1942 Philippines fighting locale / THU 5-27-10 / Japanimation character with line school supplies / Bar mitzvah party staple

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: DOUBLE-SPACED — the compound adjective "DOUBLE-SPACED" can be found, literally double-spaced, in the fifth and eleventh columns of the grid

Word of the Day: MASADA (1A: Israeli tourist attraction on the Dead Sea) —

Masada (Hebrew מצדה, pronounced Metzada , from מצודה, metzuda, "fortress") is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. After the First Jewish-Roman War a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels, who preferred death to surrender. (wikipedia)
• • •

Email exchange between myself and fellow blogger Amy Reynaldo at about 10:30 pm last night:

  • Me: "uh ... I liked tomorrow's puz, but what exactly does the last word in 6D [i.e. LINES] refer to?"
  • Amy: "I asked the same thing in my post. Which ones? Where?"

When my wife finished the puzzle, her first words were, "What am I missing?" She didn't understand what "BETWEEN THE LINES" meant either (6D: Where to look for hidden words in this puzzle's fifth and eleventh columns?). The letters in DOUBLE-SPACED are no more "BETWEEN THE LINES" than any other letters in the grid, unless by "LINES" you mean "black squares" (which are not, technically or otherwise, LINES — maybe some math person can help me out here). I really enjoyed solving the puzzle, and love the grid shape, but don't think "BETWEEN THE LINES" is a defensible, or even comprehensible, entry. Epic fail as a theme-revealer.

Good thing those (apparently) unchecked squares ended up spelling out a phrase, because otherwise I'd have been a dead man at MASADA [addendum / coincidence—just watched an episode of "The Simpsons" that I've had sitting on my DVR for months. In it, the Simpsons visit the Holy Land. Tour guide refers to MASADA almost immediately]. Now that I look at it, I know I've seen it somewhere, but I'd have had to guess at that "D." Also needed all my crosses to get BATAAN (7D: 1942 Philippines fighting locale), which, like MASADA, has a vague look of familiarity, but also looks like RATTAN and BHUTAN and BANTAM all got together for a party. Had a lot of trouble coming up with stupid WIS. (sorry, cheeseheads) (15D: Mich. neighbor). Thought I'd exhausted all the neighbors of Michigan, where I lived for eight years — IND, OHIO, ONT — but I clearly forgot about the Upper Peninsula ("The Michigan of Canada").

Thought the fill, in general, was smoking hot on this one. Huge grin at HELLO KITTY (17A: Japanimation character with a line of school supplies) — I'll let Andrea Carla Michaels tell you the details. As I understand it, she had a puzzle rejected not too many years ago, in part because it contained HELLO KITTY, which Will had never heard of. After Andrea told me that, I put HELLO KITTY in a puzzle, which was rejected by Patrick Berry (at the Chronicle of Higher Ed) for non-HELLO KITTY reasons (side note—best rejection letter ever), but before I could turn around and send it somewhere else, a puzzle with the same theme, with HELLO KITTY also as a theme entry, showed up in the (then non-defunct) New York Sun (to this day, I consider constructor Joon Pahk my mortal enemy). These things happen.

  • 29A: 1927 Upton Sinclair novel ("OIL") — until this very second, I was reading the clue as [1927 Sinclair Lewis novel]. How far can I take that name string? Upton Sinclair Lewis Carroll O'Connor. Not very far.
  • 31A: Neat (SPRUCE) — Shouldn't this clue be [Neaten]? Hmmm, apparently it can stand on its own as an adjective, but I've never heard the word unfollowed by "up."
  • 42A Handout from an aspiring musician (DEMO) — speaking of aspiring musicians, went to my daughter's elementary school's Spring Concert last night. For some reason, daughter insists on being in Everything: chorus, orchestra, band. First highlight of night was band's "Theme from Rocky," if only because it was one of the first pieces that wasn't sappy, insipid, cutesy, or childish. Huge applause. Later, the jazz band played, and their (awesome) conductor had many of those kids doing improvised solos! Crazy noise! It was both hilarious and inspiring. Each kid got huge applause. Later, they dusted off the long unused school theme song (written 1916) and brought up a couple of guys who went to the school in the '30s to sing it with the kids. Even the most jaded, disaffected, talk-through-the-whole-performance parents were singing along (lyrics were projected on a big screen up front). Easily the best school-related event I've ever been to.
  • 51A: Bar mitzvah party staple (HORA) — I was really looking for food here.
  • 1D: Sighting at a punk rock concert, maybe (MOHAWK) — This guy Puck on "Glee" has a MOHAWK. I was finding it mesmerizing last night, for reasons I don't quite understand. I mean, it's been there all season, but for some reason I was fixated on the texture ("Is that fake?") and then trying to imagine what he'd look like if his whole head were covered with hair. MOHAWKs are better than FAUXHAWKs (a word that has also been in the puzzle).
  • 4D: Communication system for the gorilla Koko: Abbr. (ASL) — I learned KOKO from crosswords. Once put KOKO in a grid that also contained "OK, OK!"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Eric Berlin 7:56 AM  

Always fun to see the rules get broken, but if I may: Trip Payne did it better back in 2001.


