Friday, January 6, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 6:06 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today 4:17 (Darby) 


Chandi Detmer’s Inkubator crossword, “Viva Forever (Spice Up Your Life)”—Jenni’s write-up

Took me a minute to figure out what was going on because I am too old for this theme to be in my wheelhouse. The theme answers seem straightforward except that the clues are all in quotes and more than the first word starts with an uppercase letter. Hmm.

Inkubator, January 5, 2023, Chandi Detmer, “Viva Forever (Spice Up Your Life)”, solution grid

  • 16a [“Wannabe”] is WHAT A POSER.
  • 23a [“Move Over”] is STEP ASIDE.
  • 34a [“Too Much”] is YOU’RE BEING EXTRA. I hear this from my kid as “you’re so extra.”
  • 46a [“Stop”] is CAN YOU NOT.
  • 57a [“Holler”] is GIVE A SHOUT.

It eventually dawned on me that the clues are all Spice Girls songs. Cute! I don’t know how old Chandi is. I’m sure these are all Golden Oldies for a number of the Inkubator crew.

A few other things:

  • 9a [Shapeless dress type] is a SACK. While any shapeless dress can be called a SACK, there was a specific silhouette popularized by Dior in the 1950s. I don’t know who it flattered.

Seriously. Who looked good in this?

  • 30a [Bookmark] is FAVE. A noun referring to a website.
  • is worth checking out.
  • I enjoyed ITS A DOOZY because DOOZY is a fun word.
  • [Site see] is a good clue for SURF.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ALEXA has a witty rejoinder to the question “Do you have any pets?”; that EZRA Koenig appeared in “Vampire Weekend”; that “….Baby One More Time” is the most iconic video of all time according to TRL.

Erica Hsiung Wojcik’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 1 6 23, no. 0106

Kinda on the hard side for a Friday? The center row featured [Leading disability rights activist in the 2020 documentary “Crip Camp”], JUDITH HEUMANN, whom I’d never heard of. I’m glad to learn about her, as she sounds like a real badass!

Nice to see WILCO, which recently played three shows at Carol’s Pub in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, not at all the sort of place that often hosts such big-name acts.

Fave fill: “Don’t worry, IT’S JUST ME,” FUR BABIES, KNEE-DEEP, COURTSIDE SEAT, RIO GRANDE, JR. PAC-MAN, John TURTURRO (so good in Severance), LOVE SCENE, SWOLE, and EPIDURAL. Service journalism time: If you should find yourself with the worst headache ever when you are upright after receiving epidural anesthesia, tell your nurse and doctor that you might need a blood patch for the spinal headache. I found out the hard way!

Fave clue: [What might roll in the leaves], ACORN.

Four stars from me.

Rich Katz and Jeff Chen’s Universal crossword, “Moving On”—Jim P’s review

Theme: IT’S NOT YOU IT’S ME (53a, [Classic breakup line … and phonetically, a correction needed to understand the starred clues]). Clues to the starred answers need to have a letter U replaced with the letters ME.

Universal crossword solution · “Moving On” · Rich Katz and Jeff Chen · Fri., 1.6.23

  • 20a. [*Optimally, they arrive before the eleventh hour] RELIEF PITCHERS. Homer.
  • 25a. [*Cherished childhood mounts] FIRST STEPS. Moments.
  • 38a. [*Two companies might do it after urging] REBRAND. Merging.
  • 47a. [*Prius, for the most part] ODD NUMBERS. Primes.

Nice theme! The clues were well-crafted so that at first you couldn’t be sure (at least I couldn’t) that something was off. It really took me getting to the final theme answer to realize that something was definitely not right. The revealer was therefore a welcome find which provided the much-needed aha moment.

Also nice are those two stacks of 10s in the NW and SE. NO BRAINER / TIME TRAVEL and PRAYER MATS / POLAR BEARS. Those are stacks almost any constructor would love to have, and to get two such stacks is a treat for solvers. I will say “boo” to BOO AT though.

