Priyanka Sethi’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #36″—Jenni’s write-up
The Inkubator team thought this was moderately challenging and I agree with them. I’m sure my assessment was influenced by my lack of familiarity with the woman at 1a. My experience with the NW corner always colors my opinion of the puzzle.
Things I noticed:
- 1d [Football fake] is JUKE. I had the K and entered DEKE, which is apparently specific to hockey.
- 5d [Like some short texts] is ONE LINE. My kid is 22 and her idea of a short text is one letter (usually “k”).
- 28a [Fictional character who partially inspired the show “Survivor”] is CRUSOE, as in Robinson.
- 47d [Reading fundament] is ARSE. Loved the misdirection – it’s about the English city, not the activity.
- 53a [Digital design component] is NAIL POLISH. The digits on our body, not our screens.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: as I said above, I had never heard of JUNKO TABEI, the first woman to climb Mount Everest. Wikipedia tells me she was Japanese and was the first woman to ascend the Seven Summits. And there’s a mountain range on Pluto named after her.
Rafael Musa’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Oh! Constructor Rafa was interviewed twice this month during the Boswords Fall Themeless League–once regarding the Anigrams word game he developed, once as the featured solver. I tell ya, I’m a little disappointed that there wasn’t any Portuguese vocabulary in this puzzle!
I like the “just chill” vibe: PLAY IT COOL, HANG ON A SECOND, WAIT RIGHT THERE. Other fave fill: WIN THE LOTTERY, DRUNK-DIALS, IT CAN’T HURT, FAST-TRACKED, WE’RE DONE. On the other hand, “NO, NOT THAT” feels a hair un-idiomatic, just words you might say together but not a cohesive unit of meaning.
I like the [Uncapped] clue for BARE-HEADED. Hey, November is nigh. Wear a hat to keep warm, my children.
New symbol for me: 27D. [Currency whose symbol is ฿], BAHT.
Four stars from me.
Alexander Liebeskind’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
I confess it took me a few beats after completing the grid to understand what unified the theme answers beyond punnery. They each involve aspects of the legal system—and least in the punny part of each phrase.
- 18a. [Legal entitlement to be invisible] GHOST RIGHT (ghostwrite).
- 24a. [Constitutional section on entering through the chimney?] SANTA CLAUSE (Santa Claus).
- 38a. [Funds posted to free a rancher?] HAY BAIL (haybale).
- 48a. [Legal advice from Yoda?] JEDI COUNSEL (Jedi Council).
- 59a. [Court statements from chess players?] CHECK PLEAS (“check, please”).
These are … okay? Some of them seem kind of loose, merely associative. I’m also guessing—without verifying—that counsel and council share an etymology.
- 13d [N.L. East team] NATS. 67a [N.L. East team] METS. Nationals, Metropolitans.
- 26d [Catamaran mover] SAIL. Or is it WIND?
- 44d [“The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” star] ISSA RAE. Full name today.
- 54d [Go over well?] CHAR. Not sure whether I like this. The pun is cute, but is ‘go over’ right for the definition here?
- 28a [Hidden agenda] ANGLE. This was probably the toughest clue in the puzzle, relatively speaking.
- Oh wait, maybe this was: 36a [Many streams] VIDEOS.
- 64a [Ponte Vecchio river] ARNO. 16a [City known for cheese] PARMA.
Sooooo, that didn’t take up too much space, so let’s check on counsel/council, via m-w.
- counsel Middle English conseil, from Anglo-French cunseil, from Latin consilium, from consulere to consult
- council Middle English counceil, from Anglo-French cunseil, cuncile, from Latin concilium, from com- + calare to call — more at LOW entry 3
To me that looks like yes and no, but mostly yes.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Give Me a Break”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar phrases are re-imagined as literal descriptions of specific calendar days.
- 16a. [Christmas?] PRESENT DAY. The day when some people exchange presents.
- 26a. [New Year’s Eve?] LAST NIGHT. The last night of the year.
- 45a. [New Year’s Day?] FIRST DATE. The first date of the year.
- 59a. [Black Friday?] BUYING TIME. The time when people buy a whole bunch of crap.
Pretty straightforward once you get it, but it still held my interest all the way through. In short, breezy but fun.
The one thing still puzzling me is the title. Though I’ve tried, I can make no sense of it. If you’ve got an idea, please share in the comments.
With theme material on the lighter side, we’re offered up some nice long fill entries to compensate. Highlights include GAY ANTHEM, GREASE FIRE, “I MEAN IT!,” BUS RIDE, DONE FOR, PEEPERS, HATERS, and SADDLEBAG. Our basset mix definitely looks SAD-EYED on occasion, but she’s generally a happy doggo.
Clues of note:
- 39a. [“Slippery” tree]. ELM. I have never heard of a “slippery elm.” Apparently it’s native to the northeast and takes its name from the slippery feel of its inner bark.
- 5d. [Like last year’s memes]. OLD. Well, DANK didn’t fit.
- 9d. [Cracker brand used in mock apple pie]. RITZ. Huh. Never heard of mock apple pie either. Here’s a recipe to try. I give no recommendation, but the reviews are favorable.
