Friday, May 10, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 6:03 (Amy) 


Universal 2:25 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Jesse Cohn’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5/10/24 – no. 0510

Either this puzzle wasn’t in my wheelhouse, or the editing skewed harder than expected.

Fave fill: ACCENT WALL, “WHAT THE HEY?” (but that 46a [“Heyo”] caused a brow furrowing), ALL THE RAGE (dupe with ABOVE ALL, though), “I’M SO CONFUSED,” STREET SMARTS, HIGH SCORES, athletic OVERTRAINing, SNAPCHAT, POWER USERS.

7d. [One who can’t handle their moonshine well?] is a terrific clue for WEREWOLF. SMELLERS is not a terrific answer for [Noses].

Also liked this clue: 34a. [Evidence of a past personal connection?], NAVEL. Where your umbilical cord connected you to your mother in utero.

3.75 stars from me.

David B Ritterskamp’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/10/24 • Fri • Ritterskamp • solution • 20240510

  • 34a/36aR [… first encounter, or what the answers to the starred clues make?] INITIAL | CONTACT. It’s a sort of before-and-after formulation, hinging on single letters that are elements unto themselves.
  • 16a. [*Sound made by bursting a cereal bag?] SPECIAL K-POP (Special K, K-pop).
  • 29a. [*24-hour TV marathon that requires glasses] THREE-D DAY (three-d, D-Day).
  • 43a. [*Many fan letters to N.W.A.?] EAZY-EMAIL (Eazy-E, email).
  • 59a. [*Bridge that plays a familiar note when crossed?] MIDDLE C-SPAN (middle C, C-SPAN).

These are kind of amusing, but they feel vaguely inconsistent—I can’t quite put my finger on it, though.

  • 1a [Percolate] DRIP. Thought I was oh-so-clever by trying SEEP here, and then I got my comeuppance with the final across entry, symmetrically opposite to this: 66a [Percolate] SEEP.
  • 31a [“Brave New World” drug] SOMA, but I inevitably reflexively respond with DOPA when I see this clue.
  • 32a [ -ray] BLU, 1d [Compact __ ] DISC.
  • 33a [Rooibos, for one] TEA, but not a true tea.
  • 62a [Submits taxes sans paper] E-FILES. Irksome that an entry like this appears with this particular theme, moreso with EMAIL as on of the themers.
  • 65a [Make big bangs?] TEASE. Hair.
  • 3d [Shipped pair?] ITEM, where ship is current parlance for relationship; it functions as a verb.
  • 28d [Like some retro frames] CAT-EYED, after trying CAT’S EYE and CAT EYES.
  • 46d [National park on Mount Desert Island] ACADIA. 47a [Spot of land] ISLET.
  • 47d [Apple with a few cores] IMAC. Processors.
  • 52d [Revolutionary era pipe] FIFE.
  • 60d [Greta of “The Morning Show”] LEE. She’s also in Past Lives (2023), which is on my to-watch list.

Hanh Huynh’s Universal crossword, “Two Sides of the Same Coin”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are all the Across entries on the left and right sides of the grid whose clues are marked with an asterisk. Each word is missing its outer letter though each entry is still a valid (though unclued) crossword entry without its outer letter. The 3-part revealer starts at 29a: NOT / MAKE HEADS / OR TAILS OF [With 34- and 35-Down, be unable to understand … like the apt name off this grid’s left side and word off its right?].

Universal crossword solution · “Two Sides of the Same Coin” · Hanh Huynh · Fri., 5.10.24

The left side words are (A)BASH, (N)ADIA, (T)ROTS, (O)RANGE, (I)CONS, (N)ATE, (E)WOKS, (T)APE, (T)RIG, and (E)YES with the missing letters spelling ANTOINETTE who famously lost her head.

The right side words are ASHE(S), LEON(A), MOTE(L), MATCH(A), CHAR(M), ELS(A), EGG O(N), REN(D), ANT(E), and MOO(R) with the missing letters spelling SALAMANDER which is a critter with a significantly large tail which can be lost and then regrown.

Wow. This is quite an impressive construction. All those theme answers are short, but they have to be stacked upon each other, and of course the missing letters are required to spell out something meaningful. This puts a lot of constraints on the edges of the grid, yet amazingly, everything flows smoothly.

The revealer is somewhat awkward in three parts and ending on a preposition (which rankles me), but given the difficulty-level of construction here, I’ll happily give it a pass.

