Puppet lady of Mister Rogers Neighborhood / WED 4-29-15 / Limey's drink / Rose song from Music Man / Bear's Wall Street partner / Excels over in slang / Mixing male female characteristics slangily / Dead: prefix

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Constructor: Daniel Landman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: POLYGON (39A: ELK, EARL, LEAK or GEAR, geometrically) each circled (or otherwise marked) letter in the grid is a VERTEX (or point where two lines converge) in a different kind of POLYGON. Connecting the letters in the the different words in the POLYGON clue will get you different POLYGONs. Which POLYGONs, you ask? Here you go:

Theme answers:
  • RIGHT TRIANGLE (20A: ELK, geometrically, in the finished puzzle)
  • TRAPEZOID (28A: EARL, geometrically)
  • RECTANGLE (48A: LEAK, geometrically)
  • PARALLELOGRAM (58A: GEAR, geometrically)
Word of the Day: VERTEX (52D: What each of this puzzle's circled squares represents) —
  1. 1
    the highest point; the top or apex.
    "a line drawn from the vertex of the figure to the base"
  2. 2
    each angular point of a polygon, polyhedron, or other figure.
• • •

There's a reason I don't do sudoku. Nobody cares about where the 1or the 8 or the 6 goes in any given section. There's no meaning there. There's nothing to say. In fact, the numbers don't even have to be numbers. My daughter had some version called colorku (kolorku?) where marbles were nine different colors. Same idea. My point is that ELK and EARL and LEAK and GEAR are arbitrary arrangements of letters. The meanings of those words are irrelevant (though it is relevant, I think, that they are words—that adds at least one layer of difficulty / elegance to the whole endeavor). In the end, shapes. Geometry. I like geometry fine. But there's no meaning her. No (real) wordplay. And so if you like drawing on your grid, or are really turned on by shapes, then there's pleasure here for you. Otherwise, the theme is a kind of irrelevance. I never did anything with the finished grid, and just inferred the various shapes base on pattern recognition once I got a few crosses. Theme was more distraction to me than an interesting, intrinsic part of the solving experience. But here, look—in the native NYT app, apparently you can make a pretty picture like this:

[screenshot courtesy of S. O'Neill]

I feel like this puzzle is the prettier cousin of yesterday's puzzle. Or handsomer. Or smarter if those other comparative adjectives are somehow too superficial or demeaning to you. No, I'm going back to prettier. Fill is less constrained by demands of the theme, so there are fewer outright painful moments. But there's not a ton of excitement in the fill either, and with a kinda-just-lies-there theme with straightforward answers, the fun factor was on the lowish side for me today. Uncharacteristically, I think my favorite part was the NW, i.e. the first bit I filled in. I'm lukewarm on ANDRO-, and ACHS is the worst thing in the grid, but the rest of that section, over to FERRET and down to MOAN, is all pretty solid and even unusual in places (from COOING ON A DATE to drinking GROG in a HANGAR in SHAHDOM). Toughest part for me was LIDA. I don't know my "Music Man" songs that well, I guess.  Needed every cross. I also stumbled a bit in the SW, where BACKACHE preceded BACK PAIN, causing problems and even briefly making me reconsider how I was spelling Bear STEARNS. But I had the good sense to pull ACHE out pretty quickly, so damage down there was minimal. A curious puzzle that, for me, was (like all 2D geometrical figures) flat. I give it a B FLAT. Because it be flat.

    Good night.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


    Unknown 12:07 AM  

    To each their own, but gimmicks like this in a puzzle mean nothing to me. I would much rather have a nice, normal, gimmick-free puzzle with fresh, interesting fill than have this type of silly "shape" theme, or yesterdays "square root" theme. True, nothing was necessarily bad about this puzzle but nothing stood out. I think I'd rather see quality, well constructed puzzles with great fill rather than sacrifice fill for a theme that adds little or nothing to the solving experience.

    jae 12:07 AM  

    Medium for me.  Clever theme with no erasures or WOEs.  Xwordinfo has a great visual of the completed puzzle.   Daniel admits to less than scintillating fill, but the theme is what puts this in the liked it column.

    That said SHAHDOM?

    Steve J 12:15 AM  

    Wow, I let this totally fly over my head. It got the first couple shapes early but had no idea what the letters referenced in the clues related to, so my brain decided that it was referring to a telephone keypad. I didn't bother to look what shapes were formed when connecting those keys, nor did I try to picture it in my mind. So, when I finally filled in 52D, I had no idea how those circles were each a VERTEX. It took looking at the grid art illustration at xwordinfo.com for the light bulb to click on.

    It's nicely done, as far as this sort of thing goes. Doesn't personally grab me, but it was well-executed and I'm sure there are many who will love it. Fill was decent if not scintillating. Cluing was rather flat. Would have been nice to spice things up a bit there, since there are going to be limits on the excitement the fill can bring with this sort of puzzle.

    @jae: Agreed, SHAHDOM was a WTF moment. I resisted it for a while because I thought there was no way that could possibly be right.

    Zeke 12:22 AM  

    What's the problem with SHAHDOM, it's just the domain (DOM) of the SHAH. Like Kingdom, Earldom, or as we have in Washington DC, the Dumbdom.

    RAD2626 12:25 AM  

    Enjoyed the puzzle but thought it was pretty hard. SE Very slow: LADE, LIDA, LEANT do not jump off the page and OTIC and NENA were made harder by my not knowing what a VERTEX was. Got all the shapes but DOGGONE if the revealer was a WOE.

    Clark 1:11 AM  

    @Zeke -

    The "dom" of kingdom and the "dom" of domain are completely unrelated etymologically. The former is from Old English dom, which comes from Proto-Germanic *dōmaz; the latter is from Latin dominium, dominus, domus. But you were probably just joshing us.

