Hemant Mehta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last night, so I’m dismissing the relevance of that 8:47 solve time. (Verrrry first-world problems, I know.)
Hey, it’s a puzzle from Hemant! (H, I appreciated your take on the IL AG’s report on bad guys sheltered by the Church yesterday.) Fave fill: “VERY CLEVER!”, the MERCY RULE, “NOT ONE WORD,” BRUTE FORCE, PROM DRESSES, “I COME IN PEACE,” and one I’d not heard of, NOISE MUSIC (which innately screams “I would not care for this one bit”). Three contemporary lingo bits, too: PLAYER HATERS, BALLERS, and HOT DESKED, which is the office-worker counterpart to sailors sharing beds in different time slots.
Clue surprise: 10A. [Fail to include, say] clues not the frequently used OMIT, but SNUB. A nice balance with the 51d Oscar NOM.
Four stars from me.
Caryn Robbins’s Universal crossword, “Root of the Problem”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases turned into puns resulting from clumsy dentistry.
- 17a. [After failing to bore a hole through the tooth with a Waterpik, the clumsy dentist exclaimed …] “THIS IS NOT A DRILL!”
- 25a. [After cementing her finger to the patient’s implant, the clumsy dentist promised it would just be a …] SHORT-TERM BOND.
- 42a. [After overloading the molding tray with putty, the clumsy dentist left the patient with a …] BAD IMPRESSION.
- 55a. [After realizing her diamond ring had fallen into the amalgam mix, the clumsy dentist informed the patient there was a …] JEWEL IN THE CROWN.
Nice. I wonder if our constructor is a “rabid anti-dentite.” I will admit to laughing out loud with the first one and so I hoped the others would be just as humorous. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite hit that mark for me, but they’re solid nonetheless. Maybe if that first one was placed at the end, the puzzle could’ve finished on a high note. But it’s a fun theme regardless. And it gives me a good excuse to re-watch Steve Martin’s classic dentist song from The Little Shop of Horrors. (See video below.)
Fill is solid. KISSCAM is a lovely bit of sparkle and EXIT ROW is nice. BESO is probably the toughest bit of fill, especially for newcomers, but everything else flowed smoothly.
Clue of note: 24a. [Apt letters missing from “Bri_ish m_ _l”]. TEA. It took me a long time of living in England to realize that TEA meant “dinner” to us Americans.
Fun puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword, “-Anonymous”—Darby’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer ends with ANON, indicated in the title by the hyphen since it’s treated as a suffix.
- 18a [“Fan’s unconfirmed interpretation of a character or story”] HEADCANON
- 39a [“Capital city on the Mediterranean”] BEIRUT, LEBANON
- 55a [“‘The Wretched of the Earth’ author”] FRANTZ FANON
This theme was fun and clever, though perhaps different from many in that ANON was only part of one word versus spanning across two, making it easier to pick up on the theme when pronouncing each theme answer. I didn’t think about it while I was solving the puzzle but reading each of these aloud afterwards made it very clear. HEADCANON was really fun to see, and it took me a minute to get FRANTZ FANON and BEIRUT, LEBANON, but certainly not too long.
There was a lot of fun stuff in this grid, from 4d [“Dress rehearsal”] PRACTICE RUN to the double 62a and 63a [“Untroubled”] AT EASE and SERENE (which I hope will describe everyone’s feelings this long weekend!). I also laughed at 7d [“What ‘Home of the world’s best pizza!’ most likely is”] OVERSTATEMENT.
Some other faves included:
- 8d [“Act as a go-between”] – I struggle remembering how to spell LIAISE given its double I, but I like when it appears. Practice makes perfect, after all.
- 44d [“Inclinations that affect decision-making”] – I appreciated the wording in the clue for BIASES.
- 48d [“Salty solution for soaking food”] – Who doesn’t love a good BRINE?
Andrew Anker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s re: cap
Regarding the theme: the conventional subject line abbrev. re: is repurposed in parsing familiar phrases.
- 20a. [Subject line on an email about bog vandals?] RE: PEAT OFFENDERS.
- 25a. [Subject line of an email about CPA training?] RE: FORM SCHOOL.
- 42a. [Subject line of an email about a guide to raising twins?] RE: PAIR MANUAL.
- 48a. [Subject line of an email about art studios?] RE: CREATION AREAS.
Entertaining, so that’s kind of a treat, right?
- 13d [Perfect or imperfect] TENSE. Not too tough a clue, but it would have been easier (and more accurate) had it included a qualifier, such as ‘for two’ or ‘say’.
