Welcome to another installment of Michael and Lena chat about the New Yorker crossword. Today, it’s the newest puzzle from Anna Shechtman (Jun. 4, 2018)
Rex Parker: Sup?
Lena Webb: ugh I’m getting sick. I blame it on the hellish car rides TODC and FROMDC.
Rex Parker: I was sure DC was gonna give me a cold.
Lena Webb: I also didn’t like this puzzle.
Rex Parker: This puzzle is great wtf.
Lena Webb: way too many proper names for me.
Rex Parker: Well there were a lot it’s true.
Lena Webb: and when they’re all the long ones, or many are… idk, it just was a slog.
Rex Parker: I’ve heard of them all, and only RENATA ADLER really gave me fits.
Lena Webb: It just feels forced to cram so many women. Like I get it, I really do, but maybe spread them out over a few puzzles tho…
Rex Parker: Each in its own quadrant. I don’t think that’s “crammed.”
Lena Webb: I meant within the puzzle as a whole
Rex Parker: Much more ish with WESER (?) and LEONTES tbh
Lena Webb: Yeah, that all contributed to my unhappiness for sure
Rex Parker: BAKU! I love that capital name and wish I saw it more. It reminds me of a cute little demon.
Lena Webb: what do you think of TOEER?
Rex Parker: It is (in)human. I dinged the hell out of the NE corner. LIRE / EMER / RES going thru WESER, no thx. Also TNS was not famous enough to earn that abbr. But I do want to do a theme now that somehow involves ETHERIC Ocasek.
Lena Webb: Haha I have no idea what TNS is or who Larry Willmore is. Basically it seems most of this puzzle is outside of my wheelhouse. I had PANNING instead of SIEVING for a while there which also stymied my progress.
Rex Parker: “The Nightly Show”; Wilmore (black humorist / comedian) was on “The Daily Show” for a bit, then got his own late-night show on Comedy Central, then it got canceled.
Lena Webb: That would explain my ignorance then– I just haven’t had cable for so long, and those kind of shows are just something I find myself watching if they were on but don’t really seek out.
Rex Parker: Four women writers made for a great mini-theme, imho. And again, PK and RA and JD all have specific histories with the New Yorker, and I enjoy the meta-ness of … that. LYDIA Davis too, I think. No idea if AUDRE LORDE ever wrote for the New Yorker, but between her appearance here and GWENDOLYN BROOKS appearing right down the middle of Erik Agard’s LAT puzzle on Saturday, let’s just say it’s probably been the best week in the history of black women poets, crosswordwise. Huge positive.
Lena Webb: I agree. Inclusivity-wise this puzzle is slamdunking. I feel like a jerk for saying I didn’t enjoy it tbh. Oh, there’s also another mini-theme going on here: GOOGLE MAPS, AMAZON PRIME and [Acrobat, e.g.] PDF READER. I did love that clue, but tech stuff makes me feel icky these days. Maybe that contributed to my feelings.
Rex Parker: Good point re: Amazon and Google. “This Feminist Crossword brought to you by … Our Tech Overlords”
Lena Webb: TESLA INC would have pushed me right over the edge.
Rex Parker: ELON MUSK SPACEX TESLA BRO
Lena Webb: (22)
Rex Parker: DRIVE ONE’S SPACEX (15)
Lena Webb: LOL(OLOL). So… is GETS A GRADE, like, GETS A-GRADE or simply receives a grade of any kind?
Rex Parker: Yeah, I dunno about that one.
Lena Webb: Do TEL [Lofty line(s): Abbr.] lines even work anymore?
Rex Parker: Here is some fill that is on my Enemies List: EDER, RIAA, EMER, THES, TOERR, ACELA, and now, ETHERIC.
Lena Webb: not a fan of the high-speed rail? Speaking of Elon Musk!
Rex Parker: The rail is fine, it’s just ACELA is NE-specific and also primo crosswordese. Hey, I know you have been critical of OCD clues in the past. What about this one? [Anxiety disorder, for short].
Lena Webb: This is a perfect, factual clue for OCD and I think a lot of people don’t understand it as an anxiety disorder, but that’s what underlies all the rituals (if that’s how it manifests in a particular individual)– debilitating anxiety that is only alleviated by performing the actions. So, definitely a great clue for that!
Rex Parker: Yeah, I thought so too.
Lena Webb: How about [Mansplainers have two] for CENTS?
