Composer of Microsoft Sound / THU 5-12-11 / He killed Chuck Norris in Return of Dragon / Brit's teapot cover / Slave who died in Temple of Vulcan

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Constructor: Patrick John Duggan

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: IDENTITY THEFT (37A: Crime of which 17-, 26-, 51- and 59-Across are victims?) — theme answers have ID, EN, TI, and TY removed from them (respectively), creating wacky phrases, which are clued wackily.


Word of the Day: ANA Ortiz (2D: "Ugly Betty" actress Ortiz) —

Ana Ortíz (born January 25, 1971) is an American actress and singer. She is a native of Manhattan, New York but was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a regular cast-member on the ABC comedy-drama series Ugly Betty, in which she plays the title character's older sister, Hilda Suarez. The role earned her the ALMA Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2007. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was frustrating, and not in a good way. I have a problem with the theme concept. So I figure out that "ID" is missing from CASUAL FR(ID)AY, which then allows me to understand what that IDE- was getting at at the beginning of the central Across: IDENTITY THEFT. "Aha," I thought, "ID, which stands for IDENTITY, has been "stolen" from familiar phrases ... cute." But then I got GLOCK- and kept plugging "ID" into different parts of the word to make it mean something, and it didn't. Then I realized it was GLOCK SPIEL, and that other letters besides "ID" were missing. Quickly realized those letters were the next two letters in "IDENTITY," and instead of thinking "wow, really clever," I thought, "well that makes no sense." Only one of these theme answers can, in any way, claim to the be victim of identity theft: the first one, the one missing "ID." The other ones are victims of ... something else. I get that the clue is trying to suggest that the answers *collectively* are victims, but that's not how it's worded. The fact that none of the theme answers were that funny or interesting didn't help matters. There's some good fill in here, like BRUCE LEE (4D: He killed Chuck Norris in "Return of the Dragon") and TEND BAR (30D: Conjure up spirits?), but the theme clunked for me.



Theme answers:
  • 17A: Sparring session? (CASUAL FRAY)
  • 26A: Pitch for a pistol? (GLOCK SPIEL)
  • 51A: Suffering from chicken pox? (SICK AND RED)
  • 59A: Jail cells? (PENAL BOXES)
Cluing felt quite tough throughout, with lots of vagueness and misdirection. SIT-INS clue is probably the best example of misdirection (45D: Occupations that may mean being forced to move away), making you think "occupations" = jobs when it really means "physical acts of taking over spaces." Nothing obscure or terribly ugly in the fill. COSY felt odd (by which I mean "British," I guess) (28D: Brit's teapot cover), but nothing else seemed any more obscure than your typical Monday fare. Pop culture haters should (mostly) love this puzzle, as ANA is really the only pop culture answer that isn't obvious or pretty easily inferrable (BRUCE LEE and IPOD fall into the latter category) (38D: Gadget whose name was inspired by "2001: A Space Odyssey"). Oh, there's STU, I guess (34D: "Rugrats" dad). I forgot about that guy. I'm more a Disco STU man, myself.

Bullets:
  • 15A: Slave who dies in the Temple of Vulcan (AIDA) — slave in four letters = AIDA. No hesitation.
  • 10A: Figurehead's place (SHIP) — I'm only barely familiar with this meaning of "figurehead." It's that bare-chested lady out on the prow, right?
  • 62D: Sports org. that lasted only one season (XFL) — wasn't sure this clue needed the "org." to signal abbreviation since the "X" stands for nothing, and the league was only ever referred to as the XFL, never in any longer, unabbreviated form.
  • 44D: Blue ball (TWO) — this made me laugh. And this is why. The reason the ball in this clue is blue is because it's a billiard ball.
  • 54A: Late-night wars participant (LENO) — He took his time slot back. I mean, I don't think the guy is funny, but the fact that NBC gave him his time slot back hardly makes him a "war"-monger.
  • 29A: Geraldo Rivera opened one in 1986 (VAULT) — clue should read "opened Al Capone's in 1986." Big, dumb TV event of my high school years (VAULT was empty, as I recall).
  • 19A: Place name before and after "Oh" in a Thomas Moore title (ERIN) — never heard of this title, or of Thomas Moore, for that matter. Didn't he write "The Night Before Christmas?" Nope, that's Clement Clarke Moore. Nevermind.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

75 comments:

andre cosy michaels 12:16 AM  

Did the same thing, tried to put ID in every theme answer and didn't catch on till the very end...

