Friday, July 5, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:26 (Amy) 


Universal 5:16 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Erik Agard’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 7/5/24 • Fri • Agard • solution • 20240705

A 16×15 grid today.

  • 59aR [Basic structure, or what a 19-, 24-, 40- and 52-Across do?] FRAMEWORK, parsed as frame-work. The theme answers are professions involving various senses of the word frame.
  • 19a. [Athlete making a living in alleys] PRO BOWLER. Division of a match.
  • 24a. [Professional who calls the shots] MOVIE DIRECTOR. A still image from a film.
  • 40a. [Professional whose website might have a contact page?] OPTICIAN. Eyeglasses.
  • 52a. [Met someone?] MUSEUM CURATOR. Picture enclosure. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  • 3d [Largest U.S. union] NEA. Y’know, teachers.
  • 4d [Poet Mahmoud who wrote the Palestinian Declaration of Independence] DARWISH. Fortunately I remembered this from another recent crossword; perhaps it was also by Agard?
  • 5d [Hot shots?] ESPRESSOS. That works.
  • 7d [Post production] PAPER. Newspaper, as in, for instance, the Washington Post.
  • 10d [Letters before Q?] TAB. Just to the left on a QWERTY keyboard.
  • 13d [“I May Destroy You” star Michaela] COEL. New to me.
  • 24d [Half a “Lion King” phrase] MATATA. “Hakuna Matata” has filtered down even to me, so I knew this and provisionally filled in the first and final As.
  • 34d [Common allergen] DANDER, not POLLEN.
  • 42d [Use a fork, say] TUNE. Sneaky.
  • 55d [Prefix with pessimist or Panamanian] AFRO-. I’d not heard of AFRO-pessimism.
  • 60d [“Impressive!”] WOW.
  • 66d [One who might have a ram beau] EWE>groan<
  • 15a [Disquietude] UNEASE. Had UNREST for a hot moment, but it didn’t sit well with me.
  • 17a [Stench] ODOR. You know this is one of my pet peeves, and it was just brought up again recently in the comments.
  • 21a [Do some character-building?] WRITE. The double-entendre must be intentional.
  • 23a [Is stunned] REELS, just before 24a MOVIE DIRECTOR.
  • 36a [Coffee Meets Bagel alternative] HINGE. I … don’t know what any of this means, although I can see that CMB is the title of something. Going to guess, dating apps.
  • 49a [Tabletop game with campaigns, for short] DND. I’ve principally seen it as D&D, but there’s plenty of support for the version here. Odd that it doesn’t appear in crosswords more often!

A decent workout and a tight theme.

Brian Callahan and Geoffrey Schorkopf’s Universal crossword, “Hidden Talent”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that hide the names of iconic athletes. The revealer is HAS A GO AT (41d, [Attempts … or, when read differently, contains a sports legend?]). The re-parsing is HAS A G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time).

Universal crossword solution · “Hidden Talent” · Brian Callahan and Geoffrey Schorkopf · Fri., 7.5.24

  • 23a. [*Reject someone on a dating app (In this answer, note letters 4-7)] SWIPE LEFT.
  • 28d. [*Something viewed in a smartphone’s web browser (… letters 3-7)] MOBILE SITE.
  • 31d. [*Mexican professional wrestling (… letters 5-7)] LUCHA LIBRE.

Good title, strong theme set, and a solid hidden-name theme. But for me, there was just too much awkwardness, starting with the revealer. HAS A GO AT is just an awkward phrase, let alone to have as the basis for your theme. The re-parsed phrase (HAS A GOAT) isn’t much better, and the same goes for “contains a sports legend.” I know it’s meant to be literal, but I can’t help but think these athletes are legends because they weren’t contained (metaphorically). Lastly, though not a fault of the puzzle but the venue, we have the return of the awkward parenthetical letter counting. Thankfully, we could ignore this last issue if we have circles in our grid.

Aside from my nits, it’s a good grid with highlights DRUM SET, UP VOTES, SHANG CHI, and “ANSWER ME!” I’ve never heard “NO SHADE” [“I don’t mean to offend you …”], but then I’m old, and it was inferable anyway.

Clues of note:

  • 22a. [Number of spaces on a Monopoly board]. FORTY. Is this a widely-known bit of trivia? I could only guess.
  • 9d. [US Open champ Coco]. GAUFF. This morning at Wimbledon, she’ll be facing Brit Sonay Kartal who will no doubt be a favorite of the locals (though GAUFF is heavily-favored to win).

Nice grid and a good theme, though I had issues with the revealer. 3.25 stars.

