Monday, September 7, 2020

BEQ tk (Jim Q) 


LAT tk (Stella) 


NYT 3:03 (Jenni) 


The New Yorker 11:15 (Rachel) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.

Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s review

Team Fiend’s own Gareth has today’s crossword! It’s perfectly pitched for Monday. I moved through it quickly and didn’t suss the theme until I got to the revealer. It’s a fun, smooth solve. Nice work, Gareth!

It’s a very pedestrian theme. Heh.

New York Times, September 7, 2020, #0907, Gareth Bain, solution grid

  • 17a [Entranceway to London’s Hyde Park] is the MARBLE ARCH.
  • 25a [Kids’ game that usually ends in a draw] is TIC TAC TOE.
  • 38a [North Carolinian] is a TAR HEEL. Gareth lives in South Africa, so this is probably a bit out of his comfort zone.
  • 47a [Popular food fish that’s actually a flounder] is LEMON SOLE.

And the revealer: 59a [How tall Barbie is … or what the ends of 17-, 25-, 38- and 47-Across are?]: ABOUT A FOOT. Nice! I haven’t seen a Barbie doll in a very long time and would not have said she was that tall.

A few other things:

  • Gareth is a vet and a birder, so VIREO at 12d makes all kinds of sense.
  • I liked the long downs: PARTHENONLA GALAXYWEST BANKSESAME OIL. Multicultural!
  • I was in my 30s before I learned that LARD is used to make pie crust. My family stopped keeping kosher with my grandparents, but some things remained off limits, and lard was one of them. Also pork chops and baked ham. We had bacon, though. Mmm.
  • 46a [“The birds and the bees”] is SEX TALK. PSA: There is no such thing as “the talk.” Teaching kids about sex is an ongoing conversation. We’re still having it, and our kid is 20.
  • 67a [What prevents a coffee cup from spilling] is the LID. This is not a guarantee. Ask me how I know.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of the black-capped VIREO. Also was not familiar with the MARBLE ARCH of Hyde Park. This is what I thought of.

Well baby, I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

Wow I loved this. I *very* confidently threw in BERENSTAIN BEARS and was *very* confident I had spelled it wrong. I’ve definitely encountered articles discussing the mass-misremembering of the name of this family (aka the Mandela Effect), apparently enough of them that the correct spelling has finally lodged itself in my brain!

The New Yorker crossword solution • Kameron Austin Collins • Monday, September 7, 2020

The long entries in this puzzle are all so good! I had no idea bout SHMEGEGGE and it was the last thing to fall in this grid, but now I will be saying it for the rest of the day. The other long entries were also super juicy and packed with excellent clues. I particularly liked [It’s going nowhere?] for  STAYCATION, [Ones with deep pockets] for CARGO PANTS, and [“Don’t tell me!”] for  NO SPOILERS. Other good long entries include ISAAC HAYES / IN TATTERS / MY GOODNESS / SPERM WHALE / BAILED ON / EMPANADA / ROAD TRIP / BORA BORA / EGG DONOR / ROSE BEDS.

A few more things:

  • Fill I could live without: TASS / AER /PRU (especially crossing each other!)
  • I liked the subversion of “sugar babies” to be KEPT MEN
  • For US ONE [It begins in Me.], I definitely threw in THE A.T. (which I then promptly added to my wordlist when I realized that wasn’t right).
  • Representation: A+. See, for instance, the clue on TEA [Goss, in Black queer slang]. Not only is this a newer meaning of TEA, which we have seen occasionally in other puzzles, but it also brings in the origins of the term in Black queer culture, *and* the solver has to content with the word “Goss,” which is (a) hilarious and (b) probably about as hard for some solvers as this meaning of TEA itself. I love this because it shows that you don’t need to load up on proper nouns to bring your own perspective to crosswords (although that’s also a totally valid way to do it!). Every entry and every clue is an opportunity to showcase your voice, and Kam brings that to his puzzles every time.
  • Hard yes on HARD NO from me
  • Is EBAYER a thing people say?

Overall, tons of stars from me for this fresh and entertaining solve. Happy Labor Day, team!

Joe Rodini’s Universal crossword, “Number Lines” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 9/7/20 • Mon • Rodini • “Number Lines” • solution • 20200907

Number types… hit it!

  • 17a. [“Your approach to this math problem will never work!”] BE RATIONAL.
  • 27a. [“Don’t let that hard math concept get you down!”] STAY POSITIVE.
  • 48a. [“You are so talented in math!”] WHAT A NATURAL.
  • 63a. [“I’ll leave you to finish your math homework!”] KEEP IT REAL.

