Friday, August 25, 2023

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:08 (MattG) 


NYT 5:46 (Amy) 


Universal 4:30ish + a typo hunt (Jim) 


USA Today 3:13 (Darby) 


Rafael Musa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 8/25/23 – no. 0825

HELLSCAPE! What a perfect 1-Across after two 100-degree days in Chicago. (And humid, too!) The weather returns to sensibility on Friday.

Fave clue: 16a. [Like something wicked and dark?], UNLIT. As in a candle, with a wick, dark because there’s no flame.

Fave fill: ILHAN OMAR, MIAMI-DADE, the odious “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” (I repudiate the supposed necessity of pain for progress), PORTA-POTTIES (great clue, [Heads outside?], not that I’ve ever called a loo “the head”), SLEEP DEBT (I see from my Fitbit that I haven’t managed 7 hours of sleep for a full two weeks), PANGRAM, PAD THAI, OWN IT, OPEN MIC.

Had no idea: 18a. [Most common last name in Brazil], SILVA. Largely guessed it off the A and President Lula da Silva.

Four stars from me.

Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 8/25/23 • Fri • Peterson • solution • 20230825

The revealer is ironically in the center of this 16×15 grid.

  • 40aR [Situation that occurs under extreme conditions, and a description of the answer to each starred clue] EDGE CASE. Each of the perimeter entries can precede the word ‘case’ in a phrase.
  • 1a. [*Pipe alternative] CIGAR.
  • 6a. [*”You Were Meant for Me” singer] JEWEL.
  • 11a. [*Minor mistake] SLIP.
  • 14d. [*Call] PHONE.
  • 38d. [*Germ of an idea] SEED.
  • 60d. [Charcuterie fare] MEAT.
  • 70a. [*Least satisfactory] WORST.
  • 69a. [*Tumbler] GLASS.
  • 68a. [*Challenge] TEST.
  • 50d. [[*Server’s spot?] COURT. The only one of these with a playful, question-marked clue.
  • 28d. [*Sub supplier] DELI.

Dylan Schiff’s Universal crossword, “Pop-Up Books”—Jim’s review

Theme: Book titles are found in the circled squares spanning two main entries with one letter “popped up” into the row above (hence the title). That’s assuming you have circles in your grid, otherwise you have to go by the parenthetical hints in each clue.

Universal crossword solution · “Pop-Up Books” · Dylan Schiff · Fri., 8.25.23

  • 20a [Go into free fall (Note this answer’s last 4 letters + 1 letter above the block to the right + …)] and 22a Affectedly polite [(… this answer’s first 4 letters)]. SKYDIVE + R + GENTEEL. Divergent.
  • 33a [Held a grudge (Last 3 letters + 1 above the block + …)] and 38a [Bedding or towels (… first 4)]. STAYED MAD + E + LINEN. Madeline.
  • 44a [Interior design (Last 3 letters + 1 above the block + …)] and 46a [Bookkeeping entries (… first 4)]. DECOR + A + LINE ITEMS. Coraline.
  • 58a. [Don quickly (Last 3 letters + 1 above the block + …)] and 62a [Built (… first 2. Bonus: Note what the letters above the blocks spell!)]. THROW ON + D + ERECTED. Wonder.

Ugh. I can’t imagine trying to solve this puzzle while having to rely on those clues. Even having the circles in my grid, I tried to avoid looking at the clues; they’re just so ungainly. Usually, these types of clues are awkward at best; this one borders on painful. Note to constructors: If your puzzle requires circles, seriously consider other venues until such time that Universal can implement circles in all their outlets.

Okay. Awkward clues aside, I wouldn’t have recognized all these circled entries as book titles, namely the first one. I have seen Wonder on bookshelves with its memorable cover. Coraline I know, being a Neil Gaiman fan, but it was also adapted into a well-received animated film. Similarly, Madeline is well-known for its TV series. So theme-wise, it would have been more effective if each title was known first and foremost for being a book. It’s also curious that these are all YA or kid lit titles, which I don’t see a reason for, other than the fact that pop-up books are generally aimed at children.

Of course, having the bonus answer of READ (spelled out by the “popped-up” letters) puts a big constraint on the theme, so there probably aren’t that many titles that are going to work here.

Top fill: CORNELL, RED WINE. Most challenging fill: REIKI [Japanese energy healing].

Clue of note: 5d. [Where to watch “Svengoolie” in 2023]. ME TV. I don’t recognize the show title, but the host does look familiar. Wikipedia says the show ran in the Chicago area starting in 1970 and only recently went national on ME TV.

Ignoring the laborious theme clues, I like the puzzle fine, but I would have liked it better if the titles were more diverse and instantly recognizable as book titles. 3.5 stars.

