Monday, May 29, 2023

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 1:54 (Stella) 


NYT 3:51 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 10:47 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the Memorial Day holiday.

Katie Hale and Zachary David Levy’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Happy Monday and happy Memorial Day everyone!

Today’s theme is phrases where the second word has the “ooh” vowel sound in the middle, but each word contains a different mix of vowels. We’ve got:

New York Times, 05 28 2023, By Katie Hale and Zachary David Levy

  • 16a [Longest side of a right triangle] – HYPOTENUSE
  • 23a [Reckless way to play things] – FAST AND LOOSE
  • 38a [Dessert made with cocoa and egg whites] – CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
  • 47a [Quaint cry of surprise] – WHAT THE DEUCE
  • 60a [Smoothie chain founded in 1990] – JAMBA JUICE

Mmm, CHOCOLATE MOUSSE is one of my favorite desserts, and this puzzle made me hungry for it! All of the theme answers are great stand-alone, which I think is necessary for simple theme types like this. I personally got a bit held up by trying to spell HYPOTENUSE, and even with the theme the last word of WHAT THE DEUCE took a while to come to me. Also, I think JAMBA JUICE changed its name to just “Jamba” a few years ago? So that answer (or maybe just the clue) is a little outdated, but I’m being pedantic. It still made me smile to see.


Fun clues: [San Francisco/Oakland separator] for BAY, [Bat, rat or cat, but not a gnat] for MAMMAL. I also liked the bird connection of EMU and NENE.

Congrats to Katie and Fiend’s own ZDL on a great puzzle!

Mike Peluso’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 5/29/23 by Mike Peluso

Los Angeles Times 5/29/23 by Mike Peluso

Here’s a theme that’s all wet. The revealer at 39A [Oscar-winning Marlon Brando film, or where the last words of 18-, 23-, 49-, and 57-Across can literally be found] is ON THE WATERFRONT, meaning that the second word in each two-word theme answer can be put in front of WATER to make a new phrase.

  • 18A [Blended condiment] is GARLIC SALT; SALT WATER is what you find in the ocean.
  • 23A [Fictional band that uses an umlaut on the “n” in its name] is SPINAL TAP. Is it an umlaut or a diaeresis? When it’s a letter that isn’t supposed to get either, does it matter? Either way, TAP WATER is how I always answer the question “still or sparkling?” at restaurants.
  • 49A [Like recently harvested produce] is FARM FRESH. I guess if you’re going to allude to SALT WATER, you should also allude to FRESH WATER.
  • 57A [Leavening agent that’s also a cleaning product] is BAKING SODA. (And also a component of some fun science experiments in the sink, if you’re a kid!) I’ve been getting into Spanish vermouth served with SODA WATER as a mixer of late. Delicious!

Pretty clean grid with lots of thematic material, and the theme answers themselves are nice and evocative. No complaints, except the quibble that I wish 33D SNARL had been clued to unequivocally rule out SNARE as an answer. For me it led to an error in the finish, which, fine, I should have checked the crossings, but on Monday, for beginning solvers, I think removing the ambiguity would be a good thing.

Emma Lawson and Hoang-Kim Vu’s Universal crossword, “Fringe Benefits” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 5/29/23 • Mon • “Fringe Benefits” • Lawson, Huang-Kim • solution • 20230529

Profits imagined as apt to various professions:

  • 17a. [Earnings for a stand-in?] DOUBLE TAKE. {26d [Subs (for)] SITS IN.}
  • 28a. [Earnings for a pot dealer?] HIGH COMMISSION.
  • 46a. [Earnings for a tailor?] VESTED INTEREST.
  • 60a. [Earnings for a soccer player?] KICK RETURN. Soccer/American football crossover.

Theme works, for my money.

