Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: E-M-P-T-Y - Notepad says: "When this puzzle is done, unscramble the five circled letters to find out how the circles could have been left with the puzzle's solution still being correct"

I had no idea about the theme while I was doing the puzzle. Never looked at the Notepad, though I saw it up there in the upper left corner of my AcrossLite version of the puzzle, all yellowy and beckoning. I was thrilled to finish in under 6 (a very good Thursday time for me), and nearly forgot to look at the Notepad to see what the fuss was supposed to be about. I had already anagrammed the circled letters to get EMPTY, but didn't know what it meant. I have to say that I am massively impressed with the theme (despite its being entirely irrelevant to my solving experience). I think having read the Notepad ahead of time might actually have slowed me down, causing me to overthink things that didn't require much thinking at all. Yet again I'm disappointed with the difficulty level of the puzzle this week. Too easy. One insane word: OCREA (54D: Papery sheath on a plant stem), and then a smattering of oddities like LEAL (60A: Faithful, to a Scot) and ESKERS (34A: Glacial ridges), but other than that - cake.

Theme answers:

  • 5A: Nickname for a namesake of Mary's husband - JOE(Y)
  • 8D: Not their - (Y)OUR
  • 24A: Resettle - (E)MIGRATE
  • 24D: Fix - (E)MEND
  • 28A: Serious - SO(M)BER
  • 29D: One of a candy box duo - (M)IKE
  • 53A: Roly-poly - RO(T)UND
  • 55D: Protective protrusion - (T)HORN
  • 56A: Defiling - S(P)OILING
  • 42D: Sticky stuff - GOO(P)

Not thrilled with TSU (48A: The Tigers of the Ohio Valley Conf.), not least because I cannot identify the university. Looks like it's Tennessee State... [cough]. Yuck. Then you have the fact of this answer's double redundancy, as there is already one U. (ORU - 6D: Sch. in Tulsa, Okla.) and also a TSO (49A: General for whom a style of chicken is named) in the grid. Had no clue about OCREA, but loved that all the Downs in the SW were botanical. SMOLDER (47D: Smoke a little) and SCALD (9A: Burn, in a way) go nicely together, I'm weary of TSK in all its forms (1D: Finger wagger's sound), and JACKALS is a great word (5D: Crooks' lackeys), though I've never heard it used as clued. Nice that it goes through MEN'S CLUB (30A: Strip joint, euphemistically), though the more common phrase has got to be GENTLEMEN'S CLUB.


  • 1A: Mythical hammer wielder (Thor) - I believe this is the name of commenter Seth's new baby. Right? Right? THOR is NORSE (38A: Like 1-Across) and also one letter shy of THORN (55D)
  • 16A: "Institutiones Calculi Integralis" writer (Euler) - the dude wrote in Latin? Just keep doing the puzzle, and eventually, I guess we'll learn EULER's entire life story.
  • 20A: Unauthorized preview, say (leak) - wanted PEEK
  • 32A: Joan Miro's "L'_____" (été) - that's one weird clue, with that choked-off "L'" just hanging there.
  • 33A: Prefix for many cold-weather product names (sno-) - are SNO-Caps a "cold-weather" product?
  • 44A: Part of a veterinarian's job (dosing) - whoa, this one took me aback. Why a vet? Couldn't any doctor be a doser? My puppy goes to the vet tomorrow for her next round of vaccinations. I wish they could give her a house-training shot (we're getting there ... but not quickly enough, as far as I'm concerned)
  • 46A: Aegean island near Naxos (Ios) - Hey, Naxos is a real place? I thought it was just a classical music label.
  • 65A: Goddess in the hand of the statue of Athena in the Parthenon (Nike) - Replaced by swoosh during the Athens Olympics. So sad.
  • 72A: Career division, in sports (year) - uh ... ok. It's also a life division in ... life.
  • 3D: Comic's stock (one-liners) - had the ONE, so it was easy. If you are a comedian and your primary ammo is ONE-LINERS, GOD BE with you. (45D)
  • 4D: Adjusts, as a currency rate (repegs) - icky makeshift word of the day
  • 13D: Gloomy, literarily (drear) - and yet 68A suggests otherwise (EERIE - Poe-ish)
  • 27D: Vernacular that came into prominence in 1996 (ebonics) - is this still a thing? I haven't heard this word since 1999, I estimate, right around the time that ELIAN became crossworthy.
  • 67D: Uranians, e.g., in brief (E.T.s) - always bugs me when the puzzle treat fictional entities as if they were real. Can you name a book / movie that featured Uranians? I cannot. (Here's another meaning of "Uranian" suggested by yet another Anonymous reader - thanks ... you; it doesn't apply to this clue, given the answer, but it's interesting nonetheless)
If this is Damon J. Gulczynski's first NYT puzzle, then congratulations to him. I've never blogged a puzzle by him, but am too lazy and tired to check the databases in order to confirm the puzzle's debut status.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Joon 12:15 AM  

yeah, naxos is a real island. it's also the island in mythology where theseus abandoned ariadne, whence ariadne auf naxos by r strauss.

for once, i'm going to agree with rex on almost everything here: tremendously impressive theme, pretty easy solve, the craziness of OCREA, and the squickiness of TSU. i'm not sure how i pulled ESKERS out of the recesses of my mind--certainly not from crossword puzzles. it just looked like the right word from that starting E.

didn't pretty much all european scientists write in latin until, like, the 19th century? certainly people like copernicus and newton did.

