Margaret Seikel and Sophia Maymudes’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #33″—Jenni’s writeup
The Fiend’s own Sophia Maymudes collaborates on today’s Inkubator offering! Fun puzzle. It’s 16×15, giving them room for two punchy grid-spanning entries.
The two grid spanners:
- 21a [When to get wasted over waffles] is BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH. The mimosas are bottomless and thus can be refilled. Now I want waffles.
- 55a [Feelings of inadequacy despite success] is IMPOSTER SYNDROME. Far more often associated with and experienced by (or at least talked about) women. That’s not a coincidence. For a different take on the subject, read this article from Harvard Business Review.
Other fun stuff:
- I complained about “tschüss” showing up in the theme entries of the Tuesday LAT. I’d never seen it before. Here it is again in the clue for 19a [Tschüss, across the Rhein]. The answer is ADIEU. No complaints this time, and not just because I now know what it means. It’s in a clue, not an answer, and the answer is a well-known word that is easy to get from crossings.
- I liked seeing RIDE OR DIE. I first heard the phrase about a year ago and immediately understood it. I am lucky enough to have several RIDE OR DIE friends. Hope you are, too.
- Not sure why [Green flag, say] is PRO. Green is the color of the abortion rights movement (which I prefer to call “reproductive justice,” since the current legal climate will also punish people who want to bear and parent children and will disproportionately affect marginalized communities). Is this referring to PRO-choice? Also not my favorite term; I prefer “anti-forced-birth.”
- Loved the reference to braiding challah in the clue for RESHAPING. Now that I have time on Fridays, I’ve started baking my own challah once or twice a month. Since there are only two of us, I make several small loaves out of each batch and freeze the ones we don’t eat. I’m getting pretty good at the six-strand braid. Maybe I’ll get brave enough to attempt an eight-strand someday.
- I have never eaten RABBIT PIE. I’m OK with that.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of ART CRITIC Rosalind Krauss. I also didn’t know that one of the characters in “Sex and the City” dated someone named AIDAN in Season 3.
David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I had the timer off since I was watching the Jan. 6 hearing while solving. Felt maybe a bit hard for a Friday NYT—what was your experience?
Fave fill in this 70-worder: WHOOPEE CUSHION, ON THE TOWN, WHITNEY HOUSTON, “LISTEN TO ME,” UTTER BORES (you know who you are!), RED HOTS, “AHOY THERE!”
Three more things:
- Food! Glorious food! There’s a [Bed in the kitchen?] of RICE atop a LEMON SAUCE, both crossing some COD. Do some SHOTS, put some FETA on a salad, snack on some cinnamon RED HOTS, and have some CARAWAY seeds in your rye. This … maybe does not amount to a good meal.
- 29a. [Sudoku or anagrams], BRAIN GAME. “Brain games” feels like a brand name for some puzzle books rather than a generic term. Your thoughts on that?
- 1a. [Ooh, you’re sexy!], “RAWR!” This feels pretty gender-neutral to me.
Four stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Case in Point”—Jim P’s review
Each theme entry is clued with a three-letter word ending “_eg”. The revealer, FOR EXAMPLE (62a, [“To illustrate …”, and a hint to interpreting the starred clues]), is our indicator to interpret those letters as the Latin abbreviation “e.g.” (exampli gratia), and the first letters should be viewed separately.
- 17a. [*Keg?] GRADE LEVEL. K (Kindergarten) is an example of a GRADE LEVEL.
- 27a. [*Leg?] ROMAN NUMERAL. L (50) is an example of a ROMAN NUMERAL.
- 47a. [*Peg?] ATOMIC SYMBOL. P (Phosphorous) is an example of an ATOMIC SYMBOL.
Were you able to catch on to the theme before the revealer? I’m not sure how I did; maybe it was the “in point” part of the title, but I figured it out by the second entry. Speaking of which, that’s a perfectly apt title since “case in point” means “FOR EXAMPLE,” but it also hints at adding “points” (or periods) to e and g.
Fill highlights include “SON OF A GUN!,” SPARE ROOM, REVEREND, NAME TAGS, AMERICA, and HUBBUBS. I also liked seeing DENALI and BONOBO.
- 23a. [Nebraska city that’s home to the largest indoor swamp]. OMAHA. Huh. Ok. Ah, I see it’s part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, which, per Wikipedia, is the top paid-attendance attraction in the entire state.
- 41a. [Worry ___ (Guatemalan figurine)]. DOLL. Lovely angle for a clue. Worry dolls are little, colorful figurines made from wire, paper, and fabric, and they’re given to children to confess their worries to. The children place them under their pillows at night and by morning their worries are gone (in theory). It may sound like superstition, but teaching kids to vocalize their troubles and let them go is a healthy practice.
- 49d. [Woolly animals that can hum]. LLAMAS. They hum as a form of communication to express emotion or warn of danger and everything in between.
- 55d. [Indonesian island where Nyepi is observed]. BALI. At first I thought Nyepi might be a volcano or something similar. But it is an annual observance of silence and self-reflection. Per Wikipedia:
Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and, for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, limited access to Internet and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes.
