Hardly parsimonious in a saying / THU 9-9-21 / Food, quaintly / Some unaccredited universities derisively / Makeup shades that match skin tones / Veep co-star Clea / Supreme god of ancient Egypt / When doubled a 2010s dance / Animal whose teeth are the strongest substance in the natural world / They may be iced for a hoppy birthday party

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Constructor: Billy Bratton

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging

THEME: CONVERT TO METRIC (54A: What you have to do to interpret the answers to 16-, 25- and 40-Across) — familiar names/phrases with MILES, DEGREE, and POUND in them (respectively) have those units converted to their metric counterparts in the actual answers:

Theme answers:
  • KILOMETERS DAVIS (16A: "In a Silent Way" trumpeter [~3:5]) (converted from Miles Davis)
  • RADIAN MILLS (25A: Some unaccredited universities, derisively [~57-1]) (converted from "degree mills")
  • GRAM FOOLISH (40A: Hardly parsimonious, in a saying [~1:454]) (converted from "pound foolish")
Word of the Day: RADIAN (see 25A) —
  1. a unit of angle, equal to an angle at the center of a circle whose arc is equal in length to the radius. (google)
• • •

No, what I have to do is convert things *out* of metric. That's the actual process that occurred. A strange phrase showed up in my grid, and in order to understand it, I had to "convert" the other way. I see why CONVERT TO METRIC is the revealer (theoretically, you have to do that in order to go from actual answer to grid answer) but that phrase fundamentally does Not describe what a solver actually does. Conversion runs the other direction. Thank you for coming to my Theodore Talk ("Theodore" being the metric equivalent of "Ted"—or the non-metric equivalent, I forget). This puzzle kept its themers well hidden, as "In a Silent Way" is unrecognizable to me as a Miles Davis song, and "pound foolish" is a phrase I know exclusively from the longer, now well out-of-use idiom "Pennywise, pound foolish," so seeing it stand on its own is weird. Then there's the fact that I had no clear idea what a RADIAN was ... I could see that RADIAN was going to be the unit, and I recognized it as a unit, but from where I didn't know, and what it's metric counterpart might be: no idea. Just blanked. Worse, I know the phrase as "diploma mills," so I couldn't even figure out what the unit was by inferring from the base phrase, because I was pretty sure "diploma" was not a unit of anything. So that section around RADIAN was by far the hardest for me, and consequently the last one to fall (you can see from the grid screenshot that my cursor ended up on ELLIS, a name I always forget, or want to be ELLER for some reason). This puzzle just had a lot of proper nouns, too, which made it potentially very thorny. From Clea DUVALL to ELLIS Bell to the ELI Young Band to Lula da SILVA to El Greco and his fellow CRETANS and the Gaga name part JOANNE and on and on, it got very very trivial. The worst name, of course, was MARSHA Blackburn, a right-wing ghoul who has done and said (and politically supported) too many disgusting things to list. I would you show you her racist, xenophobic tweet where she congratulated the former "president" on recovering from Covid by "joking" that he had "once again defeated China," but honestly, **** her and whoever thought I'd want to see her at 1-****ing-Across.

Does anyone call them ALEKEGS? (13A: They may be iced for a hoppy birthday party). I've heard "beer kegs" and just "kegs," but ALEKEGS seems like something someone put in a puzzle once and now it's just out there, in hundreds of constructor wordlists, just waiting to resurface. I would use ALEKEGS about as readily as I would use ALIMENT (a word I've only ever seen with the suffix "-ary" attached, and even then only in biology class ("the alimentary canal") (2D: Food, quaintly). I feel like I rolled through this one mostly by happening to know enough of the trivia. MARSHA and TORI and REMY and AM(E)N-RA (never sure about that second vowel) and ELI etc., and the crosswordesey half-dance NAE was probably the thing that got me over the hump in that RADIAN section (forgot ELLIS, forgot El Greco was Cretan, didn't know RADIAN, forgot SILVA ... not my finest solving hour). The overall fill seemed mostly fine, I guess. A bit too trivial, but (for me) ultimately tractable. There's not a lot of room for real sparkle, but TOP TIER and "WE'LL SEE..." are pretty decent. In the end, though, despite the clever concept, the result was a little plodding, with a revealer that is mere instructions. I did have three little ahas when I finally got the theme, so that's something. But overall it felt very programmatic and workmanlike.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. BANDBS is (OF COURSE) "B&Bs" i.e. bed-and-breakfasts; you know, the quaint rustic inns where morning ALIMENT is included.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


ultramet 5:16 AM  

I. thought it was just me. The correct term would be "Convert from Metric". Some forgettable fill here. I got the trick and solved it, but it wasn't a pleasant experience overall. Also, in terms of units, radian is more obscure than units for weight, length, volume, temp etc. However, I guess the clue Celsius 451 would have been too easy for a Thursday.

Conrad 5:28 AM  

I used RADIANs in high school and college, but I never associated them with the metric system. I thought they were just a convenient way to represent angles that was easier to use in calculations than angles. My bad.

But as @Rex noted, "Diploma Mills" is the common usage. So I guess RADIANS is the result of converting "diploma" to metric?

My worst overwrite was OrE instead of ODE for the glowing lines at 50A.

Del Taco 5:32 AM  

Solid, tough Thursday.
Took me twice as long to finish, but I enjoyed the ride.

bocamp 5:42 AM  

Thx Billy; a very challenging adventure! Nicely done. :)

Very tough solve.

Happy to have survived this one. Always a good feeling when confronted with a battle and winning out.

Enjoyed the time spent, and learned some stuff in the mix.

@TTrimble 👍 for 0 yd

yd 0 / td p? g -?

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

qv 5:44 AM  

Aliment is not a word.

Okoume 6:12 AM  

I can't believe nobody has mentioned the incredible fact about the animal whose teeth are the strongest substance in the natural world! That is so interesting.

Really enjoyed the solve - hard but doable for me.

Loren Muse Smith 6:13 AM  

Tough Thursday. Seemed that every time I needed a cross, I hit one of those proper names Rex mentioned that I didn’t know: SILVA, ELLIS, ADO, DUVALL. I mean it took forever to claw my way to the end.

Like Rex, I had no idea that RADIAN was metricsystemspeak. And since KILOMETERS closely corresponds to Miles, I didn’t want to accept GRAM for pound.

@Conrad – I liked your “ore” thinking.

I never know if it’s CRETAN or cretin. I knew a guy from Crete who tried to explain it to me, but he was such a liar that, well… bad um tss.

Early on off the _ N A _ _ I had the chilling thought that the snake’s teeth were the strongest in the world. Can you imagine? Then I wondered if there were other teeth up in a snake’s mouth besides the fangs. I googled it. Seems they can have more than 70 teeth because they might lose some during the eating process. Sheesh. I thought they swallowed their meals whole, the way I do.

Snakes were logically on my mind because yesterday morning, the head custodian surprised me at like 6:15 in my trailer with the news that there had been a snake spotted in there the night before. Hah! I was thrilled ‘cause maybe it was eating the rodents and secretly hoped we wouldn’t find it. Alas, we did, and he took it away and dispatched it. It was just a black snake, and honestly, had I been the one to see it, I never would have told a soul. Would have happily co-existed there with him, knowing he was dutifully getting RID OF the rodents. Oh well.

Later in the day, I had a new student who kinda was posturing and establishing himself. Took the wire insert out of a paper mask and told me he could use it as a shank if he were sent to prison. I sat there stunned, wondering what I was supposed to do. The Behavior Management Technician was in the other room. Should I take this seriously? Report it to someone? Be scared? The other student in the room was Latino. Were they in rival gangs? Were we all gonna land in the headlines? In the end, I just had him refocus on the at-that-point ridiculous context clues passage we were working on. He and Juan (also headed for lock-up) sat there and patiently figured out the meanings of words like ubiquitous and petulant. I was overcome with gratitude that these guys were willing to try to be regular students despite the staggering futures they’re facing. (And he left his forgotten shank on the desk, so I put it in my backpack and reported it after class.)

RUMMY for the inebriated . . . gin RUMMY for the black-out drunk. Never mix your distilled liquors lest you lose some teeth while eating beef jerky dipped in crunchy peanut butter. Follow me for more dating advice.

Anonymous 6:15 AM  

"But Holmes, how ever can you eat that?"