I really liked struggling thru this, as I made every possible misdirection mistake one could...
You should see how many answers I had before RECANT
(RECALL, REHASH among them as my hanging thing was a heAD not a CHAD)

Shockingly, I had trouble spotting sports clues (SAC, ?FL, Big PAPi... ANDRE I knew because he shares 5/6ths of my name)

Held on to TOTO too long at 58A, an S at the end of "worn things" and eAR for the misread sCull.

Smack = HEROIN and Blue Ball was again a bit shocking for the old grey lady who seems to have turned into a young blue boy.

Why are dropped letter phrases always so much less fun than added letter ones? I had the same prob with my SP-OUT puzzle with my pal Peter.

Anyway, this puzzle really made me think...even tho I didn't know either Ortiz!

What is "It IS TO Laugh" from? Boy, does that sound stilted! "Ha ha! It is to laugh that which you have uttered"

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

Leno jockeying with Dave for Johnny's spot ages ago was the Late Night Wars.
Once I figured out the ID/EN/TI/TY gimmick I appreciated it rather than being annoyed by it. I was annoyed until I figured it out.
You were correct, the PROW is where a figurehead goes. Only the PROW, not the ship.

Tobias Duncan 12:26 AM  

@andre cosy michaels, is SAC fly a sports thing? I assumed it was sac like in biology.Hmmm.

I was afraid Rex was gonna call this one easy.Liked the theme ok but it felt friday tough to me. the glockenspiel pun was good enough to make the theme worth it AFAIAC.
44 down: people will try to tell you its a myth, but its real and its a bummer.Folks that cause it should have some compassion and... oh hell I cant keep it up, its a bullshit ploy and everyone knows it.Did work a few times in high school though...

syndy 1:42 AM  

yup for prow.got the EN and the TI first so the theme helped me figure out the rest.not fabulous but okay -fearless leader seems a little crankypants.blogger was down for maintenance-does this mean it will stop eating posts?I liked the evildoers in the penal boxes and recanting the chad story!Are the biebers fans TEENS i thought they were younger!

jae 2:02 AM  

I liked this one. Very clever! Me too for PROW, TOTO, and the S at the end of55a. Plus I had AFL (Arena Football League) for way too long. Med-Challenging seems right. Fun, interesting solve.

CoolPapaD 2:27 AM  

Wow - Gotta disagree with our humble host - loved it, thought it was quite clever, and never questioned the validity of the tie-in clue at 37A. I made the same assumption re ID, but once I saw GLOCK, the theme fell quickly.

I loved seeing STU and SAC with fresh clues. The typical "anatomical pouch" clue would have been better used in conjunction with 44D....

7D was a (wonderful) booger of a clue - was thinking of the wrong kind of inspired.

Now I guess I have to go read about what happened to NEPAL - it's still sitting right between the world's two most populous nations on the desk globe that I'm staring at right now. Did they split it up or something?? What did I miss? Wikipedia, here I come....

Greene 3:59 AM  

Put me in the "thoroughly enjoyed it" camp. Like others, I struggled with the theme. Got IDENTITY THEFT first and then went looking to add ID to other theme answers. Stumbled upon GLOCK SPIEL (which is a delightful answer) and then all became clear. Very clever idea.

@Andrea: Johnny Carson was very fond of the phrase "It IS TO laugh" and would use it in an ironic sort of way. I'm revealing far to much about myself when I tell you that I cannot hear the phrase without thinking of Daffy Duck who uttered it in the (to me) very famous 1958 cartoon short Robin Hood Daffy as a comeback to an overly amused Porky Pig who, as Friar Tuck, could not believe that anybody as ridiculous as Daffy could really be Robin Hood. After a series of failed robbery exploits, each of which leaves Porky rolling on the ground with laughter, Daffy (as an exasperated Robin Hood) mutters "Ho ho. Very funny. Ha ha. It IS TO laugh." Priceless.

