Apiarist's facial display / THU 2-21-13 / Grand ungodly godlike man of fiction / Biblical hunter / Last Pope Paulo numerically / Bewitched wife familiarly / wonder Tone Loc Crowded House / Offenbach's belle nuit o nuit d'amour

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Constructor: Paul Hunsberger

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: ROUGH / AROUND THE / EDGES (32D: With 21- and 25-Down, lacking refinement ... like this puzzle's grid) — letter string "ROUGH" appears once on each side of the grid (in DROUGHT, BOROUGHS, TROUGHS, and THOROUGH)

Word of the Day: RED ALE (2D: Traditional Irish brew) —
Irish Red Ale, also known simply as Irish Ale or Red Ale, is a style of sweet, malty ale brewed by many Irish breweries. The red color comes from the use of small amounts of dark or roasted grains. Despite the name, this beer style may also be brewed as a lager. (homebrewtalk.com)
• • •

Marred for me by the completely fake answer TWO-HIT (7D: ___ wonder (Tone Loc or Crowded House, e.g.). I see that the term has some google traction, but most often as part of a larger discussion of the *real* term, "one-hit wonder." I am a Crowded House fan, so I saw the clue and went "ugh, they're calling them 'one-hit wonders' again," because I'm used to people doing that: remembering "Don't Dream It's Over" and forgetting "Something So Strong." I simply thought the clue was being very loose with the term "hit," as people who use the term "one-hit wonder" often are. No one uses the term "two-hit wonder," so it never Ever occurred to me that it could be a thing, let alone a thing that might appear in a puzzle. The fact that it's essentially a partial is just the cruddy icing on the stale cake. Also, while I love the answer BEE BEARD for the image alone, but "facial display?" (8D: Apiarist's facial display) What apiarist puts bees on his face for display? This sounds like some kind of circus trick, not something a professional apiarist would do. Weird. The puzzle as a whole represents a decent attempt to build a puzzle (here, a kind of visual pun) out of a common expression. There's not that much ickiness, but what little there is really hurts. TWO-HIT, SESTO (27A: Last Pope Paulo, numerically), and ECH (!?!) are real gut kicks. RAMA isn't helping. But most of the rest is solid.

I started Very slowly—absolutely tanking the NW before moving on to the NE, where I got some traction. Why DROUGHT didn't occur to me right off the bat at 1A: Dust Bowl phenomenon, I have no idea. Ugh. And of course once I wrote in ONE-HIT, all hope was lost up there (until the very end). Got going with  BED to EDY to BEE-something to EDUARDO (a name I know only bec. I once blew it in a crossword—then I saw "The Social Network"; now I remember) (15A: Facebook co-founder Saverin). That corner fell, but I couldn't get out (the BEARD part of BEE BEARD not being intuitive to me). Started over with MASSE in the SE (another good / common crossword word) (50A: Spin-heavy shot), and worked that corner all the way around to the center, finally hammering out ROUGH, which immediately gave me the reveal, ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES. Before I got ROUGH, I thought it was going to be something ACROSS THE something. After I got the reveal, the rest was pretty easy. SE fell fast (easy once you know ROUGH is on the edge somewhere) and then I finished in the formerly intractable NW. If not for the ROUGH I knew had to go in there, I could still very well be stuck. ULULATE helped too (4D: Howl). Rough corner—SESTO and RED ALE took some real effort.

  • 20A: "Grand, ungodly, godlike man" of fiction (AHAB) — went from "how the hell am I supposed to ...?" to "Oh, of course" pretty quickly.
  • 54A: Spin-o-___ (360-degree hockey maneuver) (RAMA) — never ever heard this. Good thing I never saw the clue.
  • 10D: Offenbach's "Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour," e.g. (DUET) — nooooo idea. Would've guessed ARIA if crosses hadn't prevented it.
  • 37D: One is named for the explorer James Ross (POLAR SEA) — Close to a gimme for me. ROSSSEA is a not-uncommon crossword answer. Three consecutive Ss makes it, let's say, useful in certain tight spots.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Evan 12:17 AM  

Same problem with ONE/TWO-HIT. I think the correct answer is more often used as a baseball reference, i.e. "Like a great game for a pitcher."

I had several write-overs -- RED before BED, ALL UP TO before ADD UP TO (very glad to have been wrong there), SIXTH before SESTO (right word, wrong language), IRON before URGE, GOES before GITS, and UNION MAN before REP. Still, I finished in a decent time for a Thursday.

Hmmm, GITS and GET (HOME) in the same puzzle....I don't really care for that. The partial HOT AS next to TWO-HIT isn't great either. This is also one of those grids where the black spaces nearly close off an entire section by themselves -- the northeast and southwest corners have only one entry into them, so it's a good thing once you figure out the theme that you know ROUGH has to be on the perimeter. Major thumbs up for BEE BEARD, SPAMBOTS, and WELL NOW as answers.

Elle54 12:20 AM  

I had TALE and TRON in the SE and did not get ECH. Glad to see Mr. Barbara Bach in the puzzle!

jae 12:21 AM  

My experience was very similar to Rex's. Tough until I caught the theme then medium.  I was stuck in the NW until I got it.  OneHIT for TWOHIT didn't help (although, unlike Rex, I never heard of Crowded House).  Also iRon for URGE and kIdEn for SIREE.

I want to thank previous puzzles for ORFF and TROI and The Social Network for EDUARDO.

Clever Thurs. theme with a bit of zip...SPAMBOTS, ULULATE, NEWT, SO WHAT, STARR, BEE BEARD, HOT AS, RED ALE... Liked it. 

FearlessKim 12:25 AM  

Where's @jae?

Like @Rex, I worked my way around the EDGES, the NW being totally opaque, with my first grip on the grid at BED/DUET/EDY/EYEWEAR, and thus the NE fell. Then a deafening silence over the entire heart of the country; working the acrosses meant not seeing the reveal, not that it would have revealed much at that point...