"Alimentary, my dear Watson, Alimentary."

Donkos 6:20 AM  

You are correct

Donkos 6:24 AM  

Radians are not metric or english. Degrees is used for both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Complete miss by the editor

TTrimble 6:41 AM  

I have to say, it feels very bizarre to consider a dimensionless quantity like a RADIAN to be a "metric unit", but it seems to be so designated by the relevant deliberative body (the General Conference on Weights and Measures), so okay. I guess. Anyway, I learn something new which will be of absolutely no use to me in my work. I don't need no stinkin' deliberative body to tell me I should use it.

I don't quite see what Rex is complaining about. "A strange phrase showed up in my grid, and in order to understand it, I had to "convert" the other way." That's not how it worked for me. It didn't just "show up"; one had to put it there. (Well, it might "show up" if you got it only from the down crosses and were then tasked to understand why the across themer makes sense, but that wasn't how it was for me.) The way I put it there, I took the ordinary phrase, considered the ratio, and then made the conversion to metric. See?

I found the puzzle sort of amusing, and rather easy for a Thursday. Slight misstep early on when I entered MARtHA instead of MARSHA, but that got SKORTed out quickly. Peered quizzically at CRETANS, as it ineluctably got conflated with "cretins" in my head. (The word "cretin" is related to chrétien, French for "Christian", and to me it's always sounded like saying "yeah, I agree he's pretty obnoxious, but say what you will, he's still a Christian and one of God's children".)

But really, that's what people from Crete are known as? I don't think I knew that, nor that El Greco was from Crete. As an English word, CRETANS seems a tad unfortunate, given the potential mix-up.

I was also thrown off for a while by TOP TIER. The -ier ending had me trying to come up with a comparative. Little a-ha when I finally got it.

I like how AGENDA is clued as a plural. OF COURSE originally it was a plural, of "agendum", a thing to be done. So AGENDA is things to be done, which later became a list of things to be done, and from there we get another plural*, "agendas". Not, by the way, "agendae". People will say that and may think you will be impressed by their knowledge of Latin plurals, but it's what's known as a hypercorrection, and as hypercorrections go it's one of my favorites.

(I don't know what @LMS would say, but I'll admit that "hypercorrections" often annoy me. Like a Pavlovian dog, every time I hear "between you and I" on Bachelor in Paradise, I'll call out "between you and me". I sometimes feel guilty about it, but I can't help myself. At least they can't hear me.)

A moment of nervousness at the Naticky crossing of ADO with DUVALL.

yd 0
td pg -3

* A meta-plural?

GILL I. 6:42 AM  

Does staring at a blank page magically make an answer appear? No? Even if it takes all night? You're right...it doesn't. Why, you ask, should I know this Lula person from Brazil or a Tennessee senator or Gaga's name or who on this earth is Clea whatshername?
So you want me to CONVERT TO METRICS and you give me a word like RADIAN? I truly felt like a CRETAN solving this puzzle.

Lewis 6:47 AM  

Let’s see. This constructor is 18, started solving crossword puzzles a bit over a year-and-a-half ago. Soon after that, he began making puzzles, and today he debuts a splendid one on a Thursday in the NYT. Wow. And I have the feeling that this meteoric rise has a long way to go.

Just look at the talent and skill that went into this grid – a mere 68 words and practically no junk. It features a most clever theme and spot-on revealer. It’s got grit and wit.

Do I know what a radian is? No, and I don’t care. I’ve been charmed. I was had at KILOMETERS DAVIS.

Credit to Will and team for bringing along so many new and excellent puzzle-makers – the future of crosswords feels fresh and in good hands. Marvelous puzzle, BB, and thank you for it. I am eagerly anticipating more from that brain of yours.

Ω 6:47 AM  

Lager KEGS
Stout KEGS
Märzen KEGS (it is Oktoberfest after all)
Hefeweizen KEGS
Kölsch KEGS
… The list could go on and on… but it doesn’t. Nobody ever uses any of these terms. “What did you get for the party?” “I brought a KEG of a good IPA, a Märzenbier for the season, and a Pilsner for hoi polloi.”

The revealer is fine. You CONVERT from “Miles” to KILOMETERS to get your answer. Sure sure, you might realize that the answer is KILOMETERS before realizing the original is Miles, just like sometimes you see the answer before understanding the clue. But even when that happens clue -> answer is the basic “conversion” process.

With the PPP somewhat outré already (Lady Gaga’s real name … NO … her real middle name… do I look like a Gagastan?) did we really need to PPPize EMIR and ADO?

This is about the billionth time that I wanted Zac for the country band fill-in-the-blank clue. Someday I will remember that it’s Zac Brown and ELI Young. Or not. I’m still in shock that Gwen Stefani went country, just proving that love makes one GRAM FOOLISH (or something like that, work with me here), don’t expect me to remember all the “Dude in a Cowboy Hat Band” names. I’m more likely to become a Gagastan than a Countrystan, Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt notwithstanding.

I would have liked Forty Hectare Wood to make an appearance. Seems like there must be lots of other possibilities out there. Not the best Thursday we’ve ever had.

Millie Graham 6:50 AM  

Sometimes I start out not liking a puzzle and end up having a fun solve. Today was the opposite. When I got KILOMETERSDAVIS I thought it was pretty neat. The Glowing dimmed a bit with GRAMFOOLISH since GRAM is a unit of mass, not weight. I took all the math available in high school but don't recall learning about RADIANS. I also had PPP problems. I believe the revealer is correct. The solver's task is to complete the grid, which requires converting TO metric. Seems straight forward to me. e.g. the answer to 16A is Miles DAVIS so you convert to metric to enter it in the grid. I don't understand why @Rex went off on it.

puzzlehoarder 6:55 AM  

I got about an extra 10 minutes of good solving out of this as compared to a usual Thursday. I credit this to the rather inscrutable clues for the themers and the use of obscure names. Those big white corners gave the grid the look of a great themeless puzzle which is what much of this felt like. The NE really stood out thanks to DUVALL being crossed by ADO and flanked by SILVA. Anything that can provide a road block to be worked around is appreciated. There's no point in having solving skills unless you're forced to use them and this puzzle did the trick.

D Peck 7:01 AM  

A little surprised Rex didn’t call out the logical inconsistency in the final themer. The POUND referenced isn’t a weight, it’s a currency, and has no metric equivalent. It leapt out at me because that was the answer where I understood some kind of conversion was happening. Kept looking for a monetary unit but nothing made sense til I got to the revealer. Felt misleading to me in the not-good way, esp. since converting to or from metric isn’t an activity that’s ever going to make me jump for joy. That plus the arcane nature of both degree (as opposed to diploma, as Rex says) MILLS/RADIANs and having to think about Marsha Blackburn pretty much ruined the puzzle for me.

JD 7:04 AM  

I think the revealer clue is saying that the solver has to mentally convert to metric to understand (interpret) the answer they wrote down. Or what @Z said. Maybe we even said the same thing. Who knows.

And the term Degree Mill actually does exist.

But let's talk about that NE corner. Sysop, Duvall, Cretans, & Servo is actually a firm of actuaries I once worked for, so I tore through that block. Nooo problemo. But I'm sure not everyone found it that easy. Maybe even impossible.

I was bitten by a snail once so that was a gimme too.

Michiganman 7:09 AM  

I listen to Central Michigan University (Mt. Pleasant) public radio. They have several broadcast sources around northern Michigan which also serve parts of Ontario. In the weather forecast the announcer says "The high for today is 70 degrees, 21 Celsius in Ontario". That amuses me because it's also 21 Celsius in Michigan.

Richard Stanford 7:13 AM  

To add to the difficulty with RADIANs, I’ve always heard them as “diploma MILLS”, never degree mills. Maybe a regional difference?

Trey 7:16 AM  

Other than ALEKEGS, a fantastic puzzle. Interesting to see the comments on degree (or is it RADIAN) of difficulty - this solve was easily in the top 10% of my Thursday solve times.

I too could not get that diploma mills were supposed to be degree mills. However, I figured out RADIAN as the only word that would fit once ai had the crosses done

Completely agree with @TTrimble - I read the clue, figured out the answer, then converted to metric to write the altered answer down

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

Whatever Lewis is smoking--apparently every single day because I've never noticed a puzzle he didn't love to bits--I want some. This puzzle was a complete mess, with a revealer that was wrong, a misworded term (it's "diploma mill," not a "degree mill"), and a usage--RADIAN--that is also apparently wrong. And I say "apparently" because no one seems to know exactly what it is, but it does seem clear that it is not metric or a diploma or even a degree. Bottom line: The puzzle was just terrible.

