Headquarters for Polynesian Airlines / THU 12-30 / Thomas Moore’s "___Ask the Hour" / Record label for "Ain’t She Sweet" / Town on Lake Geneva opposi

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Parse a phrase into three separate words.

Hi, Andrea Carla Michaels here, along with PuzzleGirl, filling in for Rex. He finally got on his plane to Florida after a two-day snow delay. If you are freaking out about the delay in the blog’s posting time, it’s bec I’m holding down the fort on the West Coast, PuzzleGirl is back East, while Rex goes South. While Rex has a travel day, I’ll write this up overnight, and PG’ll do her best to make sense out of it first thing in the morning. Relax, it’s New Year’s Eve’s eve. The fact you are even reading this means you may have bigger issues than posting times!

I love getting the chance to sub for Rex, but today he left one big airline seat to fill. Was totally up for subbing, practically begged, and then pleased Rex handed the reins to PuzzleGirl and me. But when I saw it was Joe Krozel and that half the clues were blank spaces, I panicked. I felt like a cross between Arnold Horshack ("Ooh, ooh, pick me, Mr. Kotter, pick me!") and Eminem in his so-last-year’s "Careful what you wish for":

So be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it
And if you get it then you just might not know
What to do wit' it, 'cause it might just
Come back on you ten-fold

What can I say? This was one tough puzzle, as most Joe K’s are…took me almost an hour and I’m no SLO bunny. He’s tricky and not always my fave as a solver, tho I have enormous respect for him as a constructor and innovator. I remember loving his last one, both as a constructor and a solver, so I tiptoed in. In the end, I think it was worth it. That is to say, it was more than just OTAY. Actually, OTAY (41A: “Our Gang” approval) was my first entry and I sort of cringed, as I tend to be to the left of PC (when it suits me). I worried that it seemed mildly retroactively borderline racist, as anything having to do with Buckwheat does. Plus, I’m a gal who likes to start at 1A and go across, and do my little areas, which wasn’t helpful today since 1D was "Rent-___." I incorrectly filled in A-Car. My mistake became clear immediately by 2D: SHULS, as I was confident, as a Jew from (but not in) Minnesota, that I knew the Yiddish for "Synagogues." But "RL" as the first two letters of 20A would have been ugly… so I erased A-Car (for A-COP) and began to skip around.

So, a little STEVIE here, some Suze ORMAN there, a correct guess on KWAI (58D: River in a 1957 hit film). Yet the theme didn’t hit me till more than half way through…got it at 59/61A:
NOTRE SPAS SING = NO TRESPASSING (59A: "Warning to intruders").

Ok, the theme (there are seven entries!!!!) is to take a phrase and split it up into three words, forming totally different words than are in the phrase, but cluing it as a whole. Got that?

Yet the theme didn’t hit me till more than half way through … got it at 59/61A.

Ok, the theme (there are seven entries!!!!) is to take a phrase and split it up into three words, forming totally different words than are in the phrase, but cluing it as a whole. Got that?
  • 12A: One in on the founding of a company (CHARTER MEMBER) [chart term ember]
  • 20A: Production site chief (PLANT MANAGER) [plant t-man ager]
  • 27A: One getting a bouquet? (WINE TASTER) [win etas ter]
  • 37A: Workplace where there are many openings (OPERATING ROOM) [opera tin groom]
  • 43A: Song played at the dance in "Back to the Future" (EARTH ANGEL) [ear than gel]
  • 50A: Officially (FOR THE RECORD) [fort here cord]
  • 59A: Warning to intruders (NO TRESPASSING) [notre spas sing]

I will suspend with the Word of the Day, but mine would have been my last fill: APIA, which turns out to be the capital of Samoa. APIA shares three of its four letters with AsIA … so not a ridiculous guess for 33A: Headquarters for Polynesian Airlines.

APIA/AsIA … I can almost feel hands going up on that one. And I can also almost hear SethG (coincidentally a Jew in, but not from, Minnesota) screaming about the NOTRE/FRERE crossing! While dk (a decidedly non-Jew in, but not from, Minnesota) is tittering over TITTER (44D: Nervous laugh).

If I may get even more insider-y for a moment … If it were not for the regulars on this blog, I would not have been able to get the whole Northeast corner! For example, Retired_chemist (religion and state unknown to me) wrote about IMAGO being his favorite wrong answer of the day for that GHOTI puzzle last week … and here it malapopped into this one today! (8D: “Big bug”) And easily my favorite right answer of the day was CALEB at 19A: Spy sent by Moses into Canaan which I’d NE’ER have gotten otherwise because of that crazy 10D: "Thomas Moore's "___ Ask the Hour" … and I was determined not to Google.

Every constructor male and female, young and old, Monday thru Sunday seems to have a little crush on young Caleb … even my friend Laura Levine who took this cute photo of him as he searched for a gift for Will Shortz in her Mystery Spot shop in Upstate, NY.

OK, back to the puzzle. The theme is super clever, splitting up words in an uber-parsed manner. Perhaps Joe Krozel’s inspiration was Rex’s creation of OOXTEPLERNON, which came into being by reading one line of another puzzle straight across.

The only one of the six theme entries that did not work for me 100% was WIN ETAS TER. I liked the definition a lot (27A: One getting a bouquet?) but both TER and ETAS are a bit of a stretch to begin with. Neither entry barely stands on its own when it has a definition, much less when it does not. TER is either "Thrice, medically" or "Gerard ___ Borch." ETAS is defined either as an awkward plural of a Greek letter or maybe (more appropriately given the national weather scene) as airline board abbreviations. But the bigger iffy-ness to this entry is that both WIN and NO-WIN are in the grid. A classic WIN/NO WIN situation.

As long as I’m at it, I wasn’t crazy about ARNO/ORNO and TNT/NTS, but I’ll let others scream about OUSE, EMPT and KIAS Sorento. (As a professional namer, I object. It’s one thing to add a letter to a name to coin it, but to drop a letter of a real word just looks illiterate and careless). Enough of what I didn’t like, as it is minor in the overall picture. There was a lot more to like.

I liked that there was a lot of bodies-of-water imagery: ARNO, OUSE, KWAI, EVIAN (on Lake Geneva) plus young fish from the Sargasso Sea, not to mention a "sea menace" ORCA swimming by. Loved piecing together and learning that OOLONG was Chinese for "black dragon"! (I plan to slip that into a conversation (over tea!) before oolong.)

Lots of music: OPERA, SING, STEVIE Wonder, EARTH ANGEL, PIANO, OHS, Schubert’s NONET (my first try: etude) … and as a major Beatles lover I closed my eyes (ORBs?) trying to envision 18A Record label for "Ain’t She Sweet." (…but eventually had to open them wide to get all the crossings. ATCO?!! ATCO??!)

The biggest kick out of the puzzle is looking back across and seeing how every line starts to look like it could be a theme. FIS COOL ONG. ASH SLOP IAN O. Hmmm. Maybe not.

Alright, I’ll give it one last try … How about STEVIE OR NO?