Luckily TPS opened up the SW, with the help of our good friend OLAF, and no thanks to RAMA, clued in a way that sounded great, but couldn't possibly be right, could it? Oh yes, it could...

Star Trek comes to our aid once again with Counselor TROI providing an opening in the SE.

Please note that I haven't yet noticed the similarity of BOROUGHS and THOROUGH, nor have I sussed out the reveal...

Happily, grappling up the diagonal towards the NW revealed the reveal, allowing me to play with ROUGH at 1A enough for DROUGHT to finally emerge (duh!) and that was it.

And the usual 2xRex on the time, which for me is a medium-challenging Thursday. And at 12:24 EST, it's time for Wednesday to finally end :) Enjoy, Rexites! I thought the puzz was just fine.

FearlessKim 12:27 AM  

took me so long to write my post that @jae beat me to it :)

thursdaysd 12:35 AM  

Could someone explain ECH, please? I had EtH, never having encountered ADAMANCE before.

Evan 12:44 AM  


ECH = Echelon.

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

proud of myself. first thu puzzle i've solved. kinda cool, sorry for patting myself on the back

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

@thursdaysd: think abbreviated form of echelon


Anonymous 1:13 AM  

I'm guessing you didn't get DROUGHT from Dust Bowl phenomenon is that the answer you expected would be a result of the dust bowl, not the cause. Why would you expect that? Because that's the way the term phenomenon works in the construct of the sentence.

Adamance Carla Matthaus 2:02 AM  

Hand up for TROn before TROI (SUlu before that! Which led to molted...so messy (MASSE) SE.

ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES is pretty fabulous, with SLOUGH as a tease!

BEEguARD beofre BEEBEARD...fabulous image!!!
MitT before NEWT... LaborREP before UNIONREP.

Interesting that all these words end in F which is tricky!!! DWARF, ORFF, OLAF.

Chatty puzzle...WELL NOW, SO WHAT? NO SIREE

I swear I'm not being contentious, but I was tickled by TWO HIT! But I already had the TW before I read the clue! It struck me as fun, hmmm who else has only had two hits? Who keeps track of that?
I'm gonna throw that one in the "lighten up!" file :)

good catch about the Beatles bleedover of Barbara BACH aka Mrs. Richard STARR.

Anonymous 2:35 AM  

Congrats to Anonymous at 12:45. Good feeling, isn't it.

Anonymous 2:43 AM  

@Anon 12:45
Me too!

@Anon 2:35

Thanks Rex


chefwen 3:09 AM  

Hand up for oneHIT, wracked my brains for a phenomenon that ended with an O. Abandoned that area and moved on to greener pastures. Fell into a medium after I continued. Slip ups were at 33A iron before URGE and 60A paul before NEWT.

NW was the last bit to be sorted out, after I got the ROUGH shtick, that too was easily fixed.

I'm very allergic to bee stings and the thought of a BEE BEARD makes me want to run away screaming. I'm all itchy just thinking about it.

Jeremy Mercer 3:28 AM  

I loved both TWO HIT and BEE BEARD. TWO HIT is a great, necessary term that is gaining traction. And, seriously, do yourself a favor: Google image search BEE BEARD - awesome, awesome stuff.

syndy 3:55 AM  

OneHIT-check.Iron-Check. I thought of REDALE early but was trying for a brand name!I was also hoping for a clip of "goody two shoes" I doubled the double of rex's time but I type slow.Catching the theme was definitely a game changer!thanks Mr Hunsberger.Good One!

Gill I. P. 5:47 AM  

WELL NOW, I liked this fine puzzle yes SIREE. RAMA didn't bother one bit and ADAMANCE sounds like something the ECH would say.
ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES was nearly my last entry but when I got it I went HO HOS...
HOHOS always remind me of the "Twinkie defense" so it's never been on my list of things to eat.
I love SLOUGH although for years I pronounced it slew. Why don't people ever correct you when you make an ass of yourself. You should have heard what I did with poor Yosemite.
Oh, and what does a TOAD have to do with knot? I always have trouble with those type of clues.
Thanks Paul, I really like your puzzle and I love your name.

loren muse smith 5:53 AM  

I had BOROUGHS and THOROUGH early and thought, simply, “Cool.” Never considered that it would be part of the theme. How tough it must have been to get those four ROUGHS around the outside like that!

“Thor” before AHAB because I was just being stupid.

“Sing” before KING, wondering grumpily where the abbr was in the clue. See above.

Really missed that hyphen, or dash, if you want, on the clue for ELITES. Morning, @AnoaBob!

@Acme-nice call on the GABby feel of some entries and the SLOUGH tease. And I went with “Sulu” first, too.

@Evan –me, too, for “sixth” first. And I also noticed the separated sections.

Since it’s a Thursday, I didn’t let myself write in “iron,” but I almost did several times.

@chefwen – I kept flirting with “tornado” for that o-final Dust Bowl Phenomenon.

@Gill I.P. – Funny!! When I was learning to read, my “Yosemite” was “mosquito.” Damn emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.

ORFF feels like a variant of “oof.”

I’m most assuredly among the rated-G-minded solvers here, but my thoughts went to the wrong place for the clue “private performances.” And it didn’t help that LAP and TOOL fell as I was pondering that one.

This kind of theme* really* floats my boat! Bravo, Paul!! If somehow the SW and NW corners could have been reworked to have “wrought” and BOROUGH – hence four ROUGHs, each with different pronunciations, I would have liked it even more.

So, I’ll say, though, aside from the hiccough at AHAB, I thoroughly enjoyed this tough one enough.

Richard 7:03 AM  

Maybe I'm being too fussy but has anyone ever said of any Beatles' song not sung by John, Paul, or George that it was sung by STARR?

Every human being refers to Ringo Starr as simply RINGO. No debate. Plus the clue "Octopus's Garden" singer in now way sets one up for using STARR instead of RINGO. One always refers to the RINGO song on a Beatles album, not the STARR song.

STARR is "technically" correct since it is Ringo's last name (in stage name land) but completely wrong in usage terms.