And, of course, MARSHA. You can fill up a crossword with the names of bygone Republicans, but to use contemporary fascists is insupportable.

oceanjeremy 7:23 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, while also recognizing every single thing “wrong with it.” I anticipated each of Rex’s complaints and, moreover, wholeheartedly agree with every one.

“But wait, didn’t he say he liked this puzzle?” you may be asking yourself. And to answer you, no! I said I enjoyed it. Even mid-solve I kept saying, “This is only enjoyable because it’s a Proper Noun Fest that happens to be in my wheelhouse.”

To put another way: Did I enjoy it? Yes.

If I were an editor, would I publish it? No.

So in a response to this puzzle’s most egregious sins, let’s please make MARSHA Blackburn a one-term senator. And while we’re at it, let’s also repeal the TAFT-Hartley Act. Actually let's make that the priority — it's even worse than Senator Blackburn. It’s the most anti-union law in the United States.

Ω 7:24 AM  

Also not the worst Thursday we ever had.

ALIMENT has been a word for 600 years (I do like M-W’s wry “you’re more likely to see it as a typo for ‘ailment’ these days”).
RADIANS has nothing to do with temperature scales.

@TTrimble - Your AGENDA musings made me realize that an AGENDA can always be thought of as a list of multiple items. So it can always be clued either singularly (the list) or plurally (the items on that list). I waited on that terminal A because I feared it would be an I. AGENDopodes wouldn’t fit.

@LMS - And now I’m wondering what the metric unit for a Page is…

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

The reference to Senator Blackburn and Taft were the only two things about this puzzle that made me happy. the puzzles this week, Sunday-Thursday, have all been painful and joyless. someone who edits these on vacation? Or maybe back from vacation?

kitshef 7:27 AM  

Lucky for me, I could not make any headway in the NW so started things off in the NE.

I thus fell in love with the puzzle before I got to the dreadful NW section.

DUVALL/ADO cross is bad – don’t cross answers from the same area of knowledge if you can avoid it. ADO should have been clued differently.

If one side is BRIDAL, what is the other side? Groomal?

JJK 7:33 AM  

OK this was just awful and I’m left feeling just as cranky as Rex seems to be. KILOMETERSDAVIS was an aha moment, pretty easy to get, and kind of cute, but the others were either completely obscure or just wrong. A GRAM is not equivalent to a pound, and RADIAN?? My scientist husband tells me that everyone knows about radians from Geometry class but I’m sorry, I took Geometry in the eighth grade and I’m now in my 6th decade of life, so no. And the phrase is “diploma mills”, never “degree mills”.

This was also filled with obscure proper names, I mean, Lady Gaga’s middle name? REALLY? I did happen to know Luna da SILVA, all the others I either didn’t know at all or had forgotten.

Who knew SNAILs had teeth? That was actually an interesting factoid.

Sorry for the rant.

amyyanni 7:44 AM  

This one failed to spark joy, alas. Smiled at the Miles Davis twist, am a fan. (Kind of Blue, classic) Even knew ELLIS due to a H.S. project on the Brontes. The other two themers were sticking points. Didn't know RADIAN and am over with the pennywise people. But I see the great potential of Mr. Bratton. Interesting debut; hope to see more.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

I was disappointed when Vittles was wrong for 2 Down.

Irene 7:49 AM  

Quelle mess! not just the dumb metrics but in impenetrable proper names. The only one I knew was Ellis Bell; they others weren't memory fails because I never knew them. I usually look forward to Thursday's cleverness. Ugh.

Schuly 7:53 AM  

Um, Radians measure the arc of a circle, not temperature. Do crossword people quit math in junior high school?

bocamp 7:55 AM  

Thot diploma MILL, so didn't really understand RADIAN in terms of degree MILL. Now I know, thx to various posters. :)

Had just watched a Robert DUVALL movie prior to doing the xword.

td 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Amie Devero 8:02 AM  

This puzzle really annoyed me. ALIMENT- not a word. ALIMENTS is.
ALEKEGS??? Give me a break.
Even DEGREE MILLS is incorrect, but was necessary to solve 25 across. The real idiomatic term is DIPLOMA MILLS.
Also, there simply were not enough theme answers for this to work. And of course, what everyone else said, convert from not to metric.

Greg in Sanibel 8:09 AM  

Radians are NOT metric. They are an alternate way to refer to angular measurements, but there is nothing “metric” about them. Degrees to Celsius would be the metric conversion.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Radian is an alternate way of measuring angles, and has NOTHING to do with the metric system. This puzzle is flat-out wrong. The other two were gettable without the reveal, but 25A is an error by the constructor/editor.

Son Volt 8:25 AM  

I had fun with most of it - some of the trivia like JOANNE was clunky. Agree with @Z’s take on the theme - Rex missed the big picture. KiloGRAM is the standard SI unit of mass - I don’t have an issue with the GRAM - pound conversion. The REMY x RUMMY cross was neat as was the OF COURSE - TOP TIER stack.

Never liked those CADBURY eggs the Easter bunny left. I’ve spent a lifetime in bars but have never heard or used the term ALE KEG.

Overall an enjoyable Thursday solve.

Trey 8:25 AM  

Can someone fill me in on PPP? New to me as an infrequent reader of the comments section of this blog. “Piss-poor phill”? “Proprietary proper pronouns”?

Trey 8:28 AM  

Then what else would go into the alimentary tract (intestines and stuff)?

Trey 8:30 AM  

What are the abbreviations at the end of some of these posts? Yd, td, and pg?

Joel Palmer 8:32 AM  

this one kicked my ass in upper right corner. Had artists instead of Cretans and had to unwind to finish

pabloinnh 8:35 AM  

Way back when when I started teaching, Russell Baker was writing his whimsical columns for the NYT and I used to read them in school. If a found a good one I'd share it with a class or two. I remember well his take on the adventures of Kilometers Standish and the Pilgrims, which I thought was wicked funny, the students less so. The humor was diluted, I fear, by having to explain that his real name was "Miles" (or Myles), so, see, instead of "miles", he used "kilometers" and that's why it's funny and oh never mind.

Hand up for "diploma mills", knew El Greco was a Cretan (I also know his real name, but that's just showing off), got SILVA because it's a common last name in Brazil, knew ADO because crosswords, knew ELLIS, but JOANNE and DUVALL as clued, nope. Cool fact about SNAILS.

Very nice job, BB. This is a Big Boy job all the way around, and thanks.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Thanks, Rex, for explaining what a “band b” is. I thought it might be what marches at halftime while the a team rests.

Laura 8:38 AM  

For once I agree with almost all of Rex's objections. The revealer made no sense. Iced ale kegs is just too weird. Etc.

But...Never heard of radian? I'm quite sure you graduated high school and don't think you can do so without taking the math courses.

Rob Rushing 8:42 AM  

Also found KILOMETERS DAVIS smile-worthy, but the others were duds. Not least because GRAMs are not even remotely an equivalent of pounds. KILOFOOLISH would have taken up the same space and been much more of a conversion. (I weigh about 160 lbs or 70 kilos — or 70,000 grams. When someone asks my weight, they are not going to expect me to say 70,000, or give it in ounces.)

kitshef 8:42 AM  

To add a little to the SNAIL clue, the hardest teeth belong to a species of limpet. Limpets are indeed snails, but most people won't think of them as snails. Don't think about the guys you see in the woods with the pretty spiral shells. Limpets are aquatic, simple-shelled snails.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Most scientific calculators have a button or switch on them to toggle between degrees, radians, and gradians, and even the standard Apple calculator app that comes preinstalled on my iPhone has a degree/radian toggle button. So I think that a lot of people here have seen the word "radians" or "rad" before, but just never bothered to learn what it meant. It's understandable since its use outside of trigonometry is pretty limited.

Incidentally, I once knew an NFLer who was a DIYer. Or was he an NBAer?

Hartley70 8:49 AM  

Exactly what @Rex said. I ended up staring at @RADIAN, guessing if the final letter should be N or L since the NAENAE isn’t in my dance repertoire.