    AliasZ 1:24 AM  

    This went down super easy for me. Solving on line gave me no feel for the POLYGONs, nor did I care that much. The ELK, EARL, LEAK and GEAR added nothing to make my solving any more interesting than without them. In fact, I totally ignored the "art", I just considered the theme as random geometric shape names. I still consider it a decent Wednesday puzzle even without the graphics.

    We shouldn't ignore the fact that the connected letters did create a certain added constraint, however three-four randomly placed letters that form words are relatively easy to find in any puzzle, which, when connected, give you 2D shapes from a triangle to trapezoid and rhombus, and their multitudes of varieties.

    If you go up to five- or six-letter words, you may up the ante to pentagons or hexagons and so on. So who cares? Me, not that much. If however these words spelled out something meta, then maybe.

    In none-theme news, I would like to FERRET out if SHAHDOM is at least as legitimate as pharaohdom is. Or khandom.

    I hesitated entering ODDER for "Quirkier" because it is rather uncommon to see the comparative -er in both the clue and the answer. The comparative in the clue is usually "more", "not as", "less" or some such. Is this an outright error?

    I liked the SIDE NOTE LARGELY ON A DATE, DOGGONE it, the cluing for HANGAR and a few others. The NECRO- prefix sounds almost creepier than what it actually means.

    But all that is forgotten when you listen to this B-FLAT Piano Concerto, one of five in this key by Mozart.

    Happy Wednesday!

    Anonymous 1:33 AM  

    Geometry is beautiful. It isn't only about shapes; it's about the endless possibilities of lines, curves and angles within a plane, and their relationship with our physical world.
    Come on! Not everything has to be about clever words and how are they arranged on a grid.

    Unknown 2:48 AM  

    As a former math major, I definitely enjoyed the theme here.

    As a huge TMBG fan, I MOST definitely liked Rex's choice of song! I had tickets to their concert last Tuesday, but I ended up having to work, so I didn't get to see them. :(

    My only writeover was LoDE to LEDE, and this went much faster than my average Wednesday!

    chefwen 3:34 AM  

    @mathguy -avert your eyes, better yet just skip to the next comment. The only reason this got finished was because of Jon. I am hopelessly ignorant when it comes to math. I have said this before, Dear Old Dad tried to beat it into me and I developed an aversion to it. Give me words any day. Hated Algebra and when Geometry came around I just thought "what tha"? May I please just go and read a book. My grades in math were POOR. Thus the reason I was grounded from report card to report card. I don't remember any time in high school when I wasn't grounded. (math
    wasn't the only problem)' but those are stories for another day.

    Curious 3:43 AM  

    @GD ROM - Was LoDE to LEDE instead of LADE a typo?

    Evgeny 3:49 AM  

    It seems, it all depends on what I expect from a puzzle and/or what I want my solving process to be like.
    If the (only) qualities I care about are freshness/cleanliness of the fill (possibly, but not necessarily, balanced with an inventive theme) - a rebus is probably not for me. If I - in addition - clock my solving time and rate the puzzle's difficulty based on speed - a theme like this one is likely to annoy me.
    If I, however, do like a gimmick, this puzzle can be fun. I don't expect the theme to be there to make the solve easier. I just look at the theme clues and play this puzzle by the rules it wants me to play it. I try to get the circled letters first, which enables me to get the theme answers, which paves the way for the rest. But then again, I don't clock my time, don't solve enough crossword puzzles to be annoyed by dreck fill and do enjoy themes like this (quite easy) one.

    Hungry Mother 4:08 AM  

    Another former math guy here who loved it.

    Unknown 4:25 AM  

    @Curious Oops! Yeah, that's what I meant!

    Charles Flaster 4:52 AM  

    Fine puzzle that theme did not help or hurt the solve.
    There are other words that form polygons such as
    AGE, EAR and a real good one is LEG forming a RIGHT TRIANGLE with leg being a part of any right triangle.
    Liked cluing for CHAR, LIRR and TEEN.
    CrosswordEASE-- GROG and LENI.
    Writeover: Tape →TIVO.
    Thanks DL.

    Thomaso808 4:58 AM  

    Count me in on the "loved it" side. The theme was good with some legitimate, long, technical, geometrical terms, and the fill was ok, even ACHS.

    On the easy side for me, finishing in about half my usual Wed time. The vertical combo of LENI up top and LIDA down below were both WOES, but the crosses helped, although I will say ODDER over LEANT was a very strange experience.

    Nice clue for ROKER -- I don't know his co-host, but it didn't matter because he's apparently a co-host, too.

    Great clue for EXES, that use of the word "item" always gets me.

    GILL I. 5:27 AM  

    @rutterj2 pretty much said it for me.
    @chefwen...I feel your pain. I pretty much swore that I would never have to use algebra nor geometry in my future life. I had horrible teachers and my eyes would glaze over just thinking about xy or any sort of angle... I must have had some sort of hidden gene though since our son and daughter excelled in all math.
    Didn't understand the ELK EARL LEAK or GEAR nor did I care. I finished the puzzle with a MOAN because I always want to figure out what the theme is all about. I still don't know.
    Well, at least I learned that innovator H.B. REESE is into peanut butter and that Bear has a partner named STEARNS.

    Jim Walker 6:07 AM  

    DNF because I forgot to change tape to TIVO. Wound up wit SaDENOTE which is, I guess, a poison pen letter. Generally an OK puzzle but the drawing of the shapes was unnecessary to the solve.

    Loren Muse Smith 6:42 AM  

    @jae and @Steve J – I had the initial S and the final M in place and snorted to myself that it could be SHAHDOM, but I thought I was just being funny.

    @zeke, Clark – so I guess a prison is a condom.

