THE NEW YORKER Crossword (MAY 28, 2018)—by Natan Last

We’re posting this 10 days after-the-fact … we’ll get our timing right eventually, I swear

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One of us has good handwriting; the other has actual crossword tournament awards, plural, for Worst Handwriting

Rex Parker: Hey everyone, welcome (back). This week’s (5/28) New Yorker offering is from Natan Last. I solved it at the ballpark during the Memorial Day clash between the Bowie Baysox and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Where did you solve, Lena?

Lena Webb: Flopped on the couch after a 33 mile bike ride to Walden Pond– I was Thoreauly exhausted.

Rex Parker: Nice one. I did a brain game thing while watching athletes do manly things, so I’m really feeling like a CEREBRO right now (31A: Professor X’s mutant-finding device in “X-Men”).

Lena Webb: I was lounging with my friends-who-puzzle and I immediately asked them for that one. I was all over HOMEBREW (11D: What you might do for your own sake?). Just brilliant.

Rex Parker: Yeah, that was great, but do people make sake at home?

Lena Webb: People make all kinds of shit at home, and if sake is fermented rice wine I bet we could google “sake homebrew” and make credibility bank

Rex Parker: I associate HOMEBREW exclusively with beer, and beardy (cere)bros.

Lena Webb: I have a kombucha SCOBY the thickness of an ottoman cushion, so my horizons have been expanded.

Rex Parker: I like how you all-capped SCOBY, so as to give all the constructors out there good fermented fill ideas.

Lena Webb: It IS an acronym! So, in addition to that excellent question mark clue there were four others– but it felt like there were so many more!

Rex Parker: Yes, it definitely felt awash in “?” clues, but as soon as I finished, I counted. Just 5. Weird that we both felt inundated by them.

Lena Webb: I also immediately counted. I guess the individual clues were just hyper-questionmarky? I think TREASUREMAP (8D: Instructions for a chest examination?) felt most forced.

Rex Parker: I didn’t mind that much. [Ask a loaded question, maybe?] for SLUR is pretty great. I wanted [Pitching staff?] to be ADMEN—SALES was very tough for me to come up with. That whole SW corner gave me minor fits.

Lena Webb: Yep, me too– ADMEN and my experience in that corner. KINFELLA is… well, nothing I’ve ever called a friend.

Rex Parker: Ha ha why would you think KIN-? Oh, KODAK YELLOW, lol. That makes all kinds of sense, strangely (34A: 2017 No. 1 hit with the lyric “I don’t dance now / I make money moves”).

Lena Webb: In terms of what? I’m not familiar with the song

Rex Parker: I mean KODAK has yellow in its color scheme, right. The real answer is BODAK. “BODAK YELLOW.”

Lena Webb: Whoaaa what is 34D: Alternative to “buddy” then?

Rex Parker: BIG FELLA

Lena Webb: Whoa. Okay well that was a disaster for me then.

Rex Parker: KINFELLA is like Shakespearean hip-hop. “Hail, good KINFELLA! What’s good?”

Lena Webb: lol and I rationalized HAN (39A: “A freckled whelp ___-born”: Prospero’s cruel description of Caliban in “The Tempest”) as like some abbreviation of “hand” and that being “han’ born” is somehow bad? I also had LIVE BIRTH instead of GIVE BIRTH (54A: Emulate Marni Kotak, say, in her 2011 performance-art piece).

Rex Parker: I was wondering about how you got to HAN. “Is Caliban Chinese?”

Lena Webb: I was screwing up left and right

Rex Parker: O man, GIVE BIRTH was one of many answers where I had No Clue but got it from crosses. There was a heady mix of those and then gimmes. So it all worked out. For me, anyway…

Lena Webb: Those were my only snags, but the one was pretty epic. I thought I was right!

Rex Parker: Me, solving 24D: Dramatic principle similar to foreshadowing: “CHEKH…? Well I’m out.” I know the quote about if someone has a gun in act I it has to go off in act III but I have never heard of CHEKHOV’S GUN as a concept. Even after I was like “Oh, CHEKHOV!” I still sweated those last three letters.