Joaquin 9:03 AM  

I was a bit taken aback by the (new to me) information about snail teeth. But then I realized that even at my advanced age, I can still outrun those buggers. Or most of 'em. I hope.

kitshef 9:04 AM  

RADIAN is a metric system unit. If you want to measure, for example, angular velocity in SI, you must do so in radians per second, not degrees per second.

Rocinante 9:05 AM  

@TTrimble You and I are on the same page.

Suzy 9:05 AM  

What @ Lewis said, I totally agree. Who cares what a radian is? Super puzzle, thank you, Billy and Will!

My daughter played Ado Annie in her sixth grade play, a never-to-be- forgotten performance! The other
proper nouns were gettable through crosses.

And who knew snails have teeth? Ya learn something new every day!

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

along with others, when I was in HS, RADIAN was just another way to measure angles.

unlike @OFL, et al, I agree with the clue's structure. you do have to CONVERT TO METRIC to get from Miles DAVIS to KILOMETERS DAVIS. technically, though it's 1.6 KILOMETERS/Mile

Unknown 9:09 AM  

A Radian is a unit for measuring angles. There are 2pi (~6.28) radians in a circle, which is equivalent to 360 degrees, hence the ~1:57 ratio. Although they are SI units, we would never associate radians with the metric system since everyone in the world uses degrees and radians interchangeably, depending on situation.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

when I lived in DC, George Washington Univ. was notorious as a degree mill for bureaucrats. American and Catholic, not so much.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

c'mon folks!!! the conversion is from one *word* to another, through English (really, American) to SI. it doesn't matter that pound is weight and GRAM is mass; it's pure context-free syntax switching.

As to ALE KEGS: read the clue more closely "hoppy" that's the characteristic of ALE.

Ω 9:22 AM  

Damn it @Trey - Piss Poor Phill is so much better that now I'm embarrassed to explain.
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns.

Nancy 9:29 AM  

I had to cheat. I've never heard of "degree mills", only of "diploma mills", and I was completely baffled by what the metric equivalent of "diploma" was. So I had to look up SILVA. The "L" enabled me to see SNAIL, which gave me NAE NAE, which had slipped my mind despite all the many puzzle inclusions. SNAIL also gave me ELLIS -- all I could think of was ELLer Bell, which I knew was wrong. (I so hate when these Senior Moments happen.)

The theme was instantaneously apparent to me, though. It's quite similar to a theme that Will Nediger and I submitted to the NYT in 2019 and I assume must have been turned down ere now. I don't remember, natch, and I can't locate the Times's response in my email files (ditto, natch), but once I check with Will to see if it was turned down, I'll let you know what the theme clues and answers were.

I liked the theme a lot but (very much like yesterday) I didn't like all the names. But while yesterday the names were an almost welcome impediment to figuring out some very intriguing theme answers, today the names were more of an annoying frustration.

RooMonster 9:44 AM  

Hey All !
Can I make a request, Rex? I know you're 100% Liberal, but could you please leave politicalanything out of your write-up? Personally, I consider myself Independent, so I can see both sides' goods and bads, but if you're one party or the other, your SLANT blinds you to some good stuff the other party has on occasion. (Sorry to all about politicalblathering, but 45 and 46 have both bad and good stuff) Just sayin.

That ickiness aside 😁, the puz proved nigh unsolvable for me without a couple of Googs. Amazingly had only those two, which were ELLIS (non-knower of literature here, as y'all probably know) and SILVA, cause don't watch news, so don't know former or even current Presidents of various countries. Call me ignorant if you'd like, but don't want to take up what little space I have left in the ole brain with people I don't need to know. 🙂

Normally, PPP doesn't get my goat, but today's was everywhere, and since most were out of my Ken, OF COURSE I'm gonna complain. 😁 Theme was kinda wacky, out of the three I was only able to figure out KILOMETER DAVIS. Amazingly, do know who Miles Davis is! Oh, actually did figure out RADIAN=Degree, now that I just reread it. But the GRAM=Pound thing was over my head, as that saying was unknown (see? No more room in the ole brain!) until I read Pound FOOLISH here. Then, "Ah, yes I know that saying."

Funky looking grid. NE corner edge answers are both long Abbrs. B AND BS, SYS OPS. Just an observation. LOLed at @LMS's "gin RUMMY". Good stuff. AMEN RA! What happened to the person (forget who it was)( again, no available space!) who was going to keep track of how many times that showed up? This might be the second time this year the whole name has been in the puz.

So a sorta pseudo-tricky Thurspuz. Is this puz this constructors debut? If so, nice one Billy. If not, still a nice one, Billy!

Two F's

Unknown 9:47 AM  

I thought this puzzle was more in line with Wednesday difficulty as I knew all of the conversion factors except radians to degrees.
I was excited to see Marsha Blackburn because I knew it would trigger Rex’s Communist sympathies and I was not disappointed! Thumbs up to another great anti-American rant from our #1 hater!

Mikey from El Prado 9:52 AM  

A lot of comments regarding radians/degrees…. Along with many I have never associated radians as a metric term. I don’t think it is. It’s merely 360 degrees divided by 2π. Ιn a circle with a circumference of 360 inches, 5e circumferential length of one radian would be about 57 inches. In a circle with a circumference of 360 centimeters, the circumferential length of one radian would be 57 centimeters, so, the clue would require and additional detail to address some metric conversion.

Didn’t like BANDBS either.

faber 10:03 AM  

So do degrees. Diplomas, not so much.

Ann Howell 10:07 AM  

Snails have teeth?! Now I know where my next nightmare will come from...

Nancy 10:07 AM  

@Z -- I love your characterization of the unnecessary "PPP-izing" of ADO and EMIR in an already name-riddled puzzle. (You could argue that BASS and SYSOPS were also "PPP-ized".) But while I had your negative reaction to the above, I wouldn't have come up with your lovely new verb for it. Nice, @Z.

No, @GILL -- you are not a CRETAN (or even a cretin) for not knowing Lady Gaga's real middle name or the former Brazilian president's last name. You surely have more important matters on your AGENDA and would never choose to be so GRAM FOOLISH with your time.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

LOL. Rex trying to cancel a woman. Marsha Blackburn is twice the man OFL is.
Hooray for senator Blackburn. And hooray for Billy Bratton and his nifty puzzle.

Elaine 10:15 AM  

Aliment? Seriously? One of the few that I don't understand the answers.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

Will Nediger reminds me that our quite similar puzzle to today's was published in the Los Angeles Times. I wonder how many of you saw it there? Maybe even solved it? Anyway, I suppose there's no harm at this point in letting you know/reminding you what the theme was:

Jul 17, 2020
Friday, July 17, 2020 Nancy Stark & Will Nediger SPOILER ALERT.
(If you have access to an unsolved copy of the LAT puzzle, you might want to see if you can get a copy and not look at the theme clues and answers.)

"Artificial Replacements"

17. Minty green cocktail?: ASTROTURF HOPPER.

27. Easier to swallow?: ASPARTAME COATED.

49. Puritan preacher involved in the Salem Witch Trials?: POLYESTER MATHER.

65. 1934 Oscar-nominated film whose title hints at the wordplay in three other long answers: IMITATION OF LIFE.

Unknown 10:28 AM  

What was the significance of [~3:5]; [~57:1]; [~1:454]

Carola 10:30 AM  

Luck of the draw on the names - I knew 13 of them, didn't know 3 - put this one in the "easy" column...except that I thought I'd have to give myself a technical DNF for not knowing what non-metric unit RADIAN was replacing....until just before reading @Rex, "degree" finally showed up and bumped "diploma" out of the way. Cute theme, although considering my age and stereotypes of the elderly, "GRAM FOOLISH" cuts a little close to the bone.

Do-overs: MARtHA, GROwER. Help from previous puzzles: NAE, SYSOPS, SERVO. Wheelhouse bonanza: I even knew that fact about SNAILs.

Jacko 10:38 AM  

I liked the puzzle but agree about the fact that some of the metric units weren't necessarily metric. Question for anyone: what do the numbers in [ ] at the end of the clue indicate, e.g., KILOMETERS DAVIS (16A: "In a Silent Way" trumpeter [~3:5])?

jae 10:38 AM  

Medium-tough. I finished and then stared and then reread the theme clues and then, after a more than a few nanoseconds, got it. I had the same thoughts about the reveal and, RADIAN and diploma as @Rex et. al.