    I had "alarm" before ALERT and a weird "vector" before I finally pieced together VERTEX, but that's either one I've forgotten or a new word they've invented. Is the plural "vertices?" That's much familiarer.

    How has the word LEANT escaped my notice all this time? Does is rhyme with lent? Maybe I have been using it, but I had given up the spelling LEANT for lent?

    @Charles Flaster -ELK could have been clued ARK (as well as your LEG, too), right? And LAG coming down the middle is kind of a secondary themer – an acute triangle.

    When the coach and I used to line the girls' lacrosse field, the RECTANGLE we thought we had drawn always turned out to be a clumsy PARALLELOGRAM when we climbed up to the press box to admire our work. Sigh.

    LOB clued as a question rather than a type of throw. Thank. God.

    I like the word DOGGONE, but around here, they all say "Daggone." I like that, too.

    I thought the conceit was clever, and I appreciated how the letters all form different words. If I had time, I would play around with the letters to see if some other group could work. That’s the sign of a good theme, in my book. Somehow I’m reminded to add teragon to my grocery list. Gonna make me some Béarnaise sauce.

    Unknown 7:18 AM  

    I thought this was the easiest puzzle this week so far with the simplest fill, especially if you know geometry, you can fill in the themers with no down clues.

    steveo (S. O'Neill) 7:33 AM  

    Thought this was more fun than Tuesday. That's a pretty good outcome, every day incrementally more fun than the last...

    Didn't need to wait for (or look at) the vertices, just filled in the geometry words when they were apparent.

    The theme did help me get ROKER, though, since I knew it had a K.

    Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

    @chefwen I was never much good at math either. I tolerated algeba (perhaps because of the word problems -- words are my thing). I failed junior year math (cleverly titled "Math 3") and had to take it over as a senior. Numbers are not my thing. I dislike Sudokus. However, I loved geometry. I was good at it. It seemed more like words than mumbers. Go figure. Today's NYT puzzle was easy for me.

    Aketi 7:36 AM  

    @ lms, you outdid yourself this am with the condom comment

    My son won't let me watch his lacrosse games because apparently parents attending games is not a thing in high school.

    I am such a nerd about graphics that I actually want the app that makes all the colored shapes. But I would pick differs colors.

    @z Happy to see OREO without OKRA today.

    pfb 7:37 AM  

    Didn't love it; didn't hate it. I realized what was going on pretty fast and just entered geometric shapes without first filling in the circled letters.

    r.alphbunker 7:42 AM  

    What was fun about the puzzle was that it made sense out of a seemingly meaningless statement like {ELK, EARL, LEAK or GEAR, geometrically}. Last answer in was ANDRO off of A__RO.

    Dorothy Biggs 7:42 AM  

    I agree with rutterj2...I don't care about what you do to a puzzle after it's done. Whether you draw shapes or see interesting shapes in the black squares or connect letters to get a secret message from Little Orphan Annie. Don't care.

    That said, if I am forced to look at it, then I get hung up in the numerous possibilities: ARK, GEL, ERA, ARE, AGE, LEA, ALE, etc., etc., etc. Why exclude those? I know, I know...they are all the same kind of triangle...but they're words and when you connect the letters they form a shape...or shape a form. You have to account for them somehow, otherwise you are just making it up. There really needs to be a method to the madness. Solving a [tight] puzzle should be about predictability, when there are gaps in the logic, everything sort of breaks down.

    I mean, would GLARE be like a Mobius Strip?

    I liked the puzzle well enough...but I really couldn't care any less about the theme. And god bless you if you like geometry, but this, to me, isn't about geometry...it's about balance/order/elegance.

    Old Lady 7:49 AM  

    I applaud the construction of this puzzle. Who noticed that PARALLELOGRAM and RIGHTTRIANGLE each had fifteen letters? The "theme" helped the solve nicely. The math student in me liked the fact that the six letters could only be in the six positions they were in and were symmetrical at that. All in all, elegant. QED

    L 8:04 AM  

    LEANT?!? buzzkill.

    L 8:04 AM  

    LEANT?!? buzzkill.

    JenCT 8:14 AM  

    @chefwen, Gill I., Loren: LOL

    @Rex's best line: "I give it a B FLAT. Because it be flat."

    joho 8:16 AM  

    "@zeke, Clark – so I guess a prison is a condom." I nominate this as the best comment ever written in Rexdom!

    I thought our mathematically inclined audience would like yesterday's puzzle and was right. Today's puzzle appeals to the same audience. I think there's room in Crossworddom for all kinds of puzzles, these last two included. However if I have to add, subtract, divide or multiply tomorrow I might get a little peeved.

    ODDER made me think of EVENER.

    I also nominate SHAHDOM as the best answer ever because it instigated the condom comment!

    Rhino 8:23 AM  

    LADE, LIDA, LEANT? And then WAIVE meaning dispense with? Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

    Rug Crazy 8:27 AM  

    I agree with Rex (again).
    did not really enjoy.
    The clue on Roker was awful

    AnnieD 8:28 AM  

    @LMS, LOL on condom!

    ...and I agree with LEANT!?! So if you lend someone an ear, was it leant? lent? or on loan or loaned. (Do you get interest back if you lend an ear?) Clearly lending your ear can make it bent and which may mean it, in fact, leant. Though I can see giving up ear lending for Lent. Moreover, EAR in the puzzle creates an obtuse triangle, which is most appropriate for LEANT.

    Jeff 8:34 AM  

    I'm surprised more people aren't mad over ANDRO. I've never seen it before this puzzle, and it reads to me as if the constructor worked himself into a corner and said "eh it sorta works? Whatever." Had metRO first, which caused a groan, but this is far worse.

    Anonymous 8:36 AM  

    Yes, @LMS, that was cute, but are the prisons near you run by the convicts? Now that I mention it, I suppose they are...

