Friday, April 7, 2023

Inkubator 4:17 (Sophia) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 5:03 (Amy) 


Universal 3:38 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:35 (Darby) 


Lindsey Hobbs’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4 7 23, no. 0407

I like seeing “THAT’S A TALL ORDER” as the middle Down entry and the TALLest answer in the puzzle. Other fave fill: HAM IT UP, DELIGHTS (who doesn’t like delight?), TOP BANANA, EASY-PEASY, DODGED A BULLET, SWEET-TALK, KID GLOVES, FREEBIES, TORPID (I’m partial to those -OR nouns and their -ID adjective versions, and all the inconsistencies the English language brings to them–why horror/horrid but not terror/terrid?), the redundancy of MOLTEN LAVA (if it’s not molten, it’s not lava), and old-timey JALOPY.

Couple clues I liked:

  • [Dough in Mexico] to clue MASA, a literal corn dough, rather than PESO, with dough as slang for money. The clue is completely straightforward, but it feels like a trick since we get “dough” in plenty of currency clues meant to be playful.
  • [Montana player], CYRUS. As in Hannah Montana, played by Miley Cyrus, and nothing to do with the state of Montana or football’s Joe or rap’s French.

Not so keen on the dreaded “AH ME,” the non-idiomatic DO NOT GO and NO I.D., stale ALBS and UTNE.

Overall a fun ride. 3.75 stars from me.

Ella Dershowitz’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 4/7/23 • Fri • Dershowitz • solution • 20230407

Note the pre-circled squares.

  • 55aR [Tiny amounts of progress depicted four times in this puzzle?] BABY STEPS. The associated across entries end with words that are names of types of baby critters, and they step upward.
  • 23a. [Fritterlike side with fried catfish] HUSH⸗PUPPY⸗
  • 27a. [“La La Land” Oscar nominee] RYAN ⸗GOSLING⸗
  • 45a. [Blue Apron offering] MEAL ⸗KIT⸗
  • 54a. [Roomba target] DUST ⸗BUNNY⸗

All good here. I definitely recall a ‘baby animals’ theme within the past few years, but it didn’t have this added dimension.

I’m reminded of the Baby Teeth typeface introduced in 1964 by Milton Glaser, especially because of the name and the stepwise profile of its E character.

  • 6d [ __ shop] POP-UP. Contains the sequence P-U-P reversed in the theme material for PUPPY, which is slightly distracting but not a party foul.
  • 11d [Emphatic letters, for short] ITALS. Can’t recall seeing this relatively common formulation in a crossword prior.
  • 32d [Time for a costume from a boo-tique?] HALLOWEEN. Oh, big groan.
  • 46d [What many modern plays lack] ACT TWO. So they just go right to the third one, eh?
  • 9a [Dog breed of Tokyo’s Hachiko statues] AKITA. The only Japanese dog breed known to crosswords™ appears again.
  • 17a [Giddy] SLAP HAPPY.
  • 40a [Con artist?] FORGER. Works a few ways. Nice clue.
  • 60a [Origin of the street food koshary] EGYPT. It’s the nation’s national dish. Wikipedia describes it thus: “A traditional Egyptian staple, mixing pasta, Egyptian fried rice, vermicelli and brown lentils, and topped with a zesty tomato sauce, garlic vinegar and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. It is often served with sprinklings of garlic juice; garlic vinegar and hot sauce are optional.”

All right, both today’s and yesterday’s crosswords await for me.

Freddie Cheng’s Universal crossword, “Down to Earth”—Jim’s review

Theme: Things that are GROUNDED (56a, [Well-balanced and sensible, and what 20-, 32- and 41-Across should be]), using a different sense in each case.

Universal crossword solution · “Down to Earth” · Freddie Cheng · Fri., 4.7.23

  • 20a. [Retired boomer?] CONCORDE. “GROUNDED” as in literally no longer allowed to leave the ground.
  • 32a. [Wiring enclosure] JUNCTION BOX. Electrically GROUNDED.
  • 41a. [Overindulged kid] SPOILED BRAT. “GROUNDED” as in not allowed to go out with friends.