I did know ELLIS (check my blog profile to see why).

Clever, mostly liked it. Nice debut.

Charlie 10:45 AM  

Poor clues.
It's diploma mills, so you can't really get to degree to then figure out radian.
Interesting factoid: snails' teeth.

Peter P 10:48 AM  

"Degree mill" is an acceptable term. In fact, it's what I filled in first, before I grokked the theme and realized it was wrong, then filled in "diploma mill" and then, finally "radian mill" after getting the themer. Before complaining about what is and isn't a term, I wish people would fact check, or at least Google around a bit. Right in the first line of Wikipedia's article on diploma mills it says "also known as a degree mill." "Diploma mill" is the more common phrase, showing up about 4-5x the frequency of "degree mill" in the Google's English corpus, but both are acceptable (and, in certain contexts, there is a difference between them, such that "degree mill" is actually the more accurate term to fit the clue.)

That said, while I got "radian" right away after I figured out the theme*, I did furrow my brow a bit, as I never thought of radians as specifically metric, but they are an SI unit, so if that's what you define metric as being, that works.

*It was used in high school math courses, trig in particular, and it came up in our early 90s computer science classes, as the trig functions took radians as an input. There's also "gradian," which is an oddball one that defines a right angle as 100 gradians = 90 degrees = pi/2 radians. (I'm not sure if there is a discipline where it is common to refer to gradians. Oh, wait, I could look this up -- apparently is used in surveying (particularly Europe), and somewhat in mining and geology.)

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

For whatever reason, the proper nouns fell right into my wheelhouse, so it was a pretty smooth solve for me, even though I didn't suss out the theme for a while.

And I agree that radians shouldn't be there. It may not be technically wrong, but it really sticks out. Should have had TENLITERHAT or something like that.

Al 10:54 AM  

I call BS on ALIMENT. No way that is a word.

Hack mechanic 10:56 AM  

Anybody else get stuck with " no lies" for 19A? It crosses better with 7D "base" not "bass" & had no idea on the El Greco clue ( brain wanted Catalan which doesn't fit of course)

Nimbex 11:09 AM  

The proper names in this puzzle were just absurd. Who knows Lady Gaga's middle name?? If you're going to have some wacky theme, at least make the names somewhat recognizable.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

I have seen only one or two comments addressing the approximate ratios provided with each theme clue. This is really nittty but the mile to kilometer ratio is closer to 5:8 than 3:5.

The ratio in 40A (1:454) indicates the clue means weight. Two problems here. One is that GRAM is not weight, it's mass. The other is that being pound foolish refers to a monetary unit. So this one is really messy.

No opinion on RADIAN. Some here claim it is not metric.

Puzzle wasn't bad over all but the theme definitely had problems.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@Unknown @10:28 AM - "[~3:5]; [~57:1]; [~1:454]" are the conversion factors between the metric and imperial units for each of those clues.

This puzzle has some marginally correct answers (radians aren't really units at all - they're a dimensionless quantity, so it's a stretch to call them metric). It also has some which are outright wrong. A SYSOP is someone who manages computer hardware, not someone who moderates the content of user posts. "Stay-at-homes" is too much of a stretch for B&Bs with the second hyphen - it should be "stay-at homes" instead.

Also way too many names for my taste.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

The numbers in the clues, X:Y, are the approximate equivalencies of the conversion. For example 3 Miles are roughly 5 KILOMETERS.

egsforbreakfast 11:13 AM  

You might like ELI young, but to me, Pound Parsons was the best, especially his song Grievous Angle.

Maybe this has been pointed out, but the ALEKEGS clue includes the word “hoppy” which I think is meant to be a tip-off that you should be thinking IPA.

Joe Dipinto 11:22 AM  


"A number of labels are interested in signing us."

"Bruce's manager wants us to open for him on his next tour."

"We're not just doing this to pick up chicks."

Joseph Michael 11:28 AM  

Loved the factoid in the clue for SNAIL and the misdirection in the clue for BRIDAL. Also got a chuckle out of KILOMETERS DAVIS.

That about sums up what I liked about this puzzle.

My ALIMENT choices will never include escargot again.

Georgia 11:37 AM  

El Greco, born Doménikos Theotokópoulos was born in Crete but is known as a master painter while spending most of his life in Toledo, Spain.

Frantic Sloth 11:38 AM  

Never thought of SNAILs as having teeth, but then memories of a garden decimated overnight might have been a clue.
Seriously. Sharks and piranha studied AP Feeding Frenzy under a SNAIL.
And how they got under there, I'll never know.

@JD If you were bitten by a snail, it was undercooked.

🧠🧠 (another PPPOD)

floatingboy 11:43 AM  

Am I the only person that was surprised by "JELL"??????

JD 11:48 AM  

egsforbreakfast, Thanks! Parsons crossed my mind.

@kitchef has pointed out that it's the (herbivorous marine) snail Limpet that has the hard teeth. Not the GARDEN SNAIL. So we find that, "The reason limpet teeth are so hard is that when they're feeding, they actually excavate rock. In fact, if you look at their faecal pellets (JD comment, g'wan I dare you) they actually look like little concrete blocks - because by the time it's gone through their gut it's hardened."

So another sloppy clue because that's what the NYT does now. In this case, thousands of people are walking around today thinking all snails have the hardest teeth.

Deniers: Medical Definition of aliment: A food or nutrient substance. Merriam Webster

All you have to do if you don't accept Degree Mill is google it, or read various comments above.

Ω 11:49 AM  

@Anon11:09 - An 8K race is much closer to a 5 mile race than a 5K race is to a 3 mile race, so I know you’re correct. But that “~” leaves lots of wiggle room.

The all too subtle difference between “I didn’t realize RADIANS were a metric unit” and “RADIANS are not a metric unit” is one thing. But being guilty of the error long after @TTrimble explained it this morning makes the errorist look like a crank.

Mass and weight are not the same thing and yet we do the conversion all the time. Why is that?*

@Nancy - I’ve been pondering the pronunciation since I wrote that. In genteel company I suppose PeePeePize (long i). But among close friends kvetching I’m thinking something more, well, expectorated, a la Daffy Duck.

*Rhetorical and sarcastic, in case that wasn’t clear.

albatross shell 11:52 AM  

Geehossisfat! The supremely silly metric system became the International System of Units in 1960. And I am just learning about it today. And why is it the SI instead of the IS System? Because of the French who lead the world in over-analysis and grandiose self-puffery. I guess it should be SYSIU in honor of of todays NE corner. If they were sticking to their own first principles, the circle should be divided into 100 degrees and a radian should be 100/pi. Cowards.

POUND, as was pointed out above, is not a measure of weight in the saying but it is an English unit of weight as a stand alone word that can be converted to metric. And certainly we all know dieters who are ounce-wise and pound-foolish. Besides GRAMFOOLISH was the funniest answer. It also made me think of graham foolish which I feel describes people who enjoy graham crackers.

KILOMETERSDAVIS was the best answer. I really would have enjoyed having a song I knew there. RADIANMILLS was the most obscure.

Why did Rex go off on the reveal? Because once it is in the puzzle and you do not yet know the theme you do convert back to get the answer to the clue. So he missed that starting from the clue you get an answer that needs to be converted to fit in the puzzle. Conversion is a 2 way street. Well actually he saw it, but wanted to stick to his first impression as he tends to do. Consider it his morning psychosis. Except when it happens in the evening.

OFCOURSE TOPTIER: GROCER MIRTH AGENDA SNAIL (Also unbelievable fact of the day. Not as squishy as their terrestrial counterparts?) SERVO PISCES MAKEME NOLESS WELLSEE

Is BASS a role? It is played.
Does NUDESxRUMMY pass the breakfast test?
Do we say AMEN to all all-powerful gods?

Obscurities: ADO ELI ALIMENT SYSOPS (as clued).

31D and 49A could be clues for each other. Unless 49A is a plural noun and has no singular usage. To whomsoever - I'm becoming quite fond of hypercorrections. Lie'em on me.

I enjoyed Ms. Blackburn because she mostly made 1A a gimmie. Had to do the MARtHA SKORT two-step too.

Luckily I had previous experience with the gel-JELL dance.

