Friday, May 19, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker untimed (Matt) 


NYT 6:06 (Amy) 


Universal 4:14 (Jim) 


USA Today untimed (Darby) 


Catherine Cetta’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #48″—Jenni’s write-up

Interesting grid! The puzzle was fun, too. It’s a lively and not particularly difficult themeless.

Things I noticed:

Inkubator, May 18, 2023, Catherine Cetta, “Themeless #48,” solution grid

  • MINI DONUT sounds yummy. Is it a thing?
  • 17a [“You must be kidding!”] is DONT MAKE ME LAUGH.
  • 40d [Cuddled front-to-back] is SPOONED. Are you the big spoon or the little spoon?
  • 46d [“Feed me”] is MEOW. Yup.
  • I filled in ELM ST from crossings and couldn’t parse it for a bit. It’s [Locale for a fictional nightmare].

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the ARAPAHO are know as the Hinono’eino.

David Distenfeld’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5 19 23, no. 0519

I’m pleased to report that I did not account for any of the views of BABY SHARK {1A. [Subject of the first YouTube video to reach 10 billion views (2022)]}. I have seen snippets of the video, but I’ve never heard the Katy Perry song whose left shark (dancer in costume on stage) failed wildly. I’m told the “Jamie Tartt” chant on previous seasons of Ted Lasso borrows heavily from BABY SHARK, but I sure hadn’t picked up on that.

Other fave fill: POSTHASTE, “SUH-WEET!”, DAREDEVIL, EMPTY NEST (it me), SUSHI BAR, “THE TALK,” SIDE EYE, HONOR ROLL, U.S. EMBASSY, BRUNCH MENU. Looking askance at “OH, NOW I SEE,” which feels less idiomatic than “oh, now I get it.”

Fave clue: 18A. [What often comes with a spoiler alert?], MILK. As in “this milk might start to spoil after the best-by date.”

Clue that could use additional info: 21A. [Fished with traps, perhaps], EELED. Well! I’ve watched plenty of the Naked and Afraid franchise, and I can tell you the survivalists in the wild have caught eels with a fishing line and hook in the Philippines, and they’ve speared electric eels (not technically eels, but very much electric) in the Amazon. Their fish traps always seem to target non-eel fish.

Four stars from me.

Bart Gold’s Universal crossword, “Spring Collection”—Jim’s review

A cute title and a cute theme today. The revealer is HOP, SKIP, AND A JUMP (65a, [Minor distance … or alternate clues for 17-, 27- and 49-Across?]). Those other three theme answers can indeed be clued with those three keywords…with a change in meaning, that is.

Universal crossword solution · “Spring Collection” · Bart Gold · Fri., 5.19.23

  • 17a. [Big social event in “Back to the Future”] HIGH SCHOOL DANCE. A hop.
  • 27a. [Zoom through, as a movie scene] FAST-FORWARD PAST. A skip. This one’s a little awkward with that “PAST” tacked on, but I guess it’s technically correct.
  • 49a. [AAA offering for stranded drivers] ROADSIDE SERVICE. And a jump.

Before I had uncovered the revealer, I was probably less than excited about that second theme answer. The third one, too, felt a little off since I hear the term “roadside assistance” more often. But when the lightbulb turned on and I enjoyed the aha moment that came with the revealer, it’s possible I may have smiled and all at once my nits evaporated. Nicely done.

Nothing longer than six letters in the fill today, probably because four grid-spanning theme entries mean any long bits of fill would have to cross at least two themers. But I can be content with the likes of VEEJAY, ARMPIT, OODLES, and SISTA.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Cross-country event]. MEET. Got off on the wrong foot here (pun sort-of intended) since I put in RACE at first.
  • 68a. [Apt letters missing from “l_ger a_ternativ_”]. ALE. I didn’t even bother with this one and just got it from the crossings since I wasn’t sure whether that starting letter after the first quotation mark was an L or an I.
  • 19d. [Axe target?]. ARMPIT. Ha! I think. We are talking about body spray and not murder, right?
  • 29d. [Kriss Kringle]. SANTA. This threw me. I’m more accustomed to seeing “Kris” vs. “Kriss.” Today I learned the name is a modification of the German Christkindl (Christ child).

Nice puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Alexander Liebeskind’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/19/23 • Fri • Liebeskind • solution • 20230519

Familiar adjectival phrases in which the Y-ending adjectives are more literal versions of nouns. That’s the best I can do in succinctly describing the theme.

