Friday, September 29, 2023

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:20 (Matt) 


NYT 5:01 (Amy) 


Universal 3:27 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Malaika Handa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9/29/23 – no. 0929

Fun puzzle! Lots of good stuff in it, and I like it.

Fave fill: MOONSHINE (good clue, [Illegal product that’s still made?], as in a distilling still), “I SHOULDN’T (but I will),” the WET SEASON, OUTSCORES, FRENEMIES, SIKHS, RENT STRIKE, CODE-SWITCH, newish-to-me SUNDAY SCARIES (all too real!), “OH, LORD,” MAE WEST, SCENTED CANDLE, and I-guess-they-still-have-those POT DEALERS (it’s all legal dispensaries here in Illinois).

Four more things:

  • 43a. [___ Day of Visibility (March 31 observance)], TRANS. A reminder that this site is explicitly pro-trans and anti-transphobic. When people are transphobic, they are against my friends, against the children of my friends. It is hard for me to be tolerant of people who would deny my friends’ rights and safety.
  • 51a. [Protagonist in a long-running Phyllis Reynolds Naylor book series], ALICE. Naylor’s name is new to me. She started writing books for kids and teens when I was in my 20s and my kid didn’t read her. Here’s the Wiki of this Newbery Medal-winning writer.
  • 10d. [___ B. Parker, Democratic candidate for president in 1904], ALTON. Not a name I knew. He ran against Teddy Roosevelt going for his second term.
  • 41d. [Having rhythm], CADENT. This … is a word? That people use?

Four stars from me.

Noelle Griskey’s Universal crossword, “Just Desserts”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are two-word sweet treats where each word starts with P. The revealer is SWEET PEAS (37d, [Fragrant flowering vines, and a hint to 17-Across, 29-Down and 31-Down]).

Universal crossword solution · “Just Desserts” · Noelle Griskey · Fri., 9.29.23

  • 17a. [Refreshing chocolate treat] PEPPERMINT PATTY.
  • 29d. [Former frozen Jell-O treat] PUDDING POP.
  • 31d. [Thanksgiving treat] PUMPKIN PIE.

First off, mmmmm, I love the smell of sweet pea flowers.

Secondly, nice theme. I don’t know that I ever heard of a PUDDING POP, but it was easy enough to infer. Now, for the record, the Peanuts character is PEPPERMINT PATTY. The York branded confection is spelled Peppermint Pattie. But there are many online recipes for making your own patties, so I can accept a generic spelling with the Y instead of the IE.

I had a quick look to see if I could find any other potential entries for this theme, but I couldn’t. So having a 15, two 10s, and a 9 as your theme set means you’re going to have an uncommon grid setup. I like how it was handled here with the 15 at the top going across and the other three going down. In fact, this is probably the only possible configuration unless you’re lucky enough to have your 10s cross the 15. Yes, the three bottom sections are quite separated from each other, but with straightforward clues, it all solved itself in good time. And we still get some nice long entries like EARPIECES, SLOW DANCE, and ALLEY OOP.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Egyptian home of the world’s largest food court]. CAIRO. Huh. Here’s the info from the Guinness people back in 2011, but I can find no current information about the place. In fact, Trip Advisor even reports that it’s permanently closed.
  • 4d. [Final shampoo instruction]. REPEAT. I know the old mantra was, “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.” But I thought shampoos got away from that. I checked what we use and it indicates that once is enough. Here’s some more info from Mental Floss.
  • 27d. [It never stops flying]. TIME. Not sure I’d agree. Sometimes it crawls.

Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Robin Stears’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 9/29/23 • Fri • Stears • solution • 20230929

Puns involving names for Asian leaders—are they honorifics?

  • 17a. [Official ortraitist for a Mongolian leader?] KHAN ARTIST (con artist).
  • 25a. [Condiment for an Ottoman leader?] SULTAN PEPPER (salt and pepper).
  • 42a. [Paltry stipend for a Middle Eastern leader?] EMIR PITTANCE (a mere pittance).
  • 56a. [Humble abode for an Arab leader?] SHEIK SHACK (Shake Shack).

Pretty good, depending on your tolerance for such things.

  • 15a [Bracelet spot] ANKLE. This is me holding the line that bracelets are for arms/wrists and anklets are for legs/ankles. It could be the same exact ITEM (32d) but the name changes depending on application.
  • 34a [Tends to a draft] EDITS. Manuscript was the third sense that I considered, after beer and chill wind.

Not much to write about for the ballast fill. It’s solid and unremarkable.