Rafael Musa’s USA Today crossword, “Bang-Up Locations”—Darby’s recap

Theme: Each themer is a Down answer in which the uppermost word starts with BANG, and they each refer to a location.

Theme Answers

Rafael Musa's USA Today crossword, "Bang-Up Locations" solution for 8/25/2023

Rafael Musa’s USA Today crossword, “Bang-Up Locations” solution for 8/25/2023

  • 4d [Southeast Asian capital that’s home to Wat Pho] BANGKOK THAILAND
  • 8d [Country that celebrates Pohela Boishakh] BANGLADESH
  • 10d [Third most populous city in the Pine Tree State] BANGOR MAINE

This was a cute theme, and while I wasn’t able to immediately fill in any of the cities right off the bat, the theme itself was really helpful in getting BANGKOK and BANGOR. From there, I knew the larger units (MAINE and THAILAND) just from having heard the cities before. The L of 23a [Count up] TALLY and the S of 42a [Donna Summer genre] DISCO were also very useful for filling in BANGLADESH.

The rest of the fill in this puzzle was really fun too. I laughed out loud at 17a [“Give me one more chance!”] I CAN CHANGE, and I thought 3d [Salary increase based on good job performance] MERIT RAISE, 59a [Like sapphic poetry] HOMOEROTIC, and 65 [Way to get money for household items] ESTATE SALE were all really fun and interesting. Plus, the dual 25a & 27a [Fantasy meanie] ORC and TROLL was cute and fun. The puzzle continued its spookiness with GHOST (even though it was clued in the more colloquial 50d [Abruptly stop texting back]).

Alex Eaton-Salners’ New Yorker crossword—Matt G’s recap

Alex Eaton-Salners’ New Yorker crossword solution, 8/25/2023

Themers have languages hidden in them, and the quasi-title/tagline the New Yorker provides us invites us to “hold your tongue.” Fun.

  • 17a [Argue over trivial distinctions] SPLIT HAIRS
  • 23a [Period of rapid corporate consolidation] MERGER MANIA
  • 40a [It includes events like quadruple sculls and coxless pair] OLYMPIC ROWING
  • 52a [Color-changing compound in some chemistry experiements] PH INDICATOR
  • 62a [M.L.B. team that plays at American Family Field] THE BREWERS

Fun set. I don’t really recognize MERGER MANIA, but I’m likely just not steeped enough in corporate … stuff. (The next time I enter LBO into a grid without a cross or two might be the first.) I also have mostly tuned out of baseball, and didn’t realize that THE BREWERS‘ stadium has changed names from Miller Park. I see that was three years ago. If you ask me, insurance companies have enough stadiums already, and a team like THE BREWERS in Wisconsin should have a beer company for their largest corporate sponsorship. It’s only right. I don’t even like Miller-Coors.

Anyway, a pleasant solve. I liked HORNETS NEST in the upper corner and not as much a fan of the ALITO / ALGER / HSN area on the opposite side. In general a smooth grid drawing from many knowledge bases tuned easy, as we expect on Fridays, with a few highlights: MAHALO, HATHA, HANA, WARIO, as well as STIEG Larsson, who passed before he could finish the full scope of the “Dragon Tattoo” series. The Muppet Movie, Anita Baker, a nice clue in [Brooding sort?] for HEN.

A refreshing start to the weekend. Cheers.

My favorite a cappella group in college had an excellent rendition of “Sweet Love.” The opening chords take me right back to lecture halls repurposed as concert venues.

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28 Responses to Friday, August 25, 2023

  1. david kroll says:

    A lot of good clues and answers.
    My beef is 10 down. BUSY and PLAIN opposite? I don’t get that at all.

    And 16 across something wicked and dark UNLIT I get dark but the wicked
    does not exactly ring a bell.

    • Eric H says:

      BUSY can also mean “ornate.” It took me a bit to get that one, but it’s a perfectly valid clue.

      I’m as mystified by “wicked and dark” as you are.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Guys! “With a wick.” A candle. It’s right in my write-up. Wick’ed.

        • Eric H says:

          Sorry! Was that up when I commented?

          Thanks for explaining it. And I hope you can get some sleep.

          I forgot to say that the NYT puzzle felt more challenging than it really was. By which I mean that not much of it came easily, but before I knew it, I was done. That’s always interesting.

    • Mutman says:

      Since we’re tossing out misunderstood entries, someone help me out with TIRE for “Flag” at 53D.

      Nice Friday all-around!

      • Hi. says:

        They are being used as verbs.

      • huda says:

        Same here re being unclear about TIRE. Also a feeling of being out of my depth throughout the solve and yet finishing in decent time. Excellent puzzle with great entries!
        HELLSCAPE has only been recently added to the
        It’s a great word, and I owe getting it right off to my son who primed it in my mind. He used it to describe part of a road trip this past week, as they were caught in the incredible heat.