Rex Parker: OK I did not like that for the following reasons!:
EVERYONE *has* two cents. Mansplainers *offer* theirs unbidden *to women.* So … I admire the effort there, but that missed for me. And it ESPECIALLY missed crossing CLE wtaf!? I had ILE de Peau and that seemed just fine, but I couldn’t figure out why mansplainers would have two IENTS
Lena Webb: Same, same, same.
Rex Parker: [hi five]
Lena Webb: Also regarding mansplaining, I think of it as when a man explains something to a woman that she is already an expert on in her field, assuming she doesn’t know anything.
Rex Parker: Again, true
Rex Parker: I liked that the women writers are all clued by what other women writers said about them. But I want to validate your “holy crap the proper nouns!” sentiment. In that NW corner, for instance, the first *five* abutting Downs (GOOGLE MAPS, AUDRE LORDE, TREE OF LIFE, SNIDER, TNS) = all proper nouns. That is, as the French say, “crammed.”
Lena Webb: Yeah, and I think I wouldn’t have minded so much if the rest of the fill had been less crosswordese heavy.
Rex Parker: I didn’t think it was *that* heavy, compared to your avg NYT, but I hear you. I can tolerate some when the longer fill is good, which I thought this puzzle’s was.
Lena Webb: Your lists of “enemy words” Is pret-ty long though. And just to REREITERATE, I feel guilty, like I’m a bad woman for not knowing a bunch of the women included in here.
Rex Parker: Oh I understand and sympathize. I mean LIBERAL ARTS and literature in particular is my thing and I still had that feeling I had when I was in my 20s, which went something like this, “OMG everyone in my grad program is smarter than me why can’t I be the kind of person who listens to NPR and reads the New Yorker and went to Yale and buys, like, organic plums or whatever!” [palms sweaty, heart pounding]. I am now the kind of person who can fake intimate knowledge of this shit because I’ve been soaking in English Departmentness for 3 decades.
Lena Webb: DOMESTIC DRUPES!
Rex Parker: LOL. You know I only learned the word “drupe” two years ago. I think you were in the room when it happened.
Lena Webb: It was a SLOE march towards understanding
Rex Parker: I had no good fuck-ups today, except for BAT instead of GAT (1A: Hit maker?), which then made me think 1D Aid for the directionless had something to do with BOOGIE-ing
Lena Webb: I also briefly entertained MOB there, thinking 1D would be MAP-something
Rex Parker: Hey, for 14D: Brief word, is it RES because it’s a *legal* brief and a legal matter is RES in Latin legalese? Am I smart boy now? Can have treat?
Rex Parker: ANSWER ME! (9D)
Lena Webb: Haha sorry the neighbor rang my doorbell and I panicked
Rex Parker: LOL
Lena Webb: WHO DARES RING MINE BELL
Rex Parker: Every doorbell / knock has me hiding under desk, I get it
Lena Webb: But yes, you can consider your head patted on that one. But I grappled with dark existential feminist demons
Lena Webb: … the hottest kind
Rex Parker: Say more…
Lena Webb: basically this puzzle made me hate myself and I need to visit the TREE OF LIFE for some dangerous self-love
Lena Webb… of the hottest kind
Lena Webb: oh wait
Lena Webb: that was AUDRE I’m supposed to visit. Not the tree
Lena Webb: SEE?! I’m going to bed to lay in the dark and stare into the void.
Lena Webb: …This is when you’re like NO Lena it’s AUDREL ORDE, don’t you know anything?
Rex Parker: LOL I mean if you don’t know the parsing then why *not* AUDREL ORDE? Or RENA TAADLER. But xwords do bring us face to face with the demon that is Our Own Ignorance, and that can be … uncomfortable, For Sure.
Rex Parker: That’s my two IENTS
Lena Webb: There is no I in ENTS
Rex Parker: Actually, my two IENTS are AMB and GRAD
Lena Webb: [Grad final?]
Rex Parker: “There’s no I in ENTS!”—ENT coach of ENT little league team, right before they play the Orcs
Rex Parker: If I ever am desperate enough to put IENT in a grid, I am totally stealing [Grad final?]. Nice.
Lena Webb: Do they just use themselves as bats?
Rex Parker: Yes. They don’t have pitchers. They just hit it off the tree. It’s Tree-ball.
Lena Webb: Okay I’m happy again
Rex Parker: Yay! I think we’re done here. Mwah.