Friday, September 23, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 4:49 (Darby) 


Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9 23 22, no. 0923

Had the timer off but it felt maybe harder than the typical Fri NYT? Erik’s a master of tricky cluing, so it wouldn’t be unexpected.


Three things:

  • 3d. [Cheek or backbone], NERVE. What a great trio of roughly synonymous body parts! A classic A(s)gardian clue.
  • 28a. [Neopronoun with a nod to folklore], FAE. Hadn’t seen that as a pronoun, but if you’re feeling definite fairy magic vibes, why not?
  • 31a. [Something not to look after?], LEAP. Because you ought to look before you leap rather than afterwards.

Four stars from me.

Shannon Rapp and Rose Sloan’s Inkubator crossword, “Garden Variety”—Jenni’s write-up

I enjoyed this puzzle! I figured out the theme early on and it was fun to solve, and then the revealer added a layer of pleasure. Nice all around!

We have rebuses. Rebi?

Inkubator, September 22, 2002, Shannon Rapp and Rose Sloan, “Garden Variety,” solution grid

  • 19a [Works such as Harryette Mullen’s “[Kills bugs dead.]”] are P{ROSE} POETRY. I am especially fond of the rebus crossing, P{ROSE}CCO. I discovered Aperol spritzes in Europe last June. Mmmm.
  • 28a [Knitting technique named for part of the Shetland archipelago] is FA{IR IS}LE crossing STILL {I RIS}E. I was surrounded by preppy women in college and for years I thought these were FERILE sweaters. Geography is not my deal. And if you’re wondering, this what they look like.

  • 44a [Hidden bonus in a video game] is an E{ASTER} EGG crossing M{ASTER}PIECE.

The revealer at 57a made me smile. [Decorative planters…or a description of three squares in this puzzle] are FLOWER BOXES. This is my idea of a good rebus theme. The rebuses are all different, so I have to figure them out. They’re not symmetrical; I like the challenge of that. All the crossings use the rebus word in solid, in-the-language entries.

I always enjoy and appreciate the Inkubator vibe. What other puzzle would have a preppy sweater as a theme entry? Plus we’ve got Harryette Mullens, Maya Angelou, a Taylor Swift song, a reference to the Pink Tax, and Girl Scouts. I probably missed some. Wow, what a difference it makes in my solving experience.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: SO MANY THINGS. Never heard of the Sandy Tolan book referenced in 1a, which sounds fascinating. Did not know that HAIM was somehow connected with “The Wire.” Had never heard of Harryette Mullens, ELI Clare, or “Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating.” A good puzzle and a bunch of additions to my reading list! Bonus.

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

LAT • 9/23/22 • Fri • Johnson • “I’m Out” • solution • 20220923

The central revealer certainly helped, and hastened my solve.

  • 37aR [“Peace!,” and a hint to how the answers to the starred clues were formed] I’M OUT. That is, the bigram IM is removed from the original phrases.
  • 17a. [*Blazer to wear to Cub Scout meetings?] DEN JACKET (denim jacket).
  • 23a. [*Music for couch potatoes] SEDENTARY ROCK (sedimentary rock).
  • 45a. [*Professional who helps name timeline segments?] AGE CONSULTANT (image consultant).
  • 54a. [*Stance taken by a Marvel character, perhaps?] SUPER POSE (superimpose). I liked how ‘superhero landing’ poses were mocked in Black Widow and Deadpool.

These are all right, but I’ll call partial foul on the last, since superpose is a word, one of whose senses is the same as superimpose. My main association with superpositioning is with four-dimensional hypercubes—tesseracts.

Another minor ding is the IM appearing prominently in the non-theme long entry 11d [Specialist in body language?] PANTOMIMIST—that it has a playful question-mark clue exacerbates the idea that it might be theme-related.

  • 1a [“More or less”] SORTA, 8d [Much, casually] LOTSA.
  • 16a [Withering look] GLARE. Having STARE here janked things up for a while. Fallout from that included SSH for 9d [Annoyed sound] UGH.
  • 30a [Acute anxiety] ANGST. Not convinced ‘acute’ is accurate here. Just checked etymologies and it turns out that angst and anxiety—seeming cognates—have different origins. The former derives from Old German while the latter is from Latin, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s been some intermingling over the centuries.
  • 62a [Pitching area] SALES. Good clue.
  • 3d [“The Villain in Black” rapper MC __ ] REN. First time I’ve seen this alternative to the animated chihuahua.
  • 18d [First Nations people of Canada] CREE. This is always CREE.
  • 41d [Cried for cider?] ANAGRAM. This fooled me.

Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock’s Universal crossword, “Doesn’t Stand for It”—Jim P’s review

Our theme consists of famous people whose initials are also common initialisms, but as used in the clue, the initials don’t stand for what they normally stand for (hence the title). Got it?

Universal crossword solution · “Doesn’t Stand For It” · Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock · Fri., 9.23.22

  • 17a. [This D.J. likes big hits!] DEREK JETER.
  • 27a. [This A.C. gives me a chill!] AGATHA CHRISTIE.
  • 43a. [This F.M. is known for playing rock!] FREDDIE MERCURY.
  • 59a. [This P.R. was for the American Revolution!] PAUL REVERE.

I thought this was a nifty theme. Lots of wordplay going on, especially in the first two entries, mainly because the clues as written could be applied to their original respective entities. (That is, one could say “This disc jockey likes big hits,” or “This air conditioner gives me a chill”.)

The other two don’t work that way, unfortunately. One wouldn’t say “This F.M.” or “This P.R.” when referring to an FM station or a PR campaign.