    Generic Solver 8:38 AM  

    My goal is to minimize my solving time (after all that's how you're scored in the web app), so the geometry aspect is totally irrelevant to me. Now if the geometry were involved in some sort of meta-puzzle to solve, my interest might have been piqued to explore further, and that would have been a cool and original idea (I think). Otherwise, meh, I could care less about the shapes.

    Z 8:40 AM  

    @lms - I agree with @joho. I believe that comment is a "Mic Drop."

    I like math the way I like my hammer; it's a great tool and is very useful but my eyes tend to glaze over when someone starts going on about it's beauty and deeper mysteries. B FLAT sums it up.

    Lida Rose 8:40 AM  

    Let me be the first to link to this wonderful song:

    Music Man Lida Rose

    Z 8:47 AM  

    Apparently we are not all current in our knowledge of gay slang. ANDRO is short for ANDROgynous.

    Carola 8:56 AM  

    Get ready for an algebra puzzle tomorrow (FERRET out how X works in a rebus) and calculus on Friday (a guaranteed DNF for me).

    Like @Glimmerglass, I loved and was good at geometry, but l agree with @rutterj2, @GILL I, and @NCA President on the low-joy factor for the puzzle. Once I had the RIGHT TRIANGLE in place, I filled in the other theme answers without bothering to look at where the circles were. And it annoyed me that VERTEX didn't have a mirroring theme-related entry. More ACHS than COOING for me over this one.

    RooMonster 9:09 AM  

    Hey All !
    Was this an acute or obtuse puz? Felt puz was ok, got hung up in the S, as before I got the theme, had PeRpendicular in for PARALLELOGRAM. Led to some interesting wrongness down there. Once I changed it, writeovers were Load-> LoDE-> LADE, ALaRm->ALERT, VoRtes-> VERTEs-> VERTEX. And the NW was my downfall. Had to take a DNF as nothing wanted to work together up there. Wanted meTRO for 1D, and srtA for DONA. Had oCHS, and HAgGARD. What a mess.

    @Old Lady 7:49, they are thirteen letters long, not fifteen, and they both have to br same length for symmetry.

    Odd clue for ELEVEN. Liked clue for RED.


    Boy George 9:10 AM  

    @Z you are a little too trustful of the internet. While ANDRO may indeed be a short way to say "androgenous," the word is pretty much never used in gay culture. If anything, ANDRO was used to describe certain musicians who had both masculine and feminine features--think Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Annie Lennox. To call it "gay slang" is simply incorrect.

    For the Math People 9:15 AM  

    What do you get when you cross an elephant with a grape?

    Anonymous 9:24 AM  

    @For the Math People: Abelian grape?

    Masked and AnonymoUUs 9:25 AM  

    @muse: yes! yes! runtpuz theme!:

    * SODOM - Conclusions.
    * CONDOM - Prisons.
    * RANDOM - Loser political candidates.
    * SELDOM - French salts.

    Go for it!

    still on the roaddom.

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:27 AM  

    Nice enough puzzle.

    One silly write-over at 17 A, SRTA before DONA.

    And, yes, the NW was my last to fill, as I said to myself, "Iran, formerly," that was Persia, right? What else could it be?

    Anonymous 9:39 AM  

    Right on about PEG. Maybe a better clue would have been "Good name for a gender-barrier breaking little league pitcher who is good at throwing out runners after fielding a bunt." Or "Good name for a cribbage player."

    Ludyjynn 9:40 AM  

    Meh. But I am a math averse person, admittedly. Hi, @Chefwen and the rest of you who snoozed through h.s. math classes. Solved all the themers LARGELY by playing 'Hangman' to fill in the blanks. Apparently, I'll still do whatever it takes to avoid math apps. If it doesn't involve calculating the tip or measuring something, count me out. Brain goes EEK and shuts down. Very ODD, I know. Speaking of ODD, today's Os game will constitute an infamous historic first: it will be played before an empty stadium. ODDER still, the next two 'home games' will be played this weekend in St. Pete, FLA. to avoid problems here.

    Rex, once again, your comments resonated w/ me.

    SIDENOTE to @Nancy, the koi countdown has begun!

    For the Math People 9:45 AM  

    ||elephant|| ||grape|| sin θ n

    [non-math people: Google "vector multiplication"]

    wreck 9:45 AM  

    I also solved this by guessing geometric shapes without getting the circled letter connection until after I was finished. I think if the constructor had been able to tie those circled letters into a "relevant" connection to geometric figures, it would have really kicked it up a bit.

    dk 9:46 AM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

    Context: I often beMOAN theme puzzles.

    This theme was fun. Only wish the final picture (see referenced NYT app) was an actual PARALLELOGRAM. It was close.

    SHAHDOM was the big groaner but thanks to @zeke and company it is now funny. Iran was once Persia and I am not quite sure they ever thought of themselves as a 4d. I know the expats did not.

    VERTEX was a blast from some past quiz while sitting (ok wool gathering) in the warm sunlight of a May day at Jamesville-Dewitt junior high. Ahh smell the chalk dust. Hear the thock of tennis balls…. those were the days of acne and angst.

    Z 9:56 AM  

    @Boy George - I'm hardly an expert, but I knew the term and the "proper" usage. I double checked (because I'm not an expert) and found a half dozen slang dictionaries, most citing the same 1970's/lesbian/feminist usage. BTW - Boy George may have been androgynous, but he (or is it "they") would not have been called an ANDRO.

    Nancy 9:57 AM  

    So many people I agree with today. In particular: Steve J, Alias Z, GILL I, NCA Pres, Generic Solver and Carola. I didn't get the theme, still don't, and don't care, since I was able to solve without understanding it. All the geometric shapes came in just fine on word recognition alone. But like @Carola, I was actually quite good at math and yet it didn't help me here. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be looking for, to tell the truth.