Oscar 7:50 AM  

Oh, a hanging chad. How au courant!

retired_chemist 7:55 AM  

More love here than from Rex. Got the THEFT part of 32A, then GLOCK SPIEL as my first theme answer. Was looking for phrases that had an EN stolen. Then PENAL BOXES appeared. I didn't see the EN - TY connection at that point,but I had enough of the start of 32A (ADEN_ITY) to see both the EN and the TY. AHA! 24D is NOT PAPA, but PAPI, and all became clear.

Hand up for any four letter slave being AIDA. And for a 4 letter hardware bit being a T NUT. I have never seen either. 4 letter answer with jets in the clue - EL AL didn't work so well there. Nor did Gimme FIVE @ 35A. Almost had GIGA @ 16A but caught myself in time.

Fun puzzle, albeit for me almost Friday challenging. Thanks, Mr., Duggan.

SethG 7:57 AM  

Figured out the ID EN TI TY part pretty quickly, didn't help much. Looking at something like xxxxANDRED, even knowing it was from xxxxand tired didn't help me as much as it should have because SICK AND RED is so sizzleless.

Trouble in the RAPS area, slow finish around ISTO.

joho 8:41 AM  

Yep, I tried to plug ID into everything, too. I did get the progression at GLOCKSPIEL and took off from there.

Like @CoolPapaD my favorite clue was "Inspired stuff."

Clever, fun Thursday ... thank you, Patrick!

Glimmerglass 8:43 AM  

Not only did I have PROW for 10A, I crossed it with PAMPAS for 10D, which gave me SUPINE for 21A, and went with my SAY SO for 9D. With that much working together, it was a long time before I could let go of these wrong choices! I finally erased it all and started again with SAY OK and GLOCKSPIEL (thanks to the theme), and I was okay.

David L 8:54 AM  

I got IDENTITYTHEFT before any of the theme answers, then wondered what that had to do with dropping the TY in PENALBOXES. But figured it out eventually, and I don't agree with Rex that the reveal is wrong -- misleading, yes, but that's what we're about here in Crosswordland, isn't it?

I was stuck with SUPINE and SAYSO for a while, and also had CHAR for CHEF (as in a char lady...) which gave me LAP for LEG before it all came clear.

ITIS to laugh -- isn't that from Yiddish originally? Not anything I would say but I've heard of it.

leah712 9:02 AM  

Took me forever, even after I figured out the theme, but loved it.

jackj 9:19 AM  

May all our Thursday puzzles be as good as this one!

One has to admire a theme which features GLOCK(EN)SPIEL as the linch pin entry and has clever misdirects like OPPOSE, YENS and PDA, (which wanted to be BOT in the worst way).

Thanks to Patrick John Duggan, another youthful constructor who's pushing the envelope (and we're the beneficiaries).

jesser 9:20 AM  

Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Just thought it was odd. That could be a good thing.

I think I'd have liked it more if I wasn't all worked up about TWO for 'blue ball,' and had to have Rex explain it to me. Have I mentioned before that I play competitive pocket billiards? Boy, am I pissed at me right now. (Not as pissed as I was at Evil Doug yesterday, but still.)

Writeovers were Awe before AIR at 7D, ups before DHL at 52D and dOt before NON at 61D.

The best Mexican food on the planet is served at My Brother's Place (the name of the restaurant; I don't have a brother) in downtown Las Cruces, where I'll be having lunch. I trust the cooks are there early this morning to -- among other things -- REFRY those delicious beans. Yum!

Tionv! (My uncle in Reno) -- jesser

evil doug 9:34 AM  

RIP, XFL.

The most beautiful thing about the league was that it allowed players to replace their names on the back of the jersey with whatever they wanted. Hence the fleeting fame of back Rod Smart, who decide to put "He Hate Me" across his shoulders.

Smart's explanation: "Basically, my opponent is going to Hate me. After I win, he's gonna hate me... See what I'm saying?"

When Smart and his Las Vegas Outlaws played the Los Angeles Xtreme, two Xtreme players put "I Hate He" and "I Hate He Too" on the back of their own jerseys. Such fun! Like Roller Derby, or Andre the Giant in wrestling.

Evil

Kurt 9:50 AM  

I liked it! Seemed like a solid Thursday to me with lots of good fill. I think it helped that I got PENALBOXES before the rest of the theme answers which "revealed" the trick pretty quickly. Everything else flowed nicely and the frustration factor was low.

Thanks Patrick John Duggan and Rex Parker!

And thanks Evil Doug for the XFL memories. I agree that it was a hoot!

