Dweller in Pristina / THU 11-11-10 / West coast brew for short / Antimicrobial bit in mouthwashes / Iranian city of 1.2+ million / Like wizards caps

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: TURN TURN TURN" (35A: #1 hit by the Byrds ... or directions for reading the answers to this puzzle's starred clues (always clockwise as indicated))— five theme answers must be rotated however many degrees are indicated in order for the correct answer to be visible ...


Word of the Day: Jim ZORN (23D: N.F.L. coach Jim) —

James Arthur "Jim" Zorn (born May 10, 1953 in Whittier, California) is a former American quarterback in the National Football League. He is currently the quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Zorn was a left-handed quarterback, and is best known as the youthful and charismatic leader of the (then-expansion) Seattle Seahawks of the NFL, for their first seven-and-a-half seasons. He was the quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2007 season. He was hired by the Redskins to be their head coach starting with the 2008 season and remained head coach until being fired in the early morning of January 4, 2010, the day after the final game of his second season as coach. Shortly thereafter, Zorn was hired as Quarterbacks Coach of the Baltimore Ravens. (wikipedia)
• • •

Very mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I really like the theme concept, and the fact that it introduces so many "Z"s into the mix. On the other hand, the fill ... was not pleasant. ZINC ION, while a thing, is not great as a theme answer. But that's a minor issue. The bigger issue is the (poor) quality of (so much of) the short stuff. I'm also ambivalent about the mild loopiness of some of the mid-range stuff (SOZZLED, KOSOVAR (9D: Dweller in Pristina)), but I'll stick to the manifestly bad—like TWOHR and OMERS (!?)—and then the onslaught of mediocre—'ENRY (did 'e 'it the 'OMERS?), ATYA, TAWS, ORNO, NYES (19A: Actress Carrie and others) (Actress who?), TAIS, OEN, DOZERS, a SOZZLED TOPER, and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, and OKD (that hurts even to look at).

The theme tricked me, as it led me to believe that the letters were to be rotated individually. That certainly worked for NHZUHOZ (ZINC ION) (20A: *Antimicrobial bit in mouthwashes [90 degrees]) and UOZHU (CONIC) (22A: *Like wizards' caps [90 degrees]). But then I could Not figure out why 43A: *Apollo 11 and 12 [180 degrees] (SNOISSIWNOOW) started with MISSION spelled backward (the upside-down part I got) ... had to rethink my entire concept of rotation. Frustrating, but in an enjoyable "aha" kind of way. Was really, really bad at imagining 270 degrees on the fly. Somehow fumbled my way to NO ONION (61A: *Specification in a burger order, maybe [270 degrees]=>ZOHZOOZ), but since I didn't know the answer to 59A: *Marriage, say [270 degrees], I couldn't even fumble. Wasn't til the puzzle was totally filled in that I realized that ZOHZC was UNION.

Nice Persian crossing in SHAH (44D: Bygone sovereign) and SHIRAZ (54A: Iranian city of 1.2+ million) (which I know only as an OEN-related product). Also enjoyed BRAZOS — a seldom-seen river that I know from some old western title I can't recall — and, especially, SHOUT-OUT, the freshest thing in the grid by a mile (11D: Public mention). AMANDA Bynes is the kind of pop culture knowledge that I keep on hand without having any real understanding of its meaning (1D: "She's the Man" actress Bynes). She's likely teen-famous for something, but I don't know what.


Did Jim THORPE swim!? (51D: Five-time Olympic gold-medal swimmer) ... nope, it's Australian swimmer Ian THORPE who's being referred to here. I have no memory of him whatsoever. I do, however, have memories of OLY, a bygone beer from outside Olympia, WA (7D: West coast brew, for short)

I assume everyone knows that "Game maker" in five letters is ATARI ATARI ATARI (17A: Game maker starting in 1972). Unless there's some boardgame maker I'm not considering.

The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

117 comments:

John V 12:10 AM  

I, too, had mixed success in decoding the theme. For, me, NE was a bear, as did not know Brazos river and had to check spelling of Shihtsu. In any event, not clear if this is accurate, as Rio Grande is longer, albeit a border river. Stared at 59A and just thought huh, until I came here. So, save for NE, fill came pretty easy, but when finished, not always sure what I had.

All in, an easier Thursday then usual.

nanpilla 12:17 AM  

My printer is out of ink, so I was forced to do this one on the computer. What a bad day to have that happen! Besides the fact that I get no enjoyment doing a puzzle on a computer - I also couldn't rotate it as I went along. First time I got to see the happy pencil, though. I must admit I was rather amazed when I got it right the first time through.


Certainly a fresh idea - but with the constraints on the letters that were available for use in the theme answers it led to some very unfortunate fill, as @Rex pointed out.

All those Z's are what first clued me in to the theme, then got it at MOON MISSION. (or whatever it was in the grid. Since I don't have a piece of paper in front of me, I've already forgotten most of the puzzle - arrghh)

Remember Ian Thorpe as the Thorpedo.

Clark 12:27 AM  

I loved this puzzle! The song TURN TURN TURN is a favorite of mine, which helped. (Sung at Woodstock I believe. "Haven't we met somewhere before, Woodstock, Toronto, Albany in '69?" I understand that was a great pickup line in the early '70s. I was a bit too young to try it out.) I let the theme answers fill in until I had something to work with. Then I just obeyed orders and got NO ONION (though I got held up by not seeing how H became I). Then with UNION I just laughed outloud. Well, actually it was more of a sustained and hearty chortle.

Yin? YANG? After encountering Yin Yoga (which is a slow yoga, holding deep stretches for a long time) as opposed to a vigorous one (like ashtanga I guess) I can finally keep track of which is which -- although the whole 3 letters vs. 4 kind of gave it away. (Overheard in a food co-op in Bloomington, Indiana in the late '70s: Now which one is yin and which one is yang, is the short grain brown rice yin or is it the long grain?)