Twangster 12:31 AM  

I had a Natick moment with ESKERS and MIKE. Had the puzzle seemingly solved but after 20 minutes of checking every clue finally gave up and came here to find out that's where the wrong letter was. (I had ESTERS and MITE.)

PuzzleGirl 12:35 AM  

I had trouble in the SW with "rarer" for RIPER and "talon" for THORN. Took a while to sort all that out.

I, too, am impressed with the theme. And I didn't realize that it worked with both acrosses and downs until coming here -- d'oh!

I once considered having the name JOEY tattooed somewhere on my body. Not that I ever knew anyone named Joey. I just thought it would be funny to have a tattoo with a random name.

I was just telling SethG not too long ago that I never know whether the grassland clue is looking for LLANAS or LLANOS. Whichever one it is, the other one is the last name of one of the BoDeans. So you can see why I get confused.

The word JACKAL only brings to mind one thing for me.

Orange 12:47 AM  

The word "Ebonics" is used among idiots. Linguists study African-American Vernacular English, and of course millions speak it.

Sno-Caps are a cold-weather product, Rex. And a warm-weather one, though one must take care not to let the chocolate melt all over the box. Really, they're an all-weather delight.

It's late, and we're still watching the Olympics here. 'Night, folks!

SethG 12:57 AM  

I stayed in a hotel last year where the rooms were named for planets, and I stayed in the right room to be considered a Urunan myself.

Maybe that's why I had so much more trouble than Rex seemed to. Had ENSNARLS, which hid EERIE and made OCREA tough. Had RESETS instead of REPEGS, which along with (a/E)MENDS hid EMIGRATE. My worst problem was with ESKieS and not knowing LEAL, which along with xSU made ENTAILING hard to git. Thank god I remembered LLANOS thanks to PuzzleGirl, or I'd have maybe failed entirely.

By the way, on the same trip I saw IOS and NAXOS. And JACKALS, but not The West Wing kind, which I linked to originally but luckily checked the other comments before posting...I'd have maybe been first if I hadn't watched it a couple times...

Loki's gone, I'm all alone,

Ellen 1:19 AM  

I talked about this "too easy" thing on my LiveJournal.

Today's puzzle was an average Thursday time for me, 4:47.

PhillySolver 1:23 AM  

Damon has three other puzzles in the NYT, but the last was June 27, 2006 when he used the number 80 in the fill. I think he has been pursuing his Phd in some form of math since then so he has been busy.

The puzzle reminds me of the word "startling.' You can remove one letter at a time and still have a different word each time.

I stumbled on this puzzle even worse than yesterday's barlady error. The SW undid me tonight. I also did not remember four of the words (OCREA, LEAL, LLANOS ESKERS) and two were used in a way I didn't catch (ENTAILING, GIT). Git is a derogatory term in England, as in, 'Philly, you stupid git.'

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

Had My Tai instead of My Lai for 31 across and thought it looked wrong but let it slip anyway. Had glue instad of goop initially for 42 down. Read the notepad and realized that the scrambled letters I had , emtye, could not be correct and one of the e's had to be a p. Therefore changed the e in glue for a p and got goop and understood the notepad and completed the puzzle correctly, except for My Tai.


jae 1:59 AM  

Interesting theme. Very neat/clever that it works with both acrosses and downs. For me this was mostly easy except for SW where I, like PG, had RARER for way too long. I was also iffy about the middle east not having heard of MIKE & IKES candy, being unsure of the correct spelling of MY LAI, and suspicious of TENET as it seemed a stretch for position. Fortunately, I knew ESKER from previous puzzles and an Alaska cruise (good to hear you're enjoying it mac, we had great time) otherwise I would have likely made some errors. So, chunks of this made it Thurs. level for me.

Jane Doh 4:22 AM  

Loved the theme. Very high concept and nicely executed.

Grid is no doubt constrained by the theme, but still, I found the fill to be kind of dull -- CUMULATIVE, PROGRESSED, ENTAILING, ENSNARES. ONE LINERS, EBONICS, JACKALS, MENS CLUB were nice. TSU and OSU in the same grid were ugh-ly, along with TSO, REPEGS, ESKERS, LEAL, OCREA, GOD BE.

Clue for JOE(Y) is simply awful.