Rant over.

webwinger 7:14 AM  

Third week in a row I’ve almost been defeated by a Thursday. Like others got hung up in the NW because of wanting one-hit, not seeing DROUGHT for a while even after cracking the theme, and trying to give Paolo an X (sexto?). What others have not mentioned, and added to my woes, was GNP—years since I’ve seen that; almost always now GDP, for reasons I’ve never quite understood. Agree yech! for ECH. Otherwise a very satisfying solve: impressed by the theme and execution. Liked that the reveal was in central downs. Agree with @lms that 4 different “ough” pronunciations would have been awesome. Lots of 4-letter first names in the last election, but NEWT unquestionably the funnest and funniest.

I’ll bet most here who are more into written than spoken language have had the experience of learning they carried erroneous pronunciation in their heads for years. (I recently embarrassed myself trying to impress a professorial friend by using “inchoate” in conversation, which I completely mangled.) Take heart, though, @Gill I. P.: “slew” is the correct pronunciation for SLOUGH used as a noun meaning “swamp”.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

I caught on to the many "oughs" in the puzzle but was slow to solve the reveal. I thought it was about the different pronunciations of ROUGH.

wordie 7:43 AM  

I remember calling something hide ee us when I was about seven years old, and my whole family laughed their heads off at me. In my family now, we usually pronounce hideous that way cuz it's fun.

I got drought right away, and, after a while, rough. But I was trying for some reason to shoehorn in there diamonds or gems in the rough. I had definitely noticed the roughs here and there. WELLNOW.

Anyone else bugged by FUND under FOUNDED?

Mohair Sam 8:10 AM  

Made the onehit/twohit mistake but quickly corrected when ADDUPTO made total sense (I love red ale, and it was gonna be GNP or GDP). Turned to my wife and said "Parker is gonna have a cow over TWOHIT wonder." Did he ever!

Very easy Thursday for us. Got STARR right away, that led to NEWT, SOWHAT, and the possibility of HOHOS - clue at 32D had only one likely answer and it fit. Add that to the gimme BOROUGHS which gave the rough theme away - and the puzz was essentially done.

Clever puzzle, but I'm in Rex's camp on the TWOHIT thing. Yuck.

jberg 8:18 AM  

I didn't know either of those bands, so TWO HIT was pure logic; also didn't know the quotation, but still wanted AHAB just on "4-letter fictional character" -- but didn't write it in (could be Tom JOAD, after all, echoing 1A) - but BEE BEARD left no doubt. And yes, lots of apiarists do show off by displaying one of those!

SPAMmerS before their BOT cousins sum UP TO before ADDing, iRon beforeo URGE.

Got to rush off to root for TEAM O (which won the last election) at 22A.

Susan McConnell 8:31 AM  

Moderately challenging, but I liked it. I once wrote a poem titled "Trompe L'Oeil" where each line ended in -ough, so it appeared to rhyme, but didn't. I'll have to see if I can find it.

DBlock 8:33 AM  

Bee beards always reminds me of the episode of the Dick Van Dyke show when Rob and Laura are awake after having bad dreams from the Twi-lo episode with Danny Thomas. As they are looking at the screen,
Laura asks, "Who is that attractive man with the beard?"

We hear the announcer (a disguised Carl Reiner's voice, I think) saying would you believe this man has thousands of bees on his face. Rob quickly changes the channel.

Another hand up for a quick solve slowed down in the NW by two-hit.

joho 9:08 AM  

Boy, this puzzle was ROUGH! :) Actually it seemed just the right amount of toughness for a
Thursday. It really helped to get the reveal as I then knew what to look for AROUNDTHEEDGES.

"Eye of NEWT, toe of TOAD." OK, so it's frog ... still I couldn't help but think of the witches' brew.

I liked it, thanks, Paul Hunsberger!

evil doug 9:13 AM  

Choir? "Chore". Chaos? "Chouse". I guess I had trouble with those 'ch' words....

Got the sealed off northeast quadrant fairly quickly, but my inability to finish the only link of 'bee-----' froze me there from further crosswording. So I played the same game in the opposite corner, with the difference being a quick solve of 'union rep' that opened some doors in the midlands and eventually the NW-SE thROUGHway.

'ONE hit WONder' has such a nice tonal quality that 'two' lacks. Besides, if two is legit, why not three? or four? Bah. If artists get even a couple of successes in this day and age, let 'em enjoy it without the disparagement. They can't all be the Beatles....

Speaking of which: Good point above on 'Starr'. It's Ringo. (btw, Tony Sheridan---who sang lead on some tracks with early Beatles members---died the other day.)

WONDERed if there was such a thing as a 'rED oyster' to go with 'rED rose'. Irish 'RED ale' eliminated that option.

You can put 'rama' anywhere you want, and I'll like it. Bowl-a-? Skate-a-? Wash-a-? Shop-a-? Gotta love rama....


Z 9:16 AM  

THOROUGH was my first theme word, then TROUGHS, which then gave me the revealer. The north took a little work with one-HIT and complete, willful, ignorance of all things Facebook slowing me down. Thinking Pope Paulo was the XXIIIrd Paulist didn't help. I wrote in -ROUGHo at 1A and the clouds finally opened up for me.

GNP is based on ownership, so a Ford made in Canada might be considered part of US GNP while a Toyota made in Tennessee would not. GDP is based on geography, so that Toyota is now part of US GDP while the Ford isn't. How GNP accounts for Chrysler products is beyond me.

jackj 9:30 AM  

With only three NY Times puzzles from Paul Hunsberger before today’s he is hardly a household name but if you’ve done Times puzzles over the past three years, you’ll likely remember his work.

His most recent puzzle was a Sunday with a theme that flipped the “N” in a phrase on its side to make a “Z”, giving us, for example, “Scraping kitchen gadget with nothing in it?” for EMPTY ZESTER.

