Friday, October 6, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 5:00 (Amy) 


Universal 4:34 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:01 (Darby) 


Courtney Essary Messenbaugh’s Inkubator crossword, “Oh na-na, what’s my name?”—Jenni’s write-up

A hearty Fiend welcome to Courtney! This is her world debut and I look forward to more. There’s a lot of theme material and the fill is smooth. Bonus for me: this puzzle features one of my daughter’s favorite performers.

The theme answers seem sort of random.

Inkubator, October 5, 2023, Courtney Essary Messenbaugh, “Oh na-na, what’s my name?”, solution grid

  • 1a [*Too much of it makes Jack a dull boy] is WORK.
  • 22a [*Gems stolen in “Ocean’s 8”] are DIAMONDS.
  • 33a [*Request from a child who wants a better view] is LIFT ME UP.
  • 56a [*Something to do before the curtain closes] is TAKE A BOW.
  • 67a [*Useful item for when it 13-Across] is UMBRELLA.
  • 77a [*Command to Fido] is STAY.

The revealer is in the center: 45a [Businesswoman and artist with the songs that answer this puzzle’s starred clues] is RIHANNA. We have other theme entries as well. 55d [___ Ball (45-Across’s “Ocean’s 8” character) is NINE. 79a [Pulitzer-winning album that features 45-Across on “LOYALTY”] is DAMN (she is featured and Kendrick Lamar is the primary artist). 66d [____ Beauty (cosmetics brand created by 45-Across] is FENTY. I had to look up the Kendrick Lamar info. FENTY was a gimme because of the aforementioned daughter.

The grid is larger than usual to accommodate all the theme entries and I am totally OK with that.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer. I also did not know that RIHANNA  appeared in “Ocean’s 8” or that the D&D ELF is know for gracefulness and longevity.

Zhouqin Burnikel & Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10/6/23 – no. 1006

Oh, hey! It’s the Minnesota dynamic duo, Zhouqin and Tom. Boswords Fall Themeless League competitors kicked off the tournament (it’s not too late to sign up!) with a tough Pepper themeless (which took me twice as long as the Friday puzzle did … though Erik Agard solved the Boswords puzzle in just over a fourth of my time), and in the constructor interview, his penchant for collaborations was discussed. (He’s never not had fun co-constructing.)

Fave fill: Writer ELIE Mystal (here’s a piece he wrote for The Nation about the Montgomery Riverwalk incident this summer–he’s an ELIE worth knowing), BUNGEE JUMP, SMOG ALERTS (so grateful that the Canadian wildfire smoke didn’t endlessly wreck our air quality), EL NORTE, “GET LOST,” GUINEA PIGS, PRIVATE EYE (good clue: [Spade, for one]), FRONT ROW SEAT, and SOUR GRAPES.

Three more things:

  • I like the two-fer of [“Beat it!”] for GET LOST and [Beat it!] for an EGG.
  • Never heard of a DEMO LESSON, 11d. [Part of a teacher’s job interview], but it’s workable with some crossings.
  • 12d. [They might drive you to a flight], FEARS. As in the fight-or-flight response to a fearful trigger. Classic “Seinfeld” line that’s irrelevant here: “I’m not drivin’ him to the airport!”

Four stars from me.

Ruth Bloomfield Margolin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 10/6/23 • Fri • Margolin • solution • 20231006

  • 64aR [Measure of grossness avoided in the answers to the starred clues?] ICK FACTOR. That trigram is dropped from the original phrases.
  • 17a. [*Litter collection vehicles?] PUP TRUCKS (pickup trucks).
  • 24a. [*Malcolm’s status at the end of “Macbeth”?] ALIVE AND KING (alive and kicking). Nice, definitely my favorite of these.
  • 38a. [*”Arf” or “meow”?] PET LINE (picket line).
  • 52a. [*Source of friction when a messy person lives with a neatnik?] STY SITUATION (sticky situation).

With PUP and PET and STY it could seem like an animal-based theme, but that’s just a distraction.

