Dancing Years composer Novello / THU 12-27-12 / Tito's surname / Balneotherapy locale / Output from old printer / 2001 French film nominated for five Academy Awards / Oenophile's installation

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Constructor: Julian Lim

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: Literal beginnings — theme answer are familiar phrases where first part of the phrase is a word or prefix that can suggest a part of a larger whole. This first word or prefix is understood literally, resulting in clues that looks like all-caps words but are simply parts of the words in the second halves of the theme answers.

Word of the Day: Josip BROZ Tito (38A: Tito's surname) —
Marshal Josip Broz Tito (Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [jɔ̌sip brɔ̂ːz tîtɔ]; born Josip BrozCyrillic: Јосип Броз Тито; 7 May 1892 – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1945 until his death in 1980. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian,due to his successful economic and diplomatic policies, Tito was "seen by most as a benevolent dictator," and was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad. Viewed as a unifying symbol, his internal policies successfully maintained the peaceful coexistence of the nations of the Yugoslav federation. He gained international attention as the chief leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, working with Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. (wikipedia)
• • •

This theme is easy to understand but difficult to describe succinctly. It's a cryptic-ish type theme of a variety that I've definitely seen before. It also falls under the theme category "clue-answer reversal" (i.e. the clues are really the answers to the cryptic clues, which are found in the grid—we solve the problem backwards). I don't think the theme coheres very well. Two answers give you a precise *half* answer (FIN, SON), where the other two just give you completely arbitrary parts (TIN, LIP). At least with WRITING there isn't any viable option other than TIN. With ECLIPSE there at least three others besides LIP. If the theme is a bit stale and, let's say, less than taut, the grid is pleasantly spicy, with impressive NE/SW corners, and lots of vivid answers like HARDCORE, AVENUE Q (5D: Hit Broadway musical with the song "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today"), SPAMALOT, and WOODCUT (23A: Output from an old printer). There are some bumps here and there (EXALLY more and more terrible the longer you stare at it, and BROZ looks like the title of a terrible buddy comedy, or the commercial name under which you might market bras for men), but overall I'd say the fill is pretty accomplished.


I would be shocked to hear that the AMARE did not originally have a basketball clue. AMARÉ Stoudemire is a huge basketball star (literally, he's huge—6'11"), and he's a New York Knick, which means he should be pretty dang familiar to solvers in the NYT's main base of operations (i.e. NYC). But instead we get fusty Latin (I mean, I love Latin, but this isn't one of your more interesting, or commonly known, Latin words—not in the infinitive, anyway) (22A: To love, to Livy). I like the combo of old school and new school illustration in the pairing of  WOODCUT and INKER (51A: One working on some panels). I'm teaching both 17th-century literature and Comics next semester, so I'll likely have occasion to talk about both these terms. I was slow out of the box on this one, largely because it took me a ridiculously long time even to see the gimme at 3D: Hoi ___ (POLLOI). No idea what my eyes were doing. They were everywhere else but there, and I was failing left and right to get any traction. Once I grokked the theme and settled in, things eased up, and I ended with a fairly normal Thursday time.


Bullets:
  • 20A: U.S./Canadian sporting grp. since 1936 (AHL) — I had N.H.L. Seemed reasonable. 
  • 2001 French film nominated for five Academy Awards ("AMÉLIE") — gimme. Never seen it, but I can see the movie poster in my head clear as day. The title has become something of a crossword staple, for obvious, vowelly reasons.
  • 37A: Balneotherapy locale (SPA) — I saw three letters and the word "therapy" and just guessed SPA. I'm assuming "balneotherapy" has something to do with having your face rubbed with baleen or some such nonsense. (actually, it just means the treatment of disease by bathing)
  • 40A: Rapper behind the 2012 "Gangnam Style"YouTube sensation (PSY) — it was just a matter of time before this guy made the grid. His rise to "fame" was so fast that he was on SNL before I'd ever even heard of him. Within two weeks I couldn't stop hearing about him, or hearing parodies of him, etc. Hyper media saturation.
  • 50A: Oenophile's installation (RACKS) — pretty sure I had CASKS here at first. You'd have to Really love wine...
  • 22D: Designer of the Tulip Chair (SAARINEN) — Yay for the EERO-less SAARINEN
  • 60A: Quarters in Québec? (ÉTÉS) — wanted "quarters" to mean "living spaces." Took me a few seconds to understand this clue even after I got the answer. 
  • 8D: "The Dancing Years" composer Novello (IVOR) — I think this was the first thing I put in the grid. This is sad, and shows you how deep my knowledge of crosswordese runs.