As the clues are all quotes, these number puns are also “lines”.

So let’s do a little analysis now. Per Wikipedia’s List of types of numbers, natural, rational, and real numbers are in the category of main types, while positive numbers are a type of signed number. The definitions below are adapted from there as well:

  • Real numbers are numbers that can represent a distance along a line. All rational numbers are real, but not all real numbers are rational
  • Rational numbers are numbers that can be expressed as a ratio of an integer to a non-zero integer.
  • Positive numbers are real numbers that are greater than zero.
  • Natural numbers are the counting numbers (1, 2, 3 …); however, other definitions include zero, so that the non-negative integers (0, 1, 2, 3 …) are also called natural numbers. Natural numbers including 0 are also called whole numbers.

Hence (using the non-zero definition of natural numbers):

(Circles are not to scale, as all of these sets are infinite. Many thanks to N Elkies and D Sullivan for vetting and correcting my diagram.)

  • 71a [Dry, as cement] SET. 32a [Hour when daylight saving time starts] TWO. 4d [Early third-century year] CCI. 57d [The “T” of MIT, informally] TECH.

All right, on to non-theme material:

  • 9a [They’re taken after all-nighters] NAPS, 47a [Up time?] DAY.
  • 28d [Lead-in to “noir” or “gris”] PINOT, 68a [ __ Spumante] ASTI.
  • 1d [Asia’s second-largest desert] GOBI. The largest is the Arabian desert.
  • 25d [Banks with millions of dollars?] TYRA. Doesn’t seem a new twist, but good to throw a curveball to early-week solvers.
  • 38d [Saintly virtue] PATIENCE. I’d prefer a qualifier for this one. Something like “, it’s said”. After all, 1a [Chatterbox’s “gift”] GAB has those quotes.
  • 50d [Goddess of wisdom] ATHENA. That would seemingly encompass mathematics, but many accounts ascribe that to Apollo and/or Hermes. Hermes is said to have discovered mathematics, using reason and logic, which are under Apollo’s purview. But aren’t those types of wisdom? Oh, those incestuous Greek deities! No Venn diagram for this (too messy!).

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39 Responses to Monday, September 7, 2020

  1. Huda says:

    NYT: That theme cracked me up. Really funny revealer! Well done Gareth.
    And Jenni, I love Hallelujah. Jeff Buckley’s is my favorite but K.D. Lang is very close behind… What amazing lyrics… Listening to it now.

  2. Mark Abe says:

    NTY: Yes, I enjoyed the puzzle and seeing a blogger’s name as constructor was nice. I had the opposite reaction from Jenni to the “Marble Arch”: I recognized it quickly from a trip to London, but had forgotten it was referenced in “Hallelujah.” Huda and Jenni, you have great taste in music.

    • Martin says:

      It’s poetry, so it’s ultimately unknowable, but I’ve always suspected Cohen’s marble arch is the Arch of Titus in Rome. It has great emotional weight for Jews, because it celebrates Rome’s victory in Judaea. There is no better symbol of loss for this text, with all the Old Testament references, mostly involving the self-destruction of imperfect heroes.

      I really miss Leonard Cohen.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        I didn’t know that about the Arch of Titus. Knowing what I do of Cohen, I’m sure you’re right – it was the words “marble arch” that started the song on my internal jukebox.

        For the first time in years, I’m not serving as the lay cantor for High Holidays. I will really miss singing Psalm 150 to that melody. It fits the Hebrew perfectly – and I don’t t think that’s a coincidence.

  3. Martin says:

    Jim P.,

    No WSJ because of the holiday.

  4. Pamela Kelly says:

    Thought the NYT puzzle was a perfect Monday offering!

  5. Cathy says:

    Monday’s puzzle from Universal … hooray for math!!

  6. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    New Yorker question: Can someone please explain 24D?

  7. Billy Boy says:

    Gareth, great job the revealer was 100% correct “ABOUT a FOOT” , pretty rare for a revealer to be so correct!

    NYer Some start:
    SHMEGEGEGEEGEGE over STAYCATION (I just deleted some FB posts I had made, one in March was “I’ll bet the staycation won’t be as popular after 2020) A friend of mine and his wife love(d) to take them.

    Mandela effect – I suggest reading the Invisible Gorilla to understand memory, intuition and more – better. Fave “Confidence is far more believable than facts” (something like that) – more in our everyday lives than we know. Perhaps the most insightful non-fiction I’ve read since leaving University Life.

