1962 #1 hit that the BBC once deemed "too morbid" to play / FRI 12-2-22 / Banks who coined the term "smizing" / Inclination to prioritize new events over historical ones / What a camera emoji in an Instagram caption often signifies

1962 #1 hit that the BBC once deemed "too
morbid" to play / FRI 12-2-22 / Banks who coined the term
"smizing" / Inclination to prioritize new events
over historical ones / What a camera emoji in an Instagram caption
often signifies
Constructor: Scott Earl

Relative difficulty: Easy (once again, Very easy)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: MELBA toast (1D: Toast opening?) —
Melba toast is a dry, crisp and thinly sliced toast, often served with soup and salad or topped with either melted cheese or pâté. It is named after Dame Nellie Melba, the stage name of Australian opera singer Helen Porter Mitchell. Its name is thought to date from 1897, when the singer was very ill and it became a staple of her diet. The toast was created for her by chef and fan Auguste Escoffier, who also created the Peach Melba dessert for her. The hotel proprietor César Ritz supposedly named it in a conversation with Escoffier.

Melba toast is made by lightly toasting slices of bread under a grill, on both sides. The resulting toast is then sliced laterally. These thin slices are then returned to the grill with the untoasted sides towards the heat source, resulting in toast half the normal thickness. Thus, it can be described as a thrice-baked food (see rusk).

Melba toast is also available commercially, and was at one time given to infants who were teething as a hard food substance on which to chew.

In France, it is referred to as croûtes en dentelle. (wikipedia)

• • •

Really loved this grid but once again the puzzle was way too easy. The clues didn't seem to be really trying. There was a name I didn't know (if the TASHA isn't Yar, I'm out) (46A: Actress Smith of "Why Did I Get Married?"), but I steered around that no problem, and everything else went in about as fast as I could read the clues. I am *not* getting better at crosswords, just to put that theory to rest. If anything, I am at the ONSET of my "slowing-down" phase. I gave up speed-solving for the most part and now just walk through the grid ... and yet even at a walking pace I was done in no time. I won't go on about the commercially-driven easing-up of difficulty at the NYTXW today, but it's definitely a thing. Maybe they'll at least reserve Saturday as a Genuinely Tough day (please?). Or else we just continue the slow descent into Everyone Gets a Ribbon—A-ticket rides as far as the eye can see. I took one look at 1A: 1962 #1 hit that the BBC once deemed "too morbid" to play and immediately thought "MONSTER MASH" and almost as immediately thought "well, that's ridiculous, can't be right." But then I decided, "eh, just test it." And sure enough:

After that, the whole NW corner went down with only the NEATO for NIFTY hiccup (not super-thrilled to actually run into NEATO later on—it's like successfully avoiding someone you don't want to see and then rounding a corner and running smack into them: "Oh ... hi there ... I ... bye!"). I tried to make the first live broadcast of the House of Representatives happen on ESPNU, so that was weird (it's CSPAN, of course). Kinda wanted 44ASilly ones (GOOFS) to be GEESE except I already had GOO- in place, so I tried GOONS (?) for maybe a second or two. Hesitated on what word was gonna come after PHOTO at 62A: What a camera emoji in an Instagram caption often signifies (PHOTO CREDIT). I have now covered literally every part of the puzzle that gave me even the slightest problem. Speed-solving me might've set a Friday record with this one, or come close, anyway. 

It's too bad the puzzle didn't make me slow down at least a little, because then I might've gotten to really get that aha feeling of discovery when I got all the good stuff, like that fantastic "I CAN'T WATCH!" / "NO SPOILERS!" pairing in the middle of the grid (30A: Comment made with eyes closed, perhaps / 42A: "Don't tell me what happens yet!"). And with HATES ON as the creamy center in between! That is such a great screen-watching onslaught of terms (I assume the viewer is at the movies with a friend who has already seen the movie, and they're watching a horror movie with a lot of jump scares, and she ends up hating—your internal narrative may vary). There are no weak parts of this grid (well, I never like ETERNE, but that's just one answer). No thrown-away, phoned-in corners. Brightness everywhere you turn, from LIFETIME BAN (17A: Highest bar?)* in the north to RECENCY BIAS (58A: Inclination to prioritize new events over historical ones) in the south, with a lot of lesser but still plenty-bright moments in between. Just tighten up the clues a bit, would you? It should take me more than five minutes to solve a Friday at my normal strolling pace. 

Bullet points:
  • 12A: Supplements supplier (GNC) — I always—always—have a "GMC?" moment with GNC (and vice versa)
  • 20A: Like Chicago, geographically (UPSTATE) — I was not aware that anyone but New York had an UPSTATE. People like to argue which parts of New York are included in the term UPSTATE. It's a very boring argument.
  • 56D: Banks who coined the term "smizing" (TYRA) — TYRA Banks is the creator and host of "America's Next Top Model" (although it looks like one recent season was hosted by crossword stalwart Rita Ora!). "Smizing" is ... well, here, I'll let her tell you:
["smiling with the eyes"]

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*I assume [Highest bar?] both because a LIFETIME BAN is the "highest" (or "longest") amount of time that they can "bar" you for, and also probably because the reason you got banned was because you were the "highest" person in the "bar" and ... mistakes were made.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

* This article was originally published here


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