So, well done, Joe Krozel … and Happy New Year, everybody!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


imsdave 7:35 AM  

This was Friday tough for me, primarily because I shot myself in the foot by misreading applicants as applications (several times) thus being positive that RENEWALS was correct. Steadfast in that belief, the KIAS/OPERA corner stayed mostly blank for a looooong time. Finally put it down for a half hour, came back to it, slapped myself in the forehead, and finished. Very clever puzzle, but hard as every confirming cross that I needed for the downs was one of those '-' clues.

Enjoyed it in the end though.

Thanks for the write-up Andrea.

Smitty 7:57 AM  

Thanks Andrea - glad you rated it challenging!

Tough but (almost) doable....until I got hung up in the Oregon area where I had MINT for shnapps flavor.

Even when I guessed PEAR and got OPERATING ROOM, I was left swimming in the Sorrento SEA unable to get a foothold in either JAPES, APIA, JOKE or KIA

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

Printed puzzle way off-NYC-beginning with 14A. That's no fun.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

This is a piece of crap. 14 clueless acrosses. Maybe with a note pad entry, but I haven't got time for such crap. Joe Krozel should be banned from puzzledom, and
will should be horse whipped for publishing this crap. PS I did not enjoy this one.

donkos 8:42 AM  

I actually go through this puzzle which means I liked it. Like Andrea, I panicked at the site of the dashes, but unlike Andrea, I stayed panicked for a lot longer.

I got OPERA on the cross with APIA but that didn't help with the theme since I figured "Sure, an Opera can have many openings".

Once I figured out the theme, it went pretty quickly - I'm perfectly happy with getting a Thursday done in 18 minutes.

glimmerglass 8:46 AM  

@ Anonymous: "Piece of crap"? You're complaining about your own lack of insight, notJoe Krozel. Good (hard) Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

+1 for panic/relief.

Would have aced it, if not for "OISE"....

jesser 9:02 AM  

I'm glad others liked this. I did not. Methings Andrea and PuzzleGirl were WAY TRES kind.

- is not a clue.

Fogin! (the adjective I used to decribe this puzzle) -- jesser

CaseAce 9:02 AM  

Yes, A.C.M. My wifey got more than just a bissel bent when she saw OTAY as an Our Gang affirmative. Personally, I would have Chosen One far less racially provocative, were I he.
She,(My Frau) will let Herr Krozel know of her displeasure over at WP after she's had her morning cuppa!
Naturlich, I know Rex's place isn't likely to come toppling down whilst in the capable hands, and very lovely ones at that, with both yourself and Puzzlegirl at the helm.
Wishing both you and she and all of Rex's reg's a Happy and Healthy New Year. WHH

Leslie 9:04 AM  

Jeez, Anonymous 8:39! Dude, just because it makes you impatient doesn't make it a crappy puzzle. Pick your words, man. It was hard, it was challenging, yada yada yada, but it was an amazing puzzle.

ETA: Oh, wait, glimmerglass already said that.

Yes, to everybody else's stumbling blocks. @imsdave, are you me?? Changing "renewals" to RENEWERS certainly helped. D'oh.

My first entry was STEVIE and second was KWAI. NO TRESPASSING was the theme answer that finally, at long last, tipped me off to the big idea.

Did anybody else figure that the squares were going to be part of the answer? I kept thinking that they would stand for a concept that would fit in somehow--like maybe they'd stand for the word "block" or "black" or "empty" or "square" or "nothing" or something along those lines.

Anyway, my hat's off to Joe Krozel for this one!

poc 9:06 AM  

I found this Medium rather than Challenging. The run-on across clues are not a new idea. Making each segment a word (in the puzzle-solving sense of "word") is clever but doesn't affect the difficulty. I also don't understand why the NYT page recommends the puzzle be printed for solving. What would one gain from that?

The only tough answer for me was OTAY, which I've never heard of.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

@POC - In the pdf version posted on Wordplay, and presumeably the dead tree version, the cluing/numbering was significantly different. For example, in AL we had 12A: [clue], 14A _, 16A _. In the online version, they had 12A [clue] only, and in the grid they had no entries for 14A, 16A. The no entries for 14A, 16A is, IMO, a clearly indication that the answer for 12A spans the grid than the software version does.

R. McGeddon 9:16 AM  

To me JAPE is always intransitive, meaning to joke around. But the OED does have a transitive use that became obsolete after the 16th c.

DataGeek 9:21 AM  

Didn't get it, didn't like it, didn't finish it.

joho 9:31 AM  

I did this late last night thinking it would relax me before turning out the light. Not! Unlike, @Andrea, those blankety-blanks didn't panic me, they were downright irritating. Worse even than cross referential cluing.

But, and that's a big BUT, when I finally got the theme, like others, at NOTRE SPAS SING ... it all clicked and I went back to finish pretty quickly.

I had TRes before TROP (new to me) and my last, like @Andrea, was the A in APIA as I wanted JokES for JAPES. PEAR schnapps (also unknown to me) solved that problem.

Amazing puzzle, Joe Krozel, you devil! Thank you!

And, you, Andrea, for a really thoughtful, in depth, funny write-up! Great job! And, you, too PuzzleGirl!

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

@poc. If you print the puzzle and use a yellow highlighter for all across "answers" that don't have a clue, then you may see the pattern...

Anonymous 9:48 AM  


Hate Gimmicky Puzzles !

Loved the OTAY shout-out on the blog ! Go Buckwheat !

Norm 9:48 AM  

Excellent puzzle. Ignore the anonymous trash, Mr. Krozel, and have a happy new yaer!

OldCarFudd 9:52 AM  

As someone who religiously doesn't read the Bible, how the Sam Hill did I manage Caleb as my first entry?

At first, I thought this thing would be impossible. Then I got some of the theme answers, but couldn't see the point of splitting them. About halfway down, I woke up to the fact that the splits were words (or, at least, puzzle answers) in their own right. From then on it was a breeze.

I didn't watch Our Gang, although I've vaguely heard of Otay. It seems to me you have to be uber-PC to get your knickers in a twist over it.

Fun puzzle, fun write-up. Thanks and Happy New Year to all.

mitchs 10:00 AM  

I'm firmly in "liked" column. Even after having to look at EMPT.

SethG 10:04 AM  

Andrea, SethG wrote in FRERE with no crosses. It was ELVER that took 5.

EMPT? Really?

Lindsay 10:09 AM  

Started slowly, as I was supposing that the answers turned corners to accomodate the unclued words. The realization that I had over-complicated the issue speeded things up considerably.

I did cross MONOTONe with OTAe, but this error spared me any angst over latent racism in "otay", a word with which I am unfamiliar. Okay, to be fair "otae" is unfamiliar too.

Opus2 10:10 AM  

Cool puzzle, but I sucked.

No time to solve this "purely", so I googled a bunch to rescue myself (solved it in about 35 mins instead of probably never, otherwise). Probably the first time I ever googled a Thursday.

Part of my problem was that due to holidays and some unscheduled work duties (I work from home), I was conVINCEd that today is Wednesday. So I thought that this was just a sort-of-novelty puzzle, not a no-rules-required puzzle. I tried to think of a dozen possible answers to "-" as a clue. DASH, MINUS, HYPHEN, ZIP, IMGOINGNOWHEREFAST, etc.

