Friday, December 8, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker 7:16 paper (norah) 


NYT 5:33 (Amy) 


Universal 3:28 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Robert Logan’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 12/8/23 – no. 1208

I do like the stop-signish grid diagram here, with the frame of 9/11/13 stacks. Symmetrical layout however you spin or flip it.

Fave fill: “WHO DOES THAT?”, NARROWS THE GAP, SENIOR MOMENTS (clue seems nostalgic rather than insulting, [What old memories often cause]), TURNED HEADS, heirloom SEEDBANKS, the BRICKYARD, “WANNA MAKE A BET?”, SATCHMO, PARTY TRICKS.

Fave clue: 11d. [Drawers on chests, maybe], TATTOO ARTISTS. Not about a chest of drawers.

Unsure about: 12d. [“Stop complaining. I didn’t do anything wrong”], “NO APOLOGIES.” Is this really an idiomatic thing that people say enough to merit it being a crossword answer?

Thing I barely noticed but that Deb Amlen mentioned on Bluesky: OTT is clued as 26a.
[Canadian N.H.L. team, on scoreboards], short for the Ottawa Senators, rather than yore-baseball’s Mel Ott.I did fact-check this with a Google image search, and there’s an NHL photo of a televised game between Ottawa and the Tampa Bay Lightning, with OTT and TB on the scoreboard. Legit!

27a. [1977 best-selling novel set in a hospital], COMA. By Robin Cook. I read it when I was maybe in junior high and it scared the shit out of me. Induce brain death in otherwise healthy surgical patients, then warehouse them suspended by wires (why wires? because it’s a creepy image, I assume) so their organs can be harvested. You should still sign on to be an organ donor on your driver’s license, though! The book is fiction.

Four stars from me.

Lynn Lempel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/8/23 • Fri • Lempel • solution • 20231208

In the theme phrases, words beginning with S have been replaced with soft-C homophones.

  • 17a. [Odd remedy for an overhead crack?] CEILING WAX (sealing wax).
  • 25a. [Pennies that are a dime a dozen?] COMMON CENTS (common sense).
  • 37a. [Percussion instrument for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?] RELIGIOUS CYMBAL (religious symbol).
  • 52a. [Sacrifice of some data storage space?] CLOUD CEDING (cloud seeding).
  • 61a. [Jewelry in the shape of a swan?] CYGNET RING (signet ring, which coincidentally could take us back to 17a sealing wax).

Works for me.

  • 2d [Gear for 49-Across] ICE SKATE. Perhaps had I recalled this cross-reference, the intersection of 49a [Olympian and actress Sonja] HENIE and 39d [Olympic gymnast Lee] SUNI wouldn’t have been my final square. And speaking of whom: 57a [Munch Museum city] OSLO.
  • 4d [Chekov colleague] SULU. Not the playwright; he’s Anton Chekhov.
  • 22d [Like a bass or boa] SCALY. I wasn’t thinking ‘organism’ for either of those!
  • 36d [Get credit for?[ ACT IN. Loose clue, but I guess the question mark helps bridge the gap.
  • 49d [“Oh, hi!”] HEY YOU.
  • 1a [Short shots] PICS. My first instinct was JABS, but I … held back.
  • 10a [Gum balls?] WADS. Loosely speaking, ok.
  • 51a [Decline] SAG. Now thinking of the Roman empire. Lots of saggy togas?
  • 67a [Gochujang origin] KOREA. Always useful to have in the house.

Tarun Krishnamurthy’s Universal crossword, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that feature two NOs. The revealer is DOUBLE NEGATIVES (61a, [Emphatic grammatical constructions … or the words hidden in 17-, 28- or 47-Across?]).

Universal crossword solution · “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!” · Tarun Krishnamurthy · Fri., 12.8.23

  • 17a. [Undisclosed contributors at a blood bank] ANONYMOUS DONORS.
  • 28a. [Small field in Silicon Valley?] NANOTECHNOLOGY.
  • 47a. [“I will not put up with this anymore!”] “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” Maybe a bit of a cheat, but only a small one, and the phrase is very much in-the-language.