(wv: deous: _____ volenteus (God willing))

retired_chemist 12:36 AM  

Very cute. Agree with Rex on the less than stellar short fill. Didn't get the gimmick until almost the end because I was dong so well with the crosses of the theme answers. Mr. Happy Pencil hid for almost two minutes because I had a typo (KOSIVAR/UIZHU) I couldn't find. VERY hard to get that sorted out without figuring out the theme, but when Iknew that UOZHU => CONIC but UIZHU => C-NIC it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Bet I am not the only one to have 23D as Jim MORA first. A much more successful NFL Coach.

Nice SHOUT-OUT to my favorite red wine (SHIRAZ) @ 54A.

73A - a cockney's 4-bagger, no? Maybe 'ENRY'S.

captcha - restive. Not a useful quality in crossworld.

chefwen 12:43 AM  

Cannot really comment on the puzzle which I have yet to finish, but I did want to thank @chaos1, Clark, & archaioprof for their kind words earlier today, they really meant a lot to me.

Will try to finish tomorrow morning (afternoon, to all y'all) when I get my head on straight)

Anonymous 1:54 AM  

My wife, who does not do puzzles, loved this one as I flipped the laptop around to show her. Not a good one to work on the computer, but as my wife noted, it could have been worse if I did it on the desktop or better if on the netbook (I think I finally found a use for an iPad)....

andrea cali michaels 2:40 AM  

!!!MOM (180 degrees)

Really amazing.
Got it at MOONMISSIONS tho I knew something was wrong with TAM as a marble, but couldn't figure out what...same deal with nORN as the coach...I mean I totally got what the puzzle was after, I just couldn't write it in right and I was doing it in pen!!!

Would have gotten it much sooner if I had even the slightest confidence in how to spell SHIH-TSU....I tried Shitzu, Shizzhu, etc.

Had TAFT for POLK...good trivia question: how many presidents have only four letters in their names?

I think even the constructors name is one of these...ZHOU (COIN?)

Wildly creative...I will probably remember this puzzle's concept (if not the fill) for the rest of my life!!!

andrea extra ketchup michaels 3:08 AM  

ps
yesterday ONION, today, no ONION.
Tomorrow? Hold the pickle.

jae 3:27 AM  

I too had andrea's problem with the SHIHTZU spelling. Got it in the end but it was a bit of a struggle. Clever theme but slightly annoying. MOONMISSIONS was my aha but I spent a lot of time translating letters into other letters. I think all the Zs puts this in the plus column.

Oscar 6:47 AM  

Sadly, all puzzles like this will pale in comparison to (and use the same words as) this one by Byron Walden:
http://www.xwordinfo.com/Crossword?date=4/1/2004

Leslie 6:54 AM  

Okay--I finished, and correctly, too, without the slightest concept of what the theme answers were or what the "rotating" thing was. Had to come here, read Rex's blog (which didn't spell it out the way I'd hoped it would) and read everyone's comments, which finally led me, circuitously, to the "literally turn the newspaper 90 degrees" tip-off.

When you're working the dead-tree version, and your block letters are less than lovely, it's a bit of a hindrance to seeing the sideways answers!

Anyway, every morning with a crossword in it is a good morning.

glimmerglass 7:31 AM  

Had trouble with the theme because my pencil H's sideways don't look much like I's, and my U's definitely don't look like C's. Caught on with NO ONION. Paper or ipad would be okay. I pity anyone with a desk monitor.

SethG 7:36 AM  

Wonderfully inventive theme, and a terrible solving experience. Maybe if I used block capital letters when I solved on paper...

andrea noic michaels, you need to rotate _and flip_ to get coin. I'm just glad we didn't see Cyrillic Э or И.

Not knowing Olympia beer, using [Actress Carrie and Science Guy Bill] would have helped. I always prefer multiple people to [and others].

DavidCrosby 7:58 AM  

How could you not love this puzzle? Sure, the fill was not pretty but sometimes you have to give a little with a brilliant construction like this. I was doing this on my laptop in bed last night with my wife asleep next to me. She is neither a puzzler person nor a computer person. She awoke with me looking at the screen turned 180 degrees upside down and said "what the hell are you doing NOW?"

CFXK 8:01 AM  

A more accurate to construction of the 31D clue would be "Informal/formal response to 'Who's There?'"

Ben 8:10 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle by Andrew COIN.

Mary 8:13 AM  

Didn't like this puzzle. I do my I's as a single stroke without the serifs. Bah.

KooKooKaChoo 8:30 AM  

One glance at the clues to this puzzle and already felt oozy. (Oozy?!?!)

Filled in what I could (not bad, 3/4 maybe). Came here for the theme and the rest.

Impressed, but not amused. Hate math in my crossword.

On to Friday!

joho 8:34 AM  

Amazing concept. I got it at MOONMISSION. My H's don't make good I's so they were a stretch to see, but when I eventually got it I totally appreciated the cleverness of the theme.

Thank you, Andrew Zhou!

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Did anyone notice that letters from the creaters name, ZHOU, appeared in the first two starred clues? I kept wanting to put the letter U in the others.

jesser 8:58 AM  

I'm swimming against the tide today. Hated it. Absolutely. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I habitually put little hash marks through the middle of my Zs, which makes rotating them look like gibberish. By the time I figured out what was going on (at NO ONION), there were so many compromised Zs that the solve just pissed me off.

With nothing else to say about the puzzle, I'll share my Facebook status with Rexville and then sign off.