    The theme notwithstanding, I had a lot of fun with this puzzle. Like @r.alphbunker, ANDRO was the last word in. I suspected ACHS would be 1 across, but waited to put it in, because I was looking for HE/SHE for 1D. (I've heard of androgynous, but never of ANDRO as slang.) So I got my foothold at 5A with -FLAT. (I never know the keys of these things, mind you, I just write down the appropriate FLATs and SHARPs and MAJORs and MINORs.) I found it harder and much more interesting than most Wednesdays. Now maybe I should go to that link some of you provided and try and figure out what was actually going on.

    Bella Dama 9:57 AM  

    @Bob 9:27: I had "dama" before DONA. Any Spanish speakers here who can explain the difference between the usages of these two words?

    rini6 10:08 AM  

    Yeah. I was unconscionably slow to pick up the idea on this one. The circles should have been a clue! I liked "andro." It took me a sec but it fit in every way.

    Kudos on the They Might Be Giants video, "Particle Man." Those guys are so great. Saw them last sat in concert and I'm still on a nerd high. :-)

    Joseph Michael 10:20 AM  

    With SQUARE ROOTs yesterday and POLYGONs today, this seems to be Math Week at the Times. Not a math fan myself but did like Geometry in high school more than Algebra.

    Got the theme of the puzzle early on and thought the construction was good, though it didn't have me COOING. On a SIDENOTE, it got me wondering if there is anything ODDER than a NECRO ANDRO. Perhaps one ON A DATE?

    Steve J 10:30 AM  

    @Loren: Count me among the many who loved your "condom" quip.

    @Loren, @AnnieD: LEANT is past-tense for lean, not lend (the clue was "Inclined"). Its usage is more commonly British - like many past-tense verbs ending in t, such as spelt, learnt, dreamt, etc.

    @Rhino: "The school decided to waive the requirement that all students study a foreign language." In other words, they dispensed with the rule. Not sure why you're objecting to that one.

    chefbea 10:39 AM  

    Got the gimmick and found all the polygons but still DNF

    too many posts to read...maybe later

    Unknown 10:46 AM  

    Why I can't get kids to enjoy xwords from NYT!

    Arlene 11:05 AM  

    This puzzle had an interesting challenge to it - as I wondered what those circled squares were about this time. I can tell how easy a puzzle is if I solve it top to bottom without scooting around, and that's how this one went. So I was able to fill in PARALLELOGRAM with no crosses.
    Okay - I was a math major in college - so you know that I like this kind of stuff.

    pwoodfin 11:10 AM  

    Would someone please explain Halves of an old item? Just not seeing it. Something to do with Roman numerals? Thanks!

    pwoodfin 11:12 AM  

    Ahhhhh! Doh! Just got it. A couple, an item, who broke up. Little slow on the uptake. Yeesh.

    old timer 11:19 AM  

    I was hoping Rex's rating would be "tedium". Because I found it tedious to fill in the answers, though that may also be the result of working with a wet paper (the corner with the puzzle was still dry, so I could still write in the answers.

    Was gonna say, "LEANT to the left, "LEANT to the right, Stood up, Sat down, Fought Fought Fought" -- an old British schoolboy chant at a rugger match, slightly modified.

    pwoodfin, EXES are halves of an old (romantic) item.

    Anonymous 11:21 AM  

    The worst clue is 66-Across. "Symbol" implies that a thing can be used as a visual metaphor. Where has "rein" been used this way? Also, I challenge Daniel Landeman and Will Shortz to find a dictionary that defines "rein" as a "symbol of authotity" -- none that I consulted do.

    mac 11:25 AM  

    Much more enjoyable than yesterday's puzzle. I got the theme, realized I could create shapes with the circled letters, but in the end just filled in familiar terms through some crosses.

    I liked "shahdom", although I also wanted Persia first.

    Good Wednesday, good write-up and hilarious comments!

    Lewis 11:41 AM  

    @forthemathpeople -- What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino?
    @LMS -- Condom classic

    I liked the USED up, the RED on right, and I like the BRETT/ERNIE cross (close enough). Learned that SHAHDOM is a real word. Found the puzzle to be very easy (felt like a Tuesday), never got sidetracked by making shapes, just wrote in various polygons as letters became evident, thus got PARALLELOGRAM off of the P. Loved the clue to HANGAR. The grid was mostly clean, and LIDAROSE is a cool song because at some point, another song from the musical seamlessly weaves in with it.

    Must have been a bear for the constructor to figure out how to design this one -- good job on that front.

    Rex -- Once again, terrific review. IMO, last week and this week you are at the top of your game.

    nick 11:43 AM  

    If the NYT was so awash in great, smart, wordy puzzles that we were all getting a bit bored, these numeric/geometric stunt puzzles might be a welcome change. As it is though, today's, as yesterday's, was just another kind of slog.

    Anonymous 11:49 AM  

    What a fucking clique this comments section is. Zeke makes a joke, LMS plays off of it (a good one, but playing off the joke), and the popular one gets 90%+ of the kudos.

    Lewis 11:52 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Dorothy Biggs 11:52 AM  

    Some of the comments here today and recently about the presence of so many foreign language words (some of them rather obtuse) in these puzzles reminds me of a joke I've heard about multi-linguism.

    What do you call someone who speaks three languages?

    A trilinguist.

    What do you call someone who speaks two languages?

    A bilinguist.

    What do you call someone who speaks just one language?

    An American.

    Lewis 11:54 AM  

    Factoid: Outside of Canada and the U.S., a TRAPEZOID is called a "trapezium". (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out." -- George BRETT

    Steve J 12:03 PM  

    @Anon 11:21 a.m.: Republicans take the reins - headline on a story about the GOP controlling both houses of Congress at the start of this year.