We're snowed in here. Going a bit stir crazy with everyone home from school and off of work and stuck inside. Gonna go shovel some snow now even though it's now after 11pm. Stay warm. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

69 comments:

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Nice Wednesday all around! Juicy letters, fresh words: PSY, IMDONE, ATEIT, BOOYA, HARDCORE. AVENUEQ and SPAMALOT in the same grid! SQUEEGEE and HANDAXE! Even our old friends NENE, ASHE, and OMSK can't spoil the fun. EXALLY not so much, but why complain when the ride was so pleasant? Thanks, Julian!

-- FearlessKim

retired_chemist 12:19 AM  

Three-quarters medium, SW hard. HTG Balneotherapy but once I did the SW corner fell rapidly. Hand up for CASKS and for not liking EX-ALLY. Or BOOYA, though that's at least fun.

AMARE is in almost the first lesson in HS Latin, or was in my HS. I think it is pretty well known if you took any Latin at all. Coming right below Junior SEAU, though, I can see why the clue wasn't the NBA star. Would have howls from some quarters....

Had DRE for the rapper. Shows how out of touch I am.

Is a NENE really rare? Apparently so, though you'd never know it from its frequency in crosswords.

Thanks, Mr. Lim. Good one.



Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Stupidest. Theme. Ever.

Elaine2 12:46 AM  

I agree with Anonymous about the theme -- even after Rex explained it, it didn't really make any sense!

But a lot of interesting fill -- so fun anyway.

Joseph B 12:51 AM  

Please, someone else explain this theme, because Rex's explanation was Greek to me. Walking me through one of the theme answers (and how it relates to the clue) would help.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

My only saving grace was that SON was the last three letters of the answer and TIN was one square to the left of the answer's end. LIP and TIN were each shifted one ton the left and I was able to fill those in as I had one letter for each.

jae 1:14 AM  

Medium-tough for me.  Hand up for cAsKs, but HARDCORE fixed that and ended my debate about PelE vs. ASHE.   The theme seemed a bit weird (cryptic) to me also but there was so much zippy stuff in the grid that it didn't make any difference.  So this one gets a BOOYA from me.  

And, thanks to the grandkids, PSY and Carly RAE were gimmes.

@Jos. B.  SON is half of the word NELSON so SON is HALFNELSON. LIP is part of the word ECLIPSE so it is PARTIALECLIPSE.  It helps if you have attempted to do some cryptic puzzles where this sort of clue/answer is more common.

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

Double Naticked! A Latin abbreviation crossing a play I've never heard of and a French film crossing a word I've only seen written in India, where it's spelled with an A.

Otherwise a nice themeless puzzle, since I had no idea what the theme clues were other than that they appeared in the answer.

Amelie Cisco Michaels 1:39 AM  

Totally PSY-ched by this puzzle! LOVED this!

This belongs in a Quarfoot/Wentz league of Scrabbly goodness!
Best fill I've seen in a long time to go with a clever theme.

AVENUEQ, PSY, HARDCORE, SQUEEGEE, SAARINEN, SPAMALOT, KISMET!!!!! I could go on!
OK, I will!
OMSK, BOOYA, HANDAXE, FROZE/BROZ, BEIN
(One J short of a pangram but 2QS, 2ZS, 2 XS, 3KS)

Thank god AMARE wasn't a sports clue, as this was already rife with sports:
PLAYFOR, HALFNELSON, WAX, SEAU, ASHE, and the dreaded ONAHOP/AHL, which gave me my one wrong square:
AfL/ONAfOP!!!
(OF COURSE I see now HOP= Bounce, but I just figured FOP was some weird inside baseball term I'd not heard of, like a Fosdick, or something!)

