. [Some pickup spots –> *Mean dog + March 15, e.g.] CURBSIDES = CUR + (BS) + IDES with crossers VOCAB LIST and HISS. I like that VOCAB LIST/VOCALIST find.

Pretty nifty, yeah? Despite all the moving parts, it wasn’t too difficult to grok and it kept my interest throughout. Like I said, the revealer was surprising, but made sense once I broke it apart. Even the title needed an aha moment, requiring me to re-read it with “obscure” as a verb, not an adjective. Impressively put together all around.

With all that theme going on, there’s not a lot of room for extra sparkle, but GREAT IDEA is top notch. I also liked GOALIE, LUPITA Nyong’o, and JET LI. Everything else is fairly standard, but pleasantly crud-free. I even spotted my Wordle starting word at 15a.

Clues of note:

  • 1d. [Bird that flies silently]. OWL. Is this a feature particular to owls? Because I would think most birds are fairly quiet when they fly. Obviously owls are predators, but so are a great many other birds.
  • 56d. [Aircraft carrier?]. TRAY. You mean the seatback TRAY? Calling it a carrier is a bit of a stretch.

I found the theme satisfyingly meaty but still accessible. The smooth fill only adds to the overall experience. Four stars.

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

LAT • 3/25/22 • Fri • Wechsler • solution • 20220325

The revealer spells it out.

  • 49aR [Classic Looney Tunes tagline offering some “direction” in solving the starred clues] WHAT’S UP, DOC. Accordingly, that trigram appears in each of those answers, but heads northward in each case.
  • 17a. [*Guide for Smithsonian visitors, say] MUSEUM DOCENT.
    9d. [Indulge] CODDLE.
  • 22a. [*Ken Burns specialty] DOCUMENTARY FILM.
    16d. [Eccentric old guys] CODGERS.
  • 42a. [*Southeast Asian colonial region dismantled in 1954] FRENCH INDOCHINA.
    39d. [Fish-and-chips dish] COD.

I really enjoyed this theme. Not world-shatteringly new, but fresh enough and very competently executed.

  • 4d [What a siren does] TEMPTS. 54a [Pro using a siren, perhaps] EMT.
  • 25d [The Alamo, e.g.] FORT. 29d [Starting point of many modern missions] LAUNCH PAD.
  • 38d [First Amendment concern] PRESS. As in, Freedom of. The founders knew how vital a free and functional press is to democracy.
  • 1a [Earth, for one] ORB. 45a [Earth’s volume?] ATLAS. 57a [Earth opening?] GEO.
  • 4a [Dred Scott decision Chief Justice] TANEY.
  • 13a [Two-digit sign] VEE. As in fingers.
  • 38a [Volcanic eruption sight] PLUME. I tried SPUME first.

Okay, regular readers will know that in my write-ups I tend to make a habit of collecting and reporting similarly-worded or otherwise aligned clues/answers—I’ve done so today as well. BUT, this crossword was so full of them it would have been weird to enumerate them all, or even most. So as shorthand I will limn some more here: 5d/52a ACURA/Legends; 7d/31a Combat/WAR; 7d/34a LINE/Line; 39d/41d chips/Chips; 46d/50d Brutus/Brutus. So, was I targeted?

  • 31d [Unsettling] WORRISOME.

Evans Clinchy’s New York Times crossword—Matthew’s writeup

Evans Clinchy’s New York Times crossword solution, 3/15/2022

Matt here, filling in for Amy for the next two Fridays.

Neat grid from Evans Clinchy today, little more segmented in the middle than we’d typically see in a NYT themeless, but in large part due to 15s in the top and bottom connected by QUICK QUESTION [“I just need to know this one thing …”] running right down the middle of the grid.

