Friday, January 20, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:30 (Matt) 


NYT 3:57 (Amy) 


Universal 5:03 (Jim P) 


USA Today 4:40 (Darby) 


Darby Ratliff and Rachel Fabi’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #39″—Jenni’s write-up

Inkubator themelesses are always fun and this one is no exception. I agree with the team’s ranking of this as lightly challenging.


Inkubator, January 19, 2023, Darby Ratliff and Rachel Fabi, “Themeless #39,” solution grid

  • TASTE THE RAINBOW. I was vaguely familiar with the LGBTQIA+ sense of this phrase so I did a Google search to look for some history and was completely overwhelmed with the merch. T-shirts, tote bags, underwear, condoms…
  • 9d [Cuties, e.g.] are MANDARIN ORANGES. Trademarked brand-name mandarin oranges, to be precise.
  • 30a [Kit, Addy, Molly, etc] are DOLLS. American Girl Dolls. Speaking of merch.
  • I enjoyed the near juxtaposition of PITBULL TERRIERS and DOGPILES.
  • I use ROLE PLAYING in my teaching all the time, although I wouldn’t call them GAMES. Not sure if the campaign strategy referred to is political or marketing.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I am delighted to learn about Fat BEAR Week at Katmai National Park. There’s a bracket!

Robert Greenfield’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 1 20 23, no. 0120

Been a while since I dipped below the 4-minute mark on a Fri NYT, I think. The Thursday New Yorker themelesses are still easier than an easy Fri NYT. This 68-worder might be the constructor’s debut

Did not know: 54a. [Best-selling Israeli author of “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, YUVAL NOAH HARARI.  Did not even know that Yuval was a (Hebrew?) name, but the crossings gave me all the letters. Here’s his Wikipedia page. He’s published a couple other popular-science sort of books.

Fave fill: “HATE TO EAT AND RUN” (slightly better with “I” or “we” at the front, but still colloquial), NOISOME (gotta love words that just plain look like they mean something entirely different), ZOOM LENS, TAHINI (bring me the hummus), COMBOVER, “NOT A BAD IDEA” (slightly better with “that’s” up front, but still what people might say), COZY UP.

Two things:

  • 34a. [Neologize], COIN A PHRASE. Yes, a neologism can be a newly coined word or an expression.
  • 18d. [Penny candy morsel since 1907], TOOTSIE ROLL. This is actually my favorite entry in the whole puzzle! We used to drive past the Tootsie Roll factory on the way to see my grandparents on the South Side of Chicago. I thought the factory had long since relocated, but it’s still there! I’m delighted to learn that. God knows who is eating those 64 million Tootsie Rolls made each day. It’s not me! Loved ’em as a kid, scarcely tolerate the candy now.

Four stars from me.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal crossword, “Religious Leaders”—Jim P’s review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) phrases whose first few letters spell out various religious leaders.

Universal crossword solution · “Religious Leaders” · Jeffrey Wechsler · Fri., 1.20.23

  • 15a. [Wine bottle opener named for an animal] RABBIT CORKSCREW. We owned one of these until it gave up the ghost from overuse.
  • 24a. [Song heard on Bastille Day] LA MARSEILLAISE. Never knew the title of the French National Anthem, but I’m happy to learn it.
  • 39a. [“This promise will be kept!”] “I’M A MAN OF MY WORD.”
  • 52a. [Pleasure experienced through another’s actions] VICARIOUS THRILL.

Nice. I especially like that each leader is from a different religion: Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity. The theme is pretty straightforward, so this is a nice touch.

The theme answers are long, as theme answers go, but there are only four of them, so I would’ve hoped to see some lively long fill. We get LIAISON, ANTES UP, and PRY INTO, but that’s about it. There’s nothing especially thorny, though, except maybe ETRE.

Clues of note:

  • 48a. [Offers chips, perhaps]. ANTES UP. On the tougher side, but a nice clue nonetheless.
  • 36d. [Period, for many a sentence]. END. Also tough. However, I got it from the crossings and didn’t even see it during the solve.

Not a lot to say about this puzzle, actually. The theme works and is nice enough, there’s just not a lot of sparkle beyond it. 3.25 stars.