Agree with @Rex that EXALLY grows more funky the longer you look at it (and ironically describes our relationship as well, alas)
Plus I had moment to moment parallel experience of PSY. Saw him on SNL and thought "Wha?" then bombarded with parodies and media overload.
(Same with Carly RAE and that "Call me Maybe" song)

Love the AVENUEQ/EASYA and wonder if there has been a puzzle like that with phrases ending in one letter... Special K, Hi-C, OneL, Malcolm X, etc.

Been trying to figure out how to get GANGHAMSTYLE as a theme answer in an early week puzzle since it came out. GANGHAM/ Gingham is as close as I get. GANG HAM (Pig patrol?) There's gotta be something.

Anyway, totally cool puzzle.

Joseph B 1:42 AM  

Ah! Thank you, jae!

Wow, if that's indicative of a cryptic, there's no wonder I've never achieved even a toe-hold in one.

I did solve this one, but only because the answer mysteriously contained the clue.

Anoa Bob 1:44 AM  

I really like the theme. All the entries stand alone on their own merits and then they do double duty by having the first part of each entry describe how the three-letter clue for that entry fits into the second part of the entry.

SON is HALF of NELSON, TIN is a PIECE OF WRITING, etc.

I don't equate HALF and SEMI, so I don't see any theme inconsistency there. If they were synonymous, then SEMINELSON and HALFFINALS would make sense. Think SEMI gloss paint.

chefwen 2:13 AM  

Not sure what to make of this one. Liked it and hated it at the same time. The short fill was fun, the long answers were on the boring side, kind of groaners.

We have a couple of NENEs who have settled on our property for the last six months or so. They seem to be slightly confused. When I walk the dogs and pass them they look amazed at our presence and look around wondering where the rest of the flock has gone. The dogs have been jaded after killing many chickens and just ignore the Nene, thank God, as the fine for killing a Nene is $50,000 + jail time. Do I go to jail or does Skippy?

syndy 2:40 AM  

LOved it especially as I had ECLIPSE and suddenly figured out the theme.Guys if you have Casks installed I don't think Oenophile covers it!I almost tossed in avenue "J" but the wrath of Rex gave me pause.If you think of it as EX ALLY it;s maybe not so bad?

Ellen S 5:34 AM  

Less than thrilled with this one, though I kind of warmed to the theme after a while. Carly RAE Jepson again? Is she going to be a regular?
Is there some other kind of axe besides a HANDAXE?

SPAMALOT was nice to see as I had just been reminded of it while watching Monty Python's "Not the Messiah" on Christmas eve, but DNF because no idea what AVENUE_ it was, and my Latin isn't good enough (hahaha) to get it from the cross. Tried LOc first, then A, b heck with it... Never heard of the play, obviously,whatever it is.

Don't know from balneotherapy, but any therapy locale must be a SPA.
But what's with "ETES" for "quarters in Quebec"? Quarters as in seasons? Okay, but seasons in general? It's always sunny in Philadelphia and always summer in Quebec?

JackLee 6:00 AM  

@Amelie: it's GANGNAM, not GANGHAM.

Z 7:34 AM  

@Ellen S - Broad AXE

pelE and WOOD die slowed me down in the NW, but the NE took me the longest to fill. PIECE OF WRITING wasn't forthcoming, so it took KISMET for me to finally get a real toe-hold up there.

I think the theme is tighter than Rex gives it credit for: HALF and SEMI (which means half) are clued with one half of the second word. PIECE and PARTIAL are clued with less than one half of the second word, giving a definitional consistency. I think what makes it seem looser is that SEMI can also mean "partial" or "one of two." But if multiple meanings diminishes a clue we will have to ban all question mark clues from appearing.

