Friday, October 20, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 5:06 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Jacob McDermott’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10/20/23 – no. 1020

Hey! Not a bad solving time considering I caught myself nodding off twice while working the puzzle. Not because the puzzle was dull, just that I stayed up too late last night.

Fave fill: PLEXIGLASS (guess they didn’t think “Plexiplastic” would sell as well), a GOODY BAG and PARTY FOUL evoking festivities, “SANTA BABY,” EVIL GENIUS, helpful-for-feet GEL INSERTS (you can put foot comfort in my crossword any time), DARN TOOTIN’, LIBERAL ARTS with a fun clue ([Oh, the humanities!]), BODY DOUBLES, SAFETY FIRST.

I will deduct points for any instance of “AH, ME,” which is among my least favorite entries of all time, and TO LET irks me because signs in the US invariably say “for rent.” Ick.

I just saw a YouTube video featuring a giant OTTER. [Cousin of a wolverine]? Oh, yeah. The giant otter can be six feet long, and it is indeed a carnivore that might eat piranhas and anacondas. You still think otters are adorable. Terrifying!

3.5 stars with the AHME TOLET deductions.

Jake Halperin’s Universal crossword, “Moving In”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases except that the letters IN have been moved to a different position, thereby creating crossword wackiness.

Universal crossword solution · “Moving In” · Jake Halperin · Fri., 10.20.23

  • 17a. [Eatery’s fancy tableware?] RESTAURANT CHINA. Chain.
  • 27a. [Bouncer at a wine bar?] PINOT GUARD. Point. Ha. I’m picturing a surly dude at a snooty bar.
  • 50a. [Young S.F. football fan?] NINER CHILD. Inner. I was confused for a minute, wondering if this was about Steve Young, the Niners QB when I lived in the Bay Area as a kid.
  • 65a. [Contemporary fabrics?] LATTER-DAY SATINS. Saints.

Nice theme that provided a pleasant aha moment once I got to the second entry. I would think there are a good number of potential theme answers here, so I wonder if it could be tightened up. But it’s nice as it is with lively theme entries.

I liked JUST IN CASE and “I’M A DAD!” in the fill. Never heard BALL IS LIFE, but that’s not saying much.

Clues of note:

  • 46a. [Silver Dollar City attraction]. RIDE. Never heard of this theme park near Branson, MO. I really thought this was about Nevada (the Silver State) and was going to be about gambling.
  • I enjoyed these crossing clues: 23a [That’s what you think!] for IDEA and 5d [It’s the wurst!] for SAUSAGE.
  • 7d. [Where a Dorito shaped like the pope’s hat sold for $1,209]. EBAY. I guess I need to be a bit more judicious  when I rip into a bag of Cool Ranch.

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Carly Schuna’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #48″—Jenni’s write-up

This is a themeless with a mini-theme and I thoroughly enjoyed both parts.

Inkubator, October 19, 2023, Carly Schuna, “Themeless #48,” solution grid

The mini-theme:

  • 40a [Pup’s post-surgery accessory] is the CONE OF SHAME.
  • 53a [Joke everyone with a “sled dog” has heard about 1,000 times] is WHOS WALKING WHO? Our first black lab pulled like a freight train and we definitely heard that a lot.

Other things I liked:

  • 9d [Gender discrimination that hasn’t changed much in the last two decades] is the PAY GAP. I don’t like the PAY GAP. I do appreciate the attention to it. Let’s remember that a significant part of the gap is the motherhood penalty. Women with children are paid less, are less likely to advance, and are less likely to be hired in the first place. And since all women are presumed to at some point become mothers….you do the math.
  • 44a [Manhattan summer?] is a fun clue for BAR TAB. You add up the costs of your Manhattans.
  • I enjoyed having HORA and AHORA in the same grid.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ASHA means “alive and well” in Arabic.

Katie Hale and Chandi Deitmer’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 10/20/23 • Fri • Hale, Deitmer • solution • 20231020

  • 40aR [Staple legumes, or parsed differently, what 16- and 24-Across did for 51- and 63-Across] LENTILS. The bigram IL has been transferred from the upper two theme answers to the others in the lower half of the grid.
  • 16a. [“Alert: Yo-Yo’s here!”?] YOU’VE GOT MA (you’ve got mail).
  • 24a. [Machines used on a peacock farm?] FEATHER PLOWS (feather pillows).
  • 51a. [Really hot person in the cockpit?] MELTING PILOT (melting pot).
  • 63a. [Wooden model of an Italian city?] STICK MILAN (stick man).

These mechanical themes based on random amenable words are starting to wear thin for me. I think the field is becoming exhausted. Not to pick on this puzzle specifically, but it does feel as if we are approaching the bottom of the barrel.

  • 6d [To, the contrary] FRO. Punctuation!
  • 14d [Tahiti sweetie] AMIE. Oh right, French there.
  • 38d [Lob] TOSS. 42a [Like some larb] LAO.
  • 40d [Exempli gratia, e.g.] LATIN. Cute meta-clue.
  • 53d [Bhagavad-__ ] GITA.

    close enough?
  • 64d [Flat-iron brand] CHI. First time I’ve seen this reference for that entry.
  • 5a [Recipient of a half-hearted gift?] BFF. I’m supposing this is one of those paired pendants that fit together to make a whole. So, quite a literal clue.
  • 12a [Encouraging start?] ATTA. As in, attaboy and attagirl.
  • 36a [Performed a saut de chat, e.g.] LEAPT. This is a ballet term.

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27 Responses to Friday, October 20, 2023

  1. Dan says:

    LAT: The 50D clue “Sch. with a Twin Cities campus” strikes me as wrong.

    It is true that the University of Minnesota has a portion of it that is called “University of Minnesota, Twin Cities”.