  • 3d [Bratwurst and lap cheong, for teo] SAUSAGESLap cheong is the Cantonese term for a type of dried pork sausage.
  • 8d [Animal that wrestles and bugles during a rut] ELK. I thought this was a gimme, but wonder if it was confusing for others.
  • 39d [“Joining up with us?”] ARE YOU IN furnishes a third prominent ‘in’. Minor repetition, but I noticed it and found it a teensy bit distracting.
  • 55d [“Got it,” informally] M’KAY. This seems more apt to be a rhetorical query than an assertion. Right?
  • 48d [First in line, perhaps] SUCCESSION. I have no idea how last night’s much-anticipated Succession ended. Perhaps it was the oldest child who inherited the business. (In fact, I have seen no episodes of the show. Probably we should refrain from spoilers in the comments, m’kay?)
  • 16a [Thanos’ devastating finger click] SNAP. “Finger click” just seems weird to me, but it’s more or less accurate. I expect we all realize that the loud sound is actually produced by the impact of the (middle finger, digitus tertius) on the thenar muscle mass at the base of the thumb, even if the formal anatomical names are unfamiliar.
  • 35a [Place to find a drink and a date?] OASIS. Cute.
  • 50a [Line with end, in math] RAY. Geometry lessons flooding back.
  • 63a [Shadow that foreshadows something, perhaps] OMEN. Also cute, and also echoes 1-across [Fabulous fabulist] AESOP.
  • 67a [Designer Burch] TORY. Not to be confused with actress Thora Birch.

Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker puzzle–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution – 5/29/23 – Shechtman

I was barely awake when I started this puzzle shortly before midnight, so about all I have energy for is putting up my solution, grid.

Love the long fill, such as FRANKLY MY DEAR, BLACCENT, and OVERTON WINDOW. Shorter crossings rather less fun.

Did not know: [Brazilian novelist Clarice whose language is “crooked and clean,” per Grace Paley], LISPECTOR. Did you folks know her name?

2.75 stars from me.

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30 Responses to Monday, May 29, 2023

  1. El Gran Jugador says:

    To remember the spelling of “hypotenuse” in 7th grade we were advised to “use ten hypos”. There was no advice for isosceles however.

  2. David L says:

    I believe the idea in the NYT is that the themers are supposed to have the same final sound — except that HYPOTENUSE rhymes with ‘snooze’ while the others rhyme with ‘goose.’

    • Eric H says:

      According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “hypotenuse” ends either with an “oose” sound or a “yoose” sound.

      Merriam-Webster accepts the terminal Z sound (which I’ve never heard). But M-W is pretty loose about what it accepts.

      • David L says:

        Well, I’ll be darned. I’ve never heard or said it with anything but an ‘ooze’ sound, but Google has many examples of people saying it with a hard s. Looks like a UK/US distinction, although I find some British speakers using the hard s version.

        • Eric H says:

          I also learned today that some people spell hypotenuse with a TH. Who said crossword puzzles are not educational?

    • Sophomoric Old Guy says:

      Agree with your comment that themes end with the “oose” sounds as in goose. It’s more accurate than Sophia saying the middle sound of the second word in “ooh”. If it was “ooh” than the themes could end with a sound like “oon” as in balloon. Just saying.

  3. steve says:

    new yorker, natick alert!

    only a lucky guess could solve that crossing
    and i made that guess, but sheesh
    absurdly obscure

    other than that, an enjoyable solve

    • David L says:

      Do you mean 29D/49A? As it happens, I knew both of them, so not completely obscure.

      I found the puzzle Not Very Challenging, by Monday NYer standards.

      • steve says:

        wow, call me impressed!!

        i think i must have had read “belloc” at some point ’cause the “c” was what popped for me

        and, yes, the rest fell more quickly than many mondays

      • JohnH says:

        I knew them both, too. I started at bottom, and it seemed strangely easy for TNY, most especially on a Monday. But then I ground to a dead halt and felt lucky to finish.

        Lots of little things. I could see that LASER would fit but didn’t know that wax was a method of hair removal, surprised myself to discover I didn’t know the bubbly, and had wrong guesses for connections (I tried “dials up”), the OT (I tried “adonoi”), and the Summer beat (slowing my finding Skype). I’d forgotten that TISCH was at NYU.

        I still haven’t figured out the crossing of the wing construction and the Chinese city.

        • Eric H says:

          I assume that you have heard of waxing as a hair removal technique and just didn’t make the connection with the clue. It took me a few to get it.

          I resisted seeing “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” for a long time, but (spoiler alert) the waxing scene in that was pretty funny.

