Old coin in France / MON 2-26-24 / Greeting that originated on the Indian subcontinent / Extra-attentive coddling, for short / "Definitely husband material!"

Monday, February 26, 2024

Constructor: Joe Marquez

Relative difficulty: Medium (solved Downs-only)

THEME: "DRINKS ON ME!" (59A: "I'm paying for this round" ... or a literal hint to this puzzle's theme) — three different drinks (found in shaded squares inside longer answers) are each found atop the letters "ME" (found in circled squares):

Theme answers:
  • RIVER MOUTH (17A: Where silt builds up to create a delta) / RCA DOME (20A: Former stadium for the Indianapolis Colts)
  • TWIN-ENGINE (28A: Like many small, powerful airplanes) / BLAME (34A: Culpability)
  • "HE'S A KEEPER" (46A: "Definitely husband material!") / MELTS (49A: Oven-warmed sandwiches)
Word of the Day: NAMASTE (42D: Greeting that originated on the Indian subcontinent) —
Namaste (/ˈnʌməst/, Devanagari: नमस्ते), sometimes called namaskar and namaskaram, is a customary Hindu manner of respectfully greeting and honouring a person or group, used at any time of day. It is used in the Indian subcontinent, and among the Indian and Nepalese diasporaNamaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called añjali mudrā; the standing posture incorporating it is pranamasana. [...] The gesture of folding hands during a namaste is called the Añjali Mudrā. In addition to namaste, this mudrais one of the postures found in Indian classical dance such as Bharatanatyam, and in yoga practice. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this one was dead in the water for two reasons. The first, smaller reason is that "DRINKS ARE ON ME." That is the phrase. That is what you say, formally or informally. That is the complete sentence, and since the clue is a complete sentence—but more importantly because it's what you actually say—the answer should be "DRINKS ARE ON ME." Also, sidenote, if it was a "next round" situation, you wouldn't say "DRINKS (ARE) ON ME" at all, since the last ones weren't, and the next ones won't be. You'd just say something like "I got this round." Sigh. OK, so there's that. But the bigger issue, for me, the drinker, is that ... these are all wines. These aren't "drinks," they're a subcategory of "drinks," specifically wines. If you're going to do a "DRINKS (ARE) ON ME" theme, then mix your drinks up, for god's ... sake (!). Give me a BEER or a GIN or a SOJU or something! Yes, SAKE is rice wine, not grape wine, but ... bah, WINE is so weak as a "drink" here, given that the other two answers Are Also Wines. There's just not enough breadth to the drinks menu. Extremely disappointing. The whole "on ME" part of this theme is kind of cute, but ... make it "DRINKS ARE ON ME" and then lose the "VERMOUTH" answers and get yourself a drink from a different drink family. Something *not* "WINE," preferably. Those changes would've made this theme much more tolerable.

As a Downs-only solve, this one gave me a little resistance, but nothing I couldn't work through, eventually. The longer Downs all came relatively easily, and since those answers are often the killers in a Downs-only situation, I felt lucky. But I ended up having a little trouble with a couple of short side-by-side answers in fairly sequestered parts of the grid, specifically the answers that turned out to be AGOG / HOSE and LAUGH / ANGLE. I wanted EWER (!) for HOSE (13D: Alternative to a watering can), which tells you exactly how long I've been doing crosswords (A: too long). I also kinda wanted RAPT before AGOG (does anyone ever really want AGOG?) (12D: Breathless with excitement). As for the LAUGH / ANGLE part, I had to wait until I got the "HE" part of "HE'S A KEEPER" before I was able to get any purchase on either of them. I kinda wanted LAUGH, but was not at all sure (26D: Ha-ha-ha) ... until the "H" confirmed it. As for ANGLE, that was just hard without help from crosses (27D: Hidden motive). But with "HE" and then LAUGH, it wasn't too tough to pick up ANGLE. Since I know NAMASTE primarily as the word you frequently say at the close of yoga practice, the clue didn't help me too much at first (42D: Greeting that originated on the Indian subcontinent), but the SAKE / "ME" bit, plus SAFARI, gave me enough letters to get there. Only other issues were minor two-letter missteps: ECU for SOU (one of the crosswordesiest kealoas* you're ever likely to encounter) (7D: Old coin in France), and then BROKER (?) for BANKER (34D: Loan officer, e.g.).

"I KID YOU NOT!" is a fantastic bit of flair, liked it a lot (30D: "No joke!"). And as a standalone answer, I think "HE'S A KEEPER!" is pretty great as well. I wish there'd been more to love. And I love drinks! This theme should've worked on me! Ah well. Maybe next time. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*kealoa = a pair of words (normally short, common answers) that can be clued identically and that share at least one letter in common (in the same position). These are answers you can't just fill in quickly because two or more answers are viable, Even With One or More Letters In Place. From the classic [Mauna ___] KEA/LOA conundrum. See also, e.g. [Heaps] ATON/ALOT, ["Git!"] "SHOO"/"SCAT," etc.

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Mathematician Noether / SUN 2-25-24 / Ancient Greek area north of Thessaly / Color-blending technique / Slathered in sauce, in restaurant-speak / Knocking onomatopoeia / Natural decorations on some bookshelves / Home of the 123-story Lotte World Tower / Sorry ass?

