Friday, September 16, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 3:37 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 5:11 (Darby) 


Quiara Vasquez’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #35″—Jenni’s write-up

This one certainly was very challenging. I finished with one incorrect square and had to reveal the answer to figure it out. It’s a striking grid with four quadrants that play like separate difficult puzzles.

The grid is also full of good stuff, much of which was outside my knowledge base. That’s not a complaint! I like learning things. There’s one 15 running down the grid that was just on the edge of my memory and I eventually dredged it up.

You can see the square where I got stuck. I have never heard of KAITLIN Olson and have never watched “Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I can’t imagine any clue for KHAZI that would have helped me. [British slang for a bathroom that’s one letter away from a color] left me shaking my head.

Inkubator, September 15, 2022, Quiara Vasques, “Themeless #35,” solution grid

  • 7d [1993 breakthrough album for Liz Phair] is EXILE IN GUYVILLE.
  • 17a [Academic-sounding euphemism for “shit no one cares about”] is a great clue for ESOTERICA.
  • 30a [They’re down with everything] are NIHILISTS.
  • 41a [It’s damaged by a leak] is SECRECY. {overly obvious political comment redacted because I’m just tired}
  • What do we think about 47d [“Clueless” heroine] crossing 54a HAD NO CLUE?

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above. I also have never heard the Dido song WHITE FLAG.

Juliana Tringali Golden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 16 22, no. 0916

Dang, this one fell faster than the Wednesday NYT for me. (But not as fast as the Thursday New Yorker puzzle—that is one easy themeless each week!) A brisk start to the weekend puzzles.

Fave fill: DRINK IT IN (or what I’ve been doing with this week’s perfect weather), “ONE SECOND…,” “YOU NEVER KNOW,” old-school CREAM SODA (which is my favorite flavor of Dum-Dums suckers), Gloria GAYNOR, CRAFT PROJECT (none for me, thanks), SUPERGLUE, CANDY CANE, and whoa there, “EASY, TIGER.”

Can’t say the MLS CUP (25a. [Goal-oriented final match, in brief?]) was on my radar. The household sports junkie prefers European soccer to American.

Five more things:

  • 19a. [Fulani braid decoration], BEAD. If you’re unfamiliar with Fulani braids, here’s a feature with lots of photos. Not all of the styles include beads, but they’re fairly popular. Anyway, I’m a big fan of crossword content that mainstreams non-white references for a broad audience.
  • 28a. [Vapor trail?], -IZE. If you’ve gotta have a suffix in your grid, this is a good way to clue it.
  • 54a. [Thinks of something], HAS AN IDEA. Not keen on this phrase as an entry.
  • 59a. [Immediate threat to capture, in a game of Go], ATARI. Probably I knew where the video game company got its name at some point, but had zero recollection of this.
  • 1d. [Film site], IMDB. The website with cast and crew info, etc., for movies and TV shows. Anyone else slam in IMAX first? (I know, I know. There are not a ton of possible 4-letter entries for 19a that start with an X.)

3.75 stars from me.

Olivia Mitra Framke’s Universal crossword, “Hollow Center”—Jim P’s review

Theme: HIDDEN VALLEY (51a, [Dressing brand, or a theme hint]). Theme answers are familiar phrases which hide a name that can precede the word “valley.”

Universal crossword solution · “Hollow Center” · Olivia Mitra Framke · Fri., 9.16.22

  • 19a. [*Hoosier NBA player] INDIANA PACER. Napa Valley.
  • 27a. [*Intimidated someone] MADE A THREAT. Death Valley.
  • 41a. [*Sweet bee product] CLOVER HONEY. Rhone Valley.

Nice theme. I couldn’t connect the first two answers after uncovering their circled letters, so the revealer gave me that much-needed aha moment. Too bad “Silicon” Valley is too ungainly for this theme. I found “Simi” Valley hidden in “CSI: Miami,” but the entry would be an unhelpful eight letters in length.

I love the central quartet of sevens: SNIPPET, HANG TEN, COSPLAY, and POKÉMON, as well as those two long Across entries: PORTFOLIO and EMAIL SCAM. Everything else felt familiar and smooth, making for a pleasant solve.

Clues of note:

  • 8d. [Like a door when it’s not a door, in a riddle]. AJAR. I think the riddle goes, “When is a door not a door?” Ans: “When it’s A JAR.”
  • 9d. [Jackshund or puggle]. DOG. Let me guess. That’s a Jack Russell terrier / dachshund and a pug / poodle? I was half right; the second one is a pug / beagle. Our family dog is a basset / beagle making her a bagle (pronounced like the bread item).
  • 37d. [Iron or iridium resource in “Stardew Valley”]. ORE. Another valley for the theme! Thanks for this clue. I’ve moved on from “Animal Crossing” recently and sunk myself heavily into “Stardew Valley.”