  8. Billy Boy says:

    That Mandela Effect website sure is glitchy. I might have to access it in Tor.

    Bottom Line you will learn from the Gorilla is that memory is wholly unreliable.

  9. Ned says:

    Nerd alert: The positive reals are not a subset of the rational numbers since many positive reals such as square root of two, and pi, are not rational and many rational numbers are negative. The positive-negative-0 partition is distinct from integer-rational-real hierarchy, and a careful Venn diagram for all of these might look like three concentric circles for the integers- retionals-reals with a vertical line bisecting the whole thing with positive and negative on the two sides of it — and a dot in the middle representing 0.

    The complex numbers are a bigger set than the reals, but the notions of positive and negative don’t make sense beyond the reals, so the complexes would be an outer circle without the vertical line split. (I don’t know how to draw this on line … sorry)

  10. Lester says:

    For me, the song that came to mind from the Marble Arch reference was London Homesick Blues by Gary P. Nunn (notably recorded with Jerry Jeff Walker):

    Well, I decided that
    I’d get my cowboy hat
    And go down to Marble Arch Station
    ‘Cause when a Texan fancies
    He’ll take his chances
    Chances will be taken
    That’s for sure

  11. ktd says:

    Congrats to Gareth on the NY Times puzzle, which I enjoyed from start to finish.

    On several occasions traveling to London for work, I’ve stayed across Bayswater Road from Hyde Park and commuted on the 148 bus which goes past MARBLE ARCH. Traveling along Bayswater Road, you turn right at the Arch and drive down Park Lane, with Hyde Park on your right and Mayfair on your left. Passing Hyde Park Corner by Piccadilly, you drive around the back of Buckingham Palace and make your way to Victoria Street, eventually leading to Westminster Abbey. If you go in the other direction you can get to Kensington Palace, Notting Hill and Shepherd’s Bush. It’s a lovely ride atop a double decker bus.

    There’s also a Marble Arch Tube station nearby. If you’re riding the Central line, listen for the recorded announcement of the station name to hear a fine example of the non-rhotic London accent. Bostonians have “Hahvahd Yahd”, Londoners have “Mahble Ahch”.

  12. ktd says:

    PS. Today’s USA Today crossword by Erik Agard is astonishing. It’s a 66-word themed puzzle, spot-on Monday-level difficulty, with great clues and entries all over.

    • Billy Boy says:

      That was fun, but is there another source other than that page full of junk? e.g. A-Lite

      • pannonica says:
        1. Use XWord v. 0.7.0 (download at )
        2. Go to Tools | Download puzzles (or press ctrl+d)
        3. Select USA Today and the current date
        4. ta-da!
        • Jenni Levy says:

          Ran into this before – cannot open because the developer can’t be verified. I think this is Apple’s way of perpetuating their hegemony.

          • janie says:

            you can override the security warning. at the bottom left of apple’s response to your download request, there’ a question mark. open it. it will take you to “open an app by overriding security settings.” and it works!


      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        There’s a mobile app for the USA Today crossword. If you don’t pay, you can do the current day’s crossword (it comes out at 9 am), but when you finish it, I don’t think you can review it afterwards, and I don’t think you can access older puzzles.

    • dhj says:

      As with all USA Today puzzles, there’s barely a theme (three entries all featuring three ultra-common letters in the middle? This wouldn’t pass muster with any other mainstream publisher), the difficulty is way harder than what I imagine was intended (this was closer to NYT themeless territory for me), and the performative wokeness is simply off the charts. I’ve done enough of them to realize this puzzle just “doesn’t speak to me,” to quote some intersectional poet warlord.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        It’s not “performative wokeness.” It’s just the sort of representative content Erik wants to see in crosswords. I only noticed maybe two things that I didn’t know that offered representation too often lacking in other newspaper crosswords, and they were gettable/had easy crossings.

  13. pseudonym says:

    Kameron Austin Collins and another trivia barrage. Hard to figure sometimes how this guy is paid.

  14. David Steere says:

    TNY: Rachel, as usual, enthusiastically explained the merits of KAC’s puzzle. I found this puzzle quite difficult but finished it with one error (NEPA instead of NAPA–never having heard of EMPANADA–making me, obviously not a “foodie”). But, I’m a bit lost with GOSS and TEA. Rachel, if you are still around, could you explain both the clue and the answer? I tried googling them but got nowhere. Thanks!

  15. Joan Macon says:

    Maybe Labor Day is too much labor for the LAT?????

Comments are closed.