Friday, December 2, 2022

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 6:27 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today untimed (Darby) 


Scott Earl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 12 2 22, no. 1202

Solved this one on a laptop without Black Ink solving software so I used the NYT web interface and I really do not groove on it—so take my solving time with a grain of salt, and don’t assume this is Saturday-tough … unless it kicked your butt, in which case I’ll agree it’s a toughie! I did slow myself down with 1d, guessing HERE’S rather than MELBA toast, which ruled out MONSTER MASH and sent me elsewhere in the grid.

Lots of great fill here: That novelty song is stacked with the EDITORIAL “WE” and a LIFETIME BAN. “I CAN’T WATCH!” and “NO SPOILERS!” are fun. The bottom stack puts the terrific RECENCY BIAS atop a PHOTO CREDIT and MIND-READERS. Elsewhere, I liked “GREAT GAME!,” NORTH STAR, and K-POP.

20a. [Like Chicago, geographically], UPSTATE. True story: We Chicagoans call pretty much the entire state outside of the city and suburbs (and possibly the exurbs) “Downstate.” Freeport and Galena are well north(west) of Chicago, but I’d absolutely bundle them with all the places south of Chicagoland. I half suspect New York City does a similar thing—is western New York deemed to be upstate?

Four stars from me.

May Huang and Wendy L. Brandes’s Inkubator crossword, “They’re Doin’ It For Themselves”—Jenni’s write-up

Good morning! This puzzle gave a good start to my Friday. I had no idea what was going on with the theme until I got to the revealer, which was literally the last word. That’s where I like it.

The theme answers don’t appear to have anything in common:

  • 21a [*Potential site of treasure on the ocean floor] is a SHIPWRECK.
  • 25a [*Meaningful gesture that’s sometimes random] is an ACT OF KINDNESS.
  • 46a [*Tools used in rage rooms] are SLEDGEHAMMERS. TIL that there are “rage rooms.” And that there’s one nearby.
  • 52a [*Skyline] is the CITYSCAPE.

I looked for something inside the answers that would connect and couldn’t find anything. 69a solved the mystery. [One doin’ it for themself in a 1985 Eurythmics hit…and a lead-in to the first word of each starred answer] is SISTERSISTER SHIPSISTER ACTSISTER SLEDGE, SISTER CITY. The first is new to me. My husband, far more interested in war and transportation than I am, knew it immediately. A very solid theme that’s perfect for the Inkubator vibe.

A few other things:

  • At first I thought 5a was part of the theme. [History repeat ____] is ITSELF and that seems to go with the title.
  • 18a [Ornate wardrobes] are ARMOIRES. I don’t think of armoires as necessarily ornate. To me a wardrobe has two long doors and an ARMOIRE has two shorter doors above with drawers below.
  • Loved seeing DivaCup namechecked in the clue for TAMPON. I thought I’d provide a link to explain this to the uninitiated and that’s when I found out that Wirecutter at the NYT rated menstrual cups. I check Wirecutter before I buy suitcases or kitchen equipment. It wouldn’t occur to me to look there for menstrual supplies. Good going, NYT people.
  • 27d [Mandarin has four main ones] is TONES. May Huang is a translator working in Chinese and English. Sometimes you can tell who wrote what clue.
  • Trust the Inkubator to clue ONEAL with Tatum rather than Ryan or Shaquille.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above for rage rooms and SISTER SHIP. I also did not know that Prince declined a STAR on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

And of course I will leave you with this. Annie Lenox and Aretha Franklin. Watch it.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Have It Both Ways”—Jim P’s review

Theme answers consist of familiar compound words or two-word phrases where the first word and the second word (backwards) can be clued the same way.

Universal crossword solution · “Have It Both Ways” · Paul Coulter · Fri., 12.2.22

  • 17a. [Payment, forward and backward?] MONEY PIT. Both MONEY and a TIP can be a payment.
  • 25a. [Container, forward and backward?] TANK TOP. Both a TANK and a POT can be a container.
  • 37a. [Circle, forward and backward?] WHIRLPOOL. Both  WHIRL and LOOP can be a circle.
  • 52a. [Wintry, forward and backward?] COLD WAR. Both COLD and RAW can mean wintry.
  • 61a. [Capture, forward and backward?] TAKE PART. Both TAKE and TRAP can mean capture.

