Friday, January 5, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 7:27 (Amy) 


The New Yorker tk (Jenni?) 


Universal untimed (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


David Williams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 1/5/24 – no. 0105

With the upper left corner of this puzzle, I felt like I was doing the Newsday Saturday Stumper! None of the clues were leading me to good answers. I guess I shouldn’t have resisted PLASMA [___ TV] at 1a just because the technology’s become obsolete.

Favorite clue: 18a. [“Never attribute to ___ that which is adequately explained by stupidity” (Hanlon’s razor)], MALICE. They’re not out to screw you over—they’re just imcompetent! Honorable mention: 42d. [Name added to a Brazilian dictionary in 2023 as an adjective meaning “incomparable”], PELE.

Fave fill: “I’LL BE DARNED,” SLICED BREAD, SMOKE ALARMS, Rihanna’s FENTY line of fashion (and also makeup), SRIRACHA, the echoes between SECEDED and GO SOLO, YOINKED, SMARTASS, “I FIGURED,” DEAD BATTERY (tricky clue, [Concern for the 1%?]).

Phrase I learned not long ago, I think from crosswords: SHINE ON, [Deceive, especially to avoid responsibility for something]. Merriam-Webster online doesn’t seem to list this meaning. I kinda suspect it’s a regionally or culturally specific usage, but I’m not sure who it might be specific to.

3.75 stars from me.

Aidan Deshong and Nate Cardin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 1/5/24 • Fri • Deshong, Cardin • solution • 20240105

A 14×15 offering today.

  • 55aR [Corporate symbols, or how to make the answers to 15-/22-Across and 34-/46-Across match their clues] TRADE MARKS. Punctuation swapping!
  • 15a. [TV series that may have high costume budgets] DASH DRAMAS.
    22a. [Recording device in a vehicle] PERIOD CAM.
    period dramas / dashcam
  • 34a. [Fan-written story that romantic links same-sex characters] BRACKET FICTION.
    46a. [Office competition during March Madness] SLASH POOL.
    slash fiction / bracket pool

It’s a novel concept, obviously deriving from the revealer. I like it—not too much, not too little.

  • 13d [Not very bright] PALE. Had DULL for a while.
  • 16d [ __ effect] RIPPLE.
  • 23d [Musical phrases] RIFFS.
  • 24d [Can openers] TABS. Really didn’t see this one as I was trying to solve.
  • 31d [Video game character who defeats Goombas with flaming projectiles] FIRE MARIO. Partially new to me.
  • 37d [Pos. for Lisa Leslie] CTR. This is basketball.
  • 43d [Met expectations?] OPERA. Did not fool me for a moment. Having the O in place helped, I suppose.
  • 47d [Wetsuit material] LYCRA. Not neoprene?
  • 1a [Nothing more than] MERE.
  • 13a [Laptop slot] PORT. Slot?
  • 30a [Crypto-linked collectibles: Abbr.] NFTS. Aren’t we collectively over this scam yet?
  • 41a [Like Robin Hood’s beneficiaries] POOR.
  • 52a [Parkinson’s drug] L-DOPA. Not to be confused with Florida’s Surgeon General,  Joseph Ladapo, who is an outsize mockery of medical professionals.
  • 64a [Like DoorDash meals] TO GO. Significantly dupes the first theme answer.

Drew Schmenner’s Universal crossword, “Uneven Bars”—Jim’s review

Theme answers come in pairs with one providing the first word of a candy bar, and the other providing the second. Even though both halves of each candy bar have the same number of letters, the two words are offset by at least a square, thus providing the reasoning for the title.

Universal crossword solution · “Uneven Bars” · Drew Schmenner · Fri., 1.5.24

  • 17a. [Pack for a trip? (Note the last word in this answer + …)] / [21a. Actress in “2 Broke Girls” and “Thor” (… the first word in this one)]. TRAVEL KIT / KAT DENNINGS.
  • 41a. [Reimburse (First word + …)] / 44a. [Dieter’s break (… last word)]. PAY BACK / CHEAT DAY.
  • 57a. [2017 film featuring an infant in a suit (Last word + …)] / 66a. [Best Actress nominee for 2016’s “Loving” (… first word)]. THE BOSS BABY / RUTH NEGGA.

Good theme. The title had me thinking this would be about music, but candy bars work, too. I was quite distracted by the parenthetical help in the clues, though, and look forward to the day when the Universal puzzle embraces circles in all their outlets (or when constructors stop sending their circled grids there).

Lots of stacked theme material means not so much sparkly fill, but the long stuff is solid enough with RAN A RISK, OFFICER, and ALABAMA. And the rest of the grid is impressively smooth with just a smattering of acceptable crosswordese.

Clues of note:

  • 56d. [Ob-___]. GYN. I couldn’t stop my brain from getting me to put WAN here. Maybe we can get a Disney+ show where the famous Jedi knight becomes an obstetrician. He did aid in the deliveries of Luke and Leia after all.

OB-Wan, M.D.

  • 57d. [Disney World’s most popular ride?]. TRAM. Per Wikipedia, it serves 150,000 people riders every day. That’s second only to municipal monorail systems in Tokyo and Chongqing, China.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.

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34 Responses to Friday, January 5, 2024

  1. Greg says:

    A splendid, if tough, Friday NYT. In the beginning, I had that sinking “uh oh” feeling, as I scratched in a few tentative answers, and surveyed, with despair, the vast amount of white space remaining.

    But then, just by hanging in there, eventually everything fell into place. To be sure, it was slower than my normal Friday time, but it was immensely satisfying to meet the challenge.

