Friday, May 31, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 5:55 (Amy) 


Universal 4:47 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Aidan Deshong’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5/31/24 – no. 0531

It felt like I was flying through this puzzle until I hit the skids on the lower left and finished in a distinctly Saturdayish amount of time.

Fave fill: CAPTCHA (I hate the blurry little photos, though!), GAMIFY (if you’re hooked on maintaining your puzzle streak, the gamifiers have got you in their grip), MANDARIN ORANGES, SPOILER ALERT, APERTURE, SERENADED (serenade is just a pretty word), FIENDING.

This winter, I found a new favorite in the MANDARIN ORANGES family, the Sumo orange. I’m much aggrieved that Sumo season ended in April, but at least cherry season has arrived to occupy me. Look for Sumos next January!

Three more things:

  • 41a. [Designer of Dallas’s Meyerson Symphony Center], PEI. You needn’t know the buildings that I.M. Pei has designed. If you’re looking for an architect and the answer has three letters, it’s gonna be PEI about 99% of the time. He’s the Oreo of architects.
  • 4d. [Dessert that rarely lives up to its name], TART. The lemon tart would like to have a word with the crossword editor.
  • 16d. [Ones dealing with joint inflammation?], STONERS. I don’t care for this clue because lighting a joint doesn’t involve “inflammation.”

Four stars from me.

Michèle Govier’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 5/31/24 • Fri • Govier • solution • 20240531

  • 73aR [Double birdie, which can also be found at 17-, 31-, 48-, and 62-Across?] EAGLE, which is two strokes under par in golf. Each of the answers to the nonsensical clues consists of two kinds of birds.
  • 17a. [Ingest lather while getting one’s mouth washed out with soap?] SWALLOW DOVE.
  • 31a. [Loudly promote trips to Istanbul?] HAWK TURKEY. This was my first theme entry completed, and the thought was that it was a swapping of turkey hawk—but it turns out that there’s no such thing. I must have been conflating chicken hawk and turkey buzzard.
  • 48a. [Successfully elude director Scorsese?] DUCK MARTIN. Not to be confused with the shoemaker Doc Martens.
  • 62a. [Say “Holy nightmare, Batman”?] PARROT ROBIN.

These are … mildly amusing?

  • 4d [Sticky treat, in more ways than one] LOLLIPOP. Because it’s on a stick, you see.
  • 7d [Word with tight or loose] END. Had it been four letters, then probably HANG.
  • 22d [Sonata, for one] CAR. Rather generic.
  • 27d [Number of hearts for a Time Lord] TWO. I reasoned that ONE wouldn’t be special, and SIX or TEN seemed excessive.
  • 39d [Argentine soccer legend dubbed “El Pibe de Oro”] MARADONA. Google Translate tells me it means the Golden Boy. 41d [Spanish boy] NIÑO.
  • 65d [Flu or fly] BUG>wince<
  • 1a [Birthstones for some Scorpios] OPALS. Predominantly Libras, though.
  • 29a [Seed coating] ARIL, such as the edible parts of a pomegranate.
  • 43a [Luster] SHEEN, directly above the MARTIN component of 48-across.
  • 57a [Late sign] PISCES. Why “late”? I just checked to see that the calendar dates are from 19 February to 20 March.

Jeffrey Martinovic and Will Nediger’s Universal crossword, “Double Takes”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that end in S but if the S was removed, these answers become something else entirely. Clues allude to both forms of the terms.

Universal crossword solution · “Double Takes” · Jeffrey Martinovic and Will Nediger · Fri., 5.31.24

  • 18a. [Plural of “used”? No, “clock tickers”!] SECOND HANDS. Secondhand.
  • 24a. [Plural of “in sum”? No, “trousers with straps”!] OVERALLS. Overall.
  • 37a. [Plural of “fuming”? No, “hallucinate”!] SEE THINGS. Seething.
  • 55a. [Plural of “music that may be jangly”? No, “fizzing candy”!] POP ROCKS. Pop rock.
  • 61a. [Plural of “critically helpful”? No, “nest egg”!] LIFE SAVINGS. Life-saving.

