Friday, November 10, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 2:37 (Matt) 


NYT 5:21 (Amy) 


Universal 4:15 (Jim) 


USA Today 7:17 (Emily) 


Kate Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 11/10/23 – no. 1110

A fun and lively themeless in the Friday difficulty range, just what we ordered.


Three things:

  • 39d. [Prepared, as green beans], SAUTEED. I spent decades boiling or steaming green beans, and my husband also grew up that way. But recently he converted us to sautéing green beans and I’ll be damned if they aren’t better that way.
  • Knowledge! 8d. [Only about 10% of human bodies have these], OUTIES.
  • 36d. [Doubloons], PISTOLES. So PISTOLES are coins and not guns? From a French word for gold coins and apparently unrelated to pistols, etymologically? Unless there are two separate Middle French pistoles?

Four stars from me. A classic sort of Friday puzzle.

Annemarie Brethauer’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 11/10/23 • Fri • Brethauer • solution • 20231110

  • 61aR [Excluded, and what 18-, 22-, 38-, and 56-Across need to match their clues?] LEFT OUT. That is, when OUT- is furnished in front of the ‘normal-seeming’ entries to wackify them, things make more sense.
  • 18a. [Pillow filling bought at wholesale?] LET DOWN (outlet down).
  • 22a. [Specialized session of baseball practice?] FIELD DAY (outfield day).
  • 38a. [Crown, scepter, and ermine robe?] FIT FOR A KING (outfit for a king).
  • 56a. [Barbie, bush telly, choccy biccy, etc.?] BACK TALK (outback talk). ‘Bush telly’ is new to me, but it’s legit.

Kind of weird as themes go, extra points for innovation.

  • 10d [Silences with a button] MUTES. 20a [Sent with a click] EMAILED.
  • 12d [Fiddle stick] BOW. Quite.
  • 65d [Demo stuff] TNT. Demo-lition.
  • 17a [Compete in a hybrid winter sport] PARA-SKI. I mentally furnished ‘Olympic’ in the clue, which impeded my recognition of the answer.
  • 58a [Share a course?] COTEACH. Great clue for not-so-great fill.

Aside from the theme, my biggest impression of this crossword is the quantity of 3-letter entries, many of them abbrevs. or initialisms—32 by my count.

Nate Cardin’s USA Today Crossword, “What a Triumph!” — Emily’s write-up

Congrats! Great job today!

Completed USA Today crossword for Friday November 10, 2023

USA Today, November 10 2023, “What a Triumph!” by Nate Cardin

Theme: the first word of each themer is a synonym for “triumph”


  • 20a. [Tale of triumph], SUCCESSSTORY
  • 39a. [Circumstance in which everyone triumphs], WINWINSITUATION
  • 55a. [Triumphant cry], VISTORYISMINE

Everything is coming up roses today! With a themer set of SUCCESSSTORY, WINWINSITUATION, and VISTORYISMINE, there is a lot of celebrating and good feelings to go around. Hooray!

Favorite fill: ANITA, ANCHOVIES, and BLURB

Stumpers: ENCODE (new to me in regards to cryptocurrency), ONESEED (“fan fave” came to mind first), and SRSLY (my txt speak is lacking so needed crossings)

Smooth solve with a fun grid, great theme and themer set, plus enjoyable bonus fill and cluing. I love puzzles when the grid really opens it up for a variety of entries and nice flow—I find it can allow for more possibilities and creativity. Nicely done, Nate!

4.75 stars


Gary Cee’s Universal crossword, “Stated Otherwise”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words are synonyms of the verb “put” (i.e. to situate in a specific location). The revealer is PUT DIFFERENTLY (57a, [In other words … or a hint to the ends of 16-, 24-, 34- and 48-Across]).

Universal crossword solution · “Stated Otherwise” · Gary Cee · Fri., 11.10.23

  • 16a. [Ruler, e.g.] MEASURING STICK.
  • 24a. [Doritos company] FRITO-LAY.
  • 34a. [Springboard] JUMPING-OFF PLACE.
  • 48a. [Repertoire on a resume] SKILL SET.

Nice, stealthy theme I don’t think I would have figured out without the revealer. The choices for theme entries are lively and interesting, and the revealer employed just a smattering of wordplay to make it fun. Nice job all around.

Note that the revealer is 14-letters long. Gary chose to put it in row 13, thereby requiring a set of blocks in the SW corner, but allowing for more room between theme answers in the grid. That’s a good choice (at least for this grid) that allows for more breathing space, fewer constraints, and better fill.

Speaking of which, highlights include: “FLOOR IT!,” ALL LIT UP, and REEFER. I’m on the fence with TV TROPE, I mean a trope is a trope whether it’s on TV or at the theater. SKIP AD sure looks like SKI PAD (whatever that would be).

I also like seeing Admiral ACKBAR. “It’s a trap!” shows up as crossword fill every once in a while, so it’s good to see the guy who says it. Note that the Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar” (which means “God is greater”) is spelled sans C.