Enjoyable puzzle all around. Four stars.

Taylor Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

Had a little trouble figuring out the theme here, but 47-across provided the insight.

  • 17a. [Teacher’s request, literally?] CLASS SEE ME (see me after class).
  • 29a. [Like falling dominoes, literally?] THE OTHER ONE (ones after the other).
  • 47a. [Note to a spy, literally?] READING BURN (burn after reading).
  • 63a. [Enticing ad words, literally?] REBATE FREE (free after rebate).

Straightforward, really. But not literally.

  • 3d [Fizzy ingredient in a Creamsicle float] ORANGE SODA. Clue helps the solver eliminate orange syrup or orange ice cream from their thinking.
  • 6d [Some Minecraft blocks] ORE. I used to think this would always be ORE, but a recent crossword showed me that another three-letter possibility is TNT.
  • 12d [At a breaking point, maybe] TAUT. 15a [Sag] DROOP.
  • 22d [Colorful ecosystem] REEF. When it’s healthy. Pollution, acidity, and climate change can all cause bleaching.
  • 31d [Ankle bones] TARSUS. Yes, the singular is the name for the group of bones.
  • 54d [Palm fruit] DATE. I fell for the recency fallacy, putting in AÇAÍ.
  • 5a [Common bugs] COLDS. 56d [Feels crummy] AILS.
  • 39d [“Star Wars” critter who lives on Endor] EWOK. Wondering if this is demeaning or patronizing, calling them ‘critters’.
  • 42a [“Make tracks!”] SCAT. 36d [Make tracks] SKEDADDLE.

Overall the fill felt businesslike. Solid crossword with a little bit of mystery to discovering the theme.

Hoang-Kim Vu’s USA Today crossword, “That’s a First”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer refers to a first-happening event.

Theme Answers

Hoang-Kim Vu's USA Today crossword, "That's a First" solution for 9/16/2022

Hoang-Kim Vu’s USA Today crossword, “That’s a First” solution for 9/16/2022

  • 17a [“An Olympic athlete might set one”] WORLD RECORD
  • 27a [“Ribbon-cutting event”] GRAND OPENING
  • 43a [“Event at TCL Chinese Theatre”] FILM PREMIERE
  • 53a [“Inaugural trip for a ship”] MAIDEN VOYAGE

This theme was straightforward, and I appreciate that, as a result, we got four themers out of it. I wasn’t familiar with the TCL Chinese Theatre in the clue for FILM PREMIERE, which was originally Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and first opened on May 18, 1927.

The grid felt really smooth. I struggle at times with the two sets of black squares coming off a center square because it often feels like it bisects the puzzle diagonally, but I didn’t feel that as much with this grid. Everything flowed nicely from one section to the other, especially on the right side of the grid with the longer ARTHRITIS, GUARANTEE, EMBARGO and EEYORE.

A few Friday faves:

  • 14a [“Like the flavor of Funyuns”] – Two Y-based adjectives here with ONIONY and 23a [“Showing no emotion”] STONY.
  • 7d [“‘Too bad, so sad’”]BOOHOO is just fun here, though I hesitated to fill it in at first because I wasn’t sure it was right. It felt too APT, for some reason.
  • 30d [“Sour ale variety”] – Sours are my favourite type of beer, and so I really enjoyed seeing GOSE within this grid.

Overall, I had a great time with this grid!

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33 Responses to Friday, September 16, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I loved this. Did it after a long complicated day and it made me feel good. Thank you!
    My 5yo (almost 6) grandson introduced me to Go this summer- He’s really great at strategy and can see many step aheads. Beat me soundly on a regular basis, ALACK… But at least I got ATARI out of it!

  2. Jason says:

    Inkubator: Loved the puzzle but in 31D, is there really such a thing as a “C+” ion? If carbon were an ion, wouldn’t you have to write it as C4+ or C4-? I’ll pretend it said “F-” instead (also funny, at least to me).

  3. ZDL says:

    NYT: Kept trying to figure out how NO IRISH people are hard-boiled.

  4. marciem says:

    LAT: Completely different puzzle from Cruciverb and LAT site than in the write-up.

  5. David L says:

    NYT had a number of unknowns for me: ATARI, AANDW, OPI, NEVILLE. But they were all fairly crossed. I didn’t understand MAC until realizing belatedly that Monterey must be an OS or a browser or something related.