Hmm. I couldn’t get on the right wavelength for the “plural” portions of the clues, so once I got the first answer and realized I could solve the entries by just looking at the latter halves of the clues, I ignored the first parts. Unlike some other languages, English doesn’t have plural forms of adjectives, so I found trying to pluralize “critically helpful” (for example) to be somewhat goofy. I’m not sure of a better way to word the clues, however.

That 9-letter central theme answers bisects the grid, so we have stacks of 7s in the corners in lieu of longer, sparklier fill, but I do like TAILFIN, POKEMON, and ENDGAME.

Clues of note:

  • 69a. [It might be offered for your thoughts, even though your thoughts are your two cents]. PENNY. Ha! What a ripoff!
  • 11d. [Ones without a claim to fame]. NO-NAMES. I think this would’ve been more fun with a clue like [“Keep our identities a secret”] or [Stipulation from a leak].

I like the wordplay in the theme, but the clues were more confusing than quirky. 3.25 stars.

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33 Responses to Friday, May 31, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Same experience as Amy- sailing through it until I hit a wall (just multiply the time by about a factor of 3). Although not knowing ALONSO slowed me down in the NE.
    Amy’s comments about PEI cracked me up. But the main gimme me in the SW was APERTURE. I wanted Nunnery instead of Nunhood, but couldn’t think of a hospital worker who started with Y. MDS and RNS were a bust until DRS imposed themselves.
    The clue: “I know, I know” did not elicit an “OH OH” response from me (still doesn’t ring true). And I had to hear my son-in-law talking in my head to come up with DOPE in response to Sick…
    Nevertheless, I enjoyed the puzzle and the cluing. Lots of great stuff in there.

    • dh says:

      +1 on “OH OH”. I’ve seen it often enough to consider it a gimme, but when I was anxiously throwing up my arm in grade school, it was always “OOH OOH” (like THAT ever happened!)

    • Jose Madre says:

      Interesting to hear different tough spots for different solvers. I blew through the puzzle and was thinking maybe record time until I hit the SE corner. No gimmes for me there and was relieved when the Congratulations message appeared on my last letter. Fun and challenging puzzle. Cool that it appears to challenge everyone a little differently.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: I was going to say that I didn’t find the SW corner particularly trickier than the rest of the grid (which I sped through in a Tuesday-ish time). But then I remembered getting hung up with 39D, where NO IT isn’T wasn’t playing nice with 38D APERTURE.

    I enjoyed the puzzle. Many of the entries felt very fresh.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but it seems like two-thirds of the CAPTCHAs I see make me identify motorcycles. I get really tired of the traffic CAPTCHAs; whatever happened to the ones where you had to identify house numbers that were in all sorts of weird fonts?

    • JohnH says:

      I get asked traffic stuff, but not just motorcycles. Cars, bicycles, buses, bridges, say.

      I enjoyed the puzzle, too. At first it looked ever so daunting, and I had trouble finding a foothold. Didn’t help that I tried “pursue” for PREFER and “nunnery” for NUNHOOD (a bit awkward). I thought the fruit in the center had to be something like oranges, and the break came with MS PAINT, which gave me MANDARIN ORANGES. Where grids with a big, white stacked center usually challenge me to find my way into that, here it was the reverse, finding my way from the center to any of four corners.

      I do not believe, ever, in labeling clues about things I like fave fill. But I’ll say that I fell victim to my age, but also some lively vocabulary rather than celebrity fill: UBERIZE, FIENDISH, GAMIFY, OHOH, DOPE. But in the process I became an admirer. Oh, and agreed that a 3-letter architect is bound to be PEI, just as three-letter music is from ONO, ENO, or ELO and a fourth letter calls for ACDC.

