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.
- 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: PARTHENON, LA GALAXY, WEST BANK, SESAME 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 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
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!).