Today we’re treated to a charming, clever, ROUGH AROUNDTHE EDGES theme that, as promised in the reveal, places four words containing “ROUGH” on the four outer EDGES of the grid, (but without a “ROUGH” sounding “OUGH” in the bunch).

There were fifteen words in this puzzle that were NY Times debut entries including all four of the ROUGH theme answers, the tricky ADAMANCE, the wonderful imagery of a playful apiarist sporting a BEEBEARD and the clucking WELLNOW that recalls Dana Carvey’s patented Church Lady character.

Also helping to make this puzzle as lively as any in recent memory, we have beauties like ULULATE, SPAMBOTS, a theme wannabe of SLOUGH, (finally, an OUGH that rhymes with ROUGH) and a bit of teen-age nonchalance (insolence?) as in SOWHAT.

(There didn’t seem to be any crossword “dreck” in the puzzle unless one doesn’t like the TPS entry, but there is one nit to pick and that is NEWT Gingrich’s first name is NEWTON).

No matter, what a triumphant achievement from Paul Hunsberger; may he bring us another of his unique creations soon!

Sir Hillary 9:38 AM  

Not a fan of TWOHIT, but any mention of Crowded House (fronted by Neil Finn) reminds me of "I Got You", one of the best pop songs of the 1980s from Finn's previous band Split Enz. I would love to see SPLITENZ in a puzzle!

chefbea 9:55 AM  

Too tough for me. Had to google a lot and still DNF.

Wasn't toad a bleed over?? And I definitely not have a beard!!!

chefbea 9:56 AM  

meant..do not

JFC 9:58 AM  

I am always amazed how one or two quirky answers can ruin a puzzle for Rex. Never mind the theme or how clever it is. Never mind the vast amount of good fill. Never mind the challenge. No. If an answer is outside one's domain, the puzzle fails. One hit wonders are easy to find. Two hit wonders are more of a challenge. But pity the three hit wonder who never sees a fourth....


RI Squasher 9:59 AM  

Not related to today's puzzle but Dan Lewis' daily "Now I Know" email was crossword related today. The main entry is about a constructor in England during WWII who used code words for the Normandy invasion in a few puzzles in May of 1944 (he also did something similar before a mission in 1942). He was suspected of trying to tip off the Germans.

There's also a note about Swedish crosswords, called Schwedenrätsel, which embed the clues in the puzzle.

Check it out- http://nowiknow.com/cross-words/

JFC 10:06 AM  

@Chefwen, I trust you noted 56D. Used him as my avatar today on WP. One of the very few Packers that I actually like (but don't ask me why because I don't know)....


Sandy K 10:12 AM  

Did not have as much annoyance or trouble as Rex seems to indicate- altho it took me much longer to finish.

Got the theme at BOROUGHS, since I live in one of them...

Obviously, first thought was oneHIT wonder, but being a Thursday, I held off, until DROUGHT confirmed it was TWOHIT.

Guess I was stupid too, @Loren- my first guess was Thor also. : )

ECH didn't bother me today. Not after all the fuss about BEV!

Really liked the ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES theme! Clever, fun puzzle!

Milford 10:14 AM  

Challenging Thursday, much the same hold-ups here with the whole NW, the one-HIT, iron before URGE. The one-HIT entry struck me as wrong though, not because of Crowded House, but because Tone-Loc had "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing" as hits.

@lms - I also had tHor before AHAB, and I thought it was a pretty good answer!

@Gill I.P. - what @webwinger said about SLOUGH is true, so you weren't always wrong! :) I learned the swamp meaning for SLOUGH ("slew") from the Little House books.

New word learned today: MASSE is a pool shot.

Nice Thursday workout!

Mr. Benson 10:14 AM  

Sir Hillary - I've definitely seen SPLITENZ in the crossword before. I think there was a video for "Dirty Creature" posted on this blog, if I recall correctly.

Also, today I learned there was such a thing as a Crowded House fan.

Carola 10:19 AM  

Verrry nice! Neat theme, so many lovely entries. Like others, I had to leave a barren NW behind and start in the NW (with BEE BEARD). Worked the EDGES, thinking, "Gee, a lot of nice -OUGH words." Heading into the center, I ERRed by misinterpreting the reveal clues and thinking ROUGH was going to be the last word in the phrase. Eventually got things turned around. Fun all the way.

@joho - Same thought about yesterday's TOAD reappearing with a NEWT companion, fit for the brew :) A TOAD does figure as an ingredient (@The Bard, I hope I'm not stealing your thunder):

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Macbeth, IV, 1

Bob Kerfuffle 10:23 AM  

My first thought at 1 A was DROUGHT, but I hesitated a long time before putting it in because I was also convinced that 2D would have to be POTEEN.

Must stop metaphorically sandpapering my fingertips in crossword terms. As soon as I saw 52 D, SLOUGH, (as cited by ACME et al) I was sure it would come in for criticism as non-thematic use of OUGH.

@Gill I. P. -- For future crossword use, commit this list to memory!

B Donohue 10:25 AM  

SW then NE fell quickly and then I was stumped for the longest time. Eventually got the SE (cheated when I checked an answer and was corrected to SRO) and then the NW to finish the puzzle. HASHOUT was very difficult.

I learned a few good words today: MASSE shot, REDALE, ORFF.

B Donohue 10:25 AM  

SW then NE fell quickly and then I was stumped for the longest time. Eventually got the SE (cheated when I checked an answer and was corrected to SRO) and then the NW to finish the puzzle. HASHOUT was very difficult.

I learned a few good words today: MASSE shot, REDALE, ORFF.

Jeffrey 10:26 AM  

Canadians of a certain age will remember Danny Gallivan on Hockey Night In Canada describing a (Serge) Savardian-Spin-O-Rama, named after the Hall-Of-Fame defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens.

joho 10:35 AM  

@carola ... I thought there was a TOAD in there ... thanks!

