Friday, June 23, 2023

Inkubator tk(Erin) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker untimed (Matt) 


NYT 6:40 (Sophia) 


Universal 4:29 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:19 (Darby) 


Kunal Nabar’s New York Times crossword—Sophia’s recap

New York Times, 06 23 2023, By Kunal Nabar

It took me a while to get footholds on this one, but once I did, everything fell into place pretty quickly and I ended up with an average time. Loved the diagonal symmetry of the puzzle – not surprisingly, I found the bottom right of the puzzle to be much easier than the top left, and built my way up from there.

Highlights/Quick Points:

    • EPCOT was the first thing I got in the puzzle, off of [Theme park originally conceived as a planned community]. EPCOT itself is an acronym standing for “Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow”.
    • The two long across answers are both solid in their own right, but the clues make them both shine. [Playbills?] for MONOPOLY MONEY and [Refresher course?] for PALATE CLEANSER are both clues I wish I’d written.
    • For anyone who is new to Friday misdirects, remember SEAM for [Clothes line] and MALES for [Drones, e.g.]. These are tricky, but they come up so often that they’ve become second nature to me.
    • Even though the clues are structured the same way, ROCK ON for [Apt cry of encouragement for a geologist?] is a bit less… off-putting.. than [Apt cry of encouragement for a pilot?] being KEEP IT UP.
    • I really thought [Top present during the holiday season?] was going to be something about an ugly Christmas sweater, but it was actually DREIDEL. A third type of top!
    • I don’t really understand the clue [It might be sold by the yard] for ALE – I originally had it as “sod”. Enlighten me?
    • ANKA and OSMOND being stacked could be tricky for folks who are not musically inclined, but in general I appreciated how few proper nouns there were in the puzzle, and how the ones that were there spanned different knowledge areas (i.e. golfer Michelle WIE West, actor TYRESE Gibson).
    • For anyone into TIME LOOP movies, I majorly recommend “Palm Springs” with Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. A great updated take on the concept.

Happy Friday all!

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “No Less”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases without their usual starting word of “No.”

Universal crossword solution · “No Less” · Paul Coulter · Fri., 6.23.23

  • 17a. [Library’s policy forbidding book reservations?] HOLDS BARRED.
  • 26a. [Pals who need more room to stretch out at a sleepover?] LONGER FRIENDS.
  • 45a. [True statement about a Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea?] MAN IS AN ISLAND. Nice one.
  • 58a. [Malt shop’s claim to fame?] GREAT SHAKES.

Works for me. None of these phrases is common in no-less form (unlike something like “no big deal” where “big deal” is a common standalone phrase). But I bet there are a lot of potential entries that would work with this theme. How about “laughing matter” or “fly zone” or “more Mr. Nice Guy”? It’s more elegant when a theme is close to exhaustive, meaning there are few other potential entries. But I still enjoyed this well enough.

Fave fill entries include NEAR MISSES, SUNLIGHT, “HORRORS!,” SASHAY, COSPLAY, and GREEN  SALSA (which isn’t as green painty as “green paint”).

Clues of note:

  • 31a. [Dance partner?]. SONG. Cute.
  • 53a. [Pans for gold, e.g.]. MINES. Hmm. Really? I take “mining” to be going underground and using a pickaxe to extract minerals from rock. “Panning” is using a pan in a river or stream to look for shiny things. Am I wrong?
  • 27d. [Aptly named boat in “Jaws”]. ORCA. I’m not exactly sure what’s apt about it. Ah, according to this site (and some others), great white sharks are no match for actual orcas which have size, weight, speed, and intelligence advantages. Most great whites eat smaller prey (sea lions, seals, otters), thus a great white that would eat an ORCA would have to be fearsome indeed.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

Luke Schreiber’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 6/23/23 • Fri • Schreiber • solution • 20230623

It took a couple of encounters with the circled squares to figure out the mechanism—the down entries veer 90° at those nodes. As I saw the first two letters—L, G—I was disappointed that they didn’t seem to be spelling a word.

But when I arrived at the bottom of the grid and saw the revealer, it was all fine again.