Daryl 4:47 AM  

People seem to be much more into this one than I was. The theme was okay, and certainly helpful for a few (got MIKE, SOMBER, and ROTUND that way), but boy I really hated OCREA, LEAL, and the TSU/ORU pairing. And a lot of the fill seemed uninspired to me.

Liked SINE wave a lot, mainly because it was the first thing that came to mind, and then I almost caught myself thinking maybe the right answer was just plain boring HEAT.

Crosscan 8:17 AM  

Zipped through this until a crashing halt in the east.

Glacial ridges = ARETES. Learned that in puzzles. It is a Pavlovian reaction; see glacial ridges, enter ARETES and salivate. Why is ESKERS nosing into ARETES' territory?

MIKE and Ike? Do you all know this? Is it strictly American? I am sure you will all tell me you grew up eating Mike and Ike candies, put it on your beets, etc, etc. but I never heard of it. As we drove to the grocery store last night I told Mrs. Crosscan we should buy some Mike and Ikes. She said "what?" I scoured the candy aisle, no Mike and Ike.

Is the puzzle mocking Canadians? Aren't we suffering enough with no medals, putting us one behind our archrival Togo?

Any Canadian reading this please advise if you have seen Mike and Ike sold here. Perhaps at an Eskers. Maybe our athletes need to eat some Mike and Ikes.

Theme ok, EMPTY and words work without circled item , yada yada.

Liked RANTS.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Using some Greek stems, we can name Damon's word trick.

aph (subtract)
epi (letter)
scrib (word)
oid (see)
neo (new)



joho 8:21 AM  

I am impressed with this puzzle's theme but had to come here to really appreciate it. I came up with EMPTY but didn't know what to do with it.

@Joon: I think ESKER replaced ARETE which was a common "old" puzzle word.

This seemed about right for a Thursday with just enough difficulty to stop me from sailing through it.

Good job Mr. Gulczynski!

Barry 8:33 AM  

Morning, all!

Great puzzle with a truly impressive theme. I didn't look at the notepad until the end, but I'm glad I did since it helped me correct an error (I had GLOP instead of GOOP, which gave me IPS as the name of an Aegean island).

I didn't find this puzzle extremely easy, especially when compared to the last few days, but I guess it was relatively easy for a Thursday. I had no idea about JOEY (although I just realized it's referring to the Biblical Joseph), LEAL, My LAI (is that the village in Viet Nam where the U.S. soldiers massacred the women and children?) or ETE. I've also never heard of henchmen referred to as JACKALS. Plus, I initially had ARETES instead of ESKERS and LSU instead of TSU, which slowed me down for awhile.

On the bright side, I knew that my state's tree is the ELM and I also knew who EULER and MIKE (of "Mike and Ike" fame) were. I also knew that LLANOS are South American grasslands, DREAR is a synonym for gloomy, Balsam is a type of RESIN and LISLE is a type of thread.

So, all-in-all, a fine puzzle. Nice theme (even if I didn't realize what it was until afterwards) with some good challenges, but nothing obnoxiously obscure.

Barry 8:36 AM  

Oh, yeah -- and I forgot:


joho 8:41 AM  

@jane doh & @barry:

I think a better clue for JOEY would have been: Australian nickname for a kangaroo.

There is something icky about the clue as it is.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Paraphrased, Wikipedia states that the Uranians were a small and somewhat clandestine group of male English pederastic poets (many of whom were university graduates of Oxford or Cambridge), a group writing between 1858 and 1930. Urning, a word of that time, was employed to denote ‘a female psyche in a male body’ — However, the Uranians did not consider themselves the possessors of a ‘female psyche’. The work of the Uranian poets was characterized by an idealised appeal to the history of Ancient Greece and a sentimental infatuation for adolescent boys on the part of older men, as well as by a use of conservative verse forms.

Barry 8:51 AM  


Except that it wouldn't work with the theme. JOEY may be an Australian nickname for a kangaroo, but I don't think that JOE is.

joho 9:05 AM  

@barry: You are correct!

Anonymous 9:23 AM  


Barry beat me to it on JOEY/JOE.

Had the theme from SOMBER/SOBER and ROTUND/ROUND.

Was not sure which state in the Ohio Valley Conf. might go with _SU (it could not be (O)hio), and LEAL was a total guess for Faithful in Scottish, but it seemed pretty close to LOYAL, so i tentatively put ENTAILING. That turned out to be correct, but i always thought of entailing as a synonym for involving - as in 'The project entailed....', and was unfamiliar with it in this context.

Here's the dictionary entry for ocrea:

oc·re·a (ok?re-?) noun
plural oc·re·ae (-re-e´)
A sheath formed at the node of a stem by the fusion of two stipules, as in the rhubarb plant.