Elsewhere, the long fill some sparkle, especially HARMONICA and MAELSTROM, but HAS LEGS, ALMANAC, ZANIEST, FACTORS, and even “I DID TOO” are assets to the grid. EDUCE and AROAR are bleh, but as I said, there are a lot of constraints at work here, so they get some leeway from me. I have no idea what SEO is, though [Online marketing metric, for short]. Ah, Search Engine Optimization. I’ve heard that term, not sure how crossword-worthy the initialization is, however.

Clue of note: 1d. [Place to put on some weights]. BAR. I’m going to guess this is referring to a barbell, not a drinking establishment?

Really nifty theme and a nice grid. 4.25 stars.

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23 Responses to Friday, May 10, 2024

  1. Ethan says:

    had the opposite response Amy: just blitzed through it. 6:37, a couple minutes faster than Friday average of the last few years. i thought it was terrific. not a single subpar long entry OVERTRAIN was my least favorite and that’s a perfectly good word. OK looking back over it and i’ll concede SMELLERS isn’t that great. but that’s it. 4.5 for me. just a lovely themeless.

  2. Paul+J+Coulter says:

    Uni – Great pay-off today. Once you finish the reveal, I had an initial “Huh?” then after a bit of thought, it was “Oh, wow!”

  3. David L says:

    I breezed through the NYT until I came to the SE section. I had SELENA instead of SELINA, wanted WOW for HOW, and had no idea about CAP. Eventually I switched to SELINA, but I still don’t understand HOW for “expression of shock” or HIGHSCORES for “level bests.” (“Bests,” yes, but where does “level” come into it?)

    • Eric H says:

      SELINA and HOW slowed me down a bit, too. I’ve never seen “Veep” but eventually came up with the character’s name, though I went for the more conventional spelling.

      As for HOW, perhaps it’s an abbreviated expression like “HOW is this possible?”

      • sorry after after says:

        I read it as more of a stand-alone befuddled utterance: “How…?”

        Kind of a cousin to “What the…?”

        Fun puzzle and a nice debut.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Many (most?) video games have levels that a player advances through. When you’ve leveled up to your highest level yet, you’ve probably also accumulated your highest score to date.

    • JohnH says:

      Much my reaction. Overall a tad easier than many Friday ones but within range and hard SE. I also had trouble getting to POSER there thought first of comer and then loser. Nice puzzle

      I did have trouble explaining the part of speech for Dead / END.

  4. dh says:

    LAT – Once again, I’m bemused by the way that the inclusion of “Lee Atwater” and “NRA” can be triggering (no pun intended) to some, whereas “Che” and “Mao” get a pass. To me, any of these are fair game – my opinion of the names or the organization are irrelevant to the idea of wordplay, trivia, culture, history, etc, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.

    Also a little surprised at 64A. Anyone that I know that prefers “They/Them” pronouns would not stand for “Her” as an alternative. There have been several cases brought to court over this. Or am I missing an obvious alternative reference that the puzzle is making?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “Them,” “her,” and “him” can all be used as first person singular pronouns. “Somebody left their purse in the room” and “somebody left her purse in the room” are workable alternatives for the same thing. (A “their” example came to mind before a “them,” but you get the idea.)

  5. Oli says:

    Way easier for a Friday. PRed by like 5min but something was wrong….so spent minutes finding it and didn’t actually PR :( it was the brutal ROMA/ETTA that I had blitzed through early as ROME/ETTE.

  6. Alan & Beverly Smith says:

    The right hand word is SALAMENDER which is misspelled. It should be SALAMANDER. Unless 40A can be ELSA instead of ELSE.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Oops. The fault is strictly mine in my review above. The correct answer is in fact ELS(A) with the clue [“Frozen” queen]. Thanks for catching it. I’ll fix my write-up.

  7. David Bowen says:

    I disliked “Two Sides of the Same Coin”.
    I don’t think playing letters outside of the grid is acceptable. The only reference to a coin is “heads” and “tails”. Coins have obverse and reverse sides.

  8. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: the editing still leaves something to be desired. 3D: “Shipped pair?” is an “Item”? This is an unnecessary reach. Docking the puzzle .5 for this miscue.

  9. Jamie says:

    Im with Amy regarding the NYT. DNF and not even close. Hardest puzzle for me in the last several months, which says a lot given Fagliano’s editing. Guess the constructor and I just weren’t on the same wavelength.

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