Friday, July 14, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:43 (Matt) 


NYT 7:14 (Amy) 


Universal 5-something (Jim) 


USA Today 5:55 (Darby) 


Jonathan Kaufman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/14/23 – no. 0714

Cute four-leaf clover of a grid for a solid themeless that maybe is pitched more to a Saturday than a Friday.

Fave fill: WRAP-UPS, ‘DON’T BE THAT WAY,” a CITADEL (it’s a pretty word, isn’t it, meaning aside?), SPEAK ONE’S MIND, a pup’s TAIL WAG, and the best of all, “WHAT IN THE HECK?”

Did not know: 19D. [N.F.L. practice squad], SCOUT TEAM. My sports-fan husband is barely familiar with the term. Did you folks know it?

Clue that piqued my curiosity: 41A. [Host city for the annual Øyafestivalen], OSLO. “What wacky thing do the Norwegians have a festival of?” I wondered. Turns out it’s an August music festival, like a much smaller Lollapalooza. That got me wondering what the demonym for Oslo’s people is. Apparently it’s Oslovian or Osloer. #TeamOslovianAllTheWay

Four stars from me for what looks to be a debut for the constructor.

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

LAT • 7/14/23 • Fri • Dershowitz • solution • 20230714

Well this is pretty spiffy. Synonyms for ‘friend’ appear in lengthier phrases, but the gimmick is that they aren’t to be observed when dealing with the crossing down clues. The revealer is both perfect and pulls double-duty by also behaving the same way as the other theme answers. Finally, when the ‘invisible’ letters are observed, those down answers still spell legitimate entries—well, except for the ones that are two letters long.

For clarity, I’ve circled the relevant letters, but the crossword is much better off for not having had them circled in advance.

  • 38aR [Childhood companion depicted five times in this puzzle, thanks to some Down clues] IMAGINARY FRIEND. Crossed by {F}LAP, {R}AGE, W{R}ING, CAR{E}T, EVE{N}S, SAN{D}.
  • 18a. [Second on a ticket] RUNNING MATE. AD{M}IN, PD{A}, LO{T}, EN{E}.
  • 23a. [“Bring it in, dude” embrace] BRO HUG. BAND{B}, CHAI{R}, CAME{O}.
  • 52a. [Overseas correspondent?] PEN PAL (oops I forgot to circle the letters for PAL). {P}ACED, {A}TONE, {L}ETON.
  • 59a. [“Booksmart” or “Dumb and Dumber”] BUDDY COMEDY. {B}LT, {U}AW, {D}RE, CA{D}GE, CAN{Y}ON.

Really strong. The only improvement I can think of, as alluded to earlier, would be to ensure that the ‘friendless’ crossing entries were at least three letters long. That however would probably require a larger grid or fewer theme entries.

  • 5d [“__ had one job!”] YOU. A bountiful category for meme images.
  • 31d [Budget carrier HQ’ed in Dallas] SWA. My least favorite entry of the grid.
  • 30a [Vanity cases] EGOS. Effective misdirection. 15a [Compact cosmetic] ROUGE.
  • 56a [Aye-aye or dik-dik] ANIMAL. The former is a primate, the latter an antelope. There are a number of reduplicatives among animal common names, some of which are also hyphenated: mahi-mahi, kri-kri, and roul-roul among them. Others form single words, such as nēnē and cuscus. Once we start in on scientific names, there are way more.
  • 66a [Future esposa, perhaps] NOVIA. That’s intermediate Spanish appearing crossword, I’d say.

Alex Eaton-Salners’s Universal crossword, “Next, Please!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar names and phrases whose first words are homophones of letters, except that those homophones have been swapped out in favor of homophones of the subsequent letters of the alphabet (hence the title).

Universal crossword solution · “Next, Please!” · Alex Eaton-Salners · Fri., 7.14.23

  • 17a. [Watch a kids’ show on PBS? (hint: think “Bea”)] SEE ARTHUR. Bea Arthur. The homophone of B (i.e. “Bea”) becomes the homophone of C (SEE).
  • 28a. [One who handles a crested bird clumsily?] JAY DROPPER. Eye dropper.
  • 47a. [Maker of ropes and fences for lines?] QUEUE PLANT. Pea plant.
  • 63a. [Female sheep exits?] EWE LEAVES. Tea leaves.

