Friday, August 12, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 3:45 (Matt) 


NYT 3:30 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 5:31 (Darby) 


Trent Evans’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 12 22, no. 0812

Dang, it not often that I can sneak under the 4-minute mark on a Friday NYT, and 3:30 almost makes me feel like Stella (except she will almost surely come in way below 3:30).

Briefly, because must-see TV awaits me—

Fave fill in this 66-worder (such a pretty grid!): SPACE CAMP, MORNING RITUAL (Diet Coke!), FAKE TAN, BAT-PHONE, Pig Latin AMSCRAYS, LIVE-TWEET, “I WON’T ASK,” Wynton MARSALIS, Peanuts’ THE DOCTOR IS IN (didn’t realize it was a song as well as the sign on Lucy’s 5¢ psychiatry booth), SPIN CLASS, BESTIES, CARFAX.

Not keen on: THE DOG ATE IT, ECT- instead of ECTO- as a prefix, ADIA (McLachlan had two top-10 songs in 1998 including this one, but no others—but it has three vowels so), ATILT (wanted the more common ASKEW).

Sure never heard of this usage: 22a. [Position in an array, to a computer scientist], INDEX. What percentage of solvers work in comp sci jobs?

Four stars from me.

Adam Wagner’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up

Adam Wagner’s New Yorker crossword solution, 8/12/2022

  • 17a [Sport that might feature modified John Deeres] LAWNMOWER RACING
  • 25a [Tool for detecting radiation] GEIGER COUNTER
  • 40a [“Blue Bayou” singer with Grammys in country, pop, tropical Latin, and children’s music] LINDA RONSTADT
  • 53a [Body of water south of Connecticut … or what the starts of 17-, 25-, and 40-Across combine to make?] LONG ISLAND SOUND

So the beginnings of each themer, put together, get us LAWN-GEI-LIND. Neat work to grab LONG ISLAND SOUND and make a revealer out of it. I’m always iffy about accents in puzzles, but even if something like “lawn guyland” is a caricature, it’s well known I suppose.

Highlights for me include GALENTINES, I DIDN’T DO IT, a Scott Pilgrim reference to clue RAMONA, and Selena and TEJANO music.

Roger & Kathy Wienberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 8/12/22 • Fri • Wienberg • solution • 20220812

Well this was fun!

  • 62aR [Brandy-infused cocktail, and a hint to locating the second part of four three-part puzzle answers] SIDE CAR. I’ve circled the relevant squares.
  • 14d (plus part of 4d and all of 29d) [Stick on a crudités platter] RAW CARROT. That’s RAW | (NAS)CAR | ROT.
  • 8d {9d/32d} [Like five bones in the hand] METACARPAL. META | (PEC)CAR(Y) | PAL.
  • 39d {42d/53d} [Italian cream cheese] MASCARPONE. MAS (S)CAR(LET) | PONE.
  • 40d {46d/56d} [Where stars may align] RED CARPET. RED | CAR(DIO) | PET.

Note that all the answers are valid crossword entries in their own right—raw, rot, meta, pal, mas, pone, red, pet—even though the first and third parts are not clued independently. My suspicion is that they originally were but the editors opted to fold them into the full entry, to make the mechanism more explicit. And perhaps it would have been too messy to double-clue the first segments.

All the elements are symmetrical, which is very nice indeed. Further, two of the sidecars shunt right and two shunt left.

The only ding that I see would be the stray CAR going across (within 21a MACARON), originating from the same spot as the thematic CAR in PECCARY. Nevertheless, this is a great theme and it’s extremely well done.

  • 44a [Bo’s’n’s quarters] FO’C’SLE. Unelided, these are boatswain and forecastle.
  • 46a [Storage place] CD-ROM. 17a [Record collection?] DATASET.
  • 61a/63a [Mauna __ ] LOA, KEA. Yep, we’ve got ’em both.
  • 9d [Nocturnal piglike mammal] PECCARY. They’re in the Tayassuidae, the New World pig family. Some species are called javelinas.
  • 54d [“All done!”] TA-DA.