I tried AARON instead of CALEB, ECCO (I guess I was thinking of DECCA)for ATCO, JAVA instead of APIA, YETH instead of OTAY, STAGE instead of PIANO (y'know, where a HAMmer belongs), CELT for GAEL, TEEHEE for TITTER.

Then I started to make repairs with KWAI, ORMAN, and STEVIE/VISA. After googling OUSE and SHULS, it was enough for me to see PLAN TMAN AGER as the trick, and finally I was heading in the right direction.

Done and done.

JC66 10:15 AM  

@anon 9:16

You are so right. I did the puzzle in AcrossLite and found the "-" cluing a little confusing at first. After reading your post, I checked out the dead tree version and, because there are no "-" clues, I think the the puzzle becomes much more elegant and the solving experience would have been more enjoyable.

Matthew G. 10:23 AM  

OTAY, that was indeed challenging. I didn't get the theme until deep into the puzzle. It's true that splitting up words across entries is not a new thing, but this is the first puzzle I can recall where the device was so well hidden. Other than TER, and maybe ETAS, the unclued answers look so ordinary that they don't even raise an eyebrow.

Other tricks help hide the theme, too. I had CHAR/TERM/EMBER filled in but still didn't see it, because I "saw" the burning-wood connection between CHAR and EMBER and thought there might be some pattern that would start to show up between first-and-third entries down the grid. Talk about missing the forest fire for the burning trees.

My favorite piece of misdirection is OPERA, because {Workplace where there are many openings} works just as well as a clue for OPERA standing alone as it does for OPERA/TIN/GROOM. Thinking that I'd solved one wordplay answer kept me from seeing another. Brilliant (the constructor, not me).

But this goes down as a DNF, as I had to use the Check Answers button to get through it. I hate to have done that on such a good puzzle, but I tell myself I'd have shown more fortitude on a less busy work day ... this one was so good it would have eaten my morning whole if I hadn't taken some liberties.

Hiram 10:34 AM  

Another Joe Krozel dud. The idea was OK, but the execution was abysmal. Too many black squares, too many CRAPPY little words. Seems like a computer made the whole thing. Where's the fun? At least we had Ms. Michaels filling in on the blog so it wasn't a total loss.

treedweller 10:36 AM  

I guessed what the dashes meant early but didn't get any filled in till late. Finished with mistake at SHiL/OiSE (decidedly not Jewish and not from MN, FORTHERECORD). I don't know if Oise is a river, but I sure never heard of OUSE. Rivers are a weak point for me.

Good, challenging puzzle that I thought I'd never finish but did--just how I like them. Thanks, JK and WS.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

I thought this puzzle was offal with a capital O. I got that the longer answers were broken into shorter words early on, which enabled me to solve about 3/4 of the puzzle, but since these words have no significance other than that they are words (unless I'm missing something), I don't get it. CHAR TERM EMBER doesn't clue us into any of the other answers beyond CHARTER MEMBER. Since they are merely random words, it doesn't work for me.

mmorgan 10:47 AM  

Terrific write-up, Andrea!

I came VERY close to giving up or Googling on this one (several times), but I persevered and made some lucky guesses and got a nice, clean visit from Mr Happy Pencil!

For a long time I just ignored the -'s, thinking they would turn onto answers like DASH, HYPHEN, etc., but that wasn't working out very well. Then I finally noticed the pattern (I first thought the -'s were scattered randomly about), and that led to some brief elation. But even then it still took me a while to get it all.

Had SCOT for awhile for GAEL at 39D, which led to some delays. And much of it was one sloggy letter after the other, finally ending with JAPES and KIAS (with some uncertainty about JOKE and APIA).

This was infuriating and confusing -- truly a "puzzle" in the best sense, and therefore very satisfying to solve. Great job, Mr. Krozel!

leah712 10:51 AM  

Loved it, loved the theme, which took me probably 20 minutes to get.

David L 10:55 AM  

I didn't care for this. Most of it was pretty easy, once you understand the trick -- but getting to that point took a long time. I was expecting to see some indication in the clues of what the unclued answers were all about. Seems like the difference between the printed and AcrossLite versions was significant (I work from the latter). I finished the puzzle with a sense of having been hoodwinked rather than outwitted. Not fun.

Also, I don't understand IMAGO for 'big bug,' unless 'big' is taken to mean 'all growed up' -- which strikes me as kinda iffy.

Tobias Duncan 10:57 AM  

Having the puzzle in the paper differ from the online version infuriates me.The times makes a huge amount of money by charging us to do the puzzle while the rest of the paper is given away free. They need to reinvest a fraction of that money in insuring that we have a pleasant solving experience,perhaps a full time programmer to iron out the bugs in the gimmick puzzles would be a nice start.Don't even get me started on the pittance the constructors get. The more I crunch the numbers the angrier I get.

retired_chemist 10:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 11:00 AM  

Wow. Did. Not. Expect. the gimmick, which made it a long, slow slog until way late.

First try was synonyms for “-“ (14A LESS, 16A FEWER) but soon decided there would not be nearly enough of them to satisfy all the d**n blank clues. Got a few of the “-“ clues totally from the crosses and still had no idea what was going on. Even rationalized OPERA as satisfying the entire 37A clue (Another op’nin’, another show…).

Finally the light dawned. I think it was @ 20A, which was at that point RLAN (WTF) since I fell for the 1D rent-A-CAR trap. Got rent-A-COP, which gave me PLAN, which at least was a word. While PLAN was still a definite WTF, I had enough of 21A and 22A to see the gimmick and slap down PLAN TMAN AGER. AHA! So 12A was CHAR TERM EMBER, and the rest was MUCH easier. Went back and checked: OPERA TIN GROOM. AHA(^2)! I had had the entire answer from crosses but had been totally in the dark how TIN and GROOM were supposed to be answers. One getting a bouquet was VIN, but I couldn’t see why it was French since it wasn’t clued that way. In context of including 28A and 29A, that got fixed. Easily filled in the theme answers I hadn’t yet completed and everything was cool.

OOXTEPLERNON will be displeased, since I think he wants crummy short fill. Mr. Krozel gives us good short fill with a higher purpose. He has taken the game of reading a line across and retrofitting some (droll) sense to it to a new level. All the “-“ answers could easily be clued on their own for (IMO) a nice Tuesday puzzle, since they are valid stand-alone answers.

Congratulations. Mr. Krozel. As a virtuoso construction feat that plays into the solving experience in a big way, this is one of the most memorable puzzles of the year.

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

I love Buckwheat. Otay was my first entry.
I really had to struggle and my last entry was trying to decide which vowel was needed for that pesky river.
I don't know how much fun this was but it really had me thinking.
Andrea, nice to have you and PG sitting in.
Secret word - rearaky. Pain from sitting too long?

Bob Kerfuffle 11:08 AM  

Loved it!

Not a speaker of French, so my one write-over was at 25 D, had TRES before TROP (in company of @joho.)

I must confess, when I first looked at the grid, I saw it as three separate puzzles linked by only one opening each. Since every theme answer spans two or three of those "separate" grids, I could not have been more wrong.

