Friday, July 8, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 3:53 (Amy) 


NYT 6:52 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 3:45 (Darby) 


Mary Lou Guizzo’s Inkubator crossword, “Devil in Disguise”—Jenni’s writeup

There’s a hint about the theme at 1a and then a revealer at 67a. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle and one of the reasons will become evident shortly.

Inkubator, July 7, 2022, Mary Lou Guizzo, “Devil in Disguise,” solution grid

1a is [Shapeshifting spirit haunting this puzzle in various forms] and the answer is DEMON. Sure enough, there’s something wicked in each of the three three answers.

  • 20a [Blows up, toddler-style] is THROWS A TANTRUM.
  • 36a [“Drop by more often!”] is DONT BE A STRANGER.
  • 54a [“Those weren’t her exact words, but you get the idea”] is IM PARAPHRASING.

SATANBEASTIMP are all devilish. And then there’s the revealer at 67a [Popular puzzle blog Diary of a Crossword _____… and a hint to something hiding between the words in 20-, 36-, and 54-Across] is, of course, FIEND. Loved the shoutout! Even without my (understandable) bias, it’s a nice solid theme that I haven’t seen done before, or at least not in a while. And I enjoy the conversational-style clues at 36a and 54a.

A few other things:

  • 17a [Rubble from a cliff] was a gimme. It’s SCREE, and it’s nice to know that hanging around with a geologist for the last 40 years has benefited me in other than the obvious ways.
  • 7d [Deer ones?] is a cute clue for HARTS.
  • REPUTING clanked a bit to my ears. It’s accurately clued as [Alleging (to be)] so this is probably just me.
  • There’s something about seeing the TUB of OLEO next to the SCHMEAR on a bagel that struck me funny.
  • 55d [Raises a stink, in a way] is REEK.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Thrity UMRIGAR. Also did not know that SARI comes from the Sanskrit word for “garment.”

And finally, let’s lift up the clue for 53a [Supreme Court decision overturned on June 24, 2022, familiarly. Are you as angry as we are? Donate at]. The answer, of course, is ROE. Donate. March. Speak up. VOTE.

Kyle Dolan’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 8 22, no. 0708

This puzzle kicked my butt like a harder Saturday NYT, and yet it’s a mere Friday puzzle! Just me?

It didn’t help that I was bitten by two entries I’d never seen before (and a third familiar name, but with an unreachable clue for me):

  • 7d. [Portmanteau unit of computing information], QUBIT. It’s a term in quantum computing, portmanteau of quantum and bit. No idea what quantum computing is!
  • 50d. [Dog that’s a cross of two French-named breeds], BITON. It’s a cute little hybrid of  the Bichon Frise and the Coton de Tulear, apparently, and Wikipedia doesn’t have an article on it.
  • 22a. [Point ___, oceanic spot farthest from land], NEMO.

Fave fill: STATUS QUO, LEMON CURD, “NUH-UH!”, prayerful mini-theme SAY GRACE / GODSPEED, STOLEN CAR, PAPER WASP. Not so keen on ULAN (most have moved past the Anglicization Ulan Bator, instead using Ulaanbaatar), AGA, TOGAED (are you pantsed when you’re wearing pants, or socked when wearing socks? no),

Five more things:

  • 24a. [Drugstore brand named for its target area], TUMS. For the tummy.
  • 33a. [Offering with a blessing?], KLEENEX. For the sneezer, nothing to do with neighboring SAY GRACE.
  • 25d. [Like much of Maine], SYLVAN, as in wooded. Such a pretty word!
  • 10d. [Mission Santa ___ (National Historic Landmark in California)], INES. Uh, kind of genocidal? Gross. The official website for the place whitewashes things. French designer and model Inès de La Fressange would have been better, no?
  • 53a. [You may wake up with one in your back], CRICK. Is that a thing? Crick in your neck, absolutely. If my back is out of whack when I wake up, I don’t call it a crick.

3.75 stars from me.

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

LAT • 7/8/22 • Fri • Wechsler • solution • 20220708

Well this is an innovative little theme! A combination of a few things often seen in crosswords, but generally not together: music, syntax, and punnery.

The clues read like descriptions of musical compositions but in fact reference aspects of the listed instruments’ names.

  • 17a. [Piano trio?] SYLLABLES.
  • 30a. [String quintet?] CONSONANTS.
  • 36a. [Duet for bassoon and bass fiddle?] DOUBLE LETTERS (ss/oo, ss/dd).
  • 43a. [Duet for oboe and vibraphone?] LONG VOWELS.
  • 62a. [Flügelhorn solo?] DIACRITIC.