Clues of note:

  • 18a. [Get rid of some pot stickers?]. SCOUR. Ha. This sure looked like a clue for EAT.
  • 36d. [Eve’s taste bud?]. ADAM. Cute.
  • 57d. [“Uhh … wrong!”]. “UM NO.” “Uhh” and “UM” are too close to not be considered a dupe in my book.

Nice puzzle with a satisfying aha moment. Four stars. And congrats to new constructor Rich Katz on a nice debut!

Geoff Brown’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 1/6/23 • Fri • Brown • solution • 20230106

67aR [Not quite right, and an apt title for this puzzle?] AMISS. The theme is two-word phrases in which each first word has dropped its terminal letter A, for wacky results. (63a [Probably will, after “is”] APT TO.

  • 18a. [Deep dive into the statistics of a NY slugger?] MET ANALYSIS (meta-analysis). Ah, but metanalysis is a real thing, a linguistic term.
  • 23a. [Scotch drinker who complains about a small pour?] DRAM CRITIC (drama critic).
  • 37a. [So over a meaty spaghetti sauce?] PAST BOLOGNESE (pasta bolognese).
  • 50a. [One who stands in the way of a wager?] BET BLOCKER (beta blocker).
  • 58a. [Flushed condition?] FLORID STATE (Florida State). Initially I thought the original was not much of a phrase—a bit forced—but then I realized it’s probably referencing the university.

Decent theme, solid execution.

  • 6d [Tucci’s “Road to Perdition” role] NITTI. I hadn’t realized that it was based on real people and, presumably, real events.
  • 9d [European capital with more than 340 lakes] OSLO. New information for me.
  • 24d [Hammer home?] TOOL SET. Needed to wait to eliminate KIT and BOX.
  • 58d [Tower authority: Abbr.] FAA. My first thought was that it was AAA, for towing vehicles, but it’s more straightforward than that: aircraft control towers and the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • 1a [Peak in the Tour de France] ALP. Okay, I was going to let it lie, but at this point I need to mention just how much French stuff is here. 21d [French friends] AMIES. 35d [Bête __ ] NOIRE. 49d [Patisserie product] TORTE. 60d. [Après-ski option] SPA. Heck, I’ll toss in 54d [Soprano Fleming] RENÉE as well, even though she’s American.
  • 32a [Texting nicety] THX. Which is your preference, THX or TKS?
  • 43a [GPS display] RTE, 7d [GPS display] ETA.
  • 57a [Jelly Roll Morton genre] RAGTIME. He straddled RAGTIME and early jazz.

Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today crossword, “Tech Hubs”—Darby’ write-up

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme: Each theme answer contains TECH split between two words.

Theme Answers

Rebecca Goldstein's USA Today crossword, "Tech Hubs" solution 1/6/2023

Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today crossword, “Tech Hubs” solution 1/6/2023

  • 14a [“1942 holiday song that is the bestselling single of all time”] WHITE CHRISTMAS
  • 35a [“Subject of Just Stop Oil protests”] CLIMATE CHANGE
  • 56a [“Semi-sweet pancake mix-ins”] CHOCOLATE CHIPS

This was a great set of themers. CLIMATE CHANGE was relatively intuitive, even if you aren’t familiar with the Just Stop Oil protests themselves. CHOCOLATE CHIPS felt like a gimme with “semi-sweet” in the clue, and I loved the holiday fact about WHITE CHRISTMAS. It wasn’t until after I finished that I realized that TECH appeared in each, so it didn’t factor into my solve at all. Still, I enjoyed the theme.