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

I agree that this was an unusually interesting puzzle to solve. I would get partial answers or full answers that somehow didn't open anything up. But, then, I did finally finish it with almost no googgling (I looked up Ana and Andre), so the difficulty level seems easier than a typical Friday. I'd say it seems about as hard as a Thursday puzzle could possibly be without being a Friday puzzle. And it's hard in the "trick" sense as is par for Thursdays, so it basically seems spot on.

Gil.I.Pollas 9:55 AM  

Thanks REX for making me open the Blue Ball thingie! I think I'll join jesser for some REFRY beans.
Well, I really enjoyed this one too. SICK AND RED was my favorite since I got chicken pox twice...and the doctor told me I could get shingles when I grow up!

CY 9:56 AM  

"Not only did I have PROW for 10A, I crossed it with PAMPAS for 10D, which gave me SUPINE for 21A, and went with my SAY SO for 9D. With that much working together, it was a long time before I could let go of these wrong choices!"

"I was stuck with SUPINE and SAYSO for a while"

But the clue was "face down", not "face up".

Howard B 10:01 AM  

Well, I thought this was a good twist on the "missing letters" theme, and a good misdirect, having us think that ID would be missing from each answer. If that were the case, I'd think many of us regulars would be less pleased that a plain 2-letter drop was used, instead of something more ingenious.

Anyway, it's quirky, strange, not so smooth but not too clunky, and I really liked this one. But I do often respectfully diverge with Rex anyway on relative difficulty, likes and dislikes, and that's just fine. A puzzle (usually) has one solution, but there's plenty of ways to look at it.

Howard 10:08 AM  

I actually assumed a very different theme after solving for CASUALFRAY. The missing ID is directly above RA, so you can read both CASUALFRAY and CASUALFRIDAY if you snake up to the next line and back. I thought "How cool!" and then tried desperately to make Glockenspiel wiggle the same way. I actually filled in GLOCKSPIEL from the clue, put EN above KS, and quickly figured out that this wasn't what was going on. Bummer.

I take Rex's point that only the first theme answer is robbed of its ID, but the puzzle would have been less interesting to me, ultimately, had every answer worked that way.

Lindsay 10:14 AM  

Puzzle #4 in Boston. My Waterloo. First problem, I had no idea what the theme was, although, as it turned out, all my theme answers were correct. Second problem, I originally had 1A as "let be" rather than SAT BY. Changed "be" to BY to accomodate YEAH, but that left me with "let by" and, ominously, 1D lac fly. Even though a solver of normal intelligence would have thought "Hey, if one across is a two word phrase, and the first word turned out to be wrong, maybe the first word is wrong too," I didn't think that. I thought "OMG OMG OMG I have no idea what the theme is and I only filled in "c" because CASUAL is an actual word, but it must be the wrong word OMG."

Then, after staring at the completed grid for what seemed like hours to the background noise of others turning in their papers and storming out of the room, it occurred to me that a "lac fly" must be some kind of lacquer secreting insect, and after all, that wouldn't be the strangest thing that had turned up in the NYT. So I handed off my puzzle to an official, stood up, and observed that the man sitting directly behind me had 1A SAC FLY.

Aaaarrgggh! Baseball! And I follow baseball! I just ..... blew it.

No thanks to Ena Ortiz ;~(

Norm 10:17 AM  

Excellent puzzle. The right amount of Thursday misdirection and a new twist on the missing letter theme. Had GLOCK(EN)SPIEL before any of the other theme answers and threw in IDENTITYTHEFT off the HEF, so the theme was clear and I didn't spend any time trying to fit ID into the other theme answers. CASUALFRIDAY was actually the last to fall, since I was trying to fit the "stolen" letters between the two words (as with the other three)and the R in AIR was my last entry. Did I say I really liked this puzzle? Oh yeah.

Lindsay 10:17 AM  

edit .... "and the second word turned out to be wrong ...."

dk 10:18 AM  

Long slog for this solver.

I start chuckling over Justin B singing Dick in a Box after I filed in PENALBOXES and it was all downhill from there.

Changing COzY to COSY only took me 40 minutes. And, it goes without saying I never saw the theme.

Solid tough Thursday.

Shout out to those in the Jamesville Penatentary. My old home town... Jamesville, NY.