I quite liked the clues in particular for the long stuff – I’ve already mentioned 16d, but there’s a diversity of voice in the clues, from the academic [15a- Adage attributed to Virgil’s “Eclogue X”] for LOVE CONQUERS ALL, to the glib [64a- Conceitedly dogmatic] for OVEROPINIONATED, to the mild editorializing of [17a- Not be completely open with everyone, to put it mildly] for LEAD A DOUBLE LIFE. I’m noticing strong, imagery-rich clues more often lately, across all puzzles, and while it’s probably just me rather than a sea change from editors and constructors, I like it all the same.

I had mixed experiences to the other clues in this one – lots of stuff where I saw the misdirection coming, and something in each corner that I couldn’t sort out for a good bit. [44d Something that’s thrown out while using it] ANCHOR was delightful to figure out, while I’m a little less certain about [66a What father knows best?] for PRAYERS. I get the angle, but I would like “Father” to be capitalized here. Altogether, though, a nice challenge to start the weekend!


  • 27a [Where to see license plates that say “Greatest Snow on Earth”] UTAH. I haven’t seen these – only the ones with the Delicate Arch on them. But it was unlikely to be OHIO or IOWA even before getting a crossing.
  • 31a [Alternative to an autocamp] MOTEL. AutoCamp is a new word for me, though I know the concept and figured out the entry in time.
  • 48d [Key of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”] A MINOR. I think this may be the first piece of music I know the key for without any help, thanks entirely to crossword puzzles. Inefficient way to learn that specific piece of info, but I learned it all the same!

Hoang-Kim Vu & Angela Pai’s USA Today crossword, “At the Present Moment”—Darby’s writeup

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each theme answer begins with a word that is a step in the gift-giving process. They are in chronological order, moving from buying, wrapping, to giving, and then to opening.

Theme Answers

Hoang-Kim Vu & Angela Pai's USA Today crossword, "At the Present Moment" solution for 3/25/2022

Hoang-Kim Vu & Angela Pai’s USA Today crossword, “At the Present Moment” solution for 3/25/2022

  • 17a [“Ask for an extension, for example”] BUY SOME TIME
  • 29a [“Garment that became a feminist symbol”] WRAP DRESS
  • 44a [“Quick one-two play in sports”] GIVE AND GO
  • 57a [“Writings of protest”] OPEN LETTERS

What an awesome theme! I love that these are in order so that we get a full image of the moments of gift-giving. Four theme answers fitting in order like this is such a feat, especially given how open the rest of the grid is. I fill in BUY SOME TIME and then worked somewhat insularly through everything else, so it wasn’t until I was finished that I noticed the theme, which I at first thought might have more to do with TIME based on that first answer. This quickly changed when I looked more holistically at the theme answers.

Some Friday faves:

  • 27a [“Capital where bun cha originated”] – Bun cha are Vietnamese meatballs that come out of HANOI. They look absolutely delicious , and this recipe will make your mouth water, so open with caution (but seriously do it). HANOI was also one of several geography answers, such as LIMA, MALAWI, and LAOS.
  • 48a [“Predecessor of Apple Music”] – Weren’t times of trying to get your iPod to sync with ITUNES so much simpler? RIP ITUNES.
  • 12d [“The ___ of Life (Chinese cooking blog)”] – While I was unfamiliar with this blog before, my pun brain quickly came to the rescue, and I can guarantee that I will be grinning and spending a lot of time on The WOKS of Life from now on. Also, this blog, with bun cha, has only added to my morning hunger, with other food-related mentions of AHI tuna, MEATLOAF, NAAN, RISOTTO, and EARs of corn.

A great puzzle that has left me starving but delighted! Also – this is Angela Pai’s debut!! What an awesome puzzle to kick it off with; I can’t wait to see more!

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

Good morning, everyone!

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker puzzle


Entries that I didn’t like: I’ve never heard of LAIC and I’ve only heard of LIEN from puzzles. Them crossing is tough. I always prefer seeing DESI clued in reference to the Indian diaspora, but that’s just me.

Clues I liked: [One hired to improve a boxer’s performance] for DOG TRAINER and [What may help with bed-wetting?] for GARDEN HOSE. The clue for OEDIPUS, [Jocasta’s son… and husband], is one of my favorite types. I read it and thought “Jocasta? Who on Earth is that. This clue is impossible, I’ll get it from crossings” and then as the letters fell into place I realized.

