Friday, May 17, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:52 (Amy) 


Universal 3:19 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Hemant Mehta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5/17/24 – no. 0517

Hey, hey! It’s a Shortzian Friday level of difficulty.

Lots of crisp fill today. Fave fill: SCIENCE LAB, FELL IN LOVE, CABLE CAR, TIDAL WAVE, TANGRAMS, MCGRAW (because I appreciate having McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Idioms, so handy for writing clues), READS AHEAD, LOSING SLEEP, SNIDE REMARKS, the terrific FALLBACK PLAN, and a CHEESE WEDGE (anyone tried Miyoko’s vegan cheeses? Am curious).

Three things:

  • 4d. [Animal that’s catadromous, meaning it lives in fresh water but goes to sea to breed], EEL. I’m still recommending the 2020 New Yorker article by Brooke Jarvis on the mysterious breeding of eels. Come for the science, stay for young Freud’s hands-on search for eel testicles.)
  • I am deeply troubled by this one. 19a. [Like some blankets and burritos], WET? Wet burritos? If you serve me a wet burrito, I’m asking for a refund. Let’s look this up. It might be a Michigan creation, and here’s a recipe where you basically serve a burrito in a bowl of sauce that includes a can of condensed tomato soup. Just say no!
  • 34a. [Fade out], GO DIM. Is that phrase really a thing? The abovementioned idiom dictionary doesn’t include it among the other phrasal verbs with dim in them.

4.25 stars from me.

Drew Schmenner’s Universal crossword, “It’s Official!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar words and phrases that feature the letters DEAL. In the first theme answer, these letters are far apart, but as the solver progresses down the grid, they come together. The revealer is CLOSED THE DEAL (52a, [Signed paperwork, say … and a hint to 18-, 28- and 44-Across]).

Universal crossword solution · “It’s Official!” · Drew Schmenner · Fri., 5.17.24

  • 18a. [Untwisting, as a cord (In this answer, note letters 1, 4, 7 and 10)] DISENTANGLING.
  • 28a. [Buzzed in on “Jeopardy!” but said nothing, say (… letters 1, 3, 5 and 7)] DREW A BLANK.
  • 44a. [Golden brews (… letters 5-8)] BLONDE ALES.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to contend with a dreaded Universal square-counting theme, but then again, I typically only do the Friday Universals. Thankfully, if you have circles in your grid, you can safely ignore the parenthetical hints in the clues, so that’s just what we’ll do.

The theme is solid, but it seems odd to me to have the entry BLONDE ALES when the revealer can be both the last in the series as well as the revealer. Of course, that would require a fourth theme answer, presumably with three-letter spacing, and maybe such a theme answer doesn’t exist. Still, as it is, it seems slightly less elegant than it could have been

Looking at the long fill, I’ve heard of the Ring doorbell and knew it incorporated a camera, but I’ve never heard the phrase RING CAMERA. The company does make standalone cameras, so I guess it’s legit, if not just a little green painty. INDOOR CATS is solidly in-the-language though. Also good: SEESAWS, “I’M BEAT!,” and “LORDY!”

Clue of note: 65a. [Game show winner’s haul]. PRIZE. In my book, a “haul” implies a bunch of items, not just one.

3.5 stars.

Michael Torch’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/17/24 • Fri • Torch • solution • 20240517

It’s all about placement.

  • 17a. [Give unappreciated gifts. literally] CAST PEARLS SWINE (cast pearls before swine).
  • 25a. [Pre-chaos moment, literally] THE CALM THE STORM (the calm before the storm).
  • 43a. [48 hours ago, literally] THE DAY YESTERDAY (the day before yesterday). Spanish—and I expect other languages—conveys this more efficiently with el anteayer.
  • 57a. [Overconfidence is dangerous, literally] PRIDE COMES A FALL (pride comes before a fall).

Haven’t seen one of these Wacky Wordie-type themes in a while, but they used to be quite the rage in crosswords. This one keeps it consistent and simple, does it well.

  • 1d [Birria option] TACO. Is birria still ascendant in US cuisine, or has its moment passed?
  • 18d [Elliptical part] PEDAL, not FOCUS (as I was thinking of Euclidean geometry, not exercise equipment).
  • 38d [Word with you or who] SAYSWho says? Says you!
  • 39d [Bass player?] LURE. Needed some crossings to see which way this was going.
  • 45d [Shoe decor] TASSEL. “Decor”? I would choose ‘decoration’ or ‘adornment’.
  • 21a [Boot] EXPEL. 64a [Turn off] REPEL.
  • 42a [Modest hits?] BUNTS. Initially had DENTS and needed to resolve that in order to complete the grid correctly.
  • 47a [Consumed] ATE, 48a [Enjoy every bite of] SAVOR.