Lots of snow here in metro Detroit. It is still in that pretty white state before the plows and salt trucks turn it brown and gray.

Danp 7:35 AM  

I'm surprised NYT solvers had trouble with the theme here. After all the clues over the years for SCHWA, SILENTE, CAPITALM, etc., this was so crosswordese. Far easier, I thought, than the "Byword" theme from Sunday.

Kris in ABCA 8:00 AM  

Hand up for trouble at the AVENUEQ/LOQ crossing. Otherwise totally enjoyable fill. Didn't get the theme till I was nearly done, but it seems fine to me.

Milford 8:44 AM  

Wow, great puzzle, but a total DNF for me, and now looking at the grid this morning I can't even remember why. I think it had something to do with BROZ and OMSK.

But I love so many if the entries, like SPAMALOT, AVENUE Q, NECCO, KISMET, SQUEEGEE, HARD CORE, and PSY! SEAU was a gimme, but a sad one.

The theme was very hard for me to get, but I loved it once I had it.

As @Z said, we are a Winter Wonderland today in Michigan. Time to take the kids sledding at the Metropark!

jackj 8:47 AM  

This is Julian Lim’s third Thursday puzzle for the NY Times and his first two are certain to be memorable to RexWorld solvers.

One was a rebus that featured the WORLD as the rebus entry (Revealed by ITSASMALLWORLDAFTERALL in the puzzle) and the other was the extraordinary homophone puzzle that had the lengthy hint to the theme included as an answer in the puzzle: EACHONEWORDCLUE INTHISPUZZLE ISAHOMOPHONE OFITSACTUALCLUE.

Today’s puzzle doesn’t quite rise to the level of those two but deucedly clever, it decidedly is, as simple three letter words use the beginning portion of each answer to provide the key to the final entry.

As an example, SON can be determined by crosses that indicate the first letters spell HALF and clever Julian finishes the answer as HALFNELSON with SON, of course, being half of NELSON. Cute and fun but not mind blowing.

For me, this puzzle was more about the fill with a favorite being “Say “hey”, say”, (which is not a clue about Willie Mays), but is a clue for ASPIRATE reminding us that it is the anti-Cockney word, meaning making the “H” sound.

Some interesting memories were triggered with the likes of SQUEEGEE, cleverly clued as “Tool with a blade” and evoking instant memories of Rudy Giuliani’s war on the SQUEEGEE men who patrolled the NY City streets badgering motorists for tributes.

A sad remembrance came with the cluing of “Junior of the N.F.L.”. Junior SEAU was one of the great linebackers to ever play football, an All American in high school and college (USC), a 10 time All Pro in the NFL and a certain inductee into the Football Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2015. Tragically, Junior committed suicide earlier this year.

IMDONE but I can’t leave without a loud BOOYA to Julian. Good one!

MetaRex 8:48 AM  

Wow. This puzzle if published in my Maleskan era would have stood out like a few square miles of the high Rockies dropped down into the Appalachians. There's no J and one G, but every other letter including Q and Z appears at least twice. All that crunchiness plus a reasonable theme (48 letters), good word count (74), good black square count (34), strong short and semi-short fill (yay for PSY, SWF, BROZ, OMSK, VOLVO, PSHAW), and good to great long non-thematic answers (cheers and double cheers for AVENUE Q, SPAMALOT, SQUEEGEE, and HARDCORE). Yes, wow.

In the LIMelight

kathy 8:50 AM  

@Amelie Cisco Michaels - Did you and Rex have some sort of falling out?

evil doug 9:16 AM  

I thought it was a hoot. 'Piece of writing' is a stretch, but the other three theme answers are at once true to the ear and vivid phrases.

Two errors: 'loc' (pronounced like 'loq'---short for 'localizer' in the flying world, a type of instrument approach---lack of Latin got me here, and why not Avenue C?); and 'pso' for 'psy'. Seen the little creep doing his dance, but no idea who he is (especially tuned him out after his anti-American rants from a few years ago got publicized---he should never have crossed the White House threshold without being shot as a terrorist).