Yes the metric system is good for scientific conversions. Not always particularly apt for everyday usage or convenient fractions. The silliness. Read about what they did to determine the length of a meter. Then mostly used a steel bar (or some such) at a fixed temperature as official. To get a length a few inches different than a yard. Now based on atomic measures. Also Olympic Committee went metric and decided to have races of 100, 200, 400, and 800 meters. Then went to 1500 meters instead of 1600 meters which would be very close to the fabled mile run. Not that I'm one to hold a grudge for more than 6 or 7 decades.

jberg 11:52 AM  

@Jacko -- I was amazed that no one before you asked or explained those ratios. They are approximate conversion factors. For example, there are about 454 grams in a pound, 5 miles is about 3 kilometers (3.1, really, but the puzzle is sticking to integers) and 57 degrees in a radian. Up to now, everyone who realized this is just assuming that everyone else did as well, while those who didn't. This is true of @Rex, he notices it but doesn't think it needs explaining. Once you know what's going on, it makes it easier to find the answers.

@D Peck, that's a feature, not a bug. Miles Davis is not a unit of length, either, nor is the degree produced by diploma mills the measure of an angle.

But if you didn't know ADO Annie: here are the lyrics to her famous song:

It ain't so much a question of not knowin' what to do
I knowed what's right an' wrong since I been ten.
I heared a lot of stories an' I reckon they are true
About how girls are put upon by men.
I know I mustn't fall into the pit
But when I'm with a feller, I fergit!

I'm just a girl who cain't say 'No'
I'm in a terrible fix!
I always say 'Come on, let's go'
just when I oughta say 'Nix.'
When a person tries to kiss a girl
I know she oughta give his face a smack!
But as soon as someone kisses me
I somehow sorta wanna kiss him back!
I'm just a fool when lights are low
I cain't be prissy an' quaint
I ain't the type that can faint
How can I be what I ain't?
I cain't say 'No!'

Whatcha gonna do when a feller gets flirty
An' starts to talk purty
Whatcha gonna do?
Sposin' that he says
That your lips are like cherries,
Or roses, or berries?
Whatcha gonna do?
Sposin' that he says
That yer sweeter 'n cream
and he's gotta have cream or die?
Whatcha gonna do when he talks that way?
Spit in his eye?

I'm jist a girl who cain't say 'No',
Cain't seem to say it at all
I hate to disserpoint a beau
When he is payin' a call!
Fer a while I ack refined and cool,
A settin on the velveteen setee
Nen I think of thet ol' Golden Rule,
And do fer him what he would do fer me!
I cain't resist a Romeo
In a sombrero and chaps
Soon as I sit on their laps
Somethin' inside of me snaps
I cain't say 'No'!

[Additional Verse]
I'm jist a girl who cain't say 'No'
Kissin's my favorite food!
With or without the mistletoe
I'm in a holiday mood!
Other girls are coy an' hard to catch
But other girls ain't havin' any fun!
Ev'ry time I lose a wrastlin' match
I have a funny feelin' that I won!
Though I can feel the undertoe
I never make a complaint
Till it's too late for restraint
Then when I want to, I cain't
I cain't say 'No!'

Not a stan, but certainly a fan of Lady Gaga -- it was her album of duets with Tony Bennett that won me over. So I follow her on twitter, and at one point she was posting a lot about an album titled "JOANNE." That helped me figure that one out.

OK, all you math types -- of course it is true that everyone learned about the RADIAN in high school. But it is also true that almost everyone completely forgot about it. Having taught university undergraduates for 42 years, I eventually came to realize that many non-math, non-science majors take math and science only because they are required, do not believe that they will ever need that knowledge again, and so forget as much of it as they can.

What I learned today:

1. Snails have teeth.
2. The official name for the "metric system" is SI System. Or should it be SI Systême?

bocamp 11:59 AM  

@Trey (8:30 AM)

Related to the NYT Spelling Bee: yd = yesterday; td = today; pg = pangrammatic genius; (-n) = number of words not yet discovered; 0 = all words discovered. A fun and challenging puzzle for some of us. For others, a useless time sink. lol

Thx to @kitshef (8:42 AM) & @JD (11:48 AM) for the SNAIL limpet explanation.

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Whatsername 11:59 AM  

I always like to celebrate a debut but this one didn’t exactly fill my MORN with MIRTH. Plodding and painful. It’s a great idea for a theme and Miles DAVIS was dazzling but the other two just clunked.

* MARSHA Marsha Bobarsha, banana fanna Fofarcia, Fee fie foe Mar-sha. OF COURSE that won’t work as well with JOANNE.

* Written and performed by Shirley ELLIS, NO LESS.

Crimson Devil 12:00 PM  

Wonder who figured out A) that SNAILs have teeth, and B) where they fall on Mohs scale?

mathgent 12:01 PM  

I don't think that radians are used in standard high-school geometry. In fact, no units of angle measure at all. Degrees are used in the exercises, not the theorems. Radians are first used in Calculus, I believe.

I liked the puzzle. Nice theme, smart cluing. It could have used more sparkle, though.

I was amused to see the imperturbable Lewis react harshly to the word "radian."

mathgent 12:11 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Nancy (10:20)
TTrimble (6:41)
JoeDiPinto (11:22)
jberg (11:52)

What the...? 12:18 PM  

@kitshef- The Incredible Mr. Limpet is one of my favorite movies.

Babs 12:19 PM  

Sadly, this one put a spanner in the works. Would've rather used my virtual secateurs to convert it to paper hundreds and thousands.

James K. Lowden 12:21 PM  

The clue includes approximate conversion ratios. It’s true grams are 2 orders of magnitude smaller than pounds (on earth), but the clue does suggest multiplying by 454. 🥸

I.M. Limpet 12:27 PM  

I beg your pardon!

old timer 12:39 PM  

I got the revealer and went back and literally converted to metric in order to get KILOMETER and RADIAN. Which made my last answers NO LESS (poor clue there) and STOOD and ELLIS, though I really should know ELLIS, just as I know "Acton" Bell. So OFL has it backwards, for me. He also mystifies me with his rejection of ALE KEGS. Right there in Binghamton there are probably half a dozen pubs that feature British beers, shipped over here in English or Scottish ALE KEGS.

Or were, before the recent unpleasantness played HOB with shipping good things across the Atlantic. Now we ALE lovers have to go to the old Placebo and Tentacle.

It is true that "pound FOOLISH" refers to a unit or currency, not a weight that can be converted to GRAMs. But then, the English POUND was once, in the distant past, a POUND of silver -- that's why the currency is called the POUND Sterling. It's equivalent across the Channel was the French livre. Note that the Latin American pesos also refer to weights of silver or gold: Peso is the Spanish word for weight.

albatross shell 12:40 PM  

Many thanks for those lyrics.
SI System or Systeme, both are laughably redundant. Doesn't SI stand for syteme Internationale (my keyboard is difficult for those pronouciation marks or whatever they are). So I mostly avoided using SI System. I mean System International System. What kind of shit is that? Or am I making a hypercorrection or a ignorant one? More metric French silliness.

Forgot to mention. I was really dooked by BANDBS. I really thought BAND BS would be a good description of the BASS clue. Otherwise no idea for way too long.

GILL I. 12:58 PM  

And now, thanks to @JD, I can't get an image of a little snail pooping pebbles out of his little arse. Do I need to inspect my escargot next time I plop it I my mouth?
@Joe Dip....Good ones and a nicely needed laugh on your BAND BS. I only like singing in the rain?
@Whatsername: banana fanna fofarcia...HAH!

BarbieBarbie 12:59 PM  

Anon@846, “use outside of trigonometry [being) pretty limited” say what?!? Use INside of trigonometry covers such a huge part of anything technical, pretty much everything except the stuff you do with colored pencils and making up stories about why people evolved with celiac disease, that the radian can be thought of as pretty much universally useful.

@TTrimble, you said it all, except for me the guilty pleasure is yelling “AFFECT!” whenever a meteorologist in a rubber dress says a weather system will “impact” us. And I do realize this is only OK because nobody except my lifelong partner can hear me. Same people who don’t hear me saying “good night, Lester” or see me waving to Lester Holt. We actually both do both of those things.

Tim Aurthur 1:09 PM  

Diploma could be a unit, ie the maximum amount of dollars you can get ripped off by Trump University. Eg, "That sucker is in for a whole diploma haha."