And, yes, I too had OTAY as my first fill!

retired_chemist 11:08 AM  

@ Andrea - terrific writeup!

location - Texas (via W.Va. and other states); religion - lapsed Unitarian (can one GET more religiously inert?).

Nice to see IMAGO :-). Agree JAPE is not well clued as a transitive verb. SHULS was in my consciousness but the d**n rent-A-CAR was SO hard to shake.

Ulrich 11:10 AM  

Since some people here consider themselves the pope who is appointed to make ex-cathedra statements, like "this is crap", I will take on the same mantle and declare, "this is great!"

After being stalled all over and not able to see how a rebus could be implied by the "-" clues, I stepped back and tried to figure out their meaning. And then it hit me--one of the more memorable aha-experiences I've had, puzzle-wise, as of late. And then to see the long theme answers emerge, like out of a fog, across the black squares with only a few letters in place was worth all the wait. (Never got around to correct my MONOTONE, though, and so didn't even see the 'offensive' OTAY. Note: One cannot stop people who want to be offended from being so.).

Bravo, Joe!

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Thx Andrea for helping me get up from my fetal position.

I have a very simple rule in doing these puzzles: If I can’t do them after two stiff bourbons, they are not fun. This was not fun. After realizing the theme, it (using a – for a clue) looked vaguely familiar, so I suppose all is fair with Mr. Shortz, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

To make matters worse, even after I got the theme, it was still hard.

I can see why Andrea wished everyone a Happy New Year – she thought this was Saturday....

John Go Bears

Dead Tree Hugger 11:13 AM  

@Tobias Duncan

You complain about this every time.

How long are you going to spend your good money on a defective product?

The "original" is the dead tree version, the on-line "virtual" puzzle is a poor substitution for the real thing --- true in most other cases too.

Show them --- vote with your $$ and buy the Paper, get the puzzle free.


Arthur 11:27 AM  

@P>G> - You're just wrong, purely and simply wrong.
a) We spend money on this, we have every right to get the valid puzzle.
b) The DTV is not available everywhere, some of us have no access to it. Hence we buy the online version.
c) The NYT could very easily, and at no marginal cost, simply email a PDF of the DTV to each of us when the versions differ, with a note in the notepad in AL (or whatever app we're solving in) alerting us to the difference between the versions, and to look for the pdf.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

So after posting my comment I go to Wordplay where there they suggest downloading the PDF version which is quite different from the Across Lite version. No doubt if Rex were here he might have a comment or two about why th NYT puts out two different versions. The PDF version only has one number going across on the theme clues, making it a tad easier to figure it out. Now I am really befuddled….

And now I see others are complaining and DTH even suggests I have to buy the paper. I already pay too much for this entertainment and those who complain that Across Lite should be the same as the print version are right and I am a lawyer and willing to file a class action lawsuit against the NYT demanding our money back….

John Go Bears (as in: Who is that anonymous fan? John - -)

chefbea 11:33 AM  

what an ingenius puzzle that I agree was very challenging. Had to google a lot and didn't discover the theme til I came here. DNF

Have to go start prepping for our New Year's eve duck a L'orange dinner. Have already roasted the red and yellow tubers for the salad.

John V 11:42 AM  

Yep, this was challenging. Had a couple of mistakes in NE, as was stuck on 23A being "Cinema Star". Just couldn't see that mistake, so that cascaded upstream (whatever that means) to NE. Also, had rent-a-car @ 1D, never thought of cop. Alas.

Found this fun, very hard for a Thursday. Got the theme, which, to me, was somewhat short of fulfilling. But, otay, nonetheless.

May I take a moment to briefly reflect on what is now for me essentialy 40 years of daily NYT puzzling and just say this: for all the sturm and drang we sometimes go through on the blog and elsewhere, what could possibly be more fun or a better way to start the day than the Times puzzle? This is just plain fun, folks!

Matthew G. 11:53 AM  

A few points:

1. Tobias and Arthur are right, and P>G> is wrong. For any multitude of reasons, there are plenty of people for whom buying a physical copy of the NYT every day is either an unworkable or a silly idea. I actually cherish the days when I have the opportunity to sit down and solve on paper, and it is my preferred solving method, but with my location, profession and mobile life, it is rarely practical. And I'm not some punk kid, but a former ink-stained wretch myself --- my first career consisted of a number of happy years as a copy editor and wire editor for a daily newspaper --- but I'm the first to recognize the reality that print editions have diminishing utility and little future. I don't feel like a traitor when I read the NYT each morning online --- I feel like a realist.

2. There should be a note that pops up on Across Lite, and gets inserted in the info box on other apps (such as the Stand Alone App for iPhone that I use to solve the puzzle on most days) telling the solver that there's a PDF available. Every crossword app that I know of features an info notepad of some kind, and this is what it's for. As Tobias states, those of us with Premium Crossword subscriptions are giving the Times enormous return relative to the small pay they give to constructors. A little notification of non-standard grids (which, by the way, I love, see point 4) is reasonable to expect.

3. I wasn't aware until reading this blog today that a PDF version had been available. And not until I actually looked at the PDF did I discover that the dashes used in the electronic versions were omitted --- it turns out there were simply no clues at all for the unclued answers, and no numbers in the boxes. That would indeed have made for a much smoother solve, and surely a better showing by me. I had no way of knowing that the dashes in my electronic version had no significance whatsoever, and I kept looking for meaning in them.

4. I love nonstandard grids and tricks when they're used tightly. I'm always baffled by the people who complain about anything non-standard as "gimmickry." Yeah, sometimes a nonstandard grid is a gimmick, but sometimes it pushes the crossword form into new and interesting territory. Today's puzzle falls comfortably in the latter category. If you're going to complain about gimmickry, explain why it's gimmickry, don't just throw that out there because some convention was broken for a day.

5. I need to buy a printer.

Tobias Duncan 11:56 AM  

50,000 people paying 39.95 a month adds up to ... well a whole bunch of money thats what.Plenty of money to write a better program than across lite, and have enough left over to hire a decent Bumfry artist to work exclusively on the online version. I understand Garson Hampfield is looking for work.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

It took 45 minutes, but I finished, so I loved it. I play using the iPad app. I've seen hyphens used before, so knew that it would take some mental effort to figure out how to use the non-hyphen clues. No gripes on the software, kudos to the constructer, and I'll be ready for Ouse/Shuls and Japes/Apia next time. Thanks Andrea!

archaeoprof 12:11 PM  

This one had me feeling like a 45D.

But then it came together. Delightful and (ala ChefBea) in-genius.

I vote with the lapsed unitarian Ret-Chem and Pope Ulrich. Way to go, Joe!

Dead Tree Hugger 12:19 PM  

@TobiasB and others:

a) That's my point --- why do you continue spending $ on a product/service you are unhappy with? (see 2)

b) The NYT is available by mail and online, both avoid the AL problems. Yes they also cost money.

c) [send pdf's?] Yes they could, but they don't. When you subscribed, they never said they would.

