Friday, April 8, 2022

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (tbd) 


NYT 7:26 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 6:46 (Darby) 


Inkubator Crosswords book cover

Book announcement! Inkubator Crosswords: 100 Audacious Puzzles by Women and Nonbinary Creators is publishing on April 26 and available for preorder. Crosswords at all levels, themed and themeless, some cryptics and metas. There are 25 brand-new puzzles along with 75 puzzles from the Inkubator’s first two years. More info here.

Caitlin Reid’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

Hello! It’s me. I had back surgery two weeks ago after a hideous 15 months with sciatica, and I am so grateful (a) that there was a COVID lull so that elective surgeries could take place, (b) that I got the Evusheld shots (prophylactic monoclonals for people in whom COVID vaccines are ineffective or contraindicated) to receive antibodies against COVID so I wouldn’t be too terrified to be hospitalized, (c) that I have great insurance, and (d) that I’ve had nary a hint of sciatica since surgery and am healing up nicely. Big thanks to everyone on Team Fiend who kept the puzzle fires burning in my absence.

NY Times crossword solution, 4 8 22, no. 0408

Apparently the teeny number of crosswords I’ve done in the past couple weeks didn’t help my speed one whit. I really don’t think this is a hard Saturday puzzle! It’s a good Friday puzzle, and I just need to recalibrate myself.

Fave fill: CAME CLEAN, MATHLETE (raise your hand if you were on the Mathletes team!), SCORPIO, pretty SUNSETS (why did I try STREETS first? Sure, sure, Monet loved painting… streets), OPTICAL ILLUSION, RETWEET, NUDE SCENE, MASERATI, ART DECO, “GET REAL,” CHATS UP, SIREN SONG, HOSTA.

Seven more things:

  • 1a. [Setting for “A Few Good Men,” informally], GITMO. Aka Guantanamo Bay, in the news recently because an Algerian man who was cleared of all terrorism charges in 2008 was finally sent home after two decades detained at Gitmo.
  • 9a. [Frustrated outburst], GAH. I filled in GRR first but the crossings weren’t panning out. I love GAH! I use GAH! More in writing than in speech, but not infrequently at all.
  • 16a. [That’s the spirit!], GHOST. Cute clue!
  • 53a. [A bunch of crock?], POTS. As in crockery, as in ceramic pots. I am so excited that season 5 of The Great Pottery Throw Down is coming to HBO Max next week! If you like The Great British Bake Off/Baking Show, you’ll love Throw Down. It’s charming British contestants from all around the British Isles (and, indeed, from around the world) with their distinctive regional accents. As on GBBO, they must combine art and science to make their creations, only the ovens are much hotter and if you eat the results, you’ll break a tooth.
  • 3d. [Safety net?], TWO POINTS. As in “in NFL games, a safety will net the team two points.”
  • 8d. [Pacific Coast capital], LIMA. It’s near the coast, but not precisely on the coast. #factcheck (Full disclosure: At work, our fact-checker, Jon Delfin, called us on it when we had a similar clue. Live and learn!)
  • 49d. [Toddler’s eruption], MOLAR. Great clue. You’re thinking tantrums rather than the eruption of those baby molars.

Four stars from me. Remind me to come back tomorrow to blog the Saturday NYT. I’m out of the habit!

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

LAT • 4/8/22 • Fri • Wechsler • solution • 20220408

Always a minefield, themes that rely on pronunciations. In this case, only half of the four answers work for me.

Theme is a terminal I added to words in phrases, to make them wacki. Also, since each of the theme answers is of different length, a bilateral symmetry was created rather than the usual rotational symmetry.

  • 17a. [Field worker having pastrami on rye?] FARMER IN THE DELI ({The} Farmer in the Dell).✅
  • 27a. [Prominent part of a Tex-Mex chain’s logo?] THE BIG CHILI (The Big Chill). ✅
  • 49a. [Indonesian dive bar?] BALI JOINT (ball joint). ❌
  • 51a. [Memory of the 1996 Olympic flame lighting?] ALI IN YOUR MIND (all in your mind). ❌

So, a mixed reception from me.

nb: See comments section for a superior interpretation of the theme.