Jess Williams thanks every soldier, past and present, and especially those who are/were willing to bleed, suffer and die protecting a country that denies them the right to serve openly and proudly. Shame on you, America. Every soldier and every veteran deserves our unqualified support and thanks.

Sempa! (and Fi!) -- jesser

mmorgan 9:05 AM  

Loved it but it got me dizzy! Couldn't quite finish... had a typo on KOSOVoR and just couldn't get the 3rd letter of 20A (NH_UHOZ???) as I didn't know the 3D river (BRA_OS).. but I should have guessed a Z now that I look at it.

For a while I had SNOISSIMNOOM for 43A (thinking it was just MOON MISSION backwards), but GATEWAY got me to flip those M's into W's.

I think my favorite is ZOHZC for 59A (Marriage, say). Way cool.

Very, very clever, but with some pretty nasty fill (SOZZLED?? TOPER?? OMERS?? ZORN??)

captcha = uncalvel, = @oscar's comment?

PuzzleNut 9:06 AM  

Biggest problem was that I solve on paper and I've been putting slashes through my Z's ever since high school algebra, and they don't look much like N's when rotated. H's definitely don't look like sideway I's. My U's have a tail, so they don't rotate well either. But MOONMISSION confirmed the TURN theme and the large number of Z's was another tip-off.
The spelling of SHIHTZU was a big question mark for me, plus I didn't know ?ORN or SOZ?LED, but when in doubt, I added a Z. CONIC finally gave me the H/I and U/C transformations and I was able to confirm the rest (and fix SHIzTZU).
Given the constraints, I can forgive the many shortfalls that Rex points out. Plus, this must set a record for Scrabble-ness.

PuzzleNut 9:07 AM  

Just noticed that @jesser makes Z's the same way. Thought I was the only one.

David L 9:10 AM  

I got the idea of the theme early on, but I still found it very difficult to figure out the theme words. Took me a ridiculously long time to realize that a rotated H was supposed to be an I, and that U turned into C.

On top of which, I couldn't figure out the OLY/NYE cross, neither of which I've heard of. So DNF.

Bah, I say. Bah, and bah again.

David L 9:12 AM  

PS I suppose this is my comeuppance for saying that the LEILA/ELISIR cross yesterday was OK.

Tobias Duncan 9:14 AM  

@ jesser. I am will you on all counts

quilter1 9:19 AM  

I, too, do not like math in my puzzle and while I finished, puzzled, had to come here to learn the trick. Hand up for needing to look up SHIHTZU in the dictionary as I couldn't remember the extra H. Oh, well, maybe it will be fun again tomorrow.

The Big E 9:21 AM  

Count me as one who did not enjoy this puzzle. Thought it was forced and annoying. I see the rotational issue now being the words and not the letters, but it assumes people do not write "I" without the serifs, as stated, or TOTALLY screws with people who write in lowercase. A lowercase n vs. an uppercase N destroys the attempted elegance.
I appreciate the effort, but did not like it at all.

The Big E 9:22 AM  

That said, thanks for the "Mai Tais" clue - made me long to be back on my honeymoon in Maui! :-(

chefbea 9:24 AM  

Hated the puzzle. Kept turning the paper around but still couldn't figure it out!!!

Of course knew Gateway. another sty today

efrex 9:37 AM  

I caught on pretty quickly to the theme (TURNTURNTURN was actually my starter), and thought it very creative. The N/NW sections has far too many stretches, though (ASSIZE, OLY, LIEU, TWOHR), and ZINC ION is really weak. One too many sacrifices of elegance for the sake of the concept for my tastes.

kenneth 9:39 AM  

St Louis' arch is GATEWAY non-symbolically, too.

Darryl 9:42 AM  

This one left me feeling stupid, not that that's either a bad nor an inaccurate thing. I too got stuck on rotating the letters rather than the word, as it worked so well for the 90 degree entries, you have the word nicely spelled out horizontally. Then, and this is where stupid comes in, I got angry at the 270 degree entries. I'm all "Rotating them by 270 is the same as rotating them by 90, as they're all symetric about their verticle axis". This puzzle also, graciously or not, also pointed out that I am way more spacially challenged that I thought, as I couldn't perform the rotation in my head, and refused to write down the answers on paper so I could see it.
So, apparently there was a major headache for computer solvers, as a physical rotation wasn't facile enough to help with the solve, and there was a major headache for paper solvers, as handwriting issues kept the solution hidden.
This one wupped my butt, which is fine. Hat's off to you Andrew.

Lindsay 9:47 AM  

What others have said. Had to devote post-solve thought to how an "h" or "H" could be viewed as an "i". Ick.

@Andrea Cali: Tyler-Polk-Taylor

Very sing-songy sequence easy to remember. Mexican War era.

Glitch 9:56 AM  

Add me to the slashed Zs, non-serif Is, malformed Cs and Us, dead tree camp that had a tough time deciphering the theme answers even after "discovering" the trick.

For all the computer solvers who, in the past, cried foul when a puzzle favored us dead treers, you win this round ;)

.../Glitch

Ulrich 10:06 AM  

When I got the theme, I thought "oh those poor people who use lower-case letters!", and sure enough, a former Pittsburgher like me had to face that hurdle. The problem, as has been mentioned before, is that there are so few letters that can be rotated to form a recognizable (barely sometimes) letter, which limits significantly the possible answers that could be used.

Reflections about a vertical axis would give you more possibilities b/c there are so many bilaterally symmetrical letters in the alphabet we use. You could even come up with words that remain words after the reflection, like OAT/TAO, not to speak of words that are symmetrical to begin with, like OTTO or MOM (hi, Andrea!). But reflections would violate the theme song. Anyway, I'm with the general sentiment here.

Van55 10:10 AM  

Way too gimmicky for my taste. I am fortunate that I solved it in AcrossLite, as I never serif my I's.

