Friday, December 15, 2023

Inkubator untimed (Jenni) 


LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (norah) 


NYT 5:12 (Amy) 


Universal 4:34 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Alex Tomlinson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 12/15/23 – no. 1215

Let’s get at it—

Fave fill: HANG TIME, “CAN YOU NOT?”, SALTED NUTS (would we ever see UNSALTED NUTS in a grid? my preference), CHILDLIKE WONDER, MEDIA BIAS, PASTRY CHEF, ALOHA SHIRT, WENDIE Malick (awaiting season 2 of Shrinking on Apple TV+, loved season 1), HALLMARK HOLIDAY, “AND STAY OUT!”, and TEETOTALER.

Five things:

  • 50a. [Tropical vine], LIANA. Obscure enough that Sam E. rejects it as a suitable answer word in the NYT Spelling Bee, but such handy vowels that the crossword doesn’t rule it out.
  • 6d. [At any one time, roughly 10,000 trillion of them roam the earth], ANTS. Aka 10 quadrillion. Wonder if NYT style is to max out at the trillion?
  • 10d. [Arctic native], INUK. That’s the singular of Inuit.
  • 12d. [Handmade goods site], ETSY. Did you know that if the seller has designed the item, but it’s mass-produced, they can indeed sell it on Etsy? Let the buyer beware.
  • 23d. [___ Juniors, soccer team for which Diego Maradona once played], BOCA. Never heard of it. Asked my soccer-fan husband what juniors team Maradona played for, and he said “Boca” without a moment’s hesitation. To each their own!

Four stars from me for this apparent debut puzzle.

Grace Getman’s Inkubator crossword, “They’re Brilliant!”—Jenni’s write-up

The countdown to the last Inkubator puzzle continues. This one is lovely. If our tags are any measure, it’s also a debut!

Each theme entry is a woman who is a gem, as the clue states.

Inkubator, December 14, 2023, Grace Getman, “They’re Brilliant!” solution grid

  • 19a [This professional wrestling champion is a real gem!] is JADE CARGILL.
  • 29a [This Emmy-nominated comedian is a real gem!] is AMBER RUFFIN.
  • 46a [This mid-20th-century Broadway legend is a real gem!] is PEARL BAILEY.
  • 56a [This civil rights activist is a real gem!] is RUBY BRIDGES.

I hadn’t heard of Ms. CARGILL and have only faint recognition of AMBER RUFFIN‘s name. I’m old enough to remember PEARL BAILEY and I hope everyone knows RUBY BRIDGES. Nice variation of generations and reasons for fame and a good, solid theme overall.

Could someone please explain 62d [Something passed while driving?] because I have no idea why the answer is AUX.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that KOHLRABI is also known as a German turnip. And see above re: JADE CARGILL.


Hanh Huynh’s Universal crossword, “Middle of the Ocean”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose middle letters (as circled) spell out a sea creature. The revealer is MARINE CORPS (38a, [“Semper fi” group … and a phonetic hint to the middles of the starred clues’ answers]). I take it the “phonetic hint” indicates we should read the revealer is “marine core,” where the “core” of each theme answer is a marine animal.

Universal crossword solution · “Middle of the Ocean” · Hanh Huynh · Fri., 12.15.23

  • 17a. [*Performers who stamp their feet and use castanets] FLAMENCO DANCERS.
  • 25a. [*Items found in many wallets] DONOR CARDS. Is this a separate item from a driver’s license that indicates one’s donor preference?
  • 52a. [*”Oops … not an actual emergency”] FALSE ALARM.
  • 60a. [*Part of a moving experience?] SERVICE ELEVATOR.

Nice theme. I didn’t really pay attention to it until the solve was done, but it works nicely. I especially like how each sea creature is in the exact center if its entry. That’s an elegant touch.

MEAL PREP and NIGERIA top the fill.  I’m not a huge fan of the “playground retort” category, but the “ARE TOO” [“Am not!” response] / “NO MORE” [“That’s enough!”] stacking was fun. REDOS is a bit of a stinker, but it doesn’t look like there’s an easy replacement for it.

