Friday, May 20, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Rebecca) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:34 (Matthew) 


NYT 4:18 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today untimed (Darby) 


Hal Moore’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 20 22, no. 0520

Fairly quick for a Friday puzzle (but absolutely not as easy as the Thursday New Yorker themeless!). At least, this one fell fast for me, the Knower of Many Names—I reckon the “yuck, names are just a trivia test” people are feeling less sanguine about this puzzle.

Two things I learned:

  • 13a. [A sumo wrestler’s is called a mawashi], LOINCLOTH. Have I learned this in previous crosswords? It’s quite possible!
  • 57a. [Manet called him “the painter of painters”], VELAZQUEZ. Has anyone called Manet the painter of painters?

Fave fill: PRESCIENT, SOFT TARGET, IRENE CARA (with bonus NENA, another early-’80s pop star), HISPANIC, CURRY FAVOR (mmm, curry), and supervocalic MOZAMBIQUE.

Seven more things:

  • 23a. [U.S. locale that, when said quickly, sounds like a cheer], OAHU. And presumably, “when said quickly by a mainlander who isn’t really up on Hawaiian pronunciation, because it’s definitely three syllables, unlike ‘wahoo.'”
  • 25a. [As seen in chemistry class?], ARSENIC. Chemical symbol As, hiding in plain sight at the start of the clue.
  • 36a. [Pokémon that ultimately evolves into Alakazam], ABRA. I knew this! Also, the intermediate evolution is Kadabra … so that’s Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam.
  • 1d. [Up there, you might say], OLD. As in “he’s getting up there in years.”
  • 4d. [Unable to perform operations], INNUMERATE. Those operations, of course, are things like addition and multiplication that can be challenging to those who are INNUMERATE (the number counterpart to illiterate).
  • 10d. [Germans call it Genfersee], LAKE GENEVA. I don’t remember this from my high-school German. In French, it’s Lac Léman. And in German, the city of Geneva is called … Genf.
  • 27d. [Browse, say], SURF THE NET. Raise your hand if you haven’t said surf the Net in years.

Four stars from me. Onward, weekend!

MaryEllen Uthlaut’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/20/22 • Fri • Uthlaut • solution • 20220520

Tidy theme, well executed.

  • 39aR [Like someone who appears untouched by time, and like the answers to the starred clues?] AGELESS. All of those entries have original phrases with words ending in -AGE.
  • 17a. [*Appendage capable of kicking a 60-yard field goal?] RARE FOOT (rare footage).
  • 23a. [*Result of a computer virus?] INTERNET MESS (internet message). Is ‘internet message’ really a common phrase?
  • 54a. [*Purpose of a phone booth, to Clark Kent?] GARB DISPOSAL (garbage disposal). Yeah, what ever did the next phone booth occupant think of the ecdysiastic evidence? At least Peter Parker would web his up to the ceiling or something.
  • 65a. [*LEGO minifigure of Emmet Brickowski, e.g.?] MICROMAN (micromanage). I’m assuming he’s a character in the LEGO movies, perhaps even the protagonist?

So there’s a bit of a mix. Two lose the -AGE from the first word (one of those is only a single word!) and two from the second word. An alternate, less charitable—in terms of assessing balance—parsing could be that three of the answers would have ended with -AGE and one would have had it in the middle.

  • 12d [Assumed name] ALIAS is today’s etymology profile. “Middle English, borrowed from Medieval Latin aliās (short for aliās dictus ‘at other times called’), going back to Latin, ‘at other times, in other cases, otherwise,’ from alius ‘other’ + -ās, adverbial suffix (perhaps accusative plural ending, with noun vicēs ‘turns, times’ understood) — more at ELSE” (
  • 27d [Dash of flavor] MRS. 28d [Chef’s creation] DISH.
  • 37d [Ingredient in some batter] BEER, crossed by 43a [Blonde __ ] ALE.
  • 45d [Flow back] EBB, crossed by 48a [Subside] ABATE.
  • 61d [Finally give] CAVE, for which I originally had CEDE because I didn’t fully digest the clue.
  • 67d [Shuffleboard stick] CUE. Not your usual crossword reference for that common bit of fill. Ditto for 24d [Bollywood dancer/actress Fatehi] NORA.
  • 33a [Latvian seaport] RIGA. The capital as well.
  • 38a [Farm house] STY. Is it a dwelling structure or just a pen?
  • I weirdly like the symmetrically paired entries of 70a [Volatile] ERUPTIVE and 14a [Guessing game] CHARADES, which themselves are stacked on the first and last themers, also eight letters long. ERUPTIVE CHARADES sounds dangerous but maybe fun.