Nice. Again, each entry uses the word in a slightly different sense even if all the meanings stem from the same origin. I’m not sure that the word “should” (in the revealer’s clue) really applies to the first entry, so I guess a little leeway is required, but the other two definitely should be GROUNDED.  (The CONCORDE was GROUNDED due to rising costs, a decrease in air travel after 9/11, a lack of continued development, and AirBus ending maintenance support. A new fleet of supersonic planes is in development by Boom Supersonic.)

With only four theme answers and two of them on the shorter side (eight letters), there’s plenty of room for long fill answers, including a rare double set of Down grid-spanners: GOING INTO HIDING and SPRINGBOARD DIVE. Other goodies include RAIN GOD, HOT AIR, ARIZONA, and “OK, I GIVE.”

Clues of note:

  • 46a. [Frat guys]. BROS. We also would have accepted [“The Super Mario ___ Movie”] which just came out and is getting 54% on the Tomatometer but with a 96% Audience Score.
  • 67a. [Like the Crying Cat Face emoji]. SAD. 😿 I guess it needs some scritches under its CHIN [Place to give a cat scritches].
  • 11d. [“John Wick” star Reeves]. KEANU. No spoilers please. I haven’t seen the latest one yet.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “Start Button”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme: The first word (the START) of each theme answer can follow BUTTON.

Theme Answers

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano's USA Today crossword, "Start Button" solution for 4/7/2023

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “Start Button” solution for 4/7/2023

  • 19a [“Perfect minigolf shot”] HOLE IN ONE / BUTTONHOLE
  • 36a [“Video game realm ruled by Princess Peach”] MUSHROOM KINGDOM / BUTTON MUSHROOM
  • 52a [“Tally of kids on a field trip”] NOSE COUNT / BUTTON NOSE

I had a lot of fun with this puzzle. I filled HOLE IN ONE and MUSHROOM KINGDOM in pretty quickly, and I loved that this Super Mario realm is popular enough to make it as fill. Even for those who are not steeped in Mario or Nintendo LORE, the crosses here were really fair. NOSE COUNT was actually the last answer I entered, and while I’d filled in COUNT based off of the C in NAIL CARE, I needed the crosses for NOSE to help me out.

I was just talking about how it freaked me out that Harrison Ford has been DE-AGED for the newest Indiana Jones yesterday, so, obviously, I was ready to put in DE-AGED for 9d [“Made a 10-Down look younger on screen”]. 10d was, of course, ACTOR, and we added another one to our film adventures in this grid with 25a [“Spike Lee’s joints”] MOVIES.

A few other Friday faves

  • 16a [“Like the dessert naab vaam”] – Naab vaam is a delicious and colorful HMONG dessert drink. Here’s a recipe.
  • 23a [“Cozy place to read”] – One of the top items on my list this weekend is to find a little NOOK in my apartment and read.
  • 57a [“The protagonist of ‘Miyazaki’s ‘Porco Rosso,’ for one”] & 58a [“‘Porco Rosso,’ for one”] – I love the doubling down in these successive clues for PIG and ANIME, adding to the film fill.

Overall, great Friday puzzle!

Sara Cantor’s Inkubator crossword, “Diva Cups”—Sophia’s write-up

Theme: The names of five famous female singers are placed in “cups” throughout the grid. There’s DIANA Ross, CELIA Cruz, ADELE, JANET Jackson, and LORDE.

Inkubator, 04 07 2023, “Diva Cups”

This feels like a theme that was created to suit the title, if that makes sense, but there’s nothing wrong with that! I loved the wide variety of genres/eras covered by the women here. It was a little off putting that ADELE and LORDE have their “full” names in the puzzle while others just get their first names, but that’s a very nitpick-y note on a solid theme – there are only so many five letter singers, after all.