Watch out for 'stipule' in future puzzles, it's next in the progression from yesterday's 'spherule'.


evil doug 10:02 AM  

Whether there are extraterrestrials or poets in Uranus, you should let them out.

I had a colonoscopy a few weeks back. The nurse, walking me to my wife's car, reminded me to pass gas as often as possible. I told her walking and passing gas at the same time is known as "cropdusting".

Not in Uranus, OH

steve l 10:11 AM  

I found the cluing for LEAL relating to the Scots odd (even if accurate) because I know LEAL as the Spanish word for faithful, and it is a (fairly rare) Latino surname. I was surprised that the Gaelic word would be an exact cognate, but I guess that it relates to LOYAL.

steve l 10:12 AM  

BTW, did not mean to imply that I only had one negative thing to say. I thought it was the most ingenious theme in a long time.

Norm 10:36 AM  

I think Uranians is a Kurt Vonnegut reference, no?

Crosscan 10:46 AM  

Actually I ranted too much. The theme is more than ok. This is actually a brilliantly designed puzzle.

Bill from NJ 10:48 AM  

I know Glacial ridges as either ARETES or ESKERS from puzzles. I originally entered ARETES - didn't work so switched to ESKERS.

I had a tough time with this one but did manage to finish. I didn't know OCREA or LEAL but crosses bailed me out. I'm not sure how DOSING refers specifically to vets but I thought back to last week and that Chiro-whatever clue for Consulter and thought - SAME THING?

I do think MENSCLUB is a better fit for Strip Club than Gentlemens Club whioh is grating to my ear. I do not associate Gentlemen with Strip clubs, thank you very much.

I use Across Lite and there was no indication I was supposed to look at Notepad so I didn't realize what the theme was until I got here. Good theme today

Rex Parker 10:52 AM  


Yes, there is an indication in AcrossLite. I know bec. I solved it in AcrossLite. Look at the little yellow notepad up top, next to constructor's name - that means ... "Read Me" (i.e. "Click on me to read me")


Shamik 11:00 AM  

I think I'm living on Uranus yesterday 'cause my solving ability is not what it ought to be. Was all over the board with this one, long time, one wrong letter and never picked up on the theme.

ARETES for most everyone
GLOP for GOOP which gave me ILS (and made me ill) (final wrong letter)
RIVER for LEVEE least it wasn't Natick

I'm going back to bed.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Isn't OCREA a long green vegetable they fry up in the South and use in gumbo? Oh, that's just the way they say it, its really OKRA.

Thanks for the Across Lite tip. I didn't see that either.


jlsnyc228 11:10 AM  

wish i really knew why -- lack of "aha"? -- but this one left me somewhat unsatisfied. thought the construction was just fine, and the gimmick a highly challenging one for the constructor. but somehow...

well, that's what keeps things interesting, no?

re: ariadne auf naxos by r strauss -- this gem is called by some (w/ tongue firmly implanted in cheek) ariadne obnoxious.



Bill from NJ 11:45 AM  


Thanks for the info. I feel kind of stupid for not noticing. Next time, I will be more aware.

miriam b 11:56 AM  

I'm one of the ARETE crowd. It was my first fill, and it frustrated me until ESKER came to me.

ArtLvr 12:01 PM  

Philly wanted My Tai... I was thinkin My Eye! Pfui, no correct letters there at all. However, it all worked out finally, with an extra cup of coffee.

More on OCREA -- there's a variant, Ochrea. Also, the Latin root means "greave, or legging". Greave is a singular noun defined as "armor for the leg from knee to ankle, usually of front and back plates"... but it's not to be confused with the plural noun Greaves, "the sediment of melted tallow or animal fat, used as dog food, fish bait, etc."

Puppy food? Proably not recommended by Vets.


JC66 12:27 PM  

@bill from nj

I didn't see it either. I was concentrating so hard on trying to read the constructors name (the type face is so small) that I completely missed it until coming here.

As a matter of fact, I initially (!) mistook the G in Gulczynski for a Q and wondered if this might be a David Quarfoot pseudonym.

jeff in chicago 12:32 PM  

I thought this a fairly normal Thursday until I saw the theme. (Which didn't happen until I got here. I never look at the notepad.) Then it became brilliant. Great concept. One of those that made me think: How did he come up with that idea?

Not knowing EULER, LISLE or ESKERS and going the MY TAI route kept me stumped in the NW for a while, but I finally worked things out.

@ Puzzlegirl: the "jackal" clip was great. I loved that show. Which is why I just spent about 20 minutes grazing from one WW clip to another. Ahhhh...I love being productive.

ORU, TSU, TSO, IOS....ehhh. But all things considered, a thumbs up.

Anyone know any other APHEPISCRIBNEOIDS besides "startling"?

fikink 12:35 PM  

@joho - indeed, I thought the same thing about JOEY clue and had not read the notepad. Comes from that old crossword cluing. Then when I read Rex and he helped me find the notepad (it was there all the time - thanks, Rex) I couldn't help but admire this constructor!
My hat is off to you, Mr. Gulczynski!
Also, didn't know ASHY was a word, always thought it was only "ashen."

