Friday, December 1, 2023

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 4:13 (norah) 


NYT 5:59 (Amy) 


Universal 4:44 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:16 (Darby) 


Jem Burch’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 12/1/23 – no. 1201

Quick write-up since it’s getting late.

Fave fill: ROCK-CLIMB, FLOAT ON AIR (try not to combine these two activities), QUANTUM LEAP, BUNNY SLOPES, SASHA OBAMA, VOICE-OVER, SURFER (this fill is waaay too outdoor-adventure for me, honestly), QUEER EYE (season 8’s coming January 24), SLOT CANYONS (see? hiking, right here), SMOOTHIES, ROYAL PALACE.

Not too familiar to me: 42a. [Bringing in, as a sail], REEFING. Not a sailor. (See above.)

Been watching Primal Survivor (Nat Geo show on Hulu) lately, and I just this evening learned that the fish called the TANG (not the way it’s clued here–that’s [Chinese dynasty in which gunpowder was invented]) has a wicked spine near its tail to slash predators, be they animal or human. And I thought Dory from Finding Nemo was so sweet and harmless.

A question: Is GAOL, [Medieval lockup], truly a historical term? I kinda figured the British were still putting people in gaol. Have they switched to prison?

Four stars from me.

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

LAT • 12/1/23 • Fri • Hale • solution • 20231201

  • 38aR [Classic demonstration, and a way to describe the relationship between each starred clue and its answer] TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE. Okay, so each clue is in the form of abbreviated textspeak and can be interpreted as referencing a book title.
  • 16a. [*LOL OMG] THE DIVINE COMEDY (laughing out loud, oh my god).
  • 22a. [*CU soon] ON THE ROAD (see you soon).
  • 51a. [*SRY] ATONEMENT (sorry).
  • 62a. [*TMI] NOTES ON A SCANDAL (too much information).

Points for exploring an unusual theme tack, but I feel some of the connections are tenuous. The library of titles consists of one venerable and undisputed classic, one important 20th-century title, and two 21st-century stories that are probably more well known as films.

  • 9d [Green arboreal snake] MAMBA. I bet most people, if they know of mambas at all, think of the deadly black mamba.
  • 14d [Cream relative] IVORY. I was not thinking of colors; the laconism of the clue worked on me.
  • 18d [Really must, informally] OUGHTA.
  • 30d [“Alligator Boy” in a 2021 Netflix animated film] ARLO. The roster of noteworthy ARLOs remains quite small!
  • 31d [Judge to be] DEEM. Misread the clue, supplying hyphens when there weren’t any.
  • 32d [Places for taking notes?] ATMS. Great, fresh clue.
  • 47d [Former weekend programming block that featured “Clarissa Explains It All”] SNICK. Vaguely familiar, and I’m supposing it was on Nickelodeon? Anyway, snickersnee is a fun word.
  • 14a [Passing remark?] I’M OUT. Another good clue.
  • 60a [Can of worms, maybe] BAIT. Probably the original, pre-idiomatic, can of worms.

Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock’s Universal crossword, “Extended Play”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases with non-consecutive circled letters (if you’re so lucky) that spell out popular musical groups. The revealer is ELASTIC BAND (57a, [Stretchy loop, and a theme hint]).

Universal crossword solution · “Extended Play” · Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock · Fri., 12.1.23

  • 17a. [Landlord’s limitation (In this answer, note letters 4, 6, 8 and 10)] RENT CONTROL. Toto.
  • 24a. [First openly gay man to hold public office in California (… letters 3, 5 and 7)] HARVEY MILK. R.E.M. Milk paid the ultimate price for leading the way when he was assassinated along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone. But he became a martyr and was posthumously honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. At least we’ve come a long way since the ’70s, though we haven’t gone far enough.
  • 35a. [Cry of disbelief (… letters 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15)] “WHAT IN TARNATION!” Train.
  • 47a. [Evian lids (… letters 3, 5 and 7)] BOTTLE CAPS. TLC.

This didn’t do a lot for me, but it seems fine. No doubt there are a lot of possible theme answers here, but these entries are well chosen. Given the revealer though, I would have thought the “bands” would “stretch” a little more rather than just be in every other letter in each instance.

I enjoyed VENDETTA, “IT’S A DATE,” “I GET IT,” and “DO TELL” in the fill. Everything else is silky smooth with nothing to scowl at. Yay!