  • 17a. [Building a fire without charcoal or lighter fluid?] STICKY SITUATION.
  • 23a. [Mountain of comfy shoes?] SLIPPERY SLOPE.
  • 37a. [Artichokes eaten first thing in the morning?] HEARTY BREAKFAST.
  • 48a. [“Should this potted plant go in the dining room window or the bedroom window,” e.g.] SILLY QUESTION.
  • 58a. [Relinquishing one’s noble title?] EARLY RETIREMENT.

That’s five very long theme answers in this 15×15 grid, which seems like an anomaly in recent crosswords.

I like this one; it’s simple and cute.

  • 6d [Antarctica, for one] DESERT. 7d [Unlike a 6-Down] RAINY.
  • 32d [ __ butter] SHEA. 53d [Like brown butter] NUTTY.
  • 33d [One-eighties] UEYS. This is my preferred spelling are you on Team Uie or Team Uey?
  • 34d [Violent vortex] MAELSTROMMoskstraumen is the ‘original’.
  • 46d [Open-book exams?] AUDITS. I’ve seen variations of this clue before, but I’m still entertained by it.
  • 54d [Minus] LESS, 65a [Basic math homework] SUMS.
  • 55d [Diamond Head locale] OAHU.
  • 1a [College-level HS English course] AP LIT. Don’t recall seeing this entry before. Looks strange in-grid, but is very ok.
  • 16a [Melodramatic sigh] AH ME. (I misremembered the song below as containing this phrase, but it turns out to be “ah, gee”. Since it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing that in a crossword any time soon, I’m going ahead and sharing it anyway.)
  • 29a [Dirty word?] MUD. OK, yup.
  • 62a [Oxford, but not Cambridge] SHOEAu contraire, I found several shoe models with that name, but of course it is not a widely known genre or style, the way an Oxford is.
  • Least favorite entry: 67a [Full of fluff] LINTY. This final entry merits that distinction not for anything per se, but because it’s too similar to the theme.

Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up

Brooke Husics New Yorker crossword solution, 5/19/23

We’ve got a theme using WNBA team nicknames, with some bonus long entries thanks to a mirror symmetry.

First, themers. I don’t think there’s a top-level league in North America that has better nicknames than the WNBA, and there’s plenty of fodder for something like this:

  • 4d [Freelancer’s proposed story on Indiana’s W.N.B.A. team?] FEVER PITCH
  • 11d [Columnists who report on Chicago’s W.N.B.A. team?] SKYWRITERS
  • 25a [TV broadcast about Phoenix’s W.N.B.A. team?] MERCURY PROGRAM
  • 55a [Newspaper devoted to coverage of Atlanta’s W.N.B.A. team?] DREAM JOURNAL

Clean and timely, with the season starting today. I’ll probably have my eyes on New York-Washington, with the Liberty looking like a superteam and the Mystics getting my favorite player Kristi Toliver back on their roster.

Bottom-half longer entries I SAID YES ([Words with a ring to them?]), BANHAMMER TABBOULEH, and FEMSLASH are all highlights for me.

Other notes:

  • 46a [Organizer of a noted couples’ cruise?] NOAH. This cluing angle used to trip me up a whole bunch; I now feel like I see it multiple times a month.
  • 62a [Part of a second date, perhaps] MEAL. “Perhaps” doing some interesting work there.
  • 71a [Nineteenth-century knockout] ETHER. There is a statue in Boston’s Public Garden called the “Ether Monument” and/or “The Good Samaritan,” commemorating the discovery. I always make sure to swing by it when I’m visiting the city.
  • 31d [Online-forum moderator’s metaphorical tool] BANHAMMER. This feels very much associated in my mind with a message board format that’s faded out in favor of Discord and Reddit. A lovely entry for me; I wonder if it’s going to fade from use in coming years.

Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword, “Start Sample”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme: Each theme answer begins with a word meaning simple, so they start simple.

Theme Answers

Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword, “Start Sample” solution for 5/19/2023

  • 16a [“Family-friendly stand-up”] CLEAN COMEDY
  • 29a [“Competition with mud and obstacles”] SPARTAN RACE
  • 45a [“It’s the least you can do”] BARE MINIMUM
  • 60a [“Cleveland newspaper”] PLAIN DEALER

All four themers are clear and clean themselves, covering a wide variety of areas. Of course, this puzzle had me at PLAIN DEALER (and well before), given my Cleveland roots (I was also pleased to see ERIE clued as 44a [“Great Lake near Buffalo”]). It was generally pretty easy to fill each of these in, though I needed some help with the first word of CLEAN COMEDY, getting the second pretty easily and hanging around for a couple of crosses on the first.

Squeezing four themers in segments the middle off a bit, with blocks above MOMENT and under ARRIVE that diagonally don’t let too much movement through. However, the middle still feels very connected and exciting.