Karen 12:36 PM  

OCREA seems the inverse of the Natick principle...a name most people would never ever guess, but which is easily revealed by the crosses.

Lurene 12:45 PM  

crosscan: I too never heard of Mike & Ike's candy. I thought it might be the name of a music group. Ike uses a mike.

dk 12:53 PM  

The Uranians clue threw me off as I remember the bumper sticker on the RV/ship in the movie space balls. It had a heart in the middle, an I on the left and Uranus on the right. So I was laughing, smirking throughout the puzzle and the MENSCLUB fill only made it worse.

I trust we will have no easy puzzle discussions today as this was a great blend of old (ESKERS) and new (RIC). JOEY was a groaner but only because it works so well with the theme.

Having been to all of two strip joints in my sheltered life. I see them as clubs were you can spend a lot of money on warm beer and cold women as Tom Waits might rasp.

Had compounded for the interest clue, because I was trying for speed and thought I was so smart... and as the old saying goes "the hurrier I go the behinder I get."

Damon, thanks!

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

Uranians? As in pick-an-arbitrary-planet?
This did lead to some interesting discussion esp.the sexual tidbits from Rex's link.
The Bart Simpson in me always gets a chuckle whenever Uranus is mentioned.

Bill from NJ 12:54 PM  

If I recall it right, MIKE & IKE Candy are pink and gray coated licorice lozenges that I use to get all the time at movie theaters concession stands.

I haven't seen them recently. Now that I think about it, I haven't seen JuJuBees recently either.

I wonder if they haven't gone the way of all flesh. You know, if it's not new, it's not happenin'

Twangster 12:58 PM  

Is the notepad visible when you use the "play against the clock" version, or only with the "play the puzzle now--solve today's puzzle using across lite" version?

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

Mike & Ike's is similar to an old candy called Good 'n Plenty, which was black licorice bits covered by a candy shell. It was very bland, and all the candy was either white or pink colored. Then they came out with different flavored coatings and called it Good 'n Fruity, which is almost identical to Mike & Ike's.


fikink 1:08 PM  

Are you sure you are not thinking of Good&Plenty?

Joon 1:16 PM  

there appear to be at least two pretty divergent ways to play the game with STARTLING:

SAIN (to bless [oneself], in british lingo)
IN or SI

IN or TI

that is pretty cool.

Noam D. Elkies 1:22 PM  

Really nice Thursday puzzle, reminiscent of the BOBDOLE/CLINTON classic -- here 10 double-purpose clues rather than 7, though that's not entirely a fair comparison because they're not all in the same part of the grid. Didn't feel it was too easy for a Thursday, especially with several clues that have two almost identical answers (all already noted: 31A:TAI (LAI?), 40D:ENSNARES (ENSNARLS?), 58D:RIPER (RARER?). And all this with only a few mild obscurities (all noted already too), none of them being the kind of random pop-trash trivia that's so often 56A:S[P]OILING the grid these days.

@Jane Doh: Not sure what's wrong with the longest entries 18A:CUMULATIVE and 61A:PROGRESSED; they even feel related.

@Orange: I must be behind the times; I remember when "ebonics" was Black Vernacular English = BVE. So now it's AAVE. Has anybody backronymed "jive" to some appropriate kind of J__ I__ Vernacular English?


P.S. APHEPISCRIBNEOIDS? Shouldn't that be APHEPIGRAPHNEOIDS if we're going for Greek roots?

PhillySolver 1:46 PM  

Jeff, joon
cleansers (favorite)
scrapping (uses a copmmon Greek word)
strapping (uses a common Greek word)

It will take awhile to do all of these, but it is as good as a YouTube fest.

chefbea1 1:51 PM  

Got the theme right away but thought it was a pretty tough puzzle. Lots of words I had never heard of.

will some one please explain My lai?

I wanted Abey for Joey. Mary todd Lincoln's husband.

Never heard of Mike and Ike candy but I do still like good and plenty or any kind of licorice

Welcome back Mac

fikink 2:01 PM  

@chef, refers to the village outside of which the massacre occurred during the war in Vietnam, I believe.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Tsk tsk, Rex. Shame on you for dissing TSU and Tennessee in general.

Z.J. Mugildny 2:11 PM  

Wow, I am very pleased to read all the positive feedback toward my puzzle. A few things:

1) This was the third version of this puzzle the first one was rejected for bad theme answers ((P)RESIDENT, (M)ORALIST, which are ridiculous stretches in retrospect) and the second for one too obscure entry (SPL) that required a full rework.