Clues of note:

  • 6a. [The ___ (those who “shall inherit the Earth”)]. MEEK. Okay, one, I don’t really see that happening. And two, what kind of Earth are they going to be left with by the time that happens.
  • 56a. [Glam rock?]. GEM. Nice clue. Also: 12d [Baby bird?] for STORK.
  • 66a. [“Olly olly ___ free”]. OXEN. Ha! I don’t recall seeing this cluing angle before.

Solid puzzle with lovely fill. 3.5 stars.

Kenneth Cortes’s USA Today crossword, “The Ending Will Shock You!”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: The last word of each theme entry can precede the word “SHOCK” in a common phrase.

Theme Answers

Kenneth Cortes's USA Today crossword, "The Ending Will Shock You!" solution for 12/1/2023

Kenneth Cortes’s USA Today crossword, “The Ending Will Shock You!” solution for 12/1/2023

  • 20a [Way of life that favors casual sex] HOOK-UP CULTURE / CULTURE SHOCK
  • 41a [“Imagination at work” company] GENERAL ELECTRIC / ELECTRIC SHOCK
  • 60a [One might read “Honk if you love pizza!”] BUMPER STICKER / STICKER SHOCK

This was a cute theme, and I really liked the variety of theme answers. HOOK-UP CULTURE became clear to me after filling in 5d [Cosmic payback] BAD KARMA and 6d [In ___of gifts] LIEU since it gave me some crucial letters. For some reason, I thought 41a was going to be PIXAR ANIMATION or something to that effect, so I needed some help with GENERAL ELECTRIC. Once I had 35d [Animation frame] CEL, 38d [Mat often pointed toward Mecca] PRAYER RUG, 39d [Dances performed to swing music] JIVES, and 40d [Incense output] SCENT, I was in much better shape. BUMPER STICKER was the easiest, and I plopped it right in.

I felt like the pairing of 9d [Sporty] ATHLETIC and 43d [Run, lift weights, etc.] EXERCISE as some of the longer Down fill made for an almost mini-theme within the puzzle, especially with 29d [Jump squat muscle] CALF and 45a [Show off one’s muscles] FLEX. I also really enjoyed 42d [Genre for Linkin Park] RAP METAL and 52d [Bird with a curved beak] IBIS.

The Holiday Crossword: 2023 in Music by Elizabeth C. Gorski – norah’s review, 4:13

Hi! I’m super excited to begin bringing you the Friday themed New Yorker puzzles starting today. Thanks so much to my friend Matt Gritzmacher for covering it the last many years. Hope I can live up to your example! I solve primarily on paper, and my times here will reflect that. And if you like Matt’s reviews, you can check out his notes on the Universal themeless starting tomorrow. :)

The New Yorker puzzles are currently in the year-end wrap-up phase. Today’s theme, 2023 in music, comes to us from Liz Gorski.



The year-end wrap-up puzzles tend to be list themes using a handful of long entries with notable accomplishment in the year, plus increased theme density in much of the shorter fill as well. I love these puzzles!

Theme entries:

  • 16A TINATURNER [Two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee who died in May, 2023]
  • 39A BEYONCE [Artist who set a Grammy record with her thirty-second win (February, 2023)]
  • 65A PADAMPADAM [Onomatopoeically titled Kylie Minogue song that’s been embraced as a gay anthem (May, 2023)]
  • 10D BOYGENIUS [Supergroup with the début studio album “The Record” (March, 2023)]
  • 24D LLCOOLJ [Rapper who introduced and participated in a Grammy performance honoring hip-hop’s fiftieth anniversary (February, 2023)]
  • 34D KATYPERRY [Singer who performed “Roar” and “Firework” at King Charles III’s coronation concert (May, 2023)]

Other notes: Tons of short fill given music content! Too many to enumerate all of the entries and clues, but some of my favorite examples are ERAS, NICO, GUTS and MOOD.

While frequently music trivia isn’t my strong suit, this was a super smooth and quick solve for me, so kudos to Elizabeth and the team for making everything nice and fair. I love opening the puzzle with PASTA. Or really, pasta of any kind at any time.

You should know: 65a PADAMPADAM :

Thanks Elizabeth and the New Yorker team!

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31 Responses to Friday, December 1, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Fun but quick puzzle.

    SLOT CANYONS and BUNNY SLOPES remind me of some of my favorite places and activities.

    I could have done without the NRA, though. And it’s such an easy fix: Just change the N to a T.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      [New Deal-era org.] didn’t make NRA palatable enough for you? (Guessing less than 10% of Americans could tell you what the New Deal NRA’s initials stand for.)

      • Sheik Yerbouti says:

        They could have gone with TRE instead of NRA. So it’s a choice.