Leslie 8:08 AM  

Okay, I'm glad Rex had the same reaction I did to 6D.

The NE was the last to fall for me, but when I finally saw LICORICE, it was worth it. Got the RICE part first, slowly and painfully, and was sure there was some sort of Asian rice dish that came with seasonings to make it look red or black.

Also liked the clue for WINE CELLAR.

Cool Dude 8:13 AM  

If you interpret each row of the grid as a line, then the theme makes perfect sense.

jesser 8:21 AM  

Liked it, but found it kinda challenging. I was making it harder than it was for the longest time, expecting a rebus something or other in those unmarked squares. Once I settled down about that, it started to fall into place.

I have never heard of KNEX, so I really wanted Lego. Lego would not work.

Black LICORICE from Europe is God's gift to humanity. Salty and tough, like leather. MMMMMM.

The clue for WINE CELLAR, as has been noted, was just killer good, as was the one for CRYPT, but I don't see how 49D's clue is correct. The letter L is a consonant, not a VOWEL. I must be misreading this somehow and missing the cleverness, I SWEAR.

BURT Reynolds in 'Boogie Nights' is a much better anchor for the puzzle's SE than yesterday's woeful LEVI.

@Rex, I'm astounded you've never heard of BATAAN. Thousands of U.S. soldiers -- many from New Mexico --died on a tortuous forced march at the hands of the Japanese. Just across the mountains, on the White Sands Missile Range, an annual arduous hike is staged in memory of the heroes and the survivors, whose numbers dwindle each year.

And now: work.

Menting! (It has something to do with rent boys and hypocritical anti-gay gays, some with wide stances) -- jesser

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

I can't remember the show or character, perhaps Edith on All on the Family, who said something to the effect that "No matter how hard I try, when I read between the lines, I only see white space."
I had the same problem re 6D, but figured it out by reasoning that it had something to do with the disconnected squares and the horizontal lines between them.
I still don't know of double spaced has any connection to the theme, or if I'm still missing something.

Leslie 8:26 AM  

Tptsteve, what a great line (about reading between the lines)!

Jesser, that confused me too, but the clue actually says "at the end of the clue," not "at the end of the answer." I gave myself a little head smack when I finally saw that.

joho 8:38 AM  

@Rex, perfect write-up. I enjoyed doing the puzzle but felt like an idiot when finished because I couldn't figure out the theme. Now I don't feel so dumb.

Fantastic clues at 9A, 27A, 40A and especially 56A and 8D.

I LOVE HELLOKITTY! Great story about Andrea's and Rex' HELLOKITTY rejections!


Funny how much I liked this puzzle when I failed to get the theme.


Joe 8:41 AM  

I had a little problem with the clue for 50A. "ACTION" is actually called after the shooting starts. All of the equipment on set needs to be going before the actors are told to start doing their thing.

PuzzleNut 8:49 AM  

Had lots of false starts today (which increases the difficulty and solve time). bowS for OPTS, HenHOUSE for HOTHOUSE, DIALer for DIALUP, ells for FOCI, tie for AZO.
Cool Dude has the explanation for the DOUBLE SPACED. Actually got the theme clue with the top B and the bottome INES. Helped fill in the blank squares.
Lots of great clues, IMO. Loved WINE CELLAR. Agree that SPRUCEup is the better answer to that clue.
A slow slog, but I was sure of all the fill once it was completed. No WTF answers that leave you frustrated.

Dough 8:50 AM  

Okay, it's really reading between the rows and not really lines (are lines and rows synonymous in crosswordville? I think so, kinda), I didn't have any trouble with that and just really enjoyed the puzzle. Trip's earlier puzzle (thanks Eric) was also fun, but I like the vertical reveal here. Anyway I strongly agree with Eric that I always like to see the rules broken, so this puzzle gets a bonus 2 stars for that alone! Lots of great fill and fun breezy clues. Bravo, Josh.

Desi Arnez 8:52 AM  

Back to Bataan.

Maximo Cuenca: [a poor student dying in his teacher's arms after heroic action] Miss Barnes, I'm sorry I never learned how to spell "liberty".
Bertha Barnes: [tearfully] No one ever learned it so well.

fikink 8:59 AM  

Well, it certainly didn't help me to find the theme looking in the 5- and 11-Down columns! Dumb Debbie!

I like the KOKO OKOK play. Wish I'd done that puzzle.

LICORICE made me find the Twizzlers at 7 in the morning. Not good.

Nice longer fill and interesting cluing.

Solid work, Josh Knapp!

@Andrea, thought of you immediately when I came across HELLO KITTY - in fact, I think of you every time I see HELLO KITTY in print!
Don't mean to crowd you, @d(obsessed)k.

Good one, Josh!

hazel 9:07 AM  

I like this unconventional puzzle, and, like @CoolDude and @Dough, think its not that much of a stretch to think of crossword rows as lines.