2) The only fill that is not mine is TSU. I had TWI/REWIN/STING which I imagine Will didn't like because TWI is kind of weak, as is REWIN, especially in the same puzzle as REPEG. I thought about using TSU, but would've clued it through LAO-TSU which I didn't want to do since I already had TSO.

3) I knew OCREA would not be well-received, but I couldn't escape using it. I wanted to toss the solver a bone by adding the remark (and an anagram to the last name of a popular jazzman), but I guess Will didn't like it.

4) In cluing JOE(Y) I tried to think of a famous Joseph who is known by both Joe and Joey, but couldn't come up with anybody. The only people I thought of were Joey Lawrence (who I think switched to Joe in an attempt to be more adult once his career as a teen idol started fading) and Joe Pantoliano (a.k.a. Joey Pants). I used the latter. The clue as it appears is Will's (and I like his is better than mine).

5. Phillysolver's comments are spot on. I have published before, but this is my first one in years. Hopefully more to come.

Parshutr 2:18 PM  

I'm submitting my claim for the most uniquest wrongest fill...ACTOR for the clue "Balsam, e.g."
Other bad guesses...GLUE (as so many have confessed) and COMPOUNDED, then COMUTATIVE instead of CUMULATIVE. Had no inkling of Mike & Ike, thought briefly of the Smith Brothers (Trade and Mark)...
A struggle today.

jannieb 2:26 PM  

@Parshutr - I filled in "actor" at first, too. Great minds... I don't get the confusion over My Lai - the cocktail is a Mai Tai - never seen it spelled any other way.

Great puzzle - fun solving experience.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

So Z.J. Mugildny is a pseudonym for Damon J. Gulczynski, or is it the other way around?

Always nice to hear puzzle backstory right from the author.


chefbea1 2:48 PM  

all the letters of Z J Mugildny are in Damon J Gulczynski. - with aoncsk left over. I was trying to make a word or name out of those letters!!!

ask once

Anonymous 2:51 PM  


That almost spells Ocasek, from today's puzzle!?


Z.J. Mugildny 2:55 PM  

Zack Johnson Mugildny is my blogger name, Damon John Gulczynski is my real name.

fergus 3:11 PM  

Probably from crosswords, did I pull ESKERS, though the many recent articles on global warming should by now have everyone familiar with most fancy-named features of glaciers.

Did this puzzle in a mild state of irritation, some of which were related to the quality of this Thursday puzzle; anagrammed EMPTY, and thought, well that's reasonably clever, but not much of a gimmick, and was glad to be through with it. Then I learn that in my haste I had forgotten (like Puzzlegirl) to notice that the emptiness works Down, as well as Across. Double D'oh. I came here, sort of SPOILING to COMPLAIN, and then I discover that I'm the one lacking in subtlety and finesse.

Kerning problem again in printed version: 9A Bum, in a way / SCAMP. Then 37D Bumed / Huh, what's that? Do other people have this problem, or am I just refusing to submit to reading glasses?

EBONICS in 1996? I lived in Oakland for a good part of the 1990s and that was a prominent issue right from the start of the decade, and I believe it got widespread attention well before the Clue states.

Not sure why DREAR is more literal than so many other clues. Is it one of those "poetic" contractions?

Once up a midnight dreary ...

Soul Solver 3:49 PM  

I also went with My Tai rather than My Lai and did not look back. Natural born optimist, I guess.

Rex makes me Laugh Out Loud all the time and he did it again today with his "Nike swoosh in the Parthenon" line. What's scary is I'm not 100% sure that was a joke.

Cool puzzle today. I love this blog.

Two fingers,


Orange 3:52 PM  

I'm unilaterally declaring a moratorium on coining of new words to describe crossword answers. No mas! (I'll grandfather in MOOT, as in "multiple of Orange's time," because it flatters my ego and is therefore splendid.)

I'm pretty sure the New York Times does not use constructor pseudonyms at all.

HudsonHawk 4:12 PM  

@fergus, I'm sorry to report you had one more kerning problem. 13D was clued as "literarily", not "literally"...

Bill from NJ 4:36 PM  


I have the same kerning problem with the letters "rn" and "m". I can't tell them apart in Across Lite

Bill from NJ 4:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
william e emba 4:37 PM  

Way way back in high school, my chemistry teacher lent me a mimeograph (dating myself there) of science parody songs, some of which I still remember to this day. One of them was about a Pleistocene old-timer and his daughter, Clementine. One of the stanzas goes "Drove she mammoths to the waters, every morning just at nine/Stubbed her toe upon an ESKER, fell into the freezing brine."

I know the lyrics (or at least a nontrivial portion) to perhaps 10 songs total. Half of them are from that mimeograph. And since I had LISLE, one of the few FABRICS I know, and (M)IKE (which I got using the theme off the M by thinking and thinking and thinking) it became, for me at least, a total gimme.

As for other gimmes I have waiting for me from that song, I doubt PLATYRRHINE or PROGNATHOUS will ever show up. I'm counting on VARVE someday. RIME, of course, is frequent enough.