22 proper nouns today, by my count.

JoAnn 10:19 AM  

Medium? This was was Challenging for me, Even filling in most of the letters didn't help me understand the turning by degrees trick. Thanks, REx. You did it again!

Masked and Anonymous and bending head around a lot 10:30 AM  

Seven C(270 deg.)'s! Thumbs C(270 deg.)d(180 deg.)!!

ASSIZE(0 deg.)!?!? O(whatever deg.)C(270 deg.)U(90 deg.)I(90 deg. & serifs)!!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

I thought this one was fun and impressive, with the following reservations:

Re: 14 A, General's cry, MARCH, I don't think there are m any armies in the last thousand years where the General gave such orders rather than delegating the job to his inferiors; OLY/NYES is a borderline Natick; 73 A, OMERS, though gettable from crosses, struck me more as a Maleska than crosswordese (there is a distinction in my twisted mind); and, as @kenneth noted, the thing in St. Louis is named the GATEWAY Arch.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

Fantastic puzzle.
Given the constraints of the theme and execution I have no problem forgiving the fill.
Doing it on paper was very fun as I sat spinning it around to see the tricks.
You just never know what you're going to get on Thursdays.

Masked and Anonymous II 10:44 AM  

P.S. Constructor friend Erul says 11 U's, dependin' on how you look at it. I don't get it.

reniekk 10:44 AM  

Huh? Serif or sans serif....90 degrees or 270 degrees....???Huh? Misspelled ABBES so there went BRAZOS, have little tails on my U's so there went ZINCION, felt like I was being POLKed while everyone was WINKing to each other...just diabolical..@jesser..hear, hear!! Well said @masked and anonymous!

chefbea 10:46 AM  

The Gateway Arch. The gateway to the west.

reniekk 10:49 AM  

Im still looking at everythink with a certain kink in my mind....fer instance @maskedandAnon....how do I rotate Erul to get a more recognizable name out of that? I have a feeling this puzzle will be creeping me out for days!

mmorowitz 10:49 AM  

OLY/NYE cross killed me too. Obscure actress crossed with a nickname for a beer I'm not familiar with. Impossible.

Mary 11:00 AM  

The theme was crazy even after I got the rotation thing and I agree with comments re: short answers being off the wall, which is no problem in and of itself but these ricocheted off the wall of some long-abandoned house. Never 'eard of Carrie Nye; haven't seen a taw marble since a kid, etc. and ended up cheating so didn't submit it! Oh well, look forward to tomorrow's...

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Here in Maine, OLY is a nickname for a senator.

BigSteve46 11:04 AM  

Discriminates against us dinosaurs who still wait for the actual newspaper to be delivered and do the puzzle with a pen or pencil. Many of us write letters differently - upper or lower case, euro (lines throgh the z, etc.,). This is a puzzle for the electronic guys (although I'm not sure how you rotate your computer monitors.) Boo!!! A bad one. (Although I completed with only an error or two, having no idea what the gimmick was.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

SHEESH!

Oh Those Zs 11:25 AM  

I think that many people, in particular math or physics majors, add the horizontal line though a printed Z to help distinguish a letter Z from a number 2. Some have already commented about this manner of printing a Z, which as a former math major I learned and follow. Even after getting"moon mission" it took me a while to understand what to do with the other themed answers because of this. Nice idea for a theme in concept, but I quite dislike how it turned out. Boo!

ArtLvr 11:29 AM  

Vertiginous.

∑;(

mac 11:41 AM  

What Seth said, very clever but not very enjoyable. The h/i conversion didn't work very well in my handwriting. Love shout-out and sozzled.

Now I will always suspect this sort of trick when I see a lot of z's, that's helpful at least.

Matthew G. 11:44 AM  

On balance, I liked this. Depending on my daily schedule, I vary my solving among the iPhone, computer and paper, and it was a happy thing that today was an iPhone day.

Guessed the theme as soon as I spotted the reveal clue, but thought the bracketed instructions to rotate clockwise were unnecessary and clunky and killed much of the fun in finding the theme.

Still, figuring out the individual rotated clues was a fun change of pace from a typical solve. Had never heard of OLY or NYES, but guessed correctly. My only error was a stupid one --- I had AlAR instead of AGAR --- I am forever getting those two confused.

I accepted SOZZLED as inevitably correct from the crosses, but had never heard it before. And here I thought everyone who's gone to college should know, if nothing else, all the slang terms for being completely drunk. My parents would probably think their money was wasted.

I actually rather liked KOSOVAR. I think it looks pretty elegant up there.

Remember Ian THORPE very well from several recent Olympics, and in particular because of the "Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi!" chant from his frequently televised fans. Thank goodness, too, or the SE corner might have been impenetrable.

The short fill was indeed horrible. But I'm not sure that was avoidable with a theme like this, and I didn't really think about it much because I was busy enjoying the theme.

I, too, noticed that the constructor's name is ZHOU and wondered if seeing his own name in a mirror inspired the puzzle.

Sparky 11:45 AM  

DNF. Had MOONMISSION and enough letters to figure out TURN TURN TURN. Brain not up to 270. Can't spell SHIHTZU nor DOsERS. Just got ticked off and quit with SW and several theme entries unfinished.
Carrie Nye mainly famous for being married to Dick Cavett. What about Bill Nye the Science Guy?
I have the cranky pants today. Bah. It's always something.

foodie 11:59 AM  

This puzzle has put me in a ridiculous position, literally! I am on a plane, solving on my iPad. Try to rotate the darn thing, and it rights up instantly! So, I am bending my head around, while holding the iPad at an odd angle, and I notice two colleagues seated a few seats away, looking at me like I've lost my mind. There are several of us on the same flight, all headed to the same huge scientific meeting. I had to wait for the seat belt sign to go off and go explain. You think this is easy to explain?