Masked and Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Learned lotsa neat new stuff, today, which is always a usually good thing.
Fave new info:

1. SNAILs teeth are stronger than snot. Luv it and plan to use it, for high difficulty puzs, which will hereby be referred to as "hard as snails teeth", in M&A litterature.

2. RADIANs can be a metric(al) thingy. To quote a possibly reputable Google source: "The radian (180 degrees divided by pi) is the SI derived unit of angle in the metric system." This begs the question, what SI means, tho. M&A decided it meant Sports Illustrated. Also, the 180/pi part means than nobody knows the exact value of a radian ... sorta like a bitcoin, I reckon.

3. Lady Gaga can also be referred to as Lady ESS-JAG. Cool.

ALIMENT weren't too snail-toothy on the nanosecs at our house, on account of the more famous Alimentary Canal. Which is the entire piehole to poopchute route.

staff weeject pick: ERO. Of only 10 half-liters out of a 68-worder ThursPuz, btw. Better, not-as-suffixy, clue: {Ore upstream??}. Valid better clue, as ERO is a Down answer.

OK, OK, Everybody just simmer down over this revealer thingy. Yer problem is OFCOURSE that there word "interpret" in the revealer's clue -- "Interpret" can mean a snootful of shady-different things. It's just tryin to toy with us a little, that's all. MILESDAVIS gets CONVERTed to KILOMETERSDAVIS interpretation, e.g. No biggie, dudes & darlins.

fave sparkly spots included: OFCOURSE. WELLSEE (debut entry). MAKEME. DIYERS.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Bratton dude. And congratz on yer fine debut -- U have hereby been converted, at the tender age of 18.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Nancy 1:15 PM  

BAND BS -- Your examples are so funny, @Joe D!

A 1:16 PM  

Well, it was good idea. I’ll give it an A for concept and a B+ for effort, but the problems with execution dragged it into “Wish it had been REDONE” territory.

I liked the spanners KILOMETERS DAVIS and CONVERT TO METRIC, and the excellent clue for AGENDA.

Extra credit for not cluing MEET cutely.

I did lift a brow at the iffy inclusion of RADIANS as metric and the GRAM-pound exchange. Full-on side-eye to both ALE KEGS and the idea of the BRIDE’s side being BRIDAL. Although, BRIDAL opens some interesting possibilities for the groom’s side: groomish, groomate, groomalian. “I don't care if you seat me in the groomery or on the BRIDAL side. Just make sure the ALE KEGS are iced.” (Hmm - what does a full-on side-eye look like?)

GRAMFOOLery - ladies’ night out for the AARP crowd?

I resisted, but am coming to terms with, JELL as “Work well together” and the fact that snails have teeth. Did not know limpets are snails, or that Mr. Limpet is a PISCES.

OTIS “R&B great Redding” was in yesterday’s puzzle, on the eve of his birthday. He would be 80 years old. Found a song that SEEMED appropriate: 1,609.344 KILOMETERS Away

Teedmn 1:19 PM  

Like @kitshef, I headed for the NE after making no headway with 1A or 13A. I read the clue for 15A twice, said, "Aha" and splatzed in "Faberge". Right, very sweet eggs! When no crosses worked (I wasn't sure if BASS was what 7D was looking for) I took it out and saw CADBURY. You'd think I'd remember that, having ridden my bicycle past the factory on the road to Killarney in Ireland. Granted, that was in 2003...

40A, I was working on whether there were 454 GRAMs in an ounce or in a POUND (I know my metric units but was momentarily befuddled). FOOLISH took some time to fill in so I was on tenterhooks waiting to find out which conversion was correct.

Had a bit of difficulty parsing TOPTIER. I didn't want to put in that second T because I thought the clue was leading to an adjective with that IER ending. TOPTIER, not lofTIER. Oh, TOP TIER, got it.

Thanks, Billy Bratton, and congrats on the debut. (Fewer names next time, please.)

EdFromHackensack 1:23 PM  

Congrats Billy! I have socks older than you. KILOMETERSDAVIS was brilliant and made me put on the Kind of Blue album.

Trey 1:26 PM  

These are the conversion factors from one unit to another. 3 miles equals about 5 kilometers

JD 1:28 PM  

@Gill, You're welcome. However, this just in on the edible snail:

"Snails and slugs eat with a jaw and a flexible band of thousands of microscopic teeth, called a radula. The radula scrapes up, or rasps, food particles and the jaw cuts off larger pieces of food, like a leaf, to be rasped by the radula."

Regular snails, tiny, flexible teeth, not hard. That's why Don Knotts had to be fitted with special teeth for his star turn in The Incredible Mr. LIMPET.

Now if we can just settle on Radian. So far, @T.Trimble comes at with the most convincing case. To review "it seems to be so designated by the relevant deliberative body (the General Conference on Weights and Measures) ...

That's going to be tough to beat.

brendal 1:30 PM  

Regarding 1. Across:
I love you, man.

brendal 1:31 PM  

Wonderful ❤️

Peter P 1:35 PM  

@mathgent - We learned radians in the trigonometry portion of pre-cal. That was junior year, if I recall correctly.

@floatingboy - "Jell" showed up several weeks ago in the NYTimes. It left enough of an impression on me to remember it for this puzzle as, like you, I was surprised by it, always thinking it was spelled "gel" even in that usage. I guess not.

ALIMENTARY being clued as "quaint" instead of "archaic" does irk me. "Quaint," at least for me, carries more connotations of old-timey, folksy language, not specifically archaic words. While "archaic" may cover that ground technically, it just doesn't feel right. "Vittles" or "victuals" to me are "food, quaintly." "ALIMENT" is "food, archaically." At least that is my impression of how "quaint" is used. It may well cover much more ground outside my spheres of language.

Trey 1:36 PM  

Thanks a ton - enjoy that puzzle a lot. I can often get to genius level but never get close to all the words. Maybe something to aspire to

Tim Aurthur 1:40 PM  

Alimony is derived from ALIMENT. Literally, money for food.

Trey 1:42 PM  

KILOMETERSDAVIS was roundly applauded today and GRAMFOOLISH was often decried as horrible, despite the fact that the first name Miles has no more to do with distance than pound has to do with weight (or mass) [other than the derivation of the English pound]. As noted somewhere above by someone else, the conversion is related to the word that is the same as the word for a unit of measurement, and not really to a unit itself

sixtyni yogini 1:44 PM  

No just No.

(But yes, constructor has a future in this stuff if desired.)

DigitalDan 1:58 PM  

@Unknown: Communist sympathies? Really? Hyperbole much?

Hartley70 2:05 PM  

@Trey 1:36, yup, I always quit at genius. It’s all my tiny ego needs to hear each day.

Amrit 2:43 PM  

* Agreed that we are really converting *from* metric. The issue could also have been solved by phrasing the revealer as something like "What you have to do to *arrive at* the answers to..." = "convert to metric"
* Also agreed with another poster who remarked on the remarkable fact fact about snail teeth. I did not know either, and my 5-year-old is going to love hearing about it.
* Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle. "B and Bs" took me the longest to get.

bocamp 2:50 PM  

@Trey 1:36 PM
yw 😊

Updated SB study list.

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

pabloinnh 3:03 PM  

@Trey, @Hartley70. Me too. This is by far the most sensible approach.

Unless, unless....I'm at maybe five or so to go for QB, and then I'll slave away at it far too long and end up at one or two to go and then discover the next day that what I was missing is something I don't consider to be a word at all.

And yet I persist.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

I see some of the issues with RADIANs and the clue, but I feel like Rex *and* most of the commenters are forgetting that in addition to being a measure of temperature, degrees are also the units used to measure *angles* (hence, radians).

Florida boy 3:19 PM  

I didn’t know the people of Tennessee had chosen such an awful person to represent them in DC. By now, you’d think all the New York people moving there would have elected someone acceptable and upright like Schumer or Gillibrand.

Tim Carey 3:20 PM  

Radian is not a metric unit. It is a universal measure of angle. The are 2*PI radians in a circle, equal to 360 degrees. Nothing to do with the metric system of measurement.

okanaganer 3:22 PM  

In Canada we live with the metric system, but the good ol' imperial units just won't go away. At the deli counter the price of ham is in grams, but in the meat dept shelves chicken thighs are posted in pounds. Why?