The drink is MAI TAI, not MY TAI.

I initially read "Uranians" as "Urantians", and was totally flabbergasted at the idea of fitting Those People into 3 letters. I don't believe there is any online description of Those People that comes even slightly close to conveying their through-and-through ThosePeopleNess.

As for Rex's comment about the lack of E.T. Uranians in fiction or films, there is in fact a Uranian, singular, starring in the film Journey to the Seventh Planet. Rather luckily, Rex, it was before your time.

Michael 5:50 PM  

Nice theme, easy puzzle in which I got briefly slowed up by reading "Uranians" as "Ukranians" and wondering about why ETs lived in Kiev.

foodie 5:59 PM  

Always interesting to hear from the constructor!It also made me realize that these puzzles can be rejected and resubmitted-- just like NIH (a crosswords favorite) grant proposals. At the NIH, one is allowed two resubmissions, and then you are dead to them. You can resuscitate yourself by coming up with a new theme, title, and some partial overlap with the old one. It's interesting to watch the process-- when it's not happening to you.

Speaking of NIH, I am surprised we haven't seen more abbreviations related to that organization: NIDA-- National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIMH-- Mental Health, NIA-- aging, NCI-- Cancer, etc.. 27 of them I think, a treasure trove.

Back to the puzzle: I had never heard of ESKERS, and the thread clue really threw me-- I thought I should think about blog threads, etc. So, I had a little mess in there. Otherwise, I found it easy/medium with this ah-ha! moment when you figure out the theme and its ramifications, which made it very satisfying. Hope to see more from DJ.

joho 6:17 PM  

Just checked in to see what everybody thought about this puzzle. Turns out Mr. Damon J. Gulczynski has a hit on his hands: Bravo! People are even playing with his name. This puzzle starts at one level and then evolves. That's when you have to wonder what kind of a mind can come up with this. For me, I'm definitely looking forward to more from Mr. G.

@michael: I, too, read it Ukranians and wondered what was going on .. SSR wasn't even close.

fikink 6:20 PM  

@foodie re: thread
Exactly why I like to see computer terms "sullying" the crossword puzzles, which my father-in-law always argues do not belong in the sacrosanct New York Times! Rex and Will have the right idea.
My avatar is a visual pun there to represent the Roaring Twenties when youth challenged the older generation and females were called "tomatoes," although as joho pointed out yesterday, it really isn't an "age thing."
Viva la revolucion!

fergus 6:34 PM  

Lest one fall afoul of the Orange decree, we require further detail on the ban, since MOOT wasn't quite the example of what I thought she means.

And yes, rn is a kerning problem from the institutional source (we require more serifs!), and il could look like two ls, I suppose, but glossing over an open r, was simply my end-user problem.

Just returned from a magnificent harvest of peaches, plums, nectarines, pluots (which gets spell-checked, and might make interesting fill), tomatoes, lots of cane berries and a few shriveled artichokes. I almost hesitate to ask for recommendations for what to do with it all.

chefbea1 6:40 PM  

@fergus I love pluots combination of plum/apricot.
what are cane berries?? Never heard of them

acme 7:20 PM  

Also didn't see the wordpad thing and after anagramming EMPTY had to come to the blog to figure out the theme and then thought "FABULOUS!"

@puzzlegirl, don't feel bad about TALON, I originally had TUMOR for THORN!

Surprised I couldn't suss out the theme bec all the way thru I was thinking "GOO, nope four letters." "SOBER?" (I had the - - - BER) and thought "Drat, extra letter" ..."ROUND?... almost!"

So loved seeing how it all worked.
And yes, relieved to hear constructor had to resubmit, as a huge resubmitter myself!

I think the NIH rule after-two-attempts-you-re-dead
does not strictly apply with Will, but might come close!
(I think with Peter G it's one...and that's before it's even a fully completed puzzle!)

I remember when learning all my four letter words for Scrabble being surprised how many four letter words for "sticky stuff" start with G:

GOOS, GOOP, GLOP, GUNK, GLUE, GOOK, GLOB, GUCK, GUMS, GAUM (to smear), GLEY (a clay soil layer) and to a certain extent: GELS, GOBS...not to mention GRUE, GORY, GUTS.

Anyway, DJG, GO(O)D GOD that was fun!

Jerome Kerning 7:20 PM  

@fergus -- Sounds like excellent ingredients for a nice beet soup.

fergus 7:42 PM  

I got me some beets, too, but so far have only made a fritatta with the lovely head of greens. Do they also come fully dressed at Farmers' Markets in the East?

ChefBea1; the canes are the support for black, olallie, and the various hues of rasps.

Doc John 7:44 PM  

This one caused me all sorts of problems but I finally got them all sorted out in the end- even got the A in LEAL/LLANOS. That was almost a Natick moment for me but the A just sounded better than any other vowel (although I was a close second). A fine puzzle overall.