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15 Responses to Friday, May 17, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I enjoyed solving this puzzle for all the reasons Amy laid out. And it felt easier than usual, which makes me feel smarter (until I come here and some of you say it was too easy :).
    I too had to look up WET Burritos but realized I’d eaten them. They can be quite tasty. But absolutely NOT to canned condensed tomato soup! That stuff should be banned, Andy Warhol notwithstanding.

  2. CC says:

    Re: Wet burritos… it may have a Michigan origin, but I think it’s made its way quite a distance across the US. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest all my life, and I’ve seen wet burritos (which, to be clear, is a burrito covered in enchilada sauce, and not just, you know, doused in water) offered at I don’t know how many Mexican restaurants. So yeah, it’s a widespread thing to be sure.

    • marciem says:

      I’ve never seen or heard of a wet burrito… is there a difference between that and a beef’n’bean enchilada?

      • PJ says:

        I’d say the burrito is wrapped in a flour tortilla while the enchilada is wrapped in a corn tortilla

      • Martin says:

        An enchilada is smaller and has a simpler filling than a burrito. You’d never get served a single enchilada, nor multiple wet burritos. Besides the different tortilla type, enchiladas differ in that they are baked in the sauce. A wet burrito is just rolled and covered with sauce and possibly cheese. It might be run under a broiler to melt the cheese, but enchiladas are baked for a considerable time.

        • marciem says:

          Thanks for the info, PJ and Martin! I don’t know how wet burritos escaped my radar (other than I always skip the burrito part of the menu when dining Mexican :D … not my thing)

    • Eric H says:

      The Tex-Mex restaurant we’ve frequented here in Austin for the last 40+ years serves burritos smothered in sauce. I always assumed that was the norm until we had dry burritos in NYC.

      I can’t remember getting a burrito any other Mexican restaurant here, so I can’t say that a wet burrito is the common way to serve them here.

      That’s how we make them at home, though.

    • DougC says:

      I ate my first wet burrito at the source, the famous Beltline Bar in Grand Rapids MI, back in 1980. But having eaten at Mexican restaurants across the country in the years since, I can attest that they are now ubiquitous, as well as yummy. But please, just say no to tomato soup (egad). My current fave eatery serves them “drizzled with pimento sauce, poblano crema and mole sauce. Topped with pickled onions and queso fresco. Side garnished with mango pico.”

      Oh, the puzzle: fun, but absolutely the easiest Friday in recent memory, and very nearly a PB for me.

  3. David L says:

    I thought the NYT was easier than the typical Shortzian Friday puzzle. I got WET from crosses without noticing the clue. A wet burrito sounds highly unpleasant, whatever it may be in actuality.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I matched my personal best Friday solve time with this puzzle. It solved like a NYT Tuesday for me. I came reasonably close to Amy’s solve time, which never happens. Maybe Dan Feyer took over my brain for 5 minutes.

      The difficulty level of the last three Friday’s have been a complete reversal for me compared to the first seven under Joel Fagliano’s editorship. That’s generally been true for the other days of the week as well.

  4. Sophomoric Old Guy says:

    NYT very easy for me. One of my fastest times for a Friday. No matter who the editor.

    As for the Wet Burrito question. I worked through it with the crosses, but am familiar with burritos offered with various salsas, cheese, crema and/or sour cream on top. Definitely not your “pick it up and eat it” version from Chipotle.

    LAT liked. Classic style puzzle along the lines of a Thursday NYT.

    • MarkAbe says:

      Agreed. I’m an Angelino and have been doing LAT since long before they were on-line. This is one of the few days I’ve enjoyed the fun-themed LAT more than NTY.

  5. Burak says:

    Aside from Wednesday’s gimmick puzzle, the NYT so far this week is on fire. Another dope one. The clues were perfect for a Friday even maybe a tad on the easier side.

  6. AlanW says:

    To answer Amy’s question about Miyoko’s vegan cheeses: Yes, they are excellent. There was a fascinating article about vegan cheeses in the NYT a few years ago (that link should be publicly accessible), which pointed out that dairy cheeses don’t actually taste like milk. Milk is just the medium for culturing bacteria and molds that, along with flavoring, aging, and other skilled processes, create the hundreds and hundreds of varieties of cheese that differ vastly in taste and texture.

    You can do the same thing with nondairy milk, too. The resulting cheese might be made to resemble a dairy cheese, or it might be something entirely new. The NYT article quotes the chef of Superiority Burger, in New York City, as saying that Miyoko’s “products are pretty untouchable. . . When we mess around with new recipes for nondairy creams and yogurts and ricotta, we often reach the consensus among staff, ‘Well, it’s pretty good, but it’s no Miyoko’s.'”

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