The NYT only uses AcrossLite (© Literate Software LLC. All rights reserved) --- cannot legally use their own programmers to modify except under agreement).

As for writing their own, don't hold your breath, the money they earn is needed to make up losses elsewhere.

You should direct your enhancement requests to Literate.

BTW: Did you read the ULA when you installed AL?

Finally, as @Anon/John "a lawyer" proposes, a class action suit should get their attention, but until then, as long a you keep paying, their cheapest response is to ignore complaints.

No it ain't right, but it's reality.

[end of my line(s) for this topic]

Van55 12:33 PM  

I hated the gimmick and did not like nor finish the puzzle.

For those who praise Mr. Kozel's fill as somehow enhancing the solving experience, I give you TNT, NNW, ARNO, ORNO, NTS, EMPT, ELVER, ATCO, FISC, SLO. Tripe, all of it, especially as clued.

Whether I sucked or the puzzle sucked, I leave it to each of you to decide. I prefer to believe the latter.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Matthew G @ 11:53 AM :

I agree with every word you wrote ! Yes, there should have been a notepad entry on AcrossLite. I may have attempted the puzzle, had I received some sort of explanation about the minus signs. Instead, I just took a look and said, " No way I'm going to aggravate myself, first thing in the morning ! "

As for the suggestion someone made, that I should buy the paper and get the puzzle for free, surely you jest ! First off, that's an oxymoron. If I have to buy the paper, than the puzzle isn't free. Secondly, buying a daily and Sunday Times, would be way more expensive than the 40 bucks spent for the on-line puzzle.
Last but not least, I wouldn't pay a dime for a copy of the NYT. That's right, and I have absolutely no idea where NPR is on my radio dial either !

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

if you're paying 39.95 a month for the puzzle, I'd like to talk to you about an investment opportunity in Las Vegas condos...

Rex Parker 1:25 PM  

What's up, kids?

First, I can't believe anyone still responds to angry anonymice. Replies are worse than the original stupid ignorable comment. Replying validates the practice. Stop it.

Second, I thought the puzzle difficult, but the theme transparent—I must have seen this gimmick in some form before.

Third, TER (Latin nerds know what I'm talking about)

Fourth, EMPT

As stunt puzzles go, this was fine. At least there's some bit of revelation, and aha after the initial aha (i.e. that the parts are potential stand-alone answers themselves).

I'm back for tomorrow's write-up.


ps I'm writing this from a deck chair by our pool. Most of the family braved Harry Potter World (packed beyond belief). Wife and stepsister and I were allowed to bail. Soooooo happy about that.

pps bought a crossword book in (of all places) the gift shop at Cracker Barrel. More on that later.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Not worth the dreck needed to pull it off. Another vote for "It sucked."

Doc John 2:01 PM  

At least the puzzle reminded me of this, my favorite wacky pack.

TimJim 2:14 PM  

I finally figured it out -- despite the hyphens. But the JAPES/APIA cross did me in. Atco was a pretty well-known label back in the day ... I think it was Cream's first label.

retired_chemist 2:24 PM  

@ treedweller - OISE is a river, but it is in Belgium and France.

We are up to our swimming trunks in four letter crossword rivers: OISE, OUSE, ODER, EDER, EBRO, LENA, AARE, and more. Did I mention OHIO, GILA, and EAST?

Pick a pronounceable combination of four letters and I think it will have a decent probability of Googling as a river. I found CALI, KALI, NENE, YODO, SETA by a (semi-) random Googling. And only missed on one in the process.

And - there is an OTAY river in S. San Diego Co., CA!

captcha heampere - did not know e;ectrical current had gender.

joho 2:25 PM  

Sorry, this is off topic, but it does relate to the NYT crossword. I just got a Kindle for Christmas and wonder if it's possible to do the crossword on it ... or is it just for reading? A quick answer would be appreciated. If it's no, then that's it. If yes, I'll try to figure it out. Thanks!

Constructor Destructor 2:29 PM  

Pretty obvious gimmick from the placement of the dashes (or lack of clues/clue numbers), too much subpar fill due to too many theme entries, and 80 words. Also, this clearly used the same constructing process as the recent Ginsberg-inspired puzzle. Tsk tsk.

Still I have to admire Joe's efforts and Will's willingness to publish stuff like this.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

There seems to be a bias in this blog against contributors who are anonymous and Rex today confirmed that in his post. Calling someone a mouse or mice is almost juvenile laughable, but, it is surprising coming from Rex, since he is also asking for money to keep the blog going. Here is some food for thought. First, some people might visit this blog on a trial basis as anonymous and then decide later to create an avatar but insulting them doesn’t do much for encouraging a more permanent participation. Second, some people might prefer to remain anonymous to avoid revealing themselves for legitimate reasons, such as identity theft or employment constraints or similar concerns. Third, some people might be technologically challenged and find anonymous to be a most convenient way in which to participate. Fourth, if Rex does not want anonymous entries, I am sure there are means to keep them from being posted. So, in conclusion, if this blog wants to grow and be inclusive, then a little more appreciation of the numerous comments from those out there who wish to remain anonymous might be appreciated. Now, whether anyone wants to reply to an anonymous posting, that is another matter....

John the Anonymouse

PS. There are also people here and elsewhere who enjoy doing the Times puzzle even though they view the Times as something they would not be caught reading in a Men’s room. The 40 bucks a year for the Across Lite version and related (whatever the hell they might be) benefits is cheaper than a round of golf at a decent muni course and certainly cheaper than buying the rag everday. However, this puzzle shows the limits of Across Lite, which Rex is constantly criticizing and on that point I agree with him.

PPS. Now we are entering the time of year when people go crazy, so Happy New Year everyone!

Rex Parker 3:07 PM  

The comment was: "I can't believe anyone still responds to angry anonymice." I stand by this. Please note the all-important adjective. And "anonymice" is a std. term (at least on this blog).


Pick a name, any name 3:11 PM  

If you're John the Anonymouse, you're not anonymous. The point isn't that we can track down your name and address, the point is that we can associate your comments with your other comments.

You don't need a google account. Where it says Name, enter a name. No technological prowess required.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

I did note the word angry And I stand by what I said. One of us is just being stubborn. You should be soaking in the rays instead of replying to anoynmice. I recall when a regular was replying to one of my postings and interjected something to the effect that they couldn't believe they were responding to an anonymous. Now that was high praise....

John the Amonymouse

Captcha was civale (appropriatelY)

foodie 3:30 PM  

Great puzzle which, IMO, did what a puzzle should do, leave you puzzled for a while. Discovering the layered theme was very helpful, especially the realization that each of the pieces was a word in its own right.

Great write up by Andrea, that had me TITTERing in spite of my head cold. I agree that WINETASTER was beautifully clued but the pieces were not so satisfying. All in all, a wonderful workout.

Rex, I have something I got from the Cracker Barrel store that I really love, and it definitely surprised me. Looking forward to hearing more.

@Joho, as far as I know, you cannot do the puzzle on Kindle. If you have an iPad, which you can use as an eReader, you can do the puzzle on it, but it's a different program than Across Lite. I wish the NYTimes would make their system more exportable.

michael 3:32 PM  

This was as hard a Thursday as I can remember, but I finally got it. Even doing this on paper, I was confused about when there were blanks and when there were numbers, though I finally figured it at. Not sure that this theme was worth the effort.

