12D. IIII, rather than IV, represents the number four on some clocks and sundials for a couple of reasons. In ancient Rome, it was considered bad form to use a number that was an abbreviation of the deity Jupiter’s name, which was written IVPPITER. Later on, the usage continued for aesthetic reasons: watchmakers believed that IIII (instead of IV) made the face look more symmetrical with the eight (VIII) on the opposite side.
46D. This “Dr. out of Compton, Calif.” is Dr. DRE. He was a member of the hip-hop group N.W.A., which released the album “Straight Outta Compton” 35 years ago, in August 1988.
47D. The “Snap with a stick” is a SELFIE (snap is a British synonym for photo) that is being taken using a SELFIE stick.
54D. “Standing on the street” does not refer to just loitering on the corner. This clue hints at someone’s street CRED, or people’s perception of that person.
Very happy to be making my debut!
If you look closely, you’ll see that you can draw a giant X through the five squares that contain an X. Incorporating this final touch, as well those five theme answers, was quite a challenge. I constructed a ton of iterations of this puzzle. I believe this is the only arrangement that would allow for any sort of quality fill, and I feel lucky it worked out.
There were some clues I wrote that I wished had made the cut, such as 17-Across, which I clued as “Place to build a paper plane?” I also tried to incorporate all the theme entries in the 59-Across revealer: “Common directive in a 17-Across involving 10- and 38-Down, and a hint for five squares in this puzzle.” Not sure why they shortened it; maybe it was just too many words. The clue on 14-Across is brilliant — I wish I’d written it.
Shout out to my best friend, Anand, and his wife, Mia, who are math professors at Oklahoma State University. I hope they and all the other math nerds out there (myself included) get a kick out of this!
Don’t Fear the Fridays: About the Easy Mode Newsletter
Christina Iverson, a puzzle editor, will send a weekly Friday crossword with more accessible clues right to your inbox if you sign up for the Easy Mode newsletter. This extra bit of goodness is for those who would like to try the Friday puzzles but have heard all about how hard they are.