A little suspension of disbelief here and there, and crosswords (like life) become a lot more fun for me. Didn't understand the gimmick until I'd finished, though. Had to take 3 steps back from the grid to see the forest and get the D in MASADA (had an L). Game over.

Like @Eric and @Dough, I love to see rules broken - I've also become a big believer in living in the gray; screw black and white - they're always trying to rap my knuckles.

SethG 9:08 AM  

If you interpret each row of the grid as a line, then the theme answers appear in the lines.

I knew the death march, just didn't know that it was a place in the Philippines. SPRUCE killed me, even when I had SPRxCx.

jesser 9:17 AM  

@Leslie: DOH! Mil gracias!

Spock 9:22 AM  

@Seth G: You took the words right out of my mouth.

Reginald Bruce-Lamour 9:28 AM  

Upton Sinclair Lewis Carroll Shelby Lynne Cheney, Washington, Irving Berlin

scooper 9:49 AM  

the unchecked squares form vertical lines. the letters that spell DOUBLE SPACED appear "between" (in alternating order with) the squares that make up those lines. (think of slats in window blinds.) you'll complain that the phrase should then be "among the lines," which of course isn't a phrase at all. the latitude asked for by "between" doesn't seem that wide to me, certainly not for a thursday puzzle, and certainly not so wide as to constitute an "epic fail."

Rex Parker 9:52 AM  

Sorry, but that completely convoluted explanation only confirms the "epic fail" verdict.

Van55 9:59 AM  

Loved the puzzle even though I had a tough time in tha NE due to abject ignorance of HELLOKITTY, KNEX and MASADA.

As I interpret the theme, the column 5 and 11 answers are D O U B L E S P A C E D due to the horizontal "lines" (rows) between their letters. Makes sense to me, which is why I was able to figure out the reveal and theme with no problem.

Also liked the clues for CRYPT, OGLE and WINECELLAR.

chefbea 10:01 AM  

Tough puzzle. Had to google a lot but thought it was great!!! I too wanted some kind of rice. Also had lego - never heard of knex. Guess I'll have to look it up

At exercise class this morning I told about our delicious dinner. Now everyone is going to make Loosy(lucy,Luci) burgers this weekend!!!

ArtLvr 10:07 AM  

Like Rex, I wanted something like chopped liver at 51A, but Pate gave way to HORA soon enough... Right above that answer I had ___EVIL, so I'd tried Pure EVIL before seeing SHE-DEVIL. Also, I'd never heard of HELLO KITTY or K'NEX before.

Otherwise this went fairly fast, in spite of the non-standard grid -- no problem seeing the double-spacing BETWEEN THE LINES. Nice job, Josh!


p.s. Major lightning displays throughout the wee hours were GLORIOUS, but distracting!

PanamaRed 10:19 AM  

Liked this one a lot - it took me a long time to finish. NE was last to fall. Had LEER before OGLE and HEX before VEX. For some strange reason, entered MOHAIR before MOHAWK.

Got 8d very quickly, as BETWEENTHELINES made perfect sense to me (don't ask why).

Have a friend who's dad was a survivor of the BATAAN death march (and he still survives today).

Nice work, Josh.

Leslie 10:25 AM  

ArtLvr: OH!!! That apostrophe you put in K'NEX makes so much sense! (I was still mentally making the "k" silent and vowing to Google these mysterious KNEX objects.)

Martin 10:29 AM  

How can a message be "between the lines" literally as well as figuratively? This puzzle answers that question: double space the lines.

I see it as clever and playful -- using a crossword to materialize an abstraction. It's an epic fail if you insist on a literal interpretation of a metaphor that is in itself an enigma.

Think the Obvious 10:31 AM  

It's really simple. Each column is a line. So what do you see [read] between column lines 4 and column line 6, and what do you see between column line 10 and column line 12?

David L 10:40 AM  

@Think the Obvious: that was my first thought too. But then my second thought was, all the answers in a crossword are between the lines. That's pretty much the definition of a grid of words.

So I cast my vote with those who remain puzzled by the theme answer. We demand an explanation!

hazel 10:46 AM  

I think you're either on the bus or off the bus for this puzzle. And there's really nothing you can do or say to persuade people to get on or off.

Regardless of whether you're riding, you can, however, disagree with the term "epic fail"! It kind of harshes the buzz (particularly for ones on the bus! :-D

Smitty 10:47 AM  


Although I had to look up ASL after thinking "Ape as a Second Language"?

NCA President 10:48 AM  

@martin: totally agree and i think "playful" is the keyword here...it's a puzzle the definitely doesn't take itself too seriously.

i loved masada (i just like saying that word) and i have no idea what a knex is. is it pronounced "nex" or "k-nex?" i've seen a lot of toys in my day, but this one, evidently, escaped my notice.

as for relative difficulty, i thought it was easy. only trouble was the NW with knex and amu...once i got st. luke i was good to go.

btw rex, i was a little disappointed you didn't include a link to the pbs kids show "between the lions," seemed very appropriate...

Martin 10:58 AM  

K'NEX is pronounced like a five year-old saying "connects."