This is the perhaps the crabbiest set of comments I've seen on the blog.

ArtLvr 3:36 PM  

Kudos to Krozel!!! I saw the trick at 12A because I couldn't think of a 4-letter company founder... Also, we have had the crossword convention of a dash in lieu of clue for continued-answer before.

I can't pull up a prior example but vividly recall one puzzle where we needed to turn a corner in the middle of an answer to make it work out, and another where the edges were involved.

Well, here it was three real small words running straight across to make a real longer phrase, not so hard to figure out, especially to regulars here. As Andrea noted, it might well have been inspired by Rex’s creation of a fabled OOXTEPLERNON, the Running Joke (thanks, Andrea).

Again: good job, Joe, and HAPPYNEWYEAR, ALL


chefwen 3:36 PM  

Well, I'm standing clear of all that kerfuffle (hi Bob).

Put me in the loved it category, caught on early in the game with 20A with the PLAN in place. The other long ones were more difficult. Got a little messed up in So Cal territory but after staring at that corner for about five minutes it all seemed to fall into place in one swell foop.

Thanks for a great puzzle Mr. Krozel and thank you Andrea and P>G> for an excellent write up.

Time to go "sling some hash".

joho 3:38 PM  

Thanks, @foodie. I just figured it out, I think. The ad that's running for Kindle (using ACM's puzzle!)is for a collection of NYT puzzles, but not for the daily.

Arthur 3:59 PM  

@Chefwen - Please, please, don't confuse Puzzle Girl with P>G>

chefbea 4:33 PM  

I purchased my beet plate/avatar at Cracker Barrel several years ago!!!

jae 5:02 PM  

I did this on my new Ipad and really enjoyed both the puzzle and the Ipad experience. Got the " dash" trick quickly because I've seen variations of it before. That said, it was still a hard puzzle.

@joho - I was told you could do the daily NYT on a kindle but perhaps I was missinformed?

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

If the Times had presented the opportunity to solve the crossword as a PDF, rather than in Across Lite, the puzzle would have been "Easy" rather than "Medium" for this solver.

This is not the first time that Will has let the techies mess up a puzzle presentation; hope there will be attention paid in the future.

Despite my bit of whining, I thought the puzzle was clever and great fun.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

There was a PDF, but, as ever, the note was 'below the fold', so to speak. I didn't see it either; just downloading the crossword and leaving. I think that a special presentation merits big or bold or red or headline font-size or f...ing something better than what they already know is a problem.

And I'd prefer that they dump the answer to the previous puzzle and what-not, decrease the margins, and do a better job of it, i.e., do it right.

Sparky 5:15 PM  

DNF...now that's a surprise. It just got to be too long a slog. Caught on with NOTRESSPASSING. Chewed away at it before and after family gathering. Had a hole NW and small on Middle West.

Good job Andrea and Puzzle Girl.

My nephew has helped me with my blog, let's see it if works. I am not satisfied with the avatar, but I had to choose something.

Be happy everyone. Life is too short.

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

Wonderful commentary, Andrea. I loved this puzzle once a friend of mine explained what the dashes meant. Before that I was really stumbling around. Very clever, Joe.

Vega 5:25 PM  

This was really hard for me, and for that I'm grateful. I did like the gimmick but wished there had been some cool reveal to really give it a kick. And being neither Jewish nor from Minnesota, I too ended with OiSE/SHiLS.

mitchs 5:56 PM  

@Anonymous John: I was surprised, when I first discovered this blog, by the general antipathy toward anonymous posters. Sometimes it's even couched, not by Rex so much as commenters, as some sort of cowardice or character defect, which I still find laughable.

But after a few months of enjoying this blog it began to dawn on me that the consistent posters become reliable "friends" with whom to discuss the heretofore solitary exercise of solving. That's part the charm. For example, I've enjoyed Anonymous John's posts very much!

I think I'm right when I note that people are referred to as anonymice only when they spout negative, unsubstantiated rants like the one early on in today's comments. It's comparable to a boorish lout crashing a party. When that happens, often the host, in this case Rex, will encourage the other guests to ignore the interloper.

That's my two cents: I hope you'll continue your excellent and thoughtful comments.

Clark 6:09 PM  

This non-jew from but not in Minnesota found this puzzle hard hard hard. I got the idea right off, but it was still tough. I don't remember ever hearing OTAY. Actually, I must have heard it, but my poor delicate PC ears must have blocked it out.

(To the anonymice -- nobody cares if you use a pseudonym. What is smiled upon (by some of us anyway, I think) is your picking any old name, or otherwise identifying yourself, so that there is continuity over time. There was once a mouse that used to sign off with a squeak each time. And signing off as, say, John the _____ each time is another way to give yourself an identity in the sense I am talking about. --- For anyone who doesn't know, you can just click on Name/URL and then fill in whatever name you want. If you want.)

foodie 6:13 PM  

@mitchs, I agree with your analysis.

Many (most?) people start by lurking or posting anonymously, then decide to join and are warmly welcomed both by Rex and by the old timers. Some of the best chuckles I've had have come from anonymous comments. At those moments, I wish I knew a bit more about the authors, and had the means of recognizing them when they post again.

I miss @Phillysolver, who welcomed me and encouraged me to join the land of the "orange and blue" and come up with an avatar, etc. Are you around, Phillysolver?

chefwen 6:53 PM  

@Arthur - All this time I thought Puzzle Girl and P>G> were one in the same. Huh, color me red and/or stupid.

mmorgan 7:06 PM  

Agree with @Clark and @foodie. Totally.

I grew up with Little Rascals, but only learned "Otay" from the somewhat bizarre 1994 film. (That was also my first fill today!) I'm also left of PC but there were far more offensive portrayals back then than Buckwheat. (This is a complicated issue, and I could go on about it at great length. But I won't.)

To me the difference between the AcrossLite and PDF version is just very interesting. The latter would indeed have made things easier. But I see no need to get into a snit about it -- instead, I can revel in the fact that I fully solved the harder version. Yay!

And I think that those who post here over and over and over as simply 'Anonymous' (with no other 'distinguishing characteristics') should consider adopting SOME identity/avatar (e.g., Potato Chip; Dirty Sock; Tree; Slippy Chair; Whatever) just to establish some distinct and identifiable and coherent identity over subsequent posts. Otherwise it's just a combination of lurking and potshots. I also enjoyed Rex's interchange with a somewhat less anonymous Anonymous.

After all, we all know that Anonymous has written some great stuff over the years.

Just rambling, sorry -- Happy Friday and Happy New Year to all tomorrow! And I really loved this puzzle today!