  • 51-across, to me, is echoed by 34d [Came down] ALIT. Also, the Olympic gods were always described as descending from their namesake mountain.
  • 1d [Passel] was an insta-get for RAFT. Perfect word choice in the clue. Unfortunately, my instinct was not as good for 2d [Besides, with “from”] APART—I went with ASIDE, completely glossing the duplication that entails.
  • And for 3d I had the right idea but the wrong formulation: [Job field that embraces seniority] GERIATRICS. My attempts focused on the discipline of GERONTOLOGY, which is too long by one letter.
  • 13d [Cut] SNIP? TRIM? SLIT!
  • 25d [Refuse craft] SCOW. Had I seen this first, I might not have been so quick to enter RAFT at 1-down. Not actually a duplication, more like a sight-rhyme analogue of one.
  • 37d [1963 film that was a 1991 Horror Hall of Fame inductee] THE BIRDS. Went with THE RAVEN first!
  • 43d [Keurig Dr Pepper brand] BAI. Have never heard of this. Is it Dr Pepper-flavored coffee? In truth, the less I know about this, the better.
  • 10a [Criticizes] RAPS. Can’t say that I’ve ever heard it used as a verb in this sense, but can imagine it, so that makes it legit in my book.
  • 15a [Poem of 15,000+ lines] ILIAD. No longer accepted in the NYT Spelling Bee, as evidenced in today’s letters.
  • 32a [Capital of colonial Burma] RANGOON.  Until 1948, whereupon it was Yangon.
    “Yangon (Burmese: ရန်ကုန်; pronounced [jàɰ̃ɡòʊɰ̃ mjo̰]; lit. ’End of Strife’), also known as Rangoon, is the capital of the Yangon Region and the largest city of Myanmar (also known as Burma). Yangon served as the capital of Myanmar until 2006, when the military government relocated the administrative functions to the purpose-built capital city of Naypyidaw in north central Myanmar.” –Wikipedia
    · Also, crab rangoon is a weird concoction.
  • 41a [Israeli-born designer Tahari] ELIE. On that name, ELIE Mystal has a new book which looks to be both entertaining and informative.
  • 62a [Revolution constant] AXIS; 64a [Impede] SLOW.

Olivia Aldridge and Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword, “Providers”—Jim P’s review

Theme: DELIVERY SERVICE (64a, [FedEx, for one … and what the starred clues’ answers all offer, in a way]). The other theme answers are all professions that aid people in some kind of “delivery.”

Universal crossword solution · “Providers” · Olivia Aldridge and Ross Trudeau · Fri., 4.8.22

  • 17a. [*Person who might teach consonant-vowel combinations] SPEECH THERAPIST. Delivering a line, I presume? Or delivering a speech? Not sure.
  • 28a. [*Person who guides expectant and new mothers] NURSE MIDWIFE. Delivering a baby. I’m not accustomed to seeing those two words put together—usually I just hear “midwife.”
  • 48a. [*Person working with relief pitchers] BULLPEN COACH. Delivering a pitch.

Solid, though I can’t say I found it especially engaging. Maybe I wanted it more closely tied to the thing that was delivered, perhaps with entries like LINE DANCING, BABY CARRIAGE, and PITCH PERFECT. But then, those wouldn’t work with the revealer as clued. It feels like there’s an extra step here in sussing out the theme, and it isn’t always clear what’s being delivered (mainly in the first entry).

On the other hand, the fill is pleasantly clean. I especially love the contrast of DEEP-FRIED and VEGAN DIET as the marquee Down answers. Elsewhere, I enjoyed THE LAW, ROMANIA, and making sure I knew how to spell OEUVRE.

Clues of note:

  • 40a. [Kisses on the streets of London?]. SNOGS. I’m not sure why there’s a question mark here.
  • 47a. [Digital mapping tech]. GIS. New to me. Short for Geographic Information Software. This feels like something few people would know. I’m cool with sticking with a clue like [Army soldiers].
  • 53d. [Two-way device?]. RADAR. “Two-way” in that the word is a palindrome.

Nice grid and a fine debut for Olivia Aldridge (congrats!), but the theme felt a little ambiguous to me. 3.25 stars.

Ada Nicolle & Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “The L Word”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer begins with “L,” referencing the TV show The L Word.