      • Eric H says:

        There’s no way to make NRA palatable. The National Rifle Association owns those letters now.

        It’s particularly annoying here when a single letter could be changed to avoid it.

      • JohnH says:

        The clue works for me, and I don’t know myself what it stands for. I like a reminder of the New Deal. I bet it was nice to think that the country was once united under a progressive, pro-government economic agenda. And sure, I know it was more complicated than that (racism, say).

  2. Nino H. says:

    NYT: I’ve never heard THANKS A HEAP before? Is that some old slang?

    • Bryan says:

      Me either, at least not as common sarcasm. I thought that might be THANKSOBAMA, which is (or at least was) a common sarcastic expression of gratitude — until I got down to SASHAOBAMA and realized the sarcastic gratitude entry had to be something else.

  3. Jim Hickey says:

    I’m in the “less than 10%.”

    National Recovery Act (I think…)

    • MarkAbe says:

      Close – National Recovery Administration.

    • Papa John says:

      I find it hard to believe so many people are not aware of the National Recovery Act. It was the showcase action of FDR’s attempts to quash the Great Depression, commonly known as the New Deal. Is it telling that the other NRA, the National Rifle Association, is more well known?

      From the Net: “National Recovery Administration (NRA), U.S. government agency established by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt to stimulate business recovery through fair-practice codes during the Great Depression. The NRA was an essential element in the National Industrial Recovery Act…”

      • JohnH says:

        Yeah, and I still feel bad that critics here are ceding American history to the National Rifle Association.

  4. JohnH says:

    Odd, but for me clicking on the Crossword Scraper icon, which is white spotted rather than solid black as usual, for TNY gives “No puzzles found!”

  5. David L says:

    I believe that the old-timey GAOL spelling in Britain has mostly been supplanted by JAIL. Americans make a distinction between jail and prison — I can never remember quite what it is — but the terms are pretty much interchangeable in the UK.

    • Mutman says:

      I think if you are arrested, you go to jail. If you are tried and convicted, you then go to prison.

      • Mr. [not] Grumpy says:

        Those convicted of misdemeanors rather than felonies often serve their time in county jail, but that can vary from state to state.

    • DougC says:

      My problem with GAOL is that it’s clued as medieval. The word has a long history – Latin to Old French to Middle English – and a variety of spellings over the centuries. But, according to Collins Dictionary, the first documented appearance of the spelling GAOL appeared in 1709. That’s a while ago, but hardly medieval.

  6. PJ says:

    I solved TNY in less than nine minutes. Given the theme, 2023 in music, divine intervention must have played a role

    • Mr. [not] Grumpy says:

      I cringed a bit when I saw the subject matter, but the crosses were fair and the proper names [so many of them!] were almost all people I had at least heard of or read about at some point, so, yeah, divine intervention is a good call.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      This puzzle is a perfect example of what a master constructor can do with a theme-dense grid. I can almost guarantee you that in most other hands, I’d have never completed a “2023 in music” themed puzzle with this much theme material. As it was, this one came in at about 7% below my TNY Friday average. Bravo, Ms. Gorski!

  7. Jenni Levy says:

    My geologist husband was very annoyed by the clue for OCEAN MAP. He says that this refers to a map of the ocean floor, not the currents above, and while it was supposed to be cute he is emphatic that is definitely wrong.

    • DougC says:

      I agree with your husband.

      Those documents that show tides and currents are called charts. That clue was just trying too hard to be cute.

    • Katie says:

      @Jenny – (Oops! Doug beat me to it! Exactly!)
      Ha, ha!! He’s totally right, but I think the author and editor(s) involved know that, too. It does have a question mark, which is generally meant to signal: “OK, this is NOT the real definition — but I thought this pun was cute!” Probably, there was brain-storming on whether a “map” could be a “chart”… (and then…)

      That aside, I get irked a couple of times a week about a clue where it sure feels like somebody searched Wikipedia – and came up with something people who know the subject/place/whatever would just cringe about. (I recall a recent “Costa Mesa” comment, Wed. by “Art”…) e.g., couple of weeks back, a “gait” is not a “Going rate?” – it’s about the pattern locomotion, e.g., the paces of walking – not the pace of walking – but with the questions mark, I mean, perhaps it means the rate at which the dog days of summer are going, for example… so OK, fair enough.

      • DougC says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I love wordplay in puzzles! But I didn’t think this clue/answer combo qualified. There was no wink of the eye that says “I know this is wrong, but I’m playing with you; did you see the clever twist I gave it?” Because there was no clever twist. It was just wrong.

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