  • 1d [ __Mundial de Fútbol] COPA. 5a [Tarot suit] CUPS.
  • 11d [Post production?] RAISIN BRAN, made by the Post cereal company.
  • 22d [Like some ancient Peruvian pottery] INCAN. 29d [Like all ancient Peruvian pottery] MADE BY HAND. I wonder which clue came first.
  • 47d [Native New Yorkers] SENECAS. Of the Haudenosaunee, they lived farthest west.
  • 55d [Dried Mexican chile] ANCHO. Specifically, it’s the dried poblano pepper.
  • 60d [Fall fast asleep, with “out”] ZONK. Such a fun word.
  • Nestor notabilis

    65d [Hawaii’s Mauna __ ] KEA. 31a [Actor Reeves] KEANU. Though both names are Hawai’ian in origin, they do not seem to be related. Brief internet sleuthing suggests that Maunakea translates to ‘white mountain’ (although there is reference to a legendary figure named Wākea or just Kea. On the other hand, Keanu apparently means ‘cool breeze’.

  • 58a [Regret not wearing a coat, say] FREEZE. Well that sounds extreme. I guess the ‘say’ in the clue indicates hyperbole. That’s a different function than it typically has in crosswords.

Parker Higgins’s Universal crossword, “Game Faces”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are two-word animals whose first words are also face cards. The two-part revealer is WILD / CARD (69a, [With 59-Down, unpredictable factor … and a hint to the starred clues’ answers

Universal crossword solution · “Game Faces” · Parker Higgins · Fri., 10.6.23

  • 3d. [*Long-eared hare] JACKRABBIT.
  • 7d. [*Striped semiaquatic reptile] QUEEN SNAKE.
  • 11d. [*Bird known for its long, sharp bill] KINGFISHER.

Nice. Serendipity at work here with all three animals the same length. I’ve heard of a king snake, but not a QUEEN SNAKE. That’s not saying much, though.

The grid may be a little light on theme material, but it was still a fun solve. I especially like how the “cards” are in order. And that’s a pretty unique way to present the revealer, but one can even argue it’s somewhat thematic in an all-bets-are-off kinda way.

I enjoyed the grid design as well with those long vertical stacks, all filled quite nicely. I especially liked “I’M NOT READY,” AERIALISTS, and JETSETS. Plus, the crossing of “GOT A SEC?” and KA-POW!

Clues of note:

  • 24a. [Person in car lots?]. ARLO. There he is –> “cAR LOts”
  • 63a. [Org. behind the game Lobster Liberation]. PETA. It’s a Frogger-type game which you can play here. Oddly, your lobster will undoubtedly need the services of the paramedics more often than you’d expect, given who created the game.

3.75 stars.

Rafael Musa & Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today crossword, “Omg”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer includes OMG split between two wors.

Theme Answers

Rafael Musa & Rebecca Goldstein's USA Today crossword, "Omg" solution for 10/6/2023

Rafael Musa & Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today crossword, “Omg” solution for 10/6/2023

  • 18a [Lose power and prestige] FALL FROM GRACE
  • 34a [Annual prize for gay male poetry] THOM GUNN AWARD
  • 51a [Savory veggie-based sauce] MUSHROOM GRAVY

I really loved this grid as a whole. It had so much fresh fill and some really excellent clues. The theme here was really simple but cute. There was also such a nice variety in this set of three 13s. MUSHROOM GRAVY was my favourite, but I also love that it highlights a queer poetry award.

I’ve been clocking well under three and a half minutes lately with USA Today puzzles, and this one is no different. However, I think that there were plenty of things I didn’t know, like the THOM GUNN AWARD or 16a [“This Arab is Queer’ author Eltahawy] MONA. Yet, the crosses were really fair and made for a great experience. I’ll be delighted to dive into This Arab is Queer when I get a chance.

This grid is symmetric, which is impressive with three longer themers. Plus, the corners are really open, and you can flow nicely between them.The four 9s feel like bonus content. 2d [Jiggly, boozy party treat] JELLO SHOT and 33d [Person buying kitty litter and laser pointers] CAT PARENT were especially fun.