Trent Evans’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/5/24 – no. 0705

Whoops, last night it really felt like a Saturday or Sunday, so I entirely spaced on blogging. Thanks to pannonica for getting the main post up this morning, late but not as late as if it had been left entirely to me.

Fairly breezy Friday puzzle this week. Lots to like in the grid: TRUST FALL, SOCIAL CUE, SMASH HIT, “A LITTLE HELP HERE?”, REN FAIRE, HAILSTORM (we’ve had a few in the Chicago area of late but they haven’t pelted my car), “SRSLY,” SOLAR POWER, PRIDE FLAGS (I’m lucky to live in an area where these don’t all vanish after the month of June), TABBY CAT (I’d like to see a tabby dog, please), PSYCHS UP, “HEH HEH” (nb: not “he he”), NO-BRAINERS. I’m unsure if I like “I NEED TO RUN.”

Three clues:

  • 44a. [Burn letters?], SPF. I’m not very familiar with the term burn letter, and I’m not wild about tying SPF to sunburns. I’d fry with an SPF of 8, but there’s nothing in the clue pointing at low SPFs increasing risk of sunburn. SPF 50 and burn? Those don’t go together.
  • 20a. [Historical region of France that lent its name to a food], BRIE. Never gave the slightest thought to where the cheese got its name, but I suppose many cheeses are named for their places of origin. (Apparently mozzarella and feta have etymologies involving cutting, though.)
  • 29d. [Bill with the 2024 book “What This Comedian Said Will Shock You], MAHER. I’m not a fan of Maher, but Martin Short has revived his Jiminy Glick celebrity interviewer character, and he “interviewed” Maher a couple weeks back. That was funny, but even more hilarious was Jiminy interviewing Bill Hader (below). I do not know if he’s done other BILL *A*ER comedians, though.

Four stars from me.

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25 Responses to Friday, July 5, 2024

  1. Dallas says:

    NYT: Surprisingly fast fill for me today; half of my average Friday time. Had TSAR right off the bat, and was a bit unsure on LENIN at first. The NW filled in very quickly, with NW last to complete. I liked the clue for SOLAR POWER and seeing PRIDE FLAGS. “Devious snicker” made me immediately think of HEH HEH (like with HAR HAR a few days ago) but I wasn’t sure till I got more crossings. Really smooth Friday, and my 600th puzzle in my streak.

    • David L says:

      Fast for me too, but a very elegant puzzle. The NW was slowest, but that turned out to be because I had a silly typo that I didn’t register (or realize, if you prefer) until late in the game.

      • JohnH says:

        I found the NW by far the hardest, and indeed everything for me seemed to go wrong there after an otherwise perfectly normal Friday. I had “sale” for billable item, didn’t know the two singers (well, I have heard of SIA but not MYA), and wasn’t familiar with the two top across entries as well. Ouch.

        Much else is quite interesting. I could swear I hadn’t seen 0! assigned a meaning before, so I’m eager to look up how it works out.

        • JohnH says:

          Ah, it really is interesting how it works out. At some level, it amounts to simply true by definition, but the definition, otherwise unique to 0 and arbitrary, can be motivated as an interpretation of factorials more generally in terms of combinatorics. This has never occurred to me, partly because it wasn’t taught to me, partly because I never did study combinatorics much.

          The idea is to interpret something familiar like 3! as not just 3 x 2 x 1, but also as the number of ways you can carry out that multiplication. Thus 1! is just 1, and there’s only one way to get there, but 2! = 2 x 1 can also be carried out as 1 x 2, so sure enough 2 = 2 x 1 ways. 3! = 3 x 2 x 1 can also be carried out as 3 x 1 x 2, 2 x 3 x 1, 1 x 2 x 3, and so on. In other words, it means asking how many ways you can carry out that multiplication and then seeing that, sure enough, the answer is 3!.

          Another pattern also occurred to me, although I didn’t see it in my hasty search online. 4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1, which just happens by definition to be 4 x 3!. In turn 3! = 3 x 2!, and 2! = 2 x 1!. So it’s not totally insane to then ask that 1! = 1 x 0!, and we’re done.

          • Martin says:

            Except that makes 0! = 0 x 1! or zero.

            Another way it’s explained is that 0! is the number of ways to permute or arrange the empty set. It’s said that there is one way: you can’t. But wouldn’t zero be a good answer for “the number of ways you can arrange the empty set”?

            All of which gets us to the real explanation of why 0! is one. It’s defined that way.

            • Ned says:

              No it would make 0! = 0 * (-1)!
              i.e. (-1)! = 1 /0 , which shows that (-1)! must be undefined.

            • Martin says:

              That too.

