Bruce Haight and David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Adesina’s write-up
Hey! This place looks sooooo familiar!
Good morning, crossword lovers! It’s Adesina (Ade/AOK) performing as Amy’s stunt double for today, and, before I continue, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday! I’m sure I can speak for the many of us who had dinner on Thursday night in saying, “I’m still full.”
Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Haight and by my 2017 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament neighbor, Mr. David Steinberg, was a breeze to solve…and still a head-scratcher in figuring out what the actual “theme” is. I wanted the black squares to actually “do” something, like hide a letter or a shape. I’m still not 100 percent sure of the theme as I type this, but I’m about 88.7 percent sure that the three biggest chunks of black squares are supposed to represent hats (porkpie hats, maybe, given their shape?), and the grid is depicting the step-by-step motion (from left to right and from top to bottom) of a hat either “flipping,” hence FLIPPING ONE’S LID (17A: [Snapping…as suggested by some black squares in this puzzle]), or “dropping,” hence AT THE DROP OF A HAT (58A: [With only slight provocation…as suggested by some black squares in this puzzle]). If you tried to figure out what the black squares were doing while starting your solve, then blew that off just to solve the puzzle without thinking about it, finished the puzzle, and then stared at the completed grid for about 10 minutes trying having no idea about what the heck those suggested black squares were supposed to be doing, raise your hand? (*Hand raised.*) It took about almost 10 minutes for me to believe that those three blocks comprised of those six black squares were supposed to be hats, and the motion of those hats as it “flips” or “drops.” The theme itself is so-so, in my opinion. (Man, when did I become even semi-critical in these blog posts?)
The actual fill in the grid was a lot of fun for me, and it turned my solving experience into a much more enjoyable one when I started to figure out that I was not going to encounter a rebus. Remembering that nugget about QATAR off the bat (27A: [It has the world’s highest per capita income]) allowed me to see MAIN SQUEEZE pretty quickly, my favorite entry of the day (6D: [Steady]). To those who have significant others, I suggest that you say to him/her that they are your main squeezes, and see what happens. There definitely should be a few “awwws” and guffaws uttered after they hear that!
The Northwest portion of the grid went down first, especially when I knew the clue for the entry that ended up being ATLANTAN had to be a sports-related clue, referring to the Atlanta Braves (2D: [Brave person, typically?]). If anyone says on here that someone other than Frank Gorshin is your favorite RIDDLER, I will have to commence shouting at you immediately (64A: [Villain whose alter ego is Edward Nigma]). OK, maybe you’re such a Jim Carrey fan that you love everything he does, including playing The Riddler in Batman Forever. But….no.
I’ve never read any of the POTTER books and have only seen one of the movies, so I needed the crossings to know that nugget in its clue (47D: [Literary orphan who lived for a while in a cupboard]). Looks like I’m going to have to look up some more info about Harry Potter for crosswords in the future…or, I can just read the books! There really were not any hang-ups that I encountered, though I initially had “earwebs” for EARWIGS (63A: [Pincered bugs]) because I thought “dib,” as in “I got dibs…” was what was needed instead of DIG for a few minutes (59D: [Go for]). Oh, and now I need to indulge my sweet tooth after seeing GANACHE (16A: [Chocolate truffle filling]). Turkey and stuffing on Thursday, followed by some chocolate the next day? If I do just that, pray for my teeth!!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GOAT (18D: [One forced to take the blame]) – I guess this would be the perfect time to explain why “GOAT” and/or putting the “goat horns” on someone are expressions used to describe the sports figure that’s deemed the most responsible for a team losing a particular game. Instead, I’ll take it in another direction, as GOAT is also a acronym widely used in sports that stands for “Greatest of All Time,” believe to be derived from the boastful Muhammad Ali, who would proclaim that he’s “The Greatest of All Time.” Also, the acronym is the nickname that was given to the late, great New York City street basketball legend Earl “The Goat” Manigault, and legend has it that the reason he garnered his nickname is because that he was widely considered the greatest streetball player ever. Of course, many also believe that he got that nickname because the last syllable in his last name sounds like “goat.” I choose to believe the former, as he undoubtedly is known as a basketball-playing here in New York City.