Solving for time, I didn’t try to make sense of the theme. Everything seemed familiar—like I was on the cusp of getting it—but nothing fell into place. Finally, after the solve, I pondered the title and had my aha moment.

I’d say the most remarkable thing about this theme is the realization that we have four instances in our alphabet where letters with homophones follow other letters with homophones. Now, whether or not “Next, Please!” is a sufficient enough impetus for making that swap in a crossword puzzle is another matter. To me, the theme seems light, but I found it interesting enough that it works.

The long fill definitely works with fun entries like FREE SAMPLE, EASY MONEY, LOSE FACE, and PIANO MOVER. Also good: MALIBU, YUCCA, and BOGO (Buy One, Get One). In fact, the fill is smooth and fun throughout the grid with char SIU (Cantonese-style BBQ pork) being the toughest entry.

Clues of note:

  • 31d. [Professional with a grand plan?]. PIANO MOVER. Anyone else go with PIANO TUNER at first?
  • 32d. [Object painted to record a clown’s unique makeup]. EGG. Huh? Never have I ever heard of this. But reading this was utterly fascinating. Worth five minutes of your time.

Nice puzzle, especially the fill. 3.5 stars.

Some of the clown EGGs at London’s Clowns’ Gallery

Adrienne Atkins’s Inkubator crossword, “About Face”—Jenni’s write-up

When I saw the title I thought there would be words spelled backwards. Nope.

The theme entries:

Inkubator, July 13, 2023, Adrienne Atkins, “About Face,” solution grid

  • 18a [Sleek paint option] is a GLOSS FINISH. I raised an eyebrow at this because I think it’s GLOSSY. The Ngram viewer says I’m wrong – they’re equally frequent. Wonder if that’s regional.
  • 23a [Album-sleeve information] is (are?) LINER NOTES.
  • 35a [Pink potable] is BLUSH WINE. As 43d says, ICK.
  • 48a [Unregulated financial institution] is a SHADOW BANK.

And the revealer: 54a [Generate neologisms, or a hint to the first parts of 18-, 23-, 35-, and 48-Across] is MAKE UP WORDS. Lip GLOSS, eyeLINER, BLUSH, and eyeSHADOW are all types of MAKEUP. Nice!

Since I’m posting this late we’ll skip to what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that SHAKIRA has 41 Billboard Latin Music awards.

Andy Kravis’ New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up

Andy Kravis’ New Yorker crossword solution, 7/14/2023

Today’s puzzle syncs up with The New Yorker’s online “Therapy Issue.”

At first glance (and for several minutes as I checked meticulously for errors), this appeared to be a Freud-themed puzzle: COMPLEXES, CATHEXIS, PRINCIPLE, and SUPEREGO all make an appearance, as do a few nods to Freud in the clues.

The puzzles goes to another level at its central entry: [Cigar, to a Freudian]. Primed by the rest of the grid, and the crossings, I had PENIS here, but didn’t register until I adjusted it to CIGAR. Indeed, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Even if it means a dupe from the entry’s clue.

(I’ll note that the TNY subheader “Sometimes…” hints at this. I’m never sure how to treat this quasi-title, quasi-explanatory blurb and generally try to avoid seeing it pre-solve. But it would have made a difference today.)

So! A quantum puzzle! For completeness sake, let’s look at the crossings:

  • 37d [Styling one’s hair, say] CRIMPING or PRIMPING
  • 34d [___ at (eat small bites of)] PICK or PECK
  • 28d [Sheets] PAGES or PANES
  • 29d [___ rage] ROAD or ROID
  • 9d [RadioShack feature] CAPITAL R or CAPITAL S. This one in particular points more to “S,” in my opinion, which I appreciate. If I had had CIGAR my first run through, I’m not sure I would have noticed the quantum element.

Bravo, Andy!

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano & Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “It Takes Two”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer includes TWO spanning between words.

Theme Answers6

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano & Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “It Takes Two” solution for 6/14/2023

  • 14a [“‘That is…really something’”] WOW JUST WOW
  • 21a [“‘All this for little old me?!’”] I’M NOT WORTHY
  • 42a [“Heart-pumping exercise routine that might include jump squats”] HIIT WORKOUT
  • 50a [“Daniel Clowes comic about navigating the limbo between high school and adulthood”] GHOST WORLD

I thought that this was a neat set of themers. Four is always nice to see, especially with clean fill throughout the puzzle. WOW JUST WOW was super fun. I had to look up HIIT WORKOUT, catching it mostly on the crosses, particularly 30d [“Get some much-needed emotional release”] CRY IT OUT and 33d [“Buttery, sweet bread”] BRIOCHE.