MetaRex 10:36 AM  

I like! For me, it was roughest in the middle...overall, it beat me up in a pleasant fashion. Got no traction in the NW, impaired like many of us by going w/ ONE-HIT instead of TWO-HIT for the immortal Tone-Loc and Crowded House...finally cleaned up the NW and was left w/ only the ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES patch in the center, which yielded after putting up a good resistance...that area was fabulously bollixed up for a good while thanx to guessing TERN instead of TOAD for critters that come in knots and IRON instead of URGE for press. A satisfying slow-side solving experience...

DJG 10:54 AM  

"Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing". Perhaps I'm more familiar with the oeuvre of Tone Loc than most people, but I dropped down TWOHIT without hesitation.

By the way, does "Like some baseball shutouts" make TWOHIT seem less fake, more fake, or of equal fakiness?

Notsofast 10:58 AM  

Now, THAT'S a Thursday! What a sweet puzzle! Great cluing. Great words. Clever. Loved "GITS" and "SPAMBOTS" especially. Props to P.H.! A

nanpilla 11:00 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Wow! That is quite a list. I went up to the Everglades on Sunday with a group of friends to take a guided tour called a Slough Slog. We had a discussion on our way up on how to pronounce it. I was proud of myself that I was the only one who had it right. Now I find out I was also wrong, but not for this case.
We saw:

A congregation of Alligators (it was Sunday, after all)
A rabble of butterflies
A gulp of cormorants
a sedege of cranes
a pitiousness of doves
a kettle of hawks
a siege of herons
a mess of iguanas
a shoal of minnows
a scourge of mosquitos
a parliament of owls (actually just one large barred owl)
a pod of pelicans
a mustering of storks
a bale of turtles

Who knew?!?

mac 11:18 AM  

Very good puzzle, medium-challenging to me but no help except for an hour of Pilates before I finished the NW.

Uma and Orff started me off, and I built from there. Adamance came easily, but I don't think I've ever seen it. I thought of borough before it showed up in the NE, the reveal made a big difference.

Nice one!

mac 11:20 AM  

@Nanpilla and Bob Kerfuffle, thanks for that!

Ellen S 11:26 AM  

I loved it just because I could see it! Had cataract surgery in both eyes Tuesday morning, and did this puz w/o glasses last night. Couldn't get any answers on the whole top half (should I complain to the surgeon?) but worked my way up from the bottom and finished with no cheating and no Googling. Thank you Mr. Hunsberger for a fine puzzle, and Dr. Kidwell for fine new eyes to solve it with.

I thought the theme was a lot of fun, but heck, being able to see is such a novelty that even UMA Thurman was a welcome sight, and Paolo SESTO, well looky, a Random Foreign Number instead of a RRN, yay!

@Bob Kerfuffle thanks for the list of collectives. I thought it particularly interesting that there's a name for 12 or more wild boars, but fewer than that are apparently just a generic group. Or maybe they don't congregate in groups of fewer than 12?

OldActor 11:37 AM  

You say Carmeena and I say Carmahna.

You say Bireena and I say Birahna.

Carmeena, Carmahna,
Bireena, Birahna,

Let's call the whole thing Orff.

Gill I. P. 11:43 AM  

@webwinger: I'm always frustrated by my inchoate state with regards to pronounciations.
After reading your post, I looked it up (which I should have done to begin with) and now I don't feel like an eejiot. However, now I'll have to pause each time and try to remember which SLOUGH we are talking about.
@wordie: Hee hee!
@B Kerfuffle. Just goes to show you how difficult it is to try and learn this here language! Thanks for that list; I had fun with it.
Do you know Swine: doylt ????
@nanpilla: I too made a list of what I think someone should use in a crossword:
Draught of fish
Dray of squirrels
Down of hares
Dole of doves.
I wonder if any ESL teacher EVER tries to teach collective nouns...

quilter1 11:52 AM  

Late start today. I solved from the bottom up and it went well until the NW where oneHIT messed me up for awhile. Also didn't know the Italian number, but it all worked out in the end. I didn't like TWOHIT at all. We are supposed to get 8 inches of snow today starting in about an hour, but the sky looks bright to me. We shall see.

bad hair day 11:53 AM  

This was a great Thursday for me. No googling. I just seemed to tune in on the cluing. Something told me iRon was not the right answer and I waited until URGE appeared. I guessed correctly the two letters I wasn't sure of and finished with no errors! Sure, it took me a little over half an hour but I'm not complaining.
Happy for you, Anonymous @ 12:45 am.
Now if I could only learn how to upload my avatar... Need a teenager around the house. Mine off to college a couple of years ago.

ooh! my capcha is almost theme related - adhough

Carola 11:54 AM  

@wordie - Similar to "hide ee us": as a grade-schooler my daughter read "misled" in a book and assumed it was pronounced "MYzzled" (the past tense of "to misle" :) ). We still enjoy telling each other we've been myzzled.

orangeblossomspecial 12:01 PM  

Jeremy @ 3:28 is correct about BEE BEARD competitions. Take a look. At first I thought it was bee guard, but that didn't work.

And I have no idea who Tone Loc or Crowded House are, so have no idea how many hits they had. Rex and I are from different generations.

loren muse smith 12:03 PM  

@Milford and Sandy K – I feel better about using Thor first but horrified that I’ve now implied y’all are stupid! When it comes to things literary or mythological, I get all insecure, nervous, and wobbly. Sorry!

@Bob Kerfuffle – that happens to me a lot – expect the constructor to get a hand slap for something, only to see that the experts liked it! I totally thought David Wilk would get points off for HRS in that H&R BLOCK puzzle, and I thought I still didn’t understand a lot because I had actually liked that touch.

I haven’t had time but to look superficially, but I’m confused now about the word SLOUGH. It rhymes with “crew?”

Bob Kerfuffle 12:04 PM  

To anyone interested in collective terms: Truth is, everything I know about this subject I learned from the book An Exultation of Larks. (If you go to this page, it's worth clicking on the first review.)

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

@jackj comment about Dana Carvey and Church Lady saying "Well Now" - Remember who said "Verrry Interesting? The old man Arte Johnson on Laugh In!