I know of a few countries that could benefit by having such a day every year.
Smooth puzzle. Fun fill and interesting cluing. Four stars.
Zachary David Levy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Theme here is phrases beginning with the letters DR re-parsed as if they are describing fanciful doctors’ names.
- 17a. [Medical pro who avoids the rear of the ship?] DR AFT DODGER (drafte dodger).
- 26a. [Medical pro who holds a pal’s hand in a tattoo parlor?] DR INKING BUDDY (drinking buddy).
- 42a. [Medical pro who engineers hairpin turns?] DR ESS DESIGNER (dress designer).
- 55a. [Medical pro who is a sick chess player?] DR ILL MASTER (drill master).
These are quite tortured but moderately amusing, possibly because of their very tortured quality. The mechanism was pretty clear to me right away at 17-across, so it wasn’t much of a challenge.
- 28d [“Please give me some alone time”] I NEED SPACE. I can no longer hear this phrase without envisioning the Brazilian puma from the early Aardman Animations short, Creature Comforts. The conceit of the film is that visitors to a zoo were interviewed, but their words were put into the mouths of claymation animals in the zoo.
- 30d [Birds of prey that were once endangered] BALD EAGLES. The main reason, if I recall correctly, is that DDT in the ecosystem got into the eagles’ own physiological systems and rendered their eggs with insubstantial shells (and probably there were other defects imparted). The scientific name is Haliaeetus leucocephalus, meaning ‘white headed sea eagle’.
- 46d [The first “A” in CAT scan] AXIAL. Seems unnecessary to specify the first, as the second A is part of a word, not an acronym. Interesting, I’ve just visited Wikipedia and learned that that’s an outdated term: “computed tomography scan (usually abbreviated to CT scan; formerly called computed axial tomography scan or CAT scan)”. Come to think of it, I have been hearing CT scan more than the other of late.
- 41a [Aerial photography craft] DRONE. What, not DR ONE? This intrudes on the theme too much; shouldn’t be appearing in this crossword.
Matt Johnson & Ross Trudeau’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s writeup
Five themers in an oversize grid play with the abbreviations seen on a computer keyboard:
18a [Noncanonical conclusion] ALT ENDING (“Alternate”)
25a [1981 film that introduced the Kurt Russell character Snake Plissken] ESC FROM NEW YORK (“Escape”)
36a [Computer user’s time saver … or, in another sense, a feature of 18-, 25-, 52-, and 62-Acress?] KEYBOARD SHORTCUT
52a [“Log off … permanently] DEL YOUR ACCOUNT (“Delete”)
62a [One subset of a clinical trial] CTRL GROUP (“Control”)
Fun, varied theme set. I haven’t seen “delete your account” much lately — it seemed to take on a “hello, fellow kids” vibe pretty quickly, but it’s certainly recognizable. I wonder about CTRL and ALT — I don’t know that in the case of a computer key I’ve ever seen “control” or “alternate,” where I have seen “escape key” and “delete key.” But that seems a very small nit.
EDIT: I’m told Apple computers say “control.” So how’s that for showing my blind spots?
Highlights for me include IN THEORY, CANT LOSE, and ESSAYIST (dunno why, just like it). Not much else jumps out to me right now. Have a great weekend!
Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword, “It’s an Anagram”—Darby’s writeup
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer includes a word that’s an anagram of “it’s an,” per the puzzle’s title.
- 27a [“‘Can I follow you?’”] WHAT’S YOUR INSTA
- 38a [“Nighttime protector for natural hair”] SATIN PILLOWCASE
- 9d [“Substance used to get rid of splotches”] STAIN REMOVER
- 20d [“Patrick, Brigid, Colmcille, for Ireland”] PATRON SAINT
I love anagrams, and I love seeing them in puzzles. Needless to say, I was excited to see the title of this puzzle, and I thought it was pretty clever to just take “It’s an” and turn it into these great themers. I loved both WHAT’S YOUR INSTA and the cluing for SATIN PILLOWCASE. PATRON SAINT and SATIN REMOVER were also relatively easy to figure out, which was nice.
This puzzle is asymmetric, and between that and the combination of Across and Down theme answers provided a really nice open puzzle. The lower portion of the grid had six 7-letter answers, ranging from SPELMAN to EPITOME. The middle center felt a little tight, but being able to solve the little 3×3 containing BIO, IOU, and TNT worked well for finishing out that lower half.
Other fun fill that I enjoyed included the following
- 3d [“Language in which ‘thank you’ is ‘hohou’”] – It took me a while here because I wasn’t familiar with 19a [“‘Midnight Train From Georgia: A ___’s Journey'”] PIP and so couldn’t remember how to spell ARAPAHO, but I’m always glad to see mentions of Indigenous peoples in puzzles.
- 6d [“Reliable”] – We all have our TRUSTY paper crossword pencils, right?
- 11d [“Exciting romantic outing”] – Some colloquialisms are just so fun to see, and HOT DATE was no exception.
- 40d [“Musses”] – Seeing “musses” as the clue here immediately made me fill in TOUSLES, which is just a fun word.
Overall, I really enjoyed this puzzle. Here’s to more anagrams!