[“I don’t find it fantastic or think it absurd / When the gun in the first act goes off in the third”]

Lena Webb: CHEKH yourself before you wreck yourself! Oh, is KEN OLIN related to LENA OLIN?

Rex Parker: Yes

Lena Webb: Coooool.

Rex Parker: I almost reached my tolerance level with pop culture today. Like, hurray, it’s current! But this took me right up to the edge. REKT! (33A: Whupped but good, in gamer slang)

Lena Webb: Yeah, I think I did too. Now that we’ve seen puzzles from all of the constructors, how do you see the overall tone of the New Yorker puzzle experience playing out?

Rex Parker: This confirmed the generational split I mentioned last time. Very current and playful and slangy, which I really like. But I think it’s probably good for the constructors to have different voices and different predilections.

Lena Webb: I definitely think it’s a good thing, and I look forward to many more Mondays. The BEQ themeless Monday has to share the clipboard now.

Rex Parker: I have been falling behind on all my indie puzzles. But clippy (the clipboard) is getting a lot more work now that it’s summer. I should add that Penelope (my wife) wrote in a few of these answers, notably SLUSH PILE  (17A: Stack for a publisher’s assistant, colloquially) and LSD TAB (35D: Alternative to a shroom cap). I felt bad just doing the puzzle by myself while she was sitting right there, so I took the beer and she took the puzzle for a bit.

Lena Webb: I gave my friends other puzzles to solve while I did the New Yorker and there were beers for all! A nice afternoon, and a nice puzzle.

Rex Parker: These were some of my gimmes: REHAB, BODAK YELLOW, Moaning MYRTLE, EGAN, ASTOR (first answer!), ULAN, NTH, THE TOAST (which saved my ass in the SW). No idea about: CEREBRO, CHEKHOV’S GUN, or The IMP. Loved FAN ART (a real comics thing). Despise FAKE NEWS in all contexts, but not enough to dislike this puzzle overall, which I think is aces.

Lena Webb: Yeah, the clue for FAKE NEWS was too “innocent” for me not to side-eye it (21A: “What a bunch of baloney!”).

Rex Parker: Thought Coleridge’s moon was going to be HORRID, and really thought 3D: Lewd was gonna turn out to be SLUTTY. So close! (it’s SMUTTY)

Lena Webb: As for the…


…today’s “pangram” was TWINKLE and words like TINKLE and KITTEN were present while yesterday’s had DICK, COCK, and PRICK.

Rex Parker: I didn’t look at today’s Bee. But yesterday’s, yeah, that was DICK PORK city. My best fake answer was DIRK ODDPRICK, P.I. Gonna make him the star of a series of very short and boring mysteries. I drew a picture of him.

Lena Webb: Oh man I can’t wait to see! I drew a ton of dick pics for yesterdays, including a COCK PROP, DICK CORK and a DORK COP. My work there is done. But I do want to call attention to my “BEE YOURSELF” print-version E-BEE campaign

Rex Parker: What does the campaign entail?

Lena Webb: I’ve made a template hive and pop in the E-BEE letters and print it out like I would a Longo Bee. Then I do 5-letters first, then the 4-letter scraps. Then I just use the web interface to input my words and get the score. So far I’ve maxed out the genius scale every time. Except of course they/it wouldn’t take IRIDIC.

Rex Parker: Cool. That’s good for tonight, I think. Thanks for chatting. Til next week: BEE … something punny! Wait, BEE is actually in the crossword. Did we acknowledge that? I hereby acknowledge that!



®2018 Rex Parker

1 comment
  1. danfeyer said:

    Ha, I was just about to remove this site from my “active” links and look, there’s something! I will also leave my “On the Grid” podcast subscription in place just in case…
    (BTW, Ken Olin and Lena Olin are not related.)


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