Lurker in Olympia, WA

Bill 12:22 PM  

Similar to DJG, though not as instant, I looked at the clue and said, "Oh come on, are you telling me that Funky Cold Medina wasn't a hit?" decided that couldn't possibly be the case, and wrote in TWOHIT.

I totally disagree with Rex, as I appreciated the creative swerve. Even if two-hit wonder isn't a real thing, the cluing makes it real, which I celebrate rather than bash.

Tita 12:38 PM  

Finished! Kind of fun, in spite of the icky stuff @Rex mentions.
Love ULULATE. A word that deserves much more usage. And probably caused many ULULATions from one Rexvillian in particular...

oneHIT, aria, iRon, ___guARD...

Surprised Rex didn't gripe about missing the opportunity to have all the different 'OUGH' sounds that URGE non-native speakers to say ECH. Oh - LMS already said so...
@Susan - pls find that poem!

or that SL[OUGH] is an awkward outlier...

BEEBEARD is a thing? Why?

@Gill - some wordies got together, and after much drinking, started naming groups of animals...
That's why we have a murder of crows and other wacky collective nouns (as per Bob K).

In fact, when I finally realized what it was, I was anticipating a great discussion about the phenomenon here - I am not disappointed!

Sandy K 12:52 PM  


Please don't feel bad- I thought it was funny. I wasn't Thor about it.

Charley 12:55 PM  

Never heard of the musical groups. Ok, I'm old. But bee beard? Get outta here.

Masked and Anonymo11Us 1:09 PM  

Har. Ching, ching. Eleven U's. M&A likes the roUgh stUff.

Had to trudge down to the SE to get a firm grip. Had EDY and TOAD and ORFF and not much else, except a couple of bald-ass bad guesses, up top. The crucial middle section just would not give up squat, so the theme remained a secret.

Eventually, upswells from the SE allowed me to breach that there ROUGH entry, and then down came the whole sheebang. See Old Speedy 31 did it in 8:09 -- lookin' tournament Sharp. May be calling him Old #22, soon -- if he doesn't eat at that same choke n puke restaurant. My advice: bring yer own supply of cheez whiz and crackers, this time around.

Admire the theme idea and all the wide-open corner areas. Puz number 4 for this constructor; no two-hit wonder, he. thUmbsUp. Fave entry: GITS. Honorable mention to the TWOHIT jobber, tho.

Carola 1:27 PM  

@loren - SLOUGH rhymes with "slew" (US) and "plow" (UK, I believe, as in John Bunyan's "Slough of Despond" in Pilgrim's Progress), and then "sluff" when you're shedding. Versitile word!

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

@C.Ross Word - Simon and Garfunkel and James Taylor do not perform "rock" songs. They might be "pop" or something else, definitely not ROCK!

M and A Wonder and a-Twoer 1:46 PM  

p.s. @Tita: Agree. Grids need lots more UlUlating... @Ellen S: Agree. Uma always a welcome sight. Heal up good... @DJG: Kuhn insight, on going with MLB TWOHITTer... @Gill I.P.: Primo theme idea. My personal fave = Crash of rhinos. Maybe could even introduce new grouping concepts, like Closet of Muumuus...

@31: Another money writeup. And on a ThursPuz, when you got so little free time. Even had the Bullets. Methinks this puz got you more excited than you care to let on. In which case, I agree.

dk 1:57 PM  

Thought it was a Wednesday puzzle.

See TOAD think O Brother Where Art Thou.

⛳⛳ (TWOHIT Thursday)

loren muse smith 1:57 PM  

@Sandy K - Whew.

@Gill I.P. - I second M&A - great puzzle idea! I taught ESL but beyond going over animal noises (and insisting that our American versions are in fact the correct ones), I never covered groups.

Other than the group of those two or three- toed animals. . a bed of SLOUGHS. ;-)

Bird 2:18 PM  

Not quite the gimmick I was looking for, but a decent puzzle nonetheless. I didn’t even notice the multiple ROUGHs in the grid until I solved the revealer. Write-overs include TILL before FUND, IRON before URGE, GDP before GNP and ONEHIT before TWOHIT (hand up for not liking this answer at all). I needed to leave the last letter of 46A blank until I got 47D because I didn’t know how Mr. Hunsberger chose to spell the Saint’s name.

And now I find that I DNF because I had SESTa/aRFF. Damn!

More plurals today – ELITES cannot be legit.
At least 27A was not a RRN.
ECH is icky.
ULULATE and BEE BEARD are nice.

@Richard – Good point
@ED – years ago we had a Drug-A-Rama (pharmacy) in our town


Milford 2:55 PM  

@loren - no worries here, either, I was just happy someone else thought if it, too! :) Is the slew/sluff stuff making sense yet?

@Gill IP et al. - I remember reading the word "naive" and pronouncing it "knave" in my head for many, many years.

Lewis 2:58 PM  

M&A -- I count 11 U's. U must be in heaven.

It was a clever theme, and two-hit wonder certainly didn't sour it for me. It made me smile, as one-hit wonder does, just a cute variation. I'm thinking Paul was forced into using it, with no way around it, and hoped it would slide by. It didn't. But again, it didn't spoil my solve. A good portion of fun in this puzzle! Thank you Paul.

On a technical note. I'm trying to get my avatar on my posts; I do have a Google profile. Someone yesterday suggested that I check the box that allows all to see the picture, but I can't find that box. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance...

retired_chemist 3:11 PM  

Being sure of DROUGHT, confirmed by ULULATE (one of my favorite words to say) saved me from the ONE HIT trap. MASSE was a gimme - played a lot of pool in my salad days.

BEE BEARD - marvelous, as an answer and as an activity. Made my day.

Enjoyed the collective nouns - personal favorite: a collection of streetwalkers = an anthology of pros.

SIXTO instead of SESTO didn't last long. ESAU as a guess did. Ditto EDUARDO from the ED*. Can't look at TE AMO without wanting to parse it as TEAM O. The O, of course, stands for OLAF and the team is a bunch of Norwegian somethings (Skiers? Lutefisk makers?).