Ulrich 11:03 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle , but did not understand 6D. Came here to get enlightened and believe me, I read every attempt at an explanation carefully--I'm sorry, none makes sense to me--so, I'm siding with Rex, except for "epic" for the simple reason that a 15x15 puzzle of whatever provenance is just too little to have anything epic about it--yes, yes, I know, it's a metaphor shrouded in an enigma, or the other way around, or whatever...

ed Bernard 11:05 AM  

Upton Sinclair Lewis Carroll Meryl Markoe Polo. Gotta allow for inaccurate spelling. Not as long as Reginald, but I never heard of Cheney Washington.

Two Ponies 11:08 AM  

Perfect Thursday for me.
I guess I'm "on the bus" as the theme revealer sat just fine with me. Not a failure at all and nowhere near epic.
Spruce was OK as a stand-alone for me since I thought immediately of Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose.
Knex was unknown to me but I guess it is a word play of sorts on the word "connects."
Calling licorice food kept me guessing for a bit but I suppose if you eat it you can call it food. Staple in 51A was sneaky.
Nice tricky clues so thumbs up from this solver. Thanks Josh.

PuzzleNut 11:10 AM  

I love hearing how other solvers work a puzzle. One person's nightmare clue is another's gimme.
I'm on the bus for this puzzle's theme, so I have to disagree with "epic fail". However, the last I checked this blog was called Rex Parker Does the NYT, so he can call it anyway he wants. Fortunately, we also have the right to respectfully disagree.

retired_chemist 11:13 AM  

Hard one for me. The NW threw me - MASADA, KNEX, and HELLO KITTY were all unknown to me. Non-puzzle wife WOKE me UP to HELLO KITTY, but 26A was LEGO almost forever.

As usual I think Martin has the best of the analysis (of the theme). I took the theme as evocative rather than prescriptive, which let me get it - no problem.

Also had TIE dye (54A), WISE UP (22A), PERT (16A), LEER (9A), PBS @ 6A (confirmed by STAYS @ 8D), KILN @ 27A, and satori, as I look at this unGLORIOUS list of errors, about why I had a rougher than usual solve.

However, kudos to Mr. Knapp for an enjoyable puzzle.

Nebraska Doug 11:19 AM  

Count me in on never having heard of KNEX or K'NEX. Total mystery.

Tinbeni 11:24 AM  







Looked doubled spaced to me.
I guess that if any of us see this we're just wrong.

The Supreme @Rex says it is an EPIC FAIL, not just fail, but EPIC FAIL.
And teenage ANNA, EATSDIRT for that VeRB to VeRA Ending yesterday.

MC 11:25 AM  

Yes, "Action!" is called long after the shooting starts, otherwise you're going to be scrambling turning your cameras on while the actors are doing their thing.

Best moment of this puzzle: we had WILD RICE (which, yes, can be red or black) for the longest time, before realizing WILD wasn't it. Figured out the NE across clues, went partway with "LOCO RICE" (y'know, crazy, multicolored rice...) and then ended up with LICO. Scratched our heads for about 2 minutes wondering what the hell was this "lico rice". Much laughter ensued.

Ulrich 11:30 AM  

@Tinbeni: Nobody has problems with double-spaced--the issue is what "between the lines" means. The only explanations that make sense to me are those that would apply to ANY column in a grid, i.e. there is no need to say it al all...

Scott 11:35 AM  

The ASL cluing is fairly offensive to me. American Sign Language is a human language like any other with essentially all of the deep properties of spoken languages. This cluing to me makes ASL speakers seem somehow non-human and perpetuates the false stereotype that signed languages are deeply different than spoken ones.

This cluing would be like "ENGLISH" as "Language spoken by Alex the parrot". Like parrots, Koko and other non-human primates are not capable of Language, only of understanging and producing a very small number of symbolic gestures with little ability to combine them to make larger expressions.

Rick Stein 11:35 AM  

Hated SPRUCE clue and never heard of KNEX
This was one of those puzzles where I solved it only after setting it aside for a while and returning to it.

syndy 11:45 AM  

had trouble getting traction so started making guess- had sailmoon(did not know hellokitty was animated)all te way to ryan reynolds;finally mozart took my hand and led me back to masada!had b**********ines saw between the lines-double spaced made perfect sense to me -don't see the problem?In the end call it medium and lots of fun.so what are the words to the school song?

Rex Parker 11:48 AM  

DOUBLE-SPACED indeed makes perfect sense. BETWEEN THE LINES does not. I've received so much mail this morning, some agreeing, some disagreeing; sadly, the disagreers can't agree on why the clue for BETWEEN THE LINES works. I've got black squares as LINES, numbered columns as LINES ... keep 'em coming!


PS puzzle was still a ton of fun.

Cheech 11:53 AM  

Ahhh, well it's simple man, between the lines is when I smoke a doobie.

dk 11:59 AM  

Ha! My third fill was 6D. 6A and 14A preceded. The lines thing seems clear to me. Between the rows might be correct but it sounds dumb IMEO (in my expert/egotistical opinion)

One of the step twins has a 1D and growing up in Lafayette NY helped as well. Boxes of 26D in the WINECELLAR... actually whine cellar due to the presence of spiders and speedy bugs.