I can’t thank you enough for spending some of your time reading this write-up, and I hope you had just a sliver of the fun reading this as I had typing this up. Have a good weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you on here soon. That’s a promise…
Leonard Wiliams’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s puzzle feature’s a combination of two familiar enough concepts. Four synonyms for “go up” are found in the theme answers. These are down answers, only they “go up”. Two, ROCKCLIMB and EVERESTASCENT, are pretty similar to each, differing only in scale. The other two are TAXINCREASE and ENERGYBOOST.
- [Grammy winner for “I Believe I Can Fly”], RKELLY; also notable for not being convicted of sex abuse charges in two states despite video evidence…
- [“The Hunger Games” nation], PANEM. Latin for “bread”. Worth noting for future, if you didn’t know it.
- [Cold sufferer’s boxful], TISSUES. I was always told Americans call these Kleenexes exclusively…
- [Rice dish], PILAF. A bit like pasta, it’s more a class of dish (and some pilaf has pasta). I have a recipe I use that is simple, quick and nyummy…
Erik Agard’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Net Diffusion” — pannonica’s write-up
- 71aR [Viral trend that’s being “spread” in answers to the starred clued] MEME. Indeed all of those entries begin and end with that bigram.
- 18a. [*Prone to interfering] MEDDLESOME. As in Henry II‘s “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Evoked this past June as well.
- 20a. [*Piano=practice beat keeper] METRONOME. Not finding the appropriate clips from The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T, so it’s going to be more jazz for you lot.
- 34a. [*When to eat] MEALTIME.
- 45a. [*Crooner nicknamed “The Velvet Fog”] MEL TORME.
- 57a. [*Million-digit number divisible only by itself and 1] MEGAPRIME. Also sounds very Transformersy …
- 61a. [*Japanese subgenre with battling robots] MECHA-ANIME. Oh hey look at that.
In case you didn’t know it, meme was coined in the mid-1970s by Richard Dawkins and it deliberately echoes the ‘basic-unit’ idea of words such as phoneme and grapheme. Later, as the internet developed and then exploded, the disseminating network became a natural (so to speak) environment for such trends. And now we have indexed sites such as knowyourmeme.com to catalogue and preserve them for posterity.
Also, lately when I consider memes the first thing that comes to mind is this sublimely awful Italian song which itself has over a hundred million YouTube views. It’s at least 18 kinds of horrific. Enjoy!
To be clear, this is not in the so-bad-it’s-good category.
With seven mid-size themers in the grid, not going to be ROOMY (16a) enough to get too fancy, but let’s take a spin through anway, because that’s what we do here.
- 38a [Not a non-starter] VIABLE. Loved this clue for the stagger-step of its double-negative.
- 39a [Michigan liberal-arts college] ALMA. Quite a small one. Here’s a track originally from Yulduz Usmanova’s début album Alma-Alma (Uzbek for “receiving” per Google translate … but it may also mean “do not be”?):
- 68a [Dip in “Swan Lake”?] PLIÉ. Cute but also feels forced.
- 7d [Neck-baring style] UPDO. Confused me for a few; was for some unknown reason thinking exclusively of the front.
- 28d [Chop-shop parts] RIMS. I, uh, put down RIBS first. Chopshop, chophouse, whatever.
- 33d [“La __ Humaine” (Zola novel)] BÊTE. Don’t ever change, CHE …
- 53d [Hero of Rousseau treatise on education] ÉMILE. Whew, flirting with duplication.
- Speaking of which, 25d [Half of six-] TRI- and 52d [Halfway between noon and midnight] SIX PM. Daring!
- 41d [Ref. that has included “crowdfunding” and “photobomb” since 2015] OED. These are meme-ish things. Certainly the latter is.
- 50d [Gp. once headed by Charles Mayo] AMA. Makes a lot of sense, presuming he’s the eponym for the Mayo Clinic.