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

I loved this puzzle!!! The fantastic theme made up for every quibble I might have with the fill.

PlantieBea 12:08 PM  

Great puzzle, but quite difficult for me since my Z's have slashes, and my U's and I's look way out of proportion when rotated. However, the biggest challenge I had, like others, was trying to mentally rotate the letters individually while reflecting the answers from right to left or top to bottom. How much easier it would have been to turn the paper :-) Finished late last night, but I realize now that the Y in OLY/NYES was missing. I am happy to see today, as well, that this was a Thursday and not a Wednesday as I was thinking last night.

Ulrich 12:10 PM  

@foodie: You made me laugh!
One of the cases in which the computer tries to be helpful and fails dismally...(no, I'm not going to start my standard rant against the programmers at Microsoft)

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

@Foodie - You couldn't have just left the iPad flat on your tray and rotated it?

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

The thing I like about the NYT puzzle when compared to the rest of the rag is that in the puzzle you get gibberish and it makes sense, whereas in the rest you just get gibberish....

Masked and Anonymous 12:48 PM  

@reniekk: Story on Erul will probably bore some, but since you gave me two shout-outs...

Crossword constructing friend "Tonto" has this signature thing he does in each of his puz's. Always has just one (non-theme) answer in the grid backwards, then clues it real weird. Asked 44 about it one time; 44 said "not fair" quite a bit, in many creative ways. 56-Down clue was "Lure from the bottom up." Answer was ERUL. So I code-named the dude Erul. Erul hasn't had much luck sellin' puz's.

M&A

jae 12:58 PM  

Add me to those that slash their Zs. Plus, I had no idea which THORPE was the swimmer.

Jim 12:59 PM  

Unadulterated fun!

To those who finished this puzzle without getting the theme...I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Really...you know what TAWS is? And SOZZLED just came to you? Whatever.

I needed the theme and still got three letters wrong (DEi instead of DEO...I didn't know what language I was dealing with here...and NeES for NYES...who is Carrie NYE again? How 'bout Bill? Li'l help? Finally, had ASiEZE for ASSIZE...still don't know what that answer means).

Anyway, brilliant concept and, as far as the fill goes, I've encountered much more maddening (if not uglier...see OKD and TWOHR) fill before so I am quite pleased by the whole experience.

P.S., since I struggled for a while before getting ZINCION, I wonder, would W, rotated 90 degrees, be kosher for E (or M rotated 270 degrees)? I toyed with it and, ultimately didn't need it obviously, but I wonder?

P.P.S, since there was a reference to onions today, it gives me the opportunity to mention the FABULOUS story in the Times today about Joe Biden's treatment in The Onion lately. One of the best satirical runs I can ever remember...and the 4th dimensional aspect of a real newspaper writing a real story about a fake newspaper's fake treatment of a real politician...just DELICIOUS!

Mel Ott 1:00 PM  

SHIIIIIIHT.

BTW, @Rex, Jim THORPE was reputed to be an outstanding swimmer, rassler, and shooter in addition to his more celebrated exploits in football, baseball, and the Olympic decathalon.

Lookup Guy 1:04 PM  

Relative to opera arias, Carrie Nye isn't that obscure.

Of the 50 NYE answers:

18 Bill(Science Guy)
15 Louis
6 Nevada County
5 Carrie
3 Bill (Humorist)
2 Russel
1 Gerald

foodie 1:05 PM  

@anonymous 12:29, technically, it should work if it's kept perfectly flat. But we were just taking off when I finished, so no trays. And I guess I was too eager to figure out what the heck was going on... Or may be it's the DTs..

@ulrich, I think there is a website called something like "damn you auto-correct" about trying to text on iPhones and how it fixes it for you with disastrous results. Or may be I just dreamt it..

WESISLAND 1:07 PM  

Help.....taws ??????

WESISLAND 1:12 PM  

Ah...a marble, never mind. Googled it instead of looking it up in the dictionary.

Tobias Duncan 1:14 PM  

its a #$#@%% marble

foodie 1:22 PM  

PS. And yeah, I know it was wrong to look at an iPad so close to take off... All kinds of embarrassment today...

chefbea 1:32 PM  

Haven't seen our scotch drinker around in a while. Where is Tinbeni???

Kumar 1:46 PM  

I write my Z with a horizontal line through the letter. Stood me in good stead until today. Solved almost all of the puzzle without getting the theme (knew something was wrong with Moon Missions), which I only learnt of from this. Ah!

miriam b 1:49 PM  

Carrie NYE (1936-2006) was Dick Cavett's wife. Somehow I knew that, and was thus spared a Natick when OLY showed up.

I habitually work the puzzle in my meditation space, which was apparently a butler's pantry when this place was built. Now it's a cozy litle cul de sac behind an upright freezer. One of my cats, who is polydactyl, always comes in at puzzle time and establishes herself on my lap. Her presence this morning made it difficult to twist and turn the paper, as any attempt to do this resulted in her hanging on with all 23 claws, so I kinda made the rotations in my head. Deucedly clever idea.

I, for one, would never request ZOHZOOZ.

apien - a primate from a distant solar system

ALAN 1:56 PM  

My u has a tail so I had difficulty with seeing it as a c. This messed up 20A and 22A. Otherwise an easy puzzle.

archaeoprof 1:56 PM  

Wow. A puzzle in the best sense of the word.

Had me scratching my head for a long time.

Way better than a rebus!!

archaeoprof 1:58 PM  

@Ulrich: and not just lower-case letters. I cross the letter Z, so it didn't look quite right as an N.