I liked the fill. Most of it seemed new and spunky.

OVEN seems to be our new puzzle friend

Speaking of MOTELS - HELLOKITTY (aka Andrea).

@fikink, obsessed just about sums it up.

*** (3 Stars) Great job Josh.


lit.doc 12:06 PM  

Best job on a Thursday NYT puzzle ever. Done with no googles and one error in 36:14 [pause for laughter]. Still had 18A LOCI ‘cause I didn’t go back and check my downs in that corner.

I totally wasn’t going to say anything about the clue for 6D, on the not-unreasonable assumption that I was the only person on the planet who didn’t get the connection.

Nice symmetry with ETHERNET and DIAL-UP, though DIAL-UP was faster today.

william e emba 12:10 PM  

This cluing would be like "ENGLISH" as "Language spoken by Alex the parrot".

Well of course! Alex did not use French or German (or ASL for that matter) to communicate, now did he?
I was doubly stumped by the Bar Mitzvah party clue. Not only was I looking for food, the Bar Mitzvahs I go to do not have anything much more exciting than food and speeches. No parties whatsoever.

retired_chemist 12:12 PM  

@ Scott - I didn't see the clue for ASL as demeaning ASL speakers. Nor would I have a problem with saying that Alex the parrot speaks English if indeed he does. Distinguishes him from Schatzi the parrot who speaks German....

Again, clues can sometimes be evocative instead of rigidly prescriptive.

If I understand Koko's language ability correctly, she speaks ASL and understands English better than your post implies.

nanpilla 12:20 PM  

My son loved K'nex, so that was easy, just had to wait to see if it was lego (which he also loved) or KNEX. We still have a huge container of them down in the basement.

I see Rex's point, but it didn't really affect my solve, so it didn't register with me. That's why I come here - the fine points often escape me.

Off to Barcelona for another horseback riding adventure, this time with OldCarFudd's wife and 8 other women. Yee Haa! Who would have thought I would meet other trail-riding enthusiasts on a crossword puzzle blog comment board? Just another service brought to you by our fearless leader.

Joon 12:39 PM  

these things do happen, but 'twas hardly my fault. i find it pretty surprising, however, that two years have passed and we still haven't seen your byline on a newspaper puzzle. i guess that may be grounds for mortal enmity.

Tinbeni 12:42 PM  

What we got here is failure to communicate.

Forget anything that has to do with those things that go UP & Down, they're called columns.

Think about those things that go across horizontal, they're called lines.

Now think about reading anything more into the theme.

You are NOW reading BETWEEN THE LINES.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

I'd never heard of k'nex before so I looked it up. Its site contains "Updates to Instructions", which are really corrections. Use 12 spacers, not 2, for example.

Or more groaningly: "The purple Micro connector attaches to red Micro rod, not to the black Micro rod - see 1-62 inset picture for correct placement"

"Updates" I guess are sorta like I remember back in the 80's when the Reagan White House would issue 'clarifications' to his press conference statements. (That's not a slam, if Reagan could do that, I thought, then maybe it wasn't so bad for me to try to explain something better in class the next day.

These updates are illustrated with a picture of a little kid in pigtails with what looks to be a grimace.

I remember playing with my friends Legos and we would get what we got without the benefit of Instructions or 'Updates'. I think maybe we had the better of it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:45 PM  

As soon as I filled in the 6-D answer, it did sorta help me get goin' on figurin' out the... well, whatever the 6-D clue said. So it sure kinda served as a "reveal" for me. But as soon as the whole maguffin dawned on me, I says to myself, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, M&A... Mr. Forty-four **ain't** gonna like this."

44 likes crisp themes. This one was like two-day old celery crisp. Gotta read between the lines on this one way too much. So knew the blog was gonna be a hoot. It was possum-in-the-pot good. Thumbs-up on the write-up, T-Rex!

Puz was mighty fun, too. 6.5 U's!!

balloon man 12:50 PM  

@retired chemist, Scott didn't see it as demeaning to ASL speakers, either. His only point was to show that he is a superior person who holds all the correct opinions, and this was his chance to show his sympathies for the deaf. In the fact, the main use of this board for many people is to show off what good taste they have in food, art, music, etc., how mortally offended they are by words derived from some ancient slur against people who don't even exist anymore and what correct opinions they hold, so let's not bust anybody's balloon by calling bullshit.

Clark 12:57 PM  

I’m with @Martin and @retired_chemist and @PuzzleNut et al. The theme revealer ends with a question mark, suggesting a figurative answer. “Between the lines” is commonly used figuratively. "I don't see any words in the fifth or eleventh columns." "Look between the lines." "What lines?" "No, between the lines."

But, far more important: Where’s the respect for the U.P.? Spend a week traveling around up there and you’ll know where the real Michigan is to be found!

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Is it only the iPad app that had a bad clue for 25D?

It said 52A in his later years (instead of 62 A).