Wendy L Brandes’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 1/20/23 • Fri • Brandes • solution • 20230120

  • 52aR [Chophouse order, and an apt title for this puzzle?] NEW YORK STRIP. The consecutive letters N-Y have been removed from the ends of words in the theme answers.
  • 20a. [Dinner roll that provides an unexpected boost?] ENERGIZER BUN (Energizer Bunny).
  • 27a. [Outlandish stories about Vietnamese soup?] PHƠ BALONEY (phony baloney). I tend to spell the original phrase phoney to parallel the spelling of baloney. I’m supposing the idiomatic sense of baloney is retained because this spelling—as opposed to bologna—is strongly associated with it. Plus, there’s the  explicit meat element in the revealer and somewhat gratuitously in 1a [Meet portion, or portion of meat] LEG.
  • 37a. [Valued at one fancy ballpoint?] COSTS A PRETTY PEN (costs a pretty penny).
  • 46a. [Golfers who just need to dance, dance before every drive?] TEE BOPPERS (teeny boppers).

Solid theme. Grid looks and feels a little SPARSE (7d).

  • 10d [Sterile work environs] ORS. Tried LAB first. Was impossible to know from the clue alone whether environs was plural or singular.
  • 39d [Tarzan creator’s monogram] ERB. Have not encountered this in a crossword previously. Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  • 53d [“… cut __”: end of a carpentry maxim] ONCE. Measure twice, cut ONCE.
  • 55d [Canvas shoe brand] KEDS. Thought this would be VANS.
  • 45a [Anklebones] TALI. Don’t forget this is Spelling Bee!
  • 61a [The “genu-” in “genuflect”] KNEE. Etymology from m-w: Genuflect is derived from the Late Latin genuflectere, formed from the noun genu (‘knee’) and the verb flectere (‘to bend’). Flectere appears in a number of our more common verbs, such as reflect (‘to bend or throw back,’ as light) and deflect (‘to turn aside’). By comparison genu sees little use in English, but it did give us geniculate, a word often used in scientific contexts to mean ‘bent abruptly at an angle like a bent knee.’ Despite the resemblance, words such as genius and genuine are not related to genuflect; instead, they are of a family that includes the Latin verb gignere, meaning ‘to beget.'”

Brooke Husic & Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s review

Circled letters highlight our theme — broken-up shades of red fill constitute the beginning and end of three themers, and our revealer, appropriate for Lunar New Year celebrations this weekend, is RED ENVELOPE [Traditional Lunar New Year gift … and a feature of three answers in this puzzle].

Themers are nicely evocative: noteworthy punk album MARQUEE MOON (“MAROON”), which, off the cuff, maybe I learned from a BEQ puzzle once upon a time; BRINKS TRUCK (“BRICK”), and RUBBER DUCKY (“RUBY”). Other highlights for me were the parenting-lensed ALL BETTER and GO TO BED, and YAO Ming, who really is a global icon for reasons beyond his Hall-of-Fame stats. I could do without the quasi-partial ESQUE [Suffix akin to -ish], but recognize the constraints in that corner, or wherever the -Q- of MARQUEE MOON was going to end up.

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “All the Things You Are”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme: Each theme answer is a phrase in which the first word begins with a U and the second begins with an R.

Theme Answers

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano's USA Today crossword, "All the Things You Are" solution for 1/20/2023

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “All the Things You Are” solution for 1/20/2023

  • 17a [“Group with superyachts and megamansion”] ULTRA RICH
  • 32a [“Hghest set of noes a singer can reach”] UPPER RANGE
  • 48a [“Bit of public feedback for an app”] USER REVIEW
  • 65a [“Workers who lead collective bargaining efforts”] UNION REPS

Under five minutes in this puzzle makes for a quicker-than-average solve for me. I thought it was a fun puzzle, really easy to move through, especially with the theme so apparent. As a concept, it was a nice play on the homophonic sounds of YOU and ARE in the puzzle’s title. I got a jumpstart on ULTRA RICH from CRUSTS, and I cruised through UPPER RANGE and USER REVIEW pretty easily. I didn’t think of shortening REPS at first in the final themer, but I plugged in UNION and let the crosses at ASLEEP, PEOPLE, and SALSAS do the rest of the work for me.