I took longer than usual with this one, partly because of HIIT WORKOUT, but also because I couldn’t remember how to spell 36d [“Comedian’s gimmick”] SHTICK, and couldn’t piece together 35d [“‘It’s not my ___!’”] FAULT with 35a [“‘Like Water ___ Chocolate”] FOR. I really enjoyed 8d [“Our sense of who we are”] IDENTITY and 38a [“Crunchy bits in some fudge”] WALNUTS.

Ultimately, WOW JUST WOW. This was a great puzzle, especially since it was a 31d [“Super hot day”] SCORCHER.

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43 Responses to Friday, July 14, 2023

  1. PJ says:

    I played football and wasn’t particularly good. Yes, I know the scout team. Cannon fodder for the starters.

    • PJ says:

      During the season the scout team will run an upcoming opponent’s offense and defense for the starters and others expected to play to practice against.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: SCOUT TEAM was new to me, too. I’m a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of ESSEX Hemphill before; my lame excuse is that I haven’t read much poetry since high school (which was a long time ago).

    I found it pretty well-suited to Friday territory and finished in just under 10 minutes. Nothing was too challenging once I had a few crosses.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Really liked this puzzle. Elegant yet playful with all the great expressions Amy enumerated.
    I plunked down : HAD A SIP instead of HAD A NIP and that slowed me down in the NE.
    It’s interesting that nowadays “DON’T BE THAT WAY” often implies that one is doing something wrong or being difficult, but in the Benny Goodman song, it refers to feeling sad.
    Enjoyed learning about the Øya Festival!
    Love it when a puzzle makes you work and learn but in a fun, enjoyable way.

  4. Eric H says:

    I don’t know if y’all are Wordle players, but you might appreciate today’s word.

  5. Gary R says:

    NYT: SCOUT TEAM is a familiar term, but it’s not exactly synonymous with “practice squad” in the NFL. The practice squad is an official entity in the NFLPA contract with the league. The players are paid, and practice with the team, but they are not under contract and can be signed by other teams. SCOUT TEAM is a more generic term for a group of players who are supposed to emulate an upcoming opponent’s offense/defense during practice, to give the starting defense/offense a chance to practice against the “looks” they might see in the upcoming game. The SCOUT TEAM may include players from the practice squad, but it is also likely to include backup players who are part of the team’s regular 53-man roster.

    Thought this was a fun puzzle. I held on too long to SPEAK candidly at 12-D and to WHAT Is going on at 13-D, which slowed things down a bit.

  6. e.a. says:

    just want to congratulate whichever serial review-bomber finally figured out how to rate the same puzzle more than once, it only took you ages 👍

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Somebody mastered that art years ago–a constructor who 5-starred his own puzzle when he traveled, using fresh IP addresses from hotels, convention centers, etc. He ended up with dozens of 5-star ratings for a Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, a venue that never drew that many ratings for its other puzzles. Sad!

      • David R says:

        I miss the CHE, that was a fun puzzle most of the time. Some of the most creative themes came out of that one.

  7. Milo says:

    NYT: Couple of nits with an otherwise fine puzzle. The phrase as I know and use it is WHAT THE HECK? The IN just gets in the way. And what the heck (see?) is with that clue for SPEAK ONE’S MIND? [Say how you really feel] is awkwardly mismatched to the answer. To illustrate my point, imagine if 47-D’s STYE clue was [What might make you less likely to flip one’s lid?]

    • marciem says:

      I agree with the “heck” comment. I’d say “what the heck” and so instead dropped in “what in the hell” which I’m more likely to pop out with … but if you are one who never says “hell” then I guess heck works in the same way.

      Speak ones mind… the “you” for ‘your’ which is a better match was in the clue. I felt funny dropping in speakyourmind because of that, and of course it was incorrect.

      but I did really enjoy the puzzle… Perfect Friday difficulty for me.

      Univ…. wasn’t crazy about “easymoney” and “eases” in the same northern hemisphere.