*** (3 Stars)

quilter1 10:18 AM  

DNF, and made many of the errors mentioned above. Prow before stem (as in from stem to stern) before ship, supine and sayso, got GLOSCKSPIEL, IDENTITYTHEFT and felt proud I could put in BRUCE LEE although I have no idea how I knew it. Do not know SAC fly--baseball or insect? Never saw the theme. But, having said all that, I enjoyed solving as far as I could.

chefbea 10:22 AM  

DNF. I too wanted ID missing from all the answers.

Shout out to all of us that stir the pot!!!

Saw Andre the Giant once and he was very rude to a little boy who asked for his autograph

Tobias Duncan 10:25 AM  

I was sure there was a sac fly and I think I have pieced it together.I think last time it came up in the grid, someone here made a joke that I did not get and took as fact. NO more skimming for me.
@Gil.I.Pollas glad you liked the TED lecture! That was the one that converted me.Daniel Dennett is one of my favorite humans.

hazel 10:30 AM  

very thoughtful comments @howard b. you summarized my experience to the proverbial t. and my philosophy on puzzle analytics to boot!

great anecdote, @evil - all time champeen pot-stirrer in my book! i wish i remembered the XFL. and/or that ochocinco played there.

acme 10:32 AM  

@dk
That's Justin T...
But seriously, how can you never see the theme??? It's the whole point! I demand you look over the grid after you finish. Just once? Please? Just for me? :)

Off to lunch with my two fave Sunday collaborators: Patrick B and Tony O.
Can not tell you how happy that makes me.

TM 10:38 AM  

Never heard of a TNUT. But now that I look it up, I have seen them. Finished without getting the theme. I had a couple crosses over 37 and got it. I thought of Rex when I saw EVILDOER x LENO with his apparent despise of Jay. :-)

GenJoneser 10:46 AM  

Hand way up for 7D inspired stuff is a great clue! Also, 32A, I'd like to think, is a shout out to those of us from Generation Jones (1954-1965). News flash: we're not all baby boomers. Too many years attributed to that group. My parents were children during WWII. Jonesers, like our current president, are different. Rant over...fun puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:54 AM  

I was prepared to say this puzz was somewhere near brilliant. But full disclosure, I was looking around the grid for gimmes and consequently filled in PENALBOXES as my first theme answer, so that, like @Kurt and probably others, I never fell into the trap of thinking that it was the ID deleted from each. Might affect one's view of the puzz.

One write-over, 1D, SAW before SAC.

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

Pretty tough for a Thursday.
I got the theme early but the NE corner took way too long.
I wanted something more specific for ship and I can't make tera- stick in my brain.
@ Evil Doug, you were just two letters shy of making the grid at 39D!

efrex 11:06 AM  

Getting GLOCKSPIEL as my first theme answer made it relatively easy to suss out the theme. I'm grumbling with Rex on the ambiguity of the theme revealer clue, but it's an interesting enough twist on a common theme. Liked the changed theme answers for the most part, although I'll nitpick PENALBOXES, since it doesn't really mean anything different than PENALTYBOXES

Having UPS instead of DHL made the entire S/SW part of the grid extremely irritating for far too long. 7D clue should have a "?" - couldn't understand it for far too long. My crosswordese toolbox now includes TNUT. I will absolutely not confess to any untoward thoughts about the "blue balls" clue; nope, not I...

Catechist 11:12 AM  

I also had GLOCKSPIEL as my first theme answer; when I noticed the IN was gone, though, I was wondering if it might be one of those "multiple letters in a square" puzzles. Getting THEFT in 37A solved that question, though.

I laughed at "blue ball" also and I didn't understand why it was TWO until I came here.

A "me too" for putting in PROW at 10A, and then I put PLAINS at 10D so it was a little while before I got out of that mess.

I watched the first XFL game and quickly got bored -- the marketing was a big mistake because they tried to straddle the fence between challenging the NFL and appealing to non-football fans, and they ended up with more or less regular football with worse players.

mac 11:14 AM  

Good Thursday puzzle, but I was totally misdirected when I first got penal boxes, then identity theft (just saw something on tv about babies' id being stolen), so I tried to add ty's to the other themes. Casualty fray sounds plausible, right?

I too started with prow, confirmed by prairy.... anyway, filled the whole thing in even though vague about the theme until Rex explained it.