Clue of note: 26d. [Pres. sworn in aboard Air Force One]. LBJ. Interesting. I never realized this was the case, but it makes sense given the events of earlier that day. Note that the plane was still on the ground in Dallas when the Oath of Office was administered.

Good theme, smooth fill. Four stars.

Jasmeet Arora’s Inkubator crossword, “Chart Toppers”—Jenni’s write-up

This was a fun puzzle to solve and I finished it with absolutely no idea about the theme. I blame jet lag and the fact that I do mostly puzzles that don’t have titles, because the title is the key to the whole thing. Thanks to Shannon for cluing (!) me in. Love Team Fiend.

The theme answers are all going down and they all have asterisks.

Inkubator, November 9, 2023, Jasmeet Arora, “Chart Toppers,” solution grid

  • 3d [*Present condition?] is FLOW STATE. Had to think about that for a second. That’s the state of being fully in the present and focused on what you’re doing.
  • 16d [*Cosmetic product with pencil and liquid forms] is an EYELINER.
  • 21d [*Motorola Razr, for one] is a FLIP PHONE.
  • 31d [*Shell for circular desserts] is a PIE CRUST.
  • 33d [*Title awarded in most episodes of a “Great British” show] is STAR BAKER.

Once I looked back at the title I realized it’s FLOW chart, EYE chart, FLIP chart, PIE chart, and STAR chart. Since the theme clues go down each chart is at the top. Very clever!

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that CHLOE wrote and recorded a song called “In Pieces.” Here it is. So glad I looked for this – I’ll be listening to more of her work.

Adam Aaronson’s New Yorker crossword—Matt’s recap

Adam Aaronson’s New Yorker crossword solution, 11/10/2023

I needed the revealer to pull the themers together today, but let’s start with the latter:

  • 17a [Inopportune time to get a pimple] PICTURE DAY
  • 25a [Player who might have an ace up their sleeve] CARD SHARP. I always think this is “card shark,” and it very rarely, if ever, is. Is that an eggcorn of my own making, or have I heard it somewhere?
  • 39a [Daunting task on a driving task, perhaps] PARALLEL PARKING
  • 49a [Move forward with audience support?] CROWD SURF
  • 62a [Fail to think of anything … or a crossword clue for the first word of 17-, 25-, 39-, or 49-Across] DRAW A BLANK

Fun revealer: PICTURE, CARD, PARALLEL, and CROWD are all things one can “draw.” And each is a different aspect of the verb “to draw,” at that.

I enjoyed the fill, as I’ve come to expect from New Yorker Fridays.

  • 27a [Michael of “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”] PENA. I mostly know and appreciate Peña from his comedic roles (except CHiPs, which is a stain on the memory of the TV series), but see he has substantial filmography in more serious parts, as well. The Dora movie, in which Peña plays the main character’s father, has some amusing gags playing on the character’s fourth wall-breaking asides.
  • 6d [Porter, but not Pilsner] ALE. A Pilsner being a variety of lager — lagers and ales are the two broadest categories of beer styles, with most other familiar terms being subsets of one or the other.
  • 12d [Sci-fi subgenre that imagines a sustainable future] SOLARPUNK. This term is new to me, but inferable enough from “steampunk,” a related sci-fi subgenre the clue nods to here.
  • 38d [“Sometimes it makes you trip out on your people,” per a A Tribe Called Quest] EGO. Compared to entries like ART, LOVE, and LIFE, we have only begun to scratch the surface of quotes from artists, philosophers, and musicians that allow us fill-in-the-blank clues like this for EGO.
  • 41d [Effect used heavily in shoegaze music] REVERB. “What is shoegaze music?”, you might ask? I’m not entirely sure myself, and have a general sense from its occasional appearance in crossword clues.
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17 Responses to Friday, November 10, 2023

  1. Mutman says:

    NYT: fun, lively fill.

    Green beans: when SNIPPED didn’t work, SAUTÉED worked fine.

    I parboil first then SAUTÉ with garlic, olive oil, sliced almonds, salt and pepper. Delicious!!

    • Dallas says:

      Green beans and corn on the cob are veggies that can essentially be eaten raw when they’re fresh (I remember snipping green beans from the garden and eating every third one as a kid); minimal cooking is usually the way to go… maybe just get them hot so the butter melts ;-)

      Great Friday; the NE was the last for me as I put in SKIM for milk, and even though I felt that copy cat? had to be MEOW, I wasn’t sure what milk would go in there…

    • DougC says:

      Fun and fast. Loved the long fill!

      A couple of hiccups: my Chesterfield was a sofa before it was a coat, and I entered MISC reluctantly only when there was no other choice, due to my belief that it properly belongs at the head of a list, rather than the end.