        • Eric H says:

          “Also a feeling of being out of my depth throughout the solve and yet finishing in decent time.”

          That’s exactly how I felt. I beat my Friday average by about 20 or 25 percent, but it sure didn’t seem like I was going to do that when I was solving it.

      • Eric H says:

        One of the definitions of “flag” as a verb is “to become unsteady, feeble, or spiritless.” I’ve used it that way.

    • JohnH says:

      It took me a long time to convince myself to go with BUSY, too, but I’m fine with it. Overall, not a bad Friday at all, although I’m still convinced that HI MOM is a phenomena only in Will Shortz Land. HELLSCAPE and Krusty Krab’s menu are new to me, but I’m sure it’s fine.

      I’d have sworn we’ve had “flag” in that sense before, and I did know it. Didn’t spring to mind first thing, but it’s Friday.

      • Dallas says:

        HI MOM comes from old football TV broadcasts where people would hold up cardboard signs with that on it in the stands.

        While I didn’t feel like there was anything unfairly clued, both yesterday and today were _slow_ fills for me… The NE was the last to go in, and it didn’t help that there was hardly much connection with the rest of the grid. I tried to put in MY TREAT instead of ILL TREAT and it took me forever to get that one right… OYSTER also took forever. Then I had two typos I had to track down :-) Anyway, good Friday puzzle.

  2. David says:

    LAT: I enjoyed seeing CIGAR over OLIVA. It’s my favorite everyday brand to smoke. Am I allowed to give 5 stars for that reason alone? Eh, what the hell! Despite RARER & STARER I’m doing it anyway.

  3. David L says:

    I assume that ‘small grouse’ as a clue for SNIPE is meant in a punny way. The birds are unrelated, as far as I know. But whether a snipe is smaller than a grouse in the metaphorical sense is questionable, I would say. And they’re not really the same thing, IMO. A grouse is a complaint or a grumble, but a snipe is a criticism or a barb.

    • MattF says:

      Hadn’t seen the metaphorical sense of that clue. Just an odd bird-fact, I thought. ‘Barb’ is a good synonym.

    • DougC says:

      David L, I agree. This was the one sour note in an otherwise fun puzzle for me. GROUSE are land birds and SNIPE are waders. The two are not closely related, either as birds or verbs.

  4. JohnH says:

    TNY: as so often, not my thing — the weekly themed puzzle from the magazine that absolutely, positively hates themes. So once again the theme requires no particular thought or figuring anything out. You just enter the fill, and if you care the circled letters spell out the names of languages. But I realize that many hard-core solvers here prefer themeless puzzless.

    Overall, very easy, but a bit harder in the bottom, where names come up a lot. I wondered with WARIO if I’d a mistake somewhere and it should be Mario, but is is what it is.

    • Eric H says:

      It’s not a particularly innovative theme, but I did use it to help with a few answers. I appreciated the diversity of the languages represented and the fact that each one is split between the two words of the theme answer.

      There weren’t any especially problematic areas, but my time was not impressive. Too many TYPOs. But also, I always seem slow with grids with circles. Maybe they distract me; maybe they just make it harder to see what’s in the square.

      I could have done with a few more tricky clues. “Grp. concerned with seniority?” for AARP is nice, but I feel like I’ve seen it before.

  5. MattF says:

    NYT was tough but fair for me. A few clues were pop cult or obscure but no real hangups anywhere. A good puzzle.

  6. placematfan says:

    Member when a constructor having two published puzzles in different outlets on the same day would almost surely elicit laudatory comments? But as it becomes less rare it becomes less mentionworthy, of course. Nonetheless, I imagine it’s still as much a high for the constructor as it ever was. And on that note, congratulations, Rafael!

  7. Bob says:

    Any reason why WSJ Friday puzzles, the 2nd hardest one of the week, is not covered here weekly?

    • Eric H says:

      Conrad’s review of the WSJ contest puzzle typically shows up on Sunday night as soon as the contest ends.

      It’ll be on its own page. If you scroll back through this week’s reviews, you’ll find last Friday’s WSJ puzzle — probably between Sunday and Monday.

      I’m frustrated with this one. I’m missing something important in the meta (which happens all too often).

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    I don’t think they usually post the WSJ Friday meta-puzzle review here until Sunday night.

    [Hmm … this was supposed to be a reply to Bob’s post and I know I clicked the ‘Reply’ link … this isn’t the first time this has happened to me out here … sorry about that]

    • Bob says:

      But if the Saturday WSJ puzzle will be listed today on its publication day, the Friday puzzle has to wait til Sunday night? It’s a contest? (Maybe that’s why I see “Submit” instead of “Word/Grid” underneath.)

  9. Chris+Wooding says:

    LAT: I believe you missed 1D COLD (case)

Comments are closed.