Squeek the Original Anonymouse 7:07 PM  

I'm still out here but not always adding my $0.02. Hi Clark.
Throwing negative vibes around is the problem, I think, more than not having a "real" identity.
Joe Krozel usually kicks my butt and today nearly did. Some of the fill stunk but having the chopped up answers actually spell things seems like a new level of stunt puzzle.
I like seeing someone push the envelope.
You other anonymice! Yes you! Get a name or start your own blog.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

Thx, mitchs. I plan to as long as my interest in the NYT puizzle continues or I start drooling continuously on my laptop. It's psrt of the fun. From being here for some time it is apparent to me that there aze friendships and why some have an aversion to anonymous comments but most on this blog are anonymous, whether they have a Cracker Barrel or a Cracker Jack avatar. (If I had an avatar it would be a closeup of the photo I took of an osprey eating a live fish on a high tree limb.)

There are good reasons for someone not wanting to be anything other than anonymous and others should show as much courtesy toward them as anyone else on this blog (recognizing things get a little rough here at times) and Rex should be building bridges for his site, not building walls (yes, Rex, that is a cliche, I know, but so is anonymouse/anonymice on this blog).

John Go Bears

Captcha - fills (?)

jyp0625 7:16 PM  

This was a very hard Thursday puzzle for me. Could not get traction on this one for over an hour. Finally teamed with my daughter who got the CHARTER MEMBER clue. From there it was relatively clear sailing.

Stan 7:44 PM  

Great write-up from Andrea and P.G. Yes it was *hard* but uncovering the theme answers was quite satisfying in a slap-yourself-on-the-forehead kind of way (my biggest D'oh was EAR THAN GEL).

So, a solid puzzle, meant to be challenging. For a Thursday without a rebus, fascinating. This has been a really good puzzle week. But I hate to think of what's coming tomorrow and Saturday.

mitchs 7:51 PM  

@John: This is Rex's blog. I think he's doing ok.

Blue Stater 7:54 PM  

I'm with Anonymous 8:39 a.m.: worst puzzle I can recall. This sort of thing has no place in the NYT.

Moonchild 8:01 PM  

Checking back in I see that the tech mismatches are making people tear their hair out. You have my sympathy and also make me glad to be a pen and paper solver. Hell, my phone is just .... a phone! No camera, no text, no internet.
Go Pope Ulrich!
Reading (or avoiding) the novellas in the comments today make me wonder if a character limit besides the number of posts would be an improvement.
I would not want to limit entertaining comments like those from Andrea, n.d.e., foodie, and others but I guess it is up to me to just scroll past the too-long rants.
Hi Squeek!
I love this blog!

retired_chemist 8:41 PM  

@ foodie - Phillysolver posts his times regularly on Orange's blog but rarely posts here anymore.

I think the problem with anonymice is when they get unduly snarky. It evokes the stuff that grates on our nerves from anonymous posters on other blogs:

(Insert name) U r an imbicel [sic] u dont no [sic] nothin [sic] and everybody else thinks that about u to. [sic]

Although our anonymice are more literate, snarkiness still sounds like a cyber-ambush.

PlantieBea 8:46 PM  

I just finished this after picking at it all day long. Challenging indeed, but success in the end. APIA is certainly my WOTD.

Hope you enjoy your stay here Rex. Tomorrow looks like it will be a perfect day here in Central Florida. Keep those fingers crossed for no smoke haze in the A.M.

Anonymous 9:00 PM  

Could someone please explain JAPESAVOWARNO? Thank you.

I are one 9:11 PM  

I agree with @mitchs, @r_c and @Ulrich on anonymous posters like me.

...and @Arthur on confusing me with PuzzleGirl (plus apologize to her)

...and from the AL website:
"The most popular crossword software used for publishing some of the world's best crosswords"


(Copyright 1995-2010 © Literate Software LLC. All rights reserved.)

Please note it's not a NYT product.

...and I hope that all who have issues with AL are contacting the publishers directly and not assuming posts here are going to do much good.


r.alphbunker 9:31 PM  

Joe Krozel never disappoints me. I forgive the frustration when the aha hits.

Regarding anonymous posters. RP mentioned the book "You are not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier a while ago. Lanier suggests "Don't post anonymously unless you really might be in danger." I don't think that's a concern on this blog, unless you're a constructor :-)

NATE 10:24 PM  

Nothing to explain. Not part of the theme. Three separate words.

To the rest of you:
The Times prints 365 puzzles a
year. They can't all be winners.
If you don't like some, that's your problem.
It may come as a surprise, but
most of us bring different view-
points to almost anything.

william e emba 10:34 PM  

Started late, finished way later!

Way cool puzzle. As always, I did this on paper, so I realized the gag right away, although the bit that the separate parts were standalone words was nice, which I caught off of CHAR/TERM/EMBER.

Nevertheless, I blanked out on things I was supposed to know over and over again, so I found the puzzle challenging for no good reason whatsoever.

anonymous carla michaels 10:47 PM  

24 hours later...
The point is, Joe Krozel is always experimenting which is a great thing and when I step back and look again at the entries, I feel a bit guilty that I even pointed out the weakness of but one of them...
I was just thrown by having WIN/NOWIN in the grid so I thought one or the other entry was wrong, but no one else seems bothered by that...

When Patrick Blindauer and I have that every word is backwards but it's another word when you read them forwards puzzle, I felt adamantly that all the entries had to be clearly word words that didn't need to sort of only exist in crosswords (like TER, ETAS)

But it was heartbreaking when some folks focused on the two or three entries that didn't conform, or dismissed it as a dull theme, or whatever, so now I see it from the other side when wanting to really comment deeply on a puzzle that is pretty amazing structurally.

(I just now see Joe chimed in himself over at Wordplay if you liked the puzzle and want to know more about the genesis)

Glad that Rex will be on again tomorrow, as I still don't know how he does it. Even with total technical/emotional support by Puzzle Girl, it took well over 3-4 hours to solve and find links and write something coherent. And that he does it daily...for free! Makes me want to faint.

Those who are doing the math of 50,000 subscribers x $40, I'm with you! The thing is, the NYT should try to make it a non-issue, pay well, fix the technical things and still make hand-over-fist and no one would bat an eye, raise a ruckus, (your own metaphor here).

On a lighter note, I wonder if one could rent-a-cop-car! Imagine what fun you could have pulling people over or just playing with the siren.

mmorgan 10:57 PM  

Just watched the "Ain't She Sweet" clip. Wow. Thank you Andrea!!

Some time ago, I learned that any "Rent-A" will probably be COP just to mess with our heads. Which means that CAR is coming sometime soon.

Just in case it ever comes to this, can we change the 3-limit post to a 30-limit post (just to give her some leeway) to Andrea? She's always delicious.

Please don't faint!

treedweller 11:46 PM  

@r_c don't forget the Frio, right here in TX. I don't remember seeing it in a puzzle, though.

mac 11:49 PM  

Tough puzzle, but I finished it without help in not too much time. Late in the day, though. I do think it was helpful (but scary) to see these numberless sets of white squares.

When otay showed up I thought it might be related to the dreaded xnay and partners. What do I know?

Had a good start and a fairly early recognition of the theme, but I had to hop about quite a bit, too, like Andrea. Rent-a-cop was in a puzzle recently, so easyish.

I tend to rarely respond to anonymice, and then only when they are positive and maybe just unsure about how to get an identity.