Clues of note:

  • 56a. [Common meat in budae jjigae (Korean “army base stew”)]. SPAM. Ha! Never heard of this dish which appears to have come about after the Korean war when food was scarce in the country. But it looks to be a popular Korean comfort food. There are plenty of recipes online if you’re interested.
  • 31d. [Major address?]. SIR. Meh. Does adding a “perhaps” ruin the wordplay? I think not, yet it would make the clue more inclusive.
  • 53d. [Clicks the floppy disk icon]. SAVES. I’m guessing kids these days will never have seen a floppy disk. So would they know what that symbol is representing?

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

John Andrew Agpalo’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 12/15/23 • Fri • Agpalo • solution • 20231215

Perimeter theme!

  • 36aR [Exciting but dangerous way to live, and a hint to making the starred clues match their answers] ON THE EDGE. The words ON THE (invisibly) precede the relevant words.
  • 1a. [*Kerouac novel] ROAD (On the Road).
  • 5a. [*Free] HOUSE (on the house).
  • 10a. [*Alert] BALL (on the ball).
  • 13d. [*Keeping watch] LOOKOUT (on the lookout).
  • 50d. [*Available for purchase] MARKET (on the market).
  • 69a. [*Then and there] SPOT (on the spot).
  • 68a. [*Undecided] FENCE (on the fence).
  • 67a. [*Precisely] NOSE (on the nose).
  • 39d. [Imminent] HORIZON (on the horizon).
  • 1d. [*Officially] RECORD (on the record).

Nicely done.

  • 2d [Vehicles of mine?] ORE CARS. The question mark telegraphs the pun, but I still needed several crossings.
  • 11d [Place to check for prints] ART SALE. Yet no question mark here. I waited to see whether it would be SALE or SHOW.
  • 37d [R&B singer whose stage name is pronounced like a pronoun] HER. Is it not a pronoun?
  • 40d [California roll ingredient] AVOCADO. And this is why I typically eschew California rolls.
  • 44d [Prepare for take-off?] UNCLASP. Like a bra, I gather.
  • 32a [King and queen] SIZES. Definitely needed crossings to see where this was directed. 26d [What casino workers are always dealing with] CARDS.
  • 66a [Spanish “east”] ESTE. Straight cognate.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Friday, December 15, 2023

  1. Henry T says:

    NYT: Liana has doubled in popularity as a girl’s name in the past decade. Just sayin’.

    • Nino H. says:

      I think I’d feel much more annoyed with an obscure Liana name rather than an obscure term for something.

      Neither are really deducible, but names feel even less un-deductible than terms.

  2. Ethan says:

    If that’s a debut that’s a heckuva start! A sparkling NYT Friday I thought.

  3. MattF says:

    I keep trying LIANA in the Bee, but it continues to not work. The crossword was quite tough, IMO, but ultimately doable. Quite a few ‘Um, well, OK, I guess…’ entries. Never seen INUK before.

    • Eric H. says:

      As I learned from some previous crossword puzzle, INUK is the singular of Inuit.

      I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. CHILDLIKE WONDER is a great answer. I picked up HALLMARK HOLIDAY from a New Yorker puzzle earlier this week. I hadn’t heard it before, but it’s the kind of coinage for which the meaning is immediately apparent.

      • Dallas says:

        I loved CHILDLIKE WONDER, and once I had HALL I knew the rest. Between LOCUST and ANTS, a good amount of insect fill today :-) A tiny tiny nit to pick, but I thought HALLMARK HOLIDAY meant more of a “made up” holiday created by a company (such as Hallmark) to sell cards and gifts, a la “Love Day”:

  4. David L says:

    Nice Friday, with a few things that slowed me down: set BAIL instead of SAIL, INUK, and CALEB crossing BARS (although neither was hard to figure out).

    Is RAREGEM a set phrase? Seems like an expensive kind of green paint to me. I had RARE but waited for crosses to complete it.

    • Eric H. says:

      I’ve definitely heard RARE GEM in real life. Maybe it’s just an older usage.

    • JohnH says:

      CALEB / BARS was hard for me, too. I knew Caleb was a character in the story but had trouble connecting it to the clue. INUK / CAN YOU NOT was tough, too, especially since I couldn’t decide on MOTE or “mite.” So not easy to complete CAN YOU __ . FTW / WENDIE was also a hard crossing. I’d never seen “nephalist,” but fair enough. Overall, interesting puzzle.