Oracle of Om Aha 1:59 PM  

Add me to the list of fans. Fresh variation on a clever theme concept. Solving experience similar to a quotation theme with blind crossings at every theme square until the light went on. MOON MISSIONS caused the first aha moment, and needed it as I didn't know SOZZLED -- juicy! Lots of fun.

william e emba 2:27 PM  

I do the puzzle in pen on paper (usually an enlarged photocopy from the NYT). I do the puzzle with capital letters. I have a slash through my Z's (mathematical, not European), and my I's get big serifs (again, mathematical), so that was mixed helpful. But physically rotating the paper was the only thing that occurred to me, not like Rex's mental contortions with the individual letters.

I got the theme off the TURNTURNTURN clue immediately. Again, doing the puzzle on paper means things like the rotations and the long Byrds clue grabbed my eye immediately.

I actually was looking at -------W---W when I got to 43A Apollo 11 and 12, which made me laugh.

I wanted the wizard's cap to be UOEHC for the longest time, but I didn't think that was quite right, nor did I believe there was a coach EORN. Why it took forever for me to get ZORN I have no idea--as a mathematician that should be the first guess! Two mathematical answers crossing each other, in fact, and I couldn't see it. Hah!

I did not know the N-ES or OL- cross, but I thought Y was the only guess to consider.

In Orthodox Judaism, everyone knows their OMERS. No, not the actual weight, but the custom of counting the OMER is done in full force for 49 nights in a row, Pesach to Shavuos, every year, so that was a total gimme, one that I knew everyone else would dislike.

Heck, the gimmick was easier than decoding some of those captchas!

Stan 2:31 PM  

Wow this puzzle just chewed me up and spat me out. Not sure I really understand the answers even now. So I can't really judge the solving experience.

@foodie: Funny story about the plane. Have a good conference!

Rube 3:26 PM  

First, the little stuff:

I cross my Zs but not a big deal to see the transformation.

@Foodie, you had me LOL in a big way.

Vaguely remembered OMER. It's approximately a gallon I believe.

We've had TAWS before, although it was about a year ago.

In Europe there are/were Courts of ASSIZEs in many countries. Must have heard of this in an English mystery.

Ian THORPE? Jim, yes, but Ian? How fleeting is fame... 15 mins, etc.

Turning the paper, or laptop? Never thought of it. I guess my spatial perception counters my total lack of pop culture knowledge... at least in this case.

ZINCION, bah.

Now, what is really important. Our leader said something about OLY being a "bygone beer"! I Wikied "Olympia Brewing COmpany" Only to find out out it no longer exists! Horrors! In fact, most of the brews from my High School days in Seattle are now defunct, Lucky Lager, Weinhards, Rainier... I feel orphaned. Leave Seattle for 50 years and the place goes to the dogs, (viz. Microsoft). I'm going to have a Beck's Dark with lunch to mourn. (Hmm, maybe that is why I forgot all about those beers of my youth.) Thank you @RP for bringing this calamity to my attention.

Still, this was a great, imaginative puzzle, if too sad. Only writeover was SHAH/tsAr.

Bretski 3:38 PM  

@Rube: I'm happy to report that here in the Northwest Olympia beer still exists. As do Rainer, and Weinhards. At least in Portland, OR. Fear not.

Rube 4:10 PM  

@Bretzki -- Apparently Olympia is now brewed in Irwindale, California, along with Lucky and Rainier. Weinhard is now brewed at the very fine Full Sail brewery in Hood River, OR. The names are all owned by multi-national conglomerates. Irwindale is near that historic city of fine old brewing traditions, Los Angeles.

sanfranman59 4:44 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 20:40, 18:58, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 11:08, 9:08, 1.22, 81%, Challenging

@jesser: You're not alone. I can't recall a puzzle that frustrated me more than this one. I never scored very well on spatial ability on standardized tests. So I was really up against it here, struggling mightily to picture the theme answers ... particularly the 270 degree rotations. Like Rex, I only got 59A: *Marriage, say [270 degrees] from the crosses and didn't learn that ZOHZC was actually 'union' until I read his write-up. Combine a high level of frustration with the theme and fill that was either outside my sphere of knowledge (ASSIZE? OMERS? AMANDA Bynes? Carrie NYE? SOZZLED?) or just plain crappy (TWOHR? OKD? ITSI? ATYA?) and this puzzle gets two thumbs down from me.

retired_chemist 5:11 PM  

@ Foodie re iPad - go to Settings. You can lock the screen so you can turn it as you require.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

@sanfranman59 said...

I never scored very well on spatial ability on standardized tests. So I was really up against it here, struggling mightily to picture the theme answers ... particularly the 270 degree rotations. Like Rex, I only got 59A: *Marriage, say [270 degrees] from the crosses and didn't learn that ZOHZC was actually 'union' until I read his write-up.

...

@Rex Parker said...

Was really, really bad at imagining 270 degrees on the fly. Somehow fumbled my way to NO ONION (61A: *Specification in a burger order, maybe [270 degrees]=>ZOHZOOZ), but since I didn't know the answer to 59A: *Marriage, say [270 degrees], I couldn't even fumble. Wasn't til the puzzle was totally filled in that I realized that ZOHZC was UNION.

=====

The mathematically less challenged will realize that "270 degrees clockwise" is the same as "90 degrees counterclockwise" and then duh!

Anonymous 7:05 PM  

@Jim, Joe Biden today was placing the wreath at Arlington, and I am sure all who come here from the USA join him in honoring all veterans who have served to protect and defend our freedom to work this silly puzzle as well as other expressions of personal liberty....

chefwen 7:12 PM  

My hand could not be higher up in the "hated it" group. Dad never could figure why I was sooooo bad at math, when he was sooooo brilliant.

wv. litilli - my rating in number knowledge.

mmorgan 7:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mmorgan 7:20 PM  

Most have probably seen it already, but there's an interesting note from Andrew Zhou on the NYT Wordplay blog:

http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/degrees/


(I also cross my Z's -- and my 7's -- but luckily for me that's not an issue on Across Lite! I really loved this puzzle!)