I may have shared this piece previously, but it’s so lovely that I feel it’s worth doing so again. Walter Torgerson’s “Clear Out of Touch with Time”, arranged for flute, oboe, and guitar:

  • 5d [Red choice] CAB. 37d [Viniculture science] OENOLOGY.
  • 12d [Meets by the shore?] REGATTAS. Cute clue. Gives me an opportunity to share even more Van Morrison. These medlied two tracks climactically conclude side two of Into the Music, which is one of the most passionately moving sequences of music I can think of. The whole album is perfect, but side two is something special.
  • 16d [“Good riddance!”] NO LOSS. 52a [One to hold on to] KEEPER.
  • 18d [“The Rookie” org.] Thinking it was “Training Day” I filled in LAPD, then realized my error, then saw that it was correct anyway.
  • 36d [Finishes one’s studies, in a way] DROPS OUT. Surprise!
  • 13a [Marvel Comics artist Buscema] SAL. Famous guy, brother of John, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him get crossword recognition before. Probably too niche.
  • 35a [Planning session contribution] IDEAS. My one misstep, where I filled in INPUT.
  • 69a [Time pieces: Abbr.] YRS. Double fake-out! Looks as if it’s a magazine clue masquerading as a chronology clue, but in fact it’s just a chronology clue.

Winston Emmons’s Universal crossword, “Give Me More!”—Jim P’s review

Theme: MAS is added to familiar phrases to wacky effect. The revealer is at 54d “NO MAS!” [“That’s enough!” … and a hint to the origins of the starred clues’ answers].

Universal crossword solution · “Give Me More!” · Winston Emmons · Fri., 7.8.22

  • 19a. [*Documents on who’s been naughty and nice?] THE XMAS FILES. The X-Files. The toys are out there?
  • 30a. [*.,,,?] DOT COMMAS. Dot-com. I momentarily forgot the clues were asterisked, so my brain tried to use it as part of the clue.
  • 47a. [*Trendy isms?] HOT DOGMAS. Hot dog.
  • 59a. [*Poetry competition hosted by Nana?] GRANDMA’S SLAM. Grand slam. Nice.

I enjoyed this. Even though I grokked the theme with the first entry, uncovering the rest still proved satisfying. I don’t think a revealer is strictly necessary, given the title, but it doesn’t seem to have impinged too much on that SE corner. Still, it’s odd that the revealer is NO MAS since we’re adding MAS to each theme answer.

The fill is pleasant enough with ALL-STAR, the RAMONES, and SARDINE. The longest fill entries (MEDIATOR and REMINDER) get the job done, though they aren’t especially sparkly. Note that they cross two theme answers each, so the constructor’s choices are limited. I do like that evocative clue for REMINDER: [String around the finger, e.g.].

Flag of OMAN

Other clues of note:

  • 62a. [Piece of dough in a French restaurant?]. EURO. Well, a restaurant in France, not a restaurant in the US serving French cuisine.
  • 25d. [Country whose flag has crossed swords over a khanjar]. OMAN. The khanjar is a J-shaped ceremonial dagger originating in OMAN.

Solid, enjoyable puzzle with smooth fill. 3.75 stars.

Rafael Musa’s USA Today crossword, “Support Centers”—Darby’s writeup

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer contains AID in the middle of the answer, putting a support in the center.

Theme Answers

Rafael Musa's USA Today crossword, "Support Centers" solution for 7/8/2022

Rafael Musa’s USA Today crossword, “Support Centers” solution for 7/8/2022

  • 17a [“‘Shoulda left that unspoken!’”] YOU SAID WHAT
  • 38a [“‘Beyond the Gender Binary’ author”] ALOK VAID-MENON
  • 63a [“Hip-opening yoga asana”] MERMAID POSE

These were three really incredible theme answers. There was such variety. I filled in YOU SAID WHAT pretty quick, and once I got ALOK VAID-MENON, I knew who the puzzle was referring to, though I couldn’t remember exactly how to spell their last name. Plus, MERMAID POSE was so fun and quickly apparent for folks (like me) who aren’t as familiar with yoga poses.

This grid felt really open in its corners, and I loved the way the symmetry made a middle section that really felt like it opened up the center, spotlighting ALOK VAID-MENON right in the middle. Plus, it was a nice bonus feature that a puzzle centered around “support centers” included the word “supports” in its first Across clue 1a [“Leaves’ supports”] STEMS.