Nice puzzle. Confusing title, though. 3.75 stars.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Double Back”—Darby’s write-up
Theme: Each theme answer has TWO (the double of the puzzle’s title) spelled backward and spanning the two words within each theme answer.
- 17a [“Intimate chat”] PILLOW TALK
- 39a [“Do what you said you’d do”] FOLLOW THROUGH
- 62a [“Sing-along songs at some piano bars”] SHOW TUNES
Form-wise, this grid is asymmetric, and, as I was solving, I could feel myself moving through as though it was a maze. I really enjoyed growing from the tight top with TUTU, AMEND, and PILLOW TALK stacked and then feeling the NE corner open up as WE MEET AGAIN crossed through into the middle section of the grid. As you might expect, I felt similarly about COCOA BUTTER. I held myself up because I first wrote AGAVE for 48a [“Baklava sweetener”] and then sugar, even though deep down I knew HONEY was correct. It was also really fun getting the pairs of TEL and TELL in 3d and 67a, as well as 1d [“Lightly touch”] TAP’s explicit synonym in 5d [“Synonym of 1-Down that’s 1-Down backwards”] PAT.
A few Friday faves:
- 2d [“One-named ‘Remember Me’ singer”] – I was unfamiliar with UMI, but their name was easy to catch on the crosses. UMI is a neo soul/R&B artist whose album Forest in the City was released earlier this year.
- 12d [“Scandalized refusal”] – I thought that GOD NO was hilarious here. The clue feels very chill in comparison with the vehement phrase it suggests.
- 18d [“Yoga pose named for the hero Virabhadra”] – Virabhadra is a WARRIOR incarnation of Shiva, and the name comes from the words for “hero” (Vira) and “friend” (Bhadra). You can read more of the story of Virabhadra here.
- 49d [“‘It’s late, but wanna hang out?’”] – I was in an airport at 4am when I solved this puzzle, so seeing YOU UP appear felt especially appropriate.
- 63d [“Acronym encompassing the Sapphic community”] – Looks like this is WLW’s puzzle debut! The acronym is short for “women who love women,” and as a WLW, I love it!
Overall, I really enjoyed this puzzle, and there was so much good stuff to find both as I was filled it initially and as I went back back through.
NYT: At the risk of sounding adulatory… I loved that whole conversation going on in this puzzle. All this waiting and playing it cool ended up well with winning the lottery.
You can excuse the drunk dialing that ensued.
It was fun all the way through. I’m looking forward to more from Mr. Musa.
Congratulations Rafael on an absolutely awesome NYT debut puzzle! I look forward to many more from you!
Somehow the conversation didn’t register with me (and a single puzzle sometimes does have similar clues in pairs to trick you). But a fun puzzle for sure.
A lot of crossword constructors are trying to be more inclusive regarding famous women who don’t get much recognition. Here’s a woman that most of us have probably never heard of.
Yes, Jess is doing really great work! That’s a great profile of her.
LAT – incredible 54D clue
I beg to differ. Charring a cut of meat or whatnot will blacken its surface, but that does not make it well done. It can, however, be well done without being charred.
i don’t disagree with any of that, but i read the clue as: if you go over (exceed) well (well done) then the end result might well be described as “charred”
Ah, fair enough. Thanks for that.
I’d call that searing the meat. Charred to me means burnt.
Thanks, Jenni, for the info on Zulema. I hope she’s lurking on this blog and knows she’s missed.
I’d been wondering quite a bit about Zulema and worried about her health. I don’t see the report from Jenni anywhere though, at least not in today’s post.
It was yesterday.
NYT took me a lot longer than it needed because I had UIE for one-eighty and ADULATING for excssivley admiring for quite a while. That made the middle of the puzzle quite a challenge until I started filling in the rest of the puzzle.
NYT – Nice fun puzzle. Cool vibe. I don’t usually care much about day of the week but my time on this one was more of a Tuesday. I’d like more resistance on Friday.
Jim P – About the title, many employees are given these days off from work. So they’re a break. BTW, I love the doggy pic in your review.
This started as a 21x. Just to get the others out there in the crossverse, the original submission had some more like:
SENIORMOMENT – Grandparents Day?
ROMANTICDATE – Valentine’s Day?
GREENSPAN – Earth Day?
FLIGHTTIME – Passover?
LATEHOURS – Dia de los Muertos?
WORKPARTY – Labor Day?
RITEOFSPRING – Easter?
I’m pretty new to these puzzles but those holiday gimmicks sure were the bee’s knees (feel free to use that for insipiration!!!)
Have a good morning! :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
LAT; Pannonica wrote, “I’m also guessing—without verifying—that counsel and council share an etymology.” My dictionary suggests they don’t.
I worked as a manager at an agency called the Texas Legislative Council. There was an actual council, made up of members of the legislature. And there was the council staff.
Those of us staff who were lawyers generally had the job title “legislative counsel.” If a lawyer was applying for a job with us, one of the quickest ways to get the application rejected was to misuse “counsel” or “council.” (I know that sounds anal, but the job required great attention to detail.)
Ah, the counsel council! Dastardly.