Theme Answers

Ada Nicolle & Brooke Husic's USA Today crossword, "The L Word" solution for 4/8/2022

Ada Nicolle & Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “The L Word” solution for 4/8/2022

  • 18a [“It might be celebrated by wearing pink and orange eye make up”] LESBIAN PRIDE
  • 34a [“Library offerings for low-vision readers”] LARGE PRINT BOOKS
  • 50a [“‘Transgender Street Legend Vol. 1’ artist”] LEFT AT LONDON

I love how queer-friendly this puzzle is! I had so much fun filling in LESBIAN PRIDE. I wasn’t familiar with LEFT AT LONDON but am so excited to have learned about her work now. Plus, we have 14a [“Genderfluid god in the Marvel Cinematic Universe”] LOKI. As a third theme, I love the accessibility of the grid-spanning LARGE PRINT BOOKS.

The corners here in this grid are a little tight here where STALE meets LESBIAN PRIDE and AERATE and UNITE hits FUN RUN and LEFT AT LONDON. However, the three diagonal stripes going from MAT to YIN, AGED to LESS, and AHI to TDS. Speaking of 63a [“Six-pt. plays for the Miami Fury”] TDS, this was such a fun way of learning about the Women’s Football Alliance, in which the Miami Fury played. Catch me becoming one of the St. Louis Slam’s ADORING FANS. Lastly, but not least, I want to point your attention to 9d [“Ariana Grande hit whose video pays homage to ‘The Creation of Adam’”] GOD IS A WOMAN and 35d [“Care for a neighbor’s orchids”] PLANT SIT.

This puzzle was TOPS. I had a TON of fun from tip to tail working through it. The fill and clues were both awesome. 10/10 would do it again.

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16 Responses to Friday, April 8, 2022

  1. huda says:

    Welcome back Amy!!!! So glad that everything unfolded according to plan, and that good science and medicine lived up to their promise for you.
    I still remember the first time I heard about monoclonal antibodies, back in 1970’s. I worked with regular (polyclonal) antibodies then, and thought it was awesome that it was possible to isolate and amplify a single clone. I guessed that this might prove handy. But I never imagined how much impact they’d have on helping people across so many different situations, including the one you found yourself in.
    I’m always grateful to American taxpayers for trusting scientists and giving us the chance to make discoveries. I hope they know that it pays off. Sometimes, it can take decades between discovering something fundamental in a lab and having it become meaningful, but what a wonderful thing it is when it happens!

    • sanfranman59 says:

      1 … However, since moving back to Ohio from California a couple of years ago, this retired scientist is alarmed and dismayed by how many people around these parts don’t seem to believe in science and think American taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to support it.

    • JohnH says:

      So glad it went well, and no apologies needed (I hope) for finding this NYT hard.

  2. David L says:

    NYT: Unusually hard for me. The cluing was not on my wavelength.

    I so wanted ‘toddler’s eruption’ to be VOMIT.

    Glad the surgery went well, Amy. I have been dealing with low back pain for years but surgery has not been recommended. Maybe time to revisit the question.

    • marciem says:

      LOL re: vomit. I wanted burps or spitup but neither worked. Good misdirect.

      • Eric H says:

        I was thinking more along the lines of a temper tantrum. That was one of the best clues in a well-clued puzzle.

    • Gary R says:

      Like Eric H, I was thinking tantrum.

      Did not realize, until I googled to find out how many baby teeth there are, that “eruption” is the formal term for cutting a tooth.

  3. stmv says:

    LAT: I believe that the theme is not pronunciation-dependent, but rather is just replacing the terminal LL of a word with LI (BALL -> BALI, etc).

    • marciem says:

      Yes, that is what I figured the theme to be, not adding an ‘i’ but changing the ‘l’s in some words to i (not always the final word). The one inconsistency was 51a, where it was the first word in the phrase rather than the last.

    • pannonica says:

      Yes that’s a better interpretation.

    • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

      I don’t know how others pronounce the four words in question, but this lovely theme worked for me as a precise sound change [unless you’re focusing on where the stress goes, which would seem rather picky] and as a letter change.

  4. Mutman says:

    NYT: Good, tough puzzle. Could not conquer the NW. And should have gotten the “Safety Net” clue!

  5. Dan says:

    I had exactly the same reaction to the LAT as pannonica: How could “ball” and “Bali”, or “all” and “Ali”, have the same first vowel sound??? They don’t, not by any U.S. regional accent that I’ve heard.

    But then read the comments and agree that the spelling transformation LL —> LI is probably the right interrpretation of the theme.

Comments are closed.