- 59d [Bandoleer contents] AMMO. From curiosity’s sake:
- 5a [Sullen] DOUR. And which pronunciation do you all favor? Hmm, apparently we don’t have a poll applet enabled on the site. >grumble, grumble<
Long-time solver, long-time reader, and first-time responder here. Since David was gracious enough to talk about me in his June MINCE WORDS Thursday puzzle and dedicate that puzzle to me for Father’s Day, I thought I’d return the favor today. This collaborative puzzle with Bruce Haight is coming out on David’s 21st birthday. In a sense, he has grown up in the crossword world in his puzzles, at the ACPT, at the NPL, and in blogs like this one. And his mom and I have grown up with him. We were there when David created his first crossword as a 10-year-old for his 5th-grade English affinity project. (When his classmates asked him how he did it, he said “with my brain and my Scrabble dictionary!”) We were there when he persevered through 16 rejections before getting his first puzzle into the NYT at 14. We were there when he published his first book of puzzles at 15 and when, in the same year, he was asked to create and edit a weekly puzzle for The Orange County Register. We were there when he decided he really wanted to know what the NYT puzzles before Will Shortz were like and then spearheaded the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project, which ultimately produced more than 16,000 digitized puzzles. And we are with David today in person as he celebrates his 70th NYT puzzle. Though we are obviously proud of his puzzle achievements, we are especially proud of the remarkable person he has become. In addition to being a top-notch crossword constructor and editor, he is also a kind, generous, and modest one. The rare online announcements of newsworthy milestones in his life have invariably been at our instigation, not his—if it were up to him, he’d just remain happily behind his computer, wrangling grids and corresponding with other constructors. Thanks to everyone in the crossworld who has helped him become the person he is today. In closing, back when David’s first NYT puzzle was published, several people noted the entry SANGRIA and wondered how he knew that word at the age of 14; they hoped he wasn’t “imbibing his entries.” Well, today, at age 21, he can indeed “imbibe his entries” if he so chooses! Cheers, David (or in crosswordese, SKOAL!)! Oh, and to both Bruce and David, hats off on today’s puzzle.
Colorful, creative, clever, David’s one of my favorite constructors. I’d be very proud too.
I’ve worked with David, when he ran some of my puzzles in the OCR, and now in his new venture – he’s a tremendously responsive and diligent editor, and a heck of a nice guy. He approached me at ACPT, actually remembering grids I’d submitted several years ago to the NYT when he was Will’s assistant. As the father of two wonderful kids, myself, Paul’s pride resonates with me. Congratulations to you and Mrs. Steinberg, sir!
Where’s the ❤️ button?
Hey Paul– I remember meeting you and Mrs. Steinberg at CrosswordsLA. Congrats on David becoming a great guy in addition to an awesome puzzlemaker. I always love his work!
I’ve met David and solved many of his puzzles.
He is a great addition to Crossworld.
And…he is the mirror image of my oldest nephew, Noah.
He’s studying neurosurgery at Brown medical school, so it’s not an unfavorable comparison.
I’ll just leave this here…
Thanks, Gareth. I don’t mind seeing QATAR in a crossword but I do like that you are spreading this information to those who might not be aware of it.
It is more the “richest nation” tag, and how it is on the backs of migrant slave labour (who aren’t counted in the figures either). South Africa isn’t far behind in the gap between rich and poor, though.
So nice to read this tribute from a proud dad! Watching one’s child become an accomplished, remarkable person is the greatest joy in life. And to my mind, Mr. Steinberg highlighted the most important aspect– the fact that his son is a genuine and humble person. While raw talent might be the luck of the DNA draw, raising kind and grounded children who have an essential integrity is something a parent can truly be proud of.
My HAT’s off to the Steinbergs
PS. And thanks to Bruce Haight and to David. I loved the theme– it made me smile.
Gareth, you have yesterday’s LA times grid posted
Gareth, you missed the fifth theme entry in the LA Times puzzle: 15-Down, [Retailer’s increase, aptly] – PRICEHIKE. Not an elegant clue, since it repeats “increase” from the entry at 3-Down.
Americans definitely say “tissues.” I hardly ever call them “Kleenexes,” myself.
Never call them Kleenex unless they happen to be that brand, in which case it’s a possibility.
Conversely, I almost always refer to all brands of plasters as Band-Aids. Scotch Tape, that’s another one.
I’m sure someone somewhere had made a list and we could just check off boxes or something.
The NYT NE corner defeated me. Still, heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to David (and Bruce), and to Paul and Mrs. Paul.