  • 64aR [Freedoms protected by the Equality Act, and an apt title for this puzzle?] LGBTQ RIGHTS. To wit, the long down entries each make a right turn.
  • 20a. [“It’s all untrue!”] LIES.
    1d. [Bounces back] RALLIES.
  • 22a. [Coup de __ ] GRACE.
    10d. [RuPaul’s competition] DRAG RACE.
  • 35a. [Gymnast Simone] BILES.
    7d. [Some Arctic Cats] SNOWMOBILES. Note capitalization in the clue.
  • 54a. [Froyo choice] TOPPING.
    26d. [Extremely beautiful, perhaps] HEART-STOPPING.
  • 48d. [Quilting technique] APPLIQUÉ.
    71a. [“¿__ pasa?”] QUÉ.

And then a bonus entry: 56a [Subject of many June parades] PRIDE.

It’s a nifty and timely theme.

  • 14a [Legends on the road] ACURAS. I should’ve seen through this clue, but it fooled me.
  • 17a [Beatles song with the lyric “Sunday morning creeping like a nun”] LADY MADONNA. I wonder if this, symmetrically opposite the revealer, is also a theme-adjacent entry, as Madonna is an acknowledged gay icon.
  • 32a [Lucille Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips,” for one] ODE.
  • 34a [Bright bloom] DAHLIA. But of course now I’m thinking of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia, a period detective noir based on real-life events.
  • 46a [Halloumi, e.g.] CHEESE. It’s Egyptian, a combination of two or more types of milk.
  • 72a [Cheek] SASS. 3d [Truculent behavior, informally] ’TUDE.
  • 4d [Seafarer’s choice during a storm] TRYSAIL. New to me.
  • 8d [Prepared for a close-up shot] PANNED IN. Panning involves rotating the camera on the vertical axis, so this is a misnomer. The action would be zooming in or dollying in. Nevertheless, the inaccurate term has currency, so it’s a valid entry.
  • 13d [Bottom-dwelling fish] MUD EEL. Unusual crossword entry, but it certainly is a useful letter pattern.
  • 27d [Corpus __: prosecutor’s concern] DELICTI. Definition from 1 : the substantial and fundamental fact necessary to prove the commission of a crime; 2 : the material substance (such as the body of the victim of a murder) upon which a crime has been committed
  • 67d [Manga artist Junji] ITO. It seems he’s primarily known for horror manga.

A nice puzzle, and I believe some of the constructor’s personality and preferences come through via the references chosen among the clues.

Chandi Deitmer & Erica Hsiung Wojcik’s USA Today crossword, “Peak TV”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer is a Down answer, and the first word of each is a TV show, making them PEAK TV.

Theme Answers

Chandi Deitmer & Erica Hsiung Wojcik's USA Today crossword, "Peak TV" solution for 6/23/2023

Chandi Deitmer & Erica Hsiung Wojcik’s USA Today crossword, “Peak TV” solution for 6/23/2023

  • 3d [“Fall meal with found family”] FRIENDSGIVING
  • 13d [“‘So lovely to meet you’”] CHARMED, I’M SURE
  • 17d [“Ask something”] POSE A QUESTION

These were each super fun. FRIENDSGIVING was an easy one to plunk into place (and I was delighted to see it since FRIENDSGIVINGs are some of my favourite fall activities). POSE A QUESTION was delightful as a phrase, and it really cemented the theme for me, making CHARMED, I’M SURE pretty obvious. Plus, I loved the bonus title nod in 62a [“Synonym for the first word in this puzzle’s title”] ACME.

I really enjoyed this puzzle, though I think I was pretty disposed to do so, given my love of 1a [“___ Punk (electronic music duo)”] DAFT Punk’s TRON: Legacy soundtrack. 16a [“Note that allows you to go to yoru locker during class”] HALL PASS and 58a [“‘It’s not looking good for me’”] I’M A GONER were also both super fun items.

A few other faves:

  • 18a [“‘The Woman King’ actor John”] – The Woman King is on my to-be-watched list, so I’d forgotten that John BOYEGA was in it, along with EGOT Viola Davis.
  • 63a [“Like some bases and hearts”] – What a cute clue for STOLEN!
  • 45d [“___ coat (P. I.’s garment)”] – This clue for TRENCH conjured up a pretty specific image.

Overall, I hope someone answers 5a [“Possible response to ‘Who wants to solve a crossword with me?’”] I DO when asked if they want to do this puzzle.