'Squeegee' gets my nomination for fun-to-say word of the year. Another high mark for Rudy, shutting down those guys. I can do my own squeegeeing (hey! an even better word!) at the gas station.

Liked 'hand axe' and 'woodcut' being in catty-cornered slots.

My stepmother---pretty hip chick---called her Volvo 'vulva'.

Almost got hot when I thought it was going to be 'on a pop', because, like crying, there's none of that in baseball. Then I figured that, between Canada and the U.S., hockey was more likely than anything starting with a 'p'.

I thought 'pshaw' meant 'baloney', and 'fie' was more like a 'pox' on you. And 'hard core'? Well, you know where I'd go with that. It starts with a 'French kiss'....

Necco Wafers! A lot of sugar for a nickel, back in my era. Almost as good as one of those all-day suckers last month....

I'm with Eric Cartman on my view of damn hippies. 'Be-ins'---I mean, how lazy of a demonstration can you have?

Great fun,

Evil

chefbea 9:28 AM  

Took a while to get the theme but got it at 26 across. Had to google a lot and still DNF.

jberg 9:32 AM  

The first theme clue I saw was TIN, which obviously meant whatever category Taxpayer Identification Number was an example of - so I spent way too much time trying to figure that out, and even more trying to figure out SON as an acronym. I finally got PIECE OF WRITING from the crosses, but still didn't see the theme until I was nearly done.

My other main problem was thinking "another X? That can't be right!" But it all came clear at the end. Clever puzzle, and I agree the fill is great.

joho 9:38 AM  

I thought this grid was a thing of beauty. Too bad a J didn't fit because this would have been one pangram anybody but a HARDCORE pangram hater would be hardpressed to pan.

I loved the theme and found it as fresh as all the scrabbly letters I found along the way.

I didn't even look at the years at ASHE and at first wrote in ellE thinking McPherson in a swimsuit.

I'm with @Milford and @jackj in that seeing SEAU made me sad.

Even that could't dampen my enthusiasm for this remarkable puzzle. Did I love it? BOOYA!!!

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Lots of contrived / barely real theme answers this week. Today's is PIECEOFWRITING.

JC66 10:07 AM  

@ Ellen S

ice

pole

broad

executioner's

stone

razorback

et alii

Tita 10:23 AM  

Was bewildered by the theme till I read your comments - thanks!
Didn't think it was ever kosher to include the answer inthe clue. Don't do/don't like cryptics.

I did notice that the clue words walk backwards one space at a time.

We got 4 inches of SNOW, 1/2 inch of sleet last night - nothing compared to the midwest. But hard to shovel.

IVOd/ENDEd was one natick - rear-ENDEd much more of a phrase.

Likewise AVENUEc, then x, with no happy pencil. (Metaphorically - I don't get a real happy pencil...)

A bit disappointing for a Thursday - and pretty tough for me!

@chefwen - great NENE story!

Susan McConnell 10:29 AM  

Cute theme, fun fill, with the exception of the SE corner, where BEIN, INKER, & EXALLY were ugly.

Blue Stater 10:34 AM  

I still don't get "Quarters, in Quebec" = ETES. Neither does my Cassell's French-English English-French dictionary. Neither does my once-fluent command of French. Is this metaphorical, as in "quarters of the year"? Or is it from le joual? or what?

Did Not Like this puzzle. At All.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:58 AM  

@Ellen S and @Blue Stater --

ETES are summers. Each summer is one quarter of the year, so summers are quarters.

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

I got the theme early on at half nelson and it helped.
No idea who some people were like Rae, Seau, and Psy but it all worked out.
Liked the clue/answer for woodcut esp. since it was mirrored by hand axe.
Andrea and Rex are ex-allies? I must have been absent that day.

Z 11:39 AM  

Once Evil and ACME were having at it with HAND AXE and broad AXE and ice AXE, et alii. Rex yelled at the two of them. They both took brief and somewhat sporadic hiatuses from commenting.