- 22d [Halfway to midnight] is an interesting way to think of NOON.
- 28d [“Castle” co-star __ Katic] STANA. Both show and actor are unfamiliar to me.
- 38d [Rotten genre?] PUNK ROCK. Referring to Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon), of the Sex Pistols.
44d [Fall in folds] DRAPE.
- 45d [“Don’t get so worked up”] RELAX—impinges on theme a little, yes? 5a [Take it easy] COAST.
- 49d [Jabber at the table?] TINE. This one fooled me, despite the presence of 32a [Sticker] THORN.
- 15a [Forget, as a repulsive image] UNSEE. Most often seen in a negative formation: ‘cannot unsee!’
- 18a [Sparkling alternative] STILL. A bit of restaurant-speak.
- 39a [Green vegetable in a minji stew] PEA. Different context than we typically see, which is usually something involving pot pie or princesses and mattresses.
NYT: I sailed through most of this puzzle except for the NE- Not knowing the PLAYER part of PLAYER HATERS got in the way, and the clue for POSER was a tough nut to crack. I surprised myself by figuring out BALLERS, thanks to my son in law’s use of the term, although I had the impression that it referred to being outstanding at something, not living large…
I liked seeing the mix of slang and other more formal-sounding phrases, like NO MAAM and I COME IN PEACE.
It was a quick but fun puzzle. I also found the NE the most challenging part. I had heard of the concept of a MERCY RULE, but I didn’t know that name.
I didn’t know the crossings of AMC, PLAYER HATER, BALLERS, MERCY RULE (definitely not a fave fill for me!), and NOISE MUSIC, and yeah the NE above all that was tricky indeed. I found the whole left half of the puzzle a breeze for Friday and then ground to a halt. Fortunately, working out the tricky bits then allowed me some lucky guesses on the other five. Overall, though, an ingenious puzzle and interesting challenge.
Enjoyed this one. Lots of meaty content that flowed well.
NYT: I agree! Great way to start my Friday morning before Memorial Day Weekend
Hey! I solved the NYT faster than sleep-deprived Amy! I’ll take it…
1D: Solving on the NYT website, the first letter is not oval but circular…
I’m going to say that ovals are a subset of circles, in the same way that a square is a kind of rectangle.
Oval and ellipse are basically synonymous, and one definition of an ellipse is a circle where the two foci are coincident.
And of course, in most typefaces the letter ‘O’ is indeed oval.
I realize your comment was tongue-in-cheek, but it seemed like an opportunity for expansion.
True, but in common usage (I think), most people tend to put circles and ellipses/ovals into different mental slots. I do, anyway.
To me, furthermore (your honor), an ellipse is a specific shape defined, as you say, by having two foci, whereas an oval is any kind of squashed circle; it can even have straight sides, like a racetrack.
Getting even farther afield:
Sorry pannonica, an oval is not a particular circle nor vice versa. While a square certainly is a rectangle, as it fits the definition, the circle is not an oval by any respectable definition (yours appears made up). :)
From Wikipedia (without citation, as I presume it’s axiomatic or something): “A circle may also be defined as a special kind of ellipse in which the two foci are coincident, the eccentricity is 0, and the semi-major and semi-minor axes are equal[.]”
see also my mea culpa below
Circles are, geometrically speaking, a subset or special case of ellipses (where the foci are co-incident, as pannonica correctly states).
Oval is a colloquial term that lacks a precise definition, but in casual conversation is often used interchangeably with ellipse. It comes from the same root as “ovate” and originally meant anything egg-shaped.
But I would also guess that many people these days think of “oval” as the shape of a racetrack, and these are usually not ellipses, but rather half-circles at the ends of a rectangle.
Yes! I said it backwards from what I meant. Circles and squares are analogous as more rigorously defined versions of ellipses and rectangles.
You also got it right that O is quite wildly an oval. It’s what I’m seeing in this comment field and on my keyboard right now.
Besides, it doesn’t matter one bit what a particular solver or even most solvers (like me) often write something kinda sorta maybe like a circle. Crossword clues never, unlike much prose, imply that they hold universally, a point that has come up here with criticism often before.
Oops, “widely.”I should read what I’ve written.
Pannonica: I didn’t solve today’s LAT puzzle, but I just had to play the Willis Allan Ramsey clip. I’ve always liked that song. Thanks!
I’m always pleased when someone enjoys the shared music. “Regards!”