Things I want to talk about:

  • At work, I write code, and I frequently get notified by an Automated Code Checker that what I have written is ERROR PRONE. So now I hate that term!! Aarrrghhhh.
  • I totally would not have guessed A CHORUS LINE was the longest-running musical and… Wikipedia seems to agree with me? It has it seventh, with Phantom first for Broadway musicals. Am I missing something?
  • This puzzle writes “Fight for Fifteen” but I usually see it stylized as “Fight for $15.” Maybe they thought the dollar sign would give away minimum WAGE? This movement started in 2012– $15 of 2012 money is equivalent to $19 of 2022 money…. and we still haven’t even passed this at a federal level. Any law that lists a number for minimum wage rather than a formula that takes into account inflation, housing prices, gas prices, and the poverty line, is a poorly written law, in my opinion.
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26 Responses to Friday, March 25, 2022

  1. john morgan says:

    “Quick question” on the NYT puzzle ;-)

    Can it not be fully valid with the 27D 31A pairing of UHS and HOTEL? I get that motel is probably a better answer for the clue, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong: UH is a perfectly valid speaker’s hesitation, and HOTEL is a valid alternative to an autocamp…so I am a little disappointed with this one.

    • Mutman says:

      LOL. I thought my mistake was at the ENOS/NISI crossing and tried every consonant. I finally punted, revealed and had the same UHS. They should have clued the across as ___ 6, IMO. Less ambiguity.

    • David L says:

      In the puzzle’s defense, the clue is ‘alternative to an autocamp’ — whatever an autocamp is — so you are supposed to come up with something specific to motor cars, therefore motel rather than hotel.

      But I agree it’s an ugly spot in an otherwise nice puzzle.

    • BryanF says:

      I left the H/M option at that crossing as my last square to fill in because I felt it could be either and didn’t want it to trip me in case I had chosen wrong and I had to go hunting for errors. Though I do agree that MOTEL is more alined with “autocamp” as David points out, so the “M” was my first option to try and scored the completion.

    • Patrick M says:

      I think Jeff Chen needs to add this one to xwordinfo’s list of Schrodinger puzzles.

  2. steve says:

    LAT: sel for sal??

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT (OT): Pardon my French, but I say eff Apple Music. First off, as will probably become completely clear to you shortly (OK Boomer), I’m thoroughly confused about how one purchases and plays music in this day and age. How the heck do I listen to what I want, when I want? I know that if I pay for a monthly music service, I can ask Alexa to play a particular song and, assuming that song is in the catalog of the music service to which I subscribe, it’ll play. But how do I decide which service I should to subscribe to? And what if I want to listen to an album from start to finish and not just one particular cut? I listen to a lot of classical music and have my own personally curated library of specific recordings on disc that I now can’t play because iTunes is apparently no longer a music app. If there’s some way to get Alexa to play the music that I’ve accumulated over the years, I’ve not been able to figure it out and finally just threw up my hands and gave up.

    Here’s the thing … I spent many, many years giving Apple thousands of dollars for downloaded music because (a) CDs seemed to be moving toward obsolescence and (b) I believe that artists should be given fair compensation for their work (i.e. I shouldn’t just get it for free, even though I think I could have from what others have told me). One day not so long ago, I opened iTunes on my computer and suddenly, I couldn’t find any of my music there. If I recall correctly, I think all I could get was podcasts (really?!?!). Now, I’ve got all of this music on my computer, but to my understanding of how this works, it’s almost entirely in a proprietary format that would only play in the iTunes app. So, now I have no way to play it. Apple really thinks I’m going to give them more money for another service?!?!? WTF?!? [End of rant … you may now return to your regularly scheduled crossword programming]

    • pannonica says:

      If it’s any consolation, I’m an Xer and I pay for no streaming services.