My personal natick on this one – and I think it’s a me-thing more than a puzzle-thing – was the cross at 57d [“Dentist’s co-worker, for short”] RDA and 70a [“Drag queen Ben ___ Creme”] DE LA. In retrospect, I should’ve inferred this, butI went through the alphabet until I got the congratulatory message. Speaking of crosses, I found a fun one where ALSEEP met NAPS.

There were not a lot of proper names in the grid itself, which I think helped my solve time. Answer-wise, it was really just 46a [“Capital of Bangladesh”] DHAKA, Ben DE LA Creme, and 69a [“First man in the Bible”] ADAM.

Anyway, very fun grid! Have a great weekend!

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19 Responses to Friday, January 20, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Yes, lots of great stuff in this puzzle and it fell fast for me, so highly reinforcing!
    I especially enjoyed the two talky entries: HATE TO EAT AND RUN, and NOT A BAD IDEA, along with RIPOSTES.
    The book, Sapiens, is sitting where I can see it daily and has been there for a while. I know it’s great and I need to carve out the time to read it. Nevertheless, the name of the author was not a gimme. I knew the last name sounded like Hariri (which is Lebanese name), and couldn’t recall the rest. So, I’m grateful to this puzzle for teaching it to me.
    Thank you for the fun solve!

    • huda says:

      PS. Amy, I enjoyed the tootsie roll video, especially the cartoon clip :)

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t remember Harari and wasn’t really aware of the book. (I’d a little streak last year of Israeli fiction by Yehoshua, Amox Oz, and David Grossman, but that’s different.) But other than that it felt easy for a Friday for better or worse.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      And then of course Friday I came across the name Yuval Ben-Ami on Twitter, plus another Yuval in the same thread … so now I definitely know Yuval is a given name.

  2. RCook says:

    NYT: Crossing an uncommon last name (HARARI) with another (OBERON) is just mean.

    • Mr. [just a little bit] Grumpy says:

      Not to mention the HAGEN/RAE crossing. The first could have been avoided by using the Shakespeare character [although Merle Oberon is not all that obscure, IMHO] and the second with reference to actress Issa.

      • Ed+B says:

        My one error was the E in Hagen, since GOT IT seemed just as relevant as GET IT for “See?” as a clue.

        • huda says:

          Same here, I went searching when I didn’t get the congratulations and found it.

        • JohnH says:

          I felt bad that I couldn’t simply drag Hagen from memory as his death is still so unsettling for me and burned in memory, and the novel clue for RAE was something I didn’t know. But I figured the only other plausible name was Hogan, and that felt too ethnically wrong for the part.

          • marciem says:

            As far as I can tell, Tom’s death was never filmed. He “died” because Duvall wouldn’t return for part III (salary dispute), and he was only mentioned once in that film.

          • sanfranman59 says:

            As marciem says, Duvall simply didn’t return for Part III. His character’s death is never portrayed in the films, though it’s mentioned in Part III. FWIW, the Wikipedia article about this character says that an author other than Puzo wrote two books published in 2004 and 2006 that cover the time between Parts II and III. Tom’s death is described in one of them.

          • JohnH says:

            So sorry. I was thinking of the suicide, of which the consigliere is an impetus.

  3. David L says:

    Well that was easy-peasy. It helped that I knew YUVALHARARI (although not his middle name) as well as Merle OBERON. I couldn’t remember whether the godfather name was Hagen or Hogan but RAE sremmurd fixed that. So I got lucky on the names this time.

  4. marciem says:

    NYT 60a… could someone explain how “Bee lines?” = seams


    Breezed through most of the puzzle until the bottom. Totally unknown name to me, that one… but the crosses were all fair and got me there with some lucky guesses.

    • Boston+Bob says:

      Sewing bee

    • John says:

      Yeah I’m assuming it’s referencing sewing bees, but IMO that’s a bit too oblique as a clue.

      • marciem says:

        I’m fine with quilting (sewing) bee reference… quilts have seams, and there was the question mark, so I’ll take the “Ya got me” on that :) . (I’ve never heard of a sewing bee, but quilting bees are common.)

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    Still more evidence of the Great Crossword Constructor Conspiracy … CHOW/CHOW MEIN appeared in three of my daily crosswords today (and clued in similar fashion).

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