Friday, November 3, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 4:29 (Amy) 


Universal 9-something (Jim) 


USA Today 3:50 (Darby) 


Thanks for your patience Thursday while our webhosting service had a power outage, folks. I Didn’t Do It.™—Amy

Priyanka Sethy’s Inkubator crossword, “It’s Extremely Popular in Some Circles”—Jenni’s write-up

The title pretty much says it all. Each theme answer has circles at the start and end that spell out a word.

Inkubator, November 2, 2023, Priyanka Sethy, “It’s Extremely Popular in Some Circles,” solution grid

  • 16a [English title for Valeria Luiselli’s novel “Los ingravidos”] is FACES IN THE CROWD. FAD.
  • 27a [Bat mitzvahs and quinceaneras, e.g.] are RITES OF PASSAGE. Raise a Jewish kid in a majority Latinx city and she will start attending b’nai mitzvot in sixth grade and go right on through the quinceaneras to the Sweet Sixteen parties. RAGE
  • 47a [Adventure novel whose male protagonist was played by Shirley Mason in a 1920 film adaptation] is TREASURE ISLAND. TREND.
  • 62a [“Because He Liked to Look At It,” for one] is VAGINA MONOLOGUE. VOGUE.


What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: the info in 16a and 62a was all new to me.

Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 11/3/23 – no. 1103

Whaddaya know? Robyn’s up to her usual shenanigans. Filling the grid with sparkly longer answers, with nary a single roll-your-own BS word. SHAKERS are actual things, whereas a nonsense word like swellers would be lousy fill. Robyn’s got all this smooth surrounding fill cushioning all the flashy bits, and I like it.

Fave fill: TITLE ROLES, CAVE ART, ORIGIN STORIES (I need to make one up for myself), “KEEP THE CHANGE,” SPOKE UP (lotta that these days), “I LUCKED OUT,” SWEETIE, SHORT SHORTS, “DON’T TEMPT ME” (crossing a TORTE, no less), and ON A MISSION.

A few clues:

  • 14a. [Show that featured the first lesbian kiss on prime-time TV (1991)], L.A. LAW. Let me fire up my 1990s Wayback Machine and try to recall who was involved. I think it was Amanda Donohoe and … ugh, I have no idea. Wikipedia to the rescue; it was Michele Greene and it was merely a ratings grab. We’ve come a long way since 1991.
  • 34a. [Producers of green eggs (but not ham)], EMUS. Love this clue!
  • 33d. [Pool maker], TIDE. Interesting clue angle, referencing tide pools that gather such cool sea creatures.

4.25 stars from me.

Olivia Mitra Framke & Sally Hoelscher’s USA Today crossword, “Back Pockets”—Darby’s write-up

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: The second word of each theme answer (the “backs”) can follow POCKET.

Theme Answers

Olivia Mitra Framke & Sally Hoelscher's USA Today crossword, "Back Pockets" solution for 11/3/2023

Olivia Mitra Framke & Sally Hoelscher’s USA Today crossword, “Back Pockets” solution for 11/3/2023

  • 19a [Adjustments that might affect work hours] SCHEDULE CHANGE / POCKET CHANGE
  • 34a [Observe fellow passengers while watching for a flight, say] PEOPLE WATCH / POCKET WATCH
  • 54a [Activist involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests] WATER PROTECTOR / POCKET PROTECTOR

This was a cute theme! The three themers were each very fun, and I think it was a nice mix of recognizable and educational (if, like me, WATER PROTECTOR was new). Plus, who doesn’t love to PEOPLE WATCH? WATER PROTECTOR was the only one for which I needed crosses; the others fell into place pretty easily. The themers are EACH different lengths, so it’s no surprise that this an asymmetric grid. I think that this worked well in that each corner is pretty open and connected with the rest of the grid, with the tightest spaces being with the two rows of four threes (MEDAS ISPAORS and NAHTOMDOHTEE).

I really liked the Star Wars reference in 29a [Darth Vader’s answer to who killed Anakin Skywalker] I DID from Kenobi. 5d [“Only Murders in the Building” star Gomez] SELENA was also fun to see. Other faves included 2d [Word before “Flakes” or “trips] FROSTED, 8d [Garbanzo bean] CHICKPEA, and 37d [Beverage Judy the elf makes in “The Santa Clause”] HOT COCOA.

Josh M. Kaufmann’s Universal crossword, “Would They?”—Jim’s review

Theme answers come in pairs—an Across and a Down answer which cross at some point. The Across entry is clued as a homphonic phrase relating to a famous person and the corresponding Down answer.