Darby Ratliff and Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “Beast Mode”—Jim P’s review

The two-part revealer starts at 58a: IMAGINE / DRAGONS [With 60-Across, pop rock band behind “Radioactive” … or what you might do after discovering this puzzle’s theme]. The other theme answers are familiar(ish) phrases that can punnily refer to DRAGONS.

Universal crossword solution · “Beast Mode” · Darby Ratliff and Matthew Stock · Fri., 5.20.22

  • 17a. [*Party-size chicken order] EXTRA LARGE WINGS. Sounds weird to me but it may just be an abbreviated version of “extra large order of wings.”
  • 32a. [*Basic piano lesson topic] MAJOR SCALES.
  • 46a. [*Taking foolish risks] PLAYING WITH FIRE.

Despite balking a bit at the first entry, I enjoyed this and the aha moment that came with the revealer. The left-right symmetry is unusual and was probably necessitated by the weird lengths of the theme answers, but our constructors made it work well and I can even almost IMAGINE the face of Smaug (the dragon from The Hobbit) there in the middle of the grid.

The fill is quite nice with ART FORM, CATNAPS, SOPRANOPIÑATAS, OAXACA, and ENCANTO (now I’m noticing a sub-theme there). I didn’t know some of these names: ELLA MAI, KATEY Red, and LEAH Lewis, but then I’m old.

Smaug from the 1977 Rankin/Bass film “The Hobbit”

Clues of note:

  • 16a. [Red, white or rose, e.g.]. WINE. Hmm. Why no diacritic for rosé?
  • 11d. [Party items originally made from clay pots]. PIÑATAS. Ooh. That sounds like a bad idea.
  • 47d. [Stuck in place?]. GLUED. Anyone else go with GORED? Maybe I was thinking of those fangs.

3.75 stars.

P.S. This appears to be the debut of fellow Fiendster, Darby Ratliff. Congrats, Darby!

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “Let’s Start a Group”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each theme answer includes a word that can be put before the word “group.”

Theme Answers5/

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano's USA Today crossword, "Let's Start a Group" solution for 5/20/2022

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “Let’s Start a Group” solution for 5/20/2022

  • 25a [“‘Concentrate!’”] FOCUS YOUR MIND / FOCUS GROUP
  • 40a [“Gay man, in gay slang”] FRIEND OF DOROTHY / FRIEND GROUP
  • 52a [“Donate to a fund you care about”] SUPPORT A CAUSE / SUPPORT GROUP

These were such great theme answers! I’ve heard FRIEND OF DOROTHY before, but it took me until I got FRIEND OF DOR for it to really sink in this time. The other two filled in pretty quickly from there. With two thirteens and a fifteen, it was a really solid amount of theme content too, which I appreciated.

I loved this grid as a whole with its four eights in 6a [“Antonio Sanchez improvisation”] DRUM SOLO, 42d [“Find”] DISCOVER, 41d [“Infrequently”] NOT OFTEN, and 8d [“Buy in advance”] PREORDER and two nines via 3d [“Took a chance”] WENT FOR IT and 37d [“Process of making up for past wrongs”] ATONEMENT. Plus, the grid itself felt very open, and the sets of three moving from ESO to ELM and, symmetrically, AIL and SLY were nice and smooth.

A few other things I noticed:

  • 22a [“‘The Royale’ playwright Ramirez”]MARCO Ramirez’s The Royale is about Jay “The Sport” Jackson, a heavyweight boxer in 1905. The play touches on the deep racial segregation of boxing as a whole as Jackson works to arrange a fight against the white heavyweight champ. In addition to The Royale, he has also written for TV, including for Orange is the New Black, Fear the Walking Dead, and Sons of Anarchy.
  • 8a [“Part of a website or a book”] – When I think of PREORDERing, I most often think of books, so I loved that this clue for PAGE also provided the P of PREORDER.
  • 10d [“‘Transcendent Kingdom’ author Yaa”]Transcendent Kingdom focuses on Gifty, a PhD candidate at Stanford who is grappling with her family’s suffering and their evangelical faith. It looks like a really interesting novel, and while I’ve poorly summarized it here, I definitely recommend checking it out here.