Adam Wagner’s New Yorker—Matthew’s recap

Adam Wagner’s New Yorker crossword solution, 6/23/23

Themers include city names hidden in alternate letters, revealed at 61-across with the entry SKIPPING TOWN:

18a [Organized agricultural workers (California)] FARMERS UNION (Fresno)
25a [“The parentals are out of town–let’s rage!” (Florida)] PARTY AT MY PLACE (Tampa)
38a [Political topics that impact voters’ wallets, colloquially (Idaho)] POCKETBOOK ISSUES (Boise)
51a [Upper ranges? (New York)] MOUNTAIN CHAINS (Utica)

Several clever finds but I find myself unmoved by the theme — the first entry had me wondering if a notable FARMERS UNION is based in Fresno, but it seems there’s little connection between the entries and the states, other than the cities within. I wonder how constrained a set this is — perhaps it’s quite constrained! But even if it is, it doesn’t really change my experience in the grid.

I’m once again catching up a day later, so moving on without notes on the fill. Hope you’re having a good weekend.

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20 Responses to Friday, June 23, 2023

  1. stmv says:

    Sophia asked to be enlightened about “yard of ALE”. According to Wikipedia, “A yard of ale or yard glass is a very tall beer glass used for drinking around 2+1⁄2 imperial pints (1.4 L) of beer, depending upon the diameter. “

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Terrific Friday puzzle. The four long entries that anchor the North and the West are outstanding and, as Sophia notes, wonderfully clued. UNCTUOUS is a highly evocative word, great to see in a puzzle.

  3. Dallas says:

    Great Friday; close to a record time for me, everything just dropped in pretty quickly. KOI POND took me a little bit to get but then the rest of that area finished up. Felt like I was on the same wavelength as the constructor.

  4. Mark says:

    I too enjoyed the NYT. I like a slightly harder Friday, but this had wit and wordplay!

    NYer – it was OK with a fairly cute theme. But just kind of dull. All of the constructors who do NYer puzzles (with, in my opinion, the exception of one) do such great puzzles. But somehow they seem to lower their game when publishing in the NYer.

  5. Dan says:

    LAT puzzle: The revealer mentioned “rights”, but I must say that all the turns in this puzzle look like lefts to me.

    • PJ says:

      It’s a matter of perspective. From my (solver) POV the turns are right. If I put myself in a little car following the entries from the first letter, the turns are left.

    • pannonica says:

      Good point, but it depends on one’s vantage point. From the solver’s aerial ‘omniscience’, the clues move down and then right. From the perspective of the entry itself (i.e., if you were in the locomotive engine pulling the train of letters) it’s definitely a left turn.

  6. Boston+Bob says:

    NYT: Note to self. If you only know one word for cowboy in Spanish (i.e. vaquero), don’t assume it’s the only Spanish word for cowboy. That slowed me down. A lot.

  7. Paolo P. says:

    Great finds in the New Yorker

    • PJ says:

      I agree. The every other letter aspect really elevates the theme over just finding words that contains the letters.

    • JohnH says:

      The theme is fine, but after that, just one obscurity after another. Thoroughly unpleasant.

  8. F Grant Whittle says:

    When I did a summer at St John’s College Oxford, the college bar had a yard of ale hanging on the wall. The idea was to drain it all at once, but the structure with a bulb at the end made it easy to get a face full of beer unless you were very careful. It was glass and costly enough that they’d charge you a deposit to drink from it. Nowadays, it’s a plastic novelty item most often seen at frozen daiquiri bars such as those that line Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

  9. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: I rated the puzzle a “1” because of the editing gaffe at 8D: “Prepared for a close-up shot” – PANNED IN. Per pannonica’s correct comment, “panning involves rotating the camera on the vertical axis, so this is a misnomer”.

  10. Robert Lamonica says:

    If there’s no discussion of the WSJ puzzle contest does that mean no one got it? I look forward to the explanation because I rarely get the meta.

    • Eric H says:

      The Crossword Fiends typically post reviews of the WSJ contest puzzle on Monday. It’s usually a separate entry, not lumped in with the Friday or Monday puzzles. (If you go to the Fiend home page, there’s a link at the bottom for Older posts. Go back once or twice and you’ll see a link to the review of last week’s puzzle.)

      I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that I found the June 30 meta pretty easy. (That was fine with me, as it broke my slump of not getting the meta answer for most of the June puzzles.)

      (When I originally posted this, I thought you were looking for the write-up of the June 30 puzzle. The June 23 write-up is there.)

      Good luck!

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