Sparky 11:54 AM  

DNF. SE section spotty. Put PARTing in at 42A and never could rethink it. PaPa before POPS, tilER before INKER. BOOYA an ugly sound; EXALLY, yuk. ACME-QTIP.

Patience and Fortitude, as Mayor Laguardia used to say.

Ellen S 12:07 PM  

@z and @jc66: thank you. I was thinking they are all hand tools, but HAND AXE is more specific, in that one holds the blade in his hand, no handle.

@Bob Kerfuffle: sure, [all] summers are quarters, but [all] quarters are not summers. I think ETES should have been clued something like "some quarters." Perhaps that would have made the answer too easy, but upping the difficulty level with a logically incorrect clue doesn't seem quite fair.

As for LOQ, oh FIE on my feeble brain! (I'm with @Evil, one wouldn't say, "PSHAW on you") I had searched in vain for cognates (how about LOQuacious?) or any scrap of Latin (like "Res ipsa LOQuitur," which I learned from Law&Order). Now I REALIZE I could have had the answer all along.

Jill Klein 12:16 PM  

@EllenS There's also the PICKAXE.

Carola 12:20 PM  

For me, definitely not the puzzle equivalent of an EASY A. Started out strong in the romantic KISS-AMARE-AMELIE-KISMET corner but then had to chip away at the other sections with a HAND AXE. Eventually saw the theme in PIECE OF WRITING, making the other three theme entries much easier to get and giving me what I needed to make inroads into those barren white wastes, which then revealed so many pleasures - SPAMALOT, AVENUE Q, HARDCORE, SAFARI....

Thanks, Julian Lim. I like a puzzle that RACKS my brain but finally lets me say I'M DONE!

touch2touch 12:25 PM  

Booya?
Please!
Okay mostly. But fie doesn't mean pshaw! It's got some shame in there, which is more than the puzzler does. And piece of writing? Another Please!
Bain=French for bath.
But I did smile to see Spamalot!

Ellen S 12:35 PM  

Oh, and everyone yesterday, thanks for the clues on how to learn more about the constructors. This is an educational way to waste time (as opposed to watching all of Season 1 of Sons of Anarchy last night) and a nice place to spend it despite occasional spats. Are things patched between ACME and Rex? A friendship based only on an alliance seems kind of weak, and -- back to the puzzle, sort of -- I don't expect my friends to always be my allies, in every context. Someone who isn't my ally in some dispute, isn't necessarily a "Friend no more" (although I do have a friend like that, who expects me to back her in every dispute, even if I don't agree with her, or I will be a Friend No More... Until she gets over it).

Surphart 12:36 PM  

Hand up for avenueA and loA...reasoning that Mauna Loa meant mountain that speaks ...being a volcano...but Latin and Hawaiian are not related and Loa means long. Spent alot of time in the sw until I got rid of Pele and casks and saw hardcore. Fun and challenging for me:-P

Kathy 12:36 PM  

@Z - Thanks for your explanation. That's too bad. I hope things have since been smoothed over.

Masked and Anonymo2Us 12:45 PM  

Wanted SPECKOFDUST = ["U"].

John V 12:55 PM  

Hand up for AVENUEQ/LOQ crossing, which I finished with a C -- 'cause I had dinner on Avenue C a couple of weeks ago, that's why.

Least favorite fill: ASPIRATE.

Got and liked the theme just fine; made me happy as I am a complete non-starter with cryptics.

Thanks, @BobK for ETES explanation. NEVER would have gotten that. Indirection is one thing, but ... wow.

PLAYFOR took longer than it should have.

I love wine; wanted CASKS, too.

SW, hard, rest medium.

Good puzzle, nice change of pace for a Thursday, Julian/Will

JHC 2:12 PM  

Just curious: Does anybody else know IVOR Novello not from crosswords, but from Tom Lehrer?

Your lips were like wine,
And your teeth were quite yellowish.
The music was lovely,
So Ivor Novello-ish.