      And, unfortunately, a couple of PERNICIOUS entries. Mason jars have RIMS, but RIMS are NOT “things on” Mason Jars, IMO. Those things ON the jars (as others have noted) are rings. And then there’s those PISTOLES. Wikipedia informs me that I would have known this one, had I read my Dumas. Guilty as charged.

  2. Me says:

    NYT: Can someone explain 11D. “I don’t approve of what you’re doing, but OK” for BELIKETHAT? What would be a context in which BELIKETHAT would have that meaning? I think of the clue as something like YOUBEYOU, and I haven’t heard of BELIKETHAT with the “I don’t approve” aspect. But maybe I’m missing something.

    It seems the consensus at Rex Parker and Wordplay is that this was an easier Friday, but I actually went beyond my Saturday average on this one. I had a lot of trouble in the Eastern half. I had never heard of PISTOLES , and I think a lot of the cluing was more Saturday-ish (ZITS as a comic strip, EWES milk, Book of ODES… and I’m still not sure why RIMS are specific for mason jars rather than jars in general) .

    I also put in LOP for SIP and RAD for FAB, which were close enough that I had trouble realizing they were wrong. So a lot of little glitches that added up.

    • David L says:

      “Well, be like that!”, said in a huff, was something my mother would say to me and my brothers when we were being difficult or obstreperous. It’s a mild reproach.

      It was a very easy Friday for me. The clue for RIMS is indeed odd. I wonder if the constructor/editor is confusing rims with rings.

      • Eric H says:

        I wondered if the rings on Mason jars might also be called RIMs, but they’re not.

        Of course, like any other jar, a Mason jar has a rim, so the clue is correct. But I think the real reason it uses “Mason jars” is for the quasi-rhyme with “racing cars.”

        Count me as one who found this one easy — supposedly my fifth fastest Friday NYT puzzle, and that included 30 seconds or so to find a typo at the end.

        I intensely disliked the theme of Katie Hawkins’ NYT debut a few years ago (the fact that I remember it is an indication of how off-putting I found it). But I have truly enjoyed some of her more recent puzzles.

        • Me says:

          David L and Jim, thank you for explaining BELIKETHAT!

          Eric H, I went to xwordinfo to find Katie Hawkins’s debut puzzle, and it was a themeless. What was the theme you disliked so much?

          • Eric H says:

            Oops! My mistake!

            The theme from her February 23, 2021, puzzle was the one I so disliked. That was her fifth NYT puzzle.

            Maybe in my mind, it was her debut because I had then recently started trying to construct puzzles myself. I saw that theme and thought, “If this is what Will Shortz is looking for, do I even want to be in this competition?”

          • David L says:

            Eric, I think you’re probably right about the mason jars/racing cars assonance. I bet Ms Hawkins was very pleased with herself for coming up with that clue, and we’re all going, huh, don’t get it.

            • Eric H says:

              “Assonance” — That sounds much more educated than “quasi-rhyme.” Thanks!

              I don’t know if it’s Will Shortz or someone on his team who likes that sort of clue, but I feel like I see a lot of clues like that. Maybe someone has been playing Connections too much.

    • Jim says:

      NYT 11D: Often heard when two people are having a heated disagreement, and one is stubbornly clinging to an idea, an attitude, or a questionable action – his counterpart will give in, saying, “FINE! Be like that!”

  3. cyberdiva says:

    NYT I’ve often heard “OK, be like that!” to indicate resigned disapproval. The fact that the clue ended with “OK” really helped me, since it made it seem as if the OK belonged as well to the “be like that” that followed.

    Good puzzle, though I suspect I found it somewhat more of a challenge than most folks here.

  4. CSC says:

    The USA Today one was… well, usually with a “all first/last words are synonyms for a title/revealer word,” the long themers usually are phrases change the meaning of that first/last word (ex.: If the theme were card suits, answers might be GARDENSPADE or CLUBSANDWICH)

    But in this puzzle… SUCCESS, WIN, and VICTORY were all were used synonymously with TRIUMPH, so there’s not that extra bit of concealment or changed meaning. I guess it works as a “phrases about a triumph,” but I wouldn’t call it a “this word has synonyms in the puzzle” puzzle.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: I think the original term CARD SHARP has been long-ago corrupted into CARD SHARk, probably because of the existence of the term “pool shark.”

    I’ve been lucky enough to see this painting two or three times:

    I failed my first attempt to get a driver’s license because I was nervous during the PARALLEL PARKING (which was the first part of the test). I did much better with the bar exam. Although I took it twice, they were in different states.

    Like Matt, I didn’t get the theme until I had the revealer. But I enjoyed it anyway.

  6. Eric H says:

    Universal: “Clue of note: 26d. [Pres. sworn in aboard Air Force One]. LBJ.”

    I was a toddler when Kennedy was killed, but my parents had a big book about the assassination that was full of photos. I clearly remember a picture of LBJ being sworn in by Judge Sarah T. Hughes (the first and only woman to administer the presidential oath of office).

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