Nice! There are a lot of other potential theme answers (phenomenon, know-nothing, snotty-nosed, pinot noir), but this makes a fine set with enough meaty entries to sink one’s teeth into. I wouldn’t be surprised if this theme’s been done before, though. (Well, whaddya know? Here’s another version from the WSJ two years ago as reviewed by yours truly.)

APE COSTUME tops the fill, though I think it’s more customarily called a “gorilla suit” (after all, any costume worn by a human is an APE COSTUME). But considering both it and SPONSORING are crossing three theme answers, I’m sure choices for fill were limited. Otherwise, the grid is remarkably smooth.

Clues were pretty straightforward, but I enjoyed the alliteration at 57a [Land of Lima and llamas] for PERU.

Good puzzle. 3.5 stars. Oh, and this looks to be a debut, so congratulations are in order. Congrats!

Bonnie Eisenman’s Inkubator crossword, “Intro Music”—Jenni’s write-up

This is the last month of the Inkubator subscription service and I will miss these puzzles. The Inkubator team has given us a priceless gift by mentoring and publishing women and non-binary constructors. They have proven that diversity makes our community stronger and certainly more interesting. It went well beyond the constructors – I never realized how much crossword fill leaned toward the stereotypical male until I started solving the Inkubator puzzles and suddenly I saw my life in a grid. Menstrual products and feminist art and women creators of all sorts. We owe Laura and Tracy a debt we will never be able to discharge. The whole team deserves our deepest gratitude.

Today’s was fun! The title describes the theme: each entry is a two-word phrase and the first word is a genre of music.

Inkubator, December 7, 2023, Bonnie Eisenman, “Intro Music,” solution grid

  • 17a [+1, for the United States] is COUNTRY CODE, not “how Dr. Biden goes to state dinners in other countries.”
  • 32a [Hard place to hit, metaphorically] is ROCK BOTTOM.
  • 41a [Kids’ show with a puzzle-loving pup] is BLUES CLUES.
  • 62a [Stay-at-home partner] is a HOUSE SPOUSE. I haven’t heard this one, so I consulted Google. I found that HOUSE SPOUSE is a common name for a cleaning-and-handyman kind of service – and I found this WikiHow entry on how to be a house husband and it is gold. I especially love Step 4: Maintain a Great Appearance.

It is all too easy to stop paying attention to your appearance when you have a no reason to “dress to impress” at the office. Try to spend some time each day making yourself look good and well kept. There is no reason why you can’t still maintain a good appearance, even if you have no plans of leaving the house that day. Further, your wife or significant other would love to come home to see you looking good — not dumpy and unkempt.

Gold, I tell you.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of the Guerilla Girls poster about inequities in ART museums. Wonder how the numbers have changed since 1989.

Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum? 1989






The Holiday Crossword: 2023 in Books by Anna Shechtman – norah’s review, 7:16 paper

Hi again! As always, loving New Yorker puzzles. This one was hard! And not in the early-week Natan Reads Books ™ sort of way, but in the egh I got triple-naticked sort of way! The good news is that my TBR (3) has grown by about seven titles.

Theme(d) entries are plentiful (book content is scattered all over, I’m counting the ones that have 2023 dates in the parentheses as themers):