I had an unusually difficult time with the NW corner of this grid, and there a few times that I felt like often-seen crossword clues like 1a [“Big parties”] BASHES or 23a [“Notable time period”] EPOCH did not refer to the usual GALAS or ERAS. It was a nice warning against settling into a routine, but I had to first get ACHOO / STILL / HIT / EVE before I realized that BASHES was the answer, delightfully crossing with 6d [“Unique quality that makes something successful”] SECRET SAUCE. The lower part of hte puzzle, on the other hand, was smooth sailing. I moved quickly through the across clues in the SW, enjoying especially the inclusion of 61a [“The ___ Project (LGBTQ youth nonprofit organization”] TREVOR. Here is also where I found the ERAS I initially thought belonged to 23a.

Other favourite fill included the hilarious 39a [“Cook way past well-done”] BURN and 52a [“Greek letter than looks like a sideways M”] SIGMA.

Have a great weekend!

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21 Responses to Friday, January 6, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: “Kinda on the hard side for a Friday?”

    I didn’t think so. The middle, especially the disability rights activist I’d never heard of, slowed me a bit. But I still finished a few seconds over my Wednesday average.

    I liked the puzzle, but most of the clueing was straightforward. The clues for ACORN, LOVE SCENE and EPIDURAL are creative.

    I could live happily without seeing SWOLE in a puzzle ever again. I have to admit it’s an evocative word; I just don’t care for the image it evokes.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I found it a bit harder than the average Friday. Took me longer to find a foothold and I had several stalls where I wandered around the grid looking for something I knew. I really enjoyed it – Heumann had totally fair crossings and the other two entries in the central stack were gettable at a good Friday level.

      • Eric H says:

        I should have said that NATATORIA was a gimme for me, though it might be a new word to a lot of people. And I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers, so TURTURRO was obvious just from the T.

    • PJ says:

      It seemed on schedule for me. The initial entries I had to change were MSPACMAN (I looked past the beanie and don’t recall JR) and ILLBEFINE.

    • Me says:

      This was one of the hardest Fridays for me in a while. A lot I didn’t know like JUDITHHEUMANN and JRPACMAN. The “J” cross for those two clues was the last square for me to fill in.

    • Gary R says:

      A pretty hard Friday for me. FUR BABIES, LEVEE and REM went in on the first pass, and after realizing I needed to change “epic” to OPUS, the NW was filled in pretty quickly. But it was slow going from there.

      I think I went oh-fer on people names today, so the center part of the puzzle slowed me down considerably. Didn’t help that I liked “delivery” before EPIDURAL. The cross at 35-A/35-D was my last letter. Guess I was focused on 35-D when I decided it must be mR PACMAN, and didn’t check to see if it made sense for 35-A – should have run the alphabet.

      In addition to clues others have cited, I thought the ones for WALDO and LEVEE were pretty good.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Medium-Challenging for me. I brought it in at about 6% above my 6-month median Friday solve time.

      I had lots of trouble and several bad guesses in the SW and don’t know the name ELLIE Greenwich, though I know a surprising amount of her music. Per Wikipedia, she also wrote “Be My Baby”, “Then He Kissed Me”, “Hanky Panky”, “Chapel of Love”, “Leader of the Pack”, and “River Deep – Mountain High”. Wow. I hope it’s not simply a reflection of my own narrow-mindedness (I’d sure like to think not), but it’s amazing and dismaying how often I don’t recognize noteworthy women’s names from that era that I really feel like I should know. Do other music-loving Boomers out here know this name? Please say it’s not just me!

      • Eric H says:

        I did know ELLIE Greenwich — she was a much-appreciated gimme in the SW — but it’s only been in the past few years that I learned her name.

        One of our favorite singers is Neko Case. I started listening to her in no small part because the afternoon DJ on the radio station I listened to circa 2005 was fond of her cover of “The Train from Kansas City,” a Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich song originally recorded by the Shang-Las.

        Songwriters in general don’t get enough recognition. I think it’s especially true of women songwriters. (If Carole King hadn’t had a successful solo career, would she be as well-known today as she is?)

        • Me says:

          I don’t know if women songwriters are less well-known than male ones. If pop songwriters aren’t also performers, it’s pretty rare that they become well-known names for the general public. I don’t know if Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich’s main songwriter partner, is any more famous than she is.