    Baghdad's first female mayor set to take the reins - headline from this past February

    How These Women Took The Reins of Their Firms - still another recent headline

    In all cases, I'm pretty sure no actual reins were involved. Rather, in all cases, a very common idiomatic phrase uses taking the reins to symbolize someone's assuming control or authority over something. The clue works fine.

    Charles Flaster 12:12 PM  

    I chose LEG because a leg is one side if s right triangle.
    There are some more triangles not cited.
    Acute starts classifying triangles by angles and DL probably wanted to stay away from those( right is also an angle classification) but is the most popular).

    mathguy 1:02 PM  

    All the mathematics required for this puzzle is knowing what the several polygons are. My grandson, who goes to a middle-class public school, learned all of them in the third grade.

    I thought that it was pretty cute. Tougher than the average Wednesday for me.

    Anonymous 1:02 PM  

    @Steve J.: Of course 'the reins' is a common metaphor for control or power, but can you cite an occurrence where the singular 'rein' is used in this way? That was my objection to the clue. BTW, I'm not the same person as Anon@11:21.

    Rhino 1:04 PM  

    @SteveJ: If I waive a requirement, the requirement still exists but I am making an exception. If I dispense with the requirement, the requirement no longer exists.

    That said, it was a 6:30a rant, and more about getting a DNF on a Wednesday then the quality of the clue.

    Z 1:41 PM  

    @pwoodfin - We really need a term for posting a question and immediately realizing the answer as we hit "publish."

    @Steve J - How dare you use pluralized examples when the clue/answer were singular! Of course the very first hit when I googled "rein definition" shows the clue is okay.. Being right is no excuse. If being right were a requirement there'd be no Republicans left in The Dumbdom. (That last is just to prove my bona fides as a left-winger. Wouldn't want anyone to be confused)

    @Rhino - Waive, dispense, suspend, all three can be used by a meeting chair (for example) for temporarily not following a specific rule. Yes, they can also be used to mean very different things, which is the whole point in Xwords. What you posted makes it seem like you still think the clue is poor, but it is actually a pretty good clue. My own first thought was to think "pharmacist."

    Z 1:50 PM  

    I almost forgot ... @anon11:49 - I've barely met anyone here, let alone fucked anyone. Also, I'm pretty sure @Zeke was here before @LMS, so he's as much a part of the clique as anyone else. I should probably add that the admission standards to the clique are pretty high: Have an opinion, be willing to share it, adopt a nom de blog, minimal computer skills.

    OTL so no more for me today.

    PeterT 2:01 PM  

    This may be nitpicking, but "mean" and "average" are not the same thing. This, to me at least, is a real error in cluing.

    Anonymous 2:10 PM  

    @Z: you get a bit testy and sarcastic when someone posts an opinion you don't agree with, don't you.

    Hartley70 2:45 PM  

    It was a fine puzzle. I liked it. It's Wednesday. It had very little to do with math. Make a shape in your mind and name that shape. It's just a bit harder than writing ROOT a bunch of times in little squares. If this was math we all would have been whizzes and gone to MIT.

    Now I've got an earworm of "Popular" from "Wicked" intertwined with "Be Like the Cool Kids"! Thanks for nothing.

    Steve J 2:47 PM  

    @Anon 1:02 p.m.: The only thing I can think of off the top of my head would be use of the expression "rein in". I can see an issue with tense, but I chalk it up more to not taking crossword clues very literally. I know firsthand that just leads to a lot of annoyance and frustration.

    @Rhino: Ah, yes, I know the 6.30 a.m. rant well. I've done more than a few of those myself.

    DigitalDan 3:05 PM  

    Sudoku is ridiculous. A computer can solve any puzzle almost instantaneously. Once one is finished, there's nothing else to say about it. Then why for some reason do I enjoy doing them? Damned if I know.

    Mr. Benson 3:11 PM  

    I think the theme is more clever than most people are giving it credit for. This uses real mathematical notation -- i.e., a shape is normally denoted by its vertices (recall geometry class where you had to work on various proofs with respect to triangle ABC or BDE or whatever; in this case, it became ELK). So in other words, it's not just "circled letters happen to make this shape"; it's "this is the actual name of the figure." That might strike some as a fine distinction, but I think it adds to the elegance.

    Old Meanie 3:31 PM  

    @PeterT - You are absolutely right!

    The "average" commenter reports their (correct singular, as previously determined) response to the puzzle, makes a joke, etc.

    The "mean" commenter criticizes other commenters' spelling, grammar, lack of knowledge, etc.

    Unless you were referring to the arithmetic mean, which is the same as an average. Then you are just wrong. Which makes me a meanie!

    Reindeer 4:13 PM  

    I'd like to put 66A to bed and maybe help some to parse
    this type of clue correctly without any sarcasm intended.
    Both authority and REIN are nouns. Among the synonyms
    for authority are influence, power and control. A rein is a
    strap connected to the bridal of a horse. There are always
    two, right and left so it is usually plural. Each rein controls
    horse's movement to the right or left. Best example of its
    symbolic use is a steering committee in a legislature,
    which controls the order or direction in which business is
    done. The steering committee has a rein on the daily

    bubbles bubbly 5:02 PM  

    I'm going to go drown myself in the Perignondom.

    aging soprano 5:22 PM  

    Yeah. Seems like third grade was a long time ago some of us fergot.