    • Gary R says:

      I enjoyed the puzzle, too. It was maybe a little faster solve for me than the typical Friday. Helped that there were several long-ish answers that went in without crosses: CAPTCHA, ONESIES, MANDARIN ORANGES, SPOILER ALERT, TROOPER and SYNERGY. Gave me something to work with in all parts of the grid when I started looking at the downs.

      I’m another of those who decided to try “nunnery” before NUNHOOD. And, after further consideration, I don’t think “nunnery” fits very well. I don’t hear NUNHOOD very often, but it parallels “priesthood” as a collective term.

      A former colleague, who is usually knowledgeable about tech stuff, once told me that those old “house number” captchas were something Google was using to improve the information in Google Maps (I didn’t understand how that was supposed to work).

      I wonder how sites that use these “pictures with bicycles” captchas accommodate visually impaired users. With the letters/numbers ones, you can ask for an audio version – don’t know how you do that with bicycle pictures.

  3. Cyberdiva says:

    NYT – @Huda, I think a likely setting for “I know, I know” is a classroom where a student who knows the answer is eagerly raising her hand while saying “OH, OH” as in “Oh, oh, I know the answer, please call on me!”

  4. Me says:

    NOITSNOT crossing ITSODD at the ITS makes me cringe, because it seems that shouldn’t be necessary in a themeless under any circumstance. I know the NYT team doesn’t seem to care about dupes, but dupes crossing each other is a different matter in my head (although apparently not in theirs). Especially ITS, which, unlike something like THE, is not exactly challenging to avoid, and ITSODD is not exactly a phrase in the language that springs to mind immediately when thinking of a crossword answer. The answer might as well be ITSGREENPAINT.

    On an extremely nitpicking and possibly misguided note, I don’t love the clue for SERENADED as referring to opera fans. Although it is used more loosely, a serenade is supposed to be a specific type of musical piece, and I guess I would think that the person being SERENDADED is the object of the singer’s affection, and not the audience member watching on stage. I know it’s not used that way all the time, but referring to opera rather than something like a solo violinist at a romantic restaurant made me quite confused (although the confusion may be entirely in my head and not in anyone else’s! I’m not a musicologist). I certainly don’t think the clue is “wrong,” just not as crisp as it could be ideally.

    • agate says:

      For “serenaded,” I think the “lovers” of the clue refers to characters in the opera rather than fans of the opera.

      • Me says:

        Yes, absolutely, you and Lois are right! That clue misled me right into a nitpick that was completely off-base! Thank you for pointing out the right path!

    • Aidan Deshong says:

      I was also surprised that the NYT team wanted to use that SW, because of the ITS dupe

    • Lois says:

      I think SERENADED is a cute tricky answer for us. “Opera lovers” here seems as though it means the audience, but it doesn’t. The lovers are the characters in the opera, often serenaded outside their windows from the street below.

      • Me says:

        Lois, thank you, absolutely correct! And I was absolutely wrong! A cute tricky clue that I completely fell for! Thank you for pointing out my error in such a gentle way!

  5. Sarah says:

    I felt like this one was, well, odd. Venus is a god! And tarts are tart as often as not! For operation you need a steady hand, which is different than being “steady,” I’ve only ever heard nunhood referring to a single nun’s state of being, “no it’s not” and “it’s odd” really shouldn’t cross, how does one inflame a joint??, gamify means turning something into a game — not make an existing game more fun/addictive… Oy, what a mess (and am I the only one who assumes “oy” indicates Yiddish?)

    Finished fairly fast and didn’t need to look anything up, but I was saying “wait, what, that’s really it??” with at least half the answers.

  6. David L says:

    I sailed through the left hand half of the NYT and slowed down in the right, but finished in a more or less usual Friday time. Never heard FIENDING as a verb, and didn’t understand the clue for STONERS or SPARE (I went bowling once, a long time ago, and couldn’t understand how to score the game despite patient instruction).

    I guess the clue for 8D implies that Venus is a goddess, not a GOD, but collectively all those old characters are gods, so the clue seems off to me.