@andrea cozy: envy you!

fiddleneck 11:22 AM  

G-lock is a pistol? I get the spiel part.

Dave 11:23 AM  

Likewise to a few earlier comments- I got Identity Theft and then Penal Boxes, and so had no trouble thinking of the theme. Excellent extension of the take-give a letter idea.

Masked and Anonymous 11:24 AM  

MWAH! Man, I am diggin' the group therapy for today's puz. About everything everyone has mentioned is something that happened to me, too.

But the wild goose I started out chasing was even wilder than all yer other geese. I thought the theme was...how to describe it...phrases said while bein' goosed?!?

I was led to this somewhat PSYCHO conclusion by the CASUALFRAY entry, with the ID in AIDA hoverin' right above the RA in FRAY. So it still kinda spells out FR-ID-AY, if you read FR-, then hang a zig and go up a line for the ID, then zag back down a line for the -AY. That make any sense? Probably not. Don't matter. Ain't the right puztheme, anyhoo.

But it sure slowed m down in getting GLOCK-OP-SPIEL, SICKAND-OA-RED, and PENAL-HA-BOXES. Har. Wrong again, M&A breath.

quilter1 11:29 AM  

I used to make tea cozies for friends. At a recent quilt workshop I led an old friend brought one in I had made her in 1983. Sewing baby clothes today.

I have to brag a little that I got XFL even though I am practically sports illiterate.

incom: a little short of every month.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

There was a book called "The War For Late Night," detailing the whole Leno-O'Brien conflict from 2010, which is supposed to be a pretty compelling read (it's somewhere on my wish list but kind of low, so I may never get to it, but I digress). Anyway, I think this legitimizes the clue for LENO.

Free-range Hen 11:44 AM  

@ fiddleneck, Glock is a gun manufacturer.

ksquare 11:55 AM  

I suspect It IS TO laugh is a literal translation of the French C'est a rire.
Also a SAC fly is baseballese for SACRIFICE, a long fly that puts the batter out but allows a man on base to advance.

Noam D. Elkies 12:03 PM  

Clever concept; didn't mind Rex's quibble about collective "theft", but disappointed with 59A:PENAL_BOXES which is too close to the original phrase.

This was a slog to work through at BCPT, though I did better in that contest than I usually do at such events, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much (maybe other solvers were even more flustered).

NDE (captcha = "unckl", said I suppose by a solver who DNF due to spelling errors)

braves fan 12:05 PM  

The man on base must actually score for it to be recorded as a sac fly although announcers typically use the term in the way @ksquare mentions. If we hold our standards high for crossword terms, we must extend them to baseball terminology though, IMO.

evil doug 12:09 PM  

Quilter1,

Don't sell yourself short, Quilter. You're not "practically sports illiterate". As I recall you've demonstrated full understanding of Drake Relays, or basketball, or something Des Moines-ish, no?

Evil
DU, 1973

Judge Smails: You know, you should play with Dr. Beeper and myself. I mean, he's been club champion for three years running and I'm no slouch myself.

Ty Webb: Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch.

Matthew G. 12:31 PM  

Somehow, I found this easy for a Thursday.  Rex's prediction was correct: as someone who finds solving misdirection clues much more entertaining than remembering proper names from pop culture, I really liked the fill in this one.

The only points where I struggled at all were: (1) COSY, where I put in COZY, somehow missing the "Brit" part of the clue (I guess my mind thought tea=British was enough); and (2) the SW, where I first tried TOTO instead of LION, START instead of SALT I, and where "It IS TO laugh" was an expression completely unfamiliar to me.  But even with that, I finished with a better-than-average Thursday time, so I was surprised at Rex's difficulty rating.
 
Much as I liked the fill, I agree with Rex that the theme was a clunker.  I got the reveal first -- I first broke into the puzzle in the east central, giving me -EFT, which gave me IDENTITY THEFT right away -- but after that the theme was barely a help.  I figured out it was a letter-deletion theme from the reveal, but basically stuck to getting all of the theme answers from crosses, which, oddly, didn't really hurt my time.

william e emba 12:33 PM  

Seeing FRAY in the puzzle always makes me smile.

Anne 12:34 PM  

I seldom comment but I have to say I loved this. It was really hard but when I got that aha moment, it made my day. No googles. No mistakes. A fine puzzle. Now I'll read what others have to say but I wanted to comment without being influenced by that.