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

@mmorgan, Thank you. I had not and suspected a connection beteen Mr. Zhou's name and this theme. He is too young to be so brilliant....

andrea okd michaels 7:53 PM  

@sanfranman
I cross my Zs and all sorts of things...people are complaining too much about how they make their I's!!!!
There were no I's in the theme answers to make an H...
You had but to make an H to read it as I later.
Sure TWOHR and OKD are a bit stinky, but it breaks my heart that such a whimsical and fun and clever outofthebox idea is getting so little love! Fie! I want to come over and rotate your thumbs 180 degrees!

Two Ponies 9:01 PM  

@ andrea more-than-okd,
I'm with you. It was a brilliant puzzle. This sort of creativity keeps cosswords as a form of entertainment alive and vibrant. I love working the parts of my brain that lie sleeping most of the day.

Pete Phillips 9:21 PM  

Dear Rex Parker,

It pains me to say this was a brilliant puzzle, full of fun.

fergus 9:26 PM  

GRANDE was my long Texas Rio, but that wasn't the only area messed up with write-overs galore.

Anonymous 9:31 PM  

To jog your Olympics memory: Ian Thorpe had really big feet and his nickname was the Thorpedo (torpedo with an h)

Sfingi 9:53 PM  

This was really brilliant, but DNF.
Nest time, I'll do better!

Like @Alan, I make my "U" with a return line, so got discombobulated. Did get theme from NOONION - Hubster orders #10 NOONION for McD breakfast.

New words - BRAZOS, OLY, Carrie NYE (interesting @Miriam), SOZZLED. Didn't get the sports, either.

sanfranman59 10:10 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 6:17, 6:55, 0.91, 15%, Easy
Tue 10:12, 8:58, 1.14, 85%, Challenging
Wed 9:16, 11:40, 0.79, 10%, Easy
Thu 21:07, 18:59, 1.11, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:09, 3:41, 0.85, 3%, Easy
Tue 4:57, 4:36, 1.07, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 4:35, 5:44, 0.80, 7%, Easy
Thu 10:31, 9:08, 1.15, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Not surprisingly (at least to me), the number of solvers who completed this puzzle online was well below the average Thursday puzzle (424 vs. 546). Bring on Friday's puzzle ... please!

Noam D. Elkies 11:47 PM  

The NYTimes blog confirms that ZHOU → COIN was the kernel of the puzzle (or should I write "əızznd"?). I enjoyed it, notwithstanding some of the lousy fill that the theme calls for. (Though the ridiculous cross of 7D:OLY with 18A:NYES was unnecessary, since OLA/NAES was available, and this grid is hardly lacking for Scrabbliness even with one fewer Y.)

Can't believe some people are complaining about "math in the puzzle" because the clues tell you to rotate 90, 180, and 270 degrees. It's not like we have MODULO or COSINE in the grid (both of which have been seen there). An no, it wouldn't do to say 90 degrees the other way: 35A:TURN_TURN_TURN is consistent with making a quarter-TURN to get 20 and 22 Across, then another quarter-TURN for 43A, and a third one in the same direction for 59A and 61A.

NDE

P.S. 20A:ZINC_ION is indeed part of some antibiotic preparations that feature zinc bacitracin, though I thought it's the bacitracin that kills the germ, not the Zn counterion.

reniekk 9:17 AM  

@miriam b..I had a polydactyl cat once...24 toes..6 oveer regulation! We called her Yeti when she was on the ground, and Velcro when she was in your lap!! LOL..THX for jogging that memory loose

miriam b 9:52 AM  

@reniekk: Our cat's name is Polly!

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

This was fun!

Wendy 11:39 AM  

I didnt get the whole H into I thing until I saw your blog. OF course turned its a capital I. What with computers we seldom see those anymore. That explains the no onions I thought I had. CArrie Nye married to Dick Cavett. Didnt love this puzzle.

BTW 11:44 AM  

The answer grid in today's printed Times has the theme answers in a different font from the rest of the grid. I suppose this is to make the rotated H's look more like I's. Sort of an odd admission that that was the greatest stretch?

chaos1 4:26 PM  

Where to start ? So much interaction on the blog today. I'm an electrician, but we've already beat the RHEOSTAT thing to death. Likewise the SANDSTONE thing, and I know nothing about rocks unless you count diamonds but never thought of crack cocaine?

@H Hefner 12:28 A.M.--- I desperately wanted to plug that name in there. Having worked for Playboy between December of 71 and March of 73, I thought it was the perfect clue. After falling one letter short, I settled for DUSTMOP and then DUSTRAG, before accepting DUSTPAN. Boring !

chefwen @ 1:32 A.M --- I too, wanted ASS at 39A, but soon remembered that I was at the NYT website, as opposed to B.E.Q.'s. Various SLINGS were popular circa 1940-50, but the " Singapore " is the only one that has maintained a modicum of popularity.

Andrea WOTD Michaels @ 4:11 A.M.-- I'm impressed ! I too, though the clue was baseball related.

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

You never cease to amaze me Lady !

Mr.Ed said @ 9:30 A.M.--- I read 29d quickly and thought it read "Top of Catherine the Great." So, am I to surmise that your fantasies include viewing her from that perspective ?

Foodie @ 10:42 A.M.--- I'll cut you some slack on your new protocol, vis-a-vis trying to hone the parameters of what constitutes cheating. Checking a letter or a word is O.K. if you're 99% positive that you are correct. However, if the check corrects an error, you have to accept a total fail. That's only if you see things in total black and white as I do. Different people have different personal standards. Almost is very good, but almost is not perfect, and I think that's what everyone should strive for ?