Martin 1:11 PM  

Sounds like the iPad app needs numbers for the unchecked squares, which the print and other online versions don't have. That clue is 23D for us, not 25D and the 52A is correct.

I take it you have numbers that don't have clues.

chaos1 1:13 PM  

Wow! Lot's of comments today.

I really liked this puzzle. Excellent clues and misdirection, most of which I saw through. So today," I Got The Bear! "

I don't have a dog in the fight about the whole theme and cluing issue. I'm a purist and early week speed solver, so I hardly ever worry about the themes. I had absolutely no idea what today's constructor was talking about, nor did I care. What pleased me, was that I finished correctly in just a shade over 22 minutes. That's very quick for me on a Thursday, but I know this puzzle was only rated Medium, and that's where I would have put it as well.

One thing that really struck me as interesting, was all the talk about K'NEX. I never heard of them either. Thank god for crosses. @Martin took the words out of my mouth. Phonetically it's CONNECTS, especially to a child. It got me to thinking about how each generation has it's own toys for future architechs. My dad played with Erector Sets. I played with the ubiquitous TinkerToys and Lincoln Logs. GenX'ers played with Legos,and now we have K'NEX. If you've ever had the priveledge of seeing a full sized Erector Set, you'd be mightily impressed. The were some serious kits!

@Tinbeni ROTFLMAO at your last comment vis-a-vis yesterday's irritable "VERATIBLE" cluing.

@MC. Red wild rice? Really? Sounds like the perfect stuffing for a Blackduck dinner. Yum! Lico Rice! LOL !

The Big E 1:13 PM  

THRILLED that you had a mini-homage/acknowledgment of Glee, what I view as the number one show on TV this season, though it is close with a couple others I love. Anyway, the actor who plays Puck is Mark Salling, and the mohawk was real (he shaved it in one of the episodes and as a result loses his mojo (a la Samson). He is also a very talented singer/songwriter who did a great homage to all the people he works with and posted it on youtube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFClq0L9kd0

As far as "Between the Lines," the only thing I will say in its defense is this:
The crossword grid can be viewed as either 15 rows (line is an acceptable definition or synonym for row) atop one another or 15 columns side by side. From that perspective, I don't have a problem with "between the lines" EXCEPT that "Double" starts on the "top line" and "Spaced" ends on the "bottom line" (so neither is, in fact, completely "between the lines").


PuzzleNut 1:16 PM  

@Clark - As someone born and raised in the UP, it always galled me that most folks never heard of that part of Michigan. I still remeber maps of MI showing only the lower part of the state. Truly a great place to grow up.

shrub5 1:21 PM  

No matter how this theme is explained, it was ho-hum to me. DOUBLE SPACED is sorta dull. My thought was "yeah, so?" This is not to detract from the solving experience which I enjoyed quite a bit -- lots of clever clues.

Finished all but the NE corner where I got stuck. Had to look up ellipse to see what it had two of (besides Ls and Es.) I had ARCS, then AXES before realizing the answer was FOCI. Then the rest of that area fell into place.

Thought of LICORICE immediately with the red and black clue. Always felt that stuff was vile, esp. the red...it's a stretch to call it food! Agree with others about SPRUCE as an adjective -- my dictionary has it as "neat in dress and appearance." LOL at 'remains here? clue for CRYPT.

Interesting story about the HELLO KITTY rejections. I consider the products widely known and have been for a long time. There is a store in a mall here and that's all it sells!

Shamik 1:34 PM  

Excellent, refreshing fill on this medium puzzle.

Rube 1:36 PM  

When I was a tad, I had a wooden jigsaw puzzle of the United States where each state was a piece. However, there were two states, one called Mich and the other called Igan that gave me great trouble until my big sister straightened me out.

How about this: Just like @TPTSEVE's little joke, there are white spaces between the lines, but in this case those white spaces contain words.

In other words, I'm "on the bus". Enjoyed this puzzle immensely.

Steve J 2:03 PM  

I'm of the opinion that if you have to explain a joke, it's not that great a joke to begin with (or you told it poorly).

That pretty much sums up my reaction to the theme. But the rest of the puzzle was great, for all the various reasons already stated.

@Martin: You're correct that the iPhone/iPad has something screwed up in the numbering, but there isn't anything without a clue. I suspect it is numbering the unchecked squares. As a result, we ended up with the last clue being 75A instead of 64A.

Because of that, I was even more confused by things at first, figuring there must have been a hidden column, leading to a pseudo-rebus situation. Eventually things came together, but it took me longer than a Thursday has in quite a while.

@Scott: You're right that ASL has all the properties of a language. I don't think it diminishes it at all to say that Koko uses it. Scientists debate whether she has true capacity for language or if she's engaging in simple pattern recognition, but the fact is she has a vocabulary of about 1,000 words that she can understand or state. That's more than a typical human toddler has. Would it be demeaning to say that ASL was a 3-year-old's language?

Van55 2:10 PM  


To recognize that one gorilla is capable of communicating a bit in American Sign Language should in no way be taken as implying that humans who communicate in ASL are inferior or apish. The feat of the gorilla is, perhaps, surprising, but in no way matches the fluency of humans who master ASL.