Great puzzle!

ooh, aren’t you intrigued?

Kit Sheffield’s Universal crossword, “Wildlife Relocation”—Jim P’s review

Our theme is official critters that seem out of place.

Universal crossword solution · “Wildlife Relocation” · Kit Sheffield · Fri., 8.12.22

  • 20a. [Surprising state bird of Utah] CALIFORNIA GULL.
  • 37a. [Unexpected state marsupial of North Carolina] VIRGINIA OPOSSUM.
  • 52a. [Startling state insect of Connecticut] EUROPEAN MANTIS.

An interesting subject for a theme—one I never would have considered. I wonder what the search was like to find this set and how many were left on the cutting-room floor. I like how each one is a different kind of critter.

What’s the most surprising critter (or thing) from your state’s list of official symbols? I just checked mine (Washington), and the state flower is the Pacific rhododendron. That’s not surprising; what is surprising is that the Wikipedia page says that Dr. Frasier Crane attested that the state’s flower is mildew. (The page links to the show, but doesn’t identify that it’s a joke.)

Only three theme answers, but they’re all at least 14-letters long, providing enough meat for the grid. But that leaves plenty of room for some juicy long fill, and our debut constructor provides. GRAFFITI is a fine entry itself, but the rest are wonderful: “GET A GRIP!,” “ARE YOU MAD?,” “NOT A PEEP!,” SMELL TEST, and ODDBALLS. That’s a set any constructor would be proud of.

The rest of the fill is solid and never triggers the scowl-o-meter. Clues are very straightforward, making for a quick solve.

A very nice debut. 3.75 stars.

Claire Rimkus’s USA Today crossword, “Outer Core”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each theme answer includes letters to spell out CORE on the outer edge of the answer.

Theme Answers

Claire Rimkus's USA Today crossword, "Outer Core" solution for 8/12/2022

Claire Rimkus’s USA Today crossword, “Outer Core” solution for 8/12/2022

  • 17a [“Shop that has sweet deals”] CANDY STORE
  • 33a [“Quip that makes a person groan”] CORNY JOKE
  • 40a [“Meat-eating animal”] CARNIVORE
  • 59a [“Reptile with red, yellow, and black coloring”] CORAL SNAKE

The theme here was pretty straightforward, being exactly what I expected as I solved through. It also, somewhat inadvertently, saved me when I had SIDE for 32d [“One of six on a cube”] instead of FACE, leading to some confusion with ALIAS as well. CARNIVORE clarified that immediately. Interestingly, CARNIVORE also felt like kind of a bonus themer since, unlike the others, it’s not made up of two words, but it naturally splits CORE like the rest of them.

I really liked this puzzle. Despite four themers, the fill was really strong, and the middle shapes that look so much like two tetrominos stuck together were visually very fun. I tried to enter GO HEAD TO HEAD before realizing I had the wrong body part and will GO TOE TO TOE instead.

Some Friday faves

  • 66a [“Laurie Halse Anderson novel”]SPEAK was one of the first novels for which Laurie Halse Anderson has received attention for. She has also written a number of novels, of which the most familiar to me are Fever 1793 and Wintergirls. SPEAK was a finalist for the National Book Award.
  • 47d [“‘Cheep-ly built homes”] – It definitely feels apt to have this CORNY JOKE in the puzzle as the clue for NESTS. I definitely LOL’d as soon as I read the clue. It was hysterical.
  • 57d [“Word that’s short for ‘perquisite’”] – I absolutely learned something new today as I did not know that PERK was short for anything.

Carly Schuna and Jess Shulman’s Inkubator crossword, “Flipping the Bird”—Jenni’s writeup

Sorry this is late! This is a fun puzzle. I finished it correctly and had to stare at it for awhile before I understood the theme.