Very thoughtful and thorough write-up, Andrea, and thank you PG for adding the visuals!

earthling 1:19 AM  

Fun puzzle. A little too much weird esoterica but the cool split-two-possible-ways phrase thing made up for that. Slow going -- had to keep coming back, but made it through each zone one by one, except for Japes/Joke. I had "Hose" (it runs, right?) instead of Joke, but clearly Hose was not working.

Biological quibble: Orcas are not menaces. There are no documented attacks on humans by these intelligent sea mammmals.

Also, isn't it ancient history to be talking about NT computers -- how 80s can you get!

Oh yeah -- the way I know about OTAY is from watching Eddie Murphy on SNL skits.

JaxInL.A. 3:06 AM  

Whew. Took me all day to get through the puzzle and all these comments.

As with most days, it seems that if you got the puzzle, you liked it, and if you didn't, you didn't. Me, I respect the creativity but didn't have a good time and did not get the gimmick until I came here. Came close but could not figure out the dashes and DNF.

I do want to endorse Andrea's gratitude to Rex for doing all of this daily for our entertainment. The feat boggles the mind. Thanks to PG for helping Rex get it going in the first place, and for helping today. And of course thanks to the always "delicious" @ACME for everything you write.

I wrote a review of the iPad puzzle pgm at the Apple App Store and now I am resolved to write to the AL people too, since I am getting tired of the failures of these programs to deliver the full intent of the constructor/publisher.

Hoping for more success tomorrow.

I skip M-W 5:02 AM  

I decided to do this late Wed., when I was already tired, using AL, as always, when I can, just because I hate to wait for the paper and a chance to read it and mark it up.I had a similar experience as @JC66, thinking the hyphens were all signs for something like "less" or "minus". I did notice they were all absent from the NW but didn't figure out why for quite a while due to tiredness. yet slogged through and enjoyed it despite the hour it took. I think it was more fun not knowing what was up; I'm glad I used the AL version and don't get the complaints. A puzzle is supposed to be puzzling, no? But of course, I DF (did finish) and admire my own perseverance. Disappointed when done that had to wait for blog til next night.

Never watched "our gang" so "otay" came last. Agree with Andrea though.

captcha = coran: A bible for use in ecumenical shul?

Alpine Joy 7:09 PM  

Someone is invited to explain to me just how JOKE is the answer to 32d, It may be running over time.

I don't think this is a good clue. Clues have to very exact, very exact, so that when you finally get the answer to a really tough one, you groan and say, ohhh! Great; yeah, it means that. Okay....Whatever!

I don't see that with 32d.

Other than that, I would love to see a little SNL Eddie Murphy in the blog doing his better than OTAY rendition of Buckwheat!

Thanks, Rex, Andrea & PuzzleGirl

Chef 3:46 PM  

Dec 30 2010 NYT X-word printer screwed up real bad in SLC Utah anyways. The numbers go, 1 across followed by 4, 7, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, then starts to skip numbers. Down was just as bad. I had to solve this one by going to the post. Hey printer person, pay attention to the printer next time.

WilsonCPU 11:53 AM  

From SyndicationLand:
1. Loved it. Beat my butt at first, but I came back and beat it in 18 minutes.
2. Comments/answers -
Alpine Joy:
A joke may be a "running joke", which is a joke that continues over time. Seems like a good clue to me..
The grid in my paper was also missing numbers - which was INTENTIONAL! See the comments above on how the numbers were done differently in different venues. Some dead-tree editions didn't use numbers for Across answers with no clue (such as TERM, which could have been 13A, but had no separate Across clue, so was left with no number). Confusing at first, but helpful, as indicating that these words should not have their own Across clues.

Lurking, Just Behind You 12:16 PM  

Ouch. This one gave me a sharp kick to the nads.
And Thursday is my favorite puzzle day of the week too. *sigh*
I've seen worse, but this one goes into the Did-Not-Enjoy pile.

Gil.I.Pollas 3:14 PM  

I'm coming in on Feb. 03 and commenting on the 12/30 NYT puzzle.
@ACME your write up i.e. the MN Jews vs SethG vs dk gave me a good chuckle. I had to read it several times to figure out "Who's on First." Great write up to you both.
I really liked this puzzle. I got the theme right away which helped.Pretty much of everything has been covered though.
I too liked Buckwheat and the whole"Our Gang" ensemble. When watching re-runs I would wonder how these children could ever remember their lines; they were so talented and natural.
P.S. I'm glad I solve in the good-ole - black print on every white surface I touch - newspaper.
PPS. @mitchs @Clark @foodie, you took the typing out of my fingers !

Marc 4:38 PM  

This was Saturday challenging for me. Not only did I not get the theme until the very end, but there just seemed to be a profusion of things I had no knowledge of, such as schnapps, and without crosses, I was stuck for a long time. A humbling experience.

Once I finally tumbled onto the theme, it looked like it should have been obvious from the gitgo, but it just didn't occur to me. I filled in some of those clues with guesses.

This was really a big fat DNF for me, since I had to check my answers in several cases. It's a clever idea; I'm just annoyed with myself for not getting it. Aargh!

Catte 8:05 PM  

As a syndicated reader I rarely comment since it's always like showing up after the party is over and the bus-boys are clearing the tables. However, in this case I have to weigh in with props for this puzzle.

I usually avoid Thursday because on work days I can't give the stinkers the time they require (for me), but we are snowed/iced in here in N. Tx. so I had all day to kibbitz - and needed every minute of it. Got a few "easy" anchor words - Stevie, Arno, Kwai; Titter, Orman. And finally the theme emerged with ear/than/gel and fort/here/record. That made me double down and stay with it.

Succumbed to Google by mid-afternoon, and had several more breakthroughs as a result; but could *not* crack the northwest corner. Unlike many I really wanted Rent-ACop, but couldn't find it any more useful in the crosses than ACar or ACot or any other remotely likely option. And for the "dull shade" all I could come up with, over and over, was Dun, so I wasn't getting anywhere. Finally threw in the towel and came here to outright cheat the finish of that corner.

Unlike some tough puzzles though, I never felt like the constructor was messing with me unfairly. There was method to the madness and a worthwhile pay-off.

NotalwaysrightBill 12:00 AM  

An in-but-not-from Minnesota non-Jew syndi-lated paper solver.

Whatever the PC level of those whose OTAY JOKE involving Buttwheat obviously [ran over?], at least they had a sense of humor. About KIDS bein' kids. Although our hero never grew out of some things: ROOT BEER Schnapps is still the only kind. Am I allowed to say OOLONG still, now that I know what it means? Could be PC-transgressive on soooo many levels . . . .

Another vote for APIA as WTD. My sister spent a couple years in Samoa. When she returned I asked her to teach me just one little phrase, something I could lug around with me and whip out at a moment's notice whenever a smattering of Samoan was required. I'll rehearse it now and leave you with it, just in case you, too, would like to lug around a LITTLE Samoan. [Forgive the probable spelling errors] "Eatee me, OTAY I, fua moa," where "fua moa" actually means "chicken fruit." The meaning is also my reaction to this puzzle: "I will be HAPPY to go suck eggs."

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