    RooMonster 5:44 PM  

    Nice, but wouldn't be better as Dom Perignondom?


    aging soprano 6:03 PM  

    Didn't love it, didn't hate it, just did it. All the geometrical shapes fell into place like puzzle pieces. Actually, I think I learned those at about the same time that Mom brought home the record of The Music Man, which I promptly memorized in 2 days: a day for side one and another for side 2. "Friends, either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of Nintendo in your community." That was a parody I wrote in 1989 for mynephew's Bar Mitzva. "With a capital N and that rhythms with Ben and that stands for NINTENDO."
    Here is one for you @Lewis. Factoid: The Music Man won the Emmy award for best original musical in 1954. It beat out West Side Story.

    aging soprano 6:04 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Jed 6:09 PM  

    @ old meanie @peterT
    In math or arithmetic “average” and “mean” are not identical. “Mean” is usually defined as the mid-point between two extremes. In some math problems that will result in the same number, whether it’s mean or average, but often not. So, peterT has a point.

    Wowzer 6:17 PM  

    @Jed - Where did you get that idea?

    Anonymous 6:17 PM  

    And PeterT @2:01 wins "most idiotic comment of the day" award!

    Anonymous 6:53 PM  

    "mean" and "average" are indeed the same thing. Look it up. If you think they are different, you may be confusing one with "median".

    Nancy 7:02 PM  

    @aging soprano -- I think you meant the Tony, not the Emmy, right?

    Jed 7:05 PM  

    The definition of “Mean” is quite vast, and the meaning depends on a large variety of contexts. Mean can be a particular average. And mean and average are sometimes, not always, and again depending on the context, used synonymously. They are not identical. If someone uses mean and average as identical, then they are using them in an assumed context, and in that way they would be correct. But that doesn’t make the two words identical. To research the meanings of the two words there are math books. One is “Elementary Statistics” by Robert Johnson. At one point Johnson describes a particular mean as a description of tendency of a particular probability distribution. You can also start with a good dictionary.

    Teedmn 7:26 PM  
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    Teedmn 7:34 PM  

    @Lewis, my first entry at 28A was TRAPEZius, guess I was thinking TRAPEZium rather than the muscle, which I didn't realize until I saw your factoid!

    And looking at WAIVE, I'm wondering if anyone ever thinks it rhymes with "naive"? Or is that naive of me? (Yes, I know they aren't related etymologically, I'm just sayin'...).

    Phd Stat Guy 8:13 PM  

    @Jed - In statistics mean and average are the same thing. You have confused median and mean. Your above explanation makes no sense.

    Anonymous 8:40 PM  

    Wow just when I thought nobody could post a more idiotic comment than @Petert, along comes @Jed. Dumb and Dumber.

    Anonymous 9:10 PM  

    No two words in the English language can be substituted for each other in every context, as @Old Meanie pointed out so well at 3:31. That is sort of why crossword puzzles work. In mathematics, however, "average" and "mean" are the same.

    ("Almost" and "nearly" are almost universally substitutable, except in 1 specific instance. Yes, this is a test.)

    Charles Flaster 9:19 PM  

    Sorry. I did NOT proof read the above.

    Truthy 10:22 PM  

    Everyone is like: "It's true, because I sez so. So there." "Yeah, an' I sez so, too." "What about me? Can I sez so as well? Because I agree with whatever has been said before me." "I could make a case for it." "Nah! No need! Not 'round 'ere!"

    Anonymous 10:29 PM  

    Ah, @Truthy with the Fox News approach: people are arguing, so both sides must have equally valid/invalid points.

    OISK 10:30 PM  

    I really liked this one. Had fun trying to find the shapes. Seems new and creative to me.

    Thanks Daniel.

    Leapfinger 2:25 AM  

    I was in the Math track in HS, and loved it once I got over 'proof by inspection' not cutting it in Geometry class. This theme was cute-ish but not quite up to matrix; maybe an icosanostrahedron would have helped. I mostly agreedwith@NCAPrez' take on it, and a stab at a Mobius strip would have added that extra twist.

    Had Jet SET before LAG, and the Canadian in me went for SASKatchewan before SDAK; geographical, I count that as ballpark.

    Hmm. Did you mean it? It was meant. Did you lean it? Then it was leant. Yup, that's how it's spelt; anyhow, that's how I leanto it.

    Liked the EVEN-ODDER cross and the nod to @Moly Shu's cousin, MOLY GOO. In my line of work, we USED to see NECRO OTIC tissue often enough, but a NECRO GRAM would have been EVEN ODDER.

    "Me and my SHAHDOM,
    Strolling down the avenue.
    Me and my SHAHDOM,
    Not a soul to tell our troubles to."

    I saw SHAH Reza Pahlevi and the beautiful Farah Diba when they visited McGill U during my undergrad years. The politics of the timewere beyond my KEN; I only thought they made a very handsome couple.

    Hope all y'all's Wednes was a good 'un.

    +wordphan 2:30 AM  

    Wasn't there a radio personality named SHADOE STEVENS? This puzzle, ACH! My LUMBAGO! Have to LEARN to like LEANT!

    Leapfinger 2:38 AM  

    Must a jinnit...

    A 'khandom' at 1:24 a.m. and a 'condom' at 6:42 a.m.? Now I'm thinking @Alias and @Loren just had spelling (var) and great comedic minds think alike.

    The khandom relies more on the reader, I'd say, and is certainly more gutteral.

    +wordphan 2:40 AM  

    Back in the day, a "couple" was referred to as an "item," especially in Hollywood gossip columns, Hedda Hopper, for examlpe. That's my take.

    +wordphan 2:41 AM  

    Hate typos and no edit feature!

    Veritable Morphodite 2:55 AM  

    So why go with ANDROgynous over Hermaphroditic? Is it a Greek over Romans thing or just a foresighted way to avoid abbreving to Hermy?