Each theme answer is a two-word phrase that makes no sense until you flip the word order and voila! you have a bird.

Inkubator puzzle, 8/11/2022, Carly Schuna and Jess Shulman, “Flipping the Bird,” solution grid

  • 18a [Big fan of trap doors?] is a HATCH NUT. Nuthatch.
  • 20a [Pinnacle of style for Barbie’s beau?] is KEN CHIC. Chicken, and my favorite of the theme answers.
  • 30a [Acting role on a hill?] is a RIDGE PART. Partridge.
  • 39a [Avenue for a marathon?] is a RUNNER ROAD. Roadrunner.
  • 48a [Evening for selling one’s wares?] is a HAWK NIGHT. Nighthawk.
  • 59a [Step two in preparing to launch a legume?] is COCK PEA. Peacock. Maybe that’s my favorite.
  • 61a [What was revealed during Minnie’s wardrobe malfunction?] is a MOUSE TIT. Titmouse, and the reason we need indie crosswords, and maybe that’s my favorite. Or maybe they’re all good.

I sure haven’t seen this before, and the aha! moment made me laugh out loud. Solid, funny, just the right amount of challenging – really nice.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Fiona SHAW appeared in “Killing Eve” and “True Blood.”

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33 Responses to Friday, August 12, 2022

  1. Art Shapiro says:

    With respect to Amy’s comment about array indices, I think the clue may have been a bit exclusionary. Even a “mere” coder would be well familiar with the term.

    • JML says:

      “Mere” coder here (background is geology, not comp sci), can confirm; I code at work secondarily and handle INDEXing daily. It’s one of the first things you learn as essential to coding. I appreciated this angle on the clue

    • Mutman says:

      Having coded for 40 years or so, I think the clue is a tad off, but no less solvable. In my understanding, it is the VALUE of the index that gives the position. The index is a tool to insert/read values in an array (as are subscripts).

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Are you folks under the impression that most solvers would be people who do some coding? Doctors, lawyers, journalists, sales reps, administrative staff, performers, nurses, teachers, stay-at-home parents, librarians, restaurant staff, etc.? The proportion of people who do coding is small.

      • David L says:

        I’m not a coder (although I did write a program or two way back when) but I didn’t think this was a hard answer to infer.

        Crosswords in general tend to make use of words having to do with medicine, law, education, parenting, book cataloguing, etc. I don’t see why a clue connected with coding comes in for special criticism.

      • Eric H says:

        I’ve never done any coding, but the X from CARFAX made INDEX a likely answer.

      • Gary R says:

        Indexing is not unique to computer coding. It’s common in mathematics, statistics and operations research. Doctors, nurses, librarians, and stay-at-home parents, etc. may not encounter it routinely – but it is Friday, after all.

      • R says:

        I haven’t done any coding since a couple college classes 20 years ago and this one was a gimme.

    • JohnH says:

      I don’t code, although I had some training years ago. Still, it felt eminently gettable. (Also, I think, legit. One often talks of the value of something as the thing itself in anything to do with math or science as well. Besides, it may help to think of it as a verb.)

      I’d agree with Amy that it was an easy Friday. The only serious slowdown was in not having known KNEX before and holding off on __ Noir just in case it might be Film. That and, since ECTO was too long, settling prematurely on EXO. I didn’t know of CARFAX and SPACE CAMP, but both were easy to get and interesting to learn.

  2. NYT: I’m confused … what’s wrong with THE DOG ATE IT? That’s the classic excuse for not turning in homework, isn’t it? (It Googles about the same as MY DOG ATE IT, for what it’s worth.)

  3. David+Steere says:

    INKUBATOR: This is one very, very cute puzzle. I loved it. Thanks Carly and Jess. Adorable and funny cluing throughout. I loved the trio of 56A, and themers 59A and 61A. You’ve seemed to complete the anatomy class. ;-) :-) david

  4. JohnH says:

    TNY has, unfortunately, a Monday TNY level of pop culture. While Friday nominally has in common only a theme, I didn’t expect a long, long slog, with SKIP/KODIAN a DNF and much of the rest mere guesses. (FWIW, Googling “All bangers no” got me only MASH, which would at least have been mildly amusing.)