The shape of the theme answers dictates the black square layout, which led the puzzle to feel a little choppy. In fact, solving it felt more like solving 6 mini puzzles with some loose connections. It’s a striking grid design, though, and I like that Sara avoided having too many three letter answers in the corners.

Favorite fill: The whole SPORCLE/POKEDEX/APRICOT corner really spoke to me :)

Favorite clues: [Top story] for ATTIC (I’ve seen this clue before but it gets me every time), [Come together?] for CARPOOL, and [Pot holder?] for BONG.

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12 Responses to Friday, April 7, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: I agree it was a fun ride. I had never heard the 2017 hit HAVANA — or even heard of it — until two days ago, when it came up in another crossword puzzle. (I listen to a fair amount of Latin American music, but Camila Cabello is new to me.) That song crossing PLANO, which we drove through this afternoon, made the NE corner EASY-PEASY.

    Not that the rest of the grid was particularly challenging. Maybe the thing that most slowed me down was having BoLBO Baggins.

    I disagree that MOLTEN LAVA is redundant, at least in common usage. I checked the American Heritage Dictionary and Merriam-Webster, and both say that “lava” can mean molten rock from a volcano “that has cooled and hardened.”

    I wanted to rate this puzzle, but the rating pop-up for the NYT puzzle doesn’t seem to be there, though the pop-ups are there for the rest of today’s puzzles.

    • Me says:

      Camila Cabello is really more of a pop artist than a Latin artist, although she has embraced her Cuban-Mexican heritage in her music. But she was discovered on the X Factor and put into a manufactured teen band by Simon Cowell called Fifth Harmony before she went solo.

      It’s a bizarre coincidence that HAVANA would come up twice so close to each other, and clued the same way.

  2. Kurt says:

    Unable to rate the NYT puzzle.

  3. Seth Cohen says:

    NYT: Can someone explain why “Cameo appearance?” is OVAL?

    Edit: Oh, a cameo is an oval piece of jewelry. Never heard that before.

  4. Mary+A says:

    I’m not an overly sensitive person and generally ignore the controversies over “woke”language, but “dodged a bullet” doesn’t sit right with me. In this gun-fetishizing country, the phrase no longer seems an innocuous metaphor but a real possibility.

    • Eric H says:

      Good point. It didn’t bother me when I got that answer, though I have been put off by puzzles that have “funny” clues about guns. Maybe I was OK with DODGED A BULLET because the phrase has been used strictly in a metaphorical sense for so long.

    • Mutman says:

      Better than not dodging a bullet.

    • JohnH says:

      I ran into trouble with the puzzle in the NE, with such things as the singer of HAVANA and the CYRUS clue. And I’m totally appalled at guns in America, police violence and mass shootings, blocking of gun laws by what I see as the party of death, and its latest efforts to enforce death in Tennessee. Yet the clue doesn’t bother me at all, and I can only ask for tolerance from others.

      Idioms are of course only manners of speaking, but this one seems not at all ever to have made light of shootings. Quite the opposite: it suggests escaping a very dire situation indeed. Recent events can only deepen its weight, not render it offensive. Besides, is the idea to eliminate the word BULLET? Shootings and excuses for them are not going away if we do. This seems to me like the woke strategy to too many real issues.

  5. David L says:

    Kind of heavy on the trivia today. Two Simpsons’ references and one from LOTR? There oughta be a law…

    Several missteps during my solve: PESO before MASA (new to me); NEUTERS before NEGATES; STEPON before SLAMON; APPEARS before EMERGES; YOOHOO before WOOHOO. Slower than usual solve but I got there eventually.

  6. Roger Miller says:

    Universal: GOING INTO HIDING and SPRINGBOARD DIVE go along with the “Down to Earth” theme. Thanks Freddie Cheng for a good puzzle!

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