    One objection: 4oA. An AXIS is a line, not a point.

    ETA: Wordle woe. I had 4 letters correct on my second guess, missing only the middle letter. Then I made 4 more guesses, none of which were correct. I hate when that happens!

    • Mister [Not At All] Grumpy says:

      And Microsoft Word [for what it’s worth] thinks today’s Wordle is a misspelling, so I’m blaming today’s fail on the chap who created the game. :) Not a word I’ve ever used in my life.

    • Gary R says:

      Re: 40-A. I thought this was fine. “Point” is not always used in a geometrical sense – sometimes it’s a synonym for “place” or “position” (e.g., vantage point). I’m okay with an axis being the place where something turns, and I liked the wordplay.

      Also, from a long-ago human anatomy class, one of your cervical vertebrae (1st or 2nd – don’t recall) is known as the “axis.” Obviously, it’s not a line, but it is the point where your head/neck turn side-to-side.

  6. JohnH says:

    Of course, Friday TNY has no fixed level of difficulty, but like all days one can go by the setter, here Eric Asgard. I found this one about as hard as they get, with about 30 things I couldn’t have guessed and two crossings I’m going to have to leave unfinished. Yuck.

    But I do understand they’re out to use puzzles as a way to expand beyond their high-brow magazine readers to younger audience with the Web and not a dictionary as its source. Now if only they didn’t aim SOLELY for that.

    • uh says:

      “eric asgard” ok

    • Mr. [Moderately] Grumpy says:

      The puzzle’s sole reason for existing, as far as I can tell, is a bad pun in the clue for 41A. And there is no excuse for 44A even with the crossings.

        • gyrovague says:

          The Grumpster seems to have stepped way, so I will pipe up in his LIEU, uh, place. OSHUN is sufficiently esoteric that it’s only polite to cross it with things that will help out. And you did … mostly. INFO, check. SEAS, fine. POSH, okay. HUMANIZE, right there with you. But SINEW, clued as strength? Nuh-uh.

          Another head-scratcher was your “Left or right” clue for WIDE. But your worst transgression has to be the 58-A/48-D crossing. What happens when two such Agard-isms collide? See today’s star rating.

          And for what it’s worth, “Parasite,” according to multiple sources I see online, was distributed by CJ Entertainment. Do you know something we don’t?

          • paolo p. says:

            Sorry Erik I love your puzzles but I gotta give this one to the commenters. There are millions of Yoruba practitioners but I think you’re forgetting about the people we really make crosswords for: seventeen people on Crossword Fiend dot com who use the star ratings widget

          • Jenni Levy says:

            Victor Frankl’s best-know work – a classic of 20th-century philosophy – is an “Agard-ism?” Um, OK. I don’t often get Erik’s name allusions – which is fine because I like learning new things – and that one was a total gimme for me.

            Interesting that people simultaneously complain about too many contemporary entries and then say that two older references – SINEW and Frankl – are also bad. It’s almost as if they have a very narrow idea of appropriate crossword content that happens to overlap with their own particular knowledge base.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Hey, I filled in the UN of OSHUN without the crossings. I’ve seen it before, and I’m not even Nigerian.

            And the SINEW/strength thing—uh, this in in crosswords fairly often. From the Cruciverb database, SINEW clues from the past year include Tendon, Muscular power, Muscle-bone connector, Bone-muscle binder, Resilient strength, Toughness, Power cord?, and Strength. You’re barking up the wrong tree there. And if you have SI*EW from the crossings, what the heck else could that letter be??

        • JohnH says:

          I have had my share of objections, but I didn’t mind the theme pun. Maybe it’s because I’m a cryptic fan, and there some of the best clues use the “surface sense” to disguise the actual part of speech.

          44A was awfully obscure to me, too. I can kinda tolerate SINEW, though, as a relic of (bad) poetry. WIDE took me a long time, but it does make sense. I had SIDE a long time, with left or right as a side. But if a ball goes wide, it lands too far left or right. A bit of a stretch, but it’ll do.

      • David L says:

        I don’t normally do TNY but I tried this one and didn’t find it particularly tough. Too many names and obscurities for my taste, but that’s Mr Asgard’s trademark (you’d think there would be more Norse gods in his puzzles).

    • David R says:

      I came here to see how enjoyable this puzzle was for everyone. It was the perfect level of resistance for me and I liked the idea behind it even though I hadn’t heard of one of the designers.

  7. PJ says:

    TNY – I got behind the chains quickly with WIND at 1a and NOTE at 3d.

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