    To the Vector go the spoils, right @MFTP

    Nancy's helper 3:12 AM  

    @aging soprano - I think you also meant 1958 not 1954.

    aging soprano 3:46 AM  

    Right. I always get those mixed up. And we are in Tony season now.

    aging soprano 3:52 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    aging soprano 4:06 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    aging soprano 4:06 AM  

    Did I? Better check that out. Since it was like 2:00 in the morning here I just picked it off the top of my head. And i always mix up Tony and Emmy. You are so right. They both premiered in 1957, up for Tonys in 1958. Guess I need to better check out my factoids in the future. My humble apologies. But I think I made my point, which was, of course, that while The Music Man is a good musical, hard to believe that it beat West Side Story. Thank you for the corrections.

    Anonymous 4:09 AM  

    @Z, re yer term for @pwoodlin
    How about 'premature evaluation'?

    @Truthy wasn't taking any such approach. He/she/it was describing a scenario, and succeeding rather well.

    @Lewis, I'll see your factoid and raise you: the trapezium and the trapezoid are the first two bones in the second row of the [human] carpus.

    @bubbles, I just moet join you with some Inicandom.

    If everyon's been reinstated now, perhaps we can 'dispense' with the arreinment?

    L. Finger

    Burma Shave 8:56 AM  


    LARGELY a SIDENOTE: While COOING your maid
    ONADATE you’ve gotta BFLAT and MOAN to get LADE.


    rondo 11:43 AM  

    After getting RIGHTTRIANGLE from only about 1/3 crosses and having ____ZOID, I didn’t bother to look at the other geo-clues; got them just from crosses. Paid no attention to the words spelled by the VERTices.

    Mini-theme with BRETT ROYAL AVG AAA. Don’t recall if he ever played AAA, might have to google.
    OK, I checked. His AVG for AAA Omaha in 1973 was .284 before moving up to the ROYALs, same year.

    Top-center RMK. At least when they’re that short you can get _FLAT instead of _M__OR.

    A better use of ANDRO could have been “Sports PED”. Maybe too obscure? For Wednesday? But I think I’ve heard it more in relation to sports than as clued. Ask Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark Maguire and those other guys. They knew their ANDRO, and could buy it OTC @ GNC. That’s what I did.

    This puz was nothing to write home about, but no major complaints either.

    188 - not bad!

    spacecraft 12:08 PM  

    So, what we have here is...what? The ELK LEAKed, putting EARL into high GEAR?? Seems to me you can draw any figure you want on a crossword grid, picking any letter at all as a VERTEX, and so could pretty easily spell out just about anything. These words have no connection; they're just four...words. Meaningless. Thus, when starting out, we have no idea what the clues are talking about. "ELK, geometrically???" Well, let's see, the L is a right angle.....

    I guess I just don't get the VERTEX, or point. Anyway, this seemed, for reasons above, harder than a typical Wednesday. Take the NW. ANDRO?? Do people SAY that? Where? Certainly nowhere I've ever been. Seems offensive to me. So does the use of "Limey" in the clue for 27a. C'mon, Mr. Editor-in-the-ultra-sensitive-age! Do your job!

    I am pleased to discover that "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is in the same key as Mozart's last piano concerto. Remember "Sing with me and find the key?" Whoopi!

    Our constructor has obviously logged many hours on PBS, either as a child or with his kids. Or both. I saw plenty of it with mine, so I knew ERNIE's address and the Lady Elaine, along with King Friday the Thirteenth. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

    The nonsense factor of the key words, along with some pithy cluing, put this on the tough border of midweek, so I agree with the m-c rating. Theme is clever, but lacking a "punch line" vis-a-vis the four words. Fill is ODDER than AVG. Not a fan of LIRR, especially in the same area as ARR. ANDRO, OVO, AAA are also POOR. But the rest is fairly lively, including George "Pine tar" BRETT, the ROYAL who was my way into this grid. B-.

    DMG 3:46 PM  

    Slogged through this one, saved only by recognizing the recognizing shapes as the crosses provided hints. Tried spelling something with the circled letters, and gave up on them. Yet somehow, despite not knowing the baseball player, the lady from TV, and a back East commuter line, I finally moored my yacht in a COVE and finished with the X in VERTEX. Was once a math major, later employed with the grandiose title Mathematician, and I agree with all those who say ( instinctively feel?) that mean and average are not the same. But then maybe things have changed in the last half century?

    Hey 1818 !!!!

    Average Mean Guy 4:55 PM  

    What is the difference between average, mean, median, and mode?

    Mean (or arithmetic mean) is a type of average. It is computed by adding the values and dividing by the number of values. Average is a synonym for arithmetic mean - which is the value obtained by dividing the sum of a set of quantities by the number of quantities in the set. An example is (3 + 4 + 5) ÷ 3 = 4. The average or mean is 4. Two other common forms of averages are the median and mode. The median is the middle value of the set when they are ordered by rank - or the point in a series of numbers above and below which is half of the series. An example would be: The median income of a four-person family in Connecticut is $82,517. The mode is the most frequent value in a set of data. If you had nine students taking an exam and the scores were: 91, 84, 56, 90, 70, 65, 90, 90, 30 - then the mode is 90, the most common score. The median (middle) score is 84.

    Anonymous 7:23 PM  

    Finished this one early and for some reason couldn't get the blog to cooperate. Anyway, I liked the puzzle, caught on quickly and didn't question the logic or reason for the circles. I suppose it meant something to the constructor. I rate this one Easy/Med. but that's just me. Sometimes everything falls into place without even trying. It's a rare day when I don't have to research for at least one name or place or thing. The comments by today's blogmaster IMHO are a little on the "jerk" side. I have spoken.

    Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

    leftcoastTAM 7:53 PM  

    At least this time, I agree with Rex, maybe because he's become so temperate recently. Not much going on here today, including many of the real-time posts.

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