  7. Mutman says:

    NYT: as one in IT for a long time, don’t ask me why I had DATADIVE instead of DATAMINE. (Didn’t realize horseshoes had INNINGS. I just thought they were TURNS).

  8. Squidley Juan says:

    Universal: I like to do the universal as a warm-up to loosen the fingers.

    55-D? Is this serious? If we don’t know what a prime number is, shouldn’t we look it up before publishing it?

    • PJ says:

      It’s one number – 12,345,678,910,987,654,321. It is a prime number

      • Katie says:

        Talk about “fun fact”…
        That’s – such a fun PRIME number to know about, and – it’s going to be VERY rare to find another (of the same sort of form, i.e., a-b-c-….c-b-a, with base 10 sub-parts).

  9. Mike from Milwaukee says:

    NYT: as a small nuance, do NOT turn on your brights in haze/fog. Disaster waiting to happen.

  10. marciem says:

    LAT: “7a [Late sign] PISCES. Why “late”? ‘

    Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac. That’s my guess at the meaning of “late”.

    • pannonica says:

      I did not know this, thank you.

      • marciem says:

        Aries is the first because the vernal equinox stands for rebirth and renewal. Pisces is just before Aries, making it last on the charts. (I had to look it up to know WHY Aries came first.)

        • MarkAbe says:

          Thanks again. That was my last entry and I still don’t think “late” and “last” are synonyms.

  11. dh says:

    I had a lot of raised eyebrows on the NYT as well. Agree with Amy about the tart, though I was thinking about cherry. I’m sure my aging memory is the culprit here, but I don’t recall ever seeing “PEI” in a crossword without the “IM” in front. And as for the joint inflammation – there’s almost a double meaning here (though poorly presented if true); one of the more popular nontraditional remedies for arthritis is medical cannabis.

    Two other comments:

    “Gamification” may indeed be adding the streak elements to online games, but I think the term refers more to adding game theory or mechanics or other competitive aspects to everyday activities in order to make them more challenging or interesting. Sometimes in classes where a lot of memorization is required, the content can be gamified into a “Jeopardy”-like contest, for example. “Last one in is a rotten egg!” is a way to gamify something like getting into a pool with cold water.

    Finally – does anyone else think that the plural “ETHERS” is a good entry?

    • Eric H says:

      In just the NYT puzzles, PEI has appeared without his first and middle initials many times.

      I’m too lazy to separate the entries that refer to the architect from those that refer to Prince Edward Island.

      I rolled my eyes a bit at ETHERS, too. I’m no chemist, but if I had to guess, I would have said that there is one compound called ETHER, and whatever a related compound is, it’s not ETHER.

      But that’s where dictionaries can teach you something. My dictionary defines ETHER as
      any of a class of organic compounds.

      On the other other hand, my dictionary implies that there is one form of ETHER that was formerly used as an anesthetic. Which brings me back to be less than thrilled with that answer.

      • Martin says:

        Yes, “ether” here means diethyl ether. But it’s a crossworld rule that any noun may be pluralized. The usual justification is something like, “our vendor selection involved testing five ethers for purity.”

        But as you note, “ether” is a class of organic compounds. Several anesthetics, like servoflurane and isoflurane, are ethers, so this clue has an alternate justification.

        • Eric H says:

          Thanks for an informative as always reply.

          I’m still not crazy about the answer, but it didn’t detract from the rest of the puzzle.

    • Martin says:

      Is ETHERS a good entry? It’s absolutely a valid word. “Does it have a good clue?” would be a more reasonable question.

      As I note above, there are multiple justifications for it being a correct clue. Whether it’s good is subjective. There are many uncontroversial clues for ETHERS. “Compounds with an oxygen atom bonded to two organyl groups” is one. Is that a better clue? It’s a gimme for chemists but probably not so much for the typical solver.

  12. Ethan says:

    i thought the stoners clue was a nice pun on “inflammation” as being to “in-flame” the joint

Comments are closed.