NIce one, Mr. Hunsberger. Thanks.

retired_chemist 3:12 PM  

Also my captchas are only coming sporadically. Anyone else have this problem?

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

As a Chicago Blackhawks fan, I'm familiar with Patrick Kane's spin-o-rama moves. One-hit got me too. I was trying the word derecho as the Dust Bowl phenom (thanks, Tom Skilling!). Once I got drought the NW corner went quickly. Fun puzzle!

David 3:41 PM  

Anonymous @3:25, I hope you are also familiar with the spin-o-rama moves of the great Blackhawks legend Denis Savard!

sanfranman59 3:48 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 18:04, 17:02, 1.06, 64%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:16, 9:57, 1.03, 55%, Medium

Gill I. P. 3:51 PM  

@Loren: Wow - as in quack quack, oink oink, moo moo? I think the turtel goes nerp nerp...
@B Kerfuffle - you've made my day!!What a fun book to buy.
Learned lots today and "inchoate" is now my favorite word to pronounce. Always funny as can be when a 7 year old mispronounces a word. When you're, say, in your 40's, you kinda come across as a moron :(
@lewis - I'm probably the least knowlegable computer person on this blog since everything I've learned is thru trial and error but, here goes.
Open your blog and go up to "Edit Profile." Then go to "Profile Photo." click on either from your computer or from the web. I always use from "my computer" then I hit "Browse. I go to my photos and click on an avator du jour. Go back to your blog and a little "wheelie" will go around and around and eventually voila...your new avatar.
I'm sure there are better ways to splain this but, give a whirl

Z 3:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sparky 3:55 PM  

Popped in porter and arias so off on wrong track. Jumped to South and managed somehow. Had iron, enmass. After THOROUGH and TROUGHS, was still trying to see the ROUGH shape of a diamond. Bit by bit it filled in. 1A had to end in O, until it didn't and that turned the tide because by then I knew I had to find another ROUGH in there. Limped to the finish line. Alas, erased the CE in ADAMANCE for t--, so DNF.

Thanks @thursdaysd for asking and @Evan for explaining ECH. Glad surgery went well @ELLEN S. @BobK, we can always count on you.

Quite a struggle for me today but it was worth it. Fun comments, too.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

Sigh. I always check in to see if I got everything right, but lately I'm beginning to tire of your facetious complaints. I don't actually recall you complimenting a puzzle. Can't you try to be a little more pleasant?

jackj 4:36 PM  

With the confusion over the pronunciation of “ough” brought on by “slough” and its various cousins used in this puzzle, we might remember the spelling of “FISH” (that may or may not have been posed by George Bernard Shaw).

The proper spelling of “FISH” was said to be "GHOTI", arising by the use of the “gh” sound from “rough”, the “o” sound from “women” and the “ti” sound from “action”.

Ah, the things that make English so much fun.

Nameless 4:39 PM  

Like the puzzle.
Love the comments.
Gaffes with ONE-HIT, IRON and GDP

So what is a group of Crossword Puzzle Solvers? A grid?

M and A's Last Silver Ammo Belt 5:17 PM  

@Nameless: Oooh! List time! Thanx U.

A group of crossword solvers, top ten suggestions:
10. An evil sparky masked retired acme.
9. A toad of knuts.
8. A box of squares.
7. A shortz list.
6. A smattering of smarties.
5. A nat-tick of nitpickers.
4. A non-Palin drum.
3. An acpt.
2. A google-plex.
1. A cross down.

Lewis 5:27 PM  

@gill -- thank you so much for helping! The issue isn't that I don't have an avatar, it's just that it doesn't show up here. I haven't been able to fix that. I tried your suggestions, but unless my avatar is on this post, it still isn't working... but thank you again for your efforts!

Gill I. P. 5:44 PM  

@Lewis :-(
We need @Glitch to pop back in !!
Cuatro y afuera....

Nigel 6:09 PM  

I started out with TORNADOS in the NW, so ONEHIT fit right in, which meant that the corner remained unsolved until everything else was done. Finally saw the light when I figured out ADDUPTO. Spin-o-RAMA was a gimme for me - what else could it be? And because I had HOP, I immediately got TOAD. Liked the clue and the answer for USOTOUR. Realized early on that ROUGH was part of the theme and that helped me over my URGE to use IRON in that area. I like this puzzle - enjoyed it a lot even if I did miss ECH - sorry, I have never seen that as an abbreviation for echelon.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

Since several solvers found the interior parts of the puzzle easier, couldn't you say that it was literally "rough around the edges"?

Nigel 6:38 PM  

For those who think SLOUGH is pronounced sluff - you are right it you are talking about what a snake does when it sloughs off its skin. But it's slew when it's a slough - a small often muddy water hole. And the Slough of Despond in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is never a Sluff of Despond.
BTW, thanks to those who told me that the number in the capcha can be any two digit number - I am also using 42 - after all, it is the answer to The Ultimate Question in Douglas Adam's Life, The Universe and Everything.

chefbea 6:41 PM  

@M and A how bout a bunch of Beas or whatever

Tita 7:52 PM  

@chef bea...how about
A beard of beas...

@m@a...hilarious...I think rec should post a poll and we should vote.

42 opponsur

LaneB 8:04 PM  

Surprise, surprise! I nailed a Thursday puzzle with only one erasure--I had PITCH for a "spinning shot" but finally saw and felt MASSE. The rest fell into place once I figured out that ROUGH could be found around all the edges. Made my day since my Thursday record is strewn with DNFs.

Acme 8:26 PM  

@m & a last silver...
Esp the nat/nit balance and rhyme of tick / pick
Plus appropriateness to this blog... Absolutely brilliant!!!

And I'm also loving @oldactor's ORFF song!!!

Comments worthy of wonderful puzzle today, no?

(and yay @EllenS!!! I can't think of anythimg scarier (in my life) than losing my eyesight! Full speedy recovery!