I also didn't see the theme until coming here. Pretty cool. BTW, as I understand it, a joey is a baby kangaroo.

Two things that held me back: glue for GOOP and cdrs (short for commanders, who are under captains in the navy) for SGTS. At least I didn't write in arete but I was under the impression that that applied only to mountains and not glaciers.

chefbea1 7:50 PM  

thanks fergus re: canes

we just finnished our dinner of leftover roasted beets and the tops which I sauteed yesterday. Here in ct at the farmers markets you buy a buch of beets that have the beet greens attached

@jerome kerning lol beet soup

PhillySolver 8:14 PM  

Just in from dinner in Philly at a Moroccan restaurant. Yes, I had roasted beets and haricort vert with fromage de chevre.

I apprecaite Damon stopping by and giving us another insight into the process that delivers us our entertainment and mind expanding opportunity each day.

acme 8:48 PM  

stop with the beets, it's annoying. isn't that lame joke/thread over yet?

(i know I need a nap, but still!)

Orange 9:05 PM  

@acme: New drinking game. Drink every time someone mentions beets here.

chefbea1 9:08 PM  

@orange lol

g'nite all

fergus 9:32 PM  

Orange, The moratorium you issued might last as long as food passions stood in abeyance during Wade's reign.

Anagrams and their derivatives (or diminuatives) shone today, despite trembling afore Rexian punishment for the aforesaid indulgence.

foodie 9:47 PM  

@orange: don't be annoyed with what I'm about to do please, I haven't said anything about food for a while...


Sounds yummy, all these fruits! Perfect opportunity for a lovely macedoine. Add a touch of fresh fruit juice, a couple of drops of honey- best dessert ever. You can also freeze fruits and use them in winter to make syrups, pancake toppings, etc.

As to the tired artichokes, boil them and grab the bottoms (that didn't sound right, but you know what I mean). Their bottoms usually don't shrivel as much as the rest of them... And they taste great added to pasta, or salads or made into dips. Toasted pine nuts and artichokes make a great combo.

@fikink, I was going to ask about your avatar. Interesting reason : )
A few more food related ones, and we can make us a lovely meal. Orange and I will provide the dessert... ok, I'm done with food talk for now.

PuzzleGirl 9:59 PM  

@foodie: It's not just Orange that gets bored and then irritated with all the food talk on the crossword blog. Maybe you guys should all head over to one of these blogs:

Pies and Songs
Obsession With Food
Anne's Food

Or start one of your own. Seriously.

Rex Parker 10:04 PM  

The real credit for the "drink every time someone mentions beets" suggestion Amy made should go to another commenter (whom I won't name), who proposed (off-blog) a hilarious Rex Parker Comments Thread Drinking Game, the rules for which I can't post in their entirety for various reasons. Let's just say, the game was not feasible, as all participants in said game would be drunk before 10am.


Crosscan 10:09 PM  

And then drunk again five weeks later?

fikink 10:17 PM  

@foodie, I think your food talk is wonderful. And, yes, my avatar is one we ate! The floods in iowa this year have made our Victory Gardens late in arriving and everybody is honing their gallows humor - lotsa misery and I am going to count on all of you to get us through this very tough time. Nobody out here cares about the declension of the Latin verb or classical rhyme scheme. They are just surviving!

fergus 10:31 PM  

Not about food.

That's just fooling around.

What about the art of Criticism? It was part of the curriculum for an English degree when you had to know Lyrical Ballads. While I might recite some lines of Wordsworth, I sank with Samuel Taylor, but without the low Laudanum crowd.

foodie 11:35 PM  

@fergus, no one can compete with Beaudelaire where laudanum is concerned--

La nuit voluptueuse monte,
Apaisant tout, même la faim,
Effaçant tout, même la honte,
Le Poëte se dit: "Enfin!

fikink 11:47 PM  

Go, Foodie!

fergus 11:48 PM  

what about hashish and Poe?

voici, c'est un traduction:

Sexy night moonrise
calming the most hungry
Destroying the most daring
yet far be it
from the darer in me
to say
this is quite the
The End

fikink 11:53 PM  

What about Van Gogh and foxglove?

fergus 12:05 AM  


fikink 12:19 AM  

I doubt it, more like a myth.

fergus 12:35 AM  

There's no proper way to translate Baudelaire into English. I'm going to look into how the French got into EAPoe, and I would be surprised if it had anything to do with the verse.

SethG 1:34 AM  

Yeah, definitely drunk and confused now.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

6w, er, make that 5wl...

Did no one else look at the "Note" upfront and figure the word BLANK was made from the circled letters? Thought I was swift and JOE(L) even worked although (L)OUR didn't. Needed help to make it through this one. I'm hungry. Time for early lunch.

- - Robert

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