JaxInL.A. 12:44 PM  

Tried to post a few times last night but Blogger kept giving me error pages. Because @syndy said it was down, I didn't worry about it, but it went on for some time and was frustrating.

Had helm then prow before SHIP. Since I got PENAL BOXES first, I made the mistake of trying to find a missing TY, then figured out SICK AND RED and got mad at the TY changing to a TI. Eventually figured it out with GLOCK, like most people here. I have a friend who lives in a development where all the streets are named after guns. She lives on Mauser, and they have Colt, Glock, and loads of other names I might not know otherwise. My friend is an active Unitiarian. Is that relevant?

Thanks, Mr. Duggan, for a fun solve with some fresher, younger fill.

Masked and Anonymous II 12:58 PM  

@evil doug: "Caddy Shack" quotes. Nice. Monumentally great flick. Especially enjoyed quotes by Rodney's character. "Ooh. Somebody step on a duck?", etc.

I think that recent royal wedding puz really shook 31 up big time. He's been extra contrary lately. Maybe once he gets past that 8am class about wearing bathrobes & PJs in public... But funny write-ups, I must admit.

@Anne: I agree. Thumbs way up.

MikeM 1:02 PM  

Anne - My sentiments exactly. This puzzle was brilliant and difficult. I fell into the "ID" trap and just couldnt figure it out. The NE and SW were barren for the longest time. I just stared at it and did not give up. I had a big error "AnTion" instead of ACTOUT and when my brain informed me that LION is never spelled LOIN I straightened it out. Wanted Peers for PANEL.
I eventually finished without any errors, the last to fall was RAPS/PDA. I enjoyed this immensely. Thank you PJ Duggan. Keep'em coming.

gigbatters 1:05 PM  

Still pissed over yesterdays's MWAH!

KarenSampsonHudson 1:12 PM  

Felt like a Frday. Don't remember wh I've seen such a theme. Made me red and took pret long. I'm still a noobie though.

conomist 1:56 PM  

As with most of the commenters, I disagree with our fair host on this one. The theme was different--the fact that it misdirected you on so many levels (the usual expectation being that the SAME two letters would be missing from the words) was really refreshing.

I, for one, am glad for this puzzle.

Coco 2:43 PM  

"late night wars" refers to the early 90s battle between Leno and Letterman over 'The Tonight Show'. So it can be said that Leno has won two wars over that show. The rest of us lose because he 'won'.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

This one was a tough one for me and not very entertaining. Got a few clues before needing to Google. Got PENAL BOXES but made no connection with PENALTY BOXES. I did not understand the other theme answers. Even after reading Rex comment I still don't get the wackiness of the theme.

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

Um - what's AKINTO? 47 down - is it A period K period INTO? or Also Known INTO? The clue is Like, so I originally put AMINTO which totally messed up Sick and Red and am still unconvinced.

D_Blackwell 4:01 PM  

I got PENAL(ty)BOXES first and the crosses were definitely correct, so I knew something was up. Then I got somethingTHEFT and had PROPERTY THEFT for a bit. Once I made the correction I had the theme. SICK AND (ti)RED was the last and trickiest.

This kind of puzzle is going to be harder for The Smart People than schmoes like myself; y'all that are used to finishing 100% of the crossword with 25% of the clues would have a harder time of it. My time wasn't terrific for a Thursday, but it was within 'average' range.

I quite liked it, and am generally NOT a fan of themes with 'nonsense' entries.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Oops. OK OK - started to do Ken Ken and AKIN TO popped right into my head!

Never mind!

evil doug 7:45 PM  

Hello?

Anybody home?

Neutron bomb while I was napping?

Yodel-odel-aay-hee-hooo!

No? Nuthin'?

Nuts. Guess I'll go on home....