Other fave fill included EXALT, OXYGEN, and 10d [“___ Heritage Month (May)”] AAPI.

This puzzle was far from HO-HUM and really provided a LIFT to my Friday.

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22 Responses to Friday, May 19, 2023

  1. Eric H. says:

    Team Fiend: Did Thursday’s ratings carry over to Friday’s puzzles?


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yep! Thanks for the heads-up. Fixed the date codes, and hopefully Dave will get a chance to relocate the misplaced votes on Friday.

      • Eric H. says:

        You’re welcome.

        Thanks again for all the hard work and time that y’all put into this site.

  2. Eric H. says:

    NYT: Lots of fun, if on the easy side. The MILK clue is classic, but there are a lot of great clues there.

    And all I know of BABY SHARK is the “Jamie Tartt” song from “Ted Lasso.” (Speaking of which, I really like how they have made Jamie so much less of a jerk than he was.)

  3. dh says:

    I did BEQ’s puzzle yesterday, but didn’t see a review or comment – I was wondering about 2D “Bar Projectile” = AXE. Am I missing some pun or alternate definition here? Where are these bars where they throw axes? In today’s Universal puzzle 19D “Axe Target” = ARMPIT. I am picturing some bar somewhere where patrons throw axes at each other’s armpits. I can’t imagine they do a lot of repeat business there. (Yes, I am aware that “Axe” is a body spray for men).

    • RCook says:

      Establishments to drink beer and throw axes are trendy now. Just search for “axe bar” and you’ll find quite a few.

    • Bart Gold says:

      Hi- it’s Bart from that Universal puzzle today. I can vouch that there are some bars where instead of, say, darts or an automatic basketball dunking cabinet game- that there are isolated batting cage type compartments where you can throw an axe at a wood target.

      But I agree with Eric- this would not be high on my list of attractions if I tried to open a business where alcohol is served.

  4. RCook says:

    NYT: This is my first exposure to the term YANKEE SWAP. Is this a regional term for a white elephant exchange?

    • Eric H. says:

      Yes. I had never heard it before, either.

    • PJ says:

      I know it as Dirty Santa

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Ditto … For me, the same goes for BABY SHARK, ARTIE and HICK, so that NW corner was a real bear.

      Other head-scratchers:

      I don’t think of a DARE DEVIL as a “hot dog” either. To me, that’s a term for someone who’s showing off, usually in an annoying way. I can see a loose connection between this and a DARE DEVIL, but it sure took a while to land for me.

      I gather that I’m supposed to know something about dating apps to understand the clue for DATE (“Result of getting side-swiped, perhaps?”). I kinda knew that the obvious answer (Dent) couldn’t be correct given that it’s a Friday and the clue has a question mark at the end of it.

  5. David L says:

    I struggled with the NW of the NYT because I had INANYCASE and then ATANYRATE before getting the right phrase.

    I was introduced to YANKEESWAPs when spending Christmases with friends in New England (where I now live). In the version I know, everyone buys a gift, under some price limit. You then draw numbers out of a hat to determine the order in which everyone chooses. First person chooses a gift and opens it. Second person does likewise, and then decides whether to keep what they got or exchange it with person number one. And so on down the line. So the person choosing last gets their pick of the bunch.

  6. Milo says:

    TNY: Before today I would have been hard pressed to name a single WNBA team off the top of my head, but I was still able to finish this one without a hitch. So kudos to Brooke and the New Yorker for pulling that off. Four stars.

    Favorite non-theme clue/answer was for 26-D.

    • Eric H. says:

      My time was embarrassingly slow for what’s probably supposed to be an easy puzzle. I don’t know very many WNBA teams.

      BAN HAMMER was new to me, also, but most everything else was familiar. That’s a rare thing for a Brooke Husic puzzle. I enjoy her work, but we don’t live in the same world.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Given the number of clue/answer combinations that were outside my strike zone, I was also very impressed that BH and the editor(s) managed to make this puzzle solvable (even by Neanderthals like me). And without cheating! … yay! Fortunately for me, I know most (all?) of the WNBA team names. If not, I’m sure this would have been another DNF on a BH puzzle. My solve times on her puzzles are well above those of other TNY constructors (adjusting for the day of the week). That’s saying something with Natan Last, Anna Shechtman, Kameron Austin Collins, Erik Agard and Paolo Pasco in the mix.

    • JohnH says:

      For me it was sheer misery, the hardest puzzle of the week and not just in TNY. On top of the theme of interest, surely, only to sports fans or maybe basketball fans or maybe just women’s basketball fans, there were something like 25 other things I didn’t know, most to do with names. TNY asserting its habits.

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