      I did have trouble, too, with AVID READER, as I wasn’t sure it was a phrase and the clue is jokey. Besides, I had to get out of my head “ever reader” after a phrase (“from a never writer to an ever reader”) whose story I’ll spare you. Purple YAM I learned from a puzzle just recently!

  5. JohnH says:

    I’d have appreciated TNY and its slang theme a lot better if it didn’t devolve into one of their year-end quizzes toward the center. There the density of crossing slang grows, abetted by three different TV clues. Guessing can take me only so far. I still have a blank.

    Of course, too, if you think of a year-end trivia puzzle as an exam shared by solvers and the constructor, it’s not evenly matched. For him, it’s an open book exam. It has to be, since he could recognize new words but couldn’t know which made it into MW on his own.

    • Eric H. says:

      SMISHING and EDGELORD were new to me, but I knew all the other 2023 dictionary entries, mostly from crossword puzzles.

      I’m a bit surprised that COLD OPEN is only now getting into the dictionary; I’d have guessed that it had been around a long time. “Saturday Night Live” has been doing that since the 1970s, and for all I know, it’s older than that. (I seem to remember the original “Star Trek” episodes starting that way.)

      • David L says:

        Same here — I’d vaguely heard of EDGELORD from somewhere but couldn’t have said what it means.

        I knew COLDOPEN, but my sense is that the phrase didn’t become commonplace until fairly recently, even though the thing it describes is well-established.

        I thought it was a fun and generally fair puzzle.

      • Gary R says:

        Surprisingly, all of the slang phrases, save EDGELORD, were at least passingly familiar. Serendipitously, just heard SMISHING yesterday in a movie on an airline flight.

        I had the same reaction to COLD OPEN – didn’t seem that current.

      • JohnH says:

        The crossing that was trickiest for me was one of TV clues crossing record shopping. I had _ IG and first guessed GIG, from its music associations. As I’ve said about the last end of year quiz, I wish they kept the theme entries to, well, long themers in symmetry and helped those who failed the quiz by not crossing them with so much 2nd rate culture.

        • Gary R says:

          Oh, yes – whither all the “1st rate culture” in the NYT? ;-)

        • Lois says:

          My greatest difficulty was the same square as JohnH, with two culture clues crossing each other. I had heard of the TV show DARIA long ago but forgot about it. Overall, I thought that Berry did a wonderful job of introducing the new words and phrases to us. Unlike the case for some others commenting here, not many of them were familiar to me. I learned 49a earlier this year from a Times crossword, and that was one of the few new M-W entries I was familiar with. I didn’t think of the crossword as a test but as an introduction. This was the first of the year-end New Yorker holiday puzzles I’ve tried. I think the point for all of them is not only to test us but also to teach us. This crossword was brilliantly balanced.

  6. Dan says:

    NYT: I found today’s puzzle just right in difficulty for a Friday, and abounding in fresh clues and answers.

    I am especially fond of 34A: “What one might look at the night sky with” for CHILDLIKE WONDER.

    Looking forward to more puzzles from Alex Tomlinson.

  7. sorry ever after says:

    LAT: Some good EDGE-y fun in this inventive and engaging puzzle. Solid concept and fill. Well done!

  8. Jim G says:

    NYT: I’ll give at least half a bonus star to any puzzle that clues NTH as a “General term in a series” as opposed to “Ultimate degree” or the like, which seems to be the usual cluing (and which, for reasons I can’t quite explain, tends to annoy me).

  9. anna g says:

    “passing the aux” is when someone hands the aux cable to another passenger so they can plug their phone in to play the music they want. a little outdated now that headphone plugs in phones are disappearing and bluetooth is more the default but it’s a phrase that used to be used a bunch, like someone in the back seat asking the driver, “hey, can you pass me the aux, i wanna play something”

  10. Jeff says:

    [Arctic native] and singular of Inuit . Wasn’t aware of that one. going straight into my trivia based crossword database with scores & leaderboard.

    • skm says:

      Cool…saw similar clue about Ruby Bridges. Saw the extra info on that clue in this funling CrossWordle website that she was the subject of a 1964 painting, The Problem We All Live With, by Norman Rockwell and the painting was installed in the White house by Obama. Why is it called CrossWordle though? can anyone explain?

  11. Margaret says:

    I’m a day late reading the LAT review but I think the musician is H.E.R. which is pronounced like her.

Comments are closed.