Evil
Bored

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

The Late NIght Wars refer to the fight between Leno and Letterman for the Tonight Show in the early 90's. Some media called Leno and Conan some sort of new Late Night Wars, but I'm the clue referred to the earlier bout.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

loved this puzzle especially the awry rye cross and the math references
Forgot that Leonardo Fibonnaci was from Pisa

Red Valerian 12:08 PM  

I think this is a great puzzle. And that Rex does seem rather cranky, but that's part of his charm, right? '...EFT' gave me IDENTITY THEFT, and it didn't take me long to figure out the theme after I got PENAL BOXES, though I was thinking 'sick as a ...' for a while.
Had oNO for ENO for a bit! Didn't realize it was the noise that Microsoft makes, and was thinking it was some sort of anti-establishment protest song.
@GenJoneser--huh?
@Jaxin LA--are you serious?!?? Is there an Uzi Avenue? A Kalashnikov Crescent??? yikes.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Just so everyone knows, refried beans are not refried. They are boiled once, cooled, and then recooked (and smashed) with added oil, so I guess the 2nd step is frying (although it seems more like boiling in oil). Should be called "twice-cooked beans" or "re-boiled beans". Nobody calls soup or stew which has oil (olive, perhaps) added in the heating process as fried soup or fried stew, much less "refried." I did like the puzzle though. (I get it a day or two late via another newspaper.)

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Struggled with the stolen "ID" theme for quite some time, until PENALBOX revealed itself, and then I felt shame for not getting it sooner.

The real beauty of this puzzle is that (1) it's the held-back puzzle from Boston tournament week, (2) one of its theme answers is a hockey reference, and (3) it ran in syndication the very morning the Stanley Cup arrived in Boston.

Congrats, Bruins.
Stay classy, Vancouver.

rain forest 1:31 PM  

This is an A+ puzzle. "identity" has been stolen, two letters at a time, and in order, from the theme answers. It's the word that has been the victim of theft, not the concept of 'identity'. Whoever finds it clunky or lame just doesn't get it.

Red Valerian 2:15 PM  

@Anonymous 1:27 Thanks for saying stay classy, but that is really too generous. What a fiasco last night. Not so much the game (though, as a Canucks fan, it was not much fun to watch) but the aftermath. I live in a suburb of Vancouver, and I could see the smoke from here. I’m sure it was, as the mayor said, the result of a small percentage of “hooligans,” but it is utterly embarrassing nonetheless. I think things were made worse by the relatively benign (but clueless) hordes of lookie-loos with cell phones taking clips to post on You Tube. argh.

FWIW, I sincerely apologize that some of us are sore losers and drunken louts. Congratulations, Boston! And you have the awesomest goalie ever.

@rain forest. I agree that the puzzle is excellent, but I also see Rex’s point. Perhaps if 37A had been clued as “crime of which this puzzle is a victim via 17A…” it would have been smoother.

captcha-hogsjrbr A type of obnoxious "fan" as seen on tv last night

Dirigonzo 7:02 PM  

I named this puzzle "Lucy" because even after I finished it she still had a lot of 'splainin' to do. "AIR", I said, "how is air inspired?" Oh, inspire as to breathe in - now I get it. And I had never heard the term Joneses to mean intense desires (YENS) so I had no clue why that was right. The blue ball thing, on the other hand, needed no explanation and I could have done without the reminder of what I remember as a very painful condition.

I've noticed that whenever the prime-timers make a typo in their posts they always come back with another post to correct it. I've also noticed that I almost never see their mistake until they point it out - maybe I'm not reading closely enough.

LongbeachLee 9:22 PM  

Isn't sac fly an abbreviation for sacrifice fly. No clue as to abbreviated phrase.

Cary in Boulder 9:59 PM  

Thursday. No Googling. Got the theme. Clever cluing. What's not to like?

@dirigonzo: Jonesing is when an addict has gone to long without a fix. In the active form, he "joneses." Surprised no one else mentioned that it's crossed with HEROIN. Grey lady, indeed.

I'm an Avs fan with no dog in last night's fight, but hey, it's the Stanley @#$%@ing Cup, so I had to watch. I bow before Tim Thomas.

Deb @ RoomscapesDecor.com 10:00 PM  

Man, I must be brain-dead today, because I had NO idea what the theme was until I came here. The only theme answer that I realized was missing letters was "glockspiel;" the others just looked like weird answers. I loved "yens" for joneses as I use the term frequently, and felt positivly clever when I immediately wrote in "air" for "inspired stuff. My only trouble was in the center since I'd written in "coZy" which led to "a zee" as the answer for "Gimme..." (think cheerleading) which ended up with me scratching my head for some time trying to think of a word for a whack job that ended in "ehos."

Overall, a great puzzle.

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