Some Friday faves for me:

  • 29a [“Scooby-___”] – Big Scooby-DOO fan right here, and I loved the rhyming of this with ROO (and the rhyming within ROO’s clue 68a [“Pooh’s pal whose name rhymes with ‘Pooh’”].
  • 38a [“‘Beyond the Gender Binary’ author”]ALOK VAID-MENON is a writer, performer, and public speaker who wrote not only the clued Beyond the Gender Binary but also Femme in Public and Your Wound/My Garden. Definitely check out their website.
  • 70d [“People who invented the qajaq”] – A qajaq is a long miniature boat invented about 4400 years ago by the INUIT.
  • 4d [“___ Elliott (‘Get Ur Freak On’ rapper)”]MISSY Elliott is one of three musicians/bands to make the fill of this grid: 6d [“Rock band with an electric name”] AC/DC and 51d [“Rapper featured on Lizzo’s ‘Rumors’”] CARDI B.

All in all, I really enjoyed this puzzle!

That’s all from me for today! Have a good weekend!

Stella Zawistowski’s New Yorker crossword, “Casual Friday”—Amy’s recap

The New Yorker crossword solution, 7 8 22, “Casual Friday”

The theme is an outfit one might wear to the office on Casual Friday, from head to toe: A cap on your head, a sweatshirt and shorts, and kicks (aka sneakers) on your feet. These are contained in MUSHROOM CAP, EARL SWEATSHIRT, ANIMATED SHORTS, and CORNER KICKS. The apparel words are all used with somewhat different senses in the theme answers, and each themer is a two-word phrase ending in the apparel. Consistent!

til (Today I learned) the [First month of the Islamic calendar] is MUHARRAM.


3.75 stars from me.

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16 Responses to Friday, July 8, 2022

  1. steve says:

    not just you, amy
    like a pretty challenging saturday for me

    • sanfranman59 says:

      This one kicked my butt too, but it was very satisfying when I managed to get through it without errors (albeit in a solve time that’s almost triple what Amy posted … boy, is she a good solver!). I’m a little fearful of what I may be in store for with tomorrow’s puzzle.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        My prediction, SFman: The Saturday puzzle will be a breeze and I’ll write “Looks like the Friday and Saturday puzzles got mixed up this week.”

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: I got hung up with some of the same entries you did, Amy. I’ve never heard of that dog breed (for that matter “Coton de Tulear” is new to me, too), and QUBIT was only vaguely familiar.

    Still, I managed to beat my Friday average by a few minutes, which is always nice.

    And ‘cause I love Neko Case:

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I seemed to be on this constructor’s wave length. STATUS QUO helped right off the bat. Some of the stuff, I had to piece together ( e.g. BITON). TOGAED was definitely a brow raiser, and CRICK should have been in the neck…
    But the triple stacks were pretty, and the clues were good without being tooo clever.
    I found it enjoyable at the end of a long and complicated day. Thank you, Mr. Dolan.

    • Eric H says:

      Yep. Cricks belong in necks.

      I’m envious of constructors who can pull off triple stacks so well. And to do it with only four three-letter entries!

    • Alex H says:

      I also found most of this one to be relatively easy for a Friday, with lemon curd and pen lights falling quickly, though I then ended up hunting for my QUSIT mistake for another two minutes at the end.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        PENLIGHTS didn’t land for me because I definitely don’t think of them as “medical tools”. It’s not infrequent for me to get stumped by clues that seem more specific than the answer. I tend to be a very literal thinker and it sometimes gets me in trouble with my crosswords.

        • Jenni Levy says:

          And I thought of it right away (I had the P) and didn’t put it in. because I wasn’t sure normal people would see it as a medical tool.

          • Mr. [Not At All] Grumpy says:

            My doctors use pen light all the time to look at my eyes, look down my throat, look in my ears, etc. That did not seem at all inapt to me.

  4. elise says:

    UNIVERSAL: Response to Jim P’s review question about the revealer, why “no mas”?
    Because the revealer says, “…hint to the ORIGINS of the starred clues’ answers.”

  5. gyrovague says:

    So on Wednesday we had MAGIC TRICK as the revealer. Thursday the first clue is “Opening in a magic act.” And today we get MAGIC ACT as an answer.

    All well and good, but it takes this solver back to a puzzle that really did play out like a magic trick — Neil Patrick Harris and David Steinberg’s tour de force of 8/24/17. I’m still in awe of that one. Give it a go if you missed it the first time around!

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