Universal crossword solution · “Would They?” · Josh M. Kaufmann · Fri, 11.3.23

  • 5a. [Most comedians named Jimmy didn’t 5-Down, but …] CARDED. Carr did. With 5d CHECK ID. Do most Americans know Brit Jimmy Carr? You mention a “comedian named Jimmy” and you have a bevy of Americans who fit that bill.
  • 33a. [Most politicians named Al wouldn’t partake in 23-Down, but …] GOURMET. Gore may. With 23d FORMAL DINING.
  • 40a. [Most late-night hosts named Bill wouldn’t consume 4-Down, but…] MARMITE. Maher might. With 4d YEAST EXTRACT.
  • 66a. [Most actresses named Kathryn don’t drive 43-Down, but …] HONDAS. Hahn does. With 43d ACCORDS. I recognize the actress from WandaVision, but I didn’t know her name. At my age, I’m more familiar with Goldie Hawn than Kathryn Hahn.

Whew. This was confusing at first, with the cross-referencing and the entries not really matching the clues. And that first entry is a tough one to start with; since you’re already bound to be confused by the theme to begin with, if you don’t know who Jimmy Carr is, you might be turned off altogether.

Thankfully for me, I’ve at least heard of the guy, so at some point I just had to shut down my brain and “hear” the correct answers. Then things proceeded more swiftly after that. I’m sure this puzzle wasn’t for everyone, but once I got over the hump, I enjoyed the solve.

All the cross-referenced theme answers take up most of the grid real estate, but there are some nice 7s: FEDORAS, MITZVAH, and TRACTOR. DECODER would’ve been more fun clued with respect to a DECODER ring, but maybe I’m dating myself with that notion. I think I’ve seen FIOS [Verizon offering] in real life, but that doesn’t make it enjoyable fill. WFH (work from home) appeared once in a Jonesin’ puzzle in 2020, so this might be its non-indie puzzle debut.

Clues of note:

  • 54d. [Actress Espinosa]. EDEN. New cluing angle alert. She’s best known for her role in Wicked on Broadway.
  • 17a. [“Big Mouth” girl voiced by Nick Kroll]. LOLA. I’m always happy to show off voice acting talent. In addition to being the show’s creator, Nick Kroll does a number of voices for it. Here he is demonstrating his range for Jimmy Fallon.

Nice puzzle once you suss it out. 3.5 stars.

Zachary David Levy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 11/3/23 • Fri • Levy • solution • 20231103

I had a wrong letter and couldn’t find it. Turns out it was part of the revealer (which I’d never heard of) crossing an initialism that simply brainfarted on.

  • 61aR [Added panache, as was done three times in this puzzle?] ZHUZHED IT UP. A /zh/ sound has been suffixed to the first words of a few two-word phrases. Spelling is modified as necessary.
  • 17a. [Farmer’s tan?] BEIGE OF PIGS (Bay of Pigs).
  • 30a. [Battle hymn?] SIEGE SHANTY (sea shanty). I’m more likely to pronounce siege with a soft-G sound.
  • 49a. [Don rose-colored glasses?] ROUGE THE DAY (rue the day).

Between not knowing the revealing phrase and pronunciation of one of the three theme answers, this was not a home run for me. Also, it’s weird that two of the three zh-words are colors.

  • 25d [Common name of Taxus baccata] YEW. Per Wikipedia: “Taxus is the Latin word for this tree and its wood that is used to make javelins. The Latin word is probably borrowed, via Greek τόξον tóxon, from taxša, the Scythian word used for ‘yew’ and ‘bow’ (cognate of Persian تخش Taxš meaning bow) because the Scythians use its wood to make their bows.” I’m not sure, but this seems unrelated to the Latin word taxus meaning badger, which I am also speculating derives from something other than a Greek cognate.
  • 46d [Like many state mottoes] IN LATIN.
  • 62d [Initials in the news] UPI, not API—don’t know quite what I was thinking.
  • 29a [Org. with complex schedules] IRS. Our tax system is so byzantine as a means to create loopholes for the wealthy.
  • 60a [JFK-to-Tokyo carrier] ANA, All Nippon Airways.
  • 69a [Make a fast stop?] EAT. 26d [Green grp.] PGA.
  • 71a”Woman With a Parasol” painter Claude] MONET. One of my favorites from an artist I’m not particularly enamored of. He painted more than one version of it.
This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Friday, November 3, 2023

  1. Mutman says:

    NYT: solid, smooth fill from Robyn, as always!