tny2023-12-08 shechtman

tny2023-12-08 shechtman

  • FOSSE 1A [Jon who won the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable” (October, 2023)]
  • NYPL 16A [Cultural inst. that is no longer open on Sundays, after its budget was cut by the Eric Adams administration (November, 2023)]
  • ZADIESMITH 17A [Author of “The Fraud,” whose plot involves the celebrated nineteenth-century Tichborne case (September, 2023)]
  • ELEANOR 26A [Catton who wrote “Birnam Wood,” about the entanglement between a billionaire and a guerrilla environmental-activism group (March, 2023)]
  • DIAZ 33A [Hernan whose novel “Trust,” which tells the story of a Depression-era financier through four linked narratives, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (May, 2023)]
  • EMMA 46A [Cline whose novel “The Guest” follows a young woman kicked out of her rich boyfriend’s beach house in the Hamptons (May, 2023)]
  • BOOKTOK 52A [Social-media community that helped propel Rebecca Yarros’s “Fourth Wing” to No. 1 on the Times best-seller list (July, 2023)]
  • JESMYNWARD 61A [Author of “Let Us Descend,” about Annis, a enslaved girl who is separated from her mother and sold by her white father (October, 2023)]
  • YIYUN 68A [Li who won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for “The Book of Goose,” about a literary hoax concocted by two French teen-agers in the nineteen-fifties (April, 2023)]
  • SITTENFELD 8D [Curtis who said that her novel “Romantic Comedy” was inspired by “ ‘Saturday Night Live,’ my love of celebrity gossip, and my love of love” (April, 2023)]
  • INDIA 10D [Setting of Abraham Verghese’s “The Covenant of Water” (May, 2023)]
  • AMIS 23D [Martin whom Geoff Dyer elegized as “the most American English writer there has ever been” (May, 2023)]
  • NAOMIKLEIN 30D [Author who described her book “Doppelganger” as being about “the horror of the society that flips fascist from within” (September, 2023)]
  • KANG 42D [Han whose “Greek Lessons” is about a woman with aphonia and her language teacher, who is going blind (trans. April, 2023)]
  • CORMAC 49D [McCarthy whom Stephen King elegized as “maybe the greatest American novelist of my time” (June, 2023)]

Whew!! That is some theme density. Congrats to Anna for such a feat. As with last week I noticed when printing out that this is significantly over the standard total clue length. Clocked this one at 3,540! To be clear, I’m a fan. I love long clues.

As to my sticking points, the crossing at OMOO/AMIS as well as the double crossing of YIYUN with PONYO and WIM. I lucky guessed at WIM but had never heard of PONYO, the goldfish movie and guessed PONKO which gave KIYUN, both of which seemed reasonable for their clues.

And with that said, I learned PONYO:

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37 Responses to Friday, December 8, 2023

  1. huda says:

    NYT: lots to like in this one!
    Just yesterday, I sent a message on our family chat wondering: WHO DOES THAT? That’s because I was shopping for a purse in SoCal and the lady showed me one that she thought I might like… for over 10K ! There were versions in multiple colors, so I’m assuming people actually buy this stuff. I was clearly in the wrong store!
    WANNA BET seems more common than WANNA MAKE A BET, no?
    I’ve heard NO APOLOGIES more as a preemptive statement, an affirmation of certainty in spite of having done something unusual.

    • Eric H says:

      It was a fun puzzle, but you’re right about WANNA MAKE A BET. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say the MAKE A part of it.

  2. Nino H. says:

    NYT: NO APOLOGIES seems part of ‘NO APOLOGIES NECESSARY,’ maybe? Also, enjoyed the clue for STREAK.

    Had to google for the centre. What does SATCHMO even mean?

  3. Mutman says:

    NYT: I loved the book ‘Coma’ (and movie was good too). Why did they use wires? Sure it is creepy. But it reduces costs by not having all those beds and sheets to maintain (except for visiting days). And eliminates bed sores as an added bonus!

    Puzzle was great too today! I love quadri-symmetrical puzzles.

  4. David L says:

    I liked the NYT but the clue for SENIORMOMENTS seems wrong to me, unless it’s trying to make some sort of joke that I’m not getting.

    • Eric H says:

      Read “old memories” as “Memories of old people,” with “memory” in the sense of ability to recall past events and not the past events themselves.

      • huda says:

        Same here

      • David L says:

        hmm, still not getting it.

        • Eric says:

          “What old memories often cause” = “What powers of recollection possessed by people of advanced years often cause.”

          That’s the best I can do. Deb Amlen explained it this way: “The ‘old memories’ are memories of someone who is old, and that confusion or memory loss is sometimes called having SENIOR MOMENTS.” (I’m not sure that’s a whole lot of help.)

          • sanfranman59 says:

            Bottom line (IMO of course): Crappy clue … which is not to denigrate the entire puzzle. Overall, I thought it was excellent.

  5. Steve Tice says:

    LAT: Anyone else notice Kim Wexler clue and McGill answer! Jimmy McGill is the other lead character and eventual husband. Must be just a coincidence.

  6. Papa John says:

    Am I the only one who cannot get an answer reveal with the WSJ and not be able to close the file without having to click on every square and watch them all turn to x’s? It’s maddening.