Despite that, I had no problem granting the theme a little leeway, and I still enjoyed it since it felt fresh. For fun, I tried to find some others. How about “This SO stands by her man,” (Sharon Osbourne) or “This MD knows how to get your blood pumping,” (Miles Davis)? Can you add some more?

In the fill I loved the nerdy “MAKE IT SO” [“Carry out your orders,” to Captain Picard]. Other goodies: SORCERY, TIDE POD, and DAINTY. The rest of the fill seems exceptionally clean, and with fun, fresh clues throughout, the solve proceeded smoothly.

Not much else to say other than this was an enjoyable puzzle despite my nits. Four stars.

Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Bye Bye Bye”–Darby’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each theme answer starts with a homophone of BYE.

Theme Answers

Brooke Husic's USA Today crossword, "Bye Bye Bye" solution for 9/23/2022

Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Bye Bye Bye” solution for 9/23/2022

  • 18a [“Support artisans from the area”] BUY LOCAL
  • 38a [“Goal of an annual Sept. 23 observance”] BI VISIBILITY
  • 60a [“‘Oh, meant to say…’”] BY THE WAY

This theme was easy to parse, though in my morning haze, I started to fill in SHOP LOCAL instead of BUY LOCAL at first. I love love love BI VISIBILITY in the center of this grid, and obviously, it’s super apt for today.

This grid is asymmetric, and I enjoyed how this resulted in some fun corners. I didn’t catch 4d at first, trying to fill in BREAK OUT SONG, but 34a literally HELPed OUT. I knew GUJARATI but couldn’t remember how to spell it, so that R in MARBLE was crucial.

A few Friday faves:

  • 38a [“Goal of an annual Sept. 23 observance”] – Just wanted to return to this because Bi Visibility Day began in 1999 to address bi erasure, “in which the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality (either in general or in regard to an individual) is questioned or denied outright,” per GLAAD.
  • 57a [“Nigerian singer Ayra”] – Ayra STARR is an Afropop and R&B singer and was ranked at number two on Billboard’s Next Big Sound in August 2021. There were plenty of songs mentioned in this puzzle, with “Bye Bye Bye” as the title, the two BREAKUP SONGs in  4d [“‘Ex-Factor’ or ‘Drivers License’”], and STARR‘s work, the latter of which has provided the soundtrack to my review writing this morning.
  • 50d [“Its motto is ‘Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ‘Aina i ka Pono’”]HAWAII’s state motto translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,” which is what King Kamehameha III is thought to have said in 1843 when the HAWAIIan flag was raised after a British admiral tried to claim authority over the land.

That’s all from me today! TA-TA!

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20 Responses to Friday, September 23, 2022

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Lovely puzzle!
    WHITE GAZE opened the NE for me, but I struggled in the NW. I got stuck thinking 1A would be ARGOT, and when I finally put in LINGO it opened right up.
    Some clues made me chuckle- e.g. “Washer dryer?”, and “Pisces not Aquarius” (why not?), and “Question to an indecisive pet”.
    “Cheek or backbone” to indicate NERVE are indeed terrific. It’s all about girding your loins, standing up to the threat and facing trouble- the physical opposite of turning tail…

    • Gary R says:

      I guess I got lucky – put in LINGO right away, so the NW came together quickly. Only three total unknowns for me – FAE, ALEC (total fail – didn’t know the actor, the character, or even the show), and GENDER EUPHORIA (but the GENDER part went in off of just the G). All the crossings were fair.

      Agree on lots of fun cluing. Solved last night, and the clue for NERVE didn’t click for me until I took another look this morning.

      • Eric H says:

        Just looked up Aldis Hodge in IMDb to see that the only movie I have seen him in is “The Ladykillers,” which is the worst Coen brothers movie. (And I generally love their work.)

  2. Tony says:

    Loved Eric’s clue for ONESTEPATATIME. Took a while for me to grasp it, but it was great.Also likes having LEAP cross that very answer, giving us leaps and bounds.

  3. Mark says:

    NYT: Best Friday of the year IMHO. Thanks Erik!

  4. Eric H says:

    NYT: So many witty clues! I’m happy when I get one or two clever clues in a puzzle (one that’s likely to be rejected in any case).

    In addition to the ones Amy, Huda and Tony mentioned, I really liked 51A “Record skip?” and 42D “Current issue?”

  5. David L says:

    On a first run through the clues I was looking at a whole of unfamiliar stuff, but e.a. deserves credit for making the puzzle doable anyway. In fact, knowing who made this puzzle allowed me to put in GENDEREUPHORIA (not a phrase I’d come across before) from the last five letters.

    One thing I don’t understand: ATOM is clued by “It’s often drawn with three ellipses.” Huh? Or is the answer A TO M, in which case I still don’t get it.

    • Eric H says:

      “Ellipses” as in the geometric shape. In the case of an illustration of an ATOM, the ellipses would be the electrons’ orbits.

    • Milo says:

      I was definitely on e.a’s wavelength today – filled in GENDER EUPHORIA from the G. With SISTER ACT and WATER SIGN, that was a very fun area to fill in.

      Great clues and great puzzle.

    • gyrovague says:

      NYT: Count me in as a fan of this puzzle and its clever clues. Must take exception, however, to 9-Down’s celebration of urban blight. Yes, I get that it’s not all gang-related, sometimes it’s expressing a viewpoint, yada yada yada.

      But given how big an eyesore the vast majority of graffiti is, and the untold hours and expense it takes to clean it up, it made me cringe to see it given the blanket title “art.”

  6. mani says:

    NYT. Great puzzle. Thanks Erik

  7. Taylor says:

    Thanks, Pannonica, for the write-up!

    Wanted to mention my crossword project, “lemonade disco”, to any constructors looking to get their puzzles out in the world!


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