    Was surprised to learn that Scrabble was invented in Nicaragua (NIC) until it wasn’t. Thought REMI was the rat!

    Again, great Friday!

    • Dallas says:

      Haha… I did EXACTLY the same thing :-)

      It was a bit slower for me than my usual Friday, but got it there. I at first thought ELLEN was the first lesbian kiss, but then realized the year was wrong. That whole NW corner was the last to come together for me… I guessed BLT, put in LAIC, and then wanted to put TAOS or VAIL, but neither were right (and I guess both have since relented and allowed snowboarders… when I was at Los Alamos in the late 90s, there were all these FREE TAOS bumper stickers).

      Despite the slower solve, a nice Friday with lots of fun clues and answers.

      • Eric H says:

        Taos allowed snowboards around 2015, maybe a little earlier. I remember my husband having to rent skis the first time we were at Taos (2010, maybe), but the last time we were there was in 2016, and I know he rode his board then.

  2. David L says:

    Nice NYT puzzle — but I want more of a challenge on Friday!

  3. Bigosz says:

    @Universal: I can vouch for Jimmy Carr. He’s all over my YouTube recommendations for some reason. Lots of videos of him owning hecklers. Definitely crossworthy imo.

  4. Lois says:

    Both the Times and New Yorker puzzles were so pleasant and fun today. I understand that if I could do them, others might be dissatisfied. I’m happy to get something easier once in a while.

    • Lois says:

      New Yorker: It was tactless of me to use the adjectives “pleasant” and “fun” for the New Yorker crossword, given the theme, but nevertheless I enjoyed it.

  5. Papa John says:

    Regarding yesterday’s outage — is there an alternative source for the puzzles?

  6. Dan says:

    LAT: I found this harder than most, getting stuck in the SW corner for a while.

    I was surprised that GULLET was clued with “Piehole”, since gullet means throat and piehole is slang for mouth.

    But maybe people say “Shut your gullet” the way they say “Shut your piehole”?

    • pannonica says:

      Yes, I chalked it up to idioms.

    • Eric H says:

      I can’t hear or read the word “piehole” without seeing Robert De Niro at his most unlikeable in “This Boy’s Life.” He plays the stepfather of the title character (Leonardo DiCaprio) and is constantly telling the kid, “Shut your piehole!” (I know I wasn’t supposed to “enjoy” that movie, but I found it really unpleasant. It just stirred up too many memories of my own childhood.)

  7. marciem says:

    LAT: I guess it might be regional or just me, but I pronounce the “ge” in siege differently than I do the ones in beige and rouge, the former almost like it were spelled sieje… Is it just me? the other two or definitely more zhuzh-y

    • David L says:

      I’m with you (and pannonica). I think it’s a misfire with the puzzle. I’ve never heard siege pronounced with a -zh- sound.

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni: Yikes! I don’t think I’ve been more confused by a Universal puzzle in the nearly 5-year tenure of David Steinberg as editor there. I finished it, but I completely missed the boat. Jimmy Carr and Kathryn Hahn? Ouch!

  9. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: I found the theme off-putting. I’m a little surprised that I finished solving it once I realized what the theme was (MID WAY had me expecting some sort of carnival theme; MARA THON could have been a race.)

    Just look at one of the battles: The casualties at Verdun totaled between 715,00 and 755,000, with possibly as many as 306,000 killed. Fun stuff!

    It’s too bad, because aside from the theme, it’s a fine puzzle.

    • David L says:

      I vividly remember driving through that part of France years ago. Endless lines of gravestones stretching to the horizon, with different sections for the many different nationalities. It’s a grimly impressive and sobering sight.

      • Eric H says:

        I’ve never been to France, but I’ve seen some of the battlefields from the American Civil War.

      • PJ says:

        As for grim, if you haven’t listened to it check out Dan Carlin’s “Ghosts of the Ostfront”, an episode of his Hardcore History covering the Eastern Front of WWII.

  10. Eric H says:

    LAT: “I had a wrong letter and couldn’t find it. Turns out it was part of the revealer (which I’d never heard of) crossing an initialism that simply brainfarted on.”

    That is almost exactly what happened to me, except that I never read the clue for HSN.

    I liked the theme but had some trouble figuring it out because I had mistyped GOES PRO and couldn’t see BEIGE. ROUGE THE DAY was my favorite theme answer.

Comments are closed.