    Kudos to Messrs. Williams and Shortz!

    • Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

      Ugh. You sign on the dotted line; you do not put an autograph on it. That was only one of my many disagreements with this awful puzzle.

      • Jim Peredo says:

        You’ve never heard anyone say, “If I could just get your autograph on this form…” or some such?

  2. John says:

    Sorry, can anyone explain: 5D “Dark side of the moon? MARE

    • AlexK says:

      Sure was a tricky clue, right? The moon here denotes the literal moon. The ‘mare’ here is Latinate; it means ‘sea’ and the dark spots on the moon are called the ‘lunar maria’ (pl), singular dark spot is a ‘mare’. Astronomers long ago thought these were actual dark seas. Little did they know it was actually bleu cheese!

      • John says:

        Unfair clue IMO. That’s not a dark “side” in any respect. It’s a shape or spot or blotch or whatever, but “side” implies a portion which touches an entire visible edge of something.

  3. Mutman says:

    NYT: especially tough for me! That north was rough. Had to cheat with the quotes to get me there (MALICE & STYLE)

    ANT for farm creature?? Seems random.

  4. marciem says:

    NYT: Enjoyed the toughness, and it finally fell letter by letter, making almost a Sat. difficulty for me.

    I’m still not clear why “concern for the 1% = dead battery”?? Is that a phone battery warning reference?

  5. David L says:

    DNF on the NYT. Could not get into the NW corner. I had EASYREAD (which seems green-painty to me) but couldn’t make sense of the other clues. Eventually I gave up and revealed LEAGUE (wanted CHEESE, but that didn’t work with 16A) and figured out the rest.

    I agree with the comments above on the clue for MARE — not a dark ‘side’ in any sense that I can see.

    I guess I should have come up with PLASMA TV from the A of APE, but I was fixated on some type of broadcast, such as reality TV.

  6. MattF says:

    Tough NYT. Final word I got was JUDO— after some ancient neuron remembered something and kicked in the ‘J’ in JONAS.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … Since FICTION and DRAMAS are basically interchangeable, I wasn’t sure if the theme phrases were SLASH FICTION and PERIOD DRAMAS or SLASH DRAMAS and PERIOD FICTION. That would be a show-stopper for this puzzle in the alternate universe where I’m a crossword editor.

    FWIW, Google’s Ngram Viewer says that PERIOD DRAMA is much more common than PERIOD FICTION, though neither appears much at all until around 1990. On the other hand, SLASH DRAMA doesn’t exist at all and SLASH FICTION doesn’t get many mentions until the late-’90s.

    • PJ says:

      Also LAT – I’ve found it easy to go with the flow (!) as personal care products have become part of the scenery. I thought I might have reached my limit after dropping in PERIOD CAM before the revealer.

      • Aidan Deshong says:

        Sorry for the confusion, PJ…PERIOD CAM is referring to a DASH CAM, but it trades a (punctuation) mark with DASH DRAMA. Nothing related to personal care products, just TV, punctuation, and car cameras. I see where you’re coming from though, sorry about the mixup!

        • PJ says:

          I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. I did get the theme/transfer. PERIODCAM was just the first theme answer I completely entered. When I said that to myself, I thought, “Hmm.” I didn’t really think it was a new product

  8. Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

    Since I’m on a negative roll today, let me just say that I thought the New Yorker puzzle was so wrong as to be laughable. I seriously doubt that Yamiche Alcindor [whom I have never heard of, but that’s on me] carries a microphone with her “at all time”. I also question whether Peter Frampton has ever carried an amp in his life, much less “at all times”. And Edmund Spenser would have used a quill pen, no? Would he really have carried one and an ink pot with him. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the puzzle. But it just did not make sense.

    • Paul+Coulter says:

      I believe the clues reference them carrying the tool of their trade “…at all times” not because they’d literally carry around these appropriate items, but because the items are inside their names. I enjoyed the theme a lot. I’ve tried to do something similar, and these aren’t easy finds. My theme, which all the major venues rejected, didn’t come out nearly as good as the one in the New Yorker.

  9. Norris Smith says:

    I have been using Will Johnston’s links to get several puzzles but it apparently has not been updated for the new year. Can anyone help me?

  10. placematfan says:

    Crazy diamonds aside, seems like I’ve heard “shine on” in, like, 100 different movies set in the South, none of which I can bring to mind.

  11. Me says:

    NYT: I think it was a fine puzzle, but I’m confused how this wouldn’t have been found during the testing phase to be a Saturday puzzle rather than a Friday one. The wordplay was off the charts, with some of it a bit tenuous, and the comments here are uniformly that it was a tough puzzle for a Friday. Sometimes I think it’s just me who’s struggling, but this feels like a classic Saturday.

    One of my personal stumbling blocks was putting in ILLBEDAMNED rather than ILLBEDARNED. I didn’t see how ILLBEDAMNED could be incorrect, and figuring out the issue was a time and energy sink.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      It seems misplaced to me also, though not as much as the Brooke Husic/BEQ collaboration of two weeks ago. My solve time places this puzzle toward the extreme end of my Friday Challenging range and at the low end of my Medium-Challenging Saturday range. That said, I thought it was an excellent puzzle and probably would have given it 4 or 4-1/2 stars if I rated the puzzles here.

    • Martin says:

      You may find tomorrow’s to be the Friday. Just sayin’.

  12. Jim Peredo says:

    I just added a blog post to yesterday covering the Fireball. If you haven’t done it, it’s a doozy.

Comments are closed.