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Matt’s recap

Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword solution, 9/29/23

Our themers are clear from grid design, if the connection is not clear before the revealer:

  • 17a [Player known for supremacy on clay courts] RAFAEL NADAL. “Tennis” is omitted from the clue, but given Nadal’s prevalence in crosswords I doubt that caused many issues.
  • 25a [Assumed name of a con artist who infiltrated wealthy New York society] ANNA DELVEY. As seen in the Netflix series “Inventing Anna.”
  • 51a [“Screamin'” performer of “I Put a Spell on You”] JAY HAWKINS
  • 62a [Impressed remark about the work of 17-, 25-, or 51-Across?] WHAT A RACKET

Fun approach to (what I imagine was) the seed phrase WHAT A RACKET — Nadal of course uses a tennis racket, Delvey’s extended fraud (and continued grifting since), and Hawkins’… I guess the sound of his music is a racket? I enjoy the three different meanings of the term, but also generally think of “racket” as a negative thing, so not sure how much “impressed” in the revealer clue does to clarify whether we like Jay Hawkins or not. In the opposite direction, I don’t have a lot of patience for being “impressed” by Delvey, or any of these grifters whose story reaches a wider audience thanks to a tense antihero miniseries on one streaming platform or another.

Those questions aside, I like the theme + revealer idea. At 78 words, there’s not a lot of room in the grid for interesting longer entries. I did like [Result of pressing the flesh?] for JUICE.

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30 Responses to Friday, September 29, 2023

  1. Maxine Nerdström says:

    I liked it too! The only clue that has me still scratching my head is 9D, GETS INSIDE, clued as “Seeks shelter.” Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but I don’t get it.

    Really liked the clues for MOONSHINE and STETSON, and CODESWITCH was fun to see. I just watched season two of Abbott Elementary so it was fun to see that particular AVA in the puzzle.

    A less confusing solve than yesterday’s with that odd glitch in the NYT app. I feel bad for that constructor that so many solvers couldn’t enjoy his puzzle as intended.

    • Martin says:

      You may be ovethinking that clue. “To avoid the hail, she gets inside / she seeks shelter.”

      • Dan says:

        The phrase “gets inside” means: manages to go from outside to inside.

        The phrase “Seeks shelter” means: *tries* to go inside, but says nothing at all about actually succeeding.

        It doesn’t take any overthinking to recognize the discrepancy.

        • Martin says:

          That’s why they’re called clues, not definitions.

          “I entered a cave, seeking shelter from the storm.” Sounds okay to my ear.

          • Dan says:

            Your example sounds fine to my ear, too.

            But it it not relevant to the issue here.

            I’ve often heard the explanation “That’s why they’re clues, not definitions,” but I don’t buy it as a reason to approve of a clue that is close but not a match to the meaning of the answer.

      • JohnH says:

        I’m with Martin. It’s true that, taken literally, “seeks” means looks but not necessarily finds, and I do sometimes hear “finds shelter.” But I’m used to “seek shelter” as a legit idiom for going inside, maybe because it’s so modest and of course that’s why you went inside. To say I sought shelter from the rain to means to say I ducked inside, not that I wandered about getting sopping wet.

        Reasonably hard Friday, which is fine with me. But I wonder if Jane Austen really wrote that.

  2. Mutman says:

    NYT: Good Friday. I thought 15D (Blunt Salespeople) could have used a ‘?’, especially since I spelled AUSTEN with an ‘I’ and had no idea what POT DIALER was.

    • Dallas says:

      I first had CAR DEALERS there… but I realized it didn’t fit the clue. Then I briefly had ART DEALERS (thinking maybe Blunt was an artist I wasn’t familiar with … ) before the answer popped in. Good Friday, and pretty fast solve too.

  3. rob says:

    NYT: Very enjoyable Friday puzzle! Thanks Malaika for brightening up a rainy, gloomy morning (at least here in the Northeast)

  4. Stephie says:

    Loved the NYT. It was clever, witty, and fun. It had a minimum of trivia, all of which was fair and solvable from reasonable crosses. It featured actual wordplay.
    This is probably why this constructor will likely never be published in The New Yorker.

    • DougC says:

      “a minimum of trivia…”: Well, except for a 1904 candidate crossing an Italian word, and a kid-lit character crossing some generational jargon. Those were tough spots for me.

      Otherwise, loved it, great entries and excellent clues!