    • JohnH says:

      What in the Heck felt weird to me too, and I didn’t know Scout Team, there’s lots I don’t have a current ear for and I don’t know sports, so ok. Still a very fine puzzle

  8. PJ says:

    TNY – I wasn’t really enjoying working my way through the psychology class. Then I finished with five incorrect squares and the theme kicked in. Loved it!

    • pannonica says:

      I paused at that entry but didn’t give it a third thought until the grid was complete.

    • Mr. [very very very] Grumpy says:

      Hated it.

    • JohnH says:

      I must not have it yet. I don’t solve online, so there is no feedback, but I’ll guess that my central across answer (Cigar, to a Freudian) is wrong, since it makes no sense.

      I’ll have to wait for Matt (which I know can be a long time) to know whether to appreciate the puzzle. It played out so far as one of those more or less unthemed puzzles that TNY likes for its one weekly theme. No puns, rebuses, or other device that takes added thought, just a bunch of entries with something in common (Freudian). I don’t like those at all, but I can see the appeal of the puzzle. After all, most solvers here, like Amy, far prefer unthemed puzzles, and then the Freudian twist offers an additonal pleasure of recognition. (I do puzzle at how “Firm that night run a celeb’s social media” fits in, since it’s a theme spot. It’s corresponding slot goes to an answer that doesn’t quite fit but a clue that does contain “anal.”)

      But I’m assuming I’ve missed something major and will just have to see.

      • janie says:

        all i’ll say is… schrodinger…


      • Matt Gritzmacher says:

        Write up is up now! I’m not sure from your comment if anything there will be new to you or not.

        Like you, I noted “anal” in the clue for NEATNIK. I kind of looked around for others, noted POOP and “feet” in the clue for YARD, and I decided I was trying too hard. But I wouldn’t be surprised if to some extent it’s an Easter egg from Andy.

        • JohnH says:

          Thanks. An “easter egg” for one in the symmetric pair would explain it.

          I’m not as sure as others that an ambiguous answer has a relation to quantum mechanics, but then I was a physics major with a particular hatred of seeing science as a metaphor for other things.

          • Matt Gritzmacher says:

            to be honest in the moment I just didn’t want to look up the proper spelling of Schrodinger

  9. Glenn says:

    Just want to convey KUDOS! and THANKS! to Alex Eaton-Salners for today’s Boston Globe crossword (July 14, 2023) — Theme was wonderfully clever! Loved it once I caught on! Also liked the card references (poker – ANTE, and black card – CLUB) :) Thanks for a really fun puzzle!! –Glenn

    • Eric H says:

      That was a fun puzzle.

      But was the hint in 17A (SEE ARTHUR) really necessary? I’d like to think that I would have figured out the trick without that hint.

  10. Hi. says:

    There is no organ in Baba O’riley. It’s a synth then a piano.

  11. Dan says:

    I really enjoyed the LAT puzzle with its tricky theme.

    Though I confess to needing to reveal a few letters in the lower left, where I could not think of the phrase “buddy comedy” (which I hadn’t heard before), despite having “comedy”.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Ditto … plus, both NOVIA and DAISY abutting each other and alongside BUDDY COMEDY were major impediments for me, though I eventually guessed right.

    • Eric H says:

      The SW corner almost beat me, mainly because for 45D “Big name in cameras,” I’d entered CAN{N}ON. (It also didn’t help that LentO is also a slow musical tempo; at least “adagio” didn’t fit.)

      As others have mentioned, NOVIA does not seem like basic Spanish vocabulary. I’ve never studied Spanish, but 50 years of living in Texas has exposed to a lot of Spanish vocabulary, and I have no memory of NOVIA.

      But I used the theme to think of a synonym for FRIEND and finally thought of BUDDY.

      It’s really a clever theme that plays well off the revealer.

      • Eric H says:

        Since there are so many cognates between Spanish and French, NOVIA has me wondering what the French word for “fiancée” is.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Not sure if your tongue is in your cheek or not here, Eric, and I’m about as far from multilingual as a human being can be, but isn’t fiancée the French word for fiancée?

  12. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: While the fill in this puzzle was pretty standard, I thought the creativity and construction was great, so I gave it 4.5 rating.

  13. Zev Farkas says:

    Jim’s review of the Universal puzzle:

    I followed the link he posted about 32d. [Object painted to record a clown’s unique makeup]. EGG.

    Fascinating! Thanks!

  14. Nina says:

    NYT: IPA–apparently hazy beer is a thing–who knew?

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