Friday, May 26, 2023

Friday, May 26, 2023, Hemant Mehta

What a fun Friday! I don't really have a more favored style of puzzle between themeless and themed, but a really great themeless can really sparkle. And today's merits a comment of "Smart!" (VERYCLEVER).

So many wonderful colloquial phrases, including AMITOOLATE, NOTONEWORD (always reminds me of "Bullets Over Broadway"), and ICOMEINPEACE

Also, the slang is excellent: MERCYRULE is a longstanding phrase, but I'd never seen HOTDESKED before. And PLAYERHATERS is pretty well established, but I more commonly see it only with the second half.

I was pretty sure that 1A would be OMANI, but was briefly held up by 1D: Shaped like this answer's first letter, say (OVAL), because I misread it as referring to the clue's first answer. Fortunately that old piece of crosswordese, ARIL, helped open the corner up.

25A: Tragic flaw for Oedipus (HUBRIS) is a wonderful ROI (reference of interest - c.f. Frannie's entry in our vocab post). That caused me to look up the definition, as I had an idea of what it meant but was uncertain. Hubris is excessive pride toward, or defiance of, the gods, leading to nemesis (downfall). In Oedipus's case, his hubris was that he could ignore the fate set in store for him by the gods, when all of his actions led directly to that fate. Tough situation, you might say.


39A: Teacher's sleeve, in a pinch (ERASER) made me chuckle. 30D: Pursues a passion? (MAKESLOVE) made me raise an eyebrow. But here, the meaning is the more Victorian concept of wooing, rather than engaging in physical amorous activity.

10D: Knowledge, or a means to acquire it (SCHOLARSHIP) is an example of a kind of clue that I am increasingly appreciative of. It highlights the flexibility of the English language (I'm assuming other languages also have some flexibility as well, but I think that English is more so). 

I did not have to use BRUTEFORCE to finally finish the NW, but there was a moment where I was worried I was headed in that direction. Seeing SLAP helped open the rest. For a hot second I had CHoCKS and was trying to convince myself that it would work. Until I realized it was CHICKS.

- Colum


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this one! New to me? NOISE MUSIC as a real genre, and HOT DESKED. But they were fun to learn, and the crossings were super-fair. Love the grid, enjoyed the clues (especially the one for MAKES LOVE -- a lovely entry, I think) -- and I COME IN PEACE is super.

  2. Yeah, wow. The NE was brutal for me. Almost completely empty when the rest of it was filled in, but I shut the laptop, did something else, came back and finally saw CHICKS, then realized it was RHINE not RHoNE (derp), and slowly, slowly, the rest fell.

    And fwiw, I think MAKESLOVE could be Victorian or contemporary. And poor Oedipus... he didn't know! At least that's how I read it...

  3. This was fun and I didn't find it too difficult (6:06). I tried hard to fit HOTELLED or some such into the 'shared a workspace' clue, to no avail of course. Since our office has re-opened since COVID, we've tried to HOTDESK but it's a bit of a farce; everybody comes in on the same days and always grabs the same desks, which are basically vacant on Mondays and Fridays. Interesting that owls can't swivel their eyes - I guess their necks have evolved extra-flexible for that reason..