      • DougC says:

        (Looking back over the grid): also NETS, TESS, MAEWEST, ARLO, UTES, NESS, ODIN, AUSTEN, AVA, SIKHS. All either known to me, or easy enough to guess, but certainly enough trivia to cause trouble for someone who hasn’t encountered them before.

      • Eric H says:

        The NE corner took about a third of the time I spent solving the puzzle. COTTA is a familiar word, but it didn’t come to mind when I was trying to think of something that means “baked.”

    • Gary R says:

      I’m always curious, reading the discussions here, about how people define “trivia.” By my quick count, about 1/3 of the entries in today’s puzzle involve knowing some “fact” as opposed to word meanings and/or plays on those words.

      Does it matter how important/significant the “fact” is? Is it a question of how widely known the “fact” is, regardless of how important it is? When the “fact” relates to an event, a person, or some work of art, does it matter how recent the reference is?

      Is the fact that the world’s major religions were birthed in ASIA trivia, or is that something that most of us should know or be able to figure out with a few moments of thought? Should I know or be able to infer that May-November is the rainy season in Central America? One of the best bits of wordplay (IMHO) in today’s puzzle was 12-A – but are the meanings of “still” and MOONSHINE common knowledge, or is that trivia?

      I thought today’s puzzle was about right for a Friday, and enjoyed the solve. But maybe it just hit my trivia “sweet spot.”

  5. Jamie says:

    Is this the third NYT puzzle in a row with “El Paso”?

  6. marciem says:

    LAT: I love this puzzle, puns are my favorite things!

    HOWEVER… I’m with pannonica re: bracelets… the word comes from the old french for arm, …i.e. bras… from Latin bracchium. Our ankles don’t have arms. If the words are interchangeable, why not clue putting an anklet on your wrist??

    Hold that line! :) .

  7. Me says:

    NYT: I paused the puzzle for a bit of time when I was halfway through, and the final time was correct, but when I look at my statistics, it looks like I only got marked for the second half of the time. Unsurprisingly, this is a new Friday Personal Best by far! I know the Games people will fix this, but does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could prevent this from happening again, or if they’ve experienced a similar issue? This happened to me once before as well. I didn’t actually close the window in between, so I’m not sure I understand what happened there.

  8. Alison L. says:

    tube feature with the, answer GAP. Can some one explain please.

    • Eric H says:

      The London subway system is often referred to as the Tube. The gap is the space between the platform and the train car.

      When riding the Tube, you’ll hear a recorded warning to “Mind the gap” every time the train stops.

  9. Alison L. says:

    Oh thanks for the explanation. I thought of the London subway but didn’t equate it with the gap.

  10. Dan says:

    LAT: The clue “Compatriot” is used to clue ALLY.

    But a compatriot is not necessarily an ally: It means someone from the same country, or else a colleague. Colleagues (say in the same department of a college) have sometimes come to blows because they are nowhere near being allies. And (sad to say) many of my compatriots are clearly nothing like allies of mine.

  11. Seattle DB says:

    TNY: I’m rating this puzzle a “1” because the clues/answers for 19A & 53D don’t make any sense to me. 19A: “Sub’s key holder” is a “Dom”, which I guess means a dominatrix and a submissive. 53D: “Woof” is “Yikes”. WTF is this stuff!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hang on. Because your vocabulary is limited and a couple clues challenged you, the entire puzzle gets downgraded to a failing grade of 1 star? That perspective is bizarre! So you’re defining a worthless puzzle as one that doesn’t include only those usages you already know? Wild entitlement.

      If I were perplexed by a couple clues in a puzzle that wasn’t supposed to be extra-difficult, I might downgrade it by a half a star from how I felt about the rest of the puzzle. Might. Or I would just, I dunno, LEARN THE NEW THINGS and go on with my life rather than lashing out at the thing that had knowledge I lacked.

      • e.a. says:

        i agree with you 100%, this person is not entitled to having every puzzle cater exclusively to what they know and it’s bizarre if they think they are. i think they’re entitled to their opinion and maybe even to the opportunity to voice it; my question for you would be whether they’re entitled to having a say in what star rating is associated with the puzzle in such a visible place (personally i would say no, in sort of the same way i would say that someone should be allowed to say “lebron SUCKS” but that person should not be allowed to join doris burke in the booth for playoff games)

    • Lois says:

      Haha, I thank you, Seattle DB. For some reason I didn’t flag 19a with a question mark when I was doing the puzzle. In going over this old puzzle and the questions I had marked, I saw your protest. I must have thought that this had something to do with music. Since you explained 19a to me, I guess it did make sense to you after all.

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