            • JohnH says:

              I think Ned has it regarding my pattern. As for the first objection, clearly all those who do speak in terms of permutations in explaining it disagree, and I sympathize with them. I imagine they’d replay that Martin is wrong to take the set containing 0 (an integer) for the empty set.

            • Martin says:

              Sorry if I confused you. 0! is the number of ways to arrange the empty set. (1! is the number of ways to arrange a set with a single member — 1 way; 2! is the number of ways to arrange a set with 2 members — 2 ways; 3! is the number of ways to arrange a set with three members — 6 ways [xyz], [xzy], [yxz], [yzx], [zxy], [zyx]). It has nothing to do with a set containing 0.

    • Gary R says:

      Didn’t seem that easy to me, but it was pretty late in the evening, after a July 4 cookout, so that might have something to do with it. Can’t point to anything that was particularly hard/tricky. I always want another “U” instead of the third “A” in AD NAUSEAM, and I think I went with “hee hee” instead of HEH HEH initially. Two or three names I didn’t know – but crosses were reasonable. Overall, a good Friday puzzle.

      • Eric H. says:

        I’ve misspelled AD NAUSEAM so many times now that I have finally internalized the correct spelling.

      • marciem says:

        Fortunately, I had already dropped in the down ERAT, or I would have misspelled ad nauseam also… I never even saw it until you brought it up, and I know I’ve probably never spelled it correctly :( . I will from now on, if I ever write it.

        I found this a perfectly fine Friday puzzle, enough to give me some work, but all the crosses fair. I did stick with Solar Panel for too long.

        OH… except I have no idea how 0! = one … I got it only from crosses.

        • Eric H. says:

          I haven’t looked it up myself, but from the comments on Wordplay, I gather that ONE is the factorial of zero, with factorials being denoted by the exclamation point. Wikipedia says the “convention for an empty product” gives zero a factorial of one.

          Like a lot of mathematical concepts, I vaguely remember learning about factorials in elementary school or junior high. And like a lot of mathematical concepts, I don’t want to invest too much intellectual effort into regaining my understanding.

        • PJ says:

          It’s a math term. 0! is read as zero factorial. For positive integers, n! = n*(n-1)*(n-2)*…*2*1. That makes 4!=4*3*2*1=24.

          By definition 0!=1. In my area that definition was used in certain probability distributions.

          • marciem says:

            Thx, PJ :) . I see above they got into a pretty deep discussion about it, which went way over my head LOL!

  2. Libby says:

    The NYT link for today July 5 is broken. Please fix.

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: 20a BRIE. Here is one of my favorite photographs, taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson

    source: MoMA

    • Sebastian says:

      Mmm, BRIE. Stunning image, pannonica, thanks for sharing.

      I was also chuffed to encounter the second TABBY in a puzzle this week. Stripes for the win!

  4. Katie says:

    LAT: seemingly a tough crowd (on the ratings), as usual, huh?

    “A decent workout and a tight theme,” per pannonica. Agreed. (If you wanna do it b4 spoilers, this is your chance. I’ll wait..)

    And speaking of a decent workout, clues for 37-Down [Marathon need = ENDURANCE] and 55-Across [Post-workout affliction = ACHES] definitely had me picturing the constructor as an avid runner here… ;-)

    My only disappointment was “walking in” to SUNDER (on 1A? really?). The whole NW was just an “I’ll be back” deal for me, which is fine. And actually, hey, “sunder” is fine (I know the word but just had never had reason to use it… “asunder” seems more familiar) – although maybe not for nyt (noting its absence, per xwordinfo). Terrific puzzle. Also, as mentioned recently, learning new words is not a bad thing, too:

    Anyway, this shouts out to two recent meta-themes here, on crosswordfiend:

    (1) Does 1A really “set the tone” for you, as a solver? (Or not?) See recent thread:

    (2) ODOR = foul-smelling odor? M-W doesn’t think so… ODOROUS can mean MALODOROUS, but ODOR is just odor, right?

  5. Martin says:

    If you click the “Synonyms” link on the m-w page you reference, you’ll find stench, foulness, fetor, fetidness, malodor, rankness, funk, rancidity, gaminess, stink, reek and noisomeness as synonyms for odor as scent. It is odd that the definition doesn’t include a sense for offensive scent. Some dictionaries do.

    I agree it’s a bit of a crossword cliché that odors are bad and aromas are nice, though.

  6. Brenda Rose says:

    I’m not counting but I think this the 2946th sour grapes review by Jim.

  7. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: 66D cracked me up. “One who might have a ram beau”, answer is “ewe”. Keep those puns coming!

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