Jon Stine 2:23 PM  

How about some love for the other NBA player in the grid? NENE Hilario.

Lewis 3:05 PM  

@acme -- totally with you word for word. This puzzle had wonderfully tricky cluing and lots of sparkling answers.

I don't understand the confusion about the theme. And I don't see the problem with the last two theme answers which seem to me perfectly acceptable. Where's the rule that says the answers have to be strictly literal? I also thought it was cool that the clue-in-the-answer shifter over one space as the answers went downwards.

The theme helped me get 55A and open up the SE.

@Z -- excellent analysis

@acme: GANGNAM...VIETNAM...PANAM......reveal: ?

Ulrich 3:31 PM  

The round of eight in a tournament is called the "quarterfinal" and the round of four the "semifinal", which tells me that the "semi" in "semifinal" is to be understood in the sense of "half" (it's clearer even in German, where they are called, respectively, "Viertelfinale" and "Halbfinale"). Having thus removed my last objection to the theme answers, I'm ready to join the chorus of those who really liked the puzzle, for the reasons my once-and-future ally @acme has listed.

Masked and Anonymous 3:34 PM  

p.s. Understood the theme almost from the gitgo. Took a whooooole lot longer to understand 31's explanation of the theme. Sounded like he was developin' a whole new world philosophy, while he was in there. har. Like he admits, hard concept to describe in 25 words, plus 3 grunts, or less. Valiant try, tho, 31.

Darn good puz, really. Just took me til now to get over it havin' as many Qs (or Xs or Zs) as U's. Unbalanced.

Fave fillins: PSY, BROZ, BOOYA, LOQ, SWF. puzSpouse complains I sound like that when I snore.

Fave Thurs-butt-kickin' clue: Tie. Say "hey", say -- was just plain poetic. Balneotherapy locale -- was just plain uncomfortable to contemplate. Sounds like a family jewels heist.

Fave time to just unload clue: French ___. Spent half an hour of my solve time, just lingerin' on this one. Man, you could drive a dumptruck of words thru that there blank. But I digress.

Fave grid feature: Those amazing long stacks in the NE and SW. With yer long themers plowin' right into 'em. Standing Oooh. That's solid construction, Broz.

morecraft 3:45 PM  

Only mistake, Ivod for Ivor, making it rear ended. Difficult equals good in my puzzle world. Fun all the way around. Oenophiles would have wineracks not winecasks unless E A Poe did their dry wall!

Nancy 4:00 PM  

I found this puzzle incredibly difficult!! My daughter is doing it now. We'll see!!

Qvart 5:39 PM  

Hmmm...I thought I posted a comment earlier, but it's nowhere to be found. Oh well, not going to rehash it all.

I liked this puzzle: I got the theme early on and it helped some, but there really weren't any gimmes and I had to work a bit at it. Satisfying.

Faves:

Necco - reminds me of my grandfather. Definitely an old school candy (but still around).

Copland - Seems people have forgotten about this movie, but I thought it was decent and it has a great cast (DeNiro, Keitel, Stallone, Liotta, Rapaport).

Hasta mañana.

Tita 5:52 PM  

An unnamed sibling, as an altar boy, tossed in a few white Necco wafers during the communion. He then watched the faces of the unsuspecting parishioners light up...

Ellen S 7:31 PM  

I'm cheating w/a 4th post but I promise I'll dial back to 1 a day or less: @JHC, I knew Ivor Novello was an actor in silent movies before discovering he was a songwriter. I found THAT out because he was a character played by Jeremy Northam in Gosford Park, so I looked him up. He wrote "Keep the Home Fires Burning."

Notsofast 10:11 PM  

Beaucoup fun words! A nice theme. Clean. Entertaining. Thanks, JL.

miriam b 11:04 PM  

BOOYA? Boo.

sanfranman59 1:04 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:46, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 7:32, 8:37, 0.88, 14%, Easy
Wed 12:31, 11:52, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 20:13, 17:05, 1.18, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:39, 0.96, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:24, 4:57, 0.89, 13%, Easy
Wed 7:05, 6:34, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:59, 9:27, 1.16, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Dave 11:28 PM  

Severe brain damage to finish this. Sloppy clues, one of my least favorite puzzles of all time.