The BS flag has already been thrown. On further review, the call in the field stands.

Ben 2:12 PM  

Start the name string with major league baseball player Justin Upton.

BETWEENTHELINES, I see your point, but DOUBLE SPACED was pretty cool.

jae 2:19 PM  

I'm in the "enjoyed the puzzle but don't really get the theme" camp. In fact, for 6d I put in BETWEENTHE and waited for the rest of it to show up in the crosses.

I asked my bride if she had heard of KNEX after I finished and she said it was a step down from lego.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Nerd quibble: 35D "Modern means of connecting". Ugh. ETHERNET is not a method for connecting [to the Internet] like 44D "Oldish means of connecting", DIALUP. ETHERNET is a set of networking standards that connect you to devices that connect to the Internet.

archaeoprof 3:01 PM  

I agree with Rex: the puzzle was fun to solve, but the theme fell flat.

Back when Budweiser "Whasssup?" commercials were popular, the students on our dig liked to say "Masaaaaada!"

The Big E 3:17 PM  

@bobdively: actually, both dial-up and Ethernet are means of connection. You are thinking of Ethernet on the Physical Layer, which is indeed a set of standards - Ethernet on the Data Link Layer, however, is considered a means of connecting! :-)

Moonchild 3:28 PM  

Between the gorilla and the ethernet the conversation has degraded to become "picking flyshit out of the pepper."

Fun puzzle, unusual fill.

fikink 4:20 PM  

@Moonchild, my dad had a fondness for that expression, may he rest in piecemeal!

sanfranman59 4:21 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 16:45, 19:20, 0.87, 18%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:45, 9:15, 0.84, 13%, Easy

DBGeezer 5:13 PM  

One of you will have to explain to this old geezer how WINE CELLAR is the answer to where cabs wait.

The Big E 5:14 PM  

@DB - Cab as in Cabernet

andrea koko michaels 5:44 PM  

Thanks for the shout out @Rex! Ironically, I turned on my computer today to finish up writing clues for a collaboration with...Joon Pahk!!!

I fear I've checked in too late to add much.

As for HELLOKITTY, let me start by saying by weird naming coincidence, Koko, my 16-yr-old Siamese cat, is watching as I type this.
He does not know ASL AND he moves his lips when he reads...

Way too tired from doing the cense-less for the past 4 weeks (I'd say more but received a threatening note from the bureau that we were not to blog or twitter about our job! Even after the fact!)
but suffice to say that 4 or 5 years ago, Will and I had a knockdown drag out fight over HELLOKITTY, something he had never heard of and I had insisted every girl would know it and everyone under 30.
He said he hadn't and that was that.
I was apoplectic, but he's the boss.

The next week he sent a nice note saying he had noticed a mention of HELLOKITTY in the paper as tho it was total synchronicity!

So for years, I have been using that to poke him in the ribs whenever he refuses to acknowledge me in the camp of cutting edge hipsters (eh, BEQ?!)

That said, I've never heard of KNEX!

Aaaaah...if only I had the same effect on editors as I seem to have on @dk!

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

Cab Calloway. He was a notorious wino. Just ask Minnie the Moocher.

fergus 6:04 PM  

I took a while to look for "hidden words" since DOUBLE SPACED sure didn't look very hidden to me. Maybe they were something BETWEEN THE LINES that the SHE DEVIL in Ibsen was implying?

Still looking ... though if I hunt in the winecellar, swap Hello Kitty for Eros, find some Ovid action, will I ever wake up ...?

JenCT 7:58 PM  

Just took a large box of K'NEX to the neighbors' for a tag sale.

When I got DOUBLE SPACED, that filled in MASADA for me - I had MASALA prior to that (isn't that some kind of Indian food??).

Thought the clues were very clever today.

andrea carla masala 8:39 PM  

In the Old testament, the folks of MASADA rather than surrender, killed themselves by eating a big bowl of some sort of Hindi mixture of spices.
I forget the Sanskrit name... ;)

JenCT 8:44 PM  

@andrea carla - Yikes!

foodie 9:09 PM  

re the ASL discussion: I believe the reason for using ASL, as opposed to any other (oral) language in testing the language ability of chimps is that they are at least as adept at signing as humans. By contrast, the motor requirements for making sounds evolved quite a bit as one moves from chimps to humans. So, if you want to compare ability, and not get hung up on the motor aspects, signing was a clever way to go.

In case anyone cares about the details (pepper picking?)-- a gene, called FOXP2, had been identified that is critical to human language, and when it is defective, it causes significant speech problems. Chimps have a similar gene, but while we share a huge percentage of our genomes with chimps, this particular language-related gene is quite different between us, making oral speech a uniquely human endeavor.

dk 9:39 PM  

So Josh, the quality of a puzzle can be measured by the number of comments. 80+ for a mid week puzzle is an A or an A-. I have been so busy obsessing on a certain constructor I have slacked off on my blog analytics.