Shamik @ 11:22 A.M.--- Hang in there buddy. I have two plates and seven screws in my ankle. A by-product of my never ending passion for motorcycles. The main thing, is to follow your physical therapy rehab rigorously. 85% is not good enough ! You must work through the pain until you're 100%. Otherwise, you will pay for it down the road. It just depends on how old you are, and what you're willing to consider as acceptable.

Martin @ 11:43 A.M.-- Early Butt Welding ? Do they perform that shortly after circumcision ? You crack me up ! Bad pun!

JaxinL.A. @ 11:43-- Very informative post. Thanx !

chaos1 4:27 PM  

Where to start ? So much interaction on the blog today. I'm an electrician, but we've already beat the RHEOSTAT thing to death. Likewise the SANDSTONE thing, and I know nothing about rocks unless you count diamonds but never thought of crack cocaine?

@H Hefner 12:28 A.M.--- I desperately wanted to plug that name in there. Having worked for Playboy between December of 71 and March of 73, I thought it was the perfect clue. After falling one letter short, I settled for DUSTMOP and then DUSTRAG, before accepting DUSTPAN. Boring !

chefwen @ 1:32 A.M --- I too, wanted ASS at 39A, but soon remembered that I was at the NYT website, as opposed to B.E.Q.'s. Various SLINGS were popular circa 1940-50, but the " Singapore " is the only one that has maintained a modicum of popularity.

Andrea WOTD Michaels @ 4:11 A.M.-- I'm impressed ! I too, though the clue was baseball related.

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

You never cease to amaze me Lady !

Mr.Ed said @ 9:30 A.M.--- I read 29d quickly and thought it read "Top of Catherine the Great." So, am I to surmise that your fantasies include viewing her from that perspective ?

Foodie @ 10:42 A.M.--- I'll cut you some slack on your new protocol, vis-a-vis trying to hone the parameters of what constitutes cheating. Checking a letter or a word is O.K. if you're 99% positive that you are correct. However, if the check corrects an error, you have to accept a total fail. That's only if you see things in total black and white as I do. Different people have different personal standards. Almost is very good, but almost is not perfect, and I think that's what everyone should strive for ?

Shamik @ 11:22 A.M.--- Hang in there buddy. I have two plates and seven screws in my ankle. A by-product of my never ending passion for motorcycles. The main thing, is to follow your physical therapy rehab rigorously. 85% is not good enough ! You must work through the pain until you're 100%. Otherwise, you will pay for it down the road. It just depends on how old you are, and what you're willing to consider as acceptable.

Martin @ 11:43 A.M.-- Early Butt Welding ? Do they perform that shortly after circumcision ? You crack me up ! Bad pun!

Badir 5:00 PM  

I guess I was in the zone with this, and, as a mathematician, I have good spacial sense. Anyway, it was one of my faster Thursdays, and it might be the first time I was fast enough to have been in the top 50 from SanFranMan's list.

Heidi 10:27 PM  

Would've been a LOT easier if I didn't cross my Zs...darn junior high Algebra habits die hard.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

a fun-less stupid puzzle today and a waste of time figuring out nonsense

NotalwaysrightBill 5:19 PM  

Syndicated paper solver.

I wonder how many other Chinese generals, along with Pao and TSOS, have chicken dishes named after them. What's the deal with that: was there a big cookoff where the most delicious entree won the war?

Played plenty of marbles at recess as a kid, but know TAW only from xwords.

Love the clue "Formal/informal . . ." for 31D ITSI, except for the apostrophe part.

OK with OKD, ATYA, OMERS, even SOZZLED (though I've never heard it in real life), but I dislike TWOHR intensely for some reason.

I usually put crosses through my 7's & Z's also, learned to in Europe; but, once this puzz's ruse was sniffed out, that didn't present a real problem. The H's for I's gave me a little stall for awhile, though. My first theme "get" was the "NOONION" one, which I at first interpreted as "NO ON[for onion], HON."

Puzzle sucked until the trick was gleaned, then YOWSER!!!

captcha: syche: how she could have spelled her name if she weren't so intent on playin' with yer head!

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

Waste of time. Do not take kindly to this genre of tomfoolery.

Anonymous 9:11 PM  

So many critics of such a cool puzzle. I loved it. If some of the fill was a little weak, just think how hard it must've been for the constructor to work with such severe restrictions. Two thumbs up Mr. Zhou.

Dirigonzo 9:14 PM  

This one totally overwhelmed me - I solve on paper, in lower case printing, so even though I kind of got the theme I never saw the H/I or C/U connections. I did see the Z/N relationship and that helped me get some of the theme answers, but even the ones I got I didn't understand why. Rotating the whole word never, ever occurred to me. Still had fun trying to figure it out and knew I could come here to have everything explained. The puzzle originally appeared on Veterans Day and it was nice to see all the SHOUTOUTs to the men and women - past and present - in our armed forces.

rawcer 9:48 PM  

Done the puzzle Wed-Sun for years, read this blog maybe five times. I'm slow; I do it in the newspaper with ink. You think a line in your z on a computer screen was a problem? Try making "no onion" out of my careless scrawl...but I did eventually. It's a workaround, and one that was well-worthwhile. The guy's first puzzle, and a smashing debut if you ask me. You snobs who harshly criticize it would probably boo a great singer onstage.

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

Agree with all who did the grid in pencil or pen. What stuck in my craw was sozzled. I have been three sheets to the wind and even in that condition would not describe it as being sozzled.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

After 20 minutes of reading other comments, I finally began to get the idea. This was fun, but frustrating

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