Or as my 13 year old says: "epic fail"

addy watson 5:22 AM  

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Spacecraft 11:22 AM  

Man, if this is only Thursday, I shudder awaiting tomorrow and Saturday. Medium! For me it was full-on challenging. A TON of stuff I didn't know, led, of course, by yet another rapper (grrr!). I managed to work through it, with no help and only four writeovers, but it was a HARDCORE solving experience.

Hand upfor cAsKS and nHL; also ONeHOP and BagS before BINS.

Didn't know the musical (obviously, Mr. Lim is a New Yorker and a playgoer), so I tested my Latin. Loquacious means wordy, so I took a chance that LOQ was myabbr. Say hey, I was right!

I still don't understand WOODCUT for "Output from an old printer." And I'm old! Anybody?

At first I thought "City west of Novosibirsk" was ridiculously obscure--I mean, hasn't everyone been to that tourist Mecca?--but with only four letters I figured either Kiev or OMSK. SENIFINALS sealed that deal.

As far as liking it goes? Well, the old brain got plenty of balneotherapy today: what's not to like? BOOYA!

Waxy in Montreal 1:39 PM  

@Space - for old printer, think really olde - medieval and later printing technique "in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood".

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Nothing from me but a big Booya to Mr. Lim. Enjoyed the gimmicks, finished the puzz with only one look-up at Wikipedia. I've done many of these types before.
Ron Diego (from Sunny Cal)

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

A very old printer would make a woodcut. he would smear it with ink and then press paper on it to transfer the ink to paper.

Waxy in Montreal 1:54 PM  

Not knowing BOOYA, the hippie BE IN could just have easily been a ME IN (although that would be better placed in yesterday's grid), a WE IN or even a HE IN. Recall sit-ins (participated in a few) very well from the sixties but not BE INs.

Otherwise, great innovative puzzle with lots to crunch on. Oh, yeah, had NECCE and LEX near 5(D)th AVENUE. Had no LOQ at all there...

Captcha=ALDINO, the Flintstone pet's variant of the condition.

Dirigonzo 4:34 PM  

I was TORN for a while. I had enough ititial success to pick up the theme at PIECEOFWRITING and completed the top half of the grid fairly quickly. The south remained mostly white for a long time and I thought I might be looking at a total DNF but eventually I got enough random letters in place to use the theme to get the long answers and suddenly IMDONE. As I look at my completed grid IREALIZE there are no write-overs anywhere, a rare accomplishment for me. So in the final analysis, did I enjoy it? BOOYA!

DMGrandma 4:53 PM  

Too many words I just didn't know. AVENUEQ, AMELIE, RAE, PSY, BOOYA, LOQ, for starters. Throw in WINEcask and ?EIN and you have a puzzle clearly out of my realm. Maybe it would have helped if I lived in New York? At any rate, once I came here and found ATEIT where I had ACTED, big chunks fell, but nowhere near enough to finish. Tommorrow is another day!

Ginger 7:02 PM  

Tough One. My baseball player fielded his grounder with ONeHOP, which made HeLFNELSON, and I stubbornly held onto that for way too long. Needed uncle Google to change that French Movie from thELIE, to AMELIE. Once that cleared up things started to fall, albeit slowly.

@Tita, funny communion story.

Enjoyed the challenge, and proud that I almost finished.

Dirigonzo 9:16 PM  

@Ginger - "...proud that I almost finished" is pretty much my mantra for Thursday to Saturday puzzles. Today was a rare exception so I'm still basking (but by no means gloating) in the glory. On to Friday!

Anonyrat 6:12 AM  

@ evil doug 9:16 AM - If you're not a fan of hippies, you should give this song a listen: "Kill The Hippies" by The Deadbeats. I think you'd like it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR6w6_x9CXA

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