      • PJ says:

        This Boomer doesn’t, either.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        The worst part of this story is that while I diligently took the time to burn all of the music that I downloaded over the years to CD as a back-up, when I moved across the country two years ago, I gave away or tossed out just about everything I owned. Unfortunately, that included my CD and record collections (as well as my stereo equipment). I virtually never played CDs or records anyway and assumed that I didn’t need them any longer since I had everything on my computer and backed up to the cloud. When I wanted to listen to music, I could always just play it from my computer, right? So much for that idea. Getting rid of my “hard-copy” music collection (literally, thousands of CDs and vinyl records) is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve been a musicophile all of my life. Now, I only rarely listen and only know how to stream stuff chosen by other people from web sites. It’s like I’m back in 1969 again. I don’t have my own record player or tape deck and my only sources of music are the radio and my parents record and cassette tape collections (which were actually pretty good). Thanks Apple.

    • Billy Boy says:

      When you pay for streaming music, you get a lot of “We think you’ll like THIS”.

      Why no, I really don’t, sorry.

      CD’s stack nicely on spindles, files are easy to copy and play in other non-Apple apps.

      So, I don’t pay for streaming.

      I am a privileged, old white man.

      Classical, Opera, ‘rock’ alt, ska. rap. hip-hop – it’s in there. CD’s are often the cheapest form at and you mostly get an auto-rip with it, sucka.

    • Gary R says:

      I don’t know much about Apple products or services (I’m a PC guy), but it seems unlikely that Apple would actually make your entire music library unusable – gotta believe there’s a way to convert files or play with a different program/app or something.

      Google took me here:

      Maybe of some help.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      iTunes for PC still exists – I’ve been using it all day. The change away from it was only for Apple devices.

    • Lester says:

      I don’t understand. I have iTunes on my computer, with 134 GB of music stored on an external hard drive, and it all works just fine. I just bought an album from the iTunes Store last week, and it downloaded to my hard drive the same way as always. I bought an iPhone with lots of hard drive capacity so that I could store lots of music on it, then loaded it up (27,741 songs) from the computer, and the phone’s music player app (is it not iTunes?) plays the music. The phone connects by Bluetooth to my car stereo, so I can listen to “what I want, when I want” there, too.

      I unloaded almost all of my CDs and albums, too, so if this rig stops working, I’ll be screwed.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Mea culpa … Good grief! I’ve needlessly been doing without access to my recorded music collection since last summer because I thought iTunes had turned into a pumpkin. After seeing the comments here, I decided to try it again and discovered that there must have been some problem with the installation of the version of iTunes I installed when I purchased this laptop at around the same time that Apple transitioned to Apple Music. I just reinstalled it and everything seems to be back in order.

      Yeesh! What an idiot! Sorry for my ranting today.

      • Gary R says:

        Glad you got your music back!

      • Eric H says:

        I’m glad you got your music back. I know I’d hate to lose my collection.

        When we moved to our current house, I got rid of a lot of vinyl that I knew we wouldn’t have room for. Of course, I’m too lazy to actually dig out the vinyl I kept. Hell, I rarely listen to the hundreds of CD’s I still have.

  4. Vega says:

    I agree that clues across the board seem more imagery-rich and evocative these days. I don’t think it’s just your imagination. Might that be because of the host of younger indie constructors bursting onto the scene lately? Regardless, I am here for it. So fun and refreshing.

  5. Mary A says:

    NYT, 42D: “Cleared one’s cookies?”

    Does anyone else think this is a rather lame clue? I get the double meaning, but I have never heard that phrase used specifically for eating cookies. I don’t think the punning in the clue is strong. Explain to me, please, why I am wrong.

    • Jay says:

      I don’t disagree with you about the clue. I will ask you to think about the word “lame.” I know it’s widely used. It’s still ableist and we generally try to avoid that around here.

      • Mary A says:

        I am sorry if I offended anyone; that was not my intent. I will reconsider my use of that word in that context.

Comments are closed.