This was a great puzzle with too much good fill for me to talk about here!

Carly Schuna’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #31″—Rebecca’s review

Super smooth themeless from Carly Schuna with a good mix of wordplay and trivia.

Inkubator, May 19, 2022, Carly Schuna, “Themeless #31” solution grid

This was a fun puzzle from start to finish. Sometimes this many 7s can be difficult to keep interesting, but this puzzle keeps it fresh throughout.

Favorite clues:

3-Down [It might accompany a hairbrush mic] for AIR GUITAR

39-Across [“Please bestow an alcoholic beverage upon yours truly”] for BEER ME

22-Down [Flatter, in a way] for IMITATE

28-Down [More Smurflike] for BLUER

16-Across [“Well, it’s obvs true, isn’t it?”] for AM I RITE

Emily Carroll’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up

Emily Carroll’s New Yorker crossword solution, 5/20/2022

Our theme is revealed at [56a Like a detailed account … or how 17-, 19-, 35-, and 53-across are created] BLOW BY BLOW:

  • 17a [Rounds at a hookah bar?] SMOKE RINGS
  • 19a [Delicate decoration on a Christmas tree] GLASS ORNAMENT
  • 35a [Notable feature of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” or Sade’s “Smooth Operation”] SAX SOLO
  • 53a [A snake may be an especially easy one to make] BALLOON ANIMAL

I like the theme. I also like the accessibility of the feel – the New Yorker is hitting their goal of easier themes. It’s reminiscent of Liz Gorski’s self-published puzzles at Crossword Nation. That it’s done with five themers, four of which are stacked in pairs. Entries like PAPERBOYS, CENTER ICE, and CHALUPA are lovely, and what’s the gluey-est fill that accommodates all these? I ATE? LA LAW? I find myself with not much to say when a grid is this smooth and accessible.

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10 Responses to Friday, May 20, 2022

  1. sanfranman59 says:

    Huh … nothing from the commentariat today?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Nothing substantive to say?

      Makes me wonder if everyone else is fleeing from Martians and I just didn’t get the memo.

      • DH says:

        I wondered about that. Fleeing from Martians is always on my t0-do list, but posting on Internet forums maybe a similar, if not more appropriate paranoia.

        I think the NYT clue about OAHU covers itself by the qualifier, “if said quickly”. Reminds me of the oft-used “Elide”.

        I think I may fall in the “yuck, names are just a trivia test” group, but I’m OK as long as the crossings help me fill in the gaps. It’s when the ‘names-trivia’ fill are necessary as crossings that I get frustrated.

        My fave was 10d, “Genfersee”. I’m currently reading “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson about the sinking of the Lusitania, and immediately understood the “see” in “Genfersee” as a body of water, as in the “Unterseeboot” that did in the ill-fated ship.

  2. BryanF says:

    NYT: I had the starting ‘O’ for 23A and immediately went with OHIO 😂😂

  3. Martin says:

    LAT. I’ve played Animal Crossing every day for a year and have never seen the term “acre.” In fact, “real” units of height, area, depth, etc. are distorted in the game to enhance the play. Actual units would break the spell.

    I’m getting used to the new editor but have noticed some clues that aim for “close” and not precision. I’m not saying this editor’s style is wrong, but it is different.

    Elaine and I came back from a wedding in New York with covid, so I’m a bit out of it. If any of the puzzles I host go weird, please let me know.

  4. Eric H says:

    Universal: Congratulations on your debut, Darby Ratliff! Solid puzzle!

    I think there was no accent in “rosé” because Universal’s software doesn’t support diacritics in clues. (My second puzzle published by Universal had “Motley Crue” in a clue because the software couldn’t handle the umlaut. The horror, the horror.)

  5. Nick S says:

    Universal: I can’t seem to figure out what “DIDTOAT” (43d) referrs to. I assume I’m missing something obvious, but Google isn’t helping.

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