Really cool theme. I don’t know how you would go about finding phrases that match this pattern without poring over many, many potential entries. I guess you’d start by finding words that spell a different word backwards then see if those words are part of a compound word or two-word phrase. But you’d still have to go through a lot of entries just to find a few where the first word and second word backwards can be clued the same way. The end result, though, is pretty nifty, and a good idea well-executed.

I’m loving BUCKAROO in the fill. NECKTIE, IRKSOME, and SCOTTIE are nice as well. Not so keen on ER DOC, though it’s not exactly terrible. LOW CAL seems weird to me, too. If you’re going to shorten “calorie” to CAL, wouldn’t you also shorten LOW to “lo”?  I’m betting that little section could be tidied up by changing 33d CHU to THU, thereby allowing more options for 32a. But I feel I’m picking nits.

Clues of note:

  • 22a. [Like diet soda]. LOW-CAL. Maybe, but it ain’t exactly healthy, either.
  • 5d. [Like the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay]. NEPALI. Well, like all Sherpas, really.

Fun theme and good fill. Four stars.

Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/2/22 • Fri • Stillman • solution • 20221202

The letter N is suffixed to words in phrases to wackify them.

  • 17a. [Preference for the center of the road?] MEDIAN BIAS (media bias).
  • 29a. [Where a Met singer reclines between arias?] OPERA DIVAN (opera diva).
  • 46a. [Cereal that has amazing health benefits?] WONDER BRAN (Wonder Bra).
  • 61a. [Hotel choice leading up to Eid al-Fitr?] RAMADAN INN (Ramada Inn).

It all works well. No fancy flourishes such as banishing Ns from the rest of the grid—and that isn’t an indictment of any sort.

  • 4d [“Pretentious? __?”] MOI. Love the wryness in the clue.
  • 11d [Mathematical concept based on a digit’s position] PLACE VALUE, 28d [Developers’ purchases] VACANT LOTS, which also have place value.
  • 23d [Judy Blume books, e.g.] KID LIT. Is this synonymous with YA fiction?
  • 26d [Dey-time drama?] LA LAW, a reference to Susan DEY, a crossword staple.
  • 39d [Flat-changing tool, once] TIRE IRON. This came up last week and generated some discussion. Still used for many bicycle tires, though.
  • 14a [Labor alliance] UNION. In the news lately.
  • 26a [“Pumice-powered” soap] LAVA. Also in the news.
  • 64a [Moreno of “West Side Story”] RITA. She played the role of Anita in 1961 and of Valentina in the 2021 remake. 65a [Jazz singer Anita] O’DAY.

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “Primary Funds”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: The first word of each theme answer is a type of fund.

Theme Answers

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano's USA Today crossword, "Primary Funds" solution for 12/2/2022

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “Primary Funds” solution for 12/2/2022

  • 17a [“Labyrinth with green walls”] HEDGE MAZES
  • 31a [“Publisher’s stack of unsolicited manuscripts”] SLUSH PILES
  • 46a [“The Black Panthers’ community survival programs, for example”] MUTUAL AID
  • 64a [“Team-building exercise that ends with a catch”] TRUST FALL

I thought that these themers were particularly fun and clever. I loved filling in HEDGE MAZES, especially with the crossing 18d [“Fortniters, for example”] GAMERS and 7d [“Agave-based spirit”] MEZCAL. MUTUAL AID was also really well done in that “community survival programs” helps you to get to MUTUAL AID and you get the historical fact of the Black Panthers’ administration of such programs if you weren’t already familiar.

This puzzle had a visually appealing symmetrical structure in its diagonal waves down the center. I moved through pretty slowly today, held up by a couple of the names I was unfamiliar with, like AILEY and DEE (but getting them on fair crosses). I liked the progression of 58a [“Annual ___ shots”] FLU to 60a [“Botch”] FLUB, which reminded me a bit of Anigrams. BAE, I’M FREE, and VEXED were some of my favourite fill.

Some Friday faves:

  • 11d [“Like Madame Tussauds sculptures”] – Wax replicas freak me out so I’ve never been seen a Madame Tussauds’ LIFESIZE figures.
  • 42d [“Accompany to the airport, for example”] – It’s always nice to SEE OFF someone when they travel, especially given how chaotic traveling can be.
  • 63d [“Track star Shelly-___ Fraser-Pryce”] – Shelly-ANN Fraser-Pryce is a Jamaican track and field star who has won three gold medals at the Olympics. At 35, she was also the oldest sprinter to win a World Championship title when she did so in 2022.
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15 Responses to Friday, December 2, 2022

  1. Jenni Levy says:

    Western NY State is definitely “upstate” to us NY City-oriented folks. I grew up just north of the city in Westchester County and did not really grasp the full geography of the state until we moved to eastern PA and I realized that driving to my in-laws in Rochester, NY took us mostly due north and a little bit west – and that there’s a good bit of NY State west of Rochester. In my head, Ohio started just a little west of the Hudson River, I guess. And yes, I did have a poster of that classic New Yorker cover on my wall in college. Why do you ask?