@foodie, back in the day we tried using ASL with non-verbal patients with near as we could tell IQ's above 60 and decent fine motor skills. We had limited success and our research suggested overall defects in the ability to communicate (along with the inability or lack of desire to speak) with some (e.g., profoundly Autistic children). I wonder what, if any, relationship FOXP2 has with cortical functions related to attention, exchange etc.

I say lack of desire as i once had great success with an allegedly nearly catatonic gentleman and a 9mm Beretta that I accidentally removed from my desk during our interview (clip was with the bailiff). Currently serving 3 concurrent life sentences and will be eligible for parole when he is 135. Suffice to say he could read BETWEENTHELINES.

I pleased to see that many liked this one.

Third times a charm -- good night all (Andrea most of all).

sanfranman59 10:24 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:05, 6:55, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:14, 8:50, 0.82, 10%, Easy
Wed 10:01, 11:49, 0.85, 13%, Easy
Thu 16:40, 19:20, 0.86, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:41, 1.06, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 3:43, 4:30, 0.83, 13%, Easy
Wed 5:10, 5:48, 0.89, 22%, Easy-Medium
Thu 7:35, 9:15, 0.82, 12%, Easy

mac 10:30 PM  

I might agree with one of you, or several of you, but the reality is that I got "between the lines" WITH NO CROSSES, and don't ask me why.

I spent today, from 10 am until 8.30 p.m. at the Hospital for Special Surgery today, and this puzzle and a good book and the Wrath of Klahn were a great help. I also should have brought some dark chocolate. Will tomorrow, with the almonds. Hospital food is disgusting, and so many people working there are obese.

Anyway, KNEX? Never heard of it> That fight? I thought it had to be that thrilla.... Definitely wanted a food answer for the bar mitzvah. Licorice is black, the red stuff is just candy. Jesser gets it, it's supposed to be black, chewy and salty, and it's wonderful when you have a cold or a sore throat.

I hate it when my belove Cabernets
Sauvignon are diminished to cabs.....

P.Abdul 10:47 PM  


I'm of the opinion that if you have to explain a joke, it's not that great a joke to begin with (or you told it poorly).

See @3-6-6-6-6-3 @ 5/23/10 6:07 PM

IMO, "cicles" (and other themes) are like good jokes --- they're much better whan you don't need to 'splain them.

Glad you could make it your own.


3-6-6-6-6-3 6:07 PM

foodie 11:07 PM  

@dk, if I answered you, someone will pop my balloon. So, I'll answer you off line : )

@mac I hope all went well at the hospital!

@andrea and Rex, re Will and HelloKitty, it makes me wonder whether one could create a whole theme around stuff that is way off Will's radar screen and yet familiar to the rest of us mortals.

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

super late getting in here!

Should "cab" be capitalized? "Cab"?

Shark 11:51 PM  

@andrea carla michaels: Hindi mixture of spices? HINDI mixture of spices? HINDI?? :-)

aside, enjoyed the puzzle (maybe because i arrived at "double spaced" before i found "between the lines"? don't know, but i always enjoy the unusual)

Citizen Dain 1:49 AM  

@foodie from yesterday

Thanks for the further explanation on the "Relative difficulty" rankings. I was not trying to criticize the rankings, it is just very interesting. As someone who is a very new solver and not able to finish the puzzle the second half of the week, I am very aware of difficulty levels. And it it just seems that whenever I go through the puzzle smoothly, Rex ranks it "Medium" and whenever I have a great deal of trouble Rex ranks it "Easy". I think the problem is that I am not nearly at the level of all of you online solvers, with concern over "time of completion" rather than "less than 20 blank squares left by the time I am stumped". I am just practicing every day and hopefully soon the "relative difficulty" will apply more broadly to me as well! thanks again for the explanation. I look forward to reading the blog (and the comments) every day!

william e emba 1:37 PM  

The next week he sent a nice note saying he had noticed a mention of HELLOKITTY in the paper as tho it was total synchronicity!

I had that from Shortz too--the synchronicity (not the followup nice note). He rejected a puzzle of mine, partly for good reasons, but some of his ideas of obscurity were ridiculous. The one that shocked me was "Sufi". The very day he e-mailed the rejection with the comment, Sufi was in the NYT, front page, with nothing beyond context to explain it.

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

I thought the "lines" were the black squares? (After all, the clue says to concentrate on two particular columns, so the presence of other black squares elsewhere is irrelevant.)

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Sudsy in Chicago 8:12 PM  

Why thank you, Beatriz. I never knew you could buy Viagra online . . .

MC, thank you so much for this:

Best moment of this puzzle: we had WILD RICE (which, yes, can be red or black) for the longest time, before realizing WILD wasn't it. Figured out the NE across clues, went partway with "LOCO RICE" (y'know, crazy, multicolored rice...) and then ended up with LICO. Scratched our heads for about 2 minutes wondering what the hell was this "lico rice". Much laughter ensued.

Absolutely hilarious! I've been there and done that so many times. And I gotta say, "loco rice" sounds like a fabulous product idea. I wonder if rice could be bred to produce multi-colored kernels the way corn does . . . I think you're on to something!

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