  7. DougC says:

    The fact that Amy had to Google to verify the existence of the OTTawa Senators pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the sad history of that NHL franchise.

  8. David L says:

    TNY: Generally straightforward except for one totally unguessable cross.

    • Mhoonchild says:

      I totally agree. I was able to come up with most of the authors’ names, but 55D, 61A, and 68A were mysteries to me (although the latter rings a faint bell, so I must have seen it somewhere.)

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Yup … those are two of the three crosses that held me up. I also tripped over the E at the 30D: NAOMI KLEIN/61A JESMYN WARD cross because I thought JESMYN might be JaSMYN at first. When I had KLaIN, I decided to change it to KLEIN. But I had no idea what letter to enter for the Y at the 55D: PANYO/68A: YIYUN cross.

        Given the constructor and the theme of the puzzle, I was surprised that I got as much of this grid as I did. Kudos to Anna for making it solvable by someone who doesn’t keep up with contemporary literature.

    • JohnH says:

      I didn’t find it exactly unguessable, but only because I was obliged to make close to 10 purely wild guesses. The odds of my getting them all right is surely slim. Nor can I agree with SF that she made a remote theme soluble.

      It’s just another example of a quiz theme (you get it right or wrong) for which TNY just can’t accept that, with a theme like that, it’s only fair not to pack in as many other name entries for crossings. For me, I guess it should have been an easy one, since it was about “literature,” but they’re of course not content with that, as too much for old people. So while it began with the Nobel Prize and then Zadie Smith, it had to be made younger, hipper, and more PC. I’m PC myself, but still, hopeless. The huge majority of low raters are right. A study in what not to do.

    • Mike H says:

      Very much so. Not the usual TNY Friday, and not appreciated here.

    • Eric says:

      Like everyone else who’s commented, I ran into trouble in the SE corner. JESMYN WARD, NAOMI KLEIN and PONYO all sound vaguely familiar, but YIYUN LI does not.

      I was not exactly looking forward to this puzzle after the 2023 in movies and music puzzles. I found both of those pretty challenging because I don’t keep up with that stuff the way I used to.

      But I did better with the books puzzle than I had expected. Except for that one corner, the crosses got me through the unfamiliar authors’ name.

      And the puzzle got me interested in reading “The Fraud.” We purged our library a month ago in anticipation of a cross-country move, and one of the few novels I wanted to keep was ZADIE SMITH’s “White Teeth.”

    • Seattle DB says:

      This puzzle was a waste of time and I’m surprised the editors ran it. (If you’re a literature buff you probably drooled the whole time during the solve.)

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        At the end of the year, the New Yorker runs year-in-review puzzles covering film, literature, books, and maybe something else. Hey, if you’re not into that, then just skip the puzzle! They didn’t make it for you.

  9. Seattle DB says:

    BEQ: Is his website not working? I can get to the homepage but I can’t play or print yesterday’s puzzle.

    • Brenda Rose says:

      Try the site to get BEQ. Stumper is also there on Saturday.

      • Seattle DB says:

        TY for the help Brenda, but Cruciverb took me right back to BEQ’s website that still isn’t working. Maybe tomorrow it’ll work.

  10. JohnH says:

    I found the NYT a hard but fun puzzle. Nice grid to look at first off. Then I got the right side quickly before having to stop. But it yielded, as a nice challenge, except that I had to guess where the unusual KLAY crosses BRICKYARD next to COMA, new to me. At least I guessed right.

  11. Tarun Krishnamurthy says:

    Hello! I’m Tarun Krishnamurthy, the creator of today’s Universal grid. I’m glad you liked it! This was my first ever professionally published crossword, and it all started from a theme query to David Steinberg. I showed this to a couple of friends at my high school, and they enjoyed it for the most part; there were some clues that didn’t resonate with them but I would say it is a pretty good first puzzle.

    Also, I was unaware that WSJ had a theme similar to this one, especially with one similar theme entry! Hopefully it’s distinct enough compared to the older crossword.

    • Eric says:

      Congratulations on your publishing debut! I just downloaded it and will solve it when I have a few extra minutes.

      I had the pleasure of working with David Steinberg on my first published puzzles. He’s a good editor for newbie puzzle constructors

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