    • gyrovague says:

      Yeah, I’m beginning to think they’re spreading themselves too thin with five puzzles a week. Quality, not quantity, seemed to be their mantra at the outset. Now, unfortunately, it’s more the opposite.

      • Mr. [Moderately] Grumpy says:


      • JohnH says:

        You know, I bet it’s more conscious than that. They see the crossword as a chance to expand their audience beyond the obvious TNY demographic, which would run older and, well, more literate.

        There are limits to an aging readership, but then there aren’t a lot of other ways for them to run counter to it. They can’t afford to lose people eager and able to read long, literate articles with a serious historical awareness and awareness of contemporary issues in arts and politics. Besides, they thrive on advertising, meaning on an ad base of readers far wealthier than I. But this way they can still claim to be social-media oriented, too.

    • Wyrd by Word says:

      I’m just a newbie, but BANGERS/SKIPS came to me quickly once I tied music to the right kind of banger.

      KOCIAN was totally new to me, but fortunately the long cross was easy.

    • Mike H says:

      Googling “all bangers, no skips” with the quotes gives a total of just 42 hits! KOCIAN was never going to come to me, either.

      • JohnH says:

        Oops, sorry! KOCIAN it is. My typo here came from difficulty reading my own entry owing to overwriting. I first guessed the sport was lawnmower “biking,” since I’d never heard of it. I did eventually hit on RIDING, but didn’t enjoy it.

        Thankfully, the revealer was both long and almost my sole gimme. It probably took others only marginal knowledge of East Coast geography, although I’m also a NYer so had it down pat. I’d have been dead in the water without it.

  5. marciem says:

    LAT: Really enjoyed it!!

    I was today years old when I learned the difference between macarons and macaroons… almonds vs. coconut, it seems.

    Without the circles, I completely missed the downward CAR in peccary and thought it odd that one of the cars went sideways (in maCARon) while the other three were downwards. Much more elegant now that you’ve pointed it out…. though I wasn’t mad at the inconsistency I thought was there… the puzzle was fun!

    • PJ says:

      The CAR in MACARON is an extra, non-theme related CAR. It’s why I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5.

    • Mister [Not At All] Grumpy says:

      MACRONS, MACARONS & MACAROONS. My head is spinning.

      • marciem says:

        “…put a feather in his cap and called it MACARONI” :D :D.

        Or we could go back to the 90’s and do the Macarena!

        now MY head is spinning :D :D

  6. Iggystan says:

    This seemed an easy Friday NYT. I liked most of the long fills and didn’t have trouble with the crossers.

    Just a question, I assume that to solve the NYT (or any other) that fast, it’s done in hard copy? I used to get the newspaper with the NYT, but now solve with the app and I find it much slower.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’m slower on paper. I use Crossword Scraper to generate a .puz file and solve the NYT using Black Ink (Mac-native software) on a desktop iMac with a keyboard my hands are used to. I don’t love the NYT’s web solver.

      I might be faster using Amuse Labs’ PuzzleMe interface, which the New Yorker and online Boswords tournament puzzles utilize. Lots of indie constructor sites also use PuzzleMe.

      I’m definitely slower on a mobile app, since I need to watch where I’m typing on a tiny touchscreen keyboard.

      • Iggystan says:

        Thanks. I’m pretty astonished at the times that are posted sometimes. I wouldn’t think you could read through all the clues and type them in that fast.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          There are some pretty astonishing videos out there showing folks like Dan Feyer and Tyler Hinman solving puzzles. I think both of them has been known to complete a 15x puzzle in close to a minute (maybe even faster?). The fastest I’ve ever managed is 2:12 on a Newsday Monday puzzle three years ago.

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