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Constructor: Scott Hogan and Katie Hale

Relative difficulty: Very very easy

THEME: "Special Treatment" — familiar phrases imagined as health care puns :(

Theme answers:
  • 22A: I visited the cardiologist, who ... DIDN'T MISS A BEAT
  • 31A: I visited the dermatologist, who ... MADE A RASH DECISION
  • 47A: I visited a dentist and now I ... KNOW THE DRILL
  • 69A: I visited the anesthesiologist and now I've ... LOST MY TOUCH
  • 89A: I visited a sleep specialist, who ... GAVE ME THE NOD
  • 105A: I visited the radiologist, who ... SAW RIGHT THROUGH ME
  • 120A: I visited the podiatrist and now I ... STAND CORRECTED
Word of the Day: EMMY Noether (130A: Mathematician Noether) —
Amalie Emmy Noether (US/ˈnʌtər/UK/ˈnɜːtə/German: [ˈnøːtɐ]; 23 March 1882 – 14 April 1935) was a German mathematician who made many important contributions to abstract algebra. She proved Noether's first and second theorems, which are fundamental in mathematical physics. She was described by Pavel AlexandrovAlbert EinsteinJean DieudonnéHermann Weyl and Norbert Wiener as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. As one of the leading mathematicians of her time, she developed theories of ringsfields, and algebras. In physics, Noether's theorem explains the connection between symmetry and conservation laws. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow, this is so painfully corny. Why do people keep making these? I guess because Will keeps taking them. I absolutely Do Not Get It. These long pun stories, they're a time-honored tradition, but they seem like the biggest cop-out. Just a huge non-theme. Ordinary phrases linked by only the most preposterous imagined scenarios, which turn the ordinary phrases into puns of some kind. And the puns aren't even groaners. They're either completely weak (i.e. obvious), like DIDN'T MISS A BEAT, or they are borderline inscrutable, like GAVE ME THE NOD (are we calling sleep "THE NOD" now?), or they are completely made up—nobody but nobody ever "visited the anesthesiologist." That is not a doctor that you go to. That is a doctor that attends surgeries. I've only ever seen anesthesiologists at my actual damn procedures. I never "visited the anesthesiologist." And what, just to get some numbing drugs? What the hell? That makes no kind of sense. Plus, the idea that anesthesiologists make you lose "your touch," what? You go under. That is losing a lot more than your "touch." Then there's the fact that the themers change tense, and veer back and forth between the doctor doing things and the patient doing things. It's a mess. An old-fashioned, unambitious, uninspired mess. Completely baffling. 

And there's not nearly enough longer / interesting fill to make up for the cornball theme. In fact, there's hardly any. I'm looking around for literally any answer I was happy to see, and I can't find any. "YOU GAME?" OK, yes, that's pretty good; that, I approve. That's got something. But the rest of it ... it's not bad, but at best it's just ... there. Taking up space. The theme is all there is today, and the theme ... well, if it's your cup of tea, god bless you. I envy you. I was just hurrying through this thing, grateful that it was easy (so I could be done with it quickly). 

I don't know who this JENNA is (30A: Partner of Hoda on "Today") and I had trouble remembering and then spelling Linda COHN (started with COEN) (93D: "SportsCenter" anchor Linda), but other than that the only trouble I had with this puzzle came entirely in and around the worst of the themers: GAVE ME THE NOD (again, ?!?!?!). I'm on various social medias, and I don't really know what ADD is (86D: Button on social media). I "Like" you or I "Follow" you or I "Friend" you, maybe. ADD is ... weak and generic. So it didn't occur to me. The clue on WIENERS is actually really good (66D: Pack of dogs?) (i.e. hot dogs), but it was hard, and crossed the dumb themer I couldn't get, so it made that section harder. I don't know anyone who decorates their shelves with GEODES, so that was nowhere near the front of my mind as an answer for 77A: Natural decorations on some bookshelves. And for some reason [Have over] was a tough clue for HOST (for me). Oh, and the "GAME" part of "YOU GAME?" wasn't readily apparent to me either (59D: "We doin' this?"). So all along the length of GAVE ME THE NOD, I had issues. Elsewhere, zero issues. None. No resistance. Comically easy.

  • 1A: Favors (ASKS) — "Favors" here is a noun
  • 5A: Slathered in sauce, in restaurant-speak (WET) — I feel like this is specifically burrito-speak. Are there other speaks that apply?
  • 57A: Sorry ass? (EEYORE) — I kinda like this clue. He is a sorry ass. I don't so much like that "ass" is also a crucial component of another clue in the puzzle (110A: Rude ... or, without its first two letters, rude person (CRASS)). Feels like a dupe, even though "ass" doesn't technically appear a second time.
  • 96A: Professional who works a lot (VALET) — so, a car lot.
  • 37D: Behaved like the lion in Oz (
    COWERED) — I guess he does that. Some part of me doesn't like this answer because he's the "cowardly" lion, and ... COWERED is a homophone of "coward," which actually fits the lion better ... I dunno. It's legit, but it's rubbing me the wrong way. Like ... wrong "coward," man.
  • 67D: Man's name that becomes a distance if you move the first letter to the end (EMIL) — I am usually so bad at these "when you move a letter"-type clues, but damned if I didn't nail this one right out of the box. 
  • 95D: Knocking onomatopoeia (RAT-A-TAT) — got this off the "R," which isn't that impressive. I think I would've gotten it even without the "R"—it's the only "knocking onomatopoeia" I can think of.
  • 101D: Ancient Greek area north of Thessaly (THRACE) — I am aware of lots of ancient Greek names without being (very) aware of where any of them go on a map. Still, I was happy to piece this one together quickly.
  • 103D: Color-blending technique (OMBRÉ) — this is a hair-coloring technique, as I understand it. Where the hair shades from one color into another, often getting lighter toward the tips. I first learned of OMBRE (in crosswords) as an old-timey card game, like Euchre or Whist, whatever those are (I learned them from crosswords too, I think ... or else from the poetry of Alexander Pope, I forget ... yep, sure enough, they play OMBRE in Pope's "The Rape of the Lock"; weird the things you (kinda sorta) remember from sophomore-year British Literature).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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