    But in fact this comprises *two* campuses: one in Minneapolis and a separate one, 5.7 miles away by road, in St. Paul.

  2. Amagerikaner says:

    11-down D.I.Y. booster seats
    I wonder how many younger solvers will have ever heard of a phone book?

    Darn tootin’!

    • Papa John says:

      Our rural phone book is less than a quarter inch. Our county book is about an inch thick. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, however, I did sit on very think books, both white and yellow pages. When I was still making paintings, I used old phone books as disposable paint rags.

  3. David L says:

    NYT was good. I didn’t know SAMSA — cousin of SAMOSA? — or PARTYFOUL, but the latter at least was pretty obvious from a few crossings. I was puzzled by ROAN clued as a kind of leather, but Google says it’s legit.

    PSA: As an avid DIYer, currently rehabbing an old farmhouse, I would like to say that SAFETYFIRST is not an “adage for the risk-averse.” It’s a fundamental principle when using power tools, climbing up ladders, moving heavy objects, etc etc.

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t know those either, and I’ve definitely never seen samosa spelled SAMSA for all the Indian restaurants near me. Not in RHUD either. Generally, seemed like a good puzzle, just not on my wavelength. Oh, well, win a few etc. Say, I didn’t remember SANTA BABY or the location in Lawrence of Arabia and didn’t know Zimmer, Cornish, AUDIE, or the current use of FIRE. I had Decon for ORKIN, which has limited, commercial-only service in NY, and not having children or a car barely have booster seats barely on my radar. Never wanted spikes as a runner either, but then all of NYC is paved or, like the Central Park reservoir, level.

      I don’t really get the clue for LIBERAL ARTS. I’ve never wanted to dump on the humanities, and I’d hate it if others apart from Ron DeSantis and his awful faction did.

      • Eric H says:

        The LIBERAL ARTS clue is just a play on the radio announcer Herbert Morrison’s reporting of the Hindenburg crash (1937), with “Oh, the humanity!”

        SAMSA was new to me. They’re from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan) and aren’t fried (as samosas are).

  4. Peggy Priem says:

    I’m wondering if someone could tell me why the last 3 Friday WSJ puzzles don’t work. I tried filling in the answers but I could fill the whole grid with X’s. Did they change something and I missed it? Can that be changed?

    I’m solving in AcrossLite app.

  5. Ed says:

    I believe “to let” is a regionalism, New England or maybe just Massachusetts?

  6. Katie says:

    Fraser repeatedly called upon, for me, to successfully get through the New Yorker puzzle today…

    Very nice! :-)

    • Eric H says:

      Clever comment!

      I didn’t understand the theme until I had finished the puzzle. I have a minor quibble in that “Fave accessories for winter” works as a clue for ICICLE LIGHTS, but I enjoyed the puzzle all the same. The clues for WIRE and COMMA were nice.

      • Gary R says:

        The “W” in WIRE/SWAG was my last entry in the puzzle. Just wasn’t coming up with SWAG until I ran the alphabet. It still took me a moment to get the clue for WIRE – finally, a nice “aha!”

      • Iggystan says:

        The clue is really “Eave accessories for winter” based on the theme of “bottom line.” All of the themers start with “F” when then should start with “E,” which is an “F” without its bottom line.

        • Eric H says:


          I understood the theme. I just thought ICICLE LIGHTS stood out because none of the other theme answers make any sense until you change the F to an E. By contrast, ICICLE LIGHTS sort of makes sense with the unaltered clue.

        • Iggystan says:

          Sorry, I guess I should have read your comment a little more closely. And sorry for the double post, it looked originally like my comment didn’t post.

      • Iggystan says:

        If you got the theme, then “Fave accessories for winter” becomes “Eave accessories for winter.” All of the themers start with “F,” which becomes an “E” if you add a “bottom line.”

      • Katie says:

        Eric: I agree.

        Not only do both work, but realizing “eaves” is the word isn’t oozing out a happy “aha” sort of result you’d wish for, for a theme entry, since “faves” is a funner word than “eaves”, in modern language. :-P Minor quibble, only. (Full stop.) That E-vs-F first letter space is very constrained. (East vs Fast part of the grid, I’d originally thought, in commenting – but no, that’d be the other way around…)

        Anyway, as a serious question here, folks: How often is a letter-switch used in the theme CLUES (versus in answers)? I liked that.

        (In trying to get the East parts of the grid ASAP, I got “BOTTOM LINE” right away. Again, I know. That’s the wrong way around… for East/Fast wordplay. But my point is: I was careless in reading that…)

    • Lois says:

      Katie, your comment is fun indeed! All the apologies and explanations here are fine with me for the New Yorker puzzle, because it never got its review from Matt.

  7. JohnH says:

    I had never heard of ICICLE LIGHTS, but generally puzzle’s fill went fine. My quibble would be that I don’t much care for the theme. I know that TNY isn’t really into themes. Almost all their Fridays don’t require any special deduction to get the theme answers. In this one, I got the revealer first having gained my first fill toward the bottom, and then it was trivial. There was only one possible letter change in each clue, and getting the answer was the same as for an unthemed puzzle. Not that I think anyone could have figured out all that fast what was going on without the revealer.

    Others here seem to have liked the puzzle, but I often encounter that and disagree on Fridays. There’s a big crossword fan base here, Amy foremost, that prefers unthemed puzzles as exercising pure crossword skills.

  8. Iggystan says:

    For me, the last couple of Friday NYT puzzles have taken me less time to complete than the last couple of Thursday puzzles.

  9. Seattle DB says:

    TNY: Fun puzzle by Ross Trudeau, and I hope that he returns to posting his other puzzles on his website:

Comments are closed.