          • JohnH says:

            Nope, I meant it literally. I did not know about wax. But then what do I know about hair removal?

            • Eric H says:

              OK, though I find that a bit surprising. I see salons and similar places advertising waxing services all the time.

              The movie I mentioned is almost 20 years old, so waxing has been a thing for at least that long.

    • Eric H says:

      I almost put BELLOC without any crosses, but I don’t remember ever hearing of Clarice LISPECTOR. (And skimming her Wikipedia entry, I don’t recognize any of her novels.)

      I thought it was less challenging than many New Yorker Monday puzzles. I got off to a quick start with BORN YESTERDAY and a few other gimmes. Once I had the Clark Gable line, I was briefly perplexed trying to imagine what word begins with FB.

      My husband occasionally gets the HICCUPS. A good scare usually gets rid of them. Or maybe I just enjoy seeing him jump.

      • pannonica says:

        … and that was an instant get for me. “Brazilian” “novelist” “Clarice” and I didn’t bother with the rest of the clue.

    • Mark says:

      Naticks are unfortunately rather common in Monday/Tuesday New Yorker puzzles.

    • Milo says:

      Tons of obscurities — it wouldn’t be a Monday New Yorker puzzle without them — but I was more dismayed by that pile of partials that kept growing. I mean, really … IT IN, IN NO, BY A, and ONS, all in the same puzzle? Yeesh.

    • Mike says:

      Yes, 29D and 49A definitely forms a Natick. I thought the puzzle was relatively easy for a New Yorker Monday puzzle, but I was unable to fill in that one box because of the Natick.

  4. steve says:

    wow, color me impressed!!

    i think i must have had read “belloc” at some point ’cause the “c” was what popped for me

    and, yes, the rest fell more quickly than many mondays

  5. PJ says:

    LAT 50d Profit and loss figure – ASSET
    I don’t think of assets as being part of a P&L. I’d have them in the balance sheet

  6. huda says:

    NYT: I liked the theme and I too hesitated around both the spelling of hypotenuse and whether it should be a soft or hard s…
    The other thing that gave me pause was the clue for “TREND”, which was “One might be statistically significant”. At least in biological data analysis, when we say there is a TREND, it specifically means it’s not statistically significant (but almost?), that if we have a larger N, it may become significant (or disappear).
    Is this field-specific? Are TRENDs statistically significant in other disciplines?

    • sanfranman59 says:

      That clue seemed off to this retired statistician also. But the NYT seems notoriously imprecise with its clues for math and science concepts, so I’m not surprised.

    • PJ says:

      Most of my work was in business and economics. In a simple time series decomposition there are four things which impact the variable we are trying to predict. These components are the trend (T), a cyclical component (C), a seasonal influence (S), and random noise (I). We can build models that isolate the impacts of the first three terms. A hypothesis test evaluating the Trend coefficient could yield what is often called a statistically significant result.

      I’ll spare you my rant on the abuse of statistical significance.

    • JohnH says:

      Odd to me the reactions to “hypotenuse” since I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I heard it spoken of (and read it) in years of math class. I guess my high school and college teachers along with the dictionaries were in on the conspiracy hiding how David L and SanFran pronounce it. For me the rhyme was right in the puzzle, and surely it has zilch to do regardless with a cavalier treatment of science in the NYT. After all, they may be imprecise to some ears in science, but I don’t recall their ever just making something up out of thin air, certainly not a pronunciation or something taught starting in 8th grade.

      I perhaps undervalued the theme, since all I could see was that the themers rhymed, which wasn’t terribly clever. Seemed like endless more would have fit.

    • ZDL says:

      Very good article on the fallacy of the “trend towards significance” here:

      If you live by the p value, you die by the p value. A nuanced assessment of confidence intervals is usually more prudent.. or so say folks much smarter than me.

  7. Andy G says:

    I’ve only ever heard hypotenuse voiced as ending with the oose sound, like in the song from the movie Merry Andrew with Danny Kaye, in which he sang, The Square of the Hypotenuse.
    Andy G.

  8. Lester says:

    NYT: @ZDL, I hope you’re feeling well appreciated today. It was a fun puzzle, with lively theme answers.

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