          I’m having trouble thinking of many non-performing songwriters who are household names: Burt Bacharach.
          Andrew Lloyd Webber. Maybe Jonathan Larson, who wrote Rent, but that’s in large part because of his tragic death. Maybe Holland-Dozier-Holland of Motown fame.

    • JohnH says:

      I found it very hard for a Friday. I got the center stack only with difficulty. Like others, I had to switch from Ms. Pacman. I then tried Mr., but _ UD _ TH was crying out for JUDITH, and Jr. seemed plausible enough. I’d never heard of the activist, and I had ASHEN, but HEUMANN rather than, say, NEUMANN seemed way out.

      Finally, though, I was completely stuck on the NE. Once I finally got SCENE, the clue seemed crying out for something racier, like “sex scene,” which didn’t fit. I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t have told you just what an EPIDURAL actually is, and the rest was just as hard. Oh, well. Glad to have done it.

  2. David L says:

    Interesting range of comments on this one — for me, it was about the easiest Friday ever gets. I didn’t know JUDITHHEUMANN but by the time I came to her name I had most of the letters already. Nothing really slowed me down.

    Inapt thought of the day: I looked at the clue “___Pippig, three-time winner of the Boston Marathon,” and the first name that popped into my head was “Peppa.” Oops.

  3. Chris Anderegg says:

    NYT. Crip Camp is a terrific documentary history of the disability rights movement. JUDITH HEUMANN was a key leader.

  4. Eric H says:

    LAT: “6d [Tucci’s “Road to Perdition” role] NITTI. I hadn’t realized that it was based on real people and, presumably, real events.” The movie is based on a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, but it incorporates a few real people like Frank Nitti (Al Capone’s cousin/bodyguard/successor).

    I struggled a bit to make sense of the wacky answers, and even after getting the revealer, it didn’t quite click. But the theme answers are all solid in a crossword wacky way.

  5. dh says:

    I hadn’t heard of Judith Heumann either, but as the crossings were falling into place a quick scan of the letters looked like “Judith the Human”; reminded me of the old Zap Comix of the 1960’s.

    Coincidentally, having been hit with an unexpected bout of insomnia, I watched “Road to Perdition” the night before last (well, technically, yesterday morning).

    I knew “Natatoria” right off the bat. When I was on the swim team in high school, there was a plaque commemorating the donor of our “Natatorium”. I thought it was a bit snooty. Why say a 5-syllable word when “pool” will do? (better in crosswords than on a plaque, IMHO).

    Did anyone else have trouble with the links today? My computer hung when I clicked them – I had to go to the source.

    • Eric H says:

      The links didn’t work for me.

      • Jack+R+Lewis says:

        The issue is with; Martin Herbach’s server does the .PUZ conversions, but it got a bad case of snowstorm-powerfail a couple of days ago. We’re all waiting for the power in his server’s neighborhood to be restored. Please continue to twiddle thumbs…

  6. John Howe says:

    I am having trouble with the website which stalls when I attempt to down load a puzzle with Across Lite.

    • Jack+R+Lewis says:

      The issue is with; Martin Herbach’s server does the .PUZ conversions, but it got a bad case of snowstorm-powerfail a couple of days ago. We’re all waiting for the power in his server’s neighborhood to be restored. Please continue to twiddle thumbs…

  7. Michael says:

    Just to put more clarity into Amy’s comment re: EPIDURAL. You should never have a severe headache after a correctly placed epidural. The headache may result from inadvertent dural puncture with an epidural needle, causing cerebrospinal fluid to leak due to gravity when you are upright. Lying down makes it better. While a blood patch is very effective, it is an invasive procedure and is typically not the first treatment modality. That being said, anecdotal evidence suggests many anesthesiologists find that non-invasive options are hit-or-miss and they ultimately end up doing a blood patch anyway (with patient’s consent, of course). So some forgo conservative management and offer the patch directly.

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