Some others Friday faves:

  • 6d [Board game whose dice tower is a bird feeder] – I’d be remiss to not mention the appearance of WINGSPAN because I’m obsessed with it. In fact, Stonemaier Games just released a fan art pack of bird cards, which is really cool.
  • 20d [“Jeopardy!” champion Schneider] – This puzzle highlights so many amazing women, from AMY Schneider to the fictional SUPERHEROes in 9d [Batwoman or Black Widow] to MONA Eltahawy.
  • 54a [“Choose a side” candy bar] – I enjoyed this as a fun clue for TWIX; it’s just such a hilarious campaign.

Overall, this was a really wonderful puzzle!

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Friday, October 6, 2023

  1. Dan says:

    I liked the NYT puzzle a lot today. Very fresh and fun!

    • Dallas says:

      Agreed! I learned a few words (TANSY and TRICE were new to me). I got hung up because I had YAMS instead of HAMS, and I thought TYESE was some strange name instead of being THESE… oh well; sometimes those mental blocks take a little to get over. Still faster than average time :-)

  2. Lois says:

    It was surprising to me how doable the NYT puzzle was, despite its forbidding look. I hardly knew any of the proper nouns or the clues related to them, and thought there was no way in, but I think I finished correctly. Great construction.

  3. Mutman says:

    NYT: I thought it was a tough puzzle, especially the north. Having trailing Ys on WACKO and ASHLEE slowed me down.

    But fair and enjoyable!

  4. DougC says:

    NYT: Loved this puzzle! Appropriately challenging; a little trivia, but not too much; a lot of wordplay, and a lot of fun.

  5. Lois says:

    New Yorker: Solvers were churlish today with this crossword. The theme might be old school, but the fill feels fresh.

    • JohnH says:

      “fresh,” which is to say to me thoroughly obscure and a nasty solve. The NYT was really rewarding, though, even with the tough extended NW. I did have the Y’s Mutman notes but felt good in overcoming them. Now I’ll have to go look up Skip Day, which isn’t obvious from the answer and its name.

      The Nation writer that Amy praises sounds good. I have to admit, though, I stopped looking at it beyond the headlines. They got really, really strict on reading sample articles even occasionally. (I do differ violently with them on politics, but not on policy and principle.)

      • pannonica says:

        You can find Elie Mystal at plenty of venues. And his most recent book came out earlier this year (or was it late last year?).

        • JohnH says:

          Thanks. I just found a review of his of a book by John McWhorter, which seemed right on, and I see he’s written book reviews a couple of times for the NYT. But I can see too why his name doesn’t ring a bell. It was very hard to find a review of his own book in the mainstream press. Hmm.

    • Eric H says:

      The theme *is* old school. It also doesn’t entirely work, since the Greek cheese cam be pronounced as FEH-tuh or FAY-tuh, giving you two theme answers that have the long A sound. Maybe a word with “meta-“ would have been a better choice, though that would have required a different title.

      I’m not a vegan, so PETA-APPROVED seems mildly green-painty (though I fully believe that it is a thing).

      I struggled with this one more than I expected to. The NW corner particularly gave me trouble: I had no idea who “The Bear” star was (I have a rough idea of the concept of the show, but that’s it), and since I hadn’t yet figured out the theme, he could easily have been ALLaN (or even ALLyN, which was my father’s middle name). STUTTER-STEP was sort of new; I’m guessing that’s basketball? Soccer? ANT hills before NESTS didn’t help.

      Overall, I liked the puzzle. I just wish it hadn’t taken me almost as long as this week’s Monday New Yorker puzzle.

      • Squidley Juan says:

        The “feh-tah” is a bastardisation started by a clueless commercial decades ago. Unfortunately it stuck. Like the Greek letters, the only true pronunciation of “feta” is “fay-tah.”

        My entire life, I pronounced it “fay-tah” and one person even said to me, “what language are you speaking?!”


        That truism makes this puzzle completely baseless.

  6. Seattle DB says:

    One thing I really enjoy about this site is that there are very many reviewers and commenters who are very pedantic about semantics. (Kind of lingually romantic, don’t ya think?)

Comments are closed.