Metric definitely has its flaws. The worst is that every unit seems to have at least 3 or 4 syllables: pound, mile, inch vs ki-lo-gram, ki-lo-met-re, cen-ti-me-tre. But the advantages are huge if you have to do calculations.

Which reminds me, we really have to do something about our system of time. How many hours between Feb 12 and Sept 9? Horrible calculation. Computers get around that by keeping track of time as the number of milliseconds elapsed since midnight Jan 1 1970. So you can simply subtract one time from another. What time is it? Why, it's 1631215124295.

Tim Carey 3:30 PM  

Appropriate MKS or SI units for angular momentum are kilogram metres squared per second (kg-m2/sec). For a given object or system isolated from external forces, the total angular momentum is a constant, a fact that is known as the law of conservation of angular momentum.
https://www.britannica.com › science

DJones 3:39 PM  

A difficult puzzle for me...'convert to metric' works well if convert is read as a noun, no?

The Cleaver 4:11 PM  

@Florida boy:
By now, you’d think all the New York people moving there would have elected someone acceptable and upright like Schumer or Gillibrand.

Remember, only people from shithole countries are emigrating here, The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) swears by it. Same is true, state to state. Just as no one from Norway is dumb enough to come here, no one from a Blue State is dumb as a sack of hair to go to a shithole state like Tennessee. The shithole states lie like a rug about the tsunami of Blue Staters just itching to live where the toilet is an outhouse and the water comes from a creek down hill from a hundred other outhouses. Jeeze Louise.

Interesting factoid: in at least two Commonwealth countries, Canada and Australia, it's the law that provincial governments can close borders with other provinces. Covid has caused that to happen. How many other Commonwealth countries take such advantage, I know not.

The Modern Gal 4:55 PM  

As a lifelong Tennessean, I never want to see that A1 clue or answer again.

Lefty 5:21 PM  

Any current senator is welcome in a puzzle from Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz. I’m glad Shortz doesn’t listen to the haters on either side. Also. Vaccine Mandates are the new Jim Crow but I’d welcome the term in the puzzle. Keep it fresh I say.

Anonymous 5:39 PM  

No problem with the convert to - you get the answer, then you convert to metric. So you figure out Miles Davis, then you convert to metric for...

Radians are NOT metric. They are a different (and when you get to complicated maths, a more tractable form of measuring angles), but THEY ARE NOT METRIC.

It's sort of like saying "translate to French", but then one answer is in Italian.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Sorry for piling on about radians, but I must.

Pounds are used in the English system, grams in the metric.

Miles are used in the English system, kilometers in the metric.

Radians and degrees can both be used as measures of an angle in the English system; radians and degrees can both be used as measures of angles in the metric system.

Yes, radians are a measure used in the metric system, but the conversion from degrees to radians is a totally different type of conversion from the other two conversions.


Lefty 5:52 PM  

5:21 post should’ve written Vaccine PASSPORTS, akin to Voter ID laws, are the new Jim Crow. Vaccine mandates are another story and the jury is out. Sorry bout that. My error. I sounded like a wing nut LOL.

albatross shell 6:07 PM  

If you take "the answers to the" theme clues to mean the correct answers to the clues in the real world (MILESDAVIS, say), then you have to convert to metric to get the correct letters that go in the puzzle.

If you take "the answers in the" theme clues to mean the letters you put in the puzzle KILOMETERSDAVIS), then you are converting the opposte way to get the answers in the real world.

Remember [I forget who's] maxim or theorem that if a clue or answer can be interpreted so it works, then it does work. The corollary is this is true of themes too. So interpret the way first way and it works. Both ways work. Only one correctly.

Anonymous 6:19 PM  

What a crap puzzle. Radians are not part of the metric system, they are simply a different way of measuring angles. This puzzle has only three theme answers, and one of them is simply wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it isn't even based on a real phrase (as Rex points out, the phrase is DIPLOMA MILLS, not DEGREE MILLS).

Add that to so very much crap fill and you get one of the worst puzzles the NY Times has run in a long time, and that's a pretty high bar to clear

albatross shell 6:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
albatross shell 6:35 PM  

The radian the SI unit for measuring angles, and is the standard unit of angular measure used in many areas of mathematics. The unit was formerly an SI supplementary unit (before that category was abolished in 1995) and the radian is now an SI derived unit.[2] The radian is defined in the SI as being a dimensionless value, and its symbol is accordingly often omitted, especially in mathematical writing.

From wikiedia thus good enuf for CWs. At least NYTCWs. SI is basically the metric system or so it seems to me. The idea is not new to the world but neither is length or weight.

Liz 6:37 PM  

Yep. The first answer a boobie nitwit. Ugh.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

I couldn’t get radian, probably because degree mill didn’t come to mind, either.

Space Is Deep 7:16 PM  

IN A SILENT WAY is one of most well known and respected Miles Davis albums. It was groundbreaking. I highly recommend it!

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

Saw all of the proper nouns and thought i was sunk, but ended up slogging through and finishing. Didnt know Blackburn, Clea, El Greco, Lady Gagas middle name, country music band, rat from the movie, ellis belle, the nea nae. Fortunately got enough crosses to deduce these. Dont know aliment and alekegs as words, but (as an aerospace engineer) did know radian and surprisingly Orly. Not being a consumer of pop culture these heavily named puzzles often crush me, but somehow overcame it today.

Le Chifforobe 8:01 PM  

I am very upset there wasn't room for the CORRECT answer to 30A, "Animal whose teeth are the strongest substance in the natural world":



Anonymous 8:11 PM  

Wow Rex , you have to vent your liberal bile.Guess that makes you a Hillary fan. The evil Clintons, really.

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

Rex didn't notice that "pound" was a currency unit, not a metric one, because he was too busy going off on Marsha Blackburn. . . Again, a clue's relevancy means NOTHING. . . It MUST be politically agreeable to Mr. Parker - A slippery slope, friends. . . Good Day.

A 8:50 PM  

@Le Chifforobe, neat article. (@Z, the author is an ultimate frisbee enthusiast.) Now I know there's a mollusk called "wandering meatloaf" AND a mineral called "santabarbaraite." As entertaining as these monikers are, it might just be time to stop allowing scientists, and especially computer geeks, to name their discoveries.

@Anon/Villager, thank you for reinforcing my vague recollection of those terms, and explaining why I had a mental question mark as I filled in RADIAN. A good example of why this one seemed to have more spit than polish.

A 8:56 PM  

@Joe D, awesome (and sad) BAND BS!!!

Unknown 9:42 PM  

You folks realize that the constructor clearly put MARSHA Blackburn in there just to piss rex off, right?

I thought today's was hard, and the number of esoteric proper names is probably why.

RJO'H 10:36 PM  

If you search "are radians metric units" you will learn that -

"Although the radian is a unit of measure, it is a dimensionless quantity. This can be seen from the definition given earlier: the angle subtended at the centre of a circle, measured in radians, is equal to the ratio of the length of the enclosed arc to the length of the circle's radius."

Degrees and radians are used in both the english and metric systems.

Ω 11:19 PM  

Jesus, will the Errorists ever shut up?

The List of Metric Units. Why, yessiree there’s RADIAN. And, what? Degree isn’t listed? Wow. It’s almost as if someone pointed this out 16 hours ago. Never let facts get in the way of exposing your ignorance I always say.

Ω 11:23 PM  

@A - Well, I like her then.

TTrimble 11:51 PM  

At first, I was surprised by the RADIAN clue as well. I had never heard of that described as a metric system (SI) unit either.

And then I looked it up.

Look up International System of Units in Wikipedia. Read the information. Follow the links. Learn something new.

td 0

Looking forward to reading the comments on tomorrow's puzzle. Whoo-wee!

Mae 8:25 AM  

Hated it. I feel ripped off when puzzle misuses words (alekegs? Radian mills? Gram foolish?

Amrit 3:20 PM  

Amrit from 2:43 PM again here.

Just realized that this was made by a freshman from my alma mater. Go Billy! Go Knights!

Sian 9:33 PM  

We bought groceries by the pound growing up in London. Then the Man decided we were switching to metric. Suddenly all the pound bags of flour and sugar disappeared, replaced by 454 gram bags of flour and sugar...

MrDave 1:18 PM  

Radians are NOT a metric unit. How did they not catch this?

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