@lurker in Olympia, WA 12:18
I know! I saw "verrrry interesting" and wanted to put in "but stupid!"
One used to see ARTE Johnson in every TV Guide puzzle I ever made.

My grandpa said "mizled" into his 80s and we never corrected him...
I'm afraid to say "nonplussed" outloud, and can never remember it's proper meaning after having used it backwards for umpteen years, but can't remember which it is...plussed or plooozed...unflappable or confused.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

Shouldn't "Enterprise" have been italicized --
ship name and all?

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

All that time watching Hockey Night in Canada has paid off - spin o rama was the one place I didn't get stuck.


mac 10:02 PM  

Slough, rhymes with plow, is a town close to Heathrow.

sanfranman59 12:05 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, 6:07, 0.94, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:45, 8:23, 0.92, 24%, Easy-Medium
Wed 12:23, 11:52, 1.04, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 18:04, 17:02, 1.06, 64%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:39, 0.98, 33%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:37, 4:52, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
Wed 7:28, 6:34, 1.14, 84%, Challenging
Thu 9:55, 9:55, 1.00, 48%, Medium

D. Bruce Brown 2:26 PM  

Please familiarize yourself with "Belle Nuit... ". It is possibly the most beautiful aria in all of opera. It also supplies an aesthetic ending to the very un-aesthetic movie "Margaret".

Spacecraft 10:24 AM  

@Richard: When I start trying to shoehorn myself into a late-week puzzle, I look for plurals in clues, then see if the "S" fits the other way. Not foolproof, of course, but in this case, 55a is "Commercial snack cakeS" (emphasis mine), so STARR went in without a second thought. I do agree, we of that era are used to calling those boys by first name--but this is the NYT puzzle. Allowances must be made.

Ah yes. That's the trouble with themes of this type: you might find it a bit "rough" getting a foothold--until you grok the theme. And then, the puzzle just spreads its legs like a ten-dollar ho and you can't write fast enough.

I liked it, though. I wanted, like many others, "one-HIT" but held off, only because I can think of so many great true one-hitters that could have been used there in the clue--and because, heh heh, this IS the NYT, and...allowances must be made. I got in, strangely enough, with a theme word: THOROUGH. Didn't know then, of course. The SW fleshed out, then thru UNIONREP to NEWT and STARR to SRO and ARRANGE, and the SE. As soon as I saw TROUGHS the jig was up. So, medium-easy, in that order.

Solving in Seattle 3:01 PM  

I think my favorite is a murder of crows. We have a murder of them where I play golf and you'd better watch your hot dog, peanuts, etc., or they'll get it before your turn around and hit your shot.

@Spacecraft, Verrry interesting analogue comparing a CW puz and a $10 ho.

I had iceshelf before POLARSEA, and got naticked in the SE with TAKe vs. TALL; TROn vs. TROI. So, DNF. Otherwise, a fun Thursday.

Good job Paul, even th(r)ough I take issue with the cluing of ELITES 53D with "In groups" as more than a stretch.

capcha: ecodyna - an environmentally friendly restaurant?

rain forest 3:27 PM  

The original two-hit wonder of my youth was Buddy Knox, who put out Party Girl which reached number 1, and the flip side of that disc, Hula Love, which might also have reached number 1. Never heard from him again. Spin-o-RAMA also comes from the old days, a term coined by Danny Gallivan during his telecasts of Montreal Canadiens' hockey games. Getting DROUGHT,THOROUGH and BOROUGHS early really helped, and I just thought it all ADDED UP TO a great puzzle.

Dirigonzo 3:52 PM  

For the second day in a row I needed help getting into the NW corner and again the theme came to the rescue. I sailed through the rest of the grid pretty quickly; loved the clue for USOTOUR.

@Spacecraft - there are two of them in the grid at 55a (seems like they should have been on a corner, though).

@SiS - your captcha would definitely work down east. Finest kind!

Looking forward to @Waxy's spin on spin-o-RAMA.

Solving in Seattle 4:10 PM  

@Diri, and they are right over NEWT, too.

DMGrandma 4:32 PM  

I find I'm not the only one that struggled with the NW corner, partly held up by madAS. Once I switched that, things fell. My other slow spot was the SE where I eventually had to change from my kimONo into a SARONG, and replace Mr. Klugman with Mr. MATTHAU. I have always hopelessly been unable to remember which was which, probably based on them both being excellent Oscars.

@Diri. Couldn't see the moon last night, but our sky seems clearer today, so maybe a peak at a near-full tonight.

Ginger 7:34 PM  

Soon after moving to the Pacific NW I saw a sign on a bridge indicating it was a SLOUGH. In my head I thought 'sluff', funny name for a river. There are many SLOUGHS (pronounced 'slew') in the area and I've come to think of it as a geographic term for a bayou or estuary. They are rich in shore birds, ospreys, ducks etc.

Didn't have the oneHIT problem because I had no idea what Tone Loc or Crowded House was, but the crosses saved me. Mixed up my sports too, wanted MAShy, thinking golf instead of pool. The afore mentioned SLOUGH fixed that little nit.

All is well, ADDEDUPTO a fun, somewhat challenging, Thursday.

strayling 8:17 PM  

I eventually pummeled the NE into submission, but my fond memories of POTEEN sabotaged my foray into the NW reaches of this puzzle. Also, I didn't expect a working knowledge of Spanish to be required. Ok; if I must, I must.

Dirigonzo 8:50 PM  

@strayling - "...but my fond memories of POTEEN sabotaged my foray into the NW reaches of this puzzle." It sounds like there is an interesting story behind that comment - perhaps as time goes on you will share some of it with us? And yes, for late week puzzles a working knowledge of basic phrases in Spanish, French, German, sometimes Italian, occasionally Japanese and (rarely) Chinese or possibly Arabic can be useful - since I know none of these I have to rely on the crosses to finish the puzzle (but if a pop culture answer is required, I'm screwed).

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