    • Jenni Levy says:

      My husband, who grew up in Rochester, points out that all of NY State is indeed north of NYC, so that calling Buffalo “upstate” is not quite equivalent to calling Galena upstate. He offers this question as a better analogy: do people in Albany call Binghamton “upstate”?

    • pannonica says:

      If you asked me where Buffalo or Batavia is I would definitely think Western NY first and secondarily Upstate. Pretty much anywhere else north of the lower Hudson Valley is Upstate.

    • Martin says:

      When I was a kid we moved from the Bronx to Yonkers. My relatives in Brooklyn and Queens said we moved upstate.

    • Milo says:

      Growing up in downtown Manhattan, I used to joke that my Upper West Side friends lived upstate!

      Fun puzzle.

    • dh says:

      I grew up in NJ but spent one of my college years in Elmira, which along with Corning was generally considered the “Southern Tier” (in fact, Rte 17 was and still is called the “Southern Tier Expressway”. I’ve always heard and considered “Upstate” to be the Hudson Valley region, up to Albany and then further north to Plattsburgh. I live in Rochester now, and think of the Syracuse/Rochester/Buffalo area to be “Western NY”.
      Then again, Maine is called “Down East”, so there’s that.

      I recently learned that “Buckaroo” is an anglicized mispronunciation of the Spanish word for cowboy, “Vaquero”,

      • David L says:

        Having recently moved to Maine, I have learned that Down East doesn’t refer to the whole state, only to the southern part (with south-facing coast) that’s adjacent to Canada. It’s the easternmost part of the state and it’s below the bit that’s above it, ergo Down East.

  2. Gary R says:

    NYT: I thought this was a fun puzzle. More-or-less normal Friday time for me. I was slowed down a bit by sticking with “carrot” too long at 19-A (couldn’t bring the lyrics to mind) and “Midwest” at 20-A.

    The only complete unknowns for me were AMY’S meatless foods and TASHA Smith. Crossings for both were reasonable – so, no problem.

    Liked all of the long across entries.

    • Mutman says:

      I sang the lyrics to ‘Frosty’ to get BUTTON rather easily :)

      Good puzzle. NW was tough for me.

    • JohnH says:

      I was lucky and guessed MONSTER MASH and MELBA, ruling out “carrot” before I got to the clue. Otherwise, the image in my head would definitely have had me clinging to it.

      Besides, AMY’S and TASHA, I also didn’t know Moriarty, STETSON, and GOPRO (or, once I had iy, know what it was). So the W, especially NW, was my last to fall.

      I don’t feel guilty and narrow-minded one bit for “upstate NY,” quite aside from language being arbitrary to begin with. NYC snottiness aside, you really do have to drive a hefty distance north first to get to western New York State. Isn’t its very southern border about the same latitude as that of Massachusetts, so you have to leave the equivalent of CT and RI behind? I associate Buffalo with cold anyhow, not without justification. Think of the record snow for this time of year recently. On my first visit, it was also 0 deg F. I’d a brutal walk from wherever I began to the Albright-Knox Gallery (just renamed Buffalo AKG, sounding awfully institutional), a museum with a major collection of Abstract Expressionism and other postwar art.

  3. Ed says:

    “Monster Mash” was once deemed too morbid? And I thought today’s censors were over the top.

    Not being from NY it took me many years to realize that EVERYTHING outside the city proper was “upstate”

  4. Dallas says:

    I was today years old when I learned what a “minced oath” (or “mild oath”) was… I kept wondering if I had something wrong in my crossings…

    • Lois says:

      NYT: Dallas, I was just coming here to say that I wish I would have added an extra half-star for minced OATHS. Love it! And I learned another phrase from you, “I was today years old.”

  5. Mister [Not At All] Grumpy says:

    NYT: very easy
    LAT: very funny [especially Wonder Bran]
    UNI: very nice word play
    TNY: very out of my wheelhouse but fair crosses and thus enjoyable

Comments are closed.